Qi Nan Shan thought about it for a while and said, “I don’t see anything wrong with it, although, perhaps it’s best to send a scout ahead while we follow slowly from behind. Even if there’s a problem, as long as it’s not another Variant Fu Beast like that Earth Dragon, it’ll be fine.”
Luo Jie nodded and said, “Men get more cautious as they get older, haha, let’s go.”
Qi Nan Shan said, “Xiao Feng, take a couple of Fu Warriors over…… If there’s danger retreat immediately. Don’t be reckless!”
And so he led two Fu Warriors and hurried over to the oasis.
12th supported Luo Jie by the arm while smiling the entire journey, for his Master was enjoying his disciple’s help. He said, “12th, there shouldn’t be much excitement and action for a while so you should catch up on your studies, don’t neglect them.”
12th said, “Don’t worry Master, I know.”
Luo Jie knew full well that this disciple of his would work extremely hard, as soon as he would stop to rest he’d grab a book and start reading, so Luo Jie smiled and said, “Once you become a FuZhou Master you’ll be able to protect yourself; for now just keep working at it. I’ll make you some Treasure Fu later to help raise your power.”
“Master, we should find a way to get some warhorses because walking is incredibly slow, and should we be met with any danger, fleeing would be difficult.”
Luo Jie nodded and said, “12th, we ought to cross this mountain path first, there won’t be any warhorses around here.”
Xiao Feng’s company returned swiftly and reported, “Elder, there doesn’t seem to be any sign of danger, the oasis is safe!”
Qi Nan Shan said, “Everyone hurry up! We should reach the oasis by tonight to eat, drink and rest.” Everybody cheered and made their way towards the oasis faster.
The oasis wasn’t big, it was surrounded by woods with a stream flowing through it. Since it was a stream the water would be clear and fresh. Qi Nan Shan arrived first and with cupped hands he took a drink, then saying, “This water is good. It’s drinkable.” He raised his head and shouted, “Do not wash yourself in this water! First refill our water supply, only then can you go wash!”
Chen Hong was already at the banks and almost jumped in. She couldn’t help but feel embarrassed as she hurriedly took out her waterskin to fill.
Everyone at the very least carried two waterskins on them, and most of them could hold up to one cubic metre worth of water. 12th sighed in appreciation of the power and utility of the Hidden Fu, because a waterskin made with a Hidden Fu can hold a lot of water. When used sparingly, it could last two months without issue, it’s very convenient.
Everyone lined up and crouched on the banks and lowered their waterskins into the water. After a moment the water level of the entire oasis lowered by at least an inch.
Chen Hong’s hand suddenly shook. 12th, being next to her, asked, “What’s wrong?” Chen Hong pointed to a nearby patch of reeds and said, “Is…… Is that a small path?”
Qi Nan Shan was standing fairly close, and in surprise, leapt over and went towards the patch of reeds. He inspected it for a moment and said, “You’re right, this is a small path and there are even human footprints. This is not a path created by wild beasts!”
Luo Jie also hurried over. 12th wondered to himself curiously, “How can there be people around here?” so he followed over as well. Soon most of the travelling group had gathered around the small path.
12th announced, “There’s only one person!”
“Not bad,” agreed Luo Jie, “there is only one person. Let’s follow this path and see where it leads to see what kind of person lives around here. Everyone be on alert, but not so much that you’ll offend anyone, for to be able to live in the Mysterious Lands for so long is not an easy task. I don’t want any unnecessary trouble.”
Qi Nan Shan said, “Elder and I will go; you stay here and wait. Luo Zhan you’re in charge while we’re gone. Xiao Feng, take a Fu Warrior and follow us.”
12th raised his hand and bursted out, “I want to go too!” His curiosity was strong, and it’ll be safe with his Master.
Luo Jie said, “Alright, 12th you can come too.” 12th hurriedly ran to his side. Being favoured was a nice feeling and despite it being his third incarnation, he still enjoyed this feeling.
