Chapter 76: They are…...True
CHAPTER STATUS: UNEDITED
Following the footprints carefully, everyone quickly found something.
“Lan Zao, is that you? You are still alive? What happened to you?” When Cang Xu saw Lan Zao, he couldn’t believe his eyes.
His impression of Lan Zao was that he was a healthy and robust middle-aged man, in addition he had a staunch willpower and maintained vigilance at all times.
But at the moment, Lan Zao had a thin body, messy hair, a bloodstained face. He looked like a puppet blankly sitting in the lush underbrush without any awareness. When he heard his name called, he slowly turned his dim and lifeless face.
Zi Di’s heart also sunk as she secretly guessed: “Don’t tell me a magic beast inflicted a serious injury to his soul and caused him to turn into an imbecile?”
Finding Lan Zao was a joyous moment for everyone.
They did not know Lan Zao and Huang Zao fled in secret and left them to die. Zhen Jin and the others had been seemingly separated during the sandstorm, thus meeting up with Lan Zao in the oasis was a pleasant surprise.
But the joy was like a puff of air and was replaced by bewilderment in tandem with Lan Zao’s dissipating spirit.
“Lan Zao, is there anyone else besides you?”
“Where is your younger brother Huang Zao?” Zhen Jin inquired.
Hearing Huang Zao’s name, Lan Zao shivered from head to toe like a golem that had been activated by a command word.
He froze and then his expression violently changed as if he had suddenly remembered all that had transpired.
He was incomparably anxious as he frantically yelled: “My Lord, Lord Zhen you came!! Save my little brother quickly, save him now.”
As he said that, he threw himself at Zhen Jin and grasped Zhen Jin’s ankles.
He also looked at Zi Di similarity as he gave a surprised yell: “Miss Zi Di you are also here, very good. With you here, my younger brother will certainly be cured!
“What exactly happened? Calm down a little Lan Zao.” Zhen Jin tensely scowled as he stooped to grab Lan Zao's shoulder and pull him up.
“Quickly, quickly come this way!” Lan Zao suddenly threw off Zhen Jin’s hand and ran to the nearest palm tree.
Just as he started running, he tripped over the underbrush and fell to the ground kneeling.
He was very anxious as he used his hands and feet to crawl forward.
The situation was very fishy, but Zhen Jin and the others did not question Lan Zao again as they braced themselves and followed behind.
When they reached the palm tree, as the one walking in the front, Zhen Jin’s eyes contracted as he saw Huang Zao in the underbrush.
Huang Zao’s clothes were tattered, most of his flesh was gone, and the deathly pale bones of his ribs, arms, and legs lay exposed.
He lay motionlessly on the ground and his remaining flesh was already beginning to rot.
Huang Zao had already died and was a corpse.
But the strange thing was, the body was still bandaged.
The bandages were clearly made from long strips of cloth and were covered up by many palm leaves.
“Younger brother, younger brother, open your eyes quickly.”
“Take a look, Lord Zhen Jin and Miss Zi Di have come. You are saved, you are saved!”
“You truly have good luck to degenerate in the desert yet still meet with our two Lords, halacha……”
Lan Zao kneeled at Huang Zao’s side and put his arm on the back of Huang Zao’s head to straighten his upper body.
This was a horrifying scene.
Huang Zao had died long ago, his flesh was deathly pale, his body was broken, and the bloodstains and bones were a ghastly sight.
Cang Xu and Zi Di soon arrived and stopped in their tracks upon seeing the scene.
Zi Di was caught off guard, she immediately vomited almost all of the acid in her stomach.
“Huang Zao?” Behind the shattered glass lenses, Cang Xu’s eyes opened wide, “He is dead! When did he die? How did he die?”
Lan Zao was provoked as he crazily shook his head and repeatedly retorted: “No he is not; he is not dead!”
“He is still alive.”
“Cang Xu your vision is blurred by age! Look again carefully!”
Lan Zao then looked at his younger brother again and suddenly lowered his voice: “Younger brother, wake up quickly and take a look around you.”
Huang Zao was long dead, how could he open his eyes?
Lan Zao closely watched Huang Zao’s face and became more anxious when he saw the latter not responding.
“Younger brother, younger brother.”
“You need to open your eyes, open your eyes now!”
Lan Zao started becoming deranged.
