“Puppets? What do you mean by that?”
Hei was now on his way out of the library. He closed the door to the study behind him and took the key, locking it.
“I told you that the Zhu Clan’s gratitude was worth giving them Evil Slaying.”
“To move the puppets is to make use of that gratitude.”
“You’re going to have them work for you?”
“How are you going to get them to do what you want? Doesn’t it depend on if they are willing?”
“They are willing. I can see that much by observing Miss Xiaoli and Auntie Yimin.”
“What do you mean?”
“They don’t seem to be too affected by the patriarch’s death. In order for such a thing to be the case, the fact that he was a demonic cultivator must overwrite their past relationship.”
“It does seem that way, but how do you know they aren’t bottling it inside.”
“Miss Xiaoli’s behaviour seemed a little too authentic for that, don’t you think? It seemed she had forgotten all of her troubles at that time.”
Yuying remembered the events that occurred a while ago. Truthfully speaking, Xiaoli was being quite reckless. Hadn’t she heard all of the warnings? But she chose to ignore them. It was probably the case that she wasn’t too deeply impacted by the events of the day.
“Even if that’s the case, how does it mean they will do what you want them to do?”
“I want them to distract a few demonic cultivators for me. Do you think they would be willing?”
“… I see. They would probably jump on it.”
“I agree. And it’s most likely not just the two of them. From what I know about them, I believe that most of the Zhu Clan would be willing. After all, they had destroyed Honghuo’s clan just on the suspicion of them being demonic cultivators.”
Hei reached the reception area and put the key back where he saw Auntie Yimin take it from, then headed outside.
“Yeah, but that was a mistake in the end, wasn’t it? Don’t you think they’ll learn from their lessons and think more carefully next time?”
“That may have been the case, had I not given them-”
“Evil Slaying! I see it now. So, that was the reason?”
“Oh? Maybe an IOU from me wouldn’t be as useful as that… Wait… doesn’t that mean I’ll have to pay 150 percent?”
“I gave you the opportunity to back out of it.”
“N-nothing's been decided yet. It’s possible that they’ll want to stabilise the situation here first.”
“Is that so?”
Hei walked out of the library, and the scenery outside was eye-catching. High up in the sky, dark clouds were swirling, lightning bolts snaking through them. Every now and then, they would fall to the ground with fearsome might and a thundering roar.
“That should be Auntie Yimin breaking through to the minute realm. What do you think, Partner? How much stabilisation does the Zhu Clan need?”
“… But that’s just one minute realm cultivator. They still lost a few mid-level members to the other boy’s vengeance.”
“Is that so?”
“What? You’ve got even more up your sleeve? You aren’t going to tell me that Xiaoli’s going to break through as well, are you?”
“If that were the full extent of it, I wouldn’t have spent my time to the maximum effect.”
Yuying remained silent as Hei walked over to the place where the disturbance was concentrated.
The Zhu Clan’s ascension hall. Where the members of the Zhu Clan came to face their lightning tribulations with the assistance of the formations and elders.
A little while earlier, a seldom seen figure had come to the ascension hall, lightning warning and all. She was going to break through to the minute realm any minute.
That was Zhu Yimin, who hadn’t been seen outside the library in years.
On this day, the day that the Zhu Clan lost their patriarch and pillar of support, a new pillar rose from the dust, completely unexpected. She even brought the legendary Lady Shufang’s Evil Slaying, which they had already verified to be the genuine article. And on top of that, another transcendent realm cultivator was seen entering the hall not long later, preparing for her breakthrough to the minute realm.
It looked like they would be able to recover before long. But there was still a pressing concern.
Outside of the ascension hall, people waited nervously for the results. If Auntie Yimin were able to break through to the minute realm, then a lot of the problems the Zhu Clan was currently facing would be solved.
The only thing was, everyone knew how touchy Auntie Yimin was. Her temper was extremely easy to ignite, especially for those she wasn’t too familiar with. This resulted in there being a large empty space outside of the ascension hall, with only a few elders who had grown up with her standing ready to greet her.
Even at the peak of the transcendent realm, it would take three people to restrain her when she was on one of her rampages. How much worse would it be once she reached the minute realm?
They just hoped she would somehow be okay, or that Xiaoli would be able to restrain her, but they didn’t have much hope for the second one.
They knew that Xiaoli hadn’t been preparing to enter the minute realm for any considerable amount of time, which meant her tribulation would take longer. By the time she emerged, Auntie Yimin would have already caused enough damage.
As they waited nervously, the doors to the ascension hall opened, and from it a young lady emerged. She was one not many had seen in the Zhu Clan before, as the last time she appeared was almost twenty years ago.
She had on a short robe, barely going past her waist, which left her legs fully revealed, leading the eyes of men to a place they shouldn’t linger. On the upper body, her chest threatened to burst forth and greet the people.
She couldn’t help laughing as she scanned her own appearance through her spiritual perception.
“The girls are back!”
She placed her arms near her diaphragm, further accentuating her chest. It had been a long time since she had a physique like this.
“Let’s see if that old bat dares to show herself in front of me now.”
She recalled the events of the past. A rival in love, who ultimately defeated her.
Thinking back to the last time she saw her, her happy mood improved even further. That man had truly made the wrong choice.
