Chapter 6: Younger Brother
It was early morning when Hui Yue woke up. Usually he would be up and about within a few minutes, however today was fairly different and he had to force his young body to leave the comfortable safety of his worn out blanket.
The white-haired boy left the shack, but today he did not walk towards the village pen to pick up the goats, instead he walked towards the cottage belonging to the village elder.
Hui Yue walked on the silent streets and his whole body was enveloped by the thick morning mist. The sun had yet to break through the sky, and the temperature had dropped low during the night, making the small body shiver from the cold.
A slight feeling of relief appeared in Hui Yue’s eyes when he saw light within the village elder’s cottage, and he quietly knocked on the door, which was almost instantly opened by the village elder’s daughter.
“Hui Yue,” she said with a surprised voice, “do you need to see father?” she asked after a bit. This young child was known to be very mature, so the woman treated him as an equal, although he was only seven years of age.
Hui Yue nodded, and slowly entered the warm home. To feel the heat from the hearth was a luxury that they did not have in his parent’s shack, so the young boy had to fight temptation to just stand in front of the gentle flame and allow it to heat him up. Usually Lan Feng would assist him in managing his internal temperature, however Lan Feng enjoyed sleeping in the mornings, so Hui Yue was on his own.
The woman gave Hui Yue a gentle smile upon noticing his eyes that were glancing towards the hearth. “Just wait next to the fire and I’ll get father out here,” she said with a cheerful voice as she moved into the inner quarters.
It did not take long before the village elder stepped into the heated room, and he looked at Hui Yue with a slight confusion. It was not that rare for the village children to visit him during the morning if they were to skip out from their chores, however this hardworking child had never done it before.
“Village elder,” Hui Yue said respectfully while cupping his hands together and giving a slight bow, “I need to ask for a replacement to take care of my chores today,” he said depressed. Hui Yue hated leaving his work to others, but right now he had no choice. Dealing with the Rong twins was definitely much more important than the goats.
The Village elder looked at him with furrowed brows. Hui Yue was clearly not sick, nor had he ever been sick so it was a big question as to why he needed the day off. However, the village elder decided that since Hui Yue had been looking after the goats for so many years with no breaks, it was not his place to question the boy. Instead he just nodded his old head and walked towards yet another room in the cottage.
“Lang er,” he said with a fairly loud voice, and rustling could be heard from within the chamber, “you will look after the goats today, Hui Yue has business to attend to,” he said to the boy who had just been woken up, and a grunt could be heard as a reply.
Hui Yue was grateful that he was not asked any questions and he quickly bowed towards the elder once more before he left the heat from the cottage.
The mist had gotten thicker as the heat had increased, but the sun still had to break past the mountain rage towards the east. It was a calm morning and the village was slowly waking up, ready to welcome yet another day just like the previous.
At least it was a normal day to every other villager. Hui Yue knew that today was different for him, and he was aware that if he made one mistake, it was likely that the calm village could be erased.
His mind once again returned to what had happened the previous evening, and he gritted his teeth as he had understood why Rong Ming had been treating him so specially. Although Rong Xing was reacting as if it was a good joke, Rong Ming was the one who might feel as if he had been made a fool.
Hui Yue reached the edge of the campsite and quietly sat down below a tree as he waited for the young master to wake up. He could not help but feel slightly nervous. The current problem was obviously caused by a misunderstanding, and although it could be argued that it was Rong Ming’s fault for assuming that Hui Yue was a girl, it could also be argued that Hui Yue should have noticed and cleared up the misunderstanding rather than leading the young master on for multiple years.
If Rong Ming wished to punish the village, it was very easy to put all the blame on Hui Yue, or even the rest of the village, saying that they had ordered the small child to act in order to gain favour from the young lord of Rilou City.
Hui Yue sighed deeply. He did not see Rong Ming as such a petty person, however this world was so different from his old one, and he had understood just how important honour and dignity was. If Rong Ming really did feel dishonoured, then he would likely get very mad.
The young white-haired boy gritted his teeth once again and forced himself to stop the negative thoughts, instead he emptied his mind and allowed his consciousness to enter his dantian cave where he sat down and started absorbing essence and refining qi. This trance was capable of calming his uneasy heart and also allowed him to improve his strength.
The sun quietly rose while Hui Yue was busy cultivating, and the campsite got quite busy as the soldiers woke up. All of them glanced towards the small child at least once, but they all knew that he was a personal friend of their young master, so none of them saw him as a potential threat and allowed him to cultivate in peace.
Hui Yue was about to finish refining the last qi thread and finally allowed his senses to return to his body, when he noticed that Rong Ming was sitting next to him, smiling.
