Chapter 1: The Start of a New Life
Someone was crying.
It was a young maiden, and it sounded like she was grieving for someone.
When Wei WuXian opened his eyes – no, he found himself unable to do so. Rather than opening his eyes and unable to see anything, it felt more like there were nothing under his eyelids. Apart from that, he felt something had dried on his face. He raised a hand to touch his face, and it somehow felt like there was dried blood.
“You..! You are awake?”
Hearing someone speaking, Wei WuXian forced himself to sit up. While doing so, he felt someone rushing to his side and helped him up.
“You… are you Wei WuXian?”
Wei WuXian turned to the source of the voice. How long had it been since someone called him that? Ever since he lost his golden core, he was always known as a demonic cultivator or the Yiling Patriarch. Somehow, having someone called him by his name made him felt a little warm.
“Yes,” Wei WuXian answered, his voice sounded raspy.
He was expecting the young maiden beside him to speak more or at least tell him why he was here, but she was silent. Wei WuXian guessed she was probably still grieving for someone she called Daozhang. After all, he had heard her crying non-stop when he first woke up.
For a second, he actually wondered if he was in the living world, in heaven, or in hell. He remembered clearly well that he was dead.
Jin GuangShan wanted him dead.
Jiang Cheng wanted him dead.
Jiang YanLi wanted him dead.
He could feel an inexplicable pain in his heart. It hurt to think of it again. He remembered when the Jin disciples had chained him down and when people of unknown faces took turns to stab him, he did not struggle much. After all, no one wanted him anymore. Jiang Cheng and Jiang YanLi hated him. He had lost the only family he had. He did not feel there was a point to remain alive anymore.
Yes, everyone wanted him dead, except for one man and the Wen remnants that he had saved.
He wondered how the man was doing.
Did he forget him soon after he was dead?
Was he married now?
“You… I… Daozhang…”
Wei WuXian heard the young maiden beside him spoke and he turned to her again, his previous thoughts were left aside immediately.
“First and foremost, can you tell me if I am in the living world, heaven or hell?” questioned Wei WuXian.
“You are alive,” answered the young maiden.
“Who are you? Do you know why I am here?” questioned Wei WuXian again.
“You can call me A-Qing. As for why you are here…” the young maiden sounded hesitant for a moment before she continued, “Daozhang said he was going to bring you back to life through a sacrificial ritual.”
Wei WuXian was taken aback. He wondered just who in the world was this Daozhang who seemed to love him so much to the extent that he would sacrifice his own life just to bring him back to life.
“Do you know what is Daozhang’s name?” asked Wei WuXian.
“Daozhang told me his name was Xiao XingChen, a disciple of Baoshan sanren and also the younger martial brother of your mother, Cangse sanren.”
“He is my… martial uncle?” Wei WuXian asked, startled.
“Yes, and also before you ask me anything about your eyes, Daozhang told me that he was sorry to inform you that you will not be able to see because you do not have a pair of eyes anymore. He apologized for summoning and forcing you into such an imperfect body.”
Wei WuXian raised his hands and touched the bandages on his face.
“As for why Daozhang had chosen to summon you back to living…” A-Qing started and as she recalled what Xiao XingChen had told her, she repeated those words to Wei WuXian.
“Years ago, Daozhang left the mountain to become a rogue cultivator and that was when he met an important friend, Song Lan, Song ZiChen. They traveled around and night hunted together as fellow cultivators. However, one day, they had heard of Xue Yang, Xue ChengMei, a merciless man who murdered a whole sect without even feeling that he was wrong. Daozhang captured him, but somehow, he managed to be released and took revenge by hurting Song Lan and murdering everyone in the Baixue Temple because he knew Song Lan was raised by the members of Baixue Temple. In the end, Song Lan had lost his eyes, and that was the reason why you could no longer see. Daozhang had donated his eyes to Song Lan.”
A-Qing took in a shuddering breath before she continued, “After that, Daozhang left to travel alone and met me on the way. While we traveled together, we found a man heavily injured. We saved him and the three of us then started living together. It was until recently that we found out the other man was Xue Yang. Daozhang did not know because he could not see. When Daozhang had night hunted with Xue Yang previously, it appeared that Xue Yang had cut off the villagers’ tongue and covered them with corpse powder. Being convinced that they were fierce corpses, Daozhang killed them all. When Daozhang knew about this, he felt he no longer had the right to stay alive. He had killed the innocents. His friend, Song Lan, was one of those who died under his sword.”
Wei WuXian could feel himself burning in rage as he listened to his martial uncle’s story. His martial uncle had such a tragic life, he did not deserve to die at all. The one who should have died was Xue Yang.
“So then, is my martial uncle requesting for me to kill Xue Yang by summoning me here?” Wei WuXian asked.
“Daozhang said to make you smile,” said A-Qing.
Wei WuXian was taken aback, “What?”
“Just smile,” said A-Qing.
Although he was bewildered, he still did as he was told. He smiled, and he could immediately feel the wound on his arm was healed.
“Daozhang said he brought you back to this world not to burden you with responsibilities, but it was because he had heard of your story. He said you did not deserve to die like that. However, if it is possible, there are a few things that he hoped you can help him with. First and foremost, kill Xue Yang. Leaving him here in this world will only harm more people. Secondly, find Song Lan and freed him under Xue Yang’s control. Lastly, Daozhang told you to protect me, stating that I am a nice girl.”
Wei WuXian could hear A-Qing was crying again when she was done repeating Xiao XingChen’s words. He might cry too if he still had a pair of eyes. In a fit of frustration, he clenched his fists. His martial uncle was right.
Xue Yang must die!
He would torture the man mercilessly to avenge Xiao XingChen, Song Lan, and everyone else who had been killed by Xue Yang.
“Where is my martial uncle’s sword?” questioned Wei WuXian.
He felt his hand touching a sword soon after.
“By the way, where are we?” questioned Wei WuXian.
“In a cabin within a forest. Daozhang brought me here, stating that it would be less likely to be found by Xue Yang,” answered A-Qing.
Wei WuXian nodded, “Do you know where Xue Yang is?”
“I do not know,” answered A-Qing.
“All right. Can you bring me out to the forest?”
“What are you going to do?” asked A-Qing.
“Cultivate and we will set out to kill Xue Yang.”
Feeling determination all over her, A-Qing quickly guided him out to the forest. Before they got out of the cabin though, A-Qing had offered him a wet towel to clean off his face.
“A-Qing, get in first. I do not know how strong my martial uncle’s golden core is, and since I am unable to see what is in front, it might accidentally hurt you,” said Wei WuXian.
“All right,” A-Qing said and ran back to the front of the cabin, watching Wei WuXian raised his sword – to be precise, Xiao XingChen’s sword and the trees in front of him had all fallen.
A-Qing clapped excitedly, “Brother Xian is amazing!”
There was a cocky smile lingering on his face, “Of course. I was once called a prodigy in my sect when I was young. After all, I am the head disciple of Yun –”
Well, not anymore.
He was banished from the sect.
He could no longer call himself a Yunmeng Jiang disciple, and he would never be able to return to Lotus Pier. No one would welcome him.
“Brother Xian is the head disciple of a sect? What sect is that?” A-Qing questioned in excitement.
The cocky smile on Wei WuXian’s face had been replaced with a sad smile instead. A-Qing noticed that and she was starting to wonder if she had said something wrong.
“No, it’s nothing. A-Qing, you get in first. I will need more time here to get used to my martial uncle’s sword. We will set out tomorrow,” said Wei WuXian.
“Then I will go in and cook for Brother Xian,” said A-Qing as she ran into the cabin.
Wei WuXian nodded and continued training himself. It had been a long time since he had held a sword. He had to get used to it and be stronger as soon as possible. This was going to be hard, challenging even, knowing that he would have to fight Xue Yang, the merciless killer without a pair of eyes. He also had to protect A-Qing on behalf of his martial uncle. After all, A-Qing was indeed a very nice girl.
Wei WuXian had no idea how long he had been training, but it had gotten cooler when A-Qing came out to call him in for dinner. Wei WuXian kept the sword back and allowed A-Qing to guide him back into the cabin. He was guided by A-Qing to take a seat before he was handed a bowl of rice along with a pair of chopsticks.
“There is not much food, I only managed to cook some vegetables. Try this, Brother Xian,” said A-Qing as she placed some vegetables onto Wei WuXian’s bowl of rice.
Wei WuXian tasted it, and he had to say he was surprised. It tasted delicious even if they were just vegetables.
“How is it?” asked A-Qing.
“Delicious,” said Wei WuXian.
A-Qing smiled proudly and continued to place more vegetables onto Wei WuXian’s bowl of rice.
That night, they spent time chattering with A-Qing telling him about Xiao XingChen and how they met each other. When A-Qing finished her story of how she had spent the days with Xiao XingChen, Wei WuXian suddenly asked her a question.
“A-Qing, do you know who is Chifeng-zun? Sect Leader Nie?”
A-Qing tilted her head, “Chifeng-zun? Sect leader? I do not know anything about the cultivators.”
Wei WuXian nodded, looking slightly disheartened.
A-Qing dared not ask who the man was no matter how much she wanted to. She was worried it would upset Wei WuXian even more. Apart from that, A-Qing was also very curious about how Wei WuXian had died, but of course, that was certainly not something someone could go around asking.
His history was not important. All A-Qing knew was that this man was a kind man, and she trusted him.
The next day, the two woke up and left the forest, officially starting their journey to search for Xue Yang.
“A-Qing, do you know where are we?” questioned Wei WuXian.
“I have asked around. Apparently, we are in Qinghe.”
Wei WuXian lost his footing and nearly fell if not for A-Qing’s grip on his arm was tight enough. It was undeniably true that he missed the Qinghe Nie sect leader a lot, but fate did not necessarily need to bring him to Qinghe to see or hear for himself just how Nie MingJue had been doing after all these 13 years.
“Come and buy this famous book, The Legend of Mingxian! First come first serve!”
Wei WuXian turned to the stall selling books and questioned, “The Legend of Mingxian? What book is this?”
“Young Master, have you not heard of this famous book? This book tells us about the tragic romance of two men who could not be together even though they were deeply in love. The two main characters in this story are Nie MingJue, the Qinghe Nie sect leader who is also known as Chifeng-zun, and Wei WuXian, who is also known as the Yiling Patriarch.”
Wei WuXian was flabbergasted.
A-Qing turned to Wei WuXian in shock.
“Come, come. Buy one and read it!” coaxed the seller, but after turning from the taller man with bandages wrapped around his eyes and then to the shorter young maiden who looked like she was blind too, he wondered if they could even read.
However, as a big fan of this book, he felt it was a pity to not know of the content of the book. He then took two chairs and closed his stall and said, “Come, Young Master and Young Maiden, please have a sit. Let me tell you all about this story.”
Wei WuXian and A-Qing sat down, both excited and curious about just what were the contents within such a thick book.
“Nie MingJue, the sect leader of Qinghe Nie sect, well-known for his strictness and violent temper. Wei WuXian, the Yiling Patriarch who used to be the head disciple of Yunmeng Jiang sect, well-known for his energetic and mischievous attitude. These two men were from two different sects and they were not close at all, yet they had been brought together during the Sunshot Campaign.”
Wei WuXian smiled softly. He remembered it pretty well just how he had joined forces with Nie MingJue during Sunshot Campaign.
Wen Chao and Wen Xu had been defeated back then. It was time to finish off the war by ending Wen RuoHan’s life. Nie MingJue and Wei WuXian both volunteered to be the ones to kill Wen RuoHan and that was how they ended up charging into Nightless City together.
However, Wen RuoHan was too strong. Not only did Nie MingJue and Wei WuXian did not manage to hurt Wen RuoHan at all, but they were also captured in the end and learned that Meng Yao was actually on Wen RuoHan’s side. Nie MingJue was enraged.
The two of them were locked and tortured every day.
“Are you still alive?” questioned Wei WuXian when he found Nie MingJue not moving much.
“I will not die before you,” said Nie MingJue.
Wei WuXian laughed at the answer, “Of course. Chifeng-zun is strong after all. How could he die so easily?”
“You are just as strong as me,” stated Nie MingJue.
The two chatted and coughed that night, and that was when they noticed that they could communicate quite well with each other. Despite coming from different sects and their difference in age, there were also quite a few things they were in common.
“All right, Wei WuXian. What about this? If we manage to get out of here, let’s take the oath to be sworn brothers.”
Wei WuXian smiled, “Gladly.”
However, one day, Wen RuoHan came into the place where they were locked in and demanded he would kill one of them today.
“Stop your nonsense! Kill me if you want!” exclaimed Nie MingJue.
Wen RuoHan smirked and advanced to Nie MingJue.
“No! If you have to kill someone today, then kill me first!” exclaimed Wei WuXian.
“No! Kill me first!”
Wen RuoHan turned and advanced toward Wei WuXian, lifting his face up to meet him.
“Indeed, I really should kill you first. You who do not even have a golden core is nothing but a useless man,” said Wen RuoHan.
Wei WuXian widened his eyes. How did Wen RuoHan know?
However, that was not important as he saw Wen RuoHan raised his hand. He could feel a great amount of spiritual energy gathering in the man’s hand. Knowing that this was how long he could stay in this world, he closed his eyes, welcoming death. However, a voice beside him made him snapped his eyes open.
“Wen RuoHan, are you afraid of me?” mocked Nie MingJue.
Wen RuoHan dropped his hand and turned to Nie MingJue, “What do you mean? Why would I even be afraid of you?”
“You are avoiding killing me first. Is it not because you are afraid you will not be able to kill me?”
Wen RuoHan was enraged. It was the first time someone had dared to challenge him. He raised both his hands and gathered an equal amount of spiritual energy into both of his hands and gritted his teeth, “Then I will kill both of you together!”
However, his hands had once again dropped down by his sides before he fell onto the ground with a sword stabbed into him from behind.
It was Jin GuangYao.
“And then? And then? What happened after that?” A-Qing asked excitedly.
What happened after they had been released was not something pleased to Wei WuXian. He was still resting and healing in Lotus Pier when Nie MingJue had come to visit.
“Are you healing well?” questioned Nie MingJue.
“Of course,” said Wei WuXian.
Nie MingJue, without a warning, grabbed Wei WuXian’s hand and checked his pulse to make sure if the absence of the golden core was true. Wei WuXian who was suddenly reminded of Nie MingJue must have known of his lack of golden core after hearing out Wen RuoHan’s last words quickly moved his hand away.
“As expected, you really do not have –”
Wei WuXian covered his mouth just before Nie MingJue could continue and tell everyone in Lotus Pier that he no longer had a golden core.
“Can you please keep your voice down?” questioned Wei WuXian.
“Only if you tell me how you lost it,” said Nie MingJue.
“If I tell you, can you promise that you will help me keep this a secret? You cannot tell anyone about this, not even to your brother because I cannot let this be known by anyone, especially my Shijie and Jiang Cheng.”
“I promise,” said Nie MingJue.
“Let’s go somewhere else first. This is not the right place,” said Wei WuXian.
Nie MingJue nodded and helped him up. They went out of Lotus Pier and strolled across the street of Yunmeng before Wei WuXian found a quiet place and told him how he had transferred his golden core to Jiang Cheng.
“That is ridiculous!” exclaimed Nie MingJue.
“Yes, it certainly is, but I managed to do it or to be precise, Wen Qing managed to do it.”
Nie MingJue had left after that. He had too much information to absorb. The two did not get in touch until a month later, the news of Nie MingJue, Lan XiChen and Jin GuangYao took the oath to be sworn brothers had traveled to Yunmeng.
Wei WuXian smiled sadly upon hearing the news. When they were captured and tortured in Qishan, Nie MingJue had promised to be his sworn brother if they managed to get out. However, Nie MingJue had learned that he no longer had a golden core and could only rely on being a demonic cultivator to survive. It made sense that Nie MingJue would not want to be his sworn brother anymore.
He turned up to the sky and realized that the day was getting dark. He had been out for a whole day, and it was time for him to return. Just when he was walking back to Lotus Pier, he heard his name being yelled out on the street of Yunmeng. Curious to who it was, Wei WuXian turned back and saw Nie MingJue descending from Baxia before him.
Wei WuXian was surprised. What was the man doing here?
When Nie MingJue was staring at him without saying anything, Wei WuXian spoke, “Congratulations, Chifeng-zun. I heard you gained two younger sworn brothers.”
Nie MingJue moved forward and spoke, “Wei WuXian, listen here. I have been thinking a lot lately, and after this one month of thinking, I realized I do not want to be your sworn brother.”
Although Wei WuXian could already guess that, it still saddened him.
Nie MingJue took in a deep breath and continued, “I do not want to be your sworn brother because I want to be your husband instead!”
In a fit of astonishment, Wei WuXian widened his eyes and dropped the jar of wine he was holding, smashing it into pieces.
Another smile was displayed across Wei WuXian’s face. He was starting to wonder who was the author of this book. How did he know so many things?
“And then? And then? What did Wei WuXian say?” A-Qing questioned excitedly. She was already fangirling on the two main characters of the book, Wei WuXian realized.
“Wei WuXian told Nie MingJue to stop joking around because it was not funny at all and Nie MingJue stood there, watching the man he loved leaving him.”
“What?!” A-Qing turned to the man beside him, and Wei WuXian could almost feel how angry and disappointed she was.
“Calm down, young maiden. This is not the end yet,” said the seller and he continued, “After that, the two did not meet up for a long time until certain news traveled to Qinghe. It was said that Wei WuXian had saved the Wen remnants captured by the Jin sect and brought all of them to live in Burial Mounds. He was disdained by the cultivation world for this, and he had also been banished from the Yunmeng Jiang Sect.”
A-Qing turned to look at Wei WuXian who had clenched his fists upon the mention of Yunmeng Jiang sect.
“Nie MingJue who had heard of the news flew to Burial Mounds immediately.”
Wei WuXian remembered how terrified the Wen remnants were when they first saw Nie MingJue. They thought he was here to kill them all, but Nie MingJue ignored them and went straight to find Wei WuXian who was busy reviving Wen Ning as a conscious fierce corpse.
Nie MingJue had told him to return to Unclean Realm with him, and he could bring along all the Wen remnants with him. Wei WuXian was happy to hear that, but he refused to do so. He did not want to burden him and risk him into being loathed by the cultivators out there. To be insulted for saving the Wen remnants, he alone was enough.
Nie MingJue however, was not a man to give up easily. He stayed at Burial Mounds for months, helping the Wen remnants to do farming once in a while, as well as lending Wei WuXian a hand in reviving Wen Ning’s consciousness.
Truthfully speaking, those few months were the happiest for Wei WuXian although he knew it was the worst few months for the Wen remnants who were not used to living in such a poor environment.
