People say that before his slumber, the Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation was the most powerful among the Great Clans.
The owner of the Yiling Burial Mounds that no one dared touch. Founder of the Demonic Path and one of the few immortals who had yet to Ascend. The cultivation world gained an era of peace following the Sunshot Campaign under this man’s watchful gaze and bountiful wisdom.
And yet the water’s surface could be easily disturbed by something as small as a ripple.
“The Yiliing Patriarch has been attacked!”
It was a news that sent the cultivation world into a flurry of activity and gossip.
“Who did it?”
“Who else but that detestable Jin Guangshan! I heard that he, Jin Zixun and a few of their allies banded together to ambush the Patriarch on Qiongqi Road when he left to attend his sworn sister’s son’s one month old celebration.”
One cultivator scowled and spat on the dirt in disgust.
“Pah! Those damn Jins, thinking they could do whatever they like without consequence!”
“But what of the Patriarch? What happened?”
“Ah. Apparently, the Ghost General took his master and returned to the Burial Mounds. Healer Wen Qing tried to do what she could but in the end…”
A moment of silence descended upon those who listened to the story, the air heavy with solemnity and mourning.
One of the cultivators present, a woman, let out a sigh as though lamenting the days gone by.
“It was only thanks to the Patriarch that we have this peace. Without him, how can the cultivation world retain balance?”
“He was instrumental in taking down the Wens. Without him, the civilians would have suffered greater losses during and after the Sunshot Campaign,” another cultivator frowned. “I don’t see why anyone would dislike him.”
This time, it was an old man who let out a sigh as he sipped his tea.
“Fate is unpredictable and Heaven’s will unknown. To think they would attack a revered immortal…is simply unbelievable.”
He could hear water rippling all around him. From the droplets that linger from morning dew, the way they clung hopelessly to their anchors until gravity could no longer hold them down all the way to when it hit the water with a clear sound.
It was a peaceful sound. One he felt he hadn’t heard in such a long time.
Next was the smell of flowers. Fragrant and graceful, their scent brought by the gentle caress of the wind’s breeze. He knew not what flower it was but the image of red spider lilies, eerie in their vividly scarlet color, came unbidden into his mind’s eye.
Touch came. His fingers twitched and with it was the sensation of something soft. Like silk? Definitely not cloth. It was smooth and…comfortable. Was he on a bed or something?
And just like that, slowly but surely, his mind began to reorganize itself.
Who am I?
Where am I?
How did I come to be like this?
He opened his eyes and then the world came to life.
When Wei Wuxian opened his eyes, he was in a coffin of all things.
Then the first thing he thought of was—
Oh, has it been thirteen years already?
He hadn’t died. That was fact. All that happened was that he had been ambushed on an open road, nearly bled out and entered slumber for an undetermined time. That was all.
He got out of the coffin, nearly stumbling as he did so, and saw a vast expanse of a lake around him.
“Aiya, so they put me in the Sunset Palace,” Wei Wuxian muttered with a shake of his head, glancing back at the coffin. “Nice view, peaceful. Has a good balance in energy too. Still, did they have to put me in that?”
The coffin was a glass casket of all things. While the base was a pure black with silk mattress inlaid, the lid was made of pure glass – a material Wei Wuxian was sure was difficult to attain.
“I feel like Snow White just by looking at it,” the man groaned. “Whose idea was it to make something like this? I’d like to meet them.”
Glass was a luxury item in this time period. For it to be used on something so ridiculous like a lid on a casket was like using a gold bar to buy a cheap dishware.
“Wen Qing…no, Jiang Cheng? Maybe Jin Peacock if he was feeling guilty.”
While those three had the means and resources to do so, it was the latter who had the most potential and more likely to do something so magnanimous in terms of financial spending.
Red eyes narrowed and his lips twisted into a smirk.
“For now, let’s pay some people a visit.”
Mo Xuanyu wondered why is it that he was gifted with such deplorable luck, to have landed on such situation.
The son of a prominent Sect Leader and a woman whom he had taken a flight of a fancy to. Originally Mo Xuanyu would never have been able to have the chance to enter the cultivation world given his status as a bastard but due to a series of good luck and chance, he had been given the opportunity to prove himself to his father and family.
Of course fate decided that it had other ideas for him.
Cutsleeve, they had called him. Sneering and mocking at his misfortune. Lunatic. Unable to cultivate properly, can’t even bring honor to his family.
The words cut deeper than any knife. He wanted to scream, to lash out that no, he was not a useless bastard. He might be a cutsleeve, true, but he would never dare to bring dishonor to his mother.
Mo Xuanyu wanted to do a lot of things but the only thing he could do now was clench his fist and grit his teeth against all the titles the world had decided to place upon him.
