Hearing Hei’s words, Xiulan was touched.
“Little Hei… The Wu Clan is strong.”
Seeing that Xiulan was concerned about him, even with what she was going through, Hei was also touched.
“Ah. I’m also not stupid Mumu. I won’t do anything until I can shoulder the consequences.”
“Hehe. You say it all the time so let me say it this time. Don’t worry about it, Mumu.”
“Now, let’s stop crying. You wouldn’t want Tianlan to see you like this would you?”
“This… No. He lacks your self-control. I’m afraid of what he would do.”
Hei said this while wiping off Xiulan’s tears.
Xiulan stood up and the two left the bathroom.
Xiulan had a towel wrapped around her head. Evidently, she had bathed herself while she was in there.
“So, what have you learned over these few months?”
“Not much actually. I understand the situation in Spring Leaf City and the Spring Leaf Forest it was named after, but beyond that, there was not much information.”
“And something strange is, there seem to be things that have been purposefully omitted. I feel like someone has blocked the information from spreading.”
“Ah, even I know that much. It’s because we’re in the lower continent. Those in the upper continent prevent certain resources and information from entering the lower continent. My father had told me that some of the experts who had entered the upper continent from the lower continent had tried to bring back resources to their sects and clans, but they were stopped by the five factions.”
“Oh? What are these five factions?”
Hei was interested. A case where people prevented the spread of information.
“They rule over the upper continent as competing powers. My father told me there is another power even above them who holds all of the real power.”
“I see. So why do they prevent the spreading of resources and information?”
“Because they do not want strong powers rising up in the lower continent.”
“Eh? But aren’t the resources better in the upper continent? If they started to feel threatened, couldn’t they just suppress them?”
“No. They cannot. The eastern guardian does not allow cultivators born in the upper continent to exist in the lower continent if their cultivation has reached a certain level. The lower continent already has experts above this level, so it would be suicide for the five factions to attempt anything.”
“Eh? There is a protector?”
“That’s what my father told me. He said that there were cultivators who tried to sneak in by suppressing their cultivations, but as soon as they released their strength, they would spontaneously combust. Not even ashes would remain.”
“Eh? Then what about cultivators entering the upper continent from the lower continent? Is there a restriction on them too?”
“No, there is none. The eastern guardian only protects the lower continent from the upper continent. It also protects the eastern continent as a whole against outsiders.”
“Interesting. How does your father know all this?”
“This… I am not quite sure myself. This information comes from stories he would tell me when I was younger.”
“You now also know why they prevent resources and information from entering the lower continent. Imagine if a new five factions were to form in the lower continent. There would no doubt be a conflict for dominance.”
Now knowing that he wasn’t wrong in the matter, Hei felt relieved. If the information was being blocked, he would have to make his way to the upper continent.
It’s just… How was he supposed to do that?
‘Ah, good fortune will come. No need to be anxious about it.’
Hei remembered his requests to Crystalia. Then he had a thought.
‘Hm, so far there hasn’t been any good fortune that I could discern. In fact, I could say there was misfortune.’
Hei was starting to grow more anxious.
‘Don’t tell me I’m a perma-trash. No way right? I mean Crystalia can’t be that unreliable…’
Knowing that negativity would only slow him down, Hei decided to look at the positives.
‘Tianlan is in no way trash tier. Just those eyes alone make him MC status.’
That was right. As long as he had capable subordinates, things would be OK.
Hei went back to his reading and Xiulan went back to her usual spot.
Every now and then Hei would check on her to make sure she was OK. He didn’t see any significant change from her usual aura which left him relieved.
A few months passed and Hei had noticed something different about Xiulan.
“This… Mumu… Are you with child?”
The inheritance ceremonies didn’t stop just because Hei could now eat solid food, nor did Xiulan care that he was a grown man from another world. She insisted that it continue until he was two years old.
During this time, he started to notice her protrusion.
‘Ah, I feel bad for this new sibling. Prepare for one strange mother and a creepy brother.’
Funilly enough Hei did not include himself in the things this new sibling would experience. He was potentially the most strange of the bunch.
“Are you happy about this?”
“There is neither joy nor sorrow.”
