Chu Feng shook his head in disagreement.
Despite the calf's seemingly harmless size, it was clearly not a mere innocuous baby cow. Rashly committing to an unplanned attempt to capture it would perhaps prove to be a very dangerous maneuverer.
The golden calf seemed very delighted. Having successfully crossed the deadly boundary, the calf shimmied its head and wiggled its tail, then with a single leap, it hopped into the air. Its excitement then culminated in a cheerful moo.
The world outside the mountains seemed ever so bizarre to it. There were many plants and vegetation. Many of them had a full blossom of a breathtaking beauty.
For the calf, the outside world was full of the unknown. Its excitement soon dissipated and gave rise to fear and anxiety. The calf meticulously managed each of its steps, guarding itself against all possible dangers. Evidently, the calf was yet to feel any real sense of security in this brave new world.
It slowly paced forward, then it halted near a batch of wild flowers. The calf lowered its head, gently breathing in the scent of flowers; then, it stood still.
A while had passed before it was confident that the scent was harmless to its body. Only then did it begin walking towards the area with more luxuriating plants.
"Pollen. Catalytic agent," Chu Feng murmured; he was absorbed in thought.
He could clearly see that the calf was gulping and swallowing pollens, as if it was probing something. It made a full circle around the area, touching a number of wild flowers.
In recent days, as the world was undergoing drastic changes, rapid multiplication and proliferation of flowers and plants was one of the most prominent scenes . Plants gave birth to large areas of flowers with very unordinary buds.
Having made a full circle, the calf's body was ablaze with golden flames!
The calf growled and trembled. It looked ever so frightened. To the eyes of the beholders of the previous few incidences, the sign of a golden flame could well mean the death of the animal. The calf might not, after all, escape his demise either.
By the outer bound of the mountains, the eyes were still watching.
"Is it going to die too?" Zhou Quan was surprised.
The blazing flame wreathed its body. The calf was in profound dread and panic, but it seemed unreconciled to resign to its death. It vigorously quivered its fur and its body, as if it was his attempt to get rid of the flame.
However, this time, the scenario ended differently. The calf was not incinerated into ashes. The fire only just started before it was put out. The calf remained unscathed and unharmed.
Suddenly, the mountains echoed with a symphony of bestial roars. The restless beasts and birds of prey were on the boil again behind the mountain's boundary line. They wanted freedom, they wanted to escape.
Chu Feng covered his ears to keep the noise out, but he was still afflicted by the shockwave of the deafening roar. For Zhou Quan, the situation was even worse. He was all dazed and dizzy. He slumped back, gulping for air.
Having passed the gate of hell, the golden calf seemed no longer frightened or nervous. It stomped and tramped its hooves heavily on the ground, venting out a victorious moo.
Provoked by the calf's success, half a dozen of otherworldly creatures rushed out from their hidings. Some spread their wings, while others sprinted on their hooves. A flurry of wind whistled and gusted, shaking the forest and rustling the leaves.
However, their attempts did not end well at all. As soon as their bodies crossed the invisible boundaries, their torsos and limbs disintegrated into piles of ashes.
At last, it went quiet again. No beasts nor birds could be seen in sight.
Meanwhile, the golden calf was still happily alive. It wiggled its tail, showing its elation at its unique accomplishment. But the action it then took astonished both Zhou Quan and Chu Feng.
The calf had an almost human-like behavior. It slumped down on the ground and sat cross-legged with its back hooves. Although the constant vacillating and staggering made it seem like an awkward and uncomfortable posture, the calf handled it with grace and poise.
Then, it raised its front hooves, with one of which pointing into the sky and the other pointing down. Its mouth kept mumbling with an inaudible bellow, "Moo, moo, moo..."
"What is it doing? Is it gorging itself on some invisible Buddhist Sutras?" Zhou Quan had a look that indicated his profound astonishment.
"I can't believe that this goddamn thing is making a 'Buddha descending' gesture. Just look at it, one hoof pointing up, the other pointing down. 'I alone am honored in Heaven and Earth.' And that"-Zhou Quan pointed to the calf-"was the exact goddamn gesture for this saying."
