Chapter 41: Insisting on Staking It All on One Throw
Three arrows could actually influence the outcome of the battle greatly.
Because one party was not harmed due to firing from a distance while the other party would slowly dwindle.
In battle, one on one and two on one were two completely different situations.
The core of the so-called art of war was to use various methods to create situations in which more was fighting less, forming a superiority in combat strength.
In addition, the flying squirrels were not zombies, since they were natural life, they would have morale. A prior example was when Zhen Jin dispatched the flying squirrel chieftain and caused the remaining flying squirrels to flee in all directions.
In fact, they could not shoot many arrows.
If they shot many arrows, it would greatly consume their physical strength. All of them were only wielding bows temporarily, their stamina should be saved for close-quarters combat else the gains would not make up for the losses.
The next task was bow fine-tuning, Zhen Jin gave Bai Ya the responsibility of supervising it.
Huang Zao and Lan Zao had limited leadership ability, at most they could lead a squadron to assault the deck of a ship.
As for Zhen Jin himself, he could not fine-tune bows. Cang Xu and Zi Di even more so.
The hunter Bai Ya only had ordinary strength, if they hadn’t fallen onto this island, he would have vanished into obscurity, he was too mediocre. But in the current situation, he could rely on his abilities to blossom and shine brightly.
Regarding him, this island possessed enormous danger, but it simultaneously also possessed enormous opportunities.
“In the end, I still have too few talented subordinates. Those who have a little talent like Bai Ya can even distinguish themselves from the others.” Zhen Jin sighed secretly.
Bai Ya led several people to fine-tune bows, of course, the remaining individuals wouldn’t be idle.
Huang Zao continued hunting, his main target was not to acquire food but to target wild birds and harvest their feathers.
Lan Zao continued to investigate the environment around the flying squirrels.
Wooden shields, as well as hunting traps, were all made one after the other.
Hemp rope was also being weaved from tree bark, the short ones used for bowstrings, the long ones used for bindings, like for shields. Hemp rope reserves continued to rise, these things were very unremarkable but very practical.
No one could estimate how long they would be on this island for, so it was important to stockpile things like ropes as much as possible.
According to Cang Xu, there were many uses for hemp rope.
In addition to its function as rope, hemp rope could be coupled with itself to weave a net. Nets could store things, form clothes, and create straw sandals.
Cang Xu was also participating in this by supplying a very simple and crude loom.
This loom used a dozen stakes thrust into the ground, forming two rows. One row had the stakes regularly spaced, and they were all fixed in place with a horizontal wooden stick.
After the small wooden stakes were wound up, a pattern of ten vertical threads formed. Raising one wooden stick would lift up half the threads accordingly.
At this point, the horizontal thread was tilted for insertion. As the threads descended in, the horizontal line and the ten vertical threads would be interwoven, completing the basic operation of weaving.
Repeating this motion ten times, one hundred times, would form a piece of cloth smoothly.
This loom was extremely primitive, its efficiency could not compare to the looms used in the Empire, it was like the difference between heaven and earth. A person could work for half a day and would only produce enough cloth to cover their ass.
However, it really did save an enormous amount of manpower and physical resources and was much more efficient than weaving by hand.
The exploration team members working with this loom sighed profusely over Cang Xu’s profound scholarly knowledge. However, Cang Xu told them that he actually acquired knowledge of this loom from his research on the beastmen.
Compared to the Human Empire, the beastmen despite occupying the Wilderness Continent, they were formed from widespread tribes with generally lower living standards and productive capabilities. This kind of loom was generally used by the beastmen.
As for Zi Di, she was mainly in charge of making poisons. Zhen Jin explicitly told her that he required a poison that could naturally dissipate, or fade when boiled in water or when roasted. Either that or a poison that was only effective against the flying squirrels and did not harm the human body.
After all, Zhen Jin was hunting the flying squirrels for food. If the poison was too strong, even if the flying squirrels died from poison, they couldn’t be used as foodstuffs. With regards to the entire exploration team, the losses would be far higher than the gains.
The current environment was very simple and crude, Zi Di could only give it an attempt as she issued a request—she wanted live flying squirrels to experiment on.
