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The Knight Who Embraces The Fallen Sun

Chapter Text

Nie MingJue did not know what he should be feeling at the moment as he watched the man in front of him blabbering about the man who helped him out and guided him to form his golden core.

Was he feeling angry?

Disappointed?

He was currently at Yiling, and he came all the way here merely because he heard someone in Yiling who was of the age of 20 actually formed a golden core a few days ago, and this was all thanks to a wonderful rogue cultivator who happened to pass by and guided him on the right way to cultivate. He had come all the way here to investigate the identity of the cultivator, hoping they could meet up and if possible, he would like to hire that cultivator as HuaiSang’s mentor. If this rogue cultivator was able to help someone to form a golden core when he merely passed by, then HuaiSang with the help of this mentor would be a strong cultivator in no time.

Albeit, all these wishful thinkings were crushed when he was told the great cultivator lived not too far away.

At the Burial Mounds.

“His name?” questioned Nie MingJue.

“We don’t know, but we all call him Young Master Wei.”

Nie MingJue felt his eyebrows twitching annoyingly. He hoped someone kind enough could tell him again, what did he even come here for?

He expressed his thanks and walked away. It was a waste of a trip. He was about to mount onto Baxia and travel back to Unclean Realm when he saw a crowd gathering in the middle of the street, the voice of two men debating was heard clearly.

“I am the real Yiling Patriarch!”

“You are fake, I am real!”

Nie MingJue walked closer to take a look, witnessing the two men dressed in black, their hairs tied up with a red string, debating between themselves whether who was the real Yiling Patriarch. They were both clearly not the real one, because the real one would have no need to use debating to prove himself. As Nie MingJue watched the two fought to be recognized as the real Yiling Patriarch, he was suddenly reminded of a conversation he had a few days ago with one of his sworn brothers. Lan XiChen had been looking unsettled recently like he was worried about something. Nie MingJue had asked what was bothering him and Lan XiChen finally opened up to him and told him what it was that made him worried.

 “XiChen, is something the matter? You have been looking troubled for a few days already,” said Nie MingJue.

Lan XiChen stared at his elder sworn brother, his face clearly stating that he was surprised that he had been found out.

“If there is anything I can help, feel free to tell me,” said Nie MingJue.

“It’s just… WangJi…”

Lan XiChen looked hesitated, as though he did not want to trouble anyone with his trouble, or to be precise, his dear little brother’s trouble.

“Your brother? Did something happen to him?”

“WangJi is suffering… I want to help, but I don’t know how or if it is actually appropriate for me to try helping,” said Lan XiChen. He looked extremely sad.

“What happened?”

“Elder brother, WangJi… he is in love,” said Lan XiChen.

There was a moment of silence as Nie MingJue stared at Lan XiChen for a long time, still processing his words. He thought he must have developed some hearing problems at first because he heard Lan XiChen just said that Lan WangJi, the stoic Hanguang-jun was in love. When he finally realized that he did not mishear anything, he cleared his throat and tried to make a response.

“Oh…” said Nie MingJue, because as he thought and thought, there really weren’t any words to describe his surprise.

After another moment of silence, and out of curiosity, Nie MingJue asked, “Who?”

He could not recall who would be able to capture the heart of someone as cold as the Second Master Lan.

“Young Master Wei.”

Again, Nie MingJue thought he misheard.

“Young Master Wei, you mean Wei WuXian? How did he fall in love with the likes of him?” asked Nie MingJue.

“Young Master Wei is a good man. I have interacted with him before,” said Lan XiChen.

“He is a demonic cultivator and sides the Wen remnants,” said Nie MingJue.

“I certainly have no idea why he would learn demonic cultivation and sides the Wen remnants, but WangJi believes that he must have a valid reason, so do I,” said Lan XiChen.

If both Lan WangJi and Lan XiChen trusted Wei WuXian, he believed there was no wrong in trying to understand the man more. Since he was already in Yiling, he might as well pay the man a visit and if they managed to start a conversation, perhaps he could advise him to stop walking on his crooked path for there were many people out there who were worried about him, Lan WangJi for example.

When he stepped into Burial Mounds, there was no denying that he was definitely surprised with what he was seeing. He might have expected to see Yiling Patriarch standing in the middle, eyes glowing red as he controlled corpses while he played Chenqing or hands holding Stygian Tiger Seal. He definitely did not expect to see old men and women busying themselves farming. The Wen remnants did not seem like they noticed him for a while until someone dropped the tool he was using for farming and the others dropped down whatever they were holding too in a fit of anxiety.

Now, why did it seem like he was a demonic cultivator who was scaring them instead?

“Is Young Master Wei here?” questioned Nie MingJue.

“Y-Y-Young Master Wei?” The old woman in front of Nie MingJue stuttered. She did not answer, but she glanced behind her nervously which Nie MingJue guessed was the so-called Demon Slaughtering Cave, and that was enough of an answer.

He walked toward the cave but did not enter. He heard people speaking inside, or more like someone was being scolded by a lady. He walked farther in to have a look who were inside and the scene before him definitely did render him speechless for some time. There, Wei WuXian and a toddler were sitting on the ground in front of Wen Qing who seemed to be scolding the two.

“You brat! Do you still think you are as strong as before? Have you forgotten that you no longer have your golden core?! And not only did you make yourself fall sick, you even make A-Yuan sick with you!” yelled Wen Qing.

Wei WuXian and Wen Yuan had their heads bowed down as they waited for Wen Qing to complete her scolding session.

“I am sorry –”

ACHOO

“How am I supposed to know it will rain so heavily and we simply accidentally stayed under the rain a little longer than expected,” Wei WuXian tried explaining, doing his best to prove that he was not in fault, but it never worked against Wen Qing.

“Excuses! Wei WuXian, I don’t care if you are sick, but A-Yuan can’t afford to be sick. You know fully well that we are short of medicine here, it’s fortunate that A-Yuan’s fever is not high.”

“Sister,” Wen Ning walked forward, but before he could say more, Wen Qing, raised her hand up, showing her palm to her brother which gave off a signal that she did not want to hear another word from him.

“A-Ning, stop explaining on behalf of him!” exclaimed Wen Qing.

“Fine, fine. If A-Yuan needs medicine, I will get him the medicine he needs even if I need to be a beggar to beg for money,” said Wei WuXian.

“You think being a beggar is so easy?” questioned Wen Qing angrily.

“Well, I have the experience,” said Wei WuXian. The way he said it as though he was looking a little proud of having the experience made Wen Qing wanted to simply grab something and hit him hard on the head. She felt so frustrated that she did not know what to do anymore.

“Big brother, who are you?”

That was A-Yuan’s voice. Wei WuXian and the Wen siblings looked around and turned out A-Yuan who was just sitting beside Wei WuXian a second ago was not in his place anymore. The three of them went out of the cave to see Wen Yuan pulling at a tall man’s robe.

“Sect Leader Nie?” questioned Wei WuXian, surprised.

What a rare guest… He was rather expecting either Lan WangJi or Jiang Cheng to come to visit, but Nie MingJue was definitely the last person he would expect to see here, unless…

He might be here to annihilate them.

Wei WuXian clenched Chenqing tightly, preparing for the worst.

“A-Yuan, come here,” said Wen Qing as she gestured for her nephew to go to her. Wen Yuan quickly moved to his aunt and hid behind her. The man looked so scary and the fact that A-Yuan had asked him something and the man did not answer his question made him look scarier.

“If I may ask, what brings Sect Leader Nie here? If Sect Leader Nie is here for a visit, we will welcome you, but if Sect Leader Nie is here for another reason, I will not hold back either,” said Wei WuXian.

Nie MingJue did not offer any answer to the question. He chose to walk forward instead, approaching Wei WuXian. Sensing that something did not feel right, Wen Ning went forward and stood in front of Wei WuXian.

 “Sect Leader Nie, it’s us, the Wens that you hate. Young Master Wei has done nothing that harms the Nie Sect,” said Wen Ning.

As if taking it as a cue, the other Wen remnants joined in too.

“Young Master Wei is a kindhearted person. Please don’t kill him. If you want to kill, then kill me,” said Wen Yuan’s grandmother.

“You can kill me too.”

“And me.”

“Not Young Master Wei please.”

Many of the Wens who were all old enough to not be able to stand straight came to stand in front of Wei WuXian, pleading for Nie MingJue to kill them instead.

“What are you all doing? Stand back!” exclaimed Wei Wuxian. He sounded so angry that the Wen remnants were startled at his tone and all started moving to stand behind him except for Wen Ning.

“Wen Ning, you too,” said Wei WuXian.

“Young Master Wei,” said Wen Ning as he shook his head, unwilling to listen to him.

“Sect Leader Nie, Wei WuXian’s hatred for the Wen Sect is not any lesser than you. Therefore, I will need to make it clear to you that he is never an accomplice of what the Wen Sect has done. Today, if you are here to kill the remaining of us, we will accept it as it is. All of our lives here are saved by Wei WuXian, we are all considered to be living on borrowed time. However, if you are here to kill Wei WuXian, we will do our best to stop that from happening even if that means we need to die and come back as fierce corpses,” said Wen Qing.

“Wen Qing, enough,” said Wei WuXian.

“Sect Leader Nie, you all always say the Wen remnants hiding here will harm the innocents. Now that you have seen everyone living here, who do you think will go out trying to harm others? Is it those people who can barely even walk straight?” asked Wei WuXian as he pointed to those old men and women behind him whose age was obviously too old to even do anything heavy.

“Or do you think it will be A-Yuan, who barely even understand what is going on right now?” Wei WuXian pointed to Wen Yuan who had turned to hide behind him and was hugging his legs tightly.

“Or do you still think Wen Qing is the one who will harm people? She is a physician, both she and Wen Ning had never dirtied their hands before by killing anyone.”

“Sect Leader Nie –” started Wen Ning, but was then interrupted by a frustrated voice.

“Enough. Pack your things,” said Nie MingJue.

Everyone went silent. What did the man mean by asking them to pack their things? As none of them moved, Nie MingJue turned back to see everyone staring at him suspiciously.

“Don’t you all need medicine? I am inviting all of you to Unclean Realm,” stated Nie MingJue.

“Brother Xian, Brother Xian, what is Unclean Realm?” asked Wen Yuan as he pulled on Wei WuXian’s robe.

“Unclean Realm is this man’s house,” said Wei WuXian as he crouched down so that he was almost of the same height as Wen Yuan.

“Will there be lots of food?” asked Wen Yuan.

Wei WuXian was not sure if he should answer the question. The answer was yes, but whether Unclean Realm had food or not had nothing to do with them.

“There will be,” said Nie MingJue as he crouched down and patted Wen Yuan’s head. Wen Yuan went to hug Nie MingJue’s legs, a proof that he liked the man. Wei WuXian and the Wen siblings looked at one another, all three considering if they should pull Wen Yuan away. Nie MingJue was well known for having a bad temper, they were worried that the man would hit Wen Yuan for even daring to touch him.

Nie MingJue, however, out of everyone’s expectations, carried Wen Yuan in his arms and said, “You will get as much food as you want.”

He turned to walk away with the child in his arms.

“A-Yuan!” exclaimed Wei WuXian. He turned to the Wen siblings and then to the other Wen remnants and decided they had no choice but to take up his offer and to travel to Unclean Realm together. If Nie MingJue planned to kill them there, well – then Wei WuXian would just need to make sure to be careful enough to not let that happen and to prepare for a counter-attack if anyone dared to try killing them.

Chapter Text

Wei WuXian and the Wen remnants ended up entering Unclean Realm safely. When they were at the entrance, all the Nie disciples presented there tightened their holds on their weapons when they saw behind their sect leader stood none other than the infamous Yiling Patriarch and the Wen remnants. They were ready and prepared themselves for an upcoming battle, but a glare from their sect leader made them back down and gave space for the guests to enter.

Nie MingJue had asked his right-hand man, Qing Liang to prepare guest rooms for all the Wen remnants, as well as for Wei WuXian while he brought Wen Yuan to the physician. Wei WuXian, Wen Qing and Wen Ning followed closely behind Nie MingJue.

 “It’s just a small cold. I will prescribe some medicine for him and he should be fine soon,” stated the physician as he stood up, took his medical equipment, and prepared to leave the room.

“Wait, we have another patient here,” said Nie MingJue.

The three stared at him, surprised.

“Young Master Wei seems sick too,” stated Nie MingJue as he gave a cue for the physician to check on the man.

Wei WuXian and Wen Qing exchanged a panic glance. There was no way they would let the physician check his pulse. Once the physician checked his pulse, there was a high possibility that he would find out that something did not seem right in him which would eventually lead to the fact that he no longer had a golden core to be exposed.

“I don’t need it. Just a small cold, it will go away in no time,” said Wei WuXian as he stepped back, standing behind Wen Qing.

“That’s right. He is a strong man, he will recover fast. Besides, I have checked on him. There is nothing serious about him. It’s A-Yuan that we are worried about,” said Wen Qing.

Nie MingJue raised an eyebrow at the two.

“Young Master Wei, is it possible that you think my physician here is incapable of healing you?”

“Of course not,” said Wei WuXian quickly. The last thing he wanted to do now was to anger Nie MingJue, especially not when they were all currently in his territory.

“Since it is not, surely letting my physician check your pulse will not kill you,” said Nie MingJue.

Wei WuXian looked at the physician approaching him, he felt there were more sweats surrounding his face.

“Wait! I… I have recovered. I am – ACHOO!”

He really had to sneeze at the wrong time. Wei WuXian cursed himself as he desperately tried to think of something else to make the physician stay away from him.

“That is enough. You can take your leave and bring him to the guest room too,” said Nie MingJue as he went to carry Wen Yuan in his arms and turned to the physician, “I have something to discuss with my three guests.”

When Nie MingJue turned back after the physician left with Wen Yuan, he managed to see Wei WuXian releasing a sigh of relief. Wei WuXian looked up and realized Nie MingJue was scrutinizing him and he immediately walked forward and cleared his throat. He felt a sense of foreboding as he faced the man in front of him. His heartbeat was increasing rapidly and he was starting to get anxious about what was to come. He knew the other two probably felt they were in trouble too, which was why he needed to stay calm in such a situation. He put on a smile and stepped forward, trying to get things done as soon as possible.

“If I may ask, what is there that Sect Leader Nie wishes to discuss with us?” questioned Wei WuXian.

Nie MingJue observed the man in front of him, the so-called Yiling Patriarch who appeared to be on tenterhooks as he was trying his best to stay calm. Was that sweat at the side of his face?

Truth to be told, he had a few reasons to bring the Wen remnants back to Unclean Realm. The first reason was no doubt that he could not leave a sick child without any medication. The second reason was related to what he had overheard outside of the cave. He tested if it was the truth by requesting for his physician to check on the man. Once the physician tested the man’s pulse, he would know if what he overheard was the truth. However, the fact that Wei WuXian kept on refusing to be checked on by his physician already managed to prove whatever he wanted to know.

In his opinion, the most important factor that had been obstructing Lan WangJi and Wei WuXian from getting together was probably because Wei WuXian was a demonic cultivator, while the Lan Sect, especially Lan QiRen loathed demonic cultivators more than anything in this world. He had promised his sworn brother, Lan XiChen that he would see what he could do to help him solve the problem between the two. In that case, what he needed to do first was to investigate the real reason why Wei WuXian would turn to demonic cultivation when he was rumored to be a genius cultivator, in which Lan XiChen had told him that this man’s cultivation was on par with Lan WangJi.

He was always a direct man. He abominated the idea of turning around with his words and preferred to speak straight to the point instead.

“Since you are asking, I will not turn around with my question. I am just interested, Young Master Wei, how did you lose your golden core?”

Wei WuXian stared at him, eyes widened as he felt his blood froze. Wen Qing looked shocked at the sudden question too. As for Wen Ning, although there were no specific expressions shown on his corpse face, the ghost general actually moved closer to the demonic cultivator, ready to protect his master as though Nie MingJue would throw Baxia at the man any time.

“So you did hear that outside of the cave back then,” said Wei WuXian.

“I did and I hope you can tell me the truth,” stated Nie MingJue.

Wei WuXian contemplated whether he should tell him what actually happened or should he form another lie? He had been working so hard on keeping this secret. If another man knew about what he had done, then the possibility of the truth entering Jiang Cheng’s ears would only increase.

“I…”

“And don’t think of lying because I hate to be lied at. You will not be able to accept the consequences,” stated Nie MingJue, clearly guessing what the man in front of him was planning.

“I am sorry, Sect Leader Nie, but this is something I promised to myself not to reveal to anyone else,” said Wei WuXian.

“Is that so? I guess I will have no choice but to ask around then. Perhaps, I can get an answer from Sect Leader Jiang,” stated Nie MingJue.

Wei WuXian looked extremely horrified with the mentioning of Jiang WanYin, Nie MingJue realized.

“Sect Leader Nie, please no! Jiang Cheng can’t know that I do not have a golden core.”

Nie MingJue raised an eyebrow at Wei WuXian. He had heard from his younger brother that Wei WuXian and the current Yunmeng Jiang sect leader were as close as real brothers, but to think Wei WuXian did not even tell the man that he had lost his golden core but told the Wen siblings instead, it intrigued Nie MingJue more to find out the truth behind his missing golden core. It was not merely to help his sworn brother to solve his problem anymore, he wanted to identify the truth so as to cure his own curiosity.

“Oh… so Sect Leader Jiang does not know, but Wen Qing and her brother know. This seems to be getting more interesting than I have expected. If you tell me how you lost it, perhaps I might consider helping you to keep this a secret?”

Wei WuXian looked hesitant for a moment before he decided he had no other choice. He believed and sincerely hoped the great Sect Leader Nie would hold on to his own words.

“Fine, I can tell you, but Sect Leader Nie please do hold on to your words. You can’t tell anyone, not even your younger brother, Nie HuaiSang, or your two sworn brothers,” said Wei WuXian.

Nie MingJue agreed to Wei WuXian's request and sat down on a chair. This would be interesting to hear. Wei WuXian then began telling him how Jiang Cheng’s core was melted and how he lied to Jiang Cheng that Baoshan Sanren could help him repair his core when the truth was that he had secretly asked Wen Qing to cut out his core and gave it to Jiang Cheng instead.

The new knowledge that Nie MingJue had just gathered left him totally flabbergasted and for a few seconds, he was stunned and did nothing to react. That was absolutely ridiculous. He slammed his fist on the table and rose up from his chair in a fit of fury.

“You transferred your golden core to Sect Leader Jiang?!”

Wei WuXian immediately put a finger on his own lips, begging for Nie MingJue to lower down his voice. At this rate, the whole Nie Sect would soon find out that the golden core in Jiang Cheng was his.

However, despite Wei WuXian’s effort to plead for the man to stay low in his voice, the man still ignored him and merely got louder and louder as he continued speaking.

“Have you gone mad? Do you know what you have done? You do not have a golden core anymore, that means you will never be able to cultivate for the rest of your life!”

“I know, I know. Sect Leader Nie, I am begging you, please keep your voice down.”

“And you planned to keep this a secret for the rest of your life? Do you really think that Sect Leader Jiang will never find out about this?”

“Please, Sect Leader Nie. You promised to help me keep this a secret.”

“So what? Do you plan to be your Yiling Patriarch for the remaining of your life?”

“I don’t think I have another choice.”

“You must be crazy! And you too, Wen Qing. You have ruined his life!” exclaimed Nie MingJue as he pointed at Wen Qing who stood straight behind Wei WuXian, but the look on her face clearly proved that she was feeling guilty for what she had done.

“Wen Qing is not to be blamed here. I begged for her to do it for me and I am doing this willingly,” argued Wei WuXian.

“Forget it, right now blaming anyone will be useless,” said Nie MingJue as he released a heavy sigh. These people here appeared to be giving him a headache worse than his younger brother.

Come to think of it, he remembered Wei WuXian was a close friend of his brother. Although this man here had lost his golden core, he still had the knowledge of cultivation. Truth to be told, he had been a little busy recently trying to find a great mentor and hire one to guide his younger brother in cultivation. After the fierce battle with Qishan Wen Sect, he noticed some things could no longer be delayed. One would not know what would happen the next day. He needed to have his younger brother learn to be a strong cultivator as soon as possible so he could protect himself even after he was gone.

He turned to Wei WuXian and ruminated whether his plan would work. Well, Wei WuXian and the Wen remnants clearly were of no condition of forming an army to kill anyone and they seriously needed a place to shelter themselves. Burial Mounds, as he could see, was of no place to be stayed by humans especially among these people there was a growing child. At the same time, he needed a mentor for his younger brother, and what would be better than finding one that his brother was comfortable talking to?

That was it, Nie MingJue decided.

“Young Master Wei, you and the Wen remnants need a shelter. I can make rooms for you all to stay here if you agree to do me a favor,” said Nie MingJue.

“You will allow us to stay in Unclean Realm?” Wei WuXian asked in disbelief, feeling surprised and overjoyed at what he had just heard. He could hardly hide the relieved smile on his face.

“But don’t you hate the Wens?” questioned Wei WuXian.

“You said it too that they are harmless. If they promise not to hurt anyone…”

“They will not,” said Wei WuXian quickly.

Nie MingJue said nothing else and Wei WuXian took it as an agreement to allow the Wen remnants to stay here.

“And what is it that you wish for me to do for you?” questioned Wei WuXian.

Nie MingJue turned to Wei WuXian and scrutinized him. He hoped this man would not disappoint him and that with this man’s help, his brother could finally transform into the man who could take his place as the future sect leader.

 


 

“What?!”

Nie HuaiSang stood up abruptly as a Nie disciple who was also a close friend of him told him that just a few hours ago, Sect Leader Nie had brought back the Yiling Patriarch along with the Wen remnants and those people were currently residing in Unclean Realm.

“What is happening? Why would brother..?”

The Nie disciple merely shrugged. The Yiling Patriarch had been an enemy to all cultivators ever since he saved the Wen remnants back at Lanling. Besides, everyone knew Nie MingJue hated the Wens more than anyone else. No one knew what was the reason behind which caused Nie MingJue to bring back those people from Burial Mounds. They wanted to make an objection as they felt the arrival of those people were doing nothing more than tainting Unclean Realm, but none dared to say it in front of their sect leader.

Nie HuaiSang, however, was a little worried. He considered himself as a close friend of Wei WuXian, and the time they spent together in Cloud Recesses was definitely a happy one. He knew how much his brother hated the Wens, so he was worried that the reason those people were brought back here was that his brother was trying to kill them all along with the Yiling Patriarch who betrayed his own sect and sided the Wen remnants instead.

Before he could think of anything else, he could hear someone’s voice opposite the door of his room.

“HuaiSang, are you in? Open up.”

That was Nie MingJue’s voice.

The Nie disciple quickly opened up the door as he greeted his sect leader before excusing himself.

“Elder brother,” greeted Nie HuaiSang as his elder brother entered his room, which was then he noticed the man standing behind his brother, “Wei-xiong?!”

He pulled Wei WuXian away from his brother and spoke as soft as he could, “What are you doing here? You better leave quickly, my brother hates you. He is going to kill you.”

“I can hear that,” said Nie MingJue.

Nie HuaiSang gasped.

“I invited Young Master Wei here. From today onward, he will be your mentor and teaches you everything related to cultivation.”

Nie HuaiSang blinked his eyes, puzzled. Confusion filled the man as he was slowly processing what his brother was talking about. After a moment of thinking, his eyes widened as he stared at his brother who definitely did not look like he was joking at all before he turned to Wei WuXian who was grinning at him.

“Please take care of me while I am here, Nie-xiong.”

“What?!”

 

Chapter Text

It had been a few days since Wei WuXian had been assigned as the mentor of Nie HuaiSang. He taught him many things related to cultivation, but whether everything he said had entered his dear student’s brain was definitely another question left to be explored. Even a blind man would have taken notice that Nie HuaiSang had no interest in learning anything related to cultivation at all.

However, being born in the Nie Sect, it was not like he had a choice, neither did Wei WuXian who had been forced to be Nie HuaiSang’s mentor as an exchange for shelter here in Unclean Realm. Throughout these past few days that he had stayed here and interacted with Nie MingJue (in which he had to report to the man regarding his younger brother’s progress in cultivation every day), he knew Nie MingJue cared for his brother deeply, but Nie HuaiSang did not seem to appreciate his brother’s effort at all.

“Wei-xiong, please help me out!” pleaded Nie HuaiSang, his hands pulling at Wei WuXian's arm with a pair of puppy eyes.

“No, if I tell him that, I bet he will start throwing things at me,” said Wei WuXian as he pushed Nie HuaiSang away from him.

“Please, Wei-xiong. You need to help this poor little man out. I will pay you something in return. Oh, right! You love the Emperor’s Smile, right? I will buy you a dozen of it if you manage to talk this out with my elder brother,” said Nie HuaiSang.

Wei WuXian was about to tell him to stop clinging at him when he suddenly realized what the man had just said.

“What? Emperor’s Smile? A dozen of it?!”

Wei WuXian’s eyes were sparkling with excitement. How long had it been since he had drunk Emperor’s Smile? The last time he drank it was probably when he was still studying in Cloud Recesses. After he returned to Yunmeng, he always craved for the wine and had planned to take a visit to Gusu again – to visit Lan WangJi and annoy him so he could see that angry face of his again (He missed seeing Lan WangJi getting angry at him) while grabbing a few Emperor’s Smiles along the way.

Nie HuaiSang smiled, he knew Wei WuXian would definitely fall for Emperor’s Smiles.

And that was the exact reason of how Wei WuXian ended up standing in front of Nie MingJue right now. He scrutinized the sect leader carefully, observing if he was in a good mood today.

“What is it?” asked Nie MingJue.

He could not really tell. The man was looking as grumpy as usual as he questioned him, eyes never leaving the scroll he was reading.

“Well, I have come to report to you something about Nie HuaiSang.”

Nie MingJue stopped at whatever he was working on as he looked up at the mention of his younger brother.

“What about him?” asked Nie MingJue. He sounded annoyed and tired.

“I think Nie HuaiSang does not have the talent to become a sect leader. He has no interest in it either. Sect Leader Nie should not force him to do something that he dislikes and –”

Wei WuXian had not even finished his speech of courage, but he already saw a scroll flying toward him. He dodged it easily, and another came flying toward him again, and he continued to dodge the ongoing flying scrolls.

Nie MingJue slammed his hand on the table, anger was shown all over his face and for a brief moment, Wei WuXian was a little worried that the man would be encountering a Qi-deviation soon.

 “Say, what advantage did he give you to even dare to come and tell me such nonsense?!” demanded Nie MingJue.

“A dozen of Emperor’s Smiles.”

Nie MingJue raised an eyebrow at him. This man was truly courageous enough to actually come to him with such nonsense merely for the sake of a few jars of wines.

“Emperor’s Smiles, huh? Fine, I will present you twice the amount of Emperor's Smiles, so get back there and make him do his work!”

“Twice?!”

Wei WuXian’s eyes were sparkling with excitement again.

“Do I look like a man who speaks empty words?” questioned Nie MingJue, his tone annoyed.

“Definitely not! Thank you, Sect Leader Nie. I will make sure to turn your brother into someone that you want him to be,” stated Wei WuXian in exhilaration as he bowed and excused himself, turning his back to Nie MingJue and prepared to leave.

“Stand there,” stated Nie MingJue.

Wei WuXian turned to Nie MingJue again and waited to hear if there was anything else this sect leader needed him to do.

“Pick up the scrolls,” said Nie MingJue.

Wei WuXian stared at the scrolls that were used to throw at him earlier scattering around. He started moving to pick up all the scrolls and handed it to Nie MingJue.

“Leave,” commanded Nie MingJue angrily, and Wei WuXian wasted not even another second and left the place swiftly. He was worried if he was a second slower, the man would start shouting at him again, and this was definitely Nie HuaiSang’s fault! Never mind, at least he would get two dozen of Emperor’s Smiles as a compensation, or perhaps it could also be considered as a reward for daring to utter nonsense in front of the great Chifeng-zun.

Nie MingJue watched Wei WuXian’s retreating figure and dropped back onto his chair, fingers pressing on his temples as he felt the overwhelming headache visiting him again. Perhaps, finding for Nie HuaiSang’s friend to be his mentor was not as good as he imagined.

“Sect Leader Nie! Are you not well?”

Nie MingJue heard the panicked voice calling out to him and turned up to see that it was his right-hand man, Qing Liang.

“I will get the physician,” said Qing Liang immediately, about to rush out when Nie MingJue stopped him.

“There is no need. Qing Liang, I have a task for you. Go get someone to travel to Gusu and bring back two dozen of Emperor’s Smiles from there.”

“Sect Leader Nie… wants to drink Emperor’s Smile?” questioned Qing Liang, surprised and puzzled. Nie MingJue had never been too picky on any food presented to him, let alone the type of wine.

“Not me, it’s for a guest,” answered Nie MingJue.

As a man working under Nie MingJue for years, he knew better than to question him. There was a reason why he was trusted so much and had been entitled to be the right-hand man of Nie MingJue. He obeyed him and never questioned his actions. He completed all the tasks given to him flawlessly and was always prepared to follow Nie MingJue to the end of the world.

“I will get this done immediately,” said Qing Liang as he bowed and left.

 


 

Nie HuaiSang walked around his room, the fan hitting his palm as he felt his heart beating fast, not sure if it was from feeling too nervous or excited for his future. Just then, he heard footsteps approaching. He went to open the door quickly and was met with Wei WuXian, standing in front of him. He looked behind the man to check if his brother was around, but found out that it was only Wei WuXian standing there. He promptly pulled his friend in before he closed the door.

 “How is it? How is it? Wei-xiong, how did it go? You succeeded?” Nie HuaiSang questioned excitedly.

“Nie-xiong, have a sit first,” said Wei WuXian. Nie HuaiSang listened to him and sat down, waiting impatiently to listen to the outcome.

“Nie-xiong, as a family member of the Nie Sect, you really should not run away from your responsibility. Come, let’s not waste time here. I will guide you to be the best future sect leader ever existed in history.”

“Wait, what? Wei-xiong?!”

“Nie-xiong,” said Wei WuXian as he gave Nie HuaiSang a pat on his shoulder, “Your brother is doing everything he can to make you a successful man in the future. How can you trample at your brother’s efforts and good intentions? In my opinion, I think you should study harder to make your brother happy and proud of you by showing him how capable you are.”

“Wei-xiong, you clearly said you would help me out! What benefits did my brother even offer you?!”

Nie HuaiSang felt frustrated. Within a blink of an eye, how did his trusted friend suddenly betray him and appeared to be on his brother's side now?

As Wei WuXian looked at Nie HuaiSang who appeared to be sulking angrily, the words Nie MingJue had told him were ringing in his ears.

“Emperor’s Smiles, huh? Fine, I will present you twice the amount of Emperor's Smiles to you, so get back there and make him do his work!”

The excitement of what he would be receiving soon made him feel so exhilarated, but he would not show it in front of Nie HuaiSang. He cleared his throat and pretended he was offended with the accusation directed at him.

“What nonsense are you spouting about?! I, Wei WuXian will never betray my friends with some benefits given by other people. I am doing this for you, Nie-xiong. Don’t you want to be stronger?”

Nie HuaiSang looked at him suspiciously. Before he could say anything else, Wei WuXian continued, “Don’t worry. Leave everything to me, and I am sure you will be an amazing cultivator that will soon render everyone else, including your brother.”

Nie HuaiSang watched Wei WuXian saying those words proudly as he grabbed a book, telling him that they should start with the basic first, but he was not listening at all. He was so disappointed that his friend would betray him so easily and he was feeling a little sad that now that Wei WuXian was officially siding his brother, he had really lost his freedom.

He had to think of another solution to escape this cruel fate!

 


 

“What?!”

One of the Jin disciples who Jin GuangShan had sent out to report to him on any news related to the Yiling Patriarch came back and told him a piece of shocking news, in which the Yiling Patriarch and the Wen remnants under his protection were all seen entering Unclean Realm, and it was Sect Leader Nie who had invited them in. Burial Mounds was completely empty now. It was also rumored that Nie MingJue had made Wei WuXian as one of his Nie disciples.

Jin GuangShan knocked off everything on the table to the ground in a fit of fury before he dropped back onto his chair, feeling utterly defeated. How did something like that even happen? Never would he have imagined such an unbelievable turn of event, and if he could have ever imagined something this ridiculous would actually happen, he should have tried to be on the good side of Yiling Patriarch and made him a Lanling Jin disciple instead.

In Jin GuangShan’s point of view, after the Wens had been annihilated, he would stand a chance to rise to the position of Chief Cultivator. However, there were two men who obstructed him from rising to that position. The first was Nie MingJue while the second was Wei WuXian. To fight one of them was already a big obstacle, and if these two actually joined forces, he would never be able to dream of winning this battle.

He had to think of something – something that could help him get rid of these two troublesome men. He looked around him and saw the few Jin disciples standing in front of him were as quiet as a mouse, afraid of angering him since he already showed them how frustrated he was at the moment. Then his eyes traveled to another Jin disciple standing not too far away from him – one of his illegitimate son, Jin GuangYao.

Wait, now that he thought about it, was he not Nie MingJue’s sworn brother?

A smirk was forming on his lips as he finally had an idea how to get rid of Nie MingJue, and perhaps if things worked as what he was about to plan on asking this great son of his to do, he could push the blame to Wei WuXian and then he would be able to kill two birds with one stone.

“A-Yao,” Jin GuangShan walked forward to the man and said, “If anyone becomes a threat to our Lanling Jin Sect, can I trust you to help me take care of the matter?”

“I will do anything that sect leader requires me to do,” said Jin GuangYao.

“Good. Very good,” said Jin GuangShan as he walked back to his chair and sat on it before another smirk crossed his face.

“Kill Nie MingJue, and after he dies, do your best to push the blame onto the Yiling Patriarch.”

Chapter Text

Wei WuXian felt overly exhausted. It had been a while since he started teaching Nie HuaiSang on cultivation, but there was no progress at all. He had to think of a more productive way to teach the man as soon as possible before Sect Leader Nie came to shout in his ears and throw all the Wen remnants along with him out of Unclean Realm.

As he was walking around to think of a better solution, the noise of weapons clashing that came not too far from where he was standing interrupted his thoughts. He walked toward the source of the sound and saw a few Nie disciples still training themselves when it was already so late. They looked absolutely hardworking at first glance, but a deeper look toward them and Wei WuXian came to understand why the disciples were still working hard at this hour. The way they held their weapons were all wrong. These disciples must have gotten quite a scolding from Sect Leader Nie and were trying to improve themselves as soon as possible. He stared at the disciples struggling with their weapons. He really took pity on them so he advanced forward and walked toward them.

“The way you are holding it is wrong,” he said as he approached them. The disciples who saw him immediately backed down a few steps, looking a little terrified.

Wei WuXian ignored their reactions as he approached one of the disciples and straightened the man’s arm and changed the position of the man’s fingers so the grip on the weapon the man was holding would be strong enough. He also adjusted the man's back and the way he stood.

“Just like this, try attacking him again,” he stated. The man was looking doubtful but still did as he was told.

All the disciples could only stare at the scene in front of them, absolutely startled with the outcome.

“That is amazing! Thank you very much, Yiling Pa – Young Master Wei.”

“I am fine with it. It is just a name anyway,” said Wei WuXian.

“Can you guide us too, Yiling Pa – Young Master Wei?”

“Me too!”

“Guide me too!”

“And me!”

Many disciples started surrounding him. He sighed in defeat. These people sounded so desperately in need of his help, he did not have the heart to turn them down. Well, if he wanted to be kind, he might as well be kind to the end and guide all these desperate Nie disciples.

If only Nie HuaiSang could be as enthusiastic as these disciples, he would not need to feel so troubled and would have a more enjoyable night. Then again, if Nie HuaiSang could be this enthusiastic in cultivating, Nie MingJue did not need to go to such lengths to request for Wei WuXian to guide him in cultivating.

 


 

Ever since Nie MingJue learned from Lan XiChen that Lan WangJi was in love with Wei WuXian, he could not help but wondered what was it that made Lan WangJi fell in love with a man like Wei WuXian. He was too talkative for one, which was definitely not suitable for Lan WangJi who hardly said a word. He was also too hyperactive, he was definitely not one who could stay in one place permanently which most probably was proof that he would never be able to live up with the 3,000 rules in Cloud Recesses, which made him a total opposite to Lan WangJi too.

But then there were a few times where he stood there watching the man, he would feel he understood why Lan WangJi would fall in love with someone like him. He was selfless for one. The fact that he would actually secretly give his golden core away to Jiang WanYin proved it all. He was also brilliantly intelligent, like now when he was guiding the weaker and younger Nie disciples on how to hold their weapons properly.

“Elder brother, what are you looking at?” asked Nie HuaiSang. He turned to look at the direction of where his brother was staring at and found Wei WuXian interacting with the Nie disciples and was seemingly laughing with them. The Nie disciples seemed to enjoy his presence. It was no surprise though. Wei WuXian was always quick to make friends.

“Wei-xiong is really amazing. He can do anything,” said Nie HuaiSang.

Nie MingJue raised an eyebrow at his brother who came to stand beside him, “The only reason you can’t do it is that you don’t work hard enough.”

Nie HuaiSang was dumbfounded. How could his brother compare him with Wei WuXian? That man was a genius! He was merely a weakling who had no interest in cultivation but was forced to take an interest in it because his brother wanted him to inherit his place as the sect leader in the future. Before he managed to complain to his brother that he should not be taken as a comparison with Wei WuXian, his brother had already left him alone.

 


 

After a long time of guiding the Nie disciples, Wei WuXian finally got some time alone and retreated back to his room. As he arrived in front of his room, he was surprised to find two dozen of Emperor’s Smiles placed orderly in front of him. This, he thought, must be the best day he had ever since he left Yunmeng. He quickly moved to carry all the precious Emperor’s Smiles into his room. When he was done, he sat down with a jar of Emperor’s Smile on his lap. He took out the lid and inhaled the smell.

Perfect!

How he missed the smell...

It was definitely a blessing for him to be able to experience the smell again.

He was getting ready to lift the jar and poured the contents passed his lips when there was a knock on the door. He pouted, frustrated that someone dared to interrupt his precious moment with his dear Emperor’s Smile. Reluctantly, he stood up and slid the door open once again. He was surprised to find out it was none other than Sect Leader Nie himself.

Nie MingJue was scanning his room, and his eyes seemed to stop at those jars of wines that had been placed in the middle of the room. Wei WuXian knew he must have been looking at the two dozen of Emperor’s Smiles and remembered he forgot to thank the man.

“Thank you very much for Sect Leader Nie’s kindness in giving me all these.”

“You are already starting to drink?” questioned Nie MingJue.

“I just wanted to have a taste of it,” said Wei WuXian, grinning.

“Does it really taste that great?” asked Nie MingJue.

“Sect Leader Nie has never had a taste of it before?” Wei WuXian questioned, surprised.

“Every time I go to Gusu, I am accompanied by XiChen. Since he does not drink, I hardly ever get near to the stall selling it. I can have a try now,” said Nie MingJue.

Wei WuXian dashed back and grabbed the jar of wine in front of Nie MingJue and hugged it as if his life depended on the jar in his hands. Nie MingJue raised an eyebrow at him.

“I bought all these,” said Nie MingJue.

“But you gave them to me,” complained Wei WuXian.

Both stared at each other as though they were in a staring contest. Nie MingJue was staring at him like he was admiring the younger man for daring to talk back to him. Wei WuXian was staring at the elder man so that the man could grow bored of him and eventually gave up on stealing his precious wines, but as he contemplated, the man was right. He was the one who bought all these and giving him just one would not make him lose anything.

“Fine, you can have one,” said Wei WuXian as he reluctantly handed Nie MingJue the jar he had been hugging.

Nie MingJue opened the lid and took a sip of the wine.

“Good wine,” he said.

There was a triumphant smile on Wei WuXian’s face as if stating I told you.

Wei WuXian took a jar and opened the lid too as he drank the wine he had been missing for so long.

“Absolutely perfect!” exclaimed Wei WuXian.

“I still remember back when I am studying at Cloud Recesses, I secretly bought a few jars of Emperor’s Smiles and drank it with Jiang Cheng and Nie-xiong –”

Wei WuXian suddenly remembered who he was drinking with, and he had just mentioned to the man how he had broken the rules along with his dear little brother. He nervously glanced at his drinking partner and was surprised that the man was not glaring at him.

“I know what my brother had done in Cloud Recesses. Lan Qiren told me everything.”

Wei WuXian laughed sheepishly.

“But this wine is really amazing. I have been missing it so much ever since I went back to Yunmeng.”

“Does Yunmeng not have a wine that tastes better than this?”

“Hmmm… Yunmeng’s wine is great, but none that beats the Emperor’s Smile. Speaking of Yunmeng, my life has been in bliss back then. I can get anything I want without even paying.”

“You stole?” questioned Nie MingJue.

Wei WuXian laughed, “I didn’t need to. Everyone knows me. Whatever I take, they will calculate and send the bill to Uncle Jiang by the end of the month.”

“Oh… I have heard the rumors… that you are the late Sect Leader Jiang’s…”

Wei WuXian looked exasperated at the comment.

“That is not true at all. Uncle Jiang and my mother were nothing like that!”

After a few seconds of silence, he noticed he had raised his voice and apologized.

“I am sorry for raising my voice… but it was no doubt that I was the cause of the broken relationship between Uncle Jiang and Madame Yu… even the burned down of Lotus Pier…”

Wei WuXian tightened his grip on the jar of wine in his hand and closed his eyes, the torturing memories of what happened on that dreadful night once again came back to haunt him.

Blood.

Fire.

The burning down of Lotus Pier.

The last image of Uncle Jiang and Madame Yu.

The corpses of all the other Yunmeng Jiang disciples.

“If I can go back to that night, I will gladly cut my arm off to Wen Chao. He just wanted an arm, if one arm can save everyone, even if Madame Yu does not have the heart cut it, I will gladly do it myself…”

But there was no if in this world. There was no turning back, he could not turn back to the past to fix everything.

Nie MingJue was not one who knew how to comfort people. He walked toward Wei WuXian and gave him a pat on his shoulder as he said, “Leave the past behind. Whatever happened could not be reverted. We have to move on and treasure our time in the future. God knows how long we still have before death arrives at our door.”

“Sect Leader Nie seems a little emotional today,” said Wei WuXian as he smiled.

“Well, to me, I have to treasure every day because I don’t know when I will get into a Qi deviation. Death is inevitable, but the only thing I can’t let go is HuaiSang. You know him. His cultivation is… He does not have the ability to protect himself. How will he be able to live on his own when I am no longer by his side anymore?”

Nie MingJue was looking a little dejected as he thought of his younger brother living all alone at Unclean Realm with no one he could rely on. It pained him to imagine that that would be his brother’s future when he really did leave him in the future.

“Okay, since now I am already living here for free, I can help you out. I will figure out a way to solve the Qi deviation problem that runs within the bloodline of the Nie Sect,” said Wei WuXian.

“You?” questioned Nie MingJue, “You are just like what people described you, you always talk big.”

Wei WuXian looked offended at the comment.

“What, you don’t believe me? I will prove it to you, but wait – who said I only talked big? Who in the world dared to tarnish my name behind my back?”

Nie MingJue raised an eyebrow at him. Tarnish his name? As if his name was not already tarnished enough at the moment that he chose to save the Wen remnants and hid within Burial Mounds.

“It is the current Sect Leader Jiang who said it.”

Wei WuXian gasped. Although he was not a Yunmeng Jiang disciple anymore, how dared that Jiang Cheng went around tarnishing his name.

“Fine, I will prove it to you that I don’t only talk big.”

“Are you sure you have that much free time to spare? Don’t forget you do not have a golden core anymore and your enemies are everywhere. For all you know, once you walk out of here, the cultivators out there might start a plan on how to murder you.”

“I am sure I will be able to live longer than someone who is at risk of Qi deviation.”

“Fine, let’s have a bet. If I die first, then you will help me take care of HuaiSang.”

“And if I die first, you will help me take care of all the Wen remnants here, protect my Shijie if anyone ever dares to try lifting a finger on her and you also need to offer your help whenever Yunmeng Jiang Sect is in risk.”

Nie MingJue raised an eyebrow at the request. He merely asked him to protect one man – HuaiSang, but Wei WuXian had requested for him to protect so many other people in return.

“Do you think that sounds fair?” questioned Nie MingJue.

“Of course,” replied Wei WuXian proudly.

 


 

Though it was already late at night, Nie HuaiSang was still very much awake and refused to sleep. He was bored in his room. He took out a piece of paper, decided he would make another fine piece of art before he called it a night. As he took the brush in his hand, he suddenly remembered that there should be something more interesting he could do. Wei WuXian was here too. He could go visit him (and come to think of it, he had not visited him even once since he arrived) and they could pass their time chatting like those good olden days in Cloud Recesses.

He left the brush he was holding back to its original place as he quickly left his room and headed to his friend’s room. After a while of walking there, he finally reached the Wei WuXian's room. He was about to knock on the door when he suddenly heard two voices talking inside, one definitely belonged to Wei WuXian and another one was no doubt his elder brother. To say that he was astonished was an understatement. He was more than astonished. After all, since when did these two became that close?

Deciding that he was in no place to interrupt the two, he absentmindedly walked back into his room. There were so many questions in his head, but he had no answer to any of the questions.

First of all, what was the real reason that his brother invited Wei WuXian and the Wen remnants into Qinghe?

Was it really as simple as merely wanted Wei WuXian to guide him to be a good cultivator and sect leader in the future?

Why Wei WuXian of all people?

And did he not hate the Wens? Did he not hate Wei WuXian for siding the Wens and practicing demonic cultivation?

None of these made any sense. And what did not make sense the most was why his brother would spend the night with Wei WuXian happily talking with him, and if he did not hear it wrongly, he heard his brother laughing opposite of the door.

Something was not right here. Nie HuaiSang concluded that there must be something else going on with the two and he decided he would check it out and pay more attention to those two starting from tomorrow. For now, he was so exhausted thinking about those two and decided he should forget all about it now as he climbed onto his bed.

 


 

“What did you say?!” exclaimed Jiang Cheng as he slammed his hand on the table once his right-hand man told him the news that the Yiling Patriarch had been seen entering Unclean Realm and was rumored to have turned into a Nie disciple.

A Nie disciple!

How dared that man turned into a Nie disciple without his permission. He had never officially removed his name from the Yunmeng Jiang Sect because he believed – he told himself repeatedly that he would wait for the day that Wei WuXian would come back to him to fulfill his promise to him, where he remembered clearly that he had told him that he would stand by his side and help him out just like both their fathers.

“I am going to break his legs!” exclaimed Jiang Cheng, enraged.

Right, he would definitely break his legs when he finds him later and if he was still so keen on becoming a Nie disciple instead, he would drag him back forcefully and made him kneel in front of him, in front of his sister – their sister, and in the middle of the ancestral hall as a punishment for even daring to join another sect. He swiftly took Sandu with him, got out of the room, and prepared to rise up to his sword when another disciple came to him.

“Sect Leader –”

He had no time for anything else. He did not even spare a glance at the disciple who was still in the middle of announcing the reason for his arrival and declared, “Whatever it is, wait until I am back!”

“Wait, Sect Leader!”

But the said sect leader had already disappeared. The disciple that had something to report looked miserable, like he had no idea what he should be doing.

“Did something happen?” questioned Jiang Cheng’s right-hand man.

“Lady Jiang and Young Master Jin are here, stating that they need to meet with Sect Leader Jiang for something urgent,” said the disciple.

Jiang Cheng’s right-hand man felt his face turned blue upon hearing that. Now that their sect leader was gone, what were they supposed to do?

Chapter Text

Nie HuaiSang was taking a stroll around Unclean Realm alone, planning to waste some time before it was time for dinner. After a while of walking, he spotted Wei WuXian not too far from him and he immediately called out to the man.

“Wei-xiong!” Nie HuaiSang waved and rushed toward him.

“Wei-xiong, where are you going?”

“Where else can I go? I am going to meet someone who loves me the most,” said Wei WuXian.

Puzzled, Nie HuaiSang followed closely behind him. A toddler suddenly came running toward Wei WuXian, hugging the man’s thighs as though they were the most precious things in this world.

“Brother Xian! Miss you so much!”

“This is..?” questioned Nie HuaiSang.

Wei WuXian gave a soft pat to the child’s head before he turned to Nie HuaiSang, “Who else if not my cute little A-Yuan.”

“So this is A-Yuan? He is so cute,” said Nie HuaiSang. He had known there was a toddler among the Wen remnants that Wei WuXian had brought along with him when they were chatting a few days ago. He walked forward to the cute little kid in front of him. The toddler was so cute as he stared at him with his pair of wide, curious eyes and he could not resist himself from trying to pat the toddler’s head and telling him just how cute he was.

However, as he moved closer, the toddler seemed a little agitated as he stepped back and hid behind Wei WuXian, looking as though Nie HuaiSang might harm him and that hiding behind his Brother Xian was a wise choice because Wei WuXian would definitely protect him. Nie HuaiSang was a little surprised. Did he look so scary?

Wei WuXian laughed at the two.

“Brother Xian, who is this?”

“A-Yuan, this is Brother HuaiSang. He is, let’s see… considered one of the masters here.”

Wen Yuan tilted his head in confusion, “Isn’t the master of this place Brother Super Rich?”

“Brother Super Rich? Who is that?” questioned Nie HuaiSang as he turned to Wei WuXian for an answer.

Wei WuXian laughed again, “Well, this man here is your Brother Super Rich’s younger brother.”

Nie HuaiSang widened his eyes at Wei WuXian’s statement. Wait, what? What did this kid just call his brother? Brother Super Rich? He could not imagine how furious his brother would get if he heard someone calling him that.

Wen Yuan walked out from behind Wei WuXian, staring at Nie HuaiSang curiously. Nie HuaiSang tried walking another step toward him and the toddler neither stepped back nor looked scared. Taking it as a cue that the toddler was no longer afraid of him, Nie HuaiSang crouched down in front of Wen Yuan.

“Hi, nice to meet you, my name is Nie HuaiSang.”

Wen Yuan bowed, “I am A-Yuan.”

He looked so adorable when he bowed to him so politely. He made Nie HuaiSang felt like embracing this cute little toddler tightly, protecting him from any harm that might befall him. Nie HuaiSang lifted up Wen Yuan in his arms gently.

“A-Yuan, why are your hands so cold?”

Hearing that, Wei WuXian approached Wen Yuan and touched his hands and they were cold indeed, not the typical temperature a healthy toddler should be having.

“Brother Xian’s hands are cold too,” stated Wen Yuan.

“It has been getting a lot colder recently. I think I am starting to feel a little cold too,” said Nie HuaiSang.

It was true. He could feel his hands were colder than usual. They should better get back to their rooms before it got colder –

Wei WuXian suddenly felt someone standing behind him wrapped a cloak around him. He turned back to find that it was Nie MingJue who had just placed the cloak on him.

“Don’t get yourself cold when you have just recovered,” stated Nie MingJue.

“Brother Super Rich!”

Wen Yuan ran to Nie MingJue happily and hugged the man’s thighs while Nie MingJue crouched down and carry him up in his arms. Nie HuaiSang was startled that his brother could hold a child so gently, and what was even more surprising was that he was not bothered at all to be addressed as Brother Super Rich!

Nie HuaiSang turned to see Wei WuXian who seemed a lot warmer with the cloak placed on him and pouted at the obviously unfair treatment, “Elder brother, I am cold too.”

“A cultivator is not supposed to feel cold so easily and that clearly proves how weak your cultivation is,” said Nie MingJue sternly.

“That is not related at all! Take a look at Wei-xiong, he is a strong cultivator, yet he is feeling cold too!” complained Nie HuaiSang.

Wei WuXian was taken aback at the words as he quickly turned to Nie MingJue, hoping he could say something in return to defend the reason he was feeling cold. What had just been mentioned was true. A strong cultivator should not be feeling cold so easily, but the current Wei WuXian was no different than a normal human. Without a golden core, he was even weaker than Nie HuaiSang right now.

Nie MingJue cleared his throat, “How can he be compared to you? He is…”

Wei WuXian watched him in a fit of anxiety.

“He is?” questioned Nie HuaiSang as he tilted his head.

“He is a demonic cultivator!”

“What does that have to do with he is a strong cultivator and is still feeling cold?” questioned Nie HuaiSang. For once, he felt his brother’s words did not make sense at all.

“The fact that you are asking such questions shows that you have not been studying at all! Wei WuXian, what have you been teaching him all these whiles?”

Wei WuXian was surprised that Nie MingJue turned the bomb back to him, but he had no choice but to go with the flow.

“This is all my fault. Nie-xiong, look, you made me get scolded by Sect Leader Nie instead. Starting from tomorrow, I will make sure to make you understand everything that I have taught you.”

Nie HuaiSang was dumbfounded. How did the conversation turn from a relaxing one to one that stressed him out?

While both Nie MingJue and Wei WuXian were silently relieved that they managed to not let Nie HuaiSang start suspecting anything, Wen Yuan went down from Nie MingJue’s arms to Wei WuXian again.

“Brother Xian, hungry.”

“A-Yuan is hungry already? Come, we will go to eat together,” said Wei WuXian. He turned to Nie MingJue and was about to excuse himself, but it seemed that Nie MingJue had another plan.

“I will bring him to eat first. You go and call the other Wens to come along,” stated Nie MingJue as he walked to Wen Yuan and held the toddler’s little hand.

“Wait, Sect Leader Nie?”

