The golden calf displayed a certain reticence. It did not moo, nor did it nod or shake its head. It attentively looked at Chu Feng with a thoughtful look on its face.
"I feel like we'd better back off. Your pushy persistence will probably make it furious instead of giving you the answer you wanted. I do reckon this calf is way too odd and eerie for anyone's good," Zhou Quan said. He was speaking from the standpoint of a fearful man who had just undergone profound suffering, both mentally and physically, of a trauma that was caused by the calf.
"Pollen. Catalytic agent," murmured Chu Feng.
These words were vaguely heard from the mouth of the Lin Family when they came to pick up Lin Naoi from her graduation ceremony.
As he spelt out these words, the golden calf's eyes glowed with a sense of agreement. It nodded to him as a form of response.
It could understand Chu Feng's words, and specifically, those particular words had touched its nerve.
Chu Feng was in a bit of a trance. He thought that perhaps the so-called strange fruit might not be the most important aspect of everything; instead, the pollen on some of the strange flowers might perhaps be the key to certain things. He yielded such a conclusion.
Even so, as Chu Feng wanted to probe deeper for more additional information, the calf returned to its usual reticence. No responses, no signs of agreement or disagreement.
"I have once seen a bronze mountain on the Tibetan Plateau. There, on the peak of it, was a strange plant. Its blossom had an unmatchable fragrance even when smelt from far away. Its scent gave people a pleasant high, making those who had breathed it in feel light as a feather," Chu Feng said. He wanted to see how the calf might react to his words.
Zhou Quan was in a bit of a trance, too. He was quietly sitting beside the calf, meticulously picking up every word from Chu Feng's mouth.
Just as Chu Feng had anticipated, his story about the flower and the scent raised the calf into an excited state. It inclined forward towards Chu Feng, ardently nodding its head to urge Chu Feng to keep going.
Chu Feng was bewildered. "Is that flower that important," he thought. He had touched it once before, but apart from a strange stream of warmth flowing in his veins throughout his body, nothing significant happened.
But judging by the calf's enthusiasm, its desire for the blossoms was clearly far more passionate than for that fruit of Zhou Quan's.
"There, I also saw a golden vulture, a mastiff, and a black yak" Chu Feng spoke as he carefully observed the calf's facial expression.
The face of this golden calf was as expressive as a human being. It had a grin on its face, a grin that encompassed both astonishment and anxiety. Evidently, Chu Feng's story seemed to mean a lot to it, and the calf was obviously eager to know how the story would end.
"In our world, neither yaks nor mastiffs could be counted as top primates, because they possessed no intelligence. But those that emerged at the bronze mountains were obviously in a league of their own. They seemed even more intelligent than humans."
Chu Feng paid close attention to its reaction as he spoke in order to deduce what this calf knew and what it didn't.
A solemn look soon emerged on the calf's face as Chu Feng mentioned the appearance of those otherworldly creature he saw in the Kunlun Mountains.
"Their intelligence surfaced before the world had even started to change. Even as the world was still the way it was, these beasts had already become invincible and unmatchable. So I assume that as the world gradually mutates into a completely different one, these creatures will perhaps become more sanctified, more holy in our world. They may even become sages."
The golden calf seemed enthralled. It involuntarily nodded its head. Obviously, it was an unconscious expression of agreement with Chu Feng's assumption.
The calf stood riveted to the ground. It took it a while to collect itself, then it returned to its usual poise and composure. It showed no more of its emotional undulation and revealed no more of its thoughts through facial expression.
However, Chu Feng had clearly seen the calf's reaction, and that proved some of his initial conjectures.
"I think that after our world completes its cycle of change, is there going to be, perhaps, a preliminary stage right before the new world order establishes? And in this preliminary stage, is it easier for... sages to appear?" Chu Feng carefully worded to describe those he deemed as the unknowns.
The pupils of the golden calf drastically constricted. Clearly, these words had touched its heart.
"You guys risk your lives to come here, one after another. This can well mean that the so-called preliminary stage is way more significant than I thought. Are you all seeking ways to become sages?" Chu Feng said.
At first, Zhou Quan was astounded, then he could not help but begin to admire the exceptional deductive skills that Chu Feng possessed. He marvelled at his ability to draw the outline of a future world solely based on careful observations on details of events happening around him.
