Curious, Xie Yi took him up on the matter. “Why? Did you think being a child was easier?”
“It’s been quite a while”, the adult hummed thoughtfully. “I didn’t have the easiest time but even then, my foster father and master also made sure to keep trouble as far away from me as possible. There was always, how should I say it, a shared responsibility for everything I’ve done. Now it is all my own to shoulder, which is just right, of course, but heavy, nonetheless. You can’t forget society’s expectations weighing you down, either.”
For example, being married. There were a lot of humans on this planet, god knows why people insisted that a single person just had to have children. It was likely because of his talent, but that didn’t make it any less annoying.
It was even more uncomfortable when several women approached him at once.
Society didn’t like polygamy and women were expected to have only children with their husbands just like hundreds of years ago, but there was a certain degree of freedom. For example, unless you were of higher status, dating before marriage was fine - just not losing your virginity1I'd like to say here that this concept is because you didn't have paternity tests back then. It's not realistic for me to skip over this and make it a modern society, even if I don't agree with this view - and there was no problem in women showing interest in a man.
The whole ruleset was completely thrown out of the window for nobility and cultivators of higher levels, though. Here, the base was to let them have as many legal descendants as possible, which sometimes resulted in three or four women approaching cultivators at once, professing their interest… The point here was that they wanted to show they got along and thus wouldn’t cause a problem even if all of them were being taken in.
Shi Yue hated it. The concept of having several wives was completely foreign to him. In fact, he would prefer just marrying once at all. He had had his time of playing around when he was younger; even if it did sound a bit old, he would prefer to settle down.
Society didn’t completely agree with that. He had started to announce Ying Hua as his adopted daughter partially to start rumours - that she was his daughter out of wedlock and of his true love, so he wanted to take care of her first before finding a new wife. It had shut down the whispers for the past years.
“...What kind of expectations?” Xie Yi was asking for the fourth time already, but Shi Yue was completely distracted by his thoughts. It made him a bit unhappy to be ignored like that.
Shi Yue blinked himself out of his daze and patted Xie Yi’s head. “No need for you to think about that, yet. I have to go out for a while; do you need something to busy yourself with?”
“Do we have some way so I could talk to that Transcendent? He was nice.”
“...In that case, I guess I’m fine with MingMing.”
Xie Yi stared after Shi Yue’s tall back until the door closed, then reached out to snuggle Mingtian. “I’m bored already.”
“You deserve to be bored. You’re not going to learn without feeling a bit uncomfortable”, Mingtian growled.
“I’m feeling plenty uncomfortable”, Xie Yi lamented. “Why did you make me answer his questions?”
“He’s trying to help you”, Mingtian whimpered unhappily. “I don’t feel well being the only one to have some insight into your problems. If something happens and I can’t get to you, it will be a disaster.”
“That reminds me, how did you appear so fast? You couldn’t do that in your last life”, Xie Yi changed the topic swiftly.
“Nie taught me.”
“A deity. He wasn’t around the last time, but he taught me lots of things. I also don’t snap as often anymore, thanks to him. He is great!” The scorpion tail wagged wildly, still turned inwards to cover up the dangerous tip. Mingtian managed to look adorable even without a furry tail.
Xie Yi frowned. “He wasn’t there the last time? That’s weird…”
“Are you seriously saying that?”, Mingtian huffed, then climbed up to Xie Yi’s stomach. Only his bright eyes, the tip of the black nose and his ears were visible as he rolled himself up into a furball with a tail. “Time rewound and you are confused about changes?”
“Well, if it’s changes, then they should only happen because I did something, right? I don’t think I can influence a deity”, Xie Yi explained and placed his hand into the fluffy fur. Actually it was kind of coarse, but just the fluffy image was enough for it to feel soft.
“I don’t think it makes sense to question deities”, Mingtian mused. Nie was very mysterious, but he was a good person so there should be absolutely nothing to worry about. Even if they couldn’t understand him, he wasn’t dangerous.
“Say, Xiao Tian, what is your plan? What goal do you have in this life?”, Mingtian suddenly asked. Especially since Xie Yi’s relationship with Shi Yue was bound to turn out weirdly in a few years, he was curious to hear what Xie Yi wanted in this life.
“I want to get rid of the Demonic Sect”, Xie Yi said directly, all expression dropping off his face.
