Time of Farewell

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Time of Farewell It's Been A While
Previous Yangni and I


NOTE: This interlude is only available when It's Been A While is live and is not added into the Archives after BW ends.
Characters
RI Operator icon.png
Logistics Operator
Salaryman B icon.png
Funeral Parlor Staff
RI Medic icon.png
Medic Operator
Feline Girl icon.png
Xiaoyuan
Blank icon.svg
???
Blank icon.svg
Staff Member Clad in Black
Backgrounds
Lungmen RI Office
1
RI Surgery Room
2
Lungmen Memorial Park
3
Lungmen Alley
4
Lungmen Bridges
5
To console a girl saddened by the death of her pet, Xiaobai decides to hold a funeral so that the girl can say goodbye.
<Background 1>
[Xiaobai walks by a Rhodes Island medic.]
Xiaobai Good morning, Min-Min.
Medic Operator Oh hi, Xiaobai. You look like you're–
[The medic receives a dispatch.]
Intercom On-duty physicians, please report to Ward 11. This morning, the patient's Blood Originium-Crystal Density spiked sharply and the Originium on the intercostal surface started to grow, causing severe pain. We have assessed this to be an acute exacerbation.
Medic Operator Prepare emergency medication and facilities. I'll be there shortly.
[The medic signs off...]
Xiaobai Min-Min, is there anything I can–
[...and rushes off.]
Medic Operator Let's talk about this after I get back.
Xiaobai Um, o-okay.
[Rockrock walks by Xiaobai.]
Rockrock Morning, Xiaobai. Did you have breakfast yet?
Xiaobai Hello, Rockrock. I went to the cafeteria early this morning.
Logistics Operator Do you have a moment, Rockrock? The sewage treatment system in the office seems to be malfunctioning. Do you think you could go take a look?
Rockrock You're in luck, I happen to have my tools on me today. Mind showing the way?
Xiaobai I think I–
Rockrock I'll see you this afternoon, Xiaobai.
[Rockrock leaves.]
Xiaobai Um... I think I might be able...
...to help?
*sigh*... Everyone seems so busy right now.
[Suzuran walks by Xiaobai.]
Suzuran Good morning, Xiaobai!
Xiaobai Oh hi, Suzuran. Did you have any plans today?
Suzuran Um, a few patients passed away over the last few days, leaving their prized possessions behind. I'm taking them out as a way of sending them off, so hopefully their souls will be able to rest in peace.
Xiaobai Does that... happen often in your line of work?
Suzuran Mm. Even though the medics try their best to rescue them, some tragedies are inevitable.
Xiaobai Can I help out with the funeral? I'd like to do something for them too.
Suzuran Funeral? Oh, no, it's nothing as fancy as that. It's just a small ritual.
So it's okay, I can handle it myself.
Just you being here is enough. A bunch of operators have told me that the patients have been smiling a lot more since you came.
Xiaobai Haha, really?
Suzuran Mhm. Oripathy treatment is a long and boring process. The time they've spent chatting with you really means a lot to them.
Xiaobai I'm so glad to hear that. I just wish I could be more useful in other ways.
Suzuran For us, the fact that you can talk to the patients without any fear in your eyes is already something we're really grateful for. You're doing great.
Xiaobai But isn't that like literally the least you could do? The more you say stuff like that, the more I feel like I haven't done anything special.
Suzuran Oh no, it's getting late. I really need to get going.
Xiaobai Then I won't keep you any longer!
Suzuran See you later then!
Xiaobai Bye!
[Suzuran leaves.]
Xiaobai (*pouts*) Ugh, another day where I can't help anyone out...
And that cousin of mine... He clearly agreed that we'd go help Xiaoyuan find her storm cloudbeast together, but he ended up leaving to go search for clues without me.
...I was the one who tried to help, but I only ended up holding him back.
Just like when we were out in the barrens. There wasn't a single thing I could help out with. I only made him more worried.
There has to be something else I can do, right? I can't rely on him forever.
[Ah Gen walks by Xiaobai.]
Ah Gen What's eating you up, Xiaobai?
Xiaobai Oh, when did you get back? Did you learn anything about the cloudbeast?
Ah Gen I did, but it's not good news. It's... gone.
