“Evil Slaying? What’s that?”
Hei had been working hard on his first task, to create a method to detect demonic cultivators, when Onyx suddenly popped up.
“Haha. To see this again. It’s been a long time.”
“You haven’t answered my question, Onyx.”
“Hold your horses for a moment. Can’t a fellow reminisce?”
“You are free to do as you please, but don’t involve me if it isn’t necessary.”
“Alright, alright. But you need to loosen up, man. Being so uptight all the time isn’t good for anyone.”
“You should already be aware that I’m not like this at all times.”
“Yeah. About that…”
“No comment. Now, Evil Slaying. Care to explain?”
“Right. It’s a technique created by Little Fang’er, way back when.”
“Who is Little Fang’er?”
“The same Lady Shufang that was mentioned before?”
“I doubt it. She was from a Zhu Clan in the middle continent. These lower continent fellows probably don’t have any relation. Besides, she didn’t have any descendent's from what I know. Though, maybe that girl was doing things in the dark. Hoho.”
“Then, what relevance does this Zhu Shufang hold? Are you saying that her Evil Slaying is similar to my formation?”
Hei had been working on this formation making use of some insights he got from using Heavenly Revocation on the patriarch. He particularly focused on the reaction his arm had with the spirit roots of a demonic cultivator and was trying to replicate the effect.
This would prove tremendously beneficial to him whenever facing a demonic cultivator, as it would allow him to disable them without suffering the usual backlash from heavenly revocation.
The only downsides were that the formation was only effective against demonic cultivators and that he wouldn’t be able to take the cultivator’s spirit roots through it. But he could always follow up with Heavenly Revocation if necessary.
When one considered the next stage of the operation, it was easy to see how creating this battle formation was a very good use of time.
It was interesting that Onyx had seen something similar to this battle formation elsewhere.
“To be more precise, this looks very similar to the blueprint Leader gave her. She took that and transformed it into a combat technique, which she named The Righteous Sword: Evil Slaying. The only thing was, in order to use that technique, one required-”
The last words were spoken by both at the same time.
““Earth element spirit roots.””
Onyx was surprised.
“How did you know that?”
“I was also thinking about creating a battle technique. But with such limited usability, it may not be worth the time.”
“Oh, it most definitely is. The reason Fang’er was able to gain the title of Demon’s Bane is because of her self-created technique, Evil Slaying. You don’t know just how effective it is against demonic cultivators. The battle formation pales in comparison.”
“Mm. If the battle formation slices through demonic cultivators like a hot knife through butter, then the combat technique is like cutting the air itself, there’s no resistance. Though, results may vary.”
“And not to mention, the formation needs to be connected to the ground in order to activate, no? That further limits its use in aerial combat. The battle technique doesn’t have that limitation.”
“You’ve made your point…”
“Furthermore, the battle formations all but telegraph that something special is about to happen. The combat technique, on the other hand, allows…”
At this point, Hei stopped listening and continued in his work. It seemed Onyx could stand to gain from observing Miss business partner. After she made her point, she would stop talking.
Perhaps Onyx had been missing conversation these past few months.
“And that’s not even the best part. Once she merged her technique with her sword intent, she managed to…”
Hei continued to ignore Onyx and worked at a steady pace.
The problem he was currently facing was as Onyx described. The battle formation needed to be activated while the cultivator was on the ground, otherwise, it would be unable to function, severely limiting its use against those at the minute realm or above.
That was, of course, unless one was an earth element cultivator.
Earth element cultivators had an internal environment which was very similar to that which could be found in the earth beneath them. Due to that, they could supply the crucial element for formations, which was earth nodes, even when they weren’t on the ground.
Through studying Heavenly Bestowal and Heavenly Revocation, Hei discovered that there was something in his body that wasn’t there prior. Something very similar to earth nodes, but also very different.
He referred to them as sky nodes because of the source, that is, the Heavens, and was fairly confident that it was the rain which the Heavens poured on him that added these things to him.
