Chu Feng was careful on his way back. He tensed the muscle of his body to seal his breath and the scent of his body inside himself, leaving no trails for others to follow.
Who was that man in the yard? Chu Feng looked in the direction of his house with bated breath.
It was the silhouette of a man who had his back towards Chu Feng. He was cladded in a bizarre suit of clothes, made entirely out of flax and linen.
The strange man in the yard first bowed to the Mountains of Taihang then crouched down, digging up the earth in the yard. It seemed as if the man were looking for something.
The look on Chu Feng's face drastically changed when he realized that the site where the man was digging was where the parterre was located. All the three seeds he brought from the mountains of Kunlun had been buried there, and with all that hope and expectation he had been having, how could Chu Feng stand to see them being unearthed by some random stranger?
He thrust himself forward with his fist giving off rumbles of a deafening thunder.
That man was quick to react. He turned around and greeted Chu Feng with his fist as well. The fists of the two clashed in mid-air, and suddenly, sand started flying and pebbles started rolling. The whole place was shaken by the blow.
Chu Feng felt numb in the hand; he glared at this intruder with an angry glower.
That strange man was also looking back at Chu Feng. His eyes were wide open as he pulled off the linen clothes that had been covering that body of his underneath. It was Yellow Ox!
"How come you are still alive?" Yellow Ox quickly wrote on the ground. It seemed almost like fantasy for the calf to see Chu Feng well and alive.
Chu Feng clenched his fists and gritted his teeth in furious indignation. "How dare this goddamned cow curse me like this?" After all that they had been through, he still couldn't win the slightest share of sympathy from this apathetic cow. How he wished he could shove some more expired roast skews down its throat and watch it suffering in agony!
Yellow Ox mooed and bellowed. It started writing on the ground to fill Chu Feng with some of its epic journey as it ran from that deadly snake.
Despite the fact that it was proven that there was a streak of cowardice inside the black yak as it started fleeing helter-skelter, with hindsight, one had to admit the yak was at least skilful at making its getaway. The yak brought Yellow Ox by its side as it fiercely darted out from the Mountains of Taihang, and this made sure that both were able to escape from the dooming clutch of that snake.
Afterwards, the black yak told Yellow Ox that he would fight the white snake to a bitter end had it not had to worry about the safety of this cumbersome calf by its side as well.
Yellow Ox only half believed what the yak said, so the calf immediately asked the yak to head back to rescue Chu Feng after Yellow Ox had gotten to safety.
The black yak candidly agreed. It turned around and headed into the danger of the mountains without demur once again. At that moment, the black yak had washed away all that show of cowardice from earlier on and displayed what bravery and true honor really was.
No long after, the black yak came back, but with a sorry look. The yak told the calf that it was minutes too late when it got there, and that Chu Feng had died in the battle. Driven by profound anger, the yak had fought a fierce battle with the white snake, razing the entire mountain range to the ground, but it still could not defeat the snake. In the end, the yak had no choice but to give in and retreated.
The yak consoled the yak with a tirade of mollifying remarks, saying that after all, the two had not met for more than a few days anyway, so there was no need to get overly grievous.
This story struck Chu Feng dumb before he started cursing, "What a f*cking spinner of yarns! Why doesn't that cow just go to hell? What 'fierce battle'? 'What razing the mountains to the ground'? The yak did not even show its face there!"
Having heard this, Yellow Ox was too at a loss for words.
The calf felt ashamed. "This black yak was even more brazen than me!" the calf thought to itself. Without having done anything, the yak still swaggered with that almighty heroic manner. How shameless!
"The yak's existence is a misfortune for my family. Knowing that such a degenerate belongs to my family, I feel ashamed too," Yellow Ox wrote.
"You're not better than him in any way! Stealing my seeds as soon as you got here. Where is the grief for the loss of a friend? Why were you not crying, you no-good son of a b*tch?" Chu Feng glowered at the calf.