Seeing how a calf could pose such a gesture was as equally shocking and amusing to Zhou Quan.
Zhou Quan gently nudged Chu Feng with his elbow, whispering, "I think we should be able to capture it. After all, it's only a calf, which I reckon has made capturing it so much easier for us."
Before Zhou Quan could hardly finish his sentence, the golden calf scrambled to its hooves and shook itself before leisurely coming towards the two who were hiding in the bush.
"Oh crap, we're spotted!" Zhou Quan was taken aback.
"Wait for my order. Don't act rashly," Chu Feng adjured. He always had a feeling that for a deity animal like this, its power could be immense and unpredictable. Their status as an infant could always be a beguiling veneer over its true devastating power.
The golden calf moved at an irritatingly slow pace while its nostrils closed and opened, walking straight towards Zhou Quan. Then, it suddenly gripped Zhou Quan's bag with its teeth, forcibly snatching it away.
"You kiddin' me, right? Are you seriously trying to rob me, you bastard? No one smuggles my stuff!" Zhou Quan cursed under his breath. With a sudden jerk, he pulled his bag back, then he shielded it with his back. Zhou Quan then nimbly flipped over backwards onto the calf's back in an attempt to subdue it.
Unfortunately, he was no match to the calf. The calf was obviously nimbler than the chubby old Zhou Quan. It vigorously shook him off its back, then, as it stood on its hind hooves, it threw punches like a boxer straight at Zhou Quan's face. Without even making a sound of groan, he stumbled and slumped back.
Zhou Quan was muddled. He could not fathom how a calf could have possibly developed any boxing skills. What he found even more unacceptable was that as a six-foot man, he was knocked out by an infant calf almost in an instant. Fuelled by anger and shame, Zhou Quan scrambled to his feet.
"I'm coming to get you, you bastard!" Zhou Quan charged straight at the calf. He gripped it by its horns, challenging it in a duel.
To Chu Feng, this was a rather speechless scene. He had already drawn out that black stagger, prepared to help Zhou Quan to win the fight.
But now he decided not to. He noticed that the calf was in no intention to kill. Its glittering pair of innocuous eyes made it even more celestial and spiritualized.
To Chu Feng, the calf did not look like a wild beast. It behaved in a relatively civilized way when confronting an advanced primate like Zhou Quan.
However, the idea of putting his feet up while watching Zhou Quan getting beaten up simply couldn't sit right in this situation. As such, Chu Feng hastily rushed to grab the calf by its horns in an attempt to bring it under control.
"This bastard probably came for that weed fruit in my bag!" Zhou Quan shouted.
The golden calf had well exhibited its immense strength in the fight. Standing on its hind hooves, it latched its fore hooves on Zhou Quan, wrestling him with all its strength. Meanwhile, Zhou Quan seemed to be in a very rough shape. He got up then fell, then he got up and fell again.
Zhou Quan was furious. He wouldn't have been so mad if all he suffered was just been a punch in the face. But right now, this scene had become a bloody wrestling match between him and the calf, and each round only ended with him suffering from an even more overwhelming defeat. As a man with dignity, he could not just accept a shameful loss, so every time he tumbled, he stood back up.
Chu Feng came to help. He exerted himself to grip the calf by its horns, pulling it away from Zhou Quan.
He knew that if the calf went berserk, it could easily pierce a gaping hole in Zhou Quan's body with its penetrating horns. But fortunately, such ill blood did not seem to run in the veins of this golden calf. It had stayed relatively conservative in its attack throughout the wrestling fight.
Even so, Zhou Quan was still in a towering rage. He saw the calf smiling at him with a foolish grin on its face.
"Damn you, you bastard!" Zhou Quan was fuming in rage. "What do you want? Look, you've already pinned me down, and now what, are you going to laugh at me? Huh? Is to win the fight itself not satisfying enough for you? Is it also necessary to humiliate my dignity altogether? Let me tell you, 'Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned'. I'm no woman myself, but I'm sure as hell going to fight you to death if you keep that stupid smile on your stupid face!"
The calf did not seem to mind Zhou Quan's raging words at all. Instead, it dug its mouth into the Zhou Quan's backpack, searching for that scented red fruit.
