Suibian was a well-known sword. The only blade of the infamous Yilling Patriarch. It was a very recognizable blade despite how understated it appeared. The stories and myths surrounding the blade were legendary, even more so after Wei Wuxian’s death.
Suibian was only ever loyal to one master, and while many had been able to use it when he was alive, as soon as he vanished, it sealed itself; unwilling to open to anyone else.
This was the well-known story about the blade, and 5 years after Wei Wuxian’s death, the sword came into the cultivator’s world once more. Jiang Cheng had been partitioning the Jin clan for years, regarding the return of his once-head-disciple’s sword, and finally, after Jin Guangshan’s untimely, and rather, scandalous demise, he was able to secure a public meeting for its return.
The LanlingJin sect's main entertaining hall was large, it was grotesquely ornate, decorated with gold and peonies on white jade as far as the eye could see. It had always made Jiang Cheng feel uncomfortable, the gross posturing of wealth, when hidden inside, was a wretched corruption that sinks its teeth into anyone who lives here. There was a reason Jin Ling was staying at Lotus Pier most of the time, however, he had brought his 5-year-old nephew with him, to visit with Jin Guangyao.
Jin Ling was off playing outside while the major and minor sect leaders met for this conference, it would have been too boring for the small child, hell it was too boring for Jiang Cheng.
He watched as Jin Guangyao lead the conference through its beginning stages, and paid his own respects to the chief cultivator, before sitting back and waiting for his turn. He watched the crowds enter, momentarily surprised that the illustrious Hanguang-Jun had deigned to show up for once, sitting beside his elder brother Lan Xichen.
Jin Guangyao tilted his head and a few Jin disciples entered the room holding Suibian in all its glory, and Jiang Cheng straightened up. At the chief cultivator’s gesture, he stood up and approached the raised dais.
“After locating the Yilling Patriarch’s sword, and keeping watch over the sealed blade for years to make sure that he would not be able to return back to this world; the Jin sect has decided to accept the Jiang sect’s proposal of their storing the blade. It was forged there, so there it should rest,” Jin Guangyao smiled, as the disciples offered the sword to Jiang Cheng, who bowed before grasping it by the hilt.
“The Yunmeng Jiang sect is honoured by this opportunity and-” Jiang Cheng broke off, looking down at his hand. As he had been responding to the platitudes Jin Guangyao had been spouting, he had grasped the blade and drew it closer to him,. As the sword was sealed to anyone other than Wei Wuxian, the Yilling Patriarch, himself, there should have been no issues. However, as with anything regarding his adopted-brother, it was not that easy.
Suibian had... unsheathed.
In his hand, the sword who would answer to no one but his brother had answered him.
His pause was noted, as he slid the sword back into its sheath.
“After 5 years Suibian has unsealed itself?” he whispered, head tilting in confusion
Jin Guangyao looked down at the sword in question before holding out his hand.
“May I?” he asked, indicating to the hilt. Jiang Cheng nodded, offering the sword by the scabbard.
Jin Guangyao’s fingers closed around the extended hilt and pulled.
Not even a sliver of wiggle.
“What?” Jiang Cheng mouthed, staring at the, very clearly still sealed, blade.
Jin Guangyao’s smile fell a little, as he looked over the sword.
“You aren’t hiding anything from me, regarding Wei Wuxian, are you Sandu Shengshou?” he asked, slowly.
Jiang Cheng shook his head.
“No, I don’t know what the hell just happened? A Fluke?” he exclaimed, confusion and hurt evident in his tone.
By now, the rest of the room was paying close attention to the two sect leaders.
There were disgruntled murmurs coming from the assembled clan leaders. Jiang Cheng could hear the rustling of robes behind him, and he wondered, not for the first time if this is how Wei Wuxian had felt during the last discussion conference he had attended.
“Of course you don’t,” Jin Guangyao replied, hands held out placatingly.
“He’s the Yilling Patriarch!” came a cry from the crowd, and many voices were agreeing to its plea.
“He didn’t kill his brother, they must have conspired together, so that he could come back! That’s why Sandu Shengshou was so invested in getting the sword!” came another conspiracy from the crowd.
Jiang Cheng had heard enough.
“How dare you?!” he yelled, Zidian sparking up from his free hand.
“He killed my sister and my brother-in-law and you dare claim that I helped him! I disowned him!” Jiang Cheng seethed, the room’s atmosphere became thick, like a storm was brewing.
