After hearing Hei’s words, Bai cheered up a little, as could be seen by the smile she had on her face.
Hei knew that it wouldn’t be so easy for her to move on from the way she was feeling right now, but he was confident that it was only a matter of time.
“Little Bai. I think you should apologise to Mei. You were a little mean back there.”
Hearing this, Bai puffed out her cheeks, then spoke in a low voice.
“Why should I apologise? It was her fault.”
Hei was lost for words for a moment. It was obviously Bai who started the conflict. He wondered how she saw it.
“Even if it was her fault, we’re all going to be family from now on. It’s better if we can get along.”
Bai didn’t respond, so Hei continued.
“I’m not asking you to start liking Mei all of a sudden. I just ask that we minimise conflicts. It is unproductive, after all.”
Bai understood this point, so she reluctantly agreed to apologise. She realised that she was the one who took issue with Mei and not the other way around.
Hei rubbed Bai’s head before standing.
“OK. I think it’s about time we head home.”
Instead of rushing home, Hei led Bai around the city on a long walk, just the two of them. He held her hand the entire way.
He wanted to let her know that he was still here for her and that the addition of Mei would not change that.
Bai realised what her brother was doing and happily walked with him.
When they returned to the bakery, Bai went and found Mei. Hei was behind her observing.
“I’m sorry for being rude earlier, please forgive me, Sister Mei.”
Mei was surprised to hear Bai’s apology. She looked to Hei who was behind her with a warm smile.
Hei had the feeling that she had misunderstood something, but he let it go.
Mei then spoke to Bai.
“No, you were right, Sister Bai. Your bread was far better than mine. Hei was just sparing my feelings.”
After the two had spoken these words to each other, there was an awkward silence before Bai took her leave.
After Bai left, Mei looked to Hei with warm eyes. Feeling uncomfortable, Hei avoided her gaze and also left.
Seeing this, Mei smiled. She decided that she would work hard in her baking so that one day, Hei would complement it earnestly as he had done for Bai.
Not knowing any of this, Hei headed to the room where Tianlan was going through his stances.
“Oh? A new technique?”
“N-no. I was just stretching…”
Tianlan didn’t want Hei knowing about the new technique he was working on, in fear that Hei would be able to use it against him.
He still remembered the last time he used Sonic Qi and Hei nullified it with his own Sonic Qi. Tianlan was caught off guard, which created the opening required for him to end up in chains.
It wasn’t the best of experiences having your own signature move used against you like that. So, he was developing a new technique in secret.
Bai was doing the same.
“Oh? Trying to keep it a secret? Well, bring it on! With Unlimited Chain Works, I’m invincible.”
Hei had still yet to learn his lesson about being too confident. Ever since he had learned Unlimited Chain Works, Bai and Tianlan weren’t able to do anything against him.
At first, he thought it was another bait-and-switch, but he really couldn’t see a scenario where Bai and Tianlan were able to defeat him at the same level of strength.
It wasn’t just Hei being overconfident. Even Bai and Tianlan were stumped. They had no idea how they could defeat Hei now that he had Unlimited Chain Works.
What’s worse, they were the ones who developed the technique for him.
One would assume that the creators of the technique would know its flaws and strengths inside and out.
But Hei had made several changes in his attempts to use techniques simultaneously and it had become something entirely unrecognisable from the original.
At this point, even if Bai and Tianlan tried to use Unlimited Chain Works themselves, it wouldn’t do them any good.
It would be like kittens messing with a lion. Really easy for thins to go wrong.
While Hei and Tianlan were talking, Bai and Mei also happened to enter the room.
Now that all four were gathered, Hei had a question to ask.
“Since you are our sister now, we need to establish the order. How old are you Mei?”
“If I’m not mistaken, I should be 8 years old.”
Tianlan stepped in.
“The same as Hei. What is your birthday?”
Mei thought for a while before responding.
“I’m not quite sure. I ended up in the forest the same day as I was born, so I was already away from any family.”
She paused for a moment before she continued.
“I do remember that the ground was shaking before I fell asleep.”
The others were surprised that Mei was able to remember as far back as the day she was born.
Tianlan and Hei ware further surprised though, because by Mei’s description…
“That is also the same as Hei. Where the two of you born on the same day? You really are soulmates.”
Tianlan found the situation amusing. He wondered if there was also a young lady born on the same day as him who happened to be his soulmate.
If there was, he would try to find her.
The only problem was, he had no idea where to begin.
He had even asked Hei for some advice, but all he got was, ‘If it’s meant to be, then the two of you will meet. That’s just how these things work’. Which wasn’t very helpful at all.
Hearing this, Hei spoke:
“So we all share the same birthday? What an interesting coincidence.”
Bai added on:
“I wonder if it is a requirement for Envoys of the Heavens to be born on that day.”
This was an interesting idea, but their current sample size was too small, so they couldn’t confirm it right now.
They would have time to dig deeper as they discovered more envoys. After all, the voice had said ‘four have gathered’ as opposed to ‘the four have gathered’. There was a slight difference between the two.
Of course, they could have just been reading too much into it. It was entirely possible that they were the only envoys.
With that settled, the three began teaching Mei their core technique.
