Chu Feng spent the following two days in a life of ease and comfort. Being in a metropolis, Chu Feng was away from the wilderness and away from the beasts. The days came and passed just like in the old times.
Later, he went window shopping at a mall. For someone who was yet to adjust himself to adapt for a city life, everything felt new and novel.
Chu Feng saw the bones of beasts and beaks of birds in the windows of luxury shops. He was amazed.
The price labelled for each individual artefact crafted out of the rare gains of hunting was astonishing too. The least expensive one was still costing tens of thousands of "Earth coins", more expensive than any other luxury goods people could afford.
"Sir, are you interested in this pendant? It's made of the beak of a fire crow. As you can see, it looks fiery and flaming, just like a piece of fine jade. The splendid looks, however, is just the superficial part of the magic about this pendant. When you wear the pendant by your chest, it can soothe the sinew and quicken the blood in your body. It works like magic."
A charming saleswoman ambled over with a smile on her face. The beak of the fire crow was indeed crystalline like a piece of fine jade. After getting polished and refined, it looked glittering and translucent.
"It's good for the wearer's health?" Chu Feng looked astonished.
"Of course! A beak is where a mutated bird stores the essence of all its energy. It was difficult to hunt the bird, because it contained mysterious energy within it. You can feel it with your hand, see if you can sense the inflow of a stream of warmth into your body." The charming saleswoman carefully took the pendant out of the display window.
Chu Feng stroked it with his fingers. There were indeed feelings of warmth that slowly sank into his body.
"This expensive!" He was shocked, however, when he saw the price tag. It cost three hundred thousand Earth coins. For a normal family living a frugal life, they would still have to save up for many years before they could barely afford this.
"Yes. This is a piece of fine work. As you may know, these beasts are terrifying and deadly. They are difficult to kill; and the fact that not every beast can produce something that works magic like this one does makes these artefacts ten times more expensive to purchase," the saleswoman calmly said.
Relatively speaking, the prices were not completely exorbitant, but it was certainly not affordable for an ordinary household. Even the cheapest ones on display were costing tens of thousands of Earth coins.
Soon, Chu Feng found a piece of beast bone that was even more expensive. It cost a million Earth coins!
"If converted to 'Jiuzhou money' , it's about five million dollars. This is the frontal bone of a thunder leopard. This is the part of its body that could strike lightning and the part where its essence was stored!"
The eyes of the saleswoman sparkled, voice trilled, and eyes fixated, when she introduced the bone to Chu Feng.
Earth coins is the measuring unit commonly used amongst countries across the globe. It was about one Earth coin to every five Jiuzhou dollars.
The end of that episode of devastating travesties inflicted by wars and battles between countries and races marked the beginning of the post-civilization era. In the post-civilization era, China adopted the name, Jiuzhou.
Prices for everyday goods remained low, so ten to twenty thousand Jiuzhou dollars was enough to suffice the cost that a family would need to sustain their livelihood.
So, it was conceivable what a hefty expense that five million Jiuzhou dollars was.
"What's the selling point of this piece of skeleton?" Chu Feng asked.
"The thunder and the lightning it discharges are very beneficial to the bearer's health. It can stimulate the activity of cells, enhancing body constitution considerably…" the saleswoman spewed out a pile of advantages. She spoke with fervent passion. In the end, she added, "It can also stimulate skin cells, making a wrinkly old man young again!"
"That sounds like sheer fantasy to me. Can I have a look at it?" Chu Feng asked.
The saleswoman was hesitant since she didn't have the authority to make the decision. Only if she asked her manager to sign her a permission that she could retrieve the skeleton for Chu Feng to have a look.
She carefully held the skeleton in hands then stored it on a piece of soft silk.
Chu Feng carefully examined. This piece of skeleton was only three inches in length and two inches in width after polish. It was white and smooth. Sure enough, it was something much prettier than a piece of jade.
He held the skeleton in his palm, and suddenly, a feeling of numbness struck his vein. There was a stream of electric current originating from the marrow of the bone that spread across his body.
"Can you feel that stream of electric current? That is the magic of this piece of skeleton. This is what makes it especially beneficial to the bearer's health," the saleswoman proudly exclaimed.
She quickly put the skeleton back into its place after Chu Feng had a feel of its "magic".
"Not bad!" Chu Feng nodded.
The saleswoman looked at him like someone who were looking at a monster. For her, the magic of this piece of skeleton deserved comments that were much more generous than just simply "not bad".
Meanwhile, Chu Feng was thinking to himself, "All those hunting I've done in the past had gone to waste. The horns of that rhino and the skin of that golden lynx could be sold at a great price. What a shame that I threw them away!"
"Can I consign my goods in your shop for sale?" Chu Feng asked.
This shop left him with a great impression. At least, both the saleswoman and the manager were patient even though he had bought nothing from them.
