[In another life, years later...]
[While one was wary, the other was mildly curious.
The two figures were staring at each other for minutes, neither moving. The man with the turquoise eyes because he didn’t feel like it; the one with the red eyes because he couldn’t.
The wound in his side was more a piece of ripped-out flesh than just a cut, bleeding ferociously just moments ago and dying the fabric around it in a dark colour. There were several glass vials thrown around him, empty, and the area smelled strongly of herbs.
Only because the bleeding had lessened considerably was the area where he sat not just a pool of bright red blood. More and more, the blood flow lessened and the dry earth greedily took in the liquid. If it hadn't been for the numerous potions the human had taken, the wound wouldn't have started closing so fast.
“That’s a pretty bad wound for a human”, the man with the turquoise eyes said, his tone even. His eyes kept on wandering over the thin body that might have seemed frail if not for the dangerous aura covering him.
“Those are some pretty bad scars for a spiritual beast”, the human humpfed, letting his eyes slide over the other’s uncovered arms.
The man blinked and raised his arms to look at them. Over the last… what, over a hundred years? He had gotten into fights with nearly everyone he met. Either he was in a bad mood and just snapped at whatever was in sight, or the opponent was in a bad mood - or felt threatened? - and snapped at him. There wasn't half as much avoiding as there could have been. One way or another, lots of fights, and not always ones that he could win easily. It certainly had left its marks on his body.
He chuckled, then let his body fall down to a sitting position, leaning on his crossed legs. With a much more curious gaze, he mustered the human who looked rather relaxed despite being so hurt.
“Aren’t you worried you’ll die?”
Once more, the human humpfed proudly. “Me? No way. I’ve been through worse.”
The beast grinned, showing his teeth in a wide grin. They were still a bit bloody from his very recent meal. Maybe that was why he was in a somewhat good mood and had gotten down the ravine to follow the foreign scent. “Hmm, but what if I decide to eat you?”
The human blinked, not worried. “First, don’t even think that you can win against me that easily. Second, you’ve got not killing intent.”
The beast pulled back the evil grin. That was true, he didn’t feel like getting rid of the other right now.
Instead, he relaxedly played with one of the glass shards near his leg, still keeping an eye on the human. “My name is Wu Mingtian. What’s yours?”
“Wu Mingtian?”, the human asked. “That’s depressing. Did your parents give you that name?”1'Wu' is written as 'No/Nothing/None' and 'Mingtian' as 'Tomorrow'
“I don’t have parents”, Wu Mingtian shrugged carelessly. “I’ve gotten it from some woman that kinda made sure I wouldn’t starve when I was a kid.”
“I’ll call you Mingtian then, that’s less depressing. Drop the ‘Wu’, alright? So, MingMing, my name is Xie Yi”2If you drop the 'Tian', the remnant 'Ming' means 'Bright', the human declared. He had seen others do things like that with people’s names. He hadn’t done it before, so why not now?
Mingtian pulled a face. “Hey! What’s with the ‘MingMing’? Why can you give me a nickname when I’ve known you for five minutes?”
“Hm? Then give me one, too”, Xie Yi suggested, blinking innocently. Not caring about the other, he lightly leaned his body to the side to inspect his wound. The potion was powerful; he was almost healed up. That was good, the elders would scold him if he bled all over the sect.
Mingtian appeared slightly stunned, watching the young man for a while. He was… unnaturally easygoing for a human. He didn’t quite know why - he had met humans before, lots of them, but something about the one in front of him was somehow wrong. The way he talked and acted wasn’t right.
“Then… Xiao Tian.”
“...That’s not similar to my name at all”, Xie Yi confusedly complained while glancing up for a moment. He didn’t feel like nicknames were supposed to work like that.
“But it suits you”, Mingtian amusedly decided. “From Tiankong, and you’re smaller than me. So, Xiao Tian. And now that we’ve both exchanged nicknames, let’s be friends. Your nickname is even similar to my name, now!”
“Wait, that’s how it goes?”, Xie Yi surprisedly asked, looking incredibly confused. “Well, alright. I guess you can’t try to attack me anymore now, since I’m your friend.”
...Ah, he had thought correctly. This human was very, very weird. What about exchanging nicknames? What about randomly giving someone a name? Stupid little guy, had he never interacted with others before? How did you make friends like that?
Mingtian watched the human closely but found nothing but confusion reflected in the other’s eyes. Once the cold wariness had vanished, Xie Yi looked like a child - a far stretch from the dangerous entity he had felt like moments ago.
It was interesting to talk to someone like that. Mingtian had enough experience with humans that he was near impossible to cheat on their intentions and this one had really just plainly decided that Mingtian was a friend now and not dangerous anymore. His body language was completely relaxed, the eyes clean and clear. Coloured like the sunset, they shone brightly.
Mingtian felt his heart clench. God, he really had a soft spot for idiots and innocent ones. Although that had bitten him once, he still couldn’t help but feel that he didn’t want to leave the other alone.
It always felt like they’d walk right over the edge of a cliff if you left them alone… (Eh, that human hadn’t done that, right?)
Children were also within the group of those he never really wanted to hurt. If he could avoid encountering them during his bad moods, he would. He had to admit that there were more than one or two small corpses piled up beneath him, but some things were out of his control. If he went to hell for that one day, so be it.
“Do you live around here, Xiao Tian?”, he asked somewhat softly when he saw how clumsily the young man tried to find a way to repair his badly damaged robe.
“Un, my sect isn’t that far”, Xie Yi answered absentmindedly. His eyebrows were scrunched together, giving him the appearance of a pouting child. “Just a day or two’s worth of travel.”
That isn’t considered far? Mingtian couldn’t help but awkwardly smile. Xie Yi was a cultivator on the master level. When he travelled, then it was really fast. How couldn’t a day or more to travel be far away?
“What would be far away then?”
Xie Yi tilted his head and stopped trying to tie his robe together for a moment. “I dunno? A month?”
“You could reach the ocean if you travelled that long”, Mingtian said with growing awkwardness. He had travelled all his life and seen the whole continent. Where they were right now, it could be considered the middle! It was far! Very far!
“You think so? I often travel for about two weeks just to reach the next place”, Xie Yi wondered with wide eyes, his clothes completely forgotten. The black fabric couldn’t be saved anymore anyway.
Mingtian felt his smile twitch. For what reason exactly was a young cultivator travelling to the borders of the country all the time? Who had he just become friends with?
In the end, he didn’t really want to ask, though. It wasn’t any of his business… was the excuse he could have used, but in fact, he just didn’t want to be asked about his own past so he preferred to shut his mouth.
Under normal circumstances, allowing a human to give you a name was akin to accepting them as your partner. Fighting alongside each other and supporting your partner, having someone you can trust. That was the partnership between spiritual or demonic beast and human, and actually not something he had thought he would ever do.
Humans liked to say that there were rituals and ways to convince beasts to accept you, but to tell the truth, for the beast side it was almost fully dependant on intuition. There were humans that felt comfortable, there were humans that were neutral, there were humans that were disgusting. Then, there were humans that made you want to stay with them.
Wu Mingtian had hated his life. Everything he was doing was mindlessly living, either annoyed or in a blank state of emptiness. He wanted the beautiful, shining days of his childhood back.
Maybe that was why he had decided to follow that youth. Maybe he hoped to find some peace.
“Anyway”, he said out loud, turning his eyes away and curling his fingers on his lap uncertainly. Maybe, just maybe, this would be a good decision. “I’ll be coming along.”
The human just hummed a thoughtless agreement. “Sure. From now on, you’ll be by my side."]