Chapter 38 Aroma
“Don’t worry, we understand.” Chang and the others nodded and left the office.
“Do you know where the kitchen is?” Chang picked up Jing so that she didn’t need to limp.
“How’s your injury?” Qing shui asked.
“I’m alright; the wolfhound bit my leg, but it wasn’t deep. It hurts a lot, but it won’t affect my walking and running.” Chang looked at the marks on his leg. “I feel like my wounds heal faster than before; it should be better by tomorrow.”
“That’s good, because we can’t afford to take a break from hunting.” Qing shui looked at Chang’s crossbow. “Although you’ve got a good weapon and will have a good meal tonight, we will still need at least two meals a day to make sure you have enough strength to hunt. However, since it’s not currently possible to store food, we need to understand the crisis we have on our hands.”
“I know.” Chang nodded as he looked at the red sky feebly and said, “In this world, I’ll never let my guard down.”
“I’m glad then,” Qing shui replied.
They walked to the kitchen as they talked. Chang found the kitchen, but it was unexpectedly small, which seemed unnatural considering it was supposed to be able to cook for the whole army. There was only one stove – apparently, it was a private kitchen for captains or commanders.
“We’ve arrived. Pangzi, could you ask Lin to come over? We’ll have dinner here.”
“Alright!” Pangzi ran out as he answered. He was so quick that he didn’t look like someone who’d starved for a few days.
“Haha, look at him, I haven’t seen him so happy in while.” Chang laughed, “Mr. Li, let’s cook.”
Qing shui smiled back and rolled up his sleeves. He lifted the parcel of meat onto his shoulders and walked into the kitchen.
This was probably the best moment they had since the red fog. Even though Chang didn’t know how to cook as his parents did everything for him, he still had some basic sense of how to put the ingredients together. He put aside his crossbow and helped Qing shui slice the meat. Then, they marinated the meat in a big bowl with salt.
“See, I told you we’ll have meat for dinner today.” Jing was standing beside Chang and her eyes clearly showed her hunger. Chang picked up a piece of meat as if he was showing off his achievement.
“Thank you!” Jing looked at the pile of meat on the chopping board. She did her best not to drool as she nodded expectantly.
While they were speaking, Lin joined in the festivity and helped boil the soup base.
While Chang was preparing the meat in front of him, he was extremely considerate of every cut he made. He almost got killed by the giant wolfhound, and this was his reward from the deadly chase. Even though it was brutal and inhumane to eat dog meat, who cared when death was looming around the corner?
As they only had limited seasoning, Qing shui decided to make a stew – not only would they get protein from the meat, but also they could have some soup to warm up their bodies.
An hour later, a big pot of dog stew was placed in front of them.
The five surrounded the pot closely, but they didn’t pick up their bowls and chopsticks immediately as they greedily inhaled the smell of the stew into their lung like this was their last meal.
“I finally understand why people in the past always prayed before they ate food.” Chang picked up a pair of chopsticks and put his palms together. “I feel like I’ve been blessed to have this meal!”
“Yes! Exactly! I give thanks to god’s grace for giving us food today!” Pangzi took out a spoon and scooped a spoonful of the hot stew; he didn’t even care about the heat before swallowing the food. “Hah—-” Pangzi sighed, “Thank you god for giving us life!”
“It’s a million times better than the vegetable soup we had yesterday.” Chang also put a spoonful of stew in his mouth. The rich texture and the aroma caught him the moment the spoon touched his mouth. It was so satisfying, and he felt like he was raised up high in the air.
“Thank you god for giving us food.” Chang also showed his appreciation as he took spoonfuls.
“Oh please, don’t mention that vegetable soup here. Lin and I ate some of the vegetables that you didn’t cook yesterday, and it was the most terrible thing I have ever tasted in my life.” As Pangzi complained, he stuffed his mouth with a big chunk of meat.
“I still remember how you resisted eating those plants…. As Mr. Li said, as soon as you are hungry enough, you can put anything in your mouth.” Noticing that Jing didn’t have any food in her bowl, Chang grabbed her a spoon, encouraging her to join in as he smiled. “Jing, there’s no need to hesitate. We were fortunate to have you help us to get all this food, so make yourself comfortable. You can eat as much as you want to, we have three pounds of meat for each of us.”
“If it’s still not enough, I’ll get more for you tomorrow!”
Jing glanced at Chang’s face and under his encouragement, she put down her worries and started to eat and drink merrily.
Everyone was immersed in this brief happiness, as if they were living in a dream. They all enjoyed it so much that the room sank in a short period of silence – only the sound of swallowing could be heard, until they almost finished their dinner…
“Chang, we should practice using the crossbow when we finish dinner.” Qing shui was the first to break the peaceful atmosphere. He put down his empty bowl and turned to Chang. “Practice makes perfection; I didn’t know much about crossbow either, but we can try to use it a few more times before we actually go out. Also, the crossbow is too shiny, we should cover it with some mud so it’s less noticeable.”
“Alright.” Chang nodded and put the last piece of meat in his mouth.
Time glided by unnoticeably.
The entirety of the big pot of stew, including the bones that could be chewed up had gone down their stomachs. They left the empty kitchen in satisfaction – The other three went back to the dorm room, while Chang and Qing shui went to a deserted corner of the base to figure out how to use the crossbow.
Standing in the grassy jungle, Qing shui’s figure blurred in the red fog. Chang refocused on his crossbow – they discussed its structure. Like most weapons in the world, its structure wasn’t too different from the bows he used to see on TV: a curvy body with a metal wire connected on its two ends, and a rectangle structure placed below, with a horizontal tray at the end. Chang carefully counted the number of bolts in the tray – there were 17 in total. The horizontal tray made picking up bolts while shooting easier and faster, and it also prevented the archer from accidently being stabbed by the bolt.
On the side of the crossbow there was a small handle to pull the string. Chang tried to put the handle in place so that the crossbow was ready to shoot, but it required quite an effort, and anyone that hadn’t trained for this wouldn’t even able to bend the bow.
Chang kept finding a way to make the process easier. He pulled the handle so that the string was put in place tightly, and then he pulled out a long bolt from the tray and set it in place. Chang carefully aimed at a tree a few meters away, and without hesitation he pulled the trigger.