Chapter 3: Unexpected Visitors
The village was abuzz with activity as soon as the news of Hui Yue’s change in appearance spread. Everyone who saw him had the impression that they were looking at an angel. His white hair was purer than newly fallen snow, and his beautiful blue eyes were like a mirror of the endless sky.
Everyone visited the Hui family shack to see the beautiful infant, but even if they admired his looks, a certain fear crept into their hearts. No one could explain why the child would change so suddenly overnight; however, everyone had their own theories.
Some blamed it on a horrible nightmare that scared him so much that his appearance changed, others claimed it was a curse from some strong magical beast which was unhappy with the villagers for harvesting medical herbs in the forest. Still others were convinced that he was suffering from some kind of disease, but no matter what theory they came up with no one really knew why it had happened.
Although Hui Yue’s appearance shocked the village, it was quickly accepted as normal because the infant did not seem to affect others nor was he causing any disasters to the village. Within a year everyone fully accepted that the changes to Hui Yue were unexplainable, and he once again returned to be the darling child of the villagers.
Within the year, Hui Yue managed to get some control over his body and was able to walk around on unsteady legs; however, every movement that Hui Yue made required extra attention as he had no intention of revealing his actual strength to anyone.
During this year, Hui Yue finally managed to get his speech under control. Lan Feng was entertained while listening in on his efforts to turn his baby language into actual words, but both Lan Feng and Hui Yue felt incredible relief when they finally managed to say their first word correctly.
Saying his first word was like releasing a flood upon dried land, and Hui Yue managed to completely master the spoken language within a month. However, he had to conceal his linguistic skills, just like his strength, as he felt no reason to attract unwanted attention from the villagers once again.
Upon reaching the first star level, Hui Yue noticed that twenty new paths unsealed in his body opened up by the influx of new energy, and each permeated with a sensation of catharsis. Of those twenty, only twelve were currently accessible, and his Qi spiral constantly sent small threads of Qi to roam the open paths. As his Qi roamed his Qi paths a sense of strength flooded Hui Yue’s body and he felt immense joy from experiencing this sudden strength.
Lan Feng gave a brief explanation. The twelve open paths were the standard meridians, and they were a network of Qi connections that enabled his Qi to circulate through his body. The meridians were split into yin yang clusters, and each path had a specific concentration of yin or yang energy. The eight closed meridians would require much effort to open, and currently, Lan Feng saw no reason to focus on them as he was not likely to fight anytime soon.
Lan Feng refused to explain more about the mysterious yin and yang energy as he stressed the fact that it had no actual usage before Hui Yue managed to unlock his middle dantian.
Hui Yue sighed upon hearing this; however, he understood that there was no reason for him to insist on an explanation since he knew that Lan Feng would definitely tell him in due time.
Another benefit upon reaching the first star was that he was capable of gathering more essence at one time than before while still refining it into the highest quality Qi.
Time rushed by as Hui Yue kept on refining Qi and this also let him understand how different his new body was, compared to his old one. During these four years of quiet refining and self-introspection Hui Yue managed to stay as average as possible, but despite this, he was still the most popular, well-liked child in the village due to his calm demeanor and stunning looks.
At this time he was now almost five years old, and he had the strength of a ten year old child. A few months after turning five years he finally reached the second star Student rank after meticulously refining thread after thread of shining white Qi. Lan Feng ordered Hui Yue to keep refining his Qi by using his consciousness in the way he had been doing so far, even though he had long since gained enough control over his body to meditate.
For the sake of a perfect foundation, Hui Yue kept refining and absorbing essence with his consciousness until reaching the level of a first star Disciple. Although it was a hard and relentless job, Hui Yue had no intention of complaining. Now he could refine four Qi threads a day, and each thread was triple the size of the first one he had managed to create all those years ago.
As Hui Yue grew older, he was given the task of guarding the few goats that the village bred. For this task, he would usually wake up at dawn every morning, eat some porridge that his mother cooked, and then happily gather the goats before heading towards a random hillside outside the village.
At this age most of the children were usually given easier tasks; however, Hui Yue’s calm personality and great temperament invoked admiration with the village elder, and Hui Yue had happily accepted the task. He did so because it was beneficial for him to be outside the village to avoid curious gazes while he cultivated.
It was one of those days where the sun was shining brightly in the sky with no clouds in sight, and the few goats were peacefully grazing on the hillside around Hui Yue as he cultivated. However, Hui Yue furrowed his brow as he felt like something was wrong.
