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.
Never since he has begun to work at this sanctuary has Zhongli been blessed with quite so many visitors. The solitude is, of course, welcome and something that he is more than simply used to. Six thousand years is certainly a long time to watch the world go by, after all, which is perhaps exactly the reason he feels such a sense of joy at the prospect of guests. And most frequent as been the Traveler, herself, which is understandable given her new role as a hatchlings mother.
She was sweet as could be with Blossom and Zhongli had known immediately that to give her both that sense of home and companionship had been the right thing to do. He had seen the attachment immediately and, days later, it was certainly no less.
"You're welcome here as often as you like, Lumine. I hope you realize that," he tells her as they sit once again by the glistening water of the lake, settled at a small table in that picturesque spot there in the sanctuary. "I find myself here more often than not and while I was fortunate for a short while to have company in the form of a very old friend, my fortune was spent quickly. The company is, as you may have already concluded ... nice."
Yes, it was true... that Lumine could find a companion in her new little friend would serve to anchor her to the world in a way she could cope with. She'd obviously not appeared in Pandora expecting to be suddenly thrust into what one could only describe as parenthood, she finds herself taking to the idea with ease. Dragons are, of course, not easy to care for but she revels in the challenge and the triumph it will bring.
Blossom naps peacefully in Lumine's lap after a long day of playing and chasing and hunting leaves. She hasn't yet passed the stage of being a hatchling and may not pass that stage for a while, but every day she grows a little bigger. It won't be long before Lumine can no longer hold or carry her, or comfortably allow her to lay in her lap.
What a day that will be...
Lumine lets her fingers glide gently over the dragon's icy blue scales as she mulls over the archon's words. She has known she would be welcome, if only because Zhongli does not seem the type to chase people away, and the fact he so readily invited her for wine and snacks and offered her a roof to sleep under... he is immensely generous, even when he does not know he shouldn't be.
"It's important to cherish the things we love while we have them," she says quietly, focusing hard on Blossom, "because you never know when they might be taken away from you."
In a way, she feels as though she took her brother for granted. She expected he'd always be there, and she expected they would never meet a foe so powerful that they could not overcome it together. She'd been so, so wrong...
"I hope the time we get to spend together remains this wonderful, Zhongli," she says. She'd raise another glass in a toast to the potential of a long, strong friendship, but alas. "I'll be here as often as needed. In fact, should you need any help here..."
The Vales were homely enough for Ganyu, and her awakening from a dream-like nap among a cold field had alarmed her for but a moment, before she'd been seeking answers. Cascade Bay had found her somewhere to rest her head without the worry of being attacked as well as some unexpected answers. She'd asked around about people knowing anything about those using visions, Ganyu doing her best to describe them before she'd ended up having to just... show the people what she had been trying to get across.
It had led her to the Spiritledge Dragon Reservation, wisps of promises to answers, people like here, leading the Qilin to where she was now. She'd seen the signs on her way in, warning her about the dragons about, letting her know that if she wanted to, she could turn back and it was likely advised considering what the reservation was for. Dragons didn't frighten Ganyu, they were common where she came from and she revered one above all - Rex Lapis.
Or she had, until he'd gone and left all of Liyue behind.
A dragon flew overhead as Ganyu was sinking into such thoughts, frowning to herself until she saw the pretty shades on the scales, glinting in the light and reflecting many a colour. It made her smile slightly as she continued, hearing voices when the wind stirred up by the dragon's large wings, following the sound with increasing haste. There were two voices, two she thought she recognised and she did, spotting them up ahead though she stopped herself from getting any closer.
She had a feeling, a gut feeling, to just listen to them and stay hidden out of sight for now, her lips pressed together as she dared not breathe any louder than she was. Zhongli and Lumine... what a joy to know more people were in this world that she knew. Did they know if others were here? Had they given up on the idea of leaving? Finding a way home? Needing answers, Ganyu tipped her head toward the pair as she listened, eyeing the both of them in their pretty little keep, enjoying one another's company.
✦ ― no journeys without endings, no meetings without partings
Easily, Zhongli is able to sense something there in her words. Cherish the things we love. It has nothing to do with time, and yet the time that he has spent in Teyvat, the many thousands of years, seem to describe such a thing perfectly as though to mirror. During his days as the might Rex Lapis, he had been ruthless. Boorish, brutish, as a certain anemo god had described more times than just one. Cold, and while he could still come off in such a way these days, it was less the rage of a god and more the odd, slightly off balance grace of a being who had yet to understand how to fully blend in with society. He stands too tall, too stiffly, speaks with a matter of factness and even a bluntness that is very rarely understood. And yet he's more gentle. He's more reminiscent.
