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Jan 20, 2022 9:48 AM
A Magical Serg in His Imperial Majesty's Court
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It is the seventh day of the seventh moon, and His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of the Great Song Dynasty, Son of Heaven, Lord of Ten Thousand Years, Ruler of the Central Kingdom for 23 years is leading the rites with care. A festival centering women's weaving was a bit more fraught, right now, with Wei Wuxian's cultivators producing cloth by the square bu, which made it all the more important that it be celebrated properly. Wei Wuxian's innovations were moderately popular, though most parents were not yet willing to spend money on his educational methods. The children in the harem all benefitted from cultivation, now, of course: it would take a longer time to see the impact, but the emperor had every faith that it would ultimately spread, and that his grandson would inherit an empire with a military that could crush that of any other, and perhaps even withstand the cultivator clans.

The priest finished speaking and the emperor walked forward, alongside the wife he had chosen to accompany him. All was in accordance in heaven and earth when suddenly, as if across the magpie-bridge, he spotted...something.

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A semiconscious naked man falls from the sky. He is unreasonably tall, looks very foreign, and despite hitting the ground from an incredible height, seems completely physically unharmed.

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A moment passes. This is new. Then another. He adapts, and he proclaims. "Truly, today we are blessed! On this day, when the heavens let us meet them, we have received a visitor! Guards, bring him carefully to our guest quarters, and treat him as a dignitary from Heaven itself." More likely he should be treated as a dignitary from Wei Wuxian himself, which is not all that different from the emperor's perspective, except that the Heavens care more about justice and are less likely to impulsively react to any accidental harm. Still, he may truly be a heaven-sent visitor. But the ceremony is clearly over.

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"I'm a fucking what now?" he mumbles half-intelligibly into the ground.

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Thankfully, he is far enough away, most people sensibly drawing back, that nobody can overhear this. The guards come, using an empress' palanquin and treating him appropriately gently. Xia Zhi, having grown attuned to the emperor's needs over two years of daily attendance, informs him that this could be achieved with a combination of flight, invisibility, and chicken-feather fall effects. Each would individually mark the creator as a talisman master, though they are known from legends, and Wei Wuxian does not tell everyone in his immediate vicinity everything at all times. Still, it is unlikely: the only reason to even consider him is that anybody else wouldn't share and would ensure their own consciousness.

 

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If these people want to load him into a box and carry him out of their very important party, he supposes there are worse reactions they could be having. He doesn't protest.

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The soldiers are very gentle and very careful. A heaven-sent visitor deserves respect, and Wei Wuxian is even more likely to have an extreme reaction. It's a gentle ride, suitable for a woman who will complain if jolted at normal times. 

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Back at the palace, two messages are sent, though not in the emperor's own hand. This is too time-sensitive to wait on his careful and aging hands. Better to let younger scribes handle it, with him simply dictating. The first is to his Chief Cultivator, Nie Huaisang. Who will perhaps need a touch of pressure. But his message should be sent first.

"To the honorable chief cultivator,

We hope you enjoyed the recent performance of Romance of the Red Chamber, and found it inspiring.

Romance is nice and all, but being a good civil servant is also important. Of course I am paying attention.

On the recent festival, it appears that the heavens have reunited someone with the earth. We have so far interpreted this as a blessing, that he appeared on such an auspicious day, and landed from a great height and was yet unharmed.

Your guess is hopefully better than mine.

The whims of the heavens are ever-changing, and We would seek advice and counsel from our learned servants.

I am confused, and want you to send someone to sort it out.

We have also sent a letter to Wei Wuxian to inform him of this matter.

If you dither and do nothing, you will lose even more influence to this rival of yours.

Toasting your health with a smile,

I want sobriety, at least in function,

His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of the Great Song Dynasty, Son of Heaven, Ruler of the Central Kingdom"

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"To His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of the Great Song Dynasty, Son of Heaven, Ruler of the Central Kingdom:

Oh, I don't know, I don't know, I just don't know! I have never heard of someone falling from the sky before. What do you think I should do? You're so much more experienced in governance. And in the heavens, since you're the Son of them and have their Mandate. I don't know anything about any of this.

Maybe I should send someone? But everyone is so busy, and maybe it is a very auspicious person who fell from the sky. I don't know at all what I should do! Maybe I can ask Lan Sizhui or Jiang Cheng. They know a lot more about this kind of thing than I do. 

Romance of the Red Chamber was excellent. I will drink several toasts to your health.

Nie Huaisang, Chief Cultivator."

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There is no reply that will not be rude.

