Description: Tsinghua gets a visit from a mysterious- yet friendly stranger in his room. Lunch is shared, stories are told, and the stranger interferes with the wills of a certain businesswoman.
Even an active messenger has his studies to attend too.
Truly, the boy nary has a day free to himself. If he's not working, he is learning. Homework from yesterday's lessons, this time around. It was wednesday yesterday, and wednesday is always study day. Other apperentices of the Estate would be put together for general lessons and studies, apart from their own respective fields of expertise. A peek at the papers in front of him would reveal a whole bunch of chinese characters, if one could read them..
Maths. Just maths. Boring, simple maths.
Nontheless, the boy is making his way through the formulas with focused acuity. Solving with notable swiftness, going down the list. Perhaps it was a bit of a distraction for him, something to distract from the complications of the rest of his duties.
The room he is sitting in is his own, small, but furnished well. A desk, a wardrobe, and a bed. Everything he needs, really. The room is a part of one of the village's houses, and others live here as well- though none are present at this time. Outside, a sudden loud noise is heard- and the boy snaps out of his trance with a yelp. "Yaa-!" Taking a quick peek outside, the source is seen. One of the woodworkers had dropped a large crate on their way back to the workshop.
The messenger seems to tremble a little, as he leans back a little in his chair and breathes out a sigh: Trying to relax himself.
There are a few long moments of silence in which the boy can compose himself before a second, much quieter noise fills his small room.
'Knock knock knock.'
The rapping of his door is soft and even, the person on the other side timid enough to dull the demanding edge of pounding a heavier hand might employ.
"Tsinghua?" comes a youngish male voice, the word politely questioning but not confident that his target must be within. Layers upon layers of manners, every behavior rigidly in its place.
Though all of that falls away if Tsinghua chooses to answer the door.
On the other side stands a young man roughly his own age, though his easy baring projects the confidence of a much older soul. He is not overly tall, perhaps only 5'7, and leanly athletic in the way of an experienced martial artist. His pure white hair has been pulled back in a long ponytail, exposing a tanned face that isn't exactly handsome or cute, but open and earthy with lively eyes of a shockingly bright blue. And though he is dressed in the simple robes of a trainee and carries a small cloth-covered basket tucked into the crook of his right arm, he somehow doesn't seem to match his surroundings.
Perhaps that is because of his smile, a broad, joyful grin that matches the dancing mirth of his eyes, his presence exuding a playful sort of glee that is naturally infectious. Why he is so happy is anyone's guess, but a tilt of his head down toward the basket in his arm makes his reason for being here clear.
"Would you like some lunch?"
The boy did not expect a visitor, but he would never turn one down. He opens the door, taking a brief glance at the figure before bowing deeply. "G-Greetings, sir. Have we met?" He asks, innocently- this person feels strange, somehow. While he was dressed in an Estate uniform, his white hair and blue eyes were unusual indeed- But not unusual enough to warrant real suspicion. "Lunch? That sounds rather nice. Thank you very much for the offer."
Tsinghua taps his chin, thinking. "Would you like to come inside? There is scant room, yet I think we can manage. We could head outside, otherwise."
Whatever this strange man would propose, he does step aside in the case he wants to enter the room. "I am Tao Tsinghua, apprentice envoy-messenger- Yet I get the impression you know who I am." He introduces himself with a polite smile. "You look to be one of the martial disciples, correct? I color myself surprised I have not seen you before- Apologies."
"Would you be so kind as to give me your name?" He asks, accompanied with another quick bow.
"Sir?" the stranger questions, snowy brows lifting as he steps neatly around Tsinghua's bowing form and into the cramped confines of his room. Still being a teenager himself, the unexpected guess sweeps his eyes across the space with open curiosity, wandering over to his host's desk to sneak a quick peak of his homework. "Not the title I'd use..."
Flashing a secret little smile down at the papers, the white-haired boy begins to gather them up, stacking them neatly in order before transferring them into one corner. While he works he speaks, hands moving with calm efficiency.
"We have just met, and already we are breaking bread. A good sign, is it not?"
