“So, how’s it going with the whole succeeding disciple thing? I heard that it should be soon?” Xu Yan quickly changed the topic.
“As far as I know, there are people from the other sects already coming over. Like back then, after the issue with Yao Ming.” The invitations had been sent out and people were rushing over at the chance of hearing about the Demonic Sect.
“Where’s that guy, anyway? I hardly see him around. I don’t even really hear his friends talk about him, either.” Xu Yan frowned in worry.
Yao Ming had been around less and less, and he couldn’t even say on which day he had last seen him.
Xie Yi tilted his head. He hadn’t thought about that guy lately.
Although Yao Ming had tried to kill him twice already… He wasn’t as annoyed as before. Was that because his old self had vanished fully? He was thinking of it much calmer.
It felt like… a child’s tantrum?
Xie Yi snorted.
His physical body was younger than Yao Ming. It seemed that there was still a large discrepancy between how his mental age settled.
Xu Yan thoughtfully changed the topic.
“Are you going to give Master Li a present for the ceremony?”
“Hm.” Xie Yi hummed softly in confirmation. “But I haven’t decided on what to give him yet… What are the classical presents?”
“Materials. Useful stuff. Nothing that would suit you. Think of something yourself, I believe that’s for the best”, Xu Yan poked him.
Xie Yi groaned and went through a list of things that people would gift to others.
Jewellery - often for women.
Weapons, materials, pills - not suitable for a Grandmaster.
Flowers - more of a casual present.
Food - god beware he tried touching a kitchen again.
Pets - a rare present, and not good for Shi Yue.
“I don’t know! What kind of thing is good?”
“Well, what are special presents that only you can do? Like those arrays you are good at.”
Xie Yi went back to shifting into a stance. His pursed lips moved. “I… I can do some random stuff. I… guess I could upgrade Xiao Jin?”
“The paper-man?” Xu Yan choked. What did “upgrade” mean for Xiao Yi?!
Xie Yi nodded. Shi Yue had approached him about Xiao Jin’s subtle consciousness and it had sounded like he would like it if Xiao Jin would be able to develop sentience.
He knew how to do that.
He would only have to… adjust it to make it suitable for spiritual cultivation and take out all the bloody sacrifice parts.
“So that he has a sort of consciousness like a common spiritual sword. A base understanding of self, an understanding of language, and an ability to judge situations and react by himself. Somewhat.”
“Are you fucking-” Xu Yan swallowed the rest of his sentence.
He stared at Xie Yi with wide eyes.
The disciple pulled a face. “Uh… You didn’t hear that?”
“No.” Xu Yan growled. “I didn’t hear that, you didn’t say it, if Xiao Jin suddenly has sentience, then it was some kind of abnormally amazing discovery of Master Li. A discovery you have nothing to do with!”
Okay, maybe he should have expected that. Three hundred years of trial-and-error with various Master-stage cultivators. About a hundred that he himself participated in.
Not something a sixteen-year-old should know.
Xu Yan covered his face with his hands. “Can you please act a bit more like a normal human?! Xiao Yi, you have no guard against me at all!”
“But you’re always on my side, no matter how suspicious I am”, Xie Yi whined. He blinked his large eyes at Xu Yan. “I need you to tell me what’s above my level, I can’t judge it on my own.” - And MingMing doesn’t know everything, either.
The canine howled. That, even he could have told the kid!
“One day I will wake up to find out you’re a very bored Immortal that will return back to the higher plane.”
“If I become an Immortal, I’ll take you along”, Xie Yi solemnly promised.
“So you’re not one?”
“I kind of don’t believe you.” Xu Yan stared at him with a deadpan face. Maybe one day, Xiao Yi would tell him everything.
Xie Yi smiled wryly and continued squatting in his stance.
He often had that thought.
Maybe he could tell Xu Yan, and maybe he could tell Shi Yue. Not everything, only a bit.
He could say, I remember another life, I was a very bad person, but I am different now. I did not know a lot of things, I still don’t know then, so I’m trying to learn and forget the things that I was taught wrong.
I was with the Demonic Sect back then, but that was because I did not know any better. I only want to get rid of them, I am not on their side.
He did want to do that.
He did want to share his troubles and ask for help.
The only thing that was keeping him… was the fear of rejection.
Xu Yan looked at his friend’s dark and troubled face. “Hey, Xiao Yi. You don’t need to be so worried, alright? I’ll always be here to listen, even if I can’t understand everything. So if there are things you want to tell me, then don’t worry about giving context. You make no sense anyway.”
Xie Yi responded with further hesitation. “Maybe… later.”
Mingtian’s ears twitched. Tonight he would come to sleep with Xie Yi and in case Xu Yan did not react well to what Xie Yi would tell him…
Well, he couldn’t imagine that it would be a problem. He didn’t judge Xu Yan to be someone who would call people a demon for being different.
“So how long are you still going to be stuck up here all day?”
“Months, probably. According to Shi Yue, it’ll easily be half a year until I can leave the sect again, and even then, most of the times will be under watch. Well, that’s what I get for running out.” Xie Yi pulled a face, despite understanding why.
Even walking back to the dorms in the evening would result in a lot of people staring at him. Both because of the trouble he had caused and his confession.
“Think of it positively. You’ve got a valid reason to stick to your master right now.”
“That’s what I’m doing”, Xie Yi laughed softly.
At least no one complained about that.
With Shi Yue being too busy settling in Xiang Zhe, Xie Yi spent the day with Xu Yan. Although they parted for their meal, Xie Yi soon went back to his dorm room for the night.
Mingtian followed him like a shadow, walking close to him. His eyes flicked each time some passing disciples would whisper about Xie Yi. Not all of the comments were negative, but more than enough were.
The black-haired youth ignored everything with a calm face and directly entered his room. Thanks to the various mixed arrays, the room smelled both of ink and herbs.
“Welcome back”, Xu Yan called from his bed. His clothes already changed, he was lazing comfortably.
Xu Yan stretched on his bed, only his face turned to Xie Yi.
The youth only hummed and closed the door behind him with a soft click.
Xu Yan could feel that the mood was a bit weird and in a moment of realisation, noted why.
Xie Yi did want to tell him about whatever he was keeping a secret, but depending on his reaction, he would be killed, huh?
Xu Yan could feel Mingtian’s stare on him. A hunter’s stare, for once, not the usual relaxed one.
He didn’t doubt that he would be unable to hide his true reaction. If he really did consider doing something bad, he wouldn’t live to see the morning.
When Xie Yi sat next to him on the bed, Xu Yan flinched.
Xie Yi’s hands were placed on his lap, but Xu Yan had a distinct feeling of a sword looming over his neck and Xie Yi leaning over him like a beast ready to devour.
He wondered if he should reject hearing what Xie Yi had to say but… he did not want to do that. He could, but it would forever be a rift between them.