Written by Tinalynge & Blue Jay
Beta read by OEE
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Meanwhile, in a different part of the Academy, within a relatively luxurious house, Jiang Yao was sitting on a sofa in front of a young man with loose white hair and black eyes.
The white-haired youth looked around sixteen years old and wore black and white robes. Surprisingly, the material they were made of was also one of the exclusive fabrics offered by the Royal Cloth shop – Yin and Yang Satin, woven from a different type of silk thread than the clothes Luo Xiao wore.
The white hair on the youth had a shiny luster to it, a sign that it was natural and not due to age or over-exhaustion. His expression was rather neutral though his inner feelings were partially betrayed – confusion, alarm and a tad of dissatisfaction. If one looked closely, they would find that his facial features looked very similar to Jiang Yao’s and it was obvious that the two were closely related.
That youth’s name was Jiang Bai, the youngest, Ninth Prince of the Demon Empire!
With an emotionless smile on his face, Jiang Yao twirled a jade slip between his fingers as he looked at the young male. “Little Brother, I have a request for you.”
“What is it?” crossing his arms, Jiang Bai stared at Jiang Yao with a tinge of apprehension in his gaze. There was no way that whatever the strongest of his brothers wanted was simple or without conditions.
Just like the Sixth Prince, Jiang Bai had claimed neutral, but he was too young to have a faction or influence of his own aside from the status of the Ninth Prince. He did have a small group of followers and a palace but for the time being, he was considered too weak to have even a chance for the throne. Therefore, those who had the throne as their goal almost completely overlooked him.
Even Jiang Yao almost overlooked him until he remembered that said ninth brother of his studied at the Academy. Worried that someone would go and harm his Xiaoxiao since various factions clashed regularly in the Academy, Jiang Yao had practically crashed at the spacious residence Jiang Bai occupied to get his youngest brother to…
“My dear Xiaoxiao has just enrolled in the Academy. I want you to protect him.”
Jiang Bai’s eyes opened wide at the nickname Jiang Yao had for Luo Xiao and even wider at the request to protect him. “… What?”
He couldn’t hide his bafflement and confusion. From what Jiang Bai knew, his Seventh Brother was a cold-hearted person who cared for nobody and even the lovers he had had in the past were meaningless. There was no way that said Jiang Yao was asking him to protect someone.
“Seventh Brother, you are strong enough to protect him yourself,” the white-haired youth quickly calmed down. He wasn’t that inexperienced as to be unable to control his emotions at all.
His denial wasn’t unexpected to Jiang Yao whose smile widened a little, his head tilting to the side a bit. However, to Jiang Bai, that smile seemed more menacing than nice.
“Little brother,” he looked the white-haired prince straight in the eyes, “I just want you for the time being to accept him in your little academy faction. Right now, Xiaoxiao is too weak to protect himself…”
“No,” Jiang Bai almost immediately shook his head, standing up from the sofa he had been sitting on. “Seventh Brother, I will not. Take your leave.”
Just as he was turning around to leave Jiang Yao alone in the spacious room of the house, an aura of extreme coldness spread out from Jiang Yao whose voice, now cold and showing his innate cruelty, reached him. “I never said I would accept a no for an answer, little brother.”
Almost immediately, Jiang Bai used his own qi to form a barrier around himself, trying to defend against the wave of coldness as he turned around to stare fiercely at Jiang Yao. However, the difference in their cultivation was worlds apart – there was no way his barrier could withstand that frosty energy which was already causing ice to form inside the room.
That smile which stood on Jiang Yao’s lips was ruthless. “Either you do it willingly or I will find a way to force you to do it. Hurting those closest to you is always a way to force you in submission, isn’t it?” An almost murderous gleam flashed through his eyes, making a shiver run down Jiang Bai’s spine.
The man in front of him was the real Seventh Prince indeed – decisive, merciless and colder than a block of ice. There was no mistaking that. And Jiang Bai knew he only really had one choice.
“… Fine, Seventh Brother,” he quietly muttered through clenched teeth, his body shivering under the coldness stemming from Jiang Yao.
Instantly, Jiang Yao’s cold aura disappeared, the coldness fading away from the room and the icy layer on the floor and walls melting into nothingness. “That would be great, Little Brother. I’ll be taking my leave then… Oh, and his full name is Luo Xiao.”
With an almost warm smile, Jiang Yao left the house. Once outside, he rose up in the air, momentarily looking back in the direction of the main square. “I’ll see you later, Xiaoxiao,” he thought to himself before disappearing.
Jiang Bai on the other hand almost collapsed back on the sofa, his breathing heavy and a dissatisfied look in his gaze. He, the Ninth Prince of the Demon Empire, was being ordered around by his older brother! If any of his followers saw that they probably would immediately renounce him.
“And who the hell is this Luo Xiao anyway?” he muttered to himself, almost wanting to completely forget about the encounter yet that smile of Jiang Yao’s remained imprinted in his mind, it being everything but warm.
