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Dec 02, 2022 1:35 AM
A different Wei Wuxian lands in Lotus Pier
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He looks with interest toward the privacy talisman now that he knows it’s alternate universe magic. Even he isn’t going to be able to tell what it does from all the way over here though. Maybe he can take a look at it later, assuming other Jiang Cheng leaves it here. Also assuming other Jiang Cheng doesn’t think the leaving the room and disobeying-a-direct-order-and-warning combo warrants getting out Zidian and leaving him unable to walk unaided for a bit.

Time for lectures, yep. …Is other Jiang Cheng not going to make him stand properly or kneel for the lecture?

Several sentences in, this lecture turns out to have different content than he was expecting this lecture to have.

Other him did what to Wen Ning?? Other him led a prison break?? (Other him led a prison break, and other Jiang Cheng is letting him and the prison broken people just hang out in some other place, and snuck in to visit him, and there’s a plan involved Jiang Cheng says ‘we’ about(!)?(!?)) 

Prostrate himself in front of the whole world?

(And other Shijie still married the peacock, why couldn’t that be differentAnd other him is going to have to accept help from the peacock, now that’s a horrible fate.)

…he did not actually mean to cause other Jiang Cheng (or other House Jiang) real political problems.

...does that mean he needs to change plans for what he was about to do? (If he was getting a dom lecture on being teleported to alternate universes, they would totally tell him he should tell other Jiang Cheng everything right now. He was not going to do that. First of all, he didn't know enough yet (including which option was more likely to cause other Jiang Cheng to lock him in his rooms and not let him out), and sort of second of all 'about to be punished for disobeying direct orders' is a terrible time to try to bring up 'sir really I'm from another universe'. And if he did tell other Jiang Cheng this him would still have disobeyed the direct order so it's not like he'd get out of punishment. Might as well get it over with!)

- No, he's fine. He wouldn't have thought he'd be getting an impulse to tell other Jiang Cheng after all. But turns out knowing that other Jiang Cheng is going along with other him doing a prison break will do that! He still shouldn't though, should find out more first. And if he does tell him he'll still have done what he did, and it might make other Jiang Cheng feel better if he's already punished him.

He looks down at the table. "I'm sorry, sir." (Jiang Cheng may or may not notice it sounds different than the previous time he said it). "I should have been more careful."

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Wei Wuxian is listening.  Which is very strange and somehow only makes him more uneasy. 

"What were you doing on the roof?  You'd better be finished with it.  Can I leave you alone for long enough to fix the problems you've been causing?"

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"Yes, sir." He had absolutely been planning to sneak and/or break out after Jiang Cheng left again if he could. But that was when he'd thought Jiang Cheng was having some important dom party and didn't want him interrupting or something like that. "I'm sorry for causing problems, sir."

He takes off his sash and ties his wrist to one of the table legs. (Which won't do anything, the table isn't bolted down or heavy and he can untie it more easily than that. But, statement of intent.)

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That is a very weird thing to do!  Strangely, though, Jiang Cheng finds it comforting.  A physical mark of being tied to Lotus Pier even if it is easy to break.  Either way, if Wei Wuxian wants to tie himself to furniture that is... not disastrous?  Certainly better than some of the things he could choose to do with his time.  Maybe if he forgets and goes to leave it will stop him in confusion trying to remember how it happened. 

He pokes through Wei Wuxian's desk.  Most of the writing supplies are there, but not the water for mixing the ink with.  Maybe Wei Wuxian will stay put for a while if he can draw.

Jiang Cheng leaves with the empty jar, clearly intending to fill it.

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He's not sure where other Jiang Cheng is going. Is going to guess 'to get whatever other Jiang Cheng plans to punish him with', since wanting him to stay in this room and not leave precludes sending him off for it. 

He doesn't have an idea what the jar's for - is there some local punishment involving jars? - but, he'll find out when other Jiang Cheng gets back, won't he.

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Jiang Cheng gets water from the large barrel in the kitchen.  And a stack of extra candles, since he didn't check for those.  Brings them back and puts them on the desk.

