The stitched-heart bear finished the last stitch, and the piece of cloth became intact skin and flesh and blood. Victor pressed his paw on Cui Zuojing’s shoulder, decreasing the pain with purification.
“The bird snatched the box.” Cui Zuojing knew that the bird had a clear goal from the very beginning. The box must have some unknown purpose. As he talked, he couldn’t help sniffing, trying hard to hold back tears.
He felt incredibly embarrassed.
“It’s okay.” After confirming that Cui Zuojing’s wounds had healed, Dong Zheng relaxed his hold on his waist and said in a low voice, “You go back and take a rest.”
“I’ll find it.”
“Okay.” Then, Cui Zuojing reminded him again, “You must find the sword.”
Cui Zuojing obediently returned to the prisoner’s space to recuperate.
Allen was flipping through the codex. “I found it! This thing is called the Anzu, and it also needs to be collected. What we need is…three feathers from its tail.”
“We can do that at the same time when we take the box back.” Dong Zheng stood, his clothes somewhat stained with Cui Zuojing’s blood. “Let’s go. First, we’ll find the sword, and then we can join the others as planned.”
Cui Zuojing laid on the big bed and sighed heavily. He rubbed his sore, wet eyes.
How many years has it been since he’d been injured like this?
After going back, he was always at ease. In the real world, he didn’t need to struggle on the edge of life and death. The last time he felt this kind of pain was when he was in God’s Back Garden eight years ago, during the final battle.
Compared to how he’d been at that time, his current endurance was much weaker. Otherwise, how could he embarrass himself in front of Dong Zheng to the point of tears?
Cui Zuojing rolled his eyes disdainfully, turned around, and hugged the comforter. He decided to take a good night’s sleep and relax his exhausted body.
If the others encountered dangers later on, they should be able to handle it.
As Cui Zuojing expected, it seemed that the trials were over. The next journey was fairly uneventful. Dong Zheng retrieved Cui Zuojing’s Tang Sword, and they soon arrived at the place where smoking was rising up and saw the pilgrims gathered there.
The people who’d created the smoke beacon could also be regarded as their acquaintances. It was the young Swiss, Heinrich; the fat Chinese man, Tao Ji; and the passionate female from Argentina, Beverly. This group of three was probably the strongest group in the box aside from them. Well, to be precise, without Cui Zuojing and Victor, that group of three would definitely be stronger than them.
Seeing Dong Zheng and the others approaching, Beverly waved her hand and smiled. “Finally, someone came. I thought everyone was going to pretend not to see it.”
Roughly speaking, they had already sent the signal for nearly four to five hours, but no one came. Heinrich was even planning to leave.
Dong Zheng said, “The reason everyone was so slow was probably because they met some things on the way here.”
The place they guarded was a pond so clear that they could see the smooth pebbles at the bottom and the swimming small fishes about a finger thick. The moment they saw the water source, everyone thirsty became busy all at once. They didn’t care if there were bacterias in it; at least it looked clean. After they finished drinking, they filled their own bottle with water to take with them.
Dong Zheng had a good impression of Heinrich and his group. Heinrich looked intelligent but not like someone who would deceive others. If conditions permitted, Dong Zheng would consider maintaining communications with them.
Heinrich looked around but didn’t see Cui Zuojing. He asked, “Hey, where is that little brother?”
“He’s somewhat injured and is resting in his prisoner’s space.”
“Injured? I can help.” Seeing that Dong Zheng seemed a little confused, Heinrich explained, “My ability is healing.”
He looked at everyone in the Wonton Insurgency and said to Wang Que, “Little Sister, why do you look unwell?”
Wang Que was kneeling on the shore and washing her face. Her cheeks were flushed, but her lips were pale. When Heinrich called her, she was startled and subconsciously glanced at Lin Hangzhi beside her. She whispered, “I…seem to have a fever.”
She was really exhausted, and she had no chance to rest. Her body wasn’t well enough. At this moment, she only had a low-grade fever, which was still very good.
Heinrich walked over to Wang Que, held her wrist with one hand, and held onto an arbor with his other hand. Ten seconds later, the tree’s green leaves quickly yellowed and wither. They fell to the ground, and the whole tree entered Winter in advance.