“… I see. But you’ll have to take care of two children then. And this other one will be needier than I am.”
“I’m sure that as the kind big brother and dutiful son you are, you will take good care of your new sibling.”
Xiulan said this with a smile.
“This… You’re pushing it onto me?”
“It’s not pushing. It’s allowing you to have the experience. As someone who has raised two children myself, I can tell you that you will learn a lot about yourself that you didn’t know.”
“Why do you make it sound so reasonable?”
‘Who did you raise? Is raising a child just feeding them and looking out the window? And Tianlan said you didn’t notice him until he was two years old. Raised what?’
“Sigh. I guess there’s no choice.”
“That’s the spirit!”
They both laughed, but Hei’s was more like crying.
‘Hm, that reminds me. When I was born there were a lot of people there. I may have a chance to see this patriarch with my own eyes. Let’s see what kind of person this is.’
Hei was more interested in this than the birth of his new sibling. He would have to study his enemy in order to have the maximum effect when he launched the assault.
For the next few months, Hei watched as Xiulan grew bigger and bigger.
He had requested the maid to bring him books on childcare.
The maid was surprised to hear this request but she fulfilled it none the less.
Hei spent a lot of his time looking up the information brought by the maid and was starting to grow confident in his ability to make sure his new sibling had a good upbringing. Or at least they wouldn’t turn out too strange…
As it approached his birthday he had a thought.
‘What if this new sibling was born on the same day as Tianlan and me?’
It would be an interesting coincidence, to say the least.
‘Wait! If that were to happen there would be no birthday banquet. O, new sibling of mine. Please wait until after my birthday to be born.’
Hei was not fond of the idea of missing out on the birthday banquet. It was the best meal he had had here so far, and he wanted to experience it again.
As if to mock his wishes, Hei’s birthday present seemed to involve Xiulan going into labour.
‘Ssss. You could have chosen any other day. Why today? If you had been born yesterday, I would have at least been prepared to miss the birthday banquet. But no. Just as I had gotten excited about it, you decided to show up.’
Hei was sitting outside of the delivery room, Tianlan by his side.
“Do you think it will be a boy or a girl?”
“Does it even matter? Either way, there’s going to be no bread.”
Hei answered in a grumbling tone.
“Haha, you’re starting to sound like Mother.”
“This… What about you? Which do you think it will be?”
“Hm. I think it will be a girl.”
“There are already two boys, so probabilistically speaking, there is a higher chance for it to be a girl.”
“I see. But what would you rather have? A new little brother or a new little sister?”
Tianlan looked at Hei and thought for a moment before responding with a disgusted face.
“I don’t want another ugly little brother.”
“You. Well, I don’t want a creepy little brother.”
“Krch. Take it back, I’m not creepy.”
“Eh? You take it back, I’m not ugly.”
“Krch. Ugly is ugly. Mother told me to be honest in everything, especially in baking.”
“And you think creepy isn’t creepy? Why should I be the one who has to lie?”
The brothers stared at each other with confrontational expressions.
After a while, they both realised that they would not be able to convince the other, so they moved on.
“So we both want a little sister?”
“Sounds about right.”
With that, the boys waited for the confirmation.
After a while Hei noticed something.
“Where is everybody? There were a lot of people there when I was born.”
Tianlan responded with a slightly angry voice.
“They didn’t want to waste their time witnessing the birth of another trash.”
“Mm. I heard the aunts discussing it.”
“I see. Well this doesn’t matter to us, does it? Are we even part of the Wu Clan?”
“What do you mean? Obviously, we’re part of the Wu Clan.”
“Oh? Then let me ask you. When have they treated you like family?”
Tianlan had difficulty answering. After some thought he added on:
“It’s true. Even when they thought I was a rare talent, I never felt like family. It was more like I was useful to them so they treated me well.”
“That’s what I’m talking about. Tell you what. After we gain enough strength, we’ll take Mumu and leave the Wu Clan, breaking all ties. We’ll become a new clan with our own rules.”
“This… How are we going to gain strength?”
“Beseech the heavens.”
“Uh… Never mind. We’ll find a way.”
The two boys sat and discussed several things about martial arts training and the Spring Leaf City. They both wanted to go to the Spring Leaf Forest one day.
