"F*ck, it hurts!"
Jiang Ming finally breathed a sigh of relief. He threw away the hatchet and sat on the ground, gasping for breath.
It was his first time killing someone, so it was a little daunting.
But Jiang Ming did not regret it.
"If you were still alive, you'd definitely bring me a lot of trouble. Thus, I can only ask you to sacrifice yourself for the greater good."
The wound on his chest slowly healed. Jiang Ming looked at the corpse next to him without any pity, but he had a deeper understanding of his own situation.
"If one's strength is low, then one's life is as cheap as dirt. Anyone can come and step on them."
According to his predecessor's memories, even if he had not met Old Ghost Huang today, he would have been exploited on many levels when selling this fire cloud grass and might have even brought about a bloody disaster.
He would be lucky enough to get a hundred copper coins, let alone thirty taels of silver.
"If I continue to hide like this, life will be meaningless."
There were different ways to hide.
However, Jiang Ming did not want to waste his life away in hiding.
"Only by becoming stronger can one survive more steadily. So, my first goal is to practice martial arts in secret, to become stronger and live a better life."
Jiang Ming straightened out his thoughts and made a goal. He went to the bottom of the cliff to pick up his fallen shovel, herb basket, and other items, ready to leave.
As for Old Ghost Huang's corpse, he was not too worried. In his memories, this guy had always been alone. He often went into the mountains for about a month at a stretch and rarely interacted with others, but he would always reap a lot of rewards.
By the time someone remembered him, his body would have decomposed.
"Every year, there are at least three or four herb gatherers who fall off the cliff, encounter wolves or eat poisonous mushrooms. It's not a big deal. Anyway, you're dead, and it's so hot. It was not easy to kill you, and I won't be stabbed for nothing," Jiang Ming muttered to himself. His hand had already reached out to Old Ghost Huang's body and began to grope.
There were about twenty copper coins, insect-repellent powder, and some dry rations.
"What?" Jiang Ming suddenly widened his eyes.
He found two pieces of silver, which added up to about one tael.
"He's that rich?" Jiang Ming was shocked.
Silver was not an ordinary item.
A tael of silver was equivalent to a thousand copper coins. An ordinary herb gatherer would not be able to save up that much in a few years, let alone carry it with him on the mountain.
"This guy has a secret." Jiang Ming's heart stirred, and he touched the silver carefully.
However, he did not find anything after a long time. Just as he was about to give up, he suddenly found something wrong.
On Old Ghost Huang's tattered clothes, there was an unremarkable gray-white patch. It did not feel like a piece of sackcloth but rather like a piece of high-quality animal skin.
Jiang Ming tore off the palm-sized patch and looked around.
This was a piece of a Kasaya, the traditional robes of a monk. His eyes narrowed.
The back of the patch was filled with dense, small, pitch-black characters.
Jiang Ming managed to read it roughly because his predecessor learned how to read from an old neighbor for a few days.
Jiang Ming finally understood why Old Ghost Huang was so rich and always looked like he was short of Qi and iron.
It was a prescription that used human blood as the primary medicine, but it was for animals.
After ordinary birds and beasts ate this medicine, they could develop a trace of spirituality and gradually obey the person who provided them with blood.
In the memories of his predecessor, Old Ghost Huang had indeed fed animals such as cats, dogs, rabbits, and so on.
"It seems that he used his own blood to refine medicine and drove animals into the mountains to find medicine for him, thus making a lot of money."
However, in his memories, Old Ghost Huang's animals had changed a lot.
After all, even an experienced herb gatherer would be injured in the mountains if they were not careful— not to mention domestic animals that had just developed spirituality. It was simply an extra meal for the wild beasts in the mountains.
As for why Old Ghost Huang did not directly raise wild beasts in the mountains, Jiang Ming guessed that it was because wild beasts were more difficult to tame and required higher doses of medicine.
Old Ghost Huang was only an ordinary person, and his Qi and blood were already depleted from feeding ordinary cats and dogs. How would he dare have any ideas about wild beasts?
"For ordinary people, this is simply a forbidden technique that harms the body. However, these problems don't exist for me at all!"
Jiang Ming's eyes lit up. He had a feeling that this prescription might play a great role in his life.
He carefully kept the animal skin in his pocket, took away the money and rations, and did not touch the remaining things of Old Ghost Huang. After all, he might be recognized.
Recalling the usual herb-picking route, Jiang Ming put on the old bamboo hat, carried the herb basket, and continued to walk into the mountain.
