Back at the dorms, Xu Yan was already waiting outside.
“Xie Yi!” The black-haired man heard his friend shout from far away.
“What in the world just happened”, Xu Yan shouted in full confusion. Actually, a lot of people were in the yard, uncertain of what had happened.
Things went like this:
Xu Yan went back to talk with Xie Yi. He accepted all the points without a problem. Xu Yan mentioned hearing about Huo Cheng and Xie Yi perked up.
Suddenly, about a few minutes later, a muscular man stormed into the room, picked up Xie Yi and tugged him under his arm, shouted “Bringing him back in a minute” and dashed outside.
There were about a dozen guards running after him and it would have been more if not for Xie Yi shouting that it was his older brother and there was no need to worry.
Everyone watched as the man ran into the higher grounds. People waited, silent, for the outcome.
The man came back out and walked out of the sect unharmed. Everyone was still frozen and confused. Xie Yi hadn't come along with him.
“Oh…” Xie Yi scratched his head. “That was my older brother who had something urgent to talk about with Master.”
“...And for that, he simply steals you out of your room and carries you away?”
Once again, Xie Yi had the face of someone who was completely missing the point. Anyway, since he appeared to not have a problem being carried around like a sack of potatoes...
“Hmm, I should have taken the chance to introduce you… Well, maybe you’ll meet him during the trip.”
“He’s coming along, but only in the shadows.” Xie Yi looked to the side. Mingtian was going to come along openly, but he’d hide and change into a human if necessary. It was a bit uncomfortable to lie to Xu Yan about it.
Xu Yan gave him raised eyebrows. “So your overly strong older brother has the time to follow you around to ensure your safety? Not that you’d need it, but yeah?”
“Xiao Yi, what sort of deity’s son are you to be so lucky?!”
Xie Yi blinked at Xu Yan’s outburst of fake annoyance. Was he lucky? Maybe? Or maybe it was because his last life had been so bad.
In the first place, although he had a smooth training experience and really lovable friends… He also had a lot of problems taken over from his past life, was absolutely useless at the spiritual martial arts and his senior brother was trying to kill him for reasons.
...No, wait. That actually was pretty lucky.
Hey, compared to his last life, this was pretty smooth sailing!
“I guess I really am lucky”, Xie Yi laughed lightly, showing a sweet smile that drew everyone’s eyes.
Xu Yan’s fake frown twitched. Uh, actually, that had been sarcastic. Xiao Yi’s life was quite the mess… Usually, disciples wouldn't come close to death as regularly as he did.
“At least I never get bored when I’m with you.”
“Eh? Is that a compliment or an insult?”
“Honestly, I’m not sure.”
He cleared his throat and patted Xie Yi’s shoulder.
“Enough of this, let’s go pack our stuff. Give me some hints, okay? I never really stayed out for long, I don’t know how to prepare”, Xu Yan lamented.
Because he was a Gatherer and not too good with killing, he mostly stayed in the sect. Only rarely would he leave and then only stay in the vicinity of the sect, at most a day away.
This trip would be longer so he was slightly nervous.
“No problem”, Xie Yi offered easily. “I’ll help you.”
He was motivated to help Xu Yan and he also knew it was needed. Xu Yan was absolutely not the typical cultivator who ran around the country.
Most of their two-hour-long packing session was spent with Xie Yi convincing his friend that certain things were needed or unneeded.
It did not make it any easier that a lot of it was simply based on experience and thus nothing he could truly explain.
Luckily, Xu Yan tended to accept his advice as something that someone who hunted often would know.
As they packed up, Xu Yan introduced the other people who would be joining them.
“There’s a little junior sister from a later batch coming along”, he started. “She’s the youngest. Other than that there’s one more girl who had been in the group right before ours. There’s Sheng Mu, too, so please don’t fight him! ...And two more guys who I don’t know personally but I think they’re from Sheng Mu’s batch.”
“So, all seniors except for one?”, Xie Yi asked with a tilted head. That would be troublesome - they’d probably think they are better than him and order him around.
