OMF V6C60 Distant Memories

The two of them approached the river and only stopped right on the bank. Xin Lan stared down into the water. It was crystal clear, letting him see down to the river bed. A crimson line seemed to twirl between the rocks and sand but he didn’t pay any more attention to it. Instead, he turned to Shun Tao.
“What now?”
“Senior Xin Lan knows best what he needs to know so I suggest you take a look yourself. Just step inside and use your spiritual energy on the read thread in there. That’s the pulse of life.”
“Mn.” Xin Lan nodded and stepped into the river. The water soaked his robe but he still walked forward until he reached the middle of the river. It wasn’t flowing fast. Quite the contrary, he almost didn’t feel the movement of the water. It was as if it only moved because of the twirling red thread down there.
Imbuing his spiritual energy was it? He closed his eyes and concentrated his energy at his fingertips, slowly guiding it toward the pulse of life. The two of them touched and mist floated up from the thread, dyeing the water read for a moment before it returned to its clear state. The mist gathered around Xin Lan’s feet, clinging to the hem of his robe. Fine threads crept upward and finally peeled away from his body and reached toward his hands, wrapping around his fingertips.
Xin Lan flinched. An image flashes through his mind. It was blurred and the light at the edges blinded him but he still made out a pair of beautifully sparkling eyes. They gazed at him questioningly and the golden brows above them raised.
“Are you alright?” A soft voice entered his mind and Xin Lan took a trembling breath.
This was obviously his Master. This was the day when they had met. He had been lying next to the road, too heavily injured to get up or even answer him. He had barely been able to crack his eyes open and glance at him. Back then he had wondered what this was. Such a pair of golden eyes, such perfect golden brows … He couldn’t believe this was real. But it was. He had still seen the same when he woke up in his Master’s palace later on.
Xin Lan gritted his teeth. Just when he had thought of it, the image in front of his eyes changed to that of Jinde’s study. The smell of herbs lingered in the air and a faint hum could be heard. He opened his eyes and looked over, only to see the person who had saved him. He sat on the window sill on the other side of the room with a book in his hand, slowly leafing through it. The sun shone down on him, making his hair glow and his eyes sparkle. He turned another side and reached up, unconsciously brushing his hair back, making the satiny strands slide across his shoulder. He twirled it around his finger, quietly reading his book.
He was … beautiful, perfect. He was the kind of person Xin Lan had always longed for. His heart beat faster and he turned onto his side despite the pain, immersing himself in that appearance. Regret welled up in his heart. Why had he stupidly fought like that? Now, he was injured and had given him such a bad impression. Could he fall in love with someone he perceived as strong? Ah, he needed a way to prove his true strength to him. He just needed to recuperate for a few more days …
Xin Lan’s hands twitched. As much as he loved to remember those old times, the few weeks he had had with Jinde when he still believed something could blossom between them, this wasn’t what he had come to do. No, right now, he had to find out about Xiang Yu.
The mere thought of him conjured up the image of his gloomy visage, the dark eyes looking at him disinterested but still able to show their disdain toward him. The black hair framed his face, making his skin seem even paler than it was. He seemed to be shrouded in a cloud of darkness. It was one that couldn’t be seen but only felt. Something that made most people recoil immediately.
Xin Lan’s lips curved up. A fallen god … He also knew he alone couldn’t win against one but he still wouldn’t retreat in front of them. This Xiang Yu, he could look at him as much as he wanted, he wouldn’t care. Anyway, he seemed to have found what he was looking for. He just needed to find out how to make Xiang Yu’s past appear.
Up until now, the things he had seen were the things he had thought of. As for Xiang Yu … He remembered the day they had first met.
This had been the day he had believed Jinde died. His thoughts still circled around his Master’s death. Over and over again he felt that pale hand clutching his and heard the faint voice that trembled more with each sentence. He had needed to lean down to understand him and the words he had spoken … “Burn me. Burn my body … so they won’t see. See if they can hold on. If they can’t … ask Qiu Ling. Chun Yin … he should have been … should have … been king. His son should take the throne.”
“Yes.” He had believed this was all, that there was nothing more his Master could ask of him. Burning him, burning the person he loved to ashes. Was there anything more cruel? Asking him to put the son of the man who had occupied his beloved’s heart on the throne … could there be anything else that could make his heart squeeze painfully like this?
But Jinde wasn’t finished. Whether he wanted to or not, he had always been able to make his heart beat faster with passion and make it squeeze in pain with just a few words.
“Xin Lan, if … if it’s … not asking too much … go help Jin Ling. It’s not his fault. I’m … just afraid he won’t be … able to hold on. I …” That hand tightened around his but the strength left it just as fast. “Don’t want to see my child … like that.” He took a shaky breath, his face turning even paler. “Promise me.”
Xin Lan had closed his eyes, barely holding back a scream. This was the person he loved. Not only had he never been able to realize this love, he even had to let him die in his arms. How could fate be this cruel to him?
“Xin … Lan …” Jinde’s voice grew weaker and his hand trembled.
“I promise. I’ll do everything you want.”
“Good. Then … carry me over. I … won’t be able to … on my own.”
“Mn.” Xin Lan had stood up from the edge of the bed and then picked him up. He looked at Jinde’s pale face and gently dabbed off the cold sweat that covered it. Only then did he proceed to the graveyard outside of the capital where the previous kings had found their resting places.
He looked at Jinde again and got a weak smile in response.
“They must look down on me … for being trapped in this form.”
They both turned to look at the white bones towering in front of them, reaching high up. This was a graveyard that only held the skeletons of dragons. Being left there in his other form … it truly was a disgrace.
Xin Lan closed his eyes and gulped before finally proceeding to the place Jinde had decided on several weeks back. He had them built a small house so Xin Lan brought him inside, putting him down onto the bed.
Jinde looked up at him, his lips and his eyes curving. “Thank you.”
“It’s …” Xin Lan took a breath to make sure his voice wouldn’t break. “It’s what I should do.” He squeezed his Master’s hand and finally, left the house, closing the door behind him and leaving the graveyard to let him die alone as he had wanted.
Only much much later did he return to burn the house with his Master’s body inside as he had instructed him and finally left for the demon realm.
And then, just after having a not-so-pleasant conversation with Jin Ling who still hated him to the bones, he was faced with a Xiang Yu that didn’t like him either even though they had met for the first time.

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