Before she started practising it, Hei decided that it would be best to clarify the situation.
“Mei. By practising this technique, you are becoming a member of our Shao Clan. And by extension, you are becoming one of my most precious and one of my most trusted.”
This was Hei trying to make her feel welcome. After all, she had just found out that she was alone in this world. He wanted her to know that there was a place for her.
But there were also important matters to discuss.
“However, my Shao Clan does not have mercy for traitors. You are the first outsider to join as a family member and as such the first who is subject to these consequences.”
He sharpened his eyes as he continued.
“Even if you are the other Hei’s little wife, you won’t do well to betray us. You will become our enemy, and you know what happens to the enemies of my Shao Clan.”
Saying these words, there was a violent reaction from the other soul, but Hei forcefully resisted it. It was very important to make these things clear.
The only ones who he would allow to betray him and get away with it were Shao Chen, Xiulan, Tianlan and Bai, because they had no choice in being part of his Shao Clan, and they would get dragged into any of the messes he may create.
Anyone else would suffer severe consequences, and depending on the offence…
Seeing the cold look in Hei’s eyes, Mei was startled. She didn’t expect him to be this serious.
In all the time she had known him, she hadn’t seen this side of him, which was both frightening and comforting.
It was frightening because she could imagine the consequences. She still remembered the way Hei had chased her through the forest and the fear she felt as she realised that she couldn’t escape.
And that was with Hei just messing around. He even called her ‘friend’ immediately afterwards. As a result, she wouldn’t want to see him serious.
On the other hand, she knew that as soon as she joined the Shao Clan, the very same frightening Hei would become her most reliable support and that his blade would be pointed at her enemies instead.
There was something about the idea of Hei becoming angry on her behalf that made her feel warm and fuzzy.
This, combined with the special bond she shared with him, made it easy for her to decide. Besides, in what situation would she betray the one she loved?
This was that her immature mind was thinking as she made her choice.
She spoke with a warm smile:
“Of course, I want to join the Shao Clan.”
Her smile made Hei uncomfortable, so he hurriedly continued.
“OK. These are the first four layers of the Way of Essence. Our Shao Clan’s core inheritance. Practice it well, and soon enough you will be able to join us in our sparring practice.”
Mei happily started her practice of the Way of Essence.
Because of the way the technique was developed, One could immediately move to the next layer after learning the current one, so Mei was already a transcendent realm cultivator within the hour.
It was just that her strength was far less than other transcendent realm cultivators, simply due to a lack of accumulation.
Bai had been curious to see how their technique would work for someone who hadn’t been practising it layer by layer as they had.
The results were within expectations.
Mei’s mental energy stores would deplete in seconds, and she would have to wait a long time before she could resume her cultivation.
But in exchange, her rate of growth was extremely fast. What would have taken Tianlan and Bai an entire month during the early days, was only taking a few hours for Mei.
In no time at all, she had already reached strength equivalent to the initial stage of the internalisation realm.
It had to be known that even before beginning her cultivation, she was a high tiered spirit beast, that was already at the peak of the externalisation realm in terms of battle strength.
Adding the Way of Essence on top of her natural gifts allowed her to soar into the heavens.
At this rate, it would only be a matter of months until she caught up with Bai and Tianlan.
Hei had a sinking feeling as he noticed this.
Bai and Tianlan were also smiling as they patter their new sister’s shoulders. No trace of the resentment Bai had felt before could be seen as she was already formulating strategies.
Seeing this, Hei’s bad feeling became worse.
He decided to go out into the back and practice his Unlimited Chain Works. He felt that he would need it very soon.
A few months passed by and Mei was already used to living in her new home.
She would spend most of her time in spirit beast form because Hei had requested that she do so.
The bond between them would become significantly less noticeable while she was in spirit beast form, which allowed Hei to feel more comfortable.
For Mei though, it was a sacrifice she was making so that Hei could have his way. She quite enjoyed the feelings she had when she was in human form.
After long years of being isolated in the Spring Leaf Forest, she was finally able to know family and love.
While the spirit beasts in the forest did treat her with respect, they were also distant. So, she really quite enjoyed just being one of the family.
Also, she took her baking training very seriously. She even took it to the point where she would find Xiulan and ask for guidance even outside of the sessions.
Hei, Tianlan and Bai all found this incomprehensible.
They had become used to the baking training, and actually looked forward to it every day, but they were fine with just the mandatory sessions.
To bake even more after that? What was Mei thinking?
They soon had reason to resent Mei. And that was because Xiulan had taken a liking to this new daughter-in-law of hers.
She had started scolding Hei for not being as determined as his wife. And Tianlan and Bai got speeches about how they should be more like their sister-in-law.
Shao Chen just watched as the days went by.
Not only was he passively completing his agreement with the eastern guardian, but he was also raising his best friend’s daughter, hands-free.
Coming to the lower eastern continent was the best decision of his life. Or, at least that was the way he saw it.
On one particular day, Hei noticed that Mei’s strength was adequate to join in on the sparring matches.
“It looks like you’re ready to start sparring with us now, Mei.”
Hei looked to his siblings, who nodded in agreement.
“It’s been a while since we’ve been to the Fang Clan. Why don’t we go over and take a look?”