The matriarch was stunned by Hei’s words.
Join the Shao Clan? What?
She was silent for a long while before she responded.
“I can’t leave the Fang Clan, is there any other way?”
Hei smiled in response.
“I think you have mistaken my words. Joining my Shao Clan does not mean that you will be leaving the Fang Clan. You won’t become one of our family members, you will be akin to a maid.”
The matriarch was lost for words. Here she thought that they would ask her to become a high ranking elder, at least a guest elder, but instead, she was offered a maid position.
How many years had she been the Fang Clan’s matriarch? That she would be demoted to a maid, it was insulting.
She spoke in an angry tone.
“What is the meaning of this?”
Hei had a face of surprise. He responded with a look of realisation.
“Ah! You think being a maid is too low for you, who is the matriarch of the number one clan in Spring Leaf City?”
‘I suppose ‘cold then warm’ could work well here.’
Hei was thinking about the words he would use to persuade the matriarch to join the Shao Clan.
He thought of how unpleasant experiences were quite easy to remember, so he decided to deliver some of his points in an offensive way. He wanted certain things that he said to remain in the back of the matriarch’s mind.
Hei looked as if he were thinking seriously for a while before he responded.
“Don’t be too full of yourself. Do you realise that you and your Fang Clan are just frogs in a well, looking up at a tiny sky and thinking that’s all there is?”
The matriarch was shocked at Hei’s sudden switch. It looked like he was the one who had been insulted instead.
“To think that you, some lowly figurehead of a puny clan, deserves anything more than a maid position from my Shao Clan. Laughable!”
Hei scratched his head in frustration.
“This is what happens when you offer to help a clown. You know, I was thinking of letting you be the head maid, but it looks like you can’t see how tall the mountain standing before you is.”
The matriarch was lost for words. Was this the same little boy she had been talking to before? He may have been casual, but he didn’t use such sharp words.
Hei tapped his finger against his leg while looking towards the sky and taking a deep breath.
“I thought you could become a good little subordinate, an obedient little subordinate, but you are ungrateful.”
Hei sighed while looking at the ground and shaking his head.
“I tried to be nice, but you didn’t want any part of it. Then let me be direct.”
Hei paused for dramatic effect. He wanted his next words to be impactful.
“My Shao Clan is going to take over this world. Either you join us while the offer still stands, or you can regret it for the rest of your life.”
These words only served to anger the matriarch further. Was this a threat?
Hei stopped here. He could see the confusion and anger in the matriarch’s face.
He then smiled and said:
“Of course, this isn’t a threat. Whether you agree or not, your Fang Clan and my Shao Clan have no enmity.”
Hearing this, the matriarch relaxed slightly. She was actually considering his offer.
If it meant that she could break through to the transcendent realm, it may be worth it. She had a lot of problems that would be solved if she were able to break through.
Seeing that the matriarch’s face had relaxed a little, Hei decided to take a softer approach.
If before he was harshly reprimanding her, he was now gently persuading her.
“Our Shao Clan treats it’s people quite well, you know? Even as a maid you will have access to cultivation techniques and combat techniques that have been custom made for you. Obviously, you must swear loyalty and everything else, but as one of our people, what’s important to you will not be neglected by us.”
The matriarch grew more relaxed as Hei spoke. At this point, the only thing Hei could feel from her was hesitancy.
‘Time for the heartstrings.’
“You care deeply for your clan and you want to be here to protect it, that is why you are trying to break through to the transcendent realm. Am I correct?”
“Then how about this. Only upon using our method to break through, will you become our maid. Otherwise, you have no obligations to my Shao Clan. There is no risk, only potential gain. What do you think?”
The matriarch thought for a while before responding.
“If I were to break through on my own, or find some other way, how would you like to be reimbursed for the work you would have done in developing a method for me?”
Hei smiled, she was only one tug away.
“You won’t have to reimburse us. Just know that my Shao Clan’s techniques are unmatched. I can almost guarantee that what we come up with will be better for you than what you can find on your own.”
Hei was preparing a fail-safe. He had seen many cases where a main character swooped in and solved a problem.
That boy from the trial may very well have a way to help the matriarch break through to the transcendent realm.
By introducing the idea that she would have more to gain by getting the three’s help, he hoped to prevent someone else from catching the fish he had been eyeing.
The matriarch smiled and said:
“Aren’t you afraid that I could use your technique, but refuse to become your maid?”
Hei also smiled as he responded.
“I don’t think you are so foolish as to try something like that.”
