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5 The Legendary Ms. Murong

 The next day as the sky began to turn bright an alarm clock rang. Gao Peng who was lying on the sofa awoke with a start.

Eh? When did I cover myself with a blanket? Gao Peng wondered to himself as he rubbed his head in confusion. Deciding not to think too much about this, he quickly got up to wash himself.

After a wash-up, Gao Peng speedily wolfed down a sandwich from his bag that was prepared beforehand and went on to drag Da Zi out from under the sofa. Da Zi lazily allowed Gao Peng to drag it around, making no effort to move from its sprawling position on the ground. Its yellow claws scraped against the floor, making a shaaashaaa sound.

Gao Peng put down his big monster to catch his breath. Nope, this fella is too heavy, thought Gao Peng. Gotta get this fella to walk on its own.

He squatted down and patted Da Zi on its hard carapace. It gave off a crisp dang dang sound. "Da Zi, you have to walk on your own, you understand?" Gao Peng said.

Da Zi raised its head and gave some sort of reply by waving its pair of antennae wearily. Then it went back to its sprawling position on the ground, not moving an inch.

Gao Peng was at a loss for what to do. For some reason, this fella was getting more and more lazy. He frowned and thought for a moment. He recalled that Mr. Zhang had mentioned once in class that controlling Monster Familiars required regular methods and routines. Although humans called these creatures monsters, they were basically just another sentient life form that was different from humans.

Being sentient they had emotions, and naturally their own personalities as well. Even monsters of the same species could have a myriad of different personalities, just like humans.

If a person was of a weak and cowardly disposition, then going through a few years of rigorous military training could make this person's personality stronger and more resilient. Using the same logic, monsters that not suited for battle could go through special training methods to make them more suitable for being Familiars.

Da Zi was too young to be this lazy. Being stuck in the house for such a long time might have caused it to develop the temperament of a couch potato. Gao Peng squatted down again and whispered enticingly to Da Zi, "Do you want to eat something? Shall we go out and play? There are lots of yummy bugs out there."

Da Zi's waving antennae suddenly froze and shot upright.

It turned its head, staring straight at Gao Peng. Gao Peng smiled.

Around Da Zi's neck was a leather collar, and attached to the back was a silvery gray chain that Gao Peng held in his hand.

Gao Peng carried his red schoolbag while walking Da Zi along the streets as people passed them.

Although the sight of walking centipedes was rather rare, Gao Peng did not capture that much attention. After all, practically every household kept a monster as a pet, just how cats and dogs were kept as pets before the cataclysm.

Furthermore, monsters came in all shapes and sizes. Most people chose to rear monsters that looked cute or majestic. At the same time there would always be those with unusual tastes that chose the strange monsters instead.

For instance, just to Gao Peng's left was a fashionable looking auntie who was holding a chain as thick as an infant's arm to walk her three-meter tall, six-meter long, medium-sized Snow Lion Dog.

That's right: a dog of this size only counted as a large, medium-sized dog in this day and age, not a large dog.

Ahead walking hurriedly in Gao Peng's direction was a man in a suit and tie who looked like an office worker. Perched on his shoulder was a red and black parrot closing its eyes and napping.

As they passed by the Snow Lion Dog, the parrot opened its eyes, turned around and coldly spat, "Dumb*ss!"

The Snow Lion Dog stopped and turned to look at the parrot. Its eyes, as big as lanterns, were filled with curiosity.

"Dumb*ss! What are you looking at?" The parrot had a sharp tongue.

"Woof!" barked the Snow Lion Dog happily as it stuck out its own tongue to lick the parrot.

The parrot cleverly flew away, leaving its owner, who was dressed nicely in a suit and tie, covered in the Snow Lion Dog's saliva.

The lady quickly to apologize but the man simply smiled wryly and said, "It's alright. It's my silly parrot's fault for having such a foul mouth. I'm already used to it. I'll just change when I reach the office." With that, he opened the briefcase in his left hand, revealing a fresh set of office wear. He was evidently prepared.

This little episode was just part of everyday life in the streets. In this new world, lots of people were still in their adjustment phases with their new pets. Everyone was working hard to adjust to the arrival of monsters in their lives.

Behind the man in office attire was an old man in his seventies walking a colorful millstone-sized toad. The toad had warts all over its back the size of ping pong balls. This was probably a Five-Colored Toad, a non-poisonous species. For some reason, people found this type of toad cute and reared them. It was a popular pet nowadays.

