Written by Tinalynge & Blue Jay
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Luo Xiao stared at the fingerprints for a long time, before rubbing them lightly with his own hand to try and alleviate the pain. He was already somewhat aware of what Jiang Yao was capable whenever he saw that he had been hurt by others, so in a way he wished for his bruises to heal faster so Jiang Yao wouldn’t see them.
Besides, Luo Xiao just didn’t want more people killed. Though he had an idea that as soon as Jiang Yao heard word of what had happened from his Shadow Guard, he would have been furious.
He sighed softly before sitting down on the bed, his gaze, despite being wide awake like any cultivator, showing a tinge of tiredness. Luo Xiao just wasn’t used to all this drama between royals who all somehow seemed to literally flock around him, trying to get him to be theirs. Or not theirs, Luo Xiao almost sighed at the thought of Jiang Bai who looked as if he loathed him to death.
In the end, he decided not to think too much about this. Royal drama was between them, and despite being Jiang Yao’s lover, he was too weak to not only think about it directly, but to involve himself directly. One never knew.
Just the thought of being at the front of the battlefield between these immortals made Luo Xiao shiver, finally making him purse his lips and toss all the thoughts aside. He needed to cultivate and get some rest that night and just forget about the incident and never think about it.
And that’s what he did, once he washed his hands to get rid of the feeling of that hand on his arm.
The next two days he remained inside his home, just passively cultivating. But on the third day Luo Xiao finally left the house, with bright eyes and a rather excited mind. During the past weeks, he had had an idea growing within him, an idea he hasn’t mentioned to Jiang Yao but one that he felt he really wanted to try. And finally today he decided to go for it, his white robes almost flowing behind him as he quickly walked through the Academy, headed towards the herb gardens.
Entering the administrative building, Luo Xiao’s eyes wandered around, searching for Overseer Zhu. He was his assistant, therefore he wasn’t worried about the grumpy clerk before he simply sighed when he noticed that the Overseer wasn’t there. Though, Luo Xiao already had an idea where the Overseer was.
And he was right once he entered into the Overseer’s office, finding the man writing on his notebook without much notice of the trash piling up behind him.
“Good morning, Overseer Zhu,” Luo Xiao lightly bowing his head before calmly getting to cleaning up the trash the alchemist had made over the last few days.
The elderly man simply nodded, letting Luo Xiao do the job he had assigned to him. However, the Overseer wasn’t so absorbed in his notes not to notice that Luo Xiao clearly had something in mind as he ordered the herbs around and cleaned up the trash that had piled up.
He could simply feel it in the way Luo Xiao glanced at him a few times while dusting the shelves. And he wasn’t wrong because once the youth was finished with his task he approached him, making him look up from his notes.
“What is it, Luo Xiao?” he looked at Luo Xiao, noticing the slightly nervous tremble of his lips and how he held his hands together. Clearly, he wasn’t going to ask for something ordinary.
Taking a slightly long breath, Luo Xiao closed his eyes for a moment before opening them again, determination shining in his delicate features. “Overseer Zhu, I want to become an alchemist.”
An alchemist? Zhu Tian almost raised an eyebrow as he looked at Luo Xiao, contemplating.
He wasn’t new to what an alchemist meant. After all, Overseer Zhu was actually one of the greatest alchemists in Cloudsoar City and his reputation wasn’t small, especially considering that he was one of the closest subordinates of the Sixth Demon Prince.
Zhu Tian could feel the determination stemming from Luo Xiao. Frankly, the overseer had many people who asked to be his students. Many had not the best intentions either, simply wishing to use him to get his knowledge or to get closer to the Sixth Demon Prince. There were a few who had genuine intentions too but the alchemist had declined their requests simply because they didn’t have a constitution suitable for alchemy.
Zhu Tian perhaps would have declined Luo Xiao’s request as well if he hadn’t gotten to know the youth over the last months. He was hardworking, honest, and even if he had the second best soul type, he felt that he could be compatible with his techniques. And most importantly, he was still very young, which allowed for him to easily understand techniques and be very moldable when it came to correcting mistakes early on.
But that wasn’t enough to convince him to say yes.
“Why do you want me to teach you?” Zhu Tian’s calm attitude seemed a tad serious, as he looked deeply into Luo Xiao’s eyes.
Luo Xiao looked back into Overseer Zhu’s eyes, holding his gaze for a long moment. Enough for both of them to in a way, eye each other, getting a better understanding of each other’s positions.
And then Luo Xiao finally spoke up, answering Zhu Tian’s question calmly. although his eyes seemed to almost sparkle with determination.
“I wish to learn to be an alchemist so I can be useful to Jiang Yao!”
“Useful to the Seventh Demon Prince? Why?” Overseer Zhu raised an eyebrow before leaning back in his chair. That was a bit unexpected. In fact, quite unexpected. .
