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The Dark Side

Chapter Text

 

 

One Autumn Leaf was confused.

The choking feeling vanished even faster than it appeared.

He didn’t know what was more concerning. The fact that nothing happened after that or that he still couldn’t reach Ye Xiu through the bond. It was as if something was stopping him from reaching out.

That made him lower down his shields just to see if he can reach Ye Xiu if he does. He regretted it immediately. With the last surge of energy, he managed to phase through the roof onto the highest floor along with his card. If he didn’t, then he would have fallen from the roof along with his card.

He was thankful this floor was vacated for a time being. If anyone saw him like this…

‘Why does it hurt so much? I can’t even move!’ His thoughts became more and more chaotic. He didn’t even know when his thoughts started circling about only one thing.

‘Ye Xiu. Ye Xiu. Where is Ye Xiu? Ye Xiu…’

Before he passed out, a pair of shoes, he is sure he saw somewhere,  crept into his tunnelling vision. With a painful gasp, darkness surrounded him.


 

For a few minutes, there was silence between them.

“Did you seriously say that?!” Asked Ye Xiu.

When One Autumn Leaf started talking, Ye Xiu heard it as if he had water in his ears. The voice was getting quieter with every word until he didn’t hear the other talking at all.

Immediately he focused on their bond to see what was wrong with it.

He didn’t expect to see a huge hole in the wall they created not a minute ago. Before he could react, the wisps that belonged to Lord Grim threw some of One Autumn Leaf’s away and their place.

He opened his eyes and turned around to search for Lord Grim’s card.

He didn’t manage to do it. It was too late.

The card shone for a moment before blinding him with the light. He didn't want to risk it and with years of experience, he made a magic shield before him.

Everyone knew that the stronger was the avatar, the more a human gained from the bond. Usually, it was strength and speed but Blood Bond was different. Ye Xiu could use some of One Autumn Leaf’s abilities on his own.

WHUMP!

Right, when he opened his eyes he could see the shield shattering to pieces because of the sheer force that ran into it.

A step backwards.

But was it really just a step back?

No.

Falling Flower Palm!

The strength behind this skill wasn’t great because Ye Xiu didn’t want to create a hole in the wall but it still was strong enough to send Lord Grim flying into an old wooden desk.

But just when Ye Xiu thought that there is something wrong, a hand grabbed him by the neck and pushed him onto his bed.

Gasping at the sudden movement, he finally locked his eyes with the avatar. And he stopped squirming.

Lord Grim…

Ye Xiu stared at the avatar that planted itself above him.

‘Can he even see me?’ He thought, taking note at how the spirit’s eyes were running around, face crumpling and breath visibly fastening in panic. For a moment it looked as if he forgot about the human laying under him until Ye Xiu moved a bit. Lord Grim’s head snapped down and eyesight hovered somewhere to the left of Ye Xiu’s head.

And then he felt himself getting a bit weaker with every passing second. Lord Grim’s grip on his neck and his right hand wasn’t strong but it was enough to keep him firmly in place.

‘If he wanted to kill me, he would have done it right away. He wants energy.’ Even under pressure Ye Xiu kept analysing Lord Grim. He smirked.

‘You want energy, huh?’ He thought before closing his eyes and willing his energy to rush through Lord Grim’s bond. Before he blacked out, he reached out to One Autumn Leaf as much as he could.

 

 

Because he grabbed Lord Grim’s bond so strongly, he received another bunch of memories.

He wished he didn’t.

 

 

After a moment, he opened his eyes, not daring to move even an inch. He looked at his side and wasn’t surprised to see Lord Grim laying beside him. The avatar was unconscious. Still breathing.

Avatars could drain energy continuously in small portions. The rush that made Ye Xiu, would render any spirit useless for at least an hour. Unless it’s One Autumn Leaf or any other avatar from the first generation. They needed half an hour to recuperate. Lord Grim as an even older one, will most likely make it in a shorter time.

Ye Xiu remembered what he saw when he passed out. His head hurt from the onrush of the information.

He sat up and looked down at the avatar. Instead of wearing the gear from Glory, he was wearing just some rough looking material that looked like a shirt and trousers. He also had some shoes but they weren’t looking great either.