Wang Que only felt a cool force coming from Heinrich’s hand. It quickly swept over her entire body, eliminating the abnormal heat in each cell that was giving her a low-grade fever. Her sore skin was no longer slightly hot.
She became more energetic and recovered all at once.
Everyone was shocked by this magical ability. Heinrich let go of her hand, smiled slightly, and said, “My ability can be simply summarized as transferring life energy, but the conversion efficiency isn’t high. It consumes a lot of excess energy. For example, I had to transfer the vitality of the whole tree to this little sister just to cure her low-grade fever.”
Even so, Dong Zheng couldn’t help but praise, “It’s already a very strong ability.”
It was similar to Victor’s purification. The difference was that Victor had to consume his own energy, while Heinrich only needed to extract it from other places.
Heinrich said, “So if your prisoner needs it, I can help him. There are a lot of plants here, so I don’t have to worry about raw materials.”
Dong Zheng smiled. “Thank you, but he had already been taken care of. Among us, we also have a healer. Cui Zuojing is very nearly healed. What he needed more is to rest.”
Heinrich was somewhat surprised. “You also have a healer? Is it Doctor Lin?”
“It’s me,” Dong Linhai said. Although almost everyone knew that Victor was a summoning beast, normal summoning beasts usually don’t have an ability. In order not to expose Victor’s uniqueness, Dong Linhai could only take the responsibility for him.
Heinrich smiled and said, “Mmn, everyone is great. It seems that the probability of passing this box is very high.”
His teammate, the woman named Beverly, patted his shoulder. “Hey, don’t talk nonsense.”
The other teammate, Tao Ji, nodded. “If you raise the flag, it will definitely fall. Don’t say stuff like that.”
“Mmn, then I won’t say anything.” Heinrich saw that no one else came over and added, “Let’s take a break and then we can decide what to do next.”
The two teams hunted a deer together and after preparing the meat, they put it on a sharpened branch.
Wang Que found firewood and was about to ask Dong Linhai for a flint when Beverly snapped her fingers. A flame emerged from her fingertips and she used it to light the fire.
Seeing Wang Que’s surprise, Beverly laughed. “My ability.”
Everyone sat by the water and had lunch together. While they were eating, several small teams that had been following the smoke finally found them.
They were joined by three more teams. One team originally had five members. However, one of them failed to locate the island and remained lost forever in the ocean. Another team member disappeared inexplicably halfway on the journey here. Only three members remained. The other teams had injured teammates but no loss of life.
Everyone exchanged information, and they discovered that they already collected a total of three books. The pictures on the cover were that of a human, a bull, and an eagle, respectively. The content in the front of each book was also similar, but each was written in a different language.
Based on Lillian’s words, the remaining book should be with the three men that had regarded her as their personal belongings.
Heinrich said thoughtfully, “It’s kind of like the four living creatures.”
“The four living creatures?”
A Christian in the group explained, “In the bible, ‘Ezekiel’s Four Living Creatures’ describes the four living creatures as a man, a cow, a lion, and an eagle. They appeared in the Gospel of Mark, Gospel of Matthew, Gospel of John, and Gospel of Luke.”
Many non-believers were confused. Wang Que quietly asked Lillian in the prisoner’s space. “Do you remember the image on the front cover of the codex?”
Lillian said at once, “I remember. It was a very strange-looking lion.”
Wang Que secretly told Dong Zheng what Lillian told her. Dong Zheng nodded and indicated that he understood.
As everyone was discussing it, Dong Zheng said, “We ran into another team on the road. And they seemed to have taken away the lion codex.”
Since the box required that everyone worked together to collect the seal, there was no need to hide too many things.
Heinrich said, “If that’s the case, everyone must take a quick rest. Afterward, we can separate to collect the required materials. Once we’ve accomplished our task, we can meet at the temple at the mountain top.
Everyone responded positively. Dong Zheng was also very happy to be led so that he wouldn’t need to worry too much.
They rested around the lake. Heinrich sat with the Wonton Insurgency, obviously interested in them. After chatting a few words with Dong Zheng, he went to find them a team member and came face to face with Dong Linhai. He was very outspoken and amiable, as if wittingly or unwittingly trying to extract information from him.
