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629 Perks from All Those Years

 Flipping out the tiny blade from her Swiss Army Knife, Gu Nianzhi patiently cut at the stubborn piece of bark clinging on. As flexible as the bark was, it was no match for a knife. Soon, Gu Nianzhi had cut off the lingering bark and completely cut the branch off the tree. Feeling it in her hand, she knew it could be used as a cane, but the handle part was prickly with splinters, so it was uncomfortable in her palm. She then picked another even smaller blade to carefully smooth out the top of the branch until it was silky and uniform. She smiled when all the splinters were gone. It felt much nicer to hold now.

With a cane, the next thing to do was cut the willow branch into several pieces to make a splint to secure her fractured left fibula. That way, she could heal quickly and guarantee the bone would heal properly. She didn't want to get a limp.

Supporting herself on her newly crafted cane, Gu Nianzhi stared at the young willow tree for a long time to once again pick out a medium-length branch. She carefully cut it off with her Swiss Army knife, attempting to get a clean cut so that the tree could easily grow another branch. After cutting it off the tree, Gu Nianzhi sat under the tree and used several pieces of the willow branch to secure her left calf. Then she pulled the laces out of her shoes to tie the branches onto her leg. Her fractured leg felt much better after she attached the willow splint to it, and for the rest of the day, she realized her leg didn't hurt as much.

After treating her leg, Gu Nianzhi was covered in sweat. However, glancing at the cane in her hand and splint on her leg, Gu Nianzhi felt very accomplished. This was one of the perks of growing up with Huo Shaoheng and all those years she had been attached to his leg, going everywhere he did. Huo Shaoheng was only 22 at the time and didn't know how to raise a little girl. Also, he only trained at the base, and it wasn't classified, so he allowed her to follow. Gu Nianzhi had run, trained, camped, and learned wilderness survival skills with him. It wasn't for nothing after all, since she was now using everything she had learned.

Wiping the sweat off her forehead with the back of her hand, she supported herself with her cane to stand up. She planned to find water nearby to drink. When she was researching the Königssee, she remembered learning that the Alps were actually the result of erosion from the Ice Age, so there were also many rivers and springs formed from that period. Since there was a little river nearby, there should be a spring source that formed the river.

After carefully observing the river's flow and the appearance of the trees in the area, Gu Nianzhi determined a direction. She limped upstream along the river for 20 minutes before finding a tiny waterfall, which was a spring flowing down from the top of the mountain. Gu Nianzhi was so excited as she strode over. She then laid down by the waterfall and took great gulps. The water had the signature sweetness of mountain springs.

After drinking to her satisfaction, her only regret was not having a water bottle to store water in. Now she had to come back here to drink when she was thirsty. How annoying. Although she was in such a mess, Gu Nianzhi still managed to cheer herself up and pretended this was an accidental wilderness excursion. After drinking water, Gu Nianzhi walked around to see what she could eat.

She discovered that many berries grew near where the river met the cliff. They were bright and vibrant, appearing in different shapes. Gu Nianzhi roughly recognized there were at least three types of berries-black currants, blueberries, and blackberries. She had had them before, but didn't dare to eat any of the other ones because she was worried they were poisonous. She only ever had berries bought from the supermarket and grown by fruit farmers, so she didn't know if the wild berries would taste any different. As Gu Nianzhi contemplated, she picked handfuls of black currants, blueberries, and blackberries and put them in her pocket to wash in the river. She then carefully picked up a blueberry to taste.

Her pearly teeth bit into the plump berry. The juice nearly exploded out, and the balanced flavor of sweetness and acidity instantly filled her mouth. Gu Nianzhi hummed and shut her eyes as she drowned in the delicious taste. It was so tasty, many times more delicious than the blueberries from supermarkets! This was true natural, organic fruit!

Gu Nianzhi couldn't help stuffing one of each berry in her mouth. In comparison, blueberries were sweet and sour, blackberries were sugary, and black currants were very tart. Combining all three berries created a spectacular new flavor! The sugary blackberries balanced the tartness of black currants, while the sweet tartness of blueberries was an embellishment to make it even tastier. Gu Nianzhi was very satisfied from eating them. Vitamin C and anthocyanin-rich black currants killed bacteria and enhanced immunity, which was very appropriate for her current situation. Although she didn't like sour food, she had to eat more black currants in order to survive in this place. After feasting on berries, Gu Nianzhi's mood improved greatly.

