Edited by: Priapus, Old man of the mountain, Immortal Spank


– Lumine –

"Lumine, I'm hungry," Paimon complained. "Can I have something to eat?"

"We just ate thirty minutes ago." She replied, already feeling tired. The journey had just started. "We can't go through all our supplies so soon."

"But Lumine–"

"No buts." She shut her companion down, who whined in response. "Paimon, I can still see the city when I look back. At least wait a few hours before asking me for snacks."

"Pfft, whatever." Paimon crossed her arms. "I bet if Crimson was here, he'd give me snacks."

The mention of that dick's name made her expression twitch in annoyance.

"Well, he's not here." Lumine clicked her tongue. "So stop complaining."

Her companion stared at her silently for a few seconds before grinning smugly. This already made Lumine scowl even before Paimon said anything, but the floating fat fairy became more annoying by uttering her next sentence. Of course, when wasn't she?

"You're mad because he wasn't there to say bye~" She snickered.

"I'm not mad," Lumine seethed, her face red in not-anger. Not anger nor embarrassment.

…That was a big, fat lie, of course. Most of her friends were there to bid their farewells. Amber, Diluc, Venti, who was a girl for some reason, and even Mona. She didn't know who told them that she was leaving early in the morning, but she did appreciate them all from the bottom of her heart.

Said heart might or might not have felt a bit hollow when the person she was looking forward to the most wasn't there. Because unlike Jean, who had a valid reason for not being there, being busy, and all that, Mona told her that Crimson was fucking sleeping.

That lazy jerk.

Sure, it's not like he was obligated to be there, but that asshole promised he'd be, and it did hurt her, in all honesty. They might not have known each other for long, but she did value their friendship a lot. They even scheduled a damned date! A friend date!

Perhaps all that 'polite gentleman' act was just that—an act. No, she was not being overly dramatic because she felt terrible that her crush wasn't there. First of all, she didn't have a crush on him. That's dumb. Also, this was a valid reason to be mad at anyone.

"Yes, you are~" Paimon flew in front of her. "I bet you even have a huge crush on him."

"What is even the correlation between these two things?"

"It's cuz the guy you like wasn't there to say goodbye to you. Are you stupid?"

Her self-restraint had never been tested this much before. It's a miracle she didn't just punt the child across the continent.

"You're stupid."

"Nuh-uh."

"Yuh-uh."

"Nuh-uh," Paimon said smugly. "I bet you think about kissing him and stuff."

"I do not."

"Yeah, you probably even think about having babies with him, don't you? You wanna be his wife~" Her companion added, continuing to embarrass the blonde, then paused and pointed to the side suddenly. "Crimson!"

Lumine looked, but no one was there, prompting Paimon to laugh.

"Haha, I can't believe you fell for it!"

"Paimon, that's enough. You do not want to make me angry."

As if she wasn't already, but that's beside the point.

The flying gremlin continued giggling, not one bit intimidated because both of them knew Lumine wouldn't do anything to her, as much as she wanted to just stuff her inside the backpack until they were in Liyue.

"I'm just sayin'." Paimon shrugged. "If you like him so much, why don't you confess?"

"...You know what? I'm not even going to talk to you anymore." Lumine scoffed. "I'll pretend that you don't exist."

Yeah, that's right. Paimon was a child, and children require attention, so the best way to deal with an annoying child is to ignore them until they say they're sorry. That means no chatter, no sweets, and no nothing. She would only have beef jerky until she got bored to death.

That'll show this little shit. Lumine was getting sick and tired of being constantly teased by someone who was probably a fraction of her age. It was time to put her foot down and remind her who was boss.

Lumine could handle boredom far better than Paimon could, so this little waiting game would be over in the next two hours at most. Yes, she knew it wouldn't take long. Her companion was simply that easy.

She just had to stay quiet and react to nothing, and silence honestly sounded pretty good right about now. Besides, that's how you deal with teasing anyway. Not reacting.

"Heh, I win."

"You didn't win anything!"

"Pff, you're so easy." Paimon paused. "Oh. Hi Crimson! I thought you were asleep!"

Did this flying piece of shit think she was that gullible? This was one of the oldest tricks in the book, and Lumine had never fallen for it in her life.

"That's not going to work on me this time, you little–"

"What's not going to work?"

The Traveler turned around to see her not-crush standing on the road in front of them with his hands in his pocket. He was equally confused as he was amused. Lumine paused for a few moments, not giving him any outward reaction.

