“Say, if you tell me where Jiang WanYin is, I might consider allowing you to experience a less painful death,” said Wen Chao as he yanked Wei WuXian’s hair.
“Torture me however you want!” exclaimed Wei WuXian.
“What a loyal dog,” said Wen Chao. At that said, Wei WuXian started struggling under the Wens’ hold and stood up, only to be kicked down again.
“What dog?! I am definitely not a dog! At least call me a cat! I prefer to be called a cat!”
Wei WuXian was furious. Of all the things that they could have called him, and they chose to call him a dog. He would not accept this! He hated dogs – he was terrified of them, so yes, he hated them.
“What cat? You are a dog! You are always following behind the Jiangs and you are just a slave to the Jiangs, what makes you think you are more than a dog in their eyes?” stated Wen Chao.
“I don’t care, call me anything you want but definitely not a dog!”
“Shut up, like you have a say in this!” exclaimed Wen Chao before turning to the Wen disciples, looking in deep thoughts.
“Speaking of which, why would they call those loyal slaves as dogs? Why dogs of all animals?” Wen Chao asked the Wen disciples.
“That’s right, why is it a dog?” asked one of the Wens.
The others looked like they were thinking hard for an answer.
“It’s because out of all the pets, dogs are the most loyal. They remember who fed them and will be loyal to them forever. As for cats, they are loyal too but not as much as the dogs do. They go to wherever there is food and to whoever who treats them better,” said Wen ZhuLiu.
The Wens stared at him. This was probably the first time they heard Wen ZhuLiu spoke so much at once, and his words made sense. Wen Chao, along with the other Wen disciples thought about it and nodded, agreeing with Wen ZhuLiu.
“But it’s not only dogs, right? There must be other animals who are loyal too,” said one of the Wens.
“Right, like horses. Horses recognize their masters and whenever their masters whistled, the horses will go back to them.”
“Chickens too! They knew their masters only took them in to either have them lay eggs or to be cooked by them when they are old enough, yet they still stay!”
“That is probably because they cannot run!”
“But chickens have wings! They can fly away!”
“But chicken’s ability to fly is far weaker than other animals that have wings. They must have known that their masters will catch them back even if they try flying away.”
“How about butterflies? They must be loyal too!”
“How can a butterfly be loyal?”
“It’s true! Whenever I passed through the garden at Qishan, a butterfly is always there resting on the same flower.”
“How sure of you that it’s the same butterfly?”
“It was a different butterfly?!”
“You idiots, you are all wrong! All of these that you all mentioned definitely are not as loyal as flies. Flies follow humans around, they are loyal to their masters. They are always there especially when their masters are eating,” said Wen Chao, completely proud of himself. The Wen disciples thought about it, and yes, flies were always around. That meant flies are the most loyal animal around!
Watching how the Wen disciples agreed to his saying, Wen Chao was planning to explain more about flies to show them the difference in intelligence between him and them, but then there was a loud crash outside and more and more of the Wen disciples who were guarding outside were being thrown in, defeated. The others who were not defeated came running in and positioned themselves in front of Wen Chao, ready to die protecting him. Standing at the entrance were merely two men. One wearing a white robe with cloudy design on it, his sword Bichen on his hand. Another one wearing a black cloak to cover his purple robe, his right hand holding Sandu while his left having another weapon, namely Zidian.
It was none other than Lan WangJi from Gusu Lan Sect and Jiang WanYin from Yunmeng Jiang Sect.
The two men at the entrance focused their attention at the man who was being held captive by the Wens and being forced to kneel on the ground. Wei WuXian widened his eyes at the sight of the two men standing there. Oh no, he thought. They were all so screwed up. No matter how skillful Lan WangJi or Jiang Cheng could be, for two men to fight around fifty cultivators were ridiculous, not to mention that the dangerous Wen ZhuLiu was here.
“Jiang Cheng! Lan Zhan! Run!” yelled Wei WuXian. Wen Chao walked toward him and sent him a kick at his stomach, causing him to bend forward by the sudden hit.
“Jiang WanYin… oh dear Jiang WanYin, I was about to find some special ways to torture your Shixiong so that he will reveal your location, and here you are helping me to save time by appearing right in front of me,” said Wen Chao.
“If that is all you have to say, shut your mouth and wait for me to kill you!” exclaimed Jiang Cheng as both Lan WangJi and him charged forward and started bringing down more Wens to their defeat.
“Jiang Cheng, stop! You need to run, run as far as you can! Don’t let them find you!”
“Lan Zhan, please help me take Jiang Cheng away and run! There are too many, with only the two of you, you all will die here!”
None listened to him.
