“Are you a member of the Zhu Clan, or are you from some other organisation?”
This was important to know. If he was from the Zhu Clan itself, then there was a lot of information that could be extracted.
However, if he were from some outside organisation, then Hei would have to reduce his expectations.
“I’m a member of the Zhu Clan.”
With this answer, there was a new question.
“Why are they using a Zhu Clan member for this kind of grunt work?”
For things such as assassination, one would assume it would be good to separate yourself from the action. That way, if things went wrong, such as in this case, the enemy wouldn’t be able to extract much information.
“That’s because the Zhu Clan has a reputation to uphold. We can’t risk information leaks.”
Hei could understand this point.
Since the clan was crippled by their own good reputation, they couldn’t trust external organisations to conduct their dirty work.
Otherwise, there was a risk of having the truth come to light.
‘But if they were really serious, they would have created their own underground organisation, a subgroup to do these kinds of things. Then there would be a layer separation. Fools.’
Hei wasn’t impressed. It was like they were asking to be found out.
But to be fair, the man did have two suicide methods on hand. Unfortunately, though, they didn't work out this time.
“What is your objective?”
“The three of us were sent here to kill you.”
“Because you got involved in something you shouldn’t have. That girl, Jingfei, she’s a target, and since you are now associated with her, you had to be eliminated.”
“Are you also responsible for the kidnappings?”
“For what purpose?”
“For the most part, they are used for cultivation, but some of them are sent elsewhere. I don’t know any more than that.”
“Do you have collaborators within the Radiant Jade Sect?”
Hei created an image in the air using his Qi. It showed the nine disciples he was sent to find.
“Have you seen any of these people?”
“We are also looking for them. They haven’t been spotted since they were able to escape.”
Having gotten this far, Hei had gotten the basic information he required. He then went into further detail in his questioning.
Since this was a member of the Zhu Clan, Hei had him map out the entire area. Everything he knew about the Zhu Clan’s residence, their businesses, their associates, anything that could be useful in his movements.
The man was afraid that Hei would be destroying the entire Zhu Clan.
He explained that most of the members weren’t involved in underground operations. For the most part, the Zhu Clan was as the public viewed them. It was only a small circle of those in power who were involved in this kind of business.
“My wife and my children have nothing to do with this.”
The man had pleading eyes as he looked at Hei.
“The innocent won’t be punished.”
Hearing this, the man breathed a sigh of relief.
In the first place, Hei had never intended to punish anyone. He would only do what was necessary to bring back the missing disciples and the matriarch.
Whatever the Zhu Clan did, wasn’t much of his concern.
He continued questioning the man, extracting information about all of the co-operators he was aware of and everyone who was involved in this business. That included their relationship to both the Zhu Clan and the Radiant Jade Sect and their positions within each organisation.
‘The vice sect leader, huh? These people are really relaxed. Did they really think no one would ever be able to get information out of them?’
Having confirmed that the vice sect leader was involved in this, Hei was preparing to deal with her. Best case scenario, he would have the sect leader handle it herself when he returned her to the sect.
Besides that, he was wondering how these people were able to stay hidden this whole time. Was strength such a large factor that proper risk management wasn't necessary?
It should have been the case that he wouldn’t be able to extract any useful information from this person.
He would then have to go through a long chain of command until he got something of substance.
How could it be that the first person he encountered had basically drawn him a map of the entire situation?
However, this was all relying on the fact that his lie detection ability was infallible.
It was possible that the person was telling the truth, as in he believed what he was saying, but the information itself may have been false.
It would require more testing.
But right now, he had a fairly good grasp of the situation.
After he had gotten all of the information he wanted, he had the man describe his communication system.
He wanted to know how these people are communicating with their allies. It would be useful in covering his tracks.
Apparently, they were using a simple communication jade network.
“I told you everything I know. And I answered all of your questions truthfully. Please don’t kill me.”
Hei didn’t bother to answer. He pulled his hand out, taking the man’s spirit roots and leaving him unconscious.
Hearing Hei’s words, Onyx left the storage space.
[What is it?]
“Get rid of these people.”
Onyx turned to see the three unconscious men lying on the ground.
[How do you mean?]
“Teleport them somewhere far away, such that they won’t be able to return in any reasonable amount of time.”
[Sorry, no can do.]
Instead of asking why that was the case, Hei moved on.
The possibility of changing someone’s mind when there was such a quick response was limited. Thus, Hei had no interest in knowing the reason why.
“Then kill them.”
“Because they’re nuisances.”
If these people couldn’t be taken somewhere else, then it was better to just let them die.
Hei didn’t want to go through all of this trouble, just to have his movements made known to his enemy.
Onyx, however, didn’t provide Hei with the answer he was looking for.
[… I don’t have any personal grudge against these people, so…]
Hei wrapped the three in chains and brought them into his storage space, where he moulded the space to wrap around them, leaving them in utter darkness and unable to move.
He would be releasing them once their knowledge was no longer relevant to the situation.
