Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The sound of the machine whirring and clanking echoed in the carriage. The faintly metallic smell of blood and the sickly-sweet smell of disinfectant permeated the air.
Clad in black, Dumby slipped out of the bone collection center and bolted the iron doors with well-practiced ease.
It was already close to 10pm and pitch black outside.
It took out a sixth grade textbook of of his robes and started reading it using the light of the Soul Flames in its eyes.
Working in the slaughterhouse was a repetitive chore. Every few hours, one had to do the same thing over and over again, absorbing Soul Flames from the deathly remains sent there.
Soul Flames weren’t souls; they were completely unrelated.
Technically, Soul Flames were the dying vestiges of a soul.
Having worked there for a while, Dumby was bored. Since it wanted to tutor Xiao Hua, it had Gao Peng buy it a textbook for her so it could familiarize himself with the lessons. Every spare minute it had, it would go through the textbook.
Absorbing an enormous amount of Soul Flames had not only considerably strengthened its own soul, it had also enhanced both its memory and its cognitive ability.
Lower-tier monsters had little to no cognitive ability. Only when they improved in tier and grade did they become more intelligent. The intelligence of Lord-tier monsters was said to be on par with most humans. All they lacked was common sense and experience.
By chance, Dumby had came across the proverb to “lead by example.” That was why it had wanted to go through the textbook. It didn’t want Xiao Hua to do this alone, so it wanted to lead by example as her father.
All too soon, it was almost at the exit. Carefully returning the textbook to its pocket, it bounded out with a spring in its step, very happy. After all, its master had already promised to brew the evolutionary potion that Xiao Hua needed in order to evolve.
Red River Apes were good. Dumby had once been a Red River Ape, too. It would never look down upon them. Yet, it was also a matter of fact that Red River Apes didn’t lead the greatest lives. This was something that it was always concerned about. As Ghoul-attribute monsters, they had a very long lifespan, yet this wasn’t necessarily a good thing. To solve this problem, all it needed was for Xiao Hua to evolve to Commander-tier, or even Lord-tier.
Not knowing if Xiao Hua had actually taken the potion, its mind clouded with worry. It quickened his footsteps.
“Dumby,” someone called to him from behind.
He turned around only to see Gao Peng waving at him from a small alley.
“Master.” Dumby took a couple of huge steps towards Gao Peng.
“Don’t worry. I’ve already brewed the evolutionary potion that Xiao Hua needs. I have a favor to ask in return.”
It nodded resolutely. “What is it, Master?”
“There are two souls that I need you to help me harvest.” Gao Peng smiled mysteriously.
Without question, it followed Gao Peng into the woods. Soon enough, they made it to a wide clearing surrounded by a thicket of trees and bushes. In the moonlight, it could vaguely make out the skeletal remains of two creatures, one bigger than the other.
The large skeleton was at least ten yards long, with bones as thin as thorns. The sole exception was its thigh bones, which were particularly thick and powerful. It also had an impressive pair of wings. Perhaps the most shocking sight of all was the bones in its tail. What should have been an elaborate fan-like structure of bones was now a haphazard mess. Some of the bones were twisted at impossible angles, some cracked to the core.
Not far away were the skeletal remains of a far smaller creature, around 13 feet long. It had a powerful frame, especially its arms, which were shaped like battering rams. It also had a huge bone spur growing out of its back that appeared to be retractable.
Even in death, the remains of the two creatures released an immense aura, their pearly white bones gleaming brightly in the moonlight.
Dumby didn’t say a word, nor did it ask about the skeletons. It lifted up its right hand, and a burst of Soul Flame erupted from its palm.
The flames formed a spinning ring around the larger skeleton and remained that way for quite a while, but nothing happened. Dumby shook its head. It looked like it wasn’t strong enough to revive this particular skeleton just yet. It was one level short of the Wooden Peacock and could only revive monsters that were a lower level than it.
The Level 42 Winged Thunder Ape was a different story, though. The Flames of The Undead flowed like water into and in between every nook and cranny of its skeleton before engulfing it entirely in a sphere of white.
The Soul Flames that laid dormant within the skeletal remains of the Winged Thunder Ape were drawn out and consumed by Dumby’s Flame of the Undead.
Dumby could hear a muted ringing in its ears. At the same time, stray memories appeared in quick staccato flashes in front of it. It was nothing it hadn’t experienced before. Every Soul Flame it had ever consumed before had also contained lingering memories just like this. It was imperative that it avoided absorbing these memories as much as it could to avoid its brain being affected.
With the precision of a surgeon, Dumby sifted through and cut out the unwanted memories like a cancerous tumor.
These supposedly intangible memories melted like snow near fire upon coming into contact with the material world, gently coloring the night sky rainbow, like a bubble in sunlight.
In the silvery moonlight, the broken pieces of memory slowly rippled outward, like an ink droplet hitting the surface of a lake.
In the image, a little brown monkey pranced around, sneaking quick glances at the two-legged creature in front of it through the bars of its cage.
The leaves rustled soothingly. The sunlight was filtered through the leaves into drops of liquid gold. The brown monkey, now a little older, tried to catch the light with its hands. The good-natured laughter of its keeper echoed in the distance…
Then it was the Cataclysm. The animals around it were in uproar. The keeper fumbled with a set of keys before unlocking a huge metal gate. “Run! All of you, run!”
The other monkeys rushed out of there as quickly as they could. Only the little brown monkey stayed behind, curiously eyeing the man that fed them every day. It scratched its little head, and after a moment of thought, flung its arms around the neck of the man in a great hug. Upon seeing him turn around in shock, the monkey giggled wickedly…
The memory ended there.
This was the Winged Thunder Ape’s most indelible memory. Even in death, it was the one most important thing left behind.
Gao Peng sighed deeply and closed his eyes.