Chapter 16: I Want My Battle Qi

Spending the night in the forest was significantly more dangerous than in the cave. Although it was a long walk back to the cave, the benefits clearly outweighed the costs and Zi Di also approved of this proposal. Thus, by evening, the two had returned to the cave.

The cave was warm so the two did not light a fire and they drank a little water and ate a lot of meat floss. Their water reserves were running low, but there was plenty of meat floss, so there was no need to worry about it and they both wanted to avoid starvation. Starvation was full of risks and prolonged periods of it could lead to a deficiency of physical strength. A lack of strength on this island fraught with peril would lead them into mortal danger.

In the cave, the two ate in silence. Glancing at the familiar cave walls, Zhen Jin smiled bitterly. Not long ago, he had had a conversation with Zi Di and gained an understanding of his circumstances and the more he understood, the more he realized he had things to do. 

He had thought it would be enough to survive and escape from this strange island unharmed but now, he realized whether he escaped alone or with Zi Di, such an outcome would still mean a defeat! He needed to compete to be the City Lord of White Sands, revitalize his family, cooperate with Zi Di further, and preserve the remnants of Wisteria Merchant Guild.

So, while he was still on this island, he had to link up with the remaining survivors, save as many as he could, and recruit them for his own employ. There was one especially crucial figure in this—Jia Sha. If he survived, Zhen Jin could offer him a helping hand and create a favorable impression. In short, he needed subordinates. 

Without the help of subordinates, he and Zi Di would be on their own. Even if they reached White Sands, it would be impossible to control it so, as they had set off early in the morning, the youth’s mind held many grand aspirations and long-term plans.

Unexpectedly, there was no satisfactory progress at all in their day of exploration, so they had returned to the cave. Reality was always cruel.

The two ate dinner and began to sort through their equipment. The spears had been used a lot and many of them needed to be repaired. With armaments as crude as them, if they were not repaired in time, their power would deteriorate. After all, even swords needed to be polished and maintained often. Needless to say, these wooden spears needed to be repaired far more often than swords and were far less durable.

Zhen Jin first used the potion Zi Di gave him to soften a spear, then he used the dagger to sharpen the spear tip. He started to multitask, repairing the spears while reviewing his experiences that day. My strength has grown. He thought of how he killed iron feather birds over and over again. At the time, he felt he had killed them smoothly but in retrospect, he realized he was killing them with skill and ease. Before, such a performance of skill was not something he was capable of but now, he had really managed it. Is it because I recovered that memory and regained mastery of the Hundred Needle Wind battle art?

After he had recovered that memory, Zhen Jin discovered he had a special fondness for stabbing and found it very convenient and easy to do, unlike during the battle against the fire-venom bees, where he purely improvised using his newly emerged memory. Over the past days in the cave, he had practiced Hundred Needle Wind many times and became very skilled in it. Not only had his speed increased but even more remarkably, each of his thrusts became very stable. 

Naturally, the quality of the equipment was very important. Last time he had used a longsword but although the blade was sharp, using it was difficult and painful. In contrast, the spears were more compatible to perform a battle art like Hundred Needle Wind than the longsword. They were lighter, and their sharp spearhead more resembled a rapier.

But this battle art still requires battle qi to display its true power, thinking this, Zhen Jin was confronted with a familiar conundrum once more: When will I be able to use my battle qi? He did not have the slightest grip on the solution to it.

Battle qi. Battle qi! An extremely important factor. Without battle qi and with just the human body, Zhen Jin had no armor, no claws and no sharp fangs, and could only fight Iron magic beasts with great difficulty. If there were enough Bronze magic beasts, he could only run. 

With battle qi, Zhen Jin’s battle strength would overpower any Iron magic beast. Battle qi could be used to amplify defense, agility and other aspects and would be of tremendous help in overcoming life-threatening challenges and improving their chances of survival on the island.

However, Zhen Jin’s current situation was somewhat awkward. There were issues with his memories and he could only seemingly wait for the relevant memories to emerge before he could use his battle qi. Previously, he had thought he would subconsciously activate his battle qi in a life-and-death juncture but the result of the battle with the monkey bear had made it clear to him that his thoughts were a forlorn hope. 

