Beef braised in brown sauce, spiced beef, curry beef… and of course, how could a set of beef dishes be complete without a few dozens of other beef dishes of all sorts.
The table would have already been flipped if Yellow Ox had been present on the scene.
This was a sheer provocation, since not even one dish was the same as another. Most importantly, every dish had been wholeheartedly cooked with beef as the main ingredient. The proficient cook had made a whole lot of variety out of a single kind of meat. How marvellous this was!
Even the side dishes and the soup were custards of beef. The banquet culminated when twenty roast skewered beef were served as a dessert for Chu Feng.
Chu Feng enjoyed his dishes with a guilty conscience. He felt somewhat diffident when he was reminded of Yellow Ox in his mind. If he were to eat every dish of provision here, would that husky smell of beef be distinguished by the sensitive calf?
The obstinate calf would risk his life with him if he were to be found out about his edacious devouring of its friends' meat.
However, the guilt had not overpowered his desire for the love of beef. His ravenous mouth was full of both pulverized meat and praises. He was ever so thankful for the cook of this diner to prepare him with such feast of a meal.
The two whispered to each other as they ate.
They whispered the old stories that happened in the past. Their schools, their classmates, and their schoolmates, all of which granted them with endless topics for the conversation to flow. However, when it came to their personal relationship, the two chose to falter and swayed their topics after having just scratched the surface.
Chu Feng noticed Lin Naoi's deliberate attempt to alienate herself from recalling the past that happened between them. She gained a flat tone whenever their past was mentioned.
Chu Feng had an optimistic and sunny personality, but this did not mean that he was an utterly shameless guy. He had never tried to win anything from her, or prove himself to be anything in front of her. He kept a casual mind when conversing with this past lover of his so that the two could easily keep themselves away from any embarrassment that could potentially arise during their conversation.
Their chattering conversation lasted long. Everything, from back in their college days to the upheavals that happened lately, was mentioned.
Chu Feng sighed with deep feelings. He sighed for the sightings of many strange occurrences that happened all so fast that almost everything which he had once considered as norms were now suddenly subverted to something utterly different. The world had turned into a strange one in a matter of days.
Lin Naoi seemed a bit apologetic. She spoke candidly that she already had a premonition of this upheaval that had swept the globe, but she had not expected it to progress to such an extent.
In this post-civilization era, during its endless years, mystical occurrences driven by some mysterious forces had occurred many times. Every one of them influenced the world to quite a major extent. However, for the ordinary, the cause and the meaning of any of these occurrences could not be comprehended or understood.
However, the Deity Biomedical Group knew the unmentionable secret behind the scenes. They were the only people who knew the truths.
But, this seemed to have been pertaining to a taboo of some sort, so Lin Naoi seemed to have scruples in continuing to inform an outsider with intelligence on which he should never have laid hands. She did, however, dropped Chu Feng a hint or two, but she was unable to reveal every detail of the truth.
Chu Feng paid close attention to the words Lin Naoi said when she raked up something from the past. Chu Feng then carefully reflected upon these words, looking for special meanings that might help him soon.
At last, Lin Naoi asked Chu Feng if he was going to leave this town for some other places. The metropolis in the north, for instance, would be a good option. The Taihang Mountains would evolve into a battleground shortly, with the death of many in the horizon.
"Perhaps I will leave for somewhere safer in a few days," Chu Feng said. He candidly told her that he had really been dazzled by the many news on the internet speculating a potential "war" that would break out at the region of Taihang.
Chu Feng then went on with a genuine look on his face, reminding Lin Naoi of taking good care of herself in a time like this. After all, the world had become an imminent battleground joined by the most powerful and the deadliest from across the nation.
Lin Naoi nodded as a form of agreement. She would take care of herself. She said that she had originally wanted to escort this past lover of hers to a safer place outside this warzone.
However, knowing that he was under the protection of a master behind his back, and that the master would personally escort Chu Feng to a metropolis in the north, the need for her to persist in seeking a way out for Chu Feng herself was rather unnecessary.
