Xie Yi tried to tilt his head and failed. He felt like paralyzed, with his whole body quivering weakly. Obviously the drug was strong enough for a wee little one like himself, unexpectedly.
It would maybe take about another fifteen to twenty minutes for the first boars to arrive. There was a chance that Shi Yue would be back by then, but… He had said two to three hours. Cultivators of that rank rarely misjudged the time needed for things they had done often.
So, he couldn’t move. Xie Yi continued to stare blankly on the ground.
He was rather unresigned to die like this. If Shi Yue had been the one to do it then it would have been another story, but Yao Ming? No way he could let that bastard kill him.
A voice whispered in his ear.
But, isn’t he right?
Why was he not nervous even when facing death? Ahh, he had already lost his fear of his own death so long ago. That wasn’t a very human thing, was it? Shouldn’t he be scared? Yes, he didn't want to die, but that was a completely different thing from fearing it. Death wasn't a scary thing.
A lot of people had called him a monster. In this world, whatever the masses and the powerful said, it was correct. The Virtuous Sect had called him a monster, too.
Just because his body changed, did that make him any less a monster now? Was this something of the soul and memories, or something of the body?
Was he truly going down a different path this life? There were two mangled corpses that had appeared in the city whose souls would be dragging at his feet. They had tried to kill him, so it was self-defence, but Shi Yue always said to not overdo it with your punishments.
Had that been too much? Had killing them something only a monster would do?
Annoying. He just couldn’t understand. Why were things so hard? Why were they so complicated?
Was he doomed to forever be a monster just because he had made mistakes in his past life? Were they the type that could never be forgiven? But then why was he even in this place, like a second chance?
The one thing he didn’t want was to trouble Shi Yue. If Shi Yue came back and saw his dead body… would he really not punish Yao Ming for it?
The bloody sea in his mind was raging, furious. There was a part in him that wanted to fight against the drug in his bloodstreams even at the expense of his health. Surviving was the most important, getting revenge was the most important. He would never leave a world with Shi Yue behind.
Then there was the sobbing shadow, curling up quietly and heavily wearing down on him.
Xie Yi felt himself stuck at staring on the ground, his mind emptying out more and more with every passing second. His thoughts felt blank.
Don’t understand, don’t understand. The last time it was like this, I felt so much better after dying. Maybe it’s not that bad. At least, it wouldn’t feel like this.
He felt like the beasts were coming closer, carefully, somewhere at the edge of his awareness. They moved carefully, suspicious of the silence at the camp maybe. Not that long for them to appear, after all, or maybe he had been stuck in his daze for quite some time.
Then they halted.
Rustling sounded to his left. Something moved through the woods, coming closer and closer. The birds turned quiet. The wind stopped howling.
Unable to move anyway and still dizzy, Xie Yi showed no obvious reaction the what was approaching him.
When it reached the small clearing they were at, the rustles turned to steps that only stopped for a moment, then quickened.
Xie Yi turned his eyes just the slightest bit up to meet the bright turquoise in front of him.
The person - who was, with any respect, absolutely identifiable as not a human - blinked awkwardly and lowered his dark eyebrows. He opened his mouth and shut it. Scratched his cheek.
All in all, the weird person looked genuinely uncertain about what to think.
His messy hair looked like fur standing up into all directions and the ears peeking out looked a bit pointed. The teeth that were revealed when he had opened his mouth were sharp, but despite everything, the man didn’t look intimidating to Xie Yi.
“MingMing”, he somehow managed to pronounce through his paralyzed lips.
The man lowered his eyes in slight unhappiness. “Ah? What kind of nickname is that? My name is Wu Mingtian, you know.”
“Depressing”, Xie Yi whispered, his lips pulling into a faint smile that was all he could manage.
“How do you even know my name, little guy? If you can give me a nickname, then I can give you one, too.” He thought a bit about it. “Since your eyes look like the sky when the sun sets, how about ‘Xiao Tian’? It’s just like in my name, Mingtian. Alright, we both gave the other a nickname, so let’s be friends.”
With that, Wu Mingtian smiled brightly.
