The sound of the alarm awaked Childe from his sleep. His eyes half-lidded, his mouth dry from all the drooling he been doing all night. His brain still hasn't functioned at this time of the day yet. But his own body knows what to do without orders, for he does the same routine every single day.
Today is a normal day. This day is like yesterday, like every other day of the year. It is going to fine and dandy. He just going to wash, eat then go to work and try to deal with his colleague's shenanigans, and then he can go home turned on his favorite TV show while binging some snacks.
Yet Childe couldn't shake off this uneasy feeling of his. This kind of feeling always signals something bad that happened. Could it be that he got too drunk last night and did something? Could it be that Scaramouche stole something from him when he was high on alcohol? His memory was still recovering from yesterday. He tried to jog his head a few times, but it didn't seem to work. Childe hoped that he hasn't forgotten anything important about today.
Slowly, Childe sat up in his bed, reflecting yesterday's bad decisions isn't the best way to start the day out. He thought as he stood up and rubbed his eyes a few times. Childe took a slow walk to the bathroom, his legs each slowly limping to the sink. He picked the tube of toothpaste and started to apply it onto his toothbrush.
He stared at the image reflecting himself in the mirror while brushing his teeth. And then his memory hit him. "BLURGGHHHH." He aggressively spat the toothpaste out as a restrained water fountain would. The water hit his face harshly, and his eyes opened wide as they could. Childe's face is an expression of remorse. How could he possibly forget this? What a stupid dumb-dumb man was!
Today was Anthon, Tonia, and Teucer's visiting day.
They were supposed to meet him at the airport with his parents! Teucer and Tonia usually visit him a lot during their summer vacation. However, this year, there will be Anthon joined. Since he is not in summer school this year.
'What time is it!?' Childe thought. Childe made a quick dash to the clock on his bedroom dresser. '8:34' He is not late. Not yet. Childe could make it on time if he were driving there now.
Childe, in the speed of light, put on his trousers and a shirt. He grabbed his key and frantically dashed out of the door.
'Fuck, fuck fuck fuck'.Childe's thought repeated itself over and over as he made his way downstairs. 'As he ran to the elevator, ' Out of service.' The sign said. 'Damn it!' Childe made quick steps to the stairs after that.
His parent was going to kill him, and cremated him for archon sake! Childe checked his watch.' 3 minutes late. it alright, it alright. I can make it.' He said to assured himself.
God, why was he so drunk last night? He vaguely remembered someone got a taxi for him. He didn't drink that much, did he? It definitely because of Dottore's fault and not his.
If only that mother fucker Dottore hasn't asked him out to drink and then said that he would 'pay' for it! Childe swears on his name that he is going to punch that bitch in the face once he met him again. He will make sure that Dottore's face is so fucked up that he couldn't drink any beverages anymore. And when his parents slice him up for it, he will make sure Dottore gets a part as well.
It might even be good business for that director girl who kept giving out her funeral service bonus sale at the office. She would love to hear what Childe has conducted up in his mind. He might even buy an extra one for Scaramouche for all the shit he put on him! And as she called it, 'A wonderful gift for those who are facing a dead-end.'
He will make note of that.
The journey of traveling from his apartment on the top floor of the complex he is currently living in. To the garage was a long and difficult one. But when he finally got to the car, he checked his watch again ' 10 minutes isn't too bad...Is it?'. He thought as he started the engine.
'Ugh! Why is morning traffic always so bad." He swore to archon if he sees another car trying to hustle with him. Childe is going to snap on whatever kind of adrenaline he is on. And he hasn't even had his morning coffee yet. That damn bastard Dottore is going to pay for this. He is going to put a ton of salt in the coffee when he delivered it to that damn fuck-face. Childe just hoped that this traffic started to loosen up soon.
When the traffic is finally starting to move again, and he breathed out a large sigh. Childe checked his watch the third time. ' 25 minutes whole.' He is going through all stages of grief right now.
This isn't about his parents anymore. He knows his parents could be very busy. What if Teucer, Tonia, and Anthon were left there alone then? He would be a horrible brother! His siblings matter to him more than anything. What will this affect his image upon his young and impressionable siblings?! That you have to be unorganized and an alcoholic when you grow up?!
God, he hoped not.
Teucer is his little sunshine and the happy gem of a smile in his life. He even made Mr. Cyclops just for him! To keep him happy and safe. Teucer valued that toy like treasure. He always holds it with him everywhere he goes. It was nice to hear until he received a phone call from his parents stating that he was taking it to the bathroom and sneaking it to school.
Tonia is his little princess, his cheery and strong little sister. Tonia always is caring and sensitive to details. He and Tonia casually exchanging letters all the time. She isn't old enough to own a phone to text yet. But he did promise to buy her a phone sometime this year because the letters thing were cute, but it was starting to get a bit inconvenient. He sometimes busy with work and doesn't have time to read letters. And Tonia said it difficult to go and asked for mom phone every time she wants to talk with him.
And Anthon is his sweet and timid brother. Anthon is a very studious kid, and whenever it's his birthday, the only thing he asked him to gift him is books. Books about natural science, astrology, history, cooking,....., He doesn't even know why Anthon would want a compilation of famous musicians' life in the 90s in a book, regardless Anthon was joyous when he gave him that.
He felt a rush of blood drifting through his veins, some kind of adrenaline boost in his body. Thinking about his siblings must have given him some newfound strength. So he sped up. His focus is purely on the road. The road only, it is moving faster than ever, the image in his mind. All he sees is the colours of the street. He sure he could hear some people yelled at him for almost crashing into them.
It took him by surprise when a bunch of moving colors moving into his view. And so he panicked and in instinct, instantly pushed the brakes of the car.
Faster than the car reacted itself. The sound of wheels screeching on the asphalt concrete. Childe heartbeats are going crazy by this point. Times seem to stop for a moment. His heart jumped at the sight and held on tight to his seat.
And then the car stopped.
Childe quickly checks again through his windows. His vision now no longer blurry. People. It was not colours that he saw. It was a bunch of people. Three specifically. One with green hair, one with blue hair, and the other with brown hair? Childe can't tell, it looked like an ombre or something, but he doesn't care. They are all wearing hanfu with weird attachments. Two of them are holding spears? And the other one is holding a bow. Are they cosplayers or something? Is there an anime con here that he doesn't know?
"What the heck!?! Watch where you are going!!" He yelled in irritation.
The green one snapped back at him. " You better watch your words, human!"
They sure are playing their role well, if that is being absolutely ruthless. The green one is now pointing the stick-thingy directly at Childe's face. Is that made plastic? It looked pretty high effort for a costume, and the stick he is holding to look like a spear.
" Or I can slice your throat off, you dickhead!" He threatened. But his breath seems cut and almost like he is really exhausted. He seems to be quite beaten up too.
What is a little guy like that going to do to him? Childe maybe looked cute and charming all, but these muscles don't just build by themselves! He sure he can take on that dude or at least ten dudes like that with ease. He took on a bigger dude before, Ekaterina wasn't happy, but at least he won! This short little cheese-eater isn't going to scratch him a bit!
" Hey! what did you just called me? And stop pointing that thing at me!" Childe argued at him. Childe is trying his best to be civil right now. He doesn't want to draw things out by a fight because that would only be wasting his time. Childe is trying, but these idiots are standing in his way of getting his siblings!
" I said you step back, you orange mop head!" His head was not a mop! His hair colours are naturally bright, for your information. Saved for that two lighter strands of hair, Signora said it was for a fashion trend. "Xiao." The blue-haired one said, holding the guy back.
" You are getting in my way first! you short gremlin. " Childe snapped back at him. He looked at his watch one last time. ' 48 minutes late...' That brought a bemused expression onto Childe's face.
" Ugh! Do you want me to call the cops on you?!" Childe snapped back. " I don't have time for this! You and your weird cosplaying friends get out of my way! Or else!" He threatened the weird guy.
The guy seems to be taken back as he gasped and started to retort. " You human! Man-thing! How could you say to the face of Rex Lapi-...."
His hearing fazed out after that. He does not need to hear this guy rants or his status about being an 'adeptus' or whatever he is talking about right now.
His siblings, his dear precious, siblings are waiting for him at the airport, and yet he got stuck with these troublesome people. Tonia might have cried at some point. At least Teucer has Mr. Cyclops, and Anthon must be so scared and confused, and it's his first time visiting! What kind of horrible big brother is just going to leave his siblings like that at the airport?!?
Nothing is more important than his siblings. How could anything rival them in this situation right now? Why does he need to argue with these rock heads again? He should just leave and go. He really should.
That what he thought until a man-body was practically fell 'thunk' unconscious on the top of his car, the said man's limps go numb, and his dull eyes closed. As the two others yelled out in remorse. " Zhongli-daren!!"
Childe knew this was going to be a long day. But little did he know that this isn't going to be as he expected.
The sound of the fan is blowing in the busy office. The smell of medical cleanliness enveloped the room. As people go in and out of their respective doors. Doctors are talking with their subordinates. There are frequent announcements on the speaker. Childe looked around as he returned his attention to what the nurse has to say.
" Patient name?" The nurse asked him, holding a paper clipboard.
"Uh...ugh." Looking back at the pair babbling behind him.
They haven't stopped talking with each other since they arrived here. When they were in the car, the pair were basically leeching onto the unconscious man. It was as if they were protecting him from any danger. Even Childe couldn't even see his face with how much they were wrapping around his body.
Childe sighed and answered. " Umm...Zhongli. Yes, his name is Zhongli." Finding himself unsure of the name as well. Childe has only heard it once, but somehow it remained inside of his head.
The nurse seems to be searching through files of patients. "Hmm...Sorry, I am not very good with names. But I am sure that there was no patient named 'Zhongli' here before. I suppose he is just new to our hospital."
" What about his injuries?" The green gremlins asked, stepping in the way of Childe and the nurse. " Is it healable?" The blue girl asked.
"Heal? Well, he IS going to heal eventually. He has some pretty bad bruises and cuts, but it is not something too dangerous. It seems that he suffered from hypothermia and heat shock. He also has a slight fever." The nurse stared at them. " Although you two seem to require to check up too."
The nurse was not entirely wrong. Childe looked at the pair. The green-hair guy is looking a little dazed, not to mention he has a nosebleed with scratches on his abdomen area. The blue girl has purples on her knees and arms.
"What are you talking about?" The green one said. Face puzzling.
"I see that you and your friends are all in very bad condition right now. That girl there looks like she just fought in a wrestler match. And you look awfully sick as well." The nurse continued to recommend. " Maybe you two should come with me."
The pair looked at each other and whispered something." Fine..." Childe heard something come from the green guy. And then, they nodded and obediently followed the nurse.
As they walked away, Childe breathed out a sigh. 'Well, now that this is settled.' Childe checked his watch ' 1h 30' late.' Childe wasn't going to give up there. After leaving the hospital. He immediately jumped in his car and drive as fast as he could to the airport.
"Big brother!!" The sound of Teucer happily greeted Childe. Tonia turned her attention to him as well as he ran toward them.
