|Ben turns to blaze a trail up the steep hill leading to the estate as the ghostly figure moves closer.|
|Sarah, however, stands her ground and gives no indication that she intends on following her brother’s lead. There is no way in Strangetown that he is going to leave his sister alone to get eaten by some creepy spirit, so he reluctantly inches closer to his sister’s side. Still, he can’t help himself but think that he can run faster than her, should the encounter turn ugly.|
|As if reading his thoughts, Sara shoots her brother a nasty glare. Ben shivers while wondering which fate would be worse; being eaten by an angry ghost, or being haunted by his angry sister. He sifts through these thoughts as the figure comes closer, aware that he is really not frightened at all. On the contrary, there is a calm serenity that seems to almost radiate from the apparition. Sarah must have sensed this right away.|
|Though the ghosts speaks no audible words, both children can understand what he is saying. His name was Jiang Xi. He was Mei’s grandfather. His smile is warm as he tells Ben that he is honored to meet his descendants; and how proud he is of Ben for managing his emotions, despite an unusually keen insight into a very serious problem. Jiang Xi smiles knowingly after Sara gasps with surprise. Jiang Xi nods and confirms her realization that, no, Ben is not crazy.|
|He instructs the children to picture the universe as a great body of flowing water. This water nourishes and feeds everything along its shores; it irrigates the crops, provides fish to eat, and washes what is not clean. He asks them to imagine what might happen if that water were to become polluted, or worse yet, diverted away from the sims it sustains. After a long and ponderous pause, Ben quietly asks if it is kinda like what a dam does to a river. He is rewarded with a warm, but sorrowful smile.|
|He tells Ben that he is one of only two sims who can bring the universe back into balance. And like the yin and the yang, they must work in harmony to have any hope of restoring balance. Jiang Xi smiles and shakes his head in an unspoken no, when Ben asks who the other sim is. He tells Ben that there are some things he must learn on his own, as not to cause any further damage. Ben also shakes his head and tells Jiang Xi that he does not understand.|
|Jiang Xi apologizes for his inability to be more helpful. All he can offer is a promise that, in time, he will understand. Then, turning to Sarah again, Jiang Xi asks for her word that she will speak to nobody of this conversation. And also that she must trust her brother is completely sane, even when he may sound completely crazy. He asks for her word; a promise that she will support him in whatever direction he may go. Because there will come a time when she is the only one he will have left to turn to. He again shakes his head with worry, and whispers that the decision will not be an easy one.|
|Jiang Xi, “kisses” each child on the head and apologizes for not being able to play a nice game of tag with them. There was a time when he was quite good at it. Before dismissing the children, Jiang Xi’s eyes sparkle as he whispers to Ben that Sarah would easily outrun him. And it’s a good thing he did not come hungry.|
|As he watches the children rush up the hillside to the estate, he is washed by a wave of sadness about the loss they are about to endure. His meeting Ben and Sarah was an unplanned, but joyful encounter. He must still perform his obligation for this journey into the living; to return with Mei, his granddaughter, so that she may sit among her ancestors in the afterlife.|
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