Shi Yue placed his hands on Xie Yi’s cheeks and gave him a gentle, quick kiss. “Not a bad idea. I’ll suggest it to the sect leader. Two Grandmasters going there will be a force to reckon anyway. As for the canyon, you’re right. It would be a relief if we could fight somewhere that’s destroyed anyway.”
“I’m a bit worried whether there will be issues about the flowers burning but I’ll ask about that and see if I get the answer.”
Shi Yue raised an eyebrow but didn’t inquire who exactly Xie Yi was going to ask.
“By the way, Xue Hua and Mingtian are preparing the outhouse where Zhi Ci is currently in. It will double as a place for Feng Yan and additional playground for the kids. That has the advantage that Feng Yan will also be there to watch over them.” Xie Yi yawned softly and pushed his current piece of paper away, then dragged another over. He was adding information as he remembered, which often wasn’t in order.
“We are sending letters to the sects. Once that’s done, we will start contacting the families as well. Bit by bit.”
“I don’t mean to sound brutal, but I never thought war needed more preparation than gathering weapons and people.”
“You learned a new thing”, Shi Yue said with a wry smile.
That night, Xie Yi went back to his own room, intending to ask Juxian about what to do.
Juxian leaned lazily against the wall like a creepy, horrid child-version of Xie Yi.
“Well, you already know my question, don’t you?”, Xie Yi awkwardly said and sat down on the ground to look up at the child who wasn’t one. Juxian smiled emptily in response.
“There’s no need to worry about fumes, although I still suggest keeping a distance due to the hallucinations. What I’d worry about is the parasite.”
“What can we do about it?” Xie Yi nibbled on his lip.
“Don’t enter the canyon at all. Don’t let anyone go down there and anywhere near the mother plant. If you want to burn it, find a way to burn it from all the way up”, Juxian helpfully suggested.
“Isn’t there a better way? If we can’t go down, we can’t be sure it’s all destroyed.”
“You’re not up against something from this plane. That is the greatest insurance you will get.” Juxian laughed and the heart in his open chest did two strong beats. “I’m looking forward to your fight.”
Light flashed when he returned to his sword form without waiting for Xie Yi to speak. Biting his lip, the young man placed him on the side and thoughtfully laid down on his bed.
Contacting everyone who needed to be contacted took a week to accomplish but the sect leader dryly noted that they had never gotten replies so quickly.
All in all, the sects were more than ready to attack. They had been tense already, expecting the recently quiet Demonic Sect to launch an attack soon, so the information of a new hidden weapon on the enemy’s side as well as the appearance of someone with insider knowledge on their own, rallied them up.
Better now than when it was too late. Better have this fight and secure their families’ futures for another while.
Some people were wary or careful, but the pressure of the groups as a whole caused them to agree. Everyone was waiting for the biggest sects to give the sign. Everyone hurried with their preparations.
When Feng Yan came up the mountain, his first comment was that the tension was noticeable and everyone was a tad bit quieter without knowing why.
His next comment had been that Xie Yi had grown a lot.
Feng Yan was a very pragmatic man. He did not complain about the outhouse and was very happy with where he was staying. He had a resigned expression on his face at seeing Xie Yi’s, well, family - cultivators really were a weird group.
So… his kind-of-adopted son was now dating his much older master, he called a beast his older brother, that beast had a son in animal form…
Normal people didn’t need to think too much about it. They were a weird bunch.
After some talking, a normal furnace was added to the house so Feng Yan could busy himself as usual. The quality had to be downgraded several times before the old smith was sure he could actually work with it.
In the following days, the sect leader brought over Xiang Zhe to live with Feng Yan. The young man took it as the place being secure due to the two large beasts, but the house owners knew that the main reason why perfect-bait Xiang Zhe was placed in the security of Shi Yue’s house was the deity in the cellar.
Said deity who had taken over teaching Su Liang, whose strength grew exponentially every time he ate a bellflower and who was starting to accidentally break things.
Not only their own sect, every single sect was waiting and quietly but quickly gathering their families.
And finally the one they waited for talked.
The mental strain was bad for a child her age, but surprisingly it was the thought of a better life and revenge that ultimately made her overcome her fears. She talked in chopped sentences, not to anyone else in the room but only to Zhi Ci and Xie Yi.
Everything she said was a confirmation of Xie Yi’s knowledge and guesses.
That sect wasn’t far from finding a way to harvest the flowers in the canyon. Once they did, they’d have more of that terrible powder that could let a person fall under their control. This was unacceptable.
The world was turning quiet like a beast waiting to pounce its prey; both sides watching the other with teeth showing, prepared to fight.
There was no doubt the Demonic Sect was beginning to understand that a war was coming. They only did not know where it would start yet, and they weren’t in a hurry to take the first step.
They had time.
“A week”, the sect leader said at that point. “One more week. Everyone, rest well. And…”
He did not finish his sentence, causing the younger disciples of the sect to look on blankly. Only the more experienced ones knew what he did not say and lowered their heads.
...And remember to take care of everything that needs to be done, as you won’t know whether you will get another chance ever again.
Xie Yi decisively moved into Shi Yue’s room. The man was shooed out from his office and forbidden to do any more paperwork.
“Spend time with your beloved and talk about what you’re going to do, instead”, the sect leader decided for him. “You two have a special task and in a way, the most dangerous one. Don’t waste your time right now. It’s better to be close and enjoy the peace we have right now.”
The world was at a standstill. No one paid for anything in the sect right now and nothing else was planned. Nothing would be done except ensuring the safety of those who would stay, which included a number of young and frightened disciples.
Xie Yi took the order very literally. He was clingy.
To be exact, if he felt like it, he’d simply climb Shi Yue and hang off him like a leech.
Shi Yue thought it was adorable, so he carried his little lover around as he pleased.
“What we will do is basically infiltrate the main building, set bombs in certain places, blow them up and run”, Shi Yue said while deep in thought. Xie Yi sat on his lap, wrapped in his arms and stared at the same map. “And kill whoever is conveniently in our way.”
“If all bombs or even most of them manage to go off, we will have destroyed a number of troublesome places. They’re all weak points of the arrays, too, and should collapse.”
“That would be perfect”, Shi Yue wistfully replied. He tugged the other closer, under his chin, and closed his eyes. “Let’s say we have the gods on our side. I’m sure things will work out.”