‘There is a large group of people coming this way,’ Lan Feng said with a worried voice as he sensed the aura of cultivators. Hui Yue did not waste any time as he gathered his goats then rushed back to the village.
“Village elder!” Hui Yue yelled the moment he entered the village, and upon speaking, everyone turned their attention towards the beautiful child. The face that was usually indifferent now had a slightly frantic expression on it as he called for the village elder.
“What’s wrong boy?” The elder asked in a tender voice as no one had ever seen Hui Yue this flustered before.
“A large group of people are headed this way!” Hui Yue said breathlessly after running all the way back. “They have some cultivators in their group as well. They seemed really strong!” Hui Yue’s big blue eyes were staring at the village elder, who paled upon hearing this.
The news quickly spread around the village, but all the men were working in the forest gathering medicinal herbs and only the women and children remained in town.
“Everyone!” The elder quickly roared. “Gather your belongings and go to our protective shelter in the forest now!”
As soon as the order was given, everyone rushed around gathering the livestock and items that had any value before they gathered in a long line, heading towards the shelter. After seeing his fellow villagers safe, the village elder refused to follow as he was uncertain whether the visitors were bandits or adventures and regardless someone had to welcome the guests either way.
Hui Yue stared at the elderly man for a moment before making the decision to stay and observe what a real cultivator looked like. If things went badly, he was certain that he would at least be able to flee.
“Yue-er, we need to go now,” His mother said with a frightened voice, but she noticed a strange determination in Hui Yue’s eyes.
“Mother, please let me stay; I promise I won’t be hurt,” Hui Yue said with a sweet voice. This was the first time that Hui Yue had ever asked anything of his parents, and his mother hesitated slightly. Although Hui Yue’s temperament did not fit a four year old, he was still her baby, and she was very worried about him.
“It’s okay mother,” Hui Yue reassured her with a stunning smile. “They will not even know I am here. If they are bandits, then I will quickly run away and hide.” Hui Lifen could only sigh and turned around as she passed along all her items to one of her friends. She decided to stay behind together with Hui Yue to await the uninvited visitors.
The two hid behind a building close to the village square and kept their eyes on the road that led into town. The village elder himself was waiting in the middle of the square right next to the main well. He stood straight and had a dignified look on his face.
It did not take long before the group of people entered the village, and Hui Yue gasped in surprise as he saw them. It was a large group of around fifty people. Half of them were mounted on Student ranked magical horses.
At the front of the group were three people. A middle-aged man followed by two children who seemed to be around ten years old. These three individuals were not riding on normal magical beasts but Qilins instead. The middle-aged man was riding on an adult Qilin while the children were riding on what seemed to be yearlings.
Hui Yue was astonished by the beauty of the Qilins. Their whole bodies were covered with dark green scales that got lighter under their stomachs and on the inside of their legs. Their tail, mane, and hooves were covered in red flames, and their red eyes were vigilantly observing the surroundings.
This was the first time that Hui Yue saw a real magical beast. He was greatly impressed by their beauty, but at the same time, he understood just how savage these wild beasts would be if they were not tamed.
Hui Yue noticed that his mother was also stunned by the appearance of these beautiful Qilins as her eyes shone with excitement. His mother had never seen a magical beast before as she lived within the safe borders of the village and had no reason to travel outside.
Suddenly the village elder’s voice rang through the air and shook Hui Yue’s focus from the Qilins.
“This lowly one greets Lord Rong Liang,” The village elder said before kowtowing on the ground in front of the middle-aged man.
Hui Yue was confused for a moment before he understood that this man was not a bandit. The name did ring a bell, but he was currently unable to pair the name with anyone specific.
‘It’s because you don’t do anything other than cultivate,’ Lan Feng said with a mocking voice as he observed what was happening with a keen eye.
‘I just follow your orders,’ Hui Yue stated dismissively at Lan Feng before asking, ‘Do you remember who he is?’
However, what he got was a depressed ‘No, why on earth would I remember a middle-aged man? That girl, on the other hand, will definitely turn into a beauty later.’ He continued while looking at the girl who was riding on the left side of Lord Rong Liang.
Hui Yue could not help but snort at the reply, ‘She is ten years old you pervert!’ He said with disdain as his attention was still focused on the elder who had now risen while the two children and Lord Rong Liang had dismounted.