But Nie MingJue already left with Wen Yuan, leaving both Wei WuXian and Nie HuaiSang standing there. Wei WuXian turned to Nie HuaiSang who merely shrugged in return. Ever since they came here, Wei WuXian and the Wen remnants had never once eaten with Nie MingJue or Nie HuaiSang, or any other Nie disciples. Just like back at Burial Mounds, when it was time to eat, Wei WuXian would eat with the Wen remnants.

Not knowing what else to do about Nie MingJue’s sudden invitation for dinner, Wei WuXian went to call the Wen remnants to go with him together and with Nie HuaiSang walking with them, they met up with Nie MingJue and Wen Yuan who had already been sitting there, waiting for their arrivals.

“Sit,” ordered Nie MingJue.

Wei WuXian obediently sat beside Nie MingJue, facing Nie HuaiSang who was sitting in front of him. Wen Yuan went to sit in between Wei WuXian and Wen Qing. The other empty spaces were then filled up by the remaining Wens.

“Please feel free to enjoy this meal as welcoming all of you to Unclean Realm,” said Nie MingJue.

Wei WuXian and Nie HuaiSang stared at Nie MingJue in surprise. Wei WuXian was already very glad that Nie MingJue was willing to allow the Wen remnants to stay here, and he never hoped for Nie MingJue to do anything more. The Wen remnants were feeling surprised too, but they dared not stare at Nie MingJue (except Wen Qing), so they stared at Wei WuXian instead, hoping that their leader would give them an answer to this strange change of events. Wei WuXian, however, was the same as all of them as he too, had no idea what was going on. He merely shrugged as a response to the Wen remnants.

Sensing that they were obviously trying to communicate wordlessly, Nie MingJue said, “Do not fret. Since I have already allowed you all to enter Unclean Realm, I will not kill any of you. It is true that I hate the Wens, but I also know that you all have nothing to do with the war. As long as none of you try to harm anyone, I will allow you all to live here as long as you want.”

“Since Sect Leader Nie already says so, then we will gladly thank Sect Leader Nie’s kindness,” said Wei WuXian.

“Eat then,” said Nie MingJue.

Wei WuXian took the chopsticks in his hand and turned to the Wen remnants, gesturing for them to do the same.

“This is the famous spicy chicken from Yunmeng!” Wei WuXian took a quick look at all the other food on the table before he excitedly added, “And this, this and this too! They are all from Yunmeng?”

“I happened to pass by there and remembered you mentioned that it was quite delicious, so I brought it back here to have a taste,” said Nie MingJue.

Nie HuaiSang turned to his brother, confounded with what he had just heard. Why was his brother at Yunmeng in the first place? And to think that just because he was at Yunmeng, he bought so many things along with him just to have a taste?

Everyone in the Nie Sect knew that Nie MingJue had never been too picky on his food, and he had never been interested to try on certain food even if someone told him how delicious some food was. Besides, all the food here, as Nie HuaiSang could see, they were all red in color. Nie HuaiSang did not mind the food, but almost all of them were too spicy. It was not that he disliked spicy food, but there were just too many and the level of spiciness was a few levels above the spicy food at Qinghe. Apart from that, all the food here was definitely not suitable to be eaten by a toddler like A-Yuan, or the elders of the Wen remnants. He bet the only one excited to eat all of the food here was none other than Wei WuXian.

As expected, Wei WuXian already started throwing everything passed his lips as if he had just returned from a desert. He felt so lucky that coincidently, almost all the food on the table was to his liking. They were all spicy and suited his taste so much.

Similar to what Nie HuaiSang was thinking, Wen Qing was not very appreciative of the food presented on the table as well. She also felt that the spicy food was not suitable for the elders, and definitely not suitable for A-Yuan too. She took a quick glance at Nie MingJue who was quietly eating while listening to Wei WuXian praising how delicious the food was. It was clear to her that Nie MingJue merely wanted to eat all those with Wei WuXian. She felt like everyone else here was just for decorations.

“This is so nice! I missed all these so much!” exclaimed Wei WuXian, his hand never stopped throwing food into his mouth.

“Eat more if you like it,” stated Nie MingJue flatly.

Wei WuXian continued eating happily while Nie HuaiSang stole a few glances at his brother. He saw his brother’s lips were somehow curved into a slight smile – just very slightly that if one was not close enough, one would not be able to see that at all. That smile somehow reminded him of the night where he was planning to find Wei WuXian for a small chat and heard his brother laughing inside with him. He turned to take a look at Wei WuXian and then back to his brother.

Now that he thought about it, ever since Wei WuXian came here, he had already caught himself seeing his brother smiled for a few times, and his brother seemed gentler to Wei WuXian compared to other people, like before this when Wei WuXian was cold and his brother immediately put a cloak on him.

As if he was experiencing a blinding realization of his brother's recently strange behavior, he dropped the chopsticks he was holding in a fit of astonishment.

Everyone on the table turned to look at Nie HuaiSang who seemed to be in a daze.

Nie MingJue looked at his brother disapprovingly, “HuaiSang, what are you doing?”

Nie HuaiSang turned to his brother and quickly took the chopsticks with his hand again before he started throwing everything he saw into his mouth, ignoring the overloading spiciness that was turning his lips red.

“I am just too hungry,” said Nie HuaiSang as he laughed foolishly, ignoring the suspicious stares from everyone else, especially his brother.

He could not even comprehend how did he manage to imagine something so absurd!

His brother and Wei WuXian?

No, that was not possible at all. He must have been thinking too much.

 


 

Lan XiChen emitted more spiritual energy into his sword as he moved forward swiftly, finally standing side by side with his younger brother. His brother had mounted on his sword as soon as he heard the news of Wei WuXian and the Wen remnants were brought to Qinghe. Lan XiChen did not manage to even have a word with him as Lan WangJi was flying with a speed almost as fast as lightning.

“WangJi, I don’t think elder brother meant any harm,” said Lan XiChen.

Nie MingJue had promised Lan XiChen that he would see what he could do to have Lan WangJi and Wei WuXian get closer, so Lan WangJi would have the chance to show Wei WuXian what he meant to him. He trusted his elder brother. Nie MingJue never said any empty words. Once he promised someone something, he would make sure he would be able to fulfill his promise even if he would have to die in the process, and up until now, Nie MingJue had never once disappointed him before.

“Brother, I am just worried…” said Lan WangJi as he moved faster.

Although he did not think badly of Nie MingJue, it was just too strange for Nie MingJue to suddenly allow Wei WuXian into Unclean Realm. After all, all cultivators had proven themselves for disliking the Yiling Patriarch who was protecting the Wen remnants. Apart from that, it was a known fact that Nie MingJue hated the Wens so much that he would proudly kill each of the Wens with Baxia.

Wei Ying…

Lan WangJi was getting more anxious. He could only hope nothing bad would happen and that when he finally arrived at Unclean Realm, he would see Wei WuXian unharmed because if anything happened to him, he did not know what he would do.

Finally, after what felt like flying for eternity for Lan WangJi, the man finally saw Unclean Realm and descended down along with his brother. Just as the two brothers stepped onto the ground, they saw someone else was already there standing at the entrance of Unclean Realm, preparing to walk forward.

“Sect Leader Jiang?” voiced out Lan XiChen, and he immediately got the man’s attention as Jiang Cheng turned to him.

“Sect Leader Lan? Lan WangJi?”

Jiang Cheng frowned the moment he saw Lan WangJi. The question of what the two of them were doing here was on the tip of his tongue when he suddenly remembered that Nie MingJue and Lan XiChen were sworn brothers, so it made perfect sense for the Lan brothers to appear here. Anyhow, for whatever reason these two men were here, he could hardly care. He was here to get an answer and hopefully, he would be able to pull a man back to Yunmeng.

“Is Sect Leader Jiang here to see Young Master Wei?” questioned Lan XiChen.

Jiang Cheng turned to Lan XiChen, surprised that the man knew.

Not bothering or giving any interest in whatever reason Jiang Cheng was there, Lan WangJi already walked into Unclean Realm. Jiang Cheng was second to walk in with Lan XiChen following behind.

Chapter Text

Staring at the sky, Nie HuaiSang wondered just what he was doing there. Well, of course, the weather seemed pretty good today, he did not mind standing there enjoying the beautiful sceneries of Qinghe, but he thought it was definitely unnecessary to have both his hands full of such dangerous items.

He turned to the man next to him who seemed to be so enthusiastic and excited, like what they were about to do would be so intriguing – perhaps it was the case for Wei WuXian, but definitely not for him. He would very much prefer to go back to his room at this instant, and if it was possible, he hoped Wei WuXian would disappear for at least for the next few hours. He neither wanted to see his face or hear his voice at the moment.

He felt exhausted as Wei WuXian continued explaining to him the right way to practice archery and how he should adjust his position so that he would be able to aim at his target perfectly.

“Wei-xiong, I am pretty sure you have realized this by now, but I am definitely not good in archery.”

Nie HuaiSang was bemused. He was complaining that he really could not get through whatever Wei WuXian was teaching him and begged him to let him take a break and that he needed to relax before he could refocus on the studies again. In which, here he was, ended up standing here with Wei WuXian, a hand holding the bow and another the arrow.

Who would even take a break by practicing archery?!

“It is pretty easy. Come on, just focus, look at your target,” said Wei WuXian.

“And shoot.”

Like on his command, Nie HuaiSang released the arrow. It was going up, a good sign. It was going to the direction of the kite, another good sign – but when Nie HuaiSang was about to start getting proud of himself and smiled at his achievement, he noticed there was no way the arrow would reach the kite at all.

Within a blink of an eye, the arrow seemed to have disappeared, flown somewhere far away from the kite.

“Where did it go?” questioned Wei WuXian.

“I don’t know,” said Nie HuaiSang.

“Let’s go and search for it,” said Wei WuXian as he ran ahead to the direction of where the arrow seemed to have been headed to. Nie HuaiSang followed closely behind.

When Wei WuXian suddenly halted, Nie HuaiSang bumped into him. Nie HuaiSang was about to yell at him for stopping so abruptly, but he realized his friend was stunned at what he was seeing. Perplexed with what made his friend reacted in such a way, he looked in front and gasped when he saw his brother was there, and his brother’s right-hand man was there too but the man was injured with an arrow pierced into his right shoulder.

As both Wei WuXian and Nie HuaiSang stared at the scene before them, they knew they had screwed up this time. Both stepped back in perfect sync as they were both sweating from whatever that may happen if Nie MingJue saw them. They quickly turned their backs, preparing to run as fast as lightning.

“Stand there!”

Oh no…

They had been found out.

Still had their backs turned, they heard Nie MingJue speaking to the physician who had just arrived, requesting for him to take care of Qing Liang. When they heard the physician left, Nie MingJue’s voice was clear as a bell, “Follow me.”

Wei WuXian and Nie HuaiSang had no other choice. They followed the man as they both imagined the worst that would fall upon them soon.

 


 

While Nie MingJue was sitting there, watching the two men standing in front of him like he was able to guess what they were thinking, Nie HuaiSang bowed his head down as he did not have the nerve to face his brother. He knew his brother must have been looking so pissed off at the moment. Wei WuXian was looking at everywhere else – at every single thing located around him like they were all so interesting except for the man sitting in front of him.

“Why don’t the two of you explain to me, what is it that the two of you are doing shooting kites outside?”

Nie HuaiSang bit his lower lip as he nudged at Wei WuXian.

“Sect Leader Nie, I can explain,” said Wei WuXian.

“Go on, I am listening,” said Nie MingJue, his voice sounded surprisingly calm, which was terrifying.

“It’s like this, I figured that since Nie HuaiSang can’t really focus on the studies, perhaps I can bring him out for a break. We aren’t really just playing, with shooting the kites Nie HuaiSang can practice his archery skills too.”

“I understand now… so you are saying that you are teaching him archery now?” questioned Nie MingJue.

He certainly did not look convinced at all.

“Y-Yes?” Wei WuXian answered hesitantly.

In the blink of an eye, Baxia came flying toward both Wei WuXian and Nie HuaiSang and ended up passing through the gap between the two helpless men and landed behind them.

A loud bang was heard as Nie MingJue stood up angrily and slammed his palm on the table, pushing off some scrolls on the table which landed not too far away from Wei WuXian and Nie HuaiSang’s feet.

“Nonsense! I can’t believe the two of you! Wei WuXian! I hired you to help me guide HuaiSang in cultivation, not to guide him to fool around!” exclaimed Nie MingJue before he summoned Baxia back into his hand.

With a hand grasping Baxia tightly, he walked forward to where Wei WuXian was standing. Nie HuaiSang turned to look at his friend, silently praying that he would get out of the situation safely while at the same time was feeling more relieved than ever that his brother was angrier at Wei WuXian than at him.

“Wait, wait! Sect Leader Nie, please calm down! Please, let’s sit down and talk it out like two gentlemen!”

Nie MingJue did not stop, he kept advancing toward Wei WuXian with a look of preparing himself to enter a battle while Wei WuXian kept stepping back, determined to not be too near to the enraged man.

“Sect Leader Nie! You can’t blame me on everything here! Nie HuaiSang was the one who begged me to free him from studies!”

Nie HuaiSang gasped. Did his friend just sell him out?!

“No, elder brother!” He quickly denied, but his elder brother did not even offer him a glance as he continued advancing toward Wei WuXian.

“Wait, Sect Leader Nie –”

Wei WuXian slipped as he stepped onto some scrolls that Nie MingJue had just thrown toward him. Behind him – the direction where he was falling toward, there was a wooden box.

“Wei-xiong!” Nie HuaiSang tried warning him in worries.

Nie MingJue who saw what was about to happen promptly reached forward and grabbed Wei WuXian and pulled him up before the two fell and rolled onto the ground.

“Ouch… pain,” whined Wei WuXian who currently had his back on the ground, facing Nie MingJue who was on top of him, the elder man’s hands under his waist.

“Wei WuXian!”

That voice…

That enraged tone..!

As the familiar voice called out to him, he quickly turned and true enough, not too far away stood Jiang Cheng.

An angry Jiang Cheng to be precise.

“Jiang Cheng?”

“Wei WuXian, I was wondering why would you even work for the Nie Sect instead of coming back to me, so this has been your reason all along?”

“What?”

Wei WuXian was bemused. He had no idea what Jiang Cheng was talking about.

“Elder brother?”

That voice neither belonged to Nie HuaiSang nor Jiang Cheng.

Wei WuXian turned to see that besides Jiang Cheng, there were other guests. Both Lan XiChen and Lan WangJi were standing not too far away from Jiang Cheng, with Lan XiChen looking astonished and Lan WangJi looking angrier at him than he usually did. Was that even possible? But he had not done anything to offend the man yet. He did not even know the man would be arriving here in the first place.

“XiChen?”

Nie MingJue quickly stood up, surprised to see that his sworn brother had come for a visit, along with two other guests. Wei WuXian stood up soon after Nie MingJue.

“XiChen, why are you here? And Sect Leader Jiang too?” questioned Nie MingJue.

Lan XiChen’s expression turned from an astonished one to one with disappointment.

“Elder brother… you…”

Lan XiChen was unsure if he should continue. He glanced at his younger brother standing beside him who had both his hands clenched into fists. He could feel his younger brother was trying hard to suppress the complicated feelings he was keeping within him. Lan WangJi glanced at Nie MingJue then at Wei WuXian before he turned and walked away.

“WangJi,” Lan XiChen called out to his brother, but his brother had already left, mounting himself on Bichen and headed back to Gusu. He turned back and looked at Nie MingJue and Wei WuXian.

“Elder brother, how can you do this? You clearly know that WangJi is in love with Young Master Wei. You told me you would help me out and support me, but right now, you..!”

Lan XiChen gave his elder sworn brother one last look of disappointment before he moved out too. He needed to be by this brother’s side so he could comfort him.

“XiChen!”

Nie MingJue rushed forward, trying to catch up with Lan XiChen and explain to him, but he was halted by Jiang Cheng who appeared to block his path.

“Sect Leader Nie, you can’t just run away like this. Since you and Wei WuXian… the two of you are already like this, you need to take responsibility,” said Jiang Cheng with a hand stretched out in front of Nie MingJue, determined to stop the man from leaving.

Nie MingJue glared at him.

Take responsibility?

Take what responsibility?!

“Nonsense, there is obviously nothing between us! Wei WuXian, explain yourself,” said Nie MingJue before he pushed Jiang Cheng away, exclaiming, “Move out of my way!”

Nie MingJue left, leaving both Wei WuXian and Jiang Cheng staring at each other, perplexed.

Although extremely baffled with what had just happened, especially with what Lan XiChen had just said before the man left, but the least Wei WuXian knew was that Jiang Cheng would not leave him alone unless he gave him the explanation that he thought he deserved. He left the hall with Jiang Cheng following behind him, leaving Nie HuaiSang alone.

Nie HuaiSang, being as confused as Wei WuXian, felt there was something important he had to think about and quickly rushed back to his room. Once reaching his room, he sat in front of his table with a blank piece of paper on it and a brush on his hand, planning to draw out a relationship flow.

He firstly wrote three names on the blank piece of paper, with Wei WuXian in the middle, and Nie MingJue and Lan WangJi on top of him. He drew an arrow from Nie MingJue pointing to Wei WuXian, and another arrow from Lan WangJi pointing toward Wei WuXian.

He could feel that his brother was clearly in love with Wei WuXian, but his brother probably had not realized that yet. At the same time, Lan XiChen had just mentioned that Lan WangJi was actually in love with Wei WuXian.

Oh, right.

He still had not gone out from that shock yet. He knew everyone else was probably just as shock as him. Who would have thought that Lan WangJi would actually fall for someone, let alone falling for Wei WuXian who many had thought he was someone he hated all these whiles?

As for Lan XiChen, he always felt that this man seemed a little in love with his brother, but he was not too sure. He knew Lan XiChen had always been a very gentle man, so perhaps he really only treated Nie MingJue as his elder brother. However, after ruminating for a while, he felt his brother was such a great man and that probably no one would fail to fall in love with him, not even Lan XiChen. Hence, he drew another arrow pointing from Lan XiChen toward Nie MingJue.

The only one left now was Wei WuXian.

Who was this man in love with?

Wei WuXian did not seem to be interested in his brother in that way. Was it possible that he was actually in love with Lan WangJi? He thought about how Wei WuXian continued pestering Lan WangJi again and again, annoying the hell out of Lan WangJi. Was that even how you love someone?

Nie HuaiSang was not sure. He had never fallen in love, perhaps he would know one day when he had someone he could fall in love with.

However, he decided Wei WuXian was probably not in love with Lan WangJi either. Wei WuXian had said so himself that he only wanted to be a friend of Lan WangJi and that he enjoyed seeing the stoic man made an angry expression. Nothing more. He really hoped that was the case, and his brother would still have a chance.

But then again, was Wei WuXian really not in love with anyone? Usually, when one was in love with someone else, they would chase the one that they loved.

When Lan WangJi misunderstood what happened between Wei WuXian and Nie MingJue, Wei WuXian did not chase him. He did not chase Nie MingJue either when Nie MingJue left to chase after Lan XiChen.

He left with Jiang WanYin instead.

Wait a moment! Did that mean the one he was in love with was…

“Jiang-xiong?!”

No no no.

That was simply impossible.

They were brothers!

Frustrated with all this mess, Nie HuaiSang crumpled the piece of paper and threw it off his table, too exhausted to think any more of this.

 


 

“You and Sect Leader Nie are really not into each other?” questioned Jiang Cheng again when Wei WuXian was done explaining himself.

“Of course not.”

“How about Lan WangJi?”

Wei WuXian scratched his head as he remembered what Lan XiChen said. He thought he must have misheard, but since Jiang Cheng heard the same thing, then he definitely had heard it right.

“I have no idea. What do you think Zewu-jun meant by saying that?” questioned Wei WuXian.

“You ask me, who am I supposed to ask?” Jiang Cheng questioned him back, looking in total disbelief.

Jiang Cheng sighed, “Forget it, let’s not talk about him. I am more curious about why you ended up here in Qinghe. What is it that makes you work under Sect Leader Nie instead of coming back to me?”

Wei WuXian glanced at Jiang Cheng, considering if he should tell him the truth. After a while of thinking, he decided he had to. After all, if Jiang Cheng inquired Nie HuaiSang on the matter later, he would then discover that he had been lied at and he really did not have the time or mood to deal with a furious Jiang Cheng.

“Sect Leader Nie found out A-Yuan and I were sick but we have no money to purchase medicine, so he brought us back with a condition that I have to guide Nie HuaiSang to be the perfect future sect leader.”

“Nie HuaiSang? Is that even possible?”

“Nie-xiong is intelligent in his own way.”

“Wait, you were sick? You hardly get sick, are you fine now?”

Wei WuXian smiled at Jiang Cheng’s concern tone. Despite his harshness, Wei WuXian knew Jiang Cheng had always been concerned about him, and it made him felt warm immediately.

“I am absolutely fine now.”

Somehow, watching how Wei WuXian smiled and looking as though his health was not that important anyway, it made Jiang Cheng grew angry at him.

“You idiot! You should have come to me if you needed medicine! What will you even do if Sect Leader Nie did not come to you?”

“It’s just a small cold. I will not die from that.”

Jiang Cheng was really furious now. The two did not speak for a while, because one looked so enraged at the moment, while another one sensed the other was in a rage and did not want to make his mood worse.

After a moment of silence, Jiang Cheng spoke up again, “You… are you really not going to go back to Lotus Pier anymore?”

Wei WuXian turned to him, startled with the sudden question.

“Why? Do you miss me so much?” asked Wei WuXian, grinning.

Jiang Cheng felt annoyed. He was being so serious here and Wei WuXian seemed to be making a joke out of him.

“Who is missing you? I am just worried that you might cause trouble here and Sect Leader Nie will come and complain to me!”

Wei WuXian laughed sheepishly.

“You..! Please don’t tell me you already did that!”

“Aiyo… don’t worry. You have already announced to the world that I have betrayed your sect, whatever happens, Sect Leader Nie will not ask you to take responsibility.”

“What have you done again this time?!”

“It’s not me, okay?! It’s Nie HuaiSang!” complained Wei WuXian as he told him how Nie HuaiSang had whined on how boring studying was so he brought him out to shoot kites for a break, but instead of shooting a kite, Nie HuaiSang shot Nie MingJue’s right-hand man.

Jiang Cheng was speechless. Idiots, these two were definitely idiots! Two idiots staying in the same sect together? He was definitely glad that he was not in the position of Nie MingJue. He could only imagine how Nie MingJue would live with a headache from now on. Requesting for Wei WuXian to be the mentor of Nie HuaiSang was definitely the beginning of a disaster!

 


 

Meanwhile, Lan XiChen was using the fastest speed he could afford to fly back to Gusu so he could explain everything to his younger brother who must have been broken-hearted now after witnessing such a misunderstanding back in Unclean Realm. Once he reached Cloud Recesses, he immediately walked to Jingshi to find his brother standing there, staring at the sky.

“WangJi, WangJi. It’s a misunderstanding. There is nothing between elder brother and Young Master Wei. Elder brother told me he only brought Young Master Wei back because Young Master Wei and a Wen kid called Wen Yuan were sick, so he had his physician checked on them. Then he hired Young Master Wei to be HuaiSang’s mentor so he could provide guidance on things related to cultivation,” explained Lan XiChen.

Lan WangJi turned to his brother, surprised.

“Wei Ying is sick? I have to go and see him now,” said Lan WangJi as he took Bichen and walked past his brother.

Lan XiChen nodded in approval before he realized what his brother had said.

“Wait, WangJi! Now?” questioned Lan XiChen in disbelief. It was already late at night. It was supposed to be curfew soon, and his younger brother who had never once broken any rule just stated that he was going to travel to Qinghe now?

“WangJi, wait. I have something I forgot to tell you. When I thought elder brother and Young Master Wei had something going on, I think I might have accidentally mentioned that you are in love with Young Master Wei in front of him.”

Lan WangJi turned to look at his brother, astonished.

Now, how was he supposed to face the man?

Chapter Text

Wei WuXian could not believe this. It was definitely not his fault at all, so why was he standing there, a few feet behind Nie MingJue as he watched the Nie disciples undergoing their training? He had already tried reasoning with Nie MingJue for so many times, but it seemed like Nie MingJue would only listen to what he wished to listen to.

“Wei WuXian, starting from tomorrow, you will take Qing Liang’s position as my right-hand man until he recovers.”

Wei WuXian was feeling astounded. Did he hear that right?

“What?! Wait, why me?”

“Because you are the reason he is injured now.” Nie MingJue had answered him as though it was so obvious and that he was a fool to even dare to ask such a question.

Wei WuXian felt annoyed and unfair.

“What?! How many times have I said that it’s not me? It’s your brother, Nie HuaiSang!” exclaimed Wei WuXian but his accusation had been fallen on deaf ears.

Nie HuaiSang smiled secretly as he was pleased that his brother chose to take his side at the right time.

“And HuaiSang, starting from tomorrow, you should remain in your room and study yourself. You are not allowed to leave your room without any proper reason.”

“What?!”

Nie HuaiSang’s smile disappeared at that instant as he widened his eyes in shock. He thought his brother was not blaming him at all, and so he also thought he was free from any punishment.

“It’s late, the two of you go get some rest,” said Nie MingJue as he stood up from his seat, leaving.

“Wait, wait! Sect Leader Nie, please hear me out –”

“Wei WuXian, you need to rise at seven in the morning, you should go and get some rest now,” said Nie MingJue, not allowing for any pleading to proceed.

Hence, here he was, standing there, exhausted. Of course, he did not wake up by himself. He was used to waking at nine in the morning, and Nie MingJue had probably heard that from Nie HuaiSang, which was the explanation as to why there was loud knocking and yelling outside of his room today morning, waking him up by doing so.

Wei WuXian yawned as he ruminated on how he had been forced to wake up.

“Wei WuXian!”

If he had been feeling sleepy a second ago, he was totally awake now.

The voice that called out to him sounded so pissed off, and that voice undoubtedly belonged to Nie MingJue.

“Yes, what does Sect Leader Nie need me to do?” questioned Wei WuXian, acting as though he had not been sleepy just a few seconds ago.

Nie MingJue glared at him, “Show him the right way.”

Wei WuXian blinked his eyes. Who?

“Were you sleeping while standing?” questioned Nie MingJue.

“O-Of course not,” said Wei WuXian as he walked toward the disciples, searching for one with the expression of having been scolded. He halted when he reached the back. This one definitely looked like he had just been scolded.

“It’s you right?” asked Wei WuXian confidently.

“It’s the one standing right in front of me,” stated Nie MingJue.

Wei WuXian quickly went forward and halted beside the man who was standing right in front of Nie MingJue.

“Of course. I know it’s him, I was just testing if the others are half asleep,” said Wei WuXian as he laughed, but he immediately brought his laughter to an end when Nie MingJue glared at him harder.

“Can you show me your move again?” Wei WuXian asked the man. The man looked a little annoyed as he turned to Nie MingJue for his approval. Nie MingJue nodded and the man proceeded to repeat the same move.

“Your hand position is not right, your back is too stiff, and your legs too,” said Wei WuXian as he proceeded to adjust the man’s limbs, much to the man’s discomfort. The man looked at Nie MingJue again for any sign of his sect leader to demand the Yiling Patriarch to step back, but Nie MingJue did nothing to stop Wei WuXian. If anything, it almost looked like Nie MingJue seemed a little satisfied with what he was watching.

“Sect Leader Nie.”

A Nie disciple came and whispered something to Nie MingJue before Nie MingJue announced that he had something to do and the training field would be on Wei WuXian’s command. All the Nie disciples looked dissatisfied, unwilling to be under a demonic cultivator’s command.

Once Nie MingJue was out of sight, the man that Wei WuXian was correcting pushed Wei WuXian away.

“I don’t need a demonic cultivator telling me what is right and wrong,” said the man.

“Me too!”

“Me too!”

Many of the cultivators shouted, except for a few of them. Wei WuXian recognized those who kept their silence as those who he had spoken and talked with him a few days ago.

“Wow, you all are acting totally different once Sect Leader Nie is gone. Let me be honest here, I am not interested to guide you all at all, but I do not have a choice since Sect Leader Nie forced me into such a task. As I do not have a choice, so are all of you.”

“You,” Wei WuXian said as he pointed to the man who he was correcting halfway, “Hold your weapon tightly and attack me.”

He figured the best learning way was to show them what was right and wrong since they clearly were not a fan of listening. The man, upon being challenged did as he was told. He charged forward, fully prepared to see how the Yiling Patriarch would be injured by his weapon, only to have his weapon knocked out of his hand in a blink of an eye. The man looked astounded to be defeated by someone unarmed.

“Pick it up,” ordered Wei WuXian.

“What?”

The man and the other Nie disciples presented there were astonished. What just happened?

“The reason why I am able to defeat you unarmed is that the way you are holding your weapon is not tight enough. If you do not change the way you hold it, I can almost be sure that you will be the first to die when you enter a battlefield. Pick it up and come at me again,” said Wei WuXian.

The man picked up his weapon and held it tightly, making sure not to drop it again. He charged forward, in which Wei WuXian managed to dodge him easily. He quickly turned back with his weapon pointing toward his opponent, only to have it knocked out of his hold again as he fell on the ground.

“Your whole body is too tense. Get up, try to stay calm and relax, then come at me again.”

The man stood up, breathing in deeply as he held his weapon much tighter than before.

“Don’t rush. Only come at me when you feel you are perfectly ready.”

The man closed his eyes and took in another deep breath. When he opened his eyes, he tightened the hold on his weapon and charged forward again, this time confidence overwhelming himself. Wei WuXian smiled as he could see the man was obviously improving. However, even if the man was improving, with his current level, Wei WuXian would still be able to dodge his attack even with his eyes closed.

“Zewu-jun! Hanguang-jun!”

Wei WuXian widened his eyes as he heard the latter’s title. He turned without thinking to check if the man was really there, and true enough, Lan WangJi was standing there, watching him. He suddenly remembered he was supposed to focus, and as he turned back, there was not enough time to dodge the weapon about to injure him. He moved so that instead of being stabbed into his chest, the man only managed to create a small cut on his arm before Bichen shoved the weapon away.

“Wei Ying!”

Lan WangJi was at his side in an instant, scrutinizing his injury.

“Wei Ying?”

Lan WangJi was getting worried when Wei WuXian was staring at him and did not give him any response, but Wei WuXian could not stop himself from staring at the man in front of him. This was the second time that he could see Lan WangJi was worrying about him. The first time was at Xuanwu cave. Besides that time, they were usually arguing or simply Wei WuXian annoying the hell out of Lan WangJi whenever they met. Or perhaps there might have been other times that Lan WangJi actually showed that he cared, it was just Wei WuXian himself who did not notice it.

More importantly, the words Lan XiChen had said the other day was still ringing loudly in his ears.

“Elder brother, how can you do this? You clearly know that WangJi is in love with Young Master Wei. You told me you would help me out and support me, but right now, you..!”

“Wei Ying?”

As Lan WangJi called out to him for the third time, it looked like he had finally realized that he had been staring at the man. He quickly pulled himself away from the man and started to step back, only to take the wrong step and lost his balance, but Lan WangJi caught him as he had his arm around his waist, supporting his weight.

Wei WuXian once again widened his eyes with the sudden closeness, and it made Lan WangJi thought he felt uncomfortable with the sudden closeness. Lan WangJi pulled the man up to stand before he quickly had his hand left the man and looked away.

“Thank you,” said Wei WuXian.

“Your wound…”

“It’s just a scratch,” said Wei WuXian.

“Leave,” demanded Nie MingJue.

“What? But did you not ask me to –”

“What can an injured person do here? Go to Wen Qing and have her bandage your wound.”

“WangJi, you should accompany Young Master Wei,” added Lan XiChen.

Nie MingJue stayed where he was until he saw Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi were already out of the training field. One glance at his sworn brother, Lan XiChen knew these Nie disciples would be having a hard time.

 


 

The two were silent from walking to find Wen Qing until when Wen Qing had finished bandaging Wei WuXian and left the two alone. For once, Wei WuXian was inarticulate. He felt perplexed and his heart was racing so fast that he found himself hardly able to breathe in properly. The silence between them was making everything so awkward, and despite the silence, the words Lan XiChen had said had never ceased to repeat itself in his brain.

“Elder brother, how can you do this? You clearly know that WangJi is in love with Young Master Wei. You told me you would help me out and support me, but right now, you..!”

He could not take it anymore. It almost felt like Lan XiChen was by his side, whispering those words to him from time to time. Every time he remembered those words, he would steal a glance from Lan WangJi and quickly looked away before the man caught him staring again.

As the silence went on, Lan WangJi thought the man beside him must have known that he was in love with him, and Wei WuXian was most probably feeling uneasy, if not disgusted to even stay in the same room as him. He felt that the silence was proof that showed how the man was trying his best to create a distance between them.

He felt his heart had been crushed into thousands of pieces and he doubted those pieces would ever manage to piece back together. He could have guessed this was what would be happening, but he hoped that a miracle would happen – a miracle where the man he loved would tell him that he actually loved him too.

However, it was obvious that a miracle did not happen to him, and it probably never would. At the very least, even if the man he loved was not in love with him, he hoped the man at least did not hate him. He wished they could still be friends so that he could still have a right to stand by the man’s side and protect him if someone tried causing him any harm.

He braced himself to open his mouth, to voice out the question that needed to be asked. He needed a confirmation despite the fact that the answer might hurt him.

“Wei Ying. Do you… do you hate me now?” Lan WangJi questioned.

Wei WuXian was confounded with the sudden question.

“What? Why should I? Aren’t you the one who is supposed to hate me? You have always hated me for practicing demonic cultivation.”

Lan WangJi shook his head in denial, “Not hate. Worried. Demonic cultivation harms your body.”

Now that Wei WuXian ruminated about it, he had never heard Lan WangJi saying that he was evil. He merely told him repeatedly that demonic cultivation harmed his body. Besides, if he really hated him, he would not even share a table to have a meal with him back when he appeared at Yiling.

“But you wanted to lock me up at Cloud Recesses,” complained Wei WuXian.

Lan WangJi frowned. He definitely did not remember saying that he wanted to lock him up, and even if he ever thought of locking him up for a totally different reason from what Wei WuXian had imagined, he would never say it out loud, not even to his elder brother who understood him the most.

“I wanted to bring you back to Cloud Recesses so we could cultivate together and make you stop practicing demonic cultivation completely.”

“Oh…”

That was surprising. He did not know he had failed to understand his true intention for so long. He always thought this man hated him when the reality was that this man –

“Elder brother, how can you do this? You clearly know that WangJi is in love with Young Master Wei. You told me you would help me out and support me, but right now, you..!”

The words Lan XiChen had said the other day once again repeated itself in his brain. Perhaps, now that Lan WangJi was right here, in front of him, he should make things clear with him?

“L-Lan Zhan…”

Whatever Wei WuXian wanted to say, those words had been swallowed back once he saw Lan WangJi looking at him. He changed his sitting posture so he could not clearly see Lan WangJi’s face. The way the man was looking at him made him feel like his heart was about to jump out of him soon. That was not good. It felt like looking at Lan WangJi now harmed his body more than how demonic cultivation harmed his body.

He took in a deep breath, trying to calm himself before he started speaking.

“Lan Zhan, you –”

“Brother Xian!”

Both the men turned to the toddler running into Wei WuXian’s embrace.

“Aunt Qing said Brother Xian is injured. A-Yuan is worried,” said Wen Yuan. Wei WuXian had a fond smile on his face as he watched Wen Yuan climbed onto his laps.

“I am fine. Little A-Yuan does not need to worry.”

Wen Yuan nodded and turned to see the familiar face of the man sitting beside Wei WuXian. Within a blink of an eye, he left Wei WuXian and went to tighten his little fingers on Lan WangJi’s leg instead.

“Brother Rich is here too,” he said happily.

“Long time no see, A-Yuan.”

Wen Yuan smiled happily at Lan WangJi.

“A-Yuan misses Brother Rich very much!” stated Wen Yuan.

Wen Yuan crawled onto Lan WangJi’s laps and the toddler started telling Lan WangJi stories of how much he missed him and how he had been living in Unclean Realm and how he was afraid of his Brother Super Rich in the beginning but now he loved Brother Super Rich very much. Lan WangJi was listening to each word of Wen Yuan earnestly. Wei WuXian smiled as he watched the two seemingly enjoying their time with each other. If he had not known any better, he would have thought Lan WangJi was the father of Wen Yuan.

For a long time, the three just sat there and enjoyed their time together. It was only when the day was starting to get darker that Wen Yuan was starting to feel sleepy and Lan WangJi stated that it was time for him to leave. Wei WuXian, holding the asleep A-Yuan in his arms, walked Lan WangJi to the exit of Unclean Realm. When they were there, Nie MingJue and Lan XiChen were already standing there. Lan WangJi walked toward his brother, but just before the twin jade of Lans mounted on their swords, Lan WangJi halted and turned back to Wei WuXian.

“Wei Ying, can I come to visit again?”

Wei WuXian was taken aback with the sudden question, but somehow just the thought of being able to see Lan WangJi again soon made him feel excited, and so he nodded happily to the man.

“Of course, Lan Zhan!”

 


 

Madame Jin could not believe what she was hearing. The maids had told her that her daughter-in-law had been busying herself in the kitchen. That was merely ridiculous. Jiang YanLi was pregnant, she should be resting in her room. Madame Jin rushed to the kitchen but before she even went in, she could already smell the famous lotus pork rib soup in which besides her daughter-in-law, no one else in Lanling knew how to make that soup.

“A-Li, you are pregnant, you should not be exhausting yourself by cooking here,” said Madame Jin disapprovingly.

“I am almost done,” said Jiang YanLi.

Madame Jin was about to say something else when she saw her son was there too, lending a hand for his wife with the cooking by handing ingredients after ingredients to Jiang YanLi. That way, Jiang YanLi would not need to move too much. Madame Jin was not pleased with what she was seeing at all. Her son should stop his wife from cooking, not lending her a hand. Madame Jin sighed in defeat.

“A-Li, if you want to drink this soup, perhaps next time you can teach the maids how to prepare it?” suggested Madame Jin.

“This is not for me. It is for my brother,” said Jiang YanLi as she turned to her mother-in-law and smiled at her.

“Is Sect Leader Jiang coming later?” questioned Madame Jin.

Jiang YanLi turned to her again and upon seeing her mother-in-law’s confused look, she realized she must have misunderstood.

“This is not for A-Cheng. It is for A-Xian.”

Madame Jin looked at Jiang YanLi, perplexed.

“You mean Wei WuXian? I thought he had already cut ties with you and your brother? After all, he did not even attend your wedding,” said Madame Jin.

Upon hearing that, Jiang YanLi’s smile disappeared immediately and she had stopped stirring the soup completely.

“Mother!”

Jin ZiXuan tried to warn his mother that she should stop speaking. Madame Jin noticed she must have offended her daughter-in-law with her words, though she was not exactly sure which word. She excused herself and left her son and daughter-in-law in the kitchen. Once Madame Jin left, Jin ZiXuan approached his wife and took her hands in his, rubbing them soothingly to try comforting his wife. His wife looked sad, and her eyes looked like she was about to cry.

“A-Xuan, I have been thinking… do you think A-Xian might hate me? Does he even want to see me again?”

Jin ZiXuan wiped off a drop of tear that trickled down his wife’s cheek as he told him confidently, “He will not hate you. My wife is the most amazing wife and the most amazing sister in the world, who will even have the heart to hate you? Don’t worry, A-Li. I am sure when we get to Qinghe, Wei WuXian will be so happy that he will cry out loud and tell you that he had missed you just as much as you missed him.”

Jiang YanLi felt reassured after listening to her husband’s comforting words. She nodded and wiped off her tears before she continued to look after the soup she was boiling. Once the soup was done boiling, Jin ZiXuan helped his wife to pack the soup, and together, they mounted on Suihua and headed to Qinghe.

Chapter Text

Neither of being a sect leader nor a sect leader’s right-hand man was easy. That was what he had realized ever since he was forced to be the right-hand man of Nie MingJue. He had never thought that being a sect leader would be that exhausting, the same applied for being a sect leader’s right-hand man. He was not sure if every other sect were like this or was it just the Qinghe Nie Sect, but Nie MingJue being the sect leader was busy every day. Wei WuXian, being the temporary sect leader’s right-hand man was just as busy as the sect leader.

They had been out since morning and finally returned to Unclean Realm when it was noon. When Wei WuXian was at the entrance of Unclean Realm, he suddenly realized how hungry he was. He thought it was time for a meal when a Nie disciple came to Nie MingJue to inform him a sect leader from another sect was here for a visit. Nie MingJue nodded and went ahead to welcome the said sect leader and Wei WuXian followed closely behind him.

When they were on the way there to greet the guest, another Nie disciple came to inform something to Nie MingJue softly, and Wei WuXian did not really catch what the man was saying.

“Inform HuaiSang to bring them to the dining hall, and we will be there shortly,” said Nie MingJue.

The Nie disciple bowed to his sect leader before disappearing to complete the task given to him. Nie MingJue continued to walk forward to welcome the guest waiting for him with Wei WuXian behind him.

Apparently, Nie MingJue seemed to have lent a helping man to that sect and the sect leader came all the way here to Qinghe to express his gratitude to the Qinghe Nie Sect. Nie MingJue told him he only did what he was supposed to do, but the sect leader continued to express his gratitude toward him and even presented him a box of gifts. Nie MingJue tried turning him down, but the sect leader insisted that he hoped Nie MingJue could accept the gift and he even mentioned that it was nothing expensive, it was just something to show his gratitude.

Nie MingJue turned to Wei WuXian and Wei WuXian went forward to accept the box of gifts. He held out his arms to the box, but the sect leader did not hand the box of gifts to him. The sect leader was staring at his hands in which he was probably expecting him to be holding a sword instead of a flute, or a saber since he was currently the right-hand man of Nie MingJue. A cultivator was considered rude to not bring their sword around and the sect leader certainly did not even bother to hide his surprise to think that Nie MingJue would actually allow someone like that to stay at his side.

Knowing what the sect leader must be thinking, Nie MingJue cleared his throat, gaining the sect leader’s attention. The sect leader then handed the box to Wei WuXian who thanked him with a smile in return. The sect leader had bowed to Nie MingJue before he left.

Wei WuXian released a sigh when the sect leader left and turned to Nie MingJue, “Sect Leader Nie, I have been wondering how is Qing Liang? He should be about to recover soon, right?”

Nie MingJue glanced at him, “Why? It has only been a few days and you can’t handle it anymore?”

Wei WuXian straightened his back immediately and answered, “Of course not! I just thought if he has not recovered, then I should go visit him.”

Nie MingJue glared at him, “Do not disturb him.”

Wei WuXian pouted. The way the man said it made it sounded as though he was poisonous, and that anyone that he went near to would be affected by the poison he was emitting.

“I have been thinking, even if you don’t have…” Nie MingJue paused as Wei WuXian turned to him, looking a little uncomfortable with the conversation, probably worried that someone might overhear them so Nie MingJue cleared his throat and continued, “I mean even if you don’t have that thing anymore, you can still bring your sword around. Doesn't not bringing your sword around creates more questions from other cultivators?”

“If I bring my sword around and when someone challenged me to a fight, I don’t have much of an excuse to reject fighting. However, since everyone already knows I am a demonic cultivator, I can use that excuse and let them know I prefer practicing demonic cultivation and I don’t need a sword for that. At most, everyone will just think I am too arrogant and rude, and they will eventually stop asking,” said Wei WuXian.

“You…” Nie MingJue started as he eyed Chenqing, “Are you really going to continue living like this forever? I mean aside from continuing as a demonic cultivator, do you not think that Sect Leader Jiang has the right to know the truth?”

Wei WuXian’s face darkened, “No. I can’t let him know. Jiang Cheng will be devastated if he knows the truth, so please, Sect Leader Nie, please do not tell anyone about this.”

“All right, as long as you are sure that is what you want. Anyway, we have to go. You have guests again today and I have invited them for a meal,” said Nie MingJue.

Wei WuXian eyed him, confused.

Guests?

Somehow, the one that first came to his mind was a certain someone who was dressed in white with a stoic face staring at him.

“Wei Ying, can I come to visit again?”

He felt his face flushed with the thought of seeing Lan WangJi so soon. Feeling anxious, he took in a deep breath as he followed Nie MingJue into the dining hall, fully prepared to see a pair of golden eyes staring at him, but he was met with Nie HuaiSang instead.

“Nie-xiong, you are here too?” questioned Wei WuXian, surprised.

As much as he remembered, Nie HuaiSang and Lan WangJi were not in good terms. As much as he understood Nie HuaiSang, he would not want to – or he probably would not even dare to spend time alone with Lan WangJi.

He looked behind Nie HuaiSang, but instead of meeting someone dressed in all white, he saw someone else who was dressed in a purple robe.

“Jiang Cheng?!”

He was bemused to see that his guest was Jiang Cheng out of all people.

“Jiang Cheng, why are you here again?” questioned Wei WuXian.

Jiang Cheng remained silent. Wei WuXian looked like he was trying to think of the reason of Jiang Cheng’s visit for a moment before there was suddenly a mischievous smile displayed across his face.

“Why, do you miss me that much?” teased Wei WuXian.

“Stop dreaming! I am not the one who wanted to come here today!” exclaimed Jiang Cheng as he crossed his arms together and turned his face to the left, and that was when Wei WuXian noticed someone was standing not too far away from Jiang Cheng.

The man was definitely not a Yunmeng Jiang disciple given the color of the robe he was wearing. Upon realizing who the man was, Wei WuXian widened his eyes in surprise. Never would he have expected this man would be one of his guests too.

“Jin ZiXuan! Why are you here too?!”

Jin ZiXuan looked annoyed and snapped at him, “You think I want?”

Both Jin ZiXuan and Jiang Cheng signaled for him to turn behind. He froze at the thought of who else might be the one standing behind him. There was only one person who could make Jiang Cheng and Jin ZiXuan to come all the way here to Unclean Realm together.

Just as he thought, it was none other than Jiang YanLi, standing there, offering him her usual soft smile.

He felt his heart clenched tightly. He never thought he would have the chance to meet her again.

He was so surprised and overjoyed to see her again to the extent that he was already starting to think if this was a dream. He did not dare to move or speak, afraid that he might wake up from this wonderful dream. Even if it might just be a dream, it made him extremely happy and he really would not mind staying in this dream forever.

He missed Jiang YanLi – his Shijie so much.

“…Shijie.”

He felt tears trickling down his eyes when he felt Jiang YanLi caressing his cheeks, and as she spoke, her voice was as gentle as he could remember. The touch felt so real and it made him believe that this was not a dream.

Jiang YanLi, his Shijie, she was here.

“A-Xian, you got thinner again.”

Wei WuXian shook his head, denying the fact that he had actually gotten thinner. He scrutinized Jiang YanLi to check if she had been living healthily, and that was when he realized something was different with his Shijie.

“Shijie,” he smiled as he stared at Jiang YanLi’s stomach.

“Your nephew will be coming out to the world soon,” said Jiang YanLi as she gently rubbed her stomach.

Wei WuXian was about to comment on how excited he was when he registered what Jiang YanLi said.

“My… nephew?”

“You are my brother. If my son is not your nephew, what will he be?” Jiang YanLi asked.

Wei WuXian smiled brightly at Jiang YanLi.

“What now? Wei WuXian, you never acted like you are an outsider, going as far as to stop A-Li from accepting my proposal even when Jiang WanYin offered no comments. Why start acting like a stranger now?” questioned Jin ZiXuan.

Wei WuXian wiped off his tears as he exclaimed, “Jin ZiXuan, shut up!”

“A-Xian,” Jiang YanLi called out to him, catching Wei WuXian’s attention immediately.

“When he is born, you can teach him about cultivation, teach him how to be a man like you,” said Jiang YanLi, smiling.

“In my opinion, we should not let A-Ling get too close to Wei WuXian. What if he learns all the bad things from him?” questioned Jin ZiXuan.

“And in my opinion, he can be alike to anyone, but definitely not the father!” stated Wei WuXian.

“What is bad with being alike with me?”

“And what is good with being alike with you?”

“You two, stop. No matter who will A-Ling grow alike to, A-Xian, he will forever be your nephew,” said Jiang YanLi.

“Shijie…”

“That’s right. You can’t not acknowledge this nephew of yours,” said Jiang Cheng as he went near Wei WuXian and placed his hand on his shoulder.

“If A-Ling really learns anything from Wei WuXian, hopefully, he will learn of Wei WuXian’s cultivation skills so he can be a bright cultivator in the future,” said Jin ZiXuan.

Nie MingJue, upon hearing what Jin ZiXuan said, turned to see how Wei WuXian reacted to such a statement. Just as he thought, he was smiling just a second ago, and the smile had completely disappeared now. Both of them knew Wei WuXian would not be a bright cultivator, not when he did not even have a golden core in himself anymore.

Wei WuXian smiled bitterly.

“There is nothing good to be like me. I hope he will grow up to be just like Shijie,” said Wei WuXian.

Jiang YanLi smiled. She was about to ask how he had been doing here when she noticed Nie MingJue standing not too far away from them, so she approached him slowly. When she was standing right in front of the man, she bowed down to him. Wei WuXian quickly went to Jiang YanLi, followed by Jiang Cheng and Jin ZiXuan.

“Young Madame Jin.”

Nie MingJue was taken aback with Jiang YanLi suddenly bowing at him, so was the other three standing behind her worriedly.

“Sect Leader Nie, thank you very much for sheltering A-Xian. My brother, A-Xian might be playful at times, but I assure you that he will take his work seriously and will definitely live up to your standards. Therefore, I hope Sect Leader Nie can continue to take care of him in the future.”

“Shijie…”

Jiang Cheng stepped forward, standing side by side with his sister.

“Sect Leader Nie, I would like to thank you too for allowing Wei WuXian into Unclean Realm.”

“Jiang Cheng.”

Wei WuXian stared at Jiang Cheng, surprised.

“Just as my sister said, Wei WuXian might look like he is only good at fooling around, but he completes every task given to him seriously. However, if by any chance he had done anything that offends Sect Leader Nie, I would like to apologize to Sect Leader Nie on behalf of him.”

Nie MingJue raised an eyebrow at Jiang Cheng, “If my memory serves me right, I remember Wei WuXian has been banished out of Yunmeng Jiang Sect. In that case, I don't think there is a need for Sect Leader Jiang to thank and apologize to me on behalf of someone who is not related to you at all.”

Everyone else in the hall turned to Jiang Cheng, scrutinized how he would react to such a statement. As expected, he was displeased with Nie MingJue’s words but everyone else knew there was nothing he could do besides forcefully swallowing his displease because after all, there were not many people in this world who would dare offend Nie MingJue. Jiang Cheng was no exception.

“I am standing here today not because Wei WuXian is my Yunmeng Jiang Sect’s disciples or he used to be. I am here today as Wei WuXian's brother,” said Jiang Cheng.

“Very well then. If that is the case, I guess we should all drop the formalities. Throwing aside your relationship with Wei WuXian, you all are a friend of my brother too. I guess I should be thanking all of you as well for taking care of my brother back in Cloud Recesses,” said Nie MingJue as he invited everyone to have a seat and they could finally start eating. The food was being presented one by one on the table and when Wei WuXian smelled something familiar, he took a quick look at each of the food on the table.

“This is..?”

It was no doubt lotus pork rib soup prepared by Jiang YanLi.

“This is brought here by Young Madame Jin,” said Nie HuaiSang.

Jiang YanLi filled an empty bowl with the lotus pork rib soup and gave it to Wei WuXian.

“A-Xian, here.”

Wei WuXian took the bowl with his slightly trembling hands. He drank it and he immediately felt the warmth radiating through his body.

“Delicious,” said Wei WuXian.

He felt like crying again. This was his favorite lotus pork rib soup and he thought he would never have a chance to taste it again.

Jiang Cheng and Jin ZiXuan smiled. Of course, it was delicious. Jiang YanLi made it after all.  Nie HuaiSang, upon seeing how Wei WuXian enjoyed the soup, started drinking it too.

“Lady Jiang is amazing. This is delicious!” said Nie HuaiSang.

Nie MingJue eyed his brother, he thought his brother must be exaggerating. It was just another bowl of soup. What difference would it have compared to other –

“Not bad,” commented Nie MingJue.

Jiang YanLi felt herself blushing, feeling in pure elation to have been praised by Nie MingJue. It was said that the man did not praise anyone easily and to be able to obtain his praise made her feel gratified. Although Jiang YanLi’s husband and brothers were proud of her and felt that it was not enough to only comment that it was not bad because it was the most amazing soup in the world, they would not dare to openly tell Nie MingJue that it was definitely more than not bad.

The rest of the meal was eaten silently, with Jiang YanLi and Wei WuXian took turns in filling each other’s bowl with lots of food.

When they had finished their meal, Nie HuaiSang was sent back to his room to study while Wei WuXian was being excused from his duties just for the day. He happily pulled Jiang YanLi with him, with the other two following behind as he brought his three guests into his room and he helped Jiang YanLi to sit on his bed before sitting next to her.

“Look, Shijie. This is my room.”

“A-Xian, are you living fine here? Is there anyone bullying you?” asked Jiang YanLi in concern.

“A-Jie, I don’t think anyone will be able to bully him. If anyone who is getting bullied here, then there is a high possibility that he is the one bullying people,” said Jiang Cheng.

Jiang YanLi chuckled. She was so happy today. She missed hearing these two brothers of hers bickering and insulting each other jokingly.

Ignoring the man, Wei WuXian turned to Jiang YanLi and wrapped his fingers around her.

“Shijie, don’t worry. I am living very well here. Everyone treats me perfectly fine.”

