“It should have just annoyed them”, Xie Yi muttered. “They aren’t dangerous.”
“Not dangerous, you say”, an annoyed voice sounded from behind them. Xie Yi twitched and laid his head into his neck, staring up at the beautiful pair of violet eyes glowering at him.
“Did I hear correctly, that you are somehow aware of what is going on here?” Shi Yue didn’t sound amused at all, his arms crossed like he was about to seriously scold someone.
Xu Yan scrambled away a bit, pulling his head between his shoulders in fear. They had made a Grandmaster mad!
Xie Yi, however, completely missed the point. “You can hear what everyone is saying?”, he asked with excitement. He could-... well, had been able to use those types of spells, too, but even if he was able to hear everyone in a certain radius talk, he was never good enough at filtering their words to actually find out what he wanted. It was a useless spell for him.
“Answer my question”, Shi Yue growled and his maybe-disciple-to-be complied happily.
With a few scratches of a twig on the ground, he roughly drew the array and explained happily. “It just creates fleas. They’re annoying, but nothing else. Why this chaos?”
Shi Yue studied the array for a moment, his eyes widening, then he rubbed the bridge of his nose with a sigh.
“Where have you-... No, priorities. Don’t move.”
And then he was gone, and back again, and all the cultivators running around suddenly stopped running around and just looked confused.
Shi Yue grabbed the collars of both children without a word and teleported himself off to the sect leader’s office. They knew it was that place because it looked like an office, and it had the sect leader sitting in it. The children dangled from Shi Yue's hands, tilted their heads up and looked at the old man sitting on a very comfortable looking chair behind a very imposing table. The man looked rather amused as he watched Shi Yue place both children - one frightened, the other curious - unto two chairs and then stood behind them like a guard.
The sect leader tilted his head and looked over the two of them before smiling gently. “Do you even understand why everyone is running around like chickens without heads?”
Two shaking heads.
He chuckled. “What a joke. To think that the mischief of two children could cause a whole sect to erupt into chaos. Good thing that this was settled in such a short time.”
“Why is everyone so scared of fleas?”, Xie Yi asked in confusion.
The sect leader chuckled again. “Little one, imagine this. You are in a tightly locked room with a few other people and suddenly, there is an additional unknown person inside. Small and weak, but you didn’t let them in. What would you think?”
“Well, they shouldn’t have been able to enter by themselves…”
“Someone might have let them in?”
Xie Yi pouted at the annoying conversation but continued on anyway. “It’s weird that no one mentioned bringing in the foreigner.”
“So what would your conclusion be?”
“There’s something bad going on?” ...Oh, so that’s where the problem was. He himself always useed those fleas to transmit diseases and curses, so other cultivators likely did the same. So then, maybe the sect had assumed that the fleas were dangerous and couldn't calm down because they worried about being attacked. Although- “Wait, are fleas that unusual?”
“Our arrays keep them out. They’re annoying.”
Okay, that sure explained everything.
“Whoops”, Xu Yan repeated again, also beginning to understand what had happened.
“Even if you say that you were it, we will still have to investigate”, the sect leader sighed. “Which is a lot of work. We can’t risk any danger. I truly hope you did just what you said and nothing else, but we will know in a while. Either way…”
The sect leader’s eyes lowered dangerously. Xu Yan turned completely white, freezing up and the old man suddenly blinked, waving his hand. “You can leave, little one. I’ll let you be interrogated by Master Chen, lest you faint because of me.”
Shi Yue nodded behind the two of them, then went to open the door where the nervous teacher was already waiting with a frown. They exchanged some whispers, then she hurried in, bowed to the sect leader and lead the pale Xu Yan outside. Xie Yi stared after him until the door closed.
The temperature in the room lowered abruptly, a sudden pressure pushing down on his shoulders. The sect leader’s golden eyes were once again fixated on him
“Now tell me, boy, where do you know that array from and more importantly, how could you use it?”
Xie Yi frowned, glaring at the sect leader and clenching his jaw. He wouldn’t just let himself be ordered around by the man, even though his questions weren’t a problem. He just didn’t like his tone. It was too familiar.
