Chapter 37: I Am Confronted with a Difficult Decision
Cang Xu was a very erudite scholar and he could find many things from the corpses of magic beasts. Before Zhen Jin took over as leader of the exploration team, Cang Xu had assisted the team greatly.
Cang Xu had already seen an ordinary flying squirrel corpse before, however, if the flying squirrel chieftain was dissected and something abnormal was found, he wanted it reported to him immediately.
“My lord.” Bai Yai quickly carried the flying squirrel chieftain’s corpse over to Cang Xu.
“Oh, it's you Bai Ya.” Cang Xu nooded, his eyes immediately shifting to the flying squirrel chieftain carcass that Bai Ya was carrying.
“My lord, please take a look. Perhaps I may be a bit too anxious, but there are some abnormalities.” Bai Ya gave the flying squirrel chieftain’s body to Cang Xu so that he could examine it closely.
Cang Xu examined it for a moment and his expression gradually became serious.
“Bai Ya, you have done well.” Cang Xu praised him as he stretched out his hand to pick up the flying squirrel chieftain’s body. But immediately after, the old scholar sighed and reigned his hand back.
The old scholar was feeble and frail, he had even suffered magic corrosion from before. Although the poison was removed, his body was still harmed greatly.
“Go pick it up and follow me to report to Lord Zhen Jin.” Cang Xu said to Bai Ya.
“Yes my lord.” Bai Ya accepted the order at once.
Inside the tent, Zhen Jin and Zi Di were currently having a discussion regarding bows and crossbows.
“Because of the magic corrosion, the real combat power of the exploration team has dropped by a lot.” With no outsiders present, Zhen Jin revealed the deep worries in his heart.1“It was already hard enough to explore this island. Now we need to assume even greater risks.”
Zi Di hesitated before speaking: “Lord Zhen Jin, we have already hit our limit. In the short term, the exploration team’s situation will only remain like this. Unless we use a high level magic potion or a corresponding magic spell or a divine spell, and the like.”
“However, presently, we do not have any high level magic potions. And I would not suggest using it even if we did.”
“Because it is not cost effective.”
Regardless of whether it was a high level magic potion, a magic spell, or a divine spell, the cost would be huge. Just for the purpose of treating these ordinary people, even if there were two bronze level elites, the gains were still not worth the cost.
After a pause, Zi Di added: “As a matter of fact, there are many repercussions of magic corrosion. For instance, there are all kinds of oddities and even untreatable chronic diseases, a reduction in life expectancy, as well as more.”
Zhen Jin sighed: “We don’t need to consider those matters for the time being, right now I only want the actual combat strength to be increased. Do you think we can make crossbows?”
These past days, Zhen Jin realised from experience the benefits of long range attacks.
For instance, not long ago there was a bronze level magic beast: the flying squirrel chieftain. However, when Zhen Jin shot his dagger, it had suffered a mortal blow. When the flying squirrel chieftain died, the rest of the flying squirrels immediately fell into chaos, thus allowing the exploration team to grab this opportunity and scored a decisive victory with no casualties.
Zi Di spoke with consideration from the heart: “My lord, your method is correct. As long as we increase our long range firepower, we can supplement our combat power greatly while preserving our physical strength and helping reduce casualties."
“However, I fear we cannot make any right now.”
“Firstly, we do not have any crossbow craftsmen. Although the structure of crossbows are very simple, making them however, requires experienced skill. We are all amateurs.”
“Secondly, we don’t have a blacksmith. The truly strong crossbows use steel plates for the crossbow prod in order to have a high draw weight. The structure of a crossbow is also very meticulous, requiring metal wires. All of these things need a blacksmith to forge them. In addition, first rate crossbows need to have a mechanism installed to assist in drawing the bowstring, even the Empire is not able to mass produce this mechanisms. Every year, they are purchased large-scale from the Goblins of the Lava Continent.”
Scholars were not necessarily magicians, but all magicians were scholars.
Zi Di was the current president of the Wisteria Merchant Alliance, the arms market usually had the greatest profits, thus she understood crossbows well.
However Zhen Jin didn’t give up easily.
He still insisted: “I don’t plan to use steel plates for the crossbow prods, only a wooden board. We can dry tree bark and tear it up to make rope. This will be our bowstring. In fact, we have many magic beast tendons.”2
“Although the draw weight of these crossbows will be much lower, they would be easier to draw and it can be achieved with our manpower alone.”
“The only obstacle is the crossbow mechanism. Crossbow mechanisms are delicate and need specific metal components, the hardest part being the metal wires.”
“Zi Di, you're right, we don’t have a blacksmith. However, we only have a few people and don’t require a blacksmith to produce them in mass for our numbers. We only need you to use potions to corrode metal in order to form crossbow components and wires.”
