Lan XiChen didn’t really know how he’d ended up in this situation. Normally it was his brother who would go wherever the chaos was, but here he was, somehow having been recruited by Jiang YanLi to rescue her younger brother.
When the Two Jades of Lan were sent the invitation, Lan XiChen had thought nothing of attending the wedding of the Jin heir to the daughter of the Jiang clan. Though they were originally both supposed to attend, WangJi had ended up in seclusion as a punishment for arguing with the Lan elders about his possible marriage partners. The elders had proposed Jin ZiXun, Nie HuaiSang, and Jiang WanYin—none of whom WangJi was particularly happy with.
Lan XiChen hadn’t truly understood his brother’s protests until he had met the three in question. The young Jin was a reprehensible individual who thought far too highly of himself, especially considering his meager skills. As for the young master of the Nie clan, Lan XiChen has to confess he was disappointed. He respected his sworn brother greatly but Nie MingJue’s younger brother held none of the traditional strength his clan was known for. The young man never wielded a sword, preferring to spend his time hiding behind a fan and reading erotic texts in plain view of the rest of the cultivation world. While Lan XiChen got along with Nie HuaiSang when their paths crossed, he was aware that WangJi would hate the match and would probably enter seclusion just to avoid interacting with the young Nie more than what was strictly necessary.
He wished his younger brother could marry for love. But he was also distinctly aware that his own lack of a visible partner was responsible for the Lan elders pushing WangJi to marry. Through the prospective partners were lacking, it was the last choice that was the cause of Lan XiChen’s current predicament. Jiang WanYin was possibly the angriest person Lan XiChen had ever met, surpassing even his Uncle, Lan QiRen. To be fair, his Uncle’s anger tended to be directed towards specific individuals and events rather than the all-encompassing cloud that seemed to follow the Jiang Sect Leader. One such person had been the Senior disciple of the YunmengJiang Sect, Wei WuXian.
Wei WuXian had been close friends with Nie HuaiSang and Jiang WanYin in the Cloud Recess a few years ago. The trio often got into trouble for the mischief they caused in the usually tranquil GusuLan Sect. It was unfortunate that Wei WuXian was sent home early, as Lan XiChen was hoping to convince his brother to act on the developing crush he had noticed. Though WangJi was quick to deny that any emotion other than annoyance was felt towards the bright-eyed disciple, Lan XiChen knew his brother well enough to spot the longing looks and softened expressions that were directed towards the other boy when he thought no one was looking. To be completely honest, when the idea of marrying WangJi into the YunmengJiang Sect had been brought forward, Lan XiChen had hoped that the candidate was their senior disciple. Unfortunately, the young man seemed to have disappeared from the public eye after the war with the Wen’s and was rarely heard from.
Lan XiChen would have expected Wei WuXian to be present at this occasion though. Despite being considered the younger brother of the bride, Wei WuXian was not at the wedding, and this seemed to be the current cause of Jiang WanYin’s ire. The Jiang Sect leader was scowling at the banquet and had been over heard muttering about “Wei WuXian” and “the damn Yiling Patriarch”. Others around the room were even muttering that they’d heard him mention the fearsome Ghost General and the Burial Mound. Thus, everyone in attendance had come to the only logical conclusion: Wei WuXian, younger brother of Jiang YanLi and senior disciple of the YunmengJiang Sect, had been kidnapped by the Ghost General on the orders of the Yiling Patriarch and was being held hostage in the Burial Mound.
And thus, Lan XiChen, as the First Jade of Lan and a renowned cultivator, had found himself beseeched by Jiang YanLi to save her brother from the clutches of the villainous Yiling Patriarch. Against his better judgement, which may in part be due to Jin GuangYao distracting him by being pretty, Lan XiChen agreed to undertake the task and rescue Wei WuXian. Though the journey to Yiling went as anticipated, the sight that greeted him when he arrived at the Burial Mound was far outside his expectations. Rather than the army of corpses and cultivators the Yiling Patriarch was rumoured to command, Lan XiChen found himself face to face with a group of elders who looked more like farmers than fearsome cultivators. The only person who could possibly have been considered a cultivator was the young woman who quickly noticed his approach and stepped into his path, brandishing the silver needles of a doctor as her weapon.