" Teucer! Tonia!" Childe yelled. His arms opened wide, and then he scooped both of them into a big tight family hug. Teucer and Tonia buried their face in his arms. Tonia smiled. " You're here! You're here! Brother Anthon has been pretty mad at you for being so late to get us..., but it's okay, I was mad too before you came."
"Pshh! Liar! You were crying so hard because you were scared!" Teucer knocked in.
"You cried too!!" Tonia retorted at Teucer.
"Ahh, speaking of him? Where is Anthon?" Childe asked. Tonia pointed at the nearby benches. There it sat one lonely boy, facing the other side. Anthon must be pretty angry at Childe for him to be like that.
Childe approached him gently and said in a soft tone. " Anthon...I'm sorry that I didn't get here sooner. It just that umm...well." How does he say that again? Maybe he can just use the usual excuse.
" It's...It's business, it's about my job. I couldn't miss out on them. I'm so sorry." Tapping lightly on Anthon's shoulder to alert him.
The boy still not facing his way. " Hey...Buddy?" Childe coughed. And then suddenly, Teucer jumped in.
"Brother Anthon! Brother! Look! it's Mr. Cyclops!" He said as he raised his hand out, holding the toy figure. Teucer grin and said. " Doesn't Mr. Cyclops always cheer you up!" Teucer wiggled the figure around as its limps are jumping all sorts of places.
Then, finally, Anthon turned around and said. " Mr. Cyclops only fun when brother Ajax played with it....., But brother Ajax broke a promise, I don't want to play with it anymore....."
"BOooo! Brother Ajax made Anthon cried!! Brother Ajax will pay!" Tonia whined as she hit and tugged on his shirt. " Hey! Hey! I didn't want to be late!" Childe sighed and said." Anthon, I know how important that is a promise to you and our family. And I have broken our promise. As so, you should punish me! Any favor you want! I will do it for you!" Anthon seems to lighten up at that. " Only one favor?"
"Um...Well, any favors! More than one, until you are no longer mad at me anymore." Anthon sniffled and said. " You have a great debt to pay, brother Ajax." and then he gave him a small smile.
" Anything for my little siblings! Your brother didn't work in the Fatui Corporation for nothing! I have enough money to buy you guys all of the toys in the world if you want!" Childe confidently claimed.
"Hehe! Good job, brother Anthon. We can have all the new toys now!" Teucer cheerfully said. Tonia knocked his head. " Hey! That debt is from brother Ajax to brother Anthon. You can't make a wish for him!" Tonia retorted.
"Hahaha...Alright, in the means time let's get you guys home first, ok? You guys can discuss what you want with each other later. Are you hungry, Teucer?" Childe said.
" I'm not hungry at all! Sister Tonia gave me all of her treats before you came. I ate it all!" Teucer answered.
" Oh really? I was thinking about bringing you guys to eat at someplace really nice and have really good food." Childe said. At that, Tonia gasped. " Really? Yay! I always wanted to try the city cuisines! Are we going to a restaurant?"
" Yea., sort of,...I already made the reservation! You guys would love the place! My friend also worked there tonight." Childe said. Teucer clapped his hands. " Yay! Brother Ajax is the best!"
" We get to meet your friend? Ohhhhhhh, Is it your girlfriend? Do you have a girlfriend yet, brother Ajax? I want to know! Mother and father have been asking about it too." Tonia jumped up and down, holding her head in her hand and grinning non-stop.
"Hahaha, wait, they were asking about it?" Childe asked. Tonia nodded. " Yea, brother Ajax! You've been single for too long! Mom and dad say it's time to find someone. They complained to me, you know." Tonia folded her arms and pouted.
"To-..to you?" Childe stuttered. 'Did everyone at home actually said that?'. "Yea! So they send me on a mission as well!" Tonia happily said. " A mission?!"-" Yea! I'm going to be your matchmaker! Hmph! Don't you underestimated me! With me on your side, all the ladies will fall for you! Don't worry, brother Ajax, Tonia is here to save the day!"
"Tonia, I don't think I need a matchmaker. Besides, your brother is already a charmer to all the ladies." Tonia looked at him weirdly at that. " I don't believe you, if that was true, then why don't you have a girlfriend by now?"
"I just not into finding anyone right now, ok? Now, c'mon Teucer and Anthon must be tired. Let's go home and get you guys washed." Childe said.
" Ok! The last one who gets to the car is a rotten egg!" Teucer said before running ahead of them. " Hey!" Tonia ran behind him.
" C'mon Anthon! We can't lose to them!" Childe said. Anthon nodded and started to follow him to the car.
It was all black. Then, suddenly it was white. Everything was so blurry that he couldn't make out what was happening. The sound of Xiao and Ganyu talking, a feeling of being carried somewhere. Where were they going?
The sound of arguing and rustling, and at a moment's notice, he was somewhere else. The warm feeling wasn't there anymore, replace with a hard and cold surface, one that he is currently laying on. What was happening? Someone was touching him and doing something to him, but he can't tell. He laid unbothered, letting them do what they want. He is too tired, too stressed out to care.
What they were doing was surprisingly good, he felt relaxing, and his body is healing again. In his mind, all he could think of is how Xiao and Ganyu must be very worried about him. Zhongli knows that they would be alright, they are strong enough on their own, but he can't help but rely on them on so many things that he felt shameful. So shameful. The least he can do is to be there for them, yet he is now laying here as just a body. He never felt so helpless before.
His consciousness is coming back, it seems. Zhongli could sense it. His mind finally returned to his body once more. His eyes lids were heavy as he tried to stir himself up.
As he opened his eyes, he was greeted by the bright light of the room. This room..., It's strange. It is a lot different from those rooms they have in Teyvat. Where was he? Zhongli sat upright and leaned against the headboard of the bed. He sighed and looked around the room.
On the right of him were windows. Next to him, there was a dresser with a flower vase on it. The bed...he is sitting on is very stiff, a lot harder than the softness of the nest in his cave. Everything was white. He wondered why that is?
The door opened then Zhongli turned his attention to it. " Ah, you are awake now?" The person asked him.
"Ah yes. May I asked where am I?". Zhongli responded. " Ah, that. You are in the City General Hospital. You passed out in the middle of the street. You have a slight fever and also experienced hypothermia and heat shock. You must have felt really tired, but I do have some forms for you to file, and your friends are in really bad shape, as well." She said.
" Xiao? Ganyu? Are they alright?!" Zhongli panicked and grabbed onto the woman's arm. "Do not worry, mister. They are still healthy, just some injuries here and there. They are getting treatments in a different room." The woman reassured him. Zhongli's shoulders droop at that. He glad that Ganyu and Xiao were ok and are being treated.
"Oh, alright. I'm very sorry for grabbing you." Zhongli let go of her arm. The woman laughed whole-heartedly." It's okay. A lot of patients when they woke up, do that as well." The woman gave him some paper. Zhongli looked at the words that were written on the papers.
He didn't realize what languages this is? Is this Liyuen? Inazumese? Snezhnayan, even? No, this is very different. Zhongli despises living 6000 years' worth of life and is able to read and write all of the languages that are in Teyvat, Zhongli couldn't understand a single word on this piece of paper that the woman handed to him. He felt like a young god again, as if it was his first days picking up a brush to practice calligraphy on rag paper.
Zhongli coughed and responded to the woman.
"Um...Sorry but I do not understand the contents of the paper." Zhongli gave the piles of forms back to the woman. She stared at him and asked. " Oh? You can't read? Are you a foreigner?"
"Yes.....I supposed you could say that." He said.
" I guess so. I didn't mean to be rude. It just that I looked through files and couldn't find anyone your name before here, and I figure that you just moved here?" The woman reassured him.
"Yes, I am..., new to this.....place," Zhongli replied. It was true that he was indeed 'move' here by accident.
"That's nice. I hoped your experiences here are pleasant. Our city is big and expanded, so it would take a while for you to remember how to get around. But I think you would manage." The woman encouraged him. The woman seems to be very friendly and well-spoken. Zhongli was glad to see a human helping him and his friends in this predicament.
" Yes, thank you for your advice. It is much appreciated." Zhongli said and smiled at the woman.
"How about I ask you about your information, and I will file this for you?" The woman offered."Yes, I would love it if you could do that. To not waste your time, my friends can't understand your language as well. I can provide the information you need for them as well." 'This is the least he can do for Ganyu and Xiao.' Zhongli thought.
"That would be great." The woman smiled and started writing as she asked Zhongli many things. Zhongli nodded and answered the woman's questions with his earnest ability.
Xiao was getting bandaged for his arms. The doctor told him to hold very still and relax his body. But how can he relax when everything is going terribly wrong.
First, they fought with The Tsaritsa and then got injured and sent to a different world. They almost got hit by a strange man with a weird accent, and he got into a fight with the said man. Then his lord fell unconscious to the ground. And now his lord is nowhere to be seen, and that orange-haired guy is gone, and Ganyu is now somewhere else.
That brought him back to reality, where he has finished his treatments and is standing in front of Ganyu healing room. His bandage is tight, and they keep giving medicines for him to drink as if he needs those. He's a warrior who has defeated countless monsters and slain thousands of demons before. He is not a weak human like they are. He folded his arms and leaned against the wall. Let out a sigh.
It has been a long day. It should be evening by now in his world. As a deity, time usually flows by a lot faster than you think. But in this world that they landed in, the time is so slow. It made him felt almost human with how little time has changed since they came here. It's only noon by now.
He used to stay awake days after days, nights after nights hunting demons and protecting the villages. He used to watch decades and decades pass by as if it was nothing. Human life is like a few minutes to him.
They are born and died so quickly, so soon. But standing right here, right now, he could practically feel the human around him. Not just standing from afar and watch them but feeling the life coming from them. Xiao can see and talk to them, watch them so closely and intimately.
Maybe all of those isolations were a bad idea, for he doesn't know how to talk to these humans like Zhongli or Ganyu does. Ganyu may be shy, but she isn't someone that people afraid or hate of but him. He isn't someone that humans as fragile as them trust. He doesn't know them and their intentions. Humans are unpredictable creatures, and that why a human can be both bad and good.
Xiao doesn't care about the human as much as protecting them. It was his duty, after all. Zhongli said that he is free of his duty when he has saved from his old master but did he? Has he done something? Unlike Zhongli, who was a god, who has won many wars and battles, he guided his people into peacefulness and is proud of what he created.
He lived for so long to realize that he has done all that he could do, now that he can retire. He gave the world orders and contracts, binding and shaping Teyvat into a land of fairness and justice.
But for Xiao, a deity who was created for one purpose, that is to kill. His sole purpose is to destroy and eliminate all of those that his master told him to. But his mission now is to defeat evils, but evils never rest, and they never stop. Evils and corruption will always be lurking around the corner.
Now, as the last yaksha. His only goal is to protect the people that his lord loved and cherished so much. Too much that as to give them his plot of land to live on and to grow on. This evilness grows like fungus, and as The Tsaritsa is the ruler of Teyvat. He can never be sure of the safeness of his home.
What if one day, he can no longer fight? Will there be those who will replace him? Will Teyvat able to survive for another thousand centuries? He doesn't know.
