Title: Life’s Final Star is Brotherhood
Fandom: The Untamed/Mo Dao Zu Shi
Genre: Action Adventure, Drama, Family, Hurt/Comfort, Pre-Relationship, Slash
Relationship(s): Lan Zhan/Wei Ying, other pairings
Content Rating: NC-17
Warnings: Hate Crimes/Hate Speech, Major Character Death, Slavery, Torture, Violence – Graphic, Violence – Domestic and/or Against Children, Dark Themes, Abuse Domestic, Adultery, Death Minor Character, Discussion – Domestic Violence, Discussion – Murder, Discussion – Rape, Discussion Sexual Abuse, Discussion Torture, Disturbing Imagery, Violence Canon Level, Rape Off Screen, Murder, Miscarriage, Child Death (newborn)
Word Count: 122,600
Summary: Going to Cloud Recesses for the Lectures was going to be boring for Wei Ying. Instead, he finds a deep and lasting friendship with Meng Yao and Nie Huaisang. Their ideals and their minds could easily change the course of the Cultivation World will take in the coming years.
Wen Chao looked at the entrance of Lotus Pier. There were guards at the gate at first, but they didn’t stay around as soon as they saw them. Instead, they scurried away. There was a sound ringing out before he had already crossed the entranceway. He looked at Wang Mingxia who had accompanied him. The youngest sister of his current concubine. “Looks like they are already running scared of us,” he smirked as he walked inside Lotus Pier. He could already see the Jiang Disciples quickly lining up near Jiang Fengmian and his family.
“Well, looks like the entire Clan and Sect is out to greet us,” he grinned as he stared at them all.
“What do you want?” Jiang Fengmian asked him, eyes narrowed at how rude the young man was being. But then again, this was basically an act of war.
“I want the head of your son on a pike and Wei Wuxian in my custody and maybe, I’ll let you live,” he sneered.
“You know that will not be happening,” Jiang Fengmian snorted, shaking his head.
“I was hoping you would say that,” Wen Chao laughed darkly, “Then again, we really had no intention of leaving any single Jiang alive. My father wants to make sure that the world knows that you have committed a grievous act against the Wen Sect. Your Heir killed the Wen Sect Heir and you’ll pay for it with your lives.” With that, the Wen’s that had been following him began to run. Not even a split second later a volley of arrows thudded into their bodies, sending nearly the entire first wave of Wen disciples to the ground dead or dying.
“We’re not the type to lay down and die,” Jiang Fengmian said, giving his son a nod, “A-Cheng, I do believe we have some unpleasant guests to get rid of,” he said, giving him a proud look.
Jiang Cheng nodded and with that, the two of them flew into battle. The two worked well with each other, their styles matching up to each other in a way that made it easy for the two of them to move in tandem. Taking down the Wens as they dared to approach the two. Wei Ying grinned at his little brother and uncle as they fought. Before concentrating on his own fight, Lan Zhan once again fought beside him. They moved quickly and easily through the rank and file of the Wen Sect. They were a lot easier to fight and take down than the Wens that had been at Cloud Recesses.
“Wen Chao!” Wei Ying called out, eyes flashing with mischief as he added, “Didn’t know your dad hated you so much that he actually sent you out here to die!”
“My father would never do such a thing!” Wen Chao yelled out, moving closer to where Wei Ying was fighting. He didn’t understand the obsession his father had with the man and he wanted him dead.
“Well, these Wens around here are so much easier to kill than the ones that attacked Cloud Recesses. So, they must be the weakest ones in the Wen Sect. Looks like he sent you here to die! Then again,” he snorted, “If I was him, I would do the same things. You’re nothing but a weasel, worth nothing more than the mud under our boots,” he goaded him, smirking as he could see that it was working.
Wen Chao growled and spat as he rushed towards the man. “How dare you! My father loves me and knows that I will be able to do this. That Lotus Pier won’t be left standing when I’m done!” he yelled out.
Wei Ying snorted, “I doubt it. Who could love an asshole like you!” he yelled out as their swords clashed. Wei Ying smirked. Wen Chao had finally lost it. There was none of the skills that a cultivator would have when fighting. The man was just attacking, just wanting to kill Wei Ying and he knew that this type of berserker mode meant that he was now more open to the attacks from Wei Ying and others around them.
Wei Ying moved quickly and began his attack as Lan Zhan moved around him. Making sure to keep any Wen away from him as he fought against Wen Chao.
Wang Mingxia walked quickly through Lotus Pier. She had been given a task by her sister to make sure that Jiang Yanli was killed. She may have rumours around her of being plain. But Wen Chao was known for liking women a little too much to care. Wang Mingxia had been told to make sure that Jiang Yanli was dead so Wen Chap wouldn’t try looking for her. He had made a few noises about taking her into his harem and Wang Lingjiao wasn’t going to stand for that. Especially when all those within it were Wang Lingjiao’s people. With a smirk, she glanced at the two Wen disciples she had taken with her. She wasn’t much of a fighter after, she would need a little help in carrying out her mission.
“And here we are,” she smirked as she saw the Young Lady of the Jiang Sect as she ushered a couple of baby disciples away from the fighting. Though they protested at being told to keep out of things by the young woman.
Jiang Yanli heard the voice from behind her and quickly turned. Her hands went into her wide sleeves as she grabbed the two daggers that she hid there. “Who are you?” she asked them, as she took in the two Wen Disciples and wondered how they had gotten into the inner areas of Lotus Pier. Most of the places should have been protected.
“Who I am is of no concern of yours. But what I’m going to do to you might just be,” she smirked, “Kill them all and bring her to me. I want the pleasure of ending her life myself,” she ordered.
The two Wen nod and smirk as they headed towards them, pulling out their swords. Jiang Yanli’s eyes went wide for a moment before she pushed the three baby disciples behind her properly and pulled out her daggers. She ducked under one sword, not sparing the man a glance as she slashed out with her dagger, putting enough strength into the thrust to bury it in between a couple of ribs. The man gave a startled gasp as she pulled it back out and he fell to the wooden walkway. She ignored the man and started to fight against the other. The remaining one was now more cautious. Doing his best to keep away as the woman that had come with them, berated him for not taking Jiang Yanli out.
“I am my mother’s daughter,” she said placidly as she moved a little quicker, just as the two maids had taught her. She was finally able to slice at the man’s throat, causing a well of blood to flow from it and spray across as he too crumpled to the ground dead. Jiang Yanli turned to Wang Mingxia and had to dodge as a whip came close to hitting her. “Seriously, using a whip against someone in the Jiang Sect,” she snorted elegantly as she was easily able to dodge around it. Jiang Yanli was moving closer and closer to the woman.
“Stay fucking still so I can kill you!” she demanded petulantly as she twisted her whip, hoping to catch the woman at least once. That was all she needed to be able to take her down.
Jiang Yanli couldn’t help but snort in laughter as she moved around it easily, “Really, any Jiang Disciple has been dodging whips since they first arrived with my mother in charge of most of the training,” she said as she finally moved closer enough to stab at the woman in the side. The whip dropped to the ground. As Jiang Yanli moved quickly and ruthlessly as she sliced the woman’s throat, “No one hurts our babies,” she muttered darkly.
“Lady Jiang!” one of the little disciples said, his purple robes flying about him as he rushed over to her. His face sodden with tears as he latched onto her.
“You should have remained over there,” she admonished the five-year-old gently, “What if they weren’t actually dead,” she told them, “You never turn your back on an enemy, even a fallen one,” she reminded them all as the other two quickly rushed over. She held them all as they cried. This was the first time that they were facing something like this and she knew how hard it could be. Her father had made sure she knew what it was like to take someone’s life, just in case. Though her mother had tried her best to make sure that she would never know. Her father had done it in secret when she was seventeen. She knew that Jiang Cheng would have gone through the same had things not happened as they were.
“What… what should we do,” the little six-year-old asked as he looked up at the kind woman that always cared for the youngest of the disciples. She was the daughter of the Sect Leader, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t one of them.
Jiang Yanli looked down at him, “We need to get everyone to safety so that the other can carry on fighting without having to worry about if we are safe,” she told him, patting his head as she began to usher them away once more. She sighed heavily and shuddered. This was only the second time she’d had to kill a person, and while she wasn’t much of a fighter, her father and her mother’s maids had made sure to keep her training up. She was not as weak and meek as her mother believed her to be.
Wei Ying dodged another formless swing of Wen Chao’s sword and moved in that little bit closer. He was having a bit of a time trying to find the right opening to kill the man that he was fighting. But with that last wild swing of his sword, Wei Ying was finally in the right spot to do so. With one quick movement, Wei Ying was on one knee, swirling around he ran Wen Chao through his chest with Subian.
Wen Chao’s eyes went wide at the sudden pain. His sword fell from quickly numbing fingers as Subian was pulled from his body and Wei Ying moved away. His eyes began to glaze over as death took him and he fell to the ground.
Wei Ying nodded at Lan Zhan as they then moved on, killing a few more Wens before the cry went up that their leader was now dead. Some carried on fighting, just like those at Cloud Recesses had done, but a few fled. Jiang Fengmian gave an order and a few disciples went after them. it wasn’t often that the people would see the more merciless side of Jiang Fengmian. But they often forget that at his core he was and is a hunter. And the Wen were now his prey. He will make sure that his home would be safe, no matter the cost.
When the last of the Wen fell under a Jiang Blade a cheer rose as Jiang Fengmian greeted the small group that had hunted down the Wens that had turned tail and ran. With a nod to them, he looked around. Jiang Fengmian closed his eyes for a few moments as people began to gather, “We have lost some of our brothers and sisters today, but their fight was not in vain. We have won and we have saved our home and our people. We will honour them in the traditions of the Jiang Sect in the coming days.”
“We have lost many,” Jiang Cheng said as he looked at everyone, “But we have not lost our heart, it beats within each of us,” he added, clenching a hand over his chest. Bowing to the disciples along with his father, in thanks to their skill and efforts in saving their home and Sect from invasion.
The Jiang Sect disciples nodded and bowed as well. Wei Ying doing the same as Lan Zhan and the other visiting disciples watched and were startled as the Jiang Bells began to ring together. The bells belonging to the fallen Jiang’s rang out once each before shattering. Their owners now heading for the reincarnation cycle. The sombre mood carried on for a few more moments before Jiang Cheng, with a nod from his father, sent up the flare to tell those that were hiding away from Lotus Pier that it was now safe for them to return. Others began the task of piling up the bodies of the Wen disciples to be burned. Those of the Jiang Sect were taken to a room that had been prepared for those that lost their lives. Those of the Lan and Nie that had lost their lives being taken with them. Jiang Yanli soon joined them, the small Shidi and Shimei trailing behind her, wide-eyed and still scared as the older disciples comforted them.
Jiang Yanli knelt down as one of their youngest rushed over to her and held her tightly, “I… I…” he sobbed into her neck, “You…”
“It’s alright now, we’re safe,” she reassured him gently, pulling him into her arms and rubbing his back in comfort.
“Is he okay?” Jiang Fengmian asked her as he walked over and knelt. The bodies were still being cleaned up. Though all the Jiang Disciples and the Nie and Lan had been taken care of first.
“Lady Jiang had to fight to protect us from the horrible women and the two Wens,” one of the disciples that she had protected answered him as he looked up, slightly scared of the Sect Leader, “She was so brave and awesome, Sect Leader,” he added, bowing to him, “I’m sorry that I wasn’t strong enough to help her.”
“You what?” Madam Yi demanded to know as she heard the tail end of the conversation. She stormed over and glared down at her daughter in disappointment.
“She had to kill the lady and the two men that were going to kill us,” one of the young disciples answered her. A frown on her face as she looked at madam Yu, who was glaring at her own daughter.
“A-Li, you know you shouldn’t have done such a thing!” she yelled at her daughter, shaking her head, “You were supposed to be safe. You should have left while you had the chance. We could have even sent you away to Meishan until all this stupid business was over with,” she told her, taking a step towards Jiang Yanli.
The young woman stood up and looked at her mother, “Mother,” she began, her voice came as demure as always, but there was a hidden steel within it as she carried on, “I did my duty as a member of this Sect. Or have you forgotten that I’m a cultivator as well as a woman?” she demanded to know what her mother truly thought of her.
“You are weak. Your cultivation will never be as strong as your brother, or as anyone else’s,” Madam Yu pointed out to her, “Your job is to marry and help us create an alliance with another Sect-”
“My job and my duty is to my Sect until such a time as I am to marry,” Jiang Yanli told her, “My home is here, it will always be here even when I marry Lan Xichen. Nothing about that will change. He understands that,” she shook her head, “I am who I am. I know I’m not as strong as A-Cheng or A-Xian, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t know how to protect myself and those around me with the little skills that I do possess,” she added, sighing heavily.
