Zhou Quan dawdled and dithered. He sounded hesitant, but in the end, he agreed to tag along for the epic journey of dragon hunt.
The traumatic memory that came with the near-death experience had firmly engraved in his soul since last time. Even now, the vivid scenes would still, at times, display themselves before Zhou Quan's eyes, haunting his life at day, and dream at night. It had always been the same scene replayed in the same sequence over and over, day after day. First, he was chased by a bird of prey which had almost frightened him out of his wits. Then, it came the epic battle between Chu Feng and that team of elite soldiers. That scene was soul-stirring and blood-curdling to say the least.
Chu Feng and Yellow Ox travelled at a speed so great that the two managed to arrive at the town before Zhou Quan could even make his way out of the house.
Zhou Quan was still faltered in his resolve, but he had no alternatives but to summon up his courage and agree to be in Chu Feng's company. As he could see Chu Feng and Yellow Ox waiting for him at the entrance to the town, Zhou Quan slowed down his hesitant pace even further.
Chu Feng was dumbstruck upon sighting Zhou Quan at first, then he burst into a fit of uncontrollable laughter.
Zhou Quan had his hair permed. It was now an epic sleek-back that was curly as well. The excessive use of pomade was evident by the hair's shiny texture. It was thick and dense, making his skull look twice the size bigger than it used to be.
"What an unconventional hairstyle you've got there, man!" Chu Feng could not think of a better way to put it.
It had only been days since the two were last parted, but Zhou Quan seemed to have grown even slimmer. The opulence, the chubbiness, and the pot-belly used to be the features used to identify the unique man whom he was. But now, as days went by, the once portly man had been slowly approaching the other end of the spectrum. His once broad-in-the-beam physique had turned to a sylphlike figure.
"How are you suddenly getting so slim and slender? You're not taking slimming pills, are you?" Chu Feng joked.
Yellow Ox was taken by surprise as well. In the eyes of the calf, Zhou Quan was almost a different person now. From the once "Laughing Buddha" Chu Feng had used to vividly described him, Zhou Quan had turned into someone as thin as a bag of bones.
Zhou Quan was quite resentful. He pointed at the horns that extruded from his skull and said, "All the essence of my body had been absorbed by it. One day! One day, you will watch me as I saw this pair of bastards with an electric saw!"
The horns had indeed grown bulkier than before; but at the moment, not only were they heft, but they were primeval-looking as well.. Zhou Quan used to nickname Yellow Ox as "Demon Ox", but just as the adage went: "Every dog has its day." Zhou Quan now became the "Demon Ox" himself. The laugh was on him now.
Yellow Ox came closer to Zhou Quan, then gently caressed the hefty horns with his front hooves. A grin crept up to Yellow Ox's face, but it was not a grin of disdain or contempt, it was a smile to show its sympathy. The rare show of friendliness displayed by the calf then culminated in an affectionate patting on Zhou Quan's shoulders.
"Is there a message you're trying to convey?" Zhou Quan glowered at the calf, looking all alerted and vigilant. The calf's show of friendliness made Zhou Quan's skin creep with unease, because he had never been treated so nicely by the calf for once.
The relationship between the two had always been defined by a consistent unprovoked hostility. Even at times when neither of the two had done any real issues against each other, the mutual hatred was still there to trouble the two and their relationship.
"You look more handsome now." Yellow Ox wrote on the ground. Compliments given by Yellow Ox was something quite rarely to come by. In fact, Yellow Ox had never been keen in lending compliments to anyone, let alone to a bitter enemy like Zhou Quan himself.
Zhou Quan's felt quite flattered. He held his head high with doubled confidence, looking proud and dignified. To him, they were just a pair of protruding horns after all. In fact, in contrary to what the majority seemed to believe, Zhou Quan thought to himself that the new look granted by the horns might have actually turned himself into quite a handsome youth from time to time. And now, seeing how even Yellow Ox started to agree with him, Zhou Quan had never felt so at ease in his life.
