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Constellations in our Hearts

Chapter Text

The four auspicious beasts, as well as the fifth beast, are some of the most powerful creatures of China. When people found out about the legend of five people of different sects having them as their spirit animals, they were envious but also looked forward to the day the five people would be revealed. The legend does not mention any names, but there are clear descriptions of the people.

The Azure Dragon, QingLong, would be a generous, harmonious, calm, intelligent, sincere, faithful, wise, timid, melancholic, patient, understanding, passive and jealous person.
The Black Tortoise, XuanWu, would be a wise, serious, powerful, strong, disciplined, pessimistic, aloof, strong-willed, formal, persistent, indecisive and protective person.
The White Tiger, Baihu, would be a strong, majestic, fearless, fierce, peaceful, cold, hopeful, inhospitable, distant, indecisive, stubborn, judging, competitive and ambitious person.
The Vermilion Bird, ZhuQue, would be a determined, optimistic, courageous, ambitious, impulsive, impatient, charismatic, loving, strong, obsessive and passionate person.
And the Yellow Dragon, HuangLong, would be a cowardly, loyal, fearful, sad, caring, fragile, cautious, friendly, compassionate, honest, overprotective, responsible and enduring person.

The descriptions are very specific, but since nobody is allowed to say the name of their spirit animal until they find their mates, it is impossible for people to know who they are. But when one by one, each of the alphas meets their omega, they start announcing who they are. All but one, their omega himself. Because while their omega is very powerful, he is extremely oblivious and he also isn't aware of his spirit animal, which makes finding his mate way harder.

Chapter Text

Wei Ying was a familiar face to the villagers. He had appeared a few months ago and while he seemed timid and sad at first, he quickly found a place in other people's hearts due to his friendly and polite yet mischievous personality. By now, everyone knew that he was the son of Cangse Sanren, a legendary rogue cultivator and Wei Changze, a servant and friend of the Yunmeng Jiang sect's leader Jiang FengMian. They also knew that his parents had died a heroic death, protecting not only their son but also countless villagers during a night hunt. Said son escaped and had found the town he now called his home, even though he didn't own a house or any other belongings. He simply spent his nights there, sometimes people were even generous enough to shelter him in their sheds.

Sometimes he was given food by the more generous of the people, while the less generous ones usually chased him away when he was simply looking at their food. Wei Ying understood, he did, not everyone had the privilege of having enough food to share with him. He was thankful enough that even a small portion of people shared with him what they had. And he made sure to give others the same feeling by sharing the very small rations of food he owned with other people who lived on the streets, especially children younger than him and the elderly.

He was so popular with the villagers, that word about the extraordinarily polite yet mischievous homeless boy got to Yunmeng. Even Jiang FengMian heard about the boy but decided not to seek him out since he knew that he couldn't just take in some random street boy. Until he heard the rumor that it wasn't just some boy, but the son of his friend and his unrequited love.

As soon as he heard, he took off to look for the boy and confirm whether it was true. He didn't hear about his friend in a long time and if the boy was really his friend's homeless son, something terrible must've happened to him.

When he arrived in the village where the boy was said to reside in, he asked everyone he came across whether they knew the boy and whether they knew where he was at that moment. Of course, everyone knew the boy but since he often wandered from food stall to food stall, to talk to people he was already familiar with, nobody knew his exact location at that moment. So Jiang FengMian took to looking in the whole village and when he was close to giving up, he heard the cries of a child and the barks of multiple dogs.

He looked around in confusion until he spotted a boy in humble clothes running away from multiple dogs, who seemed to be fixated on stealing the boy's food. His eyes followed the boy and watched him run straight into a dead end, with the dogs finally catching up to him. He saw the boy cower in fear and acted fast. He whistled loudly as he did with his son's dogs when they were bothering children again. The dogs immediately turned to look at him and when he gave them a stern look, they whimpered and left the boy alone. When they had left, Jiang FengMian slowly went to the boy and kneeled down so he would be able to look into his eyes.

He didn't even feel the need to ask about his parents. The boy looked exactly like his father when he was younger and Jiang FengMian smiled gently at the boy, who just looked at him in confusion.

"Wei Ying?" he still asked, just to be completely sure of the boy's identity.

When the boy nodded hesitantly, the man sighed in relief. Finally, he had found his eldest friend's son and would be able to protect him, to honor Wei Changze.

"My name is Jiang FengMian. I am the Sect Leader of the Yunmeng Jiang sect and I was a friend of your parents." he introduced himself to the boy, whose eyes immediately widened in recognition, his name had been mentioned by his parents before.

The man thought about a good way to approach the young boy, without overwhelming him. But when he came up with nothing, he just sighed and asked the question he had been wanting to ask as soon as he had recognized the features of his friend in the young boy.

"I may not be your father. And my lady may not be your mother. But allow me to take you back to Yunmeng and raise you as my son." he said it with so much determination in his voice that Wei Ying knew that the man would not take no for an answer.

So he silently agreed and took the older's outstretched hand, only to be pulled up and guided through the path with all the familiar people he had gotten to know within the last months. He nodded at all of them as a goodbye and even though he didn't say anything, everyone recognized the thankfulness in his eyes since they had treated him with so much care while he had been there.

It took them a while to arrive in Yunmeng and when they did arrive, Wei Ying was being carried by Jiang FengMian. They were promptly welcomed by multiple Yunmeng Jiang disciples, with some of them getting the other members of the Jiang clan. Madame Yu, Jiang Yanli and Jiang Cheng arrived after a short amount of time and were all surprised by the sight of the small boy standing next to the Jiang Sect Leader. Jiang FengMian gently nudged him, silently telling the boy to introduce himself.

He hesitantly bowed and did just that, "My name is Wei Ying. Son of Cangse Sanren and Wei Changze."

Madame Yu gasped at the revelation of who his parents were and immediately looked at her husband in shock. Madame Yu had been a close friend of Cangse Sanren, just like Jiang FengMian had been to Wei Changze. With the boy not standing in front of her, she suspected that something bad must have happened to their two friends. When Jiang FengMian subtly shook his head in grief, she closed her eyes to process the information, before opening them again and kneeling in front of the small boy.

"My name is Yu Ziyuan. I was a good friend of your mother and I hope that you will learn to put trust in me just like she did a long time ago." she looked at him stoically, but with kind eyes and Wei Ying slowly nodded at her words.

"Jiang Cheng. Yanli. From this day on, Wei Ying will be your brother in everything but blood. You are to treat him as such." Jiang Fengmian told his children, who both nodded at his words, still quiet.

Wei Ying's eyes started to water because they had such shocked expressions. He thought that they didn't want him there and felt guilty for intruding on their lives. Yanli quickly realized this and hurried to get to the boy to reassure him.

"Wei Ying, don't worry, we are looking forward to having you here. I and A-Cheng were simply surprised by how pretty you are," she told him and giggled when she saw the blush on the boy's face.

In the background, she heard her little brother protest and she would bet a fortune on the fact that he was blushing as well.

Wei Ying was given a room to sleep in, close to the Jiang family's rooms so he would be able to come to any of them at any time if he wanted to. When he went out to explore Lotus Pier further, he was surprised by all of the interesting things and people he was surrounded with. His eyes were shining in fascination and he took in everything he could. Until he heard distant barking and immediately froze. He looked behind him in dread and saw three dogs running towards him. He faintly remembers Jiang FengMian telling him that Jiang Cheng owned multiple dogs, but he had forgotten about it again and now it was too late to go back to his room and hide from the beasts. He broke down in tears and sobbed uncontrollably until he heard a whistle similar to Jiang FengMian's earlier. When he looked up, he saw Jiang Cheng whistling for his dogs to return to him. Behind him stood his father who looked conflicted.

Wei Ying tried to stop his tears after he saw the dogs run off in a different direction and then went to join his uncle and brother.

"A-Cheng... Maybe we should send the dogs away for a while," he said hesitantly and Jiang Cheng's eyes widened immediately.

"No! Never! I don't want them to go away!" he screamed in fear of losing his best friends.

"Jiang Cheng. Just look at how scared the poor boy is." he sternly told his son who seemed to get angrier by the minute.

"I don't care if he's scared! If he's scared he should just leave and not come back!" Jiang Cheng screamed again.

While both of them continued arguing about the matter, they didn't notice Wei Ying's eyes watering and his lip wobbling, until he cried out and promptly ran away. They briefly were able to catch a glimpse of his face and both of their hearts' clenched when they saw the pure sadness and guilt in his face. Jiang Cheng felt everything in him screaming at him to go after the boy but the look on his face made him freeze. It felt like he was experiencing the same emotion as the older boy, and he was scared by how much power the boy held over him already, despite not exchanging proper words with him yet. He thought about this for so long, that when he finally stopped thinking about the tears on the older's face, he realized that the boy was probably long gone. He gasped in terror and immediately took off to look for the boy. He faintly heard his father call after him but he simply ignored it, adamant on finding the boy he made incredibly sad with his thoughtless words.

He quickly found out that the boy was faster and more agile than he looked since when he finally found the boy it had already gotten dark. He thought that the boy would be an excellent swordsman one day and his skills would fit perfectly with the Jiang Sect's style, but he decided to think about this after getting the boy to come back home with him. When he found him, the boy sat on a tree that wasn't very high but getting down again, especially in the dark, would probably be a little difficult.

When Wei Ying heard Jiang Cheng, he looked in his direction and both of them looked at each other in silence for a few moments.

"I- I'm sorry." Jiang Cheng said quietly, just loud enough for the older to hear.

"It's okay. Wei Ying understands. It's selfish of him to expect you to send away your precious dogs for him." he mumbled.

"No! I- I mean... I will! I will send them away!" he stumbled over his words and Wei Ying's eyes widened at the end.

"But I thought you said-"

"Forget what I said! I will send them away and from now on I will protect you from dogs and all of the evil things in the world. I give you my word. As your... brother." he interrupted the older one.

For some reason, he hesitated before calling Wei Ying his brother and calling him his brother almost physically hurt him. Wei Ying smiled bashfully, but then his face turned to stone again and he looked away from Jiang Cheng's face, which made him frown.

"What is it? Don't you want to go back home with me?" he sounded heartbroken.

Wei Ying's eyes widened in alarm, "No, I do! It's just... I can't get down from the tree anymore."

He sounded as if he were full of shame, but to Jiang Cheng, he was simply adorable.

"Don't worry, I will catch you." he smiled, so Wei Ying felt brave enough to jump down.

And Jiang Cheng stayed true to his word. Wei Ying landed right on top of Jiang Cheng and started profusely apologizing, but Jiang Cheng just laughed loudly and tackled the older one in a hug that was returned after a little bit of hesitation. After their sweet hug, they stood up and started walking back to their home. There was a calm silence that was only broken when they reached their home and Wei Ying could hear the dogs barking again, so he instantly clung to Jiang Cheng who smiled shyly at the physical contact and then brought the boy to his room safely. When he woke up the next morning, the dogs were long gone and Jiang Cheng didn't even seem one bit sad by it since he very much preferred the relieved smile on Wei Ying's face over the sadness and sorrow he had seen the night before.

Chapter Text

Wei Ying was sad. Miserable even.

Jiang Yanli had already known her spirit animal for a few years now and revealed to them that it was a butterfly, and also that she was a beta. Neither Wei Ying nor Jiang Cheng or their parents had been surprised at this revelation. It made sense for Jiang Yanli to be such a beautiful, gentle and delicate animal as a butterfly. Her brothers had been dejected for a while when she wasn't able to tell them the name of her butterfly, but rules were rules and since she had not yet found her soulmate, she was unable to tell them the butterfly's name.

The next one to have their spirit animal revealed was supposed to be Wei Ying, since he was older than Jiang Cheng. So he waited. For quite a while, since there was no exact time your animal and secondary gender would be revealed. The only known fact is that you are supposed to find out during your tenth year. But the day didn't come. Instead, Jiang Cheng one day woke up in delight and told his family that he had dreamed of the revelation. He was a tortoise and an alpha. To many, a tortoise seemed unfit for the boy with the temper of lightning, but if they had known just which tortoise was his spirit animal, maybe they would've understood earlier. However, that he was an alpha didn't come to anyone's surprise, with his natural instinct to protect others, especially Wei Ying and Jiang Yanli.

At first Wei Ying had been so happy for his best friend, which he refused to call by brother due to reasons he didn't realize at that time. But then it dawned on him that he was supposed to dream of his own revelation before Jiang Cheng and now his tenth year was officially over. Without him knowing his spirit animal or secondary gender. And Wei Ying felt miserable about it. Worthless. Useless. Like his existence was a mistake. He also felt a little bit of envy, since his younger friend knew his identity before he did, but he threw away that thought immediately.

And his family noticed the way his mood dropped from his usual joy to an uncharacteristic sorrow. Which made them have a discussion, without Wei Ying. They then called their adopted family member to them.

"Wei Ying." Jiang Fengmian smiled at the confused boy.

"Uncle?" he also voiced his confusion.

"We discussed an important matter. We noticed your sadness about the fact that you are not aware of your secondary gender and spirit animal yet. But don't worry. It's not that you don't own one, we can feel your spirit animal's presence in you and you also have a faint scent, so you do have a secondary gender and spirit animal. For some reason, it has just not been revealed to you yet. But don't give up hope, at some point you will know who you truly are." Jiang Fengmian smiled reassuringly.

Wei Ying was still confused but nodded nonetheless.

"But that is not all. While we can't do anything to exhilarate the process of your revelations, we can help you find your true identity another way. We have decided to give you your courtesy name now, even though you didn't reach the right age yet." Yu Ziyuan said with the softest voice she could produce.

Wei Ying's eyes widened in shock and then he started smiling in excitement.

"What is it?" he asked and started fidgeting with his fingers.

His adoptive parents smiled and nodded at the Jiang siblings, who grinned at each other and then at Wei Ying.

"Wuxian. Wei Wuxian." Jiang Cheng was the first one Wei Wuxian ever heard his name from, and he couldn't help but love the way the name rolled off the younger's tongue and almost wanted to ask him to say it again, and again.

"It means to live without envy." Jiang Yanli added in a gentle tone and Wei Ying started grinning.

"Wei Wuxian. Wei Wuxian. Wei Wuxian." he said over and over, giggling in delight, which in turn made his family laugh in fondness.

Jiang Cheng couldn't hold himself back any longer and embraced the older in a tight hug. Wei Ying was surprised for a moment before he chuckled and returned his best friend's hug. Wei Ying was still sad about not knowing his true identity, but he swallowed it down and found comfort in the presence of his family and in his new name. He couldn't help but think how nice it would've been if his parents had given him a name or at least heard it.

Three years later, Wei Ying was now 14 years old, he still thought about his unknown spirit animal and secondary gender often. He now knew what his uncle had meant when he said they were able to feel the spirit animal in him because he too started to feel it. While he wasn't able to talk with it as freely as others, he could feel it protecting him, warming him, laughing at his ridiculous antics and crying with him when he was sad. Wei Ying now realized that his spirit animal was just as upset as him about not being able to communicate. This gave Wei Ying comfort. For a while, he had thought that his spirit animal was the one preventing them from communicating since it didn't like him, but knowing that this wasn't the case had calmed his psyche a lot.

After countless talks with people who specialized in secondary genders and spirit animals as well as people who had known his late parents, he had somehow gathered information that shortly after his birth, his parents had hurriedly left for a place called Yueyang. Nobody knew why they left or what they did there, but it had been suspiciously sudden. Since many of the residents of Yunmeng also knew about his yet to be revealed identity, they told him that maybe it had something to do with whatever his parents did back in Yueyang. So Wei Ying decided to follow the footsteps of Cangse Sanren and Wei Changze and go to Yueyang, trying to find an explanation. When he explained his intention to his adoptive family, they were very reluctant to let him go. Especially when he told them he wanted to go alone.

"Absolutely not!" Jiang Cheng exclaimed immediately.

"Jiang Cheng-" Wei Ying tried to appease his best friend.

"No Wei Ying! It's too dangerous to go alone! You don't even know what or who you're looking for!" he scolded the older one.

"Maybe we should let him go." Jiang Yanli suddenly stated, which caused the rest of her family to look at her in disbelief.

"We all know how much it takes a toll on him that he doesn't know who he is. A-Xian has never been truly happy since he realized he wouldn't get the revelation dream any time soon. So if this is what it takes for the real A-Xian to come back to us, maybe we should let him go." she reasoned gently.

And it made sense. It made so much sense to all of them that it was basically impossible not to let the second-youngest member of the family go. They were still reluctant, especially Jiang Cheng, but they eventually gave in and allowed the boy to go, as long as he promised to take Suibian and take care of himself.

After Wei Ying finally arrived in Yueyang, it took him a while to figure out how to start his mission. Many people passing by noticed him standing around, looking just as lost as he felt. Some looked at him in pity, others in annoyance since he blocked the path. But no one made the effort to talk to him and ask why he was there. Wei Ying tried to reach out to some of the people, but everyone just ignored him, which made him pout at the rudeness of the people. He just wanted to ask them something, why did they have to be so rude?

But then an elderly couple came to stand in front of him and then kneeled down. They took in his features and looked at each other for a moment, before turning to the boy again.

"We're sorry to surprise you like this." the woman smiled gently and Wei Ying smiled back lightly.

"But we couldn't help but notice your similarities to old friends we haven't seen for quite some years now." the man continued, which made Wei Ying's eyes widen.

Could this couple have known his late parents? Would they be able to help him find out the truth?

"Are you the son of Wei Changze and Changse Sanren?" the woman then asked, which made Wei Ying nod and smile in relief.

"You knew my parents?" he grinned brightly.

"Of course! We met them when you were just a few weeks old. They asked us for help in finding Lián Fú."

"Who is Lián Fú?" Wei Ying asked in confusion, he had never heard that name before.

"Lián Fú is a forgotten immortal and while she was still mortal, she was said to be a lover of Baoshan Sanren. While she left Baoshan Sanren's mountain, she still frequently visits her supposed lover and she is the only one able to contact her at any time."

Wei Ying knew who Baoshan Sanren was. She was a teacher and a friend to his mother, so this means Lián Fú had to have been close with his mother as well.

"What did my parents want from her?" he inquired curiously.

The more he found out about his parents' stay in Yueyang, the more questions he had.

"We don't know for sure, but Lián Fú was known for being able to foresee the future and to slightly alter things. We always suspected that they wanted to know your fortune, but we never saw them again after, so we don't know what they found out." the man smiled in apology.

Wei Ying nodded slightly in acceptance.

"Then... is this Lián Fú still around?" he sounded very hopeful.

"She lived near a river, very close to here. She usually does not accept visitors, but maybe she will after she finds out who you are."

Wei Ying grinned brightly again, which made the two elders smile at him in return. Who would be able to resist the boy's bright smile?

"Thank you for your help!" he screamed and then ran off in the direction he was pointed to by the couple, who watched him go with a chuckle on their lips.

"He is just like his mother." the woman smiled at her husband.

"And he looks just like his father." the man agreed and took his wife's hand.

"It's a shame that they didn't get to see him grow up." the woman sighed sadly.

Wei Ying was still running, didn't even notice how fast he was going. Until he almost crashed into a boy slightly smaller than him and had to come to an abrupt halt. He slightly panted and slowly took in the scene before him. His eyes widened when he realized the scene he had come across.

A man way older than him and the other boy had just pulled the boy up from the floor and was about to brutally hit him. The boy looked at the older man in fear and then turned to look at Wei Ying in shock, yet Wei Ying also recognized a pleading in his eyes. Yet he also looked like he was already expecting Wei Ying to run away as if he was used to other people looking away and abandoning him. But other people were not Wei Ying. Wei Ying immediately unsheathed Suibian and pointed it at the man, who took a moment to realize what was happening and then started laughing cruelly.

"You think you can take on me, boy?" he laughed, and the other men behind him, that Wei Ying hadn't even realized were there, joined in.

Meanwhile, the boy's eyes widened in shock and surprise and Wei Ying knew that what he was doing was right. It seemed like the boy wasn't used to being protected, so Wei Ying intended to make sure this changed just like Jiang Fengmian had with him years ago.

The man lazily took out his own sword and carelessly tried to hit the other boy or get him to surrender. But he didn't expect Wei Ying to use his carelessness against him and quickly toss the man's sword to the side. With quick movements Wei Ying made the man stumble and made him fall down, afterward pointing Suibian at the man's throat. The laughter of the men died down and they immediately became wary of the boy who was stronger and faster than he looked. The smaller boy's eyes widened yet again.

The men behind the one on the floor proved to be cowards, just like Wei Ying suspected, by looking at each other and then running away. Wei Ying almost laughed since so many men were afraid of one young boy, but he welcomed the cowardice of the men greatly. The man on the ground hurried to get up and ran after his men, screaming at them since they tried to leave him there.

Wei Ying didn't pay them any mind and worriedly rushed to the boy instead. He looked at him and patted him down, trying to see if he was hurt anywhere. He was about to sigh in relief of not finding anything when he saw the boy's missing finger. The sight made him freeze. He almost cried out in shock, but quickly stopped himself.

"I- I- I'm sorry." he said in a small voice.

The boy looked at him in confusion, "What are you sorry for?"

"If only I had been here a few moments earlier. Maybe you wouldn't have... You wouldn't have..." he couldn't even say it, because of the guilt he felt.

"I wouldn't have lost my finger?" the other boy suggested and Wei Ying agreed in silence.

The other boy just sighed, "These men aren't the only ones treating me that way. If not them, someone else would've eventually found a way to hurt me."

Wei Ying was confused, "Why are they doing this? What could you possibly have done to them to deserve this treatment?"

He just earned a scoff, "Nothing. I am merely a boy living on the street and they are convinced that I steal things from the vendors to anger them."

"And do you steal things from the vendors?" Wei Ying asked curiously.

It was silent for a moment.

"Yes, but- But not to anger them! I- I just... I am incredibly hungry! And no one gives me anything! What else was I supposed to do?" he suddenly sobbed.

And Wei Ying understood. If anyone would be able to understand, it was Wei Ying. So he decided to reassure the boy.

"It's okay. I used to live on the street. I know what you're going through. It's hard to survive out here, with no one to properly take care of you." he told the other, who looked at him like he had grown a second head.

"You- You lived on the streets?"

"I did. Until I was taken in by a man who knew my late parents. I then grew up with him and his family instead." he explained.

"How much I would give to have such luck as well."

It was silent again, but this time it was Wei Ying who didn't answer immediately.

"Maybe... Maybe you can? I- I don't think my uncle will be able to take you in. He and his lady are already busy enough with me and their other children as well as the sect. But we are a big sect with many people. Many people who want kids, but are unable to have some due to various reasons. Maybe one of them will want to take you in. My uncle will, of course, check if they are trustworthy first." he suggested hesitantly.

The other boy's eyes widened, at this point, Wei Ying was wondering how they weren't stuck in a permanently widened shape yet.

"You would do that for me? You don't even know me!"

"Maybe I don't know you, but I know your situation and if I got the chance to escape the street life, you should get the chance as well." Wei Ying grinned brightly, and finally, the other boy returned the grin.

"Okay!" he agreed eagerly.

"But before that, what's your name?"

"It's Xue Yang! What about you?" he wanted to know the name of the boy who had saved him.

"It's Wei Ying. Courtesy Wuxian."

They smiled at each other and then started their trip back to Yunmeng. With all the concern over the other boy, Wei Ying completely forgot why he was running in that direction in the first place. He forgot that he was supposed to find Lián Fú and ask her about his parents, his spirit animal and his secondary gender. Damn his bad memory.

When they arrived in Yunmeng and Xue Yang saw all the lakes and purple-robed people, he immediately recognized just what sect his new friend had been adopted into. While he had mentioned being from a big sect, Xue Yang had not thought he literally meant one of the big sects.

Wei Ying noticed him looking around in wonder and laughed while pulling him to where he knew his family would be.

"Uncle Jiang!" he screamed when he recognized the man from afar.

Said man immediately turned in his direction and rushed in their direction after recognizing Wei Ying. Madame Yu, as well as Jiang Cheng and Jiang Yanli, came right after him.

"A-Xian!" Jiang Yanli laughed and embraced the boy, with the others quickly joining the hug.

Xue Yang looked at them with fondness, he was happy that his new friend had found a family who genuinely loved him.

"Did you find answers?" Jiang Fengmian asked the boy after they had ended their hug.

Wei Ying's eyes immediately widened. He had forgotten.

"Oh no... Oh no..." he started whining.

His family looked at each other in confusion.

"I forgot! I can't believe I forgot! Of all the things my dumb brain could forget, it had to be this!" he scolded himself, genuinely sounding upset.

"Wei Ying, you have been wanting answers for such a long time, what would cause you to forget something so important to you?" Madame Yu spoke out what they were all thinking.

"I had a lead on where to go when I found Xue Yang about to be hurt by some men! I helped him escape and then I must've forgotten while talking to him and taking him home with me!"

Xue Yang didn't know what this was about, but he felt guilty for making his only friend forget to do something that was apparently important to him.

Only then, did the Jiangs notice the other boy standing beside their Wei Ying.

"Wei Wuxian. Who is that?" Jiang Cheng said, his voice sounding jealous, which went unnoticed by only Wei Ying himself, even Xue Yang noticed the jealous tone and raised his right eyebrow at it.

"This is Xue Yang. I found him in Yueyang, when some men were about to hurt him even more than they already did. They even- they even- He lost his finger because of them!" he sounded furious.

Jiang Yanli gasped and all of them looked at his hand, to check whether Wei Ying was telling the truth, which he was.

"Oh you poor boy." Jiang Fengmian smiled gently.

Xue Yang looked at Wei Ying helplessly.

"Ah! Right! Uncle! I thought, maybe, you could look for someone who would be open to taking him in until he is of age? And maybe you could even... take him in as a disciple!" Wei Ying shared his suggestion.

The man hummed and looked at the boy again, "I'll see what I can do. Until I find someone, he can sleep in your room."

"No!" Jiang Cheng yelled in shock.

Everyone looked at him. His parents in surprise, his sister with a knowing look, Wei Ying in confusion and Xue Yang with a smirk.

"He- He can sleep in my room! They don't know each other that well yet! He can sleep in my room until then and I will share a room with Yanli! Or... Or Wei Ying!"

His parents then understood what was happening, or at least part of it. They thought it was just Jiang Cheng's inner alpha speaking, which was true, but it wasn't just because of that. It was also because Jiang Cheng had long since recognized Wei Ying as his omega. Only Yanli knew about this and she told him not to tell Wei Ying about his secondary gender, to which he reluctantly agreed. After all, one was supposed to find out one's secondary gender by oneself, just like one's spirit animal.

Jiang Fengmian and Yu Ziyuan looked at each other and then agreed with Jiang Cheng's suggestion, and allowed him to share a room with Wei Ying for the time being. If they noticed the pure joy about this new development, they didn't say anything. They also didn't say anything about the fact that they always caught him snuggling with the older, as soon as the older would fall asleep. Or about the longing and protective look in his eyes while he watched the older sleep. Or even about him waking up extra early so that the older wouldn't suspect anything when he caught the younger protectively hugging and embracing him. But Jiang Cheng didn't mind them knowing. After all, he was not ashamed to call the older his omega. The only reason why he didn't claim him in front of everyone was that the older didn't know his secondary gender yet. And also the fact that he was supposed to not have only Jiang Cheng, but also many other alphas. While Jiang Cheng was jealous, this also made him enjoy and treasure every moment he had with the older one, before he found his other alphas. And somehow it relieved him. He was afraid that he wouldn't be able to protect the older properly, but if there were other alphas helping him protect Wei Ying, the probability of him losing his soulmate was much less likely.

Chapter Text

Another few years had gone by. Xue Yang was taken in by a trusted senior disciple of the Yunmeng Jiang sect and had become a disciple himself, one of their strongest ones even. If Wei Ying weren't around, maybe he would even be the head disciple. Over the years, Wei Ying's unknown secondary gender had proved to be a great disadvantage - to Jiang Cheng and Xue Yang.

They both had become very possessive of the oldest of them and often fought for his attention as if they were little boys fighting for their mother's favor. Wei Ying basked in their attention but was oblivious to what it meant, which frustrated both of them to no end. So when other disciples and commoners in Yunmeng had found out that Wei Ying did not know his secondary gender, all of them had started swarming around the head disciple whenever they had time. Just like Jiang Cheng and Xue Yang, they were desperate to have the silver-eyed boy look at them for only a moment. Alphas were desperate for him to surrender to them, betas wanted him to be their equal and omegas longed for his protection. Many people flirted with him to get what they wanted and he had developed into a flirt himself, much to the dismay of his ever-jealous best friends. Wei Ying was still oblivious.

The three of them, along with Jiang Yanli, would soon be sent to Gusu to study in the Cloud Recesses. To Wei Ying, it sounded like a nightmare. He already got a headache while only thinking of all the rules he would have to follow soon, so he spent his last days in Yunmeng enjoying the alcohol, the flirting, the shouting, the running, the peace and entertainment Yunmeng brought him. Meanwhile, Jiang Cheng and Xue Yang, who were now known to the world as Jiang Wanyin and Xue Chengmei, were secretly glad about their future stay at the Cloud Recesses. It meant that Wei Ying wouldn't be able to flirt with anyone anymore, which saved them lots of energy and jealousy.

And while Wei Ying's protectors usually didn't get along, they agreed that a whiny and pouty Wei Ying was an adorable Wei Ying.

"It's horrible! No alcohol! And most people there will probably bore me to death! No one there to entertain me!" he whined, something he did often since uncle Jiang told them about going to Gusu.

"I am deeply hurt, Wei Ying. I will be there with you, after all!" Xue Yang copied the pout on Wei Ying's face.

"Ah, of course! How could I forget that my precious friend will be there to keep me company." Wei Ying smiled in mischief.

"Just come to me when the boring Lans annoy you with all their rules. We could always just have some fun." he smirked and even a blind man would be attracted to the boy at that moment.

Yet Wei Ying stayed oblivious.

"Oh I'm sure we could have a lot of fun if we wanted to." he grinned back in delight.

"Stop this- this disgusting talk right now or I will break both of your legs!" he almost shook in anger.

Wei Ying and Xue Yang just laughed, especially Xue Yang. He found it very entertaining how easy it was to rile up the youngest Jiang. But he was also secretly sad. He knew he would never have a chance with Wei Ying, for he was Jiang Cheng's omega. How he knew? By the pining and longing looks Jiang Cheng threw in Wei Ying's direction whenever he thought no one was looking. Xue Yang had noticed them back when Wei Ying first brought him to Lotus Pier and he noticed them every day after that. It was not just the pining look of a puppy love, it was the pining look one would throw at one's soulmate. But this was okay with Xue Yang. He knew that one day, he would find his very own soulmate and he would love and cherish and protect them, just like Jiang Cheng did with Wei Ying.

"Don't be like that ChengCheng! We're just playing around." the oldest of the three laughed in delight and patted the Jiang heir's head.

His hand was quickly swatted away, "You-"

"Boys! Come now! We will start our journey to Gusu soon!" they heard the voice of Jiang Yanli and immediately went to her.

None of them dared not to follow her every word, because even though she was a gentle soul, she was a force to be reckoned with when impatient or angered. In moments like those, she looked like the spitting image of her mother.

After they had said goodbye to both Jiang Fengmian and Yu Ziyuan, they started their long journey to Gusu, with both nervosity and excitement running through their veins.

They had been in Gusu for a day already and were now waiting for their first lesson to start. Many of the other sect heirs and disciples had arrived before them. And everyone knew who they were. Well, they knew who Jiang Cheng and Wei Ying were. They, of course, knew the future leader of the Yunmeng Jiang sect and said sect's head disciple but they were also quite infamous for other reasons. Wei Wuxian because of his undeniable handsome and beautiful looks that could capture the attention of both men and women, cultivators and non-cultivators, villains and heroes. Everyone wanted to see his exquisite looks and the heirs and disciples felt themselves to be more than lucky to have the honor to see the said boy, who some people would even kill for to see once for themselves. Jiang Wanyin however, was best known for his protectiveness over said beauty and for the fact that he would kill everyone who just looked at him the wrong way. Many people thought this behavior was too much for a younger brother but nobody dared to speak out about it or question it.

Jiang Yanli was also recognized by many, of course, she was the eldest Jiang sibling after all. And though she was not nearly as known as her brothers, people still felt the calming and gentle aura around her. But no one knew who the third boy on their side was. He wore darker colors than Jiang Yanli and Jiang Wanyin, and his clothing looked more similar to those of Wei Wuxian instead.

But they couldn't focus on the mysterious boy for a second longer, when the beautiful laughter of Wei Wuxian could be seen and heard clearly, right in front of them. They couldn't believe their luck and were secretly smug at being able to see it while so many others would never be able to enjoy his timeless beauty.

After simply admiring the boy for a while, they finally dared to start conversations with him and quickly realized that he was not only ethereal on the outside, but he also had a golden personality. Many of them decided right then that they would be honored at just being able to be called his friend.

"I bet Lotus Pier is much more fun than here, right?" one of the disciples said from the back.

"Well, there's definitely fewer rules than here and no need to wake up so early." he chuckled, unknowingly charming everyone around him even more.

Jiang Cheng scoffed, but everyone could hear the fondness in his voice, "Normal people also get up quite early. However, nobody can wake you so it's no wonder you see it that way."

"A-Cheng. Our Wei Ying spends his night inventing new useful things, so you have to excuse him sleeping long during the day." Jiang Yanli smiled gently.

"Exactly!" Wei Ying pouted petulantly, which made everyone swoon over him.

Jiang Cheng and Xue Yang finally noticed the effect he had on everyone else, and they were furious. How dare these people to look at him? He was not theirs to desire. Yet Xue Yang silently reprimanded himself, for Wei Ying was not his to desire either. He was Jiang Cheng's soulmate. And Xue Yang would hate himself if he did anything to destroy the soulmate bond they could have together, just because of naive puppy love.

While the others still openly admired and gaped at the loveliness of Yunmeng Jiang's head disciple, new people arrived and tried to see what all the excitement was about. Said people were the disciples of the Lanling Jin sect as well as the disciples of the Qinghe Nie sect. Now, Wei Wuxian was faintly familiar with one of the Lanling Jin sect disciples. Jin Rong, courtesy Zixuan, sole legitimate son of Jin Guangshan and heir to the Lanling Jin sect. He had to be since he was engaged to Jiang Yanli. Wei Wuxian saw recognition in the heir's eyes and also something else he was unable to decipher. Before the Jiang disciples could greet them, they heard the voice of a Nie disciple call out to them.

"You must be Wei Wuxian! The rumors were true, you are blessed with heavenly beauty." the boy said and smiled at them.

Wei Ying's eyes widened in surprise before he grinned at the boy, "Nie Huaisang, I suppose? Brother of Nie Mingjue?"