In contrast, Da Zi looked plain gross at first sight. But after careful observation, it was rather cute in an ugly sort of way.

There were quite a few people walking along the streets, many of whom were walking their pets. No matter what kind of monster it was, they had one thing in common. They were all leashed at some part of their body, with the leash held in their owner's hand. Most of these monsters could easily snap the thin ropes that connected them to their owners. But the leash was not meant to hold these monsters back, as using the leash was a form of respect for other people.

Gao Peng soon arrived at school. It was not far from his home, about half an hour's journey on foot. Currently, all schools were public schools managed by the government. The government also prohibited the setting up of private schools.

Education had always been important, and it was even more so in this new world. The minds of children were the most pure and also the most easily led astray. Childhood was the most crucial period for one's thoughts and ideas to be shaped and changed.

In the peaceful times of the past, a troublemaking child would probably grow up to become a troublemaking adult, and at most cause some minor trouble in society. In the new world, however, it was almost impossible to tell what a person might amount to in the future. Should a troublemaker manage to sign a Blood Contract with a high-level monster, even the most minor trouble could result in major damage.

Gao Peng studied at the Chang'an Third High School, located in the suburbs next to the Chang'an City Armed Police Brigade's training grounds. Just a little further, and one would be able to exit the city.

Outside the cities, many areas had already transformed into primeval jungles. Jungles meant danger and the unknown.

But of course that only applied to the more desolate jungles. The government had already found out whatever they could about the jungles around Chang'an City. Dangerous monsters were practically nonexistent and, even if they appeared, the top Monster Trainers in Chang'an City would quickly eliminate them.

Military troops were also stationed along the edges of the jungle totally preventing dangerous monsters from escaping the jungle. Only a few low-leveled, non-threatening monsters occasionally wandered in from the outside to the outskirts of the city. But this just allowed senior students from big schools and the various Monster Trainers in Chang'an City a chance to practice their skills.

Outside the school gate was a row of school buses. Each bus was black and red in color with a sturdy metal ring secured around the chassis. The metal ring even had sharp spikes surrounding it. The exterior of each bus was triple-plated with metal boards, each the thickness of a thumb. The wheels of the bus were made with a special material that was obtained from mutated rubber trees after the cataclysm. Wheels made from this new form of rubber were tougher and more resilient, even withstanding gunshots from small caliber rounds.

Gao Peng could not help but look at the buses a few more times. I guess any monster excellent grade and below shouldn't pose a threat to these buses, thought Gao Peng suddenly.

"Year 2 Class 3 students please gather here!" shouted a voice from the school gate.

In front of one of the buses was a red-haired female, roughly five feet six inches tall, wearing a black leather jacket and bell-bottomed jeans. She was holding up a wooden sign that read "Year 2 Class 3."

"Good morning, Ms. Murong," Gao Peng ran over and greeted her politely.

Murong Qiuye who weighed no less than 250 pounds smiled and nodded. She replied in a gentle voice, "Ah, Gao Peng, you've arrived. You can go to the school bus first."

Students that were well-liked by teachers usually fell into two categories: those that scored good grades and mischievous students.

Gao Peng was naturally the former. After all, his results were at the top of the class and the fourth in the grade. He was also a quiet student that did not cause trouble, which set his teachers' minds at ease.

Going up in the school bus, Gao Peng could see that some students had already boarded. Gao Peng generally only got along all right with the other students and was a normal, unremarkable presence within the class.

At least, that was what Gao Peng thought. In reality, Gao Peng, whose grades had improved drastically and who had risen to fourth in the grade since his parents' death, had become a very special student in the eyes of his classmates.

Right now, the Purple-Backed Yellow-Clawed Centipede that Gao Peng had leashed in his right hand was capturing the attention of many classmates.

"Wow, it's so cute!"

"What a moe little centipede."

"Wow, that's a Purple-Backed Yellow-Clawed Centipede, isn't it? It's one of the highest ranking monsters among common grade monsters. To think that Gao Peng's family owned such a powerful Monster Familiar!"

"But isn't Gao Peng an orphan? Where could he have gotten his hands on a Purple-Backed Yellow-Clawed Centipede? He must have borrowed it, right?" a voice suddenly spoke in an inappropriate manner, causing the atmosphere in the school bus to turn cold.