Matt looked at the mother and son duo, were they doing some kind of comedic routine?
The boy was still almost naked, at least they didn’t remove his underwear before the procedure. The youth in question looked at the old man beside the bed he was getting bear-hugged by his mother. He instantly knew that this man wasn’t simple, his disposition and sharp stare could only be attributed to experts. But in reality, it was only Matt squinting and trying to keep his elder act together.
“P-please… my friends are going to die… we offended someone that we shouldn’t have…”
The boy replied to the question, his voice trailing off at the end.
“Oh, who did you offend? Could you tell this friendly grandpa?”
The workers faces contorted at the ‘friendly’ part, who was the person that threw that one worker at the wall. The poor guy then was slapped awake only to get lectured and then only get teacups thrown at him.
“Ah, bow your head boy, this Senior Uncle saved your life!”
The woman immediately pushed her son’s head down, making him bow to the man. The man in question just moved his hand upwards trying to signal to the two that this act was unnecessary.
“That’s fine, just doing what I was hired for by the Zhang Clan. I’m not sure if you have heard about the Zhang Clan, but they are quite the magnanimous people, yes they are.”
He made it sure to mention the clan whenever he could, he liked to spread awareness, branding was very important. They weren’t sure why this elder was mentioning that clan every other sentence, but not like they could ask him. The boy had some tears in his eyes which he was able to wipe after his mother finally let him be, soon he started talking and told the two the full story.
“Me and my brothers just wanted some coin for the little ones… the young master came out of the restaurant and he was already drunk so we thought he would be an easy snatch…”
The boy looked at his mom, not really wanting to tell her that he was out in the streets and stealing. But he was doing it mostly for the younger children, they had even some four-year-olds in his group. They weren’t abandoned but their parents died one way or the other, mostly offending some bigshots or getting in debt with the wrong people. He looked to his mother stuttering a bit as he saw her brows twitching.
“A-anyway, we tried doing the usual routine… I fell in front of the young master and just started apologizing to keep his attention on me… that was when big bro…”
Matt stroked his beard while listening, it was a regular stealing maneuver that you would see anywhere. Someone would bump into you then start talking loudly and shuffling about. While you were distracted their partner would move in from the back and quickly snatch your wallet or purse from your pocket.
“But you got caught, right?”
Said Wei Hung while glancing at the boy that lowered his head at the reply.
“Y-yes, the guard next to the master was very vigilant he moved between the young master as my big bro was reaching into his robe. Luckily he managed to jump back before he got caught.”
“So, they grabbed you instead?”
“Y-yes sir, I was on the ground bowing so I didn’t have enough time…”
“That’s why I told you not to hang out with those brats!”
The mother was fuming, she had told her son not to hang out with that riff-raff. They were a known band of little bandits that robbed and plundered the streets. She didn’t want her only child ending up as those thieves, this was also the reason she was working so hard.
“I’m sure the boy had his reasons… right?”
The elderly man asked while trying to smile, but made the family duo flinch in fright instead.
“Y-yes! We only did it to feed the young ones!”
Matt went back to stroking his beard while the mom started reprimanding her son for being a little thief. He, on the other hand, was worried that they even had children on the streets below the age of five running around with no parents or supervision. Even more that they had to resort to stealing and burglary to survive.
“And another thing!”
The mom shouted out while smacking the head of her sun that looked disgruntled.
“Hm, how about you show this grandpa where those children are? I’m sure I can ‘talk’ that young master out of harming them…”
He couldn’t let some young bratty young lord just beat up some pre-teen kids, he knew that those types would even resort to killing if they got offended enough. He stood up a bit straighter and tried striking a valiant pose complete with a bright smile so that the child would trust in this old uncle, but the only thing the kid saw was an old man grinning menacingly.
He looked to the side to his mother, not sure if he could trust this ominous looking elder. The mother looking between the two and finally speaking out.
“Y-yes… uh… if Senior insists Zhu’er will show you where they are…isn’t that right?”
She looked at the young boy, a bit of worry in her eyes. She was grateful for the help that this man had given her son, but she didn’t want him to involve himself further with those band of urchins. Her motherly instincts were telling her to take her son and run, but she couldn’t offend the elder man that helped them out, he also seemed quite powerful.
“Well, let’s not dilly dally for too long, little one, if we don’t hurry your friends might get hurt.”
The youth instantly steeled his resolve as the old man mention his friends getting in trouble. He quickly jumped up, his mother shaking her head as she could oppose the older man’s decision.
“E-elder please take me along!”
She asked out while her boy was already close to bolting down the stairs.
“Ah sure, you can come along, don’t see a problem with that.”