He wondered if one day, only if he lived long enough will he be able to....., meet that person again. Hear the melodies play by the harp of his delicate fingertips and hear his sweet voice once again. He who help Xiao countless of times, maybe his debt with that person isn't as granted as with his lord, but there something about that person that felt a lot more.....special to him.
"Xiao!" The sound of Ganyu's voice snapped him out of his thoughts. No, he was not daydreaming.
" Are you finished with the bruises?" Xiao asked. Ganyu got small bandages on some of her fingers, which must be from the ice qilin she summoned when she was blocking The Tsaritsa ice knives.
" Yes! I drank some medicine, and I feel a lot better now. How about you?" Ganyu said.
" Tsk, human medicines don't work on me. My adeptus power will heal on of itself. This is just simply a faster way to do it." Xiao answered.
"Hello." The nurse from earlier came into the conversation. "Your friend from this morning has awake."
"Zhongli-daren has awake?" Xiao asked.
" Can we go and see him?" Ganyu said.
" Yes, you can. We were making procedures to discharge him from the hospital. Come with me." The nurse instructed.
Xiao and Ganyu looked at each other, then both nodded. They followed the nurse to Zhongli's room.
Once they stepped into the room, they were greeted with the sight of Zhongli sitting up in bed and a nurse sitting beside him on a stool. Zhongli noticed them and looked up.
"Zhongli-daren," Ganyu called.
" Ah...Ganyu, Xiao. How are you two? I have heard from this lady that you two have been injured quite badly." Zhongli replied.
" Do not worry for us. You are the one that got injured the most." Xiao said. At that, Zhongli hummed. " It is not as serious as you think. I have been in way worse condition than this before. It is not that easy to knock me down. But I must apologize for leaving you two worry about me."
"Zhongli-daren said that, but you got knocked out pretty quickly." Ganyu teased.
"...It-Its but a matter of strength. I suppose I'm not as strong as I used to be. But do not worry about me. I will be just fine, I promised." Zhongli said to assure them.
"We are almost done with the papers. You guys can leave the hospital soon enough." The nurse who is standing said. The woman who has been sitting on the stool this whole time finally stood up and handed the nurse the files that she has been writing.
"I should take my leave, then. We are going to leave you alone for a while. I will come back to announce when you can leave." The said woman told them. Before heading out, the other nurse is gone as well.
"Ganyu, you should sit," Xiao said, now seeing that there an empty stool. Ganyu replied. " Oh no, I'm not that tired. You should."
At that, Zhongli said. "Hmm...How about you two just sit on my bed. It is rather large, is it?" Hearing so. Xiao and Ganyu sat on the bedside facing Zhongli. " Can you walk now, Zhongli-daren?"
"Yes, I feel much better now. Walking shouldn't be a problem. Though it has come to my attention that my adeptus healing ability doesn't seem to work in this world." Zhongli said.
"I see. I felt so too. My healing has been slowing down a lot." Xiao said.
" Could it be that it's an after-effect of going through that portal?" Ganyu questioned.
Xiao put his index finger and thumb on his chin, pondered. " It's could very well be. About that, we still haven't found a way to get back to Teyvat yet. The Tsaritsa could still be on the hunt for your heart, my lord."
"The Tsaritsa has never step that far. But now I fear for the people of Teyvat a lot more, knowing this side of her. " Zhongli said in a concerning tone.
"You can never give her the gnosis! Zhongli-daren. I would never let The Tsaritsa put her filthy hands on it. Who knows what she will do with the power of all the gnosis! " Ganuy claimed.
" We are far too weak right now. I wouldn't be afraid of getting in a fight with that monster, but it wouldn't be a good decision regardless." Xiao said.
" I agree with you, Xiao. The Tsaritsa has always been merciless and dictatorial. I suggested that we should look for support and made out a plan before anything else." Zhongli said.
Xiao sighed." How are we going to look for any support in this place? This place is riddled with rude and unforgiving people. They are unexpected, and how are we supposed to trust a bunch of humans?"
Zhongli shook his head. " Xiao, humans are just like us. Though they are fragile and small compared to gods, they are very diligent. They know that they are weak that why they work hard and contributed so much. People like them have a lot of qualities and emotions that are far more complicated than ours."
" But in the end, there are still kind and generous people who will help us. Like those nurses. As we are in a weaker position than The Tsaritsa, we think it would be a good idea to learn from these humans."
Ganyu and Xiao looked at Zhongli. " I'm still not sure about this, Zhongli-daren. I mean, would the humans trust us? If we do tell them?" Ganyu asked.
"We just have to find a way then," Zhongli answered.
Xiao sighed. " I think you do have a point, my lord. Then we shall follow your idea."
" Do not worry. We will find a way. I will make sure of that." Zhongli assured them.
A knock on the door alerted them. The nurse from earlier walked in, a hand is holding a paper clipboard. " Mr. Zhongli, I have got the messages that you are now able to discharge from the hospital. We also recommended you to get health insurance, as well as your friends. I hope your good health."
" Ahh, thank you... Ms...?"
"My name is Rosaria. I'll be taking my leave now, thank you." The nurse said.
"Yes, I gave you my gratitude for all that you've done. "
" You don't need to thanks me. Thank the guy who paid for your cost here. Anyway, bye." The nurse turned to her back and left the room.
"The man? Is that the person we bumped into earlier?" Zhongli turned to Xiao and Ganyu.
" Ah yes, he helped us get you here by his vehicle," Ganyu replied.
" He is still off-putting, though. I don't trust him." Xiao said.
" Something about him infuriated me." Xiao continued." Anyway, let's go. The nurse said that you can leave now, right, Zhongli-daren?"
"But where can we go? We don't know anyone from this world? " Ganyu said in a soft tone.
" Maybe we could go back to that alleyway to find some clues on how we get here first," Zhongli said.
Ganyu continued. " Where will we stay then?" Zhongli sighed at that.
" We will have to find someplace to stay, and we can ask some humans to help us."
Xiao is already at the door. " Are you two coming?"
Ganyu nodded and helped Zhongli get up. " Let's go then," Ganyu said.
The street is filled with people. Crowds gather at the buskers, giving money and praises. The ambiance of vehicles and pedestrians created a busy and moving non-stop atmosphere.
Ganyu can sense all of the smell from the taste of the loaves of bread that are fresh from the oven that is coming from the bakeries downtown to the awful smell of smoke and waste lingering lightly almost everywhere. These humans are so dirty! How can they live in such a horrible environment?
From here, Ganyu can see all of the tallest towers that she has ever seen in her life. Those sky towers could definitely rival against the thousand of ages trees in Teyvat, similar to those that grow in the forest where Ganyu lived.
Occasionally, Ganyu could hear sounds of something emanating from the sky. There are flying creatures with wings like pinwheels dashing through the sky. The nature of this world is truly fascinating.
"Are you sure that this is the correct way?" Ganyu asked Xiao. They have been walking for a while. This world direction sure is confusing, combining with the large crowd of people. It is hard to get around.
Back in Teyvat, people would use the sun, moon, and stars to take directions. The northern star always shines the brightest in the sky, and even in daylight, you could see the imprint of the clouds. It helps so that people won't get lost in the forest and the wild.
But here, no matter how much Ganyu tries to squint, she can't see even a single difference in the sky. The sky in this world is like a blank paper scroll. With the towers blocking her views is harder to look at the clouds. How can people get around in this world?
"Yes, I am sure. I memorized the directions of the road when we left with that guy." Xiao replied.
" The roads are truly busy at this hours. It will be harder to identify the correct directions." Zhongli said. Adding to the agreement that this place is like a confusing maze.
Ganyu looked around. This place is quite similar to where they have been before. Living in a forest gave her a good sense of direction, though her memory might not be as good as Zhongli or Xiao, she could remember important details that make a place stand out.
"Huh." Ganyu made a noise. "Did you say something?" Xiao asked.
" Look at that." Ganyu ignored Xiao's question and pointed upward to a sign. Ganyu couldn't make out the words of the sign, but there is a familiar picture of two angels drinking from one cup of coffee.
It must be the place that they landed in when they fell down that portal. Ganyu has a slight memory of smell around this part. It oozes with heavily roasted coffee beans smell that made it easy to recognize.
"I remember this scent. It comes from this coffee store! It must be the one." Ganyu claimed.
"Hmm...I think you're right. I recognized this smell as well." Zhongli said. " There must such a place where we landed at here."
"I don't think there is any doorway besides that backdoor," Xiao said as he stepped into the alleyway and took a good look at the surroundings. "There must be away. Unless..." At that, Xiao looks down at a circle of an iron plate on the ground.
"Do you think we come through this passageway?" Ganyu said. Xiao pulled open the lid, revealing a deep black hole underground. " It could very well be how we get up here. Ugh..., this reeks smell of rats."
"I see, this passage must somehow be connected to the pipe system of the Zapolyarny Palace. It is connected to the fountain drain. There must be some magical wormhole that sucked our body into this world." Zhongli said.
"Hey! " The trio looked up. Only to be greeted by an irritated person. Who dressed similarly to the first person they met when they got here.
"What are you three doing? Opening up the sewer cover?!" The person yelled at them. Ganyu shrieked at the person's loud voice.
"Ah...we are terribly sorry for intruding. We are simply investigating something." Zhongli politely replied.
"Investigating? There no investigation going around these parts, if so, I would know! I work here! Can you guys please leave if you don't want to buy anything? and quit bothering our staff."
"No but, leave!" The person pointed his finger outside as if to demand them to go.
"We are sorry for causing such a ruckus for you. We will be leaving now." Zhongli bows his head to apologize. "Zhongli-daren!" Xiao retorted in his effort.
"Let's go, Xiao. We shouldn't make any more enemies than we already have." At that, Xiao glare deathly into the eyes of the staff person. And then they took their leave.
The sky is getting darker and darker. The temperature is dropping from the time that they left the hospital. The streets were bustling before, but now there are way more vehicles than it was in the noon. It seems that many people are going to different places simultaneously, making the traffic a lot more crowded than before.
"What should we do now?" Ganyu asked worryingly. Her head drooped down on the sidewalk made of concrete.
Zhongli pondered for a bit before he said. " Maybe it's time for us to find some support and a place to stay first."
"I'm not sure these people are going to let us sleep in their home that easily." Xiao retorted. Ganyu agreed with him. The people here seem to be a lot more uptight than the people in Teyvat. Putting aside the point that no one here knows who they are.
Zhongli put his index finger and thumb on his chin and mused, suddenly his face light up. " We can go to the market. That is where most trades are done, yes? And it would be easier to find help in such a conventional place."
"That idea doesn't sound so bad! Zhongli-daren." Ganyu cheered up and said. " I remember seeing a big market when we were on the way to the hospital," It was true, Ganyu saw a lot of people gathered there, and there are people carrying things in and out of carriage look-alike.
That must be the market! Ganyu was hungry for the lack of food she ate when she was in Teyvat. Instantly she could smell the fresh smell of green crops and flowers emanating from that place.
"We should head there fast then. The sun is going down rather quickly." Zhongli said.
"I remembered the smell very distinctly. It mustn't be far from here."
Ganyu said before sniffed again. "It's must be somewhere over there," Ganyu said as she pointed her finger. Xiao and Zhongli both nodded and followed her.