Chapter 2: The Past
“Well then, their relationship must have been improved, right? Are they going to kiss next?” questioned A-Qing, thrilled with the progress of the story.
“Calm down, young maiden, but you are close to that,” said the seller.
Wei WuXian felt himself blushing because he remembered clearly well what was to happen next.
That day, Nie MingJue had invited him to Unclean Realm. He was about to refuse, but the Wen remnants told him to go as a form of gratitude for having the great Chifeng-zun to help out in Burial Mounds. Wei WuXian was reluctant to leave them in case of cultivators like the Jin sect disciples might barge into Burial Mounds and harmed them, but the Wen remnants told him that if anything happened, they would have a fierce corpse here – Wen Ning to protect them. Nie MingJue also mentioned that he had sent a few disciples to protect Burial Mounds.
Obediently, Wei WuXian allowed Nie MingJue to lift him up onto Baxia and traveled to Unclean Realm. When he had arrived, the Nie disciples all looked at him, confounded with his sudden arrival and how close the demonic cultivator was standing with their sect leader. After all, their sect leader was well-known for his hatred for the Wen sect, and for Wei WuXian who had saved the Wen remnants, Nie MingJue should have hated him more than anyone else. However, with the glare that Nie MingJue had sent to each of the Nie disciples, Wei WuXian was treated with respect rather than disdain.
Not long after Wei WuXian had entered Unclean Realm, Lan XiChen, Lan WangJi and Jin GuangYao had arrived. Lan XiChen and Jin GuangYao were worried about their sworn brother while Lan WangJi merely wanted to know what Nie MingJue had been doing in Burial Mounds with Wei WuXian. Apparently, they had all heard the rumors of Nie MingJue had been spending time in Burial Mounds for months and he had only returned today. Some cultivators were suspecting him to be an accomplice of the Yiling Patriarch. Many felt that the Yiling Patriarch must have somehow hypnotized Nie MingJue.
To avoid trouble, Nie MingJue told Nie HuaiSang to accompany Wei WuXian until he finished meeting up with his guests. Once Nie MingJue had left the two alone, Nie HuaiSang bombarded Wei WuXian with questions like what was his relationship with his elder brother and why was he suddenly here in Unclean Realm. He knew his elder brother saw Wei WuXian as a friend after Sunshot Campaign, but he felt it was more than that. He also questioned Wei WuXian about what his brother had done with him during the months that he had disappeared. He thought the rumors that his elder brother was in Burial Mounds was fake, but he was proven wrong when Nie MingJue had returned with Wei WuXian.
Wei WuXian could only tell Nie HuaiSang to calm down as he contemplated what should and should not be said. He could neither tell Nie HuaiSang that he had the great Sect Leader Nie doing farming along with the Wen remnants nor researching on demonic cultivation to find a way to revive Wen Ning’s consciousness with him. Before he could even say anything, a loud noise came from the main hall. Worried about what had happened, Nie HuaiSang and Wei WuXian promptly ran out to check for themselves what was happening.
In the main hall, Lan XiChen, Lan WangJi and Jin GuangYao were standing there, stunned as they stared at Nie MingJue who was thrashing everything around him with Baxia. Wei WuXian and Nie HuaiSang who had just arrived at the scene were staring in shock too.
This was Qi deviation!
“Elder brother!” Nie HuaiSang screamed and dashed forward, only to be stopped by Jin GuangYao who was determined to protect him from getting accidentally stabbed by Baxia.
Wei WuXian however, was stunned. He felt himself trembling with fear. He only had one thought at the moment.
He could not lose Nie MingJue because he loved him.
He stepped forward and advanced to the now out of control Nie MingJue, ignoring the weird stares directed at him. Lan WangJi had grasped his arm and stopped him from advancing another step forward, and he struggled to get rid of the tight grip holding him in place.
And released him, that was what Lan WangJi did. Wei WuXian continued moving forward, only to have Baxia stabbed into him. Blood was dripping all over him, but that was not important. At least, it was not important to Wei WuXian.
“Chifeng-zun, Sect Leader Nie, Nie MingJue! I know you can hear me. Please, wake up! It’s me, Wei WuXian! Did you not say you want me to marry you? I promise you that I will marry you, I will do anything you want me to do for you as long as you go back to being your usual self.”
When there seemed to have no response from Nie MingJue, Wei WuXian added weakly, “Please?”
Baxia was pulled out of him and dropped onto the ground the next moment. Wei WuXian was weak from the blood loss and almost fell backward if not for Lan WangJi catching him from behind.
“Someone, go to Burial Mounds and get Wen Qing. Tell her Sect Leader Nie had a Qi deviation,” said Wei WuXian.
Lan XiChen looked around. No one seemed to be moving so he guessed he should be the one to go to get Wen Qing. Just when he was about to leave, a scream came from Nie MingJue who was gripping his head in pain. Lan XiChen started sending Nie MingJue spiritual energy while Lan WangJi took out his guqin to perform Cleansing. Wei WuXian stepped forward, wrapped his hands around Nie MingJue as he placed their lips together, kissing him. Nie MingJue struggled at first, but he soon released his hand from gripping his head and responded to the kiss. The two fell onto the ground soon after, one collapsed from the exhaustion of having experienced Qi deviation while another collapsed from excessive blood loss.
“Finally! Finally! But then Nie MingJue might not really hear Wei WuXian promising to marry him, would Wei WuXian deny that he had said it?” A-Qing questioned, and Wei WuXian gently smacked her head for thinking that he was someone to go back on his words. A-Qing giggled at him.
When Wei WuXian woke up the next time, Nie MingJue was sitting beside him on the bed.
“You are awake?” Nie MingJue questioned, his tone filled with worries.
Wei WuXian sat up immediately and scrutinized Nie MingJue, “Are you fine now? You are not injured, right?”
Nie MingJue nodded and Wei WuXian heaved a sigh of relief, “You scared me, you know? I thought I am going to lose you.”
“You scared me too. Do you know how terrified I was when I woke up to see you covered in blood? You should not have done that,” said Nie MingJue. Wei WuXian merely smiled it off.
“Do you mean it?” Nie MingJue questioned.
“Hmm? About what?” Wei WuXian asked, perplexed.
Wei WuXian felt the heat rising up to his cheeks, “O-Of course. Only if you do not mind marrying the infamous Yiling Patriarch.”
“You aren’t saying it just because you wanted to save me back then?” Nie MingJue questioned.
“I truly want to marry you. Back then, when I saw you encountering a Qi deviation, I was so terrified. That was when I realized I cannot lose you because I love you. I do not know what I would do if I could not save you. I –”
Wei WuXian halted when he felt Nie MingJue crashed his lips onto his.
“I am not going to marry anyone if that person is not you,” said Nie MingJue before he moved forward and placed their lips together once again.
“That is so romantic!” A-Qing squealed.
“I know, I know! This is the most romantic story that I have ever heard,” said the seller.
“So, did they get married in the end?” asked A-Qing.
“Well, about that… a week after that, there was a banquet at Lanling. Nie MingJue had told Wei WuXian that he would go to find Jiang YanLi and Sect Leader Jiang – they had always thought of Wei WuXian as their brother after all, and he would ask for his hand in marriage then.”
“A-Qing,” Wei WuXian suddenly stood up and said, “Let’s go.”
A-Qing was reluctant to leave, “But I want to finish hearing the story.”
“We are rushing, remember? We need to leave now,” said Wei WuXian as he turned to leave and pulled A-Qing along, giving no time for A-Qing to refuse. A-Qing pouted. She was having a great time enjoying the story.
Seeing his two listeners left, the seller continued to attract customers to purchase the famous book, The Legend of Mingxian from him.
Meanwhile, Wei WuXian was walking absentmindedly with his fists tightly clenched.
The banquet at Lanling – Jin RuLan’s full-month celebration.
That was the day that he had died.
A few days before the banquet, he was trying out the wedding robes that Nie MingJue had one of his disciples sent to him at Burial Mounds. He was smiling in delight because he was truly too happy. He was excited at the thought of getting married to Nie MingJue.
Wen Qing had jokingly told him that he should start behaving in a more mature and responsible way so he would not bring shame to Nie MingJue and the Qinghe Nie sect.
Wen Ning had told him that he looked gorgeous and that the wedding robes suited him a lot.
A-Yuan had been jumping around, stating that he wanted to try wearing the robes too.
The other Wen remnants also came to him to congratulate him on his upcoming wedding.
However, as expected, no happiness could last forever. There were visitors at Burial Mounds soon.
Jin GuangYao had come to visit, bringing along a few Lanling Jin sect disciples.
“Young Master Wei, Young Madame Jin said she has something urgent to talk to you about and requested for us to bring you to Lanling.”
Wei WuXian looked at Jin GuangYao, obviously not believing his words.
Jin GuangYao took out a hairpin and gave it to Wei WuXian, “Young Madame Jin said you will believe us if you see this.”
Wei WuXian clenched the hairpin in his hand, “Fine, I will go with you.”
“Wei WuXian!” Wen Qing shook her head as she grasped his arm.
“Wen Qing, this hairpin belongs to Shijie. I gave her this hairpin. She treasures this hairpin a lot and she usually will not let anyone else touch this hairpin.”
“But why did she not come to you herself or at least have Jiang WanYin here instead? Do you think you will survive walking into Lanling alone?” Wen Qing questioned worriedly.
“It might be something urgent. Besides, I would still be begging on the street if not for the Jiangs taking me in. Even if Shijie wants me to die, I will gladly die for her.”
Wen Qing knew nothing could stop Wei WuXian. She could only watch Wei WuXian left with Jin GuangYao and the other Lanling Jin sect disciples.
True enough, when Wei WuXian arrived at Lanling, he was welcomed by thousands of swords pointing at him and when he tried to use Chenqing to summon fierce corpses, he was told it was futile because all corpses around the area had been cleared out. They then chained him and brought him to the sect leader’s secret chamber.
Jin GuangShan had requested for him to hand out the Stygian Tiger Seal, but being Wei WuXian, of course, he refused. One of the Jin disciples had then thrown him into a pool of water, suffocating him and when he sounded like he was about to die from being unable to breathe, they pulled him up.
Ignoring Wei WuXian’s coughing and panting voice, Jin GuangShan had once again asked him to hand out the Stygian Tiger Seal. When Wei WuXian glared at him and refused to speak, Jin GuangShan gestured for the Jin disciples to punish him again.
This went on for a while before Jin GuangShan changed the topic, “Wei WuXian, how long do you think you can go on? Do you think someone will be coming here to save you? Like who? Your Shijie?”
Wei WuXian glared at him again.
Jin GuangShan scoffed, “Did you not see the hairpin? It was A-Li who gave it to me. When I told her that you are planning to use the Stygian Tiger Seal for evil meanings, A-Li told me that someone like you should die. She even told me she regretted treating someone as disgusting as you as her brother. In the end, she gave me the hairpin so I could trick you here, and then I can torture you however I want.”
“You lied! Shijie would never..!”
“Did I? Think about it. We dragged you in through the main entrance. Do you think A-Li would not know that you are here, being tortured by me by now? If she knows, why did she not come here to rescue you, or beg for me to release you?”
Wei WuXian was silent and Jin GuangShan had a satisfying smile lingering on his lips, “That’s right. Because A-Li, just like everyone else, wants to see you die.”
Jin GuangShan laughed as he saw Wei WuXian on the ground, looking broken with his eyes widened with shock. Deciding that it was enough torture for today, he brought the Jin disciples to leave with him, leaving Wei WuXian alone.
Wei WuXian had no idea how long he was there, crying alone. When he heard someone coming in, he looked up to see it was Jin GuangYao bringing a bowl of rice and a cup of water for him.
“Leave it there,” Wei WuXian said, his voice raspy.
“You need to eat some if you do not want to die,” said Jin GuangYao.
Wei WuXian laughed, “You seriously think I can get out of here alive?”
“You can if you hand out the Stygian Tiger Seal,” stated Jin GuangYao.
Wei WuXian heaved a sigh, “Do you think what Jin GuangShan is doing is right?”
Jin GuangYao contemplated for a while before he answered, “I don’t know.”
“Then I will tell you. What he is doing is wrong, he wants to be a second Wen RuoHan. You should leave his side as soon as possible. I know you are just following his orders, so I will not blame you. Besides, I do not think that you are that bad. After all, you are MingJue’s sworn brother. I believe in his choices.”
Jin GuangYao was inarticulate.
First time, besides Lan XiChen, someone had told him he was a good person. He looked at the man before him, and when he really looked at him, he noticed he was wearing a set of wedding robes.
Wei WuXian turned to see Jin GuangYao looking down at his wedding robes.
“Oh, this? My wedding robes. I am supposed to get married to MingJue next month, but I guess it will not be happening,” Wei WuXian said, a sad smile crossed his face, “Jin GuangYao, can you help me with something?”
Jin GuangYao nodded and Wei WuXian continued, “After I die, help me tell MingJue to forget about me, and find someone better to marry.”
Jin GuangYao looked horrified. Was Wei WuXian trying to get him killed? He was sure before he could even finish speaking, Baxia would already be cutting through his neck.
Wei WuXian understood his worries and stated, “There is no need to rush. Find a suitable time to tell him, when he looks calmer.”
The two sat there in silence for a while before Jin GuangYao decided he had to leave. The food and water were left untouched. The next day, Jin GuangShan came again.
“I will give you one last chance. Hand out Stygian Tiger Seal or die,” said Jin GuangShan.
Wei WuXian offered no answer.
“Very well. Let me tell you this, do not think I will not be able to do anything without the Stygian Tiger Seal. My great sect has invented a tool that can do the same as your Stygian Tiger Seal, but the tool has not been completed. The only thing left is that the tool needs to be drenched in a demonic cultivator’s blood for it to work,” stated Jin GuangShan.
Wei WuXian glared at Jin GuangShan, clenching his fists and gritting his teeth in anger.
“I do not want to do so, but it is A-Li and Sect Leader Jiang who suggested this idea to me,” said Jin GuangShan.
Wei WuXian widened his eyes before he closed them. He no longer knew if Jin GuangShan was speaking the truth, but it seemed true that Jiang YanLi and Jiang Cheng really wanted him dead. After all, Jin GuangShan was right. There was no way Jiang YanLi would not know that he was being tortured here. Besides, the hairpin. Jiang YanLi never let anyone touched that hairpin of hers without her permission.
He did not struggle even when he felt some people pulled him up and flew into a village. He did not know where it was, and it was not like it was important anyway. He would die here alone, without having anyone knew where he had died except Jin GuangShan and his people, and perhaps Jiang YanLi and Jiang Cheng.
He was chained to an altar, and there were hundreds of villagers standing before him. One of the Jin disciples had stuffed a cloth into his mouth while another explained to the villagers the reason they were here. Apparently, the villagers were finding for someone to be used for their village’s ritual sacrifice, and the Jins were telling them that this man before them was the most suitable candidate to be sacrificed because he was the infamous Yiling Patriarch who ate children and murdered human. Hearing how evil the Yiling Patriarch was, one of the men rushed forward and stabbed Wei WuXian with a knife.
Following his example, the others queued up and took turns in stabbing him all over the places – arms, legs, abdomen, chest.
Each stab felt more painful than the previous, and despite all the pain, he could not scream out loud with the cloth in his mouth preventing him from doing so. As the pain was getting unbearable, he could suddenly hear the voices of Jiang YanLi and Jiang Cheng.
A-Xian, come. I have made lotus root and pork rib soup for you.
Wei WuXian, where did you go again?
He felt tears trickling down his cheeks. They were his family, those he vowed to protect with his life, but they hated him now.
Another painful stab came to his abdomen. He felt himself gradually losing strength with the excessive blood loss, and when he felt a knife stabbed into his heart, he felt his sight getting blurry.
Finally, he was dying. At the moment, there was only one thought running within his head.
MingJue, I am sorry. I have to leave now.
The next thing he knew, he was here in Xiao XingChen’s body.
“Brother Xian! Brother Xian!”
Wei WuXian turned to the source of the voice.
“Brother Xian, are you all right?” asked A-Qing, her tone filled with worries.
Wei WuXian raised his hand up and gently patted A-Qing’s head, “I am fine. It’s all in the past now.”
Yes, it was all in the past now. He came back to life, and there was something more important for him to do.
He had to avenge his martial uncle.
He tightened his grip on Shuanghua. He could not wait to slash Xue Yang with his martial uncle’s sword.
Chapter 3: Nie MingJue's Story (Part 1)
On the dinner table within Unclean Realm, Nie MingJue, Nie HuaiSang, Jin GuangYao and the Wen remnants who were staying in Unclean Realm ever since Wei WuXian’s death were having their meal together. As usual, it was silent. In the past years, Nie HuaiSang would sometimes attempt to make a joke, but his brother had never once smiled. Nie MingJue would glare at his younger brother when he attempted another joke, which explained why Unclean Realm was as silent as Cloud Recesses nowadays.
“Father, uncles, aunties.”
Everyone turned, seeing their favorite child, Wei SiZhui had finally returned from another night hunt.
“Welcome back, A-Yuan.”
“How is the night hunt?”
“You did not get injured, did you?”
Wei SiZhui smiled at the elders’ bombarding questions, “I am fine. The night hunt went well. I even met a few junior disciples from other sects during the night hunt.”
“Come and eat with us,” stated Nie MingJue flatly.
Wei SiZhui smiled and nodded. When he was younger, with how coldly Nie MingJue spoke to him, he had always thought the man disliked him. He gradually learned that he did not dislike him, he was merely too busy grieving for his other father and that was why Wei SiZhui had never once seen him smiled for the past 13 years.
When Nie MingJue was done with his meal, he stood up.
“Father,” Wei SiZhui called out to him.
Nie MingJue turned to him and patted his head, “You have done well. Get some rest after the meal.”
The others in the dining hall continued eating after Nie MingJue left. They knew where he was going.
To the ancestral hall, where he had carved Wei WuXian’s name on a tablet and placed it within the ancestral hall.
Once Nie MingJue entered the ancestral hall, he stared at the tablet with the carvings Nie MingJue’s Husband, Wei WuXian.
He heaved a sigh.
Back then, he thought everything was going very well. He was going to marry the love of his life soon, but no one would have expected that the wedding that he had been anticipating would turn into a funeral instead.
Everything had gone wrong on the day of Jin RuLan’s full-month celebration.
That day, he had gone to Lanling, ready to meet Jiang YanLi and asked her for Wei WuXian’s hand in marriage. However, just as he was congratulating both Jiang YanLi and Jin ZiXuan on their son’s first full month of life, his right-hand man came to his side, whispering to him that Jin GuangYao had something urgent that he needed to speak with him outside of the hall. He frowned, wondering what was so important that he had to interrupt him now, and why did he not get into the hall to talk to him instead?
Once he was out of the hall, he saw Jin GuangYao standing there, looking worried.
