There was something different to the thunderfire wolf. Before, it used to stand and move about like a puppet, but this time, it was more like an ordinary soulbeast.
And there was the Beast Taming Ring on its neck. Bai Yunfei never bothered to ‘control’ its actions, preferring that Xiao Qi did all of the ‘planning’. Even in battle, the wolf moved autonomously. All the Beast Taming Ring did was to increase the feeling of loyalty it felt and guaranteed that it wouldn’t betray him.
Finally, there was the expression of the thunderfire wolf to examine. No longer did it have the ‘fearsome’ expression on its face. It never once harbored any ‘feelings’ of resistance from its ‘master’ before, but it would always have that same expression on its face. But now, it was looking at him like a docile pet would, making Bai Yunfei very curious.
When it first begun to regain its sentience, the wolf’s mindspace had been a mess. But even as a mess, it didn’t offer up any resistance the few times Bai Yunfei commanded it, making it seem like an obedient child that didn’t know anything about the world.
Many months had already transpired since Bai Yunfei last entered the wolf’s mindspace. He already felt the wolf to be like a ‘companion’ to him, especially in the eyes of Xiao Qi. The two soulbeasts were constantly together, even in battle. Their unison was even better than with Bai Yunfei.
So Xiao Qi telling him that something was strange with the wolf alarmed Bai Yunfei. He was baffled that something else could be going on with the wolf.
The wolf stood there in front of Bai Yunfei, vigilant at its surroundings, but otherwise looking barely different from normal. Focusing, Bai Yunfei transmitted an order to the Beast Taming Ring.
And then what happened after that surprised him–the wolf didn’t immediately obey the command–for the very first time, there was a very definite sign of ‘refusal’ in the wolf’s mindspace!!
“Eh?!” Bai Yunfei cried out loud.
This was the very first time he saw the usually ‘obedient’ wolf disobey. Granted, the order he gave was a very small one, but to have the wolf outright refuse to obey stunned him! And before Bai Yunfei could give another command, the wolf was slowly making its way towards him.
Not only did it disobey his command, it was walking straight towards him!
Even more shockingly, Bai Yunfei saw a light in the wolf’s eyes that looked surprisingly human-like!
Bai Yunfei had never seen this before. The thunderfire wolf would normally have a light in its eyes, but those were usually reminiscent with what any other soulbeast would have. Even the blue-eyes wyrm and its unnaturally human-like intelligence didn’t hold a match to the light the wolf had now. What the wolf had was completely similar to what a human would look like in the eyes!
Actually, Bai Yunfei saw this once before. The red magiboar and the quickshade bird had both a similar look in their eyes, but Xiao Qi’s eyes held a light that was both stronger and exactly the same as the wolf’s.
By now, the wolf was standing three meters from, and then in the next second, Bai Yunfei’s eyes flew open like a startled cat whose tail had just been stepped on!
“Yunfei, I’ve a matter I wish to speak to you about.”
The voice of a hoarse male spoke to Bai Yunfei’s ears, making Bai Yunfei temporarily forget himself.
This voice was coming out from the thunderfire wolf’s mouth!
“Y-you….” Looking as if he had just seen a ghost, Bai Yunfei took a good twenty steps back, “what’s going on?!’
He looked to Xiao Qi, but the bird only shrugged its wings as if to say, “don’t ask me.”
“Yunfei, don’t be alarmed. We soulbeasts just a step away from becoming class sevens gain the ability to speak the human tongue. This much is nothing to be alarmed over.” The wolf spoke with a seeming smile.
“I’ve regained some of my memories, one of which returned the ability of speech.” The same hoarse voice spoke again.
The wolf’s words were rather simple and held no hostility in them. But even with that, Bai Yunfei was extremely surprised. Not having the wolf speak for an entire year and then being able to do so all of a sudden would do that.
This development was accepted quite warmly by Xiao Qi, who chirped twice in joy. Beating its wings, it flew around the wolf’s head excitedly. It chirped several times more as if trying to communicate with it.
The wolf raised it head to speak to Xiao Qi, “Yes, that’s correct. After I swallowed the soulgem of the bone-eating treefly, I relearned the ability to talk. Don’t be jealous, you’ll have your day come soon.”
