Chapter 18: My Knight’s Code
Zhen Jin’s pupils shrunk when he heard the cry. Someone is trapped in the spiderwebs. He is still alive! he creased his brows in thought. I am a knight. It is part of my code to assist the weak and save the dying. I need to calm down first, the youngster warned himself.
He stopped retreating and observed as he cautiously reentered the spider’s hunting grounds. He did not step on any spiderweb traps and after walking a certain length, he looked up to find the hanging trapping that the cry came from.
The spiderweb was shaking lightly and the silhouette inside was distinctly that of a human. The threads near his face were thinly weaved and through the slits, the one inside would be able to see outside, though just barely. The hapless fellow was hung up high, giving him a wide field of vision so he was able to see Zhen Jin and had immediately called for help.
“Please, please save me! If you leave, I’ll definitely die! You’re from the Hog’s Kiss, too, aren’t you? We’re both from the same ship. Please show kindness to me, please don't go, please don’t abandon me…” Upon hearing that, Zhen Jin’s heart was moved but he did not rush to action.
Recklessly attempting to rescue him would likely only end with himself trapped as well. Even worse, it could also endanger Zi Di. He stood still and looked above, scanning cautiously for the spiders hidden in the canopy. His muscles were tense, ready to react to even the slightest movement of the wind. But the spiders made no movements.
Finding no movement from Zhen Jin a few moments after pleading for help, the trapped man reacted and cried out again in a low voice, “You don’t have to be suspicious of me! The beasts that fell into the spiderwebs would struggle with all their might, and the more they struggled, the more the spider silk would stick to them and the more the web would constrain them, eventually suffocating them to death. But that wasn’t the case for me. I had fainted before I was trapped and tied up in the web. So thanks to that, I’m still alive. So please save me. I don’t want to die…” At this point, he drooped his head and began to weep.
The fear of being trapped in a spiderweb and watching death slowly approaching was unbearable and it had almost driven the man insane. When Zhen Jin saw this genuine expression of the man’s condition, he was a bit more trusting. Every living thing possessed the fear of death. Zhen Jin, even as a knight brave enough to face the monkey bear and fight a hard battle to kill it, still had this fear. Having fear did not mean one was weak. Fighting it day and night was true courage.
Still no movements? It seems these spiders don't hunt through sound, Zhen Jin speculated and decided to take a little risk. He opened his mouth and softly called out, “Hey you, what’s your name?”
The trapped person immediately became excited, responding, “I am called Huang Zao, sir. I was a sailor aboard the Hog’s Kiss. Merciful sir, kind sir, if you save me, I will do all I can with my life to repay your kindness!”
Most of Zhen Jin’s attention was still on the canopy at this point. When he had spoken, the spiders remained unmoving. This set aside some of his worries as he made sure his prior guess was not wrong.
“In that case, Huang Zao, how can I save you?” he asked again. This question was crucial as he needed to confirm Huang Zao’s intentions and obtain more information. Currently, he still had suspicions. Were these spiders deliberately not killing their prey but allowing them to cry out, using it to attract others of their kind? Perhaps these spiders were restraining themselves so Zhen Jin could return and call more humans for a rescue. When there were more people, only then would the spiders close their webs.
Hearing Zhen Jin’s question, Huang Zao knew what to answer and hurriedly warned, “Sir, you mustn’t risk it and strike! The spiders here will drop to the ground at night and secretly lay their webs. These spiderwebs are buried in the ground and will activate once stepped on. The spiderwebs will close and rise, resulting in spiders coming down to weave it shut and hang the prey up in the air. Regardless of how loud I speak, no spider will come out. But if I struggled about and swayed the spiderwebs enough, it would attract the spiders to repair the web. So once you get me out of the web, you’ll definitely draw them out.
“These spiders have terrifying strength. Each one is a Bronze creature. And there are at least a dozen such spiders around here! The force with which these spiders pounce is no different than being rammed by a horse. I was careless and when a spider struck me, I was flung away and struck a tree trunk and passed out on the spot. When I opened my eyes in a daze, I was already hanging in the air. The exploration team had been utterly defeated with the survivors fleeing. Moreover, these spiders are also capable of coordinating. They don’t just set their webs on the ground, two or three spiders can work together and wave a larger web in the air. In contrast with the regular web, this one drops from above and envelops the prey.
