Chapter 73: Starvation and a Knight’s Honor
CHAPTER STATUS: UNEDITED
Noon had arrived.
Above the dry yellow sand hung a scorching sun.
Unceasing waves of heat beat down, making the sand underfoot frighteningly hot.
Thirst, hunger, and exhaustion made the people have dizzy spells.
Cang Xu and Zi Di staggered forward and on several occasions, they nearly collapsed into the sand.
In view of this, Zhen Jin had no choice but to rest in the shadows of the sand dunes.
Bai Ya was still unconscious and the other three were gasping for breath.
Then as if the gods gave a rare pity on these pathetic people——a desert breeze appeared.
Although the breeze was small, it still eliminated some of the torrid heat.
Under the wind, fine sand blew over the windward surface of the sand dunes, flowing down the slip face like quicksand.
The sand grains rustled, but the beauty of the sound in this emptiness was lost on them.
Using up most of their stamina was tormenting the empty bellies of Zhen Jin and the others.
Zhen Jin felt famished, like there was no space between his chest and his back.
He had placed the unconscious Bai Ya under the sand dune’s shadow.
When he had started traveling, he did not feel Bai Ya was a heavy burden. But now he felt like he was carrying an elephant.
With the burden gone, Zhen Jin’s body immediately felt light.
He did not forget to inspect Bai Ya’s status.
“He has a fever again.” Zhen Jin’s eyes darkened.
Bai Ya’s state was repeatedly poor.
Zhen Jin wanted to help him, but Bai Ya had already drunk Zi Di’s potion.
If there was sufficient food and water, Bai Ya could replenish his body’s needs.
But right now, Zhen Jin and the others had only drunk a few mouthfuls and had eaten nothing.
There was little Zhen Jin could do.
He could only open a boiling water bag and pour a tiny amount of water down Bai Ya’s mouth.
The water supply was already divided and distributed into three equal portions, each of them had a water bag. The water Zhen Jin gave Bai Ya was his own.
Cang Xu and Zi Di saw Zhen Jin do this but said nothing.
They sat motionlessly in the sand and did not even have the strength to speak.
Zhen Jin was also silent.
He quietly sat like an hourglass with his stamina being the grains of sand as he attempted to save up his strength, grain by grain.
Since he woke up on the island, Zhen Jin had never been as hungry and thirsty as he was now.
The closest thing to this was the day when he had struggled free from the bottom of a sand dune. But at that time, he had food——the eyeless desert viper.
Zhen Jin now gazed into the yellow desert and the vast sky, hoping that something similar to the viper would attack him.
Previously when he had annihilated the squirrel group, he had food and subordinates. That night the teleportation turned all of his hard-fought achievements into nothing, like a popping bubble. When he dug his way out of the sand and was attacked by the viper, his heart full of sorrow.
As he now sat in the sand and recalled this memory, he felt: the viper’s attack was perhaps nature’s gift or a god’s mercy.
Zhen Jin’s heart suddenly produced a bright comprehension.
“Haha.” He could not help but lightly laugh.
His voice caused misgivings in Zi Di and Cang Xu.
Sensing their gazes, Zhen Jin explained: “Many times, many times fate has attacked and tormented me. Each time I thought I was going through the worst suffering in the world.”
“But in reality, that was not true.”
“There is no worst moment and as life goes on, there will be even more torments and misery.
“Right now, my situation is worse than the time the viper attacked me. Perhaps in the future, I will be even more hard-pressed.”
Zi Di was silent.
They had already exchanged information and the girl knew what had happened to Zhen Jin when they were separated.
But Cang Xu laughed.
“My Lord, hearing you say this inexplicably makes me more relaxed.”
“You do not have an optimistic mentality, rather an open minded one.”
Zi Di thoughtfully and quietly spoke: “Suffering is one kind of wealth. The difference depends on whether people can extract wealth from suffering.”
Zhen Jin recalled the time when he first awakened, the experiences on the island, and especially about the magic core: “If it is like that, then I am a millionaire.”