Xiaobai How could this be... Does Xiaoyuan know?
Ah Gen Mhm. I just came back from her ward.
Xiaobai She must be so sad right now... What should we do?
Ah Gen That's up to you.
Xiaobai Me? What can I do?
Ah Gen I'm sure she needs your company right now. Go cheer her up, alright?
Xiaobai Is just being there... enough to cheer her up?
Ah Gen If anyone can do it, it's you. I'm sure of it.
Xiaobai Okay! I'll stay with her and help her get through this!
<Background 2>
Xiaoyuan Sixty-Seven... *sob*...
Xiaobai Can I come in, Xiaoyuan? I brought you some candy.
Xiaoyuan (Quickly wipes tears away)
Oh, come in, the door's unlocked.
[Xiaobai enters and approaches Xiaoyuan.]
Xiaobai Let's play a little game. Can you guess which hand the candy is in?
Xiaoyuan I don't know...
Xiaobai Come on, just take a guess.
Xiaoyuan Your right hand?
[Xiaobai opens her right hand, and a strawberry candy is in it.]
Xiaobai Haha, you got it! Congrats on winning the strawberry candy. As a reward, I'll also give you the peach candy in my other hand.
Xiaoyuan Pff.
Xiaobai Mind if I sit next to you?
Xiaoyuan Mm...
[Xiaobai sits beside Xiaoyuan.]
Xiaobai I just saw Ah Gen coming back from here.
Are you doing alright, Xiaoyuan?
Xiaoyuan I... I'm really grateful to him, but... I'm going to need some time.
Xiaobai (Holds on to Xiaoyuan's hand)
Mm. I'm always here for you. If you ever need someone to talk to, just come to me!
Xiaoyuan Thank you.
Xiaobai (Massages Xiaoyuan's fingers)
Xiaoyuan Ah Gen... brought back a collar. It was the one that I gave to Sixty-Seven.
The top part... was soaked in blood. I can't imagine what he went through. He must've been in so much pain.
Xiaobai (Tightly squeezes Xiaoyuan's hand)
Xiaoyuan *sigh*... It's okay, you don't have to worry about me. I made a promise to Rockrock that I wouldn't lose to grief.
Xiaobai I think you're doing fine.
So... are you going to go with her to the Rhodes Island landship next week?
Xiaoyuan Mmhmm. I've already packed my bags–they're under the bed. Without Sixty-Seven, there's nothing left for me here. I'm ready to leave.
Xiaobai Xiaoyuan...
Xiaobai Say, why don't we hold a funeral for him?
Xiaoyuan A funeral?!
Xiaobai Yeah. Let's hold a small funeral before you leave, so you get a chance to say goodbye.
Xiaoyuan Stop joking around. Only rich people can afford funerals. Folks like us don't even dare dream of it.
Xiaobai Why's that?
Xiaoyuan So many Infected die here without getting funerals.
Xiaobai ...Even if you don't want to dream of it, I will!
Xiaoyuan Huh...?
Xiaobai It's not healthy not to say goodbye to those who leave us. Just leave Sixty-Seven's funeral to me!
<Background 3>
[Xiaobai approaches a memorial park staff.]
Xiaobai Excuse me, sir, is this the Fair Departures Funeral Parlor?
Funeral Parlor Staff How'd the receptionist let a little kid in? Someone, get them out of here!
Xiaobai Wait, I'm not playing around! I'm here to organize a funeral!
Funeral Parlor Staff So, do you want to buy funeral supplies, or would you like a team to organize it for you?
Xiaobai I, I'd like a team!
Funeral Parlor Staff So, who will we be conducting this funeral for?
Xiaobai My friend's pet.
Funeral Parlor Staff Ahahaha! This has to be some kind of prank, right? Only people with more money than common sense would host a funeral for a pet in Lungmen.
Xiaobai Why are you laughing? What's so funny about that?!
Funeral Parlor Staff Ah, to be young and idealistic again.
I'll just tell you straight up: since our establishment, our company has had countless clients here, all wealthier than you can imagine. Among them, some have even been qualified to be buried in the cemetery in the middle of the city.
Xiaobai What, so you're too good for us ordinary folks?
