Diluc wandered around Monstadt, looking for his two charges.
Normally, considering these two were much older than him, one would think they didn't need anyone to look after them. But, as a small part of the Knights of Favonious, meaning Jean, Kaeya and the honorary knight, has recently learned, when it came to these two, everything was possible. So Diluc was sent out to watch over these two idiots and make sure they didn't cause too much trouble.
Mentaly checking all the places that the pair usually frequented, Diluc figures they'd be most likely at the plaza now, performing and putting on a show for the citizens of Mondstadt. It was the place these two were most likely to be found if they weren't at Angels Share, bothering him into giving them free wine, because neither of them remembered to bring any Mora. If they even had any in the first place. Windrise was also a place they visited frequently, just relaxing and enjoying their time together and occasionally meeting with a refined looking gentleman, who, from what Diluc had gathered from the traveler, was apparently an old acquaintance of the two friends. However, a feeling told him that that isn't where he will find the two troublemakers today.
Arriving at the plaza, Diluc noted, with a bit of satisfaction, that he was right about his guess. In front of him a small crowd had gathered around two boys playing their lyres and putting on a show for their listeners. Venti was balancing a couple of books on his head and using his anemo powers to keep playing the lyre while his friend was dancing in circles around him, strumming his own instrument while singing an upbeet and joyful tune to it.
It wasn't unusual to find these two like that, they were after all practically attached at the hip. The general rule was, where one went, the other wasn't far. Maybe it has something to do with what they had gone through in the past, losing friends left and right, it was only logical to want to be near each other, or perhaps it was something completely different and much simpler in nature. Either way, Diluc wasn’t one to pry and it certainly made his job much easier.
“Thank you all for stopping by and listening to our songs, though sadly it seems that our time together has been cut short, so we must take our leave. Until next time,” Venti said, bowing to his audience with a flourish while Carmen quickly gathered their things.
Apparently, Diluc had spoken too soon, because in the next moment the two bards had vanished in the slowly dispersing crowd. It appeared that it was one of those days. ‘Those days’ were days where Venti and Carmen had their fun playing a game of hide and seek with Diluc. Most of the time it was Diluc who lost as the other two had the clear advantage of turning into little wind spirits and flying away in the breese.
Despite what people may think, he wasn’t as annoyed by the antics of those two as it may have appeared, Diluc was actually quite fond of the two of them, though he would never admit it out loud to anyone. He also quite enjoyed their little games of hide and seek and all the extra exercise he got form chasing the two boys around Monstadt certainly didn't hurt either.
Apparently, it seemed like luck was on the side of the young owner of the quite popular bar Angel's Share today, as not long after he had left the city of Mondstadt in search for the two unruly bards, he encountered the two traveling twins that had suddenly appeared in Tevat
not too long ago. There, trapped in the hands of Aether and Lumine were two unimpressed looking wind spirits. They were evidently not too happy with being caught so soon into their game.
Later that day Venti and Carmen met with Zhonli under the big tree in Windrise.
“So you were caught by that Ragnvindr again?” Zhongli asked, a steaming cup of tea gently held in his hands.
“Yup” Carmen answered, continuing to strum his Lyre.
“Well, it is certainly good to know that even after all this time, his descendants are still looking out for you, as well as making sure the two of you don’t cause too much chaos.”
“His?” Carmen asked.
“Morax means that red haired knight you were friends with back in old Mondstadt,” Ventii answered his friend's question.
“That reminds me, you never ended up telling me what exactly happened … afterwards.”
Despite not being said outright, the three of them knew what Carmen referred to.
“That’s because it’s not exactly a pleasant story, one I usually prefer no to talk about”
All around him was chaos, survivors looking for their missing loved ones, healers tending to the wounds of the injured, people all around him starting to clean up the trails of destruction left behind after the fall of their god, men, women and children mourning the dead. People cheering, for they finally got to see the blue skies. But to him, all this didn’t matter, it didn’t even register in his mind, because on the inside he felt numb, numb to the world, numb to the clear blue skies above him, numb to their newly gained freedom.
His sole focus lay on the cold and lifeless body of his friend before him and the soft pulsing glow of the gnosis, a sign of his ascension to godhood, in his hands.