"I'm not interrupting anything, am I?" He tilted his head in askance.

"Oh, no, no, it was nothing." She looked away, heart pounding at his surprising appearance. "I just wasn't expecting to see you today…"

"I've never seen anyone changing their attitude this fast before. Must be a new record." Paimon noted, prompting Lumine to lightly elbow her side. "Ow."

"Is that how little faith you have in me?" He responded teasingly.

"That's not what I meant. I didn't see you at the gates with everyone else, and Mona said you were asleep, so I assumed the worst."

"Sheesh, is it that bad, Traveler?" Paimon quipped with an unimpressed snort. "At least try not to make it so obvious."

"Shut." Lumine glared at her companion. "Up."

"I'm joking with you. I did sleep in, admittedly. Barely had a wink last night. But I also didn't want to…" He paused to phrase his next words, ignoring her banter with Paimon. "...Well, I have some issues with the Favonius Knights, you see. Didn't want to be the cause of any tension back there."

"What?" Lumine blinked in confusion. "Why?"

"Don't worry about it. It's nothing serious. The law and I simply never saw eye to eye." He waved it off, putting a hand on her shoulder. "What matters is that I caught up before you went too far."

"...Yeah, I guess that's true." She smiled. "Thanks, Crimson. Really, I mean it."

Where did he come from, anyway? True, Lumine wasn't paying attention because Paimon was being Paimon, but it was like he had appeared out of thin air. Sounded like him, though, so she didn't care enough to ask.

"Any time, and good luck on your journey, you two." He said, patting her shoulder before walking past them back to the city. "As for me, I'm going back to sleep. See you in a week or so."

"Bye-bye, Crimson!" Paimon waved.

Lumine watched him wave back for a few moments before continuing her trek to Liyue, feeling so much better. Of course, he wouldn't break his promise; he was a real gentleman. Bit sleazy and kind of an alcoholic, but he knew how to treat a lady.

Lumine trusted him completely, which was undoubtedly not a mistake.

"He's so nice, isn't he?" Paimon said. "You know, I think you have a great taste."

"Thanks! Aether doesn't think so for some reason." Lumine shrugged. "He always said that I liked boys who would 'probably end up ruining my life', but I just don't get what he's talking about."

Besides, even if that were true, that wouldn't be a problem. It didn't matter if they were a bad influence, mentally unwell, and/or generally terrible people. Lumine was confident she could fix and help them turn their lives around. Probably.

"I-I mean, Crimson would never do that, obviously. He's a real gentleman." She tried to clarify as she realized what she just said, looking away from the big smirk on her companion's face with a red face. "And even if he wasn't, I know that deep down, he's a good person, and I can help him."

That made it sound a lot worse than it was supposed to.

"Uh-huh."

Damn it.


– Crimson –

I think I'm too nice sometimes.

Usually, I do not complain about trivial things, at least not anymore, but sleep is the one 'trivial' thing I won't tolerate being interrupted. I love to sleep, and I hate being tired. That's one thing that has stayed with me throughout my long life and will continue until the day I cease to exist.

And while it was not directly her fault, Sucrose was the one who ruined it. First, I was about to go to bed after a drink or two, because that is how I do things, and when she showed me that list of questions, I knew we would be there for a long while.

Fortunately, it didn't last as long as I thought it would, and I got a handjob out of her. I still do not know how things escalated, but when I noticed her being too focused on her questions rather than what she was saying, I knew things would turn out very fun for me.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get the ball rolling, so to speak, and only got a handjob. If I'd tried a little harder, I might've gotten her bent over the table. She was practically stumbling all over her words, giving me a perfect chance to get what I wanted. That's what I get for thinking that staying passive would've worked.

How did this ruin my sleep? Because I was left so unsatisfied, I decided to seek out that whore goddess for a few rounds instead of sleeping. Unfortunately, again, I underestimated my frustration and stayed up for hours before returning home.

On the bright side, I'm confident I can get Sucrose begging for it by the next time she visits unless I want to make her desperate. Also, Mona heard everything, and I heard her masturbating to us afterward, so that was a little funny, at least.

I yawn as I walk through the gate, sensing no one bothersome nearby. It's time to continue my nap, and I hope nobody wakes me up this time. For once, I was having a nice dream.

The spell that guaranteed good dreams I cast on myself a long time ago has worn off, as have most other spells and enchantments. It has to do with coming here, which is fine. In the grand scheme of things, not all of them were very fair.

