Far far away in the land of Teyvat, ruled a powerful, menacing, and cunning queen. Known as The Tsaritsa, the name of her majesty alone brings fear and terror to all people.
Her majesty way of ruling is ruthless, unforgiving, wicked, and corrupted. She demands many unnecessary things such as taxes in all sorts of fields in which result in poverty, families separated, children lost home, farmers lost their fields to grow crops, monarchs despise their role hold nothing to count against her.
Her wanting of rare ancient treasures, jewelry, gold, and beautiful gemstones makes her unique.
And as far as the story goes, the only real hope left for them is for a new, kinder, more righteous ruler to free them from this misery. But unfortunately, that wouldn't be very easy, The Tsarista is always guarded of her throne and will go to unimaginable lengths to feed to the power-hungry demon that lays inside of her. Is there truly someone out there who is most fitted to bring down The Tsaritsa?-
An orange leaf fell from the tree as its signal the autumn has come, the sound of winds drift through the forest, the trees dancing with the flow of the winds, silence became a norm on such a day, no sound could rival the song of the forest singing its habitual tune. Maybe until-
"Zhongli! Zhongli!" "Wake up! It's noon already!" The scolding sound of an unusual green bird awakened the dragon from its slumber. The dragon purred and stretched its claws, its fluffy golden tail wagged all over the ground as if to signal that the dragon has woken up. The yawning sound came out from the dragon's mouth hold a deep rumbling. As it opened its eyes, the darker shade glow tint of golden of its pupil moving around to observe the surroundings.
"Ah, it's you Xiao..., thank you for waking me up. I apologize, but it seems that I have once again overslept" The dragon paused to think then speak again " How about in favor you and I go find something to eat, yes? I'm a bit hungry". Its movements slowly went from limping to standing on four legs.
"It's not a big deal Zhongli-daren, it is my duty to make sure you don't starve to death because of sleeping too much." The green bird answered and went flying out of the dark cave " Let's go, Ganyu must have cooked up something by now, and it would be rude to lets her wait."
The dragon only hummed in return, and after that, it started to move in steady and slow steps. Its long body heaving lightly, scales moving in and out to show that it is breathing. Very lightly at that.
Its horns and eyes are golden shine in the dark. There are geo symbols, lines, and traces all over the dragon's body, they glow brightly but start to dissipate, more so blending into the light of the day as the dragon moves out of the cave, and it's greeted by the sound of birds chirping, calming melodies of the water splashing in the river, and the old humming of the forest. In a time as peaceful as this, the air is warm, the winds are strong, and it's a perfect time for lunches. And it is best to enjoy with a company.
.....Or some company.
" Zhongli-daren! Xiao! You two are here come, come sit, I found a lot of food for us!" The familiar cheerful tone from the qilin is enough to bring a smile to Zhongli's face as the dragon came to sit at the soft patch of grass.
The qilin has always woke up earlier than him or Xiao. Ganyu usually would nag him for getting up late, for she is a very healthy person. Today though, she seems oddly different than other days.
" I couldn't find any qingxin today, but I picked up some ores from the nearby river, and I think you would like them, Zhongli-daren. Xiao and I can eat these calla lilies that I have found, also from that same river..." Ganyu said, trying to sound enthusiastic about it.
Knowing the qilin, Zhongli could tell Ganyu has tried her best at finding food. She is usually too shy to go to the town alone. Although their diet does not need to consist of much nutrition as a human body does.
Zhongli still sometimes find pleasure in trying human gastronomy. The taste, the smell, the aroma, it is very pleasant to try out human food.
Though Xiao sometimes criticizes him for spending too much mora on food alone. But he is always capable of making more mora, so why would he need to understand such a concept?
" Ah...Thank you, Ganyu." The dragon hummed. " It must be hard work getting these."
Hearing that the qilin's smile fades " Haha....yes.....no...I'm sorry, lately because of the crowds I haven't able to travel far from here, they are surrounding this area for something in which I don't know of, but I overheard something about a competition host by the queen." And at that Xiao tsk.
"Human nonsense." scolded Xiao " I could never understand them and their weird and stupid system."
" Isn't it that beings such as adepti and god already deem as over-watchers of the world? Why would they need some unworthy human to have such power in their hands? Such nonsense that humans come up with. The Tsaritsa is but a monster hiding in human skin. They are letting a demon ruling over them without any bits of knowledge."
The dragon frowned in response." You don't need to say sorry Ganyu. I can assure you that it is not your fault." Zhongli then turned attention to Xiao, who is nibbling on some calla lilies.
" I can't help but disagree with you, Xiao. Nothing can be accomplished without rules or standards. No matter if it is mortals or adepti, everyone has their place. This rule keeps Teyvat in peace. And so a ruler is needed, one such as The Tsaritsa. Humanity would be a mess otherwise." With a bemused face, Zhongli continued." Even so, I can only hope for a fairer ruler."
The table ended their discussion and grew tense when the conversation was cut short by a loud sound.
