By the time Xue Hua appeared on the horizon, Mingtian was rigid, then climbed into Xie Yi’s back in a panic. The boy watched curiously and without worry, but Shi Yue noted the behaviour awkwardly.
Xue Hua was, after all, a very strong beast. Too much for the puppy.
“Let him hide”, Shi Yue suggested. “Xue Hua might be scaring him.”
Xie Yi felt that this was very off - the Mingtian he knew didn’t cower, no matter the opponent. Even in front of a dragon - three times larger than himself - Mingtian had stood proudly and with bared teeth, refusing to back down. Now he was hiding because of Xue Hua’s aura? That did seem weird, but the Mingtian of this life wasn’t as strong and mature as the one in his past life yet. Maybe those years made the difference.
Xue Hua could barely land on the small clearing, folding his wings up awkwardly and raising his upper body to take up less space.
Ying Hua slipped down his back, landing on the ground. The year of growing still had her as tall as Xie Yi, with her soft and delicate face hinting at her future beauty. The red-brown locks had just grown longer and fell softly over her shoulder.
When she spotted Xie Yi, her eyes darkened and she stalked over like a queen, crossing her arms as she looked down at the sitting boy. The wind that made her sleeves billow did nothing to lower the surprisingly imposing aura of the girl.
“Who did this”, she demanded to know in irritation. Just like she always bickered with Xue Hua; just the fact that she habitually snubbed Xie Yi did not mean she didn’t like him. If she didn’t like someone she simply would never cross paths with that person. The bickering was just part of her personality. Now, seeing the kid she was actually rather fond of, looking so ruffled and with stiff, paralyzed movements, she was very unhappy.
“Yao Ming tried to kill me”, Xie Yi didn’t hesitate to say. What was there to hide about it? It was the truth.
“Who?”, she asked, lowering her eyebrows and looking at Shi Yue, who lightly flicked a finger against her head. She made a sound in protest.
“The young cultivator who often accompanied me on missions and wants to be my disciple”, Shi Yue tried to help her memory.
Ying Hua merely tilted her head, then snorted. “Too many of those. Hmm, this time, I will have to remember his name - dares to try and kill a Grandmaster’s disciple while the Grandmaster is around! How insolent!”
At that moment, Xie Yi couldn’t help but feel that this girl was actually very adorable. While talking about how Shi Yue was being offended, she had already gone down to her knees, checking Xie Yi and holding his wrist to feel his pulse, then stretching his eyes to look at his pupils. Her tirade of some stupid cultivator daring to act overbearing continued, her mouth only stopping when her hands also stopped.
Shi Yue stood to the side, watching her with warm eyes and raised lips while Xue Hua lowered his large head to rest the tip of his beak on Shi Yue’s shoulder. It really looked like a father and his oldest son watching the young daughter act like a princess despite actually being very caring.
“Well, you look to be alright”, she finally concluded, stepping back and turning her small nose to the side, looking away. “Good. Don’t cause Shi Yue trouble.”
“Of course not”, Xie Yi pouted. That really was the last thing he wanted.
“So? What went down here?”, Ying Hua demanded to know, looking back and forth between Shi Yue and Xie Yi. Since the older cultivator himself hadn’t heard the whole story, he also turned to look at Xie Yi.
The boy summed everything up, leaving out some of the more uncomfortable things Yao Ming had said. The main point was what he had done, anyway.
“Why didn’t the beasts attack you?”, Xue Hua’s slightly twisted voice sounded. There was no way for the vocal chords that pronounced their own language to imitate human words well enough for it not to sound weird. In Xue Hua’s case, it always had a slight up-and-down to it and a higher pitch, like whistling.
Xie Yi shut his mouth and pulled his head between his shoulders, looking up at his master with a questioning look. Did he have to answer that? If Mingtian did something, then he normally went along with it except for that one very large mistake about not believing what he had said about the elders… Now, if Shi Yue wanted him to do something different from what MingMing wanted, wouldn’t that be really awkward?
Shi Yue wasn’t too intent on pressing the issue - yet - and just patted the large beast’s white beak. That was enough for his partner to catch the drift and not inquire further.
“What’s the plan?”, Ying Hua asked as she walked over to Shi Yue, hands on her hips. “You did call both of us here, after all.”