“What is the matter?” He grumbled, still annoyed that he had been interrupted when he was just about to ask Jiang YanLi for Wei WuXian’s hand in marriage.
“Follow me, elder brother,” said Jin GuangYao as he pulled Nie MingJue along.
Nie MingJue’s right-hand man widened his eyes. Jin GuangYao was surely bold today, having the courage to pull Nie MingJue’s hand.
However, Nie MingJue was not someone you could pull along easily. Nie MingJue had flung Jin GuangYao’s hand away and demanded, “What is going on with you?”
“Elder brother, if you don’t come with me now, Young Master Wei is going to die,” said Jin GuangYao.
Nie MingJue was right in front of Jin GuangYao in an instant, clenching his robe, “What do you mean by that?”
“Can we start heading there first, or we will not be able to save Young Master Wei in time? Please, elder brother, I will explain it to you on the way,” pleaded Jin GuangYao.
Nie MingJue clicked his tongue in frustration, but he still rose onto Baxia with his right-hand man following behind him, and Jin GuangYao was in front of them, leading the way. Just when they had started flying for not long, they saw Wen Ning down there, stopped by multiple swords pointing at him.
“Please, let me see Sect Leader Nie,” Wen Ning pleaded.
“Wen QiongLin!” shouted Nie MingJue. Wen Ning looked up and jumped to reach Nie MingJue’s height.
“Sect Leader Nie, please save Young Master Wei. He is –”
“We are on the way to save him now, follow me,” said Jin GuangYao.
Wen Ning narrowed his eyes at him, “You..!”
“Please trust me this time,” said Jin GuangYao as he continued moving forward.
Wen Ning followed. He had no choice but to believe in Jin GuangYao. After all, he did not know where Wei WuXian was, and Nie MingJue seemed to trust this man. On the way there, Jin GuangYao had told them regarding Jin GuangShan’s plan to sacrifice Wei WuXian to create something as strong as the Stygian Tiger Seal. Nie MingJue nearly killed him on the spot, if not for his right-hand man and Wen Ning stopping him, reminding him that they still needed Jin GuangYao to guide them to Wei WuXian.
The four continued to fly until they reached a village and descended to the ground. The situation in the village was chaotic. Fierce corpses were everywhere, biting and killing the villagers. Those who were still uninjured were running around, trying to escape the upcoming attack from the fierce corpses.
“We are late,” mumbled Jin GuangYao, standing there, stunned.
Nie MingJue charged forward, killing off anyone who stood before him until he reached the altar. Fresh blood was still dripping down the altar, coming from the man who was still chained on it. The man on the altar had his eyes closed, his lips parted with a cloth stuffed in between them, and around a hundred or more stab wounds could be seen on the wedding robes he was wearing.
Nie MingJue dropped Baxia and staggered forward. His right-hand man was right behind him, preparing to catch his sect leader if he lost his balance.
Nie MingJue was standing at the side of the altar now. He bent down and removed the cloth in Wei WuXian’s mouth with a trembling hand.
“I am sorry. I am sorry, I am late,” said Nie MingJue, his hand caressing Wei WuXian’s face. He froze because Wei WuXian's face was as cold as ice.
Nie MingJue took in a shuddering breath, “I am here now. Please, open your eyes and look at me.”
Wen Ning advanced to Wei WuXian and placed his hand on Wei WuXian’s neck, checking for the man's pulse. There was none. Wen Ning dropped down to his knees and spoke tremblingly, “Young Master Wei, I am sorry I am late.”
Nie MingJue shook his head, ignoring the tears trickling down and refusing to face the cruel reality displayed before him, “No. WuXian, wake up. You promised that you will marry me! I… I was just about to ask Young Madame Jin for your hand in marriage. You said she doted on you a lot, I am sure she will agree, and we can get married, and have a happy life together.”
Upon hearing the mention of Young Madame Jin, Wen Ning stood up and clenched his fists. He sneered, “The reason why Young Master Wei is like this now isn’t it because of Young Madame Jin?”
Nie MingJue froze.
Jin GuangYao closed his eyes, feeling hot tears welling up in his eyes. He regretted not coming faster.
“What is that supposed to mean?” questioned Nie MingJue.
Wen Ning proceeded to tell him that it was Jin GuangYao who came to them, showing them the hairpin of Jiang YanLi and demanded that Wei WuXian followed them to Lanling.
Nie MingJue turned immediately and delivered a punch to Jin GuangYao.
“I am sorry. I am sorry,” said Jin GuangYao.
Meanwhile, Wen Ning saw the hairpin dropping out of Wei WuXian’s robe. He gripped the hairpin in his hands, “This is all my fault. I could not even protect Young Master Wei after all that he had done for us.”
Ignoring Jin GuangYao, Nie MingJue turned to clench Wen Ning’s robes, “Why did you not stop him?!”
“Young Master Wei had said that he owed the Jiangs, that if not for them, he would still be begging on the streets. He knew he might not be able to return, yet he still followed the Jins. He said that if it was Jiang YanLi’s wish to see him die, then he would gladly die for her.”
Nie MingJue gritted his teeth and shoved Wen Ning to the ground.
“Release him,” Nie MingJue demanded.
When no one made a move, Nie MingJue shouted, “I said release him from these chains!”
“These chains are specially made in the Jin sect. No one can remove it except for the sect leader and Madame Jin,” explained Jin GuangYao who was still on the ground, his lips bleeding from the punch he received.
Nie MingJue grabbed the chains binding Wei WuXian and used all his strength to pull them apart. It was futile though. No matter how strong Nie MingJue was, he could not break the chains at all.
“Sect leader!” exclaimed Nie MingJue’s right-hand man as he grasped his sect leader’s arm, stopping him from doing something futile.
Being Nie MingJue, of course, he pushed away the hand grasping his arm. No one could stop him from what he wanted to do. However, Nie MingJue had stopped pulling the chains apart. He was gathering spiritual energy in his hand, trying to break the chains with it.
Nie MingJue’s right-hand man stood at the side, feeling flustered of not knowing what he should do. Just then, he remembered Jin GuangYao’s words. Besides Jin GuangShan, Madame Jin could release Young Master Wei from the chains too.
The previous sect leader who was Nie MingJue’s father had once lent a helping hand to Madame Jin’s father. Madame Jin once said that their family was indebted to the Nie sect and she would lend a helping hand to the Nie sect if it was needed.
“Sect leader, I will go ask Madame Jin to help release Young Master Wei.”
Nie MingJue did not respond even when his right-hand man flew off. He focused on breaking off the chains using all the spiritual energy that he could gather up within him until he started throwing up blood, yet he still refused to stop.
“Sect Leader Nie!”
There was no point, yet Wen Ning knew nothing could stop Nie MingJue from hurting himself.
“Elder brother!” Jin GuangYao got up immediately and rushed to Nie MingJue’s side.
“Elder brother, please stop this!” exclaimed Jin GuangYao in worry, but who was he to order Nie MingJue around?
For hours, Nie MingJue ignored them all and continued to attempt to break the chains, pausing in between to throw up blood. He had only stopped when his right-hand man returned with Madame Jin not far behind.
Madame Jin looked shocked at what she was looking at. However, she wasted not another second and started casting a spell to release the dead man from the chains. Once the chains had been released, Nie MingJue wrapped his arms around the dead man, embracing him tightly, and ignoring the fact that he was being drenched in blood too.
Nie MingJue planted a kiss on Wei WuXian’s forehead, much to Madame Jin’s astonishment, and stated in a soft voice, “We are going home.”
Everyone watched as Nie MingJue lifted Wei WuXian into his arms and flew off. The others followed him closely. Madame Jin was having difficulties deciding if she should just return to Lanling or follow Nie MingJue to check up on him because the man really looked worrisome. However, it turned out that she did not need to choose at all. Nie MingJue was heading toward Lanling.
Madame Jin wondered what Nie MingJue was trying to do at Lanling. Did he not mention to the dead man in his arms that they would be going home?
She was pretty sure that Lanling… was not his home.
Before she could muster up the courage to question the enraged sect leader, Nie MingJue had already walked into the banquet hall. Everyone turned to stare at him, stunned.
Nie MingJue was there, standing at the entrance of the hall and carrying a dead man covered with blood.
Nie MingJue used one arm to continue carrying the man and with another free hand, he took Baxia out and pointed it at the Lanling Jin sect leader, “Jin GuangShan, I must kill you today!”
“Sect Leader Nie!”
Both Madame Jin and Jin GuangYao rushed forward and stood before Nie MingJue.
“Elder brother!” Lan XiChen was astounded, “A-Yao, what is happening here?”
Before Jin GuangYao could answer, Lan XiChen saw his younger brother staggering forward.
“WangJi?” He questioned, bemused.
Jin ZiXuan and Lan XiChen turned to Lan WangJi, surprised that it was really Wei WuXian on second look. Jin ZiXuan and Lan XiChen had only noticed the identity of the man in Nie MingJue’s arm when Lan WangJi had called out the name of the man. Jiang Cheng and Jiang YanLi suspected it was their brother at first glance, but they refused to believe it. However, when Lan WangJi had called out the name of the man so clearly, they could no longer deny the fact that Nie MingJue was carrying Wei WuXian who looked nothing but dead.
Jiang Cheng froze. He could not move. His legs and hands were trembling so much that it felt like if he moved, he would not be able to balance himself and would then fall onto the ground.
Jiang YanLi however, dashed forward, only to have Nie MingJue switching to point Baxia at her. Jiang Cheng and Jin ZiXuan promptly dashed forward, hands on their swords in case Nie MingJue was really trying to hurt Jiang YanLi.
“A-Li!” exclaimed Jin ZiXuan as he pulled his wife to stand behind him, “Chifeng-zun, what is the meaning of this?”
“Jiang YanLi, you already killed WuXian. What else are you not satisfied with?”
Jiang YanLi widened her eyes, so did Jiang Cheng and the others present in the hall. Jiang Cheng turned to his sister, who was looking just as astounded as he was.
Jiang YanLi shook her head, “I would never…”
“My sister would never hurt Wei WuXian,” said Jiang Cheng.
Nie MingJue gritted his teeth in anger. What right did these people have acting all surprised when they were the one who had killed his husband?!
“Wen QiongLin!” Nie MingJue yelled, “Show them the proof!”
Wen Ning obediently stepped forward. Everyone was surprised to notice that he had been standing behind there all this while. He was so silent and with Nie MingJue barging in and shouting, everyone had failed to notice the presence of a certain Ghost General. More importantly, they thought the Ghost General would only listen to the Yiling Patriarch. Since when did Nie MingJue learn to control the Ghost General too?
Wen Ning took out the hairpin, “Young Madame Jin, this hairpin belongs to you, right?”
Jiang Cheng turned to his sister in shock. He recognized the hairpin. It truly did belong to his sister, but his sister always took extra care of the hairpin. It was Wei WuXian’s first gift to her and she treasured it very much. She did not allow anyone to touch it. Back when they were still young and their parents were still alive, she even kept it safely in a box, afraid that their mother would try to destroy or throw it away after knowing that it was from Wei WuXian.
“According to Young Master Wei, you kept this hairpin safely and unless you gave it to someone, no one would be able to touch this hairpin. Weren’t you the one who gave this hairpin to the Jins and told them to capture Young Master Wei?”
When Jiang YanLi remained stunned, Wen Ning continued, “In the end, there is no doubt that no one understands Young Master Wei better than Young Madame Jin. You know that even if you were to want Young Master Wei to commit suicide, he would gladly do it for you. That was why when this hairpin was shown to him, even when we told him not to go and he knew just how dangerous it would be, he still went with the Jins. He said if Young Madame Jin wished to kill him, then he would gladly die.”
Jiang YanLi staggered backward, and Jin ZiXuan was there to catch her.
“I just want to ask, why? Young Madame Jin, Young Master Wei had done so much for your Yunmeng Jiang sect. He adored you so much, how could you bear to kill him like this?” questioned Wen Ning.
Jiang Cheng turned to his sister, his eyes had been rimmed red, “A-Jie, is what he said true?”
Jiang YanLi shook her head, “No. No, it’s not like this. I would never do that!”
Nie MingJue laughed, “You people from the Jiang sect are really something.”
“Sect Leader Nie, my sister loves Wei WuXian a lot. She would never –”
“Keep your mouth shut! Jiang WanYin, right here, you are the most disqualified to speak of Wei WuXian when he had given you his everything yet all you did is abandoning him in the end,” stated Nie MingJue.
“Sect Leader Nie!” exclaimed Wen Ning, knowing what Nie MingJue was about to say next.
“You keep your mouth shut too! If not for you and your sister, none of this would happen! Besides, WuXian is dead, died in the hands of those he once protected. There is no reason to keep this ridiculous secret anymore,” said Nie MingJue.
“Jiang WanYin, let me tell you this. The golden core in you right now is not yours. Your core was melted and it was not Baosan sanren who had restored your golden core for you. It was WuXian. He found out about Wen Qing’s theory on core transfer, and he had begged Wen Qing to transfer his core to you. That’s right. He no longer has a golden core in him, that is why he had to turn to demonic cultivation because it was his only way to stay alive. If you do not believe me, go to Burial Mounds. You can try summoning Suibian, see if you are able to do so. Apart from that, you can also try unsheathing Suibian. I have tried, so did Wen Qing and Wen QiongLin. It has been sealed. Besides Wei WuXian, only you who have Wei WuXian’s golden core will be able to pull the sword out,” Nie MingJue finished, watching how Jiang Cheng widened his eyes and dropped onto his knees in shock before him.
Jiang YanLi had covered her mouth with her hands, and tears were streaming down her cheeks. Jin ZiXuan wrapped a hand around his wife and embraced her, his shock was visible on his face. Lan WangJi felt all his strength left him and fell onto the ground. The others gasped, astonished with the surprising truth.
“But the one who had really killed WuXian is you, Jin GuangShan!” exclaimed Nie MingJue as he once again pointed Baxia at the man.
“Sect Leader Nie, what makes you think that I am the one who killed the Yiling Patriarch? If you have to suspect someone, then should you not suspect the one who took the hairpin and captured the Yiling Patriarch, or to be more precise, the man who had told you that the Yiling Patriarch was in danger and guided you the way to try saving him?” Jin GuangShan questioned.
Jin GuangYao turned to look at his father, inarticulate.
“That’s right. I really should kill you too,” Nie MingJue said, turning around and advanced toward Jin GuangYao.
Jin GuangYao could do nothing as he saw Baxia reaching him within a few seconds. He shut his eyes in fear, but the pain never came to him. When he opened his eyes, he saw Lan XiChen standing in front of him, Shuoyue halting Baxia from reaching them.
“XiChen, move out of my way!” Nie MingJue was enraged. He should have killed Meng Yao a long time ago, and then perhaps none of these would happen.
“Elder brother, please calm down. Killing A-Yao will not solve anything. Whether you kill A-Yao or Sect Leader Jin, that will be basically indicating that you are declaring war with the Lanling Jin sect. Elder brother, please consider this calmly, if not for yourself, then think of HuaiSang. If there is a war between the Jin and Nie sects, injuries and deaths are inescapable. Do you really want HuaiSang to be implicated in a war once again?”
Nie MingJue lowered down Baxia, looking surprised as if he had just only remembered he still had a younger brother.
“Who will think on behalf of me then? Is my happiness not important?” Nie MingJue’s voice was soft and filled with pain.
Both Lan XiChen and Jin GuangYao felt their blood froze on the spot. Never had they seen Nie MingJue looking so broken like he would break if anyone touched him.
“XiChen,” Nie MingJue said as he stared at the corpse in his arm, “We are supposed to get married next month. This is his wedding robes.”
Lan XiChen widened his eyes.
Jin GuangYao closed his eyes, feeling hot tears welling up in his eyes again.
Nie MingJue turned and moved out of the hall, and Lan XiChen and Jin GuangYao worriedly followed him. It was starting to rain outside, and Nie MingJue sank to his knees, allowing himself to be drenched in the rain. Grasping tightly at the corpse in his arms, he screamed.
Lan XiChen and Jin GuangYao stood behind, not daring to interrupt until they noticed something not being right.
Nie MingJue was having a Qi deviation!
Lan XiChen rushed forward and took Liebing out, “A-Yao, quick. Go get WangJi!”
Jin GuangYao was about to run back to the hall when Madame Jin appeared in the rain, “Sect Leader Lan, you perform Cleansing. Jin GuangYao and I can send him spiritual energy.”
With the mutual agreement, the three started helping out Nie MingJue until Nie MingJue had stopped screaming and collapsed.
Wen Ning walked up to Nie MingJue and carried Wei WuXian into his arms, “Sect Leader Lan, please carry Sect Leader Nie back to Unclean Realm. I will bring my sister to Unclean Realm to check on Sect Leader Nie.”
Without waiting for a response, Wen Ning had already jumped off and disappeared. Lan XiChen moved forward to walk toward Nie MingJue when Madame Jin stopped him, “Sect Leader Lan, I actually came out to inform you that Hanguang-jun had fainted right after you left.”
Lan XiChen turned to her, astounded, “What?!”
He turned to Nie MingJue. He could not leave his sworn brother alone, but at the same time, he also could not leave his younger brother alone.
“Second brother, I can bring elder brother back alone,” said Jin GuangYao. Lan XiChen was silent. He no longer knew if he should believe in his younger sworn brother’s words.
“Trust me, please. I will not screw up this time,” said Jin GuangYao, and Lan XiChen solemnly nodded at him before he left to take care of his younger brother.
“How is elder brother?” Lan XiChen questioned. Once he had made sure that his younger brother was fine, he had then left him in their uncle’s care and rushed to Qinghe immediately.
“Maiden Wen had said that it will take a while before elder brother will be able to wake up, but his condition is stable for now,” explained Jin GuangYao.
Lan XiChen nodded, looking relieved.
“How is Hanguang-jun? Is everything fine?” questioned Jin GuangYao.
“Uncle is looking after WangJi,” came the simple reply from Lan XiChen.
Jin GuangYao nodded and for a moment, the two stood there in silence.
“A-Yao,” Lan XiChen started, “Did you play any part in Young Master Wei’s death?”
Jin GuangYao was tired of lying and he had already regretted a lot for what he had done after seeing how miserable Nie MingJue was. He closed his eyes and answered, “Yes, I did.”
“Why?” Lan XiChen questioned.
Jin GuangYao opened his eyes and looked at the man before him. This was the first time that he had seen Lan XiChen so angry.
“You were there too when elder brother had a Qi deviation last time. You knew Young Master Wei had promised to marry elder brother, so why did you take part in ending Young Master Wei’s life when you knew they were supposed to get married soon?”
