Written by Tinalynge & Blue Jay
Edited by ONI_Ghost
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The following morning Luo Xiao once more left the room. After freshening himself up and dressing in another set of clothes then eating breakfast, Luo Xiao once more left the residential area and moved towards the herb gardens.
It was the same clerk sitting behind the desk as the day before, and his eyes still showed disgust when looking at Luo Xiao.
Although, Luo Xiao was unaware of what might have caused the entire academy to be so hostile towards him, he didn’t care too much.
“Am I going to finish weeding the Thousand Jade Sunflower field from yesterday?” Luo Xiao asked with a calm and collected voice.
The clerk gave him a glance, and although, he wished to trash him, he nodded his head. “You have to clear the rest of the field today if you want to get your points,” he said with a sinister smile on his face, his words causing Luo Xiao to frown.
“Are you sure, or are you trying to make this personal?” Luo Xiao asked. Although he was the one who had picked to deal with the herbs, he wasn’t willing to be bullied by just anyone. Yesterday he had worked hard the entire day, but he hadn’t even managed to get a third of the field cleared. If he had to clear the rest in a day, it would be simply impossible.
The clerk was stumped when he heard the question, and he seemed as if he had been caught doing something wrong, but there was no guilt to see in his expression.
“I am in charge of the herb fields, so what I say is how things are. If you want to earn your twenty points, then you have to clear the rest of that field today.”
“In that case, find someone else to do it,” Luo Xiao said. He hadn’t turned aggressive or annoyed, he just spoke casually and calmly. Although, he was annoyed with the behavior of the clerk, he had long since prepared for others to bully him.
The reason for his bullying was different from what he had expected. He thought he would be bullied as he was a country bumpkin from the distant Jinwei village in a backwater kingdom, but it seemed as if he was being bullied because Jiang Yao’s younger brother disliked him.
Luo Xiao knew that if he contacted Jiang Yao, then everything would be solved, but he wasn’t willing to leave the academy to go look for the older male.
He wasn’t willing to complain about Jiang Bai, neither was he willing to concede defeat. He would keep living and he would prove himself.
This thought was lodged in his mind. He would prove himself, and he would get stronger and stronger, able to let Jiang Yao rely on him as well.
Since he was going to become strong support of Jiang Yao, then he needed to be able to deal with small matters such as being bullied by himself.
He also knew that although no one knew he belonged to Jiang Yao, then he couldn’t afford to lose too much face, because when people knew he belonged to Jiang Yao, then his bad record would be able to pull him down. As such he could only be proud of himself, he could only hold his head up high and be stubborn.
The clerk was shocked when he saw Luo Xiao turn around and was ready to leave, but he didn’t stop him. To him, it didn’t matter if they had someone clearing the fields or not.
But, unfortunately, Overseer Zhu didn’t seem to agree with him. Just as Luo Xiao had almost left the house an aged voice called out to him, “Youngster, why so fast?”
Luo Xiao turned around and found Overseer Zhu standing behind him. His eyes were still friendly, and he was gently caressing his beard while looking on with amusement.
This elderly man was different from what Luo Xiao had expected. He seemed very amiable, and Luo Xiao didn’t wish to leave a bad impression on the man.
“I don’t wish to leave, however, it is obvious that I’m not welcome here,” he said casually while glancing at the clerk.
The clerk was at first worried when he saw that Overseer Zhu had appeared, but he quickly calmed himself. He had been the clerk at the herb shop for a long while, and Luo Xiao had only been at the weeding job for a day.
“I see,” Overseer Zhu glanced at the clerk as well, contemplating what exactly was to be done.
“I have a great impression of you, little friend,” he said as he looked at Luo Xiao, and a smile appeared on his withered face again, “It seems that the job of weeding plants is not suitable for you, so why don’t you follow me and become my assistant?”
“Your assistant?” Luo Xiao was perplexed and slightly confused. What exactly did the Overseer need assistance with?
“I’m also an alchemist,” Overseer Zhu said when he sensed Luo Xiao’s confusion, “I saw you working hard yesterday, and I am looking for a hard worker. I will pay you fifty points a day.”
Luo Xiao was rather tempted, but he was also alert. He understood now better than anyone that the current experts all belonged to one faction or another.
If he followed someone who was supporting the fourth prince or another antagonistic prince, then how would he be able to lift his head in front of Jiang Yao in the future?
Sensing his hesitation, Overseer Zhu did not push him but waited patiently to hear what was troubling him.
“What faction do you belong to?” Luo Xiao finally asked after a bit of hesitation, his question was very straightforward, but also slightly rude.
