Chapter 42: A Small Victory
After breakfast, Zhen Jin faced everyone and said: “We have eaten all of our remaining rations.”
Everyone was silent as they stood straight, their minds were fully prepared for this result.
Zhen Jin sternly looked over everyone as his eyes swept past everyone in front of him.
“Now, anyone who is unclear about our situation, step forward!”
No one budged as all stood motionless.
Everyone had a grim expression as if boiling magma was within their chests—it was their fighting spirit built up after a long time, it was the intense thirst for survival!
“Very good. All of you are smart enough to understand what we will face if we lose.”
“These past few days, Lan Zao has conducted a comprehensive investigation, besides this nearby flying squirrel group, there are no other suitable targets.”
“Today, if we defeat them, they will be our food. If we lose, we will be their food.”
“I, Zhen Jin, as a templar knight and the sole heir of the Bai Zhen Clan, will be with you all. I will lead you all in overcoming this dangerous obstacle and reaping victory. Follow me to glory!”
Morale was vigorous, the unity of will was an impregnable stronghold.1
The team set off.
Very quickly, they arrived at the prearranged battlefield.
This battlefield had been meticulously arranged, the most obvious aspects of it were the short barriers made up of vines and bamboo branches.
These barriers were connected to each other and formed a very long defensive line.
If the flying squirrels wanted to pass through the defensive line, they would need to fly. This would give the team members a good opportunity to shoot at them.
There were three defensive lines.
Under normal circumstances, a river was the best obstruction as it was natural and didn’t need hard manpower to construct.
However, first of all, there was no river in the nearby vicinity. Secondly, the island’s rivers were also quite dangerous as the violent python vine often hid there. Not only did Zhen Jin encounter this gold level plant, but Cang Xu and the exploration team had also encountered it several times, paying a price in blood each time.
Under Zhen Jin’s command, Lan Zao went up alone, his back quickly disappearing from everyone’s view.
Most of the people formed battle formations. The battle formation was very simple with individuals lining up horizontally. This kind of formation was good for shooting at long distances.
Cang Xu and Zi Di stood behind the horizontal line at Zhen Jin’s side.
Zhen Jin began to silently pray.
“Great Emperor Sheng Ming, my god, thou art a wise and almighty god who can always seize victory on the battlefield. Thou art the god of knights, war, and victory. Grant me victory and I will use my conviction, honor, and the blood of my mortal enemies to increase the splendor of thy throne. O’ god, please hear my plea…”
The god did not respond.
Zhen Jin sighed to himself.
Normally when facing battle, all templar knights would pray. Emperor Sheng Ming would generally respond and bestow a divine spell to protect the templar knights.
But ever since Zhen Jin regained consciousness, he had prayed numerous times, but Emperor Sheng Ming had not responded.
This was also why Zhen Jin did not openly pray. Because if the divine spell did not descend, it would certainly give a vile impression and make the others think that this templar knight, Zhen Jin, could not get the favor and protection of his god. In this way, even before the battle began, the morale of his side would fall.
The current outcome was not beyond Zhen Jin’s expectations. He also rejoiced at his sensible choice.
The morning sun shone through the rose-tinted morning sky.
The forest gradually became immersed in sunlight and its dark green slowly became bright.
The air was still ice cold as everyone puffed out white mist that could be seen by the naked eye.
As time passed, the chirping of the birds increased.
Suddenly, a bird group flew from the front, breaking through the canopy and into the empty sky.
Lan Zao’s figure appeared before everyone once more.
He ran with all of his strength as a large group of flying squirrels squeaked behind him. There were a few among the group that emitted a bronze level aura.
The line of battle became slightly restless but soon returned to silence.
Zhen Jin’s eyes quickly flashed with a glint of brilliance, his spirit was roused—Lan Zao’s provocation was very successful.
At that moment, Zhen Jin loudly shouted: “Ready!”
The exploration team members had already been well prepared as they immediately drew out arrows and put them on their bowstrings in one synchronised motion.
One after the other, they pulled their bowstrings and were ready to fire.2
“Fire.” Zhen Jin again shouted.
The team members immediately let go, the bowstrings instantly vibrated as all the arrows flew.
Lan Zao’s steps did not pause as he saw the arrows flying, instead he immediately fell to the ground and took the opportunity to roll.3
A flying squirrel chieftain pounced air and bumped into the ground, its bump immediately created a small pit as turf and soil splattered all over.
Lan Zao used the inertia of the roll and quickly got up with a lifted shield in his hands.
Many of these shields had already been ready on the ground.
No arrow hit Lan Zao’s shield as the arrow volley converged into an integrated layer and struck down many flying squirrels.
A flying squirrel chieftain pounced towards Lan Zao’s back.
Lan Zao heard the movement as he suddenly turned the shield around and immediately swept the flying squirrel off with a thump.
“Ready—Fire!” Finding the opportunity when the flying squirrels were crossing the vine barriers, Zhen Jin shouted his commands again.
Dozens of arrows formed a thin arrow volley once more. Among them were several iron arrows fired from crossbows.
The arrow volley streaked across the air and precisely hit the flying squirrel group.