Well, that was unexpected.
The sound of a shotgun in the distance caught the attention of the trio. The rustling sound of a person or two stomping their boots on the crackling ground nature floor full of fallen leaves, pair with chopping noises like they are using an axe to cut down all the trees branches, and vines in their way as they made a move through the forest.
Xiao was the first to make a move. "There are humans, but why are they here? They have promised not to invade our living space."
" Maybe they are lost? Humans don't come here often." Ganyu shrieked.
The sound of the humans is coming closer and closer to them. " This is no good. We have to transform into our human disguises." Zhongli said as they all nodded.
"Are you sure this is where we can find the dragon?" Osial asked. Walking non-stop from the early morning on this sunny day would be a bad idea. Or so he thought. Until he heard Azhdaha's bizarre tale, and he just has to get into it.
Apparently, the queen has announced to be retiring and giving up on her throne. Crazy right?
Sadly she doesn't have an heir. So, she gave out and ordered all the bravest, most diligent warriors to go and find the dragon of the geo, one name Morax and steal the dragon heart, as she called it a 'Gnosis', and bring it back to her.
And only then that she be willing to be dethroned and give the title to someone else.
" Yes, the locals say they don't particularly go to this area often because beasts and monsters are usually lurking in these parts of the forest." Azhdaha said as he held up a map. " Though I'm not very confident if that said the same about the dragon we are finding..."
Osial laughed in a mocking voice. " Seriously? I thought you done some searching beforehand. If you are like this, I wonder if I may get eaten by some wild beasts today." Looking up through the forest of trees, layer stack layer of branches. Untouched. Unbothered. Probably for a long, long time.
As if people haven't here for such a long time, that green just started to grow naturally, trees grew so tall that they can reach on top of a church! It's also making it harder to navigate, of course. Because why wouldn't it?
" Don't fret yourself over it, I have read a lot of books about dragons already, I should know they will not eat human meat, and more highly living dragons tend to eat veggies more than young ones."
Azhdaha looked down into his book. " And this one is going to be very old, and an ancient dragon, who has the longevity of 6000 years of living. "
" Great great, so basically what are you saying is that if we were to kill it first, that it would beat all the other's competition, huh?"
" Well, I mean, it is hard to fake such a victory. So yes." Azhdaha pointed in a direction. " We should check over there. There is a cave in this forest. I think it would be useful for finding that dragon."
Suddenly they were stopped by a person standing in the path. Who seemingly appeared from thin air and prevented them from going any further." Hello gentlemen, may I know of which reasons are you here? Are you two gentlemen searching for something?" The mysterious person spoke in a deep baritone voice in a very polite manner.
They stood staring at this new person. They have a slender build,( but curvy at some part) and they stand a little shorter than both of them. What captivating about their appearance is that they have shining gold eyes that are sharp and glowing, but the movement of the pupil makes it look like a liquid of some sort. Brown amber hair flown down by their hip, with tip dipped in blood orange. Their face is....beautiful, and their skin looks soft and delicate. Their body movements is a bit calculated of such of a person knowing martial arts. They were clothed in old scratch cloth though neat and clean but not the most polished outfit for such a person. They were ethereal nonetheless.
" Umm..hello.. we are here for a searching of a dragon." At that, Osial smacked Azhdaha's arm." Ouch! hey!".
"Shhhhhhh, why did you tell a stranger about that? What if he is hunting the dragon too!" Osial whispered in an angry tone.
Azhdaha retaliated. " You didn't have to hit me, though. Besides, he seems like he knows this area, and around, he could help us."
" Yes?" The person's gaze was right at them. " You asking about me, right?". The person replied." Hmm..I see. It is rude of me not to introduce myself."
"My name is Zhongli, and I am the owner of this plot of land you see. I was wondering why there strangers in my own home. It is only reasonable."
"Ah yes, we are deeply sorry for invading your home, but this area has been open out lately, have you not known?" Azhdaha said as he gave Zhongli a piece of paper." Some locals say that a dragon is living in this forest, you know the one? 'Morax' or how the locals live here called it 'Rex Lapis'"
" The queen has promised to give the person who brought back a valuable heart of a dragon." " Or a gnosis, if you will." Osial cough." As the next ruler of Teyvat. People have been pretty lively about it. Saying prayers for the queen's kindness for letting go of the throne. I don't know how you haven't noticed it yet." Osial said.
" Ah, I see" Zhongli's expression was hard to read, it was stoic, yet Osial can feel a very strong emotion being conveyed. " Very well, you gentlemen can do your finding for the queen if that what she wanted. Good luck to you then."
" Thank you, Mr.Zhongli. We are very grateful for your blessing. I am Azhdaha, by the way, and this man is name Osial." Azhdaha bowed and stood up straight. " We should get going, goodbye Mr.Zhongli."
" Yes, have a wonderful day to you, too" Zhongli tilted his head down. Seeing the man, Osial decided to test his luck.
