Xie Yi ignored the way his hair stood on all ends as they approached the very beautiful pavilion. Shi Yue kept on pushing him lightly from behind, herding him forward, and he climbed step by step with his small hand gripped tightly around Shi Yue’s robe.
His instincts were very unhappy with walking towards a place of such powerful spiritual energy belonging to a stranger, while he himself was still so weak. Even more so after just having underestimated the danger off Yao Ming, he now felt that absolutely anything about walking into a Transcendent’s abode was a bad idea.
Xie Yi pursed his lips and climbed another step with Shi Yue pressing the hand against his back a bit stronger.
It was quite the way up to the top, but the stone stairs were perfectly even and even reflecting the light due to their smotheness. Random insects were fluttering around on the side where flowers bloomed in all kinds of colours.
“Couldn’t we wait until the sect leader is back”, Xie Yi complained quietly. The spiritual energy hovering around was weighing down on him.
“He will be gone for another while”, Shi Yue coaxed him. “And I have to inform him. The chance that Yao Ming will come after you again, now that he messed up, isn’t that low. If we have the sect leader on our side, we might at least manage to keep Yao Ming’s great-grandfather out of it. He will be very restricted in his involvement when he has to do everything in the dark and in ways that we can’t officially complain about.”
“What’s keeping his great-grandfather from breaking the rules, just because you are watching?”, Xie Yi wondered out loud. “I mean, if you say ‘If you get involved, we will notice’, then what is the punishment? Can’t he just bet on you avoiding the fight because the collateral damage would be too high?”
Shi Yue stopped and leaned down a bit. His voice was even but rather quiet. “You are correct. Under normal circumstances, our worry about collateral damage is the only thing that is keeping us from fighting against each other. But we Grandmasters have rules that we need to follow; the rules of the common masses. That includes not misusing our strength to commit crimes. The more he gets involved in the fight between two disciples of lower levels, the more dangerous is it for him. That does give us some leeway - if it is obvious that we do not agree with what Yao Ming has done, then he has to be careful about crossing the line. Our self-defence would be allowed.”
“Who is enforcing those rules”, Xie Yi muttered in confusion. He couldn’t remember anything about that from his past life.
Shi Yue pointed up at the pavilion. ”Cultivators who don’t follow the Demonic path all work towards becoming deities. The closer you are to the creator, the more do you fall under the rules that the judges of hell enforce. They, themselves, adjust to the unspoken ruules of the world, and those are usually the rules that the majority agrees with. It's a bit more complicated than that, but that's how you can think of it. There have been cases of Grandmasters or Transcendents suddenly vanishing of the face of earth after massacring others.”
The child’s body twitched. “Then… why doesn’t this happen to Demonic cultivators?”
Shi Yue’s voice changed to a very serious tone. His eyes were fixed on Xie Yi. “Because, in the end, what they are doing cannot be considered true cultivation. The only thing they grow closer to is being a Demon. The judges are not involved with those.”
Xie Yi pulled a face and lowered his head quickly to hide it.
“Anyway, as I said, we will go talk to the sect leader about our stance. I want to support you, even if I can’t take the matter fully into my hands. Besides, even if you are very intelligent, I wouldn’t feel well letting you go against Yao Ming on your own. He has more experience.”
The child couldn’t help but think that that was a bit ridiculous. Obviously Shi Yue couldn’t know, but he certainly had the advantage of experience. Even when it was about cold-bloodedness, Xie Yi would win. Only strength was being a problem.
Now that it was like this, he would have to remember the childhood of his previous life. How had he survived on the streets with no one to help him? How had he managed to get through weeks of wandering around in beast territories with only rudimentary weapons? He had to remember. Once he did, it wouldn’t be as hard to deal with Yao Ming.
Sadly this was a bad time to concentrate on remembering, as just walking forward was taxing enough. Never would he have thought that mere stairs could be that exhausting.
