"It's hot," Mu complained in English as he was seated on top of GriD CrosS with his legs crossed.
Both he and Daz were patiently waiting in Fort Sky's central square as the massive flying city was making its way to their destination - the sinkhole.
Avianoids of all shapes and sizes walked passed them or politely greeted Daz as they went about their business either working or peddling goods to each other. Their internal economy interested Daz a little bit, but not enough to ask any questions regarding it.
Mu, on the other hand, was incredibly taken aback by the entire city, GriD CrosS, in particular. Unfortunately, the massive crystal was only willing to give its attention and words to its king, and not to Mu, regardless of how much he called it cool.
Daz glanced up at his fellow reaper and said, "You don't have any Elemental Resistance?"
Mu cocked his head to the side. "No. Should I? I never invested any of my points into anything except for my clothes and my scythe. Ah, I did spend a bit on the base you gave me, but not much since I lack base points."
"Huh. Well, either buy some Elemental Resistance or put up with the heat. Wasn't it hot in Beijing?" Daz asked.
Mu shook his head. "I lived in a humid area, yes, but it was slightly colder in China than it is here."
Daz held his chin. "It's even hotter in Waterford most of the time. California's one of the hottest states in the U.S. Nevada's actually pretty cold when compared to the southern states."
Mu frowned. "I can handle normal heat or even humid heat, but this dry heat... It is new to me."
"Huh." Daz was very tempted at this moment to use his undetectable Secret Override on Mu, but his newly found morality didn't allow him to. "Hey, Mu."
"Yes, Daz?" the young man replied questioningly.
"Who are you?" Daz asked. A silence followed immediately afterwards, so the Archreaper followed up by saying, "Don't tell me if you don't want to, but I already have a pretty good idea of who you are after what Rose said back in the champion auction as well as thanks to my instincts. I'll tell you about who I am in more detail - if you care - in exchange."
Regardless of Mu's thoughts regarding this offer, the gem he was using as a seat opened its proverbial ears wide and dedicated a larger portion of its attention away from moving Fort Sky to this conversation.
'More info on my current master? Yes, please. I swear, if you refuse him, I'm shooting you with a laser by 'mistake' the second you leave the barrier,' GriD CrosS secretly threatened Shen Mu.
The Death Reaper stroked his hair-free chin then slowly nodded. "Okay. You are not one to judge and you didn't care when I explained how many lives I had taken, so I shall tell you," he said.
Mu then carefully clambered off of GriD CrosS and stood next to Daz who was sitting on the cobbled floor. "My real name is Bei Fan, as your sister stated when I met her for the first time. I am the son of the current president of the 'honorable' People's Republic of China, Jiang Fan. My mother is Peng Fan, the owner of a multinational investment holding conglomerate. I apologise for saying this all in Mandarin, but I do not know a lot of those words in English yet."
Daz shrugged. "My translation skill makes it all sound like English to me, so I don't care what language you use."
"I see," Mu replied with some anxiety in his voice. "Are you not curious as to why I have decided to hide my identity?"
Daz shook his head. "About as much as I'm curious about who Crusher really is." He scratched his head for a second before he said, "I'm interested in who you are, yeah, but I don't care about why you don't want to be recognised as Bei Fan. We all have our secrets, and I respect yours. Tell me if you want to, but you've already answered more than enough to sate my curiosity."
Mu was stunned speechless. Maybe a minute passed as he and Daz calmly watched the avianoids do their business before the young Death Reaper opened his mouth again. "I publicly smeared my father's name four years ago when I was being heavily pressured to do well in high school. He wanted too much from me, and the stress of it all made me go to Weibo and rant about his corruption. I was only fifteen, so that was immature of me, but I saw no other way to vent my frustrations than to make my father look bad in public."
"And? I can't imagine that went well," Daz said. "I don't know much about the world, but hasn't your father been the president of China for almost seventeen years now?"
"Yes, though I wonder if it's still accurate to call China a republic of any type with a dictator in charge?" Shen Mu asked rhetorically. He sighed faintly then continued by saying, "I was sent to live with a distant cousin by my mother, but I recently learned from the system that my father wanted to have me die in a freak car accident as a punishment for my irresponsible actions. While I do not love nor like my mother since she never tried to help me lessen the pressure weighing me down, I am thankful for her saving my life."
"And I'm guessing you lived on a farm with this cousin and just happened to be holding a farming scythe when the system came to Earth? You then later replaced it with your current war scythe, right? My instincts seem to think that my hunch is correct," Daz asked.
Mu smiled and nodded. "Indeed. It is as you say. I was moments away from stopping my work to have lunch when the first cycle started." The young Asian man had a distant look on his handsome face before he said, "Now, tell me of yourself, please, Daz."
