Ch.82: Sparring with the paper-men
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“Let’s try another. I can’t believe that we won’t find something suitable for you”, Shi Yue said. He had said that sentence often these years. Every few months, he tried to teach Xie Yi a new set of techniques.

It only worked because Xie Yi was vastly beyond others his age. Even wasting time like this, he wasn’t falling behind and besides, his other lessons were overwhelming.

Xie Yi hummed softly. He felt bad for disappointing Shi Yue, so he had already asked Mingtian about a manual that would be suitable for him. Something like the demonic path without actually being on it.

He swallowed the rest of his soup in one gulp, licking the last drops of his lips and placing the bowl to the side.

Leaning on the table, he rested his chin on his arms and gazed up at his master through the stray strands of hair falling into his face.

Shi Yue stiffened, then lowered his eyebrows. “Sit correctly.”

Xie Yi bit back an annoyed sound and sat up. Placing his hands between his legs to warm them up, he pulled his lips into a tiny pout. 

Why couldn’t he do that? How come Shi Yue sometimes scolded him for slouching and sometimes not?

“...Stop that.”

“Stop what?”, Xie Yi asked, confused. He cocked his head to the side, pulling his fine eyebrows together.

Shi Yue inhaled for a long time, then exhaled longer.

(Somewhere else, Mingtian sneezed. As expected; Xie Yi still had those funny habits of making casual movements and postures look like he was fully intent on seducing someone.)

Troubled, Xie Yi did his best to sit neatly, with his hands placed on his lap and his back straight.

...That really was uncomfortable, though. 

It did result in Shi Yue relaxing, however. Xie Yi enjoyed the sight of the cultivator finishing his meal before carefully dabbing his lips with a handkerchief.

The violet eyes moved upwards, meeting Xie Yi’s from beneath the curtain of eyelashes.

“Come along.”

He stood up and smoothened his clothes, then turned to another door. Xie Yi trailed after him, excitement bubbling up once he realized where they were heading.

The practice room took up almost the whole third floor. Formations covered the walls to ensure that the room could withstand a large amount of power without being damaged.

Shi Yue had strictly forbidden Xie Yi from going all out against his fellow cultivators unless absolutely necessary.

Xie Yi’s natural movements were always centered around giving the greatest damage possible in the shortest time, something that was very unsuitable for exchanging pointers. It was a useful habit for going against beasts; not for wanting to keep your opponent alive.

Despite saying that, one had to note that Xie Yi was able to control himself to an astounding level, even considering the occasionally lost limbs.

To avoid his disciple accidentally going too far due to holding back all the time, Shi Yue had remodelled his practice room a bit.

The paper-men standing at the side were equipped like actual people; wearing armor and wielding weapons, they were Xie Yi’s main partners for sparring bg.

While Shi Yue walked over to activate the arrays, Xie Yi vanished into a smaller side-room to change his clothes. If he could, he preferred to wear different designs from the usual robes.

Xie Yi never fully warmed up to the robes of the Virtuous Sect. They were a bit too broad for his taste, not too useful for fighting. Although he had already attached armguards that would allow him to avoid the billowing sleeves, he couldn't change them completely. He had different clothes for outings, but Shi  Yue insisted he had to wear the robes while inside the sect.

After a long discussion, Shi Yue had agreed that Xie Yi could order a different set of clothing as long as certain conditions were fulfilled. Xie Yi had no trouble accepting them.

Mingtian had laughed at him when he had tried them on in his room. Shi Yue has said that those clothes could only be used when he was sparring against the paper-men and were not to be worn outside.

Xie Yi tugged at the clothes to put them into place until they felt comfortable. They were lying snuggly on his body, feeling like a second skin. Flexible armor had been integrated, giving him additional defence.

Xie Yi rubbed his neck. He felt much more comfortable without fabric tickling his throat. Once he had the materials, he would make his favourite armor from his past life - that one would cover his neck, too, but for now, it was fine without it.

The youth stepped out with a spring in his steps, feeling much more comfortable.

