An man was panting while leaning against the wall. Although he looked around his 30s, small wisps of grey have already started to appear on his head. He slowly walked up to the children with a slight limp.
"Eh! Isn't that you Xiao Feng?"
The man quickly put his hands over Xiao Feng's mouth.
"Shh...lets get over to somewhere safer."
The old man led the children around the alleyway to a small hut nearby. It was right in the divide between the residential area and the commercial area. Uncle Xu put a wooden plank over the door to barricade it from any intruders.
"Phew...That was close. You were in a really dangerous area. That area is around the entrance of the clowns hideout. What were you kids doing."
"Well you see...."
Xiao Feng narrated the entire story back to Uncle Xu. As Xiao Feng talked, his face seemed to change. It was almost as he was ageing faster and faster.
Uncle Xu slammed his fist against the table. Xin Fan could hear the sounds of bones cracking as he did so. Uncle Xu buried his face in his palms simply ignoring the pain.
"First Qin and now Xing..."
Uncle Xu lifted up his face in tears. Blood was dripping from his lips from a strong bite. Xin Fan could see the pure sorrow and anger from simply his expression.
"Did you know that besides from your mother, uncle also had another sister? Back then I was 13, she was 7. Can you guess what had happened?"
Uncle Xu stared at Xiao Feng straight into his eyes as if he could see right through him.
"She was kidnapped?"
"Yes. I saw it happen with these two eyes. I even saw the moment she was sold off to that filthy noble! Those eyes...Those eyes that looked at her."
Uncle Xu lifted up his pants from the hems to show off his right leg. Xin Fan gasped at the sight. All over it was deformities. The leg was twisted and bent in ways that shouldn't even be possible. All over it was splotches of black from injuries long ago.
"Of course, I retaliated. I tried to take her back but look at what it has done...They did not let me off easy. For a month...I was starved. They beat me...They crushed me...They broke me...I was only on the third stage of cultivation back then. Unlike you kids, there were no schools to teach us how to advance. They crippled me from ever cultivating. Now I have to beg for my life just to live."
"By them do you mean..."
"No...the clowns didn't exist back then. Back then, the underworld was ruled by a different set of organisations. Even so, they weren't that much different from the clowns. The underworld back then is not much different from now."
"So what happened afterwards?"
"I don't know. After they got bored of me I was left to rot on the streets. I never saw my sister ever again. My spirit item were my legs and in a condition like this, you could say I was done for. Do you know what I regret?"said Uncle Xu as he took out a knife.
"What was it?"
"I regret being weak. I regret being foolish. If only I was stronger, my sister would not have been taken. If I had thought it through, I could have had my revenge. His eyes still haunt me. One day...One day even if I am crippled. I would take this and rip apart at that f*cking bastards throat!" Uncle Xu angrily stabbed the knife right into the table. When Xin Fan saw the fury in his eyes, he was reminded of a phrase that Xin Kong would often say.'Hatred is not Innate. Hatred is created'.
"U..Uncle...you are scaring me."
Uncle Xu calmed down a bit and looked at Xiao Feng eye to eye.
"Look at me...do you see a happy man..."
"Exactly. Let me be brutally honest. Your sister. I am afraid that without the help of someone with great power...she is gone. Don't make the same mistake I made. It was rash and I was crippled. I became useless and unable to change anything. The only thing you can do is become stronger. Stronger than anyone else. Only then would you stand a chance."
"B...But Xiao Xing!"
"The only thing we can do now is pray..."
Uncle Xu gave his chest for Xiao Feng to cry on. His words were like cut like razors as they were the harsh truth of reality. Even in this world, life is not fair.
"Xiao Xing is still alive. That means she could be saved."
Uncle Xu turned around to look at Xin Fan.
"What do you know! Did you not hear what I just said?"
"Dragon Root academy has quite a few powerful characters you know? I am sure that someone could help."
"Who would risk offending a proportion of the underworld for just an unawakened child." Uncle Xu's words completely dissected Xin Fan's idea. He originally had a plan to ask a teacher but realistically speaking, they probably won't help.
Suddenly there was a heaving striking on the door.
"Old fart! It's time for the collection! Otherwise...you know what will happen."
Uncle Xu's eyes widened as he looked at the calendar. He turned and pushed the kids away and hid them in a back room.
"Shh...be quiet...no matter what happen don't make a sound."
Xin Fan could hear uncle Xu heaving as he removed the wooden plank barricading the door. He could hear the doors opening and a bunch of footsteps enter.
A bunch of men wearing crude clothes enter the room. Each of them had an outline of a bear in a circus outfit tattooed around their body. The man in a black jacket seemed to be the leader and sat down on the table with a thud.
"Aren't you going to pour some tea eh!"
Uncle Xu hurried as he limped towards the kitchen scrambling for some tea leaves. He hurriedly set it up and poured a cup for the leader.
"It's 100 Mu as usual."
Uncle Xu slowly took out a couple of plates from his pocket and started to count.
"Oh wait...My mistake 150 Mu."
Uncle Xu grit his teeth as he continued to count. During this time, the man in black was sipping on the tea poured. He saw the knife on the table and was playing around with it.
"Contemplating suicide I see...Well, your organs would sell for quite a bit."
Uncle Xu ignored his comments. The man placed the knife back where he was and was cracking his fist. Uncle Xu finally finished counting and placed the money on the table avoiding eye contact.
"It's about time you old fart."
The man punched him straight in the stomach causing him to fall to his knees. Uncle Xu bit his lip reopening his previous wounds and let blood flow without looking up to avoid making a sound.
"This tea tasted like sh*t."
The man slowly poured the tea over Uncle Xu's head. The water was scalding hot however he endured biting his lip to avoid making noise. If he talked, it would only get worse.
Inside the back room Xin Fan was holding Xiao Feng back while biting his lip. Xiao Feng seemed to be trying to bust out however Xin Fan to the best of his ability held him back. Being outnumbered is one thing but being outnumbered by stronger people meant that there was no chance in winning. All he could do was to keep quiet.
"Give me back my sister!"
Xin Fan's eyes widened as he hurred to stuff his hand into Xiao Feng's mouth. Oh no! At the same time, Uncle Xu's eyes widened as he looked towards the back room.
"Oh...It seems as if we have guests."
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