Chapter 377 Too tough to die
The Zong Consortium would not wish for any trade routes to open here, of course. After all, the terrain surrounding the Zong Consortium was really barren. This had always been an important factor that limited their development. It was also because of this that the Zong Consortium was always seeking to expand their territory.
If the trade routes were opened, countless merchants would arrive in the Northwest, and Stronghold 178 would become stronger and stronger. As the saying went, two tigers couldn’t share the same mountain. Even if Stronghold 178 had no intention of expanding, wouldn’t the Zong Consortium be afraid by just being around Stronghold 178?
Of course, the Zong Consortium could still continue supporting new bandits to control the valley like they had been doing. But in the past, Stronghold 178 did not have Zhang Jinglin around. And the stand-in commander did not want to manage affairs that were beyond the stronghold.
But things were different now. Zhang Jinglin had returned!
The higher-ups of the Zong Consortium could still remember how powerful Stronghold 178 was over a decade ago. They had been building up their power over the years, but if Stronghold 178 were allowed to return to their former glory, the Zong Consortium would very likely be doomed.
This was why the Zong Consortium was not taking advantage of the situation even though the Qing Consortium and the Yang Consortium were currently embroiled in a fierce war. On one hand, Qing Zhen had cut off the Zong Consortium’s shortcut to the south. On the other hand, the Zong Consortium was still wary of Stronghold 178 and did not dare to make any unusual moves.
At night, Zhou Yinglong led them to a downwind spot to set up camp. It seemed that Zhou Yinglong came out to the wilderness very often, as he looked very familiar with everything he was doing out here.
After applying the black medicine, Ren Xiaosu’s wound did not feel so painful anymore. However, he still pretended like he had trouble moving around.
When he got out of the vehicle slowly to move about, Wang Shengyin even came over specifically to help him. Ren Xiaosu rejected it and expressed that he could handle himself if he moved slowly.
Wang Shengyin did not seem bothered by the blood on his body.
Ren Xiaosu found a mound and sat down. Suddenly, someone said, “I heard that many of the strongholds in the Southwest have been destroyed. I wonder what happened there. The strongholds in the Central Plains are still doing well.”
Zhou Yinglong chuckled. “Let me share something with you guys about a good brother of mine called Xu Xianchu. All the strongholds he’s been to, other than our Stronghold 178, have collapsed! At first, everyone thought he was a jinx, but when Stronghold 178 still remained standing, we didn’t think any further about it. But when he went to Stronghold 88 recently, Stronghold 88 also got destroyed….”
Wang Shengzhi laughed and said, “Did nothing happen to him?”
“What can possibly happen to him? He always leaves before the collapse of the strongholds, so he’s basically unaffected.” Zhou Yinglong chuckled and said, “Brother Xu Xianchu is too tough to die. He’ll be fine even if the strongholds get destroyed.”
“He must be the chosen one then.” Wang Shengzhi said, “Can you introduce him to us when we get to the stronghold?”
“Haha, of course!” Zhou Yinglong said, “But Old Xu wouldn’t admit to this himself. He said that there’s someone who’s even tougher than him. He always leaves before the stronghold collapses, so he’s unaffected. But that close brother of his has never managed to escape on time, yet he’s still fine….”
When Ren Xiaosu heard this, he immediately knew who Zhou Yinglong was referring to. He recalled the strongholds he had been to had all collapsed. Even the Yang Consortium’s Stronghold 88 was not spared.
But the collapse of these strongholds should not have anything to do with him, right?
The first few that were destroyed were either caused by the earthquake or due to Li Shentan’s revenge and the Experimentals’ invasions. Even Stronghold 88—it was destroyed because Qing Zhen wanted to rescue Luo Lan.
It really had nothing to do with him!
Wang Shengzhi was even more intrigued after hearing what Zhou Yinglong said. “If I can meet this ‘chosen one’ you mentioned, I’m sure it will be very interesting.”
Zhou Yinglong carried a box of wine out of the vehicle and asked, “Do you guys drink? This Qiang wine was brewed with excellent barley grains and water from snow mountain streams. It’s a little sweet!”
The others shook their heads. Only Wang Shengzhi said, “I can drink with you, but does Stronghold 178 allow drinking in their military?”
