Chapter 38: I Prayed to God

It was deep in the night, and a bonfire lit the camp.

The burning firewood would crackle from time to time, accompanied with sparks flying into the sky above.

This camp was not stable, although there was fencing which was hastily arranged, time was too short and so the short fence’s defence against magic beast attacks was negligible. The most it could do was psychologically comfort the exploration team members.

The real defence measures were the large amount of traps scattered in the camp’s surroundings.

If a ferocious beast attacked, these traps could hinder them and make a lot of noise that would alert the camp.

Of course, there were people all around the camp on night watch, providing another layer of protection.

In the past, most of the exploration team would already be asleep, however, tonight, not many were sleepy.

There were many people conversing around the bonfire.

The news about the flying squirrel’s abilities as well as the food shortage dilemma faced by the team were all well known.

“What should we do in this kind of situation?”

“Food is the most important thing! Without food, there would be no need for magic beasts as we all starve to death. No one would be exempted because no person can not eat or not drink.”

“I think we should get rid of these flying squirrels, even if the flying squirrel chieftains are strong, the majority of the flying squirrels are still ordinary beasts.”

“Hmph, believing that will get you killed. As long as the flying squirrel bites your flesh, one electric discharge would be enough to kill you. Even if the flying squirrel chieftains are rare, there are not many of us and it can easily kill us all.”

“Thinking back now, it really is terrifying. During the day, I was only five steps from the flying squirrel chieftain, fortunately, it died by Lord Zhen Jin’s hand.”

“Can the flying squirrel chieftain really discharge electricity?” Someone expressed their skepticism.

But he heard that it was Cang Xu’s deduction, he didn’t have any more doubts.

“Looking at it another way, this is all thanks to Lord Zhen Jin! If he hadn’t killed the flying squirrel chieftain in one attack, we would certainly be dead.”

“In my opinion, we absolutely cannot touch this beast group. Perhaps we might come across a better food source next time. That is the reason why we had better take a detour. Perhaps finding the main group is better.”

“Hmph, your way of thinking is too naive. Is there any food in the main group? You can’t forget that, the main group dispatched us not only to search the surroundings but also to look for food!”

“I don’t know how long the journey is to the beach where we can join the main group. It is very possible that we might run across an even more formidable magic beast on the road.”

“In the end, how long can our food support us?”

Cang Xu was lying in the tent as he listened to the outside voices, he looked up at the tent with the ceiling a clear mind: At most, the food would only last seven days!

But at this moment, Cang Xu was more concerned about the group’s state of affairs.

Every man had their own ideas, the group was disorganized, everyone had their own respective opinions, and at this moment, the leader needed to make the final decision.

However, although Zhen Jin held this position, his influence as a leader hadn’t yet entered deeply into the hearts of the people.

In the goat meat affair, it seemed Zhen Jin raised his leadership prestige through his good deeds. However, in the end, everyone got poisoned, the group was tormented, and not enough foodstuff was gained.

Thus, Zhen Jin couldn’t do anything to consolidate his authority.

“In that case, let's see what happens this time." Cang Xu’s mind said.

To be honest, this was not a good opportunity.

But reality was always this way, it was indifferent and merciless. There were always mishaps and difficult problems in it, not within people’s expectations. People cannot anticipate reality, let alone force it.

Regardless of whether it was Zhen Jin, Zi Di, Cang Xu, or even the entire exploration team, they had all been forced into a corner by reality.

“Only by overcoming this difficult reality can you truly become the leader of this group. Well then, Zhen Jin, our young leader, what will you choose?”

Cang Xu held this question as he slowly fell asleep.

“What should I choose?” Zhen Jin was lost in contemplation.

As the leader, he couldn’t escape this duty, he could only assume responsibility!

“Currently, the team does not have enough food, dealing with this flying squirrel group is one way to acquire food. But the risks are very high and the exploration team has insufficient strength. Suffering the electric shocks of a flying squirrel chieftain will inevitably cause disastrous casualties.”

“But I need a victory. A great and complete victory would be the ideal outcome. If it is only a pyrrhic victory with large casualties, it would certainly cause the remaining people to lose hope and would no longer look forward to my leadership.”

“At the same time, the scope of the exploration team is also not big. If there are large casualties, how can those remaining still support me in the White Sand City Lord competition?”

Besides this choice, Zhen Jin understood that there was another option.

“We could give up this flying squirrel community and continue exploring, perhaps we might find another good source of food in the future.”

“This choice will stabilise the exploration team temporarily, however, our food supplies will only last seven days. Who knows what we would encounter next.”

“It might be a weaker beast group, we might also encounter a terrifying magic beast that could destroy the entire exploration team.”

“If food is strictly rationed as much as possible, we could last over ten days.”

“But the risk of doing this is too great.”

“Once food starts becoming scarce, the will of the people will become frantic, they would even guard against each other, kill each other, and eat each other so that they can survive!”

“My prestige is not yet able to suppress these ideas. If this kind of situation occurs, the exploration team won’t just collapse, it would riot.”

“Not only me, but Zi Di will also be implicated!”

As Zhen Jin was contemplating, a sudden thought popped up.

