This post has the following content warnings:
Aug 13, 2020 7:57 PM
Untamed characters travel back in time
Permalink

Nie Huaisang did not fall asleep here.  He quickly shuts his eyes again, pretending to still be asleep and listening for anyone in the room with him.  After a few more moments and no other sounds, he opens them again.

He's no architect, but he's pretty sure this is the Cloud Recesses.  It certainly doesn't look like the Unclean Realm.

Total: 535
Posts Per Page:
Permalink

It sure does seem that way.

It's very quiet, in that peaceful way that the Cloud Recesses tend to be, except for some nearby birdsong. Actually the birdsong is unusually nearby; it's coming from inside the room. From a bird inside a cage inside the room.

 

There's a soft knock on the door.

Permalink

"Young Master, are you awake?"

Permalink

You. 

...Young Master?

He takes in the birdcage, the room, the outdated title, and the outfit he's been provided with.  The uniform is for a young cultivator attending lectures at the Cloud Recesses.  He remembers the bird, too - a canary.  He once caught one on the way to Cloud Recesses, years ago, in that very same cage.

Pretending he hadn't heard that first call, he focuses on the bird. He picks up its cage, examining it closely.

Permalink

This is indeed a canary! Inside a tiny metal cage that should be just as familiar. The bird twitters as brightly as its vivid orange feathers. 

Permalink

Of course he isn't awake.

He knocks more firmly. "Young Master," he calls, raising his voice. "Can I in any way assist you in waking? The salute ceremony will begin soon. Young Master?"

Permalink

"I'm awake," he calls, sounding distracted, mind still racing trying to remember the events.  Jin Guangyao - or Meng Yao as he was known back then (now?) - he hadn't been a student alongside them, only accompanying Nie Huaisang to the Cloud Recesses on the first day.  He doesn't know what is happening, but he can try to play along.

Without setting the bird down, he heads towards the door.  Once the door is opened, his face as usual shows someone who is completely hopeless and forgot what they were doing.  "What do I need to do to prepare for that, again?  I don't know."

Permalink

In turn, Meng Yao's face is sympathetic and mild with fond exasperation. He looks sincere, to the extent that Nie Huaisang believes he has ever seen Meng Yao look sincere.

"Of course, Young Master." Bow. Smile. "I can help you dress or do your hair if you wish. We have your gift to present to the Grand Master Lan. Does Young Master have a speech prepared to accompany the tribute?"

Young Master definitely does not have a speech prepared. Huaisang is never prepared, because Huaisang never risks any consequences for being unprepared. If he is polite and well-spoken and gracious, he will be the Nie Sect's first heir. If he is bumbling and unsure and incompetent, he will still be the Nie Sect Heir, which is certainly more than Meng Yao can say for himself.

Nie Huaisang is a pleasant companion and an earnest friend, but Meng Yao finds the lack of care he has for his presentation continually jarring. 

Permalink

Nie Huaisang does not want Meng Yao to touch him.  He doesn't let this show on his face, instead shifting to thankful friendliness and politely turning down the offer to help him dress.

"I don't have a speech," he confirms.  He's pretty sure he didn't have a speech last time either.

Permalink

It would be so enormously out of character for him to have a speech.

"I would have the honor of presenting our tribute if you would wish it, Young Master. You only have to worry about introducing yourself." He bows as he backs away from the door. "We should leave within five minutes. I'll give Young Master privacy."

Permalink

"That sounds like a good idea.  Thank you Meng Yao."  

And he will quickly dress and fix up his hair.  He is sure to grab his canary, confident that Meng Yao will take care of the complicated things Huaisang was supposed to be doing while he tries to work out exactly what is going on.  

Permalink

Yes, Meng Yao is always taking care of the complicated things Huaisang is supposed to be doing. He cannot remember the last time Huaisang did a complicated thing.

Meng Yao actually planned the speech three days ago; that's not a concern. He checks the special sand elixir pot and its container. The present is fine - one would think he shouldn't need to even check, but there exists a very real possibility of Nie Huaisang knocking it over while playing around with his new bird or something.

Oh, and it looks like Huaisang is bringing the bird. Why is Huaisang bringing the bird. It's so loud. Why would he do this.

Meng Yao smiles, only a little strained, and gets the door.

Permalink

They can walk to the hall where the salute ceremony is being held.  Huaisang knows the way, but is sure to hesitate just a bit at branches in the path.  

Permalink

Elsewhere, Lan Wangji is asleep, and then he isn't. 

 

The first thing he notices is that the light through his eyelids is too bright; it's after five in the morning, closer to seven or eight. That's very unusual.

The second thing he notices is that he's on his back, which he thought he'd gotten better at avoiding - and he's halfway tensed in anticipation of the pain before he notices the third thing, which is that there is no pain.

His back doesn't hurt, not even in the dull aching way that afflicts him even when he hasn't agitated the scars by sleeping on them. No physical pain at all. Wangji usually only gets such relief in dreams; his dreams preoccupy themselves with other hurts.

But he isn't dreaming.

Permalink

He sits upright (it still doesn't hurt) and opens his eyes.

He's in his bed in the Jingshi, exactly where he would expect to be, but some things are off - his hairpiece isn't on the small table where he rests it before bed, the wall hangings have changed, A-Yuan's art isn't cluttered over the desk the way he still often leaves it...

Wangji dresses quickly. Finds a different hairpiece in his drawers; these ones are familiar to him, from when he was younger. Straightens his robes, takes his sword, walks out into the sunlight to find his brother and his son.

Permalink

He finds his brother first, looking... young, and unusually well slept. Xichen smiles softly when he seems him.

"Wangji, don't you want to wear your student robes?"

Permalink

His what.

Permalink

"To match the other students? There's still time for you to change before the ceremony."

Permalink

Permalink

He puts a hand light on his shoulder. "Are you nervous? There's no reason to be. You know as well as I do how strong you are in your studies.

 

Or are you nervous about... the other students? The students are nice. I don't think they are all such troublemakers, Wangji."

Permalink

Such troublemakers as -

 

 

He needs to go to the library. He needs to go to the library right now, there isn't time, this doesn't make any sense - he doesn't have time to figure out how this is possible (which it shouldn't be) or real (which is impossible not to doubt), has to change into the proper robes or he might miss -

"I will change. Thank you, Zewu Jun."

Permalink

"I will see you there."

Wangji is even more nervous than he was expecting. Xichen hopes he gives the other kids a chance; he knows Wangji can make good friends with enough patience.

Permalink

In yet another room in the Cloud Recesses, Jiang Cheng wakes up. The last thing he remembers, he was in Lotus Pier.  

Had there been some kind of emergency that had brought him out here?  He wasn't wounded.  Zidian, Purple Lightning, wasn't on his wrist as it always was even in sleep.  Had he taken it off?  He checks nearby.  His sword is there.  The clothing prepared beside it are student's robes.

Permalink

A knock comes from the door.  "Brother?  Are you awake?"

Permalink

That voice.  

He leaps out of the bed to open the door.  Then stares.

Permalink

"What's wrong, A-Cheng?"

She looks him over, then takes him by the arm to somewhere where he can sit down.  They need to get ready for the salute ceremony, but obviously this is more important.

Total: 535
Posts Per Page: