Chapter 4: Sand Golem Loulan
Not far from him, right in the center of the alley, was a lone figure in a pool of yellow sand that seemed to be struggling in quicksand.
Ai Hui increased his guard, as the quicksand in the middle of the alley immediately reminded him of the earth elementalists.
Earth elementalists had tons of strange killing moves that were impossible to defend against effectively. After a period of time of sensing that there wasn’t any change in the situation, Ai Hui carefully gazed, and then noticed that the body that was halfway into the sand was a bit peculiar.
Their skin was a faint yellow that seemed to be of a gritty rough texture, and they wore a black mask on their face. Judging by the texture, it seemed to be made of some kind of hard rock.
Ai Hui suddenly opened his mouth: “Sand golem?”
The other party stopped struggling, glanced at him, and replied: “Yes, you can call me Loulan.
A deep, rich male voice sounded with a slight roughness.
Sand golems were one of an earth elementalist’s most beloved crafts. Making them wasn’t hard, and fixing them was easy. They would do a task willingly and were well suited to doing physical labor. The workmanship of the sand golems that Five Way Heaven’s Yellow Sand Corner manufactured were out of the ordinary, and even made the sand golem skill popular. In the Savage Territories, Ai Hui had seen many sand golems, so it was really easy for him to recognize them.
“Looks like you have come across a bit of a problem.” Ai Hui walked to Loulan’s side and crouched: “Problem with your sand core?”
On a sand golem, the thing that was the most easiest to go wrong was the sand core. Sand cores were not natural items, instead, they were created with heavy sand by earth elementalists, and were a sand golem’s main component. Since everyone’s skill level were different, each and every sand golem’s sand core was different.
A sand golem’s entire body was made up of yellow said, and sand cores were essential for their transformation. When something went wrong with their sand core, their body would turn back to scattered sand.
“Yes, an old ailment.” Loulan said somewhat helplessly: “Can you help me? My master is Master Shao, he lives in the second building from the end of the alley. Can you help me deliver a message to him?”
“Second building from the end of the alley?” Ai Hui raised his brows: “Looks like we’re going to be neighbors.”
Loulan’s intelligence isn’t too shabby. Looks like my neighbor is quite a formidable earth elementalist.
Ai Hui stretched his palm against the yellow sand and immediately sensed a dense earth elemental force. It was as if his own palm had entered a millstone and was being crushed by the heavy earth elemental power. His entire expression shook as metal energy covered his palm. His palm had become almost like the pointed edge of a dagger that had not pierced through the yellow sand yet.
“Bear it for a bit.”
As soon as Ai Hui’s voice fell, the accumulated metal energy on his palm suddenly exploded.
A smothered sound exploded from within the yellow sand, and a formless vibration suddenly spread outwards. The stagnated yellow sand wiggled as Loulan’s body stiffened.
Two seconds later, Loulan’s eyes brightened. The separated yellow sand quickly converged to his body like iron sand to a magnet.
In a blink of an eye, there were no more yellow sand on the floor and Loulan’s body returned to its former state. He moved his body around for a bit while asking with a voice full of amazement: “What a miraculous skill, how did you do it?”
“It’s an easy skill.” Ai Hui casually corrected as he lifted his worn cloth bag once again, slinging it over his shoulder: “It can only temporarily save you, you should still go back to examine your sand core.”
It actually wasn’t really a strong move. In the Savage Territories, Ai Hui had seen this trick used by earth elementalists many times to treat sand golems with problems. Even though it wasn’t completely perfect every time, it was effective seven or eight times out of ten.
However, this was the first time he had ever tried it, for there weren’t any so called great earth elementals who would allow a coolie to help them restore a sand golem.
Of course, Loulan totally could not sense that Ai Hui was a newbie, rather, it felt that he had the air of a very able person.
“Thank you so much!” Loulan sincerely thanked Ai Hui with a salute: “May I ask for this sire’s great name?”
“It’s nothing much, my name is Ai Hui.” Ai Hui waved his hand back and forth, hinting that there was no need for Loulan to mind it. He walked forward: “Let’s go, we’re going the same way.”
Loulan followed beside Ai Hui: “Where are you going?”
“Vanguard Training Hall, is it here?” Ai Hui automatically asked.
“We really are neighbors.” A slight excitement penetrated through his deep voice. “We’re neighbors, is that your home? It seems like nobody lived there for a long time.”
Ai Hui’s footsteps slightly lagged, but then resumed its original pace: “No, I accepted a commission, and I am in charge of cleaning it.”
Loulan “oh”ed: “Are you the new student?”
“Yes.” Ai Hui nodded. He had already felt that Loulan ought to have rarely gone out.
A sand golem’s knowledge had room to grow. In the Savage Territories, Ai Hui saw a few combat sand golem. Each and every one of them were cunning and grim, they were all genuine lethal weapons.
In the Savage Territories, there was a saying: If you want to know how an earth elementalist is like, you’ll know once you see their sand golem. With just one look at Loulan, it was easy to see that his owner, Master Shao, was an earth elementalist who wholeheartedly practiced closed-door cultivation with not a care about worldly affairs.
“We’re here, this is the Vanguard Training Hall.” Loulan pointed at the old-fashioned house with a courtyard at the very end of the alley.
“Building a training hall in such a remote place is really…” Ai Hui shook his head. It was probably because of his previous three years of experience in the Sword Cultivating Training Hall that he was quite sensitive about training hall related matters. He had once thought that this training hall’s location was quite bad, but it was only when he personally took a look at it did he discover that it was more remote than he had imagined.
Could it be another tragic owner character?
Perhaps. Didn’t the old man say that the landlord had not gotten in touch with them for over twenty years? It unspeakably emphasized that it was not know whether they were dead or alive.
