Chapter 61 Brightwing Butterfly
Three individuals strolled through the bustling street, noticeably out of place amidst the surrounding crowd.
The majority of pedestrians hurriedly scurried along the streets, while occasional glimpses of armored guards revealed an atmosphere of high alert in the small town.
Meanwhile, the houses lining the street still displayed the presence of delicate, white cocoons, evidently confirming the townspeople’s affinity for these exquisite butterflies, just as Mr. Li had mentioned.
“Why do they maintain such rigorous defenses? What are they guarding against?” asked Lin Yan.
“I’m uncertain. This place could harbor any sort of hidden danger,” Mr. Li replied.
“Although I must say, there seems to be an abundance of butterflies around.”
What made these butterflies so extraordinary? Lin Zhaohe found it strange that they were so enamored with butterflies. It couldn’t be solely because of their beauty. There had to be some other purpose behind it.
“It seems the scales on their bodies can be used for crafting special alchemical elixirs,” Mr. Li replied. “I’m not entirely sure. Alfarr has been captured… Now we have two options: first, we could attempt a prison break, or second, we could inquire if there are any other alchemists in town who can reverse Lin Zhaohe’s transformation.”
This place harbored hidden talents, surely more than one person could create transformation potions.
“I think we should start by asking if there are any other alchemists,” Lin Yan, always one to follow the rules, suggested obediently. “If that doesn’t work, then we can consider alternative approaches.”
“Agreed,” Mr. Li nodded. “I’ll go and ask around.”
Thus, the group found a nearby eatery, intending to gather information while enjoying a meal. They wanted to uncover why Alfarr had been imprisoned and if there was any hope of their release. If not, they needed to explore more affordable options…
“The alchemical cuisine in this place is quite impressive,” Mr. Li struggled to remember faces and locations, but the one thing he recalled vividly was the taste of the food he had savored years ago. Recollecting his previous visit, he nostalgically spoke of the time when he was a helpless and frail sperm whale, relentlessly pursued by his arch-rival, the orca. Upon hearing rumors of an Alchemy Village on this level capable of transforming him into a human, he had gone to great lengths to find this place.
During that time, the Alchemy Village was bustling, resembling a tourist hub, teeming with adventurers and various tricksters attempting to deceive unsuspecting tourists. His first meal upon arrival had taken place in this small eatery, and he recalled the beautiful owner who emitted an alluring fragrance.
An alluring fragrance? Lin Zhaohe asked, “Are you referring to the aroma of roasted meat?”
Mr. Li: “That’s about right.”
As they conversed, a voluptuous and beautiful woman emerged from the kitchen. She casually slammed the menu she was holding onto the table and said, “It’s been a while since we’ve seen outsiders. What brings you here?”
Her gaze swept across the group, eventually settling on Lin Zhaohe, who was savoring the aroma of the roasted meat in the air. “Oh, such a cute little puppy… May I pet it?”
“No,” Zhuang Lao, the owner of the little “puppy,” bluntly refused.
“Stingy,” the woman huffed, turning to leave.
“Wait,” Mr. Li said. “Sofia, long time no see. Do you remember me?”
Sofia turned her head and looked at Mr. Li with disdain. “This flirting approach is a bit too much…” She paused midway through her sentence, suddenly recalling something. “You’re… Li Yu?”
Mr. Li nodded. “Exactly!”
“What are you doing back here? Did something go wrong with the alchemical elixir Alfarr gave you?” Sofia was aware of the events that had transpired years ago and was surprised to see Li Yu return.
“No, it’s not that. It’s my friend who has been transformed into a dog,” Mr. Li explained. “We want to change him back. What happened to Alfarr? Why was he captured?”
“Shh,” Sofia made a quiet gesture, walking to the door and scanning the area left and right. Once she confirmed there was no one around, she locked the door and turned back. “Well, you see, after losing a competition, he encountered some problems and got imprisoned.”
Mr. Li: “He lost a competition?”
Sofia: “Yes. I was surprised too.”
Mr. Li: “What exactly happened?”
Sofia: “Can’t I really pet the little dog?”
No one could resist a fluffy and cuddly little dog, especially one emitting a milky fragrance, particularly when he had damp eyes and nose. In the next moment, Sofia finally fulfilled her wish and placed her hand on the dog’s head. Touched by the experience, she remarked that everything around her felt cold and lifeless, and it had been a long time since she had touched something warm. While caressing the dog, she began recounting what had happened.
The root of the matter lay in the mushrooms on the wasteland.
“You know how much they need the Brightwing Butterflies,” Sofia explained. “Half a year ago, an unexpected surge of mushrooms squeezed the butterflies’ habitat. Already on the brink of extinction, their situation became even worse. Would you like to have something to eat?”
“Let’s have the Golden Combo,” Mr. Li said. “I’m hungry too.”
Reluctantly, Sofia set Lin Xiao Puppy down and went to the kitchen. When she returned, she carried a plentiful meal in her hands, its colors gleaming like gold.
She set down the food and explained that it was alchemical cuisine made of gold, but it could also be digested by human stomachs. In the past, it had been the most popular dish among adventurers, but unfortunately, it had been a long time since outsiders had come…
Lin Zhaohe successfully returned to Zhuang Lao’s lap, drooling at the fried rice inside.
Zhuang Lao only let him taste a small bit. The taste was indeed excellent, without any metallic flavor.
Sofia took a big sip of wine. “As you know, the scales of the Brightwing Butterflies are crucial alchemical ingredients. If they go extinct, many alchemical materials will be impossible to produce. That’s why everyone is anxious and trying to find a way to save the butterflies.”
“You’ve found a solution,” Mr. Li said.