“Be happy, A-Yu,” Mother had said in tears during the brief respite of her madness. “Live for yourself and be happy.”
But how can I do that when you’re not here, Mother?
“Young man! Might I get some help?”
That bright voice, cheerful yet sharp, broke through the haze of his grief, and Mo Xuanyu blinked as the world began to twist back into the reality he was in right now.
Before him was a handsome man. Long black hair with the top half tied back by a red ribbon that fluttered in the wind and sharp grey eyes that resembled the moonlight. The black robes he was wearing didn’t seem to belong from any sect though Mo Xuanyu subtly checked the designs just in case.
There’s no emblems or symbol indicating what clan he’s from, thought the Yiling Wei Sect also wears black and red, he surmised. A rogue then? No, the robes are too high in quality for that. …a noble?
Wondering wasn’t going to help him any, and he was called so…
“Certainly. How may this one be of service?” Mo Xuanyu replied in a soft tone resembling the ones the servants in the Mo manor used.
The stranger’s face looked slightly uncomfortable at the way Mo Xuanyu chose to refer to himself but said nothing.
“I need a guide to Dafan Mountain, you see. And since this is my first time in the area I thought I could go and ask the locals for direction.”
Dafan Mountain? “Are you perhaps a cultivator, sir?” he blurted out in surprise.
The stranger hummed. “Of course. I don’t have a sect so it doesn’t look like it but I’m pretty good if I say so myself.”
A cultivator. What was more was that he was a rogue one. Meaning there was a possibility that he either knew or didn’t know of what Mo Xuanyu had gone through in that world.
“…This one would be glad to provide directions for an esteemed cultivator,” the words were bitter on his tongue and heavy on his heart.
The man blinked once, twice, before breaking out into a bright grin as he bowed in thanks.
“Many thanks to the young master! Pardon the late introduction. My name is Shen Yuandao. What is the name of the honorable young master before me?”
The bow, the gesture of courtesy and respect…it was enough to nearly make Mo Xuanyu burst into tears then and there. It was like a balm to his soul.
So he returned the bow and introduced himself.
“This one’s name is Mo Xuanyu. I am pleased to meet the Young Master Shen.”
And if his voice seemed to be slightly watery, the Young Master made no mention of it.
It’s only been half a shichen and yet Lan Jingyi is already regretting his decision to accompany on this night hunt.
“It would only be an easy night hunt,” they said, Jingyi mentally grumbled. “We have Hanguang-jun and Sect Leader Jiang to accompany us so it’s fine,” they said.
Fuck that. Whoever said those words clearly didn’t know what it was like right now!
“Of all the things, why’d you have to open your mouth and say those words?” he griped at the young heir beside him.
Jin Ling flushed a vibrant red from where he was situated, bow and arrows at the ready.
“Shut up! I didn’t know okay!”
“Yeah, and look where that landed us!”
“Let’s save the argument for another time shall we?” Sizhui, ever the diplomat and mediator, gave them both a genial smile worthy of Zewu-jun’s approval. “Let’s fire our signal flares first. That way, Hanguang-jun and Sect Leader Jiang will be able to know that we are in need of assistance.”
Jin Ling huffed but said nothing. Even he knew better than to say anything to a reasonable advice.
“Still, what is that thing?” he said after they had launched their flares to the sky.
Jingyi set his eyes upon their current trouble. A large statue of a maiden with several arms was currently wreaking havoc in the area after Jin Ling had said a few choice words that got it moving and was now attacking every cultivator in the vicinity.
“Don’t know but something tells me it’s not a fierce corpse.”
Sizhui took out something from his qiankun pouch and frowned. “The compass isn’t responding either.”
“Great. So it’s not something that takes up resentful energy but it moves independently and has an intelligence of its own. Real helpful.”
“Yeah but…” Jingyi felt something chilling run down his spine at the thought that crossed his mind. “You don’t think that’s a minor goddess…don’t you?”
A brief moment of silence fell upon the three as they traded uncertain looks.
“That…might be a reasonable guess.” Sizhui admitted with some degree of reluctance.
Jin Ling groaned. “Great. Just great. Not only was I forbidden from using the spiritual nets by my uncle but I also managed to wake up a deity?”
Jingyi had to admit; the Jin sect’s heir had to have one of the worst luck among their generation. It was a good thing he had tremendous wealth and some great parents to balance it otherwise it would simply be too pitiful to look at.
“Okay so we know what it is. Next question: what do we do about it?”
“We hold if off,” Sizhui stated firmly and unsheathed his blade. “Long enough until one of the seniors come to send reinforcements. Our current forces aren’t enough. We will be needing either Hanguang-jun or Sect Leader Jiang to keep it at bay.”
