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Shi Qingxuan was awake, but his eyes were glued shut. His body laid motionless on the stone-cold floor.

He didn’t want to wake up.

Why wasn’t he dead yet? If he was dead, then at least, he’d be with…

Ge. Ge…

His mind flashes images of the streams of blood. The back of that familiar figure, still standing proudly with his last bit of strength. The head rolling on the floor, eyes frozen with manic defiance. The deafening sounds of screams that he barely recognized as his own.

And of course, Ming-xiong, no, He Xuan. The shadow looming over his kneeled form, watching his pathetic self with a satisfied countenance.

He felt the bile rise up in his dry, dry throat, but he couldn’t even move his lips. Even if he wanted to scream, his throat was still sore, aching, but not as much as his heart wrenching painfully in his chest.

But he knew. He knew that he deserved this. He and his brother had sinned. If they hadn’t, then He Xuan...he would’ve lived such a good life.

How did Shi Qingxuan even dare to take that fate away from him? Unlike him, He Xuan had lived such a good, heroic life. He had deserved to ascend.

But him? What had he ever done? His brother was the amazing one, not him.

And now, look what Shi Qingxuan had done. This was all his fault.

Maybe if he laid here for long enough, his body would just give out.

He had lived a good, luxurious life. He got to use fancy, rare spiritual items. He got to drink wine whenever he wanted. He had an abundance of followers and merits. He got to eat Xie Lian’s disgusting food. Now, that was something he wouldn’t miss. But Xie Lian had been a loyal, dependable friend, despite being a Trash-Collecting God. He had helped him with the Venerable of Empty Words…

And of course, there was the time he got to spend with his best friend.

Even...even if it had all been a lie, he had fun. Ming-xiong would always cross-dress with him. Even though he always acted reluctant to pull ridiculous stunts with him, in the end, he did it. He was a constant, reassuring presence in Shi Qingxuan’s life.

But in the end, it had all been to deceive him, hadn’t it? Ming-xiong had never wanted to be his friend. He had just been...waiting. Waiting for the perfect moment for his revenge.

What a hero he was, punishing the sinners.

Shi Qingxuan accepted it. He just wished that his brother could have been spared.

But even now, he still wanted to forgive He Xuan.

He wanted to wrap his arm around his best friend’s shoulder and laugh without a care in the world. He wanted to tease him about how he didn’t know how to use his own spiritual device (well, he knew why now, huh?), wanted to ask Ming-xiong to buy him drinks, wanted to flaunt his best friend around to all the other gods, wanted to ask him for help escaping his brother’s wrath.

But he had to wake up from this fantasy. Reality was much crueler. And he wasn’t sure if he could face it.

With the last of his strength, he brought his hands around his throat and squeezed.

Shallow gasps escaped his lungs, but even though his body tried to sustain this life of his, he couldn’t. His vision blurred from the tears forming in his eyes and his mind was hazy, making the world seem like it was spinning like a pinwheel.

Without him noticing, a figure appeared behind him. Shi Qingxuan felt a shoe digging into his back, and out of surprise, the hands around his neck loosened for a split second.

“Ah, what a sight. The esteemed Wind Master trying to end his life by his own hands,” A harsh voice spit out.

That voice. It could only be one person.

“M-Ming-xiong…” Shi Qingxuan choked out, surprising himself that his voice was still working.

“Don’t call me that,” He Xuan snapped, his foot grinding even deeper into Shi Qingxuan’s spine.

Shi Qingxuan shivered, feeling the cold glare being cast down upon him without having to look up.

He heard a dry laugh from above him. “So this is all your brother’s life meant to you?”

Shi Qingxuan kept his mouth shut, frozen in fear and despair.

“He sacrificed his life for you, and for what? For you to kill yourself just hours later?” He Xuan asked, his voice airy, yet ready to snap at any moment. “Talk about brotherly love, huh?”

“T-that wasn’t my intention!” He sputtered desperately. “But, but how can you expect me to live like this…?”

He Xuan narrowed his eyes. “Then you should’ve picked the first option, ah. I was kind enough to let you both live, so who else can you blame but yourself?”

“I do!” Shi Qingxuan shouted, pounding his fist on the ground. “I do…”

He Xuan lifted up his chin condescendingly. “Good. Now live the rest of your life knowing that his blood is on your hands.”

“Can’t you just kill me?” Shi Qingxuan whispered weakly.

He Xuan laughed, but his voice was borderlining on rage, his patience slowly running out. “Do you really take me for the kind of person to be that kind? Don’t push your luck. Accept your fate. This time, there is nobody to help you switch it.”

Shi Qingxuan had no words, so he kept still, wallowing in his misery and hoping He Xuan would just leave. He couldn’t bear his presence anymore…

He didn’t notice He Xuan drawing an array onto the floor until he was mercilessly kicked towards a door that he hadn’t even been aware was there.

“Don’t you dare try to end your suffering,” He Xuan hissed, stomping his foot back down on Shi Qingxuan’s back. “Now get out of my sight.”

Those were his final words as he sent Shi Qingxuan flying out the door.

Shi Qingxuan rolled onto the clear white sand of a beach, his body to powerless to stop himself. Weakly, he pushed himself off the ground and onto his knees. Disoriented, he looked around to get a grasp of his surroundings, but he had no clue as to where he was. He crawled towards the shore before his limbs gave out and he collapsed back onto the warm sand. He gazed out onto the waves crashing onto the shore, letting the water lick his sore feet.

He was surprised when he saw water droplets plopping into the sea. Wasn’t it sunny? How could it be raining?

When he placed his fingers on his cheek, he found them stained with fresh tears. He wiped them away with his blood-crusted palms before returning his gaze back out at the glistening ocean.

He Xuan just had to be cruel one last time, huh?