Whisking the cloth off of the basket, he spreads it across the wooden surface and begins carefully arranging food atop it. First up is a metal thermos of tea, followed by one very non-Chinese turkey and Swiss sandwich with a bit of colorful greens poking out, a boiled egg, and finally a small pyramid of lychee fruits. A decent enough spread for someone of Tsinghua's size, and far from traditional.
"Hmm?" he murmurs distractedly, leaning back a bit as he eyes the arrangement with critical intent. Then, snapping out of whatever thought had grabbed him, he flashes a grin over his shoulder at Tsing and backs up, seating himself uninvited upon the edge of the other boy's bed.
"You may call me Peng You." he proclaims, settling the basket in his lap and fishing free a boiled egg of his own.
"N-No? What would you like me to use?" He rubs his head, how unusual. The strange boy enters, and Tsinghua doesn't much respond to him rummaging around his papers, though he looks rather uncomfortable about lunch in his own, small room. "It- It certainly is, mr. You. It looks excellent."
He looks at the food with a measure of excitement and curiosity, because of the obvious foreign influences. "Thank you kindly." As Peng You sets the food up on his desk, he bows again- giving him a side-eyed glance as his bed gets claimed. He as such, sits at the desk chair. "Oh- Lychee's. Those are my favorite, mr. You." He smiles warmly at his uninvited guest, before gesturing toward the sandwich and eyeing it curiously-
"Do I- I eat this with my hands, correct?"
The boiled egg rolls end over end in Peng You's fingers, tumbling twice before he catches it in his palm. Having not once looked down, he takes in Tsinghua's reactions to the display, from the subtle discomfort at having his space invaded to the intrigue of being faced with something new. The egg vanishes back into the basket and he retrieves a sandwich of his own, finally looking away to glance down at it in his hand.
"Eaten with your hands, yes. Like a barbarian." the white-haired boy confirms, demonstrating with a hungry bite of his own. Lettuce crunches loudly as he chews, the simple sandwich consisting of fresh baked bread, sliced turkey, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, and Japanese mayo. A simple enough thing, though not to everyone's taste.
Brushing the back of his hand across his mouth, You looks back up at Tsing, a slightly wistful expression on his usually smiling face. "I am, surprised." he admits, "I had thought these sorts of foods would be familiar to you. So often you get to travel. You must have seen such wondrous places..."
"You are not wrong, mr. You." Tsinghua admits in turn, nodding as he takes a bite. Chewing and swallowing before continuing. "I have had food like this before, albeit rarely. I am admittedly not sure why I commented that.." Smiling a bit awkwardly. "Perhaps it is because I am still home, and not somewhere else." The boy considers, but drops the subject.
"I have seen many different places, correct. But there are very few I have had the time to admire due to my duties, you see. Eventually, it all rather... blurs together." Tsinghua says with a sigh. "The Swiss mountains were nice, however. I stayed for a few days there.. some, some complicated cirumstances." The messenger tries to keep his expression pleasant, but it naturally twists into displaying hints of fear and depression. The events of the Rosalia are still fresh in his mind. The small engraved stick from his chest pocket served as a reminder. It radiates energy, energy his guest might be able to sense. The golden necklace around his neck also gives off.. something, something subtle.
"I couldn't imagine one of the masters even touching a sandwich." Peng You admits, blue eyes alight with amusement at the idea of one of the old men frowning down at the thing and prodding it disapprovingly with a set of chopsticks. However, most of that mirth drains away when he notices Tsinghua's briefly fearful expression, expression sobering as he rests his sandwich hand carelessly against his belly.
"My friend," he states a bit quieter, "That is not the look of one who has seen wondrous things. When you returned with your golden gift, I though perhaps you had enjoyed your time away..."
Tanned features creased with concern, the white-haired boy trails off, seemingly unsure of how to proceed.
"You- You know about that?"