‘That’s why I said when she grows up!’ Lan Feng continued. ‘Don’t be so shocked by something like this. They are not even that strong for a Qilin. If you want to see a real one, then we need to find wild Qilins. The ones that still have their antlers and whiskers. Now they are worthy of some respect.’
Lan Feng was once again speaking arrogantly, and Hui Yue could not help but suck in some air as he heard what the phoenix said. He was already astonished by these magical beasts, but they could only find disdain in Lan Feng’s heart. An incredible urge to go searching for a real Qilin suddenly appeared in Hui Yue’s heart.
Lan Feng laughed upon sensing Hui Yue’s desire, but just as he laughed a breeze blew from behind them and carried their scent to the village square where the Qilins were standing.
The moment Hui Yue and Lan Feng’s scent reached the group of horses and Qilins they instantly panicked. Lan Feng and Hui Yue had merged souls, so Hui Yue carried the scent of a Saint ranked beast which was enough to terrify any other magical beast to its very soul.
Lord Rong Liang was shocked when he noticed the Qilins panic and was forced to use his power to forcibly calm them down.
Hui Yue’s eyes grew large as he saw a gray mist that instantly calmed down all the mounts in it, causing them to look drugged.
‘That is spiritual energy,’ Lan Feng said with a quiet voice. ‘He has trapped all of them in an illusion so for now they can’t do anything. He is quite strong.’
Hui Yue felt lucky to be able to see such a high ranked expert, but he was also aware that the reaction of the mounts caused Lord Rong Liang to become alert, and that he and his mother would most definitely be noticed very quickly.
“Come out little mouse,” The lord said with a friendly voice, and Hui Yue had no reason to stay behind. He grasped his mother’s hand and slowly moved clear of the house they were hiding behind.
The village elder raised an eyebrow upon seeing them but said nothing.
“I’m really sorry mister,” Hui Yue said with tears in his eyes and in the most adorable voice he could muster. “I just really wanted to see someone from outside the village, so I hid and accidently got my mother caught up as well.”
Lord Rong Liang was shocked upon seeing the mother and child. He saw no reason why any of them would cause his Qilins to panic, but the closer the two of them came towards the village square the more spiritual energy was needed to keep the mounts pacified in his illusion.
The child was stunningly beautiful as his white hair and blue eyes were so exotic that Lord Rong Liang refused to believe that he really was a human child.
“Where are the rest of the villagers?” Lord Rong Liang finally asked while looking around the deserted village.
“We were not certain whether the approaching party was friend or foe; therefore, I had them hide in our protective shelter,” The elder answered with a humble and rather embarrassed voice.
“You knew we were coming?” Surprise was evident in Lord Rong Liang’s voice as he was not used to anyone being capable of noticing him while traveling, and he was certain that everyone within this village were only Student ranked cultivators.
“This young one saw your noble party while guarding the goats on the hillside your lordship,” Hui Yue said hurriedly, the personification of a slightly scared but curious child.
Lan Feng was laughing loudly while enjoying the play. Lord Rong Liang nodded upon hearing that they had been spotted on the way, but his eyes never left the beautiful child in front of him. If he were a half blooded magical beast, it would indeed be a rare treasure that he would want to acquire at any price.
“You do not look like the other villagers, are you an orphan?” He asked curiously, and Hui Yue instantly felt a tinge of danger hidden within his words.
“No milord,” Hui Lifen spoke up this time. “Our Hui Yue looked like any other child at birth, but during his first year we experienced an incident that caused his current appearance.” She said with great respect while kowtowing on the ground.
Lord Rong Liang was used to a life of scheming against others, and he could instantly tell that the woman was telling the truth. This both confused and interested him as the young child did not seem as simple as he expected.
“Village elder please bring the rest of the villagers back. Our party will be setting up camp just outside of your village for a month as we prepare for our trip into the forest.” Lord Rong Liang said with a firm voice, and the village elder quickly nodded before turning towards Hui Yue and his mother sending them off to recall the rest of the villagers.
Hui Yue and Lan Feng were as quiet as possible. Neither of them wished for this new lord to see their current level of strength, nor did they wish for anything else to be noticed, so they were quite happy when they were able to leave quickly.
Hui Yue quickly cupped his hands before he hurried out from under the gaze of Lord Rong Liang and his two children.
‘We are going to have some trouble,’ Lan Feng said with a worried voice, and Hui Yue could only nod in agreement.