Seeing all the butterfly cocoons outside, it appeared that their rescue plan was quite successful in saving the endangered species.
“Yes,” Sofia confirmed.
“So, what does Alfarr have to do with it?”
“Alfarr was working on a solution with one of his friends at that time,” Sofia explained. “You know that person too, it’s Victor…”
Mr. Li was puzzled. “Weren’t they good friends?”
“Indeed,” Sofia replied, her expression distant. It seemed that she wasn’t particularly happy about the salvation of the Brightwing Butterflies. “But even the closest of friends can have unequal distribution of interests. They wanted to research a way to save the butterflies and collaborated to establish an alchemical laboratory. Unexpectedly, Victor succeeded first, and it’s said that he and Alfarr took completely different paths…”
Mr. Li frowned. “Why was Alfarr arrested in the first place?”
“Because he wanted to blow up Victor’s alchemical laboratory,” Sofia explained. “I’ve only heard about it, but some villagers who were present claimed to have seen it. They said he was extremely agitated and tried several times to ignite high-explosive materials.” Her face displayed a hint of confusion. “Could it be that he took the wrong medication…”
“It’s strange,” Mr. Li couldn’t believe it either. “He wasn’t interested in reputation and such things, right? I had to beg him for a long time to get the alchemical elixir from him.”
Back then, Alfarr’s elixirs were extremely rare. He had an eccentric and reclusive nature, disliking social interactions. Mr. Li had exerted considerable effort to obtain the elixir from him. If someone were to tell him that Alfarr was jealous of others’ ability to produce elixirs, Mr. Li would find it hard to believe.
“That’s how it happened,” Sofia shrugged helplessly. “I tried to visit him afterward, but he refused to see me. There’s nothing I can do.”
“He refused to see you?” Mr. Li questioned. “What about Victor? Did he say anything?”
“Victor avoids any mention of Alfarr,” Sofia replied. “In fact, the entire town has adopted an unspoken rule of not mentioning his name. With those mushrooms, the number of people in the town keeps decreasing.” She laughed self-deprecatingly. “What good are Brightwing Butterflies when there’s no one left who can use them?”
It was precisely because of the popularity of the Alchemy Village back then that the Brightwing Butterflies came close to extinction. Now they were abundant everywhere, but the people in need of elixirs were nowhere to be found.
Mr. Li and his group were the only travelers to arrive in their small town in the past six months. The once lively Alchemy Village had become desolate, with not only tourists but even local residents continuously moving out, wanting to leave this place.
“I want to go see Alfarr.”
“He might not agree,” Sofia said. “You know his temperament…”
Mr. Li replied, “I have to give it a try. Can you help me get in touch with Victor? If Alfarr doesn’t want to see me, I want to ask Victor if he can create a potion for transformation.”
“Certainly,” Sofia assured him. “He’s now the most skilled alchemy mentor in town, but unfortunately, there aren’t many people who need his potions anymore.”
After a day of travel, everyone was feeling tired and decided to rest at Sofia’s tavern for the night before meeting Alfarr and Victor the next day.
Lin Zhaohe lay on the edge of the bed, gazing at the scenery outside.
The Alchemy Village was not dark at night. Bright luminescent objects were placed everywhere, seemingly crafted through alchemical means, as they didn’t require any power source.
The butterflies also loved the light. Lin Zhaohe noticed several large butterflies with beautiful blue fluorescent patterns resting on the luminescent objects. They were almost everywhere in this small town—on rooftops, trees, and even in the street’s alleys, leaving behind their white cocoons.
“Puppy, would you like some milk?” Sofia’s voice came through.
Lin Zhaohe barked twice and wagged his tail.
Sofia brought the milk and placed it in front of Lin Zhaohe, watching as he eagerly gulped it down, his face covered in milk. “Do you like butterflies?”
Lin Zhaohe shook his head.
“I don’t like them either,” Sofia replied. “But they don’t stay in the city for too long. When dawn comes, they return to their nests.”
Butterflies had nests? Lin Zhaohe found it quite strange.
“I didn’t know either until Alfarr told me,” Sofia explained. “He said that butterflies used to have nests, but as their numbers dwindled, the nests disappeared. Now that they’ve returned, unfortunately, Alfarr went inside…” Speaking with a hint of dark humor in her story, Sofia couldn’t help but smile. “I wonder when he’ll be released. He must be going crazy in there. Puppy, your owner is here. It’s time to go to sleep.”
Upon hearing this, Lin Zhaohe turned his head and indeed saw Zhuang Lao.
Zhuang Lao approached and picked him up, and they both returned to the room to sleep.
“Having a good chat with the girl?” Zhuang Lao, who had just taken a shower, still carried a faint scent of shower gel. He roughly ruffled Lin Zhaohe’s head and whispered, “Hmm? Little doggie?”
Lin Zhaohe grumbled, indicating that he was far from happy.
Zhuang Lao tapped his forehead, and on the top of Lin Zhaohe’s head, there was a small swirl. His fingertips gently caressed it as he said, “Little doggie never listens… I can’t bear to turn you back.”
Lin Zhaohe licked his fingers, wagged his tail, and nuzzled Zhuang Lao with his wet nose. His deep black eyes were filled with trust, completely believing that Zhuang Lao was just joking.
Zhuang Lao’s eyes curved slightly, revealing a half-smile expression. “It seems fine for Lin Xiao Puppy to remain as a little doggie.”
Lin Zhaohe mentioned that if the boss kept taking care of him, it wouldn’t be a bad thing either.
“Hmm… that definitely won’t do,” Zhuang Lao laughed. “You should transform back soon and come to work at the company.”
Lin Zhaohe tilted his head, puzzled by the sudden realization that continuing to be a little doggie wasn’t so bad after all.
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