There are people he has lost. There are people he misses. There are people whose coarse has been run, be it a natural mortal course or the cruel brutalities of war. Zhongli feels it more now than he ever has before.
Perhaps that's why he sees something of an old wisdom in Lumine at times, young as she is, bright as she is. She's a vivid contrast to everything that he is, and yet the things that she says are sometimes wise beyond her years.
"Well, I do fear this sanctuary may grow lonely in the absence of our bright-eyed bard," he says, although he is quick to move the conversation past the mention of an old friend they would both share a knowledge of and instead focused on Lumine herself. "I should be so lucky for your assistance." A faint smile finding its way to the corners of his lips, Zhongli chuckles lightly and lifts his own glass to join the toast, dipping his gaze respectfully. "To a pleasant stay in Pandora. It is perhaps not the sabbatical Rex Lapis anticipated, but far is it from unwelcome."
He pauses. Freezes, even, his gaze lingering on Lumine, but his focus has shifted elsewhere, the stone beneath his feet calling out to him, calling out in light of the presence of another and while Zhongli cannot possibly know just who this another is, the knowledge that they are being watched leaves him unsettled. Looking away from his friend, Zhongli places his glass down and rises to his feet, turning in a circle, amber gaze peeled for signs of another.
Bright eyed bard? Hmm, there was perhaps one person Ganyu could think of who this description fitted, but it wasn't what she was interested in. Instead she was alarmed by how the pair were talking, especially Zhongli. The way he spoke about Rex Lapis suggested that he knew the archon personally, did he? Ganyu had always had a strange feeling when he'd been around Zhongli before, as if there was far more to the man than he ever tired to let on.
Gasping softly as she saw the man stand up, the Qilin wondered if she had been found out already, before she could even hear more about their discussion. Guilt weighed on her shoulders because she knew she shouldn't have been listening to it in the first place, she was ashamed, but she was desperate enough to cling on any thread of hope for her archon - especially if it was waved in front of her face like this.
Inhaling deeply, Ganyu steadied herself before she curled her hands into small fists at her sides, a look of determination washing over her features. Stepping out from where she'd been hiding, the Qilin strode up to the pair, bowing her head a little before looking between them and speaking. "Traveler, it has been some time." She greeted kindly enough, though there was something tight and clipped about her tone, no doubt from the stress he was now feeling.
Turning her gaze on Zhongli, the woman looked close to tears as she spoke. "Zhongli, I don't mean to be rude but- What did you mean, about Rex Lapis? You talk... as if he-" Unable to finish her sentence just yet, she looked briefly toward Lumine before her hands, wringing them together and then placing them over her heart as she tried again. "As if he is still with the living. What did you mean? Please- If you know anything I'm... I'd appreciate it."
(Wasn't sure if this was waiting on me but it's been a while so I posted anyway! Lmk if anything needs changing ;; )
✦ ― no journeys without endings, no meetings without partings
Far from his expectations is the appearance of yet another familiar face from the past, and one that went back a great deal further than his dealings with the Traveler at his side. Ganyu. A faithful servant of Rex Lapis, and the very moment she steps out, the very moments she begins to stutter those words, Zhongli understands exactly where it is he has gone wrong. But he doesn't speak yet, allowing her to voice her thoughts, her hesitations, her vulnerabilities before the pair. Lips part and while he doesn't look at Lumine, a part of him is almost self-consciously aware of just how ... aware she is.
Had he mistepped? Had he been wrong to go silently? Of course, Rex Lapis' plan would hardly have worked had he been quite so informative. He would not have been truly privy to peace or silence were his fellow Adepti aware of his existence, and yet seeing Ganyu like this now.
Zhongli supposed it tugged at his heartstrings in the way it may have tugged at Guizhong's once upon a time in history.
