The Four Y’s – 2/6 – duochanfan

Reading Time: 121 Minutes

Title: The Four Y’s
Author: duochanfan
Fandom: The Untamed/Mo Dao Zu Shi
Genre: Action Adventure, Drama, Family, Hurt/Comfort, Kid!fic, Pre-Relationship, Slash
Relationship(s): Nie Mingjue/Meng Yao, others
Content Rating: NC-17
Warnings: Hate Crimes/Hate Speech, Incest, Major Character Death, Slavery, Torture, Violence – Graphic, Violence – Domestic and/or Against Children, Dark Themes, Abuse Child, Abuse Domestic, Adultery, Death Minor Character, Discussion – Child Abuse, Discussion – Domestic Violence, Discussion – Murder, Discussion – Rape, Discussion Sexual Abuse, Discussion Torture, Disturbing Imagery, Violence Canon Level, Rape Off Screen, Murder
Beta: Arete
Word Count: 151,000
Summary: Wei Ying is once against being berated by Madam Yu, instead of taking it and watching as his brother is verbally lashed, he stands up to her. Not wanting to see his brother hurt by his own mother again. The woman turns on him and drives Wei Ying from the Jiang Sect he starts to travel around the Cultivation World, picking up a few people on the way to add to his own misfit little family. His hope as he travels is to find a home for himself and those he now claims as family.
Artist: SpencnerTibbsLuvr

Chapter Eleven

Wei Ying and Meng Yao walked into the next town along the meandering route they were taking. They had been travelling together for the last two months. They always liked to try and stay a little longer in the larger towns and cities that they came across. It gave Wei Ying time to do some good trading and to also find some work and smaller night hunts that they could take care of. Meng Yao himself was coming along well with his Golden Core development. It was there now, formed into a small core within Meng Yao’s dantian. Now it was time to build it up.

“Do you think we’ll be able to find any work in this town?” Meng Yao asked him.

“Don’t know, there is usually a smaller sect nearby, and for this one there is a small one close. So, they might be in charge of taking care of such things,” Wei Ying said, “At least we should be able to sell off the furs and the feathers we have gotten over the last two weeks.”

“That’s true, are we going to remain around here at all then? Or just move on?” he asked curiously as to what the young teenager wanted to do.

“We can ask around, see if there is any work for us. But if not then we should move on. You don’t want to try and cause trouble for the smaller sects. They control a lot of the small towns and villages on the outskirts of the Major Sects. They will guard their territory fiercely since the big Sects tend to take most of the night hunts that go on, and the work that a cultivator does,” he explained to him, glancing over at Meng Yao.

“Y-” Meng Yao began to say as they walked towards the main square. Their attention was now caught by the young child that was talking to someone sitting on a carriage.

“Mister! You promise to give me a sweet if I delivered your message!” he pointed, looking up at the man, his hand held out for said sweet. The child was small, looking to be around three years old, though as a street kid he might have been older than he looked.

“I don’t care, fucking street rat,” the man said as he kicked the child away and snapped to his horse to get them to move. He didn’t care that he had caused the child to fall towards the wheels of the carriage.

Wei Ying ran quickly, grabbing the child and tuning. Letting his back and arm get caught by the wheel as he protected the child. Meng Yap rushed over, kneeling beside the pair, eyes full of worry as he looked at the two of them, “A-Ying, are you both alright?” he asked, fearing the worst as tears gathered in his eyes as the carriage had come to a stop. The clang of Subian dropping to the ground echoing around the village square.

Wei Ying glanced up, a pained look on his face as he said, “I’ll… I’ll be fine,” he gasped a little, “This little one is okay as well,” he answered quietly.

Meng Yao nodded at him, placing a hand on his shoulder before standing and turning onto the man, “How could you do something so callous!” he yelled at him.

“I-” the man began to speak but was cut off by Wei Ying who had been quietly talking to the sobbing child in his arms. People could now see the blood that was falling from his arm and onto the cobbles ground. He had been injured.

“You tried to kill a child, you kicked him to your wheels and then tried to drive over him,” he growled, standing up as best as he could with the child held securely in one arm. The other was hanging by his side, dripping blood, “Yao-ge, can you grab Subian for me,” he asked of the older teenager.

“Of course, Didi,” he said, playing up their family angle a little more as he went and grabbed Subian from where it had fallen. He leaned closer to Wei Ying and the child, “He’s our cousin, we’ve been looking for him, what’s his name?” he asked quietly as he kept closer to them, making sure that no one would overhear.

“Xue Yang is all I managed to get from him, his parents are gone,” he said softly.

“Right,” Meng Yao gave a tiny nod and then turned back to the man, “My brother and I have been searching for a while now, looking for our cousins,” he said, putting on a mournful look as he glanced towards Wei Ying, who was now looking sad as he cradled the child as best as he could in his arms.

“What about them,” the man sneered, “The child wouldn’t have anything to do with you, he’s been here for a few years his mother just left him here,” the man spat.

“My cousin was grieving the loss of her husband and took her son away. Who was but a babe in arms at the time. We’ve been searching for her ever since. That was… three, four years ago,” Meng Yao said, as he began to weave a tale for the crowd to eat up, “He looks just like her husband,” he said as he looked to the child, who was now having his face wiped of tears by Wei Ying.

“A-Ying,” Meng Yao asked, “Is it our A-Yang?” he carried on, letting hope cloud his voice as he spoke aloud.

“Little one,” Wei Ying began, “What’s your name?” he asked him, knowing to play along with Meng Yao, he was spinning a good tale. It was how most people now believed that the two of them were brothers and not just two teenagers that were travelling as friends.

“Xue… Yang,” he sniffled as he buried his head in the neck of the teenager that had saved him.

“It’s… it’s him,” Wei Ying grinned at Meng Yao, “It is,” he nodded, “Look!” he said as he pointed out a little mole behind Xue Yang’s ear. It was barely visible, “It’s in the same place like the one that A-Yang had when he was a baby,” he told him, seeing the opportunity to solidify the fact that this child was one that they knew.

“You’ve hurt my brother, tried to kill my cousin,” Meng Yao then snapped at the man, “You should be ashamed of yourself,” he told the man that was now going red as he sat upon the carriage looking down at him.

“Yeah!” someone in the crowd called out.

“He’s always doing things like that. Little A-Yang is always trying to help for a bit of food, or even a sweet of two,” an older lady said as she stood near the front of the crowd that was gathering around them all.

“Yao-ge,” Wei Ying said softly, “I think… I think I might need to sit down,” he said, his voice sounding a little strained.

Meng Yao turned to him and this time he really looked at him. He could see that he was beginning to pale and was starting to sweat, “Of course,” he rushed over and took Xue Yang from his arms, “Hey there,” he smiled reassuringly at the child as he then turned to the crowd, “Is there a doctor around here, I think my brother needs to be treated,” he said worriedly as he glanced at Wei Ying. He knew that his brother was strong, but even then, he had a limit to his endurance.

“Yes, of course, but… he will want payment,” said a young man, looking at the children. One may look around fifteen, sixteen to him, but that didn’t mean that they had a lot of money, especially if they had been travelling a lot.

“He should play,” someone suggested as they pointed to the man on the carriage.

“I will not pay for some doctor for a piece of scum like them,” the man sneered.

“I am not the scum sir, that would be you,” Wei Ying said as he, with a little help from Meng Yao, turned and took a step closer to the carriage, “What is your name?” he demanded to know.

“And why should I give my name to a beggar like you?” he snorted, looking so self-important, “I’m a cultivator of note,” he sneered down at him.

“Oh, a fellow cultivator then,” he nodded, “I am a cultivator as well,” he told him, “Now I know that we have a code that we live by. So, what Sect do you belong to that allows you to treat ordinary people as worthless? I know from where I was from, doing such a thing would mean punishment. And a discipline whip would be the least of my worries for such an infraction.”

“He’s from the Chang Sect. They are set up near here, but they are all like this. They don’t care about us, they won’t even take care of any of the problems within the town. Or even any of the nearby villages. All they want is money, we’re not all rich enough for them to bother with,” someone from the crowd shouted out to him

“Thank you, good sir,” Wei Ying said weakly, “As soon as I’m healed enough, I’m willing to help where I can if the Sect isn’t taking care of any of the problems.”

“Thank you,” an older man said as he stepped forwards, “I’ve petitioned the Chang Sect a few times in the past few months, but have received nothing from them. I’ll help pay for your healing in thanks for any help that you will be able to give us.”

“I will be able to pay for my own healing,” Wei Ying told him, “Do not worry about that. A place to sleep and meals will be enough payment for me and my brother. And since we have found what we have been looking for, I hope you won’t mind A-Yang being with us,” he said, knowing that some places weren’t too kind to those that had lived on the streets.

“A-Ying,” Meng Yao said as he saw his brother begin to sway, “I think we should get you to the healer now. We can talk about the details later on.”

Wei Ying nodded slowly as Meng Yao came up to his good side and said to the elder, “please, lead us to where your doctor is,” he told him.

“Of course,” the man said as he led the way.

The Chang disciple that was behind them, was watching with an open mouth as people called him a number of things and told him to leave the town and to never return. That the Chang Sect was no longer welcome there.

Wei Ying lay down on the bed in the doctor’s office. He was on his side with his robe off as the injuries were cleaned up and bandaged.

“With a Golden Core you won’t be down for too long,” the doctor told the teenager as he finished wrapping up the injury around his shoulder.

“That’s good,” Wei Ying smiled as he began to sit up, pulling on his robes as he looked at his friend. Meng Yao sat to one side, with Xue Yang on his lap, the child was sleeping now. The fright of the day had worn him out.

“Are you sure that this child is your cousin?” he asked them, looking at the sleeping child, “He’s been here since his mother passed away.”

“She’s dead?” Wei Ying asked, tears filling his eyes, as he and Meng Yao both knew what it was like to have no mother.

“She arrived here when he was only a few months old. She lived in one of the small huts near here. But when she passed away a year ago, he was left alone. No one wants to take in a new orphan,” he told them, sighing.

“Bad luck,” Meng Yao said, knowing what a lot of ordinary people thought of young orphans.

“Yes,” the doctor nodded, “We did give him food and tried to find places for him to shelter within at times. But he wasn’t taken in by anyone,” he told them, “I travelled too much between the villages around here to have him with me,” he said when he saw the slightly questioning look on their faces.

“I understand,” Wei Ying nodded, he had been subjected to much the same thing. He held no ill will to those in Yiling that hadn’t taken him in, even when they helped him occasionally. It was costly to feed another mouth after all, and not many could afford their own children, let alone someone else’s.

“Rest today and tomorrow, and then you should be fine,” the doctor told him, “And I won’t charge you, since you’re doing something good, taking him in. It’ll be nice to know that he’ll be safe.”

“He’s family,” Wei Ying told him, “Come on Yao-ge, let’s find an inn for us to stay in,” he said as he carefully got off the bed that he had been treated on. He still felt a little light-headed, but that would hopefully fade a little after some food and sleep.

“Thank you,” Meng Yao bowed as best as he could with a sleeping child in his arms and Subian clasped within his hand.

Wei Ying, seeing them struggle, took his sword back and the two headed out of the office. The elder that had guided them was waiting for the two of them, “Hello,” Wei Ying smiled, wondering what the man wanted.

“I’ve had a room set up for the three of you at one of the inns. I also had a few clean clothes gathered for the young one to take with him. It’s not much, but hopefully, that will help,” he told them as he guided them to the inn that had a room ready.

“Thank you,” Wei Ying said, “Please, list out the things that you need help with, I’m not a strong cultivator, but I will do all that I can to help,” he promised him.

“Thank you,” he nodded and then led them to the room, before leaving the three of them alone.

Chapter Twelve

Wei Ying stood as he looked at the young man that was now standing before him. He was another one that had come to ask for their help. There were so many people that had come to them. All of them had petitioned the sect nearby to help. But while the Sect had taken some of the money for the work that they should have done, they never showed up to do it. Now that town had stopped paying them anything and instead refused to do so until the work had been done properly. They knew that after a while, the Sect would be made to answer the one that they were under. Which was the Nie Sect according to the Town’s mayor.

“I’ll help, so please, don’t worry. And don’t worry about payment either,” he said, he had been saying that a lot, knowing that the money that they had lost to the Chang Sect meant that nearly everyone in the village were facing some kind of financial trouble. He didn’t want to take from them when they had worries of their own.

“I will let you pick out some things from what I sell,” he bargained instead. While most of the stuff did not cost that much to make, he could see a number of them for a high price. It would be worth letting them go for the protection against certain things from the cultivator.

“Of course,” Wei Ying nodded, vowing to take Meng Yao with him since he would be the best one to see what the value of such things were. He knew armour and things like that. But when it came to luxury type goods, that was where Wei Ying was lost most of the time.

“Thank you,” the man said as he left the room.

“Well, maybe we can get a few things that will tie our hair back properly,” Meng Yao suggested. He had been able to look around the town finding out what it had to offer. He had recognised the shopkeeper that had come in.

