222 The Might of Barbatos?

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As Yomite's order was ready, all that was left was to pay for everything.

"So, let's negotiate the price. I would say—"

"Is 40k Mora good enough?"

"—about 15k Mora would be plausible, what do you thin—...Eh?"

She blinked at him as she realised Yomite had interrupted her mid-sentence with a much better proposition than she had in mind in the first place...

Her face went white with shock.

*Cough* *Cough*

"...I-I-I meant to say...60k Mora...Yeah it was a slip of the tongue..."

Before she started freaking out and speaking gibberish, he reached out his hand and touched her shoulder to stop her from fidgeting.

"Yeah I guess...if you insist...so, 10k Mora right? Is that okay for you?"

"Wha—!? I said 60k Mor—"

"—Ah, my bad, my bad, 8k Mora, right?" He interrupted her again.

Looking at the pattern, she knew he saw through her lies and that her paycheck would only go lower and lower...

"U-Uhh," Her words sounded strained, as if she was about to cry or choke on her own saliva in regret.

"O-Of course. 8k Mora will...do...."

Her insides were being torn apart by the amount of money that escaped her grasp.

"Perfect! Your prices are so cheap! I might return here to buy some things once in a while!" Yomite declared, pulling his hand back.

Her face immediately stiffened, (Come again...? No! Please don't come back again!)

As he was leaving, he turned back one more time, and gave her one last smirk.

"Fix your attitude towards your customers, and I might just raise it. Customers are Gods after all~"

She narrowed her eyes at him, obviously trying to make a comeback, but nothing came to mind.

Somehow, she didn't even dare to utter a word.

However, she couldn't hide her desire to pout in frustration.

(W-What a miserable bastard...!)

She was never this humiliated in her life.

Her insides felt like they were on fire.

If she wasn't working at the moment, she would have broken something out of sheer anger...

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"Perfect, while I won't be able to give Fischl anything today, I can just say her gift is in the making. So I got that out of the way. Now, it's finally shower time!"

Saying that, he started walking down the street towards the inn, when he saw a familiar figure in the distance coming his way.

"So we meet again, Mr. Zhongli," Yomite greeted him politely.

"So it would seem, Mr. Yomite. Would you accompany me for a brief moment? I wish to buy a few things." Zhongli questioned him back respectfully.

"Sure, I still have some time to spare...also...please, drop the honorifics, it makes me look like I'm an old geezer..."

Zhongli chuckled at that, and walked closer to him.

"Very well, Yomite. I shall do as you desire. You may call me Zhongli. I am wondering though, is there something wrong with being an elderly? Old folks deserve to live in peace too, not in lonely shacks by the riverside."

"There is nothing wrong with being old, I am just way too young to be called a grandpa...I am sure you are aware of my ability...I took a look at your age, and I feel like you are closer to being an elderly than I am..."

A being over 6000 years old smiled lightly, "Age is but a mere number, I don't wear it like a crown or display it like a flag. Corrosion stains my appearance, yet has left me free to maintain agility. I, myself, admire an aging human physique more, rather than an inorganic body like mine. This appearance is but an outer shell, a mask to conceal my true self. However, my peace was invaded by you, who desired to peek at something buried within it."

That statement felt somewhat unsettling, so the conversation stopped there and it was quiet for a bit...

...

..

.

Zhongli was the one to break the awkward silence, "So...how is he...? How is Barbatos..."

He had some difficulty asking that question due to some conflict of the past, however, he was still interested in how his old friend was faring.

He hadn't been in contact with Barbatos for quite some time, and this was his best opportunity to understand what was going on in Mondstadt.

"Ah, to be frank with you, I am not sure where he is at the moment. He kind of just disappeared like he always does..." Yomite replied and started retelling everything that transpired in Mondstadt...

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"I see. So that's what happened with the young Dragon of the East..."

"Indeed...We were forced to fight Dvalin due to it being controlled by the Abyss Order, but luckily we managed win."

"...I found myself in the same situation as he did in the past..." Zhongli interjected thoughtfully, before adding, "I was also forced to fight someone I didn't wish...I would rather not remember such pain, but the memory still holds well..."

Yomite noticed Zhongli was feeling off, so he decided to switch the subject back to Barbatos.

"Still...for a God, Venti was pretty useless during that fight...in the end, we had to defeat Dvalin ourselves...Could you tell me, why is Venti so weak? Isn't he a God?"

Zhongli stopped abruptly at his words and looked him directly in the eye.

He leaned forward slightly, eyes searching for a particular emotion, before proceeding to answer with authority,

"...Venti...As you put it, was weakened due to certain factors in play. Barbatos however, was never weak to begin with. Mountain peaks moved at his will and river crests dripped like waterfalls. Barbatos flattened the mountains that once comprised the regions around Mondstadt with his winds within seconds and moved the Pilos Peak over to the current location of Mondstadt effortlessly. If anything, he has enough power to obliterate entire cities and districts with ease. Never call him weak." Zhongli explained calmly.

Yomite looked bewildered by the intensity of his narration and had remained silent until this point.

From his words it was evident Barbatos was described quite differently compared to the Venti he was familiar with all this time...

(Venti was that strong in the past? It's hard to believe...but if the God of Liyue says it...it must be so...but what caused the change? Something must have happened to him...)

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