Xie Yi wanted to laugh, but his paralyzed body had trouble dealing with the movement and he slightly choked.
So familiar. As expected, MingMing had always been easygoing. He even appeared here, so close by the sect, years before he had his last time - probably out of a whim.
It had been the same back then, too. MingMing finding him in a ravine, hurt, and randomly taking an interest in him because of his eyes. They had each given the other a nickname, and that was it. The spiritual beast had stayed with him and accompanied him. They never truly asked the other about their past.
They just relied on each other without questioning it.
“You still need to tell me whether we’re friends now”, Mingtian reminded him, sitting in the same posture that Yao Ming had had before.
It felt completely different when he did it. Mingtian had a whimsical aura, like an emperor so powerful that everyone had to bend under his moods anyway. If he wanted to play, who would stop him? If he wanted to kill, who would stand in his way? So what if he wanted to act like a child? There wasn’t anyone who could scold him for it.
“Un”, Xie Yi forced out again, his eyes slowly returning to brightness.
Mingtian was overjoyed. Look, that one had a similar smell to the one in the memory-flashes! He somehow did look weak, but that was fine, because he himself was strong. He could watch out for the kid.
They were friends now. That was great, because he was sure he would be happy with him.
Sheesh, he had been searching for, what, several years already? Nie had said his mood would get better once he started travelling, and it did indeed! Who cared about those stupid others, humpf! He didn’t need them!
...Hm, to tell the truth, his mood hadn’t been that good. But somehow, just seeing the kid, he could feel himself bloom in happiness.
Such a good and cute child! He patted Xie Yi’s head while showing off his teeth. Just that the child was really rather… still.
“Uhm”, Xie Yi croaked. Right, he had forgotten that MingMing was fond of only seeing what he was interested in. “Drug-...d.”
Mingtian paused, then twisted his face and sniffed. It did actually smell a bit like herbs here… and rabbit. And crushed beast core. And some more herbs. And two other people.
“Well, lemme think… I guess this should do?”, Mingtian hummed thoughtfully, then used his overly sharp fingernails to draw a bleeding slash down his finger. Quite unceremoniously, he drew Xie Yi’s chin down and let his blood drip into the boy’s mouth.
It would take a while to fully work, but Xie Yi was quite happy just getting his ability to speak normally back. Mingtian's blood was of a level comparable to a strong potion.
“Better”, he sighed.
“Do you always let people drug you? Why do you let dangerous people so close? That’s a bad idea, Xiao Tian.”
It didn’t feel weird to be called Xiao Tian - that had been his nickname for his last life. Sect Leader Tiankong1Written as sky, both written with '天' for 'Tian' was also how most people called him outside.
Seeing Mingtian’s slightly disdainful expression, like dealing with a stupid child, Xie Yi felt his lips purse. “I didn’t want to. I didn’t expect him to be that brazen when my master is around. I guess I was foolish, but that won’t happen again.”
If this world wasn’t planning on treating him any better than in his last life, then he’d be prepared.
Mingtian scooted over and sat down at the edge of the tent. With lazy movements, he pulled Xie Yi unto his lap and put his chin on top of the boy’s head. Not caring for the other’s dignity, he moved the child’s arms like that of a doll.
Xie Yi just sat with a resigned expression. At least it was comfier than the ground.
“In the future, if someone tries to hurt you, I’ll take care of them. Is your master a good or a bad person?” New little brother’s master had to be a good person or he would eat them.
“He’s the best person in this world”, Xie Yi proudly declared. “There’s no one better than him. I’m his only disciple. The trash that drugged me wants to be his disciple, too, but he’s not good enough-”
The black-haired child rambled on and on, happily telling so many examples of Shi Yue’s greatness that Mingtian immediately understood one very important point: Xiao Tian had a huge crush on that guy. That was a bit depressing to think about for his newfound brother, but it also felt very familiar and that was good. Anything that felt familiar was linked to those happy memory flashes, and he wanted those to become the truth.
Just that he really couldn’t help his little brother with that… He wasn’t very useful when the topic was love. How sad.