Jiang YanLi felt relieved and smiled, “I am glad to hear that.”

“A-Jie, there is no need to worry about him at all. His life here is full of excitement. I bet besides us, someone from Gusu Lan Sect will also come to visit soon.”

Wei WuXian felt his face reddened.

“Jiang Cheng, what nonsense are you spouting? Lan Zhan and I aren’t like that?”

“Lan WangJi? How did you manage to offend Lan WangJi again even though you are so far away from Gusu?” questioned Jin ZiXuan.

Jiang Cheng proceeded to tell them what happened the day he was here previously along with the twin jades of Lan, all the while ignoring Wei WuXian who was trying hard to cover his mouth to stop him from talking the whole time. Jin ZiXuan was stunned by what he had just heard. Jiang YanLi’s eyes were shining in excitement.

“A-Xian, is this true? Second Master Lan really loves you?”

“I… I don’t know…” Wei WuXian said softly as he tried avoiding the gazes directing at him, suddenly feeling embarrassed for once.

Jiang YanLi smiled at the new expression found on her brother.

“Wait a moment! Are you talking about the same Lan WangJi here? As in the Lan WangJi, who is also known as Hanguang-jun – the second master Lan from Gusu Lan Sect and the younger brother of Zewu-jun?”

Jin ZiXuan was astounded with what he had just heard.

Surely, that could not be true.

Just imagine… Hanguang-jun in love with the Yiling Patriarch. A righteous gentleman in love with a loud and rude demonic cultivator.

“A-Xuan, do you happen to know another Second Master Lan if not the one that you had just described?” asked Jiang YanLi as she chuckled at her husband’s stunned face.

“But this is not possible! Why would Lan WangJi even like –”

“What is that supposed to mean? I will have you know that I am a very well-loved person!” complained Wei WuXian, offended that Jin ZiXuan was looking down on him.

“Now you are admitting that he is in love with you?” asked Jiang Cheng.

Wei WuXian felt his face burning up more than ever as he fell into silence while Jiang YanLi chuckled at the scene before her. This was what a family felt like.

A-Xian, A-Cheng, and herself – they should always stay together, and now with the addition of Jin ZiXuan and the unborn baby, Jin Ling. As long as they could all stay together, spending their time like this, it made her felt she was the most blissful woman in the world.

Chapter Text

Resting there alone on the ground, Wei WuXian could not get rid of the mixed feelings in his heart and his brain was in a mess for contemplating something that he felt he would never be able to reach a conclusion on the matter. He looked up to the sky, but the only thing he could see was the image of Lan WangJi looking indifferent, but the pair of golden eyes were staring at him and he could feel that his heart was beating so much faster than usual.

This had been going on for a few days and he would really like to be able to end this mess. Ever since Lan XiChen had mentioned that Lan WangJi was in love with him, he was curious about what that meant and often found himself thinking if Lan WangJi was really in love with him, and it eventually led him to start thinking if he was actually in love with Lan WangJi.

He ruffled his hair in frustration.

He had no idea what he had been doing recently. He kept on thinking about Lan WangJi and Nie MingJue only made everything worse, especially with what he had told Wei WuXian last night.

“Sect Leader Nie, about…” Wei WuXian started in hesitation. Some words were really hard to say or ask, but he had to do it. The question had been in his brain for a long time now, and since Nie MingJue was Lan XiChen’s sworn brother, there was a high possibility that he would be able to provide him an answer to his question.

“I don’t even need to look at you to know that you must be trying to ask about Lan WangJi, right?”

Wei WuXian was surprised. Was it that obvious?

“Zewu-jun said Lan Zhan loves me. Is that true?”

 Nie MingJue raised an eyebrow at him, “Do you think XiChen would joke about something related to his brother?”

Wei WuXian contemplated for a moment and the answer was obviously no, Lan XiChen would never do that.

“What do you think of him?” asked Nie MingJue. The sudden question surprised Wei WuXian and he really had no idea how to answer him.

“What do I..?”

“Like do you wish to marry Lan WangJi?”

“Marry him?” Wei WuXian laughed, “I have never think of marrying anyone before. Isn’t that bringing trouble to myself? I see how Shijie and Jin ZiXuan gone through all the trouble from getting separated from each other in one second and then getting back together in another second. Why will I even put myself into such trouble as if I don’t have enough trouble now?”

Nie MingJue patted his shoulder, “You should consider this. I will leave you to think about it.”

With that said, Nie MingJue left him to think for the rest of the night.

Wei WuXian sighed heavily.

“Marriage…” Wei WuXian mumbled. He was suddenly reminded of the day Jiang YanLi showed up at Yiling dressed in her wedding robe. She looked so pretty back then. No, do not be mistaken. She had always been very pretty – the prettiest if you asked Wei WuXian, but that day she had been extraordinarily pretty and he was sure she looked even more gorgeous on the day of her wedding. He tried imagining if there was a day where he would be married too, he would be wearing a red robe, and Lan WangJi would be dressed in red too for once, standing beside him –

He flushed at the thought of Lan WangJi dressed in a wedding robe. He would look so beautiful and –

“Brother Xian! Brother Xian!”

Wei WuXian snapped out of his wild thoughts when he felt someone tugging at his robe and calling out to him. He turned to see Wen Yuan jumping around him to gain his attention.

“A-Yuan, come here,” said Wei WuXian as he gestured for the toddler to come closer, and Wen Yuan ran to him. He brought the child up to his laps.

“A-Yuan, what do you think of your Brother Rich?”

“Brother Rich is very nice,” Wen Yuan answered honestly.

“I know he is nice, but…”

“But?” questioned Wen Yuan as he tilted his head in confusion.

“I don’t know… I don’t know! I don’t know!” exclaimed Wei WuXian as he once again ruffled his own hair in frustration.

“Young Master Wei?”

Wei WuXian looked up to see Wen Ning was suddenly standing in front of him, looking at him worriedly.

“A-Yuan, your brother Xian must be very busy right now. Let’s not bother him,” said Wen Ning as he carried the toddler in his arms and walked away.

Wen Ning must have thought that he was busy and did not have time to play with A-Yuan, Wei WuXian realized. He was about to stop them, but Wen Ning had already left with his nephew. Frankly speaking, he was not busy at all. Qing Liang had almost recovered and most of the work needed to be done by a right-hand man had been passed back to Qing Liang. Nie MingJue would only call for Wei WuXian when the man felt Qing Liang should not be exhausting himself too much from just being recovered.

Having nothing else to do and no one to accompany him throughout his boredom, he thought perhaps he should return to his room, enjoy a jar of Emperor’s Smile while he considered his future. On the way there, he was halted by a few Nie disciples, who he recognized one of them was the one who had previously been taught by him and injured him.

The Nie disciple stepped forward, or more like he was pushed forward by the few disciples behind him, looking sheepish and awkward as he cleared his throat and spoke, “We... We seem to be facing some trouble in our training, we hope if it is not too troublesome, does Senior Wei mind to help us out?”

Wei WuXian raised his eyebrow at them.

“Senior Wei?” he questioned. That was the first time someone would address him so.

“Previously, we might have some misunderstandings. Since sect leader trusts you, we should not doubt you either… and I am really sorry for injuring you that day. I really thought you would be able to dodge it.”

Wei WuXian was embarrassed as he was reminded of the reason he did not dodge in time.

“Enough, it’s not like I can’t teach you, but you need to answer my questions first,” said Wei WuXian. Having said that, he raised his arms and hanged it around two of the men before questioning them, “Say, do you all know how does it feel like when you are in love with someone?”

“Love?” asked one of the Nie disciples as though love itself was a strange word, “Sect Leader Nie said that as a man, we can’t be too focus on such things. We should hold our saber high, improve our cultivation skills, and fight off evil, the Wens especially.”

Wei WuXian rolled his eyes. Well, of course, Nie MingJue would say that. That man really seemed to have no interest in anything other than things related to cultivation.

“But I heard they said when you love someone, your heartbeat increases rapidly,” said another Nie disciples.

“And I heard you might even do things you usually will not do in front of the person you love,” said another.

“Young Master Wei?”

Wei WuXian ignored them as he walked in a circle, seemingly deep in thoughts. He raised his hand and placed it on his chest. He did feel that his heartbeat did increase during the previous time Lan WangJi visited him here. As for doing something unusual… he had done so many things and there was hardly anything he did not dare to do in front of anyone.

As he contemplated and tried his best to discover what it was that he felt toward Lan WangJi, the other Nie disciples who had been watching him looked at each other, puzzled.

“Young Master Wei!”

At the loud, panting voice sounded across Unclean Realm, the disciples and Wei WuXian turned to see Qing Liang rushing toward Wei WuXian, looking horrified.

“Is something wrong?” questioned Wei WuXian.

“Sect Leader… Help, Sect Leader is having a Qi deviation!”

Everyone widened their eyes upon hearing that. Wei WuXian immediately dashed toward where Nie MingJue must be with Qing Liang leading in front of him. Before he left, he had the disciples to get Wen Qing. Knowing her, she probably had an idea of how to cure or at least stop Qi deviation from worsening.

When they came to a halt, Wei WuXian registered the petrifying scene in front of him. Nie MingJue was crashing everything he could reach with Baxia. It looked like he did not know what he was doing at all. He was like a fierce corpse, crashing whatever that fell upon his eyes. Nie HuaiSang was right there, calling out to his brother and trying to advance to him, but he was forcibly pulled back by Jin GuangYao who was fixated on protecting Nie HuaiSang from being injured by Baxia.

“Brother!” cried Nie HuaiSang.

“No, HuaiSang. Elder brother can no longer recognize us,” said Jin GuangYao.

“Sect Leader Nie!” exclaimed Wei WuXian.

For a split second, it looked like Nie MingJue had stopped crashing things and was actually staring at him, but he regained to crashing things again almost immediately. Wei WuXian knew he needed to do something, which was then he remembered he had heard that Lan XiChen used to come here often to perform the music, Cleansing, the strongest of the songs of The Song of Clarity which was the Gusu Lan Sect’s a kind of mind-calming musical techniques, in hope of helping Nie MingJue to abate the consequences of his Qinghe Nie Sect’s saber spirit. He might not have heard how Cleansing sounded before but he knew a song from the Lan Sect, the song that Lan WangJi had played for him in Xuanwu cave. He did not know if it would work, but since it was most probably also a piece of music that came from the Gusu Lan Sect, he hoped it would help to calm one’s mind too. He had no choice but to give it a try.

He took his flute and started blowing out notes after notes. Nie MingJue merely slowed down his movement for a little, but it was better than nothing. All he needed to do right now was focus on the music until Wen Qing arrived.

“Elder brother!”

Wei WuXian turned to see Lan XiChen and Lan WangJi standing at the door side. He smiled in relief.

“Zewu-jun, Lan Zhan, you two need to play him Cleansing to slow down the process. Wen Qing is on her way here.”

Without further ado, the Lan brothers took out their instruments and started a duet. It seemed it had a more obvious effect on Nie MingJue now. He had dropped Baxia as he clenched his temples in pain. The Song of Clarity made Nie MingJue started struggling in trying to fight with his inner self that was getting out of control which made him felt as though his head was about to be separated into two.

Wei WuXian turned to the door, hoping that Wen Qing would be arriving soon before everything would turn out to be too late. She was their only hope right now. Like his words had been heard, Wen Qing appeared soon after with Wen Ning holding her medical tools following behind her.

“Wen Qing, quick!”

Wen Qing looked around to register the situation. First, he looked at Nie MingJue who was kneeling on the ground, both hands clenching his head in pain. Then, he turned to the Lan brothers who were still playing Cleansing.

“I have to perform acupuncture. Zewu-jun, Hanguang-jun, I need your help. The Lans are well-known for their abnormal strength, so I hope the two of you can keep him in place while I do my work.”

The Lan brothers agreed as they both kept their instruments and went forward to restrain Nie MingJue. Not long after Wen Qing started with the acupuncture, Nie MingJue fell into a state of unconsciousness. When Wen Qing was done with her acupuncture, Lan XiChen and Jin GuangYao carried their elder brother back to his room while Nie HuaiSang tailed behind them worriedly. Wei WuXian turned to express his gratitude to Wen Qing before Wen Ning and Wen Qing collected their medical equipment and turned to leave, leaving only Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi in the hall.

Wei WuXian turned to the silent man beside him and when he saw the man was staring at him, he turned away awkwardly.

“Lan Zhan,” Wei WuXian started, “Care to accompany me for a walk?”

“Mm.”

Wei WuXian started walking out of the hall and together, the two strolled around Unclean Realm in silence until Wei WuXian decided he would like to break the awkward silence.

“The music I played just now, I remember it was the music that you played for me at Xuanwu Cave. Is it a Gusu Lan music?” questioned Wei WuXian as he leaned on a tree, his right hand grasping Chenqing.

“No.”

Wei WuXian looked at Lan WangJi, bemused, “No, as in it is not a piece of music created by your sect?”

“I composed it.”

Wei WuXian was a little surprised, “Wow, what is the name of the music?”

Lan WangJi stared at him, looking as though he did not hear his question at all. Wei WuXian was about to repeat it when Lan WangJi turned, his back facing him and mumbled, “WangXian.”

Wei WuXian tilted his head, puzzled, “What?”

Lan WangJi turned to face him, “Name. WangXian.”

Wei WuXian felt heat rushing up to his cheeks when he seemed to understand the meaning behind the music’s name. He looked at Lan WangJi who seemed a little embarrassed to look at him. He really did not know what he felt for this man. Well, since he was standing right in front of him, he might as well try it out with him.

“Lan Zhan, kiss me.”

Lan WangJi stared at him, horrified.

Wei WuXian had no idea what created such an expression on the man’s face before he suddenly figured out that he was wrong to ask Lan WangJi to do something like that. The man had most probably never kissed anyone before and he probably did not know how to do it.

“Oh… you probably have not done it before. Fine, I will do it then.”

Wei WuXian walked forward and slowly placed his lips on the other man, gently kissing him. Lan WangJi seemed stunned at first, but as Wei WuXian continued further, Lan WangJi pushed him against the tree Wei WuXian was leaning on and kissed him roughly. Wei WuXian could feel and hear his heartbeat - it was too fast, and somehow the situation was a little familiar. It felt like something similar had happened before.

Kissing.

Tree.

Wei WuXian pushed Lan WangJi off him as he stared at him. Impossible, he thought to himself. This man would never do something like that.

“Lan Zhan, kiss me again, but this time bind my hands while doing it,” said Wei WuXian. Lan WangJi looked puzzled.

“Do it, please.”

Although perplexed, Lan WangJi still did as he was told. Wei WuXian closed his eyes so he could go back to that day, back at Phoenix Mountain. The kiss felt exactly like back then. He tried to push Lan WangJi away but his hands were tightly being bound together. He pulled back, and Lan WangJi who realized that immediately released him from his hold.

“Lan Zhan, Phoenix Mountain, when I blindfolded myself, was it you who kissed me?”

Lan WangJi widening his eyes slightly definitely did not go unnoticed by Wei WuXian.

 


 

“Elder brother, you scared all of us,” said Lan XiChen the moment he saw the man on the bed finally opened his eyes.

Nie MingJue looked around and saw Nie HuaiSang, Lan XiChen, and Jin GuangYao all looking at him worriedly.

“Brother, thank God. I have been calling out to you, but you did not seem to be able to hear me at all,” said Nie HuaiSang.

Nie MingJue frowned, “You did? Back then, all I heard is…”

“Sect Leader Nie!”

Strange. He remembered everything around him was too loud, he could not hear a single thing until he heard someone called out to him. That voice did not belong to his brother or sworn brothers. Out of so many voices calling out to him, he could only hear Wei WuXian’s voice.

“Brother, what did you hear?” asked Nie HuaiSang.

“Nothing. How did you all save me?” said Nie MingJue.

Jin GuangYao stood forward and proceeded to tell him everything that took place right after he started to have his Qi deviation.

“Thank you, you guys must be exhausted. Do you all want to spend the night here today?” offered Nie MingJue.

Lan XiChen and Jin GuangYao turned to each other and nodded. Lan XiChen wanted to spend a few more days here to make sure Nie MingJue was clearly safe from Qi deviation. Nie MingJue then requested Qing Liang who had been guarding outside of his room this whole time to guide his two sworn brothers to the guest rooms.

After they left, Nie MingJue turned to his brother, “Where is Wei WuXian?”

When Nie HuaiSang told him the possible place Wei WuXian might be at, Nie MingJue stood up and left his bed, walking wobbly before he suddenly lost his balance and was somehow balanced back by his younger brother.

“Brother!”

Nie MingJue raised his palm up, indicating that he was fine as he stood straight and left Nie HuaiSang’s hold. Nie HuaiSang followed behind his brother closely, preparing to catch him if he happened to lose his balance again. When his brother halted, he quickly rushed toward his side to check if he was not feeling well, but his brother seemed fine, if not looking a little irritated.

He turned to the direction where his brother was staring at, and not far from them, he saw Lan WangJi and Wei WuXian, arms over each other, eyes closed as though they were enjoying their precious moment together with their lips pressing against one another. Nie HuaiSang quickly turned to his brother. If what he had thought of what his brother was feeling for Wei WuXian was true, then his brother must be extremely upset right now. Was he supposed to comfort him now, but how?

Before he could think of any suitable action, his brother turned and left the scene and he started heading back to his room. He turned to glare at the couple who might or might not have noticed them before he quickly ran to follow closely behind his brother. Nie HuaiSang opened his mouth to try saying something, but no words could be formed. He felt anything he said right now would not be appropriate so he remained silent along the way.

When the brothers reached Nie MingJue’s room, Nie HuaiSang was about to walk in with his brother when the latter turned to him, his eyes cold as he stated, “I am tired. I am getting some rest.”

Nie HuaiSang had yet the chance to say anything when the door was closed in front of him, clearly indicating that he was not welcomed at all. The younger man had no choice but to leave his brother alone. It was all Wei WuXian’s fault!

While Nie HuaiSang headed back to his own room and pondered on how he could make his elder brother feel better, Nie MingJue was sitting on his bed, trying his best to calm himself. There was a mixture of emotions running within him, and he had no idea why.

Angry.

Disappointed.

Sad.

And all these emotions only started growing within him when he witnessed the two men kissing.

Perhaps he was angry that the two would do something so indecent at his Unclean Realm?

As for the disappointment and sadness growing within him, he really had no idea why. He had tried to think of any explanation that caused him to feel disappointed or sad, but he could think of none. He had told his sworn brother, XiChen that he would help Lan WangJi and Wei WuXian to get together, and now that they were finally together, should he not be happy?

Nothing seemed to make sense at all today.

He turned to look at Baxia as he recalled the voice that called out to him. He remembered his brain was in a mess, he had no idea what he was doing. He felt he was in pain, but the voice that called out to him was so soothing, and it made him calm his mind for a little. At that moment, he felt like he would not mind hearing that voice again.

That was Wei WuXian’s voice.

He felt Wei WuXian had always been sort of unique. He was very different from the others. He recalled how the two first met at Burial Mounds, how they drank Emperor’s Smile together and made promises to each other. Without noticing it, it seemed that he had spent most of his time with Wei WuXian ever since the man came to Unclean Realm. The more he thought about it, the more memories of his conversation with Wei WuXian came to him. He was thinking so deeply that even when there were people knocking his door, some asking him if he was asleep, some asking him if he wished to have a meal – yet he ignored them all as he was completely absorbed into those nostalgic memories.

 


 

The next morning, Nie HuaiSang went to the kitchen to get some light food for his brother. Many things have happened yesterday, and even if his brother might not have an appetite, he needed to at least eat a little. When he went into the kitchen, he saw Qing Liang was already there, placing a bowl of congee onto a tray.

“Young Master,” Qing Liang greeted as soon as he saw Nie HuaiSang walked in.

“Qing Liang, this is for my brother?” questioned Nie HuaiSang.

Qing Liang nodded.

“Sect leader probably does not have much of an appetite, this bowl of congee is what is suitable for him for breakfast,” said Qing Liang.

Nie HuaiSang eyed him in a slight surprise, “You know?”

“Almost everyone in Unclean Realm knew Young Master Wei and Hanguang-jun were kissing each other yesterday,” said Qing Ling, his tone sounded dispirited.

“You know my brother is…”

Nie HuaiSang was not sure if he should continue. Qing Liang smiled at him, knowing exactly what he was trying to say.

“I am more surprised that young master found out about it too. I have been by sect leader’s side for so long, and I believe I understand him better than many other people. Sect leader’s actions toward Young Master Wei is absolutely different compared to how he treated the others.”

Nie HuaiSang felt Qing Liang’s words were absolutely right. His brother had been so obvious of his love toward Wei WuXian, he did not understand how Wei WuXian could not see that through. His brother was so much gentler toward Wei WuXian than to his own younger brother. Did Wei WuXian only have eyes for Lan WangJi?

What was it that even made his brother lost to Lan WangJi in the first place? He believed his brother was definitely a much better choice and that Wei WuXian chose Lan WangJi instead, he felt that there was certainly something wrong with Wei WuXian’s eyes.

Sensing his distress, Qing Liang placed a hand over the shorter man’s shoulder, “Do not stress yourself too much. I believe sect leader knows how to handle his relationship issue by himself. I will take this to him first before it gets cold.”

When Qing Liang lifted up the tray in his hand, Nie HuaiSang stopped him, “You have just recovered from your injury. Let me take this to my brother instead.”

Before Qing Liang could say anything else, someone who just entered the kitchen called out to them energetically, “Nie-xiong! Qing Liang!”

Nie HuaiSang was not pleased to hear that voice.

“Young Master Wei,” greeted Qing Liang.

“Is this for Sect Leader Nie? How is he? I wanted to visit him to check on him yesterday night but thought it might disturb him. I am about to visit him now, let me take this to him instead.”

Wei WuXian wanted to take the tray from Nie HuaiSang, but Nie HuaiSang refused to let it go. What was Wei WuXian trying to do visiting his brother at such a depressing time? He should stop adding fuel to the fire, and it would be so much more preferable if Wei WuXian were to stay far away from his brother.

“Do not bother, I will take this to my brother,” said Nie HuaiSang coldly.

Wei WuXian put more force and seized the tray in his hands, forcefully taking it out of Nie HuaiSang’s hold. With the congee in his hand, he left, heading to Nie MingJue’s room.

“Hey!” Nie HuaiSang tried protesting when the tray of food in his hands was snatched by Wei WuXian. He wanted to snatch the tray back, but Wei WuXian already left with the tray in his hand.

“Wei WuXian!”

 


 

There was a knock on the door. Nie MingJue looked around and noticed it was already morning, and he had not even gotten a single second of sleep. He had been sitting there, ruminating, and reminiscing about many things.

“Sect Leader Nie, are you awake?” A voice sounded outside of his room.

That was the voice that he had heard amidst his Qi deviation.

Wei WuXian’s voice.

Nie MingJue stood up and opened the door, revealing a seemingly excited Wei WuXian smiling and holding a bowl of congee in his hand.

“Sect Leader Nie, you are awake! Here, have something to eat first,” said Wei WuXian.

Nie MingJue subconsciously raised his hand to take the offered bowl in his hand, eyes fixed on the shorter man standing before him.

“Sect Leader Nie, are you feeling better now? Should I ask Wen Qing to check on you again?”

“I am fine.”

“You got me so worried yesterday. Thankfully Zewu-jun, Lan Zhan, and Wen Qing are here, if not I really have no idea what might happen.”

“You are worried..?”

“Of course I am. When I saw you having a Qi deviation, I did not know what to do. I called out to you, yet it seemed like you did not hear me at all. Then I played you a song, and it hardly stopped you at all until Lan Zhan and Zewu-jun came.”

Well, of course, he was worried, Nie MingJue thought. He definitely could see that he must have been so worried yesterday that Lan WangJi had to comfort him by planting kisses on his lips.

“But don’t worry, Sect Leader Nie. I have asked Lan Zhan to teach me how to play Cleansing and I can play it for you every day from now on,” said Wei WuXian.

Nie MingJue looked at him, baffled, “Every day?”

“Yes, every day!”

“But you are not going to stay here forever,” said Nie MingJue.

“Where else could I go? You know that I have so many enemies out there that once I step out of here, these people will be planning a massacre at me,” said Wei WuXian as he laughed lightly.

Where else?

To Gusu of course… to Cloud Recesses and to spend his time alone with Lan WangJi.

Somehow, thinking that Wei WuXian would be leaving soon made him felt a little unsettled. It suddenly felt like someone was clenching his heart, making him feel absolutely uncomfortable. He noticed he had been feeling strange these few days, especially when he was talking with Wei WuXian. Whatever it was, he hoped this type of feeling would end soon and return him his peaceful days.

“Thank you for the congee. You should go and take your meal first if you have not done it,” said Nie MingJue. Wei WuXian nodded at him before turning to leave the room.

Chapter Text

Nie MingJue was annoyed.

He scanned his surroundings and came to realize that ever since Wei WuXian was here in Unclean Realm, he had been getting more and more guests recently. Among all the guests, he had to say Lan WangJi was a common one ever since the two were seen kissing in Unclean Realm. Lan WangJi would come for a visit often, and he would usually stay for a night or two before leaving. As for now, Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi had apparently invited Lan XiChen and Lan QiRen from Gusu Lan Sect, as well as Jiang WanYin and Jiang YanLi from Yunmeng Jiang Sect. The invited guests were all here, yet both Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi were nowhere to be seen.

The tension was heavy among the guests. None of them spoke. Lan QiRen was looking grumpier than usual. Jiang WanYin was no better. The man looked like he was about to fling out zidian anytime. Jiang YanLi was looking a little worried, either worried about what Wei WuXian had done which resulted in the need of inviting so many people here or worried that Jiang WanYin would start murdering someone soon if the man who called them here did not arrive any sooner. Lan XiChen was the only one smiling. Nie MingJue felt that this sworn brother of his probably knew what was about to happen.

Before the situation got any worse, Lan WangJi and Wei WuXian finally appeared hand in hand. Lan QiRen and Jiang Cheng were exasperated upon seeing the gesture. It took Lan QiRen all the self-control he had to prevent himself from dashing to his nephew and start yelling at Wei WuXian to leave his nephew alone. Lan XiChen and Jiang YanLi were smiling fondly. Nie MingJue cleared his throat, pretending he could not feel how the two of his guests were displeased with the sight of the two men walking in.

“Wei WuXian, you are finally here. I will leave the guests to you now,” said Nie MingJue as he prepared to leave. This looked more like a family meeting than anything else.

“Sect Leader Nie, please wait a moment. There is something I have to announce today,” said Wei WuXian.

Nie MingJue, although puzzled, but he still sat back in his place as he waited for the announcement. Something of how Wei WuXian looked at him made him felt a little uneasy. He had a feeling that whatever it was that would be coming, it was probably not something good.

Wei WuXian advanced toward where Nie MingJue was currently sitting at, and when he was standing right in front of the elder man, he abruptly knelt before the man.

“Wei WuXian!” exclaimed Jiang Cheng as he immediately stood up, along with Jiang YanLi, feeling confounded at what their brother was doing.

Nie MingJue was taken aback by the man’s sudden movement. Lan QiRen and Lan XiChen were also surprised, the uncle-nephew pair merely looked at each other, puzzled.

“Sect Leader Nie, I feel I am unable to show it to you how much I am thankful to you for inviting and allowing the Wen remnants here and gave us a place to shelter ourselves. Without you, A-Yuan and the other elders might have either died of sickness or hunger. My life, as well as all of the Wen remnants’ lives currently living here, belongs to Sect Leader Nie and I am willing to do anything for you even if it requires me to end my life. However, I am sorry to say that the things I owe Sect Leader Nie, I might not be able to return you but as long as you need me, I will rush to Qinghe as soon as possible.”

“Stand up first,” said Nie MingJue. When Wei WuXian did not move, Nie MingJue advanced toward him and helped him up.

“That sounds like you are leaving. Do you wish to return to Burial Mounds?” asked Nie MingJue.

“I…”

Wei WuXian seemed hesitant, looking as though he was a little embarrassed to continue speaking.

“Or do you wish to return to Yunmeng?” asked Nie MingJue again.

Jiang Cheng and Jiang YanLi’s eyes sparkled with joy when they heard that, but their hope was utterly crushed when Wei WuXian shook his head. However, although he had said he was not planning to return to Yunmeng, he seemed to still be hesitating to tell everyone where he was planning to go to. For an unknown reason, Wei WuXian seemed to be avoiding Nie MingJue’s gaze. Thinking that it was part of his responsibility here to voice out, Lan WangJi stepped forward.

“Sect Leader Nie, I wish to bring Wei Ying to Gusu.”

Everyone turned to look at Lan WangJi in surprise, but Lan QiRen and Jiang Cheng looked horrified.

“Uncle, brother, Sect Leader Jiang, Young Madame Jin,” said Lan WangJi as he turned to Wei WuXian and entwined their fingers together, “I wish to get married to Wei Ying.”

A smile lingered on Lan XiChen’s face. His brother finally did it. He understood how long it had taken his brother to have the courage to advance to such a step. The joy of realizing that the day for him to plan his brother’s wedding was finally here made him wanted to jump up and embraced his brother tightly, telling his brother that he was so happy for him.

Jiang YanLi, on the other hand, covered her mouth with her hands, staring at the couple in astonishment. As much as she would also love to see her brother get married, she still thought it was too fast. She believed perhaps her brother could take things slower and only planned on getting married once he was sure the man standing by his side right now was certainly the one that he would use the remaining of his time to live happily with. Marriage was something to be taken seriously. Once married, there was no turning back and she definitely did not want to see her brother regretting anything in the future.

“I do not agree!” exclaimed both Jiang Cheng and Lan QiRen at once.

The two men turned to each other furiously. Lan QiRen felt it was Wei WuXian who did not have the right to marry his precious nephew while Jiang Cheng thought it was Lan WangJi who did not have the right to marry his brother. Both looked away, enraged as they seemed to have read each other’s minds.

“Wei WuXian, if you are leaving, then come back to Yunmeng with me!” yelled Jiang Cheng, irritated.

“Jiang Cheng!”

“A-Xian, I disagree too… I think you two should take it slowly…”

Wei WuXian was astounded. He thought Jiang YanLi would definitely be the first to agree.

“Shijie…”

“You see, even A-Jie disagrees. Now, come back to Yunmeng with me!” said Jiang Cheng as he pulled Wei WuXian toward him, but the latter was reluctant. He refused to move as he turned to Lan WangJi, unwilling to allow Jiang Cheng to pull him away.

“Stop looking at him! His uncle disagrees on this marriage too, why do you need to look like you are forcing them to accept you?! Leaving Lan WangJi, I assure you that you can definitely find a much better cultivation partner!” exclaimed Jiang Cheng as he forcibly pulled Wei WuXian out. Jiang YanLi turned to glance at Lan WangJi before she followed behind her two brothers.

Watching the Yunmeng siblings disappearing, Nie MingJue glanced at the Lans and knew they too, just like the three who had just left, had a lot to discuss. He considerately walked out, providing them a space for their family session.

He breathed out a long sigh. Unclean Realm would be pretty busy soon because they had to prepare for a wedding since Wei WuXian was currently residing at Unclean Realm. Just as he thought, Wei WuXian would choose to leave Unclean Realm soon, but he never thought it would be so soon. He still remembered clearly the day when Wei WuXian had promised him that he would play Cleansing for him every day.

“You are worried..?”

“Of course I am. When I saw you having a Qi deviation, I did not know what to do. I called out to you, yet it seemed like you did not hear me at all. Then I played you a song, and it hardly stopped you at all until Lan Zhan and Zewu-jun came.”

Well, of course, he was worried, Nie MingJue thought. He definitely could see that he must have been so worried yesterday that Lan WangJi had to comfort him by planting kisses on his lips.

“But don’t worry, Sect Leader Nie. I have asked Lan Zhan to teach me how to play Cleansing and I can play it for you every day from now on,” said Wei WuXian.

Nie MingJue looked at him, baffled, “Every day?”

“Yes, every day!”

“But you are not going to stay here forever,” said Nie MingJue.

“Where else could I go? You know that I have so many enemies out there that once I step out of here, these people will be planning a massacre at me,” said Wei WuXian as he laughed lightly.

True enough, after that day, Wei WuXian would play Cleansing for him every night. Nie MingJue was so used to listening to his flute every night and now that the man would be leaving soon, he was not sure if he would start missing the sound of Chenqing.

“Brother!”

Nie MingJue snapped out of his thoughts and turned to watch his brother running to him, panting.

“HuaiSang, what are you doing here?”

“Brother, is it true? I heard Wei-xiong is going to marry Lan WangJi, is that true?”

“Yes,” answered Nie MingJue.

“And you are fine with that? Aren’t you going to stop him?”

“Why should I stop him?”

Nie MingJue was bewildered. Why was his younger brother getting so concerned about Wei WuXian getting married to Lan WangJi? They had been head over heels for each other, so it was not really that surprising that they finally decided to get married. More importantly, why would he even want to stop the two from getting married? It was not like Wei WuXian was going to marry his brother, so it really should be none of his concern. His only concern right now was probably to know when the wedding would be held because he had to make preparations since Wei WuXian would be marrying out from Unclean Realm.

“Brother! If you let Wei WuXian leave now, he will not return here anymore! And if he really marries Lan WangJi, then there is really no turning back anymore!”

“You can go to Gusu to visit him if you miss him,” said Nie MingJue.

“Brother!”

Nie HuaiSang was frustrated. He would go to Wei WuXian instead to stop him from leaving.

If his brother refused to personally stop the man that he loved from leaving, he would do it for him.

If his brother felt embarrassed to confess to the man he loved, then he would help him inform the man.

Because he knew if he stayed here doing nothing, his brother would definitely be regretting when everything was too late, and he certainly would not want to see that.

 


 

With Nie MingJue leaving after the Yunmeng siblings, the place was filled with silence with only the Lans being there. Lan WangJi turned to look at his uncle who appeared to sit back in his chair in frustration. Lan XiChen looked at a loss.

After a moment of silence, Lan WangJi knelt down in front of Lan QiRen.

Lan QiRen immediately stood up and looked down at his kneeling nephew disapprovingly, “WangJi, you..!”

“Uncle, please allow me to marry Wei Ying.”

Lan QiRen was furious. It almost felt like he would either throw up blood or collapse from the stress his nephew was giving him.

“WangJi! Why must it be him?!”

“Besides him, I don’t want anyone else.”

“You know why I can’t agree with this! He is a demonic cultivator! Do you want history to repeat itself, just like how your father and mother lived?!”

“History will not repeat itself, because I am not going to lock up Wei Ying like what father did to mother. I will stay by his side to accompany him to do whatever he wants.”

“Lan WangJi, you..!”

Lan XiChen felt that he really should stop the argument before it got worse, and so he stepped in between his uncle and his younger brother.

“Uncle, I understand your concern, but I believe Young Master Wei will not harm anyone. I have once visited the Wen remnants here. Besides Wen Qing and Wen QiongLin, there is a toddler named Wen Yuan and the others are all elders who could hardly walk straight. If Young Master Wei is really what the others said as evil, trying to join forces with the Wens, he would have chosen to side stronger ones instead of all these people who seem to be nothing more than a burden to him. You know it too that Young Master Wei is righteous, and this time is no exception too. The reason that he saved the Wen remnants is that he knew they had not participated in the war at all, he did not have the heart to see the innocents been killed, especially Wen Yuan who probably still had no idea why his family is being targeted in the first place,” explained Lan XiChen.

Lan QiRen calmly stayed in his seat and contemplated his words.

“Besides, WangJi and Young Master Wei are deeply in love with each other, if Uncle does not agree to this marriage, I am afraid they might start considering to elope,” added Lan XiChen, chuckling as he thought of the possibility.

Lan WangJi stared at his brother in surprise. Whether his younger brother had thought of this idea before, Lan XiChen decided not to think too deeply into it.

 


 

“Shijie…” whined Wei WuXian as he sat on the ground and rested his head on Jiang YanLi’s laps who was currently sitting on his bed. Jiang Cheng was standing a few feet away from the two, back facing them as he stared at the door.

Jiang YanLi pulled Wei WuXian up so that he would be sitting on the bed next to her.

“A-Xian… I am not saying the two of you can’t get married, but it’s too fast. Can’t the two of you wait a while? The two of you have just started getting together, don’t you all need more time to understand each other and to make sure that the two of you are truly the destinated ones?”

“Shijie, I have already decided that Lan Zhan is the only one that I will be marrying. I don’t want anyone else.”

“How about Second Master Lan? Do you really think he thinks the same? Are the two of you not rushing things?”

“At first, I thought it was way too fast as well, but Lan Zhan was so sincere that I can’t resist…”

Even until now, he could still remember clearly the day when Lan WangJi came to him, his face more solemn than usual as he held his hands tightly.

“Wei Ying,” said Lan WangJi as he held Wei WuXian’s hands in his, “Marry me.”

“L-Lan Zhan?!”

“You don’t need to stay in Gusu if you do not wish to. You once said you wanted to travel around the world, night hunting in all different places, and helping out anyone you see in trouble. We can do that even after marriage. I want to stay with you forever and do everything you wish to do with you.”

Wei WuXian was taken aback at the sudden confession.

“How can you not go back to Gusu? That is your home.”

Lan WangJi shook his head, “I will follow you wherever you go. You are my home.”

Wei WuXian felt his face flushed as he told both Jiang YanLi and Jiang Cheng how Lan WangJi’s proposal had touched him. Jiang Cheng had already turned from facing the door to facing his siblings in the middle of listening to how Lan WangJi had proposed to his brother. When Wei WuXian turned to him to see his response, Jiang Cheng immediately turned his back to him, pretending he was not listening at all.

“I never know that Second Master Lan is actually capable of saying such things,” said Jiang YanLi, chuckling.

“That’s why Shijie… please let me marry Lan Zhan.”

Jiang YanLi contemplated for a moment as she watched her brother pleading her repeatedly. The two definitely looked like a great match together, and watching her brother get married was always one of her greatest dreams.

“All right,” said Jiang YanLi.

Wei WuXian had a bright, cheery smile on his face, absolutely pleased that he had finally gotten Jiang YanLi’s approval.

“A-Jie!” complained Jiang Cheng.

“A-Cheng, you heard it too. I believe Second Master Lan will be good to A-Xian and if he dares to bully our XianXian, I believe you will punish him for what he deserves,” said Jiang YanLi.

Jiang Cheng was not pleased.

“Jiang Cheng,” whined Wei WuXian.

He stood up from the bed and approached Jiang Cheng, wrapping his fingers around the grumbling man’s arm and he pleaded for his approval. He was already overjoyed to have Jiang YanLi’s approval on the marriage, but he wanted to have Jiang Cheng’s approval too. He felt that even if everyone else were against this marriage, he would be happy enough as long as he had Jiang YanLi and Jiang Cheng’s approval.

“Get away, stop pulling me!” exclaimed Jiang Cheng. He could see Wei WuXian pouted as he was pushed away but he ignored him and asked instead, “Say, when are you planning to have the wedding?”

Wei WuXian smiled brighter than ever, “I know Jiang Cheng treats me the best!”

“You can stop flattering me. Besides, even if A-Jie and I agree to it, do you seriously think Lan QiRen will agree to this? I am sure you do not need me to remind you how much that old man hates you,” Jiang Cheng said in all honesty.

“I am sure Lan Zhan will be able to convince his uncle somehow,” said Wei WuXian confidently.

Jiang Cheng rolled his eyes. He felt his brother was thinking too highly of that Lan WangJi. He was about to ask him what made him so confident that Lan WangJi would definitely be able to convince his uncle on the marriage when someone knocked on the door.

“Wei-xiong, are you in?”

It was undoubtedly Nie HuaiSang’s voice.

Surprised that Nie HuaiSang would actually come to find him suddenly, he went to open the door. Nie HuaiSang was about to say something when he noticed his friend was not alone in the room.

“Jiang-xiong, Young Madame Jin,” he greeted them while the Jiang siblings did the same.

“Nie-xiong, what is the matter?”

“Wei-xiong, I have something to tell you,” said Nie HuaiSang. Without waiting for his friend to react, he pulled his friend out of the room, leaving both Jiang Cheng and Jiang YanLi looking at each other, perplexed with what had just happened.

Wei WuXian allowed himself to be pulled along until Nie HuaiSang finally halted and decided to stop pulling him.

“Nie-xiong, what is wrong?”

“Wei-xiong, I heard you are marrying Lan WangJi. Why must it be him? There are still other people that you can consider, like…”

Wei WuXian tilted his head in bemusement, “Like? Is there even anyone else who is interested in me?”

“Of course. Like my brother for example,” stated Nie HuaiSang.

Wei WuXian was stunned for a moment before he started laughing as though he had just heard the funniest joke in his entire life.

“Nie-xiong, please…” Wei WuXian paused as he was trying his best to suppress his laughter, “Please stop, your brother is going to be so angry at you if he hears you saying that. You should not use your brother as a joke. After all, no one is going to believe that Sect Leader Nie will be interested in me at all.”

“W-”

Nie HuaiSang was dumbfounded. He already made it so clear and this idiot of a friend standing in front of him was merely taking him as a joke. He was about to yell at him to make sure Wei WuXian knew he certainly did not have the mood to joke at the moment, and he had never been this serious before, but Wei WuXian was suddenly dashing forward. He turned to see his brother approaching along with the twin jades of Lan.

“Lan Zhan! How is it?” Wei WuXian asked excitedly.

“Uncle approves,” said Lan WangJi shortly and Wei WuXian had a bright smile lingering on his face.

“Sect Leader Jiang and Young Madame Jin?” Lan WangJi questioned.

“They approve of course,” said Wei WuXian just at the time when the Jiang siblings were walking toward them.

“Young Madame Jin, Sect Leader Jiang, if you all do not mind, perhaps we can start discussing on the wedding preparation?” suggested Lan XiChen.

“Of course, Sect Leader Lan,” said Jiang Cheng solemnly.

They were all starting to move to probably where Lan QiRen was sitting frustratingly waiting for them, but Nie HuaiSang could not let this end this way. He was determined to make Wei WuXian understand that someone so much better than Lan WangJi was waiting for him. He felt sorry for Lan XiChen because the man clearly looked so excited to start planning on his brother’s wedding, but Nie HuaiSang would very much wish to be able to start planning for his brother’s wedding too.

“Wait –”

Nie HuaiSang was about to dash forward and pull back Wei WuXian. He was not done yet with what he was telling him. He would not give up until the man understood that he was not joking at all. However, he could not advance toward Wei WuXian at all because his brother was pulling him backward and dragging him away from Wei WuXian.

“Don’t disturb them. They have a lot to discuss. Wei WuXian is not leaving immediately and when they are done discussing, no one is going to stop you from telling him how much you will miss him after he marries into the Gusu Lan sect,” said Nie MingJue.

Nie HuaiSang was so exasperated that he would like to scream out of frustration.

Wei WuXian thought he was joking while his brother thought he was so desperately against Wei WuXian getting married merely because he would miss having the man around. He suddenly felt so exhausted dealing with these two men. If only someone would suggest him a way to help him out to deal with these two men, no words could describe how thankful he would be.

 

Chapter Text

Gathered in front of the entrance of Unclean Realm, Wei WuXian, along with the Wen remnants who stood behind him bowed down together in gratitude before Nie MingJue.

“Sect Leader Nie, thank you very much for your care these past few months,” said Wei WuXian.

They had already decided that until the arrival of the upcoming wedding, Wei WuXian would be living in Yunmeng while Lan WangJi would bring the Wen remnants back to Gusu for the time being. With that said, Jiang Cheng brought Wei WuXian up to Sandu and started heading back to Yunmeng together. Jiang Cheng had initially questioned Wei WuXian on where Suibian was in which the latter had simply made an excuse that he just did not feel like taking Suibian out. When both Jiang Cheng and Wei WuXian were out of sight, Lan WangJi bowed to Nie MingJue before he led the Wen remnants to leave with him, and together, they headed to Gusu.

Nie MingJue watched all of them left and even when all of his guests were gone by now, he was still staring ahead. Something did not feel right. He suddenly felt as though there was a hole in his heart. Strange feeling, but he could not really understand what was wrong with him recently. The only thing he knew was that it was not a pleasant feeling. It must be probably because he was so used to Wei WuXian blabbering nonsense beside him, and now that the talkative man had finally left, Unclean Realm had returned to its state of tranquility.

He had thought Wei WuXian would be staying here until the day of his wedding, but it seemed the other man had another planning.

“So, it’s decided then. It has been a while since Unclean Realm had prepared for a wedding,” stated Nie MingJue.

“Wait, no. Wei WuXian should be married out from Yunmeng,” said Jiang Cheng.

Nie MingJue raised an eyebrow at the man.

“Sect Leader Jiang, have you forgotten that you have banished him out from your sect?”

“He is my brother,” argued Jiang Cheng as he turned to the said brother, “Wei WuXian, pick yourself. Yunmeng or Qinghe?!”

Both Nie MingJue and Jiang Cheng fixated their gazes on Wei WuXian, waiting for an answer. Wei WuXian shifted his eyes from Nie MingJue to Jiang Cheng, absolutely surprised that he was suddenly forced to pick a place. He had hesitated to answer for a while before he suddenly decided which place he preferred.

“Sect Leader Nie, I appreciate your offer, but I would like to spend the days in Yunmeng.”

And Nie MingJue respected his decision and allowed him to leave. After all, he felt he had no right to stop him. He was not even a Nie disciple in the first place. He was only here because Nie MingJue had invited him along with the Wen remnants as his guests.

“Elder brother!”

Snapping out of his thoughts, Nie MingJue turned to glare in annoyance at his younger brother yelling at him.

“What?”

Nie HuaiSang looked stupefied at his question.

“What do you mean by what? Brother, Wei WuXian is gone now. Aren’t you going to chase? He is still not married, there is still a chance for you,” said Nie HuaiSang.

Nie MingJue frowned. His younger brother was not making any sense again. Why would he even want to chase Wei WuXian?

“Do not speak nonsense,” stated Nie MingJue coldly.

“Brother!”

“Why would I even want to chase him in the first place? Even without him, I am sure I enough can guide you to be a great sect leader,” stated Nie MingJue.

“You know that is not what I mean! Brother, you love him, don’t you?”

“W-What?!”

Nie MingJue was definitely stunned at his brother’s statement. How could his brother spout such ridiculous nonsense out loud, yet still managed to look as if he was so confident that he was right and it was an obviously known fact? To say that he actually had feelings for Wei WuXian, was his brother attempting to make a joke? Was he supposed to pretend it was funny and laughed out loud?

“You ordered Qing Liang to go all the way to Gusu and purchased two dozen of Emperor’s Smiles for Wei WuXian and I am sure that is not only because you want him to stay here to guide me in cultivation. You even spent your time drinking Emperor’s Smiles in his room and when the weather is cold, you would make sure he would not catch a cold. You never took care of me that much even when I am sick, only telling me a man should know how to take care of himself.  You even went all the way to Yunmeng and brought back all of his favorite food. Besides, have you realized that ever since Wei WuXian came to Unclean Realm, you have been smiling a lot? And the way you look at him, I am sure –”

“Nie HuaiSang, stop your nonsense!”

“Brother!” Nie HuaiSang wanted to say more, to prove to his brother what he was truly feeling deep within his heart. His brother should go and chase Wei WuXian now. He was sure between Lan WangJi and his brother, his brother was definitely the more charming one. Wei WuXian would definitely choose him over Lan WangJi. At the very least, if one day later he was given a chance to get married, be it a wife or a husband, he would want his partner to be just as charming as his brother.

However, despite Nie HuaiSang’s loud yelling at his brother to make the elder man understand what he would be losing if he continued on being indifferent toward what was important to him, Nie MingJue had already left that younger brother of his as he mounted onto Baxia, getting out of Qinghe. He felt as though both his brain and his heart were in a mess. He needed to calm down and contemplate on what was the strange feeling growing within him especially after listening to his younger brother’s uncommon long speech. The words his brother said, it felt like total nonsense, but at the same time also sounded slightly logical.

 


 

When the two men finally reached their destination, they descended to the ground. Jiang Cheng scrutinized his brother who was scanning at everything surrounding him, looking as though it had been a million years since he last came here. The man’s eyes were somewhat watery, and the tears welling in his eyes seemed to be threatening to fall any time soon. The man had clenched his fingers into fists before he took in a deep breath and gave himself the courage to walk a step forward, and another, and then another.

The moment he entered Lotus Pier, he smelled the familiar lotuses growing around and the sound of water flowing through was clear as a bell. There were also the familiar trees, the familiar buildings, as well as the familiar sound of Yunmeng Jiang disciples training. He missed and loved everything here. Never had he imagined that he would have the chance to ever enter this place again. Jiang Cheng followed behind his brother closely, deciding he should remain silent as he could have guessed what his brother was going through at the moment.

He knew his brother must have missed Lotus Pier so much. He knew his brother must be reminiscing on the days when they were all here together at Lotus Pier happily before the Wens attacked. As he watched his brother continued to look around sadly, he clenched his fists, remembering how he had agreed to cut ties with Wei WuXian back at Burial Mounds. He regretted it very much after that day, and sometimes he would find himself thinking that if Wei WuXian was so keen on protecting those poor Wen remnants, he should help him out and allowed them into Lotus Pier, or he could at least secretly find a safe, hidden place and sent them there. When he learned of the news where Nie MingJue had allowed everyone at Burial Mounds into Unclean Realm as his guests, his regret merely increased.

There was no one he could talk to regarding his regret. He could not tell Wei WuXian how he regretted it because Wei WuXian would tell him it was not his fault and that was exactly what he wanted. The man might even thank him for cooperating with him on the matter, and he was sure that would definitely make him felt worse. He could not talk about this with his sister either because his sister was busy with her wedding back then, and he was also sure his sister would tell him it was not his fault too. His siblings would never blame him, but it was at times like this that he hoped they would at least blame him for a little.

He looked at Wei WuXian who was trying to walk another step forward, he wanted to run to his brother and embraced him to tell him that everything was fine now. Wei WuXian was back with them and Lotus Pier had never stopped being his home. He felt pain arising in his heart to think that Wei WuXian might have thought Lotus Pier was not his home anymore the moment he had been banished out of the sect. Jiang Cheng clenched his fists while he gritted his teeth and forced the tears threatening to fall remained in his eyes while he silently made a promise to himself that he would not do anything that made him regret his decision from now on. Whatever happened in the future, even if all of the cultivators were raising their swords against Wei WuXian, he would certainly stand by his brother’s side and would be there to protect him until he could no longer do so. Just as when he was about to dash forward to stand side-by-side with his brother, a woman who wore the Yunmeng Jiang sect’s robe was seen walking to them.

“Sect Leader Jiang, Young Master Wei, Lady Jiang has been waiting for your arrival,” said the woman. She had gestured for the two men to follow her before she started directing them to where Jiang YanLi was waiting for them.

The woman had guided them to the dining hall, in which Jiang YanLi was standing there, smiling warmly as she welcomed the return of her brothers.

“A-Xian, come here,” said Jiang YanLi as she offered a hand to her brother.

When Wei WuXian touched the offered hand, Jiang YanLi grabbed his hand, and together, they walked slowly to the middle of the hall, in which on a table, lots of food were all displayed there. The first thing he saw and smelled was the famous lotus pork rib soup that he had missed so much. Apart from it, there was other food too, all of them were his favorites.

Wei WuXian turned to Jiang YanLi, feeling overly touched, “Shijie…”

“Come, A-Xian, take your seat and eat up,” said Jiang YanLi.

Wei WuXian obediently sat down while Jiang Cheng and Jiang YanLi sat beside him. Jiang YanLi took the empty bowl, filling it up with her lotus pork ribs soup, and added lots of pork ribs in it before handing it to her brother who was on the verge of crying. When the soup was presented in front of him, he took it with his trembling fingers and after a few moments of hesitation, he finally placed his lips onto the bowl. Tears were starting to trickle down his cheeks as he tried his best to ignore them and finished up the bowl of soup.

When he put down the bowl, Jiang YanLi whose eyes seemed a little damp too went forward to wipe away his tears.

“A-Xian, why are you suddenly crying?”

“I thought… I thought I would never be able to step my foot into Lotus Pier again, much less sitting here, enjoying this soup with Shijie here,” Wei WuXian sobbed.

Tears were starting to trickle down Jiang YanLi’s cheeks too as she pulled Wei WuXian into her embrace.

“I am sorry, A-Xian. I am sorry for leaving you alone,” said Jiang YanLi.

Wei WuXian attempted to shake his head, an indication that Jiang YanLi had done nothing wrong at all. He wanted to tell her that she should not blame herself at all because everything was his decision, but Jiang YanLi stopped him from speaking another word by embracing him tighter. Wei WuXian felt himself melting in the embrace, and he would not mind at all if he was asked to remain in this position for eternity. Jiang Cheng, who was watching all these whiles could not take it anymore as he threw his arms around his brother and sister, embracing them tightly while he allowed the tears welling in his eyes to finally start dropping down.

The three stayed there silently, feeling blissful that they could all be at Lotus Pier again, with only the three of them.

No more Wens who would be here to try destroying their family again.

No wars.

No Lan WangJi, if Jiang Cheng may add.

They allowed time for Wei WuXian to finish sobbing before they released him from their embraces. Jiang YanLi wiped her tears away with one hand and another to wipe Wei WuXian’s tears.

“Come, A-Xian, quickly eat up. The food is getting cold,” said Jiang YanLi. Wei WuXian took his bowl of rice and a pair of chopsticks from Jiang Cheng and started eating up while Jiang YanLi refilled Wei WuXian’s bowl of soup before pouring a bowl of soup for Jiang Cheng too.