“What’s your business here?” She asked coldly, hand ready to launch a needle as soon as the stranger made a move towards the people who had clustered behind her. The remaining Wens were clutching farming equipment and branches as makeshift weapons as they shuffled together.
Making sure to keep his hands away from his sword, so as to not seem like a threat, Lan XiChen brought his hands up to bow to the lady. He now recognized her as Wen Qing, a renowned doctor who had vanished during the Sunshot campaign.
“Lady Wen,” he greeted. “I am here seeking Wei WuXian on behalf of his sister Jiang YanLi.”
Hearing the name of Wei WuXian’s sister, Wen Qing relaxed slightly. “He’s over by the river,” she told him, nodding towards the crest of a nearby hill. “Take A-Yuan with you. He’s been looking for Wei WuXian for the past thirty minutes.”
“A-Yuan?” Lan XiChen asked in confusion only to find his answer when a small child ran up to them.
“Sister Qing? Where’s Brother Xian?” The child asked, tugging on the sleeve of Wen Qing’s robes.
“This brother was about to go find him. Can you show him the way to the river A-Yuan?” Wen Qing replied.
“Yes!” The boy exclaimed. “I know the way,” he said grinning up at Lan XiChen and grabbing his hand to pull him in the right direction.
“Good luck,” Wen Qing called after them before turning back into the cave she had emerged from.
Lan XiChen hadn’t understood what the young lady Wen had meant by ‘good luck’ but as he and A-Yuan crested the hill, he began to understand.
Before him, he could see a young man dressed in dirty black and red robes fighting desperately against a fierce corpse. The young man was desperately flinging talismans at the corpse as the two traded blows. Letting go on A-Yuan’s hand and casting a quick barrier to keep him out of the way and safe, Lan XiChen launched himself into the fight, sending his sword, Shuoyue, to defend the man he assumed was Wei WuXian.
Almost as soon as his blade had entered the fight, Lan XiChen had to call it back as a talisman that was previously directed towards the fierce corpse zoomed towards his face. The pair who were previously fighting now stood side by side ready to attack the new threat.
“Let Wei WuXian go,” Lan XiChen ordered, pointing Shuoyue at the fierce corpse. It looked a little odd, almost like it was nervous but he simply put it down to the Burial Mound making its kind stronger than they were elsewhere.
“Let me go?” The young man in black and red, now confirmed to be Wei WuXian, asked. “Why would I be trapped? And more importantly, why are you attacking Wen Ning? He hasn’t done anything to you!” Wei WuXian then paused, turning to look at the newly named Wen Ning. “You haven’t done anything to him right? Sell him bad turnips or something?”
“Of course not, young Master Wei!” The corpse exclaimed.
‘Now that was certainly new,’ Lan XiChen thought. ‘Fierce corpses don’t talk.’
Feeling as if perhaps he was not given the correct information, Lan XiChen made the decision to lower his blade and explain his presence.
“I apologise for attacking without warning. We of the cultivation world had received information stating that you, Wei WuXian, had been kidnapped by the Ghost General on the orders of the Yiling patriarch. I was beseeched by your sister Jiang YanLi to come and rescue you.”
“But I wasn’t kidnapped,” Wei WuXian replied. “And certainly not by Wen Ning.”
Lan XiChen could have sworn he heard the corpse mutter “As if I could make young Master Wei do anything his didn’t want to.” But was polite enough not to mention it.
“Out of curiosity though,” Wei WuXian continued, blatantly ignoring the now pouting corpse by his side, “how did this rumour start? Because I need to know the story behind all this. Especially if Shijie got involved.”
“Someone overheard Sect Leader Jiang muttering about you and the Yiling Patriarch,” Lan XiChen replied. “Naturally, people assumed you had been kidnapped as Maiden Jiang insisted you would not have otherwise missed her wedding.”
Wei WuXian sighed before sitting on a nearby rock and motioning for A-Yuan, who was still in the small barrier Lan XiChen had set. The Eldest Jade of Lan dismissed the barrier and watched as the small child carefully picked his way down the slope.
“And so they sent a gorgeous strong man like you to save little old me,” Wei WuXian said with a mischievous look, winking up at Lan XiChen.
“Ahh,” Lan XiChen said quickly, straightening his already perfectly placed robes, “As lovely as you are, I’m afraid I am already spoken for.”
