Chapter 142: The Brilliant Ape
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Bo Wen had been watching Chen Mu very closely those past few days. Ever since his last probing he had been convinced that Chen Mu came from the “night of the cross,” which made him examine Chen Mu even closer. He wanted to know what was really different between the night of the cross card artisans who had gone through such tortuous training, and the rest.
He still hadn’t gotten the answers he needed from that examination, but instead his doubts had increased.
That was because he had discovered something really strange.
He had found that Chen Mu’s strength was far from what he had shown that day in their battle. A card artisan’s power could be considered from many different aspects. For example, time. An ace would be very sensitive about time, and such sensitivity would sometimes demonstrate their difference from ordinary people. Everyone has some unconscious reaction when things get dangerous. Card artisans were no different, except that their reactions were more professional, and faster.
But not Chen Mu, who had quick reflexes, but they looked messy, as though he hadn’t experienced any of the traditional training of a card artisan. And he had discovered something else, which was that his reaction wasn’t nearly as fast as it had been that day in battle.
During that battle, Chen Mu had swapped out his card in only six tenths of a second, which had left an indelible impression on Bo Wen. But then ever since, Chen Mu had never swapped out a card in under a second. And what was most inconceivable to him was that all of Chen Mu’s reactions seemed natural, and not faked.
Once, twice, three times . . .
There were quite a few times which gave Bo Wen pause. He had never seen any of the inadvertently revealed brilliance of an ace from Chen Mu. It was always Bo Wen who made a move whenever they ran into danger, and never Chen Mu. From the start, Bo Wen had considered Chen Mu to be hiding his strength, or conserving it, but he had gradually sensed that something was off.
It didn’t seem that Chen Mu was unwilling; it was rather because of his strength that he held off. It seemed that he had lost his spirit ever since that day, which is to say that after that day his strength had seemed to shrink a lot.
That was what Bo Wen considered to be most likely, and he knew that it was common enough to lose strength following the kind of serious wounds that Chen Mu had gotten that day. What card artisans most feared was to lose the strength of their perception, since once that was damaged it was very difficult to restore, or sometimes even impossible.
That made Bo Wen ready to make his move, but he held back. If his surmise had been correct, it would be easy enough to kill Chen Mu if he wanted to. He didn’t have any value to him or Cheng Ying with his strength depleted and was a burden instead.
But what if he were wrong in his surmise?
The result of that would be something unbearable.
Bo Wen squinted as he leaned against a tree, looking like he was asleep.
Chen Mu sat cross-legged to carefully understand the perception in his body, which was a bit of homework he’d done every day since entering the forest. Ever since Bo Wen’s probing, he had become more careful. He didn’t dare to pull out the water-world card that he had been using all along for training. He would simply keep trying every day to understand the perception in his body. In the eyes of Bo Wen, it looked even more as though Chen Mu’s strength had been damaged.
There wasn’t any card artisan who would train his perception while around other people.
Bo Wen couldn’t know that Chen Mu wasn’t training his perception but was trying to understand it. Ever since it had dawned on Chen Mu that his perception had a spiraling spring-like composition, he had realized that he didn’t understand it well enough. If he were ever to run into trouble he would only be able to come up with a few ways out.
Just at that time, it wasn’t suitable to practice anything else, so he calmed himself to closely examine the perception in his body. Perception was one of the most mysterious powers of the body and up until then there hadn’t been a card artisan or a card master who had claimed to have fully understood it. That was a vast and enormous engineering project for Chen Mu which exceeded his current capability, though he was still attempting it.
While he might not achieve any results in the short term, it was something he had to do for the long term.
Chen Mu had closed his eyes in his cross-legged position, as he carefully examined the spiral spring of perception in his body. The perception in his body had been divided into lots of very fine perceptual tendrils, which were circling up, and forming themselves into a very spring-like perceptual composition. They were turning slowly, with an up and down rhythm, which was the oscillation of his perception.
At the two ends of the spring structure, there were a number of fine perceptual tendrils scattering out, slowly rippling like seaweed.
The spring was turning very slowly, and the tendrils which were disseminating were very long, by that time seeming like the spring had been extending some very long tentacles, and those soft invisible tentacles were rhythmically swaying in the air. That also gave Chen Mu a lot of understanding of what was going on around him. The longer the tentacles were, the broader the range of what he could probe.
