Just before the black phoenix rose into the sky, Honghuo was fighting three opponents simultaneously.
To his surprise, just as he was starting to wrap things up with the three, a new opponent fell out of the sky.
Now, after having fought so many opponents, and for such a long time, Honghuo inevitably racked up a few injuries. He wasn’t at a level where he could swat them away like flies, so having an additional opponent join in at this time wasn’t exactly something he was hoping for.
As he was complaining in his mind, he saw a cloud of powder appear in front of his face.
At first, he was going to blow the powder away using his qi, but then he detected the medicinal properties and remembered what his companion had told him before entering the Zhu Clan.
“If it looks like you need help, I’ll send some pills your way.”
When Heihuo had said this, Honghuo thought he would be seeing actual pills, not a cloud of powder, but now that he thought about it, doing it this way made it easy for him to absorb them during combat.
He wouldn’t have to manoeuvre himself around to catch the pills, and as long as he manipulated his qi a little, he could bring the cloud into his mouth and consume it that way.
And he did just that.
Having taken in the medicinal properties of the pills, Honghuo started to recover his lost strength and the few wounds he had, began to heal.
Honghuo found himself to be at his limit when he was fighting four opponents of similar strength at the same time. It would take quite a while if things were to continue unchanged.
Fortunately, an opportunity arose, in the form of a loud cry that shook the very ground beneath him.
Immediately after that cry, he saw a black phoenix rising and took the opportunity to try to create an opening for himself.
As he was fending off against his opponents, he would shift his gaze away from them and off to a distance, creating the illusion that he was distracted by something.
Of course, this wouldn’t be enough to fool his opponents, but he had more in store for them.
To further sell the illusion, he started moving sluggishly, allowing himself to take some damage, but he would always look off to the distance, seeming quite distracted.
It got to the point that he wasn’t even launching attacks at his opponents, only putting up a meagre defence as he put his attention on whatever was happening.
Seeing this and knowing that their opponent was not someone so easily dealt with, the four men who were fighting him found it strange.
What could be so important that it would make this fellow turn his attention away from the battle?
They also heard the loud cry, and were curious as to what the cause was, but as they were in the heat of battle, they decided to first finish this up before investigating.
As they now had the upper hand, one of them decided to turn his gaze in the same direction as Honghuo, and when he did, what he saw left him stunned.
“What in the…”
At this point Honghuo had become even more distracted, and was barely in the battle any more, focusing solely on whatever it was that was happening.
Seeing this, another of his opponents decided to take a look, and a similar situation occurred.
Now, there were two people battling against Honghuo, who was fully distracted, and two of their allies also fully distracted.
This caused them to also want to take a look at what was happening, but as soon as they had the thought, they noticed a sharp glint in Honghuo’s eyes as he turned to the other two who were distracted.
Honghuo could only think that his enemies had lived easy lives thus far. How could they turn their backs to their opponent?
He pulled two throwing knives out of his spatial ring and threw them at the two distracted opponents.
What made this attack particularly deadly, was the fact that Honghuo utilised his wind element qi to disguise the throwing knives, making them almost impossible to detect unless one had a very sensitive spiritual perception.
This was the same attack he had used against Hei when they had first battled, and even Hei was almost caught off-guard by it, showing how effective it was.
These attacks were extremely effective. Without knowing what had happened, his opponents found daggers in their backs, piercing into their hearts.
Even as they fell, their attention was still on that black phoenix that had risen to the sky. And as it absorbed all of the colour in the world, so did their visions fade to black.
At this point, the black phoenix exploded and caused a huge disturbance.
This affected not only Honghuo but also his opponents, who lost their balance and immediately turned to the source of the disturbance.
They could see their patriarch in the sky, worse for wear, which caused them to be quite distraught.
Whatever was happening over there was far more important than what they were doing right now, so they decided to go over and help their patriarch.
But who was their opponent? Would Honghuo let such an opening slip away?
The answer was two throwing knives in the backs of his opponents, stopping them before they could even take a single step towards their patriarch.
Their bodies hit the ground at the same time as their patriarch.
Honghuo let out a breath, marvelling at the feats of his companion. Of course, he knew that this was Heihuo’s doing, the black flames alone were enough to confirm that.
At this point, he was just glad that the Zhu Clan didn’t have anyone that powerful. Otherwise, his mission would become far more difficult, may be impossible.
He took a moment to compose himself before looking down at the bodies of his fallen enemies.
During the fight, he had slain quite a few opponents, and it was now time to collect the spoils.
Since he had been in constant battle so far, it was difficult to do so, but now that everybody was distracted, and there were no other people tagged with red flames in the area, he was able to take his time.
Those without any flames had already taken the hint and stepped away. There were times they wanted to join in the fight, but they realised that things weren’t as simple as enemies having come to attack the clan.
That, and most of their strongest fighters were those involved in Honghuo’s incident, and he was taking them down without too much trouble. Involving themselves may not even improve the situation at all and would likely increase the number of casualties.
Even though this was the case, Honghuo did not let his guard down. He remained vigilant as he kept his sword out while searching the bodies.
One by one, he found the valuables on each of these bodies, taking their spatial rings and any other notable items they held.
As he was doing so, he noticed that every now and then, debris and rocks would fly towards him and land somewhere near him.