His pained expression persists, as the boy reaches into his hanfu to pull out the artifact. It looks to be a marker-sized stick, engraved with letters reading 'trust in your own strength'. "Some power comes from within, yet I am unsure what to make of it. It was granted to me after that hellish scenario in the Rosalia." He shakes his head, as he takes another small, polite bite of the sandwich. Chewing it up before returning to the subject at hand.
"It was torture. They- They expected us to fight a monster, and ourselves. I almost died. I almost died and then I surrendered." Tears seem to be welling up in his eyes, but he supresses them- his mouth curling into a genuine, if somewhat disturbing smile.
"But ms. Katherine saved me. She- She talked to people, and then she saved me.."
Shifting his somber gaze from the boy's face to the small stick held in his hand. "I, just meant your necklace." he admits, leaning forward slightly to get a better look at the miniature relic. Still seeming concerned, he considers it for a moment, before sitting back and giving his head a slight shake that sets his ponytail to swishing across his back.
"It has some power in it, even I can sense that. It feels, like you. A piece of you maybe. Powerful." Looking from the thing in Tsing's hand to his troubled, and then smiling face, Peng You takes another moment to mull over what he has been told, appearing just a touch disturbed himself.
"I do not know what this Rosalia was, but it seems someone found something within you that even you could not sense. And here you are before me, eating turkey and gushing about this girl. Surely things can not be all gloom?"
"Ah- Ah, right- The necklace."
He made a wrong assumption, and he blushes a little- Feeling embarrassed. "But- Is that so? The energy within felt familiar indeed, somehow- yet I could not fully place it." He looks the man in those blue eyes, and nods again. "Thank you, mr. You. You seem quite knowledgable for your age."
If only you knew, Tsinghua.
"Perhaps you are correct, mr. You. The businesswoman, ms. Sybil Katherine took care of me after I was injured from Rosalia's fight. She is very kind. The necklace was ah, uhm.. gift from her a few weeks prior." He removes it from his neck to show it to his visitor. Touching it, the white-haired boy might feel a connection. The amulet seems to be connected to something- or someone else, somehow.
"A-Ah, the Rosalia..." He begins, his expression souring. "It was an event hosted by one Rachel Alucard, a darkstalker. I was required to attend by the Estate, to.. gather intel and 'test the waters.'. But I was required to 'provide entertainment' by risking my life in a terrifying battle."
"It was horrible, mr. You. Truly." Trembling a little, he fills a cup of tea and takes a sip- before wiping his wet eyes once again.
"Ahh." Peng You murmurs in reply, reaching out to brush lightly calloused fingers across the glittering length of the chain. It is indeed linked to another, and somewhat subtle a working. Clever and insidious. And, when the white-haired boy withdraws his touch it is still linked to another. Just, not Lady Katherine. When next the boy calls upon the amulet he is going to get aid of a much more divine nature.
"It must have been terrifying." the white-haired boy agrees, "Like a trial from a story. That would make you a hero, you know? Facing down a true demon of hell and emerging on the other side. But, I do not recall you ever being one who enjoyed fighting. Being a demon slayer is a poor fit for you?"
"What kind of hero has to be saved after their victory? After they surrendered, no less." He remarks, grimly. But he forces a smile toward the boy nontheless. "Though the sentiment is appericiated, mr. You. You are very kind. I am not a demon slayer, and much less a hero. Indeed, I would much prefer to not have to fight.. although.." He thinks for a while.
"I suppose that is not entirely true, mr. You. I don't like getting hurt. And I usually don't like hurting people. I am technically in different about the action of fighting." For some reason, he feels at ease to talk against this person- perhaps due to his unfamiliarity. His face turns to worry, his eyes looking down. "Because one time, when I wasn't getting hurt, and I didn't have to worry about making someone else hurt. I- I actually found satisfaction out of the battle. And that scares me, mr You. Dissassembling my opponent's tactics, countering them beat-for-beat. It made me feel good. And I don't like that."
Tsinghua's voice gets even more timid, and he looks saddened once again."I suppose I got my due punishment. Because after that, everything came crashing down upon me. I must have deserved it."