The saleswoman said it was okay to do so. She then gave him a name card with details about the shop.
"Luoshen?" Chu Feng was surprised. Luoshen was one of the country's largest luxurious goods retailers. It had branches all over the country.
Could there be any connections between them and Jiang Luoshen? He grew doubtful.
Chu Feng left the place and began thinking about things.
Ten to twenty Jiuzhou dollars were the usual expense of an ordinary household each year. However, everything sold in this shop was more than a hundred thousand dollars in value; some were even sold for millions.
He lived in a wealthy family, but their living standard was far from that of a luxurious life.
Chu Feng thought that in just a matter of few days, he had "spent" several millions in the forest.
Chu Feng was shocked when he thought about it. Being so outrageously extravagant was rather terrifying.
"I had once earned that much money?" the look on his face twisted.
However, it made sense. Having killed Chen Hai, he could now declare that he was amongst the best of all mutants.
And the quest of beast lion needed someone like him to fulfil.
"I don't need that much money to spend, but who hates money?" Chu Feng said to himself.
He wanted to hunt for the rarest beast, so that he could make a bracelet for his mother out of its bone.
At the same time, he wanted to make his father a necklace too, but it had to look simple and inconspicuous, so that Chu Zhiyuan could enjoy the nutriments that the necklace provided, but also free of worry that someone else might pose a threat.
"I want to be a hunter!" Chu Feng solemnly said to himself, but in the end, even he couldn't help but burst into laughter.
Chu Feng had graduated from college. At his age, he should have found himself a job already. But in a world like this, his life trajectory could never be the same as the old days.
Chu Feng was planning for his own future. He couldn't stay in Shuntian forever. Once he stepped on the evolutionary path, there was no turning back.
The wilderness of the mountains was his place to be. Even if he couldn't conquer a famous mountain or a great lake, there was still a possibility that he might gain something unexpected.
Of course, he could also indulge himself in the sheer joy of killing beasts and claiming their skeletons. Every mutated beast that might prove to be the scourge of the local region was his target and his prey.
Later, Chu Feng found something even more valuable in another mall.
It was expected to see something like this to be on sale.
People gathered around the shop, but most were just having a peek at what was going on. Normal people could hardly afford it.
There were only two strange fruits on display.
One of the two was priced at eight million Earth coins, or forty million Jiuzhou dollars. It was four thousand years' worth of living expense for an ordinary family.
However, this was only the cheaper of the two. The other one was priced at fifteen million Earth coins!
People on the scene had no complaints about the extravagant prices. They understood that these fruits were not for them. Whatever the price might be was irrelevant for them. They gathered here just to satisfy their own curiosity.
"What a shame that I'm not that rich, otherwise, I would certainly buy them both. Just the fact that it could increase the longevity of my life is enough to justify its cost!" Someone in the crowd sighed.
"With what I earn every year, I would need to work my arse off for a thousand years before I could afford any of them," another person in the crowd said while his head was shaking.
The price made Chu Feng gasp too. He was overawed by the sight of the price.
"If I work as a hunter, I could have a bright future," Chu Feng thought to himself, "it won't necessarily be a life of wanton extravagance, but at least I could help my parents to buy a bigger house."
Chu Feng finally agreed that the very existence of these mutated beasts and strange fruits had affected people in every facet of their lives. It was a disaster for some, and an opportunity for the others.
"Run! Monsters are coming!"
Suddenly, someone in the mall shouted. Fear and panic quickly spread across the mall.
Chu Feng was taken aback. Shuntian was the largest city in the north, guarded with some of the tightest defense in the world. How dare the beasts and the birds launch an attack on the city?
Chu Feng remained his composure, quickly searching on the internet for information.
Soon, he began to hear the firing of cannons and shots of bullets. In the distance, missiles had been launched. The gunshot was fierce, and a hubbub of noises from miles away outside the city could be heard in the mall.
"Mom, dad! Where are you right now? Don't panic! I'll come find you!" Chu Feng called his parents.
"Don't worry, Feng. Your dad and I are fine. We were just back from work. We'll be home in just a few minutes."
It was impossible to hire a taxi out on the roads. The street was a complete chaos.
He found a path that could lead him home. At first, he jogged, then he scurried; at last, he began to run. He was anxious to return home.
However, with streams of people running in all possible directions, he couldn't run fast either. The streets were clogged up with cars and people who were all trying to find a safe spot to hide.
Soon, Chu Feng found out what happened on the internet.
Thousands of mutated species suddenly came out of nowhere. Some were beasts that scurried on the ground, and some were mutated birds that flew and hovered high up in the air. Every species had suddenly decided to rush into the city of Shuntian all at once.
The consequences would be too dreadful to contemplate if these beasts breached the defense of the city!
