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Chapter 380: Forgotten One
The beast's skin shone with a dark-crimson luster. It had muscles upon muscles, and the very top of them was paved with a layer of fine scales. Its bare skull was wrapped by a thick layer of wrinkled skin. One of its demonic traits was the center of its forehead, which was heavily sunken in. It had two protruding eyes with sangrired pupils. The base color was a dark yellow, and there was practically no distinction between its mouth and nose. All this formed an over-ripe dark purple area. At that moment, it was drooling. It was ugly and fiendish.
Just looking at this image, one would certainly believe it to be a Mutant. It was a bit like a gibbon in form, but it was a hundred-fold uglier.
Luo Nan didn't know if this fellow was part of a discovered Mutant species. In any case, he had no impression at all. He just temporarily named it Mushed Mouth Ape.
In that moment, the Mushed Mouth Ape locked gazes with Luo Nan with its sangrired pupils. They were fixed upon him. Though the enemy couldn't attack him, it was clearly and easily able to lock onto his concrete position on the mental plane. This mere action surpassed the ability of the overwhelming majority that Luo Nan had encountered in his life.
About a minute passed and the Mushed Mouth Ape probably got bored of the meaningless staring contest. It slowly sunk down with its muscular body, vanishing within the cloud layer. It's gaze never left Luo Nan's position until the very end. Its eyes were turbid, but possessed a cruelty and greed only possessed by hunters.
This made Luo Nan understand that the Mushed Mouth Ape took him to be prey. It had no intention of giving him up, at least within a short time frame. Just give the beast a chance and it would break through the distance of the mental plane and kill Luo Nan without the slightest hesitation. It would tear Luo Nan into pieces, swallow, and digest him.
A moment of time passed, and Luo Nan's thoughts were proven true.
The Mushed Mouth Ape never left. It maintained a high degree of patience and intense desire, constantly roaming in Luo Nan's perimeter. It began to stir. Once in a while it would make a move, launching tyrannical and overbearing attacks. Although these attacks were unsuccessful, they were able to apply a good deal of pressure onto Luo Nan.
Just looking from this perspective, the Mushed Mouth Ape couldn't be considered an apex predator. After trying and failing at a surprise attack, it turned to a contest of endurance and fixed force. It was a deadly marathon.
Luo Nan controlled his soul body in the depths of the mental plane, avoiding the range of the Mushed Mouth Ape's attacks. This was indeed extremely exhausting for Luo Nan. He had to use the cloak to engage in fixed interference at all times. The soul strength consumption was considerable.
But there was something that needed to be emphasized once more: Luo Nan wasn't scared of the consumption. He wasn't scared of the consumption. He wasn't scared of the consumption!
Important matters have to be spoken three times.
It wasn't easy to move in the depths of the mental plane. The current speed of the soul strength consumption already exceeded the output of the production line, but only by a little. It was like the evaporation of seawater from the sun. The amount was considerable just by looking at its quantity, but compared to the overall volume of the ocean, this little consumption could be neglected for the short term.
If Luo Nan really wanted to, he could definitely engage in this marathon with the Mushed Mouth Ape for the course of several days and several nights to see who would be the first to fall.
But Luo Nan wasn't a masochist. He wasn't willing to waste precious time on this meaningless cat and mouse game. He observed for half an hour before using all of his energy to accelerate, causing his soul body to fly at astonishing speeds and forcefully throwing off the Mushed Mouth Ape's pursuit. He finally retrieved peace and quiet.
Though Luo Nan was able to break away from the threat, the cloud area that he was brought to by the external neuron Gear far exceeded his expectations. There was such a terrifying beast residing here.
During the first half hour of the chase, Luo Nan didn't merely observe the Mutant. He also used scouting techniques that he had recently learned. He orbited around a core area, weaving in his flight and doing the utmost to expand the range of his senses.
He was unable to obtain definite data for the moment, but he was able to roughly estimate that the area covered by his soul body's high speed travel exceeded a dozen thousand square kilometers. This was vast empty space with a diameter reaching a hundred kilometers—the size of Xia City's core district.
