The room was plunged into silence. Both Nian Hai and Yue Lin seemed lost.
“What do you mean?” Yue Lin couldn’t help but try to clarify after staying silent for a while, his brows furrowed tightly. He must have heard wrong.
“I said I don’t know how to read.” Jing Yi lowered his head. He had spent five years as an outer sect disciple of the Yun Zou Sect and another year traveling with Qiu Ling but he still hadn’t learned it. He felt sorely lacking when thinking about it. 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?!” Of course, none of the disciples already in the sect that had seen how much work his job was would be willing to help. This kind of newcomer was his only hope! Well, that hope had been dashed completely.
Yue Lin shoved the scrolls aside and threw a book at Nian 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.
Nian Hai stared at the book in his hands, then at Yue Lin. “Heh! Senior martial brother 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 fallen asleep again and didn’t seem like he would wake up anytime soon.
Nian 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. Not only might it come in handy for this mission but it would also be good for himself. Maybe Qiu Ling could teach him?
Nian 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? You’d probably just have to write down his name somewhere? He opened the page 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 …”
Nian Hai wrote down the character and nodded. Jing Yi stopped though. It was Yi as in righteousness. That was what his parents had told him. 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.”
Nian 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.” Nian Hai frowned when he wrote the name though. Wasn’t that a name you’d give to a girl? Well, Jing 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 wasn’t literate.
Jing Yi was still mulling over the name of that person and didn’t notice the peculiar gaze directed at him.
“Alright.” Nian 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 have to keep in mind that you’re only a fringe disciple for now. Whether you can become an official disciple or even a direct disciple later on will depend on your own effort.”
Jing Yi frowned and followed Nian Hai out of the study. “Senior martial brother Nian, I’m afraid I don’t really understand. I thought there were only the different divisions with their subdivisions and no other distinction between disciples?”
Nian 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 they 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.” Nian Hai pulled him closer and smiled. It was obvious that he had some other intentions 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 shown them to yesterday. Then again, he wouldn’t have found out about Hong Ai and Grandmaster Shen if he hadn’t met Nian Hai. He could probably endure spending a bit of time with him. He just had to make sure this guy didn’t go overboard. If Qiu Ling saw something like this happen … Ah, he didn’t even want to think about it.
“Come with me. I’ll explain everything to you.” Nian 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 Nian, 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 Nian 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.” Nian 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 Nian Hai’s interest. “Junior martial brother Jing, are you feeling cold?”
Jing Yi smiled wryly. This time, he wasn’t quite sure if he should hope that his fiance would turn up so that he would be safe from any further advances or if he should be worried that the scene Qiu Ling would make would be so big that it completely ruined their mission. It really was hard to say.