“Honestly, none of them are on your level”, Xu Yan awkwardly stated. “I mean, you hunt the things they need a group for, alone. I’d hope you can be the leader.”
“What would we even need an official leader for?”
In all of his last life, he had rarely felt the need to lead. If his subordinates followed him, they either did what he said or didn’t - if they did, good, if they didn’t, he wouldn’t care about them as long as it didn’t disturb him.
Well, those that didn’t listen did die often enough even without him interfering.
“We have a free route to travel to the sect”, the young man explained and clicked his tongue. “Who is going to decide on the best route? On when to camp and where? On what to hunt, eat, gather? If we try to do everything with votes, we might end with seriously bad decisions.”
Xie Yi went through the map in his head. Due to his repeated hunts, he knew a good part of the path towards the other sect already and was acquainted with both terrain and beasts around it.
He also had extensive knowledge of sleeping outside.
“Good point”, he nodded, deciding he’d be the leader.
Xu Yan stared at him and then laughed. “You’re going to take the leading role, huh? I can see it on your face, Xiao Yi. Don’t be too harsh if one of the others wants to lead.”
“It’ll be fine.” Worst case he’d beat them down until they’d agree. “I’ll be the leader and you will be… What would you call it? You make sure I’m not doing bullshit.”
“I’m your common sense.”
Pleased, Xie Yi leaned back and looked over the things they had prepared.
With their storage spaces being filled up with food, medicine and valuables - everything they would not want out in the sun -, there was no space for anything else left.
Xie Yi had been restricted to a smaller storage ring on purpose to avoid him making things easier for Xu Yan.
That was why they had to carry a good amount of things; clothes, blankets and tools as well as materials that did not fit into the space anymore.
“I wonder if I can carry this all day”, Xu Yan thought out loud, placing a hand against his chin.
Xie Yi glanced over.
“This isn’t exactly a lot.”
“Not everyone is a deviant talent like you, Xiao Yi. I train hard for my puny muscles.” Xu Yan lifted his arm and tensed his muscles - they weren’t small at all.
Actually, his stature was quite similar to Xie Yi… but the other could carry several times as much as he could.
“We will see how it goes. Worst case I can help with your luggage, but I think it would be good if you could manage on your own”, Xie Yi mused. "I'll help you as much as the rest of the group helps each other."
“I don’t feel overly good relying on you with this. I’m already getting the easy route anyway”, Xu Yan chided. “I’m not worried about getting hurt, getting hungry, getting lost or freezing. I’m having luxury problems.”
“Aren’t you worried that I might mess up at all?”
“Nah.” Xu Yan laughed. “That’s your thing. You’re a Wanderer.”
That someone could simply believe in him like this was still a fascinating thing. Xie Yi gave Xu Yan a sweet smile and a hug, to which the other made a gargling noise as if he was being crushed.
“Your hugs are a painful love.”
“You need more training. Why not train with me?”
“It’s not that bad. I could ask Master whether we could use the paper-men!”
“Master Li’s? God no. You’re really trying to kill me?”
“They don’t actually hurt you…”
“I’m scared of entering a room with a paper-man who can win against you.”
Xie Yi threw himself onto the bed and rolled himself around with happy squeaks. “Xiao Jin is the best! One day, I’ll have him! He can come along on my travels! He’d be a great guard!”
Xu Yan turned his face away and let out a breath. Topic changed successfully!
For a while, Xu Yan listened blankly as Xie Yi rambled on before he decided it was late enough. “We’re leaving tomorrow morning so maybe we should rest now.”
“Ah? Already? Well, okay. If you say so.” Xie Yi shrugged nonchalantly and wriggled under his blankets. Like a little child, he went to bed if Xu Yan - or Mingtian - told him to.
As the two of them slept, Mingtian made his way back into the room.
Xie Yi woke shortly when he heard someone enter, his dazed eyes following Mingtian all the way to his bed.
Making himself comfortable, Mingtian gave Xie Yi’s cheek a soft lick before he placed his head on the smaller pillow at the side. Xie Yi made a sound and closed his eyes again.