The small path led them to the woods; passing through them they came across a cliff. They continued along the cliff and not long thereafter they saw a large crack in the cliff; the small path vanished into the crack. Xia Feng quickly entered the crack, and moments later, he came out and waved everyone in, saying, “There’s no danger, come inside!”
They entered the cliff from that crack and not far inside was a valley. After a few steps Luo Jie stopped and asked, “Is that a house?”
12th saw a roof made from thatch. He said, “That’s a thatched house!”
Soon everyone could clearly see the thatched house and there was even bamboo fencing with some chickens clucking around inside, eating.
Qi Nan Shan stood outside the fence and asked, “Anybody home?”
A voice came from the thatched house which said, “Come in, who are you people?” and a man walked out of the thatched house.
He was a very handsome young man, although he seemed a little frail, and the contours on his face are rather soft, his eyes showed wisdom and calm. Those eyes were nothing like that of a young person, there wasn’t passion or enthusiasm, but instead there was wisdom and knowledge. He wore a grey toga, with a rope around his waist.
Luo Jie said, “Pardon our intrusion, we were just passing by. Haha, meeting people is fated so we thought it best to come and greet you.”
The man smiled and said, “Come inside and have some tea.”
12th became startled because in the entire North Fu Sect, there was not a single person who drank tea, there wasn’t even a single person who mentioned tea and yet, in the Mysterious Lands, a young man invited everyone in for a cup of tea. This made 12th quite excited. How did this person know about tea?
Luo Jie bowed, saying, “Thank you.” and so everyone followed that young man into the thatched house. Once inside it was different from everyone’s expectations. From the outside the thatched house was plain, simple and a little boring, however inside…… The inside was a very open space that had floors made of white marble, walls pale as snow, and there was a rug made from some skin that was underneath a marble table.
The man smiled and invited everyone to sit. He said, “Let me introduce myself. I’m called Li Ran.”
Likewise Luo Jie introduced everybody. Li Ran was obviously quite interested in 12th and asked, “How old are you 12th?”
Li Ran fluidly brushed over the marble table and a tea set appeared. Tt was the same kind as the tea set that 12th has seen in his past life, one pot and six cups. Luo Jie has never seen a tea set before and asked, “What is this? It’s exquisite!”
12th answered, “This is a tea set, it’s used for drinking tea.”
Surprised, Li Ran asked, “You know about tea sets?” He took out a block of tea leaves, and asked, “Do you know what tea this is?”
12th took it and sniffed,replying, “This should be fermented tea leaves - is it Black Tea?”
Li Ran became even more curious, “Correct, this is Black Tea. This is relaxing Black Tea, haha, who’d have thought I’d meet a tea friend. Since you know what tea this is do you know how to prepare it?”
In his past life 12th was a regular at a tea house, although not proficient, he knew the basics. He took out a block of tea leaves and rinsed it with boiled water. Washing tea like this is to get rid of any impurities and bitterness, and then he placed it in the pot with boiled water. After soaking for a few minutes he poured the tea into the cups, smiled, and said, “Alright, haha, this is the way that I prepare tea.”
Li Ran smiled, “Not bad, alright let’s drink.” He lifted a cup and signalled the others to do so as well.
In his past life 12th was addicted to tea so, without modesty, he took his cup and downed it in one go. Wiping his mouth he said, “Wow this tea is pretty good; it’s got the scent of an orchid…… the taste is pretty good too, mellow and sweet, the colour is a vivid red, amazing……”
Li Ran was stunned. Only old tea experts could describe tea like that. Luo Jie and everybody else took a sip and had a strange look on their faces. It was obvious that they had never encountered tea before whereas 12th’s face was filled with genuine glee, it couldn’t be faked, it was an expression from the heart.
12th asked, “Brother Li, have you got other teas?”
Smiling, Li Ran said, “Brother Li? Haha, I’ve lived almost 600 years and a nine year old boy called me brother, how amusing…… oh well, why not. Alright little brother, it’s a good thing you’re a tea friend.”
Luo Jie was stunned for a second, 600 years! That’s incredible.
