She could hear the loud rush of air by her ears. Unsure of how much time had passed, Liu Mingyu was finally willing to open her eyes.
Hovering over her was Yang Chen. He was laughing at her. Liu Mingyu felt the sudden urge to rip off that cheeky smile with her teeth.
“Are you still afraid?” Yang Chen yelled so that his words could be audible to her despite the wind.
Liu Mingyu cautiously lifted her head to look around, then looked down to watch the ground come closer to them both. While hints of terror remained in her heart, she was starting to understand the excitement.
The savanna was filled with patches of wilted yellow grass in the middle of green pastures. In the distance was a lonely little stream running along a few awkward-looking stone mountains.
“It looks amazing…” Liu Mingyu marvelled. If Yang Chen didn’t possess a heightened sense of hearing, he certainly would’ve missed it.
Indeed, the natural beauty of the complex ecology was something ordinary people did not get to experience.
It didn’t take long before all the parachutes landed. The warmth and humidity of the ground soon came looming over them.
Xiao Zhiqing had landed earlier on a spot not far from them. She discarded the bag, placed her arms on her waist and scowled. “I would’ve brought along sunscreen had I known that I would be burnt this badly.”
To ensure that there was no dead weight, only Yang Chen’s backpack was stocked with food, water, and other necessities. The two women had bags too but they were essentially empty, intended for the storage of materials.
Liu Mingyu had too found it difficult to get used to the climate. Instinctively, she enabled a flow of True Qi to circulate within her, finally feeling much more comfortable.
Noticing it, Yang Chen quickly reminded. “Mingyu, try not to use too much True Qi. Your body is not strong enough yet. If you concentrate your True Qi on cooling yourself down, your body will become weak. We’re not here for a few hours, we might be here for weeks until we find the materials.”
Liu Mingyu was a little reluctant but ultimately decided to stop using her Qi.
To be honest, Yang Chen’s intention behind stopping her usage of Qi was to make sure that Liu Mingyu’s physical body received sufficient training from their trip here. Depending on her True Qi would be equivalent to slacking off. If she had stuck to exercising her body along the way, the strengthening of her physical constitution would be very helpful on her journey.
Strengthening one’s body was a must to enter the Xiantian realm. Cai Ning and Rose, who had started martial arts training since young, found no difficulties in that aspect. The other women, on the other hand, still had a long way to go.
After that, Yang Chen instructed the other two to wait at a spot. He ran to retrieve Xiao Zhiqing’s parachute and had it spread flat alongside him on the grass.
He then found some rocks and mud and placed it on top of the parachutes to keep them still.
“Yang Chen, what are you doing?” Xiao Zhiqing was curious.
Clapping off the dirt on his hand, Yang Chen answered, “It’s a mark for the plane. It also serves as a mark for our starting point since we don’t have any transmitters. It’ll be difficult to pinpoint a pickup location for the plane if we have none, so marking out a location like this would make things easier.”
Since this journey was decided in a rush, Yang Chen felt no need to bring along any special communication device. Regular smartphones would pose a problem when it came to battery longevity and there was no guarantee if they’d receive any signal here.
Other than that, Yang Chen was also unsure if they would be able to find materials or what the foraged quantity would be. If they managed to gather more than they could carry, arranging a plane to transport them back would be a better choice.
“Which direction should we head to?” asked Liu Mingyu while she wiped away the sweat on her forehead.
Yang Chen looked at the sun’s position then looked at the time. “We’re in the depths of Arnhem, we should head North for now. A majority of Australians live around the coastal region. If we don’t find anything along the way, we’ll just consider this an inland trip.”
“You call this a trip?! I’m already sticky and sweaty. This place is suffocating.” Liu Mingyu groaned.
Despite the fact that she wasn’t brought up in wealth, she was a city girl through and through. It was only natural for her to find it difficult to get used to the wilderness.
Yang Chen extended an arm to pinch her cheek with a smile then turned around to look at Xiao Zhiqing whose cheeks were flushed from the heat. “Let’s move. Tell me if you see anything. I can’t tell the right ingredients for alchemy.”
Xiao Zhiqing noticed how intimate Yang Chen and Liu Mingyu’s interaction was. She felt a pang of jealousy but quickly tossed it aside. The reason behind Liu Mingyu’s presence was not hard to guess. Xiao Zhiqing was aware that she was in no place to comment on anything, all she could do was to accept reality.
Thankfully, Lin Ruoxi had made it known to Liu Mingyu on her decision to send her along Yang Chen’s journey. With this knowledge, Liu Mingyu acted cautiously to not provoke Xiao Zhiqing.
The two women were strangers and were cautious with one another. It made their conversations sound very ingenuine but it couldn’t be helped.
