The patriarch couldn’t respond to Hei’s words. He was still violently coughing out that black fluid.
The reason he was so confident throughout all of this was that he had practised a technique which would allow him to exchange his life essence to compensate for his lack of understanding of spatial laws, allowing him to escape to a predetermined location.
Now that he had somehow landed back here, not only had he wasted a good portion of his life essence, but he had also left himself in an extremely vulnerable position. He had all but eliminated his own ability to resist his enemy.
All he could do was think of ways to stay alive. Fortunately, the enemy had already made it clear that he held value while alive, so he thought he may be able to find a way out of this mess.
After a moment of sudden clarity, he came up with an idea.
If they wanted to go to the second-grade sect, he would give them what they wished for. Heck, he would even take them there personally. His brothers would be able to deal with these two without much difficulty.
As he pictured the wretched states of these two after his brothers had gotten to them, he noticed a red flame crawl up his arm.
He clearly remembered the information about this red flame. It was a mark of death. Why would it appear on him?
He heard the masked one speak, followed by the boy.
“His use has expired.”
The patriarch looked up and found that the boy was approaching while drawing his sword from its sheath. The temperature rose with every step he took.
If the patriarch couldn’t understand what was happening, he wouldn’t have been able to live this long.
“What’s the meaning of this? Didn’t you say you wanted to know where the second-grade sect is? I’ll tell you now, it’s not written anywhere, and no one in the clan knows its whereabouts besides me.”
These words caused the boy to stop.
Without turning his attention away from him, the boy spoke to the masked one.
“That’s right. Have we given up on the second-grade sect?”
Honghuo had temporarily been blinded by his desire for revenge and had prepared to exterminate the patriarch immediately, but if his words were true, then he would be at a dead-end in terms of finding his sister.
“Have you not already told us?”
The patriarch raised his brows in response to the masked one’s words. Was there something wrong with his mind?
“I haven’t told you anything.”
“Oh? Just now, weren’t you trying to head over to that second-grade sect?”
Hei was attempting to have the patriarch verify his suspicion. Allowing Honghuo to make his move was in order to create this opening. If the patriarch became lax due to confusion, it would work for him.
“It is. However, just that won’t…”
The patriarch felt something was off about the situation, but then realisation struck him.
Given his experience, the patriarch felt he had just made a tremendous mistake. With the way he appeared here again, he had just thought that his technique had been interrupted, but when he connected it to the masked one’s words of ‘have you not already told us?’, he thought of another possibility.
“A spatial lock? How is that possible?”
Spatial locks were formations which could manipulate space and restrict the abilities of others to do the same. The most common use of this was to create an area with infinite space, trapping opponents within until they had exhausted themselves.
Of course, the space wasn’t truly infinite, it was just that as one passed through the border on one side, they would be transported to the other side, creating the illusion that the space had no end.
When paired with techniques to suppress spiritual perception, usually accompanied by a thick fog, it would be very difficult to determine that one was in such a formation. And if necessary, they could even intercept the target coordinates of spatial techniques used within them.
Even knowing about the existence of such formations, the patriarch was still utterly dumbfounded. Things like this shouldn’t have existed in the lower continent. Even the leaders of the three pillars wouldn’t be able to use such a thing without leveraging connections in the upper continent.
It would require an array master of at least the five-star level to be able to create such a formation, and there wasn’t even a single one of them in the lower continent.
Needless to say, using one against the patriarch of a mid-sized family clan like the Zhu Clan was a tremendous waste. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say it was incomprehensible.
If Hei were his goofy self at this time, he may have mentioned something about falling for a trap card or something similar, but the current Hei got straight to the point.
“He is no longer useful.”
Hearing this, Honghuo resumed his approach.
Even though it was plain to see that the patriarch was in an incredibly weakened state right now, Honghuo didn’t relax his guard. He proceeded with the caution that had been instilled in him by his seniors in the clan, prepared to react to any sudden changes.
Meanwhile, Hei had activated his spiritual perception in full force. He was also cautious of the patriarch’s strange techniques which didn’t require qi.
“Haha. Hahaha. HAHAHAHA! So, this is it? This is how it all ends?”
The patriarch started to exhibit erratic behaviour as he realised that he was at the end of his rope.
“Good. Good. Very good.”
Hei remembered seeing similar things in the novels he read, so he tightened his focus.
“Even if you can kill me, don’t think I’ll go peacefully!”
His already dark-red skin became even darker, almost black, as his body started to convulse.
