Chapter 5 - Blue Phoenix

Chapter 4: His First Friend

Hui Yue quickly gathered the villagers who barricaded themselves in the protective shelter. Every villager was astonished and proud when they heard that the great Lord Rong Liang had decided to use their humble village as the campsite for his entourage.

Hui Yue, however, did not share their sentiments as he felt a sense of danger whenever he was within sight of the esteemed lord. Lord Rong Liang would always look at Hui Yue with a certain degree of interest, and Hui Yue was very unhappy with anyone who showed interest in his affairs.

The first day was chaos. The guards were split into groups. Some put up their tents and the camp, others hunted for provisions, and a third group scouted the area ensuring that everything was safe.

The village that Hui Yue lived in was so small that it had never been given a specific name. The villagers were so poor that no bandits would ever bother coming by even if they knew where the village was. But now as Lord Rong Liang was a very important person who was traveling with his two children, it was quite possible that his enemies would send assassins to deal with him while he was away from the city he managed.

The women in the village would find any excuse possible to walk past the campsite and look at the guards. Some would blatantly flirt with the men hoping they would take a liking to them. They hoped the guards would take them away from their poverty-stricken lives. Though others would blush and run away the moment their eyes met.

Hui Lifen was also interested in the campsite, but unlike most of the young women, she wanted to hear stories about the outside world. Hui Lifen was a very beautiful woman, and the guards were glad to fulfill her desire and talk about life in the busy cities.

Hui Yue had been dragged to the camp by his mother, but fortunately, he managed to escape while she was captivated by these exciting stories.

Hui Yue had to be careful around any expert with a higher cultivation than himself as they had the ability to detect his cultivation base. Lan Feng was capable of faking their cultivation base and making it look like someone who did not cultivate for a short amount of time; however, this would not last for long, and neither Hui Yue nor the phoenix felt like letting people know about his cultivation level.

Hui Yue chose to stay home after he escaped from his mother, and he managed to refine yet another Qi thread before both of his parents returned home to prepare dinner.

Dinner today was quite luxurious as Lord Rong Liang’s party handed out all the extra meat they acquired on their hunt.

“Yue-er,” Hui Lifen said when she saw Hui Yue. “Lord Rong Liang asked about you again,” She continued happily. “He says he has never seen a disease such as yours before, and would very much like to examine it later on.” At her words, Hui Yue felt his blood freeze over. It was clear that Lord Rong Liang did not believe that Hui Yue was an ordinary boy.

“I am fine; I am sure it will just waste the time of the esteemed lord.” Hui Yue said meekly, but his mother quickly dismissed his worries. “Lord Rong Liang was the one who requested to examine you. I am sure he just wants to understand your disease. It would be rude to turn him away now that he has visited our village.”

Hui Yue could only grit his teeth as he agreed to visit the camp early in the morning before going out with the goats.

The morning broke as usual, and after eating a quick breakfast, Hui Yue ran out the door disappearing into the thick morning mist.

Hui Yue left the shack earlier than normal as he had no excuse to not visit Lord Rong Liang on the way. However, Hui Yue was not dumb, and he was very well aware that there was no way that the lord would be awake so early, and since Hui Yue had a specific task to do during the day he had a good reason to come by at this ungodly hour.

“Halt!” A stern voice suddenly roared out in the chilled morning air. The voice caused Hui Yue to instantly stop while waiting for the guard to arrive at his location. The guard furrowed his brow and looked at the beautiful child who was definitely no older than five years old. The morning mist that was gathering around his white hair and pale skin made him seem as if he was a fairy that had stepped out from an ancient legend.

“State your purpose.” He said with hostility evident in his voice, and Hui Yue was quite impressed with the guard’s vigilance.

“I’m Hui Yue.” He said once again with his sugar-coated voice. “Lord Rong Liang said that he wanted to examine my disease, but unfortunately, it is my job to look after the goats therefore I have to take them to the hillside before dawn every morning.” Hui Yue continued with a saddened voice and a downcast face.

The guard could not help but feel a slight tinge of sadness upon seeing his downcast face, but even if he pitied the child, he had no intention of waking up Lord Rong Liang at this godforsaken hour.

Looking at the guard hesitating, Hui Yue looked down as he said “I understand,” in a low voice, while he internally cheered together with Lan Feng. “Can you please tell his lordship that I wished to be here, but mama always says that I have to be responsible and not skip work.” Hui Yue looked at the guard once more, this time with a hint of unshed tears about to burst forth.

“Of course I’ll tell him!” The guard said right away, and he was rewarded with a happy and naive smile that spread on Hui Yue’s face. No one would have expected that this was exactly the result the said child wanted by arriving so early.