“Come on Barbatos, the people here all rely on your guidance now”
Soft words spoken in a deep voice, rough with grief, startled him out of his numb state, making him look up into the eyes of the red haired knight Carmen had befriended.
“I don't know how,” he admitted softly. “I’ve only been a god for a few minutes, I don’t know what to do, how to guide the people.”
The knight's eyes softened a bit. Sure, it hurt to see the face of a valued friend cold and dead, it hurt to look at Barbatos and be reminded of what they had lost, but his friend needed him. And that was what he was, a friend, against all odds that little windspirit that never left Carmen’s side became his friend.
With what strength he had left he helped the boy up on shaking legs, helping walk, for the windspirit turned boy was not yet used to his new human body. White wings hung limply from his back, dragging along the ground.
Looking around him, the young god finally registered the sounds and movement around him. The destruction, the death, the despair. And the previous ice cold numbness turned into boiling hit anger. Anger at who? He didn’t know, he didn’t care.
Using his newly found powers, he cout down the mountains and threw them into the sea, cleaved a path through the rocks surrounding him, allowing his people to leave the prison they were trapped in for so long.
Later on, the god and the knight returned to the ruins to bury their friends, sending them off with a last farewell, giving them a place to rest for eternity. There Barbatos took his friend’s Lyre, wishing to repair it, picked up Amos’ bow, determined to learn how to use it, so he could always remember his friends. So that at least a part of them will be remembered by the people.
“I’m sorry,” Carmen apologized once Venti finished with his tale. It was clear from his pose and behaviour that he felt sorry for putting his friend through so much pain.
“No non no no, please, don’t apologize,” Venti hugged him, “It was my fault in the first place that you died. If I had been more careful then it wouldn’t have happened in the first place.”
“Barbatos!,” Zhongli interjected, eyes narrowed and voice stern.
“We talked about this. It was not your fault, nor was it yours Carmen. There isn’t anything that you could have done to stop it from happening, so neither of you have the right to apologize. Do I make myself clear?” Zhongli sent one last stern look at them, taking in their resigned and accepting faces, before nodding in satisfaction and taking a sip from his tea.
The rest of the day was spent, lazing around in the warm afternoon sun, talking with friends and inquiring about different people, while avoiding certain sensitive topics. They talked a lot about the travelers and their arrival could mean for Tevat.
Venti didn't remember how or when exactly it happened anymore. All he knew was that it happened long after the fall of Decarabian and his ascension to godhood. The aristocracy of Mondstadt had been defeated and Venessa was settling in nicely into her seat as the head of the newly founded ordo favonia. Venti had taken the time, now that Mondstadt was peaceful once more, to visit the graves of his best friend and Amos in the ruins of old Mondstadt.
All he remebered was that it happened when he sat down on top of Decarabians old tower to look over the now still and calm ruins of old Mondstadt and reminisce about times long past when he suddenly heard a light tinkling sound, not unlike that of windchimes. Turning towards the strangely familiar sound he saw what was evidently a windspirit, hovering by his side. He carefully stretched his hands out towards the little windspirit, so as to not scare it, waiting for it to come to him first, letting it hover above his cupped hands. Venti teared up a little at the familiarity of the scene, remembering the time he had spent by his friend's side, hiding either in his coat pocket or in his cloak's hood. Always careful to not get blown away by one of Decarabians gales.
Eventually his tears subsided and his mood bettered, cheered up by the tiny spirit. Exhausted by all the emotional turmoil of that day, Venti decided to take a nap and seeing as he was too tired to go back to Mondstadt, he just laid down on the top of the tower and promptly fell asleep, the wind spirit watching over him in his sleep.
The next morning, Venti woke up warm despite the chilling winds that blew through this area. Upon opening his eyes, he discovered that the source of the warmth was a familiar looking brown cloak that someone must have wrapped around him in his sleep.
"Oh, you're awake. Good morning Barbatos," rang out the voice of a young boy behind him.
Venti, or Barbatos as he had just been referred to, sat up with a start, turning to the source of the voice and froze in shock. Before him sat a face he thought he would never see again except for in his dreams, it was the face of the young bard that he helped defeat Decarabian, the same one he failed to protect all these years ago.