Others might have pulled out reasons such as wanting to be the greatest alchemist ever or achieving glory or just having him as his teacher. Nobody had gotten a reason quite similar to Luo Xiao’s before, especially not involving the Seventh Demon Prince.
Luo Xiao took a long breath, his hands tensing up before he squeezed them into fists. It was beyond clear this held a lot of meaning to him. “I want to be more than a burden to Jiang Yao. He has helped me with many things, and has done a lot for me. So… I want to be useful to him as well. I want to be able to help him, despite the difference in our ranks.”
As he spoke, he felt his cheeks lightly heat up, a very faint blush creeping up his neck and cheeks. Luo Xiao ended up looking down, suddenly feeling a tad embarrassed that the alchemist was seeing him like that. It wasn’t his usual behaviour for sure, his hands fidgeting with each other for a moment before he stopped, waiting for Zhu Tian’s decision.
Meanwhile, Overseer Zhu looked at Luo Xiao with clear surprise. Jiang Yao was an infamous figure, whom about anyone in the empire, if not the entire continent, respected and feared. And yet, he could see that this young man in front of him not only knew Jiang Yao in person, but beyond obviously held feelings for the prince.
And most of all, these feelings were genuine and not something fueled by some underhanded desire.
The silence which engulfed the two after what was practically a confession made Luo Xiao quite nervous. Was Zhu Tian going to decline? Was he going to become like everyone else and potentially turn against him, despite the faction he belonged to? Luo Xiao sure hoped that didn’t happen. It was after all the first time he trusted someone enough to tell them, albeit a bit subtly, of the relationship between him and Jiang Yao.
Suddenly, Zhu Tian started speaking, his tone strict as he stood up from his seat and walked across the room, his hands behind his back. “If you want to become an alchemist by my side, you have to follow a few rules. I am very strict when it comes to my techniques, so if you make mistakes, those will have to be grinded out with hard work. I will not allow you to slouch and simply waste your time.”
“On top of that, you are not to diverge to anyone what techniques I am teaching you. If I find out you’ve said to anyone else or revealed the secrets of alchemy I will tell you, I will make sure you are never able to speak, hear or see again. Am I clear, Luo Xiao?”
Despite his tone getting darker the more he spoke, with his aura becoming heavy and suffocating, Luo Xiao was overwhelmed by happiness instead. He almost didn’t feel how dangerous Overseer Zhu was, his entire being almost lighting up as soon as he understood that the alchemist was actually going to accept him.
“Thank you, Master! Thank you for accepting me as your student!” with bright eyes, Luo Xiao bowed deeply to the man, a large smile on his face despite his best efforts to contain himself.
He truly wished to be taught by the man as he knew that Zhu Tian wasn’t someone who would lead him astray. In the past few weeks he had come to understand Overseer Zhu in a sense and thus decided to trust him in something like this. Plus, having seen the amiable character that the overseer had, Luo Xiao was sure that the man could be trusted – not to mention whose faction he belonged to.
The alchemist’s expression loosened up as soon as Luo Xiao bowed, before his hand found itself on the boy’s shoulder and he helped him up.
“You’re the first student I’m ever taking, so my expectations might not be up to par to what you can do. However, as long as you try your best, I believe you will be able to soar to great heights without any problems. Also, you can just call me Zhu Tian, no need to call me Master,” Overseer Zhu smiled warmly at the youth. “Plus, I’m sure His Highness the Seventh Prince wouldn’t like anyone to call themselves your master.”
The last words were spoken with some amusement, amusement of someone who had seen many things and knew how to react appropriately to anything. However, they were able to make Luo Xiao slightly flustered as soon as he figured out what Zhu Tian was talking about.
Seeing how the youth looked away with embarrassment, not used to someone being warmly teasing of the relationship he had with Jiang Yao, the alchemist smiled before waving his hand, a few old, but well kept scrolls appearing in his hands.
“I assume you have a storage device of some kind. Take these scrolls and study them thoroughly. Inside are about a thousand herbs, with full descriptions of their appearances and what they do. I want you to learn as much as you can by next week. I will test your knowledge, correct anything you have learned wrong, and we will repeat this until you have clear knowledge of at least a hundred thousand herbs. I will not teach you anything further until those are memorized by heart and you can recite them in your sleep!”
As he spoke, his tone once more became serious, making Luo Xiao understand that even if the overseer hadn’t mentioned it, if he didn’t do what he was told with utmost care there were going to be consequences.
But that didn’t scare Luo Xiao. He was determined to become someone who could return the favors Jiang Yao had given him, and thus he nodded with excitement, barely contained, taking the scrolls from Zhu Tian’s hands with care.
“I will not disappoint you, Overseer Zhu!” he smiled brightly, before the scrolls disappeared from his hands, safely put in his storage pouch, before he bowed once more and left the pill room, an excited smile on his face. He couldn’t wait to get home and open those scrolls, curiosity already bubblings inside of him.