He extended a finger on his right hand to push open Huang Zao’s eyelid and immediately exposed the man’s oozing eye whites.
“You guys look, look quickly, he has opened his eyes. My younger brother has opened his eyes!” Lan Zao happily shouted.
Zi Di and Zhen Jin were silent.
Cang Xu shook his head and deeply sighed: “Lan Zao, wake up, your younger brother……really is dead.”
“No, he is not dead. He is not dead. Nonsense, you are speaking nonsense!”
Lan Zao shrieked and became hysterical.
He put his ear on Huang Zao’s chest, a place that was half flesh and half bone, with no trace of a heart.
“Come listen, he still has a pulse!” Lan Zao suddenly looked surprised.
Everyone else was silent.
Lan Zao looked at the expressions of everyone and became anxious, he then pointed at Huang Zao’s nostrils.
“Come look, he is still breathing!” Lan Zao shouted.
Everyone was still silent.
Lan Zao faced everyone and fiercely roared: “He is still alive!!!”
He shouted at the top of his lungs, causing everyone’s eardrums to vibrate.
They stood in place like three motionless iron maidens.
“He is still alive!!” Lan Zao half kneeled to the ground, pulled Huang Zao’s corpse to him, and roared at everyone with wide eyes.
But the roar this time was only half as strong.
Lan Zao’s eyes were bloodshot, and tears rapidly fell from his face.
“He is still alive, still alive……”
Lan Zao softly shouted, it seemed he was trying to prove this to those in front of him and calling for Huang Zao.
The robust man’s upper body stooped as he buried his head deeply into Huang Zao’s broken chest.
The sun had already sunk below the horizon and the last rays of light were gone.
Everything was dusky.
The sounds of Lan Zao’s weeping floated through the oasis.
As he wept, he recounted his tale.
“It was me……it was me……”
“I killed him, I killed him.”
“I killed Huang Zao, I killed my younger brother, I killed him, I killed my last living family member!”
“For the last few days, I ate his flesh and drank his blood.”
“I lived but he died.”
“I am a murderer, a murderer.”
“I’m sorry, so sorry younger brother.”
“I am sorry mother……I did not take good care of him, I killed him. I should die, I should indeed die.”
“Boo hoo hoo……”
It was hard to imagine that such a strong man could cry this mournfully.
The weeping sounded like a ghost drifting on top of a tranquil lake.
The stars still shone brightly.
The temperature in the oasis did not drop as much as the desert around it.
In addition, there was a fire.
The orange flames burned and from time to time, the sound of burning wood splitting would echo. Whenever a noise was produced, small sparks would fly up and then dissipate overhead.
There was also a wooden grill that was cooking skewers of lizard meat to it.
Zhen Jin and the others also had some coconuts on hand.
The oasis had many palm trees, there were approximately two species; one that had coconuts and another that had dates.
Cutting open a coconut with a knife revealed a fresh and delicious inside, however the coconut water clearly smelled of sulfur.
The water problem had been properly solved
It was much better than expected——Zhen Jin not only had lake water, but also fruit juice.
Of course, because of nightfall, the lakeside situation could not be verified, thus for safety, Zhen Jin and the others did not draw water.
Not far away, Lan Zao was half kneeling in the underbrush and was gazing at Huang Zao’s corpse with lifeless eyes. Despite the meat’s aroma or the calls of Zhen Jin and the others, he did not respond. He was like a puppet, only his breathing showed he was still alive.
Bai Ya was lying next to the fire.
His eyes were tightly closed, and he was still unconscious.
He still had a fever and his temperature continued to rise higher and higher.
It was clear that his condition had worsened.
Perhaps these two people would be corpses by tomorrow.
The flame reflected the faces of Zhen Jin, Zi Di, and Cang Xu.
Zi Di glanced at Lan Zao and then shifted her gaze towards Zhen Jin.
The girl took the initiative to break the long silence: “My Lord, this kind of man cannot stay.”
“There are many teeth marks on Huang Zao’s corpse.”
“Lan Zao ate a person, he ate his younger brother. This is too cruel; how can we keep such a man?’
“I also discovered that it seems acid was sprayed onto Lan Zao’s back, the wound has already putrefied, but it is clear it was tended to and bandaged. That was obviously Huang Zao’s handiwork, yet it is impossible with the wounds Lan Zao inflicted on his back.”
“Huang Zao assisted his older brother and bandaged him. But Lan Zao killed him in order to fill his belly.”