Although he hadn’t opened his eyes, he knew what the rest of them were doing. Bo Wen was examining him, and Cheng Ying was staring dazed into the fire. As for Li Duhong, he seemed to be quietly spreading some powder on the ground.
What was he trying to do? Chen Mu had no idea what that powder did. Was it some kind of insect repellent? But then why hadn’t he seen him spread it those last few days?
Chen Mu was suspicious, but before long some of the tentacles snapped together. It seemed that something was fluctuating deep in the jungle. Chen Mu was somewhat shocked and didn’t hesitate to slow the rotation of his perception in order to extend the reach of the tentacles until he couldn’t extend them any further, which was at the limit of what he could probe.
The perceptual tentacles had a regular sway, and the distant scene became gradually more clear in Chen Mu’s mind. Of course, it wasn’t as clear as being there, and he really could only sense the general outline. But the outlines were clear, though he would have to closely identify it to be able to tell what it was. He had found that his probing was very deficient in the jungle as compared to open spaces, and those fuzzy outlines were more difficult to decipher.
What was it? Chen Mu’s heart skipped a beat as the fuzzy picture almost blurred together. It seemed as though something was coming their way at high speed from some distance away.
A wild beast?
Bo Wen also seemed to have discovered the situation, as he sat up and stared deep into the jungle.
The fuzzy picture kept transforming in his mind, and Chen Mu could only do his best to keep the perception within him turning at a steady rate. But with the changes in the fuzzy outline, what he saw was rather abstract. And Chen Mu had to discern what was actually there from those abstract images.
One, two, three . . .
One after another round thing appeared in Chen Mu’s mind, and the first thing he thought of was a person’s head. But he could tell from the outline that those round shapes were larger than a head. What could it be? Chen Mu didn’t have a lot of time to be guessing.
A roar came from deep in the jungle such as he had never heard, and it was coming closer, as a succession of roaring sounds.
“The brilliant ape!” Li Duhong said in a panic.
Bo Wen’s expression changed, and Cheng Ying responded more intensely, as her face turned white. Chen Mu had been paying attention to the look of satisfaction and playfulness that had flashed across Li Duhong’s eyes even while his expression looked panicked.
Eight of them! Chen Mu already knew how many they were. But he didn’t know anything about the power of the brilliant ape, though with eight of them it was enough to make Chen Mu feel endangered. He determined that it would be about a minute until they got there.
Without any hesitation, Chen Mu then started to enter the state of breath control. In general, it would take three minutes of preparation for him to enter that state. But there was only a minute that time. No, probably less than a minute, since that gang of brilliant apes was coming on really fast.
That was a challenge for him! He had to enter the state of breath control before the apes got there.
Bo Wen had already activated his apparatus and was floating in midair in a battle-ready state. Cheng Ying had gathered up Li Duhong and was also floating in midair in combat readiness.
Their adversary had gotten too close, and that gang of brilliant apes had already discovered them, leaving them no time to flee. The apes were really fast, even faster than that twin hook beast which had chased them that day.
Bo Wen and Cheng Ying were looking at Chen Mu from midair as though something were strange, not knowing what he was up to. He wasn’t even going to make any move in that kind of situation? Bo Wen wondered if he could have guessed wrong. To be so still at a time like that, could he actually be in control?
And Cheng Ying was looking worshipfully at Chen Mu, since an ace was an ace, and wouldn’t change his expression in front of the collapse of Mount Amay, unruffled in the midst of chaos.
Li Duhong was looking down at Chen Mu with a lot of curiosity, finding it very strange that he wouldn’t move. Could it be that he wasn’t afraid of the apes?
The brilliant apes were the type of ape with long legs that stood about three meters high. They had a lot of power and moved in groups. They were also among the small number of animals who could use tools, and they were good at using the natural spinulosa wheel as a weapon. The spinulosa wheel was made from the fruit of the spinulosa tree, and was as flat as a plate, having a diameter of between about twenty and thirty centimeters. It had thirteen lateral ribs. After the fruit was dried, it was as hard as steel, and those thirteen lateral ribs turned into thirteen sharp knives, with the thickness of the wheel also getting thinner, while its weight didn’t decrease by much.
The brilliant apes were naturally good at using that type of weapon, and when they threw the spinulosa wheel its power was shocking and they had excellent aim. With such long and powerful legs, they could run extremely fast. And they liked to act in groups, hunting with the spinulosa wheel. They were a very powerful tribe in the jungle.