“Did it really get that bad?”, Shi Yue asked with raised eyebrows, looking at Xie Yi who was very obediently sitting on the chair.
“He did throw Mingtian at us”, Li Mei awkwardly replied. It felt a bit like selling Xie Yi out, but she couldn’t hide details from his master.
“He has an incredible tolerance for pain and his body heals well. He’s healthy, and the fact that his resistance for poisons is low can be adjusted”, Master Chen directly listed with a tilted head, looking at Shi Yue rather than Xie Yi on the chair. “But I don’t think it will come as a surprise to you that he’s a bit mentally unstable.”
Shi Yue frowned slightly and crossed his arms, looking at the woman with an upturned gaze from his lowered head.
Li Mei was getting flustered, his eyes switching between Xie Yi and her master. You couldn’t say that kind of thing in front of the person in question!
“I’d say there are a number of issues with his mental state, actually. You just need to turn your head: I just said he’s mentally unstable. Others would be angry at me or show literally any reaction, but he doesn’t care - because I was the one who said it. Rather than saying he doesn’t care about being called that, it is simply because I was the one who said it.” She pointed a finger at Xie Yi from over her shoulder, stepping closer to Shi Yue.
“Master...”, Li Mei started awkwardly, but the woman continued.
“I like the boy. He’s interesting and motivated. He’s a nice student whenever he visits my lessons. That’s why I don’t want to see him fall apart. I would love to say that he needs counselling, but I fear he wouldn’t take it.”
“Xie Yi?”, Shi Yue called, raising an eyebrow at his disciple who perked up at hearing his name.
“What would that mean?”
“It’s about talking to someone. Working through things that trouble you, together. A lot of talking about things that bother you”, Shi Yue tried to simplify. It was mostly a thing that they had started for disciples who had ended up meeting Demonic Cultivators and got traumatized. “You could also do it with me, if other people are uncomfortable.”
Xie Yi opened his mouth to agree. Talking to Shi Yue was nice and he liked anything where he could spend more time with his master, but then he stopped himself. Talking about… the things that troubled him?
“No”, he said firmly, instead. He wouldn’t. He didn’t want to. He didn’t even want to remember it, let alone talk about it. Let alone tell Shi Yue.
“See? You’re my dear friend, so I’ll be blunt: Watch that little disciple of yours well. Less his body, more his mind. I would hate to see you lose him.” She deflated a bit, her eyes lowering.
She had lost her first disciple. An upbeat little guy, a sunshine who always hid his worries behind a smile. She hadn’t noticed how badly he had taken it when he started to enter the battlefield. He couldn’t handle the sights. He accidentally overdosed on pills that could make your mind all fuzzy; lessen the terror of the memory a bit. It wouldn’t be the first time that someone had forgotten having taken a dose already thanks to its properties, and then take another one.
Losing a disciple was always heart-wrenching. Since you were their direct teacher, there was always a feeling of failed responsibility. Xie Yi was Shi Yue’s first and only disciple - the child had a way of worming himself into your heart with his innocent nature, and she knew that Shi Yue held him dearly. If he had to watch the boy die, he would take a bad hit.
Shi Yue’s eyes moved to the side. Troubled, his teeth were pressing down on the inner side of his lip.
In fact, he was more than just worried that Xie Yi and Tiankong might share their problems. That both of them had cracked cores could be genetic, a coincidence or, at worst, something that resulted from some kind of event. Both had a strong hate against the Demonic Sect and that made it likely that something had happened there. He didn’t want to see his disciple fall into a frenzy like he had seen Tiankong.
For all of this, he had even hidden the matter completely. Had spun a tale and given it as the official explanation so that no one would ask any questions. Every morning, he woke with a worried heartbeat, waiting for news and hoping that none would come and that he hadn’t made the wrong decision.
Not responding anymore, he left.
On his chair, Xie Yi was pressing his lips together with a troubled face. He had a feeling that Shi Yue wanted him to agree to that thing, but that was out of the question.
Unsettled, he looked at Master Chen and then Li Mei. “Can I go back? I want to go jogging.”
