A few days had passed since Lan WangJi came back from Burial Mounds and locked himself in his room. On the day that he had returned, Lan XiChen went to Jingshi to check out if he had brought back any good news, but when he saw his younger brother looking so dejected, he knew his younger brother had failed to bring back his ex-husband. His younger brother had told him that he went to Burial Mounds to talk to Wei WuXian, and he had tried explaining to him but it was as expected, futile. Lan XiChen could have guessed that the outcome would not be a good one, but he still hoped there was somehow a miracle and his ex-brother-in-law could find it in himself to forgive his younger brother.
However, what was done was done. They could not change anything, and life still had to go on. He decided his younger brother really should stop wasting his days away by looking so lifeless every day. Besides, his younger brother had hardly eaten anything ever since the divorce. He was looking so much thinner now and that was not healthy at all. He held a tray of food and walked to Jingshi, hoping he could get his younger brother to at least eat a little today. When he reached Jingshi, to his surprise, his younger brother was in front of his table, his right hand holding up a brush but seemingly not having any intention to write. He was crying and tears were drenching the piece of paper on the table.
Lan XiChen walked into Jingshi and took a look at what had been written. There were only two words written there, and Lan XiChen knew why his brother failed to continue writing.
It was a letter of divorce.
“Brother, I can’t,” said Lan WangJi brokenly.
Lan XiChen felt his heart clenched as he saw how broken his younger brother looked. He embraced his younger brother tightly as he felt him cried and trembled within his embrace, yet there was nothing he could do to stop him from crying.
“I do not want a divorce,” said Lan WangJi.
Lan XiChen felt like crying with him. He could already feel tears welling up in his eyes and a drop of tear rolled down his cheek when he heard his younger brother sobbing louder and louder. His younger brother was suffering and as the elder brother, he felt he was a failure to be unable to do anything besides lending his shoulders for his younger brother to cry on.
“I love him,” Lan WangJi said and he sobbed, knowing that no matter how many times he said that to the man he loved, the man would not believe in him anymore. After all, he had betrayed him again and again and what was the worst was that he made him lose his home too. If only the man he had cheated with was not Jiang WanYin, then after the divorce, Wei Ying could still return to Lotus Pier and had his brother to comfort him. Now though, he could only stay in Burial Mounds because he did not want to see Jiang WanYin and him anymore. Seeing the two of them would only remind him of how they had betrayed him.
“I love him so much,” Lan WangJi said as he felt as though thousands of needles were pierced into his heart when he imagined he would never be able to see the man he loved again.
Lan XiChen could do nothing besides embracing his younger brother tighter, whispering comforting words, and assuring him that he would always be here for him.
Wei WuXian was lying on the tree casually, and his eyes were closed as he was trying to take a nap. There was nothing much to do since Burial Mounds was practically empty now. There was no A-Yuan to play with, no Wen Qing to argue with, and also no Wen Ning to tease. Not long after closing his eyes, he sensed the presence of someone else, and true enough, when he opened his eyes and looked around, he spotted Nie MingJue standing a few feet away from the tree he was resting on and was staring up at him.
Wei WuXian was surprised to see Nie MingJue coming to visit him again, and he quickly climbed down the tree to meet Nie MingJue. Meanwhile, Nie MingJue who knew he could not just fly down because the lack of spiritual energy would make him fall and hurt himself, waited patiently until the man finally reached the ground and was standing before him.
“Sect Leader Nie, what brings you here?” asked Wei WuXian as he smiled at his visitor.
Nie MingJue sighed, “Come back to Unclean Realm with me.”
Wei WuXian blinked in puzzlement, “What?”
“It is dangerous here. You know the Lanling Jin sect is targeting you, right?” said Nie MingJue.
“I know, and that is why I cannot follow you back to Unclean Realm. I do not want to bring trouble to you, Sect Leader Nie,” said Wei WuXian.
“It is nothing I cannot handle,” stated Nie MingJue.
“Sect Leader Nie, this is my personal problem. I cannot drag you down with me.”