Not only was he unable to discover the limits of the cloud layer, his sense of up, down, left, and right became blurry. Only one thing was very clear. There were tracks left behind in this empty region by the Mushed Mouth Ape he had encountered, and the size of this region was equivalent to the Xia City's core district.
Luo Nan stopped thinking about how there were a few kittens. Though there were only a few in this hundred kilometer area, these burly, vicious, and tyrannical "kittens" were apex predators. Just these few made this space crowded.
They moved about like lightning, their range of activity was terrifying. Luo Nan tried taking the initiative to lock onto two of them, but was only able to follow them for a few minutes before they leapt out of the limits of his senses. Then a new Mushed Mouth Ape came charging in at the same time.
Last time Luo Nan was here, he had been free-falling in his fleshly body. He was only here for a dozen minutes. He was able to escape meeting them head on. This was simply great luck.
Oh, he seemed to have overlooked something... Something that needed to be smoothed out.
First of all, the encounter at Gear's atrium with the marvelous external neuron proved that his mother, and of course 'that' person, had come here in the past.
Secondly, regardless of how his mother's future would turn out, they really did escape from this place unscathed.
Luo Nan had a rough estimation of the Mushed Mouth Ape's strength. Just from looking at its attack power, he thought it should be above B rank but not quite A rank. And it seemed that they lived in groups. One might say they were quite terrifying. There were a limited number of similar places in this world where even Extraordinaries had to make their way around, lest they fall into dire straits.
Did his mother already possess this sort of power back then?
Luo Nan was unable to form judgment from the words and writing in his memories pertaining to his mother. He was unable to deny this possibility, yet he was able to come up with other explanations. For instance, the cloud world wasn't this dangerous back then.
This thought had popped up in Luo Nan's mind because he noticed that the only living being flying within the cloud layer were the Mushed Mouth Apes. It was extremely lacking in variety. It didn't really make sense to him, even with his limited knowledge of ecology.
Even Mutants were a sort of living being. Every living thing needed certain things to survive. Food was the most basic requirement. The Mushed Mouth Ape really did possess an extremely strong hunting desire, but the cloud environment was far too lacking in variety. Luo Nan had only discovered this sole species of organism from the beginning until now. There weren't any other species, and there weren't any minerals or vegetations highly dense in energy for these mutants to absorb. This place didn't possess the basic necessities for life.
There was more. Even though they kept their distance from each other and maintained vigilance, Luo Nan was unable to see any desire in them to slaughter one another. Cannibalism couldn't possibly be common practice among them.
Of course, this assessment assumed that the Mushed Mouth Ape was a Mutant—a living being. If these things were merely phantasmal species found only in the most desolate of journeys, if these things were could be considered apparitions, than he had no clue on the matter.
Was this the case?
The possibility was extremely low. Luo Nan was unable to draw Life Sketches of the Mushed Mouth Ape due to a powerful magnetic interference. However, the Mushed Mouth Ape's searing and berserk life energy could not be faked, let alone its true desire to hunt.
Luo Nan summed it all up and arrived at a conclusion. It was very likely that these Mushed Mouth Apes were affected by special elements, which caused them to recently enter this area.
For instance, they might have come here chasing prey.
Aside from its brilliance and skills in its hunting techniques, the Mushed Mouth Ape that tried to kill him had chosen its actions very appropriately. It hunted with prudence and patience. It seemed that it had had much practice. From this, Luo Nan made a simple conclusion. The Mushed Mouth Apes must have a target possessing the following characteristics, at least recently.
The target was good at moving around the mental plane. It was very likely to possess the ability to interfere with the material world.
The target possessed a means to counterattack, enough to have these Mutants that were B rank in power suffer a defeat.
The target primarily moved within the cloud area, but it was very likely to have gone to other places and thus provoked all of these troubles.
All right. All of this was definitely true... Luo Nan's thoughts, which had been somewhat messy this whole time, finally became clear. But once they did, Luo Nan's first thought was to smack his own face.