"Correct", the other laughed brightly, "after my countless times of studying at the Cloud Recesses, I finally have the honor of meeting you. Maybe continuously failing my studies was worth it after all."

Wei Ying chuckled, "You have studied here often then? Do you have any information that could be useless to us newcomers?"

"Of course! Wei-xiong, listen to a sincere advice of mine. The Cloud Recesses is nothing like Lotus Pier. On this trip to Gusu, remember that there's one person whom you shouldn't provoke."

"Who? Lan Qiren? Aww, but I was already looking forward to cutting off his goatee. My mother once did when she used to study at Gusu and I had hoped to follow in her footsteps of giving the old man a run for his money." the boy pouted, making everyone else stare at him with sparkling eyes.

"Not that old man. The one you need to be careful of is his proudest disciple, named Lan Zhan."

"The Lan Zhan from the Two Jades of Gusu Lan? Lan Wangji?"

"Exactly. Oh gosh, he's the same age as you and I, but he has none of the energy of a teen. He's stiff and strict, even worse than his uncle."

"Mmm... Is he pretty? Wearing white from top to bottom, wearing a forehead ribbon, carrying a silver sword on his back? Does he look rather handsome but has a straight face that looks like he is in mourning instead?" everyone was quiet for a moment, at the detailed description that fit the Second Jade perfectly.

"Yes, that's him. But... he has been doing secluded meditation for the past few days. You just came yesterday, when did you have the chance to see him?" Nie Huaisang inquired.

"Yesterday night." he smiled in mischief.

"You- You what? There's a curfew in Cloud Recesses. Where did you see him? Why don't I know about this?" Jiang Cheng sounded stressed.

Wei Wuxian simply pointed to the top of a very tall wall.

Xue Yang smirked slightly, "We just came and you already got into trouble, impressive. I couldn't have done better myself."

"Ah, don't flatter me A-Yang. I didn't do much. When we came, we passed that liquor shop called "Emperor's Smile", right? Yesterday at night, I was tossing and turning, and couldn't stand it any longer, so I went down the mountain, into the city, and brought three jars. Mind you, we don't have the chance to drink this in Yunmeng."

"Then, where's the liquor?" Jiang Cheng asked in exasperation.

"Well, when I just flipped over the top of the wall, before I even had one leg inside, I was caught by him. I just wanted to go inside, but he didn't let me at first."

"What did you do to make him let you in?" Xue Yang was curious.

Wei Ying thought back, looked confused for a second while scratching his head and then shrugged his shoulders.

"I didn't do anything. He just came closer to me, looked like he was about to scold me or even fight me but he suddenly stopped, looked at me with a weird look and then left."

"Ha! Even the Second Jade of Gusu Lan can't resist your divine beauty!" one of the Jin disciples exclaimed, making Jin Zixuan look at him with a glare that no one quite understood.

"I don't know... Maybe he thought you would be unreasonable and decided to simply punish you today instead." Jiang Cheng sounded worried.

"Ah, ChengCheng, what's there to be scared of? Didn't everyone say that Lan Zhan had been a prodigy since he was very young? If he's so smart from such an early age, then he probably finished learning everything his uncle taught him and dies secluded meditation all the time. How would he have time to come after me? I-" he stopped himself when they walked around a wall with a hollowed-out window and spotted a familiar white-clothed boy sitting in a rigidly upright position in the room, with long hair tied up and wearing a forehead ribbon, emitting an aura of ice and frost. He looked at them coldly.

"Well, guess he's after you after all." Nie Huaisang said nervously and followed after the others, who quickly tried to get seats as far away from the Second Jade as possible.

Wei Ying however boldly sat next to him and was about to start a conversation, when Lan Qiren entered the room. Everyone was immediately silent, even Wei Ying tried not to make a bad first impression. Lan Qiren immediately started the lesson by rolling out a long scroll of paper that seemed to contain all of the Gusu Lan sect rules. Wei Ying's guess was confirmed when the man started listing them all, one by one. Everyone quickly grew bored with them, especially Wei Ying. He started to let his eyes wander and noticed the way the Second Jade of Gusu Lan seemed to listen attentively, even though he probably knew all of the rules by heart already. It made him wonder how anyone could listen to something with so much concentration, even though it was so boring.

As though the elder had noticed the exact moment Wei Ying stopped paying attention, he slammed the scroll onto the ground and smiled bitterly, "I am only repeating this one by one because nobody reads it, even though it was carved into the rock wall. Hence, nobody will be able to violate them using ignorance as an excuse again. Even if I do this, there are still people who do not pay attention. Very well, I would proceed to talk about something else."

Although his words could be applied to everyone in the room, besides Lan Wangji, Wei Wuxian's intuition told him that it was a warning directed at him. As he expected, Lan Qiren spoke "Wei Ying."

"Here." he answered briefly.

"Let me ask you. Are yao, demons, ghosts and monsters the same things?"


"Who not? How are they differentiated?"

"Yao are formed from living non-human beings, demons are formed from living humans, ghosts are formed from dead humans, monsters are formed from dead non-human beings."

"Yao and monsters are often confused. What is an example that distinguishes the two?"

Wei Wuxian pointed at the viridian tree outside of the room and used it as an example in his reply, "For example, a living tree was tainted with the energy of books, cultivated into a conscious being and causes mischief, it would be a yao. If I took an axe and cut it in the middle, so that only a dead tree stump was left, and then it cultivated into a being, it would be a monster."

"What was the profession of the founder of the Qinghe Nie sect?"

"A butcher."

"The heraldry of the LanlingJin sect is a white peony. Which type of white peony is it?"

"Sparks Amidst Snow."

Some people noticed Jin Zixuan blushing slightly, and while some realized it was because the Jiang sect's head disciple knew what flower was the Jin sect's heraldry, they still didn't quite understand why.

"Who was the first in the cultivation world to focus on the rise of his clan rather than his sect?"

"The founder of the Qishan Wen sect, Wen Mao."

No one had expected the boy to know so much, for everyone thought he just had a pretty face. He had just proven them to be wrong by revealing he had just as much intelligence as he had handsome features.

"Let me ask another question. There is an executioner with parents, a wife, and children, but before he died, he executed more than one hundred people. He suddenly died in the public and, to punish him for his deeds, he was left on the street for seven days. With the repressed energy of resentment, he started to haunt and kill. What should be done?"

Wei Ying knew what the man wanted to hear. But he also knew that it did not match his own opinion on what to do. He quickly decided to speak aloud all of the options that came to mind.

"Normally, you would start with liberating. Then suppressing. Then eliminating. At first, one has to utilize the gratitude of his relatives and grant his dying wish, set free what he could not let go of. If it fails, suppress it. If the crimes were extremely wrongful, and its resentful energy does not dissipate, exterminate it completely."

It was silent for a moment before he spoke again.

"However... I believe there is a fourth path to take if say, his dying wish is to kill lots of people for revenge. Because simply suppressing or eliminating would be a waste."

"Which path are you speaking of?" Lan Qiren seemed to get angrier by the second.

"Because the executioner died in such a way, it is only natural that he turned into a fierce corpse. Since he executed more than one hundred people before he died, why not dig up the graves of these people, arouse their energy of resentment, collect the heads of those hundred people and use them to fight with the fierce corpse."

Most cultivators stayed silent. They had never heard about such a thing before. But it sounded dangerous. Jiang Cheng and Xue Yang shared a concerned look and hoped that the object of their desire would never have to take such a path. With them, Jin Zixuan silently hoped for the same thing, though he was quite impressed with the younger one's creativity. There was also another one who hoped the unknown Young Master would never have to do something so dangerous, even though he didn't even know who the boy with the silver eyes was. And Lan Wangji just stared at Wei Ying. If Lan Zichen had been there, he easily would've recognized the worry in his younger brother's look.

Lan Qiren shouted at him in anger, "How dare you! The essence of exorcising demons and annihilating ghosts is to liberate! You do not study the methods of liberation and even think about increasing their energy of resentment! You reverse the natural order and ignore ethics and morality!"

"There are some things that have no use after liberation, so why not find a way to make use of them? When Yu the Great tamed the flood, obstruction was inferior to method and redirection was superior. Suppression is the same as obstruction, so isn't it inferior..." Lan Qiren threw a book at him, which he managed to avoid while continuing to speak, "Spiritual energy is energy and resentful energy is energy as well. Spiritual energy can split mountains and fill oceans, it's available for human use. If so, then why can't resentful energy also be used by humans?"

Just when Lan Qiren was about to throw yet another book at the boy, an unexpected voice stopped him.

"Uncle. Stop being violent. Wei Wuxian is merely making assumptions about things that could or could not be possible. Your job as a teacher is to tell him why it is wrong for him to think about such things, not to simply stop him from speaking his thoughts aloud, which could lead to him continuing to think about it, wondering what could've been. You seem to be quite lacking today." Lan Wangji sounded stern and some people had to hold back their laughter at the look Lan Qiren had on his face at being reprimanded by his own nephew.

Wei Ying's eyes widened in surprise. He had expected to have another book be thrown at him and eventually being kicked out of the lesson. Maybe he had even expected Jiang Cheng or Xue Yang to speak out and defend him. But he had not expected the Second Jade of Gusu Lan to defy his uncle for him, even though they had such an unpleasant first meeting.

Lan Qiren growled in anger and rushed out of the room, and everyone understood that today's lesson was over.

"Ah, thank you Second Young Master Lan." he bowed in thanks at the boy next to him.

"Copy the Gusu Lan sect rules 300 times. I will oversee your punishment every day until you are finished," he said and stood up without looking at the younger boy.

"Eh? What am I being punished for?" he pouted and Lan Wangji halted for a moment, the same weird look in his eyes as the night before.

"Causing my uncle's early qi deviation."

Everyone watched him leave and then burst out in laughter at his words. It almost sounded like a joke but they knew that the Second Jade of Lan didn't joke, so he was probably telling the truth.

Lan Wangji stayed true to his word and made Wei Ying come to the Library Pavilion with him every day, so he himself would be able to check if the younger really did copy the rules 300 times. What Wei Ying didn't realize, that whenever he was actually working on the rules, Lan Wangji would spend his time staring at him with the same weird look he had already recognized multiple times. And after a few days, Lan Xichen finally noticed the look on his brother's face and he immediately understood.

"Is he-"


Lan Xichen breathed out and patted his brother's shoulder.

Wangji knew that the younger was his omega. He also knew that he couldn't be too possessive of him since he was supposed to share him with other omegas as well. But he couldn't help it. He wanted to have the omega for himself. He was drawn in by him. By his beauty. His bright laughter. His silver eyes. And especially with the way he acted. He acted nothing like a traditional omega. He was loud, confident and proud. Everything an omega was not.

But for some reason, Wei Wuxian had not recognized him as his alpha. He thought that maybe it related to the fact that he had not yet met all of his alphas but in the end, he had no clue about the actual reason. He knew just as much as Wei Ying himself did.

The only thing he could do, for now, was spend as much time with Wei Ying as he could. But he was too embarrassed to outright ask him to spend time with him, so he took to punishing Wei Ying for the most ridiculous things.

It had become a regular thing for them to spent their afternoons in the Library Pavilion together. They knew each other fairly well now and had grown to greatly enjoy each other's company.

"Second Young Master Lan?" Wei Ying said one day after he finished copying another set of rules.

And something about that name frustrated Lan Wangji. He wasn't sure what, so he thought about it for a moment and seemed to be lost in thought. So Wei Wuxian tried to get his attention again.

"Second Young Master Lan!"

And then something in Lan Wangji snapped, "Lan Zhan."

Wei Ying was stunned for a moment, "What?"

"Lan Zhan."

"Ah, you want me to call you Lan Zhan?" he smiled brightly.

"Mn." the older one agreed and looked softly at the other's smile, even though Wei Ying was unable to realize it.

"Then, you can call me Wei Ying!" he giggled, which almost gave Lan Zhan a heart attack at the beauty of it.

Lan Zhan then continued staring at him, silently asking why the boy had called him earlier. It took a moment for Wei Ying to realize this.

"Ah, right! Here! I drew this for you!" Wei Ying grinned and handed him a drawing he had spent quite a while on.

Lan Zhan took it and let his eyes wander over it. When he realized that it was a beautiful drawing of himself, his ears went completely red, which went unnoticed by Wei Ying.

"Do you like it?" he asked eagerly.


Wei Ying then started grinning even wider and he continued copying Righteousness.

The next day he was woken up by an excited Nie Huaisang.

"Wei-xiong! The old man went to our sect's discussion conference last night, so we don't have classes for a few days!"

"I must be in luck today! Then, let's hunt for some pheasants, I refuse to believe that there is not a single one of them in Cloud Recesses!" he said in determination and mischief while leaving their room.

The four of them, including Jiang Cheng and Xue Yang, walked together, passing through the reception room of the Cloud Recesses where they could spot a few other people as well, namely a few Jin sect disciples, two people who surprisingly wore Wen robes, a few Nie disciples and two men clad in the Lan sect's signature white clothes and faces that looked like they were carved out of ice and jade. The only difference between them were their facial expressions. The one wearing a stern face was none other than Lan Wangji, who Wei Ying now knew did not always wear that cold expression on his face. Which means the other one was the First Jade of the Gusu Lan sect, Lan Wangji's brother, Lan Xichen.

When the two of them spotted the quartet, Wangji looked at Wei Ying with that weird look again. Wei Ying was still confused as to what it meant. Wangji then seemed to notice that he was staring too and quickly averted his gaze elsewhere.

"And you are...?" Wei Ying then shifted his attention to the older Jade instead.

"Jiang Wanyin of Yunmeng." Jiang Cheng showed his respect with a salute.

Wei Ying quickly followed, "Wei Wuxian of Yunmeng."

Nie Huaisang was already familiar with the First Jade, "Brother Xichen."

Lan Xichen turned to him, "Huaisang, a while ago, as I returned from Qinghe, your brother asked of your studies. How is it? This year, will you be able to pass?"

Nie Huaisang replied, "Generally speaking, yes..."

When Wei Ying noticed the panic in his eyes, he decided to help his friend, "Zewu-Jun, what are you two going out for?"

"To exterminate a water ghoul. We were short of hands, so I came back to find Wangji and some other people. A few of the Jin disciples, including Jin Zixuan, offered to help."

"It is time for us to depart." Wangji then told his brother and the Jin disciples.

"Wait, wait, wait. I know how to catch water ghouls, Zewu-Jun! Why don't you take us along?" he hurried to say.

At that, the eyes of many people widened at the same time.

"Absolutely not!" Jiang Cheng told him sternly.

"Why?" he pouted, which made many people around him swoon, "We used to catch water ghouls all the time in Yunmeng. Besides, we don't have classes these days anyways."

"It is not necessary. The Gusu Lan sect is also-" Wangji started but was quickly interrupted by his brother.

"Sure, then. Many thanks for your help. Do some preparations and we can depart together. Huaisang, are you coming as well?"

As much as he wanted to join in, he decided against it in order to review the lessons for a while.

Meanwhile, a group of people was exhausted already because they thought they would have to protect their omega. Said people, of course, being Lan Wangji and Jin Zixuan. While Jiang Cheng and Xue Yang were also worried, they knew that the younger was more capable than he seemed.

On the way to their destination, Wei Ying had made it his goal to chit-chat as much as possible with all the disciples. The Jin sect disciples were at first blushing and gawking at his beauty but quickly changed their attitude to arrogance and false confidence instead, hoping to appease the Wei boy, but it did the opposite and he quickly grew bored of them. Except maybe Jin Zixuan since he always stuttered when Wei Ying talked to him, which he found to be quite cute, but he didn't let it show since Jin Zixuan was betrothed to his shijie after all. The two Jades were focused on their own silent conversation, so he decided not to bother them. Now the Wens, however, were a whole different story. While the girl, the older one, didn't talk much and seemed very strict and cold, she still had an undescribable warmth about her that Wei Ying could not explain but embraced like the warmth of his own sister. And the boy, the younger one, was just adorable in Wei Ying's eyes. He stuttered, blushed and stared at him, which made Wei Ying giggle in delight. His giggle in return made everyone else smile in peace.

The place where the water ghouls haunted was named Caiyi town, about ten kilometers away from the Cloud Recesses. They were welcomed by the faint voices of people seemingly arguing after their boats crashed into each other, but Wei Ying was stunned that their voices were still as soft and gentle as one would expect from a resident of Gusu.

"Gusu people talk in such a sugary way. How is this arguing? If they see how Yunmeng people argue, they might be scared to death." he chuckled and Xue Yang quickly agreed with him.

The group then boarded a few narrow boats, and rowed towards where the water ghouls gathered. Gradually, the river path became quieter. Wei Ying and Jiang Cheng each had a boat, competing who could row faster while listening to events in the area that concerned water ghouls. In the lake they arrived at, called Biling lake, they spotted a few corpses. Some of them were not even familiar to any of the local people and remained unclaimed.

Wei Ying found this rather odd, "It doesn't seem like that the corpses drowned somewhere else and floated here either. Water ghouls are picky about their area. Most of the time, the only place they settle on is the place they drowned at, and they usually don't leave there."

Lan Xichen nodded, "That is correct. This was why I thought that it was no trivial matter and asked Wangji and the Jin disciples to come along, in case something happens."

"Zewu-Jun, water ghouls are really clever. If we use the boats and take our time like this, isn't it possible that they'll hide underwater and not come out? Won't we have to keep on searching forever? What if we can't find them?"

Lan Wangji replied instead of his brother, "We will wait until we find them. After all, we do what we must."

"Just by using nets?"

"That is right. Does the Yunmeng Jiang sect have other methods?" the older Jade inquired.

"Don't even think about jumping in and dragging the water ghouls out again. This may have worked in Yunmeng where we knew the lakes and what we were dealing with, but if you even think about doing it here in Gusu, I will break both of your legs." Jiang Cheng immediately growled at his brother.

Others were thankful, they didn't know what they would've done if their object of desire had jumped in without protection.

Wei Ying then switched to another topic, "It'd be great if there was something that can attract the water ghouls like fishing bait. Or something that can point out their directions, like a compass."

His thought process surprised and impressed the other people.

"Look down at the water and concentrate on finding them. You're letting your imagination run again." Xue Yang told him.

While he usually indulged the older's every whim, he found this moment to be critical and didn't want anything to happen to Wei Ying because he didn't pay attention.

So Wei Ying did what he was told, he looked at the water and tried to find the water ghouls. As he looked down, he happened to be able to see the bottom of the boat which Lan Wangji was on.

He acted quickly, "Lan Zhan, look at me!"

Lan Zhan did what he was told and looked up at Wei Ying, only to see his bamboo paddle sweep up a splash of water and strike it towards him. With a tap of his foot, Lan Wangji lightly hopped onto another boat, dodging the spray. He didn't know what was happening until Wei Wuxian kicked the side of the boat he was standing on and tipped it over using the bamboo paddle. On the bottom of the boat, there were three water ghouls with swelling faces and ashen skin, tightly clinging onto the wooden boards.

One of the Nie disciples standing nearby immediately suppressed the three.

Lan Xichen smiled and asked how he had known that they were below the boats.

"Simple! The displacement of water was wrong. Lan Zhan was the only person who stood on the boat, yet the displacement was greater than those of boats that carried two people. There must have been something on the bottom."

Everyone started respecting him even more for his knowledge and experience.

"As expected of my Wei Ying." Xue Yang smirked which made Wei Ying laugh brightly.

"Stop joking around you two!" Jiang Cheng interrupted what would've surely turned into flirting if he had not stopped them.

Wei Ying then glided through the water, so that he was right next to Lan Wangji's boat.

"Lan Zhan, why do you look so gloomy?" Wei Ying pouted.

But the older would never admit that he was jealous of his interaction with Xue Yang, so he remained silent.

Just when Wei Ying was about to say something again, a Jin disciple shouted, "The net moved!"

Sure enough, the ropes of the net started to wobble and everyone realized that the water ghouls were here. Thick, long hair formed veils of black satin, surging and swelling around the boats. Amidst them, pairs of hands gripped onto the sides. Lan Wangji backhandedly drew Bichen and severed a few wrists on the left of the boat, leaving only palms with fingers digging deep into the wood. As he was about to ut the ones on the right, a red light flashed past and Wei Wuxian's sword was already back in its sheath.

The strange shifts of the water had ceased and the net also became still once more. Although a few moments ago, Wei Wuxian's sword attacked at an extremely fast speed, Lan Wangji could already tell that the sword he carried was of very high quality, so he inquired for its name.


Everyone turned to him in disbelief, except Jiang Cheng and Xue Yang who of course already knew the sword's name and the story behind it.

"Ah, I can see in all of your faces that you want to know why it's called that way. Everyone does. Actually, there's no special meaning at all. It was just that when Uncle Jiang gave me the sword and asked me what I wanted to call it, I came up with more than twenty names but wasn't satisfied with any of them. I thought that I could let Uncle Jiang give it a name, so I answered 'Whatever'. But who knew that after the sword had been forged and taken out, these two characters were on it."

Nobody dared say anything about this. If it had been anyone else, they would've laughed at them and thought it was ridiculous. But it was so very Wei Wuxian that they could only smile in hidden fondness and stay silent about the odd name choice.

Then, Wei Ying spotted something besides Lan Zhan's boat and quickly warned him, "Lan Zhan, besides your boat!"

Instantly, Bichen unsheathed and stabbed into the water. After a moment, it flew out of the river with a sharp resonance, taking with it a crescent of water. Yet it didn't pierce anything. He held the sword in his hand with a stern expression. As he was about to speak, a disciple on the other side also drew out his sword, thrusting it towards a dark shadow that swiftly swam in the water. However, after his sword went underwater, it never came out again. He kept trying, but nothing was retrieved from the water. It was as if his sword had been devoured by the lake, disappearing without a trace. The disciple looked like he was a youth of similar age as Wei Wuxian and the others and judging from the way he wielded his sword, was a disciple of Qinghe Nie. Without his sword, his face grew paler and paler.

An older disciple beside him spoke, "Meng Yao, right now, we still haven't determined what the thing inside the water is. Why did you act on your own and make your sword go underwater?"

The boy who was apparently called Meng Yao seemed flustered and tried to get out an answer but he was ultimately interrupted by Lan Wangji, "Go back immediately."

Everyone tried to see what he had seen, but they only noticed that the Biling Lake had turned an extremely dark shade of green.

"What is it?" Lan Xichen asked him.

"The underwater beings led the boats to the center of Biling Lake on purpose." as soon as he finished those words, everyone suddenly felt their boats sinking.

Water started to spread into the boats and surrounding the area close to the center, a large whirlpool had formed without anybody realizing it. The boats circled around, following the currents and they kept sinking as if they were going to be sucked into a gigantic black mouth.

One after another, everyone mounted their swords and flew upward. Wei Wuxian already hovered above. He looked downward, only to see that the Nie disciple who drove his sword into the water was already knee-deep in the water, the board of his boat already engulfed in Biling Lake. Although his face was full of panic, he didn't call for help. Without hesitation, Wei Wuxian bent down and stretched his arm out, grabbing Meng Yao's wrist and pulling him up.

Having added another person, the sword under his feet abruptly, but it continued to ascend. However, not long after, a strong force suddenly came from Meng Yao, almost pulling Wei Wuxian off of his sword, which made many of the other people scream in horror. The lower part of Meng Yao was already submerged inside the black whirlpool in the lake. The whirlpool spun faster and faster, and his body also sunk deeper and deeper. There seemed to be something hiding underwater, holding onto his legs and pulling them down. Many of the others were screaming for him to hurry, but the sucking force of the lake became stronger and stronger. Wei Wuxian's sword was superior in terms of agility but inferior in terms of strength. He was almost weighed down to the point of hovering right above the surface of the lake. He steadied himself while using both hands to hold Meng Yao, but it was getting harder to hold on to him. Yet he refused to let go. Just when he felt like both of them would be pulled into Biling Lake, he felt multiple hands pulling him back. He turned around to see Xue Yang and Lan Xichen.

They pulled both of them out. Xue Yang immediately took Wei Ying and carried him while Lan Xichen let Meng Yao stand behind him on his sword. Xue Yan grinned mischievously when he noticed the annoyed looks on Jiang Cheng, Jin Zixuan and Lan Wangji of not being next to Wei Ying first. If he had looked more closely, he would've even been able to spot the pouty look on the Wen boy's face.

The group traveled on their swords and evacuated Biling Lake as fast as they could. When they landed, Xue Yang was still holding onto Wei Ying and didn't even stop when Jiang Cheng openly glared at him. It had the opposite effect and Xue Yang started holding Wei Ying's hand, which annoyed the same people as before even more. They grew even more agitated when they saw the soft smile on their omega's face.

"It's a Waterborne Abyss." Lan Wangji distracted himself.

Lan Xichen shook his head, "Then, this is going to be difficult."

However, all of them knew that it was unlikely for it to emerge in Caiyi Town, since they were all quite familiar with water and people rarely drowned.

"Recently, has there been any place which suffered from a Waterborne Abyss?" one of the Jin disciples inquired.

Just when Lan Xichen was about to point at the sun, the Wen girl answered, "Qishan."

Everyone grew silent, didn't dare to say anything against the Qishan Wen sect in the presence of members of the said sect.

The girl sighed and shook her head while her brother looked down, looking like he was really sorry. It became apparent to them that they had not known about their own sect doing this, so they let them off. They then arrived back in town and as if he didn't just catch tons of water ghouls and escaped from the mouth of the waterborne abyss, he examined his reflection in the water. While they walked down the street, he threw a series of winks at both sides of the path, "Shijie, how much for half a kilogram of loquats?"

As always, he caught the attention of everyone he walked past. One woman lifted her bamboo hat, smiling with her head raised, "Ah, you needn't pay. How about I can give you one for free?"

"If shijie gives it to me, then I definitely want it."

The woman put her hand into the basket and threw him a round, golden loquat, "You needn't be so polite. It's for how handsome you look!"

The disciples behind him were already tense at this, but Wei Wuxian's next words made them even angrier.

"Shijie looks even prettier!"

"Wei Wuxian! Stop flirting right now! It's enough that you do this at Lotus Pier, do you really have to be like this everywhere we go?" Jiang Cheng asked him loudly.

Said boy only pouted, and went to the other disciples.


The journey back to Gusu didn't take too long, but Wei Ying grew bored fast so he looked around for some kind of entertainment. He caught Jin Zixuan looking at Meng Yao suspiciously and raised his eyebrows at this. Did they know each other? If yes, how?

"Hey! Jin Zixuan! Why are you looking at Meng Yao like that!" he asked the older boy after walking over to him.

He stuttered a little bit but after seeing the reassuring look on the Wei boy, he explained the reason, "He... He looks oddly similar to my father."

At this, Meng Yao stiffened and lowered his head. Wei Wuxian titled his head and looked at the Nie disciple. He found that he agreed with his sister's fiance. The boy did have a certain similarity to Jin Guangshan.

"Could he be... an illegitimate son maybe?" Wei Ying inquired and had his guess immediately confirmed when Meng Yao's eyes closed for a moment and he finally turned to look at them while bowing politely.

"I am." he joined in their conversation.

Jin Zixuan was quiet for a moment, "I'm guessing... my father has not recognized you as his own?"

Meng Yao shook his head bitterly, which made Jin Zixuan sigh and smile at him in pity.

"I am going to give you a piece of honest advice. Don't ever, and I mean not in this life or the next, hope to get recognized by my father. My father is a bastard who does not care for his family, for the feelings of others or for the people around him. If he ever recognized you, it is because you have become a monster similar to himself and I hope to never see the day that happens. In turn, focus to get recognized by the people who deserve it. My father may not have recognized you and hopefully never will, but from now on, I see you as my brother." Jin Zixuan told him and Meng Yao's eyes widened in surprise.

He then nodded wildly and smiled genuinely. And he took the advice. He decided to focus on his rank in the Nie sect instead, where he was appreciated for who he was instead of having to change himself for a bastard of a man who didn't care about others.

They had arrived back in Gusu a few hours ago and many had taken power naps after the excitement of the last day. Wei Wuxian then took off to explore the Cloud Recesses and he eventually came across a boy wearing white and red clothes, which he quickly recognized as the Wen boy. He was practicing archery and Wei Wuxian recognized a raw talent, that just needed proper training.

"Hey, you're Wen Ning, right?" he asked, which made said boy jump in surprise.

And the moment they looked into each other's eyes, they felt a kind of comfort and warmth they had never felt before. They kept staring at each other until Wen Ning slowly nodded at his question.

"And you... you're Wei Wuxian. Ah, Y-young master Wei, I mean."

"No need to be so formal." Wei Ying smiled, but it wasn't his usual teasing or mischievous smile, it was a content and gentle smile, similar to the one his sister often wore on her face.

Their staring didn't stop there and they slowly went closer to each other. The closer they got, the closer to home they felt. Both of them knew what this meant. Soulmates. They were soulmates. Instead of awkward talking, they simply embraced each other, breathing in each others' comforting and pleasant scents.

"I-I... There's something you need to know as my... soulmate. I... do not know my secondary gender. Or my spirit animal." Wei Ying revealed to the other boy, whose eyes widened.

"T-that's fine! It doesn't matter to me what your secondary gender is! I-I- I do not experience... I don't... I'm not interested in- in romantic relationships." he stuttered and looked down in shame.

"That's fine as well." Wei Ying smiled gently.

Having a platonic soulmate was not unheard of, it was rather common actually. And more often than not, if one of the soulmates of a platonic soulmate bond was interested in romantic relationships, they were allowed to have one with someone else who was part of a platonic soulmate bond. And in very rare cases, they already have a third soulmate in the first place so they can have romantic love. Wei Ying was not worried. He was sure he would find someone to give him romantic love as well, but for now, he was more than content with Wen Ning's platonic love and warm embraces.

Well, he was content until multiple other people came upon the scene and watched them with widened eyes.

How come Wei Ying recognized this... Wen-dog as his soulmate, but not them? They were jealous and wanted to storm over to interrupt their hug, but Xue Yang held them back and pulled them all behind him to a room where they could talk. Because a talk between them was more than necessary. They needed to reveal the truth to each other.

Chapter Text

After Xue Yang pulled them to a room, he threw them all in, "Talk."

He simply left after that and left the three alphas to look at each other in suspicion.

"So." Jiang Wanyin crossed his arms and huffed.

Jin Zixuan just rolled his eyes and Lan Wangji never lost his stoic expression.

"Beasts. Auspicious Beasts." Lan Wangji decided to break the silence.

The other two froze for a moment, but it ultimately didn't surprise them. They all knew who they themselves were and they only had to observe how the others looked at Wei Ying, their omega, to notice that all three of them were his alphas.

"Since we're already here, let's go through this one by one." Jin Zixuan suggested and the others agreed.

They told each other their respective beasts and when they found out. But there were still a few open questions.

"Jiang Wanyin. Care to explain to us why Wei Ying recognizes Wen Qionglin as his alpha but none of us?" Jin Zixuan snapped at the youngest of them.

The boy being spoken to just sighed and thought of how to express what he wanted to say without confusing himself or the boys sitting next to him.

"Wei Ying... is different. He never had his revelation dream," he revealed his adoptive brother's secret that was only known by residents of Yunmeng.

The other two boys blinked at this. They had expected a lot of things, but not this.

"It's not that he doesn't have a spirit animal or secondary gender. We all recognized him as our omega so obviously he is one, he just doesn't know it and I never told him because one is supposed to find out by oneself. As for his spirit animal, Wei Ying once told me that he can feel it in him and he can feel its emotions, but he can't communicate with it and he doesn't know what it is either since he never had the revelation dream."

The other two boys were sad for their omega. They knew how important one's spirit animal and secondary gender were in their world and not knowing what it is, was a mistake in the eyes of many people. And the feeling of not knowing one's own identity must be terrible.

"But why does he recognize Wen Qionglin but not us?"

"Well... From what I've seen, it could be that they are simply platonic soulmates. If whatever force that suppresses his animal only suppresses romantic soulmates, it could've been a loophole of whatever magic is working against Wei Ying."

It made sense to them, so they just nodded in understanding.

"Then... I suppose Wen Qionglin is one of the auspicious beasts as well." Jin Zixuan realized, "Maybe he is the Yellow Dragon? The Yellow Dragon is not always considered an auspicious beast, after all, so since Wen Qionglin is only a platonic soulmate, he could be the Yellow Dragon."

"Mn." Lan Wangji nodded in agreement.

"Then... who is the last alpha?"

It was quiet for a moment.

"Perhaps Xue Chengmei?" he turned to Jiang Cheng in question.

"Highly unlikely. For one, while he is interested in Wei Ying, he never acts on his feelings as if he knew that it is not his place to do so. And also, if he were, he obviously would've joined this conversation instead of eavesdropping from the outside." he said the last part louder and they heard the chuckles of Xue Yang outside.

"Then... Nie Huaisang? They are pretty close..."

"No. Too brotherly." Wangji denied and the others agreed with him.

"Ugh, it doesn't matter now. We will know who the last alpha is when the time comes. Until then and until Wei Ying finds out who he is, it's just us protecting him." Jiang Cheng groaned.

A few days later, Wei Ying was walking around with Jiang Cheng, Xue Yang and Nie Huaisang walking behind him. Next to him was his shijie, who had come from the other side of the Cloud Recesses, where female students slept and were taught. He was skipping and chatting away happily until he heard the voice of a random Nie disciple asking his future brother-in-law something.

"Young Master Jin, which girl do you think is the loveliest?"

All five of them turned to the voice and Jiang Cheng panicked slightly when he saw the helpless look in Jin Zixuan's eyes.

"Surely he would find his fiance to be the loveliest!" a Jin disciple answered.

"You are engaged? Who is it? From what sect is she? Is she pretty?"

Jin Zixuan had not noticed the four boys and his fiance who was the current topic, he just knew that he had to get them to stop talking about this.

"Forget it!" he glared at the other disciples.

"What do you mean forget it?" Wei Wuxian was angry.

The Jin heir's eyes widened. He stuttered and tried to find a way to get himself out of this situation. But he didn't know what to say, especially when he realized that his fiance was standing beside his omega.

"I- I-"

"Jin Zixuan!" Wei Wuxian glared at him.

"This is a misunderstanding," he hurried to stand in front of Wei Wuxian and Jiang Yanli, "I don't mean to disrespect you Maiden Jiang."

He bowed to the eldest Jiang sibling who smiled gently and told him it was okay.

"It's just that I- I-"

"I'm sure it's because he's just like his father and would rather sleep around with multiple women at the same time." one of the Nie disciples taunted him, which caused him to snap.

"Shut up! That's not what I'm saying!"

Everyone looked at him with wide eyes at his outburst.

"I am not interested in girls or women! I- I am a cut sleeve!"