As though possessed by a hungry ghost, Wei WuXian was done eating within minutes despite the overflowing tears that only managed to stop right now. He had always loved and missed his Shijie’s food. Although Unclean Realm had nice food, nothing could defeat Jiang YanLi’s delicious cooking. When he was finally done, the three stood up at once. There was another very important thing that he had not done ever since he returned to Lotus Pier. The three walked together – to the ancestral hall.

Once reaching there, the three siblings knelt down and greeted the deceased together.

“Uncle Jiang, Madame Yu, I have returned,” said Wei WuXian.

“Father, mother, I have come here with good news today. A-Xian, he is getting married soon – to the second master Lan of the Gusu Lan Sect,” said Jiang YanLi, smiling happily at the thought of seeing her brother dressing in red and married off into Gusu.

Jiang Cheng, however, did not feel the same. He frowned at the mention of Lan WangJi. He tried, but somehow, he really could not like the man. He could only hope that the man would really be good to his brother after marriage and would dote on him just like how Wei WuXian was doted by his sister every single day. Just then, he suddenly remembered where he was and immediately stopped frowning.

When the three were done with whatever else they wanted to say to the deceased, they stood up and Jiang YanLi and Jiang Cheng started walking Wei WuXian to his room. When Wei WuXian entered his long-forgotten room, he was surprised to see that it looked exactly the same, if not much cleaner than when he last lived here.

“Are you thinking that it is too clean? Should I help you dirty the room for you?” questioned Jiang Cheng.

Wei WuXian ignored the remark as he was too focused on scanning around his room. He slowly approached his bed and sat on it. As expected, no bed was more comfortable than the bed that had accompanied him all these years in Lotus Pier.

“A-Xian, A-Cheng made sure your room is preserved well so that you can come back anytime,” said Jiang YanLi.

A flush of embarrassment rose to Jiang Cheng’s cheeks at how his sister had exposed him. He turned to Wei WuXian, hoping that the man would not start teasing him, and he was not sure if he was feeling fortunate or not, but the man was completely silent.

“Thank you,” said Wei WuXian softly. Jiang YanLi smiled and turned to her other brother who seemed to be looking away with a slight blush on his face, pretending he heard nothing.

Wei WuXian gently touched his bed as he smiled. He missed his bed.

“A-Xian, welcome back,” said Jiang YanLi.

“I am back, Shijie, Jiang Cheng,” said Wei WuXian, grinning.

The three sat on the bed together, with Jiang YanLi sitting in between her two brothers. They started telling each other what they had experienced recently.

Wei WuXian started by telling them how hard it was to be the mentor of Nie HuaiSang, and it was even worse when he became the temporary right-hand man of Nie MingJue. He also told them how he had misunderstood Lan WangJi’s feelings toward him, and even told them how Lan WangJi had composed a song and had named it with the combination of both of their names. Jiang Cheng could not help but to roll his eyes as he heard the fondness in his brother’s voice when he was speaking of his soon-to-be husband while Jiang YanLi smiled, absolutely happy that her brother had found someone to love and to be loved by the man that he was in love with.

When Wei WuXian was done talking about what he had gone through in those days he was not in Lotus Pier, Jiang Cheng started off by telling them how exhausting the sect leader’s duties were and that having to improve and remain a good relationship with the other cultivation sects were not as easy as it seemed. He was glaring at Wei WuXian when he mentioned someone had once promised to help him out with his sect leader’s duties when he had finally become a sect leader, but now that he was one now, the man who made the promise had decided to forget such a promise and to marry off to Gusu instead.

“Aiya, Jiang Cheng, you are so amazing. You do not need anyone’s help,” Wei WuXian grinned. He knew Jiang Cheng would not disagree with him because he had too much pride in him to admit that he needed help from anyone.

“But don’t worry. Whenever you need help, just come and get me. I will be at Lotus Pier in an instant as long as you need me,” said Wei WuXian as he proudly hit his chest, indicating to Jiang Cheng that he could believe in his words this time.

“Like I ever need your help,” Jiang Cheng harrumphed.

Wei WuXian and Jiang YanLi chuckled at their youngest brother before Jiang YanLi proceeded to tell her brothers that ever since she was married and her mother-in-law had found out she was pregnant, they forbid her from doing anything and it was rather boring at Lanling. She hoped her brothers could be there to accompany her at times, but fortunately, whenever she felt bored, her husband was there to accompany her. Both Jiang Cheng and Wei WuXian were glad that at least Jin ZiXuan knew how to be a responsible and a good husband.

The siblings continued chattering until both Wei WuXian and Jiang Cheng fell asleep on Jiang YanLi’s laps. Jiang YanLi watched them fondly as she stroked her brothers’ hairs. She wished the three of them could really stay together like this forever. If anyone were to try breaking them up, she would be sure to stop that from happening again. She vowed to protect these two precious brothers of hers with her life.

Chapter Text

Ever since Wei WuXian left Unclean Realm, Nie MingJue had never once returned. He had traveled to lots of places and he took the chance of being alone these past few days to think things over. As he flew off from a nagging Nie HuaiSang, he really had no idea where he wanted to go to back then. However, he had a sudden urge to take a look at Yiling. He strolled through the few stalls and halted at a shop that Wei WuXian had briefly mentioned to him about the tea that tasted quite nice. He went into the shop and took a seat before he ordered a pot of tea and drank it.

When he was done enjoying the tea, he roamed around absentmindedly and when he realized it, he was already standing within Burial Mounds. He remembered the previous time he came here, the Wen remnants were trembling in fear when they saw him. After so long, the Wen remnants were still afraid of him but had learned to relax a little whenever they saw him. To them, he was their second savior after Wei WuXian, the kindhearted young man who willingly left his sect to protect them at a dangerous place with no delicious food and with the possibility of being attacked at any time.

He walked toward the so-called Demon Slaughtering cave and that was when he recalled the first time he came to Burial Mounds and everyone thought he was here to execute them.

“Sect Leader Nie, you all always say the Wen remnants hiding here will harm the innocents. Now that you have seen everyone living here, who do you think will go out trying to harm others? Is it those people who can barely even walk straight?” asked Wei WuXian as he pointed to those old men and women behind him whose age was obviously too old to even do anything heavy.

“Or do you think it will be A-Yuan, who barely even understand what is going on right now?” Wei WuXian pointed to Wen Yuan who had turned to hide behind him and was hugging his legs tightly.

“Or do you still think Wen Qing is the one who will harm people? She is a physician, both she and Wen Ning had never dirtied their hands before by killing anyone.”

He could not forget how surprised he felt back then. There were not many people in this world who actually dared to speak to him in such a tone. Wei WuXian had always been an exception to many things.

Next, he took his time to travel to Gusu and strolled around Caiyi Town. He halted in front of a restaurant in which Wei WuXian had mentioned that the spicy food there was extremely delicious and that it was on par with Yunmeng’s. He walked in and ordered those famous ones. As the food had arrived, he started tasting each of them. It was as spicy as Wei WuXian had described. He could almost imagine the man sitting across him, eating up all the food greedily with a fond smile displayed on his face. He could not help but smile slightly at the imaginary image sitting in front of him that he had created.

When he was done eating, he paid for the table before he moved out, walking toward the stall that sold Emperor’s Smiles. He bought a jar and drank it as he sat on the boat, gazing at his surroundings. He could imagine Wei WuXian standing not too far away from him as he gulped down jar after jar of Emperor’s Smile, the look of satisfaction shown all over his face.

“Look, Sect Leader Nie! Emperor’s Smile!”

Nie MingJue stood up as he walked to the man in front of him holding the jar of wine in his hand and drinking it greedily and happily, but as he got closer and lifted up his hand to reach the man’s face, the man disappeared into thin air. Turned out it was yet another imaginary Wei WuXian created by him.

He had not seen the man for only a few days, but he was missing him so much that even if the man was not here, he could still see him and hear his voice as though the man was standing beside him. He released a long sigh when he realized he had already finished the jar of wine. He looked up to the sky, but despite the clouds surrounding the sky, all he could see was the image of a certain someone wearing a black robe with a red ribbon tied around his hair, a flute hanging on his waist as the man was grinning with his hand holding a jar of Emperor’s Smile.

“HuaiSang is right, I must have fallen in love…”

 


 

“Do you have any idea where elder brother went?” questioned Lan XiChen worriedly. According to Nie HuaiSang, Nie MingJue had left Unclean Realm for a few days already and none of the Nie disciples knew of his whereabouts. He was concerned that his sworn brother might have the possibility of having a Qi deviation attacking again.

Just as Lan XiChen was about to try to search for his sworn brother around, Nie MingJue returned just in time and descended down, standing right in front of his younger brothers.

“XiChen, are you looking for me?” questioned Nie MingJue.

“Elder brother, you are back. You got me so worried,” said Lan XiChen as he released a sigh of relief, “I am here to present you Cleansing.”

Cleansing…

Right… It had been a while since he had Lan XiChen performing Cleansing to him. Previously after the Wens destroyed Cloud Recesses, Lan XiChen had been busied himself with rebuilding Cloud Recesses. Hence, he gave the responsibility of playing Cleansing to Jin GuangYao. Lan XiChen had taught his younger sworn brother on how to play Cleansing, and ever since then, Jin GuangYao became the one responsible for coming to Unclean Realm to play Cleansing to Nie MingJue. However, after he nearly died from Qi deviation, Wei WuXian had requested for Lan WangJi to teach him how to play Cleansing and from then on, he took it as his own responsibility to play Cleansing for Nie MingJue every night.

Now that the man was not in Unclean Realm anymore, of course, Lan XiChen would be here to play Cleansing for him instead.

“But don’t worry, Sect Leader Nie. I have asked Lan Zhan to teach me how to play Cleansing and I can play it for you every day from now on,” said Wei WuXian.

Nie MingJue looked at him, “Every day?”

“Yes, every day!”

Remembering how Wei WuXian had really come to him every night, Chenqing under his lips as he started playing Cleansing and every time after he finished playing, he would certainly ask him if he felt better or if he was feeling anywhere unwell, a slight soft smile nearly displayed on Nie MingJue's face but he immediately turned back to his usual stern expression when he heard someone calling out to him in worries.

“Elder brother?” Lan XiChen tried calling out to his elder sworn brother again since he did not answer him on his first try. He looked as though he was deep in thoughts and that was really not good for his health.

Nie MingJue turned to his sworn brother and cleared his throat, “Thank you for coming all the way, XiChen. Come with me.”

Lan XiChen followed Nie MingJue to the place where he used to play Cleansing for him, carefully scrutinizing his sworn brother on the way there and noticed something seemed to be troubling the man. He hoped he could help him out if there were really anything that had been troubling his elder sworn brother, but he understood him very well. He would fix whatever problem he had by himself, and he would never bother asking help from anyone. Lan XiChen hoped he could at least rely on him a little because that was what brothers were for.

When Nie MingJue took a seat, Lan XiChen took out his guqin and started playing Cleansing. Nie MingJue closed his eyes, trying his best to relax and think of nothing else, but that did not really seem possible at the moment.

“Sect Leader Nie! Look at this! Quick, look at this!”

He could not get Wei WuXian’s image and voice out of his brain, he realized. He frowned and tried his best to get the man out of his brain, and it was futile.

Now, he felt that was really a problem that he had to think of a solution for it as soon as possible. He should not think of the man anymore because he knew completely well that there would be nothing between them. The man was soon going to be his sworn brother’s brother-in-law.

“Elder brother?”

Nie MingJue snapped his eyes open upon realizing the familiar concern voice calling out to him. Lan XiChen had kept his guqin away and was currently standing right in front of him, obviously worried about him.

“Ah… XiChen?”

“Elder brother, do you have something else in mind?”

“It’s nothing.”

In Lan XiChen’s eyes, he knew there must be something troubling his sworn brother, but since he seemed reluctant to speak about it, he would not ask either. Perhaps he should find some time to ask Nie HuaiSang later, and hopefully, the man might know something about it.

“Elder brother, WuXian had invited me to Yunmeng for the lantern festival. What about you and HuaiSang also come with me?”

For a moment, Nie MingJue looked as though he was about to reject the offer, but surprisingly after a moment of silence, he gave his agreement. Lan XiChen smiled happily. The lantern festival was going to be a fun one.

 


 

Wei WuXian looked at the lantern in his hand, a smile lingering on his face as he was reminded of the previous time that they had enjoyed this festival together with everyone else before Lotus Pier was burned down. He could not remember how long had it been since he got to enjoy himself like now with his Shijie, Jiang Cheng and now with his soon-to-be husband, Lan WangJi.

In addition, he heard Lan XiChen would be coming too. It seemed about time that he should be arriving soon, so he placed the lantern he was holding onto the ground and took a look around him, observing if he could see anyone with the Gusu Lan sect’s robe.

Not long later, he finally found the man and waved to him happily, “XiChen-ge!”

He ran to his soon-to-be brother-in-law and upon a closer look, he noticed there were two other men walking by his side and he started to wave even more energetically.

“Sect Leader Nie, Nie HuaiSang!”

Nie MingJue watched Wei WuXian approaching them, revealing his surprise that Lan XiChen had brought two other guests here while Lan XiChen merely stated that he happened to be in Unclean Realm and seeing that he was coming here, he invited the others here too. Nie HuaiSang, being the supportive brother as he was, made an excuse to pull Lan XiChen away so that his brother could have a chance to talk to Wei WuXian privately. Together, they joined Lan WangJi who seemed to be listening to something Jiang YanLi was talking to him about with Jiang Cheng and Jin ZiXuan who stood behind the two, staying silent.

“I am surprised to know Sect Leader Nie is joining us today. Speaking of which, Sect Leader Nie, is your health fine? You did not encounter another Qi deviation, right? Should I ask Wen Qing to take a look and check if everything is fine?” questioned Wei WuXian.

“I am fine. XiChen will come to perform me Cleansing once in a while,” said Nie MingJue.

“Don’t worry, Sect Leader Nie. Although I am going to marry into Gusu Lan Sect soon, I will not forget my promise to you and will continue to find a solution to stop your Qi deviation from worsening.”

Nie MingJue smiled sadly.

Was he supposed to be glad that Wei WuXian did not forget his promise to him?

Was he supposed to be happy that Wei WuXian cared for him so much?

But he knew despite how much Wei WuXian would do for him, he merely saw him as someone who he respected and admired. He was someone who had extended his hand to help him out when he was in trouble after all. What he felt for him would never be love. The only one Wei WuXian would ever love was none other than Lan WangJi.

“Do you really have time to worry about me? You better watch for yourself first since you are going to get married into Cloud Recesses. I don’t think you need me to remind you of the thousands of hellish and ridiculous rules in the Gusu Lan Sect,” stated Nie MingJue

Wei WuXian pouted at the mention of those rules as he imagined Lan QiRen would probably be glaring at him on the day of his wedding.

That sight of him created a smile on Nie MingJue. He never knew someone would be able to look so good even when pouting.

“Oh, right. I have something for you,” said Nie MingJue as he took out a token and handed it to Wei WuXian.

Wei WuXian took it in his hand and stared at it, “This is?”

“Although you were not in Unclean Realm for a very long time, you were still a part of our Qinghe Nie sect. This is a wedding gift for you. With this token, you can take any amount of Emperor’s Smiles in Caiyi Town for free.”

Wei WuXian’s eyes sparkled in pure elation.

“Thank you, Sect Leader Nie! You are the best!”

Nie MingJue could not stop himself from smiling as he watched how excited the man was. He watched the man happily kept the token and as he was watching him, he took notice of Chenqing and he started to wonder if Lan WangJi was already told that he was about to marry a man with no golden core.

“Speaking of which, are you planning to tell Lan WangJi about… your future in cultivating?”

Wei WuXian looked surprised at the sudden question and shook his head.

“I don’t know how to tell him,” stated Wei WuXian.

“He will find out soon even if you try to hide it, and I think it will be better for you to tell him yourself instead of having him finding out about it.”

Wei WuXian was about to say or ask more, but he saw people were already starting the lantern festival.

“Come, let’s join them too,” said Nie MingJue.

Each of them was presented with a lantern and they were allowed to write or draw down their wishes before putting it up. Nie MingJue took a quick glance at Wei WuXian before he started writing down his wish. He only had one wish at the moment. He wrote it down and stared at it. Never in his life had he ever wished so hard for a wish to come true.

Meanwhile, Wei WuXian ruminated on what Nie MingJue had just told him. The man was right. He could not hide from Lan WangJi forever, and now that they were about to get married soon, he did not wish to hide anything from the man he loved. He could only hope that Lan WangJi would still stand by him even after knowing the truth.

Lan WangJi on the other hand was totally unaware of Wei WuXian’s concern. He stared at the lantern presented before him and wrote down something that had him worried for quite some time. He turned to his soon-to-be husband and sincerely hoped for this one wish to come true.

Hope Wei Ying can stop demonic cultivation, and goes back to cultivating on the right path.

As everyone started releasing their lanterns, Nie MingJue glanced at Wei WuXian who was smiling brightly at Lan WangJi as they gazed at each other lovingly with their hands intertwined together. He could not help but think that smile suited Wei WuXian more than anything. He hoped his wish could be fulfilled.

I hope the one I love will live in bliss for eternity.

All of them watched as their lanterns were flying up high, hoping that their wishes could be fulfilled. When the lanterns were all disappeared from their sight, everyone was invited by Jiang Cheng to have a meal at Lotus Pier. During the meal, Nie MingJue occasionally saw Wei WuXian glancing at Lan WangJi. By the look of it, he must have prepared to tell him that he had lost his golden core and could no longer cultivate on the right path.

After the meal, Wei WuXian pulled Lan WangJi along with him and disappeared from the table. All the guests prepared to leave and as Nie MingJue was about to mount onto Baxia, he turned back to take one last look at Lotus Pier.

You must live in bliss, Wei WuXian.

With that thought in mind, he turned and mounted onto Baxia. Nie HuaiSang who had been scrutinizing his brother’s expression ever since they entered Lotus Pier could not take it anymore. His heart ached seeing how his brother could not be with the man that he loved. He was about to run ahead to find Wei WuXian and he would like to tell him how much his brother loved him, but before he could do that, Nie MingJue had pulled him up onto Baxia as they started traveling back to Unclean Realm.

Nie HuaiSang dared not say anything even as he felt the silence on their way back was truly suffocating.

 


 

Standing under the tree, Wei WuXian clenched his fists and took in a deep breath. He would very much want to back out now, but he could not keep lying if they were getting married. He had to do this, and if Lan WangJi decided to annul the marriage, so be it. At the very least he would not need to feel guilty for not being honest with the man he loved.

“Lan Zhan, I… I have something to tell you,” said Wei WuXian.

“Mm.”

“Lan Zhan, I…”

Wei WuXian found himself unable to continue further.

He was afraid.

What if Lan WangJi really would not want to marry him after knowing the truth?

But he could not let himself lie at him any longer. He avoided staring straight into Lan WangJi’s eyes, thinking he probably would not be so nervous if he did not need to look at how the man would react when he told him the shocking news. Breathing in deeply once again, Wei WuXian prepared himself for the worst.

“Lan Zhan, I –”

“Wei Ying.”

Surprised that he had been interrupted, Wei WuXian looked up at the man before him and that was when he noticed Lan WangJi had wrapped his hands around him, warm and gentle.

“Wei Ying, do not force yourself if you do not wish to say it.”

“But Lan Zhan, I have to tell you now, before you really marry me. I am afraid after I tell you this, you will not want me anymore.”

Lan WangJi shook his head and eyed his lover lovingly, “I love Wei Ying no matter what happens.”

Wei WuXian felt his cheeks reddened.

“How can you be so sure?” questioned Wei WuXian.

“Because I love you, and only you,” answered Lan WangJi shortly.

Wei WuXian threw himself forward to the man before him and hugged him tightly. A few simple, gentle words from Lan WangJi and he felt like he was about to cry in happiness very soon.

“You can tell me when you finally wish to do so. We have time after all,” said Lan WangJi.

“Thank you,” said Wei WuXian as he ignored the drops of tears that fell off his cheeks. He was so happy to have Lan WangJi by his side. He felt that with this man with him, he would not need to worry about anything else. He felt safe and relieved in this man’s embrace.

 

Chapter Text

It was yet another beautiful morning in Lotus Pier, at least it felt like it to Wei WuXian. Waking up in Lotus Pier always felt so much different than waking up in Burial Mounds. At Burial Mounds, although he had not an easy life there, they managed to live a peaceful life with the little things that they had. No matter how hard or tired they felt, their mood would immediately light up when they saw little A-Yuan hugging them. A-Yuan had always been the source of happiness for everyone in Burial Mounds.

Oh, how he missed A-Yuan.

He was starting to wonder if Lan QiRen had been torturing A-Yuan with those three thousand rules, but he believed his soon-to-be husband would surely protect A-Yuan on behalf of him.

Waking up at Lotus Pier, however, made him felt everything was going great. His beloved Shijie was here, and so was Jiang Cheng. Returning to Lotus Pier reminded him of something his Shijie had often told him before he left to stay at Burial Mounds.

A-Xian, you, me, and A-Cheng, we will always be together forever.

He smiled as he thought of how his Shijie had said that. He had never thought that they would be together like this again, but it really would not be too long. Soon, he would have to marry off to Gusu and the chance for him to meet up with his Shijie and Jiang Cheng would definitely be lessened, not to mention that after his wedding with Lan WangJi, Jiang YanLi would have to stay at home to rest as much as possible while waiting for the arrival of Jin Ling to the world.

Ever since he had left Unclean Realm and returned to Yunmeng, he had spent every day here with both his Shijie and Jiang Cheng. Jiang YanLi had told him she would be staying here until his wedding, and the three of them had treasured every moment they spent together. It was just like how they used to live previously when both Jiang FengMian and Madame Yu were still here.

Wei WuXian stood up and prepared himself for another great day ahead before he left his room. Usually, the first thing he did after waking up would be to find Jiang YanLi and today was no exception. At this time, she would usually be in the kitchen, preparing lunch for them. On the way there, Wei WuXian found Jiang Cheng not too far away from him, probably planning to do the same thing as what he was about to do.

“Jiang Cheng!” He called out to the man and dashed toward him.

“Wei WuXian, you are finally awake. With the time that you usually sleep and wake up, are you sure you will be able to live well at Cloud Recesses?” questioned Jiang Cheng.

Wei WuXian was used to sleeping at one at night and waking up at nine in the morning while all Lan disciples would be sleeping at nine at night and waking up at five in the morning. Jiang Cheng could almost be sure that Lan QiRen would be so frustrated with his sleeping schedule. He was starting to wonder after his brother got married into the Gusu Lan sect, would he spend every day being punished by Lan QiRen?

“No need to worry about me. Lan Zhan had promised me that I can sleep and wake up any time I want,” said Wei WuXian as he winked at his brother.

Jiang Cheng felt himself sweating. He hoped Lan QiRen would not come to him one day, demanding for him to take responsibility because the Jiang sect’s head disciple had turned Cloud Recesses upside down.

He sighed, hopefully, that day would not be arriving. Forgetting his worries, he focused on advancing into the kitchen, only to see their sister carrying a pot of soup. Both Wei WuXian and Jiang Cheng dashed forward worriedly, taking the pot away from their sister before helping her to take a seat.

“A-Jie, you should not take something so heavy yourself. You should have asked someone to help out,” said Jiang Cheng.

“That is right, Shijie. You are pregnant now, and you should be extra careful,” said Wei WuXian.

Jiang YanLi merely smiled at her two worrying brothers. The two had always been so protective of her, and even more now that she was pregnant with Jin Ling. She touched her stomach, feeling the child kicking her. She could not wait for Jin Ling to come out to meet his father and his two uncles.

“Sect Leader Jiang, Maiden Jiang, Young Master Wei.”

Jiang Yanli, along with her two brothers looked up when a Jiang disciple came into the kitchen greeting them.

“Master Jin is here,” informed the Jiang disciple.

Jiang YanLi’s smile widened. She stood up almost immediately, too eager to meet up with her husband. They had only missed seeing each other for a few days, but it already felt too long for her. She was so used to waking up with her husband by her side, and now even with not being able to see her husband for a day would be too long.

She rushed to the main hall and saw her husband standing there, scanning around the hall that had been filled with a large number of chest boxes, in which all of them were personally sent here by the sect leader of the Gusu Lan sect and his brother a few days ago.

“A-Xuan.”

Jin ZiXuan turned, he rushed to his wife’s side and held her hands gently.

“A-Li,” He smiled. He missed his wife so much.

Both Wei WuXian and Jiang Cheng were not too sure if they were supposed to roll their eyes because Jin ZiXuan had come here uninvited or to feel happy that their sister had found the happiness that she wanted.

“These are...?” questioned Jin ZiXuan as he observed all the chest boxes located in the hall. There were just too many of them that he found it difficult to walk freely around the hall.

“What else? They are obviously bride price given by the Gusu Lan sect,” stated Jiang Cheng. He was not even sure if he should be happy that they treasured his brother so much to send such a large amount of bride price or if he should be frustrated at the large amount of bride price in which he still had not thought of where he should keep all of them. Perhaps, after his brother left to Gusu, he would throw all of them into his brother’s room.

Jin ZiXuan widened his eyes, “All these are for Wei WuXian?!”

“What? You think these are not enough to get me married into the Gusu Lan sect?” Wei WuXian questioned, grinning. Jin ZiXuan had no idea how Wei WuXian could think of himself so highly, and he was starting to compare whether the bride price he had sent to Yunmeng was more or the bride price sent by the Gusu Lan sect was more.

Jiang YanLi chuckled at them before she invited all of them to get to the dining hall to enjoy the meal she had prepared. Once positioning themselves before the food, the three men started digging up Jiang YanLi’s delicious food and Wei WuXian was the fastest among them. When Jin ZiXuan had only reached half the bowl of soup, Wei WuXian was already done with his and was requesting for another bowl. With the second bowl in his hand, he drank it rapidly as if he was rushing for a third bowl.

Jin ZiXuan frowned, “Wei WuXian, you are finishing A-Li’s soup!”

“The fastest get the most,” answered Wei WuXian as he continued drinking his favorite soup.

Jin ZiXuan snorted, “When you are not around, it is only Jiang WanYin and me, and now we are getting lesser because of you.”

Wei WuXian paused at whatever he was doing, so were Jiang Cheng and Jiang YanLi but it was unnoticed by Wei WuXian who was smiling sadly as he remembered the days he had spent at Burial Mounds. Just a few months ago, before Nie MingJue had not even invited him into Unclean Realm along with the Wen remnants, he would have never imagined that he would be at Lotus Pier again, enjoying his Shijie’s famous lotus pork rib soup. He would also have never dared to imagine that he would be getting married, much less to Lan WangJi, the man he had always thought hated him while the man was in fact very in love with him.

His thoughts were interrupted when he heard a soft, gentle wince beside him and he immediately turned to Jiang YanLi, so were Jiang Cheng and Jin ZiXuan.

“Shijie!”

“A-Jie!”

“A-Li!”

Jiang YanLi was trying to refill Jiang Cheng’s bowl of soup but it appeared as though she had been distracted for a moment there that she did not even realize that the bowl was full and the boiling soup was spilling onto her hand. She quickly and carefully put the bowl onto the table despite the fact that her skin was already turning red. All three men were gathered around her, checking on her injured hand.

“I will get the bandages!” announced Wei WuXian before he ran off.

Jin ZiXuan took his wife’s injured hand in his as he blew on the wound, hoping that would ease her pain at least for a little. He scrutinized his wife who seemed to be deep in thoughts.

“A-Li, did I… did I say something wrong?”

Both the Jiang siblings stiffened at the question. The siblings did not need to meet each other’s gaze to know what the other was thinking of.

They had known that Wei WuXian had not eaten well back when he was living in Burial Mounds. When they first visited their brother at Unclean Realm, both noticed just how thin he was and it saddened them to learn that he had suffered in those days he had left Lotus Pier. They regretted allowing him to leave. Even now, after switching to live in Unclean Realm and now at Lotus Pier, he might not be so thin anymore but it was still nowhere near before he left them.

Jiang YanLi looked down toward the ground, averting her husband's gaze before she shook her head, "No, you are right."

Jin ZiXuan was taken aback by his wife's trembling voice. He was about to pull his wife into his embrace and apologized when Wei WuXian suddenly came rushing in.

“Shijie! Come, we should put on some medicine first,” said Wei WuXian as he proceeded to spread the medicine on the wound.

Jiang YanLi said nothing as she stared at her brother who was doing his best to put on the medicine on her as gentle as he could.

“Shijie, are you feeling better?”

Jiang YanLi nodded, “I feel better now. Thank you, A-Xian.”

Wei WuXian looked relieved as he started to bandage up Jiang YanLi’s wounded place. Once the bandage was done, Jiang YanLi proceeded to continue pouring soup for them only to be stopped by her brothers and husband.

“I will do it,” offered Jin ZiXuan before he officially helped Wei WuXian and himself to refill their bowls. Jiang Cheng’s bowl was already done refilling and so Wei WuXian passed it back to him. When Jin ZiXuan was done refilling the bowls of soup, everyone resumed eating. Jiang YanLi picked the spicy chicken and placed it into Wei WuXian’s bowl.

“A-Xian, eat more.”

Wei WuXian smiled fondly at Jiang YanLi before he took another chicken and placed it into her bowl, “Shijie, you should eat more too.”

Jiang Cheng and Jin ZiXuan caught each other staring at the warm scene before them and smiled lightly before they resumed back to finishing their meal.

 


 

Lan XiChen turned around and scrutinized his surroundings, pleased to see that Cloud Recesses was in the process of being decorated into red for the upcoming wedding. He found it hard to believe that he would be seeing his brother marrying the love of his life in just a few days’ time. He knew that despite his brother looking absolutely indifferent even now, he was actually very excited. Lan XiChen knew just how much his brother had waited for the day where he would be able to hold Wei WuXian in his hands, and this day was finally approaching.

Smiling at the excitement to watch them tie the knot together, Lan XiChen strolled around Cloud Recesses to find for his brother. He went to Jingshi, but surprisingly there was no one in there. He thought perhaps he might be with their uncle, but found that Lan QiRen was alone in his room, drinking his tea and looking rather annoyed. Lan XiChen dared not ask him any more questions for he knew that one wrong word would either send his uncle to yell at him or punish him. No one dared to talk or even get near to Lan QiRen recently, knowing that he must be so annoyed for the fact that the infamous Yiling Patriarch would be his nephew-in-law very soon, and there was nothing he could do about it.

After finding for all possible places, Lan XiChen went to the Library Pavilion and he had to say he was surprised to see his brother reading a book.

“WangJi.”

He had called out to his brother from behind, and to his surprise, his brother closed the book immediately. Lan XiChen took a brief glance at the book his brother was holding, and he realized at the moment why his brother would seem a little uneased with his appearance. While it was not shameful to read such a book because he was about to get married soon, and he certainly had the right to study on what a pair of bridegrooms should be doing on their first night because it would be embarrassing to not know what to do, but still, it would be awkward to be caught reading something which did not look decent at all here in Cloud Recesses.

Lan XiChen cleared his throat, hinting that he would pretend he saw nothing.

“Brother,” Lan WangJi greeted him.

“I am just trying to check on you and to inform you that the preparation for the wedding is almost done, but I guess you have more important things to work on at the moment,” said Lan XiChen, smiling happily.

"Uncle?" questioned Lan WangJi, trying his best to avoid discussing what he had been busy with.

Lan QiRen had involved himself with the preparation of the wedding too, but the annoyance in his face was clear as a bell. Lan XiChen gave an assuring smile to his brother. He knew what his brother was concerned about.

“Do not worry, WangJi. I am sure uncle will learn to accept WuXian sooner or later,” said Lan XiChen.

Lan WangJi could only nod as a response. He hoped the day where his uncle would openly accept his husband as his nephew-in-law would be arriving soon.

“All right, WangJi. Since you are…” Lan XiChen paused a moment as he took a quick glance at the book, “Since you are busy, I will take my leave first.”

Lan XiChen turned to leave, all the while doing his best to hide his smile after noticing his brother’s earlobe was tinted pink in embarrassment.

 


 

It was already late at night here in Lotus Pier, yet Wei WuXian found himself staring around his room, unable to sleep. He traveled his fingers around his bed, feeling a little saddened that he would have to leave this place soon. He would miss his bed. He would miss the days he had spent in Lotus Pier very much. As much as he felt he would miss Lotus Pier a lot, at the same time he was also missing his soon-to-be husband very much. It was a struggle for him to not be able to meet up with Lan WangJi until the day of their wedding. He missed him more with each passing day and he wondered if Lan WangJi missed him too.

Feeling as though he would not be able to sleep any sooner, he left his room and decided to take a stroll around Lotus Pier, only to be surprised to see that Jiang Cheng was leaning against a tree, a jar of wine in his hand.

“Jiang Cheng?”

Hearing the familiar voice, Jiang Cheng turned to him, “Wei WuXian? You aren’t sleeping yet?”

“I feel like walking around and spotted our dear Sect Leader Jiang standing here alone looking so lonely. Jiang Cheng, look I am getting married in a few days' time and Shijie is also married to the peacock. You are the only one left unmarried,” said Wei WuXian. He grinned when Jiang Cheng looked exasperated at his comment.

“Shut up. If you have time to think of such nonsense, I advise you would better revise the Lan rules so as to not offend Lan QiRen every single second.”

Wei WuXian laughed. It probably would not work that way. Even without breaking any rules, Lan QiRen was already in rage the moment he saw him.

“You… are you really sure that Lan WangJi is the correct man for you?”

Wei WuXian was surprised by the sudden question. He smiled warmly at his brother knowing that despite all the harsh words his brother had always thrown to him, he still cared a lot about him.

“Jiang Cheng, I am getting married in a few days' time and you are still asking such a question? Believe me, Lan Zhan will be good to me.”

“Of course! If he dares wrong you, then it will mean a war against my Yunmeng Jiang sect.”

Wei WuXian laughed and nodded, “I will remember to tell Lan Zhan that.”

There was a slight smile on Jiang Cheng although he quickly hid it when he felt his brother glancing at him. He poured the wine passed his lips and they both stood there, staring at the sky, and enjoying each other’s silent company.

Wei WuXian eyed his brother for a moment before breaking the silence, “I will visit often.”

“You better,” said Jiang Cheng.

Both Wei WuXian and Jiang Cheng smiled, happy to know that everything was back to as it once was. Wei WuXian knew once he left Lotus Pier again, he would miss this place a lot, and he would also miss his Shijie and Jiang Cheng very much. He mentally reminded himself that he must come back to visit often along with his husband.

Chapter Text

Staring at himself in front of the mirror, a pleased smile was lingering across his face. Standing behind him were Jiang YanLi and Jiang Cheng. Jiang YanLi was staring at her brother who was dressed in red, her eyes turning watery very soon. She was so happy that she could finally see her brother get married, nonetheless to the man who she was guessing her brother had loved ever since they first met at Cloud Recesses. Jiang Cheng was staring at his brother too and surprise was written all over his face. Not that anyone could blame him, but Wei WuXian who had his red wedding robes on with his hair currently released down on his shoulders looked dazzling, definitely appeared different from how the usual man presented himself.

Jiang YanLi advanced to her brother and took the comb in her hands. Everything was almost done now, and all that was left was to make up the bridegroom’s hair. Jiang YanLi combed her brother’s hair carefully, enjoying and treasuring each moment of it because she was sure this would be her last time to take care of her brother like this. After the wedding, she would pass the responsibility of taking care of Wei WuXian to her brother-in-law and judging from her interaction with Lan WangJi the past few weeks, she could almost be sure that the man would take care of her brother just like she did, or perhaps even more.

When she was done combing his hair, she made a magnificent hairdo for her brother – one that would appear to be a good match to Lan WangJi’s. Jiang YanLi stared into the mirror, scrutinizing how extraordinarily handsome her brother looked today. With a drop of a tear falling off her cheek, she smiled in pure elation.

Wei WuXian, upon seeing such an expression on his sister’s face abruptly stood up, wiping the remaining unshed tears off Jiang YanLi’s face.

“Shijie,” Wei WuXian started, and Jiang YanLi shook her head, “I am fine, A-Xian. I am just so happy.”

Wei WuXian felt his eyes getting teary now as well and he threw himself forward to hug Jiang YanLi tightly.

“Shijie, I will miss you so much,” said Wei WuXian while he tried refraining himself from crying too much so as to not ruin his face.

“I will miss my XianXian too, very much,” said Jiang YanLi, smiling as she enjoyed being in her brother’s embrace.

Jiang Cheng stood aside and watched warmly at how both his sister and brother were enjoying and appreciating their moment together until the two finally decided to separate from each other.

Wei WuXian turned to Jiang Cheng, and being Jiang Cheng, not knowing what else he should say at such a time, he roughly pulled his brother into a hug. Wei WuXian smiled, knowing that this was Jiang Cheng’s way of congratulating him on his marriage and stating that he would miss him in a silent way.

To his surprise, Jiang Cheng actually blurted out, “Wei WuXian, remember this. Lotus Pier will forever be your home.”

Wei WuXian widened his eyes before he felt unshed tears welling up in his eyes again, “Thank you. I will miss you too, Jiang Cheng.”

Jiang YanLi smiled warmly at her brothers.

Wen Qing, who had been standing aside with her brother to avoid themselves from interrupting such a warm and touching family moment cleared her throat, gaining everyone’s attention.

“I am sorry for interrupting, but I think you all need to start getting ready if you all do not want to be late for the wedding ceremony,” stated Wen Qing.

Wei WuXian turned away from Jiang Cheng and approached the Wen siblings with a grin, “Wen Qing, Wen Ning! How do I look?”

“You look perfect, Young Master Wei,” praised Wen Ning.

“The most immaculate I have ever seen you,” commented Wen Qing. That statement sounded absolutely true that it made everyone else in the room laughed. Wei WuXian pouted, but he was very happy today so he would not argue with them regarding how untrue the statement was supposed to be.

Suppressing her laughter, Jiang YanLi stepped forward, “A-Xian, are you ready?”

Wei WuXian nodded. He straightened himself and walked out of his room gracefully with Jiang YanLi and Jiang Cheng each standing at each of his sides, followed by three Yunmeng Jiang disciples that Jiang Cheng had personally picked to follow them to the ceremony. Wen Qing and Wen Ning followed closely behind them.

 


 

With the auspicious time for the wedding reaching soon, all the guests invited to attend the wedding had already arrived at Cloud Recesses. The Lans, especially Lan QiRen and Lan XiChen were busy receiving gifts and good wishes. Lan WangJi, however, cared nothing about those things. He was standing in the middle of the hall, but his eyes never left the entrance of the hall. He felt himself getting way too excited for the moment he would be able to see his husband in his wedding robes walked toward him with the Yunmeng Jiang sect accompanying by his side.

Everything felt too good to be true that he almost thought he was dreaming, but no! His brother had reassured him countless times that he was not dreaming. Today was certainly the day where he would marry the only man that he had fallen in love with – Wei Ying.

He snapped out of his thoughts when he noticed Nie MingJue, Nie HuaiSang and Jin GuangYao approaching his brother who was standing beside him and all of them congratulated him on his marriage. Lan WangJi thanked them shortly. While Lan XiChen was chatting with both his sworn brothers happily, mostly Jin GuangYao because somehow Nie MingJue seemed rather quiet and not in the right mood today, Lan WangJi turned his attention back to the entrance of the hall, waiting for the arrival of his husband.

Unbeknown to all aside from Nie HuaiSang, similarly to Lan WangJi, Nie MingJue was staring at the entrance of the hall as well. Nie HuaiSang sulked and he had to restrain himself from trying to pull his brother out of this place. He felt his brother really should not be here. He could not even imagine how miserable his brother was at the moment to attend the wedding of the man that he loved. If it was not for his brother being so determined to attend the wedding, stating something along the line that it was Lan XiChen’s brother’s wedding, and as Lan XiChen’s sworn brother there was really no way he could miss the wedding, Nie HuaiSang would certainly not attend this wedding.

Nie HuaiSang was being snapped out of his thoughts when he heard people exclaiming that the other bridegroom was here, and there, he saw Wei WuXian was indeed walking toward the hall, with the Yunmeng Jiang sect accompanying him. Nie HuaiSang glanced at his brother and he saw the slight soft yet sad smile on his brother’s face. He sighed internally. In the end, all his brother wanted was for Wei WuXian to be happy while he completely neglected his own happiness.

With the arrival of Wei WuXian, the wedding ceremony could finally be started. Everyone else stepped to a side, giving space for Wei WuXian, Jiang YanLi and Jiang Cheng to walk toward Lan WangJi. While the three were walking forward, the Yunmeng Jiang disciples who were standing behind them stepped to the side to join the crowd along with Wen Qing and Wen Ning.

Thanks to Lan WangJi and Lan XiChen, permission was given from the Lan sect to allow the Wen remnants to attend the wedding, and the Lan sect even allowed them to help out with the wedding preparation. As the Wen siblings stepped aside, they were about to join their family in which within the crowd, they saw A-Yuan waving at them excitedly. However, before they could reach their family, the Wen siblings caught sight of Nie MingJue and they bowed to him from where they stood, and Nie MingJue nodded to them solemnly.

After the greetings, the Wen siblings turned and decided they should just stay in their seats and be as silent as possible. After all, they knew they were not welcomed here. Some cultivators even gave them a face to show how uncomfortable they felt to be in the same room with the Wens.

"Jiejie…"

Wen Ning's saddened voice surprised Wen Qing for a moment and she turned back to face her brother.

"Sect Leader Nie…"

Wen Qing knew what her brother meant, but there was really nothing they could do. It was clear to them that Nie MingJue had feelings for Wei WuXian. However, Wei WuXian had the right to choose who he wanted to stay with and he had clearly chosen.

He had chosen Lan WangJi.

Wen Qing sighed, "A-Ning. Love is just… complicated. There is nothing we can do."

Wen Ning understood and nodded, but that did not mean he would not feel sad for Nie MingJue who he felt had loved Wei WuXian just as much as Lan WangJi did. He turned to glance at Nie MingJue who was watching Wei WuXian all these while before he followed his sister to their assigned seats.

In the middle of the hall, Wei WuXian was standing before Lan WangJi and Lan XiChen with Jiang Cheng and Jiang YanLi standing by his sides. The audience witnessed Lan WangJi and Wei WuXian staring intently at each other, looking as though no one else was in the hall aside from them. Their eyes clearly could not see anyone else besides each other. It was only when Jiang YanLi had moved a step forward that the two finally realized that they were not the only two standing there and turned to Jiang YanLi.

“WangJi, I am putting A-Xian in your care,” said Jiang YanLi before she handed her precious brother’s hands to the man before them.

Lan WangJi nodded, “Thank you. I will treasure him.”

Jiang YanLi smiled and placed her brother’s hand on top of Lan WangJi’s before she walked forward with her other brother, standing in front of the couple along with Lan QiRen and Lan XiChen. With both their hands holding each other, they turned to face their family members while an elder Lan who was responsible for this ceremony walked forward. The wedding should start with no further delay before they missed the auspicious time.

“First bow – to the Heaven and Earth.”

Lan WangJi and Wei WuXian bowed.

“Second bow – to the family.”

The two glanced at the four people sat before them, and bowed to them.

“Third bow – to the spouse.”

Lan WangJi and Wei WuXian turned to each other, took a few seconds to enjoy each other’s looks before they bowed to each other.

“With this, both Lan Zhan, courtesy name WangJi and Wei Ying, courtesy name WuXian are finally married.”

Lan WangJi and Wei WuXian leaned their foreheads together, enjoying the warmth emitted by each other. Jiang YanLi and Lan XiChen smiled happily at the two, more than pleased that their brothers were officially married now. Jiang Cheng and Lan QiRen, although they were not very happy with the match their brother and nephew had chosen, yet they still felt happy for them internally.

The audience, however, most of them were in shock. Most of them were not sure if they were imagining things, but was that a smile on Lan WangJi's face? This was probably their first time seeing the second master Lan actually having such a soft side.

Wei WuXian was a man who could control corpses and put a smile on Lan WangJi.

He was a truly terrifying man.

“I can’t believe they really got married,” commented Jin ZiXuan softly.

Nie HuaiSang who happened to be standing beside the man could not really agree more and stated, “Neither do I.”

Jin ZiXuan turned to the man beside him and was suddenly puzzled. Somehow, he felt Nie HuaiSang was sort of unhappy with the wedding. Nie HuaiSang paid no attention to Jin ZiXuan at all as his eyes were focused on his brother. When his brother suddenly walked out of the hall, Nie HuaiSang quickly followed him.

“What are you doing here? Go back,” stated Nie MingJue sternly.

Nie HuaiSang refused to leave his brother alone at such a time, “No, brother. Wherever you are going, I am coming too.”

“I just want to have a walk at Caiyi Town,” said Nie MingJue.

“Then I am coming along,” said Nie HuaiSang stubbornly.

Having no strength to argue with his younger brother, Nie MingJue brought his brother up to mount onto Baxia and flew to Caiyi Town. Once at Caiyi Town, the Nie brothers sat in a restaurant before ordering a few dishes and wines. The dishes were left untouched because Nie MingJue had taken the wine in his hand and started gulping down jar after jar of wines once everything they had ordered was presented on the table. Nie HuaiSang, upon watching how depressed his brother was, decided that he was depressed as well and joined his brother in drinking jar after jar of wines.

Nie MingJue had been deep in thoughts in the beginning but he gradually remembered that he was not alone. His younger brother was with him so he turned to his brother only to find out that his brother’s head was on the table, his hands embracing the unfinished wine like it was a treasure with his eyes closed. Nie Mingjue could not help but to smile a little at how adorable his brother looked. He knew his brother was worried about him because he knew he was in love with Wei WuXian. He frowned at the thought. What a failure he was to have his brother worry for him. He had to pull himself together so that his younger brother would not need to worry about him any longer.

He stared outside of the restaurant as though his eyes could reach Cloud Recesses. He might have drank a little too much, but for a short moment, he could see Wei WuXian standing before him in his wedding robes and smiling brightly at him. Nie MingJue stared at the imaginary image standing before him, amazed with how stunning and perfect the man looked in his wedding robes. He knew the Wei WuXian standing here right now was nothing but his imagination. The man would not be here. Today was his wedding and he would be spending his time at Cloud Recesses - his first night with his husband.

Nie MingJue stood up and walked to the entrance of the restaurant and stared up at the sky. He made a promise to himself that tonight would be the last night that he would think of him. He would keep the beautiful memories that he had shared with the man deep in his heart, never to let anyone know that the man would forever have a place in his heart. No one needed to know. All he wished was for the man to be happy, and that would be more than enough.

There was a sad smile on his face as he whispered, "Wei Ying, congratulations."

 


 

Lan WangJi stood in front of Jingshi, hesitating to set his foot into it. He knew perfectly well that behind this door, a man in the familiar red robe was waiting for him on the bed – the very man that he had dreamt of every night, the man that he had longed for to be his cultivation partner. It all felt like a dream. It made him worry that there would be a possibility in which after he opened the door, the dream would end. No one was waiting for him and he would end up entering a room filled with silence again.

“Lan Zhan, is that you?”

He felt his heart skipped a beat when he heard someone called out to him within his room. He was really there. He was waiting for him. He finally opened the door and found the man looking at him smiling, but not on the bed. He was standing there, a hand holding Emperor’s Smile as he poured the wine into his throat. Lan WangJi closed the door behind him and walked toward his husband.

“Lan Zhan, say, I found many Emperor’s Smiles hidden down there,” Wei WuXian showed him the secret hole that he had found where Lan WangJi had filled the hole up with Emperor’s Smile, “Why are there so many Emperor’s Smiles in your room?”

“You like it,” said Lan WangJi.

“So is this all for me?” asked Wei WuXian, eyes sparkling in excitement. Lan WangJi nodded.

“You are the best. Since it’s our wedding night, will you drink a cup with me?” said Wei WuXian.

Lan WangJi stared at him, and then at the wine. He looked as though he was contemplating on how to reject him, but he then took two cups and poured the wine into each of it. Wei WuXian grinned in delight. He never thought that his husband would be this obedient. The two gulped down the wine at once. Wei WuXian scrutinized his husband to see how his husband took the wine. He was about to pour another cup for him when his husband fell onto him. He quickly grabbed his husband and put him onto the bed, the wine and cups abandoned onto the table.

“Lan Zhan? Lan Zhan!”

Wei WuXian was inarticulate. How could his husband sleep with just one small cup of wine? More importantly, how could his husband bear to fall asleep alone without doing anything to him at all on their wedding night?

Not knowing what else he could do, he went to the table and continued to drink his wine. He had already explored everything in Jingshi earlier when Lan WangJi had yet to appear in their room, so there was nothing much to look at for now, well, except for Lan WangJi. The beautiful face of his husband, he doubted that he would ever grow bored in looking at his face.

He walked to the bed and observed every inch of the man’s face. Perfect. Absolutely perfect. He closed his eyes, bent down, and landed his lips on his husband’s. When he reopened his eyes and left his husband’s lips, he found his husband staring at him with wide eyes.

“Lan Zhan?”

Lan WangJi pulled Wei WuXian up to the bed as he kissed him roughly. His hand started working its way in undressing Wei WuXian’s wedding robes too.

“A drunken sex, huh? Fine with me,” said Wei WuXian as he kissed Lan WangJi again, at the same time also undressing Lan WangJi, just as what his husband was doing to him.

Chapter Text

It had been a while since their wedding, and Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi had decided that it was time to pay a visit to Lotus Pier. Besides visiting Jiang Cheng, they were also here to visit Jiang YanLi who had been staying at Lotus Pier for a few weeks already. The day of the completion of her pregnancy was approaching soon and after a discussion with Jin ZiXuan and his parents, they had decided it would be best for Jiang YanLi to stay where she felt the most comfortable during her pregnancy time. Jin ZiXuan was also staying at Lotus Pier at the moment to accompany his wife.

Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi halted in front of Lotus Pier, hand in hand as they stepped into Lotus Pier together. Once entering Lotus Pier, disciples of Lotus Pier bowed down and greeted both Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi. They were used to Wei WuXian hanging around Lotus Pier, but it was certainly new to them to see the Second Master Lan coming for a visit and they knew they had to start getting used to it as soon as possible.

Disregarding the stares directed to his husband from the Jiang disciples, Wei WuXian waved excitedly at Jiang Cheng and Jiang YanLi, ignoring the fact that Jin ZiXuan was standing there with them like he was a part of Lotus Pier.

“Shijie, Jiang Cheng,” Wei WuXian called out as he pulled Lan WangJi to walk toward the two.

“YanLi-jie, Jiang WanYin, Young Master Jin,” greeted Lan WangJi.

“Hanguang-jun,” greeted Jin ZiXuan.

“A-Xian, WangJi, you two are finally here. Come, let’s go to the dining hall,” said Jiang YanLi, smiling warmly at the two’s arrival.

Together, the five of them sat down and ate the food presented before them. Jiang Cheng was pouring wine for everyone except for his sister on the table, but when he had reached Lan WangJi’s cup, Wei WuXian placed his hand on top of the cup to prevent Jiang Cheng from giving his husband any wine. After what had happened during the wedding night, he had already promised himself not to let his husband drink any wine when other people were presented.

“Wei WuXian, this is not Cloud Recesses,” reminded Jiang Cheng.

“Lan Zhan does not drink,” stated Wei WuXian.

Jiang Cheng turned to Lan WangJi who neither agree nor disagree with Wei WuXian’s statement. A man who could not even afford to drink one cup of wine, what a failure he was. Wei WuXian loved drinking wine, yet his husband would not even drink one cup with him. Jiang Cheng frowned, that was another reason why he felt Lan WangJi was not a good match for his brother. However, they were already married and he knew his brother loved the man dearly. He took the wine away from the cup and poured it for himself instead.

When they were done with the meal, the three siblings started chattering. The two husbands sat at one side and listened in silence. Just when Jiang YanLi was standing up, she suddenly gave a grimace of pain and her legs seemed to be shaking as she dropped back on her seat. Her face was sweating and she looked so much in pain with one of her hands was in front of her stomach while another was clutching at her own robes.

“Shijie!”

“A-Jie!”

“A-Li!”

All of them grew panicked as they watched Jiang YanLi looking so much in pain yet they had no idea what had gone wrong.

“Shijie, what is wrong?” Wei WuXian questioned, but it was obvious he would not be receiving any answer. With how much pain Jiang YanLi was experiencing at the moment, she would not have the strength to answer her brother.

Then as if remembering something, Jin ZiXuan abruptly exclaimed, “A-Ling is coming out!”

Jiang Cheng and Wei WuXian stared at him, dumbfounded. There was a moment of silence before all of them started panicking again.

“Shijie! What are we supposed to do?!”

“A-Jie, we… we need to do something..!”

Both turned to Jin ZiXuan and questioned in unison, “What are we supposed to do?!”

Jin ZiXuan was pale and he was sweating all over. His hands were trembling as he shook with worries and excitement.

“I… I don’t know… Wait, let me calm down first…” He took in a series of deep breaths before he widened his eyes, seemingly noticing something and exclaimed, “Oh no, I can’t calm down..!”

Wei WuXian and Jiang Cheng ignored him. This man was hopeless after all!

“We have to move A-Jie to the bed first!” exclaimed Jiang Cheng.

Wei WuXian frowned and disagreed, “But Shijie is hurting so much, is it even safe to move her around?”

“Then what about you tell me what are we supposed to do now?!”

