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Impregnable Defense

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The Tianquan of The Qixing had never been a patient woman. As they say, time is Mora, and nothing and nobody gets between Ningguang and Mora. But on this day of all days, she found herself even more irritable than usual. That woman was late, even by her exceptionally loose standards of time. She had been dispatched to take care of a particularly troublesome group of Ruin Guards on an island of the Guyun Stone Forest that had been delaying shipments for nearly a week. For a normal adventurer, she could expect this to cause troubles, but for the vaunted Captain of the Crux Fleet this was simply busy work. Something to keep her out of trouble for the time being, and line her pockets with funds for the drinking she was so fond of.

Ningguang collected herself, doing her best to prevent her frustration from boiling over. This was simply par for the course for Beidou, who feared no one on land or sea, even when the one in question was the most powerful person in all of Liyue. It was admirable, to an extent. Beidoi was as bold as she was powerful, as powerful as she was beautiful, truly a woman worthy of admiration, if she could ever fix that insufferable attitude of hers. As if summoned by her thoughts, the smell of booze made its way into the room, signalling the arrival of the towering woman.
“You’re very late” Ningguang observed cooly, yet in her normal dignified tone, so as not to betray her previous thoughts.

“It seems I am.” She offered no excuse, in a way that infuriated Ningguang, but also garnered her respect. Excuses were worth less than nothing, but Beidou’s lack of even a shred of respect for her time got under her skin, as the captain had a way of doing. Still, she needed not question whether the job was done, as there was no one more capable in their respective fields than the two women occupying the Jade Chamber’s office.

“I’ve ended people’s careers for wasting far less of my time than you have, Beidou.”

“If you wanted my career to be over, you’d have done so long ago, Ning.” she retorted, using that infuriating tone of familiarity alongside the nickname she had so defiantly bestowed upon her. Arguing with Beidou felt like a game of chess, most of the time. As rash and unbound as she was, there was also a wit to match Ningguang’s own.

“Quite. Surely the might of the legendary Crux Fleet didn’t struggle for hours with a Ruin Guard infestation of all things?” she probed, baiting the woman in front of her who had clearly been drinking the day away for no less than an hour, by her estimate.

“Fuck no.” Clearly her jab at the pride of Beidou had had some effect, as she continued. “No casualties, no losses. Bought my whole crew and the entire bar a round in celebration, if it’s anything to ‘ya.” As expected. Her arrogance knew no end, as she was the only one who would dare speak that way in the presence of the Tianquan. People practically prostrated themselves in front of Ningguang on a daily basis, and yet this brutish woman insisted on speaking to her as if to an equal. It was as impressive as it was maddening.

“And I suppose the time I spent waiting on hand and foot for your return will come out of your commission?” As if anyone other than Rex Lapis himself could afford to buy Ningguang’s time but she went all in on her bluff regardless, as if it were a pawn in the game.

“I imagine the Tianquan of the Liyue Qixing has plenty of things to keep herself occupied while I’m away, but if you missed me so much, I’ll gladly pay to hear you say it.” Beidou cracked a smile. Checkmate. Ningguang nearly cursed out loud. Beidou was especially on top of her today, with a comeback to absolutely everything.

Ningguang collected herself, being sure not to show her exasperation on her face.
“In any event, regarding your payment, the amount previously agreed upon will be delivered to you in the morning.” She was in danger of seriously losing face here, and needed an out as soon as possible.

“Aww, surely you’re not kicking me out already? “ Beidou stood up and took a few steps forward towards Ningguang. “After waiting on me, what was it? Hand and foot?” She grinned in the Tianquan’s face, clearly mocking her, but there was also just a trace of sincerity? Beidou kept approaching her, but Ningguang refused to back away. They were face to face now, even as Beidou towered over her. Beidou surely would love nothing more than for the all powerful Ningguang to become flustered, so she simply refused to. She reached her hand up and grabbed the woman’s chin.

“Are you quite finished?” She responded, her voice low and harsh.

“Did I misread the mood? I thought for sure that was an invitation.” Beidou laughed off her rejection, but seemed uninterested in moving her face away from Ningguang’s control.

“Let me be clear...If I were to give you an….invitation...there would be no mistaking it, but it surely would never happen in your current state.” she calmly informed, referring to Beidou’s intoxication. She was a woman with a lot to lose, and throwing everything away for a drunken encounter with Beidou was the last thing that was going to happen.
Still, She couldn’t pretend she hadn’t considered it before. While Ningguang kept her sexual preferences shrouded in mystery, Beidou’s were the furthest thing possible from a secret, especially from the Tianquan, who knew all there was to know about anyone she deemed of interest. As annoying, arrogant, and disreputable as Beidou was, she was also the only one who would ever dare approach her in that manner and that was…..not entirely unpleasant.

“Well in that case, I will take my leave now. Until next time, Lady Ningguang” Beidou mimed a rather crude bow, half in jest before leaving.