It was silent. It wouldn't surprise anyone if all of Gusu had heard his scream. From afar, Lan Qiren and the Twin Jades of Lan watched the exchange.

"Oh A-Xuan, why didn't you say so earlier", Yanli giggled, "I am not interested in men myself."

Everyone was shocked at the reveal. Maiden Jiang was interested in women? They had expected many things, but not this.

"Then..." Jin Zixuan was hopeful.

"Let's talk with our mothers. Given these new revelations, I'm sure they will understand that going through with our wedding would be a cruel decision towards both us and our soulmates." at this, Jin Zixuan let his eyes wander over to Wei Wuxian who was still looking at him with wide eyes.

And so they sent letters to their parents who reluctantly agreed to cancel their engagement and wedding, in order to protect their children's happiness.

Shortly after calling off the wedding, the disciples' stay at Cloud Recesses came to an end. They were to go back to their respective sects. Wei Wuxian and Jiang Wanyin as well as Jiang Yanli to the Yunmeng Jiang sect. Jin Zixuan, Jin Zixun, Luo Mianmian, and the other Jin sect disciples to the Lanling Jin sect, Wen Qing and Wen Qionglin to the Qishan Wen sect, Nie Huaisang, Meng Yao and the other Nie disciples to the Qinghe Nie sect and everyone else to their minor sects. Everyone had finished their studies successfully, yes, even Nie Huaisang had finally passed with the help of Wei Wuxian and Jiang Wanyin. But Xue Yang had other plans, so he pulled Wei Wuxian to the side.

"A-Ying." he started hesitantly.

Wei Ying had a feeling that what he was about to hear was not at all pleasant.

"I... have thought about this matter for a while now. I don't know if you realized, but the feelings I harbor for you are not merely platonic." he started, which made Wei Ying's eyes widen.

He had not noticed.

"And I know that you will never be able to return these feelings. But watching you flirt with other people... it's so painful." he smiled sadly and Wei Ying suddenly felt sorry for all the times he had flirted with others in front of the boy he swore to protect from any harm.

"So I decided, that in order to forget my feelings for you, I need distance."

"... How much distance?" he wasn't sure if he wanted to hear the answer.

Xue Yang smiled sorrowfully and embraced the older carefully and gently, "I intend to become a disciple of Baoshan Sanren. And when I feel like I am over my feelings for you enough to come back, I will re-join you here to become the best friend and brother you deserve."

Wei Ying started crying silently. He would miss his brother.

"Don't cry." Xue Yang laughed slightly but Wei Ying heard the shaking in his voice and knew that he was close to tears as well.

"How could I not cry when my brother is going to leave me and I don't... I don't know if I'll ever see him again." Wei Ying was now full-on sobbing.

His alphas were all watching from afar. Since all of their animals had blessed them with enhanced hearing, they were able to hear what they were talking about. At first, they were furious when Xue Yang confessed to their omega, but now they just held pity for their omega who sounded so heartbroken at losing a person he considered his brother.

"It's going to be fine. I will come back. Sooner or later." he was also sobbing and looked into Wei Ying's tearful eyes.

He slowly kissed the older's forehead and his touch lingered there for a while. Under any other circumstance, Wei Ying's alphas would've ripped him to shreds, but right at that moment, they understood. They understood that this was necessary to comfort their soulmate. So they let it happen.

Wei Ying continued to cling onto his arm when Xue Yang called out to Jiang Cheng, "You! Jiang Wanyin! If I come back and I see one hair missing from A-Ying's head, you're dead!"

Jiang Wanyin just nodded. If he ever saw one hair missing from Wei Ying's head he would probably kill himself in the first place. When his gaze shifted to Wei Ying's other alphas, they were glaring at him in warning. They shared the same sentiment as Xue Yang. And since they couldn't just go with the Jiang siblings to Yunmeng to protect their omega, he was in the hands of Jiang Cheng. They didn't know whether they should be relieved or tense. Because they knew that Jiang Wanyin was able to protect their omega just fine, but they also realized that Jiang Wanyin would always have a special bond with Wei Ying that none of them could have since they hadn't grown up with the Wei boy. For now, they decided to be relieved.

Chapter Text

Like Jiang Cheng promised to do, he guarded and protected Wei Ying with his life. Wei Ying was a magnet for trouble so it didn't surprise Jiang Cheng how often he got himself into dangerous situations during night hunts. It did, however, exhaust him and made him anxious. Anxious for multiple reasons. One, because he obviously didn't want anything to happen to his omega. Yet also because he remembered the threatening looks of the other alphas when they told him to protect their omega for them. He was also the one who got to comfort Wei Ying at the loss of Xue Yang. While it pained him to see his omega so devastated, it felt incredibly good to be the one to make him happy again. He also felt smug at the fact that he was able to spend time with Wei Ying when his other alphas weren't able to.

At least until Jiang Fengmian told both of them that during the Qishan Confession Conference, there would also be an archery competition they were allowed to participate in. Wei Wuxian was incredibly happy about this, since he got to show off his archery skills and hopefully also meet some of his friends from the Cloud Recesses again.

So Jiang Fengmian, Wei Ying, Jiang Cheng and many of the Jiang sect disciples made their way to the Nightless City. They were welcomed by many vendors and lots of people, greeted some of them and continued walking to where they were supposed to meet the other sects. At least until they passed training grounds and Wei Ying noticed a familiar figure wearing red-white robes in the distance. He grinned in glee and ran over to the boy so smoothly that no one even noticed he had disappeared.

"Wen Ning!" he screamed his platonic alpha's name, whose eyes quickly widened when he spotted who had screamed his name.

"Y-Young master W-Wei." he smiled shyly.

"What's with this formality A-Ning? I thought we were close." Wei Ying pouted.

Wen Ning's eyes widened even further, "O-Of course we are!"

"Then call me affectionately." his pout grew to a wide grin.

"A-A-Xian." he stuttered, which made Wei Ying giggle and him in turn blush lightly.

"I couldn't help but notice you practicing your archery yet again. You greatly improved since the last time I saw you, you are a natural!" he praised his alpha, who often didn't seem to be an alpha.

"Ah- Not at all. I'm not that good." he denied.

"You are! You just need to work on your posture a little bit! But you're very good, especially your aim!"

When Wen Ning was about to shake his head again, Wei Ying stopped him immediately, "This won't do."

He then went behind Wen Ning and corrected his posture the way he was taught by Jiang Fengmian himself, "Just like this!"

Then he let Wen Ning go, smiled encouragingly and watched as the younger boy shot right at the kite in the sky. He jumped in glee, while Wen Ning was surprised at himself.

"You did it!" Wei Ying laughed in joy and hugged Wen Ning tightly, who quickly returned the hug.

"I- I did it!" he joined his soulmate in jumping around.

"Now you're ready for the archery competition." Wei Ying smiled softly and Wen Ning couldn't help but agree.

He was confident.


After they continued practicing for a while, they went to join the other sects. While Wen Ning was called over by Wen Qing, everyone else's attention fell on the Wei boy who had become even more infamous for his handsome yet beautiful features within the last few months. So it didn't surprise anyone that everyone was openly staring at the boy. It did, however, make certain people jealous.

"Wei Ying! Where have you been!" Jiang Cheng called out to him and just when Wei Ying started walking over to his sect, he felt someone's inappropriate touch on his behind, which made his eyes widen in shock.

It became eerily silent. He quickly turned around and saw the leader of an irrelevant sect innocently looking at him. Wei Ying faintly remembered someone calling him Sect Leader Yao but the only thing he knew was that this man had just humiliated him in public. Wei Ying couldn't get any words out, for the first time he was speechless. He was used to people gawking at him but never had anyone used his good nature to their advantage and touched him in a way less than appropriate. Just when he finally found his voice again, someone else growled at the man and was close to starting a fight with him, had Wei Ying not held him back.

"How dare you touch him!" Wei Ying had expected many people.

Jiang Cheng would've been very likely to intervene. Or Jiang Fengmian. Maybe even Lan Wangji, since his righteous personality forced him to. Even Xue Yang coming down from Baoshan Sanren's mountain to protect his honor had seemed more likely than this. Because the person who had defended him was none other than Wen Ning. Sweet, gentle, stuttering Wen Ning who couldn't even hurt a fly, had suddenly turned furious at the sight of his omega being touched against his will. Wei Ying's other alphas were surprised but more than satisfied at the knowledge that even the gentlest one of them would do everything to protect their precious omega if he needed protection.

Wen Ning gently freed himself of Wei Ying's hand holding him back and suddenly punched the man, his eyes glowing a bright yellow.

"Wen Qionglin." Wei Ying said sternly, which immediately calmed Wen Ning down and made his eyes go back to his usual color.

He also let the man go and pouted at the look on Wei Ying's face, knowing that he wouldn't allow him to punch the man again.

"With all due to respect, Sect Leader whatever. My private parts are my private parts and are to be touched by only me and my significant other. So please refrain from touching me anywhere inappropriate in the future, or else." he smirked in mischief, took our Suibian and cut off a part of the sect leader's robes that was very close to his crotch area, which made his eyes widen in shock.

"If you would excuse me." he bowed in mock, told Wen Ning to go to the other competitors of his sect and then went to join his own sect.

While his alphas were absolutely livid just moments before, they were now incredibly proud of their omega at being able to stand up for himself.

When Wen Ruohan and his sons arrived, no one mentioned what had happened moments before. They simply listened to their arrogant talks and waited impatiently until the archery competition started. Until Wen Chao called out Wen Ning standing with the competitors.

"You! You probably can't even hold a bow properly, why do you think we would allow you to participate?" Wen Chao mocked him.

"I- I can hold it properly and I can shoot well too!" Wen Ning defended himself, which would've shocked everyone, had they not seen him moments earlier when protecting Wei Ying.

"You can? Then prove it." he laughed at him and watched in amusement as Wen Ning took out his bow and arrow and took a deep breath to calm himself.

He shortly looked at his omega, to ground himself, before shooting the arrow - which landed right in the middle of the target. Wen Chao's taunts immediately stopped and he grumbled as he reluctantly agreed to let Wen Ning participate. Said Wen boy looked to Wei Ying in joy, who just gave him a thumbs up and a proud smile. Shortly after, they all took off to hunt down their targets. Wei Ying went with Jiang Cheng and was about to start talking to him when the duo was joined by Jin Zixuan and Lan Wangji, which confused Wei Ying to no end. These three were an odd group, but he decided to just accept it and move on shooting down the targets.

The sky was often graced by the purple lotus symbol of the Yunmeng Jiang sect, most of them for the countless successful shots of Wei Wuxian. The alphas next to him secretly longed for their own symbol to appear when he shot down yet another one of the targets, while Jiang Cheng felt smug and proud at seeing his own motif. When Wei Ying was about to shoot down yet another target when it was suddenly hit by someone else and a red sun appeared in the sky, immediately alerting them of who had hit the target.

Wen Chao kept following them around, often shooting down the targets they were going for which annoyed all of them to no end. So Wei Ying started grinning and taunting the Wen boy.

"Too scared to go off alone and look for your own targets?" he mocked.

"Me? Scared? Ha, never in a million years." he scoffed in anger.

"Then why do you keep following us? Do you enjoy our company that much? I feel so honored." he bowed in fake respect.

Wen Chao grew angry, took out an arrow and aimed right at Wei Wuxian. The boys next to him tried to step in front of him to protect him, but after one look from him, they stopped and watched their omega's plan succeed. Because Wen Chao shot the arrow in Wei Ying's direction, only for him to dodge in the last second. Immediately, another Wen sun appeared in the sky but in grey instead of red, indicating that he had been disqualified for missing his target. Wei Ying grinned in mischief, bowed and started walking away.

"Have fun watching me win, Second Young Master Wen!"

They could hear Wen Chao scream in anger behind them, but didn't pay him any mind.

While the others were busy, him and Lan Wangji stayed a little behind them. Wei Ying was looking around for another target, when he saw from the corner of his eye that Lan Wangji's ribbon was a little crooked.

"Ah, Lan Zhan! Let me help you real quick!" he grinned and reached out to help the other fix his ribbon.

But Lan Zhan froze and his eyes widened. Wei Ying didn't understand what was happening and he was very confused at the flush that appeared on the Second Jade's face and ears. Before he could ask what was wrong, Lan Zhan almost fled the scene. Wei Ying didn't know, but Lan Wangji had to go because otherwise, he would've kissed his omega right then and there.

This left only Wei Wuxian, Jiang Wanyin and Jin Zixuan in their little group. Wei Ying mainly interacted with Jiang Cheng, which caused the Jin heir to look at him in longing. Wei Ying, despite his oblivious nature, noticed that Jin Zixuan must've felt left out so he started including him in their conversations which made the boy incredibly happy, which he tried but failed to hide.


After the archery competition came to an end, all of the participants and the other attending members of their sects were gathered in the same place as before.

"We are now announcing Top 5 of the archery competition. The fifth place is tied by Jiang Wanyin of Yunmeng and Wen Qionglin. The fourth place is occupied by Lan Wangji of Gusu. The third place is Jin Zixuan of Lanling. The second place is Lan Xichen of Gusu and the first place goes to Wei Wuxian of Yunmeng."

Wen Chao and Wen Xu weren't even there during the announcement, knowing that they had both failed miserably. At least Wen Ning had somehow defended the honor of their sect by placing fifth, tying with Jiang Wanyin of Yunmeng, a sect who was known for their exceptionally good archery skills.

But the brothers were angry. Even that white-clad boy Lan Wangji had placed higher than them, even though he had left early. So when Wen Ruohan joined his sons, they stopped him before he could voice his disappointment in their poor performance.

"Father, we believe it to be very unfair for not just one, but two of the Lan disciples to place in the Top 5. Perhaps we should show them a lesson to prevent them from being so... greedy again." Wen Xu smirked and his father immediately listened to both of them and agreed with their plans.

After all, it was so very arrogant of the Gusu Lan sect to have two of their disciples, the Twin Jades at that, place so high.


Mere days later, the Cloud Recesses stood in flames.

Chapter Text

The whole cultivation world was aware of what happened to the Cloud Recesses and everyone feared for their own sect to be the next. Meanwhile, Wei Ying feared for the life of Lan Zhan instead. Both of them had grown close and Wei Ying was unaware of Lan Zhan's current condition and whereabouts. But there was no more time to worry about his friend. The Jiang sect, like the other sects, had received an invitation from the Qishan Wen sect to send their disciples to the Nightless city for "Re-Education", as they called it. But people knew that it wasn't just a friendly invitation, it was basically an unspoken threat to them.

So Wei Ying and Jiang Cheng prepared to leave for the Nightless City. Before they left, they shared a family bonding moment with their parents and older sister and then they, along with eighteen other Jiang sect disciples, left for Qishan. They were some of the last ones to arrive, with disciples of major and minor sects already being present. Wei Ying spotted many people he was familiar with, such as Jin Zixuan and Luo Mianmian. Jin Zixuan smiled at him hesitantly but Wei Ying understood. All of them were afraid to move just one limb wrong in the Wen's territory. After letting his eyes wander, he also saw disciples of the Gusu Lan sect, which made his eyes widen, especially when he spotted Lan Zhan among them, even though he kept his distance.

Of course, he would be there. After all, every sect had to send at least one member of their clan and since Zewu-Jun had gone missing, Lan Wangji was the one to be sent instead. Wei Ying wanted to go over and ask him if he was well, but before he could do so, someone else appeared.

"Silence, all of you, don't talk!" someone screamed at the disciples.

In Wei Ying's humble opinion, it made him sound ridiculous. He was the only one moving his mouth after all, with all the disciples being too wary to say anything.

And then Wen Chao appeared. Behind him stood an unknown girl, probably some servant he kept around for pleasure, as well as the Core Melting Hand, Wen Zhuliu.

Wen Chao didn't even give them a last moment to prepare themselves for what was to come, "From now on, one by one, hand over your swords!”

A commotion began among the crowd. Someone protested, “Swords should always accompany those who cultivate. Why do you want us to hand over our swords?”

"Who was the one that spoke? From which sect? Stand forward on your own!” the younger Wen brother sneered.

The person who spoke was immediately too afraid to speak. The crowd below the platform finally quieted, and Wen Chao was finally satisfied, “It’s exactly because there are still disciples like you, who know nothing of conduct, of compliance, of humility, that I’m here to indoctrinate you so that your cores don’t rot away. You’re already so ignorantly audacious. If your customs aren’t straightened up now, in the future, there’d naturally be those who attempt to challenge the authority and climb above the Wen Sect’s head!”

Although everyone knew that he asked for their swords with ill intentions in mind, with the Qishan Wen Sect like the sun at high noon, all of the sects were treading on thin ice, daring not to defy it in the slightest way. Everyone was afraid that if they caused him any displeasure, they’d be given some accusation along with their sect, and so they could only submit to him. When some Wen soldiers came to them to take away their swords, Jiang Cheng instinctively stood in front of Wei Ying protectively. But Wei Ying pushed him to the side, strapped off his sword and handed it over. In the distance, he could see Lan Zhan and Jin Zixuan doing the same.

"I didn't notice during the archery competition, but people were right. Your beauty is certainly a sight to behold. Maybe if you hadn't teased me in such a cruel way, we could have some... fun." Wen Chao smirked at Wei Ying, which made Jiang Cheng's blood run cold.

But Wei Ying merely looked at him in disgust, before looking away, which made Wen Chao incredibly angry, but the girl pulling on his sleeves quickly made him forget his embarrassment.

The so-called "Re-Education" of the Qishan Wen sect included only handing out copies of “Quintessence of the Wen Sect”, booklets full of the stories and quotes of the Wen Sect’s past leaders and best cultivators. Everyone had one. They were demanded to memorize them well and keep them in mind at all times. Wen Chao, on the other hand, stood above them every single day. He’d give a speech to everyone and request that they cheer for him, make him the role model to every word, every action. During night-hunts, he would bring the disciples with him and make them run at the very front. They’d scout the path, distract the demons and beasts, and battle with all their effort, while he’d appear at the last moment and easily knock down the prey that had already been beaten to a pulp by others. After he cut off its head, he’d go around boasting that it came from the victory he had achieved alone.

The one who suffered the most was Jin ZiXuan. He grew up being spoiled left and right by both his parents and servants. He had never undergone such humiliation before. If not for how the other disciples of the Lanling Jin Sect stopped him and the fact that Wen ZhuLiu wasn’t easy to deal with, he would have willingly killed himself along with Wen Chao on the first day. On the other hand, Lan WangJi seemed to be in a state of inner peace and absolute indifference, as though his soul had already risen out of his body. And, Wei WuXian had been through years of Madam Yu’s diverse methods of scolding when he was at Lotus Pier. He began to laugh whenever he stepped off the platform, hardly blinking an eye to such moments.

Today, as usual, the group was hustled awake by the Wen Sect’s disciples again. Like a group of livestock, they were driven toward the next destination of their night-hunts. The place that they were going to this time was called Dusk-Creek Mountain.

The deeper they went into the forest, the thicker the branches over their heads became, and the larger the shadows below them grew. Aside from the sounds of leaves and footsteps, they couldn’t hear anything else. The calls of birds, beasts, and beetles were unusually perceivable amidst the silence. After a while, the group met with a creek. Scattered throughout the gurgling water were maple leaves that floated along. The harmony of the sound and the sight imperceptibly diluted the atmosphere of desolation.

Wei WuXian and Jiang Cheng walked while muttering insults at the Wen-dogs in every way possible. Trying to be subtle, he turned around, glanced, and saw a figure clothed in white. Lan WangJi was not far away from him.

Due to his slow pace, Lan WangJi was toward the back of the line. Within these past few days, there were many times when Wei Wuxian wanted to approach him and catch up on what had been happening. However, Lan Wangji turned away whenever he saw him and Jiang Cheng had also beat it into him not to mess around. Now that they were closer, he couldn’t help but pay more attention. Wei Wuxian suddenly realized that, although Lan Wangji tried to walk as normally as possible, one could still see that his right leg contacted the ground lighter than his left, as though he couldn’t put any pressure on it.

Seeing this, Wei Wuxian slowed down so that he was beside Lan WangJi. Walking shoulder to shoulder with him, he asked, “What happened to your leg?”


If Wei Ying was able to hear the way his heart sped up or his scent turned more relaxed yet happy with the help of his spiritual animal, he didn't say anything.

"I know that you're lying, Lan Zhan," he pouted, "be honest. Is your leg fine?"

Wangji yet again had that weird look on his face Wei Ying still couldn't interpret. But Wangji still refused to answer. By now, Wei Ying had realized that it had probably happened when the Cloud Recesses were burnt down, so he let the topic go.

"Do you want me to carry you?" Wei Ying smiled in mischief, but Wangji knew that the boy was serious.

Yet he refused. It was already disgraceful enough to be carried by a man, but by an omega? It was something he could not allow himself to do, even though he secretly longed for the other's touch to soothe his inner wounds.

So Wei Ying started pouting, until he heard a group of girls laughing in delight.

"Mianmian, your perfume sachet truly is something special. After I wore it, bugs really did stop coming over. The scent is nice too. I seem to feel much more awake after I smell it.” one of the girls said.

The voice of the girl called MianMian was indeed soft and sweet, “The sachet is filled with minced medicinal plants. It can be useful in quite a lot of ways. I’ve still got a few here. Do any of you want one?”

Wei WuXian swept over like a foreboding gust of wind, “MianMian, save me one too.”

The girl was surprised. She didn’t expect to hear a stranger’s voice barge in so suddenly. Turning around, she revealed a fair face, which frowned slightly as she asked, “Who are you? Why do you call me MianMian as well?”

Wei WuXian grinned, “I heard all of them call you MianMian, so I thought that it’s your name. What, it’s not?”

Lan WangJi watched them coldly. Seeing that he was at it again, Jiang Cheng rolled his eyes with emphasis.

MianMian’s cheeks flushed, “You can’t call me that!”

Wei WuXian, “Why not? How about this: if you tell me your name, I won’t call you MianMian anymore. What do you think?”

MianMian, “Why do I have to tell you just because you asked? Before you ask for somebody else’s name, you should tell them your name first, shouldn’t you?”

Wei WuXian, “Sure, if you want my name. Remember, my name is ‘YuanDao’.”

MianMian silently pronounced the name ‘YuanDao’ a few times. She couldn’t remember if the young master of any sect had such a name. But, judging from the boy’s air and appearance, she didn’t think he was the average disciple. Looking at the teasing smile at the corners of Wei WuXian’s lips, she didn’t know what was going on.

Suddenly, Lan WangJi’s low voice came from beside them, “A play on words.”

She realized at once that it had been taken from the poetry line ‘its ceaseless bounds yearn for miles and miles on’ and he was making fun of her. She stomped her feet in spite, “Who’s yearning for you? You have no face!”

The girls collapsed into a laughing mess, chirping, “Wei WuXian, you really have no face!”

“I’ve never seen someone as annoying as you!”

“Let me tell you, she’s called…”

MianMian dragged them away and turned to leave, “Let’s go, let’s go! You can’t tell it to him.”

Wei WuXian shouted from behind, “You can go, but give me a sachet, won’t you?! You’re ignoring me? You don’t want to? If you don’t, I’ll find other people and ask for your name. There must be someone out there who’s willing to tell me…”

Before he finished, a perfume sachet flew over from in front of him. It landed right in the middle of his chest. With an ‘ouch’, Wei WuXian pretended as though his heart hurt, spinning the sachet around his hand with its ribbons around his finger. Even as he walked back to Lan WangJi, he was still spinning the sachet around, grinning. Watching Lan WangJi’s expression grow colder, he asked, “What? You’re looking at me like that again. Right, where were we again? Let’s continue. How about I carry you on my back?”

Lan WangJi looked at him quietly, “Do you behave in such a flirty way towards everyone?”

Wei WuXian thought for a second, “I think so?”

Lan WangJi looked at the ground, which caused Wei Ying to think he was angry at him, which made him put again. He bowed slightly and left him, not noticing the older's longing looks.

Combining three strides into two, he quickly caught up to Jiang Cheng.

Yet, Jiang Cheng didn’t give him any good looks either. He spoke menacingly, “You’re so ridiculous!”

Then he sped up. Everyone but Wei Wuxian noticed that he was still close enough to protect the silver-eyed boy if the younger one sensed danger.

While they kept walking, everyone noticed the wanton looks Wen Chao threw at Wei Ying. Wang Lingjiao, his mistress, had noticed as well and she was in no way happy about it, but she kept silent. For now. Just when she wanted to scold some disciples because they were talking amongst themselves, someone screamed that they had found the entrance to the cave.

The entrance led to deep underground. The cold air plunged into everyone’s face, sending chills down their back. Nothing was heard of the pebble that had been tossed inside. It was as though it had sunk into the sea.

Wen Chao was ecstatic, “This must be it! Quick, everyone, get down there!”

Jin ZiXuan couldn’t hold it any longer. He spoke coldly, “You brought us here, saying that we’ll be hunting a beast. Then, if I may ask, what sort of a beast is it? Informing us beforehand would allow us to cooperate with more efficiency so that we wouldn’t be as confused as last time.”

Wen Chao, “Inform you?”

He stood up, first pointing at Jin ZiXuan and then at himself, “Just how many times do I have to make myself clear for you to remember? Don’t get it wrong. You are only the cultivators who serve me. I’m the one who gives the orders. I don’t need others to tell me their suggestions. I am the only one who directs the battle and commands the troops. I am also the only one who can conquer the beast!”

He spoke the words ‘only one’ with great emphasis. The lofty voice and arrogant tone evoked both laughter and hatred within the ones who listened. Wang LingJiao scolded, “Didn’t you hear what Young Master Wen said? Get down there, quick!”

Jin ZiXuan was standing at the very front. Holding back his anger, he lifted the hem of his robe, grabbed one of the thickest vines, and jumped without any hesitation into the endless hole. No matter what creatures haunted this cave, facing them would be much more comfortable than facing Wen Chao and the others. If he let this hell of a pair damage his eyes any longer, he was afraid that he really might choose to perish alongside them!

The people following Jin ZiXuan entered the hole one by one.

Since the group of forcibly gathered disciples had their swords taken away, they could only crawl down slowly. The vines grew along the wall of the hole. They were quite sturdy, thick as the wrists of young children. Clinging to it, Wei WuXian silently calculated how deep they were going as he lowered himself at a leisurely pace.

His feet finally touched the ground after sliding down for almost thirty feet.

Wen Chao shouted a few things from above ground. Having ensured that it was safe underground, he flew easily down, sword under his feet, Wang LingJiao in his arms. A while after, the disciples and servants also landed one by one.

Jiang Cheng whispered, “Hopefully the prey he wants to hunt this time won’t be anything too difficult. I don’t know if there are any other exits here. If the ghoul or beast flips out inside of here, such a long vine might break in half and it’d be hard for us to even run away.”

The rest of the group was thinking the same thing. They couldn’t help but look up at the small, white spot that was the entrance. Everyone was worried.

Wen Chao leaped off his sword, “What are you doing just standing there? Do you need me to teach you what to do? Go!”

The group of the boys was chased into the depths of the cave.

Since they needed to scout the path at the front, Wen Chao ordered his servants to provide them with a few torches. The ceiling of the cave was both high and broad, unreachable by the light of the torches. Wei WuXian paid attention to the echoes. He felt that the deeper they went, the more spacious the echoes sounded. It was likely that they were already more than a hundred feet below ground.

The people at the front maintained high alert. They didn’t know how long had passed when they had finally arrived before a deep pool of water. Even if the pool was above ground, it’d be considered a vast lake. The water was eerily black. Stone islets of all sizes were also protruding from the surface. And there was no other path before them.

But, even though the path was at an end, they still hadn’t found the prey of their night-hunt. They didn’t even know what exactly it was. Everyone’s heart was filled with uncertainty, still stiffly maintaining their vigilance.

As he hadn’t seen the beast that he was expecting, Wen Chao also felt irritated. After cursing a few words, he suddenly had an ‘idea’, “Find somebody, hang them up, and let out some blood to lure the thing out.”

Beasts usually craved blood more than anything. It’d definitely be lured out by the scent of the blood and the immobile human being hanging mid-air!

"How about him?" Wang Lingjiao immediately pointed at Wei Wuxian.

Jiang Cheng immediately stood in front of him protectively and he could briefly see Jin Zixuan step forward as well. Even Lan Wangji, despite his broken leg, seemed to want to protect him at all costs.

Wei Ying himself was shocked for a moment but then raised his eyebrows at her in mock, "What? Jealous that Young Master Wen's attention has been on me since the moment I entered the Nightless city instead of on you?"

"Wen Chao! He's disrespecting your mistress, do something about it!" Wang Lingjiao pouted at him.

"Ah- Maybe- we should choose someone else?" he hesitated.

"Someone else? What do you mean someone else?" she was furious.

"I- I mean... of course we will use him to-" but he was interrupted.

"You know what, I've changed my mind. How about we use this one instead?" she pointed at Mianmian, who froze in shock.

She may not seem like it, but Wei Ying realized that she certainly knew how to play her cards. Because Wei Ying would never let anyone else get hurt willingly.

MianMian knew that if she was hung up, she probably wouldn’t be able to come back down alive. She tried to run away, but wherever she fled, the people dispersed around her. Just as Wei WuXian twitched, Jiang Cheng held him firmly down. MianMian suddenly noticed that two people remained still. She hid behind their backs at once, shivering.

The two were Jin ZiXuan and Lan WangJi. And in Wei Ying's eyes, both of them had never been more handsome than when they joined forces to protect an innocent person.

As the Wen Sect’s servants that were about to tie MianMian up saw that the two didn’t intend on moving, they shouted, “Move to the side!”

Lan WangJi was silent with indifference.

Seeing that the situation wasn’t good, Wen Chao warned, “Why are you standing there? You can’t understand human speech? Or do you want to save the damsel in distress?”

Jin ZiXuan lifted his brows, “Is that enough? It wasn’t enough for people to be flesh shields for you, and now you want live humans to bleed for you to use as bait?!”

Wei Ying was impressed. He was always pretty neutral about the Jin heir, but seeing him now, he realized that he had underestimated the man.

Wen Chao pointed at them, “Are you rebelling against me? Let me warn you, I’ve been tolerating you for a very long time. Right now, hang the brat up with your own hands! Or else none of the people from your sects can expect to return!”

Jin ZiXuan sneered and refused to budge. Lan WangJi also looked as though he had heard nothing, so motionless that he seemed to be meditating. However, one of the Gusu Lan Sect’s disciples on the side had been trembling as he listened to Wen Chao’s threatening words. He finally couldn’t hold it any longer as he rushed over, grabbing MianMian, and prepared to tie her up. Lan WangJi’s brows stiffened. He immediately struck the disciple to the side. Although he didn’t say anything, the way he looked at the disciple was more than imposing. What such a look meant was clear to everyone—it truly is a shame that the Gusu Lan Sect has taught a disciple like you!

The disciple’s shoulders quivered as he backed off slowly, unable to face the others’ eyes. Wei WuXian whispered to Jiang Cheng, “Uh-oh. Judging from Lan Zhan’s personality, this won’t go well.”

Jiang Cheng clenched his fists as well. In such a situation, it was almost impossible to care for oneself only and hope that no blood would be lost!

Wen Chao was enraged, shouting, “How dare you! Kill them!”

A few of the Wen Sect’s disciples unsheathed their swords, rushing toward Lan WangJi and Jin ZiXuan. The ‘Core-melting Hand’, Wen ZhuLiu, stood behind Wen Chao with his hands folded behind him. He never attacked, as though he thought that he didn’t need to do so. He was right, seeing that the two boys were at a loss in terms of both weaponry and sheer numbers. Even more, after the past days of being constantly on the move, they were in quite a bad state, not to mention that Lan WangJi had been injured. They definitely wouldn’t be able to last long. Watching his subordinates fight with the two, Wen Chao looked as if his mood was much better. He spat, “Talking back to me—what did you think you are? People like you really do deserve to be killed.”

A grinning voice came from the side, “That’s right. All those who oppress others and do evil relying on the power of their clan should be killed. Not only that, they should be beheaded for tens of thousands to revile so that those to come would beware.”

Hearing this, Wen Chao spun around, “What did you say?”

Wei WuXian pretended to be surprised, “Do you need me to repeat it? Sure. All those who oppress others and do evil relying on the power of their clan should be killed. Not only that, they should be beheaded for tens of thousands to revile so that those to come would beware. You heard it this time?”

Hearing this, Wen ZhuLiu seemed to ponder as he glanced at Wei WuXian. Wen Chao erupted, “How dare you say such absurd, outrageous, and pretentious words!”

Wei WuXian first lifted the corners of his mouth with a ‘pfft’, then immediately burst into unbridled laughter.

Under everyone’s shocked eyes, he laughed so hard that he was out of breath, clutching Jiang Cheng’s shoulder as he spoke, “Absurd? Outrageous? I’d say you’re the one who’s all of those! Wen Chao, do you know who was the one that said those words? I’m sure you don’t, do you? Let me tell you. This was said by the most, most, most famous cultivator of your sect, the one who founded the entire thing, Wen Mao. You dared say that one of your ancestor’s remarks are absurd and outrageous? Well said, very well said! Ahahahahaha…”

Within the Quintessence of the Wen Sect that had been given out, even the most ordinary of smalltalk comments could be analyzed over and over, their deep meanings boasted with exceptional extravagance. Let alone memorizing it well, Wei WuXian felt disgusted after just flipping through its pages. However, he found this quote of Wen Mao’s quite ironic, which was why he could recall it with ease.

Wen Chao’s complexion switched between red and white. Wei WuXian added, “Right, what was the accusation given to those who insult famous cultivators of the Wen Sect again? How should they be punished? I remember that it was execution, right? Yes, very well, you can go die now.”

Wen Chao couldn’t hold himself back any longer, unsheathing his sword and lunging at Wei WuXian. With that, he lunged out of Wen ZhuLiu’s range of protection.

Wen ZhuLiu had always been used to defending against the attacks of others. He had never expected Wen Chao to leave by his own will. Facing the sudden difficulty, he somehow couldn’t react in time. On the other hand, as Wei WuXian provoked Wen Chao, he was precisely waiting for the moment of uncontrollable rage. The smile by his lips didn’t falter at all as he attacked with the speed of lightning. In a split second, he had snatched the sword and reversed the situation, subduing Wen Chao with just one move!

One hand gripping Wen Chao, he leaped a few times and landed on one of the islets above the pool, keeping his distance from Wen ZhuLiu. With his other hand he pressed the sword onto Wen Chao’s neck, warning, “Nobody move. If you’re not careful, I might just decide to let some blood out of your Young Master Wen!”

Wen Chao screeched, “Stop moving! Stop moving!”

