“Xiang Zhe? It’s nice to meet you. My name is Li Shi Yue, and this is my disciple Xie Yi.” Shi Yue bowed slightly and Xiang Zhe twitched back to reality.
He stepped forward by half a step and bowed neatly, much lower than the Grandmaster. His voice was gentle and kind. “It’s my pleasure, Master Li. Thank you in advance for taking care of me.”
The growl in the room got louder.
Xiang Zhe intended to greet Xie Yi as well but was stopped by the sect leader. “Better not. How should we say it… I don’t believe you will be getting along with him, no matter what you do.”
Xie Yi was glaring over Shi Yue’s shoulder. All of his good mood was gone with the appearance of that guy.
“Xie Yi, don’t glare like that. You are acting as if he has pushed you out of the role of my succeeding disciple”, Shi Yue scolded him.
Xie Yi lowered his head between his shoulders with a more than unhappy expression. “I apologize, Master. I’m trying my best.”
Two out of three people in the room actually did believe him in saying that.
“That… Senior Yi, did I make you angry somehow?” Xiang Zhe showed him a lopsided smile. “I have heard a lot about you. I would be happy if we could spar sometime?”
“No”, sect leader and disciple said at the same time. Shi Yue cleared his throat and continued their sentence. “I don’t believe that is a good idea. You will only get injured.”
Of course what he meant was that it would do no one any good to have Xiang Zhe in pieces after an accidental snap from Xie Yi, but his disciple interpreted it as worry for the newcomer.
In a highly possessive gesture, he stepped forward to stand next to his master and wrapped his long fingers around his master’s wrist while glowering at the stranger.
Shi Yue looked down and considered the situation. Normally you would pull your arm away if your disciple randomly took your wrist but he had a feeling that it would be a bad idea and this was a quite the small price for keeping Xie Yi under control.
With a huff, Shi Yue tolerated it and felt Xie Yi calming a bit.
The sect leader exhaled in relief at seeing the murderous little guy lower his hostility a bit.
Xiang Zhe, meanwhile, was utterly confused. His grandfather had asked the sect leader to take him in for security reasons. When he had heard that his relative’s disciple was a Grandmaster, he had carefully inquired if he could maybe get some pointers and his whole family had convinced his so-called uncle.
His uncle was a kind man and Xiang Zhe wasn’t planning on using that fact but he did not want to miss the chance.
He knew after listening for a while that Master Li had a disciple who was said to be highly talented. As for his character, there were very opposing statements of him being very adorable and cute, or very dangerous.
He had believed the former as he couldn’t think a Grandmaster would tolerate an unruly disciple but now that he was seeing this… Master Li even allowed his disciple to hold onto him. That was unusual.
Xiang Zhe did not like the show of disrespect from a disciple to a master. How could that kind of thing be allowed? Even his uncle was acting so weirdly.
“Uncle…” Xiang Zhe quietly started but the man interrupted him with a shake of his head.
“Since you will hear it anyway, let me summarize. Xie Yi has confessed to Shi Yue in front of the whole sect, so it is no surprise seeing him act like that. He doesn’t like anyone getting close to his master.”
The words stunned Xiang Zhe. That was tolerated?!
“As for this whole situation...”, the sect leader warned, “Please avoid clashing with Xie Yi. I will say this once: He is stronger than you and far more vicious if he wants to be. We would of course punish him if he attacked you without reason, but we can’t guarantee that we can patch up whatever state you will be in.”
“Uncle, are you really letting a person like that run around freely?!”
“He shouldn’t do anything like that. I’m merely saying this to let you know that you shouldn’t pick a fight with him.”
“Xie Yi.” Shi Yue stared down at his disciple who wrinkled his nose.
“I won’t attack him”, he grudgingly promised. Since Juxian was keeping him under control, he had stopped snapping. He didn’t attack people unconsciously anymore and wouldn’t attack someone who was precious to the sect leader.
That didn’t mean that he couldn’t dislike him.
