To be honest, Hei wasn’t expecting her to say this. Did clans take in non-family members?
Fang Ren, on the other hand, was extremely excited. She turned to the three and said:
“Hurry up and agree! We can be fellow disciples. Isn’t this perfect?”
The three turned to her with blank faces. When had this girl grown so attached to them?
Seeing this, Fang Ren’s happiness started to fade. She had a bad feeling about this.
It wasn’t just Fang Ren. One of the elders noticed the three’s unenthusiastic expressions and couldn’t help speaking up.
“It is a great honour for you to be chosen by the matriarch herself. Why do you hesitate?”
Fang Ren nodded vigorously in agreement.
The three looked at each other with awkward smiles before Hei spoke.
“This is what happens when you are too high key. Sometimes there are unforeseen benefits, but there can also be unwanted troubles. Make sure you ingrain this in your minds. In the future, we will be as low key as possible.”
Bai and Tianlan agreed. While it was good for them to get into contact with the higherups of the Fang Clan, it came with a recruitment attempt. The whole situation was slightly uncomfortable.
Hei then turned to the matriarch and spoke with an apologetic tone.
“We apologise, but we are here because Sister Ren invited us to participate in the trial. We only wanted quotas for the 5-sect summit.”
Hearing this, the same elder was angered slightly.
“Isn’t joining our Fang Clan far better than just gaining a quota?”
Fang Ren nodded in agreement again. Surely after hearing all of the things she had told them, they would also see that the Fang Clan was an excellent place for one to expand one’s horizons.
Hei responded in a calm voice.
“No. We don’t think so.”
Hearing this, everyone in the room was shocked. What kind of situation was this? A quota they were providing had more value than they themselves? Since when had the number one clan of Spring Leaf City been viewed like this?
Fang Ren was the most shocked. What about all the things they had seen, how they were interested in the cultivator’s robes and the alchemy hall? Even with all of that they just wanted quotas?
The matriarch was also shocked and slightly offended.
“What? Is my Fang Clan lacking?”
Hearing this, Hei responded in a relaxed voice.
“It is not that your Fang Clan is lacking. We are the young generation of the Shao Clan. It would be very difficult for another clan to recruit us.”
After hearing Hei’s words, Fang Ren remembered that the three had claimed to be in the body refining realm. If it were true, then their clan couldn’t be a weak one. It would make sense for them not to place too much value on the Fang Clan.
Another elder spoke up.
“Shao Clan? I’ve never heard of it.”
“That’s because we just established it 5 months ago.”
Hearing this, the elders became offended. How could they not see that this boy was mocking the Fang Clan? What Shao Clan? Shao Clan your little sister!
The matriarch could see the anger in the elders, and truthfully, she was also offended.
She raised her hand the elders quietened down.
“What does your Shao Clan have that my Fang Clan lacks?”
She wanted to know this. If there were a clan whose juniors didn’t place the Fang Clan in their eyes, it would be concerning, to say the least.
Hei noticed this and turned to his siblings who also understood.
He responded with one word.
At this point the elders were outraged. They started clamouring and directing harsh words to the three and the Shao Clan.
Fang Ren was now feeling apprehensive. Her new friends were stirring things too much. She was afraid she would be blamed for ‘inviting them here’.
Hei was a little annoyed by these childish elders. Was it so strange that someone didn’t want to leave their family?
He turned to the matriarch and spoke loudly enough to overpower the noise of the elders.
“Lady, if you want to have a proper discussion, I think you should have these elders leave.”
Hei signalled to the entrance with his thumb.
The elders shouted out.
“You shall speak to the matriarch with due respect.”
These elder had felt that this Shao Clan boy had been disrespectful ever since he entered the hall.
Ignoring them, Hei looked to the matriarch and spoke again.
The elders also looked to her.
The matriarch was even more concerned by the relaxed demeanour of Hei.
Tianlan and Bai who seemed to be bored were looking around the hall, ignoring the conversation, which also made her apprehensive.
She wanted to find out more about this Shao Clan.
After a pause, the matriarch agreed and had the elders begrudgingly leave.
They understood that it would be a terrible loss if they were to let Bai slip through their fingers, so they didn’t put up too much of a fuss.
As they left, they threw strong glances at the three, trying to intimidate them with their auras.
They were shocked to find out that it had no effect.
The matriarch was also shocked. She felt that it was a good decision to acquiesce to Hei’s request. She would now be able to find out more about this mysterious Shao Clan.
After the elders left, the matriarch looked towards the three who were incredibly calm, and the nervous Fang Ren.
“So, why do you refuse to join my Fang Clan? I assure you we will treat you well and will nurture your talents to the best of our ability.”
This was a probing question. Hei had already said that it would be difficult to recruit them, but he didn’t say it was impossible.
Now that the elders were gone, Hei decided to switch up his approach. He could see that this matriarch was slightly different. He also wanted to ease the nervous Fang Ren
“Don’t misunderstand, Fang Clan matriarch. Sister Ren has already told us of the wonderful things about the Fang Clan. And we agree.”