Disbelieving, 12th said, “Alright Brother Li, stop joking, you look far younger than my Master how could you be 600 years old……”
However, Luo Jie and Qi Nan Shan believed him for the two of them knew that in the Mysterious Lands there lived a man of legend. He rarely appeared before other people, and even if he did, nobody would know. This man was said man of legend who lived in in seclusion in the Mysterious Lands!
Luo Jie said, “Don’t be rude 12th.”
Li Ran waved it off, “Not a problem, this little guy is very interesting. I have quite a lot of tea; think you can name them all?” by just touching the table three silver jars appeared. Tea is best stored in silver or tin jars, however it’s actually best to store it in gold jars, but gold is too expensive.
12th took a silver jar and after opening he noticed that the inside was lined with gold. He took a sniff, and excited said, “Haha, Oolong tea? This is Oolong…… Wait, no, that’s not right. Hmmm. I can’t say for sure…… but is this Oolong Tea?”
Li Ran stared at 12th, saying, “Oh you know Oolong tea? Haha, this is beyond expectation…… You don’t need to look at the others, I know you’ll be able to recognise them too.”
12th thought with some doubt, “Could this man be from the past eras, from his original home?” He didn’t dare ask, nor did he want to. Li Ran didn’t say any more either, only thoughtfully watching him, his interest towards 12th obviously showing.
Luo Jie didn’t care for why 12th knew so much about tea, he said, “Li……” In the moment, he forgot that the man’s name was Li Ran.
Li Ran replied, “Call me Li Ran.”
Luo Jie laughed a little and asked, “Li Ran, a question…… what kind of place can we expect when we cross over this mountain?”
Li Ran smiled, “You came from the Valley of Death? Your luck is pretty good.”
Surprised, Luo Jie said, “That was the Valley of Death? Then…… what was that sandstorm?” He was always suspicious of that sandstorm, what with its mysterious nature and unbelievable destructive power.
“Sandstorm? Oh…… that. That wasn’t a sandstorm it was a gale filled with death energy. One touch and you die. You guys were lucky not to have encountered it, but, if you had……”
“Gale of death energy?”
Li Ran explained, “It’s called a Death Storm, no living creature can survive inside it, the death energy laced in the tempestuous winds can rapidly annihilate all life.”
12th said, “We did encounter it, haha, we ran fast though and got away unharmed.”
“You guys were lucky.”
“What’s on the other side of the mountain?” asked Luo Jie.
Li Ran replied, “The other side…… haha.” He looked over everyone and said, “With your skills you could probably make it, but be very careful it’s quite the mess over there because lots of powerful people went there to hunt. Going there…… is a little dangerous.”
Luo Jie furrowed his brow and asked, “Hunters? Who are they?”
Li Ran answered, “They aren’t from around here, they came from a different place. You guys are also people who use FuZhou right? It’s a shame really……”
12th confused, asked, “Brother Li, what’s a shame?”
Li Ran smiled slightly, and said, “Nothing…… You’ll find out in the future. Right now you’re too young, even your Master…… isn’t strong enough.”
12th didn’t believe him. Luo Jie was a Great FuZhou Master; they are the most powerful people alive and yet Li Ran said that he isn’t strong enough. If that was the case then how strong would strong enough be?
Luo Jie and Qi Nan Shan didn’t seem offended, in fact, the two of them seemed to accept his wisdom knowing that Li Ran wouldn’t spout nonsense. If he really was 600 years old then he must be incredibly powerful.
12th wondered, “Another place? What other place?”
Li Ran couldn’t help but smile, he noticed that this little guy was really smart, so he asked, “Can’t figure it out?”
12th nodded and truthfully said, “No, I don’t know.”
Li Ran, still smiling, took the teapot and placed it in the middle of the marble table and said, “Imagine, that this is a mountain……” He then took two teacups, placed them on either side of the teapot, and said, “This cup represents the place where you live, and this mountain is the Mysterious Lands. You guys came from this cup to the teapot, however the other cup…… The people from there can get to the teapot too. Do you understand?”
12th, struck with sudden realisation, asked, “This place is public?”
Li Ran smiled and said, “Haha, not bad, this place is indeed a public area; anybody can get in.”
