When he arrived at Cloud Recesses, Jiang Cheng was ready to snatch back his brother from Lan Er Gongzi, who never hid the fact he planned to lock up Wei Wuxian at Cloud Recesses. The majority elected Chief Cultivator, who Jiang Cheng didn’t cast a vote for, immediately abused his powers by forbidding anyone from touching Yiling Laozu soon after he obtained the position.
The whole Cultivation World didn’t bat an eye, and even if they did, the Chief Cultivator wouldn’t have given a damn. An action that speaks louder than words.
Yet, with all HanGuang Jun’s powers and authority, he still could not win the heart of the wayward rabbit who chose to run back to his burrow, Lotus Pier. The home Wei Wuxian could never deny. The playing field should be on Jiang Cheng’s side.
As the Sect Leader of Yunmeng Jiang, he had all the intention for the situation to stay under his control, but it didn’t take long for him to recall that when it comes to Wei Wuxian, it is simply impossible. Instead of packing his belongings and following Jiang Cheng back immediately, Wei Wuxian said he still has business to attend to and tells him to wait for his arrival.
He waited, and waited, but Wei Wuxian was still Wei Wuxian. Yiling Laozu didn’t show up until after three days’ time, and with an uninvited guest, fully aware of the host’s disdain.
Jiang Cheng resisted his urge to growl at the unofficial cultivation pair in front of the entrance, but his objection was obvious when he grimmly asked, “Why is he here?”
Yiling Laozu had not improved the slightest from past or present, with the White Knight who is never far behind. It irks Jiang Cheng further when neither asks permission from the Sect Leader of Lotus Pier, not surprisingly, because when have they ever?
Wei Wuxian was all smiles as he explained, “Lan Zhan said he wants to visit my hometown. I promised him the lotus seeds here are better than those from other lotus lakes. He wouldn’t believe me, so of course, I have to prove him wrong. Jiang Cheng, our reputation is at stake here. If the Chief Cultivator advertises our clan’s lotus seeds, we can sell them for a higher price, bringing fortune to our Sect....”
Jiang Cheng’s brows lifted at Wei Wuxian’s usual rambling, his mind barely comprehending the logic behind the obvious excuse. Irritably, he remarked, “He can talk?”
“Of course he does! Say something Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian nudged the stoic man beside him.
“Mmm,” HanGuang Jun answered emotionlessly, without the slightest hint of acknowledging the presence of the Sect Leader of Yunneng Jiang.
Jiang Cheng rolled his eyes at the aloof response, and wondered if there was anything Lan Wangji won’t do for his clueless brother. What’s so obvious to the rest of the world, Wei Wuxian still remains deaf and blind to, remarkably even after he eavesdropped on them at Cloud Recesses. Could it be because he fell too many times from climbing trees as a kid?
“We have no extra room,” Jiang Cheng habitually tried to argue, which never goes well for him, because he should know by now that Wei Wuxian always has his way.
“Lan Zhan can stay with me,” Wei Wuxian offered cheerfully. Unaware that both men had stiffened, but of different natures.
“No need, we do have extra rooms,” Jiang Cheng quickly informed.
“But, you just said we didn’t,” Wei Wuxian reminded him.
“I meant we didn’t have one prepared yet,” Jiang Cheng clarified between gritted teeth. “I didn’t know we would have an extra guest.”
“Just as I told Lan Zhan, Lotus Pier always has extra rooms. Now that our accommodations are resolved, can we see Wen Qing? Where is she now?”
Jiang Cheng hesitated, the subtle change was obvious to the brother who could always read him well. Wei Wuxian shortened their distance and grabbed on to his arm.
“Jiang Cheng, where is she?” Wei Wuxian asked again.
Jiang Cheng swallowed uncomfortably, “She’s in Jiejie’s old room.”
The abandoned room was the best choice, because it was only across the courtyard from his own. For many nights, he had stood guard in his room, half fearing she would vanish. He could not lose her, not now, not ever. Jiang Cheng had to make many promises, all of which he planned to keep, so she would not disappear again. But she hadn’t, she stayed.
“What’s wrong, Jiang Cheng?” Wei Wuxian asked, sensing the thickening anxiety. “You can tell me, is she okay?”
Although try as he might, there were things that he could never change. Nor could he atone for.
“I...I need to tell you something first.”
Three months ago, an anonymous letter had arrived.
There were no marks or seals to indicate its origin. The sender may be mysterious, but what was more alarming were the words. They were a lure to the recipient whose dream was shattered long ago. But could it just be a deception?
