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Cultivating Civilization Chapter 116
"How far is the wilderness from here?" Jack asked while he stood near the top of a tall mountain and looked towards the west. A land of barren mountains and valleys stretched out in front of him.
Tong Huakun looked in the same direction. She took a moment to remember the foreign word and said "A manth at our speed, a lot more if you have to move a Tribe." She looked back towards the south-east and added "The weak don't make it."
He watched her expression from the corner of his eye and asked "Do your people know why this side floods so much while the other doesn't?"
She shook her head and said "No one knows. Some believe it's a curse our ancestors received for doing wicked deeds, while others think that it's a way that the White River family keeps us in check. A lot of people have tried to investigate the source of the River, but no one came back."
Jack turned to look at her and asked "What do you think?"
Sad eyes met curious ones before she answered "Both? Neither? Sometimes I think we must have done something wrong to deserve all this suffering, other times I blame our ancestors for settling here."
She tilted her head to the side and said "It must have been wonderful to grow up in a land where food just grows from the ground. Why would anyone leave such a place?"
Jack snorted and declared "Yes, the land is wonderful. The people in charge? Not so much."
She nodded her head as he just confirmed one of her suspicions. A second later she chuckled and said "We're both stuck here it seems."
Jack's eyes turned sharp and he added "For now."
They broke eye-contact and brought their short rest to an end before continuing their long hunt.
On the fifty-second day since their departure, the two hunters stood on the slopes of a mountain with a view of the slumbering Haechi Tribe.
They had bags under their eyes, and their skin and clothes matched the color of the ground.
Jack had the left sleeve of his coat ripped up to his elbow, and a healing white scar still lingered on his forearm.
Tong Huakun's Haechi leather jerkin had a hoof print on her lower abdomen.
She touched the spot and hissed "You're a bastard for making me run so much with this injury. At the very least you should have taught me the healing technique that you taught some of the others."
He formed a Farsight spell to check on the state of the Immortals' Lament while he said "You need to learn how to control your spirit energy better. I can't believe you reached grade six cultivation with such poor control. If I taught the Beast Recovery Method to you right now, you'd more likely blow up your organs than heal them."
They both knew that he left the fact that he wouldn't teach her any of his spells and techniques before she proved her loyalty to the company unsaid.
She sniffed and looked down at her dirty leathers and skin before she complained "I still don't understand why you couldn't have purified some white water so we could wash all this dirt off. It's not like we'd be drinking it."
He narrowed his eyes and focused on a figure darting across the quiet camp. It looked like it used some kind of movement technique due to its speed, but after it entered a house he relaxed.
Spirit energy stopped flowing into the spell's structure and it fell apart while he said "I told you not to touch that stuff for now. We have more than enough water for cleaning ourselves back in the camp."
He glanced at her, added "Everything looks normal. Let's go.", and charged towards the Haechi Tribe.
The sentries spotted them without issue since they didn't try to hide. One went running back towards the camp, while another approached them.
Jack smiled and said "Kuotian! You're a sight for sore eyes. How were things while we were gone?"
Xian Kuotian stopped in front of the duo, straightened his back, and slammed his right fist against his chest.
He fell into a more relaxed pose after that little stunt and answered "Ruiman broke through to grade five, while those two lazy dogs finally reached grade four. Other than that, the guys lost their shooting competition for the first time."
A hint of annoyance flashed in his eyes, but he set it aside and continued "Several of the rookies broke through, but we didn't let them get too full of themselves and showed them that they're just a bit larger bugs now."
Jack's brows rose and he said "I'm glad about the breakthroughs, and the loss in the competition isn't good, but why did you greet us like that?"
Xian Kuotian glanced at Tong Huakun and looked back at Jack before he questioned "Did I do something wrong? We asked Tong Huakun to show us the correct way to do it. The guys wanted to make up our way of greeting people, but in the end, we decided on the Tribal way because it looked fierce."
Jack looked at Tong Huakun from the corner of his eye and saw her give him a nod.
He sighed and said "It's not that you did something wrong, but you should have asked me. We already have a way to greet people; I just didn't want to force something you didn't like on the company."
Xian Kuotian's eyes widened and he asked "We do? Can you show me?"
