Once, Shi Wudu dreamt of a time long past, of a fate long changed, of what ifs and maybes-
(For what does it truly mean to change fate?)
The first time Shi Wudu feels love was on the birthdate of his younger brother, who was born into the world young and pure, clean and smiling, a bundle of joy to bring light into his life.
His parents tell him that he since he has become a big brother, he has to protect this younger sibling of his who would rely on him for years to come.
And for Shi Qingxuan, who made Shi Wudu feel something more for the first time, Shi Wudu swears that he will do anything, anything, to protect that pure and shining smile.
So he does. He tries with all his heart and might.
Even after, when the Empty Words Immortal started to chase, when their family business fell to pieces and their parents together with it.
Even when he has to steal, to fight, to betray, and to bury-
Shi Wudu protects his brother with everything that he had.
Until the heavenly lightning struck down, lifted him up, condemning his brother to ashes.
(Have you seen such a pathetic god? Shi Wudu had asked Ling Wen once, one that couldn’t even protect their most important person.
Ling Wen had looked at him, and back to the scrolls in her hand. Heaven’s fate is not that easy to break. And there are consequences if you do.
Shi Wudu knows who she thought of, that young crown prince who pleased the gods, and fell for the sake of his country that he couldn't save.
But Shi Wudu is in no place to laugh, for he failed all the same.
Then what use are gods then? If fate cannot be changed?)
It is years later after his brother had passed, leaving him alone in the world with an immortal’s life, that Shi Wudu hears of a newly ascended Scholar god that shares his domain over the seas.
He Xuan, the common folk call him. Scholar He.
The young Scholar of the Black Waters, like the ink he uses and the dark seas he illuminated.
And Shi Wudu hates him at first sight.
Why does this man, with the same name as his brother get to live a blessed life, and ascend to the heavens beloved by all?
Why, when Shi Wudu has nothing left of Shi Qingxuan but bones to ashes in a decorated urn?
Why? Why wasn’t Shi Wudu strong enough, knowledgeable enough, to find this man with the same name as Shi Qingxuan before his death?
If he had, then maybe-
His brother’s fate would be change-
And Shi Qingxuan would be here, in the heavens, with him.
(What use am I? Shi Wudu demands of the heavens, cradling the only remains of his brother in his arms as ashes and tears spill onto the ground, if I can’t even protect the only one I love?
If this is heaven’s fate, then I-!
Ling Wen and Pei Ming lets him mourn, and later, when the wound has scabbed but never healed, she tells him that it was recorded by the mortals as one of the greatest disasters in history, with countless of sunken boats as the Water Tyrant raged, devouring all the seas.)
It is sometime after the whole debacle with Crimson Rain that the heavens start to receive prayers regarding a wind-harnessing beauty.
Really? He hears his fellow heavenly officials complain. First Crimson Rain Sought Flower, and now this?
(They were pathetic, really. And, if Shi Qingxuan were here-)
The prayers they get tell of a beautiful woman with a white fan, with laughter like chimes in the wind as she swings her fan and blows away those bold enough to cross her sight. The prayers tell of a young lord floating on the winds, drinking wine and pouring the remains over the wreckage that he leaves behind.
And the only common theme is a laughter like chimes in the wind, a bright smile and white fan that covers a beautiful face that surpasses the heavens.
(Why must I go with him to solve this issue?
It is not his fault that Shi Qingxuan-
Of course it isn’t. the only fault is mine alone. Mine for being weak and-
The first pair of survivors were a pair of wine selling merchant brothers, who were the only ones who were the only ones who survived the new calamity that swept through the travelling merchant group they were with, leaving nothing but the broken remains of overturned carts and broken goods. They recounted how the elder was defending the younger from thieves within their group, when the calamity that flew on winds sliced their companions to pieces, before grabbing a jar of wine and continued on her merry way.
Nobody knew the reason why the merchant group had been annihilated, without even a full body left behind as they were torn to shreds with each passing wind.
(It is later, far into the future, that Shi Wudu discovers a little shrine dedicated to the Wine-Loving Wind Beauty in the survivors' house, thanking her for protecting them. It is also then that Shi Wudu realises that not only is the Wind Beauty prayed to by many, but siblings in particular always had the pair of them placed together.
It warms what remains of his heart.)
Soon, stories started to spread in the mortal lands. Stories waxing poetic about the beauty of the Wine-Loving Wind Beauty, whose laughter and brilliant smile put the immortals to shame. Of how the only way to survive this horrific beauty was to offer wine and countless riches.
But not beauties, for there was no one as beautiful as the Wind.
(This is how it starts:
The eldest son of a city lord chose to push his beautiful younger sister into the pathway of the Youthful Lord of the Wind, offering up her and countless winery in exchange for his safety.
Rumours have it that Wind Beauty, enraged by this insinuation that he was not the most beautiful, drowned the eldest son alive, disfigured the youngest girl, and blew their city to pieces in spite.
Nobody speaks about them anymore, other than cautionary tales of not offending the Wine-Loving Wind Beauty, who is fickle like the wind, like an idle youth that drinks wine and floats around, unrestrained by mortal woes.
