Ye Zun & Pei Wende: Untold Stories - Chapter 4.5 "The Lost Child"
Pei Wende, the son of Minister Pei Mui, the child who lost his mother, and the man that chose an existence like no other.
All due to that fateful night, when the Monster took his mother’s life.
Luckily, Pei Wende did not fall victim to the Tigress Beast. The demon had left him unharmed, but the childhood scars were ingrained. The memories of the gentle but fierce mother, who blocked the Demon’s path. As a youth, he swore to avenge her death. However, the price was his future that was stolen. A precarious trade for such power, because his veins now ran with the same blood as the ruthless, soulless being he had sworn to annihilate.
Just like his brothers in arms, once they’re weakened, the demon’s blood will overcome, for the senseless monsters they will eventually succumb. To be comrades is to protect, but also to put the others in check.
A well-trained army of hunters with nothing to lose. Even if they were to die under the other’s blade, there is no regret from the choices they made. Ceaseless, but at times senseless. Killing was the norm, because their existence will bring peace to their home.
That night, the familiar darkness simmered with blood and musk when he came across the hideous crime. Who would have thought he would find a rare gem. Glowing so brightly, even the moon could not compare, when its light was another fair. Unlike the celestial orb above, this one was full of fire and blaze. Even in tattered clothes, the luminescent aura remained. Despite being outnumbered, the will to fight against those who tried to tarnish it was unwavering.
However, once Pei rescued the pure blossom of the night, what returned were eyes full of fright. Cautiously, he approached the White Goddess upon his vision, of which force he could not contend. The inner calling was evident. Upon each step, the Swordsman felt the draw to shield this delicate figure -- to safeguard its light.
As long as humans’ tales exist, all forms of rare beauties, especially enchantresses are considered bad omens to mankind. Kingdoms have fallen, dynasties end. The message was clear, yet, still most did not heed its warning.
The more men believe they are above these mortal desires, the closer they are to yielding to their basic needs. Yet, the Swordsman by the fire had refused to concede. He was not just any man. He was the fallen, the one who’s feet had touched the abyss, with no path to return.
As for now, Pei Wende kept vigil, while this radiant beauty slept. Try as he might, he still couldn’t take his eyes off the one he wished to protect...For the fragile fire of the night, had become his light.
History or not, humans could not be changed, because no one is made of rock and stones.
There are those who fear him, there were others who respect him. Hate and honor, they’re all one and the same. It made no difference, as long as he could manipulate. Reigning over the masses, weaklings as they were, those puppets were faceless among many. If they allowed themselves to be so easily controlled, they deserved to be led, even to death’s door, Ye Zun had rationalized.
But never had Ye Zun elicited this strange reaction. The reserved Swordsman was flustered from his presence, but not out of fear or distaste. The exact description would be shy…abashed, from a grown man?
“I apologize…,” the Swordsman’s words faltered across the makeshift fire in the abandoned shelter. His gaze averted once more. “I-I didn’t know…”
“That I was a man?” Ye Zun mused, as he adjusted the red garment around his body, savoring the strange warmth, the masculine scent retained from its owner. Different from his nemesis, for it had an added touch of fresh bamboo.
Pei Wende curtly nodded in acknowledgement, but still avoided his gaze. The Swordsman had kept his distance since Ye Zun had woken from his short fainting spell. How interesting...The self-controlled behavior baffled the unbridled Dark Lord of the Dixing World, who lacked inhibition.
Touched but not embraced. Neither rough nor gentle, nor was the contact meant to entice. The arms which had held him, the hands of lingering caresses, had brought him comfort -- all from a nature unknown; or had he known but long forgotten? How silly it was, for Ye Zun could not remember the last time he had been soothed. Better yet, when someone had taken care of him, besides Shen Wei, his Gege.
Earlier, Ye Zun had passed out immediately after he tried to rise to his feet, but all had become a blur. He could barely recall what had happened afterwards. Except for the Swordsman, Pei Wende -- the stranger who wore his former nemesis’ face. A Haixing, even in this world. The storm had yet to cease since he awakened. Pei Wende had brought him here to escape the bad weather, instead of returning to his residence.
“Where are we?” Ye Zun asked, gazing up at the partially covered roof above.
“At the foot of Kunlun Mountain. Once the storm passes, we can return to town,” Pei answered quietly, as he threw another piece of the shelter’s debri into the flame. They sat by the fire, in the only dry spot available. How it was possible to create a fire, given everything was damp, only spoke to the fortitude of the Swordsman.