Hei didn’t apply any kind of suppressive force as he said this, but the matriarch could feel that it would be a terrible mistake to break a promise with this boy.
“Very well, If I use your Shao Clan’s method to break through, I will become your maid.”
These words were hard for the matriarch to say, but she had the option to find her own way. As Hei had said, there were no risks.
She held her hand out to Hei who took it.
“Ah. This is a secret agreement between you and me. My siblings don’t know about it, nor do they need to. And I won’t tell anyone, so you don’t have to worry about that.”
The matriarch wasn’t fond of the idea of everyone knowing that she had agreed to be a maid.
“I wonder if you would be willing to completely discard your cultivation and switch over to my Shao Clan’s techniques? We’ll develop body refining, externalisation and internalisation techniques for you, free of charge.”
Hei wanted to see what Bai could create for a cultivator with spirit roots. It would be useful in the future when they wanted to recruit more subordinates.
It would also greatly reduce the chance that the matriarch refuses their help. Hei was sure that once a cultivator had a taste of the Shao Clan’s techniques, they would never be able to go back to other techniques.
Hei didn’t know that he and the matriarch were having the same thoughts. They were both sure that they would be able to reel the other in and win in the end.
“Discard my cultivation?”
The matriarch was stunned. She had been cultivating for over 20 years. To discard it all of a sudden…
“Mm. Your Fang Clan’s techniques are good compared to ordinary techniques, but judging from Fang Ren, who you said was cultivating the Fang Clan’s core inheritance, they are far below my Shao Clan’s techniques. Honestly, it would be embarrassing to have a maid who is so weak…”
“If I’m not wrong, I would say you’re combat prowess isn’t much better than Tianlan’s, who has only been cultivating for about a year and a half.”
“A year and a half?”
The matriarch was surprised to hear this. She had assumed Tianlan had been cultivating for over 5 years. To reach the peak of the externalisation realm in less than two years…
“That’s right. Though, I may have spoken too soon. I have never seen an internalisation realm cultivator in action.”
Hei’s eyes brightened at this moment.
“Why don’t you and Tianlan have a sparring match? Then you can see what you have to gain by discarding your cultivation and using our techniques.”
Hei was very interested to see this. It would surely be better than the fights he had seen during the Wu Clan internal competition.
The matriarch was hesitant. Fighting a 12-year-old?
“You can’t refuse. It would be good for all of us. Quickly, remove the barrier!”
Hei was growing impatient. He wanted to see the fight happen as soon as possible.
The matriarch had a blank face as she removed the barrier.
After the barrier was removed, Bai, Tianlan and Fang Ren could see the two.
“Long story short, we’re going to help the matriarch. But first, you’re going to have a sparring match with her.”
“A sparring match? Why?”
Tianlan wasn’t too enthusiastic about the idea. He had no idea how he would fare against an internalisation realm cultivator.
“I advised her to discard her cultivation and allow us to make custom techniques for her, but she is apprehensive. You will display the merits of our techniques to her.”
Hearing the discussion between the two boys, Fang Ren was shocked. Telling the matriarch to discard her cultivation and practice your techniques? This is the Fang Clan’s matriarch were talking about!
He pointed to the middle of the hall as he said this.
Bai stepped in.
“Before you begin, I think it’s important to discuss exactly how we will be helping the matriarch.”
She turned to Hei.
“Will we be creating techniques for her from body forging to the transcendent realm?”
Hearing Hei’s response, Bai turned to the matriarch.
“Then we will require access to cultivation techniques from all of those realms. It would also help to get some of the Fang Clan’s techniques, so we can make use of the information on yin and yang within them, which will help you to regain your current strength faster.”
The matriarch responded.
“I have already said that I will speak to the elders to have you accepted as guest elders, but in the case that it fails, I will collect all of the resources you need to the best of my ability. For now, you can take these tokens, which will grant you access to the ground floor of our cultivation hall.”
The matriarch handed the three a golden token each, similar to the one she had given Hei previously.
Bai wanted to make sure that their ability to gain access to more cultivation manuals didn’t entirely hinge on them being accepted as guest elders.
This way, even if the Fang Clan’s elders disagreed, the three would still get access to cultivation techniques through the matriarch.
The matriarch spoke again.
“How long would it take for you to complete the techniques?”
She was curious. Even though they had modified a body refining technique within minutes, the matriarch was still unsure of how long it would take them to create a set of four techniques from body refining to the transcendent realm.
“We haven’t tried to create any techniques above the body refining realm, but I estimate that it will take six months. There are many factors that could affect this though.”
