After having ended his communication with Mei, Hei returned to the barrier, where Honghuo and Miss business partner seemed to be discussing something.
“What’s this? Have the two of you hit it off?”
They turned to him and Honghuo shook his head.
“It takes some time for the effects to kick in, huh? I can introduce you to someone who makes instant relief pills.”
Hei clenched his teeth. They were still going on about this.
“I don’t take any medication!”
“Sure you don’t. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, you know?”
Hei could only nod his head a few times while trying to maintain his calm.
“Anyway, I’m curious about this angel-in-training of yours. She’s so beautiful as to blind you to other women?”
“Essentially. Though, I only got a glimpse of her. It’s entirely possible that I created an idealised image of her in my mind that isn’t an accurate representation of reality. But I’m inclined to believe what I saw.”
“Oh? How does someone like me compare?”
Yuying had a certain confidence in her appearance, so she was interested in seeing how she compared to someone her business partner had likened to a goddess.
“Now, you’re just trying to hurt your own feelings.”
“Oh? Am I that bad?”
Yuying stood up and straightened her clothes before smiling at Hei.
This smile took Honghuo’s breath away, but it did nothing for Hei.
“Hm… Let’s see… To compare you to her… It’s like… Hm…”
Hei was having difficulty coming up with the right words.
“Ah! If I were to compare you to her, I would say you’re akin to a donkey standing next to a unicorn. One is a magical and majestic creature of legend, and the other is… well… an ass.”
Left speechless by his words, Yuying could only sit back down and Honghuo’s eyes had almost left their sockets.
Yuying looked at her business partner with a blank expression.
“Mm. I think I’m going to cry myself to sleep tonight.”
“I’ll have the cat send over a soft towel.”
After a short bout of despair, Yuying’s curiosity brought her back to her usual self.
“So, is she the target of your desires?”
“Do you want to be with her?”
Hei was confused by the sudden question. Where was this coming from?
Yuying was thrown for a loop. Didn’t this fellow just say she was a donkey next to a unicorn when compared to that angel thing?
“But the way you described her, she should be stunningly beautiful, right?”
“She is, but what’s your point?”
Yuying raised a brow and turned to Honghuo, who shrugged his shoulders. He also didn’t know what was going through Heihuo’s mind.
She turned back to her business partner.
“She’s beautiful, but you don’t want to be with her?”
“Mm. Is that strange?”
“Then she’s unavailable?”
“I don’t know about that.”
Honghuo blinked a few times with a blank expression on his face.
“Are you crazy?”
To put things simply, even Miss business partner was enough for him to jump through several hoops. He couldn’t even imagine the beauty of the one Heihuo was picturing. Who in their right mind would forgo… Why would… Eh?
At this point, Hei caught on to what these two were saying.
“Because she is beautiful, she must be pursued. Is that it?”
The two responded in unison.
Hei blinked a few times behind his mask and Honghuo continued.
“Even if she is unattainable, you should still hold such intentions as a man.”
“And I’m the strange one? You act as if one’s appearance is the only factor at play when considering such things.”
Yuying and Honghuo turned to each other once more before turning back to Hei.
Needless to say, Hei wasn’t expecting such a response.
“Okay, I’m going to skip your nonsense. It’s pretty simple. She and I are from two different worlds. I’m not willing to go to her world, and for her to come to mine wouldn’t make any sense. As such, even though she is undoubtedly the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, there is no point in thinking about unrealistic things. Besides, she kind of kidnapped me and took me from the only home I’ve ever known, so there is debt that has to be repaid. Does that work for you?”
Yuying and Honghuo were left speechless for a short while. But a short while it was. Honghuo gave voice to his thoughts.
“Yeah… but you met her, right? Then there is a way for things to work out.”
Yuying also had a few words to say.
“She kidnapped you, but you don’t sound very angry.”
“And even if she did kidnap you, it’s not like she killed you, is it? You seem to be doing just fine.”
