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For the days after, Lan Wangji floats in a fog of blankness and grief so powerful he feels like he is drowning. His chest is heavy under the weight of the knowledge that Wei Ying has killed himself, has given the last of what he can give to the world that has demanded more and more from him, and Lan Wangji has been one of them who never told him it was enough.

And Lan Wangji did not realize so, not until he holds his entirety in his arms. His entire world shrank down until only Wei Ying mattered in front of him, but even then, it felt like he was watching everything proceed through a window.

He remembered the weight of Wei Ying in his arms as he steps onto bichen, the sword aimed towards what has been Wei Ying’s home for the last years. Jiang Wanyin and Lan Xichen, scrambling after him, demanding where he is going. Jiang Wanyin, gripping onto his arms too tight, and Lan Wangji was ready to fight and struck him down right there if not for the faltering cries of Jiang Yanli in front of him. She pleaded, begged him to let them take Wei Wuxian back to Lotus Pier, and Lan Wangji only abided once he realized there is no way he will reach the Burial Mounds in his haze of exhaustion and grief with a dead (Wei Ying is dead -) weight in his arms. He does not look at the gaping wound on his neck that is still bubbling with blood, nor the peaceful, gentle expression on his face that is so at odds with the endless amount of blood.

He remembered his brother loosening his tight fingers clenched around Wei Ying, and it felt like he had just lost the anchor to the world. It felt like the first time he has ever stepped onto bichen – he had looked down under him and sees the ground so far away, feeling like there is nothing under him and he is falling. His window to the world shrinks, but he thinks he still sees Wei Ying’s head lolling down in Jiang Wanyin’s arms, and the gapping maw of the wound on his neck opens even larger.

The presence of Wei Ying’s siblings beside him and the shouting of cultivators in the background are inconsequential to the fact that Wei Ying has bled out in his arms, and he is still bleeding, and won’t stop –

“Breath, didi.” There is a hand on his shoulder and his brother’s voice in front of him. He takes a deep breath, and Wei Ying’s blood rushes down his nose and throat and into his lungs and buries itself under his skin.

(He never knew a person, Wei Ying, can bleed so much.)

He breaths in greedily, reviling in the presence of Wei Ying deep inside of him. He will never let go again.

“I will – I will come to Lotus Pier. After. For Wei Ying.” He had rasped out and fled. He did not listen to the sputtered protest from Jiang Wanyin that was halted by a gentle hand on his arm from Jiang Yanli, nor the gentle protests of Lan Xichen.

He doesn’t remember how long he flew until he stumbles against the corpse barrier, and he doesn’t remember the dread and fear when shouts of A-Yuan echoes without answer. There will be nothing attaching him to this world if Wei Ying’s child is gone after him, and Lan Wangji does not know what he would do if he doesn’t find him. He doesn’t remember how long he spent, stumbling around the dead forest of the Burial Mounds, and he doesn’t remember how he found Wen Yuan. But – he remembers something settling in him when he sees the fevered child in a hollowed tree trunk far away from where their village once sat.

His small hands were curled around a tattered, red ribbon, and when Lan Wangji picked him up, “Xian-gege?” pauses on the way out, and Wen Yuan passes out.

He returns to the cave that Wei Ying lived in for two years with Wen Yuan in his arms. Everywhere he turns, he sees traces of Wei Ying in the cluster of talismans on the floor and the unmade bed. He gathers each scroll, smoothing through them like they are prized jewels. He puts them in his qiankun bag. He looks around for more things – things that may tell him how Wei Ying has lived for the last few years, but there are nothing except for notes and farming tools and old, worn clothes.

He leaves. Once he steps out of the cave, he lights a fire talisman like how Wei Ying taught him, and doesn’t watch Wei Ying’s home go up in flames.

 

Lan Wangji tumbles down his sword ungracefully when the open doors of Lotus Pier came into view, and he hears himself demand for a healer. He feels gentle hands pulling him up, and oh when is he kneeling on the ground, and questions asking who this child is where does he come from.

He says a-Yuan and shows them the tattered red ribbon with the crest of the nine petal lotus on it, and he sees the horrifying understanding on their faces. Jiang Yanli chokes and falls to her knees beside him, and he think he sees Jiang Wanyin shaking where he stands above them. Lan Wangji holds onto a-Yuan tighter when the healer tries to take him from his arms, and he could only follow numbly when the healer understands and leads them to the infirmary without taking a-Yuan from him.

He lives in the infirmary for the week while a-Yuan lays tossing and turning.

