Chapter 17: Cao Cao
“You, stay quiet!” the larger snake hissed at Xu Min. As the young man was feeling somewhat uncomfortable about having a one-meter-long snake curled atop of his shoulder, the snake looked at him with a very curious gleam in its eyes.
The young man did not dare to disobey the big snake, so he stayed quiet. He constantly felt the snake on his shoulder move about. He investigated everything from his feet and shoes to the insides of his clothes. It even went as far as to personally investigate his skin beneath the clothes. This caused the intimidated and frightened young man to tremble even further as he was scared as to what the snake might do.
The larger snake was casually lying on top of a branch of the tree and it seemed as though the two snakes communicated much as they had before. This was something that took Xu Min by complete surprise. He had never imagined that a tree could communicate.
Although he considered it as communication, he could not help but wonder about how it was done. No words were said, but from time to time the snake would nod or shake its head. Its tongue was constantly slithering and its eyes focused solely on the tree in front of it.
After what seemed like an eternity, anger could be seen in the eyes of the snake. However, it did not take long before the anger was replaced by tenderness and apology. Once more, the conversation seemed to continue.
Xu Min had been standing close to the tree for hours on end. And while he was standing there, the small snake had investigated the young man’s entire body. After a while, it had finally found the small bag on his waist where he entered and curled up into it. It only allowing for his face to be visible.
After yet another hour, the snake suddenly made its way down to the young boy. Looking at him, the snake sighed deeply.
“You, human!” he called out. Without wasting time, Xu Min stepped forward. “My son, Cao Cao, has been itching for an adventure for a long, long time,” he started while looking at the sleeping snakehead that was visible on the satchel.
“You are to take him with you on your journey,and you are to have personal responsibility over him,” the snake continued, “You are to make a blood bond with my adorable son just to give some authority over him. If you ever mistreat him or sell him off, you will soon find yourself dead. I won’t need to act as my dear son is strong enough to get rid of someone with the useless rank of a One-Star Warrior.”
Hearing this, Xu Min felt a shiver run down his spine. He quickly nodded in reply as he bit his finger and allowed for some blood to drip out.
The large snake suddenly slashed the forehead of the tiny snake. Within moments, the snake woke up and let out an alarmed scream. Seeing the actions of the larger snake, Xu Min’s heart grew cold. He previously called the baby snake his dear son. But now he had sliced him, something which could have been done in a much simpler way.
Daring not to say anything, Xu Min stayed quiet as he allowed their blood to mingle. A weird feeling filled the young boy as he felt as though some of his soul was sucked into the beast in his bag. In return, he gained a little bit of the snake’s soul.
‘It hurts, it hurts, it hurts!’ A juvenile voice echoed throughout Xu Min’s consciousness. It was a voice filled with indignation. It sounded as though the voice came from a ten year old child.
Hearing the voice, Xu Min’s eyes widened in surprise and he was stared at the snake lying in his bag. Its eyes were closed.
“Don’t cry,” the young man said. He had forgotten completely about the large snake and the tree that was right next to him. His entire being was focused on the snake as he could feel the sadness and indignation in the heart of the snake.
Picking up the small snake, Xu Min placed it around his neck and the small snake allowed him to move him exactly as he wished.
As soon as the snake was moved from the purse, Xu Min rummaged through his satchel and quickly found a medicinal herb he recognized. With the herb, he allowed the small snake to sleep in the bag again before he shredded the herb and placed it in the mouth of the meter-long snake.
“Eat this,” he said with a tender voice. The situation made him recall how Xu Wu stole herbs to heal him. Now, he had used stolen herbs to heal someone else. Somehow, he could understand how Xu Wu felt during the times that she looked after him. A sad smile was evident on his face as he gently patted Cao Cao’s little head after he gave him the herb to eat.
Standing beside him, the tree and the snake were completely surprised. The snake’s eyes were filled with utter disbelief; however, it soon changed to laughter. Looking at the large tree, its eyes filled with tenderness as it nodded gently.
“Go out and explore the world with our little Cao Cao,” the snake said with a gentle voice. “As long as you have Cao Cao with you, you are welcome inside this valley. But if you ever arrive without him, I can guarantee that you will die an excruciating death.”
Nodding, Xu Min had already guessed that returning without the small snake would be suicidal. However, hearing his words still caused him to feel slightly worried.
