Right before, Locke saw the clouds on the top of the hill and the abyss below it. He also saw the cold gaze of the man in blood-red armour.
The next moment, Locke saw the trees jutting out from the cliff. However, he was descending too fast to hold onto them and could only regretfully leave his outstretched hand there. Although he couldn't open his eyes due to the strong wind, Locke still steadily looked down, bracing for his death. A dark-green lake? Before Locke's brain could react, he slammed into it and lost consciousness.
Time passed and Locke seemed to have entered a realm of darkness. He couldn't remember how he arrived there and even forgot who he was. Locke walked, ran, and looked around, like a living puppet without its own thoughts. He was mechanically doing things that he himself didn't even understand.
Perhaps this is how I'll spend the rest of my life? the numbed Locke thought. That was followed by a sense of pain, which immediately sobered him up. It began to hurt more and more. Finally, an opening towards the sky appeared above him, letting light come through.
The first thing he saw when he woke up was a huge yet vague claw. After shaking his head to make himself more awake, a strange-looking, protruding grey creature with eight legs walked sideways and stood in front of his nose. It used its large claw to clamp onto Locke's arm. After regaining full consciousness, Locke finally knew where the pain was coming from.
This strange-looking critter was not big, being only the size of a palm, but its strength was not small either. It managed to break the skin on Locke's arm, causing him to have yet another wound. Locke was now in a very poor condition. From head to toe, there wasn't a single spot that looked good. There were scratches and bruises everywhere, and he even had a heavy chest.
Locke used his right hand and pulled off the strange creature that was tightly clamped onto his left arm. The moment those forceps left his arm, some blood spouted from it.
"What the heck?!" Locke cursed. With his right hand, he grabbed the creature tightly and threw it harshly against a rock beside him.
Apparently, the creature had a hard shell. After colliding with the sharp edges of the stones, only a scratch mark appeared on the shell of the strange creature.
As he saw that this guy continued to spread his teeth and claws, Locke smashed it against the ground an unknown number of times, causing the shell of the strange creature to finally break. White flesh and yellow slurry flowed out of its body. Locke looked at its open claws and saw that there was finally no movement. He threw it on the ground beside him.
Finally, Locke came back to his senses and looked around. This was a small, dark-green lake, surrounded by pale white sand. Aside from the thing that Locke had just killed, there were no other living things here. Right above the pool was a cliff, which was so tall that it seemed endless. The other direction was a dense forest, and it seemed rather serene.
Who am I? Locke? Yes, my name is Locke. Why am I here? The man in blood-red armour, the broken-armed Karl, the blood-red leather-armored soldiers who had been stabbed through the throat, the dead Dale and Clarion, the escaped Solon, and finally the cliff... All these scenes replayed in Locke's mind, and he finally remembered everything.
Violently pummeling the strange creature made Locke exhausted. His body was sore all over and it was unbearable. He took a look at his condition. There were countless wounds all over his body, with blood stains all over his battered body, making him look quite harrowing. The most serious wound was on his chest. It was probably because he directly smashed into the pool when he fell, his chest taking most of the impact. The feeling of breathlessness made the sore and unbearable Locke even more uncomfortable, as if he was about to die immediately.
His body armour had fallen apart, leaving only a few pieces of iron still hanging off him. Locke's longsword was no longer at his waist. He had no idea where it had fallen to. His clothes and trousers were torn up to varying degrees. They looked like a pile of cloth strips hanging on Locke.
Locke tried to get up and before he could stand firm, severe pain coursed through his whole body. He almost flipped around again as blood slowly oozed out of the wounds.
Even if I'm still alive now, I probably won't be able to live much longer.
In the corner of Locke's eyes, a white figure surfaced on the lake not far away. Locke turned his head and looked. He noticed that it was the princess that he had forgotten about. The white figure on the lake was Angelina. She was now floating on the lake quietly.
Locke's first reaction as a commoner and low-level officer was to save her. This was the princess, the daughter of their great Faustian king.
Since his childhood, Locke had always gone fishing and catching shrimp in the river by the village. He was quite capable in water. Dragging his tired and sore body, Locke jumped into the water with a plop and swam towards Angelina.