Jin GuangYao knelt down before Lan XiChen and cried out, “I know I have wronged elder brother. I regretted helping Sect Leader Jin in this although I did not feel wrong when I first did it because I was just following my father’s order. But I really regretted it, that was why I rushed to ask elder brother to go and save Young Master Wei. However, when we reached there, it was already too late. If only I could wake up earlier, then elder brother would not be like this now.”
Seeing how miserable Jin GuangYao looked as he cried, Lan XiChen was disheartened to be furious with him. He was about to bend down to help him stand up when he was reminded of the image of the dead Wei WuXian with around a hundred or more stab wounds on his body and the image of a heartbroken Nie MingJue. He kept his hands back to his sides and turned around, refusing to look at Jin GuangYao.
“A-Yao, do you know why elder brother wanted to make you his sworn brother?” questioned Lan XiChen.
When there was no response, Lan XiChen continued, “He thought you were a good man, and he wanted to make sure you do not walk into the wrong path. However, I think elder brother is absolutely disappointed in you now, so am I.”
Lan XiChen walked away, leaving Jin GuangYao crying alone.
Lan XiChen was right.
From the beginning, he knew what Jin GuangShan was doing was not right. He followed his orders merely because he wanted to be recognized as his son, but when Jin GuangShan had suggested Nie MingJue to kill him instead, he finally woke up. Jin GuangShan had never seen him as his son. He was more like a servant who Jin GuangShan would like to trample on again and again.
Nie MingJue was different.
Wei WuXian had told him he felt he was not a bad man because he was the man who Nie MingJue had chosen to be his sworn brother. Not everyone in this world had the right to be Nie MingJue’s sworn brother, yet he did not treasure it. Nie MingJue cared for him a lot although he had always acted harshly toward him after he saw him killed a commander of the Lanling Jin sect. However, he was only harsh to him because he did not want to see him walking on the wrong path.
He regretted not realizing who was actually treating him with kindness much earlier.
“Elder brother, you are awake!”
Hearing the voice, Jin GuangYao immediately stood up and wiped his tears away before he dashed into Nie MingJue’s room. Nie MingJue had already stood up with Lan XiChen and Nie HuaiSang on his sides, supporting him as he walked.
“What are you doing here?” questioned Nie MingJue, his voice as cold as ice.
“Elder brother, I –”
“Elder brother, I am sorry. Please listen to me –”
“I said scram! Don’t let me see your face again! Get out! Get out!” Nie MingJue’s voice was getting louder and louder, and they were all worried that he would encounter another Qi deviation again.
“Brother, please stay calm. Maiden Wen said you should not get too emotional,” said Nie HuaiSang.
“A-Yao, please leave first,” stated Lan XiChen coldly.
Lan XiChen’s words were final, and Jin GuangYao knew he had no choice but to leave. He did not want to see his elder sworn brother getting into Qi deviation again.
Once Jin GuangYao had left the room, Lan XiChen turned to the man beside him, “Elder brother.”
“Bring me to WuXian,” said Nie MingJue, and Nie HuaiSang and Lan XiChen both helped him walked to the hall where Wei WuXian had already been placed in a coffin.
Wen Qing and Wen Ning were there when they entered the hall. Nie MingJue staggered forward and placed his hand on the side of the coffin to support himself standing. He moved a trembling hand to caress Wei WuXian’s face. It felt even colder than before. He looked like he was just sleeping in there, but Nie MingJue knew he would never ever wake up from this sleep again.
There were tears dropping down to Wei WuXian’s face, and the others started to leave, knowing that someone as proud as Nie MingJue would not enjoy being seen crying.
Meanwhile, Jin GuangYao who had left Qinghe was heading back to Lanling. When he saw Jin GuangShan standing a few feet away from him, he was about to walk toward him, but he was stopped by a number of Jin disciples who came to stand in front of him, pointing their swords at him and halting him from advancing another step. He frowned at them. He had somehow already expected that, but it did not mean he would not be feeling disappointed.
“What a surprise. You still dare to return after what you have done?” questioned Jin GuangShan.
“I have done nothing wrong,” stated Jin GuangYao.
Jin GuangShan raised an eyebrow at him. This was the first time Jin GuangYao had raised his head up high when he spoke to him.
Jin GuangShan laughed and commanded the Jin disciples, “Beat him up and throw him out of Lanling.”
Nie HuaiSang heaved a sigh. He felt he had grown mature a lot these past few days. Suddenly, he had found himself helping his brother managing the sect because his brother refused to do anything besides staying at the side of the coffin, staring at Wei WuXian’s corpse and shedding tears. He even refused to eat and drink, and Nie HuaiSang was still thinking of a way to make his brother at least eat or drink something.
He was about to leave Unclean Realm and have a walk around Qinghe, but he then saw a man lied in front of the entrance of Unclean Realm, unconscious. Feeling suspicious of the man’s identity, Nie HuaiSang slowly walked to the unconscious man and kicked him a few times just to make sure that he was really unconscious. He bent down to move the man and get a better view of his identity, only to gasp in return when he saw the familiar face of the man covered with blood and bruises.
He promptly placed Jin GuangYao’s arm over his shoulder as he dragged him into one of the guest rooms in Unclean Realm before running out to get a physician. However, when he was running to get a physician, he met his elder brother on the way. He had told him that Jin GuangYao was injured and that he needed to get a physician now.
Nie MingJue was furious, “Who told you to let him in?! Tell him to scram!”
Nie HuaiSang flinched when his brother screamed at him, but he still managed to muster up the courage to speak, “But brother, he is unconscious. You cannot be expecting me to just forcefully throw him out, right?”
Nie MingJue frowned. Guessing that the silence meant he would not be throwing Jin GuangYao out any time soon, Nie HuaiSang dashed to get the physician and together, the three went into the guest room where Jin GuangYao was in.
The physician had started cleaning up his wounds and bandaging them. There were lots of blood, thought Nie HuaiSang. He wondered what had happened. He turned to his elder brother who looked calmer now. As expected, his elder brother still cared for Jin GuangYao. The fact that he did not throw him out proved that.
When the physician was done bandaging all the wounds, Jin GuangYao seemed to have woken up. Nie HuaiSang got to the bed and helped him up.
Jin GuangYao looked around in a daze, “Here is…”
“Brother Yao, you are in Unclean Realm. I found you outside unconscious. What happened?” questioned Nie HuaiSang.
“I… I have been kicked out of the Jin sect.”
Nie HuaiSang gasped.
There was a sad smile on Jin GuangYao’s face. It was no surprise to him though, and he was sure it was not surprising to Nie MingJue too. Everyone knew Jin GuangShan had never once seen him as his son. He was the one who had blindly followed his orders and refused to see the truth for himself. He turned to look at Nie MingJue who was refusing to look at him.
He was obviously not welcomed here.
“I am sorry. I know you do not want to see me, elder brother. I have merely come here to check if you are fine, but I never expect myself to collapse in front of Unclean Realm. I will be leaving now,” said Jin GuangYao as he moved to leave the bed and nearly fell if not for Nie HuaiSang catching him in time.
“I am fine,” he said to Nie HuaiSang and attempted to stand up again.
“Where do you think you are going? If you leave like that, wouldn’t the people who see you think that it was our Qinghe Nie sect who had injured you?”
Jin GuangYao stared at Nie MingJue, bewildered.
“Brother is letting you stay here to heal,” said Nie HuaiSang happily.
Nie MingJue scoffed, “Leave once you are healed!”
Before Jin GuangYao could even express his gratitude, Nie MingJue had stormed out, banging the door close behind him.
Another smile was seen lingering on Jin GuangYao’s face. This time, it was a happy smile. Although Nie MingJue was angry and was most probably loathing him to the point that he wished to stab him with Baxia, yet it was obvious that he still cared for him.
This time, he would not screw things up again. He would prove to Nie MingJue that he was truly feeling remorse and regretted the things that he had done wrongly. All he wanted was that Nie MingJue would not deny him of being his sworn brother.
A few days later, Jin GuangYao’s wounds were almost healed. Coincidentally, it was also Wei WuXian’s funeral. Both Lan XiChen and Jin GuangYao had helped to take care of the guests since Nie HuaiSang alone could not manage everything, and Nie MingJue refused to do anything apart from standing at the side of the coffin staring at Wei WuXian.
Truthfully, those who were sincerely here for Wei WuXian were only the Wen remnants and Lan WangJi, perhaps Lan QiRen too who seemed to look at Wei WuXian differently after learning that he had given his golden core to the Yunmeng Jiang sect leader. The Yunmeng Jiang sect and Lanling Jin sect were banned from attending the funeral. Nie MingJue had given his orders that if any of them were spotted trying to come into Unclean Realm, they should be chased away immediately.
However, there were people who even the Nie disciples did not dare to chase away. For example, Jin GuangShan.
Jin GuangShan had walked in with a few Jin disciples behind him. When Jin GuangShan saw Jin GuangYao, he sneered and walked past him. Lan XiChen glanced at Jin GuangYao, worried that he might be upset but apparently, his younger sworn brother was coping much better than he had expected.
The two followed behind the Jins, worried that they might enrage Nie MingJue again and risked him getting into another Qi deviation. Lan XiChen could see Jin GuangShan was opening his mouth, and he almost wished he could put on the silence spell on the man. Whatever the man was about to say, he was sure that it would anger Nie MingJue.
“Please accept my deepest condolences for your loss, Sect Leader Nie.”
Yes. Not only did it anger Nie MingJue, Lan XiChen was furious too.
Jin GuangYao had briefly told him how Wei WuXian was killed, and now Jin GuangShan was here, acting like it was a pity that Wei WuXian had died.
Baxia was out in an instant, pointing at Jin GuangShan.
“Calm down, Sect Leader Nie. I will be leaving now,” said Jin GuangShan but then as if remembering something, he turned around again and walked toward Nie MingJue and whispered something to him.
Nie MingJue turned to look at him, but Jin GuangShan had already walked away smiling. Lan XiChen and Jin GuangYao turned to each other, anxious about what Jin GuangShan had told Nie MingJue.
Lan XiChen walked forward, “Elder brother, did Sect Leader Jin say anything inappropriate?”
Nie MingJue glanced at Jin GuangYao before he turned to Lan XiChen, answering, “It’s nothing.”
After that, the funeral ended successfully with no more unwelcomed guests.
Those who were close to Nie MingJue thought he would get better after the funeral, but they were wrong. If anything, Nie MingJue’s condition had worsened. He had even started to refuse to get out of his room. When either Nie HuaiSang or Lan XiChen delivered food to him, he would refuse to eat it. Strange enough, when Jin GuangYao tried delivering food to him, he would always finish them all. It appeared almost as though he was afraid that someone would insert poison into his food, and Jin GuangYao was the only exception.
No one could have guessed that it was the exact opposite of what they were thinking.
After a few months, Nie MingJue finally snapped at Jin GuangYao.
“Stop wasting time! Whatever you want to do, do it now. Can you still call yourself a man like this?”
Jin GuangYao was puzzled, “I don’t understand, elder brother. What am I supposed to do? Did I do something wrong again?”
“Stop pretending, Jin GuangShan had told me everything. When I first had a Qi deviation, it was you who placed something into my cup of tea, am I right?” questioned Nie MingJue as he proceeded to tell him what Jin GuangShan had told him months ago during Wei WuXian’s funeral.
“Calm down, Sect Leader Nie. I will be leaving now,” said Jin GuangShan but then as if remembering something, he turned around again and walked toward Nie MingJue and whispered, “Oh, right. Before I forget, Sect Leader Nie, I really do admire you for putting someone as dangerous as that youngest sworn brother of yours by your side. Did you not know that when you first had a Qi deviation, it was he who had put something into your tea? Even now, the reason why he is here by your side is that he is waiting for the right chance to kill you again.”
Jin GuangYao widened his eyes. That was not true. The first time was because he was still working under Jin GuangShan and was listening to his orders. However, the reason that he was here now was definitely not because he wanted to harm Nie MingJue. He just wanted to stay by his side as his sworn brother and take care of him.
He sank to his knees before Nie MingJue, “No. Please listen to my explanation, elder brother. Yes, I admit that it was me during your first Qi deviation, but I swear I do not mean to harm you now. I just want to take care of you and stay by your side as your sworn brother.”
Nie MingJue glowered, “In that case, then there is no reason for me to keep you here.”
Jin GuangYao froze and questioned, “What?”
It did not make sense at all. What did Nie MingJue even mean by saying that he had no reason to keep him here if he was not planning to kill him?
“I was waiting for you to kill me so I can meet up with WuXian soon. I am really disappointed with you,” said Nie MingJue as he stood up and left.
Jin GuangYao was left there kneeling alone, bemused with what had just happened.
However, even after Nie MingJue had told him that there was no reason to keep him in Unclean Realm anymore, Jin GuangYao did not leave. He could not leave even if he wanted to, not after learning that his elder sworn brother was having suicidal thoughts. The fact that he was anticipating to be killed and was not planning to do anything about it was truly terrifying.
Just like that, Jin GuangYao continued staying in Unclean Realm and using his ways to care for Nie MingJue no matter how much Nie MingJue yelled and glared at him repeatedly. He did not mind at all, thinking that it was what he deserved after the uncountable wrong deeds that he had done.
Unclean Realm had been rather peaceful (if you exclude the times where Nie MingJue yelled at Jin GuangYao) until when on one fateful day, the Lanling Jin sect came to attack. Nie MingJue was delighted that they had come to seek death. After so long of grieving, he could finally spend some time bonding with Baxia.
Jin GuangYao had raised Hensheng and pointed it at Jin GuangShan. However, as Jin GuangShan stepped forward, his hands started to tremble. He did not have the courage to kill him with Hensheng.
“Remember that I am your father,” said Jin GuangShan as he walked past him.
Jin GuangYao stood there, stunned. He had no idea how long he had been in a daze, but he had snapped out of it when he heard a Nie disciple screaming.
“Sect Leader Nie!”
He widened his eyes when he turned and saw Jin GuangShan trying to attack Nie MingJue from behind. Jin GuangYao promptly dashed forward and stopped his father's sword from reaching Nie MingJue. Nie MingJue turned around to see blood was dripping down Jin GuangYao’s chest. With a swift moment, Nie MingJue had slashed Baxia onto Jin GuangShan, finally ending his life.
“A-Yao, hang in there!”
Jin GuangYao smiled, and Nie MingJue scolded him for smiling at such a time.
“It’s been such a long time since I heard you call me A-Yao. I am happy.”
Nie MingJue gritted his teeth in frustration before he lifted up Jin GuangYao in his arms and brought him to Wen Qing. Thankfully, Jin GuangShan did not pierce through his heart. With Wen Qing’s medical skills, Jin GuangYao would be able to heal completely very soon.
After a long, exhausting day, the battle in Qinghe had ended. The Jins who had attacked Qinghe had all been wiped out. Jin ZiXuan had successfully taken the place as the Lanling Jin sect leader. Nie MingJue who was feared by everyone now because of his strength to wipe out around eighty percent or more of the Lanling Jin Sect cultivators had securely taken the place as the Chief Cultivator.
A-Qing sniffed miserably and started wiping the tears off her face when the story had ended. That was truly tragic, be it for Wei WuXian, Nie MingJue, or even Jin GuangYao. However, she felt the one who had it the worst was Nie MingJue. Fortunately, he had someone by his side to accompany him throughout the years of his grieving.
His sworn brothers.
His younger brother.
A-Qing looked up to the sky. It was already so dark. She had sneaked out from the inn to get the bookseller to continue the story for her. She had to rush back before Wei WuXian found out that she was gone. After thanking the seller, she started walking back to the inn.
“The young maiden is back!”
A-Qing, having reached the inn, heard the innkeeper announcing her return. Wei WuXian was there too.
“A-Qing, what is wrong with you?! Do you know how worried I am? How can you just inform the innkeeper to inform me that you will be out and really went out alone? What if you meet –”
Before Wei WuXian could even finish scolding her, he felt A-Qing suddenly wrapped her arms around him.
“A-Qing, what’s wrong?” questioned Wei WuXian worriedly.
“Brother Xian, I feel so sorry for you! You should not have died like that!”
Wei WuXian froze, “You..! How did you..? You went to listen to the remaining of the story?”
“I just finished the book,” said A-Qing.
“Well, how did I die?” questioned Wei WuXian.
“You had around a hundred or more stab wounds when Nie MingJue found you. The culprit was the Jin sect and Jiang YanLi was the one who helped the Jin sect to capture you,” said A-Qing.
He felt his heart ached at the mention of Jiang YanLi but wait, what?
“You said MingJue found me?”
“Yes, Jin GuangYao brought him and Wen Ning to save you, but they were too late.”
Wei WuXian suddenly felt an inexplicable pain in his heart, imagining how Nie MingJue must have looked back then when he saw him in his wedding robes, dead.
“I have been wondering, who is the author of this book?” Wei WuXian questioned.
“The seller said the writer is the younger brother of Nie MingJue, Nie HuaiSang,” answered A-Qing.
Wei WuXian slammed his palm onto his forehead. Seriously, he had thought Nie HuaiSang should be busy improving his cultivation in these past 13 years, but all he did was becoming a writer instead. Sometimes, he had to wonder how his legs were not broken yet. After all, he did mention that Nie MingJue always threatened to break his legs if his cultivation did not improve any further.
I am not sure if Nie HuaiSang is addressing Jin GuangYao as third brother or Brother Yao at this point in time, but if he should be calling him third brother, then let's just imagine that Nie MingJue is so furious that he forbids Nie HuaiSang for calling him that.
Thank you for reading!
Chapter 5: Jin Ling's Story
Early in the morning, Jin Ling tidied up his room and prepared to leave Yunmeng. It had been like this ever since he was very young. His parents had divorced when he was only one month old. Since then, he had to live a few months in Yunmeng and another few months in Lanling, often traveling between the two places as his parents were living separately. This had been going on for years, and in his opinion, the fact that he had grown up in a broken family was all because of Wei WuXian, the Yiling Patriarch!
Wei WuXian was the reason that his mother and father had divorced, and even after 13 years had passed since Wei WuXian’s death, his mother still refused to look at his father for even a second. He curled his lip as he was reminded of why he had grown up in a broken family, and just like usual, thinking of Wei WuXian made his blood boiled. However, it was not like there was anything he could do about it. After all, Wei WuXian was dead. He could not just go to his grave and yell at him for breaking his family apart.
He heaved a sigh and left his room. Since he was leaving to stay in Lanling today, he guessed he should inform his mother and uncle. He was not even sure if they remembered – no, sometimes, he was not even sure if they realized he was in Lotus Pier at all. They were both so busy grieving for the man who was the cause of his parents’ divorce.
It was always easy to find his mother and uncle because the two usually stayed in the same places. His mother, Jiang YanLi would usually be in the kitchen cooking or in the ancestral hall, staring at the tablet with Wei WuXian’s name carved on it, and sometimes she would even stare at the other two tablets with Jin Ling’s grandparents’ name carved on it. His uncle, Jiang WanYin would either be busy managing the sect or locking himself in Wei WuXian’s room.
