“Hey, you heard what the Liyue merchants have been saying? It’s true- their archon’s really gone and died. They did a whole funeral and everything!”
While walking along the path above the plaza in Mondstadt, he heard the Fatui diplomats talking.
“If you think about it, that’s a good thing for the Fatui. This is likely to cause a major upheaval in Liyue. If we can take advantage of the power vacuum during the ensuing chaos…”
Venti stopped listening, a dreadful expression plastered on his face, and instead started running.
It had to be a lie- just gossip from the Fatui. Morax couldn’t really be dead. No, that old blockhead would never be beaten in battle. He couldn’t be gone. Not without telling him he was going.
“Morax…” He had to get to Liyue.
It was all he could think of. As soon as he recovered from being stunned, he ran. Venti’s legs carried him to Mondstat’s gate, across the bridge, scaring a group of pigeons. A young boy shouted something at the bard but he couldn’t hear it. He commanded what air he could to push a tailwind.
“If only my gnosis hadn’t been stolen I could just teleport right there!” He cursed to himself. For the first time after his initial grief of losing his gnosis, Venti was truly angry it had been stolen.
He was too used to having it. He had no desire to rule Mondstadt but he also had no desire to lose what power he did have.
Venti wasn’t completely powerless without his connection to Celestia. With or without it, he was still a god. Unfortunately, his ability to harmonize with the wind to travel long distances was lost.
Did he even deserve it in the first place ? He asked himself.
“I never used that to help the people. Just to solve problems that I started. I wanted to leave everything to the humans, but really I just left them all alone for so long…”
Tears began forming in his eyes as he ran and his lungs stung. Breathlessness was a human sensation he was not used to. The wind was getting weaker behind him and he finally had to stop to catch his breath.
He made it to Windrise and his statue before collapsing on the ground at the base. He rolled onto his back and looked up while trying desperately to catch his breath. The statue of the anemo archon and the symbol of Mondstat’s hero seemed to glare down at him.
The face of his friend from so long ago…
Tears ran down his face. How could he ever face either of them, let alone Morax, like this?
“Venti?!” A sweet voice called out to him. Venti recognized it, it was the Knights’ outrider.
“Venti are you okay?!” The voice and the girl’s footsteps were quickly coming closer. He sat up and leaned his back against the base of the statue just as she reached him.
“What are you doing out here? You look exhausted, What happened?” She asked, her voice filled with concern.
Venti looked off in the direction of the Dawn Winery, of Liyue, then looked back down.
“It’s nothing, I…”
“Let’s get you back to the city.” Amber bent down to put his arm around her shoulder.
“I’m okay. Amber really, I can walk on my own” Venti protested.
“Nope! As an outsider, it’s my duty to ensure your safety.”
“How ironic,” Venti thought, he should be the one protecting. He smiled a sad smile and allowed Amber to partially carry him. Thinking about it, he was probably lucky she happened to be working in the area. Amber took her work very seriously, but she was always so kind and willing to help anyone in danger.
“What were you doing out here anyway?” She asked. “It’s getting late.”
“Am I not allowed to relax amongst the trees and wind?”
“I wouldn’t exactly call the state I found you in ‘relaxed’. Were you running from something? You seem out of breath.”
That struck a chord inside him, not enough to make him stop walking, but enough to make him ponder, “Was I running away? No I was running to someone. But, what if I got there and found out the rumor was true and then ran? ”
The only person he could get real advice from was gone.
They walked in silence for the rest of the short way. As soon as they reached the city gates Venti perked back up and exclaimed, “Alright I’ll be good from here!” He detached himself from Amber and skipped up the stairs near the gate leaving her at the bottom.
“Wait Venti! Are you really going to be okay?!” She called after him.
He turned back to her and a gust of wind caught his cape creating a great silhouette in the setting sun.
“I’ll be fine Amber, thank you. I’m very grateful you found me.”
Amber was stunned at the sight. She shook her head and snapped out of her awe.
“We really should go see Grand Master Jean.”
Venti recoiled a bit. The last thing he wanted was Jean being worried about him. He needed to be strong for her at least. “If her faith in me hasn’t already wavered.”
“I promise I’m okay Amber. I’ll be heading off now. See you!” He gave a quick salute and a smile then swiftly ran off towards the fountain.
“Wait!!” Amber yelled, but Venti was already gone. “How did he run away so fast when I found him exhausted a little bit ago?!” She huffed.
Despite Amber’s impression of him, Venti stopped running as soon as he turned the corner past the alchemy shop. He was still tired from his earlier sprint and the weight of the news he heard earlier was weighing down on him again. The sun was setting now and for some reason he couldn’t identify, Venti didn’t want to be alone. The streets were still lively even now and the chatter among the crowds was a pleasant white noise as he walked. He just walked and looked and listened to all Mondstadt had to offer. It was perhaps an attempt to wind down, but no matter how many smiles were directed at him as he passed by the people, he still felt so alone. Eventually, his legs carried him through the town to Angel’s Share.