For a man who had lost more than he had gained, the thought of having her back, alive, well...it was only a delusion, he had convinced himself. She perished with her brother, they said. All those years, Jiang Cheng had thought she truly was gone. The great fire from afar diminished by the time he arrived. On those steps he took, the one who waited too long, the higher he climbed, guilt more heavily weighed.
Each time he was too late, every catastrophe he was not there. Why? All the women whom he had loved, died because he was powerless. Even with the position he had achieved, in the end, he was still that helpless boy who couldn’t even secure his parent’s bodies.
Clenching the letter in his hand, hope rose.
Is this a gift from the heavens above? A second chance?
For once in Jiang Cheng’s life, he did not ponder further. He spent all his life overthinking every move he took.
Actions before thoughts. Wei Wuxian had been that kind of person all his life. It was time Jiang Cheng should do the same.
Following those instructions, he traveled night and day. Alone, because this may be too good to be true, as there was no proof or guarantee. This journey he had to take on his own. If anything, even if this was a needle in the depth of the sea, he had to try.
Because if this was true, and Wen Qing’s alive, what would he do?
No matter, Jiang Cheng soon realized. Even if she would never forgive him, he would spend the rest of his life paying for his inaction.
When he found her, deep in the northern mountain, Wen Qing was still the gentle doctor healing others, peacefully away from the cultivation world.
Nothing had changed, she was intact and unharmed. Or so he thought, until he realized never would he ever be able to hear the voice of her forgiveness.
Alone, Wei Wuxian had paused at Shijie’s old room, unable to enter for quite some time. What Jiang Cheng said was all true, he had no doubt.
He still remembered when Wen Qing walked away with Wen Ning after restraining him with her acupuncture needles. Even in rags, her elegant appearance and inner beauty shone, but Wen Qing was not just beautiful, but a rare exception from Wen Sect. A savior of her Clan, but also the one who led them to their doom.
All because they wanted to repay a debt that was never called on. Wei Wuxian, who brought doom to anyone who tried to protect him, repeatedly built the karma for his sins. For a moment, he was paralyzed from guilt. Does he have the right to see her again? Asking for her help?
His hands shook, then placed themselves on the door handle. Taking a deep breath, he pulled it open, yet his heart still stopped.
The table was covered with medicinal plants and books as she rolled herbs in her hands. Wen Qing had never changed. Upon hearing her name, she turned to face the guest at her door. Wen Qing was the same, slightly older, but still years younger by Jiang Cheng’s appearance.
Wei Wuxian, she mouthed, yet, as expected, no sound came out. Tears swelled in her eyes, but a smile spread. The lady of Wen, the fire that once was, her look, the aura, even the red dress she wore.
Wei Wuxian rushed towards her, not wanting her to stand on his behalf. Wei Wuxian knelt in front of her, no different than when he was with Shijie, he grabbed her hands in his.
Tears stung his eyes, “Wen Qing. Wen Qing, it’s really you? I know Jiang Cheng wouldn’t lie to me, but I still couldn’t believe it. Wen Qing, I’m sorry I was too late. It was all my fault.”
Wen Qing soundlessly mouthed words, which seemed to say it wasn’t his fault.
“Yes, it was. If not for me, you wouldn’t lose your voice. You fell into Meng Yao's hands. He did this to you. I wasn't there...I...”
If it was not because of him, Jin Guangyao wouldn't have had the opportunity to take the Wen Siblings and keep them under his control. He didn’t kill them, but they were kept under his thumb to do as he pleased. Who knows what Wen Qing had to endure during her imprisonment. Tough as she is, she would probably never disclose the hardship of her life. She never did before, she wouldn’t even now.
Wen Qing shook her head, squeezing his hand harder.
Falling deeper to his own abyss, Wei Wuxian argued, “But it is my fault. Everyone, your Clan. They all died because of me. I promised to protect everyone, I didn't keep my word. Granny, uncle, everyone died because I thought I was powerful, but I wasn't. I'm--OW OW OW!!! That hurts! Stop! Lan Zhan!”
Wei Wuxian's cries of pain caused Lan Wangji to rush into the private room, but stopped in his tracks at the sight before him.
Jiang Cheng was not far behind and was also stunned.
Wen Qing, who never had much patience when it comes to Wei Wuxian’s antics or self-loathing seemed to return to her old ways. Three long shiny needles were embedded in his arm. Her method of shutting him up had never changed.