He went to the ancestral hall first, and true enough, his mother was in there again. This time, his uncle was there too, standing outside of the ancestral hall and staring at the back of Jiang YanLi. He looked like he was about to step in with one leg raised up, but something seemed to have made him changed his mind as he turned around, seeing Jin Ling standing a few feet away from him.
“Jin Ling? Oh, right. You are going back to Lanling today,” said Jiang Cheng.
“Yes,” Jin Ling answered.
Hearing the two voices, Jiang YanLi came out from the ancestral hall and patted on Jin Ling’s head, “Be careful out there, A-Ling.”
Jin Ling nodded, “Mother, do you want to walk me out?”
Jiang YanLi knew that was translated as do you want to meet up with father, and she shook her head. For 13 years, she had avoided seeing Jin ZiXuan because every time she saw him, she would be reminded of the image of Wei WuXian in Nie MingJue’s arms, dead.
She watched Jin Ling walked away disappointedly. She felt sorry for her son for not having a complete family, always having to travel from Yunmeng to Lanling and vice versa, never having truly experienced how to have a meal with all family members. However, she could not bring herself to forgive the Jin sect and her ex-husband for taking part in killing her brother.
The one that she could not forgive was herself.
After the day where Nie MingJue had left Lanling carrying the dead Wei WuXian in his arms, Jiang YanLi had stayed in her room without any intention to move or speak. She had refused to eat and drink, and never even bothered to look at Jin Ling when he was screaming and crying. Madame Jin and Jin ZiXuan were feeling hopeless.
Knowing that this should not go on, Jin ZiXuan had dropped down before Jiang YanLi who was sitting at a corner of the room, “A-Li. Please eat something.”
When Jiang YanLi remained silent, Jin ZiXuan continued, “Please, Wei WuXian would not want to see you like this either.”
Jiang YanLi looked up and stared at Jin ZiXuan, “A-Xuan, my hairpin… Were you the one who had given it to your father or any of your sect disciples?”
Jin ZiXuan froze and was only able to find his voice a few seconds later, “A-Li. Please let me explain. I did not know it would turn out like this. I did not know they were using the hairpin to kill Wei WuXian. It was just ZiXun. You remember ZiXun, right? He told me he was suspecting that Wei WuXian had cursed him with the hundred holes curse, and to prove that, he needed an item that belonged to Wei WuXian to cast a spell on it and check out whether Wei WuXian was the one who cursed him. He suggested that it could be something that Wei WuXian had given to you. I thought that it could help Wei WuXian clear his name if he was not the one who had cursed ZiXun, and you would be happy with it, but I never thought…”
Jin ZiXuan reached forward to touch his wife, but Jiang YanLi backed away immediately.
“A-Xuan, I don’t think I can stay in a family who had killed my brother. I think…” Jiang YanLi took a shuddering breath and continued, “I think we should divorce.”
On the same day, Jiang YanLi had packed up her things and left Lanling with Jin Ling in her arms. When she reached Lotus Pier, she saw Jiang Cheng staring at Suibian. The siblings met each other’s gaze, yet they never bothered to exchange any words.
Jiang Cheng did not ask anything even when he saw his sister coming back with her belongings and Jin Ling in her arms, looking like she was back to living in Lotus Pier permanently. He also did not question her whether she was the cause of Wei WuXian’s death. Jiang YanLi was not sure if that was because her brother completely trusted her or that he did not know if he could handle the truth. At the same time, Jiang Cheng felt relieved that Jiang YanLi did not ask him anything regarding the golden core in his body.
“A-Jie, are you all right?” asked Jiang Cheng.
Jiang YanLi realized she was in tears again and quickly wiped them away, “I am fine. Let’s eat.”
Jiang Cheng nodded and walked beside his sister to the dining hall.
Outside of Lotus Pier stood Jin ZiXuan. When Jin Ling saw him, he ran to his father immediately.
Jin ZiXuan smiled, “A-Ling, you have grown taller.”
Jin Ling blushed, “Not enough. I want to grow up to be as tall as father!”
Jin ZiXuan laughed lightly and patted his son’s head, “Shall we head to Lanling now?”
Jin Ling nodded, and together they rose onto their swords and headed back to Jin Ling’s other home.
“A-Ling, is everything fine in Yunmeng?” questioned Jin ZiXuan.
“Just the usual. Nothing is wrong,” answered Jin Ling.
“Is your mother fine?” asked Jin ZiXuan.
This, Jin Ling thought, was what his father meant to ask on his first question. He heaved a sigh.
“Mother is like usual, spending her time either in the kitchen or the ancestral hall.”
Jin ZiXuan nodded and a deafening silence followed until they reached Lanling. Madame Jin was standing there, awaiting the return of her son and grandson.
“Grandmother!” Jin Ling ran to hug Madame Jin who had also wrapped her hands around him.
“Let’s get in,” stated Jin ZiXuan. Madame Jin held her grandson’s hand and walked in together.
The three went into the dining hall. Madame Jin had asked for the people to prepare food, knowing that the pair of father and son must be hungry after traveling from Yunmeng to Lanling.
“The soup tastes a little salty,” Jin Ling commented.
Madame Jin laughed, “Well, compared to your mother’s cooking skills, our cook here is really not good.”
The dining hall was suddenly filled with silence. Neither spoke nor ate.
Madame Jin heaved a sigh, “If none of those happened 13 years ago, we will all be able to eat together happily.”
“Mother,” Jin ZiXuan warned.
“No, grandmother is right. Isn’t it just because of Wei WuXian? It is all because of him that I have a broken family now. I hate him. Who did he even think he was? Wasn’t he just a servant of the Yunmeng Jiang sect?”
“A-Ling, enough! He was never a servant, he is your uncle. Your mother’s brother. Don’t let your mother hear you say such words or she will be upset. Besides, if you have to blame anyone, then blame me. It is us the Lanling Jin sect who had killed Wei WuXian,” said Jin ZiXuan.
“Even so, Sect Leader Nie had already killed grandfather and more than half of our Lanling Jin sect disciples. Is that not enough to avenge Wei WuXian?”
“A-Ling, do you know how Wei WuXian died?” asked Jin ZiXuan.
Jin Ling shook his head.
No one dared to speak of Wei WuXian at Yunmeng, afraid that they would upset Jiang Cheng and Jiang YanLi, not that they were not upset already. After all, the two lived their days grieving every day, and it almost seemed like Jin Ling was their only source of happiness. When Jin Ling was out of Lotus Pier though, he could hear people talking about the two main characters of the book The Legend of MingXian from time to time, but he never bothered to hear out how Wei WuXian had died. All he knew was that he was the one who broke his family apart.
“Your grandfather had captured him and sent him to a village. He told the villagers that he was an evil man and that he could be used for their sacrificial ceremony. When Sect Leader Nie found Wei WuXian, he was already dead, still bleeding from around a hundred or more of stab wounds created by the villagers.”
Jin Ling gasped. It was certainly a cruel way to kill someone. He was starting to understand why his sect was hated by the Qinghe Nie sect so much.
“And do you know for what purpose did your grandfather do that?”
Once again, Jin Ling shook his head.
“You know?” questioned Madame Jin as she turned to her son, surprised.
“I… I wanted to know why would father do that, so I went to ask A-Yao.”
Madame Jin scowled at the mention of Jin GuangYao.
“He told me father had first captured Wei WuXian to get him to hand out the Stygian Tiger Seal. We all know how strong the Stygian Tiger Seal is, and he felt that he needed it to successfully be the Chief Cultivator. However, Wei WuXian refused to give it to him, knowing that he would only harm people with it. That was why father had thrown him to the village. Apparently, he had someone create a tool that might just work like the Stygian Tiger Seal, but it needed a demonic cultivator’s blood to be activated. Therefore, father decided that Wei WuXian was the most suitable man to be sacrificed at that time.”
A deafening silence filled the dining hall.
Madame Jin felt ashamed to be married to someone that disgusting.
Jin Ling was having mixed feelings. He had always hated Wei WuXian, but now he pitied him. At the same time, he had always known his grandfather was not a good man, but he could never imagine that he was this bad.
“But that has got nothing to do with you,” said Jin Ling.
“Your mother could not allow herself to forgive us, the Jin sect who had killed her brother,” said Madame Jin.
Jin Ling lowered his head, completely understanding what his grandmother meant.
“There is more than that,” said Jin ZiXuan.
“Is there anything else that I do not know?” questioned Madame Jin.
“Mother, A-Ling, actually I… I was one of the causes that led to Wei WuXian’s death.”
Both Madame Jin and Jin Ling widened their eyes, preparing themselves to listen out to his part of the story. Jin ZiXuan took in a deep breath before telling them how Jin ZiXun had come to him and asked for his help.
“Cousin brother, you really have to help me this time,” said Jin ZiXun.
Jin ZiXuan was bemused, “Is something wrong?”
Jin ZiXun who felt that actions would always speak louder than words opened up his robes in the middle, showing him the curse planted on his body.
Jin ZiXuan widened his eyes, “This is… the curse of hundred holes!”
“It is Wei WuXian,” said Jin ZiXun in disdain.
“What? Do you have proof?” asked Jin ZiXuan.
“That is why I am here. Cousin brother, do you have anything that belonged to Wei WuXian that you can lend me, like any present that Wei WuXian had given your wife? I will need an item that belonged to Wei WuXian and cast a spell on it to see if he was the one who had cursed me.”
“Now that I remember, ZiXun and Wei WuXian had an argument in Phoenix Mountain. Is that from that time that Wei WuXian had decided to put the curse on him?” questioned Madame Jin.
“Mother,” Jin ZiXuan frowned, “Even after Wei WuXian died, the curse of hundred holes still remained on ZiXun’s body.”
“Is that why he committed suicide in the end?” questioned Madame Jin.
Jin ZiXuan nodded, “He was so determined to think that no other people besides Wei WuXian would have put the curse on him, and when Wei WuXian died and he could not find anyone else who might have been the one to curse him, he was so scared. He felt that since he was going to die anyway, he would rather die a less painful death.”
“But what does what you have just said have anything to do with Wei WuXian’s death?” Jin Ling questioned, bemused.
“That’s right. What –”
As if she had suddenly realized something important, she widened her eyes, “The hairpin..! JiXuan, don’t tell me it was you?!”
Jin ZiXuan closed his eyes, remembering how he could hear his heart pounding and feeling himself almost collapse from the stress when Wen Ning took out the hairpin and Nie MingJue had been screaming at Jiang YanLi. He knew if Jiang YanLi knew it was him who had given her hairpin away, she would hate him. He had selfishly wanted to hide the truth from Jiang YanLi forever, but his wife was no idiot.
After a long while, Jin ZiXuan finally nodded.
Madame Jin dropped back onto her seat, finally knowing the truth of why her ex-daughter-in-law was so determined to divorce her son.
Jin Ling however, did not understand anything. He hoped these two adults before him could explain more, knowing that he was only one month old back then and would not be able to understand most of what they were saying if they did not explain clearly.
“Is something wrong with the hairpin? Who does it belong to and what does the hairpin have anything to do with Wei WuXian’s death?” questioned Jin Ling.
Madame Jin heaved a sigh, “The hairpin belonged to your mother. No, to be precise, the hairpin was a present Wei WuXian had given to your mother when they were young. It was said that 13 years ago, A-Li had given the hairpin to your grandfather, stating that if they showed Wei WuXian this hairpin, he would come to Lanling willingly. When he came to Lanling alone, that was how your grandfather captured him and eventually managed to kill him.”
Jin Ling widened his eyes, feeling hot tears welling in his eyes now. This Wei WuXian was really a tragic man.
He had died thinking that his Shijie was the one who wanted him dead.
He finally knew why his mother was grieving so much. Not only did her brother died, but her brother probably hated her before he died.
But something did not sound right here.
“Wait a moment,” said Jin Ling, “I remember Wei WuXian had been kicked out of the Yunmeng Jiang sect when he had brought the Wen remnants to stay at Burial Mound with him. Then why does all that you all have said sounded like he still had a close relationship with my mother and uncle as if he had never betrayed the sect before?”
“The so-called being kicked out of the sect was just what Wei WuXian told Jiang WanYin to do. Jiang WanYin wanted Wei WuXian to abandon the Wen remnants because if he helped them, then Jiang WanYin could not protect him anymore. Wei WuXian understood this and told Jiang WanYin to abandon him. He could not abandon the Wen remnants because he felt those people should not be punished as they did not take part in the war at all, yet at the same time, he did not want to be a burden to Jiang WanYin,” explained Jin ZiXuan.
That was yet another shock for Jin Ling. Usually one would always seek to be protected, yet this man told people to abandon him.
“This Wei WuXian had really done many things for the Yunmeng Jiang sect. I suddenly understand now why A-Li loves him so much. He could even give away something as important as his golden core,” said Madame Jin, smiling sadly.
“This is another thing I do not understand. I have heard that the golden core in my uncle’s body is Wei WuXian’s. How did his golden core get into someone else body?” Jin Ling questioned, looking absolutely perplexed.
“Oh, that? I was very surprised too when I heard that. It seemed your uncle had lost his golden core during the war with the Wen sect. Wei WuXian after knowing that, requested for Wen Qing to transfer his golden core into Jiang WanYin.”
Another deafening silence filled the dining hall.
Jin Ling had learned a lot today, and he finally understood nothing could get his family back together.
Chapter 6: The Return of a Dead Man
“Find me a place that sells the best wine in Qinghe!” said Wei WuXian.
A-Qing frowned, “Brother Xian, you have tasted so many different types of wine in the past few days. Just what type of wine are you looking for?”
Wei WuXian pouted, “It is not my fault that all the wines in Qinghe taste so terrible. I have not drunk any wine for 13 years… 13 years! Can you believe it?! Now that I come back alive, all I want is to get to drink some good wine. Why is it even so hard to find good wine in Qinghe? If only we are in Gusu, then I am sure I am definitely enjoying myself with my beloved Emperor’s Smile right now!”
A-Qing was completely silent as she listened to the man beside her complaining about the lack of good wine in Qinghe. She really did not understand why would someone be so picky about wines. She thought all the wines in this world should taste almost the same, but apparently not.
In these past few days, they had been walking around Qinghe, eating, and having fun. Wei WuXian was so energetic and playful, always running around although he could not see anything, and that was why he had knocked down at least two to three people in a day. A-Qing was wondering how he could be so energetic every day when she was reminded of how Wei WuXian had been first introduced in the book, The Legend of Mingxian.
Wei WuXian, the Yiling Patriarch who used to be the head disciple of Yunmeng Jiang sect, well-known for his energetic and mischievous attitude.
It seemed that the writer understood Wei WuXian quite well.
A-Qing heaved a sigh. As she strolled along the street with Wei WuXian next to her, she started looking around to check out if she could see anyone holding a jar of wine. She realized there was nothing that could stop Wei WuXian from trying to find a good wine, thus she should help him find a wine that suited his taste as soon as possible so he could finally stop complaining every day.
“Young Master, Young Maiden! What about have a meal here? Our WuXian Restaurant sells the best wine and food in Qinghe.”
“The best?” Wei WuXian laughed as he approached the man who had just called out to both A-Qing and him. The man sounded pretty confident about the restaurant’s food and wines. Perhaps, he should really go in and have a try and wait –
What was the name of the restaurant again?
“Just now, you mentioned the name of this restaurant is..?” asked Wei WuXian.
“Name? WuXian restaurant.”
Wei WuXian was flabbergasted. He thought that he had heard the name wrongly, but someone actually named their restaurant as WuXian restaurant!
“But customer, by the look of it, are you a cultivator? May I ask which sect are you from?”
“I am a rogue cultivator,” answered Wei WuXian.
“Oh, then that is fine. You will be welcomed in,” said the man as he smiled.
“Why? I cannot go in if I come from other sects?” questioned Wei WuXian, sounding a little surprised.
“As long as you are not from Lanling Jin sect or Yunmeng Jiang sect, you will be welcomed,” answered the man.
“Did those two sects offend the owner of this restaurant or something?” questioned Wei WuXian, sounding absolutely curious.
“Of course! Customer, have you heard of The Legend of Mingxian? This shop is opened by Sect Leader Nie as a memorial to his husband, Wei WuXian. We all know that Wei WuXian’s death was caused by those two sects, and Sect Leader Nie had told us to throw out anyone who are from those two sects, stating that they would dirty his restaurant.”
Wei WuXian laughed sheepishly. Why did Nie MingJue always have to act so excessively? Throwing out people of Yunmeng Jiang sect and Lanling Jin sect meant he was losing customers every day.
“Wait, you said husband? When did they get married?” Wei WuXian was astonished. Although he had a bad memory, he was quite sure that he would at least remember it if he had gotten married.
The man shrugged, “I do not know. Some said they did not get to marry each other. Some said they have already gotten married a long time ago.”
“Sect Leader Nie, he…” Wei WuXian said and paused for a moment, unsure of whether he should ask the question out but after a few seconds of silence, he found himself asking, “Does he has a wife or husband now?”
The man opened his mouth to answer, but before he could even speak a word, a voice that appeared from behind interrupted them.
“This young master seems to be fairly interested in me.”
Wei WuXian froze. He recognized this voice.
“You are… Young Master Xiao?”
Wei WuXian could hear Nie MingJue sounded surprised to see Xiao XingChen here. Did they know each other?
“May I ask who is this young master standing before me?” Wei WuXian questioned.
“Nie MingJue?” A-Qing was clearly excited, “You are Sect Leader Nie, Chifeng-zun? The same Nie MingJue from the book of The Legend of Mingxian?”
“Yes, I am,” answered Nie MingJue solemnly.
“I am your fan! I wish if I were to get married in the future, I want to get a husband just like you!” exclaimed A-Qing.
“A-Qing,” Wei WuXian warned, hoping that she could calm down a little.
Nie MingJue smiled sadly, “Little maiden, I am sure you will be able to find someone even better than me. Young Master Xiao, Young Maiden Qing, do you think I have the opportunity to treat you two to a meal?”
“That would not be appropriate,” said Wei WuXian.
“It is the only thing that I can do for you for my past mistake,” said Nie MingJue.
“Your past mistake?” Wei WuXian questioned, bewildered.
“Shall we get in first to have a talk?” Nie MingJue questioned.
Wei WuXian nodded and the three walked in together.
“Is there anything that the two of you would prefer to order? Or do you want me to make the choice since it seems to be the first time for the two of you to be here?” questioned Nie MingJue.
“Then I will have to trouble Sect Leader Nie to do the ordering,” said Wei WuXian, smiling.