Calmly standing up and stretching, the Archreaper shrugged again. "There wasn't as much drama in my life, to be honest. I was born into a very powerful family of espers known as the Hamilios. I was beaten and mistreated every day of my life by my father until I was six-years-old, which was when I was forced to be independent. For the next decade, I lived with Maddy and my little sister Rose as I picked pockets and stole to survive. I also learned how to fight since my father would send thugs to beat me to the brink of death every other day."
Daz leaned his back against GriD CrosS and got an earful for it, but both of the reapers ignored the massive crystal's complaints. "It fucking sucked, yeah, but my life was never in danger and I was relatively free. I'll never forgive my father, but it made me into the person that I am today. Things could've been worse, I guess. If my father had ordered men to rape Maddy and Rose while I was forced to watch, I might have broken and gone on a killing spree, but he didn't, so yeah, count your blessings, I guess."
Mu had a thoughtful expression on his face before he asked, "What will you do if you ever meet your father again? You... How do you say it in English... Clammed up during the auction?"
Daz's eyes glared at nothing in particular, but glare they did as he answered, "I'll kill him."
"I see... I want to make up with my father," Mu claimed.
Daz shook his head. "And that's where we differ. Anyway, you don't seem phased by the term 'espers'? Are you one?"
Mu laughed softly. "No, but I was taught about them by my personal tutors since espers are integral to a country's reserve power. My father had a lot of dealings with the esper clans that still resided in China, as few of them as there were, so I have met some espers when I was still seriously trying to follow in my father's footsteps."
"'Few'? China's a big place with a lot of people," Daz noted.
Mu smiled. "Indeed, but we are also a very petty nation traditionally. Many of the esper clans died out during their wars with the other clans. Hundreds of these wars have happened in recorded history, but I can only list a handful that had meaningful reasons behind them."
Daz shrugged for the third time in their conversation. "That's just human nature. It's weirder not to be petty, so I wouldn't label that as a Chinese-only trait."
"True. The God of Death seemed to be quite petty as well," Mu replied.
Interrupting the two, GriD CrosS spoke to Daz as Fort Sky stopped moving. "Hey, Daz, we're here. The system's telling me that the sinkhole's gonna form in the Great Basin beneath us."
"Great job. I knew you'd be able to find the sinkhole considering how great and mighty you are," Daz replied with very clearly fake-enthusiasm and awe in his voice.
"It's not like I did it for your praise, you dimwit! The sooner we arrived, the sooner you'd get off of Fort Sky, duh!" GriD CrosS claimed.
Mu released his Cloud of Tartarus from its container and hopped onto it before he commented, "Why does this thing talk to only you when it is still so rude? Why not just avoid talking entirely?"
Daz looked at Mu with an expression on his face that very aptly stated 'who cares?', before he returned his attention to the massive purple sphere. "Of course, you're such a smart crystal. Anyway, if anyone tries to enter Fort Sky that isn't me or that aren't with me, well, a pretty weak and stupid Gravitation Distortion Crystal Sphere would never be able to keep them out of Fort Sky. There're four big lasers and a powerful shield to get through first, after all."
"R-Really?... We-Well, good thing I'm both smart and strong! Just you watch! I won't let even a fly into Fort Sky until you're back!" GriD CrosS loudly proclaimed.
A few of the passing avianoids were surprised at how talkative and cooperative the jewel was being with their king since it had never spoken in their lifetimes before and was very hard to control even with their internal leader Avulaway's assistance, but they either silently commented on it or went about their days since they didn't want to nor had the right to disturb their ruler and his friend.
'Such an honestly dishonest kid. Do gems and crystals just grow up way slower than people do when they gain sentience? Rimmy used to be a person, so that would explain why he's mature, but thinking about my gems, only the ancient peridot is really chilled out while the rest can be quite curious...' Daz kept that thought in the back of his mind as he left the city's central square with Mu.
Now at the edge of the city where the barrier met the air-lock wall which made up Fort Sky's perimeter, Daz simply jumped off of it and let his body plummet to the ground.
Just as he was about to slam into the surface, he summoned Hamson from its brand and grabbed the tool's handle as he controlled it to stay in place with his Shovel Arts.
He felt a bit of pull from his bicep and wrist, but his strength and constitution allowed him to do this very irresponsible manoeuvre without ripping his arm off or breaking it horrifically.
Mu floated down next to him and grinned from ear-to-ear. "That was very cool."
Daz smiled back at him. "It just seemed easier and faster than riding Hamson down," he replied as he fixed his hair and surveyed their surroundings.
Mu nodded as he held his cross-legged feet and copied Daz in looking around. "There're four people over there."
Following Mu's gaze, Daz saw two women, a man, and a young boy, all staring at the two of them with worried or shocked expressions.
Mu frowned. "They seem weak. Do they live here? Are they unaware that the ground they are standing on will soon sink if we do not stop it first?"
Daz held his chin and answered, "Maybe. Let's go find out." He then started walking towards the four people, but his mind was elsewhere. 'We're being watched, aren't we? Yup... By who and why? Other people who were also issued the quest to save Nevada? Yes and no... Interesting...'
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