OMF V3C12 Becoming A Fringe Disciple

The room was plunged into silence. Both Niu Hai and Yue Lin seemed lost.
“What do you mean?”, Yue Lin asked after a while and frowned. He must have heard wrong.
“I said I don’t know how to read.” Jing Yi lowered his head. Yes, even after spending five years as an outer sect disciple of the Yun Zou Sect and another year of traveling with Qiu Ling he still hadn’t learned how to read and write. He felt lacking. These Senior Martial Brothers would probably think of him as an annoyance now.
Yue Lin slumped down in front of his desk. “Then how am I supposed to do all of this?!” He shoved the scrolls aside and threw a book at Niu Hai. “There, you register him and show him around. I’m going back to sleep.” He put his head on the table again and closed his eyes.
Niu Hai stared at the book in his hands then at Yue Lin. “Heh! Senior Yue! You can’t do this! How am I supposed to show him around? I don’t even know anything about this place!” He kicked the table but Yue Lin had already gone back to sleep and didn’t wake up.
Niu Hai turned around to Jing Yi and smiled sheepishly. “Well, I guess we’ll just sign you up then?”
“Oh, alright.” Jing Yi nodded but took another look at Yue Lin. That Senior Martial Brother hadn’t seemed like he cared much. But he should probably try to learn how to read and write. Maybe Qiu Ling could teach him?
Niu Hai thumbed through the book with a frown. He was just a normal official disciple. How should he know how a new disciple was registered? I guess you’d just have to write down his name somewhere? He opened the site that had last been written on and picked up Yue Lin’s brush. “Uh … How do you write your name?”
“I’m also not sure but it’s Jing as in spirit and …”
Niu Hai wrote down the character and nodded. Jing Yi stopped, though. It was Yi as in righteousness. But now he wasn’t Jing Yi. He was supposed to be called Jing He. How should he know what that name actually meant? He thought of that graceful figure in the blue robe. Someone like him had probably been gifted with a really elegant name. “And … and He as in waterlily.”
Niu Hai looked up, his gaze strange. “Waterlily? Are you sure about that?”
“Mn.” Jing Yi nodded but lowered his gaze. He hadn’t said anything wrong, had he?
“Oh. Alright. Well, it suits you.” He frowned when he wrote the name, though. Wasn’t that a name you’d give to a girl? Well, he couldn’t read so maybe he had gotten the character wrong or his parents hadn’t known either and had actually called him that. Poor boy. Maybe it was better that he couldn’t read.
Jing Yi was still mulling over the name of that person and didn’t notice the peculiar gaze directed at him.
“Alright.” Niu Hai closed the book and put it down next to Yue Lin’s head, placing the brush on top. “Now you’re officially a disciple of the Alchemy division. You should keep at the back of your mind that you’re only a fringe disciple for now, though. If and when you can become an official disciple or even a direct disciple will depend on your own effort.”
Jing Yi frowned and follow Niu Hai out of the study. “Senior Martial Brother, I’m afraid I don’t really understand. I thought there were only the different divisions and no other distinction between disciples?”
Niu Hai laughed and once again looped his arm around Jing Yi’s shoulder. “Ah, Junior Martial Brother, you still have a lot to learn. Naturally, it’s not that easy. Otherwise, people wouldn’t put in any work, would they?”
Jing Yi didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t believe that somebody would slack off just because he got a higher status. Even in the Yun Zou Sect, the inner sect disciples had to work hard. Wouldn’t the other disciples leave them behind if they didn’t? And what about something like the Gathering of Practitioners? How would they perform if they didn’t take their practice or their cultivation seriously? He couldn’t believe that their status would change anything about that.
“Well, you’re probably different.” Niu Hai pulled him closer and smiled. It was obvious that he had some other intention but what could Jing Yi do?
He smiled wryly and refrained from responding. He’d have to search for a new opportunity to get away from this guy. Really, he probably should have listened to Qiu Ling and stayed in the house Elder Shan had brought them to yesterday. Then again, he wouldn’t have found out about Hong Ai and Grandmaster Shen if he hadn’t met Niu Hai. He could probably endure spending a bit of time with him. He just had to make sure this guy didn’t go overboard.
“Come with me. I’ll explain everything to you.” Niu Hai wanted to pull Jing Yi along but this time, the cute little Junior Martial Brother actually tensed up and didn’t want to go.
“Senior Martial Brother Niu, since I’m part of the Alchemy division now I should probably familiarize myself with this place first.”
“Oh, but I can’t show you around.”
Jing Yi lowered his gaze. It would be for the best if Niu Hai himself realized that he should leave him alone.
“How about this? You come with me to our division first and I’ll explain everything. When we come back Senior Martial Brother Yue will certainly be awake again. Then he can show us around.”
Jing Yi grimaced. Us? And what kind of suggestion was this? “Wouldn’t it be better to wait here for another disciple of the Alchemy division? Senior Martial Brother Yue seemed quite busy.”
“That’s true.” Niu Hai sighed. It seemed he couldn’t make this Junior Martial Brother leave with him. What a pity! “Then let’s sit down together, alright?” He pulled Jing Yi over to a stone bench and sat down next to him, holding his hand. There was a gentle smile on his lips that made Jing Yi shudder. Unfortunately, that only seemed to further Niu Hai’s interest. “Junior Martial Brother, are you feeling cold?”
Jing Yi smiled wryly. This time, he really, really hoped that his fiance would turn up and make a scene. That way, he would probably be exempt from any further advances.

Author’s note:

Names in Chinese can be either male or female since they are just words you’d encounter in the normal language, too. But the name would be given depending on the meaning so something like “waterlily” would be more likely to be considered a feminine name.
The actual meaning of Jing He’s name consists of the characters for spirit, “精”, and harmony, “和” (instead of “荷” for waterlily). The Jing in Jing Yi’s name is the one meaning spirit, too, while the Yi is “义” for righteousness. The Yi could also be written as “怡” which would mean harmony, too, just like the He in Jing He’s name.

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