Having handled the current issue, Hei took a look back in his storage space. He saw that the young lady and the women were still interacting, so he decided to leave her in there for a while longer.
From the way she presented herself, Hei felt she should be a good representative of the section of the Zhu Clan who believe themselves to be righteous. Depending on how she reacted to this revelation, Hei could potentially adjust his approach to this situation.
“That move was pretty good. It even boosted my Flame Sovereign. What’s it called?”
Honghuo had just walked by the three cowering elders and reached Heihuo. The move Heihuo had used caused the area to become rich in fire element qi, boosting the strength of Honghuo’s own technique, which was the reason he was so easily able to defeat three opponents of similar strength to his own.
“It’s called Inferno Sword. I picked it up from a small family clan.”
“That was Inferno Sword? Are you sure?”
Honghuo was surprised to hear this name. He had also practised Inferno Sword, a low-level sword technique, but his version looked nothing like Heihuo’s. Perhaps the two techniques just happened to share the same name, which, though it wasn’t unheard of, was still quite rare.
Most people, when naming their techniques, would check the common techniques to make sure their name was original. After all, one wouldn’t want to put out an inferior technique with the same name as another technique so as not to offend the one who created it. And on the other hand, no one would want their superior technique to share the same name with an inferior one.
But there were always those people who weren’t very connected to the world and lived most of their lives in seclusion, so this situation would occur every now and then.
“I made some changes to it, but it is based on the Inferno Sword technique. A low-grade sword technique.”
“Where do they teach people to modify techniques? I also practised Inferno Sword, but at most, I only got flames dancing on the blade. How did you produce such an effect with such a normal sword swing?”
“It’s something you pick up as you gain experience. And this formation also assisted in the power of the technique.”
Hei started to retract the formation through his hands. It was quite strange to see a formation be absorbed into someone’s hands like that. As if black worms were climbing up and burrowing their way through.
“Something you pick up? Why do you make it sound so easy?”
“You’re starting to get off topic. There are more important things to deal with right now.”
Hei turned to the patriarch, and Honghuo did the same. They started walking over to him.
Yuying couldn’t hold back her curiosity.
“Hey… You didn’t actually kill that girl, right? She seemed pretty nice.”
“I didn’t. She is currently in my spatial fold.”
“Ah. I see. Well, that’s good. But… why did you put her in your spatial fold? You’re not thinking of taking her home, are you?”
This fellow couldn’t possibly have just called her a donkey, then turned around to pick up the very next woman he saw… could he?
“She was reluctant to believe that the Zhu Clan could have done what I accused them of, so I decided to let her hear it from the victims.”
“Okay. But, there may be a problem if the victims find out her identity, right?”
“I am aware of this.”
“What are you going to do about it?”
“If it gets to that point, then I’ll bring her back out.”
“How will you know? Doesn’t that mean you will have to keep your attention on the spatial fold? Won’t that affect your ability to battle?”
“I am always aware of the things that happen in my spatial fold.”
“Always aware? Doesn’t that get draining? Especially since you said there are quite a few women in there. You must be hearing a ton of chatter.”
“I have become accustomed to being bombarded with sensory information. This much isn’t an issue.”
Hearing his words, Yuying thought back to his sudden change and what Honghuo had said. He was being bombarded with sensory information… Surely, he was referring to the horrific things he had experienced which led him to his dependency on psychoactive substances.
Thinking back to her own struggles, she couldn’t help but feel she had been very fortunate.
Of course, Hei was referring to the fact that he had some friends who liked to over-share. Namely, the natural qi. Ever since he had broken through to the externalisation realm, he had received a steady stream of information about the things around him.
After a few years of this, his ability to handle sensory information had improved dramatically. At this point, he was even able to filter out certain things. Even to the extent that he would become completely unaware of their existence.
This had its own advantages and disadvantages.
If Hei no longer wanted to see butterflies, they would be removed from his perception, such that even if one were flapping its wings right in front of him, he wouldn’t see it. His spiritual perception would pick up light from behind the butterfly and bring it to Hei, allowing him to see a representation of the world where the butterfly didn’t exist.
If he were to give a name to this skill, he would call it Rejecting Reality. But giving names to these kinds of things wasn’t necessary. It wasn’t as if he was going to discuss it with anyone.
Now, of course, using Rejecting Reality could be extremely dangerous, not to mention, it could make him look crazy to everyone else who could see the butterfly.
He was still fine-tuning it to see exactly what he could do, but for now, he limited this ability to reducing his sensitivity to certain types of information, such as background noise. He would only hear what he wanted to hear and most of the other noise would be removed. Similar to wearing sound cancelling headphones.
At this point, Yuying made an observation.
“Isn’t the old man a little too relaxed? Didn’t he just have his donkey handed to him? Do you think he has some trick up his sleeve?”
Knowing where the donkey comment came from and ignoring it, Hei explained his thoughts.
Yuying waited for a while, with no elaboration.
“… You aren’t concerned about it?”
“… Why not?”
“It falls within my calculations.”
Knowing that extracting more information would take a disproportionate amount of work, Yuying gave up and just decided to see what would happen.
It wasn’t long until Hei and Honghuo stopped two metres away from the patriarch, who hadn’t moved at all and still had a calm expression. There was even a trace of ridicule in his eyes.
He spoke first.
“I know why the boy is here, but what about you? Do you care to explain?”
All around the place, there were members of the Zhu Clan watching this scene.
Most of them were below the transcendent realm, and as such, weren’t qualified to participate in this kind of thing. Even those few remaining transcendent realm cultivators were held back by what they had just seen.