The matriarch looked towards Fang Ren who shrank in nervousness. The matriarch was appreciative of juniors who were loyal to the clan.
She turned back to Hei.
“Because we are the young generation of the Shao Clan.”
“Joining another clan isn’t uncommon. Marriage is one example.”
“That is true, but we are the entire younger generation of the Shao Clan. There are no other juniors.”
Hei was reducing the image of the Shao Clan with these words. It was important to have the matriarch not see them as a threat.
The matriarch was lost for words.
“Then your older generation must be top experts to raise such a young genius.”
She said this while looking towards Shao Bai.
The three looked at each other with awkward smiles.
“Actually, we’re the only cultivators in our clan…”
This time not only was the matriarch speechless, but Fang Ren was having trouble believing that this was real life.
The matriarch spoke after a while.
“Then why do you refuse to join my Fang Clan?”
Fang Ren stepped in.
“Yes! Your whole family can come to our clan. They will live well here.”
The matriarch added on.
“Indeed. I shall even see to it personally that they receive the best instruction in their cultivation.”
The matriarch was growing more confident. At first, she was apprehensive of the Shao Clan, but hearing that these three children were their only cultivators, she was sure that these children were just worried about their family when they refused to join the Fang Clan.
Now that their entire family was invited, how could they refuse?
“This… Actually, our mother and grandfather have no desire to cultivate, so that offer isn’t worth anything to us.”
The matriarch was stunned for a moment before she responded.
“Even if they do not, we can still offer you more resources and guidance than you can get on your own.”
After saying this, the matriarch realised something.
“Mother and grandfather? How many members does your Shao Clan have?”
“That would be 5 including us. 6 if you throw in Grandma who is who knows where.”
The matriarch and Fang Ren were speechless. Could this even be called a clan?
After a while, the matriarch spoke.
“Even with all of this, you won’t join us?”
Hei responded sharply.
“No matter what?”
“No matter what.”
The matriarch let out a sigh. She was sure she could pull in some talented juniors today. Who would have known that the prestigious Fang Clan would have allure towards them?
Fang Ren was also disappointed. It seemed her new friends would be slipping through her fingers.
After a while, the matriarch’s eyes shone as she looked at Bai. In truth, Bai had been her target all along.
If they weren’t willing to join the Fang Clan, then maybe she could take Bai in as a disciple. Then she could work on swallowing up the three slowly.
“I have been looking for a disciple for a while now. I see that this young lady has remarkable talent, but she lacks proper guidance. I wonder if you are willing to accept me as your master.”
The matriarch said this in the warmest and most inviting way she could, using all of her persuasive ability to deliver this proposal.
Bai didn’t know what to say. She looked to her brothers for guidance.
“You can make the decision for yourself, Little Bai.”
After hearing this, the matriarch’s eyes lit up in excitement.
She was confident that without the interference from her brother, Hei, she would be able to entice the little girl.
Bai hesitated for a moment before asking:
“What would I gain by becoming your disciple?”
The matriarch immediately listed the benefits she had thought of beforehand.
“As my disciple, I will teach you everything I know about alchemy. You will have access to the best resources in the Fang Clan and will be able to practice the Fang Clan’s core inheritance.”
Fang Ren’s eyes lit up after hearing this. Every junior in the Fang Clan would jump at the chance. She turned to Bai and what she saw left her wondering what was wrong with the world today.
Bai had a face of disdain. She responded to the matriarch.
“Um. Can’t I learn alchemy from books?”
“You can but having a teacher there to spot any problems is crucial. There have been many cases of those who studied independently causing cauldron explosions and producing faulty pills that sometimes led to them permanently damaging their cultivation. It is important to have a skilled alchemist’s guidance.”
Instead of being upset about Bai’s expression, the matriarch was actually impressed that the young lady had such independence. She was confident that she had answered the question sufficiently.
She saw that Bai and Tianlan turned towards Hei, whose mouth twitched.
“You little! You can’t keep doing this to me!”
The matriarch and Fang Ren were confused at Hei’s sudden outburst.
The matriarch spoke.
“What are you talking about?”
“Well, you see. We have a trusty shield known as 2nd Brother. Whenever we need to do something dangerous, we have him try it first. Even if all of his cultivation paths are destroyed, he can still recover.”
Hei was surprised that Tianlan said all of this.
“Hey! Some things are better kept as a secret. Why would you say all of that, huh? Think a little!”
Tianlan realised his mistake but didn’t care too much about it.
The matriarch and Fang Ren were staring at Hei with wide eyes.
The matriarch asked:
“How is that possible?”
Bai answered this time.
“He has a unique physique.”
Bai wanted to correct Tianlan’s mistake by blaming it on Hei’s Innate Shadow Physique.
“But the Innate Shadow Physique doesn’t have such properties.”
The matriarch also had knowledge of the Innate Shadow Physique. From what she had read, its only features were dark skin, different hair, and a stealth ability that only works in the darkness.