12th quickly realised an important problem so he asked, “We came here…… because we accidentally found an entrance to the Mysterious Lands. Are the other like us too?”
Luo Jie suddenly realised it too; this question hit the nail on the head.
Li Ran replied, “They can come and go as they please.”
12th asked, “Brother Li, can you do that too?”
Li Ran laughed, “Of course you’d be the one to ask, little boy! Not only can I leave, I can also……” He took the other four cups, placed them beside the teapot, and said, “...... I can also freely enter each of the…… cups, as long as I know it’s there. Do you understand?”
12th realised the meaning behind what Li Ran was saying. The Mysterious Lands crossed multiple worlds, so he asked, “How is this possible?”
Li Ran smiled and replied, “Why can’t it be possible?”
12th scratched his head and said, “This world is so fucking crazy.”
Luo Jie and Qi Nan Shan shared a glance and but couldn’t help but smile bitterly. They understood too, and they were likewise astonished. Had they not met with Li Ran they might never have found out about this secret.
Qi Nan Shan asked, “Mister Li, if you don’t mind my asking…... How did you get into the Mysterious Lands? You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to, I don’t mean to pry.”
Li Ran found this quite funny, he replied, “It’s not like this is some sort of secret, it’s quite easy to come and go from the Mysterious Lands, and that’s just by using a small Fu Door. Strange…… Surely you know about Fu Doors?”
Luo Jie’s face flushed red as he said, “Honestly, we don’t know what Fu Doors are. I’ve been to many Mysterious Lands but this is the first I’ve heard of a Fu Door……”
Li Ran explained, “There are many types of Mysterious Lands: stationary ones, others moving, some that appear out of nowhere…… it’s beyond count. However there is one type that is rarely seen, and that is the Enchanted Mysterious Lands, haha, lucky for you because you’re currently inside the Enchanted Mysterious Lands. This place can grant thoroughfare to many places and if you had a Fu Door, you could reach many more places.”
Everyone realised the connotations of this information; everyone was eager to find one of these Fu Doors.
12th couldn’t hold back his frustration anymore, so he asked, “Brother Li, where can we get a Fu Door or how could we create one?”
Li Ran smiled, “Fu Doors aren’t worth much money, although for you guys it’s probably worth a lot, haha. In fact I have quite a few Fu Doors here, however I can’t give them to you.”
Luo Jie and Qi Nan Shan shared a bitter laugh.
12th on the other hand became excited, asking, “Oh you can’t give us one? Does that mean you’re willing to sell?”
Li Ran nodded, smiled and said, “Correct. I am willing to sell, but not for any currency. If you can give me something tempting then I’ll give you a Fu Door in exchange for it.”
12th thought about what he carried on his person and couldn’t help but feel a little discouraged. He knew that he didn’t own anything of value, so thinking it over for a moment, he asked, “Brother Li, what do you need?”
Li Ran laughed and answered, “Materials from a Variant Fu Beast of fifth level or higher, Spirit Fu, or Ancient Fu…… I don’t think you guys would have any True Treasure Fu, and as for True Spirit Fu…… Well that’s even less likely.”
12th got excited as he brought out a few of the Earth Dragon’s bones he was carrying, and asked, “What level of Variant Fu Beast is this bone from?”
Surprised, Li Ran exclaimed, “What’s this? You guys actually hunted a seventh level Variant Fu Beast? This is a deal!”
12th hurriedly added, “We didn’t hunt this. We looted this so we don’t have much.”
Luo Jie and Qi Nan Shan quietly let out a breath, afraid that he’d reveal the fact that they dismembered an entire Earth Dragon. Good thing that 12th was cunning.In the Valley of Death the ground was covered in bones, so to be able to find a few bones from a seventh level Variant Fu Beast is normal.
12th brought out a small pile of bones, some large, some small. The large ones were the size of a face, the small ones were about the size of a food plate. these had all been somewhat sorted through beforehand.
