That very night, Xu Qing had a dream.
This was the first time in over six years that he stayed in such a luxurious house and didn't feel the chill from outside. At the same time, it was also a rare night where he had dreams.
In the dream, this world wasn't a cruel one. The sky didn't have the fragmented face of the god, and his parents were also beside him. He even had an elder brother.
Also, he was living a worry-free life and going to school with a group of play companions. After school, he returned to his warm house and ate the piping hot dinner together with his loved ones, enjoying a beautiful sleep later at night.
However, all his loved ones in the dream had somewhat blurry appearances.
He really wanted to see them clearly, but there was always a layer of mist shrouding them. The dream lasted all the way until morning arrived. Xu Qing who was lying on his bed finally opened his eyes.
He stared at the ceiling and rested for a moment as though he was completely awakening from the dream before he silently stared at the surroundings…
Inside this grayish-black room constructed from bricks, not only were there a table, chairs, and a bed, but there was even a bathroom with lingering warmth on its floor. This warmth was something left behind by the heat of the stove last night.
On the floor, there was a mat weaved from straw, and there was an empty bookshelf at the side.
This place looked simple, but in Xu Qing's heart, it was already very luxurious.
Xu Qing took a deep breath and walked toward the bathroom. He then carefully stretched out his hands and placed them inside the water. As he watched his dirt-covered hands slowly reverting to their normal color from the water, he swiftly lifted them up.
He lowered his head and stared for a moment before wiping them on his body and getting them dirty again. After that, he glanced up and looked at his reflection in the mirror.
A large leather coat, a head full of messy raven-black hair, a dirt-covered little face, and that pair of clear eyes.
After some time, Xu Qing turned and gazed toward the windows. The clarity in his eyes was then replaced by indifference.
The wind and snow had stopped in the world outside the window, and sunlight streamed down. This was the final snow of winter, and the snow on the ground was slowly disappearing.
On the trees in the distance, as the remnants of snow melted, green buds could be seen. It was as though they were telling everyone that spring…had truly arrived.
Xu Qing walked out of his room and habitually cast a glance at Captain Lei's residence. As for the over ten wild dogs in the courtyard, they didn't even lift their heads. They merely swept their tails across the ground in greeting.
"What should I do?" Xu Qing silently mused as a hint of determination appeared in his gaze.
Hence, he pushed the courtyard gate open and walked out. His target was clear. It was none other than the tent where the doctor of the carriages was in.
During the early morning, there weren't many scavengers at the campsite.
As Xu Qing moved closer to the fleet of carriages, all the guards there swept their gazes over to him, and Xu Qing could faintly hear the sounds of studying drifting from the tent the doctor was in.
He hesitated for a while before he quietly stood outside the tent, waiting in silence.
The guards around the convoy all looked at him with scrutiny. After observing for some time, half of them retracted their gazes, but a few were still observing him closely.
Xu Qing wasn't bothered by these. This was because he could hear the sounds of studying drifting out from within. As he listened, he gradually fell into a daze. He also discovered that there wasn't only the sound of people studying inside the tent; the teacher inside was testing his students too.
"Goldturn grass, also known as the three-leaf pearl or the coldscatter grass. It is the white water sedge that belongs to the cyperaceae-class of plants and would only be birthed after many years. It grows in forests under the hillsides and in spacious wet areas. They can be found in Lingyou, the southern part of Nanhuang, and the two continents of Guangling. Its effects consist of soothing the lungs and stopping coughs, mild detoxification, dispersion of bruises, and curing venomous snake bites or injuries from a fall. It can be matched with…"
The young girl's voice that was originally filled with confidence started to have some hesitation as she continued speaking.
"Match with what?" In the tent, Grandmaster Bai's imposing voice was filled with strictness.
"It can be matched with the rhino-fire flower to be concocted in the medicine. Borrowing yang to transform yin, it can become a drop of poison-avoidance liquid, which is one of the basic ingredients for the Great Transformation Pill." The young girl seemed to be a little afraid. Her speed of speaking increased by quite a lot, and she even heaved a sigh of relief after she finished speaking.