He is torn between multiple actions.  He wants to sit down and demand that Wei Wuxian explain his plans immediately, so they can maybe be on the same page.  But if anyone is currently flying out to tell Jin Guangshan, Jiang Cheng is going to have to find out now if he is to have any chance of chasing them down.  He needs to be in two places at once.  Or, better, have Wei Wuxian back working for him, so Wei Wuxian could go track down possible spies while Jiang Cheng... did whatever the second problem would be in that hypothetical since by definition it wouldn't be handling Wei Wuxian.  

"I'll be back in an hour or so.  Assuming that no one decides they have an emergency that needs my attention, so probably closer to three - I swear, none of the new disciples seem to have even heard of delegation before coming here.  It's infuriating! 

"Have you still been keeping late hours at the Burial Mounds?"

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This does not cause him to understand what the jar is for. (Is there soap in it? Is he supposed to rinse his mouth with it? He didn't even say anything! No, he did, that was earlier.) He's just going to wait for orders (and/or impatient snapping) on this one. ...He's going to hope the candles are for the same thing as the already burning candle, and not for some local punishment with candles.

Waiting for punishment sucks. He deserves it and he's not complaining. "Yes, sir. 

May the affairs be exact and prosperous for you sir!" Huh House Jiang has disciples here(?) "Ah, I'm sure they'll learn more with practice, sir?" Maybe they're all adult dom disciples. Not much more he can do about it. His brother does not like it when he gets overstepping about what his brother does with House Jiang, and he's not going to assume other Jiang Cheng will like it any better.

…Is other Jiang Cheng going to tell him off for staying up late in the place he lives after leading a prison break. Also, how does he answer that. "…Yes, sir." (Why is there a place called the Burial Mounds. Should he be worried about other him and people he broke out of prison (and Wen Ning?) living there? Other Jiang Cheng did at least make it sound like living there.)

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"At least you don't have the Lan sleep schedule, no matter how much you've been talking like them.  'May the affairs be exact and prosperous'?  And calling me 'sir' like you've forgotten my name," he mutters, rolling his eyes even though that last part hurts.  It's Wei Wuxian putting distance between them, like he's just some random rogue cultivator showing up.  As if Jiang Cheng would be going through all of this trouble if Wei Wuxian were instead an ex-member of any other sect.

"Try to occupy yourself quietly.  You have drawing supplies, or you can organize your things - no one can read your notes so they took the mess you left in here and put everything in a pile together.  Just don't go back onto the roof." 

Jiang Cheng goes to leave without waiting for a reply.

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...Right, they'd have different etiquette locutions here, because it's a different universe (and different provinces have different etiquette locutions). He's not going to guess the right ones, that's not how etiquette works. Also different what-you-call-which-doms rules? ...He can maybe guess that one?

"Sorry, Master Jiang." 

...Other Jiang Cheng isn't going to put him to stand at a wall or kneel on rocks or anything while he's away? Maybe he doesn't want to send someone to watch him and doesn't think he'll stay put on his own. Which, not like he can say that's wrong. He's learned by now that agreeing that he deserves to stand at a wall for a few hours doesn't very much help him be able to do it. (…Being in the same room with other-his notes would definitely make him worse at standing at a wall. But other Jiang Cheng doesn’t know about that part.) "Yes Master Jiang."

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Judging by Jiang Cheng's frown that isn't the right name either.  He leaves without further comment. 

At least his obvious bad mood will keep anyone from trying to bother him with petty complaints.

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He has a moment of what-did-he-do before he realizes the obvious thing. He can't keep guessing more, other Jiang Cheng will think he's doing it on purpose. (What other forms have a name in them, is he supposed to say Jiang Wanyin?) ...Other Jiang Cheng won't be back for a bit, he can deal with that later.

He unties himself from the table. ...Did other Jiang Cheng lock the door this time? (He's not going to go out, he's not even going to open the door. He just wants to know.)

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The door is not locked.  The door does have a physical lock, in the form of a simple hook which can be set over a protrusion on the wall to stop it from sliding open.  It isn't the kind that can be locked from the outside, nor can it keep someone inside.