The pressure increased, but Xie Yi sat with a straight back. His bones were groaning and he could feel the cold sweat run down his face, but he didn’t budge.
Don’t wanna, I don’t wanna! I won’t listen to someone who looks just like those old bastards!
“Xie Yi”, Shi Yue’s quiet voice sounded next to him. Stunned, Xie Yi looked to his left, where the Grandmaster had lowered his body to be on the same height as the boy and carefully laid a hand on his head. “It’s important. Answer his questions, alright?”
The black-haired child let his shoulders sink and relaxed his jaw, opening his mouth. Immediately, the pressure was gone. With a raised eyebrow, the sect leader glanced at his successor who just shook his head, then listened to Xie Yi narrate the story, eyes fixed on Shi Yue.
First, how the array had been taught to him by someone he didn’t want to talk about.
For a while, the sect leader considered pressuring the child until he admitted the identity of those people, but he froze while looking at the pair of red eyes.
He’d rather bite his tongue off than answer, he thought. He had the eyes of someone who wouldn’t relent even under torture.
Shi Yue sighed. He knew the boy had things he didn’t want to talk about, but just this would place him under a fulltime surveillance. There was no way around it, the identity of the person teaching him was too suspicious.
“How did you use the array then?”, the sect leader continued to ask, listening to the narration. Shi Yue quietly confirmed to the boy being able to use his energy already, quite fluently, at that.
When Xie Yi got to the point of using his blood, the atmosphere did another tilt.
“Did the person who taught you the array tell you to do that?”, Shi Yue asked, his voice completely monotone. Irritated by the unnatural sound, Xie Yi hesitated for a while before nodding.
The table cracked loudly, lines forming from where the sect leader’s hands touched it. Shi Yue sucked in a breath, then grasped Xie Yi’s shoulders tightly and pulled him to stare right into his eyes. He was talking loudly, just like he had often done in his last life, but his voice was full of shock.
“You absolutely mustn’t! Ever! Do it again! Xie Yi, do you hear me?!”
His body was shaking back and forth, but Xie Yi still managed to form words between his teeth clacking against each other.
“Isn’t it useful for when you don’t have ink?”
“It’s very, very bad! Listen, whenever you use it-... It changes your body, you hear me? It does terrible things to your body, worse and worse each time! Don’t ever do this unless your life is at stake!” Shi Yue fought with how to explain to such a young child. What should he say? That the materials that were partially absorbed through the process would mutate his body bit by bit? That he could lose his humanity? It was too complicated.
“You don’t want me to use it?”, Xie Yi asked again, relieved that Shi Yue had finally stopped shaking him and looking up at the man with clear eyes.
“Yes. I don’t want you to use it”, Shi Yue confirmed again after breathing in and out slowly. Only after hearing that did Xie Yi smile innocently, nodding.
“Then I won't do it again.”
He couldn’t tell why the air in the room was so weird, but it did relax a bit after he said those words. The sect leader stared out of the window.
“He came into contact with cultivators of the Demonic Sect”, the old man growled, the table continuing to break. Xie Yi watched it curiously. It had been a nice table.
“The day after tomorrow is the selection day”, Shi Yue said, keeping one hand on the child’s shoulder. “Whether he came into contact or not, the more important thing is that he’s not with them anymore. I won’t let him tread that path.”
“Tread what path?”, Xie Yi interrupted with wide eyes.
“The path to becoming a Demonic cultivator.”
Xie Yi pulled a disgusted face, pushing down the fury in his heart. “I won’t! I’ll stay with you!”
Silence. The sect leader cleared his throat. “You intend to take him as your disciple then?”
The boy perked up. Shi Yue nodded.
“He’s very talented and I guess you could say he proved that with this… joke. It’s better to have someone strong teach him in case those people try to find him again, so I’m the most suitable. Also…” He looked down at Xie Yi, who was beaming and already gripping Shi Yue’s sleeve.
The sect leader raised an eyebrow. “He’s… attached to you.”
“I guess you could say that”, Shi Yue muttered, sighing again.
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