Zhen Jin then secretly left together with Lan Zao to probe the flying squirrel community.
Cang Xu remained in camp to command and supervise.
After finishing bow fine-tuning, Bai Ya also led everyone to start test firing.
That evening, the leaders met again to communicate their respective gains.
Zhen Jin and Lan Zao captured three live flying squirrels, handing them all over to Zi Di.
Huang Zao wasn’t able to catch anything, hunting was not about combat power. He also lost some iron arrowheads. These iron arrowheads were very valuable, and using one was to lose one.
But he wasn’t empty-handed—Huang Zao had failed the hunt, he could only go further away to try his luck, resulting in the unexpected discovery of a small bamboo forest.
Bamboo was a very outstanding natural resource, bamboo joints were a natural water vessel. Bamboo could be used to make bamboo rafts and sharpened bamboo could be made into traps.
“Shoot!” Huang Zao commanded, many arrows flew out with a whoosh.
There were ten crude targets set up one hundred and twenty paces away.
The arrow targets had charcoal drawn concentric circles, however, nevermind the inner circles, arrows hitting the targets were very rare.
The target circle was a bit small, about the same as a flying squirrel. But in a true battle, everyone needed to shoot flying squirrels that were moving.
Therefore, this kind of archery result was not acceptable.
“Your posture is wrong.”
“Straighten your waist and arm.”
“Steady, steady. What are you shaking for‽”
Huang Zao assumed the position of the military instructor.
His brows were wrinkled as his chest felt immense pressure.
The best archer in the exploration team was of course Zhen Jin.
The second best was Bai Ya, the youngster’s archery was still above Huang Zao’s. After all, this craft was what fed him and earned him his livelihood year after year.
Hunters would not risk their lives in combat when hunting, this was only one of their methods to make a living. Besides hunting dogs, hunters also relied on traps. Bows were also used a lot. Excellent hunters upon encountering a large beast that they could not hunt would choose to concede or retreat.
Huang Zao and Lan Zao were experts in close-quarters combat and when they were shooting at long ranges, crossbows were used more than bows. They lived on ships, therefore they deliberately practised archery.
Huang Zao’s hunt yesterday was a total mess, so today Zhen Jin arranged for him to be the interim military instructor.
In order to redeem his face, Huang Zao tried very hard.
Although Huang Zao’s archery wasn’t nearly as good as Bai Ya’s, for training others, he was more reliable.
Bai Ya’s archery relied more on feeling, it was completely barbaric.
Huang Zao at least had been trained and knew the key points in archery.
“First is personal assault training, afterwards we will practice volley firing. With this level of archery, even the most basic of arrow volleys cannot be set up.”
Zhen Jin was inspecting the training and looked at the situation. His heart was rather anxious, but his face did not reveal even a fraction of his emotion.
Today, Bai Ya was hunting and replaced Huang Zao. The primary target was still fowls because the exploration team needed more feathers to make arrow tails.
No one hoped that he could hunt sufficient food.
Individuals hunting by themselves was very risky and their efficacy was quite low. Most of them could only pray for luck at catching their next meal.
Throughout the Empire, a hunter’s life was very arduous.
So as the proverb says: Hunting was not as good as herding and herding was not as good as farming.
Under normal circumstances, hunters could not fill their bellies. Compared to hunters and herders, the lives of farming peasants were the most steady and their quality of life was the most guaranteed.
Hunters seemed like meat-eaters, but in fact, the majority of hills and forests were noble territories who didn’t allow hunters to poach and would severely punish them if caught.
In this situation, the exploration team could only rely on large scale hunting to meet their food consumption demands.
Today’s training continuously went from morning to evening. After supper, the exploration team members had no desire to speak or smile as they collapsed into their tents to sleep.
In Zhen Jin’s tent, Cang Xu respectfully reported the grim situation with an austere face.
“Lord Zhen Jin, we do not have much food, we are rapidly consuming our reserves. At this rate, we cannot last many more days.”
Zhen Jin’s expression was calm, his mood was also tranquil.
His reaction to this point was very odd. These two days, he had originally been very fretful but had gradually calmed down.
