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As The Heavens Fall

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Big crowds were not something he was used to.

In the capital of the cryo nation, the crowds were thinner than other, more commonly warmer places. Most humans and wildlife resented the cold or couldn’t handle staying out in it for extended periods of time, so most would avoid the area.

It’s not that he didn’t like humans or interacting with them, it just wasn’t something he did often. Afterall, any time he was away were for missions, and most of those didn’t require speaking to anyone. When he got sent on a mission, it was either for stealth or, more often, fighting.

So while in the bustling city that was often on the quiet side, he kept to himself, out of the eyes of the crowd and avoiding any sort of conflicts.

Well, for the most part.

“Don’t you have a mission to do?”

Without being startled at all, he looked over to the sound of the voice almost lazily. Standing there was a boy with black braided hair, and large glasses that covered most of his face, giving a small smile, as if he wasn’t surprised at all to find the other here. By how he asked about his mission, he probably wasn’t surprised at all.

“Would I be one to stand here idly if I didn’t?” he raised his eyebrows at the boy. “I’m waiting for him to show himself, and then I will act.”

“I thought your mission was to keep a close eye on him during the tournament.”

“It is, and I am.”

The boy laughed, throwing his head back a bit as he did so. “You would have anyone else convinced, but I’m no fool, Wuxian! And neither is Lao Jun! He knew exactly what he was doing when he sent you on this mission, haha, this is so funny.”

Wuxian looked away from the boy. He wasn’t pouting. He wasn’t.

“And what am I to call you this time? I have fallen out of contact with you for too long, I apologize for that.”

Waving his hand in the air as if to brush away the comment, the boy shook his head. “You’ve been busy, fighting fallen and vengeful gods is a full time job. I’ve been going by the name Argen. What do you think, does it suit me?”

“It’s your name, I have no control over what you refer to yourself as.”

“Not even going to humor me? I gave my thoughts on your new name, you could at least return the favor.”

“You gave your thoughts out willingly, I hadn’t asked for your input.”

Argen gave a humming noise as he finally turned away from Wuxian, following the others' line of sight.

From this distance, it was a bit hard to see the fighting arena, as bodies blocked their line of sight every now and again, having to rely mostly on the shouts and cheers from the crowd to make out what was going on, but Wuxian wasn’t here to watch the fight anyways.

He had a mission, and he was waiting for his moment to strike. He had no desire to watch a bunch of humans enter into a meaningless fight for a prize they will never be able to obtain. Argen on the other hand…

Wuxian’s eyes drifted to the boy once again, lingering for a moment before turning his attention back to the arena. “What are you doing here? You know nothing good will happen if you get caught.”

The boy let out a breathy laugh that didn’t sound amused in the slightest. “I have my own reasons.”

“You avoided traveling to the other nations for centuries now, you can’t blame me for being curious, especially since I can tell how anxious you are right now.”

Being called out like that made Argen tense up as he adjusted his stance, going from one that seemed to have confidence to one where he was a bit more on the defensive, ready to run at any moment. In a way, Wuxian felt sorry for the boy, and could understand his feelings.

“Ah, I have some friends in this area. I’m afraid they’re going to get themselves into some trouble. Neither of them are fighters, really, so I wanted to be here in case something did happen.”

Both of them had similar goals in mind for being here, and Wuxian wondered if this was the selfishness of two beings born of sin, or if this was a feeble attempt to hold onto something precious after losing everything in the past.

He didn’t want to stir up any more unwanted feelings inside Argen, so he dropped the subject and went silent once more. They continued to watch the tournament for a while more together, both waiting for the pin to drop and move into action.

 

 


 

Shanxin sighed heavily as she leaned over the railing, looking worn out.

The two of them had been searching around for hours for some trace of either the person giving out the delusions, or the one they saw last night that had just gotten one, but no matter where they looked, they turned up empty handed.

Xiaobai felt on edge as they returned to their balcony viewpoint, disappointed that they weren’t able to find any clues, even asking around had given them no leads, and the tournament was now on the last few fighters. It was really terrifying to think that either of those could cause damage at any time.

They knew now that the person giving out the delusions was also someone with a vision of their own, ready to cause chaos at a moment's notice, and the one with the delusion was not only putting themselves but others at risk just by having it in their possession.

