It was a jade pendant. Technically a troublesome and quite delicate present as it was mostly used as a love token; Shi Yue didn’t doubt that Xie Yi had no idea about that and wasn’t intending for it to be taken as that.
The white jade pendant was formed like a crescent. The string around it was golden - at least not red1In Chinese folklore, a red string connects fated lovers, thankfully - and ended in a fine tassel. At first sight, it was a pretty but not special ornament.
However, Shi Yue saw it differently.
It was Xie Yi’s present and fulfilled all expectations; the jade was engraved over and over with arrays. He pulled it up to study and read them with a delighted smile on his face.
His disciple’s arrays had always been very simplistic and not fancy. Since he had started drawing like Shi Yue had ordered him to calm down, the arrays that Xie Yi drew became clearer and a good bit more artful.
This pendant showed his full skill-set. The engravings were delicate and interwoven prettily, looking a lot like decoration rather than something useful. The technique to do so was complicated - the youth was once again showing talent far beyond his age. It was even at a point where you could say that it would be useful for forging his spiritual sword.
The small pendant was obviously thought-through. Shi Yue was originally born in a more northern area of the country that was colder and was fond of cooler temperatures.
The jade had arrays that would keep it always slightly cool to the touch, never warming up, and let it dispense the somewhat sweet scent of witch-hazel. There were some others to enhance its durability and that of the string, but the main ones were for its scent and temperature.
Shi Yue was surprised. He did not expect Xie Yi to have remembered that he liked the witch-hazel; there was only a single bush of it in his garden.
Had he asked someone about it?
It was a plant that bloomed in winter, there was a possibility that he had been curious on seeing it.
Either way, it was a beautiful present. Since it was small and light he could easily carry it and the thoughts behind it were kind.
Now if only it didn’t look like a love-token.
“This is a very nice present. Thank you for giving it to me”, Shi Yue said half in amusement at the sight of Xie Yi looking terribly awkward. Oh, he would be able to make it look like he was just randomly wearing a jade pendant somehow. “Now tell me what you came here for.”
Xie Yi breathed in.
“I don’t want anyone else to forge my sword”, he stated and continued without pause. “The ore is important to me. The other materials are things that I’ve gathered myself together with Mingtian. I just don’t want to hand it to anyone else. Mingtian even broke off part of his horn for me.”
He watched Shi Yue, who leaned back, as he spoke, ready to stop if the man showed signs of displeasure.
“I have a soul crystal and I think that if I use it, this sword will have a spirit. I don’t want anyone else to have anything to do with the sword that has my spirit! It’s mine!”
He pushed the irritation down again. Shi Yue continued smiling. “Why not be more patient and practise with other things first?”
“I have a feeling I’ll be calmer once it’s finished. I don’t think I should wait long”, Xie Yi tried to defend himself.
“For what reason?”
Shi Yue hummed and kept his mouth shut.
Master and disciple kept their eyes locked until Xie Yi fidgeted.
“So… Can you tell me why you won’t allow me try?”
“Of course”, Shi Yue responded happily. Even if on someone’s suggestion, his disciple had come to question him. That was good.
Patiently, he explained his worries. Xie Yi appeared unaware of the possible consequences of messing up and furrowed his brows.
“Do you understand that I, as your master, refuse to let you walk right into this?”, he finished gently.
Xie Yi nodded repeatedly. “Yeah, I understand now.”
Relief was flooding over him. There was an actual, logical reason for Shi Yue’s behaviour. He’d have never thought that this would be so calming.
When he had met Mingtian back then, he had thought that things would get in order somewhat soon. With his help, he’d surely learn quickly on how to behave like any other person.
Now he was beginning to realize that for everything he learned, two new problems would crop up.
He was in a constant state of running back and forth between people who gave him advice on how to interact with other people.
Xie Yi pressed a breath out between his lips, a strand of his hair going flying before it. “Shi Yue, I don’t know if it’s a bad thing to say now, but I still want to know if I can convince you to let me try it…”
“Good reaction”, Shi Yue praised, like the one before him was a little animal. “It’s never a bad idea to try to tell others your point of view and seeing if you can maybe convince them - although you need to know when to pull back. In this case, it’s fine; what do you think would convince me?”
Ah, Shi Yue was getting into lesson-mode again. Xie Yi leaned on his elbows and gnawed on his lip. “Hmm… Maybe if I prove that I’m good at forging? I could forge some other, less dangerous things first?”
His master made a motion for him to continue.
“Maybe if I ask one of the Forging Masters to give me an exam? Because they can tell you whether I’m likely to manage it or not, right? If they said it was fine, you would be easier convinced than if I’m the one saying it?”
The Grandmaster showed a pleased look. “Good suggestion. That’s what we will do. I can offer the material and any other costs than will be needed, but you have to convince one of the teachers to test you by yourself. No getting help from your friends this time, either.”
As good as it was that everyone supported Xie Yi, he didn’t want his disciple to get into the habit of always taking their help and not thinking about the problem himself.
Xie Yi was not half bad at solving problems, he simply never tried to use the same on humans.
People were all individuals but that didn’t mean that there weren’t certain patterns that you could learn and that were useful for interacting with others. Take merchants as an example.
His disciple considered the situation for a while but ultimately nodded. “Un. I’ll convince them myself.”
“Just a tip; violence is a bad idea.”
“...I know. I wasn’t considering it.”
“...” This time, Xie Yi paused suspiciously for half a second.
“Nooo…”, he said, dragging the word out a bit too long. Shi Yue felt his face twitch.
Little disciple is a bit too blood-thirsty. Better to warn him once in a while.
“Any other problems you wish to talk about?”
Xie Yi showed a face that spelled ‘Yes, a lot’ but his mouth flatlined and Shi Yue took it as the youth not being willing to talk about it yet.
“Run out again.”
Once more, the youth exited the upper grounds.
The guards had smiles crawling on their lips but held back their laughter at the foolish youth running back and forth.
Xie Yi ignored them.
“What did you give him?”, Li Mei asked first of all when he approached her. Seeing him in a good mood was enough to let her know that things had gone well so now she was focusing on her priorities.
“A jade pendant”, Xie Yi answered reflexively before wondering why exactly she wanted to know and what she’d do with the information.
Li Mei was grinning broadly. “Why that?”
“It’s small, it’s not overly obvious, it’s a common thing to carry around.”
“Ah. As expected. You never betray my expectations of things you don’t know. It’s cute.”
“No, no. Don’t mind me.” Li Mei giggled. “I’m happy that you’re happy again. Remember; communication is very important!”
“Hitting people is easier”, Xie Yi responded half-seriously.
She winked at him. “It sure is, but if we spend all day hitting stupid people, we will get cramps in our arms.”
She brushed her skirt off.
“Mission accomplished. I have to return back to my master. I’ll see you around?”
“Un”, Xie Yi nodded.
In a good mood, he wanted to find Mingtian.
The beast hadn’t been around all of today which was weird. By now, Xie Yi had a sort of rough feeling on how to locate the beast, though, and intended to seek him out.
It was a bit like knowing where someone was standing. Not quite a certain feeling but some kind of awareness that helped him find Mingtian as long as he wasn’t too far away.
Now he knew that Mingtian was off in the forest again - the patch that was never cared about by the sect and was kind of quiet.