" No need to be so serious, Mr.Zhongli. You should relax, after all, we are now acquaintances, right?" Osial joked.
Zhongli nodded and smiled. "Well then, see you too soon." That was worth it, earning a scoff from Azhdaha.
As the duo walked away, Zhongli stood there motionless. Deep in his thoughts. Silence starting filled the air. The cold wind of the afternoon hit him. Yet Zhongli is still unmoving. His facial expressions shifted. A mix of disappointment and sadness appeared on his face. As his long hair flown lightly by the wind, he said.
" You have broken our contract, Tsaritsa."
" I can't believe those fools! How dare they invade our living space? This is blasphemous!" Xiao retorted.
Now in a different form, as a short human man with green teal hair and lighter hair tip, sharp yellow eyes like a cat, wearing a short dark teal hanfu with lighter- trims on the outside, baggy dark training pants, carrying a mask on the side of the belt-tightening by his waist.
" After all the blessings we gave to the villages, and they still won't leave us alone." He kicked a rock as he walked side by side with Ganyu.
" I'm afraid we have to say something to talk this out with The Tsaritsa, and maybe the people won't bother us adeptis anymore. For I do not wish for bloodshed." Ganyu said, as she also in a different form similar to a human but with horns and wearing a light blue hanfu with small trickle details, her hair a blue shade flew down by her hip tie in a low ponytail, her eyes are a sparkling violet colour.
Then she spotted Zhongli. Who is standing alone and murmuring about something.
"Ah! Zhongli-daren!" Ganyu shouted. Xiao looked up and saw Zhongli now donning a black and golden hanfu, with dragon details on the flips of the hanfu, Zhongli's hair is freely flowing, his hand on his chin, and he is doing that thing where he is to focus on his thoughts to notice the surroundings.
"Zhongli-daren," Xiao called as he lightly shook Zhongli's shoulder.
"Ah..sorry, I have lost focus again." Zhongli bemusedly said. "Thank you for reminding me, Xiao. It seems that my age has finally caught up with me."
" We were looking for you," Ganyu said in a worrying tone. " When those humans came, I didn't think you would go and talk to them."
"Hm..yes. Though through that, I have learned something new. It's The Tsaritsa. She is taking back her end of the bargain."
"Hmm? She broke the contract?"
" It seems like it. Though, I'm not sure. I have heard that The Tsaritsa is giving up the throne for anyone who can bring back the heart of the dragon." Zhongli remembered his conversation with those two odd human gentlemen on the pathway.
" In short, she wants to eliminate you." Xiao brood.
"Yes, that is correct. However, we should not assume this matter quickly." Zhongli does the thing where he pauses to think mid-sentence again." hmm...I should go and talk with her majesty tomorrow first to assure."
" Zhongli-daren, with all due respect I have for you. I can't help but think that this could be a grave decision." Ganyu retorted
"Zhongli-daren, I think you should let us go with you to ensure nothing will happen," As Ganyu raised to protest, Xiao said. " As our duty to follow you and protect you, my lord."
"Hmm...very well, you may accompany me in my journey." Xiao and Ganyu noded. Zhongli continued." You have my gratitude then." "Well, now that we are finished. We should go back, I think those gentlemen must have left by now. The sun is going down. Let's go home, yes?"
" Right behind you, my lord," Xiao said. A tap on his shoulder." Yes? Ganyu?"
" Why didn't you talk back to him about the idea? I see it's still pretty dangerous to go there. The Tsaritsa still has a lot of power. She could be scheming something. " Ganyu retorted.
" I know my lord, he can be.....dense sometimes, and it's hard to convince him because he is a bit of a rock head. But trust me, most of his ideas always turn out fine, on the battlefield......and if we trust him, we should go, just to make sure he is safe." Xiao explained in a small voice.
" If you insist so, then I will believe you. I am still hesitant, though. But I don't want Zhongli-daren to be in danger, so I think I will go. Speaking of him, you always very protective of him, you know." Ganyu smiled
Xiao's face shifted suddenly, looking at the ground. 'He's brooding again.' Ganyu thought. It's fun to poke Xiao about sometimes, and he is pretty easy to get riled up too. Ganyu has always seen him as an older brother of some sort.
While Zhongli is someone that she has always been looking up to. From saving her life to taking her in. She admired him as a parental figure, but Xiao has always struck her as a closer companion.
Ganyu wants to be like a sister to Xiao too. She likes to listen to Rex Lapis lecture on and on about geology and literature together with Xiao. She to have sparred with Xiao, and she learned a lot from training with him. Having meals together every day with Xiao and Zhongli.
Ganyu couldn't be happier. A happy and warm family. One that can't be separated no matter at what cost. And Ganyu swears on her name that she will protect it.
" He helped me a lot, you know....". Xiao said, breaking the silence." He saved me from my old abusive master and gave me this name, this purpose, and this home.....If anyone were to harm him, I would spare no mercy." Xiao paused and looked away before adding. " As the same for you.....".
