Vol. 1: chapter thirteen – probed

Li Xinwen stared at Min Xiaoyu but didn’t say anything. Li Jinghua was confused, and Xue Rui had an annoyed look on his face.

“How did you catch up to us?” Xue Rui asked, his eyes narrowing as he looked at Min Xiaoyu.

“Even if I explain, you wouldn’t understand,” Min Xiaoyu replied with a smile on his face. “So, let’s just say that I have my ways. Now, are we going to continue talking out here?”

Ah‘Wen, Hua-er, hurry up inside or dinner will get cold.”

A warm, gentle voice sounded from the direction of the house, making the three turn to face the front door. “Oh, do we have a guest? Why are you two being rude? Don’t keep him waiting outside! Hurry and invite him in!” Li mother stood by the door and reprimanded both of her children.

Left with no choice, Li Jinghua approached Min Xiaoyu, who stood behind the gate. “Mr. Min, please come in. Have you had dinner? If not, how about joining us? We are just about to sit down,” Li Jinghua said as she opened the gate manually.

“Thank you! Then I will be in your care,” and Min Xiaoyu shot a friendly smile to Li Jinghua. “But I don’t believe I have introduced myself yet. How do you know my name?”

“I work in a brokerage firm and your name pops up quite a lot in my workplace,” Li Jinghua answered. Of course, it was a lie. Sure, Min Xiaoyu was a young master but compared to Xue Rui, he was not as well known. His name might pop up once or twice a month but that was it.

It was only due to her knowledge of the future that Li Jinghua knew who Min Xiaoyu was. Min Xiaoyu was one of the powerhouses during the apocalypse. Though he only awakened a single ability, he was able to integrate that ability with his use of martial arts. The period of the apocalypse revealed that he was actually one of the direct descendants of the first Emperor of the Min Dynasty. And, there was also the fact that Min Xiaoyu was able to create a medicine that helped fight the virus that infected those wounded or bitten by the zombies.

Li Xinwen just stood there and stared as Li Jinghua and Min Xiaoyu exchanged pleasantries. Once the introductions were finished, Min Xiaoyu went to his car and drove it into their driveway. Li Xinwen decided to hide the cauldron since he knew that was Min Xiaoyu’s target. He picked up the box containing the cauldron with one hand and went into the house. Before he passed his mother though, he made sure to give the older woman a kiss on the cheek. “I’m home, mother,” he smiled then rushed upstairs to his room.

As soon as Li Xinwen entered his room, he locked the door and looked around for a place to hide the box. “If only I still had my Qiankun bag. It would be easier to hide this!” Li Xinwen lamented. His eyes landed on the walk-in closet and he decided to hide his treasures inside. He also left his jian beside the box, thinking that he would look at them later after dinner. The next thing he did could only be described as childish – he took off the clothes that were hanging in the closet and dumped them on top of his two new treasures.

Only after he felt that they were well hidden did he walk away from the closet. Smiling triumphantly, he opened the door and was greeted by Xue Rui, who held the other jian. “Xinwen,” Xue Rui smiled when he saw Li Xinwen. “You forgot this,” he said as he held up the jian in his hand.

“Ah, yes!” Li Xinwen responded as he took the jian from Xue Rui. He unfastened the leather belt and unwrapped the velvet fabric, then pulled the blade out of its scabbard to inspect its quality. The blade was actually well forged but to Li Xinwen’s disappointment, it looked like nothing more than a toy.

‘Of course… As expected… Although the blade is well-forged, the craftsmanship does not compare to Long Xin’s jians that are made by craftsman cultivators… ‘ Li Xinwen sighed and placed it back into its scabbard, then placed it on his bed.

“That Min Xiaoyu person, is he downstairs?” Li Xinwen asked as he turned towards Xue Rui.

“Yes. Your mother invited him in for dinner. There is nothing I can do about it.”

“I don’t expect you to, Rui-ge. Mom misunderstood that he’s our friend and Hua-jie seems to know him. Well, he wants the cauldron, but I won’t be giving it to him. He will go home empty-handed,” Li Xinwen said with a confident smile on his face. “Let us go down and eat dinner.”

When they reached the dining room, Li Xinwen saw that Min Xiaoyu had already settled down. He was comfortably talking with his mother as if they had known each other for a long time. This scene, for some unknown reason, annoyed Li Xinwen a lot. He took his seat beside Mother Li, which was opposite Min Xiaoyu.

