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Stealing Shards of the Future

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So, look.  Lin Chen is amazing.  He works magical cures and has at least five flocks of white pigeons that carry messages and secrets, and he has eyes and ears almost everywhere, and he can fight.  There is very little Lin Chen cannot do when he puts his mind to it.

It’s some day right before Mei Changsu leaves the capital as Lin Shu once more, that everyone approaches Lin Chen asking “How is he, really?”  “Can he really make it up North?” Will he really come back? Is what they all want to ask, but none of them do.

And Lin Chen, well, he gets tired of this, very easily.  And when he’s tired of stupid questions, of annoying, horrible questions, he turns sarcastic.  So he jokingly replies, “He has as much time as he has, and the only way to get more is going back in time and making sure he gets more time that way!”

It’s a throw away comment.  A sarcastic response, he’s done with all these people even if Mei Changsu means something to them, something to him, he’s not a deity, and he can’t give his friend any more time than he possible can with mortal hands.

But then again, there might be a way to give him more time.

Because as much as Lin Chen is a doctor, is a scientist, is a sceptic, to some degree.  Langya Hall is a mysterious place, even to it’s master, and there are tomes that only he has been allowed to see, under instruction from his father.

And time, that’s something he might be able to give.

Or take, it really amounts to the same thing, right now.

So he convinces Fei Liu to help him set up the ritual, and someone lets it slip what he’s planning and suddenly the Su residence is going to be packed with people who want to see how it goes and Lin Chen really, really doesn’t need the audience, but hey, maybe they’ll help.  If their prayers are answered, all the better.

“You’re going to put all of us in a magic circle, and then somehow I’ll get better?” Mei Changsu asks, nonplused.

“It’s a better idea than the pill you want, so shut up.”  Really, Changsu should be thanking him for this....

“I didn’t know you practiced magic.”

“Yes, well.  It’s not a service we exactly advertise.”

“Until now.”

“Well, someone let it slip that I was planning something and now everyone is practically here, and it’s not worth the effort of sending them away at this point.  Besides, who knows, maybe their hopes will be enough to stir the deities’ hearts in your favor.”

“Lin Chen…”

“Oh be quiet.  You can thank me with your first born – oh, wait, never mind, you can thank me by letting me return with Fei Liu.”

“No!” Is the quick response from the ceiling.

 But then everyone starts piling into the main room, and that’s the end of that conversation – for now, at least.  Lin Chen will get his compensation in the end (even if it’s probably going to be in the form of pranks and witty banter).

So he starts directing people to stand – the Mu siblings in the south of the circle, Meng Zhi near the middle, His Highness the Crown Prince in the north-eastern area, and so on.  Really, Lin Chen should be congratulated on having created a circle big enough to fit all the people who want to watch and help.  Honestly, he really should get an actual reward this time.  Like money.

It’s time for the ritual, though, and such thoughts can come later, when he’s succeeded.

There are flickering candles, and incense, and words – Words, that if anyone else were asked about, once the ritual is complete, they wouldn’t be able to tell anyone else what they were…but such are the secrets of Langya Hall.

There are whispers, and hopes, and prayers.  Supplications and requests for success, for health, for happiness.

There is darkness.

There is darkness, the kind of darkness that comes from the wild, and not from the inside of a manor house.  The kind that comes on a moonless night, that nevertheless sparkles with stars.

Lin Chen looks around and knows where they are.

“Changsu…Did you really have to take all of us over half-way to Meiling?”

Everyone else starts to look worried, even Tingsheng, who probably has only heard stories about that place and what, exactly, happened there.  Fei Liu, though, remains unconcerned with the location, and continues holding Mei Changsu’s arm.

Mei Changsu, who is not looking any better than before the ritual, if not any worse, is also relatively unconcerned and merely blinks, denying, “I didn’t do anything.  This is all Lin Chen’s idea.”

Which promptly results in everyone panicking, because no one else actually knows what happened.  Lin Chen is not looking forward to informing them, not when he has a sneaking suspicion of when they landed.

Well, at least they probably won’t destroy the space-time continuum that was warned about at the top of the ritual. Right?

…Who is he kidding, these are all the people that Mei Changsu has come to care for, will move heaven and earth for.  The space-time continuum and Da Liang are doomed.

As always, comments and kudos welcome!