Along the way, Jiang Ming also picked some herbs based on his memory, but some of them looked very similar, so he could only distinguish them by taste.
For other herb harvesters, randomly eating herbs was an extremely dangerous move, but for Jiang Ming, it was not much of a problem.
Even if it was a poisonous herb, it would only make Jiang Ming's stomach hurt for a moment.
Later, Jiang Ming even tried all the plants he saw along the way and categorized them in his mind.
"My stomach hurts! It's poisonous!"
"It's refreshing, but it gives me diarrhea!"
"Hmm… It's bitter and slightly poisonous. It might have unknown medicinal effects!"
"The taste is okay. It's similar to sweet potato leaves. Let me take more for dinner."
"A poisonous mushroom?"
Time gradually passed. Jiang Ming shuttled through the deep mountains and old forests. He took turns using tools such as a shovel, a small hoe, and a sickle to pick herbs. His skill in picking herbs was also slowly improving.
Since he had transmigrated to become an herb gatherer, he planned to play this role well first. As the saying goes, there were specializations in each field, and he had to work hard to familiarize himself with the skills.
The dusk in the mountains came quietly. Unknowingly, the green pine trees were solemn, the mountain rocks were dim, and the shadows of the trees swayed in the fog.
The air, however, became hot and stuffy. Dark clouds lingered in the sky as if a heavy rain was about to fall.
Jiang Ming lifted the herb basket on his shoulder, quickened his pace, and rushed to a cliff in his memory.
The night in the mountain forest was more dangerous than the day. Poisonous insects and fierce beasts lurked everywhere, and it was easy to get into big trouble if one was not careful. Every herb gatherer had a few familiar hiding spots.
Soon, the dark clouds covered the last ray of sunlight, and the faint sound of thunder could be heard.
In front of Jiang Ming's eyes, a rocky cliff finally appeared. It looked like a strange dark monster that was lurking in the forest.
He climbed up and pushed aside a bunch of dry vines halfway up the cliff. A small cave suddenly appeared in front of him.
In the cave, there was a broken pot, two broken bowls, a few dry branches, and some dried animal feces.
"Fortunately, I didn't remember incorrectly." Jiang Ming heaved a sigh of relief. He put down the herb basket and the broken items and then cleaned the cave a little.
As soon as he finished doing all this, a sudden clap of thunder exploded, and large raindrops fell, pouring down in the blink of an eye.
The blinding lightning illuminated the forest. In the dead silence, thousands of creatures were dormant. The sound of wind, rain, thunder, and lightning was like an omen, smashing into the hearts of all living beings and making them tremble in fear.
"We're safe tonight." Jiang Ming smiled.
Animals were sometimes more intelligent than humans and knew how to respect the might of the heavens. They would not run around looking for food at this time.
He carried the broken pot to the cave entrance, washed it with the rainwater, and then came back with another pot of rainwater, ready to make some hearty stew for dinner.
After spending a long time using flint, he finally lit the dry wood. Jiang Ming put the pottery jar on the rack and began to prepare the ingredients.
The main ingredient was fire cloud grass. Jiang Ming cut it into a few pieces and threw it into the pot together with the leaves that looked like sweet potato leaves.
Fire cloud grass was very valuable, but Jiang Ming was against hoarding things and never using them.
"This fire cloud grass can make Old Ghost Huang want to kill someone, and it can also make others greedy. Rather than taking the risk to fight for a hundred copper coins, I might as well eat it myself."
He looked curious. "I've heard that this thing can nourish Qi and blood. It's a great supplement for martial arts. I wonder if it's true?"
Now that Jiang Ming's body was weak, he was eager to practice martial arts to become stronger. Naturally, he was looking forward to the efficacy of the fire cloud grass.
Then, he took out a pile of colorful mushrooms from the herb basket and stuffed them into the clay pot. He could not help but swallow his saliva as he watched them churn in the boiling water.
He wanted to eat it in his previous life but did not dare. In this life, he finally had the opportunity to do so.
"I heard that the more poisonous it is, the more delicious it is."
Soon, a rich aroma filled the air, raising Jiang Ming's appetite.
Outside the cave, the rain was pouring, and the night was bleak.
In the cave, the firewood crackled, and the thick stew bubbled.
Jiang Ming sat quietly, and all kinds of thoughts flashed through his mind.
The bewilderment of coming to a new world, the fear of being discovered for immortality, the impetuous excitement of wanting to become stronger and explore the unknown...
Gradually, all of his emotions were stripped away, leaving only the rain in front of him.
"Since I'm already in this situation, what's there to fear? I just need to keep going on."