Hei had told Tianlan about several things from Earth, which Tianlan was intrigued by.
After a long time, the door to the delivery room opened, and the doctor exited.
He didn’t even say anything to the two boys who had been waiting all day.
“This clan is just fantastic, isn’t it Onii-chan?”
“No. I’m younger than you, you don’t call me Onii.”
“But weren’t you twenty-two?”
“This… But it feels strange.”
They both laughed before entering the room.
There they saw Xiulan holding a little baby.
Both boys stopped for a moment when they saw her.
‘Eh? The same aura as Tianlan! What kind of children does Mumu make?’
Hei didn’t notice that Tianlan was staring at the baby the same way he was.
After a short moment, the two boys proceeded towards the bed, every now and then they would look at the baby, and then each other.
As they reached the bed Xiulan spoke.
“Say hello to your little sister.”
The boys both looked at each other and smiled.
“Mm. Then she won’t be ugly.”
“Mm. Then she won’t be creepy.”
The boys both said this at the same time.
All three, Hei, Tianlan and Xiulan started laughing.
But then the boys noticed something.
“Uh… She’s staring at us…”
“Mm. And she isn’t the most adorable thing in the world either….”
The boys looked at each other awkwardly.
“You cursed our little sister!”
“You cursed our little sister!”
After a short moment, Hei remembered something his mother taught him, and also his own experience as a newborn baby.
“No, wait. My mother told me that a lot of babies are born with old-man features. Apparently, they get better looking after a few months.”
“Mm. Also, they can’t control their heads. I know this from personal experience.”
“Right. So there’s still hope.”
“That there is.”
The boys both turned back to their new little sister.
“So, what’s her name?”
Hei asked Xiulan.
“Why don’t you choose it?”
Xiulan said with a smile. To which Hei quickly responded:
“Eh? Why would it be me? If anyone, shouldn’t it be Tianlan?”
“Eh? N-No, I’ll give this one to you Onii-chan.”
“Onii-chan your foot! How am I supposed to choose a child’s name?”
“Don’t worry about it, Little Hei. I’m sure you’ll be able to choose a good name.”
“This… Who chose Tianlan’s name?”
“That was my father”
“He named Tianlan after the colour of his eyes?”
“And I was named after the colour of my skin?”
“That’s what I would assume.”
“Don’t regret it then.”
Xiulan reassured Hei.
“If that’s the case, since she is a girl and she doesn’t have an Innate Shadow Physique, she is the opposite of me.”
Hei turned to look at his little sister.
“Since I am Hei, then she shall be Bai.”
Both Xiulan and Tianlan had blank expressions.
Tianlan wanted to say something, but Xiulan interrupted.
“It seems she likes it.”
The boys turned to their little sister. She had her little arms out in Hei’s direction. She seemed like she wanted to get closer.
“This… It looks like she likes you, Brother.”
“I see… Wait! Hahaha. Look at that, Brother. She likes me. She is avoiding you. Do you know why? Because I’m not ugly, and you are creepy. Hahaha.”
Hei was overjoyed to have one up on Tianlan. He didn’t stop to realise that he was competing with a seven-year-old.
“You! Little Bai, isn’t big brother Tianlan better than Hei?”
Tianlan tried to lure Bai towards himself, but she continued to look towards Hei.
“Hahaha. It’s no use, Brother. Our sister has decided. I am the victor.”
“This! It’s not over.”
Laughter was filling this room that others disdained to visit.
“Would you like to hold her?”
Xiulan asked Hei.
“This… What if I drop her?”
“Come onto the bed.”
Hei climbed onto the bed, and Xiulan signalled him to sit on her lap.
She then passed Bai to Hei who held her carefully.
‘Ugh. Too much light.’
When they were this close, Hei’s vision was impacted by the glow surrounding Bai.
Bai, on the other hand, seemed to be very comfortable. She even closed her eyes and fell asleep.
“Eh? Is this normal?”
Tianlan and Xiulan were silent.
“This. You don’t know?”
Hei was also in the dark here. The books he read had mentioned that newborn babies tended to sleep for the majority of the day, but none had mentioned whether sleeping soon after birth was normal.
He himself didn’t know, because he never got tired.
