“It’s a wishing fountain,” Anna explains to her. “You throw a coin or two in the water and then make your wish. The spirit of the fountain carries your wish on the wind to Lord Barbatos.”
“Kind of a strange custom.” Lumine remarks, but she gets the gist of it. “What does Mondstadt do with the money afterwards?”
“The money? It just stays there.” Anna breaks off to cough a couple times.
Lumine stares at her. “No way. Wouldn’t people take it?”
“Uhh no.” Anna brings a finger to her lip thoughtfully. “How do I explain this... it’s kind of taboo to take the money from the wishing fountain. It’s just bad luck. You’d have to be desperate to take the money and risk getting cursed by Lord Barbatos for your greed.”
“...Oh.” She gives the shimmering coins a wistful glance. So much for taking the treasure for herself. “That makes sense.” What a shame, she adds, internally.
Later, Lumine finds herself in the square again, a freshly concocted satchel of potions cradled in her arms. She didn’t end up using as much of the ingredients as she thought, thanks to Lisa’s advice, so she still has some mora left.
The fountain is beautiful in the light of the fading sun, like a thousand diamonds sparkling on the churning surface of the water. There’s no way that a wish granting fairy lives there, but for a moment it seems ethereal enough that she walks up to it anyways.
Casting a furtive glance around, she takes out a coin when she thinks no one is looking at her.
“I wish to see Aether again.” She whispers quietly, and tosses in the coin.
Nothing answers her but the wind. Of course, she grimaces, the fairy of the fountain is just a superstition. Would have been nice though.
It’s a waste of mora, but there is something cathartic about telling the fountain about her struggles and hopes, tossing in just one mora coin each time. Lumine doesn’t notice anything awry until the third time it happens. Something was granting her wishes.
“I wish I could see the stars up close again, like I used to.” She had said the previous night, confessing with a coin.
This morning there was a drawing of a map at the feet of her tent, innocuously resting rumpled by the wooden post holding down the cloth as if it had been blown there naturally, by the wind. Following it to the place marked on the map, she comes upon a ruin with an ancient circular device in the middle. To her delight, looking into the circle was like a window to the heavens. She wasn’t really sure how, since her elemental sight revealed no magic, but she could see the moon and the stars as if she was up there with them.
The two other wishes, she hadn’t even noticed being granted in the moment it occurred.
A wish to find the anemo crystalflies she needed, for a defensive potion that would allow her to safely battle the hypostasis that had shown up in the northern ruins and claim the bounty the Adventurers guild had placed on it. It was no sum to sneeze at, and the more mora she had the more chances she had to compensate people for information about Aether’s whereabouts.
The last had been a simple one. She had wished to smile, at least once that day. A trail she had been hopefully following regarding her lost twin had gone cold the day prior and she had been lost in despair. After making her wish, she had found a pair of foxes sharing a bunch of fallen sunsettias while curled up together in the sun, snuggling happily and making cute chittering noises. The sight made her smile. Along her path she did not encounter a single slime or wayward hilichurl. Wind blew and lifted up her hair in a gentle caress.
That had been when she’d realized it. A memory tickles at the back of her mind: “Perfect timing traveler! I was just about to ask you... what is your greatest wish?”
How could this be a coincidence? It would be embarrassing to confront the perpetrator if wrong though, so she was hesitant to seek him out.
But Lumine was no little bitch, and the next night she went to the statue of the anemo archon instead of the fountain, courageous as anything. A green clad figure sits in the hands of the statue, swinging his legs back and forth and humming a pretty tune.
“It’s you, isn’t it?” She says.
Venti peers down at her. “The statue of Barbatos? Me? Why, traveler, you already know the answer to that query.”
“That’s not what I meant.” Why does he sound so innocent? Suspicious. Very suspicious indeed.
“Oh. Then what did you mean?” His voice is light and innocuously curious, and there’s no tell in his voice nor his lyre strumming that gives anything away.
But she remembers, after every wish, including the first, the wind answered her. She can still feel the way it caressed her gently.
“I just wanted to say that I’m very thankful.” She gazes at the statue instead of up at him. “I know you probably have other important things to do than grant my selfish wishes.”
“They aren’t selfish.” Venti has abandoned his clueless pretense, and his perch. He floats down to a feather light landing beside her. “They made you happy.”
“Well... yes... but aren’t there hundreds of wishes made in that fountain every day? Why do I get special treatment?”
“Hmm... well Lumine, the answer to that would beee... because yours is the only mora I don’t have to feel guilty about using, ehe!”
She gapes. “But I thought it wasn’t allowed to take the money from the fountain?”
“I, Barbatos, archon of this fine land of song and wine, do declare that exceptions can be made in the case of a fine vintage dandelion wine resting in the balance.” He places a hand over his chest with a self satisfied expression.
“You really used my wishing mora to buy wine?” She asks incredulously.
“Will use.” He corrects, wagging a finger. “Four mora isn’t anywhere near enough to buy a vintage. Heheh. I’ll be able to purchase it when I’ve granted enough of your wishes to do so~.”
He’s so silly. “I would’ve just bought you a drink.” She says. “I’m not rich but I can easily afford something like that.”
“I know.” He quips. “But this way is more fun!”
“You have a strange idea of fun.” Lumine shakes her head, but she’s smiling now.
“Really? Well you have a strange idea of taking the stairs.”
She blushes in reference to her climbing habit. Why does everybody make fun of her for this, it’s just a faster and more direct route upward!!