Hui Yue quickly thanked the guard and waved goodbye before rushing back towards the village pen so that he could get far away from the village in case the sensitive Lord Rong Liang noticed him and were to suddenly wake up. Hui Yue could not help but feel slightly paranoid, as he remembered Murphy’s law from his past.

Hui Yue decided to move to a hillside that was quite difficult to find. He was finally able to relax a little after cultivating for a couple of hours with no one interrupting him. He was certain that even if Lord Rong Liang wanted to locate him, he would have a very hard time as no one knew these hillsides as well as Hui Yue.

However, Lan Feng warned him that someone was coming his way just as Hui Yue had decided to eat his packed lunch.

‘It is not Rong Liang.’ Lan Feng said with a curious voice, ‘but it is definitely not anyone from the village either.’

Hearing Lan Feng say that caused Hui Yue to be on guard, but he quickly realized that even if he wanted to protect himself, and the goats, there was really nothing he could do.

Hui Yue spent all his time gathering essence and refining Qi. He did not even know one martial art skill to make use of his accumulated strength.

‘You useless phoenix,’ Hui Yue was swearing in his mind. ‘What is the point of this well refined Qi if I can’t even protect my life against some bandits?’ He was growing frantic as he really had no other option than to hope that the approaching person was friendly.

Both Lan Feng and Hui Yue were quite surprised when they finally saw who the person was. This person should never have been able to find his hiding place; however, here he was, Lord Rong Liang’s son. He had a big smile on his face when he noticed Hui Yue, and he even carried a beautiful flower in one hand.

Hui Yue was not dumb and guessed that Lord Rong Liang most likely was busy at the camp, and had sent his son to try and gather information. Therefore, Hui Yue had no other option than to be friendly towards this newcomer.

“Young master, what are you doing all the way out here?” Hui Yue asked with his big eyes and a voice as clear as the cloudless sky. His voice seemed to cause Lord Rong Liang’s son to smile, as he handed the flower to Hui Yue,

“I saw this flower in the forest and thought of your beauty, so I decided to come and deliver it personally.” This was the first thing that the young master ever said to Hui Yue, and Hui Yue could not help himself from freezing momentarily before goosebumps appeared on his skin. Something was definitely wrong with the Rong family.

While Hui Yue was stunned, Lan Feng was laughing his heart out. This caused Hui Yue’s mind to explode with noise; however, he quickly regained his composure and looked at the flower. It was indeed beautiful. It was a white orchid with a warm, yellow core. Its beauty was unrivaled amongst flowers in the forest, but it could also be used to create a deadly poison.

‘Heh, this is great.’ Lan Feng said while trying to restrain his laughter, however, it was not very successful, and he was still constantly giggling.

“Ah, this is beautiful, young master.” Hui Yue said with shining eyes while looking at the very self-satisfied young boy. “I will definitely treasure it.” Inside, Hui Yue was impatient. He could not wait for this young master to leave so that he could return to cultivating, but on the other hand, he did not intend to let the young boy suspect that he was abnormal. Therefore his only option was to patiently wait for the other to leave.

The young master quickly sat down on the grass and found his own lunch before asking Hui Yue to sit next to him. Hui Yue outwardly smiled looking proud and slightly embarrassed by being allowed so close to a noble, but inwardly he was sighing and trying to figure out a way to chase the annoying boy away.

“Is it really okay for young master to spend your valuable time out here on the hills together with the goats?” Hui Yue asked fearfully. He hoped that the young master really did have some chores to attend to back at camp, but the young boy did not seem as if he intended to leave anytime soon.

“Call me Rong Ming,” He said while playing with the grass around him. Hui Yue was shocked. Why on earth did he have to become the playmate of some noble boy when he had more important things to deal with, but as usual, he would not risk allowing the young master to have any suspicions that he could tell his father about. Instead, he said “Rong Ming” with a low voice and forced a blush to creep onto his cheeks.

‘You are a great actor!” Lan Feng praised him while dying from laughter. Although Lan Feng did enjoy watching Hui Yue get stronger, he also enjoyed the current situation thoroughly as well. It was a lot less boring than staring at goats, grass, and Qi threads all day long.

Hui Yue mentally sighed as he knew there would be no help from his phoenix friend, and instead decided to give up on cultivating today and just play along with this city boy. Hopefully, he could grasp some information about the city or outside world from him because Lan Feng was useless when it came to current world knowledge.

“Why do you need to enter the Magical Forest?” Hui Yue asked Rong Ming with a frightened look on his face. He knew that his family feared the core area of the magical forest, as the beasts who lived there were very dangerous. He was baffled why anyone who lived a luxurious lifestyle would want to experience such dangers.