Yellow Ox refused to accept Chu Feng's accusation. The calf said that it had already showed its grief by bowing when facing the Mountains of Taihang. It was as much as it could do.
"Stop with your groundless quibble. Where is the cone? Where are the seeds? Hurry up! Let's start sharing in the spoils!" Chu Feng was rather straightforward this time. He looked at Yellow Ox up and down, knowing that the calf and that yak must have harvested some quite sizeable gains.
"Nothing is left anymore. They had all gone into the digestive tract of that brazen yak," Yellow Ox wrote on the ground before it hastily took a few steps back. The calf remained vigilant.
Chu Feng knew from the first sight that this calf must have been hiding quite a sizable collection of pine seeds with it right now. Without demur, Chu Feng thrust himself onto the calf's defenseless body and started coercing the calf to hand out the seeds.
In the end, Yellow Ox gave in. The calf agreed to share some with Chu Feng.
It was not that Yellow Ox was a generous being; the calf agreed to give the seeds out because it felt like that there was no need to keep so many seeds with it anyway.
That cone was almost the size of the fist of an adult. There were one hundred and twelves seeds in total, and at least half of those had been kept with themselves after the calf and the black yak got the cone.
After the two had reached to safety, the black yak ate like a ravenous man, swallowing almost thirty seeds with one bite. Afterwards, the yak smacked its lips and realized that it might not need to have consumed so many of those seeds in one go. Just a few was enough to serve the purpose.
Later, the yak went to find a place to rest and take a break. The yak wanted to know that if a deep relaxing slumber after ingesting those seeds would enable it to evolve even further.
Yellow Ox, on the other hand, made its way back home. The calf was going to dig out and take the seeds that had been brought back from the Mountains of Kunlun by the now "late" Chu Feng.
"You didn't tell that black yak anything about these seeds, did you?" Chu Feng had his own concern about that one swindler of a yak. If the existence of these seeds were to let known to the yak, there would be no way for him to keep them under his possession any longer.
"No way I would tell that bastard!" Yellow Ox had its hand on its heart, vouching that it would never let the black yak know about this secret between them.
Then, the two went on sharing in the spoils. Yellow Ox had thirty-six pine nuts with it in total. Every single one of them was extraordinarily large, plump and sparkling. An alluring glitter in the color of purple gathered and flowed through the surface of all those seeds.
The cone nuts were very much like a collection of purple agates. One would have known that these were extraordinary seeds by just looking at them.
The nuts had their unique smell of fragrance. The smell was delicate and refreshing, putting everyone at ease.
"Will I grow a tail or a pair of horns after eating these nuts?" Chu Feng was hesitating.
He was eager to try, but he also feared the consequences.
These mysterious nuts contained juice and flesh that would enable the one who consumed to unlock inconceivable power and skills.
The astute Yellow Ox was also standing by Chu Feng's side, listening and observing in all serious manner. The calf nodded, admitting that the fastest way to undergo a complete transformation of the body and mind was to use pollens but not fruits.
Chu Feng noticed that unprecedented level of seriousness that Yellow Ox was at, so he asked further about the reason why this would have been the case.
Yellow Ox was ignorant of the inside story as well, but in the world from which the calf came, there were many religious Holy Lands that required their disciples to evolve through ingestion of flower pollens.
As to fruits, these disciples were told to keep away from any of those exotic fruits and rare seeds.
Therefore, Yellow Ox conjectured that eating those fruits must have been some kind of corrupt practices that should be avoided at all cost.
"Of course." Yellow Ox later added, "There are always exceptions to these rules. I know a few top-tier fighters who gained their power through ingestion of fruits, seeds and nuts, so there must have been a way to avoid the negative effect and extract the benefits fully."
Chu Feng wanted to know more, but Yellow Ox seemed not to be willing to say more about the world from which it came.
This had made things more difficult for the two. The nuts were right in front of them. It was of no doubt that these nuts were excellent catalyst to expedite their evolution of power, but Chu Feng was rather hesitant. He was not sure if he was willing to risk his life for something unknown.