“Oh? How do you know? Do you have a reliable source of information on it?”
It was true. Information on the matters relating to the middle continent was very unreliable in the lower eastern continent. There hadn’t been many people who had gone there and come back to provide accurate information.
“Indeed. If you have such an ability, the need of a teacher is reduced, and you will actually learn the mistakes first hand. But this would be extremely painful. Why would you put your brother through this?”
Hei jumped in.
“Because they are cold and heartless.”
The matriarch could hear the pain in Hei’s words. What had this poor boy experienced?
“This… We can still offer you cultivation resources.”
The matriarch could feel her back against the wall. The situation was slowly escaping her control.
“But we can find cultivation resources in the Spring Leaf Forest, can’t we?”
“This… The forest is extremely dangerous for lower level cultivators like you. Even our Fang Clan sends out elders to supervise the training of the younger generation.”
Tianlan stepped in.
“This also isn’t a problem because 2nd Brother’s defensive capabilities are unmatched”
“Darn you! Now you want to make me a meat shield?”
Bai jumped in.
“Don’t say it like that, Brother. You are protecting me from all of the evil in the world, aren’t you?”
Bai looked at Hei with pleading eyes. He couldn’t say no.
“You remember that?”
She said this with that same innocent smile and her head slightly tilted to the side.
The matriarch couldn’t help speaking up.
“What kind of relationship do you people have? Are you even family? This poor boy.”
Hei’s eyes shone after hearing this. There was finally someone who sympathised with him.
“I’m glad you understand, Matriarch.”
The matriarch realised that she had somehow been pulled into the trio’s world.
“Cough. Even so, you have the opportunity to cultivate the Fang Clan’s core inheritance. This is the best cultivation technique in all of Spring Leaf City. I can guarantee it. “
Seeing the proud look on the matriarch’s face, Bai hesitated.
After a moment she responded.
“Actually, our Shao Clan has the best cultivation technique. I’m sure of it.”
“Why do you say that? You haven’t even seen my Fang Clan’s technique.”
“You are correct. Then if your Fang Clan has a body refining cultivator who can defeat me then I will admit that your technique really is the best.”
Fang Ren had a bad feeling hearing this.
The matriarch gave Bai a confused look before saying:
“How is a body refining cultivator supposed to defeat a peak externalisation cultivator?”
“Externalisation? No. We are all body refining cultivators.”
“What? How can that be?”
The matriarch was shocked. Since when had body refining cultivators hit 20,000 jin?
After a moment she recalled something she had read long ago.
“No. There are cases of body refining cultivators being as strong as externalisation and even internalisation experts, but all of these were the giant berserkers of the northern continent. Why are your bodies so small?”
“Because our cultivation technique is superior to theirs. I have read about them before. They cultivate by first maximising their physical bodies without the aid of Qi, gaining tremendous strength in exchange for bulk and reduced flexibility and speed. They then enter the body refining realm and with the aid of their branded Qi, further nourish their massive frames. This allows them to have a lot of power, even jumping whole realms.”
The matriarch agreed. What Bai had said so far was similar to what she knew about the giant berserkers.
“Our Shao clan technique makes use of branded Qi from the start and through a unique method, saturates the components of the body with branded Qi, reinforcing them. This also has the added benefit of making our bodies more compatible with natural Qi.”
After hearing this, the matriarch stared at Bai with wide eyes. This was the most shocked she had been in her entire life.
Fang Ren didn’t really understand what was going on, but she was impressed by Bai’s ability to explain cultivation methods in a simple way.
The matriarch got off her throne and walked to Bai.
Fang ren was wondering what was happening.
When the matriarch got directly in front of the three, she spoke.
“This… You’ve condensed the transcendent realm to body refining?”
“… You don’t know of the transcendent realm?”
“Never heard of it.”
The matriarch was lost for words. Did the Shao Clan’s cultivation method not require comprehension?
“The transcendent realm is the realm beyond the internalisation realm. It is where a cultivator will refine their body for the second time, making it more harmonious with the laws of the world. It is also the realm that eludes me. I have been trying to break through for the past two years.”
‘Hehe. Got it!’
Hei now knew how he would approach the subjugation of the Fang Clan.
Hearing the matriarch’s words, Bai remembered the changes Tianlan had seen in Hei’s body, that she had also implemented into their cultivation technique.
She turned to Hei.
“Brother, it seems we accidentally made you a transcendent cultivator.”
Bai’s words made Tianlan remember the same thing.
“So that’s what it was!”
Because of Xiulan’s lacking cultivation, the books they had read in the Wu Clan only contained information up to the internalisation realm, so they didn’t know that the changes Hei had gone through were similar to the transcendent realm.
The words spoken by Bai and Tianlan flew over the head of the matriarch who was still in shock.
After a while, the matriarch bowed her head and earnestly pleaded.
“Please introduce me to the master who created your Shao Clan’s cultivation technique. I wish to break the shackles that bind me.”