Beware, the common folks said, be wary of the beautiful wind demon in white, carrying a fan of zephyr made. Carry a jar of fine wine and offer it all for safety, or pour it into the harsh seas, and pray that the winds are safe.
Do not offend the Youthful Lord of the Wind that rules over the sky, nor do you offend the Lord of Ghost City that rules over the land.
And if you do, only the heavens might save you.)
The second pair to survive this new calamity told a tale of a young, feminine looking man whose beauty breaks the barriers between genders.
I wanted to save my brother, the elder sister had said, hugging her crying sibling towards her chest. So I ran into the forest and lake where they were trying to drown him.
Quite useless as it might have been, the village they had come from had the unfortunate tradition of sacrificing the youngest born child to appease the bloodlust of a demonic entity.
It hadn’t worked. And the only attention they had managed to get in the end was the Wine-Loving Wind Beauty razing their village.
Jie jie did it to save me, please don’t punish her, the younger, sniffling brother said.
Where did you encounter this wind-controlling ghost? Shi Wudu’s fellow official asked, scepticism plain in his voice. Not that Shi Wudu could blame him. Devastations capable of ruining cities tended to not leave anyone unfortunate to come across them alive.
The younger brother nodded. After Jie Jie dove in to save me, and we were both about to drown, the wind lifted us up and blew our clothes dry.
From where he was standing, Si Wudu could see He Xuan frowning at their fellow colleague, annoyance plain in his eyes.
(If Qingxuan was here, he would have gotten the full story out by now, he was always good with children and-
Honestly, he understood what He Xuan was feeling. The only reason his presence here was needed was because that lake had led to his territories, and he had never demanded human sacrifices.
And because Ling Wen had looked increasing frustrated with the amount of paperwork this new calamity had caused.
How did this wind ghost look like?
The elder sister suddenly brightened up, really pretty! He was sitting on a tree, with his legs swinging, drinking wine and fanning himself. Then asked us what happened.
And you told him?
He didn’t look like a ghost, the elder sister said, before sneaking a look towards Shi Wudu. He looked like…
Shi Wudu’s fellow official interrupted, yes, yes, we know. The rumours say that this ghost has looks befitting of an immortal. Did he say anything else?
The elder daughter looked around, eyes flittering to Shi Wudu’s direction again, before she nodded. He told us not to worry, and that he would make sure that our village would never be able to harm us ever again.
And the Wine-Loving Wind Beauty kept his promise.
The heavenly officials that were assigned to the case had seen the remains of it all. Blood splattered across the ground via bodies were flung up into the skies. The tattered remains of the houses that were smashed under the impact of their falling occupants. The sweet, cloying smell of wine lingering in the crevices of the road.
And the only unmarred land being the house belonging to the siblings that had been thrown to die.
All the signs that a calamity, that a devastation had just flew by.
The third time the matter is brought to the attention of the gods, the only thing left was a fallen kingdom whose infighting between the royal siblings brought a windstorm upon them.
(Countless of other mortals had died, but the heavens had paid no attention, for those mortals weren’t important enough.
The hypocrisy makes Shi Wudu shudder in disgust.)
The third time the matter of the ghost who controlled the wind was brought to the attention of the heavens, a title had long been granted to them by the masses.
The Wine-Loving Wind Beauty, the Youthful Lord of the Wind, the Young Wind Master, the Young Lady of the Wind.
Capricious and Beautiful, Idle and Free.
(May their youthful façade be the last thing you see.)
The third time the matter is brought to the heavens, is when the prayers start to grow in numbers.
The third time, is when a Wind Master was born.
So why did you kill the city lord and his family?
Hm? Ahh! Ge, it was horrible! They had such a good fate, yet the older brother wanted to push the younger sister into the depths! Aren’t elder siblings meant to protect?
En. Qingxuan is right.
Right? Ge always protected me. I was planning to save the sister at first, but then she offered me her middle sister, who she claimed was the most beautiful in all the lands. Ge, I was so angry!
It is later, after villages have fallen and kingdoms decimated, that the heavens realise what the common people had long known.
Like how Crimson Rain Sought Flowers spared his namesake, the Wine-Loving Wind Beauty spares siblings.
(The story goes like this:
Please, Lady Wind Master, a kidnapped royal prince begs. I will give up all I have. Please save my younger brother.
The Wine-Loving Wind Beauty had laughed, fanned herself, and patted the young prince on the head. Sure! All you have to do is jump out of there! She said, as a flick of her hand blasted a hole in the walls of the tower. And I’ll even bring the little prince back to your kingdom!
The kidnapped royal prince had stared in horror, before kowtowing three times in thanks. Thank you, Lady Wind Master, he said, before stepping through the hole-
-and into the arms of the Wine-Loving Wind Beauty who caught him and praised his dedication to his brother. It’s always nice to see brotherly love. My Ge loves me, and I love him back too! So I’ll help you out.
