When both of them returned, Huo Dong had already lit the fire.
When a large piece of fish skin was spread open, pieces of grilled fish jerky were placed on it.
Huang Jiahui had no expression, as if not overhearing their argument, she calmly poured everyone wooden cups of tree juice and offered it to Zhao Yali, “Try this.”
Zhao Yali was gentle and courteous, she would throw tantrums at people she was familiar with, but would never show any unpleasant emotions in front of others. She quickly thanked her.
Holding the cup, she took a sip before a bigger gulp, in silence.
Wang Shishi was not as calm. Her Brother Luo was too much of a womanizer. His women came and left one after another, threatening her presence.
She could not stop glaring at Zhao Yali, most of the pigments on the woman’s face had already been washed off by her tears, revealing her actual face. The more she looked at her, the more familiar she felt Zhao Yali was. Not caring about her hostility anymore, she asked in shock, “Didn’t you stay right across my house before?”
Zhao Yali was stunned. She did not expect to have someone who would recognize here other than Luo Yuan. She looked at Wang Shishi carefully, but the girl had already changed so much, so it didn’t ring a bell.
“I lived right across the street from where you lived, we used to meet often.” Wang Shishi explained, as she saw her confusion.
Zhao Yali gave some thought and was surprised when fragments of her memory came back, “You’ve grown so much now, and you’re now with Luo Yuan.”
“My parents are not here anymore, so I’ve been following Brother Luo since.”
Zhao Yali sighed as she thought of her family, drinking the tree juice silently, holding the wooden cup and worrying about the future.
Seeing that everyone started to converse with one another and that the atmosphere was no longer as tensed, Cao Ling could not help but to voice her curiosity, “What’s that on your face? I see everyone in the camp with their faces painted with the same pigment.”
Zhao Yali flushed a little, “It’s juice from a type of tree, to keep the insects at bay, but the effect isn’t really good.”
Other than Luo Yuan and Wang Shishi, everyone’s eyes lit up. Although the juice’s smell was horrible and looked unsightly painted on one’s face, mere aesthetics were nothing compared to staying alive. Cao Ling quickly asked, “What type of plant is it?”
Zhao Yali felt a little awkward, “I’m not too sure. These were…found by Zhu Hao and the others.”
She had always been timid. Ever since she got to the campsite, she had never been out to the dangerous forest, so there was no way she could ever know which plant the juice came from.
Disappointment flashed across everyone’s face. Out of so many mutated plants, it would be akin to finding needle in a haystack to locate the correct plant.
Luo Yuan chose not to participate in the women’s conversation, as he brought a wooden bucket further away. The place was mostly low lands, so the seawater that collected in the pits after the tide ebbed contained a lot of salt, especially after being exposed to the rays of the sun.
The water pits had whirlpools in them, making the water murky when Luo Yuan approached them. Regardless, he picked one that was slightly cleaner and returned with a bucketful of water.
Huang Jiahui and Cao Ling layered a few pieces of cloth together to filter the dirty water seeing that the salt was ready to be boiled, but those cloth were not meant for filtering. The water was still rather muddy, but they could only make do with it.
Propping the stone pot up properly, the water boiled quickly with the strong fire, leaving nothing but salt after it had evaporated.
These salt were not white like the ones in their supplies before the apocalypse, but rather, a grayish off-white coloured one.
“There are too much impurities in the salt, I think it’s gonna be very bitter,” Huo Dong said.
“It’ll still be better than having none, I could eat 50 grams of it,” said Lin Xiaoji, as he licked his cracked lips. Anything he ate had always been tasteless without salt consumption for such a long time, hence he couldn’t care less if the salt was bitter.
All the water evaporated quickly as the salt crystals formed at the bottom of the pot, but it looked nothing like the salt that was sold in the stores.
Everyone quickly had a tasted, the salt was bitter and full of sand; not even dogs would eat it back in the pre-apocalypse days. But now, everyone seemed to enjoy it. Those who had never experienced this dire situation would never know how drastic it was not to consume salt for a long time. Some of them had even grabbed a handful of it and chewed it like candy, swallowing everything, including the sand.
Excluding Zhao Yali, everyone had a lot of the salt since as they were deprived from it for days. In the end, they emptied the tree juice as well, from being too thirsty.
After the meal, they wrapped the remaining salt up and departed once more after packing.
Large carcasses were seen on the seabed along the way. These ocean creatures that were yet to mutate enough to survive on land, had all died when the tide was low. Luo Yuan saw one of the carcasses that was at least 30 meters long and 8 – 9 meters tall. The skeleton laid on the seabed like a small mound.
He went over to check it out and realized that this was not a dark blue level creature, yet its size was much larger than land creatures, like the giant lizard. He was afraid that with its size alone, even normal light green level land creatures would be powerless against it.
Luo Yuan thought it only comprised a shallow seabed, but as they approached the middle of the sea bridge, the shallow beds were covered with seawater, with various sizes of lakes everywhere.
Initially, they could still avoid it but the lakes got bigger and bigger. When they could finally see the other side, their path was hindered by a long lake a few kilometers wide.
Luo Yuan looked around but even with his eyesight, he could not spot the end of the lake; it seemed to have turned into the size of an ocean.
“This river is too wide, should we turn back?” asked Huang Jiahui, in low spirits.
“We’ve walked this far, it’ll be such a waste to turn back now.” said an exasperated Huo Dong, with a long face, “It’s already 3pm. The sky will turn dark soon. It’s all mud here, so it’s gonna be hard to dig any holes. Sleeping out here is too dangerous too.”
“Yeah, the water should not be too deep. I guess it would go as far as 3 – 4 meters deep, but it shouldn’t be a problem for the giant lizard,” Lin Xiaoji said too.
It would be too disheartening to turn back now, when they had walked so far and the destination was already in sight.
One factor that deterred him was about sleeping in open-air, and the other was the dangers of the sea. Luo Yuan was a little hesitant. Hoping that the water would probably not be home to any strong mutated creatures, he decided, “Let’s go into the water first. If it’s too deep, then we’ll turn back.”
Nobody objected, since Luo Yuan had already decided so.
The giant lizard went into the water carefully, growling from time to time in attempt to scare away the approaching mutated fishes.
The water got deeper and deeper after some ten minutes, its level reaching the lizard’s thighs now.
The water sometimes had ripples on its surface, as if being pierced by a high-speed arrow, at times there were splashes up to a few meters high, and other times, blood seeped out from the bottom of the sea. Threats were hiding behind every corner, with the splashes splattering on everyone a few times now.
Naturally, the group paled in fear. Zhao Yali had already forgotten her feud with Luo Yuan, as she clung timidly onto his arm.