“Looks like I’m going to be really busy. Though nearly all of it is easy things to do. Just to keep out the chill and make sure that the weathering on the building is lessened. A few of them want protection from thieves, but that’s not hard to sort out either,” he said with a shrug, only to wince as it jarred his shoulder. The injury was healing well. Wei Ying had also started on some of the easier things he could take care of while hurt.

“Are you sure you should be doing so much before you have even healed fully?” Meng Yao asked him, a worried look on his face.

Wei Ying smiled, reassuring him, “It’s fine. I’ve had to do a lot harder work, more injured than this before. And I’ve always been someone that could heal easily,” he said a she then looked at the child that was started to wake up, on the bed. They had found out that Xue Yang was almost four years old. That his birthday was near Wei Wuxian’s own, which was on the last day of October. He walked over to the be, “Hey,” he greeted. So far, since they had taken the toddler in, he hadn’t said a word to them. He had barely even eaten with them either. It had taken the two of them sometime before they had even been able to get him into the bath and cleaned up, along with getting him wearing something new.

Xue Yang just stared at the two of them, there was a little hope in his eyes. But there was a wariness that Wei Ying understood all too well. He knew what it was like to think that something was too good to be true. And for him, most of the time it was true. He didn’t even know what had made him trust Jiang Fengmian when he had approached him that time. He had spent four almost five years on the streets. He knew better than to take the hand of a stranger, no matter if they had helped them at all.

“It’s okay to talk, we don’t mind, we’re pretty loud ourselves when we really get going,” Wei Ying said as he went over to the bed and sat beside him, “Now,” he said looking down at the toddler, “We’re going to have a little to eat, so are you going to come and join us?” he asked him.

Xue Yang nodded slowly and then squeaked as Wei Ying picked him up in one arm, using the other to make sure the toddler didn’t fall backwards and went over to the low table where Meng Yao was setting things out. “Thank you,” he finally spoke as he looked at the two of them, eyes still wary.

“Now,” Wei Ying smiled, “We’re wanting to know if you would like to come with us?” he asked him.

“With you?” he questioned, looking from one to the other.

“Yes, A-Ying offered the same thing to me. To go with him, and I took a chance and said yes, and now we’re family. We’re offering the same to you. To come with us and be our family,” Meng Yao smiled at him, as he dished out some rice and vegetables and adding a little bit of meat to the bowl as well.

“Really?” he said, eyes filling with tears as he looked at the two of them. He had been on the streets for so long that he didn’t really remember his mother. He knew that he had one and that she had loved him. But that was all he could remember. He may only be three, almost four, but he knew that he had to work for food. Though the town’s people did help him on occasions. Giving him food and a place to sleep every now and then on a cold or wet night.

“Yes, with us, and be our family,” Wei Ying told him. “We’re not the most conventional of families But I promise that I will look after you, and make sure that you have a full belly each night,” he added softly, “and I’ll even train you to be a cultivator if you like?”

“Really! Like you with the awesome sword?” he grinned, looking like the child he was instead of the wary and streetwise eyes.

“Yes,” Meng Yao laughed, “He’s even teaching me,” he told him, as he prompted Xue Yang to eat some of his rice before doing the same.

“Wow,” Xue Yang murmured, “Please, I’ll be really good and I can do all kinds of errands and things to help,” the toddler said, hoping that would be enough for them to take him along.

“That’s fine,” We Ying nodded, agreeing easily. Though he didn’t really expect Xue Yang having to do anything but be the child that he was. He wanted someone to have a childhood at least.

The three of them ate the rest of their meal and then Wei Ying got up to go and do a few of the simpler jobs until he healed a little more. It didn’t take him long to get bored of doing them. But with Meng Yao and Xue Yang along with him, he carried on. It was best to not show how boring it was since he didn’t want to lose anyone giving him some work. While most were trading their goods, a few of them were able to give them a little silver to put aside. Which added up to a large total that they were getting, and saving. Wei Ying was hoping that soon enough he would be able to get a sword forged for Meng Yao. He couldn’t keep using Subian. His own sword was beginning to protest someone else using them. The loyalty that Subian had for him was already very strong.

“Right,” Wei Ying said as the last talisman was in place, “That’s all done as well,” he grinned as he walked into the shop. It was one that was selling robes and clothing of all kinds, “Ma’am,” he greeted the youngish looking woman at the counter. “I’ve been able to fix the talisman up so you shouldn’t have any problems with bugs or the like for at least two or three years. It would be best if you found someone that could repower them up after they run out. But until then, they should be fine,” he told her.

“Thank you,” she nodded, gratefully, “You’re free to take a full outfit for each of you, all three of you,” she said as she gestured to them all.

Wei Ying nodded. It would cost about five silver each for them to do it. It wasn’t that much in the grand scheme of things, but it would help. Especially with Xue Yang, as he was so young, and by the looks of the clothes he had been wearing, they were all too thin to survive any type of cold weather. And Wei Ying was noticing that it was now starting to get cold where they were.

“Thank you,” he smiled as he looked at the other two, “come on, we should choose something that will keep us warm as we travel.”

“Alright,” Meng Yao said as he took Xue Yang by the hand and started leading him to where the children’s clothing was located. Looking for something warm and long-lasting. Wei Ying was quick to pick something out for himself and put it on the counter.

“Ma’am, have you always had such a problem with the Chang Sect around here?” he asked her, curious as to the situation.

“Yes, they keep promising to do the work that we paid for. But so far nothing. We also give them a tax, or rather that we did. We no longer send it. They’ve tried to cause trouble for us, but we told them if they have a problem with it, they have to petition the Great Sect that they are under. Which is the Nie Sect,” she smiled.

“The Nie Sect, I’ve heard a few things about them,” Wei Ying nodded, hoping that it would get the woman talking a little more about them.

“They are rather good. Strong and capable as well. We also know that if they knew what the Chang Sect was like then they would put a stop to them. But they are a Great Sect and we don’t really want to bother them with this town’s small problem. But the Chang Sect won’t do much to us if we don’t pay them the tax that they are asking for. They dare not draw attention to themselves,” she smirked as she answered him.

“They do seem like they believe in justice,” he nods, remembering something that Uncle Jiang said about the Nie Sect and the Nie Sect Leader Nie Mingjue, who had taken over after his father’s sudden passing. That had happened just before Wei Ying had arrived at Lotus Pier.

“They do, they are one of the better Sects around. The Jiangs are as well,” the woman said, as she leaned on the counter, “The Lan are also one of the best around. Though they all seem like untouchable gods when they walk past. So restrained but they are all very nice to look at,” she smirked, as though she was telling him a secret.

“I’ve heard the Lan Sect referred to as the Ascended Immortals given form, a few times,” he said, nodding his head. He had only met two Lan Sect disciples before and they had both been older than him and delivered a message to Uncle Jiang. They had looked like what people had described the immortals.

“Yes,” she agreed easily, “They’ve come through once, I think. So many people were out to see what they were like. They were with some of the Nie Sect, on a hunt nearby,” she gossiped as Meng Yap and Xue Yang finally walked over to them and put down their choices.

Wei Ying looked at them and nodded in approval. Sturdy and warm looking, “These then please, if that’s really alright?” he asked her again to make sure.

“Of course, it is,” she smiled as she took them and wrapped them up, “Here,” she said, “And thank you for what you’ve done.”

“Welcome, and we may be back a little later to get more clothes for A-Yang,” Wei Ying told her, knowing that while the town mayor had given some things for him, Xue Yang would need some more in the end if they were going to be travelling. He had a feeling he knew which way he now wanted to go. He thought that they might be able to find a place in the Nie Sect. Though he didn’t know if his running away from the Jiang Sect would affect that. He hoped it wouldn’t, but if it did, then he vowed to make sure that Meng Yao and Xue Yang would be safe and happy there before he left to try and find a place for himself. He looked at them and smiled. He could see a few similarities between the two. Especially around the eyes and mouth. Wei Ying smiled, they could easily pass as family, not so much himself. But it was nice to dream that he did have family out there somewhere.

Chapter Thirteen

Wei Ying walked ahead of the others. It had been over a week since they had saved Xue Yang, and while he was getting along with them just fine. The young toddler was still nervous about things. Wei Ying knew that it was going to take some time for him to start feeling safe with them. It had been just over a day since they had finally left the town, they had a lot of stuff from them as well, some of it they could sell at another town they would come to. Neither of the older ones thought that it would be a good idea to try and sell anything in the villages that they would come across. The goods that they had been gifted were only found in the higher populated towns and certain types of villages.

Meng Yao walked a little quickly to catch up with Wei Ying. He could see that the elder was keeping an eye out on the road. They had been told that there were a couple of monsters around that had been causing a bit of trouble. Though they had hoped that they had been taken care of by the Chang Sect. Though Wei Ying had a feeling that it wouldn’t have been. There was a bounty on it as well, though he would have to take that to the Nie Sect Seat in Qinghe to get the money for it.

Wei Ying stopped when he heard a little cry from behind them. He turned to see that Xue Yang had fallen over. He rushed over, “A-Yang,” he called out softly as he knelt, gathering the teary-eyed toddler into his arms, “Are you okay?” he asked, looking him over, making sure that he hadn’t hurt himself with his fall.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I tried to keep up,” he hiccupped, wiping his eyes as he started to cry.

“It’s alright,” Wei Ying soothed as he rocked him in his arms for a while, he stood up, “Now, are you tired?” he asked him.

Xue Yang nodded, “I’m sorry, please don’t leave me behind. I’ll try harder to keep up, I promise,” he begged him, squirming a little to get down, though the movements were sluggish.

“It’s fine if you’re tired. I don’t mind carrying you, it’s good training for me as well,” he grinned at him, moving Xue Yang around so he was now on his back.

“Everything okay?” Meng Yao asked as he watched the two, a soft smile on his face as Wei Ying caught back up to him.

“Yeah, it’s fine, he’s a little tired, so it’s piggyback time,” Wei Ying grinned in answer, “This is also good training too, walking and carrying someone. We did it all the time back then,” he said, smiling at the fond memories of him and Jiang Cheng switching who was going to carry the other.

“So, you have somewhere in mind now?” Meng Yao asked him, seeing that he had been talking to the villagers a lot around the town while they were there. Asking about the Sect’s that were around the area.

“I have,” he nodded, “I was thinking that the Nie Sect sounded like the best one to try for. I think that you and Xue Yang would easily be able to find a home there,” he said, letting it slip that he didn’t think he would be able to find a place for himself.

“What about you?” he asked, eyes narrowed as he almost glared at the younger teenager.

Wei Ying sighed, “That’s the thing about me, while I’m a good cultivator, I’m also a runaway you could say. I may have left because I didn’t want to be around Madam Yu anymore because of her actions against me.”

“After what she did to you, I don’t blame you for not wishing to stay there anymore. You were in danger of being harmed badly, she could even have killed you if she had carried on her attack. If you hadn’t of been smart enough to get around her… you wouldn’t be here,” Meng Yao pointed out to him, he had heard the full story from the younger teenager a while ago. It hurt to know that Wei Ying had lost the people that he had called family. Actually, family as well, since they were blood-related to him.

“I know, but most of the Sects won’t see it like that at all. They will see me as defecting from my home Sect. They will want to know why I did so and to say that about a Sect Leader’s Wife, even though it’s true. Well, it won’t be well thought of, and I can’t hurt Uncle Jiang like that either. He… he took me in and gave me a home for four years,” he said, barely breathing as he rushed the words out. There were so many things that he was feeling and he didn’t know what he could do to persuade people to not see him as a runaway without bringing up the truth of what had happened.

Meng Yao sighed, “Then if you don’t stay there, then we don’t,” he told him, “We’re family. You and me, we’re brothers. That’s what we’ve been claiming for a while, especially in that town. And now we have a little cousin relying on us to be his family, we stick together,” he said gesturing to the almost asleep Xue Yang on his back.

“I know and I will make sure that you’re taken care of though. Both of you,” He trailed off, “I… we can do a few hunts and a few other things as well as gathering fur, we’re going to be near the amount we’ll need to try and get you a sword. Though… it might not be the best sword you’ll be able to get. But it should do, until we can really start hunting and saving up,” he said, biting his lip when he thought about Subian. He wished he could get a proper cultivation sword done for Meng Yao. But they were almost always forged in Sect controlled cities. And the only one he could think of would be to go to Qinghe. They would allow that at the very least. Though he knew that some Sects had their spiritual weapons made in other places. That they have special ones set up in certain towns for their spiritual swords to be done.

“And we’ll make sure that you are as well,” Meng Yao told him, “We’re family now,” he reminded him, “There is no getting out of that at all. You’re stuck with us,” he smiled.

Wei Ying smiled back and nodded as they continued to travel along the road. One that would eventually lead them to the main city of the Nie Sect.


As the days went by, Wei Ying started to teach Xue Yang how to form a Core, and now that Meng Yao had his own Core, Wei Ying decided that he would teach him a little trick that he loved to use as well. It was a way to entertain the younger disciples and a way for the older ones to show off a little. Though not many did so. It was how they all learned to control their spiritual energy better.

