“Are they scary?”, he asked curiously, never having interacted much with spiritual beasts before other than killing them. With demonic ones, yes, but even then it was more of a submit-or-die relationship, quite unlike what Xue Hua and Shi Yue had.
“You won’t be meeting them”, Shi Yue simply commented.
Ah, that’s right. He was going to live at the common grounds, not with his master… Boo… He didn’t care about the lodging - as nice as it looked - but it would be great to be closer to him.
“Shi Yue, what’s your house?”, he asked, peering down. He already guessed it was the simpler one in the back, but he wanted to be sure. It might be good to know for… someday. And some reason. Anyway, it was about his master, so he had to know.
“Master Li”, Shi Yue corrected him in monotone. “There is no need for you to know, you won’t be visiting these places anytime soon.”
“But what if I needed to?”
“Okay, but what if?”
Shi Yue looked down and furrowed his brows, which was usually enough to send anyone below Master-stage into a frightened frenzy, but that unusual new disciple of his just smiled a tad bit brighter at the sight. It felt a bit off, that he was happy being scowled at, but Shi Yue couldn't be certain, given his vague knowledge about children.
Xie Yi made a sound of complaint, snuggling back into the man’s arms and looking over the higher grounds again. He had his thoughts, he would just go there if he ever needed to. He was bound to find a way.
Xue Hua, meanwhile, felt himself sweating coldly. Why did it feel as if that little boy wasn’t just a child? He was a bit too courageous, wasn’t he? His partner hadn’t taken in a disciple he personally taught more than occasionally before, so he might not know, but children at that age shouldn’t be like that… Aren’t you overlooking too much, Yue…
After a second circle, the bird made its way back to the courtyard where it landed. By now, some of the faster other beasts were reaching the sect as well, loading off their partners and the children before either leaving by themselves for the stables or being brought by one of the attendants coming out to greet everyone.
Like frightened animals, the new disciples cuddled into a group in the middle of the courtyard, curiously looking around.
Xie Yi blinked at Shi Yue, who waved him away, before he walked over to Xu Yan, who was already excitedly waving at him. If he had dared, he would have run over, but he preferred carefully staying in the group.
“Xiao Yi, you’re really not scared of anything, are you?”, he laughed, patting Xie Yi on his head. It was amazing how at ease the boy was.
Unhappy with the touch, Xie Yi pushed his hand away and looked around. “There’s nothing to be scared about. It’s not like we will be killed or anything.”
“Wow, is that really the first scary thing that comes to your mind? How about, you know, worrying about strict teachers, or not doing well, or maybe making enemies out of senior disciples?”
Xie Yi stared at him with an incredulous expression.
Xue Yan rubbed his neck. “Okay, I guess not. Sheesh, now I feel weird for being nervous.”
The disciple glanced around, breathing out slowly. Most other disciples didn't even care about them. “I guess there’s no use worrying, anyway. I’ll just do my best and hope for a nice teacher.”
From the information his subordinates had brought Xie Yi in his last life, even the Virtuous Sect had some bad apples hidden under their teachers. That didn’t mean that they were bad teachers, as in neglecting the students, but there were some that were unnecessarily harsh or hard to deal with. None of them would reject a hardworking youngster, but it was easy to get on their bad side and then things would become much harder.
Xie Yi wasn’t too worried about that, though. First, he was going to stay with Shi Yue anyway and second, he already knew the basics. Even just randomly trying to gather spiritual energy would cause his core to reach out for the particles around his body, ready to gather and filter them. It was such a familiar process, it wasn’t any trouble at all.
The first classes would be quite boring thanks to that. But at least he’d leave a good impression with how well he’d progress!
Once everyone was assembled, the teachers gathered at the end of the courtyard, the senior disciples (usually primary disciples of middle to high rank) who had helped with the examinations standing proudly standing behind them. None of them said a word, but the total group of about forty children understood well enough to quietly form wobbly lines in front of them.
Xie Yi joyfully went to the front, standing in the middle so he could stare right at his favourite person. Xu Yan awkwardly followed once he realized that it was plain impossible to stop the little guy from placing himself in the most obvious position.
Some teachers raised their eyebrows at the sight of it, with appreciation or surprise, curiously watching one of the smallest children look so much at ease. There was nothing but calm confidence on his face.
Behind the teachers, a few disciples scoffed.
A young-looking beauty with the golden eyes of the Master-stage cleared her throat, then stepped forward. The older children gulped, forcing themselves to keep their eyes up - and not at her very generous curves. They were all covered, mind you, but the robes did nothing to hide how well her body was formed. Add to that her sweet and gentle face and melodious voice; the older male part of the newcomers felt rather distracted.
“Welcome, all of you”, she began quietly. She wasn’t loud, but her voice carried itself clearly to every student. “I am Master Chen. In this sect, my main areas include the usage of herbs for both medical use and as weapons. Every teacher who is standing in front of you has their own area of expertise that they teach. Students have one main master to whom they are accounted to, but its also possible to be taught by two additional teachers in case your interests lie in more than one area - although that won’t apply for anyone below the second level.”
She quietly explained, ignoring the slight confusion on some of the children’s faces.
“For the next two weeks, you may visit each of our classes as you please in addition to your obligatory lessons. The obligatory lessons are for us to gauge your strengths, the optional lessons for you to learn more and maybe impress the teacher you wish to follow. After two weeks, you will be allocated to a master and from then on, follow their schedule.”
She smiled like an angel, then happily declared the next news. “For today, you can move into the dorm rooms. You may discuss with each other who shares with whom and in which room. Later on, you can change your rooms by challenging the students living in another room… But I suggest not doing that for now, as you will fare quite horribly against cultivators. I understand that this is a lot to take on, so for the rest of today, you should spend your time copying our rules for a better understanding of what to watch out for.”
A group of attendants stepped out, holding paper, ink and brushes with sweet smiles.
Some children thought it suspicious that the disciples behind the teachers pulled faces at that, but couldn’t find anything too terrible about copying rules. They had even seen the rules of the Virtuous Sect before - as they were also written on the main building right behind the teachers - and there weren’t too many.
In fact, there wasn’t a problem with the number of rules. It was also ‘just copying’ them. The problem was that the brushes were special. Anything written with them - enhanced by the special ink they were given - would burn itself quite easily into their minds, allowing them to remember all rules after copying them once. It also used spiritual energy, though, and not a small amount of it.
If a practised disciple used the brushes, they could control the flow, but for a bloody beginner, the brush would do all the work and drag out as much as it needed. Once the spiritual energy stored in your core was used up it would take the body’s strength, resulting in heavy exhaustion. Xie Yi was sure they’d be given something to regain their strength and energy (otherwise the copying would be impossible) but that constant cycle of absolute exhaustion and filled with vitality would mentally tire out anyone.
That, in fact, was already the first test. To see who would persevere under circumstances that were physically not threatening at all, but mentally more than draining.