Yuying’s words went ignored as Honghuo wanted to fully clarify the situation.
“So, you really aren’t in a relationship?”
For the third time, Hei confirmed the same information.
Yuying tried to draw attention to herself, but Honghuo continued.
“You’re being serious, right? You won’t come at me later switching up the story?”
“There is no need to be concerned about such a thing.”
Honghuo started rubbing his hands and Hei made a mental evaluation of him because of it.
“Go for it. Though, your current mannerisms are questionable. You look devious.”
Honghuo waved his hand, dismissing Heihuo’s commentary. His gaze shifted to the beauty on the other side of the jade, who he knew had heard Heihuo’s words. Surely, any good intentions she had towards him should have reduced somewhat.
“Miss business partner. I would be honoured if you would grace me with your name.”
However, as had been the case thus far, she paid him no attention.
“I said wait!”
Hearing this, Honghuo felt as if a cold wind passed by. She was hung up on something and was still looking at Heihuo. Could it be that she wasn’t willing to let it go?
He clenched his teeth wondering what was so good about this faceless fellow.
Hei turned to his business partner, unsure of what had gotten her so energetic.
Yuying moved to the edge of her bed, where she sat up and straightened her clothes before taking a breath to calm herself.
“Just now, you said ‘as if’. What did you mean by that?”
It took a moment for Hei to realise what she was talking about.
“Ah. Honghuo’s words implied a romantic relationship between you and me. As no such relationship exists, I denied the implication. That’s what I meant. Was it unclear?”
Now that he thought about it, ‘as if’ had some ambiguity to it and didn’t answer the question directly. But that ambiguity was also useful as it allowed him to say more with fewer words.
“No. It was pretty clear, but that’s the problem!”
“Hm? That I denied it?”
“… Is there some confusion as to the nature of our relationship? I thought it was clear that we are business partners.”
Yuying was going to agree, but Hei continued before she could do so.
“And besides, didn’t you also deny it? You even used the same words if I recall correctly.”
“Ahem. We agree on that part, but you made it sound as if the suggestion itself was ridiculous. It sounded, to me, as if you were saying such a thing could never happen.”
Hei nodded his head.
“Mm. That’s exactly what I was saying.”
Yuying found herself frozen in place, unable to respond.
Honghuo, on the other hand, had a giant grin on his face.
“Haha. Uncle Heihuo, you really are a hero!”
Could he have asked for anything better? He had never seen such self-sabotage before. Who in their right mind would burn bridges with a beauty of this calibre? Especially when she was sending all these signals.
Honghuo didn’t understand that he didn’t understand Miss business partner at all.
She wasn’t broken-hearted over his companion’s words at all. What it was, was that she was shocked that someone could actually say such a thing to her.
In all her life, she had only received praise. Whether it was her cultivation talent, which was initially unparalleled, or her appearance, no one had ever denied her so plainly.
Even when she found herself unable to break through to the externalisation realm, she did not face scorn, what she got instead, was an overwhelmingly comforting environment.
How many valiant young men had come to curry favour with her? Too many to count. But this one, the one who didn’t even bother to show her his face or ask for her name, he said they could never be in a relationship. That the idea itself was ridiculous.
What kind of nonsense was this?
As Miss business partner’s mind was bubbling, Honghuo walked over to Heihuo and placed his arm around his shoulder.
He asked about the assumption he had made.
“What is it? Have you already promised yourself to someone?”
Hei turned to Honghuo, who had gotten overly familiar during the past few minutes.
Honghuo tried to think of another explanation, but what he came up with caused him to remove his arm from Heihuo’s shoulder.
Hei blinked, and by the time he opened his eyes, Honghuo was already a metre away.
“Then… you prefer men?”
Honghuo walked back to Hei.
“You haven’t seen Fairy Mulan, have you?”
“Can’t say I have.”
“Then you’re from the upper continent?”
Honghuo’s eyes opened wide.
“The middle continent?”
“No, I’m from a small city in the lower continent. What are you getting at?”
Hei had no idea where this was going.
Honghuo was equally clueless.
“Even with all this, you still… Aha!”
Having neared the end of his list, he jumped to an extreme answer.
“You’re a eunuch!”
“That must be it!”
This was the only explanation.
Honghuo turned to Miss business partner who had just exclaimed in agreement.
He was unaware that as he was going down the list for why Heihuo seemed to be a deviant, Miss business partner was doing the same.
