Seeing the results of Hei’s consolation, both Honghuo and Yuying were left speechless.
Well, speechless wasn’t the right word. They had a lot to say but didn’t know what to say first.
Honghuo decided to just give Heihuo a pat on the shoulder.
Yuying couldn’t do the same, but she also expressed her approval.
“I didn’t know you had it in you.”
“Thanks, but it is my mother who deserves the praise.”
Wrapped up in the atmosphere, Hei was actually feeling quite proud of himself, but he was also aware that this was a mere fraction of what his mother would have been able to achieve.
After hearing her words at the time, he had immediately started sifting through the pieces of the dishwasher thinking about what would need to be replaced and what he could fix himself.
Little did he know, the young lady was doing exactly that. As she stood up from the floor, she was thinking about how she would improve the Zhu Clan and make it into the clan she had always believed it was.
If she didn’t become the matriarch after the patriarch handed his position down, she would be second in command. That was what she resolved to do after hearing Hei’s words.
As for actually becoming the matriarch, there was the patriarch’s son as an obstacle. He was, without a doubt, the number one junior of the Zhu Clan. Realistically speaking, it would be extremely difficult for her to become the matriarch if he had any intention of being the patriarch.
Thinking of this, she looked around and noticed that the patriarch was missing. She also noticed the scene of the earlier battle, where the ground was still scorching hot, and the three elders who had retreated into the audience. There were also two fellows with black markings all over their bodies.
Hei noticed what she was doing and as he took the two kidnappers back into his storage space, he answered.
“Your patriarch has already left this world.”
Hearing this, her eyes opened wide and her hands found themselves over her mouth.
The patriarch was dead? How could this be?
While the patriarch had viciously attacked her earlier, it was somewhat understandable. In the face of their enemy, she was indeed quite useless. And when one added the various meritorious deeds the patriarch had accomplished in his life, it was difficult to wish him harm.
To hear that he had passed away, no member of the Zhu Clan would be left with dry eyes.
That was what she knew, and yet, when she looked around, there wasn’t a tear to be found. Everyone she saw had a complicated expression on their faces. Nothing like mourning the loss of a loved one.
She looked to the other members of her clan.
“Is this true?”
It wasn’t that she doubted the masked one’s words. It was just that this was all too sudden. Just moments ago, the patriarch was alive and well, and now, all of a sudden he was gone? And even if that were the case, where was his body?
The members of her clan nodded their heads in response.
Still slightly dazed, she turned back to the masked one.
“Were you the one who did this?”
She didn’t want it to be the case, but she had to confirm this. It was well known that the masked one didn’t leave a trace of his victims.
Hei thought for a moment, creating an awkward silence. The young lady felt a growing pressure as she looked into the abyss-like eyes of his mask.
Yuying waited for him to deny it, but his words were strange as usual.
“It could be said to be the case.”
The young lady took a step back.
Honghuo scratched his head and Yuying had a few words to say.
[Why would you say that? That guy killed himself.]
[But it wouldn’t be false to say that I drove him to such a point. Had I not come today, he would most likely still be alive.]
[But he was a demonic cultivator. He deserved to die anyway, right?]
[Whether he deserved to die, it is not my place to say.]
Yuying found this to be interesting. Most people, when met with a demonic cultivator, would hold nothing but animosity towards them. This business partner of hers was quite odd in this regard.
It was no wonder he had to take suppressive substances. If he was this attached to an incident like this even under the effects, it was hard to imagine how he would handle it while in his normal state.
It was almost enough to make one want to comfort him. Though, she wasn’t sure how a donkey would do that.
[Are you feeling guilty about this?]
[No. Not in the slightest.]
What was with the sudden switch in his attitude? Wouldn’t the normal answer have been yes, given what he said before? There was this unusual disjoint in his view on things and his feelings about them.
Just like he could so casually call people donkeys while somehow not meaning for it to be an insult.
Didn’t they call this being socially inept?
Yuying was going to ask more, but the young lady moved first.
Her initial fear had been replaced by frustration and anger.
She stepped up to Hei and grabbed his clothing with both fists at about chest height.
“Why would you do that?”
Yuying couldn’t help commenting.
[It’s kind of awkward with you being so much shorter than she is. It looks like she’s bullying a child.]
Hei ignored her words and addressed the young lady.
Instead of telling her something like ‘your patriarch was a demonic cultivator’, which would probably help the situation, he decided to speak plainly without deflecting any of the blame from himself.
“Your patriarch had something I needed, and in the process of obtaining it, he perished.”
‘To be honest, though, it was mostly Honghuo who led him to that point. I had already gotten what I wanted when he tried to escape this place.’
Speaking of Honghuo, after hearing Hei’s words, he walked over to where the patriarch’s remains were and picked up a few of his belongings.
There was no point in wasting good loot.
Ignoring his actions, the young lady’s focus was fully on the masked one.
“So, you were also…”
She released him and took a step back.
As she burned his image into her mind, she pulled out her sword from her spatial ring. Today would be the day she died, but she wasn’t scared. No, she was terrified, but this was what she had to do.