However, Yellow Ox then added another remark, "I meant you're handsome amongst us, where 'us' being the beasts of the jungle."
"Oh, you bastard! I will fight you to the bitter end!" Zhou Quan raised his voice and shouted. He was exacerbated. It turned out that Yellow Ox had been referring him to as beast all this time. How could it not be exacerbating for a man wishing to have his vanity flattered and tickled, but in the end, all that he received turned out only to be another piece of mockery?
They trio headed for the primitive mountains once again, but the journey was saturated with the curses that Zhou Quan shouted in anger. The caustic remarks were supplemented by Yellow Ox's nonsensical bellows. Together, the two made a rather discordant choir that sounded rather unpleasing to the ears of Chu Feng.
At last, the three was near the mountains.
The first sight of the dense jungles that were looming on the mountains near and afar in the distance made Zhou Quan shiver in fear. The memory of the last experience still haunted Zhou Quan until this day.
"Hmm… how about we slowly make our way into the mountains, as opposed to…" Zhou Quan quietly mumbled. He wanted some time to adapt to the environment before he treaded too deep into the unknown.
However, before he could even finish talking, he suddenly leapt into the air, then started bolting like a wild horse.
Right in the of him, a spider that measured over three meters in height fell from mid-air. The spider did not pause there either. Zhou Quan sprinted like a mad man, but the spider scurried even faster.
"Ah. F*ck me! Not again!" Zhou Quan gave a blood-curdling scream.
Zhou Quan still had a profound sense of fear lingering in him every time he was reminded of the journey he had the misfortune to experience.
However, he knew that the more he was willing to harden himself through experiences like this, the more firm and tenacious of a man he would become. These were the qualities he needed to survive in the future.
Chu Feng had told him that many beasts and birds of prey across the globe were mutating in greater number than the mutants. Even though the majority was still hibernating deep in the wilderness of mountains and forests, it was only a matter of time for them to start wreaking havoc in the world outside.
In the vast virgin forest populated by deciduous trees, the withered leaves had formed inches of layers above the soggy soil. They then degraded into soil, providing rich nutrient for the growth of plants and vegetation.
There were vines that had trunks thicker than a water vat, and there were trees that had grown a full crown that could blot out the sky and the sun. Their trunks were bulky and thick as well, like a giant column that were single-handedly supporting the weight of the heaven above.
Trees like this came in acres in the forest. The air was also thick with miasma. The constitution of a normal person would not stand the filth that suffused the air. Their bodies would not withstand the challenge posed by the adverse environment.
Fog billowed in mid-air. The dense vegetation was coupled with the smothering smog to blot out the sky and the sun wholly. However, at times, the trio could still see the soaring ventures that were haunting the heaven above.
These birds of prey winged their way across the sky, like a patch of cloud blotting out the sky and the sun to remind those who were treading below of its existence.
At the same time, recurrent roars of beasts rose one after another.
The forest felt like a drastically different world in the eyes of all those who dared to venture in. Nothing could remind these venturers of the world outside, since nothing seemed normal in an ordinary sense.
"Are we coming here to… hunt for dragons?!" Zhou Quan was in disbelief. There had never been a dragon traversing through space in this world before.
Chu Feng was in doubt as well. Was there really a dragon hibernating in the depth of this mountain? If so, would they prove to be a match for this legendary beast?
Yellow Ox nodded. The calf confirmed the existence of a dragon.
At the same time, the calf also looked a bit flustered and solemn. It reminded Chu Feng that care must be taken when battling the beast itself. He would not be able to afford to be careless.
"Do you mean, you wanted me to hunt for the dragon myself?" Chu Feng widened his eyes.
"Of course!" Yellow Ox wrote on the ground.
"I reckon the calf was born to hoodwink others. Don't listen to it!" Zhou Quan said.
