Chapter 32: The Aging of Youths in a Flash
The tiger’s roar shook the heavens and leaves started to fly all around. The loud roar resonated between heaven and earth like thunder or the crashing of waves making their faces drain of colour as they realised it came from where they were previously resting.
Pang Bo and Zhang Zi Ling exchanged glances, they knew that Liu Yun Zhi and his cronies were done for. After being found by the adult tiger within its den they had no way to continue living. The Sabre-toothed tiger was naturally vicious and it was looking after its cubs making it especially ferocious.
The faces of the others were pale, they had just left the Forbidden Ancient Desolate land and almost ran into a vicious beast, continuing forward it would be impossible to imagine what they could possibly encounter. Thinking of this, even though the nights in the forbidden land were filled with a deathly aura, the days were much safer.
“After getting away from the crocodile ancestor and experiencing all kinds of hardships, we travelled through the desolation of space and finally arrived at a planet filled with life. Losing our lives here would really be such a pity.” Zhou Yi gazed at the forest two to three Li away.
The tiger’s roars were definitely a result of Liu Yun Zhi and his cronies, thinking of this made them feel shivers go down their spines. Images of blood and gore filled their heads, the ferocious tiger rending apart three bodies, its sharp claws and white teeth covered in fresh blood and gnawing on flesh. That frightening image made their backs cover in cold sweat.
“Let’s get out of here!”
They definitely could not tarry in this area any longer, within the vicinity of the den was the ferocious tiger’s territory. Only after rushing another four to five Li* did everyone stop to catch their breath.
[ Li = 500 meters]
“Why is this forest so quiet, could it be that we’ve gone into another ancient forbidden ground?”
Ancient trees were all around that were tall and seemed to cover the sky. The forest was silent and there were no birds chirping or the sounds of beasts, no butterflies were flying around and it seemed that all the animals had vanished without a trace.
The direction they were headed in was certainly correct however the group felt that something was off and were very wary of their surroundings.
After advancing for another two thousand metres or so, different kinds of ancient trees could be seen. A vast expanse of space appeared before their eyes, it was a flatten hilly area that appeared rather firm and arid. Stepping on the ground felt like it was made of marble. Not even a blade of grass was growing* except for a few huge rocks lying around.
“It’s so dark up ahead, what is that?”
“It seems like an……. extremely large lake that was completely black!”
This area was covered in huge boulders and they had blocked the group’s line of sight. After bypassing those rocks they could clearly see the scenery in front of them and it was startling.
An enormous lake was situated in front, it was silent like a slab of iron, there were no waves and what made people alarmed was that it was pitch black in colour like ink, alarmingly black.
“Now I truly understand that there is dirty water in this world. No matter who sees this lake would be filled with a sense of unease. I’ve never seen such pitch black lake water before.
The black lake emitted a deathly aura, there were no signs of life and the surroundings of the lake were barren, even grass was absent. This area seemed to be void of any form of life.
“It seems….. It seems that there’s some sort of sound.” A female classmate said while trembling, her skin pale.
At this moment, the others heard a faint noise that was very weird, it was low pitched and sounded like whimpers of pain.
Suddenly, a sound of breaking could be heard and it seemed that something solid had been broken apart.
“There…… It’s there!” Liu Yi Yi was pale as she pointed to the shore of the black lake. There was a large boulder that was several tens of metres in length.
It seemed like something was leaning against the back of the huge boulder, only a small portion of it’s body could be seen. It’s leather skin was raven black and seemed cold and metallic, giving off the lustre of black platinum*.
[The word used is 乌金]
“What is that thing?!” Everyone was alarmed.
“Don’t care about it! Let’s hurry and leave this place!”
A large black lake surrounded by a barren hilly area, any creature or beast that resided here will not be too friendly.
The sound of breaking transmitted over again and a low pitched roar that seemed to be filled with pain could be heard. It seemed to be struggling as it flipped its body over and knocked into the large boulder.
The huge boulder which was seven to eight metres in height and tens of metres across but it had been knocked down and rolled into the ink-like depths of the lake as a black wave rippled across the lake.
It was at this moment that the group could finally see clearly what the vicious beast looked like. It was three metres long and about one and a half metres tall, it was not as big as they had imagined but this was shocking as well. The three metre long body had actually managed to easily knock the large boulder into the lake, it could be imagined the strength contained within that body.
“What is that thing?!”
Nobody had seen such an animal before, it did not have fur nor did it have scales covering it. It seemed to have been cast from black iron, its body was jet-black and had a metallic sheen to it.
It was no longer than three metres and looked like a jet-black piece of iron, seemingly very firm and filled with untold strength. At a glance it looked like a strong bull but on closer inspection it was vastly different. There were nine sharp horns on its head that seemed to radiate an eerie black glow. It actually had five eyes which emitted a blood red light. From its mouth that was slightly ajar, rows of half a Chi long sinister sharp teeth could be seen making it seem cruel and giving off a fiendish aura.
This was a frightening wild beast that had never been seen before, one glance and it was clear that it was vicious. Standing far away and looking at it made their hearts palpitate.
“It seems to be shedding its skin……” Someone softly said in alarm.
On the back of the black beast was a hole that was slowly ripping apart showing the new body within. It was darker and glossier inside and seemed to have been made from black platinum.
“Hurry, let’s leave! We should escape from this place while it is still shedding its skin!”
It seemed to be like a cicada as it shed its skin. This shedding of skin occurring on a beast was very unusual and made it seem like an evil monster. It was fortunate that it was clearing shedding its skin otherwise who knew what the monster would do.
If they could lure that sabre-toothed tiger that had roared like thunder here, it would most likely be like a small meek cat in front of this vicious monster. It could easily knock such a large boulder into the lake, it was simply impossible to guess how frightening such a beast would be.