“True enough,” Jingyi admitted and did the same with his own blade.
Jin Ling readied his bow and arrow with narrowed eyes and took a deep breath.
“I’ll draw its attention,” he said. “The two of you do something about those arms.”
Usually Jingyi would grumble about being ordered around by the “young mistress” but this time, he let the words slide like water down his back and set his focus on the prey before them.
He wondered how many talismans he had on his person to be able to deal some damage. Those arms looked tough…
The piercing sound of a flute resounded like a melody in their ears.
Mo XuanYu didn’t know what was going on right now.
It was just supposed to be a normal outing. He would lead the Young Master Shen Yuandao to Dafan Mountain, get paid, listen to some gossip in the cultivation world if possible and then hide away in his shack until either Mo ZiYuan or some other from the Mo family came to harass him.
Not…not like this.
“Um, Young Master Shen,” he started slowly, eyes never leaving the rampaging statue(?!) of the Dancing Goddess of Dafan Mountain. “Perhaps we should leave before it reaches us…?”
“Hm? Ah!” Something similar to surprise flittered across the handsome young man’s face before his lips twisted into a smirk. “Don’t worry, Young Master Mo. This is what I was anticipating for.”
You were anticipating a rampaging goddess during a night hunt???
Somehow that line of thought seemed too crazy for someone like Young Master Shen who had been a delightful companion throughout their travel.
“And to my luck, it seems like some juniors of majors sects are here too.”
True to Young Master Shen’s observation, Mo XuanYu could spot the signature white and blue robes of Gusu Lan, Jiang sect’s violet robes…and a single golden robe belonging to a familiar figure.
“Young Master Shen, do you have a method to stop the statue of the Dancing Goddess?” he asked.
While Mo XuanYu had no love for the Jin sect, Jin Zixuan and his wife and son had been the very few who had been welcoming to him during his stay in Koi Tower. He didn’t think he would be able to face Jin Zixuan and Jiang Yanli should anything ever happen to their son on Mo XuanYu’s watch.
Young Master Shen grinned.
“But of course! That’s why I’m here, after all.”
He dipped a hand into the inner folds of his robes, revealing some of the skin hidden underneath. Mo XuanYu flushed a deep red and turned away, hearing a chuckle from the Young Master Shen in response.
“Got it. You can look again, Young Master Mo.”
The teasing lilt in Young Master Shen’s voice made Mo XuanYu want to snap at his shamelessness, but any word he might have had vanished the moment he saw what was in the other’s hands.
A black flute.
A black flute with a red tassel.
“You might want to stay close to me for this,” Young Master Shen said, seemingly not noticing the internal distress occurring within his guide. “Things are going to be a little messy from here.”
He put the flute to his lips and played.
Resentful energy swirled around him in droves.
Blood red color sparked into his eyes.
Mo XuanYu gaped as the pieces began to fit.
Black flute with a red tassel.
Black robes lacking the red color of the Yiling Wei Sect.
The tremendous amount of resentful energy that seemed to flow out of him.
There was no way Mo XuanYu wouldn’t know about the stories of the Yiling Patriarch. Nobody in the cultivation world could ever feign ignorance about him lest they be called a mindless idiot.
But then that meant…
The Yiling Patriarch had been ambushed by the Jin Clan thirteen years ago. As a result, he had been forced to enter slumber to heal himself.
“Young Master Shen…you are…”
“Wei Wuxian!!!” someone angrily yelled in the distance.
Young Master Shen – no, the Yiling Patriarch – paused from his playing to give the speaker a bright grin.
“Oh, Jiang Cheng! Nice to see you haven’t lost that temper of yours in the years I’ve been gone.”
“That’s right. Me!”
Sect Leader Jiang seemed to teetering between entering qi deviation and bursting into tears right then. Mo XuanYu was secretly impressed and terrified at the same time because that was Sect Leader Jiang that the Patriarch was teasing and wow, the Patriarch was good at this.
Behind him, he could hear people begin to whisper behind the Patriarch’s back.
“That’s the Yiling Patriarch?”
“He’s awake from his slumber?”
“The Jin sect better beware. I doubt he’s forgiven them for their slight thirteen years ago.”
“But why is he here??”
“Since when did you wake up?” Sect Leader Jiang’s voice was heard clearly among the whispers, drawing everyone’s attention to them.
The Patriarch hummed. “Just now.” He said lightly. “I woke up and decided to go and find out what’s happened since then. I found some interesting things instead!”
“…Does your sect even know that you’re awake?”
“Why would I tell them?”
