Chapter 29: A Poisonous Issue
Cang Xu was clear about the division of power between Practitioners. A Silver battle qi cultivator, if not using battle qi, would be able to lift objects weighing up to three hundred and fifty kilograms, hit with eight hundred kilogram-forces, and face twenty to thirty ordinary adult men in battle with no problems at all. Their tolerance of the environment and pain would exceed that of a normal person. They would still find a powerful bow or crossbow dangerous.
In other words, Silver battle qi cultivators were still within the category of human and were restrained by the human body’s structure. They represented the limit of the human body’s physical development. However, when one becomes a Gold battle qi cultivator, the quality of their battle qi is greatly improved and this battle qi would nourish and transform the flesh to completely surpass mortal limits.
Without using battle qi, a Gold powerhouse could run at a speed of one hundred and twenty kilometers per hour and lift an object weighing about ten metric tons. When facing a magnificent army of thousands of men wielding swords and riding horses, they would be able to cut down their general, seize their standard, and traverse the length and breadth of the field unhindered. An ordinary bow or crossbow was no threat to them at all. But enchanted ones would still pose a hazard to them.
While the fight between the head goat and Huang Zao was taking place, Cang Xu saw several times the goat crashing into trees, knocking the towering things down. This proved that although the head goat was only a Bronze, when it gave its all, the impact force of its charge was very powerful, far more than an ordinary heavy cavalryman’s charge.
Human Silver battle qi cultivators relying purely on their body’s strength would not be able to resist such a charge. Yet Zhen Jin effortlessly intercepted the head goat which had had a long run-up distance for its charge. The power displayed had surpassed the realm of Silver.
Therefore, Cang Xu suspected that Zhen Jin possessed Gold battle qi. As far as I know, the bloodline of the House of Bai Zhen does not excel in strength but is outstanding for its precision. If a knight had a support spell such as the Strength of the Bear acting on them, they could also do the same. However, with the magic restriction here, low-level support spells would fail to function. Maybe he took a strength potion?
Ultimately, Cang Xu thought of the possibility of Gold cultivation again. If Zhen Jin really is a Gold powerhouse, with such strength, with such talent, the House of Bai Zhen will definitely rise again!
As Cang Xu watched attentively, Zhen Jin suddenly shook his arms, and holding the head goat by its horns, he fiercely lifted it high into the air. Then, he ruthlessly flung it away. It fell to the ground and struggled a few times before getting back up on its legs. It looked dazed as if the fall made it stupid.
But its eyes turned red shortly after and ruthlessly charged toward Zhen Jin again. Zhen Jin pinned it down, let it struggle for a while, and threw it afar all the same again.
After several instances of this, the head goat’s unwillingness, anger, hatred, and so on dissipated and were replaced by dread and trepidation directed toward Zhen Jin. Eventually, the head goat stopped charging. After falling on the ground, it got up and stood still there.
Zhen Jin took the initiative and walked toward it. As he approached, the head goat bleated and bowed its head. It averted its eyes from him and its bleeding body trembled. Zhen Jin petted its head and then its horns. The head goat shook even more greatly with fright and lay down on the ground.
Under many worshiping eyes, Zhen Jin nodded with satisfaction and ordered, “Take it away and treat it a bit. Feed it but don’t satiate it.”
“My Lord, are you trying to tame this goat as a mount?” Seeing that the fight ended, Cang Xu approached.
Zhen Jin nodded, smiling as he asked, “Do you think it’s possible?”
“Of course, it is,” Cang Xu smiled and affirmed. “As far as I know, goats are the most common mount in the dwarven continent. Goats are extremely skillful at trekking through towering mountains and precipitous ridges. As young as one year old, a wild goat can climb up a snow-covered cliff, crossing many obstacles that we humans cannot surmount along the way. However, I do not know the exact method of domestication.”
Zhen Jin nodded and asked again, “Are there tamers among the survivors of the Hog’s Kiss’ shipwreck?”
Cang Xu shook his head. “I do not think there are.”
