Back in the cave, Shi Yan was asleep on his bed.
“Little boy… wake up”, the old man’s voice was deep, soft but impactful. He shook Shi Yan, trying to wake him up.
“Hmmm, what?” Shi Yan opened his eyes slowly, when his eyes fell on the old man, he immediately jumped up. Perspiring, “Old man… um… I will lead you to the foxes… just hold on”. Giving an unwilling smile, he tries to win over the old man, hoping he doesn’t do anything to Shi Yin.
“*sigh* little boy, I’m not sure who you are but where did you get this?” The old man showed a Black Rock on his hand.
Unable to comprehend this strange situation right now, Shi Yan was stupefied but slowly regain his composure “Well, it’s from my parents. That’s what I’ve heard.”
Shi Yan unconsciously looked down at the vase and muttered “Li En”.
The old man’s expression grew dark. He lost his composure, no longer having the same dignity as before, he pleaded “Little boy, do you know your parent’s names?”
“Um… No” Shi Yan was confused as he blankly looked at the old man.
“What is your name?” The old man was now even more distress. He seemed to be in a hurry.
Even in a confused state, Shi Yan could feel the old man’s eagerness. Thus, he answered quickly but softly “Shi Yan. My name is Shi Yan”
The old man was no longer in a rush. His expression changed from desperate to confused. “Who gave you your name?”
“I don’t know… I only heard from Li En that my name is Shi Yan…”
The old man’s expression was now solemn. He figured something out. Muttering to himself, “This is truly fate… karma has not abandoned me after all!” his eyes became moist “All these years… Finally… “.
The old man kept silent for awhile. Shi Yan dare not move. His belief that this old man being insane intensified even further. Especially after seeing his bipolar reactions. Finally, the old man spoke “little boy… I mean Shi Yan, from now on, you must call me n…”. Shaking his head, he corrected himself “master. From now on, you will address me as your master!” The old man expression changed yet again. This time, he became dignified again.
Shi Yan’s head was just blank. In spite of this, He instinctively looked for Shi Yin. Maybe it was instinctive, or maybe it was a habit, nonetheless, he wanted her to comfort him, at the same time, he wanted to check if she was safe.
Shi Yin had her neck tied up with a rope, held by the old man. She was not moving out of fear. Afraid to startle the old man.
“Shi Yan, how old are you this year?”
“This must truly be fated… *sign* alright! You must not have eaten for quite awhile now. You are probably hungry”. He touched his ring and some fruits appeared out of thin air. Tossing the fruit to Shi Yan, he said “here”.
Holding onto the fruit, Shi Yan bit into the fruit, he was devouring it like a hungry beast. With only half of the fruit left, he stopped eating. The old man understood Shi Yan’s actions. He immediately cut the rope on Shi Yin’s neck and threw her onto Shi Yan’s lap. Both Shi Yan and Shi Yin were perplexed by his action. Why is he treating us so nicely all of a sudden, they thought.
Looking at those surprised facial expressions on their faces, the old man chuckled “Shi Yan, there is no need for you to be afraid. Like I said I’m your master now, and you are my apprentice. Personally, I don’t like the fox to be so close to you. But, I am willing to close an eye. Either ways, you have no choice but to be my disciple.”
“Shi Yan, do you believe in fate? It is fated that I meet you, such, it is your fate to meet this fox. Who knows what the future lies. However, you should now be aware that you can no longer be a bystander in our world.” The old man’s eyes became serious “Do you know why that crystal scorpion was there? I believe you already knew it was lurking nearby that’s why you decided to come here. You hoped that I would be distracted by it, so that you would be able to take the fox away. However, you underestimated my abilities.”
Shi Yan surprised that the old man saw through him to such an extent. It was scary.
“You should know that if you are going to keep the fox next to you, be prepared to face more demonic beasts.” The old man warned sternly. “Anyways, you should feed your fox beast crystals instead of real food”. He took out a rough crystal from his pocket. The crystal was about a fist’s size. It was translucent brown, with a faint glow in the middle. “This is the beast crystal of that crystal scorpion.”
The old man threw the beast crystal to Shi Yin but she did not catch it. Instead, she began to curl in Shi Yan’s lap and pretend to fall asleep. “A cheeky one aren’t you… Shi Yan, give the demonic crystal to her. Make sure she eats it. That will be you first task for the day. Afterwards, you can tidy up this room. We will stay here for awhile.”