Fortunately, the defense system of the city worked magic. The reconnaitres had detected the abnormalities earlier on, so shots were fired pre-emptively. After rounds of surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles were launched, the progression of the swarming beasts was effectively hindered.
"We've fought off the aggressors!"
Someone cried out in alarm. The sound of gunfire dwindled and faded into silence.
Although the appearance and the aggression of these beasts were sudden and unexpected, but they were effectively stopped. The strong fortification of the city served as an effective deterrent to these beasts. While some had been blasted into a bloody paste of flesh and gore, others escaped into the wilderness of the mountains in fear and terror.
"We have to look into the cause of this incident! We need to know where they came from? Why did they attack? And who was their commander in chief?" people in the army gave out an unyielding order. Today's incident had no forewarning. Everything felt odd and bizarre.
"Oh no! Beasts are swarming the province of Sichuan, trembling the earth as they galloped. They are going to attack the cities!"
The internet had blown up with news like this. Just as the beasts were trying to capture the city of Shuntian, other cities across the country were also under fierce attack.
"Oh god! Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau had fallen!"
In the next moment, another piece of explosive news spread across the internet. A monster was massacring the inhabitants of a conquered city. The monster was a white wild wolf.
"My goodness! This wolf can stand shoulder to shoulder with the white snake at Taihang Mountains and the elder ape at Mount Song. It was so terrifying. The bloody massacre at Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau was a disaster! The wolf was a brutal and barbarous invader to us human race!"
Shuntian, Sichuan and Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau; one came after another; all had fallen victim to the pre-emptive strikes done by the barbarous beasts. The attacks were like a bolt from the blue, striking everyone across the country dumb.
Feeling of unease spread across the country. People were seized with fear.
"Mom! How are you doing? Where is my dad?!" Chu Feng's heart sank when he couldn't see the face of his dad at home.
"I'm fine," it was Chu Zhiyuan's voice coming out of his bedroom. It sounded faint and frail.
Chu Feng walked in big strides to his father's room. Chu Zhiyuan was lying on the bed, looking pale and weak.
"Dad! What's wrong!?" Chu Feng grew nervous. His father seemed to have taken injuries, but they were calling only minutes ago.
"Some people are just pure evil. Someone ran into your dad, flinging him right into the air. He was almost thrown underneath a car's wheels. Luckily, there was a young man walking by who was sharp of eye and deft of hand; he caught your dad just in time to save his life. I'm still shaking when I think about what just happened." Tears were still rolling in Wang Jing's eyes. She was still very unsettled and frightened.
Her husband was only inches away from death. If the young man had not been there to save his life, Chu Zhiyuan would have been grinded and minced to a paste of blood and meat.
Chu Feng was at first angry, then, he was, too, shivering in fear.
"It's okay. It's just an accident. Everyone grew fearful and panicked when they heard the cry, and you saw how many people were out there in the street, so when everyone started running for their lives in fear and terror, accidents like this are bound to happen. I'm still fine," Chu Zhiyuan said.
"No! Having a broken back isn't fine! And to me, I think that person was purely intentional. I wouldn't be complaining here if it was just an accident, but what accident on earth could fling you into the air? That man was using all his force to throw you like a rubber ball!" Wang Jing refuted.
That man didn't apologize; instead, he ran away like an attempted murderer.
"There were so many people fleeing at the time. Everyone was scared as hell. Who would have the time to pause their fleeing feet and say sorry to me?" Chu Zhiyuan said.
"Dad, let me have a look." Chu Feng crouched down by his father's bed, making a full examination of the wound.
There was a murderous look hidden deep in his eyes. Was this really an accident? He didn't think so!
"Goddamned bastards!" Chu Feng cursed in his mind. He was furious. He swore that he would make a thorough investigation into this matter then settle everything once and for all. If this were not just an accident, he would find and kill everyone that was part of this operation.
"Are you the bastards from Jiangning? Do you think that I'm powerless against you? Don't push me too far or I will kill my way to your den!" Chu Feng could not remain in his composure anymore.
Chu Zhiyuan's back had been badly injured. It would take a while until he could recover.
"Dad, mom. Eat these pine cones!" Chu Feng knew that he wasn't allowed to wait any longer. They needed to eat the purple pine cones as soon as they could.
For the past few days, he had been preparing. He bought a lot of medicinal herbs for his parents. He made it into thick soup then asked his parents to drink.
This was a method that had been circulating on the internet for quite some time. It was said that taking decoction of medicinal ingredients before eating the strange fruit could produce a much more effective result.
Chu Feng was rather dubious before, but after browsing through the list of ingredients needed for the decoction, he realized that none of them would do any harm to human's body. The decoction could even be used as an everyday health food for people to consume.
For the past few days, he was trying to nurse his parents' health with the decoction, but he didn't tell them about its true purpose.
But the current situation allowed them with no time to wait!
 (Jiuzhou is the term for the nine administrative divisions of China in remote antiquity)