Yellow Ox cast a side glance at him, looking all evil and malicious. Then, the calf signalled for Chu Feng to bring him along for the hunt so that he could take this opportunity and harden himself.
Yellow Ox's words made Zhou Quan's feel chilly all over. He sealed his mouth at once, too afraid to speak anymore. It was Yellow Ox who had enraged that monstrosity of a monkey last time then led it to him. It was an experience that almost scared him out of his wits, and ever since then, Zhou Quan had learnt it the hard way: never piss off the calf no matter what.
The forest became more and more precipitous. Every muck of dirt, and every block of wood screamed primeval. Occasionally, the three would also have to hold onto the protruding rocks and climb up a precipitous cliff. Clearly, the three were sailing across not just one, but many mountains, one after another, towards another region beyond the depths of the mountains.
In the end, they even had to sail across a few marshlands to reach their destination.
At last, the destination was near. Yellow Ox started to gradually slow down.
On the road ahead, the trees started becoming less denses than before. The earth also felt dry and solid, as opposed to humid and soft. The ground was peppered with phony-looking boulders and stones, and the air was filled with filth that was thought to belong to the lingering evil spirits.
This region was markedly different from the area that surrounded it. There was a sense of insidious danger lurking in the air.
Miasma grew especially thick here. Occasionally, a few beasts of prey passed by, but all chose to flee from the area. The three had arrived at an area where others feared to tread.
This was their destination!
Yellow Ox signalled. There was a stagnant pool of water in the direction ahead, and beside the pool of foul water, there was a stone forest, within which, there was a sizeable area of vacant lot where white bones of the dead piled.
They were bones of a variety of beasts, which seemed to have all been devoured by the same creature. Meat had all been deprived, while the bones were arbitrarily disposed on that area of vacant lot.
Deeper into that area of vacant space, miasma grew even thicker. The trio had not seen any beasts or birds of prey yet, but Chu Feng could feel the evil spirits that suffused the air ripping into his face. This was a place of true terror.
Yellow Ox refused to move any further. It retreated a few steps back alongside Zhou Quan. Chu Feng was now left all on his own.
Chu Feng took a deep breath, then with big strides, Chu Feng braced himself to walk towards that vacant lot.
Far away from all the action stood Zhou Quan and the calf. The scene was a nerve-wrenching one to say the least. He watched as Chu Feng moved closer and closer. The stress almost made Zhou Quan cease breathing. "Was there really a dragon there?" Zhou Quan thought to himself.
Miasma started to clear up when wind finally went breezing. It was at that very moment that the sight ahead of him finally became transparent; and it was also that very moment when Zhou Quan's body turned stiff. He almost started yelling like a petty girl: what he saw had truly made his blood run cold.
It was a pair of eyes gawking out of the misty air. They were as big as a lantern, and they were cold and unfeeling. They were the eyes of a grand beast!
Chu Feng got goosebumps all over his body upon the sight of this colossal beast.
The beast had a hefty size. It was at least ten meters in height. The entire length of the beast's prolonged body was thick with scales. It was a monstrosity of a beast, and the anterior of it was peeking out of the thickness of the clouds, overlooking Chu Feng from a great height.
The pupils of the beast shone with a silver brilliance, frightening all those who dared to look at the beast in the eyes.
The moment the beast showed itself, it unleashed its barbarity and its terrifying wilderness. It dashed its way towards Chu Feng at such a speed that the earth was sent to tremble with each step it made.
Chu Feng shunned the beast's rampaging blow.
The tail of the beast easily crashed a pile of boulders that the stone forest comprised. Despite the size and the solidity of the boulders, they were of no match in face of this formidable beast.
Chu Feng could finally see the entirety of the beast. It had the same appearance as a tyrannosaur, but the scales were all silver. It reached a height of at least ten meters. The scales were all brilliantly polished.
The silver tyrannosaur once again started swinging its formidable tail. Despite its size, the beast's motion was swift and agile. The swing stirred up the air current in the atmosphere, rendering the battleground a gusty hell with gales ripping into Chu Feng's face.