Immediately Wei WuXian’s expression shifted back to a friendly smile, dropping the flirtatious look he had been giving the eldest Lan brother. “Oh well, can’t blame a boy for trying,” he laughed, reaching out to pull A-Yuan, who and finally made it down the hill into his lap. “Hello Little Lotus, were you looking for me?”
“Mhm!” The small boy replied. “Brother Xian promised to play dragons with me today! But then you forgot!”
“Oh no!” Wei WuXian gasped in exaggerated horror. “Well then, I guess we’ll just have to play now then! Go and get Wen Ning, we can play near the cave.”
Wei WuXian rose to his feet once again, leaning to stretch his back after the spar he’d had with Wen Ning.
Lan XiChen in the meanwhile had remembered the reason he was here. “Out of curiosity,” he asked, “why did you not attend your shijie’s wedding?”
Wei WuXian sighed. “Jiang Cheng threatened to break both my legs if I dared to show up and darken the door of her important day.”
With the mention of the Leader of Jiang Sect’s name, Lan XiChen remembered the other problem he was facing. Though, considering that Wei WuXian was the head disciple of the YunmengJiang Sect, a new possibility might be available. He could faintly recall Wei WuXian from his time at the Cloud Recess. The young man was sent home early for punching the heir of Jin sect but before that, his energy had been a breath of fresh air. WangJi had even briefly harboured a crush on the smiling young man before he had vanished from the public eye. Maybe this would be a way to make things better. Heaven knows, with enough exposure to the chaotic energy he remembered following Wei WuXian, the Lan Elders might even reconsider their stance of forcing their heirs to marry.
Turning to assess the man beside him, who was still keeping a smiling eye on A-Yuan who was excitedly telling Wen Ning about his day, Lan XiChen came to the decision that this just might work.
“Would you consider meeting my younger brother?” Lan XiChen asked, startling Wei WuXian who seemed to have forgotten there was someone beside him. “He’s about this tall, clearly gay, and the Clan Elders are trying to force him to marry. The current choices include a Jin cousin, Nie HuaiSang, and Sect Leader Jiang.”
“They want someone to marry Jiang Cheng?!” Wei WuXian exclaimed with a delighted laugh. “The poor boy!” He paused for a moment in consideration. “Is he cute?”
“I mean, he is my younger brother,” Lan XiChen replied. “So I am certainly inclined to think so.”
“Describe him.” The other ordered with a grin.
“Hmm, six foot… two, I believe? Golden eyes, pale skin, very elegant. He rarely shows much emotion but he gets riled up quite easily,” Lan XiChen replied. “I’ve been told we look quite similar and since you flirted with me, I doubt you’d have many objections about his looks.”
Wei WuXian looked closer at the handsome cultivator before him, trying to figure out why his features were familiar. His memory wasn’t the best but he tended to remember pretty faces, a thing Jiang Cheng had teased him for many times in the past.
“And what’s the name of this handsome little brother of yours?” He asked after a moment.
Immediately, Wei WuXian’s expression brightened. “I was right!” He exclaimed. “You're related to Lan Zhan!”
“You remember my brother, Young Master Wei?” Lan XiChen asked, surprised by the use of his brother’s common name.
“Of course!” Wei WuXian replied with a grin. “Though I’m pretty sure he hated me from the start of our acquaintance. Might have something to do with sneaking out during the night and sneaking back in with alcohol.”
“Ahh,” Lan XiChen smiled slightly, “WangJi has always been a stickler for the rules. Though he has become slightly more relaxed now,” he quickly added before Wei WuXian could change his mind.
“Hmmm, well you drive a hand bargain. But alright, I’ll go with you to meet Lan Zhan again,” he said with his usual grin. “I haven’t seen him since the Sunshot campaign.”
Once again, Lan XiChen found himself surprised. “You participated in the Sunshot campaign, Young Master Wei? I was under the impression that you had vanished shortly after your time at the Cloud Recess.”
“I couldn’t let my family and friend go in alone, even if they didn’t know I was there,” he replied with a sad smile, not elaborating further.
Before Lan XiChen could attempt to pry more information from him, Wei WuXian changed the subject.
“So anyways, why exactly are you out here, in the Burial Mound of all places, trying to find your brother a husband?”