However, Dong Linhai was no longer the silly boy he’d been when he first came to the Pure White Realm. No matter his words or his reactions, he didn’t reveal anything important about the team.
The sun gradually slanted to the west. If they don’t set off now and wait until it gets dark, then they won’t make any progress at all today. Everyone filled their containers with enough water and separated to explore the four directions on the island.
Before leaving, Heinrich found Dong Zheng alone and said, “I recently established a pilgrim organization. It’s still in its infancy and urgently needs some core members. I wonder if you’ll be interested in joining?”
Dong Zheng said, “We’ve only just known each other. Don’t you feel concerned about inviting us just like that.”
Heinrich smiled and said, “I have very good instincts, and my instinct tells me that you’re not ordinary people. Plus, don’t we all get along quite well together? Finding the right companion and collaborator is more important than finding a powerful one.”
Dong Zheng glanced around. Not far away, Tao Ji, a very honest, heavy-weight man in Heinrich’s team, was chatting with Lin Hangzhi. Meanwhile, Beverly sat with Wang Que, talking and laughing. Victor sat at their feet, carefully smoothing his fur.
Dong Zheng returned his gaze. “I’ll consider it. If there is a chance, once we leave the box, I’ll contact you and give you an answer.”
This answer made Heinrich very satisfied. If Dong Zheng had rashly agreed, he would start to doubt the accuracy of his judgement.
There were currently five teams present, consisting of 20 pilgrims total. The Wonton Insurgency was heading north, Heinrich’s team and the other three-person team were headed to the more dangerous south together, and the other two groups were responsible for the east and the west.
After packing up their things, they made sure they had enough water before Dong Zheng led everyone in the team out.
They walked all the way north.
The sun gradually slanted from the top of their head west toward the horizon. They encountered many strange creatures along the way. According to the annotations in the codex, everyone needed to work together to obtain the required monster parts necessary to unlock the seal.
After a month of special training, everyone’s strength was significantly improved. At least now, Lin Hangzhi wasn’t as helpless in the face of crisis. Allen’s physical strength was much better, and he could run two kilometers with a single launch and not feel so tired. Wang Que was a little weaker, but she also didn’t hold everyone back.
As they approached the northernmost corner of the island, the forest gradually became thinner. They had originally landed on the southeast shore, with sandy beaches and an abundance of reefs. The terrain was also relatively flat. Going north was equivalent to crossing the entire island. Naturally, they needed to take a mountain path.
Cui Zuojing spent most of the day recuperating in the prisoner’s space. He played a game on a game console for a while, but he soon became bored and wanted to come out.
“Are you really okay?” Dong Zheng was still a little worried. Although he knew that with the heart-stitched bear, no matter how serious the injury, it should be fine. But he couldn’t help but worry.
Cui Zuojing disdainfully said, “Please, I’m not Little Sister Lin. How can I be so delicate?”
Realizing that the other party didn’t notice his extraordinary concern at all, Dong Zheng was silent for a moment. Finally, he said, “Okay, come out.”
When they met with the others and exchanged information, mostly everyone seemed to have landed on the southeastern part of the island, and so no one knew what the north side was like.
The setting sun was a huge, round orb hanging above the sea, its dim yellow light dying the flowing clouds into brilliant colors and illuminating the steep valley in front of them.
It hadn’t taken them long to reach the northern edge of the island. It was very different from the southern region, with its golden sandy beaches and sounds of crashing waves.
Standing on the edge of the canyon, Dong Zheng looked down and down. Inside the valley itself, the terrain was fairly flat, winding long into the distance. There seemed to be artificial traces left behind by workers long ago.
“Should we go down and take a look?”
No one disputed this suggestion.
Just as they were about to find a path into the canyon, a loud cry came from far behind them. Everyone turned their heads one after another. At the top of the mountain in the middle of the island, a gray figure suddenly rose up into the air. It circled the top of the mountain several times, fluttered it’s wings,and glided toward the north.
The gray figure got closer and closer. Dong Zheng deliberately controlled the data in his program kernel, manipulating them to enter the visual port at a more concentrated level. His vision slowly became clearer. It was a huge bird, one much bigger than the Anzu that had taken away the wooden box.
It was flying toward them at fast speed.