Funeral Parlor Staff Young lady, when someone's loved one passes away in Lungmen, they usually purchase their wreaths and candles from us. Even a spontaneous gathering in the square counts as a funeral.
So asking a professional team to host one for your little pet is more than a little extravagant.
Xiaobai Extravagant? Is it that expensive?
I guess I'll pass then... I don't have much money. But if you have anything here that I can use for it, I'll just take some of that.
Funeral Parlor Staff Everything here is for people, though... Honestly, we don't carry a single thing for pets. What kind of creature are we talking about anyway? I'll see if I can pick out something usable for you.
Xiaobai It's a storm cloudbeast. Here's a picture.
[Xiaobai shows the storm cloudbeast's photo to the staff.]
Funeral Parlor Staff (Huh? Why does it look so familiar... Wait, isn't this Lady Yuan's cloudbeast?)
Young lady, do you mind if I ask for your friend's name?
Xiaobai I call her Xiaoyuan.
Funeral Parlor Staff (As in "Little Yuan"? Is she really on a nickname basis with Lady Yuan? Could this girl be one of her friends?)
(The Yuan family did make a phone call a few days ago to inquire about possible funerary services for a lost cloudbeast.)
(Could she be here on their behalf?)
Ahem... So, uh, was Miss Yuan's cloudbeast never found in the end?
Xiaobai That's right. Xiaoyuan asked a bunch of people to look for it. Finally, my cousin found its collar soaked in blood, so we assume it's dead.
Funeral Parlor Staff (Ahh, Lady Yuan hired so many people, enough to turn Lungmen inside-out, yet still couldn't find it. What awful luck.)
Pardon me for prying, but how has Miss Yuan been doing lately?
Xiaobai She's trying to be strong, but I can feel her sadness.
Funeral Parlor Staff (Tch... The boss has always wanted to curry favor with the Yuans, so I can't just ignore this girl...)
(I should've realized sooner. What kind of child from an ordinary family would even consider a funeral for a pet?)
I'm so sorry to hear that, young lady. Don't worry, we will handle the funeral. I'm sure Miss Yuan will be most satisfied with the results.
Xiaobai But, didn't you just say it was too extravagant to hold one for a pet?
Funeral Parlor Staff There's no need to dwell too much on what I just said, young lady. We would be honored to carry her thoughts and feelings, and share her pain.
Xiaobai Oh, so does that mean...?
Funeral Parlor Staff We shall fully cover the expenses. After the procession is over, I only hope that Miss Yuan can put in a good word for us with the boss.
Xiaobai If you're willing to help, Xiaoyuan will definitely sing your praises when she sees it.
Funeral Parlor Staff That would be a great honor, haha. May I ask for your family name?
Xiaobai Luo.
Funeral Parlor Staff Miss Luo, Miss Yuan is lucky to have a friend like you.
Xiaobai (*blushes*) Ahaha, I wouldn't go that far...
Funeral Parlor Staff This way, please. Allow me to introduce you to some of our establishment's award-winning services.
<Background fades out and in>
Funeral Parlor Staff The first plan we offer is exquisite papercrafts. The works you see here were all painstakingly handmade by masters from Shangshu.
Encompassing all aspects of the life of the deceased, we also offer packages for different ages, genders, and personalities.
Xiaobai There are even game consoles and handhelds here... Do you think you'll have anything suitable for a pet?
Funeral Parlor Staff We can make a custom set for the cloudbeast, including paper nests, bowls, and climbing towers, as well as paper food tins and freeze-dried goods.
Xiaobai ...You really do have everything here, huh.
Funeral Parlor Staff Please take a look at our second plan–a procession of flowers.
Xiaobai Wow, the colors in this wreath are so vivid... My eyes feel like they're going to bloom.
Funeral Parlor Staff That's right. This wreath is made up of a comprehensive arrangement of flowers corresponding to the five elements and eight trigrams.
When used in a funeral, it blesses the family, the clan, and their descendants, making it the best choice for funeral accessories.
Xiaobai Um, it's a pretty small animal, so I don't think such a big wreath would make sense.
Funeral Parlor Staff We'll make a smaller replica and send it over. Upon it will be written an elegiac couplet by the famous Lungmen calligrapher, Hsieh Te-hao.