“My Lady,” Jiang Fengmian said, calling her attention away from their daughter, “A-Li did the right thing, she did as she has been trained to do,” he pointed out. His voice was tight as he didn’t like that his wife only thought of their daughter as someone to be married out to create an alliance with another Sect and family.
“She is to be presented as a gentle flower. Not… not…” Madam Yu began.
“She is your daughter. Do you really think that either of our children should be meek, or should let others fight their battles? Both A-Li and A-Cheng are so strong. They are my pride and my joy in this sect. They are two outstanding people that I am proud to say are my children and are the children of the woman I love,” he told her, shaking his head and frowning at her.
“Like you really care. All you care about is that bastard Wei Wuxian. You always look at him, you always coddle him. Never thinking about A-Cheng and A-Li. That… that wretched woman, that was all that was ever on your mind. I know you loved her and not me. You never even wished to look at me!” she yelled at him, causing all those that were around him to stare at the couple.
Jiang Fengmian sighed and shook his head, looking at the woman with sad eyes, “How many more times do I have to tell you that I have never loved her!” he yelled back, finally having enough of the accusations that had dogged each and every single one of his steps from the moment he had brought Wei Ying back to Lotus Pier, to the home of his ancestors.
“Then why would you want her child here! If not that you loved her,” she countered, eyes alight with anger as Zidian crackled on her hand.
Jiang Fengmian sighed, “Wei Changze is the reason why I brought Wei Wuxian home. The Weis have been part of Lotus Pier as long as a Jiang has. He is my nephew, the son of my sworn brother. The son of the man that has helped me more than anyone else when my parents died when I was young. I took over the Sect at the age of fifteen, younger than A-Cheng is now. Ze-ge helped me, guided me. When I fell in love with a fiery woman by the name of Yu Ziyuan, he was the one that helped me with my courtship. The one that took the place of my parents. He was older than me by four years, an adult and someone I knew I could trust with my life and my Sect. He was my brother in all but blood. That was why I searched for Wei Wuxian, he is family to me. I have told you this over and over again.”
“Wei Changze was nothing but a servant,” Madam Yu sneered.
Jiang Fengmian froze, “I really would love to find out whoever it was that started that blasted rumour and kill them,” he growled as he glared at the women, “No, he was never a servant. He was a cultivator. A disciple of the Jiang Sect from the age of four. He was also the head disciple,” he told her.
“Rubbish!” she snapped back.
“Check the records, you will find that there had been a Wei as part of the Jiang Sect since its founding,” he told her, “Go and check!” he ordered. “And before you start going on about how A-Cheng was to be head disciples, no Jiang is the head disciple. It is always a Wei. Trained to be the right hand of the next Jiang Sect Leader. Ze-ge was that for me, as his father was for mine.”
“Bah,” she glared at him and then turned to Jiang Cheng, “And why weren’t you there to protect your sister. You know that she shouldn’t have been fighting! You’re useless!” she yelled at her son.
“That is enough!” Jiang Fengmian growled, his voice going cold and hard as he moved around the woman and blocked her from looking at any of his children, and he counted Wei Ying in that as well.
“Out of my way, someone needs to teach them what they should be d-” she began only to stop when she felt Zidian growing cold on her hand, “What?” she blinked, staring down at it as it began to untwist from around her hand.
Jiang Fengmian sighed as he held out his hand and the spiritual weapon moved from Yu Ziyuan’s hand and to hover over his. Responding to the feelings of the Sect Leader, “Do you know what this weapon signifies?” he asked her, holding it out, but not letting her get near it as she reached for it.
“A weapon that we use,” she said, shaking her head and growling, “Now why have you taken it from me?” she demanded to know.
“Zidian is not the usual type of spiritual weapon that you believe it to be. It’s rather special. It links with the feelings of the Sect Leader. On our wedding day, I gave you Zidian, telling you that my love will be with you always. That is because when it’s given to our spouse, it shows them that we trust them, honour them and love and cherish them. The moment it leaves a spouse’s hand is when we stop trusting them, loving them. You’ve lost me at this moment in time. If you gain it back, Zidian will once more adorn your hands,” Jiang Fengmian explained to her sadly, “But for some reason, I don’t think that will be happening with the vitriol that you keep spewing about our children.”
“No,” he shook his head, eyes full of pain, “I don’t want to hear it. You’re against A-Li marrying someone for love. You’re even against her being trained properly as a cultivator. Her cultivation may be weaker than most, but that doesn’t stop her from training to make it a little bit stronger. That would be up to A-Li, as she is a woman that can decide her own fate, her own husband. No matter what you wish for,” he told her, putting Zidian away, “As for A-Cheng, he’s smarter than you have ever given him credit for. His battle plans were what we used today. His plans to keep the townspeople and the young and elderly of our Sect safe. He is a strong cultivator that you haven’t even seen because you’re too busy trying to compare him to Wei Wuxian. They are two different people, they both have their strengths and weaknesses.”
Madam Yu glared at him, noticing that others were doing the same back to her. She was losing the respect of those around her, she could tell. Without another word she stormed away, leaving them to do what they needed to.
Jiang Fengmian looked at his children, “I’m sorry, I should have done that a long time ago,” he murmured as he looked from Jiang Yanli to Jiang Cheng.
“But you love her still,” Jiang Yanli said softly as she looked at her father.
“I do, but she has lost the most important thing. And that is my trust in her,” he sighed as he glanced at his daughter, “Do not take her words to heart. She doesn’t understand who you truly are,” he told her as he pulled her into a gentle hug.
“I know father,” she sighed as she leaned against him for a moment as the disciples around them began to get back to work, “Now,” she said as she pulled away, a soft smile on her face.
“We should send out messages to the other Sects, try and rally them all together and see what we can do about the Wen’s. This is now the second Major Sect that they have attacked,” Jiang Fengmian said, his voice heavy as he realised that small Sects had been disappearing over the last few years. “I’ll send out messages to the other Leader. That we should call a meeting,” he told his children and Lan Zhan walked over to join Wei Ying.
“Father will come,” Lan Zhan told him.
“I know he will,” Jiang Fengmian nodded in agreement.
Nie Huaisang walked over to them, he had gone with a few other disciples to protect the town’s people that had been sent out of Lotus Pier. His brother now walking beside him, “Sect Leader Jiang, the civilians are all starting to return,” he said as he greeted the man.
“Thank you for your help Young Master Nie,” Jiang Fengmian smiled at him, “I’m glad to see you’re safe,” he added softly.
“Thank you. The town’s people are beginning to return to the town now. I did have a walk through it as well, there was a little damage here and there. I think a few of them might need a bit of help to clean it all up. But no major damage has been done to Lotus Pier,” Nie Huaisang told him.
“Thank you,” Jiang Fengmian nodded as he glanced over at a passing disciple, “can you gather some of the disciples and see if they would be fine in helping the town’s folk in getting the town righted once more. We don’t want to leave it in a state,” he said, a little smile appearing on his face.
“Yes, Sect Leader,” he bowed and then hurried to carry out the order.
“What’s the plan now?” Nie Mingjue asked the Jiang Sect Leader.
“I believe that we should call a conference between the Four Major Sect and some of the Minor ones. A way to discuss the course of action that is needed to stand up to what the Wen’s are now doing,” Jiang Fengmian answered him easily. He and the others began to head inside, “I’ll make a start on the letters to go out with our messengers,” he murmured.
“Why don’t we use my talisman messengers instead Uncle Jiang?” Wei Ying suggested as he stepped up, “It would get the messages to the other Sect Leader’s a lot faster and we might be able to get more of a head start on things,” he added, glancing over at his uncle.
“Good idea, it would make it easier for them to be informed,” he smiled at his adoptive son.
“But do we hold it here or somewhere else?” Jiang Cheng asked him.
“Do you have any ideas?” Jiang Fengmian asked his son, knowing that he and Nie Huaisang were behind some of the plans, though Jiang Cheng was behind a number of them on his own.
Jiang Cheng was silent for a moment as he thought, “Well,” he began, looking unsure as he glanced up at his father, “I think that it might be a good idea for us to travel to the Nie Sect Fortress,” he stated. Turning to Nie Mingjue, “I don’t mean to be rude,” he said, “But your home is nearest to the Wen Sect’s Nightless City. It’s also built as a stronghold. And while the Wen Sect have already attacked Cloud Recesses and Lotus Pier, they have taken heavy losses in both. They won’t be coming back. They will be shoring themselves up for a while before they will try and attack the strongest. and that would be the Nie Sect,” he surmised as he turned to his father once more.
“You make a lot of sense and a good point,” Nie Mingjue agreed, “Without either of his sons, Wen Ruohan has no one that he would trust with taking on the task of attacking another Sect. He’s been weakened thanks to what we’ve done so far. He will be fortifying himself before trying again,” he added, nodding along with what Jiang Cheng had said.
“Exactly what I’m thinking. He sent his sons because they would have been the only ones that he would have trusted with such important tasks. So, we go to Qinghe, meet there, and from there we could be ready to march that much sooner, rather than later,” Jiang Cheng said, almost glowing when he saw that his father was looking at him proudly.
“You are right, A-Cheng,” Jiang Fengmian nodded, “We’ll send the messages out to meet there and get ready to leave ourselves within a day after making sure that the Sect will be secured without us,” he smiled.
Those gathered and nodded, quickly leaving to get started on any tasks that needed to be done before they would be leaving for Qinghe.
Jiang Fengmian and his sons were seated at a large table in the middle of one of the main conference rooms in Qinghe. The meeting was finally getting started. Lan Xichen and his father had been able to gather some of the smaller Sects to join them. Nie Huaisang was seated beside his brother, though there was a gap on the other side of the Nie Sect Leader and Jiang Fengmian knew that was where Meng Yao would have sat if he were with them. He had been told what was going on with the young man and what he was doing. Though he was reminded not to speak a word of it to anyone else. As they weren’t going to tell another. Wen Qionglin was also sat near the Lans. Though the young man was getting a number of hostile looks from the other leaders. Since he was a Wen.
“May I ask, if this is about the Wen problem, then why is there a Wen sitting with us?” Jin Guangshan asked as he looked around the table, getting a number of nods in agreement.
“Wen Qionglin is here at our request,” Lan Zhiqiang answered him, looking at the man, “He is the current Leader of the Dafan Wen, who are volunteering as our healers since they train some of the best. They will be around to help us,” he added, giving the young teenager a nod. He was only fifteen, almost three years younger than his own youngest son.
“I see,” Jin Guangshan nodded, “Why are we here? You mentioned that this was about the Wen Sect, but what in particular about them?” he then asked those that were gathered around the table.
“So far, the Wen Sect has sent forces to both Lotus Pier and to Cloud Recesses, attacking them,” Jiang Fengmian began, “We’ve been able to repel the forces so far, but…” he trailed off, waiting for everyone to quiet down as they all started to talk over each other, “He has now lost both of his sons. It will soon be him coming out and fighting. And while we may have the advantage at the moment because of that, we don’t know how long that would be before he gets himself together to attack once more.”
“I for one, don’t wish to bring the Wen Sect down on my own head. So, I believe that we should just keep well away,” Jin Guangshan said, shaking his head.
“Then maybe you should get up and leave the room to the men,” Jiang Fengmian told him bluntly, “Jin Guangshan, you’ve always been a coward as far as I’m concerned. Only wanting one thing and that’s to deal with the snake in your pants,” he rolled his eyes at the man, “So if you’re not going to help us, then get lost. We don’t need dead weight,” he told him.
“How dare you say such things to such a distinguished Sect Leader!” Sect Leader Qin said, outraged at the blatant disrespect that was being shown towards his friend.
Jiang Fengmian looked at him, “Right here and now. Anyone that does not wish to take part in this campaign against the Wen Sect, so now!” he demanded standing up and looking at the people gathered in the room. “I don’t care if you only have the one disciple that you can send to help us, that person will be very much appreciated. Even if that person is a servant that can help behind the scenes, that would be just as helpful! The Lan Sect, Nie Sect and the Jiang Sect have all lost someone to the Wen Sect. But the Wen Sect has also lost people. At the moment we have the upper hand, we have a chance to strike at them before they are ready, so what say you? Are you with me or against me!” he said, rallying them together as best as he could.
Jin Guangshan was still speechless as he watched as some of those gathered agreed with Jiang Fengmian and decided that they would do their best to fight. That they wouldn’t take their Sect’s being taken over by the Wen Clan. The expansion of the Wen Clan had only started five years ago. With them gaining Wen Zhuliu into their fold. He was a fierce cultivator, his power and ability on par with the Sect Leaders of the world. With an ability that scared everyone, as no one wanted to lose their Golden Core. It was something that no cultivator wanted. A few sided with Jin Guangshan and wanted nothing to do with the fighting.
