Chapter 60: Food
When Bai Ya collapsed, everyone felt worried and indignant, not only because Bai Ya had a good relationship with them, but also because they were terrified.
They were terrified that they would be the next to lapse into a coma and resign themselves to fate.
But Zhen Jin’s current conduct made everyone understand: the young knight before them had a true knight’s virtue!
The sand dunes endlessly undulated.
With no stretcher, the people had to take turns carrying Bai Ya on their backs.
Not long after, everyone moved to the backside of a sand dune.
Sensing movement, the scorpion group drilled out of the ground and followed them to the new location before drilling down into the sand again.
“After they drill into the sand, it seems they cannot directly change their underground position.” Cang Xu analysed.
This was good news but also not much better.
If everyone had mounts, perhaps they would have enough speed to free themselves from the scorpion group.
Nevertheless, this was their current situation: one group of extremely exhausted people that could not compare to the scorpion group’s speed. What’s more, they also had a comatose person that encumbered them enormously.
After noon passed but before dusk approached, Zhen Jin once again led everyone forward.
The scorpion group quickly appeared behind them.
The silver level spear scorpion also came to fight Zhen Jin once more. After fighting for a short while, it retreated of its own accord once again.
Zhen Jin helplessly watched it withdraw with no way of stopping it.
The crack in the spider blade expanded and Zhen Jin did not know how long it would last.
Without it, the situation would become even worse. Common iron swords could not threaten the scorpion carapace.
This kind of battle had happened several times more, and everyone gradually went from scared and on edge, to becoming numb to it.
Dusk approached as the sun fell to the horizon, as the sky dimmed, the mood of everyone also sank.
“Is there really no way?”
“Lord Zi Di, is there a potion that can kill these wretched scorpions?”
Zi Di shook her head. If she had one, she would have already used it.
“We might as well stop fleeing and die together with these wretched scorpions!” Someone irritatedly cried.
“That speaks to my heart.” Another endorsed.
Some people also sneered in opposition: “Die together? You think too highly of yourself. If we rush over there, we would only end up being cut apart by that silver level magic beast.”
“What did you say?”
“And, what did you say?!”
Anger flared up amongst the exploration team as all of them looked at each other belligerently.
Someone put Bai Ya on the ground, sat down, and grumbled: “Hey, if you guys have the time and strength to quarrel, then you guys might as well help me carry this guy on my back.”
“This youngster is very heavy.”
“It’s good for him that he passed out, since he doesn’t have to exert himself to walk and can conserve his energy.”
The two quarreling men faced the man on the ground and one of them coldly snorted: “It’s not like I haven’t carried him before, moreover, I have carried him for longer than you. Just this little while and you’re already unable to handle it any longer?”
The other cast a sideways glance at Cang Xu, he then said in a peculiar tone: “In my opinion, the one who should carry Bai Ya the most is the old man. In order to save him, Bai Ya was seriously injured. Without that injury, he would still be hale and hearty.”
The disturbance brought from the two quarreling began to spread across the exploration team.
In normal times, they would greatly respect Cang Xu. After all, Cang Xu’s scholarly knowledge had assisted them greatly.
But now, on the verge of desperate straits, everyone was agitated, worried, and harbored dread. They did not dare target Zhen Jin or Zi Di, thus their subconscious anger, panic and other emotions turned to attacking the weakest among them, the old man.
The most crucial thing was that Cang Xu really was the reason why Bai Ya ended up falling into his current circumstances.
Morally speaking, Cang Xu really needed to be criticized.
As a result, those quarreling focused their firepower on Cang Xu.
Faced with ridicule and malicious gazes, Cang Xu remained expressionless.
“Hey, old man, what do you think? Say something.” Cang Xu’s silence made him seem weaker and weaker as someone finally directly provoked Cang Xu.
Cang Xu lifted the corner of his mouth in a sneer and gave the team members provoking him a mocking glance: “Bai Ya being in a coma is actually a good thing.”
Everyone was shocked.
Cang Xu continued: “At the critical moment, he is food, we can eat him.”
For a split second, the air seemed to freeze over.
The eyes of everyone around Cang Xu opened wide in shock.