He used his spiritual perception to detect where they were coming from, and it seemed it was a small child, a boy who was throwing these things.
Knowing that, Honghuo decided to ignore it and continued in his collection efforts, but as he approached one particular body, a rock came and hit the side of his head.
Of course, Honghuo could have easily avoided this rock if he so wished, but he noticed the intent behind it and was sympathetic with it.
The rock was steeped with the pain of loss, a heavy sorrow.
This was exactly the same way he felt when he discovered what had happened to his clan.
He didn’t know why, but he felt he should accept the feelings of the young boy. Perhaps it was due to the fact that he was even in this position in the first place.
By some twist of fate, he was able to avoid the tragedy that occurred and was given the opportunity to address his grievances.
Was that not the exact same situation this young boy was in?
He remembered the words of his companion.
“Today, you will create many Honghuos.”
These were the words Heihuo had said to him before they entered the Zhu Clan.
He asked what Honghuo would do when faced with those who wanted to seek revenge, those just like him.
At the time, Honghuo didn’t have the answer. All he knew, was that he needed to do what he needed to do. The consequences could come later.
Honghuo didn’t let these thoughts distract him from collecting the body’s possessions.
As he took the spatial ring and other little trinkets that the body held, he noticed a particularly misshapen object. It seemed to have been made by the most novice of craftsmen.
If one didn’t know any better, they would say it was the work of a small child.
He held it in his hand and looked at it, however, his actions seem to trigger a reaction in the young boy, who ran up to him with tears streaming down his face.
As he got to Honghuo, he pounded his fists against Honghuo’s leg repeatedly.
“Give me back my father, you monster! Give him back!”
One could hear the desperation in the young boy’s words. His wails of anguish as he realised that his father would never return to him struck a chord in the hearts of everyone watching.
There were many people in the same situation as him, but only a small child would be as unrestrained as to ignore the dangers involved with speaking out.
Honghuo frowned as he dropped the trinket and kicked the boy away, causing him to fall on his backside.
But this did not deter the boy at all.
After picking himself up, he ran straight back to Honghuo and continued to strike at the person who had taken his father from him.
“Give him back! Give him back!”
Honghuo frowned deeply when confronted with this boy’s feelings.
At first, he was sympathetic, but it quickly turned to anger.
He kicked the boy away once more and turned a furious gaze towards him, which when added with the killing intent he had developed after having slain many members of the Zhu Clan, left the boy shaking in fear.
“Give you back your father?”
He clenched his fists tightly.
“Who’s going to give me back my father? What about my mother? My cousins? My aunts and uncles? My grandparents?”
The boy failed to respond due to his fear.
“Who? Who’s going to give back the people that your Zhu Clan took from me?”
He pointed his sword to the boy. It was shaking due to Honghuo’s hands, which were trembling in anger.
When he noticed this, he calmed himself.
“Is it you?”
As Honghuo was speaking, a woman ran over and dropped to her knees, hugging the boy tightly.
“Forgive him, he’s just a boy.”
“Mother. But he-”
The woman hurriedly placed her hand over the boy’s mouth, silencing him, before turning back to Honghuo.
She tried to plead for forgiveness, however, Honghuo showed no change in expression.
“Then take my life instead. Please, just spare my son.”
Honghuo didn’t respond, he simply looked at them coldly and swung his sword, leaving a streak of blood painted on the floor.
He sheathed his sword and turned to leave, having taken everything of value.
Behind him, two heads fell.
This wasn’t Honghuo’s doing, he had only removed the excess blood from his sword. As to why the two heads fell, this was because the mother had held her son’s head to the ground, and also bowed with her head to the ground, as a show of gratitude for having spared their lives.
Of course, there was a deep hatred for Honghuo burning in her heart. He was the man who had killed her husband, the father of her child.
As Honghuo walked away, he began reflecting on what had happened so far.
He realised that he didn’t feel any better as a result of his actions. Nothing had improved, his heart was still heavy, and the pain of loss did not fade in the slightest.
For him, things would stay the same for the rest of his life.
Perhaps the pain would fade with time. But every time he thought of his family, his cousin, who was to be wed, and all of the people he held dear, it would surely still be there.
He thought it selfish, but he sincerely hoped, with all his heart, that his sister would be able to share some of the pain with him. That they could move forward together, supporting each other.
Of course, these thoughts would not prevent him from having his vengeance. It and the hope of finding his sister were all he had left.
“Hatred begets hatred and revenge begets revenge, huh?”
As Honghuo noticed the looks of the people he passed, he reflected on some of the words Heihuo had spoken to him.
He spoke loud enough for the people around him to hear.
“If you want, you can come to find me, I won’t run from you. But if you come, be prepared to die.”
These were the words he left to the young boy, and all those he had caused to hate him.
Since he was given the chance to seek his vengeance, he wouldn’t prevent them from seeking theirs.
Having finished business here, Honghuo stretched his body and let out a yawn. He discarded his gloomy mood and proceeded towards the centre of the action, which was where the black phoenix appeared.
He was interested in what his companion was up to. From the words of his enemies, the Zhu Clan’s patriarch seemed to have been dealt with.
When he arrived, the scene in front of him left him stunned.
“You can’t be serious…”