While Xie Yi was more or less thrown into another room to wait, Shi Yue sat down on the now-empty chair and held the eyes of the man before him. The silence was stifling, but he refused to be the first to break it this time.
Seconds passed quietly in which neither of the two backed down, just keeping up their staring until the sect leader decided that this stubborn successor of his kept his mouth shut so that he wouldn’t have to reveal any information that he wasn’t specifically asked for.
It was a behaviour common for older cultivators. Maybe it was the age that made them wary to speak of anything that they didn’t need to talk about. Maybe it was the topic, specifically.
He leaned back and let his fingers slide through his beard while watching that gentle but stubborn man.
“I didn’t press the issue in front of the boy”, he slowly began, “but you know that all of this went against the regulations.”
Of course it did. Just because a child said that something weird happening was just a prank, they’d never just skip the careful investigations. It was better to be too careful rather than risk everyone being in danger. And yet, just because of a word of Shi Yue’s, almost the whole investigation was cut off.
He would have never done it if someone other than Shi Yue had asked. But this was his succeeding disciple whom he trusted blindly, and-
Since he wasn’t asked anything, Shi Yue didn’t speak. Without a choice, the sect leader asked the question directly: “Why did you believe his words like that? He could be lying to hide his intentions.”
Shi Yue resisted the urge to sigh deeply. Had anyone else asked he would have refused to answer, but this was his master and besides, he already knew the answer. He was just confirming.
“...’The words that Xie Yi directs to Shi Yue will never be a lie’”, he said slowly. As always, he felt the uncomfortable lurching of his stomach. The prophecies weren’t meant to be shared, after all, so just saying them out loud made him feel sick.
“That’s interesting”, the sect leader said with widened eyes, his hands stilling.
Sword Spirits had innate abilities of differing strength. You could say it was almost a certainty for that ability to be linked to an elemental ability, but for one in every few million, the ability was more special.
Shi Yue’s Sword Spirit had an ability of foresight - it wasn’t controllable and might only appear in every few years or be rather a rather useless prophecy about a perfectly random topic, but there was one simple point that made it incomparably precious.
It was never wrong.
In all those years, in all those times that Shi Yue had heard and listened to them, the words of his Sword Spirit had never once been false.
The old man frowned after a moment of contemplation. “No, let me correct myself. That isn’t interesting, it’s abnormal. To never lie to someone? I can’t imagine that becoming the truth, unless… Unless he has only a short time to live.”
Shi Yue lowered his eyes to look at his hands on his lap. “I have considered that as well. Either way, he was talking to me when he told us about what happened, not you. He said ‘They are just fleas, nothing else’ to me. Given the prophecy, that meant that there was no danger at all. If there are things he doesn’t want to say then he just shuts his mouth, as you surely noticed.”
The sect leader nodded. “If this truly is the case, then we wouldn’t have to worry. That would be quite a relief, especially if he’s truly as talented as you described.”
Shi Yue gave a wry smile. “I’m wavering between thinking of him as a monster or a child loved by the Gods. If he can survive this weak childhood of his, he will become a Master with almost full certainty. As long as I can make sure he doesn’t fall into the path of demonic cultivation, we will have a strong ally on our side.”
“Well, he said he wants to stay with you and doesn’t want to become part of the Demonic Sect. That does sound good. It’s just that presents are never without reason. You are sure it’s a prophecy and not just an opinion?”
Shi Yue turned his eyes away. “It absolutely is. The opinion part would be ‘There is something very weird about him, but I have a feeling that you won’t ever have to worry about him betraying you.’”
It was just that everything sounded too good to be true. Too suspiciously convenient.
Silence settled in again as the men kept to their own thoughts. There was a fine line between teaching someone very talented. It was too easy to become hungry for power. Most people couldn’t resist the temptation.
He trusted the words of his Sword Spirit unconditionally, but a lie was a lie after all. Was something you said without knowing the truth, a lie? If he said he wouldn’t ever become a demonic cultivator, now that he still was so young, would it be a lie? It just meant that right now he had no intention to become one. What about the future? Should he just ask this question every day, over and over again?
What about things he didn’t know because of someone intervening? What if someone sealed parts of his memory to make sure he still appeared as the small boy who followed him like a chick did its mother?
Healthy suspicion wouldn’t hurt, so it was for the best that the investigation wasn’t cancelled completely. He would keep an eye on Xie Yi and watch out for any weird changes. A Grandmaster was a considerably enemy and danger that wouldn't be ignored even by several Masters.
Raising his arms, Shi Yue fixed his hair in place and then stood up, stroking his hand over his clothes to smooth some creases. The dark purple robe fit snuggly and comfortably, the silver stitchings made to suit his hair colour. He himself didn’t like the silvery-white colour as it made him feel older than he was, but he liked it on his robes.
“I’ll go talk to him and see how much damage the blood-array caused”, he said as he turned his eyes back up the sect leader’s golden orbs.
“I trust you”, the sect leader agreed with a nod.
Shi Yue bend his body slightly, a curtesy to his master, and stepped out of the door.
Once the door closed behind him, he took a moment to just stand and stare at the wooden floorboards.
Not just weird. His Sword Spirit’s reaction to Xie Yi’s existence had not just been weird, but there was no pressing info out of someone whom he knew wouldn’t give any more than they wanted to reveal.
How amusing. All three of them were really stubborn, weren’t they? Really, suitable as master, disciple and sword.
With light steps that made almost no sound, Shi Yue walked towards the end of the hallway to enter the room. Closing the door behind him, he scanned it.
It was a lot like a waiting room, with red armchairs and a table in the middle. Actually, it almost looked like a living room that invited people to stay. He himself found it quite comfortable, especially since the attendants always put tea and small desserts on the table, just like in the pavilion.
Where was the boy, though?
“Xie Yi?”, Shi Yue asked carefully, walking two steps and looking around again.
“Here”, a small voice came from the side.
Shi Yue blinked and then walked farther into the room, until he could look past the bookcase that was placed near the corner. Behind it crouched a small person, legs drawn tightly to his body and looking up with watery eyes.
“I don’t like this room”, the child complained unhappily before burying his mouth behind his arms on his knees again.
Shi Yue felt a sting at the genuine discomfort in his voice. Even when the practice was hard, the child never complained beyond making a few remarks that weren’t to be taken seriously. Now, he was curled up in a corner, refusing to sit on one of the comfy chairs.
“Why?”, Shi Yue asked, squatting down to look at him. He reached his hand out to slowly pat his head, hoping for it to be calming.
Xie Yi shook his head without a sound, refusing to comment. Judging that it was likely linked to the boy’s past again, Shi Yue just looked at the other door inside the room.
“Let’s switch places, then. I still have to talk to you about some things.”
He stood up and held his hand out for the boy to grasp. The child’s hand was tiny, easily enveloped in his much longer fingers, and he felt a bit cold.
Shi Yue pursed his lips. It was probably the blood-array’s effect damaging his body. He would have to check that.
Xie Yi stared at the hand that was holding his and squeezed it tightly while a smile was forming on his lips again. He laughed lightly, then pulled himself up and looked at Shi Yue as if expecting him to lead the way.
Amused, Shi Yue went up front to the door that the boy couldn’t unlock and placed his hand against the small array on it.
Turning, the array scanned his fingerprints before turning what was just a drawn-on door on a flat surface into an actual door that could be opened.