Xiao's small smile couldn't be more genuine. " It seems that those lectures about expressing feelings Zhongli gave you finally sink in, huh?" And at that, Xiao's face heated up, the tip of his ear pink, his face turn in other directions, not looking at her. Ganyu laughed heartedly at the man. Ganyu remember those lectures very well, and they are pretty generic things said in children's books.
Honestly, Ganyu is surprised by how much he can convince Xiao about it despise not knowing much himself, a true talent. Ganyu can tell that Zhongli struggles with these emotions as well, but at least he is trying and that what matters. Emotions tend to be more common in creatures like humans, for they express their emotions daily. But something as so is not good nor useful for merciless gods, powerful deities, elemental beings like dragons and fairies.
Qilins are kind and harmonious creatures, who get along with every species and only eat flowers, grass, whole grains, and drink spring water, and qilins like her are very adept with emotions for they can sympathize easier with others.
But emotions are hard to tell, and they are even more difficult for people like Rex Lapis, an ancient dragon of geo, for Xiao, who is an adeptus and who was abused and enslaved as a killing machine for centuries. For that, Ganyu sympathizes with them. Ganyu hopes even just a little bit, that they can find their inner peace.
Rex Lapis may not show it, but Ganyu knows he has grief and negative emotions too. For as long as she has lived with the dragon, he never talks about his problems a lot, either. Ganyu hopes one day she can help Rex Lapis with his emotional baggage, too, as he has helped her.
And so as the wind flew through her hair. The sound of owls hooting. The silence emerged the night. The sound of creatures slowly drifted into a deep slumber in the bushes of the forest. The moon is finally here, and its light shines brightly tonight, lurking through the arms of the trees grew shadow. Hopefully, tomorrow nothing bad will happen.
Clock tick one, tick twice, tick the third time,...
'Well, Osial is taking his time.' Azhdaha thought. Osial couldn't stop drinking during the day, and now he is complaining? Such an idiot.
"Hey, you don't have to stand there, you know?" Osial said behind the bushes. Azhdaha sighed ' Let's just get this over with'
Azhdaha responded. " If you have gone sooner, maybe we will be home by now." Osial made a grunting sound and zipped up his pant
." Not answering my question, you pervert."
" Also, you were getting lost in your dragon speeches again. And I'm not here to listen to all of that all day. Who do you I am? A nerd? Or a guy who collected rocks for fun?" Osial retorted. Azhdaha is a
little offended even though those statements are not entirely wrong.
" Obviously worse, since you been drinking all day without taking a break," Azhdaha said blatantly.
"It's hot outside today. I am not like you, who can just absorb the fucking heat and use it for reading or something." Osial grabbed his bag from Azhdaha's hand and started walking.
Azhdaha followed. "It called a sun battery for your information."
"Yea, yea. Whatever." Osial responded bluntly." Anyway, about that plan of yours." Osial paused to recollect himself.
"Hmm...well, Let's analyze." Azhdaha continued." We have found the brown scales of the dragon. Just have to make sure that it is the right one."
" Don't you say the dragon is half-qilin or something?"
"Yea, well, there are some traces of fur. But I am not for sure it belonged to the dragon. There are rumors about a qilin living here, too."-" There just aren't enough pieces of evidence to back up the claim that the all-mighty Rex Lapis is living here." Azhdaha sounded a little down than usual.
Osial turned to him and smirked. " Hehe.."- " What do you mean 'hehe'?!"
Osial wiggled his finger in front of Azhdaha's face. " It seems that I have beaten you in this."-"What?" Replied Azhdaha bluntly
"You see, I also found something...."-".....What is it that you found?" Osial devilish smirked appeared again." Only if you promised to buy me a new skin pouch(1), the old one smelled only of sweat and dry blood now."
Azhdaha stared at him with utmost annoyance." Fine, fine. I'll buy you a new skin pouch. What it is?" Azhdaha nagged.
" This is what I've found." Osial opened his palm to Azhdaha. It....It's a...rock? An abnormally shaped ore, to be exact. This.....thing.
Azhdaha stared at the ore." What am I supposed to know about this ore?" Osial sighed." Geez, and you praised yourself for being smart about dragons. This! this is a half-eaten ore."-"Half-eaten?"-" Yes, I supposed its meal was interrupted by something?"
Osial bounced back. "As you already know, geo dragons eat rocks and inspecting this rock. This is cor lapis ore, correct?"
"That..is true."-"Then that means the dragon we looking for is here after all." Azhdaha said.
Osial continued. " So? What are we going to do now? Princey?"-"We have the evidence to show that Rex Lapis is living here
"The queen."-"The queen?."
"Yes, the queen. We should report it to the queen before anything else. If we didn't, then if someone gets the gnosis before us, they would take all the credits, no?" Osial hmmed at that.
"Isn't that a bit excessive? I mean..."Osial trailed.
"And I could get you that skin pouch on the way," Azhdaha said.
"Deal." Osial coughed." I mean."
