Chapter 30: Mo Ye’s Freedom
He took two steps and found that the bottom of the cave, which had been filled with all kinds of creatures, seemed to be empty now.
Was everything he experienced before an illusion, or had it been real?
Zhou Yu stepped onto the soft branches and leaves, leaving behind footprints with every step.
He took a deep breath. Was Elpis truly dead?
Was that why all the organisms that were dependant on Elpis left?
Or, were they controlled by Elpis in the first place, and now they were free?
Zhou Yu looked up, feeling his own breathing and heartbeat.
He was still alive. It was almost inconceivable, but he was still alive.
He had to get back to the base… he didn’t know if Wu Yun had made it back safely yet! And Zhou Qing would be very worried if he did not return.
After searching for some time, Zhou Yu finally found the rope that had fallen down when Wu Yun left.
With it, Zhou Yu could at least go back from the way he came.
When he finally walked out from the stone path, he saw that the ancient trees that had once guarded Elpis were dead.
The world was terribly quiet.
Zhou Yu walked for a long time before he was able to get out.
He was hungry and tired, as if what had happened after he fell into Elpis sapped him of his energy.
Suddenly, he remembered that there were two of the fruits that Mo Ye had fetched for him in his pocket. He did not know if they were edible, but if he didn’t consume anything, then Zhou felt like he would collapse on the spot.
He took one out and found that it was still intact after having been through so much. It didn’t even show any signs of dehydration or wrinkling.
Without caring for whether it was dangerous to ingest or not after being soaked in Elpis’ golden liquid, Zhou Yu tossed it into his mouth.
It was still sweet.
His body felt like it had been charged with a surge of energy. Zhou Yu no longer felt as tired as he had been earlier.
He had only been thinking of Zhou Qing and Wu Yun, he still didn’t know what happened to Mo Ye.
Would it be foolish enough to run at the glass wall again?
Is it waiting to bite his finger?
He hoped that it had met Zhou Qing, behaved properly, and not done anything foolish.
He missed the soft fluff on its back, its droopy ears, and its fluttering little wings.
Zhou Yu smiled bitterly.
He didn’t know what kind of gaze Song Zhi would meet him with when he returned.
The helicopter carrying team alpha came to the mouth of the cave.
When they looked down from above, they were stunned by the scene before them.
It was like a giant flower had withered and fallen, its petals spread around the bottom of the cave.
Following the setting sun, moonlight had wandered in. Like the hemline of a skirt flowing with the moonlight, its rings signified each passing year. Turning around and around, continuing to age.
The members of team alpha slid down along ropes extended from the helicopter to the bottom of the cave, where they released their flares.
Everything became illuminated as clear as the day.
They inspected every inch of the place and found Zhao Xiaoping lying unconscious in a corner.
They sent Zhao Xiaoping to the helicopter, but they did not find Zhou Yu.
One of the team members saw the clear pool of liquid in the middle of the cave. He took some of the liquid with a sampler before leaving.
Nighttime in Nibelungen was dangerous, some of the nocturnal, winged organisms could take the chance to attack them. They had to return as soon as possible.
When they flew over the forest, they saw the withered guardians of Elpis. They were shocked at what had happened.
One of the team members suddenly pointed to the forest and shouted, “There… Isn’t there someone walking?”
The pilot turned on the searchlights and aimed into the woods.
Zhou Yu, who had been on his trek back, was blinded by the strong light and raised his hand to shield his eyes.
“Is that Zhou Yu?”
“Looks like it! Let’s go down! We must bring him back to the base!”
The helicopter hovered over Zhou Yu, and the members of the team alpha dropped down from their ropes while carrying guns.
They didn’t know what had happened to Zhou Yu in that cave, or if he was still in a normal state, so all their guns were loaded with the muzzles aimed at Zhou Yu.
“Are you Zhou Yu?”
“I am.” Zhou Yu didn’t expect for the base to send people to find him. Zhou Yu should have been long dead to them.
“We were sent by Mr. Song to look for you. Please come with us.”
And so, Zhou Yu was escorted into the helicopter.
The two team members sitting opposite to Zhou Yu remained alert the entire journey with their guns pointed at him. For the first time, Zhou Yu felt as if he had become a dangerous creature.
After they arrived at the base, everything proceeded in the same way as last time. Zhou Yu went through a full-body scan, blood tests, and a series of examinations before officially entering the inside of the base.
Song Zhi personally supervised his examination process.