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It’s really weird to order him so strongly to stay in the room, and not even lock him in it. Maybe other Jiang Cheng expects other him to magically pick locks, or kick through doors. He thinks his Jiang Cheng would still have locked it. But he knows other Jiang Cheng is different some ways.

He is having a really hard time wrapping his head around the fact that other him led a prison break and other Jiang Cheng is going with it. And not because the politics got violent and House Jiang threw in with the side that wants a new government, or the prison was across an unfriendly border. Other Jiang Cheng didn’t seen happy about whatever other him was doing. But he had made a plan with him.

As opposed to beating him half to death, chaining him to the foot of his bed, and calling the authorities so he could do it again in front of them as soon as he recovered enough that two halves wouldn’t add up to one. Which is about what he would expect, if he led a prison break and then ever got within literal or metaphorical distance of Jiang Cheng in the rest of his life.

Maybe other him’s notes will have something, or he’ll find a book in the room. First, though,

He checks his pockets, finds two pens and a pencil but no paper. Other Jiang Cheng mentioned drawing supplies, is there paper in the room?

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There is!  A small stack is visible as part of the drawing supplies on the desk.  A cabinet by the door in a similar design to the one in Jiang Cheng's sitting room will also have paper if he opens it up.  (Along with the non-edible components of a tea set and a folded towel, but anything that can go bad over time is missing.)

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…It’s probably a good thing he figured out the being in an alternate universe before he really looked around this room, because he thinks he might not have liked it when he thought he was in a historical reenactment village Jiang Cheng was keeping secret.

Haha, visible paper! He grabs some and starts scribbling down his best attempt at a charting of what he remembers of other Jiang Cheng’s jumping thing, and also the teleport. The former isn’t very good and the latter is basically different forms of question marks, but, that’s how you start!

Next up, he can’t leave the room but that leaves the whole room to him. Time to throw himself (ow, ankle) kind of limp around the room and touch at everything with his sense for power.

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Most removable magical objects have been removed.  Other Wei Wuxian took some of them.  The magically-imbued talisman ink does eventually go off and was taken away when they were cleaning out everything else with an expiration date.  A few, including Wei Wuxian's sword, were grabbed by Jiang Cheng and thrown at Wei Wuxian's face when the former went to visit the latter in the Burial Mounds for their staged confrontation. 

The clothing trunk contains two full sets of clothing, each with three layers of robes as well as trousers, shoes, socks, and belts.  The inner lining of the outermost robes has a protective array embroidered into them which will make them especially resistant to damage.  They're out of energy, but the array is still intact and able to be recharged.  A qiankun pouch has been forgotten at the bottom of the trunk, similarly drained and currently only able to hold something of its actual size, not much larger than an apple.

Under the wooden floor is a block of stone wider than Wei Wuxian is tall with an array inlaid into it.  It is receiving power from elsewhere but not currently active.  The full array is impossible to see without moving all of the furniture and removing the floor boards.  A segment accessible via trapdoor (not blatantly obvious but not hidden) has a rotating piece of stone that can be shifted to complete or disrupt the pattern of lines.  Depending on how well Wei Wuxian's sense of power works on local arrays, he may be able to tell that it's for heating the room.

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He can feel the residue of power in the robes and the pouch, but won't be able to make anything out of it. He copies the arrays out for cross-comparing with anything else, scribbling immediate ideas in the margins.

Here's an idea, he can change into other him's robes before other Jiang Cheng gets a close enough look at his clothes to notice more than that he doesn't like them. He's partway through pulling off his robe when his mind produces the fact that he hasn't seen any local subs, and has a good chance of getting the signifiers wrong somehow. But his current robes also can't possibly have the right signifiers. But his current robes are also not likely to have something that's likely to look like some other local signifier if arranged wrong. Ok, no changing clothes. Maybe that would just make other Jiang Cheng look at his current clothes more anyway. He fixes his robes, digs some more into the chest.

Since he's digging through clothing anyway, he'll check out the seams and other obvious parts like that. He can't remember much of the history of clothing, but he thinks he can spot a handsewn seam. Check out local belts for chances one way or the other that this place does the subs-wear-belts-they-get-punished-with version.

