Chu Feng grew frantically excited. He had thought that the seeds would stay as what they were forever, but he had never expected to see that he would be greeted with such a pleasant surprise at the time of his leaving.
He carefully placed the stone box on a desk and carefully scrutinized it.
Within the box were the three seeds that had been planted in the special soil. He could even vaguely see the seeds through the layers of soil, because the special soil clumped together like a chunk of jade, crystalline and clear.
Amongst the three, the one that looked the plumpest seemed the most unusual at present as well. Chu Feng could clearly see the green glitter that emitted from the body of the seeds, rippling across the stone box like water overflowing from a tank then dribbling down along the outer side of the stone box.
Every bit of unusual originated from this very seed!
"Is it about to sprout?" Chu Feng was hopeful. The day for which he had been waiting was finally here. At last, it was proven that his wait was not futile.
But in all honesty, Chu Feng admitted to himself that he had never expected the change would happen in the very stone box from which the seeds originated.
The stone box was in a cuboidal shape. It was three inches in length and height, but its edges and corners seemed to have been polished, looking all round and smooth.
The box was quite a simple and unsophisticated artefact. There were vaguely some grains and stripy lines running across its surface, but they were quite inconspicuous.
"Are there any mysteries that come with this box? What force drove the seeds to sprout?"
He dared not to extract the seeds from within the box. He had had a hard time waiting for this day to come, and if he were to boldly remove the seeds from the soil and replant them in the soil of the parterre, everything would potentially come to nothing.
Chu Feng was happy. He had a joyous feeling that came with a profound sense of achievement.
The green light in the box pulsated for a moment, then the overflowing stopped; but the soil in the box had become even more radiant and the seed within was pulsating with a vaguely visible shine.
The vitality of the seed had greatly augmented, but some mysterious force exerted by the box concealed the light and the flourishing vitality within the compartment inside. Every bit of energy that exuded from the seed had been sealed within the box.
"This box is sure enough an odd piece of artefact!"
Chu Feng was certain that this box must have had an unusual origin. He blamed himself for his own carelessness and oblivion to the power of the box. Had he known about this earlier, he would have used it without demur.
Soon later, Chu Feng was reminded of Yellow Ox. The calf had only just departed, but the seed had already seen significant changes.
Chu Feng bet that the calf would be so furious if it were let known about this.
Ever since the end of the battle that took place in the Mountain of White Snake, the calf had been waiting here for nearly twenty-one days; however, its patience ended up with nothing.
But at the same time, who would have guessed that this ordinary-looking box carved out of stone could possess power like this?
"But, I need to leave for the metropolis too."
Chu Feng frowned. His parents had been nagging at him to hurry up on his homeward journey. They called him everyday, and Chu Feng could distinctly tell that they were getting increasingly worried.
The black yak had also warned him to be ready before the world went through another major upheaval.
"I've got the seeds in the box anyway. Bringing them around with me shouldn't be much of a chore." Chu Feng finally decided to set out on his journey.
He went to the weaponry workshop to say goodbye to Grandpa Zhao before his departure.
"Grandpa Zhao, this place is no longer a haven of peace for us humans. Danger is imminent, so how about you tag along with me, so we can head for the metropolis together?"
The old man rejected Feng's request. He was unwilling to leave, since he was no longer the same old limp folk he was before. His strength nowadays was far beyond human's capacity.
Out of good will, Chu Feng wanted Grandpa Zhao to keep the thunderous bow with him. The bow would come in handy in case life-threatening danger came.
"Bring it with you, Feng. Shuntian City is far away from here. You are going to travel more than two thousand li to reach there. That's too far a journey to travel without a proper weapon."
In fact, Grandpa Zhao had raised his objection against Chu Feng's idea of traveling north to the metropolis. It was a great distance to travel alright, especially when beasts and birds of prey started flocking together to attack humans in hordes. Death might come any minute.
But Chu Feng had made up his mind. He was heading towards Shuntian City no matter what.
Chu Feng had already told his parents that he was near where the city was, so if he were to linger out here for any longer, all that lies spoken out of goodwill would be exposed.
"Feng, take good care of yourself!" Grandpa Zhao watched Chu Feng walking into the distance.
Chu Feng paid a visit to the thrift shop before his eventual departure. He handed Uncle Liu the key to his house and told him that all the beast meat had been stored in the fridge. "Don't wait them," Chu Feng exhorted.
Chu Feng had been quite generous with the meat for the past couple of days. He had shared quite a sizeable amount of meat with Grandpa Zhao and Uncle Liu, but sadly, their steady line of supply of beast meat might have to end here with Chu Feng's departure.
