Locke held a sharp stone he just used to kill the critter and walked to the rocks nearby. His body hadn't recovered yet, but it was going to take a lot more to stop him from getting up and walking, even after the fall. He needed to have a weapon in hand. The critter had an abnormal claw that left a deep wound on his arm.
The only thing he had found worthy of being used as a weapon was the small, sharp stone that he had just used to dispatch the critter with. Actually, Locke did have another weapon on him: the dagger hidden in his boots, but he wasn't going to use it. The carapace of that strange creature was so hard that he wasn't confident his precious dagger would survive.
The rocks did not disappoint him. As soon as Locke turned one over, he saw two critters stacked on each other and spitting out grey bubbles. The critters casually retreated into the shade of the rock, and was startled by Locke's sudden appearance and the brightness of the sun. Its eight legs kicked in a hurry as it raised its pincers towards Locke.
Now wiser after his previous encounter, Locke avoided the claws, took the stone in his hand and smashed it down. After a few hits, the two critters clung to each other and turned into meatloaves.
Locke panted and sat down, reaching out to the two critters. Ignoring his nausea, he ate with his fingers. What he ate earlier was nowhere near filling. These two were just what he needed.
The feeling of eating raw food was bad, but Locke continued to wolf it down. This creature was unlike other bugs that had a sour or unpleasant smell. Other than a slightly astringent taste, Locke found it rather tolerable. This was much more delicious than the brown bread he had in the battalion. He suddenly had an epiphany: he couldn't tell if the thing really tasted delicious, or if his ravenous hunger was spicing the meal up.
After having two or three bites, Locke collected the inedible shells, claws, and eight legs. Given how sturdy they were, he could probably find some utility in them. Aside from that, leaving traces of blood and food in the wild was not a great idea. This was something he ought to know, after four years of camping. Locke did not have a full grip on the current situation, so he couldn't afford to be careless. Fortunately, there wasn't much left to clean up, since Locke ate most of the meat.
Since he started practicing impetus, Locke's awareness of his body had been heightened. For example, he could clearly feel the food he'd just eaten reach his stomach. The weak impetus scattered in the body slowly gathered in the stomach to help digestion. However, this impetus was too weak for him to control; he could only feel it. Fortunately, it would develop on its own, without much work on Locke's part.
Recovering a little bit of strength, Locke glanced at the unconscious Angelina, then again at his own body. He sighed. "I have to quickly find a place to stay." The jungle was dangerous at night and Locke couldn't guarantee that no creatures would come in this place. Although his strength had recovered a little, he was still injured. In this state, even a coyote could kill him.
Locke scouted around. On the cliff was a small recessed cavern that wasn't particularly spacious, but would be sufficient for the both of them. He ventured in to make sure that there were no abnormalities, then went to find some dead branches and leaves in the surrounding forest. Although most of the trees here were evergreen, some of them had turned yellow in the late autumn. Locke easily found a bundle of what he needed.
Locke took off his armour. It was broken and useless, so there was no point keeping it on. The rubber bands that fixed it in place, the remaining iron pieces and the cloth strips were more useful on their own.
Locke stacked the dead branches together to prepare a simple fire. He had not been fooled by the evergreen plants around him. He had not forgotten that it was late autumn. If there was no fire at night, he would succumb to illness no matter how strong his physique was. In the deep forest, illness meant death; not to mention that Locke was already partially incapacitated.
There wasn't enough cloth as a cushion, so he made up for it with grass. Unfortunately, most of the grass in the woods was relatively short. It took Locke quite some time to tear enough grass for the evening. As for what he would use to cover up their bodies, he looked at the torn clothes and pants.
The sun began to set in the evening, with its rays disappearing ever so quickly thanks to the dense foliage and hills around them. The temperature was typical of the late autumn season. It was getting cold enough to the point that a little drop in the temperature would be unacceptable. Thankfully, Locke was prepared. He took a wooden stick and placed the tip of it on the dead branch he found earlier. He took out the two belts removed from the half-body armor and wrapped them around the two ends of the wooden stick. Locke grabbed one end with both hands and pulled it quickly. The wooden stick rotated at a high speed. The oil-rich dead pine branches on top quickly caught fire.
It had been some time since he last used such a primitive method of making fire, but fortunately, his skills were not rusty at all. The flames on the dead branches gradually rose and Locke hurriedly added a few sticks he picked up. The dead branches alone were not enough to fuel the fire.
