* * *
“THERE’S A GHOST! A GHOST!” A frightened voice from the kitchen rang. There wasn’t any particular reason why would Shi Qingxuan jerk up on that particular phrase. After all, today there were too many weird people and not only people in Puji Shrine – its opening celebration was truly something only His Highness could achieve like this! However, somehow that phrase caught in his ear. He trailed off from bickering with Heaven’s Eye over the food and suddenly made up his mind.
“Ol’ Feng, where are you going?”
“We want more soup, Ol’ Feng!”
“Is there any more chicken over there?”
Shi Qingxuan did not hear any of these. He ran, hobbling hopelessly, through the crowd and tables, towards the entrance, his face twisted with effort. Only when he ran into the open, he stopped, frantically looking around, searching at least for a glimpse of… black! That person, he thought he saw him at the end of the street. Shi Qingxuan gritted his teeth and continued to hop in that direction.
His clothes became even sweatier, but he didn’t give up, still chasing after…
“Wait! Please, wait!” He called out, desperately struggling to catch up. In that manner he reached until the end of the village. The road further on was empty, and on the sides there were farmers’ fields. Shi Qingxuan slumped onto the ground, catching his breath. The night breeze blew over, and he shivered, but paid no attention to it. Somehow, his vision was blurred – it was only then that he realized he was crying.
Just then, somebody pulled him up roughly, lifting him to his feet. Shi Qingxuan sobbed, as he looked around to see whom it was, and froze on the spot his eyes widening.
“What are you doing running around all sweaty? You’ll catch a cold like this,” a grumpy voice came.
Black hair, black clothes, cold eyes and air of both gloom and solitude around him. Shi Qingxuan was looking at He Xuan, unable to speak, although there was so much he wanted to say. But in the end, all he uttered was, “I broke the fan again,” as he pulled his torn Wind Master fan out. He Xuan’s expression did not change, as he accepted the fan from his hands. Shi Qingxuan wiped his tears with his dirty sleeve, “I’m sorry,” he said, “For going after you. I just wanted to see you, I guessed it was you from what they spoke over at the kitchen, and I… I… wanted to see you again,” he finished miserably.
He Xuan silently stood on his spot, merging with the darkness. Then, “I don’t know if I can repair it again,” he said quietly.
Shi Qingxuan shook his head, “It’s okay, it’s okay, I didn’t even mean it like this, I just… I thought you said you never wanted to see me again,” he spoke barely audible.
He Xuan looked at him, “Let’s go. I’ll take you back to the shrine.”
Shi Qingxuan’s legs trembled from all the running and he tripped with the first step, and then halted, staring at the hand that was extended to him. The last time that death-pale hand was seen atop of his brother’s head, tearing said head off the body. Now that hand was offering him support, and the choice was his for accepting or denying it.
Shi Qingxuan pondered over it for a while, before making his final decision.