I always had ways to get my message across - but when I was a child my voice and my fists were weak. I had to use other means to fight and to survive: I was running away and hiding a lot or enduring pain with clenched jaw and fists. Sometimes I felt like giving up and giving in but back then I was strong enough to keep going because giving up would mean that they would win. To keep going was a little victory to me and the more little victories I gained the stronger I felt.

I meant to use this strength to take the whole nation down with me. Up in the airs I was saying my last prayers before I planned to jump but then I saw you dancing on the stage down below, gege, and all pain was suddenly forgotten. The impression you gave me burnt into my heart and before my inner eye I saw reason to not go through with my plans.

When I grew older I started losing this mindset, gege. I hate thinking back to how weak I was around the time of your ascension. I was in pain - in pain that the me back then believed to be severe. I got wounded again and again and wondered, so what if they win? What if I can no longer stay strong? What does it matter?

I had no means to express my admiration for you either. The whole Xian Le Kingdom built thousands of golden temples with riches never before seen, waves of devoted people went to pray to you day in day out, you were more out of reach than ever ... what did my little delapidated shrine matter? What the little beautiful flowers that I picked from roadsides because they reminded me of you, Your Highness?

What did I matter?

The answer was so easy. If you don't know what to live for then live for me. I heard your voice so clearly as if you were standing right beside me and the wind brushing over my skin felt like your touch.

Oh did I realize how misguided I had been! I had allowed them to cloud my eyes and make me blind to the sunlight. But no longer, not anymore.

Since then I changed. I grew stronger and more fierce, I dedicated my life to study your ways. And the older I got the more powerful I grew but no matter how strong I became I was still not strong enough in the end, gege.

I had given myself one mission: to protect my beloved. And I was too weak to fulfill it. I watched him suffer over and over again without being able to help. My wrists were bound. My tongue was mute. My body was gone. I could only watch in endless horror.

I have never felt so desperate in my life before. I don't want to recall this feeling ever again, this sense of utter helplessness, this feeling of seeing the horror and pain in my beloved's eyes.

I couldn't save him. I couldn't protect him. All I could do was stand there and watch with silent screams. And I tried to break free so desperately, I tried and I failed.

I failed.

Never again, I swore to myself. Fail never again. It happened twice already and only fools repeat the same mistakes twice, what would I be if I let it happen a third time?

I stood by your side all this time, not averting my eyes from you for even a breath. I saw the pain you so angrily harbored and I felt that it was my fault for letting it happen. I saw the hurt you so desperately tried to cover and I felt that it was my duty to avenge you. There were some things that had to be done - that I had to do - and if you couldn't believe in yourself then I would believe in you.

So I went to become stronger. To become the strongest. The path was steep and hard just as it had to be for what I was aiming for. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way: my pain that was nothing compared to what you felt. The sweat and blood covering me that was nothing compared to what you have been stained with. The screams all around that were silent compared to the screams I heard from you.

In all this darkness I was going mad. Nevermind the killing and dying all around me, I was used to that. But the uncertainty inside my chest, in a heart that had long stopped beating – how was my beloved doing? Would I ever be strong enough to protect him? – was slowly eating away my sanity. I didn't want to lose myself because losing myself would mean to fail you. I had lost sight of you once already and in the darkness of Tonglu Mountain it started resurfacing, started clouding my sight of the sunlight that I desperately wanted to keep shining.

I started digging out the memories of my mind forcefully to have them in front of my eyes all the time, into stone to have them forever. The carvings were crude and absolutely disgusting, corpse-eating rats compared to swans. I had to keep working, had to keep carving with all those thoughts in my mind, with all those memories I shared with you. So I did.

Gege, there were so many wrongs done to you. With every statue I added into the cave I kept repeating their names, kept memorizing and imagining what to do next after I would have reemerged from the Kiln. Where there was insanity and hurt rushing through my body there was also endless anger, endless rage and at the same time endless love and a crying heart – crying for you in feelings that are opposite to each other.

And then, after I emerged from the Kiln victoriously I felt power rushing through my body. But was it enough? Was I strong enough?

Heavens gave me an opportunity to start anew for the things I had done in the Kiln. They asked me to clean off the dirt on my skin and toss it away like garbage, all the years of hard work, the stain of hard memories and the bitter sweetness of my life. I laughed into their faces and I followed the only path that ever mattered. Maybe doing otherwise could have been an opportunity to become even stronger but I would have never forgiven myself if I walked the paths of Heaven that were closed off to you, on the same level as Heavenly Officials that dirty a title that only you are worthy for, Your Highness.

Me on the same level as those lowlifes?

No. Never. I was above them, always.

Every soul in the Three Realms, may it be living or dead, believed that I won everything I ever wanted in the time that followed. I was obsessed with knowledge, sharpening my skills and establishing my power permanently. I made myself a name in the Ghost Realm first. Then I went on with repaying the bastards who dared to step on my beloved and I worked tirelessly to become even stronger. I had new ways to get my message across - my voice and my fists were no longer weak.

All this time you helped me not to lose myself even if you may not be aware of it, gege. You have always been there for me, in body and soul. You have always reached out your hand with a smile, teaching me kindness. You have always kept on fighting, teaching me a reason to live. I hate myself for not shielding you from all the pain that you endured while you had to wait for me to grow, gege. But I promise from the depths of my soul that I will never allow it to happen again.

There was a white little flower in the storming downpour of crimson red blood rain when I finally made myself a name. It was my hope in dark twisted times, it was beauty in chaos, it was a treasure I had to protect. All it took was a watchful eye to notice. A helpful hand, extended in friendly gesture. An inviting smile.

I'm not asking you to always be by my side. I'm not asking you to hold me tightly in your arms like you once did. I will never ask things of you that you might not want. This ghost king is content with what he has. I only want you to know that I'm your most devoted believer, Your Highness. I will always be by your side, protecting and shielding you. I wouldn't dare to presume that I could ever be your starlight in dark nights or the coat that chases away the cold.

I couldn't be what you are to me.

There are thousands of poems in the Three Realms talking of beauty and feelings - but they seem very pale this very moment. How could words convey what I feel, gege? Not thousands of lanterns in the night sky that will make stars on the firmament jealous for their lights would be enough to express my eternal gratitude to you; not hundreds of statues carved by these hands or possessing all the rarest treasures of the Three Realms could capture how much I treasure our shared memories, could express the worth of them!

I can only try, gege. After all I'm a fool but I will try. Who would have thought that my cold heart is still capable of aching? So bittersweet it almost feels as if I'm alive again. Is there a medicine to this pain? Am I sick?

-x-


-x-

It had seemed like a good idea to let the words simply flow but ...

"This whole letter is only about myself." Hua Cheng sighed heavily, eyeing the last words and reading them to himself silently. His fingers tapped the parchment.

"Yin Yu, how good are you with letters?", he asked, picked up the parchment and crumbled it up until the messy words written on it could no longer be seen. It was terrible anyways - nothing he would want His Highness to ever read.

Hua Cheng tossed the letter across the room thoughtlessly, knowing that a servant would clean it away later just like all the other letters that had lived through the same treatment in the course of this week.

„Hua Chengzhu is not seriously asking for advice?" Yin Yu barely looked up from the book he was reading and paid the situation no mind. This was not the first time he had this conversation with his lord.

It probably won't be the last time either.