Yin Long looked at the bloody pieces of flesh falling to the earth below them, heaving another heavy breath, it was finally over. He stored away his sword and swiped his interspatial ring again this time taking out the circular jug filled with wine that he had gotten from Lang Ru. He removed the cork with his mouth and spat it down to the forest below, drinking several greedy mouthfuls of the elderflower wine, allowing the heat to settle deep within his stomach.
This wine was a bit special as Lang Ru had used a small Spirit Stone while fermenting it, resulting in the wine being able to restore a bit of energy. Of course, the main reason Yin Long brought it along was that he liked the taste, he never thought he would need its energy restoring capabilities. He removed the jug from his mouth after drinking nearly a third of it in one go, letting out a deep breath and placing the top of the jug in front of the cat while tilting the jug.
"Want a sip? Having just survived something like that, the least we deserve is a good drink."
The cat suspiciously sniffed the opening of the jug, recoiling slightly when the strong alcoholic scent hit it. But it still gave the opening a few licks, lapping up some of the wine within it. The wine appeared to be a bit too strong for it as it ended up coughing violently right after swallowing it. But even so, the cat went back for another taste after it finished coughing, licking its snout after taking a few more laps. Yin Long grinned lightly at the scene, nodding at the cat before placing the opening of the jug against his own lips.
"That's the spirit, gotta enjoy good wine!"
His parents or elder sister would definitely scold him if they saw him drinking from the same opening as the one a feral cat had just drunk from. But right now, Yin Long was too ecstatic about having survived to bother with that, drinking another few mouthfuls of the wine before offering a bit more to the cat.
The man and cat shared a few drinks while Yin Long restored his energy, finishing the entire jug after a mere 10 minutes. Yin Long stored away the jug and then took several deep breaths, quietly sensing his energy flow through his veins. He had only restored about 10% of his Qi, but it would be enough for them to escape from here at least. He raised his right arm and channeled a bit of his Qi into it, digging his fingers into the ceiling just as he had with his left hand. He then straightened his left hand and pulled it out of the earthen ceiling, quickly reaching out with it and digging it into the earthen ceiling again.
Like this, he climbed along the ceiling of the cavern until he entered the tunnel again. His pickaxe had been sent flying when the two pursuers shout out of the tunnel so he couldn't use it to climb up the tunnel, forcing him to rely on his own two hands to practically crawl up the tunnel. The cat wriggled out from his robe and onto his back, unwilling to be squeezed between Yin Long and the earth.
Climbing out from the tunnel took quite a bit longer than sliding down it, Yin Long had to spend nearly five minutes crawling before he finally reached the leaf-covered forest floor again. He straightened his body and shook his hands once he left the tunnel, doing his best to get rid of the sore feeling that now plagued both of his arms after the strenuous effort.
The cat jumped down from Yin Long's back after he left the tunnel, giving its entire body a few shakes to get rid of any dirt that may have touched it. The cat then meowed at Yin Long and turned around to walk away, Yin Long not trying to stop it.
"Oh, you're leaving? Alright, you can find me in the big mansion in that large city if you ever feel like getting some more wine."
He had no idea if the cat was capable of understanding his words, but looking at its earlier actions it was at least able to understand his intentions. The cat meowed at him twice and then vanished into the forest, leaving the range of Yin Long's senses before too long. With the cat leaving, Yin Long turned to look at the direction of the city, rolling his shoulders and wrists as he started moving.
"Alright, let's pick up some evidence first and then head home."
Yin Long turned away from the city and headed back to the spot where he had killed the bear, the corpse of the third assassin was still lying there. Most interspatial rings couldn't hold living beings, but a corpse had lost all life so he quickly stored the body into his interspatial ring. The corpse of the bear was sadly too large to fit into his interspatial ring so he had no choice but to leave it behind, only quickly carving it up to extract a murky brown crystal the size of a grape.
Once he finished these tasks, he started heading back to the edge of the forest. But he only headed to the edge of the forest, he didn't return to the south entrance of the city. Doing so was the same as alerting Four Valleys Village that he was still alive, something he wasn't entirely willing to do before he had more certainty of his own safety. After all, they might choose to assassinate him right after he entered the city again, stopping him from meeting with people belonging to the Lang clan.
It would take more time, but he chose to instead follow along the edge of the forest until he reached the second entrance that was located right by the forest, the eastern entrance. Of course, with how large the city was, reaching the eastern entrance would take him quite a bit of time even if he didn't stop to rest, so the faster he got a move on the better.
Day turned to night and then to day again, the sun rising and setting several times as Yin Long made his way along the edge of the forest, the wall of the city on his right. He had to stop a few times to kill and roast some smaller animals, he didn't have too much food stored within his interspatial ring. Finding water was also relatively easy thanks to the many small rivers running through the forest, allowing him to avoid getting dehydrated.
Like this, seven days quickly passed before Yin Long finally reached the eastern entrance. It was already starting to approach evening when he reached the large entrance, dark clouds covering the sky as rain and lightning pelted the sky. Yin Long wasn't too fond of lightning, the fear from that one time lightning nearly struck him as a child was still lingering on within him. He counted some of the bolts that struck the earth as he passed through the entrance of the city, quietly muttering to himself.
