Prompt day hurray! What does BaXia think of ChenQing? They would have crossed paths in the war, right? What do all the other weapons and instruments think of WWX apparently setting aside SuiBian for ChenQing? Can THEY tell he's got no golden core?
You seem kind of evil, Baxia remarked when she first met the flute.
Yeah? The flute responded without first bothering to extend her perceptive aura out to see who was talking to her, sounding like a little punk, arrogant and bold. Well, you seem kind of – oh fuck oh fuck you’re terrifying!
This was true. Baxia was terrifying.
Please don’t destroy me! My master needs me!
Baxia said nothing, enjoying how the flute squirmed, and nudged her own master pointedly.
Do not destroy the flute, her master responded with a sigh. He knew Baxia well. Her master is on our side.
Truly, war made for strange bedfellows. Baxia mourned the loss of the easy, straightforward night-hunt.
She nudged her master again.
Yes, fine, you can chase.
Her master - loving, wonderful, understanding master that he was - very casually walked across the room, unhooked her from his back, and put her down next to where the flute was hanging off her master's belt.
Chase, Baxia said happily, the aura of her power already spreading beyond the confines of her blade. Chase, chase, chase –
Someone help meeeeeee!
You’re kind of a dick, Chenqing said, having finally realized that Baxia had no intention of destroying her incipient spiritual soul. Anyone ever tell you that?
…really? Who dared?
Your master is badass. Chenqing contemplated for a moment. So is mine, he's very brave, even suicidally brave, but not – you know – that much.
Baxia considered this, and accepted it. Her master was indeed a superior sort of human.
Why do you smell of death? she asked, mildly curious.
My master uses me to direct resentful energy, so I’m affected by its aura. You?
I bathe in it.
…you're so badass.
Yes. Baxia was.
You’re not bad, she told Chenqing, which almost predictably got a little huffy.
I raise armies of the dead! I am terrifying! They call me the phantom flute! I am more than 'not bad', okay?!
Baxia ignored Chenqing's nonsense. It would not take long for her to realize that being called ‘not bad’ by Baxia was a very high compliment, as such things went.
Are there any swords that aren’t afraid of you? Chenqing asked. She was very chatty. Or sabers. Or musical instruments…
Which musical instruments have you met?
Uh, mostly Wangji? Wangji’s cool.
Baxia occasionally wished for eyes so that she could roll them. Her human got a great deal of relief out of doing that, according to him. Wangji has a temperament of ice, yes.
No, I mean, that’s not what I meant, I – wait. Are you making a joke right now?
Baxia said nothing.
You have a sense of humor?!
Baxia said nothing.
This is ridiculous. It’s like meeting a hurricane with sharp teeth and finding out it also likes to sing bawdy brothel songs.
You’re kind of stupid, Baxia observed.
Well, yeah. I mean. Have you met my master?
He’s only scary by accident, Chenqing said ruthlessly, which was only to be expected – no one dunked on a human like their spiritual weapon. Inside, he’s a big soft squishy meatball.
My master cries when he has feelings.
My master too! Humans, am I right?
Baxia supposed Chenqing was, in fact, right.
Perhaps she could stay.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate everything Wei Wuxian is doing for us, Baxia's master remarked to her one day. But didn’t he have a sword at one point? The one with the ridiculous name – Suibian.
At the next meeting, Baxia asked.
Suibian? Yeah, master doesn’t use him anymore, Chenqing said. It's a bit sad, actually. He can’t access the spiritual energy in the blade anymore.
Baxia didn’t like the sound of that. How come?
Master doesn’t have a golden core, Chenqing said. I think he used to, but he doesn’t anymore.
Hey, I’m pretty sure it’s not his fault! Anyway, it’s a whole big secret. Why do you ask?
My master wanted to know.
Hah, Chenqing said. Nice of you to ask on his behalf, since you can’t tell him what the result of your question was.
Baxia said nothing.
You – can’t. Right? Masters can’t hear what swords say.
I, Baxia said, am not a sword.
…oh shit. Shit, no, you can’t –!
“We need to talk,” Baxia’s master said to Chenqing’s. “In private.”
You’re a rotten tattletale, Chenqing said.
Why do you care? He won’t know it was you that squealed.
Yeah, well, I know that I did it!
It’s for the best. My master will be nice about it, and your master will feel better for it. Baxia considered. There may be tears.
There were many tears.
Master really does seem like he feels better, Chenqing observed. I wouldn’t have called that.
Told you so.
So, Chenqing said. This hunt is probably the last time we’ll be able to hang out.
Probably, Baxia agreed.
I was hoping to ask for some advice.
Bichen is amendable to your flirting, and Wangji follows where she leads, so you have a shot.
I – what? That wasn’t what I was going to ask.