“Right,” he said to Meng Yao as Xue Yang had fallen asleep again just after trying to build his Core. The sun was up for longer now. It was the height of summer where they were, though there was still a cold as they were heading north towards Qinghe. Meng Yao had mentioned that he had thought that Xue Yang had been a little too young to start with building a core. Wei Ying told him that this way is safe. It will build up his body and core better. He had listened to him but was still worried as he heard stories of it being hard for a child to form one at that age.

“What are we doing?” Meng Yao asked him quietly as he watched Wei Ying quickly cover Xue Yang up with a blanket and sit before him.

“I’m going to show you something that will help you learn how to control your spiritual energy and help build it up a little faster,” he grinned as he began to build up his spiritual energy and circled his hands around each other as a shape began to form between them.

“That’s amazing!” Meng Yao exclaimed, eyes wide as a small cat began to appear between Wei Ying’s hands.

“Most likely at first, you will only get the usual ball of energy. It takes a bit of time and some concentration to learn how to form it into an actual shape,” he grinned as he then let the energy wander away from them. He smiled, “You can learn how to control them as well,” he said, “And,” he smirked as he sent it towards Meng Yao and had it jump on him, “Make it solid enough that it can affect people.”

“That would be useful for so many things,” Meng Yao nodded.

“I know, it’s part of the reason why I created it,” he grinned, “I started teaching the younger disciples when I was at Lotus Pier. It helped them learn how to build their cores up faster, and to make sure that they were able to concentrate a bit more. Making it fun to use. So, them making animal shapes was a great way to start.”

“That’s what you’ll be doing with A-Yang then?” he asked him.

“Yeah,” Wei Ying answered, “I will be. When you get the basics down, I’m going to start you on something more as well.”

“Like what?” he asked him, curious as to what Wei Ying had planned for his training.

“This,” he said as he controlled the cat and brought it back to him. He began to give it a little more energy. The shape of it changed and grew. Soon it was the size of a tiger.

“And it’s still solid?” he asked him, as he reached out and found out that it really was.

“So, you ready to learn how to do that?” he asked him, grinning.

Meng Yao nodded and settled back down as the tiger disappeared and Wei Ying began to instruct him. They spent a little more of the morning on it before Xue Yang woke up. Then it was a quick lunch before they broke down the camp and began to head off once again.

The two took turns in carrying Xue Yang on their back as soon as he got tired. Wei Ying teaching a few more things to Meng Yao. When it was Wei Ying’s turn to carry the toddler, Meng Yao would carry Subian. Both of them were aware that they could be attacked. Though Wei Ying was slowly teaching him how to sense with his Qi, the area that surrounded them. This is why Wei Ying tended to be a bit calmer as they walked.

“I can’t believe you can do this all the time,” Meng Yao said, he was a little tired from sensing most of the afternoon.

“I’ve built up a strong core by doing things like that and the animal one,” Wei Ying told him, “Your spiritual energy is like a muscle. You need to build it up, it depends on what you do with it to see how strong it is. If you’re moving it around, using it, expanding it and that it will grow. If you don’t do anything with it, then it will weaken,” he added, shrugging a little, which caused Xue Yang to complain about the movement as he was half asleep on Wei Ying’s back once more.

“Right,” Meng Yao nodded, “Is he still asleep then?” he asked, smiling as he went over and looked at the toddler, “I’m worried about him. He shouldn’t be sleeping this much,” he added, reaching out to make sure the tiny child didn’t have a fever.

“He sleeps so much at the moment because his body is trying to get used to not having to be on alert all the time. As well as to get used to all the travelling that he is doing. It should fade after a while and he’ll be more like a normal toddler before you know it,” he grinned, “He also didn’t have as much food as he is now able to have. You must have noticed that he doesn’t really eat that much at mealtimes?” Wei Ying asked him, glancing over at his older brother.

“I did,” he nodded, frowning as he wondered why he ate so little. He had spotted Wei Ying keeping a little bit of their food out for them all to eat as they travelled and not just for when they stopped for a full meal. Which the younger insisted that they do. He also always gave a few extra snacks to Xue Yang during the day.

“That will change as well, he just needs a bit of time to get used to having slightly larger portions of food. It’s why I give him a lot of snacks during the day. That is to make sure that he can get enough food for what he needs,” he told him. It had been the same for Wei Ying when he had first been picked up off the streets. He just hoped that he was right and that Xue Yang would be fine in the end. They carried on walking, Meng Yao finally satisfied with the answer he had been given. Wei Ying smiled as he went back to teaching him a few things.

Chapter Fourteen

Wei Ying grinned as Meng Yao used a talisman to send out a fireball towards the water that they were walking beside. “You’re doing really well with your control now,” he told him, nodding happily.

Meng Yao sighed and smiled, “It really takes a bit of work at first to learn how to activate them right. And then to send the fireball in the right direction. I can understand why you wanted me to do it over water all the time.”

“It does. The water helps in putting out any fires. But as soon as you get down the activation and direction. The rest of what you need for good control just falls into place,” he smiled, “Now,” he smirked, clapping his hands together as Xue Yang looked up at him. The toddler had gripped onto Wei Ying sash as they walked. Not wanting to let go and still afraid of the possibility of being left behind.

“What now?” Meng Yao asked him, wondering what Lesson he was going to be taught this time. Though he would have to admit that they were all interesting and really helpful in learning how to build up his Core and to gain better control over his spiritual energy.

“Well, how would you like to learn the sensing that I do when we are walking?” he asked him, grinning as Meng Yao nodded. “Good,” he told him, “Right, I need you to pull up a little of your Qi and then send it out, imagine it is like water. Your Qi is a wave that is going to go out, but keep a sense on it,” he did his best to describe what it was like, “It should tell you if there is something moving, if there is something human, monster or otherwise out there when it comes back to you.”

“Okay,” he nodded as he then concentrated on his Qi and tried to send it out. It didn’t work at first. But he closed his eyes and kept trying, it helped him a little and finally, it worked. Though it didn’t go very far, only a few feet away from them. But what he got back almost painted a picture of his surroundings. “Wow,” Meng Yao murmured as he opened his eyes, seeing what he felt in his mind.

“Now, add a little more Qi to go a bit further out. Everything has Qi in it, even a rock, but it’s barely there. So, when it touches yours, it basically tells your own Qi what it is,” Wei Ying smiled, “Though it does take us a while to identify the monster types and that,” he nodded, “Now, I want you to try and do it with your eyes over. You know what it feels like now,” he told him.

Meng Yao nodded and did it again, this time with his eyes open, his mind was quickly able to put the Qi that was coming back to the things that he could see around them. Putting more Qi into the wave he was able to get a few things that he couldn’t see, like the small rabbit that was nearby. “I can see a rabbit,” he murmured.

Wei Ying grinned, “Yeah, there are a few around along with a deer too,” he told him, as he picked up Xue Yang and they began to walk again. He settled the toddler into his arms. He had felt little tugs from him, showing that he was tired. The toddler had even been trying to activate a few of the easy wind talismans earlier. He had only just been able to activate one before he wanted to sleep again. But it did mean that his Core was forming. Meng Yao’s was also coming along nicely now, it looked like he had been cultivating for a good couple of years instead of only the couple of months it had actually been. Xue Yang’s was nothing but a spark at the moment, but Wei Ying believed that it would be fully formed within another week. Especially since he was able to use the natural Qi around him to help activate the talisman Wei Ying had given him.

“It’s working,” Meng Yao grinned, looking at Wei Ying. He was able to get a bit more of a better picture in his mind as they started walking again.

“Good,” he nodded, “It’s another way to build up your core. I’ve been using it all the time to help us avoid certain areas. I’ve got a good range with it now,” he finished.

“A-Niang,” Xue Yang pouted as he looked at Wei Ying. The toddler had taken to calling Wei Ying that, since the last village they had been through. Xue Yang had been with some of the other children there, playing a little. And when he had talked to them, he had found out that the father of a family would provide the money and the discipline. But the one that hugs you all the time was the mothers. He had heard that and taken the mother bit to heart.

“What is it A-Yang?” he asked him, his voice gentle, even though he had been annoyed at the title for the first few days he had been called it. And then, when he had tried to get Xue Yang to call him Xian-Gege, he had gotten a flood of tears and changed his mind.

“Teach me?” he asked, pouting as he wanted to learn the same thing as they did.

“We’re going to have to wait a little while, just until your core forms and it gets a little strong. Then when it is, I promise, I’ll teach you everything that I have taught Yao-ge,” he smiled at him, adjusting his grip on the child.

“Okay,” he nodded, still pouting as he rested his head on Wei Ying’s shoulder and gave a little sigh. He knew that trying to get Wei Ying to teach him something after he was told no was futile. It didn’t matter what he did, screaming, crying, nothing worked and Wei Ying wouldn’t teach him.

“Good boy,” Wei Ying told him, patting his back, “Right, we’re both going to be sending out the pulses and I want you to tell me what is going on ahead of us,” he said as he turned his attention back to Meng Yao.

“Okay,” Meng Yao nodded as they started the exercise, “There are trees, lots of them,” he laughed, “A few small animals,” he added as Wei Ying was nodding. He was getting the same as well.

It was a little while later that Wei Ying stopped them. Looking ahead of them and a little off to the right, “There is someone fighting nearby, and it looks like they aren’t doing well at all,” he said as he looked at Meng Yao.

“What should we do?” he asked him, leaving what they should do next to someone that had experience with such things.

“Help,” he answered easily, “A-Yang, I need you to stay in a tree that we will be putting you in, okay. I need you to promise me that you’ll stay there for me until I come back,” he told the toddler in his arms.

“No, please, don’t leave A-Yang, please, be good. I’ll be good A-Niang, don’t leave A-Yang,” Xue Yang began to cry as Wei Ying made his way to a large sturdy tree and climbed it. Wei Ying took off his Jiang Sect Bell and held it.

“A-Yang, I will come back to you, I promise. I want you to hold this for me and keep it safe. It means a lot to me as my family gave it to me,” he told him, kissing his cheek before jumping down.

“A-Niang!” Xue Yang cried out but stayed in the tree.

Wei Ying’s heart was hurting badly with the cries of the toddler. Thinking that he would be abandoned and left alone again. But he knew that it wouldn’t be safe for him to be with them with what they were about to do.

“Come on, Let’s hurry and get this over with, I don’t want to leave him alone too long,” he said as he rushed to where the fighting was. He glanced at Meng Yao, “You stay back, attack with Fireballs and Wind Shredders,” he ordered.

Meng Yao nodded, grabbing the talismans that had already been prepared for this type of situation and hung back as he watched Wei Ying rush forwards. He moved quickly between the two cultivators that were taking on a large monster. He moved quickly, slicing at the monster as he activated his Kill Sight Technique, “Yao-ge!” he called out.

“Yes!” he answered back, shooting a couple of Wind Shredders towards the monster.

“When I slice at him, I want you to aim a couple of fireballs at that spot!” Wei Ying said as he found the weak spots of the beast.

“Sure!” he called back as he got ready.

The two cultivators that had been fighting the monster ran off before they did anything else to help the two that had come to their aid. Wei Ying didn’t even spare them a glance, except to tut in disgust at them as he moved closer. He aimed a strike at the weakest point that he had been able to determine. He rolled out of the way as he felt the heat of the fireballs fly overhead.

“I don’t think this is going to work!” Meng Yao called out, eyes wide as the fireballs barely made a dent in the monster.

“I know, but we have to do our best. A-Yang is depending on us!” he yelled back as he went to strike at another area, letting Meng Yao do the same thing again.

The two worked together as best as they could, striking and sending fireballs at it. They were starting to get a little tired. The monster just wasn’t going down, though it was beginning to slow down a little. It wasn’t stopping its assault on the two of them.

“Duck!” Wei Ying called out as the monster now aimed at Meng Yao. He watched as Meng Yao was able to dodge the tentacles that were lashing out towards the older teenager.

Wei Ying was about to try again, when someone came out of nowhere and attacked the monster from above, “Wow, nice!” Wei Ying grinned, wondering if he could incorporate that into his arsenal of moves. He then looked back and attacked another point, another couple of fireballs heading to it afterwards.

“Aim at that one spot with all you have!” the stranger instructed them, as he went and attacked.

“Not that one, this one would be best,” Wei Ying called out, as the fire of the last lot had caused the weakest area to really show to Wei Ying’s kill sight. Wei Ying went for it, the man listened to him and the two of them attacked at that point a few times. Really opening it up so that Meng Yao could blast it with as many fireballs and Wind Shredders as he could.

Finally, the monster stopped attacking and collapsed to the ground. Wei Ying moved quickly as he drove his sword home, pushing his spiritual energy into the blade and then slicing right through it, “Done,” he said as he finally felt it die.

“You’re good kid,” the man grinned at him, nodding.

“Thank you for the help. I didn’t think we would have been able to kill it without your help. Now if you don’t mind, I have to go and get someone,” Wei Ying said as he darted away and towards the tree where he had left Xue Yang. He reached the tree and soon heard sobbing. He climbed up, “A-Yang,” he called out softly as he moved near him.

“A-Niang, A-Niang,” he called out over and over again as Wei Ying cradled him in his arms. He climbed out of the tree and walked back to where the man was. Meng Yao on his guard as he stood nearby.

