Junjie hogtied Niu, leaving the passed out giant hogtied, flat on his stomach with his hands tied to his feet.
“I don’t understand,” Junjie said. “For as long as I have known Niu, he has always been peaceful. This is the first time I have ever seen him lash out in anger.”
“His fatalist ways have served him well,” the master said. “But few men can resist the temptation of a brain.”
The hero looked down at the ground, where a brain that had been yanked out of a zombie skull was lying on the ground. “What’s so tempting about them? They are hideous.”
The master chuckled. “The Staff of Ages made a fine choice in you, my son.”
Junjie sat down and leaned up against the wall that his sleepy, humongous comrade had bashed him against moments earlier. The master’s apparition joined him.
“The Staff of Ages?” Junjie asked. “Now I really don’t understand.”
“Yes, brains are disgusting,” the master said. “But knowledge is power. On the grand scale of virtually limitless time and space, humans are but specks of dust. The average man has only a short time on this earth to learn and store knowledge in his brain. When a man eats another man’s brain, he consumes that man’s knowledge. By consuming many brains, one can fill his own brain with knowledge that could only be obtained otherwise by living for several lifetimes.”
“Or you could just abstain,” Junjie said as he pointed at the brain. “Because its disgusting.”
“Other than myself and my predecessor, the Eighteenth Infallible Master, you are the only man I have met who has been able to resist a brain,” the master said.
“That can’t be possible,” Junjie said. “Disgusting things are easy to resist.”
“Not when it comes to brains,” the master said. “The body realizes the power of the knowledge trapped within a brain. It wants it. Yearns for it. Craves it. Brain eating becomes a terrible addiction, so incurable that even when a body dies and the soul inside makes its way to Diyu, the body itself carries on in search of brains.”
Junjie shook his head. “So that’s…”
“…how a zombie is born,” the master said.
The hero sat quietly for awhile. “Do other bodily organs turn people into monsters?”
“I’ve yet to hear of anyone becoming a monster from eating a liver, kidney, or lungs,” the master said. “But the heart is a different story, one that I’ve only discussed with Captain Tsang of the Imperial Guard. For now, it need not concern you other than you must be aware that those who eat hearts are very dangerous.”
“Do most people lose control around hearts as they do around brains?” Junjie asked.
“No,” the master said. “Before one desires to eat a heart, one must have suffered unimaginable sorrow. Those whose hearts have been irreparably broken seek to replace their hearts by consuming the hearts of others, but doing so only leads to acts of unspeakable evil.”
Junjie stared at Mei-Ling. “Master, we must save her.”
“Yes,” the master said. “But first, we must save China, so that there will be a place for Mei-Ling to come back to once she is saved.”
Niu stirred and looked over at his captors. “Ungh…am I hallucinating or is the master a ghost?”