The sound of water dripping and splashing. 'Those kids are having fun in there.' Childe thought before he put down the last toy on the floor in the toy box. Teucer was playing with Tonia and Anthon on the floor in the living room.
They were roleplaying something Childe couldn't remember, but they were very sad when Childe cut their playtime short upon announcing it's time to shower.
They have to move fast. Because tonight Childe wanted to take them to the mall, before dinner. First, they will go and buy whatever toys Childe owed them for getting to the airport late. Then after that, he will take them to a restaurant inside the mall, it is very fancy and served a lot of delicious foods. There is going to be a special show tonight. Diluc has been expecting this one.
Childe decided to impress them on how their big brother is very knowledgeable about the 'big city' cuisine. Considering how he barely eats in restaurants if it not for his business. He would just eat instant ramens or order take-out. He can cook, but he is too lazy too.
"Tonia! Teucer! Are you two done in there?" Childe called them outside of the bathroom.
"Not now, brother Ajax!" The voice of Tonia could be heard outside coming from the wooden bathroom door. "No! Teucer that my towel!"
Out of nowhere, Teucer jumped out of the shower, wet from head to toes. " Brother Ajax! Look! I have washed Mr. Cyclops clean! Can you dress him up too?" Teucer excitingly jumped.
"Don't jump! Teucer! Or you'll slip and fall." Childe warned him.
He couldn't understand why the toy was cleaner than his brother as he gave Mr. Cyclops to him. The toy was sparkling! And his brother is drenched!
Tonia popping out of the shower, carrying two dresses. " Teucer! Pick for me!" One dress was blue, and the other was yellow.
" I like the yellow one!" Teucer answered was muffled by the towel that Childe is currently trying to dry his brother with. "Stand still, Teucer, let me dry you first," Childe said. "Hehe, thank you, brother."
"Brother Ajax?" Anthon called him out on the chair he was sitting on. " Where are we going?" Anthon asked Childe.
Childe gave Teucer hair the last few scruffs until it dried. Then he turned to Anthon and said. " We're going to the mall!"
" I love the mall!" Teucer butt into the conversation.
"The mall?" Anthon tilted his head.
" Yes, didn't I tell you that I will buy you anything you want? To make up for my late arrival! And we're going to dine at the mall as well! "
'Hits two birds with one stone' that what Childe thought.
"Yay! I want to see the clown at the mall!" Teucer said.-"Pshh, Teucer! Clowns are creepy!" Tonia said behind the changing closet.
"No they're not. They're funny!" Teucer argued back.
"How do I look?" Tonia said while dashing out of the closet in her new dress. It has flowery patterns on the edge of the dress, and the bright colours really suited Tonia's personality.
"You look pretty! Sister Tonia! I want to look like that too!" Teucer answered.
Tonia quickly revealed behind her a yellow t-shirt. " If so! Wear this! Then we can match!"-"But this is not fancy, I want to look cool like you!" Teucer retorted.
"That all that I can find!" Tonia said.
" Now now, no catfight. Teucer, you should get dressed, or you will get a cold." Childe stopped their argument by butting in. "Besides, we can find fancy clothes for you at the mall."
"Ok, brother Ajax," Teucer said in a less exciting tone before he took the clothes from Tonia's hands.
After they all got changed and ready, Childe took them to the car.
" Have you worn your shoes, Anthon?" Childe asked, turning to the back seats facing Tonia, Teucer, and Anthon.
"I have," Anthon answered, pointing his legs upward to show Childe his shoes. Teucer giggled and asked Childe. " Brother Ajax! Sister Tonia said that she won't go to see the clowns with me."
"Of course I'm not! Clowns are creepy!" Tonia said.
" I hate to break it to you, Teucer, but I don't think there're going to clowns here at this hours. They only there on Sunday daily." Childe said.
"No clowns?" Teucer asked in a disappointed tone." I can bring you on Sunday to see them if you'd like." Childe offered.
Teucer face lit up. " Really? You're the best! Brother Ajax!." Then he seems to have gotten back his happy spirit. Childe gave him a bright smile at that. " Of course! What horrible brother I would be if I don't pay back for my siblings?"
The car was filled with laughter and chatters after that. The tension on Childe's shoulders seems to have weighed less. Childe was happy that his siblings are here with him for their whole summer.
Childe couldn't wait for all the things that they would do from now.
Heck, Childe missed all of them so much. Because of his job, he has to works far away in the big city, that he rarely gets to visit them back home.
The way to the mall was filled with bickering and talking. At some point, Tonia and Anthon were playing quizzes while Teucer would butt in their play by shoving Mr. Cyclops in between them.
The ride to the mall was not long. The complex he lived in isn't that far from the mall, and it was a pretty sweet spot. It only took a few turns then they have arrived at the mall.
When they finally got there, it was late afternoon. The sky was a dark blue hue and grey. The traffic was as busy as it was in the morning, but it seems to be less-tighten up.
"And then I said how did you get that duck?!" Teucer said. Tonia was giggling at Teucer's joke.
While Anthon just looked puzzled. " But where did he get the duck?"
"From his parents! His parents owned a farm!." Teucer said. Waving his hands around enthusiastically with Mr. Cyclops on it. He brought it with him to the mall.
"That's really cool!" Tonia said. " I wish I have one. I would raise all of the cute little ducklings on my farm!"
" We're here!" Childe said. Childe closed the car door as he stepped out to opened the backdoor. "Yay!!" The backseat muffled the cheers from the kids.
Teucer jumped out as soon as Childe opened the door. " Woah!"
Tonia went after him." Hey! Don't jump like that!"
Anthon followed behind them.
Childe took Tonia and Anthon's hands while Teucer ran ahead of them. "C'mon! Let's go in to pick your toys! "
"I want to go eat ice cream after dinner! Can't we go? brother Ajax?"
" Sure! I'll take you to the ice cream store after we eat. We can invite my friend as well! We can all go together!" Childe said.
An influx of 'yay!' coming toward him. Childe laughed with them as they walked together to the entrance.
Ganyu wasn't lying when she said there was a market here. Xiao can see crowds of people in this place. At least it is a large, open place, so they won't get suffocated in here. The heavy air made Xiao tensed. This place is surrounded by some sort of air that is not natural at all. It felt artificial, it sometimes felt too cold, sometimes felt too hot. As if there a temperature-changer in this place.
The floor tiles are way too slippery and smooth. It can even be compared to those at the adepti temple that was made of marble. There is a giant chandelier attached on top of the ceiling. Stores and sections are cut clean, and there are windows of glass displaying products on sale.
There are conveyor belts for people to go up and down areas of the so-called 'market'. Xiao failed to believe that this is a market. How can a place sell things such as pig flesh and weeds be so....extravagant?
But in the end, the place does look promising for buying and selling purposes. Xiao wondered if they could really find a person to help them out in here. The people here don't seem to mind their outfits as much as those outsides. Some people they bumped into even asked to take pictures with them, which Xiao refused to. Some asked them if they were someone else, which they are not. Are these normal humans behaviors? Xiao can't tell.
Zhongli and Ganyu don't seem to have minded. Maybe it was normal.
"Hm..., I think we should split to find someone to help us. It would be easier and faster that way, isn't it?" Ganyu said.
"Hmm... You have a point, Ganyu. I think we should split up as well, this place is much larger than I have predicted. Maybe by doing that we will be able to cover more areas?" Zhongli responded.
"Alright, then I'll go up there first." Xiao volunteered, pointing upward to a different floor.
"Zhongli-daren, I will go....um..check some places out. Meet you two back here." Ganyu said quickly before she walked away.
"Oh..." That left Zhongli.
'I supposed I should start searching as well.' Looking around, Zhongli decided to step into an interesting-looking store. It has a book symbol on its name. A book store, then? Or a library.
Right as Zhongli entered the store. He was greeted with the sight of books stacked neatly in line on shelves. There are small chairs for people to sit and read. There are small stacks of boxes in the corner.
Different pictures of animals and flowers are hanging on the wall.
The lady at the counter seems to have noticed Zhongli staring. She made a quick glance over to the man who kept eyeing the comedy sections, or is he staring at the philosophy one?
Concern. The woman stepped out of her booth and went towards him. " Sir? Are you looking for something?" She asked gently.
Zhongli noticed the woman. " Ahh...yes..., This must be a book store, is it not? " The woman face puzzled.
"...Yes sir, this is..a book store. As you can see, many books are displaying here." The woman coughed awkwardly. "How can I help you, sir?"
" Ahh, yes...I would like to find some knowledgeable scholars on the matter of world transportation. There must be some study here." Zhongli answered.
"You meant like sci-fi? We have a lot of sci-fi novels or fiction. Mayhaps, you are looking for a science book about blackholes of some sort. We have those too." The woman said.
"Psyche-fight?" This is new.
Even though Zhongli could understand the languages these humans are speaking. But there are so many different words and slangs being used in this world that Zhongli never heard of before. Truly fascinating.
"Yes, science fiction"-" I could recommend you some good books, please follow me." Zhongli followed the woman to an area with different colours of walls. The painting work done on the wall is a bit immature. The texture and composition are a bit off for such a work of craft. The artist much not have paid much effort.
The decorations are different here as well. The walls are painted blue, and there are stars and moon drawn on it. Children are bickering around on tables and chairs holding pictured books. These chairs are quite small for adults. Figurines displayed on tables and maps are hanging on the wall next to the bookshelves.
The woman stopped at a shelf and put her hand on the cover of some books." This book was written by a famous author. I would highly recommend this book to researchers. There is also this one published recently..., "
"Is this what you are looking for, sir?" The woman finished her speak then turned to Zhongli.
"Ahh yes...Can I take a look at some of the books?" Zhongli said.
"Of course, the sitting area is right there. If you need anything just ask me." The woman said before she headed back to her respective place at the booth.
Zhongli picked up one of the books. Zhongli couldn't make out the words that were written on the cover. Zhongli felt embarrassed that he didn't think about how he couldn't read the languages of this world.
Glancing around, nobody seems to pay him any attention. There were mostly children in this area. Surely, they won't find it weird that he can't read. Suddenly he heard a voice calling to him.
The voice was small and timid. Then, he felt a tugging on his sleeves and glanced down. It was a child. A child was calling him.
"Mister. Can you help me reach that book?" The child pointed to a book on the shelf, that was way higher than his reach. Zhongli glanced at the book and took it off the shelf, and handed it to him.
"Is it this one?" Zhongli asked.
"Yes. Thank you, mister." The child reached his hand out to take the book from Zhongli. The child took a good look at the book. He seems to be hesitant about opening it.
"What the matter? Young one?" Zhongli asked
"It just that, my friend thinks this book is childish. And he said that I would be weird if I read more of books like this."
At that, Zhongli's face puzzled." I do not see why your friend's opinion affects whether or not you should read a book? Books are very efficient for learning new things."
"Well, I don't want him to think I'm weird. What if he doesn't want to play with me anymore? I don't want to lose a friend over a silly book."
Zhongli looked at the child. This is one of the moments where humans comfort each other. Zhongli personally never understand why humans valued other's acceptance so much. But in this child situation, he figured he should bring a few words of experience to help.
