Lin Naoi had arrived. Her hair went drifting in the soft evening breeze. Underneath the sparkling radiance of a full moon, her slender build seemed to have been enshrouded by a layer of halo that looked both soft and gentle. She breezed along then paused at the gate of Chu Feng's house.
Chu Feng sprang to his feet. The yard gate was not closed, so he could see the silhouette of this past lover of his bathing in the brilliant moonlight. Chu Feng ushered her in.
Lin Naoi nodded at him as a form of courtesy. At the same time, she was also sizing up everything that was in display in the yard. Standing out against the hazy moonlight around her torso, this fine lady looked all the more delicate and refined, looking as if she were a female divinity descending from the heaven above.
"I come without invitation," she said. Although she sounded quite cold and indifferent, it was done on purpose. Lin Naoi had always been someone with such trait.
"My honor to welcome you into my humble abode," Chu Feng replied with a smile.
"What a shame that my parents are away today. They often talk about you, and they always wanted to see you personally. They will be very pleased to know that you have come to visit me today." Chu Feng was smiling still. He was in all willingness to cosy up to her in this way.
"You're always like this. Saying something different from what you think." Lin Naoi cast a sidelong glance at Chu Feng then followed him into the house.
"I've always been frank and honest with you. What I say is what I think. There is nothing I can hide when I see you. The words of truth just naturally flow out of my mouth." Chu Feng stayed rather composed when he spelt out his words.
"Is this the place where you live?" Lin Naoi is an experienced and knowledgeable girl, but she still seemed somewhat surprised right now.
This was the first time ever that she had called on Chu Feng personally at his house, so she was indeed a bit curious and a little surprised. She carefully examined every inch of the room, as if she were looking for something.
"Conduct yourself, ma'am!" Chu Feng reminded.
Lin Naoi glowered at him; she was at a loss of word.
"You're a goddess for us 'otaku', just to remind you; so, you shouldn't act out your curiosity for another man's room that much, am I right? This really spoils your image," Chu Feng frivolously said.
"You aren't hiding anything in your room, are you?" Lin Naoi stepped into Chu Feng's bedroom, looking all natural and at ease.
"What but the world's most splendid beauty could have been hidden in my bedroom?" Chu Feng put on airs, looking all insolent and rude. He gazed at that charming face of hers then swayed his eyesight directly to that pair of alluring legs that this woman had.
In fact, however, Chu Feng was a little diffident inside. That black dagger was hidden just under the quilt. He had not anticipated that Lin Naoi would have entered his house then his room.
It was this very dagger that killed Mu then injured Silver Wing at the mountain of White Snake. Chu Feng was hesitant as to whether he should tell her the truth.
However, he was quite worried too. He worried that some antagonistic sentiments might thus develop between them.
Lin Naoi had always been a woman of utter coldness. Normally, who would have dared to gawk at her legs like this? She stretched out her arm and pushed aside Chu Feng's face then walked out of Chu Feng's bedroom.
Chu Feng soon followed. He stroked his own face and said, "Excuse me? Were you taking advantage of me just now?"
Lin Naoi ignored him. The two headed straight outside.
Moonlight bathed the world with its soothing light; the orchid farm nearby was also giving off a pleasant mixture of the scent of fruits and the fragrance of the flowers. The lovely aroma suffused the air with its unparalleled sweetness.
The climate was changing. Although it was late autumn already, but flowers were still booming and more were to come. Along the branches, fruit and flowers clustered together, putting up an odd combination of growth and harvesting.
"Your house is quite a serene place to live. I find it rather easy to calm myself just by sitting here," Lin Naoi said.
Chu Feng sat next to Lin Naoi by a comfortable rattan chair; he was no longer smiling mischievously. He brought a cup of green tea and served it to Lin Naoi. "I think you're exhausting yourself, Naoi," Chu Feng said.
Chu Feng spoke sincere words. All that have happened that morning were still being vividly displayed inside his head. What were the people from Deity fighting? A gigantic snake it was; a snake had caused thousands to die and hundreds to be wounded.
Lin Naoi was in charge of the whole operation, so failure would naturally mean that there would be immense pressure that she would have to burden alone.
"Have you read the news?" Lin Naoi asked.
"Yes, yes I have. And I was very worried about you." Chu Feng nodded.
The appearance of this White Snake today was not what everyone had expected, especially when it was a snake that could not be killed by even the deadliest weapons known to men. Even Buddha's disciple was so far still hanging between life and death after that battle against the beast.
"Why are you still lingering here? Aren't you afraid of the danger?" Lin Naoi gazed at him with a look that was both deep and profound.
"I will not leave until you safely make it out of danger," Chu Feng said.
Lin Naoi did not respond to his words. She was still calm and collected.
"Alright, I will tell you the truth then. Do you remember that old man who had once promised my parents to guard me safely out of here? He went into the mountains today as well. Before he went, he asked to stay here and wait for him to come back." Chu Feng passed the teacup into Lin Naoi's hands.