Jiang Wanyin, somehow, does not protest to the presence of Gusu Lan’s second young master, nor does he see to him. He clenches Chenqing and hangs suibian on his side, and Lan Wangji hears his rages at night where a-Yuan’s fevered cries and memories of laughter also keeps him past his bedtime.

-

On the first night, he kneels outside the Jiang’s ancestral hall, and listens to the sobs of Jiang Yanli inside.

On the second night, he waits for silence before he unstraps his guqin from his back. He begins to play outside the ancestral hall.

On the third night, Jiang Wanyin stomps up to him and brings him inside. He has a strange look on his face while he says, “Who am I to deny Wei Wuxian’s husband to see him?”

They both understood the consequences of his snap second decision at Nightless City. In binding his head ribbon to Wei Wuxian, Lan Wangji had effectively told those who understand that the Yiling Patriarch is bound to Hanguangjun through marriage. He had said fuck you to the demands of making an example out of the Yiling Patriarch’s ashes. 

Wei Ying’s body lies in a dark, solid coffin, placed in the middle of the Jiang’s ancestral home.

Jiang Wanyin bows with him to the plaques of former Sect Leader Jiang and his wife, and then he brings forward the plaques of Cangse Sanren and Wei Changze from behind and Lan Wangji bow to them, three times, alone. “You might as well explain to his parents what you did.” His intonation is still strange and Lan Wangji thinks he hears struggling sadness and jealousy and anger, though Lan Wangji does not ask. He turns on his heels, and Lan Wangji is left alone with the ghosts of his mistakes and the misery of the time passed.

Wei Ying’s coffin matches him, he thinks morbidly. He does not know how to handle this information – has Wei Ying known, before he left Yunmeng Jiang, that the next time he returns home will be in a coffin tailor made for him and all his unrestrained, unapologetic mannerisms? Has he looked at the dead bodies of his family and the coffin they were never placed into, and then decided he will follow?

The coffin is a dark, warm wood – the same colour as the wooden beams that built up Lotus Pier. Wei Ying had jumped and ran circles around him times and times again in what seemed like yesterday, and pleaded for him to visit the place that had raised him and made him into who he is. He said he would take Lan Wangji to his favourite lotus ponds and steal lotus seeds for him, for him to visit his favourite stalls on the pier, and Lan Wangji had listened with restrained interest that he dared not to express out loud.

He regrets it now.

Wei Ying is surrounded by his childhood that he can never revisit.

There are carvings, motifs of the nine-petal lotus along the edges of the coffin, and all of them open to where Wei Ying’s head is placed against soft, gentle purple fabric. His eyes are closed, and he still has that soft secretive smile that doesn't belong on his face. Wei Ying's smiles are supposed to be uninhibited and wide in their joy. Someone had cleaned all the blood off him and then covered the gaping wound with a high collar, and Lan Wangji can almost pretend he is just sleeping except he doesn’t think Wei Ying ever sleeps properly with his hands folded evenly on his chest.

Lan Wangji's forehead ribbon is still tied on his wrist – who ever cleaned him and changed him into the burial clothes of Yunmeng Jiang had not removed it nor touched it.

There is a swell of emotions in his chest that he can not process right now, and suddenly, Lan Wangji is too afraid of looking at his face again.

His guqin appears in front of him, and he begins to play.

His fingers dance through the notes that he has known since his first night hunt, but not for the first time there is nothing but silence after his questions.

Can you hear me?

Where are you?

How is Wei Ying?

Where did you go?

When all his questions yield no answers, he pressed down on the strings to pause the echoes, closes his eyes, and plays the song only he and one other person know.

I miss you.

He falls asleep like this, on his knees, with his hands laying limply on his guqin and the still body of his love lying dead in front of him.

 

The fourth night, he returns with a-Yuan, who had been asking about his Xian-gege and his Qing-gugu and Ning-shushu ever since he woke up.

“Rich-gege, where is Xian-gege?” He had asked once and once again as Lan Wangji sits beside his bed, utterly clueless about how to raise a child. "I miss Xian-gege. Can we see Xian-gege?' He continues when there are no answers from Lan Wangji.

"Yes."

And then a-Yuan had fallen asleep again, and Lan Wangji had sat there for a long time, thinking of everything and nothing at once.

How do you explain to a child, the finality of death of all of his family and the roles they played in it?

Lan Wangji ties a white sash on his little waist, and carries him into the ancestral hall. They offer the three sticks of incense together, and he lets a-Yuan copy his own bows.

