Chapter 344: Misgivings
"What are you thinking about, Yunfei?" Tang Xinyun questioned when she saw the look on his face.
"Oh, it's nothing." Bai Yunfei shook his head, "Auntie Xue," he turned to the woman, "please try these accessories. They should be beneficial in the future, so I hope that they will do you well."
Chu Qingxue looked hesitant to take the., though. "I... Yunfei, aren't these soul armaments given to you by the seniors at the Crafting School? Shouldn't you..."
"Don't worry, auntie Xue." Bai Yunfei smiled, "They're really not much. These are considered incomplete soul armaments in the Crafting School, so they're not worth much."
He couldn't exactly say that he could get even more of those accessories whenever he wanted. The woman might be Tang Xinyun's mother, but his secret had only been shared with Tang Xinyun.
"Yunfei's right, mom. He's the personal disciple of senior Zi Jin, so he has plenty of stuff. Don't feel like you need to hold back with him." Tang Xinyun smiled as she helped Bai Yunfei with an excuse. There was a subtle tone to her voice as she spoke...
"In that case... I'll partake then." Chu Qingxue relented. Taking the accessories from Tang Xinyun's hands, she rose from her seat, "It's getting late. You should both go to sleep after you eat your meal, Xinyun, Yunfei."
"We will." Bai Yunfei nodded. Taking one of the meals, he stood up and walked back to his own room. Tang Xinyun led Kou Tingting to her room so that they could talk about something.
No one had even made it to their rooms when they all heard a commotion take place outside the courtyard. It was taking place far away, but due to the strengthened hearing that came with their abilities as soul cultivators, everyone in the courtyard heard the exchange and the footsteps that had turned toward the entrance.
"Fifth master! Please hold on! It's already very late. The young miss is most likely resting right now. Why not come back tomorrow to see her!"
A hurried voice called out, causing Bai Yunfei to look confused, "Fifth master? Is that..."
"Alright, alright! I get it! I just want to see my sister! If she's really sleeping, I'll come back tomorrow!" A juvenile voice cried out rather loudly.
Bai Yunfei could hear the impatient pattering of footsteps before he saw a small flash of violet light from the other side of the wall. A person was seen leaping to the top of the wall before jumping back down onto the ground in a half-second.
"Haha, is my sister here!"
Laughter accompanied the figure's voice as Bai Yunfei finally saw who this person was.
The figure looked to be a young boy about the age of fifteen or maybe sixteen. He wore simplistic gray robes that looked a little worse for wear. They had clearly gone through their fair share of travel. His hair was nice and short. His sharp eyebrows complemented the glint in his eyes. Though young in appearance, the man looked far more mature than his face would suggest.
"Lit-little Ming!?" Since the boy was calling for Tang Xinyun, she was the first to react to what he said.
"Haha, it's me, sis. I'm back!" The boy nodded his head excitedly. Running toward them, he quickly gave a bow of greeting to Chu Qingxue, "Little Ming pays his respects to mother-in-law!"
"Oh? Oh... you're back, Ming'er. How were yours travels?" It took a moment for Chu Qingxue to fully respond, but when she did, it was with a smile.
"It was great! Second Grandfather and I were able to see so many things!" The boy laughed merrily in response.
Bai Yunfei had a blank look on his face, but he was still able to recognize the fact that this youth was Tang Xinyun's brother and Hua Yueying's son, Tang Ming; the youngest heir of the Tang.
"Little Ming, did you only just get back?" Tang Xinyun asked when she saw his travel-weary clothes.
"Yep, only just came back from seeing dad! I heard sis came home, so I came here straight away to say hello, haha..." Chuckling as he rubbed his head, Tang Ming said again, "I heard you joined the Crafting School and became someone's disciple, is that true, sis?"
"It's true." A rather subdued nod was given.
"Woah, that's amazing! The Crafting School! I met a crafter while traveling, he was really strong and had many soul armaments!! I'm so jealous of him. Will you craft me a few soul armaments in the future?"
Finding it rather hard to keep up with what he was saying, Tang Xinyun could only manage to nod her head, "Er... yes..."
Tang Ming nodded happily at her response as he turned to face Bai Yunfei, "I heard on the way home that sis brought home a super strong person. Is that you, big brother? There's so many rumors I heard about you these past few days. Are you really strong?"
