A hint of realization flashed through Xie Yi’s eyes during those seconds. Because his outer shell was breaking down, he easily fell into the habit of using the strong energy he was used to. It was more within reach now and if he did not make sure to hold it back, it would seep into his channels unwanted.
This time, he noticed it and clenched his teeth. On the inside, he was scolding himself for the lack of control.
Shi Yue gave him the break before going back to attacking quite violently. It wasn’t his style to be so aggressive but using this situation to change up his own style to be more adaptable was also good. It also served as a good method to relax and would force Xie Yi to go all out.
Xiang Zhe gave up trying to fight the paper-man after being defeated for the third round and instead focused on watching the match right beside him. He knew that the Grandmaster only named the quarter-hour as a sort of goal and didn't expect him to win against the opponent yet.
There was nothing on the floor other than a drawn circle, like a ring, but they never stepped out of the boundary. There was nothing special about the line, it was purely them watching out for it. Even with their eyes on their opponent, they noticed this fine line around them.
The Grandmaster was mostly on the offensive, while the tense disciple was being defensive and constantly retreating.
He had to grimly accept that despite both being men, they did not look bad together, sparring like that. Shi Yue’s movements were smooth and fluid, Xie Yi’s were quick and explosive. They both wore the same grey robes, but their hair colours were opposing.
Xiang Zhe sat down on the side and leaned on his arms to watch, leaving the paper-man standing stupidly to be the side.
Shi Yue did not intend for this to be a spar focusing on endurance or strength, but rather one for practicing movements and gaining new habits. Due to that, he was far from using his true strength and the spar dragged.
No matter what, Xie Yi’s stamina could not hold up against a Grandmaster.
Feeling his muscles ache, he raised up an arm and Shi Yue stopped. Xie Yi gasped for breath.
He could force himself to continue for another while, but there was no reason to do so.
He leaned over and steadied his hands on his knees. Sweat was dripping to the ground, quite contrary to the relaxed Grandmaster in front of him. It was irritating.
Xie Yi pressed his eyes shut and then slapped his hands so heavily against his cheeks that Xiang Zhe jolted up in surprise. The sound echoed through the room and his skin turned red instantly.
Slow! It was slow, but it had to be!
If he used the methods of the Demonic Sect, he could jump in terms of physical skill, but at what price! The only way he could catch up to Shi Yue quickly was a path that he refused to travel another time!
No matter how achingly, irritatingly, infuriatingly slow-
He had to bear with it!
“I hate growing so slowly”, Xie Yi growled while turning to look at the ceiling unhappily.
Shi Yue swallowed the comment that there was nothing slow about his progress and said something else instead.
“Really? I quite enjoy seeing your… slow process of growing.” The word dragged while passing his lips. “After all, you’ve been here since you were a child. I have never accompanied someone from their childhood all the way to becoming a full-fledged cultivator before.”
Shi Yue’s face was a bit too monotone for his words, although it was mostly the truth.
Either way, it had its intended effect and most of the irritation fell from Xie Yi’s face. The annoyance came in waves anyway, and Shi Yue knew it was also linked to him being grounded and unable to distract himself.
Xiang Zhe had the weird desire to clap. The scene reminded him of a tamer calming a wild beast…
“Go to the side and stretch. I’ll be teaching Xiang Zhe for now.” Shi Yue patted his disciple’s shoulder and the young man gave a nod while wheezing.
“How old is Senior again?”, Xiang Zhe asked in a whisper as he went forwards to Shi Yue. Xie Yi passed by him and left the ring.
“Seventeen”, Shi Yue said without mercy.
Honestly, anyone thinking they could compare to Xie Yi would suffer. It wasn’t fair at all. That was an incomparable mix of talent, determination, and a full life of experience extra.
Shi Yue wondered what he would have done if he had been reborn as a child. Probably use his memories to counter a lot of terrible incidents before they’d happen? Maybe flee from his family even earlier to find the man who took him in, and then his master?
Endless possibilities, and an endless mess you could cause. Xie Yi was quite tame, just coming here.
Xiang Zhe looked a bit downcast but waited for his orders with full attention. He didn’t allow his mind to wander, even with that kind of depressing information in his head.
“Show me the movements from the last time. Let’s see if you improved”, Shi Yue ordered.
Stretching on the side, Xie Yi had folded his body in half and was watching the two upside down. The sight made him grumpy.
He’d be a complete idiot to miss that someone like Xiang Zhe was an ideal disciple. He was proactive in asking questions without being annoying and listened to his teachers’ words.
Xie Yi was quite the opposite…
But Shi Yue had said he wouldn’t take another disciple, not yet! He’d have to learn to be more tolerant by that time. Much more tolerant.
Much more tolerant.
...Oh, he was getting irritated again. Stretching, stretching. It was better to distract himself than to let it simmer.
The lesson was a mere three hours in total, of which about half had been warming up, another half a cooldown at the end and one hour of sparring for each of them. It wasn’t long, but Shi Yue was too busy right now.
It was Xiang Zhe’s luck that he wasn’t forced to spar against Xie Yi. However, Shi Yue had another plan.
“Xie Yi”, Shi Yue asked carefully, staring his disciple straight into the eye. “Xiang Zhe is currently stuck with learning an array. Can I ask you to throw a look at it and help him out or is it better that I take care of it in a free minute?”
The young cultivator didn’t hurry to answer and seriously thought about the issue while his master and the other young man waited.
It was only about an array, so nothing complicated, and he wanted to help Shi Yue if possible. All he would have to do was stay calm.
“...I’ll just fetch Juxian and then I think it’s fine”, Xie Yi said with a grim face.
Xiang Zhe’s face turned white at the fact that his senior brother wanted to go fetch his sword before helping with a theoretical lesson.
“His sword has a calming effect on his mind. He’s not trying to threaten you”, Shi Yue explained without even looking over. “Well then, thank you. If it doesn’t work out, tell me the next time we see each other and I’ll find some time for it.”
Right now, Shi Yue would truly prefer that sort of work over the organizational mess he was dealing with.
That still did not change the fact that for the next half hour, Shi Yue was constantly interrupted by worried teachers reporting that Xie Yi had dragged Xiang Zhe by the collar into a secluded room, holding his sword in his other hand.
Xiang Zhe’s comment on all of this was that even if this senior brother was pretty insane, he still was very knowledgeable.
With Shi Yue struggling to find a couple of free hours for his disciple right now, Xie Yi grudgingly accepted to help out Xiang Zhe every once in a while. With a face filled with disgust, but he helped.
Shi Yue held back the urge to pat his disciple’s head and say, you’ve really grown a lot.