"It's too dangerous out there, Chu Feng. You can't just leave by yourself." Uncle Liu was full of worry.
"I have a mutant in my company!" Chu Feng bid his farewell.
He left Qingyang Village and headed all the way north.
Nowadays, Chu Feng only needed 1.1 seconds to cover a hundred meters. He ran like the wind as he darted forth. It was not long before Chu Feng showed up somewhere ten li away from where the journey started.
However, he could not keep this pace forever. The strenuous running would eventually heat up his body. If the heat was not allowed to dissipate, Chu Feng's body could potentially shut down or even collapse.
However, Chu Feng did not pause for a single breath this time. He was still frantically running. He wanted to know the limit of his body. On the road, Chu Feng ran like a fierce gale of wind. Around him, sand was flying and pebbles were rolling.
As time progressed, Chu Feng started to slow down. White fumes were rising swiftly from his forehead as his whole body was boiling hot.
At last, Chu Feng finally stopped after an hour of endless sprinting.
"Almost two hundred li."
This was shockingly fast. If the news about his superhuman speed were to spread across the globe, the world would be shocked to know that a man could run as fast as a car consistently throughout a period of time.
"A hundred meters in 1.1 seconds, but the speed won't last." Chu Feng shook his head.
But it would probably shock someone to death if he could sustain that speed throughout a marathon of running.
Chu Feng was sodden with sweat. The tenuous running was certainly at the expenditure of a lot of energy.
Chu Feng slowly strolled for an hour before he could finally feel the recovery of physical strength. After which, he began to run like a mad bull once again. He was just as fast as he was before. Wind fiercely billowed by his ears.
The scenery along the road was breath-catching at some part, but they were all soon abandoned behind Chu Feng's back.
Tarmacked roads still existed for most part of journey although some parts had been torn apart. However, the dirt road that connected sections of broken roads were still level and smooth. Otherwise, Chu Feng would never have run this fast if the roads were like a winding path across a dense jungle.
Hitting a boulder or a tree trunk while running at such great speed would have been disastrous for Chu Feng.
This time, Chu Feng stopped to catch a breath at about forty minutes' mark. His skin was scorching hot. His body surface was glowing in red like a pool of molten iron. Meanwhile, there was also much mist and fogs steaming up from his glowing skin. Obviously, the running had drained the energy of Chu Feng's body.
"This won't work!" Chu Feng realized the impracticality in overloading himself with strenuous running. In addition, he also needed to save some physical strength for fighting in case he encountered a beast or bird of prey.
Chu Feng's constitution was undeniably strong. Traveling a hundred li in a single day would not even break a sweat at the end of it.
However, if all his physical strength were spent on running, with an exhausted body, he was virtually exposed to any danger that might befall upon him.
The world beside the tarmacked road was quite bleak and desolate too. There were no signs of human habitation within a hundred-li radius.
This sense of desolation had never been felt in the past. The world had never become so vacant, so sparsely populated. It almost felt as if he were pacing through a depopulated zone that had been previously blasted by a devastating nuclear bomb.
In some region, woods densely packed to form an overhanging shelter from the sun for the travellers on the road. From the mountains in the distance, the roars of the beasts could be occasionally heard.
An hour later, Chu Feng was still walking under the overcast of shade that was provided by the branches of the trees. Suddenly, a gale blasted on his face. Chu Feng raised his head. He saw a huge patch of shadow in the mid-air steadily approaching him.
With a swish, Chu Feng leaped into the ditch on the side of the road, withdrawing himself from the spot at which he stood.
A bird with a body of black and white feathers landed. Its talons struck on the earth, sending pebbles and sand to fly in all directions. The blasting gale still continued.
Chu Feng was taken aback. This bird was at least five meters in length. If the size were taken out of consideration, this bird looked the same as every other magpie people saw in their everyday life.
Obviously, this magpie was a mutated one. It had acquired extraordinary power through the process of transformation.
Grandpa Zhao and Uncle Liu was worrying for the right reason. They were right about the fact that the course of the journey would be full of life-threatening danger. There were all kinds of beasts and birds scouting for potential meals. If a normal person encountered a magpie of this size, death would be certain for him.
This magpie was quite valiant. It soared into the sky then dove down again. It looked more ferocious than a hawk or a felon. Its talons had a blood-curdling shine, the shine of murder and death. They were powerful as well as sharp and cutting. The magpie noticed the presence of Chu Feng by its side, so without hesitation, it launched its fearsome talons towards Chu Feng's fragile skull.