Zhou Yinglong remarked, “At our place, we’re allowed to drink during our winter break. Without alcohol to warm our bodies, it’s impossible to function.”
“But it’s almost summer now,” Wang Shengzhi said.
Zhou Yinglong thought for a moment. “It’ll be fine if you don’t tell the commander. I’ve been saving this wine since winter.”
“But there shouldn’t be many grain producers around Stronghold 178, right? Where did your barley come from?” Wang Shengyin asked.
Zhou Yinglong stopped talking. This seemed to be a very important secret.
Ren Xiaosu also realized there was something secretive about Stronghold 178 as well. There were no barley fields in the vicinity of Stronghold 178. If it were really as the outside world had said, Stronghold 178’s people tended not to leave the stronghold under ordinary circumstances. In that case, why would Zhou Yinglong know so much about the refugee settlements in the valley? And how did the barley get transported to Stronghold 178?
Zhou Yinglong changed the topic. “Did you come from the Central Plains with plans to do business with Commander Zhang? Does the alcohol in the Central Plains taste good?”
“Of course, grain production is teeming in the Central Plains. We produce tea and textiles as well.” Wang Shengzhi said in his wheelchair with a smile, “But what Commander Zhang is after most are not these, but medicine.”
When he heard the words “medicine,” Zhou Yinglong’s eyes lit up. The people in the military knew exactly what Stronghold 178 lacked the most.
What outsiders did not know was that even though Stronghold 178 lacked grainstuffs(2), they did not lack for meat. So they definitely would not starve to death.
As for medicine, that was precious. Medicine determined the survival rate after any battles they participated in.
Realization dawned on Ren Xiaosu. It was no wonder Zhang Jinglin wanted to open up the trade routes so badly. And the Zong Consortium had probably guessed the significance of these actions.
When he listened in on Zhang Jinglin’s classes, Mr. Zhang would say that the ancient Silk Road was very important. Of course, times were different now, so the goods traded on the Silk Road would definitely be different as well. At that time, Ren Xiaosu could not understand why Zhang Jinglin had suddenly brought up this subject. But now it seemed like Zhang Jinglin had been thinking about it for a very long time.
Wang Shengzhi stopped after taking two sips of the wine. Then Wang Shengyin helped him cover his knee with a blanket.
“You can’t hold your liquor,” Zhou Yinglong muttered. All of a sudden, he looked at Ren Xiaosu and asked, “Do you drink?”
Ren Xiaosu shook his head. “No, I’m still injured.”
Zhou Yinglong thought for a moment. “Since alcohol is an anti-inflammatory, your wounds won’t get inflamed after drinking some. Don’t you think I make sense?”
Next to them, Wang Shengyin said angrily, “What kind of crappy theory is that? After an injury, the immune system will deal with the damage and fight infection. If you drink alcohol, you’ll numb the immune system. When that happens, you can just wait for your death!”
Zhou Yinglong opened his mouth but was unable to refute Wang Shengyin due to his limited knowledge. In the end, he could only mutter to Ren Xiaosu, “Don’t listen to her. She might not be right either. Have you heard about how Guan Yu scraped poison off his bones? Even the Martial Saint drank alcohol after being wounded….”
Ren Xiaosu shook his head helplessly. It was not that he was afraid that drinking would affect his injuries, but that he did not want to lose consciousness and rationality among this unfamiliar crowd and environment.
Zhou Yinglong mumbled, “How boring.”
Right at this moment, Ren Xiaosu suddenly heard the sound of a vehicle passing through the wilderness in the distance. Zhou Yinglong put down the bottle and sneered, “The Zong Consortium has grown too bold!”
“Do you think the Zong Consortium has ordered their people to attack us?” Wang Shengzhi looked at Zhou Yinglong. “Does the Zong Consortium dare to attack people from Stronghold 178?”
“In recent years, the Zong Consortium has been developing at a rapid pace. They probably found some backing or something.” Zhou Yinglong sneered.
 Qiāng # is the name of a people living in the western region of China, particularly the Hexi Corridor. | http://www.chinaknowledge.de/History Altera/qiang.html
(2) Previously in Chapter 333, it was mistakenly translated that Stronghold 178’s grain reserves were ranked first in the entire stronghold system. That is untrue and only their mineral reserves are ranked first.