It really was far too strange. If one asked 100 men if they would like to make her acquaintance, 100 men would say yes. That was even more so if they were given the opportunity to enter into a romantic relationship with her.
Either her business partner was not a man, or he was aware of his own inadequacy so as to not dare to have the thought. But then again, even toads could wish to eat swan meat.
How could he throw away the possibility of an opportunity others would jump at the chance for?
This situation was just incomprehensible.
Hei was unaware of the thoughts going through the minds of these two.
“I’m not. But do you care to explain why you’re asking me these things?”
Though he wasn’t bothered by it, being asked if he was a eunuch did feel quite odd.
Honghuo blinked a few times before continuing.
“Take a look.”
He pointed at Miss business partner, and Heihuo moved his gaze.
“What am I looking at?”
Yuying pointed to her face.
“You don’t feel anything when looking at me?”
“Hm? Am I supposed to feel something? Are you using some kind of technique?”
Yuying was without words, and seeing this, Honghuo spoke up.
“I didn’t think this was the case, but have you broken the mortal coil?”
Honghuo nodded his head twice.
“Even with that voice, huh? If all of your answers were true so far, then you must be a woman.”
“Mm. There’s no other explanation.”
They had now exhausted the entire list. With Hei’s answers to the questions thus far, one could only conclude that he was a woman.
“You went down a line of reasoning that led you to believe that I’m a woman. Why am I unable to understand this nonsense? I’m male, by the way.”
If Hei wasn’t still recovering from Heavenly Revocation, he would have long since continued on his mission in peace. Fortunately, his left arm had improved quite a bit from its earlier state, so it wouldn’t be much longer.
“A male, and yet you aren’t moved by her… How did that happen?”
Honghuo placed his hand on his chin and Miss business partner threw her hands in the air as she fell backwards onto her bed. She had given up on trying to understand this.
There were all kinds of eccentrics.
Hearing Honghuo’s words, Hei realised what this was about. He had initially been on the right track with his assumptions, but then Honghuo started talking about fairies and whether he was from the upper continent.
Because these points didn’t directly link with the subject, Hei decided to ask about it. Perhaps he would learn something useful.
“You mentioned a Fairy Mulan. What is that and what does having seen it have to do with whether or not I’m moved by my business partner?”
“You don’t know that either? I guess you really are from a small town.”
Honghuo shook his head.
“Fairy Mulan is one of the three foundation establishment experts of the lower continent and the sect leader of the Jade Palace, one of the three pillars. She is also universally acknowledged as the lower continent’s number one beauty.”
“Yup. Undisputed. Anyway, having seen her would mean your own standards of beauty have been raised, which would explain why you don’t consider Miss business partner to be much. Though, you should still feel something. After all, she is only one rank below Fairy Mulan.”
Honghuo frowned. Why was this fellow so clueless?
“Have you spent your whole life in seclusion?”
“Something like that.”
Hei spent the first 7 years of his life in Xiulan’s room, not getting much worldly experience at all, then he lived in the Shao Bakery, which was a place where one would learn an awful lot about baking, but that was about it.
He had only been away from home for a few months now, and most of it was either spent in the Shao Residence within the Man Peak or an inn within a small town. For the majority of that time, his company was kept by a cat.
As far as experiencing the world went, he wasn’t much different than someone who had lived in seclusion.
“No wonder you’re so strong. But you are missing some common sense.”
“Well, during your time on the outside, you must have seen a few women, right? You even have a bunch of them in your spatial fold.”
“You have a spatial fold?!”
This was Yuying’s first time hearing about this.
“And what’s this about women?”
Hei turned to her.
“Yes, I have what can be called a spatial fold. The women are victims of kidnapping and trafficking who we rescued.”
“I see. But you said you’re from a small town. How did you acquire a spatial fold?”
“Everyone has… fortunate encounters.”
“R-right. But why do you make it sound as if it wasn’t fortunate at all?”
“Whether it was fortunate or not is arguable.”
He turned to Honghuo.
“Right. Among those women, you should be able to easily group them by appearance. For example, there should be around three groups you can clearly distinguish.”
Yuying stepped in.
“I’ll take it from here.”
She pulled out what looked like a whiteboard and a pen and proceeded to draw a triangle, dividing it into sections.
She pointed at the lowest section.
“Here we have the common women. You can find these everywhere if you just walk around. There should be quite a few in your spatial fold.”