Jiang Cheng was exasperated. This could not do… that could not do… What were they supposed to do then? Just stay there and watch how his sister pained to death? That was certainly unacceptable!

Wei WuXian, on the other hand, was worried and annoyed. This was not the right time for Jiang Cheng to be shouting at him. They were supposed to think together of what was best for his Shijie right now, and Jiang Cheng being so short-tempered would do them nothing good at all at the moment.

“Physician! Let’s get the physician first!” said Jin ZiXuan suddenly, but as he turned, Lan WangJi was already behind him with a physician standing by his side.

When the physician reached, all the males were thrown out. They stood outside and felt their heart clenching tightly as they heard Jiang YanLi’s screams of pain from inside. They were all pleading and praying for the safety of the mother and son, and that Jin Ling would be able to come out soon so as to relieve his mother’s pain.

However, it seemed to have been taking such a long time, and they were all starting to get pretty anxious.

Jin ZiXuan was pacing outside of Jiang YanLi's room while he continued praying to God for the safety of both his wife and son. Jiang Cheng soon followed after his brother-in-law’s footsteps. Wei WuXian was at the door, leaning his ear against it as though he was trying to learn of what was happening within the room. Lan WangJi was standing there calmly, wondering if he should tell them that they should calm down but he knew no one would be listening to him so he remained silent.

“What is that? Do you all hear something?” questioned Wei WuXian, gaining everyone’s attention immediately.

Jiang Cheng walked closer to the door and he could hear it clearly. He widened his eyes in exhilaration.

“It’s out. Jin Ling came out!” exclaimed Jiang Cheng.

“I am going to be a father!” exclaimed Jin ZiXuan excitedly.

When the physician came out and handed the baby to Jin ZiXuan, all of them rushed in to check on Jiang YanLi who was still on the bed, sweat was all over her face.

“Shijie, congratulations!”

“A-Jie, congratulations!”

“YanLi-jie, Young Master Jin, congratulations,” said Lan WangJi.

Jin ZiXuan nodded with thanks to Lan WangJi. It appeared that Lan WangJi was the only one bothering to congratulate Jin ZiXuan. Both Wei WuXian and Jiang Cheng seemed to either have forgotten or were simply ignoring the fact that Jin ZiXuan was the father of their sister’s son.

Wei WuXian and Jiang Cheng were both sitting by Jiang YanLi’s side, both wiping the sweat off Jiang YanLi’s face in perfect sync. They noticed Jiang YanLi was looking at Jin ZiXuan, eyes fixed on the baby in the man’s strong pair of arms. Both Wei WuXian and Jiang Cheng left a space for Jin ZiXuan to approach the bed.

“Look, A-Li. Our child,” said Jin ZiXuan as he held out Jin Ling to let his wife take a closer look.

Jiang YanLi was staring at the baby in her husband’s arms like he was the most amazing thing that she had ever seen in this world. Her expression was filled with fondness and gentleness. Upon seeing Jiang YanLi looking so much in bliss, Wei WuXian and Jiang Cheng turned and saw the look on each other’s faces. They smiled, knowing that they were thinking of the same thing. Even if they felt Jin ZiXuan was not the best match for Jiang YanLi, but Jiang YanLi was happy to be his wife and that alone was enough. All they wanted was for Jiang YanLi to be happy. Nothing else mattered.

They thought they would just stand there for a long time, enjoying the warm family moment until the physician suddenly stepped forward, clearing her throat and gaining everyone’s attention.

“Maiden Jiang needs to rest. Everyone else should leave,” stated the physician sternly.

“That’s right, A-Jie needs to rest. We need to get out,” said Jiang Cheng as he stood up from the bed.

Wei WuXian was reluctant, but he still stood up, “Shijie, you rest more. I will go out first.”

Jiang YanLi nodded and turned to her husband.

“A-Li, I will come back later,” said Jin ZiXuan.

Jiang YanLi nodded smiling as she watched everyone left her room and Lan WangJi closed the door behind them. When Lan WangJi turned after closing the door, he saw Wei WuXian and Jiang Cheng were standing in front of Jin ZiXuan, hands stretched forward to get a chance to touch their nephew.

“Let me hold him!” exclaimed Wei WuXian.

“I first! He is my nephew!” complained Jiang Cheng.

“Shijie said he is my nephew too. Besides, I am the one who gave him a courtesy name!” argued Wei WuXian.

“Hey! Be gentler with my son!” exclaimed Jin ZiXuan.

In the end, Jin ZiXuan allowed Wei WuXian and Jiang Cheng to hold Jin Ling together, but he made sure to stay absolutely close to them just in case they might drop his son. Fortunately, the rest of the afternoon was spent with the three men treasuring and holding Jin Ling while they bickered at each other and sang praises to Jin Ling and when night had arrived, Jin Ling was still in good condition with neither of the men accidentally hurting the fragile baby.

 


 

The night in Lotus Pier was filled with tranquility, or so it had seemed to be the case for Jiang Cheng. After a hectic day, the man found himself holding a jar of wine and enjoying the taste of the alcohol as he stared at the moon. He felt so peaceful. His sister had a son now. Wei WuXian was no longer living in Burial Mounds which was hardly considered as a place to be lived at from the beginning and had married himself to the Gusu Lan Sect. He could see that Lan WangJi treated him well, and he believed and hoped that the stoic, quiet man would continue to do so in the future.

Amidst his self-satisfying thoughts, he sensed someone advancing to him. With how quiet the man was, he did not even need to turn to guess the identity of the man. There was only one man in Lotus Pier at the moment who would be so quiet.

Jiang Cheng turned to the man in his Gusu Lan sect’s robes, “Lan WangJi, you are alone? Where is Wei WuXian?”

“Arguing with Young Master Jin,” came the short yet direct answer from Lan WangJi.

Jiang Cheng laughed. That was absolutely typical of the two.

“Oh… It happens all the time. Do not worry about it.”

“Mm.”

Jiang Cheng glanced at Lan WangJi, knowing that the man was not here merely on coincidence. He came here for a reason, and it seemed that there was something the man wished to talk to him about.

“Do you have something else to say?” Jiang Cheng questioned. Whatever it was, it would be better to make it quick. He had no intention to beat around the bushes with Lan WangJi, and he was sure Lan WangJi thought the same too.

“Yes,” answered Lan WangJi.

Jiang Cheng turned to him now with curiosity.

“If it is not too inconvenient for you, do you think you can… can you teach me how to drink wine without getting drunk?”

Jiang Cheng stared at him, dumbfounded. He wondered what made Lan WangJi, who loved his sect’s rules just as much as Lan QiRen did, would suddenly want to break the rules and learn to drink wine. He contemplated on the matter for a moment and he was suddenly reminded of when he had offered him a cup of wine earlier, Wei WuXian had been so persistent that Lan WangJi would not be drinking. Now he understood. His brother must have seen how easily Lan WangJi would be drunk and that was the reason that he did not want to let the man drink in front of so many people.  He laughed out loud, ignoring the fact that Lan WangJi was frowning at him. However, to think that this man before him would actually learn to drink for Wei WuXian’s sake, it made him felt pleased.

“Fine with me,” said Jiang Cheng once he had stopped laughing.

Lan WangJi was a little surprised that Jiang Cheng would agree to it so soon. He half-expected that he would be turned down. After all, Jiang Cheng had never once hidden the fact that he felt Lan WangJi was not the best match for Wei WuXian. Naturally, Lan WangJi would think that Jiang Cheng would reject each of his requests, even if there was only one.

“Thank you, but can you keep this a secret from Wei Ying for the time being?”

Again, Jiang Cheng was staring at him in surprise. Perhaps this man was really not that bad. He felt like he could actually start getting along with him.

“I have never imagined that you have such a side too. Planning for a surprise for Wei WuXian? Fine with me.”

Lan WangJi nodded in gratitude, “When?”

“A few days later, I will be going to Gusu to discuss something with Sect Leader Lan. I will bring some suitable wine for you and we should train you to be the best drinker then.”

“Wei Ying?” questioned Lan WangJi.

Jiang Cheng turned to him and said, “I will make him stay here to take care of A-Jie for a few days.”

“Thank you,” said Lan WangJi.

The two stood there together staring at the sky in silence. For once, the two were able to stand together and appreciated each other’s presence. Lan WangJi mentally reminded himself to think of a way to thank the man beside him when he had finally learned to drink without getting drunk. Jiang Cheng was more than happy that the man beside him would do so much for his brother, and for the first time, he was glad to have Lan WangJi as his brother-in-law.

 

Chapter Text

With one hand holding a jar of wine which he had brought all the way from Yunmeng, Jiang Cheng walked toward Jingshi after Lan XiChen had told him the direction to which it was located. He knocked on the door and waited for a short while before the door had been slid opened. Lan WangJi greeted him solemnly before inviting him in. He stepped in and when he was about to take a seat, he saw a jar of wine on the table.

“This wine…?” questioned Jiang Cheng.

“According to Young Master Jin GuangYao, this is a fine wine from Lanling. He had heard from my brother that I will be practicing drinking wine, so he brought this wine and offered me. He said it is good for a starter because it is not too strong.”

Jiang Cheng took off the lid and smelled it. Although it smelled a little strange, seemingly different from all the wines that he was used to and he had never seen this wine before, most probably a very cheap wine, but it definitely did not smell strong at all. In that case, it was definitely good for a starter, especially for someone like Lan WangJi where Jiang Cheng still had no idea how fast he would get drunk.

“Should we start now?” questioned Jiang Cheng as he turned to Lan WangJi who was eyeing the wine before turning to face him, his determination was written all over his face.

Lan WangJi nodded while Jiang Cheng poured each of them a cup of wine.

“Remember what I told you of the rules of drinking wines?” questioned Jiang Cheng. Lan WangJi nodded before he took the cup and drank it slowly.

The cup had barely left his hand and he was already starting to feel dizzy. His eyesight was turning blurrier. He could hardly see what was in front of him and Jingshi looked as though it was rotating around him. He heard someone’s voice beside him but he could hardly identify what was being said or who that voice even belonged to.

Probably Wei Ying, he thought.

After all, this was his and Wei Ying’s room. It only made sense that it was Wei Ying’s voice that he was hearing.

“How is it?” asked Jiang Cheng, scrutinizing Lan WangJi to check if he was fine. The man definitely did not look fine at all as he rested his head in his palm, his expression turned into a painful one as though he was already experiencing a hangover. However, that should not be possible. They had just started and Lan WangJi only had one cup, nothing more. No one in this world could possibly be drunk with just one cup, at least Jiang Cheng had never seen one up until now. In the next second, Lan WangJi dropped his head onto the table. Jiang Cheng stared at the man, stupefied.

“One cup?!”

That was ridiculous. How could a man drop down when he had just had a cup of wine, and the wine was not that strong in the first place. Ignoring the man beside him, he drank the wine too and then poured himself one cup after another. Strange, he thought. He was starting to feel a little dizzy, the wine must be stronger than he had expected. It would usually take him a dozen more jars to get drunk.

“It felt so hot…”

He felt heat rushing up to his face, and it made him a little hard to breathe. The urge for him to start undressing was increasing the longer he sat there, hoping that by undressing he could at least feel a little cooler. As his hand reached up to his robes, he felt a hand stopped him as the man beside him clasped his wrist.

“Wei Ying…”

He heard someone talking, yet he could not really hear out what had been said. He felt his eyes were getting a little blurry. He could hardly see who was the man holding his wrist, but he felt the hand holding him was just as warm as his. The man beside him was also grunting in displease, feeling just as uncomfortable as him with the warmth they were both experiencing. The urge for the two men to start undressing was increasing rapidly, and they did.

 


 

“Jiang WanYin!”

Jiang Cheng sat up immediately when he heard someone yelling at him. He looked up to see Lan WangJi there, sitting beside him, undressed and covering himself with the blanket. That was strange. He remembered they were supposed to be practicing drinking wine, but why would they suddenly be on the bed -

Wait… undressed? He looked at himself who was just as naked as Lan WangJi. He stared at the man before him then at himself before he turned and saw both of their robes on the ground.

“Oh no..! We did not…”

Jiang Cheng did not know what had happened. How he came to be involved in such a situation was something he could not explain at all. The two quickly climbed down onto the ground to get their scattered pieces of clothes and wore it on themselves with trembling fingers.

Both their brains were in a mess. They tried their best to recall what had happened the day before, but all they remembered was that they were both there to practice drinking without getting drunk, and as they tasted the wine, they were suddenly feeling hot and dizzy…

…and the next thing they knew was that they were awake on the bed, together.

Naked.

Jiang Cheng could not bear to think anything more as he banged his fist on the ground. He felt fear rising within him and his fingers had been trembling terrifyingly without stopping ever since he had realized what he had just done. He could not imagine what would happen if Wei WuXian learned of this. Wei WuXian was a brother, a family member to him. The only family members left for him were his sister and Wei WuXian, and he could not afford to lose any of them – definitely not because of this ridiculous mistake that he was not even sure how he had committed.

The two men in Jingshi did not need to look at each other to know what the other was thinking. One could not afford to lose a brother while the other could not afford to lose a husband.

They could never let Wei WuXian learn of what happened today!

There was no other choice but to pretend that nothing had happened. They would also start to make sure that they would always distance themselves from each other, preferably that they would not even stay in the same room if it was avoidable. Feeling absolutely determined, Jiang Cheng swiftly finished dressing and prepared to leave Cloud Recesses before anyone spotted him spending a night here alone with Lan WangJi.

 


 

Finally, Wei WuXian thought, he had reached Cloud Recesses. The thought of being able to meet up with his husband soon made him so excited and he ran, disregarding the rule of one should not be running within Cloud Recesses. He was not supposed to be here, but he missed his husband too much. He was still supposed to be at Lotus Pier, accompanying his Shijie and making jokes to her to make her smile, but Jiang YanLi being the one who understood him the most in this world knew he was missing his husband too much.

“A-Xian, are you missing WangJi already?”

Wei WuXian blushed at his Shijie bluntness. Was he that obvious?

“You should go back to him. Don’t worry, A-Xuan is here with me,” said Jiang YanLi. He turned to Jin ZiXuan who was sitting beside his wife, and as Jiang YanLi also turned to her husband, Jin ZiXuan said, “Yes, I will be with A-Li.”

Wei WuXian was reluctant to leave. While it was true that he was missing Lan WangJi, but he would also miss Jiang YanLi if he left. Besides, Jiang YanLi had just given birth to Jin Ling and she was very weak at the moment. She needed more people by her side to take care of her, and her husband, Jin ZiXuan, was not really someone could depend on in Wei WuXian’s opinion.

Jiang YanLi chuckled, knowing exactly what her dear brother was contemplating about. She gestured for her husband to help her stand. When she was finally standing stably, Wei WuXian looked so worried and dashed to her.

“Shijie, careful!”

Jiang YanLi smiled, “A-Xian, I am fine. I am not that weak.”

Wei WuXian opened his mouth to protest. Of course, his Shijie was not weak. His Shijie was a strong woman and she was the most amazing woman he had ever met.

“A-Xian, go find WangJi. I am sure he misses you too,” said Jiang YanLi.

After a long moment of contemplating and going through a series of reluctance and hesitation, Wei WuXian thanked Jiang YanLi and promised that he would be visiting her son and her again soon. He then immediately left Lotus Pier and headed to Cloud Recesses. Wei WuXian smiled as he thought of seeing his husband’s handsome face again, and how his husband would be so surprised to see him again so soon. When he finally saw Jingshi, he was still standing afar but he saw the door was opened. Lan WangJi must be awake now. He was about to shout to him, completely disregarding one of the most important rules of the Lan sect.

Do not shout within Cloud Recesses.

However, before he managed to shout it out to his husband, he spotted a figure in black that came out with Lan WangJi. The man standing beside his husband wore a black hooded cloak with his back facing Wei WuXian's view of sight. Although the man was already dressed so mysteriously and it was obvious that no one would be able to see his face, but the man continued to pull his cloak downward as if he was terrified that someone would be able to identify him. The two were looking around as though they were searching for something, and Wei WuXian had no idea why but he chose a place to hide his presence. In all honesty, he had no reason to hide because Cloud Recesses was his home now, but the two of them were looking as though they did not want to be seen so Wei WuXian chose a place to hide out of reflex.

He was bemused as to why a man would be here so early in the morning and was acting so secretive with his husband. He tried to think of a few reasons for what had created such a scene in front of his room and when he looked up again, the man in black was gone. The door of Jingshi had also been slid closed and his husband was nowhere to be seen.

Shaking his head and throwing his doubts away, Wei WuXian walked into Jingshi and found his husband sitting on the ground, just beside the bed that they had shared every night. As expected, Lan WangJi was surprised to see him. His husband had widened his eyes at the sight of him, and in Wei WuXian’s opinion, his husband seemed a little too surprised. While it was true that he had told him that he would stay longer at Lotus Pier to accompany his Shijie, but it should not be that surprising to the extent that Lan WangJi almost looked stunned at the sight of his own husband coming back earlier than expected.

Lan WangJi must have missed him too much, he decided.

“Lan Zhan, are you lonely without me?”

There was a short silence before Lan WangJi voiced out, “…Mm.”

“Do you have any guests visiting you here while I am not here?”

Lan WangJi looked at him like he had just asked him a ridiculous question. He was about to ask him if there was something wrong with his question when Lan WangJi provided him an answer to his question.

“No.”

Wei WuXian was stunned. The question ‘who’ was about to escape his lips but ended up being stuck in his throat when he noticed that Lan WangJi had answered him no instead of yes. His husband never lied, and it was clear as a bell that his husband had just lied to him.

“Wei Ying?”

He turned to his husband as he heard him calling.

“Are you all right?” questioned Lan WangJi worriedly.

“I… I am a little tired… I want to rest for a bit,” Wei WuXian said as he approached the bed. Lan WangJi widened his eyes in fear. He could not let his husband get near the bed. The bed was proof of his betrayal toward his husband. He felt disgusted at himself upon thinking that.

“Wait!”

Wei WuXian turned to him, astonished with his husband suddenly raising his voice at him, be it intentional or not.

“The bed is a little dirty. Wait a moment, I will have someone to change it first,” said Lan WangJi as he walked out immediately.

Once he had slid the door closed, he walked away swiftly and when he was sure no one was around, he allowed himself to drop onto the ground, tears trickling down uncontrollably. His hands and legs were trembling, and a voice in his head was shouting to him, reminding him every second that he had betrayed his husband. He had ruined the happy marriage that he had thought belonged to him and there was really no one to blame besides himself.

The thought of how Wei Ying would react if he knew what had happened and who he had cheated him with made him broke down, his tears unstoppable. His heart was clenching in pain, regretting every second for what he did not remember had happened the night before. He wanted to turn back time. He wished nothing of those things had happened, and then he would be embracing his husband happily at Jingshi.

Meanwhile, unbeknown to Lan WangJi’s suffering, Wei WuXian was staring at the door, still too surprised with whatever that had taken place a moment ago. He did not know how he should be reacting or what should he even be feeling at the moment. His husband – the honorable Hanguang-jun who loved his sect’s rules so much to the extent that he would punish anyone he saw who broke them and had probably never ever formed a lie before throughout his entire life – such a man had just lied to him.

He could not help but think of who the mysterious man was. The man was coming out of Jingshi, dressed in black and both the man and his husband were looking around as though they should not be seen by anyone else. Lan WangJi’s robe seemed a little disheveled too if his memory served him right. It almost seemed as though the two had just gotten themselves dressed when he saw them. More importantly, something about how the man walked reminded him of someone, but he could not recall who at the moment.

Wei WuXian felt his heart pounding as he felt himself falling into a fit of anxiety. He turned to the bed and he was reminded of how his husband had suddenly raised his voice, making it seemed as though he could not allow his husband to touch the bed. He had said that the bed was dirty but it was still early in the morning, so how could the bed be dirty if Lan WangJi seemed as though he had just woken up?

He shook his head, deciding to throw away all these ridiculous thoughts for good. His husband would not betray him that way, and to imagine more of such nonsense would be disrespecting his husband. Perhaps that man was a Lan disciple, dressing up like that for a secret mission? Well… that certainly made more sense. He felt relieved thinking that now.

As he was about to take a seat on the ground while waiting for his husband to return, his eyes fell upon the two jars of wines on the table with two cups beside them. Someone had definitely spent his time here in Jingshi, and it looked like the man and his husband – they had been drinking wine together!

 


 

Jiang Cheng had no idea how, but he had somehow managed to return to Lotus Pier. His brain was in turmoil from the moment he left Cloud Recesses, and it was really a miracle that he could travel back home without dropping down from Sandu in his current state. Years of cultivating and hard training under his stern mother had probably taught him how to control Sandu by reflex, even if he had to do it without a clear mind.

He walked into Lotus Pier absentmindedly, ignoring every Jiang disciples who greeted him and giving him a strange look as they saw how unresponsive he was while he got into his room and dropped down behind the door.

Everything was happening in a blink of an eye, and he had no time to think about it at all. It all felt like a dream – a nightmare, but he knew perfectly well that this was reality. It was a cruel reality and he was completely aware that he had done something so wrong that it would bring the end of his relationship with his brother if the man were to find out of what had happened today.

He looked up and scrutinized his surroundings.

Lotus Pier.

This was his home, the place that he had shared many beautiful memories with his brother. They had laughed and cried together here, but regardless of what happened, they knew they would always have each other to count on. He could not imagine what would happen if Wei WuXian were to find out how he had betrayed him.

Would he hate him?

Would he feel disgusted at him?

He felt there were thousands of swords stabbed into his heart as he thought of those terrifying possibilities, and it had hurt so much. He did not want to be hated by his brother. He did not want his brother to leave him. He felt tears welling up in his eyes, his lips trembling as he banged his fists onto the ground.

He had hoped that Lan WangJi would be able to provide a beautiful marriage for his brother, but he would have never expected that the one who destroyed his brother’s happiness was none other than himself. The image of Lan WangJi and him on the bed, naked came to him again. Hot tears were trickling down his cheeks by now.

He felt hopeless and terrified.

He covered his ears with his hands as if he had heard someone telling him and reminded him of what he had done and he was doing his best to shield himself from that voice. He screamed and wept loudly in his own room. He needed someone to embrace him and tell him that everything would be fine, but he clearly knew nothing would be fine. He wanted someone to embrace him and tell him that he was not at fault, but he was very certain that he was very much at fault this time, and there really was no one else that he could put the blame on besides himself.

Chapter Text

Wei WuXian had no idea how long had it been since he noticed his husband lied to him that no one had visited him when he was not around while he clearly saw the two cups and jars of wines on the table. Ever since that day, the pair had been trying their best to live on like usual, acting as though nothing had happened in front of each other. They still walked around Cloud Recesses together, ate together, and they were always seen together no matter what they did. The only difference was that they no longer do anything intimate, not even embracing each other once in a while or held each other’s hands like they were used to.

He peeked at Lan WangJi who was currently reading a book. As he watched him from the bed he was sitting on, the image of Lan WangJi seemingly lying to him came back to his mind. He wondered who the man was. Why did it seem like Lan WangJi was trying to hide the identity of the man?

He had so many questions, but he did not dare to ask. He was not sure which he was afraid of more. Was it possible that he was afraid to hear the truth which might possibly be something that he could not accept, or was he afraid to hear Lan WangJi lying to him once again?

“Lan Zhan,” Wei WuXian called out to him, “I am bored. Let’s play a duet, shall we?”

Lan WangJi nodded and closed the book he was holding before he took out his guqin. Together, they started playing their music – WangXian.

Music had always been able to capture the player’s feelings. Usually, when Lan WangJi played his guqin, it was filled with a sense of serenity which was a perfect match to the tranquility of Cloud Recesses. When he played WangXian, it was filled with love and bliss. However, as Wei WuXian listened to the tone of his music carefully, all he could feel from him now was unease. It made it even clearer that he was definitely hiding something from Wei WuXian.

When the duet came to an end, Wei WuXian walked forward and sat beside Lan WangJi. This should not go on for long. He did not want to continue to get suspicious of Lan WangJi because it was extremely exhausting. He reached forward and threw his arms around Lan WangJi.

“…Wei Ying?”

Lan WangJi was certainly taken aback by his husband’s sudden movement. Just how long had it been since they had been so close?

Lan WangJi raised his arms to embrace his husband tightly, but just when his hands were about to touch his husband, the memories of waking up on the bed with Jiang Cheng beside him, the both of them undressed came back to haunt him. He curled his fingers into fists and dropped his hands down. He felt he had no right to touch his husband.

“Lan Zhan, I told you before that I don’t want to hide anything from you, remember? I hope we can both be honest with each other no matter what happens,” said Wei WuXian.

Wei WuXian waited for Lan WangJi to say something in return, but for a moment only silence filled the air. He was about to give up on whatever he wanted to ask him about when he suddenly felt Lan WangJi pushed him away slightly so that they were now facing each other.

“Wei Ying, I… I have something to tell you.”

Finally, thought Wei WuXian happily. He was finally able to know the truth now, and he was both excited and anxious. His heart was pounding so fast that it made it hard for him to breathe for a second there. He tried to compose himself to listen out to his husband’s confession.

“What is it?” asked Wei WuXian.

“I… I…”

As Lan WangJi focused on the pair of eyes staring at him, he was suddenly unable to say anything. What would he do if Wei Ying left him at the moment that he told him he had cheated on him? That was all an accident and he was not prepared at all for the consequences because he did not even know or recall how he had even cheated on him in the first place.

It was all the fault of wines.

However, he doubted Wei Ying would believe him because even he could hardly convince himself that he was not at fault at all.

“Jin RuLan’s full-month celebration is coming soon. You mentioned you were busy preparing a present, do you need help on that?”

Wei WuXian blinked his eyes. That was not what he wanted to hear at all.

“Oh… that? I think I can finish it on my own, but I feel like doing it in Yunmeng. I think I will go back to Lotus Pier for a few days.”

Lan WangJi turned away from him and picked his book up again before he nodded to his husband, “Okay.”

Wei WuXian was disappointed. He was half-expecting for his husband to either ask him not to leave or that he was willing to go with him, but none of that happened. He stood up and left Jingshi, deciding that he would not waste another second here and he would be heading to Yunmeng immediately. He believed both of them needed nothing more than some time alone at the moment.

When he had reached Lotus Pier, Jiang Cheng was there, staring at him in surprise.

“Wei WuXian, why are you here?”

“Jiang Cheng, I am going to stay here for a few days,” declared Wei WuXian. He walked into Lotus Pier freely as if he owned the place and Jiang Cheng was looking around, but to his surprise, his brother was here alone. He was expecting to see Lan WangJi, but the man was clearly not here. They were always together, and it was strange that Lan WangJi would actually allow Wei WuXian to come back alone when Wei WuXian had just gone back from Lotus Pier to Cloud Recesses not too long ago after the night where Jiang Cheng and Lan WangJi –

Jiang Cheng widened his eyes in horror.

It suddenly appeared to him that Wei WuXian seemed to be in a bad mood. He felt panic overtaking him, too afraid that his brother might have learned of what had happened that day.

Did Lan WangJi tell him what happened?

No, wait. He tried to remain calm and when he contemplated again, he doubted his brother would still be here if he knew what had happened. Wei WuXian would probably refuse to see him again if he had learned that the one sleeping with his husband while he was gone was none other than Jiang Cheng.

Anyhow, he had to know why his brother was suddenly here, alone. He had to make sure his brother had known nothing of what had happened between Lan WangJi and him. He chased up to his brother who was already walking way ahead of him.

“Wei WuXian, where is Lan WangJi? Isn’t he here with you?”

Hearing that question, Wei WuXian suddenly looked away from his brother. Panic suddenly rising within Jiang Cheng once again. Jiang Cheng inhaled deeply before he braced himself to ask his brother the dreadful question.

“Did you two… have a fight?”

He waited anxiously for an answer from his brother until Wei WuXian muttered, “No.”

Jiang Cheng was slightly relieved and started breathing again. He had not even realized that he was holding his breath until now. However, he felt like Wei WuXian had more to say to him so he sat by his side quietly and waited for him to speak again.

“I feel like he has been trying to hide something from me ever since I returned to Cloud Recesses.”

Jiang Cheng widened his eyes. He felt his hands sweating.

“Did you ask him about it?” questioned Jiang Cheng.

Wei WuXian shook his head, “I tried to hint him to tell me anything he is hiding, but he refuses to say anything.”

Jiang Cheng released a soft sigh of relief. For a moment, before Wei WuXian told him Lan WangJi had not said anything, he did not even dare to breathe as he was afraid that he had been exposed and that Wei WuXian was here to tell him that they were no longer brothers.

“No matter what he is hiding, I believe he is doing everything that he thinks is good for you,” said Jiang Cheng and after a moment of hesitation, he added softly, “Me too.”

Wei WuXian heaved a sigh of frustration. He had been thinking so much about the mysterious man that he had seen with his husband and contemplated the reason to which his husband seemed to be hiding the existence of the mysterious man from him but there was no answer to those questions at all. He was frustrated, exhausted and anxious about what was to come in the future. He did not want the relationship between his husband and him to continue being so awkward, yet there was really nothing he could do about it.

“Jiang Cheng, do you have wine? I want to drink up and forget all about this!” whined Wei WuXian.

Jiang Cheng stood up immediately and requested for someone to bring the wines in. When the wines arrived, Wei WuXian started to drink up.

“Are you not going to accompany me to drink?” questioned Wei WuXian as he turned to his brother who had been sitting by his side silently all these whiles, his hands on his laps and seemingly not going to move for a long while.

Jiang Cheng looked at the wine and the memories of his regret came back to haunt him. Wei WuXian turned to his brother who was being so silent at his question while the man stared at the wine in fury, making it seemed like the wine had murdered his whole family. Wei WuXian waved his hand in front of his brother’s eyes, trying to get his brother out of whatever that had forced him into such a state.

“Hey, Jiang Cheng. Are you all right?”

Jiang Cheng turned to his brother when he finally realized that he had been staring weirdly at the wines, “I am fine. I made a promise to myself not to drink wine anymore.”

Wei WuXian tilted his head, puzzled, “What? Did something happen?”

Jiang Cheng shook his head. There was no way he could tell his brother what was the reason that made him promised himself to not drink wines anymore. He would rather die than to tell him the actual reason. He knew that was selfish of him. His brother deserved to know the truth – he had the right to know how his husband and brother had betrayed him, but Jiang Cheng would rather admit that he was a selfish man than risk losing his brother. He would do anything to keep his brother by his side.

“If you are not going to drink, then I will drink it all,” stated Wei WuXian.

Jiang Cheng silently watched his brother poured jar after jar of wine passed his lips until he was starting to get drunk, and Jiang Cheng decided he could not watch anymore. He took the jar of wine away from his brother, stopping him from drinking another jar.

“Wei WuXian.”

Wei WuXian turned to the man beside him, eyes half-closed, “What?”

“If one day… I mean if… If one day you find out that I have done something wrong, will you forgive me?”

Wei WuXian laughed, “What types of wrong can you even do? You are not me after all.”

“I might do anything outrageous. Will you forgive me?”

“Of course!” exclaimed Wei WuXian just a second before he dropped his head on the table, suddenly feeling extremely dizzy.

“You have to forgive me. Please forgive me, my brother,” whispered Jiang Cheng brokenly.

Jiang Cheng took a deep breath before standing up and carried his brother back to his room, placing his brother gently onto the bed. Wei WuXian was fast asleep by then. He watched his brother sleeping for a moment, and soon a drop of tear left him. It was selfish of him, but he sincerely hoped Lan WangJi would never tell Wei WuXian the truth for the rest of his life.

“I am sorry,” he mumbled brokenly.

More tears were escaping his eyes as he watched his brother drunk on the bed. His brother had just been married not too long ago and he should be living happily with his husband at the Cloud Recesses instead of being here, forcing jar after jar of wine into himself and ended up being drunk on his own bed. They were supposed to be a wonderful pair, and Jiang Cheng… he felt like his heart had been stabbed by something sharp, breaking it into pieces. He was the one who had destroyed his brother’s happiness.

“I am sorry,” he had said it again and again brokenly, but he knew it was not enough. No words of apologies would be enough to express the sorrow within him, and he could almost be sure that if Wei WuXian knew what had happened, there would be nothing he could do to gain his forgiveness.

He hid his eyes under his palm and started to sob like a broken child.

 


 

When Wei WuXian woke up to find himself on his own bed at Lotus Pier, he felt a crushing pain in his head and that was when he remembered he had drunk too many jars of wines the day before. He wanted to get off his bed to perhaps get something that could help him ease his headache, but the pain in his head made him wanted to stop moving at once and he wished he could just stay on his bed until the pain was gone.

When he was still trying to decide if he should just stay on the bed or to move out of it, he heard the door to his room being pushed open, revealing Jiang Cheng walking in with a bowl of soup in his hand.

“You are awake,” said Jiang Cheng. His voice sounded surprisingly gentle, and Wei WuXian was not sure if he was mistaken, but he thought his brother’s voice sounded somewhat hoarse.

“Drink this,” said Jiang Cheng as he handed the bowl to Wei WuXian.

Wei WuXian took the bowl in his hand, fully prepared to wince at the heat of the bowl of soup, but surprisingly it was not that hot to the extent that he would have difficulty in holding it. He started drinking it, and the temperature of the soup was just warm enough for him.

He smiled, “As expected, Jiang Cheng is the kindest to me.”

“Quickly finish it,” said Jiang Cheng.

Wei WuXian finished the soup silently before he handed the bowl back to Jiang Cheng.

“Oh, right,” said Jiang Cheng, “I will go to Lanling earlier to see if A-Jie needs anything with the preparation of Jin Ling’s full-month celebration. Are you coming along?”

“Of course,” answered Wei WuXian, smiling brightly at the thought of seeing Jiang YanLi and little Jin Ling again.

Jiang Cheng nodded before he left the room. Wei WuXian felt much better after drinking the soup and he immediately jumped off his bed. He had to finish up the present he was preparing to give to Jin Ling before they started traveling to Lanling.

 

Chapter Text

With the arrival of Jin RuLan’s full-month celebration, Lanling was crowded with guests today who came all the way here to attend the banquet. Jin GuangShan and his wife had been busy with accepting gifts and communicating with each of the guests while the Jin disciples, Jin GuangYao especially made sure all of their guests were treated with care, and all of their needs had been achieved.

Wei WuXian was standing outside of the hall, waiting for the arrival of his husband and his brother-in-law. It had been so many days since he had seen his husband, and although he still had mixed feelings as he thought of his husband hiding something from him, there was really no denying that he missed his husband so much that everything could be thrown away first at the moment. When he spotted the two, he ran forward to them excitedly.

“Lan Zhan, XiChen-ge.”

Wei WuXian pulled the Lan brothers with him and brought them to meet up with Jiang YanLi.

“Shijie!” Wei WuXian waved to her happily while both Lan XiChen and Lan WangJi stepped forward to congratulate both Jin ZiXuan and Jiang YanLi on their son’s full month. No one else, except for Lan WangJi, noticed that Jiang Cheng had stepped a few steps back with the arrival of the twin jades of Lan, or just Lan WangJi to be specific.

“Oh, right. Here, Shijie. This is my gift to Jin Ling,” said Wei WuXian as he handed her a gift that he had made it himself for his beloved nephew.

“Thank you, I am sure A-Ling will love it,” said Jiang YanLi as he smiled at her brother.

They chatted for a while before the banquet began. Jin GuangShan started off by thanking everyone for their arrival and gifts on behalf of his newly born grandson. He toasted his wine to everyone as everyone raised up the cup of wine in their hands and drank them, except for those of Gusu Lan disciples who replaced wines with teas.

When everyone presented there thought he was done with his speech and that they were free to do whatever they wanted in the banquet, Jin GuangShan voiced out that one of his Lanling Jin disciples, namely Jin ZiXun had something to voice out on this important occasion. Everyone turned their attention to Jin ZiXun who stood up from his seat and walked to the middle of the hall.

“First of all, I apologize to my cousin brother and cousin sister-in-law for doing this on such a happy occasion, but I have no other choice. I want everyone here to help me claim the justice that I should have been able to get,” said Jin ZiXun as he ripped his robe open, revealing his upper body naked.

Jin ZiXuan was about to curse at him when his wife hid her face in his chest, but what he saw on his cousin brother’s body surprised him. Not only him, but the others presented there were shocked to see that too.

It was the curse of one hundred holes.

“This… this is ruthless. Who did that?” Someone from the crowd voiced out, but as it was so noisy with everyone started whispering with one another, no one knew who that voice belonged to.

“The person who did this to me is none other than the man standing over there, the Yiling Patriarch Wei WuXian!”

Everyone turned their attention to Wei WuXian, staring at the demonic cultivator in disdain. Someone even muttered that it was expected of what a demonic cultivator would do. Although surprised, Wei WuXian managed to laugh at how Jin ZiXun tried to slander him.

“You are so imaginative. What even makes you think that I will do that to you? First of all, do I even know you?”

“You..!”

Jin ZiXun was enraged. He thought of himself as one who gained everyone’s attention easily. There should not be any cultivators who did not know of his existence. How dared this demonic cultivator even asked such a question when they had been at odds for so many different times already.

Jin ZiXuan cleared his throat and walked toward Wei WuXian to inform him that this man was his cousin, and he was the one who had argued with him back at Phoenix Mountain.

“Oh…”

Wei WuXian finally remembered.

“You think I want to take revenge on someone like you?” questioned Wei WuXian.

Again, his statement sent Jin ZiXun into a fit of fury. He gritted his teeth and exclaimed, “Whether what I say is true or not, it will be clear as long as you prove it to everyone by undressing yourself.”

Everyone turned to Jin ZiXun in surprise. Those who were close to Wei WuXian and understood that he would not be doing such a thing were throwing daggers at him while the others although felt that it was certainly something a demonic cultivator would do, they still dared not comment too much and they could only stare at Jin ZiXun, admiring his guts. While it was true that it would prove whether Wei WuXian was the caster of the curse by undressing himself, but that was a shameful action. They could still ask him to do it when he was only the Yiling Patriarch back at Burial Mounds, but now that he was married to Lan WangJi, he belonged to the Gusu Lan Sect. Trying to shame him by asking him to undress in front of everyone here was no different than shaming the Gusu Lan Sect.

“Absurd!” exclaimed Jiang Cheng. He was about to speak more of how ridiculous Jin ZiXun was when he heard someone else voiced out, stunning the crowd into staring at him, portraying the exact image of how a good husband should protect his husband.

“No need,” said Lan WangJi.

“Hanguang-jun!”

“I am proof. His body, no one else sees it more than I do.”

It was not only Jiang Cheng, everyone else was staring at Lan WangJi, too startled to witness how boldly Lan WangJi spoke. Jiang YanLi, although feeling her cheeks reddening imagining her brother-in-law staring at her brother’s body every day, she still nodded in satisfaction and approval at her brother-in-law. Her A-Xian had chosen the correct husband.

Wei WuXian was inarticulate. He felt his cheeks burning in a slight embarrassment and he was also overjoyed to know that his husband would speak for him without doubting him at all. However, why did it feel like he had passed on some of his shamelessness to Lan WangJi too? He turned to Lan XiChen who appeared to be slightly surprised with what he had heard as well. After all, it was not often that you could hear Lan WangJi saying such bold words. He should be glad that Lan QiRen was not here, or he might not be expecting to get out of Lanling alive. Lan QiRen would kill him right here for putting his nephew into such a shameful state.

“WangJi…” Lan XiChen sighed. He was glad his uncle was not here to witness such words escape his dear nephew’s lips. If he had heard it, he would probably say Wei WuXian was a bad influence again.

Helping everyone to get out of their frozen state, Nie MingJue walked out to the middle of the crowd and cleared his throat, gaining everyone’s attention at once.

“Please allow me to offer my opinion here on this matter. As everyone knows, Wei WuXian had once stayed at Unclean Realm and helped me out with my sect’s affairs when my right-hand man was injured back then. I believe I have the right to assure everyone that Wei WuXian would not be a caster to such curse.”

“Sect Leader Nie is actually speaking on behalf of the Yiling Patriarch,” someone whispered out, but he immediately shut his lips when he felt Nie MingJue’s glare toward him.

“I hope everyone remembers that even though he is married into the Gusu Lan Sect, but it still does not change the fact of how strong he is. If he really wants to kill this Young Master over here, why would he need to go through the trouble of destroying his own body? With his ability, I am sure he can kill someone like you off with just a flip of his finger without having anyone find out that you are actually dead.”

Everyone nodded in agreement at Nie MingJue’s analysis. He sounded so full of points compared to Jin ZiXun who obviously had no evidence that Wei WuXian was the caster of the curse from the beginning until the end of his accusation.

Jiang Cheng and Lan WangJi were still glaring at Jin ZiXun, furious that this man even tried to accuse of Wei WuXian of doing something so immoral. Jiang YanLi had moved to stand beside Wei WuXian and comforted him. Jin ZiXuan stepped out and stood in front of Jin ZiXun, thinking that he would settle this mess for his wife’s sake.

“We will investigate this matter to find out who the real culprit is. As for today, please do not mind the sudden mess and enjoy yourself at this banquet.”

Jin ZiXun was about to protest when Jin ZiXuan turned to him, “Relax a bit. We will find out who is the culprit soon. Perhaps you should think of who else you have offended besides Wei WuXian?”

Jin ZiXun glared at him. He had offended no one, that was what he thought. It was those people who had offended him.

As the two were busy discussing the matter, Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi had gone to the guest room arranged for them.

“Lan Zhan, thank you and I am sorry,” said Wei WuXian.

Wei WuXian could see the confusion on his husband. He probably understood why he was being thanked but he definitely did not understand why he was being apologized to.

“Something has been troubling you recently,” said Lan WangJi.

Wei WuXian nodded but did not meet his husband’s eyes. He suddenly felt a little shameful for doubting his husband when his husband had never once doubted him. When Jin ZiXun had accused him, he stood up for him immediately, just like the great husband everyone was looking for.

“That day, when I came back from Yunmeng, I saw someone came out from your room, but when I asked if you were having a guest, you told me no. I was feeling so unhappy to know that you are lying. I thought of many reasons on why you were hiding the man’s arrival from me, and I even once thought that you might have cheated on me. I am sorry, Lan Zhan! I know I should not have thought of you like that and I am being so disrespectful toward my husband. I should not have doubted you at all. I am so sorry and I promise I will never do that again,” confessed Wei WuXian.

Lan WangJi was stunned. He felt his heart sank at the moment.

“Lan Zhan?” called out Wei WuXian. He started getting worried when he saw his husband’s surprised expression, and he could only hope his husband was not angry at him for doubting him.

“Wei Ying… I am sorry…”

Now, it was Wei WuXian’s turn to be surprised. Why was his husband suddenly apologizing?

“What?” Wei WuXian questioned, puzzled.

“I am sorry,” repeated Lan WangJi.

It took a moment for Wei WuXian to realize what his husband was apologizing for.

Wei WuXian shook his head, hoping that he had misunderstood the reason for his husband’s apologies, “Lan Zhan, you did not…”

Lan WangJi clenched his fists as he saw how his husband had looked at him in shock and disbelief. He had always been afraid to see such an expression on his husband, and that was why he did not have the courage to be honest with his husband up until now. He did not want to lose him, but he did not want to lie to his husband either. He hoped he could somehow get his husband’s forgiveness. He knew it would be difficult, but he had no other choice but to give it a try.

Lan WangJi wrapped his hands around Wei WuXian, gripping them tightly as he said, “I am sorry, Wei Ying. I was drunk that day, I had no idea what I had done.”

Wei WuXian widened his eyes in disbelief. He pushed Lan WangJi’s hands away and stood up, “You..!”

He did not know what to say to his husband.

He could not believe what he was hearing, and he really hoped that Lan WangJi would just tell him that he was merely trying to tell him a joke.

But Lan WangJi never joked, and his expression proved it how serious he was.

Not knowing what to do, Wei WuXian ran out of the room, out of Lanling. He needed to get away from Lan WangJi. He needed space for himself to think through.

 


 

Nie MingJue frowned deeper as he thought of how Jin ZiXun was accusing of Wei WuXian being the caster of the curse of one hundred holes. It had been so obvious that Wei WuXian would never do something that immoral. He had been the kindest to everyone, yet everyone was still pointing fingers at him. Sometimes he had to wonder if all these cultivators were blind or were simply brainless. Throughout the mess, although he was furious that someone was slandering Wei WuXian, he did not come out immediately to speak for him because he was scanning his surroundings to check if someone might look suspicious. His eyes had landed on Jin GuangShan who was smirking when everyone was pointing their fingers at Wei WuXian. The more he thought about it, the more unease he felt.

“Qing Liang,” he turned to his right-hand man who had been walking by his side, “Go investigate who is behind the curse of the one hundred holes on the man named Jin ZiXun.”

Qing Liang frowned, “Sect Leader, Young Master Wei is already married into the Gusu Lan sect. Shouldn’t we stay out of it and just leave this matter to –”

When Nie MingJue glared at him, Qing Liang realized that he had spoken too much.

“I will go and investigate it immediately,” Qing Liang stated and bowed to Nie MingJue before he left.

Nie MingJue heaved an exhausted sigh. He turned around, preparing to leave Lanling just when the side of his eye caught sight of a familiar man ran past him. There were tears visible on the man’s face so he turned to follow the man who seemed to be running out of Lanling.

He did try his best to follow the man but he still somehow managed to lose him. After finding for a while, he found himself standing in front of a restaurant. He was about to walk away when he heard the waiter yelling their famous food to attract customers.

“Give it a try! Our restaurants have the spiciest food you can ever find in Lanling!”

Nie MingJue turned to look at the restaurant. It was around here that he had lost Wei WuXian, and given his favoritism toward spicy food, there was a high chance that he might be inside. He walked in and scanned around the restaurant until he found a man sitting there with various plates of spicy dishes in front of him and a jar of wine on the table.

He saw Wei WuXian was busy stuffing all that spicy food passed his lips with tears streaming down his cheeks. He felt an inexplicable pain in his heart and slowly, he walked toward him and silently sat by his side. Wei WuXian, upon realizing someone took the seat beside him, looked up to probably tell the man that there were many other spaces, but he shut his mouth when he recognized that the man by his side was Nie MingJue.

Nie MingJue raised his hand and wiped off the tears on Wei WuXian’s face. Surprised by the gesture, Wei WuXian backed off and used his hands to wipe his face. He looked shocked when he felt his face was drenched with tears, looking as though he had only realized that he was crying now.

“This… The food is too spicy that it made me cry,” said Wei WuXian as he pretended to laugh. Nie MingJue was displeased to see the man trying to act tough in front of him.

“What happened?” Nie MingJue questioned.

“Nothing happened, really. It is just that the food is really spicy so I just –”

“Did you have a fight with Lan WangJi?” Nie MingJue questioned again, and this time Wei WuXian fell into silence. He did not even bother to pretend laughing or fake a smile anymore. In fact, he was no longer eating anymore. He had placed down his chopsticks upon hearing the question and Nie MingJue knew he had made a correct guess.

“Is it about Jin ZiXun? Does Lan WangJi does not believe that you are not the one who cast the curse on him?”

“No! That is not it, Lan Zhan trusts me. He has never doubted me,” said Wei WuXian quickly.

“Then why are you sitting here alone, crying?” Nie MingJue questioned harshly. He was never a patient man to begin with, and he was always more worried when it came to Wei WuXian.

When Wei WuXian kept his silence, Nie MingJue frowned deeper, “I guess I will have to ask XiChen then.”

Wei WuXian was taken aback at the mention of Lan XiChen, Nie MingJue noticed, and the man had grasped on Nie MingJue’s arm as if that could stop him from leaving and find Lan XiChen. Nie MingJue waited for an answer, yet Wei WuXian remained silent.

“Speak if you do not want me to leave,” said Nie MingJue.

Wei WuXian heaved a sigh. He had no idea Nie MingJue could be so persistent and he had never thought that Nie MingJue would enjoy minding other people’s problems so much. It would have been so much better if this man would just pretend that he did not see or know anything, just turn his back to him like the other cultivators –

“Wei WuXian.”

Wei WuXian could hear that Nie MingJue’s patience was really running out, so he started telling him his problem. Nie MingJue listened in silence until he finished telling him what made him sat here, eating and crying alone.

“Impossible.”

That was the first word Nie MingJue had said once Wei WuXian finished telling him what Lan WangJi had told him. Wei WuXian frowned. He felt it was impossible too.

“I know it is impossible. Lan Zhan will never do that to me, but he told me he did!”

Nie MingJue fell into silence and looked like he was contemplating something. Seeing that, Wei WuXian turned away and was trying to decide if he should just continue eating, but then he knew he did not have the appetite.

“Lan WangJi is not someone like that. Besides, I am sure you are the only one he loves. He said he cheated on you, but that did not mean he had sex with someone else, right? He probably accidentally kissed someone, or there might be a possibility that there is a different meaning in cheating according to the Gusu Lan Sect rules?”

Wei WuXian contemplated what Nie MingJue was saying and felt his words made a lot of sense. He recalled what his husband had told him, and he certainly never mentioned anything about sleeping with someone else. He only said he cheated, and there were so many ridiculous rules in the Gusu Lan sect. Perhaps, someone had accidentally touched Lan WangJi’s forehead ribbon and given how important the Gusu Lan sect’s rules were to his husband, he must be unable to forgive himself if that did happen.

Thinking of such a possibility, he immediately cheered up. He smiled and thanked Nie MingJue before taking his chopsticks into his hands and quickly resumed eating so he could leave and make everything clear with his husband. Nie MingJue watched him ate, and when Wei WuXian gave him another pair of chopsticks happily to invite him to eat together, he accepted his offer and ate with him. When they were done eating, Nie MingJue paid for the meal and accompanied Wei WuXian to return to Lan WangJi. After all, Lanling was dangerous to Wei WuXian at the moment. Nie MingJue could not let him walk around alone when the Jin disciples were clearly planning on harming him. He would only leave his side when he was sure that Wei WuXian would have someone else by his side to protect him. Perhaps, he thought, he should also talk to Lan WangJi about this to make sure that he would be prepared to protect Wei WuXian from harm at all times especially during their stay at Lanling, but he had to wait until both Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi had cleared out their misunderstanding before he could have a talk with Lan WangJi.

Chapter Text

Jiang Cheng was feeling unease. Both Lan WangJi and Wei WuXian had disappeared in the middle of the banquet at Lanling. It was not something strange for Lan WangJi to leave without a word, but it was definitely strange for Wei WuXian. Even if Wei WuXian did not inform him that he was leaving, he would at least inform Jiang YanLi about it. Some cultivators even mentioned that they saw Lan WangJi and Wei WuXian leaving separately. Worried that something might have happened between the two, Jiang Cheng went to Cloud Recesses to talk to Wei WuXian, but he was told that Wei WuXian was not back at the moment and he was brought to Lan WangJi instead.

When he was met with a downcasted and depressed Lan WangJi who told him he had confessed to Wei WuXian that he had cheated on him but remained silent as to who he had cheated with, Jiang Cheng stared at him in disbelief.

“What did you say? You told him you cheated on him? Are you crazy?! And you are just going to stand here doing nothing? Do you really want him to leave you?!”

Jiang Cheng was furious. This man was ridiculous.

“He already left me…”

“You..!”

Jiang Cheng had no words for this man. He felt like he would soon explode if he kept talking to this man. He needed some wine to help him think. He took out a jar of Emperor’s Smile from the place where Wei WuXian had once told him his husband had been hiding wines for him and he started drinking without another second of hesitation. He had promised himself not to drink again, but he really had to. Drinking wines was the only thing that could help him forget his troubles. Lan WangJi snatched the wine from his hold and poured it into his mouth in a moment of frustration.

“What are you doing?!” exclaimed Jiang Cheng as he immediately snatched the wine back into his hands. Lan WangJi dropped onto the ground seconds later.

Jiang Cheng rolled his eyes and ignored the drunken man as he continued to drink the wine. He drank jar after jar of wines, yet he still could not think of how to solve the current problem. The only thing he knew was that he could not let Wei WuXian knew that the other man was him. As he imagined how Wei WuXian would react when he knew the other man was him, his hands started trembling. Wei WuXian was important to him, and he could not afford to lose this brother. As he thought of that, he decided to gulp down more and more wines. Perhaps, when he was drunk, he could stop thinking about everything. He had no idea how much he had drunk, but he had almost finished up all the Emperor’s Smiles kept hidden within Jingshi.

“Wei Ying…”

Hearing someone mumbling from behind, Jiang Cheng turned and saw Lan WangJi’s eyes were opened slightly. He clicked his tongue in annoyance. This man was really hopeless. He stood up and wobbled as he felt his head spinning and a headache coming to him. He had really drunk too much. However, he still walked unstably to help Lan WangJi onto his bed. When he was done, he was about to stand up to leave, but Lan WangJi wrapped his fingers around his arm.

“Wei Ying, don’t leave…”

“I am not him.”

Jiang Cheng pushed Lan WangJi’s hands away and stood up, only to have Lan WangJi pulled him down and he had ended up knocking his head onto the bed. Jiang Cheng winced in pain and tried sitting up, but he was feeling so dizzy that he could not even balance himself and had ended up dropping onto the bed again. 

“Wei Ying…”

Jiang Cheng heard a voice beside him mumbling, but he had no idea who the voice belonged to or what the voice was speaking about. All he could feel at the moment was the dizziness within his head, and for a moment, he could not even remember where he was. However, seeing that he was positioned on a bed, he assumed that he was somehow in his own room at Lotus Pier.

 


 

“Jiang WanYin!”