If anyone fell victim to that pair of talons, the consequence would be no other than a painful death.
Chu Feng nimbly maneuvered between the bushes. In the twinkling of an eye, he pulled himself at least ten meters away from the aggressive bird.
The trunk of a Chinese scholar tree that that had the circumference of a pail was snapped by the bird. The bird's body almost seemed like it was made of copper and iron, indestructible and tenacious. The power that the bird possessed was as well horrid and deadly.
"Are all the mutated birds and beasts this strong?" Chu Feng frowned. He was observing what skills the magpie was capable of. He was eager to know how powerful this bird really was.
But in the end, Chu Feng had to conclude that the bird was much harder to deal with than an average mutant. If the bird were to be placed in a ring to fight against all the mutants, perhaps half of them would end up with the magpie celebrating a crushing victory.
The magpie's intelligence was no inferior to that of a human being. After many attempts to kill Chu Feng that only ended in failure, the bird gave up without hesitation. It soared high into sky, fearing that persisting in this fight might prove to be deadly for itself.
"I'm starving. Be my lunch, darling!" Chu Feng swung his arms to let go of a black dagger in his hand.
The dagger pierced through the chest of the magpie, killing the bird before it plummeted to its death.
Soon later, the place started rumbling with the sizzling sound of roast meat. Chu Feng was roasting the magpie on a campfire. Of course, the meat on the skewer was only part of the bird's left wing. The rest of the bird's dead carcass would have to go to waste.
The scent of the meat assailed Chu Feng's nostrils. The meat had just been cooked thoroughly through, and before Chu Feng could have the chance to enjoy the barbecue, a rancid smell suddenly suffused the air to spoil all that joy and excitement in eating the meat. A monstrous beast rolled down along the slope of a nearby mountain and appeared by the campfire.
The beast was the size of a truck. Its body was pitch-black, and it was peppered with thorny quills on its back too. The beast looked ferocious and unfriendly. It was a big guy too.
Chu Feng was astounded by what he saw. What an eerie mutation this was! He could hardly believe that a hedgehog could grow to a size like this.
The hedgehog brandished its fangs, then it rushed forward towards Chu Feng like a valiant soldier.
There was still some distance between the beast and Chu Feng when it suddenly stopped, then it vented out a fearsome howl.
Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh!
From the back of its body, one quill after another jetted out like arrows and iron spears. They flew in a dense formation, raining down on Chu Feng.
Boom! Boom! Boom!
Chu Feng carried the roast meat and ran off for his life. The place where the campfire was still burning had been reduced to an utter ruin. Boulders had erupted to a thousand pieces, and even some of the thickest tree trunks had been pierced through by the quills of the hog.
"Give me a bloody break! Since when has a hedgehog been so bloody horrid?!"
Chu Feng cursed under his breath. He was astounded by the hog's ability to shoot quills at its enemies.
Even an ordinary mutant would not stand a chance against this!
Chu Feng chose not to fight at close quarters with this hedgehog; he didn't want to waste any more of his strength. Chu Feng drew out the thunderous bow and shot the arrow right through the hog's skull. The hedgehog struggled for its last breath, but at last, it kicked the bucket and tumbled down like a dead pig. Blood soon poured out from the gaping holes that were glaringly conspicuous on both sides of the hog's skull.
Chu Feng looked earnest. He realized that the world had truly changed for the worse. Everything had become considerably more dangerous than they had been known for. An ordinary person would find it difficult to move even a step outside the haven of their homes.
After Chu Feng had fed himself to his fill, he hurriedly left the region. Soon after he left the place, Chu Feng could hear the roars of a hundred beasts resounding behind him.
Those beasts dashed out from the jungle, unable to hold themselves back from feasting on the dead carcass of that hedgehog and the magpie. It was truly a bloody scene to behold.
"There are more and more mutated beasts nowadays!" Chu Feng frowned. He was quite heavy-hearted. He realized that the world today had turned into something completely different from what he had been accustomed to. The wilderness was now a death zone; it was a no man's land haunted by the beasts and the birds who would kill everyone without mercy.
Jiangning was another bustling metropolis in the country. It was situated in the areas south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. It was one of the largest city in the country, and it was also where the headquarters of Deity Biomedical Group had claimed to be.
There was a villa community by the Lake Bihu in the city. It housed some of the richest families in the country, and the natural environments at this community were of course some of the best in the country. There were many trees whose trunks could hardly be surrounded by the arms of many adults. The scenery was also spotted with lakes and rivers, and among those streams of crystalline body of water, there were also many rare and beautiful stones displayed for views. In terms of scenic beauty, even the prettiest tourist attraction could not compete with the environment within this community.