As he observed these sky nodes, which were able to transform his arms into something immaterial, or at least, something that seemed to only interact with spirit roots, he wondered if earth nodes could be used in a similar way.
The reason this thought came about was that he noticed that whenever the Heavens acted, the sky would dim, then the earth would shake. This led Hei to believe that the Heavens and the earth had a connection, and so, he started studying earth nodes in hopes of discovering something similar to the techniques he was granted.
He didn’t know if it was because he was in the body of an envoy of the heavens, or if it was because of his high affinity with the energy source of the world, which was granted by Crystalia, but he was almost able to speak with the earth nodes. That was how effortless it felt to learn about them, and it wasn’t long before they revealed to him a little taste of their capabilities.
Thus the battle formation was born.
“Your sword sure is talkative, Partner.”
“Technically speaking, he’s a shield.”
“… Sure. Anyway, I just so happened to overhear a bit of your conversation. Could it be that this technique is somehow related to Demon’s Bane.”
“You also know of her?”
“Who doesn’t? In the middle continent, there are a few names that no one is unaware of, and Lady Shufang is one of them.”
“Is that so?”
Hei went back to his work after the brief interruption.
Eventually, he had finished up the battle formation. Its effect was to create a sword hilt out of earth element qi. This hilt would have earth nodes embedded into it, and as long as the cultivator maintained contact with the ground, the earth nodes would create an ethereal sword, which was highly effective against demonic cultivators.
Against anyone else, the sword would not interact with them whatsoever, and only the hilt was able to be touched, but when it came into contact with demonic qi, or demonic spirit roots… let’s just say the two couldn’t exist under the same sky.
That being the case, each sword was a single-use item and would disappear once its work was done. Hei knew this because he had tested it on the spirit roots he had taken from the men who attacked him at the start of the mission. Interestingly, they became soul essences in the process.
As for the problem of being tethered to the ground, he put it to the side, for now, settling for the make-shift solution of using the formation to create a stockpile of hilts which could be stored for later use. It wasn’t the best, but he didn’t have enough time to solve all of the inconveniences.
Now was the time to create the combat technique.
Yuying noticed that he was moving on to another project.
“Are you making the combat technique now?”
Generally, she wouldn’t disturb her partner while he was working, but this had to do with Demon’s Bane. How could she not be interested?
“You know… I also have earth element spirit roots…”
“Mm. Peerless grade, if I recall correctly.”
Yuying smiled brightly. He remembered, which meant he also knew what she was hinting at. She waited for him to address it, but back to work he went.
She watched him for a little while longer, Onyx’s reminiscence still audible in the background, before she decided to speak up.
“So, I was just wondering. Would you let me learn it?”
“For the right price.”
Yuying wasn’t expecting this response. She had assumed that their relationship was good enough that he would give her gifts from time to time. After thinking about it, she shook her head. He wasn’t like the others.
“Of course you say that… That’s what makes you you.”
“Don’t mention it. Anyone else would do the same. Isn’t it natural for business partners to collaborate? I won’t keep this technique from you if you can benefit from it. There’s no need to return the favour.”
Yuying was befuddled. How did he spin it into a situation where she was surprised that he was willing to conduct trade with her? And what favour? She was paying for it! What was going on in this fellow’s head?
Yuying smiled. There was no one else quite like this fellow.
“Can I get it on credit?”
“Sure. But remember. I know where you live.”
“… And what if I move back home? Will you come clawing at my door?”
“In the event that you flee without paying the agreed upon price, I have my means to locate you.”
Yuying smiled mischievously.
“Oh? All the way in the middle continent?”
“Indeed. Upon discovering your whereabouts, I’ll take your house, your door, and your father and his businesses, as well as any workers you have at your home. I will also locate your mother and capture her. If the price isn’t covered by that, then I will take your legs, and put you to work until the debt is paid in full.”
Yuying’s eyes blinked a few times as she replayed the words in her mind. How were such vicious words spoken so nonchalantly? It was as if he had gone through this process multiple times and had even performed some fine tuning.
