Elder Baili cleared his throat and then started to recount his first encounter with Luo Lin: “It was a very cold morning in winter. The sun was glittering on the snow that covered the ground and your Master’s breath drifted up into the air in white clouds.
“I had left the Teng Yong Sect a few weeks ago on orders of our Sect Master to investigate some suspicious activities in the south and was just on my way back. Walking down the road, I noticed a youth sitting below a bare tree. His body was wrapped in a brightly-colored red robe that seemed to glow like a drop of blood among the snow.”
Yun Bei Fen’s eyes glittered when he heard that. “Third senior martial brother sounds really pretty!”
Baili Chao who was pulled out of telling the story before he had even gotten to their actual encounter gave his little disciple a resigned look and sighed. “Yes, yes, you’re right. He was. Anyway: I could not help but wonder what this child was doing out there when it was so cold.”
Yun Bei Fen tugged at his Master’s sleeve.
Elder Baili could only sigh again. “What is it, Fen’er?”
“How old was third senior martial brother back then? You called him a child just now.”
“He … he was a bit older. It might be more accurate to call him a youth but anyway, he hadn’t come of age yet so I don’t think it’s wrong to call him a child. Now, as for what happened next … Since I had noticed I did not feel it right to just leave him be and instead went over to ask what had happened.”
“What did he say?”
Elder Baili rubbed his disciple’s head. “You! If you just let me tell the story, you might already know by now!”
“Oh.” Yun Bei Fen hung his head and tried to listen intently.
His Master once again cleared his throat to try to get back into story-telling mode. “So I asked this youth what his name was and he told me that it was Luo Lin with the ‘Lin’ being the one used for fine jade.”
Yun Bei Fen who had been very sure that he would be able to keep quiet, couldn’t help but exclaim at that. “That sounds really fitting for third senior martial brother!”
“Mn.” His Master nodded and didn’t even bother trying to tell him to keep quiet until he finished. This boy wouldn’t learn anyway. “When I asked him why he was outside in this cold weather, he motioned to the house and said that his mother had told him to wait here.
“I could not help but be surprised. The house wasn’t small. Even if there were guests who would not like to have the child around, there would be no reason to send him out there instead of to another room. It seemed inexplicable to me.
“Since I had found him in that situation, I couldn’t help but want to get to the bottom of this so I handed him a small, spiritual jade that would be able to warm him in this weather and then went over to the house.
“Approaching the door, I heard …” Elder Baili stopped himself this time and glanced at his little disciple. There was no way he would repeat the words he had heard that day in front of him.
He cleared his throat, more of embarrassment this time, and gave a wry smile. “Well, his mother did not seem to be of sound mind. Hearing her talk about her delusions in there, I could not help but think that this child of her would not have a good life at her side. Thus, I decided to approach her and her husband and ask if they would mind me taking the child in as my disciple.”
“Oh! So it was like this! His parents must have been very happy!”
Baili Chao looked at his little disciple’s happy expression and awkwardly nodded. “Yes … yes, they were certainly very happy. Anyway, that day, I took your third senior martial brother away from there and brought him back to the sect. Since then he has been staying with us. It’s much better than with his family.” He reached out again and rubbed Yun Bei Fen’s head. “Sometimes, it’s better to find a new family instead of relying on your old one.” And it seemed he had a knack for picking up disciples like that.