“Those that don’t wish to help, I ask that you leave this room,” Jiang Fengmian said, gesturing to the door with a sweep of his arm, “No one that isn’t going to help will remain in here. I don’t want you here as your opinions and input will not be needed since you’re not going to be involved,” he added as some of them willingly got up and left the room.
“I will not leave thi-” Jin Guangshan began only for his lips to seal shut.
“Hey! It worked!” Wei Ying crowed from where he was sitting beside Jiang Cheng, “I told you I would figure it out,” he grinned smugly as he looked at his brother, who just rolled his eyes at the older teenager.
“Thank you, A-Ying,” Jiang Fengmian said, trying his best not to laugh. Though Nie Mingjue didn’t care about that and was giving out loud echoing laughs as he looked at the man. Jiang Fengmian turned his attention back to the silenced man and said, “Jin Guangshan, you will leave this room or I will make you,” he threatened, “That is up to you,” he added.
Jin Guangshan glared at them all, trying to fight the spell so he could speak his mind at their actions against him.
“It would be best if you let the spell run its course Sect Leader Jin,” Lan Zhiqiang told him, a little smirk playing on his lips, “Fighting it can harm you after all,” he added, warning him of the effects.
Jin Guangshan sent them all a glare one last time before he got up and flounced from the room. The rest of the meeting started again as they began to make plans on what they should do next. The talking only stopped when a light appeared in the room. A small hawk took shape and headed straight to Wei Ying. He held out his hand and let it land there. It flapped its wings and the little sabre moved on Wei Ying’s hand as he listened to the message that was playing in his mind.
“Okay,” he said as it disappeared in a shower of sparks, “That was one of our spies in the Wen Sect,” he added for those that were watching curiously, “We’ve gotten word from the two of them that there are Wens that are wanting to help us. They aren’t happy with the way that the Wen Sect is being led at the moment. They know that without outside help they wouldn’t be able to stage a coup. But they are wanting to help us, they have asked us to have something prepared that will change their robes to show the rest of you that they are on our side. As soon as any fighting starts, they have pledged to fight for us,” he adds, looking at Jiang Fengmian, “It shouldn’t take me that long to figure something out. If they have a dye within a talisman, we can change the colouring of the robes enough to show up quickly.”
“Then get to work on it and send them over,” Jiang Fengmian agreed with him, nodding at the idea.
“Sang-ge,” Wei Ying murmured as he began pulling ink and paper towards him.
“What do you need?” Nie Huaisang asked as he got up and went over to his youngest brother.
“Dye, something that could be contained into a talisman. Maybe even into the ink maybe,” he questioned as he glanced up at him.
“Hm,” he nodded, “One of two of the paints I use are also used as dyes,” he murmured, “Maybe they could work? They would be able to be held into the talisman itself,” he puzzled over it as Wei Ying got up and walked from the room, ignoring the looks that he was being given.
Nie Huaisang laughed, “Please ignore him. When he has an idea in his head,” he began.
“He tends to think of nothing else until it’s finished,” Jiang Cheng was the one to finish for him, giving the Sect Leader that was gathered a quick bow.
“I’ll go after him,” Nie Huaisang said as he looked at Jiang Cheng, “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure he actually finds what he needs and not just wanders aimlessly around,” he grinned as he then rushed out of the room and after his sworn brother.
Jiang Cheng shook his head at him, rolling his eyes as he returned to his seat next to his father, “Sorry,” he apologised once more to them all.
“It’s fine,” Nie Mingjue said, waving his hand, “If that boy can figure something out then all the better for us,” he added, “He made those messengers that we have all been using as well. Sharing them around without asking for anything.”
“That’s very true,” Lan Zhiqiang nodded, “Right, shall we get back to our plans?” he asked, “Though with the added Wens we should have an even better chance of ending this sooner rather than later,” he pointed out to them all as they leaned forwards and plans were made and broken over the next few hours.
Wei Ying glanced up at Nie Huaisang, “Do you really think we can make this work?” he asked him, sounding unsure and very much unlike the young man that he presented to most of the world.
Nie Huaisang nodded, smiling, “I do, A-Ying,” he smiled gently as he patted him on the head, “They have plans in place and we’re doing what we can for those that don’t want to follow Wen Ruohan. We’re helping Wen Qing and Wen Qionglin as well,” he reminded him.
“I know, but sometimes when I think of everything that’s been happening it feels like it all should have taken place over a few months instead of the three, almost four weeks that it has been,” he sighed, closing his eyes a little and resting his head on the table. Mindful of the work that he had been doing, not wanting to smudge any of the ink that was drying.
“I know. It does feel like a lot has happened,” Nie Huaisang sighed heavily, he was feeling that weight on him as well, “But,” he began looking at him, “We’re doing the only things that we can do. Wen Qing is going to be doing her best to take over the Wen Sect. She knows what needs to be done. Wen Ruohan will be dealt with and then the negotiations between those of us that are agreeing to this can finally start doing what we’re good at,” he explained a little of what they would be doing should things go well.
Wei Ying nodded as the door to the study room opened and Lan Zhan walked in with a tray, “Lan Zhan,” he greeted him with a large smile blossoming on his face as he saw his betrothed.
“Brought you both some food,” he said as he brought the tray over and with care, he placed it down, “It is going well?” he asked as he waited for Wei Ying to take one of the large bowls and one of the smaller ones. He knew he should not ask until they had eaten, but he also knew that was one rule that Wei Ying would never be able to follow properly.
“it’s going well, we’re going to be testing a few of the ones that I’ve come up with, out soon,” Wei Ying answered him, “As soon as I’ve come up with one that works well enough, then I’ll send it on to Wen Qing and Yao-ge,” he said as he grabbed his chopsticks and began to eat the food that Lan Zhan had brought them. “Thank you,” he grinned after swallowing a mouthful of the surprisingly spicy food. It wasn’t exactly how he liked it, but since he was sharing with Nie Huaisang and Lan Zhan, he could understand why it wasn’t up to his usual standards.
“Then let us eat and test them out,” Lan Zhan said before he started to eat himself.
Wei Ying and Nie Huaisang shared a look as they continued to talk quietly as they ate, though Lan Zhan remained silent, giving a small sigh only once throughout the meal. When it was over, Lan Zhan took away the empty bowls on the tray that he had brought them on. Wei Ying and Nie Huaisang headed out with some robes similar to what the Wen Sect wore. Nie Huaisang gave a good hearty complaint about having to be the one to wear them before he took the first of the talisman’s that they had come up with.
“Okay,” Nie Huaisang said with a little fear as he then tapped the talisman from where it was hidden. There was nothing but a small amount of light coming from where it was hidden and nothing else.
“Right, well, that one didn’t work then,” Wei Ying muttered as he replaced it with another one, “Let’s see if this one does,” he said, standing back a little and waiting for Nie Huaisang to do the same thing again.
This time, smoke billowed from the robes. Nie Huaisang coughed a few times and shook out the robes. Nothing else was wrong with them, it just smoked, there was no fire, “One way to catch people’s attention,” he said as it was replaced by a third one. This time, when Nie Huaisang activated it, it worked and the robes took on a dark forest green colour.
“Yes, this one worked,” Wei Ying grinned, clapping, “Right, we can send this one. But we should carry on with the others first. I want to make sure it’s the best one before we send any,” he said, patting the stack of five more that he wanted to test out. Nie Huaisang sighed, but stood there through the other five talismans. Two more worked on the fresh robes. One turning the robes a brown that reminded them both of manure. The last one turned them to a lighter grey, almost a silver colour.
“The grey or the green ones I think would be best,” Wei Ying suggested.
Nie Huaisang nodded, “I think the grey would be the better choice. It would be more eye-catching that we’ll definitely know who they are,” he added his reasoning behind the choice.
Wei Ying nodded and quickly made up a few more talismans before sending them all off to Meng Yao. The two sworn brothers went to find out what the plans actually were. He wanted to make sure that Meng Yao and Wen Qing were well aware of what was going to happen, so they could be safe.
They were just outside of Nightless City when the message that changed everything came in. Wei Ying reached out to the hawk and let it, Lan. Instead of the usual mental message that was conveyed, a letter appeared in his palm. With wide eyes, he opened it and began to read. He glanced around as he finished and ran over to Jiang Fengmian, “Uncle Jiang, I need to get Sect Leader Lan and Sect Leader Nie here as well as any others. Something has changed,” he said, his words were quick as he looked around to see if he could find anyone else that he knew should be told of what was going on.
“I’ll send for them all,” Jiang Fengmian told him, patting his shoulder, “Don’t worry A-Ying,” he reassured him, as he nodded at his son. He and a few other disciples headed out to gather the Sect Leaders to one side. Jiang Fengmian watched Wei Ying as they walked over to a more secluded area so that they would be able to talk without anyone overhearing them.
Wei Ying stood straight as soon as everyone was gathered. His brother, sworn brother and betrothed were there with him as he began to tell them what Meng Yao had sent him. “Right, our spies have noticed a number of odd things when it has come to Sect Leader Wen,” he began, “Mostly that he would swing from actually grieving for his sons to not even caring that they are dead. They have also been around when he looked extremely confused as if he doesn’t even understand what is going on. That occasionally he has spoken of time being missing for him. Not only that,” he said, “But one of the spies has been able to detect a mind-altering and controlling drug in his system. We believe that someone has been controlling Wen Ruohan,” he finished as he looked at them all.
“You mean to say that nothing he has done was him?” Nie Mingjue asked him, eyes flashing at the thought.
“Yes, but we don’t know how long this has been going on. The only person that can really answer that is Wen Ruohan. We…” he cut himself off for a moment, “one of our spies believes that she’ll be able to come up with something to test him, to find out how long this has been going on for. I don’t know how this will change the upcoming fight. But both of our spies are working towards neutralising the drug to return Wen Ruohan’s faculties to his own control,” he added as he looked around. He could see a lot of angry faces at what he had just said. Most would still want Wen Ruohan dead, for they blamed him for what was going on.
“He…” Nie Mingjue began, only to cut himself off as he felt a gentle hand on his arm.
“Wen Ruohan and our father fought each other, a few days after that fight. After the damage had been done to his sabre, he suffered from Qi Deviation and died as a result of it,” Nie Huaisang was the one to speak, “This happened eight years ago, as you all know,” he informed them, looking at the Sect Leaders, “If it’s been going for longer than that, then he isn’t the one that was responsible for our father’s death. I for one would like to know the truth behind such action,” he murmured, looking back at his brother, who nodded at his words.
“We’ll find out for sure,” Wei Ying promised them.
“It does explain a few things,” Lan Zhiqiang said as he looked over at Jiang Fengmian.
“It does,” the Jiang Sect Leader agreed with a sigh, “Wen Ruohan of say, twenty years ago. He was a pillar for us. He was young, but when the Emperor tried to muscle in on what the Sect’s do, he was the one to force them to stop. no longer does the Royal Court hold sway over those of the Cultivation Sect and our territories, or anything. Wen Ruohan was bright, always striving to help those in need. He loved and adored his wife, loved his sons. Battle was usually the furthest thing from his mind back then.”
“He,” Lan Zhiqiang began, before turning to face Wei Ying, “Wei Wuxian, you remind me a lot of how Wen Ruohan was like when I last saw him. If I didn’t know your parents, I would have easily believed that you could have been one of his children,” he smiled at him, “He wouldn’t have wanted to harm the innocent. To know that he had changed so much in the last eighteen years, it… puzzled me. When I saw him at the conference, there was something that was dulling him. I thought it was the death of his wife. I know that happened, what, ten years ago?” he asked for clarification.
“Twelve,” Jiang Fengmian answered him, “He went into seclusion for a while, almost a year. But when he returned, he was a little harder to read. No longer was he the young man that would do all he could to help the innocent.”
“Well then, this could explain the change and maybe why it wasn’t detected sooner,” Wei Ying said, “For now, we still need to go. They… they said that some of the Wen that are going to be fighting are part of this conspiracy to control Wen Ruohan, but they don’t know how exactly.”
“Of course,” Jiang Fengmian nodded, “This is now, not only a fight to stop the Wen Sect, but to actually free them from whomever it is that is controlling the Sect Leader,” he added, getting a few reluctant nods of agreement from the gathered Sect Leaders.
“Wang Lingjiao, the sister of the woman that Shijie killed,” Wei Ying murmured, “She’s been around the Wen Sect for a while. They said that she might be part of it. She was hanging around Wen Chao all the time, but after his death, she moved onto his father. They believe she is doing something.”
“Right,” Jiang Fengmian said, “I know that we could all discuss this for a long time to come. But we all need to get moving,” he added. “For now, we take out the Wens that fully fight against us. Some of them will only be half-heartedly fighting. They are the ones that are going to be changing their colours. We need to make sure we draw Wen Ruohan out,” he reminded everyone as they headed back to the disciples that were waiting for them to start the march on Nightless City.