Venti loved dandelion wine for its taste. He did not drink to get drunk. Physically, it was almost impossible for him to actually get drunk. Rather he blended into the atmosphere of the tavern and got drunk off the adventurers’ merriment. Still, he understood the sentiment of getting drunk among a crowd. Humans seek comfort in others...and in alcohol.
Venti paused at the door of Angel’s Share suddenly realizing where he was. There were a few people sitting at the tables outside, but he could hear a ruckus in the tavern. He let out a sigh and opened the door. He might as well go in.
It was as loud inside as he expected. The tables were filled with adventurers and townsfolk having meals and drinking. Behind the bar counter, Charles was serving a glass and, perfect, Diluc was there washing a glass with his back turned to the customers. Venti walked up to the bar and sat down on one of the stools off to the side.
“Ah! If it isn’t the young bard,” Charles greeted him. “Do you have a tale to weave for us this evening?”
Any other time, Venti would be more than happy to perform, especially if it meant wine as payment. Tonight though, “I’m actually just here to drink tonight.” Venti put on a smile. He reached into a pocket and pulled out what mora he had.
“I think I’d just like to buy a bottle of dandelion wine and I’ll take it upstairs to enjoy.”
“Not feeling the spotlight tonight? How unlike you.” Charles responded. “Anyway, I don’t think you’re old enough to-”
“It’s fine.” Diluc cut in without turning around.
“But sir he’s…”
“I said it’s fine. He can have the wine.” Diluc turned towards them. “If he can afford it, sell him a bottle.”
Venti closed his eyes and sent Diluc a smile to say “thank you.” Diluc just nodded slightly in return and turned back to what he was doing.
“Alright then, that’ll be 3000 Mora.” Venti winced a bit at the price but paid Charles the mora and was handed a bottle in return. He turned around and hopped off the stool.
“Venti are you really sure you don’t want to play? We sure could use it tonight, full house and all.” Charles called after him.
Venti really didn’t want to, but maybe this was just what he needed, a chance to lose himself in song and drink.
Venti put on a smug grin. “Hmm well, if it’s payment for more wine, I guess I could play a song or two.” He shrugged. “One glass per song.” He winked at Diluc.
“Absolutely not,” Diluc refused. “I’ll give you another bottle later. See if you can calm everyone down they’re being awfully loud.”
“Very well then.” Venti sighed and put on a cheery face walking over towards the crowd.
“Oh! the bard is here!” An adventurer with a flushed face cheered. “Heeey!!” The group around him applauded. Venti summoned his lyre and stepped on top of a table.
“Good evening lovely patrons of the Angel’s Share! Tonight, I have decided to move away from tales of our anemo archon and tell a grand story about the mighty geo archon. He and Barbatos were great friends and the adventures they had together could fill the entire night!”
The crowd cheered, but Diluc raised an eyebrow. “Liyue’s god? Why is he telling a story about the geo archon? He usually tells fantastical stories about himself or about Mondstadt.” He didn’t feel like interrupting Venti or his song as it started, but he sensed something was off. The look he had on his face when he entered the tavern, the initial declaration that he wasn’t here to sing, and now this overly cheery demeanor, they were all giveaways.
Venti began a tale about Rex Lapis, the Lord of Geo. He spoke lovingly of Morax, but still managed to call him a blockhead plenty of times. He used both his lyre and percussion made from stomping on the table and enticing the crowd to clap along. It was easy to sing upbeat songs about Morax. Despite his old age, he was indeed praiseworthy. Even if no one else had heard the news yet, Venti would honor his friend.
When the Archon War came to an end, Barbatos traveled Tevat to greet his fellow archons and establish a friendship across the land. When Barbatos traveled to the neighboring nation of Liyue, Morax was clad in battle-ready armor. Barbatos just laughed, grateful that his fellow archon was ready to help him. But, the look of surprise on his face was unparalleled when Barbatos tossed him a bottle of the finest dandelion wine and proclaimed the beginnings of a partnership. Through wine and song, slowly but surely, Barbatos whittled down that stone wall Morax had built around himself.
“Venti… Venti.” Diluc lightly shook Venti on the shoulder. He was asleep at the bar with his head buried in his hands.
“Hm? Master Diluc…” Venti grumbled without lifting his head.
“It’s time to go home. I have to close up.”
Venti made some sort of groaning noise without opening his mouth or moving at all.
“Venti, come on. I know you aren’t drunk.” Diluc looked for the other bottle he had given him. Did he already drink both bottles?
“That second bottle was meant to go home with you.”
