Mei Chao Bing stared at his empty arms and then at the gate of his courtyard. He could still see the little person fleeing in the distance. Maybe … he had been too direct? He rubbed his brow. What now? He could hardly just go and continue cultivating. Wouldn’t his little rabbit feel used then? Ah, that definitely couldn’t happen! Thus Mei Chao Bing already left his courtyard again and headed in the direction of the little house Yun Bei Fen occupied. He would just come back for his secluded cultivation a little later. Nobody should have anything against that.
Meanwhile, Yun Bei Fen ran all the way back to his house. He didn’t slow down even for a moment and he only stopped when he once again collided with a person. This time he was caught though.
"Fen’er, what are you running around for again?" Baili Chao put his disciple back onto his feet and straightened his robes. Ah, Yun Bei Fen might be hardworking but he could be troublesome in some other regards.
"Ah! Master!" Yun Bei Fen’s eyes were still widened and his small hands trembled. Oh, Heavens! He couldn’t forget what had happened just now! Uh, he couldn’t stay here. He especially couldn’t see senior martial brother Mei until he had forgotten about this!
Yun Bei Fen straightened up and jumped out of his Master’s arms. "Master, I … I’m going into closed-door cultivation!" He left that sentence and ran into the house, locking all possible exits and even activating the array that was drawn on the ground.
Baili Chao stared at the door that had been closed in front of his nose. What was happening here? Was that really his 'can’t go without seeing my senior martial brother Mei one day'-disciple that had refused to go into closed-door cultivation for a week even when his own Master begged him in the past? What had happened that he would suddenly go into closed-door cultivation on his own initiative?
The answer to his question didn’t need long to arrive. Mei Chao Bing walked down the path to Yun Bei Fen’s house with a confident smile on his lips. He had always known that there was something special in the way the little rabbit looked at him but only today had he truly understood what was so special about it. And the longer he knew the faster his heart beat. This somehow felt … right. As if it was supposed to be this way.
Baili Chao frowned when he saw Mei Chao Bing coming over. It seemed his little disciple had gone and done the thing he had explicitly warned him about. Well, he shouldn’t have expected anything else. Yun Bei Fen was just like that.
He sighed and turned to Mei Chao Bing. If his disciple didn’t want to listen, then hopefully this young man would be more mature and see the risks involved.
Mei Chao Bing looked at Baili Chao in surprise but still cupped his fists and bowed as he should do in front of one of the Elders. "Greetings, Elder Baili."
"Mn. Mei Chao Bing."
Mei Chao Bing’s gaze flickered to the house next to them and he cleared his throat. Somehow, he felt a little awkward bringing this up in front of Yun Bei Fen’s Master. "Uh, this one came to see Yun Bei Fen. I don’t know if …"
"He’s inside but you can’t see him."
Mei Chao Bing’s eyes widened. It couldn’t be Elder Baili would forbid him from seeing Yun Bei Fen, could it? Well, it wouldn’t be unexpected after what his Master had done.
Baili Chao sighed when he saw the young man’s gaze. "Fen’er went into closed-door cultivation. I also don’t know what this is about. He decided on it quite suddenly." He observed the disciple in front of him and didn’t fail to notice the way the tips of his ears went red.
"Ah, what a pity. Then … I should come back later. Did he mention how long he wanted to seclude himself?"
"No." Baili Chao turned to look at the house and sighed before facing Mei Chao Bing again. "Mei Chao Bing. What happened with Elder Wu isn’t your fault. There wasn’t anything you could have done to prevent it. Your Master was one of our most trusted Elders. If we failed to notice that something was wrong even though some of us became disciples together with him and grew up with him, then there certainly isn’t any way you as his disciple could have noticed. You are blameless."
"Thank you, Elder." Mei Chao Bing once again cupped his fists and bowed.
He might tell himself that he didn’t care what others thought but hearing one of the Elders admit outright that it wasn’t his fault still felt good. The fact that it was Yun Bei Fen’s Master who did so made this even sweeter. Unfortunately, Baili Chao wasn’t finished yet.
"Be that as it may, you also understand that this will bring trouble to you. There will be an investigation and regardless of what will be the outcome of this you will be under suspicion and your way from here on out will be difficult."
"Thank you, Elder, for the reminder."
"I’m not doing this for you. I’m doing this for Fen’er. This boy has liked you from the moment he first saw you. Seeing you in such a situation will distress him and he will certainly want to help you. He won’t think about the consequences. Maybe he is too young to do so.
"But you aren’t. You can see what this will mean for you and you can also guess what it would mean for Fen’er to stand by your side. You might be able to bear it but as his Master, I’m fairly confident to say that I’m sure that Fen’er isn’t the same. He would collapse under the pressure."
He took a deep breath and shook his head. "I don’t want to know what happened today but if you hold the least bit of affection for him, then you will keep your distance from him. At least for a few years. Give him the opportunity to grow into himself first. After that … whatever the two of you feel for each other, I won’t stand in the way. That is all I wanted to say."
He didn’t wait for Mei Chao Bing to answer and just turned around to return to his own house. As cruel as it seemed for his disciple’s sake he hoped that Mei Chao Bing would think it over well.