If he had guessed correctly, then the target was none other than someone he had personally thrown in here. It was none other than Snake Tongue!
Yes. He had quickly entered and left the cloud world on that day via Gear. Luo Nan held Snake Tongue, who suffered from whiplash after her magical spell, at the time. He had acted in a flurry at the time. He didn't remember how he had tossed Snake Tongue away. He thought carefully. Yes, it was very likely that he had tossed her away here.
This seemed to be the case. Snake Tongue was in an astral travel state. The whiplash of her Nightmare Vine Spell shouldn't be enough to kill her, meaning that she should have been here for ten days by now.
Luo Nan was a layman when it came to magical spells, but he did form an understanding of Snake Tongue on that day. He knew that this woman was one of the world's few experts in spellcasting. Her mind was extremely formidable. No matter how fierce the whiplash from her spell was, it was unlikely that she was held back for long.
Following this line of thought, the current situation could be explained quite well.
Of course, this was pure speculation. Maybe there was something hindering his mind, causing a mistake in thinking. Luo Nan's mind may be acting in a way that defeats its purpose.
In any case, Luo Nan's current mood had the first signs of slippage.
Luo Nan had resolved countless difficulties and finally entered the cloud world. The joyful feelings of accomplishment had been utterly destroyed early on by the volcanic attack of the Mushed Mouth Ape.
But before tidying up his emotions, he thought about the wretched Snake Tongue.
Just think about it. The cloud world, a mysterious and marvelous place, was a great secret that his mother had hid for many years. Luo Nan didn't even have an outline, and he had tossed this wandering soul in here for ten days of torment.
What if Snake Tongue destroyed an extremely valuable clue? Or what if the clue was deliberately hidden or spread by Snake Tongue? Then what would Luo Nan do?
The more Luo Nan thought about it, the more anxious he became. Luo Nan resolved himself. He would find Snake Tongue. If she was alive, he wanted to see her personally. If she was dead, he wanted to see... If she was dead, he would need to see some convincing proof.
Luo Nan thought things over. He chose to follow a Mushed Mouth Ape and spend some time observing it before making a decision.
However, the shadowing didn't go smoothly. Luo Nan's chosen target wasn't the same one that had acted against him before. He had chosen randomly. The fellow was a bit smaller but as tough as nails. Luo Nan was out of range of the Mushed Mouth Ape's attack since he resided in the depths of the mental plane. However, the Mushed Mouth Ape was still able to detect him.
The long period of shadowing made the target react greatly. The Mushed Mouth Ape turned around to chase Luo Nan several times, but every time it failed to touch his true body. This caused it to turn extremely rash. It constantly circled around, refusing to cooperate.
Luo Nan was annoyed as well, but at the same time he couldn't help but let out a breath of admiration. It had such keen senses and possessed attacks that oppressed both the material and mental planes simultaneously. The realm accessible by the Mushed Mouth Ape was simply that of perfection.
From the intelligence obtained by the Society, every ability user would always be slightlyslanted because the natures of their abilities were different. Extraordinaries were an exception to this.
For instance, the Burners. The Format of Fire was able to strike the Human-Faced Arachnid, a Darksider life form, but it was somewhat lacking in destructive power on the material plane. Burners weren't like the Mushed Mouth Ape. The destructive power was astonishing no matter the plane. There was no clear loss in the conversion of energy.
As for how the Mushed Mouth Ape was able to do this, how much valuable experience was Luo Nan able to obtain with just a few moments of observation? Luo Nan did have the intention to study the Mushed Mouth Ape deeply, but it was hard to do. He could only drool at the Mushed Mouth Ape's technique.
Time passed like this, minutes and seconds ticking away. Luo Nan knew that it would be hard to discover clues pertaining to Snake Tongue if this were to continue on. He was about to change his train of thought, when a bizarre sensation spread over to him from the other side of the void.
It seemed to be a physical sensation of the fleshly body.