Hei decided to pass Bai back to Xiulan.
“… Then I guess there’s nothing more to see here.”
Hei said with his hands behind his head.
“Mm. Then I’ll get back to my training. Mother.”
Tianlan said before leaving.
“So… How long are you going to be in care here?”
“What do you mean?”
“The medical checks and whatnot.”
“There is no such thing.”
Xiulan said this while getting out of the bed.
“Come. Let’s go.”
Hei was going to say something, but he remembered a similar situation on the day he was born. Apparently, there was no postnatal care here.
The three, Hei, Xiulan and Bai who was being held by Xiulan went back to their room.
As they got close to the room, Hei noticed the maid standing outside the door. She was holding a basket in her hands.
“Welcome back Lady Xiulan. I have brought some clothes for the new baby.”
‘Eh? How come I had to be naked for a day, but Little Bai gets clothes immediately?’
Hei was a little indignant. Wasn’t his birth a bigger event? Weren’t there many people there to witness it? Yet he didn’t get any clothes.
This little sister of his, who only had her own family got clothes straight away.
‘Sigh. Whatever. It’s not a big deal anyway.’
Hei was more interested to find out what the relationship between this maid and Xiulan was.
He remembered that the maid was always respectful and never looked at him in an odd way.
Xiulan opened the door and everyone entered the room.
Xiulan placed Bai on the bed before taking the basket from the maid.
“Then I will see you tomorrow, Lady Xiulan.”
Hei watched as the maid bowed and left the room.
“Mumu. Who is that girl?”
“Oh, her? She says my father helped her family. I don’t know the details, but she followed us to the Wu Clan and has been serving as my personal maid.”
‘Not only does this Grandpa bake incredible bread, he knows a lot about the world and helps families on the side. I wonder what kind of person he is.’
Xiulan then placed a cloth on Bai before clothing her. After which she went to her usual spot, leaving Bai alone.
Hei decided to continue his reading, Bai should be sleeping for a while.
After about an hour, Hei heard shuffling sounds from the bed.
He decided to take a look and what he saw made him jump in fright.
Xiulan had left Bai close to the edge of the bed, and she was looking at him, reaching her hands out over the edge.
‘Ah! You’re going to fall.’
Hei ran over and put Bai back on the bed properly.
He didn’t consider this when it was himself, but this bed was not safe for a baby at all. It was very easy to fall off.
Hei looked at Xiulan who was staring out the window and sighed.
He turned back to Bai who had her arms outstretched towards him.
“This… Then you can come with me.”
Hei realised that she couldn’t fall if she was on the floor, so he picked her up and took her to the books with him.
He sat cross-legged and placed Bai on his legs, he then proceeded to read his books.
‘Ugh. not the best of reading experiences.’
Hei’s reading was made more difficult by the glow that Bai was emitting.
Bai seemed to be comfortable though, as she did not move much.
Every now and then she would tilt forward ready to fall over, but Hei picked her back up and from time to time, Xiulan would take Bai for feeding. There would also be the occasional messy situation, that Xiulan also handled.
The time came for bathing.
Hei decided to let the women bathe on their own. He would go after.
After Hei had reached two years of age, Xiulan gave him more freedom, so he could bathe on his own now and only ate bread, like Xiulan.
After bathing, the three went to sleep.
The next day, as Hei was reading, he remembered how Xiulan would talk to him every now and then, so he started to read out loud in hopes that it would be of help to Bai.
At some point, Bai started crawling around, following Hei as he did his training. Hei decided to slow down and allow Bai to follow after him.
After around three months, Hei noticed that Bai was starting to speak. It was baby nonsense, but it wasn’t too different to how he was when he was younger.
‘Hm… Are you also someone from another world?’
From the books he read on child rearing, Hei knew that it wasn’t too strange for babies to start saying words like ‘mama’ and ‘dada’ when they were around three months old, but Bai was not saying such simple things.
From what he understood, she was speaking in sentences already.
Hei decided to monitor her further.
After a few more months Bai was repeating the words he would read out loud. They were slurred, but her ability to say them was quite shocking.
‘This… Are you really from another world?’
By the time she was nine months old, Bai was even able to read some of the words on her own.