“Rong Xing, my sister, and I need to see some of the martial skills we are practicing in real combat.” Rong Ming answered while lying down on the grass and looking out at the clear blue sky above,

“Young master, can you tell me about life outside the village?” Hui Yue asked with a breathless voice, and his eyes gleamed with curiosity. This was one time where he did not need to actually act; this was something that he truly wanted to know.

Rong Ming smirked satisfactorily upon seeing the young child having such an expression and told him to lie down as he would explain a little.

“Our father is the Lord of Rilou City and the surrounding areas, and therefore I am his heir,” Rong Ming said first with a very proud voice. “There is not a cultivator around stronger than my father.”

Hui Yue could not help but chuckle. Although Rong Ming was supposed to be a mature child, he was still a child, and all children loved to brag about their parents.

“Are you a cultivator?” Hui Yue asked curiously while looking at the young boy that was lying next to him.

“Mhm,” Was the answer, “both Xing and I have reached the ninth star of the Student level. We are definitely the best Student ranked cultivators in school, but we need to train harder. I have to make father proud.” He said with a determined voice. His voice and passion did cause Hui Yue to gain some respect for the young child. He himself had struggled for five years just to reach the second star.

“Why is your hair white?” Rong Ming suddenly asked. Hui Yue had been expecting the question to appear earlier, so he was not surprised when it was finally asked.

“I don’t know,” He said honestly. “One night it was black, and the next morning it was white. I don’t remember anything since I was a baby.” Hui Yue said with a sigh, and Rong Ming got the impression that he was asked this question quite often.

“What is the city like?” Hui Yue quickly asked before Rong Ming had the chance to ask more questions, and the rest of the afternoon passed with Rong Ming telling Hui Yue about clothing stores, restaurants, the harbor and the marketplaces. To Hui Yue, it sounded very much like what a normal big city would have been like in his world, and it gave him a slight feeling of relief. Relief that he could count on some of his previously acquired knowledge when he entered the cities for the first time.

Hui Yue stood up as dusk arrived and guided the goats and Rong Ming back to the village. He split up with the young master right as they reached the village pen, and then he rushed home under the excuse of promising his mother to always hurry straight back.

Hui Yue couldn’t help but let out a relieved sigh when he finally reached home. Although he had gotten some good information, he still wasted a whole day of cultivating.

‘They are ten years old, and they are already at the ninth star. I really need to step up.’ Hui Yue complained to Lan Feng.

‘Don’t stress it,’ was the answer. ‘Although they are at the ninth star it is obvious that their Qi is not of as good quality as yours. If they want to advance into the middle dantian, they will need to use a great deal of Qi refining medicine, and it can’t guarantee success.’

Hui Yue could not help but feel slightly good upon hearing that his hard work did have its benefits.

‘Oh yeah,’ He said while eating some steamed buns that were left for him in the kitchen. ‘I really need to learn some martial art skills without them I will have some serious problems.’ Hui Yue complained, and Lan Feng could only agree.

‘There is one issue, though.’ Lan Feng said. ‘When I started cultivating my father directly opened up my middle dantian, so most of my skills require spirit power or elemental affinity.’

Hui Yue was completely confused upon hearing his words. Elemental affinity? What was that?

‘Right. I didn’t explain it earlier since it would have been too much information, but I’ll explain now.’ Lan Feng said slowly.

‘The Qi you are gathering right now is pure white Qi. You can use normal Qi for martial arts, and because it has no affinity but that is why it is restricted to martial arts alone. Right now you don't have an affinity with any elements because you still have not accessed your middle dantian and released it.’

‘I thought that the middle dantian was for spirit power?’ Hui Yue said questioningly, he did kind of understand affinities, but what did it have to do one’s spirit power?

‘Right. So Qi is used for martial arts. Spirit power is used for spiritual arts. I guess this would be referred to as magic back in your old world. Your spirit power, or as you know it magic, is affected by your affinity. Let’s say you have an affinity for fire then you will be able to use your spirit power to learn fire related attacks. Together with this, there are certain spirit attacks that are not determined by affinity, but they are incredibly rare. One of them was the illusion you saw Rong Liang use on the Qilins.’

Hui Yue nodded as it made sense.

‘So do you know any martial arts?’ He asked quickly, as he understood that martial arts were what he had to learn.

‘I know some,’ Lan Feng said hesitantly, ‘but they are all quite high leveled. I am not sure if they will be of any use to you right now.’

‘It is worth a try.’ Hui Yue said determined, and Lan Feng had to agree. It was definitely better than being completely defenseless.