"He is injured, so I guess right now, he must be hiding somewhere to recuperate; but he seemed fine to me, so I believe we should be able start heading out of this place before long," Chu Feng added.
"What an interesting man," Lin Naoi remarked, then she smiled. Her lips were cherry red and her teeth were pearl white. She smiled such a dazzling smile.
At this moment under this brilliant moonlight, her whole face started emitting a dazzling bright radiance. Even the strands of her hair had become sparkling and crystal-clear.
Chu Feng put his hand on his chest, gazing at the wondrous beauty with rapt attention. His stare fixated on her.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm looking at you, but your smile is too splendid for me to beast, so I have to widen my eyes in order to take you into my sight; at the same time, my heart is racing too, so I've got to press it with my hand to avoid it from pouncing out of my chest."
"None of that nonsense, please!"
"I'm serious! I swear to god! You know that I've always been an open and sincere man!" Chu Feng brought his hand off his chest, but his glaring stare still fixated on her as he said, "I've said it before and I'll say it again. Your smile is the deadliest killer in this world. No-one could resist your charm, trust me!"
Lin Naoi was still calm and collected, unflattered by Chu Feng's words. She looked in the direction of the orchid farm where serenity and tranquillity dominated. The brilliance of the moon scattered over the branches of the trees; everything was dim and hazy, as if the forest had been given a fine gauze to wear.
"What kind of life do you wish you can have?" in the end, she turned her head to Chu Feng and asked.
"Quiet. Serene. Tranquil. Of course, I need passion and fervor now and then as well. Just some excitement and surprise at times are enough for me," Chu Feng replied without the slightest hesitation.
Lin Naoi smiled, but she turned her head away from facing Chu Feng, just in case that this horny man sitting on the opposite side would start fixating his gaze on her once again.
"No, this is not right. You've got to show me that unmatched beauty when you smile. What a waste if no-one sees it, don't you think?" Chu Feng was quite thick-skinned. He moved even closer to Lin Naoi in order to catch a better sight of her smile.
Lin Naoi turned to him and said, "The life you asked for seems simple, but in reality, it's very hard to get nowadays. I'm afraid… that soon there will be not even a patch of land where serenity like this can persist."
Chu Feng knew what she was referring to. The world was changing alongside the evolution of many worldly creatures. Many horrific beasts started to emerge, making the future of the world all the more unpredictable.
"Do you like fighting?" Lin Naoi asked him.
"No." Chu Feng shook his head.
Lin Naoi remained silent for a long time. She was staring at the mountains in the distance.
"But I guess, the world seldom functions according to the likings of either you or me. Sometimes, choice has to be made to contradict ourselves; but what else are we left with?" Chu Feng later added.
"Go. Go to Shuntian City. It's a metropolis in the northern region. It has all the peace and serenity you asked for," Lin Naoi paused before she continued, "at least for now… I've already made arrangement for you. There's a chopper right outside your yard. Leave now, and don't come back. This place is not safe anymore."
"Are you here to send me away?" Chu Feng softly asked as he calmly gazed at her.
"Yes. I've arranged my people to retreat early in the morning. Everyone had safely retreated, and there is still a vacant plane left for use. I can send you away in that plane tonight."
"Naoi!" Chu Feng reached out his hand, wanting to hold her hand in his.
"What're you thinking?!" Lin Naoi slapped his hand away, then calmly said, "We're just friends, but I wish you can be safe and sound."
"Alright." feeling slightly embarrassed, Chu Feng drew back his reaching hand.
Thick-skinned people, however, never feel ashamed. He opened his mouth once again, and said, "Naoi, I know for a fact that you're afraid that I might run into a life-threatening trouble, so that's why you come here to pick me up. But that man who had nominated himself to come here to escort me back to the city is man of power and skill. We'll probably set off soon after you guys are gone."
Chu Feng was trying to organize his language. "Rest assured! I'm not trying to risk my life just to prove something here. We'll get to safety. Trust me! One day if you pass by Shuntian City, your lunch will be on me! I still wanna see your charming smiles in the future."
Lin Naoi cast a sidelong glance at him and remained quiet.
"I'm serious!" The smile on Chu Feng's face was no more. He looked all solemn and serious as he spoke.
In the end, Lin Naoi nodded.
"Just let me know if you need anything or have any trouble. I will always be able to find someone to help you!" Chu Feng solemnly declared.
The moonlit night felt quieter than ever. Everything was serene and peaceful.
Chu Feng knew that Lin Naoi must have known something that he was not aware of. Because of the sheer size of Deity Biomedical Group, many of their men must have come into contact with things regarding the post-upheaval world long before everyone else. Through interactions with Lin Naoi, Chu Feng had already learnt quite a lot.
"Naoi, can you tell me what is the situation right now?" he asked. He was willing to learn what the world had actually degraded into and what it would become in the near future.
At the same time, he also understood that there were certain aspects of this subject that she was not allowed to talk about. She had made this quite clear last time.
But to his surprise, Lin Naoi vented out a sigh in response to his questions.
