Chapter 5: The Blooming Blossom
Translator: Mike Editor: Chrissy
Silence befell the blood-imbrued battleground. The crimson peak restored its state of peace and tranquility.
The three mythical creatures seemed to have completely neglected the presence of Chu Feng. Thanks to the long distance he had been keeping from the summit, his presence posed little threat to the beasts uphill. They seemed fairly aloof and indifferent to any of Chu Feng's demeanors, wondering at their composure.
These were three extraordinary creatures with great intelligence.
"Time to leave!"
Chu Feng took the opportunity to leave the place. His compelling curiosity about the bush that had rooted on the bronze peak was not a desperate quest for him to fulfil at once. Although he was keen on giving it a closer look, he was even keener on staying alive.
The delicate fragrance became thicker. It came from the bronze peak.
The mastiff finally moved. It travelled like a lightning bolt, cutting right through the pile of ripraps along the steep slope of the mountain, then it rushed straight towards the peak.
The black yak hauled its enormous body and pursued the trail left by the mastiff unhurriedly. It brandished its bulky horns as it strolled, declaring its prominent presence as well as a sense of superiority over any other worldly beings.
Each of its steps was firm and steady. Along the ragged slope, the seemingly cumbersome yak surprisingly clambered over the precipitous height of the bronze mountain.
That golden bird of prey still lingered in mid-air. Its glittering wings looked as if it had been casted in a bath of liquid gold, beaming with a golden luster. The bird lowered its altitude, flying even closer to the precipice where the bush grew.
Just as Chu Feng was about to leave, that delicate smell of otherworldly fragrance suddenly intensified several times. The bud was about to blossom.
Chu Feng could distinctly hear the sound of a blooming flower. The fist-sized silver bud had burst into an exquisite collection of flourishing petals.
There was a sound as it blossomed!
The fragrance of the flower was assailing to anyone's nose. It was much more intensive, much more hypnotizing, and even more magical than before.
In a split second, all three beasts dashed onto the precipice near the blossom. Their composure completely gave way to an agitated trance as they fiercely sniffed the fragrance. They went all jittery and skittish, as if possessed by some evil spirits who wanted to gulp and swallow all the scent of the flower.
Chu Feng looked back over his shoulder right as this scene occurred. He was stunned by the hysterical demeanors of these beasts.
All three beasts were on the brink of discharging their untamed ferocity and utter wildness onto the others to gain privilege to the scent of the flower. Even with the potential bloodiness of the outcome, none of them seemed afraid.
A string of soft sound came in succession. The petals continued to bloom as they glittered with beads of drizzly dew. With each blossom of a petal, the fragrance intensified even more.
Chu Feng was truly amazed. What flower could this be? Its fragrance was so alluring that he almost couldn't restrain his urge to turn around and dash towards that peak.
At the top of the three-inch tall bush, the fist-sized silver bud finally developed into a full blossom. As the dew vaporized into a sheet of pale mist, it evolved into a foil of white fog, pervading in the air above the bronze precipice. The whole summit, enshrouded in fog and mist, had become a fairyland.
The petals were spotted with golden speckles, with each of them projecting a ray of golden glitter in unison like a sky of sparkling stars, illuminating the pale fog as well as the bronze precipice.
This was a surpassingly beautiful sight. It was an alluring one too.
The three creatures were waiting for this moment, the moment when the flower came in full blossom.
The beasts had unleashed their wildest nature to fight and scramble for the flower. All wanted to keep the mystical plant in their sole possession.
The yak's stamp was powerful enough to tremble the summit of the mountain.
The golden vulture opened its formidable talons in mid-air. A hasty dive was soon followed by a gruesome laceration of the coarse skin of the yak.
The menacing mastiff roared like a thunderclap. It growled while brandishing its cutting fangs.
During their bloodthirsty fight, the beasts were still busy sniffing the scent of the flower, desperately seizing every second of fragrance that the flower could give off.