"I know there is danger in the Taihang Mountains, so I won't dash in there and court troubles for myself." Chu Feng smiled.
"Not only that." Lin Naoi shook her head. She was reminded of something, but she hesitated for a while, carefully wording her sentences before she told Chu Feng the truth.
"The company had seen some unusual events lately." The words that followed shook Chu Feng with a start.
"Many beasts and birds of prey were evolving. They are becoming increasingly intelligent, like a man cast off the yoke that was once restricting the development of their intelligence. Their level of intelligence is drawing closer and closer to that of us, humans."
These were the observations the company had gathered only recently.
Chu Feng believed the words she said. After all, the Deity Biomedical Group was a giant in its field. They were in control of almost all the resources that were inaccessible to the public.
"Mutants crop up in hordes in recent times. There were voices of discussion about them echoing everywhere on the internet; however, no-one had paid attention to the evolution of these animals. They kept a low-key profile, with many hibernating in their dens, poised for the moment to come."
Lin Naoi's words shocked Chu Feng tremendously.
Words such as "hibernating" and "poised" elevated those animals to a much higher order compared to what they were used to be. Chu Feng was also reflecting on a question: "What are these animals planning to achieve with their intelligence level unlocked?"
"We have managed to capture a few of these animals. They were all very extraordinary, and very intelligent. Their intelligence was on par with, if not higher than, that of a man. Some even behaved better than a man when it comes to learning and imitation."
Her face grew grave when talking about this.
"This is quite worrisome." Chu Feng pushed aside the dishes on the table. His mind was oozing with worries and concerns. He was reminded of many things that had recently happened. His fingers kept tapping on the wooden surface of the dining table as he fell in a muse.
"I'm sure there are more mutated beasts and birds of prey than mutated men out there!" Lin Naoi asserted.
These words tugged at Chu Feng's heart strings even more than all that were previously mentioned. What she said should be the reality. All in all, those beasts and birds lived in the wild. To them, the mutated bushes and grass were more ubiquitous, and the special fruits, as a result, became more accessible to them than to a human being.
"The future seems so grim to me." Chu Feng sighed.
"That's why I need you to go to a metropolis," Lin Naoi said.
However, there was still a question that lingered in his mind. He noticed that the government had remained relatively taciturn lately besides some occasional press briefings to appease the public. What were they concerned about?
"Excuse me for speaking bluntly," said Lin Naoi, "but the government had always been in the know during all those past upheavals. However, they were unable to make the inside story known to the public. However, trust me, they had always been keeping a close watch on its citizen, and they would do whatever they can to protect us from harm." Lin Naoi paused for a moment.
"They will act soon in the future. But I think the consequence of them getting explicitly involved in this would be huge." Lin Naoi made this judgement.
The conversation between the two lingered on. The lunch lasted for a few hours.
"Oh yes, if you find it hard to tell your uncle about it, let her out if someone offers to bail her out." Chu Feng suddenly digressed to this topic.
Lin Naoi looked at him without a response.
"Don't look at me weirdly. I advised you this because that mutant who has been having my back for all this time, like I said before, has an explosive temper. I was worried that he had already planned on doing some stupid things to avenge for me. What if that woman somehow dies under your watch? Then you will have to bear the blames for her 'accidental' death," Chu Feng said. He then added, "Is she your friend?"
"She refers herself as my bestie in front of others," Lin Naoi answered. She then frankly added that she had been on intimate terms with a man named Mu.
"Understood!" Chu Feng said.
At last, the two rose and took their leave, but before the two parted, Lin Naoi calmly approached him. Then, to Chu Feng's surprise, Lin Naoi wrapped her arm around his waist. She did not keep this hug-like gesture for long, but it was, undoubtedly, the most intimate gesture that had ever occurred between the couple.
"I said you owed me a hug… so… is this your redemption today?" Chu Feng sighed. He knew what the hug meant.
"Spending time with you had always been the most joyous memory in my life. However, that said, I hope you understand that I have never found myself having that kind of special feeling for you," Lin Naoi calmly said.
