Chapter 4: His First Friend
Hui Yue did as he was told and quickly gathered the villagers who had barricaded themselves within the protective shelter. Every villager was astonished and proud when they heard that the great Lord Rong Liang had decided upon their humble village to be the campsite for his entourage.
Hui Yue, however, did not share those happy feelings as he felt a sense of danger whenever he was within sight of the esteemed lord. Lord Rong Liang would always look at Hui Yue with a certain degree of interest, and Hui Yue was very unhappy with anyone who showed interest in his affairs.
The first day went by in chaos. The guardsmen were split into groups. Some were erecting their camp; others were hunting for provisions while a third group was scouting the area, ensuring that everything was safe.
The village that Hui Yue lived in was so small that it had never been given any specific name, and the villagers were so poor that no bandits would ever bother coming by come by, but Lord Rong Liang was a very important person, and he was currently travelling together with his two children. It was possible that his enemies would send small armies to deal with him in this situation.
The women in the village would find any excuse possible to walk past the campsite and look at the guardsmen. Some would blatantly flirt with the men, hoping that the guards would take a liking to them and bring them away from their poverty-stricken lives while others would blush and run away the moment their eyes met.
Hui Lifen was also interested in the campsite, but unlike most of the young women, she was interested in hearing stories from the outside world. Hui Lifen was a very beautiful woman, and the guards would gladly comply with her insatiable desire to hear stories from the busy cities.
Hui Yue had been dragged to the camp together with his mother; however, he had managed to escape as Hui Lifen was busy hearing the exciting stories.
Hui Yue had to be careful around any expert with a higher cultivation than himself, as they had the ability to screen his cultivation base. Lan Feng was capable of faking their cultivation base to look like someone who did not cultivate for a short amount of time, however it did not last for very long, and neither Hui Yue nor the phoenix felt like risking revelation.
Hui Yue had been staying at home since he escaped his mother and managed to refine yet another qi thread before both parents returned home and got ready for dinner.
Dinner was quite luxurious today as Lord Rong Liang’s party had handed out all the extra meat they had acquired on their hunt.
“Yue er,” Hui Lifen said when she saw Hui Yue, “Lord Rong Liang asked about you,” she continued happily, “he has never seen a disease like yours before, and he would very much like to examine it later on.” Hui Yue felt his blood freeze over. It was clear that Lord Rong Liang did not believe that Hui Yue was an ordinary boy.
“I am fine, I am sure it will just waste the time of an esteemed lord,” Hui Yue said meekly, but his mother quickly dismissed his worry, “Lord Rong Liang was the one who requested to examine you, I am sure he wishes to understand your disease. It would be rude to not comply with his request now that he has granted our village a visit.”
Hui Yue could only grit his teeth as he agreed to visit the camp early in the morning before going out with the goats.
The morning broke as usual, and after eating a quick breakfast Hui Yue ran out the door and disappeared within the thick morning mist.
Hui Yue had left the shack earlier than normal as he had no excuse to not visit Lord Rong Liang on the way. However, Hui Yue was not dumb, and he was very well aware that there was no way that the lord would be awake this early, and since Hui Yue had a specific task to do throughout the day he had a good reason to come by at this ungodly hour.
“Halt!” a stern voice suddenly roared out in the chilled morning air, and Hui Yue instantly stopped while waiting for the guard to arrive at his location. The guard furrowed his brow and looked at the beautiful child which was definitely no older than five years old. The morning mist that was gathering around his white hair and pale skin made him seem as if he was a fairy that had stepped out from an ancient legend. Beauty was usually dangerous and the guard got very alert upon seeing the young child.
“State your purpose,” he said with evident hostility in his voice, and Hui Yue was quite impressed with the guard’s vigilance.
“I’m Hui Yue,” he said, once again with his sugar-coated voice, “Lord Rong Liang said that he wished to examine my disease, but unfortunately it is my job to look after the goats and I have to take them to the hillside before dawn every morning,” Hui Yue continued with a saddened voice and a downcast face.
The guard could not help but feel a slight tinge of sadness upon seeing his downcast face, but even if he did pity the child, he had no intention of waking up Lord Rong Liang at this godforsaken hour.
“I understand,” Hui Yue said with a low voice, while he internally cheered together with Lan Feng, “can you please tell his lordship that I wished to be here for his examination, but mama always tells me that I have to be responsible and I am not allowed to skip my work?” Hui Yue looked at the guard once more, this time with a hint of unshed tears lining his eyes.
“Of course I’ll tell him!” The guard said right away, and he was rewarded with a happy and naïve smile that spread on Hui Yue’s face. No one would have expected that this was exactly the result the said child wanted by arriving this early.