‘Oh right,’ He said quickly. ‘I am not sure which affinity you have, but since we share a soul, you will definitely be able to use my affinities as well.’

Hui Yue’s eyes grew with excitement. ‘Which affinity do you have?’ Lan Feng snorted at the obvious question. ‘Obviously fire. But not normal fire, it is blue fire.’

‘Does it have any awesome properties apart from looks?’ Hui Yue could not help but ask. He had, after all, received a new look thanks to this phoenix; however, he had not gained any awesome powers in the process.

‘I don’t know,’ Lan Feng said carelessly. ‘I never bothered comparing it to normal fire, so I’ll let you deal with that.’

Hui Yue could not help but chuckle slightly, as it was very typical for Lan Feng not to care. Deep inside he was curious to see which affinity he had.

‘I’ll teach you a martial art skill when the cultivating party disappears.’ Lan Feng promised before the two of them slipped into a deep sleep.

The following morning Hui Yue once again set out towards the hillsides with the goats. This time he hoped he would be able to catch up with the time he lost cultivating from the day before. After having heard about affinities and magic abilities, Hui Yue could not wait until he unlocked his middle dantian. The word magic made him as giddy as the little child he was supposed to be.

However, his great mood was quickly killed as he saw a person moving towards him in the early morning mist.

“Hui Yue!” Rong Ming called out excitedly, while Hui Yue could only sigh inwardly. He once again laughed and greeted the young master with the utmost excitement.

This day Rong Ming told Hui Yue about how he cultivated and trained. Every large city within the empire had a royal academy for cultivators. The royal academy was split into the inner circle and the outer circle. The outer circle consisted of students who relied solely on Qi and the lower dantian while the inner circle only allowed those who had broken through to the ranks of Master or above.

The inner circle was located within the kingdom’s capital city while the outer circle was located within every large city.

The academy enrolled students from the age of ten and they needed to be at least at the five stars Student level, or if not some very rich noble parents could pay an insane tuition fee. One’s cultivating speed would increase upon reaching the Disciple rank, and the academy helped with both medicinal pills and martial art skills.

Each year every academy would send five students to the capital where they held the outer rank tournament for Disciple ranked cultivators and the inner rank tournament for those beyond.

Rong Ming and Rong Xing were both considered two geniuses from this year’s new Students, and Rong Ming was very proud while telling Hui Yue about these things.

‘School does not sound like such a bad idea.’ Hui Yue could not help but think, though he quickly scrapped his thoughts as he remembered how easy he would be noticed.

‘At school, you have no reason to hide your cultivation base, and when you reach the Disciple level, I should be able to mask myself easily.’ Lan Feng said calmly. ‘Well I will be able to mask myself against human cultivators, but if there are any strong beasts around, they will definitely notice our aura.’

Hui Yue nodded solemnly. It would be a great risk, but right now, it was not a decision he needed to make. He was after all only five years old, and a lot of things could happen within these five years.

The following day Hui Yue was not surprised when he saw Rong Ming finding him at yet another hillside, and this time he was taught about the different countries. Currently, they were living within the Taiyang Kingdom, which was ruled by the Taiyang royal family. There were seven big cities within this kingdom, but Taiyang City was the capital and obviously the biggest of them all.

The continent had another three kingdoms apart from the Taiyang Kingdom: the Siban Empire, the Yueliang Province, and Shenyuan.

Three of these kingdoms worked together as allies; however, Shenyuan had been closed to the outside world for thousands of years and any who dared enter were never heard from again

Both Hui Yue and Lan Feng listened to everything with great interest.

‘I bet,’ Hui Yue began. ‘That the guy we are looking for is within Shenyuan.’ Lan Feng could not help but laugh. It would indeed make sense if their target hid within a country riddled with fear and murder.

The days went by one after another, and Rong Ming came to find Hui Yue every day. It annoyed Hui Yue that he had lost almost a month’s worth of cultivating, however, he would much rather keep the young boy company than have to constantly be on guard against Rong Liang. The esteemed lord had not tried to get close to Hui Yue since his son started visiting the hills every day.

Finally, the day arrived where Lord Rong Liang broke up the camp and moved his entourage towards the Magical Forest.

“I promise that I will return for you,” Rong Ming said with a serious voice while holding Hui Yue’s hands within his own. Hui Yue had gotten used to the way Rong Ming looked at him, and he pitied the young lord. Hui Yue was convinced that Rong Ming was lonely and lacked friends, which was why he had become so friendly with the younger white-haired boy.

Lan Feng was not able to stop laughing for hours; however, he refused to tell Hui Yue why he was laughing. He claimed that Hui Yue was incredibly dim-witted, but that even he would notice one day.