Dong Zheng explored the area by himself. Finally, he found a trail that he could walk across, though he had to extend a great deal of efforts to do so.
To make walking easier, he picked up a long, sturdy branch to use as a walking stick.
He walked for more than an hour before he finally approached the edge of the swamp. Suddenly, he felt movements in the prisoner’s space.
Cui Zuojing was already awake, rubbing his eyes and sitting cross-legged on the bed, his hair a messy tangle. He gave Dong Zheng the signal that he wanted to come out.
Dong Zheng let him out for the time being.
After taking a rest, Cui Zuojing’s face had improved a little, since the fog wasn’t deadly. He looked around and asked, “Almost there?”
“It should be soon.” Dong Zheng stopped and handed Cui Zuojing his Tang Sword. He had already roughly cleaned up the blood on it.
“Why are you out already?”
“This isn’t a good place. It’s safer for me to accompany you.” Cui Zuojing stared at the dark woods. “Anyway, I’m fine.”
“Don’t lie to me.” Dong Zheng knew quite well from the sluggish Arabidopsis in the center of the inner core that Cui Zuojing was in poor condition. He raised his hand and touched Cui Zuojing’s forehead. A low-grade fever.
Cui Zuojing shook his head and pushed Dong Zheng’s hand aside, saying, “You don’t want someone to accompany you. You’re really hard to serve.”
Dong Zheng didn’t force him. “Okay, but if you start to feel uncomfortable, you must go back immediately. Don’t force it.”
Cui Zuojing casually said, “I know.”
Two people supporting each other was indeed better than one person going alone. Dong Zheng showed Cui Zuojing the ruby he got from Hydra’s immortal head. Naturally, Cui Zuojing also didn’t know what it was for.
With no boat, it was very difficult to cross the swamp. By the time he reached the edge, Dong Zheng was on the last vestige of his strength. Cui Zuojing could go back to the prisoner’s space to rest when he gets tired, but Dong Zheng couldn’t.
When they finally stepped on the dry and hard ground, Dong Zheng closed his eyes. He wanted to sit down and rest for a while and sleep. There wasn’t much left of the energy that he’d gotten from sleeping in the underground cavern on Cui Zuojing’s lap.
But he just stood there for a few minutes, leaning against the branch he was using as a walking stick, before he began to move forward again. He was afraid that, in his current condition, once he sat down to rest, he would never get up again.
The color of the sky had turned a lighter, fainter blue and the stars had gradually dimmed.
The sky was about to dawn.
Even though he’d just slept a while ago, Cui Zuojing also felt exhausted. He looked up at Dong Zheng. “Is it okay to move on? Or should we take a rest?”
Dong Zheng shook his head. “We can find a place to rest after dawn. Right now, it always feels unsafe.”
As they got further away from the swamp, the mangrove trees gradually thinned out, and a narrow, meandering path appeared along the rock-strewn dirt. It was unknown where it led to.
They walked in silence. Suddenly Dong Zheng stretched out his hand to stop Cui Zuojing, who was looking down at the road.
Cui Zuojing looked up and saw a black shadow squatting on a stone at the end of the path.
Cui Zuojing and Dong Zheng looked at each other and became more alert. The creature must have seen them too, but it remained silent.
Cui Zuojing: Go and see?
Dong Zheng: Let’s go.
After communicating with their eyes, they approached the figure step by step. Although Cui Zuojing pretended to be energetic, to be honest, his current state wasn’t too good. If they met another powerful monster like Hydra, he might have a difficult time dealing with it.
As they approached, the shadowed figure gradually became clearer. It was a monster with a lion body, a female face, and two wings on its back. Its two front paws rested on the boulder it was sitting on.
The moment they saw what the monster looked like, Dong Zheng and Cui Zuojing looked beyond it almost at the same time. As expected, they saw a cliff cutting into the path.
The monster gazed at them quietly. When it saw that they’d stopped, it said, “If you want to pass through here, you must answer one of my questions. If you get it wrong, I will eat you.”
The sky was no longer so dark, allowing Dong Zheng to clearly see the hair on the sphinx’s face. He took a deep breath and said, “What’s the question?”
He expected something like ‘What animal has four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three legs in the evening?’ This question was a well-known sphinx riddle, and everyone must know the answer.
According to the routine of this box script, it should be something like this. But, what the monster said next was beyond Dong Zheng’s expectation.
“Then listen to my question.” The sphinx slowly said, “There are a pair of sisters born on the same day. The older sister is born from the younger sister, and the younger sister is born from the older sister. Who are these sisters?”
Cui Zuojing was taken aback; he’d never heard of such a riddle.
Dong Zheng was also stumped for a while. His brows furrowed as he pondered. The sphinx waited patiently for his answer, its lion tail swaying, ready to snap their throats the moment they got the answer wrong or if they fled.
Each of the two sisters will be born from the other…
Born of each other… transformed.
The stars from the night sky grew dimmer and dimmer as the sky gradually brightened, the sun driving away the deep darkness. The moon loomed faintly in the clouds, while the sun hugged the edge of day above sea level.
Cui Zuojing was also thinking. According to the original sphinx riddle, the answer to the riddle should also be a metaphor, a very vivid metaphor.
He looked at the distant sky and felt that the answer seemed to be on the tip of his tongue, but he couldn’t think of its name at the moment.
What was it?
“The answer is day and night.”
Dong Zheng’s calm voice sounded beside him, startling Cui Zuojing. The sphinx’s expression changed instantly, and it looked like it might fall from the boulder it was sitting on.