“These webs are very sticky and you would need a sharp sword and skillful swordsmanship to cut through them. My big brother, Lan Zao, the exploration team leader, is good with a blade. I saw with my own eyes how his blade became entangled in the webs, greatly reducing his mobility, and he couldn’t cut through the webs at all. That’s why you should use fire! After running out of options, they used fire to burn the webs and escaped. These spiders are actually very afraid of fire. At the time, I wanted to call for help but I was muddled and drowsy. I wasn’t able to call out and even my vision was hazy. I heard people shouting and lost consciousness again. By the time I woke up, the fire was gone and I was the only person left.”
Zhen Jin listened attentively and analyzed the information. After a while, he asked again, “Huang Zao, right? How many people were in your group and why did you come here? Are there any other survivors apart from your group? When were you attacked?”
Huang Zao did not hesitate and quickly replied, “The night the Hog’s Kiss was shipwrecked, the sea was very rough. Although we tried to steer the ship, the hull still snapped into two. The first half of the ship hit a reef and the survivors all managed to reach the beach that night. Our group included, there were about a hundred of us. The captain had gone missing so the first mate led us. This island is strange. Low-level magic and battle qi can’t be used here. We set up a temporary camp on the beach. The first mate assigned me, my brother, and a few others to explore the island in search of timber to build a ship’s hull as well as food and water.
“Within the jungle, danger lurked at every corner and we ran across many strange and ferocious beasts. The exploration team lost many men and we gained little in return. After a while, we were unable to continue onward and decided to head back. However, as we were returning, we found out that the landscape had unexpectedly changed! It had clearly been a rainforest, but before we knew what was going on, we had ended up in a desert. Many thought it was an illusion but we couldn’t break free. Panic arose and some even committed suicide. The team fell into disarray for a while.
“Food and water were quickly used up, and I thought our entire team was done for. Fortunately, our team had a traveler. He was an old scholar who had served a noble in a desert territory. He was called Cang Xu and he used his methods to find his way through the desert and found an oasis to replenish water. After resting at the oasis for several days, we continued our journey. Our fortunes had turned for the better as we arrived at the edge of the desert and entered this forest. When we arrived here, we were ambushed by the spiders. Most were able to escape but five or six died. When they were fleeing, I heard my brother shouting to retreat. He must not have noticed I was missing so he didn’t come to rescue me. In reality, while I was captured by the spiders to serve as their food reserves, I still survived!” Huang Zao was quite emotionally agitated.
Zhen Jin had been silent from beginning to end. Huang Zao’s emotions gradually calmed down. “I don’t know exactly how many days it has been since I don’t know how long I was unconscious. However, it has been three days and two nights since I regained consciousness. For Emperor Sheng Ming’s sake, save me. Sir, we’re from the same ship! Only you can save me now! Please have pity on me, I will repay you with all my strength!” Huang Zao pleaded once again.
“There’s really a desert here?” Zhen Jin doubted.
“Sir, I’m not lying to you!” Huang Zao raised his voice, asserting, “I know, I know it sounds unbelievable but it’s really true. We really did end up in a desert!”
Zhen Jin nodded and placated him, “I will do my best to save you. But I can’t do it on my own. I’m going to go back and get more people. Do you have any ways of contacting your group?”
“I have a whistle that can be heard from afar, however, it is in my coat pocket. I also know semaphore. If I have colored flags, I could stand high above the ground and use it to signal,” Huang Zao hastily said. Seeing that Zhen Jin was silent, he added, “The secret signal! Yes, there’s also the secret signal! We discussed that we would leave behind secret signals along the path. As long as we follow them, we will be able to find my brother and the others!”
Zhen Jin looked at the sky. The sky was darkening. It would not be long till nightfall. “Wait for a while, I will be back,” he said as he turned and left.
