The Cave Master, the Pool, the Green Snake, and the Lighter
rating: +9+x

Ren Cisheng: The Cave Master, Earth

It came from the front this time around, from outside the cave, something small rapidly growing in size until it filled Cisheng’s vision. He slumped in his throne.

And then he was dead.

The waves crashed him back on the sand. It wasn’t clay, but it was good enough. Good enough for a temporary body.

The second time he died, he lost everything. All that he achieved as a yao was gone. Heaven had trashed his cave, destroyed his disciples (he had created some of them, only now did he realize that made him a father), killed his friends (squashed them like the bugs they were; born as insects, die as insects; their hair will never grow white; the cycle continues—), and tore his jindan from his body.

He could still see the remains of his previous body, glazed eyes dull with time. His shattered forehead revealing a nothingness inside. The body was still sitting in the armored robe, a gift from the Great Sage to every general after he trashed the Banquet. Cisheng waved his hand, and the body shattered.

It’s time to move on.

—-

And when Cisheng heard of the Library, the ultimate place of knowledge, far from Heaven and normalcy, far from the bodies of his friends and monkey kings under mountains and a scattered community who will never rise like they once did, he declared: “Perfect.”

Clarisse Jiang: The Pool, Water

Chang’e told her to reincarnate to the mortal world, and the Jade Rabbit listened.
Chang’e told her to keep an eye on Houyi, and she listened.
Chang’e told her to go to the Library, and she listened.
Ren Cisheng told her to go to the Hand, and she listened.
Weapons Guo gave her a new name, and Clarisse listened.
Weapons Guo sent her to save them, and Clarisse listened.
Robin Sun smiled at her, and Clarisse was silent.
Robin wanted nothing from Clarisse. Clarisse needed Robin to give her all.
Clarisse spoke, Robin spoke. Robin laughed, Clarisse laughed.
Robin told her everything. Clarisse told her nothing. Clarisse ached.
Chang’e warned her not to fall in love with mortals, and Clarisse Jiang didn’t listen.

Weapons Guo: The Armory, Wood

The Serpent hissed, and Weapons Guo went in for the counterattack. He didn’t expect the Serpent of the Wanderer’s Library to attack a Hand member out of all people, but he’ll finish this fight one way or another.

A scout had stepped into the Bowels and returned as a ghost, but everyone would be mad at him if he simply killed Her as revenge. It wouldn’t do. He would have to try diplomacy at least. If She wouldn’t return the goodwill, it wouldn’t be his fault anyhow.

“O, great Serpent!” Guo Guanghai knelt on one knee as he addressed the hole in the ground. “This small one is a freedom fighter from the Serpent’s Hand,“ He heard something giant slithering below coiling upwards, and yet did not lift his head. “—who humbly requests your blessing in our mission.”

”It’s you.” The voice ended with the flick of a tongue. Displeased was the Serpent. “Treacherous monk, was her death alone not enough for you? Now that you’re back as a human, you want to finish me off as well?” Her scathing voice sounded even more harsh than what was expected of a snake, as if it was a blade rusted by the ages.

Weapons saw that the situation was going south, and cleverly replied: ”Esteemed Serpent, I can assure you this is the first time we’ve ever met. I don’t know who you mean to talk to, and they do deserve to die. But even if I am the one you are talking of, you must be mistaken, for I have never killed someone who did not deserve it.” He just couldn't help himself.

As he said this, Weapons drew out said eponymous object out of his body's shadow. This one was a beautiful meteor hammer from an ascetic who was secluding in an abandoned temple. His final fight was with just a Hand; but he would be given new life with the Serpent.

”Enough. This ends today!” And the Serpent lunged.

Robin Sun: The Lighter, Fire

Flick.

Four days.

Flick.

Four days of spring break, and Robin had managed to do that.

Flick.

It took four days for Robin to walk into the library, up the first flight of stairs, the second flight, and the third flight, before she found herself in the fourth floor.

Flick.

There was a thing up there. A thing.

Flick.

If gods were real then maybe this was one of them.

Something in her transformed upon seeing it. Were they not one and the same? Did they not deserve to meet again?

Flick.

Maybe magic was real.

Flick.

Maybe there was more.

Flick.

Maybe she didn't have to be alone.

Robin Sun held the lighter between her smoldering eyes.

Flick.

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