“Take a nap after I’m gone?”, Feng Yan asked while standing in the door. He stared down at Xie Yi with a worried look.
“Can’t”, Xie Yi rejected it softly.
This time, the smith only sighed. “Do rest at least. And write me a letter once a week until your master is back up again. You have messenger birds, right?”
Xie Yi glanced at Li Mei who nodded with a sweet smile. “Normally only for official business but you can use mine, Xiao Yi. I’ve got a trained spiritual bird that can understand what we’re telling him.”
“Do you need something from me to make it work?”, the burly man asked as he scratched his neck. “For… scent or something?”
Li Mei laughed lightly. “Here, take this. That makes it easiest.”
She handed him something looking like a tiny wooden amulet. He turned it around in his large fingers.
“Hang it out of your window. She will stop where she finds it.”
“Got it.” Carefully tucking it away, he used his free arm to drag Xie Yi into a rough hug. “Take care of yourself. Tone it down for a while.”
Xie Yi knew that all of the previous… messy situations had now reached his ears. He chuckled in embarrassment. “Un.”
Feng Yan left as quickly as he had come. He hadn’t had the time to prepare anything at home and had rushed over at a moment’s notice.
Xie Yi looked out of the window after him. Then he squatted on the ground and fluffed the fur around Mingtian’s cheeks up.
They didn’t converse. Mingtian lolled out his tongue and returned Xie Yi’s gaze with his bright turquoise eyes. He made a few rumbling sounds that jumped in tone as the youth tugged his face around.
The cultivator smiled a bit. It did not look very honest.
When he walked back into Shi Yue’s room, Master Chen had tried to make his chair a bit more comfortable and had placed a blanket and pillow on it. She glanced at him entering.
“You might not be able to sleep well like this, but it should enable a light slumber.” She pushed a broader stool in front of the chair that would let him put up his feet and additionally placed an older pillow on the ground for Mingtian, who instantly took his place.
“What a setup”, Xie Yi commented with tired amusement. Master Chen rolled her eyes.
“What should I do about it? You’re not letting anyone check up on you and refuse to sleep. If he wakes up and sees his disciple half dead, he will only get agitated.”
The youth avoided her eyes and touched the mark on his right arm.
His left arm was healed up - not useable to fight yet but otherwise fine - and his wounds had closed roughly. He wasn’t supposed to do any rough movements and watch out during a bath but he was fine.
The poisoned marks from that damned woman’s fingernail were closing up slowly and with a constant, dull pain as if your bone was on the verge of breaking, all over his body.
Others might not be able to endure it as quietly and nonchalantly as Xie Yi did.
The largest reason why he refused to let anyone check him was his core, though. He could not let anyone, including Shi Yue, exam him with spiritual energy again.
Before, his core had been cracked. That meant that there were breaking lines over it, reaching farther and farther like the liney you'd see on cracked glass.
Now, however, it was different and Xie Yi could tell. One of the lines had broken open from the pressure that came from inside.
That made no sense on a base level. With a closed spherical structure, nothing could break open. It could chip away or break off, but not break open. That suggested a force from the inside.
Problem was, as he had already noticed, he had a certain access to energies that did not belong to his level.
It seemed the reason for that was that below an outer shell of the normal core was a small second core. Nothing you would find with the rough examinations that only reached out to the outer edge of the cultivator’s cores.
It was uncovered now, though.
The stronger spiritual energy stayed in its inside and was going through a process that Xie Yi felt was like being filtered. His old core was based on demonic cultivation and so was this inner core, but the outer shell was doing something like cleansing it slowly.
It was so insane that he couldn’t allow anyone to see it. With the inner core growing and being cleansed, the spiritual energy in his body was doing occasional jumps that could be found in even simpler examinations.
He had given up trying to make sense of how this could have happened. He had noticed it after the fight, given the information to Mingtian, and then hurried to push all the overpowered spiritual energy away.
He truly wished he would be a bit more normal.
A bit in a trance, he only snapped out of it when Master Chen poked his forehead.
“Rest for a while. He’s looking good so far.”
She tried to give him a reassuring smile while she passed by him.
Xie Yi plopped down onto the chair and looked over Shi Yue.
He was sweating and looked to be in mild pain with his eyebrows furrowed the tiniest bit. Xie Yi smoothened the crease gently whenever it appeared.
“Shi Yue”, he muttered to himself. “You gotta wake up soon. I’m young, if I don’t sleep, it might stunt my growth. Or I could get sick, I guess. Besides, you still have to get mad at me for running away.”
He reached under the covers to tug out Shi Yue’s hand and held it in his own, slowly rubbing his thumb over the other’s to keep his hand warm.
“I got hurt, too. It will leave scars. Li Mei got really mad about that and I bet Xu Yan would have, too, but he’s not allowed to come back yet. Wake up so I can tell you about all the things that happened on my trip.”
Mingtian’s ears flicked once in a while. He had placed his head on his large paws and listened to Xie Yi ramble on quietly.
Time passed painfully for both of them.
Xie Yi was suffering because his master would not wake up and Mingtian suffered seeing his little brother and mate so dejected.
The room was mostly silent except for Xie Yi sometimes talking to Mingtian in the beginning and then returning to silence the more time passed.
He did eat, at least. It wasn’t much - his face was pale and he was visibly forcing himself to eat but neither Mingtian nor the regular visitor Master Chen allowed him to skip his meals.
Much worse was that he didn’t sleep. Even if he did close his eyes, it was only for shorter times. He would wake up from his hazy slumber at least once an hour to check up on Shi Yue who did not move an inch.
Shi Yue’s wounds healed, as did Xie Yi’s.
When Master Chen came, she would check up on him. His left arm was bandaged all the way up to his shoulders, as was his torso with multiple smaller stab wounds. The slash on his face and right arm were left uncovered as Xie Yi mentioned that having pressure on it was worse.
Xue Hua came by often.
“Still not awake?”, he asked hoarsely after a week. With gentle fingers, he brushed his partner’s hair aside. “Are you sure he’s not in danger?”
“He got shaken up by that attack”, Master Chen explained patiently. It wasn’t the first time she said it. “It went all the way through his body. I highly doubt there is a lasting effect but his body needs all energy to concentrate on stabilizing everything.”
A bit wobbly from not moving all day and hardly eating, Xie Yi walked over to pat the bird’s shoulder. “He will wake up soon, I’m sure.”
Xue Hua nodded silently. He knew that Xie Yi was just as sad about this. He didn’t feel that Xie Yi was guilty for what happened - the Virtuous Sect fought often against demonic cultivators. Injuries and even comas weren’t unusual.
“Do you leave this room at all?”, Xue Hua asked him with a gaze turned down towards the sleeping cultivator.
“Sometimes”, Xie Yi vaguely answered. “To help with the medicine.”
“You’re still sleeping here?”
No answer. Xie Yi did not think he could call what he did sleeping.
“I hate seeing him in pain”, Xie Yi said with his hoarse voice. He walked over and smoothened the crease on Shi Yue’s head again.
Then he retreated to his chair and sat down.
Xue Hua sighed mentally and glanced at Mingtian who curled around his partner’s feet.
That they could do nothing but wait was painful.