"You could be onto something, I guess. But how are we going to get to the queen?"
"If we announce our reasoning, I'm sure the queen wouldn't mind seeing us. After all, the entire reason why she retired is because of that very important gnosis, isn't it?. And don't worry she will listen to me. If not, the guard will."
"Ahhhh." Osial paused, then started to move ahead." Right, forgot that you the queen step-son." Osial started to walk faster."Then what are you waiting for, c'mon! Let's get going," Osial said.
The sun is high up today. Wave and wave of fluffy white clouds soaring through the blue sky. The bustling of the people at the market. The sound of merchants calling out to their favorite customers for good fish and crops, dried meat, for new books and toys, for good wine, for expensive trinkets from all around Teyvat. Traders come from all different places gather here in the morning for their businesses.
The sound of children laughing and shouting spread through the entire market. People are loading their cargo onto the stall. Cows and pigs are guided into cages. No matter where you go, you can find at least one big sale deal! 'This is too crowded.' Xiao thought as he turned his attention to Zhongli.
"So what you are saying is that these cor lapis colours are from natural impacts only?"
"Yes, I kept these good ones for you, Mr.Zhongli."
"Zhongli-daren. We are running out of time. Let's go. You can go buy them later." Xiao nagged. Now in their human disguises wearing hoods, they are heading to the Zapolyarny Palace. Ah...right. The Tsaritsa.
Zhongli turned his head to the merchant." My apologies. I am not in time for purchasing your fine gems right now. Thank you for your offers, Ms. Changsun. I must leave now. Have a good day."
"No worries, guess I'll just sell these to someone else." The merchant said in a disappointed tone.
" Zhongli-daren! Xiao!" Ganyu ran toward them.
" Ganyu?" Xiao replied.
"I gave the permissions to the guards. We can go see the queen now." Ganyu said.
"Right, thank you, Ganyu. Let's us go, then."
The garden was quiet. The sound of the waterfall splash down into the large fountain. The queen does have an exquisite taste in gardening. Silk flowers and Qingxins, indeed refined. The woman who is donning a royal gown of red and black. Who is sitting at the table usually uses to host fancy tea parties. Sadly today, there won't be a party. A knock on the gates turned the emotionless expression on the woman's face into an icy smile.
"Your Majesty, your guests have arrived." The guard announced.
"Let them in."
"Yes, Your Majesty."
The woman took one last sip of the tea she was drinking. Before, the gates opened up again, and this time.
"Tsaritsa." Called by a deep voice.
" What a surprise, Morax" The Tsaritsa sat up. " It's good to see you, old friend."
"You should have told me sooner than at the last minutes, you know. I could have prepared. Who knew that Morax would come crawling at my doorstep."
Morax took a few steps inside. Trailing behind him is a young blue-haired woman with horns that have red patterns also wearing a cloak. A qilin, perhaps?. And inside the garden, there is an unwelcoming tense from somewhere. As if it is tearing a hole in her skull. 'Ahh.....yes, of course.' ' It's that adeptus.'
" I am here not to converse with you," Morax spoke.
"Hmm...How sad. I was going to offer you some of my snezhnaya-imported fine tea." The qilin woman seems to be glaring at her as well.
Morax spoke calmly." I have heard of a sudden claim. That you are looking to kill me, yes?" Morax's face turned from a stoic to a more serious expression.
"How cruel, Morax. After so much that I have given you. Yet, you still don't understand?". At that, The Tsaritsa giggle maniacally." Oh! naive Morax. After living for so long, have your brain cease to function and finally return to 'dust'?"
Morax tensed at that.
" I supposed that what the saying goes.' What-alike do alike'. Guizhong wouldn't even recognize you now, Morax. You are too pathetic, too dusty. You have grown too soft and mushy, which that became nothing but dirty mud under my foot."The Tsaritsa smirked. She clasped her hand together in a mocking gesture.
"Don't you dare slander the name of Rex Lapis like that!" The qilin retorted. The Tsaritsa ignored her words.
"You who lives in a forest and does nothing all day but frolicking with birds and flowers. I could have excused it, but for a god to fall so low. You are disgraceful. Your power is now nothing but memories of the earth. That adeptus you took under your wings showed me just how incredibly disgusting you are to play with such a monstrosity of a creature left behind by another god. Your days in Celestia are bygone now, Morax. Your friend and their gnosis all belong to me. Even those who dare to fight failed. This isn't a game, Morax. I have given you enough time to prove yourself. After all, you're always has been the oldest and wisest of us all. But I can't even consider you as an equal now."
"Mountains will someday fall." " That fateful day of yours is today, my dear friend. Your hiding game is inevitable to fail. You are different now, Morax. One who does not deserve the title of a once-powerful god of warriors. And as a queen, my job is to eliminate those who are useless to me."
"I hope you would understand the pressures that are being put on me, Morax."
Morax stood still through the entire speech without lifting even a finger. His face stern. His body tense. His eyes are sharp and calm.