Yang Chen was aware but he chose to ignore it. There was no need to involve himself in their problems as long as nothing too severe had stemmed out from it.
Despite that, there were certain measures to take. Yang Chen figured that he should keep his distance away from Xiao Zhiqing to avoid placing pressure on Liu Mingyu, which would be easier for her to report to Lin Ruoxi.
Absorbing every ounce of heat from the sun, Arnhem in the afternoon felt like a gigantic oven.
As they continued to walk, more rivers and streams began to appear around them. The patches of tropical rainforests around them combined with the presence of water bodies intensified the humidity further.
Xiao Zhiqing was wiping sweat off continuously. Though the heat was very uncomfortable, she remained focused on identifying every plant they had come across. Her sheer determination was impressive to Yang Chen. The woman was undeniably feminine but she was most definitely one tough cookie.
Thanks to the training she had received, Liu Mingyu’s body had improved enough to stomach the harsh conditions. Noting how professional Xiao Zhiqing was along the journey, Liu Mingyu tried to pay attention to the plants around her. Her impression on the other female changing ever so slightly.
Approaching dusk, the three made it to a small rocky hill where Yang Chen gestured for the both of them to sit and get some well-deserved rest.
Retrieving two water bottles from his bag, he distributed them to Liu Mingyu and Xiao Zhiqing.
After two loud gulps, Liu Mingyu’s throat immediately felt better. She noticed Yang Chen wasn’t having any himself, so she quickly passed her bottle to him. “Yang Chen, are you not thirsty? Here, have some of mine.”
Yang Chen declined the offer and flashed her a smile. “I’m not trying to save water for the two of you. My training has allowed me to control the water in my body. I no longer need to rehydrate intentionally. Your bodies are still akin to that of a regular person. If you don’t drink at least a gallon of water in such a place, you’ll suffer from heatstroke soon.”
Xiao Zhiqing scoffed and laughed. “You make it sound like you’re not human.”
“What did I do?” Yang Chen raised a brow.
The exchange triggered a round of laughter from the two women. Suddenly, the atmosphere was less awkward.
After some rest, Yang Chen stood up. “Let’s walk a little further now. The rivers are very concentrated in this region, let’s find somewhere less damp to rest.”
Liu Mingyu was confused. “Why find somewhere else? Wouldn’t being close to a river make it easier for us to fetch water?”
“Oh, don’t think too highly of the rivers here.” Yang Chen continued, “In Arnhem, the real murderers roaming this place are carnivorous crocodiles. In fact, this place has more than one hundred thousand of them! Their jaws are big enough to swallow your body in one go.”
Listening to that sent shivers down their spine. The two women quickly followed suit and stood up.
Yang Chen couldn’t help but find it funny. “Although you can relax because I’m here. I don’t wish to be constantly alert of crocodile appearances. Plus, places with access to water are often loaded with insects, scorpions, and mosquitoes!
Australia houses twenty-one species out of all twenty-five of the world’s most venomous snakes. I’ve remained cautious throughout our journey, you two better pay attention to your surroundings.”
Xiao Zhiqing gulped nervously. She asked, “Yang Chen, how do you know so much about this?”
Liu Mingyu too was equally perplexed. It was weird to see someone who had spent most of his time in the office playing games and snoring so knowledgeable. This was the first time she had realized that he had skills outside of combat.
Noticing their bewildered stares, Yang Chen couldn’t help but feel troubled. He helplessly explained, “It’s nothing. You don’t know much about how I was brought up in the past. I lived in a place with conditions much harsher than Arnhem. When I was thirteen, I was already able to survive alone in the intense Siberian mountains. I must admit I’m pretty skilled when it comes to survival.
It was compulsory to identify and study most of the world’s flora and fauna. Other than that, it was required of me to understand their features and their application in human survival. I’m blessed with great memory so it’s not difficult for me.
It’s a pity that I don’t know which plants could be used for alchemy. Plus, their local names may differ from their scientific names. If it wasn’t for that, I would’ve come here alone.”
While he continued to explain, Yang Chen gestured for them to pick up their bags and continued their journey up north.
Remembering that they would be sleeping under the stars for a while, Liu Mingyu questioned. “Yang Chen, weren’t you able to fly us here? Why didn’t you make the choice of venturing to a nearby city for accommodation?”
Yang Chen shrugged. “You’ve got to ask Xiao Zhiqing about that.”
Xiao Zhiqing quickly explained herself. “Some herbs are not detectable in daylight, especially those that glow in the dark. Some would even display special appearances around in the dim hours before sunrise. Those properties make them hard to obtain. If we were to travel back and forth, there will be too much wasted time and we’ll miss out on a lot of things.”
In the middle of the conversation, Xiao Zhiqing let out a small gasp. Her eyes were glued in the direction of a small stream ahead. Slowly, her eyes brightened.