Seeing that the minds of the two were quite narrow, Hei decided to show them a different perspective.
“When you refute the idea that demonic qi is a mutation caused by the evil within one’s heart, you are assuming that one must be evil in nature in order to commit evil acts. That isn’t necessarily the case. For example, if your mother were to be placed on one side of a scale, and one thousand strangers were placed on the other side, and you had to chose one side to remove from the scale, casting the other side into a pit of lava, which would you choose?”
“Of course, I would choose my mother.”
Hei nodded his head. His answer was the same.
“But in that case, you have murdered 1000 people, putting you above many heartless criminals.”
Xiaoli responded followed by Jing’er.
“But… there isn’t any choice.”
“Exactly. How can one be expected to choose the lives of strangers over the life of one’s mother?”
Hei switched the scenario.
“Then what if it were 500 strangers on one side and 1000 strangers on the other?”
“Then the 1000.”
Again, this was the answer most people would choose.
“But then, you have murdered 500 people.”
“… But we have saved 1000.”
“Mm. It’s the greater good.”
Hei nodded his head.
“It’s as you say, but do you think the families of those 500 will see it that way? That you saved more people, thus making the right choice?”
The two remained silent.
“I’m afraid, you would be bombarded with words along the lines of, Why did you kill my mother? My brother died because of you! You should have killed yourself instead! And so on and so forth. What would you say to those people? That you became a hero by killing their loved ones?”
“From that moment forth, the families of 500 people will have reason to hate you. At that point, you’ll have evil born in the hearts of those who did nothing wrong. And a fraction of those will act on that hate, committing evil acts in the process.”
“Yes, you had little choice in the matter, you tried to do what was right, you chose the lesser of two evils, but it was still evil. The loved ones of the 500, I’m sure you’ll agree, also had no choice in feeling resentment towards you. And a few of those people acted maliciously on that resentment. True, they committed evil acts, but can one truly say they are evil?”
Xiaoli and Jing’er didn’t expect things to progress like this. Whatever choice they made, there would be people who were hurt by it. In that case, where was the justice? Of course, they would still choose to save the 1000.
Hei watched as they seemed to be deep in thought.
“You don’t need to think about it too hard, it’s just a hypothetical situation. But in that situation, you can see how demonic cultivators could possibly emerge without the influence of an external entity such as Azroth.”
“Mm. I never thought about it like that.”
“It makes a lot more sense now.”
Auntie Yimin smiled as she saw these kids broaden their horizons.
While the Zhu Clan primarily taught the legend of Azroth as the cause of demonic cultivators, they were not opposed to the disciples learning about the other side of the coin. It would be up to each individual to decide what they believed for themselves.
After a while of letting them sort their thoughts, she got back to the original issue.
“To bring something like this to my Zhu Clan. We can’t thank you enough.”
The return of Lady Shufang’s Evil Slaying. It was a pivotal moment for the Zhu Clan. From now on, they could perform their main purpose of demon slaying much more effectively. They wouldn’t even need to ask questions before launching their attacks because there would be zero chance of harming innocents.
And they would now have more time to nurture the minds of the juniors, who could potentially make improvements on this technique and, as a result, better prepare themselves for the eventual return of Azroth.
That being said, with them being in the eastern world, how much of a role they would play was something they would have to find out when the time came.
But it was always better to be prepared.
“Name any reward you want, and we’ll be sure to do everything in our power to grant it to you. I’m sure the patriarch will also agree once he sees these. But we’ll have to test them first.”
“There is no need for a reward. I created these techniques at Miss Xiaoli’s request. I just hope it will help to solve the problem.”
These words weren’t Hei’s true thoughts at all. He would surely get what he wanted, he just wouldn’t ask for it. The Zhu Clan would gladly give it to him of their own accord.
Auntie Yimin didn’t quite understand what his words meant, and before she could, he dropped a bomb.
“As for your patriarch, he is no longer of this world.”
Both Auntie Yimin and Jing’er exclaimed in surprise.
“Your jokes are quite inappropriate, young man. You shouldn’t say such things.”
“That’s right! Don’t curse my father with your words!”
Hei turned to Xiaoli, who had her head down.
“The truth of my words can be confirmed by Miss Xiaoli.”
Auntie Yimin and Jing’er turned to Xiaoli, Jing’er speaking first.
“Tell me this is nonsense, Xiaoli!”
Jing’er walked up to her and grabbed her by the shoulders.
“Xiaoli! The joke has gone on long enough! It’s not funny!”
Xiaoli looked up to him, tears welling up in her eyes.
Jing’er’s eyes opened wide.
“Xiaoli… It’s a joke. Isn’t it?”
At this point, even he didn’t believe his own words. His arms dropped from her shoulders, and tears started to form in his own eyes.
But before the tears could fall, he sharpened eyes.
“Who did it?”
Xiaoli was surprised by the sudden change in Jing’er, but Jing’er wasn’t happy with her lacking response. His emotions were all over the place right now, but anger had the advantage.
His hands latched back onto Xiaoli’s shoulders, tightly gripping them.
“It hurts, Jing’er.”
Pain signals shot up from her shoulders as they were crushed under Jing’er’s vice-like grip. But Jing’er didn’t pay any mind to her words.
“TELL ME WHO KILLED MY FATHER!”
Hei noticed that Xiaoli was unable to respond, possibly due to the pain she was experiencing. That, or she was unwilling, but either way, he didn’t care for this scene to continue.
“Your father left this for you.”
Among the information jades Hei obtained from the patriarch, there was one he didn’t have any use for. It’s contents began with: To my beloved son, Jing.
