"Are, are you an immortal?"
Zheng Kaixin sat paralysed on the ground, still unable to gather up enough strength to get up, but he was no longer as frightened as earlier. After all, many believed in "bad-looking people do more mischief" and would fall more often for a pretty face than they shouldn't. Zheng Kaixin simply could not relate that face to a ghost.
Gu Yu was slightly surprised. He had been cultivating here and did not expect to see a child coming out of nowhere.
Looking closely, he saw that the boy came with a barely detectable energy, which was rather similar to the lump of black air troubling Yang Qing, but his was much less corrosive. The energy was compatible and interrelated with the vital energy of his body and had reached a delicate balance.
Recalling the story Jingyi told them earlier that day, he realized this was probably that child that had been infected by the evil energy.
Interesting! Very interesting!
Pulling the kid to his feet, he asked with a smile, "What are you doing here at this hour of the night? Shouldn't you be in bed?"
"I would stay here a while after my physical exercise every day," answered Zheng Kaixin despite himself, still befuddled.
"Physical exercise? Where did you learn it?"
"Uncle Jingyi taught me."
"If you don't mind, could you show me some of your moves?"
"Um, I'm, I'm not very good at it…"
For some unknown reason, Zheng Kaixin felt very close to the man and felt he liked this adult a lot. Despite his shyness, he squared himself and carried out the exercise scrupulously.
Gu Yu watched him tentatively. It was a set of simple and fluid movements, which should be a basic martial arts moves of the Maoshan Sect.
The kid reached the end of the movements, finished it up, and resumed a standing-up position. Sweat covered his face again. He raised his arm and was about to wipe it away, when the man made a slight wave and a warm breeze brushed across his face. He was then as dry and clean as a new boy.
"Not bad. Keep at it. It'll do you good."
Gu Yu bent down a little and rubbed his head, smiling. "You of all people should know that you're different from the rest of them. But don't give up, nor should you feel you're inferior in any way. This is your talent, one that the others could not even begin to envy for. You'll see when you're a little older."
The little one nodded, not understanding a single word.
"Well, it's time for me to leave. I'll see you when I see you."
With that, Gu Yu drifted into the distance with one sway. One more move and he was almost out of sight.
"Uncle!" Zheng Kaixin ran after him eagerly, shouting, "You haven't told me yet, are you an immortal?"
Staring back at him was the night sky alone. The man was nowhere to be seen.
Damn it! Gu Yu almost stumbled on his feet. 'Since when am I an "Uncle"? I'm only 25, for Christ's sake! That kid could not have been more than seven or eight years old… well, if you put it that way, he wasn't exactly wrong to call me uncle.'
We'll leave Zheng Kaixin's disappointment alone for the time being and turn our attention to Gu Yu first. After returning to his dormitory, instead of entering his own room, he knocked on the door of the next room.
Xiaozhai opened the door and let him in. "What's up?"
"Nothing, really. It's just that I met that kid. It was kind of interesting."
Gu Yu told her about what happened and Xiaozhai was intrigued as well. "What exactly is his condition?"
"The kid had made contact with some ghost and was infected with a hint of Yin energy. His main and collateral channels are rather special, they were able to keep that little bit of Yin energy inside, making him sensitive to supernatural things." He paused a little and went on. "I checked just then; that Yin energy has become apart of his body and grows as he grows. With proper guidance, he will make great achievements."
"Special channels? Could it be the legendary 'incurable meridian of nine Yin'?" Xiaozhai let her imagination fly, chuckling. "But isn't the incurable meridian of nine Yin usually found in girls? Some thousand-year-old monster would grab such girl and use her as a vessel, until one day the protagonist shows up and uses them for experience gathering. There are also those with particular taste that enjoys the company of a tauren…"
She was carried away by her vivid mockery and laughed until she couldn't sit straight.
However they enjoyed their chitchat, neither of the two mentioned specifically that they would take the child back to Phoenix Mountain. A tiny population they might have, but they were not that desperate to force a child into their company whenever they got a chance.
Of course, if the kid showed a sincere desire to join, they wouldn't mind taking a pupil.