After spending so long with no leads, the two of them had agreed to return back to the arena and be on the lookout, hoping to spot either of them before something happened, but honestly, Xiaobai was too tired mentally and physically to keep on eye out, and looking over at where Shanxin was slumped over the railing, it was easy to see that she was just as exhausted.

 

“Beloved audience, I welcome you to the final round of this year's Duel to Rule tournament!”

 

Xiaobai let out a small sigh as she turned her attention to the arena, where an announcer stood center stage. Maybe the person with the delusion from last night wasn’t a fighter, seeing as it was already the final round, but the thought didn’t put her any more at ease. The announcer took a while to say some thank you’s and to hype up the crowd a bit more, all of which Xiaobai only half paid attention to.

 

“And now, on to the main attraction! The fight you’ve all been waiting for!!”

The crowd roared and cheered wildly.

Shanxin reached out and shook Xiaobai insistently. “Xiaobai! Xiaobai!! This is where we see the Cryo Archon!!”

Ah, right, that’s right!! The Cryo Archon!! They were here to meet up with him as well!!

Remembering this, Xiaobai shook her head and leaned forward against the railing.

 

“Introducing the beloved berserker himself, watching over our land for generations and protecting us from the sheer cold of the mountains, laying the laws of our beloved nation, capturing the hearts of many for his fighting spirit and good looks, here he is, the Cryo Archon Xuanli!!”

Any excitement Xiaobai felt in her almost completely vanished into confusion, blinking her eyes a few times to make sure what she was seeing wasn’t some sort of illusion.

She could’ve sworn that the person walking out into the area…

He looked just like Argen, but… not?

 

“Shanxin, do you–ah,” the roaring from the crowd was almost deafening, as she tried to talk over it and realized Shanxin wasn’t able to hear a word she was saying, as the other was also letting out cheers of her own. She reached out and shook Shanxin on the arm to get her attention. It was no surprise that she was excited for this, honestly, and the energy from the crowd only made it more infectious.

Finally, after a few moments, Shanxin calmed down enough to turn her attention back to Xiaobai. “Yeah? What’s up?” she shouted to be heard through the crowd.

“Do you think that–that the Cryo Archon kinda looks like gege?”

Shanxin gave her a puzzled look before quickly turning her gaze to look back out at the arena. She was unmoving for a few moments, squinting and looking closely. While she did so, the crowd calmed as the announcer went on to continue speaking, introducing the opponent.

Finally, she leaned back and shook her head with a shrug. “I mean… Kind of?” Shanxin said uncertainty. “They both have black hair and wear a braid, but his is longer than Argen’s. You might just be imagining it since you miss him so much.”

That made a lot of sense, actually, and any other time she would have accepted that explanation and moved on, but there was a nagging feeling inside of her. She couldn’t quite tell what it was, but she knew this person must be connected to Argen in some way. She didn’t know how, nor why, but she couldn’t shake the feeling. But for now, she’d have to brush that aside, as the crowd cheered and booed as the opponent walked on stage.

This time, Shanxin shot to her feet, cursing loudly and catching Xiaobai’s attention, looking up at her friend before looking back down at the arena, and dread filled her entire body.

It was the person last night that got the delusion!!

 

The two of them rushed from where they had been seated at the balcony, pushing past the crowds and forcing their way until they were just on the edge of the arena, any sort of warning they tried giving was completely drowned out by the roaring of the crowd and the booming voice of the announcer. Upon reaching the arena, they were stopped from going any further, as the fight had already begun. All they could do for now was watch on helplessly.

At the beginning of the match, Xuanli just seemed to stand there for a moment, looking his opponent up and down before raising his eyebrows with a smirk. “Aren’t you too young to be here, kid?” he said.

And, now that Xiaobai actually got a look at them, she agreed. He couldn’t have been much older than herself, maybe closer to Argen’s age, and it was baffling. Having watched the tournament, she had seen fighters much older and bigger built than this person, and now, the desperation to get him to give up his delusion only grew in her chest.

Instead of answering, he brought his hands up into fists, getting into a fighting stance.

Xuanli shrugged. “Not much of a conversationalist? Neither am I. Come on, I’ll let you make the first move.”

The boy had no problems with that, as he remained silent. He moved quickly, much quicker than Xiaobai had expected him to, and was in front of Xuanli within an instant, arm pulled back for a punch before throwing his fist forward.