Lin Naoi had a tall and lanky physique. Her hair was smooth to the touch and pleasing to the eyes. Her cheeks were snow-white with a lovely rosy undertone. Although she had a frosty temperament, those pair of cherry lips and her slight build coupled with her inducing legs made her seem a bit gorgeous in a flirtatious way while maintaining a sense of cold elegance.
"Compensating me with just a hug to offset the damage dealt by your underling, then raking up those old things in the past for which even I held in contempt… Don't be like this… and don't worry… I… I know that the luck by which we were first brought together had long ended, so I won't bother you for what you have no interest in." Chu Feng shook his head in mixed feelings.
These were the words he had been told from the very beginning, and now they were truthfully confirmed.
Lin Naoi combed her hair, then the two walked out of the diner abreast. "I will give you a lift home," Lin Naoi offered.
"Thank you, but it's okay. I know you are busy, and I know that there are plenty of things which you will have to deal with. But still, it would be lovely if you can find me a car," Chu Feng said.
"Alright," Lin Naoi agreed. With a war right in the horizon, there were indeed many preparations for her to get busy in.
A silver sedan pulled out of a corner. There were two mutants in the car escorting Chu Feng back home.
Chu Feng exited the car when it finally arrived at his house. He waved at them to express his gratitude, then he saw them driving off speedily.
"Argh… I think I smell like beef." He stopped by the gate and sniffed his collar. The smell was quite intense indeed.
"Let me get down to some proper business first." Chu Feng turned around and headed off for the forest. On his way to its depth, Chu Feng dug out some high-caliber firearms from their hideouts.
These had all been the harvest of some of the most recent sieging at the enemies. He had been hoarding quite a number of them.
Chu Feng practiced shooting for what remained of that afternoon. Bullets were fired at consecutive shots until finally, his shots started to get dead accurate.
Ever since the beginning of his practice of that special breathing rhythm, every facet of his bodily function has been dramatically enhanced. In addition to that, the mastery of the Demon Ox Boxing Style also proved to be quite an effective method in building up a strong constitution.
After hours of shooting training, with the help of his acute sights and terrifying instincts, he had almost become the most outstanding shooter alive.
Chu Feng then set off for the county town. He arrived there by the fall of dusk.
He stood in the distance, studying the site at which most of the mutants from Deity were located. He silently watched like a predator as the unaware mutants went on with their business.
Their housings were scattered all around in the small town. Clearly, this was their strategy to prevent themselves from being bombarded by someone with firearms.
However, these mutants were only acting with caution in mind. Chu Feng supposed that people from Bodhi Genes would probably never engage in destructive activities in a frenzied manner in an area where civilians concentrated.
Fighters from the two groups had clashes during daytime, and no-one had ever expected the night to be any less frantic.
Late at night, the fight broke out as expected.
Chu Feng stayed hidden on a high ground, then when the clashes reached its most chaotic climax, he moved in stealthily under the cover of the dark night. He kept a distance from the fighting scene. His superhuman eyesight allowed him to catch every detail of the fighting happening on the battleground in sight while staying inconspicuous from those engaged in fights.
The many things he had learnt from Lin Naoi today had included the face of Wan Qing. She had shown him a photo of her, depicting every detail of her facial features. He waited and watched for a long while before finally he found her scurrying away amidst the combative crowd. Chu Feng said someone would bail her out, and sure enough they did.
"Did Mu put her on bail?"
Chu Feng observed the fighting scene in the distance. That woman was a mutant with quite a formidable strength. At this very moment, every memory from the past called back to his mind. His hatred culminated when the bright smile of that young girl emerged before him, then soon vanished into the void after a blinding explosion. Chu Feng's blood ran cold in his veins. He raised his gun, aimed at that abomination in the distance. With resolute, he pulled the triggered.
A splash of blood splattered, then a blood-curdling scream came after.
Chu Feng walked away without looking back at the tragic scene, vanishing into the darkness of the night as the fighting continued.