Jiang Cheng woke up with a crushing pain in his head. Then he saw it again. The exact same scene that had sent his world crumbling – the image of the night that gave him the possibility of losing his brother. That should never ever happen for the second time. He had promised himself that history should never ever repeat, and that was why he had promised himself not to get himself drunk again and never to be in the same room with Lan WangJi again. He had broken those two promises and here he was, feeling more devastated than ever.

Lan WangJi was beside him, glaring at him furiously, naked. He looked down at himself to see the same.

Damn it! As if it was not bad enough to have happened once already, and this second time had to happen!

The two quickly moved and put on their robes. Jiang Cheng had to leave immediately. He was never coming to Gusu again. More importantly, he would never enter Lan WangJi’s room alone again.

When Lan WangJi had dressed up, he quickly opened the door and urged Jiang Cheng to quicken his speed. When Jiang Cheng was done, he was about to walk to the door when he noticed Lan WangJi eyes were widened, staring at something outside of Jingshi.

“Wei Ying..!”

Wei WuXian was approaching Jingshi. Lan WangJi turned to stare at Jiang Cheng in shock when Wei WuXian was coming into the room. Jiang Cheng dashed to stand behind the door and forced it close immediately.

Lan WangJi turned to him in surprise, “What do you think you are doing?”

“I can’t let him know I am the one,” he whispered angrily.

Meanwhile, Wei WuXian who was standing outside could only stare back in shock. He could see the one to close the door was not his husband. Someone else was inside there, but the one who closed it was hiding behind the door and he could not see whoever that person was.

“Lan Zhan, let me in!” Wei WuXian banged on the door. When there was no response, Wei WuXian tried opening it and banged again when he found it futile.

“Lan Zhan!”

Fear arose within him when he got no response. At this point, he was sure the one in the room was definitely who his husband had been cheating with.

Lan WangJi opened the door slightly and when he came out, he quickly closed the door behind him. Again, Wei WuXian noticed, his husband’s robe was disheveled.

“Wei Ying, let’s go somewhere else to talk,” said Lan WangJi. He was pulling his husband to get away from Jingshi with him, but Wei WuXian flung his hand away furiously.

“No! I want to see who else is inside!”

Panicked, Lan WangJi quickly stopped him and stood in front of Jingshi, guarding it against having anyone entering his room.

“Wei Ying, please…”

“No! You tell me, what have you been doing with the one inside?” asked Wei WuXian as he looked at Lan WangJi’s disheveled appearance. Normally, one would not even need to ask, but he needed to make sure.

“You slept with the person inside?” Wei WuXian’s voice sounded broken.

“I am sorry, but please listen to me. It was an accident.”

Wei WuXian pushed Lan WangJi away angrily.

“Accident! It was always an accident, you said it last time too!”

“No, Wei Ying! Please listen, I can explain. It is not what you see, please believe –”

“How am I supposed to believe you?!” shrieked Wei WuXian, his tears streaming down.

Lan WangJi stared at his husband, feeling an inexplicable pain to see that his husband was crying, and he was the cause of those tears.

“Lan Zhan, you… have you ever loved me?”

The question made Lan WangJi staggered backward, his eyes widened as he looked up at his husband. Lan WangJi was inarticulate. How could his husband ask him such a question just because he had accidentally betrayed him once –

Twice.

But no one understood it more than Lan WangJi that Wei WuXian was the only one that he loved, be it in the past or in the future. No one would take Wei WuXian’s place in his heart, especially not Jiang Cheng who hated him just as much as he hated the man.

Misinterpreting Lan WangJi’s silence as a form of an answer, Wei WuXian let out a bitter laugh. Lan WangJi raised his hand to seize his husband’s shoulders to plead for him to listen, but Wei WuXian was already out of his reach and had already run away with tears trickling down his cheeks.

Wei WuXian ran fast without looking back. All he wanted at the moment was to leave Cloud Recesses – leave Lan WangJi. He could not believe what had just happened. It hurt too much. He ran and ran until he found himself hardly able to breathe, but he still continued to run. He did not want to stay in a place that would remind him of his wedding day not too long ago, and his place as Lan WangJi’s husband had already been replaced by someone else, yet he had no idea who that person was.

 


 

Standing beside Lan XiChen and forcing himself to focus on what his sworn brother was telling him, Nie MingJue could not help but glanced back a few times. He had accompanied Wei WuXian to find for Lan WangJi back at Lanling, but when they found out that Lan WangJi had already returned to Cloud Recesses, Nie MingJue had offered to send Wei WuXian back here, knowing that it would take days for him to return without the ability to fly on a sword.

Noticing Nie MingJue was not really listening to him, Lan XiChen asked worriedly, “Elder brother, is something troubling you lately?”

Hearing that, Nie MingJue turned to Lan XiChen in surprise. Frankly speaking, there were quite a few things that had been troubling him lately. The first was that he was still wondering who had put the curse of one hundred holes onto Jin ZiXun and who made Jin ZiXun thought that Wei WuXian was the one who had put the curse on him. The second was he was deeply in love with his sworn brother’s brother’s husband, but he certainly could not tell his sworn brother that.

He heaved a sigh, and when he was about to tell Lan XiChen that there was nothing that he should worry about, both the men turned to see Wei WuXian running within Cloud Recesses. Lan XiChen was about to step forward and remind his brother-in-law that he had broken a rule once again but as he saw his face, he stopped.

Tears were trickling down the running man’s cheeks, lots of them as what both Nie MingJue and Lan XiChen could see. Nie MingJue’s heart ached to see the man he loved in such a state, and he wanted nothing more than to run up to him and to embrace him, telling the man that whatever happened, he would be by his side and would never ever leave him.

He would protect him.

Nie MingJue turned to Lan XiChen, “XiChen, if there is nothing else, I will leave first.”

Lan XiChen turned to him, “All right. I –”

“There is no need to walk me out,” said Nie MingJue before he started to walk away, hoping he could catch up with Wei WuXian as soon as possible.

Lan XiChen nodded absentmindedly. He had something more important to do than sending his sworn brother out of Cloud Recesses. He rushed to Jingshi to try to understand what was going on. It looked as though his brother and brother-in-law had an argument, but as he remembered the face of his brother-in-law, he knew this was not a simple argument that could be called off with just an apology. Whatever it was, he would find a solution to that for his brother’s sake and he would not want to lose such a good brother-in-law anyway.

As he approached Jingshi, the voices of two men arguing inside could be heard clearly from outside. A voice belonged to his brother while another sounded somewhat familiar. When he was trying hard to recognize who the voice had belonged to, the content of the argument sent him into a state of shock.

Lan XiChen pushed the door of Jingshi opened and saw the two men who were previously arguing were now staring at him in shock. Lan XiChen could not believe what was happening at the moment. How did his brother manage to get himself into such a mess?

 


 

“Wei WuXian!” Nie MingJue shouted to the man who was running ahead of him, but the man neither stopped running nor respond to his call. He merely continued running forward, ignoring everything around him. After chasing him all the way from Cloud Recesses to Caiyi Town, Nie MingJue had almost caught up to him. With a swift speed, Nie MingJue dashed forward and grasped Wei WuXian’s wrist, turning the younger man to turn around and face him.

Nie MingJue widened his eyes at the sight of Wei WuXian’s face which had already been drenched with tears. He felt an inexplicable pain in his heart seeing that the man he loved was in such a state, and this pain merely increased when Wei WuXian dropped his knees onto the ground, crying out in the middle of the street and ignoring everyone else who was staring at him as they were all startled with the sudden cry.

“Why?!” Wei WuXian exclaimed brokenly. As if he was expecting someone to give him an answer and was disappointed that no one answered him, he shouted again, this time louder than before, “Why?!”

Nie MingJue could feel his eyes warming up, he could not bear to see the man who never knew how to stop smiling crying here in the middle of the street. He lowered down himself before the crying man and pulled him into his embrace.

“Why?” Wei WuXian had asked the same question again, but Nie MingJue had no answer to his question. He would like to know how could someone bear to hurt such a loving and amazing man too. He did not know how to comfort him with words, so he could only embrace him tighter, hoping that it could somehow comfort the crying man.

“I… what have I done wrong? Why..? I do not understand...” Wei WuXian said brokenly, and Nie MingJue felt his heart broke along with the sorrowful man before him.

Nie MingJue gritted his teeth in anger. He felt useless being unable to do anything besides sitting here accompanying Wei WuXian, listening to how he blamed himself for the broken marriage although Nie MingJue was very sure that he was not the one at fault. The one who had done wrong here was clearly not Wei WuXian, but Lan WangJi. Nie MingJue regretted allowing him to leave Unclean Realm and got him married to Lan WangJi. He regretted believing that Lan WangJi would be the right man for Wei WuXian and trusted Lan WangJi that he would bring happiness to Wei WuXian.

He pulled Wei WuXian apart from him. Seeing that the face of the man before him was in a mess, he raised his hands to wipe his face gently, “You have done nothing wrong. Wei WuXian, this is not your fault.”

Nie MingJue meant to make Wei WuXian feel better by convincing him that he was not the one who had done something wrong, but somehow his words merely made him cried harder. Tears were continued dripping down his cheeks as he cried out, “Sect Leader Nie, Lan Zhan does not want me anymore. What should I do? What can I do? I do not know what I have done wrong, but Lan Zhan does not love me anymore.”

Nie MingJue raised his hands and started wiping off his tears again, “This is not your fault.”

Wei WuXian shook his head, “No, I must have done something that angered Lan Zhan.”

Nie MingJue felt a thousand swords pierced into his heart as he heard those words. He felt himself on the verge of crying along with Wei WuXian, and he immediately pulled the man into his embrace.

“Sect Leader Nie, please tell me what should I do,” Wei WuXian cried out.

Nie MingJue felt a drop of tear dropped down his face, but he ignored it and continued to whisper words of comfort and repeatedly assured Wei WuXian that he was not at fault. However, no matter what he had said, Wei WuXian seemed to be unable to hear him at all as he cried harder with each passing second.

Chapter Text

Standing in front of the entrance of Cloud Recesses, Wei WuXian clenched his fists. He could neither move his feet forward nor backward. A part of him wanted to move forward to meet up with his husband and listen out to his explanation while another part of him wanted to just run away from everything and stay away from Cloud Recesses until he had the courage to face his husband again.

Unable to decide what he wanted to do at the moment, he closed his eyes in frustration, and the sound of the door of Jingshi had been forcefully shut before him immediately rang in his ears. He still remembered the image of his husband rushing out of Jingshi with his disheveled robes and how his husband had stopped him from entering and check out who was the other person in the room. He unconsciously stepped back, afraid of seeing such a terrifying scene again.

Just as when he was about to turn around to leave, he was reminded of his previous conversation with Nie MingJue.

“I am sorry to let you see me in this state,” said Wei WuXian as he turned away from Nie MingJue, busily wiping his tears off his face.

“What are you planning to do now?” Nie MingJue asked him, and Wei WuXian stayed silent. He did not know what he wanted to do at the moment either.

“While you are unable to think of what to do or where to go, do you want to come to Unclean Realm with me and take a rest there?” questioned Nie MingJue. Wei WuXian looked up to him, surprised with the sudden invitation.

Wei WuXian almost accepted the invitation, but he had chosen to return to Cloud Recesses in the end. He could not bear to leave Lan WangJi, at least not yet. He wanted to give himself another chance and listen out to his husband’s explanation.

Now that he had come all the way here, he realized there was really no point to run away again. It would not solve any problem. He needed to give Lan WangJi a chance to explain. Perhaps, it was really an accident. Since they were already married, he should have chosen to trust his husband more. He would be patient and silently listen out to his explanation.

He started walking into Cloud Recesses and when Jingshi was just a few feet away from him, he clenched his fists, took in a deep breath, and braced himself to approach the room. Just as he was approaching Jingshi, he heard a voice.

It was Lan XiChen.

He walked nearer to the room and found a place to hide his presence, careful enough not to be noticed by anyone. He was surprised to see that not only Lan WangJi and Lan XiChen were there, but Jiang Cheng was there too.

That was weird. Why was Jiang Cheng here in Cloud Recesses?

“WangJi, do you know what you have done?” asked Lan XiChen. There were anger and disbelief in his tone. Wei WuXian doubted Lan XiChen had ever used such a tone to anyone else, let alone to the younger brother that he doted whenever he had the chance.

Wei WuXian peeked at Lan WangJi. The man was silent as he bowed down like he was ashamed to look up to his brother. Wei WuXian could not help but wonder what had happened. Did the man accidentally break some rules?

“WangJi, of all the people, why must it be him?” questioned Lan XiChen as he pointed to Jiang Cheng.

Jiang Cheng grasped Lan XiChen’s wrist in a fit of desperation and pleaded, “Sect Leader Lan, please. You can’t tell Wei WuXian this.”

Lan XiChen pushed off the man’s hand that had been gripping his wrist before he walked a few steps forward, “If you do not want him to know, you should not have done it in the first place. Sect Leader Jiang, WuXian is your brother and WangJi is his husband. How can you be intimate with WangJi behind WuXian’s back? Don’t you feel guilty?”

“Sect Leader Lan, I swear that was an accident! I did not even know what happened! I –”

The sound of someone knocking himself against something outside of Jingshi interrupted their conversation. All three looked out to see a man in a black robe standing there, his eyes widened – he looked extremely shocked.

Both Jiang Cheng and Lan WangJi were in shock too as they stared at the man.

“WuXian..!”

Lan XiChen gasped. He knew by the look of it, his brother-in-law must have heard everything that he was not supposed to know.

As though Lan XiChen and Jiang Cheng were invisible, Wei WuXian walked toward his husband. His eyes never once leaving Lan WangJi from the moment he started walking into the room, not even when he felt tears were dropping down his cheeks, and Lan WangJi dared not look at the eyes that would show him how betrayed his husband was feeling at the moment.

“Lan Zhan, please tell me that it is not Jiang Cheng,” said Wei WuXian.

Lan WangJi gave no answer. He felt his heart shattered into pieces, knowing that he had made his husband cried once again, but the next words that came out of his husband’s lips were what pained him more.

“I do not need to know the truth. You can lie to me. Please, Lan Zhan, as long as you tell me that it has nothing to do with Jiang Cheng, I will believe in you.”

“I am sorry,” Lan WangJi croaked out, his head lowered down as he felt himself crying too.

Wei WuXian staggered backward as he felt more tears drenching his face.

“WuXian,” Lan XiChen called out to his brother-in-law worriedly as he grasped his shoulders, supporting his weight from behind, but Wei WuXian did not seem like he was able to hear him.

“You do not even want to lie to me,” said Wei WuXian.

There was a moment of silence. None dared to speak until Wei WuXian broke the silence.

“Lan WangJi.”

Lan WangJi flinched as he heard that and braced himself to look up at his husband. He knew what was to come as he saw the expression on the man’s face.

“Let’s divorce.”

Although he had expected it and he knew he certainly deserved it, yet there was no way to stop the crushing pain in his heart. There was no way to stop his tears either. Lan XiChen and Jiang Cheng both wore a surprised expression as they heard that.

“Xichen-ge, you can just announce to the world that I, Wei WuXian decided to leave for I can’t afford to live with the rules in Cloud Recesses.”

Lan XiChen did not know what he was supposed to do. He wanted to ask for Wei WuXian to stay and not to divorce his brother, but he knew his brother was in the wrong and Wei WuXian had every right to ask for a divorce. No matter how much he wanted for Wei WuXian to stay, he knew that he was destined to lose a brother-in-law today.

Jiang Cheng knew he was so screwed up as he saw Wei WuXian turned and walked away. He looked at Lan WangJi whose head was once again bowed down and had fallen onto the ground. The man’s shoulders were trembling, most probably already crying. He certainly looked as though he had no intention of chasing his husband back. Jiang Cheng rushed out to chase his brother – to explain to him that it was not what he thought, that everything was not supposed to turn out this way and it was all just an accident.

When Jiang Cheng finally found his brother, the man was already on his way to leave Cloud Recesses. He ran up and caught his wrist, turning him around to face him.

“Wei WuXian, please let me explain. It’s not like that. It’s not what you think. It’s all an accident. Lan WangJi and I, we are just… we are just..!”

There were no appropriate words that could be used, he realized. What was his relationship with Lan WangJi? They perfectly had no feelings for each other. They merely ended up sleeping together not once, but twice.

“Jiang Cheng,” said Wei WuXian. His voice sounded so exhausted like he was tired of everything – tired of Jiang Cheng.

“Since we are young, whatever it is that you want, I will not fight for it with you. This time too, will not be an exception,” stated Wei WuXian as he slid his hand out of Jiang Cheng’s grasp. He turned, officially leaving Cloud Recesses.

Jiang Cheng watched the back of his brother moving further and further away from his sight. He knew he had done wrong, so wrong that there was no turning back. He had lost his brother forever now. He fell to the ground and he could no longer control the tears that had been threatening to fall ever since he knew Wei WuXian had found out that he had betrayed him.

“I am sorry…” he said regretfully through his sobs, but there was no one to hear that besides himself or any of the Lan disciples who might have passed by him.

 


 

At Caiyi Town, Wei WuXian sat there surrounded by two dozen of Emperor’s Smile. Two were already empty. He was already on his third jar. Drinking was good. If he could be drunk, he could stop those memories that were replaying in his brain again and again. He needed to drink faster, to make himself drunk faster so he could stop all those painful memories.

“Wei Ying,” said Lan WangJi as he held Wei WuXian’s hands in his, “Marry me.”

“L-Lan Zhan?!”

“You don’t need to stay in Gusu if you do not wish to. You once said you wanted to travel around the world, night hunting in all different places, and helping out anyone you see in trouble. We can do that even after marriage. I want to stay with you forever and do everything you wish to do with you.”

Wei WuXian was taken aback at the sudden confession.

“How can you not go back to Gusu? That is your home.”

Lan WangJi shook his head, “I will follow you wherever you go. You are my home.”

He had thought he was the most blissful man in the world back then. He had thought Lan WangJi would be his forever. Grasping the empty jar of wine tightly, he threw it away and took another.

“Wei WuXian, remember this. Lotus Pier will forever be your home.”

He still remembered how surprised and happy he felt when Jiang Cheng told him that on the day of his wedding. He thought that whatever happened, he would always have a home to go back to, but he had none now. He could not go back to Cloud Recesses. He could not go back to Lotus Pier. He was homeless now.

“Wei Ying, please…”

“No! You tell me, what have you been doing with the one inside?” asked Wei WuXian as he looked at Lan WangJi’s disheveled appearance. Normally, one would not even need to ask, but he needed to make sure.

“You slept with the person inside?” Wei WuXian’s voice sounded broken.

“I am sorry, but please listen to me. It was an accident.”

Wei WuXian pushed Lan WangJi away angrily.

“Accident! It was always an accident, you said it last time too!”

The time where he was about to walk into Jingshi and the door was suddenly forced shut before him was still fresh in his memory. It was Jiang Cheng back then, and it was not the first time they had slept together. He remembered the time when he had just returned from Yunmeng, he saw a man in black coming out of Lan WangJi’s room.

That must be him too.

And it was also Jiang Cheng who had requested for him to stay at Lotus Pier for a few more days to accompany Jiang YanLi who had just given birth to Jin Ling while Lan WangJi would return to Cloud Recesses first. He could not help but think that they had planned that out together.

“You… are you really sure that Lan WangJi is the correct man for you?”

Wei WuXian was surprised by the sudden question. He smiled warmly at his brother knowing that despite all the harsh words his brother had always thrown at him, he still cared a lot about him.

“Jiang Cheng, I am getting married in a few days' time and you are still asking such a question? Believe me, Lan Zhan will be good to me.”

Now that he thought about it, Jiang Cheng was trying to make him change his mind back then – so he could have been the one to marry Lan WangJi instead. Wei WuXian fell onto the ground, tears dripping down uncontrollably.

Why, he thought.

If only Jiang Cheng or Lan WangJi would tell him that they were already together, he would never get married. He did not understand why Jiang Cheng would watch him get married to the man he loved without saying anything. He did not understand why Lan WangJi would propose to him when he already had Jiang Cheng. He did not understand what he had done wrong to be treated in such a way by the two men he trusted the most.

He did not want to think anymore, and only by being drunk could help him to stop thinking. He was about to start drinking on the twentieth jar of Emperor's Smile when he was stopped by a strong hand gripping his wrist. He looked up and recognized the man to be none other than Nie MingJue.

“Isn’t this Sect Leader Nie? Come, drink with me,” said Wei WuXian as he stood up and staggered while his hand grabbed a newly unopened jar of wine and offered it to the man who was staring at him.

Nie MingJue did not accept the offer. He merely stood there, staring at Wei WuXian in silence.

“You don’t want it? Then I will drink it,” said Wei WuXian as he opened the new jar and poured the contents down his throat.

Nie MingJue grabbed his wrist again and stated, “Stop drinking. You are getting drunk.”

Wei WuXian pushed off the hand gripping gently at his wrist and pouted, “I am not.”

Nie MingJue continued to stare at him, neither denying nor agreeing to his declaration.

“I am not drunk at all. I am awake, so awake that I hope it’s all a dream,” said Wei WuXian as he once again emptied the contents of the twentieth jar.

Nie MingJue watched the younger man drank jar after jar, waiting for the moment the man would drop down after getting drunk so he would be able to carry him to Unclean Realm and let him rest there. When Wei WuXian reached the last jar left, he grabbed Nie MingJue’s robe as he asked him, “Why?”

Nie MingJue was certain he was drunk now. He seemed to be unable to recognize who he was talking to at this point.

“Why must it be Jiang Cheng?!”

Nie MingJue widened his eyes as Wei WuXian weakly hit Nie MingJue’s chest with his fists and cried his eyes out. Nie MingJue pulled him into his embrace as he gently rubbed his back, an act to comfort him while Wei WuXian wept until he fell asleep.

Nie MingJue pulled Wei WuXian away from him and started wiping his face clean from the tears. He felt his heart tightened when he saw how sorrowfully the man looked. He regretted letting him go, supporting him to talk it out with Lan WangJi. However, it should be all fine now because he would never let anyone who hurt him to dare to go near him again. He would be there to protect him from now on and no one would be able to stop him. He lifted Wei WuXian up in his strong arms as he rose up to Baxia and headed back to Unclean Realm.

They were going home.

 

Chapter Text

Nie HuaiSang looked up to the sky and fanned himself using one of his favorite fans, heaving a sigh before he caught a glimpse of Baxia and in the next moment, his brother landed a few feet away from him with a very familiar man in his arms. He was bewildered at first. After all, his brother had disappeared in the middle of the banquet at Lanling and he had to return to Unclean Realm alone. His brother was back now and he was carrying a man in his arms. The man in his brother’s arms did not seem to be moving. He wondered who it was and with a closer look, he saw the unmistakable red ribbon on the man’s hair. He gasped once he recognized who was currently in the arms of his brother.

Did his brother finally lose his mind and decided to kidnap Wei WuXian and hide him in Unclean Realm?

Nie HuaiSang dashed toward his brother, “Elder brother!”

“Let’s get in first,” said Nie MingJue as he walked to the room where Wei WuXian used to live in before he got married. Nie HuaiSang followed closely behind his brother.

Once they reached the room, Nie HuaiSang was about to step forward and push the door open when Nie MingJue kicked the door open and walked in, gently placing Wei WuXian on the bed and placing a blanket over him.

“HuaiSang, bring me water and towel,” stated Nie MingJue. Upon hearing that, Nie HuaiSang promptly went out and got the requested items before placing it beside his brother.

Nie MingJue had soaked the towel into the water before he twisted it to remove the excess water absorbed into it. He took the towel in his hands and started wiping Wei WuXian’s face. While taking care of the man in the bed, he could also feel his younger brother staring at him in curiosity. He ignored him until he had finished wiping the man’s face and his hands. He had then placed the towel on the side of the pail of water before he turned to the man on the bed again, gently caressing his face.

“HuaiSang, I want to let him stay here, hide him from the world outside.”

Nie HuaiSang was surprised by his elder brother breaking the silence in the room and suddenly talking to him. He thought his elder brother would not talk to him at all, at least not until the man on the bed woke up, but what was even more surprising was what his brother had just told him.

“W-What? He is a married man..?”

Surely his elder brother knew that. He even attended the wedding after all.

“HuaiSang,” said Nie MingJue as he turned to his younger brother, “What do you think of the relationship between Wei WuXian and Jiang WanYin?”

The sudden change of topic somehow surprised Nie HuaiSang. What did Jiang WanYin have to do with hiding Wei WuXian here in Unclean Realm?

“They are brothers..? They are not blood-related though, but it feels like they are no different from any of the blood-related brothers. From what I have heard, Jiang-xiong always said he had to clean up the mess left by Wei-xiong every time after he had caused trouble. Jiang-xiong is always complaining about Wei-xiong, but despite all that, it was clear that the two were so close that they were willing to do anything to protect each other.”

Nie HuaiSang was about to describe more of how close the two men were, but he halted when he saw his brother frowning, his fingers forming a pair of fists on his laps.

“Elder brother, did something happen?”

“I don’t know.”

There was a questioning look on Nie HuaiSang’s face.

“He told me Lan WangJi cheated,” said Nie MingJue.

Nie HuaiSang was dumbfounded. As much as he disliked Lan WangJi for stealing Wei WuXian away from his brother and despite how much he always thought that his brother was certainly a much better match for Wei WuXian, never would he have imagined that Lan WangJi would ever cheat on his husband, especially when they had just gotten married not too long ago.

He must have heard wrongly, he thought. Just as when he was about to request for his brother to repeat what he had said, the man on the bed started mumbling in his drunken state.

“Why… why must it be… Jiang Cheng..?"

Nie HuaiSang widened his eyes as the realization hit him hard. It made sense now why his brother would suddenly question him regarding the relationship between the Yunmeng brothers, but that should not be possible. After all, the two of them… they were so close and treated each other like they were true brothers and it felt like they would give up anything to ensure each other’s safety. Something like that should not be happening. He was about to think that there might be a misunderstanding here when he saw a drop of tear escaped Wei WuXian’s left eye, and Nie MingJue wasted no time hesitating as he used his thumb to gently wipe it away.

“Elder brother… don’t tell me..?”

He could not voice out his question, he was too surprised with what he had just realized through Wei WuXian’s drunken words. If even he felt so surprised, it must have been a much greater shock to Wei WuXian.

“I don’t know. He told me nothing,” said Nie MingJue as he continued to stare at Wei WuXian sadly, making sure to wipe off any tears that escaped the man’s eyes again.

Realizing that he should not be here and that he would not be able to do anything to help anyway in the current situation, he took the pail of water and towel with him. When he was at the door, he took one final glance at his brother and Wei WuXian before he finally left the two alone.

 


 

When Wei WuXian had his eyes opening up the next day, the first thing he felt was that there was a crushing pain in his head. He clenched the sides of his head, wincing in pain. He looked around and for a moment, he had no idea where he was. This place was definitely not his home. It was neither the place he had grown up in – his room in Lotus Pier nor the room he shared with his husband in Cloud Recesses.

Speaking of which, he did not see his husband at all. If he was here, his husband should be here too, right? The name ‘Lan Zhan’ was on the tip of his tongue when he suddenly felt the crushing pain in his chest, reminding him of the fact that he no longer had a husband, no longer had a home to return to. He had requested a divorce with the man he loved – the man who had shared a bed with his brother behind his back like it was absolutely normal.

He finally understood what caused the crushing pain in his head. He remembered after running out of Cloud Recesses, he took the token Nie MingJue had given him and bought two dozen of Emperor’s Smiles and he remembered he actually did finish all of the jars. He remembered when he drank the last jar, amidst his blurred sight, he saw someone – a man who was taller than him because he had to look up when he spoke.

He wondered who the man was.

“Awake?”

He turned to the door and saw Nie MingJue walking up to him with a tray of food. The man placed the tray on a table nearby as he took a seat beside him on the bed, scrutinizing Wei WuXian.

That was when Wei WuXian realized that the man he had spoken to in his drunken state was Nie MingJue.

He was in Unclean Realm.

He wondered how he had ended up in Unclean Realm though. He hoped he did not do something ridiculous like forcing Nie MingJue to bring him to Unclean Realm because he no longer had a home.

“Are you feeling better? I have prepared some food for you, do you want to eat some?”

Wei WuXian shook his head.

Nie MingJue seemed to understand that he probably would not be hungry and nodded.

“I am sorry,” said Nie MingJue, his voice sounded so soft and gentle, and very apologetic.

“What?” questioned Wei WuXian, puzzled. He could not remember what Nie MingJue had done to him that needed him to apologize.

“I… I encouraged you to find out the truth.”

“Oh…”

Now that he remembered, Nie MingJue did tell him that there might be a misunderstanding and that he should listen out to Lan WangJi’s explanation before finalizing that he was indeed at fault.

And he did, in which he was not sure if he should actually regret or be relieved that he had found out the truth.

However, one thing he could be sure of was that none of it was Nie MingJue’s fault. Wei WuXian was about to tell the man that it was not his fault, he had to know the truth sooner or later anyway. There was no escaping. Before he could say that though, what Nie MingJue said made him stared at him in shock.

“The man that Lan WangJi cheated with, was he Jiang WanYin?”

Wei WuXian did not answer, but seeing him staring at him with wide eyes proved it all.

“You… How..?”

Nie MingJue kept his silence.

“Did I say something I should not when I was drunk?”

Nie MingJue kept his silence again.

“Can you… can you not tell anyone about this?”

Nie MingJue stared at Wei WuXian in surprise and disbelief, “It has already been like this, and until now you are still trying to protect Jiang WanYin? Or is the one that you are trying to protect this time Lan WangJi?”

Wei WuXian was taken aback with Nie MingJue suddenly being so furious.

“Sect Leader Nie…” Wei WuXian tried to reach out to Nie MingJue, but the elder man stood up immediately, he looked so angry and Wei WuXian was starting to wonder if he had said something wrong.

“Forget it, this is your matter. I will not tell anyone else about this if that is what you want. You must be tired now, I will come and see you again later.”

Nie MingJue stormed out of the room, leaving a dumbfounded Wei WuXian blinking his eyes in confusion. He had no idea what happened and what made Nie MingJue so angry all of a sudden.

Being left alone in the room, Wei WuXian decided he could get out for a walk to breathe in some fresh air. It had been a while since he was able to be here at Unclean Realm walking around so freely.

It did not take long until he had walked to a place where he could hear the Nie disciples chattering.

“Have you heard, Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi divorced!”

“I know! I heard that! Who could have imagined it would be this fast?”

“That is not unimaginable. You think about it, who is Wei WuXian? He is a demonic cultivator, a son of a servant, but Hanguang-jun is the honorable and respected Second Master Lan. They were never a good match at all.”

“That’s true. If Hanguang-jun really wanted to choose someone from his generation, hmmm… I think Sect Leader Jiang would be a much better choice. You see, Sect Leader Jiang managed to rebuild his sect in such a short time and at such a young age too. Compared to Wei WuXian, Sect Leader Jiang is so much more amazing.”

“But this Wei WuXian is really in danger now. He has so many enemies, like you remember Jin ZiXun during the banquet at Lanling? He was only saved by Hanguang-jun protecting him previously, and now that they divorced, I bet all his enemies will soon find the chance to kill him.”

“But he is here in Unclean Realm right now, isn’t it? Will that not bring trouble to us?”

“Wei-xiong!”

The Nie disciples who were chattering turned in time just to see Wei WuXian turned to find Nie HuaiSang walking toward him.

“Why are you out here all alone? If you are bored, you should just tell me to accompany you. You are my brother’s important guest, so we cannot afford to mistreat you or my brother will punish me or anyone else who is rude to you,” Nie HuaiSang said loudly, making sure those Nie disciples knew what they had just done.

The Nie disciples, upon hearing that quickly ran away as if running away could let them pretend they were not in danger at all. They could only hope Nie HuaiSang would not inform Sect Leader Nie about it, or they might really have to prepare themselves for the punishment that would soon come to them.

“They are right actually,” said Wei WuXian.

“Wei-xiong, what are you saying? Do not bother with them, they just have nothing better to do,” said Nie HuaiSang.

Wei WuXian shook his head, “No, they are right. The Lanling Jin sect has always seen me as their foe, especially after what the man who accused me of cursing him said in Jin Ling’s full-month celebration. I am sure once Jin GuangShan has learned that I am no longer a part of the Gusu Lan Sect, he will come to me very soon. I can’t endanger the Qinghe Nie sect by staying here any longer.”

“What?! Wei-xiong, you cannot leave!”

Nie HuaiSang was panicking. Leave? Did this man know how much effort – how long had Nie MingJue waited to see him in Unclean Realm again?

Wei WuXian smiled and gave a soft pat on Nie HuaiSang's shoulder, “It’s fine. Nie-xiong, both you and Sect Leader Nie have helped me enough. I will have to handle the rest of what will be coming next by myself.”

Wei WuXian turned to leave, but Nie HuaiSang quickly caught his wrist. He was determined to not let the man leave because… his brother might yell at him later if this man left. His brother had told him to take care and accompany Wei WuXian, although he was not sure why his brother would not do it himself. However, he knew if he allowed Wei WuXian to leave Unclean Realm now, there was no doubt that his brother would yell at him. He would probably yell at himself too for losing his future brother-in-law.

“No, wait. Wei-xiong! You really can’t leave like that, or at least talk to my brother first.”

“I… I don’t think Sect Leader Nie wants to see me now. I am not sure what I have done, but I think he is angry at me…” Wei WuXian said, uncertainty was clearly heard within his voice.

Wei WuXian was trying to walk away again, but Nie HuaiSang was seizing his wrist even tighter than before, “No, Wei-xiong! Please, you really cannot leave like this. My brother will kill me!”

Wei WuXian laughed lightly, “You really love to exaggerate, Nie-xiong.”

Nie HuaiSang would like to tell him that he was not exaggerating and he would also like to tell him how important he was to his brother, but Wei WuXian had left Nie HuaiSang’s grasp and started walking away.

“Help me thank Sect Leader Nie for his kindness in letting me stay for a night and I would like to apologize if I have caused any inconvenience to anyone while I was staying here,” Wei WuXian said as he waved to Nie HuaiSang.

“Wei WuXian!” exclaimed Nie HuaiSang, but Wei WuXian did not bother to look back at all. Nie HuaiSang promptly dashed to find his brother. If he could not stop Wei WuXian, then all he needed to do was to find someone who would be able to stop the man.

Chapter Text

Within a few days’ time, the news of the divorce between the newly married couple – Lan WangJi and Wei WuXian had been spread out all around the world. Some thought it was absolutely normal and that it was something bound to happen. After all, who was Wei WuXian to think he could be a good match to Lan WangJi? He was only the Yiling Patriarch, a demonic cultivator while Lan WangJi was a highly respected cultivator, the well-known Hanguang-jun. Lan WangJi must have realized how wrong he was to marry such a man and as soon as he realized his mistake, he had immediately divorced the man.

In Gusu, ever since Wei WuXian left Cloud Recesses, Lan WangJi had locked himself in his room, hiding away from the world as he cried himself to sleep every night. He would play the music – Wangxian repeatedly and every time when he played the music, the memories he spent with the man he loved would come to haunt him again and again.

He remembered the way Wei WuXian cuddled with him, smiled at him, and played a duet with him.

They had been so happy together, where had it gone wrong?

Right…

He remembered it clearly. It had gone wrong the moment he slept with his lover’s brother. He had no one to blame but himself. He had thrown away the happiness he had struggled so long to capture in his hands.

There was no one he could blame.

He was the one who was wrong.

He did not have the right to cry here as if he was suffering, yet he could not stop the never-ending tears because he was really suffering.

Lan XiChen, on the other hand, would visit his younger brother every day, but every time when he saw how sorrowful his younger brother looked, he would just leave him alone and returned to his room instead, trying to figure out if there was a way to help his younger brother.

Today though, he was here standing outside of Jingshi again. With a hand holding a tray of food, he knocked on the door with his other free hand. As expected, there was no response. He turned to look at the food he was holding with one hand. His younger brother had not been eating for days, and today he would need to make sure that his younger brother would at least eat something.

“WangJi, I am coming in,” Lan XiChen announced before he slid the door open and made his way in.

He looked around and found his younger brother curled up in a corner, asleep. Lan XiChen gently placed the tray of food aside before he lifted his younger brother up in his arms and brought him to the bed, extremely careful not to wake him up.

He took one final glance at his younger brother before he turned to leave after taking the tray of food with him. He would have to return later with food when his brother was awake.

Lan QiRen who was standing a few feet away from Jingshi saw his elder nephew coming out with the tray of untouched food. He heaved an exhausted sigh. That merely meant his younger nephew had once again refused to eat.

He was initially glad that his younger nephew decided to separate from the demonic cultivator, but upon seeing how his two nephews looking depressed every day, he just could not bring himself to feel happy about Wei WuXian’s departure. No matter how much he refused to admit it, he knew Wei WuXian was important to Lan WangJi, and Lan XiChen had already treated Wei WuXian like he was his brother. He knew there was nothing he could do or say to comfort his nephews, so he left them alone, hoping that they would get better in time.

In Qinghe, Nie MingJue was preparing to leave Unclean Realm. He was going to search for Wei WuXian and once again invite him back to Unclean Realm. He did not mind if Wei WuXian would not return his feelings. He merely wanted to have him stay by his side so he could protect him and ensure his safety. He made a mistake by allowing him to leave once. He was never a man to repeat the same mistake.

Meanwhile, Nie HuaiSang was sitting in his room, planning for a way to help to get his brother and Wei WuXian together. Now that Wei WuXian had divorced, that meant his elder brother had a chance. He would need to help his elder brother seize this chance so that he could finally have a brother-in-law soon.

In Yunmeng, the sect leader hid in his room as the news traveled into his ears. He knew he was to be blamed for all this. He was the reason for their divorce. He remembered clearly well how his brother had refused to look at him and what type of expression his brother was wearing when he found out the truth.

He looked betrayed, hurt and in pain.

He was the cause of all of it.

He did not want that to happen. One mistake had caused him the loss of his brother.

He cried as he knew there was nothing he could do. He could not revert time, could not pretend the wrongs he did never presented. What hurt even more was that he knew despite all the pain he was feeling at the moment, his brother must have felt a million times worse than him.

In Lanling, Jin GuangShan was smiling in delight. He felt so pleased to know that it seemed luck was with him. He had been worried that Wei WuXian would be getting permanent support from the Gusu Lan sect, and that was why he had a small plan to separate Wei WuXian from the Gusu Lan sect and had Jin GuangYao to carry out the plan. Fortunately, it worked.

Meanwhile, Jin ZiXun was planning to kill the man who he thought had placed the curse on him as he found out the man had no more backup. His cousin brother, Jin ZiXuan promised to help him find out the culprit who had placed the curse on him, but he seemed to be doing nothing important as he spent most of his time with his wife and his son. In that case, he did not need Jin ZiXuan's help at all. He could save himself now. As long as Wei WuXian was dead, the curse on him would be removed.

Jiang YanLi however, was in a totally different situation. She had not gotten any of the news yet because she had been busy taking care of Jin Ling recently along with her husband. Jin Ling tended to throw tampers often, especially at midnight when everyone else was asleep, and it appeared that Jin Ling had been crying so much more than he previously did for the past few days.

Today though, the pair of husband and wife could finally relax a little. Madame Jin had offered to take care of Jin Ling for them while the two could take the chance to get out to breathe in some fresh air. Hand-in-hand, both Jin ZiXuan and Jiang YanLi strolled across the street of Lanling.

“Here, A-Li,” said Jin ZiXuan as he held his wife’s hand in his, guiding her forward.

Jiang YanLi smiled sweetly as she watched how excited her husband looked while they walked together.

Jin ZiXuan had brought her to eat first, in which he had commented that Jiang YanLi’s cooking skill was much better than the cook in the restaurant that they were currently eating at. Jiang YanLi chuckled and told her husband that he should keep his voice down.

After finishing their meal, Jin ZiXuan brought his wife to shop for some accessories and clothes. Jiang YanLi had noticed many people were busy chattering today like something interesting had happened. It sounded like someone had divorced. She had heard it since she was eating at the restaurant with her husband. It seemed everyone was all talking about the same story about someone getting divorced. She did not know who were the two people who had a divorce though. Whoever they were, Jiang YanLi thought they must be someone famous.

“You heard that too?”

“Well, of course! Who would not have heard of something so surprising?”

“Well, it is not that surprising actually…”

“You are right, but that is still too fast in my opinion. I thought perhaps it might at least take a few more months before they decide to get a divorce.”

“Well, what do you expect? Who in their right mind will want to live an eternity with the Yiling Patriarch?”

“But they just got married not too long ago, who would have thought they will divorce so fast?”

Jiang YanLi widened her eyes.

Wait a moment.

Yiling Patriarch? Divorce?

The only Yiling Patriarch that she knew was her brother. No, that was certainly not happening.

Oh gosh!

She hoped that was not what she was thinking. It could not be, because her brother and her brother-in-law were still standing together like a perfect match at her son’s full-month celebration. She stepped forward and approached the two people talking, she had to make things clear or she might not be at ease.

“Excuse me, may I ask who is it that you said had divorced? By Yiling Patriarch, do you mean Wei WuXian?”

“Oh yes. Who else if it is not the Yiling Patriarch Wei WuXian and Hanguang-jun from the Gusu Lan Sect?”

Jiang YanLi staggered backward. Jin ZiXuan was there to catch her and wrapped his wrist around his wife’s waist, balancing his stunned wife.

Jiang YanLi was inarticulate. She could not believe what she had just heard. That was simply not possible at all because her A-Xian…

A-Xian..!

If it was true, she realized she really should stop standing here doing nothing. Her brother needed her. She should be by her brother’s side right now instead of standing in the middle of the street listening to everyone talking about her brother’s divorce like it was something fun to talk about. She turned to walk off at a swift speed, only to be stopped by her husband.

“A-Li, please calm down! Where are you going now?”

“Yunmeng. A-Xian must be feeling so miserable now, I must go find him. He needs me. I am sure he will be at Yunmeng.”

Jin ZiXuan nodded, completely understanding his wife’s anxiety.

“I will bring you there,” offered Jin ZiXuan as he mounted onto his sword with his hands around his wife’s waist. They traveled to Yunmeng at a fast speed because Jin ZiXuan knew just how urgent it was for his wife.

And obviously, it had been so much of a shock when they finally reached Lotus Pier and found Jiang Cheng in his room while Wei WuXian was nowhere to be found. Jiang YanLi walked into Jiang Cheng’s room with her husband following behind, and they came to realize that the room was in a mess. Putting aside that Jiang Cheng was lying half-drunk beside his bed with a hand still holding a jar of wine, there were several empty jars of wine scattered across the room.

“A-Cheng!”

When Jiang Cheng did not even bother to look at her, she went forward and took the jar of wine away from her brother, “Look at me, A-Cheng!”

Jiang Cheng turned to glance at his sister before he turned to another side, looking as if he did not want to see anyone at the moment. If his two guests did not know any better, they would have thought he was the one who had just been divorced.

“A-Cheng, what happened to you? Where is A-Xian?” Jiang YanLi questioned worriedly.

Jiang Cheng remained silent.

“A-Cheng, I have heard that Lan WangJi and A-Xian had divorced. Do you know what happened?”

Once again, Jiang Cheng did not look like he was going to speak at all.

“A-Cheng!”

“A-Jie, Wei WuXian, he – he is not going to come back anymore.”

Jiang YanLi eyed her brother in bemusement, “What do you mean? This is his home.”

Jiang Cheng released a bitter laugh.

Yes, this was his home.

Not only had he destroyed his brother’s relationship with his husband, but he had also thrown his brother out of their home. His brother was homeless now because he was sure his brother would not step into Yunmeng again, not as long as he was still here.

“He does not want to see me,” said Jiang Cheng, his voice hoarse.

Jiang YanLi was perplexed. Her brother was not making any sense at all. Why would Wei WuXian not want to see him? They were brothers and Lotus Pier would forever be his home. She turned to her husband, trying to check if her husband knew anything about what was going on, but Jin ZiXuan merely shrugged. If Jiang YanLi had no idea what was going on, there was no way Jin ZiXuan would know.

 


 

Wei WuXian stepped into Burial Mounds, he looked around and felt a strange sense of loneliness. Despite having to leave Yunmeng and stay at Burial Mounds back then, there was not really a time where he would feel complete loneliness. At the very least, A-Yuan would always jump around him, pulling him and hugging his legs wherever he went. Wen Qing would sometimes nag him while Wen Ning, although he was quiet, would silently stay by Wei WuXian’s side. The other elders would busy themselves with farming and chatting, creating a lively environment within Burial Mounds.

However, everything had changed now. They were all living happily in Cloud Recesses at the moment and he believed Lan WangJi would not chase them out although they had already divorced. Lan WangJi once promised him that he would care for A-Yuan just like he was his son. Wei WuXian hoped he would allow the Wen remnants to live peacefully in Cloud Recesses so as long as they did not harm anyone. Truth to be told, when he agreed to marry Lan WangJi, he never thought he would be coming back here in Burial Mounds again. He thought he would be trapped in Cloud Recesses for the remaining of his life until the day he died. He also thought by marrying into Gusu Lan Sect, he would be able to travel to Yunmeng from time to time. He would be able to visit his old room and spend some time there to have fun annoying Jiang Cheng and then travel to Lanling to visit his Shijie, enjoying the soup she would make for him every time he visited. However, all these merely felt like a dream now. He felt lonely. He had no one now.

He closed his eyes as he remembered the dreadful day where he found out the man who had shared a bed with Lan WangJi was none other than Jiang Cheng. He remembered how he felt his world was crumbling at that time. He could not comprehend what was happening. He could not understand why it was happening. He had no idea what to do with his life anymore, so he did the only thing he could think of.

He ran.

Away from reality.

Away from those people he loved.

Away from the world full of betrayal.

He wanted to run even now, but there was no place for him to run to.

He could feel tears trickling down his cheeks once again. His hand reached for Chenqing that was hung on his waist and he placed it under his lips, playing out the song that he had missed so much.

Wangxian.

He could still remember when the first time he had heard of this song, it was at Xuanwu cave. Back then, he had requested for Lan WangJi to play him a song, and surprisingly enough, Lan WangJi did.

He also remembered how astonished he felt when he knew it was a piece of music composed by Lan WangJi himself and he had named the music as Wangxian. He thought Lan WangJi would only compose music for him, but now… he wondered if he had also composed music for Jiang Cheng.

He would not know.

He would not want to know.

Even now, he could remember clearly well how sincere Lan WangJi looked when he told him he wanted to marry him.

“Wei Ying,” said Lan WangJi as he held Wei WuXian’s hands in his, “Marry me.”

“L-Lan Zhan?!”

“You don’t need to stay in Gusu if you do not wish to. You once said you wanted to travel around the world, night hunting in all different places, and helping out anyone you see in trouble. We can do that even after marriage. I want to stay with you forever and do everything you wish to do with you.”

Wei WuXian was taken aback at the sudden confession.

“How can you not go back to Gusu? That is your home.”

Lan WangJi shook his head, “I will follow you wherever you go. You are my home.”

He thought he was the most blissful man back then, having Lan WangJi, the second master Lan who loved him so much to be his husband.

After that, he had been waiting excitedly for the arrival of their wedding. On their wedding night though, he had found out Lan WangJi had hidden many jars of Emperor’s Smile for him. He was extremely happy and touched back then. He thought such happy days would continue for the rest of his life, but it seemed happiness could not really stay with him for long.

That explained why he was once again back to Burial Mounds, alone.

He no longer had a husband.

He no longer had a home.

Burial Mounds was his home now.

The music had stopped by now. He could not stop the tears trickling down, dampening his face while his lips were trembling so hard that he could no longer produce an accurate note on his flute. He sank to his knees as he grasped his flute tightly with a hand. Knowing that no one would be around to see how miserable he looked at the moment, he wailed out loudly until he felt he no longer had the strength to continue crying, no longer felt the crushing pain in his chest, and no longer felt the sorrowfulness enveloping him.

Chapter Text

Out of boredom, Wei WuXian was playing a few pieces of music with Chenqing when he suddenly heard footsteps approaching. He stood up in an instant and clenched Chenqing, preparing to defend himself in case it was really the Lanling Jin sect disciples who were finally here to try killing him. Frankly speaking, he had been waiting for their arrival.

For the past few days, whenever he was out on the streets of Yiling to get some food for himself, he had noticed a few men tailing him and he could sense that those people were cultivators. Besides the Lanling Jin disciples, he could not think of anyone else who would be waiting for a chance to kill him.

It was definitely not disciples of Qinghe Nie sect, because he felt he was actually on good terms with Nie MingJue who had been taking care of him ever since he and the Wen remnants were invited to Unclean Realm. The Gusu Lan sect and Yunmeng Jiang sect, he would not say he was actually on good terms with these two sects anymore, but it probably would not be bad enough that they were planning to kill him. At the very least, he felt the Gusu Lan sect or just Lan QiRen to be specific, he was probably so happy right now that he had finally left. The old man never liked him and had probably never accepted him as his nephew-in-law in the first place.

Perhaps, Wei WuXian thought, Lan QiRen had always wanted Jiang Cheng to be his nephew-in-law.

The days he had spent alone here in Burial Mounds gave him a lot of time to ruminate on what had happened recently. Jiang Cheng and Lan WangJi – one was a sect leader and another a sect leader’s brother, they were the perfect match. He had been the one to stand in between such a perfect match and it should be great now that everyone was back to their destinated places.

“A-Xian!”

That voice startled him. Such a gentle voice should not be appearing here in a place filled with resentful energies.

He looked out to see Jiang YanLi rushing into Burial Mounds, standing behind her was her husband, Jin ZiXuan. The pair of husband and wife seemed to be searching for something or someone. Wei WuXian promptly rushed out to meet his Shijie, but just before he went out to meet her, he made sure his hair was not too disheveled and that there was no evidence of tears on his face. The last thing that he wanted right now was to make his Shijie worried about him.

“Shijie!” He waved to her and offered her his usual bright smile.

Jiang YanLi felt immediate relief when she finally found her brother. She promptly ran up to her brother and embraced him.

She had been worried that there might be a chance that she might not be able to find her brother even in Burial Mounds, and then she would feel so hopeless because she really had no idea where else her brother would be. However, the fact that her brother would choose to stay at Burial Mounds instead of returning to Lotus Pier hurt her.

Was Lotus Pier not his home?

Something must have happened between her two brothers, that much she was sure. Before she decided to come to Burial Mounds, she had asked Jiang Cheng to come along, but the way he reacted made her suspect that her two brothers must have had another argument again, and this time, it seemed to be worse than their usual arguments.

“A-Cheng, come with me. I am going to Burial Mounds to visit A-Xian.”

For a moment, Jiang Cheng looked horrified like he was suddenly reminded of a terrible memory. He turned away, “I am not going.”

“A-Cheng,” Jiang YanLi tried to tell him again that their brother had just had a divorce, and he needed them more than anything else. Besides, she really did not understand why her brother was acting like this.

In the end, she gave up persuading her brother to come along. There was no time to waste and she was eager to check up on her other brother.

She could not help but wondered just what it was that her two brothers were arguing about again. However, she felt such trivial things could wait. Right now, checking on Wei WuXian was more important than anything else.

“A-Xian, how are you?” asked Jiang YanLi as she caressed her brother’s face.

“I am fine, of course,” said Wei WuXian, smiling.

That was a lie, Jiang YanLi knew it. She could see her brother’s eyes seemed a little swollen and she knew he must have spent most of his days here crying. She could also see how her brother was much thinner than before.

“A-Xian, let’s go back to Lotus Pier,” said Jiang YanLi.

The smile had disappeared from Wei WuXian’s face as soon as he heard the words Lotus Pier. As expected, Jiang YanLi knew something must have happened. The way how Wei WuXian was reacting to returning to Lotus Pier merely helped Jiang YanLi confirmed that he once again had a fight with Jiang Cheng.

“Shijie… I… I don’t want to go back yet,” said Wei WuXian.

He did not think he would ever want to go to Yunmeng again, let alone Lotus Pier. He was not prepared to face Jiang Cheng at all, not now, perhaps not even in the future.

“Then come to Lanling with me,” said Jiang YanLi.

Wei WuXian stared at his Shijie, inarticulate. Was Jiang YanLi trying to get him killed? Jin GuangShan had been waiting for the perfect chance to kill him and if he really entered Lanling, he bet Jin GuangShan would be so delighted that he might even die from laughing too hard.

Wei WuXian heaved a sigh. This was a battle between the Lanling Jin sect and him alone. He would not let them involve Jiang YanLi in this.

“Shijie, I am fine here, really. I feel more comfortable staying here,” said Wei WuXian.

Jiang YanLi felt defeated, but she was not one to give up so easily.

“A-Xuan, you go back first. I am staying here to talk to A-Xian,” said Jiang YanLi. She walked her husband out of the cave and when she was sure they were out of her brother’s sight, she leaned forward and whispered to her husband.

“Bring A-Cheng here, just give him any excuse but you must bring him here.”

Fortunately, her husband nodded in understanding. Jin ZiXuan knew his wife was trying to use this chance to get her two precious brothers to reconcile, so he mounted onto Suihua without wasting another second and headed to Lotus Pier.

After watching her husband left, Jiang YanLi walked back into the Demon Slaughtering Cave and when she was about to take the seat next to her brother, Wei WuXian suddenly pulled her up and stopped her from sitting.

“No, Shijie. It is dirty here. Wait a moment,” said Wei WuXian as he tried to find a cleaner place. Jiang YanLi pulled her brother down to sit with her. The dirt never bothered her, but the sadness in her brother did.

“A-Xian, do you want to tell me about it?” questioned Jiang YanLi.

