Jin ZiXin felt like slamming his head on the desk in front of him.
When he had first taken over as Sect Leader, he had decided to stay away from the other sects and their madness. He didn't want anything to do with them, as they only ever wanted to talk about cultivation with him. In this manner, he had blown off the last Alliance Conference some decade ago, and nobody from his sect had attended.
However, there was a letter on his desk — threatening him very obviously — from the Heavenly Abyss Sect's previous sect leader. If he didn't go, then the previous sect leader would never return!
Jin ZiXin did not want to be sect leader! He wanted the former sect leader to to return! As soon as possible!
Groaning, he rubbed his hands over his eyes and leaned his entire weight back on his chair. He stared up at the white painted ceiling and wondered who he had offended in the afterlife for this to be what his life was now made up of. Going to the Alliance Conference would mean interacting with people that wholeheartedly believed in the whole cultivation nonsense.
They would be loud and vocal about it too, bragging about how many ghosts, spirits and beasts that they had destroyed during their careers. Jin ZiXin could already feel his ears burning from the secondhand embarrassment, and he was just imagining it.
He had gone before — he had been forced by Wu Mei, his then Shifu — so he knew what he was talking about. In particular, the contest between all of the attending sects that he had been forced to be a part of was especially ridiculous. One went around an arena, and tried to destroy the monsters that were there. During this entire operation, Jin ZiXin had spent it at the starting area, reading a book, because he didn't want to waste his time.
Obviously, all of those monsters were just natural phenomenon, some sort of interaction between the fog, the smoke and the faulty wiring of these peoples brains. Maybe some added content from the sounds around them.
But the fact was, there was no such thing as ghosts! Or spirits!
He could buy the beast thing, because they were proper animals that had just taken a different evolutionary road than earth's animals, but the rest was just pure superstition!
He took deep calming breaths and picked up the letter again.
It had not changed its content in the last few minutes.
He frowned and turned it around, trying to see if there was some sort of hidden message included, but no, it was depressingly straight forward. He had to take his sect (well, some of them) and go to this conference together with them, in order to discuss current threats to world peace.
Jin ZiXin had no idea what they were talking about. Did he mean natural disasters? Were a volcano about to erupt?
A tsunami approaching? Earth quakes on the rise? What?
However, he did realize that it was a miracle the previous sect leader was still alive, and he couldn't take any chances. He had to go to this conference thing, and represent his sect satisfactorily, or the old man would never return. So he would do his duty, and then he was going to go and find the old man. He would drag him back by his ear if he had to!
A knock at his door interrupt his internal stewing. He smoothed his face out and erased all evidence of his less then pleasant thoughts.
In a matter of seconds, Fan GuiRen's head emerged in the crack between door and wall.
Jin ZiXin rose an eyebrow in a dignified and elegant manner. "Yes? Do you need something?"
"I apologize if I'm interrupting your work." Fan GuiRen said, his whole being portraying kindness and warmth. Just being in his presence made Jin ZiXin feel better. Fan GuiRen continued, "There is someone at the gates, demanding entry and calling your name."
Jin ZiXin furrowed his brows. "Who?"
"They said their name is Yue." Fan GuiRen responded.
Immediately, Jin ZiXin rose from his chair and rounded his desk, hurrying out the door and almost bowling over Fan GuiRen. It had been almost a whole year since he had last seen his best friend, a woman named Yue, and he was eager to catch up with her. She was the only one who had never judged him for not believing in cultivation.
He did, however, wonder why she had made her presence known. In all of the years that they had known each other, she had never let anyone else catch onto their meetings, demanding he keep them strictly secret.
So the question was, why was she now announcing her own presence?
Jin ZiXin almost flew down down to the Sect's official gates, past all 9999 steps up the mountain, and was greeted by the sight of Hui DuYi and Liu Xiang standing in front of Yue with their gleaming silver swords drawn. If this was a fantasy novel, he would say that they were releasing killing intent.
"What do you think you're doing?!" Jin ZiXin snapped at them, skidding down in front of them sliding over until he covered Yue from their sights.
Hui DuYi, normally so cheerful and smiling, frowned at him and asked, "Do you know this demoness, Sect Leader?"
"Surely not!" interrupted Liu Xiang, who with his tightly bound hair and goat-tee, always seemed especially stern. He proceeded to say, "Sect Leader might be a fool, but even he would not consort with demons!"
"Sheathe your swords." Jin ZiXin ordered, choosing to ignore the comment on his intelligence.
They only rose them higher. Hui DuYi asked, "Please step out of the way, Sect Leader."
"I have known Yue for many years and I can assure you, she is no demon." Jin ZiXin stated clearly, his voice carrying over the small distance. Silence was his only response, even the birds stopped chirping.