It spoke to Xiao Qi like a friend would chat with another.
Still dazed by this shocking development, Bai Yunfei asked, “Are…are you really the thunderfire wolf? You could talk?”
The wolf turned back to him, “Correct. I knew how to talk before, but I forgot. After swalloing the soulgem of the peak late-stage class six was I able to remember the past and regain the ability.”
The memories of the past was naturally referring to when he hadn’t been transformed into a soulbeast puppet by the Beast Taming School. Since Bai Yunfei thought that the process wiped the soulbeast’s mind clean like a sheet of white paper, he figured soulbeasts would have to relearn everything instead of being able to remember what it was like before.
“What….what have you remembered?” Bai Yunfei asked, curious about what the wolf was feeling.
“Just a few memories. The biggest being the ability to speak again.”
Bai Yunfei was still perplexed at this situation. The majority of soulbeasts would only gain human-like intelligence after they became a class seven. There were a few like the bewitching fox which could transform into a human form at the late-stage class six level and converse with humans at the class five level, but those were very rare cases. In a slightly lesser strain, there were other soulbeasts that were inherently gifted with amazing intelligence to speak at the class six level.
Four months ago, Bai Yunfei had even spoke with a peak late-stage class six forest orangutan. It was gentle and smart, and Bai Yunfei had a very nice conversation with it before he left rather than fighting like he did with other soulbeasts. In the end, Bai Yunfei was left with the feeling he had been speaking with an elderly man rather than soulbeast.
Regathering his thoughts, Bai Yunfei asked the wolf, “You said you had something to speak to me about?”
“Correct.” The wolf paused. “Do….do you plan to leave the Soulbeast Forest?”
Bai Yunfei quirked an eyebrow, “I do. I’ll get to the class five area through the Crack in the Sky and return to the main continent.”
“……” His answer brokered no response from the wolf for a while.
“Now that I’ve regained my memories, I’ve remembered that I’ve family here in the class six area. I….I hope that you’ll let me go…..”
The wolf hesitated to speak a few times in its speech, but it made its request in the end. It knew that the strange thing around its neck would force it to obey Bai Yunfei’s commands, so making a request like that wasn’t inherently ‘proper’….
But in the end, it didn’t want to leave the forest again. It wanted to return to the depths of the class six area and return ‘home’ where it could regain the rest of its memories.
“I see now….” Bai Yunfei nodded.
He smiled. “Well alright then. I won’t force you to do anything, you can go home to your family.”
The Beast Taming Ring expanded in size around the wolf’s neck. Detaching itself, the ring flew away from the startled wolf to land around Bai Yunfei’s wrist and shrunk down to fit like a bracelet.
“Ao….” The decisiveness of Bai Yunfei’s actions brought the wolf to a daze. It hadn’t expected Bai Yunfei to so readily agree to its request. In his mind, humans always desired to control a soulbeast as strong as a peak late-stage class six and would refuse to let them go if caught. The wolf knew Bai Yunfei was slightly different than the rest, so it decided to give it a try anyways after it regained its memories.
But never did it imagine that it would have its request accepted so easily…..
“Since we’ve traveled together for so long, aren’t we ‘friends’? Now that your sentience and rationality is back, I don’t want to control you like before. If you’ve your own things, then go do them. I just hope that we’ll meet each other in the future.”
“Friends??” The wolf repeated, staring with wide eyes at Bai Yunfei. It couldn’t tell whether or not Bai Yunfei was being honest, but after a while, the wolf spoke again.
It turned around to face north, returning to the forest and its home.
Xiao Qi chirped twice, a hint of sadness in its voice.
The wolf looked to it, its teeth showing in a smile, “May we meet again, Xiao Qi. Thank you for helping me. If not for all those soulgems you gave, I would never have regained my memories.
“I will never forget you, and like Yunfei said, I hope that we meet again. Until then….I hope to be able to repay you for your kindness.”
It looked to Bai Yunfei next, to which Bai Yunfei nodded, “Take care.”
The wolf returned the nod and turned away. It leapt down from the hill and broke into a run to disappear into the forest and away from sight….