Edited by Acumen (09/11/2015)
The village was abuzz with activity as soon as the new were spread of Hui Yue’s change in appearance. Everyone who saw him got the impression that they were looking at an angel. His white hair was purer than new fallen snow and his beautiful blue eyes were like a mirror of the endless sky.
Everyone visited the Hui family shack to see the beautiful infant, but even if they did admire his looks, a certain fear crept into their hearts. No one could explain why the child would change so suddenly overnight, however everyone had their own theories.
Some blamed it on a horrible nightmare that could have scared him so much that his appearance changed, others claimed it to be a curse from some strong magical beast which was unhappy with the villagers harvesting medical herbs in the forest. Yet, others were convinced that he suffered from some kind of disease, but no matter what theory they came up with, no one could find an answer.
Although Hui Yue’s appearance had shocked the village, the change quickly became routine, as the infant did not seem to affect others, nor was he causing any disasters, and within a year everyone had accepted that the changes to Hui Yue were un-explainable, and he once again returned to be the darling child of all the villagers.
Within a year Hui Yue had managed to get some control over his body and was able to walk around on unsteady legs; however, every movement that Hui Yue made required extra attention as he had no intention of revealing his actual strength to anyone.
During this year, Hui Yue also finally managed to get his speech under control. Lan Feng was entertained while listening in on his efforts to turn the baby language into actual words, but both Lan Feng and Hui Yue felt incredible relief when they finally managed to say their first word properly.
Saying the first word was like releasing a flood upon dried land, and Hui Yue managed to completely master the spoken language within a month. However, he had to conceal his linguistic skill, just as he had his strength, as he felt no reason to, once again, attract unwanted attention from the village.
Upon achieving the First Star Student rank, Hui Yue noticed that twenty new paths had unsealed themselves within his body, each permeating a sensation of catharsis; of those twenty paths, only twelve were accessible and his qi spiral constantly sent small threads of Qi to roam the open paths. The Qi would deviate between shades of white to black, depending on which of the paths it was travelling upon, shift from grey to black and shades of increasingly pure white.
Lan Feng gave a brief explanation. The twelve open paths were the standard meridians, and it was a Qi connection network that enabled his Qi to circulate through his body. The meridians were split into yin and yang clusters, and each path had a specific concentration of yin or yang energy. The eight closed meridians would require immense toil to open, and currently Lan Feng saw no reason to work on them, as Hui Yue was not likely to start fighting anytime soon.
Lan Feng refused to explain more on the mystery of yin and yang energy, as he stressed the fact that it had no actual usage until Hui Yue managed to unlock his upper dantian.
Hui Yue sighed upon hearing this information, however he understood that there was no reason for him to insist on an explanation since he knew that Lan Feng would definitely tell him in due time.
Another benefit upon reaching the first star student level was that he was capable of gathering more essence at a time, while still refining it into the highest quality Qi.
Time rushed by as Hui Yue kept on refining Qi and understood just how different his new body was, compared to his old one. Hui Yue had managed to stay as average as possible during the next four years, but he was still the most popular and liked child within the village due to his calm temper and stunning appearance.
At the time when he was almost five years old, Hui Yue had the strength of a ten-year-old child, as he had finally reached the second star student level after meticulously refining thread after tread of shining white Qi i by using his internally manifested consciousness in the way he had been doing so far. Lan Feng had ordered Hui Yue to keep refining his Qi the way he had been doing so far, even though he had long since gained enough control over his body to meditate.
For the sake of a perfect foundation, Hui Yue had to keep refining and absorbing essence with his consciousness until reaching the level of a first star disciple. Although it was a hard and ungrateful job, Hui Yue had no intention of complaining, and he now refined four qi threads a day, and each thread was triple the size of the first one he had managed to create all those years ago.
As Hui Yue grew older he was given the task of guarding the few goats that the village was breeding each year, and he would usually wake up at dawn every morning, eat some porridge that his mother cooked up for him and then happily gather the goats before moving towards a random hillside outside the village.
At this age most of the children were given easier tasks, however Hui Yue’s calm personality and great temperament had invoked admiration with the village elder, and Hui Yue had happily accepted the task, as it was beneficial for him to be outside the village to avoid curious gazes while cultivating.
It was one of those days where the sun was shining bright in the sky with no clouds in sight and the few goats were peacefully grassing on the hill all around Hui Yue as he was cultivating. However, Hui Yue furrowed his brow as he felt as if something was wrong.
