Chapter 22: Steadfast Loyalty
Perhaps it had no concept of how scary those creatures were, but just now, it came in direct contact with what was known as “death” for the first time.
Zhou Yu didn’t know if it really understood, but his intuition told him that it was actually very intelligent.
Zhou Yu was wet so he deliberately walked under the sunlight where the shade was sparse.
He lifted up the little thing with one hand, then laughed, “Look at your silly expression.”
“Hrrn?” The small fellow tilted its head.
Zhou Yu was suspicious that it was playing a role on purpose, making others think it was both silly and stupid.
“Some people think that we are destined to be this way from the moment we are born. But, you can’t accept this point of view. Once you start to think that way, you’ll never be able to surpass yourself. For example, when you come across a reverse scale dragon, even if you clearly know that it’s stronger than you are, and more dangerous than you are, never, ever, be afraid. As long as you’re not afraid, it won’t think that you’re weak. Do you understand?”
“Mnn…” The little thing listened to Zhou Yu earnestly.
That pair of amber eyes had Zhou Yu’s image reflected in them. Zhou Yu smiled and thought to himself, could this little thing really understand the language of humans?
Against the sun, the edges of its black fluff was faintly suffused with a silver glow.
Zhou Yu unexpectedly thought of that enormous organism that had blocked in front of him in the river.
An inconceivable thought flashed through his mind.
It was quickly rejected.
“If you could really turn into such a big guy… that would completely go against the law of conservation of mass.”
Zhou Yu raised the little thing up high and shook it around. It squinted with a happy expression, thinking that Zhou Yu was playing with it.
Putting it back down, Zhou Yu continued forward.
Most of the day had passed. Zhou Yu was starting to feel hungry, but it was still bearable. The little thing was still lying on his arm, curiously looking around.
Vines had completely covered the surface of an ancient tree and a few light golden fruits were growing on them.
The air was filled with the sweet fragrance of the fruits.
Zhou Yu swallowed. The sweetness seemed to be enticing him. It reminded him of the aroma of the failed apple pie Mei Xi had baked for their team.
Zhou Yu did not go up to it.
The vines were strange. They almost seemed to be strangling the tree and draining its vitality.
And the fruits on the vine were too beautiful.
The moment Zhou Yu looked away, he faintly saw that there were many small organisms struggling underneath the vines. They were slowly being strangled by the vines until their last breath, then the barbed tips of the vines would pierce into their bodies and suck out their nutrients.
Zhou Yu closed his eyes and took a breath. Fortunately, he had held himself back…
Mysteriously, Zhou Yu felt that his hunger pangs were exponentially stronger than before.
He had a desire to rush up and stuff those golden fruits into his belly.
Zhou Yu stepped closer to the vines, and in only that one step, a string stretched taut somewhere in his thoughts. He suddenly stopped.
He couldn’t go any further.
There was something wrong with the fruits! The aroma they emitted could probably reduce an organism’s willpower. Then, after the vines lured it closer, it would become food for the vines!
Just as Zhou Yu took a step back, that sweet scent seemed to become many times thicker than before. His body once again broke away from his control and his heart rate sped up. He was like a marionette, walking forward, step by step. Even though Zhou Yu knew he couldn’t go closer, he was unable to stop himself.
As he came near the vines, it extended itself towards him.
Just a little more, and the vines would be able to wrap around him!
Suddenly, a sharp pain came from Zhou Yu’s finger, as if countless fireworks were bursting in his veins. It cleared away that sweet miasma from his consciousness, and his heartbeat gradually became calm.
Zhou Yu suddenly came to his senses and stepped back. He looked down and found that the vines had already reached the tips of his toes, and felt cold sweat down his back.
Once the vines entangled him, he would share the same fate as those trapped organisms and have the nutrients his body sucked dry.
Zhou Yu quickly retreated. The vines, seeing that they were unable to entice Zhou Yu closer, shrunk back.
Zhou Yu raised his hand and found the little thing biting his finger.
If it wasn’t for it, he would have really died this time.
The little thing kept sucking with a dissatisfied expression, its cheeks puffing out. It angrily looked at Zhou Yu, as if it was saying, “You see? What would you do without me?! You’ll even fall for such a shallow trap, how annoying!”
That’s right, without you, I’d be dead.
Zhou Yu did not deliberately stop it from sucking on his finger, but he was sure that it had broken his skin just now, or else, how could he have snapped out of it?
Quickly leaving the range of the sweet-scented miasma, Zhou Yu pounded his own head a few times. How could he have been so easily been lured in by that fragrance? If he had decisively retreated from the area, nothing would have happened… It seemed like he really was hungry and tired for his willpower to drop to this point.