“Do you hold any resentment towards her for it? Because it doesn’t seem that way.”
For some reason, these two seemed to be trying to make something happen.
“Resentment? She was left with few options, so there is a desperation factor, which, to be honest, doesn’t do much for her case, but it does do something. And it’s not like I haven’t gained anything at all through this ordeal. All things considered, she has been accommodating enough, so I don’t resent her.”
The two gave their responses.
“Then we should be good to go.”
Seeing that the situation between Hei and the mystery lady wasn’t all that bad, Honghuo and Miss business partner seemed to have a renewed enthusiasm.
Hei had no idea what was going through their minds, but the story wasn’t over. Thinking of his next words, he unwittingly released a murderous aura.
“Mm. I don’t resent her. However, if I fail to return home and die before seeing my parents again, I will do whatever it takes to manifest as a vengeful spirit and haunt her for the rest of her days. If I have anything to say about it, she won’t have another peaceful moment from that point forward.”
The two were surprised by this intense situation.
Honghuo had it worse. He was in the same physical location as Hei, so he was experiencing the full brunt of his killing intent. It felt as if the air itself bore ill will towards him. As if the slightest transgression would result in his death.
Even Yuying, who was a distance away, felt as if an intangible presence had invaded her room and was staring at her, waiting for her to make a mistake.
Fortunately for them, the situation didn’t last too long.
Hei’s aura disappeared as he spoke his following words.
“Ah. But why do I get the feeling she would be able to get rid of me anyway? Sigh. Sometimes things just aren’t fair. All I can do is try my best.”
Yuying was the first to snap out of it. Unlike Honghuo, she wasn’t intimidated by what just happened. Instead, she was excited about the thought of being able to do similar things in the future.
In her usual fashion, she simply moved on, looking for answers on what she was curious about.
“So, it’s a no for the angel-in-training?”
“I mean, I already said that.”
“Then, what? Are you going to stay alone for the rest of your life?”
“No. I’ll find a nice girl back home-”
“… And I’ll be her mule. Anyway, with the approval of our parents, we’ll get married and live the rest of our lives together.”
“If that’s the case, then-”
“It still can’t be you.”
“… I think I’ll need another soft towel.”
“You got it.”
Having been coldly rejected again, Yuying suffered a bout of feeling worthless. However, that was quickly overcome. Her self-confidence was simply too high for such a thing to last.
“Why not? Do you know someone else more beautiful than me?”
“Well, arguably, but they’re older than you, so it wouldn’t be a fair comparison.”
“You and I are also from different worlds. I’m not willing to be in yours, and you can’t come to mine. That’s enough to eliminate the possibility of such a thing. Don’t get me wrong, your pride in your looks isn’t completely unfounded. Even I can see that.”
“But I’m still a donkey, right?”
“A very pretty one. But yes.”
“Wow. I’m deep in the friend-zone, aren’t I?”
“How could that be?”
“When did we become friends?”
“… Three towels please.”
Even after all this time, he didn’t consider her to be his friend…
Well, that was reasonable enough. It had always been pretty one-sided on her part. He never initiated any contact with her, so this much wasn’t all that surprising.
She found that every time this fellow rejected her, her interest in him grew.
This wasn’t a romantic interest. After all, he didn’t have a face. However, rejection was such a novel concept.
How many Honghuos had she met in her life? Too many to count. Everyone was always fawning over her to the point that it got boring.
Sure, it was always nice to receive compliments, but there was a limit to how much she could appreciate them.
Now that she was acquainted with her business partner, someone who didn’t seem to care for her feelings at all, she found herself able to appreciate what she had.
Even after being likened to a donkey, being told that she was at least a pretty one was oddly flattering when it came from his mouth.
After regaining her composure, she decided to continue, but her business partner spoke first.
“Do you think it would deter a woman at all if I told her that I already have a fiancée?”