Her silence brought out further words from her partner.
“Of course, all of this depends on how much interest you would have accrued at the time.”
Yuying didn’t know whether she should speak or not, but she did anyway.
“You’re going to charge interest?”
“Relax. It was a joke.”
Yuying breathed a huge sigh of relief, but then she thought of something.
“Wait… which part?”
“There won’t be any interest.”
Okay. It was time to pull the plug. This fellow was insane. She never should have gotten involved with this mess. She apologised to her father in her mind, for she had been too anxious to impress him. But she ended up bringing a calamity to their home instead. Not only that, but she had also put her mother in harm's way.
Needless to say, she wouldn’t be touching his technique with a ten-foot pole, much less working in collaboration with him to bring life-style movie jades to the world.
She was about to tell him this but he spoke first.
“I take it you haven’t seen The Phoenix and The Vermilion Bird.”
“Hm? What’s that?”
“A movie. Those lines came from one of the scenes in it, but you didn’t continue it, so I assume you haven’t seen it. The movie itself isn’t very captivating, but I thought that scene was fairly well done.”
“Quoting movie lines? But it was so specific. You even mentioned my father’s businesses and my mother. Do you expect me to believe that there’s such a convenient movie scene?”
“Ah. I did modify it slightly to make it more applicable. But the taking of the house and the employees, as well as the taking of the legs was unchanged, so it should still be recognisable.”
“You! You’re going to give someone a heart attack!”
If Yuying could grab this fellow’s neck right now, she would make sure to wring him dry. She had surely aged a few years just now.
“Lighten up, Partner. An acquaintance of mine once told me that it’s not good to be uptight all the time.”
“You mean the sword? Did he also tell you to scare people half to death?”
“Sword, Shield, who cares?”
Yuying realised that she was getting worked up, so she took a moment to calm herself.
“Really, Partner. You can’t do this to people.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
‘So, joking with people doesn’t work in real life… A shame.’
Hei was slightly dejected. It seemed he wasn’t any good at making jokes. He would have to practice more.
Yuying was still slightly shaken, so she decided to watch The Phoenix and The Vermilion Bird later. Just in case.
But right now…
“So, why don’t we cut the price in half? You know, emotional trauma and all. I think I’ll have nightmares for a week.”
“That’s simple. Didn’t you say you don’t want to sleep? You can cultivate instead of sleeping for a week. That way, you won’t suffer any nightmares.”
“But I realise that I caused you trouble, so I’m willing to reduce the price by one per cent. You can take this as a token of apology.”
“One per cent? Keep your one per cent!”
“It’s good to see that you have swiftly recovered. Then I won’t force the issue.”
Yuying was perplexed. How had it become a situation where she was offended that he was lowering the price and that he was acquiescing to her insistence?
“You really are an interesting little fellow.”
She tried to place emphasis on the word ‘little’, but of course, Hei didn’t attach any meaning to it.
“You are also somewhat interesting.”
Hei didn’t place emphasis on anything, but of course, Yuying attached a lot of meaning to the word ‘somewhat’.
“It’s fine to have your fun and games, Partner, but I don’t have a lot of time to complete my work. If you could wait until I’m finished, that would be appreciated.”
“Oh, just you wait.”
Sure. She would wait until he was finished. But she would be sure to give him a piece of her mind.
Hei went back to work, and Onyx was still rambling.
“It’s interesting because Fang’er’s Evil Slaying is different from Leader’s. Leader said that the blueprint could be used to create different forms of the technique depending on the will of the user. He ended up naming his version Evil Befall. You can guess where the inspiration came from.”
This time, Hei’s ears picked up on something interesting.
“Different forms of the same technique, depending on will?”
He also practised varying his techniques, but that was for the sake of efficiency. To manifest a different form based on some inner quality of the cultivator was an interesting idea.
“Yeah. I thought it was crazy too, but when you see it with your own eyes, boy is it something.”
“Oh? Tell me more.”