After the sparring match, the four decided to head over to the matriarch’s residence.
As they walked through the Fang Clan, they could feel a sort of tense mood, much different from what they had expected.
Hei commented on this.
“Don’t the juniors seem a little serious? Shouldn’t they be relaxing, knowing that they are going to perform spectacularly at the 5-sect summit?”
“I also find it strange. We’ll have to ask the matriarch.”
With that, the four continued on their way, and soon reached the matriarch’s residence. Where the doorman guided them straight to the reception hall as usual.
They didn’t have to wait long before the matriarch appeared.
Hei greeted her.
“It’s been a while Miss Matriarch.”
The matriarch seemed to have something on her mind, but Hei focused on what he cared about.
“Where are you at with your cultivation now?”
“I have reached the sixth layer.”
“Oh? That’s pretty good.”
Hei decided to go ahead and ask the matriarch what was wrong.
“What’s up with the mood in the Fang Clan? Shouldn’t everyone be happy right now?”
“Wu Dong broke through to the transcendent realm.”
Hei wasn’t sure why the matriarch would consider this a problem. Even if he had broken through, she was already far ahead, in the sixth layer.
Mei didn’t know who Wu Dong was nor of the relationship between the Shao Clan and the Wu Clan. The three didn’t see it as any kind of issue. Instead, it was just a side quest, an adornment to the upcoming 5-sect summit if you will.
“To explain why it’s a problem, I’ll have to go back a few months.”
The matriarch waited for a response, and when she received none, she continued.
“A few months ago, a young mistress of the Merchant Guild came to me and asked for my assistance in obtaining a certain spirit beast.”
She looked at the three, and the new member she wasn’t familiar with.
Seeing the matriarch looking at Mei, Hei introduced her.
“This is our new sister who we found in the forest, Shao Mei. Funny coincidence huh?”
The matriarch was shocked. She could feel that Mei was no weaker than she was, if not stronger. What was this Shao Clan that they could take someone from the streets and raise them to the point where they could do as they pleased in Spring Leaf City?
She decided to continue her explanation.
“The young mistress offered to give the Fang Clan plentiful resources from the upper continent in exchange for the spirit beast.”
“Oh? So, what did you do?”
“She said the spirit beast was in the hands of three children from the Shao Bakery, who had been seen in the Fang Clan…”
Hei smiled in response to the matriarch’s words.
“Hehe. We didn’t hear anything about this.”
It was obvious that the young mistress was the same troublesome girl who wanted to purchase Mei from them, and that the three children were Hei, Bai and Tianlan.
The matriarch also smiled in response to Hei.
“Of course, you didn’t. I turned her down.”
“Oh? But wasn’t this a great opportunity for the Fang Clan? Why would you reject it?”
The matriarch’s expression became resigned as she responded:
“Would I be able to take anything from you?”
“You could have asked. Maybe we would have agreed, given our relationship.”
After hearing these words, Mei felt betrayed. She pulled on Hei’s arm to express her discontentment.
Hei ignored Mei as he continued to look at the matriarch who responded.
“I’m not a fool. If you brought a spirit beast out of the forest, then it was likely the fox you were looking for.”
After saying these words, the matriarch remembered what Hei had said about Mei being found in the forest.
She soon erased the thought from her mind. It was too crazy, wasn’t it? She had heard that any spirit beast that could transform into a human form could destroy a small city like this one in an instant.
What would one be doing in the Spring Leaf Forest, and why would it join the Shao Clan?
Hearing the matriarch’s words, Hei was quite pleased. It seemed she knew her place. He had made it obvious that the fox held more value to him than her daughter, so asking for the fox would be kind of…
“Then what about the Fang Clan? They lost a great chance. You could have entered a good relationship with the Merchant Guild and made a better future for your clan.”
The matriarch chuckled at Hei’s response.
“When did we lose a great chance?”
She still remembered Hei’s words from long ago:
[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.]
She still had no idea why she believed him, but she did.
Hei smiled in response to the matriarch’s words.
“Knowing the type of person that girl is, she probably didn’t let you off so easy. What did she do in retaliation?”
The matriarch’s expression dimmed.
“She gave the resources to the Wu Clan. They must have made some kind of agreement, and soon after, Wu Dong broke through to the transcendent realm. The Wu Clan are now experiencing rapid growth.”
“Oh? Did she also give them new techniques?”
Even if the Wu Clan had resources, the Fang Clan’s techniques had been raised up a notch. It would be hard to compete with them through cultivation alone.
“No. But the Wu Clan is focusing heavily on a few of their juniors. Even without profound techniques, their cultivations will eventually surpass those of our juniors. One mustn’t underestimate the quality of the resources from the upper continent.”