“Sorry,” he said as he held Xue Yang in his arms, still crying, “I had to put him somewhere safe. But he’s afraid to be left alone. So, I didn’t want to leave him for too long,” he said quietly, rubbing Xue Yang’s back as he tried to calm him down.

“That’s fine, your friend explained what was going on,” the man smiled, “I’m Feng Shouzhen,” he said as he introduced himself.

“I’m Wei Wuxian,” Wei Ying said, hiding a wince as he introduced himself. He wondered if he had been outed from the Sect properly yet, “This one here is Xue Yang.”

“I’m Meng Yao,” he said bowing to the man, “Thank you for the help.”

“Come on, we should take care of this and then we can see about setting up a camp or something a little further away,” he told the two teenagers, still smiling at them.

Wei Ying nodded and sighed in relief as the man had said nothing about his name. He began to help as much as he was able to in destroying the monsters. But with a clinging Xue Yang in his arms, it made it a little difficult. Soon enough though, the beast was nothing but ash.

“So where are you all heading,” the man asked them all.

“We’re thinking about pleading our case to the Nie Sect leader and trying to get in there,” Wei Ying answered him, being truthful as he added, “We both have Golden Core, though we’re trying to save up for Meng Yao to get a sword done at the moment. Little A-Yang here is just about to form his core as well. He’s been doing really well with the meditation at the moment,” he grinned, tickling Xue Yang a little, hoping it would cheer the toddler up a little as he was still in his arms.

“How old is he?” Feng Shouzhen asked them, a frown on his face as he didn’t think that a toddler would be old enough to form one at the moment.

“He’s three, though he should be four soon,” he answered as they walked towards a clearing near the stream that was going through that part of the woodland.

“Right,” the man nodded, still frowning as he looked at the child in the teenager’s arms. He remained silent as they walked through the forest a little more and reached the clearing. They began to set up the camp. Xue Yang followed behind Wei Ying as he moved around. Wei Ying made sure to send out a number of pulses around them. To make sure that there was nothing else that would be able to cause them a little trouble. Meng Yao started cooking as Wei Ying settled down with Xue Yang in his arms and Feng Shouzhen still watching how well they worked together without a word spoken.

Chapter Fifteen

Feng Shouzhen kept looking at the toddler, still not believing that he could have a core already being formed at the age he was. “Isn’t it dangerous to do so at that age?” he finally asked as they put away the food containers that they all had used for dinner.

“Not if you do it right, then it’s fine. I taught him how to do it himself. I used the same method to form my own Core and get it to the strength it is, and Yao-ge did the same,” Wei Ying answered him.

“You have a strong Core, I can tell that much when you were fighting,” he nodded at the teenager. He had been impressed with how strong he had been able to build it up. The man had guessed that Wie Ying was in his early teens, while the other looked to be about his mid-teens. He wasn’t tall enough to be in his late teens just yet.

“I’ve been training with it for the last four years, since I first formed it,” Wei Ying told him casually, shocking the man with how little time he had in training his Golden Core.

“I formed my own around three months ago,” Meng Yao smirked slightly. He was really pleased with how strong it had become. He hadn’t even been tried when using all those talismans. And while they didn’t take up that much energy to use them, he had used a high number of them during the fight. They would have to spend at least part of a day in making up the numbers again in case of another attack.

“You’re both incredible if that is the truth,” he said, a little sceptical at what he was being told.

Wei Ying grinned at him, “Think what you want. I know what I’m doing, and today, maybe I’ll even let A-Yang show you how it’s done. What do you say little one, want to show this cultivator how strong you’re becoming?” he asked the toddler that was still in his lap.

Xue Yang wiped his eyes and nodded, “Practice?” he asked him.

“Yes,” he answered.

Xue Yang nodded and finally climbed off Wei Ying’s lap to settle on the mat that had been put out for him. He settled down on it and looked at Wei Ying. A little smile on his face as he then closed his eyes and did what he had been told to do before. He began to pull in the Natural Qi around him. Moving it around and through his meridian and into his dantian a little. Settling a little part of the Natural Qi into it, he let it circle around a bit. Xue Yang gasped, his eyes flying open as he felt something different happen, he was scared.

“A-Niang!” he called out, dispelling the Natural Qi, but something remained behind this time. It was really small, but it was there.

“What is it A-Yang?” he asked, as he took the boy into his arms.

“Different, it was different,” he said, poking at his stomach a little, frowning.

Wei Ying gave a little frown and put his hand to his wrist. To feel for his spiritual energy. Wei Ying laughed and smiled happily at the toddler, “You have a Golden Core now. But it’s really small. So, you’re going to have to practice other things to make it grow now,” he told him, rocking him as Xue Yang cheered.

“Well done A-Yang,” Meng Yao ruffled the little boy’s hair.

“He’s really formed a Golden Core?” Feng Shouzhen asked them.

“Yes,” Wei Ying nodded at him, “You can check if you want to?” he suggested.

The man nodded, a little curious as to how it would feel in a child this young. He leaned forwards, “Is it okay if I see?” he asked the little boy.

Xue Yang tilted his head and then nodded, “Okay.”

He took Xue Yang’s wrist and started to check for some spiritual energy. His eyes went wide when he felt it. He followed it and could feel that little spark that was settling well into the little boy’s dantian. It was small, but he knew that if the young teenager was right. It would soon grow larger. He would be a very powerful cultivator if he trained right. He looked at Wei Ying, “That’s amazing,” he said, as he moved back.

“It is,” Wei Ying agreed as he let Xue Yang rest against him. It was getting late and the little boy was tired and starting to fall asleep.

“What about those cultivators that ran off?” Meng Yao asked the man, curious as to who they were and why they had even started a fight and not even stuck around to finish it.

“They were from a smaller sect. They had said that they could do the hunt that they were on, which was the monster that you were facing. But I got word from someone that they might not be able to do it. So, I came out here to help,” he answered them, “They were right, they couldn’t handle it,” he sighed, “Glad that I was able to help you two in finishing it. I’ll be reporting their actions as well since that will mean that they will face less work around the place,” he finished answering Meng Yao.

“Not good to cut and run,” Wei Ying said, thinking of what his Uncle would say.

“Exactly,” Feng Shouzhen nodded, “so, you said that you were heading towards the Nie Sect?” he asked the two teenagers.

“Yes, we are,” Meng Yao nodded, “I’m not really a cultivator. I’m learning what I can at the moment with A-Ying teaching me.”

“I’m a cultivator, and I don’t think I’m that bad of one,” Wei Ying said with a little shrug, “I just want to find a place that I can call home,” he murmured. He hadn’t felt at home in the Jiang Sect. He didn’t have the chance thanks to Madam Yu and what she was always doing towards him. Making things hard all the time. He never felt like he could relax while living there.

“A home does sound nice,” Meng Yao agreed with him, “But don’t forget, that if one of us doesn’t get accepted, then we will all be going,” he told Wei Ying again. It was something of a sore point between the two of them. Wei Ying didn’t want to keep dragging the two of them around, if he wasn’t accepted within the Nie Sect, then he wanted them to stay there. While Meng Yao didn’t want to leave Wei Ying alone. They were family after all.

“I’m a scout,” he said after a while looking at the two teenagers. “I can tell that you’ve worked hard on your skills. Considering that you took down that monster almost alone, you both have a lot of potential. You’ll need to get a sword though,” he added, as he looked towards Meng Yao.

“I know,” he nodded, agreeing with him easily. He really did need a sword and soon. He was having a lot of trouble trying to practice with Subian now.

“We’re slowly trying to save up to afford one,” Wei Ying said, wincing a little. He glanced at Meng Yao, “But it’s taking a while.”

“I can understand in doing so. They are expensive after all. Especially if you want to get a good matching spiritual weapon,” he told them both.

They looked down and nodded. Wei Ying knew that they were only going to be able to afford a low-quality spiritual weapon for now. But he was hoping that in time when they got good enough to take on the better night hunts, a better sword would be affordable. That they would be able to save up more and get a better one in time. It would be nice to be able to have a proper sword. Wei Ying had Subian, which was a top-class spiritual tool after all. He wanted the same thing for Meng Yao as well.

“We know they are,” Wei Ying sighed, “but it will take us a while to save up for a top-class weapon,” he added, glancing at Meng Yao.

“We were going to see about getting a lower level one that I can use and train with for now. Until we’re able to get strong enough to be able to take on the larger hunts,” Meng Yao added, smiling at Wei Ying, understanding why he had to take time.

“How about, since you helped to take down that monster, that I get you that sword. As I said, I’m a Scout. And since you mentioned the Nie Sect. I’ll tell you now that I’m from them. You both have a lot of potential and the way that you were able to get that little one to form a Core at such an early age, well, I know a lot of people that would like to ask for your help in teaching them,” he told him honestly.

“How can we trust you?” Wei Ying asked him, looking at him and the dual swords that he carried. “You don’t have a sabre,” he pointed out. He knew that the Nie Sect mainly used sabre and not swords like the other Sects.

“That’s because I was like you, I was on the road a lot and got taken into the Nie Sect. Which meant that I could keep with my swords and not have to choose the sabre. I of course remained with my swords,” he grinned, “Now, I can send them a letter and tell them about you,” he said as he reached into his robes and pulled out an official seal that glowed a little with the power of the Nie Sect for a second.

“A seal,” Wei Ying murmured, as he looked from it and then to the man, “Okay, so you are telling the truth. You really are part of the Nie Sect,” he said, shaking his head.

“What do you mean a seal?” Meng Yao asked, not having heard of them before.

“Scouts, when coming from the five major Sect’s will often find cultivators that are out and about. Like we are. They will talk with them and sometimes test them to see if they would be a good fit for their Sect. If so, the Scout will send a Letter of Recommendation to the Sect Leader and a date for when they should arrive at the Sect gates. The Rogue will also be given a letter to take with them. To present to the gatekeepers. It will have a mark of the seal on it. Showing that the Scout believes that they would be a good match and that they should be given a probation period with the Sect to see if they do fit in well or not. Usually between three and six months,” Wei Ying explained. He had heard Jiang Fengmian talking about them a few times. He had four that were looking around Yunmeng Jiang territories for potential cultivators.

“Exactly that. The Nie Sect Leader embedded some power into the seal. So, when I trigger it, it will glow to show that it’s the real thing,” he finished the explanation. “Now I can write the letter, but I’m going to take you to a nearby village here. It’s within the Nie Sect territory and it’s where our swords are forged. I think you’ll do better with a sword than a sabre,” he said to Meng Yao, “It’s something that we do for all those that will join our Sect. Even if they don’t stay. So, you don’t have to worry about it.”

“Are you sure? It’s a great expense to do for someone you’ve just met, and then to do it for someone that might not even be able to remain with the Nie Sect,” Meng Yao murmured, shocked that he would be offered such a thing.

“Yes, I am,” he smiled, “You both seem like good boys. Hard working and neither of you was afraid when you were fighting. You worked well together,” he told the two of them. He paused for a moment, “Why don’t you sleep on it, and in the morning, you can give men an answer,” he told the two of them.

“Right,” Wei Ying nodded, “I would appreciate that,” he said as he stood up, keeping the sleeping Xue Yang in his arms, “I’m going to settle this one into bed for the night,” he said as he walked towards the tent that he had Meng Yao had set up for themselves. Going inside, he walked over to the bed roll that was set out for Xue Yang and helped the very sleepy toddler to change into his bedclothes before tucking him into the blankets that were his. Making sure that he would be warm enough, he walked back out. Letting the flap close behind him.

“Tell us a little more about the Nie Sect?” Wei Ying asked him as he sat back down, “I want to know what I would be expecting when I go there, and what we should expect personally,” he said.

“Of course. It’s always a good idea to do a bit of research before you go somewhere,” the man laughed and nodded. “Right then,” he said, “As you should know the Sect Leader is still rather young. He’s just gone twenty at the moment. So very young compared to the others. He took over from his father four years ago. When he died unexpectedly. Though he had been doing most of the duties at that point already.”

“I know that much,” Wei Ying nodded, remembering what he had learned about the Nie Sect from the Jiang Sect.

“Good,” he smiled at him. He then went on to explain a little more about the Nie Sect and how they were run by Nie Mingjue. The man held truth, honour and justice higher than most things. He had a younger brother as well that was a little older than Wei Ying. They listened until they were yawning and had to get some sleep. Both of them still thinking and trying to decide what they should do next.

Chapter Sixteen

Feng Shouzhen looked at the three boys that were walking ahead of him. They had decided to take him up on the offer. He would take them to the village to get Meng Yao a sword. He would also be sending a letter to Sect Leader Nie and also give the three a letter of recommendation. He felt as though he had hit the jackpot with the two teenagers. Especially the younger of the two. He was smart and able to come up with different ways of doing things. And Meng Yao was a little older than Nie Huaisang and had been able to form a Core within a few months of being around the younger teenager. He had even managed to get it to a decent size for someone his age.

“Well, here we are,” he said as he walked towards the blacksmith that was located a little further into the village. It was little known that the Nie Sect accepted those that preferred the sword. Since they prided themselves on the Sabre Style so much. But that was the mainline Nie Clan that would do so. The Clan itself remained loyal to the sabre. Though most of the disciples brought up within the Nie Sect also used the sabre as well. Those from outside tended to use the sword. Or other such weapons.

