“You really don’t remember waking up?”, Xu Yan insisted on knowing. He had asked the same question several times already and only because he looked so genuinely stressed did Xie Yi not get annoyed by it.
“I really don’t”, Xie Yi assured. “And I’m feeling perfectly fine again. One way or another, it was just a short fever. Maybe a growth spurt.”
“If you were five years old, then that would be a reasonable excuse”, Xu Yan howled. “You’re a bit old for that! I will tell Wu about this and I expect you to tell me the instant you’re feeling worse again! Also, take your sword along!”
Xu Yan reached out for Juxian, then halted and pushed Xie Yi towards it. He somehow thought it would be rude to pick it up himself.
Xie Yi gave an eye-roll and fixed the sword onto his waist. Juxian looked amazingly lavish compared to the rest of the person, so the sword was bound to attract eyes.
“If it weren’t a trend to have lavish swords, people would be able to tell that it’s a spirit immediately”, Xu Yan commented.
Simpler swords were more logical for fights, but swords with a spirit were tendentially more lavish. That was why, over time, many people had come to like wearing equally decorated swords - in the end, the appearance could only be kept up until the sword was drawn.
A good cultivator wouldn’t carry a uselessly decorated blade. Only spirit swords managed to look like that without losing any of their power.
Being prominently left-handed, Xie Yi kept Juxian on his left and his usual sword on his right. He did not plan on using Juxian for any small-fry.
That he was wearing two swords stuck out. During their travels, he had kept it in a bag strapped to his back, meaning even their fellow disciples saw the sword for the first time.
Sheng Mu frowned and placed his fork down from his breakfast. “Two swords?”
“It’s pretty”, QingQing squealed from the side with widened eyes.
Xie Yi sat down with a non-committal hum and made to force down his breakfast. It did not taste as good as what he always ate at Shi Yue’s place.
“I had not expected you to like these swords, too”, a voice said from behind them, coming closer. “It’s well-made, however.”
Generally, you couldn’t blame Zhi Nan for believing it was a fake. Young cultivators did not have spirit swords and those very few that did, paraded them around as trophies.
Zhi Nan sat down to his left and stretched his fingers to touch Juxian.
The sword reacted with painful sparks of electricity.
It wasn’t even an angry reaction, like, “Don’t touch me!” or “How dare you!”.
It wasn’t a scared “Who are you?” or an annoyed “Go away.”
It was a deep sigh, unwilling to expend any energy on the matter of this youth with a simple, calm “No.” - that was all.
Through their connection, Xie Yi could sense Juxian’s absolute disinterest in the cultivator. He exhaled through his nose and held back a gratified chuckle.
Zhi Nan jolted his hand back and stared at the sword with as much shock as anyone else at the table. Only Wei Lan - who would prefer if Xie Yi was strong - had an excited gleam in her eyes.
“It’s… real?”, Zhi Nan asked in a strained tone.
“Un, I forged it just before coming here”, Xie Yi mumbled between two bites. He straightened, looking quite proud. Xu Yan sighed - even with a soul crystal, it was abnormal fast. His wasn’t even reacting yet.
“You yourself did?”, Wei Lan asked. Her wide eyes and open mouth gave her a rather cute look.
“That is amazing! It’s such a great work”, she fawned over him.
Xiao Lu wore a bitter expression. If she did not know Xie Yi, she would have tried that tactic too, to see if she could catch him, but it was a fact that this was a near-impossible plan.
She knew what happened to the girls that had tried to stick to Xie Yi. Only someone like Li Mei would be able to stay around him; someone who had no desire for him.
“Master Li helped him”, Xu Yan tried to lessen the impact. It was true. Master Li had given some materials… Anyway, it was the official story.
“So that’s how it is.” Understanding showed in Zhi Nan’s eyes.
Xie Yi pressed his lips together. He… was actually very proud of Juxian so he didn’t like that it sounded as if he had had help while forging.
“Still, Brother Yi must be a great talent to achieve something like this”, Wei Lan smiled.
It did cheer up Xie Yi a bit and he gave a small smile that left her heart thumping wildly in her chest.
“Do you have a good bag for carrying it around? Keeping your spirit sword on your hip at all times must be weird”, Zhi Nan considered thoughtfully. Many people liked keeping their spirit swords with them, but would have a main sword to do their usual fights with.
Xie Yi nibbled on his food. He had a bag, but it had been a last-minute thing because he had forged Juxian so shortly before leaving.
“I’d like buying something with a better quality”, he said to himself. Xiao Lu reacted to it by clapping her hands together.
