Perhaps there would be someone who could truly tame this Fire Ape in the Land of South Morning, but all their taming methods would be related to brute force, because it was just like the boy had said, that Fire Ape was a new type!
That was why no one had any experience in taming Fire Apes. They could only use the taming methods they applied on other fierce beasts. Only Su Ming and Su Ming alone had the experience of befriending a Fire Ape.
Because when he was young, there was a Fire Ape that had been with him for his entire childhood.
"But I never managed to catch it…"
Su Ming stood up, and as he shook his head, he walked towards the Fire Ape. Almost the same moment, wariness appeared on the Fire Ape’s face. It let out a low growl, and as it did, the savage look appeared on its face once again.
"This lasted for several years before it let me catch it on purpose… At that time, I was really happy, but it was not until a long time later that I realized that it let itself be caught on purpose, because it was also very lonely in the forest… just like me," Su Ming mumbled, walking towards the Fire Ape.
A fierce light appeared in the ape’s eyes, and the moment Su Ming walked over, it suddenly leaped up and swiped its claw at his face. It was so fast that in the blink of an eye, a huge gust of wind blew against Su Ming’s face.
Yet this time, almost the moment its claw was about to touch Su Ming, Su Ming’s body turned to the side. It looked as if he was ripped apart by the Fire Ape, but in truth, the beast had only torn apart an afterimage.
"Only then did I know that it was not me who found it, but that it chose me to be its friend… a friend for eternity…" Su Ming mumbled and shifted his body to the side before he took a step to stand behind the Fire Ape. He lifted his right hand and brushed the fur behind its head lightly. His touch was very gentle, just like how he petted Xiao Hong in the past. This particular action made Xiao Hong the most comfortable.
The Fire Ape shuddered and turned around. It bared its teeth and anger appeared on its face to hide that thump of its heart during that instant.
Su Ming looked at the Fire Ape snarling at him and said softly, "You’re very fast. If you weren’t tied down by the chain, you’d be even faster… just like Xiao Hong. It’s also very fast. When I was young, I could never catch up to it…
"This place isn’t suitable for you to stay. Perhaps the land of the Shamans is a more suitable choice for you. I won’t harm you. Once I go to the land of the Shamans, I’ll release the chains, and I’ll… return your freedom to you…" Su Ming mumbled and looked at the Fire Ape.
The ape took a few steps back and looked at Su Ming warily, as if it did not understand what he had just said.
"Let’s make a bet and see who is faster."
Su Ming suddenly smiled. That smile contained a sense of naivety that was rarely seen on his face since he arrived in the Land of South Morning. It was a smile that belonged to a young boy, not a man.
"If you win, I’ll unchain you right that instant and return you your freedom, but if you lose, then you must brush your fur. You look far too dirty right now." Su Ming looked at the Fire Ape, and the Fire Ape also looked at Su Ming.
"We’ll race from here to the top of the mountain. Let’s see whose speed is faster… You have to follow the rules."
Su Ming pointed towards the top of the ninth summit, then at the Fire Ape, before he let go of the chain in his left hand.
The moment he let go of the chain in his left hand, the Fire Ape charged forward, but it did not run towards the top of the mountain. It instead seemed to have jumped into the air and flown towards the world in the distance. It howled, and its voice was filled with mockery.
Zi Che was shocked still where he stood by the side. A wry smile appeared on his face. He had always thought that Su Ming was a bright person, but he could only smile wryly at the things he was seeing right now.
"At the very least, its first thought is to escape, not to attack me."
Su Ming looked at Zi Che with a smile, then took a step towards the sky. The moment his foot landed, booming sounds came from his body. Four of the sixteen ice hoops on his legs had exploded!
Because of it, Su Ming’s speed instantly increased. In the blink of an eye, he rushed after the Fire Ape and even closed the distance between them. Once he did so, booming sounds came from his body once again, and four more ice hoops exploded. The moment that happened, his speed reached a level as if he could warp through space itself. With one step, his body seemed to have disappeared, and once he reappeared, he was already less than one hundred feet away from the Fire Ape!
The Fire Ape swiftly turned its head around, and disbelief appeared on its face. It let out a piercing screech, then as it charged forward at its full speed, two more booms fell into its ears.
Two more ice hoops exploded on Su Ming’s body. His speed increased to the point that he appeared before the Fire Ape in the blink of an eye and blocked its path forward.
"You have to follow the rules," said Su Ming with a smile.
The Fire Ape widened its eyes and snarled, then it swiftly went backwards to run in another direction. Su Ming looked at its retreat, and praise appeared in his eyes.
Even the Fire Ape itself was not certain why it chose to change directions instead of brutally tearing apart Su Ming’s body like it had wanted to do previously.