"Ganyu," he eventually whispers, dipping his head politely, although in some manner, it's a tactic to buy himself time while he mulls over the situation. A Rex Lapis of the past would have been so hesitant or in tune with things like emotion, and yet he had long since walked amongst humanity and learned what it was like, what it felt like, to be just a little bit more human. "Would you take a seat?" Zhongli steps aside, gesturing toward the small table he and Lumine had been sharing, a third stone seat readily available. "Or perhaps we might have a word over lunch somewhere with more tasteful a menu than I'm able to provide."
Something crosses the Archon's features, though, as he turns his gaze toward Lumine briefly before looking back. "I won't insult you by refusing you, Ganyu. But if you will indulge me for a moment, I find sensitive topics easier to handle over a wholesome meal."
i have zero idea if we have a posting order,
but i hope this is ok! <3
She wants to joke about considering this a vacation. A very long, extended vacation. Mention of Venti makes her ache for his company. He is such a... positive soul. Full of optimism and wonder. Something this world needs more of, she suspects. Something they all need more of.
But just as she's about to take a sip and let the quiet take hold, a familiar voice makes itself known. Turning towards it the traveler's face brightens considerably. It is both a blessing and a curse to be stuck in this world so far from what everyone considers to be home, but perhaps there can be solace found in each other.
They have been ripped from their worlds and planted on this one, to support each other. Hopefully. "Ganyu!" Lumine greets, standing and waving, "I had no idea you were here!"
But she has... no intruded, but come into a conversation at a time that is not exactly fortunate. It is up to Zhongli to salvage it. She sees what his 'death' has caused this adeptus to feel, the way her voice waves and her hands anxiously wring. When Lumine sits again, she lets the former archon take the reins of the conversation, but nods when he offers the pair a meal. "You know I don't say 'no' to food. Do you have somewhere in mind?"
Food? The mere idea of trying to eat just then, even one of her favourite flowers, made Ganyu feel sick to her stomach. Shaking her head the adeptus hated the idea of coming across as rude to either of the people in front of her, especially the traveler whom she felt indebted to for helping bring safety to Liyue once more. But to Mr Zhongli? If what she had heard confirmed her thoughts, then there was a lot of hurt for her to overcome, something even she was unsure she'd be able to do alone.
But would anyone else understand how she felt quite like this?
There was perhaps one, but she wasn't exactly friends with him. Realising she hadn't spoken, Ganyu curled her gloved hands up into small fists at her sides, her frame beginning to shake despite her hardest attempts to stop herself from doing so. "I do not mean to be rude or dismissive, but I couldn't imagine eating at a time like this. Not right now." Her Archon might not be dead at all, but something told Ganyu her grieving since then would not have been for nothing if Rex Lapis had then taken to hiding himself away.
Even from his most loyal servants.
Or had it just been her?
"Please-" She began again, tears in her violet eyes while a breeze blew over the trio, though the adeptus didn't feel the cold from it. Instead she felt frozen over ironically, rooted to the spot should her instincts come to fruition. "If the things I've done in service over the years, even once my contract ended- ...If they ever meant anything you'll grant me this one act of clemency and tell me the truth, not delay it over waited meals and bated breathes." Not many people got to see Ganyu like this, it was unusual for the Qilin to even be so stubborn on any matter, but this was the most important one she'd had to face in her life so far. She wasn't going anywhere.
✦ ― no journeys without endings, no meetings without partings
There is the hope that perhaps Ganyu will say yes, will humor him, if not for the opportunity to gather his thoughts and consider what was to be said, but there is just as easily the expectation that she won't say yes, that the desperation she clearly feels in light of one single mention of Rex Lapis, the context of which could have changed everything for her. Almost predictably, she refuses him in her own polite way and he feels his heart sink. In all of Ganyu's gentleness, a part of him is reminded of his close friend of the past, the gentleness of a woman he had once loved, her nature having rubbed off on his heart of stone even after her death.
Were he to face Guizhong now, what would she have said?
"... Very well," Zhongli eventually whispers, dipping his head politely. He cannot refuse her. He cannot leave truths unspoken lest he watch her heart break. "Ganyu, your Archon walks the earth still, although be it far from him to call himself such anymore. Be it far from ... me to call myself such anymore." There's a light furrow to the brow as he silently acknowledges he and Rex Lapis as the same entity, something he does not often do, as though Morax is a ruthless creature of the distant past, as though Zhongli is something entirely different.
And yet, the way that he carries himself has always been far from the likes of humanity. He is an Adeptus. He is an Archon. Title or none, it will never be something left behind in its entirety.