“Alright. We’ll go to the city and find a good one for it. Such a beautiful sword and you’re carrying it around like this! If you buy a bag by yourself, it’s going to be hideous.”
She sighed dramatically while worrying over Xie Yi’s fashion sense.
With a sheepish face, Xie Yi looked at her.
Okay, his fashion sense wasn’t the best. He would have bought something in a dark colour and accept it as it was but maybe something more lavish would be better…?
He didn’t think Juxian would care too much, but he still did not want to use anything boring for his precious sword.
“I’ll… be relying on you in that aspect”, he said as he turned to hide his face. Xu Yan laughed a bit; the girls were better options for finding a nice-looking bag than he was.
The rest of the guys fled the scene once Xiao Lu began to talk about also finding a suitable outfit for Xie Yi to go with everything and the other two girls joined in.
QingQing’s comments were very hesitant, Wei Lan’s more direct but still careful.
One way or another, the girls had decided to give Xie Yi a makeover.
He winced and followed them with a slumped back under people’s pitiful gazes.
Being accompanied by three beauties? Sure.
Being accompanied by three beauties who wanted to play dress-up? Eh, rather not.
Xu Yan faithfully stayed at his side and gave his shoulder a reassuring squeeze in passing.
It wasn’t only the three girls who were looking forward to it, it was also the staff members of the store.
Buying a bag for Juxian was still very nice to do.
There was a large number of different designs, as well as a full area with unique designs that were only placed once.
Xie Yi stayed in that area and the girls agreed, finding some that matched Juxian in colour.
A small fight broke out as a group of, in total, nine women tried to decide whether a fiery or a colder colour set would suit the sword better as somehow, both appeared to be present in the sword.
Xie Yi quietly sat in the corner, hugging Juxian, and warily pressed himself against Xu Yan.
“Women are scary”, he whispered, a bit shocked at their ferocity.
“They haven’t started choosing your clothes yet. You just wait”, Xu Yan ominously whispered back.
The final decision was kept in Juxian’s stronger colours that were prominent on the scabbard; a somewhat fiery set of colours.
The embroidery on the other hand, delicate patterns that looked like the flickering tips of flames, were kept in a cool yellow-white colour that turned the whole burning design into one of a cold flame.
Xie Yi was satisfied despite its abnormally high price and paid without a complaint. He had gotten pocket money from Shi Yue and long not used all of it, so it wasn’t even touching his own savings yet.
The youth expected to be freed from the other women now at least, but they spoke up, mentioning that a clothing store was also part of their business.
All nine of them - three of their own group, six from the store - dragged him along.
Seeing the mountain of clothes they set up, Xie Yi turned white and looked to Xu Yan for help.
The other pointedly looked away with a smirk.
Betrayed, Xie Yi stared at him the whole time as he was tugged and turned and pushed into the dressing rooms.
There were a lot of colours that suited Xie Yi well. The most obvious choice was choosing something in a similar red tone to that of his weapon, but they weren’t too happy with that.
When one of them brought out a set of robes that were in a darker, slightly violet-blue, everyone wanted to push her away when she held it up against Xie Yi.
“Is this going to match-”, Xu Yan said but the whole group suddenly went ‘Shh!’ and stared at Xie Yi with their hands against their lips in thought.
“Put it on”, they pressed, pushing him into the dressing room again and waiting.
Xie Yi came out, weary.
Xiao Lu clapped her hands in excitement, circling around him. “This works!”
“I see”, Wei Lan whispered to her herself, giving an appreciative nod. “The tones of his eyes and that of the bag are not quite like fire, but more like the sunset. His hair is neutral, so it doesn’t affect the overall design. Like this, the perception is that of the full sky; it is only fiery around the sun, the rest is still blue and there has to be a transition somewhere.”
“The violet tint makes it easier to pair the colours”, another woman agreed. “It’s refreshing, somehow. It makes me want to go outside and enjoy the air.”
“It stands out a lot”, one hummed. “I would not wear it on a daily basis, but it is quite suitable for special occasions. I could imagine a character from a tale walking around like this.”
“Great”, Xie Yi croaked. “I’m buying it.”
As long as those girls were satisfied. He only wanted to rest. And not see a store like this from the inside again for at least a week.
“It was a pleasure to work with you”, the women gave their farewells with happy and content smiles.
Xu Yan steadied Xie Yi, who was slumping over him, with a pat on his back and a rub of his head. “Well done, well done. I’m very proud of you for enduring that.”
“I… want something to eat. And do something that does not require me to stand.”
Walking for a long time was fine but standing still was uncomfortable.