At the sight of it, Shi Yue’s face distorted slightly.

It was hard enough to control the love-brained, hormone-filled young cultivators out there as it was. The more arrogant half of males ran after everything beautiful and exotic, including Xie Yi.

Even worse: The fact that Xie Yi was stronger than they only raised their desire to push him down and dominate him.

The cultivators didn’t necessarily need to wear their robes all the time and could adjust them to a large extent, but Shi Yue had had to convince Xie Yi that, for reasons, he wasn’t allowed to.

Said reason being that Xie Yi loved tighter clothes over the airier robes. Tighter clothes and those that actually left his arms, shoulders and neck area open.

It was a good thing that Xu Yan had come running to him when he had heard Xie Yi’s description of the clothes he was ordering.

His disciple didn’t need to give the other students a reason to believe that he was seducing them on purpose.

Xie Yi would have made a more than beautiful dancer if he had any interest in the art. He was flexible and nimble - which drew other disciples’ thoughts in even worse directions - and had great control of his body.

The thought alone made Shi Yue feel guilty.

He enjoyed watching people dance, even more so if it was a cultivator who could do things that common mortals couldn’t. That was how he had met Zhi Ruo; he often went over to see her dances. He had watched her mother dance in her youth, as well.

If his disciple ever noticed that he had such an opinion, he would probably run right out to find a teacher for dancing, whether he personally liked it or not.

It was one of the youth’s bad habits.

Shi Yue didn’t want the young man to twist himself just to cater his master’s tastes. Who had ever heard of a small wife raising themselves?!

He was likely the first cultivator who had a disciple that was carefully nurturing himself as his master’s ideal spouse without the master ever giving any hint of wanting him to do so.

Xie Yi went over to the side, reaching out for a somewhat blunt sword. A long, adjusted jian; a straight, double-edged blade with specially dulled edges to lower the danger of getting hurt.

He drew it out of its scabbard and hummed as he let a finger glide over the blade. He placed the scabbard down carefully and walked to the middle of the room.

One paper-man shuddered, then came to life and walked forward as well.

Looking like a mannequin, the paper-man had an uneven structure without facial features like eyes or nose. Some people thought it creepy to see them move, but Xie Yi liked them as good sparring partners.

The paper-man bowed and Xie Yi returned the gesture.

Usually he would stretch first, but you rarely had the chance to do so during a fight, so he mixed in practice matches where he wouldn’t stretch beforehand and deal with his stiffer movements.

Xie Yi lowered his body and carefully placed his feet apart, one a bit farther back than the other. Parting his lips the slightest bit to breathe through his mouth, he adjusted his grip on the sword.

His hair was getting longer. He would have to start tying it up again.

The paper-man leaned forward slowly, then dashed to give a testing strike.

Xie Yi stepped half to the side and raised his arms up. With his sword horizontally over his head and his arms placed to the side, he could still watch his opponent.

The strike made his arms shudder, but the opponent’s sword slipped down his angled sword and away from his hands. 

The moment the paper-man tried to pull back, he used his position to draw the sword farther to the side, finishing in a circular motion to slash at the man.

The figure - who had sparred with Xie Yi more than once now and could learn - jolted back quickly, throwing his arms up to parry the strike.

The cultivator was enjoying himself.

Striking from above and then sweeping out with his feet the moment his opponent tried to catch himself. Jumping to the side and immediately drawing an arc to slash at his feet or knees from behind. Angling his movements from below to reach the gaps in his armor.

There were no weirdly fancy twirls and turns that would give your enemies a perfect chance. It was all about fluid, nimble movements and quick but clean strikes.

He didn’t care if some disciples thought that you shouldn’t use your legs or fists to attack during a swordfight. That was child’s play. 

He was fighting like you would fight with someone actually intending to hurt you. Still not at full power - but at least the way he had sparred with his own subordinates.

If MingMing wasn't sure that XY can protect himself perfectly well, he'd be worried constantly. Regularly cutting off people's limbs does its thing to let people keep a careful distance, though hehe