Chapter 28: My Strength Is Quite Great
The goats bleated as they swarmed about in disarray. The flock consisted of several hundred heads. Their fleece was greenish gray and their white horns were like two sharp curved swords.
These goats had been leisurely grazing on the grass when two members of the exploration team appeared and drove them away. The two were armed with scimitars but were not using them. Mere shouting was enough to easily drive away these frightened goats.
Zhen Jin, Zi Di, and Cang Xu stood on a nearby hilltop, watching the scene from above.
The flock tried to change directions but there were already men lying in wait. At the crucial time, they would appear to obstruct the goats’ path forward. These goats were redirected again and again and eventually herded into a depression in the ground.
The exploration team began to encircle them as many members appeared from all sides. Discovering that there was no way out, the goats spin in circles around the basin. The exploration team members raised their swords and swung them down repeatedly, harvesting the lives of the goats.
Just as Lan Zao had said, these goats were very timid. Faced with the butcher’s knife, they did not resist. They cried out in fright as they crowded into the center in an attempt to escape death. But there were always a bunch of unlucky goats that fell into the outskirts and were easily slaughtered by the men one at a time.
Cang Xu looked at this scene and said impassively, “In the central region of the Empire, there were many nobles who began to raise sheep in large enclosures. I had the opportunity to visit a few of those renowned sheep farms in the Empire. Their scale was truly shocking.
“In my opinion, sheep as a species do not have the ability to survive on their own. Their survival is solely dependent on the tending and rescuing of others. Sheep do not have the slightest capability to defend themselves. The rams are more timid than the ewes. Even the tiniest peculiar sound is enough to make them cower. Therefore, they live in flocks simply to relieve their fears.
“Not only are they cowardly, but also stupid. They do not know what danger is nor do they feel it approaching. It seems that no matter what happens, they would stubbornly stay still. Even in the wind and rain, to get them to move, they must have a bellwether guiding them. In turn, the bellwether would also stay still unless it’s driven by a shepherd or sheepdog.
“Sheep are very frail. They cannot walk for long periods of time and they easily collapse from exhaustion. When they run, their heart beats too quickly that they would have trouble breathing properly. Extreme heat or cold can kill entire flocks. They are also easily susceptible to disease. Sometimes, simply being obese is fatal.
“Compared to sheep, goats are far more lively, healthy, and a bit more courageous. But overall, they are mostly the same. The habits and traits of these two species are not very different. Goats cling to humans and like to be petted. Humans can easily get along with goats. They are very easy to raise and all kinds of fodder can be turned into goat food.
“However, sheep are more popular. This is because sheep have a lot of wool that can be spun into textiles. Especially in recent years, there seems to have been a great innovation in textile technology and machinery in the Empire.
“The House of Sha Ta was also interested in this sheep business, so I was sent to the central region on an investigative trip. Unfortunately, the great nobles of the empire had intended to monopolize the textile machinery. Moreover, in the desert, soil is sparse, the environment is harsh, and the range of temperatures between night and day is great. All these factors make it impossible to create large-scale sheep farms.” As he spoke, the goats continued to be slaughtered.
Among the members, Huang Zao was the most conspicuous. Each stab of his halberd would pierce through three or four goats. Although he could not use battle qi, his physical capabilities that far exceeded that of an ordinary person were on full display.
The first task Zhen Jin had given to him was to round up the goats. With his goal of wanting to redeem himself through his deeds, and knowing that his every move was being observed, he was showing his best performance. But then, his unmatched halberd was blocked for the first time.
It turned out that the head goat had gotten cornered to the point it started to fight back. The physique of the head goat was twice that of the other goats, almost the size of a pony. It brimmed with a Bronze aura. The head goat spread out its hooves, positioned itself to face Huang Zao, lowered its head while flashing its sword-like white horns, and began to charge.
Clip-clop, clip-clop. The goat’s hooves clicked as it sprinted on the mountain. The sluggish head goat suddenly exploded with astonishing speed. Huang Zao clenched his teeth, readied his halberd in front of his chest, and stood his ground.
Lan Zao, who was attending to Zhen Jin, saw his younger brother’s intention and shouted in anger, “You idiot, get out the way! You can’t use battle qi!”
Huang Zao’s ears twitched. He heard his older brother’s warning, but he continued to clench his teeth and stay there. If I flee from battle again, what kind of impression will I make on the Master? Big brother, you are the one who’s the idiot! This time, I will wash away my shame! he thought. Filled with resolve, he opened his eyes wide and thrusted his halberd.
The tip clashed with the goat’s white horns. Then, Huang Zao’s complexion changed. The tip shattered and the halberd was deflected to the side. The head goat arrived right next to Huang Zao and at the critical moment of their collision, he barely held his halberd horizontally before his stomach.
Thump. With a dull sound, Huang Zao was thrown away. He arced through the air and fell onto the rocky ground covered with grass. His vision went black and he nearly lost consciousness.
“This guy…” Seeing his brother ignore his advice and nearly get disemboweled by the goat’s horns made Lan Zao clench his fists. He said with an intense will to fight, “Master, please allow me to sort out this goat for you!”
