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Dissonant Serenity In The Drifting Hours of Hourglass

Chapter Text

Lil’s Apple fares at the night near the birth of morning, body gripped by the thighs and hands of its owner. It has been both sulking and obeying him all the time, mood constantly changes under the coldness of night and the heat of noon that has lasted for months to no end in the ways, switching from fields to fields, towns to towns. The supply of several Emperor’s smile is hanging and swaying with the energetic adrenaline of the movement. Sometimes its owner offers the rest and went off for provide the food, and there’s hidden loyalty under its rebellious nature, the tender whipping of the reins as the different paths travelled uncounted times. Silk hair tied tautly and strapping, unwavering by the strong blowing of the wind dashed. And then the strong colour painted on his face.

That night, they stopped at the one of the towns in Yiling, the place where he was ever roamed in its street of hunger as lost, malnourished child in the middle of cold and fear, and when he built his unfavorable reputation amongst his peers and ordinary people. Both are the pasts he no longer burdens himself to, as the past is the past and time continues its ticking to no end and sparing no one, nobody, and nothing. There’s no use to dwelling in the past, he thinks, let bygones be bygones, washing off the catharsis and the necessary of letting go. A lodging and the future placed close within his vision.

He steps in into the bright light, and one scream pulls it back to the darkness.

Wei Wuxian sees a little girl alone in the middle of paddock nearing, tears raining heavily from her face and the pleading of her shrieking. Behind her a ‘person’ with greenish skin envelopes itself around her shoulder and waist, black long sleeves about to sink her into the nothingness and the unknown, far from the awareness of her family or town’s people. Red eyes sharper in its edge as its sharp fangs about to sucks the air around her, hissing its soft growls in her ears, the pleasure is depriving from the fear of the livings. The fangs grow closer, and the young girl lets out her loudest scream enough to echoes across the trees and into the towns. And a glow of vivid red lights punches the Jiangshi’s face harder enough to knock it several feet into the aridity.

The piercing demonic glare meets his eyes as the hisses become louder and unbearable shrieking piercing its way into his hears, and the air feels as if it’s vibrating greatly underneath its scream of wrath. The blurriness suddenly plague his sight and he close his eyes for a second. As if everything feels like moving in the speed of light, the vision of the sprawled Jiangshi in the ground already vanishes when his orbs are open widely, the gleam of several stones that bounced off is what all he sees under clear vision.

And then, everything that happens is a flash of images in a way he unable to comprehend himself. Pieces of thousand remembrances come as a wave under his blurry vision, both the good and the bad above the white backdrop. Red dots of bloods then filling that white canvas in the next, not sparing anything behind and into the sinking inside red liquids and to the horrifying inside of human, faces unrecognized as the many of its own numbers. For seconds, he doesn’t feel anything other than numbness and coldness, as if there’s flow of air inside him is being sucked so tenderly and lovingly under its caress.

A sucking sound of breath, the widened of his eyes as his vision finally go clearly, and the sharp jabs on the right back side of his neck.

The several dropping of red bloods on the ground. Before, it was wetting his black clothes first, camouflaging the redness of its real colour.

His hands punch the Jiangshi to the ground, sending it into several feets beside him, and the growling grow louder under its apparent anger. Wei Wuxian waste no time to send two talismans to its head, the bleeding of his neck heaving under the movement. He lands the final blow with the forming of brightest red lights and hitting the creature in fast light, very high-pitched scream accompanies the loneliness of the night along with the burning to the ashes that colouring the air of tranquillity.

A great debility then washes over him, and his body staggers into the ground. Something in him feels as if it’s deprived from a thing, a thing that’s essential but he can’t comprehend of what it’s right now. His breath slower, and he places his hand into the bleeding spot of his neck. A blue light glow from his hand and giving its spiritual light into the stream of the hole, sewing it right into darker trace of the colour of skin. And he stays like that until the sky starts to rise and the dark grey colour change into the purplish-orange one and during the beginning of the dawn of new time, another time for chance that’s unguaranteed in the future.

