“It’s a sort of destructive strike. It takes a long time, which is why it’s not possible during a fight.” Shi Yue explained the matter like a teacher. “Channels can only be destroyed when there’s a core linking them. That means you have to burst them slowly while ensuring that the core stays somewhat intact for the process.”
Xie Yi cringed. “That sounds painful.”
“It is. I would have liked giving him more anaesthetics, but that wasn’t possible. He took it… well, you could say. Better than many would have.” Shi Yue sat down on a close branch and leaned his head against Xie Yi’s shoulder. The youth rubbed his cheek against the silvery white hair gently.
“You must have hated having to do it.”
“It’s not a pretty procedure. If it wasn’t the only way to allow him to live… I would not have done it. Still, I’m thankful he chose his life over his pride as a cultivator.” Shi Yue softly closed his eyes. Xie Yi was a source of solace in this situation, simply by being there.
“I don’t know if it’s weird to say - but I’m happy you gave him the choice. Thanks for doing it, even though it makes you uncomfortable. It’s partly my fault, in the end.”
If he wasn’t reborn, there would have been no reason for Yao Ming to assume he was a demon spawn. If that had not happened, he would not have tried to kill Xie Yi and would not have wandered around to be caught by the Demonic Sect. He would have continued to grow as a cultivator.
“You shouldn’t think like that. Nothing is caused by a single person, everything is a result of many, many people’s decisions.”
“That’s a roundabout way of trying to cheer me up.”
“Did it work?”
“Aren’t I supposed to cheer you up right now?”
Shi Yue twisted his head to look at his lover. “Mutual consolation. I think that sounds good.”
Xie Yi smiled. “Fine with me.”
He leaned his head down to place a chaste kiss on Shi Yue’s lips.
The older cultivator, immediately tempted, lifted an arm to pull his lover’s head closer and deepened the kiss. He certainly got no complaints from Xie Yi.
Xie Yi nibbled on Shi Yue’s lips with sharp canines. The sensitive skin broke easily, filling their mouths with an iron taste and turning the trails of saliva red.
Xie Yi hummed happily. He did not know where it came from, but he did not dislike the bloody taste at all. Shi Yue indulged him and bit back.
Tongues intertwined, the two managed to steadily sit on two branches up high in a tree, their senses half focused on their environment and half on their partner.
Shi Yue mumbled against his lips when they slowly parted. “I’ve got written permission from the sect leader to take out Zhi Ci for a while. If you go to the prison with it, they’ll let you take her.”
“Oh, do you have it with you?” Xie Yi’s eyes narrowed and a smirk was on his face. He slipped a hand into Shi Yue’s clothes, not caring whether he found the paper or not. It was good enough that he could feel up on the nice muscles on his beloved’s chest.
Shi Yue’s face twitched. “It’s in my storage ring.”
“Are you sure? Wait, let me make sure you don’t have it here anywhere.” Without shame, Xie Yi happily kept on touching the warm skin until Shi Yue’s hands directly grabbed his.
“You are free to strip me, but please do that at night and in the bedroom. It would be a shame if I can’t react appropriately because we are on a tree”, Shi Yue forced out. How was he supposed to push Xie Yi down on a branch?
...Okay, it was possible because they were both cultivators, but it was still outside and daytime. Not exactly his favourite environment for this kind of thing.
“Means I am allowed to strip you, generally?” Xie Yi opened his eyes wide.
“Yes?” Shi Yue swallowed hard. “I mean, I’m not going to resist.”
For an outsider, it might be amusing how much both grown men struggled with gauging the other’s limits. Xie Yi did not know what was allowed and Shi Yue did not know what Xie Yi was comfortable with. Sometimes it was like talking past each other.
Xie Yi tilted his head back and squinted at the sun. “Eh. Still a couple of hours left.”
“Well, something to look forward to”, Shi Yue muttered under his breath and kissed Xie Yi once more. “My mood is better now, thank you. Go and fetch Zhi Ci.”
“You’re back in the office?”
“Discussing with the sect leader about preparations. Ideally, try not to walk in today, but don’t hold back if it’s necessary.” He rubbed their noses together and placed the letter of permission into Xie Yi’s hands.
No one questioned what the two men had been doing up in the tree. The guards at the gate did not care much for what the high levelled cultivators did and whether it made sense to them.
Xie Yi ran into the medical ward and, with a semi-apologetic smile, dragged out a confused Xu Yan.
“Explanation?”, the young man asked simply as he was dragged along.
“Fetching Zhi Ci.”
“Gotcha.” Xu Yan twisted under his grip and freed himself to jog next to Xie Yi on his own.
The guards frowned at first when they heard what Xie Yi came for, but after several people had read the letter and always handed it up one level of command, they were told to wait outside.
Zhi Ci stepped out minutes later. Her cheeks were flushed rosy and her fidgeting fingers were wrapped around her clothes. She ran forward and pulled Xie Yi into a hug.
At the side, Xu Yan stood frozen with a distorted face.
“Thank you! Thank you, thank you!” Zhi Ci’s voice was high with joy. Evidently, she knew what she was being let out for.
“It’s for her”, Xie Yi said simply and carefully pried himself out of the uncomfortable hug. It wasn’t that her body felt bad, but they weren’t close enough that he’d feel well being hugged by her.
“Xu Yan, thank you too”, Zhi Ci said and looked at Xu Yan with bright eyes. “I didn’t think I’d ever get to see her again.”
“It’s not only a happy occasion. We need her to talk”, the black-haired cultivator reminded her. “Everything she knows. It’s urgent.”
“Leave it to me.” Zhi Ci patted her chest. “She has always talked to me about her life. I don’t think she will have issues telling me everything.”
“We will be relying on you”, Xu Yan nodded.
Zhi Ci had to move with a collar around her neck and handcuffs. The collar was a bit demeaning but Zhi Ci repeatedly ensured Xu Yan that she perfectly understood why the sect insisted to have her wear this, which would seal her cultivation and sap her strength.
For a prisoner, she was in an exceptionally good mood.
Mingtian wasn’t around, but Xue Hua sat in his usual tree and watched closely over the approaching group. His eyes narrowed at the stranger but as she was accompanied by Xie Yi, he did not voice his worries.
“Where is Xiao Zai right now?”, the youth asked the bird, who merely pointed at the second floor of the house, towards the playroom. “Thank you.”
On the first step of the stairs, Zhi Ci started to turn fidgety.
“It will be alright”, Xu Yan tried to soothe her. He gave her a gentle smile and her shoulders visibly relaxed.
Xie Yi knocked lightly on the door and peeked inside. “Xiao Zai?”
The girl looked up meekly. Her fingers paused and set the building block down again. Qiang Ren continued to straighten the blocks, making sure the current structure was stable.
“You’ve got a visitor”, Xie Yi said and opened the door further to reveal the young woman. Xiao Zai’s eyes widened, then she squeaked and jumped up.
The exchange was completely wordless. Xiao Zai jumped into Zhi Ci’s arms and the woman held her tight to her chest.
Qiang Ren twitched warily at first but soon understood that the two were somehow related. He looked at his master, who winked at him.