“I am glad to see you cultivate as I told you to,” Rong Ming said cheerfully while grabbing the younger boy’s hands and dragged him towards the main tent in the middle of the camp.
The reason that Hui Yue dared cultivating this close to others was that his cultivation base rose so slowly that it would seem as if he had not cultivated for more than a year’s time with the most popular cultivation method, also they looked similar from outside, as Hui Yue now left his body in a meditation stance before submerging his consciousness within his dantian cave to refine qi.
As Rong Ming dragged him closer to the tent, Hui Yue felt how his worries decreased for each step he took. He knew that Lan Feng would be of no use to him right now, as both of them had agreed the previous day to go here and clear up the misunderstanding.
Even if Rong Liang was not present, Bu Huang was, and Lan Feng said, that he was not much weaker than Rong Liang himself. It was obvious that he too could notice Lan Feng if the phoenix did not use his full focus on concealing himself.
But Hui Yue felt calm, even when he considered all the risks he was taking to straighten up this misunderstanding. His aim was to become the strongest person in this world, to become the fifth creature to reach the rank of a god. If he was getting scared from something like this, then he had lost all his right to strive towards greatness.
Rong Ming was stronger than Hui Yue yes. His entourage could erase the whole village, which was also correct, but Hui Yue instantly understood that this was only the first time he was facing against a large force of overpowering opponents. Hui Yue would definitely encounter this again in the future, and by then he would be in a much worse position, as right now he had the leverage of being Rong Ming’s friend through the past many years.
The two children entered the central tent while Hui Yue was thinking all of this, and Rong Ming lead the white-haired boy towards a table to the side.
“Come sit down!” he said excitedly, “let us share breakfast. You did not eat breakfast?”
Hui Yue shook his head and was about to open his mouth, when Rong Ming stopped him, “you should be out guarding goats today, so I did not think I’d get to see you. Tell me, why did you come here?” the voice was friendly but it was easy to hear that the older boy was serious with a hint of worry. He too had understood Hui Yue’s personality and knew that the younger boy would never skip out on his chores unless he had something important to speak with Rong Ming about.
Hui Yue looked at the older boy with conflicting feelings evident in his face. It was obvious that the misunderstanding needed to be cleared up, however it had a high possibility of ending the one friendship that Hui Yue had gained in this new world, and it did cause a slight pain to the young boy’s heart. However, Hui Yue steeled his heart and determined raised his head, looking straight at Rong Ming.
“I met Lady Rong Xing yesterday,” Hui Yue started, “and she seemed shocked when we ran into each other at my bathing spot,” he continued. The voice was not rushed nor was it slow, Hui Yue had completely controlled his emotions as he was getting ready to reveal what would most likely shock Rong Ming quite a bit. “She was quite shocked when she noticed that I am a boy.” Hui Yue finished off, and a slight blush appeared in his face as he said the final sentence. It was the first time in his double life that anyone had mistaken him for a girl and the conversation was genuinely quite embarrassing.
Hui Yue did not look at Rong Ming, instead he stared at the ground in front of him, and gave off the impression of being scared of the older boy, fearing that he was mad at him. Hui Yue was well aware that he could not rely on strength to get through this, instead he would rely on his acting skills.
Hui Yue quickly glanced towards Rong Ming who was staring at the younger boy in front of him with a completely blank expression on his face. Rong Ming opened and closed his mouth a few times as if he did not know what to say, however, before he had the time to decide on his words, two people strode through the tent door.
Both Hui Yue and Rong Ming turned their heads and noticed Rong Xing and Bu Huang entering the tent, talking cheerfully to each other before both came to a stop when seeing Hui Yu and Rong Ming.
A slightly confused expression appeared on the face of Bu Huang but it was quickly masked by a stern look.
Rong Xing was instantly aware of what was happening, and Hui Yue managed to pick up a quick flash of playful disappointment in her beautiful ink-black eyes before a smile lit up her face, and she moved next to the younger boy, grabbing one of his small pale hands in her own.
Rong Ming had quickly returned his gaze to Hui Yue, and Hui Yue’s face was turning a deeper shade of crimson as he was the subject for such an intense gaze.
“I…” Rong Ming finally managed to push out a word, while still staring shocked at Hui Yue, who still appeared to be frightened to death, and dared not utter even the slightest sound, “I… Hahaha,” Suddenly a helpless laughter escaped Rong Ming’s shocked lips, and surprised everyone present. At first Hui Yue was rigid while listening to the laughter, but he soon realised that there was not even the slightest trace of rage, if anything it sounded quite self-mockingly.
