Chapter 27: Charging the Administrative Hub
“Lord Zhen Jin, can you use battle qi?” Cang Xu inquired.
Zhen Jin shook his head. He had planned with Zi Di to conceal his inability to use battle qi, however, since they had reached this point in their discussions, hiding it was meaningless. Though Zhen Jin still concealed his amnesia.
Cang Xu sighed. “If anyone was able to activate Gold or lower battle qi, it would disprove my conjectures. This rotten old man had hoped his conjectures were wrong.”
“In that case, Mr. Cang Xu, do you have any ideas to overcome the magic beasts and the environment to reach our destination smoothly?” Zhen Jin asked in return.
Cang Xu smiled bitterly. “My Lord, you overestimate me. I am only an old man with one foot in the grave. I served the Sha Tas for most of my life, and I resigned because I wanted to spend the last years of my life completing my academic work by seeing the beastmen and exploring the unique ecology of the beastman continent.
“I have titled this work On Evolution. Although I believe that nature has maintained the cycles and balance, the different life forms that live within are not static. Whether humans or dragons, animals or magic beasts, all are slowly evolving. Evolution, changes in the natural environment, and changes in the way organisms survive are all very closely related.”
Zhen Jin nodded. “This is bound to be a classic.”
Cang Xu bowed and said sincerely, “It was my misfortune to have been shipwrecked but to have encountered so many strange monsters has made me ecstatic because this perspective will provide strong evidence for my work. It was so that I could come into contact with these monsters that I volunteered to join the exploration team.
“It is my honor to have met Your Lordship here. During our time here, I will serve you with all of my dedication and knowledge. I am ashamed to fail to meet any of your expectations, my Lord, but I can only ask you to forgive my incompetence. After all…I am only a scholar.”
“I understand.” Zhen Jin nodded. He had noticed that while Huang Zao and Lan Zao had sold themselves into servitude, Cang Xu had no thoughts about surrendering to him.
What Cang Xu meant was this: During the time they were on this island and needed to escape from all sorts of danger, he would fully assist Zhen Jin and once they reached the beastman continent, he would part with Zhen Jin and move with his freedom to complete his book.
“If I become the City Lord of White Sands, I will be sure to help you gather information on the beastmen.”
“I am truly grateful.” Cang Xu bowed once again.
Zi Di suddenly proposed a bold idea, “If Mr. Cang Xu’s conjecture is true, then both this island and the magic beasts were altered. Then this island is bound to have an administrative hub. Say, what do you think will happen if we find this hub?”
Lan Zao immediately replied, “Isn’t that too dangerous? An existence that can remodel an entire island and create so many magic beasts is something that we cannot fight against. This is simply asking for death!”
Zi Di smiled and shook her head, “Not really. Think carefully, according to our previous analysis, there are two most likely possibilities. Possibility one: The island master is not on the island. It would be opportune for us to raid the administrative hub.
“Possibility two: The island master has been here all along but he either hasn’t made a move against us, is spying on us, is toying with us, or he doesn’t care about us at all. But if we were to escape from the island, he would definitely take action to dispose of us to maintain his secrets.
“Therefore, rather than letting that happen, it would be better to storm the hub. Once the hub is destroyed, we would be able to stop the teleportations and also restore the island to normal. We would then be able to use magic and battle qi while those beasts collapse. This would be extremely beneficial for our escape.”
Lan Zao was dumbstruck and realized it made sense once he thought about it.
Zi Di looked at Zhen Jin, her eyes glittering. “Lord Zhen Jin, if we can obtain this kind of magic technology, we could mass-produce Silver and even Gold magic beasts. Even if these beasts can only last for a short while, they can still self-detonate. Don’t you think this would be a huge advantage for us in White Sands City?”
In that split second, Zhen Jin’s heart skipped a beat. Gold subordinates, how extravagant! And the words “mass-produce” also sounded wonderful to his ears. What was even more wonderful was that the created beasts would be fearless and fight to their death. This would give their enemies an extreme headache and even induce dread.
Zhen Jin looked into Zi Di’s purple eyes and they seemed like they were radiating the glow of gold coins. His understanding of her instantly grew deeper. The young knight could not help but think that the girl deserved to be the president of a merchant guild. In the pursuit of great potential benefits, she could even push the safety of her own life to the back of her mind. But Zhen Jin did not state his position yet. Instead, he looked at Cang Xu.