We? Stay? This old man is serious! He really plans on taking me as his disciple! Well I guess it’s fine if we are both alive… Argh, this is so frustrating! If what he’s saying is completely true, then how am I going to protect Shi Yin…
I looked down at the cute little fox, pretending to sleep. Caressing her, thinking what am I going to do… Well it’s certain that I cannot run away from this man. He also doesn’t seem to want to kill Shi Yin anymore. Maybe its alright to be his disciple… Not like I have much of a choice…
Before Shi Yan could speak, the old man flashed out of sight.
Shi Yan whispered, trying not to alert the old man “Shi Yin, he’s gone. You can wake up now”.
Although Shi Yin knew that the old man was gone, she did not move. Instead, Shi Yan’s pants grew moist. She was silently crying.
Is she feeling guilty about what happened? This little fox…
“Shi Yin, don’t cry, don’t cry, you did nothing wrong. I’m not hurt or anything. So you shouldn’t feel bad okay?”
Shi Yan’s words had no effect as Shi Yin continued to cry.
Looking at her, Shi Yan’s heart ache. He carried her in his arms and lied down on the bed. Due to his sudden movement, Shi Yin was stunned. She temporarily stopped crying.
Looking at her eyes, Shi Yan started to caress her, kissed her head and whispered “Shi Yin, you may blame yourself but I will never blame you. You may think of running away to keep me safe, but I will search for you. To me, nothing is more important than you. To keep us safe I will get stronger.”
After hearing his words, Shi Yin let out a soft and long cry “eeya~h”. She doesn’t want to leave Shi Yan, doesn’t want him to get hurt because of her. However, now, she knew they were inseparable. She needed to be stronger to be with him, to protect him as how he will protect her. At least, she didn’t want to be his burden.
Shi Yin stood up, walked to the crystal and started to munch on it. Her tears were still flowing but it was now not purely filled with sadness and guilt.
Off in the distance, the old an could still hear them talk. “*sigh* to think that I‘d meet him here… fate has truly played a cruel joke. Those two will continue to experience more hardship as long as they are together. Even if I want them to separate, they are already inseparable. Their karmic fate are intertwined such that I cannot change it. I suppose I can only support them.” He looked up into the reddish sky. “They will need to grow-up fast to survive…”
The adorable fox fell asleep after eating. Shi Yan gently pecked her on the forehead, and prepared to start cleaning the room. This time, he took some of the remaining bandages to clean the place.
Well, Shi Yin no longer needs these bandages. They could be used if either of us gets injured in the future, but both of us hates the feeling of getting wrapped up…
Shi Yan let out a sigh; he walked to the waterfall and began soaking up the bandages. Afterwards, he began diligently wiping the cave.
~After an hour, the whole cave was clean.
Shi Yan was exhausted. He looked out of the cave to see if the old man was going to return. However, he could not last 5 minutes before heading back to the bed, snuggling with Shi Yin and fell asleep.
~ Morning, the next day,
“Wake up, we are going to head out.” The old man spoke with a dignified manner. For some reason, Shi Yan and Shi Yin immediately woke up after hearing him. His voice was clearer than before, more impactful than before.
Seeing both of them wide awake, the old man grinned. “If you are wondering why my voice has changed, that’s because I’m currently using Qi. Either ways, you will learn how to do it in the future. For now, just wash up and get prepared. We are going to the core of the demonic mountain.”
Hearing those words, Shi Yan starts to sweat. Hey. Hey, hey! We just survived a demonic beast attack and now, we are going to go and find more?
Not giving Shi Yan a chance to regret following him, the old man laughed “ *Wakakaka* No worries! I can take care of those weaklings! Besides, that little fox needs more demonic beast cores to grow but that’s not the main reason why we are going there.”
“Hurry up, I’d like to reach in an hour”
What? An hour? That’s impossible! The inner area is 200 kilometres away! I can’t even imagine how far we need to travel to reach the centre! In an hour? It’d be impossible for a person to reach there in a month even with a steed.
The old man gave no further explanation. He just waited.
After Shi Yan and Shi Yin were done washing up, the old man immediately hugged both of them on each arm and started to fly away.
“whaaat?” Shi Yan exclaimed
“*kakaka* boy, you thought that it was impossible to reach the core area in 1 hour right.” Grinning, he continued “you’d probably thought I was crazy right?”
“well, no matter, I won’t blame you. You are a smart kid, sceptical and cunning. These mind-sets should not be developed for someone your age. However, they are beneficial for the world you are about to enter. As your master, I will train you to survive in this world.”
Shi Yan gulped down. He could guess what kind of world he was joining but he had to confirm his suspicions. He softly asked “what is this world?”
The old man gave out a proud chuckle, and gave a dignified answer. “The path of the Martial Arts. The Path towards the great Dao! And finally, the path towards being an Immortal!”