Updated: Aug 18, 2020
In the words of Wen Qing, Lady Doctor of Qishen Wen Sect, more accurately of Wen Clan:
Jin Guangyao had kept her alive because she had a purpose to serve. Given his upbringing, a weak core was inevitable compared to his peers. To keep her under his control, he threatened the life of her Wen Ning, her brother. All those years living under his surveillance, she tried hard not to succeed, all-the-while keeping the most crucial observations to herself.
But keeping such knowledge required a price. A time of unknown past, not long, her voice taken before he could ask.
Jin Guangyao sought cultivators to create his living corpses. Although dead, their core is still as powerful as it was while living, given their powers that could destroy a whole army However, those cores are tainted by resentment energy. Only a portion could be preserved, barely a seedling in most cases, or none at all. Once gathered, fusing the fragmented cores is highly possible, Wen Qing explained. The more intact the core, the fewer living corpses they have to secure.
Unfortunately, there are not many highly cultivated corpses among the living dead since Jin Guangyao and Xue Yang’s deaths. Quality over quantity, but oftentimes, the choices were poor. The quicker they captured the selected powerful living corpses, the sooner they could create a golden core for Wei Wuxian.
While HanGuang Jun was ecstatic by the news, Wei Wuxian, unlike his usual talkative self, had left earlier without further words. It did not take long for Lan Wangji to find his solemn rabbit with a bottle of wine in his hand, sitting above atop a tree branch overlooking the Lotus Pier from the half-moon light. It did not escape him that there were several wine jars, most likely empty, under the tree.The person below didn’t want to disturb, nor could he leave.
This moment, this time, their past and present had aligned.
Lan Wangji understood the ramifications of Wen Qing’s words, yet, he could not let go of the possibilities. Not because he couldn’t protect the one he held dear, but Wei Wuxian never wanted to be protected. Once a cultivator of the blade, the Master of Suibian, at present, was unable to fight with his sword. No different than being a cripple of the cultivation world.
Miraculously, Wei Ying held on. Being a villain of the past and a hero of the present, he disregarded the discontented, ignored attacks of degradation from the cruelest words. Persisted because he could not conform.
His choice, his actions, as unorthodox as they were,
However, he was never deterred.
With each step forward, continually, he moves,
Despite those weighted shackles of reprove.
This man acted free from constraints,
Through all the complaints.
Despite their persistence,
He made his choice to ignore their existence.
Free, he was not,
Still, he fought.
Wei Wuxian had chosen such a path—neither black nor white, for there was no line in sight. From darkness, Yiling Laozu emerged. Although misled, Yiling Laozu’s reputation preceded. The fire that drew countless moths, yet, too close, they would burn. Many did, and they never learned.
Who wouldn’t be jealous of such a man?
Indeed, not with Jiang Cheng’s superiority complex. Thus, why did he need to have Wei Wuxian’s core restored or the Sect Leader of Jiang could never move past his guilt, or had it been shame?
Nonetheless, without him, they wouldn’t have this chance, Lan Wangji irritably acknowledged.
Far fetched, but still possible for the day, Suibian and Bichen could clash again. A swordsman may have many battles, but only the worthwhile opponent’s memories remain.
“Lan Zhan, are you going to watch me all night?” Wei Wuxian asked from above, never taking his eyes away from the sky, he took another sip of wine.
The gaze of the man below never faltered, Lan Wangji questioned, “Will you be up there all night?”
“I asked you first,” Wei Wuxian chuckled slightly, as he adjusted the wine jar to his side.
“My answer was given,” Lan Wangji replied solemnly.
“Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian’s voice chirped suddenly. He turned to face the white figure from below, “Come up here.”
“Why?” Lan Wangji asked, knowing the answer but still playing along. The game had become a habit through the passage of time. Enabling himself to continue to pine.
“I want to show you something,” Wei Wuxian said with a half-smile. He patted the tree branch to his side.
Lan Wangji was elated, which caused his response to be delayed. This situation happened more than he would like to admit. Forever, questioning if the person above him was real. Did Wei Wuxian want him to come closer than where he presently was?