A-Yuan tugs his sleeve lightly. “Isn’t Xian-gege right there? Why isn’t he answering? Is he like Ning-shushu? Will he wake up soon?” He whispers.

“Your Xian-gege has gone somewhere far, far away, a-Yuan.” Jiang Yanli says behind him and offers her own incense behind him.

His wide eyes look up at her.

“Do you know who I am?” A-Yuan shakes his head furiously. “I am your Xian-gege’s shijie. Do you want to know a secret?” He nods.

“Xian-gege misses you very much.” Jiang Yanli says.

“But why can’t Xian-gege come back.” There are frustrated tears on his face. He hasn’t cried for the last four days, and Lan Wangji draws a complete blank at what he should do. “I want Xian-gege! If Xian-gege misses us why can’t he come back like Ning-shushu? Xian-gege made Ning-shushu come back when he was sleeping like this so why can’t he come back like this too? Rich-gege misses him too!” Lan Wangji draws him into his lap hesitantly, and a-Yuan burrows his head into his chest, his sobs shaking through him. Lan Wangji hears the echoes in himself.

“Your Xian-gege is happier where he is right now.” Jiang Yanli’s eyes are lined with red, but she still smiles at him. She shuffles closer to Lan Wangji, and runs a soothing hand down a-Yuan’s shaking back.

“Really?” He sniffles and wipes his nose roughly with his sleeves. Jiang Yanli nods encouragingly at him. "Do you want some of your Xian-gege's favourite soup?"

They stand up, and a widow and a widower walk to the kitchen together with a child between them.

I hope he is happy, wherever he is. I will be happiest with you beside me.

 

On the fifth night, he kneels in front of Wei Ying with a-Yuan again and lets him watch as he plays inquiry.

Lan Zhan, the strings whisper back to him. He stumbles past a reply for the first time ever, but there is nothing except for the shuffling of a-Yuan beside him, no matter how many times he repeats his questions and how bloody his fingers get.

He brings a-Yuan, half asleep and drooling on his robes, back to their room and opens the jar of alcohol he bought a few days ago.

He wakes up in the infirmary to the shouting of Jiang Wanyin and the quiet replies of Jiang Yanli and a Wen brand on his chest. And under the pounding headache and pain, he is quietly satisfied. There is no pain greater than the absence of laughter by his side, and now he has a permanent reminder of it.

 

On the sixth night, Jiang Wanyin stomps up to him before he can enter the ancestral hall again, drags him down the corridor of the guest courtyard, and slams him against the wall outside his room. He blinks back slowly. “Who do you think you are?” Jiang Wanyin hisses with righteous fury in his eyes. “Who did you think you are, strolling in and out of Wei Wuxian’s life like he is nothing beneath your pristine robes? You never acknowledged him when he was chasing and following you everywhere, but suddenly that is all forgiven when you tie him to you? Don’t you think you owe him, for everything he did for you?”

He does not reply. He waits for Jiang Wanyin to finish his tirade, until he suddenly seems too exhausted and drops his hands from his throat. "Why are you here?" When he isn't?

He straightens his robes, and leaves the Jiang sect leader outside, heaving and broken and looking decades older than his actual age.

He lets a tear slip once he lays down under the blankets.

I have regrets.

 

On the seventh day, he watches as an empty coffin is placed on a funeral boat. When the boat floated far enough into the center of the river, Jiang Wanyin loosens the arrow and the boat bursts into flames.

He hears laughter in the wind calling out to him from far away, Lan Zhan, come visit Lotus Pier soon!

His chest pulses with pain. Chenqing is a heavy weight in his hands, from when Jiang Wanyin pushes it into his hands resentfully. "I'm keeping suibian and you keep Chenqing." He announced.

-

For the next few days, he lives like how he thought Wei Ying might have, once upon a time. He dresses in the light purple and grey of Yunmeng Jiang, his white and blue robes too dirty and bloodied to be completely cleaned, and keeps a white mourning sash around his waist. He breaths in the humid air lightly scented by the lotus flowers in the ponds Wei Ying stole lotus pods from, and breaths out the frigid, cold air he is familiar with in Cloud Recess. He drinks the soup Jiang Yanli sets in front of him and Jiang Wanyin, and he walks the corridors Wei Ying had spent his childhood in. He follows Jiang Yanli into the kitchen, uncaring of propriety, and watches the proportions of spices and fish and meat she puts into the pots. He follows the steps of Wei Ying and his siblings to a lotus pond, and picks lotus pods with stems attached.

