Chapter 56: Optimism and Hope
Zhen Jin looked around and immediately saw that everyone was uncertain, the young knight knew what they were thinking.
As their leader, he had to disregard his injuries for now and first attend to the entire team’s welfare.
Zhen Jin knew that in these desperate straits, where they were slowly sliding towards death and could do nothing to stop it, most people would collapse or even go mad.
Therefore, he gently laughed and consoled them: “Everyone, you all should be glad that this scorpion group treats us as a beast group and only I and their leader are dueling. Unless the outcome between us is determined, the scorpion group will not launch an all out attack.”
“Indeed, the reason why we are all still alive is due to your contribution Lord Zhen Jin!”
“But if what you say is correct…”
“Sooner or later we will also…”
The exploration team members hesitated with their words as they concurred.
Zhen Jin said again: “As long as we are still alive, there is still plenty of hope. For instance, if we find other people to assist us, we will be saved. Or if another sandstorm strikes and disrupts everything, or if we get teleported again away from here.”
Everyone looked at each other in dismay, wasn’t Lord Zhen Jin being a bit too optimistic?
Soon after, everyone began to talk.
“Lord Zhen Jin, the time between two teleportations is roughly half a month. It has only been a few days since we were teleported, such a possibility is impossible.”
“If there is another terrifying sandstorm like the last, it will be a disaster for us.”
“We are currently trapped in a desert of unknown size and in an unknown location. Who can come rescue us? The possibility is too small.”
Everyone spoke in twos and threes with dispirited expressions.
But Zhen Jin maintained his smile: “But it is still possible, no? When you all were on the sand dune, did you ever consider that I would save you guys? After I joined up with the group, did you ever consider that the scorpion group would come and help us?”
Everyone looked at each other in dismay again and sank into a period of silence, they had no choice but to admit that there was some truth to Zhen Jin’s words.
“Therefore, we can never give up hope.” Zhen Jin exclaimed. He then sincerely and earnestly said, “As long as we hold on to hope and don’t give up, then until death truly arrives, we will still have a chance for survival!”
“My lord, you are right.”
“With you my Lord, we have hope!”
Everyone’s eyes shined a bit brighter and their morale was boosted somewhat by Zhen Jin.
But shortly after, Zhen Jin changed the subject: “However, only placing our hopes in external help and changes is not the act of a brave man. It is more reliable to save ourselves.”
Zhen Jin looked around, his gaze temporarily halted on Zi Di before finally resting on Cang Xu: “Old scholar, what is your opinion?”
Zi Di had nearly used up all the potions on her, the strongest of them could create the green acid smoke. But after many repeated attempts, it was determined that the green acid smoke was ineffective against the scorpion group.
The desert was very barren and Zi Di lacked materials to make new potions.
So, Zhen Jin expected more from Cang Xu.
Cang Xu sensing Zhen Jin’s expectant gaze, shook his head and smiled bitterly: “I am very sorry Lord Zhen Jin, I do not have anything that can change the situation. In fact, I have always had misgivings. Why is this scorpion group chasing your Lordship? The biggest threat to their lives are probably the green lizards. They let the routed lizards go, yet are unwilling to stop pursuing your Lordship. According to what your Lordship has told us, the scorpion’s food is the golden granite. However, the scorpion group has always marked us as their primary target, this does not conform to reason.”
Someone mumbled: “What kind of reason exists in this damned place?”
“Perhaps, when Lord Zhen Jin provoked the scorpion group, you caused great damage which caused these scorpions to hate you and pursue you closely without ceasing.”
Zhen Jin shook his head: “I did kill a few scorpions, but it can’t compare to the amount of scorpion casualties the green lizards killed. As for the silver level scorpion, I fought it before. It injured my arm and my sword only left scars on its carapace, nothing more.”
“It seems we have to kill a spear scorpion and dissect its body to clearly understand their physiology in order to grasp this secret.” Cang Xu proposed.
He had a viewpoint—a lifeform’s composition greatly determined its habits and properties.
Zhen Jin approved of this viewpoint, in fact, when the exploration team was trying to survive, he had benefited greatly from it.
The only problem was that killing a scorpion from the group to dissect it was very risky.
Right now it was only a match between king and king, the scorpion group did not attack, rather they just watched every time the scorpion leader and Zhen Jin confronted each other. If the exploration team recklessly attacked a scorpion and dissected it, how would the scorpion group react?
The biggest possibility was that the scorpion group would attack and easily destroy the remaining exploration team.
Rashly killing an ordinary spear scorpion was too risky.
Zhen Jin’s group needed a good opportunity.
The sun was slowly setting.
It was no longer blinding to look at as it hung in the western sky like a round piece of iron that had been taken out of a furnace after being burnt red hot.
It became dusky and the barren desert became a dried yellow color.
Zhen Jin and the others continued to go forward.