“Go! Find a place to hide!”
Dong Zheng instinctively sensed the danger and immediately reacted. Everyone hurried back to the forest, hoping to use the tall trees as cover.
If an Anzu alone could control Cui Zuojing, who was the most powerful person in their team, then this bird was even more terrifying. Even if they wanted to face it, it looked like it could swallow them whole in one bite.
Wang Que hid behind a rock and did not dare to look at the creature. Three to four minutes later, the bird swept over them like a large passenger plane, covering the sky and creating a fast, whistling whirlwind.
The whirlwind created by one flap of its wings was enough to make the top of the trees sway violently, making people wonder how such a huge creature could exist in this world!
Victor clutched the clothes on Cui Zuojing’s chest tightly. The youth held him in one hand while the other hand gripped his sword. He quietly peaked out from behind the tree where he was hiding and watched as the giant bird patrolled along the deep valley. It turned around and flew the same way it came, apparently satisfied that everything appeared normal.
It immediately tipped on its side, its wings flattening, as it angled toward the west where the sun was setting.
Everyone waited for a while to make sure that the giant bird really left before finally leaving the forest cover.
Allen said, “What was it doing? Was it patrolling?”
“It’s possible,” Dong Linhai said. “It flew over the top of the mountain. If I remember correctly, the ancient codex said that the last seal was there. Maybe this bird is the guardian?”
“Then don’t we have to fight it in the end?” Allen couldn’t help but be speechless. With a creature that large, it’s difficult to imagine resisting.
Take the bird just now. If he really stood in front of it, Allen wouldn’t even bother running because he doubted he would be able to escape.
“Who knows. Don’t look at it too pessimistically. The box may not necessarily require us to rely on force to clear it. Using one’s brain is also a good option.” Cui Zuojing didn’t panic. He went to the edge of the canyon and looked for a way to get down to the bottom. “Let’s go down first. Hurry up. It will be harder after dark.”
The sun was about to touch sea level, and darkness would indeed come.
The sparkling, golden waves along the sea were really beautiful, but no one had the mood to appreciate them.
Wang Que bit her lower lip, took a deep breath, frowned, and closed her eyes. She whispered in her heart.
—Where are you?
The invisible [Fungi Bell] shook, sending out sound waves that could not be heard by human ears. Sleeping insects burst out from their hiding spot one after another, sending a response signal back to Wang Que.
She suppressed the urge to vomit and focused on analyzing the terrain of each area. Three minutes later, she gagged and opened her eyes.
Dong Linhai was next to her, and he cast her a somewhat doubtful and concerned look. Wang Que’s complexion wasn’t very good, but she smiled and said, “I probably know where we can go down.”
Under Wang Que’s guidance, they walked along the canyon for about five to six hundred meters and finally saw a small piece of slightly protruding rock behind a huge boulder. After stepping on it, they could see a very well hidden path that adhered closely to the inner canyon wall as it slanted downward toward the bottom.
The group lined up carefully one after another. Dong Zheng took the lead, while Cui Zuojing took the rear. The sky was getting darker. They needed to speed up their pace, but they also couldn’t be too anxious in this kind of terrain.
The one who had the easiest time walking down was probably Victor. As a “small” cat with excellent balance, he trotted ahead of Dong Zheng to explore the path for everyone.
As they got halfway down, Dong Zheng suddenly heard rushing wind. He looked up and saw that the giant bird had returned at some point in time.
It started from the north and patrolled the four corners of the island, but instead of directly going back to the temple, it came north again.
“Go go go!”
Dong Zheng shouted. No matter how difficult the path under his feet was, he immediately ran down. The canyon was not particularly narrow. If the bird wanted to, it could fly sideways and immediately meet them.
When that happens, minor injuries would be the least of their worries.
They were less than 20 meters from the bottom of the canyon. The trail’s slope at about 40 degrees angle, which was very steep. Dong Zheng reached out with his arms, grabbing the rocks nearby and trying to control his balance as he rushed down.
This wasn’t a straight path. He ended up turning too fast and was about to hit the large, protruding stone on the cliff in front. He could only move his arms in front of him and used the force of the collision to fly around the stone.
Behind him, Dong Linhai also successfully bypassed the stone in a thrilling manner.