It seemed, somehow, like time froze.
But then the moment passed, and both Hui DuYi and Liu Xiang paled dramatically, their swords dropping to the ground as they stared at him with horrified eyes.
"Sect Leader, you can't, yo can't be serious?" Hui DuYi stammered out, seemingly utterly bewildered.
Jin ZiXin took a wider stance, preparing to use his hard-won martial skills if the need must. "I absolutely am. I will not allow you to hurt my friend."
"That's sweet of you, darling, but I don't require your assistance."
The sickeningly sweet voice came from behind him, startling the other two men. They twirled around, trying to look behind him, but Jin ZiXin just kept on moving to block their sight. He was relieved to note that Yue did not appear to be very injured, as she didn't sound strained.
Jin ZiXin stated flatly, "It is my choice if I help or not, not yours."
"Aww...." Yue's arm slid into his, until they were holding arms, and she leaned her whole weight on him as she drawled out, "My very own knight in shining armor."
Jin ZiXin easily gave into the urge to roll his eyes, and he loosed his body. If she was well enough to make jokes with him, then she was in no danger from these men. After all, Jin ZiXin had personally seen exactly how devastating her martial arts skills were. These old men with delusions of grandeur had nothing on her.
Instead of escalating this into an ego fight, he turned his face toward her and smiled. "It's great to see you, Yue. I've really missed you."
She smiled back at him, her pale red eyes emanating warmth and said, "I've missed you too."
The moment was then promptly broken by Liu Xiang appearing in front of them, asking, "What is the meaning of this? You don't intend to take her into the sect's grounds, do you?"
Jin ZiXin rose an eyebrow, an action he quite liked, seeing as he hadn't had the ability in his last life. "I don't see the problem. She has already been on the sect's grounds dozens of times before, why would now be any different?"
"Dozens of —" Liu Xiang seemed to have trouble breathing suddenly, before he said, "You can't take a demoness into the sect's grounds!"
"Is there such a rule?" Jin ZiXin plainly asked.
"Yes!" Liu Xiang cried, his hands fluttering like he wanted to hit him. "Yes there is. It's one of the sect's first ten rules!"
"Ah." Jin ZiXin felt embarrassment start creeping its way up his throat. He knew even without looking that his ears had gained a red tint. "Well, demons aren't real anyway, so it doesn't matter."
"You —!" Liu Xiang was at a loss for words.
He couldn't believe the extent of his Sect Leader's denseness and obliviousness. For the first time in over a decade, he truly realized why having a sect leader who did not believe in cultivation — or anything it taught — would be a majorly bad thing. According to Sect Leader, he had already let the demoness into the sect's grounds many times before.
Who knew how many secrets she had unearthed! How many times she deceived his kindhearted, easily manipulated and ignorant nephew!
What if she had — no, Liu Xiang refused to even consider the possibility of them having intimate relations. His nephew was only three decades old, he was much too young for matters of the heart!
He saw the way this demoness clung to his nephew in all but blood, saw the way that Jin ZiXin did not even try to get away, and his vision turned red.
"Get away from him, you demoness!" he demanded harshly.
The demoness smirked at him, her hair falling over her bare shoulders seductively and her eyes shining with a malicious light. Her cleavage was on display enough to be indecent, even if her breasts weren't very big. Liu Xiang fought to tear his gaze away, determined not to be manipulated by her feminine wiles.
Meanwhile, Jin ZiXin looked between the two of them, wondering why they were just staring at each other, neither of them saying a single word.
It had been about twenty minutes by now.
Finally, Yue broke the silence. "I think not. Xiao Jin is my best friend."
Jin ZiXin quirked his lips when he heard this sentence. In his last life, he had never really had a proper friendship with a woman. As a boy, he had been taught as he grew up that it simply wasn't proper, and he had never veered from his outlook. But in this strange world where women could be just as strong — if not stronger — then men, where anyone could learn martial and swords arts by joining a sect or apprenticing to a wandering cultivator, he found things to be different.
He saw no logical reason why here, he could not have a female best friend, much less a female friend. Yue might look like the stereotypical evil seductress in historical romance novels — he wanted to erase the information of his mother reading them from his mind, but he had yet to succeed — but he knew from over two decades of friendship that she was more than that.
Real people were more than that.
He smiled, and said, "Yue is my best friend. I don't keep any secrets from her."
This was the truth. He had told her, once when he got really drunk, how he had memories of another life. He might have omitted the fact that this life took place in another world, but he did tell her it was one without cultivation. The morning after, when he had realized what he had done, he had been terrified for the first time since he woke up and realized that he was dead.
But she took it gracefully, and didn't make a big deal out of it. Instead, she just accepted it without prompting.
Yue was, without a shadow of a doubt, the best friend that he had ever had.