Ye Xiu tried really hard not to stare at the scars covering the spirit’s uncovered skin. But he did. What took his attention was something at the base of Lord Grim’s neck. A burned out serial number.

S-000

If he could, Ye Xiu would personally destroy the life of the one who did all of this. Avatars have no right etc. Ok, he gets it. But it's not a reason to do whatever they did to Lord Grim. It looked that thanks to the gained energy, some nasty wounds that were still somewhat not entirely mended, were healing.

Ye Xiu grabbed the blanket that laid nearby and covered the spirit with it.

After a moment, he concentrated to look at their bond.

The first thing he noticed?

No wall.

The second thing he noticed?

He might have taken a tiny little bit too much of energy from One Autumn Leaf.

The third thing he noticed?

He doesn’t necessarily feel bad about it.

Fourth thing he noticed?

Someone is knocking on the door.

‘Ah. It must be my new Boss’

He quickly came back to the real world and went to answer the door after glancing at motionless Lord Grim.

He made up some story about falling boxes and she bought it.

Ye Xiu looked down at the spirit laying on his bed. After a short thought, he fetched a chair standing near the desk and brought it close to the avatar. Far enough to pull up his shield and protect himself just in case. 

He directed some of the energy back to One Autumn Leaf and with the oldest avatar’s card in hand patiently waited for Lord Grim to wake up.


 

Sun Xiang, abandoned by everyone in Excellent Era, was silently laying on his bed. He wanted to train for the oncoming match but he couldn’t. How can one train without a spirit?!

He muffled his loud annoyed groan with a pillow. When he received the invitation to Excellent Era and a place of the captain, he didn't hesitate to grab onto the opportunity. Now it seemed like a big joke. It was an opportunity to die not to win! There were many things that kept gnawing at his mind.

If One Autumn Leaf can walk around and do what he is doing, then how come he didn’t come out with guns blazing in the conference room? Was it because Ye Xiu ordered him not to do it? Was this the reason, why his hand shook while giving up the avatar’s card? Did Excellent Era know about the strange bond between Ye Xiu and the spirit? Why One Autumn Leaf waited for few hours before starting to wreak havoc? Can Ye Xiu stop this madness? Where is he now? Does he know what is happening here? Maybe he was the one who ordered the spirit to take his revenge? How come that nothing like this happened earlier? Where is One Autumn Leaf now?

Beep! Beep!

‘What should I do now?’

Beep! Beep!

"huh?" Sun Xiang turned his gaze to look at his phone. Did someone send him a message? He slowly reached for the device and read the name of the sender.

“Mom?” He scrunched his eyebrows. ‘What she sent me at his hour??’

I found a second journal that belonged to your grandfather some time ago. I just remembered it was somewhere in the attic after we talked. I wanted to send it by mail but decided that I will make scans of it and sent it in a file. I hope that this will help you with whatever you are doing now. Stay safe ;)

To the message was pinned an appendage.

“I have the best mom on the entire planet. It’s just what I needed.”

Truth to his mother’s words, it was the scanned journal. He didn’t remember the last time he went to willingly read something so fast.

After gaining some more information about avatars, bonds, habits etc. and… some… lemon stuff… (he wished that his grandfather marked these pieces somehow because his mind is now tainted) he immediately took off and hid the hunter’s gloves. They were the only thing why the bond between him and One Autumn Leaf is still somewhat there and waiting to be validated. When he did it, the remains of the bond immediately disappeared.

Sun Xiang stared dumbly at the gloves for a few seconds. He didn't know why the bond disappeared so fast. It could be whether the pure hatred the avatar had for him or the spirit had enough strength to break it himself. But judging on the previous encounter it was probably both.

His grandfather wrote that a human with higher sensitivity can feel other avatars. People like that, usually naturally end up with stronger avatars. And this is because stronger avatars are also more sensitive.

It was common to see avatars tearing each other’s throats out just to win and bond with a hypersensitive human. Or rather uncommon. You could count how many of such people were born on your two hands. 

Why would avatars do it?

