Chu Feng stood there like a deadman in shock and amazement. His eyes were fixated on the shadowboxing calf, dazed by its dexterity.
Yellow Ox stood upright on its hind hooves, steady and graceful. As it changed its gait, the pace was swift and violent, yet it also contained a natural elegance. This was not what a calf should be capable of.
Chu Feng watched on the sideline, deeply impressed.
Yellow Ox darted a cursory look at Chu Feng, but it did not halt upon sensing his presence. Its face wore the look of a showman with a brashness bordering on arrogance. It had always been the pompous type, surrounded by an air of conceit and egotism. It suddenly increased the strength of its punches, becoming ever so mighty and forceful.
Its body was of unparalleled agility. At times, its boxing style seemed like the movement of a bird of prey seizing small mammals with fists driving down with brutal forces. At other times, it drove its fists upwards with great ferocity. Each distinct movement was accompanied by a deafening sound of thunder, suffusing the atmosphere with frightful air.
Chu Feng was taken aback. There was a certain extent of frightfulness carried with each of its punches. Even while watching from afar, one could easily tell that this was indeed a legendary boxing style that could pack quite a punch.
Yellow Ox seemed cheerful and confident. It unfolded its fighting position and limbered up as part of the final routine of every shadowboxing exercise. However, as it darted a second glance at Chu Feng, its face froze when he realized that Chu Feng had not brought with him the communicator as he promised.
It stopped its punches straight away then turned its back on Chu Feng.
Chu Feng was still bewildered by the calf's sudden halt. He had yet to see enough of that legendary boxing style.
Then, it all clicked as he saw Yellow Ox's shifty eyes consistently giving him furtive glances as if it was trying to ascertain something.
This bastard was still thinking of the promise about the communicator!
"Yellow Ox, I've picked one of the latest communicators for you just then. It looked prestigious and high-end, but I didn't bring enough cash, so I have to come home again and withdraw some cash to buy that communicator for you. You will get it real soon!"
Yellow Ox listened keenly. A grin of evident delightfulness appeared on its face upon hearing Chu Feng's words. A genuine joyous smile instead of a blatant mocking gloat was really hard to come by on its face.
"What a pragmatic and calculating bastard," Chu Feng thought to himself.
Meanwhile, Yellow Ox started throwing punches once again, but the movement seemed more like a whimsical gesticulation than a proper boxing style. Then, it exhaled a sphere of white smoke as a closing position for this whole set of shadowboxing.
Chu Feng seemed rather speechless. "Need you have to be so pretentious? What a snobbish bastard."
Seeing him yet to commit any actions, it vented out a blaring bellow to urge him to move.
Chu Feng turned around and walked away without demur. It went straight for a thrift shop half a li away. "Uncle Liu, can you grab me the most ancient and the cheapest communicator from your shop?" Chu Feng called for the shopkeeper as soon as he entered the door.
"Chu Feng? When did you come back?" Uncle Liu jabbed his presbyopic glasses back on his nose with his pinkie. He looked at Chu Feng with an amiable smile.
"Oh, I came back a few days ago. It's really been a long time since we last met. Are you still doing alright?" Chu Feng greeted with a smile.
"I'm fine. But what do you need an old-fashioned communicator for? Ain't all the youngsters nowadays fancy those new ones?" Uncle Liu seemed baffled.
"There's a purpose for it. Being somewhat backward isn't really a worry as long as it looks new and fancy," Chu Feng emphasized.
"Although this is a thrift shop, but no-one ever wants to buy an old-fashioned communicator from here. So, there is only a few left," Uncle Liu said.
He rummaged through all the chests and cupboards, carrying off all that he had. In the end, he did manage to find a few. Things like these were seldom bought by anyone except for those who wanted something old-school and something vintage for collection. "Otherwise, what's the worth of spending money for something almost dysfunctional," said Uncle Liu.
Chu Feng took a fancy to one of the larger ones. It looked new, and it had a glittering shine to its body.
"This is it! I will take this one!"
"Yeah, I mean, it does look new, but neither of its functionality nor practicality is even near to the level some of the others I've got here for you," said Uncle Liu.
"No, it's okay. This is good enough for me. Looking new is all that matters," Chu Feng insisted.