Now, even Zhou Quan started to get ahold of the trend of things. He also began to make all sorts of conjectures along Chu Feng's line of thoughts.
The way the golden calf looked at Chu Feng seemed a bit more intimate. A sense of respect was written all over its face.
It was already past midnight. The mountains were quiet and serene. There had been quite some distance between them and the mountains' outer boundary, so they felt no longer enshrouded in the grim and ghastly atmosphere brought by the beasts and birds of prey.
Moonlight flowed like streams of water in the mountains amongst the woods.
"Is the tree that you found at the bronze mountain summit really that mystical?" Zhou Quan asked, "if all the three beasts managed to get ahold of it, why didn't you manage to bring back something with you?"
"I did manage to catch four petals with my hand," Chu Feng replied.
"Did you actually?" It was only a casually asked question, and Zhou Quan did not expect Chu Feng to give such an answer. To him, it was already a miracle that Chu Feng had managed to leave the place alive in the presence of a mastiff and a golden vulture.
At the same time, the golden calf seemed very excited. It charged straight at Chu Feng, then it gently rubbed its head against Chu Feng's palm. Its eyes were wide opened, in search for something.
"Sorry, buddy. It's been too many days now. The petals were already gone," Chu Feng said with an apologetic smile.
However, the golden calf still seemed unwilling to leave. It circled around Chu Feng with a rather strange look in its eyes. In the end, it even stood up on its hind hooves, reaching out one of its fore hooves and pointing it at Chu Feng. It had a complicated look on its face that could be both read as excitement and regret.
"What on earth do you actually know? Hurry up and tell us!" Zhou Quan glared at the calf.
"Moo!" the calf responded with a single lowing.
Zhou Quan was so bitter that he wanted to cuff the calf on the side of its head, but he dared not to.
Zhou Quan and Chu Feng walked in front and the golden calf followed. It did not leave, and it seemed quite likely that it wanted to follow them all the way down.
They were walking in the direction of that town called Shunping. Zhou Quan's family lived in the village. They would have gotten there hours ago, had they not lingered around at the mountains' boundary.
"Hey little cow, do you have a name? Since you have decided to loyally follow us, we better call you something other than just baby cow," Zhou Quan said.
Just like that, Zhou Quan, all of a sudden, became an enthusiastic delegate for naming the calf.
"Seeing how little you are and how much of a bastard you've proven to be, and plus the fact you are from another world... I think the name, Demon Ox, may perhaps be the best and most fitting name for you. It encompasses both power and prestige." Zhou Quan exerted himself to try to convince the calf to accept his suggestion.
Just as everyone would have expected, nothing could ever turn out well between Zhou Quan and the calf. Zhou Quan's benevolent effort to name it did not receive the treat he might deserve, but instead he got kicked right in the head.
"Damn you! You Demon Ox!" It took Zhou Quan a long while before he struggled to get up.
At last, they entered the little town. It was already late at night. The streets were all dark and quiet. Only occasionally, a cat or two made a hurried scurry across the street.
Chu Feng bid his farewell to Zhou Quan. He still needed to walk for another ten li before he could arrive home.
Zhou Quan tried his best to keep Chu Feng in his company for the night. He didn't want him to leave until dawn broke through.
Chu Feng shook his head. He was a bit concerned that overnight, a ten-li journey might suddenly increase to an arduous trek of a hundred li. Nowadays, everything had become ever so unpredictable.
"Take care, brother. Wait 'till I settle down, and I will come for you in just a day or two," Zhou Quan said.
Zhou Quan knew that in the near future, the whole world would become completely different. Whether the changes were to be for better or worse, Chu Feng was undoubtedly a valuable friend to know and to keep.
But he then became all fumed in rage again as he saw the golden calf chose to keep its company with Chu Feng without even giving it a second thought. Its obliviousness to his existence fired him with fury.
"What an ungrateful bastard! You ate my grasses, but then I even gave you a name. Now as we part ways, aren't you even gonna say a word?" Zhou Quan gritted his teeth in anger.
Having heard his raging words, the calf turned around and faced Zhou Quan with its bottom. It rocked its tail in profound pride, then it wiggled it right in Zhou Quan's face.