“Jiang Cheng, please I am not worth it. You said it too, that I was the one who brought down Lotus Pier. I am the reason Lotus Pier is gone now. I am the reason Uncle Jiang and Madam Yu are dead now. I am the reason that you lost your family!”
“Lan Zhan! Didn’t you always hate me? Am I really worth you sacrificing your life for? If you died here and when your uncle learns about it, he will find his ways to torture me even if I am dead. Leave! The two of you, leave now!”
None were listening to him.
“Get lost!” exclaimed Wei WuXian. He was crying at this point. He could not let these two people die here, right in front of him. Jiang Cheng must not die here, he needed to be safe to rebuild Yunmeng Jiang Sect and to take care of his sister, the only family member left for him. As for Lan WangJi, of course he should not die here too. He who was so majestic, so perfect, so amazing, so magnificent – he was so many things and Wei WuXian would shorten the description for this man by saying that he is the best man in the whole universe. He would not let this man die before him, now that he thought about it, he would gladly die for him if given the chance.
Wei WuXian was panicking. There was no response from the two, and they definitely did not look as if they were planning to escape at all.
“Get lost! Get lost! Get lost! Get lost! Get –”
Wen Chao had his fingers wrapped around Wei WuXian’s throat tightly.
“You are too noisy! I will send you to hell first!” exclaimed Wen Chao. Lan WangJi and Jiang Cheng fought harder, killed more Wens in a faster speed so they could get to Wei WuXian in time. They were still too far away, but by hook or by crook, they needed to get there in time. There was no way they would watch Wei WuXian die in front of them, but there were too many Wens and Wei WuXian was getting paler as he gasped for air that could not enter his lungs.
They could not make it in time!
Jiang Cheng knew he was starting to tremble. He needed to fight harder and faster. He had lost so many already, he could not afford to lose his brother too!
Lan WangJi, on the other hand, was panicking internally despite how calm he may look to others. Wei Ying was just there, but he could not reach him. He was dying and Lan WangJi could not do anything about it. He needed to think. Anything that would help him to distract Wen Chao, he needed to find some ways to make Wen Chao take his hands off his Wei Ying.
He needed to think, he really needed to think. Anything… anything would be fine! He needed to calm himself and think and –
Both Lan WangJi and Jiang Cheng sensed something behind their backs, roaring loudly. Wait, roaring? There were lots of screams from outside and… from Wen Chao. Wen Chao looked like he had seen a ghost, his face pale and he was sweating like crazy. It was rather comical of him but the roaring sound was getting louder, so Jiang Cheng and Lan WangJi had to turn to see what was happening. Of all the things in the world that they could have expected, they definitely did not expect there were two tigers, one facing Lan WangJi and another facing Jiang Cheng. The tigers charged forward and both the men were quick enough to dodge, letting the tigers ran past them.
Wen Chao screamed and quickly released Wei WuXian from his hold, leaving Wei WuXian collapsed on the ground. Wen Chao had already run out, followed by Wen ZhuLiu and the other Wen disciples. One of the tigers ran out, following behind the Wens, already taking them as its prey. Another one was charging toward Wei WuXian who seemed to have been fallen unconscious on the ground. Jiang Cheng swiftly wrapped zidian around the tiger while Lan WangJi used Bichen to end the tiger’s life. When the tiger finally dropped dead, Jiang Cheng and Lan WangJi quickly rushed toward Wei WuXian and checked his pulse to make sure he was alive. Everything went well, except the part with the tiger… but the tiger saved them – saved Wei WuXian, so everything went well.
They had to leave soon before either the Wens or the tiger that left came back. Jiang Cheng prepared to carry his brother, but Lan WangJi had already scooped him up.
“Let’s leave,” said Lan WangJi and started to walk away. Jiang Cheng stared at both of his hands that he held out previously in order to prepare to carry his brother in his arms, then he looked at Lan WangJi walking away while carrying his brother. He blinked his eyes in confusion. Nothing made much sense today. He put his hands down and followed behind Lan WangJi.
When they were outside of the teahouse, the street was in a mess, probably caused by those people running around when they were all previously trying to escape from the tigers. People were still running around even now.
“Follow me,” whispered a man in a black cloak who appeared behind Lan WangJi and Jiang Cheng.
Lan WangJi and Jiang Cheng exchanged eye contact with each other. They needed help, and this man seemed to be offering. If he was a Wen, he would probably kill them at this instant. Both nodded to each other, willing to risk this once. They followed the man until they reached a small hut and entered along with the man. There was a woman already standing there.
It was Wen Qing.
The man in black cloak took off his hood. Jiang Cheng recognized him as Wen Ning.