Though the Swordsman may have appeared cold, the man’s gentleness under the surface was apparent. His demeanor was so unlike Zhao Yunlan, the forever-chattering man, as this one remained silent at times. Barely offering much about himself, unless asked. Despite their contrasting personalities, their actions were all the same. Hidden, concealed, the veil of indifference was his aim. Incarnations, no matter the realm or universe, the core may not change. The kindness and noble deeds underneath, transcend even across the universe.
“Who are you?”
“His Majesty’s private guard.”
“If you belong to the King, why would you be here?” Ye Zun asked in puzzlement.
“We’re special guard in charged of keeping the peace in the Kingdom. My sector hunts for those who should not exist.”
“Should not exist?” Ye Zun narrowed his eyes at the words that have haunted him since childhood, “You mean...”
“Demons,” Pei Wende answered. His posture hardened, as the aura grew dark. The man changed in that split second, into the ruthless warrior he was. “Immortals who possess magic. Evil beings who slaughter innocent mortals. Even women, children, they killed without as much as a blink. More importantly, they won’t submit to His Majesty. If they’re not eradicated, they’ll continue to pose a threat to humans, and all nations.”’
Still comprehending the world he had fallen into,Ye Zun’s voice quivered ever so slightly, “The people you killed before....were they demons?”
“No, they were not.”
“Why would you kill humans?”
Pei broke the branch in his hand and threw it into the fire, his tone hard before the blazing flames, “Evil comes in many forms, not just Demons.”
“But you only hunt Demons?”
“While not all destinies are predetermined, this must be mine.”
Zhao Yunlan, ah Zhao Yunlan. Even in this universe, this version of you is still upholding what you call justice, when you’re a murderer all the same. What right do these weak humans have to destroy a species just because it’s more powerful?
The irony did not escape Ye Zun, for the knowledge almost made him laugh. The Swordsman was an executioner who hunts Dixing, known as Demons in this realm. His endless misfortune, or was it fortune, he could not tell. If the Demon Hunter only knew, Pei Wende would have slain a demon such as he.
At his weakened state, he did not reveal much about himself to his savior. Ye Zun’s powers would eventually return once his body adjusted to his new environment. However, there was a quicker way to regain his strength. Ye Zun contemplated the idea he could devour this Haixing who hunts his kind. The notion was quite fitting, given the circumstances. The number of Dixing Pei Wende had slaughtered, deserves death a thousand times more.
It did not matter to Ye Zun that this man had saved him from rape. It was his own people who attempted the sordid act, he rationalized. But to consume such a delicious morsel was not going to be easy, given how strong this man was. Unlike the weakling Zhao Yunlan, who always played the damsel in front of his brother, Shen Wei. This Swordsman is an opponent to be reckoned with, a worthy challenge that deserves his death in an utmost beautiful arrangement.
Can this Demon Hunter be easily manipulated? What are his weaknesses? How can I catch him unnoticed?
Ye Zun knew he had to buy time. His harmless appearance was always one of his advantages. Especially when it came to the gullible Hunter, who quickly acknowledged his earlier gender mistake. Providing a rare glimpse of a man far shyer than expected. Even now, his gaze remained averted whenever Ye Zun looked his way.
He couldn’t help but lick his lips in anticipation. No matter the world in which he resides, a man is still a man. Ye Zun had never attempted such a tactic, because there was never a need to. But….as the old adage says -- there’s always a first time for everything.
“Thank you,” Ye Zun smiled at the Swordsman who would soon be his to devour. He hugged himself tighter, forging a false vulnerability only fools would believe. Without missing a beat, the Swordsman paused from turning the burning wood. “I’ll get more firewood.” The man rose to his feet.
“But it’s still raining outside. You can’t possibly find dry wood when it’s still damp,” Ye Zun protested as he stood up, taking a few steps closer to his prey. “Please, don’t go…”
Ignoring his plea, Pei Wende turned to leave with his sword in hand. “I will return quickly.”
“Wait, I’ll go with you…,” Ye Zun tried to follow, but tripped over the debris underfoot, causing his world to spin. But he found himself in the arms of the swift Swordsman, with one hand steadying his waist, while the other held his upper arm.
The red outer garment had fallen to their feet, leaving Ye Zun in his ripped clothes, exposed to the cold breeze of night. But he ignored the chill air, for their eyes had locked.
Frozen - for a second, or was it more - he could not tell, for even the crackling fire beside them could not be heard. Nor the wind, rain or thunder… Time ceased that very moment, when his eyes caught Pei’s. Dark, marbled irises with a hint of reflective