“Can I rely on you to gather some evidence? You don’t need to worry about Yao Ming, he will return to the sect on his own once he sees this. I will take Xie Yi to visit my master. It’s not that easy to make a move against the family of a Grandmaster.” Shi Yue tugged Xue Hua’s feathers and spoke quietly. It was better for the sect leader to be informed, even more so if Xie Yi was about to cause chaos. They had to stand together to keep the other man in check.
And he had no doubt that Xie Yi would have his ways to enact revenge. If things went wrong, then he could just clean up behind his disciple.
He was against mindlessly paying back people. He had told Xie Yi not to retaliate because everything was on the level of pranks and making Yao Ming angry would do him no good. Now, the situation was a different one. If Yao Ming expected that he could play around in a dragon’s mouth just because it hadn’t reacted to being poked, then he shouldn’t be surprised at being swallowed up.
It might not be an eye for an eye, but it certainly was a life for a life. Those that had crossed a certain threshold once would do so over and over again, and Shi Yue wasn’t willing to let someone like that wander around unpunished. Anything excluding killing Yao Ming - which would cause too much trouble - was something that he was willing to accept. His master was bound to agree.
Ying Hua nodded without discussion. “If he tries to get all bossy with me, I’ll show him”, she muttered under her breath and earned a warning glare from Shi Yue.
Ignoring the rest of them, she went to inspect the camp and showed them her small but dependable back.
Xue Hua already bent down to make it easier for Xie Yi to get on. “Come up, kid. I’ll take you there.”
Xie Yi was used to being called as a child and didn’t complain. Very carefully he picked up the bag, trying to not throw Mingtian around too much. He felt the beast slightly move against his back, pushing a paw into it, but not pressing.
Once he was certain that the bag was safely secured in place, Xie Yi began to climb up Xue Hua by holding unto the long feathers and climbing like a tree. Shi Yue watched him but didn’t help.
Once Xie Yi had found a comfortable spot, Shi Yue jumped up to stand behind him and then settled down comfortably, his legs hanging off to the left. Arm half-past Xie Yi in case he needed to hold the other, he once more glanced at the little girl walking around.
“Thank you”, he called out to her. “We will pick you up on our way back.”
Ying Hua waved without turning around in a ‘No worries’ gesture and continued to examine the rest of the rabbit.
Xie Yi found it a bit weird to let a little girl like her do the gathering of evidence, but Shi Yue had decided on it and he wasn’t going to question his decisions.
Xue Hua jumped into the air again, taking off. It was impossible for Yao Ming to not notice the large bird, but as Shi Yue had said, it made no difference. Everyone knew what had happened.
Xie Yi once again curiously watched the scenery below him. Due to his preference of riding with Mingtian and said one being unable to fly, he hadn’t ever really spent a lot of time actually flying. Sitting on Xue Hua’s back was a nice experience, even if Shi Yue helped him less this time with keeping the air away.
“What’s the sect leader doing?”, Xie Yi asked directly, still looking around. He knew that he was cultivating, but not much more.
“There’s a pavilion on the high mountain top a bit from here”, Shi Yue explained. “An acquaintance of my master just recently appeared around there, so my master is trying to get some tips from him. He’s the Transcendent who built the pavilion and the building behind it in the first place.”
Xie Yi gaped and turned to Shi Yue. In his last life, he had never even gotten close to passing the threshold to becoming a Transcendent and never even seen a single hair of a living one around.
Kindly, Shi Yue elaborated: “There really aren’t many of them alive. That one, especially, doesn’t like meeting with people. He was only going to tolerate my master because they know each other. By now, he should already be off somewhere, but my master will use the chance to work through whatever hints he must have given him. I wanted to avoid disturbing him, but you're his grand-disciple and he won’t mind.”
“I never knew that a Transcendent lives around here”, Xie Yi muttered.
“Of course not. For one, he rarely is around; he usually is in areas the likes of us can’t survive in. Besides, he doesn’t involve himself with human matters a lot anymore. Transcendents are the closest humans to deities - if they’re not careful, a whole country might be destroyed. That’s why even the judges of hell watch them closely.”
“That sounds scary. Are they scary? I haven’t ever seen them before”, Xie Yi mused with a small frown. He had heard so many stories about the judges and all of those things from his subordinates, but they were all very vague. Now he had died once and still not seem them.
“Don’t be stupid”, Shi Yue scolded. “How could you possibly meet them? Now, don’t pursue this topic. Some beings react to being talked about and we don’t want to call upon things we can’t control, do we?”
The young cultivator didn’t agree but kept quiet anyway.