Xue Rui wanted to sit beside Li Xinwen but, seeing that the only empty chair left was beside Mother Li and the other was beside Sun Xiao, he ended up choosing the chair beside Sun Xiao. After all, it would be awkward to sit beside Mother Li. He was hoping that he could sit opposite Li Xinwen, but then Li Xinwen chose to sit on the other chair instead.

Not long after, Li Jinghua came out with a tureen and placed it in the middle of the table. “Ah‘Wen still cannot eat hard food, right? So, don’t pick up the meat. You can eat the tofu instead,” she reminded Li Xinwen.

“Wait, is that the meat that I bought with mom earlier this morning?” Li Xinwen asked, alarmed.

“Yes, ah! Since you bought it, it would be a shame not to cook it!” Li Jinghua said with a playful grin on her face.

“But,” Li Xinwen couldn’t believe his ears. He wanted to enjoy the meat too. If only he could just tell them that he had fully recovered… but alas, that would make him sound suspicious.

“Hua-er, don’t tease your brother too much,” Mother Li reprimanded Li Jinghua in a gentle manner, and she rubbed Li Xinwen’s arm as if to soothe her son’s feelings.

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“I am joking, Ah‘Wen,” Li Jinghua chuckled when she saw her brother’s wronged expression. “You can eat the meat. We made sure to pick something that is soft and tender, and it is cut into small pieces.”

Li Xinwen picked up his chopsticks and was about to start eating when Min Xiaoyu asked: “Did something happen to you that you are not allowed to eat hard food?”

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“Why do you ask?” it was Xue Rui who replied, in a hostile tone.

“I am simply curious,” Min Xiaoyu replied with a friendly smile on his face.

Ah‘Wen got into a car accident a few months ago. He just got discharged yesterday and the doctor advised us not to let him eat hard food,” Li mother, who had not noticed the hostility between the two, answered Min Xiaoyu.

“Is that so? But…” Min Xiaoyu glanced at Li Xinwen who had already started eating. Upon feeling Min Xiaoyu’s gaze, Li Xinwen frowned and looked up. The moment their eyes met, Li Xinwen felt a foreign spiritual force entering his meridians.

‘Soul Search?! No, it’s weak. Spiritual probing?’ Li Xinwen thought as he quickly exercised his own spiritual force and blocked them. He glared at Min Xiaoyu as if warning him not to try it again.

When Min Xiaoyu felt that his probing was abruptly blocked, his eyes widened in shock. “You practice martial arts?” he asked out loud, shocking everyone at the table. Li Jinghua’s shock was the most visible — she lost the grip she had on her chopstick. “That’s great!” he continued. “I have been trying to find someone with your aptitude for a while! How about it? Want to join our school? My grandfather would love to have a student like you!”

“I refuse!” Li Xinwen quickly answered, but Li Jinghua felt that the opportunity was too good to let it slip.

“Wait! Ah‘Wen, I think it would be good if you accept. Mr. Min’s martial arts style will help you with therapy too. And who knows, in the future, you might be able to use it for self-defence!” Li Jinghua tried to convince Li Xinwen to accept.

In the apocalypse, Li Xinwen did not awaken any ability, so he had to use guns or cold weapons. It had been manageable at first but as time went by, it was simply a nightmare. Remembering her younger brother’s gruesome fate in that future made Li Jinghua shiver. “Ah‘Wen, please… Just listen to your sister this time?”

“You seem to have high expectations from Min Xiaoyu. How do you know him?” this time, it was Xue Rui who asked. He didn’t like it when Li Jinghua pushed Li Xinwen to study martial arts with Min Xiaoyu. “If it is just martial arts, I can find a teacher for Xinwen. There is no need to rely on him.”

“Rui, you keep quiet. I have my reasons!” Li Jinghua exclaimed.

“What reasons?!” Xue Rui asked, slowly losing his control. He was getting more and more annoyed with how Li Jinghua was acting. ‘She knows of my feelings towards her brother, why is she pushing him towards someone else?!’

“That…” Li Jinghua was unable to reply. After all, she couldn’t suddenly tell them that the apocalypse would happen in five years or that in that future Min Xiaoyu would become one of humanity’s powerhouses.

Sun Xiao, who had been quiet during this exchange, suddenly showed a difficult expression. It was one thing to be stuck between the two men who seemed dead set on antagonizing each other, but now it seemed that Li Jinghua was acting like she wanted to add oil to the raging fire.