"Eh?" Bai Yunfei never imagined that he'd be targeted for questioning next. Forcing a smile to his lips, he answered, "Well... it's nice to meet you, brother Tang Ming. I'm Bai Yunfei, your sister's-"
"No need to be so polite, big brother Bai! Just call me Little Ming! I heard that you were the one that rescued sis when she was kidnapped, I wanted to thank you so much!"
"Ah, there's no need for thanks... I was just doing what needed to be done..." The super-polite way Tang Ming spoke unnerved Bai Yunfei so much that he was practically lost at how to respond.
A greeting was given to Kou Tingting afterwards. The way Tang Ming spoke was still very polite, and a conversation was soon kicked up with him. Though everyone was involved in the conversation, it felt as though Tang Ming was making the conversation himself with excited passion while everyone else listened to him with an odd expression...
At last, he mentioned that he still needed to see his mother and would have to leave. With an individual goodbye to everyone there, Tang Ming left the courtyards as energetically as he had come in.
Bai Yunfei was the first to speak after his presence had vanished from the courtyard. "Xinyun," he turned to her, "is... is he really the same brother you talked about before? I... I feel like he's pretty different than what you said he was like..."
She had told him that Tang Ming was an out-of-control little devil that was disagreeable and bossy beyond all else.
But not once did Bai Yunfei think that when talking with the boy!
"I... I don't know either. He's a completely different Little Ming than when he left. I really don't know what happened." Tang Xinyun's confusion was apparent. Had she not personally bore witness to her brother's return, she would've very much doubted that the boy was really her brother.
"Then wouldn't that mean... his travels caused something to change in him?" Bai Yunfei conjectured, "If he saw how big the world was and how strong the people are, wouldn't that be enough for his character to change?"
It was the only thing he could suggest; when Tang Ming spoke to him earlier, Bai Yunfei could tell his emotions were all from the heart and hadn't been faked at all. In a way, he radiated a very similar feeling to Ye Tianming from the Northern Cliff Province.
Both were very happy, carefree, and completely innocent young men...
What kind of person did he have to meet, or what kind of event did he have to go through for him to undergo such a drastic change in behavior?
Meanwhile, a gathering was taking place in the main hall of the Tang residence. The head of the house, Tang Qianlei, his younger brother, Tang Qianchi, and his third brother, Tang Qianshan were all standing there along with Tang Qianlei's eldest son, Tang Jing.
However, in a seat above them all was a seventy-year-old elder with white hair.
This elderly man was the 'Second Grandfather' Tang Ming spoke about, Tang Zhengde. Though he looked like seventy years old, his real age was nowhere near as 'young' as that.
"For clarification, second uncle... Ming'er was lost for an entire month during his trip!?"
A crease could be seen on Tang Qianlei's brows. If what he heard just now was correct, Tang Ming had been lost for an entire month just two months ago during his journey.
"That was indeed the case." Tang Zhengde nodded without any emotion. "It was when we were traveling through the Qilian Mountains. I didn't expect to find an enemy Soul King out there, so I hid Ming'er in a cave with instructions to not come out. It was a messy fight, but by the time I returned, he was nowhere to be found. All that was left was a message on the walls saying that someone had taken Ming'er on a trip for a month and to not worry.
"I searched everywhere for Ming'er, but he was nowhere to be found. After a month had passed, Ming'er found me himself. He never told me what happened during that one month, nor did he tell me anything about the person who had taken him..."
No one could find it possible for them to remain calm after hearing such an explanation.
"Was it from that moment on that Ming'er's personality changed to what it is now?" Tang Qianlei asked.
"Correct." Tang Zhengde nodded, "After he returned, it was as if Ming'er had become a man. He became polite, obedient, logical, and patient...
"For ten years, we've tried to teach him such to no avail, and to have a complete stranger accomplish that in a single month...? I looked all over Ming'er for any sign of brainwashing or mind control, but I couldn't find anything."
"Who could it be..." Thinking about the mysterious person, Tang Qianlei sighed when no answer came to him. "Whoever he is or whatever the case, everything is alright as long as Ming'er is fine. Isn't this what we've been hoping to achieve this entire time? The Ming'er of today is a vast improvement from before, he's what a young man his age should be..."
No one could disagree. They all gave a mental nod of approval to Tang Qianlei's words, but the concerns they had remained fresh in their minds
Just who was it that managed to make Tang Ming change so much in a single month?