Ooh trapdoor! Trapdoor with giant artifact access! Oh hey artifact light switch thing! What a great feature for a magic system to have! ...He is not going to move all the furniture and remove the floor boards, no, bad idea Wei Ying, not doing that. Flipping the switch, also bad idea, not doing that either, no. He's not going to be able to tell what it's for right away, but that's also not going to stop him. He'll figure out the 'receiving power, not currently active' with only some crawling around over the floor and a few additions to the pile scattering-over-the-floor of notes. Figuring out what it's for will take longer and involve more paper, scraping up his hand trying to get it between the stone and the floor, and nearly dropping the candle trying to get a look there instead, but heating the room does end up as one of his top guesses. (Yes it would really help and be really cool to flip the switch, no he is not doing that.)

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All of the clothing is handmade from hand-dyed silk in black and red.  There continues to be no sign of modern technology here.  It makes the details even more impressive, even if Other Wei Wuxian's robes are less ostentatious and intricate than Jiang Cheng's outfit had been.  The belts don't look especially well optimized for use as punishment tools, though anything that can be picked up can be used to hit someone and they aren't likely to fall apart. 

Not turning on the heat means the room continues to be cold.  Not as cold as outside, but uncomfortable.

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Not House Jiang colors. He wonders if it's a uniform. Which would explain why other-him didn't take the clothes with him to should-that-name-be-concerning prison break destination. There's any grey area, especially if one includes hand straps, but it's not that hard to tell the difference between a belt that could be used to hand a whipping out and one that's probably not for that. He puts the clothing away neatly before going on. He'll find out at least one whatever-they-use-here just as soon as other Jiang Cheng is back unless it's Zidian, and guessing is not going to be one of his problems. 

Spending this much time thinking about room heating does cause even figuring-out-alternate-universe-power Wei Wuxian to notice that cold, yeah, that's something he's feeling. He could turn the artifact switch, and then he'd be able to check his guess and warm up! He can very easily imagine Lan Zhan's face if he has to explain that yes, he set himself on fire with an alternate magic intruder defense system but he really thought it was the heating system. Also for all he knows it lights up an artifact generator dashboard somewhere. Which technically wouldn't make him not quiet, but he's not trying to be technical he's trying to not cause House Jiang political problemsConveniently, this room also contains some low-magic-tech and switchless heat solutions. He wraps himself in some inner less fancy robes and the blanket off the bed. 

Checking out the alternate universe magic he has great justification to be touching, check. None of it set off alarms or felt like it was transmitting information to a creator or caught fire even though he didn't flip any switches, also check. Time to check out what other Jiang Cheng put on the wall!

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The privacy talisman has burned through its supply of magic and is now inert.  The complex lines and symbols are still there and able to be read, if one knows how to read them.  Privacy talismans are a specialized form of barrier talisman so it has some shared similarities with the array on the robes.  One section is set up to identify and link itself to the walls around a space.  Another part cancels out sounds attempting to pass through said walls.  Around the edges are additional components and details, safety features and other interactions.  They last a decent amount of time when the room is sealed but break quickly once a door opens and the movement of open air and solid objects passing overwhelms the fragile web.

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Aw, this one not being touchable anymore either, but - do they have paper artifacts here? Do they have single use paper artifacts here? He likes this magic system and he wants to know everything about single use paper artifacts. Could he make some? …Maybe at that point that just counts as a way of doing power manipulation? He can’t tell from here if the paper was premade. He wants to know everything either way.

He does not know how to read them (yet! He’s working on it!) He copies out this one too, cross compares to what he already has. It won’t help him know what anything means, especially without knowing what either of them were doing, but he notices the similarities. 

And, unless he’s missed something, that’s everything in the room he can use to get his own first uninfluenced alternate magic impression. Step two, where are other him’s notes? Any books he can see?

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Unfortunately there are no books on magic.  Most would have been the property of Yunmeng Jiang as a whole and returned to the library, and any books on acceptable cultivation owned by Wei Wuxian have been loaned to the library to help train the hundreds of new disciples. 

