The children were put into bed and they quietly closed the door, the adults gathered once more around the dining table to discuss things quietly. Eventually, discussions were moved towards the topic of the mysterious murders.
Mei Ling was the first one to test the waters and broke the ice by asking the question that everybody was thinking, "Father, you mentioned murders earlier on today. Could you elaborate on that?"
"Sure I could. Recently in the capital and around a few cities in the country, we have been receiving reports about mysterious deaths happening at night and it isn't just the normal populace which has been targeted; quite a few of the murders were of cultivators of decent strength. The bodies are being cut up pretty gruesomely. Whoever or whatever is committing this crime is obviously a cultivator and we are trying to find clues to who it is."
"The only thing we are concerned about is the fact that the murders which are happening could be a prelude to something much more sinister. We have no clues right now and are just speculating and informing people to be safer in the country really. It's all we can do with our limited communication channels."
"It's not just deaths that we've been investigating though; we've kept this from the public but people are disappearing as well. We've identified with the kidnapping victims being some people who have been murdered. The two crimes are most likely connected and we are trying to figure out why they are doing this in the first place." Shen Jing commented after a while.
"Why not have people patrol the streets at night?" Ye Qiu asked.
"There aren't enough cultivators who have a high enough realm to patrol every street. The strength of some of the cultivators' had reached the peak of the Qi Cleansing realm. Not many other strong cultivators would dare to volunteer themselves anyway because they are mostly cultivators from clans." Shen Jing rubbed his face in frustration.
Mei Tu clapped her hands together, "Enough of such a morbid topic anyway. Let's decide on what we are going to do for tomorrow. I want to take boys to buy some new clothes for them to wear. They'd look much better than the clothes you had them both in today."
Yu Er laughed wryly, "You'd have to catch them before you can even start with dragging them along for these clothes sessions. They seem absolutely terrified whenever we talk about clothes."
All the women spoke at the same time, "Men." They shook their heads and the three males awake in the household just shuddered at the thought of clothes.
Shen Jing asked the two fathers what had happened since they had left the country years ago, "Nothing much has really changed since we left really. The only major change is the fact that we have children in our households now so that does take up quite a bit of our time. Both our boys have promising talent but for the genii in this city, maybe only Ye Xiu can be called a genius. There are truly too many people with strong talent here."
"Ye Xiu is able to become an Alchemist in the future with his affinities so that'd be a stable income for him. Both the children are extremely mature for their age which is really strange. Other than that, all I can say is that the city does have it's own problems but hopefully we can deal with it ourselves without asking for help." Xiao San answered truthfully.
Shen Jing beckoned the two forward when he took out a rectangular strip of paper. "I'd like to give you a gift that I hadn't been able to give you because both you and Mei Ling had left the capital too fast for us to catch up. This is a life-saving talisman that can be used at a dangerous moment to allow you travel a hundred miles in any direction from where you are at. Keep this safe and only use it when your life is truly threatened."
"Thank you, Father-in-Law. I'll keep this safe for a family catastrophe." Xiao San bowed to him as thanks for the talisman.
"You're welcome, now shove off and let us get back to the ladies' conversation." Shen Jing suddenly pushed the two of them in the direction of the women.
The conversations flowed between the adults until midnight approached and they all went to their bedrooms to rest.
- The Next Day -
Three women started to drag out two little boys out into the streets and onto a carriage. Thinking that this was a good time to ask somebody about the carriage, Ye Xiu tugged on his mother's dress and asked her quietly, "Mother, how is it possible for the carriage to be bigger on the inside than on the outside? I know it's a similar concept to how the inter-spatial rings work but they don't allow anything live to enter but this does. What separates the two to allow them to have similar functions but different limits?"
"Aren't you a smart boy for noticing that?" Ye Xiu's praised him and kissed him on the forehead. "The differences between the inter-spatial storage ring and the carriage is the fact they employ the same concept but utilised in different ways. You see both the ring and carriage's function is to carry more things in a smaller space without affecting the weight and space outside of the said object. The ring's purpose is to store objects in another dimension whereas the carriage is being expanded in the inside by increasing the existing amount of space around inside."
"The ring is powered through inscriptions inlaid all around it whilst the carriage is enlarged in the inside through the use of a formation. Inscriptions last for a longer period of time due to the fact that they are inscribed onto an existing object; whilst formations doesn't require anything special besides the knowledge and materials to set it up. Formations last as long as the power source is able to keep the formation running."
