3 Zhong Xin
The door slowly creaked open as a teen of around 14 years old walked in backwards. He was pushing the door open with his back while carrying a large tray full of food. As the door swung open, a small grey cat walked in and looked curiously at Bai Qi. The cat's eyes were blue and green, he noticed, oddly reminding him of something.
"Oh!" the youth exclaimed. "You finally woke up."
"Finally?" questioned Bai Qi. "How long was I out?"
"A few days, about 4 or 5. You had really bad wounds and a high fever, so we couldn't leave you in jail. Mam suggested we bring you here since I've been studying medicine for the last few years. The town's physician didn't wanna go near you, since you know, that whole thing happened."
"That man? What happened to him?"
"Well, you see, we had to bury whatever was left of him. Your fire extinguished as soon as you knocked out, but he was barely recognizable from the whole burning thing."
"And you aren't scared?"
"Me?" the youth asked. "Why would I be scared? You're obviously very well guarded by our state of the art security. How do you feel being trapped for the rest of your mortal life?" He said all this in a very serious tone, making Bai Qi question if he was stuck in a memory again.
Seeing his stupefied face, the youth laughed. "I'm joking. Truth be told, this is a small town. You probably would be able to take over with little to no effort. No one here practices casting. We're at the edge of the map, we don't have the resources to support casters."
"So why didn't you guys kill me while I was out for the last 4 days?"
"Out of the goodness of our hearts is probably the cheesiest thing I could say right now," the youth said. He laughed at his own joke and Bai Qi couldn't help but smile. "No, the reason we kept you alive is because we figured if you were a caster, you probably had someone backing you up. If we killed you then we would have probably been killed," the youth said, as he drew his hand across his throat for emphasis. He started eating from the tray of food after clearing a space out on the ground.
Bai Qi nodded. It was solid reasoning, they didn't know who he was, so killing him off might bring their own demise.
"Truth be told, we did want to just leave you with your injuries, but that would have backfired if someone decided the whole town was to blame. Then we decided to vote on it, and because you're so popular, the majority of the town wanted to kill you off. However, once the voting was done, we couldn't decide who would kill you, so that kinda died off. No one wanted to be that guy when the people came to get you, like oh yeah the town didn't kill him off per se, it was that guy over there. Definitely not us, we're not guilty. People that want others to do the dirty work." He dunked a piece of bread in his stew as he was talking.
"I see," Bai Qi said. "Besides that, what's your name?"
"Zhong Xin," he replied. "What's yours?"
"Where are you from?" Zhong Xin asked. "If you don't mind me asking." He picked up another piece of bread and started chewing. Then suddenly as if he realized, he asked, "Oh you just woke up. I forgot my manners, would you like some food?"
"I don't know," Bai Qi replied.
"So, is that a yes or a no for the food?" Zhong Xin furrowed his brows. "Usually if people are hungry, they want food."
"No no, food would be great, thank you," Bai Qi said. "I don't know where I'm from, or who I am. The last thing I remember was waking up at the market." He said this honestly, he had no intention to hide anything, mostly because he was touched by the straightforward and humorous personality of Zhong Xin.
"Oh really? Do you not remember anything? How did you know your name? Do you have murkey memories just lying around, or does your head feel like a clean slate?" Zhong Xin was visibly excited. "Do you remember the basic details about who you are? Maybe you remember what magic you know, or can you try to remember who taught you magic?" He looked expectantly at Bai Qi, who was startled by this sudden shift in behavior.
Confused to where this was going, Bai Qi simply said, "I don't know, I don't remember anything."
"Oh, I'm really sorry about that," Zhong Xing apologized. "I really enjoy learning about medicine and I have never met someone who lost his memory."
"No, it's okay. Truth be told, I don't remember anything at all, it's very strange for me as well," Bai Qi responded. "If you could shed some light on the situation, that would be helpful."
"I will try my best," Zhong Xin said while beaming. "Anyway, I'll get the food now." He took his own tray out and said, "I hope you like the stew we made. There's also fresh bread and a bit of cheese."
"Thank you once again," Bai Qi replied.
As Zhong Xin was leaving, he whistled. The cat which had been on the windowsill looked up and started to get up, jumping from the windowsill to the bed, nimbly moving around Bai Qi's feet.
"What's your cat's name?" asked Bai Qi. Zhong Xin froze. He slowly turned around.
"Cat? You can see it too?"
"What do you mean?" Bai Qi was also surprised. The cat seemed ordinary to him.
In order to prove him wrong, the cat jumped from the bed and through the slightly closed door, phasing through the solid door as if it was made of light.
"There's nothing ordinary about this cat. It's a ghost cat, it started following me since I was eight. No one has ever seen it till now, and you're the first. After reading books, the closest thing to it is a familiar, but those are supposed to be visible to others as well."
"I don't know, it seemed real to me." Bai Qi hid the fact that it seemed somewhat recognizable to him, though he couldn't pinpoint where.
"Anyway, I'll leave you for now. I'll get your food ready." With these words, Zhong Xin carefully lifted up his tray of food and left the room, closing the door behind him.
* 'Humans are weak creatures, aren't they?' the thing said. 'WIlling to commit murder and is okay with someone else doing it as long as it does not put them at risk.' *
"The part where the town wanted to kill me?" Bai Qi asked. "I don't blame them, I did unfairly kill a man."
* 'You killed a weaker being.' The thing responded. 'It was in your right.' *
"Why does him being weaker give me the right to kill him?"
* 'Do you repent for the lives of the ants you've taken? When you landed on that stall, do you repent for the creatures scuttling around that died?' *
"No but --"
* 'So why is this any different? He was an ant to you, you are stronger.' *
"He was a fellow human being."
* 'But you aren't human anymore. They were more than willing to kill you. You are a demon in their eyes.' *
"It is not a human quality to kill for without purpose or for personal gain."
* 'What about a justifiable reason? If it was you or them, whos right for living at the end of the day? Does it make killing right? ' *
"Killing is not right." Bai Qi could feel himself questioning his morals, but he was talking to an unknown entity that had goaded him to killing a man. He found himself at odds when it came to responding.
* 'Oh you poor naive boy. You haven't the slightest clue on how the world turns.' *
Bai Qi didn't know how to answer to that. "What was that cat? I know you recognized it, I could feel it."
* 'Asking the real questions now,' the thing smirked. 'That was a fated being. Not of this world, nor the demons realm, neither of the heavens. It just simply exists.' *
"So why were you surprised?"
* 'Because it follows death.' The thing's grin was wider than ever before *