Title : Luo Yu’s & Qin Jianyue’s Story
Author : PurpleLy
THIS IS FAN FICTION!!! Click here to read the full disclaimer
Meizhu Mountain, Stone Forest Bewilderment Array
Luo Yu finally saw a clearing up ahead with two huge boulders on either side. He’d been wandering around for about quite some time and was relieved to have located the exit at last.
As he made his way over, he noticed that there was already someone there. It was the youth from Tengyun Pavilion he’d observed earlier during the first assessment. He must’ve heard Luo Yu’s approach because he turned to look.
Luo Yu cupped his fists and said, “Greetings, young hero. Looks like you’re the first one to arrive. My name is Luo Yu. Nice to meet you.”
The young man returned the gesture: “Greetings, Young Hero Luo. I’m Gu Ruohai from Tengyun Pavilion. Which sect are you from?”
Luo Yu cleared his throat and said hesitantly, “I’m not from any sect.”
Gu Ruohai smiled: “No matter.”
Luo Yu walked over and asked, “Have you been here long?”
Gu Ruohai shrugged, “Not too long.”
Just then, someone else exited the forest. It was the young man he’d been staring at yesterday. Luo Yu suddenly felt flustered and hoped his expression wasn’t showing it.
He recalled that while he was waiting his turn during the assessment yesterday, he’d been randomly glancing through the crowd when this person caught his eye. He was one of the taller ones there and his clean, good-looks made him stand out. Just as Luo Yu was wondering which sect he was from, the young man looked over and their gazes locked.
It was odd, because neither of them looked away until the lady from Lesser Jade House called him over, “You there, you’re next.” It was then that Luo Yu snapped out of his daze and went to face the lady.
After he’d passed the assessment and was heading up the stairs, he glanced back into the crowd. To his surprise and embarrassment, the young man was still staring unwaveringly at him. This time, he had a slight smile on his face. Seeing that he’d been spotted, Luo Yu had quickly turned and walked away.
He saw him again at the farmhouse last night and again this morning when they’d all gathered to head to the chain bridge.
Having come across him again this time, Luo Yu swallowed nervously. Next to him, Gu Ruohai cupped his fists and called out: “Greetings, young hero. I’m Gu Ruohai from Tengyun Pavilion.”
Luo Yu followed him to cup his fists.
The young man replied in kind, “Greetings, I’m Qin Jianyue.” Then he approached them and smiled at Luo Yu, “…and you are?
Luo Yu could feel the tips of his ears turning hot, “Luo Yu. Nice to meet you.”
Qin Jianyue continued to smile and said softly, “Nice to meet you.”
Gu Ruohai looked over behind Qin Jianyue and remarked: “Oh, it seems like there’s someone else coming out of the forest.”
Luo Yu and Qin Jianyue also turned to look.
It was the Devil Sect’s Young Saint, Su Huaizhu. He was dressed in red and sauntering out to the clearing. When he noticed the others at the boulder, he stopped. Then he walked over to the opposite boulder and leaned on it.
Gu Ruohai cleared his throat and cupped his fists in his direction: “Young Hero Su.”
Su Huaizhu looked up and eyed the three of them before perfunctorily returning the greeting.
Luo Yu glanced between Gu Ruohai and Su Huaizhu. They seemed like two wary foxes facing off at one another. It wasn’t surprising in the least. After all, both were from rival factions in the Jianghu. He just hoped they wouldn’t start a fight here.
“At last!” came an abrupt cry from the forest.
Everyone turned to look. It was a youth in dark blue clothing who’d just stumbled out into the clearing. He looked up and straightened his appearance before making his greetings, “Um, hello everyone.”
Just as he walked over, the lady from yesterday’s assessment reappeared. She was dressed in light blue and looked to be in her late thirties.
“Well done, all of you. I’m Ru Lin. You can call me Ru shijie. Firstly, I would like to congratulate this young man here.” She turned to Gu Ruohai. “You have managed to exit the Stone Forest Bewilderment Array in slightly over two sticks of incense time. This is a new record.”
Having heard this, everyone turned to look at Gu Ruohai. Luo Yu saw from his expression that he was also taken aback at Ru shijie’s abrupt announcement.
Ru shijie continued, “Now if you’ll please follow me, I’ll take you to Lesser Jade House.” With a flick of her sleeves, she turned and walked away.
Everyone hurried to follow after her. Gu Ruohai and Su Huaizhu were at the front. The youth in dark blue hastened his steps and Luo Yu let him pass.
As Luo Yu walked, Qin Jianyue fell in step to accompany him.
“I saw you watching me yesterday.” Qin Jianyue smiled and said in a low voice.
Luo Yu could feel his cheeks warming up but he tried to remain calm.
Qin Jianyue continued, “I was watching you too.”
That remark startled Luo Yu and he inadvertently stumbled. Luckily his arm was caught by Qin Jianyue before he fell face forward.
“Careful.” Qin Jianyue said.
Luo Yu straightened and said, “Many thanks, Young Hero Qin.” Then he quickened his pace to keep up with the others. He didn’t dare look directly at Qin Jianyue. Being so near to him had already made him so nervous. And the things he said! Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to have come here. What was he thinking?
Qin Jianyue lengthened his strides until he was next to Luo Yu.
Luo Yu walked a little quicker. Qin Jianyue walked a little quicker.
Luo Yu deliberately slowed down. As did Qin Jianyue!
Ultimately, Luo Yu couldn’t stand it anymore and turned to face him: “Why are you following me?!”
Qin Jianyue blinked and smiled, “Aren’t we going the same way?”
Everyone else had heard Luo Yu’s outburst and turned around. Ru shijie called from ahead: “Is something wrong?”
