The Domain that trapped Longyou finally disappeared.
Your hands wrapped around a vine as you watched the commotion from the top of a tree on a nearby mountain, but far enough for the Guild to sense your fading energy. You trained your eyes over to the middle of the city, watching a forest flourish with speed within the damaged buildings.
You would've thought that FengXi was fighting back once again, but as you felt his spirit lose its energy, you knew he had lost. FengXi is dead and the war is finally over.
For you, at least, but not for them.
You had merely escaped the hands of the exterminators, away from the city and deep into the woods. You're absolutely done for if they ever caught up because you knew they wouldn't stop until they caught every last person connected to FengXi, but you wanted nothing to do with him anymore. Not after what he did to XiaoHei.
The guilt that you felt was eating you alive. You could've helped him, but you didn't.
You couldn't . You were just as scared and equally shocked as anyone was in that building when FengXi began to take the kid's Domain ability for himself.
However, it wasn't just Xiaohei that got his powers stolen. The wood spirit took something in you as well, but you couldn't quite figure it out because to your knowledge, you still had your plant magic.
But you wouldn't compare yourself to what Hei had gone through. For all you know, Xiaohei could be dead, while you're here out of reach from humankind and revering at your temporary freedom.
After setting yourself down and leaning your head on the tree trunk, your ears twitched as you felt a sudden gust of hot air overwhelm the cold morning breeze, the branch that you perched on shifting its weight that signaled someone's arrival.
You couldn't even bother looking at whoever it is. You can't fight anymore. You're tired.
The throbbing pain in your chest still tugged on your heart and it killed you inside just to make the tiniest movements.
You closed your eyes shut and waited for a blade, elemental magic, or even just a punch, but nothing came.
A few moments have passed but the only thing that came was a sudden surge of energy being restored to your soul.
"What are you doing?" You murmured as you shifted in your place in an attempt to face them, forcing an eye open as your cloudy vision got clearer by each passing second.
"Stay still ." They said, keeping you in your place as they firmly gripped on your shoulders with flaming hands.
Your attention drifted from the magic to the person whom it belonged to, seeking an answer to who your savior might be.
You didn't even have to look at his face, the double hair buns on his head already gave it away.
Your eyes locked itself in place with the realization that it was Nezha, the literal Third Lotus Prince in all his glory healing you with his own magic.
Nezha as in the same guy whom you've always tried to avoid whenever you're out for missions because he was one of the fire elementals that you dreaded greatly, simply because you weren't strong enough to create plants that can withstand his powers.
Though, the fire that blazed from his hands didn't burn. Instead, it gave you a warm feeling, something akin to a hearth that pushed your mind into tranquility.
You bathed in the silence as you let him heal you, his brows furrowing just a little bit further before releasing you from his hold with a huff.
He shook the remaining magic off his hands and stood, looking over his shoulders and the area surrounding you in case there were unwanted people who followed close.
"You need a place to rest. Come with me."
Nezha held out his hand as he kept an authoritative composure, his eyes glinting with worry– only if you look long enough.
You didn't know what he was offering, or if he wanted something out of this, but it somehow made you remember Xuhuai, having the same cold nature, but he was actually as caring as a brother, he just didn't like being open towards it.
Regardless of whoever he reminded you of, this was an exterminator you're talking about. You couldn't risk doing anything stupid now that you're still in a weak state as he didn't really heal you to the fullest, which was more questionable than reassuring.
"There's no way in hell I'm going back to that city." You scowled at him, hands instinctively reaching for the nearest branch you can hold onto.
"You don't have to. I have a temple not far away from here, you'll be safe there, I promise."
"How do I know you're not turning me over?" You asked, suspicion growing within each answer he gave you.
Nezha's lower eyelid twitches from your relentless resistance.
"If I was , then I probably would've done that a long time ago."
You still weren't as convinced. This was a high ranking Elfin and there wasn't a chance that he wasn't deceiving you by making you let your guard down.
With your newfound strength, you curled your fingers and summoned new branches from the one you both stood on. But before it could even wrap around his feet, he had already bolted towards you and sent a rather harsh chop on your neck with his hand, effectively knocking you out instantly.
