As altitude increased, the number of cracks on the ground increased and fewer plants grew. Most places only had bare stone and dry soil.
As the breeze weakened and the sun was scorching, most of the wild rats that were waiting here had all begun to be thirsty. They didn’t leave though, all they did was push against each other. They stared at the grains on top of the mountain that was slowly changing its color. They craned their necks trying their best to get a better view of the grains on top of the mountain.
The grains were changing color, it was now slightly lighter than before. The dull surface started to become shiny and it looked like it was coated with gold on it from a distance.
One of the wild rats called out.
It was like a signal for them to take action. The squirming wild rats started to rush forward instantly.
When the first few large wild rats were about to jump and eat the grains, they suddenly heard a whistle as if something was shot from behind.
A crackling sound was heard immediately, the air filled with a pungent odor. Those wild rats that inhaled the fumes started to wobble.
That was just the beginning. After that, consecutive cracks were heard in succession, objects hurled into the crowd of rats.
Shao Xuan held his breath and kept throwing the “artifact”. He quickly ran to the top of the mountain and waited there, smashing fruits while dealing with the wild rats running at him.
The medicine prepared by the old man had already rendered most of the rats unconscious. Although the medicine couldn’t deal with all of the rats, it did greatly relieve Shao Xuan’s burden. To Shao Xuan, the remaining wild rats were quite easy to deal with. After all, these were just rats and not ferocious beasts. Shao Xuan smashed the “artifacts” with one hand, the other hand held a broom-like thing made by tying branches together and swept vigorously when he saw any wild rats rushing at him.
Initially, Shao Xuan would’ve preferred to use some other weapon that was more powerful. But the old man had made this broom himself and said it would be useful against the wild rats. And so Shao Xuan decided to use it.
As expected, after being swept by the “broom”, the wild rats seemed to have something sticking on their body that greatly irritated them. They then hesitated and stopped immediately.
Some of the few big wild rats that jumped managed to bite the grains. Mid-leap, they collapsed on the ground after inhaling the powder as their legs weren’t able to support them.
However, they were physically stronger compared to other wild rats. They knew they were in danger so they quickly bit the grains and broke into a run. Unfortunately, the old man was waiting for them.
The old man brushed some residue of the drug he concocted on the leaves of the branches in a circular motion. He then ignited them and put the fire out. Thick smoke started to rise, making the odour more pungent than ever.
Sadly, the drug was not as strong as its powder form and wasn’t able to knock the rats out. But for now, the residues were strong enough to deal with these big wild rats.
The old man was relieved when he saw Shao Xuan standing on top of the mountain, fighting fiercely against the crowd of wild rats. At least the old man was able to concentrate on those rats that managed to bite the grains. Snatching food from the wild rats was what the old man needed to do now.
After Shao Xuan had finished using all of the “artifacts”, all of the wild rats had fainted and it looked like the mountain top was covered in a carpet of rat skin.
The other rats that managed to escape from the medicine were all swept away and knocked out by Shao Xuan’s broom.
After the old man had dealt with the big wild rats, he immediately ran up to the mountain top and carefully touched the bunch of grains. He was unsure if these plants grew annually and therefore did not dare to chop all of them off. Otherwise, he would have instructed Shao Xuan to chop the grains off and take all of them away to avoid fighting against the wild rats all the time.
The old man lifted his hands, then put light pressure on the grains and managed to pick them.
After the grains were all collected into a bag, the old man called out to Shao Xuan, “Let’s go, don’t bother the remaining rats.”
After Shao Xuan had heard what the old man said, he jumped up and down several times with his broom in order to leave that place. Shao Xuan also brought some of the bigger size wild rats with him for his meal. It was not easy to catch a slightly bigger animal in this deserted mountain. Therefore, he grabbed this opportunity and caught a few of them.
“You took the grains and left the plant there. Aren’t you afraid they’ll be destroyed by the wild rats?” Shao Xuan asked the old man. If it wasn’t because the old man was concerned about the plants and thought that it was still valuable for research, Shao Xuan would’ve just cut the entire thing out for him.
“The rats are only interested in these grains. As for the plant- the roots were too deep and it won’t be easy to dig it out. Forget it, I’ll come back here again with my people.”
As long as the plants didn’t wither before he returned, he would soon be able to transplant all of them into his own land and slowly study them.
“The rats poisoned by your medicine are probably furious. Aren’t you afraid they’ll come back for revenge? Shao Xuan joked.
The old man clutched the bag of grains tight and raised his eyebrows when he heard what Shao Xuan said. “Revenge? Why should I be afraid? I would not give them a chance for revenge when I return to this place again.” He planned to bring more people with him so he didn’t have to fear the rats.
After leaving the mountain, they looked for a place to rest. Shao Xuan stretched out his hand towards the old man and said, “Show me, I want to know what the legendary Thousand Grain Gold looks like. All I did was fight rats, I haven’t taken a good look at them yet.”
The old man hesitated for a moment. Instead of opening the bag containing the grains, he took one grain from the other small bag and put it in Shao Xuan’s palm.
Shao Xuan looked at the grain that was about the size of a soybean in his palm. The grain was coated with a golden shell and there was a tooth mark on it too ——it had been bitten by a rat.
Although one grain was so small in size, it was a lot heavier than expected. It was heavier than what Shao Xuan thought.
However, Shao Xuan did not want to accept this damaged grain.
“I helped you get these grains. How could you give just one to me?” Shao Xuan waved the damaged grain at the old man.
“What do you want to do with these grains?” The old man clutched the grains protectively.
“To eat,” Shao Xuan replied curtly.
The old man raised his eyebrows as soon as he heard Shao Xuan’s reply. “Eat?!”
“Aren’t these grains supposed to be eaten after planting it?”
“But we haven’t planted it on a large scale yet! All these undamaged grains can only be used as seeds, not food!” the angry man was very determined.
“That’s fine. You share some of it with me and I will plant it when I get back to my tribe.” When Shao Xuan saw that the old man wanted to say something, he quickly said, “Even though I might not know the right way to plant it, there must be somebody from our tribe who knows how. Quit being so selfish, come, let’s share. There were thousands of grains on one plant anyways. There were so many plants on the mountain top and you were still able to get so much even though the rats had taken some. So let’s split it in half.”
“Half?!” The old man glared. “No way, that’s impossible. I can give you some of my other plants but I can’t give you that many grains!”
“Alright, then I’ll take half of the half. Three thousand grains,” Shao Xuan said.
The old man held his breath and never said a word. However, it was obvious that the old man was trying hard to be patient as his wrinkled face was quivering.
In the end, the old man only gave one thousand grains. He’d given them unwillingly and looked sad as he could imagine these grains ending up in Shao Xuan’s stomach instead of being used properly.
“If it wasn’t... If it wasn’t because you’d helped me so much, I never would’ve even shared one grain with you!” The old man said bitterly.
“Hey, don’t say that. What if I end up the only one being able to plant the grain?” said Shao Xuan.
The old man kept shaking his head in disagreement, he didn't believe Shao Xuan at all.