"Your friend would do no such thing. If he were a good friend, he should encourage your interests. Friends should complement each other, not bringing each other down. I think you reading the book shouldn't be a problem. Moreover, youths should be encouraged to read."
The child looked at Zhongli then glanced down at the book in his hand. "Thank you, mister. I'll say that to my friend. "
"How about you, mister? You helped me get the book. So are you, my friend, too?" He asked.
"Hmmm...I supposed you can see me as a friend, young one," Zhongli replied. This is but a sweet child, and Zhongli wouldn't be heartless enough to deny such an innocent offer.
"Really? You want to be my friend?" The child repeated excitedly. Then he turned his face to Zhongli and continued. "Woah! I have never had an adult friend before. My siblings would be so jealous."
Then the child looked down at his book. "I really like this book series."
Zhongli tilted his head. " I see. What is it about then?"
The child's face seems to lit up at the question. "Oh! There is a lot of cool things about this book! I like the characters a lot! It's about people! No, wait....., These people are actually aliens, and they fight evils!" The child said.
Zhongli's interest quirked up at that. " What are aliens?" Zhongli has always been a studious soul, and learning the terms and rules of this world may help them a lot more on their journey as well.
"You don't know aliens? Aliens are really cool! Come, Let's me tell you what aliens are." The child excitedly grabbed Zhongli's hand then guided him to a table. Zhongli followed behind the child, dumfounded.
Ganyu's stomach was growling. She hasn't eaten much before leaving to meet with The Tsaritsa. And now stranded here, Ganyu can't help but hold the hunger in, for she doesn't want to bother Xiao or Zhongli.
Qilins are not picky-eaters perse. They only eat whole grains and drink spring water for surviving. But Ganyu has been carving some qingxin lately. It is an essential part of her diet to eat flower petals.
It was when the smell of fresh grass and linger of the smell of sweet flowers reached her nose that her hunger started to act up again. As a child, Ganyu has a habit of eating non-stop. If there is food, then she will devour it immediately.
But she has grown since then. She is no longer a young and impressionable adeptus. She can control her need for binging food. 'She is not hungry.' That what Ganyu told herself to assure her stomach.
But her mouth watered at the sight of flowers being carried into the market. She resisted it then. But now standing inside of the place, the smell is almost unbearable. Her stomach threatened to growl again.
She can sense the smell close. There must be qingxin somewhere in this market. Ganyu questioned whether or not she could buy them. She did bring some mora with her when they got to the Zapolyarny Palace. But the currency in this world could be different from Teyvat.
"Hm..., I think we should split to find someone to help us. It would be easier and faster that way, isn't it?" Ganyu said.
"Hmm... You have a point, Ganyu. I think we should split up as well, this place is much larger than I have predicted. Maybe by doing that we will be able to cover more areas?" Zhongli responded.
"Alright, then I'll go up there first." Then Xiao was gone. Ganyu turned to face Zhongli.
"Zhongli-daren, I will go....um..check some places out. Meet you two back here."
Ganyu had never felt so guilty in her entire life. How could she leave Rex Lapis alone in a marketplace? She knew that Zhongli isn't the best with his money. Ganyu should've stayed there and helped with the search.
But it was simply too embarrassing to admit that she was hungry. And so Ganyu went on her own path of finding food. Ganyu will be fast. After all, the smell isn't that too far away.
Abandoning her responsibility like this felt wrong. But her thought was cut short when the sweet smell appeared once again. She saw it. After a tad bit of walking and sniffing. She found it.
It was a florist shop.
Ganyu's eyes sparkle with happiness. There is it. There countless flowers displayed in front of the store, they were beautiful, yet their smell is a bit iffy. Ganyu can tell that these flowers have been sitting here all week.
The fresh sweet smell didn't come from here. It came from inside the store itself. The sound of the doorbell rang as she stepped through the door. So Ganyu braced herself and walked into the store. Surprisingly there was nobody there at the moment. 'Huh.' a sound came from Ganyu's mouth.
Ganyu turned her head for the smell. And sat there at the counter was a bucket full of fresh qingxin. The earthy and rainy smell made Ganyu feel like it was just plucked from the highest peak of a mountain. Her stomach growled some more.
Hunger took a tole over her, and in a second, she was next to the bucket. Picking up a branch of qingxin and took a bite out of it. It was so sweet and watery. It felt like reuniting with the family Ganyu didn't know she had. The warm feeling swelt up in her chest. Her heart was soaring a love song.
Her mood was instantly ruined when the doorbell rang the second time. Ganyu flinched and turned around to find a woman in a suit standing facing her.
The woman was very pretty. Her eyes are a pinkish purple. Her hair is a violet colour and tied into pigtails with buns. Her aura seems to be very serious. Her hand was holding something tightly. And on top of all that, she was staring straight into the eyes of Ganyu.
Ganyu panicked when she realized that she had been staring at her as well. She didn't want to be perceived as a thief. So she swallowed the petals that she ate, then she quickly and aggressively stabbed the qingxin flower back into the water bucket. Then Ganyu shook her hand furiously and bowed to the woman in panic.
"I-I didn't mean to take the flower without permission!!" Ganyu loudly said. " I-I promised I wasn't stealing the flowers!! "
The woman's face bemused as she stepped back, shocked, and when she opened her mouth to speak.
"Ste-Stealing?!" The woman stuttered.
"No, I promised!" Ganyu retorted quickly. " He-Here!! Let me pay you for the flower!" Ganyu then quickly glanced at her pouch hanging low on her hip. After a bit of digging, she took out some moras on her hand and said to the woman.
" Can I paid with this?!" Ganyu's voice was shivering throughout the entire sentence.
The doorbell ring the third time, and then a person came into their view. " Huh? Who are you guys? You know, you can't just bust in here without anybody working." The man said.
He was wearing a cap that has the florist store logo on it. He must be the one working here.
"Um...I...uh." The pretty woman dragged out.
The person made a quick move into the room and noticed the qingxin flowers in the bucket immediately. He stared at the water drops on the floor near the bucket, and the poorly plucked flowers that looked like it have been stabbed by the qingxin branch that was pulled off. There are some flower petals dropped on the counter as well.
"Did you guys did this to the flowers?" The man asked them, pointing at the mess.
"The mess..., I-I." The woman was speechless.
"No! It-it wasn't her! It was...it was me. I did that. But! I-I wasn't trying to sabotage anything! I was just panicked! And my hand slipped!" Ganyu refuted.
The man seems to believe Ganyu's rebuttal." Well, then you have to pay for the cost of the flowers. These qingxins were just transported this afternoon. We were just going to leave it to rest overnight in the water. It was for a special guest too. It is going to cost a lot to pay for it, especially for the other customer too."
Ganyu gripped tight on her sleeves. "Oh...um." She took out all the moras that she has. " Would this be enough?"
The man looked at the palm of her hand filled with golden coin. He turned to face her and said. "Miss, I don't think we use coins anymore. And this doesn't seem familiar to me here. We take cash or credit cards."
"Ahh...I see. I don't think I have enough money then..." Ganyu doesn't know what 'cash' or 'credit card' is. Her hand crumpled together, wrapping tightly around the moras. There must be some way she can help. They are already in trouble, and now she can't get them into debt as well!
The woman seems to have regained her composure after spacing out a little. The woman coughed and interrupted their trading.
"Ahem. I don't think the Tianquan would mind the small petals falling off. After all, her attention would be much more focused on the ceremony. I am here to take her order." The woman said with sudden confidence.
"Oh? You know the Tianquan?" The man asked.
The woman smirked and answered." Of course. For I am the Yuheng of the Qixing corporation, and miss Tianquan equal. I only let her order me around because, without me, nothing will get done in time. I am here to pick up the flowers."
Ganyu turned pale at that. The customer who ordered the qingxins was the same person that caught her eating their order. How ironic.
"Ahh, then you won't mind taking these flowers now, then?" The man asked.
"Yes, give me the flowers. I am busy, so be quick. And don't worry. The money will be transitioned to you soon, full payment, of course. But the next time we know that you have taken our order so carelessly by leaving the store like that, we will decrease our deal." The woman glared at the man, threatened him to do his job better. She continued." Got it?" Turning to the man.
The man gulped and smiled. " Of course! Of course! We will keep that in mind. Miss..."
"Call me Keqing for future businesses," Keqing said, glancing at her phone then tucking it away with a huff.
"Yes, Miss Keqing. I'll be wrapping the flowers now." The man slowly turned to take the qingxins bucket, then went inside where Ganyu couldn't see him.
Ganyu couldn't even face the pretty woman. She shyly glancing down at the ground. " I'm sorry" Was all that she could come up with before looking away again shamefully.
Keqing sighed. Then she looked at her. " You have owed me a great debt."
"Yes..." Ganyu said in a timid voice.
The man stepped out, in hand a bouquet of qingxins wrapped up. Some looked a bit bend by Ganyu force earlier. "Here are your flowers, Miss Keqing."
"Thank you," Keqing said as she took the large bouquet and waved goodbye to the man. " And you followed me."
Ganyu knew she was talking about her, so she obediently followed Keqing outside, despite the glare that she received from the man behind the counter.
At the hall of the market, Keqing turned to her and said." You can leave now."
Ganyu's expression turned shocked at the other's words.
"Huh? But..., How will I repay you for the debt that I've made?" Ganyu asked.
"No need. I simply asked you to come with me because I know that idiot at the plant shop would demand you to clean up the mess. I do not tolerate someone who can leave their job unfinished then let a stranger interfered with the job." Keqing tsk. "Such unprofessional work ethic, unforgivable. If it were me, I would have packed the flowers as soon as they've arrived." Keqing glanced at Ganyu, then coughed, a slight bit of pink dust on her cheek.
"Ahem. As I was saying, you can go now. I do not fault you for anything. Even though I do wonder what you were doing with the qingxins." Keqing said.
Ganyu face lit up. 'So, she wasn't indebted, at least not in money term. But she definitely owed this woman a lot.' Ganyu thought. At Keqing's question, Ganyu's face turned red.
"Oh! oh...aha. I was overcome with hunger when I arrived here, so I thought to go and buy some qingxins to eat. But there wasn't anybody at the counter so, I couldn't resist it at the moment."
Keqing turned to her, confusion showed on her facial expression.
"Eat?" Keqing asked hesitantly. As if she wasn't sure that what Ganyu had just said.-"Yes, I usually just go for some grass, but qingxins are my favorite." Ganyu replied.
"You eat grass?" Keqing asked.
Ganyu nodded. " It is an important part of my diet, yes."
Keqing just shook her head and said. " Ahem. Anyway. Next time don't be so juvenile. Walking into an empty shop, if anything happened, they'll blame you on it."
At that Ganyu's stomach growled again.
Keqing stopped to stared at her. Ganyu's face has never turn redder than now. Embarrassed, Ganyu tried to save face by explaining her predicament.
"Ah! Ah! Sorry. It's just that I haven't eaten since I left home and-
Keqing interrupted her speech by plucking out a large branch of qingxins and held it in front of her face.
"Here. Take this."
"But-But. What about your ceremony thing?"
