Everything seemed to be working well for Jiang WanYin. He successfully rebuilt Lotus Pier and took in a large number of new disciples. Given enough time, he was sure Yunmeng Jiang Sect would regain its reputation just like before Lotus Pier was burned down. His sister, Jiang YanLi was married to Jin ZiXuan and both the husband and wife were living happily, in addition to the child that his sister had just given birth to. Yes, everything seemed fine, but there was only one problem.
The one that he had considered him as his brother. The one that told him when he became the sect leader, he would stay by his side and help him out, just like how both their fathers were. At the same time, he was also the one who chose to leave Lotus Pier, he left Yunmeng Jiang Sect merely to stay in Burial Mounds to protect those remaining Wens.
Jiang WanYin had had enough. Why would he stay at a place like Burial Mounds when he had a home, had a brother waiting for him to return to – not that he would admit that he was waiting for Wei WuXian to return to Lotus Pier. That explained the reason to which why he was standing in front of Burial Mounds right at the moment. He had decided today would be the day when he would drag his brother home.
His grip on his sword became tighter when he saw his brother again after – he could not even bring himself to count how long had it been since they last met. The previous time they both met each other was when his sister visited Wei WuXian to show him how she looked in her wedding clothes. That was not how it was supposed to be. Wei WuXian and Jiang WanYin were supposed to meet each other every day, with Wei WuXian staying at Lotus Pier – at Jiang WanYin’s side, not merely as his right-hand man, but also his brother, his family member.
Wei WuXian was standing there, talking with the Wen siblings. He seemed to be joking with them.
“Jiang Cheng,” greeted Wei WuXian as he walked toward his brother and smiled, but he realized the smile was no longer as bright as how it used to be. He missed his smile so much. He missed his voice so much. He missed the days when his brother was the one who stood beside him. He missed his brother!
“What brings you here? You must be busy being a sect leader and all… or Jiang Cheng, are you running away from your sect? Is it so stressful that you have to come here to take a break? Is there anything I can help you with?”
“Wei WuXian, return to Lotus Pier with me.”
For a moment, Wei WuXian just stood there, staring at Jiang WanYin as if he had said the weirdest thing. Then as if something struck through his brain, he anxiously grabbed the Yunmeng Jiang sect leader’s shoulders.
“Jiang Cheng, did something happen? Shijie! What happened to her?”
Jiang WanYin merely stared at him.
“Tell me, Jiang Cheng! Is it Jin ZiXuan? He hurt Shijie?! I will go kill that peacock bastard right now!”
Before Wei WuXian managed to disappear from his view and really went and tried murdering Jin ZiXuan, Jiang WanYin grabbed his arm and forced him to stay in place.
“No one is hurt. I… I just want you to be back at my side.”
For a long moment, Wei WuXian said nothing. Jiang WanYin thought he would never say anything and perhaps that might be an indication for him to forcefully carry his brother on his shoulders and bring him back to their home, but then the Yiling Patriarch suddenly blurted out a word.
“You promised that in the future when I became the sect leader, you would be my subordinate. Now that I am finally the sect leader, where are you? You said you would stay by my side forever, but look at what you are doing now? You left me, left sister, left Lotus Pier to protect the Wens! The Wens that killed father and mother, they were those people who burned down Lotus Pier!”
“Jiang Cheng, I have told you many times that Wen Qing and Wen Ning have nothing to do with what the Wens did to Lotus Pier. They both helped me save you, they even helped us to bring back Uncle Jiang’s and Madam Yu’s belongings! Jiang Cheng, please! If not for them –”
Wei WuXian immediately shut his mouth when he realized what he was about to reveal.
“If not for them, what? You can’t finish talking, then I will help you. If not for them, you would not leave me. If not for them, you would still be staying at Lotus Pier happily. If not for them, you would not be despised by the cultivation world. If not for them, you would be able to attend sister’s wedding, standing alongside me. If not for them, I would not be arguing with you here! We would be at Lotus Pier, training the new disciples together, and perhaps when we had some free time, we could get some wine together and spar with each other.”
Only that something like that would never happen, not anymore. Wei WuXian would not be able to spar with his Shidi for the rest of his life, but he could never tell him that.
“Jiang Cheng, stop –”
But no, Jiang WanYin was never one to listen.
“Wei WuXian, do you even know what they are talking about you? Wei WuXian, Yiling Patriarch, evil as a demon. Some said you are hiding in Burial Mounds, plotting to assassinate people, and trying to jump up to be the Chief Cultivator. Some even said that you left Yunmeng Jiang Sect to plot to steal my position as a sect leader. Ridiculous, isn’t it? So please, I don’t like to hear what these people are saying about you, but if you come back to Yunmeng with me, all the rumors will stop. Come back to Lotus Pier with me, everything will return to how it used to be, to how we used to be!”
“Jiang Cheng, don’t be silly. You seriously think that if I return to you, the rumors will stop?”
“I will make them stop,” said Jiang WanYin confidently.
“Do you trust me so much? What if what the other cultivators said is true? What if I am really plotting to be a chief cultivator, or what if I really want to be Yunmeng Jiang sect leader?”
