Chapter 37 Subduing and picking up
“Big Bro Lian, we’ve been walking for half a month now and we still aren’t at the Huayang Base yet? Didn’t Big Brother Jin say it was just thirty li away from He Village? We should’ve reached the location by now even if we’d been crawling!” Shaking his head, Zhao Xiaolong was on the verge of insanity. They had already been traversing deserted lands for half a month now, and still nothing.
Lian Hua looked around to see nothing but bushes, mutant beasts and plants hidden in the grass. There was no sign of people, zombies, villages. “Could it be we’re heading in the wrong direction?” Lian Hua said, scratching his head haplessly.
“Big Bro, didn’t you say we could follow the stars to the right location?” He Yuu asked, his small face peering upwards.
“Um…I don’t know about that!” Lian Hua hung his head too.
“Master, I’m back,” Lian Yuu leapt from the grass.
“Found anyone who knows the way among your kind?” Lian Hua asked. The three kids in their ragged clothing looked over expectantly.
“You think there are a million intelligent, high sensing plants?” Lian Yuu ranted. “Those idiots know nothing but how to eat. They don’t even understand what I’m asking, how could they count as my kind?”
“What you’re saying is you haven’t found the way?” Lian Hua sat on the ground.
Seeing the way he was acting was enough for the three kids to realize there was no more hope for today.
“Let’s just get something to eat for now,” Lian Hua comforted them. He never thought he’d be stuck on merely thirty li of roads for such a long time. Even though the road wasn’t damaged, none of them really knew which way to go. If only there was a survivor they could ask! Their luck had been such that they hadn’t bumped into a single person.
In half a month’s work they’d bumped into countless mutant beasts, insects, plants, chasing after them, leaving them without recourse. Thankfully Lian Hua had more than enough food and they weren’t in danger of starving. But being chased has some upsides too. Under constant pressure and with Lian Hua’s help, the three children had reached level 2 and could mostly fend for themselves now.
Good thing they weren’t in the true forest, so the mutant plants were nothing special. Even the animals were merely small mice and rabbits. An actual forest would be many times more dangerous.
“Let’s rest.” He Xu headed out to gather firewood without a word. Lian Hua no longer had to be the one taking care of such small matters any longer.
Waving his hand, he produced a soft patch of grass, sitting down without bothering to put up a roof.
“Roasted corn sounds good for today,” he said. A stalk of corn emerged ahead, with several corn cobs growing.
Grabbing them, he peeled the leaves off, pushed a wooden stick through, and put them down on another leaf.
“Anything else you want to eat?” he asked He Yuu.
“Meat, meat!” Zhao Xiaolong cried, waving his hands.
Ignoring him, Lian Hua grabbed some leaves with grooves, filling them with water and nectar before passing them out.
He Yuu accepted it and drank with little sips. Zhao Xiaolong finished it in a gulp, throwing the leaf away and standing up. “Yuu, Long, Big Bro is going to capture some meat for you.” With this, he ran away.
“Big Bro,” He Yuu glanced at Zhao Xiaolong and Lian Hua.
“No need to worry. Big Bro Long is quite skilled these days.”
“Okay, Big Bro. I want rice.” He Yuu said pitifully.
Lian Hua thought about it. It was a bit of a pain, but he could make it happen. It had been too long since he’d previously had rice. Growing a patch of rice, he rubbed them off and contained them in large leaves. Using a water blade, he chopped up two big rocks and poured the grains onto one of them before using the other one to grind them.
He’d only witnessed machine husking, never done it manually before. Whatever the success might be, he would at least try it out.
He Yuu ran over to help.
Together they worked for half an hour, coming out with a small pile of rice ground into shards. Lian Hua was almost on the verge of tears. They had no material resources on them anymore, and could only rely on Lian Hua’s abilities. His pants partially cut away by a mutant spider attack, Zhao Xiaolong’s pants had been mended by Lian Hua weaving some wood together into “cloth” to cover his rear. Everything was too sad.
That’s why Lian Hua was trying so hard to find a base. Even a little village would be fine! But they hadn’t found anyplace to replenish their resources.
He encouraged a few more stalks of bamboo to grow and sliced them up. Without a pot, they’d just cook rice in the bamboo shoots.
He Xu picked up firewood and took over the job of grinding rice.
Washing the broken rice, Lian Hua stuffed it into a clean bamboo section. He thought about it for a minute, then added potatoes and carrots into the mix as well. Since they had no salt, he had nothing else to add. Stuffing three bamboo sections full, He Xu came back with more rice. Lian Hua took a look and saw they were marginally better than the rice he’d ground. He stuffed five more, exactly two for each person. These kids didn’t have a small appetite after all, since they were still growing.
“Cage, let the sparrow out,” Lian Hua murmured to the cage that was standing nearby.
The cage was already level 4. With Lian Yu’s training and nourishment, it had already developed awareness of its own. It was quite rare for mutated plants like this one to develop spiritual awareness. Most could only harness a hazy consciousness, unlike this cage who was almost human-like in thinking.
Passing a “section” over, the cage opened up. There was a featherless bird inside, the same one who passed out from stink earlier. In the chaos the cage had managed to pick it up. Discovering there was no way to cook, it had decided to present it.
The moment the poor sparrow had woken up, it had been irritated, peeled of its feathers by a group of angry little kids. If it hadn’t spat fire at the last moment, it would’ve been drawn and quartered just like its predecessors.