Perhaps Su Ming’s words had had an effect on it, or maybe his smile had touched it, perhaps it was that gentle touch from Su Ming’s hand that made it hesitate, or it could have been something else…
When the Fire Ape changed its direction, Su Ming took a step forward, and when he reappeared the next instant, he stood before the ape once again. It was not until the Fire Ape changed its direction a few more times, his path repeatedly blocked by Su Ming, did the savageness return to its face.
It let out a piercing howl and no longer changed its direction. Instead, with bloodshot eyes filled with madness, it lifted both its claws and swiped them at Su Ming with full intention of tearing apart the person that was blocking its path.
Almost the moment the Fire Ape swiped at Su Ming, black mist surrounded his body and his Divine General Armor instantly appeared as an illusion. That armor may look as it did usually, but if anyone took a closer look, they would see that the black mist had gathered into a large amount of lines that criss-crossed against each other to perfectly form the armor.
The instant the Fire Ape’s claws were about to touch the armor on Su Ming’s body, a booming sound echoed in the air and a powerful force spread from within the Fire Ape. That force was so great that it was definitely not something a Berserker in the Awakening Realm could summon. It was one equivalent to those in the Bone Sacrifice Realm!
This was also when it was tied down by the chain, weakened. If the ape was at the peak of its health, then the force of that strike would definitely surpass what it could summon now.
With the booming sound echoing in the air, Su Ming took a few steps backwards, but his expression did not change. Yet the Fire Ape did not continue with its attack. It instead used the bounce created by that boom and leaped backwards, charging… right towards the top of the ninth summit!
As it dashed forward, a smug expression appeared on the Fire Ape’s face. Although it was still snarling, that pleased expression was still as clear as day. It only used the span of several breaths before it reached the top of the ninth summit. It stood there and pounded its chest with its fists, then scanned the area. Judging by its actions, it was looking for Su Ming to boast to him.
Yet the moment it saw him, it was very clearly stunned, because it saw two Su Mings. One of them was smiling while looking at it from where they clashed, and the other was standing by its side while picking up the other end of the chain binding its neck that had fallen on the ground.
Su Ming smiled faintly as he held the chain in his hands. At that moment, the shadow of his in the air far into the distance turned into black fog. That fog tumbled about before turning into a Phantom Shadow that charged towards the platform outside Su Ming’s cave. When that fog descended on the platform, it turned back into a three pronged fork, then with a buzzing sound, it stabbed into the platform.
Zi Che was also baffled by the scene before his eyes. He had clearly seen Su Ming himself chasing after the Fire Ape, but he hadn’t managed to see when he swapped places with the Phantom Fork.
Anger appeared on the Fire Ape’s face. It turned towards Su Ming swiftly and growled at him with its teeth bared.
"We’re not redoing the match, I didn’t cheat," Su Ming said with a smile. The moment he finished speaking, he was suddenly stunned.
He was not the only one who was stunned. The Fire Ape was also stunned.
Su Ming was stunned because during that instant, he had naturally understood what the Fire Ape wanted to say when it growled and bared its teeth at him. It was as if that Fire Ape had turned into Xiao Hong.
The years together with Xiao Hong had allowed them to reach a level where they could understand what the other wanted to say just by their actions and expressions alone.
But this ape was… clearly not Xiao Hong…
The Fire Ape was stunned, because in its memories, there was no one in the world who could immediately understand what it was trying to say as if they’d know what it was thinking. Just then, it had indeed expressed that it wanted to redo the match…
It suddenly began to somewhat believe that this person who was slightly different from the other humans and who also happened to be a person that it did not especially hate and despise did indeed have a friend called Xiao Hong...
Su Ming remained silent for a moment and looked at the Fire Ape with a dazed expression. After a long while, he shook his head.
"You lost. Let me clean your fur."
As Su Ming spoke, he walked to the Fire Ape’s side and was just about to use snow to wash its fur when the Fire Ape shuddered. Clearly, it was not used to the cold, but after a moment of hesitation, it chose not to move away and simply allowed Su Ming to start rubbing snow on its body.
After a few rubs, the white snow turned black, and the Fire Ape was also clearly uncomfortable. It hissed and growled at Su Ming before retreating several dozens of feet away. Its eyes sparkled, and immediately, a ring of fire erupted and surrounded the Fire Are. Cracking sounds echoed in the air, and after a moment, when the flames disappeared, the Fire Ape’s body immediately returned to its fire-red shade.
The fire-red color overlapped with the red in Su Ming’s memories…
Just when a dazed look appeared in his eyes, suddenly, low growls came from his cave located lower in the mountain. Those growls were filled with pain and spoke of someone struggling, and that voice... belonged to He Feng!
He Feng’s final fusion had just begun at that moment!
Su Ming immediately snapped out of his stupor and swiftly looked towards the cave. With one leap, he charged down, and the Fire Ape followed behind him with an impatient look on its face. Yet when it looked at Su Ming, that expression on its face was clearly different from before.
That different look had never appeared on its face ever since it could remember.
That look was one of bafflement, of puzzlement, of uncertainty, of … bewilderment it did not understand.