The Tsaritsa extended her arm with open palm toward the still man.
"What do you say, old friend?" "Accept your fate, and gave the gnosis to me. I promised to be gentle."
Morax stood there unmoving. Face as hard as bedrock
The old god squinted his brows. " Our contract did not state such trade."
And that's when the queen broke. She started to laugh manically in Morax's face. " Oh! HAHAHAHAHA........" " You're a clown. A clown!
just like that idiot Barbatos, who failed to protect even his own gnosis, just pathetic." At that, earning a growling sound from certain adeptus.
"I can't believe you are the one I used to look up to, Morax. How ridiculous!" " But don't worry, I will make sure they bury your rotting corpse near Guizhong. That the least I can do, yes?" The queen said in a disgusting mocking tone.
"You!-" The qilin argued before it was interrupted.
A knock on the gate. All attention went straight to it.
A guard enter. He looks rather nervous and won't stop fidgeting. "Ahhh...Your Majesty, you other guests are here. Should I bring them in?" The guard bowed and asked.
The Tsaritsa sighed. "How dare you interrupted me. Can't you see we are busy negotiating here?" The Tsaritsa turn to glare at Morax and the qilin woman." Isn't that right, my dear friend?"
The guard fidgeted some more."Of course, I don't want to bother you, my queen. But they are very persistent. And I-"
" YOUR MAJESTY!!"
Coming from the outside. The shout was soon followed by two tall grown men busting down the garden gate, one of the men has long blue hair, navy eyes, wearing hunter attire, and skinnier than the other one. The other has glasses and seems to be wearing quite noble clothing, with messy dark brown hair mixed with goldenrod yellow-ish colours. Ahh right, it's her late husband's offspring. What his name again? Ash? Azh. Azhdaha.
"What is this indecency?!" The queen shouted. Those men scrunched up before explaining." My queen, we are informed that your meeting with us is at this hours as we discussed yesterday. There couldn't be any reason more important than the location of the gnosis after all." Azhdaha coughed mid-sentence, sweat pouring from his face like an ice cream stick melting on a hot summer day.
" We would be sorry to interrupt your tea party, but this is very urgent." Azhdaha finished. The Tsaritsa look at him with a bemused face. " Really? That idle chatter that we made does not mean you can crash into MY palace and disturb MY party. "
Osial plead. " Yes, but Rex Lapis is gone! We came to check on the scene this morning and all traces were gone. We thought he has figured that we would come again to get him!"
The Tsaritsa turn amused." Oh? Well, what a surprising coincidence! It seems that the person you were rambling on about is also here." The Tsaritsa turned her face and glared at the figure in the hood.
"Here?" Azhdaha asked. Turn to the mysterious figure standing still in the middle of the room, the person with a white hood covering their head. They turned around and-
"Mr.Zhongli?!" Osial shocked voice echo in the garden." Mr.Zhongli! You are Rex Lapis?!"
"Ahh, it's good to see you, two gentlemen, again, but sadly, I can not converse with you today. " Morax said in a stern voice.
" Now who is tricking who, Morax. I didn't know you would deceive people as such."-" Now!, hand over the gnosis, Morax. Resistance is useless."
Morax now surrounded Azhdaha, Osial, and the queen herself. The menacing smile on The Tsaritsa's face known full well that he could never hurt those humans. Suddenly a strong wisp of wind surged through, blew all the flowers in the garden, a dark figure instantly knocked down Azhdaha and Osial.
"Agh!" Osial yelped before falling on his back.
" Don't you dare lay finger on him, you witch!" The green adeptus shouted.
"Xiao," Morax said
"Sorry, Zhongli-daren. I can't watch them push you into a corner like this." Xiao now replied.
" Haven't you commit enough karma for your lifetime, little adeptus. I see you haven't learned a thing under Morax's guidance, for you to be so rude to your own lord's friends."
"You better shut that dam hole! Before I rip it off your face." Xiao pointed his spear against the face of the queen.
"Language! Xiao." Morax said." Sorry, my lord."
"You think that only you have pets, Morax?" The queen's smile faded before she turned to her 'dear' stepson. "You wanted the throne, don't you? then get him."
Azhdaha was shocked at the request of the queen. " I-" His eyes went wide, and a disgusted look on his face.
"What is it? Aren't you the son that I love so dearly? Make me proud, then. Claim the throne as yours." The queen said.
" You can't-, my queen." Azhdaha stuttered. Osial watched him in confusion, not knowing what to do. Osial never heard of someone who the queen loved dearly, and if there is someone, they are probably the queen herself.
"My queen, I w-" Before he could finish. "Stop this nonsense, Tsaritsa."
It was Morax.
" Your selfishness has truly lead you into delusion. You're hungry for power as much as a mortal would to a god. What little left of you is no divine, Tsaritsa. You are more than corrupted." Morax said.
" If you truly wish for a fight, then I shall give you one."