At least the request wasn’t something ridiculous like finding a Moon Anise in two days. Jiang Bai’s hand ran through his white hair as a sigh left him. One could wonder how surprised he would be if he ever found out Luo Xiao had actually eaten a Moon Anise…
Meanwhile, Luo Xiao was finishing his meal in the restaurant. Since he had paid for the food with his white card, those few who had tailed him had found out he was actually a student just like them!
But who was he then? Of course, they could go ask him but it was better to be careful – there were all sorts of crouching tigers and hidden dragons at the Academy.
Unaware of their thoughts, Luo Xiao left the restaurant, his cards safely in his storage pouch. The sun hadn’t set fully and the last traces of oranges and reds were dying the tops of the buildings and trees almost as if they were on fire. It was really a beautiful scene and Luo Xiao couldn’t help but stop momentarily to just admire it.
As the sun fully hid behind the horizon, Luo Xiao sighed to himself before heading towards his residence. He could somewhat remember the road already and as he passed by the signs pointing where was what it was fully engraved into his mind. The people tailing him also followed but gave up as soon as he entered his little house.
After all, without direct permission from Luo Xiao, they had no way of entering that house. However, the rumors of where he lived and his demeanor spread rather quickly amongst students and by the morning a majority of those studying at the Academy would know of the mysterious youth living in the accommodations given by the Academy.
Of course, Luo Xiao was unaware of that at the moment. He felt tired – the day had been more eventful compared to the previous days spent at Jiang Yao’s palace. Sighing to himself, Luo Xiao decided that he would go check out what lectures were offered since he had to attend at least one (*please check) per week.
Of course, at the moment, the prospect of laying in a bed and sleeping was more attractive than anything else as he walked into one of the bedrooms and rather unceremoniously fell on top of a bed, his arms spread wide.
Quickly, he drifted off to sleep, but a thought lingered deep inside of him – he found himself missing Jiang Yao’s warmth as he had gotten used to the two of them sleeping together…
The morning seemed to come rather quickly as the bright sunlight shining on Luo Xiao’s face forced him to open his eyes slightly, shooing away the sleepiness as he proceeded to rub them.
“Where am I…?” a trace of surprise and mild fear flashed through him as he momentarily couldn’t recognize where he was until the memories of the previous day finally popped up in his mind.
The Cloudsoar Royal Academy, in the accommodations given to him by the Academy. Of course he wouldn’t recognize it immediately, he shook his head.
With that said, Luo Xiao decided to take a bath before leaving his new home. He actually didn’t know that once someone became a cultivator they could use their qi or soul energy to cleanse themselves, completely voiding the need for a bath.
Dipping in warm water was still the best, though – even if Luo Xiao found himself struggling momentarily as he couldn’t quite figure out at first how to get the warm water. He had never done it alone after all.
Once the bath was over, he put on his white silk robes and pinned his hair in a hair bun on top of his head using the hairpin Jiang Yao had bought for him months prior. It was a truly beautiful decoration, finishing his look of a refined and pure young man.
And with that done, he left the building, once more heading towards the main plaza of the Academy. Compared to the evening there were indeed far more students around and with that – far more curious gazes focused on Luo Xiao. Still looking as curious and before, Luo Xiao looked around, noting down any signs he had missed previous evening – signs such as “Herb Garden”, “Arena”, “Training Grounds”, “Skill Library” and what not else. The library one piqued Luo Xiao’s interest, after all, he was quite lacking when it came to skills, one could even say he didn’t know any at all!
Aside from spreading out his soul energy to perceive the world and Twilight’s Blessing, Jiang Yao hadn’t taught him anything. However, instead of heading in that direction, Luo Xiao crossed the main plaza, heading towards a large signboard located in the center. His movements were followed by a large number of curious looks, some from the people who had tailed him the previous night.
“That’s him, right?” someone whispered to another as Luo Xiao approached the signboard.
“Yeah! But I wasn’t able to find any information on who he is! Look at his clothes though, that’s the most expensive silk from Royal Cloth!”
“What if he is like, the Tenth Prince?” a third whisper joined in tentatively.
The second voice almost laughed out loud at those words. “There’s no chance!”
Luckily, Luo Xiao was too far to hear them – or he would have probably laughed at the words himself. Him, Tenth Prince? That was so ridiculous that he would find it impossible to imagine. Then again, being the lover of the Seventh Prince was almost as ridiculous that it didn’t even cross the minds of the other students who were whispering amongst each other.
Luo Xiao’s gaze read through the list of lectures one could attend. There were lectures on topics such as breaking through cultivation bottlenecks, basic and advanced herbology, pill concocting, war and strategy, training and taming of beasts, battle training, history, inscriptions and scrolls and what not else one could think of. The poor Luo Xiao found himself completely at a loss as to what to choose, standing almost dumbfoundedly in front of the board.
That was until a charming and youthful female voice broke him out of his stupor. “Having trouble choosing?”