Wei WuXian stared at her, immediately tensing up as he knew just what Jiang YanLi was referring to. For a short moment, he opened his mouth and looked like he was about to say something, but then he shut his lips tight again and shook his head. Jiang YanLi knew whatever had happened between Lan WangJi and her brother, it must be so terrible that her brother would not want to be reminded of it at all. She embraced her brother tightly, allowing the man to cry in his arms.

And Wei WuXian did.

He embraced Jiang YanLi tightly and tears naturally started trickling down again. That was really a miracle. He had already cried so much for the past few days to the extent that he thought he had already run out of tears, but here he was, crying again. This time though, he was not crying alone. Jiang YanLi was with him and he felt safe within her warm embrace.

It’s fine, Wei WuXian told himself.

At least he still had his Shijie with him. Even if the whole world betrayed him, he knew his Shijie would always stand by his side, believe in him, and support him.

“It’s all right, A-Xian. Cry all you want, Shijie is here.”

Hearing that made him cried even harder than before. Jiang YanLi sat there, stroking her brother’s back and trying her best to comfort him with words while feeling her heart shattering at the sound of her precious brother’s cries. She felt a few drops of tears trickling down her cheeks and she quickly wiped those tears away before continuing to comfort her brother.

She had never heard her brother crying so miserably, and it made her suspect that Lan WangJi must have done something extremely unforgivable to her brother. She regretted allowing Wei WuXian to marry Lan WangJi. She should have insisted that they should take at least a few more years to understand each other before deciding to get married. She had misjudged that Lan WangJi was a man who could bring happiness to her brother.

Jiang YanLi and Wei WuXian had no idea how long they sat there crying and embracing each other. They only managed to separate from each other when Jin ZiXuan came back into Burial Mounds, and Wei WuXian quickly moved out of Jiang YanLi’s embrace and wiped off the evidence that he had been crying.

Wei WuXian thought Jin ZiXuan had returned to bring Jiang YanLi back to Lanling, but it seemed the man was here to invite them for a meal together instead. Wei WuXian was reluctant to go at first, but Jiang YanLi insisted that she was a little hungry and she wanted to eat with him. Wei WuXian clenched Chenqing in a hand and glanced at Jin ZiXuan. He did not want to be seen eating with Jiang YanLi at Yiling because he knew those disciples of the Lanling Jin sect were still looking for a chance to harm him there, and he did not want Jiang YanLi to accidentally got injured because of him. He also did not want to let Jiang YanLi knew that the Lanling Jin sect was targeting him. However, with the sect leader heir with them, he bet those Lanling Jin disciples would not dare to do anything rash so he nodded and followed them to eat.

Jiang YanLi and Wei WuXian walked behind Jin ZiXuan who led them to a restaurant. When they were there, Wei WuXian felt his blood froze. He was not prepared for this.

When Jin ZiXuan had led them to a table, there was a man standing there in his usual purple robes, looking just as shock as Wei WuXian.

“Come, A-Xian,” said Jiang YanLi as he guided Wei WuXian to his seat beside Jiang Cheng.

Jin ZiXuan could already feel that this would be the most awkward meal he would be having throughout his entire life. No one was talking at all. Jiang Cheng was glancing at Wei WuXian from time to time, and it had been so obvious that he was glancing at the man beside him but Wei WuXian ignored him and chose to act like he did not know someone was glancing at him at all. Jin ZiXuan turned to his wife, expecting her to say something soon to break the awkward silence.

Just as when Jin ZiXuan was wondering if he should be the one to start saying something to lighten up the mood, the food had arrived. He heaved a sigh of relief. At least with food on the table, they could all start eating and it would not be so awkward. He could pretend that they were all in Cloud Recesses because speaking while eating was prohibited in Cloud Recesses.

“I have heard the spicy chicken here in Yiling is very famous. A-Cheng, A-Xian, the two of you love meat, have a try first,” said Jiang YanLi, smiling gently at her brothers.

Wei WuXian forced a slight smile on his face before taking the chopsticks placed in front of him and reached for the bowl of chicken. He decided to just simply pick the piece nearest to him, but since he was just sitting beside Jiang Cheng, the piece nearest to him also meant the piece nearest to Jiang Cheng. Both of their chopsticks reached for the same piece and they halted.

Jin ZiXuan scrutinized the two of them stopping at the same piece of meat. Wei WuXian took his chopsticks back and placed them on top of his bowl of rice, leaving the piece of meat for Jiang Cheng to take. However, Jiang Cheng had no intention of taking the piece of meat either as he too, took his chopsticks back and placed them on top of his bowl of rice.

Jiang YanLi took her chopsticks and placed a big piece of meat on each of her brother’s bowl of rice, “A-Cheng, A-Xian, try it.”

Wei WuXian tasted it and smiled, “Delicious.”

Jiang YanLi smiled and turned to Jiang Cheng who was staring at Wei WuXian, “A-Cheng, is it nice?”

“W-What?” Jiang Cheng turned to his sister in a daze for a while before he realized his sister was talking about the spicy chicken and he quickly tasted and answered, “Nice.”

“Shijie, you should try too,” said Wei WuXian as he placed a piece of meat on Jiang YanLi’s bowl.

Jiang YanLi smiled and ate it.

The rest of the meal was eaten in silence. Jiang Cheng quietly ate his meal, not daring to say a word as he occasionally glanced at the man beside him who paid him no attention at all. Jin ZiXuan tried saying something like commenting on how delicious the food was, but both Jiang Cheng and Wei WuXian acted like they did not hear him at all. However, when Jiang YanLi asked them questions, they would still provide an answer. Jiang Cheng kept all his answers as short as possible while Wei WuXian would answer each of the questions with a smile. A fake smile. Jin ZiXuan felt he had lost his appetite as he looked at how Wei WuXian kept on forcing himself to smile.

When they were finally done eating, Jiang Cheng and Wei WuXian left. Jin ZiXuan watched them leaving before he turned to his wife, “Are you sure they will work it out?”

“Of course. I don’t know what have happened, but A-Cheng looks like he will do his best in fixing the problem. They always managed to fix their problems together no matter how mad they were at each other. A-Cheng and A-Xian understand each other and they care for each other a lot.”

Jin ZiXuan was not entirely sure if the problem between the two men could really be resolved so easily because it surely did not seem so from what he could see throughout the meal. Wei WuXian had been avoiding looking at Jiang Cheng the whole time while Jiang Cheng was desperately looking at Wei WuXian, hoping that the man would at least look at him for once. However, seeing how his wife was so confident that the two would work it out, he did not want to upset his wife by commenting that she should not be so sure of the two being able to reconcile successfully. He could only hope that just like what Jiang YanLi had said, they could work it out somehow.

Meanwhile, after leaving the restaurant, Jiang Cheng followed closely behind Wei WuXian in silence. He had tried to stretch his hand forward to try to reach out to his brother for a few times, but he ended up pulling his hand back. He felt he had no right to speak with the man in front of him. He did not have the courage to see the man in front of him look at him with hatred. He stood still, deciding if he should leave the man be when he felt sudden rain pouring at him. He looked at Wei WuXian who was still walking slowly and then he noticed he did not bring Suibian again. If he had no Suibian, he would not be able to fly and get to a safe place to hide from the rain immediately. He promptly ran forward and halted when he was in front of his brother.

“Wei WuXian, I… let me take you back to wherever you want to go.”

“No need,” stated Wei WuXian as he moved to walk away from Jiang Cheng, but Jiang Cheng once again stood in front of him, blocking his path.

“I..!” started Jiang Cheng as he held Wei WuXian’s arm, only to have Wei WuXian struggling and sliding his arm out of Jiang Cheng’s grasp.

Jiang Cheng could only stare down at his hand, feeling hot tears gathering in his eyes.

“Wei WuXian, I know you hate me, but at least let me bring you to somewhere safe first? You can stay at Yunmeng and I promise you will not see me. I will make sure of that.”

“My only home right now is Burial Mounds and you should not be seen being close to me. I am no longer a Yunmeng Jiang disciple, just a certain Yiling Patriarch.”

Jiang Cheng froze at the cold voice speaking to him. He could see and hear Wei WuXian was walking further and further away from him, but he did not stop him. He dared not and he felt he really should not, knowing just how much Wei WuXian hated him and being unwilling to see him at the moment.

There was nothing Jiang Cheng could say. He knew how much Wei WuXian loathed him at the moment. He no longer had the right to worry about him and certainly no longer had the right to call him his brother either. The times they spent at Yunmeng were nothing more than a history right now. Wei WuXian would never laugh with him anymore. They would never have the chance to argue anymore or spend time eating with their dear sister. Jiang Cheng was certain that Wei WuXian would no longer appear where he knew he would be. He knelt on the ground, unbothered by the endless tears trickling down his cheeks as he stared at the empty street ahead of him.

 

Chapter Text

Staring at the empty cave, Nie MingJue felt a growing sense of unease. When he arrived here at Burial Mounds, he thought Wei WuXian had merely gone out to either eat in one of the restaurants or take a walk around Yiling because he was bored. However, after waiting for him for an overly long time, he was starting to feel anxious. He realized he should not be standing here, and doing nothing besides waiting for the man to return. He should get out to find him, but he had no idea where he was.

Would he be at Gusu?

Or Yunmeng?

Most probably no. He did not think Wei WuXian would ever want to visit those two places again.

Where else?

Well, he could not think of any other places. Perhaps he should search around Yiling first. Just when he was about to do so, he saw a man dressed in black robes with a flute hanging at his waist walking into Burial Mounds. He recognized the flute as the infamous Chenqing. The man was drenched, looking exactly like he had been walking in the rain.

Nie MingJue walked toward him and scrutinized his face, trying to get a hint of his expression but saw none. Water was dripping from his hair, face, and robes. He was looking rather pale and when he started swaying, Nie MingJue caught him in his arms, immediately feeling how cold the man was.

Seeing that he was unusually not alone here in his own home, Wei WuXian looked up and finally noticed the Qinghe Nie sect leader had come to visit him.

“Sect Leader Nie is here?” Wei WuXian questioned weakly, his voice hoarse, sounding as though he had either screamed or cried for a long time.

Ignoring the man’s question, Nie Mingjue stated, “Let’s get in first.”

Wei WuXian was brought into the Demon Slaughtering Cave and Nie MingJue had helped him to take a seat on the ground before he placed his palm on the paler man’s forehead, checking his temperature and immediately noticing it was burning up.

“I am going to bring you back to Unclean Realm now,” said Nie MingJue.

Wei WuXian caught Nie MingJue’s arm as he shook his head, “No. I am fine here.”

Nie MingJue was frustrated with this man’s stubbornness. He looked out to see it was still raining outside, so it would not do him any good if he forcefully brought the sick man out now. They could stay here for a while and when the rain stopped, Nie MingJue decided he would bring him back to Unclean Realm immediately even if he might have to deal with an angry Wei WuXian later.

With Wei WuXian’s hand still wrapping weakly around Nie MingJue’s arm, Nie MingJue could feel that Wei WuXian was shivering. Nie MingJue gently pushed Wei WuXian’s hand away so he could completely remove his outer robe and placed it on Wei WuXian. Knowing that it was not enough, he left the younger man’s side and went out of the cave to search for branches.

When he returned to the cave, he placed the branches together near Wei WuXian and threw a fire talisman on it. When he was satisfied with how warm the cave was, he took a closer look at Wei WuXian and noticed the man was already asleep, but he seemed to be shivering even fiercer than before. Nie MingJue pulled him closer and embraced him, hoping that it could warm the younger man up further. He was definitely not taking advantage of a sick man. He was merely trying to keep him warm.

With the cave being filled with silence, Nie MingJue found himself staring down at the man in his arms. The first thing he took notice of was that the man was so much thinner now. As he was embracing him, he could feel his bones clearly.

And all of these were his fault.

It was because he let him left Unclean Realm.

It was because he believed Lan WangJi could give him the happiness that he deserved.

Lan WangJi was the younger brother of Lan XiChen, and the Lan brothers always had a perfect reputation, so he never once thought that Lan WangJi would betray Wei WuXian in such a way. He thought Lan WangJi would treasure Wei WuXian a lot from how Lan XiChen told him that Lan WangJi had been in love with Wei WuXian for a very long time, and that was why he decided to support Wei WuXian to get married to Lan WangJi.

He was wrong.

Therefore, he would not make the same mistake again. He was here to bring him back to Unclean Realm and there would be no one who would be allowed to hurt Wei WuXian as long as he was still alive.

“I will protect you from now on,” he whispered and pulled the man closer to him.

He sat there embracing the man in his arms tightly until he noticed the rain had stopped completely outside, but the man was still sleeping with a rising temperature. Nie MingJue carefully lifted him up and ascended onto Baxia, heading toward Qinghe.

 


 

The next time when Wei WuXian opened up his eyes, he felt absolutely comfortable, nothing like sleeping on the hard and dirty ground of Burial Mounds. He looked around and noticed that he was indeed not at Burial Mounds. He was at Unclean Realm again. He was bewildered as to how he had ended up here again, but he was a little tired so he thought he could sleep for a few more minutes and that was when he felt himself sleeping on something – more like on someone and that someone had a strong arm wrapped around him, embracing him through the night. When he turned to take a look, he was taken aback at the realization of who he was sleeping on.

He jerked up and as he did that, Nie MingJue felt the sudden weight being lifted up of him and opened his eyes to see Wei WuXian staring at him in shock.

“Sect Leader Nie, I am sorry!”

Wei WuXian apologized immediately, feeling his face being covered with cold sweat. He must have been overly mad to even dare to sleep on Nie MingJue. He should be glad that Nie MingJue did not kill him for even daring to touch him, but that did not mean he would not be killing him now!

“Awake? Are you feeling any better?” questioned Nie MingJue.

Wei WuXian was stunned for a moment, surprised with the gentleness within the man’s voice.

“Yes, yes. Thank you for the hospitality again, Sect Leader Nie.”

Wei WuXian was about to apologize for troubling him again when Nie MingJue suddenly stood up.

“Wait for me,” said Nie MingJue before he left the room. Not long later, he returned with a bowl of medicine. With a hand holding the bowl, he used another hand to scoop a spoonful of the medicine, and blew on it gently before approaching the spoon to Wei WuXian’s lips.

Wei WuXian stared at him in shock.

“Drink,” ordered Nie MingJue.

“I… I can drink this myself,” said Wei WuXian as he hurriedly raised his hands to take the bowl from Nie MingJue.

“Don’t move. Just open your mouth,” demanded Nie MingJue. His tone was stern like he would not let him try to move even if he attempted to do so.

Wei WuXian obediently drank the medicine spoon by spoon being fed by Nie MingJue. When he was done drinking the medicine, Nie MingJue put away the bowl and sat near him, his palm reaching up to his forehead to check for his temperature. The gesture was surprisingly gentle, especially given that the man in front of him was actually Nie MingJue, and Wei WuXian suddenly found himself blushing.

“It has lower down a little,” said Nie MingJue after he removed his hand from Wei WuXian’s forehead.

While Wei WuXian still had no idea what he meant by stating that something had lowered down a little, Nie MingJue spoke up again, “I know you don’t have much of an appetite, but you have to eat a little. I will go and get you something to eat.”

When Nie MingJue left, that was only when Wei WuXian realized he was referring to his temperature. He lifted his hand to touch his forehead and noticed his temperature was really higher than usual. It must be from walking in the rain. He heaved a sigh. He got sick so easily now. If it was like before, he would not fall sick even if he stayed in the rain for three days.

Before Wei WuXian could think of anything else, Nie MingJue returned with a bowl of congee in his hand. Nie MingJue advanced to the bed and was about to start feeding Wei WuXian again but Wei WuXian was faster this time. He immediately took the bowl and started eating. He would not dare to allow Nie MingJue to feed him again. The sudden gentleness of the elder man was way too scary and his heart was not very good at taking surprises.

In just a few seconds, Wei WuXian had finished up the bowl of congee and handed the empty bowl to Nie MingJue.

“Get some rest now,” said Nie MingJue as he pushed Wei WuXian down onto the bed and covered him up with a blanket.

Wei WuXian wanted to open his mouth to complain because he just woke up after all. However, after taking the medicine, he suddenly felt a little sleepy again. He obediently closed his eyes and fell asleep. It had been a while since he had a bed to sleep on, so it was making him felt extremely comfortable.

After making sure that the man was finally asleep, Nie MingJue soundlessly walked out and closed the door behind him. Standing outside of the room were Nie HuaiSang and Qing Liang who seemed to be waiting for him to come out.

“How is Wei-xiong?” asked Nie HuaiSang.

“He took medicine and is sleeping now. HuaiSang, help me take care of him for now,” said Nie MingJue before he turned to Qing Liang, “Let’s go.”

Qing Liang and Nie MingJue walked in silence and headed to a place that was suitable for them to start their discussion. Although Wei WuXian was safe now in Unclean Realm, it was no doubt that the other sects were out there, the Jin sect especially, waiting for the perfect chance to kill him. Nie MingJue would certainly not allow that to happen. If there were anyone who wished to harm Wei WuXian, they would have to pass through him first. He was not going to stand here without doing anything as he watched people planning to hurt the man he loved.

“What have you investigated regarding Jin ZiXun?” questioned Nie MingJue.

“About this… Sect Leader Nie, we can’t find a possible man who might put the curse on him. Jin ZiXun has really too many enemies. In Lanling Jin sect itself, besides Jin GuangShan, Madame Jin, Young Master Jin and Young Madame Jin, Jin ZiXun seemed to have offended everyone there. Apart from the Lanling Jin sect, it seemed he had also offended many cultivators from other sects like our sect, Gusu Lan sect, Yunmeng Jiang sect and some other smaller sects.”

Nie MingJue felt a headache coming to him again. This would be troublesome. With the number of enemies Jin ZiXun had, it was really difficult to find out who was the man who had placed the curse on him.

Well, not that it really mattered. Even if they helped Jin ZiXun to find the man who had placed the curse on him, some other cultivators would still find some ways to target Wei WuXian. All he had to do now was protect Wei WuXian from anyone who dared to harm him.

Both Nie MingJue and Qing Liang started discussing the best way to protect Wei WuXian at the moment, and they had both agreed that as long as the man stayed here, even Jin GuangShan would not have the guts to charge into Unclean Realm. However, just in case anyone suddenly grew the courage to do so, they would have to prepare themselves for war. Apart from that, Nie MingJue also decided to order Qing Liang to send a few disciples to Lanling and Burial Mounds, just in case if the Jin sect was really planning on anything, Nie MingJue would be the first to know.

When the discussion was over, Nie MingJue went back to Wei WuXian’s room. He was not going to let him out of his sight again.

He thought the man would be asleep, so he was just planning to check on his temperature before he left him to rest for the night. However, when he was standing outside of the room, he heard two voices speaking and laughing inside. It turned out Nie HuaiSang and Wei WuXian were chattering.

“I envy you so much, Nie-xiong,” Wei WuXian said, “You have such an amazing elder brother who will take care of you whenever you are sick. He is already so nice to me when I am merely an outsider, I am sure he is so much gentler and nicer to you since you are his precious younger brother.”

“Takes care of me when I am sick?” questioned Nie HuaiSang as he tilted his head, remembering just what had happened during the previous time he was sick.

He was resting in his room, feeling too weak to even walk around. Nie MingJue who had heard of his younger brother fallen sick back then rushed to Nie HuaiSang’s room.

Nie MingJue sat by the side of the bed and touched Nie HuaiSang’s forehead, checking his temperature. Nie HuaiSang closed his eyes and felt a little happy that his elder brother was checking on him gently. He saw his elder brother frowned, and for a moment, he was quite sure that his elder brother must be worried about him.

Nie MingJue had opened his mouth to speak. Nie HuaiSang thought his elder brother was going to tell him to rest more, but imagination always differed from reality.

“Do you know why you are sick? Because you are too weak! Now, get up and run 10 laps around the training field,” stated Nie MingJue.

Nie HuaiSang was stupefied.

“Brother, I am a patient?” he questioned. Surely, his elder brother knew that, right?

“That is why you need to get up and sweat. You will feel better after that,” stated Nie MingJue.

Nie HuaiSang wanted to protest, and being his elder brother, Nie MingJue obviously knew his intention.

“If you do not finish 10 laps of running today, from tomorrow onward, you will have to run 20 laps every day.”

Nie HuaiSang did not even know that he still had so much strength in himself, but when he heard his elder brother threatening him, he got up immediately and finished the 10 laps of running around the training field with a speed that he could not even reach when he was not sick. From then on, he dared not fall sick, or at least even if he was sick, he would make sure his elder brother would not know.

Nie HuaiSang heaved a sigh at the torturing memory.

“What is wrong, Nie-xiong?” Wei WuXian questioned, bemused.

“Actually, Wei-xiong,” Nie HuaiSang started, planning to tell Wei WuXian that his elder brother was only gentle and nice to his future husband, but he was interrupted by Nie MingJue walking in, clearing his throat to capture their attention. Nie HuaiSang turned and met his elder brother glaring at him dangerously, hinting for him not to speak nonsense.

Nie HuaiSang stood up immediately and said, “I will be leaving first. Wei-xiong, I will visit you again tomorrow.”

Wei WuXian nodded and watched Nie HuaiSang left.

“It is late. You are sick, rest more,” said Nie MingJue.

“But I already slept a lot,” whined Wei WuXian, “And I am not sleepy anymore.”

“Then, do you want to eat something?” asked Nie MingJue.

Wei WuXian shook his head. He had no appetite for food, but…

“I want wine,” stated Wei WuXian.

“You are sick. No wine,” said Nie MingJue.

Wei WuXian pouted.

The two were silent for a while. Wei WuXian felt bored with nothing else to do. Nie MingJue was thinking hard about what he could do to make Wei WuXian happy at a time like this.

“Oh, right,” Wei WuXian started, “Sect Leader Nie, since I am here, I can perform Cleansing to you.”

Wei WuXian grabbed Chenqing and Nie MingJue stopped him.

“You need to rest. You should not use resentful energy in your current condition,” said Nie MingJue.

Nie MingJue still remembered how surprised he was when Wei WuXian told him he would perform Cleansing for him. He should not be able to do it because he no longer had any spiritual energy in him. However, Wei WuXian had said he could use resentful energy and he would make sure he could perform Cleansing to him just as good as Lan XiChen and Jin GuangYao did.

Wei WuXian managed to do it in the end, and Nie MingJue was amazed.

“I am feeling much better now, don’t worry,” said Wei WuXian as he started to perform Cleansing.

Nie MingJue wanted to stop him, but at the same time, he missed the sound of Chenqing a lot. Hence, he closed his eyes, enjoying the peaceful moment and allowed the sound of Chenqing to fill the room.

Chapter Text

It had been around a week since Nie MingJue brought Wei WuXian back to Unclean Realm from Burial Mounds. Wei WuXian’s fever was long gone, and he wanted to leave the moment he had recovered, but Nie MingJue was always persistently asking for him to stay in Unclean Realm. He did not want to trouble Nie MingJue because he knew the Lanling Jin sect was targeting him. If he continued staying in Unclean Realm, the Lanling Jin sect would start assuming that the Qinghe Nie sect was backing him up and they might regard the Nie sect as their enemies.

He frowned at the thought.

After all, this was his own problem. Nie MingJue had done nothing but helping him out ever since they got to know each other. Thus, although he knew there was nothing that he could do in return to thank Nie MingJue for always helping him out because that man had everything and there was nothing that he could give him given how poor he was, the least he could do was to stop giving him troubles.

He had planned to leave in secret, but Nie MingJue was always around the past few days. Almost as though the man was afraid that he would leave, Nie MingJue had been accompanying him day and night. He would bring food into his room and eat with him. He would also bring him the medicine and watched him until he finished it up. He was staying at Unclean Realm as a guest, but with how Nie MingJue was always by his side, taking care of him and making sure that he was eating and sleeping well, it almost looked like he was the sect leader of Qinghe Nie sect instead of Nie MingJue.

Although it was undeniably true that he was having a great life within Unclean Realm with everything prepared well for him, he was simply not the type of man who could stay locked in a place for such a long time. He had been in Unclean Realm for around a week, which also meant he had not gone anywhere else for around a week. He was feeling too bored and he was in desperate need to go out for a walk.

With his continuous whining, Nie MingJue finally took him out to walk around Qinghe early in the morning and when lunchtime had arrived, the two went into a restaurant in which Nie MingJue ordered a few plates of spicy food and a jar of wine. Wei WuXian grinned when he saw everything displayed before him were his favorites.

Wei WuXian seemed to have enjoyed the meal and Nie MingJue was glad to know that. When it was getting darker, the two walked back to Unclean Realm. Nie MingJue walked Wei WuXian to his room and planned to meet up with Qing Liang after that.

In the previous week, he had ordered Qing Liang to send a few disciples to check on Burial Mounds and Lanling, just in case if anyone, especially the Lanling Jin sect was planning against anything toward Wei WuXian, he would like to be the first to know. He had not been asking Qing Liang regarding what he might have found out as he was accompanying Wei WuXian day and night, afraid that the man would leave in silence. However, now that a week had passed, Wei WuXian was still here so Nie MingJue thought he could leave him for a while and would still be able to find him in Unclean Realm later.

Once he watched Wei WuXian entered his room, he turned to find Qing Liang. As expected, the Lanling Jin sect did really seem to be planning something. Wei WuXian was safe here in Unclean Realm, but if someone surprisingly had the guts to barge in, then he would do anything to protect the man he loved even if it meant a war would be starting soon.

 


 

Nie HuaiSang was spending his time drawing leisurely when Wei WuXian appeared at his door. He looked up in surprise.

“Wei-xiong!” Nie HuaiSang placed down his brush and invited Wei WuXian into his room.

“What brings you here?” asked Nie HuaiSang, smiling at his friend.

“Why? Not welcoming me here?” Wei WuXian laughed lightly.

“Of course not, you can come to find me anytime,” said Nie HuaiSang, grinning.

Wei WuXian laughed, “Are you sure you have that much time to entertain me? Say, you remember the technique I taught you before I left? Is there any progress?”

Nie HuaiSang felt himself sweating. He suddenly wondered if Wei WuXian was here to visit him as a friend or as a spy of his elder brother.

“Yes, of course,” said Nie HuaiSang.

Seeing his expression, Wei WuXian doubted if he was answering honestly and he raised an eyebrow at his friend, “Did you even practice?”

“I did!” said Nie HuaiSang, pouting, “But I am not a genius like you! I need a lot more time compared to you.”

Wei WuXian heaved a sigh, seemingly getting the point, “Please, for your brother’s sake, do your best. You know, your brother really loves you a lot although he might seem extremely harsh and strict toward you.”

“I know,” said Nie HuaiSang.

Wei WuXian patted his shoulder and turned, “Well, I am tired. I am going to sleep now, so I will be leaving first.”

After watching Wei WuXian left, Nie HuaiSang turned to look at his half-drawn paper and suddenly lost the motivation to continue drawing. He slid open his fan and heaved a sigh. Wei WuXian was right. He had to work harder, if not for himself, then he should do it for his brother’s sake.

After Wei WuXian left Nie HuaiSang’s room, he did not go straight to his own room. He strolled around Unclean Realm, deciding he should enjoy the night sceneries while he still had the chance. Fortunately, he met no one while he was walking around. When he noticed it was already late at night and it seemed everyone was most probably asleep, he returned to his room.

Once he reached his room, he started writing down a few words on a blank piece of paper. Although he enjoyed his time here, he knew he had to leave eventually. If he had to leave somehow, it was better to leave earlier. He had been waiting for the time where everyone would most probably be asleep so that he could leave in silence and no one would be able to stop him.

When he was done writing, he scanned it through again to make sure everything sounded right. He needed to make sure that he had expressed his gratitude well enough through his words. When he deemed it right, he stood up and turned around, deciding to look around the room which he had been staying in since the first time he came to Unclean Realm for one last time.

There were lots of memories gathered in this room. In this room, there were memories of Nie MingJue chattering and drinking Emperor’s Smile with him, A-Yuan clinging to him and requesting to sleep with him before the Wen remnants went to Cloud Recesses with him, and Nie HuaiSang sometimes coming into his room joking and laughing with him. He smiled at those warm memories. He surely had lots of beautiful memories in Unclean Realm, but he knew he could not stay here forever. He turned and the smile on him immediately disappeared. He clenched Chenqing tightly before he opened the door and left the room, and then walking out of Unclean Realm in silence, leaving nothing but a single letter behind for Nie MingJue.

Sect Leader Nie,

Thank you for your care these past few days. However, I have to leave. As you may have already known, the Lanling Jin sect is targeting me, I cannot stay here to continue troubling your sect. You have done enough for me and the last thing I wished is to involve you and your sect in my problems.

Take care.

-Wei WuXian

 


 

Lan XiChen was distressed. It had been exhausting enough with what had been happening recently and dealing with Wen Qing right now was taking more energy than he had expected.

“Sect Leader Lan, you should have told us. What right do we even have to be here when Wei WuXian has already left?”

Just when she was talking with her nephew a moment ago, she overheard a few Lan disciples who passed by and that was when she learned of Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi had announced their divorce. She was furious at first because how could Wei WuXian just leave them here when he had already left Cloud Recesses?

However, the anger she felt was soon replaced by worries. Wen Qing was worried for the man. He must have been in so much pain now, and she regretted not being there to comfort him. When they were at Burial Mounds and sometimes when Wen Qing found the man missing his family or stressing over needing to be stronger to protect them, she was the one who was there to comfort him. Wei WuXian was like a brother to him and she could see Wei WuXian saw her as another sister of his too.

She hoped now that she was not there, at least the Jiangs should be there to comfort him. She could see that both Jiang YanLi and Jiang Cheng cared for Wei WuXian very much. If even she had heard of the news, she was sure the Jiang siblings should have heard of it much earlier than she did. Apart from the Jiang siblings, she could almost be sure that someone else out there would be at Wei WuXian’s side and that man would not let anyone hurt Wei WuXian.

“Sect Leader Nie,” said Wen Qing suddenly, “Does Sect Leader Nie know about this?”

Lan XiChen was bewildered. What did his elder sworn brother have anything to do with this?

“Most probably,” answered Lan XiChen. He doubted if there was anyone – any cultivators out there who had not heard of the news. Once his brother-in-law had left – or to be precise, his ex-brother-in-law, the news of the divorce had been spread out in many places and he knew many of the Lan disciples had broken the rule by gossiping about the divorce, but he did not have the time to deal with those people with a heartbroken brother and a furious uncle left for him to deal with, and now with the addition of the Wen remnants who were preparing to leave Cloud Recesses.

“Since Wei WuXian already left, we will be leaving too,” declared Wen Qing.

“Wait a moment,” said Lan XiChen as he did his best to stop Wen Qing and those standing behind her to move another step forward. He could not let them leave yet in case his brother really did manage to bring Wei WuXian back.

“Please Maiden Wen. Please give my younger brother another chance, he is on his way to bring WuXian back.”

Wen Qing looked hesitant but agreed to wait for another while longer after Lan XiChen had explained that Lan WangJi loved Wei WuXian a lot and he was on his way to beg Wei WuXian to forgive him and return to Cloud Recesses together.

Wen Qing frowned. She had heard the reason for the divorce was Wei WuXian could not live with the three thousand rules in Cloud Recesses. She doubted that it was true, and after listening to what Lan XiChen had just said, it merely confirmed her doubts.

“Why did they divorce in the first place?” questioned Wen Qing.

Lan XiChen tensed up when he heard the question. That was one of the questions that he wished he could avoid answering because he really could not bring himself to tell anyone just what his younger brother had done. Frankly speaking, even until now, he still could not believe that his brother and Sect Leader Jiang – they had…

Noticing his distress, Wen Qing heaved a sigh and said, “Fine. We will wait for Hanguang-jun to return.”

Lan XiChen finally felt slightly relieved. At least, he could stop dealing with Wen Qing for now. Believe it or not, he had realized Wen Qing was not a woman one would dare offend, and it was really not that easy to deal with her even if he was the Gusu Lan sect leader and the well-respected Zewu-jun.

When he heard Wen Qing informing the Wen remnants that they would wait for Lan WangJi to return before deciding if they should really leave, Lan XiChen turned to stare at the sky. He was reminded of the day where he went into Jingshi again to check on his younger brother who was as usual on the ground, crying while playing the music he had composed for his ex-husband.

“WangJi.”

“Brother.”

It pained him to hear his younger brother’s voice covered with pain.

Lan XiChen embraced his brother and allowed the broken man to cry as much as he wanted.

“WangJi, go find him. Tell him what happened and beg for his forgiveness.”

Beg for his forgiveness – that was what Lan XiChen had said, but he was not completely sure if his younger brother would be forgiven at all. WangJi… as much as he did not want to admit it, but there was really no denying that his brother had committed a grave mistake. If only the other man was not the sect leader of the Yunmeng Jiang sect, he felt his ex-brother-in-law could still find it in his heart to be able to forgive his younger brother.

“WangJi,” he murmured as he stared at the sky, “I hope you can really bring WuXian back.”

Chapter Text

To say that Jiang YanLi was upset was an understatement. She was clearly more than just upset. She was so confident that her two precious brothers would have reconciled by now, but when she went to Lotus Pier to visit them, expecting her two brothers to be bickering like usual but she had found out that nothing had changed since before all of them met up and ate together in Yiling.

Wei WuXian was not in Lotus Pier. He was not even seen anywhere in Yunmeng.

Jiang Cheng, on the other hand, had locked himself in his room.

Jiang YanLi was bewildered. She had no idea what could have happened between her two brothers that it was stopping them to reconcile. She questioned Jiang Cheng about it, but he refused to give her a direct answer. All he ever told her was that Wei WuXian hated him and as long as he was in Yunmeng, Wei WuXian would never step into Yunmeng again.

Jiang YanLi doubted Jiang Cheng’s words were true. After all, she knew her two brothers loved each other very much. She could not think of anything that Jiang Cheng could have done to make Wei WuXian hate him so much to the extent that he would never ever want to see him again. Perhaps, it was just a misunderstanding. If Jiang Cheng would not tell her what was the problem, she thought perhaps she could get some clue from Wei WuXian, and that was why she was here in Burial Mounds with her husband beside her.

As she walked into Burial Mounds, she felt extremely upset that her brother would choose to live in such a place instead of returning home. She was starting to wonder if it was really as what Jiang Cheng had said, that there were no misunderstandings and Wei WuXian really hated Jiang Cheng, but that could not be, right? They were brothers – close brothers despite the fact that they were not blood-related.

However, she had been thinking a lot and was trying to figure out what might have happened between her two brothers when she was traveling from Yunmeng to Yiling with her husband, yet she still had no idea why her brothers could not reconcile with each other like the good old days. Something must have gone wrong, and she promised herself that she would find a way to investigate the truth behind their quarrel.

At the moment, what was more important was for her to make sure that her precious A-Xian would at least eat healthily, and perhaps as she spent some time alone with him, he would eventually tell her what exactly happened. Besides the issue with A-Cheng, she would also like to know what made her brother and Lan WangJi divorced. They loved each other so much. How did it result in divorce in such a short time?

As she approached the Demon Slaughtering Cave in which she knew her brother would usually sleep in, she could hear people arguing inside. One of the voices definitely belonged to her brother. Jiang YanLi and Jin ZiXuan looked at each other, puzzled as they were unsure of what was happening within the cave. Jin ZiXuan then pulled his wife toward him, deciding that they should hide their presence and not interrupt the argument going on between Wei WuXian and another man. They both bent forward to take a look at who the other man in the cave was, and to their surprise, it was Lan WangJi.

Wei WuXian was on the ground, tears were streaming down his cheeks. Lan WangJi on the other hand, had tears welling up in his eyes. He was standing close to Wei WuXian, his hands stretched out like he was trying to help Wei WuXian to stand.

“Get out! Get out!” Jiang YanLi could hear her brother screaming.

Lan WangJi froze. He moved his hands away from Wei WuXian, knowing just how much his ex-husband did not want to be touched by him.

“Wei Ying, I…”

“How can I forgive you and pretend as if nothing has happened? It was Jiang Cheng!”

Jiang YanLi frowned.

Did the reason the two decided to divorce was because of her other brother?

Could it be that Lan WangJi and A-Cheng had an argument and A-Xian had decided to stand on A-Cheng’s side?

Nothing made much sense here.

“Why? If you are going to cheat on me, why don’t you go somewhere further? Why can’t you choose someone I do not know? Why of all people must the other man be Jiang Cheng?!”

Jiang YanLi widened her eyes upon hearing that, because… that could not be true, right? Her A-Cheng would never do that. Jin ZiXuan who was silently listening beside his wife all the while knew his wife must be so shocked right now, but he could not find any words to comfort her. After all, he was just as shocked as her. He would find it easier to believe it if someone told him that Wei WuXian or Jiang Cheng was the one who had cheated on their other half instead.

But Lan WangJi?

He was so sure that if anyone heard this, they would only say it was absurd. Lan WangJi was well-known for being a gentleman of complete integrity. He would never lie or do anything that was immoral. It was against his sect rules after all. He could never imagine that Lan WangJi would be cheating with his husband’s brother. That merely sounded too ridiculous, but as he heard and saw Wei WuXian screaming and crying out in pain, he could no longer deny the truth of what he was hearing, or eavesdropping in this case.

“Wei Ying, I… please believe me. It was all an accident,” said Lan WangJi as he grabbed Wei WuXian’s shoulders, only to be pushed away.

“Accident, you say? Can you please tell me just what type of accident brought you to sleep with another man on the exact same bed that we shared every night?”

Lan WangJi opened his mouth, he wanted to explain everything clearly to him. He needed to do his best to explain because he did not want a divorce. He loved Wei Ying so much that it would feel meaningless if he was not by his side. They had gone through so much before finally being able to get married. He knew all of these were his faults – he had no one else to blame besides himself regarding the divorce but he wanted to try his best to hold on to their marriage.

“No!” exclaimed Wei WuXian, “I do not wish to listen to any of what you are trying to say. I have no idea when you are speaking the truth anymore. I don’t even know if you have had sex with Jiang Cheng only once, twice, or maybe more than that? Did you two start out before or after we got married? If you are in love with Jiang Cheng, why did you not marry him? Why marry me and make me so miserable now? Why?! I don’t understand a single thing! I do not ever want to see you again! Every time I see you, the only thing that I can think of is the image of you and Jiang Cheng on our bed… on the bed that I used to think that only belonged to the two of us..!”

Jiang YanLi widened her eyes as she dropped herself onto the ground. Jin ZiXuan wrapped his arms around her, trying his best to comfort his wife. As the pair of husband and wife saw Lan WangJi about to step out of the cave, tears visible on his face, Jin ZiXuan helped his wife to walk further behind so they would not be spotted by Lan WangJi.

“I am sorry,” Lan WangJi said with trembling lips before he started walking out of Burial Mounds, a few drops of tears were seen trickling down his cheeks.

Jin ZiXuan watched the man left and when he was sure that the man was finally out of Burial Mounds, he released his hold on his wife and his wife immediately fell onto the ground again. Jin ZiXuan embraced his wife and gave her some time to cry out. The piece of new information that they had just gathered was like a bolt from the blue even for him, let alone his wife who doted on her two brothers and cared for them more than anything else in the world.

“Why..? How..?”

Jiang YanLi could not understand how did it come to such a turn of events. She finally understood why her two brothers could not reconcile with each other like the good old days. She finally understood why did A-Xian and A-Cheng look so surprised and awkward when she had made them meet each other for a meal together previously in Yiling. A-Xian must have been feeling so sorrowful that day, yet he still forced out a few smiles for her sake. She could only hope her brother was not starting to hate her too.

After hearing out what had happened, she realized Jiang Cheng was right. Wei WuXian would never return to Lotus Pier, not when Jiang Cheng was there. She thought finding out the problem between her two brothers would solve everything, but she realized now nothing could be solved. She could feel her heart clenched when she imagined Wei WuXian finding out that Lan WangJi had been sharing a bed with Jiang Cheng. That must have hurt a lot because even Jiang YanLi was feeling so much pain from hearing it, so she was sure her brother must be hurting a lot more compared to what she was feeling at the moment.

Tears were streaming down her cheeks uncontrollably, and she did not seem to think that there was a way to stop this continuous flow of tears, at least not until she told herself to calm down and that was when she heard someone wailing within the cave.

Her brother.

Her poor brother was crying all alone. She realized she had to stay strong and she had a more important thing to do. She stood up and wiped her tears away.

“A-Xuan,” Jiang YanLi said, “I will be staying here to accompany A-Xian.”

“I will stay here with you,” said Jin ZiXuan, but Jiang YanLi shook her head. Jin ZiXuan understood that the two needed some time alone and nodded before he left.

Jiang YanLi walked into the cave and slowly approached her brother. Sensing that he had another visitor, he looked up and widened his eyes to see Jiang YanLi standing there. Wei WuXian was about to quickly wipe his tears away when he felt Jiang YanLi embraced him.

“I am sorry. I am sorry, A-Xian. I did not know…” said Jiang YanLi.

Wei WuXian widened his eyes, “Shijie, you… heard?”

Jiang YanLi closed her eyes and let a few drops of tears trickled down her cheeks before she answered, “Yes.”

Wei WuXian felt himself tensing up, “Shijie, I am sorry! Please don’t be angry at me. I really did not know that Lan Zhan and Jiang Cheng are together. If I have known, I would never get married to him.”

Jiang YanLi froze. She felt more tears trickling down when she noticed her brother was afraid that she would blame him.

“A-Xian, what are you saying? This is not your fault!”

“But I… if not for me, the one who had gotten married would be your brother, Jiang Cheng. Shijie, are you not going to blame me?”

“You are my brother too!” Jiang YanLi said, feeling her heart clenched tightly at how her brother was worried that she would blame him when he had clearly done nothing wrong and he was the one who was in the most pain now.

“I…” Wei WuXian started, but his voice soon trailed off. He had no idea what he wanted to say.

“It is not your fault, A-Xian. Please don’t blame yourself, it hurts me seeing you think that it’s your fault when you are clearly the one getting hurt. I am sorry I was not here to accompany you before, but I am here now. A-Xian, Shijie is here.”

Tears were trickling down Wei WuXian's cheeks again as he started to sob and embrace Jiang YanLi tighter. He no longer needed to hide this from his Shijie. At least, he could finally openly cry out his pain within the warm embrace of his Shijie.

“Shijie, I miss him! I love Lan Zhan so much!”

Jiang YanLi patted her brother’s head as she felt herself crying with him.

“I love him. I love him. I love Lan Zhan so much. Shijie, please tell me what I should do. I do not know what I am supposed to do,” Wei WuXian said brokenly.

Together, they shed tears until Wei WuXian cried himself to sleep. Jiang YanLi placed her brother’s head down on her lap to make him feel more comfortable.

 


 

Wei WuXian had no idea how many hours had passed, but when he woke up, he noticed he had fallen asleep on his Shijie’s lap, and his Shijie had also fallen asleep while sitting and had her head leaned against a rock by the side. She must have been so exhausted.

Wei WuXian carefully and silently stood up, making sure not to wake Jiang YanLi up before he gently carried her in his arms and walked out of Burial Mounds. He was thinking of renting a horse so he could bring her back to Lanling since he could not fly on his sword anymore, and walking all the way to Lanling was definitely out of the question. It would take too long for him to do it.

“Wei WuXian!”

He turned back to see Jin ZiXuan walking toward him.

“Jin ZiXuan?” Wei WuXian questioned, surprised that the man would appear in Yiling.

“Where are you planning to bring A-Li to?” asked Jin ZiXuan.

“Shijie is asleep. I thought of bringing her back to Lanling, but now that you are here, you can take her back,” said Wei WuXian as he carefully transferred Jiang YanLi to Jin ZiXuan’s strong arms and reluctantly left his hands off his Shijie.

“Speaking of which, what are you doing here?” asked Wei WuXian.

“I… I heard A-Li came here, so I thought of coming here to pick her up. I have just reached Yiling and then, fortunately, bumped into you,” stated Jin ZiXuan.

Wei WuXian nodded in understanding, completely unaware that Jin ZiXuan was lying.

“Next time, do not let Shijie come here anymore. This is not a place that she should be coming to,” said Wei WuXian.

Jin ZiXuan looked at him in shock. He could feel his wife trembling slightly in her arms, and he immediately knew that his wife was awake now and she must have heard it as clear as a bell.

Jin ZiXuan narrowed his eyes at Wei WuXian, enraged, “Wei WuXian, what do you mean?”

He knew Wei WuXian was not in a good mood and was most probably angry at Jiang Cheng for ruining his marriage, but that had nothing to do with Jiang YanLi. He should not start hating Jiang YanLi too just because she was the elder sister of Jiang Cheng.

Wei WuXian on the other hand had failed to realize that his words had caused a misunderstanding. He did not want Jiang YanLi to come to Burial Mounds again because it was dangerous. After all, the Lanling Jin sect was targeting him. He would not be able to forgive himself if anything were to happen to Jiang YanLi while she was visiting him. Apart from that, Burial Mounds was filled with resentful energies. It was not a place suitable to be visited at all.

“I will trust you to protect Shijie,” said Wei WuXian before he took one last look at Jiang YanLi and turned to walk back to Burial Mounds.

Jin ZiXuan placed his wife down to stand on her own as she watched Wei WuXian's receding figure. Tears were streaming down her cheeks as the voice of her brother stating that he did not want to see her in Burial Mounds again rang in her ears.

She was not welcomed here.

Her brother did not want to see her, and it broke her heart. She turned to her husband and wrapped her arms around him.

“A-Xuan, does A-Xian hates me now? What should I do?” Jiang YanLi questioned as she continued crying.

Jin ZiXuan rubbed his wife’s back in circles, trying to comfort her as he said, “A-Li, it will be fine. I am sure he does not hate you, he is just... he is just not in a good mood.”

Jiang YanLi did not know if her husband was speaking the truth, but she really hoped he was.

Chapter Text

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.

Wait what?

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.

Lan WangJi.

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.”

Chapter Text

The day after Nie MingJue had declared that he would return to stay in Burial Mounds permanently after he was done passing his responsibilities to his younger brother, a Nie disciple came to Burial Mounds to deliver food to Wei WuXian early in the morning. Wei WuXian was happy to have a free meal, but to his surprise, the same Nie disciple came to deliver him food for lunch and dinner too. Wei WuXian was certainly delighted to have free meals for one whole day, but when the same Nie disciple came to deliver food to him again on the next day, he was starting to get worried.

What if Nie MingJue really decided to come to Burial Mounds and stay here with him permanently?

If that happened, he was guessing that it was not only the Lanling Jin sect who wanted his head. All the cultivators out there would come to Burial Mounds and start demanding for him to hand over Chifeng-zun, as well as to stop corrupting and bringing down anyone with him. Nie HuaiSang might probably bring along all the Nie disciples and declared war against him for daring to kidnap their sect leader.

He heaved a sigh as he continued to enjoy drinking the Emperor’s Smile that had been given to him by the Nie disciple who came to deliver food.

Now that he thought about it, where did Nie MingJue get so many jars of Emperor’s Smile to give him? Emperor’s Smile was only sold in Gusu. He wondered if Nie MingJue had his disciples to go all the way to Gusu to purchase the wine.

He was still enjoying his wine when he suddenly sensed someone else’s presence within Burial Mounds. He turned just in time to see a man in his white robes standing at the entrance of the Demon-Slaughtering Cave with one hand holding a basket of food while another hand holding a jar of Emperor’s Smile.

“WuXian,” the man’s voice was as gentle as it had ever been.

“XiChen-ge!” Wei WuXian quickly stood up, astonished to have Lan XiChen out of all people to visit him but then he was suddenly remembered that he was no longer the man’s brother-in-law so he had to greet him formally and he quickly corrected himself, “Zewu-jun.”

Lan XiChen was initially smiling at Wei WuXian but when he heard his ex-brother-in-law changed his way of addressing him, the smile on his face vanished.

Lan XiChen sounded a little unhappy when he said, “I prefer it if you continue to call me Xichen-ge.”

“But…” Wei WuXian started while Lan XiChen walked up to him and patted his head lightly, “No matter what happened between you and WangJi, you will still be like a younger brother to me.”

Wei WuXian widened his eyes and stared at Lan XiChen before he smiled, “Thank you, XiChen-ge.”

Lan XiChen smiled and said, “All right, I have brought food for you, and there is your favorite wine too.”

“It smells so nice, thank you XiChen-ge!”

Lan XiChen smiled at Wei WuXian who was eagerly looking at the food and wine he had brought, but as he took another closer look, he noticed the man was already eating before his arrival. There were also a jar of Emperor’s Smile and a few plates of spicy food on the table. Wei WuXian saw the look on Lan XiChen and he looked back at the food he had been eating previously.

“This is –”

“I am glad you have been eating well,” said Lan XiChen.

Wei WuXian was about to tell the man that it was all brought here by Nie MingJue, but seeing that Lan XiChen did not seem to care at all where he got all the food from, he remained silent and continued eating.

“XiChen-ge, you did not come here just to deliver this delicious meal to me, right?”

Lan XiChen turned to him, his face suddenly solemn and a hint of sadness was displayed across his face. He placed his right hand into his robe to take out an envelope and gave it to Wei WuXian.

It was a divorce letter from Lan WangJi.

As soon as he saw that, he stopped eating immediately and placed his chopsticks down. Whatever appetite possessing him previously was all gone now. He took the letter with his slightly trembling fingers, only to be stopped by Lan XiChen who caught his wrist and stopped him from taking the letter away.

“WuXian, you and WangJi… is there really no turning back..?”

Wei WuXian merely offered Lan XiChen a forced smile. Lan XiChen understood that there was really no turning back. It was no doubt that his brother was at fault here. Thinking back, the wedding felt like it had only happened yesterday. He had imagined that the two of them would love each other, cultivate together, eat together, sleep together, and do everything else in the world together until one or both of them died.

None of these would be happening anymore, all because of a single mistake.

He would like to believe that this was the fault of the wine, not his brother.

Because of one single mistake caused by the wine, he lost a good brother-in-law and he was sure he would never be able to get a brother-in-law again judging from how he felt his brother would never fall in love again.

 


 

Jin ZiXuan wrapped his arm around Jiang YanLi’s waist as they flew on Suihua and headed to Yiling. His wife wanted to leave immediately and travel to Yiling once she was done speaking with Lan WangJi back in Gusu, but Jin ZiXuan could see that his wife was clearly exhausted and he insisted that they should spend a day resting by renting a room in an inn at Gusu. Fortunately, Jiang YanLi compromised with his request but once she woke up, she insisted to go to Yiling immediately so she could visit her brother as soon as possible.

When they reached Yiling, Jin ZiXuan brought his wife down from Suihua. The moment they were on the ground, he frowned as he took a closer look at his wife. Jiang YanLi still looked exhausted. He really hoped he could think of a way to help his wife out, but he had no idea what could be done to make his wife’s brothers forget the past and reconcile with each other as if they had never been fighting for the same man in the first place.

“A-Li, you have been rushing here and there recently and you look extremely exhausted. What about we have a rest first?” questioned Jin ZiXuan.

First, they were at Yunmeng in which Jiang YanLi had stayed there to take care of her brother. Without resting much, Jiang YanLi then went to Gusu to speak to Lan WangJi who was the cause of both of Jiang YanLi's brothers' broken relationship. After leaving Gusu, she had only rested a little in an inn before rushing to Yiling. Jin ZiXuan was worried about his wife. He was fine with it (although he was feeling a little exhausted too), and he was willing to accompany his wife to do whatever she wanted. However, it really worried him to see his wife looking so exhausted.

Jiang YanLi shook her head, “We are already in Yiling and we will be able to reach Burial Mounds soon if we walk faster. I need to check on A-Xian and makes sure he eats healthily.”

Jin ZiXuan frowned. His wife was surely looking a little pale from the recent exhaustion, or perhaps it might also be caused by worrying too much about the broken relationship between her two brothers. As he was thinking of a way to help his wife out, he suddenly felt himself falling as though he had been pushed. When he looked up, he saw a sword rushing forward in his direction. Before the sword could reach him, Jiang YanLi rushed to him and stood in front of him.

Everything happened within a blink of an eye, and he could only stare in shock. He felt the world had stopped when he saw his wife dropping down onto the hard ground, blood gushing out and soaking the ground in red in an instant.

“A-Li!” Jin ZiXuan screamed as he dashed to his wife and placed her in his arms. He could feel his hands trembling and tears were streaming down his cheeks as he scrutinized the wound. The sword was stabbed right into his wife’s heart.

“A-Li, no! Don’t leave me! You can’t die like this! I need you! I love you!” Jin ZiXuan screamed and Jiang YanLi could only stare at her husband in silence. She looked like she wanted to say something, but no words seemed to be able to escape her lips. Seeing that his wife was starting to have difficulty breathing, Jin ZiXuan only cried harder and his tears started to fall onto his wife’s face.

Jiang YanLi raised a trembling hand, trying to reach up to her husband’s face and Jin ZiXuan, upon seeing that, grabbed her hand. Seeing that his wife was trying to say something again, he quickly asked, “A-Li, what do you want to tell me?”

“…xian…”

Jin ZiXuan was bewildered. He was about to ask her what she was trying to say but he was left completely stunned when he felt his wife’s hand slipped down from his hold and fell onto the ground. He looked down and saw his wife’s eyes were closed. He shook her gently but there was no movement coming from his wife.

His wife had died.

Ignoring the tears streaming down his cheeks, he embraced his wife and screamed, “A-Li!”

 


 

“XiChen-ge, I… actually, I have a request, but you can reject it if it is too troublesome,” said Wei WuXian.