By the time he awakes, that little girl already ran away from the place, probably into the town and into the embrace of her parents that worries about her well-beings. An image of his parent’s faces suddenly comes in split and he only let out a smile, a contemplated one in return, his glazed eyes doesn’t match the expression in his below face. And then he rose from his sit and into the dawn.

The next time he rides his donkey, the hair that accompanies him isn’t silk, strapping one but the blistered, tangled one under the improper tying of its falling and the heavy blowing of winds that become colder and colder for his skin.

And the colour of his face starts to fade from its beauty. 

Chapter Text

He rides in the weariness of the sun and in the mourn colour of twilight, the slamming tune of emperor’s smiles escorting the trips to countless roads, passing the fertile paddocks and blooming red Astilbes of Summer, soon to be withered under the Autumn that peelings the lives until it desolate under the sorrow of Winter, and the chirp touch of white ceramics animating the solitary of maceration walks of Lil’ Apple that sounds blurrier and blurrier in his ears, hair falls untied and rumpled from merciless blows of wind and energy deprived from his these days. Face paler and Lil’ Apple doesn’t get its voice of encouragement recently as it’s unusually glancing at the bony hands of its master. It doesn’t even hold its fondness again like it used to be.

That night, he stops at one of the finest wine shops at Caiyi, having just arrived in the town after didn’t visit it for one months and more, missing the fresh scene of river and the liveliness of people clinging into the boats filled with baskets and types of silks. The last time he was here was to collect dozens of his favoured drinks into his accompany along with donkey, as he didn’t want to be too lonely for the journey. If there’s one thing that he wants or not want to admit, is that the thing he hates the most is to be lonely and abandoned.

Ridiculous, he shakes his head. He experienced it multiple times in the past already, why the need to be afraid?

On the way, he feels there’s bit of eyes that were directed to him, though he doesn’t know whether it’s because they finally recognize who he’s or it’s because he brings the donkey alongside. It wasn’t like this the last time of his visit, so it baffles him a little, only a bit, and it doesn’t bother for him to continue of his walking. He feels the mixing scents of bamboo crafts, pastries, teas, fruits and flowers saturates the air more with its multi beauties and spirited characteristic, and closes his eyes savouring the lively air freely while he still can. And Wei Wuxian walks in the path beside the streaming river, unconsciously dragging the slightly limp movement of his legs.

The shop which he stops by is just like the ordinary building in this town, having usual white walls and grey roofs. The colour of the building is what detached the town to experience its full lively colours, being characterized and known with its dull shapes and dull colouration. Caiyi Town’s people commotion make it up for the merry-meeting spirits though, and Wei Wuxian can only feel a strange wave as if something is slamming itself into the back of his head.

He tied Lil’ Apple to one of the fences and steps his foot into the shop.

“Four Emperor’s Smile jars please.”, he orders, his eyelids start to feels heavy.

A servant approaches him and notes his errands, occasionally stealing his glances at the black with red talks flute tucked in his waist. Wei Wuxian blinks, oh…right, he just realizes, I still haven’t put Chenqing in my pocket, of course it would be perfect material for suspiciousness. The last time he was here, he didn’t forget to put it back from making people easily recognize who he’s. Though his name maybe already cleared, he doesn’t want to be whether the subject of the part of rumours. Cultivators’s nature is after all, never change from their tendency to exaggerating the narration, for the sake of their own enjoyment and getting amusement from others’s sufferings.

He tucks his flute back to the pocket and the servant leaves the spot, carrying the note of the order.

The next minutes, the person comes back bringing several Emperor’s Smile, hanging and clashing next to each other, and then placing it above the table. There’s just this strange soreness down below his throat that he can’t comprehend properly, and the way he feels the regular activity of his breath. He then shakes his head in amusement. All the things in his mouth is dry somehow.