‘There is a large group of people coming this way,’ Lan Feng said with a worried voice as he sensed the aura of cultivators. Hui Yue did not waste any time, and gathered the goats while rushing back to the village.
“Village elder!” Hui Yue yelled the moment he entered the village, and upon speaking, everyone turned their attention towards the beautiful child. The face that was usually indifferent had changed to a slightly frantic appearance, as he repeatedly called for the village elder.
“What’s wrong boy?” The elder asked in a tender voice as no one had ever seen Hui Yue this flustered before.
“A large group of people are coming this way!” Hui Yue said breathlessly after running all the way back, “they have some cultivators in the group. They seemed really strong!” Hui Yue’s big blue eyes were staring at the village elder, who paled upon hearing the information.
The news quickly spread around the village, but all the men were working in the forest gathering medicinal herbs, and only the women and children remained in town.
“Everyone!” The elder quickly roared, “Gather your belongings and move towards our protective shelter in the forest.”
As soon as the order was given, everyone rushed around gathering the livestock and items that had any value before they gathered in a long snake, moving towards the shelter. The village elder himself refused to follow, as he was uncertain whether the visitors were bandits or adventures, and someone had to welcome the guests either way.
Hui Yue stared at the elderly man for a moment before making the decision of staying to observe what a real cultivator looked like. If things went wrong, he was certain that he should at least be able to flee.
“Yue er, we need to go now,” his mother said with a frightened voice, but she noticed a strange determination within Hui Yue’s eyes.
“Mother, please let me stay. I promise I won’t be hurt,” Hui Yue said with a sweet voice. This was the first time that Hui Yue had ever asked his parents anything, and his mother hesitated slightly. Although Hui Yue’s temperament did not fit a five-year-old he was still her baby, and she was very worried,
“It’s okay mother,” Hui Yue guaranteed her with a stunning smile, “they will not even know that I am here, and if it is bandits then I will run right away.” Hui Lifen could only sigh, and turned around, passing along all of her belongings to one of her friends, as she stayed behind together with Hui Yue to await the uninvited visitors.
The two were hiding behind a building close to the village square and kept observing the road into town. The Village Elder himself was waiting in the middle of the square, right next to the well. He was standing straight and had a dignified look upon his face.
It did not take long before the group of people entered the village, and Hui Yue gasped in surprise as he saw them. It was a large group of around fifty people, and half of those were mounted on student ranked magical horses.
At the front of the group were three people, one middle aged man and two children who seemed to be around ten years old. These three individuals were not riding on normal magical beasts but qilins instead. The Middle aged man was riding on an adult qilin while the children were riding on what seemed to be yearlings.
Hui Yue was astonished by the beauty of the qilins. The entirety of their bodies were covered with dark green scales that got lighter underneath the stomach and on the inside of the legs. Its tail, mane and hooves were covered in red flames and its red eyes were constantly observing the surroundings.
This was the first time that Hui Yue saw a real magical beast, and he was greatly impressed by the beauty, but at the same time he understood just how savage these wild beasts would be if they were not tamed.
Hui Yue noticed that his mother was also stunned by the appearance of the beautiful qilins as her breath had gotten hurried. The village women never saw magical beasts as they lived within the safe borders of the village and had no reason to travel outside.
Suddenly the village elder’s voice rang through the air and made Hui Yue retract his focus from the qilins.
“This lowly one greets Lord Rong Liang,” the village elder said before kowtowing on the ground in front of the middle-aged man.
Hui Yue was confused for a moment before he understood that this man was not a bandit. The name did ring a bell, but he was currently unable to pair the name with anyone specific.
‘It’s because you don’t do anything else than cultivating,’ Lan Feng said with a mocking voice as he observed what was happening with keen eye.
‘I just follow your orders,’ Hui Yue dismissed Lan Feng before asking, ‘do you remember who he is?’
However everything he got was a depressed ‘no, why on earth would I remember a middle aged man? The girl on the other hand will definitely turn into a beauty when she grows up.’ He continued while looking at the girl who was riding on the left side of Lord Rong Liang.
Hui Yue could not help but snort at the reply, ‘She is ten years old you pervert,’ he said with disdain, as he focused his attention upon the elder who had now risen while the two children and Lord Rong Liang had dismounted.