Hei wanted to verify the truth of the claim he had made back at the Fang Clan when he was speaking with Tianlan. That being married wasn’t even a factor when trying to avoid some of the various possible troublesome encounters a main character could have with women on his journey.
If having a fiancée was enough of a deterrent, things would be quite simple for him. After all, he kind of had one… At the very least, to say that he did have one wouldn’t be completely erroneous.
Yuying was surprised to hear the question. After giving it some thought, she shook her head.
“I think for most women, that won’t be a deterrent.”
“Sigh. I see.”
Hearing his disappointed response caused some confusion in Yuying.
“That’s most. But it’s easy enough to have them… leave you alone…”
The fact that her words improved his mood only worked to further Yuying’s odd feeling.
“In the case of beauties and below, simply being too strong is enough to have them see reality. I think you should fall into that category. Having intentions towards someone so strong without being a peerless beauty is essentially a fantasy. No one expects it to happen.”
“But the peerless beauties are the problem…”
Since when had regular women had any relevance in a story? Hei’s primary concern was for the country toppling beauties, or as his business partner put it, the peerless beauties.
This was even more so when it came to Tianlan. How many would he run into on the way? It would surely be a stream of endless troubles.
Seeing him become deflated again, Yuying couldn’t respond for a short while.
“… Then I don’t know what to tell you. When it comes to peerless beauties, I would say that most of us are taught to seek the strong and those with good backgrounds. Even if the fiancée was instead, your wife, it still wouldn’t do much. After all, you could just take more wives, no?”
“I suppose… Does your father have multiple wives?”
“Pft. I don’t think he even dares to dream about it. Does yours?”
“Hehe. If he no longer values his life, he may allow the thought to pass through his mind.”
Hei had defaulted to thinking of his original father and not Wu Dong, who did have multiple wives.
Yuying had noticed the commonality between the two.
“So, both of our mothers run the ship?”
“And it looks like both of our mothers spoil us a bit too much.”
After thinking about all the ways her mother used to spoil her, Yuying sighed.
“I haven’t seen my mother in a few years now.”
“Same here. What happened?”
“She’s out there living the dream.”
“She’s on some kind of cultivation journey?”
“Mm. I also want to go on one someday.”
“My grandma is also on one of those. She left my mother and grandpa alone to pursue her cultivation. My mother was also fairly young at the time, like you.”
Hei was switching between his original mother and Xiulan. He considered them both to be his mothers.
“To be honest, I don’t know. I don’t know what’s so important that it would drive someone to leave their family behind, but I also want to find out. And I want to ask her myself. That’s why I’m really thankful for the cultivation technique you gave me.”
“Don’t worry about it. Those techniques are only useful when they’re in the hands of those who can cultivate them.”
“I never did ask, but do you also cultivate the way of elemental foundations?”
“No. It’s not suitable for me.”
“I see. Then, how did you know it was suitable for me?”
“Flipped a coin.”
“Eh? You flipped a coin?”
Yuying thought of how the technique gave severe warnings that those who practised it must be suitable. Otherwise, the consequences would be catastrophic.
“I was only joking. I have an eye for these things. For example, Honghuo here is also suitable for the way of elemental foundations in the same way you are, albeit to a lesser extent. Apparently, you’re some kind of heaven-defying talent.”
Yuying was feeling smug after hearing the last part.
“Oh? You finally realise that I’m spectacular?”
“Yeah, yeah. You’re a genius who only appears once in a thousand years. But to compare you to my siblings and me-”
“Don’t say it!”
“Well, I’ll just say that my siblings and I are dragons. You can decide what you are for yourself.”
“Then I’m a carp.”
“Oh? You wish to leap through the dragon gate?”
“It’s not a wish. It’s something I will make happen with my own hands.”
“You’re not going to add anything?”
“‘Nice resolve… for a donkey.’ Something like that.”
“What kind of person do you think I am?”
“I have no idea. You sit around in silence a lot. I know that much.”
“And you like to watch that.”