“Drag me down?” questioned Nie MingJue as he raised an eyebrow at the man before him, “Are you looking down on me?”
Wei WuXian was flabbergasted at how Nie MingJue sounded like he was offended by his words. He definitely was not trying to make it seemed as though he was challenging him or anything similar to it. He was just trying his best not to involve people in his problems. He was about to explain that was not what he meant when he was surprised with what Nie MingJue spoke next.
“Fine. If you are not coming to Unclean Realm with me, then I will stay here with you,” stated Nie MingJue.
Wei WuXian was about to ask him to repeat again because he was pretty sure that he had heard wrongly. Did Nie MingJue, the great Chifeng-zun and the master of Unclean Realm just say he would prefer staying in Burial Mounds rather than Unclean Realm? However, before the question managed to leave Wei WuXian’s lips, Nie MingJue had already sat down in a lotus position, making himself comfortable as though this was his new home.
“Wait, Sect Leader Nie. You are serious?!”
This must be a joke, thought Wei WuXian. This could not really be happening because this was Nie MingJue they were talking about, he would not –
“I am serious,” Nie MingJue answered solemnly.
“What?” Wei WuXian was mystified. He stared at the man sitting in front of him but the man clearly did not seem like he had any intention to walk out of Burial Mounds at all.
“Wait, Sect Leader Nie. Please stop joking with me. You can’t just stay here and leave Unclean Realm. You are a sect leader. If you leave and just abandon your sect like that, then what will happen to your sect?”
Nie MingJue contemplated and Wei WuXian felt extremely glad that Nie MingJue was finally thinking in the right direction. Yes, that was how it was supposed to be. When Nie MingJue stood up, Wei WuXian was smiling in relief as he prepared to walk Nie MingJue out of Burial Mounds but he had no idea Nie MingJue could be so persistent.
“You are right,” said Nie MingJue and Wei WuXian nodded in agreement, “I will go back to Unclean Realm for a few days to pass everything to my brother so he will be a sect leader in my stead. When I am done with all these, I will come back here for you.”
Wei WuXian was stunned.
Did he hear that right?
He was about to question the man again, but the man had already left, mounting himself onto Baxia and headed back to Unclean Realm. Wei WuXian hoped the man was really joking. He would have no idea what he should do if Nie MingJue were to appear here again a few days later and tell him he would be staying here with him permanently. The last thing he needed right now was to have people accusing him of kidnapping the sect leader of Qinghe Nie sect!
Since Jiang YanLi had returned from Burial Mounds, she remained in Lanling and decided to just stay in her room forever, refusing to eat, sleep or even talk to anyone else. She no longer knew what she should do. After knowing the truth of what had happened between her brothers, she was starting to think that her two brothers would just be like this for the remaining of their lives, with one in Yunmeng drinking wine and trying to get himself drunk every day while another in Burial Mounds, living in loneliness.
She contemplated again and again, yet she had no idea how did things have turned out like this. She had never seen her A-Cheng having any affection toward Lan WangJi, if anything, he even looked like he loathed Lan WangJi a lot. In that case, then how did the two ended up together? Were they together already even before her A-Xian got married to Lan WangJi? If Lan WangJi was already with Jiang Cheng back then, why did he propose to her A-Xian? And why did her A-Cheng say nothing about it?
There were so many questions yet there was no one here to give her an answer.
“A-Li,” Jin ZiXuan said as he knelt down before her, “Please, you have to eat something. You are going collapse if you continue sitting here without doing anything.”
Jiang YanLi looked at her husband before she turned to see the tray of food left on the table. No. She shook her head, once again refusing to eat. She definitely did not have the appetite to eat anything at the moment, not when her family was breaking apart and her two precious brothers were suffering.
Jin ZiXuan looked dejected and he tried again, “A-Li, you are worrying me. What if your brothers saw you like this? They would be worried.”
Fortunately, Jin ZiXuan thought, that caught his wife’s attention. As if she really was worried that her brothers would worry about her, she stood up and stumbled to the table and started eating. Jin ZiXuan heaved a sigh of relief. However, to his surprise, once his wife was done eating, she stood up and declared that she would be going to Yunmeng. He thought she would be going to Yiling though, but well… both sides were her brothers too.
