Heart's Desire - Crystal Glaze
A collection of fantasy stories centered around a mysterious antique shop.
It’s widely popular around Teyvat.
Legend tells of a corner of the city that has been forgotten by the wind.
To reach that place one must stand before the fountain and close their eyes, then wait for thirty-five heartbeats, then walk seven circles clockwise around the fountain followed by seven further circles anticlockwise. Upon opening one’s eyes, one will find they have arrived at a little shop…
“Hello? Anyone in?” Yu’an called out.
He tried the door, and let himself in. The bell continued to ring after the door had closed and as he made his way further inside. The faint sound of crashing waves seeped into the store, like a distant memory. Piles of seemingly random artifacts were stacked all the way through from where he stood to the other end of the long and narrow ship. Yu’an looked apprehensively at the range of items throughout the store, somewhat intimidated by the thought of his silken robes being covered in dust that was potentially older than he.
Old lanterns made of now-yellowing paper, a giant fang from some unknown monster, brilliant black aerosiderite from the depths of space, a dull gold-colored geometric object built with a mortis and tenon crafted from an unknown material…
As he picked up a small bottle filled with a fine white crystalline powder, he heard a soft voice coming from someone who was now stood next to him.
“That is salt formed from the residue of an ancient archon’s tears-”
The voice caught him off guard, breaking the long silence like a stone disrupts the surface of a pool of still water. Startled, he dropped the bottle he held in his hand.
But the sound of smashing glass his ears were anticipating never came. The shopkeeper, who had fox-like eyes with slender lines for pupils, had somehow caught the bottle and returned it to its place on the shelf.
“I’m, er… Huh, I can’t remember who it was, but… someone recommended this place to me.”
She gave a slight nod that acknowledged she had heard him, but was ambiguous as to what she thought about it.
“Welcome to the store. Do you see anything that takes your fancy?”
“I’m looking for a gift for...she’s a girl I like.”
“I’ve been thinking of proposing to her, and I’d like to have a gift to go with it.”
Yu’an nervously bit his lower lip as he looked up to face the shopkeeper directly. She had mysterious golden eyes that reminded him of Cor Lapis.
They looked at each other for a long time in silence. Finally, she spoke: “Very well.”
Her slender figure disappeared back into the depths of the store. When she returned, she held in her hand an object that gave off a faint iridescent glow. On closer inspection, it was revealed to be an exquisitely cut ten-sided illuminating crystal.
“I trust you will have heard the legend of the crystal heart?”
He hadn’t. But he nodded anyway.
“It is made from a variety of crystal called illuminating crystal. Man-made versions exist, but they are pale imitations. True illuminating crystals is capable of revealing the secrets of one’s heart, for it is formed from the unfulfilled desire and grief of illuminated beasts of the highest order when they reach the end of their life. Please, take a look…”
She gestured to Yu’an that they should both watch the faintly flashing images emerging from within the crystal.
Tens of thousands of years flashed by before his eyes. Like the continuous shifting of the clouds, stars turned to water and water turned to land. Snow melted and gave way to green pastures. Rivers cut their way through the open country. He watched cities rise like ants’ nests and kingdoms topple like toy building blocks…
... The twilight grew dim. Moonlight zigzagged its way across the uneven surface of the ocean. When Yu’an regained consciousness, he found himself walking by the docks.
The crystal he held tightly in his hand had become warm, as if blood pulsed through it.
“This is a wondrous crystal heart indeed,” he thought to himself, increasing his pace as he walked on under the moonlight. “All I need to do is give this to her… Once that’s done, then I can… I must…”
The bell that hung from the door rang out, crisp and clear.
“Welcome to the store. Do you see anything that takes your fancy?”
“I’d like to exchange this - well, I don’t know if it counts as a gemstone, or…”
The finely cut crystal sparkled brightly, scattering rays of light throughout the room.
“It was given to me by a man who’s been pursuing me. He said that if we looked into it together, we would see many marvelous things.”
“But somehow I just find it makes me feel uncomfortable. It’s a beautiful gem, of course, I just… each time I think of him, I get so exasperated. So I wondered if this store would be willing to take it off my hands.”
“I understand. But this is a highly prized ten-sided illuminating crystal. For what quantity of Mora would you be willing to part with it?”
“Actually, I do not want for money. But let me see… what’s this - it looks like salt? It’s about time I went to Sal Terrae to pay my respects again. If it’s okay with you, this is all I need in return for the gem.”
The fox-eyed shopkeeper sat alone at the back of the shop, turning the geometrically flawless crystal in her hand.
“In you, I have seen unpleasant things. That fellow’s true nature it is unbelievable… it is upsetting.”
“That said, when it comes down to it he is but a lowlife opportunist who wishes to marry into a wealthy and prestigious family in the industry, and will do whatever is necessary to achieve his wish. Had this not come to light, it is entirely possible that they may still have enjoyed a happy life together, despite it not being born out of genuine mutual affection. After all, happiness is but a state of mind - it is not related to love.”
She took a dainty sip of wine, and smiled mockingly at the thought of her own vanity.
“But the fact is, I simply have zero tolerance for people like that.”
“On the other hand, it is delightfully straightforward opening to a complete stranger. I know that once he sets foot outside that door, we never have to meet one another again - so what does it matter if I reveal a little truth to him? Perversely, the closer two people become, the more one seeks to gain, and so you must be on your guard. But how could he have known…”
“I’m sorry, this has all been quite the imposition on you. But it is truly wonderful to have this back.”
She lowered her gaze and continued, “ This is, after all, your heart that you have left behind. I will be sure to treasure it… But don’t you think it’s fun? Taking a trip down into the world once in a while, seeing what people are like nowadays?