Truth be told, when Xiao Dong returned but Jing Yi didn’t follow even after several days, he felt a little helpless. It wasn’t that he wasn’t used to doing all of this alone but he had really hoped for things to be a bit easier even if it was only for a few days. And while Xiao Dong could help with sorting some preliminary stuff, he wasn’t as big of a help as Jing Yi would have been whom he had taught how to do the bookkeeping when he was younger.
Now though, he reconsidered that stance. Jing Yi might not have come to the sect to help him out but he had done something infinitely more valuable for him: He had let a person know who genuinely cared about this matter and had the power to change how things were done for good. Yes, only at this moment did Yue Lin realize that his days of slaving away in the study might truly be over.
Well, the days of slaving away on behalf of his Master that was. From now on, he would be able to sit down with a book on alchemy, study recipes, do experiments, and further his education just as any other disciple. Thinking of this, his eyes lit up.
He turned to the Grandmaster while Niu Hai went off to find Xiao Dong and cupped his fists, bowing deeply. “Thank you for your help, Grandmaster Shen. This … this situation had been going on for a long time and I wouldn’t have known who to tell with this coming from my own Master after all. I really owe you.”
Shen An De shook his head. “No. This is how it should be so don’t think too much. Also, should anything similar happen to you in the future or should you notice that they are trying to do this to another disciple, you can come to me. Don’t feel like you are making trouble or failing your Master.
“The Elders of the sect get a lot of benefits but in return, they are expected to take over some tasks. If they don’t do that, how can they expect to still benefit from the sect in the way they did? Your Master and the other Elders of the division can count themselves lucky that I didn’t suggest for them to cough up all the materials they wrongfully gained by pretending to have done these tasks themselves.”
Yue Lin’s eyes widened. He hadn’t thought about it before because, frankly, he was overly tired still and everything had also gone much too quick for him to catch on. But now that the Grandmaster spelled it out like this, he realized that the Elders had indeed gotten off cheaply.
Yes, some of the resources he would receive in the future would come from them. But compared to what they owed both him personally and the sect in general, that really wasn’t much. After all, the notes they were supposed to give him would only be copies and not originals. They didn’t lose anything with that. The fine wouldn’t be large for each individual Elder and only seem big when everything was put together.
The main part for them was likely the resources he would be able to receive for the awarded merit points but only a part of that was herbs actually grown by the Elders. Many others had been brought back by disciples who went out on missions as well. After all, there were the mission objectives and you could also gain additional merit points by providing the sect with resources or exchange resources directly for something that was worth just as much. So yes, the Elders were actually getting off lightly for all the work they had made him do.
Shen An De smiled when he saw that Yue Lin finally got it. “You see, there is nothing to feel bad about. You should take the next few days to think about what you really want to have: Specific herbs to experiment with? New utensils for the refinement process? More books to guide you through the hurdles you face?
“You can ask for any of that and it’ll be in your right. This is what the sect owes you so don’t be shy about it. In fact, if I didn’t know that it is a taboo among many, I would even tell you to cut yourself off from your Master and find somebody else.”
Yue Lin stared at him in a daze again but this time, it wasn’t because he was tired but because of his surprise. “Find a new Master?”
Shen An De shrugged his shoulders. “Simply something to think about. This person has made you do his job for a thousand years and watched on as others have done the same to you. He has taken advantage of you for sure. On the other hand, what has he done for you in that time? Has he ever repaid you? Put in additional time to guide you? Given you resources to make up for the lost time? Anything?”
Yue Lin shook his head. He hadn’t thought much about it because he had always thought he owed his Master this but yes, he had indeed been taken advantage of and had never received anything in return. He should indeed think this through thoroughly before they returned to the sect.
He cupped his fists again, determination entering his eyes. “Thank you again, Grandmaster Shen. You’ve opened my eyes. I will definitely follow your advice and take a long and hard look at my situation before I make my decisions.”
Shen An De nodded. “Good. Don’t overdo it though. You have time to make this decision. For now, there is the gathering and after that, you have earned yourself some time off. Use that to regain some strength and relax, take a look at something you’ve wanted to always see, and then slowly consider the rest.”
“Mn.” Yue Lin nodded. The feeling of having time hadn’t sunken in yet but hopefully, that would soon come. And then, he could indeed do all the things he had missed out on these years.