“Ahh, well, the Sect elders decided that at least one of the heirs should be married, and I was away dealing with sect leader business when they decided to push the issue. WangJi ended up taking the brunt of it, and now they are forcing him to choose between the people they have vetted. At least they are taking his preference into account and not marrying him off to a woman, or else I fear he might have outright refused and locked himself away to avoid repeating our parent’s history. I know WangJi used to be sweet on someone, but he refuses to mention or even acknowledge it.”
“I see,” Wei WuXian said. “Well, we certainly can’t have my poor Lan Zhan end up stuck with Jiang Cheng! Who knows, maybe we’ll even find out who he likes and get them together before he ends up married to me instead!”
“I’m sure my brother will be pleased enough to marry you should it come to that,” Lan XiChen replied with a smile that Wei WuXian could have sworn would look mischievous on anyone other than the First Jade of Lan.
“Let’s hope so,” the other answered with a grin. “I’m going to need to tell the Wen’s where I’m heading though.”
“Perhaps we should also visit your sister, as she was originally the reason I came to find you,” Lan XiChen suggested, recalling the original mission he was given.
“Hmm, very true. I’ve missed Shijie. I hope she’ll make me soup. And I might even be able to avoid Jiang Cheng breaking my legs if I stay near her.”
“How… charming,” Lan XiChen replied diplomatically but Wei WuXian just scoffed.
“You can call him an asshole,” he said with a snicker. “Everyone thinks it.”
The first Jade of Lan remained stoic though Wei WuXian could have sworn he saw his lips twitch in the slightest of laughs at the comment.
“I think we’re going to get along marvellously my dear future brother-in-law,” Wei WuXian said with a large grin. “Now then, let’s go get me a husband and make sure no one thinks I’m dead anymore!”
“What about the Yiling Patriarch?” Lan XiChen asked, unsure how the powerful cultivator fit into the whole group in the Burial Mound but rather certain that he was their leader. “Don’t you need to ask him if you can leave? Or let him know at the very least?”
Wei WuXian stared at him for a moment before bursting into laughter so loud that it drew the attention of Wen Ning and A-Yuan back to the pair.
“Young Master Wei?” Wen Ning asked, wondering what could have set off his friend this time.
“I asked if he needed permission from the Yiling Patriarch to leave,” Lan XiChen explained when he realised that there would be no response from the younger man who was still laughing.
“Sorry, sorry,” Wei WuXian said, finally calming down and stooping to lift A-Yuan into his arms again. “Hey A-Yuan, can you tell this Gege where the Yiling Patriarch is?” He asked the small child with a shit eating grin.
“Silly Brother Xian,” the small child replied, patting his caretakers face with a small hand. “You Yiling Patriarch.”
Lan XiChen stared at the pair in front of him in stunned surprise before it finally clicked.
“Oh. OH!” He exclaimed. “So that’s how you participated in the Sunshot campaign.”
He wondered mildly just who he would be unleashing on the Cloud Recess by getting Wei WuXian to marry WangJi but resigned himself to living with surprises. If his interaction with Wei WuXian so far was anything to go by, he would have to get used to them rather quickly.
“Yeah… that’s how. Didn’t go exactly to plan but at least I was of some help.”
Lan XiChen wouldn’t exactly consider what he had done “some help” considering the man and his army of corpses had wiped out over three quarters of the Wen cultivators but decided not to debate that.
“So anyways! How do you think the Lan Elders will react when the Yiling Patriarch shows up at Cloud Recess with the Ghost General to demand the hand of the Second Jade of Lan?”
“I believe my Uncle may very well have a heart attack.”
“Excellent,” Wei WuXian replied with another grin. “I’ve always wanted to get back at him for kicking me out and for all that copying. Besides, my mother shaved off his beard when she was there. I need to find a way to live up to her expectations.”
Spinning around with A-Yuan still in his arms. “Come on Wen Ning!” He called. “Time to move out! Tell your sister we’ll be back at some point, possibly with my future husband! And grab your chains! We need to put the fear of the ghost general into a few Lan cultivators!”
Lan XiChen wondered once again if GusuLan would survive the chaotic whirlwind that was Wei WuXian but consoled himself with a simple fact that often helped him come to decisions. At least WangJi would be happy. And after all, what more could he ask for as a big brother.