One of the mastiff's claw brushed by the flower, leaving marks of scratches on the bush.
The wind bellowed as the golden vulture dived down, striking the mastiff from above. The bird landed its sharp claws on the mastiff to try to rupture its skin.
They had avoided clashes earlier as they all feared each other's power. But after the blossom had bloomed, the alluring scent of the flower had rendered them fearless and desperate. All came with the same goal. All wanted death for the others.
While the golden vulture fluttered its wings, a few petals withered and fell under the claw of the mastiff. They were carried away by the bellowing wind to the depths of the canyon.
The falling petals were soaked with vapors from the pale fog. They were drifting in the wind towards Chu Feng.
Chu Feng managed to catch one, but its strong fragrance almost intoxicated him. With careful scrutiny, he saw that the inner wall of this spotted golden petal was also strewed with sparkling crystals.
A layer of pollen was attached to the inner wall.
Chu Feng reached out his hand to catch all four petals. Two of them were less scented than the other two only because less pollen were attached to them.
All three beasts fighting uphill at the bronze summit looked down with a glance before their bloodthirsty fight continued. Their glare was piercingly cold.
Having realized the danger of his situation, Chu Feng tightly clutched the petals in his fist.
But soon he realized something strange. The petals in his hand were no longer warm and humid as they had been. It felt as if the warmth of his hand had wilted the petals in a matter of seconds. He unfolded his fist, but the sparkling crystals were no longer there. The petals had, too, withered and shrivelled.
They lost their luster and vitality in almost an instant.
What caused this?
Still astonished by the strange incidence, he scrapped the rest of the dehydrated petals, throwing them down into the canyon. Then he shouted in the direction of the fight, "Here you have it!"
Then, decisively, he turned around, no longer paying attention to anything that happened. He tried to free his mind, focusing only on the downhill path ahead.
Even so, he still could not resist contemplating the cause for the rapid withering of those petals. How did it become wilted at the very second it came into contact with his hand? The abruptness in its metamorphosis was strange beyond understanding.
He did not pause for even a second when he passed by the bronze houses and the bronze tablet. He only wished that he could leave this place sooner than he could.
His scurrying pace still took him a while before he could return to the foot of the mountain. It was almost evening. Around the descending sun, the clouds glowed purple. The typical summer tints suffused the horizon.
Fortunately, those extraordinary beasts did not pursue in his path.
Chu Feng was completely worn out. He was all sweaty and moist. It was a rather intensive round of work-out just by running downhill along the steep trail through the bushes. However fit Chu Feng might be, this prolonged journey had truly made him weary and bedraggled.
Chu Feng sat down by a boulder as he panted for breath. He could still hear the rapid thumps of his beating heart even after minutes of rest. He took a long swig from his bottle and noisily gulped the water inside it.
Looking over his shoulder at the mountain behind him, he felt more mystified than ever.
The bronze tablet of Western King, the mythical terrace of bronze houses, and then the bronze precipice. All were mythical in their own ways, but all were similarly suggesting that the core of this towering mountain might, in fact, be entirely composed of copper and bronze.
If possible, he would like to peel off the rocky veneer of this mountain so that he could carefully examine the composition of its internal core.
This mountain was only one amongst the hundreds that existed in the Kunlun Mountain Range. What were the secrets hidden beneath this mythical continent?
"I must get moving now. In case those beasts decide to go after me, I will be in great danger."
There were earthquakes a few days earlier, forming dozens of fissures on the mountain. The ground at sea level had not escaped its impact either. Many gaping void had punctured the ground, so Chu Feng had to be extra careful as he walked on the ruptured landscape.
By sheer accident, he noticed a cube-shaped stone stuck in one of these fissures. It had a very regular shape, and that was something rare to be found in nature.
Chu Feng picked it up without putting much thought into it. Without lingering, he was once again on the road.
He had been experiencing a strange feeling inside his body ever since the start of his downhill trek. Occasionally, there was a stream of tingling warmth flowing through his blood and flesh. He was unsure whether it was just an illusion.