“Thank you,” Wei Ying said as he followed him, Xue Yang was almost skipping beside him, holding his hand tightly. He was still clutching the Jiang Sect Bell tightly in his hand. Wei Ying hadn’t had the heart to take it from him after Xue Yang had told him it was to make sure that he would always come back to him. Though he wanted it back soon. He was thinking about getting something for Xue Yang as well. Something that will remind the toddler that Wei Ying would always come back to him.

“This way,” Feng Shouzhen said as he guided them around to the blacksmith, “Hey old man Liu!” he called out to the blacksmith.

“Well, if it isn’t little Feng,” the old man muttered, rolling his eyes as he walked out of the back room.

“Need a good sword,” he greeted the man, “A nice top-notch spiritual weapon if you don’t mind,” he told him, bringing out the seal.

“It is the young teen that I’ll be outfitting?” he asked as he glanced at the three boys that had followed Feng Shoushen inside.

“The eldest one. The middle teen already has a sword. A good strong one as well. The youngest one isn’t ready for one just yet. Though if the middle one has his way, he will be soon enough and we’ll be back,” he grinned.

“Right,” he muttered as he went over to Meng Yao, “Come with me, let’s see what calls to you,” he told him.

“What do you mean?” Meng Yao asked, frowning as he wondered what was going on.

“I have swords that are just starting to be formed. The spiritual being within them is there, and we’re going to see which one takes to you,” he told him, as he guided him out back.

Wei Ying smiled encouragingly at him and gave him a wave. He had never told the older teen how spiritual swords were made. They all started out the same, a lump of metal that would eventually be forged into a sword. But the spirit sword was special. A spirit makes their home within the metal before the sword is forged. They were then placed into a room, with several others that were just waiting. When a cultivator went into the room, a spirit would often find them, call to them and choose them. Then the spirit would help the blacksmith into the shape and form the sword would take. Even dictating a little on what the sheath would be like. Wei Ying’s own sword, Subian, was playful and energetic. Often causing Wei Ying to be the same. They were a good match and connected easily to each other. A good match could mean the difference between a strong and a weak cultivator.

Xue Yang began to look around, taking the time to look at the more intricate things that were hanging up or on show. Wei Ying followed him and found something a little like his bell. It wasn’t a spiritual tool at all, but it would do for Xue Yang for now,” A-Yang,” he said, as he picked him up, “Pretty?” he asked him.

“Mn,” he nodded, “Pretty like A-Niang’s,” he told him as he tapped on it. it didn’t ring very loudly, but it would make enough of a sound to make the toddler giggle and tap it again.

Wei Ying glanced at the price, glad that it wasn’t that much. He would be able to get it for Xue Yang, he felt a little bad that the toddler wasn’t getting anything today since it was Meng Yao’s day. Though it would take a while for the sword to be forged. The spiritual and the blacksmith would be communicating to tell how the sword would be formed. That was the secret between a blacksmith and those that forged the spiritual weapons.

“Wow,” Meng Yao said as he walked back, eyes wide, “That was…”

“Breath-taking, amazing, never knew that finding the right sword would be that cool?” Wei Ying laughed, as he had said something similar when he had found Subian and connected to him for the first time.

“Yeah,” Meng Yao nodded, “They were quiet, so much knowledge as well, and well,” he shrugged, giving Wei Ying a bit of a pointed look. He understood. Subian was the same, there was a darker side to Subian, once which Wei Ying could tap into and become that little bit stronger and quicker. Not many swords had that same ability. Jiang Fengmian had been shocked when the forgers at Yunmeng had said so to him. Jiang Cheng’s didn’t have that darkness attached to it. There were only three swords that had that, made within the Jiang Sect. Jiang Fengmian’s sword was one of them. As was one of the top Senior Disciples that Jiang Fengmian trusted, and then Subian.

“It will make a fine weapon. It will take me around a week to forget it, so I would find a place to stay for a while,” the blacksmith told them.

“Oh,” Wei Ying said as he picked the bell that Xue Yang was still patting and giggling at it, “I’m playing for this,” he said as he saw the man open his mouth about it.

The blacksmith nodded his head, “Sure, it’s three silver pieces,” he told him.

“Thank you,” he nodded, knowing that was about right for that kind of work. He pulled out the small pouch he kept on hand. The large amount of money they had was spread between himself and Meng Yao. They each carried a small purse of money in case they needed it and weren’t together at any point. He handed over the pieces and gave the bell to Xue Yang, “A-Yang, you have to look after this one now,” he told him gently, “It’s all for you,” he said as he then took his own Jiang Sect Bell back and tied it to his sash again.

Wei Ying could feel the questioning eyes watching him as he put the Bell back where it belonged and wondered if they were going to try and question him about it. He hoped not. He didn’t really want to talk about what happened at the moment. He had only just been able to tell Meng Yao about it. It still hurt about him leaving the Jiang Sect. He missed his Uncle, Jiang Yanli and Jiang Cheng as well. He knew that he always would. He had wanted to write them a few times. To tell them what he was doing and how he was. But he didn’t dare, just in case, they would come for him. He couldn’t go back, no matter what. He would never be there with Madam Yu there. He would visit, maybe, if she was gone, but until then he would stay away.

“Right,” Feng Shouzhen said, seeing the uncomfortable look on the teens face, “Let’s get you all set up at the inn for the week. I need to carry on,” he told them all as he looked over at the Blacksmith, “Put it on the Nie tab as always,” he grinned.

“I know,” he nodded his head, “I’ll see you back here in a week,” he told the three boys again.

“We will be,” Wei Ying smiled as Meng Yao was still grinning beside him. The older teen was excited about having a sword that would be his own. He could feel that Subian wasn’t happy about him using him. The spirit within only allowed it because Wei Ying had asked them to.

“Thank you,” Meng Yao said to the blacksmith bowing to him before leaving with the other. “And thank you for doing this,” he added to Feng Shouzhen as they walked towards an Inn.

“You’re welcome, so come on,” he smiled at them, “There’s an Inn here where those from the Nie Sect will stay. I also need to talk to someone about the two that had taken on the hunt. Since it was from this town that they did it,” he added as he walked the three into the Inn.

“Feng-ge!” a young man said as he looked up from the counter he was manning, “Ah,” he smiled, “Another few ducklings for the Nie Sect?” he asked as he frowned when he saw how young they actually were, “Young,” he murmured.

“I know, mostly I take up those that are a little older,” he said, knowing he actually meant Xue Yang in that comment, “But the other two are already cultivators, though one is without a sword at the moment. Getting that sorted now. They’re going to be your guests for the next week at least,” he added as he went over to the counter to speak with his friend, “So, two rooms,” he began to say.

“We’ll be alright with just the one room,” Meng Yao said, “A-Yang doesn’t like being away from either of us for too long. He gets a little scared that we’re going to leave him behind,” he added, as soon as the two rooms were mentioned. The little boy had reacted and grabbed for Wei Ying and Meng Yao as though to claim them as his.

“Alright,” he nodded, “One room. I’ll give you one of the larger ones then,” he smiled at the three.

“Thank you,” Wei Ying and Meng Yao said with a bow, “Sorry for being annoying with it,” Wei Ying continued.

“It’s fine. It’s not like it’s a bad request at all,” he laughed lightly as he booked them in and led the way to the room on the second floor, “This will be yours then, breakfast is early. The times and that are downstairs if you want them.”

“Thank you,” Wei Ying said, as Meng Yao took Xue Yang over to one of the two beds, letting him sit on it. Wei Ying would be sharing the bed with the toddler as they tended to when they stayed overnight in an Inn for the rare occasion.

“Welcome,” Feng Shouzhen said, “Now, I’m going to be in the town for a little longer.”

“Are you going to be telling someone about the cultivators?” Wei Ying asked, he wanted to know how things worked for Qinghe. He knew how things were for Yunmeng.

“I am,” he nodded, “You want to come?” he asked, seeing the smirk on Wei Ying’s face as the other nodded, “Okay, come with me then,” he said as he guided him out of the room. Leaving Meng Yao and Xue Yang at the Inn, though Xue Yang cried a little before Wei Ying was able to leave.

“Hey,” a young man greeted him as they walked into an official-looking building that was near the centre of the small town. Wei Ying had noticed that there was something like that in most of the towns and villages that he had been through within Qinghe territory. The Jiang Sect had something similar as well. Though it was the Nie Sect flag that was outside of it.

“Reporting about the hunt that the two from the Lin Sect took on,” he said softly as he walked over to the desk.

“Yes?” he asked, “What about it?”

“They didn’t finish the hunt, this young teenager and another one showed up to help. They ran off before the monster could be defeated,” he answered him, giving him a few more details about what happened.

“Right, the Lin Sect will now be barred from single hunts. They will have to team up with other sects to do so until they can be trusted to finish them,” he sighed, making the notation that would be sent around the area so all offices would be informed, “Reward will be split three ways,” he then added as he nodded to an assistant to do so.

“What about if they can’t finish a hunt because the monster is too powerful?” Wei Ying asked the clerk.

“They were asked several times if they were capable enough to take on a High Ranked Hunt. They also gave their rankings within their Sect and were deemed strong enough to fight and defeat the monster without issue. If it had proven too much, they would have been supplied with flares, which would have called other cultivators in the area to help them with it. Then Hunt would still be complete,” he answered him easily.

“Right, thank you for that,” he smiled at him, “I’m going to go back to the others. Need to make sure Xue Yang isn’t annoying Meng Yao too much,” he grinned, knowing that the younger liked to play up for the eldest in their makeshift little family. Feng Shouzhen nodded and let him leave as he waited for the reward to be counted out. He split it up, preparing to drop the two portions at the Inn as soon as he had done so and then send out the letter to the Nie Sect.

Chapter Seventeen

Wei Ying looked at Xue Yang who was clinging onto him once again, with all the strength in his tiny body. He had taken on a small Night Hunt. Something that he would easily be able to do himself. Feng Shouzhen had left them the day before, having been called away to attend to another Night Hunt elsewhere that needed a few extra bodies for it. Wei Ying had also been able to get a little bit of work around the town as well. Though he hadn’t thought that he would be able to get anything since a Major Sect and several smaller ones were nearby. They would have normally snapped up all the helping shops and such to make sure that their premises would be kept safe from various things.

“A-Yang,” Wei Ying said as he pulled him off and knelt, “I know that you want to come with me, but I’m going on a Night Hunt, and I can’t take you with me. I need you to stay here with Yao-ge,” he told him gently as he smooths down the disarrayed hair on the toddlers head.

“A-Niang,” he cried, “Don’t leave A-Yang, please don’t leave,” he begged, trying to wrap his arms around Wei Ying’s neck so he wouldn’t be able to go anywhere without him.

“A-Yang, stop now,” he said, getting him to calm down for a second from the sharp command, “I know you want me to stay, and I would love to stay as well. But I need to leave on a Night Hunt. I will be back in a few hours at the most. But you and Yao-ge have to stay here,” he told him, shaking his head and capturing the hands that were trying to wrap around him. “I love you A-Yang, and I won’t leave you, I promise. I just have to work sometimes. So, I will need to leave you behind for a moment or two,” he told him gently, sighing as he let the young toddler finally wrap his arms around him. Wei Ying hugged him tightly, “I will never leave my A-Yang, my little baby,” he cooed, rocking him in his arms as he stood.

“Never?” Xue Yang sniffled as he hugged him tightly, still scared to be let go.

“Never. I may need to leave for work sometimes, but I will always do everything I can to come back to you,” he promised him, as he finally pulled him away and quickly handed him to Meng Yao before the toddler could tray and grab him again.

Meng Yao took him into his arms, patting his back as he looked at his brother, “I’ll keep a good eye on him, make sure he doesn’t try to follow,” he smiled as Wei Ying nodded at the both of them.

“I’ll see you both really soon,” he told them, smiling as he walked out of the room and down the stairs. He nodded towards the Innkeeper that gave him a quick wave. He only had a small Yao to take care of, and it was something he had done a few times on his own. He walked out of the inn and headed for the main exit of the town. He soon took to the air. Flying towards the area that had been indicated on the map. It wasn’t far, which was why it had an urgent note on the Hunt File.

It took Wei Ying less than an hour to deal with it and to return to the town. He walked to the office and told him the results. That the Yao was taken out and he had burned the remains. Getting the reward money for it was nice. He liked the towns that had the offices in. It meant that he would actually be paid for taking on the hunts. Unlike the smaller village that would often pay cultivators in goods, bed and board for a night or two, in exchange for doing such things. Most villages were not rich enough to pay well, or at all, but were often the places that needed the most help.

Wei Ying took his time going back to the inn. He stopped at a stall and grabbed a few sweets for Xue Yang, to let him have as a treat. He just hoped that he had been behaving or Meng Yao while he was away. He knew that Xue Yang was a good boy most of the time. But he had latched onto Wei Ying from the moment that he had saved him. And sometimes, when Wei Ying had to leave him with Meng Yao, he would play up a little, enough for them to have to scold him.

