A New Year's Oath Please note that this story contains spoilers for the "Skyborne Spectacle" event.
Resident of Peng Lai 1: Welcome back, Xu Fu!
Resident of Peng Lai 2: Thank you so much for saving the village. Now we can celebrate the Lunar New Year in a peaceful fashion.
Ku Hai: Ah, Lunar New Year...and pyroblossoms... Ah, but this does feel nostalgic. I've not seen it since I set out on my wanderings. Well, it seems the party is in full swing, so perhaps it's time to depa—
Su Fang: There you are, Ku Hai!
Ku Hai: Ah, Su Fang. Do you need something?
Su Fang: I've been looking everywhere for you! You just suddenly disappeared.
Ku Hai: ......
Su Fang: Anyway, the festival's just getting started, so let's have some fun together!
Ku Hai: My apologies, but I will not be staying in the village for long.
Su Fang: Don't you like the festival?
Ku Hai: Of course, I find it rather thrilling.
Su Fang: Well, that's good to hear. Still, if you're a fan of festivals, why are you leaving? Please don't tell me you don't like Peng Lai itself!
Ku Hai: Goodness, but you are a paranoid one. Listen to me, Su Fang... First and foremost, you must understand that I am not in a position to speak on things I like or dislike in regard to this village. I gave up this village. I gave up my home.
Su Fang: Mmm, I see. I guess you've had a fair share of things happen in your life as well. Well, if that's how it is, I understand.
Ku Hai: Good. Then I bid you fare... Er, Su Fang? Please let go of me.
Su Fang: Sorry, no can do. I need you to stay here and enjoy the festival until the very last cart is rolled away.
Ku Hai: You just said you understood my feelings in this matter.
Su Fang: Yes. I understand that even you need a hometown. A place to warmly welcome you just as it did myself after life crushed my dreams and took my parents from me.
Ku Hai: Ah...
Su Fang: I don't know why you left Peng Lai. But since you clearly don't hate it, I think it's still your home.
Ku Hai: ......
Su Fang: So maybe just stay and enjoy the festival. And after that...just stay? Here, I mean.
Ku Hai: I'm sorry, but that is impossible.
Lin You: Su Fang is totally right about this! Don't you think so, Xiao Lei?
Xiao Lei: Hmm, yes. It appears to me that Ku Hai himself still has a lingering attachment to this place.
Ku Hai: Must I explain myself to both of you as well?!
Lin You: Hee hee! Sorry. I wasn't TRYING to eavesdrop. It just kinda...happened.
Xiao Lei: There just didn't seem to be a good moment to speak up...
Lin You: Anyway, like my master used to say, "Training isn't over until you're all the way home!" So if you have a home you can actually return to, why not do it?
Ku Hai: The matter is not so simple.
Xiao Lei: It's plenty simple! I mean, it's not like this village kicked you out, right? So it's up to you whether or not you want to go back.
Ku Hai: I admit I sometimes think upon my hometown with an excess of warmth during my wanderings.
Su Fang: And that means you—
Ku Hai: However, I must gird myself against those feelings. For to allow my heart to rely on such things would be a form of weakness. Weakness of the heart dulls one's blade. And so encumbered, I would be unable to make good on my long-held desire. Thus did I cast everything aside. Respite, connections with others—all of it.
Su Fang: ...Right. That's how you freed yourself from any hesitation... Which is why you're also casting aside your relationship with all of us, right?
Ku Hai: Precisely.
Su Fang: Okay, I understand that. But I'm still not going to forget the times we fought together—or this time!
Ku Hai: Su Fang, you—
Xiao Lei: Peng Lai always says the folks in this village are his children, which means we're all family in a way. And in that case, we'll never really be apart from each other! I mean, we're not numbers—we can't be divided up.
Ku Hai: You feel this way as well? ...No, I am sorry. No matter what you say, I cannot remain here. But know that my gratitude for your kind feelings is real. And out of respect for those feelings, I will stay here and enjoy the festival. Is that an acceptable compromise?
Su Fang: Yes!
Lin You: Finally! Now let's hit the food carts, 'cause I could eat a dragon right now!
Xiao Lei: You nearly bought out an entire food cart earlier! How can you still be hungry?
Su Fang: Ha ha! Just save some for me and Ku Hai, all right?
Ku Hai: (This feeling is wholly strange. I swore never to return to this village until I accomplished my goal, and yet here I find myself. A place to return to... A home.)
Su Fang: Ku Hai, look! It's an acrobat troupe!
Ku Hai: A Lunar New Year performance, is it? Mmm, they ARE quite spectacular. When I was young, I stood in this same spot and looked upon performers much like these.
Young Ku Hai: Wooow, they're amazing! Can I do stuff like that?!
Ku Hai's Father: If you keep training your mind and body, my son, you can accomplish anything.
Ku Hai: Ah! (Without that motivation, I wouldn't have gone to the dojo and met Master Xuan or Haoran. It seems I am unable to completely sunder my bonds with people just yet.)
Su Fang: Ku Hai? What is it?
Ku Hai: I was just thinking about how things are as you said they were. A hometown is something that wraps you in a warm embrace, no matter how hard you may try to cast it off.
Su Fang: That's exactly right! That's the great thing about a hometown— it's always there for you.
Lin You: So does that revelation mean you'll be staying here for good?
Ku Hai: No. I have things I must do, and so cannot remain. But I think I will at least return during the Lunar New Year and partake in the joys of the festival.
Su Fang: It's a date!
Ku Hai: No, it is a promise. Let us meet on this very spot one year from now. (I surrendered my village, but retain my friends. I can think fondly of home without burdening my journey... I know not what twist of fate brought me back, but for now, I will be grateful for my connection to this place.)