In the time following the attack on Lang Huo and the other children, quite a few elders and other people from the Lang clan as well as from the four villages that they ruled ended up vanishing quietly. Each day for the first year there would be one or two people vanishing and getting replaced, Lang Meng and Lang Hua showing absolutely no mercy in their cleansing, eradicating everyone who had even the smallest hand in the attack that day.
There might be some participants that had hidden themselves so well that the Lang couple couldn't find them, but none of them dared step forward, not even to speak out against the couple for their actions. Doing so could give the appearance that they were sympathizing with the people that tried to harm the future clan leader, giving the Lang couple a perfect excuse to openly investigate them.
The deaths slowed down drastically after the first year, a period of fragile peace descending on the Lang clan. Of course, most people were well aware that this peace would only last as long as the Lang couple was alive. Once they succumbed to their age, if the next clan leader hadn't grown sufficiently, things would certainly become exceedingly chaotic for all parties.
Yin Long's eyes were narrowed faintly as he stood within the forest while surrounded by a dense fog, his right hand tightly clutching a translucent sword that had a blade that was nearly 80 centimeters long. A gentle breeze blew through the area, pushing a few strands of his damp silver hair in front of his eyes.
His eyes shot open the moment the hair fell in front of his eyes, his body rapidly withdrawing as the sound of something moving through the air came from his side. He clicked his tongue and leaned back heavily, a dull metal rod tearing through the air just above his nose and eyes. He continued leaning backward until his back was arched so much that he formed a bridge, one hand grasping his weapon and the other dug into the earth
He used the hand dug into the earth as a support, raising himself into a handstand and bringing his feet down again straight away. He stomped down on the metal rod and brought it down to the ground, his sword stabbing out towards the right end of the dull weapon, aiming for the person holding it. But the man holding it, the black-haired and red-eyed Bai Xiang, let go of the metal rod without hesitation and swiftly lowered his body while spinning his body.
He kicked out with his right foot and swept Yin Long's feet out from underneath him, stepping on the metal rod made his feet a touch unbalanced so he was unable to properly respond in time. As Yin Long was falling to the ground, Bai Xiang finished another revolution and swung his foot upwards, heavily kicking the back of Yin Long's head.
His entire body was forced upwards into a standing position, clashing directly with the fist of Bai Xiang, who had already managed to straighten his body and punch out, moving far faster than Yin Long could react to. Bai Xiang stopped moving after his fist made contact with Yin Long's face, his fist opening up and grabbing onto Yin Long's face so that he didn't fall back.
"Not bad, you managed to last for almost 15 moves this time. But stepping on the metal rod was a mistake, you should always try to avoid coming into contact with any weapon belonging to an enemy, you never know what sort of tricks they're hiding."
Bai Xiang let go of Yin Long's face once he finished talking, he was a bit groggy after the hits to his head, but not to a degree where he would be unable to stand stably. Yin Long seriously nodded his head in response to his teacher's words, making sure to engrave them in his mind. Bai Xiang stood still for a bit while looking at Yin Long, inspecting the face that had already lost most of its childlike cuteness and instead acquired a more dignified and heroic aura. Looking at Yin Long wipe away a bit of blood that had run out from his nose, as well as the translucent sword that he was holding, Bai Xiang couldn't help but let out a drawn-out sigh.
"Hah~ 12, almost 13 years but you still aren't able to properly look at yourself, still haven't found out exactly what your affinity is and just how you are your blade. With things like this, perhaps I was wrong with staying silent in fear of you ending up like my last disciple..."
Yin Long couldn't say anything in response to his teacher's words, lowering his head slightly. Six years had passed since the attack on his sister so he had indeed been training under Bai Xiang for nearly 13 years already. His strength had grown by a fair amount in those 13 years, his skills growing more refined with each passing day, but he had yet to accomplish the one thing his teacher desired of him, he had yet to look into himself and take a proper look at himself and his blade.
It wasn't that he didn't want to do so, it was just that he had no idea how he should even go about doing so. And Bai Xiang's refusal to interfere too much due to his fear of Yin Long falling into depravity wasn't helping too much, leaving Yin Long with a bit of a headache. Bai Xiang continued to look at Yin Long for a bit, eventually letting out another sigh and coming to a decision.
"Your uniqueness is your greatest weakness, but it's also your greatest strength. No cultivation manual will ever work for you, you must create one on your own if you want to cultivate properly, resulting in your cultivation speed being slower than normal. But at the same time, you are blessed by the blade and hold power and affinity that others can only dream of, each time you increase in strength it will be a great leap forward, striking a delicate balance with the drawbacks. Since you're already this unique, perhaps it should be fine to treat you a bit more uniquely. Tomorrow, head to the outskirts of the Underearth Forest, hunt down some Demonic beasts, test the limits of your strength. You are a warrior, perhaps, in the throes of death and blood is the best place for you to find yourself."
Bai Xiang's expression was a bit complex as he spoke, continuously twisting and altering. Yin Long had no idea exactly what had happened with Bai Xiang's last disciple, he only knew the general story, but from the looks of it, the event had affected him greatly. Bai Xiang didn't give Yin Long the opportunity to say anything, waving his hand dismissively.