The talk ended here.
The discussion made everyone feel even more exhausted.
They maintained their silence for a very long time.
As time passed, the might of the savage sun weakened.
Zhen Jin carrying Bai Ya along with Zi Di and Cang Xu, continued to hurry onwards.
Their luck started to turn around for the better.
On the road, they found a dried-up dead sand willow tree with many spiders and scorpions, these all became precious food.
They also found a desert lizard and a desert rat.
The rat was only an ordinary beast, it had a small build and was more or less a normal rat except for its large ears that gave it a sharp sense of hearing. It had yellow fur that imitated the desert. Its hind legs had developed to be able to jump up to two meters.
After Zhen Jin had chased it down, he had stuffed its corpse into his bag.
The lizard and rat were not immediately eaten, the rest mostly went to Cang Xu and Zi Di.
Despite this, the replenishment did not match the amount of stamina consumed to the extent that they had no choice but to stop and rest repeatedly.
Their traveling efficiency greatly decreased and at night they had not yet reached their destination——the granite boulders.
Cang Xu looked at their surroundings, the celestial bodies, and the map he had drawn in the sand.
“I do not have a rich understanding of the celestial bodies. But I am familiar with our surroundings, the terrain of the sand shouldn’t have changed much in the few days we were in the volcanic region.”
“So, it seems we are not too far from the granite boulders.”
“We can get there by dawn tomorrow.”
“Tonight, we will rest here for we can no longer walk my Lord.”
The old scholar sighed as the night wind blew his snow-white beard.
Zi Di and Cang Xu knew that hurrying to the granite boulders was beneficial, but they really could not walk anymore.
In fact, Zhen Jin was not much better off.
The young knight nodded: “We can use the wood from cutting down the sand willow. The night is very cold, but we can create a fire to last through this night.”
The colliding spark stones, and extremely dry firewood easily ignited a bonfire.
Everyone sat around the bonfire.
Sticks were inserted into the bodies of the lizard and rat allowing Zhen Jin to roast them over the fire.
The aroma of roasting meat made Zi Di’s Adam’s apple roll.
“This is sure to be the most delicious delicacy in the world!” Zi Di’s words and gaze revealed her hunger.
Cang Xu also watched the roasting meat attentively, with difficulty he averted his gaze and grabbed some sand: “I think the sand I am holding is incomparably tempting. So tempting that I can hardly bear to not swallow it.”
Zi Di laughed and similarly agreed: “Actually I feel the black lava appears as fluffy as chocolate bread.”
“I’ve seen some historical records where famine refugees in the empire died from eating soil.”
“I now understand how they felt. Starvation can really drive men insane and make them not think about what they eat. I want to take a bite out of grass and sand.”
Cang Xu sighed: “indeed, there were some who ate soil. In the Southwestern Empire and the Southwestern coast, there was a famine every several years. Coastal refugees would gather soil and mix it with butter and salt to create mud biscuits.”
“The Sha Ta Clan once dispatched me to transport rescue supplies. When I arrived, I tasted some of these mud biscuits.”
“The mud biscuits actually had an exquisite taste. But eating one would make you taste the distinctive wet flavor of the coast.”
“A mud biscuit was the size of an adult human’s palm and the refugees would spread them out on the ground to dry in the sun.
“I only had a small bite, but the fishy smell of the soil remained in my mouth for several hours.
“Local refugees have eaten these for a long time, the elderly and children would fill themselves with these things. As a result, they were bone thin and had chronic diarrhea. Everyday a child would die of diarrhea.”
“Did you two know? During today’s journey, I swore: if I had mud biscuits, I would fill my belly with them.”
Zhen Jin turned over the skewers and asked: “Speaking of digestive abilities……what are the digestive abilities of beasts Mr. Cang Xu? What beast has the strongest digestive ability?”
Cang Xu muttered: “Compared to humans, the digestive ability of beasts is very strong.”
“Hyenas are infamous for eating bones and almost never leave skeletons behind when they find a carcass.”