For a moment, Xiaobai feared that Xuanli had been punched square in the face, but after her brain caught up with the movement, Xuanli had simply moved his head to the side, the fist narrowly avoiding his cheek. The Archon let out a whistle in amusement before grinning widely, almost manically. “For a kid, you have more to you than I thought. Sorry for underestimating you, I’ll take this fight more seriously then.”

Finally, the boy spoke. “Good.”

It was almost as if a bomb went off with his one word, and the arena was suddenly full of movement, causing the crowd to roar impossibly louder. Xiaobai struggled to keep up with the fight, watching as fists and legs were thrown around, not always making contact as they both moved at what seemed like impossible speeds to dodge one another, and Xiaobai wondered if this boy was using the power of the delusion he just acquired, or if this was his own strength.

With all the fast paced movement, Xiaobai didn’t even notice when Xuanli finally gained the upper hand, all she had seen was the boy throwing a punch at Xuanli, which he once again dodged, but this time he grabbed onto the outstretched wrist, pulling him so the boy was off balance. Once he was, Xuanli seemed to move at the blink of an eye, bringing an elbow down against the base of the boy’s neck.

And with that, the boy fell to the ground.

All around, Xiaobai heard cheers and booing from the crowd, seemingly with the fight having ended already.

Shanxin and Xiaobai exchanged a look, and she could tell instantly that her friend was thinking the exact same thing as her. A strange feeling welled up in her chest. This wasn’t the end of the fight, was it? After this boy having gone through such lengths to get his hand on a delusion, whether knowing of the side effects or not. This really couldn’t be the end of it.

 

A sickening feeling twisted in Xiaobai’s stomach, making her feel nauseous.

The crowd started to hush down with their cheers as others started to take notice as well.

Turning her own gaze back towards the arena, Xiaobai felt as though she couldn’t breathe. It felt as though she was submerged underwater and couldn’t take a breath.

The boy was now surrounded in what looked like a black fog, whipping this way and that as if they were snakes and dissipating in the air.

At this point, Xiaobai hadn’t seen a delusion actually being used.

Was this the sort of terrifying and awful power they held?

This was what causes the users to be drained of life?

As if sensing the same thing Xiaobai was seeing, Xuanli turned around just as the boy was rising from a kneeling position. “You shouldn’t be getting up from a blow like that,” he warned as he placed a hand on his hip. “You should let the medics come and take you to get treated.” His demeanor changed. Xuanli could see the exact same thing she was, she knew it. He could feel and see the evil energy coming from the boy.

Again, the boy remained silent until he pulled himself to his feet, obviously affected by the last hit that Xuanli dealt as he wobbled a bit to stand straight. “I’m sorry, mighty Archon, but your reign must end here.”

Xuanli raised an eyebrow. “Who says?”

“You’ve brought pain and suffering to my friends, so here and now, I’ll kill you with your own creation.”

The boy slapped something onto his wrist, and a blast of energy swept through the crowd, causing screams and shrieks of confusion and fear. Over both of his hands, a pair of gauntlets materialized, mixed with that same darkness that continued to surround him.

Just what was the full extent of these delusions?

This wasn’t something created to look and act like a vision. No, this was something to surpass them, to destroy them. Shatter them.

Xiaobai felt absolutely sick down to her very core.

Too overwhelmed by the energy coming from the delusion, Xiaobai failed to notice Shanxin’s frantic shouting at her, failed to notice anything around her except for the feeling of being crushed, weighted down.

Once again, the boy moved to punch at Xuanli, just as he had started this fight, but instead of playfully dodging like earlier, a giant wall of ice appeared and wrapped around the boy's gauntlet all the way up to his elbow. Xuanli let out a whistling noise as he walked closer to the boy, looking at his frozen arm in the block of ice. “Nice toy there, kid, mind telling me who gave it to you?”

“You should recognize it well,” the boy said, as the dark mist built up around his arm and inside the ice, twisting and turning more violently before the ice finally shattered. “It was under your orders to distribute these, afterall.”

“I don’t know if you read the official rules of the tournament or not, but no visions or underhanded tricks are allowed, so you’ve been disqualified.”

“I’m not here to win.”

