“I’ve brought back firearms and new clothes, distribute them later,” Luo Yuan told Zhou Yicheng. The latter agreed instantly and turned to go towards the weapons.
“Hold up… How’s the recovery of your injured members?” Luo Yuan halted him.
“They are much better now. Most of their wounds have already formed scabs. They’ll be fine as long as their wounds don’t come in contact with water,” Zhou Yicheng replied after thinking.
“I’m afraid it’s gonna rain today,” Luo Yuan shook his head in reply.
“I can only hope they push through then.” Zhou Yicheng replied and continued. “Time waits for no man.”
Luo Yuan said nothing when in actuality, he had a better solution for their wounds– life absorbency using his Zhanmadao. It was pretty useless in battles, but an immediate effect could be seen on these types of external wounds if they held his weapon. However, this was one of his secrets and the soldiers were not fated to be on his side yet. Furthermore, they had to part ways when they eventually arrive at the military base.
An excellent blade, especially one that could cut steel like soil and carried magical powers, would spur greed. Besides, things would change then. They would side as they had a favor to ask for. No matter how strong he was, he would be helpless under such circumstances.
It was not that he was unwilling to part with his weapon, but as a swordsman, the Zhanmadao was already part of him. He knew the Zhanmadao’s every secret and the blade was akin to an extension of his arm under the immersion of his Will. It would be dangerous for him to lose the Zhanmadao in the apocalypse as his capabilities would be hindered as well. Luo Yuan sighed as he knew he had to act accordingly.
He went out to check on Lao Huang. Compared to yesterday, its recovery was noticeable. The scabs were coming off to reveal fresh skin, and it was walking around so at least there would be no problems for it to walk later. Meals had already been prepared when Luo Yuan returned.
They were about to depart after a quick bite, but a few kids suddenly appeared at the entrance. These were three bony children not unlike those African refugees are seen on TV- their cheeks sunken and eyes hollowed. The oldest ones looked about 13 while the youngest one looked about 11 or 12. Their skin was covered in dust, but it could be seen that they were fair. They looked at everyone timidly- the smallest one even clung onto one of the older kids. Their eyes remained squinted as tears rolled down their faces. Their tear tracks were very evident on their dirty faces.
“Who are you and why are you here?” Wang Shishi asked bossily seeing that they were children.
“Some…somebody asked me to come here.” The tallest one, who is also the boldest one, forced the words out, “They said we could find food here.”
Luo Yuan had a good idea where they were from now. He signaled Wang Shishi to stop asking questions and instead asked the children, “Why are there only three of you? Where are the rest?”
“They don’t want to come. Those people only sent us. The other option would be starving us to death,” the boy toughened up and said with hatred evident in his eyes.
Luo Yuan sighed inwardly. It seemed that those people had little food remaining; chasing these orphaned kids away would have to be the last resort to save some food.
“Those bastards!” Huang Jiahui muttered. “Come here. What are your names?”
“I’m Deng Wei, thank you big sister,” the boy who spoke earlier said sweetly.
“I’m Chong Chuqiang, thank you too big sister.”
“Chen…Chen Jiayi, thank you.” The kid who had her head lowered all the time lifted her head briefly before lowering it again.
“Shishi, bring them something to eat.” Luo Yuan knew Wang Shishi had the habit of munching on tidbits and would always keep something in her bag. Her mouth never stopped chewing when they had nothing to do.
“Okay.” Wang Shishi hummed in reply and opened her bag to pass some meat jerky about the size of chicken eggs. “This meat is very hard, and you can only eat it by tearing them into small pieces.”
No one appreciated her friendly reminder as they were all famished. The kids quickly munched on the jerkies once they got their hands on them then swallowed the meat whole when they realized they could not chew them. They almost choked themselves.
“Okay, let’s go!” Luo Yuan said and looked at the time. He then whistled.
The giant lizard appeared in front of everyone in an instant, scaring the children for a moment. The tallest, Deng Wei, almost lost his footing while the smallest girl was almost in tears again but kept it in, gripping onto Chong Chuqiang who was next to her.
Huang Jiahui noticed their reaction and went over to comfort them, “Don’t be scared. This lizard is our pet.”
“It…it won’t eat people?” Deng Wei asked in stutters.
“Hmph, the giant lizard is very friendly. It never eats people. We’ll be riding on its back later.” Wang Shishi boasted when she saw them scared.
“Its…its back?” Deng Wei asked, while noticeably about to cry. He continued, “Can I not ride on it?”
“Of course not. Unless you can run faster than the lizard.” Wang Shishi pouted. These children were timid. They had been living in the dark supermarket all along and probably had never seen even the lowest level of mutated beasts, so it only made sense that they felt as if they were in hell when they faced such a situation. However, this was not the end. They went through the terror again when Chen Xianfeng came back. After some time, the children finally recovered a little from the trauma when they were dragged onto the lizard’s back by Huo Dong. This scene would probably be etched in their minds until the day they die.
The team finally departed. It was a little crowded on the lizard’s back with more than 20 people on it. One could easily slip off if not careful. Because Lao Huang was still rather weak, Luo Yuan made the lizard walk at a slow pace.
Not an hour later, rain started trickling down on them. The group had been prepared for it, so they moved forward without stopping. The further they got from Jiaping City, the harder the roads were to walk on as most of the roads already became part of the forest.
The trek only got better when they got to the highway near noon. Amidst the journey, another wave of escaping flying creatures flew by, stirring fear in their hearts but also instilled a sense of urgency in everyone. They could no longer think about lunch with the hurry they were in, but they were forced to stop less than an hour later.
The in front of them was broken. The highway had crumbled and the damage was several hundred meters long. Nothing could be seen beyond that due to the limited vision they had from the effects of the rain. However, everyone expected that it would probably be worse if not the same.
Luo Yuan analyzed the situation and then instructed his team, “Let’s rest at the fortification in front. We leave after eating.”
The rain did not stop and by the looks of it, it would only get heavier. Water had already seeped into the fortification and the wooden beds were all damp. After some searching, Huo Dong found a decayed wooden mop handle to start a fire.
Luo Yuan went out and came back with two low-level beasts. The women prepared them for cooking and threw them into the pot. The fire danced from the strong wind as the three children leaned as closely as possible to the fire but that could not stop them quivering from the cold. Being polite, they made no noise.
Huang Jiahui stroked their heads and realized they were feverish. Their bodies were weaker than ordinary people due to malnutrition and it would be a surprise if they did not fall ill from being under the rain.
Huang Jiahui signaled something to Luo Yuan and he nodded.
She then took a food cube out from her bag and cut one-fifth of it into the pot after some thought. Not a moment later, the strong aroma permeated the air again as the soldiers were once again attracted to the cooking pot. Zhou Yicheng and his battalion knew something was weird about the food cube but they did not bring it up.
Luo Yuan checked the map and sighed again. There was no better route than the one they were on. Other routes like the state highway was probably a forest covered with mutated plants by now. After lunch, the three children looked much better with their fever subsiding. In fact, they looked rather high-spirited, probably from the food cube.
Luo Yuan decided that they should depart at once seeing that everyone had recovered.
Soon, the collapsed area was 6 – 7 meters away from them with dense bushes under it. From above, pieces of cement and rusty steel fixtures could still be seen. These were signs that the collapse happened recently and it certainly wasn’t good news.
It meant that if the fall were not of natural causes, the real cause would not be far from them. He looked downwards and jumped after a short hesitation. He had been prepared for danger when they departed and there was no choice now anyway. It was simple; if they did not advance, they die.