Nie MingJue did the ordering, and then there was a deafening silence among the three. A-Qing turned from Wei WuXian to Nie MingJue – these were the two main characters from The Legend of Mingxian. They had been reunited, so should there not be a touching moment with one screaming, you have no idea how much I have missed you while another one stating, I will never leave you anymore.
“Young Master Xiao, I have to apologize to you,” said Nie MingJue, breaking the deafening silence.
“May I ask what is Sect Leader Nie apologizing for?” Wei WuXian questioned.
“Back then, it was my fault that Xue Yang had managed to run away, having been released by the Jin sect. I knew how the Jin sect was, yet I did nothing in that case. I have to admit that I was truly too busy grieving back then, and it had caused you to lose your pair of eyes in the end.”
So, it was the Jin sect again. Wei WuXian cursed internally. He should have known.
“Sect Leader Nie, please do not blame yourself. This is not your fault,” said Wei WuXian.
Before Nie MingJue could say anything else, the food and wine they had ordered arrived.
“Young Master Xiao, are you fine with wine?” asked Nie MingJue.
“Yes, please,” said Wei WuXian.
Of course, he was fine with wine. He came here for the wine, or he would not even be able to meet Nie MingJue here.
Wei WuXian tried to reach for the wine, and Nie MingJue upon seeing how helpless he looked, pushed the cup filled with wine forward until it touched the hand of the blind man.
“Thank you,” said Wei WuXian. He took the cup and started drinking the wine, and was flabbergasted when he tasted the familiar taste.
“Emperor’s Smile!” Wei WuXian exclaimed in excitement. What great luck! He had just returned to the world of living a few days ago, and he was somehow being able to taste Emperor’s Smile here in Qinghe.
Nie MingJue, on the other hand, was very surprised by his reaction. He thought no one in this world would love Emperor’s Smile more than Wei WuXian, and the way Xiao XingChen had reacted reminded him of Wei WuXian.
“Have Young Master Xiao gone to Gusu before?” Nie MingJue asked.
Wei WuXian felt himself sweating, realizing that his overreaction toward Emperor’s Smile might have made Nie MingJue suspect something was wrong.
“Yes, just once,” said Wei WuXian.
“This is too spicy!” exclaimed A-Qing suddenly.
Nie MingJue was about to apologize. This was the usual food he ordered when he was here to eat alone. They were all Wei WuXian’s favorite. He had often forgotten the fact that not many could eat food as spicy as the food that Wei WuXian usually ate.
Wei WuXian laughed, “How can you be like this with this degree of spiciness? Didn’t you say you want to grow up to be as strong as me? Let me tell you this, to be as strong as me, the first thing you need to do is to learn to eat spicy food.”
“You are lying!” A-Qing argued.
Wei WuXian laughed again. Out of pity for A-Qing, he ordered a glass of water for her. While the two were busy arguing, they failed to notice that Nie MingJue had been staring at the man who he thought was Xiao XingChen, and the words the man had just said was ringing in his ears.
How did two different men manage to speak of something which was exactly the same? Those words that Xiao XingChen had just said, Wei WuXian said the exact same words to A-Yuan when they were in Burial Mounds 13 years ago.
“Spicy!” shouted A-Yuan. His face was red and tears were visible at the corner of his eyes.
Wei WuXian laughed, “How can you be like this with this degree of spiciness? Didn’t you say you want to grow up to be as strong as me? Let me tell you this, to be as strong as me, the first thing you need to do is to learn to eat spicy food.”
“Wei WuXian!” Wen Qing shouted, “A-Yuan is still so young, how can you feed him something so spicy?”
Wen Qing was so angry that she had stormed out of the Demon Slaughtering Cave with A-Yuan in her arms back then.
“Sect Leader Nie, what are you staring at?” A-Qing questioned.
Wei WuXian froze. He had nearly forgotten that Nie MingJue was here with them. Had he spoken too much just now? He hoped he did not speak of anything that might have exposed his identity.
“I… well… wait, you can see?” Nie MingJue questioned, surprised. The young maiden surely did look like she could not see when they first met at the entrance of the restaurant.
Wei WuXian nudged A-Qing’s arm while A-Qing merely scratched her head and laughed it off.
Nie MingJue frowned. He turned to look at Xiao XingChen, scrutinizing the bandage on his face, and found himself wondering if he had really lost his eyes. Just as he was observing the man before him, he took notice of a bamboo flute placed on the man’s waist.
“Young Master Xiao, you play the flute?” asked Nie MingJue.
Wei WuXian’s hand traveled to his flute. He cursed himself internally for not putting it in a better place, but then again, he did not expect to meet Nie MingJue so soon.
“This… A-Qing wanted to play with it, so I bought it for her after she had been complaining beside my ears for days,” said Wei WuXian as he took out the bamboo flute from his waist and handed it to A-Qing, “Come, A-Qing.”
A-Qing took the flute in her hands, knowing that Wei WuXian was trying to hide something and she decided she could play along with him for now.
“All right, A-Qing. Eat fast. We are rushing, remember?”
A-Qing pouted. Could he not find a more creative excuse to run away? He was using the exact same excuse as the last time when he did not want A-Qing to hear out how he had died.
Nie MingJue watched how both Xiao XingChen and A-Qing were eating in a rush and stood up immediately after they finished their portion of the food.
“Sect Leader Nie, we will have to leave first. Thank you for the meal,” said Wei WuXian.
Nie MingJue did not say anything in return and Wei WuXian was glad that the man was not trying to stop them from leaving. Just when both Wei WuXian and A-Qing were about to walk away, Nie MingJue suddenly spoke, “Young Master Xiao, I am still single.”
“What?” Wei WuXian questioned, astonished.
“Didn’t Young Master Xiao seem quite interested to know if I have gotten married? I am informing you now that I am still single,” stated Nie MingJue.
Wei WuXian felt the heat rising up to his cheeks. He laughed sheepishly, “That is just… A-Qing, she wanted to know. I am helping her to ask.”
A-Qing turned to Wei WuXian, pouting as she was once again be used as another excuse. Before she could complain, Wei WuXian had pulled her away to walk out of the restaurant.
Watching them left, Nie MingJue sat back in his seat. For the first time in 13 years, he smiled. Even if there was only a small percentage of what he was deducing could be the truth, he would still like to try.
“Elder brother, you are here!” exclaimed Nie HuaiSang as he walked to him. He had been searching for his elder brother since an hour ago but he was nowhere in Unclean Realm. He was glad he finally found him here in his restaurant.
Nie MingJue drank the cup of wine in front of him before he turned to his younger brother, “You are here just at the right time. HuaiSang, I need you to do me a favor.”
Nie HuaiSang blinked his eyes, bemused. His elder brother looked slightly different today.
Wei WuXian heaved a sigh when he was sure they were far away from the restaurant. He felt he had just entered a game of life and death. Each word he said might risk his identity getting exposed in front of Nie MingJue.
“A-Qing, give me,” said Wei WuXian, placing his hand out.
“What?” A-Qing questioned.
“My flute,” stated Wei WuXian.
“What do you mean by your flute? It’s mine. You said you bought it for me, didn’t you?”
“A-Qing, you little…”
A-Qing giggled, “Who told you to keep using me as an excuse? Come, it is here. Take it yourself.”
Wei WuXian reached forward, but he could not touch his bamboo flute at all. After a while of struggling in futile to get his flute and nearly tripped, A-Qing returned the bamboo flute to him.
“Just what is so special with this flute?” A-Qing questioned, curious.
“It’s my weapon,” answered Wei WuXian.
“Weapon?” A-Qing questioned, puzzled, “But no matter how I look at it, I don’t see how it can kill people.”
Wei WuXian laughed lightly, “A-Qing, you do know that I was called the Yiling Patriarch, right? Do you know what did the Yiling Patriarch do?”
“I heard people said you ate children and killed the adults, but after knowing you, I know it is not true,” said A-Qing.
Wei WuXian smiled and ruffled A-Qing’s hair, “When I was the Yiling Patriarch, the flute was my weapon. The music that I played would wake the corpses to fight for me.”
“But that was because you did not have a golden core back then. Now that you have one which is Daozhang’s, you don’t need to remain as the Yiling Patriarch, right?”
“Well, that is true. Wait, how did you know that I did not have a golden core?” Wei WuXian questioned, surprised.
“It’s mentioned in The Legend of Mingxian,” said A-Qing.
Wei WuXian was taken aback. He did not pay complete attention to the seller talking about his past back when he first arrived at Qinghe as he was too focused on remembering his past. Wait, in that case, if Jiang Cheng read it, wouldn’t he know that the golden core he had now was not his?
Sensing that Wei WuXian was in distress, A-Qing added, “Sect Leader Nie told everyone when he found you dead, blaming the one who is currently using your golden core for taking you for granted.”
Wei WuXian was even more surprised now. That meant Jiang Cheng had already known about it without even having the need to read the book.
“By the way, Brother Xian, why did you not tell Sect Leader Nie your true identity?” A-Qing questioned, perplexed.
“Because I should not. It has been so many years, and he has probably already forgotten about me. Besides, he deserves a better person,” said Wei WuXian.
“No, that is certainly not true. Sect Leader Nie loves you wholeheartedly! He even said that he would not marry anyone else besides you,” argued A-Qing.
“That is all in the past. People break promises. Besides, I was the one who had broken the promise first,” said Wei WuXian. After all, he had promised that he would marry Nie MingJue, but he failed to keep his promise as he had died before they even managed to get married.
A-Qing was upset. To her, they were the perfect match. She could not imagine anyone more suitable for Nie MingJue than Wei WuXian and vice versa.
“All right,” Wei WuXian said, “Let’s forget all about this for now. We still have an important mission which is to avenge my martial uncle.”
A-Qing nodded and asked, “Then, what do we do next?”
“Wait,” said Wei WuXian.
A-Qing blinked her eyes, confused, “What?”
“There will be a discussion conference in Qinghe soon, so we will wait until then and attend it together. If we appear in the discussion conference, Xue Yang will soon learn that Xiao XingChen is here in Qinghe and he will come to find us himself.”
“And what do we do now?” asked A-Qing.
“Two things. Have fun and avoid Nie MingJue,” said Wei WuXian.
The street was suddenly filled with screams and many people were running around. Wei WuXian who could not see anything could only stand there and almost got knocked down if not for A-Qing catching him.
“What’s happening?” Wei WuXian questioned as he turned around.
“Something must have happened in front. Everyone is running around like they have gone mad,” said A-Qing.
“Excuse me, may I ask what happened?” Wei WuXian grabbed one of the men who had knocked against him and questioned him.
“It is Chifeng-zun! He is having a Qi deviation and is slashing everyone near him!”
Wei WuXian felt himself froze. When he felt that the man who told him what was happening left, he blindly rushed forward and lost his balance, almost injuring himself if not for A-Qing helping him to balance himself.
“A-Qing! A-Qing!” He blindly tried to reach for A-Qing’s shoulders, “Help me, please. Bring me to MingJue.”
“Yes, hold on to me, Brother Xian. I will bring you there,” said A-Qing as she guided Wei WuXian, squeezing themselves forward through the crowd.
Both A-Qing and Wei WuXian halted in front of the WuXian restaurant. The door of the restaurant was closed. Everyone standing nearby were panicking and running away when they heard Chifeng-zun was having a Qi deviation inside of the restaurant. However, there was one lone man who was standing in front of the restaurant, looking panicked.
“Elder brother! Someone, help!”
Recognizing the voice, Wei WuXian blindly reached to where the voice belonged to as he grabbed the man’s shoulders, “MingJue! Where is MingJue?!”
“Inside the restaurant,” said the man.
Wei WuXian blindly reached for the restaurant and entered it. A-Qing was following behind him when she felt a man stopping her and covered her mouth to prevent her from screaming. She kicked and struggled, but to no avail because the man was taller and stronger than her.
“If you promise to be silent, I will let you go,” said the man.
A-Qing nodded and turned when she had been released, “Who are you?”
The man smiled, “Nice to meet you. My name is Nie HuaiSang.”
A-Qing gasped, “You are the author of –”
“Yes. I heard from my elder brother that you are a fan of my book. Now, would you like to see the sequel of The Legend of Mingxian?” questioned Nie HuaiSang as he opened the door of the restaurant slightly, watching in silence at what was happening inside.
Wei WuXian was blindly moving forward and tripped over, “MingJue, where are you?!”
No one responded to him. He heard the sound of things crashing over and he tried crawling forward, but even after a while, he still could not reach Nie MingJue.
“MingJue, where are you? I am WuXian, I have returned. Can you hear me? MingJue!”
There was still no response. Wei WuXian continued to crawl forward and then he heard the sound of something heavy dropped before him. He touched Baxia and then there was a body kneeling beside Baxia. He grabbed the man’s arms and then tried to reach the man’s face.
“MingJue, is that you?”
That was him. It was his voice.
Wei WuXian reached forward and kissed him. Nie MingJue wrapped his hands around him and kissed him hungrily.
When they finally decided to separate from each other, he heard Nie MingJue laughed lightly, “In this world, only you would stop someone with Qi deviation with a kiss.”
“You… you lied to me?!” Wei WuXian was angry and he pushed Nie MingJue away from him. However, Nie MingJue stopped him from moving too far away as he pulled him forward and locked their lips together.
When they separated from each other again, Nie MingJue pulled him into his embrace, “I have waited for you for 13 years. Please do not leave me again, WuXian.”
Wei WuXian wrapped his arms around Nie MingJue and said, “But I am different now. I am blind.”
“There is nothing too bad about that. That way, you will not complain that I am not handsome enough.”
Wei WuXian chuckled, “When did you learn how to joke?”
“HuaiSang and A-Yao have been taking turns in telling me jokes to try to make me smile for the past 13 years,” said Nie MingJue.
Hearing that, the smile on Wei WuXian dissipated. He raised his hand up to caress Nie MingJue’s face, only to feel that the face he was touching was dampened.
Wei WuXian frowned, “MingJue, are you crying?”
“I am not,” answered Nie MingJue.
“You are,” said Wei WuXian, feeling upset that he had made the man he loved cried.
“These are tears of joy,” said Nie MingJue as he embraced Wei WuXian. Wei WuXian raised both his hands up and tightened his hold around Nie MingJue, extremely happy to be alive and to be once again in Nie MingJue’s embrace. When Nie MingJue finally released Wei WuXian from his embrace, he raised his hand up to caress the face of the man before him.
“Here,” Nie MingJue said as he touched the place where a pair of eyes were supposed to be, “Is it still painful?”
Wei WuXian shook his head, “I don’t feel anything. When I woke up in this body, the eyes are already gone.”
Nie MingJue moved forward and kissed him gently on his forehead, “If you want, I can give you my pair of eyes.”
“No,” Wei WuXian said quickly.
“Then I will be your pair of eyes from now on,” said Nie MingJue.
Wei WuXian smiled, “That sounds better.”
Nie MingJue and Wei WuXian moved toward each other and placed their lips together once again, only to have been interrupted when they heard the creaking sound of the door being opened. Nie HuaiSang and A-Qing dropped forward, and when they saw Nie MingJue glared at them, they both stiffened.
“I am sorry, elder brother. I swear I did not mean to interrupt your precious moment,” said Nie HuaiSang as he quickly stood up.
A-Qing stood up too, “I apologize for interrupting such a beautiful moment, Brother Xian, Sect Leader Nie.”
“Nie HuaiSang, it was your idea to create such a lie, right? And A-Qing, did you take part in this?” Wei WuXian questioned, furious that he failed to notice that he had been fooled.
“I thought Sect Leader Nie was really having a Qi deviation too until I reached here and the younger brother of Sect Leader Nie showed me that nothing is wrong,” said A-Qing.
“You cannot blame us, Wei-xiong. It is your fault for trying to hide your identity,” said Nie HuaiSang
“Why were you trying to hide from me?” questioned Nie MingJue, his tone sounded extremely upset.
“It’s been 13 years, I thought…”
“I said it before. I will not get married if the other person is not you. Now, can you tell me what is happening? Why are you in Xiao XingChen’s body?”
Wei WuXian proceeded to tell them everything he knew from how he suddenly woke up in his martial uncle’s body to how he ended up in Qinghe now and was preparing to avenge Xiao XingChen by murdering Xue Yang.
“I will go kill Xue Yang!” exclaimed Nie MingJue.
“No! I will do it,” said Wei WuXian. Nie MingJue nodded, knowing that he felt it was his responsibility to be the one to end Xue Yang’s life.
“Then, I will help you find him,” said Nie MingJue.
“That is not needed. All I need is to let him know that I am here, and he will come and find me eventually,” stated Wei WuXian.
“What is your plan?” asked Nie MingJue.
“I just have to attend the discussion conference which will be held in a few days’ time and let Xue Yang knows that I am here in Qinghe,” said Wei WuXian.
“I have a good idea,” said Nie MingJue and everyone turned to him, listening out to his idea.
Discussion conferences were held yearly, and this year it just so happened to be hosted by the Qinghe Nie sect. All the cultivators were already gathered at the discussion conference but Nie MingJue had yet to make his appearance. He was not late though. However, a few days ago, there were rumors going around that Nie MingJue had a Qi deviation somewhere in Qinghe that sent everyone running around on the street to avoid being slashed by Baxia. Cultivators were tattling among one another, wondering if something had really happened to the Qinghe Nie sect leader.
Lan XiChen could no longer stay calm. He was looking back and forth, wishing his elder sworn brother would appear as soon as possible so as to ease the uneasiness within him. When he did not see Nie MingJue but saw Jin GuangYao walking in instead, he quickly stood up and walked toward his younger sworn brother.
“Have you seen elder brother?”
Jin GuangYao shook his head. It was not only Nie MingJue who was seemed to be missing, even Nie HuaiSang was nowhere to be found.
“I will go and find them for another round,” said Jin GuangYao.
“I will go with you,” said Lan XiChen.
“But…” Jin GuangYao started and Lan XiChen knew what he meant. There was already one sect leader missing, it would be bad if another gone missing too.
Lan XiChen turned to look at his younger brother who nodded at him in return. Before he returned, Lan WangJi would help him take care of the situation here. Having nothing else to worry about, Lan XiChen and Jin GuangYao both nodded to each other. They were about to start searching around Qinghe for the Nie brothers when they spotted four people striding toward them.
Nie MingJue and Xiao XingChen were in the middle with Nie HuaiSang on the left side of Nie MingJue and a young, seemingly blind maiden dressed in Qinghe Nie sect robes on the right side of Xiao XingChen.
Both Lan XiChen and Jin GuangYao looked relieved at the sight of their elder sworn brother returning. It turned out that Nie HuaiSang had been with Nie MingJue all along. Many were gazing at Xiao XingChen and A-Qing. They wondered when Nie MingJue had taken in a new female disciple and as for Xiao XingChen, it seemed the rumors of him losing his eyes were true.