“You… Are you really a boy?” Rong Ming asked again with a disbelieving smile on his face, and his clear eyes focused on Hui Yue who silently nodded, his cheeks scarlet red from embarrassment. He had to admit, that this was without a doubt the most embarrassing situation he had ever been in, in both lives combined. It was even more embarrassing than the one time his mother walked in on him while he was having fun with a girlfriend.
Rong Ming walked closer to the embarrassed boy and slowly circled around him while rubbing his chin, deep in thought.
“How can a boy be this beautiful?” he asked shocked. No matter how many times he looked at the young white-haired child, he could not help but think that he was simply too pretty to be male.
“It’s true,” Hui Yue finally squeezed the words out with an uncomfortable voice, and Rong Xing’s eyes flashed in an interesting way as she nodded.
“I can say for sure that he is a boy,” she said with a cheerful and clear voice. A comfortable smile was placed on her face, but she did not feel the slightest bit of embarrassment while thinking back to the scene she witnessed last night.
Bu Huang however, had a shocked expression on his face, and could not help but cough violently as he realized what that sentence implied. Rong Ming too seemed quite surprised, but he quickly regained his composure.
“This sucks,” he said with a slightly sullen voice and complicated expressions spread across his face, switching between depressed, entertained and shocked.
Rong Ming sighed as he looked at Hui Yue, but he quickly noticed that the younger boy seemed worried about the whole situation so he sent him a gentle and reassuring smile,
“It’s not your fault,” he said gently to Hui Yue, “I could not expect that the most beautiful person I ever met turned out to be a boy.” He looked closer once more and frowned, “we should cut your hair. Your long hair and pure white skin is so misleading.”
Hui Yue instantly nodded, he did not care about his hair length after all, and he was quite satisfied when he realised that Rong Ming was still treating him with the same kindness he had shown prior to the conversation.
“Ah well,” Rong Ming finally sighed with yet another glance towards Hui Yue, “since you can’t be my wife, you can be my younger brother,” he said decisively, and the sentence did cause Hui Yue to feel a bit of relief. Those twins were the closest Hui Yue had to friends apart from Lan Feng.
Lan Feng had hidden himself completely within the qi cave, and he had absolutely no intention of even commenting on what was happening outside. Both Lan Feng and Hui Yue did not dare underestimate Bu Huang, but even then, Hui Yue could still feel the chuckles that proved that the phoenix was still attentive to what was happening, and the situation was clearly entertaining him.
“Younger brother Hui Yue,” Rong Ming said with a complicated expression that soon turned into a genuine smile, “Hui Yue di-di is so beautiful that he will attract a lot of beautiful women later on. I am sure you can introduce me to someone pretty so I can get a beautiful wife later on.”
Hui Yue was slightly stunned upon hearing the twelve-year-old boy speak about a wife at this age. Hui Yue had been more than ten years older than this boy before his premature death, but even back then, he had never thought about getting married.
This subject caught Hui Yue completely off guard. He had understood Rong Ming’s intention of pursuing a pretty woman, he himself had done that multiple times, but pursuing a woman and intending a marriage was something completely unrelated to Hui Yue.
Rong Xing quickly noticed the stunned expression on Hui Yue’s face, and although she blamed the shock on his young age and poor upbringing, she quickly stepped in to help him in the awkward situation. Rong Xing grasped Hui Yue’s pale hand and lead him towards the table that was standing to one side in the tent.
This table was clearly the table used to dine at, as there was no paper scrolls or maps spread across it like all the others.
“We should all eat breakfast together. Do Hui Yue di-di have any chores today?” she asked with a gentle smile while looking at Hui Yue who shook his head in reply, quite grateful that Rong Xing had come to his aid.
“That is great, let’s all spend the day together then,” she continued with another gentle and uncaring smile while setting the table with various foods Hui Yue had never seen before.
Hui Yue threw a glance at Rong Xing. She was an outstanding young woman. Hui Yue only saw her once during the first year that Lord Rong Liang led the entourage to their village, and she had usually stayed within the camp to cultivate the other times they had visited, so Hui Yue never had the time to really evaluate her.
At first Hui Yue had just assumed that she was the typical shy and noble girl with an above average innate talent for cultivating, but these two days he had noticed a maturity around her that could rival the women he usually hung out with in his old life.
Rong Xing seemed calm and collected, and the only time Hui Yue had seen her slightly flustered was when she had stumbled upon him in his birthday suit the previous night.