Honghuo retreated a few metres, waiting to defend against whatever this was.
As for the thought of striking first, he wasn’t so foolish.
Hei calmly observed what was happening.
Without his spirit roots, the patriarch had no defence against Hei’s probing like other cultivators would, so Hei was seeing exactly what was happening.
Within the patriarch’s abdomen, two swirling masses of a black substance were forming. It seemed there was one each for Honghuo and himself.
After his whole body turned black, eyes included, the patriarch stared at his enemies. These people who had forced him to such a situation. They wouldn’t get away.
“My brothers will avenge me.”
With that, his body exploded at the torso, leaving only his limbs and head crumbling and fading into dust. The two swirling masses formed into sharp spikes before launching themselves at Hei and Honghuo.
Hei had already seen such a thing coming, so from his storage space, he pulled out two kidnappers and threw one to intercept the spike coming towards him, and the other to Honghuo, so he could do the same.
Seeing what Heihuo had done, Honghuo followed suit.
As the spikes collided with the kidnappers, they didn’t pierce through their bodies as one would expect. Instead, they burst and covered their targets in a black liquid which seeped through their skin, entering their veins, creating a grotesque visage.
After a moment of being dazed by the sudden change in the brightness of their environment, the two kidnappers noticed the change in their bodies.
“Eh? What’s this?”
“What’s this black stuff? Get it off of me.”
They tried to scratch the black substance off, but then they realised that it wasn’t external.
They looked around to a familiar scenery, and now that they had time to soak it in, they wondered why their environment had changed all of a sudden.
Was this some kind of dream? Weren’t they packed in with a bunch of other people in utter darkness and barely able to breathe before? Why had their veins suddenly turned black? And this light was far too bright darn it!
The patriarch watched this as his head slowly scattered in the wind. With the last moments of his life, he looked into the black holes in the mask.
With that, the patriarch ceased to exist in this world.
Honghuo walked over to Hei and patted his shoulder twice.
“Now I know what people mean when they say it’s as if a huge weight was lifted off of their chests.”
“You are content with the way this turned out?”
Honghuo looked at the fragmented remnants of the patriarch, then up to the sky. His eyes were at a dangerous level of moisture as he closed them.
When he opened them again, they were clearer than they had ever been.
“I have fulfilled my duty to my clan. From now, I shall walk my own path.”
He looked back to Heihuo.
“First is to search for my sisters.”
“Mm. The sect isn’t too far from here. We’ll move out once the sun has set.”
Unlike Honghuo, who was content with Heihuo’s answer, Miss business partner had a few words to say.
“Aw. Why at night? It will be hard for me to see what’s happening.”
“You’re probably right about that.”
Hearing her business partner’s agreement, Yuying smiled.
“So, what’s the solution?”
“Go to sleep.”
Yuying didn’t expect such a response.
“I don’t want to sleep.”
To be fair, her partner was coming up with practical solutions. It’s just that cultivation wasn’t very entertaining, nor was sleep.
“Why don’t we compromise? How about using a technique to create light? Then I’ll be able to see.”
“No good. There is a reason for moving at night, and darkness is part of it. Besides, there will probably be light at the sect.”
“I suppose so… But what about the commute? How long will it take?”
“A few hours.”
“Ah! Why don’t you head out right now? Won’t it be night time by the time you get there?”
“It’s not just about getting there at night. The movements need to be at night as well.”
“Because I noticed a few suspicious individuals.”
Hei was referring to the three minute realm cultivators who had been messing with the formation from the outside. He didn’t know their purpose, but he thought it would be best to avoid interacting with them.
“Suspicious individuals? Could it be the brothers that the patriarch was talking about?”
“Ooh. Then there’ll be some more action soon.”
“Right… But if there is, make it extra cool for the movie.”
“You’re not responding. You’ll make it cool, won’t you? Not such a quick fight as the one with the patriarch?”
“I prefer quick fights. Or better yet, no fights.”
“Yes, but if there is a fight, you’ll do something special, won’t you? For me?”
Yuying waited for a decent amount of time, but there wasn’t even a peep from her business partner.
“You aren’t going to respond?”
This time it was her turn to stay silent. She knew he wouldn’t be speaking any more on the matter.
She decided to change to topic.
“What about that girl? How is she doing in your spatial fold?”
“She is crying.”
“Eh? She’s crying? What happened?”