“Blood content is normal, no bacterial or viral infections, no parasites, except…”
“Except what?” Song Zhi motioned for them to continue.
The researcher pointed to Zhou Yu’s brain activity displayed on the monitor, “This scan shows that his brain activity is at a much higher level than before.”
“Is that so…” Song Zhi narrowed his eyes in thought.
When Zhou Yu stepped out of the isolation zone, the first thing he saw was Wu Yun and Zhou Qing.
Wu Yun’s eyes were red, he hadn’t expected to see Zhou Yu again. Zhou Qing’s expression was much calmer than what Zhou Yu had imagined, as if his safe return was within his expectations.
“How many times are you going to come back from the dead, kid?” Wu Yun’s voice was trembling. “Do you know how many times I’ve wanted to kill myself since I left that cave?”
Zhou Yu gave him a wry smile and fist-bumped Wu Yun, “Luckily, you didn’t go through with it.”
Wu Yun shook his head helplessly, then hugged Zhou Yu tightly. “You have to tell me how you survived.”
“Of course.” Zhou Yu also patted Wu Yun. Then his gaze fell to Zhou Qing.
“Brother… Just be safe. Don’t make such a dangerous decision again in the future.”
“I’ll be careful.” Zhou Yu nodded.
“You should go see Mo Ye. It hasn’t been well since it woke up to find you gone.”
Zhou Yu’s felt his heartstrings being harshly tugged at, “Not well? Was it running into the glass wall again?”
That little fool!
“No, it’s been huddled in a corner. Even when I went inside to accompany it, it didn’t react. The biological scans showed that its body temperature is decreasing and its heart rate is slowing down. It also hasn’t eaten anything.”
“Did Carlos feed it anything?”
“A specially formulated nutrient solution that looks like human blood. We don’t know if it’s because Mo Ye recognizes that it’s not blood or if Mo Ye just wants to see you, but once it made up its mind to refuse it, its body also rejected it. Nothing could be injected into it and it won’t eat anything.”
“I’ll go see it!”
Looking after Zhou Yu’s retreating back, Zhou Qing slowly clenched his fist. In his hand, he held the fruit of Elpis that the S rank organism had given him.
Zhou Yu strode into the area where Mo Ye was located. The first thing he saw was Mo Ye curled up in a corner.
It was so small and lonely.
Zhou Yu’s heart inexplicably started aching.
Carlos, who was in charge of taking care of Mo Ye, came to Zhou Yu looking greatly stressed out, “That little guy has been like this since you left. No response to anything. It’s killing me! When I heard about your accident, I was wondering if it was going to starve itself if you didn’t come back!”
“It won’t die without eating for just a few days.” Zhou Yu tapped on the glass with his finger. “Mo Ye.”
Mo Ye didn’t respond, even its drooping ears didn’t lift up.
“You see…” Carlos looked worried.
“I’ll go inside and keep it company.”
Carlos opened the double doors for Zhou Yu, who walked to Mo Ye and sat down beside it.
He put his hand on its back and gently reached his fingers into the soft fluff on Mo Ye. Its temperature really was very low.
He did not speak. Copying its actions from when it had acted spoiled, he picked it up and rubbed against its face.
But Mo Ye’s eyes remained shut and it slightly moved its head away without looking at Zhou Yu.
Zhou Yu secretly smiled. The little thing was clearly throwing a tantrum.
“Mo Ye, I went on a very dangerous mission, so I couldn’t stay by your side. Zhou Qing said he came to accompany you, but you ignored him. You were really very bad, hmm? Zhou Qing is my most important person, you know?” Zhou Yu’s voice was gentle.
Other than when Zhou Qing had been bullied by his classmates as a child, Zhou Yu had not coaxed anyone like this in a long time.
“Hrrn…” Mo Ye finally perked up its left ear and placed it against Zhou Yu’s chest, as if to listen to his heartbeat.
“I almost died. Do you know what death means? It means that you can never see me again, I will disappear forever.” Zhou Yu rubbed his chin against Mo Ye’s head.
“Hrrn?” Mo Ye suddenly opened its eyes and looked up at Zhou Yu with its small head. It seemed very very nervous. Even the small wings on its back were raised up.
“Compared to the organisms of Nibelungen… No… Even compared to you, my lifespan is not even worth mentioning.”
Night spirits will live forever if they are not fatally injured.
“Hrrn—” Mo Ye stretched out the tone, then it shook its head. It stretched it front paws to press down once on Zhou Yu’s forehead before shrinking back down.