Yellow Ox was eating the nuts. The calf could not even be bothered to peel off the thick rind of these seeds; instead, it swallowed the whole thing in one bite. Then, the calf began to carefully feel the changes inside its body.
Chu Feng felt like he was being cheated on. Why would the calf not worry about the pitfalls of eating these nuts like it stated? There were no measures taken to ensure that it would not be negatively affected either. Why was the calf not afraid?
"Demon Ox!" he shouted.
Yellow Ox had gone all tipsy and mellow after eating the nuts. It was to its surprise that these seeds would have taken such a rapid and drastic effect on the physiological function of its body. The calf felt that it was overflowing with heat inside its body; at the same time, the calf felt a bit drunken too.
Chu Feng noticed the bizarre changes that had occurred. He felt like it was the perfect opportunity to steal a few words of truth from the calf's mouth seeing how drunk and unaware the calf looked.
"Are you not afraid? What if the negative effects of ingesting these fruits revealed themselves on you?"
Yellow Ox was still a cocky bastard even when its senses might not have been as sharp as they used to be. The calf wrote on the ground, "Have you not seen this beautiful golden hue of my fur and my horns? I am a different beast from the rest of the crowd."
"What awful gibberish are you talking about?" How Chu Feng wished that he could slap the calf for its frivolous and arrogant attitudes.
"There are always a few creatures existing in this world who are given that extra bit of love and care by the gods. Praise be to Heaven! Amen!" Yellow Ox added this line of words, then the calf remained silent again.
In the end, the calf swallowed twelve nuts in total, then it stopped.
In fact, the calf could feel that the mysterious change that had been happening to its body ceased upon the ingestion of the tenth nut. Devouring any more of these nuts would unlikely to result in any further effects.
Chu Feng was still at loss as to whether to eat the seeds.
At the same time, he was also reminded of the white snake who had claimed to massacre the inhabitants of all nearby conquered cities. If that were to be the case, the two should start evacuating from this village as soon as they could.
"Don't worry," Yellow Ox wrote. The calf told Chu Feng that the white snake was a beast of honor. If the beast claimed that it would wreak havoc in a conquered city, it would not go beyond its words and harm a small village.
"How do you know that?"
The calf candidly admitted that these were the words of the black yak. What the yak said must have been the truth, otherwise, the yak would not let Yellow Ox come back to Qingyang Village at all.
Chu Feng frowned. "Maybe the kings of the beast know each other better than anyone else," he thought to himself. However, the fact that the snake would go on butchering two-city-worth of population was horrifying to learn nevertheless.
"Has Zhou Quan made it out alright?" Chu Feng pulled out his communicator and rang up.
After just a few beeps, the line was connected. Zhou Quan was still alive, and he had made his way back to the county town in which he had been living.
Zhou Quan was injured, but he sounded nothing like a man who had just been through the trauma of a near-death experience. Despite all that craze and killings, Zhou Quan did not sound like he needed a psychiatrist to help him heal the psychological trauma at all.
Chu Feng was curious about the injury. Zhou Quan told him that that pair of horns that had been growing on his head had come off. One was snapped as a result of a falling boulder on his head, and the other splintered after the tail of that white snake whipped across over his head.
But the fact that he was still alive was still a stroke of good luck in a stretch of bad.
"I was so scared man! You saw how big that bloody snake was? Holy buttery sweet Jesus! I can't believe it! I will forever stay in the safety of my house from now on. The world outside is way too deadly for me." Zhou Quan considered himself lucky to have escaped danger. At the same time, he was pleased with himself that he could finally get rid of that hideous pair of horns in the end.
"Get out of the town as soon as you can. I suppose the snake will start its carnage from there!" Chu Feng warned.
"I know!" Zhou Quan was worried too. He asked if the place where Chu Feng lived was any safer. His family had to go somewhere to take refuge, at least temporarily.