“You, what did you say?” Someone shouted.
Zhen Jin and Zi Di also found it hard to believe.
But Cang Xu was very calm, his eyes that had stood the test of time, seemed abstruse and ice cold at this moment: “Huh, why are you guys looking at me like this? Bai Ya is already dying, anyone can see this. He is food, we can absolutely eat him.”
“How can you say something like that!”
“Yeah, he is our companion.”
“How can we eat other people?!”
Everyone shouted, their voices shrill.
“Old man, are you a devil draped in human skin?” Someone even walked up to Cang Xu and glared down at him.
“Why can’t people be eaten?” Cang Xu countered without concern.
“In our current situation, we severely lack food. Without food, we will not have physical strength. Without physical strength, we will inevitably end up killed by the scorpion group."
“At that point, Bai Ya would also die.”
“In fact, he is already done for. Here in this desert, we don’t have a cleric or potions. Even if we had a cleric, this island prohibits low level magic and battle qi. Where can we find a high level cleric?”
“So, rather than that happening, we might as well eat him. Eating him will also increase our hope of escaping.”
The exploration team members stared at Cang Xu with incomparable wrath and one of them grabbed him by his collar: “You’re still talking!”
Cang Xu coldy snorted and suddenly swung his arm.
With a smack, the exploration team member’s grip was broken.
The exploration team member was caught off guard and fell back two steps. He looked at Cang Xu with surprise, the old man’s strength seemed to go beyond his expectations.
While Cang Xu was straightening out his collar, he also calmly said: “You all have not studied enough books, I will now tell you a truth—similar beings can eat each other.”
“There is a type of insect known as the praying mantis. When a male and female mantis mate, the female mantis will eat the male mantis when night comes to nourish itself and produce offspring more successfully.”
“A few years ago there was famine in the northwest part of the empire. There, people exchanged their children to cook and eat them.”
“Don’t let morals and laws chain you. Those are only to maintain our everyday lives.”
“With regards to any lifeforms, all of them, at the basic level, exist to survive and reproduce. If we cannot ensure our survival, what is the point of mentioning laws or morals?"
“Besides, even if others are unclear, do you all not understand what kind of people you all are?"
“We were on a ship to the beastmen continent. There is a war ongoing there. What kind of person would go there at such a time like now?”
Cang Xu sneered and finally summed it up: “Survival is more important than anything else, isn’t that so?”
No one spoke as the entire exploration team sank into deathly silence.
Many people were still glaring at Cang Xu, but their gazes were no longer as angry or hateful as before.
“Cang Xu, I ask that you take back your words. Bai Ya is not food, rather he is our companion. I will not allow the atrocity of eating our companion to happen.” Zhen Jin’s brows creased with a stern expression.
“As you wish, my Lord knight.” After Cang Xu straightened out his collar, he faced Zhen Jin and saluted him with proper and flawless etiquette of one that served nobility for most of his life.
The extreme heat made Huang Zao open his eyes.
His eyes were bloodshot and his head was muddled. It took most of the day for him to come to and react.
He was lying at the base of a sand dune next to an unconscious man, his brother Lan Zao.
Lan Zao was motionless and still unconscious. His condition was anything but reassuring, originally only his lips were cracked, but now his skin was also peeling away under the sun. Although he was still breathing, the strength of his undulating chest was clearly weaker than yesterday.
Huang Zao tried to raise his upper body.
He immediately felt a violent dizziness and had to promptly use his hand behind him to support his body.
“I also have a fever.” He stroked his forehead and his heart suddenly dropped.
The desert night was incomparably cold and he could only sleep on the ground due to exhaustion. He leaned on Lan Zao and used his high body temperature, from his fever, to resist the bitter cold.
But he still failed.
He fell asleep and when he finally woke up, it was already noon.
Huang Zao felt a burst of lingering fear. He was very glad that no preying beast attacked him while he slept.
“But what do I do now?”
Huang Zao still had some rations on him but he had no water!
The majority of his water had been used on washing out Lan Zao’s wound and the other part he had already drunk.
He was not only concerned with his survival as he was still carrying a man heavier than him.