They marched for another couple of hours and into Nightless City they went. The Wen were waiting for them in the large grounds outside of the Sun Palace. The fighting quickly began, and those that weren’t really fighting hard were only knocked out at the worst. Those that were, were another matter. While knowing what they now knew, the Sect Leaders wanted to tell their disciples not to kill. But knew that it wouldn’t be prudent to do so. Since they were fighting with their full power.
Jiang Cheng was fighting against two of the Wens that had targeted him. He knew he was going to be a target considering that he had killed Wen Xu. The Wen had been one of the more popular ones over the years within the Wen Sect. He was more conscious of those around him, while still wanting a good fight. Though how much had been himself and not something like a drug, no one would now be able to tell. Jiang Cheng couldn’t tell that there were another two sneaking up behind him as he continued to fight, finally taking one of the ones he was fighting down, he began to attack the other.
“A-Cheng,” came a fearful cry as someone moved him forcefully out of the way. Jiang Cheng was able to kill the last and then turned, only for his eyes to widen as he saw his father being impaled on two swords.
“Dad!” he yelled out as he quickly dispatched them and caught his father before he could hit the ground, “Dad,” he whispered, looking down at him, wondering what he could do to help him.
“A-Cheng, you alright?” he asked of him, a trickle of blood leaving his mouth as he spoke.
“Of course, why… why would you do that?” he demanded to know.
“You’re my son and I love you. Why wouldn’t I do all I can to protect you?” he said, coughing as one of the Wen Healers headed towards them.
“Young Master Jiang, we’ll take him to the healing tents that were set up, carry on fighting and we will do all we can,” the young man said as he knelt down, and quickly picked up the Sect Leader into his arms.
“You… know what to… do,” Jiang Fengmian said as he looked at his son. Pride shining in his eyes.
Jiang Cheng stood up and nodded, steeling himself as he turned around and started to fight once more. The healer alighting a sword and darting away. The same happened around the battlefield as others were taken to be healed.
Wei Ying saw what had happened and he and Lan Zhan made their way over to the young man. “Jiang Cheng,” he said, “Uncle Jiang will be fine, they are Wens, Dafan Wens and they are some of the best healers around.”
“I… I know,” he nodded, closing his eyes for a moment, “We have our orders,” he said as he saw some of the Jiang Sect disciples were around them, “Carry on with our orders,” he called to them.
With a single salute from them, they all headed back into the fray, taking down the Wen with renewed vigour. Though Jiang Cheng and Wei Ying both wanted to call on them not to do so. Though they still had the control enough to only knock out those that weren’t really fighting. Wei Ying went back out as well, following the plan that had been laid out around the table in Qinghe. Wei Ying’s mind was a little on Sect Leader Jiang and Jiang Cheng, but he quickly settled it and carried on fighting.
“We’re beginning to win against them,” Wei Ying said as another Wen was knocked out, the healers that were dressed in the Jiang Sect clothing took them off the battlefield. Taking them out of danger. Though there were still a lot more of them out there. But they had taken out a least a third of the forces that had been sent out against them. It was still a lot, and while they almost matched up in number with how many they had been able to gather. Not all of them were on the same level as a lot of the Wen’s.
“Mn,” Lan Zhan nodded in agreement as he took down another Wen.
“Though Wen Ruohan should be showing up soon, I hope,” Wei Ying worried a little. Things were mostly hinged on Wen Ruohan wanted to come out to meet them head-on. With the way that he was being controlled at the moment, it would make sense that he would come out. To show his apparent madness.
There was a sudden hush of silence as the doors to the great palace finally opened up and out stepped two figures. Everyone stopped, Wen and the Alliance alike as they watched what was going on at the top of the steps.
Wen Ruohan walked out of the Sun Palace. Beside him was a woman, all painted up, a smirk on her face as she practically hung on Wen Ruohan’s arm. “So, the army of the peasants have come to my door. You knocked, so I thought I should at least come out and see you all before I sent you away,” he said, smirking at them all.
“It’s time!” a yell went out among the Wen. And with a wave, their robes changed, going grey as they quickly made their way towards the Alliance. Showing Wei Ruohan that they were not siding with him. That they were against what he was doing.
“So, we have traitors in our midst!” he growled, eyes flashing as he looked at the people that he had left. There weren’t that many now, just over a quarter of the forces that had been sent out at the start remained alive and on his side.
“Not traitors!” one called out, “But we believe in the Wen Sect, on how we once were and not what we have now become,” he carried on. “You have lost what the Wen stood for. What you, yourself started. We can no longer stand by and watch as the Wen Sect becomes nothing under your reign!”
Wen Ruohan stared at them. Not noticing as someone came up behind him.
“I’m sorry Uncle,” Wen Qing said, her robes grey as she shot out two acupuncture needles and then poured something down his throat. Meng Yao reacted quickly, moving to her side and pulling her away from her uncle. In case he tried to do something against her. The young doctor’s eyes were hopeful as she watched the man that had helped to raise her and her brother after her parent’s death. He had taken her and Wen Nin into his home when Wen Ning was only a few months old. Only sending them back to Dafan and Granny when Wen Qing said she wanted to go back, when Wen Ning was around five. Though it was mainly because he was changing and she was scared of how he was quickly becoming.
Wen Ruohan choked a little on what he had swallowed. He could feel his mind starting to clear. It was clearer than it had been in over ten years. He started to stand up. Glancing around as his mind started to take in the situation around him. His mind catching up to the events, “Wens s-” he began only to choke again when something ran through him. Pain radiating through his body at it.
“I can’t let you do that,” Wang Lingjiao smirked at him, as she pushed him down, pulling the dagger that she had stabbed him with, “I’m taking control of the Wens now,” she told him as she stood up and took a few steps towards the stairs that led down to the large courtyard where the fighting had been taking place, “You all know what you should do! Take out the Wens and the rest of the Sects, Victory will be ours!” she ordered.
The fighting began again, though most of the Wens that had remained were quickly being killed by them, as the others Sects started to fight against them. This time, they were better trained and fiercer than normal. Making it harder for the Alliance and True Wen’s to take them out.
“I’m in charge now,” she smirked as she looked around, “No longer do I have to let those bastards near me to get close to you and the others. It’s all mine, just as planned.”
“I… won’t let you,” Wen Ruohan gasped out as he lurched to his feet, sword in hand as he struck her down with ease, “Wens take them out! Take those damned traitors out!” he demanded, going to his knees, his body no longer able to keep himself on his feet.
The Wens in the grey nodded, as they fought in earnest, the call from their Sect Leader reminding them of times long past. They took down those that had been attacking everything. Though all of those in the Wen Sect Robes would be detained if possible, to determine which side they were on. Wen Qing was finally able to get out of Meng Yao’s grasp and rushed to her uncle’s side as the man was knelt on the ground after killing Wang Lingjiao.
“Oh, A-Qing,” Wei Ruohan said, as his niece reached his side. His voice carried as the Sect Leaders of the Major Sect’s headed towards them, as their disciples and the Wen’s out those that were working with Wang Lingjiao. “What have I done,” he moaned as he looked at her, he could already feel the soothing Qi of her healer’s core entering him and helping him, “A-Xu, Chao-er, both gone because of her and that bastard Zhuliu,” he shook his head as she did her best to heal him.
“I know uncle, I know,” he murmured, “What… what was going on?” she asked him quietly. Though she knew that the three Sect Leaders and a few others were now within hearing distance of them. The fighting below was quickly coming to an end, the Wen all being taken into custody.
“Later, we will… talk later,” he said, as he felt he had healed enough to attempt to stand. he turned to the other Sect Leaders, “It’s good to see you all again,” he greeted them, “As soon as we have taken care of things out here, I shall speak with you all about what was going on. And A-Qing, thank you for freeing me,” he told her, “How… how is A-Yi?” he then asked.
“I got word that she went into labour two weeks ago,” Wen Qing answered him quietly, “She… she didn’t make it. The poison that almost killed her had weakened her too badly.”
Wen Ruohan seemed to wilt before their eyes, “I wish that I was stronger,” he said mournfully, shaking his head.
“The drug they used would have used your Golden Core against you. If you kept trying to use it to get rid of the drug it would have eventually killed you,” Wen Qing told him as she led the way inside the Sun Palace as the fighting came to an end.
Wen Ruohan was seated at one of the small tables that Meng Yao had helped set up in the main hall. The prisoners were being taken care of as well. All Wen’s not in the grey had been taken. They would all be questioned and Wei Ying would be the one that would make sure that they were being truthful. He had already worked that out before Meng Yao had taken on the position of Spy within the Wen Sect alongside Wen Qing.
“Ruohan, would you like to tell us what has happened?” Lan Zhiqiang asked, he and the others were waiting for an answer to the questions they had about everything.
“After my beloved passed away, you all know that I went into seclusion. So, I could grieve alone, without the Sect or anyone else forcing me to move on as soon as they wanted. Instead, one of the servants assigned to bring food to my rooms, they… kept me company. It was… innocent at first. Just talking, telling me what my… sons were doing, how they were coping without both myself and their mother. But… it didn’t take long to change, something began to feel odd. When I came out a few months later. The world had dulled and I was angry at it, instead of the hurt I had felt. I started losing time occasionally. Blacking out. I just put it all down to my losing her,” he said softly, “I didn’t really care at that point. Then I started saying and doing things that… that weren’t what I wished. Only small things, allowing people into the Sect without the usual procedures. Nothing that should have caused harm, but it was.”
“And… how was it causing harm?” Lan Zhiqiang asked him. Jiang Cheng sat beside him instead of Jiang Fengmian, who was still being treated.
“The woman that had been coming to my room, I figured out, was giving me a very mild drug. To start controlling me. I fought it a little, but I wasn’t in the right mental state to truly fight it. The woman was Wang Lingjiao’s aunt. She was one of those that was behind the plot to take over the Wen Sect. It’s why I sent A-Yi away. To try and keep her safe, but I was too late,” he sighed and then paused for a moment as he thought about something, turning to face Wen Qing, “What about her child?”
“A little boy, she was able to name him Wen Yuan before she passed,” she answered him, “He’s doing alright. He’s safe at Cloud Recesses,” she added.
Wei Ruohan nodded, sighing in relief that one of the few times that he was able to fight the drugs he had been able to send her away. “Sect Leader Lan, thank you so much for keeping them safe. The Dafan Wen are my brother’s branch. Where my mother and my wife came from,” he said, “It hurt to know that most of them were gone. That I had ordered them away from Dafan where they were safe,” he shook his head, “Wang Lingjiao took over from her aunt. I was able to kill the woman in a moment of clarity some six years ago. Zhou Zhuliu then entered the Sect afterwards, to try and control me as well. He became a force and both of them had taken to running most of the Sect. My mind was no longer my own, my orders were theirs, whispered in my ears. But as long as those I cared about were safe, my will was nothing. If they were in danger then I could fight it. My Sect was taken over, my sons sent to fight when I wanted nothing of the sort. I’ve lost them both and I almost lost my grandson as well because of those… bastards,” he hissed.
“What did they want?” Nie Mingjue growled as he stared at the Wen Sect Leader.
“To take over. The Wen Sect was the most powerful one out of the five. They thought if I was under their control, that in the end you would all fall in line as well. They had a number of people planted in other Sects. Though in the few moments of clarity that I had, I would often order their deaths from those that I trusted and knew that they were loyal to me and me alone,” he added.
“We’ve lost four Jiang Sect members to outright murder,” Jiang Cheng said as he looked over at the Wen Sect Leader.
“I know, there should also be two Nie Sect members as well as one Lan Sect. There were at least five that I ordered killed that were in the Jin Sect,” he told him, nodding, “I did my best to try and keep them out of the other Sects. Though they were mainly targeting the Major Sects and not really the smaller ones. Since they were ordering my disciples to take over the smaller Sects near us, working our way outwards,” he sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. His mind whirling around the fact that there were so many in his Sect now that weren’t true Wens, “I have a lot of work to do, to deal with everything that has happened,” he sighed heavily.
“What you have to do Uncle is recover. The drug that was used on you has weakened you significantly. You’re also injured as well,” Wen Qing pointed out, “You need to rest. The drug may have cleared from your mind, but it hasn’t from your body. That will take some months for it to fully leave, and until then you won’t be able to cultivate at all. You’ll need to rest as much as you can,” she told him, explaining to everyone gathered what the drug had done to Wen Ruohan.
Wen Ruohan finished listening to her, “Then I will leave the Sect in your hands A-Qing. You know what this Sect and Clan should be like. You… A-Ning? Is A-Ning safe?” he then asked, as he realized that his nephew wasn’t there.
“He is, he’s safe,” she promised him.
Wen Ruohan sighed in relief, “I know that you and your brother would do well in running the Sect,” Wei Ruohan told her, “I’m tired A-Qing, my mind hasn’t been my own for so long. I’ve done things and even harmed my friends, caused their deaths because of this. My heart is heavy and my mind is in turmoil.”
