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    Kong Wen Hui
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The Spirit of the Plum Blossom Tree (TSPBT) - 8. Chapter 8

Mild Language.

Ri Chang was silent for a long moment, though he could feel her freezing aura radiating from behind him. She was a lot like Guan Shixin in that aspect, he realized.

Taking a deep breath, he stepped towards the grave, lowering himself and kneeling before the stone, pressing his forehead to the damp ground. A week ago, hell, not even that. An hour ago, he would have never dreamed he would be kneeling to the tombstone of a dead person, much less to a relative of Guan Hongye. But something was throbbing in his heart, and it wasn’t a stab wound.

He heard Ri Chang move, her steps soft on the dirt as she placed the wreath on top of the previous one. “You have five minutes, and then you will be gone.” She no longer sounded angry, rather, her voice was cold and devoid of emotion as she vanished back the way she came.

Alone in the presence of Guan Hongye’s worst mistake and greatest regret, he remained silent, inhaling the earthy scent of the ground. Once, he had wanted to be a hero for someone, just like the young Guan Hongye. He had believed in her, wanted to impress her, and swore to protect her.

One day, when he had gotten a little older and reached the peak of his maturity, Hong Shen even wanted to marry her.

Of course, fate always pissed all over his plans.

The girl he idolized was none other than Wang Jin, he recalled, the older sister of Wang Lei, the one who’s name he had recalled a week ago. His own memories slowly came trickling through, the dam of his arrogance holding them back broken.

Hong Shen had first met the Wang siblings when he had been rummaging through garbage dumps at the age of 14. Beat up, with a black eye and starving, he made quite the scrawny figure to the more nourished children, who had been camping out between the big cans. The older sister, dressed in a dirty t-shirt and ripped leggings, bravely shoved her smaller brother in similar clothes behind her, facing off against the intruder.

In the downtown streets of America, laws and rules didn’t really exist. The homeless fought each other for scraps, writing messages on spare pieces of cardboard and holding them at intersections for drug money, and every man fought for himself and himself alone. Young, middle aged, and old, age didn’t matter. Survival of the fittest was the hierarchy, and the children knew it well.

But at that moment that Hong Shen’s good eye met theirs, they all felt the same despair, the same hatred at the outside world. It was then that they entered into a mutual alliance, one that would last them through the next 9 years. Through the tough times, the good times, and the dangerous times, they formed a bond between them so strong it was thicker than blood, and transcended the petty labels the world had placed upon them.

Some people were rotten, and did not deserve to live. But still they stood at the top of society, looking down on others and flaunting their money and their power, taking advantage of the lesser creatures beneath them. The worst of scum, abusing children and committing illegal acts beyond public knowledge. And some people were the nicest people alive, spreading their kindness in the lowest places, with nothing but the skin on their backs as payment.

Wang Jin, Wang Lei, and Hong Shen all knew this to be true. They also knew it needed to be fixed, with the horrid people cleansed from the world so the good could have a chance to rise. It was this goal that fueled all of their actions through the years, and it would have continued to be so, if only Wang Jin hadn’t died.

If she hadn’t died, then they would still all be together, and Wang Lei wouldn’t have needed to kill Hong Shen, stabbing him in the back that horrible night.

With a shudder, Hong Shen pushed up to his knees, clearing his head of the morbid thoughts. He was not quite ready to face those memories yet.

Focusing on Guan Boli’s grave before him, he noticed the bird etched onto the stone above the name. Leaning closer, he realized it was crudely done, definitely not by a professional, but that seemed to add to it’s character.

“I’ve always wanted to be a bird..” Guan Boli’s voice came unbidden to his mind, and he shot to his feet, holding a hand to his head. Great, now that he had connected on a personal level with Guan Hongye’s grief, it seemed his memories no longer needed a whole cut-scene to present themselves. Soon, he may not even be able to tell the difference between their two souls anymore!

Deciding his five minutes had long since passed, Hong Shen turned on his heel to leave. As he did, something seemed to flash out of the corner of his eye, and he glanced back at the bonsai tree.

A face was staring at him, painfully familiar in it’s features. Deep blue eyes blinked out from the angular face, the nose slightly crooked above red lips. Black hair was tied up in a high ponytail, and as he watched, the face moved closer to him as a body began to materialize out of the bark of the trunk, dressed in white robes without a spec of dirt upon them.