After Huang Zao blankly sat on the sand for a while, he then slowly picked up Lan Zao and continued traveling.
However, Huang Zao’s heart increasingly amassed emotions of bewilderment, panic, vexation, and despair without any method of catharsis.
A beaten body, starvation, and a dizzy spell came together like brambles to bind his body, these thorns deeply pierced into his flesh, blood and bones, such that every time he stepped forward, those countless wounds were involved.
Lan Zao began to unconsciously murmur behind him.
Huang Zao abruptly stopped walking, he didn’t know why, but his heart birthed intense emotions of anger and hatred.
“Don’t speak, you are bothering me!”
“If you weren’t injured, we definitely would have water right now!”
“Where am I going to find water for you in this situation?”
“I also want to drink water, ah I also want to!!”
In spite of his dry and smoldering throat, Huang Zao continued to vent his feelings loudly.
But Lan Zao could not hear them, he still murmured and thirsted for water
Huang Zao glared and from his heart gushed an evil tendency that seemed to rise to his forehead and cover his face in an instant.
He suddenly let go and dropped Lan Zao to the ground.
He shouted at Lan Zao with anger in his gaze, as well as cruelty and icy viciousness.
His chest moved up and down rapidly and his breathing grew more and more heavier.
The killing intent festered in Huang Zao’s heart, growing strangely and quickly.
For a long time, Huang Zao glared at Lan Zao, his Adam’s apple subconsciously gulped, and his eyes seemed to shine with a green light like that of a starving wolf.
Hunger flooded his heart and his mind did not allow him to ponder.
His survival instincts were constantly reminding him and made him overlook Lan Zao’s identity. It made him “see clearly” that Lan Zao’s body was a piece of meat that was flowing with fresh blood.
Huang Zao slowly approached, slowly leaning over and half-knelt on the ground, and extended his hands.
His hands stretched towards Lan Zao, moving very slowly as if they were hanging iron hammers.
His hands were still shivering.
At first, it was a slight shiver, but the closer he approached to Lan Zao, the deeper the shiver became.
Suddenly, Huang Zao found that Lan Zao’s eyelids were faintly twitching.
Soon after, Lan Zao slowly cracked open his eyes.
“Older brother, you woke up!!” Huang Zao shouted, a joyful mad surprise rushed forth like an overwhelming tsunami, encompassing and drowning his body and mind.
His previous hunger, thrist, savagery, despair, madness, and other emotions now seemed like a mirage and an illusion.
Lan Zao looked to be in a daze, his eyes within the crevice of his eyelids imperceptibly turned and finally saw Huang Zao kneeling in front of him.
The blinding sunlight was eclipsed by Huang Zao’s body and Lan Zao’s head was just inside Huang Zao’s shadow.
Lan Zao’s lips opened and closed.
“Older brother, what did you say?” Huang Zao trembled both mentally and physically, he immediately squatted in front of Lan Zao and leaned his ear towards Lan Zao’s mouth.
He then heard a very weak voice.
“I…I am dying.”
“Don’t let me…burden you…”
“No food or water…”
These words depleted all of Lan Zao’s strength and he once again sank into a dying coma.
Upon hearing these words, Huang Zao felt like he was struck by lightning, his pupils instantly shrunk to the size of a needle and his whole body was frozen.
He seemed like a stone statue.
He extended his neck, stretched out his ears, knelt with both knees, clasped sand in his hands, and kept silent for a while in a distorted and bizarre posture.
Finally, his blank mind slowly began to work again.
He retracted his neck and although he was still kneeling on the ground, his posture was now upright.
He glanced at Lan Zao lying on the sand and his vision rapidly became hazy.
Tears welled up in his eyes and then overflowed across his sand filled face, forming two black tear streaks.
“Older brother, older brother!”
He loudly cried out, feelings of guilt, remorse, self-condemnation, and other emotions rose in his heart, causing his nose and throat to clog up, making it hard for him to breathe.
“You are my only family!”
“How can I treat you as food?”
“I won’t do it.”
“I won’t ever do it!”
He screamed as if making an oath.
Thereafter, he put Lan Zao on his back and staggered forward once more.
With a face of unswerving resoluteness.