That was the case. As Hei looked through his spatial fold, he was able to divide the women into groups, but he only had two groups.
She then pointed at the next section up.
“Here we have beauties. You’ll run into these at your local cultivator clan, and any woman who cultivates to a high enough level will be able to reach this level. You are aware that cultivation improves one’s appearance, correct?”
“I am, but how does one know when they have become a beauty, or if they are still common?”
“It should be pretty obvious. If you look in your spatial fold, do any of the women have ambiguous grades? Are there any that you are unsure which group they belong to?”
Hei found this strange. Surely, there should have been some overlap, but it was as if a clear line was drawn between the two groups. No one was allowed to approach it on either side.
“Moving on. Above beauties, you have little princesses.”
Honghuo raised his hand.
When he noticed this, Hei turned to Honghuo, who had taken out a pen and paper at some point.
Yuying also turned to Honghuo.
“Why Little Princess? Where did that name come from?”
His own clan had someone they referred to as their little princess, namely his cousin, so he was curious.
“Ah. The names themselves have no meanings. I just used Little Princess because that’s what my father calls me. I can change it to Peerless Beauty if that’s clearer.”
“Mm. I think that would be better.”
With that, Yuying erased the Little Princess label and replaced it with Peerless Beauty.
But this time, Hei raised his hand.
Yuying was happy to answer questions. Somehow the atmosphere had turned into a teacher and her students.
“Mm. I just think using peerless as a classification is strange. Wouldn’t that mean there is only one of such an item? That it is without peer?”
“… You don’t need to scrutinise the syntax. Technically speaking, you are correct, but it’s too late for that. You have peerless grade spirit roots, cultivation techniques, spirit stones, and all manner of other things. All of those things had been truly peerless at some point, and as such, were given the title, but then peers were found, and instead of choosing another title, they were just grouped together. The real issue is when you find things above peerless grade, which makes the whole title misplaced. But no one cared enough about it to change it, so here we are.”
Hei wasn’t expecting such a long explanation.
“If it makes you feel better, just consider the peerless title to be flattery and not an actual evaluation.”
“Any more questions?”
Hei and Honghuo shook their heads.
“Alright. Peerless beauties are the highest level most people will see. You may find one in a large clan, and sects are a place where they tend to gather. The best example of a peerless beauty I can give you is myself.”
Hei raised his hand.
“Don’t you think referring to yourself as a peerless beauty can make you come off as conceited?”
Honghuo answered while taking down a few notes.
“It’s not conceited if it’s true. It’s just confidence in the facts.”
“What he said.”
The idea that she was beautiful was deeply ingrained in Yuying’s mind and through no fault of her own. It was the only thing she would hear after it was discovered that she had a problem breaking through to the externalisation.
That, and no one would refute it.
Hei could now see a bit of the reason why his business partner was the way she was. Simply put, she was a spoilt brat. That was why she would always pester him until he acknowledged her. He thought it was entirely possible that he was the only person who ever told her no.
He could only hope that his goofy self would not do the same thing to Bai, who he was extremely biased towards.
“Beauties have the chance to become peerless beauties during their cultivation, and if they haven’t done so before the foundation establishment realm, they will become peerless beauties upon breaking through.”
This time, both Hei and Honghuo raised their hands.
Hei allowed Honghuo to go first.
“What is so significant about the foundation establishment realm? I heard Fairy Mulan only gained her reputation after breaking through.”
“Good question. The foundation establishment realm is the dividing line if you will. It is when one moves from tampering themselves and accumulating qi, to the interaction with and comprehension of the laws of the world. Along with that, a notable change occurs in cultivators upon breaking through to the foundation establishment realm, which is commonly referred to as the first metamorphosis.”
“Mm. So, Fairy Mulan went through this first metamorphosis?”
“Precisely. Fairy Mulan was just a regular peerless beauty before breaking through to the foundation establishment realm. That’s why the fairy group is considered to be an extension of the peerless beauty group. Those who reach peerless beauty before breaking through have a chance at becoming fairies, which is coincidentally a widely recognised term.”
“You’re really knowledgeable, Miss business partner.”
Honghuo had only known that Fairy Mulan was an unmatched beauty in the lower continent. She had lived multiple times longer than he had, and this point, everyone just thought she had always been that beautiful. Who would have thought that she had achieved her fame because of her cultivation level?
He could only sigh at the thought that there must have been many peerless beauties who had the chance of becoming fairies but were unable to break through before time wore down on them.