Wei Ying smiled as he heard giggling coming from the room as he stood outside of the closed door. He opened it and smiled even more as he saw the small energy animals that were rushing around the toddler.

“A-Niang!” he yelled as soon as he glanced at the door to see who it was. He jumped up from the floor and rushed over to him, wrapping his arms around him and holding him tightly, “You came back!”

“Of course, I did,” he smiled back as he swung the toddler up into his arms, “I promised you I would,” he reminded him as he walked fully into the room and out Subian into the holder near the bed. He turned and kicked the door closed.

“Did it go well?” Meng Yao asked him as he got rid of all the creatures around him.

“It did,” he added as he glanced over at him and walked towards the bed.

“That’s good,” Meng Yao smiled, relieved that he was unharmed.

“Was our A-Yang a good boy while I was gone?” he asked, looking at the toddler.

“A-Yang was good,” the toddler nodded furiously, “I was really good, Yao-ge was showing me all the animals. Can I learn how to do so?” he asked, a little pout on his face.

“I would have tried to,” Meng Yao said, “But I didn’t know if it would have been a good idea,” he told him as he sat down at the table again.

Wei Ying sat on the bed, Xue Yang settling on his lap, “It would have been fine,” he nodded, “I tended to do so back there as well,” he smiled softly, a little sad. He missed the children at Lotus Pier. “And since A-Yang has been a good boy, I have something really special for you,” he said as he pulled out the little bag of sweets he had brought, “You can have one now and one more after dinner. And no more,” he told him, sternly, knowing that he would try and beg later.

“Okay,” he grinned, as he held out his hand. A moment later a small piece of candy was put onto his palm. “Thank you,” he giggled as he put the candy in his mouth, almost bouncing as he ate it.

“Don’t do that,” Wei Ying warned him gently.

“Hmm,” he nodded with a hum as he settled against Wei Ying.

“Do you want to start teaching him things?” Meng Yao asked, a little frown on his face, “I know that you’re eager to do so.” Meng Yao wanted to help teach him things as well. Though he didn’t know what he could teach him.

“You carry on teaching him his words and such,” Wei Ying said, “I think we should get some of those little books that kids have. I think it would be nice to start teaching him a little more,” he said, frowning, “And maybe something to do with music. I know you said that you can play a couple of instruments,” he added.

“I do, I can play the guqin a little and the Xiao, though I’m not really that good at both of them, just about enough to entertain patrons in the brothel,” he said, wincing a little.

“A little is more than nothing, I myself can play the dizi, but that’s it,” he told him, “And maybe we’ll be able to find someone to teach you as well, and you can teach A-Yang,” he smiled.

“Maybe,” he sighed, “I just feel like I don’t really add anything to what we can teach him,” Meng Yao told the younger teen honestly.

“Yao-ge,” he said, shaking his head, “I don’t think this would have been as much fun without you here. I was alone, and you’ve become someone really important to me. You’re family, as you said, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. You’re learning cultivation. But maths, reading and writing, you can still teach him that, along with the music. There are things about manners that I don’t have, that you do,” he smirked, “And, your calligraphy is a lot better than mine. I’m a scribbler,” he laughed lightly.

“But you can teach him those as well,” he pointed out, looking over at him.

“But you would do better,” he pointed out, “Look, teaching cultivation is easy to me. Learning all the calligraphy… it’s not. You’ve seen my writing, it’s not exactly good,” he sighed, “You would teach him better. I only learned how to read and write a couple of years ago. Sometimes I don’t know what something will mean sometimes. Even though I read a lot, there are times when I am confused over a word, as I don’t know what it means. I will have to ask someone at times,” he reminded him.

“So, I really could teach him, and maybe even help you?” he asked, sounding timid.

Wei Ying smiled and nodded, “Yes, you could teach the both of us. We both know my manners aren’t good. I’ve been called rude a lot over the last few months. While haggling is fine, the rest… Well, I learn by watching you,” he told him.

Meng Yao smiled back, feeling a little better, “Should we head down to the courtyard to get some practice in?” he asked, feeling the need to do something rather than sitting around in their room.

“Sure,” he nodded, picking up Xue Yang and then grabbing Subian, “Another few days and you’ll be able to have your own sword to practice with. Oh, and what name have you given it?” he asked, curious as to how his brother would name his sword.

“You’re going to have to wait and see,” Meng Yao smirked as he got up. The three of them went down to the courtyard. It had been set aside so that those that wished to practice their sword forms could do so without having to find a place outside of the Inn or even doing so in the streets. It was also a good hub for the cultivators to come and find work. Especially the rogue ones.

“Right,” Wei Ying said as he handed over Subian, “Let’s go through the basic forms and then go through the Baoshan ones,” he said as he moved to the side, letting Meng Yao take over the centre of the yard.

Xue Yang watched before he tugged on Wei Ying’s robes, “A-Niang, I want to learn too,” he said, pouting as he pointed towards Meng Yao.

“Okay,” he nodded, turning back to watch as Meng Yao went through them, with little input from Wei Ying now.

“You did really well,” Wei Ying told him after he finished going through the basic forms twice, “Your grip was good, but you twist your wrist a little too much on the last two. You need to try and stop that,” he smiled, praising him and giving him some feedback.

“Right, I’ll go through them again,” he nodded as he settled back into the beginning stand and went through them one by one. This time he paid attention to what Wei Ying had told him.

Wei Ying watched and nodded as he went through them, with the same speed but this time, his wrist didn’t twist too much, but just the right amount, “That’s good,” he grinned as he fell out of the last stance at the end.

“Right, onto the Baoshan ones,” Meng Yao nodded as he began to go through them. They were a bit tougher to go through. The movements were even sharper than the basic ones. And the movement didn’t just keep him in one place but moving all around the training yard. Wei Ying corrected as they went with this set, and then spent the rest of the day going over them before going to find Xue yang a small wooden sword so he could practice with it as well.

“A-Yang,” Wei Ying said as they made their way back to the Inn for dinner, “Tomorrow, I will be teaching you the two beginning forms,” he smiled.

“Really?!” Xue Yang yelled, looking up with a bright smile on his face as he waved the little wooden sword around. While it wasn’t a real practice sword, the wooden one would do for him for now. Mainly to get him through the basics. He was still young after all.

“Dinner and then an early bed for us I think,” Meng Yao said, he had noticed how Wei Ying seemed to be trying to keep himself awake. It wasn’t that late, but he had no doubt that the young teen had worked hard on his hunt to be able to get it over and done with so quickly.

“Yeah,” Wei Ying smiled at him tiredly, as he stifled a yawn again.

They walked into the inn and ordered their food. It didn’t take too long for it to arrive, and for Xue Yang to make a bit of a mess of himself as he ate. Meng Yao kept him as clean as he could while trying to educate him on how he should be eating. Wei Ying getting a look from the older teen to start eating properly as well. Wei Ying rolled his eyes, but sat up straighter and did his best to set an example for the toddler. Wei Ying smiled as his little family enjoyed a meal together.

Chapter Eighteen

Meng Yao was almost bouncing as he walked. He was excited to be able to get his sword. The young cultivator had been looking forward to this since the moment that Wei Ying had mentioned about him getting one. Though, he had thought he would just have a simple sword at first. Not even a spiritual one, but one that he would be able to carry on learning with and fighting alongside Wei Ying with.

“You need to calm down a little,” Wei Ying laughed, as he watched his older brother. It was nice to see him so happy and eager about something.

“Maybe,” Meng Yao smiled brightly as he calmed himself down and started to walk normally, instead of the bouncing around he had been doing. He was a little embarrassed that he had done something like that.

Wei Ying laughed, “You don’t have to hide all your excitement. I know I was when I got Subian. I couldn’t even think of a name. In the end it was Uncle Jiang that decided on one when I told him to call it whatever,” he smiled, loving what his Uncle had done in the end.

“Where are we going?” Xue Yang asked as he waved his little wooden sword around again. He was trying to mimic what he had seen Wei Ying and Meng Yao had done with Subian. Though he wasn’t getting it quite right.

“We’re going to get Yao-ge’s sword. It’s ready for him now, so he can practice with that,” he told him, smiling.

“When will I get one?” he then asked, a pout forming on his face as he wanted a sword of his own.

“When you’re as tall as me,” Wei Ying told him.

“That means I have to eat the vegetables,” he grumbled and then looked up, “Will I have to give up sweets? Yao-ge said that they will make me short if I keep eating them.”

“You can have a few every now and then. But you won’t be able to eat them all the time,” Meng Yao told him, a smile on his face as he glanced down at him.

“Okay,” Xue Yang nodded, grinning at the thought that he could still have sweets. He stopped and frowned as he looked between the two teens, “I want to be really big though. Like Yao-ge and not A-Niang,” he added.

“Yao-ge is taller than me because he’s older than me,” Wei Ying told him as he knelt and tapped the toddler’s nose “Now, let’s carry on,” he smiled as she stood back up, taking Xue Yang’s hand and walked to the Blacksmiths.

“So, I’ll have to wait for ages then?” Xue Yang pouted at having to wait at all to be tall enough to have a sword.

“Just a while longer,” Wei Ying told him as they entered the blacksmiths.

“Ah, you’re here,” the blacksmith nodded as he looked at the three of them as they walked in.

“Hope I’m not too early,” Meng Yao said as he walked over to the counter, a grin on his face.

“You’re right on time,” he chuckled, “Come on, with me,” he said as he gestured for the older teen to follow him.

Meng Yao nodded to the man and then smiled back at Wei Ying before following him. Wei Ying waited in the shop, letting Xue Yang look around at the things on display, though he made sure to keep him from grabbing anything. He didn’t have to wait long for Meng Yao to come back. In his hand was a sword, the sheath of which was a forest green with a few silver embellishments around it. The hilt was much like the sheath, almost like Subian in that respect. He could see as well, that the name was etched into it.

“Thank you,” Meng Yao turned to the man and bowed. Wei Ying and Xue Yang, with only a little prompting, doing the same.

“Thank you,” the two added.

“It will serve you well,” the man told Meng Yao, “Take good care of it,” he smiled.

“I will,” he nodded, eager to try and go through the forms. He knew that he would have to adjust a little to the new sword. It was a little heavier than Subian was in his hand.

The three of them walked out of the blacksmiths and headed back to the inn. They would be leaving the next day to make their way to Qinghe. Wei Ying had the Letter of Recommendation within his qiankun pouch. He still couldn’t believe that he actually had one. He never really thought he would have to go to another Sect after living with the Jiang’s. He thought he might end up as a rogue as he got older. He realised that his life wouldn’t be changing much at Lotus Pier if he remained there.

“Can I go through the sword forms before lunch?” Meng Yao asked as he brought his new sword up and looked at it again.

“Of course,” Wei Ying smiled, “And maybe when we’re out on the road, we can see about setting up a spar or two against each other. it’s easier to teach you how the forms work together as a style when you’re fighting someone. Going through them is all good to get down the muscle memory. But how to actually use them can only happen when you spar a lot.”

“Right,” he nodded. He had seen some of the things he had been learning in the fight that Wei Ying had against that monster the week before. But he hadn’t understood how he had been able to put them all together, as each form had been in a different order to the one that he had learned.

“Come on,” Wei Ying laughed, “We can go through them,” he told him, and then looked at him, “So, what have you called it?” he asked.

“Rongshen, (1)” he said softly, “because all My life, I wanted to find a place where I would fit in. To find a home. And now, I have one,” he said as he looked at Wei Ying, “You and Xue Yang are my family, my home,” he smiled softly.

Wei Ying smiled back, “That sounds right,” he nodded as they reached the Inn. They went straight to the courtyard so Meng Yao could start practising with his own sword.


They left the town the next day. Meng Yao walking proudly, with his head held high for the first time since Wei Ying had met him. Normally the older teenager would try and hide himself behind Wei Ying as they travelled through towns and villages. Only relaxing a little more when they were out on the open road. But this time, he was walking beside him, Xue Yang between the two of them. Wei Ying couldn’t help but notice the difference in him as they left. He was no longer the young man that didn’t know what he was in life. Now he was a cultivator, a true one, with a sword and a Golden Core.

“Right, so are we going to be heading straight to Qinghe?” Meng Yao asked him. One hand held Xue Yang’s hand and the other his sword.

“Yeah,” Wei Ying answered, “I know that it’s still warm at the moment. But the weather is going to really start turning soon,” he said, “And we’re further north as well. So, the Weather will get colder that little bit quicker,” he added, remembering what he had been told about the climate and weather patterns for the other Sects.

“Good, I was hoping we were. I really want to get there and see if they would let us stay at all,” he smiled, “I know that you want me and A-Yang to remain there if they don’t accept you. But you do know that we won’t be.”

“Not leaving A-Niang,” Xue Yang said as he looked up, listening to what they had been talking about. He had heard them several times that he might be left in Qinghe, that he would be able to have a family. But to him, he already had one in Wei Ying and Meng Yao. They were his A-Niang and Gege.

“But if you have a chance to have a family-” Wei Ying started, being cut off when Xue Yang yanked his hand out of his.