He then takes one full bottle of Emperor’s Smile and pouring it deep down inside his throat, whisking the sore throat that has been plagued him lately. The gulping is both forceful and heavy, and the hands that pouring it is also heavy too. And then he slams the bottle into the table a bit loud, breath panting heavily whether it’s from the waters that forcefully filling his throat or because something else he unable to realizes. Both of his hands then drops right beside his frame.

And just as he’s about to close his eyes for the rest from the plaguing weariness, he hears the echoes of roaring laughter exploded from the table far from him and near the left wall.

It has the same tone, the same mannerism, the same acts of narrating of rumour for one’s own amusement at the expense of others that resonances inside him for its familiarity and reminiscence. Old words of tittle-tattle thunders right before his eyes and blocking other senses.

“……………………the Yiling Patriarch, couldn’t been killed on the spot except for the coalition of Jian clan, Lan clan, Jin clan and Nie clan for he was such a terrible disaster…….”

Ah…that again.

That’s too much of exaggeration, isn’t it? He’s pretty sure that even ordinary people could kill him easily. He’s also an ordinary after all, has been deprived from the formation of his core a long time ago and bring it to his first grave.

He chuckles in the midst of unclear words around him.

But then, it’s all only filled with blurriness in the next, nothing but dozens of blankness under the blitz of past and present images meddling into blurriness, though he swears he could hear both the utterance of his and Lan Zhan’s name in the midst of echoes that buzzing his ears. The sight in front of his eyes is nothing but a blank white canvas.

The same blank, familiar canvas.

And in the next it’s soon filled by blooming red dots coming out of nowhere.

 

Where?

……

When?

…....

How long?

……

And just as his hands are about to reach the canvas that’s now filled with full red, the sight greeting him in the next is a floor filled with puddle of red liquids poured from his own nose.

Chapter Text

He stares deeply both weary and wide-eyed at the big red puddles on the bottom, forming its flowers on the floor and pouring its blossom wider and wider into others. The next things happened feels too blurry and trippy to be comprehended, but can still recollect the shout of expulsion directed to him in the next and his trippy escape after that. He remembers throwing the money flippantly after, dragging the spilling Emperor’s Smile with him on his limp running as the world turning around and spiralling in front of his eyes, bumming into here and there from merciless dizziness afterwards and the what seems to be eternal red raining trails off along the way from tiles of floor to the hard ground of street, and his own hands that dragged the rope that tied Lil’Apple quiet hard to the point it almost kick and jump.

In the sink of the sun and the moonless sky that umbrellaing the darkest night darker than what he had seen previously, the image of spiralling street turns into the view of white wall of Caiyi town’s famous medic house. His frame stands in front of it while blood still dangling reddening the dark colour of his robes that conceal the beauty of the crimson wetting, all over the clean streets and floors of building he ever steps in. The hand then opens the door feebly and he steps almost like barges in the exhibit of mannerism of what could be described as the drunken state befitting his famous frenzy reputation.

Yiling Patriarch can’t care less as he’s drunk under the madness of the flickers of the fuse of past and present recollections, flashing and alternated between one another in nauseous blurriness. All he cares is too touching, reaching something, or someone that can help him in his chilling loneliness and fear, even if they’re far away and in the far distance as far as the stars, even if the hard-tilted floor is all he’s about to meet.

He sits numbly in the cold room full of the smell of bitter medicine and white bottles, the light comes like hurricane piercing the sensitive lens behind the pale face and dying eye-bags, feels as if breath catches in a big lump of his throat and then the storming of lightheaded and headache, slowly as his senses come back into memory. The dangling of the crimson is still dampening the bottom of his black robes and hands bloody from the red, and he stares at the worried expression of a female medic in the front, sitting gracefully on her chair. He tells her the need.  

Wei Wuxian then be lay in the white soft bed, and the sharp pin that approaches to absorb his blood is the last sight he sees before the complete darkness engulfing whole vision, the same scenery that soon will approach at the end of the life, and he feels something is taken away from him.