It was obvious this person wasn’t going to back down from a simple conversation. Whatever reason he was here for, he intended to see it through to the end. Xuanli realized that quickly. Unlike before, where he wore a playful look on his face, Xuanli’s expression now turned dangerous. It was as if whatever safety measures he’d put in place to keep those he thought against safe were now null, and he could fight however he wanted. From his toothy grin, it looked as though mist was escaping from his mouth, almost as if he were now something like a wild beast.

“Alright, don’t disappoint me then.”

A raging blue fire surrounded the arena, blocking the fight from view of the crowd as people were now fleeing and being escorted away. It was as if chaos had taken over the entirety of the town, as people were questioning what was going on, what would happen, and what exactly that boy was talking about. It was complete chaos and disorientation.

Shanxin grabbed onto Xiaobai’s shoulders forcefully now, turning Xiaobai to face her, and finally, unable to see the dark mist, was able to breathe.

It was as if she had choked on water, because Xiaobai sputtered and coughed wildly, the nauseous feeling in her stomach still taking root and making her feel as though she would heave up all the contents of her stomach, and maybe even the stomach itself. Shanxin held onto Xiaobai, the only thing keeping her upright and on her feet.

Once she was able to breathe again, Shanxin finally spoke. “You were completely gone for a while there, you wouldn’t respond to me at all! I was so freaked out, what happened?”

Xiaobai thought for a moment, but there were no words to describe it. She shook her head, hand over her mouth as she let out a few more pained coughs. “I don’t–I don’t know. There was some kind of black mist, and I… I don’t know, I felt weird, I–I feel weird.”

“Black mist?”

“Didn’t you see it? It was wrapping around that guy!”

“I couldn’t see anything,” Shanxin shook her head in dismay, “but I believe you.”

“Shanxin, we need to get into that arena.”

Lifting her head to look around, Shanxin frowned before once again shaking her head. “I don’t think we’ll be able to.” Between the rushing and panicked crowd, as well as the blue fire surrounding the arena, finding a way in seemed hopeless.

But for some reason, Xiaobai knew they had to get there, they had to be sure the Cryo Archon and that boy would both be okay. For some reason, she felt that if they didn’t something terrible would happen.

“Shanxin, please,” she desperately grabbed onto her friend's arm, holding on as if her life depended on it. “We need to find a way!”

Shanxin looked at her, silent for a moment before sighing heavily. Xiaobai knew this wasn’t something for them to worry about, this wasn’t something they had to deal with, but to sit by idly… it didn’t feel right.

Once more, Shanxin took a good look at their surroundings, silently looking around for a moment before her eyes fell on something, and she turned back to Xiaobai, grabbing onto her hand. “Come on, this way.”

Without any hesitation, Xiaobai followed closely behind Shanxin as they weaved through the crowd, careful to hold onto each other tightly as to not lose each other through the surge of bodies. Gradually, the crowd thinned out, arriving at what was probably the other side of the arena that they had just been at. There was still a crowd here, but much less so than the side that they previously had been at.

The two of them stood in front of the blazing blue flames, watching as they flickered wildly, far taller than either of them were. The ground rumbled and shook intensely and suddenly, causing the two of them to stumble and hold onto each other.

Screams rang out around them, and the distant sound of something toppling over, crumbling to the ground. Whatever was going on in the arena was causing earthquakes. The northern land here hardly ever saw these sorts of natural disasters, and their buildings weren’t meant to withstand them.

Using her pyro vision, Xiaobai called forth her own fire and threw it at the blue flames, once again intending to use her own flames to snuff them out, but the red flames were completely devoured by the blue ones without so much as a dent to the wall, and Xiaobai stared in shock.

Something about these flames wasn’t right.

She thought for a moment more before realization dawned on her.

The one who called forth the flames was Xuanli. Being the Cryo Archon, he had no control over pyro, meaning these flames weren’t ones of heat. Instead, Xiaobai realized that instead of warmth coming from the blue flames, it was biting cold.

The flames were ones made of cryo. Her pyro couldn’t melt it or negate it.

“Shanxin, try using your electro on the flames,” she said, pointing to the cryo flames as she said so.

Electro wasn’t the best thing to use against cryo, but it did cause an elemental reaction all the same, and could gradually knock it back and weaken it.

Shanxin’s eyebrows raised. “You know I don’t use my vision for this sort of thing, right?”

Of course she knew, Shanxin only ever used her vision for healing or for her trinkets that she built. She wasn’t very good at controlling the course of the electrical currents any other way, but it was the only thing Xiaobai could think of other than using her pyro vision.