Several wooden arrows shot Lan Zao’s shield and his leather armor, but he was unharmed.
The crossbows were all manned by those good at shooting, they would not hit Lan Zao.
The remaining arrows were wooden and did not have metal arrowheads and only had a wooden arrowhead which was burnt black and sharpened.
It was only natural that these arrowheads could not deal Lan Zao any injuries nor would they threaten a flying squirrel chieftain. However, they could kill ordinary flying squirrels.
As the arrow volley descended, more flying squirrels fell to ground with some dying on the spot and others screaming in pain from their injuries.
After two rounds, more than a dozen charging flying squirrels had lost their fighting strength and had collapsed en route.
The flying squirrel group started to become disorderly.
The majority of them were still pursuing and attacking Lan Zao with a few directly attacking their formation.
“Ready.” Zhen spoke again: “Fire!”
On the third volley, everyone’s movements started to be uneven. Although the arrow volley was formed in the air, it was clear its concentration was not as good as before.
However, because the current distance between both sides had gotten closer, the arrows still caused the flying squirrel groups many injuries and deaths.
Bai Ya and Huang Zao simultaneously used their crossbows to target flying squirrel chieftains.
Although the arrows hit the squirrel’s head, it only knocked it back and didn’t wound it. Instead it aroused its fierce nature as it sped up.
In all, there were two flying squirrel chieftains.
One set its mind on Lan Zao, the other faced the frontline.
“Fight freely.” After Zhen Jin gave his command, he immediately fished out two daggers and with both hands, he threw them with explosive strength.
Almost immediately afterwards, both flying squirrel chieftains were pierced by a dagger and fell to the ground, they rolled over a few times due to inertia, and soon laid motionless. Scarlet blood rapidly flowed from the fatal wounds in their eyes and spread across the surrounding greenery.
This distance was already within the range of Zhen Jin’s throwing daggers.
Zhen Jin’s power was astonishing, the strength of his arms were far more formidable than a crossbow.
With no squirrel chieftain, the squirrel group sank into chaos. The team members freely shot as the few flying squirrels that rushed them died from being run through by wooden spears.
After a bit of a struggle, the few remaining flying squirrels were routed.
“Hah…we have won.”
“Both of those flying squirrel chieftains died by Lord Zhen Jin’s hand.”
“Our lord’s divine strength!”
Lan Zao returned with his shield.
Wooden arrows had pierced his shield and shoulder armor.
With one sweeping look, Zhen Jin knew Lan Zao wasn't wounded. He clapped Lan Zao’s shoulder: “Good job.”
“Everything depended on your lordship’s commands.” Lan Zao stooped and bowed respectfully.
Everyone understood that the key to this victory was Zhen Jin. His throwing dagger skills had stunned them as he simultaneously resolved the biggest threat of the two flying squirrel chieftains and completely crushed the flying squirrel group’s morale.
“Rest and reorganize for a bit and we will continue hunting.” Zhen Jin ordered.
“Yes, my lord!” The team members loudly agreed, their morale rose above that prior to the battle.
The way everyone regarded Zhen Jin was different than before.
Before, there were still doubts and worries at the bottom of everyone’s hearts, after all everyone knew that Zhen Jin staked everything on hunting this squirrel group.
No man knew what the outcome would be. Even if Zhen Jin had the status of a noble and a templar knight, he could not guarantee a successful hunt.
If they lost, the entire exploration team would perish. As for the leader Zhen Jin, he could not avoid shouldering the primary blame.
But the first hunt was a total victory,4 so everyone’s hearts were cleared of worries. Heretofore, some doubted Zhen Jin’s strategic decisions, however, now they saw it as wise and decisive.
“After all, Lord Zhen Jin is a templar knight!” Bai Ya’s eyes lit up.
“Yes, I am indeed lucky to be Lord Zhen Jin’s subordinate.” Huang Zao sighed endlessly.
“If we follow Lord Zhen Jin, we can set sail once again.”
Everyone discussed in whispers as they looked at Zhen Jin with reverence.
This small victory let them truly approve of Zhen Jin’s leadership.
Because Zhen Jin had achieved his initial promise and could genuinely lead them to victory and glory, proving that his mouth wasn't full of hot air.
“My lord, I knew all of this would not be a problem at all for you.” ZI Di also smiled at his side, her amethyst eyes revealing a faint trace of endearment.
Cang Xu coughed out some foul air and quietly said: “In this manner, the exploration team has averted danger.”
Their prior situation resembled hanging over a precipice, with one foot already in the air dangling.
Now with their complete victory, although their food hadn’t been replenished much, the outcome still swept the worries from everyone. The exploration team all closely revolved around their only core, Zhen Jin.
However, just as morale was rising and celebration was occurring, an unusual noise suddenly came to their ears from far off in the forest.
Densely packed squeaking incessantly fell on the ear.
The flying squirrels that ran away had actually arrived with a big army!
“Ah, a lot of flying squirrels are rushing over.”
“What could disturb this many flying squirrels?”
“We are only in the peripheries!”
In just one moment, the exploration team sunk into a panic.
“Ha ha ha!” Zhen Jin suddenly laughed heartily.