Hei threw the information jade over to Jing’er, who immediately released Xiaoli’s shoulders and caught the information jade.
He was instantly able to tell that it was indeed something that belonged to his father because of the unique imprint that was placed on it.
As he sent his spiritual perception into the jade, he was met with the voice of his father, who explained everything to him. Of how he had found himself stuck at the peak of the transcendent realm for many years and was only able to break through after treading on the demonic path.
How after becoming a demonic cultivator, he learnt that it was his own brothers who had been poisoning him slowly to prevent him from surpassing them that caused him to be unable to break through, and how those very same brothers came to him and proposed he join them at the sect, abound with demonic cultivators.
Of how his clan had been taken hostage, forcing him to commit several heinous acts, including the destruction of an innocent clan.
And finally, entrusting his son with the responsibility of freeing the Zhu Clan from the clutches of evil once he had gained enough strength.
As Jing’er listened to his father tell him how proud of him he was, and how he loved him, he could no longer restrain his tears.
“Jing’er. Are you alright?”
Xiaoli and Auntie Yimin tried to comfort him, but Jing’er shook his head and forced a smile.
He patted Xiaoli’s shoulders.
“I’m sorry for being rough with you just now, Xiaoli.”
He then turned to Auntie Yimin and clasped his fist.
“I’ll be taking my leave, Auntie Yimin.”
“I’ll be okay.”
Jing’er walked alone in the hallway, his footsteps echoing loudly, as he went to the stairs.
One could see the pain and loneliness he was feeling upon gazing at his back as he walked unsteadily, using the handrail to support himself.
Jing’er himself departed, however, he left a trail of water drops behind.
Auntie Yimin turned to Xiaoli.
“Xiaoli. Why didn’t you tell me this earlier?”
“… I didn’t want to make anyone sad.”
Auntie Yimin could see that Xiaoli was also deeply affected by this. She and Jing’er had been close friends ever since they could both walk.
She now knew why Xiaoli had been acting strangely. It couldn’t have been easy to see Jing’er’s happiness as he talked about his father and his fiancee, all the while knowing that tragedy had already struck.
She brought Xiaoli in for a hug as she turned to the boy, wanting to ask for more of the details.
Except, he had already disappeared, the door to the study already closed.
“… With this timing?”
Seeing as she couldn’t get answers straight away, Auntie Yimin put her focus on Xiaoli.
Hei returned to the desk and continued his work as if all of that didn’t just happen.
“Jeez, Partner, you’re so cold. Don’t you think Auntie Yimin would have a few questions to ask?”
“She can ask Miss Xiaoli. She should be capable of answering them sufficiently.”
“But what about her emotional state? She’s much more attached to this than you are. How could you leave it to her?”
Yuying thought about it for a moment. Her business partner was acting the same way he always had.
“It's probably because your heart has a layer of oil around it, huh?”
“How does one’s emotional state affect one’s ability to answer questions?”
“… That poor girl.”
Hei didn’t think this was any kind of significant matter, but his partner’s opinion seemed to differ.
“Should I go back out there?”
“Ah. Save it. It’ll just be weird now.”
“Anyway, what are you working on now?”
“A cultivation technique.”
“You’re really going to make one?”
“Just for me?”
“When did I say that? This technique is for the benefit of my people.”
“Aw. You made it sound as if you were going to create a cultivation technique for me.”
“Are you discontent with Elemental Foundations? Is there somewhere it’s lacking?”
“Elemental Foundations? Well, it’s pretty basic, but it’s also solid. There’s no real issue with it. It’s a good technique.”
“To want even more beyond that, I’m afraid becoming a fat donkey isn’t too far off.”
“You dare to bring that up again?”
“I am merely letting you know my concerns, Partner. Being overly ambitious may come back to bite you.”
“… Let me worry about that. I’ll make sure to follow a proper diet and exercise plan.”
“I’m not sure how that relates to what we were speaking about, but I believe that would be a good idea. However, you should be careful not to overdo it. I’ve heard that young ladies tend to be overburdened by pressures to conform to certain standards. Know that no matter how you change, you will always be your father’s little princess and that’s all that matters. Don’t mind the words and opinions of those who don’t have your best interests at heart.”
Yuying wasn’t expecting the random advice. It seemed her business partner had seen a few things in his life.
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
Then she smiled mischievously.
“So, do you have my best interests at heart?”
It would be troublesome if Miss business partner fell into poor health. Then Hei would either have to take over the business himself, which he wasn’t inclined to do, or he would have to close it, which would result in it having been a waste of time.
Either way, it wouldn’t be the optimal outcome.
Yuying would have liked to believe that his words came from the heart, but she was fairly confident he was only thinking of the benefits and detriments, rather than wishing her well for the sake of her well-being.
At least it was better than the flowery words that the others spoke. Would they care for her in her time of sickness if she were to lose her looks? How many of those merchants’ sons would send her well wishes if her face was burned in a fire?
She would bet that it was none of them.
Sure, they may give her a few words of consolation to show respect to her father, but they would disappear after that.
But with her business partner; perhaps he would give her a call, and ask where his money was. She would let him know that she had been in a terrible fire, ruining her beauty, and that she had been unable to operate the business properly. He wouldn’t be too upset about the lost revenue, because he was a fat sheep, and speaking in his usual tone, he would tell her that she was still the same old donkey in his eyes, being completely serious all the while. He would then reveal that he was a genius at alchemy on top of everything else and whip up a few medicinal pills for her. Finally, after she was all better, he would tell her to get back to work and give him his money on time next time…
Hmm... Perhaps the flowery words were also okay…