Before the sun fully set, Locke went to the bank of the lake. He grabbed a few more stones and struck down four more grey creatures. He then ran back with the spoils of his hunt. This was the only food source he could find. Since he had no pot, and Locke was too lazy to set up a grill, he covered the four strange creatures in a layer of mud and threw them directly into the fire.
After finishing all this busywork, Locke went back to Angelina. He carried her over to the cave he found earlier. Calling it a cave was a bit of a stretch -- it really was just a small recession in the cliff. Regardless of what it should be called, it was enough to shelter them from the cool night breeze, and Locke was more than satisfied with that.
Angelina still hadn't woken up yet. If Angelina hadn't eaten something at noon, Locke would have doubted whether she would ever wake up. Thinking back at how Angelina sucked his finger at noon, Locke blushed and hurriedly dispelled the fantasy.
"She's a princess, she's a princess," Locke mused to himself.
Locke took off his top and checked his injuries. There were scratches all over his chest and back, probably from the fall. There were more abrasions on his arms, and one deep wound half an inch long, which was from the grey creature's claws in the morning. There were a few more cuts in his arms, most of them being scratches. That little thing sure was a feisty one, but it sure was delicious.
Because most of his wounds had already scabbed, taking off his clothes was horrendous. Many of the scabs were bound to his clothes, and a lot of them broke off when he removed his shirt. Frowning, Locke used his clothes as a rag and wiped the blood from his body. He took out one of the legs of the strange creature he had collected, drilled an eye with the tip of the dagger he hid under his boot, and passed a linen thread that Locke had removed through the eye. A simple suturing kit was made.
The incision left by the crablike creature was too deep. Locke had to sew it shut, or risk death by a tetanus infection. On the battlefield, when soldiers were injured, their cuts would be sutured. If they survived the ordeal, they would heal and recover well.
Although he had stitched countless wounds, Locke still grimaced in pain. In the end, he gave a beautiful knot to his wound. He stretched his arms; the sutures were very strong. As the aroma of cooked food came from the fire, he put away the improvised needle and thread. He got hold of a stick and stabbed the 'roast chicken' inside. Locke blew it a few times and slammed it with his fist lightly. The carapace of the strange creature was very brittle after being burnt and cracked open audibly, revealing the tender meat inside.
Locke took a hard sniff and then started wolfing it down. The flavour really reminded him of grilled chicken -- perhaps because it was prepared the same way. After eating three of them, Locke finally felt satiated. How did it only take three of these palm-sized servings to fill him up? Locke's appetite must've shrunk.
Locke took the remaining one and walked to Angelina's side. The 'roast chicken' in his hand still exuded a fragrance, but alas, it was not enticing enough to wake Angelina up. She still needed to rest before she could wake up.
Locke was in trouble. How was he supposed to feed her if she couldn't even open her mouth? There was no way he was feeding her the raw creature again. Doing it once was fine, but too much would definitely ruin her stomach. Just as Locke was scratching his head thinking about this...
Angelina's stomach rumbled. After running away for a day and night, Angelina who had not eaten anything was actually famished. Although she didn't come to, her body definitely couldn't hide her hunger. Seeing Angelina's delicate face and mesmerising lips, Locke suddenly thought of an idea.
After feeding Angelina, Locke hurriedly left and went to inspect the surroundings. If Angelina woke up, she would be embarrassed. Angelina, who still had a little bit of saliva in the corner of her mouth, would be none the wiser to the fact that she had been fed by Locke.
Although there was no other creature around during the day, Locke still looked around uneasily. Water was an important resource for survival in the forest. This lake was a rare saltwater lake, so no animals would drink here. Locke and Angelina relied on the body fluids of the strange creatures to hydrate themselves instead. There were only a few rocks on the bank and there probably weren't many other of those critters inhabiting this area. Locke had to plan ahead and find fresh water for them to drink.
It's a pity that even after making one round, Locke found nothing. The low visibility at night didn't help his cause. When he returned to the cave, he pulled a piece of turf and started sewing. When he was young, his sister used to weave straw clothes for him. He was going to weave a turf quilt. It was too cold under the cliff and the heat provided by the small fire was not enough.
Maybe he was too tired. Halfway through weaving, Locke fell into a deep sleep, not forgetting to hug Angelina to warm up before dozing off. Locke couldn't be bothered about her royal status. At that point in time, they didn't know if they would be able to make it out alive, nobility be damned.
Soon, it started to snow.