He hadn’t been able to understand what about it was supposed to be tasty, but Mingtian had said it wouldn’t work unless you were surrounded by people you liked. He soon had forgotten about the matter, but now he remembered.
Shi Yue stilled for a while, then reached out for Xie Yi and slowly pulled the boy into a hug. The child was completely rigid, uncertain of what was going on, but Shi Yue just held him in his arms for a moment. “Of course. Once we’re back at the sect, we will invite everyone and eat it together.”
He himself had grown up in a normal city for the first few years of his life. He knew what Xie Yi was talking about and why the boy wanted to try it.
“Okay”, Xie Yi spoke into Shi Yue’s robe in a muffled voice. He had no idea why Shi Yue was hugging him, but it was warm and made him happy so he wasn’t planning on complaining.
“Eat some more, and then we’ll go find you a room. The sect leader will take another while to finish, but that’s no reason not to get you ready for a good night’s sleep”, Shi Yue gently said. Little children need their sleep.
“Un”, Xie Yi responded and stuffed his cheeks full with food for another while. Once he was full, Shi Yue took the lead.
Finding the rooms wasn’t overly hard, especially because the whole hallway was kept in dark, soothing colours like the night sky.
Xie Yi stopped at one of the doors and tried to decipher the large, overwhelmingly intricate array that was drawn all over the door. He could read just a small part of it, but long not enough to fully understand it. Hell, he probably wouldn’t even be able to accurately copy this mess of of signs!
“It should be what my master said about the room adjusting to your taste”, Shi Yue commented as he studied the design, just as stuck as Xie Yi. “Hmm, it seems to activate by sending out your spiritual energy. Try it.”
Xie Yi nodded and placed his hand against the array, then sent out a string of spiritual energy. He felt it connect to the array and latch onto it. Experimentally, he tried tugging it back, but the array kept its grip around the string to keep up the connection as it activated. Parts of it moved like a clockwork, changing places and weaving into new patterns. Finally, a good while later, it stilled and let Xie Yi go.
The boy shook his numb hand awkwardly, then looked up at his master with his hand on the door. Shi Yue made a motion with his hand and Xie Yi entered, followed by Shi Yue.
The room’s walls glowed darkly with what Xie Yi remembered to be a rare ore of exceptional hardness. Every inch of the room was encased with it, only the window was made out of another material.
The bed stood in the corner farthest away from both door and window, covered in a large net of strings forming a defensive mechanism. The ceiling and floor were covered in numerous, layering arrays; the walls in talismans. Around the bed, specifically, you could see the markings of traps and hidden mechanisms.
Xie Yi squeaked in delight. It was his old room, just with a nicer bed. Perfectly at ease, he avoided any and all traps on his way to it before crawling under the net and checking his bed out. It was comfortable and soft, with a huge blanket.
The whole room was buzzing and humming with activated arrays, neither quiet nor dark, but Xie Yi couldn’t feel any safer. The amount of sounds and lights in the room were absolutely perfect. He had spent over a decade just searching up the materials to create this room and the elders had allowed it mostly because it was all about protection.
“I like this room”, he chirped, not noticing Shi Yue who was stuck standing in the doorframe.
One day, the cultivator thought, his disciple was going to make him cry by causing his imagination on what the child had gone through to go wild.
“My god”, he whispered instead, his eyes darting from one corner to the next. “How many arrays are that…”
This wasn’t just an issue of keeping all of them active. It was also an issue of the fact that this room had, most likely, been in a completely different state not too long ago. He had imagined the adjustment to be about the level of changing the wallpapers or maybe the design, but not create a fortress out of nowhere!
Was the difference between a Grandmaster and a Transcendent really that abnormal?
On that note, his disciple appeared to have a heavy persecution complex. No normal child should need that many protective measures to feel safe and honestly, he couldn’t even think of a child who could possibly need it. Maybe it would be a good idea to allow Xie Yi to borrow some talismans for his room, just so that the boy could sleep better.