Xiaobai Thanks for doing all of this.
Funeral Parlor Staff Last, but not least, is our trump-card service, ever a customer favorite.
[A black-robed staff imitates a funerary rite.]
Staff Member Clad in Black Father! Oh, dear father! May you forever rest in peace!
Xiaobai (Freezes up in shock)
What in the world is this?!
Funeral Parlor Staff Hey, stop rehearsing here. Can't you see you're scaring our client?
Xiaobai Oh, it's okay, I'll be fine...
Funeral Parlor Staff This is our ambience team, dedicated to creating a sense of grief at the proceedings, to give the guests a more immersive mourning experience.
Xiaobai So, um... What kind of atmosphere are we supposed to have for a pet funeral?
Funeral Parlor Staff Quick, give this young lady a demo. The cloudbeast version.
Staff Member Clad in Black (Carefully puts on a cloudbeast-ear headband)
Mreeeeeoowwwwwww, mrreeeooooowwwww!
Xiaobai I... I've learned something new today.
<Background 1>
[Xiaobai takes the staff to the R.I. office.]
Funeral Parlor Staff Are you sure this address is correct, Miss Luo?
Xiaobai Yes, we've already been over this a few times.
Funeral Parlor Staff You're absolutely sure that Miss Yuan lives here?
Xiaobai Yup, this is the place.
Funeral Parlor Staff Very well then. I shall arrange for your supplies to arrive at this address. Once again, you're absolutely sure you don't need our staff to preside over the funeral? They are all eminent monks with rich experience.
Xiaobai Thanks, but we already have someone in mind.
Funeral Parlor Staff May I ask who that might be?
Xiaobai She's one of our friends from Higashi. She grew up in a shrine, so she's familiar with all kinds of rituals.
Funeral Parlor Staff Ah, so it's a friend of Miss Yuan's. Do forgive me for my ignorance.
(I see, so it's become popular among the upper crust to invite foreign spiritualists to recite the scriptures. We should add that to our list of services.)
That being the case, I won't hold you any longer. There's still more work to be done, of course, but if you ever need our help, please don't hesitate to drop by.
Xiaobai Thank you for your time.
[The staff leaves as Xiaoyuan peeks from outside.]
Xiaobai Xiaoyuan, why are you standing outside? You can come in.
[Xiaoyuan enters.]
Xiaoyuan Who was that?
Xiaobai Just a kind-hearted person. I was just planning to buy a few things and arrange them myself, but after I showed him the photo of Sixty-Seven, he suddenly offered to help us!
Xiaoyuan There's so much stuff on the ground here... It must've been expensive. How much did you pay for all this?
Xiaobai Nothing, actually. The nice man said they'd cover all the expenses. He even asked how you were doing.
Xiaoyuan Wow, that's not something you see every day. I didn't think there'd be anyone willing to help people like us.
Xiaobai So what do you think? They managed to get all this out in a single day.
Xiaoyuan They look wonderful, just like the real deal. Even when Sixty-Seven was still here... he never got to use such nice things.
If I'd known, I'd have come earlier to thank the man properly.
I'd better thank you too, Xiaobai. Without you here, I never would've dared to try something like this.
Xiaobai I should be thanking you.
Xiaobai Everyone's been so busy ever since I arrived, and I haven't been able to help out at all.
I can't treat people, I don't know Arts, and I can't fix anything. All I can do is watch the patients suffer, grieve, and even... depart.
So, I'm really happy I could do something for you. And, thank you for believing in me.
Xiaoyuan (*shakes head*) You've been great.
Xiaobai But let's not dwell on that! The funeral's about to start!
Oh, but Suzuran isn't back yet. I wanted to ask her to host it.
Xiaoyuan She should already be back from today's ritual.
Xiaobai I'll go look for her then. Wait for me right here!
[Xiaobai rushes off to look for Suzuran.]
Xiaoyuan (Tilts her head, watching Xiaobai disappear into the distance)
If only I could be like Xiaobai... So honest and brave.
<Background 4>
Funeral Parlor Staff Bro, you won't believe who I just got as a client. Yeah, I couldn't believe it either–the Yuan family's eldest daughter.