Xu Qing stood outside the tent and grew increasingly serious as he listened to these.
"Whiteback root, also known as…eh. It belongs to the Euphorbiaceae-class, the root of a plant named 'turn-in-the-wind'. Its taste is slightly bitter. It can be found in…and the effects are treating something of the five inner organs…" That youth began to hesitate as he spoke and at the end, he directly stopped. Evidently, he had forgotten it.
Inside the tent, the youth who sat together with the young girl now had a look of nervousness on his face. He was very anxious, but he simply couldn't recall. Hence, he glanced pleadingly at the young girl.
The young girl beside him clearly knew the answer, but she didn't remind him no matter what. In the end, the youth could only have a depressed look on his face.
And in front of them was Grandmaster Bai. At this moment, he turned his head and glanced outside the tent. The guard there immediately looked over and immediately asked with his eyes if Grandmaster Bai had any requests.
Grandmaster Bai thought about it before slightly shaking his head. After that, he coldly snorted at the stammering youth.
"Tonight, you shall copy the Grasswood Scripture ten times!"
This time around, the youth really wanted to cry, but he didn't dare to make any rebuttal. Hence, he could only hang his head depressedly and silently wailed.
After Grandmaster Bai finished testing his two disciples, he calmly continued and spoke about the lesson today. His voice was slightly louder than before and also much clearer.
The youth didn't notice this, but the young girl was meticulous by nature. Hence, she felt a little puzzled and blinked her eyes while casting a glance at the tent entrance. As she looked over, she could see a small and skinny figure standing near the tent under the reflection of the sun.
Xu Qing, who was outside the tent, listened even more seriously. Every word and sentence spoken by Grandmaster Bai was deeply remembered by him as he was afraid he might forget even the slightest bit. To him, knowledge was something extremely valuable that he thirsted for.
Just like this, time slowly passed. Today, the duration of Grandmaster Bai's lesson also exceeded the norm by almost twice. Only after the sun was high up in the sky and there was a long line of scavengers waiting for treatment queuing up did Grandmaster Bai end his lesson. A hoarse-sounding voice then rang out.
"The youth outside, you can enter."
Xu Qing quivered and was awakened from his state of learning, which he didn't want to end. He then took a deep breath and carefully pushed the tent's flap open guiltily. After he entered, he stood silently at the side, feeling somewhat ill at ease.
Originally, he wouldn't be like this, but he had come here to make an inquiry today and he had even eavesdropped for such a long time outside. In the slums, such behavior would easily inspire disgust from others.
As though Grandmaster Bai could see the youth's nervousness, he slowed his pace of speaking and calmly spoke.
"What's the matter?"
As his voice rang out, the young girl at the side surveyed Xu Qing with curiosity.
She had some recollection of this kid. She remembered that several days ago, this kid had carried an old man here for medical treatment.
"I greet Grandmaster Bai." Xu Qing lowered his head and imitated what Captain Lei did, dipping into a deep bow toward Grandmaster Bai.
After that, he hesitated for a while before saying that he wanted to inquire about the heavenfate flower.
After he spoke, he took out five white pills from his pouch and placed them before Grandmaster Bai.
The usual fee was a single white pill, but Xu Qing felt one white pill was insufficient given that he had listened to a lesson from the other party. In fact, even five white pills were not enough.
He then took out another 10 spirit coins and placed them together with the white pills.
Only after doing this did his heart settle down.
Grandmaster Bai cast a deep glance at Xu Qing before turning to the young girl at the side as he slowly spoke.
"Yu Ting, you will answer his question."
The girl sat up straight and had a solemn look on her face as she confidently spoke.
"The heavenfate flower, also known as the life-extension blaze and the divine spirit grass. It is a mutated variant of the divine-class plant, compound wood. According to records, there are a total of 73 variants, but only the first variant can be used in medicine. It grows in any area within a forbidden zone, but there are no rules to dictate where it might be found. It is extremely rare.
