“It sounds like Alchemy is really helpful.”
Nian Hai nodded even though he still felt a bit sad that he couldn’t get this newcomer to join his division. Well, they also worked together with the alchemists a lot so he would be able to see him. “True. Our other divisions actually rely on them a lot. Who doesn’t want to know somebody who can help you win your fights?
“Speaking of which, because of that, it’s actually not bad at all to be an Alchemist. People of other divisions will usually help you if there’s something you need because they hope that you’ll help them in return one day. So it’s best to find a few people you are comfortable with and then rely on each other.” Nian Hai smiled brightly, his whole expression screaming ‘pick me!’.
Jing Yi gave a non-committal smile. “Thank you for the reminder, senior martial brother Nian. I’ll definitely keep it in mind.” He didn’t say more to it though. In any case, he wouldn’t stay here so he shouldn’t rely on Nian Hai too much. As for the time after that, he was sure that with Qiu Ling around, he did not have to worry.
Nian Hai pursed his lips but then didn’t say anything. He figured that Jing Yi might just not be able to understand yet because he hadn’t even seen all of the division yet and didn’t know how everything worked. After he was registered as a disciple and got all the instructions, he would probably come back to talk to him about it. Mn, yes, that had to be it.
Nian Hai reassured himself and then went on with his explanations to further his chances. “Well, we were talking about the branches before. Other than those I mentioned before, there’s also the Poison Alchemy and —” Nian Hai stopped when he noticed that Jing Yi’s gaze had turned a little strange. “What is it?”
“Uh … Nothing.” Jing Yi hurriedly turned away. Right. He had almost forgotten that he was in an evil sect. Of course, there would be some Alchemy branch for poisons. How could it be any different?
Nian Hai didn’t really know what to make of this but, finally, he just shrugged his shoulders. Anyway, there was still time for this later. He nodded to the building ahead of them before turning back to Jing Yi. “It’s here. Let’s go right in. You can register to become a disciple of this branch and then basically just start.”
Jing Yi nodded and followed him inside. He didn’t know what he had expected but he was a little disappointed when he saw the hall before him. There was nothing that seemed like it had to do with alchemy, only the same things you might have expected in a hall that was used to receive guests in any other building as well.
Nian Hai didn’t notice his disappointment and just led Jing Yi to a door at the side. Looking into the room on the other side, he called out. “Hey, anyone there? I brought a new disciple over!”
Jing Yi curiously leaned to the side and peeked past him. The room seemed to be a study, an extremely messy study. Books piled up until they formed stacks that were high enough to reach his hips, paper scrolls covered the table on the other side of the room and some had even fallen down and were rolling over the floor.
Jing Yi’s brows rose. This definitely wasn’t what he would have expected but at least it looked different from the study a normal house would probably have. Actually, the only studies he had ever seen were that of his uncle and of Shao Hai’s father so he probably couldn’t judge how normal this one was.
“Uh … senior martial brother Yue?” Nian Hai cautiously tiptoed to the other side of the room and reached into the pile of scrolls. “Senior martial brother? Senior martial brother!”
A hand shot out of the pile and accurately grabbed Nian Hai’s collar. “Who is it?! How dare you trespass onto the Alchemy division’s grounds?!” The voice was distorted and sounded more like that of a demon than the voice of a human being.
Jing Yi jumped back and hugged the door frame. What was this? Maybe he didn’t want to become part of the alchemy division after all!
Nian Hai tried to pry the hand off his collar but just when he succeeded, the hand grabbed his throat instead. His face started to turn red from the strain. “Senior martial brother Yue …”
Jing Yi watched on with dread. Shouldn’t alchemists be more peaceful? Why was that person under the scrolls trying to strangle someone to death?
“Fire! The gardens … caught on fire!”
“What?!” The hand let go and a head jerked up from the table, scattering the scrolls everywhere.
Jing Yi stared at the one that emerged in a daze. Only half his hair was still secured on top of his head, the other half was sticking out in all directions. His face didn’t look much better: There were red lines running across his skin and some ink stains on the right side while a literate person could have read some sentences on his left cheek. He looked more like a ghost. Or even if he was human, he should be a complete lunatic.
The lunatic leaped to his feet, ignored Nian Hai, and ran to the door. He grasped Jing Yi by the shoulder and stared into his eyes. “Where’s the fire?”
Jing Yi looked back, his own eyes wide. That senior martial brother’s eyes were completely bloodshot and there were dark circles beneath them. He probably hadn’t slept for a couple of nights. No wonder he tried to strangle the person who woke him up.
“I … I haven’t seen any.”
“Hah? What do you mean you haven’t seen any?” The lunatic’s expression darkened.
In the meantime, Nian Hai had finally made his way back over. Breathing heavily he grabbed Yue Lin’s shoulder and pulled him back. “Heh, senior martial brother, calm down. I was just trying to wake you up. Nothing’s burning. That’s Jing He. He wants to join you alchemists.” His expression clearly said that he still didn’t think of that as a good idea and was only begrudgingly allowing it to happen.
Jing Yi gulped. He also wasn’t sure anymore if that idea had been a good one. Maybe he should really have joined the practitioners in the division of blades?
Yue Lin blinked and tried to take in Jing Yi’s appearance. His eyes weren’t really focused though. After a minute of futile effort, his brows slowly rose and he seemed to wake up a bit more. “Eh, little junior martial brother, you sure look like a hardworking person.”
“Uh … Thank you, senior martial brother Yue.” Jing Yi lowered his head. Somehow, this man’s gaze made him shudder.
“Mn. How about … you help me out a bit as your first assignment?” He didn’t wait for an answer before he clutched Jing Yi’s hand and pulled him over to the desk. “Look at this. We have to work through all those scrolls.”
Jing Yi looked up at him and pressed his lips together. “Senior martial brother, I …”
“It’s alright, it’s alright!” Yue Lin blinked and tried to look less emaciated and more spirited. Unfortunately, he only managed to look even more like a madman. “You’ll see that it’s not that hard. And with the two of us, we’ll be done in no time!”
“No, that’s not it. Senior martial brother, I don’t know how to read.” He looked at the characters on Yue Lin’s cheek. To him, they were still only fancy decorations. Some misplaced fancy decorations.