He ties a-Yuan’s hair into a little bun and contemplates on fastening Wei Ying’s leather hair band on him until he realizes that his hair is thin and brittle from the fever, and the ribbon will hardly hold on. Instead, Lan Wangji replaces his usual silver crown with the leather band and tries to get used to the unfamiliar weight of a high ponytail swinging behind him.

(He tries not to think of Wei Ying’s own morning traditions, his own ways of tying up his hair, stepping into his black robes with his suibian on his side. He doesn’t succeed.)

He takes a-Yuan to the street where Wei Ying had once thrown flowers at him, surrounded by alcohol and his own creations, and tries not to see echoes of Wei Ying everywhere he looks. He returns to the shop that Wei Ying had once sat in, and somehow the old man still remembers his face from the second day he settles into Lotus Pier, and buys another jar of alcohol that he sets in a dark corner in his room. He buys twin dragonflies and a wooden sword for a-Yuan to replace for the ones that burnt to ashes in the Burial Mounds.

Jiang Yanli tells him stories of Wei Ying every night, two children stained by the deaths of their fathers sleeping between them. She tells him about the first night her father brings a shy, starving boy into Lotus Pier; about his fear of dogs; about the first time she fed him; about the first time he won a spar with disciples twice his size. She doesn’t shy away from the stories of Madam Yu’s anger, nor the jealousy of Jiang Wanyin. He can hear the quiet resignation tells him about the fights she has to mediate between Jiang Wanyin and Wei Ying and her parents. There is amusement in her voice, when she recounts the pranks he pulls against his shidis. She tells him of all the ways Wei Ying love and were loved between the lines.

She tells him stories after stories as if time is running out, and he listens like a man thirsty for water.

-

Lan Xichen arrives at Lotus Pier two weeks after.

When the Lan elders stand outside his guest room that Jiang Yanli had cleared for him a week ago (she had taken him to see Wei Ying’s old room, and everywhere he turns he sees traces of what has been taken from him. He could not bare it, so he left and returned every few hours as if something will change – as if the man in question will jump out of a corner with a loud ‘Lan Zhan!’ at his lips), demanding his presence back in Cloud Recess, he waits until all of them finishes talking before he speaks. He grips onto A-Yuan tighter in his arms, and tells them firmly, “No.”

They rave and snap of punishment for his insolence and disrespect of his seniors, but all he hears is Wei Ying, laughing in his ears all those years ago of, “Lan Zhan, how do you live with so many rules?” A-Yuan buries his head in his chest, shaking like a leaf in the wind. Do not associate with evil. Do not grieve excessively. Honour good people. Uphold justice. Reflect on your actions.

He had been comfortable with seclusion once – he had taken comfort in the silence and serenity of his house scented lightly by sandlewood incense. He enjoys the time left uninterrupted to nothing but his thoughts and the warmth of his golden core pooling in his abdomen. But now there is a mourning child who had everything taken away from him, and he will not allow the last of Wei Ying to wait for a door that will never open.

He remembers a conversation with his uncle, soon after the first time he had taken a detour to Yiling after a night hunt. “You will not become your father.” Lan Qiren had said sharply, with absolution.

Lans love burns fiery hot, and they love once. Lan Wangji remembers his mother more than his father, who had been an abstract construct in his life until his uncle had announced his death when the Wens burned Cloud Recess.

There were things, that as a child he knows as a fact but he doesn’t understand until much later. He knew his father had married his mother against the wishes of all sect elders. But then his mother was restricted in a house far away surrounded by gentians while his father secluded himself on the other side of Cloud Recess. Only once he had asked his mother, why he can only visit her once a month unlike the rest of the children whose parents bring them to lectures and practices. And then she had said to him with one of her fragile, transparent smiles, “A-Zhan, you must only marry someone who loves you as much as you love them.” He had agreed with it as much as he agrees with everything his mother says to him.

And then after he meets Wei Ying times and times again, from the first time with Emperor’s Smile in his hands, to the first time he pulled Lan Wangji’s forehead ribbon off, to the countless arguments during and after the Sunshot Campaign, and then on the roof of the Nightless City, and he thinks he understand both his father and his mother now. His father, who had been consumed until the love for his mother had been twisted into the restrictive walls of the gentian house. The house her mother was restricted to was due to the undeniable failings of men who came before them.

He had been but a child, so he did not know to reach through the walls that was built up between her and the world, which was why he waited for the door that would never open. And then he somehow learned and understood the purpose of the house that she was imprisoned to due to the failings of men who came before her.

