1 Devil“s Grin
Bai Qi woke up with a raging headache. His head was ringing, as he laid on the side of the street, ready to pass out once again. He couldn't remember anything, who he was, how he got there, or what he was doing. Looking around, slightly disoriented as he tried to make sense of his surrounding, he found himself in the middle of a market. The bright light leapt out at him; it was midday. Vibrant colors of the market stalls confused him further, not knowing where he was, or how he got there.
Looking up, Bai Qi noticed a bald man with a nose like the beak of a raven. He was wearing all black and yelling at Bai Qi. Or so he was trying to at any rate; Bai Qi couldn't hear a single word over the piecing ringing in his ears. As he tried to find the source of the pain, he reached his hand out and touched his head. It came back bright red, speckled with dirt and dust from the dirty road. Looking down, he felt dizzier, if that was even possible. His whole body was covered in marks, stained by the dark red that mirrored his hands. As he tried to take in his surrounding, the ringing suddenly disappeared, replaced with the screeching of the bald man.
"You punk! Who do you think you are, making trouble at my stall." The bald man yelled. "Punks like you are the reason we have problems. How are you gonna pay for everything you broke?" The man was next to Bai Qi, yelling straight at his face. Surrounding them was the rubble of a stall, fruit splattered everywhere, and a slight smoking crater where he was sitting. Everyone surrounded them, speaking in a low buzz, confused to where Bai Qi had come from, and how he had landed in the middle of the market. Some people left to call the town guards over.
* 'His voice is annoying isn't it?' *
Bai Qi was startled. It wasn't his thoughts, no he heard someone else, or something, whisper it. Something in his head, tentatively, he reached out, feeling something cold, like a ball of his consciousness tucked away in a corner that he couldn't control. He could feel it there, but why?
* 'Why not? Did you forget the deal we made? I'm just here for the ride', it smirked, while saying those words. *
Bai Qi could tell that it smirked. The thing started taking shape: a round, dark and cold ball, seemingly harmless. It took up a small corner, illuminated by the darkness, its features being indistinguishable. The only thing he could see was that smile, outlined by pearl white teeth, like the mouth of a beast. Dark wisps of smoky black light surrounded it, as its mouth curled into a familiar smile. He was startled, he couldn't remember this thing, yet it sported a ever so familiar smile. What are you, he questioned?
* 'That's up to you to figure out. I'm just here for my end of the bargain. Your end though, are you really not gonna use it?' *
"The hell are you doing, blanking out," the bald man continued to yell. His voice was annoying, coarse to the ears and loud. "I'm speaking to you." he continued to screech, his words reverberating in Bai Qi ears, echoing, making his words jumbled. He found it difficult to think, as the man continued to shout at him. Bai Qi just wanted him to shut up while he tried to figure things out, try to remember even a semblance of what he or that thing was.
* 'It's easy to shut him up you know. You have it in you. Why don't you use your powers?' It smirked again. 'Don't tell me you forgot already, I'm disappointed.' *
That thing's words startled Bai Qi. What powers, he wondered?
* 'You want him to shut up don't you? It's really easy to get peace of the mind, just get rid of the source of sound. Simply raise your hand and imagine him at the center of a target. Imagine power flowing through your body starting from every cell and gathering at the palm of your hands. Imagine that power draining from every nook and cranny imagine it flowing to your hand of choice. Imagine a burning hot energy yearning to get out, blistering your hands. Feel that energy gather, heating you up as it travels. Direct that towards him. That should be enough to shut him up.' It smiled again, but no longer a smirk, rather this was more sinister in nature. *
Bai Qi felt his hands heat up. His palm was searing hot, he could feel the rest of his body getting tired as everything gathered at the tips of his fingers. It was as if a fire was about to dance on his hand, as if his arm was being engulfed in a pot of boiling water. He tried to move that towards the man, tried to direct that energy into a beam slowly emanating from his arm outwards. As he raised his arm, he let out an aura, a wave of heat that engulfed the jeering spectators, silencing them as they figured out something was wrong. He could see the air between them heat up, distorting, when suddenly the bald man yelped, and caught on fire.
The bald man let out a yelp, then started screaming shrilly. His clothes had started burning and with it, the rest of his body. The fire was dark, like the night itself had managed to make up the flames. His screams got louder, as the bald man tried to run, and find a way to put out the fire. He jumped down and started rolling, only to find out that he was spreading out the fire faster. His screams grew louder and louder, until suddenly he stopped. Twitching on the ground as black flames covered his body, the spectators could see his corpse rapidly turning into ash.
The people around Bai Qi also started yelling, confused about what had just happened, out of fear. A youth covered in wounds, blood dried on his clothes, and flowing from his head, had just raised his hand, and in front of the spectators, turned a man into a burning corpse. A confused and scared crowd tried to move away from this thing in the middle of the market, a creature that looked human, yet was clearly one of the immortals that cultivated magic. This was a small town, everyone knew that, no immortals had passed through in years. Slowly forgetting the powers they held, the mages, immortals, monsters, those were all just bedtime stories that existed on a different side of the world. Yet today, they were reminded why they were told to run from an immortal and never look back. They felt true fear that day, the bust of aura and told them that Bai Qi wasn't the same as them, he was someone stronger.
As far as they could tell, Bai QI could make them join the bald man on the ground with a snap of his fingers. Fear gripped the crowd, as everyone pushed to run away. Some people tripping, pushing others out of the way, it was every man for himself. Bai Qi was no less scared than them. The town guards had started to run over, they could no longer ignore the situation, though they hesitated. What could they do, they were in no better condition than the dozens that trampled their way out of the market. Was this youth worth risking their lives for to apprehend? Some of them had even began to run outright, away from the situation, while other brandished their weapons, hoping for a miracle.
"What the hell did you do?" Bai Qi yelled internally. He started to panic, as he felt his body start to give out. "Why did you kill that man?" As people started to run, he tried to speak, but it was as if his voice disappeared, he tried to explain himself to the people around him, only to feel his body get tired, unable to move a single muscle. Just as he started to blank out, the thing responded.
* 'What did I do? No, I'm merely a spectator, I didn't do anything, this was your doing. You just killed a man weaker than you, aren't you proud? Do you feel powerful? Are you satisfied?' It grinned, a devil's grin, as Bai Qi blacked out, yet that grin was burned fresh into his mind as his surroundings disappeared, into darkness. *