Aside from a short fuse, wasn’t she better in every way?
As she exited the hall, she looked around at the empty space and her happiness vanished without a trace. This was how it had been ever since her condition turned for the worse.
There were only a few familiar faces close by, who couldn’t hide the fear in their eyes.
Her eyes dimmed a little as she saw this.
“It’s alright, I’m not going to-”
She held her hand out, but her old friends took a step back.
Fortunately, there was one who stayed closer than the others.
“Congratulations, Yimin, on your break through to the minute realm!”
The elder clasped his fists, as did the rest and the people around them.
“Congratulations, Elder Yimin!”
It was so distant.
As she felt the excitement form her breakthrough fading away, she realised that her life was the same as before. She was seen as a danger by the people she cared about the most.
Sinking into her thoughts, she failed to realise that she had lost herself.
Her eyes had become cloudy, and her aura started to leak from her body.
“Auntie Yimin is going on a rampage!”
The weaker cultivators in the surroundings didn’t take long to grow panicked. They hurriedly scattered, leaving the place even emptier than it had been before.
Only the ten elders who had awaited her were left in the area, but their faces had all paled.
“What in the world is this? How did Yimin become so powerful? Even the patriarch didn’t have this much strength!”
“We need to restrain her! Quick! Start the battle formations!”
“Battle formations? What good will that do? You know Yimin fights hand-to-hand and doesn’t avoid hits when she’s like this. Do you want to cut her arms off?”
“What choice do we have? Just start the formations. We have to stall for time while Xiaoli breaks through. She’s the only one who has a chance at stopping her.”
A pulse of energy blasted out of Auntie Yimin’s body, blowing the ten elders back, injuring a few at the same time.
“There’s no way. Even with the battle formations, we won’t be able to do anything! We can only evacuate the clan!”
“Did you forget that we’ve been caged in? This is the end!”
The others realised the severity of the situation immediately. There was no saving them at this point.
“The underground chambers! Take the juniors and hide them there! The rest of us will try to hold her back.”
“Your arm is broken, you can’t help here anyway! There’s no time, go!”
One of the elders split off from the group and held his broken arm as he hurried away to collect the juniors. But as he did, he saw someone in the corner of his eye.
“Jing’er! What are you doing here? You need to come with me.”
Jing’er was looking at Auntie Yimin who was releasing a repelling force, pushing everyone away from her.
“I can’t. We need to stop Auntie Yimin before she goes too far.”
“Jing’er! You’re the future of our Zhu Clan. We can’t have you put yourself at risk like this!”
Jing’er shook his head.
“Xiaoli is the future. What will we do if Auntie Yimin attacks her?”
The elder couldn’t respond. It was true. Up until this point, Jing’er had been the most outstanding youth and a sure lock for the leadership position once it was passed down. But now, things were different. Somehow Xiaoli had risen up to become the clan’s second strongest.
“I’ll help. Maybe Auntie will hear me.”
“You can’t, Jing’er. You’re only at the 7th layer. Leave this to us elders. You go and find the rest of the-”
Jing’er unleashed his cultivation, which he had kept suppressed in hopes of surprising his father with a breakthrough to the minute realm.
“The peak? When did you…”
“We don’t have much time. You should find the other juniors.”
Jing’er proceeded towards Auntie Yimin. The elder wanted to hold him back, but Jing’er was now stronger than he was. And If anyone could bring any change to the situation here, it would be Jing’er, who was one of Auntie Yimin’s favourite juniors.
“Okay then, but don’t get yourself hurt, Jing’er.”
Jing’er dashed off to the group of elders who were preparing to face off against Auntie Yimin.
They were surprised to see his arrival and tried to persuade him to leave, but he was adamant about staying, and frankly speaking, they could use the help.
“We don’t want to hurt her. We just need to hold out until Xiaoli finishes her breakthrough. If we work together with her, we should be able to suppress Yimin.”
Everyone acknowledged the objective and spread out, activating the battle formations with Auntie Yimin at the centre.
Jing’er wondered why she hadn’t moved yet. Usually, Auntie Yimin would immediately attack the closest person when she went on one of her rampages, but this time, she was standing still. Only releasing a heavy aura.
“Activate the formations!”
An elder shouted, and all ten people did their part to activate the formations, hoping to be able to restrain Auntie Yimin long enough.
“Stop this Yimin!”
“Mm. We’re all family here, Yimin. There’s no need to be so upset.”
The elders tried to speak some sense into Auntie Yimin, but it didn’t seem to be working.
“Auntie Yimin. You need to stop! You’re going to destroy the clan!”
Jing’er tried to speak to her while she was being suppressed by the formation.
Auntie Yimin finally made a move.
She took a step forward, and as she did, her foot sank into the ground.
A wave of earth rippled out and disrupted the ten people who were maintaining the formation.
With their footing lost, the formations were disengaged.
Jing’er blinked and noticed that an elder had disappeared.
He blinked again, and two more elders were gone.
Once more, and he was the only one remaining.
The last few things he remembered were Auntie Yimin turning to face him, and the feeling that he was about to meet his end.
If he wasn’t mistaken, there was also a slightly familiar voice, but everything turned to black from there.