Inside one of those villas, the interior decoration looked quite exquisite and tasteful. It was sumptuous like a magnificent palace.
Xu Wanyi was sitting on a couch, having the sulks. Aggressively, she slammed a back cushion on the couch to the floor. She was a charming woman, but right now, she looked cold and murderous.
"What's the matter?" Lin Yeyu, standing by her side, asked.
Xu Wanyi reined her aggression. She bit on her cherry-red lips, still looking sulky. "I'm Naoi's aunt, so she should show me at least some respect! How could she make those sarcastic comments and impolite remarks in front of my face?"
"Naoi is an intelligent and quick-witted girl. She isn't usually this impolite." Lin Yefan seemed a bit astonished.
Xu Wanyi was a charming and enchanting woman, but right now, there was not even the slightest sign of happiness written on her face. "Do you know how heart-broken I am after Wan Qing's death? I wanted to know who the murderer responsible for her tragic death, but my investigation only just started and Naoi had already started unreasonably accusing me with those harsh remarks. I'm her aunt! I'm an elder whom she ought to respect, but she can't even put on a semblance of respect when talking to me."
"What have you actually done?" Lin Yeyu frowned. As an uncle, he knew Lin Naoi well. He knew that Lin Naoi would not be like this for no apparent reasons.
"Do you still remember Chu Feng? The man we went to visit last time? I didn't find anything out-of-ordinary at the time of our visit, but when we came back from the place, I felt something odd about him. So I sent a few people to Shuntian City to investigate his parents…"
She cast a sidelong glance at Lin Yeyu. Seeing that he was a little taciturn, Xu Wanyi slowed down a bit. "I know that Naoi is on friendly terms with that man, but that doesn't justify the manner in which she talked to me."
"What about those people you've sent out? Have they done anything that is potentially harmful to Chu Feng's parents?" Lin Yeyu asked.
"No way! My people had only just started getting in touch with his parents, and Naoi has already started accusing me. And I don't know how she managed to know about these things either. She even contacted our people in Shuntian to drive away my people." Xu Wanyi seemed a little annoyed.
"You shouldn't have gone for Chu Feng's parents. If you think there's problem with Chu Feng, just deal with him." Lin Yeyu said.
"Why are you so partial to Lin Naoi? I was getting scolded at by her, but you're still blaming me." Xu Wanyi was displeased, but soon she started acting spoilt and flirtatious.
She cradled Lin Yeyu's arm in her arms and said, "Alright, I'll take the blame. I was acting a bit too rashly."
Chu Feng was still on the road. He rung up to his parents and told them that he would arrive in Shuntian in three or four days.
During the call, Chu Feng noticed that his mother's manner of speaking was a bit unusual.
"Mom, what's wrong? What's the matter?" he asked.
"Nothing… nothing… just hurry home. The world nowadays is far from tranquil… so me and your father are both getting a bit worried… you're not lying to me right? Are you really going to be back in three days?"
"Yes, mother, yes! Rest assured, mother. I will be home before you know it," Chu Feng replied, but he still had a queasy sense of foreboding about the way his mother talked.
"Dad, can you tell me what's been happening at home?" Chu Feng asked when he rung for a second time.
At last, his father concealed the truth no longer.
He told Chu Feng that he and Chu Feng's mother had been threatened by some strangers earlier today, and that those people had even tried to force the old couple to go with them.
"Who are they?!" Chu Feng asked.
"They looked like mutants." Chu Feng's father said.
Chu Feng clutched the communicator in his hand. A cold and murderous look emerged in his eyes. What he feared the most had happened, and this made him ten times keener to hurry home right now.
His sharp instinct told him that those people were most likely coming for him.
Although Chu Feng had long expected this to happen sooner or later, the fact that these mutants had actually committed to such despicable doings made Chu Feng furious.
"But a few more mutants appeared on the scene later. These kind-hearted people drove those threatening evil-hearted mutants away for us. I'm really thankful that they were here for us," Chu Feng's father told him.
"Mom, dad, don't be scared. Those people won't show up again, at least not for now. I'll be back soon!" Chu Feng ended the call.
He put away his communicator. A ray of light was projecting out from his eyes. Chu Feng was inflamed. Even the air around this infuriated man had become murderous.
Chu Feng hurried on his way home. He tried to calm himself and to contain the anger within him, but he knew that whoever had attempted to abduct his parents would not be let off scot free.