Hei was surprised that the matriarch had such detailed information.
“How do you know all of this? Do you have spies in the Wu Clan?”
“Have any of them been discovered in the past few months?”
The matriarch was surprised at Hei’s perceptiveness. It was only recently that some of their spies had been discovered.
Hearing the matriarch’s response, Hei, Bai, and Tianlan looked at each other.
They had been wondering why the Wu Clan had still not taken any action, even after all this time.
It seemed that their act had become a reality, and the Wu Clan was too busy conducting internal cleaning to bother with them. Not that the Wu Clan’s retaliation was of any concern.
Hei then turned to the matriarch.
“So, what are you going to do now?”
“We can only try our best to train our juniors in the remaining time until the 5-sect summit.”
“What would you have us do?”
Hei was testing the matriarch.
She thought for a while before responding.
“Acting as the childish sages is more than enough.”
“Oh? Are you sure? We could do much more than that.”
Hei was laying the bait. If the matriarch asked for more than she deserved, he would have to rethink her position in the Shao Clan.
The matriarch seemed to be conflicted, but she had resolved herself.
“No. My Fang Clan has benefited greatly from your assistance already. And we have not given you much in return.”
Hei spoke privately with the matriarch after hearing her words.
“Even letting yourself become my maid is still not much?”
The matriarch nodded her head in response.
Hei was shocked. Was this the same woman who became enraged when he had brought up the offer?
In the end, he smiled. He did not dislike this kind of response. But he would have to work on her self-worth. He couldn’t have his maid value herself so low.
Hei returned to normal speech.
“Interesting. We actually have some spare baking ingredients. I wonder if you would be interested in them.”
The matriarch was confused by Hei’s words. What would she do with baking ingredients?
“Mm. We ended up harvesting far more than we need.”
The matriarch didn’t know how to respond.
Hei opened his storage space, and from it, came a giant ball of chains.
He placed the ball in the middle of the room and retracted his chains, leaving a mountain of natural treasures. These treasures were still from the lower continent, but they were not the common variety that could be found easily.
Their quality would not lose out to the common resources of the upper continent.
Hei was happy to donate these things which were taking up a large section of his storage space.
After trying some of the treasures, the three discovered that their own cultivation was faster than absorbing the Qi from the cultivation resources, so they were now only useful as baking ingredients.
They were currently in a place chocked full of null element Qi, so their cultivation wasn’t hindered in the slightest.
It wouldn’t be until they entered a so-called cultivation holy land, that they would need to supplement their cultivation with external resources.
So, it would be mutually beneficial for both parties to give them to the matriarch.
Seeing the various glows and sparkling radiances of the natural treasures, the matriarch’s eyes opened wide.
“S-spare baking ingredients?”
She couldn’t even see the four from where she was because the pile of resources was too big. She had to activate her spiritual awareness.
“Mm. You can make some good bread out of them. Or you can feed them to the juniors if you’re feeling wasteful.”
Hei spoke these words like he really believed them. And part of him did.
Living with Xiulan and Shao Chen long enough would have that effect on people. Bai and Tianlan were the same.
Mei was even more influenced by Xiulan.
As her daughter in law, who was trying to prove herself, she felt that it was a terrible waste to give these ingredients to the Fang Clan.
How much would her baking improve if she were to practice using these ingredients?
She turned to Hei with a pouting face, but Hei avoided looking at her. He knew that the other soul would trouble him, so he avoided looking at Mei when she was in human form.
Seeing this, she could only give up.
The matriarch, on the other hand, was still in shock looking at the treasures.
She could see that it wasn’t individually picked resources, but instead was the source along with the useful components.
This meant that the Fang Clan would be able to use them for a steady supply of resources.
This was a tremendous help. So much so, that she couldn’t accept.
“This is too much.”
“Consider it a gift, for one of my people.”
“No buts. I told you that the things my people hold dear will not be neglected by us.”
‘Well, except for your daughter, but that’s her own fault.’
The matriarch was deeply moved by Hei’s words, and he could see it.
He decided to strike while the iron was hot.
“Not only will I be giving you these resources, but in addition to the daily sessions, we will be conducting open lectures for anyone who wants to attend. There, we will help with some of the common problems we have seen in the juniors. You can set them up how you like.”
Hei stood up and started walking to the exit.
“You can have the list of juniors sent to the office. Let’s let the Fang Clan be joyous from now on.”
Before the matriarch could respond, he took his siblings and disappeared from the room.
He liked to do these over-the-top exits because he thought it looked cool.
And just like that, the matriarch was left alone in a room full of the future of the Fang Clan.