Jiang YanLi turned back, gazing at the familiar scenes around her. She turned around, feeling something was not right. She remembered that she was supposed to be still in Cloud Recesses at the moment. She had attended the wedding of Lan WangJi and Lan WangXian along with her husband and brother, and they should be staying for the night at Cloud Recesses after the wedding banquet. Lan XiChen had prepared guest rooms for all the guests who attended the wedding, welcoming everyone to stay for the night or more if they wished to. However, as she turned and scanned her surroundings, she was sure this was not Cloud Recesses she was standing at. It was no doubt her home – the home that she had shared with her two brothers with tons of their precious memories.
She tried calling out to her two brothers, hopefully, one of them would answer to her and tell her what was going on.
The voice startled her and she turned to the man calling out to her immediately. The man was smiling fondly at her. Realizing the identity of the man standing before her, she felt her heart pounding so fast and for a moment, it almost felt like she had forgotten how to breathe. She could feel her tears welling up in her eyes as she approached her lost brother.
She raised up her trembling hand to touch her brother’s face, “A-Xian? A-Xian, is this really you?”
The man did not answer. He merely continued on smiling fondly at her. She scrutinized the man and that was when she noticed her A-Xian was wearing his red, wedding robes with an unmistakable Lan sect forehead ribbon on him.
“A-Xian, you..!” Jiang YanLi started, and the smile on her brother merely widened.
The man turned around happily, showing Jiang YanLi how magnificent his wedding robes turned out to be.
“Shijie, Iook! I am married! Do I look handsome?”
Jiang YanLi smiled at her brother, feeling contented to see that her brother was in so much happiness.
“A-Xian, you… you are married?” Jiang YanLi questioned, and her brother grinned.
“My XianXian looks wonderful. Tell Shijie, who is the lucky bride. When are you bringing her home?”
“The one I married is the most amazing person in the world! The person is –”
Jiang YanLi turned, hearing another voice calling out to her, but no one else was around. She turned back to her brother who was smiling at her sadly. She blinked her eyes in confusion. Had her brother already told her who was the one he had married? But why was her brother suddenly looking sad?
She felt a sense of foreboding within her heart. She advanced to her brother to touch his face again, but upon touching the man’s face, her brother had disappeared into the thin air. She widened her eyes in horror. No! This was not happening!
There was no response even as she continued screaming out for her brother to reappear.
Jiang YanLi snapped her eyes open with the loud voice calling out to her. She turned to see her husband sitting at her side, watching her worriedly. Her husband raised up his hand to her face, seemingly wiping her tears away.
“A-Li, you dreamt of Wei WuXian again?” questioned Jin ZiXuan.
She stared at her husband in surprise, finally noticing that she had been crying. She knew what had made her cried.
She felt her shoulders slumped down, realizing that everything was a dream even though it had felt so real and it was no doubt, a beautiful dream. She was reminded of how handsome her brother looked with his wedding robes and the Lan sect forehead ribbon on him.
No, she thought. This was not an ordinary dream. This was probably her brother trying to inform her something through a dream. Ignoring her husband’s worried gaze, she left the bed and started making preparations to leave the room. She had an important task to work on before they left Cloud Recesses.
“Jiang Cheng, are you living well?”
Jiang WanYin turned around immediately. He recognized that voice. He would never ever forget that voice!
“Wei WuXian!” exclaimed Jiang WanYin. He immediately stood up and tried reaching his brother, but Wei WuXian backed away every time he came near him.
“I am glad you are safe,” said Wei WuXian as he smiled sadly at him.
“Wei WuXian, I… listen to me first. I –”
“It’s fine, Jiang Cheng. I understand. Who am I but a servant to the Jiang sect?”
“That’s not it!”
“I know you hate me, forgive me for coming here. I merely wanted to make sure you are safe before I leave. No matter how you think, to me, Lotus Pier is always my home and my life will forever belong to the Jiang sect. You and Shijie are the only two I care for now. Please take care, I promise I will not appear in front of you again.”
“No, Wei WuXian! Don’t leave!” Jiang WanYin screamed as he rushed forward to grab his brother, but when he touched him, his brother had vanished.