“Friends, friends, please let us relax. No one would dare think you, the noble Sandu Shengshou, Sect Leader of the Yunmeng Jiang sect would do such a thing. After all, you killed him didn’t you?” Jin Guangyao soothed the room, waiting on Jiang Cheng’s response.
A second’s delay before Jiang Cheng nodded, it was not a lie, per-say. He had struck the blow which Wei Wuxian used to break Lan Wangji’s hold on him, letting him plummet to his death; but there had been no body to be found.
The crowd backed off reluctantly, and even he could see that this would not be the end of his troubles. He turned back to face the chief cultivator before bowing his leave, Jin Guangyao smiled before dipping his head.
“Due to this excitement, I am declaring a short recess” Jin Guangyao stated, shooing the amassed cultivators out of the door.
Jiang Cheng stormed out of the hall, and into the family wing of the Jin sect. He needed to see his nephew, he needed to calm down, he needed his family… or what remains of it.
As he entered the gardens of the family wing, he felt a bit of his rage fade as he saw Jin Ling playing in the grass.
He could see the moment his nephew realized he had arrived by the huge grin the fell across his face. Jiang Cheng’s shoulders released a little more tension as Jin Ling started running towards his uncle.
As soon as Jin Ling was within his grasp, Jiang Cheng lifted him up and rested him against his hip.
“A-Ling! Have you been good?” he asked, gently bouncing the small child, who beamed at the attention.
“Yes jiùjiu! I stayed in the garden, and did not leave!” he grinned, pointing at the area of grass where some of his toys had been set out.
Jiang Cheng patted his head softly, as he carried him over there, carefully setting the 5-year-old down, and sitting in the grass beside him.
“Keep playing A-Ling, I’m going to sit here,” he said softly as straightened his back and put Suibian on the grass beside him.
With Jin Ling’s sound of playing and laughter echoing around him, grounding him, he took a deep breath and thought back to that fateful day. The day his brother died.
Jiang Cheng was angry, he was heartbroken. Wei Wuxian was the reason his jiejie, Jiang Yanli was dead. If Wei Wuxian hadn’t been there if he had just listened! Then they wouldn’t be in this predicament. Jiang Yanli wouldn’t have bled to death in his arms, after saving his older brother’s life.
But Jiang Cheng hadn’t meant to kill him. Yes, he had thrust his sword into the cliff next to Wei Wuxian’s arm, but it wasn’t meant to have been a killing thrust. He had never been good at expressing his emotions, too similar to his mother in that regard, and look at where it left him, with only one living family member.
So Jiang Cheng took a deep breath, centring on his golden core, as he vowed not to make the same mistake again.
When Jiang Cheng surfaced from his brief meditation, he noticed he and Jin Ling were not alone in the courtyard.
Sitting across from him, in white mourning robes, was Hanguang-Jun.
Jiang Cheng jumped before glaring at the man.
It was a well-known fact, amongst the cultivating world, that Hanguang-Jun and Sandu Shengshou did not get along. Oh sure, during the SunShot campaign they worked together well enough, trying to locate and bring down Wen Chao (and find Wei Wuxian); but ever since the incident at the feast where Lan Wangji stood up for Wei Wuxian, and Jiang Cheng did not, animosity remained the main emotion betwixt them.
“What do you want?” he spat at the man in white.
Lan Wangji looked over the sect leader’s back, making sure Jin Ling was ignoring them to play with his toys, before meeting Jiang Cheng’s gaze. His golden eyes flickered over purple as he searched for something. Hanguang-Jun sighed and hunched over slightly in defeat.
“I had hoped… that perhaps Wei Ying lived on in you,” was the quiet response. Jiang Cheng frowned, and picked up the sword, glaring at it.
“He’s dead, probably, you were there. You saw him fall,” he muttered, cautiously reaching again for the hilt of the sword.
“No body was found, no one can find his soul,” Lan Wangji intoned, watching his movements intently.
Jiang Cheng tensed before he slowly drew the blade, his brows furrowed further as he scowled at the blade.
“No one could have survived that fall Hanguang-Jun,” he glowered, before sheathing the blade again. He then sighed, offering the blade to Lan Wangji.
“Just… unsheathe it,” he groused.
Lan Wangji nodded slowly, before pulling on the hilt. It did not budge.