Luo Yu closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Then he opened them, glared at Qin Jianyue before calling back to Ru shijie: “Nothing.” He began to walk again and Qin Jianyue also kept up.
Soon, Ru shijie led them to cross a chain bridge to arrive at Lesser Jade House’s main entrance and showed them into a courtyard.
Ru shijie said, “This is the guest compound. Please rest here until we come and get you.” Then she left the five of them in the courtyard staring at each other in confusion.
The courtyard had white walls and grey tiles. There were three rooms there and a pantry in the corner.
Su Huaizhu didn’t say anything. He went straight into one of the rooms and closed the door.
Gu Ruohai turned to the rest of them, “It looks like Young Hero Su isn’t in want of company. The four of us can stay in the remaining two—”
“I’ll stay with you!” Luo Yu quickly piped up before Gu Ruohai had even finished speaking. He knew where this was heading and didn’t want to be stuck with Qin Jianyue.
Gu Ruohai blinked and smiled, “Sure, Young Hero Luo.”
Qin Jianyue smiled and gave a small shake of his head as he watched Luo Yu and Gu Ruohai enter the east room. He turned to the youth in dark blue, “Hello, I’m Qin Jianyue. Nice to meet you.”
The youth cupped his fists, “Nice to meet you. I’m Wang Ke.”
Qin Jianyue gestured to the west room, “Shall we?”
Wang Ke gestured back, “After you.”
Several hours passed before Ru shijie returned with another four participants, two teenage boys and girls. The sun was just beginning its westward descent as the group followed her up the mountain to Lesser Jade House’s main hall.
By the time everyone arrived, it was already dusk. There were two ladies and two men lighting candles in the main hall where three side-by-side seats had been arranged. Ru shijie led the group of nine inside the hall and waited. Once all the candles had been lit, the hall became much brighter.
Ru shijie went to a side hall, retrieved a scroll portrait of a young woman in green and hung it behind the middle seat.
Ru shijie addressed the group: “As of now, you’re all disciples of Lesser Jade House. Our Shizun or ‘Immortal Qingbo’ is often travelling the world or in seclusion, so we hardly get to see her. However, she still communicates with us through her little green bird which you will see while you are here. In the meantime, pay your respects to this portrait.”
All the youngsters had bewildered looks on their faces.
Luo Yu thought to himself: That was a lot of information to take in at once.
Wang Ke held up his hand and asked, “Um, is this some sort of trick?”
A man in his thirties walked up next to Ru shijie and addressed them, “Don’t be alarmed. Shizun rarely has the time to train disciples directly. Therefore, this task falls upon us, your shixiongs and shijies. I’m Huang Chen. We call each other by name or as shixiong or shijie since it is too troublesome to keep track of all of us from Lesser Jade House.”
One by one, the group performed their shizun-disciple bows to the portrait and were subsequently assigned under different shixiongs and shijies depending on their specialties before following them away. After Qin Jianyue was assigned under Ru shijie, Luo Yu was the last participant there.
Ru shijie addressed Luo Yu: “Your situation is special, therefore Old Qi and I will jointly tutor you. Right now, he’s away managing the farmhouse and will only return tomorrow. Follow me, I’ll bring you to Shuang Ju Garden.”
Among all the courtyards in Lesser Jade House, Shuang Ju Garden was different. It was a combination of two courtyards that mirrored each other. Although the courtyards were separated by a wall, occupants could pass freely through the round archway in the middle. It maintained a certain amount of privacy while allowing both sides to meet up.
Ru shijie explained once they set foot inside, “Shuang Ju Garden was designed to accommodate instances where two tutors would share disciples. In the history of Lesser Jade Garden, this is the third time this has happened. Old Qi is proficient in healing. I focus on martial arts and methodologies, therefore this setup makes it convenient. His courtyard is on the left and mine is on the right.”
Luo Yu observed the setting. It was peaceful enough. Initially, when he’d realised that both he and Qin Jianyue would be under Ru shijie and living so close by, he was rather unsettled. But now, at least they had their own space.
Ru shijie allowed them time to freshen up before dinner, then she brought them to the dining hall. Other shixiongs and shijies gradually showed up with their disciples. After picking their food from the long table, everyone sat down to eat. It had been a long day and there wasn’t much chatter.
The shixiongs and shijies took this time to highlight certain matters to the new disciples. Firstly, they informed on several locations around Lesser Jade house such as the male and female communal baths, various pavilions and the martial arts field.
Next, the disciples were instructed that they were not allowed to visit each other’s courtyards unless it was a special day like Mid-Autumn Festival, when there was no training done. There were other things such as not practising dangerous techniques without first consulting with their respective shixiongs or shijies, anything involving Jianghu matters (since Lesser Jade House stayed away from such affairs) and leaving Lesser Jade House without permission.
When dinner was done, everyone retired back to their rooms to unpack and rest.
Earlier, when Huang shixiong had informed where the communal bathhouse was, Luo Yu had already planned to take a bath there before bed. Once he’d unpacked all his belongings, he prepared a change of clothes and his bathing items before heading out of the room. He’d just closed his room door when he saw a light at what he assumed was an alcove at the back wall.
Curious, Luo Yu walked over and realised it was a short corridor which led to a smaller courtyard behind his room. Although it was summer then, Lesser Jade House was situated on a mountain peak and the temperature was much cooler than the foot of the mountain. Strangely, the atmosphere in this courtyard was foggy and he couldn’t actually see inside although there were several lit lamps all around.
Luo Yu walked further in and he vaguely noticed that there was a pool with steam rising from it. A hot spring!
How convenient, I won’t have to leave the courtyard to take a bath. Why didn’t Ru shijie mention this? He thought as he removed his clothing, set it on the bank before submerging himself into the pool with a sigh.
Just as Luo Yu surfaced, he heard someone clearing his throat.