Hui Yue quickly thanked the guard and waved goodbye before rushing back towards the village pen so that he could get far away from the village in case the sensitive Lord Rong Liang should have noticed him and suddenly woken up. Hui Yue could not help but feel slightly paranoid, as he remembered Murphey’s Law from his past.
Hui Yue decided to move to a hillside that was quite difficult to find, and he finally managed to relax a little after cultivating for a couple of hours with no one interrupting him. He was certain that even if Lord Rong Liang wanted to locate him, he would have a very hard time as no one knew these hillsides as well as Hui Yue did.
However, Lan Feng warned him that someone was coming his way, just as Hui Yue had decided upon eating his packed lunch.
‘It is not Rong Liang,’ Lan Feng said with a curious voice, ‘but it is definitely not anyone from the village either.’
Hearing Lan Feng say that caused Hui Yue to be on guard, but he quickly realized that even if he did want to protect himself and the goats, there was really nothing he could do.
Hui Yue was spending all his time gathering essence and refining qi, and he did not even know one martial art skill to make use of his accumulated strength.
‘You useless phoenix,’ Hui Yue was swearing in his mind, ‘what is the point of this well refined qi if I can’t even protect my life against some bandits?’ he was growing frantic, as he really had no other option than to hope that the approaching person was friendly.
Both Lan Feng and Hui Yue were quite surprised when they finally saw who the person was. This person should never have been able to find his hiding place, but here he was, Lord Rong Liang’s son. He had a big smile plastered upon his face when he noticed Hui Yue, and he even carried a beautiful flower in one hand.
Hui Yue was not dumb, and guessed that Lord Rong Liang most likely was busy at the camp, and had sent his son to try to gather information. Therefore, Hui Yue had no other option than to be friendly towards this newcomer.
“Young master, what are you doing all the way out here?” Hui Yue asked with his big eyes and a voice as clear as the cloudless sky. The voice seemed to cause Lord Rong Liang’s son to smile, as he handed the flower to Hui Yue,
“I saw this flower in the forest and thought of your beauty so I decided to come and deliver it personally.” This was the first thing that the young master ever said to Hui Yue, and Hui Yue could not help himself from freezing up momentarily before Goosebumps appeared on his skin. Something was definitely wrong with the Rong family.
While Hui Yue was stunned Lan Feng was laughing his heart out, causing Hui Yue’s mind to explode with noise, however he quickly regained his composure and looked at the flower. It was indeed beautiful. It was a white orchid with a warm yellow core. Its beauty was unrivalled amongst flowers in the forest, but it was also used to create a deadly poison.
‘Heh, this is great,’ Lan Feng said while trying to restrain his laughter, however it was not very successful, and he had a constant giggle.
“Ah this is beautiful Young Master,” Hui Yue said with shining eyes while looking at the very self-satisfied young boy, “I will definitely treasure it.” Inside, Hui Yue was growing impatient. He could not wait for this young master to leave so that he could return to cultivating, but on the other hand he did not intend to let the young boy suspect that Hui Yue was abnormal, so his only option was to patiently wait for the other to leave.
The young master quickly sat down on the grass and found his own lunch before gesturing for Hui Yue to sit next to him. Hui Yue outwardly smiled, and looked so proud and slightly embarrassed by being allowed so close to nobility, while inwardly sighing and trying to figure out a way to chase the annoying boy away.
“Is it really okay for young master to spend your valuable time out here on the hills together with the goats?” Hui Yue asked fearfully. He hoped that the young master really did have some chores to attend back at camp, but the young boy did not seem as if he intended to leave.
“Call me Rong Ming,” he said instead while playing with the grass around him. Hui Yue was shocked. Why on earth did he have to become the playmate of some noble boy when he had more important things to deal with, however as usual, he would not risk allowing the young master to have any suspicions that he could tell his father about. So instead he said “Rong Ming” with a low voice and forced a blush to creep into his cheeks.
‘You are a great actor!” Lan Feng praised him, while laughing. Although Lan Feng did enjoy the feeling of Hui Yue getting stronger, he still enjoyed the current situation throughout. It was a lot less boring than staring at goats and grass and qi threads all day long for the past five years.
Hui Yue did a mental sigh as he knew there would be no help from his phoenix friend, and instead decided to give up on cultivating today, and play along with this city boy. Hopefully he could grasp some information about the city or outside world from him, as Lan Feng was useless when it came to current worldly knowledge.