Because it meant that their handler will understand them without having to talk and would give much more freedom than any other. At the same time, the bond will be stronger and the strain on either side (depends on the bond) will be reduced.

Sun Xiang wasn't that sensitive but he still counted into the upper ledge. Which also wasn't common.

To tell the truth, he was getting annoyed the longer he waited for even a trace of One Autumn Leaf’s energy. He saw it on the first day so he knew that it was impossible for the avatar to disappear into thin air. But surprise, surprise. He, SOMEHOW, disappeared.

Sun Xiang plopped onto his bed again. He turned to lay on his back and kept staring at his ceiling.

‘I don’t get it. I should even automatically look at the place where he is staying at.’

After spending a few hours helplessly tracing the spider making its web near the lamp at the ceiling, he finally stood up to walk it out. If not, he felt that he will sigh himself to death, if it’s possible that is.

So this is how he found himself on the highest floor. Usually, it was a living area for players etc. but now only Su Mucheng was brave enough to live here. Even Sun Xiang’s room was moved downstairs.

Just when he stepped onto the long corridor, he heard a loud crackling.

He jumped away just in time to see a large, dark mass phasing through the roof, materialising in the air and flopped onto the floor. Beside it fell an onyx card.

Sun Xiang couldn’t move a muscle from fear.

Before him, landed no one other than One Autumn Leaf himself.

He didn’t dare to move. The avatar will surely kill him the moment he does.

But the longer he looked, the more concerning was becoming the situation. The avatar wasn’t moving.

Cursing his curiosity again, he slowly lowered himself just enough to take a closer look at the spirit. He frowned in confusion at what he saw. One Autumn Leaf had a grimace etched onto his face, was sickly pale and clearly unconscious.

After rereading his grandfather’s journals, he could swiftly identify the cause.

Energy drop.

With normal bonds, people get hurt because the spirit, besides automatically trying to deny all given orders and straining human mind to keep it in check, also sucks most needed energy out from him.

With breaking bond, where the avatar's mind is assaulted in their weakest point and has no way to recuperate properly, avatar's drain themselves. The stronger the avatar the bigger are resources, the better is energy management and also stronger is the mind.

With a temporary bond, energy is taken from both parties, whether it is needed or not. Same for half-bonds etc.

For blood bonds this is different. Energy is taken and transferred to the other side of the bond if there is such need. If not, there is a minimal constant flow to maintain a stronger bond between both ends.

However, if one was really strong-minded, he could force to lessen the energy absorption to the bare minimum, just enough for it to be replenished naturally in other ways.

Of course, through the years, people managed to lower the energy consumption of the avatars by messing with cards and "strengthening" them. Unlocking them was hard and one had to take full responsibility for doing it.

One Autumn Leaf was obviously one of the strongest avatars in China. It meant that his energy reserves were much larger than the others'. Not to mention that he could recover faster by draining energy from the air, from food etc. and also by taking some from Ye Xiu. By analysing the energy drain given after every match, one could see that Ye Xiu’s reserves are also extreme. This information was available only to the pro players.

It was the most concerning thing in the first few seasons when the cards didn't have as many safety measures as now. One Autumn Leaf's energy drain was enormous. It is still believed that three Championship streak was because the avatar drained Ye Xiu’s energy too much and because of that, no one would see his face since, in meantime, the captain was resting. 

After reading the journal, Sun Xiang was now aware that to make everyone oblivious about their specific bond, they made their energy flow differently. How they managed to lead the China Glory Alliance by the nose for so many years was beyond him.

For One Autumn Leaf to fall unconscious like this…

‘Whatever managed to drain his energy like that… it was done very fast and the energy had to be enormous. Could it be that something happened to Ye Xiu?’ Thought Sun Xiang.

Slowly, he reached down to grab One Autumn Leaf’s card.

But he stopped short when he heard a click of a gun right beside his head.

“You touch his card and I will touch you with my gun.” Said a female voice.

Sun Xiang slowly stood up with his hands raised. He didn’t need to look behind him to know who it is.

And then he heard another, very similar voice from someone who was standing even further from him. This time he looked over his shoulder to see who is aiming at him.

“Touch her and I will touch you with my cannon.”