Replicating it completely was out of the question - the room was worth a fortune as it stood right now (and if it was truly fully functional). Even just the window was priceless; it would deny anyone other than the formation owner entrance, which meant that the owner could leave through it without troubles but that anyone else would have to find a way to break it.
The room had a number of escape routes implemented, it seemed.
He was somewhat curious as to what kind of place his own room would conjure up. Where would he be able to sleep best? He himself wasn’t sure. That kind of subconscious thing was hard to realize until you saw it.
As he was scanning the room, Xie Yi had already climbed out of the bed and through the traps back to the door. “Can I come to see yours, too?”
“Hm? Well, I see no reason why not”, Shi Yue commented. He had nothing to hide and anyway, it was just the place where he’d sleep best. It was normal for children to be curious about the abilities of this fascinating mechanism. (For teenagers, too. Or for adults. Honestly, for everyone.)
Shi Yue didn’t go far and stopped at the room right on the opposite side, placing his hand against the door. It was finished much faster than Xie Yi’s room, unsurprisingly, and Shi Yue opened the door quietly.
He had to admit that the design wasn’t too much of a surprise to him. It did have protective mechanisms, too, but only very few strong ones, and most of the room was kept very simple.
The two main points were the window and the piece of furniture next to the bed.
The window was huge, covering a large part of the wall - Xue Hua would often come by in his bird form and the open wall had been created just so that he could enter as he pleased. Shi Yue had long debated giving his rooms larger windows so that even as he slept, Xue Hua could sleep right outside the window.
The piece of furniture next to the bed was somewhat similar to a miniature version of one, just much harder and covered in red silk. With how it was formed, you could easily let a child sleep on it, or place down a sword.
Alas. He loved having his family close to him; that was his most comfortable way of sleeping. A room that had comfortable space for both of his precious family members was certainly well suited for him.
Xie Yi hummed as he looked into it with a conflicted face. Shi Yue huffed out a breath of air in amusement, aware that the boy was probably wondering if the room shouldn’t have more arrays.
Well, that room should also have a cultivation partner next to Ying Hua and Xue Hua - only then would it be complete, and once he had one, he could sleep freely. He wasn’t going to explain that to the little boy.
As they looked through the rooms, the sect leader walked over with a bowl of rather weirdly smelling medicine. By then, Xie Yi had started to yawn regularly and was already changed in a set of very comfortable sleepwear.
“I’ll give it to him”, Shi Yue said quietly and nodded at his master, who bid him a good night before entering his own room. Shi Yue followed Xie Yi up to his bed and handed him the medicine once the boy was sitting comfortably.
“Drink it all at once, even if it’s bitter.”
“Yeees.” Without complaining, the boy swallowed down the bitter concoction. His face wasn’t even showing the slightest bit of displeasure.
“Well done. Now go to sleep and don’t worry about waking up. If you’re tired then stay in bed, if you’re fully awake then come out.”
Xie Yi nodded and smiled brightly, then started to curl himself up in the huge blanket. Like a caterpillar, he rolled himself into a tight bundle and then stuck his head out.
“Goodnight”, he called out to Shi Yue who took the bowl and walked towards the door.
“Sleep well this time”, Shi Yue responded and closed the door behind him.
He looked at his room, then walked into a completely different direction. First, he washed up the bowl, then placed it back into the neatly sorted cupboard.
Then he went outside and circled the building carefully, avoiding trampling the precious plants in the process.
Once he had reached the area below Xie Yi’s window he sat down and crossed his legs, then leaned against the wall and began to meditate. The atmosphere here was really useful, after all.
As for sleep, it was enough to catch two or three hours later. Right now, he found it more important to make sure that his disciple wasn’t uncomfortable, and since he had managed to convince Xie Yi to leave the window open - not that this would affect the array around it in any way -, he would be able to hear if the medicine was causing him discomfort.
Shi Yue slowly closed his eyes as he focused on the energy particles around him.