“No, Wei WuXian!” Jiang WanYin snapped his eyes open only to come to the sudden realization that it was yet another of his dream. He had been dreaming almost every day, each dream ended in the same way in which his brother would come to see him and tell him that he knew how much he had hated him and he would then disappear into dust. He could not take it anymore. He wanted to tell his brother how much he had regretted and how much he loved him.
Just like usual, he would find himself curling up by the side crying every time after dreaming of his lost brother. This time was no exception, but a sudden knock from outside of his room startled him.
“A-Cheng, have you woken up?”
That was his sister’s voice. He wiped his tears away and went to open the door to invite her sister in.
“Did you sleep well?” questioned Jiang YanLi.
Jiang WanYin remained silent. He knew his sister could have guessed what had happened. Again.
“You dreamt of A-Xian again?”
Jiang WanYin nodded.
“I dreamt of A-Xian too," said Jiang YanLi as she smiled, "In the dream, A-Xian told me he is married."
Jiang WanYin turned to his sister, the shock was written all over his face as he exclaimed, “Married?!”
Jiang YanLi smiled at the reaction, but she could not blame him, could she? It was after all very surprising if what she was thinking of at the moment was the truth. Not only was it surprising, but it would be extremely hurtful too to know that their brother was married yet they had no idea about it at all.
“A-Cheng, I have always felt that Young Master Lan WangXian seems a little familiar. Do you think that it might be possible that he is…”
Jiang WanYin frowned, “You are suspecting that he is Wei WuXian?”
Jiang YanLi nodded.
“When I see him, I always feel like A-Xian is beside me and everything he did is similar to A-Xian too. He is sort of mischievous, and the way he smiles too.”
Jiang WanYin contemplated his sister’s words and it sounded logical.
“Come to think of it, this Lan WangXian only appears when Wei WuXian disappears and the way he calls Lan WangJi sounded exactly like him. Wait – what?! If Wei WuXian is indeed Lan WangXian, does that mean he is married to Lan WangJi?!”
Jiang YanLi smiled at the thought. She felt a tinge of warmth running deep within herself to know that her brother might be married to Lan WangJi. She had witnessed how Lan WangJi had cared deeply for his husband and if Lan WangXian was really Wei WuXian, then she could almost be sure that her brother had chosen the right man as his husband.
“I would be happy for him. Second master Lan is definitely a good match for A-Xian,” said Jiang YanLi.
Jiang WanYin, however, held a totally different opinion.
“What?! That is not possible! Lan WangJi hates Wei WuXian and Wei WuXian – he!”
He liked Lan WangJi a lot, but no – Jiang WanYin would rather think that Wei WuXian just wanted a new friend to play with. His brother was not interested in Lan WangJi, definitely not the way where he wanted to marry him!
“How is it not possible? Did you not see how A-Xian talks about Second Master Lan so fondly? I have long suspected that he might be in love with Second Master Lan, but I never got the chance to test it out,” said Jiang YanLi.
Both the Jiang siblings seemed to be deep in thoughts until Jiang YanLi suddenly remembered something else that might give them a clue.
“Come to think of it, A-Cheng, you remembered the fight you had with Second Master Lan back at Lanling? Did he mention anything about A-Xian?” questioned Jiang YanLi.
Jiang WanYin once again frowned upon reminded of what had happened that day. That day, after Lan WangXian had announced that it was all a misunderstanding and everyone else were returning to the hall, Jiang WanYin remembered saying something that went along the line that he was surprised that Second Master Lan seemed to be so close with the masked man that he had brought along. He even added that he thought Second Master Lan would never befriend anyone because after all, Wei WuXian had been trying to befriend him for so long yet all he could get from Second Master Lan was nothing but hatred.
“Were you the one who told Wei Ying that I hated him?” Jiang WanYin still remembered Lan WangJi asking him that question.
“There is no need for me to tell him that. Everyone in this world knows that you hate him,” stated Jiang WanYin.
“Were you the one who told Wei Ying that I hated him?” Lan WangJi repeated the question again and Jiang WanYin was annoyed.
“Yes, I told him. I made it sure that he understood just how much you hated him yet that idiot never listened to me, always only hanging around you trying to be friends with you!”