The disciples surrounding Lan WangJi and Jin ZiXuan finally ceased their attacks. Wei WuXian shouted, “Core-melting Hand, you’re not moving either! You know how the temper of the Wen Sect’s leader is. Your master is in my hand. If he loses just one drop of blood, then not one of the people here should hope to live on, including you!”

Wen ZhuLiu put his arms down as Wei WuXian had expected.

Just when Wei Ying wanted to continue taunting the Wens, he heard Jiang Cheng calling out to him hurriedly.

"A-Xian, get away from there! Right now!"

While he was confused, he did what was said and quickly flew over to Jiang Cheng, leaving Wen Chao over there. Then the beast they had been hunting for suddenly emerged from the water. Everyone ran back as far as they could, leaving only Wen Chao in danger. While he did manage to escape and re-join Wen Zhuliu, the beast had gotten close enough to completely bite off a part of his stomach. He watched disciples using any weapons they had to protect themselves from the beast. He himself also used arrows to fight against creature who looked like a tortoise. The only one who didn't do anything was Jiang Cheng who seemed to be frozen.

And then he suddenly heard someone cry out in fear behind him, which immediately made him turn around. He saw Mianmian being held in place, two Wen servants clenching her face, while a third one raised a branding iron up to her face.

The tip of the iron was so heated that it sizzled and shone with red light. Wei WuXian was some distance away from them. Seeing what was happening, he immediately shifted the direction of the arrows and let go of the string.

The three arrows shot out at once and hit each of the three people. Without making a noise, they fell backward onto the ground. Yet, before the bowstring even ceased to vibrate, Wang LingJiao suddenly grabbed the iron that had fallen as well. Gripping MianMian’s hair, she again shoved it toward her face!

Even though Wang LingJiao’s level of cultivation was extremely low, her move was both swift and cruel. If she really did it, even if MianMian could keep her eye, her face would be completely ruined. A woman like her, even under such dangerous circumstances where people were prepared to flee at a moment’s notice, still kept her persistent thoughts of harming others!

All of the other disciples were setting up their arrows, handling the beast with all of their attention. Nobody was near these two. There were no more arrows on Wei WuXian and there wasn’t enough time to grab someone else’s. Under the urgency of these circumstances, he rushed over, one hand striking away the arm that Wang LingJiao grabbed MianMian’s hair with and the other landing forcefully at her chest.

Having undertaken the strike, Wang LingJiao heaved up a mouthful of blood and flew backward.

However, the tip of the iron had already pressed onto Wei WuXian’s chest. Wei WuXian caught the odor of clothing and skin being scorched, along with the horrifying scent of cooked meat. Below his collarbone, near his heart, came a pain that drowned out everything else.

He gritted his teeth and was barely able to hold back a scream. Maybe if he weren't so focused on the pain, he would've noticed the shocked, worried and furious looks on the faces of three certain alphas. And if said alphas weren't so focused on their omega's well-being, they would've noticed the way his eyes glowed red for a second.

His strike wasn’t in the least soft. Wang LingJiao flew out, blood spurting everywhere, and wailed as soon as she hit the ground. Jiang Cheng’s palm went toward the crown of her head. Wen Chao screeched, “JiaoJiao! JiaoJiao! Quick, get JiaoJiao back here!”

Wen ZhuLiu frowned slightly. He didn’t say anything as he hurried over, fended off Jiang Cheng, and carried Wang LingJiao back, tossing her at Wen Chao’s feet. Wang LingJiao threw herself into his arms, still retching blood as she bawled her eyes out. Jiang Cheng chased over to fight Wen ZhuLiu. Wen Chao saw that his eyes were bloodshot and had on a terrifying expression. The rest of the disciples had also been excited, and there was still a gigantic beast inside the pool, the front-left claw of which had already stepped onto the shore. Wen Chao finally began to fear, “Retreat, retreat. Retreat right now!”

Those who served him had been holding it up with much effort, waiting for him to give orders of retreat since a long time ago. Hearing those words, they hopped onto their swords and flew away at once. Wen Chao’s sword was thrown by Wei WuXian into the water, so he grabbed someone else’s and leapt onto the sword with Wang LingJiao in his arms. With a whoosh, they disappeared within the blink of an eye. All of the disciples and servants followed closely behind him. Jin ZiXuan shouted, “Stop fighting! Let’s go!”

The disciples had never intended to continue the fight anyway, especially against the beast that was like a mountain of boulders. But, dashing along, as they arrived at where the hole was, they found the vine that they had used to climb down in a pile on the ground like a dead snake.

Jin ZiXuan fumed, “Those dog-thieves! They cut off the vine!”

Without the vine, they had now way of climbing up the steep dirt wall. The hole was a little more than thirty feet above their heads, its white light hurting the eye. Not long afterward, half of the light had withered.

Somebody cried, “They’re blocking up the entrance!”

Just as he had finished speaking, the rest of the white light had been blocked up as well. Deep underground, all that was left was a couple of burning torches, igniting the young, hesitant faces. Nobody could say anything.

A while later, Jin ZiXuan’s cursing broke the dead silence, “That hell of a couple can really do such things, can’t they?”

One of the boys murmured, “It’s alright even if we can’t get out… My father and mother will come to find me. If they hear of this, they’ll definitely search for me here.”

A few of the people agreed. Immediately after, somebody replied in a quivering voice, “They must think that we’re still undergoing indoctrination at Qishan. How could they possibly search for us… Besides, after the Wen Sect’s people ran away, they definitely won’t tell the truth. They’ll definitely make up some excuse… And we can only stay down here…”

“We can only wait down here in the cave… without any food… along with a beast…”

As Jiang Cheng slowly walked over, propping Wei WuXian up, they happened to hear the ‘without any food’ part of the conversation. Wei WuXian, “Jiang Cheng, there’s a piece of cooked meat here. You want to eat it?”

Jiang Cheng, “Get lost! You really haven’t learned your lesson, have you? Just what situation do you think we’re in? You don’t know how much I want to sew your lips together.”

Lan WangJi’s light-colored eyes landed on them. Immediately after, they landed on MianMian, who followed behind them, at a loss as to what to do. Tears stained her face as she continued to sob, hands clenching her robe as she said ‘I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry’ over and over again. Wei WuXian plugged his ears, “Hey, stop crying, alright? I’m the one who was burned, not you. Don’t tell me that you want me to cheer you up? How about you cheer me up? Okay, enough, Jiang Cheng, stop carrying me. It’s not like my leg is broken.”

The girls circled around MianMian and began to sniffle together.

Lan WangJi’s gaze returned as he turned around to leave.

Jiang Cheng, “Young Master Lan, where are you going? The beast is still waiting in the pool.”

Lan WangJi, “Return to the pool. There is a way to leave.”

After the boys had heard that there was a way to leave, even the crying stopped. Wei WuXian, “What is it?”

Lan WangJi, “There are leaves within the pool.”

Although the sentence sounded rather strange, Wei WuXian understood at once.

Atop the dark pool that the beast dwelled in, there were indeed a few leaves. But, inside of the cave, there were neither maple trees nor the trace of any human activity and, near the entrance, there was only a banyan tree. The maple leaves, however, were as red as fire, flaunting how fresh they were. When they came up the mountain, they had also seen the sight of leaves drifting along water in a creek.

Jiang Cheng had realized as well, “At the bottom of the pool, it’s likely that there’s a hole connected with water from the outside. That would’ve brought in the maple leaves in the forest creek.”

Someone spoke in a timid voice, “But… How do we know if the hole is large enough to let people through? What if it’s really small and it’s only a slit?”

Jin ZiXuan frowned, “And the beast is still watching stubbornly over the pool.”

Wei WuXian lifted the lapel of his robe, one of his hands fanning at the wound under his clothes, “If there’s hope, then let’s move. No matter what, it’s better than waiting for our parents here and doing nothing. So what if it’s watching over the pool? We can just lure it out.”

After some negotiation, a while later, the group of boys again went off the same way they had come.

Hiding in a hole within the cave, they quietly peeped at the beast.

Most of its body was still soaked in the pool. The long body of a snake extended from its turtle shell. It approached the shore, opened its jaw, and softly clenched the corpse between its teeth before it shrunk back, dragging the corpse back into its dark, castle-like shell. It was as though it wanted to savor it in there.

Wei WuXian tossed out a torch. It crashed into one corner of the cave.

The sound was especially exaggerated within the dead silence of the underground. The head of the beast slid out of its shell at once. Its thin pupils reflected the eagerly burning torch. Instinctively attracted to things that gave light and heat, it slowly extended its neck out.

Behind it, Jiang Cheng noiselessly dove into the water.

The Yunmeng Jiang Sect settled near water. The swimming abilities of its disciples were all exceptional. The moment that Jiang Cheng had dived, the ripples disappeared immediately. The surface of the water didn’t even do so much as to crease. Everyone stared at the water, glancing at the beast at times. Seeing that the large, black head had always been hesitantly circling around the torch, debating between approaching or not, everyone’s hearts tightened. 

Suddenly, as though having finally decided to get a taste of what this really was, it moved its nose close. Yet, it was slightly scorched by the searing flames.

The neck of the beast shrunk away at once. Two streams of water vapor shot out with rage from its nostrils, putting the torch out.

At this point in time, Jiang Cheng just happened to have swum out of the water and took in a deep breath. Sensing that its territory had been intruded, it shook its head and plunged toward Jiang Cheng.

Noticing the situation at hand, Wei WuXian bit his finger and drew something illegible on his palm. Rushing out of the hole they hid in, he slapped his palm onto the ground. As he removed his hand, a fire as tall a person sprouted from the ground.

Surprised, the beast turned around and looked over. Jiang Cheng used the opportunity to climb ashore, shouting, “There’s a hole at the bottom, not too small!”

Wei WuXian, “How small is not too small?”

Jiang Cheng, “About half a dozen can pass at a time!”

Wei WuXian shouted, “Everyone, listen up. Follow Jiang Cheng and swim into the underwater hole. Those who aren’t injured watch out for those who are, those who can swim watch out for those who can’t. Half a dozen can pass at a time, so nobody rush. Now, go!”

While Jiang Cheng helped everyone out, Wei Ying stayed inside and continued distracting the beast.

"What do you think you're doing?" Jiang Cheng frowned at him when he noticed him not joining them at the exit.

Just when he was about to answer, he felt a stinging pain in his shoulder. He looked for its source and realized that one of the disciples who had wanted to help, had slipped and accidentally hit him with an arrow instead of the beast. The boy immediately had Jiang Cheng and Jin Zixuan at his throat, ready to attack him if he tried to hurt Wei Ying again.

Jiang Cheng still had three disciples who couldn’t swim beside him. This could be considered the last batch. He knew that they weren’t able to wait and had to dive into the water without Wei WuXian. Wei WuXian only realized after he had pulled the arrow out of his arm, Oh no!

The scent of blood had provoked the beast. Its neck suddenly grew in length faster than ever and its fangs had opened wide!

Before Wei WuXian could think of what to do next, his body tilted as somebody shoved him to the side.

Lan WangJi had pushed him out of the way.

With this opportunity, the jaws of the beast had closed, biting down on his leg.

Wei WuXian’s right leg hurt from simply watching the scene. Lan WangJi’s face was still expressionless. He had only frowned slightly. Afterward, he was immediately dragged away!

Judging from the size and the bite strength of the beast, it could easily be able to sever a person from the waist into two pieces. Fortunately, it seemed that it didn’t like to eat broken ones. After it had bitten someone, it would shrink into its shell, no matter if the person was dead or alive, so that it could savor it slowly. Or else, if its jaw had just used some strength, Lan WangJi’s leg would’ve been broken already. Its shell was extremely hard, impenetrable by any blade. If it dragged Lan WangJi inside, then he’d most likely never come out again!

Wei WuXian broke into a sprint. Just as the head was about to shrink inside, he threw himself over, clinging to one of the teeth on its upper jaw.

His strength could never have been able to compete with such a monster. Yet, under the life-or-death situation, superhuman strength had exploded within him. His feet were propped up against the shell of the beast while his hands clung onto the fang no matter what. Like a prick of some kind, he used his body to block its path, preventing it from shrinking inside, from getting the chance to enjoy the delicacy.

Lan WangJi didn’t expect that he could catch up even under such circumstances. He was utterly shocked.

Wei WuXian was afraid that the beast might break out, either eating them alive or biting off Lan WangJi’s leg. His right hand continued to grab onto the upper fang while his left hand clenched onto a lower fang. His hands pushing in opposite directions at the same time, he forced strength into his arms as though his life depended on it, the vein at his forehead protruding so much that it seemed to be on the verge of bursting. His face was blood-red.

The two rows of fangs were already deep into Lan WangJi’s blood and bones. Yet, its jaws really were being slowly forced open!

Its jaws ceased to be able to clench its prey. Lan WangJi fell into the pool. Seeing that he was safe now, the almost deity-like strength of Wei WuXian disappeared at once. Unable to hold the beast’s jaws in place any longer, he suddenly let go. The jutting fangs from both rows bit down on each other, creating an echo as loud as the fissure of a boulder!

Wei WuXian had fallen into the water as well, landing beside Lan WangJi. With just a flip, he had positioned himself and, holding Lan WangJi in one hand, he swam with the other. In an instant, he had traveled a few feet forward, creating a long, sweeping wave within the pool. Rolling onto the shore, he threw Lan WangJi onto his back and began to run at once.

In prevention of the beast catching up with fury, he purposely chose to duck into thin holes that the turtle shell couldn’t pass through. Without having any rest, he didn’t even know how long he had run. He had finally slowed, after unable to hear anymore sounds.

His guard lowering, as soon as his speed decreased, Wei WuXian could smell the scent of blood. Feeling behind him backhandedly, his right hand was covered in a wet crimson.

Wei WuXian, Oh no, Lan Zhan’s injury will worsen again.

Feeling that they were probably far enough away for their location to be safe, Wei Wuxian spun around and laid Lan WangJi gently onto the ground.

His leg injury wasn’t completely healed to begin with, and now that it had been bitten by the beast’s fangs and soaked in water. Lan WangJi’s white clothes were dyed red by smears of blood everywhere. It could be seen with the physical eye, the rows and rows of punctures from the fangs. He couldn’t stand at all, falling to the ground as soon as he was let go of.

Wei WuXian bent down for a moment to inspect the wounds. Standing up again, he circled the cave a few times. A couple of shrubs could be found growing underground. Having finally found a few thicker, straighter branches, he rubbed the grime off the surface using a corner of his clothes and squatted before Lan WangJi, “You have a rope or a ribbon? Hey, your forehead ribbon might do the trick. Come on, take it off.”

Before Lan WangJi could respond, Wei WuXian quickly reached out and took off his forehead ribbon. With a flick of his wrist, he used the forehead ribbon as a bandage, straightened up Lan WangJi’s leg, and fixed it firmly onto the branch. Wangji immediately opened his eyes wide but didn't say anything.

Right then, two other people stumbled in, Wei Ying quickly recognized them as Jiang Cheng and Jin Zixuan. He also noticed how their eyes widened when they saw him touching Lan Zhan's ribbon, but they ultimately decided against saying anything when they saw the look in the Lan's eyes. Wei Ying decided not to pay them any mind and instead took out the perfume sachet he got from Mianmian.

“Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan, stop sleeping. Sit up for one second. There’s a perfume sachet here. See if there are any herbs that we can use.”

Dragging and tugging and refusing to give up, he eventually made Lan WangJi sit up, however exhausted he was. After looking through the herbs, they really did find a few that could stop blood or remove poison.

Wei WuXian spoke as he picked them out, “I can’t believe that the girl’s perfume sachet ended up so useful. I’ll have to thank her properly when we go back.”

Lan WangJi responded coldly, “Are you sure you do not mean to harass her properly?”

Wei WuXian, “What are you talking about? It doesn’t count as harassing if I’m the one doing it. It only counts if the one doing it looks as greasy as Wen Chao."

He then took care of Lan Zhan's wounds, with the help of two very quiet future sect leaders. And then he suddenly ripped off a part of his clothing, which made all of their eyes widen.

"What are you doing?" Jiang Cheng growled.

Wei Ying just ignored him and wanted to rip off yet another part to wrap around Lan Wangji's leg, when the Lan boy coughed up some blood.

Seeing this, Wei WuXian immediately squatted down and tapped a few of the acupoints on his chest, “Alright, the bad blood is out. No need to thank me!”

After the mouthful of blackish blood had been spat out, Lan WangJi immediately felt the pain and irritation within his chest lift away. Looking back on what Wei WuXian did, he finally realized.

As they climbed up Dusk-creek Mountain, Wei WuXian found that Lan WangJi looked worse than usual. It must’ve been that an energy of gloom had collected within his chest, so he purposely tried to scare and provoke him, so that he could let out the blood that he had been holding in.

"It’s very unhealthy for blood like this to be held in. It gets out with just a scare, though.”

As he spoke, the cold, underground air climbed up his spine, causing him to shudder. He immediately stood up, gathered a pile of dead leaves and branches, and drew the fire talisman on his palm again.

The leaves and branches crunched into flames, letting off a few sparks once in a while. Wei WuXian ground up the herbs that he had picked out. Ripping the trouser leg open, he sprinkled them evenly over the three hideous holes that had just barely ceased to bleed.

Suddenly, Lan WangJi raised his arm and stopped him. Wei WuXian asked, “What’s wrong?”

Without speaking a word, Lan WangJi took out some of the herbs from his palm and pressed them onto Wei Wuxian’s chest.

Wei WuXian’s entire body trembled as he exclaimed, “Ah!”

He had forgotten that there was a fresh wound on himself as well, created by the iron. It was also still bleeding and had also been soaked in water.

Lan WangJi took his hand away. Wei WuXian hissed a few times, then peeled away, bit by bit, the herbs that had been pressed onto his chest, tossing them onto Lan WangJi’s leg again, “Don’t mind me. I get hurt a lot, and I play in Lotus Lake as usual even when I’m hurt. I got used to it a long time ago. How many herbs can there be inside a small perfume sachet? There isn’t enough to begin with. I think that those three holes of yours need them more… Ah!”

Lan WangJi’s face was dark. He looked like he wanted to reply, but Jin Zixuan was faster than him, “If you know that it hurts, do not be so rash next time.”

Wei WuXian, “It’s not like I had any other choice, right? Do you think I enjoy being burned? Who would’ve known that Wang LingJiao is so heartless? She almost pressed the iron into the eye. MianMian is a girl, and quite a pretty girl, at that. If she was blind in an eye or such a thing gets onto her face, it wouldn’t be able to come off for the rest of her life. How bad would that be?”

Lan WangJi spoke in a thin voice, “The thing on your body right now will not be able to come off for the rest of your life either.”

Wei WuXian, “That’s different. It’s not on the face. And I’m a man—what am I scared of? In a man’s life, how can he not get a few wounds and earn a few scars?”

"You may be a man but you are still an-" Jin Zixuan started but immediately cut himself off, his eyes widening.

"A what?" Wei Ying raised an eyebrow at him.

How could he be so stupid? Jin Zixuan had almost forgotten that the boy didn't know he was an omega. He was glad that he remembered just in time before saying something wrong. But Wei Ying being Wei Ying, he quickly forgot about it and changed the topic.

“Now that the others escaped, it’d take them one or two days to go down the mountain. After they get down, they’d definitely return to wherever they live instead of reporting to the Wen Sect. But since their swords were taken, I don’t know how long it’d take for them to find help. I’d say that we’ll probably have to stay here underground for quite a while. We’d need to search for ways to solve a few issues... Although..."

They looked at him expectantly.

"Maybe... someone else would come to our help," he mumbled.

"... Who?" Jin Zixuan asked curiously.

"Wen Ning!"

And it made a lot of sense. Wen Ning and Wei Ying were claimed soulmates after all. Wen Ning would definitely hear from Wen Chao what had happened and his soulmate bond with Wei Ying would allow him to find him and the others.

After a pause, Wei Ying continued, “The good thing is that the monster stays in the pool and doesn’t chase after us. But the bad thing is also that it doesn’t come out. With it guarding the hole under the pool, we won’t be able to get out either.”

Lan WangJi, “It is perhaps not a monster. What does it look like, to you?”

Wei WuXian, “A tortoise!”

Lan WangJi, “There is one divine creature that takes on such a form.”

Wei WuXian, “Xuanwu?”

At this, the alphas exchanged serious looks.

“Of course it is not the proper Divine Xuanwu. Rather, it is a semi-completed result of failing to rise to divinity and being transformed into a yao. In other words, it is a deformed Divine Xuanwu.”


“I have read of it in an ancient text. Four hundred years ago, a ‘fake Xuanwu’ appeared and rampaged amid Qishan. It was large in size and consumed live humans. One cultivator named it the ‘Xuanwu of Slaughter’.”

“The creature that Wen Chao led us to hunt is a four-hundred-years-old beast—the Xuanwu of Slaughter?”

“Its size appears larger than what is recorded in the text, but it should be the one.”

“It’s been four hundred years already, so of course it has grown. Hadn’t the Xuanwu of Slaughter been killed back then?”

“No. A few cultivators had joined alliance and prepared to kill it, but on one winter day that year, there happened to be heavy snowfall, and the weather was unusually cold. Then, the Xuanwu of Slaughter disappeared and was never seen again. The book records that back then, whenever it appeared, the number of humans consumed ranged from hundreds to entire villages and cities. From the handful of times when it rampaged, it consumed at least five thousand alive.”

“Oh, so it overate.”

"Can you be serious for once?" Jiang Cheng sounded exasperated but everyone recognized the fondness in his eyes.

It was then quiet for quite a while, all of them just enjoying the warmth of Wei Ying's fire talismans and enjoying each other's presence.

"Lan Zhan." he said softly.


"Is... is anyone still there? In the Cloud Recesses? Your father? Your brother?"

It was quiet again.

"Father is almost gone. Brother is missing."

Zewu-Jun being missing was nothing new to them. But hearing that Qingheng-Jun was almost gone, was a shock. When they were going up the mountain, the disciple said that the Lan Sect’s leader was heavily injured, but he never thought that the injuries were so heavy that the leader was ‘almost gone’. Maybe Lan WangJi himself just found out about it in the past few days, receiving news that his father was dying. Although the Lan Sect’s leader was practicing secluded meditation most of the time, minding nothing out of his own world, he was still Lan WangJi’s father.

Instinctively, Wei Ying took Lan Zhan's hand which made his eyes widen yet again. If anyone knew how hard it was to lose one's parents, it was Wei Ying. So he silently comforted Lan Zhan, with Jiang Cheng and Jin Zixuan watching over both of them.

To lift the mood, him and Jiang Cheng had started fondly bickering with each other. Jin Zixuan had never had a brother. Sure, Jin Guangshan had countless illegitimate sons and daughters, but the concept of a real brother was foreign to him. The closest thing he had would be the bond he shared with Jin Zixun, even though it was in no way loving and they only got along because they had to. Although, he did remember thinking of Meng Yao as a brother and genuinely enjoying his company, but they didn't know each other for long and their bond was too new to actually refer to them as brothers, but they were getting there. As for Lan Wangji, he was used to having a brother. An older brother, who teased him and made fun of him, but also took care of him and protected him. So the interaction between the two of them made both boys nostalgic in different ways.

Both of them talked a lot about their home back in Lotus Pier.

"If you ever visit Lotus Pier, you have to visit us and try Shijie's Lotus Root and Pork Rib soup! It's the best thing in the whole world! Maybe she could even make one without the pork, so Lan Zhan can eat it too!" he exclaimed happily and made Lan Zhan's heart swell for being so considerate of his diet.

And Xue Yang came up at some point as well.

"I saved him from the street! If I hadn't run into him by accident, he would've turned out totally different." he now frowned.

"Maybe I would also know why I- why I don't know who I am... But that's a sob story for another day!" he laughed brightly.

And this is how they spent their days.

Bickering, laughing, sharing sweet moments. Some would even dare say, falling in love. Or at least some of them fell in love with a certain bright omega.

The Xuanwu of Slaughter had already dragged all of the corpses into its shell. The large, black shell floated in the water like a huge, impenetrable warship. In the beginning, heavy chewing noises often came from within. Later on, though, the noises ceased, replaced by what sounded like it was asleep and snoring. The snores were like roars of thunder.

The four had thought about sneaking underwater while the beast was asleep to find the hole where they could escape. However, they could only roam underwater for thirty minutes before their movements were noticed by the beast. And, although they had searched a few times, they couldn’t find the hole that Jiang Cheng had mentioned. Wei WuXian suspected that it might be covered up by a part of the beast’s body. Though he wanted to lure it out of the water again, the beast seemed as though it became tired after the big ruckus and didn’t want to move anymore.

They gathered all of the arrows, bows, and iron rods that lay scattered on the shore and took them back to count. There were over a hundred arrows, around thirty bows, and a little over ten iron rods.

This was already the fourth day.

Lan WangJi picked up a bow with his left hand, attentively examining the material. His right hand strummed across the bowstring. It somehow managed to create the sonorous clang of metal.

This was a weapon used by the cultivational world to hunt down beasts and demons. The material used for the bows and arrows were nothing of the norm. Lan WangJi broke off all of the bowstrings from the bows and tied them from top to bottom into a long chord. With both hands, he stretched the chords taut and immediately flicked his wrists. The chord shot out as though it was lightning. A flash of white light flared across and a rock ten feet away was smashed into pieces.

Lan WangJi retrieved the chord. The bowstring broke with a sharp cry through the air.

Wei WuXian, “Chord Assassination?”

Chord Assassination was one of the techniques unique to the GusuLan Sect. It was created by and passed down from the granddaughter of the sect’s founder, Lan An—the third sect leader, Lan Yi. Lan Yi was also the only female sect leader of the Lan Sect, cultivating with the guqin. Her guqin had seven strings that could be joined and dismantled within moments. The seven strings were arranged from the most slender to the thickest. One moment she’d be playing noble melodies over them with her soft, fair fingers, and one moment later they’d be able to cut through flesh and bone as though cutting through mud, transformed into lethal weapons within her hands.

Lan Yi created Chord Assassination originally to assassinate dissidents, which was why she was often criticized. The GusuLan Sect was also quite ambivalent on its comments of such a sect leader. Undeniably, though, Chord Assassination was one of the most powerful, most versatile fighting techniques of the GusuLan Sect.

Lan WangJi, “Breach through within.”

The turtle shell was as solid as a fortress. Its surface was extremely hard, seemingly impossible to penetrate. But the more that this was true, the weaker the parts that it hid within its shell could turn out to be. Wei WuXian had also thought of this throughout the past few days. He knew what Lan WangJi meant.

What he knew with greater clarity was their current situation. After three days of rest, their physical conditions had just reached their peak. If they waited any longer, however, it’d begin to decline. And, the fourth day had already passed, and help still hadn’t come.

Instead of waiting for their death, it’d be much better to put up one last fight with all that they had. If the two could kill the Xuanwu of Slaughter together, they’d be able to escape from the hole under the pool.

Wei WuXian, “I agree as well. We should attack from the inside. But from what I’ve heard of your sect’s Chord Assassination technique, it wouldn’t be the most useful it can be if it’s inside the cramped environment inside the shell. And your leg injury still hasn’t healed yet. It probably wouldn’t be as put to good use as usual, would it?”

This was the truth, and Lan WangJi understood. All of them understood that forcing themselves to do things that they weren’t able to do would be useless except for dragging others down.

Wei WuXian, “Listen to me.”

A small half of the Xuanwu’s shell was still above the surface of the water.

Its head, its tail, and all four of its limbs had shrunken inside. There was a large hole in the front, and five smaller holes lined up all around. It looked like an island or a small mountain, its body black and uneven, covered in moss and even long, dark green algae that hung down.

Without making a noise, carrying on his back a bundle of arrows and iron rods, Wei WuXian dove into the area before the head-hole of the Xuanwu of Slaughter as though he was a thin, silver fish.

The smaller half of the hole was submerged in the water of the pool, so Wei WuXian swum over along the flow of the water. After he passed through the hole, he flipped into the inside of the shell. Wei WuXian landed on both feet with a thud, as if he stepped into a thick layer of rotten mud mixed with water. The stench was so overwhelming that he almost cursed.

The stench was rancid though sickeningly saccharine. It reminded Wei WuXian of a fat dead rat that he had seen beside one of Yunmeng’s lakes. He pinched his nose, What a hell of a place… Good thing that I didn’t let Lan Zhan come in here. With such dislike towards even the water used to wash clothes, wouldn’t he start throwing up the second he smelled this? Even if he didn’t, he’d definitely pass out. Same with Jin Zixuan. Even though he proved to be way better than I thought he was, he was still spoiled when he was a child and this would certainly make him faint as well.

Gentle snores came from the Xuanwu of Slaughter. Wei WuXian walked while holding his breath, his feet sinking in deeper and deeper. After three steps, the sludge-like substance had already risen past his knees. Within the mud and the water, there seemed to be a few lumps as well. Wei WuXian bent down slightly and felt around. His hand suddenly came into contact with something fuzzy.

It seemed to be human hair.

Wei WuXian took his hand away. He knew that this was probably one of the people dragged inside by the Xuanwu of Slaughter. Feeling around some more, he found a boot. The half of a leg within the boot had already rotted to a point of being half-flesh and half-bone.

It seemed that the beast didn’t take to cleanliness at all. The leftovers that it either didn’t finish or couldn’t finish leaked out from between its fangs and into its shell. The more it ate, the more there were. Throughout the hundreds of years, it had piled into a thick layer. And, as of the moment, Wei WuXian was standing right amid the corpse sludge composed of broken limbs.

After crawling around for the past few days, he was already so grimy that it was painful to look at. Wei WuXian didn’t care at all that he’d become even filthier. He carelessly wiped his hands on his trousers and continued to walk.

The snores of the beast sounded louder and louder. The waves of air became heavier, and the corpse sludge under his feet became thicker. Finally, his hand came into contact with the beast’s rough skin. He felt around as he slowly walked forward, along the skin. As he had expected, scales covered the head and the neck, but beneath that was a thick, uneven surface. The deeper he went, the thinner and more delicate the skin became.

At this point, the sludge had already risen to Wei WuXian’s waist. Most of the corpses here hadn’t been finished yet, the bodies left remaining in larger pieces. It shouldn’t be called a corpse sludge anymore, but rather a corpse mound. Wei WuXian reached behind his back, preparing to take out the arrows and the rods, but suddenly found that the bundle of rods seemed to be stuck to something and couldn’t be removed.

He clenched the handles of the rods and finally pulled it out, using all of his strength. At the same time, the front of the rods took out something with it from within the mound, letting out a soft clang.

Wei WuXian froze at once.

A few moments had passed, and no noise came from around him. The beast hadn’t lashed out either. He finally let out a breath of relief, The rods seemed to be stuck to something. Judging from the sound that it made, it’s also made of iron? And it’s quite long. Let’s see if it can be useful. I’m short of something to use as weapon. It’d be great if it’s a high level spiritual sword!

He reached out and felt for the object. Its shape was long, though it was dull and covered in rust.

The second that he grabbed it, shrill screams sounded within Wei WuXian’s ears.

It was as if hundreds of thousands of people were wailing their lungs out in desperation right into his ears. Immediately, cold air travelled up his arm through his entire body. With a shiver, Wei WuXian pulled his hand away, What is this? Its energy of resentment is so strong!

Suddenly, his surroundings lit up. A light, orange glow casted out Wei WuXian’s shadow, illuminating a pitch-black sword made of iron in front of him. Slantedly, the sword pierced through where the heart of his shadow was.

This was the inside the shell of the Xuanwu of Slaughter—how could there be any light?

Wei WuXian spun around. As he had thought, a large pair of golden eyes was inches away from him.

He had just realized that the thundering snores had disappeared, while the orange glow was coming right out of the pair of Xuanwu eyes!

The Xuanwu of Slaughter flashed its crisscrossed fangs, an arrangement of black and yellow, and roared through its open mouth.

Wei WuXian was standing just between its fangs. Attacked face-front by the waves of the roar, his ears felt as though they were about to explode and even his entire body began to hurt. Watching as it it lunged toward him, Wei WuXian stuffed the bundle of iron rods into its mouth. Both the timing and position was just right. Not a second over or an inch under, it locked into the upper and lower jaws of the beast!

While the beast was unable to close its mouth, Wei WuXian stabbed an entire bundle of arrows into the most delicate part of its skin. Although the arrows were thin, Wei WuXian had tied five into one bundle and stuck it so deep into the beast’s flesh so that even the feather fletching had sunk in. It was as though they were a poisoned needle. Under the extreme pain, the Xuanwu forced its mouth shut so much that all of the iron rods between its fangs curved. The half-a-dozen straight rods were immediately pressed into the shape of a hook by its intense bite. Wei WuXian stuck a few more bundles of arrows into its soft skin. Ever since it was born, the beast had never been at so great of a disadvantage. It was mad with pain. Its snake-like body writhed as hard as it could within its shell and its head smashed around as well, causing the mound of corpses to churn with the force of a landslide. Wei WuXian was almost entirely submerged in the rancid limbs. The Xuanwu of Slaughter widened its eyes, magnifying the hideous yellow. Mouth opening, it seemed as though it wanted to swallow everything up. The corpse mound slid toward its mouth at the speed of a flood. Wei WuXian was struggling, swimming against the current when he suddenly grabbed onto an iron sword. His heart sank. The piercing wails sounded within his ears again.

Wei WuXian’s body was already sucked into the mouth of the Xuanwu. Seeing that the beast was about to close its mouth, sword in hand, Wei WuXian used the same technique again and stuck it between the jaws of the beast.

The internal organs of hundred-year-old beasts like this one were usually capable of erosion. If one were to be swallowed, they’d melt into a wisp of smoke in an instant!

Wei WuXian grabbed firmly onto the sword. Like a pick, he was fixed to its mouth, unable to go either way. The Xuanwu of Slaughter slammed around for a while. It couldn’t swallow the pick no matter what, unable to close its mouth, but it didn’t want to loosen its mouth either. It finally shot out of its shell!

It was afraid of how Wei WuXian stung it while it was within its shell. As though it wanted to escape, it tried as hard as it could to squeeze its body out, so hard that the delicate flesh that had been hidden under its armor was revealed as well. And Lan WangJi had already positioned the chord before the hole of its head. He had been waiting since long ago. As soon as the Xuanwu rushed outside, he pulled the cord tight and strummed across it. The bowstring vibrated and cut into its flesh!

The beast could neither go in nor come out, suppressed by the two’s attacks. It was a deformed beast and not truly divine. It never had much intelligence to begin with. Under the pain, it had gone completely insane, waving its head and its tail as it rampaged within the dark water. It tumbled inside a large whirlpool, stirring up crashing waves. But, no matter what it did, one of the two stuck firmly to its mouth so that it couldn’t eat anything while the other used a chord to strangle its thin vital region, cutting into it inch by inch. As the cut deepened, its bleeding also worsened!

