The escapees and the Qing Consortium’s combat brigade eventually reached a standoff. The escapees had no intention of attacking the combat brigade; they just couldn’t accept the situation.
Everyone initially ran over in enthusiasm to seek “refuge” with the troops, but they backed off when the guns were pointed at them.
In reality, Ren Xiaosu felt there was nothing wrong with the actions the Qing Consortium took. If it were him, he would have done the same.
But the escapees felt that even though they could not get near the Qing Consortium, it would be good enough to follow them. So they decided to rest on the spot. When the Qing Consortium set off, they would quietly follow them.
At the very least, the Qing Consortium would know how to get to Stronghold 109, right?!
Besides, now that there was clearly no more space in the Qing Consortium’s vehicles, the majority of those from the Qing Consortium had to travel on foot. As such, the escapees were not worried they would get shaken off by them.
“Xiaosu, will there be any danger if we stick so close to the Qing Consortium?” Wang Fugui asked in worry. After all, Ren Xiaosu had killed several of their people who were keeping watch at the school when the earthquake struck.
“It should be fine.” Ren Xiaosu stole a glance at the Qing Consortium.
Currently, the Qing Consortium and the escapees were separated by an open area. It seemed like the Qing Consortium’s people did not intend to make any contact with them.
It was better this way since the Qing Consortium would not know Ren Xiaosu was here.
“Y’all can stay here without worries.” Ren Xiaosu cautiously reminded them, “If the situation does not seem right, we’ll escape into the wilderness. Based on the current situation, it’s better to stay with everyone else for the time being. I’m a little worried the wolves will try to pick off vulnerable targets if we get separated from the group.”
The wolves did not dare to attack a group numbering several thousand people, but it would be hard to say what they’d do if Ren Xiaosu and company dropped out of the group.
Actually, Luo Lan was not thinking about capturing Ren Xiaosu at all costs.
When Qing Zhen was about to call him on the satellite phone and issue an arrest on Ren Xiaosu, the volcanic cloud happened to block out the signal. By the time Qing Zhen reached a spot where there was a signal, Stronghold 113 had already been destroyed. In his haste, Luo Lan did not take his satellite phone with him while making his escape. So they two of them couldn’t contact each other.
“Sure, whatever you say.” Wang Fugui nodded.
Ren Xiaosu went to gather for firewood as usual to start a fire and even brought Chen Wudi along with him. It was not that he wanted to order Chen Wudi around, but that he wanted to guard against him in case he really had other motives for joining their group.
In their group, only Ren Xiaosu could keep Chen Wudi in check. So it was better to keep him by his side. It was definitely a little tiring to keep guarding against someone, but Ren Xiaosu felt there was nothing wrong with being extra cautious. As they still had a long journey ahead, Ren Xiaosu would accept Chen Wudi if he later proved to have no other motives.
On their way to gather firewood, Ren Xiaosu found that the escapees had wisened up. They knew it would be very difficult to get to Stronghold 109 if they did not have a campfire to keep themselves warm. As such, a lot of people went to gather firewood and even shamelessly borrowed other people’s fire to start their own.
It was quite a spectacular sight seeing several thousand people gathering firewood together. Ren Xiaosu lamented he might have been too late in going out to collect the firewood. He mainly had not expected such a situation to occur. As he was late by a few minutes, Ren Xiaosu could not find any firewood even after walking around for a long time.
Beside him, Chen Wudi asked, “Master, didn’t you say that the Western Paradise was just ahead of us this morning? Why aren’t we there yet even after walking for a day?”
Ren Xiaosu was speechless. He thought for a while and said, “The Western Paradise… has shifted elsewhere….”
Chen Wudi said unhappily, “Master, do you think I’m dumb?”
Ren Xiaosu gave a mental sigh. Indeed, even a fool would not get deceived by such an answer.
“Wudi.” Ren Xiaosu earnestly tried to change the subject. “Do you have any other wishes besides accompanying me to obtain the Buddhist scriptures in the Western Paradise?”
Ren Xiaosu was thinking of chatting with Chen Wudi for a while longer. After all, loose lips sank ships. As long as Chen Wudi’s thoughts were impure, he would reveal something if he spoke enough.
But he realized Chen Wudi was behaving awkwardly. “Yeah, I have another wish.”
“What is it?” Ren Xiaosu asked.
“I’m looking for a girl named Zixia.” Chen Wudi said in a serious tone, “I have two things that I must complete in this reincarnation of mine. One is to escort Master to obtain the scriptures, and the other is to find Zixia 1 !”
Ren Xiaosu turned to his side and stared blankly at Chen Wudi. Which version of Journey to the West did you read?
Even though he carefully recalled all the versions of Journey to the West he had read, he could not remember any woman named Zixia.
Suddenly, Jiang Wu came walking over from the opposite direction. She and her students were carrying a lot of firewood in their arms.
When Jiang Wu saw Ren Xiaosu, her eyes lit up. “You guys don’t have to collect any firewood. We’ve already helped you gather plenty.”
Strength in numbers, as they said. With Jiang Wu leading 28 students to collect the firewood, it was much faster than if Ren Xiaosu had collected it alone. Not only that, Ren Xiaosu estimated that the firewood they were carrying should be enough for four or five campfires.
Ren Xiaosu did not reject her and nodded. It was a good thing she intended to return the favor, and he did not mind her kind gesture.
He saw several female students looking at Chen Wudi in embarrassment. They walked over hesitantly and said to him, “You’re so handsome.”
Chen Wudi was stunned before replying, “Thank you, female almsgivers.”
The words “female almsgivers” were like buckets of cold water that immediately extinguished any romantic thoughts the young women had.
Ren Xiaosu ignored them as he walked to the front. He shouted as he walked, “Come, come, I’ve discovered some good things!”
Sometimes, nature is very generous in gifting. As long as you have a good pair of “seeking” eyes, you would definitely not starve to death.
Just as Ren Xiaosu was about to turn around, he suddenly saw that something was off about the patch of wild grass in front of him. Taking a closer look, he realized it was a sweet potato field!
He did not know how long this sweet potato field had been growing in the wilderness. Furthermore, this was the season sweet potatoes were the most delicious!
Ren Xiaosu turned around and said to Jiang Wu, “What are you still standing around for? Have your students start digging!”
“Oh, OK.” Jiang Wu reacted immediately as she beckoned her students to start digging. Honestly, if not for Ren Xiaosu, she would not know there were so many sweet potatoes growing underground.
They had to hurry before the other escapees found out. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be many sweet potatoes left for them.
There were simply too many escapees.
As Jiang Wu dug for the sweet potatoes with her students, she constantly stole glances at Ren Xiaosu. This young man was always full of surprises, which gradually turned into a strange kind of dependence for her. Jiang Wu felt that as long as they followed Ren Xiaosu, they would make it to Stronghold 109 alive.
Within a minute, all of the other escapees rushed over once they learned of the situation here.
No one dared to vie with Ren Xiaosu for the sweet potatoes. But as the field was huge, there were still many other spots for them to dig.
Ren Xiaosu did not care about the others. He and Chen Wudi dug up more than 30 sweet potatoes before they finally stopped. These sweet potatoes were shockingly large, so they wouldn’t have to worry about their provisions for the next few days at least.
When he got up from the ground and looked around him, he was shocked to see that the entire sweet potato field had almost been stripped bare by the escapees.
Even a locust swarm was not that terrifying….