"HAH!" Peng You bursts out, lifting his sandwich to wave it toward Tsinghua with the sudden return of his more exuberant nature. Eyes alight and white teeth flashing in a grin, he stabs the sandwich through the air, underlining his point with boyish enthusiasm.
"Few people enjoy getting hurt! Being hurt hurts, and not wishing to hurt others? This is empathy. It shows you have a kind soul. But to enjoy the Struggle? That is sport, Tsing! We have been doing this for hundreds, thousands of years."
Lifting his sandwich for another big bite, he talks through a mouth full of food, eyes remaining alight with excitement, "Mmphk..Tsing! You Are a demon slayer. The stories are just that, stories. But you have actually done it. And if this Rachel monster did not agree, you would not have that stick to show what a great thing you have done. Do not be afraid of enjoying the sport of this, this fighting. And do not think that to do so makes you bad. There is no punishment from the gods above for a man walking his path of happiness, only for those who make a point to trample others'."
"Wah!" Tsinghua yelps out, when Peng You has that outburst. Tsinghua has to take a few seconds to recover from that startle, breathing in and out with a hand on his chest. He does listen to his visitor's words, however. "I- Well. I will think about your words, Peng You. It is wisdom, but I have yet to decide whether it's widom I agree with. I thank you nontheless, however." The messenger bows.
"And further still, the kind words you have to offer goes a great length to show your good-hearted person. I am grateful."
He rises from his bow, to take another bite of his sandwich. He seems to really enjoy the mayo and turkey. "What about you, mr. You? You look to be skilled at combat." He remarks, based upon his visitor's physique. "When, and what for do you fight?"
"A-Apologies for the personal inquiry, I am merely curious, you see."
"All of my life is lived in the defense of others." the white-haired boy replies, though there doesn't seem to be any regret on his face or in his tone. Seeming as cheerful as ever, he lifts his shoulders in a little shrug. "It is a purpose I agree with, and so I am able to live my life in internal harmony. Something that I am unsure about for you. You startle like a rabbit, Tsing." he teases, amused.
Having finished about half of his sandwich, Peng You places it back into the basket and stands, transferring the container into one arm as he flexes his body upward in a long, joyous stretch.
"So much talking and so little eating. I will have to finish my lunch on the move. It was good to meet you, Tsinghua. We will both have things to think about tonight, I think."
Still grinning a bit, the boy bows deeply at the waist, smooth and elegant, then straightens with a flourish and turns away toward the door. He has already taken a step toward it and closed his hand around the handle before he looks back over his shoulder, eyes still alight with mischief.
"Ah, and Tsing. The Lychee. The flavor might be delightful and familiar, but in nutrition they are empty. I have heard that less fortunate children who eat only ripe Lychee often get sick. A lack of sugar in their blood, as despite their sweetness they suppress that which they create. A thing for puzzling, I think. There is often truth in nature that reflects well upon life."
"Ehehe- I uhm, I guess I do." He blushes, rubbing the back of his head.
"And I see. That sounds like a noble pursuit indeed. I will indeed think about out conversation. I am glad to have met you, Peng You." A final, deep bow in tandem with Peng You's own.
"Is that so.." The boy looks at the pile of Lychee, a bit dissapointed, before chuckling softly. "I will try to refrain myself from overeating on them. I- I will think about your wise analogy as well. Though I wonder. Are you really a member of-.." He seems to backtrack, not wanting to risk the 'guanxi'
"N-Never mind, mr You. Have a pleasant walk back. I hope that we may meet again. I am grateful for the meal."
The almost question that Tsinghua retreats from provokes a slight widening of Peng You's smile. Looking back toward the door, he nods his head a couple of times.
"I am glad we met as well. It would be a shame if this were the last time."
A twist of his hand and he pulls the door open, giving a little tug to send it swinging closed behind him. However, just before it clicks shut, the strange boy's final words come drifting through, full of all the cheerful humor that seems to define him, "Besides, Tsing. With a name like Peng You, how could I not be an ally...?"
Log created on 10:21:39 06/15/2021 by Tsinghua, and last modified on 19:35:56 06/17/2021.