Shi Yue sighed softly and made a pacifying gesture towards the sect leader, who looked more and more enraged at every word. Looking at him, everyone in the room felt that there was no issue at all. “Alright, let’s consider for half a second that what you said is true. Where is the body? Where have I disposed of the corpse?”
The man opened his mouth but Shi Yue raised a hand to stop him.
“Xie Yi, why don’t you tell me about the general nature of a high-levelled cultivators body?”
Xie Yi obediently nodded. He felt a large number of eyes fall upon him, so he straightened and calmly named the main points.
“A Grandmaster’s body rots incredibly slowly. It can take weeks for signs of rot to show, and it burns several times slower than an ordinary human. Wild beasts, with few exceptions such as dragons, will not try to devour the corpse as it is lethal for them - they cannot handle the amount of energy. The corpse is very sturdy, especially the bones. There are ways of disposing of a Grandmaster’s corpse without many signs, but they’re all of demonic nature and require a number of materials as well as the corresponding recipe.”
Shi Yue spread his hands. “I don’t believe I’ve seen a dragon around in the recent years and I do not have the correct energy type to create the corpse dissolving solutions, either. Technically you could suspect me of having somehow gotten my hands on it, but that would imply I have connections to the Demonic Sect, which is a much larger problem.”
He showed a soft, wry smile.
“I understand that you’re nervous, but Grandmasters suddenly dropping off contact is not a rare phenomenon. He could reappear at any time.”
From two tables away, someone spoke up. “Still, your disciple came back covered in blood. That’s suspicious.”
The voice was loud in the silence, and so was the following sound of the youth slapping his hands in front of his own mouth. His whole table looked at him, while he slowly slid down his seat.
Shi Yue did not take the outburst to heart at all. Judging from the young man’s voice, he was merely curious - like playing a detective game.
“That is correct. Xie Yi was out for a couple of hours and returned with bloodied clothes. He could also have gotten weapons from me that might enable him to launch a successful sneak attack, with a lot of luck.” Shi Yue still went over the idea with a stern nod. Actually, it suited him just fine that everyone in the room was not regarding the situation seriously. “So, do you have any idea what speaks against him having done anything?”
“It doesn’t solve the issue of the corpse?” The young man awkwardly spoke up.
“A Grandmaster would notice him approaching”, a girl at the same table said after swallowing heavily.
“The core is gone”, another mused.
“There were signs of a fight, right? If a fight had happened, he’d be dead, not the Grandmaster. It can’t have been the result of Grandmasters fighting, it must have been beasts”, another threw in.
People began to murmur, exchanging ideas.
Shi Yue gave a satisfied smile.
The moment the whole issue turned into a lesson, the man grew pale. His hands were trembling.
Shi Yue turned his head towards him, his smile freezing over into a snarl. “I hope you will not accuse me or my disciple of killing someone with no evidence at all anymore.”
And even if you do have evidence, I will make sure it won’t exist for long!
“Once again, I apologize”, the sect leader sighed. “I can see why you will take over the Virtuous Sect. A few sentences and all tension is gone. Rather, everyone is seriously thinking about it.”
“Not the most ideal thought experiment, but it’s not bad to train their logical reasoning”, Shi Yue laughed. “I take no offense.”
“Well, me killing a Grandmaster certainly isn’t logical”, Xie Yi commented with a sheepish and honest smile that made the sect leader admire his serenity.
Of course he didn’t know that Xie Yi meant exactly what he said.
It wasn’t logical at all. If it wasn’t for something as illogical as his rebirth, this kind of situation was indeed impossible. How nice that there were too many abnormalities to consider before anyone would have a reason to truly doubt him.
But the most brittle point was the base of suspicion anyway: A Grandmaster was gone for a single day and hadn’t contacted some cultivator. Surely he must be dead, right?
That was nonsense, to begin with.
If the man didn’t know that the Grandmaster was here, and that he was here to kill Xie Yi, then he would never have to worry about Xie Yi still walking around alive and the Grandmaster being gone.
But he would never admit that, since if he did, he would have to admit his involvement first.
Xie Yi rubbed over his fingers, where his old storage ring had been exchanged with a new one. The one that held the sole evidence… was deeply buried with a couple of other items in Shi Yue’s hidden space placed in a piece of equipment on his ankle.
“We won’t disturb you any longer, right?”, the sect leader asked, a threatening undertone to his voice as he looked at the pale man at his side.
The man crumbled under the gathered eyes of cultivators from all levels, staring him down, and walked right past the sect leader towards the exit.
The sect leader gave the two of them a nod and moved after him.
Shi Yue, without his face changing, picked up his chopsticks and put a piece of vegetable into his mouth before scrunching his brows - the meal was cold. He placed his chopsticks down again and gave a small sigh.
Xie Yi chewed on the wood of his own chopsticks. “Do you want to eat out?”
“No, we are leaving tomorrow. I want to stay available in case someone here has to talk to me.” He’d simply eat something he had in his storage space. Fruit, maybe. He didn’t need much anyway.
The younger cultivator gave a nod and continued his lunch.
Very early the next morning, Xie Yi was woken up by Shi Yue entering his room. Peering out from under the blanket, he watched Shi Yue approach him and gently brush a hand through his hair.
“Come, we have to leave”, he said in a tender tone, brushing loose strands behind Xie Yi’s ear. The youth tilted his head, nuzzling it against the warm hand, and slowly got out of bed.
“So, we’ll be on our way now?” Xie Yi fidgeted a bit and fixed his hair. He wanted to see Xiao Zai. He wanted to help her.
“Yes”, Shi Yue confirmed. “Xue Hua and Su Liang have already left.”
The first rays of sunlight were tickling their faces as Xie Yi opened the windows, glancing outside.
On the other end of the courtyard, Xie Yi spotted the still pale face of the teacher who was still wondering how a Grandmaster could suddenly vanish. He held his gaze for a couple of seconds before turning away. He was no threat. It didn’t matter.
A small figure scrambled into the room via the window turned towards the forest. Mingtian shook his fur wet from dew and jumped onto the bed. Scorpion tail wagging, he looked at Xie Yi. “Good morning!”
“Morning. Let me see if I have everything, then we can go”, Xie Yi responded, petting Mingtian’s head lovingly.
The black-haired youth squatted on the ground and took out some things from his storage ring to organize, including his sword bag. He didn’t want to carry out Juxian openly, considering where they were going.
Mingtian and Shi Yue were having a staring contest behind Xie Yi, who was focused on wrapping up Juxian tightly.
They both knew that the issue between them was complicated and wouldn’t be resolved anytime soon. They were at a truce and weren’t planning on ever fighting it out, but that did not keep them from being a bit uncomfortable around each other.
Mingtian, who still felt like he was on a different side than Shi Yue and who did not want to hand over his little brother to someone who had broken him before.
Shi Yue, who clearly remembered all the deaths Mingtian had caused and the misery he had caused Xue Hua.
And yet, they could not stay away from each other, as one of their precious family was the beloved of the other. Besides, they weren’t stupid enough to ignore that the matters of the last timeline weren’t so easy.