Lan WangJi pulled tightly on the chord, refusing to loosen up for even a split second. He held for six hours.

Six hours later was when the Xuanwu of Slaughter finally ceased to move.

The vital region of the beast had almost been parted with the rest of its body due to Lan WangJi’s chord. Having overexerted his strength, his own palms were also covered in blood and gashes. The titan of a shell floated above the water. The pool had already been dyed a purple shade of red visible to the naked eye. The odor of blood was so thick that it could be mistaken for a pond from purgatory.

With a plop, Lan WangJi leaped into water and swam toward its head. The Xuanwu’s eyes were wide open. Its pupils had already dimmed, yet its mouth still bit down tightly.

All three alphas screamed at the same time, “Wei Ying!”

No sound came from within the beast’s mouth.

They reached out at once, grabbing the two rows of fangs and forcing them apart. Swimming in water without anything that they could use to support themselves, they could only open them after straining for quite a while. Inside, they saw a black iron sword stuck within the mouth of the beast. Both the tip and the handle had pierced deep into its flesh. The blade had already been forced into a curvature.

Wei WuXian’s entire body was curled up in the shape of a shrimp. Head facing down, his hands still clenched onto the not-so-sharp blade of the sword. He had almost slid into the throat of the Xuanwu. Jin Zixuan grabbed his lapel at once and pulled him out. As soon as the Xuanwu’s jaws loosened, the iron sword slipped into the water and sunk to the bottom.

Eyes tightly shut, Wei WuXian lay limply over Jin Zixuan’s body, one arm around his shoulder. Holding his waist, Jin Zixuan floated over the bloody water with him and was soon joined by Lan Wangji and Jiang Cheng, “Wei Ying!”

His hands trembled slightly. Just as he was about to touch Wei WuXian’s cheek, Wei WuXian suddenly shivered and woke up, “What’s happening? What’s happening? Is it dead? Is it dead?!”

He flopped lightly, causing both of their bodies to sink deeper into the water. Jin Zixuan’s arm tightened around his waist, “It is!”

Wei WuXian’s gaze was blank, as though he had trouble realizing what was going on. He only replied after thinking for a while, “It’s dead? It’s dead… Great! It’s dead. Earlier on it kept on screaming, screaming as it rolled around, and then I fainted. Oh right, the hole! The hole underwater. Quick, let’s go. Let’s get out through the hole.”

Lan WangJi sensed that his behavior was strange, “What is wrong?”

Wei WuXian was suddenly energetic, “Nothing! Let’s get out as soon as possible. There’s no time to lose.”

There was indeed no time to lose. They nodded and Lan Wangji firmly told him, “I will take you.”

Wei WuXian, “There’s no need…”

Yet, Lan WangJi’s right arm was still wrapped like an iron belt around his waist, stating in an irrefutable tone, “Breathe in.”

Going underwater in such a daze was probably not the best idea. Wei WuXian didn’t like to force himself, either, and nodded. They all took in a deep breath and dove into the water.

A moment later, two splashes burst from the purple-red water. The two slunk out again.

Wei WuXian spat out a mouthful of the bloody water and wiped his face, covering it with the purplish-red. He looked even worse than before, “What’s wrong?! Why isn’t there a hole?!”

Jiang Cheng had indeed said that there was a hole in the bottom of the pool able to let half a dozen people pass through at once, and the other disciples did indeed already escape from the hole. Wei WuXian had originally thought that it couldn’t be found because it was blocked by the Xuanwu’s body, but the corpse of the Xuanwu was already in a different place, yet there was still no hole where its body used to be.

Water dripped down Lan WangJi’s wet hair. He didn’t answer. They all looked at each other and all thought of a daunting possibility.

It was likely that… Under the intense pain, when the Xuanwu of Slaughter was madly waving its limbs, it either shook the underwater rocks or kicked into a certain place, coincidentally causing the only hole that they could escape from… to be blocked.

Wei WuXian struggled out of Lan WangJi’s arm. He plunged into the water. Jiang Cheng followed. Yet, after searching for a long while, they still couldn’t find any holes. Not even one that could let a single person through.

Wei WuXian, “What do we do now?”

After a while of silence, Lan WangJi replied, “Let us go up first.”

Wei WuXian waved his hands, “… Let’s go up.”

They were drained of all energy. They swam slowly toward the shore. When they rose out of the water, they were covered in a bloody shade of purple. Wei WuXian took off his clothes. Wringing them dry and flinging them around in the air, he couldn’t help but curse, “Are we being toyed with or what? I was thinking that if nobody came to help us, we wouldn’t be able to kill it even if we wanted to, and that was why I went for it. And now, we finally have it dead, and the son-of-a-bitch made the hole collapse. Fuck!”

Hearing the ‘fuck’, Lan WangJi’s brows twitched. He wanted to say something but held it in.

Wei WuXian flung his clothes around as he cursed. Suddenly, his legs gave out. Jiang Chegn, standing closest to him, lunged forward in time to catch him. Leaning against his hand, Wei WuXian spoke, “It’s fine, it’s fine. I used up all my energy. Oh, right, Zixuan, did you see that I was holding a sword when I was in its mouth? Where did the sword go?”

“It sank underwater. Is there anything about it?”

“It sank? Nevermind, then.”

When he was clutching onto the sword, he kept on hearing a deluge of screams beside his ears. His body felt cold and his head spun. The iron sword must’ve been something special. The Xuanwu of Slaughter had consumed at least five thousand people. When the people were dragged into its shell, body still intact, there had to be some that were still alive. The sword might have belonged to a cultivator who had been eaten. It had been hidden for at least four hundred years within the corpse mound of the shell. Tainted with the pain and resentment of countless humans, both dead and alive, it had heard their screams.

Wei WuXian had wanted to keep the sword and examine the iron properly. Now that it had sunk, however, and they were stuck here, unable to escape, it seemed appropriate to let the matter drop. If he mentioned it too much and the others picked up on what he was getting at, they’d be at odds with each other all over again. Wei WuXian waved his hands, There really isn’t anything good about this, is there?

He continued to drag his legs forward. The others followed behind him in silence. A few steps later, Wei WuXian’s legs gave out again.

And Jiang Cheng caught him again. This time, he put one hand against his forehead. After contemplating for a few moments, he spoke, “Wei Wuxian, you… are so warm.”

Wei WuXian put his hand to his forehead as well, “ChengCheng, you’re also really warm.”

Lan WangJi took his hand away, speaking in a tepid tone, “That is because your hand is cold.”

Wei WuXian, “I think I do feel a bit dizzy.”

About four to five days ago, he put all of the herbs in the perfume sachet onto Lan WangJi’s leg. He only wiped the brand mark on his chest a few times. In the past few days, he hadn’t rested well, and he had just been rummaging through the corpse mound and the pool water. His injury had finally worsened.

Wei WuXian had a fever.

After managing for a while, Wei WuXian felt dizzier and dizzier. He couldn’t walk any longer, so he decided to just sit down where he was, musing, “How could I get a fever so easily? I haven’t gotten a fever in years.”

Neither of them felt like expressing their opinion on the ‘so easily’ part of his words, “Lie down.”

Wei WuXian did as he was told. Jin Zixuan and Jiang Cheng took his hand and began to pass him spiritual energy. Lan Wangji wanted to help as well, but he knew that it would be unwise since he was still injured himself and needed the spiritual energy for his own healing.

Though he had been lying for a while, Wei WuXian soon sat up again. Lan WangJi told him, “Lie down properly.”

Wei WuXian drew his hand back, “You don’t need to give me any.”

Lan WangJi grabbed his hand again and repeated, “Lie down properly.”

But, even when lying down, Wei WuXian didn’t like loneliness. For him, it didn't make sense, but for the others, it was apparent that his omega didn't enjoy the loneliness. Soon afterward, he began to complain, “It’s too hard, it’s too hard.”

“What do you want?”

“I want to lie somewhere else.”

“Where would you want to lie, at such a place?”

“One of you, let me borrow your lap for a while, won’t you?”

"I will!" all three of them said at the same time and then glared at each other, which made Wei Ying giggle.

"I will just borrow all of you then." he said.

"You are delirious.”

Perhaps he was indeed delirious. Not long after, Wei WuXian had fallen asleep.

When he was sleeping, he felt that his lying position wasn’t too bad. It seemed that he really was lying on someone’s lap. A cold hand rested over his forehead. It felt quite comfortable. Happily, he rolled around as much as he wanted to, and there wasn’t anybody who scolded him. When he rolled onto the ground, his head was even gently stroked before he was picked up and put onto the lap again. And not only the lap he was lying on was comfortable. He felt multiple pairs of strong arms around him, which made him sigh in content. He didn't notice it, but he was unconsciously burrowing his nose in the clothes of the people around him, inhaling their scents. And he also didn't notice that he was being scented, by all three of them.

A while later, he woke up again and started complaining about being bored. So all of them tried to impress him in their own ways. Jiang Cheng tried to talk to him about Lotus Pier again, but Wei Ying already knew all of those stories. Jin Zixuan told him about all the precious things he owned back in Lanling and subtly dropped hints that he would like to gift some of them to Wei Ying, but he obviously didn't notice it due to his oblivious nature. And Lan Zhan awkwardly tried to tell him about his favorite music pieces. Which did interest Wei Ying, but he did not understand much about music, much less of a guqin.

"Lan Zhan. How about you just sing one of your favorite songs for me?" he asked quietly.

The Second Jade of Gusu Lan was stunned for a second and looked at the other alphas in something Wei Ying recognized as shyness, even though the other two didn't notice the change in expression.

"Ah, Lan Zhan. It's fine. You don't have to if you don't want to." he smiled, even though they could all hear the disappointment in his voice.

Jin Zixuan and Jiang Cheng glared at him for making Wei Ying sad and Lan Zhan wanted to punch himself for doing so. So he quietly started humming a song, which made Wei Ying's sad grimace turn into a genuine smile. It also made him purr unconsciously and bury himself in deeper in the arms of the three alphas, who embraced his every whim.

They all watched him sleeping quietly, with fond looks on their faces.

"I hope he finds out who he is soon. I'm not sure how much longer I can wait." Jin Zixuan broke the silence, the other two agreeing quietly.

When Wei Ying woke up again, he lay in the lap of a person with red-white robes and saw people with different colored robes standing in front of him. He blinked a few times, waiting for his view to adjust. Then he looked around and recognized the three people he had spent the last days with as well as-

"A-Ning!" he squealed in happiness while throwing his arms around his alpha.

Said alpha smiled shyly and returned the hug.

Wei Ying had been right after all. Wen Ning had come to save them.

After being saved, they all escaped back to their own sects. Wei Ying wasn't sure where Lan Wangji would go, but he was too scared and embarrassed to ask, after all the cuddling he had pushed on the boy who usually didn't enjoy physical contact.

But back in Yunmeng, another tragedy was waiting for them.

Chapter Text

When Wei Ying and Jiang Cheng arrived back in Yunmeng, they were greeted by their parents and their sister who welcomed them with relieved looks on their faces. Wei Ying was immediately brought to the infirmary and they took care of his wounds for him, with Jiang Cheng watching over him and making sure he would be okay.

Since Wei Ying kept on whining about being bored, Jiang Yanli made it her goal to spend as much time as possible with her adoptive brother, often making his favorite Lotus Root and Pork Rib soup for him, which he accepted with bright smiles and thankful words.

But deep down, they all knew this was only the calm before the storm. Something was coming.

And that something arrived a few weeks later, at night, so that nobody would notice anything.

A person with red-white colored robes sneaked into Lotus Pier and quietly (or at least they tried to) looked around until they found the room they were looking for. Wei Wuxian's room.

When the person discovered the room of the person they were looking for, they smirked and went in. Before Wei Wuxian could even notice what was happening, someone had pressed a hand over his mouth to prevent him from screaming and pulled him after him to the ancestry hall of Lotus Pier. Wei Wuxian was awake by now and kept struggling to be let go. He managed to bite into the other's hands, which made him screech in surprise but he didn't let go.

All the commotion had woken up the other residents of Lotus Pier, who were now rushing to get to the ancestry hall. While waiting for them to arrive, the red-white robed boy sneered at the boy who kept squirming and then forcefully started removing Wei Ying's robes. When the silver-eyed boy realized what was happening, his eyes widened and he started struggling and fighting even more, but the other boy had used a special array to temporarily enhance his strength by a lot and even though Wei Ying was incredibly strong, as long as he was unable to use his spirit animal's powers, he was useless in this particular fight.

So when Wei Ying finally realized there was no escape, his eyes started tearing up and he was close to a panic attack, when finally the other residents of Lotus Pier arrived. Jiang Fengmian, Yu Ziyuan, and Jiang Yanli looked ready for a fight but Wei Ying didn't immediately notice them. The first one whose eyes he met, was Jiang Cheng, who looked more furious than Wei Wuxian had ever seen him before, which said a lot. Behind his immediate family stood a few of their disciples and servants who came to help as well.

When everyone saw what was going on, they looked panicked yet even more furious than before. How dared the man touch their Wei Ying? Just when they were about to go and attack the man, they realized they had stepped into an array which prevented them from moving any further. All they could do was watch the man smirk at them and then continue undressing Wei Ying.

"How does it feel? Being humiliated not only in front of your immediate family but also the ancestors of a clan you are only a part of because you are the son of a previous servant?" he laughed at the tears that welled up in Wei Ying's eyes.

Now Wei Ying was even more panicked. There was no way out of this and there was too little time to think of a solution.

"I don't know what your secondary gender or your spirit animal is, but by the end of this, you will be my omega and my bitch. That's what you were destined to be." he laughed again.

By now, he had removed Wei Ying's robes and everyone could see his naked body, along with the Wen brand on his chest.

"At first I was very sad that you had taken the brand instead, I thought it would ruin your beauty. But seeing you now, it feels good seeing my own sect's brand on your chest. It shows that you are my property."

"Wen Chao." Jiang Cheng growled out, trying to walk forward, but the array still kept him from doing so.

"Aww, did I upset you by humiliating your brother like this? Or is it that you want to be the only one to call him such names?" he faked pity before returning to the smirk he wore earlier.

He then focused on Wei Ying again. Just when he gripped the boy's shoulders even tighter and was about to start, he hissed and was thrown back a few meters. Confused, he looked around, before he noticed what had happened. For some reason, the boy's skin had gotten incredibly hot from one second to another and then he was thrown back by some kind of light that was now nowhere to be found. He glared at the boy who looked just as confused and shocked as he was just seconds before. But before Wen Chao could grab Wei Ying again, he felt that the additional strength he had gotten through the array, had faded. He was more than annoyed by this, so he immediately called for the other Wen disciples that were stationed a few minutes from Lotus Pier.

Wei Ying immediately scrambled up in fear and put his robes back on, trying to mentally prepare himself for a fight, but everyone could see that he was out of it. Jiang Cheng kept looking at him in worry. If he could, he would rush to his omega, scoop him up in his arms and not let go until he felt that the boy would be okay. And then he remembered a particular ability his spirit animal had given him and was relieved. Before anyone noticed, he had disappeared below the surface and a few seconds later reappeared on the other side of the array, with a newly created tunnel right beside him. This had also successfully destroyed the array which allowed the others to escape as well.

While he rushed to Wei Ying to protect him, he forgot to check his surroundings. He saw Wei Ying's eyes widen and he saw him opening his mouth as if to warn him when it happened. He felt a cold shower run down his back and froze in his step. He looked back and when he saw Wen Zhuliu behind him, looking stoic, he knew what had happened. He immediately went down to his knees and tried to re-connect with his golden core, but failed. Yet he didn't have time to mourn his golden core since the first wave of Wen soldiers came around. He quickly scrambled back up and tried to fight, even without his golden core. He managed fine, but he could feel himself getting weaker and more exhausted the more he used Sandu.

He also faintly heard his other family members fighting. Wei Wuxian was using his sword and sometimes quickly switched to his bow if he saw someone far away who needed help. Yu Ziyuan was whipping everything around her with Zidian. Jiang Fengmian fought alongside his wife. Jiang Yanli was using her butterflies to distract the Wen Soldiers so that the others could kill them more easily. The other disciples fought alongside them. Sometimes, he could hear people hiss out the same way Wen Chao had earlier, indicating that they had also gotten hit by one of the mysterious light balls. He decided not to question it for now and just appreciated it. Without them, they would probably have lost the fight. But with them, they could all see the Wen disciples getting tired, one after another losing their lives or admitting defeat. By the end, the only ones still standing where Wen Zhuliu and Wen Chao himself, who cowardly hid behind the Core Melting Hand.

When he saw Wen Chao trying to sneak out, he tried to tunnel over again to stop him, but he was already too weakened by the excessive use of his powers despite just losing his golden core. So he could only watch as Wen Zhulliu and Wen Chao escaped, with the rest of the still alive Wen disciples hot on their heels. As soon as they were gone, Jiang Cheng dropped to his knees. But he quickly stood up again when he noticed Wei Wuxian's face going blank as if he were trapped in a traumatic experience. Jiang Cheng quickly realized that he must be thinking of what had almost happened to him. So he rushed over and hugged the boy tightly yet softly, as to not scare him or surprise him. He was pleasantly surprised when the boy hesitantly returned his hug. If he felt the tears wetting his robes, he didn't say anything.

Wei Ying was then brought to the infirmary, yet again. Word about the attempted massacre of Lotus Pier got around to the rest of the sects and many sent their support, especially the Meishan Yu sect. When Lan Wangji, Jin Zixuan, and Wen Qionglin heard, they wanted to go and check up on their omega but were unable to for different reasons. Wangji because he still had to look for his brother while keeping track of the still alive members of the Gusu Lan sect. Jin Zixuan because his father was currently out on a trip, Jin Zixuan assumed he was whoring around again, so he was the one who had to take care of the sect instead. And Wen Qionglin because he was ashamed of what his own sect had done and feared that Wei Wuxian would think he was involved.

But despite everyone's efforts to speak to the boy, he refused to let anybody speak with him that wasn't Jiang Cheng or Jiang Yanli. And even then, he refused to talk and just simply listened to them talking about what was going on. What they didn't know, was that he was planning something.

A few months ago when he was having a pleasant conversation with Wen Ning, he briefly mentioned something about his sister always being busy since she was working on a thesis about the transfer of Golden Cores. Wei Ying knew that she was a genius and was probably finished by now, so he decided to act as soon as possible. He left the infirmary at night, used special needles Wen Qing had sent him in advance on Jiang Cheng and carried him to a place where he had planned to meet Wen Qing and Wen Ning, which was arranged through an exchange of letters. When he got there, both of them were already waiting for him with concerned looks on their faces.

"Wei Ying!" Wen Qionglin immediately rushed to him but hesitated to touch him, since he still felt guilty.

So Wei Wuxian was the one to pull him into a warm hug, quietly breathing in his alpha's scent, which immediately helped him calm down and made him forget the trauma for a few seconds.

"We deeply apologize for what our sect tried to do to yours and... what they almost did to you." Wen Qing bowed deeply while Wen Ning and Wei Ying were still hugging.

"It's fine." he gave a small smile.

"It is unforgivable. Yet I hope you know that our branch of the family did not take any part in this and we all respect you very much since you are our A-Ning's- soulmate." she decided to say.

"Of course. I don't associate what they did with your family branch," he reassured, which relieved the siblings greatly.

"So... are you- sure you want to do this?" Wen Qing said hesitantly.

"I have never been as sure about something. I am the one at fault for A-Cheng losing his Golden Core so I should be the one to fix things."

"But... you just went through a trauma. And if you lose your golden core now, your mind might be scarred even deeper. And that is if the operation is successful in the first place."

It was silent for a moment.

"How much of a chance of me surviving and it working is there?"


"Then it's worth it. Please, transfer my golden core to A-Cheng." he pleaded and bowed.

So Wen Qing reluctantly agreed. While doing the operation, he kept screaming in pain and pleading for help. The only reason why he was kept sane, was because Wen Ning was holding him in his arms and kept scenting him to ease his mind. Wen Ning was also the one who brought him and Jiang Cheng back to Lotus Pier, where he and Wei Ying reluctantly parted. Wen Ning would've preferred staying with his omega, if just for a while to make sure he would be okay. But Wei Ying assured him that everything would be fine, so he reluctantly left. Wei Ying brought Jiang Cheng into his room, removed the needles and then left Lotus Pier again to get the basket of herbs Wen Qing had given him, that would calm his mind. But when he left his home, he was suddenly snatched and had a deja vu, reliving the same scene as a few weeks prior where Wen Chao had almost violated him. He easily recognized the familiar red-white robes and frowned when he realized it was Wen Chao again who was dragging him around against his will.

But this time, it was only Wen Chao and Wen Zhuliu.

"So bitch. Since you refused to do it the easy way last time, I will just get rid of you in a way that's way more fun. Well, for me at least."

At first Wei Ying didn't understand, but when he spotted where he was being taken to, his eyes widened and he tried to look for a way out but if he struggled he would fall into his inevitable death. So he admitted defeat. He would land down there, either way, there was no other option.

"I would say it was nice knowing you, but in the end, it won't make a difference to my life if I knew you or not." he shrugged and then Wei Ying was dropped.

He screamed in fear and was ready to welcome death, but that didn't happen. He was caught right before he landed on the ground. He tried to look around and see what had caught him, but the only thing he could see were shadows and tons of resentful energy. He was confused but also fascinated with it. Why had the resentful energy caught him? Wouldn't it have been more plausible for it to push him even further to his death? To drive him crazy? Why had it protected him?

He didn't know. He wasn't sure if he wanted to know. But what he did know, was that he wouldn't be able to survive here for long if he didn't find anything to drink or eat and a place to hide from the resentful energy. Even though it had protected him once, he couldn't be sure if it would continue to do so.

He had been in the burial mounds for a while already and since he was there, many things had changed. The once dead ground was now fertile and could technically be used to plant things, but he refused to do so since he didn't want to be stuck down there for longer. The resentful energy had been channeled to certain places so that he was safe down there and one was able to walk freely. The once dead flowers, herbs, trees, and other plants had slowly come to life again and were even edible. The rivers that were once full of blood and more resentful energy, had been filtered and one could drink it without throwing up. The dark and lonely cave he had found a few days after being thrown into the burial mounds, was now decorated with various plants on the outside and was furnished with a few objects on the inside. He had made sure to have a bed, a desk, and a few shelves so he could put notes and objects he invented there. And all in all, the burial mounds were way less lonely and scary than before, since animals had started residing there again after the resentful energy had been controlled and plants had started to grow again.

He didn't know what he did to receive such a blessing, but he was glad. Yes, he would leave the burial mounds after achieving his goal, but he was still glad that he was able to live in a decent environment while he lived there.

And his goal? Well, first of all, finding out why the resentful energy listened to him like he were their master. Second of all, learn to cultivate resentful energy. Third of all, make progress with his spirit animal.

He had no success with his first goal. He just knew that the resentful energy obeyed his every command, and for now, he was satisfied with that knowledge. He had more success with his second goal and was now able to cultivate the resentful energy instead of the spiritual one he was now unable to use due to losing his golden core. He wasn't quite sure if what he accomplished with his spirit animal could be called progress, but he did finally come closer to the truth.

He started doing experiments. Writing down every possible ability one could have and test out if he was able to do it. He couldn't explain it, but he felt like cultivating resentful energy had somehow helped his progress, but he couldn't explain why. It was hard to describe how the resentful energy felt but the closest thing was probably to compare it to fuel. The resentful energy was the substance that made using his spirit animal's powers possible. And he noticed that the longer he practiced cultivating it and the more experience he got, the more familiar he got with the resentful energy, the better he was able to communicate with his spirit animal.

Before being thrown into the burial mounds, he had rare moments when he felt like he knew what his spirit animal was feeling, but he was never too sure. But the more time he spent cultivating resentful energy, the more often he had the impression of knowing the animal's emotions. After a while, he was sure of what his animal felt for most of the time. And after that, he sometimes heard quiet words. At first, he thought he was just going crazy, but after a while, he realized that his spirit animal slowly developed the ability to directly communicate with him. He had never felt such joy until the moment he finally realized this. He still didn't know what his animal was or what its name was, for that he would have to cultivate the energy even longer. But for now, he was satisfied with being able to communicate with the animal. And based on the abilities he had started practicing, he was sure that he had to be something relating to fire. He thought of a fox, of a dragon or a lizard, but they all didn't quite sound right in his head. So he stopped thinking of the exact type of spirit animal he had.

Instead, he continued practicing his abilities and cultivating resentful energy. The more he did, the better his mentality got and three months after being thrown into the burial mounds, he felt that he was finally strong enough (mentally and physically) to leave the burial mounds and face the trauma he had gotten over within the last three months.

When he left the burial mounds, the first thing he did was literally facing his trauma. He quickly heard about the sunshot campaign and was proud of the other sects for finally speaking out against the Wens, though he hoped that they wouldn't hurt innocent Wens, such as Wen Ning's and Wen Qing's branch of the family. It was pretty easy to figure out where Wen Chao and Wen Zhuliu were located at the moment and he traveled there as soon as he could.

When he arrived there, he could hear voices from the inside.

"Where is he?" he hears someone growl and his eyes widened in surprise when he recognized the voice.

It was Lan Wangji. And he was literally growling. That was probably the angriest he had ever heard the other man and he couldn't help but picture how he would look. Wei Ying would bet all his money on the fact that he still looked as ethereal and serene as ever, even when angry.

"I don't know what you mean." a few months ago, his blood would've run cold at Wen Chao's voice, but the burial mounds had helped him heal.

"Where is Wei Ying?" the boy was surprised when he heard his name being said by another familiar person, Jiang Cheng.

"Wouldn't you like to know?" Wen Chao laughed.

"Wen Chao, please-" this was the third person Wei Ying recognized and his eyes widened, even more, when he realized it was Wen Ning.

"You, be quiet. You betrayed the Wen sect the moment you decided to look for Wei Wuxian with these three pathetic people."

Three? Who else was there beside Lan Zhan, Jiang Cheng, and Wen Ning?

"Cut the crap and tell us where he is." an exhausted yet annoyed voice demanded and Wei Ying quickly recognized him as Jin Zixuan.

Now, these four were an odd pair. He had never thought he would see them together, willingly.

"You really want to know? Okay, then. I threw him into the burial mounds."

It was quiet for a moment before Wei Ying heard someone choke on air. Probably Wen Chao.

"Are you lying to us?" Jiang Cheng sounded like he wanted it to be a lie.

"No," he screeched out, "I threw him there. Three months ago. He's surely dead by now."

He heard the Wen boy being dropped to the ground and then there was a deathly silence. He felt like this was the right moment to make a dramatic entrance.

"Bitch you thought."

Everyone turned to him in shock. His four friends looked shocked, relieved, happy, worried and surprised at the same time. Wen Chao and Wen Zhuliu just looked disbelieving.

"B-but you- I- I threw you in there- Wen Zhuliu saw- How are you- How- How did you-" he stuttered and Wei Ying grinned brightly.

"I am here to sincerely thank you for throwing me in there, it has helped me a lot in finding out many things about myself I wouldn't have known otherwise," he smirked mischievously.

Everyone looked at him in confusion, yet Wen Chao also had fear hidden in his eyes.

"Now, do you want me to do this the easy way or the cruel way?" he asked innocently, referencing what Wen Chao had said to him before throwing him into the burial mounds.

"I- I-" but he was quickly interrupted.

"You're taking too long. Let's go with option B." he shrugged and put the flute nobody had noticed before to his lips.

He started playing a happy tune and everyone was confused and freaked out for a moment, everyone thought he had gone crazy. But then, one by one, corpses started dancing into the room. A lot of them greeted their master with bows and then continued dancing, closing in on Wen Chao and Wen Zhuliu. Wen Chao quickly hid behind Wen Zhuliu, who tried to fight the corpses but they were dancing so fast that he couldn't get ahold of any of them.

Meanwhile, the other four people in the room stills stared at Wei Ying in relief and disbelief.

"What are you doing?" Wen Chao screamed in panic.

"Don't you see? I'm cultivating the resentful energy of the corpses. One really has to spell out everything for you." he sighed and shook his head in disappointment at the boy's lack of intellect that didn't come as a surprise to anyone.

It was then that his friends finally realized what he was doing and their eyes widened, almost stepping closer to him, but the look in his eyes showed them not to.

So he started playing again, but this time an eerie melody. The corpses slowed down and kept going closer to the two Wens. Wei Ying kept playing but slowly walked out the door, giving the other four a sign to follow after him. When they were all out, he quickly closed the door and stopped playing. As soon as he did, they could hear the screams of Wen Chao and even Wen Zhuliu couldn't keep quiet.

"Wei Ying." Lan Zhan breathed out in relief.

"Lan Zhan." he smiled brightly.

"What... How did you..."

He didn't know how to phrase his question, but he didn't have to.

"Ah. It's something I learned in the burial mounds. There was lots of resentful energy to practice with." he explained with a smile.

"He really threw you down there?" Jin Zixuan screamed in disbelief.

"He did but don't worry, I'm fine! The longer I was there, the easier it was. The burial mounds are free of the corpses and resentful energy now, well, almost, and I dare say that people would be able to live there permanently if they wanted to."

They were skeptical, but they would've noticed if their soulmate was lying to them.

"How did they all listen to you? Why did they act like you were their master?" Jiang Cheng inquired.

"Ah, that. It's one of the abilities I explored while I was in the burial mounds. I can make anyone, including myself, the master of something and give someone the full authority over someone."

"You- You explored your- your abilities?" Wen Ning's eyes widened.

"I did!"

"Then- Then do you know-"

"No, I don't. I just explored what abilities I have but I still don't know what or who my spirit animal is." he smiled tightly.

They all looked sorry for him (and for themselves, but Wei Ying didn't know that).

"But! I did learn how to directly communicate with it! I can talk to it now, but it's still unable to tell me what or who it is."

"I-I'm so happy for you." Wen Ning smiled brightly and Wei Ying gladly returned it.

"What caused all this? How did you make so much progress so fast?" Jin Zixuan was curious.

"Ah- You see... The more I cultivated resentful energy, the more I was able to use my abilities and the more I was able to communicate with my animal."

They all couldn't wrap their head around it. How could something that was always considered to be evil - help their omega find himself?

"Flute." Lan Zhan said, but Wei Ying understood immediately.

"Oh, I forgot to introduce you! This is Chenqing! I made her when I was in the burial mounds, so I would be able to cultivate the resentful energy easier! The idea is based on the Gusu Lan sect cultivating with musical instruments." he always made sure to give credit where credit was due, the idea was not his after all.

Lan Zhan seemed stoic to everyone else, but he was actually very happy that his omega had thought of him and used his methods to cultivate.

"Resentful energy harms the mind." he decided to say instead of voicing his happiness.

"I know it's hard to understand Lan Zhan, but that's not all there is to resentful energy. It can harm the mind if used incorrectly or too much, yes. But for some reason, it does not harm me. It's rather the opposite. It helps me. It helps me find myself, learn more about myself and it keeps me grounded. Due to cultivating resentful energy, I was able to- forget the trauma I had when I was thrown in there."

It was silent for a moment. Of course, they knew what trauma he meant. At first, he was injured from the events in the cave, then he was almost raped, had to fight and protect his home in that state, then he gave his golden core to Jiang Cheng and then he was thrown into the burial mounds. All in mere weeks. Anybody else would've lost their mind already. But not Wei Ying. Their Wei Ying. Their omega. Because he was stronger than anyone else. At that thought, everyone had a soft smile on their face, even Lan Zhan seemed a little less emotionless than he usually did.

"You dumbass! How could you be so stupid and give me your golden core?" the serene moment was interrupted by Jiang Cheng.

Wei Ying smiled sheepishly but then he answered with determination, "As you can see, I am perfectly fine without my golden core. Losing my golden core indirectly helped me find out more about myself. And as long as you are happy, I don't need a golden core."

Jiang Cheng didn't know how to answer, so he just pulled the older into his arms and breathed in his familiar scent that he had missed so much, unconsciously scenting him.

"Hey! Don't keep him to yourself you greedy bastard!" Jin Zixuan sneered, only to have a soft smile appear on his face and hug Wei Ying as well, Lan Zhan and Wen Ning joined in shortly after.

"I think I could get used to this," he mumbled quietly, which made all of them smile in happiness.

Shortly after, Wei Wuxian had joined the sunshot campaign and had fought alongside his sect and his friends.

They were on what Wei Wuxian already considered their final fight. During the battles he had participated in, he had used both Chenqing and his new abilities against the Wen soldiers, though nobody knew that it was him. They just knew that there was someone who had all the luck on his side, couldn't be touched directly because his skin was too hot, threw fire or light balls at everyone and could make every corpse bend to his will. He had given them a great advantage in the sunshot campaign and he knew that this would be their last fight because he still had a few tricks up his sleeve.

And that trick appeared when Wen Ruohan was about to hurt one of their own. Just when he had raised his sword, he spits out blood and looked down at his stomach in shock. Everyone looked behind the man in shock, but only a few recognized who had driven a sword through the Wen sect leader. It was Meng Yao, Jin Zixuan's half brother, and Jin Guangshan's illegitimate son.

"There you are!" Wei Ying greeted in delight and smiled when Meng Yao stepped from behind Wen Ruohan to bow before him and then give him a quick but tender hug.

"Meng Yao?" Jin Zixuan ran up to them, disbelieving.

The boy had disappeared months ago, without any explanation. He had been worried about his half brother.

Meng Yao bowed in front of him but was quickly pulled into a hug by the Jin sect heir.

"You did great! Who planned this?"

"Me and Wei Ying did." he smiled sheepishly.

"This was a great plan. You did great." Jin Zixuan smiled at his half brother, who blushed at the praise.

"I hope my father doesn't get any dumb ideas and tries to recognize you officially. Listen to me. If he does, tell him you don't want to. I'm serious. You don't want to be known as that man's son." he warned and spit out the last few words.

And Meng Yao agreed. He didn't want to be known as that man's son. Since Jin Zixuan had warned him, he had kept a close eye on his biological father and had recognized how right his brother had been. His father was a disgrace and he did not want to be associated with him in any way.

He got lucky. Jin Guangshan was too busy whoring around again to be present at the sunshot campaign, so he didn't even know his illegitimate son had appeared and had done a great job at helping them. So Meng Yao was saved from being called that bastard's son.

Chapter Text

After Meng Yao had killed Wen Ruohan, the sunshot campaign was an easy victory for the other sects. They took care of the remaining Wen soldiers and Wei Ying trusted that they would know not to touch Wen Ning and Wen Qing's branch of the family as well as other innocent Wens.

People were very interested in his new-found abilities, especially his ability to cultivate resentful energy. They kept on asking him how he did it, but at the same time resented him for doing it. Wei Wuxian thought they were hypocrites.