Mingtian’s ears flattened. “I generally agree, but I don’t like it. You snapped instantly when you saw just one of them - if you meet the old bastards, will you be able to keep your mind?”
“I absolutely have to, though. I won’t allow them to continue existing”, Xie Yi snarled slowly, his hair bristling.
“Alright, alright. What else?”, Mingtian hurriedly continued. Until Xie Yi would be strong enough to attack the Sect, a lot of time would pass. By then he might have found a method to keep Xie Yi from going crazy or maybe his mental situation would have stabilized in general.
“Uhm”, Xie Yi mumbled, returning back to normal the instant the topic was off the Demonic Sect. “I want to be with Shi Yue.”
Mingtian stared at him for a long time, then gave a long sigh. It looked quite adorable considering his form and Xie Yi giggled.
“One by one, huh. For the next month you are not allowed to cause trouble, let’s start with that. No leaving this place.”
“But my job!”, Xie Yi cried out.
“I’ll take care of it, sheesh! Why do you need money so urgently, anyway?” Mingtian rolled his eyes. There was too much to catch up on.
“Right now I’m mostly making myself simple medical soups to help with my physical and spiritual growth”, Xie YI shrugged. “Also I’m putting some back, for later, when I need more expensive stuff. I don’t like the way they forge swords and armor here, so I want to make my own.”
Mingtian knew that he could. Xie Yi took it as ‘dabbling’ in forging, but Mingtian was aware that Xie Yi was in fact rather talented. The level of talent he displayed was absolutely and fully depending on his interest in the matter, though. He couldn’t forge a single thing if he didn’t feel like it but if he was in the mood, then it could rival the best smiths on his good days.
Xie Yi was peculiar about armor. He didn’t like wearing things that weighed him down - probably a remnant of the times where he had to sneak around a lot - and he only liked specific designs. It wasn’t surprising that he had jumped from making his own weapons to making his own armor, and that he wanted to continue doing so.
“I see”, he just responded. If it was like that then he didn’t want to obstruct Xie Yi from continuing his job until the Virtuous Sect could offer him a well-paying one.
“Your job will be taken over by me for this month, so there is nothing you have to do outside”, he still returned to the original topic. Seeing Xie Yi wince, he knew that it had been half an effort to see if he could be distracted. “Steady your body. Read. Rest. I don’t dislike Shi Yue’s suggestions, they’d be good for you.”
“Do you think he would let me do something useful, at least”, Xie Yi surrendered. “Not just talking to people. Doing something. Even if it’s just placing herbs in order… Anything, literally, just not lying around all day or reading…”
Mingtian opened his mouth to say that there probably wasn't, then stopped himself. Wait a minute. Wait an actual minute. In fact, with this time of the year, and what he had seen… Couldn’t he… It would certainly be incredibly useful for Xie Yi.
“Why not ask Shi Yue if you can help with teaching the newcomers?”
“Teach the newcomers. There are some walking around, right? Just barest beginning of the first level? I don’t mean actual lessons, but you could help them with physical training, for example. The younger ones would probably find it more comfortable talking to you than the teachers.”
Xie Yi hummed as he thought about the suggestion but Mingtian was already rejoicing inside. Xie Yi had hundreds of years of bad habits ingrained. His social skills were severely lacking and he was having a great problem accepting and realizing other people as valid existences at all. Unless he knew someone, that person was just like a leaf; it didn’t matter too much if it got crushed. If it somehow fell into his way then he’d interact with it, but that was about the end of it.
It was bound to be hard to ever fully fix the issue, but a start had to be made somewhere. Ignoring it was not an option. If Xie Yi interacted with some of the disciples on a regular basis but at only smaller amounts of time, then he’d have a chance of getting used to it. It also wouldn’t be too terrible for Xie Yi himself, since he had never been averse to his subordinates coming over to ask for pointers. This time, it was children: They’d break into his personal space much easier than a subordinate.
“Doesn’t sound bad”, Xie Yi agreed, a smile blooming on his lips. “At least not so boring. And maybe it’d earn me some money if I do well enough?”
“Great”, Mingtian exhaled. “Ask Shi Yue about it the next time he comes in. In the meantime you will have to be on y our best behaviour to convince him, so either get that book or get to sleep!”
“Auuu…” Xie Yi howled softly, pulling a face. “I hope he agrees…”
If Xie Yi could just keep the mindset and Shi Yue did agree, then it would really be quite good.