But every time as he tried to understand this strange feeling, it disappeared; then it would once again come back the moment he forgot it.
Illusion? Or allergic reaction?
He was worrying that maybe his body's perception had been out of whack.
"It started from this hand."
He unfolded his left hand. He was sure that this was where the feeling originated. However, there was nothing there.
"Could this be related to that strange and rapid wilting of petals in my hand?"
Chu Feng pushed on with his journey as he tried to make sense of it all. He was worried that things might not have been as simple as he thought. That wilting seemed less and less like an accident.
Those petals could form pale fogs. This mysterious ability seemed even more ominous when coupled with the strange spotted appearance that the petals featured.
To Chu Feng, the Kunlun Mountains might seem a sight of the past, but this visit, though brief and incomplete, had truly pounded his existent ideas and perceptions. Everything made him want to think more and to think differently.
"None of those three beasts was normal either. But seeing how all three of them fiercely attempted to have that flower in their possession should prove that the flower is nothing harmful."
Though troubled by many concerns, Chu Feng still liked to think that the flower itself should not be detrimental in any ways. Otherwise it wouldn't have evoked such a brutal fight between those intelligent beasts of prey.
He was yet to convince himself that he was in no harm. But for now, he didn't want to be troubled by these whimsical worries for longer than necessary. He sped up his pace, scurrying in the direction where the residential area of herdsmen was located.
As the dusk shaded into night, the vast plateau became especially quiet. Only roars of beasts could occasionally pierce through the silence of night, adding to the vastness and bleakness of the desolate highland.
Chu Feng decided to embark upon his homeward journey after having spent tonight in a herdsman's tent.
At night, he was quietly reading. That stream of warmth still lingered in his system. It was subtle and elusive. At times it could be vaguely felt, then the feeling would dissipate, returning his body back to normal.
At last, he heaved a sigh and got to his feet. "Let nature take its course."
He had been trying in every possible way, but he realized that the more he tried, the vaguer that feeling became. On the contrary, he found out that his indifference to it might actually make it more predictable and more traceable.
"Pollen. Catalytic agent," Chu Feng softly murmured these words as he suddenly recalled something.
When he parted from college after graduation, Lin Naoi's family had once sent for a car to pick her up. Those words were mentioned, though vaguely. He was nowhere near her when those words were exchanged between them, so he couldn't really pick up many words from their conversation.
Although they had parted company, he still wanted to formally kiss her goodbye. But her family's cold attitude killed off any of his lingering hopes of interaction. Chu Feng only waved her goodbye before he turned his back.
Slightly lost in thought, he unwittingly noticed the presence of a stone beside him.
"It is so rare so see a stone having such a regular shape."
He weighed the stone in his hand. Despite its cubic shape, there were no edges. It was a bit smooth. To Chu Feng, its roundish shape seemed like the work of a previous polishing job.
Chu Feng carefully examined the stone. He noticed some vaguely shaped grains and lines on its surface. Were these naturally formed?
The grains were quite faint. They were something that could be easily ignored if not carefully examined.
"Is this man-made?"
He didn't notice these details at all when he first acquired at the foot of the mountain. It was all an inadvertent act that the stone was picked up. Throughout his journey, Chu Feng had been carried away by concerns about the bronze mountain while the stone was only being absent-mindedly tossed about in his hand before it ended up in the herdsman's tent.
Now, he suddenly realized that there might be something special about it.
The stone was about three inches tall. It was a brown cube faintly surrounded by vague grains around it. They looked like the work of a cirrus, but also similar to some naturally-formed markings. Overall, it was an old-looking stone.
Could this possibly be a stone tool left behind by some ancient tribes? He supposed.
Chu Feng tossed about the stone in his hand, carefully fondling those markings. Suddenly, it whirred and clicked, exploding with noises that would sound rather piercing and discordant in such peace of a night.