This is not a conversation Lumine should be a part of. This is something to be discussed between residents of their own world, who have dwelt and worked together longer than she has been alive. Ganyu has seen and suffered much and it was clear even back in Teyvat that the loss of Rex Lapis weighed heavily.
She'd been interested in food, but Lumine now realizes that trying to move the conversation elsewhere was not in the best interests of the adeptus.
She sits quietly and listens. This is something the two of them need to handle and she has no right to interfere - not yet.
Not until they have come to an accord and, even emotional, the three can spend time laughing again as though this deep and heavy conversation changed nothing.
Ganyu felt the strength leave her body when Zhongli spoke, caught between heartbreak and reverence at her archon being alive and well - he was here. Lifting her gloved hands to her mouth, the Qilin let out a soft gasp, it sounded ragged like her breathing did for a moment, fresh tears filling her violet-field eyes. Taking half a step forward she reached one of her hands out, though soon stopped herself and pulled it back, the woman trembling like a leaf as she looked between Zhongli and Lumine.
"...You knew." She pointed out, breathed the words as yes, she realised now the woman did seem to know of this as she was not shocked by such a revelation. All this time Rex Lapis had never really left his people of Liyue, working for them and he'd even been around the traveler to help save the harbour and its inhabitants once more. It begged the question, who else knew?
Bowing her face fully into her hands, the Qilin cried against her gloved palms, shoulders hunched upward toward her ears as she seemed to curl in on herself. It was perhaps like watching a glaze lily say goodbye to the moon in which it blossomed and folded itself inward, protecting itself from the harsh sun. Ganyu was much the same, and it was a wonder to see how someone so brave and strong, who no task could never be too much for, seemed to just recoil on herself.
Moments passed before the adeptus lifted her face. Though there was no anger, make no mistake of thinking she had forgiven for the deception, but instead there was a watery smile tugging at her lips. "I apologise, that was very unbecoming of me." Ganyu apologised, brushing at her cheeks with her fingertips before she looked up, the heel of her palm pushing her skin up a bit and making it hard for her to see as she tried to stem her tears, her emotions.
"I shan't ask you why you did what you did. Understanding it or what you did... I fear it would make no change, best not for me to know." Of course she wanted to know why. Immediately Ganyu had turned to herself for faults, wondering if she had not served the Geo Archon well enough that he dismissed her and the others who worked their contracts in his name, in his honour. There was no point in letting it be known how much she would come to despise herself for such assumptions. Instead the woman bowed her head before she spoke, still bowing and not daring to look up.
"But blessed is the land you walk on, no matter the world or the people it is among. Though I must apologise for you will forever be, to me in my truest of hearts, Rex Lapis."
✦ ― no journeys without endings, no meetings without partings
There were a great many things which had slipped past him when he had made his decision, a decision which would lead to his eventual retirement so long as the people of Liyue proved as strong and as self-sufficient as he had been so certain they were. There were a great many things he had overlooked, things that surely any mortal with even a bit of empathy would have considered. How would his faithful followers have reacted to his death, be it an unfortunate murder or a choice, a pre-ordained event as the people had come to see it?
How, as he watched Ganyu weep before him, could he not have seen this coming?
She tugs at his heartstrings in a way that none would have in his past. Once upon a time, Rex Lapis had truly held a heart of stone. Guizhong had softened him and, truth be told, he didn't think he would have had it any other way. As he would have in the past, he allowed her emotions to seep out and he allowed her a moment to regain her composure, but where he would once have dipped his head and whisked away to do Archon business that made no difference to him anymore, Zhongli stepped forward instead, moving to close the distance between he and one of his most devoted.
"You have served me longer than any other, Ganyu," he reminds her, his gloved hands reaching out to take hers, gently urging her to lift her gaze to meet his. "And you have done so ever faithfully. If I, to you, must be Rex Lapis in your truest of hearts, then I would be honored to be so still, but in death, whether I walk this earth or the last or even the next, you are no longer bound to me by contract."
Putting this out to announce we'll be having a Moon Destruction Album release coming out the day of the big boom, come pick up a physical album at your local record store or download it off starknet...or just steal I ain't a cop.
basically for those who don't wanna click on the spoiler in my previous status, the short version is that I'll be taking a weeklong (possibly longer or shorter) break from posting and I'm really sorry if you're waiting on me