“Hmmmmm. I don’t have a home.” Venti stirred a bit but kept his head down. Diluc sighed,
knowing this wouldn’t be easy. It wasn’t the first time he’s had to console a customer. He wasn’t great at it, but he was a good listener. But, this would be his first time trying to console a god. He paused the cleaning he was doing and sat down on the stool next to Venti.
“What’s wrong?” Diluc asked genuinely concerned but no less annoyed that his closing chores were being held up.
Venti finally lifted his head but kept his gaze forward, avoiding Diluc’s eyes. “Master Diluc, does Mondstadt need me?”
Diluc was a bit stunned by the question. Was Venti questioning his self-worth or something?
“Well, the Knights alone can’t take care of the city.” Diluc spat out.
“But they also have you, and Lumine.”
“Lumine isn’t here right now and I won’t always be here either. I’m not telling you how or if you want to do your job, but there are a lot of people who believe in you.”
“I think a lot of those people would be pretty disappointed if they found out their god was just a broke bard roaming the streets.”
“I don’t think so, once they got to know you they’d see; you’re fairly capable.”
Venti finally turned to him. “What about you Diluc?”
Diluc let out a sigh. “I’ve never been a particularly religious man. If you really want my opinion. I see you as just as a skilled bard who steals my wine and also happens to be good with a bow despite wearing a fake vision.”
“Heh, I guess I can take that as a compliment.”
“You don’t need me to boost your ego. What’s this actually about?”
Venti slumped back over onto the bar resting his head on crossed arms. “You haven’t heard huh? It’s Morax- Rex Lapis… He’s… he’s gone.”
Diluc’s eyes went wide. Gone? As in dead?
“I get it now. That’s why you were singing about him. I had heard something happened at the Rite of Descension, but I didn’t realize…I’m sorry Venti.”
“I guess it’s really true then. I heard the Fatui diplomats talking, and I really overreacted.”
“The Fatui huh.” Just the mention of them disgusted Diluc.
“I was thinking earlier, just maybe it was one of their rumors they were purposefully trying to spread. But, if you’ve heard something…” Venti twisted around on the stool and hopped down. “I’ll get going now. Sorry for staying so long, and thanks for waking me up, I don’t really like sleeping.”
“Why not? I figured you loved naps.”
“Sleeping is different for me than for humans. I sleep for long periods of time. Long, long periods of time. And I don’t like it.”
Diluc sighed again and decided to shift the topic. Venti sure was a piece of work. “Do you really not have a home?”
“Not really, now that my gnosis is gone. Not that I would have called that place home anyway. It’s not that I have nowhere to go for the evening hours though. I’ll be okay. I’ve calmed down enough.”
“If you say so.” Diluc stood up and Venti started towards the door.
Venti paused and turned back halfway through the door frame. “Yes, Master Diluc?”
“Take care of yourself okay. Tevat doesn’t need to lose another god.”
Venti grinned softly. “Thank you Diluc.” And he disappeared into the streets of Mondstadt.
Venti walked out of the city and followed the same path as before. He figured he’d just go back to Windrise and sit in the tree. He could even take a bath in the stream, he could use a relaxing soak. Being alone with his thoughts isn’t what he particularly wanted, but everyone was asleep and he couldn’t impose on Diluc or anyone else further.
He could see a faint light coming off the statue of the seven and felt a comforting breeze blowing through the branches of the trees down to him.
“It really is healing here.”
He walked past the statue and looked up at the grand tree for a moment before preparing to climb up the trunk.
“Ehehehe” A distorted laugh made a presence known. Venti summoned his bow and spun around in a swift smooth motion. A cryo Abyss Mage met his gaze.
“You!” Suddenly, it clicked in his mind, and Venti was filled with rage. Morax would never fall in battle. He must have been assassinated by some dirty underhanded trick.
“We did not kill the geo archon,” The mage spoke, “But you are now an easy target hehehehe.”
Venti shook with rage and balled his fists. It had been a very long time since he last felt like this, a horrible feeling.
“Why should I believe you?! After you hurt Dvalin and threatened the people of Mondstadt?!” He shouted.
Venti aimed his bow and pulled the string taut, accumulating anemo energy in the arrow.
“Hehehe” The abyss mage just laughed and surrounded itself in a shield.
Venti’s anger reached its peak and pulling as much energy out of himself as he could, he poured everything he felt into his bow. The arrow glowed a bright neon green and the air around him swirled violently whipping his glowing braids and cape. Bitter tears fell down his face.
Then, Venti released the string and pushed the wind behind the arrow to move it faster than the naked eye could see. The roaring sound of the wind drowned out Venti’s scream.
There was an explosion of anemo energy that melded with the cryo mage creating a swirl effect strong enough not only to destroy its shield, but kill it in one shot.
The last thing Venti registered was the remains of the abyss mage dissolving. The winds were irritated but quiet, and Venti collapsed.