This put Zhou Quan into a fit of panic. He did his utmost in trying to push away its head. Although he had always been in doubt about the potential outcome that this fruit might cause as a result of consumption, he never wanted to give it up without a try. That winged man, no matter how strange one might think he looked, was undeniably an utter superhuman with his own unique power. Being more powerful than others could never be undesirable.
Chu Feng also lent his helping hand. He went for its neck, putting forth his strength in trying to lift its head up. Although he had been against the idea of Zhou Quan consuming the fruit, he certainly wouldn't sit back and watch someone else snatch it from his poor old pal.
The golden calf, on the other hand, was quite obstinate. He just simply could not be stopped.
That bright red fruit was out of its red skin, spilling rays of red light into the world around it. It immediately filled the atmosphere with a tangy savory smell.
Chu Feng was overcome by surprise when he thought that the calf had swallowed the fruit.
However, when he looked down at Zhou Quan with an apologetic look, he noticed that he was lying on the ground, fiercely coughing. His face had turned all rosy and red; he was using his hand to continuously beat his chest.
At that crucial moment, Zhou Quan was exceptionally valiant. He popped the entire fruit into his mouth. After only a single mastication or two, he swallowed it down without giving it a second thought. He did not even have the time to spit out the seeds of the fruit before he realized that he almost choked himself to death.
The golden calf put down its fore hooves. It was no longer interested in wrestling with Zhou Quan. It stood on its ground, looking all fumed and bristled, since that fruit was such an allurement to it.
Fortunately, it was not a ferocious animal. Despite that everything had turned out to be such a disappointment, the calf chose to stay poised and composed.
"Water! Give me water!" Zhou Quan yelped for help.
Chu Feng pulled him up from the ground, gave him a bottle of water and clapped him on the back. At last, Zhou Quan's breathing returned to normal.
"Come and get it! What? You can't see it anymore? That's right! Because I've eaten it! It's all here! IN MY STOMACH!" Zhou Quan shot the calf a dark and scornful glance. At the same time, he was still fuming in rage. "You little bastard. How dare you wrestle with me? You are such an irritant!"
"Hey, hey, hey! There is no point shouting at a calf. How is the fruit? Tasty? And how do you feel right now?" Chu Feng asked. His eyes were wide with pity and concern.
"The juice was luscious, but I didn't get to carefully savor the subtlety of its flavor. What a shame!" Zhou Quan remorsed.
"But I do feel that my body is getting a bit cold. I feel as if there is a force rampaging within my body." Zhou Quan closed his eyes to appreciate the feeling.
At the same time, the golden calf was glaring down at Zhou Quan with a peevish expression on its face. Then, its focus shifted to the glittering green weed in his hand. This should have been just an ordinary weed, but all seemed to have changed since it gave rise to that red fruit. Now, it seemed more vigorous than ever with a very lively breath of life.
"Do you also want to steal this from me?" Zhou Quan glared back at the calf. As he spoke, he pitched the leaves off the stem, forcefully masticating the leaves with his grinding teeth.
"Those were just grasses. It's quite inedible actually. Just calm down, man. There is no need for you to bring up a sense of rivalry between you two in every possible way," Chu Feng reminded him.
"Pooh! Pooh! It's so bitter, so unpalatable!" Zhou Quan felt like that intense wrestling battle had given him a head trauma, otherwise, why would he commit to such a stupid idea. He would have never eaten grasses without any cause or reason.
Across the way, the golden calf was still glaring down at him with a peevish expression. White fumes effused from both of its nose and its ears. Clearly, Zhou Quan's childlike demeanors had set the calf on edge.
"Right! Stay there! Don't you charge at me! Will you be happy if I willingly give this to you?" Zhou Quan had a guilty conscience. He handed over that glittering green weed to the calf.
The golden calf swallowed half of the weed in one gulp, almost getting a bite on Zhou Quan's hand. Zhou Quan was taken aback; he loosened his grip on the grass in a hurry. Then, he hastily retreated.
"You've eaten that grass, so stop glaring at me. And also, stop rising those white fumes from your nose and your ears. What are you angry for? I'm the one whose limbs were almost out of joint because of you."