And then came the phoenix mountain archery competition, organized by Jin Guangshan. When Wei Ying arrived there, the first thing he should've noticed were the countless disciples already present. But instead, he noticed that he felt oddly familiar and comfortable on phoenix mountain. He couldn't explain it, but he just felt at ease there.

He decided not to think about this odd familiarity further and instead focused on the other sects. He spotted Jin Zixuan standing next to his father, already looking at him. He smiled gently when he noticed that Wei Ying was looking at him as well, but then his father told him something and he reluctantly averted his gaze. He had also spotted Lan Wangji and Lan Xichen coming in on their horses and Wei Ying thought they looked as magnificent as always. Jiang Cheng was obviously standing next to him and glared at everyone who dared to look at Wei Ying the wrong way.

Wei Ying couldn't say that he was surprised at not seeing any Wens there. Their situation was still rocky, but he hoped that they were safe.

He didn't dwell on his thoughts about the Wens and instead looked at the Twin Jades of Gusu instead. He noticed girls around him throwing flowers at them and couldn't help but feel left out, so he took a flower and threw it right at Lan Wangji. His flower was the only one that wasn't ignored by the Second Jade, instead, he caught it with something akin to a fond look in his eyes. He looked at Wei Ying for a moment and then continued riding his horse next to his brother.

“Why are you throwing out flowers along with the girls?” Jiang Cheng suddenly interrupted his train of thought.

“I think he looks nice. Can’t I throw a few as well?”

Jiang Cheng pointed his nose into the air, “How old are you? Who do you think you are, still playing tricks like that?”

Wei WuXian looked at him, “You want one too? There’s still a lot left on the ground. Should I get one for you?” As he spoke, he pretended to bend down.

Jiang Cheng, “Get lost!”

But Wei Ying bent down, picked up the purple flower and put it right behind Jiang Cheng's ear. He then smiled softly at the stunned look the younger wore but didn't say anything else.

After the Gusu Lan sect and the Qinghe Nie sect were announced, it was the Yunmeng Jiang sect's turn. Instantly, another rain of flowers had fallen. Jiang Cheng’s face darkened, but Wei WuXian bathed within it, feeling quite comfortable. He waved his hand at the tallest watching tower. The best seat on the tower was for the Lanling Jin Sect’s Madam Jin. The one who sat beside her was Jiang Yanli. Jiang Yanli usually had on an almost expressionless yet gentle face, her features mild. However, as she saw her two younger brothers wave at her, her face immediately lit up. She lowered her fan. Shyly saying a few words to Madam Jin, she walked to the edge of the watching platform and tossed out two flowers at them.

And then the Lanling Jin sect's formation was announced. They seemed to bask in the attention and Wei Ying once again realized how arrogant the Jin sect really was.

Among the Jin sect cultivators, suddenly, one horse went forward and ran in a circle around the square before the reins were drawn. The person atop the horse had a striking figure. Wearing snowy white robes, his features were more vibrant than even the mark of vermilion between his brows. Drawing his bow, he gave off even more of a handsome air. Immediately, fervor rushed through the crowd on the watching towers. The person glanced in the direction of Wei Ying, intentional or not. Although he tried hard to keep his face stiff, unconcealable pride still leaked from the corners of his eyes.

Wei Ying just sighed, "Jin Zixuan can be such a nice and honorable guy, why does he keep insisting on doing things like these that make me question why I like him?"

Jiang Cheng glanced at him from the corner of his eye, "Maybe he wants to impress someone."

"Who? As far as I know, there's no one he likes."

"There are a lot of things you don't know."

Wei Ying was confused and kept quiet at that.

As they spoke, Jin ZiXuan had already ridden to the target arena. The row of targets was an obstacle before the official entry into the mountain. Those who intend on hunting in the mountain could only become eligible to enter if they were able to shoot a target from a certain distance away. There were seven rings on the targets, in accordance with the seven paths of entry. The closer that the arrow was to the center, the more advantageous its respective entry path was. Without dropping his speed at all, Jin ZiXuan took out an arrow and shot. It landed right in the center. Cheers came from all around the watching towers.

Suddenly, a loud sneer came from somewhere near. Somebody shouted, “If anyone here remains unconvinced, then feel free to try if you can shoot better than Zixuan!”

The person was tall and broad, his skin somewhat dark and his voice booming. This was Jin Guangshan’s nephew and Jin Zixuan’s cousin, Jin Zixun.

Wei Wuxian smiled and he noticed his intention. Jin Zixun was there to provoke him. As Jin Zixun saw that he didn’t answer, he seemed to be pleased.

When the Yunmeng Jiang Sect’s riding formation reached the target arena as well, Wei Wuxian turned to the Two Jades of Lan, who were drawing their bows on their horses, “Lan Zhan, want to help me?”

Lan WangJi glanced at him. He didn’t reply. Jiang Cheng asked, “What are you up to this time?”

Lan WangJi, “What?”

“Can I borrow your forehead ribbon?”

Hearing this, Lan WangJi immediately tore his gaze away and didn’t look at him anymore. Lan Xichen, on the other hand, laughed, “Young Master Wei, you may not know this, but…”

“Brother, there is no need.”

“All right.”

Wei Ying just shrugged and took off the black ribbon on his wrist instead. Before anyone could guess what he would do, Wei Wuxian had quickly tied the ribbon over his eyes to cover his sight. He positioned his arrow, drew his bow, and released—it hit! The series of actions was both smooth and fast. The others didn’t even realize what he wanted to do. They couldn’t even see his movements clearly before the center of the target had been pierced through. After a moment of silence, overwhelming cheers rang throughout the watching towers, with even greater intensity than those for Jin Zixuan.

The corners of Wei WuXian’s lips curved slightly. Spinning the bow within his hands, he tossed it back. On the other hand, as Jin Zixun saw how his popularity now surpassed Jin Zixuan’s, he snorted loudly. It seemed that he was displeased on both the outside and the inside.

He spoke again, “This is only the opening archery event, and you’re onto such ostentatious things. You have your eyes covered right now, but can you keep them covered throughout the entire hunt? Later, on Phoenix Mountain, we can show our real abilities and see who’s the better one!”

Wei Wuxian, “Sure.”

Jin Zixun waved his hand, “Let’s go!”

All of his cultivators rushed forward, as though they wanted to be the first ones inside to have the first chance and quickly take all of the high-level prey. As Jin Guangshan saw that his riding formation was rather well-trained, he was quite proud. Seeing that Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng were still on their horses, he smiled, “Sect Leader Jiang, Young Master Wei, what, you aren’t entering the mountain yet? Watch out that Zixun might steal all of the prey.”

Wei WuXian shrugged, “No need for a hurry. He won’t be able to.”

Everyone around them paused in surprise. As Jin Guangshan pondered over what ‘he won’t be able to’ meant, he saw Wei Wuxian dismount his horse and tell Jiang Cheng, “You can go first.”

Jiang Cheng, “Take it easy. Back down when it’s good enough.”

Wei Wuxian waved his hand. Drawing his reins, Jiang Cheng led the Yunmeng Jiang Sect’s people away. Wei Wuxian, with his eyes covered, walked with leisure in the direction of Phoenix Mountain’s path of entry. It was as if he wasn’t here to hunt, but rather strolling around his own sect’s garden. The crowd grew confused. Could it be that he really wasn’t going to take off the ribbon over his eyes until the hunt ended? How could he participate in the hunt like this? They looked at one another. In the end, they felt that it was none of their business and would simply be a good show to watch. Each of them set off.

As Wei Wuxian walked for some time, he finally found a spot deep into Phoenix Mountain that was comfortable for resting. It was a branch that was extremely thick, growing out of an even thicker tree trunk, blocking his path. Wei Wuxian slapped the dry, wrinkled bark a couple of times. He felt that it was quite sturdy and easily hopped up. The noise of the watching towers had long since been blocked from the mountain’s forests. Wei Wuxian leaned against the tree. Under the black fabric, he closed his eyes. The sunlight poured onto his face through in between the leaves.

He held up Chenqing and blew into it, fingers shifting. The clear sound of the flute rushed into the sky as though it was a bird, lingering as it echoed through the mountain. As he played his flute, Wei Wuxian dangled one of his legs down and swayed it softly. The tip of his boots brushed against the grass under the tree. He didn’t mind that it was dampened by the dew on the blades of the grass. After the song finished, Wei Wuxian crossed his arms and leaned against the tree in a more comfortable position. The flute was between his arms, while the flower was still at his chest, emitting a crisp, quiet fragrance.

He didn’t know how long he had been sitting for. He had almost fallen asleep when he woke up with a start.

Somebody was approaching.

But the person had no killing intent. Thus, he remained slanted over the tree, too lazy to get up. He didn’t even have the energy to take off the ribbon over his eyes. He only tilted his head.

A few moments later, having received no answer, Wei Wuxian couldn’t help from speaking up voluntarily, “You’re here for the hunt?”

The person didn’t answer.

"You won’t be able to get anything good from around me.”

The person was still silent but walked a few steps closer.

Now, Wei Wuxian’s spirits were lifting. Most cultivators were somewhat afraid when they saw him. They didn’t dare approach him even when many people were around, much less being in the same place as him alone and even approaching. If not for how there was no killing intent on the person, Wei Wuxian would definitely think that they had hidden intent. He straightened up his body a little and tilted his head, looking in their direction. Curling his lips, he smiled. Just as he was about to say something, he was suddenly pushed forcefully.

Wei Wuxian’s back smashed against the tree. Just as his right hand was about to pull off the ribbon, his wrist was twisted back. The force was quite strong; he couldn’t even struggle out of it, but there was still no killing intent. Wei Wuxian’s left sleeve shifted. As he was about to shake out the talismans, the person noticed his intent and caught him like before. They pressed both of his hands onto the tree, movements stiff. Wei WuXian raised his leg and was about to kick when he felt a warmth on his lips. He immediately froze.

The touch felt both strange yet familiar, moist and warm. In the beginning, Wei WuXian couldn’t even understand what was going on. His mind went entirely blank. When he finally realized, he was shocked.

This person, holding his wrists back, was pressing him onto the tree and kissing him.

But he was so focused on the pleasant smell emitting from the person that he didn't push them away. He smelled like peonies and reminded Wei Ying of a warm summer afternoon. Just when he was about to react, someone had pushed the person away and another's lips landed on his. This person smelled of Lotus and clear waters, Wei Ying thought he had smelled this particular smell before and it reminded him of his home in Yunmeng. This person ended the kiss willingly and seemed to step to the side but before Wei Ying could take off the ribbon and see who the two people were, another pair of warm lips landed on his. This person smelled like Sandalwood and Wei Ying decided he couldn't get enough of the three persons' kisses. When the third kiss had ended, he went to take off his ribbon but no one was there anymore. He pouted a little, he wanted to know who these mysterious people were.

And then he realized. That three people had just stolen kisses from him, among those his first kiss, and he didn't even know who they were.

When he got back to the other sects, he saw Jin Zixun complaining to the other people.

"What did I do this time?" Wei Ying interrupted his whines.

"Today, in such an important hunt involving all of the sects, you really showed off your abilities, didn’t you? One third of the prey has been taken by you. You sure feel pleased, don’t you?” he sneered back.

Although over a hundred people who followed Jin Zixun emitted strong resentment, as they saw that Lan Wangji somebody immediately replied impatiently, “Hanguang-Jun, you don’t know yet, do you? A while ago, when we were hunting on Phoenix Mountain, we searched for a long time and realized that not a single fierce corpse or resentful spirit is left in the grounds!”

“We only knew after we sent people to ask Lianfang-Zun at the watching towers that less than an hour after the hunt began, a flute melody came from within Phoenix Mountain, and then all of the corpses and spirits walked into the Yunmeng Jiang Sect’s side one by one and surrendered themselves!”

“Of the three main categories of prey on Phoenix Mountain, only the fay and the monsters are left…”

“As for the ghouls, Wei Wuxian alone summoned away all of them…”

Jin Zixun, “You care nothing for other people and only care about yourself—is this not presumptuous enough?”

Wei Wuxian understood all of a sudden. At the end of it, this was the ulterior intent behind all of that. He laughed, “Weren’t you the one who said so? It was only the opening archery event; we could show our real abilities on Phoenix Mountain.”

Jin Zixun laughed with a ha, as though he found it ridiculous, “What you’re depending on is just a crooked path. They’re not what you’re really capable of. You’re just playing a few tunes on the flute. How could it count as showing our real abilities?”

Wei Wuxian sounded confused, “It’s not as if I tricked or schemed, so why not? You can play a few tunes on the flute as well and see if any corpses or spirits would like to follow you?”

Jin Zixun, “With how much you disregard the rules, it’s not much better than tricks and schemes!”

Hearing this, Lan Wangji frowned. Madam Jin seemed as though she had just heard the quarrel that was going on over here. Her voice was indifferent, “Zixun, that’s enough.”

Wei Wuxian was too lazy to argue with him. He laughed, “Fine, then I don’t know what could count as real abilities. Please take it out and win against me so that I can see what it is.”

If he could actually win, Jin Zixun wouldn’t be as frustrated as he was now. Speechless for a moment, the more he thought about it, the more indignant he felt. He mocked, “But it’s only natural that you don’t think you’re in the wrong. It’s not the first time that Young Master Wei has disregarded the rules. You didn’t wear your sword in both last time’s flower banquet and this time’s hunt. It’s such a grand event, and you care nothing for courtesy. In what regard to you hold us, the people who are present with you?”

At this, Jin Zixuan, Lan Wangji, and Jiang Wanyin froze. They knew why he didn't carry his sword anymore after all. But Wei Wuxian just smiled wistfully and didn't pay him any attention.

Seeing how Wei Wuxian seemed to not care about him at all, Jin Zixun clenched his teeth, “So the Yunmeng Jiang Sect’s discipline is nothing more than this!”

Madam Jin’s brows stiffened, scolding, “Zixun!”

Hearing this, Wei Wuxian’s smile disappeared at once. He asked, “Discipline?”

He turned his head slowly, “A crooked path?”

Lan Wangji’s voice was low, “Wei Ying.”

Jin Zixun and the others noticed the unusual atmosphere as well. Holding their breaths, they looked at him. Wei Wuxian smiled again, “Do you know why I’m not carrying my sword? It wouldn’t make a difference if I told you anyway.”

He turned around, stating one word at a time, “Because I want you to know that even if I don’t use my sword, with nothing but what you call a ‘crooked path’, I will still rise unparalleled and leave all of you staring at me from behind.”

With his words, all of the people present were shocked speechless. No disciple had ever dared say such lofty words in front of so many people.

A moment later, as Jin Zixun finally regained his composure, he yelled, “Wei Wuxian! You’re only the son of a servant—how dare you be so bold!!!”

Hearing those words, Lan Wangji, Jin Zixuan, and Jiang Wanyin’s gazes froze. The pupils of Wei Wuxian’s eyes shrunk. It seemed that his right hand was almost going to touch Chenqing. As the air thickened with conflict, ready to burst any second, somebody suddenly spoke, “A-Xian!”

Hearing the voice, Wei Wuxian’s heart softened. He turned around, “Shijie?”

Jiang YanLi waved at him, “A-Xian, come stand behind me.”

Wei Wuxian hesitated. Before he could move, Madam Jin quickly picked up her hand, “A-Li, don’t intervene in their business.” However, with an apologetic smile toward Madam Jin, Jiang Yanli went forth and stood in front of Wei Wuxian. She saluted Jin Zixun and the others.

Jin Zixun and his people didn’t know how to respond either. A few of them returned the salute, and a few didn’t. Jiang Yanli spoke to Jin Zixun in a thin voice, “Young Master Jin, from what you meant, it was A-Xian who made a third of the prey on Phoenix Mountain his all to himself; it defied the rules and he was too bold. I… I haven’t heard of anything like this either. It truly must’ve troubled everyone here. I apologize to you in place of him.”

As she finished, she bowed down again. It seemed to be quite a serious apology. Wei Wuxian, “Shijie!”

Jiang Yanli didn’t rise yet. She looked at him and shook her head almost unnoticeable. Wei Wuxian could only clench his fists and stay silent. Jin Zixun and the rest didn’t even try to conceal the triumph on their faces. They were more than satisfied with themselves.

Jin Zixun chuckled, “Maiden Jiang, you really are kind and understanding. What your shidi did was extremely unbefitting, and indeed caused us much trouble. But since you do recognize that it was unbefitting, then for Maidan Jiang and Sect Leader Jiang’s sake, an apology won’t be needed. The Yunmeng Jiang Sect and the Lanling Jin Sect are as close as brothers, anyways.”

He was on the verge of breaking into pompous laughter. Wei Wuxian was fuming with rage as his tightened knuckles cracked. Just as he was about to speak, Jiang Yanli had finished her bow and got up, continuing in an earnest voice, “But, even if I haven’t participated in a hunt before, there’s one thing that I know—for all of the hunts that have happened, I’ve never heard of a single rule that prohibits someone from hunting too much prey.”

The smiles on the people’s faces froze before they could even set into place.

Jiang Yanli, “And so, you said that A-Xian defied rules—which exact rule did he defy?”

This time, it was Wei Wuxian’s turn to laugh.

Jin Zixun’s face was dark, but he didn’t respond. There were two reasons. First, he had never seen Jiang Yanli step up and talk before, so he didn’t know how strong his reply should be. Both Madam Jin and Jiang Cheng held Jiang Yanli in high regard, and he didn’t dare rashly go against them. Second, if they looked into it, they’d indeed fail to find such a rule!

At this point, some people among the crowd couldn’t hold it down any longer. At such times, Sect Leader Yao was always the first one to jump out, “Madam Jiang, that wouldn’t be the best way to put it. Although some rules aren’t written out, everyone understands and follows them.”

Someone shouted, “How much prey is in Phoenix Mountain in total? Is it even five hundred? How many people are there in the hunt? More than five thousand! We’re fighting for the prey, to begin with. If he keeps so much prey to himself using such wicked means, what could the other people do?”

Wei Wuxian sneered. As he was about to speak, Jiang Yanli stopped him, whispering, “It’s best if you don’t say anything.”

Someone else felt unsatisfied as well, “Yeah, or else I would’ve at least been able to get one.”

Jiang Yanli, “But… It isn’t his fault that others can’t capture the prey.”

The person couldn’t say anything back. She continued, “Isn’t the hunt all about true strength? Even if the ghouls are gone, aren’t there also the fays and the monsters? Even if he didn’t keep one-third to himself, or even if he didn’t attend the hunt, those who can’t capture the prey will never be able to. Although the methods that A-Xian used is different from what other people use, it’s still an ability that he cultivated. You can’t call it a crooked path just because others don’t have access to that third of the prey, can you?”

The people who gathered around Jin Zixun had on the same dark faces as he did. Yet, taking into consideration Jiang Yanli’s background, they didn’t dare talk back to her directly.

Jiang Yanli added, “Besides, hunting is hunting, so why bring the matter of discipline to the table? A-Xian is a disciple of the Yunmeng Jiang Sect. He grew up with my brother and I, and so he’s as close as a brother is to me. Calling him the ‘son of a servant’—I’m sorry, but I won’t accept this. And thus…”

She straightened her back and raised her voice, “I hope that Young Master Jin Zixun would apologize to Wei Wuxian of the Yunmeng Jiang Sect!”

If the one currently saying these words wasn’t Jiang Yanli and instead some random person, Jin Zixun would probably have come at them with a slap already. His face was almost black, but he kept his mouth shut. Jiang Yanli stared at him quietly, refusing to turn her eyes away.

Madam Jin spoke, “A-Li, why are you being so serious? It’s just a small matter. Don’t get so worked up.”

Jiang YanLi’s voice was soft, “Madam, A-Xian is my younger brother. Him being humiliated by others, to me, isn’t just a small matter.”

Madam Jin glanced at Jin Zixun, sneering, “Zixun, you heard that?”


For him to apologize to Wei Wuxian was at the least impossible. How could Madam Jin not know what his personality was like? The situation at hand, however, was already quite uncomfortable. Imagining how Jin Zixun would definitely throw a few tantrums after he apologized and returned to Koi Tower, she grew more and more annoyed, almost wanting to hold his neck down and force him to apologize.

Before the tension could thicken, someone else decided to step in.

Jin Zixuan went to stand right in front of Wei Wuxian, bowed deeply and spoke in a regretful voice, "I'm deeply sorry for what my cousin and his friends said to you, Wei Ying. I hope you know that I don't support or agree with anything they said."

Wei Ying was stunned but then smiled gratefully, pulling the Jin heir up, "It's fine peacock. It wasn't you who said it after all."

The Jin boy was surprised at being called a peacock, but he decided to ignore it and smiled wider instead.

After that, Jiang Cheng was pulled aside by a few of the sect leaders.

Sect Leader Yao glanced at him, his tone meaningful, “Sect Leader Jiang, your sect’s Wei Wuxian really is quite a character.”

Jiang Cheng frowned, “What do you mean?”

Sect Leader Yao laughed, “As if I dare mean anything. Sect Leader Jiang, you mustn’t take to heart what I said.”

Jiang Cheng’s face darkened. He knew that those weren’t good words and told himself that he had to find Wei Wuxian later to make sure he was okay. Not in a mood to maintain false politeness with someone pretending to be clever, with a turn, he walked out of the woods. On his way, he could manage to catch the whispers of chatter coming from behind him. As if scared that he’d hear them, their voices were extremely low, but with his heightened senses, he could still hear the words clearly.

One of the sect leaders spoke in a sour tone, “This time, Lotus Pier is really the center of the show. Almost all of the spirits and corpses were summoned to the Yunmeng Jiang Sect’s grounds. There’d definitely be several cultivators interested in them.”

Sect Leader Yao, “What could we do about it? Whose fault is it that our sects don’t have Wei Wuxian’s?”

“It’s not necessarily a good thing to have Wei Wuxian. I don’t want there to be someone in my sect always stirring up trouble for me.”

“Wei Wuxian, he is too bold… Anyways, from now on, I won’t attend any night-hunts that he’s going to.”

Someone sneered, “Huh? Interested in them? I don’t think so. To put it simply, they’re interested in Wei Wuxian, aren’t they? Didn’t the Yunmeng Jiang Sect grow in fame during the Sunshot Campaign only because of Wei Wuxian?”

Jiang Cheng felt his entire body weigh down on him. How dare these people to speak of his omega as if he was just a weapon or an object that could be utilized by just anybody? 

While Wei Ying was strolling through the streets, buying various different foods from the vendors, he suddenly spotted someone sitting next to one of the vendors. The person hugged their knees as they shivered, as though they were both cold and tired. After they heard Wei Wuxian speak, their head shot up.

Wei Wuxian widened his eyes, “You?!”

Koi Tower.

Within Glamor Hall, Lan Xichen and Lan Wangji were seated one after the other and were both calmly drinking their tea. The Gusu Lan Sect was famous for its abstinence from liquor. By Jin Guangshan’s arrangements, no liquor cups were placed on either of the two’s tables. There were only a teacup and a few fresh, dainty dishes. Nobody had come forth and proposed them any toasts, either, so all was calm.

Unfortunately, just as the calmness settled down, a man wearing a robe of Sparks Amidst Snow suddenly approached them, one liquor cup in each hand, “Sect Leader Lan, Hanguang-Jun, a toast to each of you!”

This was Jin Zixun, who had been toasting everyone for the past while. Jin Zixuan knew that neither Lan Xichen nor Lan Wangji liked liquor, so he hurried over, “Zixun, both Zewu-Jun, and Hanguang-Jun grew up in Cloud Recesses. There are over three thousand rules on their stone wall. Instead of asking them to drink, why not…”

Jin Zixuan interrupted, “The Jin Sect and the Lan Sect have always been like one family. We’re all the same. My two Lan brothers, if you don’t drink this, you’d be looking down on me!”

On the side, a few of his followers all praised, “What a bold move!”

“That’s just how an esteemed cultivator should act!”

Jin Zixuan continued to smile, though he sighed under his breath, rubbing his temples. Lan Xichen stood up, wanting to decline the offer politely. Jin Zixun continued to pester, turning to Lan Xichen, “Don’t say anything. Sect Leader Lan, our two sects aren’t strangers to each other. Don’t deal with me like how you deal with strangers! Just tell me one thing—are you drinking it or not?”

The corners of Jin Zixuan’s smile were starting to twitch. He glanced at Lan Xichen, eyes full of apology. He tried to get his cousin to stop again, but he took to boasting instead.

“It’s not like they’d get drunk with just a few cups. Even if I drank eight large bowls, I’d still be able to fly away!”

A wave of cheers came from all around them. Lan Wangji was still sitting, staring coldly at the cup of liquor that Jin Zixun forced into his sight. He looked as if he was about to speak when a hand suddenly took over the cup of liquor.

Lan Wangji paused in surprise, his knitted eyebrows unraveling at once. He looked up.

What first reflected against his pupils were black robes. A flute hung at the waist, tassels in the color of blood dangling off one end. The person who came stood with hands against his back. With a lift of his head, he drank all of the liquor and showed the empty bottom to Jin Zixun, “I drank it for him. You satisfied yet?”

Laughter clung to both his eyes and his words. Handsome features accentuated his slender physique.

Lan Xichen, “Young Master Wei.”

Someone exclaimed in a hushed tone, “When did he come?!”

Wei Wuxian put down the cup. With one hand, he fixed his lapel, “Just a moment ago.”

Just a moment ago? But, just a moment ago, clearly, nobody notified the room, much less greeted him. Although surprising, it was true that not a single person noticed when he managed to slip into Glamor Hall. The crowd couldn’t help but shiver in disgust at the mere power of his abilities.

Jin Zixuan was quick to react, “Wei Ying! I wasn’t aware of your arrival at Koi Tower. The lack of a welcome was my fault. Would you like to be seated? Oh, right—do you have an invitation?”

Wei WuXian didn’t make small talk either, getting straight to the point, “No thanks. I don’t.” He nodded slightly at Jin Zixun, “Young Master Jin, could I please have a word with you?”

“If you have anything to say, come after our banquet is over.”

In reality, he didn’t want to talk to Wei Wuxian at all. Wei Wuxian could see this as well, “How long do I have to wait?”

Jin Zixun, “Probably around six to eight hours. Or maybe ten to twelve. Or until tomorrow.”

Wei Wuxian, “I’m afraid I can’t wait for that long.”

Jin Zixun’s voice was arrogant, “You’ll have to wait even if you can’t.”

Jin Zixuan, “Wei Ying, what do you need Zixun for? Is it a pressing matter?”

Wei Wuxian, “Pressing indeed. It allows for no delay.”

Jin Zixun turned to Lan Xichen, holding up the other cup, “Sect Leader Lan, here, here. You haven’t drunk this cup yet!”

Seeing him stall purposely, a dark cloud flashed before his face. He narrowed his eyes, the corners of his lips curling up, “Fine. Then I’ll talk about it right here. Young Master Jin, have you heard of someone by the name of Wen Ning?”

His three alphas who were present in the room froze at this.

Jin Zixun, “Wen Ning? I haven’t.”

Wei Wuxian, “You definitely remember him. Last month, when you were night-hunting in the area of Ganquan, you chased an eight-winged bat king to the gathering place, or the detention camp, of the Wen Sect’s remnants and brought a group of the Wen Sect’s disciples. The one in the lead was him.”

Jin Zixun, “I don’t remember, which means I don’t remember. I’m not so idle as to go out of my way to remember a Wen-dog’s name.”

Wei Wuxian, “Fine. I don’t mind explaining it in greater detail. You couldn’t catch the bat king and happened to run into a few of the Wen Sect’s disciples who were there to investigate the same thing. And so, you threatened them to carry spirit-attraction flags to be your bait. They didn’t dare do it. One person stepped out and tried to reason with you. That’s the Wen Ning I’m talking about. After some delay, the bat king got away. You beat up the Wen cultivators, took them away by force, and the group disappeared. Do I need to say any more details? They still haven’t returned yet. Apart from you, I don’t know who in the world I could possibly ask.”

“Wei Wuxian, what do you mean? Did you come for him? You aren’t standing up for a Wen-dog, are you?”

Wei Wuxian wore a broad grin, “Since when is it your business whether I’d like to stand up for him or cut his head off? Just give him to me!”

At the last sentence, the grin on his face vanished. His tone turned cold as well. It was clear that he had lost his patience. Many of the people within Glamor Hal shivered in fear. Jin Zixun felt his scalp tingle as well. Yet, his anger soon soared. He shouted, “Wei Wuxian, you are too bold! Did the Lanling Jin Sect invite you today? And you dare run wild here. Do you think that you’re invincible, that nobody dares to confront you? Do you want to overturn the Heavens?”

Wei Wuxian smiled, “You’re comparing yourself to the Heavens? Excuse my language, but your face is a little too thick, isn’t it?”

Although in his heart, Jin Zixun had already begun to think of the Lanling Jin Sect as the new Heavens, he too knew that his words were too rash. His cheeks flushed slightly. Just as he was about to rebut, Jin Zixuan interrupted him with a glare.

"Jin Zixun. Tell him where Wen Ning and the others are immediately."

Everyone looked at him stunned. They hadn't expected him to support Wei Ying so openly.


"No buts. Where. Is. Wen. Ning." he sneered at his cousin.

Wei Ying was stunned as well, he knew that the Jin heir was a good person but he hadn't expected him to side with him. Yet Jin Zixun refused to tell him.

Jin Zixuan's next move stunned the people even more. He unsheathed his sword and pointed it right at his cousin's throat, whose eyes widened.

"Zixuan!" Jin Guanshan yelled for him to stop, but he was ignored.

Before anyone could say anything else, Jin Guangshan spoke again, "It’s not anything too important anyways. You youngsters, why lose your tempers over such a thing? However, Young Master Wei, let me be fair here. Barging in when the Lanling Jin Sect is holding a private banquet is indeed inappropriate.”

To say that Jin GuangShan didn’t mind what happened at Phoenix Mountain would be impossible. This was also why he only smiled when Jin Zixun bickered with Wei Wuxian but didn’t stop them, and only spoke up when Jin Zixun was at the disadvantage.

Wei Wuxian nodded, “Sect Leader Jin, it was never my intention to disturb your private banquet. My apologies. However, the whereabouts of the people whom Young Master Jin took are still unclear. Just a moment of delay, and it might be too late. One of the group had once saved me before. I will not sit back and watch. Please do not feel pressured. I will make amends for this at a later date.”

Jin Guangshan, “Whatever it is, it must be able to wait a little longer. Come, come, you can sit down first. Let’s talk about this with no rush.”

“Thank you, Sect Leader Jin, but I won’t stay for long. The matter can’t be delayed. Please let this be sorted out as soon as possible.”

Jin Guangshan, “There’s no need for a hurry. If we break things down, there are indeed a few things between us that haven’t been accounted for yet, things that can’t be delayed. Now that you’re here, how about we use the opportunity to sort those things out as well?”

Wei WuXian raised a brow, “Account for what?”

Jin Guangshan, “Young Master Wei, we’ve brought this up a couple of times with you already. You haven’t forgotten, have you? … During the Sunshot Campaign, you had once used a certain object.”

“Oh. You did mention it before. The Tiger Seal?”

“It is said that the Stygian Tiger Seal was cast from the iron of a sword that you acquired in the cave of the Xuanwu of Slaughter. Back then, you used it on the battlefield once. Its powers were horrifying, causing even a few of our own cultivators to be affected by its residual force…”

Wei WuXian interrupted, “Please get to the point.”

Jin Guangshan, “This is the point. In the battle, apart from the Wen Sect, our sides undertook great losses as well. In my opinion, such a weapon is quite difficult to be controlled. For it to be in the hands of just a single person might be…”

Before he even finished his words, Wei Wuxian began to laugh.

After a few laughs, he continued, “Sect Leader Jin, let me ask you something else. Do you think that, because the Qishan Wen Sect is gone, the Lanling Jin Sect has all right to replace it?”

All was silent within Glamor Hall.

Wei Wuxian added, “Everything has to be given to you? Does everyone have to listen to you? Looking at how the Lanling Jin Sect does things, I almost thought that it was the Qishan Wen Sect’s empire all over again.”

Hearing this, over Jin GuangShan’s square-shaped face flashed a hue of embarrassed anger. After the Sunshot Campaign, the criticism of Wei Wuxian cultivating the ghoul path that the sects had once veiled began to rise. He mentioned the Stygian Tiger Seal here intending to threaten Wei Wuxian, reminding him that there was still something they held against him, that others were still watching him, and thus he shouldn’t be so bold as to want to climb above the Lanling Jin Sect. Nobody expected Wei Wuxian’s words to be so harshly straightforward. Although he’d held the quiet thought of succeeding the Wen Sect’s position since a long time ago, nobody had ever dared to bring it to the surface so fearlessly, going as far as to mock him.

A guest cultivator on his right shouted, “Wei WuXian! Watch your words!”

Surprisingly, Jin Zixuan answered, “Did he say something wrong? Forcing living people to be the bait and beating them up whenever they refused to obey—is this any different from what the Qishan Wen Sect does?”

Another guest cultivator stood up, “Of course it’s different. The Wen-dogs did all kinds of evil. To arrive at such an end is only karma for them. We only avenged a tooth for a tooth, letting them taste the fruit that they had sown. What’s wrong with this?”

Jin Zixuan spoke again, “Take revenge on the ones who bite you. Wen Ning’s branch doesn’t have much blood on their hands. Don’t tell me that you find them guilty by association?”

Another person spoke, “Young Master Jin, is it that they don’t have much blood on their hands just because you say so? These are only your one-sided words. Where’s the evidence?”

This time Wei Ying answered himself, “You think that they killed the innocent—aren’t those your one-sided words as well? Shouldn’t you be the first one to show evidence? Why would you instead ask me for evidence?”

The person shook his head, the words ‘this man refuses to reason with me’ written all over his face. Someone else sneered, “Back then when the Wen Sect slaughtered our people, it was thousands of times crueler than this! They didn’t treat us with justice and morality, so why should we treat them with such?”

Wei WuXian grinned, “Oh. The Wen-dogs did all kinds of evil, so anyone whose surname is Wen can be killed? That’s not it, is it? Many of the clans who defected from the Wen Sect are quite well-off right now, aren’t they? In this hall, aren’t there a few sect leaders from clans that used to be under the Wen Sect’s wing?”

As the sect leaders saw that he recognized them, their expressions changed at once. Wei WuXian continued, “Since anyone whose surname is Wen can be used an outlet of anger as one pleases, no matter if they’re innocent or not, does it mean that it’s fine even if I kill all of them right now?”

Before he even finished his words, he placed his hand on his waist where Chenqing hung. Instantly, it was as if a piece of memory was stirred up in the minds of everyone within the hall, as though they returned to the battlefield where darkness became the sky and corpses became mountains. At once, people stood up from among the crowd.

Lan Wangji’s lowered his voice, “Wei Ying!”