“I will do as Uncle suggests,” she bowed, “But you better remain near me so that I can keep an eye on you,” she warned him.
“Of course,” he said, a weak smile on his face, “You remind me so much of your father, A-Xing would be so proud of you, and of A-Ning,” he sighed. There was no trace of the arrogant and confident leader that had once been before them. Instead, they now saw a man that was tired and wan, “Sect Leader Nie,” he said as he glanced over at the young man, “There are no words that I can say but sorry, though they mean little for what I have done. For what I caused with your father. He was a true friend to me. He noticed that something wasn’t right with me and confronted me about it. Unfortunately, Wang Suyin was there and with the new drug controlling me. I attacked him, unable to stop myself as I damaged his Sabre, and I know that would have harmed him, causing Qi Deviation soon afterwards. I am more sorry than you can even imagine. Nie Yongzheng was a great man, a great friend and I miss him dearly,” he told the two Nie brothers.
Nie Mingjue closed his eyes as he nodded, letting his fists relax. He finally let go of the anger that had been bubbling within him from the moment that his father had returned from Qishan. His sabre damaged beyond repair and his eyes sad and regretful. He never understood the last part until now. He had maintained his anger with the Wen’s, specifically Wen Ruohan for so long that he had forgotten that the two of them had been very close friends. Often visiting each other. He looked at him, “Thank you,” he said finally.
There was a knock on the door, the Sect Leaders and Heir turned towards it as it opened. One of the Jiang Sect disciples rushed into the room and over to Jiang Cheng, who had temporarily taken his father’s place while he was injured and being treated. “I’m sorry to intrude on the Sect Leaders,” he said, bowing to everyone before looking at Jiang Cheng and getting closer, “Sect Heir,” he said formally, “Sect Leader’s Jiang’s condition has deteriorated. The healers… they don’t think he will survive the rest of the day,” he said, keeping his composure at the news, but all could see that the young disciples were upset.
Jiang Cheng sat there frozen for a moment as the news sunk in. Nie Huaisang had to nudge the other to make him move.
Lan Zhan having to do the same to Wei Ying, who was shaking where he sat, “You should go,” Lan Zhan said as he helped Wei Ying to his feet and then pulled Jiang Cheng up as well, “They can carry on the meeting without you for now,” he pointed out as he began to lead the two shocked men out of the room.
Jiang Cheng and Wei Ying finally shook themselves and began to rush out of the room. Running through the corridors. Into the fresh air, they ran as they headed towards the healing camp that had been put up. Wen Qing was quick to follow them, she was one of the better healers, and she hoped that she might be able to do something to help. A Jiang Disciple was standing outside one of the tent’s waving them over. They could see a number of other Jiang disciples, all of them looking worried, some of the younger ones even looking fearful.
“What’s going on?” Jiang Cheng asked as he stood before the entrance of the tent, trying his best at keeping his emotions under control.
“The wounds he has are too great, even with the aid of his cultivation,” the healer that had been looking after the Jiang Sect Leader said as he stood near the entrance.
“I would like to look at him,” Wen Qing stepped forwards, quickly going into the tent, she paused at the entranceway, “Please wait here while I examine him,” she told the two of them as she then went inside. The tent flap closed behind her. It took a few minutes but she soon came out again, a grave look on her face. “They’re right,” she sighed, “There isn’t anything more that can be done. He… won’t last very long. He’s got very little time. It would be best to go inside and say your goodbyes now,” she advised them as she pulled the flap open for the two of them to go inside.
Jiang Cheng nodded at Wen Qing and then headed inside. Wei Ying gripped Lan Zhan’s hand tightly as he pulled him along as he followed his brother inside.
Jiang Cheng looked at the cot his father was lying on. The man was pale and his breathing laboured, “Dad,” he whispered as he walked over and knelt beside him.
Eyes opened and a wan smile appeared on the Sect Leader’s face, “A-Cheng, I’m so happy to know that you’re safe and unharmed,” he said, reaching out to him, cupping his face, “You’ve made me so proud. I’m so happy to know that I’m leaving the Sect to you. I know that you will be a fine Sect Leader, surpassing what I have done easily,” he told him proudly.
“Dad, you can’t go now. You… we… we’re finally being a family, me and you, A-Jie and Wuxian. You can’t…” he said brokenly as tears started to gather, “What about A-Jie and Wuxian. They’re going to be married and you need to be there for that. You have to be there for that,” he told him, shaking his head as a suppressed sob was heard from behind him.
Wei Ying walked over and fell to the ground, kneeling beside Jiang Cheng, “Uncle Jiang, please, don’t… don’t go. You… you’re all I have left of my parents,” he told him, “You’re the only one that really knows them, that can tell me about them,” he cried, wiping at his eyes as the tears fell down his face.
“I’m sorry A-Ying, but there is something that I left for you in my desk, back at Lotus Pier. A bundle of letters that I had from your parents over the years. Talking about their adventures and of you when you were a baby. Their tablets are in there as well. Though they belong in the ancestral hall. Yu Ziyuan took them out, was going to destroy them,” he breathed heavily.
“Then I will see them put back where they belong,” Jiang Cheng told him, “They should be at home and at peace there,” he added, looking at his brother.
“Thank you, A-Cheng,” Jiang Fengmian said softly, his voice getting weaker.
“Please, please don’t leave us,” Wei Ying cried, reaching out to him.
Jiang Fengmian took the hand, taking Jiang Cheng’s with his other one as he spent what little strength, he had left to turn over so he could see the two of them better. “You will both be fine. A-Ying, you’re going to be married soon, and you’ll be so happy. I know you will. I know A-Li will as well,” he told him, before looking at Jiang Cheng, “A-Cheng, you’re going to be the best Sect Leader that the Jiang Sect will ever have. You’re strong, not only in body but in mind as well. You’re smart, think things through, so I know you’ll be just fine. A-Ying will be beside you as his father was beside me. You’ll both be fine without me. Make sure to… tell A-Li that I love her, and know that she has chosen a good man for her husband. I’m so happy and proud of her for standing up to what she wants in life. And your mother, tell her I love her and I hope that she will forgive me for not making sure to be clear that I have loved her from the moment I met her at Cloud Recesses all those years ago,” his voice was getting so weak, that the two brothers could just about hear it as he finished speaking, “One, last thing,” he breathed, he reached to his inner pocket and pulled out Zidian, “This is now yours, use it well, until you find the person that holds your heart and your trust,” he told Jiang Cheng as he handed it over to his son, “I love you both, so much.”
Jiang Cheng and Wei Ying got that little bit closer as Jiang Fengmian’s eyes closed, his breathing began to slow and then finally stop. The two cried as they knelt there. Gripping the hand of the man that had raised them both.
Wei Ying clung to his brother as they cried. Slowly they stood, giving each other a hug and holding the other tightly, as though afraid that they too would leave them. “We… we have a lot of work to do,” Wei Ying said as he tried to get his emotions under control once more.
Jiang Cheng nodded, taking a shuddering breath, he wiped his eyes, “We… do,” he nodded, “Let’s get started. We have the Wen civilians in the city to help as well,” he pointed out. Knowing that was one of the things that his father had mentioned. That some of them might have been harmed in the fighting.
“Yeah,” he said, as he reached out for Lan Zhan, who had remained at the back of the tent.
Lan Zhan nodded and the two of them walked out of the tent. Jiang Cheng stood there for a moment, “Goodbye Dad,” he whispered one last time before going out of the room and informing the Jiang Disciples that were waiting that Jiang Fengmian had passed away. He was quick to organise the transportation of his father’s body back to Lotus Pier for the funeral. He also sent off a messenger as well to his sister and mother. Telling them that the battle was over and that Jiang Fengmian had been killed during it. Jiang Cheng was now Sect Leader. As the young Jiang Sect Leader finished, he heard a commotion coming from the entrance of the Camp. Lan Zhan and Wei Ying joined Jiang Cheng as they went over. Since they were the only ones that had any authority within the camp at that moment in time. The rest were still in conference with Wen Ruohan. Wen Qing had also gone back, to make sure that her uncle was still alright.
“What are you doing here?” Jiang Cheng was blunt as he asked Jiang Guangshan. Jiang Cheng walked through the camp to where the Jin Sect Leader was almost holding court with people surrounding him.
“I thought we would lend a hand with the clean-up at the very least,” Jin Guangshan said, eyes narrowed as he looked at Jiang Cheng, “I expect that your father should be here soon enough.”
Jiang Cheng clenched his jaw, “My father has just passed away from his injuries gained during the battle. I am now the Jiang Sect Leader. I ask again, why are you here? You took no part in the war and we do not need your help at all,” he told the man. He couldn’t stand anyone from the Jin Sect. Especially not their leader, not with all the things that he had heard about him from Meng Yao.
“Well, the Jin Sect didn’t take part in the main battle, but we thought that we would at least help out afterwards. With the fact that you’ve all no doubt suffered losses. So, I think it would be fine for us to take in the Wen’s. Make sure that they are… suitably punished for the atrocities that they have done,” Jin Guangshan said, waving a dismissive hand at the almost eighteen-year-old Sect Leader as he began to walk away.
“The Wens are all taken care of,” Wei Ying told him, “Those that were there during the fighting are to go through questioning before their fate will be decided by the New Wen Sect Leader,” he added, staring at the man.
“Another Sect Leader for the Wen. Oh no, that won’t do. It would be best to round them up and dispose of them before they can even think about causing trouble for us again,” he said, shaking his head and talking to the three of them as though they were little children.
“No,” Jiang Cheng said, “At the moment, the Wen Sect Leader and all of the others, bar me, are talking about peace. I myself am not there as I was at my father’s side when he passed, to say goodbye. Now I suggest that you wait until those that took part in the fighting come and speak with you. Maybe you’ll listen to Sect Leader Lan,” he sneered a little as he turned and walked away.
“Sect Leader Jin, please remain here, you and your disciples all need to remain in the camp. We have a lot of scared civilians that are needing to be tended to,” Wei Ying added, as he began to turn away.
“You don’t have to worry about that. I sent a few people to drag them to the camps that I have graciously set up outside. Now I will be on my way to see the prisoners,” he began as he turned, indicating that he should be followed by his disciples to wherever the Wens would be being held.
“I don’t think you quite understand the situation at the moment, Sect Leader Jin,” Wei Ying growled, “You are to remain here and those that you sent out will be brought back here as well. No civilian will be harmed at all. They are innocent of any crimes,” he warned him, his tone going dark as he thought of innocent people being harmed at all. With that, he brought out a talisman and activated it. A dome surrounded the Jins and Jin Guangshan, trapping them inside of it, even though they had tried to break it, “Now, you can remain there. While I go and get those that were with you that you sent out,” he snapped, “Oh and don’t bother trying to use anything against the done. It will only respond to me and Jiang Cheng,” he told them, “So try all you like to get out of it,” he grinned. He had tested it on Jiang Fengmian and Zidian after all. And even he couldn’t take it down from the inside and not even from the outside.
Wei Ying went over to some of the Jiang Disciples, handing over some binding talismans, “Any Jin Sect Member that you see are to be tied up. Bring them over here and shove them at the barrier. They will be let through it and won’t be able to come back. It will expand as needed. Only I and Jiang Cheng can deactivate it,” he told them, sending out a load of them as he and Lan Zhan went out as well.
It didn’t take long for the two of them to find one of the Jin Disciples and a few people with him causing trouble. There was already a dead Wen on the ground and another was about to be shot with an arrow. Wei Ying sent out Subian and stopped the arrow before it could harm the elderly lady that was carrying a young child in her arms.
“What do you think you are doing!” Wei Ying growled at them as he jumped down, Lan Zhan quickly following, “The Wen are not to be harmed in any way!” he yelled at him.
“You don’t tell me what to do. I’m under orders from Sect Leader Jin Guangshan to take down any Wen that I see,” he snorted at the other and sneered at him as well.
“Then you have no authority at all, as Sect Leader Jin has none here since he didn’t take part in any of the fighting,” he said, as he sent out the binding talisman and quickly rounded up the four Jin disciples, “Lan Zhan, can you send up a flare so that some of ours can get here to take care of these people?” he asked his betrothed.
“Mn,” Lan Zhan nodded as he quickly did so. They waited until a few Lan arrived. Telling them the situation, they headed back to the camp. The number of Jin had tripled as the three of those that were there were pushed into the barrier. The one that had shot the arrow remained outside of it.
“Why haven’t you added him to the group?” Lan Xichen asked as he walked over. He had been told what was happening as soon as he came to the camp from the meeting.
“This one was found to be shooting arrows at the Wen Civilians, one has been killed,” Wei Ying answered him, “I don’t know what should be done about him though. Though, since there is a Wen Sect leader, and the murder happened to one of their people. I believe that they should preside over his punishment?” he suggested.