Lan XiChen scrutinized Wei WuXian’s expression and he could already guess what he was having in mind. After all, this man had always been worrying about other people when his situation was obviously more worrisome.

“You want to talk to me about the Wens, right?” asked Lan XiChen.

Wei WuXian nodded, “XiChen-ge, Wen Qing and the others really have not participated in the war before. They have never even killed anyone in their entire life. And also, there is A-Yuan. He is still so young and it is important for him to have a better life. I know I might be asking too much, but I really hope the Gusu Lan sect can continue to shelter them. However, I know that whoever who protects them might be a known enemy to the other sects, so if Gusu Lan sect is unwilling to do so, I understand and will personally go to Cloud Recesses to bring them back to Burial Mounds.”

Lan XiChen was silent as he stared at the man before him. He could not help but think that this man was the so-called Yiling Patriarch, a man who everyone else called him evil now, but in actual fact, all this man had ever done was protect the innocents. He should not be misunderstood by all the cultivators out there. He felt if anyone in this world should be called evil, it should be them who killed all the Wens mercilessly without considering if those they killed were really as evil as they thought of them to be. Just thinking about it made him felt ashamed, but it was certainly no use to be feeling remorse now.

“WuXian, we understand that Wen Qing and the others have done nothing wrong so I have no problem allowing them to stay in Cloud Recesses and I can promise you that I will not let the other sects harm them. However, Wen Qing and the others are very worried about you and told me that if you are not there, they should not stay in Cloud Recesses too,” said Lan XiChen.

When Lan XiChen saw that Wei WuXian was frowning, he continued, “WuXian, what about you come back to Cloud Recesses with me? I know WangJi and you cannot go back to how it was, but you can come and stay with Wen Qing and the others in the guest rooms. If you do not wish to see WangJi, I can also make sure that the two of you will not be meeting each other within Cloud Recesses.”

Wei WuXian was very surprised with the generous offer, but he shook his head and offered Lan XiChen a smile, “Thank you, XiChen-ge, but there is no need to worry about me. I am fine with staying here in Burial Mounds.”

Lan XiChen was obviously not convinced. There was certainly nothing good with staying in Burial Mounds with the place being surrounded by resentful energy and all. However, he understood that Wei WuXian would not want to return to Cloud Recesses because the place was now filled with bad memories for him. After all, it was a place that reminded him of how his ex-husband and brother had betrayed him.

“Then what about –”

Before Lan XiChen could finish speaking, a Lan disciple came rushing into the Demon-Slaughtering Cave and whispered a few words to him. Lan XiChen widened his eyes in shock and turned to Wei WuXian, looking like he was struggling to speak. 

Although Wei WuXian did not know what had happened, he could see that whatever the Lan disciple had told Lan XiChen was something extremely serious and needed to be handled immediately.

“XiChen-ge, if there is something you need to take care of, please feel free to do so immediately,” said Wei WuXian.

Lan XiChen nodded solemnly before he stood up and said, “I will leave first.”

Lan XiChen turned to walk out of the cave but when he was at the entrance of the cave, he looked as though he had suddenly thought of something before he turned to Wei WuXian and said, “WuXian, I will come back to talk to you in a few days’ time.”

Wei WuXian nodded and watched Lan XiChen and the other Lan disciple left. Once they were completely out of sight within Burial Mounds, Wei WuXian sat down and stared at the divorce letter. Seeing the divorce letter, he could not help but think that with this, his relationship with Lan WangJi had officially ended.

 


 

Nie HuaiSang was still having trouble comprehending what was happening. All he knew was that his brother went to Burial Mounds to get Wei WuXian back a few days ago, and then he just suddenly came back alone, announcing that Nie HuaiSang would be the official new sect leader in a few days’ time. In these few days that he was here, he had been making all the necessary preparation for Nie HuaiSang to take over his place as the next sect leader.

Being Nie HuaiSang, he obviously refused to be the next sect leader. He did not understand why his brother would abandon everything here to live in the Burial Mounds with Wei WuXian. Would staying in Unclean Realm not be better than staying in Burial Mounds? Why did his brother not bring Wei WuXian back and decided to stay in Burial Mounds with him instead? He had so many questions to ask, but he had no time to ask Nie MingJue at all because his elder brother was either discussing things with Qing Liang or ordering Nie HuaiSang to listen to him without talking back as he told him all the important matters related to the sect.

However, when Nie HuaiSang woke up early in the morning today, he decided that he must convince his brother to stay and as for Wei WuXian, he would find a way to invite him back to Unclean Realm. He searched around Unclean Realm for his brother, and he finally found him speaking with Qing Liang.

“Elder brother,” said Nie HuaiSang, and Nie MingJue and Qing Liang immediately turned to him.

“HuaiSang, you are here,” said Nie MingJue as he walked to his younger brother and placed his hand on his younger brother’s shoulder, “Listen here, HuaiSang. I will be leaving today. This sect will be in your care from today onwards.”

“What?” Nie HuaiSang exclaimed, flabbergasted, “No, elder brother. You cannot just leave like that!”

Nie MingJue looked at his younger brother and was immediately reminded of how irresponsible he was for throwing his responsibilities away and made his younger brother become a sect leader at such a young age. He felt sorry for his younger brother, but he could not stop himself from leaving Unclean Realm. Wei WuXian needed him. He was still waiting for him in Burial Mounds. Nie MingJue had also promised to himself that he would be by Wei WuXian’s side as long as the man needed him.

He was about to apologize to his younger brother for being irresponsible, but before any word managed to escape his lips, a Nie disciple came rushing in and stated that he had something to report to him.

“Sect Leader Nie, we have been invited to attend a funeral in Lanling. Young Madame Jin’s funeral!”

Nie MingJue turned to his younger brother and Qing Liang, all of them shared an equal shock expression.

“What?! Why would Young Madame Jin suddenly…”

“According to Young Master Jin, Young Madame Jin has been murdered, and the one who killed Young Madame Jin is…” The man paused as he looked up to his sect leader, looking hesitant with a hint of fear of being scolded in his expression.

“Spill it out!”

“It is the Yiling Patriarch, Wei WuXian!”

Nie MingJue widened his eyes and stood there, stunned. When he realized that he had not misheard anything, he tried to step forward but ended up staggering backward instead. This was ridiculous. He almost wanted to rush to Lanling and break Jin ZiXuan’s legs for daring to accuse Wei WuXian of being responsible for murdering his most important person in the world. However, there was no time to deal with Jin ZiXuan. He had to get to Burial Mounds as soon as possible.

Chapter Text

On the day where Lan XiChen had given the divorce letter to Wei WuXian before leaving Burial Mounds, Wei WuXian had stared at the divorce letter in his hand for a very long time and cried himself to sleep. The next morning, he felt he really could not sit in Burial Mounds anymore or he might start getting emotional again, being all alone in the cave staring at the divorce letter. He went out to have a walk along the street of Yiling, and he was planning to get some food before returning to Burial Mounds.

As he walked along the street, he noticed the street seemed a lot busier than usual. He could hear more people chattering than usual, and based on what he heard from those who spoke louder than the others, it seemed that someone had passed away.

“How sad. She is still so young.”

So apparently it was a woman.

“Her husband must be feeling so sorrowful. They have only married not too long ago.”

“And their son is not even a year old yet.”

“And it looks like the Yunmeng Jiang sect and the Lanling Jin sect are busy making preparations to avenge the Young Madame Jin now.”

Wei WuXian halted and turned his head immediately as he heard that. He was sure he must have misheard because he was certain that his Shijie should be living happily in Lanling now with her husband and son. The Young Madame Jin that those people were talking about must be referring to someone else, he was sure of it!

However, he really needed to make sure that his Shijie was fine so he approached the group of women who were still talking about the death of a certain woman and asked them, “Excuse me, may I ask who are you talking about that has been dead?”

The group of women turned to him, surprised that the young man before them had not heard of the news before they started telling him, “It is the Young Madame Jin, the wife of Young Master Jin from the Lanling Jin sect. She is so pitiful, they have just been married not too long ago and she has been murdered now. Hopefully, the Lanling Jin sect and the Yunmeng Jiang sect will be able to avenge her.”

Wei WuXian staggered backward in shock. No, that was not true. That could not be true. His Shijie would not be -

He refused to believe it. He refused to believe anything until he saw it with his own eyes. He turned around immediately and ran away at the speed of lightning. He needed to rush to Lanling as soon as possible. He needed to see for himself that his Shijie was alive in Lanling, enjoying her precious moment with her husband and son.

 


 

“Elder brother!”

Nie MingJue frowned as he looked at his younger brother who was wrapping his arms around him, refusing to let him leave. Nie MingJue was already fully prepared to mount onto Baxia, but before he could do that, he needed his younger brother to remove his arms that were wrapped around him. Now that everyone was accusing Wei WuXian of killing Jiang YanLi, all the cultivators would be heading to Burial Mounds soon to point their swords at him. He would not let that happen. He had to be there to protect the man he loved.

Nie HuaiSang knew his brother had to leave or he would lose the man that he loved for eternity, but that did not mean he could bear to see his brother leaving. Once his brother left Unclean Realm, he was sure it would be a very long time before they could reunite again. He tightened his arms wrapped around his brother, unwilling to release him from the hug.

Seeing that, Nie MingJue once again felt how irresponsible he was. He was leaving his responsibility as a sect leader and a brother behind to stay in Burial Mounds, to be the official accomplice of the Yiling Patriarch. He knew that was selfish of him, but there was no way he could leave Wei WuXian behind, especially not now when his life was certainly in danger with every second that he was wasting here.

“HuaiSang,” Nie MingJue pulled himself away from the hug before he placed a hand on his younger brother’s head and patted on it, “I am sorry. I will leave the sect in your care.”

Nie MingJue turned and was about to mount onto Baxia, but before he could do so, a Nie disciple came running to him. He recognized that disciple as one of those who he had sent out to stay in Yiling and report to him with whatever that was happening within Burial Mounds.

“Sect leader, Young Master Wei found out about Young Madame Jin’s death, and he is heading toward Lanling,” stated the Nie disciple.

“That is seeking death!” exclaimed Qing Liang.

Nie MingJue clenched his fists. He had to leave before everything was too late, but Nie HuaiSang once again stopped him with both his hands wrapped around his elder brother's arm.

“HuaiSang!”

Nie MingJue was infuriated with everything that was happening, and the fact that his younger brother was refusing to let him go was merely making everything worse.

“Elder brother, please listen to me. We need a plan,” said Nie HuaiSang. Nie MingJue tried to stay as calm as possible as he impatiently listened out to his younger brother’s suggestion on how they could save Wei WuXian.

 


 

Placed in the middle of the hall was a coffin, and Jiang YanLi was sleeping in it in perfect silence. Jiang Cheng staggered toward the coffin and with a trembling hand, he caressed his sister’s face. It was cold. Tears were trickling down his cheeks uncontrollably. He knew it was all his fault – that he had hurt Wei WuXian so badly and his brother had decided to kill Jiang YanLi as revenge for what Jiang Cheng had done to him. He should have been the one sleeping in this coffin right now. He could not believe Wei WuXian would choose such a way to take revenge on him. He could not understand how did he have the heart to do so. This was his sister too!

Jin ZiXuan clenched his fists in anger. He felt sick seeing Jiang Cheng. He knew clearly well that the reason why Wei WuXian would kill his wife was that he wanted to get revenge on what Jiang Cheng had done to him. This was unfair. All Jiang YanLi ever did was care for both of her precious brothers. If he wanted revenge, why not just kill Jiang Cheng?  

He wanted to avenge his wife so much. He would kill Wei WuXian again and again until the man would scream out that he regretted what he had done, but even then, Jin ZiXuan would not stop killing him. The man who killed his wife deserved a thousand more times of a more painful death compared to what his wife had gone through and what he had gone through as he watched the only woman who he had grown to love died in front of him yet there was nothing he could do about it.

Wei WuXian, that man must die!

Jin ZiXuan told himself that when the funeral was over, he would go to Burial Mounds to kill Wei WuXian to avenge his wife. He clenched his fists as he was reminded of how his wife had died, and he almost wanted to just mount onto Suihua and rushed to Burial Mounds immediately to kill Wei WuXian.

Lan XiChen was both bewildered and flabbergasted. He had rushed to Lanling as soon as he had received the news that Jiang YanLi had passed away, but when he arrived, he was astounded to know that the Lanling Jin sect was stating that it was Wei WuXian who had killed Jiang YanLi. That was clearly not possible because according to Jin ZiXuan’s statement regarding Jiang YanLi’s time of death, Lan XiChen was at Burial Mounds and speaking with Wei WuXian during that time. There must be a misunderstanding and he was determined to clear his ex-brother-in-law’s name.

“Young Master Jin,” said Lan XiChen as he stepped forward, “You said WuXian is the one who killed Young Madame Jin, is it possible that there might have any misunderstanding in between?”

Jin ZiXuan turned and glared at whoever was speaking before he stated in a rage, “There is no misunderstanding!”

“I think there must be a misunderstanding because during the time where Young Master Jin witnessed Young Madame Jin got killed, I was at the Burial Mounds with WuXian,” said Lan XiChen.

All the other cultivators gasped at the shocking news before they started whispering with each other.

Jin ZiXuan advanced to where Lan XiChen was standing and said, “Is Zewu-jun trying to tell us that he is an accomplice of the Yiling Patriarch?”

For a moment, no one dared to speak as Lan XiChen and Jin ZiXuan continued to stare at each other. Lan WangJi and all the other Gusu Lan sect's disciples glared at Jin ZiXuan for accusing their sect leader of being a part of the murder. The other cultivators held their breaths and were astonished by Jin ZiXuan’s courage in accusing Lan XiChen of being an accomplice of the Yiling Patriarch.

Jin GuangShan stepped forward and stood beside his son with a smile before he patted his son’s shoulder lightly, “ZiXuan, look at what you are talking about. The Gusu Lan sect abominates those who are evil, and Sect Leader Lan, being the sect leader of the Gusu Lan sect, obviously will not be siding the Yiling Patriarch.”

Lan XiChen and Lan WangJi both turned to Jin GuangShan and narrowed their eyes at him. That was clearly a warning that Jin GuangShan was giving them. He was indirectly stating that the Gusu Lan sect should not interfere with the Lanling Jin sect’s plan for avenging Jiang YanLi and if anyone (the sect leader especially) decided to interfere, then they should be considered as an accomplice of the Yiling Patriarch.

“Besides, even if the Yiling Patriarch is with Sect Leader Lan at that time, it does not necessarily prove that he is not the one who killed my daughter-in-law. He could have ordered someone else or a fierce corpse to perform the killing or he could even do the killing himself and used some underhanded tactics to confuse and make Sect Leader Lan think that he is with him at that time and will not be able to kill my daughter-in-law. However, what interests me more is that Sect Leader Lan, I have heard that Second Master Lan has divorced the Yiling Patriarch, so I wonder what Sect Leader Lan could actually be doing in Burial Mounds spending time alone with the Yiling Patriarch,” stated Jin GuangShan.

Lan XiChen stared at Jin GuangShan, flabbergasted at what the elder man was suggesting. He stepped forward, about to say something when he felt a hand on his shoulder and when he turned, he saw his younger sworn brother looking at him and shook his head. He frowned, but he understood why his younger sworn brother stopped him. Jin ZiXuan was grieving for his wife while Jin GuangShan was upset because he lost a good daughter-in-law, and all they could think of at the moment was revenge. However, that did not mean they could just put all the blame onto Wei WuXian without any actual evidence.

Lan XiChen felt the Gusu Lan sect was already in debt to Wei WuXian, given how his younger brother had betrayed Wei WuXian in such a cruel way yet Wei WuXian kept his silence about this. He felt if he just stood by the side without saying anything else when he clearly knew Wei WuXian could not have been the murderer, he would be really inhuman. He stepped forward again, but before he could speak, a Lanling Jin disciple came rushing in and announced that he had something to report.

“The Yiling Patriarch is spotted in Lanling, and he is on the way here,” said the Lanling Jin disciple.

Jiang Cheng turned to the Lanling Jin disciple, the ring on his finger was sparkling dangerously in purple. The twin jades of Lan turned to each other, looking worried while they seemed to be communicating with each other wordlessly.

Jin ZiXuan immediately grabbed the man’s robes as he asked furiously, “You said Wei WuXian is here?!”

The Lanling Jin disciple looked a little frightened, but he still managed to answer, “Yes, Young Master Jin.”

Before Jin ZiXuan could ask anything more, Wei WuXian made his appearance and halted a few feet away from the coffin. Everyone turned hostile as they saw who was standing there. Most of their hands were already on their swords, preparing to end the demonic cultivator’s life together. All they saw was a criminal standing there, and none saw how despaired the man looked as he stared at the coffin.

As Wei WuXian started to stride forward, a few Lanling Jin disciples unsheathed their swords and charged toward him. Lan XiChen was about to step forward with his hand on Shuoyue and Lan WangJi already had Bichen unsheathed and was about to dash to Wei WuXian’s side when a group of fierce corpses dropped down and surrounded Wei WuXian, blocking any harm coming to their master.

Wei WuXian continued to stride forward as if nothing happened, but before he could get near to the coffin, Lan WangJi caught his wrist and whispered, “Wei Ying, you need to leave.”

Ignoring him, Wei WuXian pushed Lan WangJi’s hand away and continued to advance to the coffin. He halted at the side of the coffin, and tears that had been welling up in his eyes were finally streaming down. He raised a trembling hand to reach Jiang YanLi’s face, but before he could even get near to Jiang YanLi, Jin ZiXuan came to stand in front of him and clenched his robe angrily.

“Wei WuXian, how dare you still come here?!” yelled Jin ZiXuan as he shoved Wei WuXian away from the coffin. Seeing that, Lan WangJi quickly dashed forward and caught Wei WuXian who was staggering backward.

“Impossible. Shijie… why would she..?” Wei WuXian looked like he was in shock as he shook his head and stepped back, refusing to believe that his Shijie had left and would no longer return. He would never be able to hear his Shijie calling him with her gentle voice again. He would never be able to taste the delicious soup made by his Shijie anymore.

Jiang YanLi was gone.

The last person who actually cared about him from the bottom of her heart was gone.

“Wei WuXian!” Jin ZiXuan stepped forward and clenched the man’s robe furiously, “You can stop pretending already. You killed A-Li and why are you still trying to pretend that you are a good brother now?!”

Wei WuXian widened his eyes at Jin ZiXuan’s words. Did he hear that right? Was Jin ZiXuan accusing him of killing Jiang YanLi?

“Wei WuXian! How dare you still come here?!”

“Wei WuXian, you ungrateful thing! The Yunmeng Jiang sect has been nothing but kind to you, you must be heartless to actually have the heart to kill Young Madame Jin!”

“Kill him! He deserves death!”

“He is worse than the Wen dogs!”

More and more cultivators stepped up and unsheathed their swords as they yelled at the demonic cultivator who was currently leaning himself against Lan WangJi. Thousands of swords were pointed at Wei WuXian, but Wei WuXian paid them no heed. He was stunned by what he had just heard.

Lan XiChen turned to look at his ex-brother-in-law who was certainly flabbergasted to learn that everyone was thinking that he had killed Jiang YanLi. He turned to Jin ZiXuan who looked like he was ready to draw his weapon to avenge his wife before he turned to the crowd who were shouting accusing words to Wei WuXian continuously. He frowned at the mess he was facing. He knew it was certainly not Wei WuXian who had killed Jiang YanLi. After all, they were together during the time Jiang YanLi had been murdered. Besides, he believed that Wei WuXian would never hurt any innocents, especially not Jiang YanLi who he adored so much. The time that his ex-brother-in-law had spent in Cloud Recesses was not very long, but within this short time, he could not even count just how many times had he heard Wei WuXian repeated that his Shijie was the best woman in the world.

Lan XiChen stepped forward, about to speak up but Wei WuXian spoke a second faster than him.

“Jin ZiXuan, you said…” Wei WuXian paused and drew a shuddering breath, “You said I am the one who killed Shijie?”

“What is this? Wei WuXian, you dare kill A-Li but lack the courage to admit it? What is wrong? Aren’t you the Yiling Patriarch who kills whoever he wants? Are you finally ashamed of yourself?!”

Wei WuXian who did not even bother to form a reply to Jin ZiXuan’s accusation words was staggering forward and halted in front of Jiang Cheng, “You think I am the one who killed Shijie too?”

“Do you dare say that it is not you?” questioned Jiang Cheng.

Wei WuXian was stunned. He could feel tears streaming down again as he stared at Jiang Cheng – the man he regarded as his brother who was looking at him in disgust and hatred now.

“Why?” Jiang Cheng stepped forward and continued, “You hate me, then you can just kill me. How can you be so cruel? Wei WuXian, A-Jie has always been so kind to you, how do you even have the heart to kill her?!”

Wei WuXian shook his head. He did not mind that Jin ZiXuan did not believe him and he certainly did not mind that all the cultivators out there did not believe him either. However, Jiang Cheng – the man he had grown up with, was stating that he had killed Jiang YanLi too and he could immediately feel his heart broke into pieces.

He stepped back and almost lost his footing, but Lan WangJi who had been standing behind him the whole time caught him again.

“Wei Ying!”

Hearing the familiar voice, Wei WuXian turned to the man and asked, “You think so too?”

Lan WangJi shook his head, “Wei Ying, I –”

Wei WuXian pushed Lan WangJi away before the man managed to finish speaking. Wei WuXian realized that he did not need to hear him out at all. After all, even Jiang Cheng did not believe him, so why would Lan WangJi who was his ex-husband now believe in him?

Wei WuXian stared at Lan WangJi rather disappointingly as he stepped back and said softly, “All of you think that I am the one who killed my Shijie.”

Lan WangJi stepped forward, trying to reach Wei WuXian’s arm as he looked like he was ready to collapse any time soon but Lan WangJi stepped back when Wei WuXian suddenly laughed out loud as though he had gone mad. Everyone stared at him with a mixture of emotions. Most of them looked terrified, some looked exasperated and there were some others who looked indifferent but the twin jades of Lan looked worried.

“Good, very good,” said Wei WuXian as he stepped back a few steps until he reached the coffin. He took another look at Jiang YanLi who was in the coffin as he thought, now that his Shijie was gone, was there even any reason for him to stay alive?

That’s right.

He no longer felt there was a need to stay alive.

He closed his eyes and when he opened them again, the Stygian Tiger Seal was in his hand. Most of the cultivators gasped at the sight of it and prepared themselves for war. Ignoring them, Wei WuXian stared at the Stygian Tiger Seal in his hand, his expression unreadable which sent most of the cultivators (the weaker ones especially) into a state of panic as they felt he was planning for something evil. The twin jades of Lan turned to each other worriedly.

After a long time of staring at the Stygian Tiger Seal, Wei WuXian closed his eyes again and when he opened his eyes next, all of the cultivators were staring at his hand in shock. Some gasped at what they were seeing, some were whispering with each other, and there were also some of them who were staring at the Yiling Patriarch, wondering what type of tricks he was planning to use this time.

The Stygian Tiger Seal in his hand had been destroyed.

Everyone was stunned when they saw all of the fierce corpses appearing before them were charging forward fiercely. They all raised their weapons, preparing to fight off the fierce corpses but the fierce corpses ignored them all and charged toward one direction as if they had already marked their prey.

Wei WuXian lowered his hand and the pieces of broken Stygian Tiger Seal dropped onto the ground. He closed his eyes and a drop of tear was seen trickling down his cheek, and he looked almost as though he was waiting for something – waiting for those fierce corpses who were clearly targeting him alone now to come to him.

Shijie, don’t be afraid. I will join you soon.

Chapter Text

The cultivators started fighting against the fierce corpses near them, but most of the fierce corpses were charging toward Wei WuXian. Lan XiChen and Lan WangJi were both standing in front of Wei WuXian, swinging their swords at any fierce corpses coming near the demonic cultivator. A few Gusu Lan sect's disciples (where a few of them were Lan XiChen’s trusted men and the remaining others were those who became friends with Wei WuXian during his short stay in Cloud Recesses after he was married to Lan WangJi) came forward to help the twin jades of Lan to protect Wei WuXian. The other Gusu Lan sect’s disciples were left standing at one side as they did not know what they should do. They felt the demonic cultivator deserved to die, but they could not raise their swords at their sect leader or Hanguang-jun who were defending the demonic cultivator.

Some of the cultivators, the Lanling Jin sect’s disciples especially, decided to advance to where Wei WuXian was standing and kill him. However, Lan XiChen and Lan WangJi were both determined to not let anyone who was planning to harm Wei WuXian get anywhere near him. Every time someone was about to stab Wei WuXian, Shuoyue or Bichen would appear to stop any swords from getting near Wei WuXian.

Jin ZiXuan gritted his teeth and gave his orders to the Lanling Jin sect’s disciples to charge forward together. There were not too many of the Gusu Lan sect’s cultivators who were protecting Wei WuXian and with all of the Lanling Jin sect’s disciples charging forward, no matter how strong the twin jades of Lan were, they would not be able to protect Wei WuXian any longer.

“WangJi, leave these to me. You need to bring WuXian to leave first,” said Lan XiChen.

Lan WangJi nodded solemnly before he turned and grasped Wei WuXian’s wrist, “Wei Ying, leave with me.”

“Leave with you?” Wei WuXian raised an eyebrow at his ex-husband before he started laughing and spoke coldly, “Then what are you planning to do to me after I leave with you?”

Lan WangJi was stunned for a few seconds, feeling himself stiffened from the cold tone speaking to him and as he stared at the pair of eyes that looked like he was tired of living, he felt his heart was instantly in pain.

“Please, Wei Ying,” Lan WangJi pleaded as he grasped Wei WuXian’s wrist tighter, “Please let me protect you. You don’t need to forgive me. I know that what I have done does not deserve your forgiveness at all. You can hate me, scold me, hurt me, stab me, do anything you want to me, but please allow me to bring you to a safe place first.”

“Lan Zhan, ah, Lan Zhan. Look,” said Wei WuXian as he turned to look at the cultivators who were trying to approach him and kill him but were stopped by Lan XiChen and some other Gusu Lan sect’s disciples, “Everyone here is watching you, to see if you will be a betrayer and stand by your ex-husband’s side or take the side of justice.”

“Wei Ying,” said Lan WangJi, his voice firm and resolute. Nothing could stop him from protecting the man in front of him.

Wei WuXian merely smiled at him weakly. Lan WangJi was about to ask him to leave with him again when he felt Bichen being pulled forward abruptly. Using all the strength he could gather within himself, he did his best to pull Bichen back but he was too late. Bichen shifted in its position slightly before it was stabbed into Wei WuXian’s abdomen. He stared at the man in shock and could feel his blood froze when he saw blood dripping onto the ground. Lan WangJi immediately pulled Bichen out and as he did so, Wei WuXian lost his balance and dropped but Lan WangJi was there to catch him.

Wrapping his arms around the man he loved, Lan WangJi turned to look at the fresh wound. He wanted to cry and scream at the same time, but there was no time for him to waste. He quickly started transferring spiritual energy to Wei WuXian, knowing that the injured man would need it to survive the wound. However, just when he was starting to transfer his spiritual energy to the injured man, he felt a hand grasping his wrist, stopping him from continuing with what he was doing.

“Wei Ying,” Lan WangJi said in a pleading tone, hoping his ex-husband would not hate him to the extent that he would not even want his help when he was about to bleed to death, but Wei WuXian shook his head and refused to release the tight grip on Lan WangJi's wrist.

“Wei Ying, please –”

“Lan Zhan,” Wei WuXian interrupted and said weakly, “I have a favor to ask of you.”

Lan WangJi was staring at Wei WuXian in silence, and Wei WuXian took it as a sign of agreement so he continued, “Please promise me that you will help me take care of Wen Qing and her family, A-Yuan especially.”

“Wei Ying,” said Lan WangJi, his voice quavering as he noticed Wei WuXian was getting paler and the fact that Wei WuXian was making it looked like he was speaking his last words as he pleaded for Lan WangJi to take care of the Wen remnants was even more worrisome. Lan WangJi felt a drop of tear left his eye as he thought of the possibility that he might not be able to get Wei WuXian out of this mess alive. He did not want to promise him anything because he felt as long as he did not give him his promise, the injured man would force himself to stay alive so that he could protect the Wen remnants himself.

“Promise me, please…” pleaded Wei WuXian weakly.

“I promise… I promise… Wei Ying, hang in there, I will bring you to Maiden Wen. She will heal you,” said Lan WangJi as he prepared to lift Wei WuXian carefully and stand up before mounting onto Bichen, but the hand which was still holding his wrist stopped him.

Wei WuXian shook his head and smiled weakly, “L-Lan Zhan… although it was… short… but getting married to you… is my happiest throughout my whole life. I… I really love you… but…”

Wei WuXian paused and laughed softly before he continued, “Who do I think I am..? I am a son of a servant… a demonic cultivator… how could you really have loved me..? You and Jiang Cheng… the two of you are the perfect match. I… I am sorry that it was because of me that… It should be Jiang Cheng who should have been married to you that day…”

Lan WangJi shook his head and the tears welling up in his eyes started to fall off. Wei WuXian raised a hand that was covered in blood now and caressed Lan WangJi’s face, “I wish… you and Jiang Cheng… happy together for eternity.”

Lan WangJi shook his head again, his tears were dripping down onto Wei WuXian’s face. All he ever wanted was this man in his arms, never Jiang WanYin, but he could not find any way to make the man he loved understand that. After all, he had been caught red-handed that he had slept with that man, so it really made no sense to anyone if he said it out loud that there was nothing between them.

Putting that aside, they really had to leave now. They should first find a place to try to stop the bleeding before sneaking back into Cloud Recesses and get Wen Qing to look after Wei WuXian. He was about to inform the man that he would bring him to leave now when he suddenly felt the hand caressing his face slipped down. He looked down to see the man’s eyes were closed.

“Wei Ying!”

He felt himself panicking at the sight of the unmoving man in his arms. More tears were streaming down his cheeks as he raised a hand up and reached Wei WuXian’s face, “Wei Ying, no! I love you! I love you! Wei Ying, please –”

Lan WangJi suddenly felt himself shove backward, and Wei WuXian was no longer in his arms. Having lost his balance, he was about to fall onto the ground but Lan XiChen was suddenly standing behind him, catching him just before he fell.

“Elder brother!”

Lan WangJi heard his brother called out to the man, and as he looked up with his pair of eyes that were clouded by tears now, he found out that it was indeed Nie MingJue who had just pushed him away and was now glaring at him. Without any words, Nie MingJue lifted Wei WuXian up before he rose up to Baxia and flew off. More than a thousand pairs of puzzled eyes were staring at Nie MingJue who were getting further and further from them with the Yiling Patriarch in his arms.

“What is happening?” someone questioned.

“Is that Chifeng-zun?”

“Why is Chifeng-zun taking the Yiling Patriarch away?”

“Do not let Wei WuXian leave! He must die today!”

The Lanling Jin sect's disciples who were led by Jin ZiXuan mounted on their swords, preparing to follow behind Nie MingJue and catch up to him. However, a few Qinghe Nie sect's disciples who were standing in front of them also mounted on their weapons and were a step faster in following behind Nie MingJue when they saw their sect leader left, so Jin ZiXuan led his sect’s disciples to follow behind those Qinghe Nie sect's disciples. Both Lan XiChen and Lan WangJi quickly rose up to their swords too and rushed forward, hoping that they could get there in time and stop anyone from killing Wei WuXian. Cultivators from other sects soon mounted onto their swords too and followed behind the Lanling Jin sect’s disciples.

When the cultivators finally caught up to the few Qinghe Nie sect's disciples who were way ahead of them, they saw the Nie disciples were preparing to descend before Burial Mounds and they did the same. However, before they could even reach the ground, they could see and hear that there was an explosion within Burial Mounds. Those who visited the place before knew the exact place that had been exploded was the Demon Slaughtering Cave. Everyone descended and stood at a few feet away from Burial Mounds, too stunned to even move a step forward.

After a moment of silence, Jin ZiXuan was the first to move forward as he was eager to check if Wei WuXian was dead because if he was not, Jin ZiXuan would like to be able to be the one to kill the man who killed his wife. Jiang Cheng was the second to walk into Burial Mounds and following his example, many other cultivators started walking into Burial Mounds too.

When they went in to see what was left, they could see that everything was in a mess after the explosion. However, throughout the mess, it was still obvious that there were traces of blood left on the ground. Baxia was stuck into the ground with blood still dripping down, left alone without its master anymore. Chenqing was left abandoned somewhere not too far away from Baxia, also without its master anymore, much to most of the cultivators’ relief.

Lan XiChen walked to where Baxia was placed, and he raised a trembling hand to grab it, but when his fingers almost reached it, he hesitated for a minute before he grabbed Baxia and pulled it up. He stared at the weapon in his hand but the longer he stared at it, the more he realized he could not see clearly. It was not until when he saw water dropping onto Baxia that he realized it was his tears that had fallen onto his elder brother’s saber.

“Second brother…” said Jin GuangYao worriedly.

“A-Yao… elder brother, he…” Lan XiChen could not continue. His elder brother was dead. Not only him, Wei WuXian too.

He could not understand what was going on. Everything happened too fast and there was no time for him to think at all. He was just having a meal with his ex-brother-in-law at Burial Mounds and then he suddenly heard of the news that Young Madame Jin was dead, and the one who had killed her was his ex-brother-in-law, but that was clearly impossible. Wei WuXian was clearly framed and Lan XiChen tried his best to help the man clear his name, but he failed. He felt that was because he did not try hard enough, and because of that, Wei WuXian tried to kill himself by stabbing himself with Bichen, and then Nie MingJue suddenly came and took Wei WuXian away. While Lan XiChen was still trying to figure out if Nie MingJue was trying to save Wei WuXian or trying to kill him like the other cultivators, the explosion happened and he was faced with a Baxia without its master anymore.

While Lan XiChen was deep in thoughts as he continued to stare at Baxia, Lan WangJi was trying his best to stride forward, but every step he took was a struggle because the further he walked in, the least he could lie to himself that Wei WuXian was safe and was not dead. He halted when he realized he had stepped on something red and as he took a closer look, it was a torn red string that he was sure that it belonged to his ex-husband. It was the familiar red string that he had always seen his ex-husband used to tie up his hair. He bent down and took the string with a trembling hand.

No.

He refused to believe this!

Lan WangJi looked around, frantically searching for something – any type of evidence that could prove to him that Wei WuXian was not dead, and that was when he happened to see Jiang Cheng standing not too far away from his elder brother and Jin GuangYao who were staring at Baxia. In Jiang Cheng’s hand was Chenqing, which was something that Wei WuXian would never go anywhere without it ever since he returned after disappearing for 3 months.

At the sight of Baxia and Chenqing on the ground, everyone knew Nie MingJue and Wei WuXian must have been dead. Baxia was Nie MingJue’s weapon while Chenqing was Wei WuXian’s strongest weapon, and no cultivator would go anywhere without their weapons, be it a cultivator or a demonic cultivator.

Lan WangJi staggered backward, suddenly feeling his legs no longer had the strength to remain standing when he realized all hope was gone.

Wei Ying was gone.

He felt his heart stopped beating in an instant, and he could neither see nor hear anything when he felt himself falling.

“Hanguang-jun!”

“WangJi!”

 


 

“Young Master Nie, they are here,” said a Qinghe Nie disciple who had rushed to report to Nie HuaiSang just as soon as he saw cultivators of different sects approaching Unclean Realm.

Nie HuaiSang stood up and turned to Qing Liang, “Qing Liang, it is about time for the show to start. Let’s go and welcome our visitors.”

Qing Liang nodded solemnly and walked behind Nie HuaiSang to greet the visitors who came here uninvited. Nie HuaiSang put up a puzzled look as he looked at the cultivators who were looking at him with a slight sadness in their eyes.

“Why is everyone here? I thought everyone is supposed to be attending Young Madame Jin’s funeral?” Nie HuaiSang questioned and he blinked his eyes in confusion after looking around and could not find his elder brother among the cultivators, “Where is my elder brother?”

All the cultivators fell into perfect silence. They all knew Nie MingJue was very important to Nie HuaiSang and despite Nie MingJue scolding his younger brother constantly, everyone knew the Nie brothers held an extremely strong bond. None had the heart to break the devastating news to the puzzled young man before them and Jin GuangYao who was holding Baxia had no choice but to step forward.

“HuaiSang…” said Jin GuangYao as he raised Baxia and held it horizontally in front of Nie HuaiSang’s eye level before he continued, “Elder brother, he… he has passed away.”

Nie HuaiSang widened his eyes at Jin GuangYao and staggered backward. Qing Liang immediately moved forward to catch Nie HuaiSang.

“Young Master!”

“Impossible… This is impossible! This is not the truth! Qing Liang, please tell me that this is not the truth!” cried Nie HuaiSang.

Qing Liang looked like he was half-depressing and half-panicking at being too astounded with the sudden death of their sect leader and not knowing how to comfort his young master who was now officially a sect leader since his elder brother was dead.

At Qing Liang’s silence, Nie HuaiSang staggered forward and grabbed Jin GuangYao’s shoulders, “This… how could this happen? Brother Yao, what happened? Brother will not die so suddenly, he promised not to leave me alone!”

“HuaiSang…” Jin GuangYao looked upset at the sight of Nie HuaiSang crying. He wrapped his arms around Nie HuaiSang and embraced him tightly.

“No, brother promised! He never broke any of his promises, why?! Brother Yao, how could he just leave me like this?!”

At Nie HuaiSang’s desperate cries, Jin GuangYao remained silent and embraced him tighter. The other cultivators looked away as they too felt like they were about to shed tears if they continued to watch how the man who had just lost his brother was crying miserably at the moment.

“Elder brother!” Nie HuaiSang screamed at the top of his lungs.

Qing Liang stood there and watched Nie HuaiSang screaming for Nie MingJue sorrowfully while Jin GuangYao continued to embrace him and whisper comforting words to him. To be honest, he was shocked – not at Nie MingJue’s sudden death, but at Nie HuaiSang’s outburst. He suddenly felt himself shivering uncomfortably because the man before him was clearly the young master who he had watched him grow up from young, but right now, he realized he really did not know much about Nie HuaiSang. As he continued to stare at his new sect leader breaking down, he suddenly remembered where he was and there was no time for him to be shocked, so he readjusted his expression and made sure he looked like he was grieving. But then again, as he continued to watch how Nie HuaiSang was crying in Jin GuangYao’s embrace, he finally understood what Young Master Wei once told Sect Leader Nie.

Their Young Master Nie who was now officially the Qinghe Nie sect leader was actually amazing in his own ways.

Chapter Text

After the day of Jiang YanLi’s funeral which could also be considered as the day of the Yiling Patriarch’s death, Jiang Cheng returned to Lotus Pier and locked himself in his room, once again back to his daily routine of drinking jar after jar of wine just like back then when Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi had just divorced. The difference was Jiang YanLi and Wei WuXian were still alive at that time, but now they were not. At that time, Jiang YanLi would sometimes come and visit him, and when he was drunk, Jiang YanLi would help him clean his room and she would even prepare the lotus root and pork rib soup for him to drink when he was awake.

However, his sister was no longer here.

There would be no one else to comfort him when he was upset, and there was no lotus root and pork rib soup to drink anymore.

He looked around his room and noticed what a mess he was in as his room was now filled with empty jars of wine scattered around and he looked like some type of criminal on his run who had no time to take care of his looks, yet he did not plan to change his way of living. Only drinking wine could make him forget things, and then he did not need to be reminded of the fact that he was all alone now as his sister and brother were all dead.

And was it his fault that they were dead?

Probably.

No, it was definitely his fault.

It was because he had hurt Wei WuXian so badly which was what caused his brother to have such a strong determination to get revenge, and how else could it be better than killing Jiang YanLi who was the last family member that Jiang Cheng had in this world? However, it was also because Wei WuXian had killed Jiang YanLi that he had ended up dead, and Jiang Cheng was truly alone now.

He felt his heart was in so much pain, almost as though he was stabbed by a knife in his heart, slowly bleeding to death as he was sure nothing would be able to help him stop the continuous bleeding. His hand reached for a new jar of wine and he removed the lid before pouring the content of the jar down his throat. Drinking may not be able to stop the pain he was feeling at the moment, but it could at least help him to forget about the pain for a while. He drank jar after jar of wine, and when he realized he had finished the last jar of wine that he could find within his room, he stared at it angrily before he threw it onto the ground and broke it into pieces.

“A-Cheng, look at you. You have turned your room into such a mess again.”

Hearing the soft, gentle voice, Jiang Cheng looked up and when he saw his sister standing a few feet away from him and was smiling, he widened his eyes and stood up in an instant. He staggered forward but before he was even standing anywhere near where he saw his sister was standing, he heard a familiar laugh.

“Shijie, look! Jiang Cheng’s room is even dirtier than mine!”

Jiang Cheng widened his eyes further when he saw Wei WuXian appeared beside their sister and was grinning at him.

“A-Jie, Wei WuXian!”

He stumbled forward, trying his best to reach his sister and brother as soon as possible but when he was just nearly able to touch Jiang YanLi, she was no longer standing there but was sleeping in a coffin instead.

“No, A-Jie! You can’t die! Don’t leave me alone!” Jiang Cheng screamed as he grabbed the coffin, but as soon as his hands came into contact with the coffin, the coffin vanished along with Jiang YanLi.

“A-Jie!”

He screamed and looked around, frantically searching for Jiang YanLi but she was nowhere to be found within his room. Jiang YanLi had vanished, but he noticed Wei WuXian was still standing there, unmoving and grinning at him.

“Wei WuXian!” He ran to the man, but before his hand could reach him, the man before him vanished too.

“No, Wei WuXian! Come back! A-Jie! Wei WuXian!” Jiang Cheng yelled, his voice hoarse.

He fell onto the ground in the next second and clenched his fists. He knew they were dead. His sister was dead. His brother was dead. They were all dead and they would never come back again, and he would be all alone from now on. Feeling nothing besides the hopelessness that was enveloping him, he did the only thing he could.

He screamed at the top of his lungs until he no longer had the strength, no longer able to hear his own voice, and he finally collapsed onto the ground.

 


 

Staring worriedly at his younger brother who was unconscious on the bed, Lan XiChen frowned and was deep in thought. Nie MingJue’s funeral would be held in a few days’ time and he had to start traveling to Qinghe as soon as possible. He was worried that Nie HuaiSang alone would not be able to handle the preparations of the funeral, especially given how devastated he must be feeling at the moment. However, at the same time, he could not leave his younger brother alone who had never woken up even once ever since he had collapsed in Burial Mounds.

Thinking of how his brother had collapsed, he was reminded of how he felt his heart sank when he saw the explosion within Burial Mounds. He was sure his younger brother felt the same, or perhaps even worse given how much he loved Wei WuXian. Just as he ruminated on his previous conversation with his ex-brother-in-law back at Burial Mounds, he suddenly felt a slight movement on the bed and when he quickly turned to take a look, he was immediately relieved to see that his younger brother was finally opening his eyes.

“WangJi, you are finally awake. You scared me,” said Lan XiChen, his tone sounded worried, relieved and exhausted.

“Brother.”

Lan WangJi woke up in a daze and for a moment, he felt that something did not feel right. He tried to think of what had happened that caused his brother to worry so much which was then he suddenly remembered everything. Jiang YanLi’s funeral, Wei Ying coming and everyone pointed their swords at him, the Stygian Tiger Seal broke into pieces and the fierce corpses were attacking Wei Ying, and finally the explosion within Burial Mounds. He turned to look at the door in an instant, panicked.

“Wei Ying!”

Lan WangJi moved to leave the bed, eager to make a trip to Burial Mounds immediately to make sure that this was all just a nightmare and Wei Ying was still alive, but before his legs could even reach the ground, Lan XiChen grasped his arms and stopped him from moving. He struggled under his elder brother’s grasp, but Lan XiChen merely grasped him tighter.

“WangJi, you should not get out of bed now!”

“Wei Ying, he is..!”

“Stop fooling around!”

Hearing the enraged voice, the twin jades of Lan turned to see their uncle walking into Jingshi, a frown was clearly visible on his face.

"Where do you think you are going in such a condition? Forget about him, he is already dead! He killed an innocent - no, not only did he kill an innocent, the one who he had killed was someone who had taken care of him and treated him like he was her own brother ever since he was brought into the Jiang family when he was young, but look at him. Biting the hands of those who fed him! Being dead is what he deserves!" 

“Uncle, WuXian is not the one who killed Young Madame Jin,” stated Lan XiChen disapprovingly.

“How can you be so sure?” questioned Lan QiRen harshly, infuriated that his elder nephew was still siding the demonic cultivator at a time like this.

“Because at the time of Young Madame Jin’s death, I was at Burial Mounds with WuXian.”

Lan QiRen frowned, “I have heard that. What were you doing there?!”

“I…” Lan XiChen glanced at his brother before he continued, “I went there to give him the divorce letter on behalf of WangJi.”

After hearing the reason regarding why his elder nephew went to Burial Mounds, Lan QiRen suddenly looked relieved. At least, his younger nephew managed to end this terrible relationship with the demonic cultivator before the man died. Now that he had received the divorce letter before his death, it was safe to say that Wei WuXian was officially not related to the Gusu Lan sect in any way any longer.

“Just as what Sect Leader Jin had said, even if you were with him at that time, he could still use other underhanded ways to commit the murder. After all, he was such a talented demonic cultivator,” stated Lan QiRen.

“Uncle,” Lan XiChen said, looking disappointed and upset to know that his uncle actually thought the same as those cultivators out there. He was about to argue that Wei WuXian was not someone who would bite the hands of those who fed him, but his uncle did not seem like he wanted to hear another word about the man again.

“Enough,” said Lan QiRen, his voice firm and resolute and he wanted his nephews to know that there was no point discussing a dead man now, “Anyhow, he is dead. WangJi, you have done a good job in divorcing him and it is time for you to forget about such a man.”

“Forget about him?” Lan WangJi questioned as he turned to his uncle, tears welling up in his eyes as he asked, “How?”

“You chose to divorce him already. What else is there that you cannot let go of?” questioned Lan QiRen, bewildered.

Lan XiChen turned to his younger brother who was on the verge of crying as he clenched the bedsheet. He turned to his uncle who seemed to have more to say, looking like he was determined to not stop talking until he was able to make his younger nephew give up and forget Wei WuXian.

“Uncle, please let me talk to WangJi alone.”

Lan QiRen looked like he was refusing to leave because he still had a lot more to say, but Lan XiChen looked absolutely determined, and Lan QiRen had no choice but to leave the brothers alone.

When Lan QiRen had finally left, Lan XiChen grasped his brother’s fists on the bed, silently telling the younger man that he would be with him through his pain. The tears welling up in Lan WangJi’s eyes were falling down, drenching both his brother’s and his hands at the same time.

“Wei Ying… he…” Lan WangJi choked, finding himself unable to continue with what he was trying to say.

The image of Wei WuXian stabbing himself with Bichen was still clear in his head. He remembered the man’s every word – his last words to him as he stayed injured in his arms. He had begged him to take care of the Wen remnants, A-Yuan especially. He even wished for him to be happy with Jiang WanYin which was certainly not something that was going to happen. How could he even be happy without Wei Ying? How could he even be happy with Jiang WanYin when he hated the man so much for climbing onto his bed, twice, and as if that was not enough to break Wei Ying’s heart, that man had even pointed his sword to Wei Ying and accused Wei Ying of killing their sister.

He remembered how painfully Wei Ying looked when Jiang WanYin pointed his sword at him. When Wei Ying asked if he believed in him, he wanted very much to tell him that no matter what happened, he would believe in whatever he said, but Wei Ying did not let him finish speaking as he was too convinced that no one would believe in him. He clutched his chest and sobbed sorrowfully. It hurt so much that Wei Ying did not believe him, and it hurt even more to know that Wei Ying thought no one else in this world would believe him and stand by his side.

Lan XiChen who was watching his younger brother in silence could not take it anymore as he pulled his younger brother into his embrace, stroking his back gently as he told him that he had already done his best to save Wei WuXian from all those cultivators who were trying to kill him. Lan WangJi shook his head, completely thinking that he did not do his best at all. He wanted to save Wei Ying and bring him away, but he had let Bichen stabbed Wei Ying, and as if that alone was not enough, he even watched Nie MingJue brought Wei Ying away and he did not even do anything to stop him. When they arrived at where Nie MingJue had dragged Wei Ying to, the place had exploded.

The man he loved was dead and there was nothing he could do about it. If only time could be reverted, he wished he could die for Wei Ying, but he knew that was not possible. Deep down in his heart, he knew Nie MingJue was not to be blamed completely because even without Nie MingJue, Wei Ying might die anyway. He was already having the intention to commit suicide the moment he had stabbed himself with Bichen, and even if Nie MingJue did not arrive at that time, he was not even sure if he could bring Wei Ying out from the harms of those fierce corpses and the other cultivators safely. Even if they somehow managed to get out, he could not even be sure if Wei Ying would be able to survive with the blood loss until they managed to return to Cloud Recesses to have Wen Qing heal him.

“WangJi…”

Lan XiChen had no idea what could be said to comfort his younger brother. In fact, he knew nothing he said would be able to comfort his younger brother. Before he managed to think of something that could help to make everything slightly better, someone barged into Jingshi and climbed up onto the bed, making his way to Lan WangJi’s laps.

“Brother Rich, they said you killed Brother Xian. That is not true, right?” questioned Wen Yuan. His eyes were rimmed red, a sign that he had probably cried so much before he rushed here to get a confirmation answer.

Lan WangJi lowered his head and clenched the bedsheet as he spoke while he was still in the middle of sobbing, “I killed him.”

“WangJi..!”

That was not true at all. If they had to say that someone had killed Wei WuXian, it would be…

“A-Yuan!”

Lan XiChen turned to the door and saw Wen Qing was standing there along with Wen Ning who had come to get Wen Yuan back. Wen Ning remained standing outside of Jingshi while Wen Qing walked in uninvited and picked Wen Yuan up into her arms.

“Aunt Qing, Brother Xian will not leave me alone here. Brother Xian says he will stay with me forever. Besides, Brother Rich will never hurt Brother Xian,” said Wen Yuan as he stared at Wen Qing with teary eyes.

Wen Qing turned to look at Wen Yuan, looking like she was considering what should be said before she turned away and stared at Lan WangJi for a while and said, “But it is the truth.”

Lan WangJi once again lowered his head at Wen Qing’s statement. Lan XiChen stood up, ready to defend his younger brother because he knew his younger brother would not be explaining himself.

“Maiden Wen, you misunderstood,” said Lan XiChen.

Wen Qing turned to face Lan XiChen, anger was written all over her face as she spoke, “Oh, just what is it that I have misunderstood? All of the Lan disciples here are all praising our great Hanguang-jun for standing on the side of justice as he stabbed his ex-husband without any sign of hesitation. Second Master Lan, I have never expected that you can be so cruel. Do you know how much Wei WuXian is in love with you? As if divorcing him is not cruel enough, must you be the one to kill him too? If I have known earlier, I would have told Wei WuXian that –”

“Jiejie!”

Wen Qing went silent as soon as she heard her younger brother’s voice. She clicked her tongue, suddenly realized what she was about to spill out. Lan XiChen turned to his brother who sat still, tears still streaming down uncontrollably and he did not seem to have any will to explain himself at all.

“It is not like this. WangJi is not the one who killed WuXian,” explained Lan XiChen.

“Not him? Everyone saw Bichen was stabbed into Wei WuXian!” exclaimed Wen Qing.

“That… but WuXian is not dead under Bichen’s stab. WangJi and I were planning to bring WuXian back to Cloud Recesses right after he was stabbed, but elder brother came and brought WuXian away. They were headed to Burial Mounds and we all chased them, but when we finally arrived, we saw an explosion within Burial Mounds.”

“What?!” exclaimed Wen Ning, flabbergasted.

“You mean Sect Leader Nie brought Wei WuXian to Burial Mounds and then there was suddenly an explosion within Burial Mounds?” asked Wen Qing.

“Yes. I do not know what happened, but Baxia and Chenqing were there. They did not seem to be…”

Alive, but Lan XiChen did not have the heart to say that out loud.

Meanwhile, Wen Qing felt she had heard enough. She turned and left with Wen Yuan in her arms while Wen Ning followed behind her. After they left Jingshi and were back to Wen Yuan’s room, Wen Qing sang a lullaby until Wen Yuan fell asleep. When they checked and made sure that the toddler was finally asleep, Wen Ning turned to his sister.

“Jiejie.”

Wen Qing nodded, fully understood what her brother was about to say, “Yes. If it is really as what Sect Leader Lan said, then I guess there is a high possibility that they are still alive. I am pretty sure Sect Leader Nie will definitely do his best to try to save Wei WuXian out of this mess, and what would be better than having everyone thinks that Wei WuXian is finally dead?”

Wen Ning nodded, “If they are really still alive and left to hide in somewhere safe, I hope they will not return. Young Master Wei has been through so much, and if he returns, those cultivators who loathe him would only make everything worse for him. I still find it hard to believe that they actually think that Young Master Wei would kill Young Madame Jin, and what surprised me more is that even Sect Leader Jiang thinks so too.”

“Indeed. If they really somehow manage to survive, it will be so much better if they do not come back. With Sect Leader Nie by Wei WuXian’s side, I am sure they will be able to have a much happier life together compared to staying here to deal with so many ridiculous and brainless cultivators,” said Wen Qing.

Wen Ning nodded in agreement, “Yes, I am sure Sect Leader Nie will be good to Young Master Wei.”

Wen Qing smiled, “Of course, he loves Wei WuXian so much after all.”