By the hands of the Gods, you have been plucked from your time and from your world, dropped into the box.
Only the box is a world of its own.
We are a mass crossover based on the concept of Pandora's Box. Characters from nearly any fandom can be played here. Because of the endless character possibilities, we are canon only here at Pandora. Take a peek at our rules and plot information before starting your new life in Pandora.
The house was quiet. Silent. Deathly so, one may have said, but it didn't particularly leave Hua Cheng feeling in any way unnerved. He needed a place to stay, a roof over his head for a bit of time as he gathered his bearings, as he remembered how to breathe, which somehow felt ironic given he didn't need to breathe. And yet, despite his cool exterior, there was a fury inside. He was furious. Furious with the gods who ruled this realm, furious that he could not simply burst into the heavenly court and challenge the gods himself the same way that he once had. He was furious that there seemed to be no heavenly court to burst into, nothing of the sort he could access.
Perhaps he would simply burn all of Pandora to the ground instead.
But he hadn't. He hadn't. The thought had crossed his mind and in all of his arrogance, he wondered just who there was out there to stop him, but he hadn't. If there was a way out, then it was here in this useless excuse for a world somewhere and if it was here, then he needed it to survive. Death. Deaths. Three of them, he had returned from. Thrice he had refused and refused and refused to move on if it meant never walking by Xie Lian's side again. And here he was now, trapped in the very prison which had torn them apart.
There was nowhere to go to blow off steam, no ghost city, no gambling hall where pathetic mortals came to throw away the lives of their beloveds should they be too afraid to have their limbs severed from their bodies were they to lose. No Paradise Manor to retire to in order to remind himself of all he had worked for and all that mattered so little. All he had was this house which existed in silence, and yet he was so certain he could feel a lingering energy here as he wandered through an untouched kitchen, running his fingers lightly over the sleek steel of a contraption he had never before in his life.
Movement caught Hua Cheng's attention and he turned slightly, glancing over his shoulder just as his form changed. Where there had once been one eye, the other covered with an eyepatch, there were now two. His form stood shorter, he looked younger, and his hair was tied in a loose and lopsided ponytail over his left shoulder. A thin smile lingered on the lips of the young man dressed in red as he turned to greet his new company.
Lethe was fine. Engaging ambience, lively denizens, and something new every day. But if he had to live in Lethe, on a semi-permanent basis without reprieve... he'd probably go stir crazy. He was never one to stay put, not without peppering his weeks with excursions of his choosing.
That somehow translated, this time, to establishing a home outside of home. So to speak. Nothing in Pandora quite passed for home, because home was wherever family was and Tyki was taking a compulsory break from family for the foreseeable future. And why spend time and mental energy moping over those absentee bastards when he could do whatever he wanted?
The house with steeply slanting gables at the border of Misty Hollow seemed as good of a start as any—primarily because of how rude the owner had been both to him and the lost little girl he'd been trying to return to her mother (successfully, in the end). Spitting at her feet just because the child had two horns protruding out of her temple was entirely unnecessary, and thus Tyki had made the decision that this was a man no one would miss.
And he was right.
With his teez well grown and double their number from the feast, he set off to find some extra furnishings to fix the place up. One thing led to another, the Undertaker ended up having him run another errand (very much reminiscent of the Earl, which made him lowkey wistful again, damn), and his return would be delayed for another few days.
When he did manage to make his way back, he was hauling numerous bags over the porch. New crockery for the kitchen, because the ones the old man left were kind of rusted and gross. Fake fruit for the table too, because every dining table should have fake fruit. His skin was light—retaining its human pallor, and his eyes a warm brown in the stead of frosted gold.
Stepping liberally through the front door, he registered the presence with a lean of his head, curiosity twinged with slight annoyance prickling at him, before his smile fell seamlessly into place. "Ah, good man, I wasn't expecting company. To what do I owe the pleasure?"
”Good man,” he repeated, seemingly amused by the notion at all. How could one simply assume that the other was good? It was just a courtesy, perhaps, but even then, Hua Cheng had existed long enough to know that the vast majority of the world was not filled with good men. It was filled with greedy men, violent men, manipulative men.
Hua Cheng did not consider himself by any means to be an exception either.
”I must say, you’re taking this intrusion extraordinarily well. Happen often? If so, I would perhaps consider alerting the authorities. Isn’t that what they do these days? Have the guard come running.” There was a purse of the lips as he turned to idly press down on the toaster’s lever, brows perking up with slightly surprise when it didn’t pop back up again.
"Ahaha, maybe I just don't enjoy conflict." The mild-mannered smile playing at his lips easily reached his eyes, and it wasn't entirely bullshit. Human Tyki liked this house, had placed a small amount of emotional investment into this house, had purchased pots and pans for this house. Human Tyki wasn't hankering for a squabble if it could be avoided, would rather be perfectly civil and hospitable. He wasn't a barbarian, and neither, for now it seemed, was this stranger.