"Its effects consist of allowing broken limbs to regenerate, even capable of reigniting one's lifeforce. Other than soul injuries, it can cure everything." As she spoke, the young girl swiftly took out a book from the side. After flipping a few pages through it, she revealed the picture on the page.
"Its appearance looks like this."
What was seen in the picture was an ordinary stalk of herb that didn't seem to have any marvelous aspects about it. Only the jagged edges at the side of the grass were a little obvious. At the same time, there was a strange symbol formed by a silk thread in the middle.
Xu Qing looked at it attentively. After memorizing it, he bowed deeply at both Grandmaster Bai and the young girl. He then turned and prepared to leave.
Before he left, he heard the calm voice of Grandmaster Bai behind him.
"This herb can only be acquired by luck and not actively sought after. There are always powerful mutated beasts around it. You should know your limits."
Upon hearing this, Xu Qing bowed again. After he left the tent, he rapidly sped through the campsite.
After he used his greatest speed to return to his residence, he immediately took out a piece of bamboo from his leather pouch and used a bamboo stick to engrave everything the young girl had spoken about the heavenfate flower as well as the picture down.
After some contemplation, he also recorded the content of the lesson he had heard today.
Finally, he glanced at the bamboo piece that was densely filled with countless tiny words as he felt very satisfied in his heart. He then kept it well carefully like it was a precious treasure.
"How good would it be if I could continue to listen," Xu Qing muttered in a low voice. He started to think of ways to listen to the lessons. After some time, he refocused and started to cultivate.
During that night, after Captain Lei returned, he told Captain Lei that he wished to make a trip to the forbidden zone. When Captain Lei heard this, he wanted to stop Xu Qing but hesitated.
Eventually, Captain Lei still nodded and told Xu Qing about his experiences.
Just like how the elderly at home would be worried about their own descendants venturing out, Captain Lei's stories were extremely detailed.
He only finished telling Xu Qing about his experiences when dawn almost arrived. After Xu Qing remembered them, Captain Lei gave him another leather sack that contained the various types of medical powder Luan Tooth left behind.
After understanding their specific uses, when morning came, Xu Qing bid farewell and left the campsite. He traveled rapidly through the wilderness and arrived outside the forbidden zone not long later.
The instant he stepped into the boundary, the warmth of the sunlight outside seemed to be isolated, and a sinister chill drilled into his body. Xu Qing's eyes narrowed with vigilance as he 'transformed' into a fleeting shadow as he sped into the jungle.
His figure vanished completely after a few breaths of time.
This was his second time entering the jungle in the forbidden zone. Xu Qing's familiarity with this place was already different from the past.
But the more it was so, the more cautious he became. As he leaped forward, he also paid attention to the flowers and herbs in the surroundings. Very soon, he arrived at the location where the silt was found back then. He copied Luan Tooth's previous actions and smeared the silt onto his body before he continued to advance.
Time flowed by and an entire day soon passed.
When he arrived here this time around, Xu Qing didn't encounter the fog. And although there were powerful mutated beasts, due to Xu Qing's cautiousness, he managed to avoid them all.
On his way, he also paid close attention to the flowers and herbs around him as he searched for the heavenfate flower.
At this moment, he encountered the place where they had met the black-scaled wolf previously. He surveyed the surroundings, and he could still see traces of their previous arrangements. It was just that the majority of the wolf corpses on the ground then had now transformed into rotting bones.
He attentively observed the rotting corpses and discovered that there were no signs of them being bitten, but they had rotted naturally. Xu Qing then heaved a sigh of relief.
This indicated that most probably, no mutated beasts had come here.
Hence, he found a nearby area in the surroundings and decided to spend the night there before continuing after the sky turned bright.
Very soon, night descended and the jungle fell into darkness. Xu Qing was now hiding inside a tree crack and staring in the direction of the Seven-leaf Grass Canyon. Further down that direction was the group of temples.
This time around, other than wanting to find the heavenfate flower in the forbidden zone, he had another thought. He also wanted to help the little girl find a stone that could remove scars.
"Let's go and take a look," Xu Qing mumbled.