The coming days were considerably quieter, especially when the strain of their travels began to kick in.
Xie Yi and Sheng Mu were fine, but the two girls suffered the worst. Xu Yan would have too, if not for Xie Yi helping him out with a steady supply of spiritual energy.
“How do you have so much spiritual energy”, Xu Yan whispered between two wheezy breaths when Xie Yi grabbed his arm in passing again. “What kind of capacity is that?”
“I’m simply replenishing as I go”, Xie Yi whispered back, earning himself an inquiring look from Xu Yan.
“I can do it.”
That level of control and concentration was nothing for the young cultivators, though, so those with the lowest stamina and spiritual energy suffered the earliest.
While the two guys who loved staring at Xiao Lu helped her conveniently, Sheng Mu stopped wandering around and watched out for QingQing. She persevered well enough on her own and he only helped when she was reaching her limits, similar to what Xie Yi was doing with Xu Yan.
“How far?”, Xu Yan asked as he stared ahead. Since a few hours ago, it appeared like a path was starting to open up.
“From what I know, we are in the territory of the sect”, Xie Yi mused. “This is one of the main paths that lead towards the city it’s next to. It's also the one to take to get to the sect.”
“There are other cultivators nearby”, Sheng Mu spoke up. “I believe we should meet them soon.”
Xie Yi did not respond as that was something he had noticed a while ago. They’d have to spend another night, but sometime over the course of the next day, they should reach the sect.
“Let’s stay in the sect for a while if we can. From there we could go hunt and gather materials. I think that’s better than doing it on the way back.”
Xu Yan had a package that needed to be delivered and none of them wanted to delay the delivery or risk that it would break during a fight, so they had taken the most direct route. His suggestion was logical.
“I agree”, Xiao Lu surprisingly agreed first. “Practice is well and all, but I want a bath afterwards and not be stuck with icky clothes!”
“It’s more convenient”, Song Lan echoed.
“Then let’s do that”, Sheng Mu decided arrogantly. “A week or two should be fine to stay if we ask.”
Xie Yi had no complaints, either. The Honourable Sect was surrounded by water; not only was a series of larger lakes nearby, they were also connected by a river that started high up in the sea. The creatures that lived there were different.
He wanted to take his time and explore! And learn how to dive!
So far, all he knew was basic swimming and holding your breath underwater. He wasn’t good at diving because he had never needed it.
Now he wanted to learn it so he could look around what swam in the deeper parts of the lake.
You could also use boats to traverse the various pools and there were restaurants on the water… All kinds of stuff like that.
Is what Mingtian had told him.
“Let’s go swimming”, Xie Yi said out loud, turned to Xu Yan with a smile.
“Eh? Well, why not. I guess it could be fun.”
“In public?”, Xiao Lu asked with a flushed face, staring at them. “How indecent! Stripping in front of everyone!”
“Not like you need to do it”, Xu Yan quipped back. “And even if you did, people would still be staring more at Xiao Yi than at you.”
Xiao Lu gaped, her face turning a darker shade than red.
“Is that an implication that people are more interested in my body than in hers”, Xie Yi whispered very quietly.
“Yes”, Xu Yan responded equally quiet, holding back the desire to slap his palm against his face.
“What, are you proud of the fact that he looks like a slut?”, Chen Hu, who had continued to dislike Xie Yi more and more during the trip, cursed.
QingQing flinched and Sheng Mu lowered his eyes. Generally, everyone except for Xu Yan looked like they expected Xie Yi to snap… But he didn’t.
Throwing a condescending glance at Chen Hu, Xie Yi answered in a voice filled with disdain. “What, are you troubled by the fact that no one would want you, even for free?”
Silence fell over them.
Mingtian stumbled over his own paws and coughed in a way too human manner, but no one noticed as they were busy catching themselves as they also stumbled over their own feet while trying to stop walking instantly.
Chen Hu was the one whose jaw was dropped down fully, unable to respond.
Everyone else just stared at Xie Yi in shock, Xu Yan included.
Humpfing, Xie Yi continued to walk. Xu Yan caught up with him in a hurry, walking close to his side.
With his shoulders pulled up and eyes wide, he leaned closer to his friend’s ears. “Y-You… H-How did you get the idea of saying that?!”
“I picked it up in a fight between two girls. The context seemed correct, so I repeated it. The girl back then had looked offended and I thought it would be worth the try. Looks like it was fitting.”
“That wasn’t a verbal slap, that was a punch to the gut.”
Xie Yi smiled proudly, the innocent look not working well with the dirty words that had been spoken mere seconds ago.
Xu Yan sighed over the gap and rubbed his face as he looked over his shoulder.
Slowly, everyone was beginning to walk again, except for Chen Hu - who was still frozen in shock.
“I feel weird hearing you curse obscenely like that. Before, you were simply bloodthirsty. Now it’s different. Aah, I’m not sure how to think about that…” Xu Yan gave a wistful sigh and dragged his steps a bit.
“It is a good thing that I’m learning it”, Xie Yi disagreed. In this life, he wanted to grow up as everyone else did, and that included learning the knowledge that adults usually had.
Already, he could tell the immense differences between him now and the young him from his past life. It was a great relief to him and anything that widened the distance was good.
“I don’t think you need to learn obscene curses, though.” Xu Yan looked Xie Yi up and down. If done right, they could probably pass him off as a fairy-like, beautiful man.
Given that he kept his mouth shut and did not move.
Oh, but it would be fun to make a joke out of everyone expecting him to be weak.
Feeling a tickle in his heart, Xu Yan slung an arm over Xie Yi’s shoulder. “Xiao Yi…”
Hearing his friend drag his name, Xie Yi looked up with interest. “Listening.”
“Do you have something to change your eye colour with you?”
“Well, what would you say about hiding your identity?” Xu Yan’s eyes were shining. “We could give you another name and act like you’re really weak.”
Xie Yi threw a bucket of water over his enthusiasm. “We won’t be able to fake our names when we enter the sect. Too troublesome.”
“Tsk”, Xu Yan clicked his tongue. “Too bad.”
Xie Yi thought about it. “But it should be possible to act like the rumours about me are exaggerated.”
Whenever other sects came to visit, Xie Yi stayed away from them on his master’s warning. Shi Yue did not think that other sects would take it as well if limbs went flying and he did not want to take the risk.
Essentially, none of those people had ever seen Xie Yi fight before and although pretty much everyone in the Virtuous Sect could testify for him, people wouldn’t fully believe it.
That disciple exaggerated the strength of their fellow cultivators was considered common. Only Xie Yi they had never exaggerated, as the truth was ridiculous enough.
But other sects would not know that.
“Let’s do that”, Xu Yan almost shouted, grabbing Xie Yi’s arm and pulling him to the end of the group. Everyone slowed in confusion, not sure what to make of the two walking in the far back.
“Go on, go on”, Xu Yan said, waving his hand. “Senior Mu, you’re more experienced on visiting other sects. Can we trust you to lead the rest?”
Sheng Mu had written suspicion all over his face. Nonetheless, he agreed. “...Yes.”
They weren’t far anyway, and there was no need to worry.
Xu Yan happily whistled as they walked, hoping that the effect would be good. Mingtian laughed at the side.