Jing Yi observed the man that was weaving through the crowd on the other side of the street. His long black hair danced in the wind and the sleeves and hem of his white robe swayed lightly with every step he took. There was a pleasant smile on his lips and the rest of his features was nice to look at too.
Jing Yi’s eyes sparkled and dashed out of the teahouse without anyone noticing.
The man had passed by the people who had gathered in front of the teahouse when someone tugged at his sleeve. He turned around but nobody could be seen. The man raised his brows in surprise. Who would dare play such a trick on him?
He turned back but another tug followed. The man halted in surprise. This wouldn’t be some playful lady that always ducked out of sight when he turned?
“Big brother!” Jing Yi tugged at the white sleeve again.
The man lowered his gaze. A young boy of barely ten years stood next to him and watched him curiously. He must have been hidden by the masses before. “Oh?” The man crouched down and smiled. “Now, who’s this?”
“I’m Jing Yi!”
“Which Jing, which Yi?”
Jing Yi blinked, not comprehending what the man was talking about. The man laughed and ruffled his hair.
“Never mind. Did you need my help?”
Jing Yi shook his head.
“No? But you were tugging at my sleeve, weren’t you?”
“Mn.” Jing Yi nodded.
The man couldn’t help but smile wider. He lifted his hands and pinched Jing Yi’s cheeks. “What a cute child you are! So what was it you wanted from big brother?”
“Can I ask you something?”
“Sure, sure! Go ahead!”
Jing Yi examined the handsome face and the white robe with the long, flowing sleeves and the hem hovering half an inch above the ground. Finally, he looked up at the man’s eyes again. “Big brother, are you a hero?”
The man laughed. “A hero? Mn, that might depend on what a hero is.”
Jing Yi looked at him and his white robe thoughtfully. “Uncle Shao said all cultivators are heroes.”
“Oh? Then I’m definitely a hero! See here?” He pointed at the pattern embroidered at the hem of his sleeve. “All of the disciples of our Yun Zou Sect wear such a robe. Have you heard of us?”
Jing Yi shook his head and grabbed onto the man’s sleeve to examine the pattern. It looked like … a row of blue clouds? Jing Yi directed a puzzled gaze at the man’s face.
“What is it?”
“Why are there clouds on your robe?”
The man pointed up at the sky. “It’s because if you are cultivating in our sect you’ll someday be strong enough to walk on the clouds in the sky and maybe you’ll even manage to ascend to Heaven.”
Jing Yi’s eyes widened. Walking on clouds? Ascending to Heaven? That sounded like something a hero would do! “Then, can I become a hero too?”
The man laughed and ruffled his hair again. “You mean you want to enter the sect and become a cultivator? Sure, why not! In fact, you’re really lucky. I and some martial brothers and sisters came to the capital this time to search for new recruits. You just have to take the test on the market square. If you’re suitable you can follow us to the sect right after and start your journey to become a cultivator!”
Jing Yi gripped the man’s hand. “Then let’s go!”
“Haha, alright!” The man stood up and led the way to the marketplace.
Indeed, quite a few men and women dressed in the same sort of robe stood there. They turned around when the man approached with Jing Yi in hand. “Senior martial brother!”
“Look at who I’ve brought! This little dumpling here says he wants to become a hero just like me!” He laughed again and the women hurried over.
“Aw! What a cute little boy! What’s your name?”
“Which Jing? Which Yi?”
Jing Yi looked up at the laughing man who patted his head in return. “He doesn’t know. Let’s see where his parents are later and ask them.”
“Mn!” The women didn’t mind and started to fawn over Jing Yi instead, patting his head and pinching his cheeks, all the while mumbling that they definitely had to take such an obedient child home with them! He hadn’t complained even once after they started!
“Alright, alright, enough of that!” The man pulled Jing Yi out of his junior martial sisters’ hands and pointed at something on the ground. “See that there? You know, my junior martial sisters really love drawing! Whenever the sect sends them out to search for new recruits they just have to draw these strange circles and get people to stand inside. They’re really playful, aren’t they?”