I don't remember most of them, but I think I had a spell that negated all types of damage—or something along those lines. It was either negation or reflection. I don't know; I forgot. But things here wouldn't have been as fun if that persisted, so I suppose it's not all that bad.

As I continue my walk through the streets, Amber stops me. She stands in my way and points a finger at me with a confident grin. I smile politely, and as I'm about to greet her, she beats me to it and speaks first.

"Not so fast, mister." She says. "I, Outrider Amber, challenge you!"

Ah, we're doing this instead.

My smile turns strained. Goody.

"Sure, sure." I rub my eyes and sigh. "Behind the Knights' headquarters?"

"What?" She blinks.

"Big enough spot for a duel." I clarify. "Unless you have a different place in mind? Frankly, I don't care. I'd rather we get this over with as soon as possible. I need my beauty nap."

"A due– No! Are you crazy?! I'd die if we fought!" She panics, waving her arms to deny it. "Not even Eula could beat you! What makes you think I can?!"

…Well, at least she's aware of her limits. You'd be surprised to know how rare that is.

"Then you better be careful with your words next time, miss," I respond, crossing my arms. "You know, in some cultures I'm familiar with, saying that to someone will lock you in a fight to the death with them."

"Seriously?"

"No, I'm making it up." I shrug. "But the multiverse is vast, so that place probably exists, meaning my point still stands."

"Then why would you–" Amber shakes her head. "Look, I just wanted to be dramatic and cool. I'm sorry for not giving context first."

Okay, I take it back. This might be more entertaining than I thought it would be.

"It's okay. Everyone makes mistakes." I pat her on the head. "Now tell me why you're really here."

"I just thought I'd challenge you to a race."

"A race?" I hum, a little interested. "Intriguing. What makes you think you'll win if you're so sure you can't defeat me in battle? I beat Wally Westin a race before, you know."

Good times. I wonder how he's doing these days.

"I don't know who that is, but I'm the Gliding Champion of Mondstadt." She puffs her chest proudly, her earlier confidence returning. "And no matter how monstrously powerful you are, you can't be good at everything."

"Gliding? So it's not your typical sprint race." I reply. "Sounds fun."

"It is, I promise." She confirms. "Seeing the whole region from above and feeling the wind on your body as you glide down… It's the best thing ever."

I can relate to this. I like flying too.

"But before you accept, I want to clarify one thing." She continues. "If I win–"

She looks around before leaning closer to me, lowering her voice to ensure nobody hears.

"You'll intentionally lose to Eula next time." She whispers.

Ah, a bet. That makes it even better.

"And if I win?"

"I'll do anything you want for the rest of the day." She says, her confidence never wavering. "And I mean it. No limits. I'll do everything."

"Everything?" I raise a brow. "Even if I tell you to reveal all you know about the Knights?"

"Yes, and all you'll know is how Jean likes her coffee every morning," Amber responds with a shrug and a smirk. "I'm not that high on the totem pole. All I know is what your regular knight would know."

Smart. To use herself like that is practically foolproof in case I was an enemy of the knights and not just a nuisance. I'll give it to her. She hadn't struck me as a very interesting person before seeing how she acted like your typical subordinate, but credit where credit is due.

However, that isn't something you should tell anyone. Let them assume instead. It'll make them more likely to take the offer. And unfortunately, she doesn't know me enough to realize that making a deal like that with me is very, very stupid. Brave, and I commend her for it, but still stupid.

She just lacks experience, so there is no reason to go hard on her. She is rather young.

"Is that so?" I chuckle, wanting to see the extent of her courage and idiocy at the same time. "Then what if I order you to do naughty things with me?"

She flinches and blushes at the thought. I can almost feel her unease at the idea, and her hesitation is real, but her overconfidence powers through as her smirk only twitches and does not fall off her face.

"L-like I said, no limits," Amber doubles down, stammering a bit. "That's if you win, and you're facing the champion. I won't go down that easy."

"I'm sure." I offer her a hand. "Then I accept your challenge, Miss Amber. I hope you don't regret it."

"I should be the one saying that." She says, pointing at the snowy mountain in the distance. "Meet me in Dragonspine. There, next to the Statue of the Seven, I'll explain the rules then. Also–"

She takes something out of one of the bags strapped on her belt and hands it to me. A token of sorts.

"Give it to a knight and tell them Amber sent you." She adds. "They'll give you a glider you can use. I'm assuming you accepted the challenge because you know how to use it."