‘Eh? Where am I right now? Is this normal? This can’t be normal, right?’
She also started to walk at this point, but that didn’t shock Hei. According to the books he read, nine months was a very normal age to start walking.
It was just that she didn’t really fall over, as a lot of babies would. She was pretty stable right from the start.
‘I guess we should get her some books to read.’
Hei decided to ask the maid to bring some children’s books for Bai to read.
After a few weeks of reading the children’s books, Bai had no interest in them. She would come over to Hei and pick up one of his books.
Seeing a little baby reading a thick book like this caused Hei a great deal of shock.
After a few months of this, Hei had to ask.
“Do you even know what it says?”
Bai looked at Hei with a questioning look.
‘Phew. It looks like she’s just playing around.’
“Mm. It’s talking about spirit roots. I’m wondering how the spirits of those without spirit roots stay in their bodies.”
Hei was shocked. He stared wide-eyed at Bai who had just expressed the same thought he had had when he was reading those books.
“You also don’t know, Brother?”
“This… I was wondering about it myself. These books don’t go into detail about it.”
“I see. That’s a shame.”
Bai had a disappointed face and turned back to her book.
‘… Candidate number two? What kind of children does Mumu have?’
Hei was shocked to his core, but he was also quite pleased with the situation. He had just found another candidate for world’s strongest.
‘It looks like good fortune really is falling out of the sky.’
Hei felt bad for doubting Crystalia the way he had. Just because he couldn’t see the effects of the abilities, it did not mean they weren’t functioning properly.
The time came for Bai’s first birthday, which meant Hei’s third birthday and Tianlan’s eighth birthday.
“Mother I have come.”
“Come in, Tianlan.”
The door opened and there Tianlan was.
As he closed the door and turned to the three, he heard a young girl’s voice.
“Is this big brother Tianlan?”
“What’s wrong with his eyes?”
“Pft. Hahaha. You see, Brother? Even Little Bai thinks your eyes are creepy.”
Hei was overjoyed to have a teammate against this brother who always called him ugly. He hugged Bai with one arm while laughing.
“You! Little Bai. Isn’t brother Hei ugly. You agree don’t you?”
“This… He is odd looking, but to call him ugly. I would need to see more people like him.”
“Little Bai… After all the time we spent together.”
Hei was reliving something unpleasant. The same thing happened last year.
Why couldn’t the women in his life just say he wasn’t ugly?
“Hm? Does the time we spent together change your appearance?”
“Hahaha. Look at that Onii-chan. You are ugly after all.”
“You! Onii-chan your left knee! I’m not ugly!”
“And I’m not creepy!”
“… Why are the two of you behaving like little children?”
Bai seemed to have had enough of her brother’s antics.
The two boys both looked at Bai with odd expressions.
“But… We are little children… And so are you.”
“That… That is also true, but do you have to behave this way?”
“Kind of… Yeah.”
Hei responded to his little sister’s question. There was just something about being called ugly by Tianlan that didn’t sit well with him.
Everyone started laughing.
“Okay, It’s about time to begin the banquet. Everyone, prepare yourselves.”
“Hehe. I’ve been waiting all year for this.”
Tianlan was excited.
“Heh. Just one year? I’ve been waiting for two.”
Hei was also excited.
“What is this banquet?”
“Oh, it’s how we celebrate the birthday of the youngest.”
Tianlan responded to Bai’s question.
“Oh? What does it involve?”
“Uh-uh. They didn’t tell me anything about it until it started. No cheating.”
“Alright. It’s time to begin.”
Xiulan said this as she placed the basket in the middle of the four of them.
She opened the basket and she, Tianlan and Hei all went for the bread immediately. They each placed a piece in their mouths before going for more.
“You better hurry up, Little Bai. There is no mercy at the birthday banquet.”
Hei said this as he went to place another piece of bread in his mouth. Tianlan and Xiulan were doing the same.
“W-Wait. I’m the smallest, shouldn’t you go easy on me?”
Bai said this as she went for the bread. After taking a piece, she went for another before she heard Hei shout:
“Slow your role there Little Bai. You have to have a piece of bread in your mouth before you can take another.”
“That’s right. No cheating!”