Xiaobai (Wait, that gentleman hasn't left yet?)
(Should I go say hi? He's on the phone though, and looks kind of busy.)
(Well, maybe I'll wait a little bit.)
Funeral Parlor Staff Miss Yuan called the boss a while ago. Do you remember that?
She said she lost her storm cloudbeast last month, and if she couldn't find it, she'd call us to ask for a funeral. Well, today, her friend found it.
Xiaobai (Wait, didn't Xiaoyuan's pet go missing more than a year ago?)
Funeral Parlor Staff But, the address her friend gave me seemed a bit off. She asked me to deliver the items to a pharmaceutical company called Rhodes Island, not the Yuan estate.
But that isn't outside the realm of possibility. The Yuan family's been producing cosmetics for years, so it wouldn't surprise me if they branched out to medicine too.
Xiaobai (The Yuan family? But, Yuan is her first name, not a family name... And what cosmetics? I've never seen any operators making cosmetics.)
Funeral Parlor Staff Well, let's not worry about it. Anything that helps me climb the corporate ladder and rub shoulders with the Yuan family is a good thing.
Xiaobai (None of this sounds like Xiaoyuan at all!)
(Wait, was there some sort of misunderstanding?)
I'm not sure what's going on, but I should find Suzuran first.
<Background 5>
[Xiaobai walks through the bridges.]
Xiaobai This is where the funeral for the Infected was held, huh... It couldn't be more different from the park we saw this morning.
[Xiaobai noticed photos on the wall.]
Xiaobai Are these photos for people to pay their respects?
Some of these people were still so young...
Isn't this... Sixty-Seven?
The other half of the photo is covered.
(Reaches to move the photo covering it)
Huh, that's strange. Who's this man carrying Sixty-Seven?
...What's going on?
For all living beings, suffering has no end. The cycle starts anew, and they step into peace once more.
Xiaobai Is that Suzuran chanting?!
[Xiaobai runs toward Suzuran.]
Xiaobai Suzuran!
Suzuran Xiaobai? What are you doing here?
Xiaobai We noticed you hadn't returned to the office yet, so I came to look for you.
Suzuran Oh, I totally lost track of the time. I was so absorbed in my prayers that I didn't even notice the sun changing places in the sky.
Xiaobai Were all the people in the photos patients who recently passed on? I never knew there were so many.
Suzuran It's not just our patients, but other Infected as well. They don't have their own cemetery, or enough money for a funeral, so friends and relatives will come hang photos of them to pay their respects.
Xiaobai They don't bring anything with them except photos?
Suzuran Just having a photo is already pretty good. Some people... don't even have that.
Xiaobai I see...
Suzuran, were you praying for all the Infected people who've passed?
Suzuran All things have a soul, and death is not the end of life. I can't bear to simply leave all these photos like this, so I recite the scriptures a few extra times in hopes of ending their suffering and letting them find peace.
Xiaobai Does it really work?
Suzuran I'm not sure, but it's all I can do for them.
Xiaobai Why does it have to be this way? Not only do Oripathy patients not get a good life, they can't even have a proper burial?
I just don't understand.
Xiaobai remembers the park she went to yesterday. Candles and flowers placed on clean, neat grass. All sorts of people attended the funeral, solemn-faced and sorrowful.
But this place couldn't be more different.
The weathered photos, the rusted barbed wire, the strident screeches, and choking smell in the air all told her–
When the Infected pass, the only thing they can take with them is life itself.
Suzuran ...What's wrong, Xiaobai?
Xiaobai Someone...
...showed me a very different sort of funeral.
Suzuran For a non-Infected person, right?
Xiaobai Mm. It was spectacular.
Suzuran Whose was it?
Xiaobai It was... someone's pet.
Suzuran A pet?!
<Background 1>
Funeral Parlor Staff So, your friend isn't Miss Yuan?!
Xiaobai I don't know who you were talking about, but it's definitely not my friend, Xiaoyuan.
Funeral Parlor Staff Then why didn't you speak up earlier?! You little fraud!
Xiaobai I wasn't trying to lie to you! Wasn't it your own misunderstanding?
Funeral Parlor Staff Damn it, what awful luck. The boss isn't going to let me hear the end of it.