Nezha got his hands on the back of your hanfu, catching your body before it could even fall to the forest floor.
He hunched you over to his shoulders and activated his fire wheels, the sound of your stable breathing easing up his anxiousness from the thought that he might have hit you too hard.
"Gods, you're really just as stubborn as they were."
— ❀ —
You snap your eyes open.
Everything was a blur– you couldn't see anything but faint silhouettes of items and furniture in the room that you were in, along with a blurry form of a person next to you, which you didn't pay much attention to because you were too busy minding the pounding headache that tormented you.
It took you a whole minute until you finally gained your vision back, only to realize that it was the same exterminator who knocked you out sitting by your side with no look of interest or whatsoever, just the usual deadpan that he always had on his face.
Except that he wasn't the young man you've always fought. It was a child.
You held eye contact with Nezha as he sipped on his beverage, his other hand emitting a soft pink glow that connected a string of energy to your chest. There was nothing else that you can focus on as you were absolutely baffled at how relaxed he was despite being in the same room as you.
Without missing a beat, you jumped off the bed and clung to the corner of the room and summoned your vines, thorns, everything .
It almost broke through the wooden walls, but was immediately set ablaze and turned into ashes. It didn't even set any other thing on fire. The skill level of fire control was beyond your comprehension– it was like the flames were targeted at nothing but your plants.
"Great , you just snapped me out of concentration." He snarked, crossing his arms as he leaned back on his chair with a pout before commanding his sash to put you back on the bed and place a blanket over you.
You glared daggers at him as you desperately tried to get the sash off yourself, but you were only met with a scoff.
"I will not be apologizing for knocking you out, if that's what you're thinking." He said with a final tone before continuing to work with his healing magic.
Not like you were expecting him to apologize at all.
You purse your lips and lean back to the headboard, finally letting yourself relax in his presence as you felt the sash release you from its confinement, letting you know that he really was just trying to help you get your strength back… for some reason.
With the eye contact that you held earlier, you had an opportunity to get a better look at him. Nezha's body turned into a child, as it seems. His usual brushed back hair turned into neatly cut bangs but his iconic buns still remained on both sides of his head.
"Can't believe I got captured. By a kid , no less." You said out loud to no one in particular.
Nezha looked up at you as you gave him a side eye.
"I'm not a kid. This form is… simply more convenient for conserving energy."
You rolled your eyes with a faint smile. Yeah, it sure is a convenient form and totally not his original physique. He was probably more than 3000 years old but you couldn't deny that he did act like a kid– a teenager at best. It was just that he talked inconsistently as if he was fighting the urge to drop the 'tough and virtuous' act.
"And I didn't capture you, I promised to take you somewhere safe, didn't I?"
Up until now you didn't register that the clear morning skies and a vast pond filled with lotus flowers and water lilies outside the window give you the idea that you were in fact, in a room in his temple, not the Elfin Guild headquarters.
Everything was littered with gold and pink, lotus flowers were carved into wooden furniture as patterns, along with neatly arranged spears, staffs, and other various kinds of equipment resting on weapon racks against the walls. Not to forget the plum blossom candles placed stylishly on a lantern shaped candle holder.
Well look who's a fancy neat freak.
You didn't know if he's naturally like this, or if he only bothered to clean up knowing that he had a visitor in his temple, but you still appreciated the effort to keep the place clean. You're more than thankful that he went on his way to save and help you patch up, yet the doubt already planted itself in your brain.
You didn't want to be rude and assume the worst in your situation, but you just didn't expect one of the founding deities of the Elfin Guild to aid you.
He and the entire guild knew who you were and what you’ve done to their members, yet here he is, taking pity on you of all people.
You hang your head low with regrets, hand aimlessly reaching for your hair before realizing that the white streaks haven't disappeared as you had hoped.
Nezha then noticed your distaste towards your hair and moved his chair closer, "Scoot over." He said.
You raised a brow at him but you still compiled without a word.
The healing magic on his hand dispelled as he took the white hair that you held off your hands and traced the locks with his fingers, you realized–
He was putting glamour on it.
Never once have you learned how to put glamour on yourself because FengXi always did it for you. He hid your scars, or unwanted battle trophies, as you'd call them, and things that had to be cleared out of view.
