"Are you not worried anymore?" Ao Tian asked.
"I'm in your territory now, does worrying even matter?" Xiao Wu rolled her eyes.
"You're not that foolish," Ao Tian laughed and ruffled her hair.
"Don't mess up my hair," Xiao Wu complained and picked up her bag.
"I don't have a soul tool; can you help me pack?" she said.
Ao Tian took Xiao Wu's bag and with a thought, stored it in his personal space. At his level of cultivation, he could create a personal space, which was why he didn't need to use soul tools.
"Anything else?" Ao Tian asked.
Xiao Wu shook her head, "No."
"Let's go then," Ao Tian led the way.
Xiao Wu followed, looking at Ao Tian's back and thinking about meeting her mother when they returned. For some reason, she felt nervous.
Once they left the academy, Ao Tian asked, "It's your first time in the human world; don't you want to bring something back with you?"
Xiao Wu blushed slightly, playing with her fingers and said, "I've spent all my money."
After learning that she would receive a monthly stipend of a gold soul coin for registering as a spirit master at the Spirit Hall, she had gone and registered. In addition to the ten copper soul coins she received each day as a work-study student, she should have been able to save quite a bit of money.
But she had no sense of money management and bought whatever interesting things she came across, whether they were useful or not. Now, she not only hadn't saved any money, but she also owed Ao Tian a significant amount.
Ao Tian took out a gold soul coin and tossed it to her, saying, "This is the sixtieth gold soul coin you owe me."
Xiao Wu stuck out her tongue and said, "No need to remind me; I remember. You're so stingy even though you have so much money."
An hour later, a luxurious carriage left Nuoding City, heading towards the Star Dou Forest.
Xiao Wu leaned against the carriage window, watching the rapidly receding scenery outside. She sighed, "It's so fast. At this rate, we should be back in the Star Dou Forest in four or five days. When I first walked from the Star Dou Forest to Nuoding City, it took me eight days, and I was so exhausted."
"Why did you go so far in the first place?" Ao Tian asked.
Xiao Wu complained, "It's because of you humans. There were too many human spirit masters near the Star Dou Forest, and it was too dangerous. My mother said I should go further away."
"What about your mother? Why didn't she come with you?" Ao Tian asked, curious.
In theory, how could a mother let her daughter enter the human world alone? They were spirit beasts, and it was easy for them to get lost and never return.
Xiao Wu's mood suddenly turned somber as she explained, "My mother also ventured into the human world to cultivate in the past. She was discovered and, although she managed to escape back to the Star Dou Forest, she was severely injured. She still hasn't fully recovered."
Ao Tian nodded in understanding. It made sense now why her mother had let Xiao Wu come on her own. It seemed that survival in the human world was indeed fraught with danger for spirit beasts.
Spirit beasts could only stay within their own territory, and entering the human world was almost a matter of life and death.
But even within their territory, they still faced the daily risk of being hunted down by human spirit masters to become their spirit rings.
Today, after hearing about Xiao Wu's mother's plight, Ao Tian suddenly felt a deep sense of empathy. Perhaps, the fate of spirit beasts should not be so tragic...
"Is your mother severely injured?" Ao Tian asked.
Xiao Wu nodded, "Yes, she's very injured. When she entered the human world back then, she hadn't matured as a spirit beast. I missed her and decided to take on human form to look for her, but Da Ming and Er Ming stopped me. Later, when Mom came to see me and found out I had also taken on human form, she ventured into the human world again, intending to quickly cultivate to the Titled Douluo level and then take me out to train. But unexpectedly... she returned severely injured."
As she spoke, Xiao Wu's big eyes began to glisten with tears.
"Don't worry, your mother will recover," Ao Tian reassured her. "Let me tell you a secret; actually, I can help with healing."
"Really?" Xiao Wu looked at Ao Tian with teary eyes. But before Ao Tian could reply, she shook her head and said, "How could that be possible? You're not a healing spirit master, and even if you were, you're only at the Spirit Master realm."
Confidently, Ao Tian said, "Just trust me; you'll see."
Xiao Wu looked at Ao Tian with a mixture of doubt and hope growing in her heart.
The carriage only had Ao Tian and Xiao Wu; they hadn't hired a coachman. Yet, the horses seemed to possess intelligence as they galloped in the direction of the Star Dou Forest.
Inside the luxurious carriage, there were beds for resting and even a small restroom.
Ao Tian didn't need to use the restroom; he ate food not because he was hungry but simply for the pleasure of it. Food that entered his body would be converted into nothingness by the energy within him, leaving no trace.
The restroom was for Xiao Wu's exclusive use.
"Ao Tian, you really don't need to cultivate?" Xiao Wu asked.
From the time she met Ao Tian until now, she had never seen him practice.
She, as a 100,000-year spirit beast in human form, had top-notch talent among humans, but she still needed to cultivate.
"Aren't you in a bet with Grandmaster? If you don't practice, how can you defeat Tang San?" Xiao Wu asked.
"Don't worry, you'll see when the time comes," Ao Tian replied nonchalantly.
The horse's speed was unexpectedly fast. It only took them three days to get close to the Star Dou Forest.
"There's a small town ahead; we can rest there for the night and enter the forest early tomorrow morning," Xiao Wu pointed ahead.
The Star Dou Forest was much more dangerous at night than during the day, and Xiao Wu thought that with their current strength, it would be better to enter during the day.
She continued to explain, "That town is the closest human gathering point to the Star Dou Forest. Many spirit masters who venture into the Star Dou Forest for adventure stop there to rest and resupply."
After explaining, she looked at Ao Tian and said, "Ao Tian, about your brother..."
Ao Tian smiled and said, "Don't worry; I'll have my brother return tomorrow."
"Okay," Xiao Wu nodded, feeling reassured.
No matter how much she believed in Ao Tian, she couldn't dare to bring a Titled Douluo back home.
The town was surrounded by high walls, about thirty meters tall. Since it was so close to the Star Dou Forest, the walls were necessary to defend against potential nighttime attacks from spirit beasts.
Ao Tian and Xiao Wu got off the carriage not far from the town's gate. By this time, it was already dark.
"You've worked hard," Ao Tian raised his hand, and the intelligent horse lowered its head, allowing Ao Tian to pat it.
It closed its eyes, thoroughly enjoying the attention.
"This is your reward," Ao Tian said and transferred a trace of extremely diluted dragon qi from his palm into the horse.
The horse neighed excitedly, and the spines on its back began to ripple, as if something inside it was about to emerge.