Uncle Liu was a bit speechless, but there was really nothing else he could add.
He put out a restraining hand when he saw Chu Feng trying to find money to pay for the communicator. "It's okay, this shabby old folk was so space-consuming anyway. It's probably for the better for me to give it away. Just take it. You don't need to pay."
"Right then, I will buy you some booze next time I come around." Chu Feng did not regard himself as an outsider, so he pleasantly took Uncle Liu's offer.
"Oh right, I forgot to tell you. There were a few young men who came here while you're not in town."
Uncle Liu brought this up just as Chu Feng was about to leave.
"For me?" Chu Feng was taken aback. "Who would come here for me?" If it had been his classmates or friends, they should have called him beforehand.
"All of them seemed pretty extraordinary to me. There was also a girl amongst them that looked pretty charming," Uncle Liu recounted.
Chu Feng left the shop with queries and questions. He could not exactly pinpoint who had been looking for him.
"Yellow Ox! Look! I've got you such a high-end communicator here. I reckon it's ten times better than the one I used," Chu Feng shouted as soon as he entered the yard.
Yellow Ox hastily rushed over. It scurried over on its hind hooves and seized the communicator with its front hooves. Then, it cuddled it with great affection.
The calf cast a cursory glimpse at the one Chu Feng was using, then it compared it with the one in its hand. It instantly regained its typical grinning look of mockery, showing profound despise to the one Chu Feng had in hand.
"You're really not a virtuous kind, are you? I bought you the best of the best, and I don't think I deserve to be mocked, do I? Uh, well. I guess it's alright since I'm such a magnanimous person. I won't dispute this with you any further. But hurry up, teach me how to practice the boxing style you were doing," Chu Feng urged.
Yellow Ox did not respond to him, instead, it placed the communicator on the stone table and whimsically poked around on the screen with its front hooves.
But soon later, it burst into rage, because nothing seemed to have worked!
It turned around and glared down at Chu Feng with a peevish expression on its face.
"It's not charged yet." Chu Feng was on his usual reassuring presence. He only started speaking languidly after Yellow Ox had become agitated by the lack of response it received from its hysterical poking of the communicator.
Yellow Ox carefully picked up the "best-of-the-best" communicator and presented it in front of Chu Feng, asking him to charge it immediately.
Its eyes almost popped out when he saw Chu Feng carelessly flinging the communicator onto a desk and plugging it with a rather arbitrarily selected charging cable.
The look on its face was telling him to be careful and not to destroy this piece of "high-end" product. At the same time, it had not forgotten to shed another contemptuous look to Chu Feng's communicator.
Yellow Ox was in a frenzy as it poked around on the communicator in the middle of the charging process, but soon later, it seemed rather troubled by its lack of understanding of the characters displayed on screen. Although its interest did not seem to have dwindled as a result, the absence of a key to unlocking the secret of human language had proven to be a major hindrance to its ease of usage.
Yellow Ox came up to Chu Feng. It took him quite a while before he could comprehend the basic ideas that Yellow Ox was trying to convey.
"What do you want? Do you want me to move the contacts from my communicator to yours? Get the hell out of here!" Chu Feng entered a frenzy of rage for every time he was reminded of the calamity the calf had brought upon many of his friends last time.
Yellow Ox was interested in its function that allowed people who lived thousands of li apart to communicate with each other with ease, but how could Chu Feng allow such wishes of Yellow Ox to be realized?
Having realized that to gain access to the contacts was out of luck the calf asked Chu Feng to teach it how to read those video reports and news.
"If you know words and characters, everything would become easy. Communication, reading newspaper and watching videos will all become much less problematic once you learn how to speak the words we speak." Chu Feng tried to skilfully give it a methodical and systematic guidance. Teaching the golden calf to read and speak was a plan he had had in mind for more than a few weeks.
As expected, Yellow Ox nodded with great pleasure. It came to this world with odd intentions, but if it could distinguish the words and characters that had prevailed in the communication system between people, it felt things would work out in a much easier way.
"You teach me your boxing style and I teach you my language," Chu Feng said with a gritty look on his face.
Yellow Ox glared at him with a testy look, then it bellowed. It seemed like the calf was complaining about the fact that Chu Feng had planned beforehand in trying to exploit it.