“Already have family, A-Niang and Gege,” he huffed. “Not leave family,” he told the two of them.

“The child has spoken,” Meng Yao chuckled, as he saw the look on Wei Ying’s face, “We’ll be okay, no matter what happens. We’ve saved up a lot, enough for us to even find a small place to live and be able to work from there,” he told him.

“I know, but I want to be in a Sect. I want to find a home as well, but… to me that’s in a Sect,” he murmured. He knew that it wasn’t logical. But one of the few things he remembered about his parents was his father missing his family at Lotus Pier. That he wished he was there sometimes. He loved to travel with his wife, but Wei Changze had also missed his brother and those he had left behind when he and Cangse Sanren had been chased from Lotus Pier.

“We’ll find a place,” Meng Yao reassured him, “We may have to keep looking, but we will find one soon,” he smiled, “A small Sect could do with us as well. We have a vast world after all,” he reminded him.

Wei Ying nodded and smiled back at his brother, “Yeah, we do,” he said with a nod as he took Xue Yang’s hand again and began to walk along the road.

Wei Ying stopped them for the night and got Xue Yang to do a little meditation while he set up a small spar with Meng Yao. Xue Yang listened to them when they told him not to move from where he was. He knew, even though he was young, that he could be hurt if he moved too close to them. After his meditation, he settled down to watch the two teenagers as they spared a few times against each other.

Meng Yao was breathing hard as he looked up at Wei Ying, who was still standing. Meng Yao had ended up on his arse more times than he could count during the small sparring matches. But each time he learned a little more, was a little faster in his movements, the way his body moved, putting into practice the things he had been learning.

“You did really well for the first time that you’ve fought against someone,” Wei Ying smiled as he held out his hand and helped him to his feet. “You need to speed up your reaction times, but that will come to you more as you carry on learning like this. It helps to bring everything into alignment. So, you know which move to use against certain things,” he said, wincing a little, “I’m really bad at explaining things like this.”

“But you’re best at showing me,” Meng Yao told him as they made their way over to the camp.

“I’m better at that, yeah,” he laughed as he sat down on one of the ground mats that surrounded the small fire that they had built.

“You were so awesome,” Xue Yang exclaimed, “I want to be just like you!” he giggled as he climbed into Wei Ying’s lap. He looked up at the face behind him and asked, “A-Niang, show me animals, want to learn, please?”

“Okay,” he nodded, shaking his head with a soft and fond smile on his face, “Now,” he began to explain it to the toddler. He watched as Xue Yang concentrated as hard as he could. With a little help and guiding him with his own Qi, Xue Yang slowly formed a ball.

“It’s a ball, I wanted a cat,” he pouted, looking sadly at the little white ball of energy in his hands.

“But this is how I started A-Yang,” Meng Yao told him gently.

“So, I’ll get better?” he asked, head tilted to one side.

“You will,” Wei Ying promised him, a smile on his face as Meng Yao got up to start cooking dinner for the three of them, using the animals that they had caught while they travelled.

“Good, I want to be the best,” Xue Yang said with a nod, almost headbutting Wei Ying on the chin with the move.

Meng Yao laughed at them from where he was kneeling next to the fire, “You’ll have to listen to everything that we tell you to do. If you do, I’ve no doubt that you will be the very best.”

“You will, I’ll teach you everything that I know,” Wei Ying promised as he cuddled the child. He wondered if this was what his parents had felt like when he was little. That they wanted to spend forever with him this small and teach him everything that they could think of. He sighed a little and shook his head to get rid of the melancholy thoughts. He started to teach Xue Yang a little more on how to bring out an energy cat as Meng Yao turned back to the fire to cook.

(1) Rongshen – Meng Yao’s sword, means To find a home/a place to fit in.

Chapter Nineteen

They were around three days away from Qinghe, maybe four, as they had to slow down a little bit at one point. Wei Ying stopped a moment as Meng Yao did the same beside him. Both of them had been sensing and had found something before them. It didn’t take long for them to hear the noise of fighting. Wei Ying and Meng Yao shared a look and the younger of the two shot off to help. Leaving Meng Yao with Xue Yang. Wei Ying reached a small clearing, there were four men being up another that was on the ground, covering himself as best as he could.

“You should die, you’re nothing but a worthless piece of shit and do nothing but cause us all trouble!” one man yelled as they kicked the prone man.

Wei Ying moved quickly, kicking him away instead, brandishing Subian, he stood there, almost protective over the man that wasn’t fighting back, “Anyone else wish to try and attack a downed man?” he asked them, the things that they were shouting, were more bullying remarks than any sort of crime that the prone man had done.

“I’d be careful who you are protecting if I was you. That man is nothing but trouble, we had to drive him from the town. He even harmed his own parents and the people around him,” another spat as he looked back at the armed teenager.

“If that was the case then you would have asked Qinghe for help in dealing with him,” he told them bluntly, knowing how things like that worked. “And since you’re doling out justice on your own. Something about it stinks,” he growled, as he settled into his stance even more, ready to move at a moment’s notice

“Leave him,” the one that was in charge spat, “There’s nothing else that we need to do, he’s away from the village now and that’s all that matters, someone else will take care of the rest,” he added, glaring at the teen. Though he was not willing to face the sword that was there, none of them were armed.

“Yeah, let’s go, leave that bastard to rot,” another added, smaller than the others as the four of them turned and began to run away.

Wei Ying watched them and then looked down at the man, he could see that he was hurt. He sheathed Subian and knelt, “Hey, it’s safe now,” he smiled reassuringly as he looked at the man.

“Please, don’t… touch me,” he said, gasping a little as he slowly uncurled and brought his hands up and tucked them away.

“Of course, I won’t, not unless you let me,” he smiled as he then looked up, “Yao-ge, A-Yang, it’s safe to come out now,” he called out to the two that were hanging back and watching from the safety of the tree line.

“We should set up camp, I think that the tent should be fine to house us all for a while,” Meng Yao said as he went over to him, “We’ll need to treat your injuries. We’re not the best at it, but it should be enough until we can get to a place where you might find a healer,” he added, seeing that the blood was now seeping through a number of slashes in the clothes the man was wearing.

“I’ll… I’ll be fine,” he said, as he went to get to his feet, “But thank you,” he added. He wasn’t even able to fully stand before he fell back down to the ground, groaning at the pain that radiated from his injuries.

“Look, don’t try and be brave about it, at the moment you’re hurt. You need some help. Asking for it isn’t a shame, or anything like that,” Wei Ying told him, reaching out, only for the man to jerk away, half terrified of being touched.

“They… they were right. I did… hurt my parents, I didn’t mean to touch. I don’t know why I can do that,” he said, almost panicking as the three were too close to him.

“What are you talking about?” Meng Yao asked as he joined Wei Ying and knelt near him.

He brought his hands out from where he had hidden them closer to him and looked at them, “They… they can hurt you, destroy your core and it will never be able to come back. You’ll never be able to be a cultivator again,” he said, voice shaking. He waited for them to dart away from him like so many others had done in the past.

“Right, then we’ll be careful, but that doesn’t stop the fact that you need some help,” Wei Ying told him, a little shocked by what he had heard. He had never thought anyone could do such a thing. But then again, he didn’t know that many cultivators outside of the Jiang Sect.

“I can… I can control it now. But they don’t want me anymore. They wanted me gone, so they chased me out. I don’t… have a home anymore,” he said softly, looking away from the three children.

“Neither do we, each of us are orphans or are as close as you can get to it,” Wei Ying said, snorting a little as he thought of Meng Yao’s situation.

“My father doesn’t want me, he’s a cultivator. I’m the son of a prostitute. Xue Yang was left on the streets when he was nothing more than a baby after his mother died. We don’t know anything about his father. As for Wei Ying, he thought he had a home and was then chased out of that,” Meng Yao said softly as he looked at him and then turned towards Wei Ying.

“None of us have a proper home, but we’re trying to find one again, want to come with us?” Wei Ying asked, smiling.

The man looked at them and slowly he nodded, “I… will, thank you,” he smiled softly.

“Good,” Wei Ying grinned, “I’m Wei Ying, courtesy Wuxian,” he introduced himself.

“I’m Meng Yao, no courtesy name,” he smiled.

“And this is Xue Yang,” Wei Ying added as he looked down at the little boy clutching his sash once more.

“Hello!” the toddler waved, grinning at him.

“I’m Zhao Yun, courtesy Zhuliu, nice to meet you all. And thank you, for letting me join you,” he smiled as he turned to look at them, only to wince as he was reminded that he was injured.

“I’ll start setting up, A-Ying, you’re better at the healing thing,” Meng Yao said, getting up and pulling out a qiankun pouch. He got to work setting up the tent while Wei Ying helped Zhao Zhuliu to sit up and put the right pressure on his injuries before quickly helping Meng Yao

Xue Yang looked curiously at the man, “Can you make animals?” he asked him, moving closer.

Zhao Zhuliu looked confused and shook his head, “No, I don’t think I can,” he told him, “Why don’t you tell me about them?” he asked instead, wondering what the child was on about and hoping to be giving a little clue as to what they were.

“I can, A-Niang taught me. He taught me a lot, watch,” he said as he went over fully and sat before him on the ground. With a look of concentration on his face, he tried to make the cat that he loved to see so much. It took a while but a tiny cat no bigger than his palm was formed. It glowed a warm yellow as he dropped it onto the ground and it sat there, looking at Zhao Zhuliu. Xue Yang hadn’t been able to make them move yet, but forming was already an impressive feat of Qi Control.

“That is amazing,” Zhao Zhuliu said, eyes wide as he glanced from the tiny cat to the child.

“A-Niang said that it will help me build my core and make me strong like him and Yao-ge,” he grinned as he turned to see what they were doing.

“It will,” he nodded as he watched the child for a moment and then turned towards the two teens. He wondered why the toddler called one of them A-Niang. It wasn’t what he thought a teenager would be happy being called after all.

“Done,” Wei Ying said as he walked over to them, “Come on,” he said as he reached out to the man, this time, he didn’t shy away, but allowed Wei Ying to help him up.

Meng Yao came up on the other side and helped Zhao Zhuliu to where he had just started a fire, “I’ll grab some water, there is a stream not far from here,” he said, “Then, I’ll let A-Ying clean and bandage the wounds. It might not be the best job that we can do, but it will help at least until we get to Qinghe,” he added as he helped him sit down.

“Thank you, and whatever it is that you can do it fine. I… never really expected anyone to want to help me as soon as they learned of what I can do. most would just run away from me,” he murmured, looking down at the ground.

“We’re not like most,” Wei Ying grinned as Meng Yao headed out to get water.

“I can see that, and,” he began, but paused, “Why does he call you A-Niang?” he asked, curiously.

“A-Niang is A-Niang,” Xue Yang said as he poked at the little energy cat that he had made, “A-Niang, why won’t it move?” he asked, looking at Wei Ying.

“Because you haven’t shown it how to with your energy yet. I’ll teach you how to do that later, all right,” he said to the toddler, who huffed but nodded. He then looked back at Zhao Zhuliu, “And he calls me that because he heard in a village, we were going through that a mother is someone who gives cuddles and loves you always. That helps you with everything and keeps you safe,” he said, a smile on his face as he looked down at Xue Yang who had crawled into his lap and settled himself down.

“A-Niang is A-Niang,” he nodded again as he looked at the man. He stared at him for a moment, tilting his head, “You are Zhu-Zufu,” he grinned.

“I’m a grandfather,” he blinked, looking down at the toddler, “I’m not that old yet, titch,” he told him, snorting as he shook his head.

“Older than A-Niang,” he giggled, “You really old,” he laughed brightly.

“He’s a brat,” Zhao Zhuliu said, shaking his head.

“He is, but he’s our brat,” Wei Ying laughed just as brightly. Meng Yao soon came back with the water and boiled it as Wei Ying moved Xue Yang to tend to Zhao Zhuliu’s injuries.


The next day they took the camp down and began to explain to Zhao Zhuliu what they were doing, and where they were heading.

The man nodded, “To get a recommendation letter is a really big deal. They don’t actually hand them out very often,” he said as he looked at the two teenagers. Xue Yang was yawning as he was carried on Wei Ying’s back. The toddler had almost thrown a temper tantrum when Meng Yao had tried to pick him up. He had a nightmare during the night, about being left alone again. They didn’t happen often, but when they did, he didn’t want to let go of his A-Niang at all for the entire day.

“I know,” Wei Ying said, nodding a little, “They are given out to those that are seen to be a potential asset to the Sect. That they will be able to work well within it,” he finished.

“Yeah,” Zhao Zhuliu nodded, “Impressive, not many teenagers are taken into a Sect. They mostly scout out rogue cultivators and try and bring them into a Sect. Or search for young children that may be able to adopt the Sect’s Style better.”

“We got lucky,” Meng Yao said, Wei Ying, murmuring his agreements.

“We did,” he sighed, “We’ve got a few days before we get there if I calculated it right. So hopefully, you might be alright with them. I know that we can’t do much for your injury at the moment, but maybe someone there would look at it,” he added glancing at the older man. The wounds weren’t that bad, but one of two of them still needed some proper care, otherwise, they wouldn’t heal properly at all.