Taking out her phone from the Hermes bag hanging in front of her, she discovered the signal wasn't great there, and no one had called or even texted her. Gu Nianzhi remembered her phone was fine last night. The signal was normal, but now there was only one bar left that flashed intermittently. Luckily, she still had a 90% charge on it, so it should still last for now. Gu Nianzhi didn't feel discouraged because she believed the police would come rescue her. What she needed to do was to survive here and not end up dead before the rescuers could even arrive.

Carefully putting her phone back into the bag, she casually rummaged through it to see many things inside. There was her Louis Vuitton wallet-it wasn't too expensive but was very durable. It didn't wear, no matter what happened to it, and the pattern on the leather hadn't faded, even after using it for several years. Stuffed inside were all sorts of bank cards and credit cards, as well as some Euro and US dollar cash. Looking up at the primary forest surrounding her, Gu Nianzhi sighed with a shake of her head. What good would cash and cards do here?! What could she do? She was very desolate!

Looking at the items in the bag again, she saw the one sanitary napkin she had a habit of carrying, the Swiss Army knife with her keys, several chocolates, a bag of wet wipes, and most importantly, a lighter!

She had originally planned to gift it to Huo Shaoheng, but this was perfect. She didn't need to pretend to be a cave woman and start fires from kindling wood. Gu Nianzhi almost cried as she prayed to the sky. The transition of humans from uncivilized cave dwellers to civilized people had occurred when they started to use fire. Gu Nianzhi immediately felt even hungrier. She had only taken a few sips of water and had a few berries since yesterday morning until now. She only had a few chocolates in her bag, but she didn't plan to eat them now because she needed to save them for when she had no choice but to eat them.

After sitting under a tree to rest for a while, Gu Nianzhi decided to go to the river to try catching fish. She cut a forked branch off a tree to fashion into a harpoon and used her cane to limp to the riverside. The water was so clear that she could see the bottom of it, where different sized anchovies swam. Gu Nianzhi swallowed hard as she stood on the riverbank. She used her self-made harpoon to begin catching fish. She wasn't sure if the fish were stupid, or if she was skillfull, as she had harpooned several fish in no time.

She limped between the willow tree and riverside, continuously ripping off branches until she finally built a tiny grilling rack. Using the Swiss Army knife she carried, she scaled and cleaned the fish, then cut them open to remove the organs. She skewered the cleaned fish on the tip of the branch and laid them on the grilling rack. She then amassed some dried leaves as fuel and took out her lighter to start the fire. When the embers jumped, Gu Nianzhi couldn't help laughing out loud. One door opens when one closes. When she picnicked with Huo Shao and his men, she had seen them grill fish. Although she had never done it herself, she remembered what to do. Now that she was doing it herself, she quickly got the hang of it, even though she was a bit unfamiliar with the process in the beginning.

Soon after, the aroma of food drifted over, and she salivated even more. Gu Nianzhi picked up a golden roasted fish and opened her mouth to take a bite. Ah! Yuck! It was bitter! Gu Nianzhi instinctively spat the fish out. How could this be? She remembered having Huo Shao's grilled fish. It was crispy on the outside and tender inside. The fish was so tender, soft, and incredibly fresh. Her own grilled fish...

Fine, although it looked golden on the outside, it had already burned inside. So they may be a bit more burned, a bit more overcooked, a bit more tough than the fish cooked by Huo Shao and his men... Of course, it was bitter. Could burned food not be bitter? Gu Nianzhi badly wanted to cry as she discarded the strange fish, then picked a new one to grill. She didn't know she was crisping the outside and burning the inside, making it completely inedible.

She spent the entire afternoon grilling fish. After trying countless numbers of fish, it was nearly dusk when she finally grilled an edible fish! But when she was eating it, she noticed all the anchovies by the riverside had all swum off... Did they finally understand that they had to get away from this "butcher?" Gu Nianzhi slowly thought about it and hugged herself in laughter.

Shen looked at her left leg again. It didn't hurt at all anymore. Supporting herself on the grass, she stood up and randomly discovered she had some strength in her left leg now. Although she still limped a bit, it wasn't as serious as before. Gu Nianzhi stared at her left leg for a while and internally mumbled about how she might not have had a fracture...? But she remembered the pain that hit the bone, as well the feeling of not being able to use her left leg at all. It was really a fracture.

It couldn't have been muscle strain. She was sure because she had strained her muscles before, and it was a different kind of pain. Then she recalled rolling down from the road, the rocks on the mountain bruising her body. Quickly pulling up her sleeve to check, she discovered her skin was smooth and soft, and there was no trace of being torn open earlier. After thinking about it for a long time, she couldn't understand what had happened, so she decided to put it aside for now. After all, the most important thing right now was to escape. It wasn't the time to be thinking about things like that. It was a good thing to not be in pain.