Hui Yue had to admit that Rong Xing was mysterious. Not only was she much more mature than what you would expect, she also seemed to enjoy stirring trouble. It was obvious that she knew of her brother’s misunderstanding, however she had not commented upon it before Hui Yue himself brought up the subject.
Hui Yue even remembered the slight flash of disappointment he had noticed in her eyes when she realised that the misunderstanding was being cleared up.
It was obvious that Rong Xing was a girl that enjoyed watching others struggle in one way or another while comfortably watching at the side-line, however Hui Yue could not feel any hostility towards her as she was swift in supporting him, when she thought that Hui Yue was overwhelmed with the situation.
All in all, Hui Yue had a very good impression of the two twins. Rong Ming was straight forward and cheerful while Rong Xing was mysterious and gentle. Both of them had proved reliable and caring.
The four of them where quietly eating their breakfast together while talking gently about what had happened during the last year at the academy and the village respectively. Bu Huang couldn’t help but feeling slightly awkward next to the three children, who had caused such a scene early in the morning, so he ate in silence while observing the white haired child that had been the cause.
Lord Rong Liang had previously informed him that there was something different about the child that even Lord Rong Liang was unable to explain. He had, however, previously confirmed that Hui Yue was a human and not a divine beast in the shape of a human, but even if the body belonged to a human, there was something about his aura that could scare magical beasts, even those of a fairly high rank.
Although Lord Rong Liang was curious about this child, he was still reasonable and since it had been confirmed that he was human, he had no intention of troubling the young child. Lord Rong Liang had however asked Bu Huang to have a look at him if they were to meet, and Bu Huang decided to use this opportunity to do so.
As Bu Huang looked at the younger boy he furrowed his brows slightly,
“You cultivate?” he asked the young boy with a neutral voice, and Hui Yue looked at him with big eyes,
“yes lord Bu Huang,” Hui Yue said fearfully, “The young master taught me some methods last year and I have tried my best to follow them while looking after the goats,” he said faintly, the more he said the quieter his voice became. He was the personification of a scared child, and if Lan Feng did not have to hide, then he would definitely have commented on the brilliant acting.
“Uncle Bu,” Rong Ming asked with shining eyes, “what is his cultivation like? Is it any good?” Rong Ming and Rong Xing were still not strong enough to recognize another person’s cultivation, so they were relying on the elder to help them,
Bu Huang looked at Hui Yue for a moment, and the latter could feel his heartbeat increase rapidly. Hopefully Lan Feng was hiding really good, or the two of them would have quite some problems.
Bu Huang could feel that Hui Yue’s body was hiding something, but he was incapable of seeing through what it was. Lord Rong Liang himself had decided not to spend too much time on analysing this mystery as of now, so Bu Huang did not feel like he needed to look into it either, and instead focused on the cultivation base and raised an eyebrow in surprise.
“He is a third star student. It is not bad for a year,” the older man said appraisingly. For a seven-year-old to have reached the third star was not bad, especially not if he had started to cultivate by the age of six.
“His talent does not seem to be as high as the two of you, but it is definitely not bad,” Bu Huang continued. With this speed it was certain that Hui Yue would reach the required five stars by the age of ten to be considered above average.
Hui Yue had to agree with Bu Huang. He would most likely reach the five-star student rank by the age of ten, but the reason his speed was this slow was due to his cultivation method.
Hearing this caused both Rong Ming and Rong Xing to smile happily as that would make it possible for the three of them to be together at the Royal Academy.
Rong Ming instantly shot up from his chair and yelled “stay there!” before rushing out of the tent. The three people who were left behind in the tent could hear the commotion that was caused by the little lord rushing through the busy campsite.
Hui Yue looked blankly after the running young boy and the amount of guards who were being pushed aside on the way towards a smaller tent where he ducked below the entrance flap. The tent-wall was being pushed randomly and weird sounds were emitted from the inside of the tent, before Rong Ming once again ducked back outside and ran back to the central tent with his arms filled with unknown scrolls that he quickly dumped on a clean part of the table.
“These are martial art skills,” Rong Ming said with his eyes shining with excitement, “they are all quite low level, the highest is practitioner low rank. They are just copies of some skills we have at home.”
Hui Yue looked at the pile of scrolls with shining eyes, and although he was slightly conflicted due to the promise he made with Lan Feng, he could not help but feel some curiosity towards the skill rolls in front of him.
“We will try and explain to you what martial art skills are within this month,” Rong Xing said with her melodious voice, “and then you can try training them before we return next year.” Hui Yue nodded with no voice, although he was not certain whether or not he would actually get to use these scrolls, he was still overwhelmed with the amount of care the twins showed him.