Jiang WanYin was furious. He was furious that his brother would imagine him to not understand him enough, to not believe him, and tried to think that he would be stealing his position as the rightful sect leader. He was furious that his brother was taking this as a joke, more like taking him as a joke! He was furious that despite everything he had said, his brother still made no arrangement to return to Lotus Pier with him. He clenched his fist in anger, but he told himself to calm down. Being angry right now definitely would not help him in anything, and it would definitely not help him to successfully bring his brother back. When he finally calmed down and thought, he realized something seemed strange. Previously, Wei WuXian would always make sure that he would understand that no matter what happened, he would stay by his side, but right now, it was as though he wanted him to stay away from him, to abandon him and doubt him. This was not the first time that he was thinking about it, but he felt as though there was something more behind the reason why Wei WuXian was so keen on staying in Burial Mounds. He also felt that Wei WuXian and the Wen siblings, they seemed to have some sort of secret among them.
“Wei WuXian, you… Tell me, do you have another reason why you are so keen on protecting the Wen siblings?”
“What other reason could there be?” asked Wei WuXian.
“I don’t know, that’s why I am asking you. Somehow, I feel like there is something going on among you, Wen Qing and Wen Ning.”
Wei WuXian clenched his Chenqing, internally telling himself to calm down. Jiang Cheng knew nothing, he told himself.
“Wei WuXian, are you hiding something from me?”
“There is nothing I am hiding. You want to know why am I protecting them, it’s because I want to and I am capable of doing it. The things that I, Wei WuXian want to do, who will dare and be capable of stopping me?”
“Wei WuXian, you!”
Jiang WanYin was enraged. Enough was enough. He, the proud Yunmeng Jiang Sect Leader came all the way here to Burial Mounds to beg the one he thought of as his brother to return with him, yet not even was he not touched, it also did not seem like he appreciated his effort at all. He wanted to be stubborn, he wanted to stay at Burial Mounds to continue to be the fearful Yiling Patriarch, so be it! See if he would care! He turned to leave, not even trying to offer any other words.
Yes, that’s how it should be, thought Wei WuXian as he watched Jiang WanYin leave angrily. He knew this might most probably be the last time his brother would visit him, but that was the right thing to do. They should stop meeting each other. He did not want to bring any troubles to Yunmeng Jiang Sect again.
“Why would you do that?” asked Wen Qing as she appeared behind him right after Jiang WanYin left.
“It’s better if he stays away from me. I will only cause him more troubles,” said Wei WuXian.
There was a moment of silence between them. Being Wei WuXian, he turned to face the woman behind him as he broke the silence by jokingly added, “But too bad, you Wens can’t stay away from me, you people need me to protect you all.”
As he laughed at his own joke, he saw that Wen Qing shook her head and released an exhausted sigh before she left him alone. Once he knew she was surely gone, he stopped laughing almost immediately. He stared at the entrance of Burial Mounds, remembering the shadow of Jiang WanYin leaving him. He allowed himself to fall backward and dropped himself onto the ground. He lifted his right hand that was still holding Chenqing and stared at it. This hand was supposed to be holding Suibian, not Chenqing. He used to be in the middle of attention, always either bragging to everyone or having been praised by others how much of a genius he was.
“Shixiong, your sword skill is amazing. The most magnificent I have ever seen!”
Before Lotus Pier burned down, he was always surrounded by Yunmeng Jiang junior disciples, showing off how strong he was and listened to each and every praise that was sent to him. Jiang FengMian was always proud of him. Madam Yu, although looking as frustrated with him as usual, he always heard others (usually his Shijie) told him that despite everything, she was proud to have him as the head disciple of Yunmeng Jiang Sect. That was one of the reasons she would always compare her son with him. She wanted her son to be better than Wei WuXian, which actually meant she acknowledged Wei WuXian’s skills and abilities as a cultivator.
His future as a proud cultivator had ended right after Lotus Pier burned down. He would not be able to wield his sword in the front line anymore. He would not be able to stand beside Jiang Cheng and fought alongside him. All he could do now was to hide away from the cultivators, he could only stay in Burial Mounds forever, and hopefully, everyone would be kind enough to not disrupt the little peace that had been left for them.
“Jiang Cheng, I am sorry. Please take care of Shijie and yourself.”
It was yet another peaceful day in Cloud Recesses, but it was a different case in Jingshi. Lan WangJi was playing out the melodic music with his guqin – the music he had composed for a certain someone. He looked as calm as always, but his mind was in a mess. He could not stop thinking that something was wrong, that Wei WuXian – his Wei Ying must have been hiding something from everyone.
Something was definitely not right. The man had not only stopped bringing his sword around, but he was never seen using any spiritual energy too. Like when he was injured back at Burial Mounds, Lan WangJi tried sending him spiritual energy but Wei WuXian pushed him away immediately, his face seemed a little… apprehensive? It was like he did not dare to receive any spiritual energy. Was it something to do with demonic cultivation?
He could not let this continue. Tomorrow, he decided, he would go to the Burial Mounds and once again repeat to the man the similar phrase for who knows how many times had it been.
Wei Ying, please come back to Gusu with me.