 

What could they hope to achieve against the powers of an Archon?

Xiaobai felt as though her head was starting to hurt from everything as she frantically tried to come up with a solution to this situation, when all of a sudden, the flames in front of them started to lower and die down. Instead of a raging flame, they became small flickers, threatening to reignite at a moment's notice.

The two exchanged a glance, trying to make sense of this situation and just what caused the flames to lower, but Xiaobai wasn’t about to let this opportunity pass up. Whatever caused this to happen, she wasn’t going to question it right now, and she quickly jumped over the flames and into the arena, with Shanxin following closely behind.

Just as they passed over the flames, they rose once more, blocking them in.

 

 

 

Despite the flames not reaching all the way around, the arena was blistering cold, making any exposed skin prick with pain as if being stabbed with millions of needles. Xiaobai heard Shanxin curse under her breath as she wrapped Huangshou in her arms, using whatever loose fabric she had to cover him with. The cat didn’t seem as bothered by the cold as they were, but Shanxin cared for him deeply and wasn’t about to risk the possibility of Huangshou getting frostbite.

Turning back to the open space of the arena in front of them, they quickly found out just what caused the earthquake from earlier. Having only been a short time since the arena was closed off, the two of them had already caused the space to look like a battlefield. There were shattered boulders of earth thrown around, along with a large hole shattered into the ground. There were chunks of ice pillars everywhere, probably from where Xuanli once again tried to freeze the boy only to have him break through it.

Already, the two of them looked worn down. There were patches of unnaturally coloured skin on the boy, his forearms taking the brunt of it, and Xiaobai couldn’t tell if it was due to the sheer cold or if it was from the delusion injuring him. Xuanli looked scuffed up, but with injuries nowhere near as bad, more than likely him being an experienced fighter as well as an Archon.

The boy slammed both of his fists into the ground, causing once again another earthquake as the cracked ground quickly made its way to Xuanli, opening up to swallow him whole. It was an easy dodge from Xuanli, swiftly moving to where the cracks couldn’t reach him.

Shanxin let out another curse, swearing loudly as they both attempted not to fall over.

Her scream caught the attention of the two fighting.

Seeing the wild look in the boy's eyes now piercing into them, Xiaobai felt fear. She feared for herself and Shanxin, knowing that they were now in trouble, but there wasn’t much either of them could do, they weren’t fighters, they weren’t gods or illuminated beasts.

He noticed the opening, and the boy grabbed onto a large boulder, uncaring that it was one already shattered. The black mist gathered around his arm and up to the boulder as he lifted it up over his head, and then threw it with all his might.

Xiaobai tried using her pyro vision, raising a hand in front of them to ignite a fire and create a shield, but the red flames flicked from her hand before quickly dying out. The amount of condensed cryo energy coming from an Archon was overpowering her vision, making the flames burn out too quickly for her to do anything.

There wasn’t anything she could do to stop it.

Fuck.

Fuck..!!

Without thought, Xiaobai quickly threw her arms around Shanxin, using herself as at least some sort of shield between her friend and the boulder hurtling at them.

It was all she could do to protect Shanxin.

She just hoped whatever injuries she sustained Shanxin would be able to heal them!!

 

Xiaobai shut her eyes tight, waiting for the inevitable impact and the pain that would come with it.

But instead, there was the rumbling noise of something shattering behind her, and while she was still hit, it wasn’t nearly as bad as she thought. A few hits here and there along her back, one really sharp one on the back of one of her calves, but not the crushing pain of the giant boulder.

Hesitantly, still afraid that she was going to get hit with something much bigger, Xiaobai turned to look, with Shanxin peeking over her shoulder.

Xuanli stood there in front of them, fist out, having punched and shattered the boulder before it could reach them.

Xiaobai starred in stunned silence.

Archons were scary… but also really cool.

“How in the hell,” Xuanli said, letting out a breath before slowly turning to look at the two of them, eyebrows furrowed, “did the two of you get in here?”

Neither of them knew how to answer them, exchanging a quick glance at one another. Xiaobai opened her mouth to speak, but her words came out slowly. “We, uh… The flames lowered, and we were able to get in.”