“Alright. I think that is enough,” Mother Li said. “Hua-er, Rui is your fiancé. You should understand a man’s heart. He is just being jealous that you think highly of another man,” she continued, attempting to pacify the situation. “As for Ah‘Wen learning martial arts, he just returned home, and he just woke up from his coma. He needs to rest and recover first.”

Li Xinwen, on the other hand, despite being the topic of the heated discussion, just continued to eat after his refusal. He quickly finished his meal and just watched the drama unfold.

Min Xiaoyu tried to assure Mother Li. “About that, Madam Li does not have to worry! Martial arts is not all about movement. There are also breathing exercises and meditation!” He continued, “Since he had just recovered, those two can help him calm himself and also, with good guidance, the blood vessels within his body could open up wider and even make him healthier!”

“Really?” Mother Li seemed convinced, but she looked over at Li Xinwen with a worried expression. After all, this was her son whom she had almost lost a few months ago. “Well, if Ah‘Wen agrees…”

“He’ll agree!” Li Jinghua quickly interjected. “Right, Ah‘Wen?” her eyes landed on Li Xinwen and she silently begged her brother to agree.

“Xinwen, think about it more. I can find you a better teacher!” Xue Rui felt the crisis rising up. For some reason, he felt that if Li Xinwen agreed, then their time together would be reduced significantly. He was yet to win Li Xinwen’s heart, so he needed all the time he could get.

“I dare you to find a master that is better than my grandfather!” Min Xiaoyu glared at Xue Rui.

“The world of martial arts doesn’t revolve around your grandfather! I’m sure there are still hidden masters around who are better than your grandfather!!” Xue Rui returned the glare and the two started a glaring contest.

Sun Xiao who was silent all this time finally finished his meal and put down his cutlery. “I’ve finished eating,” he said as he stood up. He wanted to escape the suffocating atmosphere their argument was creating. “I’ll go to my room and do my homework…”

“Alright. The food is getting cold. Anything else can be discussed later,” Mother Li said, determined to stop the bickering between the two men. Seeing that the little drama was over, Li Xinwen did not feel the need to stay any longer either.

“I’ve also finished eating. I’ll go rest and watch TV in the living room,” he said as he too left the dining table. When he sat on the sofa, he turned on the TV and began to analyze what he had just witnessed. His sister was a bit too familiar with Min Xiaoyu. If he didn’t know any better, her actions made it seem like she had feelings for him.

‘Hua-jie also sounded desperate earlier. I don’t think it’s just that she is attracted to Min Xiaoyu’s. The worry in her eyes was real when she looked at me. Does she know something? Why is she so afraid that I would be hurt?’ as Li Xinwen thought of this, he scoured over the original’s memories for anything that could be a danger to his life. He searched and searched, but he couldn’t find anything. ‘I’d better ask her later…’

Once he made up his mind, his thoughts went to Min Xiaoyu. He was truly someone Li Xinwen did not expect to find in this mortal realm. ‘Actually, how far has he cultivated?’ he wondered as he glanced at Min Xiaoyu who was currently eating peacefully, without any shame despite being in a stranger’s house. ‘Since he used spiritual probing, I should return the favour.’

With a smirk, he sent out his spiritual energy and guided them towards Min Xiaoyu. It was either that Min Xiaoyu was not expecting Li Xinwen to probe him, or Min Xiaoyu had yet to learn how to defend himself from spiritual probing because Li Xinwen got past his defences quite easily. ‘Hmm… Peak 1st stage of Houtian. Not bad for a mortal,’ Li Xinwen thought as he guided his energy deeper.

Thinking how Min Xiaoyu was adamant on getting the cauldron to the point of chasing him all the way home, Li Xinwen became curious as to how much this man knew already. So he guided his spiritual energy to probe his mind next. But who would’ve guessed that when he began probing, he was met with a seal that protected Min Xiaoyu’s mind? ‘This seal… Made by a peak Xiantian cultivator!’ Li Xinwen was truly surprised by his finding.

It must be said that back in Long Xing, the average number of years a cultivator would need to study to reach peak Xiantian was about sixty years. A person with a higher aptitude could take around twenty years. A genius would take merely ten to fifteen years. Li Xinwen himself had taken thirteen years to reach peak Xiantian stage, and the spiritual energy within Long Xing was very abundant compared to this world.

‘I’d like to meet this person…’ Li Xinwen thought with a smile. Someone who could reach Xiantian in the mortal realm must have something special with them to help them cultivate in this almost barren world. Withdrawing his spiritual energy from Min Xiaoyu, Li Xinwen began to relax.

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