“She seems to have been overcome by guilt and is apologising profusely to the other women who don’t seem to know what she is apologising for but are comforting her anyway.”
“… I see. Don’t you think it’s a good time to bring her back out? If she’s crying from guilt, then they have probably explained the situation clearly enough, no?”
“Wouldn’t it be abrupt to bring her out right now? Her clan members will see her crying.”
“It’s better than letting the awkward situation in there continue if you ask me. Those women are probably looking down on her for breaking down like this.”
“You think so? Shouldn’t they feel compassion for someone in a similar situation to them?”
“Perhaps, but precisely because they are in the same situation, they could look down on her even more. You know what? Let me take a look. Put me in your spatial fold.”
Hei did as she asked, and not too long later he heard her request to come back out.
“Wow. That thing is huge. Where did you get it?”
“I inherited it.”
“Ah. You fat sheep really are lucky.”
“Wouldn’t you also be considered a fat sheep?”
“Yeah… I don’t think that term should be applied to women.”
“I see. Is fat donkey more appropriate?”
Hearing this, Yuying’s lower jaw quivered.
“Oh. Okay. I see how it is. See if I don’t make you a fat donkey in the movie!”
After hearing her response, Hei could now see where he went wrong. How could he have made such a simple mistake? He really needed to work on his social skills.
“Pardon me. I see now that a regular donkey is sufficient since they are already larger than sheep. I apologise for being insensitive.”
Yuying didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. He had just called her a donkey again, but why did he say it with such sincerity?
Even though his tone was emotionless, Yuying could feel that he was truly apologising. But why was his apology so infuriating?
What an interesting fellow.
After taking a moment, Yuying decided to forgive but not forget. She would leave him alone during the main part of the movie, but if he wasn’t a fat donkey in a special scene after the end credits, she would have failed as a director.
“Anyway, after taking a look in there, I think you should bring her out. There are already a few women giving her odd looks.”
“I’ll defer to your wisdom then.”
Hei created a field of black flames and pulled the young lady out of his storage space, leaving her on her knees with her hands covering her face, crying.
Hei turned to the jade, seeking assistance. He had no idea what to do in this situation.
“You’re on your own.”
Yuying was quite amused seeing her business partner acting so lost. She wanted to see how he would handle this situation.
Hei then turned to Honghuo who raised his hands in surrender while shaking his head. Evidently, he didn’t want to get involved either.
Lamenting the uselessness of his supposed companions, Hei turned to the crowd, who made it clear that they wouldn’t be coming any closer.
He was unsure of whether it was because they were afraid of their enemies, shocked by the loss of their patriarch, or they also didn’t know how to deal with such a situation. Either way, it had become his responsibility.
Whenever he was faced with something he couldn’t handle on his own, Hei would think of his mother, reflecting on the guidance she had given him throughout his life.
While thinking about the past, Hei recalled a time he was crying over destroying the dishwasher. He remembered the way his mother consoled him and again appreciated that she had really prepared him for life.
He followed the exact same steps she had done.
First was to lower one’s stance and place one’s hand on the head of the sorrowful.
Then was to wait for them to look up.
After eye contact was achieved, the stroking of the head began.
Once the shoulders had dropped slightly, it was time to speak.
“It’s not your fault that it’s broken.”
Then was to wait for the denial.
Interruption via the shaking of one’s own head.
Follow up statement, allowing the sorrowful to see the problem for what it is.
“This thing was already on its way to collapse, but now that you’ve seen what’s inside, what can you do?”
“I… I don’t know.”
“You can see why it had come to this. What were the weak points? Where did rust set in first?”
Then speak of the future, letting the sorrowful know that this isn’t the end.
“Once you know these things, you can prevent such a tragedy from happening in the future.”
At this point, the young lady’s eyes opened wide. She understood what he was saying.
“It’s okay, even if you can’t fix it this time. The damage has already been done. But if you replace what’s old and broken, you can make something new that will work even better than it did before. Just as long as you don’t give up.”
At this point, her eyes were sparkling with determination. There would be a lot of work to do, but she wouldn’t give up.
He spoke his final words.
“Are you willing to try?”
She nodded her head, shaking away the last of her tears.
“Mm. I’ll do my best. I won’t let you down.”
Hei nodded his head and brought hers to his own, letting their foreheads connect. Though, his was currently the forehead of a metal mask.
“I know you can do it.”
After that, he stood back up and observed the results of his mother’s words.
He couldn’t help but nod his head in approval.
‘Mother is truly practical.’