"Since the ring's storage is in another space, no living thing can live inside it because there is absolutely no nutrients or energy for it to survive on. Yes, you could put a live person in there but they would starve to death. That's why most inter-spatial storage devices contain an inscription that prevents living things from entering it. Did you understand that or was it too complicated of an explanation?"
Ye Xiu nodded his head, "Yeah, it wasn't too hard to understand now that you've explained it to me. I'd like to ask another question though. If inscriptions and formations could be used so easily then why aren't more of them being used for daily use?" Ye Xiu looked out the carriage window as he asked his question, observing the busy streets of the capital.
"Like I have said before, formations require a source of energy to use. Once you deplete that energy source where would you find one? A formation requires materials to set up and then power to sustain it. Most formations are powered through Qi, however, some formations aren't. My friend was a formation master and he had explained a lot about this topic because it was his passion."
"He had also mentioned that to create a formation you would need to know the structure of the formation you are making to the finest detail and the slightest mistake whilst creating the formation would lead to its failure. The same can be said for inscriptions however inscriptions require the continual process of the maker's Qi to be coursing through the inscriptions the entire time. A lapse in focus and it can lead to disastrous consequences. Now enough questions, we're nearly at the clothing district." Yu Er informed her son.
Mei Ling ran out of the carriage the moment it stopped and pulled the two boys together with her. "Let's go find you boys some cute outfits you can both wear together!" Mei Tu and Yu Er just walked behind them slowly, smiling at the scene.
- Hours later -
"We've finished buying clothes, now let's go check out the scholar's district for any interesting books." Mei Tu brought them to a district filled with shops which sold knowledge on foot.
"Mother, Xiao Tu and I will go to that shop and check it out!" Ye Xiu spotted a shop which had a sign which boasted it's selling of books on the different disciplines of the world and started dragging Xiao Tu together with him.
"Ye Xiu, wait!" Yu Er hurriedly called out in shock not expecting her son to suddenly leave her sight.
"Stop dragging me and let me take a breath, Ye Xiu! I know you are excited but there's no need for us to get here so quickly. I don't even know how you are dragging someone heavier than you so fast anyway. Your legs are so short! You are just like my mom when she's excited I swear!"
"I know I shouldn't be running but come on aren't you excited? We'll get to learn more about the cultivation world! That means more ways we could become stronger!" Ye Xiu's enthusiasm started to infect Xiao Tu and he also started to run at a faster pace towards the shop.
Whilst the two boys headed towards the shop, their guardians ran around looking through each shop in a frantic manner trying to find them because they didn't actually see the direction that the two boys had vanished off to.
As the boys entered the shop, they saw an elderly man with a beard sitting at the reception desk. The man opened his eyes and observed the two of them before speaking, "Hello young ones, what could you be here to look at today?"
"We are just here to look through the books you have here." Xiao Tu answered.
"Go ahead, but don't ruin the books or you'll have to pay for them." The man closed his eyes again after speaking.
Ye Xiu quickly dragged Xiao Tu with him towards one of the bookshelves. The boys were so engrossed in their reading that they hadn't bothered to look out and wonder what the time was. The sun started to set and the guardians of the two boys were completely panicking. They had searched every store in the district besides the last 3 and the worry could be seen on their faces. Mei Ling asked both her mother and Yu Er to check the two other stores whilst she checked the last one on the street.
Mei Ling walked into the store where the boys were currently sitting in a far-away corner where no noise could reach them. "Hello, Mister Shopkeeper, have you by any chance seen two boys run past or come in recently?" She waved her hand in front of the shopkeeper's face.
The shopkeeper opened his eyes and answered, "No ma'am, there hasn't been anybody coming into this store for the past couple of days. I'd suggest you to ask the other stores to see if any sign of them have appeared." The man smiled kindly.
Mei Ling just furrowed her eyebrows, "I've already checked all the stores, but thanks for your time and advice." She walked back out of the store to look for Yu Er and her mother to inform them of the failure to find the boys.
The man stood up as Mei Ling left with his smile never leaving his face. His face distorted into a sadistic smile as he closed shop and moved silently towards where the boys were sitting. He stood behind them silently before knocking them out with a single strike to the nape. His smile became even bigger as he took a single strand of hair from each hair and tasted it. "How delicious these ones are."
Night fell and a shadowy figure carrying a sack could be seen jumping across rooftops.