The matriarch was shocked. She wouldn’t be surprised if Bai had said 5-10 years, but six months? Wasn’t that way too fast?
Hei jumped in.
“Yes, yes. Now that that’s been settled, you can start the sparring match now.”
Tianlan stepped to the middle of the hall.
Hei spoke again.
“Miss matriarch, it’s best if you don’t underestimate Tianlan.”
The matriarch blew off Hei’s advice. Why would she have to take this fight seriously? It was just to see how strong the Shao Clan’s body refining technique really was.
The matriarch and Shao Tianlan cupped fists towards each other.
“Are you prepared?”
-Tap. Tap. Swish.
Tianlan leaned forward and took two slow steps towards the matriarch. He then disappeared from view.
The matriarch was momentarily stunned, she did not expect him to be so fast.
She now realised that Hei’s advice wasn’t without reason and that She had been too relaxed. She had not even used her spiritual perception.
She quickly spread out her spiritual perception and was shocked to find that Tianlan was right behind her and had already launched his first attack.
She quickly stepped forward while rotating to face Tianlan. She then launched a palm to contend with Tianlan’s fist.
Just as the fist and palm were about to collide, Tianlan again vanished.
The matriarch had already spread her spiritual perception, so she was able to track Tianlan’s movements. She was shocked by how fast he was.
Tianlan had once again gotten behind the matriarch. He crouched into a low stance and launched a sweeping kick at her legs.
She quickly responded by jumping to the side, but before she could land, Tianlan was already at her side.
Because of her momentum, she was approaching another of Tianlan’s fists.
She quickly tilted her head to avoid the fist and was thrown off balance.
Tianlan was ruthless in his offence. When he saw the matriarch had lost her form, he launched a heavy kick to her abdomen.
Just as the kick was about to land Tianlan heard an annoying comment.
“Hey, Big Brother! Why are you being so creepy? You could at least give her some breathing room.”
Tianlan stopped his attack and turned to Hei.
“This is a sparring match. Aren’t we trying to show her the merits of abandoning her cultivation?”
“We are, but you are still fighting a lady. Shouldn’t you go easy on her?”
“Why would I do that?”
“Because she’s a lady.”
“So… She’s a lady…”
“I don’t see your point.”
Seeing that her brothers were going in circles, Bai decided to interject.
“Uh, if the difference is too big, it won’t be a learning experience.”
Hei added on.
“Yeah, that’s it. You should fight more evenly. Besides, she won’t be learning our core technique, so you’re misrepresenting what she will gain. You should probably fight at level 7.”
It may have seemed like Tianlan had easily handled the matriarch, but he had taken advantage of her having underestimated him.
He had already lost the element of surprise. If he were to limit his strength on top of that, he would have a very hard time against her.
“That should be a fair match.”
Tianlan looked at Bai, who nodded. He reluctantly agreed.
The matriarch was standing there with a blank expression. Go easy? Am I not the senior? Why are juniors taking pity on me?
Fang Ren was frozen in place watching.
Tianlan turned to face the matriarch.
“Excuse me miss matriarch. Shall we continue?”
She could only nod.
This time she did not underestimate her opponent. She was using her full combat ability from the start.
Tianlan’s movements were noticeably slower but she still had to maintain full concentration to avoid his attacks which seemed to aim at all of her weaknesses.
Hei noticed something interesting.
“So this is spiritual perception? It looks like the matriarch knows where Tianlan is at all times.”
He was interested in this kind of thing as it would be the most helpful ability for him to gain.
Due to his mother’s teachings, he was reluctant to harm others, which led to his being injured by his half-siblings.
If he had a similar ability to what the matriarch was displaying, he would have been much too fast to have been hurt back then.
“Mm. This is an ability that a cultivator obtains when they enter the externalisation realm. They are able to sense their surroundings like never before, thus externalisation. When one enters the internalisation realm, they make internal representations of the external and also come to know themselves more. That is according to the books we have read.”
Hei agreed and resumed his observation of the sparring match.
Tianlan and the matriarch were exchanging blows evenly for a while, but Tianlan started to run out of mental energy.
It would be one thing if he was fighting at full strength, which requires less control, but he was currently holding back which was draining his mental energy at a faster rate.
Eventually, the matriarch gained the upper hand, but she wasn’t pleased with the result.
It shouldn’t have been this difficult to defeat a 12-year-old boy.
Hei realised Tianlan’s situation.
“Uh oh. Looks like Tianlan is running out of steam.”
Hearing this, Fang Ren was concerned.
