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Wei Wuxian watches in amazement as the forest changes. That is such fascinating magic and Wei Wuxian wants to know everything about how she did it.  Did the water and resources from the withered bushes go to the rest of the plants?  Would the fruit from a plant that ripened without getting pollinated have viable seeds?

"Shrines are normal and expected.  I don't think you should have to have one if you hate the idea, though you'll probably have to stop people from building them for you in that case - most gods don't build their own shrines, here.  I can tell the villagers that they can introduce themselves and to bring poetry instead of building materials."

Aww cute cats.  "I would like a blessing."  Wei Wuxian's training as a cultivator would normally advise him to be more cautious about accepting blessings without asking exactly what they are, but Deviskaryl seems on the human-like end of things and unlikely to think he wants to be blessed by getting turned into a tree, and if he says no he will never find out the mystery of what sorts of blessings she gives out.

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"I don't mind a small shrine, to start with. Hmm..." A pair of carved stone cats appear on either side of the path, just where the change in terrain left off, and a pair of young flowering trees sprout up to frame a stone table just off the path a ways farther in. "That should do, I think. For blessings, you already have the one for animal body language - it works for all animals, not just cats - and I also offer luck, health, longevity, endurance, and reduced hunger."

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Reduced hunger is tempting; Wei Wuxian remembers being hungry.

"Would health keep me from getting sick in the future even though I'm fine now?"

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"It would - all of my blessings are permanent, as long as you still want them; if you find you don't like one it'll fade over a few days or weeks."

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"Then I'll pick health," he decides.

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"Done. And if you'd like, you can bring this vial with you," the cat with the necklace steps forward, "so that we can continue to talk - it doesn't allow me to see, unless you turn the dirt out somewhere for me to make a claim, but I'll be able to hear anything around it."

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Wei Wuxian bows, accepting the blessing and the vial.  "This one thanks Deviskaryl," he says with formality.

Then he examines the vial.  Does it seem like it will fit around his neck, or more something to put in his pocket?

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The ribbon - a matte black one - is wrapped three times around her neck with a knot at the nape to stop it from tightening; when one of the tails is pulled it opens out into a length suitable for a human to wear as a necklace.

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Necklace it is then.  He's quite happy with how well it matches his usual black attire.

"It looks like you've got everything here well in hand."  Paw?  Branch?  "Is there anything I can help out with here, or should I start making the rounds to the nearby farms?"

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"I don't think there's anything else here. ...assuming I'm not too close to any of your local gods, at least. Do you happen to know where the nearest one is?"

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"The line between what's considered a spirit and what's a god can be fuzzy, and not every type claims places or stays put.  There's a mountain god in the hills north of Lotus Pier.  He doesn't talk - not to humans, anyway, but I certainly won't be the one to tell you not to try.  He would be the closest.  The town about forty li downstream has a guardian spirit they worship.  He sometimes gives useful dreams warning of floods or telling the location of missing people."

Wei Wuxian mimes out drawing a map with his flute, not quite touching the forest floor as he describes the area.  He really should have thought to bring a map.  There's a T-junction between the main river and the tributary they'd crossed just after leaving Lotus Pier.  Both rivers are lined in farms.  The hills are on the other side of the tributary.  "Probably avoid claiming that direction past the farms - that's where he is.  Also, those hills are important to the feng shui of the area.  But going this direction, and this one, are fine for hundreds of li."

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"That's all good to know, thank you. That's all, I think."

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Wei Wuxian bows again, then backs out of the forest to go tell the adjacent farmers about their new neighbor. 

This doesn't mean he's going to be quiet, though.  When he's just barely out of earshot of the forest he looks down at the vial.  "Deviskaryl?  Just checking to make sure this is working."

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"Yes, I hear you."

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"This is an amazing necklace," he says, petting it. 

Wei Wuxian is about to start another long conversation, but pauses first.  "Does it cost energy when in use?" 

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"Not really. It's a piece of me, and I do have to devote some energy to maintaining myself at whatever size I am, but it's too small a piece to notice. And if it reminds you to think of me it'll more than pay for itself."

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He realizes that it likely doesn't mean much, if Deviskaryl is giving one out to the first person she happened to show up near, but his heart warms at the thought of being given a piece of someone to have around his neck. 

"You could do a lot with these here.  Cultivators can send messages to each other over long distances, but its expensive in terms of spiritual energy.  Also there are issues aiming - we need to know the person we're sending a message to very well.  As well as siblings or cultivation partners.  Or there's a couple types that can be sent to an exact spot."

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"I could do some of that - with a bigger holy object I can see, too, if that would be useful. What do you expect cultivators would do with the time and energy it saved you?"

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"There's not many long-range message spells getting sent with our current state-of-the-art.  Probably most of them are new wives reassuring their parents that they're doing fine in their distant new sect, or family trying to contact relatives late to coming back from night hunts.  They aren't a great emergency signal from the ones on night hunts since if they have the energy to send one they'd usually want to keep it for fighting or flying, which is why we normally use mundane flares.  Group hunts, conferences, and other gatherings are planned far enough in advance that the attendees find out in the previous one or the invitation is sent physically the next time someone happens to be flying in that direction.  Messengers flying on swords are way more reliable, and usually carry whole bags of letters each time."

"If I could talk across all of China without difficulty, I'd want to keep in touch with everyone I went to the lectures at Cloud Recesses with.  Or, I guess not all of them.  But a couple of them like Nie Huaisang probably don't hate me."  He does his best to keep up the cheer but the mask slips on the last sentence.

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"I can pass letters and report emergency signals much more easily than I can pass spoken messages, and more confidentially, too, for the letters; I'll think about it. Did something happen with your schoolmates? You seem perfectly charming to me."

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"Oh, I am charming," he preens. "Really, it's just Lan Zhan who is immune to my charms.  And Jin Zixuan, who totally asked to be punched in the face for insulting my shijie."

"Lan Zhan - he's from the Lan Sect of Gusu.  That's another cultivation clan to the east, and they are famous for being complete sticks in the mud.  Cloud Recesses is their sect's stronghold and it has over 3000 rules, and Lan Zhan is the most rule-abiding and stuffy one of them all.  The very first night I arrived he already hated me, just because I forgot the invitation and snuck in after dark with some alcohol.  I even offered to share some with him if he'd let me go, but he picked a fight then reported me."

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Uh-huh.

"I'd like to meet him sometime."

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"I suppose I can send him a letter though I doubt he'll respond.  Or he will but he'll come by just to tell me to go to Gusu with him for punishment for using unconventional techniques that are forbidden in his clan.  Hopefully he won't throw a fit about you not being a conventional god or whatever.  Not that he can do anything to either of us; we're in Yunmeng and well away from Gusu, and neither of us is a member of the Lan sect.  Who does he even think he is?"

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Somebody's got it bad, huh.

"If you aren't needed here we could go and see about establishing a bit of my forest there; I'll need it if I'm going to be passing letters around."

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"That will need to happen, won't it?  Yeah, I'm not being very useful around here.  I can take some time to go look for some nice empty forests close to Cloud Recesses."

Perhaps someone else would be worried about him getting dragged off to Cloud Recesses if he got too close, but Wei Wuxian doesn't even consider it.  He's more than a match for an army.

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