“You can’t do that! The Wen are our enemy!” Jin Guangshan called out, “They will just kill him as they will to everyone else!” he sneered.
“The Wen were never really the enemy,” Lan Xichen told him, “Things are rather complicated. In essence Wen Ruohan was controlled by outside forces,” he said as he began to explain everything that had been spoken off within the meeting.
“So, you see,” Wei Ying told him as soon as Lan Xichen had finished, “You are not wanted or needed, as things are different from what you believe to be true,” he finished.
“Very well, we shall stay to see how things are going, my apologies,” Jin Guangshan bit out, “Please, release my nephew, he had no idea that things were not as they see.”
“Then maybe you should have waited to send out the hounds,” Nie Mingjue said as he walked over with the other Sect Leaders, someone had rushed to them to tell them what had happened. Wen Ruohan was walking beside them, Wen Qing keeping a hand on her uncle to steady him.
“Your ignorance and his doesn’t excuse you,” Wen Ruohan said as he looked at the man, “Still trying to take over and get credit from everyone else as always, Guangshan,” he snorted at the other man.
“I was trying to help,” Jin Guangshan said from behind the barrier.
“No, you were doing as you’ve always done. Try and take over and take the credit for someone else’s work. Just like you tried to do with Wei Changze, and when you were called out on it that time. You spread rumours about him, that he was a servant and not a cultivator. To try and discredit him,” Wen Ruohan snorted, shaking his head, “How many cultivators did you spread rumours about?” he asked him, “There were so many that left the Jin Sect because of your antics back then. I’m horrified to know that you haven’t changed a bit.”
“Wei Wuxian,” Jiang Cheng called to his brother, “please let the idiots go. Sect Leader Jin needs to listen to what else is going on as well,” he said casually.
“Of course, Sect Leader Jiang,” he said, with a proper bow from subordinate to Sect leader. Which surprised a few around them. But it was an easy way for the others to see that Jiang Cheng was now the Sect Leader and not just his brother.
The dome faded and Nie Mingjue took charge of Jin Zixun, much to Jin Guangshan’s protests. The man would take him prisoner, until the Wens were ready to deal with such a crime. Jin Guangshan, in the end, had no choice but to go with the other Sect Leader to carry on learning what was going on now and the next course of action that would be taken.
It was a week after the battle had ended that things were starting to settle down. The people of the Wen Sect were starting to go back to their homes. No longer scared about what was going on. The cultivation world was now at peace once more. The Wen Sect had planned to hold a small banquet before people departed back to their own Sects. A way to thank them for the help they had given them in freeing their former Sect Leader and to officially welcome in Wen Qing as the New Wen Sect Leader. There would be another such ceremony in two months’ time at Lotus Pier after a small mourning period for Jiang Fengmian. Though Madam Yu and Jiang Yanli had arrived from Lotus Pier, as did many others to attend the banquet.
Wen Ruohan stood up, “I want to thank you all,” he said as he raised a cup of wine and bowed slightly to those that were gathered in the hall, “For the help that you have given to my Sect and My People as well as myself. Without you, we would have fallen into ruin, and none would be left. So, thank you. And now, I give you my Niece, the new leader of the Wen Sect. May those that have come before you live on in your heart and action,” he said as he turned and bowed to his niece.
Wen Qing still wasn’t happy about taking over from her uncle. But she knew that this body was still weak from the poison that he had been forced to consume over the last twelve years. “I too thank you all,” she said, as she stood up, letting her uncle sit once more, “I wish to convey my thanks to Wei Wuxian, Nie Huaisang, Jiang Wanyin, Lan Wangji and Meng Yao, without them, I doubt that I would have been able to do what was needed to be done. Their bravery, quick thinking and leadership were able to put into motion the plans that helped save us all from a long and drawn-out war. While we have all lost someone, many more could have been lost without their help,” she said, bowing to each of them in turn, “Thank you,” she said once more, “To the peace between us, may it be here forever!” she declared and downed the wine in her cup. The others around her were doing the same. Though tea had been given to the Lans of course.
Jin Guangshan looked at Meng Yao, he knew that name of course. It was the name of the child he had fathered with the prostitute in Yunping City, Meng Shi. He gave a little smirk, “It’s so nice to know that one of my blood has taken part in these heroics,” he said as he brought attention to himself.
“Oh?” Wen Ruohan said, frowning at the man, waiting for what scene he was planning this time.
“Meng Yao, my son,” he said as he looked at the wide-eyed man that was staring at him.
“Oh no!” Meng Yao hissed, “I don’t want anything to do with you at all,” he added.
“I am your father,” Jin Guangshan began, shaking his head as though Meng Yao was just confused, “I kno-”
“You may have donated your sperm, but you have never been a father to me at all. The last time that you volunteered to see me, and that was more to see my mother and bed her again, than myself. I was only four then, that was the last time you came to Yunping, and that was sixteen years ago,” Meng Yao pointed out, “I wrote to you once, six years ago when my mother first fell ill, asking you for your help. And you ignored us, two years ago she passed and made me promise to go to Koi Tower. You refused to let me near in, you kicked me down the steps of Koi Tower and told me to get lost. So why would I want to be part of your family when you have no respect for me and my mother. She may be gone, but I have no doubt that she would wish for me to be happy, instead of with a poisonous snake such as yourself,” he growled, sneering at the man that dared to call himself his father.
“Be quiet, you know he’s right. If that is what you did then you have no claim on him as your son. If you’ve not provided for him during his childhood or even trained him in cultivation,” Wen Ruohan shook his head, sighing at the man once again, “You know how these things work. With how many bastards I know you have hanging around, even before your marriage. I thought you would have done as well,” he snapped at him like he was talking to an errant child instead of a Sect Leader that was only five years younger than himself.
“I am trying to make sure that my son would be well provided for. I even have a young lady in mind that would be a suitable bride for him,” he added as he turned back towards Meng Yao, about to speak again.
Nie Mingjue was the one to slam his hand down on his table, “That will not be happening. Since A-Yao and myself are betrothed,” he said, glaring at the man, “We will be married by the end of the year.”
“Yes!” Nie Huaisang yelled out, “At last, now I just have to finish off those plans that I started,” he grinned, happily humming to himself as he pulled out a load of papers from his sleeve and started going over them, “Xian-di! Need you over here,” he called Wei Ying to help him, the other man had some good ideas after all.
“I see,” Jin Guangshan bit out, teeth clenched as he tried to keep a smile on his face.
“I’m very happy for the two of you,” Lan Xichen said as he raised a cup to the both of them, “May you have a long and fruitful marriage,” he smiled.
“I thank you, my friend,” Nie Mingjue smiled, “It’s been a long time,” he added as he looked down at Meng Yao, seated beside him.
“It has,” Meng Yao said, “You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting for you to give a date or a time frame for when we were to marry.”
“Oh, that’s a good idea A-Ying!” Nie Huaisang exclaimed as he clapped, “Yes, and for this one, we should…” he trailed off as he went quiet again, scribbling things down with Wei Ying helping him.
“Do I even want to know what those two are planning?” Nie Mingjue asked, looking worriedly at the pair.
“Don’t worry,” Meng Yao reassured him, “A-Sang has been planning our wedding for a while now. But he’s also helping to put plans together for two more,” he added, smiling.
“Oh?” Nie Mingjue nodded slowly as he realised what weddings Nie Huaisang could be planning apart from his own, “Well, I won’t interfere with their fun, as long as thought involved agree to his meddling,” he murmured, giving his brother one last glance.
“Most will,” Meng Yao smiled, “I’ve been helping them a little with the planning as well.”
Jiang Cheng sighed in relief as he walked into his room at the Sun Palace. His family walked in behind him. Wei Ying was with him as well, though he had been reluctant to part from Lan Zhan at the end of the banquet. “Glad that is over and done with. We can now return home,” he sighed as he seated himself at the low table as Jiang Yanli prepared some tea for them all.
“Still not happy that the bastard got off,” Wei Ying grumbled as he thought of Jin Zixun. He had been given a reprieve from punishment after killing the Wen Civilian.
“I know, but there isn’t anything else we can do. Though if he does something else to cause trouble then they may just grab him for that instead,” Jiang Cheng sighed, patting his brother on the shoulder before going to the small table and sitting down.
“I miss Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying sighed, as he sat down beside Jiang Cheng, “Jiang Cheng,” he said, looking at his brother with a smile on his face, “When will we be able to marry?” he asked him, hoping that it would be soon.
“Give it a few more months,” Jiang Cheng sighed, shaking his head, though there was a smile on his face, “When you’re eighteen, then you two can get married,” he told him.
“But… but that’s ages away,” Wei Ying whined as he laid his head on the table and pouted at him.
“It’s nine months away A-Xian,” Jiang Yanli laughed lightly as she brought the tea over, “Before then A-Chen and I shall be married,” she smiled softly as she poured for them all.
“Thank you, Shijie,” Wei Ying said as he sat up straight, “Can’t believe the things that Wen Ruohan said to Jin Guangshan,” he grinned, almost cackling as he remembered.
“He’s right, the way that Jin Guangshan has acted is not good,” Jiang Cheng shook his head, “It’s one of the reasons why dad really couldn’t stand him,” he added, looking down at the tea as it sloshed around his cup.
“He’d be so proud of how you’re dealing with everything,” Wei Ying said softly as he looked at his brother.
Jiang Cheng nodded, “I know, he sai-”
“Hmph,” Madam Yu huffed, “As if he cared about anything but himself, Wei Wuxian and that bit-”
“I would watch your language mother,” Jiang Cheng told her, turning to face her, “I’m done listening to the vitriol that you spew about those around you. Father may have put up with it, but I won’t,” he warned her.
“How dare you speak to your own mother that way!” she turned towards him, glaring at him.
“I will speak to you how you speak to me,” he told her, “Father was right. You have no care about me, just your own standing and the power that you can wield. Father loved you with all his heart, but you didn’t love him,” he shook his head, “I am now the Sect Leader, I will not hear of you bad-mouthing father, or even Aunt Cangse, Uncle Wei anymore,” he told her, “They were fathers’ best friends. Their tablets will be placed with fathers in the ancestral shrine when I return to Lotus Pier.
“I will not have them in there, I already stopped your weak father from doing so, and I will stop you as well,” she sneered, not happy with the thought of them being there.
“I don’t care, and if you destroy them, then I will send you away. You have no power in Lotus Pier with father now gone. You are Madam Yu only, no longer are you the Lady of Lotus Pier, as that position will be taken by the one that I marry,” he told her, more of a warning of what he would do if he wasn’t followed. He wasn’t the type to let people walk all over him. He will make sure that his father would be proud of him, no matter what.
Madam Yu got up, ignoring the tea that her daughter had poured for her, “You are making a mistake in letting that thing even remain as part of the Sect. He will do nothing but bring you down, as he did with your father.”
“He never did anything, that was all in your mind. And that thing has a name, it’s Wei Wuxian and he is my brother,” Jiang Cheng told her, finally getting the backbone he needed to stand up to a woman that had made his life a misery, with her always putting him down and comparing him to others. Always finding him lacking in one way or another. “Wei Wuxian is marrying Lan Wangji in a year’s time. He is also one of the reasons why the Lan Sect, the Jiang Sect and everyone else was able to get home. Thanks to all the work that he, Nie Huaisang and Meng Yao have done behind the scenes. You can’t even see him for who he is, just want your own mind wants to paint him as. I think you should take some time to think long and hard about what you want for the rest of your life. You are perilously close to losing myself,” he told her. He sighed, “I’m glad that I had my eyes opened to things,” he murmured to himself.
“He caused your father’s death!” Madam Yu exclaimed as she began to walk away.
“No, he didn’t. A war happened, and my father saved my life. He got in the way of a blade meant for my back,” Jiang Cheng said, voice shaking, “If anyone should be blamed then it would have been me, I was the one that killed Wen Xu after all. Though Wen Ruohan doesn’t blame me for what happened at all,” he said, as he glanced towards the window. The stars shining brightly in the sky as not a cloud was in sight.
Madam Yu turned to her son, “Just you wait. He will bring ruin to us, not think carefully of the people around you and the alliances that you need to make,” she added as she left the room.
Jiang Yanli sighed in relief as soon as she was gone, “She has been going on about me and Jin Zixuan maybe getting back together,” she sighed, shaking her head.
“I know, she was saying something similar as well. I already told her that I won’t be rescinding the betrothals for either of you,” Jiang Cheng reassured them both, “I know she’s not happy about Wuxian and Lan Wangji either,” he snorted, rolling his eyes.
“That’s because she’s had no say and has no control of either of the betrothals. Not only that, but Shijie and I will be very happy when we get married, she wasn’t because of her own actions,” Wei Ying said bluntly, “Now I’m going to drink this and go to bed,” he smiled at his two siblings.