He then opens his eyes in the room full of whiteness, unlike the wooden wall that nuances the nature feel of the room he last steps in.

And he sees the same dots of red crimson marking its collective blossoms in the blank canvas, one seems fulling the top part of transparent curved vessel. It drops to the bottom slowly and tranquilly, filling in the emptiness of it with the crimson. He hears the vague line of the ticking of clock and the beating of heart mingled into each other, unable to distinguished.

And then he hears its drops and its stops.

The light comes like hurricane fulfilling the sight of what’s supposed to be, the wooden walls, the many of overwhelming bright lamps, and the others. There’s white bottles and jars around him and his white bed feels foreign, and the cleared vision of the mourning room with the smell of the sick and the death pinpoints him already. He lifts his wrist and several purple bruises greet his orbs, and then pinches it with uttermost energy left, the pain with the contrast dominance of numbness is the only approaches in next.

He sees the grim expression of the medic on the bedside of his bed, and he understood.

They don’t talk much in next other than prescription of several herbal medicines, some magic portions, and the suggestion to go into the greater famous medics in which he declines politely. He thanks her afterwards both for the expression of gratitude and the words of goodbye, as Wen Qing had been to him in the blurry time of sixteen years ago behind. Soon it will be all the same.

He departs from the town with pack of white bottles and pills and Emperor’s Smile, and white blank letters brought freshly from the shop as new companions alongside Lil’Apple, coloured by the yellow and blueness of the dawn greetings. He soon keeps white letters as the dearest, writing it within blank few days and nights, the drops of the red and tears on paper are both for expression of fake smile and the bid of silent farewell and the weeps as a body slowly losing the heat and liveliness its new blood cells.

Chapter Text

That letter arrives just as the winter blooms its frost petals.

Lan Wangji looks at the hill of paper unfolding to no end in front of him, mostly written in the black inks of the same repeated rigid and colourless tone. Amongst the monotonous of the letters, distinguished the one that written in the bright red of ink, shedding its beauty along with the hidden dissonance of the beats far from the ears of the jade and the winter. The blade of ice lay in the near distance, waiting for itself to melt in the far summer the year later, yet unable to shed its iciness from years to years.

He touches the paper with the bright red and opens it gently so it wouldn’t tear its fragile nature.

 


 

Dear Lan Zhan…

Have you ever been to “Scarlet Lovers’s Blessing” festival? This is Yiling Xishi Town’s culture only, solely being held in the peak of redness of Autumn in Yiling. In there, you can see the red umbrellas winged their wings, shielding the people from the literal raining of crimson petals and what they call as “blood rain”.

It’s not literal human’s bloods though, Lan Zhan, so don’t be mistaken.

It’s the red water paint that spilled all over the roof tiles by the town people living in the above, staining the sold goods and the festival streets under during this traditional event. The said lovers of the town, the lovers that lives within must shield themselves with the umbrellas of the same colour, made from the pretty thin material that I still don’t know of, but ought to find more in the future out of my curiosity.

In the tradition, the shielding of the umbrellas isn’t sought to be broken, but to be cherished and treasured like a gold being. There’s no worship for the opposite, nor cherish for the invented.

If the red water managed to branch the umbrella ----  

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He rides in the sinking of last sun of Autumn and the beautiful snowflakes that shed its frost tears all over the earth and the livings and the dead. He’s decorated in malignant purple bruising of the coldness of the wind and seasons, and plagued by the suffocating breath along with the elegant drops of scarlet liquid both inside and out as the new born crimson petals fail to reach its adulthood along with the withered of the white marrow.

Lil’ Apple walks slowly in the road with the merging of the piles of the red and the white, bones freezing from the season of death and rebirth. At the reach of its limit, its owner instructs the stopping and tying it with the nearest wood fence. It watches as the two white jars collides with each other and creating the candle of impact that echoes in the lifeless vacant landscape around them, and a white notebook as pale as the falling snow being held so tightly in the embrace of the pale man, and it still watches as the man sank into the ground with back leaning on the former of tree that once had its glory, now dry in its barren old brown branches with no single life of the flowers and the leaves. His pale hand brings the notes on his bent knees, and he lays the needed inks beside.