However Overseer Zhu did not feel insulted, instead, he laughed out loud. “You know how to ask questions youngster!” the elderly man chuckled, “I consider myself a supporter of the Sixth Demon Prince. I want to be neutral, neutrality is making life much more simple!”
Luo Xiao was surprised when he heard this, “You are following Jiang Guanyu?” he blurted out before realizing what he said. His words could be considered even more insulting than the previous words because he had directly called the name of a prince.
The clerk sneered as he heard this. He knew that Overseer Zhu really respected the sixth demon prince, and to have such a kid mention his name should bring forth his anger.
However, contrary to what he had expected, Overseer Zhu just chuckled and nodded his head, “Yes, he is the Sixth Demon Prince,” he confirmed, and Luo Xiao narrowed his eyes again as he looked at Overseer Zhu.
He had only met the Sixth Demon Prince once and he had given him a treasure so precious that even Jiang Yao was surprised by it. Now one of his men had come close to him.
Luo Xiao was not paranoid, but he was alert when he heard that this man was following Jiang Guanyu. At least he was alert until he remembered that Jiang Yao had treated him like a good brother and that he was neutral.
Although Jiang Yao had said he was not interested in the throne, many did not believe him, and even though he had no interest in making a faction, many were following him on their own account, so many that even a group of people had formed a faction for him.
The only people that Jiang Yao was approving of was the shadow guards. They were his trained experts who he himself had trained and he knew their loyalty was unquestionable.
But Jiang Yao also trusted Jiang Guanyu and thus Luo Xiao decided to trust him as well.
“I would like to be your assistant then,” he said tentatively. He was promised quite a handsome reward for being an assistant and he believed he would be able to improve his cultivation base drastically by following an elder.
The clerk was shocked when he saw Luo Xiao was still accepted after mentioning the name of the sixth demon prince and he started wondering what exactly could be behind this. Was there someone behind the scenes opening back doors for Luo Xiao? Was it true he had someone backing him? But if he did, why would the ninth demon prince bully him?
“Follow me,” Overseer Zhu said, and started moving towards the stairs leading to the upper floors of the herb hall.
Luo Xiao quickly followed and while they were walking, Overseer Zhu introduced himself. “I am an elder at the academy,” he said, “my name is Zhu Tian. I am a follower of the Sixth demon prince and his most prized alchemist.”
“What I will need you to do is tidy up my pill room, sorting out my herbs and running errands for me.” Overseer Zhu was very honest about what he needed, and he took Luo Xiao to the top floor of the herb hall were he opened a door leading into a dark and dusty room that smelled heavily of medicinal herbs.
As they entered Zhu Tian clapped his hands and light orbs lit up, illuminating the entire room. When Luo Xiao saw this room, he was rather shocked. This was clearly the pill room, and it was nothing like what he had expected.
What he saw was a room that seemed as if someone had released a bomb. There was a thick layer of dust on every shelf, herbs were scattered everywhere, on the floor, on the tables, on the shelves.
Remnants of old cauldrons had been thrown into the corners of the room, at the same time there were shards of shattered cauldrons everywhere from those that had exploded.
Pastes had been splashed on the walls and the floor everywhere from when the cauldrons exploded and the herbs had still not been refined into a pill.
All in all, this place was filled with filth and it was a complete mess. When Luo Xiao saw it he was stunned for a short while before he shook his head and started rolling up his sleeves.
One thing he was good at was cleaning. Luo Xiao found a connecting bathroom, and inside this bathroom was access to warm water.
Luo Xiao found some soap and instantly made soapy water after which he entered the pill room once more. He found a big barrel where he threw all the trash into. Even the herbs were considered trash by him as if they had been contaminated by the room itself.
Time went by slowly, Overseer Zhu was sitting on a chair next to his desk and was reading and scribbling into a book. From time to time he would rip out a site and crumble it together and then he tossed it behind him, making an even bigger mess for Luo Xiao to clean up after him.
Luo Xiao sighed but said nothing as he picked up the trash and washed the floor, the tables, the shelves, and the walls.
When he was done and got his daily points, it was already late into the night and although it was summer and the sun was setting late, it was already dark outside when Luo Xiao left the herb hall – even the clerk had left for the day.
When he left he was quite happy that there were no people. It meant that he was likely to not be beaten this day, and he casually started walking towards his residence.
When he arrived he was however disappointed, and he saw that a group of experts was waiting for him.
These people were not friendly, but Luo Xiao ignored them and walked straight past them before someone grabbed his wrist and dragged him away from the safety of the barrier that surrounded his house.
“Did you think that you would be able to get to safety this time?” the person who grabbed his wrist sneered at him with a sinister smile on his lips.