"A lot of sinners this time around, huh?"
Yin Long still clearly remembered the story his father told him, each bolt of lightning was a sinful soul that was getting dragged to the Netherworld, and each rainbow was a virtuous soul ascending to the Celestial World. But looking at the torrential downpour all around and the dark clouds covering the sky, he found it hard to imagine that it was possible for any rainbows to appear here.
He quietly and quickly made his way through the city until he reached the nearest transmission station, only revealing his identity once he was certain that at least one of the guards was a person trusted by his parents. The guards opened their eyes wide when Yin Long stepped in front of them, one of them quickly grabbing onto his wrist and dragging him to the proper spatial array.
"Young Master, how wonderful that you're alive! Quickly, you must return to the mansion, you must see your parents before its too late!"
The words of the guard caused Yin Long's heart to drop, a chilly feeling spreading out from the pit of his stomach. He hurried through the spatial array and then raced through the city the moment he arrived at the familiar transmission array. He didn't even bother waiting for any of the guards to follow or guide him, he simply dashed at full speed while ignoring the wounds on his arm and waist. He had stopped their bleeding with the paste and somewhat eased them with the energy within the wood-element sword, but they would still need proper care to be fully healed.
He ran faster than he ever had before, quickly reaching the mansion where he had grown up and throwing open the doors. His already bloodshot eyes landed on a maid who just so happened to be within the hallway beyond the door, her figure trembling slightly underneath his gaze. She quietly pointed upwards with a shivering finger, Yin Long understanding what she meant and racing to the fourth floor.
He tore open the doors to the familiar room where his sisters had once cultivated and where they now ate dinner together every evening. Lang Ru and the others were all gathered within the room, there were also a few other elders and people that Yin Long knew had a close relationship with his parents. Even Bai Xiang and his wife had arrived, all of them turning to look at Yin Long as he noisily entered the room.
Yin Long was breathing so heavily that his lungs felt as if they were on fire, each breath was an arduous chore. But right now he ignored all that and strode over to the two beds placed right in front of the large window that allowed one to see all the way to the northern entrance of the city. His parents were each lying on a bed, their skin so pale and wrinkly that it looked as if they had been submerged in water for several days.
All their hair had fallen out in the days that Yin Long was gone, their eyes had sunken in and turned nearly completely dim. Yin Long knew what this meant, but he refused to accept it, his already bloodshot eyes turning red and moist. His father weakly waved his hand, his voice so low that it was barely a whisper.
"Please leave, we want to say a few words to our son."
The others respectfully bowed and left the room, Lang Ru and the others already drenched in tears while they were escorted out of the room. Tears ran freely down his face but Yin Long couldn't be bothered to wipe them away, Lang Hua reaching out to wipe them away once everyone left.
"My dear, I knew that you would return to us. I'd love to kill whoever or whatever tried to attack you, but I'm afraid that's no longer possible for us. Find Jiu Meiyu, he will fulfill our duty of finding revenge for you."
Yin Long grabbed his mother's hand and held it close to his cheek, his tears running over it as he quietly nodded his head, his throat too choked up to produce words. Lang Hua looked gently at Yin Long, the faint warmth from her hand seeping deep into his soul.
"My son, my dear beautiful son. For all these years we haven't done right by you and focused almost entirely on your little sister. And yet, you'd cry for us so freely now, thank you, thank you for loving us."
Her words pierced directly into Yin Long's heart and only caused his tears to flow even faster. The next one to speak up was Lang Meng, who struggled so sit up in his bed so that he could place his hand on Yin Long's shoulder.
"Little Yin, you are our only son and while you may not inherit the title of clan leader, you will become the next man of the house. I don't know what sort of training you've undergone or how strong you actually are, but I feel relieved to leave your sisters in your care, I know that you can and will protect them. With you here, your mother and I can move on to the afterlife with no regrets. Raising you and your sisters have been the greatest thing we have ever done, and while we would love to see you all get married and get children, we are content with our lives just having seen you all grow to this stage."
Lng Meng's eyes were gentle as they looked at Yin Long, his pupils containing a mixture of love, worry, expectation, and warmth, all of which fell into Yin Long's eyes. The couple turned their heads to look out the window, one keeping her hand on Yin Long's cheek while the other kept his hand on Yin Long's shoulder.
"My son, I have not been able to give you much advice or care over the years. But just this once, at the end, let me give you some advice. You focus so hard on your training, on growing strong enough to protect your sisters, on keeping them and the clan they will rule safe. It is a noble and great goal, but please don't abandon your own love for this goal. Spread your wings, see the world and cultivate as you please, leave the clan if you have to or want to, do as you please. Love often and love deeply, for love is the greatest blessing that has been bestowed on humanity."
Yin Long nodded his head, his face already stained with tears and snot. He thought he could show a semblance of calm and maturity in this moment, but when he was actually faced with it, all those thoughts went out the window and he turned into no more than a crying child. Seeing their son again, the couple could finally put down all the worries in their chests, they could let out a breath and relax. First his mother's hand slid down his cheek, then shortly after, his father's hand dropped down from his shoulder, two weak rainbows just barely piercing through the black clouds far in the distance.