It howled in anguish and hissed, “The group of people four hundred years ago answered my first question correctly, so I spent nearly a hundred years thinking about this question, and it was so easy to answer! This is impossible!”
It roared for a while, and then finally it raised its paw violently and pointed to the north. “Go along this road to the end and smash the stone with the eagle on it. What you want is there.”
After saying this, it looked extremely ashamed. With a cry, it threw itself down the cliff.
Cui Zuojing leaned over and watched as the monster crashed heavily onto a reef and was engulfed by the sea.
It was exactly the same as in the legend.
He turned his head and asked, “How did you guess?”
Day and night. When Dong Zheng gave the answer, Cui Zuojing suddenly realized that on the same day, day was born from night, and night also appeared from day. After careful consideration, it made sense. But it was really hard to guess.
Dong Zheng smiled and said, “My combat power isn’t good. If my brain can’t keep up, I don’t have the face to help you.”
Cui Zuojing raised his eyebrows and said, “It’s already pretty good that you have this ability. Besides, this isn’t a specialized combat unit… Hey, did you pass on your thinking to me when we fought Hydra earlier?”
“Yes, there’s a mapping of our blood contract in the world of my program kernel, allowing me to pass my thinking on to you to a certain extent.”
Dong Zheng walked in the direction the sphinx pointed out to them and explained, “At that time, I suddenly saw a path and many faded, alternative images, and thought it was probably the best course of action to pass on to you.”
Cui Zuojing touched his chin thoughtfully. “A deductive method?”
Dong Zheng said, “It’s a bit like that. In order to know more, I might have to wait until I feel that way again. I just knew that, if you followed the course of action outlined by the path, you would be able to smoothly kill Hydra.”
Cui Zuojing paused and couldn’t help sighing. “I am more and more looking forward to seeing you when you grow up.”
The sun pushed away from the distant sea level, and the first ray of sunlight spilled over the sea, the island, and the starry sky. The night dissipated, and the soft morning light washed across Dong Zheng and Cui Zuojing’s eyes.
Day was here.
They both stopped at the same place and watched as the red sun slowly rose. A cool and moist sea breeze blew past, causing Cui Zuojing to close his eyes and take a deep breath.
If he could ignore how hungry he was, he would enjoy it more.
Dong Zheng was naturally even more hungry than him. Cui Zuojing had already returned to the prisoner’s space for a meal when they were in the underground cavern, but Dong Zheng hadn’t eaten since noon yesterday.
Although Dong Zheng didn’t say anything, Cui Zuojing felt bad for him and suggested, “Let’s take a break and eat something. Anyway, you already know the way. If you’re hungry and have no energy at a critical moment, it’ll be over for you.”
Dong Zheng nodded and stopped. His legs were so tired, they felt as if they were no longer his. He sat down against the trunk of a tree and messaged his sore muscles.
Cui Zuojing carried the sword into the woods, and returned shortly afterwards with the tip of the knife dripping blood and holding the ears of two dead rabbits.
After picking up some firewood, he sat cross-legged beside Dong Zheng and began to neatly and efficiently prep the rabbit. He peeled off the whole furry skin, tore off the rabbit legs and skewered them, lit up the branches he’d gathered with the flint, and began roasting.
The condition of the weed in the center of Dong Zheng’s inner core seemed to be much better. Dong Zheng was relieved. He messaged his calf, exhaustion leaking from the depths of each cell. Now that he’d stopped moving, his entire body felt sore.
He was somewhat fearful that after resting, his nearly overdrawn body wouldn’t be able to support him anymore.
Cui Zuojing concentrated on roasting the rabbit legs. He waited until the meat was burnt to the point of oiliness before he tried to pass it over to Dong Zheng, only to find that the man had fallen asleep leaning on the tree trunk.
He didn’t bother him. Looking at the roasted rabbit leg in his hand, he decided to eat first.
Dong Zheng slept for 30 minutes before he suddenly woke up with a start. When he opened his eyes and saw that Cui Zuojing was sitting across him and that they were in a fairly safe place, he breathed a sigh of relief. Placing his hand over his pounding heart, he leaned back against the tree.
“Awake? Eat something before going back to sleep.” Cui Zuojing handed him the remaining rabbit leg. “It’s almost tasteless without seasoning, but it’s edible.”
Dong Zheng held the proffered rabbit leg and took a bite from the tenderest spot. Even though Cui Zuojing was good at craftsmanship, there was no seasoning or salt so it was still a little hard to swallow.
Dong Zheng was really hungry. No matter how it tasted, he gobbled the rabbit legs clean. Once he swallowed the last bite, Cui Zuojing roasted the rabbit’s body for him.
As Dong Zheng busily chewed on the rabbit meat, the burning sensation in his stomach finally eased a little. Cui Zuojing watched him eat and suddenly said, “Tutu is so cute. How can you eat it?” (1)
Dong Zheng glanced at him. He tore a large bite of the meat and chewed very vigorously and deliberately.
Cui Zuojing laughed. As if by magic, he reached behind him and produced a mineral water bottle full of water. “When I went looking for firewood, I found a small mountain creek, so I picked up some water.”
Dong Zheng drank a mouthful. The water tasted very crisp with a hint of leaves. Once he drank half the bottle, Cui Zuojing took the rest. He didn’t mind using something that had already been used by Dong Zheng and directly drank from the mouth.
He wiped his mouth boldly with the back of his hand, jumped to his feet, and said, “Wait here. I’ll go pick up a little more.”
(1) Tutu – Basically translates to Rabbit Rabbit, just a cute way of saying rabbit.