I have wings, but fine. I'll make this a little difficult for myself.

"Thank you." I nod, putting it in my pocket. "Do I get to keep it afterward?"

"Sure you can! Though, if you turn out to be bad at it, I'd need to take it away. For safety reasons, of course." She explains. "If that's all, I should be going now. I'll meet you there in a few hours!"

I watch her run off into the distance, leaving the city for some scouting or to beat me there. You know, I've never quite felt any animosity or apprehension from her. Unlike most other knights I've met, she seems genuine and friendly.

Overconfident, sure, but not particularly pompous or haughty. It's the cute kind of overconfidence. Enthusiastically trying to save her friend from unnecessary 'humiliation' by yours truly, even though that's not what I'm doing anymore. If anything, I'm indirectly training Eula.

She's endearing, and I almost feel bad for what I'm about to make her go through.

Almost.

Too bad she interrupted my nap time.


– Amber –

In hindsight, she probably should've chosen a different spot for this challenge. Granted, her pyro vision did help keep her warm, but by the Seven, it was freezing up here. She didn't know why Eula loved it here nor how she handled it.

Still, it was a great location, with no snowstorm obscuring the fantastic view. Amber could see almost the entire region from this place. Dragonspine wasn't a place she liked because of how cold it was, but visiting every once in a while wasn't so bad.

Plus, its peaks made good starting points for gliding races. When the weather is good anyway. Nothing was blocking the way for miles and miles so that they could fly around to their hearts' content.

And Amber knew the area like the back of her hand. It was mainly why she picked this spot in particular. She knew she'd have the advantage, even if the rumors of Crimson being a dragon were true, which she doubted.

That sounded too unbelievable. What would a dragon want from Mondstadt? And you're telling her he's civilized enough not to start murdering and destroying everything, unlike the last dragon they dealt with? Also, why did he look like an average person?

Sure, he was the subject of great fear for Jean and the rest of the higher-ups, was able to consistently toy with Eula like she was nothing but a child, and spoke a little weird for a twenty-plus-year-old, but that didn't mean he was a dragon. Since when did dragons look like humans?

Next, you'll tell her the drunk bard who hangs around Angel's Share is Barbatos. Get out of here.

Amber would win this race and end Eula's nonsensical obsession with beating him and 'restoring honor to her family'. She didn't even like or respect her family. She only said that because that's what she was raised to do.

Fucking Lawrence. They liked causing problems for everyone, even their own. Eula didn't deserve anything because of that dumb family. Amber didn't know why they weren't just thrown in jail and left to rot there, but what she definitely knew was that politics were stupid.

Amber sighed, toasting a piece of marshmallow over the campfire.

Unfortunately, it wasn't all their fault. Eula had a thick head, and no matter what Amber tried to do, she just couldn't get through to her. Every time she tried to convince Eula to drop this and focus on something else, she'd get instantly shut down before getting a classic 'Vengeance will be mine' from her.

It was tiring, honestly. Eula was Amber's best friend, and she couldn't just abandon the girl like that. She had to help, and while she didn't particularly blame Crimson for anything, she knew he was enjoying this. Messing with Eula, that is.

Yes, she started it, but why wouldn't he just shut her down himself? Make things easier for everyone. Wasn't he getting bored of this? Being forced to duel her nearly every day sounded exhausting. She knew she wouldn't be happy about that.

Maybe it was the lack of responsibilities. He was an adventurer, and adventurers were as free as they came. They chose when to go on missions; they had no direct bosses and could travel the world whenever they pleased. Amber sometimes felt jealous of them, to be honest. They could do everything they wanted.

But she digressed.

The Outrider caught her opponent approaching from the corner of her eye, prompting her to wave.

"You're here early." She said. "I thought you were taking longer."

"I had nothing to do. Nothing urgent, at least." Crimson responded, his eyes flickering at the marshmallow on a stick and then the small bag of chocolate and crackers. "Oh, are we making s'mores? I haven't had one of those in ages."

"Maybe after the race." She responded. "Did you get your glider?"

"Here it is." He spread his arms, showing her that he was already wearing it. "Your colleagues did not make it easy."

"Uh, yeah, sorry about them." Amber cleared her throat sheepishly. "You're not exactly… liked."

"That's unfortunate." Crimson shrugged. He didn't seem to be bothered. "So then, what are the rules?"

"Simple." She took out her bow, pulled the string, and shot an arrow infused with Pyro energy at the sky, giving the signal to ignite the flare. "The person who lands there first wins."

