The Elder they saw when the disciple opened the door looked exactly like his voice had seemed: old, almost ancient. At first glance, he was nothing more than a patch of black and white.
Jing Yi blinked and it turned out that the Elder was wearing a dark robe and that his hair and his skin were nearly as pale as tofu. This was probably what happened if you lived inside a mountain for too long where the sunlight couldn’t reach. Jing Yi gripped Qiu Ling’s sleeve. Somehow, he felt a little afraid of this Elder.
Qiu Ling reached over and caressed the back of Jing Yi’s hand. His eyes stayed on the Elder in front of them though. Mn, that guy was sufficiently talented for a mortal. But this kind of face … Just looking at it for a while, Qiu Ling wanted to lock himself into a room and do something for his skin. How did all those wrinkles even find enough space on his face? It seemed like they were growing across each other!
Elder Shan glanced at Jing Yi before focusing on Qiu Ling. The two men stared at each other, none of them saying a word.
Qiu Ling watched with amazement how another wrinkle seemed to grow right in front of him. In reality that was just the Elder frowning because he felt disturbed by Qiu Ling’s unwavering gaze.
“Young man. Is there something you want to say?”
Jing Yi hugged Qiu Ling’s arm closer at the raspy voice. It seemed to come straight out of a nightmare. Would all people in the demonic sect be this terrifying? He wasn’t sure if he would be able to find out anything in that case. He might not dare talk to them!
Originally, Qiu Ling had felt some pity for this man and thought of sharing a bit of free advice on how to maintain his skin better. When he felt that Jing Yi didn’t like this person’s company he dropped that thought like a burning stick though. “We came to become disciples.”
Elder Shan looked at the disciple that was waiting at the door. The young man nodded. That was indeed what they had said when they came over. Elder Shan turned back toward Qiu Ling and Jing Yi. “He’s at the seed stage only. And you …” He frowned even more, his wrinkles deepening further.
Qiu Ling’s hands twitched. He really wanted to touch his own face to make sure it was alright. This type of aging wasn’t contagious, was it?
Jing Yi had no idea what was going on in Qiu Ling’s head but he could feel that his fiance was getting nervous himself. It did nothing to calm him down. When had he ever seen Qiu Ling in a nervous mood?
Sure, he had seen him serious and restless and clingy and a lot of other things but as far as he could remember, he had never seen him nervous. He couldn’t understand why he would need to be either. Qiu Ling was a practitioner and a cultivator, someone that had advantages over both groups and he wasn’t weak. It shouldn’t be a problem to deal with this Elder, should it?
With a troubled gaze, he looked at Qiu Ling. He couldn’t ask now. He could only hold it in and hope that Qiu Ling would find a way out of this.
Qiu Ling pressed his lips together and shoved the thought of those wrinkles aside for now. “What’s with me? You need a demonstration?” Ah, this was just like six years ago when he wanted to be taken in by the Yun Zou Sect. Why was it so hard for a dragon to be admitted into a human sect?
The Elder drew his brows together. He couldn’t sense Qiu Ling’s cultivation. That left three possibilities: This young man in front of him was a practitioner and not a cultivator, he hadn’t started cultivating yet or he had such a high cultivation base that he was unable to perceive it. The latter wasn’t likely considering his age and his attitude suggested that he should be a talent instead of a good-for-nothing.
“You’re a practitioner?”
“Then, yes, please demonstrate a bit.”
Qiu Ling had a look around. Could he smash something again? But there wasn’t anything ugly. He suddenly halted and took a measuring glance at the Elder. Well, there was that face but the poor man didn’t deserve to lose his head just because he hadn’t taken enough care of his skin. He was already punished by having to live with this appearance.
When Qiu Ling finally turned around and led Jing Yi out of the house the Elder shuddered. Somehow he had felt a sense of dread right now when that young man had looked at him. This was stupid. Why was he feeling so pressured? What could this boy —
Just then, Qiu Ling turned around to Jing Yi, pecked his lips, and then distanced himself a few steps. He whipped out his sword and with a careless swing the tree next to Elder Shan’s house fell down and the wall behind it crumbled.
The Elder gulped. Oh. It seemed he had underestimated these two. Or, no, he had underestimated this young man. The youth next to him seemed quite normal. Actually, that might even be an overstatement. He seemed like he was sixteen or seventeen years old but he was only in the seed stage. Even though it seemed like he’d break through soon that wasn’t much. He didn’t have much talent for cultivation. The reason he had come here nonetheless … one would need to be blind, deaf, and stupid to miss it.
While the Elder analyzed the situation Qiu Ling had already sheathed his sword again and hurried back to Jing Yi’s side. His eyes gleamed and there was a beautiful smile on his lips. He was so obviously asking for praise that Jing Yi couldn’t help but give in despite the situation.
He reached over and lightly gripped Qiu Ling’s shoulders. Even though he had grown taller in the last year he was still shorter than his fiance. He tiptoed and gently pecked Qiu Ling’s lips. “You did well.”
“Mn.” Qiu Ling hugged him. Ah, if he had known that so many good things would happen on this mission, he wouldn’t have made such a fuss about it. Thinking about that … Qiu Ling swiveled around to the Elder. “Elder, are we accepted, or do you need another demonstration?”
“No, that should be —”
Qiu Ling’s sword struck again and felled the tree on the other side before the Elder had time to say ‘enough of a demonstration’. Elder Shan closed his eyes and repressed a sigh.
“Alright. You’re accepted.”
“Then where is our room?”
It was so obvious what Qiu Ling was thinking that Elder Shan didn’t bother to say anything more. He waved the disciple back to his post and then turned around. “Follow me. I’ll bring you there.” Then, he hurried to one of the better dwellings in the inner sect. Even though he was a cultivator he could still recognize that this young man was especially talented. They had to treat him well.
“Here we are,” he started to introduce the place.
“Thanks, Elder!” The words had barely reached his ears when the door was shut in his face and a thud could be heard from the other side.
Elder Shan stared at the door in a daze before he hurriedly turned around and left. There was no need to know what exactly those two were doing. He’d better go and tell the Grandmaster that they had gotten a new talent.
Thus, Qiu Ling and Jing Yi were left alone.