“It’s alright. If the Hog’s Kiss didn’t have one, I can just find one in White Sands City, can’t I?” Zhen Jin patted the old scholar’s shoulder.
In this battle, he had gained what he wanted. Subjugating the head goat to tame it as a future mount was only a minor benefit. The main point was that he had shown how powerful he was in the eyes of the exploration team. His influence over them had received a great boost.
He had learned his lesson from Huang Zao's betrayal. Once was more than enough. Zhen Jin had inscribed the motto of the House of Bai Zhen in his heart. He kept Huang Zao under his watch. On the one hand, it was to squeeze out his value while on the other hand, he used him to constantly remind himself of how to become a qualified leader.
He looked around and let out a heartfelt sigh. This land is a treasure trove! This was the first time he had found such a paradise on this island.
When the exploration team got to work, they were pleasantly surprised to find that the size of the goat flock exceeded previous investigations. For unknown reasons, the goat flock had multiplied unchecked here so as to have simply flooded it. There were several flocks numbering over a thousand goats and even more flocks that numbered in the hundreds. The flock they rounded up was one of the latter.
The exploration team members began to process the carcasses. The first step was to bleed, then skin, and then disembowel. Afterward, one part of them began cutting the chevon, while another part of the team washed the goatskins and stomachs.
After the chevon was cut up, it was set up on a campfire and smoked. This would remove the moisture in the chevon, allowing it to be preserved for longer.
After the goatskins were washed, they were also smoked and dried. Goatskin could be made into leather clothes and goat stomachs could be made into water skin.
The exploration team was busy for three days. Under Zhen Jin’s command, they hunted three more flocks, and with him taking action, the Bronze head goats yielded. The adult goats were killed, but some of the kids were left alive under Zhen Jin’s special instructions.
These goats were easy to feed, thus they kept tens of kids as well as four Bronze head goats. Altogether, they were not much of a burden. This was the benefit of having more manpower. If it were only Zhen Jin and Zi Di, they would not have the spare energy to do all this.
On the fourth day, the exploration team officially returned to their journey. Their appearance had changed dramatically. Almost everyone wore leather clothes. These were crudely made, with simple holes cut out for the head. Under the armpits on either side were threads woven from rattan that tied the front and back of the goatskin together.
The green-black wool was on the inside while the yellow goatskin was on the outside. On the backs of each man was a huge goatskin bundle that mainly contained smoked chevon.
In addition, there were also water skins. Many water skins made from goat stomachs were attached to everyone’s waists. Food and water reserves were stocked aplenty, almost to the limit of what the team could bear.
Huang Zao was at the front, scouting ahead. Zhen Jin, Zi Di, and Cang Xu walked in the middle of the group. At the rear, Lan Zao was in charge of herding the goats.
The head goats now had simple rattan reins on them and heaps of supplies hung on their sides. The supplies were mainly meat and potable water, and, among other things, folded tents, and spare weapons.
Throughout the morning, the team trekked up and down the montane forest. They only rested a few times, each respite no more than a quarter-hour.
At noon, they rested for half an hour. The team was divided into two groups. One stood guard, inspected their supplies, and did other surveys while the other sat down and ate lunch.
Cang Xu inspected the front and rear meticulously and made sure that no one was missing, and that food, water and other supplies were accounted for. The goats, who were the most worrying, were also tranquil.
Behind the cracked glasses were the old scholar’s carefully watchful eyes. He found that the group that was eating was very relaxed. Some were teasing each other, while others were kneading their calves as they ate. The group standing guard stood with their eyes fixed and backs straight.
The exploration team’s morale was high. Cang Xu had been with the exploration team ever since they had set out. He had never seen these people exuding such elan, and he understood what the key cause of this was.
It was not the savor of smoked chevon, nor the relative peace of their journey, but the young knight, Zhen Jin. He was the one that brought about the change. His great strength gave everyone a strong sense of security and greatly raised hope in their hearts.
Huang Zao and Lan Zao became his servants and they worked hard for him. Although Zhen Jin had not shown his battle qi, he still had a deep background and was suspected of having Gold cultivation.