“Won’t cause him any trouble.”
“...Sorry, I refuse to say I won’t glare at him.”
He continued showing his sour face. In the first place he… He wasn’t that good with social butterflies.
Xu Yan was a nice guy - people liked him but he kept surprisingly much to his own and did not have many close friends.
Li Mei had a very strict girl-friend group she stuck to and was quite distant with most other people.
MingMing only cared about him, Nie and Xue Hua and a bit about Xu Yan and Shi Yue.
Shi Yue did not let others approach too closely due to his status.
Feng Yan was grumpy.
All those he truly cared about were not the types to mingle into larger groups. People like Huo Cheng were only acceptable because they were very focused on their friends once in their groups.
But that guy, Xiang Zhe, looked like the type who would spend time with everyone and get along with everyone.
He already didn’t like him for that.
“I’ll avoid him”, Xie Yi grumbled. Shi Yue and the sect leader smiled wryly at that; this was Xie Yi making a large concession. He knew his own temper so he would stay away from the newcomer to avoid a confrontation.
Xiang Zhe was rightfully losing his mind. What kind of Grandmasters allowed some kind of tiny disciple to be so domineering? How special could Xie Yi possibly be that this was allowed?
Obviously he did not understand - at the latest when the sect leader had seen the way his disciple had hugged a sleeping Xie Yi, he decided to treat his grand-disciple as his disciple’s wife.
Similar to Master Chen, he truly believed that it couldn’t take too long before Shi Yue gave in and he felt that Xie Yi wasn’t the worst match for his disciple.
As for same-sex relationships… Who cared about that? Hey, he had not expected his disciple to ever marry! This was a pleasant surprise already, since it wasn’t that Shi Yue did not want a partner but rather that he hadn’t found one.
With that in mind, the sect leader couldn’t help but become even more tolerant towards the boy who was bound to become a Grandmaster one day with his limitless talent.
Seeing his nephew so unhappy, he spoke up. “We have our reasons, Xiang Zhe. You don’t have to think too much about it.”
Then he turned towards Shi Yue: “Mind if we watch Xie Yi’s training?”
“It’s fine”, Shi Yue said while keeping an eye on his disciple’s reaction. Seeing that he did not reject it, he gave a silent sigh of relief. There was only so much rudeness you could show.
Xiang Zhe and the sect leader followed Shi Yue to the side. To lessen the strain on the white-haired Grandmaster, the sect leader took over the activation of Xiao Jin, who actually performed a bow to his previous master before going back into stance.
“How amazing”, Xiang Zhe praised. “Is it gaining a consciousness?”
“Not quite”, the sect leader mused as he stroked his beard. “But it is correct that it does have a form of sentience similar to how spiritual swords have. It does recognize that I am its previous master… You said you gave it a name, Shi Yue?”
“Xie Yi did. It’s Xiao Jin”, the Grandmaster nodded. He knew that Xiao Jin had a vague consciousness, he could feel it.
Towards him, he was indeed respectful as you would be to your master, but towards Xie Yi he seemed to have adopted the position of a teacher - suiting Xie Yi’s wishes quite right.
For example, that Xiao Jin had a certain type of combat style was something that was cultivated by the sect leader and Shi Yue, but how he acted out of a fight was his own nature. Helping Xie Yi up or the ritual bow was not something that Shi Yue had implanted in him.
“It would be nice if he could have a full consciousness on his own”, the sect leader sighed. That was something a lot of cultivators had tried to achieve but couldn’t. Even if you did give it a constant supply of spiritual energy through cores, it would not move. It needed a rough command from its master, such as the intent for training or defending.
Shi Yue twitched a bit at that but kept his face straight.
Sure, they did not know how to do that yet… But in roughly 200 years, there would be very few cases of it.
He himself did not know how it worked - it was something the Demonic Sect had come up with.
Would Xie Yi know the process? Maybe you could adapt it to a more normal method. He knew that Xie Yi had had a mechanical subordinate who did nothing but patrol around the sect.