Xuanli’s eyebrows furrowed more, turning his body now fully to look at them with confusion. “The barrier lowered? No, the barrier just doesn’t lower, I’m in complete control of this place, so how–”

His sentence was cut off by the boy suddenly rushing at him, throwing his fist and intending to land a hit on Xuanli, but he reacted much quicker. He wasn’t able to dodge the attack, so instead, he held a hand up and caught the fist, the impact of it causing the air to blow wildly.

Xuanli turned to say something to the boy, but suddenly, his expression changed. His eyes widened in shock and, what seemed to be, pain. Looking down, the hand not being held captive by Xuanli was inside his chest.

“You–Wh–who–” Xuanli said through gritted teeth, unable to finish his sentence.

The boy looked up at the Archon. “Your reign ends now.”

 

Xiaobai didn’t understand what was going on, but her heart was hammering in her chest.

 

She had to do something…

 

She had to do something!!!

 

 

Raising her hand, Xiaobai summoned her fire from her vision. She couldn’t do much, but she can enhance the abilities of others. She had to make sure Xuanli would win, she had to make sure whatever was going on would stop, and that this person wouldn’t win.

Whatever it took, this person couldn’t win!!

 

The red flames changed. They became a while colour, shining brightly before rapidly swirling around Xuanli.

The boy gave a quick glance over to Xiaobai. Her eyes… they were glowing as well…

Before he could react, the boy’s attention was once more brought back to Xuanli, as he took a deep breath in. Smoke surrounded his gritted teeth like before, and blue flames erupted from his mouth, much colder than any of the attacks he used before, and much more intense.

The only way to avoid the attack was for the boy to take his hand out of Xuanli, and to lose the gauntlet on his hostage hand.

Xuanli gasped for breath and coughed, staggering a little backwards as he placed his hands over his chest, catching his breath and registering his surroundings once more.

The white flames disappeared, and Xiaobai’s eyes stopped glowing. For a moment, she stood there with a blank look in her eyes before collapsing to her knees, legs giving out completely from under her. With a frantic call of her name, Shanxin caught her before she could reach the ground.

 

After having regained his composure, Xuanli looked behind him and stared at Xiaobai for a moment. Just.. who was this child?

Actually, that was a question for later. He didn’t have the time to figure things out, nor was he the one to do so. Instead, he turned his attention back to the boy, collecting himself and standing up straight. Even though he had dodged the brunt of it, the boy still got hit, and it looked as though one of his arms was completely discolored and useless for a while.

“Mind telling me where you learned those tricks?” He spat, walking over to the boy. “Someone gave you those cute little gloves in order to get a hold of my gnosis, so I want you to tell me everything you know.”

“You distribute those fake visions and hurt people,” despite his bold tone, the boy staggered backwards as Xuanli gained ground, yet his eyes held onto that determination he had from the start. “How is this any more underhanded from your tricks?”

“How many times are you going to accuse me of giving out those things, kid? I don’t even know what they are.”

“You deserve to lose your gnosis and to be locked away by Celestia for eternity. You’re a loose cannon that’s going to hurt everyone you love, so you might as well give up now.”

Xuanli’s teeth gritted once more, this time in a blinding rage, as he pulled his fist back and threw it forward with all his might, but his fist made contact with only empty space. He looked around in confusion for a moment before he looked up.

 

The barrier he created was down, the flames having flicked out when the boy put his hand into his chest and disrupted his powers. Now, the boy hung upside down, a vine wrapped securely around his ankle and keeping him suspended in the air. Xuanli’s eyes trailed down the vine, but really, he already had in mind who could be the cause of it.

Unsurprisingly, he was met with unruly purple hair, and a gaze that said the other wanted to rip his heart out.

 

“You really have the worst timing, you know that?” Xuanli said with a huff before waving his hand in the air as if to dismiss the other. “I’m not in the mood to entertain you, Feng Xi. Besides, you already missed out on the tournament, try again next year.”

“Are you afraid you’ll lose after getting beaten up by a mortal?” Feng Xi said in a challenging tone that caused Xuanli’s fists to clench and glare at him.

“This is an Archon related matter, something you’re not.”

“I believe this mortal is only returning the favor. I’m sure that you’ve heard the saying ‘an eye for an eye’?”

Xuanli scoffed as he rolled his eyes. “Go play somewhere else, before your Overseer gets here and kicks your ass.”