You thought no one could ever hide those scars from you anymore now that you've lost him but coincidentally, Nezha came along.
You watched from the mirror on the other side of the room as the white tufts blended with your hair one by one, slowly returning it to its natural color.
You tried not to wince but he just kept missing a few strands that left him no choice but to pull on it– which was really painful on your scalp.
"If you're wondering, Xiaohei is doing well. He became Wuxian's student, just as the kid requested." He said, "As for Luozhu and Xuhuai, well… they're captured. Luozhu seems to be more cooperative than the others so it's more than likely for him to get released soon."
It was slightly out of the blue, but perhaps he had taken notice of the way your nose scrunched up whenever you zoned in and out of your thoughts. (More like he thought you were in deep thought because you were actually wincing from the pain)
A quiet yet breathy laughter escaped your lips as weight seemed to lift itself off your shoulders upon hearing the news. Luozhu complying with the guilds' wishes was expected as he had always been the easiest person anyone could easily get along with. But for Xiaohei? It was just impressive.
That kid really managed to survive after getting his spatial magic stolen away from him.
Wuxian was one of the people that you had a great repulsion with due to your long history of constant battles so you were more than worried, but you're not in the place to tell the kid what to do.
At least Xiaohei found someone he can look up to as his teacher.
Nezha had his finger on the deep scar that ran along your brow for a moment, face contorting into one of indecisiveness.
"I think I'll leave this one alone, it looks badass." He shrugged, letting the scar stay free of glamour from your face.
Nezha's chair screeched against the wooden floors as he stood upon finishing his task.
"Stay there, I'll get you some tea."
Nezha then left the room and closed the door with a silent click.
You traced your fingers on the areas of your face that you knew had scars, finding out that it was only the brow cut that he had left, with the one that reached across the bridge of your nose hidden a little bit too well.
Which was funny, because it actually was caused by Nezha's fire tipped spear.
It was a pretty violent first meeting that you can't exactly remove from your brain, vividly remembering the way he threw the spear straight at you with no second thoughts.
You were lucky that FengXi pushed you away just in time, but it still grazed over your skin. You were only thankful that you had a mask at the time so there wasn't much damage.
Nezha might be feeling sorry for hurting you in the past that's why he's helping you, but this will probably be yet another temporary aid.
You put both of your hands onto your face and slid them down to your chin with a heavy sigh. You really can't stress about anything but the decisions that you have to make and where you're going after you've healed. You couldn't really go back to the city anymore especially since you didn't want to get sentenced to death by the guild masters, but you can't exactly move out either.
You've lived most of your life with friends who each had specific purposes to carry out for the group, just like how Tianhu was always the one on hunting and cooking duty, whilst Luozhu and Xuhuai were the ones that kept your island on the lookout for any possible intruders.
And you… well, you were FengXi's assistant. A right hand man, if you will.
There wasn't a day that FengXi went to the human populated areas without you, always keeping you by his side as you slowly took back lands that once belonged to them.
You'd hate to admit but you're pretty dependent on people. Most people would assume that rogues would know how to live alone, but you really can't. You wouldn't risk being alone even if you did know how to survive without anyone's help because the last time you were all by yourself, you were shunned.
Just a helpless child being called the most vile names and thrown rocks just because of a simple ability to manipulate life. It wasn't even life threatening, and as far as you knew it was more of a blessing than a curse. You controlled the growth of plants yet they still feared you for it due to how you used a variety of harmful plants to protect yourself.
"Gods, where am I even supposed to go…" you whispered to yourself.
You fought the urge to close your eyes as you gripped a handful of your hair, the sweet aroma of plum blossoms that came from the candles lulling you back to sleep.
You didn't even want to leave. This was the safest you have felt in years due to the fact that you were always on the run from the guilds.
Even if you have only talked with Nezha for a few hours at best, you already gave your trust into the kid.
As a wanted demon, it was obviously a stupid decision to make, but he's already come a long way to keep yourself from denying his efforts to help you with whatever reason he has.
A second wave of sleepiness hit you, your body was practically begging you to take yet another rest.
This time you didn't resist it.
Nezha's tea can wait.