Jing Yi looked at the circles, then at the junior martial sisters and finally at the man himself. Then he nodded. The women couldn’t help laughing again and scuffled closer to pat his head once more.
“Such a cute child! We definitely have to take him home, senior martial brother Wu!”
Their senior martial brother gave a noncommittal grunt and led Jing Yi over to the drawing. Of course, it wasn’t just a drawing but a formation that was used to test the children for their suitability. If a child with spirit veins stepped into the circles in the middle of the big circle, the lines would light up. It was an easy way to see if these children had any aptitude for cultivation at all. How good it actually was would be further tested at the sect.
The man gently pushed Jing Yi into the formation. The lines … they really lit up!
The junior martial sisters cheered and ran over to pat Jing Yi’s head again. “Look at this! Such a good child! We’re definitely taking you home with us to the sect.”
Jing Yi wasn’t that sure he should trust them. They weren’t at the age where he would be afraid of them but uncle Shao hadn’t said that women could be heroes too. At the very least, that senior martial brother Wu was more handsome.
The man smiled and ruffled his hair. “You’re really lucky. You actually have the aptitude to become a cultivator. Let’s go ask your parents if it’s alright.” The man hadn’t forgotten that Jing Yi walked up to him all alone. They couldn’t just take the child without telling the family, could they? “Where are they?”
“Mommy’s at the teahouse.” Jing Yi smiled, grabbed the man’s hand and pulled him toward the teahouse.
By now, Madam Zhong, Ai Hua and her son Xiao Dong, as well as Qiang Wei and Fu Min who had come out of hiding, had all noticed that Jing Yi had gone missing. Of course, they first suspected Li Bo who had scrambled away as fast as he could. That guy was despicable enough to do something like this so all of them were relieved when they saw a man in a white robe bring Jing Yi back.
The man smiled when Jing Yi led him to his mother. “Madam, I am Wu Min Huan, a disciple of the Yun Zou Sect. Just now, we were testing children for their aptitude in cultivation at the market square and we noticed that your son Jing Yi would be suitable to become a cultivator. Would you mind if we took him in as a disciple?”
Madam Zhong furrowed her brow. How come someone wanted to take away her son again after she had let him out of sight for just a second?
The man hurried to explain when he saw the reluctance in her eyes. “You might not have heard anything about us before.” Normally, people would be thrilled about hearing his previous words. Since she wasn’t this should mean that they weren’t from the capital originally and didn’t know about the Yun Zou Sect. “The Yun Zou sect is one of the ten big sects, suitable for both cultivators and practitioners. Becoming an inner sect disciple almost guarantees someone to become a Daoist Immortal. Following us would be beneficial to your son.”
Madam Zhong looked at her son and sighed. Contrary to the man’s thoughts she knew. She knew fully well since the Yun Zou Sect was the one Madam Qiguan’s son Qiguan Cheng Da had gone to. His mother had never grown tired of bragging about how her son became the disciple of such a great sect. Unfortunately, she also knew that she wouldn’t see Jing Yi for years if she let him go now.
She patted her son’s head and sighed again. After losing her husband, she didn’t want to lose her son too. But she had seen how bad things could get and she still suspected that Jing Yi’s fate might be full of such bad luck.
Becoming a cultivator … Maybe that way he might gain the strength to overcome this fate. Then he wouldn’t be subjected to all the suffering Heaven might have in store for him. Neither would he be in need of somebody else’s help. He would be able to help himself.
Madam Zhong forced a smile and hugged her son. “Alright. If you want to become a cultivator, then go ahead. Mommy will always support you in whatever you decide to do.”
Thus began Jing Yi’s journey of cultivation.
When the Fate’s Scribe Shun Tao finally dared to look at Jing He’s scroll of fate again and saw this sentence written there he had only one thing to say: “Shit!”
He scrambled to his feet, ran out of his study and over to the Heavenly Emperor’s palace. Fate had just started to move in the right direction. Why did it get worse all of a sudden?! If that mortal boy really became a cultivator and managed to ascend as a deity, wouldn’t that mean that the trial he had passed became useless? They’d still lose their crown prince forever!