Cui Zuojing was tired and hungry. The venison he and Heinrich had eaten in the morning had already been digested. His stomach was empty and a little uncomfortable.
He and Dong Zheng leaned on each other, resting with their backs against the cave wall. Dong Zheng had his eyes quietly closed as he rested. If it weren’t for the prisoner link, he wouldn’t have known that Dong Zheng was also hungry. Looking at his calm and unperturbed expression, Cui Zuojing really wondered if Dong Zheng was Ironman.
Cui Zuojing shifted in discomfort.
If he were with other people in the team, such as Lin Hangzhi, Allen, or anyone else, he would never display such an unreliable and unrestrained behavior. But now, he knew that Dong Zheng wouldn’t care. No matter how he felt or what he thought, it was okay to show it completely. Anyway, they were connected. Even if he didn’t say anything, Dong Zheng could sense it.
Suddenly, he had an idea. “Let me go back to the prisoner’s space to eat something. I’ll come out when I’m full.”
Dong Zheng opened his eyes. He didn’t talk nonsense and directly drew a symbol in the air with his finger. The coat of arms on the back of his hand flashed and Cui Zuojing disappeared from beside him.
He was the only one left in the empty, underground cavern.
This was a loneliness that Dong Zheng had been familiar with since childhood.
Cui Zuojing returned to the prisoner’s space and immediately imagined what he wanted to eat and quietly enjoyed barbecue while standing.
Dong Zheng glanced through his consciousness and then stopped peeking. There was nothing more painful than watching others eat and drink while he himself was hungry.
Cui Zuojing ate his fill, leaving his perfectly satisfied mouth with a layer of grease. But, he still didn’t forget his starving companion outside and hurriedly went out to accompany Dong Zheng.
Of course, he couldn’t bring anything out from the prisoner’s space.
Therefore, two starving people turned into one starving person. Cui Zuojing was a little apologetic. He sat down beside Dong Zheng, saw that the man was still resting with his eyes closed, and said, “You sleep for a while. I’ll keep a lookout.”
Dong Zheng nodded and didn’t decline; he was really exhausted.
Cui Zuojing gently pushed him down, and when Dong Zheng opened his eyes questioningly, he patted his thigh, saying “I’ll give you a chance to sleep comfortably. Do you want to?”
Dong Zheng still thought he misunderstood. “What?”
“For the sake of saving my life, you can sleep comfortably on me.” As Cui Zuojing said this, he pressed Dong Zheng’s shoulders down. Dong Zheng hurriedly propped himself up and asked, “You’ll let me rest on your lap?”
His voice was a little incredulous. Cui Zuojing looked down at him for a second and said, “If you don’t want to, then forget it. I have good intentions. Why are you being reticent?”
“I didn’t mean to.” Dong Zheng quickly lay down before Cui Zuojing could change his mind. “I always thought that you didn’t like to have excessive close contact with people.”
“How can you tell?” Cui Zuojing was a little curious. “I think I have always behaved like a normal person.”
“…Maybe I am too sensitive.”
“Go to sleep. Don’t waste time. Take a rest and raise your energy so we can set off again. We can’t stay here.” Cui Zuojing placed his hand over Dong Zheng’s eyes. “It’s dark now. Go to sleep.”
Just like a child.
This thought flashed through Dong Zheng’s mind, and he quickly suppressed his train of thoughts and the notions in his heart, so that they wouldn’t be transmitted to Cui Zuojing through the spiritual link.
He rested on the youth’s thighs, facing upwards, and feeling the wonderful softness in this dark and cold underground cavern.
Although Cui Zuojing looked small and thin, there was indeed a lot of meat on his body, growing in places that were not normally easy for others to detect.
The hand covering Dong Zheng’s eyes was removed, faintly brushing across his eyelashes.
Dong Zheng actually wanted to indulge in this sudden surprise for a while, but he was too tired. After closing the pain port, forcibly enhancing his vision, and contending with his and Cui Zuojing’s injuries, he was also mentally exhausted.
Within a few breaths, he fell asleep.
With a silent sigh, Cui Zuojing leaned back against the cave wall and looked down at Dong Zheng lying on his lap. He could see that Dong Zheng was really tired. The deliberate control that Dong Zheng held over himself finally relaxed, revealing his true state. His face was tired, and there was a short layer of stubble on his chin. This sloppy look wasn’t like his usual style, but it wasn’t unattractive.
The cave was quiet all around them, except for the sound of water dripping from the ceiling. Cui Zuojing slowly thought about everything that had happened since entering the box, combing for clues that might be useful.
There were 31 pilgrims in a box that was supposed to only have 30. The person who’d died due to brain tissue damage could be regarded as being killed by a hidden monster, but there seemed to be something wrong with this conclusion.
After they’d landed on Dusk Island, they’d seen many anomalous creatures, but they have yet to come across one with such an ability.
There was also the box and the inverted pentagram found in the engine room. Dong Zheng said that he’d noticed the chaotic energy the box emitted, and later the Anzu came to him and took it away completely.
And…there was the taciturn Spaniard, Domingo, with an encyclopedia in his head, secrets regarding customs clearance, a superb weapon, and an inexplicable relationship with their team.
Cui Zuojing went over the details once again, only to confirm that the biggest variable in this box, the most critical mystery, might be Domingo.
It was unknown where the black fog had transported this person to, but Cui Zuojing thought about it carefully and felt that…there seemed to be an inexplicable rivalry and hostility between Domingo and Dong Zheng?