Chu Feng shunned the beast's swinging tail once again. Having missed its target, the tail then struck on the boulders that had stood for decades in the stone forest. Many boulders were crushed, while the others were left as piles of pulverized powder.
"Roar…" The silver tyrannosaur bellowed. The blaring roar then echoed between the walls of the stone structure, tripling the magnitude of the bellowing roar.
Was this what Yellow Ox had referred to as dragon?!
Chu Feng started trembling in fear. "Wasn't this a dinosaur?" he thought to himself; however, even as a dinosaur, it was still much heftier than those that were described in the archaeological studies.
"Is this the dragon you were referring to?" In the far distance, Zhou Quan's voice had started trembling in fear.
Although Zhou Quan had separated himself far from the battle, he could still perceive the magnitude of the sheer horror posed by the tyrannosaur. In terms of the fear that it could inspire in its beholders, the beast could easily surpass all the others whom he had previously encountered. Its silver scales were glimmering with a silver light. Even the boulders could not make a scratch on the scales. Zhou Quan started to question Yellow Ox's judgement of allowing Chu Feng to go single-handedly challenge such monstrosity of a beast.
A man seemed so insignificant in front of it. The possibility of winning the fight was miserably infinitesimal.
In that opening amidst the stone forest, the fight began!
Chu Feng took the initiative and launched his first assault on the beast. He took advantage of the superhuman speed he possessed and dashed to the beast's side. Then, with all strength exerted, Chu Feng bombarded the beast with a continual sequence of boxing.
The sound that was made when Chu Feng's fist clashed with the beast's scales was ear-splitting. The beast's scales were thicker than steel. There was even a metallic trill after the initial bang.
Chu Feng was astounded by the solidity of the beast's scales. This was not a beast but a monster, a monster whose skin and flesh were firm and tenacious. Its first line of defense was constituted by a thick layer of metallic scales which were almost impossible to break through. With this sort of defense, how could Chu Feng possibly slay the dragon and claim its tendon?
Then, he realized something odd. The beast seemed to have been keeping a strange breathing rhythm. Its breathing was kept at a rather odd pace when the beast attacked.
"Does it know the special breathing rhythm as well?" Chu Feng was astounded.
No wonder the beast was so powerful and so resistant to the blow his fists had delivered. Chu Feng could crush a boulder that weighed a thousand jin, but as his fist landed on the beast's skin, the impact seemed to be of no avail. It was the special breathing rhythm that helped the beast to deflect the force delivered by the fatal blow.
The realization of the beast's mastery of the breathing technique stirred up a surge of emotion in Chu Feng.
The expression in his eyes suddenly shifted. He carefully observed the rhythm at which the tyrannosaur breathed. Obviously, the tyrannosaur was only following the form of the breathing technique. There was no "substance", as what Yellow Ox had once called them, beneath that superficial layer of form. Even the form itself was coarse and crude. The techniques were no match to the one practiced by Yellow Ox.
In comparison, the sheer size of the beast and its coarse and thick skin contributed more to the cause of its impenetrable defense.
It was, all in all, unexpected for Chu Feng to see a wild animal knowing the special breathing rhythm. However unorthodox its technique was, Chu Feng still felt that he was in a tight fix.
But, to his relief, the beast's speed, though faster than any of the other beasts in the jungle, was still much tardier than Chu Feng. Moreover, the punches that Chu Feng landed on the beast's body was not ineffective at all. As the attack became more and more frequent, the beast started to show signs of its pain. The look in its eyes became more and more ruthless and tyrannical.
In the distance far away, Yellow Ox motioned Zhou Quan to prepare himself for his turn of steeling and hardening.
Zhou Quan was taken aback. "Do you think it's alright for me to just leave my friend here alone, all by himself? What if he is eaten by that beastly tyrannosaur?"
Yellow Ox lowered its head without demur, then it ran its horns into Zhou Quan's bottom.