Their goal was clear—they chose to surpass the others with an exceedingly high level of cultivation. They could have as many employees as they needed, but when it came to pupils, quality was always put before quantity. Have you ever heard about the Carefree Sect 1 ?
"Oh, by the way, Senior Wu has informed his pupil to join us tomorrow. We'll be going back to Shengtian together," said Xiaozhai suddenly.
"That Chao Kongtu?"
"I exchanged blows with him in Changbai. He's quite unique, doesn't have those eyes of Lu Yuanqing."
"You mean he's decent?"
The couple chatted on, each sitting on one end of the bed. They moved closer and closer as they talked, eventually sticking onto one another.
Little Soap shrank herself to the corner of the other bed, emanating the miserable air of a "single dog". Seeing that the shameless couple was snuggling more and more passionately and the situation was heading for the inevitable, she finally could not watch any longer, hopped out of bed, and rushed towards the door.
"Where are you going?" Her sister managed to find the time to ask.
"My eyes, my heart! This can't be legal! I'm calling the police!"
"Why, sorry about that, but I didn't even see you. I thought you were asleep," said Gu Yu surprisingly.
'F**k, f**k, f**kity f**k!'
Little Soap jumped up, tempted to smack him. 'Seeing me or not, don't you have any common sense?'
'Nope, that has been replaced by my self-importance!'
Zheng Kaixin hurriedly ran back to his dormitory. Mother Zheng was going to go out and search for him because of his late return and scolded, "Where were you? Do you know what time it is? I thought the wolves had taken you!"
"I was doing my exercise…"
Catching his breath, the kid closed the door secretively and tugged his mother's clothes. "I, I ran into an immortal!"
"Not only are you wasting your time playing, you're lying to me now? Get over here!"
Mother Zheng was under great pressure by leaving home and living with her son up on the mountain, making her temper rather volatile. At those words, she instinctively thought her son was making things up and was going to grab something to hit him with.
"I really saw one! Ouch!"
Zheng Kaixin cried out at the spank and began to run around the table, yelling, "Don't hit me! Don't hit me! I really did!"
"You little liar! Liar! Do you think it's easy for me to live here with you? Why can't you be a good boy…"
The woman exploded and all reason was gone from her. As she scolded on, she was on the edge of breaking into tears.
Zheng Kaixin also lost his temper, shouting back, "I have seen grandpa, haven't I? Why can't I see an immortal!"
The woman froze and stood there dazed, looking utterly befuddled. She only sat down unsteadily after a while and broke into a sob covering her face. She fought back the tears in a moment, raised her head, and said, "Come here. I won't hit you any more. Tell me, exactly what happened?"
"I went to do my exercise, then I went to that platform. There was no fog there, but there was today. I wanted to touch it and, and the fog moved. It turned into an uncle…" The child was not very good with his words and stuttered a little with the explanation. "He talked to me and asked me to show him the exercise. He also said that I am not the same as other people and it's a good thing. I will know when I'm older."
"He really said that?" Mother Zheng suddenly grabbed her son by the arm.
"Yes, that's what he said."
"Do you remember what he looked like?"
"Um, he was tall and thin. His eyes were very bright. He was very good-looking, too."
"And his clothes? What was the color of his clothes?"
"W-white, I think," said the kid, a little frightened.
Mother Zheng suddenly fell into a silence. She was sweeping the floor in the Hall of Spiritual Officials when the guests arrived. She took a casual looked at that time. One of the man was indeed tall, thin, and dressed in white.
Momentarily, a million thoughts when through her head and she was in fidgets, like a drowning person who had grabbed a passing straw.
As nice as the priests of Maoshan might be, they were obviously not as capable, for none of them could turn into a fog. Since that man had pointed out her son's problem, he might have a way to save him...
The following morning.
Gu Yu and the other three where having breakfast in the dining hall. The dishes had indeed changed after the fast day. They did not know about the ordinary disciples outside in the canteen, but on the table of the private dining room, they found a basin of steamed meat buns and a basin of porridge with vegetable greens.
You heard it right. The unit was "basin"!