Lan WangJi immediately summoned Bichen out, ready for defense. Wen Ning stepped in front of his sister.
“We mean no harm,” said Wen Ning.
Lan WangJi eyed the Wen siblings suspiciously.
“They saved us before,” said Jiang Cheng.
Lan WangJi looked at him for a moment, then summoned his sword back into its sheath.
“It’s not very safe here, so we will have to leave soon. For now, we will need to bandage up Young Master Wei first,” said Wen Ning as he walked toward Lan WangJi, hands held out to take Wei WuXian from him. Lan WangJi tightened his hold around Wei WuXian protectively as he stepped back, eyes glaring at Wen Ning.
Jiang Cheng was there in front of Lan WangJi almost immediately, Sandu pointed at Wen Ning, daring him to walk another step forward. After all, even if they did save him before, he would never trust anyone from the Wen Sect.
“We don’t have time! It’s either you trust us, then give me Wei WuXian so we can do something for his injuries or you can choose not to trust us and get the hell out of here!” exclaimed Wen Qing. She was never good at having patience and these two protective men were really annoying. She understood the protectiveness from Jiang Cheng, but as for Lan WangJi… it seemed like she might have discovered something interesting.
“Second Master Lan, what about you put Young Master Wei on the bed over there?” asked Wen Ning.
Lan WangJi thought for a moment before walking toward the bed and put Wei WuXian down while Jiang Cheng kept his sword back to its sheath and walked toward the bed as well.
Wen Ning went to take the medical equipment while Wen Qing started to check where Wei WuXian had been wounded. His arms and legs seemed fine, only his upper body and his face seemed to be injured. She pulled his robe down to his waist so she could start applying for medicine on it and she definitely noticed that when she pulled down Wei WuXian’s robe, Lan WangJi immediately averted his gaze from them, but he was still holding Wei WuXian’s hand tightly. He had not released his hold on Wei WuXian ever since he put him down on the bed.
“Young Master Jiang and Second Master Lan, are you two injured?” asked Wen Ning.
“We are fine, it’s just Wei WuXian. Thanks to the two tigers that arrived in time, we all manage to come out safely,” said Jiang Cheng.
There was suddenly a loud crash. All eyes turned to Wen Qing as she had apparently thrust the scissors that she just used to cut off Wei WuXian’s bandage into the table located near the bed.
“The two tigers belonged to sister. We saw that Young Master Wen is about to kill Young Master Wei, so we decided by using the tigers we can save him,” explained Wen Ning.
“What? The tigers belong to you two? Why do you even have tigers in the first place? You Wens actually keep tigers as pets?” asked Jiang Cheng in disbelief.
“What’s wrong with keeping tigers as pets?” Wen Qing retorted.
“Besides, the tigers are used to help me with my medical experiments,” said Wen Qing.
“More importantly, how sure of you that your tigers will scare off Wen Chao?” asked Jiang Cheng.
“Wen Chao is afraid of cats, and anything that belongs to the cat family like tigers, lions, leopards, he is afraid of them all.”
So there were people out there who were afraid of certain animals too, Wei WuXian was not the only one, thought Jiang Cheng.
“Thank you for your help,” said Lan WangJi as he turned to Wen Qing.
Wen Qing chuckled as he looked at Lan WangJi. Things had gotten interesting and she was a little glad to be the one to discover something as fascinating as this. However, it seemed so out of character of her, and everyone could only stare at her including her own brother.
“Jiejie, what is so funny?” asked Wen Ning.
“I am sorry,” apologized Wen Qing as she looked at Lan WangJi’s hand that was still holding Wei WuXian’s and continued, “but who would have expected that the usually quiet and honorable Second Master Lan will be in love with the loud and noisy Wei WuXian.”
Lan WangJi unconsciously widened his eyes slightly at the statement and his ears were starting to be painted by a shade of pink. He looked down to avoid the other gazes directed at him.
“What?!” exclaimed Jiang Cheng and Wen Ning together.
“What, you did not know?” asked Wen Qing as she observed Jiang Cheng.
“Wait, both of them aren’t together yet?” asked Wen Qing again in surprise.
The astonished Jiang Cheng did nothing more than answering Wen Qing’s question.
“Wei Ying and I aren’t like that. I am the one… who one-sidedly loves him,” said Lan WangJi.
“What?!” exclaimed Jiang Cheng again.
This would be bad, like terribly bad! Because if Lan WangJi was really in love in Wei Wuxian… then this would be really bad. More importantly, why was his brain already working on imagining the scene on how Lan WangJi would confess his love to Wei WuXian?
Wei Ying, I have been in love with you for a very long time already. Will you marry me?
