Heart's Desire - Moonlight
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…
“Excuse me, is anyone there?”
Veiga asked timidly as she stepped through the door.
As the door closed behind her, the bell that hung from it rang out, its crisp and clear sound filling the room and cutting through the dimly lit drudgery.
The dull glow of twilight seeped gently through the frosted glass of the display case windows. Stacks of curious objects filled every part of the room. Veiga made her way through the store cautiously, for fear of stepping on something and breaking it.
There was no answer.
Veiga now began to examine the objects around her more closely:
An obscure mechanical component, an ornate ancient lyre, a broken ceramic tile engraved with incomprehensible markings, a pair of old manacles, dented and scratched from years of use, a forgotten crown that once belonged to an aristocrat…
At some point as she was inspecting these objects of no apparent utility, the shopkeeper appeared beside her. The shopkeeper’s eyes were like those of a fox, with long, slender pupils at their center.
“That fang once belonged to a wolf king. Aside from the gods, it is probably the only thing left that remembers that land the way it used to be… every inch of it covered in ice and snow.”
She spoke softly,
“Welcome to the store. Do you see anything that takes you fancy?”
“Do you have anything here that can help someone… to forget?”
“...To forget anything? Even… someone very important?”
The fox-eyed shopkeeper’s expression turned stern, and she nodded as she continued:
“I know that the one you wish to forget is a young man with limpid eyes as clear as moonlight. He disappeared a long time ago, and left a deep hole in your heart. Nothing else can fill that hole… all other blessings, no matter how joyful they may be, feel elusive and out of your reach… just like the moonlight before your eyes.”
Veiga was stunned into silence. All she could do was nod along. The fox-eyed shopkeeper smiled, and seemingly out of nowhere, presented a bottle of wine.
“This wine will help you forget your pain.”
“Long ago in the age when the icy winds blew, our forebears brewed this wine in secret, deep within the frozen earth, to give them the strength to keep surviving. The method they used to brew this kind of wine was forgotten when the people’s fate took a turn for the better, and their lives became more joyful.”
She tilted the wine bottle back and forth.
“There is not much left. And since it seems you have an affinity with this store, this one is for free. Provided, of course, that this is what you really want…”
Veiga took the goblet of wine from the fox-eyed shopkeeper’s hand.
The goblet must once have been adorned with a precious gemstone. But it had since been removed, and now the only clue to its existence was the empty, lonely indentation it had left behind.
When Veiga regained consciousness she was stood in front of the fountain.
“Hmm? What am I doing here?” She wondered to herself. As the moon shone down brightly, she began briskly walking back home. The glow of twilight had all but disappeared now, and if she didn’t get back soon…
She had forgotten all about the strange store, from the route that had taken her there to everything that had happened inside.
The fox-eyed shopkeeper said, after the door had shut and the bell had stopped ringing.
A young man, one with limpid eyes as bright as moonlight, stepped into view from the back of the store.
“How many times has she visited now?”
“Six… no seven. Seven times.” The young man hesitated for a moment, and then asked, “Does the wine really work? It’s not that I don’t trust you, it’s just-”
The shopkeeper smiled, though the meaning of her smile was ambiguous.
“This wine causes those who drink it to forget their pain. But your shared history is not a painful thing for her. All this wine can do is to help her temporarily forget her longing for you, and the grief of losing you…”
“Whenever she sees the moonlight, she will see you reflected in it, and the memories will start coming back… the time you met at Ludi Harpastum, the afternoon spent beneath the tree at Windrise, the view from Cape Oath, the time you sneaked out of the midsummer celebrations together, hand in hand, the song and the feathered cape you offered to her at the assembly of the traveling bards… All of these memories she will be reluctant to part with.”
“...I do have another bottle of wine in my shop, one that can make someone truly forget everything. If you wish… I could give her that to drink, instead?”
She smiled slightly as she watched the young man. After a long silence, he let out a sigh.
“Tell me - why do you insist on leaving her?”
“Ah, well… it’s this. This is the reason.”
The young man reached into his breast pocket and took out a spherical object made of crystal. Unknown symbols could be discerned faintly flickering inside it.
“I am led to believe that people who receive one of these will one day disappear from this world.”
“If that is so, then the earlier the better. She is still young… if she forgets me now, then she will still have time.”
“Well, well, well…” sneered the shopkeeper. “So. You are one of the chosen.”
“It would appear so. Do you… know anything about what happens to the chosen in the end?”
The young man asked eagerly.
She forced a smile, but did not reply.
“I should be leaving. Now I am the owner of this thing, I suppose I should get on with doing the things that are expected of me.”
“And if she returns? What would you have me do?”
“I think… I think we should leave her to handle it on her own.”
“What a heartless man you are.”