“Should we stop the match?”
“Mm. We probably should.”
Hei was about to step forward to stop the match when he heard Bai’ voice.
“It’s too late.”
The matriarch could also see that Tianlan was growing tired.
Just as she was about to declare her own victory, Tianlan’s eyes shone brightly, and she felt a very uncomfortable tingling sensation all over her body.
“There he goes again.”
Tianlan heard this but he ignored it this time. His mental energy was running too low, so he had to end the fight quickly.
After activating his eyes, he was able to see in detail the circulation of Qi in the matriarch’s body. With that, he saw her weaknesses.
He promptly targeted one and landed a palm.
This palm was not meant to harm the matriarch but to throw her off balance.
Once he did that he immediately leapt forward and pierced her shoulder with a finger.
After taking this finger attack from Tianlan, the matriarch lost all of the strength in her body and slumped to the ground, unable to move for a while.
Fang Ren ran up to help the matriarch, who stared at Tianlan with fear in her eyes. He had targeted the precise location of her injury from all those years ago.
Seeing the matriarch’s reaction, Hei scolded Tianlan.
“You see, Big Brother? You creeped her out.”
“It’s not the time for jokes now brother.”
Seeing the serious expression on Tianlan’s face, Hei and Bai were interested.
“What is it?”
“She has an injury to her spirit roots.”
Hei turned to the matriarch.
“Is that true?”
The matriarch responded with a trembling voice.
“H-How did you know?”
“I can see it.”
“You can see spirit roots?”
“Vaguely, yes. Yours seems to be cracked in several places.”
The matriarch’s body twitched violently.
“Do you know a way to fix it?”
Hei couldn’t help interjecting.
“You are speaking to a 12-year-old.”
“Yes, that’s right.”
Realising this, the matriarch was dejected. This problem had been plaguing her for years, and she thought she had found a way to resolve it.
Seeing the matriarch’s disappointed face, Bai spoke up.
“Well, we may be able to do something.”
Tianlan was surprised.
“Hm? Do you know something?”
Didn’t they all share their knowledge? When did his sister gain medical skills?
“Our cultivation technique! To be precise. Given the way our cultivation technique works, it shows how an injury like this isn’t too much of an issue.”
“But we’re special cases.”
Tianlan had to add this point. The three were able to cultivate their method because they were gaining assistance from the heavens. At least that was the reason they came up with.
It would be a different matter if someone else were to try to cultivate it.
“I know that. But if we can apply the principals, we should be able to have her soul repair its own spirit root, we just have to manually re-forge it.”
Hei jumped in.
“Eh? You want to artificially produce a spirit root? How are we going to do that?”
Both Tianlan and Bai looked at Hei with sinister smiles on their faces.
“Oh no, don’t even think about it.”
Tianlan responded with an exaggerated tone.
“What do you mean, Onii-chan? You should help her.”
“Twitch Onii-chan your foot! And why would I do that?”
“Because she’s a lady.”
“So… She’s a lady…”
“I don’t see your point.”
Seeing a return of this conversation, Bai stepped in.
“Uh, we shouldn’t let nice people suffer, Brother.”
Tianlan took this chance to hammer the nail in.
“That’s right. The matriarch has been very nice to us! Besides, we agreed to help her get to the transcendent realm. How are we going to do that if her spirit roots are damaged?”
Hei then turned to the matriarch.
“So, will you discard your cultivation?”
The matriarch was still reluctant to go through with this drastic action.
Seeing the matriarch’s hesitation, Bai stepped in.
“It is not important for her to decide this right now, Brother. Either way, we’ll need to fix her spirit roots.”
Hei understood what Bai was saying.
He turned to the matriarch.
“OK. You can give me your decision when we fix your spirit roots.”
The matriarch was more comfortable with this arrangement. It would allow her time to think and make arrangements on her end to compensate for the time she would be weak, in the event that she went with Hei’s suggestion.
Hearing the matriarch’s agreement, Bai got to the main point.
“Miss matriarch, we’ll be taking our leave. Sister Ren, would you lead us to the cultivation hall?”
Fang Ren was snapped out of her shock by Bai’s words.
“Yes, I’ll lead you there right away.”
The matriarch adjusted her clothes and was about to see them out when the door to the hall opened.
A young girl ran in and hugged the matriarch.
“Mother, this is the boy I told you about. The one who saved me.”
Everyone looked towards the entrance to the hall.
There stood the boy Hei had noticed earlier.
‘This guy again. Saving the matriarch’s daughter… The main character aura is strong in this one.’