Xu Yan was half a corpse by the time he was finished, which was close to midnight and a full two hours later than Xie Yi.
"Heeelp", he whined in a muffled voice that got almost drowned out by the fact that his face was planted against the table. That it was more an exhale rather than actual talking wasn't helping either, but Xie Yi heard him.
Seeing his new… partner so exhausted, Xie Yi just tilted his head into his neck to stare at the ceiling before pulling a face and dragging at Xu Yan. His wrists and body hurt all over, but leaving the child to sleep cramped over the table didn't feel like an actual option.
“Get into the bed to sleep”, he complained, pulling and pushing the groaning child a whole head taller than himself. Only with a lot of work did he manage to get the other onto the low bed where the boy immediately began to take deep breaths signifying his sleep.
Xie Yi glared at him. Not even a thank-you before he fell asleep. Rude. And that after he, himself, had stayed up to make sure that Xu Yan didn’t accidentally kill himself in the process of copying the rules.
Pouting, the pretty boy shuffled over to the other free bed and crawled inside, curling himself up in the blanket.
He had to make a good impression tomorrow and work hard. He needed to learn. The others were here to learn about cultivation, whereas he… needed to understand what he had done wrong in his past life.
Even now, he still found it hard to understand for most cases.
He could somewhat understand Shi Yue being mad at him for breaking into the sect. What he found harder to understand where things like why he got mad at Xie Yi for eradicating bandit groups and bringing him their heads as proof - weren’t they criminals? - or teaching cultivators that went against his subordinates a lesson.
Xie Yi was at a point where he was willing to believe that everything he had done had been bad somehow. He couldn’t figure out the reasoning, but that was all the more why he had to learn. He was aware: There is nothing more dangerous than someone with power but not the knowledge to wield it.
As uncomfortable as it was to accept that he had been like that, he had gotten his second chance for a reason.
He sniffled quietly at the feelings welling up again. That horrifying fear and sadness when he thought he had walked right towards a cliff his whole life, with no way to turn around.
Whimpering, he curled himself tighter up and pressed his eyes shut in hopes of falling asleep. The dormitory was incredibly quiet except for Xu Yan's continuous breathing that only slowly managed to lull him into a light sleep.
His night was restless and short, but Xie Yi woke at the first ring of the bell.
He stretched his small limbs from his body, then climbed out of the bed and rubbed his face. It was still early, so if he went right away, then the washing room would likely be empty.
Xu Yan, more woken up by the sound of Xie Yi moving rather than the bell, drowsily jolted up. “Wh-What? Xiao Yi? Is… is it morning already?”
Xie Yi gave a nod and Xu Yan groaned unhappily before falling out of the bed.
“Okay… I guess it’s time to wash up, then…”
Being used to waking up early in order to help his family was something that would prove useful to him in the sect. The attendants only rung the bell thrice and then didn’t care about whether someone would wake up or not. They merely stood in the hall, smiling when the two boys peeked out of the door. They had no doubt another female-male pair was standing on the floor above them.
“Good morning. If you wish to wash up, you can go to the washroom at the end of the hall, to the right. It’s the door with the sign for ‘men’. Please don’t try to enter the women’s bath, or we will have to punish you. Afterwards, you can either already go out or wait in your rooms until the official morning call. If you hear it, please assemble in the courtyard.”
With that said, the man and woman turned back to emptily stare into the hall, relaxed but unmoving.
Xu Yan watched them, a bit intimidated, only breaking out of it when Xie Yi tugged at his clothes. He could hear some footsteps, so some others had woken up as well and he didn’t want to be in a crowded washroom.
Thankfully, the washroom was quite large and clean, not even needing them to draw water. Everything was already prepared, including soap, so Xie Yi didn’t think too much about going through his usual morning routine. Cleaning up when possible had been a habit from his last life since if he didn’t wash well enough, there’d blood left over and that would reek horribly after a while.
Meanwhile, Xu Yan had fully woken up and got into a naggy mode. Xie Yi was too small and slender, he had to eat more, and those wounds needed to be taken care of or they’d leave scars - why exactly was that a problem, again? - and he should cut his hair a bit neater - for some reason.
Xie Yi let everything flow from one ear to the other, undressing fully so he could wash up. Xu Yan gave a small squeak, then twitched, pulled a face and muttered something about forgetting something over and over again, and ‘too adorable’. Nothing that really made sense to Xie Yi.
They heard the door move and moments later, more children joined them with awkward nods. They hadn’t gotten acquainted, not even introducing themselves to each other. Being accepted as a disciple wasn’t a race, but they probably thought that unless the other side had things to offer, teaming up wouldn’t be useful.
With that being the case, the washroom stayed rather quiet. Even Xu Yan didn’t want to continue talking after more people had joined them and quietly hurried up.
“Let’s wait outside already”, he suggested as they left the washroom, dressed in their new robes and carrying their sleepwear to their rooms. “Maybe we can find someone and ask about how things are working here. I’m really not comfortable with waiting for them to tell us… It’s been a whole night and I haven’t heard anything about meals and stuff.”
He paused, surprised. “That reminds me, we didn’t even have dinner, did we? We just wrote the whole night!”
“The drink was intended to also work as dinner”, Xie Yi commented. "Or you could have asked an attendant if you needed more."
After he had started living with Feng Yan, he had found out that usually, people ate at set times. A bit weird - because, why not eat when you are hungry - but people did that. If they missed a meal, they’d get irritated as if they had to wait for the next one.
Xu Yan appeared rather surprised about having missed dinner without realizing it. “So that’s how it is. How do you know about that?”
Xie Yi shrugged, earning himself a questioning glance but ignoring it completely. He was more interested in outside.
As he had expected, the courtyard was already bustling; the noise had only been cancelled out by the arrays around the dorm.
A large number of lower levelled cultivators were spending their free time in the courtyard talking or moving around, some curiously turning to the two children coming out. Not all of them had friendly looks, but not all were hostile - which was a good thing.
“Are you two waiting for the morning call?”, a female voice asked them. Turning their heads, the two spotted a young woman approaching them with smooth steps, her long hair moving in the wind.
Her purple robe was a softer colour, almost pink, and with white adornments. Coupled with her soft features and golden-brown hair, she was quite the beauty. Her smile, like a blooming flower, enhanced her approachable aura.
Xu Yan flushed at the sight of her and stuttered an answer. “Y-Yes, we thought, we thought we’d wait outside…”
She chuckled at his nervosity. “That’s a good decision. The teachers don’t like it when you’re late, so you’ll definitely make a better impression by being early. You’re the batch that came yesterday, right? You can call me Li Mei. I’m one of your seniors and of the fourth level, medical division. If you need someone poisoned, come to me.”
She winked at them with a light laugh, easing the mood considerably.
“I’m Xu Yan”, the taller boy replied after swallowing. “And this is Xie Yi. We, uh, don’t have a division yet. Only in two weeks.”
“Nice to meet you”, Li Mei answered, her eyes turning into half-moons as she smiled widely.
“I know, that’s how it always is. I bet you’re nervous, right? Don’t worry. You’ll be led into the main hall after the morning call and there you’ll get all the info you need. After that, it’s time for breakfast for you. You should eat well, the first day already includes training”, she warned them sternly.
“Thank you for telling us, Senior Sister”, Xu Yan sighed, deflating. “Training, huh… I’m still sore from the rules… It took me forever to finish them.”