Matt didn’t mind if the mom tagged along, not like she needed to do anything and he felt confident in being able to protect the two of them. He also thought of alerting his new police task force for this job, but he knew that they were spread thin. Also, it would probably take them a while to get to this store, then take the kid out for the search. He was worried that the younglings might already be getting beaten up.
“Follow me, I know all the shortcuts!”
The little guy bolted for the sliding door, Matt just skipping along even though he didn’t look like he was going fast and his feet were moving slowly he had no problem in keeping up with the energetic child, the mom was trailing a bit in the back though. He went deep into the neighborhood, the buildings started looking worse and worse.
‘Man, this sure is a s*** hole…’
He could see beggars supporting themselves against some building walls, their bodies dangerously thin. The buildings looked more like storage sheds after a while, the roofs probably leaking and if a storm came along they would be folded in half.
‘Think I need to invest some money into renovating this section of town…’
This part of town was the slum, while skipping along Matt brought out his system map to see in exactly what area he was in. The coloring was dark red, the worst color you could have. The health hazards in this area were the biggest, you could see human feces on the side of the roads and in the alleys.
He wanted to stop and help a couple of people out, they looked in dire need of medical assistance or at least a warm meal. After he was done with this young master business he would go back to headquarters and have a team come clean this mess up. This wasn’t a problem for him at this point, he could cover the costs by making core formation-level items. He could probably even trade in some of those to the richer families in this city and they would do it instead, but he wasn’t sure he could trust them in doing a good job just yet.
They were going quite deep into the slum area, the people were quite scary looking as he noticed a lot of them giving him the stink eye. He tried diffusing the situation with a bright smile, but to his dismay when he did that the people looked frightened instead.
‘Guess they must be shy…’
While Matt was skipping through the poop-filled streets of Moonlight City, wondering if he would ever be able to wash this stench away from the new boots that he was wearing a group of kids were shivering in the corner of a large damaged building. This looked like some type of old storage space, the wood had been eaten away by time and there were many puddles due to the water dripping in during the times it rained.
A young man below the age of twenty was sitting on the back of another youth. That youth looked beaten, you could notice it by the number of bruises and his cut-up lower lip. He was on all fours and trembling, the other young man was sitting on his back with his legs crossed over one another using the other person as a chair.
“Hey, stop moving. A chair isn’t supposed to move you, cretin! Can’t even do that right you trash!”
The young man smacked the ‘chair’ on the head with his hand and laughed out. This was the young master that was almost robbed by the street urchins, he was sitting on the back of the person that tried snatching his purse, this was the oldest member of the group and the big brother.
“If you don’t stop shivering I might decide to punish those little ones there, you wouldn’t want that to happen now would you?”
There were about ten other kids all gathered together and surrounded by five cultivators, this were the guards of this young master. They had a little nifty treasure that helped them track these people here, one of the guards specialized in tracking as well. It could home in on a person that was recently touched by the person controlling it, one of the guards had touched the boy as he was trying to grab the young master’s purse and so that’s how they found the little guy’s hideout.
“Young master, these kids won’t be worth much I’m afraid. They all look frail and lack any cultivation.”
One of the guards reported while looking at the children, they ranged from the ages of four to thirteen, the oldest being the one that his master was sitting on and he was just fourteen. They had miscalculated this robbery, the hidden guards weren’t noticed as they were of quite the high caliber.
“Damn, useless as always. Why is a bunch of trashes like you even in this city, not worth the dirt under my boots.”
He smacked the kid that he was sitting on again, thinking about what he should do with this bunch of useless urchins. He was mad at the new Zhang Clan, usually what he would do to people like this was having his people sell them for whatever they could to the slavers as criminal or debt slaves. The new power in town had decided to ban slavery though, this being a bit of a thorn in this young master’s side.
“Those damn Zhang Clan retards, why do they prevent us from making a living, not like you can do anything more with trashes like these. Though we could still sell them on the side, no one has to know… hehe…”
He finally got fed up and stood up from the youth’s back, giving him a kick to his stomach that sent him rolling over against a wall and towards the shivering children.
“L-leave big brother alone, you big bully!”
One of the younger children spoke up, it was a young girl that was now rubbing her brother’s belly while looking at the young master with tears in her eyes.
“Huh?, you dare look at this young lord with those kinds of eyes! You there, give her a good slap!”
He pointed to one of his guards, the man in question just nodded and moved in the direction that the child was standing in, ready to follow his master’s instructions. But as he was about to give the poor trembling girl a good smack he was tackled from the side by another youth, this youth came from outside and was little Zhu’er.
“Leave my junior sister alone!”
Well, the youth couldn’t really bring the adult man down. It felt like he hit a brick wall, the adult guard just standing there with vacant eyes.
“Get off me, you little s***!”
But before he could smack the child away he felt a chill run down his spine, he could feel someone looking at him.