Zhen Jin was also familiar with crossbows.
Despite not remembering many relevant memories, he still had common sense.
In fact, all templar knights had crossbows. These crossbows were comparatively small as they were specifically made for use while mounted.
Zi Di sighed: “I am very sorry my lord. Currently, I do not have any potions that can corrode metal into specific shapes. I do not have that potion with me. However, if we collect the appropriate materials needed, I could make it on the spot. But magic beasts with corrosive acid are not easy to deal with, it is highly possible that one would cause enormous casualties to the entire group.”
“In addition, there is something I want your lordship to pay more attention to.”
As she said this, Zi Di subconsciously lowered her voice.
“My lord, If your plans are executed smoothly, everyone in the group will have a crossbow. Such a group would not be easy to control and it would be very dangerous.”
Zhen Jin’s pupils shrunk.
Zi Di was right to warn him.
Zhen Jin recalled the time when Huang Zao fled.
“Do not overestimate people and do not also underestimate them.” Zhen Jin murmured in his heart.
It was hard to fathom the minds of men.
When facing his savior, regardless of whether it was intentional or otherwise, Huang Zao had fled with the dagger. On this island where danger lurked on all sides, what kind of extreme situation would show up in the future?
Looking at it now, all these people supported Zhen Jin as leader. But what if an extreme situation happened?
For example, if they were all fleeing from magic beasts, would someone shoot their companion with a crossbow in order to make them bait to distract and slow the pursuing magic beasts?
Especially in this kind of environment, where low and middle rank magic and battle qi could not be activated. Regardless of whether it was Zhen Jin or Zi Di, both were weak. A sharp sword or a flying arrow could be deadly to either of them.
People had fatal weaknesses.
The members of the exploration team were not soldiers of the Bai Zhen Clan. Cultivating loyalty usually needed time.
Zhen Jin was not someone who couldn’t listen to the opinions of people.
“If crossbows won’t do, then we can only try to use bows.”
“Long bows definitely won’t do as the jungle makes it too inconvenient to use them, moreover the requirements of the archers are also high.”
“Short bows could work, they are more convenient to make compared to crossbows. Still, it needs some training.”
Long range attacks firstly had to be accurate.
Because Zhen Jin had recalled more memories, he suddenly knew how to perform long range attacks, however such a situation was difficult to replicate.
The exploration team members were not proficient bow users, except for Bai Ya.
He was the son of a hunting family, using a bow was one of the methods he depended on to make a living.
If there was enough manpower, Zhen Jin could select bow experts to form a specialized division of archers. However, right now he had a severe shortage of manpower. The main reason why he wanted bows was to protect these people and to reduce casualties as much as possible.
“We can find wood everywhere here, thus making bows is not at all challenging. If we are individually inaccurate, then a group volley and barrage can make up for the deficiencies.”
“Still, it is necessary to conduct combat training, otherwise there would not even be a barrage of arrows.”
"However, carrying out training requires sufficient food.”
Zhen Jin began to feel a slight headache.
Drawing bows would consume a lot of physical strength, the higher the draw weight the more strength needed. Many crossbows needed to have the mechanisms installed, else manpower alone could not pull the bowstring.
The time an archer needed to aim was a time where one needed to maintain a taut bowstring, this also consumed a lot of physical strength.
As more physical strength was consumed, the more food was required.
Without food replenishments, recklessly training was absolutely asking for trouble.
Therefore to conclude, the problem originated from food.
The food shortage was the most serious issue right now.
Zhen Jin was in a state of vexation when Cang Xu and Bai Ya came looking for him.
The two brought the flying squirrel chieftain’s corpse with them.
“We have discovered something unexpected my Lord.” Cang Xu solemnly said.
Zhen Jin’s vision subconsciously shifted towards the flying squirrel chieftain’s corpse: “Don’t tell me you found a magic crystal?”
“Not at all.” Cang Xu motioned to Bai Ya.
Bai Ya after seeing Zhen Jin nod, lifted the flying squirrel chieftain's carcass onto the table.
Cang Xu then instructed Bai Ya to pry open the incision on the flying squirrel’s body, exposing vivid muscle texture.
“Lord Zhen Jin and Lord Zi Di, please look here.” Cang Xu’s finger pointed at the muscle texture.
Zi Di glanced at it and suddenly frowned: “Indeed, this is somewhat different from ordinary magic beasts.”
Zhen Jin also realized it, normally magic beast muscles were fibers bundled together, forming a whole. Yet the muscles of the flying squirrel chieftain were many thin sheets, overlapping closely like fish scales.