“Mmn,” Lan Wangji nodded, then quickly took flight. Lightly, his feet gracefully touched the branch by Wei Wuxian’s side, but...he was unsure what to do next. Standing was natural; sitting down was another matter. As Lan Er Gongzi of Gusu, he was accustomed to meditation and proper posture when sitting for all occasions. HanGuang Jun, Lan Wangji, the other Blue Jade, in fact, from his knowledge, both Jades of Gusu never had in their life tried sitting on a tree branch!
Lan Er Gongzi could only look down at Wei Wuxian with a blank expression. Instantly, his uneasiness was apparent to his other half, who couldn’t help but laugh at his predicament.
“Don’t worry. You won’t fall off. I’ll make space for you.” Wei Wuxian cheerfully pulled him down. Side by side, their bodies pressed, more because the other had dragged him close. With nowhere to go, Lan Wangji’s body involuntarily froze.
Not the first, not the last, a learned behavior from their past. He could only look ahead, away from the only person who ignites his fire. Thank goodness Wei Wuxian was too occupied with his childhood memories to take notice because he would chatter away whenever the atmosphere was silent.
“I can’t tell you the number of times I fell off this tree,” Wei Wuxian laughed as he reminisced. “Once, I even hit my head and passed out. You see there,” Wei Wuxian pointed to a large old log by the stump below. “Shijie found me at the bottom and nursed me back to health. I never learned my lesson, though. I still climbed whenever I had the chance, despite how much Auntie scolded me for climbing trees after each fall. And over the hillside there. There’s this watering hole, but to enjoy it, we have to jump into the hole itself! During the summer, when Jiang Cheng and I were kids, we would go there to cool off. Of course, Madame Yu would chastise us over the danger even when it was just myself at the watering hole. I guess I am a forever disappointment to her,” Wei Wuxian concluded with a laugh, but his pained expression was evident.
Tentatively listening, Lan Wangji realized -- Wei Ying, who never cares for others’ acceptance, the very Yiling Laozu who dismissed all authority of the cultivation world, whether they be true or false, to this day from the past comes the future -- only desired for one late person’s acknowledgment.
Madame Yu, the most feared woman of her time - not to all, but enough - even if it was just him. Wei Wuxian, to this day, still elevated her judgment above all others.
“You were not,” Lan Wangji refuted, thoughtfully.
The lost youth from the past, at present, asked. “What do you mean?”
“If Madame Yu did not care, would she have told you to stop?” He asked. From what Lan Wangji had heard of the legendary Madame Yu, Lady of Lotus Pier, she was a fierce mother. A protective Tiger mom, known across the cultivation world, for her lack of charm.
The message was clear. It only took the recipient a moment to reflect on what he already knew.
“You’re right,” Wei Wuxian admitted, “Given my clumsiness, Auntie must have cared for me somewhat. If she didn’t, she would have let me be. Because if she...”
The words broke, as well as the man who couldn’t finish the last strokes. Wei Wuxian’s fist tightened over the wine bottle. Cold, the knuckles turned white. Not quite habitually because it did not happen as often as he would like, Lan Wangji placed his hand over Wei Wuxian’s shaking fist. The gesture was enough for the other to continue words of which he would not have otherwise dared to utter.
“Because...,” Wei Wuxian paused, his unfocused eyes reflecting the forgotten past, “Because...she didn’t want me to lose my arm from that vile Wen’s whore. She...She gave her own life to spare mine. If only I had listened. A reckless being...If I wasn’t who I was…”
“There’s nothing wrong with who you are,” stated Lan Wangji, but he knew his words would not be accepted.
Wei Wuxian shook his head and tipped the bottle for another mouthful of the wine, but there was none left. He let the bottle slip from his hand. Falling, crashing on the other bottle as it landed. The sound must have woken the wayward rabbit somewhat because he hurriedly explained, “I should’ve packed some Emperor’s Smile, everything tastes like fresh lotus rainwater here.”
Ignoring Wei Ying’s attempt to change the subject, only half unaware of his drunken state still, Lan Wangji pointedly reminded, “Wei Ying, Wen Qing had explained to me the method to restore--”
“I get it,” Wei Wuxian cut him off. “This is no different than night hunting. We kill those things every chance we get to keep villagers safe,” Wei Wuxian acknowledged. “Technically speaking, they’re already dead. Those corpses would not feel a thing. Living in their hell, which they could never escape from. A-Qing was the same way. Even in death, she kept on discouraging others from entering Yi City. Still, they are not mine to take. What Wen Qing wants to do is to tear out what is essentially another’s flesh. Tell me, Lan Zhan, how would that make me different from Wen Ruohan, Jin Guangyao, and Xue Yang?”
