Now that things had calmed down, Hei took a moment to notice how accurate the cat’s guidance was.
‘Perhaps its usefulness doesn't end here.’
Hei was thinking that this cat would be useful in this operation.
What he wanted to do, wasn’t just dissolving Jingfei’s marriage agreement and rescuing her mother. He also wanted to free the sect of the influence of outsiders.
This meant he needed to uproot the entire Zhu Clan, or at least the troublesome elements, which meant he would be needing to find many individuals, who may or may not be at the Zhu Clan’s main residence.
With the information he had gained from interrogating one of the men who had attacked him, he knew a lot of the structure of the Zhu Clan and their associates.
But this information by itself wasn’t optimal. The information was static, but the people were dynamic.
He had extracted general information on each of his targets’ usual habits, but it didn’t account for spontaneous decisions.
Sure, they may usually be at one location, but it may be the case that they decide to go somewhere else for a few days.
This would hinder Hei’s progress, causing him to lose valuable time.
And in this kind of operation, once he started his offence, he wanted to have it completed in the shortest amount of time possible.
He decided to ask.
“If I were to ask you to find some people, how confident are you in doing so?”
The cat had been looking at the boy, seeing the strange light moving around his body.
Upon hearing Hei’s question, its ears perked up.
It raised its head proudly as it responded.
“As long as it’s under the heavens, I can find anyone, guaranteed!”
It then turned its head and mumbled under its breath.
“Well, there are some limitations…”
But it quickly turned back to Hei and grinned and squinted its eyes as if it hadn’t said any of that.
Hei decided to ignore the small print.
He used his Qi to write down some information about each of his targets in the air.
“Can you find these people?”
The cat scanned through the information before responding.
“Ordinarily, I would say it’s not a problem, but it would require me leaving the forest.”
The cat waited for a response, but Hei said nothing.
“And hard work does work up an appetite, doesn’t it?”
It leaned its head over Hei’s shoulder, looking at his hand.
Still, Hei said nothing.
“And what with the wife and kids-”
Seeing that the cat was about to go down this road again, Hei flicked his finger and a natural treasure flew to his shoulder.
After seeing it, the cat’s eyes sparkled and it opened its mouth, catching the natural treasure, which landed perfectly on its tongue.
“One person, one treasure.”
The cat was ecstatic. It knew it the moment Hei had responded to its initial words of ‘a little something to eat’ with a natural treasure.
He really was a goldmi- a good client.
“It’s a pleasure doing business with you, Mister.”
Hei wasn’t bothered by the cat’s high prices.
Now that he had this strange cat who seemed to have a good system for locating people, he wouldn’t have to go through the trouble of finding them himself.
And besides that, even without Tianlan, his luck alone had him stumble across many natural treasures. He wasn’t lacking in resources at all.
After having established their collaboration, Hei watched in silence as the light moved around the boy’s body.
After the boy’s external wounds were completely healed, the light re-emerged from his body and returned to a ring he was wearing around his.
This time, the light was dimmer than it had been before entering his body. It seemed a price had to be paid to save his life.
‘Didn’t notice? Or ignoring me?’
After noticing that the light paid him no attention, Hei started to wonder how that young lady had been able to detect his presence back when he had followed Yuke.
Even throughout the entire fight with the old man, neither he nor the boy had discovered Hei’s presence.
‘Perhaps it’s a technique she trained in.’
He decided he would ask her later. It would be beneficial to know where his concealment was flawed.
After the light had returned to the ring, the boy showed no signs of movement. He was breathing normally and there were no signs of his life being in danger, but he didn’t wake up.
It wasn’t until an entire night had passed and the sun had risen that he woke up.
Upon waking up, the boy checked his condition and realised that he had been saved by someone.
After checking the ring around his neck, he had a guilty expression for a while, before taking up his sword and turning to leave.
Hei jumped down from the tree and revealed his presence as he walked slowly towards the body of the older man.
The cat stayed behind on the tree branch.
After sighing and shaking his head, Hei turned to the boy, who had now turned to him.
He spoke with a calm tone, and a voice that wasn’t his own.
“You think you can kill my Zhu Clan’s people and get away with it?”
He was using his Qi to replicate the voice of the man he had interrogated.
The boy, having thought he had already settled this matter, spoke with a frustrated voice.
“Is that all you Zhu Clan can say?”
Hei placed his arms behind his back.
“If I do not kill you today, I’m not surnamed Zhu.”
The boy sighed as he drew his sword.
“Then, I guess your surname isn’t Zhu.”
‘That one can be considered slightly sharp.’
“I’ll cut off that sharp tongue of yours.”
“Then draw your weapon.”
‘What kind of foolishness?’
This kind of unnecessary self-endangerment was something Hei had seen a lot of in the web novels he had read. Only a main character could spew such nonsense.
He decided to use a line he had seen a few times.
“I don’t want people accusing me of bullying the weak.”
He knew there was one thing main characters loved to do. And that was slapping the faces of those who underestimated them.
Even his own goofy self enjoyed doing the same thing.