He naturally understood this as a power confrontation between two male creatures.
With Dong Zheng lying on his lap, Cui Zuojing couldn’t move so he leaned against the wall and rested. In the midst of boredom, he counted Dong Zheng’s eyelashes one by one using the blue light of the nearby crystal ores.
Dong Zheng said that he looked more like his mother, and although he’d never seen the woman, Cui Zuojing guessed that she must have been a great beauty.
After counting Dong Zheng’s eyelashes, he began to count the individual hair on Dong Zheng’s stubble. Finally, he took out a piece of paper, trying to use the power of slayer to secretly fix him.
An hour and a half later, Cui Zuojing felt that the fluctuations in the prisoner link had stabilized so he patted Dong Zheng on the shoulder to wake him up.
Dong Zheng’s brows furrowed and he opened his eyes. It took him two seconds to realize what the soft “pillow” under his head was.
“How long have I slept?”
Cui Zuojing raised his hand and glanced at his watch. “An hour and a half.”
Dong Zheng hummed in acknowledgement. He’d slept very steadily, as if he wasn’t lying in a cave that the prehistoric monster, Leviathan, had just passed through. Although the time was tight, his rest was exceptionally good. He hadn’t slept for long, but his whole body felt much more energetic.
Dong Zheng knew in his heart that this was only because Cui Zuojing was by his side. He believed that no matter what happened, the youth would not allow him to fall into danger.
He sat up and felt a chill on the side of his cheeks. He raised his hand to touch it, only to find that his stubble had somehow disappeared.
Dong Zheng: ?
Cuo Zuojing turned his head away innocently, staring at a crystal ore on the wall, as if he could see flowers growing on top.
Dong Zheng lowered his head and saw the black hair scattered on the youth’s pants.
Dong Zheng: …………………….
He quickly touched his entire head, and after making sure that his hair wasn’t shaved, he sighed and patted the hair off Cui Zuojing’s pants.
Cui Zuojing, realizing that he’d been discovered: …………..
“Let’s go.” Dong Zheng didn’t mention it. Without a mirror, he didn’t know how Cui Zuojing’s shave looked like, but it didn’t matter.
Cui Zuojing breathed a sigh of relief when he saw that Dong Zheng wasn’t going to pursue it. He also felt a little regretful because, after he’d finished shaving off Dong Zheng’s stubble, he came up with an excuse. Now, he couldn’t use it.
With his time frozen at the age of sixteen for eight years, if he couldn’t break the silence, then he would become a little abnormal in silence. Cui Zuojing had long discovered that he would sometimes become particularly cheap, like now.
They once again explored the huge underground cavern. Compared to the first time, when they’d rushed, this time they were much more careful in looking for an exit.
Soon, Cui Zuojing found a gloomy passage on the other side of the lake that meandered to some unknown location.
They entered one after another and walked through this underground world.
It seemed that the crystal ores gathered more abundantly near the cavern. As they progressed, the passageway darkened again, and soon Cui Zuojing couldn’t see anything.
He behaved the same way he did when they first came. He held Dong Zheng’s hand and let him lead the way.
Except for the two of them, there seemed to be no other creatures in the cave. There were no fishes in the underground channel. The only sounds that broke through the silence was the sound of dripping water and their breathing.
It was unknown how long they walked. Perhaps, two hours? Regardless, Dong Zheng led Cui Zuojing throughout the whole journey, to the point where Cui Zuojing almost gave up his ability to think. He would follow Dong Zheng anywhere.
The wind blew from afar.
Cui Zuojing was shocked, and his consciousness immediately returned. He trotted a few steps forward in the dark, dragging Dong Zheng, and asked, “Is there an exit ahead?”
Dong Zheng gave him a positive answer.
Fifteen hours after entering the cave from the canyon, they finally returned to ground level.
He felt dry land under his feet, his eyes once again caught the moonlight and starlight, and his ears heard the rustle of the forest tips dancing to the wind. Finally, Cui Zuojing breathed a sigh of relief. His nerves were tired from being stretched taut by their unchanging environment, and now he could relax a little.
Cui Zuojing carefully observed the stars in the sky, saw the North Star he was looking for, and judged that they were now diagonally northeast of the island.
There was no sound of waves, so this place was not close to the shore.
They walked for some distance and saw water reflecting the starlight in front of them. When they got closer, Dong Zheng realized that what lay in front of them was a swamp.
It was a typical mangrove swamp, with uneven roots of mangroves intertwined and entwined together, dividing the swamp into several independent but connected waterways.
The shrubs and reeds had to compete with the mangroves for sunshine, and they grew sparsely on the shore.
Cui Zuojing picked up a stone and threw it over. With a plop, the stone fell into the water and sank into the thick sludge below. He startled a few resting waterbirds, who fluttered away.
Dong Zheng went around, and he discovered that in order to leave this place, they must cross through the swamp.
“The box is deliberately making trouble for us.” Cui Zuojing said. Everyone knew that there were often many animals lurking in the swamp and among the vegetation. Crossing the swamp was a serious challenge for human beings.
“It shouldn’t be too much trouble.” Dong Zheng found a small wooden boat on the shore not far away. It was probably left by a former British expedition team. The boat wasn’t big and could only sit four people.
He checked and found that the damage wasn’t serious, and it was still usable.
Cui Zuojing came over, bent down, and picked up the oars that had been entangled with water plants. It was completely corroded into a black color. He said, “Well, it seems that only you can use it.”