“Unlike them, you are ending that which should not exist,” Lan Wangji answered logically.
“The existence of my own creation?” he asked, but more of a statement of fact. “I created the strongest corpses, raised them from the dead. Used them as my weapons. Those times I did not think because we-”
“Even more appropriate for them to end by your hands.”
“My hands…,” Wei Wuxian looked down at his hand, with the palm facing up. Squinting his eyes, he attempted to focus, but the alcohol clouded his senses, the more time passed. Before he could make a fist again, Lan Wangji placed his right hand over Wei Ying’s. Holding on, the pressure light at first, but more determined to keep Wei Ying’s hand in his when the other tried to pull away. “Lan Zhan?” Wei Wuxian flushed, but he didn’t push him away. Instead, he was leaning closer.
Lan Wangji had been patient because he didn’t want to scare Wei Ying away. Through past and present, he waited. Taking his cue from the gesture, Lan Wangji slid his left arm around Wei Ying’s waist, while the other still held the other hand in place. Allowing the sleepy rabbit, who was still buzzed from the booze he partook in, to rest his head on Lan Wangji’s shoulder.
A hint of a smile lifted one corner of his mouth. Gently Lan Er Gongzi whispered, “Sleep.”
His rabbit heard and listened to the same voice that always soothed him so.
Wei Wuxian slept. On the tree, securely, and comfortably in Lan Wangji’s arms.
Unbeknownst to the pair of rabbits above...someone, more precisely, a few someones, were watching from below. Not near enough to hear their conversation, but close enough to see the man in white had pressed the man in black closer to himself.
Throughout the Purple Lotus’s childhood, Jiang Cheng had always been an early morning riser. All due to a certain person who, if left alone, would wake up past noon, or occasionally, the following evening if he drank the night before. As a kid, Jiang Cheng had had to share a room with his adopted brother who could sleep through a fire if there was one. Not metaphorically either as he'd come to know thanks to an ill-fated attempt to test the theory when he had run out of ideas due to excessive alcohol consumption by none other than Wei Gongzi, partaking in too much booze after the Lunar Festivity.
In Jiang Cheng’s defense, he had tried all the tricks in the book to wake up Wei Wuxian, but none had come to fruition. Knowing his mother, who would not take their absence lightly if they did not show up for early morning prayers to the ancestors, the young Jiang Cheng decided to take drastic measures.
Since water did not work, fire seemed to be the only option left!
At the time, the young Leader of Jiang Sect thought so and went to the kitchen to pull a half-burnt stick from the stove. Carrying the flame back to their quarters, he tried to get Wei Wuxian’s attention with the heat and smoke, all the while praying he would choke. He waited and waited. He did, but nothing!
The flame did nothing!
In an emotional gush, the Young Sect Leader at the time was in a rush. Jiang Cheng dropped all his sanity, including the burning torch in his hand. Unaware as he kept shaking and calling Wei Wuxian’s name. It did not take long for the fire to break. It was after the summer solstice when the hot air made everything more flammable. Even then, what shocked the young Jiang Cheng was Wei Wuxian’s ability to sleep through the catastrophe!
Slapped, dragged, and deposited like a sack of rice on the ground as others had come to put out the fire, astonishingly, Wei Gongzi continued to sleep…
Not the fire, not the pain, nor it was shouting of his brother’s vein.
Surprisingly, what did woke the youth who slept like the dead was the voice of none other than Madame Yu, Lady of Lotus Pier, the only woman Wei Wuxian feared. Jiang Cheng’s mother was furious, but that was probably an understatement. The fire burned a considerable section of the garden and both youths were tasked with rebuilding their quarters by his father, which was when they finally decided it was time to have separate rooms. Wei Wuxian’s room was a bit further from the family’s quarters since then.
When Wei Wuxian left to protect the Wen clan, Jiejie kept it spotless as she prayed for his return. But after the events of Nightless City, Jiang Cheng had destroyed the room and had sealed it off. Only recently did he retu