The place was known as the Vast Mountains. It had a spacious amount of land with towering ancient trees and strangely shaped mountains as its borders. Like a jungle rain forest, it was filled with the fragrance of aged wood.
Here lived countless powerful beasts. Here was also the home of a few small tribes.
The Barren Village was one of them.
It was morning, and the sun had just rose. A curtain of soft golden light blessed the small village, chasing away everyone's fatigue and compelling them to open their eyes.
Smoke slowly ascended into the air as heavy aromatic scents seeped out of everyone's home. However, there was no smell of meat. It was apparent that this village's quality of life wasn't very high.
There wasn't anything that could be done about that. Even though they lived amongst many monsters, they barely practiced Taoism and had very little battling capabilities. Therefore, they had no way of hunting for meat. Rather, danger was everywhere around them.
After a while, every family in the village finished their meal and began their productive day.
The Village Leader's house was the one in the west. It was built out of old wood and had a very beaten appearance. Despite this, it was still the nicest built house.
A young girl around the age of 15 to 16 came out of the house. She had gleaming eyes and straight teeth and very delicate features. She wore clothes that were made out of beast's skin. The arm and leg skin she exposed was not white but was the color of wheat. She had an energetic aura that was youthful and healthy.
The young girl's name was Su Zi. She was an orphan the Village Leader found from the mountains. Because the Village Leader never married in his lifetime, he raised her like she was his own granddaughter. It has been 15 years since she lived there.
She was carrying a bamboo basket on her back and was on her way to pick up herbs like she always does.
Under a normal circumstance, Su Zi, being a young girl, usually has no capability to go into the mountains solo. However, because she was blessed with cultivation talent, she learned some techniques from the villagers and now had a Qi level of four. Since there are rarely powerful beasts around the village, villagers allowed her to go into mountains by herself.
After all, to want to survive in this wilderness, herbal medicine was needed along with food. Because the Village Leader was old in age and can no longer go into the mountains, the duty of bringing everyone herbs fell on the shoulders of Su Zi.
Walking her way up to the mountains, Si Zi had a huge bright smile on her face and greeted everyone in the village. She was very popular here.
"Hey, Su Zi, going to find herbs again?" a middle-aged woman greeted.
"Yes aunty, Uncle Hu Zi hurt himself a few days ago from hunting and he hasn't healed. We are out of medicine, so I have to go find him some today." Su Zi widened her smile, her grin was warm and friendly.
"Ah, it must be hard for you. Be careful!" The middle-aged woman displayed a hint of pity.
When the men from the village go hunting, someone always got hurt. The only person in the village who knew about medicine was the Village Leader, therefore anyone in the village who fell ill or got injured always ended up going to the Village Leader for help. To treat the illnesses and wounds, however, herbs were essential. Because of the Village Leader's old age, Su Zi had to start gathering herbs since she was 10.
The Village Leader and Su Zi saved most of the villagers' lives. Everyone in the village was truly appreciative from the bottom of their hearts.
Here, ancient trees were towering. They grew tens of feet both vertically and horizontally, taking up vast amount of lands. Between the trees, beasts laid and breathed. This particular place was famous in Yunzhou for the existence of wicked beasts.
Luckily, in the surrounding area of the Barren Village, there were rarely any powerful beasts. With the girl's level of training, she could handle it herself.
Su Zi came to the foot of a mountain and was getting ready to climb and pick some herbs that stop bleeding.
Different from the glorious world outside, this piece of land was impoverished. Its culture and history were very underdeveloped. Nobody here has ever seen or even heard of medicinal Dans. When someone got hurt in the village, they always applied herbs as external medicine. If the herbs picked were appropriate and good quality, then their lives were saved. However, if one mistake was made and the herbs gathered were poisonous, then lives would be lost.
"It seems like there are no beasts in this mountain," after carefully observing the mountain for a long while, she concluded that there were no paw prints nor animal tracks. She smiled movingly.
No beast tracks mean there is no danger. She was relieved. However, just as she moved her mana into her feet and hands and was getting ready to climb, she felt something strange below her foot. Startled, Su Zi lost her balance and fell.
After she had landed, her moist red lips came in contact with a handsome face.
"What… what is this?" Su Zi widened her eyes and subconsciously looked down. She then let out a piercing scream.
She scrambled her way up and staggered backward many steps and almost fell again.
After she had calmed down, she saw that the thing that tripped her was not a beast, but was a person.
A young boy who was around the same age as her.
"It seems like he lost his consciousness," Su Zi muttered to herself. Understandably, she was afraid of everything that was strange and new. Hiding behind a tree, she peeked at the young man, too afraid to go up to him.