Hei was quite the odd fellow. He wouldn’t do something to hurt someone, even indirectly. But he had no problem instructing others to do so.
In his mind, for whatever reason, if the instrument of evil had free will and wasn’t being forced by him to do such things, then he had nothing to do with the matter. No matter how much he instigated it.
The blood would be on the other person’s hands, not his.
But for some reason, he considered his family and his subordinates to be parts of himself. That was why couldn’t instruct them or allow them to commit evil.
‘Now for the loose ends.’
Hei picked an area of the forest, dense with vegetation and moved all of the lifeforms in the area to a safe location.
He then placed a pile of chains on the ground and activated the communication jade he had taken from the man he had interrogated.
Not only had he taken that man's communication jade, but he had also removed the spirit rings from the other men and taken their communication jades as well.
He used his qi to mimic their voices as he sent out distress signals to their companions.
[Ah! This kid’s crazy! He’s going to self-destruct.]
[Dear heavens! How could it come to this?]
[Hey! What’s going on over there? Self-destruct?]
‘Hmm. What would I say at a time like this?’
Hei thought about what his goofy self would say. He wanted to make this as authentic as possible.
After a moment, he came up with an appropriate choice.
[Answer me! What’s happening?]
[It’s too late.]
Of course, he didn't use his vocal cords to utter this nonsense. It was through his Qi.
Hei detonated the chains he had placed on the ground, destroying the storage rings and communication jades he had taken from the men he captured.
‘It’s time to take on a new persona.’
Within the dust cloud that was kicked up by the explosion, Hei changed his clothes and put on a mask.
This combination of clothing and the mask covered his skin and hair completely. It was far too conspicuous to leave it visible.
Before the dust settled, Hei had already left the area.
The reason he was being so cautious, was that he was aware that there were cheat items only enemies could use called divination techniques.
Even this level of covering his tracks may be made useless in the face of divination techniques.
They really were the spawn of the nether reaches.
‘Going to the bakery may not be the best idea anymore.’
Hei walked through the forest and watched as the small creatures he had previously moved to safety turned their heads between him and the site of the explosion.
“You said you had knowledge of all of the cultivation realms?”
“Teach me how to break through to the minute realm.”
This was Hei’s other option. He would rather have gone to Shao Chen, but since he now had enemies who were chasing after him, he felt Onyx was the better choice.
It would also reduce the effect of his cover if he was seen going to the bakery.
He wanted his enemy to think he was dead.
[Sure, I can teach you that. But are you sure you want to break through right now?]
“Why wouldn’t I?”
As far as Hei was aware, there was no downside to becoming stronger.
[Eh? Just like that?]
Onyx was expecting Hei to want more than this. Just some simple inheritances of the lower continent weren't exactly much incentive to prevent oneself from gaining strength.
The inheritances weren't the only thing Hei was thinking about.
Sure, inheritances were gathering places for young geniuses, and thus good places to pick up a few subordinates. And being at a higher cultivation realm meant that one would miss out on a lot of these inheritances.
But Hei was reminded of something else.
And that was that in a lot of the stories he had read, the enemies would randomly scale to match the main character.
This on its own wouldn’t be a problem, but the same didn’t hold true for allies.
If he were to increase his strength too swiftly, his opponents would become a threat to those he was trying to protect.
At his current rate of growth, the Shao Clan and his subordinates were able to keep up, and the defensive formations he put up to protect the bakery were enough to handle his enemies.
If he were to suddenly increase his strength, only for his enemies to become stronger, for no good reason at all, it may do more harm than good.
He realised that this was completely based on the logic of the stories and may not be the actual case, but he didn’t want to provoke it.
He would have no excuse once the tragedies struck.
[On top of that, you may just trigger another massacre.]
[As you may know, the envoys were a once prosperous group, going around helping the world and what not. But then, they were wiped out.]
“Where’s the relevant part?”
[I’m getting to it. Ever since then, there have been periodic ‘cleansings’, if you will, of the envoys. The enemy is always on the lookout for the resurgence of the envoys and whenever one is spotted, they go on a killing spree, trying to suppress them.]
“Still not relevant.”
[Sigh. The relevant part is that the higher your cultivation is, the easier it is to detect your presence. The enemy has a way to detect envoys and if you rise to the heavens all of a sudden, you’ll probably be detected, causing the enemy to come in full force.]
‘Darn it. So, I have to take care of all of them?’
Hei wasn’t pleased to find this out. He now had the burden of knowing that his being detected would potentially end the lives of others.
This meant he had to be extra cautious in his evasion of this enemy.
But there was a bright side.
“You said there is a way to detect the envoys. Don’t tell me some nonsense like ‘only the enemy can do so’.”
[No. You can also do it. Any titled envoy can detect the other envoys.]
‘Then I’ll just strengthen the lot of them.’
If his actions were to endanger the lives of innocents, he would take them all and make them strong enough to protect themselves. Then he would be able to move freely.
Fortunately, this coincided with his goofball self’s weird obsession with butlers and maids.