It was a little past four in the afternoon when Cheng Yang returned to Silkworm Mountain.
Cheng Yang allowed Yu Kai to give his Vice Governor some instruction before the group set off for Phoenix Village.
At that time, Silkworm Mountain had reached the High Grade. However, this was a bottleneck for the satellite village. Phoenix Village didn’t have enough stone to share, and Silkworm Mountain didn’t have its own supply. As such, it would be quite some time before it leveled up again.
While passing through Cloud City, Cheng Yang deliberately avoided moving too far into the city. Now that Yuan Jianzhe was searching for the Forgotten Grave, it was only a matter of time before they came into conflict. However, Silkworm Mountain would be vulnerable if it were to be cut off from Phoenix Village. So, at the very least, Cheng Yang hoped to keep the location of the village a secret.
As long as Yuan Jianzhe didn’t threaten his interests, Cheng Yang was content to keep the peace. After all, it would be harder to develop in a time of war.
Along the way, Cheng Yang rescued a few refugees. There weren’t many left in Cloud City. Those that remained were either extremely lucky or had the tenacity of a cockroach.
At this point, of the million or so people that inhabited the city before the apocalypse, there were a few tens of thousands still in the ruins, the upwards of ten thousand in Phoenix Village and around three hundred thousand in the safe zone.
Overall, about forty percent of humanity should still be alive. However, over the next week or so, another ten percent of the previous population would die as food reserves ran out. Anyone unable to reach a safe zone would perish.
Yuan Jianzhe frowned at the ceiling of his attic.
He was currently relaxing in his high-class condo. It was expensive to rent, but his progress left others in the dust. In fact, after tonight, he would become a Standard-Grade Warrior.
Yuan Jianzhe, however, wasn’t happy. As nice as it was to grow, it wouldn’t matter if Cloud City remained weak.
His subordinates had searched the ruins for two entire days but had yet to find an instance dungeon. At this rate, Cloud City would fall behind the rest of the world.
He was beginning to think Cloud City didn’t have an instance dungeon. Still, since other cities had them, he refused to give up!
Although that was frustrating, it wasn’t the real reason Yuan Jianzhe was upset. Earlier today, he put together various intelligence reports and uncovered a terrifying truth: there was another group of people in Cloud City, and they were far stronger than the military.
Their true strength was unknown but significantly higher than theirs, and their speed was beyond comprehension. At first, it just was scattered rumors of super-powerful individuals, but recently a whole army was discovered.
Whoever they were, they had tried hard to conceal their existence, but one thing was certain: they had been here since nearly the beginning of the apocalypse.
Two other points scared Yuan Jianzhe. The first was that several people had seen these people recruiting civilians from the ruins. Secondly, the description of that group’s leader matched that of the NPC that visited the safe zone.
As such, Yuan Jianzhe couldn’t even confirm that the other group was composed of humans. If the person from before was to be believed, they might be a group of NPCs.
A knock on the door interrupted Yuan Jianzhe’s thoughts.
“Come in, Lao Wu. What’s happened?” At the commander’s admission, a brisk man with solemn eyes entered the attic.
“Are you still worried about those mysterious people, commander?”
“How could I not be? We don’t know if they’re hostile or not. Hell, we don’t even know where they came from. I asked all of the nearby cities if they sent forces here, but they’ve all denied it. They’re probably telling the truth too. The nearest one is thirty kilometers away.”
“Is it possible they’re from here? Maybe they beat us to the safe zone and performed class change ceremonies before leaving.”
“Unlikely.” Yuan Jianzhe said immediately. “You saw what it was like when we arrived. There was no way a civilian could have made it past those monsters. Even if they started in the safe zone, they wouldn’t have been able to escape. Besides, there are too many of them for that.”
“That’s true…” Lao Wu sighed.
“Anyways, why did you come to see me?” Yuan Jianzhe asked.
“I’ll get straight to the point. We’re going to run out of potable water soon. It was manageable when there weren’t that many civilians, but right now, we only have enough water left for three days.”
Yuan Jianzhe’s hearts skipped a beat. If someone had to go a day without food, it would be hard but tolerable. However, if the civilians weren’t even given water, they were sure to riot.
“I remember there used to be a river right outside the city. Can we use that?”
“Perhaps, but it will be difficult. According to people from the outskirts of the ruins, the city has been nearly isolated from the surrounding area by massive canyons. There are only a few stone bridges across, and the other side has become a dense forest. As for the river itself, the path has changed impossibly. It comes out of the ground in the northwest and disappears back into the ground in the southeast. It’s a weird river that flows from nowhere to nowhere. I’, not sure if it’s safe to drink.” Lao Wu reported.
Yuan Jianzhe frowned. “Despite that, once we run out of water, that river will be our only source.”
Lao Wu smiled sadly. “I know, commander. Someone will have to be our guinea pig. What are your orders.”
Yaun Jianzhe stared back at his subordinate with deadened eyes. “Find some civilians to do it. If we offer a hot meal, there will be no shortage of volunteers.”
“Understood commander. I’ll make sure it is done promptly.”
“By the way,” Yuan Jianzhe stopped Lao Wu from leaving, “Have we had any luck negotiating with nearby cities?”
“We’ve recently been in contact with Northern Cang City, and they seem receptive. However, the municipal government is in control there, not the military. Two days after the earthquake, they were able to rely on the police force to open up the safe zone. However, even though they’re friendly, they’ve already betrayed the country. They have no intention of asking the military for help or following orders from the national government. It seems like they want to establish themselves as a new country.”
“Fucking politicians! Of course, they’d pull shit like this as soon as an opportunity arrived.” Yuan Jianzhe said mercilessly.
Lao Wu hesitated for a moment. “Forgive me for asking, commander, but how do you plan to respond to Beijing’s summons?”
Yuan Jianzhe hesitated before replying. “Tell them everything they ask for and let them know we plan to remain loyal. We have nothing to hide.”
Lao Wu nodded before leaving.
After his subordinate left, Yuan Jianzhe stood up and walked over to the window and watched the sun set over the ruins.
After Cheng Yang returned to Phoenix village, he immediately constructed a new High-Grade Meditation Hall.
The manual workers in Phoenix Village worked hard today, so there were plenty of materials lying around to build with.