In the end, all that the heavenly officials were able to see were the ruins of a kingdom that dared to kidnap a pair of siblings, and how an entire country built shrines to honour the Young Lady of the Wind and her mysterious brother.
The sudden increase in merits that Shi Wudu got was nothing more than a coincidence.)
Ling Wen getting annoyed simply results in collateral damage for everybody else. And Shi Wudu couldn’t give a damn about the countless complaints that arose from his followers during this time of the year about the choppy seas.
He had more important things to do.
(Like staring at his brother's ashes for hours on end, researching ways to refine the soul of a phoenix into a pill, thinking of ways to get Crimson Rain to find his brother's ghost-
Gege is sorry he is so weak.)
But despite the lack of care he has concerning the new Wine-Loving calamity, Shi Wudu had no choice but to descend to deal with it.
Or face an angry Ling Wen and frustrated Pei Ming.
Besides, logically, he did make a good candidate. Seeing as the Wind Beauty hadn’t encroached on his territory, and didn’t touch the boats that prayed to him.
The other water gods suffered windstorms and contrary gales, but Shi Wudu really didn’t care.
The others must have offended Wind Beauty somehow.
So, despite his power (which is useless, because his brother is nothing but ashes in his palace-) Shi Wudu is still a member of heaven’s bureaucracy, and had no choice but the descend into the mortal realm, to the current location where the heavenly realm was getting frantic prayers about a Youthful Wine-Drinking Idle Master of the Wind.
(Funny, funny, funny, the brave ones say as they tell stories.
Stories about how ships that pray to the Water Tyrant sometimes pick up a beautiful passenger, whose beauty makes gender irrelevant, and cross the seas in record time because the winds were on their side.
Funny, funny, funny, they say, as they recount the suffering the others ships face, with violent gales and vicious storms that overturn all.)
Ge…? Ge…! Ge ge! It’s really you!
Qing… Qingxuan…? How…?
Ge! Are you angry? I didn’t mean to do all this but… after I ate the Empty Words Immortal…
How...? Never mind. Ge isn’t angry. Ge is… sorry. That he was so weak.
Ge… Ge ge’s not weak. And it’s okay. Qingxuan is here now.
There were violent winds and terrified screams. Blood splattering and bodies smashing to the ground from the skies.
And in the middle of it all, a white clad beauty holding a fan, whose laughter froze Shi Wudu to the spot.
(Weird, weird, weird, the brave ones say, about how those that worship the Wine-Loving Wind Beauty in secret always manage to somehow cross the seas of the Water Tyrant safely, even if their offerings fall short.
Weird, weird, weird, the brave ones say, when hidden shrines that worship the Water God and the Wind Demon, the Water Tyrant and the Wind Beauty, side by side start to pop up.
Weird, weird, weird.)
Then, the white wearing, wine-drinking, fan using bewitching beauty of the wind turned around, the fan that was so similar to the one Shi Wudu held dropped to the ground, and the roaring winds fell silent.
The second time Shi Wudu felt love again was when his brother was reborn from the flames of hell, into a capricious and beautiful, idle and free, wine-loving wind master of the skies.
So what if he’s a kingdom destroying calamity?
Shi Wudu would fight the heavens if it would keep his brother safe.
It is years later, and countless adventures past.
After the His Highness the Crown Prince of Xian Le makes friends with a calamity and marries another. After Shi Wudu defends His Highness the Crown Prince of Xian Le in the heavenly court, because all that is precious to his brother is precious to him too. After Shi Wudu holds back the urge to murder Black Water He Xuan for corrupting his younger brother, because dammit, he’s the only one that Qingxuan should call Ge, and there shouldn’t be any of this He-xiong business!
Stop shifting into a woman!
It’s fine, Ge! I can take care of myself now.
What if some unscrupulous lecher like General Pei fixes their eyes on you? Or even worse, some lecherous Scholar?
Hey, Shui-xiong, I wouldn’t lay hands on your brother!
He-xiong's not a lecher!
It is years later and countless adventures past, when Shi Wudu figures that this, this, could perhaps count as happiness.
Until Pei Ming opens his mouth and ruins everything.
Now there’s two devastations that call heavenly officials Ge, Pei Ming laughs as they see Crimson Rain tagging behind the Xian Le Crown Prince. You think Black Water would call you Ge? Seeing as he and Qingxuan are-
Shi Wudu merely glares, and ignores Pei Ming’s terrifying words as he looked towards his brother. Shi Qingxuan stands to the side, hands holding what seemed to be kohl from the Ghost City, bugging He Xuan into shifting into a female form.
Well. For his brother’s happiness, Shi Wudu guesses he could try to tolerate Black Water He Xuan. As difficult as it might be.
Shi Wudu figures that this, this, could perhaps count as happiness.
But this is just it, a dream long past, and all that's left in the end is a rusty sword and a broken fate.
And Shi Wudu laughs, for his fate-
"-is up to me, and not the heavens."
(For this is what means to exchange a fate.
Ascension with Descension. Wind with Water. Ghost with God.
Tragedy with Joy.)
Qingxuan... Ge is sorry. He'll have to go first.