Truly a loss to the lower continent.
Yuying smiled in response. The truth was, this was only the tip of the iceberg. She couldn’t even speak of those freakish existences who had gone through the second metamorphosis and the legend of the natural-born fairies.
She turned to Hei.
“You also had a question, Partner?”
“Mm. Well, my question was the same as Honghuo’s, but I have a new one now.”
“Feel free to ask.”
“What happens if one becomes a fairy before the first metamorphosis? What do they become afterwards?”
“As a matter of fact, First Metamorphosis implies that there is a second one. What happens then?”
Yuying’s eyebrows twitched in response to Hei’s questions. He asked the only questions she couldn’t answer.
“Uh… To answer your first question, those are things of legend. I can’t give you a good answer. And for your second question, anyone who has gone through the second metamorphosis would have already ventured into the outer boundary, so there isn’t much information on them.”
“Honghuo was right… Your knowledge knows no bounds…”
“Hey! There are some things even I don’t know! Anyway, do you have any more questions?”
Honghuo shook his head, which made Hei feel like a nuisance when he raised his hand.
“What is it now, Partner?”
“Just one more. What about men?”
“Hm? What do you mean?”
“We have discussed the beauty realms, if you will, for women, but what about men? How do we classify them?”
Hearing this, Yuying and Honghuo turned to each other and then back to Hei.
They spoke at the same time.
Surprised by their unison, Hei was left without words for a short while.
“… I see. Never mind then…”
He was pretty sure his business partner would change her stance if she saw Tianlan. From what he had learnt today, Tianlan was probably considered to be a male fairy.
‘Well, that image was weird…’
Hei had imagined Tianlan with fairy wings. Pixie dust and all. It was odd, to say the least.
Having answered the question Yuying asked once more.
“Is that all?”
Hei and Honghuo nodded their heads.
“Well, that concludes the lesson. You should now be aware of how strange it is for you to not notice my beauty.”
Honghuo nodded in agreement.
After having learnt this useless information, Hei had an understanding of certain things. It seemed his goofy self was aware of this instinctively.
“Actually, it’s not that strange. Based on the information you have shared, it should be due to the fact that I have seen the face of an angel.”
At this point, Hei noticed something strange. There seemed to be a splash of colour in this otherwise grey world.
Before long, it intensified.
‘Did one of the Shao Clan come here?’
Knowing that the Shao Clan could pull him out of the grey, Hei extended his spiritual perception.
Even after doing so, he couldn’t find any trace of the Shao Clan members. But he did notice three fellows outside of the array covering the city.
What was notable about them was that they were all suspended in mid-air, meaning they were minute realm cultivators.
‘They found a flaw.’
Those three men had discovered a vulnerability in his design which allowed people to exit the formation.
Hei pulled out the master jade and issued some instructions to remove the flaw.
After that, he did another scan of the area but still failed to discover anything out of place.
The only thing was the feeling of being close to something. As if a part of himself was nearby. No, he was the part, the other was greater.
‘Is this one of my abilities?’
Hei went through the abilities he asked Crystalia for, but none of them seemed to match this situation.
‘Then the mere thought of her? No.’
He had thought of her on several occasions, usually with resentment, but occasionally with admiration, and none of them caused such an occurrence.
‘What is it?’
He continued searching, but nothing showed up. He felt like he was close to it but also far away. Constantly reaching for it but unable to grasp it.
It wasn’t until he heard his business partner’s voice that he was pulled out of this state.
“Angel? What’s that?”
Hei was momentarily flustered. The odd sensation had gone, but the colour remained.
“Well, she was an angel-in-training, to be exact. You have no notion of angels?”
Hei thought about it for a moment before trying a different description.
“Perhaps the term, Goddess, is more familiar?”
“What?! You’ve seen a goddess?”
Yuying’s eyes opened wide. Why would that word appear now?
“No, as I said, she was an angel-in-training. Though, she had dreams of becoming a goddess.”
Yuying placed her hand on her chin.
“A goddess, huh? Then it all makes sense.”
“Uh… I don’t think we’re talking about the same thing.”
Hei felt her reaction had been a little too extreme. Wasn’t a goddess just a souped-up angel? It shouldn’t warrant such a reaction, should it?
Then again, he hadn’t actually seen one. But why would his business partner have? Maybe she was also from another world.
Honghuo, on the other hand, was completely lost. He knew nothing of angels and goddesses.
They sounded interesting though.