…wait, are you serious? Will that work? I could do that –
The flute’s an idiot, Baxia told her master. But maybe she and that master of hers can help you here.
It would be inappropriate for me to ask, her master said, rubbing his eyes. The Jiang sect kicked him out, remember? It would be stepping on their face to approach him despite that.
Okay, Baxia said. So step.
You share a secret with him, at his request, she pointed out. He owes you for keeping it secret for him. At minimum, even if he can’t help you right now, he can help protect your brother when you’re gone.
Her master was silent. That was his weak spot, and had always been.
No one would be able to know, he finally said. And Meng Yao comes every week.
Is our home so small that we can’t hide someone from Meng Yao’s sight? Baxia said scathingly. Since when is he the master here, not you?
I just meant that he’s a sneak that’d sell me out to his father given half a chance, her master sighed. All right, I’ll see if there’s anything that can be done. Wei Wuxian is a musical cultivator, and a genius; maybe he can tell me why Clarity doesn’t seem to be having the impact we hoped it would.
Sure, Baxia said. Whatever. I don't really care. Just get help.
Well, that worked, Baxia said to Chenqing. Sort of.
How are you this badass? You just -! Singlehandedly -! I can’t – how?!
Calm down, Baxia advised. What are you, human?
How dare you.
You’re the one acting like you need air to speak.
…so I’m looking forward to seeing the Lotus Pier again now that we're not banished any more, Chenqing said, pointedly changing the subject because she was wrong and she knew it. Thanks for that.
Thanks for figuring out that the evil meat was poisoning my master.
That’s. uh. Sure a way to call someone.
Why not? He’s evil, and he’s made of flesh, and he’s going to be nothing but meat as soon as I have an opportunity.
I thought your master was thinking of some sort of confinement…?
He certainly has thoughts, Baxia allowed, purposefully broadcasting.
I have very strong thoughts, her master replied pointedly. Do not kill him on your own – I’ll only get the blame for that.
Oh no, Baxia told him insincerely. How terrible for you.
Fine. What about Jin Guangshan?
…what about him?
Me and the flute are going to take care of him.
We are? Wait, are you talking to your master right now? Oh that’s so cool. Tell him to tell my master that I said hi.
Baxia would tell her master no such thing.
That’s probably not the right way to do that, her master said, but in that wavering tone of voice that suggested he was open to being convinced. Though it would be easier to sell Meng Yao as being only collateral damage in the scheme if Jin Guangshan took the lion’s share of the blame, which would only happen if he wasn’t around…that doesn’t seem right, though.
Sure it is, Baxia said soothingly. He’s the one who wanted to play with resentful energy, right? All we want to do is play with him back. Who can say no to that? He’s practically volunteered!
“Okay, I have a weird question,” Chenqing’s master said to Baxia’s. “Please don’t judge me. But…did we happen to work together to drive Jin Guangshan into a resentful energy backlash?”
“We did not,” Baxia’s master said.
“Okay. Right. Got it. Sorry, stupid question.”
“Our spiritual weapons did.”
“If you’re wondering why your Chenqing shows signs of use in the manner that would be associated with Jin Guangshan’s untimely demise, it’s because the resentful energy you’re using has been sufficient to allow it to cultivate in the direction of a guai,” Baxia’s master explained. “It has a will of its own now, just as Baxia does. You will need to account for that when you master it in the future.”
“Wait. Are you saying that my flute has, what, a personality? Can think and talk and do things on its own?”
“That’s…that’s so cool. Can you tell Baxia to tell Chenqing I said ‘hi’?”
Why are they like this, Baxia’s master asked Baxia.
I don’t know, you’re the human expert, she replied, ignoring the way that Chenqing was happily chirping answers to her human’s questions even though he couldn’t hear her. Why are you all like this?
I don’t know, he said. I really don’t know.
It’s nice to meet you, Suibian said, sounding appropriately respectful. I appreciate your master finding a way for my master to continue to wield me.
It’s through resentful energy, Chenqing said gleefully. Lots and lots of it, refining the sword like a saber – my poor master’s going to have to stay up late and learn so many techniques, his hair’s all going to fall out.
Yes, Baxia said. I can see the resentful energy. There’s a lot of it.
Lots and lots, Suibian said proudly. I drew in everything I could.
Without sorting out the evil?
…isn’t it all evil?
Mm, not really, Baxia said, and began to extend out her aura.
Uh, Suibian said. What’s going on.
I told you to be more patient! You shouldn’t have taken the evil parts, Chengqing said. It makes you a little bit evil, too, and that makes you Baxia’s prey.
Chase, Baxia said. Chase, chase, chase –
Help! Help – somebody help!
I would, Chenqing giggled. But master doesn’t speak flute. Sorry!
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