The first sheet of notes is flipped open, and the bright red can be seen inside. It’s the man’s first attempt of writing letter, and the needed such as the ink and paper were already under the wings. The words within are the letter to the beloved, the longing invisibly presences in the spoken sentences and the other things hidden inside the red and behind the mask of the smiling.

Written in it also, the repeated cycle of the non-communication of the past, carried to the present with no change, but can’t help to slips the implicit. The mouth and hands being zipped to please another, and each drops of red inks secretly hoping for the preserve of their own, fearing the incoming of another red that about to taint the blank canvas.

In that white paper, the last sentence of the letter reads.  

…it means that the lovers's blessings aren’t blessed.

Chapter Text

The man of turmoil sits in the empty teahouse near where the ashes of his kin rest at the end of a very long day. He’s basked and drenched in the last sun of Autumn, and bit of dust motes dances vivaciously on purple robes. The white cup on the table never touched and the water filling the empty space grows cold by the freezing wind of autumn of winter. Beside it and a hand lays a white letter still neat and smelled like a new that hasn’t once been touched since its arrival earlier in the cold twilight morning, on the same empty day as the Yunmeng's days in its uncounted years. It was delivered by the courier that had travelled thousand roads to reach the leader of Jiang Sect, made later but arrived first from the two.

On the once a mere blank page, painted the sentence “From Yiling” in fresh red inks and a familiar handwriting that he hadn’t seen almost two decades ago since the writer’s fall from the grace and his rise above the hell. The streaming sound of water and floating Lotus flower are waiting for his answer to the presence of the letter, and vapor smell of the burning licenses of the ashes kept in long years whispering to him not to repeating the same mistakes, Jiang Yanli and Jiang Fengmian’s voices could be heard from the far distances in the form of dusts and grey glitters sinking in the thin wind.

The man sighs, the letter is touched and picked in hesitation and unfaded sentiment.

A white sheet disentangled with the graceful fall and caress of Autumn wind.

 


 

He’s bathing in the colour of the red, crimson puddles are all over the tiles and grounds. The red turns his dark indigo robes into the slight reddish, and the scarlet umbrella he holds was teared mercilessly in each four sides, crimson liquids dripping from every strands of the drenched hairs. In front of him lays the screams of ecstasy and happiness, wearing their clothing in the same tone as the blood and the red petals that swirls around in the dance of celebration, touching the happy crowd and the dry fragile skin of him. And the contrast of pale and the bold colours is terrifyingly beautiful, an art in the midst of excessive crowds and the suffocating bold reds.

He stands still at the edge of the road, the ruined umbrella left abandoned near his feet as time passed and people dispersed. The petals still dancing around, gently stroking the fragile dying layer of his skin and heat. The red dripping of his own deceives the world as crimson drips of the red paints wrapping it in protection, and he only feels nothing but the lightheaded of his own head, feet swaying when his weight is jarringly naught in the face of the earth that slipping underneath.

That dawn, he staggers himself to the nearest clothing shop in the town, legs tottering few times but refuse to give up to the weight of ground, gaze fixated on his crimson-stained clothes and the white pills on his pouch, now disgraced by the impurity of red. He brings the pills on his palms, looking at it in an unidentified gaze before letting go and scattering it to the floor, each shattering in contacts with hard ceramics. In front of him stands two robes, one black and the other is in the red. He grabs the two on his embrace and displayed it in front of the merchant.

“Which one of these two colours conceal the red better?”

 


 

Jiang Cheng, can we meet in the near time?

One of the sentences in the letter reads.