Zhou was struck dumb with astonishment. He had never seen a bull rocking its tail, so this was clearly its way to show its contempt for him.
"Piss off! You bastard!" Zhou Quan said sulkily.
He wanted to find a car for Chu Feng, but his proposal was rejected. Since the calf's golden body stood out like a sore thumb, it became Chu Feng's arduous task to keep both of them a low profile in most places.
Right now, Zhou Quan wanted nothing but sleep. He felt like his body was being secretly transformed in a sort of way that made him drowsy ever since he had eaten that fruit.
"I will see you later then!"
It was already late at night, but darkness seemed to have failed to take over. A bright full moon lit up the night with its glittering silver light.
Under the gleaming moonlight, the golden calf glittered with a profound shine.
On their way, Chu Feng became curious. He tried to stroke and fondle the skin of the calf. He realized that it was indeed furs that were soft and smooth like silk. It was not metal, but the calf's horns were cold and firm.
Qingyang Town was his destination.
Chu Feng was born here. He lived in the town with his parents until the age of ten when his family decided to move into that metropolis two hundred li out in the north.
Shuntian was the name of the metropolis. It was the capital of six dynasties, and it was the largest city in the north.
However, in recent years, he and his family still frequently paid homeward visits together every year during holidays. They always felt that this was the only place they could call home.
Although it was late, Chu Feng still could not resist the urge to turn on his communicator to make contact with his parents. Soon, the call was picked up.
They had already made contact during the day. From the call, Chu Feng learnt that they were still in the city of Shuntian.
Now, since he had already witnessed the great changes that had befallen in the Taihang Mountains, he warned them about the latent danger incubating in this area. It would be disastrous if, by chance, some of the beasts also managed to come out of the mountains and wrought havoc in the local villages. Thus, he hoped that they might consider to delay their return for a few more days.
To Chu Feng, Shuntian was a metropolis after all, and that meant higher level of protection and better security.
Their call lasted for a long while, and at last, he finally persuaded his parents to wait at the metropolis.
The night was quiet, and he finally got home.
It was a two-storey situated in the east of the town. It had a reasonably sized yard that was directly connected to a large area of orchid farms. Standing in the yard, one could look into the distance and revel in the breathtaking view of the Taihang Mountains.
This was one of the reasons that his family liked to pay their frequent homeward visits here.
It was already late at night. It brought the calf into the yard, and then he just left it there. He was all weary and stale.
He climbed up the stairs to his room, then soon, he fell asleep.
Morning sunshine flooded in through the open curtains. The sun rose with a lively and vigorous morning glow.
The first thing in the morning for Chu Feng was always to turn on his communicator. He wanted to check if there were any sensational breaking news. Mutations took places nationwide, so naturally, there would be all kinds of reports on strange occurrences flooding in daily.
"The king of the gods?" He was astounded as he saw this piece of news on the internet. Only in two days, three cases of human mutation.
Moreover, it had also been certified that all three possessed rather terrifying supernatural abilities. Someone simply called them "the king of the gods".
One of the articles had conducted all sorts of analysis on the matter. It said if things were let to go on like this, more people would naturally acquire supernatural abilities. Together, they would perhaps unlock a new era for humanity.
And those who acquired their abilities before the others would be highly likely to become the leaders of a new world order. It had even been prospected that one day, some would be addressed respectfully as the kings of the gods.
The young man who acquired his ability to fly, for instance, would perhaps possess infinite power in the near future.
Chu Feng put down his communicator and went downstairs to the yard.
But he was immediately stunned. He saw the golden calf taking a morning bath under the resplendent morning glow. Its posture in the bathtub was ever so eerie.
It was sitting cross-legged in the tub like a human being. It naturally extended its fore hooves out of the tub, lazing in the warmth of the water. The calf faced the rising sun, breathing in and out the lights of the rosy dawn.
This was a bizarre scene to behold. It was a calf, but it somehow had the set of demeanors of a human being. It sat there, cross-legged, rhythmically breathing in and out.
Chu Feng sensed that the way it breathed in and out had a rather bizarre rhythmic pattern.
He was curious, so he stared at it for a long while. Then, he followed the rhythm and tried to breath in the same way.