Present days, the Southern Sea
* * *
Shi Wudu halted at the borderline between the two waters. No point in going further on, he reckoned, looking over the blackness down there. The ship will obviously be pulled down by the curse. His Water Master fan was spread open in his hand, ready for either attack or defense, depending on the situation.
“Sure you don’t want me to come with you, ge?” Shi Qingxuan asked him before Shi Wudu left for his mission.
“It will probably be dangerous, so stay,” Shi Wudu retorted at that one, his heart somehow felt heavy about this particular task.
The mission came unexpectedly soon after the birth of the new Supreme, so this was not a simple one. Heavens did not know so far who the new demon king was and what was he capable of, but soon after Mount TongLu released the new Supreme, ships started to sink in the Southern Sea. Naturally, the Water Master went on to explore the cause of their sinking.
“At least take that old pervert with you?” Shi Qingxuan suggested, but Shi Wudu waved him off. Pei Ming is a martial god, this has nothing to do with any war, this is something entirely different.
Shi Wudu looked upon the blackness beyond this certain point and pondered over how to cross it. It was too obvious that flying might have been a trap, but then again, hardly there was another option, so he leapt into the air lightly, calling several currents of outer water to form a dolphin beneath him, so he could ride upon it.
As he moved forward, the black water splashing underneath, a sense of dread grew in his heart. He felt a movement on the side and dodged the strange creature charging at him by a thread.
“What the…” Shi Wudu muttered, seeing it was a fish skeleton with glowing eyes gliding through the air around him. Another splash came from below, and another fish snapped its teeth at Shi Wudu. He cursed silently – he did not want to actually start a fight between himself and the Supreme without knowing the latter’s abilities and anything at all about him.
He fought off both of the creatures easily, but surely, there were more lurking down in the depths. As he was preparing for another skeleton’s attack, the sea suddenly calmed. Just then, a distant silhouette riding huge water dragon skeleton slid into his view. Shi Wudu warily watched the creature gliding towards him, trying to make out the appearance of the man on top of that dragon.
“What business do heavens have to do with me?” A harsh voice came, as the dragon closed upon Shi Wudu.
“You are the new Supreme Demon King?” Shi Wudu held his fan ready, just in case, “I am the Water Master Wudu,” he introduced himself, “I was sent to investigate this sea, since ships started to sink here.”
“I claimed the Southern Sea as my territory, so my condolescences to those sailors,” the man was clad in black, his hair was long and dark, falling around his death-pale face. There were silver waves of ornaments upon his sleeves and collar, “Have them warned up there,” he shrugged, seemingly not caring, “If they don’t come, the water won’t sink them. It’s that simple.”
Shi Wudu’s face twisted in a grimace. Such arrogance in that tone – should he take it and let it pass? As he wanted to answer to that man, a lightning flashed from the clouds gathered around them, spreading just enough light for Shi Wudu to discern his features. His face dropped and paled, the Water Master fan trembled in his hand, for this face he would have recognized in any situation.
“What is it?” The man asked, clearly not understanding such a reaction. Grey eyes, deep brows, the way too familiar ever-grumpy expression and thin lips Shi Wudu knew all too well were capable of the warmest of smiles… No, heavens, please, no, how could he… Why would he… Why, in the name of heavens?!
“A-Sheng, is that you?” Shi Wudu whispered, “Is that… really you?”
The man seemed to be taken aback.
“I am Black Water Demon Xuan,” he stated, “How do you know of my former mortal name?”
Shi Wudu smirked bitterly, feeling his heart sinking in that black water until the very bottom to be buried down there forevermore, “You… don’t remember me?” He asked unexpectedly soft, “You don’t remember anything?”
Black Water Demon Xuan looked up suspiciously, “What are you talking about? Do I know you?”
“Yes,” Shi Wudu wanted to say, “All too well.”
“Not really,” Shi Wudu said instead, knowing he sounds too fake, but unable to utter the truth, “About the ships,” he said curtly, “I’ll let them know up there. I apologize for the intrusion,” with that, he turned around and left.
Fled was more like it.
Nobody would say it is that famous ‘Water Tyrant’ now, with the way he looked – shaken to the core, on the verge of breaking down.
“A-Sheng… A-Sheng…” the name again and again repeated itself in his mind, followed by all those images of them drinking together, taking on missions together, and… more than just that, “I’m so… sorry,” Shi Wudu mouthed, clutching Water Master’s fan to his chest.
As he left, he did not know that He Xuan – Black Water Demon once known under the name of Wind Master Sheng, his mortal name being He Sheng, - still stood there on his bony dragon floating in the midair for a long time, looking in the direction Shi Wudu came from.
“But why would a heaven official of such a high rank,” he asked slowly, “Be covering me – the Supreme? Do I know him? Did I know him?” Something stirred at the back of his half-ruined memory, somebody’s cocky laughter and the sound of a waterfall coming through the window, the echo of taste of the finest wine at the back of the tongue. He Xuan shook his head, his fingers pressed upon his temples.
“Water Master Wudu,” he quietly repeated, “I’ll remember your name,” with that, He Xuan commanded his dragon to return to the Black Water Island.