Zhen Jin did not respond as he continued to watch the fire.
Cang Xu started to talk: “I have some doubts. Lan Zao is already in the oasis; the oasis has plentiful food, and he also has a weapon on hand. Even if he couldn’t hunt a beast, he could eat the coconuts that fell to the ground.”
Zi Di immediately replied: “It is clear that after Lan Zao killed Huang Zao, he hurried to this place. By eating Huang Zao’s flesh, Lan Zao could support himself until he arrived here. Maybe the reason why Lan Zao sank into regret and pain is because he reached the oasis. Because he understood that if he did not rush to kill his younger brother and continued to preserve a little more, both of them would reach this place. Then his younger brother would not have died, and both would have lived.”
Cang Xu nodded: “Lord Zi Di, your guess is reasonable, so Lord Zi Di, it seems you also believe——Lan Zao has degenerated to this degree because of his regret and pain. In other words, do you think the goodness, morality, and love in Lan Zao’s heart is torturing him?”
Zi Di scowled as she slightly glared at Cang Xu: “What do you mean? Do you really think that exonerates someone from killing their younger brother?”
Cang Xu shook his head and said: “Lord Zi Di, you misunderstand me. I do not believe it exonerates a person, regardless of whether it is Lan Zao or not. After all he killed his younger brother with his own hands, he is a murderer!”
After saying that, Cang Xu looked at Zhen Jin: “I only want to expound some meager or narrow-minded principles I know.”
Zhen Jin was interested, but had an expressionless face: “Scholar Cang Xu, I ask you say everything.”
Cang Xu laughed and threw a piece of firewood into the bonfire.
“We humans are actually small and weak. Compared to beasts, we do not have sharp claws, hard carapaces, wings that soar, or gills.”
“Furthermore, the intellect we are so intensely proud of isn’t something that exclusively belongs to us. Elves, beastmen, angels, goblins, and more are not weaker than us, in fact they can even surpass our human intelligence.”
“In the current world, the human race may be the strongest. But if we look at history, we will find that all of our ancestors were in disadvantageous positions and had difficulty surviving. Human prosperity and becoming the greatest power only started happening in the last few hundred years.”
“This happened because in the early days when our human ancestors devoured raw meat and survived naked in nature, our ancestors discovered an important point: as individual humans, we are extremely small and weak. Only by helping each other and relying on each other’s strength can we have a greater possibility of survival.”
“Gradually, human tribes began to appear, then clans, then fledgling nations, and continued into the present where humanity has established an empire over the entire Human Continent.”
“During this process, our ethics and virtues came into being. We revered strength because attaching ourselves to the strong helped us survive. We approved of noble bloodlines because outstanding bloodlines can cultivate stronger people. In our collective ideology, individuals should sacrifice themselves, there should be honor, selfishness should be despised, sharing should be promoted, and we do not want to be outcast from the group. This is because the individual is weak, to be approved by the group will raise one’s chances of survival.”
“However, in reality, self-interest is the first instinct of life. Ethics and virtues come after self-interest. After all, ethics and virtues come from life’s instinctual self-interest.
“Just like sharing, it is to achieve circumstances that are more beneficial to one’s personal survival. Just like how we despise selfishness, it is because if others are selfish, it is not beneficial to our individual survival. We help others because it will allow us to survive better as part of a group. Living alone will reduce survival rate and reproduction rate, making it harder to pass our bloodline on, whether high or low.”
“Enough.” Zi Di whispered, she gazed at Cang Xu through the fire with indignation, “Scholar Cang Xu, you want to say the reason why Lan Zao killed his younger brother is because of his survival instinct. Not only are you absolving Lan Zao, but you are also absolving yourself of your prior proposition to eat Bai Ya!”
Cang Xu did not stop because of Zi Di’s interruption, in that moment, he showed a rarely seen toughness.
His sight had always been focused on Zhen Jin: “After mating, a female spider or mantis will eat the male. They do not have love or ethics.”
“A young and healthy lion will banish the old one to become the leader of the pride. It will use all of its strength to guard its territory as it struts above all. It will send the females away to hunt for it and it will take the old lion’s sons——to kill them all. It has no respect for the old and does not cherish the young.”
“These things must sound very harsh my Lord.” Cang Xu painfully sighed with a sincere and sad look, “But they are……true.”