78 – Stories of the Past – I
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It was a bloody tale, so I didn't go into too much detail for Xinxin. Instead, I gave her a brief summary.

Back then, I had returned to the Zhan Clan to finish things off, both to settle Xinxin's situation and do what I could to improve my cultivation.

But after making my way through the front gates, it was clear that something else was going on.

Even without me going out of my way to drain their cultivation, the people in the Zhan Clan were dying, having their life force taken away.

And the source of that person... was Xinxin's father.

I didn't know why, but he had activated a formation in a desperate bid to ascend to immortality by sacrificing the entire Zhan bloodline.

There were some parts involved about reawakening the True Wood Physique and using it to charge through the Door of Immortality... but it was a plan doomed to failure.

After all, that Goddess wouldn't just sit there and allow such an easy loophole.

Divine retribution fell upon the clan. At first, just tribulation lightning. But as time went on and the formation reached out, angels appeared and started hunting people down.

I took care of them of course. It'd be dumb not to take what was presented to me, and the angels were a great source of energy.

Some other things happened, the angels vanished... and then both Wang Tian and Xinxin showed up.

"...And as for attacking you. Well, I wasn't about to let you die after I went out of my way to keep you safe. So, to trick everybody that might have been watching, I ripped out your heart since I knew you would live and then let that One Tin guy take care of the rest."

"It's Wang Tian."

I nodded. "That's what I said."

Xinxin rolled her eyes and then went quiet, swirling her cup of tea again.

I frowned. "...Are you mad?"

It was a reasonable response.

The point of me returning to the Zhan Clan had been to wipe them out after all... mostly for selfish reasons. The fact that it was already on the verge of destruction when I arrived didn't change my intent.

Xinxin shook her head. "No. I already knew Sifu was a bad person, so that doesn't surprise me."

"...I won't disagree with that."

A person that had taken millions of lives, disregarding whether they were innocent or guilty definitely couldn't be called a good person.

I knew that. Didn't mean that being called that by my beloved disciple didn't sting a bit though.

"It's just... It seems that Goddess has a lot to answer for, doesn't she?"

I nodded. "That's right."

Goddess Serena of Asifant. The one in charge of the current world that was a mix mash of Isekai and Xianxia, that meddlesome woman who tugged at people's fates and allowed tragedy to unfold-

"She's insane. Enough that at times she seems to be two different people." I stared at Xinxin and said, "You especially need to be on your guard."

"Me, Sifu?"

"That's right." I frowned and said, "I'm not too sure what her aspect for being a Goddess is, but she was definitely an indescribable beauty. And since you're as beautiful as you are, she might be jealous. Paired with the fact that you're strong enough to wound and potentially kill her, that Goddess might just try to play some tricks and neutralize you."

Xinxin flinched.

I blinked and then narrowed my eyes. "Xinxin-"

"Elder Sister! Elder Brother!" Erik's voice echoed from the distance.

I glanced towards him to see that guy walking over with his girls trailing after him.

He waved at me and said, "It is time to depart for the conference!"

I glanced back at Xinxin.

She met my gaze and quickly stood up. "W-Well, it seems that we have to get going, Sifu."

"Xinxin. Did that person-"

"I'll keep an eye out. But we have to get going now. It'd be bad if we showed up to the important conference late, wouldn't it?"

I stared at her.

Xinxin stared back.

"...Fine." I finished my tea and stood up. "Let's go."

Rushing wind. A blur of green as the surroundings flew past below and a clear blue sky everywhere else.

Like that, I along with the others headed towards the Ancient Forest in a caravan of fancy wagons enchanted to fly through the air.

Some fancy formations were laid out on the structure of the wagon to deal with the physics of something completely un-aerodynamic traveling at Mach speed.

It wasn't that important for someone like me, especially now that I had recovered most of my wounds and powers, but for other people, I could see how it would be a problem.

The interior of the wagon was fairly straightforward. Although fancy on the outside, it was essentially a giant cube. Some lush silk-cushioned seats lined three of the walls while the third was the door. There were glass windows on each side to show the passing scenery, but the ones on the walls that I wasn't sitting at were covered in silk drapes.

All-in-all, a plush and comfortable compartment if I was alone, and even though I wasn't, still roomy enough to not feel claustrophobic.

