Rumors notoriously spread like wildfire in the city of freedom. But all of them were mostly harmless. Amber knew at least that of her friendly hometown. Making her nightly rounds of the city, Amber thought expected to stumble upon a harmless rumor about her neighbors, or perhaps some speculation about the Darknight Hero, or maybe something about Jean herself. But nothing could have prepared her for this particular piece of information. Stumbling out of a local tavern, a middle-aged citizen drunkenly fell into Amber's arms.
"Thanks lass!" he hiccuped. "My place is kind of a way's away, if you don't mind?"
"Not at all!" the Outrider enthusiastically responded. And they were off.
The past few months had been filled with commission after commission for Amber, stacked on top of her duties within the Knights of Favonius. The traveler's departure was nothing but a fond memory at that point. Well, at least, that's how it was supposed to be.
The posters that Amber initially hung for the traveler described her identical twin brother Aether. Before Lumine left, Klee insisted on drawing her brother for the posters, frustrated that the descriptions were far too vague. Lumine sat in front of the canvas for hours that day, only to be rewarded with a vaguely blonde blob of a caricature. Klee gladly created one for every single poster. And with that, Lumine was off to Liyue Harbor.
Amber remembered that day fondly as she struggled with the man's weight, but they gradually made their way. She couldn't help but see more of Lumine than her brother in Klee's "artistic interpretation," and she felt something tug at her heart with each passing notice. The night breeze reminded her of Lumine's talent with the elements, and, as if he had read her mind, the man interrupted her daydream.
"Y'know..." he begins, "That traveler was just here the other day..."
He put his hand to his chin, thinking back to that moment, and then continued, "She went straight to that lad Timaeus... that's the alchemist's name, right?"
Amber abruptly stops in her tracks, startling the citizen. They both ponder her reaction for a moment, and luckily for Amber, he recognizes his home.
"Oh! this is mine." He gives her a big smile. "You be safe out there tonight, Outrider."And she went straight home.
In her bed, Amber couldn't help but overthink.
I don't think I've even seen her talk to Timaeus. She talked to Sara more, for Barbatos' sake... But most of all... if she was in town... why didn't she say hello?
A part of her was dumbfounded at the fact that, in all her days of patrolling, she had completely missed Lumine at some point. Another part of her wanted a word with Timaeus, but it would have to wait on her pile of duties as a knight.
Lumine had set off for Liyue not too long ago, and was diligently sending the occasional post card, but there were no plans (that Amber knew of) for a return to Mondstadt! Amber couldn't help but think that if she were in town, Lumine would go to her first. And they would eat sticky honey roast together before Lumine continued on with her business in the city. And as Amber faded into unconsciousness, there was at least a faint hope that Paimon would have probably dragged Lumine to get a free meal out of Amber if the two were really in town. That thought was proof enough that the man's sighting must have been a mistake. She tossed and turned in bed that night, but fell asleep counting blonde sheep.
The following week, Amber finds herself atop the Knights' headquarters with a pair of binoculars in hand. Last week, it had seemed like everyone except for Amber had an encounter with the traveler. Little Flora was excitedly telling Amber about her imaginary best friend, who Lumine could see. Kaeya was boasting a sword that the two had found in a nearby temple. And even Jean and Lisa were casually chatting about their recent encounter with the girl. Amber was confused about it all. It was okay if she was busy, but it seemed like she'd said hello to everyone here. And only Barbatos knows how many times she had returned with the number of people she's visited. But today Amber was determined.
With this angle, there's no way I'll miss her.
Today was her day off, and she was determined to remain stationed at one of the city's highest peaks to scout out the traveler. There was no guarantee that she would be in town today, but the possibility kept her hopes up. She stayed there and watched until the evening, only stopping to get food. Scanning the crowds of people below, she heard someone call out to her.
"Amber!" the voice startled her.
Kaeya stood tall at the doorway to the roof, and requested her aid for an expedition into the Stormbearer mountains. Swept away by the rush of combat and excitement, Amber is utterly tired and defeated by the time she returns to the city. Her body feels heavier with each step, but she knows the way to her home by heart. The city has retired at this point, but she sees a faint blue light out of the corner of her eye.
Next to the anvil in place of Wagner, a seelie bopped up and down, waiting for someone to follow. Foreign to populated areas, the spirit looked out of place. But Amber, as sleep deprived as she was, felt compelled to follow it.