Alright, take everything away. Don't leave a single thing behind.
Staff Member Clad in Black On it!
Medic Operator Still professional to a fault, huh?
Funeral Parlor Staff What the hell do you know? This is professionalism!
Damn it all. Blast this accursed luck.
[The memorial park staff leaves after taking back all the offerings they gave earlier.]
Xiaobai He won't make us pay him back, will he Min-Min?
Medic Operator Probably not. You can't exactly go around airing your own dirty laundry in Lungmen. He tried to do this under-the-table, so no one else is responsible for his loss.
Xiaobai To be honest... I still kind of feel bad.
Medic Operator There's nothing to feel bad about. Two-faced people like him ought to get hoist by their own petard. Let's go find Xiaoyuan. She said she's waiting for you over at that empty lot.
<Background 5>
[Xiaobai walks toward Xiaoyuan.]
Xiaoyuan There you are, Xiaobai! That guy didn't give you any trouble, did he?
Xiaobai No, he made his own bed...
Xiaoyuan That's good. It's better not to associate with people like that.
Xiaobai But I still owe you an apology. I promised you I'd hold a funeral for Sixty-Seven, but I'm empty-handed now that he's taken everything back.
Xiaoyuan It's for the best. I wouldn't want to use any of it anyway.
Xiaobai But... those things were so beautiful.
Xiaoyuan Yes... They were. And might've made us look good, but I couldn't stand seeing them.
Xiaobai You weren't satisfied with all that?
Rockrock I think what she meant was, all that fancy-pants stuff is for the upper crust. What Xiaoyuan wants is the dignity of an Infected.
Xiaoyuan Mm... That's right.
Rockrock And what good is dignity if it's borrowed under a fake identity?
Xiaoyuan So, thank you for telling me the truth, Xiaobai.
Xiaobai No need to thank me. In the end, I couldn't do anything for you.
[Rockrock approaches Xiaobai, and...]
Rockrock (Pats Xiaobai's head)
C'mon, don't say stuff like that.
What a person can accomplish in a single lifetime is like a drop in the ocean. But that doesn't represent all that you are, or mean that the time and effort you spent on it are meaningless.
So, thank you for always trying to lend a helping hand. Even if... you're terrible at fixing things.
Xiaobai That doesn't make me feel better at all.
Suzuran Heehee. Looks like I need to thank you as well. Maybe you can't treat Oripathy, but you weren't afraid to get close to us.
Xiaobai What's so special about that?
Xiaoyuan (Extends her hand)
Xiaobai What are you doing?
Xiaoyuan I'm trying to catch the golden pearls falling from your eyes. They're worth good money!
Xiaobai Ah Gen, aren't you going to say something?!
Ah Gen Haha, she's not wrong, is she?
Xiaobai Ah Gen!
<Background fades out and in>
Suzuran Everything begins with a single meeting. That's what my dad once told me.
Then, my mom added that everything must also end with a painful parting.
So I asked them, what's the difference between a meeting and a parting?
The answer they gave me was this: the miracles that come between them, one after another.
So, we gather here to thank the friends who've bravely entered our lives, leaving behind the miracles of understanding, tolerance, and companionship in our empty, desolate hearts.
These miracles are enough to sustain us for the rest of our lives, solely because–
I met you, and you met me.
[Suzuran finishes her funeral rite.]
Xiaoyuan Thank you, Sixty-Seven.
The evening wind blends with the wailing and weeping of the dark night. Sun-soaked weeds and moisture-rusted fences rustle and creak a sad song.
A girl hangs a picture of the storm cloudbeast on an old barbed-wire fence, the faded and weathered photos next to her whispering almost inaudibly into the wind.
Everyone falls silent, letting the sky sink into darkness, succumbing to the encroachment of nightfall.
But the sun's last rays do not relent, insisting on tearing through the dim sky with one last, vivid burst of red.
The silence is broken by a voice.
??? Xiaobai?! Ah Gen?!
...What are you two doing here too?
Xiaobai (Turns around in surprise)
Ah Gen This isn't an illusion, is it?
[The one calling Ah Gen and Xiaobai is Xiaohei himself, taking the storm cloudbeast together with him.]
Xiaoyuan Sixty-Seven!