Wei Wuxian does have a private collection of poetry that has been left untouched.  They are joined on a shelf by one of the many, many copies of the Lan rules Wei Wuxian was forced to write, kept as a memento.  Somewhat better hidden (out of tradition rather than anyone forbidding it) are a few thin volumes of pornography.  It is the room of a young man, after all. 

Other Wei Wuxian's notes are on the desk, placed in a tidy but completely unsorted pile by whoever cleaned the place after Wei Wuxian left.

Some of the notes seem to refer to mundane things.  Shopping lists.  A few lists of what looks like people's names.  Page with lines like "35 degrees, 1.4 standard" and a picture of a rounded-corner trapezoid and the word "root", the meaning of which is not obvious without context.  Some math equations that were a bit too complicated to do entirely in his head, and a few scattered numbers with their units and uses missing.  Small snippets of poetry or jokes.  List of trees and their traits, some of which are then crossed out.

Many have doodles on them, where Wei Wuxian got distracted when writing.  One has a bunny nibbling at the bottom edge of an unfinished sentence and a little picture of Wei Wuxian being mad that there's a bunny eating his work.  There are quick sketches doing silly things - a Jiang Cheng chasing a chicken as big as he is, a tiny Lan Qiren looking disapproving at a patch of accidentally dripped ink.  

Some pictures, often but not always on their own pieces of paper, are more detailed.  A portrait of Lan Wangji, robes and ribbon and hair swirling around him as he spins dramatically, face intense.  Jiang Cheng, relaxed and cheerful and maybe 15 years old, riding on a sword like it's a skateboard.  Nie Huaisang, Wen Ning, Jiang Yanli, others both familiar and not.  

By far the most interesting and numerous are the notes on magic.  

Talismans!  The ones that Wei Wuxian was working on are very complicated ones with dozens of radicals and variables. 

This one in particular might be plans for a talisman for making things cold?  Maybe?  Or at least started out as one, and Wei Wuxian was trying to make it do something else.  Almost half of the original parts have been crossed out and new ones added next to them, and then some of those are crossed out and replaced with third options or described with tiny margin notes in opaque jargon. 

A few pages are reference copies for finished talismans.  Small notes in the margins helpfully list variations.  This talisman repels mosquitoes, but it's possible to add a line in a certain spot to instead draw them in.  This other one is an alarm that can go off at one of several possible triggers depending on which symbol is placed in the bottom center. 

Music!  Music that is very definitely magic, and very definitely for the flute, and may or may not be evil.  Sadly or thankfully, it doesn't look like "just repeat the notes and magic happens" is how demonic cultivation works.  From the way it's described it seems like the music is being used as a protective layer, like tongs which are manipulated to in turn manipulate a hot object.  Said hot-object-equivalent is a kind of energy given off by the dead, especially those who weren't given proper burial or whose graves were desecrated. 

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Aw no books on magic. And he can't even sneak out and look for some somewhere else. He'll figure something out! Maybe other Jiang Cheng will bring him books if he asks politely. (...And can figure out how to ask for the specific ones without being really suspicious). He'll figure it out!

He's curious about other him's poetry but he'll look at that later. He laughs when he sees the Lan rules, a sudden feeling of connection and right-at-home with his other self. Of course no version of him could get through being at Cloud Recesses without that. He wonders if the rules are the same but he can check that also later. Other him's pornography! Also curious, also later. He can save that for after punishment.

And here are other him's notes! He throws himself on the bed with the pile. If he was feeling like being organized, he could try to sort them before getting into reading in some kind of order. Which is to say, Wei Wuxian dives right in in whatever order he happens to see things or spot something he wants to look at immediately.

Shopping lists: good for seeing what sort of things this world has. People's names: possibly good for seeing who else this world has that he knows versus doesn't know, if the names are familiar at all. Math equations: he attempts to use them to guess at what math this world has. He has no idea why other him was interested in trees (or if trees are magic) but puzzles over it a little in case he can figure it out.