“Why do you need to enter the Magical Forest?” Hui Yue asked Rong Ming with a frightened look on his face. He knew that his family feared the core area of the magical forest, as the beasts who lived there were very dangerous, and he was uncertain as to why anyone who lived a luxurious lifestyle would want to experience such dangers.
“Rong Xing, that’s my sister, and I need to see some of the martial skills we are practicing in real combat.” Rong Ming answered easily, while lying down on the grass and looking at the blue sky,
“Young master, can you tell me about life outside this village?” Hui Yue asked with a breathless voice, and his eyes gleamed with curiosity. This was one time where he did not need to actually act; this was something that he truly wished to know about.
Rong Ming smirked satisfactorily upon seeing the young child having such an expression and told him to lie down, as he would explain a little.
“Our father is the lord of Rilou City and the surrounding areas, and I am his heir,” was the first Rong Ming said with a very proud voice, “there is no cultivator around as strong as father.”
Hui Yue could not help but chuckle. Although Rong Ming was supposed to be a mature child, he was still a child, and all children loved bragging about their parents.
“Are you a cultivator?” Hui Yue asked curiously, while looking at the young boy that was lying next to him.
“mhm,” was the answer, “both Xing and I have reached the ninth star of the student level. We are definitely the best students in school, but we need to get much better. I need to make father proud,” he said with a determined voice, and it did cause Hui Yue to gain some respect for the young child. He himself had struggled for five years just to reach the second star.
“Why is your hair white?” Rong Ming suddenly asked. Hui Yue had been expecting the question to appear earlier so he was not surprised when it finally arrived.
“I don’t know,” he said honestly, “one night it was black and the next morning it was white. I don’t remember anything, I was a baby.” Hui Yue said with a sigh, and Rong Ming got the impression that he was asked this question quite often,
“What is the city like?” Hui Yue quickly asked before Rong Ming had the chance to ask more questions, and the rest of the afternoon passed by with Rong Ming telling Hui Yue about the clothing stores, the restaurants, the harbour and marketplaces. To Hui Yue it sounded very much like what a normal big city would have been like in his world, and it gave him a slight feeling of relief, that he could count on some of his previously acquired knowledge when he was to enter town for the first time.
Hui Yue stood up as dusk arrived and guided the goats and Rong Ming back to the village. He split up with the young master right as they reached the village pen and rushed home under the excuse of promising his mother always to hurry straight back.
Hui Yue couldn’t help but letting out a relieved sigh when he finally reached his home. Although he had gotten some good information he had still wasted a whole day of cultivating.
‘They are ten years old and they are already at the ninth star. I really need to shape up,’ Hui Yue complained to Lan Feng.
‘Don’t stress it’ was the answer, ‘although they are at the ninth star it is obvious that their qi is not of as good a quality as yours. If they want to advance into the lower Zhong or middle Shang dantians they will need to use a great deal of qi refining medicine, and it can’t guarantee success.’
Hui Yue could not help but feeling slightly good upon hearing that his hard work did have its benefits.
‘Oh yeah,’ he said while eating some steamed buns that was left for him in the kitchen, ‘I really need to learn some martial art skills. Without them I will have some serious problems,’ Hui Yue complained, and Lan Feng could only agree.
‘There is one issue though,’ Lan Feng said, ‘When I started cultivating my father directly opened up my middle dantian so most of my skills require spirit power or elemental affinity.’
Hui Yue was one big question mark upon hearing those words. Elemental affinity? What was that?
‘Right. I didn’t explain it earlier since it was simply too much information, but I’ll explain it now.’ Lan Feng said slowly.
‘The Qi you gather right now is pure white Qi. You can use normal qi with martial arts. It has no affinity but that is why it is restricted to martial arts alone. Right now you alone have no affinity because you still have not accessed your middle dantian and released it.’
‘I thought that the middle dantian was spirit power?’ Hui Yue said questioningly, he did understand the affinity, but what did it have to do with spirit power?
‘Right. Qi is used for martial arts. Spirit power is used for Spiritual arts. I guess you would call it magic back in your old world. Your spirit power, or as you know it magic, will be affected by your affinity. Let’s say you have affinity for fire, then you can use your spirit power to learn fire-related spirit attacks. Together with this, there are certain spirit attacks that are not determined by elemental affinity, but they are incredibly rare. One of them was the illusion you saw Rong Liang use on the qilins.’
Hui Yue nodded, it made sense.
‘So do you know any martial arts?’ he asked quickly, as he understood that martial arts were the way he had to learn.
‘I know some,’ Lan Feng said hesitantly, ‘but they are all quite high levelled. I am not sure if they will be of any use to you right now,’
‘It is worth a try,’ Hui Yue said determined, and Lan Feng had to agree. It was definitely better than being completely unguarded.