This thought was so audacious and horrible to such an extent that Zhen Jin was scared—“If I was forced into desperate straits, would I kill and eat other people in order to survive?”

“No, how can this be a possibility! If I do this, is there any difference between me and a wild beast!? I am a templar knight.”

Zhen Jin felt deeply ashamed.

Templar knights represented light and courage, on the battlefield templar knights would always lead the charge, in life, they would uphold justice and protect the weak.

“As it turns out, being a leader is so challenging. I fear that I am moving towards insanity, otherwise, how else could I have such a dreadful way of thinking?”

At this moment, Zhen Jin clearly sensed that serving as a leader was not easy.

Leaders had to shoulder their own responsibility, they could not fail to live up to their subordinate’s trust, they needed to find the correct path when bewildered and guide everyone through predicaments.

Besides this, there were other things that Zhen Jin had to shoulder.

He thought of Zi Di, as he saw it, his fiancée had always trusted him, she had protected him with all her strength and gave him her steadfast loyalty.

He thought of his clan and his one-armed father. He could not die, he had to become the Lord of White Sands City and be the crux of the Bai Zhen Clan’s revival.

In addition, his pride as a noble and his honor as a templar knight…

As he was pondering, Zhen Jin’s brows tightly furrowed, his chest tightened, and he felt as if he were suffocating.

His tent was already the most spacious, but at this moment, the tent seemed like the claw of a giant monster that was closing around his throat.

Zhen Jin resisted the tremendous pressure as the voices outside the tent gradually grew quieter. Most of the exploration team entered their tents to sleep, while Zhen Jin felt more and more pressure.

After an unknown amount of time, Zhen Jin softly grunted and suddenly stooped over, he powerlessly sat on a marching blanket and leaned on the tent’s only wooden pillar.

“Hu hu hu…”

Zhen Jin gasped for air, his forehead soaked in sweat.

He felt intensely tired, this kind of tiredness was not a lack of physical strength, rather his from his mental exhaustion.

“In the end, what should I do?” Zhen Jin was still at a loss and very distressed.

He subconsciously knelt to the ground and began praying once more.

“O’ Great Emperor Sheng Ming, my god, thou art above the skies, and no fog couldst ever stop thy march. Thine hands hold the reins of the vast empire and guide millions of thine people towards victory. Thou art so wise, thou art so decisive, thou canst see through the course of destiny.”

“Now, thine humble and devoted believer prays to thee. I beseech that thou point out mine path, I ask that thou clear away the fog of fate, I request that thou bless and protect me so that I can uphold mine noble’s pride and mine knight’s honour.”

But, the god did not respond.

Zhen Jin waited.

He waited for his god’s response with indescribable expectation.

Time continued to pass by quietly.

The wait was endless.

Zhen Jin half-knelt on the ground, his head hanging low as he faced towards the Sheng Ming empire.1

It was a stubborn wait.

Zhen Jin showed unprecedented patience during this prayer.

Eventually, the ice-cold breath of night bored its way through the tent cracks and dug into Zhen Jin’s nose and penetrated into his heart and skin.

Zhen Jin’s heart seemed to chill as his anxiously waiting heart fell to the bottom of a valley.

At last, Zhen Jin realized the cruelty of reality—his god had not answered his prayer and Great Emperor Sheng Ming had no instructions for him.

Late into the night, it was completely dark inside the tent, there wasn’t a single ray of light.

The half-kneeling youngster Zhen Jin seemed like a stone statue.

After a long time, the stone statue sighed, stopped kneeling, and got up with difficulty.

Zhen Jin stamped his sore legs and feet to loosen them.

His eyes were dull and his heart was heavy. He knew that he could only rely on himself.

Without the guidance of god, the path ahead was darkness.

Yet he must continue on!

Staying put could only lead to death and would disappoint everyone.

Life was like this.

People often had to make all kinds of decisions, not knowing what the future would hold. Everyone knows how reckless their choices are! Yet people had to bear the consequences of their choices, whether it was sweet or bitter.

Zhen Jin could only continue to ponder.

Strangely enough, he no longer felt despair or hopelessness as he pondered like before.

It seemed like he broke through a limit, or maybe his god’s unresponsiveness made him realise that there was no one to rely on.

When early morning came and the sounds of birds singing grew did Zhen Jin realise that the entire night had already passed.

He lifted the tent flap just in time to see the morning sun.

The sunlight passed through the clouds and lit up the woods. The morning forest had a white mist that made the air seem cold and moist. Zhen Jin breathed in and felt a burst of freshness.

The moment he lifted the tent flap, he was a wise military leader who understood everything and would only make the most correct choices.

Even if he knew that he wasn’t, he had to act like it!

His face had no signs of hesitation for he had already decided!

Everyone quickly gathered to hear Zhen Jin’s series of orders.

“Lan Zao, for the next several days you will continue to sneak and investigate more information concerning the flying squirrel community.”

“Huang Zao, Bai Ya, and Cang Xu, you will be in charge of selecting wood, we will be making short bows.”

“Zi Di, I want you to make potions, it would be best if it can affect the flying squirrel chieftains as well.”

Yes, Zhen Jin had resolved to hunt the flying squirrels.