He did not even know if his cultivation was Silver or Gold! Besides, even if he recalled the relevant memories, the particular environment he was in was also a major, decisive factor—the restriction of low-level Practices on this island.

It affected Zi Di’s magic, made low-level artifacts ineffective and reduced the effects of high-level artifacts. Zi Di had also learned from the bodyguards that Iron and Bronze battle qi suffered the same restrictions. Even if Zhen Jin were to recall his memories, could Silver—perhaps Gold—battle qi even be activated? This was definitely a conundrum. 

Zhen Jin shook his head as if wanting to throw this vexation out of his mind. Thinking too much of it isn’t good, it’ll only add to the gloom. At least, now, I can win without battle qi, even if with difficulty, against a swarm of fire-venom bees. After assessing the strength of both sides, Zhen Jin had come to this conclusion which was quite comforting.

In fact, he had nearly succeeded in fending off the fire-venom bees at the campfire and now that his strength had risen a bit, he could probably defeat them. However, the current situation was more complex than dealing with the fire-venom bees. This island was extremely strange. First the restrictions and they had now found even the landscape could also randomly change, making it mysterious and unpredictable. If it were possible, Zhen Jin would rather face fire-venom bees than the vastness of nature like he had to now. He did not know where to even start with this.

Bang, bang, bang… Zi Di had her head down pounding the stone in her hand into the bottom of a hemispherical hole in the ground. Inside was placed the materials she had gathered during the day, most of which were leaves and a few grass roots which had been torn up as much as possible and then ground into a paste by the stone. After grinding the materials to her satisfaction, she took out a vial full of powder from the small bag at her waist and cautiously sprinkled a little bit of the contents into the hole.

When the powder contacted the paste in the hole, it caused the paste to rapidly liquefy into a pool of viscous, dark red liquid. The girl immediately took a twig and began to stir it and after stirring awhile, she stopped and observed quietly. When the upper layer of the concoction began to solidify, she used the twig to pick up and remove the solidified layer, exposing the lower liquid layer, she then took a new twig and began to stir again. 

After each time she removed the solidified layer, the liquid beneath became more and more vivid in color and more translucent, and before stirring, she would use a new, clean twig. After repeating this many times, the final liquid was no longer dark red in color but a translucent pink. After reaching this step, Zi Di heaved a sigh and no longer removed the hardening surface and instead allowed the whole liquid to solidify.

When tomorrow came, the solidified lump had completely dried up. Zi Di thoroughly ground this lump into a pile of a fine, pink powder. She then used some wide tree leaves to separate the powder into portions and wrapped each up to form small, elaborate medicinal packets, then handed some of them to Zhen Jin and introduced, “This powder can leave a bright, conspicuous pink mark. Whether it is left on a tree trunk or a rock, it will last a long time. Even if rainstorms try to wash it away, it will still last for several days.”

This was without a doubt, very useful. Although Zi Di’s pharmaceutical skills had not reached the level of master, she still left Zhen Jin in admiration.

After breakfast, the two continued their journey. With a night of sleep, they were well-rested and were physically and mentally full of vigor. They also had the powder which made marking easier. Moreover, they had also adjusted their polearms. Although there was no increase in number, the ratio had been adjusted—there were now more spears and fewer javelins.

The girl had thought since they were walking in a rainforest, the long spears would get in the way but the landscape had changed and they were now in a forest which was more open. While the branches were slanted, they were not as obstructive as imagined. 

The spears also proved more useful during exploration. For example, if Zhen Jin used a spear to hit the grass to scare away a snake, with the spear’s long shaft, even if the startled snake counterattacked, it would give him more time to react. In addition, the two had stayed up late into the night discussing the marks they had made on the animal hide map.

On their second departure, they changed their strategy—instead of searching around the cave, they set out focused on one direction which they chose based on a vague identification by the stars of where they had come from was vaguely where they had come from. The two were not certain of it but this direction was most likely correct.