Poor Sect Leader Jiang looked so exasperated that Mo XuanYu felt a sense of sympathy extend towards the man. To think that even the feared Sandhu Shenshou would be reduced to this…the Yiling Patriarch was truly a man to be feared.
“That being said, I didn’t expect to see you here. You’re not bullying somebody are you?”
“Ah? Who do you think I am?! I’m not that shameless!!” Sect Leader Jiang spat. “A-Ling was having his night hunt with some juniors from the Lan Sect. Hanguang-jun and I came along to supervise.”
The air seemed to chill a bit at the name. Mo XuanYu suppressed a shiver as a faint breeze blew pass them. The Patriarch looked a bit dazed upon hearing the title, almost as though he was looking at something that wasn’t there.
“Lan Wangji,” Sect Leader Jiang clarified. Frowning, he then continued tentatively as though sensing that something was wrong. “Did you perhaps—“
“Mo XuanYu, how would you like to be a disciple at my sect?”
“Excuse me?” he squeaked. What was going on??
The Patriarch looked unruffled at the reaction and simply hummed. “Was I too abrupt? But you have the talent. With the right push and some encouragement, you could control resentful energy well. What do you say? Would you like to join my Sect?”
Mo XuanYu often imagined that there might come a day where he could find his calling in the cultivation world. At first, he had thought that the Jin sect was that calling. After all, his father was the Sect Leader despite all the unsavory acts he had done, not to mention Jin Zixuan and his wife were good people who had been nothing but kind to him during his stay. But then the Heavens decided that he had been too lucky and ripped that life from him along with his beloved mother. He had thought that his whole life would consist of being a lowly member of the Mo family, forever disgraced and unable to rise.
Now here was the famed Yiling Patriarch, the Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation himself, offering a place in his Sect?
So Mo XuanYu bowed with every ounce of respect he could muster and said,
“Mo XuanYu humbly greets his Master, the Yiling Patriarch.”
“Stand up, disciple. We need to get out of here first before we get to your first lesson.”
Smiling, the Yiling Patriarch grabbed Mo XuanYu by the shoulders and, to the latter’s surprise, started flying with black tendrils covering him.
He’s using resentful energy! Mo XuanYu mentally gasped.
“With that said, Jiang Cheng, I’ll send a formal letter informing the Sects that I’m back at a later date,” the Patriarch chirped in mischief. “Send Yanli my regards would you? And I want to get a closer look at my nephew on a later date!”
Sect Leader Jiang yelled something unintelligible behind them but by that time, the pair were already high up in the sky to hear it.
“So, my newest disciple, are there any valuables you need to retrieve before we get you settled?”
Mo XuanYu shook his head despite the warmth he could feel in his chest. Disciple, huh. What a nice thing to hear.
“No, Master. All of my things in the Mo Village are simply talismans from my time with the Jin sect. Nothing important.”
“I see.” The Patriarch nodded in understanding. “Then we’ll simply have to get you things of your own, yes?”
The warmth in his chest felt bigger than before so Mo XuanYu could do nothing but nod at his Master’s words. He had a lot of things he wanted to ask: such as why did he decide to leave before Hanguang-jun could appear? Why did he only wake up now? But that could be asked later. When they could land and Mo XuanYu got settled in his new home.
A new home.
Perhaps life wouldn’t be so bad after all.
“And he’s gone.”
Jiang Cheng let out an irritated sigh.
Thirteen years. It had been thirteen years since that day in Qiongqi Road when the Jin Sect had shook the cultivation world with their unscrupulous actions and even now, the after-effects of that incident could still be felt today. Particularly in the form of how the Jin Sect is currently being treated especially in Yiling.
“Jiujiu,” Jin Ling spoke up hesitantly behind him. “Just now…that…”
“We’ll talk more of that later, A-Ling,” the Jiang Sect Leader interjected with as much patience as he could muster.
“Then it’s true?” one of the Lan sect disciples whom Jin Ling had befriended said. “That was really the Yiling Patriarch?”
“Jingyi,” another Lan sect disciple called sternly.
Too late. Jiang Cheng felt the familiar presence creep up in the vicinity and prayed to the Heavens for strength and patience.
“You just missed him, Hanguang-jun,” he told the man the moment he appeared. “He’s already left. With a new disciple in his hands too.”
Lan Wangji said nothing in response. All he did was twitch a finger on his guqin and nod before addressing the juniors, one of which had been possessing a rather interesting expression ever since Wei Wuxian came and left.
But that wasn’t Jiang Cheng’s problem. Right now, he had to worry about the news that would ripple across the cultivation world as well as telling A-Jie about the whole incident before the gossip reached her.
Just another day for Sect Leader Jiang Cheng.