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Chapter 34: Change of Flavor

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Mi Dashuai
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“Which style do you lean towards, junior? Are you intrigued by the sleek compound bows, the curves of the recurve, or have you perhaps felt the adrenaline of traditional archery?” The shift to discussing bows brought out a different side of Hao Jian. His casual demeanor gave way to a palpable seriousness. It felt as though Lin Feng was being led by a seasoned master as they walked into the bow hall’s storeroom.

Surveying the diverse range of bows, Lin Feng admitted, “I’ve tried it once or twice, but what’s the difference between all these types?”

With a discerning eye, Hao Jian carefully picked up a traditional bow. Its deep, rich brown limbs hinted at the exceptional quality of the wood, beautifully offset by the pale bow tips and grip. Twin touches of green jade adorned the grip, adding to its elegance. “Traditional bows,” began Hao Jian, “are all about skill and varied techniques. Historically, they were the choice for mounted archers. They can be used with either hand and are renowned for their rapid release. Imagine someone firing ten arrows in a mere 4.9 seconds! Ever heard of ‘striking a leaf from a hundred paces’? It’s feats like that which this bow celebrates.”

However, a futuristic, sleek bow caught Lin Feng’s eye. He inquired, “What about this one?”

Slightly crestfallen but adapting quickly, Hao Jian gently placed the traditional bow back on its rack, turning instead to a sleek, metallic modern bow. As he lifted it, the pulleys at its ends and the high-tech sight mounted on its frame became more evident. “This right here is modern archery’s pride. Just pull, aim with the sight, and release.”

As Lin Feng balanced the weighty bow in his hands, curiosity piqued. “Is that it?”

Meeting Lin Feng’s gaze, Hao Jian elaborated, “Not much more to it. Though it’s packed with features, it’s essential to ensure regular maintenance. And yes, this particular model packs a hefty draw weight.”

Hao Jian, a twinkle in his eye, presented Lin Feng with a deep blue modern bow, guessing he’d appreciate its simplicity and quick learning curve. The bow, adorned with a whimsical white cat, captured Lin Feng’s interest. Still, his eyes couldn’t help but stray towards a sophisticated black alloy bow resting nearby.

With an cheeky glint in his eyes, Hao Jian extended to Lin Feng a deep blue modern bow, surmising that he might appreciate its straightforward design and swift learning curve. The bow, adorned with a whimsical white cat, ensnared Lin Feng’s interest. Yet, his eyes inevitably meandered towards a sleek black alloy bow positioned nearby.

“For real?” Lin Feng, not really a pro when it came to archery, wondered out loud if modern bows were sorted like old-school ones based on how tough they were to pull.

“Let us not delve too deeply into the specifics at this juncture. How about we proceed to the actual practice?” Hao Jian suggested with poise, gently guiding Lin Feng towards the range. His spirits lifted upon discerning Lin Feng’s receptiveness.

“Cool,” Lin Feng began, “just so you know, I’ve only given archery a shot once. Don’t sweat the small stuff, just walk me through the basics,” trying to keep Hao Jian’s evident enthusiasm in check as he got into position.

Hao Jian expertly attached the stabilizers and precision sights to the bow, then handed the blue and white piece to Lin Feng. “Looks like this belonged to a female archer, huh?” Lin Feng commented with a smirk, slipping on a fresh pair of two-finger gloves and admiring the bow’s mint condition.

“Right you are. She was part of our archery club for a short while but had to leave due to some personal stuff. Left this beauty behind,” Hao Jian responded.

As Lin Feng nocked an arrow and took his shot, channeling his earlier experiences, the arrow veered, landing off-center in the outer ring. He frowned, perplexed. Even though the bow required little force and he had used the sight, his shot had missed its mark. Why?

“You need to be patient. Your form is falling apart,” Hao Jian observed. Without waiting for a response, he stepped in, aligning Lin Feng’s hands for an improved stance.

With Hao Jian’s hands-on guidance and pointers, Lin Feng’s subsequent shot was impeccable, striking the target’s bullseye.

“You’re a natural,” Hao Jian exclaimed, genuinely surprised. It seemed Lin Feng only needed minor adjustments to showcase a striking improvement.

Blushing slightly, Lin Feng chuckled, “Well, I don’t know about a natural but…” He chose to dismiss Hao Jian’s impromptu act of affection—nuzzling his chin against Lin Feng’s ear. At the very least, he did correct his flaws. Though it wasn’t really a surprise he would pick up the skill this fast. After all, Lin Feng’s mutated visual acuity allowed him to discern distant targets with more clarity than most. His advantage just needed the right guidance.

“Okay, Senior. So, I’m heading back to the main building tomorrow. Don’t even think about stopping me this time, alright? And hey, I’ll bring back a bunch of girls when I return,” Lin Feng said, giving his bow a cheeky twirl. Keen to get everyone safe, he figured he would set off immediately the next day.

“Let me accompany you. I could be of assistance,” Hao Jian offered, holding his traditional bow with a sense of determination.

“Thanks for the offer, but I think I should head out alone. Got some stuff to handle over there. And hey, someone’s gotta hold down the fort here. Wouldn’t want to come back to a zombie party,” Lin Feng said, sliding his bow into the quiver Hao Jian had set up for him.

“Got it. I’ll keep watch here. But hey, make sure you come back in one piece. In the meantime, I’ll get cooking.”

“Can’t wait.”

“Get ready, Junior. Tonight, I’m gonna treat you to the most epic potato extravaganza ever!” Hao Jian said with a chuckle, setting his bow aside and striding towards the kitchen.

“I’ll be eagerly waiting. You better not let me down, Senior,” Lin Feng retorted with a chuckle, his spirit uplifted by the thought of a delightful meal and the sight of his packed bow. He found himself humming a tune from more peaceful days.

Classroom Building:

The bitter chill of dawn roused the girls on the 7th floor, causing them to cluster close, their arms interlocking in a desperate bid for warmth. Their shivers reminded them of the glaring absence of a heater. Below, a smattering of boys huddled around a makeshift hearth, their faces illuminated by the flickering light. Alongside them sat two girls, their gazes far away and devoid of emotion.

“You checked out the grocery store?” Zhu Hanfang’s voice cut through the quiet, his eyes scanning the bald man before him.

“Yes, Boss Zhu,” the bald man replied hesitantly, avoiding Zhu’s penetrating gaze. “It’s cleaned out. Searched top to bottom. If there’s any food left, it’s probably in the canteen.”

The scar etched across the man’s shiny pate told of violence, but not from the undead.

Around them, young faces, previously familiar with lecture halls and books, now appeared hardened, their innocence lost. They smoked one after the other, sourcing their supplies from forgotten corners of the building.

Zhu Hanfang leaned in, his warning clear. “You better not be holding out on me. If I even sniff a hint of deceit, it’ll be another knife to your head.”

The bald man gulped, “I swear on it, Boss Zhu. I won’t mess up again.”

Zhu Hanfang’s smirk was predatory. “Looks like our answer’s clear. Those girls upstairs have probably stashed what was left at the store. We take their stash, and we save ourselves a dangerous run through zombie-infested streets. And these two?” He gestured disdainfully at the vacant-eyed girls. “It’s about time we changed the flavor.”

The bald student nodded vigorously, his voice tinged with eagerness, “When do we make our move, Boss?”


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