Bai was flustered and returned her hand back to the first piece of bread she had taken.
“What kind of obscure rule is that?”
Bai said this as she frantically placed the bread into her mouth. She then went for more.
After a few minutes, the basket was empty.
“Hehe, there was more this year.”
Hei said as he was rubbing his stomach.
“Mm. Father bakes enough for everyone.”
“Why do I feel like Hei got more?”
Tianlan was a little indignant. He didn’t eat quite as much bread this time.
“That’s because you didn’t want it enough, Brother. I have been honing this skill for two years, while you wasted your time learning martial arts.”
“At least I’m doing something, unlike you who is just sitting around waiting for things to solve themselves.”
Tianlan was angry about Hei belittling his efforts. He was earnestly working hard so that their mother could live freely.
“Hey. I’ll have you know, I’ve been pouring all of my knowledge into our genius little sister. Do you know she can read books?”
Tianlan turned to Bai who gave him a confused look.
“Is it strange?”
“You… Are you from another world too?”
“Eh? What are you talking about?”
Bai was confused by Tianlan’s out of the blue question.
“Hei is from another world.”
Bai turned to Hei.
“Another world? What does that mean?”
“It means I have lived another life in a world that’s not this one. I am currently here due to some circumstances beyond my control.”
Bai was doubtful. She looked to Tianlan and Xiulan.
“The both of you believe this?”
Bai was even more doubtful.
“What reason do you have to believe this?”
“Eh? Because he was able to talk to us when he was one… year… old…”
Xiulan and Tianlan both looked at Hei doubtfully.
“Brother Hei. If that’s your reason then how do you explain me, who isn’t from another world? I am also able to speak as a one-year-old.”
Bai decided to voice her doubt. Surely that wasn’t a good enough reason.
“This… That’s because you’re a freakish genius. Not everyone can do that!”
“I don’t see your point, Brother.”
Hei didn’t really know how to explain himself. How was he supposed to convince her that he wasn’t spewing nonsense?
“Yes! The reason you are able to speak is that we would read together. I never had anyone to read with. In fact, I didn’t have any books in the first year.”
“Hm… Is that true?”
Bai turned to Xiulan who responded with a nod.
“I guess… Unless. Did you speak to him a lot?”
Bai asked Xiulan.
“This… I did.”
“Now wait a minute. That doesn’t count. I couldn’t learn to articulate myself just from the things Mumu would say to me every now and then. Be reasonable.”
“That is unless you are even more of a freakish genius.”
Tianlan stepped in.
Hei could feel that he was losing ground here. How could he explain himself? Anything he said could be taken as him having imagined things.
“I suppose you’ll only believe me once I have gone.”
“Gone? Gone where?”
Bai was confused.
“When I go back home.”
“To this other world?”
“Yes. I only revealed this so the family wouldn’t be shocked when it happened. Whether you believe me or not isn’t that important.”
“…OK… But I don’t believe it.”
“That’s just fine.”
Hei couldn’t say anything else. He already felt that he had done what he could to lessen the blow.
The day had turned to night by the time the celebration was over.
“Then, I’ll be taking my leave. Mother…”
Tianlan was just about to head out when he froze in place.
Hei noticed that Tianlan was staring at him.
“What is it now? Why do you have to be creepy even when you’re leaving?”
“This… You… What happened to you?”
Tianlan said this while pointing a shaky finger at Hei.
Bai and Xiulan both looked over as well and they were similarly stunned.
“Eh? What are you talking about? Nothing happened to… me…”
Hei’s sentence trailed off at the end. He was looking at his hand, or at least what he thought was his hand. All he could see was a black silhouette of a hand.
“Eh? What is this?”
Bai and Xiulan stepped away from Hei, who was confused at what he saw.
He tried to feel his body, and it was still there. It was just that all of his skin and his clothes had turned pitch black. As if light was simply not allowed to exist around him.
“Ah, I remember now! Someone mentioned something about a stealth ability of those who have Innate Shadow Physiques.”
Tianlan remembered this from the day Hei was born.
“That’s right. I also remember that. So… how do I switch it off?”
“Don’t ask me. Just be glad that no one can see your face now. You can’t be ugly if you have no features.”