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"Wei Wuxian,

Your emperor requests your assistance with a curious matter. On today's festival, a man fell out of the sky, and yet landed unharmed, if unconscious. He appeared to appear out of nowhere.. 

Your counsel would be greatly appreciated.

We have, of course, included a gift for Lan Su."

Included is an elaborate puzzle, jade pieces intertangled in marvelous complexity and expense. If it is not enough to pay for Wei Wuxian's time, it is at least generous enough for him to send someone who will summon him if it turns out to be interesting.

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"Hello!

I'd love to check it out but I've got a ton of work. Song Lan is in town and is finally letting me poke at him to see if I can figure out the smiling issue, and there are the new trade routes to the Americas, and the baby is going through a colicky period and I'm up half the night with her, and I gotta carry out my marital vows and fuck my husband every day at least once. So you see that I've got no time to investigate your falling-person problem. 

But it does seem pretty cool, so I'm going to send Sizhui to investigate it. You'll love him, he's great, he's super into all that bowing and stuff. Perfect angel.  

Thanks for the gift, the kids are having a great time with it. The baby loves putting it in her mouth and that fact just about made Lan Qiren qi deviate."

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"To His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of the Great Song Dynasty, Son of Heaven, Ruler of the Central Kingdom:

Lan Qiren said that I should send Lan Sizhui to help with your problem because he's the heir to the Lan clan and the presumptive heir to the Wei sect and he knows a lot about things. I hope that's okay! I don't know if it would help. Do you think it would help?

Nie Huaisang, Chief Cultivator."

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Is he being rebuked for an inadequate gift? But he acknowledged that Lan Qiren found it valuable, and he said once that making Lan Qiren have a qi deviation was a plan, among "drink a lot" and "figure out a better kind of immortality before I die". Perhaps an indication that Wei Wuxian found it moderately valuable, but it was low enough that he would pursue his own plans as well? That would make sense with sending Lan Sizhui. Well, if Wei Wuxian wants Lan Sizhui here, than Lan Sizhui shall be here. Presumably Wei Wuxian, through means best known to himself, is aware of what the chief cultivator sent, or was going to send, and wanted more approval.

"Nie Huaisang, Chief Cultivator,

The aid and advice of Lan Sizhui will be greatly appreciated. We have little information about the cultivator clans, and are sadly unable to give more advice. If you wish more, we recommend directing your clerks to increase the precision of the reports that are sent to us: even We can only use the information provided to us by out loyal servants.

Your Emperor"

"Wei Wuxian,

We, of course, approve of your dedication to your household and fulfilling your vows. Of such piety is Our great kingdom built. We would be eager to hear any and all news of new trade routes so that we can authorize trading permits with the greatest haste possible.

Lan Sizhui will be welcomed in Our court.

With a smile,

Your Emperor"

Included in the second letter is a small cask of very fine Emperor's Smile. He doesn't wish to imply that he needs more, or that he is desperate, after all, so something small will be enough, and the jest seems fitting for Wei Wuxian.

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"I like this emperor. Can I make him live forever?"

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"No."

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While all these letters are going back and forth, the man who fell from the sky is recuperating. Persons assigned to provide for or interface with him may notice that he is direct to the point of rudeness, although he makes a cursory effort to phrase requests for things like food and clothing as requests rather than demands, and offers thanks when the requested items are provided. (If indeed they can provide such a thing as clothing for someone so very alarmingly tall.)

He is also absolutely, utterly, stubbornly incapable of taking a hint. After several days, repeated social pressure wears him down to the point where he will only say "no I'm not" the second time in any given interaction that someone refers to him as an auspicious heaven-sent visitor or anything of the sort. (The first time, he'll give a tired sigh.) That's as far as they can get him. He's got a story and he's sticking to it in every particular no matter how emphatically the people around him try to reinterpret it.

He says his name is Siran and that he is from very far away but, he must emphasize, not far away in an upward direction. Definitely not the heavens. Farther away than that. Much, much farther. If pressed on his origin he may begin to say some really disquieting things, but it is entirely possible that no one has yet pressed him on his origin.

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The man who fell from the sky is now as well as can be expected, and has been given time for him to think through his position, and while the emperor waited a little while in hopes that the letters would be useful, all he can do on that front is wait for Lan Sizhui. But it has never been this Emperor's way to merely wait, and besides, he follows the advice of the 36 Stratagems: in matters of great importance, never rely on merely one tactic. On an auspicious day when his schedule can be cleared, he arrives to meet this visitor, with only Xia Zhi and Jun Chen. Jun Chen knocks on the door, politely. This man is a guest, even if he denies being heaven-sent.

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