And he wasn’t wrong.
“Weak? I’ll show you who the weak one is!”
The boy dashed in and used a sword move against Hei.
As the sword approached, Hei’s danger detection ability kicked in and it was slowed to a crawl.
He easily evaded the sword using minimal movements.
The boy was unperturbed by his failed attack. If it was that easy to defeat members of the Zhu Clan, he wouldn’t have to pick them off one by one.
He stopped the motion of his sword, quickly changing its direction, heading towards Hei once more.
A similar scene occurred.
No matter how many times the boy tried to attack, Hei would always easily avoid it.
After a while, the boy became frustrated. His enemy hadn’t launched a single attack. Clearly, he didn’t see him as a worthy opponent.
Hei was disappointed by what he was seeing.
He had expected the boy to have improved a little bit after that near-death experience. Many main characters would have a random comprehension or some other jump in strength after having gone through such an ordeal.
He decided to see if anger would do the trick.
“‘Brother… Brother… My brother will come to save me.’ That’s what that little girl said, even as she slipped into death’s embrace. Pathetic.”
Hei was taking a bit of a gamble here.
He didn’t know what the exact situation was, but through the little snippets of information he had gotten from the missing disciples, he came to the conclusion that this boy’s sister had been a victim of the kidnappings.
After these words, the boy suddenly stopped attacking.
‘Missed the mark?’
Hei was thinking his gamble had failed. Maybe his words were too far from the actual events to have any impact, and instead had the opposite effect of lessening the boy’s resolve.
But then, the boy’s body burst into flames.
His body emitted immense heat as he turned a hateful gaze to Hei.
His sword also turned fiery as he pointed it towards Hei.
Hei waited for the boy to continue his speech, but he noticed his danger detection ability activating.
‘A ranged attack?’
This was more like it. Hei wanted to see useful abilities like this. A ranged attack that even he couldn’t see clearly at first.
He dodged the attack and behind him, the trees started to burn.
Seeing this, the cat decided to move back a little.
His sneak attack having failed, the boy clicked his tongue and immediately went in for a sword swing.
This time, his attacks were much faster than before.
But Hei was still able to avoid them with ease.
As time passed, the boy’s attacks became more and more furious. Their speed increased, the heat he was giving off also increased, and the forest around them caught on fire.
‘Maybe this was a bit much.’
Hei realised that he had been slightly reckless in his provocation. It was possible that this situation couldn’t be rectified with the truth.
If he had done too much and caused the boy to have a distaste for him, this would have all have been a waste of time.
This was the only thing his mother hadn’t taught him.
‘To be fair, it’s my own goofy self’s fault.’
It wasn’t that his mother hadn’t tried. But his goofy self was extremely opposed to going outside, where all the other people were.
Eventually, the boy’s eyes turned red and he launched his final attack.
As he said these words, a ring of fire expanded from his feet stretching out to the surroundings, instantly scorching the earth and reducing the trees to ashes.
The boy swung down with his sword using all of his strength.
This move would determine the outcome of the fight.
Hei watched as the sword approached.
He used his own voice to speak this time.
He raised his hand, and as he did, black flames emerged from all over his body and expanded across the ground, fully encompassing the range of the boy's damage.
As the black flames came into contact with the boy’s attack, the boy's attack was immediately extinguished.
The section of the forest that had been burnt, was cooled down and the boy’s sword stopped abruptly before being lit by the black flames, which travelled down it, and swallowed him.
The boy thought he was done for, but to his surprise, the black flames didn’t cause him any pain. And as they settled down, he could see that his sword had been caught by Hei’s bare hand.
The boy was shocked. Utterly speechless.
When had such an expert appeared in the Zhu Clan?
The only one he was apprehensive of, was the Zhu Clan’s patriarch. But it seemed there were hidden experts everywhere.
Having exhausted all of his energy, he fell to his knees, looking up at Hei’s mask that showed nothing of the person behind it.
He could only stare, mouth agape and eyes wide at the person who had effortlessly reduced all of his work these past few months to nothing.
Hei looked down at the boy and spoke.
“I told you. If I do not kill you today, I’m not surnamed Zhu.”
The boy looked into the abyss-like eyes of the mask Hei was wearing.
He knew his time was up.
Even the spirit who had been guiding him on his journey could not help him at this point. It had already been exhausted after it saved his life earlier.
All he could do was ask his family for forgiveness.
“I tried, I really tried. I did the best I could do, but it wasn’t enough.”
He closed his eyes in resignation.
“I can only hope that when I see you again, you won’t blame me for not avenging you.”
The boy waited for death to come.
But it sure took its time.
He wondered if he had already died as he opened his eyes.
What he saw was the same scene he had seen when he had closed them in the first place.
He cursed his enemy for being so slow as he closed his eyes once more.
Again, nothing happened.
He opened his eyes again, and the same scene was revealed, except, this time, there was a small green cat on the shoulder of his enemy.
The boy blinked his eyes, thinking he was now hallucinating, but the four words his enemy said next left him thoroughly confused.
“I’m not surnamed Zhu.”