‘Oh right,’ he said quickly, ‘I am not sure which affinity you have, but since we share a soul you will definitely be able to use my affinities as well.’
Hui Yue’s eyes grew with excitement, ‘which affinity do you have?’ Lan Feng snorted at the obvious question, ‘It is obviously fire. But not the normal fire, it is Blue Fire.’
‘Does it have any awesome properties apart from the looks?’ Hui Yue could not help but ask. He had after all received a new look thanks to this phoenix; however, he had not gained any super powers in the process.
‘I don’t know,’ Lan Feng said carelessly, ‘I never bothered comparing it to normal fire, so I’ll let you deal with that.’
Hui Yue could not help but chuckle slightly, as it was very typical for Lan Feng not to care. Deep inside he was curious to see which affinity he himself had.
‘I’ll teach you a martial art skill when the cultivating party disappears.’ Lan Feng promised before the two of them slipped into a deep sleep.
The following morning Hui Yue once again sat out towards the hillsides with the goats, and this time he hoped he would be able to catch up with the lost cultivation from the day before. After having heard about the affinity and the magic abilities Hui Yue could not wait until he could unlock his middle dantian. The word magic made him as giddy as the little child he was supposed to be.
However, his great mood was quickly killed as he saw a person moving towards him in the early morning mist.
“Hui Yue!” Rong Ming called out excitedly, and while Hui Yue sighed inwardly, he once again laughed and returned the greeting with utmost excitement.
This day Rong Ming told Hui Yue about his cultivating training. Every large city within the empire was expected to have a royal academy for cultivators. The royal academy was split into the inner circle and the outer circle. The outer circle was students who relied solely on qi and the lower dantian while the inner circle only allowed those who had broken through to the ranks of Master or above.
The inner circle was located within the kingdom’s capital while the outer circle was located within every large city.
The academy enrolled students from the age of ten and they needed to have Five Stars Student level, or some very rich noble parents who would pay an insane tuition fee. Cultivating speed would be increased upon reaching the disciple levels and the academy helped with both medicinal pills and martial art skills.
Each year every academy would send five students to the capital where there were the outer rank tournament and the inner rank tournament.
Rong Ming and Rong Xing were both considered the two geniuses from this year’s new students, and Rong Ming was very proud while telling Hui Yue about these things.
‘School does not sound like such a bad idea,’ Hui Yue could not help but think, but he quickly scrapped the thought as he remembered how easily he would be noticed.
‘At school you have no reason to hide your cultivation base and when you reach disciple I should be able to mask myself,’ Lan Feng said calmly. ‘Well I will be able to mask myself against human cultivators, but if there are any strong beasts around they will definitely notice our aura.’
Hui Yue nodded solemnly. It would be a great risk, but right now, it was not a decision he needed to make. He was after all only five years old and a lot of things could happen within those five years.
The following day Hui Yue was not surprised when he saw Rong Ming locating him at yet another hillside, and this time he was taught about the different countries. Currently they were living within the Taiyang Kingdom, which was ruled by the Taiyang family. There were seven big cities within this Kingdom, but Taiyang City was the capital and obviously the biggest of them all.
The continent had another three kingdoms apart from the Taiyang kingdom, and they were the Siban Empire, the Yueliang province and Shenyuan.
Three of these kingdoms worked together in a union, however Shenyuan had been closed for the outside world for thousands of years and no one who dared enter would ever return.
Both Hui Yue and Lan Feng were listening to everything with great interest.
‘I bet,’ Hui Yue began, ‘that the guy we are looking for is within Shenyuan.’ Lan Feng could not help but giggle. It would indeed make sense if their target hid himself within a country riddled with fear and murder.
The days went by one after another, and Rong Ming came to find Hui Yue every single day. It annoyed Hui Yue that he had lost almost a month’s worth of cultivating, however he would much rather keep the young son company than have to constantly be on guard against his father, Rong Liang. The esteemed lord had not tried to get close to Hui Yue since his son started visiting the hills every day.
Finally, the day arrived where Lord Rong Liang broke up the camp and moved his entourage towards the magical forest.
“I promise that I will return for you,” Rong Ming said with a serious voice while holding Hui Yue’s hands within his own. Hui Yue had gotten used to the way Rong Ming looked at him, and he pitied the young lord. Hui Yue was convinced that Rong Ming was lonely and lacked friends, which was why he had become so friendly with the younger white haired boy.
Lan Feng was not able to stop laughing for hours; however, he refused to tell Hui Yue why he was laughing. He claimed that Hui Yue was incredibly dim-witted, but that even he would notice one day