"Carmen is that you? But how? I saw you die! Is... Is this a dream?" Venti asked almost fearfully.
The boy across from him looked at him for a while longer before answering with a smile. "No, this is not a dream, I'm as real as the stone beneath us," he reassured his friend, opening his arms in invitation.
Without hesitation Venti threw himself at Carmen, hugging him as tightly as he could. The how or why didn't matter. He had his best friend back and that was all that was important. But most importantly, this time Venti will make sure that the past will not repeat itself, never again would he sit idly by and helplessly watch as the light left his best friend's eyes.
Once they had both calmed down from the emotional shock of being reunited, Venti stood up in excitement, pulling his friend up with him as well. "Come, there are so many people I want you to meet," he laughed. "There are Morax and the other Archos, there is Xiao and Ganyu, Venessa as well as Andrius and Dvalin”. “Ehe, I almost forgot, you absolutely have to see Mondstadt. Though it might still be a little chaotic after what happened recently. However, I promise you that I always made sure to protect the freedom of Mondstadts people.”
"Archons? What are archons?"
"Well, Archons are the people that rule over Tevat. They are the seven. well actually eight, winners of the Archon war. Each Archon is assigned one of the seven elements, Anemo, Geo, Electro, Cryo, Hydro, Pyro and Dendro. And although we all have our own countries to take care of, we regularly make time to catch up and drink wine together.
Carmen smiled at that, because it meant that his friend moved on and made new friends and allies, but despite all that he never forgot about their shared dream of freedom. He even took on his appearance so as to never forget him.
“I do have to say Barbatos,” Carmen shifted a little closer to his friend, leaning close enough for their noses to almost touch,” I quite like your new looks,” he said, smiling mischievously.
Barbatos blushed bright red at that, remembering for the first time, that his current appearance was quite similar to that of his friend.
“You don’t mind?”
“Nope, I actually think it’s pretty cool. I mean we look like twins now.”
“I guess we do,” Venti agreed.
“So what do you say about meeting some of my friends?” he added after a moment of silence.
“Sure, let’s go.”
To say that Morx was surprised when Mondstadts Archon randomly showed up at his doorstep without any kind of forewarning would be a lie.
He was however surprised when he saw another boy, who seemed to be around a similar height as Barbatos with quite similar looks, standing beside said Archon, while looking around amazedly at the scenery around him.
“Might I inquire about who this friend of yours is? I don’t believe we have met so far,” he spoke in a calm voice.
“Morax, this is my good friend Carmen, an accomplished Bard and excellent Archer,” Venti introduced his friend, pride evident in his voice.
“Shut up Barbatos, I’m not that good with a bow”
Venti however ignored Carmen's comment and continued to introduce his fellow Archon.
“And this old blockhead is, Morax the geo Archon, prime of the Adapti, as well as the god of commerce, wealth and contracts.”
Seeing the overwhelmed look on Carmens face, the geo Archon told him to just calm Morax.
“Nice to meet you Morax. I look forward to getting to know you better in the future,” Carmen smiled brightly.
Barbatos friend seemed to meet new people with the same friendly smile as his lookalike, though without his mischievous attitude. This however, would be a statement Morax would later on retract in his years of knowing the two bards, Carmen could be as cheeky as Barbatos, if he wants to. Though he was at least a bit more responsible.
“I wasn’t aware that you had duplicated yourself since the last time you came to annoy me,” was the first thing the wolf spirit said upon meeting Carmen.
"The reason for that is, that I did in fact not clone myself," Venti corrected the wolf spirit before continuing. "Andrius, meet my friend Carmen, he played an important part in the revolution against decarabian."
Carmen blushed a little at this, he wasn't used to the way Barbatos seemed to always compliment him when he was introduced to others. However, he had already learned not to argue with his friend about it.
All the while Andrius watched those two interact in interest. Barbatos friend seemed a lot calmer and less mischievous than his friend. Maybe, he thought to himself, he would be a good influence on the anemo archon and help calm some of his more wild manners.
Later on the wolf would regret ever thinking that Carmen would be a good influence on Barbatos. The boy could be equally as impulsive and loud as his friend.