They spent a moment enjoying themselves and bathing in the happiness before they went back to the topic. The owl had a lot to check. And he needed to keep his image too. He said: "So, young one, what is your name?"
He did need to know his name. Even if it was fun, calling him 'young one' and such constantly would be a pain. The kid answered right away: "I'm Jung-Su, brother Owl. What should I call you?"
Right. He would need to give a name too. It was obvious since he had asked for one. And yet, only moments ago did he push aside this fact. He wanted to wait before making a decision on his name. The reason was that he thought of his family from the previous life. If he could meet them again in this life, he would keep his previous name for sure. But if he couldn't, was there any point?
The thoughts itself were saddening. The name didn't represent who he is any longer but who he had been and who he knew…Choosing meant living for the past, giving it up meant moving on. It wasn't the kind of choice he could make willy-nilly. He needed more time. Time to understand where he was and maybe even when he was.
In the end, he decided not to give a name: "Just keep calling me Owl"
The kid nodded. He was fine with it. Probably because he was an owl and he had been calling him so since the start.
After they discussed a lot. It was mostly Owl (pending name until he made a choice) asking the questions. He learnt a lot through the mouth of this innocent and naïve youth.
Besides being named Jung-Su, the kid was 14 years old and at the 2nd stage of spiritual accumulation. He was considered under-average amongst his peers in his sect, the Serene Summer Pavilion. However, it wasn't because he lacked talent. Actually, he believed to be average or even just a little above average. It was because he was poor. He had no resources. And for the past three months, he had been stolen from by the gang of bullies. He went on to tattle and ended up here instead of being given justice.
Owl had expected such a scenario. It was quite obvious that the kid was poor from a glance. Tattered clothes, no spatial rings and not even any healing pills on hand. His goal was to get resources but how could he get any from a poor chap like this? Well, the end goal was the resources. But the point of making a connection with this youth was to get a door into the cultivation world of humans.
He knew how sects worked and he would no doubt easily manage to grab the resources through using the kid. The reason this kid was being bullied was his weakness and that would no longer be a valid reason. Because he was here. And no one would bully his 'host' under his watch.
As for the fact that such bullying took place in the sect and the elders turned a blind eye…The kid did mention that the Serene Summer Pavilion was a bottom-ranked sect. It wasn't too far-fetched to expect the elders to be corrupt. That was fine in its own way, he could make use of it later too.
In the end, wherever you went, might was the answer.
Now that he knew the general situation, he needed to make sure the kid understood his position. He told him: "Alright, Jung-Su, listen well. I don't mind giving you my help. However, there is a price, I don't work for free"
Jung-Su frowned but nodded his head regardless. His thoughts hadn't changed. Whatever the price, if it could change his fate, he would pay!
Owl was satisfied and continued: "I want 60% resources of everything you will get. In exchange, I will make sure you are never again bullied and earn much more than you could have dreamt of, what do you say?"
Jung-Su was bewildered. He first thought that Owl would have asked for something like his life or even his soul. Maybe he would ask him to grow in order to eat him later. Such thoughts had gone through his head. He would have agreed to anything if it could help his family in the countryside and punish the fuckers who put him in such a wretched state.
He didn't expect the condition to be so…so small… 60% of resources? This wasn't much compared to his life and his future. He agreed instantly making the spiritual beast very happy.
Since all had been said, and Jung-Su had recuperated enough, it was time to move on. Owl asked him to lead the way and followed him on foot. It surprised Jung-Su quite a lot to see the one meter tall bird follow him in such a way. He expected it to fly. After all, this was a bird with very weak and thin legs… Still, this Owl didn't seem to care or feel any difficulties keeping up.
In fact, Owl wasn't having any difficulty in following the kid. He simply circulated his spiritual energy to help himself walk. It was both training and walking. In order to become ever stronger, the strong ones never stop.
They went around the forest and arrived at the foot of a mountain. This mountain was part of the sect and its entrance. One could see many houses and pavilions built all over the mountain. Most of them were made of orange materials and had red tiled roofs. It harmonized rather well with the brown soil of the mountain and the greeneries here and there. As they approached, Owl could see that there was a long wall surrounding the entire mountain. At least, from where he was, he couldn't see the end of it on either side as it seemed to be circular, going behind the mountain.
Jung-Su pointed to a giant double-door gate with 'Serene Summer' characters painted red upon it and excitedly said: "This is the entrance, brother Owl!"
He seemed to be quite emotional. Considering he nearly died and probably felt like he would never come back… Yeah, it seemed to be a very natural reaction considering his age. This was still his home after all.
They walked to the gates and were halted by a team of mortal guards. It was quite hilarious to Owl. This truly was a lowly set, to make use of mortals as gatekeepers…Tsk, tsk… It was said that the might of the gatekeepers was a reflection of the might of the owner. This was severely lacking.
One of the guards spoke: "This is the Serene Summer Pavilion! State your business!"
Owl chuckled. He wondered if the guy had to say to everyone that came here. It would be hilarious if he had to and many groups came at the same time. Jung-Su didn't think it funny though and bowed before he stated his business: "Disciple Jung-Su returns from a trip to the forest!"
The guard looked at him and felt he was vaguely familiar…then he recalled the group of kids that came back an hour or so earlier who faked sadness after stating one of their friends died. The name of the dead kid, wasn't it the same as this one? He narrowed his eyes with suspicion. It could be someone using the clothes of the dead to enter and wreak havoc. If that happened under his watch, the cultivators might slaughter his entire family… He didn't want to take the risk and was ready to refuse entrance to the kid. However, a voice was heard from inside before he could.
It was a high-pitched voice from a young girl. She hurried over with tears threatening to come down her eyes. She was of course wearing the same robe as Jung-Su except hers were clean. As she approached, she screamed his name before diving in his arms for a hug.
In normal times, he would have caught her and hugged her back but he was still injured. He had only healed enough to come back, not completely. And so, instead, the both of them ended up falling down to the ground. But the girl didn't seem to mind. She stayed in his arms.
He sighed a she patted her head and reassured her: "It's fine, Sun-Mi, I'm alright, see?"
She got up, a little embarrassed and helped him up. Then, she smiled at him and said: "It's good that you're well. Welcome back, Jung-Su!"
He nodded at her. Then, as if remembering something, he introduced his new partner to the girl: "Sun-Mi, here, let me introduce you to brother Owl!"
The girl turned to see what he wanted to show her. She got very surprised to see a spiritual beast standing there watching them with a seemingly intelligent gaze.