"Ningguang won't mind. She hasn't done anything yet. Such irresponsible don't deserve the right to complain. Here. It's yours." Keqing gave the qingxins to her. Ganyu's eyes shined with sparkles. Keqing face heated.
"It's not that I'm trying to-
"Thank you!" Ganyu took the qingxins and smiled happily at Keqing as she devoured the flowers whole.
Keqing eyes went wide. "Um.."
"You're the kindest human that I have ever met here," Ganyu said between chewing.
Something 'doink!' in her pant pocket. Keqing took out a flat brick?
She grunted and turned to Ganyu, and said.
"You know, I gotta go..." Keqing said suddenly as she slowly walked away. Ganyu was chewing her flowers, so she couldn't open her mouth to say 'goodbye'. But then Ganyu swallowed quickly, and before Keqing could leave, Ganyu called out for her.
"Oh right! My name is Ganyu! Remember me so that I can repay your debt!" Ganyu loudly said.
"Ahaha.., yea..., bye." Keqing, who has already turned her back on Ganyu and walked away faster than she ever before.
'I left a bad impression on her.' Ganyu regretted her action as she kept eating.
But then, Ganyu smiled. Knowing that there are so many kind people in this world gave her hope, for finding a human that can help her and her friends.
Oh right! She should go and find them now. Ganyu hoped that Zhongli and Xiao have also met kind and wonderful people like Ganyu has. Ganyu will definitely remember the debt she owed to the pretty woman.
Xiao was jammed in the crowds. He was being squished by multiple human bodies. Why did people all step on the conveyor belt thingy at the same time? How are these humans so dumb? He tried to wiggled his way out of the crowds once he reached the next floor.
'Huff huff.' Xiao breathed out. People were swarming behind him as he walked out of their way. Xiao took a moment to recompose himself. He swore on his name that he would never be so close to a human like that ever again.
That is something too intimate for him. He'd rather jump down from here to the ground floor than take another trip through that conveyor belt. There no way Xiao is going close to another human for the next decade to come. Lifetime even.
Xiao flicked the air off his shoulder with his hand. He continued on his search around the new area. He looked around, shops and stores, and stands, among the range of the hall. Humans in this world seem pretty quiet compared to the loud and noisy merchants in their world.
And so Xiao started to walk. He tried to seek help from any human he could find. By 'find' he meant standing alone conveniently in the hall. He doesn't know how to talk to a human. But for his lord, he will try.
Xiao saw a lady standing looking into a window of store. Xiao took a deep breath and started to approach her.
She doesn't seem to notice him coming. Maybe it just his habit of silent navigating when approaching enemies. But when she turned around he was right at her face.
She shouted. "AGH!" Her purse landed on the side, and Xiao dodged it. But when he looked up, the woman has walked away quicker than he thought. Why do humans always so afraid of him?
Xiao sighed, decided to look for the next human.
He saw a little girl eating a cold treat. Xiao believed humans called it a snow cone, it is minced ice with sweet colourful syrups on top of it. Xiao learned from Ganyu that humans are very chatty creatures. If you talk a lot, then humans will think you are friendly.
Xiao came up to the girl. He held his head low to face the little girl.
" Hello there. I like eating snow too." He tried his best to blurted out the best thing he can come up with.
"Hello." The little girl waved her hand at his face. He doesn't know what to say next. What do humans speak about? The weather?
"The weather is nice today, yes?"- "Yes. Weather nice."
Xiao stared at the girl. The little one looked up at him in curious wonder. Ugh! Why are humans so complicated? What does she want?
Xiao coughed. " Ahem. I am looking for help." He said grunty, unsure as it came out of his mouth. That what he came here for, right? The girl didn't say anything. She just continued to look at him in silence.
"Honey, who are you talking to?" Oh archon, there is another human here. Xiao thought. This must be the child's father.
"Dada! Dada! This man is asking me to help!" The dad glared at Xiao.
" Sorry, mister, I don't think I'll allow my kid to go out anywhere with a stranger. C'mon, it's time to go. Dada will buy you another snow cone on the way."-"Yay!" The man quickly took his kid's hand and walked away without glancing at Xiao.
Xiao is starting to lose hope in finding a person to help them.
Xiao tried to talk to a person wearing a uniform and a cap.
" Uhh...Help? Man, I don't think I can help you. Look at me! I'm working this nine-to-five job. Sorry dude, I gotta go and delivered this." The person in the cap said.
Xiao tried to talk to a salesman.
" Hey! If you're not going to buy anything, then please leave. We don't want you to keep bothering our customers."
Xiao was running out of choices. He huffed out a breath. As he walked toward the water fountain. Looking at it only gives Xiao flashbacks.
He kneeled down and took a good lump of water into the palms of his hands, and splash it onto his face.
The humans walked by the side looked at him weirdly, but he doesn't care what these humans think about him anymore. He just focused on washing his face. He closed his eyes and opened them again. He drowned in the water almost as much as he drowned in his failure.
He decided to rest for a bit. He looked around the area to the people walking and chatting. And he let himself indulged in his thoughts for a bit.
Humans are going together in groups of 3 to 10. There are human people walking in pairs, and humans carried their babies in strollers. Witnessed that, Xiao realized he was the only person aloof in the market.
It wasn't like that back in Teyvat. The market would usually fill with adventurers and travelers from all over the nation. They only went there alone for commission and trading weapons and treasures. Warriors and heroes would usually live a hermit life up in the mountains or forest. Celibate and isolated from the world.
The people in this world are always together somehow. Everywhere Xiao goes, he will see another human. There is no peace and quiet in this place. He wondered how can humans not get tired of seeing each other faces all the time.
But then again, he would not say the same thing for some people that he knows. Xiao will never get tired of seeing his lord's face or Ganyu's face. Xiao doesn't interact with people a lot, but he can tell apart from who heart is true. And who is false. That why Xiao only keeps a few people in his life.
His lord's heart is the most benevolent.
When he was enslaved and used as a weapon to his former god, Rex Lapis, the same god of contract has broken the contract between him and the evil god. He freed Xiao from his chains. Xiao made the first oath to his lord, to protect the people of their nation and defeat all evils that threatened to succumb to the land.
Ganyu's heart is the most forgiving and kind.
She was the daughter of his superior yaksha. Ganyu has the most intelligent mind he has ever seen. Ganyu's peacemaker personality didn't come from the fact that she's a qilin, Ganyu has witnessed wars and deaths before, and no matter what, Ganyu has never wished for bloodshed or revenge. She follows the path of Rex Lapis to ensure peace for mankind.
Xiao made his second oath to her and his lord. To protect Ganyu and Zhongli with his life and fight with them until his last breath. To never leave their side and stand by them in the worse of battle.
He has also made an oath to another god that was not Rex Lapis. The person who has granted him the power of anemo, the god of freedom himself, Barbatos. The oath gave him the control ability of the wind. It made him more efficient as a warrior.
The god has always looked after him. The memories of the sound of the lyre rang in his ears as he sat on top of a tree in Mt. Tianheng. It made all the worry in Xiao's head disappear, and just for a moment, he can just sit there listening to the calm music.
It must have been a long time ago, Barbatos disappeared from Teyvat forever. Xiao has never seen him again. It was said that The Tsaritsa has taken the gnosis from the god and banished him off his own land. Xiao remembered very clearly. Those nights on the terrace, Xiao held his flute to sing a song for the fallen god. He would memorize the same song that the anemo god would usually play on his lyre to him.
But no matter how much he tried. He could never replicate his melodic sing-song voice. The thought made him felt an ache in his heart. Throughout years and years, he wonders if he could still remember the god's face.
The round and cheeky grin he would usually wear on his face. The glowing teal eyes that he once has. The dark blue hair with braided enveloped his side. He can almost imagine his images.
It's so vivid. It feels real.
It feels like he is seeing him again. Is this what humans called daydreaming? Right, he was daydreaming. It is simply because he is tired from walking, and maybe he should sit down for a bit. He was talking to himself for a while now. Because there is no way that could possibly explained how on the archon name he is looking at a human that looked exactly like Barbatos.
Xiao stopped in his track of thought. His body froze up at the sight. The person who is sitting on the bench on the other side of the ring of the fountain looked exactly like Barbatos. It couldn't be him...Barbatos disappeared a long time ago. There is no way that fraud sitting over there is him.
Could it be a coincidence? He thought as he looked up from the position he was kneeling. The person stood up and on their hand was a ukulele with blue and green flower patterns imprinted on the wood surface. The person turned their face to the side.
And at that moment, Xiao's heart exploded into millions of pieces.
That face...No....Those eyes and his presence......Xiao could feel the anemo energy strongly on this human. It couldn't be anybody else. He couldn't be hallucinating this feeling. This swarming in his chest as he looked upon them. The person walked away before he can even mumble a word.
It's really is him.
Xiao stood up, stunted from the realization. The god who he has mourned and commemorated. Is still living and kicking around. Xiao refused to believe it. Where has he been all these past years? How could he be so cruel to say nothing before disappearing?
Has he felt the pain Xiao felt? As of their oath? Or has he completely forgotten his responsibility by giving up the gnosis to The Tsaritsa?
A tapped on his shoulder awaked him from his thought.
"Hey, kid." A man was calling out to him.
Xiao pushed down his feelings and turned to the man. "I'm not a kid." He said bluntly.
"Yeah, sure, kiddo. Compared to me, you are. I'm the mall cop. People are telling me that a weird costume-wearing kid was bothering them on their shopping trip. I need to take you to the waiting room to wait for someone to get you, kiddo, or else we can't just let you wandering around and bothering our guest like this." The man explained, grabbing Xiao on the arm proper.
Xiao reacted unexpectedly upon his fighting instinct. He took out his spear and pointed it right at the man." DON'T YOU TOUCH ME." The man reached for the stick hanging on his belt.
"Woah Woah, calm down, kiddo!" Xiao grunted. The people around were staring at the scene he was causing. Xiao's shoulders dropped, and he put his spear back to its place.
He has already caused enough trouble for his lord. He shouldn't continue to retaliate against the humans. And so his demeanor dropped. "Fine, just don't touch me. "
"Alright, kid." Xiao listened to the man and let him guided the way.
10:07 AM 2/6/2029
Venti: HEY! I'm playing at Angel Share this Sunday. Are you comin'? :)
Yeah, my siblings will come to visit. I will bring them there. You will like them a lot. Especially Tonia. : You
Venti: Yeah, yeah. You have been talking about it all week now. I know. You big soft family man. Just remember to go to my show. Ok? :P
06:30 PM 4/6/2029
Venti: Ne ne. Remember that bracelet I left at your house. Did you find it? I want it back.
Yea, it was under the couch when you were asleep. I'll bring it to you. I'm on my way to the office. And tell that bitch Signora to stop borrowing my stuff. I lost my USB, and I:you can't find it anywhere.
Venti: No can do, man. She scary as fuck, and she's my manager! Remember that time she kicked me in the gut because I was late for the audition?
09:45 PM 5/6/2029
Venti: I head Scaramouche and Dottore invited you to go drinking with them? Did you say yes?