"This world is way too complex. It is a mess already, but it is still somehow changing. I'm afraid that our greatest fear might come to life this time around; but with great risk comes great opportunity for us too. I will make some arrangements when I get back to work—arrangements for the many battles to come."
Chu Feng was taken aback. Although Lin Naoi had not divulged much detail about their plans, he supposed that there was going to be quite a sizeable array of troubles waiting for her in the near future.
"When the world has degraded to this mess as you see nowadays, Deity is no longer the only company in charge of the country. Opposing forces, such as those from Bodhi, also want a share of the cake by deploying their people to all parts of the country to look for what we call the 'spiritual roots'. Being able to find these roots will ensure that we are still ahead of them."
Chu Feng quietly listened without interruption.
"That pine tree in Taihang Mountains is only one of the many findings we've got lately. In fact, there are way more famous mountains and great rivers out in the wilderness. They are more famous and many times greater than Taihang Mountains, so everyday, we can at least locate one or two of those mutated plants growing in those regions just like that pine tree in the Mountains of Taihang."
Chu Feng was visibly moved. "So, do you mean there will be mysterious plants growing in the every famous mountain and great river across the nation?"
"Yes. There are places that are more mysterious than you know them. Almost all of those places will have a sanctified tree, and their spiritual roots usually sprawl for miles around them," Lin Naoi informed him.
Chu Feng was astounded. If what Lin Naoi said was true, those miles of spiritual roots would all give rise to a strange tree on top of them, and all those trees would in turn grow out fruits and seeds. Chu Feng could conceive what a horrifying repercussion this would cause!
"The world is changing, and it will become more and more unpredictable in the future. If any of us tycoons of this country want to survive through this series of messy upheavals, we will have to win the next fight and claim ownership of one of those famous mountains and great lakes!" Lin Naoi frankly said.
The battle of Taihang was only a prelude to a bigger battle that would soon follow.
"The mountain of Longhu, the mountains of Putuo, Mountain Song, Mountain Emei, Mountain Zhongnan… these are all the famous mountains we are set to conquer, but of course, every victory on either side would have to be preceded by fierce fighting and bloody carnages."
Lin Naoi's words stirred up surges of emotion inside Chu Feng.
"One family gets one mountain, the other gets the other. Simply done! And clashes are avoided as well!" Chu Feng said.
Lin Naoi shook her head and said, "So far, not even a single mountain can be claimed by us yet."
"Is it this difficult?"
"The mutated beasts have started to strike. The latest intelligence I received was sent to me this evening. It said that someone discovered earlier that there were a few glowing Bodhi Ttrees growing in Mountain Song. It was conjectured that those trees were in fact the 'spiritual roots' that we were interested in finding, but so far, only Bodhi Genes had sent their men to claim those roots and fruits, but they all came back after suffering a crushing defeat," Lin Naoi informed.
"Who were there?" Chu Feng's heart palpitated.
"It was just a few apes," Lin Naoi said.
"A few apes? A few apes could manage to crush a whole team of Bodhi fighters?" Chu Feng displayed a look of surprise on his face.
Bodhi Genes had fighters who claimed to be the disciples of Buddha himself. Their power and skills were unfathomable. Therefore, it was beyond belief to learn that they could be easily crushed by a gang of intelligently underdeveloped primates.
Mountain Song was not just an ordinary mountain. There was an ancient Buddhist temple that had been erecting on the summit of the mountain for thousands of years. Along the precipitous slope of the mountain, there were many other temples scattering across the body of the mountain as well.
"There is an old ape whose intelligence is on par with the wisest man on earth. I heard that that very ape could even recite Confucian classics off its heart," Lin Naoi informed.
All the temples in the mountain had been taken over by the primates. These once sacred religious sites had now become a gathering place for beasts like monkeys and apes.
Chu Feng could only imagine what would happen to the Mountains of Longhu, the Mountains of Putuo, the Mountains of Wudang, the Mountains of Emei, etc. Human's struggle to reclaim those mountains would only end up with many extremely fierce fighting and tragic deaths.
"So, what's the deal about that 'Buddha disciple'?" Chu Feng wanted to know why that middle-aged man could become so powerful than the others.
"Twenty-one years ago, a young child from the family of Mu accidently swallowed a wild fruit." Lin Naoi did not mention Buddha Disciple; instead, she digressed the topic to talk about someone from the family of Mu. This rendered Chu Feng rather astonished.
"Later, this child mutated and gained unmatched power!" Lin Naoi looked at him with a look that was deep and profound.
A mutation-inducing fruit from twenty-one years ago? How was this even possible? Chu Feng was surprised and bewildered.
"He is the elder brother of Mu. For many years, he seldom showed himself in front of others," Lin Naoi rose and took her leave as soon as the words were spoken.
Underneath the brightly shining moonlight, Lin Naoi was enshrouded with a pure and white layer of luminescence. She looked both holy and charming. Her skin was white as a sparkling jade, and even her hair glistened.
Chu Feng watched as that perfect silhouette of hers gradually faded into darkness. He stood there, bathing in the moonlight, lost in thought.
"She is way too intelligent and quick-witted. Has she already guessed who I am?"