As the tallest person, Allen could visually inspect the width of the trail at the bottom. Knowing that he might not be able to pass it quickly and that he might even block his companions behind him, he gritted his teeth and concentrated all his strength on his legs. Mobilizing his ability with his best effort, he jumped up and yelled in a heartrending shout, “Victor, help me!”
His ability increased his speed to 50 steps in an instant, and his whole body flew into the air. Victor heard his call at this moment. By then, he was nearly at the bottom of the valley. A purple glow flashed over his body, and his small figure suddenly swelled into a beast. Huge white wings emerged from his back, and he shot straight up!
Allen sailed across the air in a parabolic motion. Victor timed it just right and flew into his path. The moment Allen passed by him, his sharp talons extended and he closed them over the back of Allen’s clothes.
The white tiger with a wingspan of nearly three meters spread its wings flat and became the best gliding device. After gliding for about a hundred meter with Allen, Victor’s figure began to shake unsteadily. His wings disappeared, and the little white cat returned, nearly fainted.
Allen hugged Victor in his arms, rolled to ease the momentum of his landing, and immediately sought shelter.
It was a pity that Allen took such a risk to make way for Lin Hangzhi and Wang Que, but it was ultimately wasted effort.
The second he flew away, Lin Hangzhi was unlucky enough to step on a rock. He immediately slipped, fell face down, and rolled on the ground.
Wang Que didn’t have enough time to stop herself . She tripped over him, her body tilted, and she fell into the air!
She was still 11 to 12 meters above ground level, which was equivalent to four stories.
Wang Que’s pupils dilated in an instant. She felt as if she’d suddenly returned to seven months ago. On the rooftop that evening, she was terrified and desperately stretched out her hand—
But this time, someone grabbed her hand and held on tightly.
Cui Zuojing stabbed the Tang Sword into the canyon wall with one hand, while the other hand held onto Wang Que’s wrist tightly. Lin Hangzhi’s entire body had already rolled down the narrow path. It was unknown how many injuries he’d suffered, but the Dong brothers were busy trying to pull him up to his feet.
At that moment, the giant bird reached the top of the canyon. The whirlwind caused by its wings made Wang Que feel as if she couldn’t keep her eyes open at all. But, she still stared at the hand that caught her when she was about to fall.
If only that day…
The giant bird saw their figures on the canyon wall. It screamed angrily, the sound nearly piercing their eardrums. Then, it leaned its body sideways, with its massive wings slanted parallel to the canyon walls. It wanted to crush these tiny humans flat.
The feathers on its wings were hard, and Cui Zuojing had no doubt that under that rapid speed, it could slice people into pieces. He immediately pulled the sword out and jumped down into the valley with Wang Que!
The Tang Sword fiercely cut through the canyon wall, easing the momentum of their fall. Broken rocks shot out and pelted them. When they were about four meters away from the ground, Cui Zuojing released Wang Que, who directly fell all the way down to the ground. In the next moment, the giant bird’s wing grazed the youth!
Wang Que couldn’t find a good landing posture. Her internal organs were injured from the fall, and even though she couldn’t stop shaking, she still shouted hysterically.
But, when the giant wing passed by, there was no one on the canyon wall except for the Tang Sword, and there was no blood.
The grass symbol on the back of Dong Zheng’s hand flashed and had yet to dissipate.
In the moment when Cui Zuojing was about to be hit by the wing, Dong Zheng summoned him back into the prisoner’s space.
Dong Zheng pressed his right hand on the back of his left hand, breathing uncontrollably, as if he was short of breath. During that time, he only had 0.01 second to react. The moment he drew the symbol, he also heard Cui Zuojing’s call through the prisoner link.
The intact Cui Zuojing was once again released. As Dong Linhai rushed over with the Stitched-Heart Bear to check on Wang Que, Cui Zuojing stood without moving, his heart still beating wildly in his chest.
The adrenaline rush made his fingertips numb. He and Dong Zheng looked at each other, and he saw that the worry and relief still hadn’t disappeared from the man’s eyes.
It turned out that they’d already cultivated so much tacit understanding.
Xixi: The author decided to do a 2-in-1 chapter so this chapter is 10 pages long. The next chapter will also be a 2-in-1.