Aw bunny, he pets the little doodled bunny. The other Jiang Cheng doodle is a bit weird to see. Not that he hasn't drawn his own share of Jiang Cheng doodles that would not go great for him if his brother saw them! But - he can't quite put his finger on it. But, this Jiang Cheng does probably run around more than his does, what with the jumping. Lan Qiren! Of course Lan Qiren is looking disapprovingly at Wei Wuxian spilling ink around, some things can't change.

Lan Zhan!! He's so glad to see Lan Zhan!! He wants to meet other universe Lan Zhan. ...Do they really do that with swords here. He wants to ride on a sword. Shijie! And there's an other Nie Huaisang too. (...He's still worried about what other Jiang Cheng had thrown out about Wen Ning but he's not going to figure it out from a picture of him so he will think about that later.) He spends a little time trying to compare little Lan Qiren and Jiang Cheng and Shijie's robes and hair against Lan Zhan's and Nie Huaisang's and little other him's to see if he can figure out the local signifiers, but isn't surprised when he can't; other him isn't doing commercial illustration anymore than he does, no reason to be sure to draw those in.

 

And, magic! Complicated and assorted works in progress or pieces of the same are not exactly what most people would consider the best material for learning an otherworldly magic system, which isn't going to stop him at all. He takes more notes, traces over pieces with his finger, tries to make out the margin notes. (Other him does magic! The well of course he does and the delight for the other him mix up under his more momentary feelings as he makes his way through notes).

Reference copies for finished things are great and very useful for him. His own pile of notes grows some more. (Also, the artifacts before were suggestive but at this point it's basically certain that this world has desired-instructions type magic and Wei Wuxian is very excited about this). He does not try drawing out any not-notes paper artifacts and sticking them to a wall like other Jiang Cheng had, or try any other 'can he make this work' ideas coming to him. It probably wouldn't work, and if it did work that would be worse, no Wei Ying.

...That is. Not what he was expecting. (...Is that why Burial Mounds). Right, ok, energy-from-the-dead magic. Is all the magic like that? Do you need to not bury people properly nearby if you want to jump on a roof? What he was getting from his senses for power before didn't feel like that was happening, but how would he know, it's not like he has a basis for comparison.

He also doesn't try playing any of the music. Even though it wouldn't do anything directly and he could play very quietly. So much magic and he can't even try it out, this world is very unfair to him personally. Next time he gets randomly teleported he wants one of those worlds where he has to immediately do a magic tournament. He takes notes on the music, and does lift his flute to his lips, tracing out the finger motions in complete silence. 

Wei Wuxian is definitely going to be absorbed in this for long enough that unless Jiang Cheng was incredibly off in how long he'd be away, it'll take up the rest of the time before Jiang Cheng's return.

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In a deliberately non-rushed pace, Jiang Cheng checks the orders for cleaning.  It looks like the unused rooms aren't scheduled to be cleaned for another five days.  By then, Wei Wuxian will either be here officially or long gone.

Another sweep of the dining area (Lingering outside.  He doesn't want more questions or impertinent comments about extra dinners.)  There continue to be no rumors flying around.  The guards are questioned and everything seems normal.  That doesn't preclude people fleeing in secret by swimming under the ice, or sending variants of message talismans designed to not leave visible trails, or any other number of more covert things.  Jiang Cheng once again debates whether it might be safer to hide Wei Wuxian somewhere less likely to be searched if people show up later with accusations, but he can just imagine Wei Wuxian's reaction at being told to stay in Jiang Cheng's treasure vault. 

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Jiang Cheng returns. 

Slipping into the room without knocking is very rude but they are being sneaky.  Standing around outside until Wei Wuxian answers the door is not conducive to stealth.  He enters in complete silence and spends a minute watching Wei Wuxian from just inside the door.  Wei Wuxian is entirely absorbed in his notes and adding to the pile.  For a moment, he lets himself pretend that this is normal - that this is just another day like hundreds of others where Wei Wuxian is home and safe, like how they lived before.

Eventually he snaps out of it, and clears his throat.  "Well, you managed to avoid fucking up too badly."

 

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