"Ah…" Zhou Quan skipped into the air, then hastily tried to make his getaway.
Soon later, from the depth of the dense jungle came the panic-stricken screams of Zhou Quan as he plunged into an abyss of suffering. The calf persisted on his chase after Zhou Quan. The whole forest was startled by his scream. Many beasts and birds of prey were awakened from their hibernation.
Here came the rite of passage for Zhou Quan yet again!
After half an hour, when Zhou Quan finally shook off a python whose body was stained with a riot of color, he returned to the place where all started. He saw Chu Feng's fighting with the beast continued.
One hour later, Zhou Quan was deadbeat and worn out. He jetted out a column of flame and charred a two-meter bat who had been chasing after him in hope to claim his life, but which was now nothing but a stiff and lifeless body.
When he and his worn-out body finally returned to the original spot, he realized that the main fight persisted.
However, the fight had come close to an end. Chu Feng was almost exhausted as well. His clothes had become all tattered and ruined, exposing the sweat-stained muscles underneath.
The silver beast's breathing came with a gruff noise. The air that current spewed forth from its nostrils seemed alike to a column of silver flame. The breath delivered a significant impact that was powerful enough to quiver the giant trees that surrounded the battleground.
The beast's only chance of survival was to defeat this man before him, but Chu Feng seemed to have somehow stripped many of its scales off its body. The wounded parts of its body exposed a grimy mixture of blood and flesh. The scene was gory to say the least.
The beast's pupil had a silver shine that made its eyes look both frosty and ruthless. The beast gaped open its bloody mouth, brandishing its teeth that were cutting as the sharpest broadsword. The teeth were so sharp that the beast could easily shear the meat and crush the bones of any of its enemies.
It was the last bellow roared by the beast.
The beast's breathing rhythm suddenly became quite eccentric. The irregular pattern of its breath made its entire body quiver and tremble. As if there were a mysterious force on the verge of bursting out, the beast suddenly became all delirious and frenzied.
Although Chu Feng was completely exhausted at this point, he was still wholly concentrated on his enemy. The resolute to slay the dragon and acquire its tendon had never wavered.
Chu Feng drew the most powerful force in his body then stored them in his fists. He had also grasped the specific rhythm at which the beast breathed. He wanted to break this rhythm with his formidable fists.
He leaped into the air, then made an unceasing effort to land his fists onto every part of the beast's body. He bombarded the beast with a whole set of the Demon Ox Boxing Style. At the same time, he also carried out the special breathing exercise within him. This enhanced the power of his punches tenfold and ensured that every punch was delivered to cause tremendous inflictions to the beast.
His judgement was right and on point, so were his punches. The fists landed on the beast's throat, chest, abdomen as well as its nostrils. Then, as expected, the breathing rhythm of the beast became chaotic and disorderly.
Strips of blood stain suddenly cropped out one after another. The beast's skin begun to burst apart in mid-air. Then, at last, blood spewed in columns and flew in all directions.
"The dragon is slain!" In the distance, Zhou Quan cheered.
Yellow Ox also emerged out of the void. It then entered the now blood-stained opening where the battle was held.
The silver beast tumbled and fell. It plummeted into the earth below. The impact of this mass of tumbling weight quivered the earth and trembled the forest. The blood from its body trickled down the slope of the mountain and converged into a flowing river of warm blood.
Chu Feng perched by this mountain of flesh that the corpse of the dead beast had constructed. He wanted to move no more. He panted and gasped as blood dribbled down at the corner of his mouth. The tail of the beast had glanced by his face, but luckily, the injury was not fatal.
It was a bitter fight and a hard struggle, but after all, the beast was slain and the tendons were to be acquired.
"We've got the dragon's tendon now. Let's repair the Thunderous as soon as we arrive home. Tomorrow, we will come here again. Tomorrow, it will be the time for our bow to relive the legend!" Chu Feng breathlessly said.