Only once the patriarch led the attack would they join in.
“Your Zhu Clan has been kidnapping and trafficking women. Some of those women have some relation with me, so I came to free any that were being held here, as well as capture the kidnappers.”
The patriarch chuckled.
“Is that right? Do you know who you’re dealing with?”
The people in the audience were surprised that the patriarch didn’t deny the claim at all, but even more so that he was taking this as some kind of joke. Clearly, that fellow knew who he was dealing with. They were the famed Zhu Clan.
Unless the patriarch was referring to that second-grade sect that he and his two brothers were members of.
Most of the clan were completely unrelated to that sect and didn’t even know much about it. Only a few elders who the patriarch had decided to guide in their cultivations knew anything about it.
And even then, they had never actually been there.
“Are you referring to the second-grade demonic sect or the Merchant Association?”
“Hehe. So, you do know.”
At this point, the patriarch started laughing and Yuying shared her thoughts.
[Isn’t he being far too relaxed right now? I’m pretty sure he has something to rely on.]
[… So, you aren’t going to do anything about it?]
“Should I say you have tremendous courage, or should I call you an idiot? We both know the only reason you were able to defeat me is that you used sneaky tactics. How will you fare against a second-grade sect? And even if you aren’t afraid of them, the Merchant Association. Do you think you can offend them and live peaceful days?”
Honghuo was the one who responded.
“That’s for us to worry about.”
He turned to Hei.
“Why are we keeping this guy alive?”
“We still have some use for him. For example, we need to extract the location of the second-grade sect.”
The patriarch interjected.
“You really think you’ve won, don’t you? That you can be the boy who avenged his clan and the hero who saved the poor, innocent women. Let me tell you, people like you are the ones people like me enjoy devouring the most.”
At this point, the patriarch’s skin started to turn a dark red and the veins underneath turned black.
Some of the elders in the surroundings gasped in shock when they witnessed this.
“That’s a demonic technique!”
“The patriarch… He-he’s a demonic cultivator!”
The patriarch turned his gaze to the people in the surroundings. The people he once valued above himself.
“There is no room in this world for righteous fools like you. You’ll find yourselves stuck at a bottleneck, and when time ticks down on your youth, you’ll realise that you wasted your entire life helping others.”
There was silence all around.
“That will be when you realise the merits of the demonic path. How do you think I was able to break through to the minute realm? By helping people? Ha! It was by taking the work of others and using it for my own gain.”
Some of the audience looked down to the ground, and others shook their heads. They couldn’t agree with the patriarch on this issue.
No matter if they were rewarded for their efforts or not, they were helping people.
When they saw the looks of admiration of the people as they passed by and heard the good name of the Zhu Clan being joyously spoken by the children of the city, they felt fulfilled.
Many of the older members of the clan were in the exact same position that the patriarch described. But when they looked back on their lives, they didn’t see a waste of time. They saw something to be proud of.
When the patriarch noticed this, rage started to fill his heart. He was jealous of these contented fools. Why couldn’t he also be happy with what he had? Why had his brothers fallen to the demonic path? And most of all, why was he so weak?
But none of that mattered. He knew the road he was walking down, and he would walk it to the end. The clan be damned!
“Naive! Every single one of you!”
He turned to the two intruders.
“You may have gotten what you wanted this day, but mark my words, you will regret having crossed me!”
His blood vessels seemed to burst, and his body was soon covered in a black liquid.
Seeing this, Honghuo acted immediately.
“Don’t bother. He’s already gone.”
With Hei’s hand lowering his sword, Honghuo decided to stop his attack.
“Already gone? What do you mean?”
Hei pointed at the black form of the patriarch.
“Break it and you will see.”
Honghuo lifted a brow but did as Heihuo said.
He walked up to the patriarch, who had remained motionless since his body was covered by the black liquid and swung his sword, cleanly cutting him in half.
But what surprised Honghuo, was that there was none of the resistance one would usually feel when slashing a body.
The black form of the patriarch split in two and fell to the ground, shattering as it did. It turned out it was just a hollow shell.
“Where did he go?”
“He must have used some kind of spatial technique.”
Yuying stepped in.
“I told you this would happen! Why didn’t you listen to me?”
Honghuo also had the same thought.
“You said he was still useful. How do we use him now? We should have just gotten rid of him earlier.”
All of the things Honghuo had achieved had essentially just been reduced to nothing. No matter how many grunts he slew, if he didn’t finish the ring leader, then how could he say that his clan had been avenged?
“Relax, both of you.”
Hei pulled out the master jade and issued it a few instructions.
Not long later, the ground beneath their feet began to rumble, and in front of them, a small black dome appeared.
A hole appeared at the top of the dome and spread until the dome had disappeared, and once it had gone, they could see a red humanoid form hunched over and coughing a black substance onto the ground.
It was the patriarch who had just disappeared.
Once the patriarch realised where he was, his eyes widened in shock.
“This! Cough. How is this possible?”
He wasn’t the only one who wanted to know.
Honghuo placed his hand on Hei’s shoulder.
“Nice, Heihuo. How did you do this?”
Yuying also had a few words to say.
“That’s my business partner. I expected no less.”
She said this, but she was also quite shocked. She would definitely be getting all of the details later.
The Zhu Clan members watching from a distance were also flabbergasted. They had just found out that their patriarch was a demonic cultivator, and now this. This string of events was too much for people to digest.
Hei put the master jade away and turned to the patriarch.
“When I want to capture people, it’s not so easy for them to escape.”