Chapter 45: The Third Evening
The sun gradually set in the west, and the horizon was golden-red. In the grayish-black wilderness, trees occasionally appeared, standing tall.
Long Yuehong looked at the few figures heading north and asked in confusion, “Why are some Ruin Hunters traveling purely on foot? Won’t they be unable to keep up with the previous batch of people?”
Ever since they separated from Wu Shoushi and the others and headed to Blackrat Town, they encountered several groups of Ruin Hunters heading north of Yuelu Station.
Some of these hunters had driven modified vehicles, some used motorcycles that constantly roared, some relied on bicycles, and others rode domesticated horses. Although there were all kinds of strange vehicles, they had some form of transportation.
Bai Chen—who was driving—glanced at them and simply said, “They’re all here to pick up the leftovers.”
“What do you mean?” asked Long Yuehong.
In the passenger seat, Jiang Baimian carried out maintenance on her pistol. Without raising her head, she said, “They are deliberately walking because they do not wish to be the first to reach the city ruins. This way, the Ruin Hunters ahead can help them take the wrong steps and eliminate many dangers.
“Although this will also result in them losing the right to obtain first-hand information and the right to choose precious resources, it’s safer. As long as they don’t go too deep into the city center, they have a high chance of surviving. After all, it’s such a large city. Even if a large faction’s unit is ahead, they won’t be able to clear out everything in the periphery at once and guard all the roads leading to it.”
Long Yuehong came to a realization before having new questions. “But they won’t be able to carry much with them. Just carrying things on their shoulders will limit how much they can carry. It’s better not to go.”
Jiang Baimian looked up and chuckled. “From the looks of it, you really don’t have any concept of city ruins. There are many old vehicles and all kinds of spare parts there. As long as you know how to repair them, you can ‘prepare’ new transportation devices over there. Heh heh, that itself is one of the harvests.
“Actually, compared to the people who drive over by themselves, they will end up harvesting more—a lot more.”
Long Yuehong thought about it and realized that it was true.
Previously, Wu Shoushi’s Ruin Hunter team had a total of four people. They had driven a gray SUV. After they reached the city ruin after avoiding or resolving any danger, they could at most obtain three cars and four vehicles worth of supplies. Any more and they would not be able to take the spoils away.
If the four Ruin Hunters purely walked over on foot with their tents and weapons on their backs, they could at most obtain four cars and four vehicles worth of supplies.
Shang Jianyao thought for a moment and muttered to himself, “Isn’t the main point of driving to save time traveling and maintaining stamina?”
Jiang Baimian holstered the United 202 pistol back on her belt and pointed at the group of people in the distance. “Yes. Hence, this group of people will definitely have to rest for more than a day when they arrive at Yuelu Station. In any case, they don’t have to be in a rush.”
She then looked around. “It’s almost evening. It looks like we won’t be able to reach Blackrat Town today. Let’s find a spot like a hillock to camp at. We can leave at dawn.”
Shang Jianyao, Long Yuehong, and Bai Chen replied one after another.
They found a small mound in the grayish-black wilderness before long, and they set up a tent with its back facing the wind.
Jiang Baimian looked at the bonfire and clapped her hands. Her eyes darted about slightly. “Shang Jianyao, Long Yuehong, your mission in the afternoon hasn’t been completed yet!”
“Huh?” Long Yuehong was a little confused. It took him a few seconds to remember that he hadn’t finished the mission in the steelworks factory ruins—find food with his own abilities and draw a layout of the steelworks factory ruins.
Long Yuehong quickly defended himself. “But our expedition was interrupted by Jingfa. We can’t return now, and we have to go to Blackrat Town.”
Shang Jianyao—who was beside him—didn’t say anything and only smiled at Jiang Baimian as if he understood that his team leader was ‘deliberately looking for trouble.’
Jiang Baimian looked around and smiled. “Therefore, I have to give you a different mission that you can complete now.”
She then looked down at the black electronic watch on her wrist. “Complete a hunt before dark. There’s no restriction on the prey’s size.”
With that said, she looked up and ordered Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong, “Show me the parts of the map that you have finished drawing.”
Shang Jianyao immediately handed over the piece of paper that only had the hospital and radio station area drawn on it.
Jiang Baimian took it and unfolded it. Her expression immediately turned a little strange. “Why did you label a bathroom? It can’t be used again.”
Team Leader, what you said is very strange… Long Yuehong didn’t dare voice out his thoughts.
Shang Jianyao replied seriously, “Being detailed and realistic are my requirements for drawing a map.”
“You’ve previously drawn a map?” Jiang Baimian was a little curious.
“No.” Shang Jianyao shook his head frankly.
“Then why the…” Jiang Baimian swallowed her last word and waved her hand. “Start your hunting.”
Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong did not waste any time. They carried their assault rifles and walked to the top of the small mound to look around.
The weeds in the wilderness gently swayed amidst the evening wind, bouncing off the light from the grayish-black soil and various rocks.
Only a few dozen trees could be seen at first glance, much less active animals. This meant that Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong couldn’t even find a target.
“Which way?” Long Yuehong asked habitually.