Zhou Yu seemed to understand what it was saying: I am with you. If you’re not here, then I won’t exist either.
“Idiot.” Zhou Yu embraced it tightly.
Carlos, who was monitoring them, let out the breath that he was holding.
It was the first time that he had ever seen any human come into such close contact with an organism from Nibelungen. He did not know what Zhou Yu had experienced, but he was very glad that Zhou Yu had come back alive.
Zhou Yu poked its nose and asked, “Are you hungry?”
Mo Ye squinted its large amber eyes, looking very happy. It stretched out its tongue and licked Zhou Yu’s fingertips.
Zhou Yu thought it would bite him immediately, but he did not expect for it to stretch out its claws and hold onto Zhou Yu’s fingers.
As if to say: I will protect you.
Don’t give me any more warmth.
I am afraid that one day, when I can leave this place, I will not be able to let you go.
Mo Ye loosened its claws to carefully take Zhou Yu’s finger into its mouth. It bit down gently on it as if it was afraid of causing Zhou Yu pain.
That subtle sensation once again surged through his blood, as if there were innumerably thin and warm streams infiltrating the gap between every cell in Zhou Yu’s body and filling him up, becoming one with him.
Mo Ye closed its eyes and made a gulping sound.
It was very hungry.
Zhou Yu could feel Mo Ye’s temperature rising.
He didn’t know if it was because Mo Ye was sucking his own blood, but Zhou Yu had an illusion that his and Mo Ye’s heartbeats were in sync.
After eating its fill, Mo Ye still did not loosen Zhou Yu’s fingers.
It turned over slightly to reveal its belly.
Amused, Zhou Yu laid his other hand over Mo Ye and rubbed it.
Mo Ye immediately made soft, comfortable noises.
When Zhou Yu pointed his finger to the left, Mo Ye’s head followed him to the left. When Zhou Yu turned his finger around the right side, Mo Ye’s head followed him to the right.
It seemed to know that Zhou Yu was teasing it. Dissatisfied, Mo Ye lightly bit down on Zhou Yu to gnaw on him, but there was no pain.
He sat for more than an hour holding Mo Ye, who snored softly when it had fallen asleep again.
Probably because Zhou Yu was back, Mo Ye finally felt at ease.
As Zhou Yu raised his head, he looked past the glass wall to its opposite side. Song Zhi was looking at them thoughtfully.
Song Zhi gestured at Zhou Yu to come outside. Zhou Yu knew that he had to tell Song Zhi everything he experienced in Elpis’ cave.
“Carlos, if Mo Ye wakes up and starts throwing a tantrum again, tell it I’ll be back in a minute.”
“Does it understand?” Carlos asked dumbly.
“What do you think?”
Zhou Yu left with a chuckle and followed Song Zhi to his office.
“Team alpha took some liquid samples from Elpis’ cave.” Song Zhi always went straight to the point.
The lifespan of a human is very short for Nibelungen, so they had to do as much research as possible in a limited time frame and not waste their time on nonsense.
“So there will be research results soon?” Zhou Yu asked.
Song Zhi shook his head. “It was just water. But… It was pure water free of any microorganisms or impurities.”
“It’s like Elpis used up all of its nutrients in an instant.” Song Zhi looked into Zhou Yu’s eyes. “When Wu Yun came back, he reported to me that Elpis controlled others through their thoughts.”
“Yes. It controlled the researcher Zhao Xiaoping.”
“Zhao Xiaoping is back, but he hasn’t woken up yet. After detecting that he has almost no brain activity, Dr. Daniel suspected that he would suffer brain-death if his condition persisted. This may be the consequence of being controlled by Elpis.”
Zhou Yu did not agree with this view. So many of the creatures in the cave were controlled by Elpis. After Elpis had dried up, those creatures left.
“We brought all the remains of Elpis from the cave back to base.”
Zhou Yu was surprised, “Its remains are pretty large…”
“Yes. The research team is dissecting it. Although it’s morphologically a plant, its nervous system is far more complex than that of human beings. When you sacrificed yourself to save Wu Yun, you said that Elpis’ goal was you. If it was going to use you for nourishment, why are you alive and back here now?
“The reason is simple… Elpis did not regard me as food or a source of nutrition, but as…” Zhou Yu thought about how to describe the relationship between him and Elpis.
“As a vector for its memory, the inheritor of its thought. Elpis passes down everything it sees from generation to generation. But this Elpis lost its fruit, so it needed another creature to accept its memory.”