What? Lan Zhan, did you just say you are in love with me? Me, out of all people? Are you serious? You are really in love with me?
Lan Zhan, I love you so much! Let’s get married at this instant!
This was really, really bad. How did his imagination turn out to be so amazingly realistic?!
“I have already bandaged up his injuries. Wen Ning and I will leave first and you all should leave as soon as possible too. Here we have prepared three sets of Wen clothes for you all, as long as you all wear Wen clothes, it is less likely to be found out,” said Wen Qing.
Jiang Cheng heard Wen Qing and Wen Ning leaving and quickly came out of his imagination to turn to the leaving siblings.
“Wait, I… Wen Qing, Wen Ning, thank you for saving us – saving Wei WuXian this time,” said Jiang Cheng.
“What a surprise, I have no idea that you know how to thank people. Even when my brother saved you in Yunmeng back then, you didn’t even thank us, and now you are finally thanking us?” questioned Wen Qing.
“That time is different. This time you helped me save Wei WuXian and I am really thankful for that,” answered Jiang Cheng.
“You two…” said Wen Qing as she sighed. These two men were really similar, it’s a shame they weren’t brothers in blood.
“You really do care for Wei WuXian a lot, don’t you?” asked Wen Qing.
“Yes, he is my brother after all,” answered Jiang Cheng.
“I am glad to hear that. Take care of your brother,” said Wen Qing as she turned to leave. When she was just about to open the door, she turned back to Jiang Cheng again.
“By the way, if you are thinking of repaying something to me as a gift for helping you today, there is a way,” said Wen Qing.
“I will do whatever I can,” said Jiang Cheng.
“If you can, by any chance… do you think you will be able to find and give me two tigers in return?” asked Wen Qing.
Jiang Cheng could only stare at her, feeling stupefied. Just how much did her love for tigers ran within her? Tigers, seriously? At a time like this? Where the hell was he supposed to find two tigers for her when he was being hunted by the Wens? Ridiculous, Wen Qing was definitely being ridiculous!
He wanted to shout at her for being so absurd, but he did not want to owe any of the Wens so he would find two tigers for her even if it would kill him in the process! Besides, Wen Qing and her brother already left and they really should not stay here any longer. They needed to leave and go to Gusu as soon as possible before the Wens got their hands on them. He was about to walk toward the bed to carry Wei WuXian, but Lan WangJi was already waiting for him at the door with Wei WuXian in his arms.
There were tigers. Two tigers. One behind Jiang Cheng and another behind Lan Zhan. Wei WuXian quickly rushed toward the two of them. He needed to save them!
“Jiang Cheng! Lan Zhan!”
Wei WuXian opened his pair of eyes, he woke up and sat bolt upright in bed with his hands reaching forward as if trying to catch or pull someone away from something dangerous.
Wei WuXian looked at the two men calling his name before he turned around and identified this place was most probably Cloud Recesses. The room looked clean and empty, too boring in his opinion, just like Cloud Recesses.
“Wei WuXian, it’s okay. We are safe now in Cloud Recesses. Everything is fine now,” said Jiang Cheng as he grabbed his brother’s shoulders, only to have Wei WuXian gave him a punch on his abdomen in return.
“Idiot, what was that for?!” exclaimed Jiang Cheng. The punch was weak, no spiritual energy was used in it, but it was too sudden and it did really hurt a little. Wei WuXian clenched at Jiang Cheng’s robe angrily.
“You are the idiot one! Did you not hear me?! I told you to leave, to get lost! What if something happened to you? What if you died or what if you lose your golden core again?! How am I supposed to face Madam Yu and Uncle Jiang if anything of that happens?! All I want is for you to be safe, don’t you understand?!” exclaimed Wei WuXian, tears already starting to fall off his eyes as he remembered how terrified he was when no matter what he said, Jiang Cheng just would not stop fighting the Wens and leave.
Jiang Cheng pulled his brother into an embrace. Wei WuXian tried pushing him away. He still was not done scolding him, there were still a lot of things he wanted to yell at him. However, without a golden core and no spiritual energy with him, he was no doubt too weak to push Jiang Cheng away.
“You are my brother. How can you even expect me to run away when they are about to kill you?” said Jiang Cheng. He grabbed Wei WuXian’s shoulders and pulled himself away from him to look at his brother.
“Wei WuXian, you are my brother.”
He observed how his brother cried harder and it really did pain him. The fact that Wei WuXian was actually expecting him to do nothing while watching how Wen Chao was trying to kill him showed how worthless he thought of himself. He wiped his brother’s tears away.