The small snake had fallen asleep as though the conversation had nothing to do with him. The only thing it felt before going to sleep was that this human, who had given him herbs, was a good person. The little snake was but a child. He instantly felt safe, so he went to sleep as the medicinal herb helped the wound on his forehead heal over.
“Feel free to come here whenever you need to, but don’t take too many medicinal herbs,” the snake warned. “Although we’ll allow you to take a few, you can only fill your satchel twice a year. We need the rest of the flowers to reach the final stage.”
Hearing this, Xu Min’s eyes grew larger as he understood that he was allowed to take more medicinal herbs. He no longer felt as though he should fear the snake and the tree. With a deep bow, he turned around and picked up multiple healing herbs. Although he picked quite a few of them, he still made sure to not take more than what he could fit in his satchel.
Currently, he was incapable of placing them in the bag as the small snake was in it. He just tucked them into his robe before exiting the mysterious mist-filled valley.
Travelling through the top of the trees, Xu Min quickly found the way back home to the nest he had created earlier. On the way, he had come across another Flying Hare which he executed swiftly. This time he brought the beast with him towards the nest. As he inched towards the nest, he started to hear an uncomfortable amount of rustling leaves. This was not something done by one creature or human. It was clearly done by a whole group or a horde.
As he inched closer, he was suddenly moving much slower. His eyes were alert and his senses stretched to their limits as they observed everything around them. Feeling the change in Xu Min’s soul and vigilance, Cao Cao slowly woke up and his eyes stared into the distance. He was just as prepared as the older boy who was trying to stay cautious.
As he slowly moved closer, he noticed that the sounds did not come from the ground. Instead, it came from the nest that Xu Min had created. He soon saw a group of seven men come into the view. He instantly stood and slightly retreated.
Cao Cao’s voice sounded out within Xu Min’s mind. ‘Why retreat?’ However, the young man still did not know how to respond to the question in the snake’s mind like Cao Cao could speak in his. He did not know how to communicate without needing to open his mouth. Instead, he just shook his head as he retreated.
‘Oh right,’ a disappointed voice sounded out in his mind. ‘You are just a weakling. I could have dealt with the troublemakers if I did not have to nurture the wound on my forehead.’
Hearing the voice, Xu Min almost let out a snort only to stop himself in the final moment. Shaking his head, he started to move away from the location where he had been before. After travelling through the trees for a few more hours, he finally found a place that seemed devoid of humans. He built a small nest for the two of them to stay in. Throughout the stealthy escape, Xu Min had brought the Hare with him. After finally setting up another nest, he found more big stones and started cooking the beast.
As soon as Xu Min had brought the stones into the nest, Cao Cao had been incredibly curious as to what was happening. His eyes twinkled with curiosity as he saw how the beast was being cooked on the stones.
At first, he had only observed the procedures because he had never seen anything like it before. As the meat was getting cooked and the scent filled the air, Cao Cao started salivating. He constantly asked whether or not he was allowed to have a small bite.
Xu Min was quite worried because the scent of the cooked meat could attract the attention of others. When he looked at the small snake, he felt that the snake was in no way as weak as him. He believed that the snake would not fight for the sake of a weak human,but it would indeed fight for the food it was looking at.
Chuckling slightly, Xu Min looked at the snake whose eyes were glued to the meat. He could not help but laugh at the snake. Although he laughed at him, he spent some time looking at the rank of the snake. He was astonished to notice that the aura that it exuded was far stronger than even the Three-Star Warrior he had come across earlier.
Having shared his blood with the beast, something had happened. Xu Min felt as though he too was capable of communicating with the beast without speaking. When trying to do so, he realized that he needed to use another part of his brain he had never used while speaking naturally. It took him some time before he managed to perfect it.
During this time, the young man quickly understood that Cao Cao was getting bored. He had bought himself time by giving the young snake more and more cooked hare meat. This seemed to work perfectly well. After countless mistakes, Xu Min finally understood how to speak using nothing but his will.
Looking at the hare meat that was left, Xu Min could only sigh heavily as he found some dried meat from his satchel and ate it together with a jar of fine wine. It turned out that the entire hare had long since been eaten by the small Cao Cao.
‘You aren’t that bad,’ the snake said with a tired voice as it slithered next to Xu Min. Seeing that the human was seated with his legs crossed and his eyes closed, he noticed one speck of gold after another appearing out of nowhere. The small snake quickly coiled up on the lap of the young man and closed its eyes contently. Xu Min spent the night cultivating, much like any other night.