“Vultures have a strong digestive fluid that can easily corrode and digestive bones and bone marrow.”
“Pythons can swallow food whole and even if it is an alligator or a baby elephant, they can still digest it.”
“Generally, birds have the strongest digestive abilities. It only takes them fifteen minutes to digest insects. Berries they have eaten are excreted in thirty minutes. When some sea birds swallow fish, by the time the fish’s tail goes down the bird’s beak, its head is already dissolving in the bird’s stomach.”
“How about the spear scorpion’s digestive ability?” Zhen Jin asked.
Cang Xu said: “It is very strong! Spear scorpions are magic beasts, and their abilities surpass ordinary beasts. It can eat metal and its digestion can completely dissolve it. According to my dissections, they also have a fast digestion and only need five minutes to digest eaten metal rocks.”
Zhen Jin nodded but did not say anything.
Just as the rat and lizard meat were nearly cooked, Zhen Jin’s expression suddenly changed as he listened attentively.
This action caused Zi Di and Cang Xu to be on guard.
“There is movement.” Zhen Jin’s complexion sank.
Zi Di and Cang Xu did not hear anything, but they understood that Zhen Jin was a battle qi cultivator and his physical abilities far surpassed ordinary people, thus him hearing more was normal.
“You two eat first, I will go stand guard to drive away or perhaps kill any beasts around.”
“Try to stay here, don’t wander off.”
Zhen Jin reminded the two, after giving them the meat, he slowly got up.
“My Lord, you must be careful.” Zi Di said with concern.
Zhen Jin nodded and quickly walked off, his silhouette rapidly disappearing into the curtain of night.
He first circled around and after confirming there were no traces of ferocious beasts, he beelined in a straight direction.
Without Bai Ya, Zi Di, or Cang Xu slowing him down, it did not take long for Zhen Jin to arrive at the granite boulders.
The granite boulders were very safe and there were no spear scorpions around.
Zhen Jin took a deep breath and his face showed hesitation.
But soon after, he made up his mind.
He began to undress.
He quickly took off all of his clothes and became naked.
After a moment, he activated the magic core and red light radiated from his entire body.
The intense red light covered his face and body, leaving only a red silhouette.
The red silhouette then quickly collapsed like water and changed into a scorpion’s silhouette.
The red light gradually vanished, and Zhen Jin was nowhere to be found, in his place was a scorpion.
A silver level life aura flowed out.
Zhen Jin had transformed into a spear scorpion leader!
This was the first time he had transformed his entire body and left no traces of his humanity.
This was actually very risky, but Zhen Jin had no other choice but to do it.
He was too hungry.
He had at least a silver level battle qi cultivation and those two pieces of meat were of no use to him. As a matter of fact, even if Zi Di ate all of them, she would not be full.
Therefore, Zhen Jin decided to take another course of action.
Granite boulders were not the food of humans.
So, he completely transformed into a spear scorpion to give it a try.
Zhen Jin’s current perception changed dramatically.
The curtain of night was not dark to him. With the help of spear scorpion eyes, he could see far into the darkness.
Not only did spear scorpions have two main eyes on the front of their heads, they also had a pair of eyes on each side of their heads.
As a result, Zhen Jin now had a vast field of view.
Spear scorpions also had an impressive sense of smell and Zhen Jin immediately smelled a rich fragrance.
He quickly discovered that the fragrance was coming from the surrounding granite boulders.
Humans could not smell anything from the granite boulder and would at most taste the stone or metal in them. But Zhen Jin had transformed into a spear scorpion and smelled a splendid and never before sniffed fragrance.
The splendid fragrance immediately enticed Zhen Jin to raise his scorpion tail.
The scorpion tail flew like lightning and pierced a granite boulder.
Zhen Jin also used his large pincers in conjunction with the scorpion tail to smash the granite boulder into pieces.
The pincers pushed the crushed pieces into his scorpion mouth.
Zhen Jin chewed.
“Oh, oh oh!”
“It tastes like chocolate cookies. It has a crunchy and smooth taste.”