Amber led him to a ledge, then pointed at a certain spot where blue-colored smoke began rising, which was next to one of the villages close to the main city.

"I see. You certainly prepared for this." Crimson noted. "Anything else?"

"No sabotaging each other in any way." She added. "That will instantly disqualify you."

"Makes sense."

"Great! Are you ready?" She asked as she put on her goggles, making him nod. "We start as soon as the arrow hits the ground."

"I hope you're not as much of a sore loser as your friend was when I defeated her." He said.

"Nope." She denied. "No rematches. Only one race to decide."

"Good."

A few seconds after that exchange, the arrow landed on the platform's edge, prompting Amber to sprint forward and jump off the ledge, spreading her glider and using her skills to maneuver through the skies easily.

The freezing wind was a bit annoying, but it wasn't anything she couldn't handle as she soared across the peaks of Dragonspine, knowing where all the shortcuts and wind currents were to give herself as many advantages as possible.

Yes, she was confident in herself. She was the Gliding Champion of Mondstadt, after all. But she wasn't going to take any chances.

Checking on her opponent, Amber glanced back, seeing him still on the platform… doing something. She blinked a few times, easily avoiding a stone pillar. What the heck was he doing back there?

Is he… She squinted. "...Stretching?"

It looked like he was stretching his legs, but was this the time to do that?

…Well, whatever it was, Amber wouldn't fall for it. It was probably an attempt to distract her, and it would've worked had she not burned this area into her memory. Still, if that was his plan, then it wasn't enough.

As she left Dragonspine, the air began to get warmer. She accelerated her pace as she passed through the scattered Anemo Rings. She could see the village from this distance, which practically confirmed her victory over Crimson.

Suddenly, a loud boom could be heard from behind, prompting her to look. Amber didn't know what that was at first; she was too far away to see what it was, but her heart dropped as she spotted the rapidly approaching Crimson moving at a speed she never thought was possible.

What the hell?! She panicked.

Amber tried her best, gliding down to accelerate and going through as many Anemo Rings as she could, but even the boost from those didn't help as Crimson effortlessly flew past her, beating her to the finish line half a second after she saw his smug smirk.

The Gliding Champion was shocked at this unexpected loss, her jaw wide open as she glided down slowly. What the fuck was that?! How did he– what the hell happened?! Was she dreaming? Was this a dream?

"H-how…?" She muttered in disbelief as he walked up to her.

"I jumped." He answered as if that made sense, then looked back at Dragonspine. "Though, I think I might've caused an avalanche. Sorry."

"That's– no, that doesn't explain anything!" Amber panicked, completely disregarding his second comment. "What do you mean you 'jumped'?! You can't do that with jumping!"

"I just did." He shrugged. "What, you think my physical strength can only be used in battles?"

…Amber had not thought this through, had she?

"That's… not fair."

"It was also not very fair when you, a so-called champion of gliding, challenged someone who you weren't even sure knew how to use a glider." He pointed out, making her flinch. "Come now, did you expect me to beat you fairly, assuming that was the case?"

"W-well…" She looked away, somewhat ashamed. "...Sorry."

"It's fine. It would've been on me if I had lost." He said. "I accepted the challenge because I knew I'd win."

First of all, ouch. Right in her pride.

Second, what he said was true. She admittedly didn't account for this to be fair. Even with experience, he was never guaranteed to be as good as her. The challenge was in bad faith from the beginning, but what could she do? That was the only way Amber knew to get Eula away from him.

"But I suppose Ms. Lawrence will keep coming for her daily duels with me. Great effort, though. I think she's lucky to have you. You're a good friend." He complimented and wrapped an arm around her. "Unfortunately, you lost, and you know what that means."

Ah, yeah, right. That.

Shit.

"I hope there aren't any hard feelings." He added, making her blush. "This was your idea, not mine. Let this be a lesson about overconfidence and consequences. Or, as we say it in my homeland, 'fuck around and find out'."

That was also true. She had nobody to blame but herself. Hell, he was at least kind enough to make sure she meant what she was saying. Twice. Amber couldn't hate him for it, but that didn't stop her from feeling dread.

"Don't worry, I'll be gentle." He promised.

A part of her didn't believe him.


Sorry for not updating this for a while. Muse was kicking my ass.

Don't forget to check that website for more content. And to those who are concerned, no, nothing will stay exclusive. It's just early access. Everything will be posted here eventually.