Venti: Last time, Scaramouche hasn't forgiven for that stunt you pulled on him at the meeting last month. Be careful. Or I'll see you tomorrow with a new tattoo on your face.
Venti: Hello? Childe?
03:26 AM 5/6/2029
Venti: Why did Diluc just text me in the middle of the night that you crashed a table at his place?
03:30 AM 5/6/2029
Venti: Holy shiet! [attached picture]
08:23 PM 6/6/2029
Venti: Are you here yet? I don't see you anywhere. It's about time for my performance now.
I'm here, got my whole siblings squad with me tonight.: You
Childe groaned as he looked at his phone. Did he actually do all of that? Childe wondered as he stared deeply into the photo. Scaramouche didn't come to the office today, probably too hungover, so he just took a day off.
Childe didn't have enough energy to deal with that chihuahua of a human anyway. He glanced up at Tonia and Teucer on the arcade machine. They are fighting over something.
When they first got here, Anthon said he didn't want to go with them to the arcade because he scares of dark places, so in the end, they left Anthon at the Favonius bookstore. Childe knows that place is full of people watching their children anyway. Anthon should be safe with the staff there.
It's almost time for the show now. Maybe he shouldn't let Venti waiting long. He should go and get Anthon, and then they can go get their table ready.
Glancing down at the small tugs of his pant. Childe was holding two cups of sodas and a bag of fruit candies. "Yea? Tonia?"
"Brother Ajax! Brother Ajax! Teucer cheated! He used Mr. Cyclops to hold down the buttons on the machine!" Tonia whined and pointed her finger at Teucer, happily hugging a ton of game tickets from the arcade machines.
"Look! With these tickets, we can go and buy Mr. Cyclops a tiny hat!" Teucer said cheerfully. "So that he'd look nice for dinner!"
"Mr. Cyclops would look nice with them. " Childe commented. A smile appeared on his face as he patted his brother's head. Childe stood up from his seat and stretched.
"Let's go spend the tickets then. After that, let's go get brother Anthon then we can go eat dinner. Are you two hungry?"
Tonia looked up at him. " I am a bit tired from playing."
"Well! C'mon, sister Tonia! Let's go spend these tickets, I'll share mine with you." Teucer offered.
"Really?"-"Yea!" Tonia face lit up, and she nodded and ran with Teucer to the trade tickets stand.
"I want that!" Teucer pointed at the mini-hat hanging on the wall with various other things. The shopkeeper took down the thing and gave it to Teucer. " Here you go, little guy."
"Yay! Sister Tonia, It's your turn." Tonia took a good look at the stand and yelled out."That!" While pointing at a fake golden-paint crown.
Shopkeeper face turned." Sorry but that thing costs more than the number of tickets that you have." Tonia's face drooped down.
"I'll pay for it." Childe stepped up and said to the shopkeeper.
"Oh, sorry, sir, but we don't sell things with cash here. "
Childe slammed a stack of money up on the counter. The shopkeeper's eyes went wide. " Si-Sir, you making it difficult for me." The shopkeeper stuttered.
Childe smiled at the shopkeeper. His smile doesn't seem genuine, it feels like he is plotting to strangle someone with that face. His deathly glares break through the shopkeeper facade.
The shopkeeper looked down. His voice was shaking." Alr-Alright..., But just this one time..., I'll excuse it.."
Childe smiled cheerfully." That's generous of you, good sir." The shopkeeper handed the fake crown over to him.
Childe bent down. "A perfect crown for the best princess." He grinned and gave Tonia the fake crown. Tonia's face is an expression of surprise and happiness.
"Thank you, brother Ajax! I'll treasure it!"
"Look! Sister Tonia, now you are matching with Mr. Cyclops!" Teucer held the toy up to his face and wiggled it around, showing off its new hat.
"Ehe! Yea!" Tonia responded. " If so, then Mr. Cyclops should go with me to dinner instead of you." Tonia teased. Teucer gasped in shock.
"No! no! Mr. Cyclops is my best friend. He will go with me! Right? Mr. Cyclops?" Teucer looked at the toy as if it was a sentient being.
" See?! Mr. Cyclops wants to go with me!" Teucer argued.
Tonia laughed and waved off. " Alright, alright."
"Alright guys, let's go find brother Anthon. Shall we?" Childe said in high spirit, putting his arm on his hip. " He should be on the lower floor. Then we can go to dinner." Childe continued.
"Ok! Brother Ajax." Tonia said.
"Yea, I'm hungry, and Mr. Cyclops is hungry also." Teucer readjusted the hat on top of Mr. Cyclops' head.
They walked their way to the Favonius Bookstore. There were few guests still shopping in the mall. Except those who are probably gathering at Angel Share for the special show that Venti is putting on. As they were walking, there was an announcement on the speaker.
[ ATTENTION- There is a troublesome teenager, age around uh.....16-18. He has green hair and a tattoo of a..., bird?*coughed* He also has a cosplay spear, and a snappy attitude. If there are any family members or friends, please come and get him.-END]
'Huh, what a weird description.' Childe thought as they reached the entrance of the bookstore. Lisa mustn't be here tonight, she probably already at the restaurant with Jean by now. She always works on a tight schedule, so everything must be perfect on time. The same applied to her girlfriend. They're both workaholics, honestly.
When they stepped into the store, the cool air hit them. Childe started to look around for his little brother. Anthon said that he would be at the Sci-fi section.
Childe took a look at the signs stuck on the side of the shelves.
'Sci-Fi/ Fantasy-A-ZEL' This may be it.
"Brother Anthon!" Teucer called. There his little brother was, sitting on the small chair, on the table were a bunch of figurines and a book. There was an adult with him. Who is that?
"Hey! Brother Teucer, Sister Tonia, Brother Ajax!" Anthon waved to them excitedly. Anthon's mood seems to be better when they first got to the mall.
"Brother Anthon! Look! I got Mr. Cyclops a hat. And sister Tonia got that cool crown." Teucer said.
"Woah! That crown is really shiny. Is it real?" Anthon asked.
"Hm..., no it's made of plastic, actually," Tonia answered truthfully. Anthon responded." Awww, too bad, then."
Then Anthon lit up again. " Oh! Right! Guys! Lets me introduce you! I met this really cool man. He knows a bunch of things about rocks, and he's really cool, too."
The said man turned to them." Ahh..., This is your siblings you been talking about, yes? It is an honor to meet your family. My name is Zhongli." The man smiled.
And at that moment, Childe burst. Before his eyes was an angel that has fallen from heaven, halos and lights shine brightly. Was he even allowed to witness this phenomenon?!. If there was a good reason to die that would be admiring this masterpiece of a human.
Heck! Was he even a human?! His beauty couldn't be compared to those who walk this earth. He is ethereal. Like a god. The warm golden smile radiates rivals to the sun itself. His deep smooth buttery voice.
And his eyes, they are so pure. Like honey. The colours are so beautiful, and he couldn't look away from them. Childe was sure that it was glowing a bit too. He was mesmerized.
Childe didn't have time to notice more details like his skin or his nose before he shook himself out of this thought.
What was he doing?! Ogling this man?!
Childe coughed. He can feel the remnant of heat slowly leaving his cheeks as he opened his mouth and said. " Ah, you must have been watching over Anthon. He's my little brother, I must thank you for keeping his fun when I was gone."
"There is no need to thank me. Your brother is a wonderful child. I greatly admired his studious characteristic and wanting to know more. You have a very ambitious brother." The man said in his gentle tone.
The more that he looks at the man again. He realized. How didn't he notice the way he dressed.
The said man dress in an odd fashion. Now Childe hasn't always been the most in trend with styles and all. But he was pretty sure this man's outfit was not the new trendy thing.
What with today and hanfu? Why does Childe keep bumping into these people wearing them?? Is there a festival somewhere that he didn't know?
And the man is wearing hair decorations and even earrings. This isn't a typical outfit to go shopping in.
"Thank you. Anthon has always been a great kid." Childe replied.
Anthon's face heated, and he continued his talk. " Oh! Brother Ajax! Can we bring him with us to dinner? He is my friend!"
"Oh...well I only ordered our own dishes. Since tonight reservations are thicker than usual." Childe said.
"But! Teucer can bring Mr. Cyclops! If Teucer can bring his friend, then why can't I?" Anthon pleaded.
"Anthon.." It wasn't that Childe didn't want to bring a total stranger to dinner but that it is simply impossible to fit him at their table. Tonight is really crowded.
"Ah, I do not want to intrude on your dinner as an outsider. I should leave then." The man said as he stood up and swift off the dust in his lap.
"No! Don't leave! Mr. Zhongli, if you leave, then I can never see you again." Then Anthon jumped and gripped tightly on the man's sleeves.
"Anthon! What do you mean 'never see him again'? I can drive you here if you want to meet him." Childe tried to removed Anthon from the man to no avail.
"No! Brother Ajax! You don't understand! Mr. Zhongli is homeless! What if he can't go back to see me anymore!" At that Childe frozed. The knowledgeable and well-spoken man, who dressed like he just got off from a golden theme fashion gala. Is homeless?
At that Childe looked up at the man. The said man hid his face from Childe's view and looked away without a single protest to his brother's statement. The presence of the man almost feels small somehow. Childe gulped.
"Anthon, please let go of me." The man said timidly.
"Brother Anthon, let's go of him! I will share Mr. Cyclops with you!." Teucer butted in.
"No! You promised to be my friend!" Anthon was crying now." Promises should be fulfilled, not broken!" The tears streamed off his small face fell onto his shirt staining the fabric. He clung tight onto the man sleeves, and tears are staining them as well.
The man's face faltered. As if he has no more strength to refuse or accept. His expression of complexity, of confusion. The man's face turned to remorseful.
Poor Anthon, he got his promises broken once today, and now he was having to break this one too. He felt stupid as a brother for letting this happened. Childe couldn't let his brother like this. Childe opened his mouth to interfere, but before he could.
Anthon pushed the man back, making him stumble on his feet. And headed his heels toward the door, and started to run away as fast as he could. It caught Childe by surprise, he didn't think that his brother would escape from the scene like that.
"Anthon!" That alerted the guests inside of the store. They started to look at him. Childe ignored their presence as he sprinted his way out to the door.
'Huff huff' He couldn't catch up, Anthon ran in front of him too soon. He looked desperately at the long hallway of the mall. His heart beating faster than ever. 'Anthon Anthon. Where are you?!?'
But then it flashed before Childe's eyes, a wisp of wind. All he saw was a long flash of brown and gold. His breath hitched, and he stopped breathing entirely when it crossed him. All that he sees at the moment he noticed it was golden eyes, its pupils moving in focus. It was a giant eye. That same melting golden honey colours. No...way.
It-it...It was the man. He-he was running so fast Childe couldn't even see him. Or rather he was flying?? Childe can't tell. Someone please slapped him, he was getting too many hallucinations to tell what was real and what was fake.
'Childe, think fast.'
Childe looked back at the store and came back to brought Teucer and Tonia with him. He's not leaving anyone behind again.
As he carried them in his arms, trying to search for Anthon. He saw it, Anthon was there crying, and he was walking off of construction where they haven't built the railway yet. 'No no no'
Childe wanted to yell out to him. The sight made him stood still. As the same man earlier flung by his side. His eyes went wide.