He set the kitchenware onto the island and went about organizing today's shopping haul into manageable piles. This was nice.
"Besides, I don't even know what you're up to here. Could be for something totally reasonable, like — did you take a wrong turn on the road of life, or something?"
“You’re the sort of good man who likes to give a stranger a chance, even when the road of life has found them within the confines of your home,” he mused thoughtfully, his eyes still idly watching the toaster and the way the colors on the internal contraptions changed. ”How very understanding of you. Most wouldn’t have cared what I was up to. Most would have had a knife in my face, or worse, one of those--”
San Lang hesitated, the words lost to him as he looked up and then over to the man, narrowing his eyes a fraction.
”... Ah, guns. Shotguns, I think it was. Terrifying things. Loud things. I don’t like them very much.” Was he really terrified of them? Admittedly, there were few things that terrified Hua Cheng and shotguns were not on that list, whether they should have been or not. Perhaps his mind could have been changed should the day he encounter one come, but he didn’t expect so. His pride speaking, he supposed.
"No no, I'm just not into that sort of stuff." Hands freed, he rubbed at the back of his neck in a manner that was almost sheepish.
Also, Tyki preferred alternative methods of threatening behavior. Guns were banal. Widespread and boring. Interestingly, this man seemed to have hailed from a time that preceded human advancements in gunpowder — wait a second.
He snapped his fingers together, as though an idle, harmless thought had just dawned upon a mind who generally processed in very basic terms. "Hang on, didn't the Chinese basically invent gunpowder? You're Chinese, right? ... I guess you could be Korean..."
"Isn't that considered rude?" San Lang shot back, hardly missing a beat, although he didn't seem particularly bothered by the statement either. Few things truly bothered him in the grand scheme of things and when they did, well-- It was clear. This was trivial. A means of conversation, he supposed, and if anything, he found amusement in it all as a faint upward quirk pulled at the corner of his lips. "I suppose the whole of my presence here is a bit rude, though."
Suddenly, there was a pop from over his shoulder and almost uncharacteristically, San Lang stepped quickly away from the counter, whirling around as a sound hitched in his throat. Suddenly, he was staring daggers into the toaster, which was back to its original position again, the red of the mechanisms inside starting to fade again.
Clearing his throat, San Lang stood up straighter, glancing back toward Tyki as though trying to remain cool and calm in light of what had just happened. Small as it had been, it had been a moment out of his own control and there was something, well-- embarrassing about that. To admit that a little contraption of the future had given him a fright.
Fright was an overstatement.
"You can call me San Lang," he finally said. "What's for dinner?"
"I'm not wise to that sort of thing," Tyki amiably returned, waving a hand by way of cheerful apology.
When the toast unexpectedly popped, his brows hiked toward his hairline. He snapped his fingers together, an "Ah!" escaping his lips. "That's called a toaster, and it makes—get this—toast. Pretty cool, huh?" There was genuine delight dancing in his features for a solid instant, before he figured that he ought to return to organizing the remainder of his shopping trip.
The sound of rustling bags resumed in the kitchen. He hummed thoughtfully as he loaded some brand spankin' new cookware into the nearby cabinetry. "I kinda bought a salmon that I was gonna eat... raw..." He trailed off, nudging the cabinet doors shut. "Anyway, I'm Tyki. Nice to meetcha."
The genuine delight that found its way onto the man's face was a strong contrast to the total nonchalance that had been there before, and it surprised him. Made him wonder, really, whether or not he was similarly from a time that had yet to provide contraptions like the toaster he described. "How terribly creative," San Lang found himself murmuring half-heartedly, a huff of something that very nearly resembled amusement leaving his lips as he glanced back toward the device with an arched brow. He supposed humanity did often need things quite literally spelled out for them. Sometimes it was a miracle if they could count to ten.
By the time the man went back to rustling around the kitchen with his bags as he put away the fruit of his shopping spree, San Lang was already sat at the table, watching him idly with his chin propped against his knuckles as he leaned casually into the wood of the table. And then he pulled a face. "Is this preference, Tyki, or simple laziness? There are certainly worse ways to eat a fish, but there are better ways as well. Or perhaps I've eaten too much salmon in my time," he mused almost distractedly as his eyes swept distractedly across the room.
"Where is it you come from?" he suddenly asked, looking back. "Forgive me. I can't help my fascination with the sheer diversity roaming this land." In some ways, it was true. In most ways, he simply wished to learn. Learning was the only way he would leave this place. Learning was the only way he returned to Xie Lian's side.
A man resigned to loading the cupboards of a cozy home with food as though he anticipated a stay to last a long-run surely could not have been so concerned with leaving at all. A disappointment in San Lang's eyes, but perhaps he would surprise him and grow to be more useful than a night's meal.
The criticism, commentary, whatever it was earned Mr. San Lang a flat expression. "I wasn't expecting company." Exasperation, airy and dry, found its way into his voice. Though in all fairness, he doubted his evening plan would've been much different even with early notice.