Everyone started laughing, though Hei’s laughter sounded more like crying.
“Then I’ll be on my way, Mother.”
“Train hard, Brother.”
And with that Tianlan left the room.
“So… Is it time for sleep?”
Xiulan was still looking at Hei who had turned into a shadow.
The three went to sleep.
The next day Hei woke up to find his body back to normal.
‘Phew. Looks like it really does only activate at night. I wonder how it works.’
Later on in the day, the maid paid a surprise visit.
“Lady Xiulan, I was asked to deliver this to the young mistress.”
She pulled out a doll and handed it to Xiulan.
“Is it from Father?”
Xiulan was surprised.
“Yes. He said that he was too busy making the bread to have it finished in time, but he wanted me to deliver it today.”
“Then I will see you tomorrow, Lady Xiulan.”
With that, the maid left.
“Mm. This is the same kind of doll he made for me when I was younger.”
Xiulan looked at the doll, seemingly deep in thought, before she handed it to Bai.
“Take good care of it.”
Bai took the doll and held it gently. She seemed to understand it’s significance.
‘So… Where’s mine?’
Hei joked in his mind. He thought it was wonderful that the Grandfather was caring for his family even when he couldn’t see them.
Life continued like this for the three for two years.
Now that he was big enough, Hei would go outside the room every now and then to explore the clan. Sometimes Bai would come along.
She liked to spend time in the clan library, where she could read whatever she could reach.
Hei noticed odd looks and whispers as people passed, but he decided to ignore it.
Soon after Hei’s fifth birthday, he underwent the talent assessment.
Usually, when juniors would have their talent measured, there would be many people from the clan there to bear witness.
When Hei went, there was no one. Not even someone overseeing the measurement.
It was just Hei, Tianlan and Bai.
“This works just fine. Tianlan, how do I use this thing?”
Hei said this as he while pointing to the measuring stone.
“Just place your hand on it and allow the energy to pass through your body. It will then change colour to show your talent.”
“Oh? What colour was it for you?”
“This… It didn’t change colour, it stayed the same grey it is now.”
Just as Hei was about to place his hand on the measuring stone Bai spoke up.
“I think it would be good if big brother observed the measurement.”
“Because I’m not sure about the accuracy of the method.”
“This… But do you know how it feels to have his creepy eyes on you?”
Tianlan was annoyed so he activated his eyes straight away.
Hei heard the same glass shattering sound and felt the same uncomfortable sensation as last time, but this time he was able to bear it.
‘Hehe. Looks like I have developed a resistance.’
Hei then placed his hand on the measuring stone.
After a while, he didn’t feel anything.
“Hm? Is this thing broken?”
Hei turned to Tianlan who had gone through this before.
He was about to ask if he was supposed to feel something when he noticed Tianlan’s shocked face.
“What is it?”
“No, the measurement is complete. According to the stone you have no talent.”
Tianlan snapped out of it.
“Then what was up with that face?”
“This… It’s your body. It’s not that it was unable to brand the Elemental Qi. It actually rejected it and pushed it away.”
Hei was also surprised. With all of the books he had read, he never heard of a body rejecting Qi.
“That’s what I saw.”
Bai also seemed to be surprised.
“This… Null Element!”
Tianlan was surprised at Bai’s sudden exclamation.
Hei seemed to know what Bai was getting at.
“Mm. It was in one of the books we read. There it was stated that Null Element Qi was the most abundant type of Natural Qi. It repels all Elemental Qi so areas with large concentrations of Null Element Qi are considered cultivation wastelands. Conversely, areas with low concentrations of Null Element Qi are considered cultivation holy lands.”
“Mm. Because Null Element Qi can’t be cultivated.”
Hei had also read that book.
“But what if they were wrong? Haven’t you felt like something was missing in those books?”
Hei had also felt this feeling. There always seemed to be something missing.
“So you’re saying.”
“Mm. There may be such a thing as Null Element spirit roots. If there was, with the most abundant element, Null Element cultivators would have a huge advantage over others.”
“So it has been suppressed.”
“That’s what I think.”
“Hm. This could be a game changer.”
While the two were discussing back and forth, Tianlan was trying to jump in.