Whatever that meant to Feng Xi, the killing intent from him only got worse upon hearing those words. He waved his hand, and the vine holding the boy responded by throwing him somewhere out of sight. Shanxin swore loudly, as that person was their only lead to finding out about the delusions, but there wasn’t much her or Xiaobai could do at that moment, so they just had to hope he survived his fall when they could find him later.

Shanxin shook Xiaobai lightly. “Hey, we should get out of here now,” she said in a hushed but hurried tone. Whatever was going on here was just getting worse and worse, and neither of them knew how to handle the situation, or if they even could. It was obvious to tell that these two had history, and whoever this Feng Xi was, he was extremely powerful.

Xiaobai felt as though the world around her was swaying this way and that, as if she were on a boat in rough waters, but she also wanted out of this situation. As long as that person was nowhere near Xuanli, whatever was going on he could handle himself.

But as she tried to stand, her head only swayed more, and her eyes widened in shock before she shut them tight to keep from throwing up.

“Shanxin, I–” she muttered, tongue feeling sluggish. “I can’t move my legs, I can’t-can’t walk…”

“What the hell did you do earlier?” Shanxin gritted as she knelt down beside Xiaobai once more and placed her hand just above Xiaobai’s legs. Little bolts of purple lightning shot down from her hand and into her legs, dancing just underneath the skin and turning it a slight purple colour before disappearing and spreading through her legs. The feeling was similar to having your arms or legs fall asleep due to lack of blood flow. A strange feeling, but not unpleasant.

“I don’t know,” Xiaobai shook her head a little, using Shanxin’s body as support. She couldn’t tell if the healing was working or not. She hoped it was. It has to work.

A loud noise caught their attention.

A giant vine ripped out of the already damaged ground, moving at an extremely fast pace towards Xuanli. It didn’t get very far, however, as sharp ice shards started to rain down and stuck it to the ground, unable to move.

“Damn it, Feng Xi!!” Xuanli shouted in anger. “I have more important things to deal with for once!! So get the fuck out of my way!!”

“Not until you return what’s rightfully mine!!”

Feng Xi swept his arm through the air, and from behind him, multiple vines shot straight up from the ground and aimed straight at Xuanli. The Cryo Archon let out a noise that sounded like a growl as he took off, running towards Feng Xi and avoiding the vines in the process, freezing them with the cryo flames and making the vines unable to move. Finally, face to face with Feng Xi, Xuanli’s hands were covered in the blue flames as he threw one punch after another, all of which were blocked just barely in time by vines rising from the ground.

Xiaobai wanted to stop the fighting, but she didn’t know how. She couldn’t stop them.

 

A hand suddenly came into her view, and she took a moment to focus on the object it held. Shanxin turned to look as well. In the outstretched hand was a glass bottle with some sort of swirling green coloured liquid inside. “Healing through visions won’t work,” said the person. Looking up, Xiaobai saw a man with a blank expression, but his blue eyes held a deep kindness to them. She didn’t feel scared at all by him. “Drink this, you’ll feel better soon.”

Shanxin scoffed, on edge from all that was going on. “And why should we trust you?”

He said nothing, just waiting there patiently as he continued to hold the bottle out. Xiaobai really couldn’t figure out why, but she knew this man was trustworthy, at least for now. With a shaking hand, she took the bottle gently. Once his hand was free of the item, he reached out and gently ruffled Xiaobai’s hair. “You both did good. As soon as you drink, get going. The person you came here for is safe, but apprehended. You don’t need to hunt him down anymore.”

Xiaobai could feel Shanxin’s wide eyed stare at her, boring holes into her head. She ignored the look to watch the man walk away and towards the raging battle.

With nothing more than a flick of the wrist, all vines and ice blocks were shattered and shredded apart, the intensity and suddenness of it all causing the two battling to back away from one another in surprise.

Xiaobai wasted no time in throwing off the cap of the bottle and quickly downing the liquids inside, with Shanxin shouting in her ear. It at least didn’t taste terrible, it tasted like sweet flowers with something a little spicy hitting her throat.

“Let’s get going,” Xiaobai said as she finished the bottle, placing it down gently on the ground. Shanxin berated her under her breath but wanted to get out of this situation just as badly, so she helped Xiaobai to her feet. She couldn’t stand on her own, so Shanxin put one of her arms over her shoulders and neck and supported Xiaobai’s weight, and as quickly as possible, the two of them went to somewhere safer, with Huangshou following them closely with wide and terrified eyes.