“Sir, I will wait for you. You must come back, please don’t forget this pitiful man! You are my only hope. I will repay you!” Even after Zhen Jin had walked far away, Huang Zao’s shouts continued to resound. His voice was hoarse with fear and confusion, yet heavy with expectation. He was clearly shouting with all his strength. After all, Zhen Jin could be considered his only hope of survival.
How should he phrase it? The youngster empathized with him. Life was incredibly beautiful, so Zhen Jin greatly treasured it. Not long ago, he was also at the edge of death’s door as he faced the ire of both the fire-venom bees and the monkey bear. As he alternated between states of consciousness and unconsciousness, he was filled with helplessness, panic, worry, hope, and sincere repentance.
The heavy burden of Huang Zao’s expectations fell on Zhen Jin’s shoulders. How could he save him? How could he resist at least a dozen Bronze spiders? Many questions lay ahead of the youngster. Regardless, he shook his head slightly and kept his eyes resolute. Anyhow, I should join up with Zi Di first.
After a while, the youngster easily reunited with the young girl. In fact, after they parted ways, the girl had done her best to follow after him. The scaled leopard was not fast thus the gap between both parties was not large.
“Did you come across any dangers?”
“No. Don’t worry, I’m not completely helpless.” Zi Di nodded as she lightly patted her small bag with a look of pride.
“I’ve discovered something new on my end.” Zhen Jin gave a simple explanation of what happened and asked her for her opinion.
After she listened to everything, she thought for a bit and then answered, “My Lord, I suggest you save him.”
Although Zhen Jin had his own opinions, he currently wanted to first hear Zi Di’s unadulterated opinion. So he continued asking, “Can you explain why?”
Zi Di was solemn and said sincerely, “My Lord, according to what you said, he has a Bronze aura. A Bronze is already a lower-tier elite. Generally speaking, they are qualified to work as a ship’s captain. Individuals who can fight can also become assault team captains. This man alone is qualified to be recruited. Once Your Lordship saves him, the possibility of him serving you is very high. In addition, there’s still his elder brother, Lan Zao, the exploration team leader. His higher position is proof of his greater strength.
“By taking in Huang Zao, it is likely it will also bring Lan Zao to our side. That’s two Bronze elites. They must also have subordinates around them and once those two are brought over to your side, Your Lordship will also acquire their subordinates with them. We need manpower now. Even if we don’t consider controlling White Sands in the future, these men will greatly increase our chances of survival on this island. Sometimes, when in danger, all you need to do is outrun your companions.” As she spoke, her eyes flashed with a dark glint.
Zhen Jin nodded. “Anything else?”
She continued, “We also need information. So even if these two don’t join you, my Lord, we can still expand our map and deepen our understanding of this island just by communicating with them. According to what Huang Zao said, a large group is building a ship to save themselves. This is the most reliable way to leave here and get to White Sands. However, even if we had a ship, there is no one to sail it for us.
“To keep a ship sailing on the ocean for several months, it requires a captain, a first mate, a navigator, sailors, a helmsman, a shipwright, cannoneers, a surgeon, lookouts, and other talents. Saving as many of these people as we can will make our later voyage much safer and faster.”
“However, to save him, we’ll need to confront at least a dozen Bronze spiders…” Zhen Jin muttered.
“My Lord, I have a solution.” Zi Di smiled. “Believe me, I would never have done this if the losses were greater than the gains.”
“Hahaha, should I say you truly are worthy of being the current president of Wisteria Merchant Guild?” The young knight looked at Zi Di with admiration, but gradually his countenance turned solemn. “You’re not wrong. But you have forgotten the most important point.”
Zi Di quickly put away her smile and lowered her head expressionlessly. “Instruct me, my Lord.”
“I am a Templar Knight, a knight amongst knights, and it is my code to assist the weak and save the dying! Even in times of distress, I will not abandon my companions,” the youngster said, his powerful words echoing through the tranquil forest.
For a moment, Zi Di stared at the youngster blankly, and then she smiled. “My Lord, I understand.”