"After all, this is a deal in favor of you. I see this world as nothing but a calamitous pile of mess, so I have to learn the boxing style to survive. Only if I could live for long enough could I help you find that strange little bush on Kunlun Mountains," Chu Feng said.
Yellow Ox finally nodded as a form of agreement to the deal.
In the following three days, Chu Feng had dedicated himself to the practice of this boxing style. It was a hard style to master as every punch was required to be thrown in unison with great power.
He used to practice free combat. Although he had an unorthodox technique, he was an excellent fighter. However, the boxing style he was learning with Yellow Ox right now was completely different from past experience. With every punch that had been thrown, Chu Feng could feel his fist peppered with a layer of strange and mythical power.
Especially when he, as asked by Yellow Ox, threw punches while breathing as he did when practicing the special breathing exercises, he felt even more extraordinary. Occasionally, his fist could produce a deafening rumble of thunder.
Chu Feng was pleasantly surprised, completely enthralled by the practice.
Yellow Ox had also learnt quite a few words. It was an intelligent animal as well as a fast-learner, so Chu Feng dared not to teach it more than he needed to. He euphemistically described their lack of progress as "consolidation of those learnt in the past", so he did not need to be worried that Yellow Ox might cease from teaching him its boxing style once it learned enough words and characters from him.
Meanwhile, Zhou Quan had nearly gone insane.
Since the only contact in Yellow Ox's communicator was Zhou Quan so far, it rang him up every time the calf felt like to.
Sometimes, the calf called him at noon, and sometimes, at midnight. Sometimes, it made the call at the break of dawn. It was clear that, wittingly or unwittingly, the calf would ring up for Zhou Quan and make a few sounds of bellow whenever it was free.
"Goddamn it! Demon Ox! One day, I will go there and slaughter your pathetic ass. Call me at midnight? Sure! I will give it a pass. But why the hell are you calling me now? It's only dawn and I just fell asleep. I'm freaking sick and tired of your stupid crap!"
Zhou Quan sounded more than just irritated, but he could not turn off the communicator when the world had become a place of lawless violence and chaos. His family and his friends were yet to come back to reunite with him, so he needed the communicator to stay in touch with them.
"I warn you, if you're gonna disturb me again, I will come over and stew you alive!" Zhou Quan was exasperated.
However, Yellow Ox took pleasure in Zhou Quan's anger. Constantly harassing Zhou Quan had become an addiction to it.
"Chu Feng, look at this mess you've caused. Argh..."
Zhou Quan wanted to cry but had no tears.
On the fourth day, Yellow Ox had already mastered a number of vocabulary. As asked by Chu Feng, it wrote down the name for the boxing style.
Although the words were written in a crooked and askewed fashion, but they were at least legible.
"Demon Ox Boxing," Chu Feng read it out.
Yellow Ox's chest swelled proudly, and its eyes glowed. It held its head erect with pride and conceit. Obviously, the calf gloried in this set of boxing style.
"What an unfashionable name!" Chu Feng said.
Yellow Ox turned exasperated. It raged and roared. Its thunder-like howl trembled the whole house.
"You stay at home and I will go out to deal with some things." Chu Feng hastily retreated outside the house. He then headed towards the workshop of Grandpa Zhao. By his reckoning, the forging of the crossbow and bolts he asked for should have already been completed.
There were plenty of customers in his workshop. In the middle of an unrest, anyone would like to get something for self-defense.
"Hey buddy, I've made your bows and bolts a long time ago. I was even thinking of personally bringing them to you if you didn't come today," Grandpa Zhao said.
"Thanks, Grandpa Zhao. I'm so grateful," Chu Feng said with a smile. He lifted up the package that Grandpa Zhao had given him. It contained the crossbow and its bolts, so it was understandable that the baggage felt quite burdensome.
On the way back, he passed by the thrift shop. He was greeted by Uncle Liu, "Hi, young lad! I just saw those young folks who came last time for you heading towards your house. Oh! But it was not as many people though."
Chu Feng was taken aback. Who were they? And why were they coming for me? In a time like this when roads and railways had all seen disconnected, who would still dare to travel this far? He grew increasingly doubtful.