Song Zhi’s eyes were bright as he grabbed Zhou Yu’s wrist. “Elpis is an extremely ancient organism in Nibelungen. If it gave you its own memory, then the organisms here… Do you know all of their habits and characteristics?”
Although Song Zhi was strong, Zhou Yu easily broke free from his grip.
“Mr. Song, do you believe it?”
To anyone else, it all sounded like complete nonsense. Memories inherited from a plant?
It was more absurd than a fantasy movie.
“Is there an S rank organism in Elpis’ memory whose original form is a translucent, silver-scaled creature…?”
“Is that the S rank organism that stole away your wife?” Zhou Yu interrupted Song Zhi.
“Yes. Did you get any relevant information from Elpis? Where can I find it? Is there any way to kill it?” Song Zhi’s eyes shone with crazed light, looking terrible.
“Mr. Song… You should know that S rank organisms do not have a fixed form because they can change their appearance at will and become anything. They can even become human beings and mingle in with us.”
Song Zhi showed a startled expression and fell back into his chair.
“I don’t know what the research team has named the creature you’re talking about, but since you described translucent, silver scales, a slender body, and an arrogant and aloof personality, then it should be an organism that has been around in Nibelungen since ancient times. Night spirits are its servants, just like what the swordbone butterflies and bluelight fireflies are to Elpis. No…unlike them, the night spirit is absolutely loyal to it.”
Song Zhi’s breathing gradually became even again. He pressed a hand to his face and said, “Do you know how many main types of S rank organisms there are in Nibelungen?”
“I do. There are three main types: those in the water, on land, and in the air.”
“Yes, we call those three types of S rank organisms the Kings of Nibelungen. And that silver-scaled creature is known as the king of kings.”
“There is a rumor that you injured it.”
“Yes, the neurotoxins in the bullets that you are using comes from its spinal cord. It lost a large amount of its spinal cord, but it still escaped from my control. I don’t know where it is slumbering now, but once it recovers, we will all die.” Something suddenly occurred to Song Zhi, “You just said that the night spirit is its servant? Don’t you have a night spirit? Can’t you find it through that little thing?”
“Mo Ye? It’s still small! It never grew up in its own community and it hasn’t even seen an S rank organism before!”
“But… Some things are coded into its genes. That creature must have a way of keeping in touch with its master!”
“I think you’re crazy, Mr. Song. Nibelungen is so big, and Mo Ye is like a baby. If it really has the ability to find its master, if it really has anything to do with that S rank organism, then it wouldn’t have been so insistent on entering this base to come and find me. Instead, it would have gone to find its master, where it belongs.”
“… Indeed… It is a direct replication of the gene extracted from the dead, unhatched egg of a night spirit… Maybe it doesn’t have the same nature as the other creatures in Nibelungen, but one day it will… For that day to come, for it to stand on our side…”
Song Zhi seemed to have an important decision to make.
His paranoid expression made Zhou Yu inexplicably worried.
“I’ve decided to let it live with you outside of the raising area for A rank organisms. I want it to be free, and for it to restore its true nature as a night spirit while refraining from causing any harm to us, as long as you are here. I want you to train it, teach it, and assimilate it!”
Zhou Yu gaped with his mouth open, everything had developed completely outside of his expectations.
It was indeed Zhou Yu’s desire to have Mo Ye leave that place, but Zhou Yu never wanted Mo Ye to become a tool or pet for human beings.
Song Zhi contacted Carlos directly and asked him to give Mo Ye to Zhou Yu.
When Zhou Yu was leaving Song Zhi’s office, Song Zhi suddenly stopped him and said, “You haven’t told me how to kill it yet.”
“As you know, it is extremely powerful. Mr. Song, how did you manage to injure it the first time? That may be how you can kill it.”
After that, Zhou Yu left.
Song Zhi sat alone in his empty yet narrow office with a sorrowful expression in his eyes.
“Kill it again? That’s impossible… Because it will never trust me again.”
Zhou Yu came to where Carlos was. Worried, Carlos asked him, “Is Mr. Song really okay? I don’t want that little guy to be locked up all the time, it’s going to get depressed if we keep it in there! But if you let it out like this, won’t it run away?”
Zhou Yu patted Carlos on the shoulder: “I will take it back here regularly to let you check its heart rate and body temperature. With me here… it will come back even if it runs away.”
If you see any places where I’ve referred to Mo Ye as “him” or “he”, please tell me so that I can correct it, we don’t know that information yet.