Have you ever seen a steamed meat bun the size of a baseball? One bite from Wu Songbai and half of it was gone. The flour wrapper slid down the throat with the gravy and it was soft, mellow, and scrumptious. Wow, he felt fully recharged.
"Senior, I thought you were only joking yesterday. I see now that you do love you meat!" Gu Yu was genuinely amazed.
"Without the satisfaction of eating meat, what fun is there to be immortal?" Shaking his head, Wu Songbai said in a self-mocking tone, "I'm not like you young people. All there is left for me is the desire for good food."
"Never be so sure. You are not that old. The great opportunity could be just around the corner."
"Haha, thanks for the comforting words!" The old man wolfed another steamed meat bun and said, "Tianzhu Mountain is not that close. My pupil is already on his way and will probably arrive at noon. Have you booked your plane tickets?"
"Well, that's all set, then."
While he was happily busying himself with the food, the couple sitting opposite him exchanged a look and Xiaozhai took out a wooden box from her bag. "Senior, you have done us a great favor that we cannot possibly think of returning. Please accept this small gift."
"That's very thoughtful of you!"
Wu Songbai put it away into his sleeve without checking it. He was without a doubt that it was something remarkable. When treated nicely, Phoenix Mountain had been nothing but generous.
Before long, they finished breakfast, walked out of the dining hall, and went back towards the living room along the corridor.
Halfway there, a woman sprinted out of a corner and knelt down with a thump right in front of Gu Yu, crying out, "Master Immortal, please have mercy!"
Little Soap jumped at this: did people use such ruse 2 in Maoshan as well? She was about to make herself squabble ready when a kid scuttled out of nowhere, also crying, "Mum, what are you doing? Get up!"
The woman scolded the child and was going to fall prostrate to the ground when a gentle force raise her to her feet and a clear and rich voice said, "Do stand up, please."
Watching the man, she was all the more overtaken by the feeling that this elegant and carefree man standing in front of her was not a man of this mortal world. She couldn't help but shrink back a little. She had never been an outgoing person, but she would do anything for her son. Fighting back the anxiety and shame, she was shivering from head to toe.
"Master Immortal, please, please take Kaixin in as your pupil."
"Oh? Why would I do that?" The look on Gu Yu's face was hard to describe.
"After meeting you yesterday, Kaixin has been yearning to see you the whole time. He almost did not sleep last night and was talking about you all the time… you know, he's different from all the other kids. If you don't take him, I have no idea what will become of him…"
The woman began by flattering Gu Yu, but gradually let her true sentiments show. "I don't know what else to do. He's still so little and there are so many years ahead for him. I wish for no great achievements from him. All I want is for him to be cured and grow up safely… sob, please have mercy!"
A hush fell of the courtyard.
Wu Songbai watched on the side, not offended to the least. Zheng Kaixin was not a disciple of Maoshan Sect and even if they wanted to take the kid in, with the resources of Maoshan, the opportunities they could provide for him would be very limited.
The kid wanted the master and the master wanted the kid. Such was how fate worked and he was in no position to meddle.
Gu Yu watched the mother and son in turn and suddenly said, "I can take him, but he will not be my pupil and he has to go alone. Will you be able to part with him?"
"As long as you can cure him, I will!"
With everything that had happened, Mother Zheng had abandoned materialism completely. She believed in the Maoshan Sect and its honorable guest and this was her last resort—it was not as if it could become any worse.
Zheng Kaixin would not have it. Holding onto his mother, he cried, "I won't! I'm not going anywhere without you!"
Watching the scene, Little Soap wrinkled up her face in disdain—'what's with all the never-seeing-you-again stuff?'
She knew why her sister and brother-in-law had to put them through this and said impatiently, "Fine, fine. You can go! You can both go! We're not some supervillains, okay?"TL/N: a sect from the wuxia novel "Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils. Basically, this sect had very few disciples, but each was a master in a certain aspect and all had exceptional good looks. TL/N: "碰瓷" (peng ci) literally means 'touch porcelain', but basically, it means faking an accident to claim for compensation.