“Good, I could do with some sleep as well,” Jiang Yanli smiled, “A-Chen and I would like to speak a while before we leave tomorrow,” she smiled and giggled at the roll of her baby brother’s eyes.
“Oh,” Wei Ying pouted.
The three finished their tea before heading to bed. They would be leaving Qishan and heading back to Lotus Pier and to Jiang Fengmian’s funeral in a week’s time. The three of them were sombre as they said their goodnights. The future wasn’t fully on their minds but the past and the loss of their father.
Wei Ying was grumbling as he looked around the banquet hall. It was the third day since they had arrived at Koi Tower. He couldn’t believe that Jin Guangshan had organised a hunt for everyone. That had taken place the day before and with the Nie and the Jiang Sect’s doing the best out of the five Sect, much to Jin Guangshan’s annoyance. It was a little too soon for most people since people were still recovering a little from everything that had happened. Jiang Cheng had only been inducted as the Jiang Sect leader the week before. The Jin Sect Leader had sent out messengers about the hunt, not even a few days after everyone had returned home from Qishan. Telling of the hunt and a gathering of the Sect Leader. It wasn’t hard to figure out that the Wen Sect hadn’t been invited at first, though they had shown up. MianMian had been the one to tell them that Madam Jin had been the one to send the invite to the Wen Sect. The look on Jin Guangshan’s face when they had arrived was a sight to see.
Wei Ying glanced over to where the Lan Sect were seated. Giving Lan Zhan a subtle little wiggle of his fingers in greeting. They had been messaging each other each day. Sometimes several times a day, “I really wish we didn’t have to be here,” he murmured under his breath, letting only Jiang Cheng hear his words.
The seventeen-year-old Sect Leader gave a subtle nod, “I know,” he agreed with the same quiet murmur. The Jin Sect Leader was drinking, talking about bringing everyone together again and making sure that this type of thing wouldn’t happen again. Jiang Cheng and Wei Ying could see that the others around the room were beginning to get annoyed with the man.
“Enough! What is it that you’re trying to do this time?” Nie Mingjue was the one that finally broke.
“I am just saying that with what happened to former Sect Leader Wen, that we should have safeguards in place to make sure that it wouldn’t happen again. And one person in ch-” he began.
“One person shouldn’t be in charge. At the moment we should have a council,” Jiang Cheng said, speaking up, “One person could easily be compromised, as we saw. But with a council of cultivators, we are all held accountable to each other,” he added, making sure to keep the same type of calm that his father had when dealing with the idiocy that was Jin Guangshan.
“A council of Sect Leader would be a good idea, meeting at least once every six months at the very least,” Lan Xichen added, looking towards his father.
“You’re right,” Lan Zhiqiang agreed, “A council would be more beneficial,” he nodded as he turned to the rest of the room, “Do we all agree that a Council of Sect Leader would be a good idea?” he asked the floor.
“I was actually thinking,” Jiang Cheng began, before anyone could answer the Lan Sect Leader, “That it would be the Sect Heirs that would be part of this. That they would sit on the council. It would mean that they would know of the goings-on, fully of the Sect and they can discuss things that concern the Sect without having to put more work on the Sect Leader. And yes, they should meet often. Every four months would be a better idea, three times a year. Much like the discussion conference that happens each year. It would take place in a different Sect. This way the Sect Leader has to make sure that all decisions that have been made are known to the Heir as well as the why of them,” he looked around the room, seeing what people thought of the idea. It wasn’t one that he had come across himself. Wei Ying had been the one to suggest a council. But it was Jiang Cheng that thought it would be better if the Sect heirs worked on it instead. That way the Sect leaders would have to answer to their Heir, and it would give them a head start on learning how to negotiate things, diplomacy and how to handle Sect Duties. Jiang Cheng himself wished he had a guide into what he was doing. The lessons he had with his father just didn’t cover everything.
“I believe that it would be a good idea,” Nie Mingjue said, giving Nie Huaisang a glance. The young man was the Heir of the Nie Sect until such time as Nie Mingjue adopted or had a child through surrogacy.
“As do I,” Wen Ruohan added as he looked at Wen Qing, “I wonder if I had someone to answer to, that maybe Wen Xu would have realised that something was going on,” he added, a little quieter. The other Sect’s had been told of what had happened to Wen Ruohan and most of them were nodding along with him.
“Then a council shall be made of the Sect Heirs,” Lan Zhiqiang nodded in agreement, “To meet once every four months. They will be able to discuss the things that are going on in each Sect and Sect Territory. Looking for problems that are cropping up. While the discussion conferences remain in looking at the larger problems that the Heir Conference spots and we will also carry on trade and border issues as well, of course,” he added as he saw others nodding along with him.
Jin Guangshan seething nearby brought a lot of pleasure to a number of the Sect Leaders. Once again, the mad didn’t get what he really wanted.
“Now,” Nie Mingjue said, raising a cup, “I believe that this is a banquet and we should enjoy it to its fullest,” he said, “Sect Leader Jin, thank you for bringing us all together. Let’s make sure that the next generation is ready for what is to come,” he finished with a grin, knowing that his brother would be the one to learn what was needed after all. Until he had a child of his own that reached an acceptable age that was.
Jiang Cheng nodded and raised his cup as well. “You know you’re my heir at the moment Wuxian,” he murmured to his brother, delighting in the look on his face.
Wei Ying’s eyes just widened in horror, “Oh no,” he muttered, glaring at said brother for a moment, “You need to marry and have some kids. Or find a nice surrogate at the very least. I’m not going to be the heir at all,” he grumbled at him.
“You are until I do and they are of age. That means that you’ll have to attend them on my behalf until then. You might be marrying Lan Wangji, but you’ll remain as part of Lotus Pier,” he said, smirking a little behind his cup and sleeve as he drank the wine, enjoying the grumbling and whining that Wei Ying was doing as he too drank for the toast.
Meng Yao walked alongside Wei Ying and Nie Huaisang as the two of them complained about the fact that they would have to go to the Heir conference meetings. It was a good idea and it could help with a number of problems that often came up during the Discussion conference, most were things that could easily be taken care of earlier without the need for a full Sect Discussion Conference.
“I really hate that they came up with this,” Wei Ying said, grumbling a little more about his brother.
“You’re the one that suggested that they should form a council,” Nie Huaisang pointed out to him, glaring, “A-Ying, how could you do something like that!” he whined.
“I was thinking that it would be a good idea for the Sect Leaders to do so,” Wei Ying defended himself, “I didn’t know that Jiang Cheng would turn it around and suggest that the Heir’s take over that,” he grumbled, folding his arms in front of his chest defensively, “He did that himself and then he tells me that I’m his heir? How is that even possible,” he demanded to know, “I’m not a Jiang at all!”
“Sometimes one not of the Sect blood will take over. Doesn’t happen often. Lady Jiang would have been the Heir, or a child she would have, but since she is marrying a future Sect Leader, she can’t,” Meng Yao pointed out to him.
“I know,” he sighed heavily, “Hey, did you notice the kid running about?” he then asked, looking at the two sworn brothers.
“I did, I found out that his name is Mo Xuanyu, he’s around six years old,” Meng Yao sighed, “Another bastard like me, his mother was only a child of fifteen as well when she had him,” he muttered darkly, “But, Jin Guangshan has now taken him in. I think he was trying to show that he does care about those that he has fathered. But there is more than just me and Mo Xuanyu out there,” he shook his head, “I think I’m going to go and see A-Jue,” he said, looking at the two of them.
“I’ll go with you,” Nie Huaisang said softly, placing a hand on Meng Yao’s arm. He could see how much the situation with Mo Xuanyu was affecting his sworn brother.
Wei Ying nodded, “Go, I’ll head back myself,” he smiled at them. The two nodded and turned around to leave. He watched them as they walked away and decided to take the scenic route back to his rooms. He had seen the little boy around, he looked curious as to what was going on around him. He looked a little like Wei Ying had done when he was really young, it had thrown Wei Ying for a moment.
“You stupid filthy piece of shit!” came a yell from around the corner.
Wei Ying’s eyes went wide as he listened to the vitriol that was spewing from a woman’s mouth. He moved around the corner and saw the little six-year-old curled against the wall, cowering and covering his head, afraid of violence being inflicted upon him.
Madam Jin was standing over him, yelling at him, “Nothing but a worthless piece of shit, they should have just left you in the gutter where you were found. Should have remained there and died,” she spat.
Wei Ying couldn’t stand it anymore as he walked around the corner and pushed his way between the woman and the terrified child.
“I think you should stop,” Wei Ying snapped, his voice cold and hard as he glared at the woman, “You and Madam Yu are both so alike. I can see why you are sworn sisters, taking their frustrations out on innocent children instead of talking to people,” he sneered at her, “and before you can even think of turning that vile tongue of yours onto me, I would shut the fuck up. I can’t believe that you would do such a thing to a child. The language and words you were using,” he spat in disgust.
“And what would you care about such a thing? He is nothing but a waste of space and of resources. My son-”
“Your son doesn’t need to fear a child that has just been brought into the Sect. You had the chance of being a proper woman, a good woman and a mother. Instead, you turn your grievances onto a child that has done nothing wrong to you at all! The one that you should be lashing out at is that fucking husband of yours,” he growled at her, “He’s just a child, he hasn’t done anything,” he shook his head.
“I don’t want him here, I never wanted him or any of them here,” she spat, “He’s rubbing in my face the fact that he has more children out there, that he has bedded more women. All the time I see it in front of me and I hate it.”
“Then fucking go and do something about it. Castrate the bastard for all I care. But do something and don’t blame a child, they are innocent. They’ve never done anything to you,” he hissed at her as he looked over at the scared child. For a moment all he could see was himself and Madam Yu, how she would often do the same. Yelling at him, blaming him for the state of her own marriage instead of doing something about it. He closed his eyes for a second and willed the thoughts away. “I’m taking him to his brother, I doubt that he will let him remain with the Jin Sect when he hears. And that bastard husband of yours won’t have a leg to stand on when they find out how old his mother was when she had him either. And added on top of that with the way you have been treating him, no chance,” he told her as he turned and knelt, “Hi,” he smiled softly, “I’m Wei Wuxian, there is someone that I think you should meet. He’ll be happy to meet you, and I think you’ll like him,” he told him, “So I’m going to take you somewhere safe,” he added as he picked the child up and began to walk away.
“What do you mean by age?” she turned to stare after him as he walked away from her.
“She was only fifteen, a child herself. Ask yourself if she even gave consent to what happened to her,” he told her, eyes cold as he then turned and walked away. He would take little Mo Xuanyu to Meng Yao. He would know what to do with the child. Wei Ying didn’t want another child to remain with someone that would crush him with verbal abuse like that. Verbal abuse hurts just as much like a whip to the back after all. He smiled as Mo Xuanyu remained silent, almost scared, “It’ll be fine A-Yu,” he reassured him, “It will, I’ll make sure of that,” he promised him.
Meng Yao sighed as he looked down at the child that had been brought to him last night. He knelt in front of him, “A-Yu,” he smiled softly, “A-Jue is going to make sure that you will be able to come home with us when we leave here. Are you alright with that?” he asked him, cursing Wei Ying in his mind for dumping this one on him. But he could understand that his youngest sworn brother wouldn’t have been able to keep him safe. Not with Madam Yu around. She would no doubt side with her sworn sister after all.
Mo Xuanyu nodded, “Please, I… I don’t like it here,” he said, voice trembling as he looked down at the floor, “I… I want to see A-Niang, they didn’t let her come with me,” he added, finally looking up, large silver eyes looking at his half-brother. Meng Yao sighed, he could see the similarities that Wei Ying had mentioned, the eyes were very much like Wei Ying’s.
“I’ve already sent word for someone to get the Young Lady Mo from Mo Village,” Nie Mingjue said as he stood in the doorway and then strode across the room. “We’ll make sure that she will be able to meet you in your new home, so don’t worry,” he said, smiling a little at the child who was now looking wide-eyed at the Nie Sect Leader.
“Were you able to sort the matter out?” Meng Yao asked him, standing up.
“Of course, I was,” he snorted, “Though I did ask for Sect Leader Lan and Wei Wuxian to be there, so he could speak of what he saw. Madam Jin wasn’t happy with the mark against her character. But what did she expect when she was verbally abusing a child in the middle of a corridor that is used by guests,” he added with a roll of his eyes, “Sect Leader Jin wasn’t happy about it. Said something about trying to do right by his children.”
Meng Yao looked at him and smirked, “And what did our A-Ying have to say about that?” he asked, he knew the other would have said something, he wasn’t one to keep his mouth closed after all.