After waiting for a long time, the young man did not stir. She finally gave in to her curiosity and walked up to him. She pushed away the tall grass that surrounded him and said to herself, "He… Did he die?"
Thinking about this, Su Zi's young heart shuddered, and she became more anxious. She grew up in the wilderness and was braver than most girls her age. She was also born with a very kind heart that made her want to help anything that needed her aid. Seeing him in that state, she was terrified but she still shakingly extended her arm and touched the youth's nose.
Her skin felt the warm gushes of air coming from the young boy's nose. She sighed in relief and beamed, "Good, good, he is still breathing. He's not dead, only fainted."
After proving that the young man was still alive, she was at a loss as to what she should do next.
It was obvious that this youth did not come from the wilderness. This could be concluded just from his clothes. Though he wasn't wearing expensive and top quality silk, he also was not wearing beast skin like everyone else.
"What do I do now. Should I bring him back to the village or leave him be?" Su Zi frowned. Staring at the pale-faced youth, she was debating hard.
The village never took strangers in. If she brought him back, she would not be able to explain where he came from and she might be punished as a result. But she just didn't have the heart to leave him be. This was a deserted place with dangers everywhere. Nothing good would happen to someone who has no consciousness.
Also, why would her kind heart allow her to ditch someone who seemed to be on the brink of death?
"Aye, you are lucky to encounter me," sighing, Su Zi hesitated again. After a while, she finally made up her mind and decided to bring back this unknown and strange boy.
She felt more at ease after making her decision. Looking at him, she was no longer afraid, but rather she felt a different kind of emotion.
His handsome features and his jade-like complexion made him seem like the rich son of someone powerful. Such an attractive young man, yet his squeezed shut eyes and frowning face showed how much pain he was in.
His robe was dyed with fresh blood. A trace of old blood was also left on the corner of his mouth. His lack of consciousness also revealed the amount of injuries he had.
"Someone so attractive cannot be evil."
Gawking at the boy's elegant face, Su Zi was losing her mind a little. When she remembered how she fell on top of him, her cheeks reddened. Since she was a baby, she's never touched a man's skin other than her grandpa's. But now, all of a sudden, she has kissed a boy on the cheek.
Even though it was an accident and unintentional, she still felt her heart race and her face heating up.
"So handsome. All my life, I've never met someone so good looking," Su Zi said to herself. Feeling the butterflies in her stomach, she reached out her hand and squeezed the boy's white face. It felt like she was feeling cotton, his face was so soft.
Then, she squeezed her own wheat-colored face, and she became frustrated. Complaining, she mumbled, "How is it fair that a boy has better skin and is better looking than a girl? This makes him not manly at all."
Though she spoke those harsh words, she still stared at the boy lovingly. The color in her cheeks never faded, only deepened.
Growing up in the wilderness, she's only ever met two types of men. One was olive skinned and sturdy males, and the other was mischievous baby boys. Where would she get the chance to meet someone delicate like the boy before her?
She wasn't sure what words to use to describe the boy. She just thought he was very good looking. Not only was his features beautiful, but his skin was also perfect enough to induce jealousy in any girl. There was also an aura this boy gave out that made others feel very pleasant.
A few moments ago, she had kissed the boy's skin. She was at an age where she was going through puberty, and naturally, she felt her heart flutter. She wasn't sure what this emotion was, she simply thought it was a wonderful, wonderful feeling.
Staring at him for a very long time, Su Zi sudden yelled out "Ah!". She finally realized that now was not the time to be distracted. His injuries were grave, and if they were not treated right away, he might lose his life.
"Gosh, why am I being so stupid. God bless you, please don't die on me," Su Zi muttered to herself and pushed her own spirits into the boy's body to check out his wounds.
Immediately, she gasped. After feeling his injuries with her spirits, the state the boy's body was in could no longer be described as "bad". Rather, the word "dying" was more appropriate.
Half the bones in his body were smashed, and half of his arteries were no longer pumping. His entire chest area was also cracked. The severity of his injuries was hard to comprehend.
"Oh my god, how is he still alive with injuries like this? How strong is he?" Su Zi covered her mouth with her hand out of shock. She has watched his grandpa treat countless people in the village. She's seen as many injuries as the number of hairs on a sheep, yet she's never seen injuries so serious.
After only the initial diagnosis, she knew that she had no abilities to heal him.
"I guess I have to return to the village and ask grandpa for help." Su Zi frowned and was getting ready to carry him back. How can she drag him back to the village though?
Even though she was a fourth-ranked cultivator, she didn't have a lot of physical strength. To carry back a boy who was the same weight as she was, was not an easy task.
"What do I do," Su Zi moaned. After pondering for awhile, she suddenly remembered that she had a rope that she was going to use for her climb. Her eyes brightened.