Li Ran sighed, “To find these lying around…... I sure admire your luck, haha. A seventh level Variant Fu Beast, even I would need help to kill one, the real issue here is actually finding such a high level Fu Beast…… Alright, it’s a deal, I’ll make the exchange! For all of these Fu Bones I can give you four Fu Doors, haha of course if you don’t need that many Fu Doors you can also choose something else. I’ve also got Spirit Fu and Ancient Fu.”
12th said, “I only need one, Master you choose the rest.”
Luo Jie was a little uncomfortable for in his Hidden Fu Bag were mass amounts of materials from the Earth Dragon, but he was afraid to reveal it. Good thing his little disciple was smart, not making Li Ran suspicious, for now all he could do was use what 12th already brought out for the exchange. He said, “I also only need one; we can trade the rest for Ancient Fu.”
Li Ran smiled, “For the remaining bones you can either trade for two Spirit Fu or only one Ancient Fu. Are you sure that’s what you want?”
Ancient Fu outclassed Spirit Fu by a lot, even if it was a Great FuZhou Master using the Ancient Fu, it still took a lot of energy. Ancient Fu is a type of FuZhou that has immense power, and in the North Fu Sect Ancient Fu are regarded as the most powerful, and valuable, Fu.
Luo Jie nodded, “Yes, the rest of the bones in exchange for an Ancient Fu.”
Li Ran put away the Spirit Fu. Touching the marble table with his hand caused a row of Ancient Fu to appear. Luo Jie stared with his eyes wide in shock; it was amazing. In the North Fu Sect no matter who got an Ancient Fu, they all hid it securely, afraid that somebody might find out. And yet, Li Ran took out a whole row of Ancient Fu. As he said, “Take your pick, haha, however I won’t say what Ancient Fu you pick till after the exchange is done, then I’ll tell you how to use it.”
12th piteously looked at Li Ran with a sigh, saying, “I don’t even have an Innate Fu, Brother Li, do you have a good Innate Fu lying around?”
Li Ran smiled, “Of course! What will you offer in exchange?”
Where could 12th find anything to trade for it? He thought for a while and said, “Brother Li, what if…… I made you a meal? If you like it you can give me the Innate Fu, if you don’t well then nevermind!”
Li Ran asked, “Is it Fu Food?”
“Well it’s not exactly Fu Food…… I can’t really explain what it is, but you’ll know once you eat it, so wanna try? It’s really tasty!” he replied, trying to tempt him.
Li Ran nonchalantly replied, “Sure, why not. Although if I don’t like it, you’ll have wasted this opportunity.”
12th was ecstatic, to have this opportunity is better than not. He immediately asked Xiao Feng, “Uncle Feng, could you go get a Hidden Fu Bag from Chen Hong for me please? Tell her it’s the one with the culinary set.”
Qi Nan Shan said, “Xiao Feng, while you’re at it tell everyone we’re safe here, and that they should rest at the oasis.”
Agreeing, Xiao Feng turned and left.
Luo Jie’s face was filled with a bitter smile as he looked at the row of Ancient Fu on the marble table. This is a difficult choice, each Ancient Fu is vastly different, who know what type of Ancient Fu these are. He counted a total of eight Ancient Fu. He sighed and said, “Damn, this is hard…… Can you give us a little hint?”
Li Ran silently shook his head. Luo Jie gave a long sigh, this was too stressful, he clenched his teeth and said, “12th, come help you Master choose, pick any Fu…… Master has faith in your luck.”
12th wrinkled his eyebrows, if he chose an Ancient Fu that is incompatible, Master would be sad. He said, “Master, I don’t think this has much to do with luck……”
Luo Jie said, “Nonsense! Hurry and pick one!”
12th helplessly stuck out his hand to randomly grab an Ancient Fu, but suddenly felt a strange fluctuation in his soul, as if it was laughing. He immediately shifted his hand, and in that moment he sensed a feeling of unease. This was the one. He grabbed it in his hand and said, “For better or for worse, I choose this one!”
Li Ran couldn’t help but shake his head, saying, “Luo Jie, I do believe that 12th’s luck is better than yours. His choice was…… decent.”
Luo Jie gleefully asked, “What type of Ancient Fu is it?”