‘That’s why I said when she grows up!’ Lan Feng continued. ‘Don’t be so shocked by something like this. They are not even that strong despite being qilins. If you want to see a real one then we need to go find the wild qilins. The ones who still have their antlers and whiskers. They are worth some respect.’
Lan Feng was once again arrogant, but Hui Yue could not help but suck in some air as he heard what the phoenix had said. He was already astonished by these magical beasts, but they only achieved disdain in Lan Feng’s heart. An incredible urge to go searching for a real qilin suddenly appeared in Hui Yue’s heart.
Lan Feng laughed upon sensing Hui Yue’s desire, but just as he laughed a breeze moved from behind them and carried their scent to the village square were the qilins where standing.
The moment Hui Yue and Lan Feng’s scent reached the group of horses and qilins they instantly panicked. Lan Feng and Hui Yue had merged their souls, so Hui Yue carried the scent of a saint level beast, which was enough to terrify any other magical beast around.
Lord Rong Liang was shocked when he noticed his qilins panic and was had to use his power to forcibly calm them down.
Hui Yue’s eyes grew large as he saw how a grey mist had instantly calmed down all the mounts, causing them to look drugged.
‘That is spiritual energy,’ Lan Feng said with a quiet voice, ‘he has trapped all of them in an illusion so they cant sense anything. He is quite strong.’
Hui Yue felt lucky to be able to see such a high ranked expert, but he was also aware that the horses’ reaction had caused Lord Rong Liang to become alert, and he and his mother would most definitely be noticed very quickly.
“Come out little mouse,” the lord said with a friendly voice, and Hui Yue had no reason to keep hiding, so instead he grasped his mother’s hand and slowly moved clear of the house they had been hiding behind.
The village elder raised an eyebrow upon seeing them, but he said nothing.
“I’m really sorry mister,” Hui Yue said with tears in his eyes and the most adorable voice he could muster, “I just really wanted to see someone from outside the village so I hid and accidentally got my mother caught up in this as well.”
Lord Rong Liang was shocked upon seeing the mother and child, as he saw no reason why any of them would cause his qilins to panic, but the closer the two of them came towards the village square, the more spiritual energy was needed to keep the mounts pacified within his illusion.
The child was beautiful, the white hair and blue eyes was so exotic that Lord Rong Liang was refusing to believe that it really was a human child.
“Where is the rest of the villagers?” Lord Rong Liang finally asked while looking around the deserted village.
“We were not certain whether it was a friend or foe that was coming our way, so they have hidden themselves in our protection shelter” the elder answered in a humble and rather embarrassed voice.
“You knew we were coming?” surprise was evident in Lord Rong Liang’s voice as he was not used to anyone being capable of noticing him while travelling, and he was certain that everyone in this village were only in the students.
“This young one saw your noble party while guarding goats on the hillside your lordship,” Hui Yue said hurriedly, the personification of a slightly scared but also curious child.
Lan Feng was laughing loudly while enjoying the play. Lord Rong Liang nodded upon hearing that they had been spotted along the way, but his eyes never left the beautiful child in front of him. If it was a magic beast in human shape, it was a rare treasure that he would want to acquire at any price.
“You do not look like the other villagers, are you an orphan?” he asked curiously, and Hui Yue instantly felt a tinge of danger hidden within those words.
“No milord,” Hui Lifen spoke up this time, “Our Hui Yue looked like any other child at birth, but during the first year of life we experienced an incident that caused the current appearance.” She said with great respect while kowtowing on the ground.
Lord Rong Liang was used to a life of scheming against others, and he could instantly tell that the woman was telling the truth. This both confused and interested him as the young child did not seem simple in any way.
“Village elder please bring the rest of the villagers back. Our party will be setting up camp just outside of your village for a month as we will prepare for our trip into the core of the forest.” Lord Rong Liang said with a firm voice and the village elder quickly nodded before turning towards Hui Yue and his mother, sending them to recall the rest of the villagers.
Hui Yue and Lan Feng were as quiet as possible, neither of them wished for this new Lord to notice their current level of strength, nor did they wish for anything else to be revealed, so they were quite happy when they were able to quickly leave.
Hui Yue quickly cupped his hands before he hurried out of the square under the gaze of Lord Rong Liang and his two children.
‘We are going to have some trouble,’ Lan Feng said with a worried voice and Hui Yue could only nod in agreement.