The brother’s answer arrived a week later in Yiling, wondering from towns to towns before finally in the hand of the addressed. The red robe man stands his presence near the post of letters, waiting for the response of a person and waiting for the answer of the another, repeatedly reminding himself of his own fragile mental for the Jade and the sudden selfish will to bond with last rope of his childhood before his pulse freeze and heart stop its ticking. When one of his waits comes, he grabs the letter and making a little trace of his presence in the place, hands quickly peeling the skin.

On the paper that mostly filled with emptiness, a pair of two words are written in the bold tail.

I’m busy.

He see. 

 


 

The next letters addressed to the brother for months are filled with courtesy and an oddity for a sharp and direct tongue.

Chapter Text

Lan Zhan, have you still kept the rabbits?

The letter once said at the end of Winter and the beginning of a spring full of life.

It’s the latest among the hill of white canvas that Lan Wangji can no longer fathom, painted in peculiar red inks and the handwriting that he slowly used to see after many months of its sending. The smell of the new sheets still fresh with scent of wood and the red inks taste like bitter iron, too bitter for the sweet scent of sandalwood he favours but any traces of Wei Wuxian are the most special gift and the colour in those colourless three decades of a lifetime.

The pile of white consists of the constant asking about a brother, a son, and the addressed man himself. In the writer’s knowledge, the one was still in a seclusion that lasts for an unforeseeable amount of time, hiding himself from the world that’s known for its cruelness and the other one’s whereabouts was unascertained in his roaming journey to the corner of the world along together with the dearest friend.

I’m fine, reads one of the words in his previous letter sent around two months ago.

---

Brother is also fine.

He’s still healing but he will get better in time.

He also told me that he will be out in this year of winter.

Shizui just recently back to Gusu along with Wen Ning three days ago. They came back safe and healthy, having just finished their first mission together and helping others in their journey. Wen Ning is currently residing in Gusu, and he’s with Shizui and the Juniors right now.

They’re all have been fine.

 

He wrote in one of the replies he sent to Yiling, hoping that the assurance connected well through words of the only bridge of the distance.

Wei Ying, are you fine?

He also wrote.

The question never to be answered in the next letter he received.

Instead, it writes about something else, subtle and implicit behind its vagueness and right below the first word of the letter he reads.

The rabbits are cute, Lan Zhan, and they’re also a good cheer. When you’re sad and lonely, they can keep you in accompany and cheering you as well. I think you should keep them well whether it’s for years, decades, or even hundreds. Time doesn’t matter as long as they can keep you happy forever. And that’s all I can care about.

 


 

The man on the hill is wearing red.

Bold colour is always easy to spot on in his opinion and so it didn’t waste too much time for him find the person that once was (and still is) his brother, standing like a sore thumb on top of the hill bathed in the bright light of the dawn.

They met at a Summer one day on one of famous scenery of Yiling, one drenched in sweat of exhaustion and the other drenched in the lack of colour.

The man he meets right now looks quiet pale, strangely pale as if bloods is completely gone from within his body despite the trace of make-up he put on in an effort to cover the amount of paleness.

The brother he remembers in his memories was having tanner tone on his skin, though.

“Nothing”, he said (claimed) when the question was rolling.

He lies.

(And hides)

Just like those of the past and never change.

“I just miss you so much Jiang Cheng.”

 


 

Lan Zhan, do you feel lonely?

Read the words in a letter one day at the start of Autumn.

It’s the latest among the hill of white canvas that Lan Wangji still can’t fathom to the fullest, painted in peculiar red inks and the handwriting that he used to and cherished after many months of its sending and the smell of the new sheets is still the same fresh that he remembers clearly. The red inks however, taste still of iron but something, a thing is odd, foreign in the year of knowing the letter yet strangely familiar, as if he ever tastes it few times in the past.

A voice then calling his name from afar, leaving Lan Wangji to put the letter down and letting it open for the gentle touches with the wind that grow cold, smeared by a small drop of inadvertence and desperation during the time of the written.

The taste on top of it was of iron with a mix of little salt coloured in crimson.