It had happened so naturally and Jiang WanYin really could not remember who had started it first, but they started pointing the end of their swords against each other in no time and the next thing he knew was the masked man back then who was now known as Lan WangXian was standing before him, seemingly protecting him from being wounded by Bichen.
Jiang YanLi, upon hearing out what had actually happened that day, she was even more confident that Lan WangXian was the brother that she had been searching for months.
“A-Cheng, I think we should test it out if Lan WangXian is indeed our XianXian,” said Jiang YanLi.
“But how?” Jiang WanYin questioned.
“I am thinking that there is one thing that A-Xian is deadly afraid of, and perhaps we can test it out with that,” said Jiang YanLi.
Jiang WanYin widened his eyes, “You mean dogs?”
Jiang YanLi nodded hesitantly, feeling guilty for scaring her brother like that, but she had no other choice. She needed to confirm if she had just attended her brother’s wedding without knowing it.
“But the problem is where do we find a dog here? Cloud Recesses forbids animals,” said Jiang YanLi.
“A-Jie, do you remember that before coming here, Jin ZiXuan mentioned that he had ordered a puppy at Caiyi Town?” questioned Jiang WanYin and his sister nodded in understanding.
Sometimes, a sacrifice was needed to accomplish something. Jin ZiXuan would have to get another puppy because this puppy would need to sacrifice itself to help the Jiang siblings find their lost brother.
Jiang WanYin could not believe that he was really doing this! He and his sister, both of them were hiding behind one of the trees, watching Lan WangJi seemingly talking to his husband. He turned to face his sister, deciding that it was time to start their plan. His sister nodded and walked forward, coming out from their hiding spot.
They had both agreed that it was better for Jiang WanYin to not show himself. Wei WuXian had always shown himself better in front of Jiang YanLi. Besides, Wei WuXian might be on guard if Jiang WanYin appeared. After all, he was the one who had stabbed him and forced him to go into hiding. Just like all the other cultivators out there, Wei WuXian must have thought Jiang WanYin wanted him dead more than anything else.
“Second young master Lan, young master Lan WangXian,” she greeted.
“Maiden Jiang,” Both Lan WangJi and the masked man greeted.
“We are about to leave, so I am here to bid farewell. Young Master Lan WangXian, do you mind if I have a private talk with you?”
The masked man looked at Lan WangJi and nodded. Lan WangJi left without another word.
“How can I help you, Maiden Jiang?” questioned the masked man.
Jiang YanLi decided she had no time to beat around the bushes so she would not waste another second. After a detailed discussion with her brother, they had decided to request for him to take out the mask himself first before the appearance of the fearful cute little puppy that Jin ZiXuan had just bought. The Jiang siblings still remembered the moment that they had mentioned they had to sacrifice Jin ZiXuan’s little puppy, Jin ZiXuan had been so devastated.
Jiang YanLi and Jiang WanYin had turned to stare at Jin ZiXuan.
Jiang WanYin narrowed his eyes, “What did you call your dog?”
“A-Ling! I have named him A-Ling after my son! Then I will give A-Ling to A-Ling as a present!” exclaimed Jin ZiXuan as he started grieving for his dog that would soon be confiscated by the Lans once they found out that they had sneaked a dog into Cloud Recesses.
Jiang WanYin stared at his brother-in-law , feeling stupefied at what he had just heard, “You named your dog as the same name you have given to your son!”
Jiang YanLi remained silent, deciding that she had no interest to involve in the current topic being discussed.
Jiang YanLi had released an exhausted sigh before she stepped forward.
“Young Master Lan, you know when I first saw you, I felt that you reminded me of my brother,” said Jiang YanLi.
The masked man tilted his head, “Your brother? Do you mean Sect Leader Jiang?”
Jiang YanLi chuckled, “No, I have two brothers and you reminded me of my other brother who is not A-Cheng.”
Jiang YanLi scrutinized the man who looked confused before she continued, “We call him XianXian, and you feel so similar to him in terms of how the two of you speak and smile. A-Xian, you are my XianXian, right? Please, I already know it is you, so please take off your mask to see me, will you?”