His mother never returned to him, but Wei Ying did, changed after three months of torture but he is still back. Wei Ying, who stood opposite of him with thick, tightly wove walls and a door he can not find. He tried to break the walls down and bring him back to him, but the wall only collapsed when he is seconds away from death with Lan Wangji’s forehead ribbon on his wrist.

“Wangji, where is your forehead ribbon?” His uncle demanded, his hand brushing through his beard as he does whenever he is stressed. The constant shouts of elders behind him fade.

“It is where it should be.” Lan Wangji looks into the eyes of his brother, who had always understood him without the need for words. “Brother. You were there.”

And Lan Xichen understands.

Lan Wangji did not forget how Lan Xichen's presence on the steps of Nightless City, where Wei Ying had once defended the cultivation world against the cruelty of Wen Ruohan.

Lan Xichen once stood aside, as Wei Wuxian interrupts the discussion conference at Jinlin Tai, demanding the location of the Wen prisoners. They watched and spoke amongst themselves of the boy who turned his back on the righteous way to rescue war prisoners. Lan Xichen had been convinced by everyone, despite the quiet urges of Lan Wangji, of the arrogance and the uncontrollable wildness of Wei Wuxian. They agreed with Jin Guangshan, when he said that it was unforgivable that Wei Wuxian killed the Lan cultivators that had laid in wait at Qiongqi Path.

Lan Wangji though, had been conflicted then. On one hand was the three thousand rules that demand do not associate with evil and always be righteous and never judge, but on the other hand was the proclaimed innocence of a few dozens that share a surname with those who had killed his father and burnt Cloud Recess. But still he had known, deep in his heart, that Wei Ying was right. After that one visit to Yiling he allowed himself after a nighthunt, he spoke about the innocence of Wens to his brother. Lan Xichen had listened, hummed, and then asked about the wellbeing of Wei Ying.

And then – Lan Xichen had been there, when the few dozens of thin, dirty Wen Remnants walked their way up the steps of Jinlin Tai with Wen Qing and the ghost general in lead. Lan Xichen thought he saw a woman that seemed older than half of the elders in Gusu Lan, her hair grey with weather and age and her back bent under the weight of the world. He saw a man with a cane at his side and a woman missing an arm. Another man stumbled and fell on the steps when one of the Jin cultivators push him too hard, and his feet bumping on every single step as the cultivator dragged him up for the rest of the way.

He made a note to talk to Jin Guangyao after, about a possible investigation into what both Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji had mentioned to him.

They listened as Jin Guangyao listed out of their crimes, and they listened while Wen Qing rejects every single one with a tall, proud head. She cuts him off impatiently, and says she is only here to hand her and her brother in for the death of Sect Heir Jin and to trade for the protection and lives of the innocents behind her. A-Yao had replied in his perfectly polite way, that the imprisonment of two Wen cultivators are hardly enough punishment for the death of Sect Heir Jin.

(Lan Xichen had been so proud then, that Jin Guangshan now trusts a-Yao enough for him to handle this complicated case.)

A Jin disciple approached her, carrying the execution sword. They watched as she bowed her head just for a second, long enough for Lan Xichen to hear words behind him about Wen Qing he never wants to repeat due his upbringing in the Lan Sect. Then, they watched as she declares all of them innocent one last time before taking the sword from the man and slitting her own throat with it. The Ghost General had roared with rage, and then Lan Xichen had to sent even more of his own cultivators to stop him so he wouldn’t harm a-Yao. He was too focussed on keeping a-Yao safe, that when he turned back the huddle of Wens were all lying dead on the floor.

He coincidentally met the empty eyes of the woman missing an arm – he had seen many death during the Sunshot Campaign, but none have stuck to him like she did. He had thought he would see anger and pleading, but he did not expect the fierce accusation in her eyes. You did us, she seemed to say. You murdered all of us when we were promised we would live.

He had carefully put that image into a box at the back of his head, until he saw the same eyes on Wei Wuxian, demanding from him, Sect Leader Lan, I must wonder if the honourable Gusu Lan gave permission for so many of your disciple to be led by a mere cultivator of Lanling Jin?

And Lan Xichen had found, he has no answer for the death of Wei Wuxian nor the dozens of Wen lying dead on the walls of Jinlin Tai. Wei Wuxian, who had listed out all of Jin Guangshan’s plans in broad daylight and then slit his throat in front of the boy who offered all his love in the world for him.