“Go do your thing. But if you overdo it, you will regret it. Stop as soon as you feel just the slightest cramping of your stomach”, Master Chen cautioned and Xie Yi made a sound of acknowledgement before hopping out of the chair and storming out of the building.
He didn’t want to care about that.
Xu Yan was already waiting for him, so he joined him immediately and then dropped to the floor to stretch. Xu Yan groaned as he followed the movements.
“And you’re sure this is useful?”, he wheezed. The stretches that Xie Yi did extra weren’t ones that they had been taught, but he twisted his body into all kinds of positions that were really uncomfortable. Xie Yi didn’t bat an eye at that, but they were pretty painful.
“Un”, Xie Yi hummed, crossing his legs and the pushing his hands over the ground until his forehead touched the dirt. He was amazingly flexible compared to most of the guys who preferred skipping their stretches (“That looks like what the girls do for dancing!”). The women were, already by nature, more flexible, but they also didn’t do his exercises.
He liked them, though. It was amazingly useful for when you wanted to sneak into places. Being able to twist and control your body as you pleased; worming through tight passages and hiding in small places was always good.
For some weird reason, some of the older girls had started picking up his exercises, though. 1A/N: Coughs. For… reasons.
“I hate your exercises”, Xu Yan complained loudly but continued anyway. It was somewhere around early noon and people were starting to trickle in.
A small group was standing a bit farther away, talking to each other, then carefully approaching.
“Excuse me?”, one friendly-looking boy of about Xu Yan’s age asked. “Do you happen to be Xie Yi?”
Xie Yi made a questioning sound, looking through the gap from between his legs. His body was comfortably folded in half, his feet steady on the ground, just like his hands.
“See, red eyes. So it is him”, one of the others said quietly.
The boy in front gave an awkward smile. “Can we… tag along with stretching? You’re doing other exercises?”
In fact, the information that Xie Yi would be around as additional help for teaching had already reached the ears of many disciples. Especially those young ones of twelve and thirteen who had barely reached the first level and were supposed to be allowed to ask him for help had perked up at hearing about it.
Xie Yi was a very talented cultivator and disciple of Grandmaster Li. They had no problem cutting down their pride and asking a younger boy for help.
Although there was no lesson ongoing, they could, of course, inofficially approach Xie Yi a bit earlier. When they had coincidentally spotted him, someone had suggested already talking to him.
Xie Yi just made another sound, but Xu Yan stopped trying to helplessly reach the ground with his fingertips and straightened to answer them. “Sure, we won’t mind. I’ll explain as much as possible, but if Xiao Yi says something or corrects you, then you should really listen to him. If you do an exercise wrong, it’s quite painful.” - First-hand experience.
“Of course”, the six of them nodded hurriedly before they joined the two. First doing their own motions to stretch and warm-up, then looking over to the higher cultivators.
Xu Yan turned to Xie Yi to see what he was doing, then commenting in relief at it being an easy pose.
Xie Yi was lying on his back and had pulled his knees close to his stomach, resting them there for a while. The group followed easily, though some laughed when their spine gave a small sound at the movement.
Then Xie Yi set his legs down again, laid on one side, pulled his knee up and turned his torso around. Looked weird, but not hard, though some showed uncomfortable faces.
Then he sat down, pulled one leg to the other side, placed his arm behind it, turned his torso… Uh…
“Xiao Yi, stop, stop, stop! That looks scary! Are you sure this is normal!” Xu Yan was squeaking in panic, looking at Xie Yi who just didn’t look too normal anymore.
“It’s not hard”, the boy commented innocently. He untangled himself, then hopped over to Xu Yan and reached out for his leg.
A while later, Xu Yan sat in the correct position, quite unable to breathe. He held it for five seconds before trying to untie himself and then wheezing for air. He felt more stretched, but that wasn’t exactly comfortable.
“I think you’ll have to show them”, he wheezed, pointing to the others who winced. There was no way he could explain this accurately.
Xie Yi shrugged and walked over to the horror of the children.