Shi Yue gently pressed him onward, hoping to ease the pressure. “I know it’s hard. We’re at the top soon.”
It wasn’t actually soon; at least not with Xie Yi. He hadn’t had the energy to watch the time accurately, but he had a feeling that reaching this spire had been a shorter process than climbing those goddamn stairs. Really, what was it with cultivators and stairs being a trial!
Shi Yue smiled bitterly at seeing his disciple’s annoyance grow. Xie Yi was very much an adult stuck in a child’s body; his expectations and willpower appeared to far surpass the boundaries of his tiny body. He was a bit glad about that, in truth.
That Yao Ming would go so far had been out of his expectations and Xie Yi could have gotten more than just badly hurt. 'Lethally wounded' would have been the most likely case. Normally, just the paralyzed state he had been in would have traumatized children. Xie Yi did look somewhat fine, although Shi Yue diddn’t truly believe it.
If it hadn’t been for that little Mingtian appearing-
Shi Yue shuddered lightly, then concentrated on his surroundings to avoid the dreary thoughts.
The weather actually wasn’t that great, but the spire was like caught in a separate world. The wind was more a soft breeze and it was comfortably warm. Even the air didn’t seem any thinner than it had on the ground, and by now they were quite far up.
Shi Yue didn’t know a lot about that acquaintance-kinda-friend of his master. As far as he knew, the Transcendent was an anti-social but also gentle person. A recluse even during his normal days, the man was a bookworm. According to his master, the pavilion had been built mostly because the Transcendent had wanted a place to read with a nice view.
And obviously that meant just creating a spire and placing it somewhere into the landscape. Shi Yue would have liked to call it luxurious, but he noticed how he himself had changed within the years. The closer you grew to being an Immortal, the more you began to shift. Human priorities made a bit less sense for him now, as well, and that cultivator must have gone through an even stronger change.
One way or another, he had yet to hear anything about that particular Transcendent - and there weren’t that many to hear about - creating chaos due to his moods. If it was just an indifferent person, then that was more than enough.
He truly didn’t expect him to still be around. According to his master, the cultivator didn’t stay long in one place, and his master had already been here for a while.
Moreover, the closer they got to the pavilion, the more they could see - and it was empty, except for the figure of the Virtuous Sect leader standing before it, waiting with his arms folded behind his back.
Their eyes met for a moment before Shi Yue redirected his eyes to Xie Yi to make sure the child could finish the climb. As unhappy as he looked, he wasn’t slowing down, at least.
It took them another while to reach the top encased in clouds. The pavilion that was now fully visible in all its glory stood on a floor of green jade, surrounded by a pool of unnaturally clear and sparkling water with lotus flowers growing.
The sect leader was standing at the entrance to it, coming closer once his disciple had reached the last step.
Xie Yi sucked in a breath of air and exhaled it, relived to finally have finished the climb and looking around while ignoring the sect leader.
The old cultivator was used to his grand-disciple behaving in this way and took no offence. He even smiled lightly and shook his head at being ignored and seeing that the child was depicting mostly curiosity instead of fear or worship at the sight of this place.
“Master”, Shi Yue greeted with a light bow. “We apologize for disturbing you.”
“I believe it’s more you apologizing”, the sect leader commented with an amused chuckle and began stroking his beard as he looked over Xie Yi. The boy had a scent of beast core on him - most strongly - as well as of blood and herbs. Added to the fact that Yao Ming wasn’t anywhere around, the sect leader wrinkled his brows in anger. “What happened?”
Shi Yue opened his mouth to reply, but the sect leader waved his sleeve. “No, I hurry. Let us go inside first and sit down. I have some nourishing tea for the boy. We can talk once he is cared for.”
At hearing himself being mentioned, Xie Yi looked up at the sect leader and blinked at him with his red eyes. Shi Yue’s palm fell on his hair, gently patting it. When the figure of his master started moving, Xie Yi followed behind it to step past the pavilion and into the building behind it.