Jiang YanLi could feel tears surging within her eyes and she ignored them. She was also aware that her voice sounded so sorrowful and she was begging for the man before her to take off his masks as she advanced step after step to the man while the masked man repeatedly stepped back, trying his best to maintain a distance with Jiang YanLi.
“Maiden Jiang, there must be a misunderstanding. I am not your brother,” stated the masked man.
“Then, Young Master Lan WangXian, would you be kind enough to take off your mask to make me see the truth myself?” Jiang YanLi questioned, and the masked man fell into silence.
Sensing that this was not going anywhere, she had one hand behind her back and was about to signal for her brother to bring out the dog when the man before her suddenly raised up his hands, surprising both Jiang YanLi and Jiang WanYin with what he was doing.
He took out his mask, and Jiang YanLi could not be more surprised at the image of the man named Lan WangXian who stood before her.
Jiang YanLi stared at it for a long time, finding it hard to believe that the man before him was not her brother. She could almost confirm that this was her A-Xian with the way the man spoke and smiled, but it turned out that she had made a mistake which was not forgivable at all. She could not believe that she had mistaken someone else – a stranger for her brother.
Jiang WanYin who was watching everything from behind noticed how depressed his sister must be feeling at the moment. He, on the other hand, was both relieved and disappointed. Relieved that Lan WangXian was not Wei WuXian and that his brother did not get married to Lan WangJi merely to get protection from the Lans. Disappointed that he still had not found his brother. That meant his brother was still not confirmed to be alive.
Feeling his shoulders slumped down with the disappointment, he stepped out from his hiding spot and approached his sister and the now unmasked man.
“A-Jie,” Jiang WanYin called out. His sister merely turned to him for a short moment before she focused on the man before them, looking as though she was checking if the man had put any extra disguise on his face but she obviously found none.
“Young Master Lan, my sister and I will take our leave now,” said Jiang WanYin as he bowed down to the man before pulling his sister with him and started walking away.
The unmasked man bent down to collect the mask just when four men came out behind him – the twin jades of Lan, a masked man who was known as Lan WangJi’s husband now and lastly, Nie HuaiSang.
Nie HuaiSang turned to the man who was holding a mask in his hand, “Thank you. You can go now and do not tell anyone what happened today.”
The man nodded and Nie HuaiSang watched the man left. The man was a disciple of his Qinghe Nie sect and he was a trusted friend of him. He had a shy personality and did not like being in a crowd, so that would at least help to lessen down the probability that the Jiang siblings would meet him again. Everything started just when he had passed by Jiang WanYin’s room this morning. He had thought as friends, perhaps he should pay a visit to a certain sect leader but he happened to overhear on the Jiang siblings’ plan in trying to expose Lan WangXian’s identity.
Feeling panicked for his friend, he rushed to Jingshi and told his friend on what he had overheard. They had a short discussion and came up with such a plan. Fortunately, it worked.
Wei WuXian fixed his gaze on the direction his siblings had left, eyes dampening now knowing that it would probably be a very long time until they could meet again.
“Take care, Shijie, Jiang Cheng.”
Lan WangJi pulled him into his embrace, knowing that his husband would appreciate it and he was sure his husband needed it right now more than ever. Feeling that he needed the warmth of his husband more than anything else, Wei WuXian embraced his husband tightly.
At least, Wei WuXian thought, he might have lost his family, but he had Lan WangJi – his husband by his side.
That simple thought made him felt contented and he tightened his hold on his husband while appreciating his husband's occasional comfort of stating that he would always be there for him. He smiled, ignoring the single or double drops of tears that left his eyes.
Nie HuaiSang, upon seeing such a sight knew he was of no place to be here. He turned to leave but after not more than five steps, he felt a gentle hand on his shoulders and turned around to see Lan XiChen smiling at him gently.
“HuaiSang, I think we should talk. About you suddenly learning of my brother-in-law’s identity.”
Lan XiChen was still smiling even as he said that, but Nie HuaiSang felt the man was not really smiling sincerely at all. He felt goosebumps all over him, almost similar to when he was facing his elder brother who was enraged whenever they were discussing his cultivation studies and his saber practices. These two were certainly similar in some ways.
As expected of someone worthy of being his elder brother’s sworn brother!