The golden calf regained its peace.
"Do you understand what we are saying?" Chu Feng wanted to communicate with it. He wanted to know more about the changes that had been brought to the Taihang Mountains. This calf came out from within the mountains, so naturally, it would know most of the truth.
The golden calf did not nod or shake its head. On the contrary, it started measuring him with its eyes.
"It doesn't understand you. You need to be like me." Zhou Quan pulled up a grip of grasses and slowly approached the calf with a smile that made him look like someone who was up to no good. "Hey, little one. Come, eat. Let's build up some intimacy between us, can't we? I can feed you all day long with these fresh grasses, so someday in the future, you let me ride you. How about that?"
The calf raised its head, casting a sidelong glance at him. The look on its face really made Zhou Quan start to question his life and his existence.
It was a condescending look full of despise and disdain.
"Can you see it?" Zhou Quan asked Chu Feng. "Why do I somehow have this funny feeling that this son of a bxtch is despising me? Why does it look at me in a way that makes me feel like a bloody idiot?"
"Yes, indeed." Chu Feng nodded.
"Did I just get contemned by a goddam cow?" Zhou Quan burst into a furious rage.
He then pointed at the calf and said, "You have already eaten my grass, didn't you. So from now on, you are obliged to be my ride. Do you hear me?"
Before Zhou Quan could even react, the golden calf had already emerged behind Zhou Quan's back. Then, it stood straight up and leaned its fore hooves on his shoulders. In the end, it even twined its chubby legs around Zhou Quan's neck.
"What the..." Zhou Quan was ablaze in furious rage. "What're you doing? I wanted you to be my ride, but what are you doing now?" Zhou Quan was burning in a frenzy of rage.
"It seems like it wants you to be its ride." Chu Feng laughed.
Zhou Quan wondered for a moment, then he realized that this was indeed the case.
Especially as he turned around, he saw the calf grinning foolishly right at him. It even went so far as to nod its head to express its agreement with Chu Feng's suggestion. In the eyes of Zhou Quan, the look on the calf's face could not be more abominable and loathsome.
"Get off me!"
The forest buzzed with noise for quite a while.
A quarter of an hour later, Zhou Quan was now running at the front, puffing and panting, while being chased by a little golden calf pursuing after him. At times, it even stood up and started running on its two hind hooves. It leaned its fore hooves on Zhou Quan's shoulder, wishing that he could perhaps carry it on his back.
"Help! Help me!"
Zhou Quan had been completely flattened. Having struggled for so long in a failed attempt to domesticate the calf, he finally realized that he was no match with the calf's strength and ability. Far from being domesticated, the calf had instead domesticated Zhou Quan, turning him into its personal ride.
"I don't know where you come from, but I know that this ever changing world of ours seems infinitely seductive to you," Chu Feng said.
Suddenly, the golden calf halted its pursuit. It turned to look at Chu Feng.
"Even as you all know that entering our world could potentially mean death, but judging by the ruthless behaviors of all those beasts and birds who had given up their lives in trying to enter our world, I can tell how powerful of a seduction our world is to you," Chu Feng continued.
He had successfully drawn the calf's attention, making it return to a state of calm and composure.
Chu Feng was all sweaty and wet. He heavily sat down on the ground beside Zhou Quan.
"I can't believe that I've been bullied by a cow. How shameful!" Zhou Quan cursed under his breath. He kept his voice low since he dared not to instigate any more commotions.
At the same time, he was also drawn to Chu Feng's words.
"After our world had mutated in many peculiar ways, even a weed at a roadside could give rise to a strange fruit. There was even people hovering high above us in the sky after consuming one of those peculiar fruits. I bet that there are fruits with more potent and more drastic effects, and I think this is the reason you come here," Chu Feng said.
They then went on making conjectures, "I guess this is only the first stage and also the most intense stage. There is an equal opportunity for anyone to acquire ability and become... the king? And this is why you came."
"King" was a euphemism Chu Feng chose to use. He knew that this was a term that the golden calf should understand.
The golden calf had become quieter and quieter.
"So, tell me, where are you actually from?" Chu Feng whispered.