Jin ZiXuan didn't quite know what to expect from the hunt on Phoenix Mountain.
Of course, the uncertainty he felt had nothing to do with the competition itself, but the fact that he would see Jiang YanLi again.
The same woman she once looked down on and thought unworthy of being her average partner simply because of being too much.
And, ironically, the same woman who was never able to leave her thoughts after actually meeting her. The same one that somehow made him want to be a better man to deserve her and give her everything she wanted.
Jin ZiXuan was self-aware enough to know that there was a problem or two in his personality, but there wasn't much he could do to eliminate years of nurturing and development from his sect, all at once.
Which is why perhaps, he let Jiang YanLi believe that his invitation to accompany his is due to his mother and not his true wishes.
Luckily, all his uncertainty was for nothing, since in the end, contrary to what he expected and feared, everything turned out fine, of course, if the permanent scar etched in his memory was overlooked, and the trauma that would prevent him from returning to look one of your brothers-in-law and your partner in the eye for a long, long time.
It all started, precisely, with the happy hunt.
Jin ZiXuan was abnormally tense and nervous from being alone with the first girl who made him feel something real, so it's no wonder that he made a mistake.
A simple carelessness on his part put him in danger, and from there things just moved on on their own. The words he wanted to say so badly, but couldn't help but stutter in his head, spilled out.
Even though he tried, he couldn't mask the worry and guilt. He also couldn't ignore the spark of hope that ignited in Jiang YanLi's eyes when these two things were evident on his face.
In this way, Jin ZiXuan, before even realizing it, found himself in front of a small crowd (his cousin, his mother, and some other members of his sect) confessing to Jiang YanLi that it was he who wanted to spend time with her (and not his mother who forced him), because he found out she was an amazing woman.
He yelled at her that he really liked her and that he hoped he could give her a second chance to woo her, despite having been an idiot, a blind man, and having hurt her.
As soon as he finished speaking, Jin ZiXuan regretted it. Not because he was sorry, of course, but because he was too impulsive.
He believed that Maiden Jiang deserved more than an open confession in the middle of a mountain full of corpses and other specters.
He didn't have thick skin, and god knew he wasn't as shameless as Wei Wuxian, so as soon as the reality of what he had just said settled in his brain he was about to flee to think of a way to kill himself silently without hurting his mother, and if he was lucky enough, maybe Maiden Jiang, but he didn't.
Not out of lack of desire, but because a firm yet gentle grip on his wrist stopped him.
What came next, Jin ZiXuan would never forget.
Not only did Jiang YanLi not reject him or make fun of him (he knew that she wouldn't do something like that, but he couldn't stop thinking about that possibility because he believed he really deserved it). Quite the contrary, and she even smiled at him.
As the heir to the Jin sect, and the son of a lustful womanizer, Jin ZiXuan had seen many beauties. However, the smile Maiden Jiang gave him somehow managed to dazzle him like no other woman ever did.
The simple gesture made him believe that he had lived only for that moment (later, on his wedding day and still later, the day he held his son in his arms, he would realize that he simply lived to find Jiang YanLi and make her his wife).
Jin ZiXuan promised himself that as long as he lived, he would do his best to make that woman happy, and thus, if he was lucky, perhaps he could see her smile the same way for the rest of his life.
Jin ZiXuan looked around and noticed that it was again just him and Maiden Jiang. His mother and the others must have come at some point, which he was really grateful for because he didn't think he had the face to face them in the near future.
Radiant, Jin ZiXuan invited Maiden Jiang to continue him walk around, a decision that he would regret for the rest of his life, after all, he would witness a scene that shattered his understanding of the world.
Jin ZiXuan had experienced many things. As someone who grew up hearing his parents argue every day, and seeing hypocritical people who only approached him for convenience, he always thought that nothing could surprise him, much less to the point of leaving him speechless and stammering.
It was too naive.
And it is that he still had something else to see before having that ability.
Jin ZiXuan was a man who learned from his mistakes, so this time he was much more attentive to his surroundings. Which is why, as soon as he heard cautious footsteps, he signaled to Maiden Jiang to be silent.
In this way, it was much easier to approach without being noticed.
It was there that Jin ZiXuan thought he was a complete fool.
He had been dreaming the entire time.
The first part of his dream had been sweet, perfect. He had confessed in the most shameful and horrible way, but he still got a positive response from Jiang YanLi.
Unfortunately, at some point, his beautiful dream turned into a shocking and shocking nightmare.
Why else would he be watching Wei Wuxian and Lan WangJi kiss wildly and desperately in the middle of the forest?
Jin ZiXuan knew there were a lot of short sleeves out there, but he never paid attention to any of them, partly because he didn't care, and partly because it had nothing to do with him.
In their world, cultivators preferred to keep such things for themselves rather than become gossip to others.
