The Zhao Family ancestral grounds. A place reserved for the people who have given their lives for the betterment of the future generations.
Zhao Lei placed an insignia inside the casket. His eyes were red, and his expression was grim.
Usually, the entire family was called up to pay their respects. This place was 50 miles away from their village, and even the most insignificant member had at least around 50-100 people show up to pay their respects. The basis of Zhao family, Camaraderie amongst their own.
Dressed up in his black tang suit, Zhao Qiao was at eternal rest. A black eyepatch covered his missing eye, and his empty expression was a constant reminder that he had left this world, but as a hollow being. Before a final goodbye, Zhao Lei had done everything in his power to restore his brother's body to its prime state.
The burial grounds had been prepared. Only two people were present.
"You didn't have to come."
Zhao Lei looked at Alex and said.
There was a flight scheduled in one hour. He was leaving for Russia today.
Before they could bury him in his grave, Zhao Lei had a speech prepared. It was supposed to be for the both of them, but he didn't mind Alex being present for it.
First word in, and he was choking up.
"I will never agree with your choice to keep the truth away from me."
If Zhao Qiao had revealed the nature of the actual truth, there was a chance that he might have still been alive.
"I would have fought within the last inch of my life to honor your name."
Tears started to flow. This was the most vulnerable Lei had ever been.
"Before you leave me alone forever, I would like to ask for forgiveness."
He clenched his fist.
"I wasn't able to convince you."
Alex felt emotional as well. They weren't able to share many memories together, but no other person had impacted his life quite as much as he did.
"You leave this world, not as a traitor, but as my brother."
Death is the water that severs your connections. But it also purifies your soul, helping you leave everything behind in this world.
Zhao Lei placed the Xiao on his lips.
Breathe in, and breathe out,
"The small river that makes its way through the village.
Guiding the fishes through its waves, waving towards you with affection.
It flows slowly for you, it lets you play with it,
It will accept all of your worries, and carry it downstream within its waves,
So listen to them closely, and let it drown all your pain away.
Rest well, because the small river flows for you."
His eyes remained closed.
Back in the past. Back when his brother was having nightmares.
"Why can't I stay here forever? Why is my present holding me as a hostage?"
All his progress, all his achievements. Everything was up for sacrifice.
He wanted to go back to his brother.
A whisper. He opened his eyes.
His brother standing right in front of him.
"I am the past now. Memories shall remain, and you must treasure them. But don't let them change who you are now. Our family needs you."
A simple smile.
He blinked, and the illusion vanished.
"Rest well, brother."
He said that, and the tears stopped flowing. His brother's last order.
Alex had been a witness to his breakdown. They both had shared a moment of remembrance over the person that had left an everlasting impression on both of their lives.
As the only two people that choose to remember Zhao Qiao, it was their duty now to move on.
They picked up the casket, and placed it inside the grave. After the burial was complete, the casket was covered up, and the grave remained unnamed.
No words were exchanged after that. Alex left for the airport, while Lei went back to the village.