An awkward atmosphere was filling the compartment, but I decided to ignore it for the moment and look out my window.

In front of this magical flying caravan, there was a grand palanquin adorned with gold leaf, silk curtains, precious jade, and other impractical precious materials.

For each yoke, there was a disciple on a flying sword carrying it on their back.

As for the important person that they were escorting, it was none other than my dear disciple.

Apparently, the plan was to have Xinxin arrive with the grandeur and mystique that someone called the Heaven Seizer was supposed to possess. As a result, they had dressed up a fancy box, sent out their top four disciples, and even attached an imposing banner with the characters 'Heaven' and 'Grasp' written on it.

From my perspective, I had to grudgingly admit that it was pretty well executed.

The palanquin's windows were covered in thin drapes that hid Xinxin's features but showed her lovely silhouette.

It was enough that anybody would be curious about the person hidden inside.

Of course, I would have preferred just showing up with Xinxin in a dramatic fashion and letting loose my killing intent, but that plan had been vetoed by my beloved disciple, her sword maid (Titania), her secretary (Erik), Aria, and pretty much everyone involved.

So here I was instead, sitting in a flying wagon with Aria to my right, Titania to my left, and the resident demons of the Heaven-Seizing Dragon Sect across from me.

Titania sighed and brushed a strand of her hair out from her face. Glancing at me, she said, "Care to remind me again why I must ride in a wagon with you of all people?"

I leaned back in my chair and shrugged. "Blame my beloved disciple's secretary."

Titania frowned. "She has no- Ah. You mean Erik."

I nodded. "That's right. If I had my way I'd meet you all there, but..."

Again, another idea vetoed.

Apparently, Xinxin was afraid I'd get into something troublesome if I went by myself.

Considering everything that had happened before, I was inclined to believe her, so I decided to go with the flow for once.

Titania nodded and then looked to our fellow passengers.

I followed her gaze.

Nero and his younger sister Eve, the troublesome girl I ran across while out in the sect, were seated directly across from us. To the seats on their right, our left, were Eris and Moros, the Ruby and Cobalt Archfiends of the Demon Realm.

I frowned.

It was an intelligent decision. After all, other than Xinxin, I was the strongest person in our travel group.

Considering Titania and Aria being the remaining members of Alvheim's royal family as well as the demons being party to whatever scheme the Goddess was planning, I was the best person to keep around in order to ensure everyone's safety.

It was annoying.

However, it was necessary. So I'd just have to deal with it.

Titania shook her head and then leaned against the side of the wagon, closing her eyes.

Seeing her sister do that, Aria looked at me and then leaned against my side, closing her eyes as well.

We had only just set off a few minutes ago, so we still had at least an hour to go before we had to get off.

Titania and Aria might be content to sleep, but I didn't have that luxury.

Eris, the crimson haired demoness, glanced at me and then at Aria, a puzzled look on her face. It was clear that she was curious, but at the same time, she had enough tact to keep that curiosity to herself.

I appreciated that. However-

"You got stronger."

...Someone else didn't have that tact.

Eve stared at me, her crimson eyes sharp, as if trying to analyze my secrets.

"If that's what you think, I won't correct you." I leaned forward and said, "As for you... Have you learned your lesson about not causing trouble for people since the last time we met?"

"If you mean whether I was trapped in a building with nothing to do but train and listen to my aunt and uncle patronize me, then yes."

Nero cut in and said, "That was for your own good, Eve. If something happened to you-"

"It would cause an unprecedented continental disaster." Eve rolled her eyes and said, "I'm well aware, Brother."

"...As long as you are." Nero looked to me and bowed his head. "And apologies for my sister again, Miss Faith's Sifu."

I nodded. "It's fine. Little girls like her always get wrapped up in trouble anyway."

"A little girl!?" Eve bristled and said, "I am not-!"

Eris waved her hand. "That's enough out of you for now, Missy."

Mana rippled and then wrapped around Eve's mouth. The young demoness glared at Eris and opened her mouth to talk. But despite her lips moving, no words came out. Realizing that, Eve pouted and crossed her arms, sitting back in her chair.

I shook my head, silently thankful that Xinxin never acted that petulant and that I didn't have any younger siblings.

Eris looked over to me and said, "She's still learning proper etiquette."

"I can see that."

Eve glared at me.