“Mr. Cang Xu, what do you think?” He was displaying how much he valued the old scholar. His previous comments had improved Zhen Jin’s evaluation of Cang Xu. Within him, Zhen Jin sensed the great power of knowledge. Cang Xu’s broad-mindedness, rich knowledge, plentiful experiences, and profound cognition had helped unveil a layer of the fog surrounding this mysterious island to Zhen Jin and Zi Di.
“My Lord,” Cang Xu said slowly, “I do not approve of Lady Zi Di’s proposal. Firstly, we do not know the exact location of the hub. Looking for it is bound to take us on an adventure all over the island. We would need to confront all sorts of strange and terrible beasts as well as the harshness of the environment.
“Secondly, say we found the hub. Common sense would indicate that the island master has set up strong and tight defenses around it. Could we get past the defenses just by ourselves? If we recklessly attacked the hub, would it alert the island master who might be away?
“Thirdly, concerning the island master’s existence, terrain changes, and these beasts—these are all my speculations, and there is no evidence for them. Perhaps my guesses are all wrong. Perhaps this odd island is a part of the creations in heaven and earth and we can never fathom the power and will of Nature.
“Lastly, although the teleportation mechanism exists, there is still an interval between each activation. In theory, as long as we maintain a correct course and advance fast enough, we could return to the beach. Even if we get teleported midway, there is a high probability that the teleportation is random. Therefore, as long as we repeat these steps, there’s a good chance we will reach our destination.”
Zhen Jin pondered for a moment and then nodded. “Your analysis is good. The administrative hub is too nebulous while the risks are too great, and our strength is lacking. Our first objective, therefore, is to join with the larger group and construct a ship to escape this island.”
“As you command, Master,” Lan Zao said promptly. Cang Xu seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. Zi Di opened her mouth to speak but then hesitated. In the end, she said nothing.
“Tell the others to rest for fifteen minutes, afterward, we will set out,” Zhen Jin ordered.
“My Lord,” Cang Xu said again, “I have a small suggestion.”
“Please speak, Mr. Cang Xu.”
“Allow me to report a joyous discovery.” Cang Xu pointed to a part of the montane forest region on the map. “Right here, at the edge of where we have explored ahead so far, there is a large flock of goats with at least one thousand heads. I strongly recommend hunting this flock. That way, we will have plenty of food supply.”
Zhen Jin furrowed his brows slightly. “A large flock of goats, numbering at least a thousand?” The youngster looked at Cang Xu and then at Lan Zao.
He responded immediately, “Master, there really is a large flock of goats. We have already tried and succeeded in hunting two of them. They are timid and gentle and all they can do is flee. They are not at all dangerous. Many believe this is a gift from the gods.”
“But our current food reserves are very abundant,” said Zi Di.
“For now, they are,” Cang Xu nodded. “However, we still need to guard against surprises. For example, say the teleportation mechanism activates and sends us to the desert.”
Cang Xu turned his gaze to Zhen Jin as he knew the latter was the one who could really make the decision. “According to our investigation, the leader of this flock only emits a Bronze aura. Lord Zhen Jin, there is no need to worry too much. These goats are on the lower end of the food chain. There must be many many beasts, even Gold beasts that feed on them. Perhaps the white bone winged deer is among them.
“Therefore, the greatest risk in hunting the flock comes not from the goats themselves but other predators. This matter is easy to guard against. After all, we are not in direct confrontation with these predators.”
Zhen Jin contemplated quietly.
Cang Xu added, “Lord, the primary reason why our exploration team set off was to gather sufficient food for the workmen constructing the ship. Although we have been lost for many days, if we bring back enough food, it will definitely uplift their morale and be of great help to them. At the same time, it will also be of great help to you, my Lord.”
Zhen Jin nodded. “That’s a good suggestion. In that case, we need to modify our schedule a bit. First, we hunt the goats, then we set off.” Based on his previous experiences, he knew that there were not many opportunities to hunt easily on this danger-ridden island. It was possible they would not encounter such a good opportunity again in the future if they gave up on this here.
As per his future plans, he did not intend to go as deep into the island’s hinterlands as he was now. Therefore, he was willing to follow their good advice.