Jin Zixuan was the closest to Wei WuXian, but he didn't say anything and silently supported Wei Ying.

Jin Guangshan stood up as well, his face a mixture of shock, anger, fear, and hatred, “Wei Wuxian! Just because Sect Leader Jiang isn’t here doesn’t mean you can be so reckless!”

Wei Wuxian’s voice was harsh, “Do you think that I wouldn’t be reckless if he were here? If I wanted to kill someone, who could stop me, and who would dare stop me?!”

Lan Wangji spoke, one word at a time, “Wei Ying, put down Chenqing.”

Wei WuXian looked at him. From against the pair of eyes as mild as glass, he saw his hideous reflection. He spun around, shouting, “Jin Zixun!”

Jin Guangshan hurried, “Zixun!”

Wei WuXian, “Cut the nonsense. I’m sure everyone knows that my patience is limited. Where is he? With so much time wasted on you, I’ll give you three. Three!”

Jin Zixun wanted to resist, but when he saw Jin Guangshan’s face and Jin Zixuan's sword that was still pointed at him, he felt his heart shiver. Wei Wuxian began again, “Two!”

Jin Zixun finally yelled, “… Fine! Fine! It’s just a few Wen-dogs. Take them if you want to. I’m not fooling around with you any longer! Go find them at Qiongqi Path on your own!”

Wei Wuxian laughed coldly, “If only you said it sooner.”

Jin Zixuan looked after him in worry and then shared a look with Jiang Wanyin and Lan Wangji. They knew how fatal it would be if one of Wei Ying's alphas were... gone. It would break his heart. So they all stood up at the same time and ran after him.

"Jin Zixuan! Where do you think you're going?" Jin Guangshan screamed after them.

"To do what I should've done a while ago."

And then they were gone.

Meanwhile, Wei Ying had picked up Wen Qing from her hiding spot and went to Qiongqi path with her, even though he only took her with him reluctantly.

When the two reached Qiongqi Path, it was already nighttime. Against the dark veil, cold strands of rain quivered in the air. One step after another, Wen Qing followed Wei WuXian closely, trembling as though she was cold not from the outside but the inside. Wei WuXian had to help her a little every once in a while. Before the valley was a row of shacks built temporarily for the prisoners of war to spend their nights. Leading Wen Qing, Wei WuXian saw an old, bent-over figure from afar. Cloaked in the rain, the figure walked slowly, carrying a large flag. When it walked nearer, it became clear that the person carrying the flag was a wobbly old woman. She carried on her back a young toddler who paid attention to nothing but nibbling his fingers, fixed into position by a few cloth rags. The old and the young walked to and fro across the road. The old woman found the flag to be quite difficult to carry. She had to rest after walking for just a few steps, putting down the flag.

Seeing this, Wen Qing yelled with red eyes, “Granny! It’s me!”

The old woman probably couldn’t see or hear well. She couldn’t tell by sight or by hearing who the person was. All she knew was that someone approached and shouted something at her. She hastily took up the flag again, her face full of fear, as though she was scared that she’d be found out and scolded.

Wen Qing ran over and grabbed the flag from her, “What is this? What are you doing?”

A large sun, the crest of the QishanWen Sect, was painted over the flag. However, a blood-red cross was plastered on top of it. The flag itself was torn to bits as well. From when the Sunshot Campaign ended until now, countless people were labeled ‘leftover Wen-dogs’. Countless methods were used to torture them too, even called the euphemism ‘self-reflection’. Wei WuXian knew it was likely because she was too old and couldn’t be a laborer like the others that the leader here came up with such a way to torment her. She had to carry the Wen Sect’s tattered flag and walk around in self-humiliation.

Surprised, the old woman first flinched. When she could finally tell who it was, her jaw dropped.

Wen Qing asked, “Granny, where’s A-Ning? Where’s Fourth Uncle and the rest? Where’s A-Ning?!”

The old woman looked at Wei WuXian, standing beside her, and didn’t dare say anything. She only looked in the direction of the valley. Unable to do anything else, Wen Qing sprinted over.

Torches were set up on both sides of the valley. The flames flickered now and then within the faint strings of rain, but their blaze nonetheless illuminated the hundreds of heavy silhouettes on the path.

The prisoners were all ghastly pale, their steps dragging. They weren’t allowed to use spiritual powers or any other instruments, not only by the Lanling Jin Sect’s precautions against them but also because it had to be punishing. Over a dozen inspectors, bearing black umbrellas, rode on horseback through the rain as they scolded. Wen Qing rushed into the rain, her eyes scanning frantically across every tired, grime-covered face.

One of the inspectors noticed her, raising a hand and shouting, “Where did you come from? Who let you run around here?”

Wen Qing urged, “I’m here to find someone, I’m here to find someone!”

The inspector approached, pulling something from the side of his waist and waving it about, “I don’t care if you’re looking for someone or not—leave! If you don’t…”

At this point, he saw that a black-robed man walked over from behind the young woman. As if his tongue had gotten tied, his voice trailed off.

The young man bore handsome features, but his eyes were rather cold. He couldn’t help but shiver under the gaze. Soon, he realized that the young man wasn’t staring at him, but instead the iron brand that he brandished.

The iron brand within the inspector’s hand was the same kind as what the Qishan Wen Sect’s servants used. It was only that the shape of the brand at the top was changed from the sun crest to the peony crest.

As Wei WuXian took note of this, a cold light flashed within his eyes. Many of the inspectors recognized him. They stopped their horses quietly, whispering among each other. Nobody dared stop Wen Qing any longer, and she shouted as she searched, “A-Ning! A-Ning!”

No matter how desolate her voice was, no one answered her. She saw no trace of her brother even after she searched through the entire valley. If Wen Ning were here, he would’ve rushed toward her long ago. Stealthily, the inspectors dismounted their horses. The entire group stared at Wei WuXian, as though hesitating about whether or not to greet him.

Wen Qing rushed over and asked, “Where are the Wen cultivators sent here just a few days ago?”

The people looked at one another. After some dawdling, an inspector who looked quite honest spoke up, his tone friendly, “All of the prisoners here are the Wen Sect’s cultivators. New ones are sent here every day.”

Wen Qing, “It’s my brother, sent here by Jin ZiXun! He… He’s about this tall. He doesn’t talk much, stammers whenever he talks…”

The inspector, “Hey, Maiden, look. There are so many people here. How could we remember if any of them stammers or not?”

Wen Qing stomped her feet in anxiety, “I know he has to be here!”

The inspector was round and chubby. He gave an obsequiously apologetic grin, “Maiden, don’t worry. Actually, it happens a lot that other sects come to us for cultivators. Maybe somebody else took him during the past few days? When we do roll calls, we’d sometimes find that someone ran away as well…”

Wen Qing, “He wouldn’t have run away! Granny and the others are all here. My brother wouldn’t have run away on his own.”

The inspector, “Then, would you like to take your time searching for him? All of the people are here. If you don’t find him, then we can’t do anything about it either.”

Suddenly, Wei WuXian spoke up, “All of the people are here?”

As he spoke, all of their faces froze for an instant. The inspector turned toward him, “That’s right.”

Wei WuXian, “Fine. For the time being, I’ll take it that all the living ones are here. Then, what about the rest?”

Wen Qing’s figure wobbled.

The ‘rest’ as compared to the ‘living’ could only be the ‘dead’.

The inspectors quickly replied, “That’s not the way to talk. Although it’s all Wen cultivator’s here, we’ve never dared do anything fatal.”

As though he heard nothing, Wei WuXian took out the flute at his waist. The few prisoners who were beside him, trudging forward, screamed before they threw off the heavy objects on their backs and fled. Within the valley, a large circle of space formed immediately, him in the center.

In truth, the prisoners didn’t recognize Wei WuXian’s face, for the Wen Sect cultivators who ran into Wei WuXian on the battlefield of the Sunshot Campaign only met one end—utter annihilation. Thus, most of the Wen cultivators who recognized his face became fierce corpses in his army, for him to command. However, the flute made of dark wood, decorated with a crimson tassel, and the young man in black who controlled it had already become their nightmares.

From everywhere, people exclaimed, “It’s the ghost flute Chenqing!”

Wei WuXian put Chenqing to his lips. The shrill sound of the flute first ripped through the night sky and across the curtains of rain with the force of an arrow. Immediately after, its residue echoed through the entire valley. Only one note and Wei WuXian placed Chenqing back. He stood with his arms hanging down, a cold grin at his lips, letting the drops of rain dampen his hair and clothes.

Soon, someone suddenly spoke, “What’s that sound?”

Yelps of surprise suddenly came from the far side of the crowd. Scrambling, the people soon emptied an area of the circle with which they surrounded him. In the area stood slantingly around a dozen tattered figures, tall and short, men and women. Some of them gave off the stench of rotting flesh. The one who stood at the front was Wen Ning, whose eyes were still open.

His face was as pale as wax and his pupils were dilated. The blood at the corner of his lips had already dried into a dark brown. Although his chest didn’t rise and fall at all, it was obvious to see that half of his ribcage had collapsed. Nobody who saw such a scene would think that he was still alive, but Wen Qing still didn’t give up, grabbing for his pulse with trembling hands.

Holding onto him for a few moments, she finally broke into tears.

She’d been both scared and anxious, running as though she was mad, but she was still too late. She couldn’t even see her brother one last time.

Wen Qing cried as she touched Wen Ning’s ribs as if she wanted to piece them back together. In vain hopes, she clung onto the nonexistent possibility. Her sweet features were wrung distorted, becoming unsightly, ugly, even. But, when someone was in the deepest of their sorrows, they’d never be able to cry with grace.

In front of the stiff corpse of her only younger brother, not a fragment was left of the pride that she tried so hard to upkeep.

The shock that Wen Qing received was too strong. Finally, she couldn’t hang on any longer and passed out. Standing behind her, Wei WuXian caught her without saying anything, letting her lean onto his chest. He closed his eyes, opening them a short while later, “Who killed him?”

His tone was between hot and cold. It was as if he wasn’t angered, but rather thinking about something. The inspector at the head thought that he still had a chance, answering in denial, “Young Master Wei, you mustn’t say such a thing. We wouldn’t dare kill a single person here. He’s the one who wasn’t careful while working, fell off the valley walls and died.”

Wei WuXian, “Nobody would dare kill a single person? Is that true?”

The inspectors swore in unison, “Absolutely!”

“Not a single one!”

Wei WuXian smiled, “Oh. I understand.”

Immediately after, he continued calmly, “It’s because they’re Wen-dogs, and Wen-dogs aren’t people. So even if you killed them, it doesn’t count as having killed people. That’s what you mean, isn’t it?”

This was exactly what the lead inspector was thinking when he said it. With his thoughts read, his complexion paled. Wei WuXian added, “Or did you really think I wouldn’t know how someone died?”

All of the inspectors were speechless. As if they finally realized that the situation wasn’t in their favor, they looked like they were shrinking backward. Wei WuXian maintained his smile, “It’s best if you admit everything honestly. Who’s the one that killed him? Step forward on your own. Or else, I’d prefer killing the wrong people over letting them go. Killing all of you would make sure that no one is let off.”

The group felt their scalps tingle and their blood run cold. The head inspector stammered, “The Yunmeng Jiang Sect and the Lanling Jin Sect have been getting along with each other. You mustn’t…”

Hearing this, Wei WuXian glanced at him, his tone amused, “You’re quite brave. Are you threatening me?”

The head inspector hurried, “Of course not, of course not.”

Wei WuXian, “Congratulations to you for successfully draining all my patience. Since you don’t want to speak up, let’s let him answer on his own.”

As though it’d been waiting for his words for a long time, Wen Ning’s frozen corpse suddenly moved, raising its head. Before the two nearest inspectors could even scream, each of their throats was clenched by a hand as firm as iron.

Expressionless, Wen Ning raised the two short-legged inspectors high in the air. The empty circle around them grew larger and larger. The head inspector shouted, “Young Master Wei! Young Master Wei! Please go easy on us! Doing this in the heat of the moment would lead to irreversible consequences!”

The rain fell heavier and heavier. Drops of water trickled incessantly down Wei WuXian’s cheeks.

He suddenly spun around, putting his hand on Wen Ning’s and smiling sadly yet gently, then he called, “Wen QiongLin!”

As if a reply, Wen Ning let out a long, thundering roar. The ears of everyone within the valley ached.

Wei WuXian spoke one word at a time, “Whoever caused all of you to be like this, let them meet the same end. I give you the right to do so. Settle everything!”

Hearing this, Wen Ning immediately crashed the two inspectors that he was holding together. Like exploding watermelons, the two heads immediately let out a loud bang, sending red and white flying everywhere.

The scene was hauntingly grotesque. Screams sounded throughout the valley. Horses neighed and prisoners fled—it was more than chaotic. Wei WuXian took up Wen Qing in his arms. As if nothing happened, he crossed the panicking crowd and held up the reins of a horse. As he was about to turn around, a slight-figured prisoner called him, “… Mr. Wei.”

Wei WuXian turned to look at him, “What?”

The prisoner’s voice quivered slightly as he pointed in a certain direction, “There’s… There’s a house on that side of the valley. They use it to… lock people inside and beat them up. Anyone who dies would be dragged outside and buried. Some of the people you’re looking for might be over there…”

Wei WuXian, “Thank you.”

He followed the direction that the person pointed and indeed saw a shed that seemed like it was only temporarily built. Holding Wen Qing in one hand, he kicked the door open. In a corner of the room sat around a dozen people, all of them bruised and bleeding. They flinched from the shock of him kicking the door open so crudely. When a few of them saw Wen Qing, lying in Wei WuXian’s arms, they rushed over, ignoring their heavy injuries, “Maiden Qing!”

One of them seethed, “Who… Who are you? What did you do to Office Leader?”

Wei WuXian, “Nothing. Who are the cultivators under Wen Ning? Cut the nonsense and step out now!”

The group stared among themselves, but Wei WuXian had already left, Wen Qing in his arms. They could do nothing but force themselves to follow, helping one another up. As soon as they left the house before they could even tell what the chaos within the valley was all about, Wei WuXian ordered, “Get the horses. Hurry up!”

A middle-aged man protested, “No, our Young Master Wen Ning…”

Suddenly, a severed head flew across his sight. The people turned around just in time to see Wen Ning crash a corpse the limbs of which were still twitching onto the ground. With bare hands, he grabbed for the internal organs.

Wei WuXian felt pitiful and sad that he wasn't able to protect his soulmate, “Enough!”

Low growls came from Wen Ning’s throat, as though he still wasn’t satisfied. Wei WuXian whistled and said again, “Get up!”

Wen Ning could only stand up. Wei WuXian, “What are you waiting for? Mount the horses! Don’t tell me you’re waiting for me to find your swords?”

One of the group remembered that an elderly was here. He hastened to bring the old woman and the toddler along, helping them onto a horse. Holding the still-unconscious Wen Qing, Wei WuXian himself mounted his horse as well. The dozens of people found a single dozen horses amid the pandemonium. Around two or three people took one horse despite the discomfort. The old woman couldn’t ride one by herself and she had to somehow carry the child with her.

Seeing this, Wei WuXian stretched out his hand, “Give him to me.”

The old woman shook her head many times. The child hugged his granny’s neck tightly as well, on the verge of sliding off. There was an unconcealable fear within the two’s eyes. With a reach, Wei WuXian lifted the child and tucked him under his arm.

The old woman was scared to death, “A-Yuan! A-Yuan!”

Although the child called A-Yuan was still quite young, he already knew fear, but still, he didn’t cry. He only continued to nibble at his fingers as he snuck a few glances at Wei WuXian.

Wei WuXian shouted, “We’re going!” His legs struck against the horse’s back and led the group. Around a dozen horses followed behind him, dashing into the night rain.

Just when they started their journey, they were interrupted again. They all froze at the sight of such esteemed cultivators as Jiang Wanyin, Lan Wangji and especially Jin Zixuan. His sect was the one who did this to them after all. But when they saw that Wei Wuxian wasn't hostile towards them, they calmed down.

"Wei Ying." Lan Wangji spoke first.

"Lan Zhan." he smiled back slightly.

"Where are you taking them?" Jiang Cheng wanted to know.

"Burial mounds," he answered.

The three of them nodded. Since he had told them previously that people would even be able to live there now, they didn't say anything about it.

None of them knew what to say. Well, they what they wanted to say but Wei Ying still didn't know that he was their omega, so they couldn't just ask him to stay with them or ask him whether they could come with them. That would've been too suspicious.

"Take care." Lan Wangji spoke up.

"Of course." Wei Ying smiled softly.

He then rode away with the Wen remnants following behind him. The three of them were left standing there.

"Do you guys think he'll come back? At some point?" none of them had ever heard Jin Zixuan so vulnerable.

"He's Wei Ying. You can't tie him down but he'll still always come back." Jiang Cheng said softly yet with a sad look in his eyes.

They all reluctantly went back to fix the mess they had created.

The three alphas hadn't seen their omega in a while since they were busy trying to fix things. The other sects were demanding Wei Wuxian to turn in the Wen remnants and the Stygian Tiger Seal. But their spirit animals were getting restless. They needed to see their omega. So they went to Yiling, in hopes of 'coincidentally' running into him.

Instead, they were surprised when a small toddler latched onto Lan Zhan's leg. The man froze, which caused the other two to freeze as well. None of them were particularly well with children and none of them had ever really interacted with one, so they were at a loss of what to do. When other people came and started criticizing them for not soothing the boy, who was now crying bitterly, they could just stand there in shock and panic.

Meanwhile, Wei Ying had gone down the mountain together with Wen Yuan and was trying to buy potatoes, when he realized that Wen Yuan had run off somewhere. Frantically he looked around for the small boy. Suddenly, he heard the wails of a child, and he immediately rushed over. Somewhere not far away, a group of nosey passerbys gathered into a bustling circle, pointing at something and chattering among themselves. He shoved through the crowds, and his eyes lit up at once. Jiang Wanyin, Jin Zixuan, and Lan Wangji were the center of attention and Lan Wangji had the wailing Wen Yuan latched to his leg. He started laughing loudly when he saw that all three of them didn't know how to handle the situation.

He decided to intervene before he caused all of them to have an early Qi deviation, "A-Yuan!"

Said boy immediately stopped crying and lit up instead, "Xian-gege!"

He then ran over to his parent figure and latched onto his leg instead, raising his arms to show that he wanted to be carried, so Wei Ying did just that. He then made all of the other people leave so only him, Wen Yuan and the three alphas were left.

"What a coincidence. What are you three doing at Yiling?" he smiled at them brightly.

"Night hunt. We passed by." Lan Zhan explained shortly.

"Whose child is this?" Jiang Cheng frowned.


They all froze. Had he created a child with Wen Ning in their absence? But they thought Wen Ning was just a platonic soulmate? And this child looked too old to have been created in their time at the burial mounds.

"Of course I’m joking. He’s someone else’s. I took him out to play. What did you do? How come you made him cry?”

Jiang Cheng scoffed, "You know how bad I am with kids. These two are just as bad as me, apparently."

Wei Ying just laughed in delight, "Don't worry, you'll learn."

Their hearts started to beat faster at that. Until now, none of them had ever dared to hope to have children with their omega since he still didn't know his identity, but now the thought was in all of their minds.

Wen Yuan hugged Wei WuXian’s leg. He was still sobbing. Wei WuXian understood. Although the three alphas' faces looked pretty, such a young child was still unable to tell the beautiful from the not. He could only tell that these people all had frowns, glares or arrogant looks, which wasn’t friendly at all. Frightened by the bitter expressions, it was only natural that he felt scared. Wei WuXian picked Wen Yuan up and played with him for a while, turning him over and over, and said a few comforting words.

Suddenly, he saw that a street vendor was still laughing as he looked at them, so he pointed at the colorful things in the baskets that he carried on two ends of a pole, asking, “A-Yuan, look over here. Aren’t they pretty?”

Wen Yuan’s focus was shifted. He sniffed, “… Yeah.”

“Don’t they smell nice?”


The vendor quickly added, “Looks pretty and smells nice—Young Master, buy one, won’t you?”

“Do you want one?”

Wen Yuan thought that he was going to buy one for him. He spoke embarrassedly, “Yeah.”

Yet, Wei WuXian walked in the opposite direction, “Haha, let’s go.”

Wen Yuan seemed to be shocked. Tears filled his eyes again. Having been watching the scene unfold, Lan WangJi finally couldn’t bear it any longer, “Why did you not buy one for him?”

Wei WuXian mused, “Why should I buy one for him?”

“You asked him whether he wanted one or not. Did it not mean that you would buy one for him?”

Wei WuXian answered purposely, “Asking and buying are two different things—why should I have to buy it for him if I asked?”

With such a rhetorical question, Lan WangJi was surprisingly at a loss for words. He glared at him for a long while before he turned to Wen Yuan. Due to his stare, Wen Yuan started shaking again.

A moment later, Jin Zixuan asked Wen Yuan, “Which one do you want?”

Wen Yuan hadn’t understood what was going on yet. Jin Zixuan pointed at the things in the vendor’s baskets, “Of the things here, which one do you want?”

Wen Yuan stared at him in terror. He didn’t even dare let out a single breath.

An hour later, Wen Yuan finally stopped crying. He kept on feeling his pockets, stuffed full of the playthings that Jin Zixuan bought for him. Seeing that his tears finally stopped, the three alphas seemed to be relieved. Yet, with a blushing face, Wen Yuan snuck over quietly and wrapped his arms around Jin Zixuan's leg.

Looking down, he saw the extra object on his leg and didn't know what to say.

Wei WuXian laughed madly, “Hahahahaha! Zixuan, congratulations! He’s taken a liking to you! He hugs the leg of whoever he likes, and he never lets go.”

He walked a few steps forward. As Wei WuXian said, Wen Yuan clung onto his leg steadily, not at all intending to let go. The hug was quite tight as well.

Wei Wuxian then made a suggestion none of them could decline, “In my opinion, you can save your night-hunting for later. How about we get some food first?”

So a short while later, they were sitting in an inn.

Jin Zixuan ordered different kinds of food, making sure to request extra spicy things for Wei Wuxian and sweet things for Wen Yuan.

Soon, the wine and the dishes arrived. It was a sea of fiery red, along with a bowl of sweet soup for Wen Yuan. Knocking his bowl, Wei WuXian called a couple of times, but Wen Yuan was still looking down, holding two butterflies and mumbling. At times he pretended to be the one on the left, saying shyly ‘I… I really like you’; at times he pretended to be the one on the right, saying happily ‘I really like you too!’ Being two butterflies at the same time, he seemed to be having lots of fun.

Listening to this, Wei WuXian almost choked from laughter, convulsing, “Good Heavens, A-Yuan, where did a young boy like you learn such things? You like me, I like you and all that—do you even know what liking someone means? Stop playing. Come eat. Your new dad got you this. It’s good.”

A-Yuan finally put the butterflies back inside his pockets. With bowl and spoon, he drank the soup mouthful after mouthful, still sitting beside Jin Zixuan. Before this, Wen Yuan was at the detention camp in Qishan, and then he moved to the burial mounds. The meals at the detention camp were terrible and while the food on the burial mounds wasn't too bad thanks to Wei Ying driving out all the resentful energy, they had to sell most of the food to get other necessities and the food was scarce. Thus, to him, the bowl of sweet soup was already a new delight.

Wen Yuan couldn’t stop after just a few mouthfuls, yet he still knew to give the bowl to Wei WuXian, speaking as though he was presenting him with a treasure, “Xian-gege, eat.”

The three alphas were watching the exchange with soft looks on their faces. They would give everything to see an interaction like this between their beloved omega and their child.

Suddenly, Wei WuXian’s expression changed. He took out a talisman from his lapels, yet the talisman was burning already. It turned into ashes not long after Wei WuXian took it out. All of their gazes hardened.

Wei WuXian stood up at once, “Oh no.”

The talisman was the core of a warning array that he set up on Burial Mound. If something happened on Burial Mound after he left like if the array was broken or if blood was shed, the talisman would ignite on its own to warn him of the incident.

Wei WuXian sandwiched Wen Yuan between his arm and his body, “Excuse me, I have to go back!”

Something fell from Wen Yuan’s pocket. He called out, “Butter… Butterfly!”

With him in his arm, Wei WuXian had already rushed outside the restaurant. Soon, a white, a yellow and a purple shadow swept by him. The three alphas seemed to have followed them out as well, walking beside them. Wei WuXian, “Why are you following us?”

Lan WangJi put the butterfly that he dropped into Wen Yuan’s palm, "Not leaving you again."

Wei Wuxian ignored the implication for now and hurried to get back to the burial mounds until he was swept up into Jiang Cheng's arms while Jin Zixuan took A-Yuan out of his arms to carry him. They then mounted their swords.

"Where?" Lan Wangji asked while mounting Bichen.

Wei Ying felt relieved and showed them the direction. He then quietly breathed out, "Thank you."

The closer they got to the burial mounds, the more worried Wei Ying was.

As soon as they landed, the two saw a shadow dart from within the woods, screaming as it threw itself toward someone. Bichen cut it in half with one single stroke. The person on the ground was pale-faced. As he saw Wei WuXian, he shouted, “Young Master Wei!”

Wei WuXian tossed out a talisman, “Uncle Four, what’s wrong?”

“All… All of the fierce corpses in the Demon-Slaughtering Cave got out!”

“Didn’t I set a restriction seal? Who touched it?!”

“Nobody! It was… It was…”

Suddenly, a yell came from in front of them. It was a woman’s voice, “A-Ning!”

Within the forest, around a dozen cultivators of the Wen Sect stood before a figure—Wen Ning, bearing a hideous pair of white pupils. Not many of the talismans that once covered his entire body remained. In his hands, he was dragging two other fierce corpses, which had already been torn up by him, blackish blood cascading off what had almost become two sets of skeletons. Wen Ning was still beating them up as if he wouldn’t rest until they had been turned to dust. The person who stood at the front of the group, holding a sword, was Wen Qing.

“Didn’t I say not to touch the talismans on him?!”

Wen Qing didn’t even have the spare seconds to be surprised that the three alphas were here. She answered, “Nobody touched them! Not a single person went into the Cave! He tore them off on his own when he suddenly went on a rampage. Not only the ones on himself, but he also destroyed the restriction seals at the blood pool and the Cave as well! All of the fierce corpses in the blood pool got out. Wei WuXian, go save Granny and the others. They won’t be able to hold up much longer!!!”

As they spoke, strange hissing noises came from above them. The group looked up to find a few fierce corpses that had climbed up the trees. They curved around the top of the trees as though they were snakes, snarling as sickening mucus dripped from between their teeth. When Wen Ning looked up, he saw them as well. He tossed away the crushed limb in his hand and leaped onto the tree at once!

He just ignored Wen Qing. He knew, if anyone could get Wen Ning to calm down, it was him, "Wen Qionglin!"

Said fierce corpse stopped like he was struck by lightning. Everything was quiet for a moment. Except for the cries of A-Yuan who was still hiding in Jin Zixuan's arms.

Everyone waited and Wei Ying kept calling Wen Ning's name, desperate but also determined.

Until the fierce corpse slowly moved his lips, "... Young... master..."

Wen Ning struggled to lift his head. Within his eyes wasn’t the hideous white anymore, but a… a pair of black pupils!

Wen Ning opened his mouth, continuing, “… Young… Master Wei…?”

It seemed that he squeezed the words out one by one, almost biting down on his tongue. But those were indeed human words, not meaningless roars.

Wen Qing had frozen. A second later, with a scream, she threw herself toward him, howling, “A-Ning!”

Both of the two fell back from the force. Wen Ning, “Sis… -ter…”

Wen Qing pulled her younger brother into an embrace. With both tears and laughter, she buried her head in his arms, “It’s me! It’s your sister, it’s your sister! A-Ning!”

She called Wen Ning’s name again and again. The other cultivators seemed as if they wanted to go throw themselves over too, but they didn’t dare do it. They hugged one another in the chaos, shouting and laughing among themselves.

Uncle Four leaped down the mountain as he cheered, “Everything’s fine! It’s done! It’s done! A-Ning woke up! …”

Wei WuXian walked over and squatted beside his alpha, “How do you feel right now?”

Wen Ning lay on the ground facing up, his neck and limbs still somewhat stiff, “I… I…” He stammered for some time before finally saying, “… I want to cry, but I can’t. What’s wrong…”

After a moment of silence, Wei WuXian patted his shoulder, “You remember, don’t you? You’re dead already.”

When he made sure that Wen Ning really was awake, in his heart, Wei WuXian let out a long breath of relief.

He did it.

Back then, because of his momentary impulse and rage, he made Wen Ning into a low-level fierce corpse. Although he could get Wen Ning to point at whom the inspectors that killed him were and tear them apart when Wen Qing woke up and had to face her younger brother who didn’t recognize her at all and could only bite and bark like a mad dog, being fed with blood and flesh, it was even more painful for her.

After he calmed down, Wei WuXian promised solemnly that he had a way for Wen Ning to return to consciousness. But, nobody knew that he was only talking big so that Wen Qing could relax first. In truth, he had close to no confidence and could only summon up whatever skills he had.

With the arduous days and the sleepless nights, he really did manage to keep his promise. But he knew deep down that it was more a promise to himself than to Wen Qing. He wouldn't have forgiven himself if he had lost his soulmate before he had the chance to know who he really was.

Wen Qing cupped Wen Ning’s pale face, tears streaming down her cheeks. In the end, she still couldn’t help herself from crying like she did the day she saw Wen Ning’s corpse. Wen Ning stroked her back with his stiff arms. More and more of the Wen Sect’s people came up the mountain, either rushing over and joining the crying pile or gazed with respect and gratitude at Wei WuXian's direction.

Wei WuXian knew that the siblings had a lot to say to each other. Wen Qing definitely wouldn’t want others to see her sobbing look either. He turned to the three alphas.

They looked back at him. Wei WuXian, “You’re here anyway, so why not have a seat inside?”

The four walked up to a cave on the mountain, surrounded by chilly winds.

Jiang Cheng raised his eyebrows, “The Demon-Slaughtering Cave?”

“That’s right. I came up with the name. How is it?”

They all said nothing.

“I know. In your heart, you’re definitely saying ‘not very good.’ After the news got out, I picked up on some of the comments as well, saying that I’m someone who cultivates the demonic path, to begin with—I’m the demon myself, so how could I be so shameless as to call my den the Demon-Slaughtering Cave?”

They didn’t comment. The four had already walked inside the cave. Wei WuXian’s laughter echoed throughout the empty walls, “But in reality, all of them are wrong. What I actually meant with this name is not at all what they interpreted it as.”

Now Jin Zixuan's curiosity had been awakened, “How come?”

W“Simple. I often sleep like I’m dead inside of this cave. A cave that kills a demon through slumber—wouldn’t it be the Demon-Slaughtering Cave?”

The four entered the main area. Lan WangJi, “What about the blood pool, then?”

Wei WuXian pointed at a pool of water within the cave, “The blood pool is this right here.”

It was dim inside the cave, making it difficult to tell whether the water was black or red. It gave an odor of blood, somewhere between light and heavy. Originally, a line of restriction had surrounded the pool, though it had been destroyed by Wen Ning already. Wei WuXian put it up again and tied it together.

Lan WangJi, “The dark energy is dense.”

Wei WuXian, “That’s right. The dark energy is really heavy, fit to nurture dark creatures. This is where I use to ‘parent’ the fierce corpses that haven’t been completed yet. Guess how many are in the bottom?” He smiled, “To be honest, I don’t know just how many there are either. But the water in the pool is smelling more and more like blood.”

Lan WangJi gazed at him quietly, “Wei Ying.”

Wei WuXian, “What?”

Lan WangJi, “Can you really control it?”

Wei WuXian, “Control what? Do you mean Wen Ning? Of course, I can. Look, he’s already returned to consciousness.” Wei WuXian gloated, “An unprecedented fierce corpse.”

Lan WangJi, “What would you do if he lost consciousness again?”

Wei WuXian, “I already have experience with dealing with him when he’s out of consciousness. I’m the one who controls him. As long as nothing happens to me, nothing will happen to him either.”

After a while of silence, Lan WangJi asked, “But what if something does happen to you?”

Wei WuXian, “It won’t.“

Lan WangJi, “How could you be sure?”

Wei WuXian’s voice was firm, “It won’t, and it can’t.”

The other three hoped he was right.

A while later, the three of them reluctantly left their omega, silently making a promise to come to get him and the Wen remnants when the situation had gotten better.

They soon realized that the situation wouldn't get better any time soon. It was rather the opposite. The clans were demanding Wei Wuxian to hand over the Wen remnants and the Stygian Tiger Seal and the longer their demands were ignored, the angrier they got. The three of them tried to get everyone to settle down and let it go, trying to tell them that what Wei Wuxian was doing was right.

But none of them listened.

So they had made a big decision. They would reveal a big secret, to save their omega.

Jin Zixuan had told his father to organize a banquet with the most important sects, where they would announce some things. When the clan leaders of all invited sects had arrived, Jin Zixuan, Lan Wangji, and Jiang Wanyin were the center of attention. Nobody knew what they would reveal.

"We have called you all here to share with you the reason why none of you is allowed to hurt Wei Wuxian." Jin Zixuan spoke proudly.

Everyone broke out into murmurs at this. Jiang Fengmian and Yu Ziyuan looked at him suspiciously.

"Before that, we want to reveal our spirit animals." Jiang Wanyin continued speaking, shocking everyone.

It was common knowledge that you were only allowed to share your spirit animal with the world if you had met your soulmate, so this implied that they all had found theirs.

Lan Wangji started, bowed deeply and introduced himself, "Qīnglóng."

Everyone was stunned. Yet not surprised. Because of course the Second Jade of Gusu, Hanguang-Jun, would be one of the five auspicious beasts and of course he would be the Azure Dragon.

Then Jin Zixuan bowed, "Báihǔ."

Their eyes widened when they were introduced to the second auspicious beast right afterward. But it fit. Jin Zixuan was as majestic as a white tiger after all.

Jiang Wanyin was the third one to bow, "Xuánwǔ."

A few of them felt like they would faint any second. Many had known that Jiang Wanyin was some type of tortoise and had always thought it didn't fit him very well, but hearing that it was not just some random one, but the Black Tortoise, made them understand a lot of things.

Now they also understood that the three of them all shared an omega, which explained why they had grown closer over the last few months.

"That still doesn't explain why we aren't allowed to deal with Wei Wuxian." Jin Guangshan raised his eyebrows suspiciously.

Jin Zixuan smiled slyly and answered dryly, "Wei Ying is our omega."

It was quiet for a moment. Then some people gasped while others groaned. Everyone knew that nobody was allowed to hurt the five auspicious beasts' omega, or they would face the wrath of all of them and the gods above would punish them until the end of time. So everyone understood that nobody could do anything but let go of the grudges they had against the Yiling Patriarch and his Wen remnants.