The cultivators were starting to wonder if Nie MingJue had brought Xiao XingChen along to return him the justice that should have been given to him years ago. Everyone knew the reason that he had to lose his eyes was because of Xue Yang despite the fact that Xue Yang was not the one who took his eyes away.
“Elder brother, are you all right?” Lan XiChen asked, and Nie MingJue turned to him with a questioning look.
“We heard elder brother had another Qi deviation, I have been searching for both you and HuaiSang but could not find the both of you at all,” said Jin GuangYao.
Nie MingJue frowned and turned to Nie HuaiSang who blinked his eyes innocently before he laughed sheepishly. He was not the one at fault, all right? It was Nie MingJue who told him to make Wei WuXian believed that he had a Qi deviation and he succeeded. It was certainly not his fault that all of the cultivators here believed that he had a Qi deviation too.
A-Qing felt the two Nie brothers were being so humorous. She almost chuckled but knowing that it would look strange of her so she had managed to control herself.
Nie MingJue cleared his throat, “I am fine. I did not have any Qi deviation lately. There must be a misunderstanding.”
Both Lan XiChen and Jin GuangYao heaved a sigh of relief before they both stood aside, giving space for Nie MingJue to stride forward to walk to his seat. However, when the two younger sworn brothers and the other cultivators present saw Nie MingJue was walking forward with his hand holding Xiao XingChen’s, they blinked their eyes in bewilderment. While everyone was still staring at both Nie MingJue and Xiao XingChen, Nie HuaiSang brought A-Qing to the place where they should be seated at.
When Nie MingJue had reached his seat and was standing there along with Xiao XingChen by his side and they were both now facing all the cultivators, Lan XiChen and Jin GuangYao, although puzzled, went back to their seats. Nie HuaiSang and A-Qing were already seated, both doing their best to hide the wide smiles lingering on their faces. The anticipating moment was here.
“Everyone, before starting the banquet, I would like to take this chance to announce something important to me,” said Nie MingJue.
Some cultivators started whispering with those sitting near them, wondering what Nie MingJue was going to announce.
“I am sure everyone knows who this man standing beside me is,” Nie MingJue said as he turned to Xiao XingChen, his eyes suddenly looking so gentle and a smile was seen lingering on his lips, “He is my betrothed. We will be getting married in a month's time.”
Nie HuaiSang and A-Qing were smiling widely now, having no such need to control the overwhelming happiness anymore.
Jin GuangYao and Lan XiChen were stunned. They did not move, they merely continued to stare at their eldest sworn brother as though they were expecting that he would tell them it was all a joke if only they stared at him hard enough. After all, they were sure that their eldest sworn brother was still grieving just a few days ago. What was happening?
Lan WangJi and Jiang Cheng were frowning. It had just been 13 years, and Nie MingJue had already decided to forget about Wei WuXian? What’s more, was that Xiao XingChen was Wei WuXian’s martial uncle. It felt like the relationship seemed a little mixed up right here.
The other cultivators were surprised with the sudden announcement and were starting to chatter among one another. After all, everyone knew just how much Nie MingJue was in love with Wei WuXian. It was all written in the book of The Legend of Mingxian. Even if they did not read the book, all of them witnessed how heartbroken Nie MingJue was 13 years ago when he held the dead Wei WuXian in one arm and pointed Baxia at Jin GuangShan with his another hand.
Ignoring how the others were reacting, A-Qing clasped her hands together and watched how Nie MingJue was fixing his eyes on Wei WuXian. Nie MingJue’s expression was always so soft and gentle when facing Wei WuXian, very different from when he was communicating with other people. The way Nie MingJue was gazing at Wei WuXian without planning to look away at all reminded her of how Nie MingJue had proposed to Wei WuXian.
“I have a plan,” said Nie MingJue.
Nie HuaiSang, Wei WuXian and A-Qing turned to him, listening out to his plan.
“But for this plan to succeed,” Nie MingJue said as he raised his hands up and placed them at the side of Wei WuXian’s arms before turning the man before him to face him, “you must first promise me something.”
Wei WuXian tilted his head slightly, perplexed, “What is it?”
Wei WuXian could feel Nie MingJue wrapped his hands around his and lifted it up near to their chest level before he could hear his voice again, “WuXian, no matter what happens in the future, I want to stay by your side, shielding you from all the harm coming to your way. Can you let me take care of you from now on? WuXian, marry me, please?”
“Brother Xian, quick! Say yes!” A-Qing squealed with delight.
“Wei-xiong, what are you still thinking about? My brother is the best man in the world!” said Nie HuaiSang.
“WuXian?” questioned Nie MingJue, his voice so soft and gentle that it made people’s hearts melt at the sound of it.
After a moment of silence, Wei WuXian finally smiled and nodded. Nie HuaiSang and A-Qing were cheering excitedly when Nie MingJue happily pulled Wei WuXian into his embrace. The two were smiling in bliss.
“Let’s go,” said Nie MingJue as he grabbed Wei WuXian’s hand after he had released the man from his embrace.
“Where are we going?” Wei WuXian questioned.
Wei WuXian was startled, “Now?”
“When else?” asked Nie MingJue, sounding and looking as if it was ridiculous to not get married immediately.
“Not now, of course. At least not until I am done dealing with Xue Yang,” said Wei WuXian.
Nie MingJue frowned, “You are afraid something might happen to you while fighting Xue Yang, isn’t it?”
“Anything may happen,” said Wei WuXian.
“I will not let anything happen to you, not again,” said Nie MingJue, his voice filled with pain as he was reminded of the corpse in his arms 13 years ago.
“Fine, a month from now and that is final. I cannot wait longer than that,” said Nie MingJue.
“And what is your plan to attract Xue Yang’s attention?” Wei WuXian questioned.
“We announce that you are my betrothed and we will be getting married in a month's time at the discussion conference. With all the cultivators there, I am sure the news will spread across the world in no time,” stated Nie MingJue.
Now that their wedding was announced, all they had to do was to wait for Xue Yang to arrive here in Qinghe so that they could kill him. As much as A-Qing was excited to attend the upcoming wedding, she wanted more to see Xue Yang die. She would never forget that Xue Yang was the cause of Xiao XingChen’s death.
Looking up, A-Qing noticed the banquet had begun. She saw Nie MingJue pouring a cup of wine for Wei WuXian and smiled. With the two of them here, she was sure Xue Yang would not be able to escape this time. When she took the cup of tea in front of her and drank it, she noticed there were two muscular men – one standing behind her and another standing behind Nie HuaiSang, both looking so fierce that she felt herself shrunk under their gazes.
“They are my brother’s trusted people, standing here to protect us,” said Nie HuaiSang.
A-Qing nodded in understanding and grabbed the signal firelight that Wei WuXian had given her. She was told that in case if they were separated and she was in danger, she should use it and he would come to her rescue as soon as possible.
“Wait, protect us?” A-Qing questioned and turned to Nie HuaiSang, “You cannot protect yourself? I mean you are Sect Leader Nie’s brother, right? You must be strong too even if you are not as strong as Sect Leader Nie.”
Nie HuaiSang felt himself sweating. Usually, no one would ask him such a question because everyone knew his cultivational skills pretty well. However, this young maiden beside him was expecting so much out of him, and it would be embarrassing to tell her that she was thinking too highly of him. Just then, he remembered that this young maiden enjoyed reading the book, The Legend of Mingxian.
Nie HuaiSang cleared his throat and said, “Well, you know I am a writer, right? So, I will usually avoid fighting if possible because it might injure my hands. If I injure my hands, I will not be able to write for a while and my fans will be disappointed.”
A-Qing quickly nodded in complete understanding, “Yes, you are right! Please do not get injured, I am a fan of your book too!”
Nie HuaiSang laughed sheepishly, “I am pleased to hear that. By the way, I am planning to write a sequel for The Legend of Mingxian. Are you interested to join me?”
“I can? But I am illiterate,” said A-Qing.
Nie HuaiSang patted her head softly, “No worries. You tell me the whole story from how Wei WuXian returned until he met my brother again, I will be the one to write it.”
A-Qing nodded happily. It was like a dream to be able to work with such an amazing writer.
On the other side, Wei WuXian took the cup of wine in his hand and tasted it, “Emperor’s Smile!”
Nie MingJue smiled, “Yes.”
“Is it my love for Emperor’s Smile that had made my identity exposed to you?” asked Wei WuXian.
“I am surprised at first, but not this,” said Nie MingJue.
“Then what? Oh, is it because you saw my flute? Or the time when I told A-Qing that she should learn to eat spicy food like me? She said you were staring,” said Wei WuXian.
Nie MingJue smiled again, “When you told A-Qing that she should learn to eat spicy food if she wants to be as strong as you, you repeated the exact same thing to A-Yuan back in Burial Mounds. I found it hard to believe that two different people could say the exactly same thing. I had my suspicions and when I saw the flute on your waist and you pushed it to A-Qing, the possibility of it is you merely increased. I was not exactly sure though, that was why I had to test it out.”
Wei WuXian pouted, “Please don’t do that again. You scared me.”
“I will not, as long as you do not leave me again,” said Nie MingJue.
Wei WuXian reached closer to touch Nie MingJue’s hand, indicating that he would always be here by his side and would never leave again. Nie MingJue did the same.
“By the way, A-Yuan, Wen Qing, Wen Ning and the other Wen remnants, are they…”
Wei WuXian could not continue. He was their only support back then. He assumed Jin GuangShan and the others would immediately get rid of them on the same day that he died.
“Don’t worry. They are all in Unclean Realm, living in peace. A-Yuan has grown up to be a good kid. His name is Wei SiZhui,” said Nie MingJue.
“Wei?” asked Wei WuXian, surprised.
“Yes, I have made him our adopted son, and Wen Qing is freely doing her medical research every day with Wen QiongLin helping her out. The Nie disciples are all running away from her because she keeps picking someone to test out her newly invented medicines.”
Wei WuXian laughed lightly. That sounded exactly like what Wen Qing would do.
“Do you want to see them?” asked Nie MingJue.
Wei WuXian shook his head, “Not now. I will meet them after I finish dealing with Xue Yang.”
“We,” Nie MingJue corrected, “You are not alone in this. We will deal with him together.”
Wei WuXian nodded happily. The two of them intertwined their fingers together while Nie MingJue used his other free hand to pour his betrothed more wine and the said betrothed continued to drink cup after cup of wine.
At the same time, Lan XiChen and Jin GuangYao who were watching the two men being head over heels for each other suddenly looked relieved. It was certainly strange to see that their elder brother suddenly falling in love again, but their brother looked so happy and that was enough. They no longer needed to worry about their elder brother having suicidal thoughts.
When the banquet had ended, everyone walked to their room prepared by the Qinghe Nie sect. Wei WuXian was sent to a guest room by Nie MingJue. In front of the room, Nie MingJue had placed a soft, gentle kiss on Wei WuXian’s forehead before Wei WuXian wished him a great night and closed the door.
It was still early though. Wei WuXian was not one to sleep so early so he decided he should get out of his room, perhaps to breathe in some fresh air and think about things. He could not walk far as he could not see the road ahead of him. He still needed more time to get used to being blind.
When he opened the door though, he could hear the familiar voice speaking to him, “What are you trying to do going out alone?”
Wei WuXian tried to turn to the source of the voice, “MingJue? Why are you still here?”
Nie MingJue walked toward Wei WuXian and said, “I am worried about you in there alone. Besides, I don’t want to get separated from you.”
Wei WuXian could almost feel his heart melt. He stepped forward and embraced Nie MingJue.
“I am sorry,” Nie MingJue said suddenly. Wei WuXian was bewildered, not knowing what he was apologizing for.
“I was late. When I reached there, you were already dead. I did not manage to save you,” Nie MingJue’s voice was hoarse as he said that, memories of that fateful day came back to haunt him once again. He embraced Wei WuXian tighter than before as he closed his eyes and enjoyed holding his betrothed, trying his best to forget the image of the man he loved having a hundred or more stab wounds and was bleeding profusely.
Wei WuXian pulled himself away from Nie MingJue’s embrace and caressed his face, “Not your fault. I am sorry that you have to see that.”
Nie MingJue grasped the hand caressing his face and kissed it gently.
“MingJue, how have you been these 13 years? I heard you had another Qi deviation. Does it occur often? Have you asked if Wen Qing has a solution for that? She is a great healer, I am sure she can do something about it.”
“Not good. These 13 years, I felt like I am no different than a walking corpse,” Nie MingJue answered, “When you died, I felt the world crumbling. I did not know what I was doing anymore. I did not understand what was the meaning of living, and I wished for nothing more than to be able to die with you.”
Wei WuXian started caressing the face of the man standing before him before he moved closer to kiss Nie MingJue. When he removed his lips from the man, he caressed Nie MingJue’s face again, “Don’t say that, please. It hurts to hear you say that.”
Nie MingJue grasped the hand caressing his face, “Then please don’t leave me again. I will not be able to handle it if there is a second time.”
Wei WuXian nodded, “I promise.”
Nie MingJue leaned forward and locked their lips together. Tonight, he would kiss him enough to redeem back those kisses he had missed for the past 13 years.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
So, the next chapter is supposed to be the last, but I am still considering if I should add another 1 or 2 more chapters so that we can all see Mingxian's wedding. There will be no wedding next chapter as there are many other more important things to be focused on such as avenging Xiao XingChen and the reconciliation among some of the characters.
And also, thank you very much to those who gave the story kudos and commented. I did not have the time to reply to each of the comments, but I read each one of them and really appreciate them!
Wei WuXian heaved a sigh. The discussion conference was almost over. It was already the sixth day and Xue Yang still had yet to appear. On the second day of the discussion conference, Wei WuXian decided to stop attending it. He had chosen to walk around in the street of Qinghe instead, knowing that if he remained in Unclean Realm, then Xue Yang would not dare to appear.
Nie MingJue had objected and stated that he would stand by his side and he would never let him go out of Unclean Realm alone but Wei WuXian had refused and told him to remain at the discussion conference. First of all, he was a sect leader and he could not just leave the discussion conference held by the Qinghe Nie sect. Besides, Xue Yang would not dare to come to him if he saw the great Chief Cultivator standing at his side. He also did not allow A-Qing to follow him and had told Nie MingJue to protect her. Staying in Unclean Realm would be safer for her. After a round of arguments, Nie MingJue finally nodded his approval after Wei WuXian agreed for him to send a few Nie disciples to protect him in secret.
But who was he kidding? He knew those Nie disciples were not there merely to protect him. They were going to inform Nie MingJue once Xue Yang appeared, and he was sure Nie MingJue would rush to his side in an instant.
He was about to return to Unclean Realm disappointingly when he felt a sharp danger coming his way. Shuanghua appeared in his hand in an instant and the sound of metals clanging was as loud as a bell.
“Is it true that you are marrying Nie MingJue?” The voice sounded filled with anger.
Wei WuXian did not answer and the force on the other sword increased, “Xiao XingChen, answer me!”
“It is true,” Xue Yang heard Xiao XingChen said and he gritted his teeth in anger.
“Brother Xian, don’t let him go! The man in front of you is Xue Yang!”
Xue Yang turned to see that it was A-Qing shouting there with Nie MingJue beside her.
“You blind brat! I really should have killed you a long time ago!” exclaimed Xue Yang. Nie MingJue immediately pushed A-Qing behind him. He looked at Nie MingJue before turning back to Xiao XingChen and gritted his teeth. There were so many things he had to talk to Xiao XingChen about, but he knew he needed to escape as soon as possible. More cultivators were appearing to stand behind Nie MingJue, and he knew he would not be able to defeat all of them alone. It was dangerous for him to stay any longer.
Xue Yang stepped back and snapped his fingers. Wei WuXian could then hear something dropped from somewhere high.
“It’s a fierce corpse!” Someone had exclaimed.
“Xiao XingChen, here is your old friend. Don’t you miss him?” said Xue Yang, a sly smile could be seen on his face.
“Brother Xian, it’s Song daozhang!”
Wei WuXian gritted his teeth in anger, “Xue Yang, I must kill you today!”
Wei WuXian charged forward with Shuanghua. The sound of two swords clanging could be heard but he realized it was not Xue Yang standing in front of him. He could feel resentful energy coming from whoever it was that he was fighting with. It must be Song Lan, he thought. While he was distracted, Song Lan, as the good swordsman he was, pushed him backward. When he nearly lost his balance, he felt Nie MingJue supporting his weight by wrapping his arm around his waist and Baxia was out on his right hand, fighting with Song Lan.
Once Wei WuXian had balanced himself to stand without anyone else supporting him, he took out his flute and started presenting a piece of music. Resentful energy started appearing around him. He could hear the crowd whispering and chattering, but he ignored them all. Within a blink of an eye, the crowd was gasping and staring in shock instead of whispering and chattering.
Another fierce corpse had appeared, standing in front of Xiao XingChen.
Wen Ning, the ghost general.
Wen Ning was not a normal fierce corpse. Not every demonic cultivator could summon him and if someone managed to summon him, there were only two possibilities. It was either he was a talented demonic cultivator, or a certain dead demonic cultivator had returned to life.
“Wen Ning, do not hurt him. MingJue, let Wen Ning deal with him,” stated Wei WuXian.
Nie MingJue nodded and stepped aside. While Wen Ning dealt with Song Lan, Wei WuXian charged forward towards Xue Yang again.
Xue Yang narrowed his eyes, “You are not Xiao XingChen. Who are you? Where is Xiao XingChen?”
In a fit of anger, Wei WuXian exerted enough force onto Shuanghua to push Xue Yang backward, “Keep your mouth shut! You have no right to call Xiao XingChen’s name! It’s all because of you that my martial uncle had chosen to end his life!”
Xue Yang widened his eyes, “No! It could not be! Martial uncle? Who in the world are you?!”
Wei WuXian held his sword tightly and said, “Since you are so interested in my identity, I will tell you before you die. My name is Wei WuXian, a martial nephew of Xiao XingChen. I am here to get revenge for what you have done to my martial uncle and for those you have killed mercilessly.”
Wei WuXian charged forward, but he could feel Xue Yang dodging him.
Xue Yang laughed, “A blind man, what can you even do?”
Wei WuXian kept charging forward and Xue Yang kept dodging him. Wei WuXian clicked his tongue in annoyance. As expected, he still needed some more time to adapt to getting blind. However, there was no time to waste. He must kill Xue Yang today.
He stabbed Shuanghua on the ground before he reached for his flute again. Resentful energy once again gathered around him as he summoned all of the nearby corpses to be on his command. After the piece of music was completely played out, he felt blood leaking out at the corner of his lips and he immediately held on to Shuanghua which was still stabbed onto the ground in order to keep himself standing.
Nie MingJue was by his side in an instant, “WuXian!”
