Once he reached the border of Liaoyang, Dong Xin readopted his sloppy, hobo-like persona. It was convenient that his clothes looked worn from his time in the desert as well. This style generally led to people underestimating him, which was very convenient. Of course, that only worked if they weren’t capable of sensing his level of training, but he had some methods to hide that from casual observers.
He supposed he could move openly, but who knew if Ostana had spies here. He doubted it, at least the wizards hadn’t seemed that organized. Regardless, it had been over a year and a half. Unrelated to necessity, he liked people leaving him alone. Although he had taken on an active role for the Order of the Watchful Sentry, his travels had mostly been because he had the capability and the least responsibilities. He sighed and shook his head. Obviously he hadn’t had the right skills to have any results in Ustil, and all the progress in Liaoyang had come on William’s end… though he had also caused most of the problems as well.
Once he was in Liaoyang, after some small incidents in the forest, it only took time to return to the Yu clan. That was where his first point of contact with the Order would be… and his friend as well, Yu Jian. At the gates the particular guards on duty didn’t recognize him. However, they had the good sense to still relay his message. After all, if he was someone that Yu Jian would want to see, they needed to deliver it. If he turned out not to be… well, they would have a reasonable excuse to give him a solid beating. They were well trained enough to not act arrogantly to any who could potentially be guests.
It wasn’t long before the guards who delivered the message returned with Yu Jian himself, who had a large grin. “Welcome back. I heard some interesting things from Ostana… I don’t suppose you were involved?”
After they entered inside to a more private place, Dong Xin explained the details, up until the death of the Archmage, including the encounter with the Cyril family, and later the assassins.
“Really? Hui’Lam kicked him out of the window? Hah! That’s great.” Then he frowned slightly. “Though I suppose that does make our plans somewhat harder.”
“Well, I don’t think we would have been able to work with that Archmage anyway. In the long run, it might be better. After that, we discovered that the knights had an annoyingly efficient network. At William’s request, I had to leave him behind… though my presence wouldn’t have helped at all.” Dong Xin shook his head. “From the way it was explained to me, he quickly became something like friends… or allies… or something with the Knight Commander. I feel like some details might have been left out… but it certainly can be seen that Hui’Lam quickly divides people into allies and enemies. He also seems to be extraordinarily lucky. They actually had the scroll for Shattering the Soul there. Though, as he would explain it, there was a better chance of it just being with the Cyril family, where he had originally left it. In the end, he taught the Knight Commander how to cultivate.”
“Interesting. While perhaps my nationalistic pride sees that as a bad idea, we need everyone we can who has the chance to use that technique. Have you seen it?”
Dong Xin shook his head. “William wasn’t able to bring the scroll with him, but he did instruct me in the basics so that I could start practicing it.” He pulled out a small scroll case. “Here are some of his notes for you.”
Yu Jian took the scroll and read it. “Interesting. It had specific instructions to me, and to Yu Huan. How long had he been practicing this? A year? Well, I suppose he saw it… before.”
Dong Xin shrugged. “That may or may not have made a difference. He certainly didn’t remember enough to practice it before.”
“Have you been able to practice it at all?”
“I’ve made some small progress, but in my attempts to use it on a scorpion I failed. Hui’Lam had previously used it on a bee… resulting in significant damage to the stone floor in the resulting explosion. Thus, anything large is not recommended, unless bees are found to have particularly large souls.”
“He had some significant progress after only a year, huh? Not bad.”
“Actually, that was after a few weeks. Perhaps he could use it on something more powerful now, but besides the personal danger that involves, it’s somewhat morally questionable. It doesn’t need to be used on something to train it, either, but only serves as a useful test of your current limits.”
“Hmm, very good. I am glad you showed up when you did. We’ve been having some trouble with the Song clan. Nothing major yet, but I could use another strong ally… just in case. More specifically, I would appreciate it if you would watch over Yu Huan.”
“I certainly wouldn’t mind… though she might.”
“She will understand. She is likely the most talented member of the younger generation, and the Song clan would very much like to cause her trouble. Besides, they can’t even try to take their anger out on Hui’Lam, since he is no longer around. Though he is apparently still causing trouble. Haha, if only I had the energy to do that, perhaps I might act the same… I imagine you would as well. It seems perhaps the only difference between us is… William happens to possess a younger body.”
“Hmph. I’ll have you know I generally stayed out of trouble.”
“Oh? What about the dragon?”
“That wasn’t even my fault! I was doing a perfectly good job of picking up the scales it had shed when somebody came and woke it up!”
“Hahaha! If I recall correctly, it was already chasing you when I reached the cave…”
“Hmph!” Dong Xin acted offended… but it was hard when he was grinning.
“It’s good to have you back, though. We really could use some reports on progress as a whole. How did things go in Ustil?”
Dong Xin explained everything that had happened as best as he could. “It seems that I am perhaps not cut out for getting things done anymore. At least I didn’t cause more trouble.”
They both nodded, and talked long into the evening, before Yu Jian had to attend to other business.