Tsaritsa giggle in her usual devilish tone. " I see. I will accept your request, then. A battle with you would be a fun distraction from my work. After all, beating the warrior god would be pretty enticing, don't you think so, Morax?"
Morax replied." A title meant nothing until you have proven yourself that you are worth it."
"Humbleness and arrogance don't mix well, Morax. Especially with you."
The Tsaritsa laughed before sending waves of cryo attack toward Morax, striking the god.
The shield was about to break before sending Zhongli tumbled backward. He hasn't fought ever since the archon war ended. The Tsaritsa was right about one thing is that he is dusty. He can barely catch up with the rhythm of the battle. Being near the humans wasn't helping, either.
Xiao felt like he is about to combust. Seeing his lord fighting without helping him is so frustrating. The handle on his spear was going to break with how much force he is using to hold it right now. His eyes glued to the scene, making sure his lord is ok. He can't believe this. His lord has specifically asked him not to intervene. But how can't he not! His lord is practically being beaten by that monster of a god.
Ganyu can't seem to find any words to describe the strange occurrence that is currently happening. Xiao and the two humans were so focus on watching the fight between the two gods. She caught glimpses of the two humans babble with each other about something. Xiao is silently ripping his throat out with how much internal screaming he is doing.
The hand on her elbow grips tighter. She didn't even realize that she was gripping it in the first place. Rex Lapis may be the god of warriors, his ways of fighting are suited for the battlefield, unyielding, unexpected, and his ways of fighting are so powerful yet performed with so much grace and elegance. It's almost like he is dancing with his spear.
Ganyu is not biased whatsoever. However, she can tell that this is not a type of fight that would serve Zhongli the upper hand. It feels so unfair somehow. Zhongli hasn't fought in a long time, he said that violence shouldn't be an answer, and after the war, he has given up on fighting entirely. Remains to be peaceful with nature and humans. He said that it is simply the qilin part inside of him.
The sound of the spear hit the ground 'clanks'. Xiao's eyes widen witnessing his lord fell to the brick tiles. Without a blink of an eye, he teleported right in front of Zhongli, shielding him with his spear.
" Xiao." His lord breathed.
" Are you letting your subordinate protecting you, Morax?"-" How sad. Though I still have a job to finish." The Tsaritsa let out a deep grunt before striking down with a blast of ice. Xiao sent the anemo energy mixed with the cryo to create a blizzard freezing the garden. Ganyu manipulated the ice storm to cool down before it hit all of them. In the process, making the ground that they are standing on entirely iced. The garden they were standing before, right now, is nothing but a floor of ice.
Zhongli moved to grab Xiao's shoulders. " This is the contract between me and The Tsaritsa, please let me handle this, Xiao."
Xiao wrinkled his eyebrows. " My lord, I can't let you do this. You are far too weak right now." Xiao retorted before picking up his spear. " Please let me handle this, Zhongli."
Zhongli stared at him. " So what? Are you not going to put up with your end of the contract, Morax? I never would have thought the upholder of the contract would go against his words." The Tsaritsa mocked.
" I-" Zhongli's face finally showed some emotions. They all scrunch up, and it looks like Zhongli is in a lot of pain.
At that Ganyu said. " You also have not upheld your promise to Rex Lapis, about leaving the forest alone!" Ganyu argued.
The Tsaritsa laughed. " Is that so? The last time I checked that this land belongs solely to me!" The queen sent a crash of ice spike toward them.
Before Zhongli could react, Xiao carried him out of the way by teleporting. But unfortunately, The Tsaritsa quickly summoned cryo knives that dropped from the ceilings onto their heads.
Ganyu reacted faster than she has ever before, running to cover Xiao, blocking the attacks by creating a qilin out of ice to deal with all the damage.
" Look at you, shivering in the corner. What? Has the cold get to you yet?" The queen glared at them with her devilish grin. " If not, then get ready for I'll show what a real god can do." The Tsaritsa stomped her heel to the ground of ice. The ground started to shake violently, ice fragments started to break apart, those that were under their feet were breaking as well, revealing that they been standing on the deep hole of the water source coming from the fountain of the garden before they know it-
Screams were coming from them. They fell headfirst into the deep tunnel, surrounded by water, the shaking was so violent that Xiao couldn't teleport before he passed out completely along with Ganyu and Zhongli.
Their fall seems to have alerted the queen. The queen surprised expression said it all. Osial and Azhdaha can only hold on to each other for dear life. Then when the ground has stopped shaking.
Azhdaha realized that Osial been holding on to him. Very tight might he added. " um...Osial?" Osial quickly drew himself from Azhdaha, promptly spoke." Uh..uh yea?"
They withdrew from their awkwardness to turn their attention to the queen. There footsteps coming from outside, and it seems that the guards have caught up to their mess. The queen turned her head, looking to the gates and then to Azhdaha.
A tight grip on Azhdaha's neck before he realized it, the queen was talking to him. " You. Go and get that dragon heart." It was a simple request, yet it still felt like a thousand weights have been put on him all of a sudden. The queen turned around.