“Why?!” Jiang Cheng bellowed, angrily throwing the sword on the ground.
Hanguang-Jun picked up the sword and reverently held it, while the sect leader shoved the balls of his hands into his eyes.
“Did he curse me? The last prank he ever played, yeah let’s just seal my sword and make it so only Jiang Cheng can open it, it’ll be a riot!” he muttered, shaking a little as he tried to calm down.
“Wei Ying would not curse you, he loved you,” Lan Wangji stated, as though it were a fact. Jiang Cheng grimaced.
“I stabbed him, and then I killed him. I’m sure he would find it fitting to curse me to be lumped with his name for eternity,” he sighed, slowly looking up to see Hanguang-Jun still holding the sword.
Lan Wangji shook his head.
“He would not let me follow him, and he would not let his siblings help him because it would drag our names through the dirt. The one thing he never wanted was to bring those he loved down to the level he was forced to. This cannot have been a prank,” he declared, resolutely.
Jiang Cheng sighed, tilting his head back to look at the sky, and avoid seeing how tenderly the other man was holding his ex-brother’s sword.
“If not a prank then what? Hm? Well, I guess it doesn’t matter, just another gods damned mess he leaves me to clean up,” he muttered, bringing a hand up to rub at his face.
As he finished his sentence, a Jin servant entered the courtyard and bowed to both of the seated men.
“The Chief Cultivator has seent me to inform you that the recess is over, and your presence is required, Sect Leader Jiang,” they said with a bow.
With another hefty sigh, Jiang Cheng stood up.
“I will be there shortly,” he said to the servant, before turning to Jin Ling.
He walked over and gave the little boy’s head a gentle pat.
“Be good okay, A-Ling? I will see you later,” the purple-clad man declared, as his small nephew jumped up and hugged his leg.
“Okay, jiùjiu!” Jin Ling said, going to release his leg before pausing.
“But only if jiùjiu also promises to be good!” he exclaimed, softly pouting up at his uncle, as though the Sandu Shengshou could deny his nephew anything.
Jiang Cheng rolled his eyes before holding out his hand with three fingers raised to the sky.
“I promise to be good,” he stated, a small smile tugging at his lips. Jin Ling stares at him for a moment, before judging him to be sincere and nodding, going back to playing with his toys.
As soon as the child turned his back, Jiang Cheng brought his hand back to his side and faced Lan Wangji to pick up the sword. He paused as he took in the turmoil on the other’s face.
“What?” Jiang Cheng asked, tucking Suibian back into his belt the same way he had carried it prior to the sunshot campaign.
“I… nothing. You just… Wei Ying made promises like that,” Lan Wangji stuttered, not looking at the sect leader as he also stood up. Jiang Cheng snorted.
“Of course he did, that’s how Yunmeng people make promises, idiot,” he said, before walking out of the courtyard back to the main hall, with Hanguang-Jun trailing behind.
Once inside, Jiang Cheng stood in front of Jin Guangyao, as the other sect leaders sat in their respective seats.
“Sect Leader Jiang, in light of this recent development, we feel it would be best if you were to return Suibian to the Jin sect for safekeeping and stay here a bit longer, under observation, just to make sure nothing… untoward has happened,” Jin Guangyao stated, with a gentle, apologetic smile on his face.
“What? Why?!” Jiang Cheng frowned, resting his hand protectively in Suibian. The Chief Cultivator looked taken aback by the angered response.
“Surely you can understand our concern, Sandu Shengshou. After all, the Yilling Patriarch’s sword is sealed, only he can open it, and now you open it in front of all the cultivation leaders? It’s just to offer reassurance,” The soft smile had returned. Jiang Cheng tilted his head, there was some truth in Jin Guangyao’s words.
“How long would I have to remain in observation?” he asked, hand clenching slightly at the humiliation of it. Jin Guangyao’s smile grew.
“A few weeks, a month at most,” he said, with a calculating gleam in his eye. Jiang Cheng tensed.
“Unacceptable, I need to manage my sect!” he exclaimed. The Chief cultivator frowned.
“Sandu Shengshou, please think this through. I would hate to have to forcibly detain you,” Jin Guangyao sighed.
“You can try,” Jiang Cheng snarled, as his grip tightened on Sandu, and Zidian sparked.
“So be it,” Jin Guangyao muttered disappointedly, waving his guards forward to intercept the purple-clad man.