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Outside of Personal Limbo

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“Uh, guys?”

Lumine, Aether, Paimon, Lisa, Jean, and Kaeya turn their heads to see Amber walking inside Jean's office.

“Yes, Outrider Amber?” Jean asks, setting down some papers on her desk.

“Has any of you seen Venti acting weird?” she asks.

"We haven’t seen Tone-Deaf Bard at all today, actually.” Paimon remarks.

“We asked the townspeople, and they said that even a bard needs his time off from performances to take a rest. But they never saw Venti wandering about. Even taking a look into the tavern. We only saw Kaeya, Rosaria, and Eula having a drink.” Lumine gestures to the Cavalry Captain that was with them now.

“Uhm, follow me.” she says.

Everyone looked at each other and Kaeya and the travelers went to follow the Outrider.

“I would most likely stay here in case.” Lisa says and Jean nods her head and goes to follow the others.

They left the headquarters, and across the cobblestone bridge they went to Lady Vennessa’s tree.

“Eh? What’s he doing?” Paimon tilts her head, all of them seeing that Diluc was already there, staring unsteadily at the motionless bard.

Venti was sitting at the tree, staring off that his eyes were milky and dazed but showed that he was indeed breathing and alive. Around him, Anemograna and Anemo Crystalflies fluttered about around him, forest animals rested around him, and a little finch rested atop his beret.

“He’s been here since this morning. And he hasn’t moved at most.” Amber explains, everyone staring at the jarring sight.

“Well, I guess we should go and wake him up then.” Lumine shrugs and walks over, startling the resting animals as they scurried off and the spirit wildlife as well vanished into the winds. She reached a hand and shook Venti’s arm, but he didn’t respond back, nor even acknowledged her and the others.

“Here, let me try.” Aether walks over and stands before the bard, taking his gloves off and seconds of silence follows only to be interrupted by Aether clapping his hands together loudly.

Needless to say, Aether put his gloves right back on again and cowered back, waving his hands to stop the pain.

“Okay, well. That didn’t work.” Kaeya murmurs. “Paimon, try waking him up.” he grins.

“What do you want Paimon to do? Shout in his ear?” she huffs, hands on her hips. “Yup!” he nods his head, and Paimon just stares at him for a moment before floating over in front of the bard.

“Honorary Knights, why are you covering your ears-”

“TONE-DEAF BARD!”

Jean quickly snapped her mouth shut and she and the others covered their ears over the shrill scream from Paimon.

They stared as Paimon still floated in front of the bard, Venti not at all flinching at the other.

“That usually gets some people.” Paimon comments, the travelers grumbling quietly as they lower their hands.

“Why not bring a hilichurl from the nearby camps?” Amber asks, and Lumine and Aether look at each other.

“Well, we could try." Lumine shrugs before they set off towards the nearest camp which was, frankly, almost across the entire field. They peered over a rock, spotting a hilichurl that was sitting outside, keeping watch. It noticed them, and the twins gestured for it to come over before leading the hilichurl over to the tree. Aether turned to the hilichurl and pointed at the bard, and the creature looked between Aether and Venti before reading their stick. But within seconds it was blown back to its camp by a sudden gust of strong winds. They looked at Jean who held her hands up, and they turned to Venti, seeing his aqua tipped braids dimming just then.

“Guess that even in whatever trance Venti is in, his Anemo powers are still enabled to protect him.” Kaeya murmurs.

“I’m going to get Barbara. My hands are hurting more.” Aether says sadly, and Lumine just chuckled sympathetically, patting his shoulder and he headed off.

Aether looked around the cathedral, and quietly entered and walked over to where Barbara was standing.

“Oh, Honorary Knight. What can I help you with?” she smiles.

“Two things, but one thing is my hands.” he nervously smiles, taking his gloves off.

“Oh my! What caused this?’ she asks, getting right to healing his hands.

“From clapping too hard.” he nervously smiles.

“Why?” she tilts her head.

“That’s a long story.” he tests his hands and smiles gratefully at her. “Actually, do you think you want to see?” he asks.

“Of course.” she nods her head, and the pair leave the cathedral, them both hurrying before Albert could figure out that Barbara wasn’t in the cathedral.

“Oh! You brought Barbara with you?” Paimon blinks.

“I thought that she might be able to know if she can help Venti.” Aether nods his head, putting his gloves back on.

“Venti? He seems normal, not injured at all.” she points out.

“Well, yeah but…” Paimon looks at Lumine.

“I asked Swan at the gate a few earlier. He said that Venti had left the city early this morning.” Amber explains as Barbara stares at Venti, the wind quiet that they could see it had barely enough strength to continue powering the windmills.

“And this comes to my second request.” Aether nervously smiles. “D-Do you think you can… uh, slap him out of his trance?” Everyone stared at him, and he immediately hid behind Lumine.

“Well I could try. But I don’t think that would help.” she shrugs.

“He hasn’t eaten at all, so we could at least give it a try.” Jean says, and they all watched as Barbara slapped Venti but he didn’t even seem to react, the mark on his cheek healing itself.