With a fake smile on her face, she dismissed the alert that the guards have. She told them that it was ok. Then turned to him and Osial. " And don't disappoint me this time." She was up and gone before he knew it.
Osial wide eyes would indicate the horrible things that they went through today. " Welp, shit."
Azhdaha took a deep breath before turning to Osial. " We have to go and get that gnosis."- "Woah! Woah! hey now. Since when are 'we'." Osial made a gesture toward himself and Azhdaha.
" Well, if you haven't suggested that we bust into the meeting, then it probably wouldn't involve us in the first place. Secondly, I can't do this alone, so you are coming with me. "
"You- Ugh! fine," Osial said grumpily.
It was all white. There so a buzz that won't stop ringing in his ear. The foggy image of something. He can't tell. He was falling a second earlier. Has he died? Where Ganyu and Xiao? His body tingling, but his fingertips feel like they have been through electro waves. Has The Tsaritsa won? He....
He remembered ice-cold feelings and hearing screams coming from his friends. He-
He can hear again now. But there are so many sounds he doesn't know what he is hearing. Sounds that can only be described as 'honk' and 'beep'?
He opened his eyes. His body is currently laying somewhere cold. This....this place is....not Teyvat. Sounds are coming from the flooding of black and grey, sometimes red colours that he sees, his vision...so blurry.
"Ugh......Zhongli-daren...?" Asked tiredly, a voice close to him. Is that Ganyu?- "Ga...Ganyu?..."
"..I can't see...." The voice 'Ganyu' said.
"..Me either..." Another voice, probably 'Xiao' said.
After a few minutes of them recollecting their senses. Xiao finally sat up, leaning against a brick wall. " Ugh...What happened to us?" He said out of breath.
" This place doesn't look like any regions of Teyvat," Ganyu replied.
What Ganyu said was right. The place they ended up in is so much more different than Teyvat. As if they have transported themself to another world. This place is noisy and bustling with things. Tall blue and grey towers emerged from the ground reaching the sky. There were sounds of people walking by them without batting them a look. The fashion of the people in this world is also very strange and different from their attires.
Xiao sighed. " My headache..." Scratching the back of his head. Xiao looked up at Zhongli.
" Zhongli-daren, you alright?" Xiao asked
That caught Zhongli off guard. " It seems..... that I have been fairly injured in some places......" Zhongli said in a timid voice as if he too shy to admit it.
Zhongli's body has given out. Bruises and broken bones from the war have been way worse. But Zhongli can't help but grunt in pain as his magical adepti healing do the work. Why wasn't it working? He usually heals very quickly. The aching of his body is still there, and it is only getting worse.
A voice called out. " HEY!" It was a man dressed weirdly in a green shirt and pants? He has a name written on a card on his chest. He seems to be angry at them.
" Who are you, people? And why are you sitting in this alleyway, this belongs to our cafe. Please go away. You guys are scaring the guests." The man said.
" Ah yes, we did not realize this was your property, good sir. We will leave right away." Ganyu responded nicely to the man. If it was Xiao, he was seriously going knock some senses into that man's head.
" Fucking weird cosplayers..." He murmured as he walked away into the door and closed it behind his back. Xiao sighed. " It seems that the people here are not so friendly. We should keep an eye out on them."
"C'mon. let's get going then," Ganyu said while holding out a hand for Zhongli to grab. Xiao also stood up. Though still a bit dizzy. Zhongli's head is spinning. Ganyu is trying to walks still.
The trio walked right out of the alleyway into the street and was immediately greeted by a large iron box with wheels.
"What the heck!?! Watch where you are going!!" The man inside the box angrily yelled. Seeing that, Xiao kicked the head of the weird vehicle thingy. Xiao, who already can't hold back his frustration any longer, lashed out. " You better watch your words, human!" As Xiao brought out his spear to point at the thing." Or I can slice your throat off, you dickhead!"
The man exited the vehicle and bickered at Xiao. " Hey! what did you just called me? And stop pointing that thing at me!" The man doesn't seem to be threatened by the spear that is pointing at him.
" I said you step back, you orange mop head!"
"Xiao" Ganyu tried to stop him.
" You are getting in my way first! you short gremlin. " The redhead sighed and continued." Do you want me to call the cops on you?!"
The sounds were too much for Zhongli. His body isn't in the best state, and his vision hasn't fully recovered yet. All the yellings were making his head spin. He just wished it to stop. But it kept going and going. His legs started to feel weak, his joint almost knitted together.
His hands are trembling non-stop.
And then Zhongli collapsed on top of the vehicle. ' Zhongli-daren!!' was all that he could hear before passing out completely. He hoped Xiao and Ganyu forgave him for being so selfish. For leaving them behind to deal with all these troubles. But he couldn't hold on to it much longer.
The darkness enveloped him, and he felt safe again. Maybe this could be his break before he woke up again and having to face with whatever this new crazy world has to throw on him.
But for now, he closed his eyes and hoped for everything to turned out okay.