(Jinlin Tai replays in front of him. Just like Wen Qing, he thinks. How similar they are, the so called Yiling Patriarch and his righthand woman. He also tries not to think about the quiet boy who was always by her side in Cloud Recess who has turned grey with a mockery of death.)

They had been busy, for the last two weeks, while the entire cultivation world trying to comprehend the order of events at Nightless Cities. They had all went to expect a new war and a new weapon in their hands, but they came back to unconscious bodies who all woke up with their spiritual energy intact days later and a seal turned to dust. There were rumours flying everywhere, from the truth (the Yiling Patriarch killed himself) to the utter blasphemy (Jin Guangshan was blessed by the sun gods who had once blessed Wen Ruohan). But there was one thing confirmed – there was a debt fully repaid in blood, but no one knew what exactly the debt was.

Behind the doors of the hanshi, Lan Xichen again tried his best to think about everything Wei Wuxian had said and found he still doesn’t have an answer for the boy who had killed himself in front of Wangji.

Meanwhile, his uncle and the elders have also been continuously reminding him about the absence of Wangji in Cloud Recess and the rumours of his action at Nightless City, and he no longer has any more excuses to give.

(Lan Xichen doesn’t think about how many people he owes explanations to right now.)

They had set out for Lotus Pier in search of answers, but Lan Xichen now has even more questions.

Lan Wangji says nothing else. He bows to his brother and the elders, and closes the door. They hear the wailing cries of the child who has been in Wangji’s arm the entire time, and Lan Xichen stops his uncle when he begins to ask who the child is. “Uncle.” He sighs. “Wangji has broken no rules. We shall wait until he is ready for him to give an answer to us.”

Lan Xichen bows to the silent figures of Jiang Wanyin and Jiang Yanli watching from a distance away, and they bow back.

Both sect leaders have much politics to do.

-

Lying in the bed after his brother left, Lan Wangji thinks of the eight bitterness of life and how Wei Ying has been forced through every single one except the only one Lan Wangji wants to go through with him. (Lao. Growing old.)

Sheng. Birth.

Wei Ying dragged himself out of the dead mountain where no one has ever come out of it alive. He clawed out of one graveyard into another, of endless battles and deaths and the vilification of everyone around him. They had praised him when he was useful, and then left him to the jaws of one condemnation after another once the war ended.

Bing. Sickness.

They threw barbed and poisoned branches at him that he always took with the innocence that maybe this time, he would have a break. He had tried and tried, until he had given up reaching for the false olive branches and retreated into the Burial Mounds.

Yuan chang jiu. Resentment of ages.

And even then, they decided to push and shove, until Wei Ying had finally fell off the rotting plank he was forced on.

Si. Death.

Round and round, and Wei Ying has never left the Burial Mounds, and dies in the prison he once spent three months clawing out of.

Qiu bu de. Unattainable.

Maybe that’s why he chose to go back to the burial mounds with the remnants of people he brought from a work camp – living alongside the dead who can not speak is better than listening to the hatred and constant criticism from the people that he had saved during the war.

Fang bu xia. Non-relinquishable.

Wei Ying had always been a bright, burning flame – but Wei Ying at the end was more like embers, exhausted by the storm of judgement and fear of people who had looked up to, loved him once. They had been both children, not yet ruoguan, when they fought in a war. And Wei Ying had still been a boy, when he stood on top of the roof of Nightless City and gave his blood to the cultivation world.

 

That night, he dreams of Wei Ying, torn to pieces and dust by faces he knows. He watches as Wei Ying is swallowed up in the bloodied hands of Jin Guangshan and Lan Xichen and Jiang Wanyin and every single cultivator who had watched Wei Ying slit his own throat under the blood moon at Nightless city. He sees a sword cutting down Jiang Yanli in front of Wei Ying, and a bloodbath on Jinlin Tai of the people who had once farmed in the dead lands of Burial Mounds. There was an ocean of blood and lava under the falling body of Wei Ying and no one to catch him. Wei Ying smiles. Red is the wave that brings him under, until he is suffocating under the torrent of blood rushing into his mouth and his nose and his ears.

The next day, he gathers up his sword and A-Yuan and places Chenqing in his qiankun bag, and they leave Lotus Pier together.

Lan Yuan will not grow up in the sects that murdered his father and his family.

Ai bie li. Separation of love.

 

 

-

 

 

“Rich-gege, how long do we have to wait for Xian-gege?”

“For as long as he needs.”