Wei WuXian raised a hand to wipe off the blood on his lips, “I am fine. It’s been too long since I summoned so many at once.”
The sound of Xue Yang struggling against the corpses could be heard by Wei WuXian. Wei WuXian had ordered the corpses to hold him in place so he could no longer dodge him.
“Don’t worry, they will not hurt you. After all, I will be the one to end your life,” said Wei WuXian as he advanced to Xue Yang.
With a swift move, Wei WuXian brought his sword forward towards Xue Yang’s neck. Blood started spilling onto the ground immediately. The fierce corpses under Wei WuXian’s commands then started disappearing, leaving the dead Xue Yang to fall onto the ground.
“Xue Yang is finally dead!”
Hearing such comments, Wei WuXian finally heaved a sigh of relief. Knowing that his task was done, he suddenly felt the previous strength leaving him and nearly fell if not for Nie MingJue standing by his side and caught him in time.
A-Qing dashed to Wei WuXian worriedly, “Brother Xian, are you all right?”
Wei WuXian gave off a weak smile and patted A-Qing’s head, “Don’t worry. I am just a little tired.”
“I will carry you home,” said Nie MingJue.
“No, wait. There is still Song Lan. MingJue, can you please bring me to him?” asked Wei WuXian and Nie MingJue silently guided him to Song Lan who had been tied up by the Nie disciples to avoid him from attacking anyone or running away.
“Song Lan?” Wei WuXian questioned, but there was no response.
“His tongue has been cut out and he seems to be unable to recognize anyone, looking as if he is still under control,” stated Nie MingJue.
Wei WuXian frowned. He clenched his fists, feeling infuriated. He regretted letting Xue Yang died so easily. He should have cut out his tongue too, but perhaps not. A-Qing was here, and many other junior disciples who had come to attend the discussion conference were here too. They did not deserve to watch something so disturbing.
Wei WuXian stretched his hand forward, and he reached forward until he felt what he was touching at the moment was Song Lan’s head. Just then, he felt something at the back of his head. He tried pulling it out and Song Lan started screaming. He stopped for a moment before he proceeded to pull it out at a swift speed.
“Untie him,” said Wei WuXian.
The two Nie disciples standing behind Song Lan turned to Nie MingJue for his approval. When Nie MingJue nodded at them, they started to unbind Song Lan.
“Ah… ah… ah…” Song Lan tried speaking as he grabbed Wei WuXian’s shoulders.
“I am sorry, Song daozhang. I am not Xiao XingChen. I am his martial nephew, Wei WuXian. My martial uncle had decided to end his life and brought me back to the world, requesting me to kill Xue Yang. He also told me you seemed to be in Xue Yang’s control and told me to free you. So then, now you are free. What will you be planning to do now?”
Song Lan was silent as he lowered his head and stared at the ground. Knowing that he was having difficulties deciding on what he wanted to do next, Nie MingJue decided that there was no rush in making a decision at the moment.
“There is no rush. You can stay at Unclean Realm and slowly think of what you want to do next,” said Nie MingJue before he turned to his right-hand man, “Show him the way to a guest room.”
After Song Lan left with Nie MingJue’s right-hand man, Nie MingJue turned to Wei WuXian and said, “Don’t worry too much.”
Wei WuXian turned to the man beside him and smiled. He opened his mouth and was about to say something when he heard something dropped in front of him.
“Young Master Wei, I am sorry. I was too late to save you,” said Wen Ning as he knelt on the ground. Wei WuXian was bewildered at first until he realized Wen Ning was referring to what happened 13 years ago.
Wei WuXian frowned and reached forward to grab Wen Ning’s shoulders, pulling him up, “It is not your fault, do not blame yourself.”
“Young Master Wei…”
A soft smile appeared on Wei WuXian’s lips. He was happy to know that Wen Ning was still the same after so many years had passed. He pulled him into a silent hug.
Wen Ning wrapped his hands around Wei WuXian, “Young Master Wei, we have missed you a lot, especially Sect Leader Nie.”
“I know,” Wei WuXian said as he smiled again, knowing just how much Nie MingJue had really missed him.
Wen Ning then suddenly released his hands from Wei WuXian and called out respectfully, “Sister.”
Wei WuXian turned around and felt someone embraced him.
“Wen Qing…” Wei WuXian started. He did not know what he should say to her. He knew he must have worried her a lot.
“There is no need to say anything. Wei WuXian, welcome back.”
Wei WuXian smiled, “I am back.”
Wen Qing released him and stepped aside. Wei WuXian heard light footsteps coming towards him, but then there was a silence. He could not see, so he could only make a guess.
“SiZhui? A-Yuan, is that you?”
Wei WuXian was caught off guard when he suddenly felt someone jumping up and hugged him, “Brother Xian, A-Yuan really misses you so much!”
Wei WuXian wrapped his arms around him, “Brother Xian misses A-Yuan a lot too.”
Seeing how the two were inseparable, Nie MingJue smiled at how warm-looking the scene before him was. Wen Qing walked towards them and put her arms over both of their shoulders, “All right, A-Yuan. Your brother Xian must be tired now. There is plenty of time for us to talk, but I guess we should go home first.”
Wei SiZhui nodded and wiped his tears away. Nie MingJue stepped forward and wrapped his arm around Wei WuXian, “Yes, our home.”
Wei WuXian smiled warmly at the mention of home. Yes. He had one now. A home, a family. He allowed Nie MingJue to lead him forward as they started walking back to Unclean Realm until he heard someone shouted for his name from behind.
He froze immediately. He would never forget such a gentle voice belonged to who. It was the very same voice who had comforted him when he was young. It was also the very same voice who had made him felt warm and understood what a family was, but it had been destroyed 13 years ago when Jin GuangShan had told him it was his Shijie who wanted him dead more than anyone else.
Wen Qing, Wen Ning, Wei SiZhui and A-Qing who were behind Nie MingJue and Wei WuXian turned around and stepped aside after seeing that it was Jiang YanLi who had called out to Wei WuXian.
“Let’s leave,” said Nie MingJue as he guided Wei WuXian to continue walking forward.
Wei WuXian felt someone came from the side and grasped his left wrist. That was another voice that he would never ever forget. It was the voice that had argued with him since young, and it was also the very same voice that would sometimes sound worried when he saw him injured.
Jiang Cheng, the man that he was willing to give his golden core to him.
Nie MingJue was infuriated. After 13 years of grieving, his happiness finally returned to him, yet the Jiang siblings must come back into the scene and tried stealing his happiness away again. In a fit of rage, he pushed Jiang Cheng away and sent him staggering backward.
Hearing that something was not right, Wei WuXian stretched out his hand like he was trying to catch the man in front of him, “Jiang Cheng!”
“MingJue, do not –”
Do not hurt him, that was what he wanted to say but he was frozen immediately when he felt a pair of thin arms wrapped around his waist.
“A-Xian. Please don’t leave, I am begging you. I know you hate me, but please give me a chance to explain. It is not like this. I have never wanted you dead. How could I? You are my younger brother!”
Wei WuXian noticed his hands were trembling when he raised them up, trying to touch the arms wrapping around his waist.
“WuXian, do not believe her!” exclaimed Nie MingJue.
“A-Xian, please..!” Jiang YanLi begged.
Wei WuXian could almost feel Nie MingJue and Jiang Cheng staring at him, waiting for him to state whether he believed in Jiang YanLi or not, and with each hesitating second, he could feel the arms wrapped around his waist grown tighter. This was his first time feeling such a persistent side of Jiang YanLi.
He grabbed the arms wrapping around him and pushed them down before he turned and grasped Jiang YanLi’s hands, “Shijie.”
“WuXian!” exclaimed Nie MingJue in dissatisfaction.
“MingJue, I believe Shijie. If she says she never wanted me dead, then there must be some misunderstanding in between,” said Wei WuXian.
Nie MingJue heaved an exhausted sigh, “Fine. Then Lady Jiang, do tell me how is it that you have been misunderstood. Is the hairpin given to A-Yao a fake one, or are you trying to say that it did not belong to you? Or are you trying to say someone stole the hairpin and framed you?”
“Sect Leader Nie,” said Jiang Cheng, annoyed at the tone Nie MingJue was using to speak to his sister as if he was mocking Jiang YanLi.
Someone had voiced out, and everyone turned to see that it was Jin ZiXuan who had spoken up.
“I was the one who took A-Li’s hairpin. It has nothing to do with A-Li, she did not know it was missing until when Wen Ning showed it to everyone on the very same day that you died,” said Jin ZiXuan.
“It’s you?!” Jiang Cheng said in a rage before he turned to his sister, “A-Jie, is that true?”
Nie MingJue snorted, “Don’t think you can just pull this off by making your ex-husband take all the blame!”
Wei WuXian was taken aback, “Ex-husband? You damn peacock, you dare divorce my Shijie?!”
“Didn’t they divorce because of you?!” exclaimed Jin Ling who was walking towards his father.
“Me? What is happening here?” questioned Wei WuXian, puzzled.
“I don’t think it is suitable to speak here. Can we all go into Unclean Realm to speak instead? Besides, Wei WuXian, you are looking rather pale. I think I have to check on you,” said Wen Qing.
Nie MingJue agreed in reluctance. He did not want to hear their excuses. He only wanted them to leave and not to disturb his betrothed and him again.
All of them started to move and get into Unclean Realm, but Jin GuangYao had stopped them as he spoke, “Elder brother, the discussion conference…”
“Either HuaiSang or you can take my place,” said Nie MingJue without looking back to his youngest sworn brother.
Jin GuangYao was about to argue that it was not appropriate, but Nie MingJue did not seem like he cared and had already walked into Unclean Realm. Jin GuangYao heaved a sigh and turned around to where he saw Nie HuaiSang was standing previously. Since Nie MingJue had abandoned them, Nie HuaiSang, being the sect leader heir, obviously had to be the one responsible to be Nie MingJue's replacement at the discussion conference.
“HuaiSang, I guess you will have to –”
Jin GuangYao blinked his eyes and turned around desperately. Nie HuaiSang was nowhere to be found.
Lan XiChen chuckled, “HuaiSang ran away just as soon as elder brother left. A-Yao, I guess you will have to be the one to take care of the discussion conference then.”
Ignoring Jin GuangYao who was standing there in a daze, Lan XiChen, along with the other cultivators, walked back into Unclean Realm and took their seat. Jin GuangYao went to where Nie MingJue had previously sat and scrutinized his surroundings.
The Yunmeng Jiang sect leader was gone.
The Lanling Jin sect leader and the sect leader heir were gone.
With only the Gusu Lan sect having all his people here, he somehow had to wonder if there was even a point to continue this discussion conference. He turned to look at Lan XiChen who was enjoying his tea, looking as though there was nothing wrong at all with the current situation.
Jin GuangYao heaved a soft sigh before he announced for the discussion conference to be resumed. When he felt some cultivators staring at him with questioning looks, he could only offer them an awkward smile.
“That totals up what had happened 13 years ago,” said Jin ZiXuan after he was done explaining from what Jin ZiXun had told him to how he had decided to give Jiang YanLi’s hairpin to Jin ZiXun and how Jiang YanLi had divorced with him after learning the truth.
“A-Jie, I did not know about this. I am sorry,” said Jiang Cheng.
Jiang YanLi shook her head before turning to Wei WuXian, “A-Xian?”
Everyone turned to Wei WuXian, waiting for him to indicate whether he believed in what Jin ZiXuan had said.
“I… but…” There were still so many questions unanswered, and he felt he was in a state of bemusement.
“A-Xian,” Jiang YanLi said as she bent down in front of Wei WuXian, “You do not believe me?”
“No, but Shijie..! Jin GuangShan said..!”
Jin ZiXuan felt a headache coming over. Even after his death, his father still managed to trouble people.
Nie MingJue frowned at the mention of the man who he would not mind killing repeatedly for at least a million times.
“That day when I was captured by Jin GuangShan, I was dragged in from the entrance. Many disciples were staring, Jin GuangShan said everyone in Lanling knew I was in his hands. The fact that Shijie did not show up to stop him meant Shijie wished for me to… In the end, he told me that he had decided to send me to the village as a sacrifice because it was Shijie and Jiang Cheng’s idea.”
Jiang Cheng and Jiang YanLi widened their eyes in shock.
Nie MingJue stood up in a rage, “You..!”
If eyes could kill, the Jiang siblings would have been dead by now.
“Wei WuXian, he lied! We did not, why would we even do that? Please trust me, I have never thought of hurting you. We also did not know you were in Jin GuangShan’s hands at all until Sect Leader Nie barged into the hall with you in his arms on the day of Jin Ling’s full-month celebration,” said Jiang Cheng.
“A-Xian, when were you captured? I really did not know anything,” said Jiang YanLi.
“Two days before Young Master Jin’s full-month celebration,” answered Wen Ning.
At that said, Jiang YanLi and Jin ZiXuan immediately widened their eyes. After 13 years, they finally understood what Jin GuangShan had been planning back then. Jiang YanLi dropped onto the ground, taken aback by the fact that she had missed the chance to save her brother.
Jin ZiXuan rushed to his ex-wife’s side to check if she had injured herself. After making sure that she was fine, he turned to look at Wei WuXian before he started to speak, “Two days before A-Ling’s full-month celebration, my father –”
Jin ZiXuan paused, a little ashamed to call such a man his father at a time like this, and he cleared his throat, “Jin GuangShan had insisted that both A-Li and I must be exhausted with the preparation and all, so he told us to forget everything for a while and to go out and have a walk and enjoy ourselves. We declined, stating that we are not tired at all but he insisted, he even said that he prepared a gift for us out there, and told us to not return at least until night. We felt strange at how strongly he insisted for us to go out but when the day got darker, there were fireworks which seemed to have been prepared for A-Li and I by him, so we thought he just wanted to make sure we received his gift.”
Jiang YanLi reached out for Wei WuXian’s hands, “A-Xian, please believe me. I really did not know. I…”
She paused and sobbed, “It’s all my fault. Sect Leader Nie is right to say that I was the one who had caused your death. It’s my fault. I really…”
Wei WuXian could not handle listening to his Shijie crying any longer. He rushed forward and embraced Jiang YanLi, “No, Shijie. It’s not your fault. Please do not blame yourself.”
The warmth of her brother finally willing to embrace her made her tears unstoppable and she allowed herself to cry in her brother’s arms. Wei WuXian embraced Jiang YanLi tighter and repeatedly told her that everything was over and they were all fine now, hoping that such words could make her feel better and perhaps stop her from crying harder, but it did not work.
Jiang Cheng was shedding tears too as he watched his sister and brother embraced each other. He advanced to them and said, “I am sorry too. Wei WuXian, I am a sect leader yet I could not even protect you. I did not do anything to stop Jin GuangShan and could only watch you die. It’s my fault!”
Wei WuXian turned to the source of the voice, “Jiang Cheng.”
“I am sorry,” Jiang Cheng said again miserably, closing his eyes as he allowed the tears to fall off.
Wei WuXian bit his lower lip and pulled Jiang Cheng over too. The three embraced each other and cried out for the misunderstanding that had lasted for 13 years.
The others who had been standing there and watching them – some were crying too while some others were smiling as they all felt happy for those three's reconciliation and the heavy misunderstanding that had finally been cleared out after 13 years.
When the three finally decided to separate from each other, Jin ZiXuan and Jin Ling went towards Jiang YanLi to help her stand while Jiang Cheng and Nie MingJue helped Wei WuXian to stand.
“Mother…” said Jin Ling worriedly.
Jiang YanLi wiped off her tears and said, “A-Ling, quick. Go greet your uncle.”
Jin Ling nodded and walked towards Wei WuXian, bowing to him and greeted, “Uncle Wei.”
“You are Jin Ling, Jin RuLan?” asked Wei WuXian as he reached forward to touch the child’s head, “MingJue, why did you not tell me about him at all? He has already grown so tall, must be a great cultivator, right?”
“He has never been able to defeat our SiZhui,” stated Nie MingJue.
“Hey! I am just not prepared! I will win the next time,” exclaimed Jin Ling.
The others laughed.
“Feel free to challenge me whenever you wish to, Young Master Jin,” said Wei SiZhui.
Wen Qing and Nie MingJue held their heads high, one was proud of her nephew while another was proud of his adopted son. Jin Ling was furious because they were all acting so annoying in his opinion, looking as though he would take a million years yet he would still not be able to beat Wei SiZhui in terms of cultivation.
“All right, it’s not early anymore. Wei WuXian, please rest earlier, you must be exhausted today,” said Wen Qing.
“Hmm… A-Yuan, it’s been such a long time, do you want to sleep with Brother Xian again?” Wei WuXian joked.
Wei SiZhui blushed, remembering exactly just how he had climbed up to Wei WuXian when he was young and begged for his Brother Xian to allow him there to sleep with him. He was about to tell Wei WuXian to stop teasing him when Nie MingJue suddenly moved his arms and lifted Wei WuXian up.
“You are mine tonight.”
Wei WuXian blushed when he felt Nie MingJue lifted him up into his arms. The others were taken aback by the fact that such words could actually escape Nie MingJue's lips and they could only stare in surprise at Nie MingJue leaving them with Wei WuXian in his arms.
“We should rest too,” said Wen Qing and she started leaving with the others, leaving only Jiang Cheng, Jin Ling, Jiang YanLi and Jin ZiXuan standing there.
Jiang YanLi and Jin ZiXuan were silent as they stood next to each other. Jin Ling nudged his uncle and gestured for him to look at the two. Both Jiang Cheng and Jin Ling knew the two must have a lot to talk about, and they left in perfect silence.
Noticing that they were the only two left, Jin ZiXuan tried his best to start speaking, “You… how have you been lately?”
“Good,” answered Jiang YanLi.
Both Jin ZiXuan and Jiang YanLi said together as they turned to face each other. Noticing that it had been so long since they were able to look at each other so closely, they blushed as they realized they could no longer look away from each other.
“I miss you a lot,” said Jin ZiXuan, staring at Jiang YanLi’s eyes.
“I miss you too,” said Jiang YanLi.
Jin ZiXuan widened his eyes in joy and wrapped his hands around Jiang YanLi’s, “A-Li, can you give us another chance? I really don’t want to be separated from you.”
Although short, Jin ZiXuan could clearly see that Jiang YanLi nodded. He embraced Jiang YanLi happily and Jiang YanLi who had a smile on her lips wrapped her arms around him. Jiang YanLi could not even remember how long had it been since she could feel so happy. Not only did her brother who died 13 years ago had returned and forgave her, and she was also able to get her husband back today.
This has been planned to be the final chapter, but I decided to add in Mingxian's wedding so there will probably be around another one or two more chapters after this. However, I have not written even a single word for the next chapter, so I think it will be a long wait for those excited to see Mingxian's wedding.
Thank you for reading!