“… We both have our quirks. But that’s what makes our partnership worthwhile, don’t you think?”
“If I squint my eyes a little, I can kind of see it.”
Yuying rolled her eyes.
“Anyway, you said he is suitable for the way of elemental foundations? Does he also practice it?”
“No. From what I can tell, he has already obtained some sort of fortunate encounter that is more advanced. Even if he were to switch to elemental foundations now, it would only weaken him. But eventually, I believe it would also be a good idea for him to practice elemental foundations.”
“That reminds me. That thing about the new pillar. What’s that about?”
“It’s as it says. The creators of elemental foundations are planning to create a new pillar in the lower continent.”
“Do you think they’re going to succeed? It would really cause a big splash if they did.”
“They most definitely will.”
“You’re that confident in them?”
“Mm. This world is about to experience some major changes, and it starts with them.”
“Why do I feel like you’re also a part of the changes you’re speaking about?”
“Perhaps you’ve been won over by my overflowing charisma.”
“As if! Anyway, you asked about my mother, what about yours? Why haven’t you seen her in so long?”
“My mother? I told you about how I was kidnapped, didn’t I?”
“Oh, right. And you’ve been talking about how you’re from a different world. So, you come from one of the other four worlds?”
“Something like that.”
She wasn’t quite accurate, but the idea was similar. She had assumed he was either from one of the other directional worlds, or the middle world itself.
“So, how long has it been?”
“10 years? Wow. And it’s going to be hard to get back home. You’ll have to enter the outer boundary first, which means you’ll have to become one of the peak experts of the middle continent.”
“The difficulty isn’t a concern. If there is a way, then I will succeed.”
“For a mule?”
“You beat me to it.”
“Oh, wow. I think I’m going to cry myself to sleep tonight.”
“At least we’ll both have someone to cry with.”
“Anyway, you seem to know a little about the world.”
“It’s not much. I’m from the middle continent, after all.”
“Oh? Is that so?”
Yuying had tried a humble brag, but it seemed her business partner wasn’t impressed at all.
“… It is.”
“The lower eastern continent seems to be a popular destination among tourists.”
“I’ve noticed that too. It’s interesting because there doesn’t seem to be any particular reason. We came because of my father’s business. I have no idea what drove other people to come here.”
At this point, Hei noticed a sudden change in his environment. The colour was rapidly fading away.
‘The time has come, huh? Sigh. It’s a good thing I spoke with Little Bai and Mei earlier.’
He tried once more to find the cause, but nothing notable came up. And it seemed those three fellows from earlier had stopped trying to tamper with the formations.
Just before all of the colour faded, Hei recalled something from the past.
[I suggest you live as safe a life as possible.]
[You could wait for me to have the system recognise your new location.]
[Once again, I’m sorry for dragging you into this.]
These were snippets of the words Crystalia had said to him on the day she had sent him to this world.
‘Why am I remembering this now?’
The way these sections were extracted and put together almost felt like a message.
‘Was she here?’
At this point, all of the colour faded, and Hei decided to discard the thought. Whether she had been here or not had no bearing on anything.
He inspected his left arm and was pleased to discover that it was fully recovered.
After disengaging the barrier he had put up, he started walking back to where he had left the patriarch’s body.
As he walked by Honghuo, he discovered that the latter was rooted in place.
He sent a message to him using his Qi.
“Wake up. It’s time to move.”
Honghuo was a little disoriented and Yuying noticed the change in Hei.
“Oh? Has the medicine kicked in?”
“Believe what you want.”
As he watched Heihuo walk away, Honghuo was considering whether getting familiar with him was a good idea or not.
Even the most vicious elders in his clan didn’t have such a menacing killing intent, and they had killed thousands. What had this fellow done to develop his to such an extent? And that was the case even when Honghuo wasn’t his target. How horrifying would it have been if it were aimed at him?
No wonder the fellow needed suppressants.
He disengaged his own barrier and the party moved back to the previous location.