Everyone had haggard faces, dry lips, swollen eye sockets, rumbling stomachs, and limp legs.
Food and water had begun to be rationed in the smallest quantities.
The scorpion group was hanging farther behind them.
During the entire journey, they crazily looked for things to eat. But the small insects and lizards had long been scared off by the scorpion group. Even when they encountered plants, the exploration team had to leave them behind after Cang Xu’s warnings.
These sporadic plants grew alone in the desert, had shriveled branches and tiny leaves, and had deep roots that ran into the depths of the earth.
None of these plants could be eaten, some of them even carried toxins and if pricked, they would be poisoned.
Cang Xu identified these plants so no one would dig them up and waste stamina.
As night fell, Zhen Jin and the others saw some massive boulders.
It was a patch of golden granite boulders.
The exploration team was not surprised.
During Zhen Jin’s journey, this place had once been a natural camp for him and it was also the first location of their fleeing.
With the golden granite boulders, Zhen Jin and the others could keep warm during the bone-chilling desert night.
They could even put rations on the golden granite to eat them warm.
If they were in a region without the golden granite, they would need to light a fire to keep warm.
Fire required fuel and there was no wood in the desert. If they wanted to make a fire, perhaps they would have to burn their own clothes as fuel.
Here, they weren’t troubled by having to light a fire and could save their survival resources.
Food and water were the most important resources for survival, clothes were also important because they could prevent sunburns and help keep one warm.
The night wind slowly blew across the surface.
The moonlight illuminated the desert.
On top of the biggest golden granite boulder, Zhen Jin retracted his gaze from distance.
Although the scorpion group also entered this golden granite patch, they were like Zhen Jin and decided to pull back and occupy a corner to quietly rest, they had no intentions of attacking.
Zhen Jin sighed in relief.
This situation was more favorable to him.
The vision of an ordinary human was very limited at night, and without batte qi to help, Zhen Jin was no exception.
Compared to humans, beasts and especially predators, had far better night vision capabilities.
As for how far these spear scorpions could see into the night, Zhen Jin did not know.
Just in case, there was always one man on nightwatch.
Hopping down from the golden granite boulder, Zhen Jin found Cang Xu kneeling in the ground and squinting at the map in his hands.
Although there wasn’t a fire, the light of the bright moon hanging over wasn’t too bad.
From time to time, Cang Xu used his finger to draw lines on the sand.
Sensing Zhen Jin had come over to his side, Cang Xu raised his head and continued to draw lines in the sand.
“My lord, I was just speculating about our location, the size of this desert, as well as the direction of the oasis.” Cang Xu explained without looking up.
Zhen Jin nodded: “Have you made any progress?”
“Alas, my Lord, you have to understand that this is a difficult task.” The old scholar sighed. “We do not have enough information. We do not know how big this island is, how big the desert is, and where the desert is on this island. The last time we were teleported into the desert, we were really lucky to find an oasis. But there were no landmarks in the desert and we do not know how far we are currently from the oasis without any ways of judging distance.”
“If the sun and the moon are not artificial and what we observe is real, and if our path of travel hasn’t changed, at least our direction can be determined.”
“If the island master did not meddle too much with the island, then it should still have a natural topography. Most islands have high topographic contours at centers and low topographic contours at edges. Therefore if we find a river and follow it down, we could in theory, arrive at the coastline. But we are in a desert right now…”
After talking about this, the old scholar sighed again: “I am very sorry my Lord that I cannot help you more. Our current circumstances are too terrible, I think we need luck, a great deal of luck!”
“Indeed.” Zhen Jin sighed as well.
The youngster looked worried as he recounted their current situation: “Our food can only support us for two days at most, and that’s if everyone uses the minimum amount.”
“What’s more troublesome is the scorpion group, it is very difficult to break away from them.”
“I must still remind you of one point, my Lord.” Cang Xu added. “The threat brought on by the scorpion group is not just death. Them continuing to follow us is a crafty and sinister hunting technique. It is like the red arrow haired hog from the Red Sands Gobi Desert who when attacking larger prey, will shoot arrows at them, and then chase them vigorously until their prey dies of blood loss. Constantly being in weak health will destroy any resistance.”
“Maybe the scorpion group is using this exact tactic.”
“Even if the scorpion group doesn’t launch an all out attack, without food supplements, we will become increasingly weaker.”
“Not only will our bodies weaken but also our mental states.”
“The longer we suffer the scorpion group's pursuit, the more the pressure will accumulate and the more vulnerable we will get. For ordinary people to survive in this extreme environment, they absolutely need to maintain hope and a tranquil heart.”
“I know from many records, desert mirages might seem to be harmless, however, they are actually very dangerous. If a desert survivor can’t discover the truth of a mirage, falling down that deep chasm of despair after experiencing hope would make it easy for them to collapse, thereby causing them to renounce their everyday principles and even giving up on their life.”