Along the way, Zi Di had been with Zhen Jin, never going further than an inch. She was the president of the Wisteria Merchant Guild, and her skill in making potions in the last several days also came to Cang Xu’s mind.
Cang Xu’s gaze finally rested on Zhen Jin. During his life, he had met many nobles. He was certain at this point that among young nobles, Zhen Jin was among the handful few at the top. He had talent, strength and even more remarkably, he was a qualified leader. Under his influence, the exploration team had rallied together and their morale had soared.
Cang Xu could foresee the currently down and defeated House of Bai Zhen would rise once more because of Zhen Jin. If it were possible to follow such a lord, to witness his successes and exploits step by step, to be a part of the Bai Zhen House’s rise, then, perhaps centuries later, as a scholar, my name would accompany him and be recognized as a symbol of wisdom by future generations. What a wonderful thing that would be. Alas, a pity. If only I could have met such a nobleman when I was younger…
The old scholar’s face did not show the slightest hint of the regret that he had in his heart. He walked over to Zhen Jin’s side, and, in the same respectful tone he always used, reported the results of his inspections.
“Very good, Mr. Cang Xu. Thanks to your suggestion, we hunted enough meat and have an abundance of reserves. Now, come sit down. Let’s have lunch together,” invited Zhen Jin.
Cang Xu replied, “My suggestion was secondary. If my Lord hadn’t led the way, we would not have what we have now.”
Zhen Jin smiled. These days interacting with Cang Xu made him more and more pleased with the scholar. He may look ordinary but his mind was not. It was he who decided the direction the team went toward and all he used was a wooden stick thrust into the ground and the sun.
Cang Xu’s attitude and demeanor always upheld Zhen Jin’s noble status. This allowed Zhen Jin to feel comfortable. He was also very capable and reliable at handling affairs. Thus the more Zhen Jin used him, the more pleased he was.
If Cang Xu had strength, even if it were only Iron, he would be the most optimal candidate for a noble’s steward. Unfortunately, he lacked aptitude for the Practices, which was truly a pity.
Even so, Zhen Jin wanted Cang Xu by his side as much as possible. He was a talent. One more learned than Zi Di, and she was a magician.
Of course, this was because Zi Di was too young. Furthermore, when she was studying, most of her time and energy was spent learning pharmacology. Zhen Jin could guess the reason why Zi Di did so. Good pharmaceutical products had great market prospects and could be lucrative.
The farther they removed from the snowy mountains, the warmer it became. The midday sun was at its most intense and the new leather clothes began to exhibit their efficacy at insulation. Perhaps because of having eaten their fill, everyone began to look a little listless.
Without any warning, a fatal crisis quietly struck this tranquil atmosphere. It began with a shout from one of the young men of the exploration team.
“Lord, my Lord, not good! The kids are lying on the ground motionless, all dead!”
“What?” Zhen Jin paled.
Those kids were very useful. On the one hand, the exploration team could eat them in case of an emergency. On the other hand, if they reached White Sands City smoothly and the kids were still alive, they could be reared and domesticated. In this way, Zhen Jin could raise some calvary.
Having had his plans destroyed, he immediately stood up and wanted to personally investigate. “Do you know the cause?” he inquired of the young man.
He recognized the young man. His name was Bai Ya, born to a hunter’s household. He had embarked on the Hog’s Kiss to White Sands City to join the army.
Bai Ya looked flustered. He shook his head and replied, “I-I don’t know. Everything just happened suddenly, my Lord.”
Zhen Jin grunted in understanding and was about to step forward when a sudden intense burst of vertigo assaulted him. He was caught off guard and violently shook, almost falling to the ground. He barely remained standing and found the exploration team members who had just been in high spirits all swaying side to side and collapsing to the ground.
Almost instantly, most of the exploration team lost consciousness. Zi Di, Huang Zao, and Lan Zao were holding themselves together with difficulty.
Huang Zao suddenly pulled out his dagger from his bosom and shouted angrily at Bai Ya, “Everyone is poisoned, but how come you’re alright? Did you poison us‽”