When he saw a pause in their conversation he decided to enter.
“You can stop right there.”
The two were brought out of their contemplation.
“What is it, Brother?”
Bai said this, slightly annoyed.
“Uh… Sorry to break it to you, but my eyes can also see spirit roots. Brother Hei doesn’t have any.”
It was like the two were deflated. They had thought they were on the brink of something revolutionary.
Tianlan didn’t exactly want to rain on their parade but it was better to cut it off at the root.
“This… Then let’s leave this place.”
As the three were leaving, they were blocked at the entrance.
“Oh? The trashes have come out to play?”
“Looks like they don’t know their place, isn’t that right first brother?”
“Right! Maybe they need to be taught a lesson.”
There were five children blocking the entrance. three boys and two girls.
“Who are these clowns?”
Hei turned to Tianlan who knew more about the happenings in the clan.
“They’re the others.”
“Oh? The other siblings?”
Tianlan said this with a calm face.
“Is that right? Well then. The lot of you, get lost and go home to your mothers.”
Hei said this as he was looking at these older siblings of his.
“The trash is disrespectful!”
“This is the Wu Clan. Strength is what lets you speak here.”
“That’s right. What lets you, this trash, order us about?”
“Maybe you really do need to be taught a lesson.”
Four of the five responded to Hei’s words. The other stayed silent.
“Trash this, trash that, it that all you can say? It looks like your mothers didn’t teach you how to speak properly.”
One of the children tried to respond but Hei cut her off.
“You what? Are you here to spout nonsense or are you going to do something? You all think you’re strong cultivators, don’t you? The why don’t you face brother Tianlan?”
Seeing Tianlan’s calm face, Hei was willing to wager that nothing would come of this.
“This what? You have nothing to say when you’re trying to bully someone stronger than you? Why don’t you try again?”
“You are just hiding behind your brother.”
“That’s right. Settle your own problems.”
“Heh, look’s like this trash is afraid.”
“Are they even father’s children?”
Hei was immune to these childish goading tactics.
“Does anyone look scared of you? Were right here. Do something!”
He wouldn’t step forward. Why would he do so? Tianlan was a perfectly good shield in this situation. He was ten years old, whereas the eldest of these five was only six years old.
Even if they had been cultivating for a year, the time was too short to cross the gap between them and Tianlan, who had been training his martial arts for five years already.
Seeing the lack of movement, Hei decided to hammer the nail in.
Hei led the three as they walked past the five.
Hei heard a suppressed voice saying:
“Let us catch you alone. See what happens.”
Hei ignored the childish nonsense. What could they realistically do?
As they were walking, Tianlan warned Hei.
“Those five have good talent. One of them even has single element spirit roots. The clan would side with them if there were to be a conflict.”
“Does it matter about their talent? They are still little children. They should be taught to behave properly.”
Bai was silent as they walked along.
When they reached Xiulan’s room, Tianlan parted ways with them.
A few months passed by and all was still. There was no further conflict with those five.
One day, Hei went to the cultivation hall to try to pick up some cultivation manuals for research.
It was a clan rule that only those above five were allowed to enter the cultivation hall.
When he got there, he was denied access on account of his being a ‘trash’. They didn’t want to waste their time with him.
Hei was a little disappointed but there was nothing he could do.
He decided to take a stroll around the clan for a bit.
By the time he got back to Xiulan’s room, a few hours had passed.
As he opened the door, what he saw caused a surge of emotion.
“Little Bai, what’s wrong?”
Bai was crying, hugging Xiulan, who had a frown on her face.
“My doll. They took it.”
Hei noticed that Bai didn’t have the doll that she always carried with her.
“Who took it?”
“The big sisters. They said they wanted to play with it and they took it from me.”
Hei was now angry. What was the purpose of stealing from your little sister?
“Wait here, I’ll get it back for you.”
Hei placed his hand on her head.
“Don’t worry about it, Little Bai.”
Xiulan said this before Hei left.
Hei turned around and had a frown on his face.
He began his march to the big sisters’ usual hangout that Tianlan had told him about.
Tianlan had been doing some recon since the first incident and had shared his findings with Hei.
When he got there he kicked the door open and shouted:
“GIVE IT BACK!”