Written by Tinalynge & Blue Jay
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Neither of the two of them wanted to actually deliver news that would infuriate their Master. So both just stared at each other for a long moment, indecisive.
“Alright, what about this, your number is lower than mine so you go,” suddenly one of them spoke out, a barely discernible smirk on his face.
“That’s unfair! You’re going, you can withstand Master’s wrath because you’re stronger!”
“No, no, Mo Si, you’re weaker so Master will spare you – and I can remain here to protect the kid as I’m stronger,” Mo San shrugged almost arrogantly although it was obvious he was half messing with the other.
“This won’t work! If I’m going to get Master infuriated you’re going down with me!” Mo Si immediately retorted, his eyes blazing with both worry and anger. “How about this – let’s settle it through rock, paper, scissors! Two out of three, the winner has to stay and protect the kid, the loser goes to report to Master!”
Mo San raised an eyebrow at the suggestion. That option wasn’t that bad and somewhat relied on luck to win – so he wasn’t that much against it. “Alright then. But don’t blame me if you lose!”
Mo Si nodded, putting his hand in a fist. “You ready?”
“Three- Ah, damn it!”
The result was paper to scissors, with the scissors going to Mo San. The stronger man had won the first round, but both of them stared at each other knowing that there were still two chances for Mo Si to win.
“One, two, three- No, you’re cheating!”
This time it was Mo San that yelled out with dissatisfaction as it was Mo Si that won with rock over scissors! They were equal now and stared at each other with both animosity and mutual suspicion.
“You cheated!” Mo San repeated his words, staring knives at Mo Si as he pointed at the other.
“I did not! You’re the one that cheated and won the first round!”
“Straight back at you! If you hadn’t cheated now I would have won!”
Mo Si snorted as he looked at the other with contempt. “Once more! Don’t you dare cheat this time or else!”
“Says the cheater himself,” Mo San almost spat at the other but nevertheless agreed to the game. He was going to win, there was no way he was going to witness his Master’s wrath himself!
“One, two, three!” was heard once more, which could make one think how Luo Xiao hadn’t heard them by now. Or perhaps he had heard them but simply didn’t think about it as those were the shadow guards after all and it wasn’t his business to bother them.
Unlike the other two times, however, silence ensued after this time. That was the case until the unhappy whine of Mo Si filled the air, somehow still unheard by Luo Xiao.
“I will prove that you cheated! How come you win!”
“Prove it first! But since you lost you have to go and report to Master,” Mo San crossed his arms and leaned on the tree. “Come back alive.”
“That doesn’t encourage me anymore!” Mo Si rolled his eyes but true to his nature of a shadow guard quickly disappeared, the only trace of him remaining next to Mo San being a few leaves that silently fell on the ground.
His speed was nothing one should underestimate as it was less than twenty minutes later that he appeared in the palace of the Seventh Prince, dashing through the corridors like a true shadow before finally finding where Jiang Yao was.
He was actually sitting outside of the palace in one of the few small pavilions, clearly relaxing as he was just eating some pastries and enjoying the warm summer day.
“I’ve been expecting you, Mo Si,” Jiang Yao smiled, not turning around as he bit into another delicacy, clearly awaiting some good news.
After all, he had assigned his brother to take care of Luo Xiao – he felt that nothing bad could happen to his little lover as a royal prince was a large determining factor.
Immediately upon hearing Jiang Yao’s words did Mo Si appear in front of him, kneeling down in front of the prince with his head lowered. “Master, I have returned with the report as promised.”
“Luo Xiao has made friends with a fellow classmate named Jin Chuan and as per your orders His Highness Ninth Prince has taken him in,” so far so good, thought to himself Mo Si as he spoke of the events taking place – continuing with how Overseer Zhu had taken in the youth as his assistant.
That detail made Jiang Yao raise an eyebrow – considering Overseer Zhu was after all his sixth brother’s most renowned alchemist that spoke something of his brother’s attitude as well. However, the next few sentences that Mo Si spoke made Jiang Yao’s hand freeze in mid-air as he held a pastry in front of his mouth.
“However, he was beaten twice by some qi cultivators and is bullied often. We protected him as per your orders, Master, however, there was no protection from the group of His Highness Ninth Prince…” Mo Si’s voice quieted down, his gaze focused on the ground as he knelt in front of Jiang Yao, doing his best not to shiver.
He hadn’t lied to Jiang Yao – the two of them had protected Luo Xiao and it was true that Jiang Bai’s group hadn’t given protection to the youth as Jiang Yao had expected. But he couldn’t really mention that even he and Mo San had to learn to respect Luo Xiao after the first beating which they didn’t really prevent or his head would probably fly off his shoulders before he could take a breath.
Thankfully, Jiang Yao didn’t seem to react to that omitted sentence from the report. At the mention of the beatings and bullying, an icy aura had spread out from him as the pastry was frozen and then crushed in his hand, a furious expression finding its way on his usually cold and emotionless face.