He had adapted to the pressure and instead consoled Cang Xu: “We must train our archery expertise, this matter cannot be hurried. We can only grind our teeth and persevere! Without a foundation in archery, recklessly rushing to fight will not benefit us. This kind of training does indeed consume physical strength, thus raising our food consumption. However, using up food now will improve our archery skills and reduce the number of people we will lose when fighting close-quarters. It is worth it.”
“I understand my lord.” Cang Xu nodded, “But right now, we are running out of food. Everyone knows this, and everyone is very worried.”
Zhen Jin smiled: “Tell them clearly how much rations we have left. If it is necessary, let everyone look at our food reserves with their own eyes.
Cang Xu’s look changed, he replied heavily; “I understand my lord.”
The shooting range.
Despite aching arms and obvious swelling, the exploration team members were solemn as they grit their teeth and relentlessly trained.
They were all clear about the food reserves and had a clear understanding about their situation—now they needed to stake it all on one throw, if they failed the hunt, they could only wait for death!
Under this kind of pressure, all of them were energetically striving to train their archery as much as they could.
Although the early stages of their training was an eyesore, after everyone adapted, their arrow shooting situation turned for the better.
Hitting the bullseye was very rare, but the vast majority of fired arrows could hit the target.
Seeing the archery performance stabilize, Huang Zao immediately removed the fixed arrow targets and switched to moving targets.
These moving targets were short wooden stakes fastened with hemp rope with the other end of the rope tied to a tall branch. After the stakes were pulled up and released, they would sway below the tree.
Huang Zao demanded that the exploration team members shoot the stakes.
Their performance immediately declined and became worse than before!
No grumbling occurred as everyone knew that during real combat, the flying squirrels would be faster than the stakes and could move in different directions.
Practice, keep practising.
Everyone cherished each moment.
During lunch, the team members kept silent, the atmosphere was very heavy.
The minds of many were tense as they constantly pondered and reviewed—what should they do to improve their shooting ability.
As they rested in their tents, they also tried to practise bow motions even if they didn’t have a bow.
After training, the team members pinched each other’s arms.
Many people could not raise their arms. Swollen arms were everywhere.
Fortunately, Zi Di provided medicine.
This potion was made at the last moment, the original potion was effective even for practitioners so when the diluted version was now used on these average team members, it still had a powerful effect.
Both the externally applied potion and the orally ingested potion was provided and synergized with each other. After a night’s rest, their arms were more or less recovered.
Dinner greeted everyone with a meager fare soup.
Bits and pieces of wild herbs were sprinkled as seasoning.
One after the other, the looks of the exploration team changed, but no one said anything.
All of them were clear about the grim situation.
“Cang Xu, come at once.” Zhen Jin distantly sounded.
“Why are we having only this for dinner?” Zhen Jin seemed to question Cang Xu.
“My lord, we don’t have enough food. We can only do this!” Cang Xu replied to Zhen Jin.
Zhen Jin retorted: “But I remember that we still have reserves. It is unlikely to reach this level!”
“My lord, those remaining rations are kept for you and Lord Zi Di.
“Take them out.”
“Take them all out! Without eating one’s fill, how can one train and fight?”
This dialogue shook the hearts of those who heard it, and many showed moved expressions on their faces.
“My lord, I ask you to let us attack.” On the same evening, the team members actively looked for Zhen Jin to request that they attack.
But Zhen Jin refused this request: “Train. You all still need to train!”
Train, train, still training!
As evening fell, Zhen Jin examined the results, he was joyous to find that five out of ten arrows could hit the target.
The moving target was comparatively big, much bigger than a flying squirrel. But this kind of performance had already reached Zhen Jin’s standards.
He never wanted to cultivate the team members into marksmen, it was impossible in a short period of time. In any case, the team members’ aptitudes set an upper limit on their shooting ability.
But a volley of arrows could make up for insufficient accuracy.
This level of shooting technique was enough to form a standard arrow volley fire.
That afternoon, Cang Xu also came to advise Zhen Jin: “We should attack my lord.”
“Again, hold on.” Zhen Jin was more firm.
This kind of calm focus made even him feel somewhat surprised.