She remembered the brief contact she had had with this fellow, starting in her bathroom, where he appeared unannounced, then again as he burst through the walls and grabbed her. He then protected her from the patriarch’s assault and showed her the ugly side of the Zhu Clan that she had never seen before.
While she was in anguish, he showed her a way to overcome and create a better Zhu Clan.
But even after all of that, he had slain the patriarch and multiple elders, leaving the Zhu Clan severely crippled. How could she stand by and watch all of this? She had to take action, even if it would cost her her life.
Such was justice. Such was the spirit of the Zhu Clan!
She placed her fingertips on the edge of the blade, starting from its hilt and prepared to use her strongest technique. She would offer her blood essence to the blade to unleash her full might, but the price she would have to pay…
She was fully prepared.
That was until she felt a force at the back of her head.
“Stop now, Xiaoli!”
Knocked out of her serious state, Xiaoli turned to the person standing behind her. It was one of the elders who had gone off to ambush that other boy.
“Elder Hong. But…”
She moved her gaze between Elder Hong and the masked one.
Honghuo was just watching as he placed items into his spatial ring.
Elder Hong could understand where she was coming from, but she was missing some crucial information. If he didn’t know any better, he would say that the masked one was baiting her into attacking him. For what reason, who knew?
Truthfully speaking, the further away he was from these people, the better. But he wasn’t about to let one of the younger generation throw her life away like this. The Zhu Clan was already damaged enough as it was.
“Xiaoli. The patriarch… He was a demonic cultivator.”
Elder Hong then went on to explain all the details and hearing them, Xiaoli’s knees grew weak so she took a rest on the ground. Elder Hong, on the other hand, left the place as soon as he could.
Xiaoli looked to the masked one with resentment in her eyes.
“Sheesh. You could have told me the whole story, you know? Do you know how scared I was just now?”
“… Does it change anything?”
Hei was thrown for a loop by her sudden change in demeanor.
“Does it change anything? Only everything! If the patriarch was a demonic cultivator, you should have just said so. Do you think I would have done all that just now if you had?”
After saying this, she remembered what just happened.
“I showed you an ugly side of myself, didn’t I?”
“I wouldn’t say ugly.”
Xiaoli smiled in response, but Yuying interjected.
[But you would say donkey, huh?]
[Let it go.]
[Let it go? I can’t hold-]
[Let’s not what?]
[Anyway, as I was saying, I can’t hold it in. You should know this by now.]
[Let the past be the past. I have already admitted to my mistakes. You’re a regular sized donkey, not a fat one. It was my fault that time. Hmm. How about this. As long as it’s within reason, I’ll make it up to you.]
The corner of Yuying’s mouth twitched, but she detected an opportunity.
[You’ll make it up to me?]
[As long as it’s within reason, yes. But I hope you can move on from this matter.]
[Within reason is fairly ambiguous, you know? What are we talking exactly?]
[If I can accomplish it without losing my integrity, it shall be done. Is that sufficient?]
Yuying smiled, though Hei couldn’t see it.
[Indeed it is.]
[Then what will it be?]
[I think I’ll leave it for later. Won’t ‘within reason’ expand with time?]
[A practical approach, but have you considered that it may become too late at some point?]
[What do you mean? We’ll be partners forever, won’t we? Are you going to run off with someone else?]
[Ah. You really cause people concern. Anyway, I think I’ll hold it off for the time being.]
Little did Hei know, this ‘donkey compensation’ would reach unimaginable levels.
Oblivious to the trouble he had brought to himself, Hei directed his attention back to Xiaoli. He was interested in this situation.
“Simply because your patriarch was a demonic cultivator, you are able to overlook his death?”
“It’s complicated, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t your fault that the patriarch died. He brought it upon himself in a way.”
“But if we hadn’t-”
“If you hadn’t come, the Zhu Clan wouldn’t have suffered this. Is that what you’re saying?”
“Well, if you had waited for me to finish-”
“Then let me ask you. Is it better to remain blissfully unaware of a problem eating at you from the inside, eventually destroying you? Or is it better to discover it and resolve it, even though it causes you immediate harm?”
“Both sides have their-”
“Exactly! It’s better to discover it and get rid of it. That’s what demonic cultivators are, you know? Especially for the Zhu Clan. They can’t be allowed to exist here.”
“Mm. That’s what I was thinking. We need to swiftly remove them. It’s like you said. We have to find the rusty parts, the old and broken and replace them with the new. Then we can rise up and be even greater. Right?”
Hei realised that Xiaoli wasn’t listening to a word he said. She was lost in her own world.
“The only thing is, how do we find them? They’re slippery fellows, as can be seen with the patriarch.”
At this point, Xiaoli had recovered from her bout of weakness and stood back up.
“You knew about him, didn’t you? That’s why you confronted him?”
“Well, not exact-”
“Then will you help us?”
[Does this girl listen to anything?]
[Coming from you, I get pot and kettle vibes.]
[What’s that supposed to mean?]