“Now look here at this second location.” Cang Xu then displayed the flying squirrel chieftain’s internal organs.
Zhen Jin and Zi Di made another discovery, the internal organs all had a white covering, similar to fascia but thicker.
Zi Di was puzzled: “This really is different from ordinary magic beasts. But, what does this distinctly different structure mean?”
Although Zi Di was a magician, she was not as erudite as Cang Xu.
Zhen Jin’s general knowledge also could not help him understand the scholar’s intentions.
Cang Xu saw the puzzled faces of the two and plainly explained: “I strongly suspect that this flying squirrel chieftain can discharge a strong electric current.”
“Eh? What do you mean?” Zhen Jin was puzzled.
“Squirrels can discharge electricity?” Bai Ya blattered.
Cang Xu continued explaining: “There is a special type of fish that thrives and inhabits the seabed or in big rivers, people call it the electric eel. The body structure of this fish and this flying squirrel chieftain are very similar. When they want to discharge electricity, all of the muscles will pulsate and produce a terrifying burst of electric current that can electrocute an elephant in an instant. But they also have insulating fascia in their bodies, that protects themself from the electric shock.”3
“Then why did this flying squirrel not emit electric shocks prior?” Bai Ya questioned.
Cang Xu shook his head: “This electrical shock is not magic, rather it originates from its unique bodily composition. Magic is when a magician uses their spirit to draw support from the elements according to laws in order to create something out of nothing. But electric eels have specialized organs and tissues. It's like being able to speak by having a throat and being able to fly by having wings.”
“Electric eels can at most produce electrical currents, they cannot control the current’s flow. But, electric eels live in water. If an intense electric current was produced, all underwater life near it would suffer a terrible electric shock.”
“With regards to the flying squirrel chieftain, even if it produces an electric current, it would all depend on its environment. Trees, the ground, and the air are all often strong hindrances to the electric current.”
“Therefore, only when the flying squirrel chieftain touches an enemy would its ability to deliver an electric shock be revealed. But beforehand, Lord Zhen Jin threw a dagger and killed it in midair, as a result this ability was also hidden for the time being.”
“It turned out to be like this.” Bai Ya suddenly realized.
Zi Di narrowed her eyes: “So, if we confront this kind of flying squirrel chieftain in the future, iron armor is instead a weakness. It would be best to wear thick leather armor.”
Cang Xu shook his head: “Leather armor is not enough to guarantee safety, the faces of people are normally exposed. At the same time, the claws and teeth of the flying squirrels are very sharp, it is entirely possible that they can tear the leather armor apart and shock them afterwards.”
Zhen Jin nodded: “So, the best way to deal with a flying squirrel chieftain is still long range attacks! However we have too few bows on us.”
Although Zhen Jin could throw accurately, he could not always kill in one strike so easily.
He was also not a nanny for the others and his subordinates weren’t the ones meant to be protected.
“My Lord, Lan Zao is here to report to you.” At this time, a voice came from outside the tent.
Lan Zao was a bronze level elite, therefore Zhen Jin had dispatched him to scout around them.
Zhen Jin called Lan Zao into the tent, discovering that the latter was cheerful.
“My Lord, good news! I have found where the flying squirrels gather, it is not far ahead. These flying squirrels have dug holes in the trunks of big trees and made nests there. I have roughly counted that there are many tree holes! This group of flying squirrels is very large, almost a thousand. If we attack, we can greatly replenish our food.”
Cang Xu muttered: “It seems that this kind of flying squirrel has not changed its nature of living in large groups.”
“Eh?” Zhen Jin raised his eyebrows as he subconsciously looked at Zi Di.
Zi Di knew Zhen Jin’s meaning and immediately said: “I have already tested them, common flying squirrel meat has no issues. Of course, the magic beast meat of the flying squirrel chieftain is something that cannot be eaten indiscriminately.”
Bai Ya shouted: “Hunting this kind of large scale squirrel group is very dangerous.”
Lan Zao glared at Bai Ya for an instant then looked at Zhen Jin, and took the initiative to request that he lead the assault against the flying squirrel community.
Cang Xu shook his head: “Lan Zao, you underestimate these flying squirrels. A bronze level flying squirrel chieftain can explode with an electric shock. This is a huge community, it is very possible that it has an iron level flying squirrel leader.”
“What?” Lan Zao stared blankly.
Zhen Jin sunk into reflection.
He found that he was confronted with a difficult decision.
But this time, Zhen JIn found it hard to decide: “This matter, I want to think it over carefully. All of you retire, go back to your respective work.”
“Yes my Lord.
“Regardless of what you decide, I will support you.” Zi Di left this sentence as she finally departed the tent.