I raised an eyebrow and sent a bit of killing intent her way.

The young demoness flinched and quickly averted her gaze.

I sighed. This was going to be a long plane... or rather, wagon ride.

Eris bowed her head and said, "Thank you for understanding, Miss Faith's Sifu."

I paused and glanced over at her. "You all keep calling me that... but who's Miss Faith?"

"Hm?" Nero tilted his head and said, "She's your disciple, the Heaven Seizer." He paused, a bit of sweat starting to show on his forehead. "...Don't tell me I've gotten it wrong this whole time?"

I thought that over a bit.

Faith... If Xinxin's name was written out in characters, it was definitely possible to read it as faith.

I hadn't realized it, but that was definitely a strange coincidence. Did her parents anticipate the hard future she would face? Or maybe that Goddess thought it'd be amusing to turn that name into cruel irony...

"U-Um. Miss Faith's Sifu, sir?"

I looked up to see Nero panicking.

The white-haired young man was paler than usual and glancing to his side at Eris. As for her, the crimson haired demoness was lightly tapping her forearm.

At that rate, it seemed to me that Eve wasn't the only one who would be having remedial lessons in etiquette so I decided to correct the misunderstanding. "No, you have it right. It's just odd to hear since I never call her that."

Nero let out a sigh of relief. "That's good."

At that time, Moros spoke up. The blue-haired older demon leaned in and said, "Speaking of names... I hope you do not mind, but is there a proper way to address you, Sir?"

Eris nodded and said, "Yes. I would hate for us to slight you during the conference due to our ignorance."

"A name..." I paused and considered it. "Well, the name I gave myself when appearing in this world was 'Nowun', so that's as fine as any."

A name that wasn't a name.

Just like how I had become a person that wasn't a person.

Eris blinked and said, "No one?"

I nodded. "I threw my past and identity away, so names aren't that important. It's fine to just call me that if you want to address me. Well, as long as you don't plan to fight."

Moros let out a bitter laugh. "Considering how well that turned out for us the last time... I believe you need not worry."

"So long as that's clear."

A silence fell in the compartment again, though not quite as tense and awkward as the first one.

Seeing that, I glanced over at Aria to check on her.

Did she sense my gaze? Aria opened her eyes and smiled before shifting a bit and leaning on my shoulder again.

I sighed and muttered, "You really have no sense of caution with me around, don't you?"

At that time, I noticed Nero staring at Aria with a frown on his face.

I frowned and stared at him.

Nero noticed and shook his head. "I didn't mean to be rude, Sifu Nowun. But that elf woman... Is she Miss Titania's sister?" Saying that, Nero glanced over at Titania.

"Ah!" Aria sat up and said, "You know my sister?"

Nero coughed and glanced at Titania again. "It's a... There is a unique shared history between us, yes."

A unique shared history...? Ah, right. That guy had fought in the tournament where Titania was set to be the winner's prize.

I thought about bringing it up to ask for more details, but before I could a booming laugh echoed.

Moros grinned and said, "That's one way to put it, Nero. What demon alive hasn't heard of the infamous Frosty B-"

Eris coughed and glanced at Titania.

The eldest elf princess still had her eyes closed and seemed fast asleep. Her breathing was regular she didn't move when called out. However, the twitching of her ears betrayed her, showing that she was definitely listening.

"...Witch," Moros said. "Frosty Witch."

Aria tilted her head, confused. "The Frosty Witch?" She turned to look at Titania.

Of course, since Titania had feigned being asleep, she couldn't just get up now.

"Well!" Aria smiled and said, "Since Tani's sleeping, could you tell me what you know about her? She doesn't like talking about her past very much, so I'm curious to hear about what she was like."

Titania's ears twitched again.

I smiled and leaned forward. "That's right. I'm curious too... And we've got some time to kill."

Moros coughed and quickly averted his gaze.

Nero flinched and pretended to be extremely interested at what was outside the window.

Eve was still under the spell, so she couldn't say anything.

That left Eris.

The Ruby Archfiend stared at Titania for a bit and then a sly smile crossed her face. She turned to Aria and said, "Well, Miss Aria. As we said, your eldest sister has quite the reputation back in the Demon Realm. You see, back during our current Demon Lord's coronation..."

Not much on my mind today for this chapter. Thanks for reading!