Shang Jianyao looked at the stream around the mound. “Follow it and find the river. There should be fish there.”
“That’s right.” Long Yuehong’s expression relaxed. Long Yuehong then hesitated before saying, “But is this considered hunting?”
“Considering the goal, it definitely counts,” Shang Jianyao replied casually. “The only problem is how far we have to go to find fish.”
“…Why don’t we hunt other animals while we’re at it?” Long Yuehong suddenly had a strange thought. “Shang Jianyao, do you think you can use your Inference Clowning ability to lure prey over?”
Shang Jianyao sized up Long Yuehong. “First, you have to make them understand me. Second, you have to make them stop and listen to me.”
“…That’s true.” Long Yuehong opened his mouth as if he wanted to ask something, but he didn’t say anything in the end. He thought for a moment and said, “We can’t hunt blindly. Let’s consult Bai Chen first.”
“Alright.” Shang Jianyao didn’t mind. He turned around and walked toward the jeep, which was near the bonfire.
Long Yuehong stared at his back and fell silent for two seconds before gently sighing.
After approaching the jeep, Shang Jianyao asked frankly, “Bai Chen, where will there be prey nearby?”
Bai Chen pointed at the sparse trees. “You can head there to take a look. There should be rabbits. You have to pay attention when distinguishing footprints and feces…”
She briefly talked about the trick to hunting rabbits before saying, “If you were an ordinary person, I would suggest setting up traps and using tools. However, you have a certain level of marksmanship. You just need to maintain your calm and not panic.”
“Okay.” Long Yuehong and Shang Jianyao immediately felt a little anticipation.
An hour later, while the sun’s rays were weakening, Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong returned to the bonfire with ashen faces.
The former held a grayish-white hare in his hand with blood dripping down.
Jiang Baimian—who was warming herself by the fire—stood up. “You guys took so long to capture only one rabbit?”
“Rabbits are too sensitive. They run fast and have many holes…” Long Yuehong wore a stumped expression.
Jiang Baimian smiled and finished the sentence for him. “Besides, too many people passed by the area today, startling the rabbits. Therefore, they are even harder to catch.”
“Yes, yes, yes!” Long Yuehong hurriedly replied.
Shang Jianyao thought for a moment and said, “We underestimated rabbits too much and thought that we could capture them easily.”
“Not bad. With the experience this time, it’ll be easier in the future.” Jiang Baimian pointed at the bonfire. “Remove its fur, drain the blood, and roast it.”
The rabbit was soon strung up on a relatively thick branch and was roasted over the crimson fire.
From time to time, Bai Chen sprinkled salt on the rabbit, making its surface gradually turn golden. It also gave off a fragrance that Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong had never smelled before.
“It seems to be very delicious…” Long Yuehong and Shang Jianyao said in unison.
Jiang Baimian smiled and shook her head. “I can only say that we’ll make do. There’s no oil for basting, no spices for sprinkling, and rabbit meat is relatively tough. Thus, just make do with it.”
“How extravagant,” replied Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong subconsciously. It was such a waste to use oil to baste the meat when roasting!
Jiang Baimian kept staring at the small rabbit and didn’t look up. “Sometimes, we can only finish a portion on the spot when we don’t have a container to hold the oil that seeps out. In the wilderness, you have to know how to adapt to the environment.”
Just as Jiang Baimian said that, she suddenly glanced at the side of the small mound. “Two people are coming over.”
Long Yuehong—who was guarding the surroundings—immediately raised his Berserker assault rifle’s muzzle.
Shang Jianyao and Bai Chen looked over as well.
A few minutes later, they saw the two people.
It was a man-woman duo. The former was less than 1.8 meters tall and in his forties. He had long black hair and a very elegant beard that circled his mouth. Even though he was almost middle-aged, it was easy to tell that he used to be a handsome man.
The woman was about 1.7 meters tall, had blond hair, blue eyes, and deep facial features. She was very beautiful.
What they had in common was that they both wore loose, rarely-seen robes. One was black, and the other was grayish-blue. The latter had all kinds of strange and abstract symbols on its surface.
Jiang Baimian raised her eyebrows and asked loudly, “What are the two of you doing here?”
The blond-haired, blue-eyed woman in the grayish-blue robe immediately stopped in her tracks. She wrapped her left hand around her right hand and raised it to her eyebrows before bowing. “The Celestial Worthy of Immeasurable for Blessings.”
She used a perfectly accented language of the Ashlands, not the Red River language that was expected of her appearance.
The middle-aged man smiled and said, “I don’t know her well. I caught a whiff of the fragrance shortly after we met, so I came over to try my luck and see if anyone would be kind enough.”
“But there’s no way to be kind.” Jiang Baimian calmly pointed at the small rabbit by the bonfire.
“Since we’ve encountered each other, isn’t it good for everyone to have a chat?” The middle-aged man maintained his smile. “I’m not tooting my own horn, but everyone I’ve met has praised me for being knowledgeable.”
Upon hearing this, Jiang Baimian signaled Shang Jianyao and the others to keep their guard up. She then smiled and said, “Alright.”