"Portugal, but I've always considered myself a citizen of greater Europe," he replied indulgently nevertheless. And technically, that was true for this facet of himself.
And fortunately for Mr. San Lang, his evening plan was also flexible.
"If Your Highness protests... I always wanted to try ordering pizza." He pulled out the pink fillet of fish packaged in styrofoam and cling-wrap, still cold to the touch, as his human brown eyes blinked at it in contemplation.
Your Highness. Your Highness. For some reason, San Lang couldn't contain himself and the moment he lifted his gaze to meet Tyki's, he burst into a short fit of laughter. If he had tried to put into words the reason why, he wasn't certain he could have. Perhaps there was some irony in that fact that some considered him to be exactly that, or perhaps it was the fact that his disinterest in his prized salmon had offended him so. Whatever the case, he was finding amusement clouding what had thus far in Pandora been frustration.
"What on earth is a pizza?" he shot back as he laughter began to die down. If he weren't still in the moment, he may have regarded with something between curiosity and annoyance, turned off by the way the word felt on his tongue. A moment later, though, San Lang was waving a hand, taking a deep breath and letting out one last little chuckle. "You know what? Surprise me. A surprise sounds fun right now."
As fun as anything done while trapped in this miserable place could be.
Did he say something funny? Or was there something inherently funny about pizza? Talk about culture shock between the ages, the dimensions, the whatever.
Poking through his (very cool, very snazzy) phone ended up being more amusing than sitting around, waiting for the laughter to die down, so he was already slowly navigating through the PanPizza app with a single, inexperienced index finger (like how most grandmas would navigate their phones) when His Highness came back with a response.
"Nope," he remarked casually, once his laughter had died down. "Not a single one. When I mean surprise, I really do mean it." It was hard to have allergies when you were affectively dead, really, although San Lang's thoughts were hardly lingering on it as he leaned across the table slightly to eye the phone. "I have one, too. Took some getting used to, but, my, how far technology has come." There was a question in there, really, as he watched the other man, trying to determine how used to all of this he was. He could have been somebody born into the time of cell phones, or he might have been a bit more like him.
It was possible that the original world once had technology like this, before the Innocence destroyed it all seven millennia past. His memory of the finer details had never been as clear, and Tyki had never deigned to pay as much attention.
Road would've had a stronger recollection.
Still, it was not something to address with one he had just met, and from a different world altogether. "Absolutely. They were still running everything off steam engines where I come from," he provided musingly, with another quirk of a smile. A few single-fingered swipes later, and they had landed on the confirmation page.
As disinclined as San Lang may have been to show something akin to uncertainty or even that he was experiencing something new and fascinating, he couldn't seem to stop himself from getting to his feet to give himself a better look at what Tyki was looking at. His brows perked upward and a grin spread across his lips. "Fifteen minutes. And what does it do? Transport this order of pizza to our doorstep?"
Our. Our doorstep.
Apparently San Lang had begun to grow attached to this little kitchen.
He knocked back against the rest of his seat, posture turning into more of a sprawl as he tilted his head back. The phone was still on the table, counting the minutes away until, until—
"I believe it pings the restaurant through a series of invisible tubes, called the internet, which then takes the order and sends a deliveryman to the address." Spreading out a hand as he went through the semi-bullshit explanation.
The our wasn't missed either, despite the ease of his demeanor. A thoughtful hum drifted from his lips. It wasn't that big of a deal to him either way, but in accordance with the PanPizza confirmation page, they had some time to kill. "...Who the heck are you anyway, San Lang?"
In the land of the rising sun, he could be called San-san.
"Fascinating," he murmured absently, although he loosely wondered just how much truth there really was to that. In the end, he didn't particularly care. There were a great many wonders that a great many skills could achieve and, admittedly, if he wanted deliver a single carrot, an entire pizza, or an entire human being to the other side of the world with the use of a simple pair of dice, then he could do that. This was surely no different.
Tyki's question brought a smile to his lips as he sank back into his seat again, one leg slipping over the other. "Are you looking for my life story? It isn't a short one and I can't say I'm in the mood to tell it. But I will admit that I know the stench of death when I sense it," he admitted, and while he didn't mean that in the most literal of senses, it perhaps could have been interpreted that way just the same. The spiritual energy that lingered within these walls was vivid, and yet contradicted how almost cozy this little kitchen was as well as nonchalance of its owner. "It does make me wonder what happened here."
"You smell that?" Tyki sounded vaguely scandalized at the notion of actually perceiving the stench of death, well, everywhere.
There was a lot of death where he'd come from. It permeated the air, sinking into the earth for keeps from all manner of plague, illness, or the work of his own family. Not that anything truly mattered in that facsimile of a world.
"Yes, there was something rotting here. I got rid of it."
"Metaphorically, yes." His postured had straightened somewhat, but on his face was still that same look of ease — albeit this time equipped with a faint shrewdness that hadn't been there before. "Can it at least be confirmed that I'm not conversing with a regular, old human? Toss me some scraps here."