Jack studied the excited face of his friend and gave him a reluctant nod. He lied when he said that he didn't want to force the company. In truth, he didn't want to force himself into the role that adding formal greetings would eventually bring to any group.
'Well, if I'm gonna do it, better do it right.' He thought as he straightened his back and shoulders. While he looked straight ahead, he raised his right hand to his brow, while his left hand remained clenched in a fist by his side.
He held the pose for a few seconds and executed his past life's military salute.
When he looked back at Xian Kuotian's gleaming eyes he asked "Do I need to repeat it?"
The teen shook his head and said "No need, I'll remember." A second later he executed a salute of his own to demonstrate.
Jack felt his old Drill Instructor roll in his grave, but he let the feeling pass and suggested "Try to work on it."
With that, he slapped Xian Kuotian on the shoulder and proceeded into the camp proper.
The other guard, a grade two rookie with a black eye, brought Shi Furui to meet them.
He let out a sigh of relief when he saw them and arranged clean water for the duo to wash the dirt off.
Jack allowed Tong Huakun to go into his lab to clean herself, while he washed in his house.
"Tell me what really happened while I was gone. Kuotian already told me about the breakthroughs and the match, what else?" he switched to English and said to his two friends while he scrubbed the filth from his body.
The two exchanged glances, and Kuang Bindun asked "You're not mad about the spirit stones?"
Jack gave him a confused look and questioned in return "Why would I be mad when the five of you are going to pay for it? You didn't think that I would use the company's funds to gamble?"
Kuang Bindun started complaining "But the wager was" He stopped when he saw Jack's gaze harden.
"You had all the opportunities and time to outshoot those golden-robed pansies. It's not my fault that they focused on their training while you rested on your success." Jack said and watched as the water draining from his head turned gray.
He took a knife from his Star Bag and started cutting his hair back into a military cut.
Sounds of a knife scraping along his head resounded in the room for a minute before Shi Furui declared "Ruiman got girl pregnant."
Jack looked up from the basin of water and made a shallow cut on the side of his head. He ignored it as he stared at his two friends with wide eyes.
"A Haechi Tribe girl?" he asked while a glimmer of hope still lingered in his chest.
Shi Furui snuffed it out when he shook his head and said "No, White River family. She played Poker while you went hunting."
Jack threw his knife down into the water-basin and exclaimed "S*it!"
He stood up and paced around the room for a while before he stopped and asked "Do the rest of them know?"
Shi Furui shook his head again and answered "No, but she cannot hide for long. We waited for you before deciding what to do."
Jack sighed out of relief and asked "What does Ruiman want to do?"
Kuang Bindun jumped in with "He would like to be there for the child, but he doesn't want to go to the White River Outpost like Yuan Zhenya, that's the girl's name, wants him to."
Jack noticed that his friend left unsaid if Ma Ruiman would listen to an order to let the woman and child go. He would only give that order as a last resort, but he knew deep down that he would refuse it himself.
When his son was born he would lay in his bed deep into the night and wonder if he would let his entire platoon die in order to save the little boy. He never could come to a final conclusion.
Kuang Bindun and Shi Furui saw that Jack got stuck in an internal struggle and gave him time to settle it.
In the end, Jack sighed and sat back down in front of the water-basin. He fished out his knife from the dirty water and declared "I'll talk to Ruiman and the girl first thing tomorrow morning."
When he finished cutting his hair, he asked "Anything else?"
The two exchanged glances and Shi Furui answered "Bei Kangping asked when you come back few times, Wu Angrui asked about hides, and Chief wants us to escort caravan again after you return."
Jack started washing the dirt off of his coat and said "I'll deal with them too. Just get the guys ready for another escort mission in a few days."
The two young men nodded their heads and waited for him to finish washing his clothes.
Tong Huakun finished cleaning herself before he did and brought the empty water-basin back to him. They said their goodbyes and Jack reminded her to visit Bei Kangping in the morning.
'Out of the two people I sent to spy on them, the one I hoped would get pregnant doesn't, while the one I didn't even worry about knocked one of them up.' Jack mused as he lay down in his leathers.
"Don't wake me up until Ruiman brings the girl into the camp." He ordered his two friends and fell into a deep sleep soon after.
Here's the second chapter of the day. Sorry for the delay, WN was down for a while.
Jack comes back to the company and finds out some shocking news. Hope you like it!
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