The little thing saw that Zhou Yu was thinking, so it released his finger and climbed up Zhou Yu’s arm onto his shoulder, rubbing Zhou Yu’s face with the soft fluff on his head.
Zhou Yu smiled and gave it a pat. When he withdrew his hand he found that his fingers were uninjured.
“Tell me, did you suck my blood?” Zhou Yu patted its back.
“Hrrn?” It tilted its head again.
Zhou Yu shook his head and helplessly said, “Forget it. Suck it if you want. Without you, I’d be dead.”
Accepting it, Zhou Yu decided to stop investigating the little thing’s hunting method, as well as what sort of organism it was.
Suddenly, the little thing opened its eyes wide and let out a sharp cry.
At the same time, Zhou Yu felt something quietly approaching him, and before he could even turn around, that thing wrapped around his leg and dragged him away.
Zhou Yu fell to the ground. He finally realized that the vines that had been emitting a sweet scent had secretly been following him and made their move when he’d let down his guard!
The vines dragged away Zhou Yu very quickly, his body scorching with pain from the friction, as if he was being skinned alive.
The little thing caught up to him at lightning speed and jumped onto Zhou Yu’s body, wanting to increase his weight, but to no avail. Next, it jumped onto the vines and started biting them, trying to break them off.
Zhou Yu was not scared by this scenario. Even though all of his equipment was gone, the Swiss Army knife he had tied to his calf was still there. He raised the leg that was not tangled up in the vine and pulled out the army knife, then stabbed it into the vine.
The vine seemed to become enraged, and it dragged Zhou Yu along even more vigorously.
The little thing was still trying its best to bite through the vine, its left wing was already broken from being dragged across the ground.
“Hurry up and go! Idiot!” Zhou Yu was forcefully stabbing the vine with his dagger while using his other hand to try and wave it away, but the little thing kept clinging on and refused to leave.
In the blink of an eye, the vine had dragged him back to that fruit tree.
What Zhou Yu didn’t expect was that when the vines that were twisted around the tree unravelled, layer by layer, it revealed the center of the tree was hollow, like a gaping maw. The vines were actually growing out of the tree! Just before the vines were able to drag Zhou Yu inside, he stabbed the dagger into the ground.
“Ugh!” The vines were too strong. The veins on Zhou Yu’s forearms were bulging, but he was still slowly being pulled inside.
Seeing that it was unable to bite through the vine, the little thing returned to bite down on Zhou Yu’s shoulder, trying its best to drag him outwards.
The vine saw that Zhou Yu was struggling too much and immediately wrapped around him again, tightening its grip.
Zhou was strangled to the point where it became hard for him to breath. All of the bones in his body were about to break, yet he still held onto the dagger and refused to let go.
He knew that once he let go of his only weapon, he would have nothing else to rely on.
Zhou Yu remained steady. He could feel that the little thing that had been biting onto him had also been restrained. This made Zhou Yu feel guilty, but he was also very touched.
If he died, then it was because of his bad luck.
But that little thing… Zhou Yu clenched his teeth and tensed his wrist, but it was futile.
I’m sorry, little thing… I’m starting to lose my strength…
Zhou Yu’s thoughts were slowly slipping into a muddled state.
Fragments of his life flashed by in his mind like the scenes of a revolving lantern. He saw Zhao Cheng, Cheng Chong, and all of his former brothers.
Time seemed to flow in reverse and he thought of when he had walked home from school with Zhou Qing as a kid. The sky was gradually fading into evening and the street lamps were making their shadows stretch out.
Zhou Yu had just had a fight with the boy bullying Zhou Qing and his eyes were swollen.
“When we get back remember to tell mom that I tripped and hurt my eyes,” said Zhou Yu.
“I’m not saying such a stupid excuse.”
“Then what are you going to say?”
“I’ll tell the truth. Someone was trying to bully me, my brother stood up for me and took the hit.”
It completely avoided the active role Zhou Yu had played in the fight and focused on Zhou Yu being the one to get beaten. Their parents would think that Zhou Yu was a good older brother for protecting his sibling while also being the victim, causing them to feel sympathy for him.
That’s right… there was still Zhou Qing…
He couldn’t die, and he didn’t want to die, at least not here.
If he was alone, maybe he would have just given up… But he still had to protect Zhou Qing! He had to see Zhou Qing again! He couldn’t die just like that!
The desire to survive made Zhou Yu plunge his dagger into the edge of the tree hollow the moment he was dragged inside.
Dazed, he felt the vines loosening around him. He finally regained his freedom and he took a deep breath. He was about to go search for the little thing but as soon as he looked up, he saw a woman with one hand propped on the ground. Zhou Yu had never seen such a beautiful woman before, where every expression made his heart thump like crazy.