Sneaking into the Virtuous Sect proved to be easier than he thought thanks to his partner’s vast knowledge of arrays.
Finding the weak points and sneaking through them came almost easily to him.
Contrary to the Demonic Sect, this one cared a bit about appearances, Mingtian noticed as he came out in the garden of the upper grounds. He hadn’t had time to inspect this part.
He hadn’t accompanied Xie Yi when the man had approached the sect before. He knew the map but this was his first time seeing the place himself.
It was serene and beautiful.
Uncomfortable, Mingtian walked on bare tiptoes. The ground felt too clean to be walked on by him.
Xiao Jie’s scent was everywhere in this corner, soothing and familiar. He had it easy following it towards one of the houses.
With ease, he broke the barriers with his bare hands after making sure that their creator wouldn’t notice and began to climb up the wall.
The windows were open - they could not be vigilant without a break.
Mingtian wrinkled his brows as he entered.
There was a heavy medical smell in the room that he recognized. It was strong enough to put even Xie Yi to sleep for a while - and now its smell was hovering in a room with Xiao Jie’s.
His steps made no sound as he went closer and closer to the room where he could smell the other.
The door wasn’t closed. He slipped past it and stopped dead in his tracks.
He had thought Xiao Jie’s wing was hurt but in the end, he had underestimated the situation.
As it turned out, the drug to make him fall asleep was more a mercy than anything else. Unlike Xie Yi, Mingtian knew that Xiao Jie had taken it by himself, fully aware of its effects.
The man was a broken doll.
His right arm must have been broken beyond recognition. Even healed, it did not look straight and where the skin had torn open, ugly scars remained.
The uneven arm was hanging over the bedside without strength, discoloured and malformed.
Mingtian’s eyes burned as he followed it up to the body on the bed.
Xiao Jie was lying on his stomach, resting his head on his left arm. Someone had tried their best, but his thumb was missing and the marks of injury had not healed well.
The beautiful face was stained with tear marks, his eyes red.
Mingtian had no doubt that he spent every minute awake crying. For a bird to have broken wings; it was a miracle that he was forcing himself to survive.
Besides, they weren’t the only marks that the former unblemished beauty was carrying.
He looked no different than Mingtian, who had done nothing but throw himself into dangerous fights for the past hundreds of years.
His right leg gave away, tilting his body abruptly to the side. He caught himself by holding onto the wall, his hand quivering.
The pain was searing.
He dragged his body towards the bed, reaching out for the hand that hung over the mattress. Just barely brushing the fingertips that looked so fragile.
More than feelings of revenge, Mingtian felt Xiao Jie’s pain.
He could never fly again like that. Once they had been broken to this point, his wings would be useless.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t with you”, he forced out, leaning his head down against Xiao Jie’s.
The small hand in his was so terribly cold.
Xiao Jie couldn’t have been awake. It might have been a painful twist of fate that his fingers twitched, maybe reacting to the warmth or Mingtian’s smell.
One way or another, the bird’s fingers moved against Mingtian’s the slightest bit and thus spelt his demise.
From the start, Mingtian had become negligent when he had begun to focus on Xiao Jie’s smell.
When he had entered the room, his wariness had dropped to a minimum level and at that moment, he noticed nothing else.
Maybe it really was fate.
The array set up by a Grandmaster to protect his family snapped shut angrily, binding the one who had dared to enter the room the one moment he had let down his guard the most.
Elsewhere, Xie Yi was making his way to the Virtuous Sect, as well.
Not because he wanted to see the man whom he liked to see so much, for once.
It was because Mingtian hadn’t returned.
Confused, Xie Yi rubbed his head.
It was only a quick trip so he hadn’t informed the elders but he was surprised to find himself at the Virtuous Sect. Why had Mingtian come here?
Ah, he would have his reasons.
Xie Yi walked through the arrays without a hint of caring. The formations twisted around him, wiggling uncomfortably, but unable to keep him out or work correctly.
Corroded, most of them broke down into pieces.
It was so useful ever since he could do that. No one was alerted but the arrays would be gone!
Relaxed, Xie Yi walked around.
According to his senses, Mingtian was in a large building.
It was the middle of the night and no one was around, so Xie Yi merely cloaked himself in a special array and walked towards it. It could make him invisible, somehow. He didn’t know how it worked, but the elders had done something and now it did.
It was very useful, too.
The cultivator walked right through the door, finding the stairs upwards. Voice trailed down from upstairs.
“That kind of thing has never happened before. It was super creepy, I’m telling you!”
“And you didn’t stop? Geez, dude. I would have thrown it out. You sure it’s not gonna come to life?”
The rough voices talked to each other, laughing.
“Well this is what wasn’t alive, so it should be fine, right? Besides, it’s dead by now.”
Xie Yi looked outside the window.
The night was cloudy and cold, quite uncomfortable. He should return soon.
“Did Master Li give you permission, anyway?”
“Nah. But come on, it’s about Xue Hua. I think I did it a favour.”
Xie Yi stood in front of a room with a tilted head. It was the same room that the voices were coming out of.
Not quite caring, he pushed it open. If the men saw him, so be it. He was simply here for Mingtian.
The room opened up before him.
The room wasn’t quite to his taste. There were heavy velvet curtains and red, large armchairs around a table. The fireplace was burning and two men were sitting down to converse.
There were pictures on the wall and bookcases here and there, inviting you to stay.
As it was winter, they had placed furs on the ground to keep everyone warm - a rustic but common method.
Xie Yi’s eyes dropped down.
Black and grey, somewhat coarse. Since it was so large, it covered almost the whole room by itself.
“H-Hey! Y-You are…”
The men jumped up.
Xie Yi stared at the ground for another second.
Then his eyes moved up. He slowly blinked his eyes at the men and moved.
Their crushed heads bled carefully onto the red chairs, not a single drop reaching the ground.
The sword that kept him hovering slightly in the air hummed lowly.
Xie Yi turned to move back to the side of the room. He looked around again.
It was strange; he could feel Mingtian around but couldn’t see him. Well, there were bad days for sensing, too. Mingtian would return on his own.
He crouched down.
With a wave of his sleeve, the furniture and bodies were gone from the fur. With slow movements, he pulled it up into his arms.
Mingtian was a beast who had wandered around for a long time, maybe he was out again. Or fighting a dragon. He had done that before.
The fur wrapped around him several times until he could carry it. It was warm and soft, not coarse at all.
“Mingtian, you should tell me when you leave”, Xie Yi mumbled. “It’s not nice. How am I supposed to find you?”
Either way, he had probably left the sect already. There was no need to stay around any longer.
Xie Yi left without anyone noticing.
The forest was eerily quiet around him, neither wind or animal making any sound.
With a low sound, the clouds broke open. Raindrops poured down.
Xie Yi looked up at the sky. He didn’t care for rain, it was only water. Either way-
A drop hit the fur on his shoulder.
Xie Yi turned around and walked back to the large tree he had just passed and sat down under it.
Quietly he moved the fur to be placed on his lap, not a single hair touching ground or tree.
It was a nice fur. He would keep for himself.
It was very beautiful and smelled nice. It was also incomparably soft. There was no comparing anything else to the healthy sheen and the strong colours. Really a nice fur.
Xie Yi felt his head drop down.
The tree didn’t make a very good roof - the fur got wet anyway. If it was drenched in saltwater, it would stick together after drying.
He would have to make sure that it would keep being in its best state.
It was such a nice fur.
He really didn’t want to leave it behind.