She had a deep understanding and appreciation for Teyvat's myths, something that almost jeopardized Lumine's glider exam. But at this moment, her instinct insisted that it would lead to something valuable. She turned every corner with it, picking up speed in order to keep up. Her energy was coming back. This better be good.
She felt a faint breeze at every location that it stopped at. There was something familiar about it, and it wasn't just the fact that she was roaming her hometown. She climbed the walls of the city, and sighed deeply when she saw the spirit float upward indefinitely towards Barbatos' face. On a good day, the climb was nothing more than annoying, but after a day of disappointment and false anticipation on top of an impromptu expedition, Amber was tired.
Her grip on the statue was poor, and her stamina seemed unable to replenish itself. She almost succumbed to climbing back down when she heard a familiar voice.
"Amber?" She looks up. "I've been looking all over for you."
Initially blinded by the light of the seelie, she finds Lumine's hand extended towards her.
"You shouldn't wear yourself out, you know? I almost chased that little guy, too, but I knew I probably shouldn't at this hour." Lumine chuckled like she always does.
Amber noticed many new things about the Lumine in front of her. Seeing her in the palm of the Archon, she noticed the traveler's unkempt hair. Her hands were rougher. She'd become more eloquent, like she was born in the city of contracts. It was subtle, but Amber saw. She had just been in Mondstadt all this time, after all. She couldn't help but immediately ask,
"So what's with you and Timaeus?" And she would regret the inquiry just as quickly, watching Lumine's eyes quickly widen.
Right on the money, huh? Amber felt a sense of defeat set in. That was no longer a surprise, so she at least continued with her train of thought, asking her a simpler, less invasive question.
" Well, why didn't you stop by to see me?" Amber finally broke the silence. "You said you would." Her voice had become weaker.
And although she knew of her own selfish desires, Amber couldn't help but beg Lumine to fix the ache in her heart when she thought of every single possibility that led to that insufferable silence. Was it something she said last time they saw each other? Was it simply that Lumine didn't like her anymore?
"... I said a lot of that out loud, didn't I?" Amber covered her own uncooperative mouth.
The silence was deafening. Or maybe it was just the exhaustion finally coming down on her to take her out.
And then Lumine grabbed her hand.
"Amber." Lumine begins, "Can i show you something?" She starts rummaging through her bag.
"To be totally honest with you, I have been getting a lot closer to Timaeus."
Amber holds something of a reaction back.
"... And it turns out his alchemical techniques are actually pretty good."
Lumine reaches out towards Amber's face and tucks a stray hair behind her ear.
"Oh, and Wagner's not all that mean, too." she laughs. "Just give him some rocks and a project and he'll be good— Ah! There it is."
She reached into the depths of her bag and pulled something out.
The ring was crudely made. The skill of two very different artisans was apparent in its shape. The iron band itself barely accommodated the size of the huge crimson stone in the middle, but its pinkish glow stood out in the night.
"Now, maybe someone went off to the tavern one night and spilled everything but I thought I'd been very clear to the city of Mondstadt about the secrecy of this project." Lumine sighed.
"Well," she continued, "Cat's out of the bag." Her expression stiffens. "My brother may still be in this land, or elsewhere. And everything i've asked of the Knights, Venti, and even you... has been selfish." Lumine inhales deeply. "I've been in town a lot because I've been doing tasks to repay the city," she pauses, "And I thought it'd be fine that way... Compensation for the city's hospitality, you know?" She awkwardly chuckles. "... But that sense of selfishness has never left me... I want to find him, but I have desires of my own."
Her eyes remain fixed on Amber's, and it only takes another second for her to ask, "So, despite that, do you think you could stay by my side for the rest of this journey? I'm two countries into Teyvat, and being in Liyue made me realize how much I hated being away from you."
Frustrated and overwhelmed, Amber grabbed Lumine's face and kissed her.
And with that, everything slowly began to fall into place. She thought about the seelie turning corners and being on the wrong side of the street. Climbing onto rooftops when Lumine was down below, and finally, flying elsewhere when Lumine was in the palm of the Archon's hand.
Was this a mistake on the part of the spirits? An intended buildup of tension set into motions by the gods?
Amber would never know. All that was evident was the fact that their paths had collided long ago when, just beyond Starfell Lake, the courses of both Lumine and Amber's lives would change forever.