Whatever. Ai Hui felt that he had delved a bit too deep into it. He had dashed here just for the reward money anyway. There was no relation between him and this training hall. The landlord’s life or death had nothing to do with him.
The gate was completely covered in cobwebs, and the wooden signboard on top of the entrance had amassed such a thick layer of dust that not even the words on the signboard could be distinguished. If he had not known that it was the three words “Vanguard Training Hall” in advance, he definitely wouldn’t have recognized them.
Taking out the key, he gently opened the lock on the door when he felt the right way.
After pushing open the door, a thick plume of dust immediately streamed down like snow.
Ai Hui stood at the entrance for a while, waiting for the dust to settle before going in.
The courtyard was in a miserable state, for the weeds were even taller than a person. A large majority of them were sword reeds, and looked to be a cluster of swords pointing toward the sky. The corner of Ai Hui’s eyes twitched. To have planted sword reeds in his own home, the landlord’s hobby was a bit exotic.
The biggest use for sword reeds were to manufacture grass swords, and Ai Hui’s weapon just happened to be a grass sword made from sword reeds.
At this moment, he was currently looking at a courtyard filled with sword reeds that were taller than him. His eyes immediately widened into large circles. Sword reeds were exceptionally tough and durable, and far surpassed steel. Cutting apart sword reeds was a laborious task, and what was even more frightening was that the sword reeds were everywhere. If he wasn’t careful, nine times out of ten, he’d be cut black and blue.
Ai Hui smiled wryly as he shook his head.
What made him even more depressed was that these sword reeds were too old. If these sword reeds had started growing five years ago, they could still be sellable, and it just so happened to be the season to manufacture grass swords. Sword reeds that were too old were too thick; they were of no use.
“I can help.” Loulan told Ai Hui.
Ai Hui shook his head: “I’ll do it myself. You need to examine your sand core. What I did before was only an emergency procedure, it didn’t solve the problem.”
“Okan then.” Loulan slanted his head: “You can wait until I come tomorrow.”
“I’ll do it myself. I took the money, so I have to work.” Ai Hui said as he opened his worn cloth bag. He wasn’t accustomed to tossing his work at someone else.
“Okay, then I’ll be leaving.” Loulan didn’t say anything else as his body scattered into sand, permeated the ground, and then vanished.
Sword reeds were relatively troublesome plants. They were so straight that they would make one’s head ache, but Ai Hui wasn’t included among them.
After living in the Savage Territories for three years, Ai Hui could be regarded as a sort of expert on plants. It was unfortunate that his constitution was not of the wood attribute, because he believed that his prospects as a wood elementalist would be far more promising than a metal elementalist.
His worn cloth bag was chock full of all sorts of strange things, animal bones and fur, plant seeds, un usually colored stones, and many other kinds of things. These were his spoils of war after three years in the Savage Territories, and also everything he owned. An overwhelming majority of them were things that he had collected himself, and some were rewards that his elementalist bosses had given him. There were also a few scraps that some elementalists looked down upon.
Ai Hui carefully preserved all of them. No matter the situation, he had never lost his cloth bag.
He took out a little red bottle. This was a fire poison bottle he had been given during his times within the Savage Territories, called Wood Burner. It wasn’t a strong poison, and could not be used in combat, but in the Savage Territories, it was an essential item for everyone living within the Savage Territories. It’s greatest usage, was precisely weed removal.
The Savage Territories’ vegetation grew without restraint, and literally covered the sky. There were many places in which it was hard to move even one step, and when camping, it was even more of a need to have a wide open space.
The vegetation within the Savage Territories was unusually sturdy, and there were countless weeds that were more tenacious than the sword reeds. It was extremely difficult if one were to solely rely on manpower, for not even ordinary flames would work against them, so it was necessary to use a kind of fire poison like Wood Burner.
Ai Hui opened the cork, and the smell of sulfur immediately permeated the air. Wood Burner’s red was that of lava, and it reached the cluster of sword reeds.
Wood Burner touched upon the blade of a sword reed, and the green colored sword reed immediately turned ashen. With the naked eye, one could now see the gray color spread rapidly.
The sulfuric smell in the air had now become diluted. Approximately five minutes later, the originally green sword reed cluster had thoroughly become gray.
The gray colored sword reeds crumbled like an avalanche, leaving behind only plant ash.
Ai Hui skillfully shoveled the plant ash within the soil. In this way, one could suppress the growth of weeds, for weeds do not like the presence of fire poison.
His actions were fast, and in the blink of an eye, the entire courtyard was cleared. After finding a broom, he cleared the cobwebs in every corner. Scooping water from a well, he began to clean the floor. With the thickness of the dust there, it required at least five or six rounds of wiping.
Dead leaves were removed from the old gourd that was on the stone groove in the corner of the house. Its main vine was wrapped around the pavilion’s pillar, and the biggest gourd hung right under the roof. The other vines followed the roof in their coils. Each gourd was carefully and neatly cleaned without exception.
The windows were all opened, letting air ventilate.
The weather-beatened wooden signboard was returned back to the main hall and the copper incense burner was scrubbed cleanly. Then, after finding a bundle of incense sticks from the cabinets, he lit up three sticks and inserted them onto the incense burner.
After an entire day of busyness, the training hall looked completely new.
When night fell, the gourds suspended on the eaves emitted a soft light, making the training hall glow. The clean granite pavement, the simple, old-fashioned wooden house, the neatly arranged appliances, and the spiraling incense carried a sweet feeling.
The serenity before his eyes was a sight to behold. It was like some kind of dreamland deep within his heart that had appeared in front of him without warning.
Since he was caught off guard like this, he was unable to resist it.
He was a bit dazzled.