“So youngest brother hasn’t fulfilled my request?” he stood up, his black eyes staring at Mo Si. The pressure he was releasing was suffocating the shadow guard but he dared not to resist – he was also at fault as he hadn’t prevented the first beating due his own prejudices.
“He has accepted Luo Xiao in his group, Master, but he hasn’t protected him in any occasion…” Mo Si gulped lightly as he felt the iciness get colder and colder, seeping into his body.
It was as if an endless silence later that Jiang Yao spoke again, his words almost making Mo Si relax on the spot.
“I see. Go back to your duty, Mo Si,” and with that, Jiang Yao flicked his sleeve, letting the other cultivator go. The shadow guard bowed to the ground, cold sweat gathering at the back of his neck from just how close he got to death before he disappeared as if he had never been in front of Jiang Yao to begin with.
However, Jiang Yao himself seemed absolutely furious as he stared for a moment to nothingness. The icy aura kept rolling in waves off of him, frost building up in the pavilion as the flowers around were slowly frozen to death.
And then Jiang Yao’s body moved, flying up in the air at a speed much higher than that of his trusted shadow guards as he flew across the city, so fast that barely anyone’s eye could even notice him.
Frankly, with that speed, Jiang Yao could visit Luo Xiao any day and any time he wished for – the enormous size of Cloudsoar City was nothing to someone with his cultivation rank. The reason he didn’t do it was both because to strategically avoid someone spilling out the true nature of their relationship and because he knew that in order for Luo Xiao to grow up both as a cultivator and person he couldn’t constantly be under his protection.
And yet, here he was, His Highness Jiang Yao, flying past the gate of the Academy with an expression that could give a heart attack to anyone who saw it.
Within seconds he softly stepped on the ground in front of Jiang Bai’s home, his expression almost murderous as he stared at the house. Currently, none of those inside the home had detected him, despite the clear icy aura that was rolling off of him and starting to freeze up the surroundings.
Jiang Yao stared at the building for a moment, sensing the people inside – the few people who were to be the beginnings of his brother’s faction once he became strong enough and left the Royal Academy. Though the seventh prince’s mind went through many thoughts, his expression becoming even darker before finally stepping forward to the house.
His icy aura followed, slowly enveloping Jiang Bai’s home as those inside gradually began feeling colder.
Jiang Bai felt the coldness seeping into his body, forcing him to wake up from his cultivation state, looking around confused. It was the middle of the summer and it made no sense for cold wind to blow through the windows. Was autumn coming already?
Well, something was coming for sure and it was no innocent summer, making Jiang Bai realize what it was as soon as the door of his home was slammed open, a very furious gaze meeting his.
“Jiang Bai! Get over here!” as soon as Jiang Yao’s voice echoed around, the room seemed to fill with frost as the temperature dropped without him doing anything.
As soon as Jiang Bai realized who it was, he jumped on his feet, his qi spreading out to protect those around him. However, it was almost futile as his shield was broken instantaneously with just one step from Jiang Yao, the cultivation difference between them far too much for the white-haired prince to even put up a fight.
“I had asked you nicely to take care of my Luo Xiao!” Jiang Yao’s furious voice reverberated through the building, shaking those around him almost to unconsciousness, their bodies falling dully to the ground drained from strength.
Only Jiang Bai managed to hold on, clenching his teeth as he stared at Jiang Yao. “Do you think I actually want to take care of such a weakling?!”
His response was natural – in his eyes, he couldn’t see Luo Xiao as anything more but a bothersome weakness in his group. But those words made Jiang Yao’s expression become even worse as he waved his hand, sending the white-haired youth across the room as if tossing a piece of paper.
There was no resistance – Jiang Bai crashed on the wall, barely stopping himself from tumbling down as he stared at Jiang Yao with an extremely dissatisfied and pained gaze.
“A weakling? How dare you call Luo Xiao a weakling?!” with ice-cold fury in his gaze, Jiang Yao appeared in front of his brother, his hand grabbing the other’s throat and lifting him up slightly to look at him face to face.
“I’ll have you know who is the weakling here! All I asked you for is a favor and the way you fulfill it is to harm my Xiaoxiao?!”
Jiang Bai’s hands grabbed Jiang Yao’s, trying to free himself from the other’s grasp – but of course, it was completely futile, the only thing left for him to do is stare at the other with animosity.
“Your Xiaoxiao?! What is he to you, a little weak soul cultivator with a Heavenly Soul? Is that what my greatest brother has fallen down to?!” he spat back, his qi moving furiously as he tried to attack Jiang Yao back as he spoke.
Unfortunately, both of them were of the ice attribute – which made Jiang Bai’s attack absolutely useless as two pairs of black eyes stared at each other in a momentary mute and lost battle of ice qi.