Zhen Jin nearly shouted.
As it turns out, granite boulders were a culinary delicacy to spear scorpions!
A spear scorpion’s sense of taste was completely different from a human’s.
Zhen Jin constantly chewed and gorged himself with food.
He was very hungry.
After eating two granite boulders in a row, he stopped.
He used the scorpion shape to lie in the ground and stayed motionless for a good while in order to digest the granite within him.
A sour and itching sensation began to appear across his entire body.
“What is going on?” Zhen Jin felt strange, he had definitely been paying attention to his internal organs and knew he had smoothly and completely digested the granite.
“Could this be that?”
Zhen Jin’s heart suddenly shined.
He thought of what Cang Xu had said, the general idea was that spear scorpions could eat granite boulders, absorb the metal within the rock, and increase firmness of the carapaces.
Zhen Jin immediately lashed his scorpion tail at his carapace.
However, it was a part of Zhen Jin’s body, the tail and the carapace had the same strength, and no harm was done.
Zhen Jin then activated the magic core to restore his human form but retained a piece of scorpion carapace on his stomach.
Perhaps because that was the only piece of scorpion carapace left, the sour and itching sensation concentrated in the stomach and became extremely intense.
Zhen Jin turned his fingers into sword spider blades and suddenly stabbed at his stomach.
The new sword spider blades were very sharp and made notches in the scorpion carapace.
Suddenly, the intolerable and strange itching sensation alleviated.
After a few breaths, the strange feeling became more intense.
Zhen Jin looked at his stomach and discovered most of the cuts on the scorpion carapace had already healed.
But Zhen Jin had a cheerful look.
Because this proved his guess.
He immediately used the spider blades to violently stab his stomach.
His repeated stabs created many small holes.
The scorpion shell rapidly healed as the strange itching sensation gradually weakened until it finally disappeared completely.
Zhen Jin touched his stomach and found that the newly grown scorpion carapace was somewhat tougher than before.
“This should be the reason why the scorpion leader never stopped pursuing me.”
“As it turns out, it wanted to take a beating!”
“When I drew them to the granite boulders, it was to give them food but instead ended up harming us.”
Realizing this truth, Zhen Jin’s cheerful expression dissipated and was replaced by an exasperated bitter laugh.
Zhen Jin did not stay after eating his fill, rather he immediately circled back.
He came to the bonfire and saw Zi Di and Cang Xu.
The rat and lizard were already well cooked, but Zi Di and Cang Xu did not eat them despite their extreme hunger.
“Eat my Lord.”
“Lord Zhen Jin don’t decline pointlessly. Only with enough stamina can you ensure our safety, isn’t that so? Even if we have enough stamina, we cannot deal with ferocious magic beasts.”
Despite Zi Di’s and Cang Xu’s starvation, as if by prior agreement, they advised Zhen Jin at all costs to eat the two pieces of meat.
Of course, Zhen Jin could not agree because he had already eaten his fill.
Both sides pushed each other to eat, but Zi Di and Cang Xu had very firm attitudes.
Zhen Jin had no choice but to change his complexion: “My stamina is still at an adequate level and my body is better than the two of yours. You have not eaten enough food, if you do not eat this food then I cannot say if you can endure through the night. The firewood may not last the entire night.”
After saying this, Zhen Jin deeply gazed at Zi Di: “I have said that I would protect you until the end of my life.”
After that, the youth faced Cang Xu: “Old scholar, even though you are unwilling to attach yourself to me and serve as my subordinate, I will also do my utmost to save you. I vowed to use all of my strength to save everyone, this includes you and also Bai Ya.”
“Don’t tell me you two want to make me violate my vow? Do you want my knight’s honor to be blemished?” Zhen Jin’s expression became very serene.
Zi Di and Cang Xu looked at Zhen Jin, it was as if holy light radiated from his entire body and for a moment, their hearts shook and neither of them spoke.
At that moment, Zhen Jin could not help but let out a satisfied burp.
Cang Xu and Zi Di: ???