The three alphas were sure that everything would be okay now. They just had to tell Wei Ying that he was their omega. They knew that they actually weren't allowed to tell him, but at least they would just tell him his secondary gender and not his spirit animal, which none of them knew anyway.

So a banquet was planned. But a certain sect still had a few tricks up their sleeve to destroy the Yiling Patriarch. 

Chapter Text

After the banquet where the three of them revealed their spirit animals and that Wei Wuxian was their omega, they had sent a letter to Wei Ying. It was an invitation to Koi Tower, written by the three of them so that he knew he could trust the letter and hopefully would come to Koi Tower on the date they mentioned in the letter.

When the letter arrived at the burial mounds, Wei Ying was surprised but also excited that he would get to see some of his friends again, something he didn't deem possible.

So when the day came, he and Wen Ning made their way to Koi Tower. Wei Ying felt a little sorry for the route he had chosen since they would come across Qiongqi path and Wen Ning had terrible experiences with that place. But Wen Ning had reassured him that it was fine. Yet Wei Ying had an odd feeling and he felt unease creeping up his shoulders. He felt like something bad was going to happen very soon.

And he was right.

When they were on Qiongqi path and happily chatting about why they were invited to Koi Tower in the first place, an arrow shot at Wei Ying's face and was caught by Wen Ning right before it hit him. They both looked up to see dozens of Jin cultivators, led by a young master who looked oddly familiar to Wei Ying but he couldn't pinpoint who he was.

"You! Yiling Patriarch! You did this to me!" the young master screamed.

Wei Ying was confused. He wasn't aware of doing anything to the man, or to anyone for that matter.

"I don't know what you're talking about. I don't even know who you are." he raised his eyebrows.

"You- Are you making fun of me?"

"No! I literally don't know who you are!" Wei Ying tried to reason, but the man didn't listen.

"You don't know? Shall I enlighten you then?" he sneered and revealed his chest, which made everyone turn away in disgust.

"You inflicted me with the curse of a hundred holes!"

Wei Ying was stunned, "I did what? You can check my own chest, I don't have the marks!"

"You and your demonic cultivation probably found a way to hide the marks so that's not a trustworthy thing to say!"

Wei Ying rolled his eyes in exasperation and wanted to reason again when the young master gave a sign to the disciples and they started shooting arrows at him again. Wen Ning immediately went to deal with all of them, while Wei Ying did his best to avoid being hit by one of the arrows.

"You have always been so terribly arrogant! And now? You have to rely on a fierce corpse not to die!" Jin Zixun taunted.

"Don't talk about Wen Ning that way!" he got angry.

"Aww, are you angry that I mocked your fierce corpse? What are you gonna do about it?"

Wei Ying breathed out to calm himself down. He couldn't afford to make rash moves.

Since he was focused on the young master, he didn't notice that one of the disciples was able to hide from Wen Ning and had shot an arrow in his direction. Right before it would've hit him, a sword brushed past him and had averted the arrow. He quickly recognized the sword as Suihua, Jin Zixuan's sword. He then also realized that Jin Zixuan along with Lan Wangji and Jiang Wanyin was now standing by his side protectively.

"Jin Zixun! How dare you hurt our- How dare you hurt Wei Ying!" Jiang Cheng screamed in anger but refrained from calling Wei Ying their omega.

He didn't want it to be revealed that way and instead wanted to tell him with just him and his alphas present.

"He inflicted me with the curse of hundred holes!" he screamed back.

"He didn't and you know that just as well as me! Who came up with this dumb plan, huh? You? Ha, no, you aren't smart enough to do something like that. I bet it was my father. That old bastard would even go as far as going against the heavens to hurt Wei Ying." Jin Zixuan scoffed and growled at the end.

Wei Ying didn't understand what was happening and what everyone was talking about. Going against the heavens? Wasn't that a bit too much? He wasn't that important! Everyone seemed to know something, everyone but him. And it frustrated him to no end.

Before anyone could say anything else, the catastrophe happened. And it happened to fast that no one could do anything about it.

Jin Zixun took out his own bow again and aimed an arrow at Wei Wuxian. One of his disciples had a lucky strike and pushed Wen Ning. Wen Ning fell back slightly and accidentally pushed Jin Zixun. Jin Zixun's arrow now went in the direction of the three alphas instead of Wei Ying's. Yet the three didn't budge, too focused on making sure Wei Ying was okay to notice the arrow coming at them.

But Wei Ying saw.

And something in him snapped.

A desperate voice which he faintly recognized as his spirit animal screamed at him to do something, to save their alphas. Wei Ying didn't understand the voice but he understood that he had to act fast. So he stumbled and jumped in front of the three young men whose eyes widened when they finally realized what was happening. But before they could prevent it from happening, Wei Ying was in front of them and slowly fell to his knees. When Wen Ning realized what he had indirectly caused, his eyes widened in shock and fear and he quickly took care of all the other Jin disciples, along with Jin Zixun, before coming down and sitting beside his omega, who was already being cradled by the three other alphas.

"Wei Ying!" he exclaimed in fear.

"I- I'm fine. Really." he tried to reassure them but everyone could see that he was lying.

"Why would you do that!", Jiang Cheng's voice was shaking, "You don't have a golden core! You- You can't heal- that fast! It wouldn't have mattered if we were hit, we would've healed fast! But you- you-"

He didn't dare say it aloud.

"Everything's going to be fine." Wei Ying smiled softly.

The four of them were sitting on either side of him, trying to stop the bleeding. But when they saw that it didn't to their omega any good, they took to hugging, comforting and scenting him instead, which he enjoyed greatly if one could go by the purrs he let out.

"Why-" he coughed a little, "Why was I invited to- to Koi Tower?"

They all looked at each other, hesitating, but they all knew they had to tell him now. They didn't want what they were all thinking to come true, but this- this might be the last moment with their omega.

"Wei Ying." Lan Zhan started softly, desperation in his eyes.

"We- you- I-" Jiang Cheng stuttered, didn't know how to start.

"We are your alphas." Jin Zixuan interrupted, making Wei Ying's eyes widen in confusion.

"You- are my what?" he breathed out softly.

"Your alphas. You- you are our omega." Jiang Cheng rushed to say and seemed close to tears.

They watched as many emotions appeared in their omega's eyes. Surprise, shock, confusion, understanding.

"Of course. Now I understand." he giggled quietly.

"What do you understand?" Jin Zixuan now had actual tears in his eyes.

"Why I always felt so familiar with all of you. Why my spirit animal kept calling out for you while I was in the burial mounds. Why my spirit animal told me to jump in front of you." he smiled softly.

They all had tears in their eyes by now.

"Why you all kissed me on Phoenix Mountain." he raised his eyebrows knowingly.

"You- you knew it was us?" Jiang Cheng stuttered.

"Jiang Cheng, the smell of Lotus in Yunmeng was the first pleasant smell I had smelled in years when I came to Lotus Pier and I would remember it anywhere. Sandalwood is not a common fragrance so it wasn't hard to remember that Lan Zhan smelled like it. And the pure yet rich smell of peonies on A-Xuan wasn't that common either."

They all blushed. Wen Ning was still in a state of shock. He couldn't believe what he had done. And there was no way to turn back time.

They all watched as Wei Ying's eyes kept losing color, as his breathing grew frantic and then slowed down, as he seemed to be in more pain as more time went by.

"Wei Ying." Lan Zhan's voice had never carried as much emotion as it did now.

"Ah, Lan Zhan. I didn't know you could show so many emotions." he giggled, "Please don't go back to the cold shell you pretend to be. Open up to others."

Lan Zhan started crying more at this. Wei Ying was the only one he wanted to open up to, but he had a feeling that he wouldn't be able to do that anymore very soon.

"Jin Zixuan. I know you're not the arrogant person you pretend to be. I know it's all just facade and that you actually don't know how to express your emotions. Please try to be more honest with people. At least the ones you care about. Because not everyone is as smart as me and knows that you care for them." he smiled gently, making Jin Zixuan sob.

"And Jiang Cheng. I finally know why it was always impossible for me to call you my brother. And I suddenly understand why you have always been so protective of me since I first came to Lotus Pier. And why you were so jealous whenever I spent time with Xue Yang. Please know that you have nothing to be scared of, you are my alpha. One of my alphas. And I love you. I love all of you." he breathed out.

Now all three of them were crying bitterly, with Wen Ning having the most sorrowful look a fierce corpse could muster.

"Wen Ning. Don't blame yourself. It wasn't your fault. I jumped in front of them, you couldn't have known." he patted the Wen boy's head, to which he quickly shook his head, trying to say that it was his fault instead.

But Wei Ying didn't let him. He didn't let any of them say that it was their fault.

"Please, take care of the Wen remnants. Make everything right. Take care of A-Yuan for me." he pleaded and by now, he also had tears in his eyes yet he looked content.

If it was him dying instead of one of his alphas, everything would be fine.

"We will! We'll take care of whoever did this and make sure that they'll never see the light of day again." Jin Zixuan growled, vowing to get his father executed.

"And we will take care of A-Yuan. He- he is your son after all. That makes him our son too." Wen Ning promised.

Wei Ying smiled at hearing that. He knew that they would be save with his alphas, especially A-Yuan.

"Wei Ying!" Lan Zhan sobbed out when the Wei boy slowly closed his eyes.

"Don't! Don't you dare leave us here alone!" Jiang Cheng sounded furious, but they all recognized the fear and grief in his eyes.

"Jiang Cheng, please don't do anything stupid and don't turn cold because of- this. Maybe, ask Uncle Jiang to get more responsibilities within the sect. That way you'll be prepared when you become the sect leader." Wei Ying suggested.

Even before his death he still thought about others.

Then Wei Ying closed his eyes again and they all cried out, even Wen Ning had tears in his eyes.

"Please." Lan Zhan whimpered.

"Don't worry. You can't get rid of me this easily. I'll always find a way to come back." he chuckled and they hoped he was right.

"I love you." he breathed out quietly and they all rushed to return it, so he knew he was loved before he- before he was gone.

And when he did his last breath, his eyes quickly opened, glowing a fiery red and then they closed again. His eyes closed for the last time.

Left were only his alphas and his dead body. What were they supposed to do now?

Turns out the decision was quickly taken from them. Jin Zixuan had furiously ran to Koi Tower, everyone was still there because of the banquet, and had humiliated Jin Guangshan in front of everyone by opening his robes and revealing- the marks of the hundred holes curse, meaning that he was the one who inflicted Jin Zixun with it so that his nephew would have an excuse to get rid of the auspicious beasts' omega. But with this revealed, everyone turned against the Jin sect leader and he was executed mere days after, with Jin Zixuan taking over the role as sect leader. Within the next few months, Jiang Fengmian had also stepped down from his role as sect leader, a role that was then taken on by Jiang Cheng. Lan Wangji's brother had also become the sect leader of the Gusu Lan sect.

Due to all of this, it had been quite easy to save the Wens and give them back Qishan, where they re-built their sect to be one focused on healing. And A-Yuan switched from sect to sect. At first, the four alphas had stayed with him in Yiling for a while, since he was used to that place, but they had to return to their duties soon. Wen Ning, whose sister Wen Qing was the new sect leader of the improved and re-built Wen sect, was the first one to take him for a while, where he was given the traditional Wen red-white robes. Afterward, he stayed with Lan Zhan in Gusu. The Second Jade had given him a ribbon, but he decided to wear it on his wrist instead of on his forehead and everyone accepted that. Since he wasn't an actual Lan, they were okay with him not wearing the ribbon in its proper place. While he stayed with Jin Zixuan in Lanling, he had started wearing the vermilion mark on his forehead like the Jins. He often happily exclaimed that the color reminded him of his Xian-gege, tho he now liked to refer to him as his mother. And when he stayed with Jiang Cheng in Yunmeng, he was given a clarity bell. While he was used to the different people from the different sects and proudly wore significant things from the different sects, he wasn't too similar to the people from any of the sects. Everyone could see that while he looked like a child from the four sects, he acted as the child of one wild Wei Wuxian.

He was mischievous, loud and liked to joke around but he was also a kind soul, polite and very smart. And just like Wei Wuxian, he never let it show when he was sad, though his father figures would've preferred it if he shared his fears and sadness with them. They weren't at all surprised when he had asked to be renamed Wei Yuan instead. He was desperately looking for a connection to his late mother figure. So it was an easy decision to make, when they, later on, gave him his sword, Suibian. Wei Yuan, along with the four alphas, was the only one who could unsheathe the sword, it was locked to anyone else. And even later, he was given the courtesy name Wei Sizhui.

The five of them still had hope that their omega and mother would return, but the more years went by, the more they lost hope. They searched the whole universe for anyone who would be able to bring him back. The situation didn't get any better when his corpse had disappeared before he could be buried. Instead, a Carnelian stone had been left at his place and had been used to decorate the empty grave. They found it ironic, since the Carnelian symbolized vitality, fearlessly taking action, boosting one's physical energy and aliveness and empowerment, while Wei Wuxian was- not around anymore. Nobody noticed that the Carnelian started to glow more and more, the longer Wei Wuxian was dead.

The whole cultivation world was now preparing for Wei Wuxian's ten-year death anniversary and a huge banquet had been planned for it.

Chapter Text

"A-Yuan!" Jin Zixuan sighed in exasperation.

"A-Yuan, stop hiding already!" Jiang Cheng tried to keep his cool.

They all sighed in annoyance when they heard the giggles of four junior disciples.

"Wei Sizhui." Lan Wangji said in a stern voice, which immediately stopped the giggles and made the four pouting teenagers come out.

These four rascals liked to trouble them in various ways and this time they just had to disappear right before an important event. They were all fine when they were alone, but when they were together they were unstoppable. This was expected from Wei Yuan, who had been raised by the mischievous Wei Wuxian for the first few years of his life. It was however unexpected from Lan Xing, who had recently been given the courtesy name Lan Jingyi. He was the least Lan to ever Lan and was probably the most mischievous out of all of them. Another permanent member of their little quartet was Ouyang Jing who had been given the courtesy name Ouyang Zizhen at around the same time Lan Jingyi got his. He was less mischievous than the other two, but he was a very romantic person who had a special way with words. The last member was Wen Ling or Wen Rulan. He's the child of Jiang Yanli and her now-dead ex-husband and when Jiang Yanli married a second time he had gotten the surname of the clan Jiang Yanli married into, Wen from Qishan Wen. He treated Wen Qing as his second mother and was glad his scumbag of a father had died since he always cheated on his mother. As for his courtesy name, it was a name Wei Wuxian always dreamed of naming his first child. Since he wouldn't be able to, Jiang Yanli used the name instead.

All four of them were tied to the clans in some way. Wei Yuan was considered the child of important people in all of the sects except the Nie sect, yet he wore the surname Wei and refused to become the heir to any of those sects. Lan Jingqi was a cousin of Lan Wangji and a direct blood descent of the Lan clan, thus making him the heir of the Gusu Lan sect if Lan Wangji or Lan Xichen didn't produce an heir. Ouyang Zizhen is the son of the sect leader of the Ouyang sect, but after word got out that his father treated him very badly, he was taken in as a disciple by the Jiang sect instead, under Jiang Cheng's care. And Wen Rulan was, of course, the son of Jiang Yanli and Wen Qing, yet he also wanted to learn how to wield a sword. Since the new Wen sect focuses on healing and Jiang Yanli refrained from using swords, he was originally a Jiang disciple as well, but he and Ouyang Zizhen caused too much trouble together, which is why he was sent to become a Jin disciple instead, making him quite close with Jin Zixuan.

Said four juniors sheepishly came out at the stern voice of Lan Wangji, mentally getting ready for a scolding, but it didn't come.

"Get ready." the man just said.

This made all of them freeze, especially Wei Yuan. They knew why all the sects had gathered in Yiling, but they had tried to distract themselves. The few minutes of peace and laughter they shared were quickly shattered and they had to face reality instead. That reality became obvious with the frowns and sorrow on their father figures' faces. It was Wei Wuxian's ten-year death anniversary and all of the sects came to Yiling, were their omega's left-over Carnelian stone had been buried ten years ago.

Only Wei Yuan had actually known Wei Wuxian, but he along with the four alphas had always happily talked about the late hero who had saved their lives more than once. The juniors often felt like they had known the man as well, by how well they knew him and they often got sad when they remembered that they would never get the chance to meet the man. Because after all, he had been dead for quite a while now and everyone had given up hope that he would come back. He would never come back to be their mother figure. He would never come back to be the omega his alphas' had always longed for him to be. He would never come back.

The four of them excused themselves to get ready for the banquet, leaving just the three alphas. Wen Ning wasn't with them, he would join them later. For now, he was with Wen Qing to take care of some things.

They felt suffocated in the silence but nobody knew what to say. Ten years. It had been ten years already. Ten years without their omega. Ten years without his loud laughter. Ten years without his gorgeous smile. Ten years without hearing his comforting or flirty words. Ten years. Ten years they should've been dead as well.

It was common knowledge that one wasn't able to survive without their omega or alpha for long. Usually, if your significant other died, you would die shortly after. Wei Ying had not been affected like this when Wen Ning died, because he still had soulmate bonds with three other people, although unknowingly, so his soul could handle the potential loss of another. Yet the four alphas were only bonded with Wei Ying, not with each other. Why were they not dead? They were supposed to be dead.

Yet despite this, they never had a doubt that Wei Ying was their omega. From the first moment they had met him, they all had known. But why were they still alive? Nobody understood.

Another thing that baffled them, was that after all these years nobody had shown up, revealing to be the last of the five auspicious beasts. Usually, one would notice if one's omega died, so they should've turned up there and reveal themselves, but no one did.

They decided not to dwell on it any longer and got ready for the banquet as well, all of them wearing red hair ribbons to honor Wei Wuxian.

Meanwhile, another person was on his way to Yiling, whistling in delight, with three other people trailing behind him. One of them was a girl with white eyes, that was happily gnawing on a candy. Another one of them was a man with an icy look in his eyes who looked around, ready to protect his companions if he needed to. His third companion was a man with incomparable beauty and the gentlest of smiles. Well, maybe he would've found someone whose beauty compared to the man's, but that other man was currently dead.

This man was none other than Xue Yang, someone Wei Wuxian had considered a best friend many many years ago. He was accompanied by Song Lan and Xiao Xingchen, two loyal friends and people he had found to be his own omega and alpha. He had always thought he would never have his own soulmate bond since he was a beta, so he was overjoyed when he had arrived at Baoshan Sanren's mountain and had met the alpha Song Lan and the omega Xiao Xingchen, who he had quickly realized were his very own soulmates. It had still taken him a while to get over Wei Wuxian and they had both understood that, yet now, ten years later, they were years into a happy relationship. On their journeys, they had at one point picked up A-Qing who was considered as a younger sister by all of them.

The reason why they had left Baoshan Sanren's mountain many years ago, was that they had set out to find out the truth. The truth about Wei Wuxian. Song Lan had been skeptical and jealous when Xue Yang revealed he wanted to find out to help his best friend, but Xiao Xingchen had quietly scolded him and told him that if it weren't for Wei Wuxian, they would've never found Xue Yang in the first place. Song Lan had softened at this and had agreed to find out the truth about Wei Wuxian. After many years, their countless travels had finally been fruitful, only for them to find out that Wei Wuxian had died many years ago, breaking Xue Yang's heart. But after putting together the pieces of what he had gathered, he brightened up again and had started their last travel of this specific journey, to meet the boy's alphas and reassure them that everything would be fine.

While on their way to Yiling, Xue Yang thought about how he would reveal what he had found out. How Wei Wuxian's parents, Cangse Sanren and Wei Cangze, had visited Lián Fú who had told them of their son's never-ending misery if they didn't do anything about it. How his four alphas would be his end. So they had done everything to suppress his spirit animal and secondary gender for as long as possible. His bond to Wen Ning was platonic, so it was a loophole they hadn't considered. And their whole plan had backfired in the end, since Wei Ying still died protecting his alphas.

In the end, they had even found out Wei Wuxian's spirit animal, which ultimately was the reason they knew everything would be okay.

When they arrived in Yiling, they quickly tried to find all of the sects and found them already in the inn where the banquet would be held. Everyone had immediately raised their weapons at the intruders, thinking that they would cause any harm, yet when Jiang Cheng recognized Xue Yang, his eyes widened and he immediately ordered everyone to put down their weapons.

"Xue Yang?" he exclaimed, confusion laced in his voice.

"Jiang Cheng!" he called back, smirking while bowing to the sect leaders.

"What are you doing here?" the Jiang sect leader had quickly rushed over, Jin Zixuan, Lan Wangji and Wen Qionglin hot on his tails.

"I know some things that might be of interest to you."

But before he could ask to talk to them in private, another irrelevant sect leader had rushed all of them to sit again, giving the four new arrivals seats and something to drink as well. Xue Yang tried to shake them off and get to the alphas again, since it was urgent, but they didn't let him. Before he could do anything about it, a huge commotion started. They heard loud noises coming from the outside, people screaming, things breaking, more people screaming. Nobody knew what was going on, so they all grabbed their weapons and rushed out to the source of all the noise. When they arrived they were greeted by the brightest red light they had ever seen and were blinded by it, which made them unable to see anything.

"It's the crystal! Wei Wuxian's Carnelian!" someone exclaimed, causing many to gasp.

The carnelian that was leftover instead of the man's corpse was quite infamous.

"What do you mean it's the Carnelian?" Jin Zixuan sounded frantic.

"The Carnelian is the thing that's glowing! Me and a few others came here earlier and something weird was happening with it! It kept growing bigger and glowing brighter! And then it suddenly exploded and this bright light appeared instead!" the person exclaimed, but they didn't know exactly who it was since they were still unable to see.

The four alphas tried to get to the source of light, desperate to save the last thing that was left of their omega except his Chenqing and his Suibian. Wen Qionglin tried to make the light bend to his will, Lan Wangji tried to neutralize it with blue light, Jiang Wanyin tried to get through with his tunneling and Jin Zixuan tried to jump over with his super leaping. But all of them failed. All they could do was stand there and watch as their omega's last remaining object potentially disappeared. They were almost as afraid as back then, when they had lost their actual omega.

Xue Yang however smirked. Guess he wouldn't have to tell them then, it was already happening.

And before anyone could do anything, the red light grew even more blinding before turning into meter high flames. Everything they saw was fire, yet nothing seemed to burn. It seemed more like heavenly fire than normal fire. And then they heard a loud noise before an unidentifiable red bird leaped into the sky right before their eyes. The color of the bird could only be described as Vermilion, it was very similar to the color of the Jin sect's vermilion forehead marks.

All of their eyes widened while they watched the bird fly up to spread its wings, which made it obvious that the bird itself was also made up of flames. They all gasped when they recognized it wasn't just some random firebird, but the Vermilion Bird. The Phoenix. The fifth auspicious animal. They turned to look at the other four auspicious animals who looked just as shocked as them. And confused. Very confused.

Why did the fifth auspicious animal decide to reveal himself now? On such an important yet sad day? They watched in suspicion as the Vermilion bird flew back down and landed right in front of them. He then started to turn back, right in front of their very eyes.

With each centimeter that he shrunk and changed his appearance to that of a human, their eyes widened. And then he was in the form of a normal human. A pale human wearing black-red robes with the flame symbols of the Qishan Wen sect, the Gusu Lan ribbon tying together his ponytail, the Lanling Jin sect's Vermilion forehead mark adorning his face and the Yunmeng Jiang clarity bell hanging from his robes. He was wearing his significant smile.

Nobody knew what to say, so it was very quiet. The first one who was able to move was Wei Sizhui.

"A-Niang!" he cried out and ran towards him, immediately embracing his long-lost mother figure.

He was confused for a second but when he recognized the boy's smell, he quickly returned the hug and breathed out shakily, "A-Yuan."

The young boy was sobbing in his mother's arms, while Wei Ying patted his head lovingly. This finally made others move as well. Jiang Yanli ran to her little brother, embracing him tightly with Jiang Fengmian and Yu Ziyuan following after her, greeting the boy with soft smiles. Nie Huaisang also ran over to greet his old friend. Xue Yang eventually also made his way over, with his little family following after him.

When Wei Ying saw him, his eyes widened, "A-Yang!"

Xue Yang noticeably let out a breath. Despite knowing that his best friend would be fine, deep down he had still been worried. He quickly hugged the older one, breathing in his familiar scent.

"I see you finally found someone of your own." Wei Wuxian grinned at him after he had seen the other people.

Xue Yang blushed at this, but quickly brushed it off. He would always feel something for Wei Ying, he was his first love after all, but he was happy with his two soulmates and A-Qing and he wouldn't do anything to change it.

About an hour later, everyone had greeted the fifth auspicious beast. Well, everyone but the other auspicious beasts. They had been frozen in the same spot and just kept staring at their omega, piningly yet dumbfounded but then understanding.

Of course. How could they have been so blind? For years they had thought there was a fifth alpha for their omega, completely ignoring all the signs. His abilities spoke for themselves and his familiarity with Phoenix Mountain did as well. And when the Carnelian, a stone symbolizing vitality and aliveness, showed up in his place while glowing brightly, that should've really been a sign to them. But they had blindly ignored it and thought that their omega was just some random person. Of course the omega of the auspicious beasts would be an auspicious beast as well, it made sense.

When everyone else had gone back in already, only the five of them were still outside. Wei Ying chuckled adoringly when he noticed all of their dumbfounded looks. He then went closer to them and finally they woke up from their trance and felt able to move. Wen Ning was the first one who quickly hugged his omega tightly while he kept on apologizing. He still thought it was his fault that his omega had been dead for ten years before- before being resurrected. It still sounded surreal.

Then Wen Ning had went in as well, deciding to see if Wei Yuan was fine. If Wei Ying had noticed him calling his son Wei Yuan, he didn't say anything.

He went a few steps closer to his other three alphas who then all pulled him into one big hug.

"Guys- I- need- I need to- to breathe!" he gasped out.

"Wei Ying." Lan Zhan breathed into his neck, causing him to shiver.

Before he could do anything about it, the three of them were already scenting him, causing him to chuckle.

Nobody knew what to say. They were content with just embracing and scenting the boy, everything else came after. They didn't even want an explanation, as it was quite obvious why he was here. And Wei Ying was more than happy with just hugging his alphas. He didn't properly get the chance to do so in his last life after all.

The banquet had then been turned into a re-birth celebration instead of the mourning banquet it had originally been intended to be. Wei Wuxian was delighted when he got emperor's smile so shortly after being resurrected.

But there was one thing that still worried everyone.

"A-Xian... you are... will you be immortal forever? Will you keep on being reborn?" Jiang Cheng asked in worry.

They didn't know if they would be able to go through ten years without their omega again.

"Ah, I will forever be immortal but I won't always be reborn. The whole dying and being reborn thing only happens if I am hurt by someone else's hands, but I don't have a thing such as natural death," he explained.

"But what if someone... hurts you again?" Wen Ning was worried.

"Well, for one, they wouldn't dare to. Also, I am now aware of who I am so I can protect myself better. And... after being reborn, I got a new golden core." he shrugged.

Everyone nodded in understanding but they had one last question.

"If... you don't have a natural death... What if... What if we are the ones dying? What are you gonna do then?" Jin Zixuan sounded concerned.

Wei Ying just chuckled and sipped from his emperor's smile again, confusing everyone.

"What?" Lan Zhan asked.

"Didn't you notice?" Wei Ying raised his eyebrows.

They shook his head, which made him laugh again.

"You spent so much time doing god knows what, that you didn't even notice you're not aging anymore."

They all looked at each other with widened eyes. What was he saying?

"I'm just saying. You three look exactly the same as you did ten years ago, while everyone else looks at least slightly older. What does that say about you? Surely you must know that even with good genes, you will look a little older at some point." he raised his eyebrows.

"That means..." Jiang Cheng whispered.

"You all cultivated to immortality," he confirmed.

There hadn't been many people who had done this before. Baoshan Sanren and Lián Fú had been two of these people but besides them, there weren't many known ones. Now the five auspicious beasts had joined them in immortality, one way or another, and people couldn't say they were surprised. They should've seen it coming.

What they didn't see coming either, were the many joys coming at them in the next few years.

Chapter Text

The alphas had claimed Wei Ying as their omega shortly after. They had waited so long already and they would rather die than let anything get between them and their omega again. Now, there were other matters to attend to.

"Lotus Pier!"

"No, Koi Tower!"

"Cloud Recesses."

"Oh hell no!"

Wei Ying just sighed and drank from his Emperor's smile.

"The wedding should be held in Lotus Pier! He grew up there and it's the closest thing to a home he has!" Jiang Cheng repeated.

"But Koi Tower is pretty much in the middle of all the places, so it's the most convenient for other people!" Jin Zixuan protested.

"Cloud Recesses is quiet.".

"Which is exactly why the wedding won't be held at Cloud Recesses." Jiang Cheng sighed in annoyance, and Jin Zixuan surprisingly agreed with him.

"What about Yiling?" Wen Ning suddenly suggested, causing everyone to look at him.

"Yiling is where he was reborn, so maybe it- it would be nice to hold the wedding there too..."

They all thought about it shortly and then agreed that it was the best idea.

"Yiling it is then." Wei Ying grinned.

Months later the wedding date had been chosen, all the preparations had been made and everything was ready. Everyone was ready. Everyone except the omega who was to be married.

Xue Yang was the one who sought out said omega, intending to tell him what he had found out since he knew this would finally give the boy closure.

"A-Ying!" he smiled gently at the boy he now considered a brother.

"A-Yang." the boy returned the smile, albeit reluctantly.

"There's something I think you should know." he started hesitantly.

"What is it?" Wei Ying asked in worry.

"Me, Xingchen, Xichen and A-Qing- we were traveling. Looking for answers."

Wei Ying blinked a few times before he understood and his eyes widened.

"You- you did that? For- for me?" he teared up slightly.

"Of course! I am hopelessly devoted to you. I consider you a soulmate, even though we are not." he smiled at his eldest friend who promptly embraced him in a tight hug.

"I didn't even tell you yet!"

"Even if you didn't find out anything, the fact that you went on a journey to find out my truth- it's enough." Xue Yang could hear the older one choking on his words.

"Can I tell you now?" he giggled slightly.

"Yeah, yeah, of course!"

"Your parents went to Lian Fu, who told them that you would be an omega and an auspicious beast. She also told them of your sad fate in your first life, to die and leave behind five longing alphas. Wei Changze and Cangse Sanren wanted to protect both you and your alphas from the misery you would go through, so they suppressed your spirit animal and secondary gender, in hopes of you living a normal life without doing any of the great things you were meant for. But you still did and their whole plan backfired because now you had to go through everything without your spirit animal."

Wei Ying sobbed out. Finally, he knew his own truth and was able to find closure.

"Thank you." he whispered into his friend's ear.

Now, Wei Ying was ready for the wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony. The four of them, along with Wen Ning who served as Wei Ying's best man, were wearing robes in vermilion and gold. The wedding was huge, with many guests, a lot of music and presents, but still felt very familiar and comfortable for everyone present. It was the most beautiful wedding in years, if not the most beautiful wedding of all time. Wei Ying, later on, admitted that he didn't remember much, due to getting drunk on Emperor's smile. He did, however, remember the soft smiles he was given by his alphas, who were now his husbands. And he remembered the proud smiles of his family when he was kissed by all three of them.

What he didn't remember, was the scene that must've gone on during the wedding night. When he woke up, he was barely able to walk. Not only because his alphas were lying around him, each of them embracing him protectively, but also because every time he moved he felt a pain going through his whole body. In the end, he decided to just continue sleeping, in the comforting presence of his alphas.

Nobody else mentioned said happenings of last night. When he asked, they only smirked and told him that he had promised them every day, which made his eyes widen. If he couldn't move after one time, or however many times they did it last night, how bad would it be if they did this every day?

He decided not to dwell on it any longer and tried to enjoy being able to lie there without doing anything. If other people had heard their activities last night, they didn't speak about it either.

A few weeks later, just when the alphas were done with their everyday activities, Wei Ying's eyes suddenly widened and he jumped up frantically, ignoring the pain in his body. He crawled to the toilet and vomited. His alphas immediately rushed to his side. Had they been too rough? But Wei Ying quickly reassured them that that wasn't the case. So they quickly called over Wen Ning. After asking a few questions and running a few tests, Wen Ning was sure of the mysterious source of Wei Ying's sudden vomiting.

"Pregnant. Wei Ying is pregnant," he announced with a smile.

They were shocked for a moment, but then they all broke out in smiles as well. Though they didn't speak about it, their everyday activities spoke for themselves. They all wanted to see Wei Ying round and glowing, carrying a child. Sure, they didn't know whose child he was carrying but they knew that they would all be considered their father. And they hoped that at one point in time, they could all say that Wei Wuxian had carried their own child.

Chapter Text

As the chapter name says, this is not an actual chapter and will be deleted after I got a few answers (but dont worry, I'm already working on the next chapter and I might be able to publish it in a few hours).

As I briefly mentioned in a note before, I started thinking about what to write after I finish this book. I already mentioned then, that I don't want to repeat previous mistakes, such as writing the first plot that comes to my head just for the sake of writing ANYTHING, since it has often caused me to have writer's block and in the end, I never finished those books. So I've done some thinking and have come up with two plots that I thought about further.

1. Writing an original series based on a universe I started creating last year. This would include multiple works in the series, extensive worldbuilding, lots of original characters etc.

2. Writing an AU with the characters of MDZS but with a whole different plot. The plot would be inspired by but not directly taken from a german book and movie series called the Edensteintrilogie by Kerstin Gier, which I've read when I was still younger. It includes things such as time travelling.

Please tell me which you would prefer! If you want to know more about option 1 and the universe I created or what the books in the series are about, feel free to ask and I will provide a link for the Wikia I created for the universe!

I hope I will get some opinions,

~ Ria

Chapter Text

Hi! I just wanted to give a quick update on this and why I didn't upload the last chapter yet! So the thing is, the last chapter would be focused a lot on sweet moments of Wei Ying with his alphas as well as short moments with their kids. However, I'm not sure how many kids they should have... I don't wanna do too many, but also not too little? I've also been thinking about later on writing extra chapters, each one focusing on the life of one of their kids (including A-Yuan), do tell me if you'd be interested in that! If I did that, all of their kids would get names, personalities, spirit animals, secondary gender, etc, I might even give them face claims, I'm not sure yet... But do let me know if you wanna see something like this! And as I mentioned before, do tell me if you have any ideas for children (whether it's names, spirit animal, secondary gender or whatever). If I wrote extra chapters, it would also give me some more time to decide on the next story (I might include the two books' full synopsis in one of the extra chapters as a note so you'd actually know the actual plots of them instead of just vague ideas).

Please tell me your opinion on these things!
~ Ria!