“It should be just fine, I’m not exactly a weak cultivator. My Golden Core should be able to handle helping me to heal a little more,” he told them.

“Maybe so, but if they aren’t treated right then they will heal a lot slower to make up for it,” he pointed out. Knowing that was how his back was for a time after he had left the Jiang Sect. It had taken him until just after he met Meng Yao and for the older teen to help him clean them each night for them to actually heal up fully.

“It will still be fine in the end,” he said, trying not to worry them, but the man could tell that it wasn’t working at all.

“We’re hoping that we might be able to find a home in Qinghe, and maybe it will be fine for you to join us as well,” Meng Yao told him.

“We’ll see. Not many will want me around, and I can understand that. As a child, I didn’t have any control over my ability. And I harmed a few people that got too close to me back then. My dad was one of them. He was… he was a great cultivator and I took that from him,” he said softly, “He was never the same after that. He kept away from me, and so did my mother and brother. They left me alone all the time. I would often end up Night Hunting alone, occasionally bumping into someone, but most avoided me as soon as they learned who I was,” he told them. He sighed as he looked into the distance, he missed his family. He still loved them and he understood their fear.

“We’ll be family now Zufu,” Xue Yang mumbled as he did his best to follow the conversation.

Zhao Zhuliu smiled a little as the others laughed.

“Well, as he said, you can be our family. We’re a little miss-matched, but I think that’s just fine,” Wei Ying grinned at him.

“Hope you don’t mind that,” Meng Yao added, chuckling as he saw the small look of surprise on the other’s face. Meng Yao and Wei Ying had talked a lot during the night while Zhao Zhuliu and Xue Yang had been asleep. They both could tell that the man was a good one, strong and moral. They wanted to help him like they had helped each other and Xue Yang.

“I… I don’t mind,” he said, “Though,” he muttered as he held back a little and poked Xue Yang on the check, “Please stop with the Zufu, I’m not that old.”

“Nope, Zufu is Zufu,” he replied cheekily as he added, “Hush now, sleepy.” The murmured words caused the two teenagers to laugh as Zhao Zhuliu sighed and shook his head. He would just have to deal with it and try and change the toddler’s mind later.

Chapter Twenty

Jiang Cheng looked at his father as they travelled through another village. It had been the same for the last couple of weeks. Going from one village to another. Talking to the people around it and asking about a young cultivator, a teenager. So far no one really had anything to say. But then again, most people wouldn’t say anything about a young cultivator that was travelling alone. Not because they hadn’t seen one, but more because they were protective of the younger cultivators that were alone. Making sure that they could be kept safe from those with bad intentions.

Jiang Cheng had realised that it meant that something could have happened to Wei Ying when they were alone and without help as they travelled from village to village. They reached another village. This time they were hoping to find someone that would like to help. They walked towards an inn and asked for a room. They were going to be staying at least the night since it looked like it was going to rain heavily during it.

“Do you think Wuxian will be alright?” Jiang Cheng asked his dad as the first drops of rain pattered against the wooden structure as they reached their room for the night.

Jiang Fengmian looked at his son and smiled, “Yes I do. Even if we don’t find him, I know that he’s going to be just fine out there. He’s been through a lot, he knows how to take care of himself. Better than we can. He also learned a lot with us as well.”

“I know, he made sure we all knew how to hunt small game and he even got the oldest ones to learn how to hunt game as well. And some larger game,” he said, thinking of all the things that Wei Ying had taught them over the time he had been head disciples.

“And how to skin them, to preserve the fur and to get all the meat that you can off an animal,” he chuckled, “I know, I taught him a few things when he first arrived at Lotus Pier. He told me he wanted to learn those things before he learned anything else in case he was ever stuck out in the wilds alone and with nothing on him.”

“He taught me about a year ago. He even got A-Jie to do the same,” he nodded.

“I’m glad that he taught you. But I do miss the lost opportunity to do the same with you and your sister,” he said, a small sad smile on his face.

“Yeah,” he smiled at his dad, “But, I bet there are other things that you can teach me, right?” he asked him.

“There are, and I plan to use this trip to do so. I had hoped we would have the chance to do this next year. But a year early is just fine,” he smiled as he quickly hugged his son. Letting him go before Jiang Cheng could even react properly.

“Why… Why didn’t you hug me like you always do to Wuxian?” he asked him, finally finding the courage to do so.

Jiang Fengmian sighed heavily, “I used to do so a lot. But you often told me to stop. That you didn’t like it at all. You… you asked me to stop, so I stopped.”

“I do like it,” he murmured, looking down, “I only said that because I thought that you didn’t really like me. Because I’m like her, and if you don’t like her then you shouldn’t like me,” he said, thinking of his mother.

“I love you A-Cheng, I’ve never stopped loving you. I have done since you were placed in my arms for that very first time and you curled your tiny hand around my finger. How could I not want to hold you and hug you all the time? But then you started to push me away, and after a while, I thought you didn’t like me anymore,” he told him gently as he wrapped his arms around his son and held him. He hugged him tightly, “You know, there were some things that I was going to wait on teaching you. But I think we should do them all now, while we have this freedom,” he smiled as he slowly let him go.

“That… that would be nice,” Jiang Cheng smiled at him, a true smile. There was no anger behind it, like there often was.

“Now, shall we go around the village and see about asking a few of the people here if they’ve seen our A-Ying?” he asked him.

“Yeah, though we might get a bit wet, but… that’s easily solved,” Jiang Cheng chuckled as his dad laughed, “So yeah, let’s go,” he said as he took the lead and headed out of the room first.

Jiang Fengmian looked at him proudly as he followed him. Jiang Cheng led them down to the inns first floor and the dining room area. He walked over to one of the men sitting at a table alone and asked if he had seen Wei Ying.

“I’ve not seen a teenager travelling alone,” he answered, glancing at the two of them warily, “I’m sorry.”

“Alone?” Jiang Cheng prodded, “Dad, do you think he would have found someone to travel with?” he asked, turning towards his father.

Jiang Fengmian thought for a moment and shook his head, “I don’t think so,” he said, as he looked at the young man, “Can you tell me about the teenagers that were travelling?” he asked him.

“There were two of them, they came through a while ago, maybe two months ago. They helped out here, using talismans to fix a few things around here. Doing a couple of Night Hunts as well. They were very close, said they were brothers,” he told them.

“Brothers,” Jiang Cheng murmured, frowning, a slight pang of hurt in his chest at the thought of his brother, or Wei Ying replacing him so easily. He looked at the man, “Did they… did they look alike at all?” he asked, hoping that they didn’t. He hoped that they didn’t, as it might mean that it was Wei Ying.

“They did a little. But then again, I wasn’t around them much, they had stayed at another inn,” he told him, “Look, they weren’t any trouble at all. They helped out a bit here and there, and then left. They were only here for a day and a half,” he told him, shaking his head.

“No, they’re not in trouble at all. As long as they’ve never done harm to anyone,” Jiang Fengmian said, smiling reassuringly at the young man.

“I’m looking for my brother. He went missing a while ago and we’re trying to find him,” Jiang Cheng told him earnestly, “He’s around my age, a little bit taller than me, but not much. He looks like he always had a grin on his face,” he said as he did his best to describe him.

“It does sound like him, but as I said, he was with his brother,” the man told him, “You can ask around the village a bit. One of the two were older, slightly taller. Though the both of them were smiling a lot, and were very happy to help people,” he added. He paused for a moment, “The only one had a sword. But I don’t know who it belonged to as they both carried it at times,” he sighed, sorry that he couldn’t help them.

“Thank you for the information,” Jiang Fengmian said, as he turned to his son and ushered him away so they could talk.

“Father, do you… think it could be him?” he asked, hoping the answer would be yes.

“I don’t know A-Cheng. A-Ying… wasn’t one to trust other people easily,” he sighed, “He normally wouldn’t travel with anyone. Even on the Night Hunts that he went on, I had to make sure that there were people that he would trust on the teams. Otherwise, he would often refuse to go. Though he was starting to relax a lot more,” he told him, remembering the few times that Wei Ying had refused to go with those he wasn’t sure about.

“You mean that he wouldn’t really travel with someone else?” he asked, hope was still in his heart, but it was fading fast.

“No, he wouldn’t. Not unless he trusted them, and I know that can sometimes be rather hard for Wei Ying to do. He tends to have a good instinct about people,” he told his son, “But we’ll keep looking around, we won’t be giving up. We’ll follow this up and see if we can’t learn more about these two brothers,” he told his son, reassuring him.

“How long… how long will we be able to be out here for? I know that we’ll have to go back after a while,” he asked. He hoped that it would be long enough to find his brother. He really didn’t like the fact that he didn’t know where he was or if he was okay.

“At least another month,” he answered him, seeing the angry look appearing on his son’s face. “I know that you would want to stay out here for longer to look for him. But I do have a Sect to run as well,” he told him softly, “And there are things that you can learn as well,” he pointed out to him. “You need to be strong enough so soon, you’ll be able to come out here and look for him with another disciple while I carry on looking after the Sect,” he added, hoping that would give his son an incentive to learn and to calm down.

“But that could take years for me to be strong enough to come out here on my own,” he exploded, hurt that his father wasn’t going to be looking for Wei Ying for that long.

“It might, but we both know that Wei Ying will be just fine. he is a strong young teenager, just like you,” he told him, placing his hands on his son’s shoulders, “Look, A-Cheng, I would love nothing more than to carry on searching for him until he was found. But with your mother doing as she did. I… I can’t trust her around the Sect for long. A-Li is strong as well, to go against her, but even that won’t last forever with how your mother is. She will try something again,” he explained, hoping that it would help to calm him down.

“I need to find him, he… he protected me from her dad,” Jiang Cheng told him, “He stopped her from whipping me because I… stood up to her.”

“I know he did, and he did well to protect you,” he sighed as he pulled him into his arms, rubbing his back. He hated to leave the search as much as Jiang Cheng was. But he knew and understood that this time, Wei Ying was more prepared for a life away from the protection of a Sect. Unlike when he was a small child, who had just lost his parents.

“I worry,” he murmured.

“I know, now let’s go and ask around before we come here and wait for the rain to stop,” he told him, “I want to take you into the forest for a bit of training,” he smiled, “may as well do something a little practical while we’re out here.”

Jiang Cheng looked up at him and nodded, “Okay,” he agreed, sighing as he was let go.

The two rushed around the village, talking to everyone that they could. The talismans that they found were just generic ones and the writing wasn’t Wei Ying’s. It had saddened the two of them when they had learned that. They had hoped to see if it was Wei Ying that had travelled through with the writing. Knowing that he was one of the best in the Jiang Sect when it came to talismans.

The rain eased and after they dried and changed, they went out to the forest nearby. Beginning to train his son is some of the moves that only the Jiang Clan would learn. Jiang Fengmian started him with the basic movement of the sword, his bell in his other hand. Jiang Cheng watched as he used his Qi to make his bell hover in the air and then hit it with his sword. There was an intense wave of Qi rushed out of the bell and around the area. Jiang Cheng could feel it as it froze him where he stood.

“Wow,” Jiang Cheng said, eyes wide as he could finally move over to his father.

“It’s a method that can be used by those that have enough Qi to do so. As it takes quite a bit. Though I know that you’ll be able to do this with all the training that you have been doing with A-Ying. Especially since you have linked yourself to all the Jiang Sect Bells.” he smiled.

“I’ll do my best to learn,” Jiang Cheng nodded, promising. Jiang Fengmian smiled back as he began to teach him how to put a little Qi into the Jiang Bell so that it could be used to freeze people or low-level monsters and beasts for a short period of time. Jiang Cheng soaked up the attention and the lessons that he was learning. He wondered if this was something that he would be able to teach Wei Ying when he came back to the Sect.

As the afternoon quickly passed the two of them headed back to the inn to have dinner. They walked back and settled down at the inn, smiling as they talked a little over their meal.

“I heard that the two of you were asking about two young children?” a voice said from behind him. It was growling, almost dangerous sounding.

“Yes, but we’re looking for my adoptive son,” Jiang Fengmian said, as he looked up at him, “He’s the only son of my brother. But he went missing a couple of months ago. I just need to know that he is all right,” he told him.

“Right,” he nodded, though it was obvious to them all that he didn’t believe a word that the Jiang Sect Leader had said.

“I know that there were two teenagers that came through here. I don’t believe that one of them was my son, so we’ll be moving on tomorrow,” he told him.

“Okay, just be careful when asking about children,” he warned them, still not believing them as he turned and left.

“That was… odd,” Jiang Fengmian said, a little frown on his face as he watched the man leave.

“Do you think that they are in trouble?” Jiang Cheng asked, suddenly worried for the two teenagers that were alone.

“No, I think that the village just wants to protect them. That man is called an Enforcer, one that looks out for trouble around the village. You can usually tell as they tend to have a short sword on them. Not a spiritual weapon, just a normal one,” he told him.

“Okay,” he nodded, still a little wary. The two finished their dinner and headed out for a walk around one last time since they would have to leave the next morning.

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I found fandom in the late '90s and never stopped reading or writing, I just found other fandoms to wander into.

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