Anthon was about to fall, and the same man appeared almost out of thin air and caught him in his arms mid-air. At that very moment, it felt like time has stopped entirely for him.
The man jumped down to where Childe was standing. He was walking toward him. And in his arms was Anthon asleep peacefully. Anthon was smiling, he speculated.
'What on earth just happened?' Childe thought as he put down Tonia and Teucer.
Looking at the man now, he has a new form. He has horns! Golden horns adorned on top of his head. His eyes now shine brightly, and his pupil resembles that of a lizard. His hair has orange blood tips before. But now it has the addition of many golden hair shafts, and it was glowing as well?!? Just who is this man?!?
" Woah!! You have such pretty hair, Mister!!" Tonia complemented.
"But your eyes are a bit scary." Teucer said before Tonia smacked him." Hey! Don't say that to adults! That's rude!"
"But!" Teucer retorted.
Childe's attention never left the man. The brunette quirked up at him and coughed to recomposed himself. He steadied his voice before he said.
"I-I...I'm sorry for causing trouble for you and your family. I do not want to be a problem to you."
The man faltered. "But... I do need you to help me with something..."The man stopped to look away. His face a dusting pink.
Was he shy? After jumping off a railway on the second floor of the mall right in front of Childe?
The man gulped down and looked at Childe right in the eyes, and said. "My companions and I need help.." The man's courage grew strong. Then he grabbed Childe's right hand in the warm palms of his and look right into Childe's eyes.
"I want to make a contract with you."
"Yes, you give me and my companions a place to sleep. And when I finished my journey, I will grant you anything that you want." The mysterious man said. Childe could feel the man's palms squeeze tight his hand desperately.
Think about it, this man is definitely not normal. Everything about him is like from another world. And Childe is pretty sure that he is not human either. So what for him to say he normal or not.
As he said anything that Childe wanted, but he was sure he didn't want anything to do with the strange man. But...he did save Anthon,
and Anthon has grown fond of him.
Childe wanted his little brother to be happy.
Childe coughed, trying to recompose himself, and in his most neutral tone of voice, he offered the man. "Anything that I want you said."-"I would not hold you to that, but regardless, I will help you. How about I give you a place to stay for tonight?"
Childe looked at his asleep brother and continued. "Anthon probably doesn't want you to leave soon. And I want my brother to be with his friend."
The man's face lit up, and he said in the most cheerful tone that Childe has heard him." Thank you for your kindness. This favor I will not forget. I will fulfill this contract of our to the best of my abilities."
"Yeah..." Saying that, Childe realized his hand was still entangled with the man. So he quickly took his hand back and away from the man's hands.
"What did you say your name was again?" Childe asked. He couldn't remember what his brother has said. And if he was going to let someone live with him then he must at least know their name, right?
"I typically go by the name Zhongli."
At that, Childe's face stunned.
"Wait, your name is Zhon-
"YOU!" And there the familiar voice.
Ganyu was waving off the kind lady that has helped her escaped from the florist in the florist shop. Ganyu owed the lady a real big favor, she hoped to meet that lady again to repay her. Then she headed her way to go on the search for help.
Unfortunately, by the time she got out of the store, time seems to has passed by a lot. There were only a few people at the hall of the market. She barely spotted any normal guest besides those people who were already working their jobs.
'I wonder where did everybody go?' Ganyu thought to herself.
Luckily, Ganyu managed to find her way back to where they have appointed to meet again. Ganyu hoped they have better progress than her. After a few minutes, Xiao and Zhongli still haven't shown up. Ganyu started to worry.
[ ATTENTION- There is a troublesome teenager, age around uh.....16-18. He has green hair and a tattoo of a..., bird?*coughed* He also has a cosplay spear, and a snappy attitude. If there are any family members or friends, please come and get him.-END]
'Green hair?' 'Bird?' 'Spear?' Ganyu didn't see anybody dress like that at the mall earlier today. Could it be? It only could have been Xiao!
Ganyu panicked, and quickly she ran around and asked the people who worked there where can she go to get to him. They help her find the direction, and she thanks them wholeheartedly before leaving.
Ganyu arrived at the waiting room a few minutes later. There she found Xiao sitting on a leather bench, hands crossing over his chest, face down, eyes closed.
Ganyu face lit up.
"Xiao!" She alerted Xiao. He looked up from his position, and his face relaxed. He breathed out a sigh. It seems that Xiao had has a rough day. Xiao's lips quirk into a small smile. " Ganyu. You're here."
" I have heard the voice on the speaker. What has happened?" Ganyu asked.
" Just a few humans, saying that I bothered them. " Xiao said. Ganyu could only hum. Ganyu snorted at the statements as she came to sit next to Xiao.
" I see that you're not successful in your searching as well. I mayhaps got distracted by food." Ganyu coughed in embarrassment.
"I do hope that made you feel better." Ganyu continued. "Hmm," Xiao answered bluntly. His face frowned up. His eyes clouded with grey.
Ganyu puzzled. " Hm? What the matter? You have never let humans made you this distress. Even when those human kids at the village usually tease you." Ganyu continued. " Did...something else happened?"
Xiao looked down again. "...No, no it's nothing..." Ganyu grew to worry.
"Well, if there is anything, you can always tell me, alright?" Ganyu said in her gentle voice. She wanted to put a hand on Xiao's shoulder to ease him with comfort, but she wishes not to offend his boundaries.
"Where is Zhongli?" Xiao turned to her to ask.
"Oh! That I don't know. As soon as I got out of my quarrel, I was up to look for you. I waited at the spot we appointed, but no one came." Ganyu replied.
"Hmm...then we should go find him then. You know how easily he gets lost, even in his own land." Xiao said. Ganyu couldn't oppose Xiao's statement. It was simply the truth that the god of geo can't remember the map of his own nation.
As they stood up, a flip of wind flew by, thrashing through their garments and fabric of clothing. The wind was so strong, it was most definitely not a normal flip of wind.
As weird as the wind in this market is, that could never be it. That what Xiao and Ganyu just witnessed is an adepti power. One that can only adeptus as Ganyu or Xiao used.
The ground seems to have shaken a bit. Normal humans wouldn't notice it but living with a geo dragon for centuries left them with great sensories for these kinds of things. Ganyu and Xiao looked at each other, without a word exchanged between them. They knew what to do. And so they chased after the adeptus energy. They moved at the speed of light. The geo energy is getting more and more fated. And so Xiao bust a wind, a flow of anemo power pushing Xiao and Ganyu forward.
When they finally stopped. Before their eyes, was a surprise.
It was Zhongli. Xiao and Ganyu both knew that. That was the reason why they chased after the traces of geo energy.
But there is also someone else at the scene. Actually, there are multiples, other humans, at the scene. And on top of that, Zhongli was revealing his beast form to these humans!!
"YOU!" Ganyu heard Xiao yelled while pointing his spear at a certain person, he ran ahead of her. The said person turned around, face mortified.
Who was that? Wait...
That orange hair, that blue eyes..... it's the man that helped them this morning!
Before Xiao could plunge his spear at the said man. Zhongli stood in to shield him. " Xiao."
Xiao stopped and looked at him. " Zhongli-daren." Face distressed.
"I sensed that you have been having a rough day, it's no reason to struck it out on humans, Xiao. Remember what I have taught you now."
Zhongli said in a gentle tone as he extended his arms and pulled Xiao into a comforting hug. A hand soothing his back. The other patting lightly on top of his head, gently combing his messy hair.
Xiao fell pliant under Zhongli's warmth and buried his head into his lord's chest, all the while the orange-haired man glared at him menacingly. Ganyu looked from afar, wanted to join the hug as well.
" Zhongli-daren! We've been chasing after your traces all this time." Saying that, Ganyu dived headfirst into Zhongli's nurturing arms.
"Hmm...I see. I'm sorry for worrying you all day. It was not my intention to reveal my dragon form in the process."
"But worry not, we have made a contract," Zhongli said as they all let go of the hug. Xiao seems like he doesn't want to let go so soon, so does Ganyu. But they seem to understand what the priority right now is.
"This man has agreed to help us," Zhongli said while raising a hand out towards the said man.
" This is the companions that you've talked about?" The man asked.
"Yes, I want you to house them as well," Zhongli said.
The man looked puzzled for a minute, looked between Ganyu, and then he just stared weirdly at Xiao. The man sighed. "Fine, as long as that green dwarf over there don't break anything."
"What did you said!! Human?!" Xiao raised his voice.
"Uh uh, look who is being kind enough to house you. " The man smirked.
Xiao growled and left it at that. Still, he continued to glare at the man throughout their entire conversation.
"You must be the man from this morning." Ganyu bowed and said.
"Thank you! If it wasn't because of your help that our lord would have passed out in the middle of the street. And the payment for the hospital as well!"
Zhongli looked surprised. "You have helped me?" Zhongli asked, dumbfounded.
"Ah, yes. I did drive you all to the hospital this morning." Childe said.
"Really? Brother Ajax is a hero!" Teucer cheerfully said.
"Is that why you were late?" Tonia asked.
"Yea, I got stuck in traffic and almost hit you. You got knocked out pretty badly on top of my car. The hospital was close, so I thought it should be quick."
"Oh..." It was now Zhongli's turn to be flustered.
The man giggled and said. " It's alright, my car didn't take any damage from the fall. I'm glad that you're ok. "
" I must thank you for the tremendous help that you have been giving us," Zhongli said in his composed self.
"Don't worry, Zhongli. It's no big deal."
Xiao grunted loudly at that. " How dare you use the name of Rex Lapis so freely? I supposed a stupid human man like you can't even fathom the idea of using an honorific."
Zhongli 'hmm'-ed and said. " You can call me Zhongli-xiansheng."
"Xiansheng, alright." Childe tested.
"Oh, must I ask? What is your name?" Zhongli asked.
"You can call me Childe, or Tartaglia if you want," Childe said.
"Childe." Zhongli tested the name on his tongue. " Childe is a unique name," Zhongli commented.
"Oh, haha. It just a nickname. These are my siblings. Teucer, Tonia, and Anthon, who Zhongli has already know." Childe said, looking down at his siblings and in his arms carrying his little brother.
"My name is Ganyu. It's pleasure to meet you, 'Childe'" Ganyu introduced herself.
"Call me Xiao," Xiao said.
A 'dink!' sound coming from Childe's pocket. He took out the similar flat brick to the one of the lady that Ganyu encountered and tapped on it a few times. Then he sighed and turned to them and said.
"It's late now. We missed our reservation spot. They can't wait for us." Childe sighed." We should just go home, and I'll make instant noodles for everyone. We can talk this out tomorrow morning."
Someway, somehow they, despite all their differences agreed to him.
And so with that, they are now stuck tight inside of the car, heading home. With, Teucer and Tonia asking Zhongli about a bunch of things. Zhongli ranting on and on about something. Childe silently drives the car, as he recollects all the events that have transpired throughout today. Anthon asleep peacefully in Childe's lap. Xiao, deep in his thought, looking out of the window and mumbling about something.
And Ganyu, she just wanted to meet that pretty lady again.