there was something about walking just beside the paths all over the nation of monstadt that helped the traveler get his mind settled. that did not mean he was happy. no, he was far from happy.
the journey he was on was grueling and so, so painful. there was so much work to be done, so many people he would meet in the future, and ... probably many deaths he would witness. it was all for his sister, though, whom he missed more than anything. she had been gone from his grasp for so long that he knew he couldn't give up.
none of that, though, made his long trek any easier. the journey still hurt him plenty. there were moments like the one that had recently passed, with venti and la signora. watching that unfold right before his eyes and being completely unable to do anything hurt the traveler deep in his core.
there was bound to be at least one awful occurence awaiting him in liyue, and he was far from ready. if he had the ability to see into the future, he would see the blood that would be spilled. see the work of someone who was worse than any portrayal of satan he had seen in his many years alive. he would see a god from many years past. see his own near death. see the sacrifice made by a woman with more money than she needed.
but he couldn't, and when the time came for those moments to occur, he would wish he could've. wish he could've warned himself, made it all less scary. made it hurt less.
until he got to liyue, the only real thing on his mind would end up being his sister. lumine invaded every single corner of his mind, spread her blessing of existence into every little crevice. as painful as always thinking about her was, he could never complain. it helped remind him what his goal was. helped him remember why he couldn't leave this world yet.
it really was painful, though. he tended to stray from the happy memories, leading him to the arguments. leading him to the breakdowns. leading him to everything the two of them had lost in many past years, in the many different worlds they had explored.
he was constantly plagued by nightmares, too. they originally weren't too bad, but somewhere along the line, the nightmares took a turn for the worst. they started out just as constant replays of that moment with the unknown god where he lost her, but eventually twisted down a different path. he would see her in battlefields pitted against him, see her having turned her back to him due to brainwashing and the like. he would see her demise, see her falling, or getting shot, or being executed. sometimes he would even have nightmares where he would get her back and they would make a move to leave the world for the next, and he would be killed.
no matter what the nightmare was, he always woke up in a cold sweat, more often than not with tears mixing in as well.
the grass made soft crunching noises under his feet, the patter of the rain only making those noises softer and squishier. he had been walking in the rain for a while now, too lost in his thoughts to register much of anything besides the rain. he was easily soaked by now, but he couldn't bring himself to care.
today had been especially rough. not because anything went inherently wrong, but because he had been questioned about his sister again. they were the same questions as usual ; when did you last see her ? what did the unknown god look like ? how exactly did she encase your sister ?
and then there were the other questions ; what was your sister like ? what did she look like ? was she pretty ? was she the real adventurer of the two of you ?
that last question ... it hurt. it hurt so much more than it had to, because the answer was yes. she was always more adamant to explore new worlds, and he would never leave her side. he didn't hate adventuring, no, but he would definitely prefer to find somewhere they could settle down. he was always secretly hoping lumine would get so attached to a world they visited that she asked if they could stay.
part of him wants to believe that this could've been the world she got attached to. maybe .. if they were together right now, they could prepare to settle down here.
that wouldn't be happening, though. not right now, and possibly never.
... he could still dream.
he took a moment to pause his steps, tip his head back to look up, and just allow the rain to drown his face. he allowed the rain to cover up the tear tracks.
it was so hard, continuing on without his wings. it was even harder continuing on without lumine. he was stripped of everything by that unknown god, and it hurt more than anything in the world. he was stuck unable to fly as freely as he used to, unable to leave this world until he regained his powers, and unable to see his sister. it felt like he was alone, even with paimon constantly at his side.
everything was hard, and not knowing where his sister was made it so much worse. he didn't have her here to comfort him in the bad moments, or to cheer him up when the journey got too hard. he didn't have her here to tease him when his gaze would linger on someone they met along the way, or to hug him close and whisper words of approval when he got shy rambling about a crush. he didn't have her here to squeeze his hand when they were forced to witness a death, or to cry with him when they were unable to save someone.
she wasn't here, and he couldn't stop reminding himself that. he would see a flower or something of the like along the way, and his mind would wander. he'd think things such as, ' would lumine like this ? ' or ' would lumine enjoy them ? ' sometimes he would even question if lumine would approve of the crushes he had inevitably gained along the way.
which ... crushes were a normal thing on their journey. they both tried to avoid relationships, since they would just leave that world too, but they never stopped the feelings they felt. they both understood it was natural, and supported each other no matter who they liked.
lumine ... would she approve of the two he had his eyes on this time ? she would, right ? she always did. of course, she expressed when she didn't really like the person his crush was on, as did he, but neither of them ever disapproved of the other's crushes or talked down about that person.
... he missed her.
it was clear when he eventually fell to his knees that he missed her.
it was clear in how he buried his face in the grass and nearly screamed from crying that he missed her.
it was clear in how his entire body shook as if everything were finally crashing down around him that he missed her.
he missed her. he missed her. he miss her so much, more than he had ever missed anything.
" please come back .. "
his body was racked with sobs. sobs that would be lost to the wind, but not to whom guides it. there was only one living soul to witness this moment, and he chose to leave by this point. he would not disrupt the traveler's grief. he knew that this was a needed. a moment where the traveler, who always took on every burden and helped anyone who needed it, no matter what, got the chance to let out everything he was feeling was absolutely necessary, and he would not interrupt it.