Zhen Jin, however, watched the scene with an impassive gaze. “Go down and tell Huang Zao to restrain it. I want to capture this goat alive.”
Lan Zao’s complexion immediately changed. He wanted to say something but Cang Xu held out his hand to stop him.
Cang Xu smiled. “To earn Lord Zhen Jin’s trust, Huang Zao used this chance to redeem himself from his past shameful deeds. He knew full well that his strength was no match for the head goat, yet still he chose to risk his life. Now that he has been stuck down, he should know that he needs to change his attitude.”
Lan Zao quivered and knelt on the ground on one knee. “Master is benevolent and magnanimous. Master knew from early on of Huang Zao’s unbalanced attitude and repeatedly gave him opportunities to adjust himself and contribute merits. This one was muddled. Please punish this one for his mistake.”
Zhen Jin smiled and looked at Lan Zao. “There is no fault in loving your brother. Watch from the sides. After all, Huang Zao is still weak. If he fails to capture it alive, you will do it in his stead.”
Lan Zao was moved to tears. He knelt on both knees and hit his forehead against the ground, making a dull thud. Then he rushed down the hill.
In the basin, Huang Zao had already picked up a new halberd and was preparing to attack again. On seeing Lan Zao coming over, he immediately became anxious. “Big brother, why are you here? Does the Master want you to replace me?” he asked.
Lan Zao coldly harrumphed and said, “The Master told you to restrain and capture the head goat alive. He has given you a chance to continue, and only when you are defeated will I take over.”
Huang Zao exulted, “Good!”
On hearing this, Lan Zao was so angry that he nearly slapped Huang Zao on the head. But he could not do anything but stand by the side.
All the ordinary goats were soon slaughtered, and the field was left to the showdown between the head goat and Huang Zao. Under the goat’s constant charges, Huang Zao was in a sorry state. Huang Zao had had some amount of confidence in killing the head goat with his halberd. However, the order to capture it alive left him at a loss.
Although both were Bronze lifeforms, Huang Zao could not use battle qi and was cautious and fearful when using his halberd. As a result, the head goat gained the upper hand. But Huang Zao was set on displaying his resolve and showed no signs of backing down.
After a short period of deadlock, they both were soaked in blood. The head goat was covered in slashes and cuts caused by the halberd. Huang Zao, meanwhile, had burns and bandages, and most of his blood was oozing out due to the strenuous physical activity.
Lan Zao was inwardly anxious. He had wanted to step in multiple times but seeing that his younger brother was still able to resist, he could only suppress his urges.
The head goat began to charge once again. Huang Zao’s strength had fallen into a critical state, and although he barely dodged it this time, he was powerless to retaliate. The head goat, however, did not turn around to continue fighting Huang Zao this time. Instead, it rushed out of the encirclement.
The encirclement was made up of exploration team members that only possessed ordinary battle strength. They cried out in alarm and got out of its way. They did not dare to use their flesh and blood to stop the wild head goat from escaping. Lan Zao was just about to step in when he heard Zhen Jin speak. “Enough. All of you withdraw. I will do it myself.”
“Master, I…can still fight,” Huang Zao cried out unwillingly.
“You idiot, hurry up and withdraw! Don’t spoil the Master’s mood,” Lan Zao reprimanded angrily.
Everyone focused their eyes on Zhen Jin. Ever since Zhen Jin became the exploration team’s leader, almost everyone was secretly speculating about his strength. Did he have Silver or Gold cultivation? Could he use battle qi?
As the goat charged over, Zhen Jin remained calm and collected. When the horns were about to stab him, he reached out and grabbed both horns at the last second with great dexterity. Then, he forced the goat down.
The goat’s charge came to an abrupt stop as its head was pinned to the ground by Zhen Jin. It kicked about frantically with its powerful legs, throwing grass and dirt up into the air. But from start to finish, Zhen Jin’s hands were as steady as a mountain. His entire body seemed like it was cast iron as it did not shake even in the slightest. It gave the impression that the goat was as weak as a baby in front of Zhen Jin.
Startled gasps came from everyone’s mouths, which soon turned into shouting and cheering. Huang Zao stared wide-eyed. Zhen Jin had not used battle qi. With his physical strength alone, he was able to overpower the head goat. Such strength won over Huang Zao.
Cang Xu was also quietly moved by this scene. He was fully aware that the physiques of humans and animals were not the same. If humans did not use their battle qi and only relied on their inherent qualities, it was actually really hard for them to compare to other beings of the same level. Humans were not born to run as fast as a horse, climb like a monkey, fly like a bird, or breathe and dive underwater like a fish.
Compared to the numerous beasts, a human’s greatest advantage was his intelligence. A human’s strength, speed, endurance, and so on were not sufficient enough to compete against wild beasts. Therefore, if a human had Silver battle qi and did not use it, and instead leaned on his own strength, it was most likely that he would lose to a Bronze magic beast.
Such physical quality… Cang Xu could not help but speculate, Does it mean Lord Zhen Jin really possesses Gold cultivation?