When the pair of husband and wife reached Lotus Pier, they found Jiang Cheng in his room. Jin ZiXuan walked away, knowing that he should not disturb them. Jiang YanLi then walked into Jiang Cheng’s room.
“A-Jie? Why are you here?” Jiang Cheng asked, surprised to find someone walking into this miserable room of his.
“Are you not welcoming me back to my own home?” Jiang YanLi questioned with a joking tone, but deep down in her heart, she was feeling anxious. Were both of her brothers unwilling to see her now?
“Of course not, A-Jie. Well…” Jiang Cheng looked around and for once, he finally noticed what a mess his room was in. He pushed off the trash before turning back to his sister, “Have a seat, A-Jie.”
Jiang YanLi smiled softly before she made a comment, “A-Cheng, what is wrong with you recently? You have been drinking too much, even more than A-Xian used to drink.”
Her brother flinching upon hearing Wei WuXian’s name definitely did not go unnoticed by her.
“Is there something that you cannot tell me?” asked Jiang YanLi.
Jiang Cheng looked up at his sister, tears were visibly welling up in his eyes, “A-Jie… I have done something so wrong that even I can’t forgive myself. I hate myself. I want to ask for forgiveness, but I can’t because even I don’t think I will be able to forgive myself. I…”
Jiang Cheng could not continue. Tears were rolling down his cheeks and he found it hard to speak, but even if he was not crying, he did not know how to continue either. He wanted to tell his sister just what type of despicable thing that he had done to their brother, but he was too ashamed to say it out loud. What if when his sister knew what he had done, she would start abandoning him too? He had no one left. Wei WuXian hated him and would never want to see him again, so if even Jiang YanLi left him too, he would be all alone and he was terrified at the thought.
Jiang YanLi felt a sense of sadness when she saw her brother crying. She moved closer to embrace him just like how she had embraced her other brother back in Burial Mounds. The sound of her brother sobbing now in her embrace reminded her of when Wei WuXian was sobbing in her embrace too. She felt her heart clenched at how her two brothers were breaking now just because they had fallen in love with the same man.
She suddenly regretted supporting and thinking Lan WangJi would be a good brother-in-law. She also regretted agreeing with Wei WuXian that Lan WangJi was a good man when Jiang Cheng always commented that he was not a good man.
She was ruminating on how she should have been better at judging a man when she suddenly realized her brother was absolutely silent. Jiang Cheng had fallen asleep in her embrace. She stood up and placed her brother’s hand over her shoulders before she pulled her brother up and dragged him onto the bed. When she had successfully placed her brother on his bed, she sat at the edge of the bed and took a closer look at her brother. He had such a pair of dark circles formed under his eyes, and given that he was always sitting in the same place every time Jiang YanLi came to visit him ever since Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi had divorced, Jiang YanLi was suspecting her brother did not get much sleep since then.
She caressed her brother’s face as she whispered, “A-Cheng, my good younger brother… have a good rest.”
Jiang YanLi then stood up and looked around. This room definitely needed to be cleaned up immediately. She started cleaning up the room in silence, worried that any sound might just wake her brother up. Within around an hour or a little more than that, she had finished cleaning up the room. She took one last glance at her sleeping brother before she quietly walked out and went to the kitchen instead and started preparing lotus root and pork rib soup so that her brother could drink it when he woke up later.
She was in the middle of testing the taste of the soup when she saw her husband walked in.
“A-Xuan, let’s stay for the night. We will leave Lotus Pier tomorrow early in the morning,” said Jiang YanLi.
Jin ZiXuan nodded, “Are we going to Burial Mounds, or do you want to return to Lanling?”
Jiang YanLi shook her head. As much as she was worried and wanted to rush to Burial Mounds to check on her brother, but there was something else she needed to do.
“None of those,” said Jiang YanLi and when she saw her husband was looking at her in puzzlement, she continued, “We are going to Gusu.”