It’s not that the two Sect Leaders didn’t want to act, but both men have a deep respect for Wen Qing, and even if they tried to interfere, there was a higher chance Wei Wuxian would be in more agony since the needles were still in her hand.
“What did you do?” Jiang Cheng scowled at the man in pain, not knowing whether to cry or laugh at this point.
“How would I know? She likes stabbing me, it’s her joy in life,” Wei Wuxian grimaced, grinding his teeth.
His answer, however, caused Wen Qing to narrow her eyes in disapproval. She pressed the needles deeper.
“Ow, ow, ow! I’m sorry, I know why! I’m the idiot. Wen Qing please, take the needles out, I won’t argue with you again. Please…”
Wen Qing mouthed again, but this time it seemed like she said are you going to be obedient?
“Yes, I will be a good boy. Jiejie, goddess, Doctor Wen I will listen to whatever you say! Let me go,” Yiling Laozu, the most feared cultivator aside from HanGuang Jun, begged for his life. Wei Wuxian thanked his lucky stars none of the juniors were around to witness his humiliation.
Once the needles were retracted, Wei Wuxian was pulled up by Lan Wangji so fast, he almost fell into his arms. Lan Er Gongzi, ignoring the others' presence, unstrapped Wei Wuxian’s wrist collar and pulled away the sleeve. His anxious eyes searched for visible injuries, but there were none. Wen Qing’s specialty when it comes to hiding her attacks.
No trace left behind. Luckily for Wei Wuxian, she didn’t mean any harm.
“Lan Zhan, I’m okay,” Wei Wuxian assured, colored from embarrassment for calling out his name earlier, a habit he could never break. “Wen Qing and I play this game all the time. She never hurts me...much…,” Wei Wuxian smiled to ease the other man’s tension.
Lan Wangji glared back, displeased as he turned to face Wen Qing with a frown, who simply smiled back. Jiang Cheng hurried to Wen Qing's side with a protective posture, as though he was preparing to fight with HanGuang Jun if the latter wanted to take it out on Wen Qing.
Wei Wuxian, taking the cue from his brother, dragged Lan Wangji to sit on the opposite end. To diffuse the tension before a battle ensued, he quickly explained, “I should know by now not to argue with Wen Qing, she’s still as feisty as ever.”
“Why would you argue with someone who can’t speak?” Jiang Cheng asked, with a slight hint of anger in his tone.
“I was stupid,” Wei Wuxian agreed as he tied back the straps to his wrist collar. “I didn’t think she would return to her habit of stabbing me so soon after our tearful reunion.”
“Tearful?” Jiang Cheng laughed, unaware he was already hooked by Wei Wuxian’s tactic.
Wei Wuxian clarified, “Emotional.”
“You’re still a cry baby,” he countered.
“I am not.”
Jiang Cheng accused, “Your eyes are red!”
“Your eyes would be red too, if she stabbed you.”
“She never stabbed me,” Jiang Cheng proudly declared.
“Then you’re not as close as you think you are,” Wei Wuxian taunted. “She only stabs people she likes. You should work harder to be stabbed by her.”
“It’s true, I can give you some tips to receive Wen Qing’s loving needles,” Wei Wuxian offered.
“Shut up! You’re the last person I would get tips from. Even the children would agree with me.”
“May I remind you I won many hearts in my days,” Wei Wuxian said with a smug air.
“As I recall, you never succeeded,” Jiang Cheng scratched his chin at the thought. “ Unless you have someone right now?”
Jiang Cheng smirked. “Can’t answer?”
“What are you two doing?” Wei Wuxian quickly changed the topic.
His attention was now on Lan Wangji and Wen Qing who were communicating through writing and passing the same paper across from each other. He grabbed the slip they had been transferring back and forth during the siblings' battle of words.
Their words were easily recognized. Lan Wangji’s style was perfection to the extreme, with every word identically without fault. Meanwhile, Wen Qing’s style was quick and efficient like all healers of the cultivation world when it comes to their prescriptions.
Can you help Wei Ying revive his Golden Core?
It’s still experimental, but highly possible.
What do you need?
At least 500.
Alive or dead?
Alive, I need their core intact.
With dawning comprehension of the knowledge before him, Wei Wuxian blanched. Crumpling the paper in his hand, he firmly stated, “No, I won’t do it.”
To be continued....
Author's Note: It's time to hang out in Lotus Pier! To me, whenever a drama kills off characters offscreen, it only leaves opportunities for them to return. Also, I think Jiang Cheng deserves a second chance in love, so his brother and nephew could pursue their own relationships without the forever bachelor to interfere.