Seeing two men kissing like that in the forest during a competition despite knowing that the disciples and leaders of the four great sects were present would already be too shocking for the young heir of the Jin sect, but if the identities of those men They were the infamous Patriarch Yiling and the esteemed Huanguan-Jun, it was completely normal for Jin ZiXuan's brain to stop and go through something like his first out of body experience.
Open-mouthed, confused and frankly terrified and horrified in equal parts, Jin ZiXuan could only compose himself after who knows how long when he remembered that the sister of one of the protagonists of said show was at his side.
Jin ZiXuan couldn't allow his future wife to be scarred for life, and by the way, neither could he allow him to expose them and force them to face such brash ones.
Still stiff, Jin ZiXuan turned around to warn Jiang YanLi to leave as quickly as possible and to do their best to forget that this happened in the first place.
However, when he turned around he found something that upset him even more.
Jiang YanLi found himself smiling as he watched the couple do everything but talk.
Jin ZiXuan did not know if he should feel bewildered at the beauty that presented itself to his eyes, or the happiness and ecstasy that emanated from her in that situation.
Clearing his throat, Jin ZiXuan tried to get his attention, only to end up making a completely strange noise.
It was not be for lowerly. Even his vocal cords seemed to have frozen after such a large impact.
Jiang YanLi seemed to take pity on him, because he took his hand and patted him on the shoulder.
It was only so that Jin ZiXuan was able to calm down.
Not daring to look at what those two were at, Jin ZiXuan tried his best to pretend that it was just him and the maiden Jiang in the forest. "Maiden Jiang ... y-you ... t-they ... did you know?" He said awkwardly.
Jiang YanLi put a hand to his mouth to try to hide the amused smile that crept across his lips and coughed before confessing “I have long known that A-Xian has feelings for the second young master Lan, but he didn't know it was reciprocated".
Jin ZiXuan opened his mouth in shock, even though he had seen it with his own, hearing it from Jiang YanLi was very different.
Incredulous, Jin ZiXuan pinched his wrist, only to find that no, he was not dreaming.
Jiang YanLi must have seen the bewilderment in his expression, so he patiently explained, “A-Xian's feelings date back a long time, but he hadn't realized it. Whenever he spoke of the second young master Lan, he did so by excusing himself that he wanted to be his friend, and I thought it would be better for him to find out on his own".
Jin ZiXuan weakly nodded, and for some reason unknown to him, he turned around to keep watching.
He didn't want to look, but the man in question was his future brother-in-law. Furthermore, if those two really decided to go all the way in the middle of the forest, it was your obligation as heir to the Jin sect to interrupt them to prevent them from being embarrassed in front of others. After all, Wei Wuxian was part of the Jiang Sect and his actions would involve Sect Leader Jiang and Jiang YanLi.
Fortunately for him, it seemed that Wei Wuxian and Lan WangJi had already calmed down.
From where he was standing he could hear their conversation, although frankly Jin ZiXuan did his best not to pay attention to him.
He simply concentrated on watching as Wei Wuxian took Lan WangJi's hand and dragged him in his direction.
Jin ZiXuan couldn't help but panic.
He didn't want to be discovered. Not only because it would be extremely awkward to reveal himself under those circumstances, but also because he didn't want Wei Wuxian to interrupt his time with his sister.
Fortunately for him, Wei Wuxian was too busy making fun of how good Lan WangJi would be in bed to pay attention to them, and Lan WangJi, the same man that Jin ZiXuan considered, had the sensitivity of a stone, was trying his best to "berate" Wei Wuxian, even though he didn't seem to want him to stop at all.
If that was really the case, wouldn't he have already used the silencing spell?
Worst of all, at some point, Wei Wuxian even suggested doing it right there in the woods, in the middle of the competition!
Jin ZiXuan could only comfort himself by saying that Hanguang-Jun had enough common sense for the two of them, after all, he was the embodiment of the wall of discipline, the disciple that Lan QiRen was most proud of.
If Jin ZiXuan was sure of one thing, it was that hell would freeze over before Lan WangJi accepted such a proposal.
Or at least it was for something like two seconds.
Jin ZiXuan felt goose bumps rise upon hearing Lan WangJi's terse "Remember your words" reply.
By then, Jin ZiXuan simply stopped caring.
Those two were not ashamed!
Seeing that Wei Wuxian continued to bother Lan WangJi, and seeing how the latter lost his patience and cornered him against a tree and then started again from the beginning in a much more intimate and shameless way, Jin ZiXuan decided to save the little innocence that fit his eyes and Maiden Jiang's, and get out of there as soon as possible.
And perhaps help save everyone else's mental stability by putting a couple of barriers around.
Much later, when he formally asked for Jiang YanLi's hand in marriage, he would take it upon himself to tell Wei Wuxian how much he owed him.