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Waiting to Strike

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Rain poured down in drenching cascades. The ferocity of the storm made it incredibly hard to see or even hear. It was just a wall of water and white noise that caused Zhao Yunlan to shout a curse, uncaring that his voice was drowned out by the storm.

He’d have been lost if it weren’t for the odd flash of brightness here and there when lightning struck. It afforded Zhao Yunlan a small window to get his bearings on where he was, but more importantly, it allowed a glimpse of Shen Wei and the Dixingren he fought.

The sound of thunder rolled above Zhao Yunlan, and he hoped lightning would soon follow, as he pushed further against the rain, trying valiantly to avoid any run-ins with the trunks of trees.

Because it was always in a forest or some other heavily wooded area that shit always tended to happen for them, didn’t it?

It surely, did. He wiped the water from his face, pushing the bedraggled strands of his hair out of his eyes, not that it helped much. He’d have shouted his frustration again if it weren’t for the sudden crack of bright lightning. It arced downward in a brilliant zigzag and briefly, the immediate area lit up.

Ahead of him, there was a flash of darkness, but this time from a familiar cloak, and Zhao Yunlan used the sight of it to orientate himself in the right direction. He pushed off the nearest tree, staggering forward, even as the lightning faded, and darkness reclaimed the area.

Almost he brained himself on a low-hanging branch, but seconds before he hastily ducked away from the blurry shape of it. When he straightened another streak of lightning gave relief to the inky blackness once more -

flash

Shen Wei jumped back away from the Dixingren even as the other pushed their attack forward.

flash

Shen Wei now pressing his advantage, the blade glinting as it sliced through the air.

flash

The Dixingren lurched backward, a hand to their side, their other hand raised upward, the telltale glow of dark energy visible around it.

For Zhao Yunlan, he could feel the air grow heavy and it caused the hairs on the back of his neck to raise sharply, and while he knew he likely wouldn’t be heard, he couldn’t stop himself as he shouted. “Hei lao-ge!”

He continued forward then, steps staggering against the clinging grass and half-hidden gnarled roots of the trees, as he tried to run to Shen Wei. Even as he moved a small part of his brain whispered to look up, which he did, somehow understanding that's where the new danger was coming from.

The leafy canopy only allowed a small glimpse of the sky above, but what Zhao Yunlan could see looked as if a small star had come to earth, as a furious brightness now burned within the overcast sky. It coalesced into one of the largest lightning bolts Zhao Yunlan had ever seen, and it danced from one cloud bank to the next, gathering power with each jagged leap up until finally, it descended with the greatest of crashes.

And he knew where it was going to strike. Zhao Yunlan just knew –

It slammed to the ground and with it came light so that Zhao Yunlan could see and what he saw made his heart jump to his throat. It was clear the bolt was going to strike Shen Wei and though Zhao Yunlan ran, he was too slow, too late, and he could only watch as the hood of Hei Pao Shi tipped sharply back, as Shen Wei looked up at that oncoming attack.

Then – that crazy foolish man, or so Zhao Yunlan swore – extended his sword arm upward and the bolt struck the blade's tip.

Briefly, Shen Wei was starkly illuminated, a dark silhouette against all the energy of nature’s might until darkness returned.

Zhao Yunlan cursed even louder, lurching forward, and as he drew nearer, the smell of burnt wood, scorched earth, and charred cotton pierced through the dampness of rain.

“Hei lao-ge!” Zhao Yunlan shouted, uncaring that he announced his presence to the rogue Dixingren, wherever they may have been. His concern now was only for Shen Wei and whether the man was okay or not. Almost, Zhao Yunlan tripped over him, only saving himself (and Shen Wei) when a small bolt of lightning flashed above them showing the other man there on the ground, kneeling low.

Zhao Yunlan dropped next to him, hands already reaching out, “Shen Wei!”, he said, encircling the other man with his arms, uncaring at this point that the other Dixingren was likely escaping.

He could feel Shen Wei trembling and it caused Zhao Yunlan to tighten his arms around him. “I’m here!”

And while it was a rare thing for Shen Wei to collapse into his arms, always so stoic, always so 'I'm fine', at this moment he did, and Zhao Yunlan made a noise before pulling Shen Wei into his lap.

“I got you. You’re safe now.”