Hong Shen gaped, his eyes practically popping out of his head. What the actual fuck?!

“Boli..?” He finally managed to pull himself together long enough to whisper. The boy, who looked exactly like the one from Guan Hongye’s memory, jumped a little at the name. His eyes, reminiscent of an evening sky, locked onto his own, and a bolt like lightning passed between them, stealing Hong Shen’s breath for a moment.

Guan Boli smiled, a beautiful smile that acted like a punch to his stomach. “Hong..ye,” he said, and his voice sounded like a soft songbird. “Thank.. You.”

“Thank you?! Why the hell are you thanking me? Boli!” Hong Shen’s vision blurred as tears spilled from his eyes, and he turned to lunge towards the boy, Guan Hongye’s instincts making him reach out to grab him.

But it was too late, Guan Boli simply gazed at him in bittersweet love as he began to fade. His hand went through his body, and the boy disappeared in a sudden breeze, dispersing as though he had never been there.

Standing still for a moment, Hong Shen let his hand fall limply back to his side. The hot tears wouldn’t stop falling, and with one arm he furiously scrubbed at them. What strange magic was this? How could he be so weak?

There was the snap of a twig breaking behind him, and he snapped around to face the person. “Who?”

Zi Sheng Shou stepped forward, a sorrowful expression on his face. Wonderful, he had probably seen everything and would now mock him for it.

Instead, he stopped next to Hong Shen, looking at the grave. “When people die, their spirits are left behind. Especially if they were strong.”

He glared at the doctor, who had seemed to stalk him from the palace. “Guan Boli wasn’t strong.”

The corner of Zi Sheng Shou’s lips turned up, irritating him further. “Really?” He gestured towards his legs. “They don’t have to be physically well-built to be strong.”

Hong Shen paused, as the truth of the doctor’s words hit him. Guan Boli had not been physically strong, but his mental strength and tolerance had been incredibly admirable. He never lashed out at the servants for talking bad about him, and always greeted everyone, regardless of rank, with a smile and a kind word.

Now that he thought about it, it was possible Guan Hongye may have been mistaken, and it was he who needed to get stronger. Not for Guan Boli, but for himself.

Struck with that revelation, he stared at the spot where the boy had disappeared just minutes before. But that didn’t explain what had just happened. Why was Guan Boli in the bonsai tree? Was there something he didn’t know?

Turning around, he saw Zi Sheng Shou walking back towards the South Palace. “Hey! What just happened right there?”

The doctor paused, glancing back at Hong Shen. His eyes were dark with something mysterious as he spoke. “Do you believe in ghosts, Your Highness?”

He frowned. What kind of obnoxious question was that? Ghosts were the stuff of children’s stories. “That’s ridiculous,” he scoffed. “Do you?”

Zi Sheng Shou only hummed, ignoring him as he continued on his way. Scowling, Hong Shen stomped after him, muttering under his breath all the way back.

⭑・゚゚・*:༅。.。༅:*゚:*:✼✿ Author's Translations ✿✼:*゚:༅。.。༅:*・゚゚・⭑

Wáng Jīn (王金) - king gold

 

Aaaah, it feels so good to finally begin the story at last! Get ready for a rollercoaster, this is going to be one wild ride!

Yes, this week I posted two chapters to make up for the one I missed last week. Next chapter, we will witness Guan Hongye's fated birthday!

Copyright © 2020 Kong Wen Hui; All Rights Reserved.
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Guan Hongye seems to be making Hong Shen more human.  Great chapter!  And thanks for posting two chapters this week.  I'm looking forward to the next one.  

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6 minutes ago, Valkyrie said:

Guan Hongye seems to be making Hong Shen more human.  Great chapter!  And thanks for posting two chapters this week.  I'm looking forward to the next one.  

Both have their own internal demons. It will be an insightful journey.

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On 10/14/2021 at 11:25 AM, drpaladin said:
On 10/14/2021 at 11:16 AM, Valkyrie said:

 

Both have their own internal demons. It will be an insightful journey

Don’t we all. Though the journey is not always insightful for many. 

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