"Certainly! Come here and join me. I will cater for you and your family!" Chu Feng was quite an outspoken man.
Zhou Quan drove his car over to Chu Feng's place. The car that brought the family here seemed to have almost fallen apart. Fearing that they might encounter the murderous snake, Zhou Quan speed all his way from the town to the village via the ruined highway. The road was in a terrible state of dilapidation; there were bumps throughout the road trip on the highway, but Zhou Quan dared to get even a tad slower.
Sure enough, the horns on the man's head were now gone, but the man himself was in quite low spirits. He had been wounded quite badly, and this was well reflected by the bloodstained shirt in which he clothed.
"These are my parents," Zhou Quan introduced his family. With his help by the arm, two elders leisurely ambled out of the car. The old couple seemed quite pale; partly because they were frightened, but mostly because their maniac son had driven the car too speedily. They had thrown up couple of times on their journey.
"How are you, my dear uncle and auntie?" Chu Feng greeted.
The two elders looked quite run-down with illness. They needed some rest.
There was a vacant house just rear to the one in which Chu Feng lived. The family in that house had moved out a long time ago. In this time of emergency, there was no need for courtesy. Therefore, without the slightest hesitation or regard for his neighbor, Chu Feng opened the lock to that house and arranged Zhou Quan's family in there.
After all, there was a Yellow Ox that was roaming free in the yard at his own house in addition to a black yak who might show itself at the yard at any time now. It would not be ideal to scare the two elders with these bizarre-looking creatures, especially when they were already quite run-down with illness.
"You are quite badly injured, man. You have fractured bones in you; do you know that?" Chu Feng was shocked when he realized that despite the fact there were fractured rib bones in Zhou Quan, he was still clenching his teeth, enduring the intense pain and not letting a single sound of mourning heard by his parents.
After moments of hesitation, Chu Feng passed to Zhou Quan a handful of pine nuts.
"This is…" Zhou Quan was astounded. He immediately guessed what these were.
"Don't say a word. Eat them!" Chu Feng turned around and walked away without demur.
By the time he came back to his own house, he found that Yellow Ox had awakened from its deep slumber. There were a pair of golden rays jetting out of the calf's pupils. Chu Feng could sense that the energy level in the air surrounding the calf had drastically increased!
"Where is Kong Kim? Has he left Taihang Mountains? I miss him!" Yellow Ox's strength and power had greatly improved, and the first man to enter his mind was Kong Kim.
What? Chu Feng was dumbfounded.
Yellow Ox looked all arrogant and unyielding. The calf wanted to try and see if his newly acquired power could allow it to knock out Kong Kim with just a few stomps on the head.
Chu Feng was rendered quite speechless by the amount of grudge the calf was holding against Kong Kim, especially given that it was the calf and the yak who attempted to launch that crooked dishonorable attack behind Kong Kim's back in the first place. It was only because the attack did not immediately knock him out that the calf had now developed profound hatred towards a man who had fallen to be its victim in the first place!
Yellow Ox was an extraordinary beast alright. Despite that the calf ingesting that many seeds and nuts all at once, there were no substantial differences in its appearance at all. There were no additional scales or feathers growing; the calf looked just like itself.
The calf told Chu Feng that a pine tree was not an ordinary tree in the first place. It was green throughout all season, not afraid of the coldness of the snow or the scorching heat of the sun whatsoever. When it mutated, the fruit and the seeds that grew on it would prove ten times more potent than those that were growing on any other species.
Chu Feng agreed. The abundant amount of cone nuts contained in one cone was enough to supply the evolutionary needs of several people at one go. This was the true potential and the real asset of the mutated pine tree.
"Did you find any strange chunks of dirt underneath the tree?" Chu Feng was quite concerned about this as well.
Yellow Ox nodded. The calf looked all confident and optimistic. It told Chu Feng that this time, it would make all three seeds that he had collected at the foot of Kunlun Mountains take root and sprout!
Chu Feng was wild with joy.