“Alright, that didn’t work either.” Paimon nervously says, Jean having to reassure her younger sister. “We have two other options. Master Diluc, say the thing.” Paimon grins.

“Why?” the red-haired man asks with a glare.

“Come on! He hasn’t reacted to any of our last ideas, and he seems that he couldn’t even hear us. Just give it a try.” Lumine waves a finger while the other on her hip.

Diluc just inwardly groans, Kaeya snickering beside him. “Fine.” he huffs, arms folded in front of his chest. “Venti, I’ll begrudgingly give you some wine tonight for free.

Silence follows.

“Seems that even the mention of wine doesn’t get him out of his trance.” Paimon frowns.

“Well. We have one more.” she says.

“And I wished it didn’t have to come to this.” Lumine sighs. “We might be bothering him.” she says.

“It’s either you or Paimon will.” Their companion grins, and the twins look at each other.

“Alright, fine. Lucky you I made Almond Tofu.” Lumine sighs, holding the plate of food. “Do you think he'll still come here?" Lumine nervously smiles as Aether made an expression of thought.

“Hm? Why ask that?” Barbara asks.

“Who we’re bringing is not fond with mortals.” Aether elaborates.

“Mortals? You say that as if he’s immortal.” Amber proclaims, and the travelers and Paimon looked at each other and back.

“Does more than 21 hundred years count?” Paimon asks, and they stared at her.

Jean and Diluc glance at Venti for a moment, exchange a look, and look at the travelers as they look at them. “Then we won't say anything. We have to at least make sure our bard is alright. But what's worse than talking to others?"

“Having to spend a day being nice to Childe.” the twins and Paimon say at the same time before Lumine sucks in a deep breath.

"Xiao, do you mind coming to Mondstadt, by the tree? We have a bit of a problem, hope that you're not busy." she spoke to the wind, and they felt it move and soon breeze away.

“What is it?” Amber smacked her hand over her mouth to stop herself from screeching of startlement, and they turned to see the Yaksha suddenly standing before the twins, arms folded.

“Oh thank Archons you weren’t busy.” Lumine sighs with relief and hands him the plate of Almond Tofu. “We have a bit of a problem.” Xiao raised an eyebrow, glancing at the others and back.

"Oh, Xiao." Jena said in surprise, and the Yaksha stared at her before bowing his head.

"Wait, you two know each other?" Paimon tilts her head.

"For a brief moment. He came here with a consultant named Zhongli." Jean nods her head.

"Just-" Xiao waves a hand and sighed deeply. "What is it?" he asks.

"It's about Tone-Deaf Bard." Paimon said, and earned a glare from the other. "P-Paimon meant to say Venti! Something's wrong with Venti!" she panics.

"Care to elaborate?" he asks, holding a hand out while his other arm was still crossed.

“Venti’s just… there.” she explains.

He blinks and turns his head to stare at the absent minded bard, and furrowed his eyebrows and his neutral expression became one of a worried frown.

“You know Venti more than any of us. Has this happened at all before?” Aether asks, everyone else staring at Xiao and glancing at each other.

“...Unfortunately it has, but it's can be rare occasions.” Xiao frowns slightly, walking over and kneeling down in front of the bard, staring at his eyes.

"Do you think there's a way to get Venti back? L-Like, uh, Dream Trawler?" Paimon asks but Xiao shakes his head.

“But there isn’t much I could do. Not even Re-” Xiao closed his mouth before he could finish, sucking in a deep breath and sighed. “Not even Zhongli could figure out how to stop it. The only thing we could do is just wait until he comes back, and see if he’s alright. But most likely not.” Xiao stared at Venti for a moment before gently bumping foreheads to try and catch a glimpse of what Venti was thinking, but nothing came. He sighs and stands back up again and looked at the others.

“And there's nothing that I could do to see what he's thinking or dreaming. I’ll be returning back to Wangshu Inn, now. I hope that you’re able to take care of the situation.” he says, and the three nodded and watched him leave.

“Well, that’s all the ideas we have.” Aether says, looking at the others.

“Do you think we can balance things on top of Venti’s head?” Lumine asks right after, making them all stare at her.

“We could try. And have it be a small pass time until he wakes up.” Paimon grins.

“What about what?” Amber asks in puzzlement.

"Well, we need a something to do in the pass time until Venti wakes up.” Lumine explains. “So why not balance books?”

"But it would be quite the walk to get back to Headquarters. And besides, I don't think we can check out-" Jean begins but they watched in silence as Lumine dug through her bag until he pulls out several books.

“Time to balance books!” Lumine grins, Paimon picking up one and placing it on top of Venti’s head carefully.

“Are you sure that this is a good idea?” Kaeya asks.

“Possibly, but he hasn’t had any fall just yet.” Lumine grins, placing two more.

They watched both Paimon and Lumine pile an extra five books until Paimon then held up a bright red apple. The two failed to see the others stiffen.

"Oh! Oh! What about this apple?" Paimon asks, grinning at Lumine.