What kind of water is this? he wondered. Initially he could endure the pain in his body. Despite that, as soon as he entered the water, all kinds of irritation and soreness spread from his wounds. It was like salt being scattered over his wounds and he almost fainted. Some water entered Locke's mouth during the swim, and Locke finally knew why. The water in this lake was salt water.
After swimming near to Angelina, Locke grabbed her with one hand, flopping desperately with the other, and swam towards the shore.
Finally on the shore once more, Locke dragged Angelina to one side. As if his body was about to fall apart, he immediately sat onto the ground, panting deeply.
It should be noon at this time. The sun shone on Locke's face through the gap between the trees. Locke licked his shriveled lips. He was thirsty and famished, and he had just drunk a mouthful of salty lake water. This made Locke's throat very uncomfortable, as if there was a piece of metal stuck in it.
Looking around, he saw no living things at all, nothing to fill his stomach with. Locke fell on his back, spread his limbs, and readied himself to welcome his death. There was no water or food in this place, and he was wounded all over, without a trace of strength left. This was clearly a desperate and hopeless situation.
Locke was feeling rather calm, because he felt that he should have been dead long ago. He should have died when he jumped off the cliff. The sun shone on Locke's face through foliage of the woods onto his indifferent expression.
Wait a minute! Locke seemed to remember something. He sat up and looked at the strange creature he had just killed. The broken carapace and the yellow pulp between the white flesh seemed so tempting in Locke's eyes.
Locke struggled to stand up, hobbled over, grabbed the body of the strange grey-white creature, and walked back. After sitting down next to Angelina, Locke licked his lips. He couldn't wait to get his mouth on this carapace in his hand. First, he lightly took a bite of the white meat, which was smooth and tender. Then, he licked the yellow juice around the carapace. The taste was a bit astringent, but Locke wasn't bothered by it at all. Even this astringent yellow juice could now give Locke a feeling that he was drinking from the sweet springs. The palm-sized piece of meat made him feel as if he were eating a luxurious meal.
As for whether this thing could be eaten, or whether it was poisonous, it no longer mattered. Through his years as a soldier, he had eaten almost everything. Even centipedes and spiders were roasted and consumed. He had some experience and knowledge in eating such critters.
The flesh and liquid of strange creature was very limited. Locke had already eaten half of it in just two bites. Just as he was about to finish up the remaining part, Locke was reminded of the unconscious Angelina.
She seems to be a princess, Locke thought. The chances of surviving in this place was unknown. Why should I bother so much? The moment that thought came, Locke hesitated whether to share the little food he had with her.
Angelina was lying quietly next to Locke. After being cleansed by the lake water, Angelina's beautiful face was revealed to Locke. Her clothes were drenched in water, revealing her well-proportioned figure. She seemed like a quiet angel.
Locke frowned, knitting his eyebrows. Still, he placed the remaining food in his hand near to Angelina's mouth. His heart softened too.
Since Angelina was still out cold, the feeding process was very difficult. A lot of meat was stuck between Angelina's teeth and wasn't swallowed by her. Fortunately, there was still some juice. Angelina, who was in a coma seemed to know how important it was to get nourishment, and her body naturally drank the yellow juice from the strange creature. Even the white meat in her mouth was swallowed altogether.
As for whether the yellow syrup was the brain matter or blood of this creature, Locke didn't care. Angelina certainly didn't know either. She might have been too thirsty after drinking the juice. After drinking, her tongue stuck out and curled around Locke's fingers, sucking the remaining water on Locke's fingers into her mouth, much to his embarrassment.
Locke's face became flushed red. He hurriedly took his finger out of Angelina's mouth. The pop it made as it came out made Locke's heart sway.
After brushing away the messy thoughts in his heart, Locke threw away the carapace in his hand. Locke was not a picky eater, so he swallowed everything including the cartilage and internal organs, all except for the hard shell. If it wasn't because Locke's strength hadn't recovered enough to pry open the claws, he would open it up to see if there was anything in it.
After a short break, Locke finally regained a trace of strength. Since I'm not dead yet, I have to fight to survive, Locke thought. This place couldn't possibly only have one strange creature. This thing had many legs, so it would likely prefer to live in a dark and humid place, like centipedes and spiders.
Locke stood up and walked to the stone closest to him. Everywhere near him was nothing but sand. There was no dark place at all. His gut feeling told him that the stone was hiding a fine surprise.