"Leave, you need to prepare for tomorrow, venturing into the wilderness is not something to be done carelessly."
Bai Xiang's body melded into the fog around him as his words finished, completely vanishing from Yin Long's senses. Yin Long didn't even bother searching, he was already used to Bai Xiang leaving in this way, he simply gave a bow to the fog and then left. The sun had already set by the time he left the fog, the grass and earth slightly moist beneath his bare feet as he walked. He picked up the white sword that he had leaned against a tree before entering the foggy part of the forest, strapping it to his waist again before leaving the small forest.
He followed the familiar path along the side of the mansion while humming softly, a piece of dry cloth hitting him in the face the moment he turned the corner that would lead him to the entrance of the mansion. Following the piece of cloth was a voice that Yin Long was far too familiar with.
"A bit later than usual, did Uncle Xiang give you a sermon again?"
Yin Long grabbed the cloth and used it to wipe away the sweat on his face and neck before resting it on top of his head, his gaze landing on the graceful and pretty girl in front of him, Lang Ru. She had already turned 17 and shed every trace of her childlike innocence and cuteness, all that remained was a soft and pleasant charm that had caused her to be quite popular among the boys within the city. Her chestnut brown hair had been cut somewhat short and tied into a ponytail that only hung down to her shoulders, her crimson eyes filled with a gentle warmth. Yin Long shrugged his shoulders and continued walking, Lang Ru following at his side as the two headed for the mansion entrance.
"Wouldn't really call it a sermon, more of a mission. Do I have time for a quick bath or are the others already gathered?"
He didn't tell her the specifics of the mission nor did Lang Ru ask about it. This wasn't the first time he had received a mission from Bai Xiang, it was, however, the first time he had received a mission to head into the wilderness, it would also be his first trip into the Underearth Forest. Lang Ru shook her head in response to Yin Long's question, causing him to click his tongue once, it seemed like he could only use this piece of cloth for the moment.
The two entered the mansion and made their way through the hallways as they headed for the fourth floor, the maids and butlers respectfully greeting them with a bow. Yin Long used the cloth Lang Ru had tossed at him to wipe away as much of his sweat as he could, removing the upper part of his yellow robe while they were walking to make it easier to wipe his torso.
The two reached their target room on the fourth floor before long, Yin Long handing the now damp cloth to a maid that was already waiting for him. Once the maid took the cloth and left, the two siblings pushed open the doors and entered the familiar room where Lang Huo and the two other girls used to cultivate.
The layout of the room had changed somewhat compared to the past, all the old furniture had been taken out so that the room was completely empty. What replaced the old furniture was two beds separated by a long rectangular table, a small dresser standing on the other sides of the beds. Lang Huo and Tang Fen were already sitting side by side on one of the beds, a hearty meal spread out on the table in front of them.
And sitting on the other bed was Lang Meng and Lang Hua, both of them having changed greatly. The end of their lifespan was coming closer and closer, it could even be said to be right around the corner. As such, the years were quickly catching up with them, both of them had gotten terribly wrinkly, their hair losing all color and even starting to fall out in patches. Yin Long smiled somewhat apologetically as they entered the room and made their way over to the table, pulling out chairs from their own interspatial rings and placing them on the two ends of the table. Yin Long sat down on the end where Lang Huo and Lang Meng sat while Lang Ru sat down at the end where Tang Fen and Lang Hua sat.
"Sorry, Uncle Xiang is a bit too fond of our sparring so he ended up keeping me back."
The Lang couple simply smiled peacefully and gently at Yin Long, gesturing for everyone that they could start their family meal. But Lang Huo curled her mouth slightly, stretching out her arm and poking Yin Long's waist a few times.
"Heh, blaming it all on Uncle Xiang, are you? Be honest with us, you're the nut who couldn't stop sparring and ended up dragging it out, aren't you?"
Yin Long swiftly retaliated against the poking, his hand flashing out and grabbing onto the back of Lang Huo's hand. He pinched the skin on the back of her hand, smiling faintly at her while speaking.
"Oh, it sounds like someone wants to engage in a bit of sparring with me? Does this mean that you've finally become able to properly utilize your power, or will it end like always, with my sword remaining unscathed while I redirect your attacks?"
Lang Huo struggled for a bit before freeing her hand, waving it around a bit with a slightly pouting expression that caused Tang Fen to let out a quiet giggle. She cut Yin Long with a slight glare but didn't dare accept his offer, she had already been beaten quite badly in today's sparring match so she didn't want to start another one. She elected to remain quiet, sticking her tongue out at him before she started picking apart the hearty meal in front of them, placing copious amounts of food on her own plate as well as Tang Fen's plate.
Yin Long chuckled softly when he saw the reaction of his little sister, not pursuing it further as he quietly took in the atmosphere. No matter how much their age caught up with them, the Lang couple insisted that all of them share dinner every day, it was the most peaceful moment for all of them. But looking at the scene of the peaceful dinner, Yin Long couldn't help but worry about just how many more of these they could share.
He gave a slight shake of his head and tossed away the thoughts, right now it was better to focus on the dinner in front of him and his trip to the Underearth Forest that he would do once the sun rose.