“Wei WuXian, listen here. Whatever happened to Lotus Pier, to mother and father, none of it is your fault. I know I should not have said any of those things I said on that night even if I was grieving, I am terribly sorry about that and if I am grieving, so are you. I forgot I was not the only one who lost my family in a night, you too. No, in fact this is the second time that you have lost your family, but you still have me and A-Jie. We are your family, please do not forget that,” said Jiang Cheng as he pulled his brother into a tighter embrace and allowed his brother some time to cry in his shoulders while he stroked his brother’s hair, comforting him.
As he was still comforting his brother, Jiang Cheng looked at Lan WangJi who had been standing there silently. He suddenly remembered that Lan WangJi was in love with his brother. He needed to give the two idiots some time alone so that they could sort things out by themselves. Besides, he had an important task to complete.
“Wei WuXian,” said Jiang Cheng as he wiped away his brother’s tears again and said, “Stop crying already. I have something important to do now, you stay here first. It’s very safe here in Cloud Recesses.”
When Jiang Cheng stood up, Wei WuXian quickly grabbed his arm.
“Where are you going? Don’t tell me you are going to find Wen Chao to take revenge again?” asked Wei WuXian.
“No, not finding the Wens. Don’t worry, it’s nothing dangerous,” said Jiang Cheng as he turned to Lan WangJi, “Second Master Lan, please take care of him for me.”
Once Jiang Cheng left Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi alone, he sighed. He needed to think about how he should be starting his task. As he was thinking, he heard someone calling for him and turned out it was Lan QiRen. Jiang Cheng greeted him.
“How is Wei WuXian?” asked Lan QiRen.
“He just woke up and should be fine given enough rest,” answered Jiang Cheng.
“I am glad to hear that,” said Lan QiRen as he stroked his goatee. Jiang Cheng looked at him, he tried to open his mouth but closed it back again.
“You have a question?” asked Lan QiRen.
He looked at Lan QiRen and hesitated to proceed with his question. However, he was not quite familiar with the places around Gusu and Lan QiRen might be able to give him an answer if he actually asked.
“Mr. Lan, do you by any chance know where can I hunt tigers in Gusu?”
Lan QiRen could only stare at Jiang Cheng, inarticulate. After all, seriously? At a time like this? Did losing his family made this young boy lose his mind or something?
Jiang Cheng knew Lan QiRen must have thought he had gone crazy. Jiang Cheng could only imagine that when Wen Qing asked him to give her two tigers in return, he probably wore the same expression as Lan QiRen. That was extremely embarrassing! He excused himself after telling Lan QiRen to forget what he said. He would find a way to hunt the tigers by himself.
“Wei Ying,” said Lan WangJi as he held Wei WuXian’s hand. Wei WuXian pulled his hand away and glared at Lan WangJi.
“I am still angry, Lan Zhan! Do you have any idea how worried I was? No matter how strong you are, do you really think you can defeat all the Wens with just you and Jiang Cheng?”
“I don’t think we can, but just like how Jiang WanYin will not give up because you are his brother, I too. I can’t give up and watch the one I love dies in front of my eyes. If I can die for you, if my death can be exchanged with your life, then I am more than willing to die.”
Wei WuXian widened his eyes. Did he hear that right?
“The one you… love?”
“Yes, I love you, Wei Ying.”
“Even if I might not be the same Wei Ying anymore?” questioned Wei WuXian.
“I will love you no matter how you change,” answered Lan WangJi without a single hint of hesitation.
“What if I tell you that I want to step out of the cultivation world and stop cultivating completely and find a peaceful place and start farming for a living?” questioned Wei WuXian again.
Lan WangJi looked surprised but he understood that after so many things that happened, one would want to leave such a dangerous place. He gently stroked Wei WuXian’s face and nodded.
“Then I will go with you and farm with you.”
Wei WuXian gaped at him. That was not an answer he expected.
“Really, you will go with me? What about your sect? Your brother and your uncle?”
“They will understand.”
Wei WuXian gave him a bright smile.
“And I want to start having rabbits as pets too. You can feed them while I play with them. I want a donkey too and it will be great if we can adopt a child as well!”
“Mm. We will do all that.”
Wei WuXian rushed forward and hugged Lan WangJi and smiled brighter than ever. He felt in bliss. He had never realized it before this, but he was really in love with Lan WangJi. He only noticed it when Lan WangJi and Jiang Cheng came to save him. It was at that time that he realized all those times that he was pestering Lan WangJi was not because he wanted to annoy him, but it was for the sake of getting his attention so that Lan WangJi would be attracted to him. Now that Lan WangJi was in his hands, he would not let him go. They would stay together for eternity.