Everyone was more scared than being hurt*as they skirted past the black lake, the low and painful roars were slowly becoming further away before finally disappearing.
[idiom*: to get through a daunting experience without mishap
After scaling another small mountain, they saw the peak of the tall mountain. The buildings was now even more visible and it was clear that was a construction of a massive scale, the halls(of a palace) seem to extend forever into the distance. This resembled a celestial palace that descended upon the mortal world.
“Why do I feel feverish?” A female student said with embarrassment to a female classmate by her side.
“I have a similar feeling.”
At this moment everyone realised that something weird was going on with their bodies. Their skin was a frightening red and it looked like blood would burst out at any time. Everyone was feeling a searing heat and the insides of the bodies felt as though a raging fire was burning.
This was clearly not a result of the weather, rather, it was their bodies that were in a peculiar condition. Everyone gradually felt pain from their skin and flesh as though they were being roasted alive in an oven
“I …… can’t bear this anymore! It’s so torturous!”A female student crouched on the floor in pain and shouted: “It’s so painful! It feels like my blood and flesh are about to dry up!” She could not control herself as her tears streamed down her face as she rolled on the ground.
Soon after, the second and third student also could not bear it anymore as streaks of blood could be seen rupturing from their skin. They too fell to the ground and started to roll about.
“What is happening! What has happened to us?!”
Everybody recognised that the situation looked grim. At this point nobody could stand and they had mostly fallen to the ground. Cries of pain could be heard as their skin seemed to be peeling off, as though a knife was slicing through their skin, the pain was simply unbearable.
“Aaahh…” Someone could not bear it no longer as he screamed and rolled around leaving traces of blood all over the ground.
“I don’t want to die!” Someone screamed in fright.
A disaster had suddenly befallen them and nobody knew how or why this was happened. They were unsure of what was happening to their bodies and only felt as though their bodies were being sliced apart as though they were slowly being dismembered.
“Let me die, it’s too painful!”
Struggling, crying, tumbling, shouting, people were filled with despair as they loudly screamed. The intense pain made them lose their clarity as they everything became blurry.
Finally, everybody’s bodies were covered with a layer of blood mist that seemed like a blazing blood red fire. The painful cries filled the area and all the birds and animals had vacated.
This was an inhumane torture, it was as though the body was in purgatory and going through the most miserable tortures in the world. Eventually the intense pain caused everyone to faint and nobody could maintain their consciousness.
It was unknown how long had passed as the mountain finally became silent again and the cries of anguish dissipated.
Two hours later, Ye Fan who was lying down on the wild grass was the first to recover. The sky was blue and there were the sounds of birds and bugs in the area. He hastily sat up and realised that his body was no longer in pain, it felt as though it was filled with energy and he felt very relaxed. It seemed that his body was filled with untold energy and he could even tear apart a saber-toothed tiger.
It was at this moment that Ye Fan felt that something was amiss. The clothes on his body seemed to have grown larger and those worn on his body seemed to be very loose, a total misfit. From within the long sleeve he reached out his hands and upon seeing them, the calm demeanor that he usually had was lost as he exclaimed. Were these still his hands? Such small and sleek hands, these were something that an adult could not possibly have.
Ye Fan stood up speedily and he felt that everything was inconceivable. At this moment the clothes on his body were too big, as though he were a performer in an opera. He realised that it was not the clothes on his body that had gotten large, rather, his body had become smaller and he seemed to be barely eleven of twelve.
At this moment, Pang Bo who was nearby also woke up and after rubbing his eyes he looked at Ye Fan who stood beside him and had an expression of shock as he said: “Damn kid who are you? Where did you come from and why the f*** are you wearing Ye Fan’s clothes?!”
Having said this he realised that something was wrong as he flipped his body and stood up. Thereafter he let out a shout as though he had seen a ghost.
“Why are my clothes too big, no, why is my body so small?” Having realised this he looked at Ye Fan in shock as he stammered: “You….. You are Ye Fan?” He covered his mouth as he realised that his voice was soft and immature like a youth.
Looking at Pang Bo, Ye Fan was also stunned. That was a tender, young and immature looking youth that looked to be only eleven of twelve but he could still vaguely see the shadows of the adult Pang Bo.
“What happened to us?” Pang Bo came to Ye Fan’s side as he excitedly shouted. He was in shock.
“I think….. we’ve returned back to our childhood.” Ye Fan was shocked and did not understand but could only make a judgement based on their current looks.
“F***! How can this sort of thing happen to us?!” Pang Bo loudly shouted as he had difficulty believing and understanding how such an impossible thing had happened.
“Let’s hurry and check what the others look like.”
Ye Fan called to him as they started to climb the mountain. They had previously rolled off the side of the mountain for tens of metres and it was thankful that the slope of the mountain was gentle and full or vegetation that they managed to avoid any danger. It could be imagined how violent their struggles were and thinking back the pain they had been through was simply unimaginable.
Reaching the mountain peak. Ye Fan and Pang Bo were stunned, Pang Bo shouted: “Who are these old and elderly folk?!”
What they saw in front of their eyes made the two petrified, their hearts palpitated as they considered what could have possibly happened.
There were over a dozen bodies lying disorderly on the ground and anywhere the eye could see, bodies that had a head full of white hair and withered skin, that was looking especially old. These people all wore familiar clothes and guessing that they were seventy or eighty years in age would be no exaggeration. They simply looked withered with old age.
“They…… couldn’t possible be Zhou Yi, Wang Zi Wen, Lin Jia, Li Xiao Man and the others?!”
The aging of youths in a snap of the fingers, both people felt their mouths were dry and they stood there like statues as they stared.