“That he should consider the ages of his victims,” Nie Mingjue said quietly, “Looks like he’s going to be in some trouble with the Jin elders with that as well. They aren’t happy to find out what else he has been doing,” he sighed, “But that will be decided internally I think,” he said as he patted Mo Xuanyu on the head, “Well, at least you’re going to be coming home with us. Now, we have to get ready for one last round of food and drink with the older bastard,” he muttered, causing Mo Xuanyu to laugh at the cursing.
“A-Jue, language,” Meng Yao admonished him, “And yes, though I think that this one should remain here with one of the guards. I don’t trust them,” he suggested, getting a nod of agreement from his husband to be. It was almost half an hour later that the two of them met up with Nie Huaisang and the members of the Jiang Sect before going into the banquet hall one last time. This would be the last day of things. Thankfully, the event was already in full swing. As they walked into the hall, they could already hear Jin Guangshan was going on about his son marrying well, and that the daughter of the Late Jiang Fengmian was the best choice for him.
Sitting down, Jiang Cheng and Wei Ying did their best to keep their tempers from exploding with the words.
“It would be a wonderful idea to reinstate the betrothal between my son and the young Jiang Yanli,” Jin Guangshan said as he turned towards the Jiang Sect Leader, “What say you, young Jiang Wanyin?” he asked.
Jiang Cheng clenched his jaw at the blatant disrespect that other was showing, “Sect Leader Jin,” he spat, “I would not let my sister marry your son for all the gold in your vaults and the walls of your tower.”
“Come, come now, there is no need for disrespect. Jiang Fengmian and I were great friends,” and this would be a good way to honour that friendship,” he said, shaking his head and dismissing the words that Jiang Cheng had spoken.
“You are daft and senile if you think that my father thought of you as a friend. He couldn’t stand you. He thought that you were nothing but a coward and a lecher. You have done some of the worst things to people, women especially. You’re nothing but a predator. One of the things my father told me of you was that you had no honour. You have never honoured anything if you could get out of it,” he sneered at the man, “And for your information Jin Guangshan,” he spat venomously, “You should refer to me as Sect Leader Jiang!” he added, eyes flashing as Zidian crackled around him.
“Sect Leader Jiang,” Jin Guangshan hissed a little as he glared at the seventeen-year-old, “You forget that you are still new to the politics of being a Sect Leader.”
“I may be new Sect Leader Jin,” he said pointedly, “But that doesn’t mean I’m stupid. My sister will not be marrying your Heir, ever,” he told him, “At least my father had honour. He honoured the vows that he took. To his sworn brother and to my mother. Never once did he forsake them. Even though My mother rejected his love and trust time and time again.”
Madam Yi couldn’t help but snort at those words, “He never loved me.”
“He did,” Jiang Cheng told her, shaking his head, “I read the notes on Zidian that the inventor wrote. It’s tied to the Core of the Sect Leader. When given by the Sect Leader to their love, their husband or wife. It will work for them and remain with them to protect them as long as the Sect Leader loves and trusts them. As soon as either is broken it will return to the Sect Leader,” he told her, his voice going soft. Madam Yu was quiet as she looked at her son, “I will show you them when we return home,” he added. She gave a solemn nod and remained quiet as Jiang Cheng turned back to Jin Guangshan.
“I still don’t see why you are refusing to reinitiate the matter of the betrothal between them?” Jin Guangshan asked once more.
“Have you been living under a rock?” someone called out.
“No, more like a slew of ladies,” someone else snorted, causing a few to laugh along with the statement.
Jin Guangshan went red in a mix of anger and embarrassment, “Quiet!” he yelled out.
“There is no lie,” someone else muttered, the wording sounding like someone from the Lan Sect had spoken this time. Though people went quiet afterwards in the face of Jin Guangshan’s anger.
Wen Ruohan looked at the irate man, “You are the one with the bad reputation, Sect Leader Jin. Everyone in the cultivation world knows of the dishonour you bring on yourself and your Sect,” he pointed out to the man, “Now, I believe that you were talking about a betrothal,” he asked as he waited for Jiang Cheng to answer the question, nodding to the young man.
“That’s right. Sect Leader Jiang, your sister and My son, my Heir would be a good match,” Jing Guangshan began once more, not letting Jiang Cheng answer.
Jiang Cheng refrained from rolling his eyes, but only just, “Your son was arrogant and dismissive of my sister during their betrothal. He upset her more times than I care to count. There will not be a betrothal between them as my sister is already betrothed to someone else of excellent standing and a gentleman as well,” he said, smiling at his sister. There was a bright smile on Jiang Yanli’s face as she nodded.
“May I?” Lan Xichen asked as he looked towards the Jiang’s. Receiving permission from both his father and Jiang Cheng he stood to make the announcement.
“Of course, you can,” Jiang Cheng smiled as he gestured slightly towards both his sister and brother.
Lan Xichen nodded in understanding, “It is with great honour that I can announce that Maiden Jiang Yanli and myself will be married in five months’ time. Invitation to the wedding in Cloud Recesses will be sent out within the month. But that is not all,” he said as he paused as people started to murmured and congratulate the two of them, “Thank you all for the good wishes, we are both very happy with the match,” he said with a bow, “But there is another announcement from the Lan Sect that also concerns the Jiang Sect,” he said with a smile.
“Oh?” Jin Guangshan said, narrowing his eyes as he stared at the young man. Though, mostly everyone was looking at the man as well.
“I am pleased to announce that my younger brother, Lan Wangji and the Head Disciples and Current Sect Heir of Lotus Pier, Wei Wuxian,” he said, smirking as Wei Ying huffed loudly in annoyance at the title, “have been betrothed for a while. We have finally set a date for the two of them to marry in a year’s time. They are to marry at Lotus Pier.” That had been the deal since Jiang Yanli and Lan Xichen would be marrying in Cloud Recesses. Jiang Cheng had insisted that at least one of his siblings would be married at Lotus Pier.
“Many congratulations, to the Jiang Sect and Lan Sect on such good matches,” Nie Mingjue toasted the two coupes, “And to add an announcement, my own marriage to Meng Yao, my trusted advisor and friend of several years, will be coming up in nine months,” he smiled at his husband to be, who smiled back warmly.
“Three weddings in such quick succession?” Sect Leader Yao asked, looking between the three large Sects.
“Yes,” Nie Mingjue nodded, “Three. Though I have to say that my younger brother and his sworn siblings have taken on most of the planning of all three of them, with input from each couple,” he added, looking with pride at his brothers, Meng Yao and Wei Ying.
“These will be some of the very best weddings in the cultivation world and will be spoken of for centuries to come,” someone said, raising a cup to the three couples. Others did the same as Jin Guangshan had no choice but to do so as well. His plan on trying to regain some of the respect within the cultivation world had failed once more. He had believed getting his son married to one of the Sects that had taken part in the fighting would help, but it had failed even before he could implement it.
Wei Ying and Lan Zhan were spending a little time together before they would have to separate once more. They would be leaving Koi Tower that afternoon, along with many of the other Sect’s. “I wish you were able to come back to Lotus Pier for a bit,” Wei Ying sighed, leaning his head against Lan Zhan’s shoulder as they walked closely.
“Mn,” Lan Zhan agreed as they stopped, hearing the screaming of a baby. The two rushed towards the sound, seeing the formed Wen Sect Leader as he paced and rocked a crying baby in his arms.
“Elder Wen,” Lan Zhan and Wei Ying greeted him as he turned to face the two that had walked into the small courtyard.
“Young Master Wei, Second Young Master Lan,” he said with a tired smile, “Please excuse all the crying. He is agitated again,” he murmured, once more trying to calm the baby down.
“Oh,” Wei Ying said, “can I hold him, you can take a little break?” he asked, the baby was only a couple of months old.
Wen Ruohan looked at the two of them, “I doubt he’ll stop screaming,” he murmured as he handed over the baby to Wei Ying. “He’s just over three months old now, and he cries a lot,” he sighed, wondering if it was because the baby knew that his parents were both gone.
“Your grandson?” Lan Zhan asked, getting a nod.
Wei Ying nodded as he looked down at the screaming baby, “Hey, it’s okay little one,” he said, rubbing and patting his back as he rocked him in his arms, “It’s okay,” he murmured as he carried on, walking a little around the yard. Wen Ruohan watched as the young seventeen-year-old was able to get the child to calm down, “There, that’s better, isn’t it,” Wei Ying smiled, tapping the little baby on the nose, “Now, what was all that screaming for, hmm?” he queried, “Has he had something eat? Changed and been bathed?” he asked as he looked at Wen Ruohan for answers.
“Yes, to all of those things. I brought him out here as he was screaming so loudly inside. I thought that he might like the change and be outside,” he answered, “A-Xu and Chao-er were always screaming a lot when they were babies. But they would at least stop after a little while. A-Yuan doesn’t,” he sighed, frowning as he looked at his grandson. he just didn’t know what he should do, his wife had been the one that would always be able to calm their children down when they were babies. And when he had taken in Wen Ning, who had been a baby, he had been a quiet child, rarely crying for anything.
“I learned that sometimes babies can sense when those that are looking after them are stressed and upset,” Wei Ying said carefully as he looked at the older man, “You’re finally about to be yourself and now you’re looking after your grandson. It might be that he can sense that you’re still upset with all that has happened,” he suggested.
“It… could be,” Wen Ruohan sighed as he walked over, “He is a sweet child with most people. But with me, he does scream and cry a lot more. A-Qing and A-Ning are both so busy with the Sect that they can’t take care of him, and I don’t want to push that on them either. I don’t really trust many people to watch over him, thanks to what has happened,” he added.
“I don’t mind watching over him for a bit now if you want to go and rest. I promised you Elder Wen, that I will keep him safe and he shall be returned to you as soon as you’ve rested a while,” Wei Ying said, “You look really tired, and you’ve brought his things out here. So, we’ll even remain here and watch him. It’s still warm. Take a little time and we’ll look after him well,” he added as he got a nod of agreement from Lan Zhan.
“We’ll look after him,” Lan Zhan repeated.
Wen Ruohan hesitated for a moment but knew that the two had done their all to help keep the child safe. And for Wen Ning and Wen Qing to be safe as well. They had also helped to save his Sect and his life in the end. He nodded, “I thank you both, I shall take an hour, so I will be back soon, I do not wish to impose on you both longer than that.”
“Take your time, we don’t mind,” Wei Ying smiled as he then went over to the shaded area under a tree and settled down.
Wen Ruohan watched them for a few moments and then left. Returning to his grandson an hour later as he had promised. He felt a lot better after that one hour than he had for a few days. He stood there and watched the two young men as they looked after Wen Yuan and smiled. They treated him well, talking to him, telling him things while he lay awake in their arms. He also saw the disappointment on their faces as he took his grandson back so they could get ready to leave and head back to Qishan.
Wen Ruohan had taken to visiting the Lan Sect or the Jiang Sect not long after returning to Qishan. He wanted to get to know the two teenagers that had looked after Wen Yuan for a bit. He trusted them, they were two of the four people he knew he could trust his grandson with. He had also brought the little baby to the two weddings that had taken place over the last several months as well. Each time, Wen Yuan had been greeted by Wei Ying and Lan Zhan, both of them eager to whisk the little baby away as soon as the evening came so they could look after him for a while. This time, his visit was for a very different reason. With only a month to go until Wei Ying and Lan Zhan were to marry, he wanted to ask them something. His now one-year-old grandson was excited about seeing the two men.
Wen Ruohan looked around Lotus Pier as he was guided to where the two young men were spending their day. He had been told by them that they were spending a few days at Lotus Pier together before they would be separated until their wedding. He had been talking with Wen Qing about matters for a while, and both of them had agreed that what he was planning to do was a good idea, and the right one.
“Elder Wen,” Wei Ying looked up and smiled at the man as he walked onto the floating pavilion that they were settled on that day. “Please, join us for some tea, and do I spy a little A-Yuan?” he grinned as Wen Ruohan put the toddler down so he could walk, with unsteady legs, over to the two.
“He’s walking?!” Wei Ying exclaimed, eyes wide and happy as he glanced at Lan Zhan for a second, as Wen Yuan made it over to them and almost falling into Wei Ying’s arms, giggling as he was cuddles and kissed repeatedly, “Such a clever little boy,” he praised him.
“Mn, very,” Lan Zhan added as he gave the toddler a small smile, running a hand over his head and back.
“Wen Ruohan watched them for a while as he sat down. It wasn’t until they had been there for almost ten minutes when Wen Yuan yelled out a happy, “Baba!” as he reached towards Wei Ying.
“What?” the eighteen-year-old exclaimed, eyes wide as he looked from the child to Wen Ruohan, “How? Why?” he asked.
“He calls you baba,” Wen Ruohan said, a sad smile on his face, “I’m too old for being a father these days. Those days are long behind me. I don’t think I was the best of one either,” he added with a heavy sigh, “He loves the two of you very much. A-Qing and I were talking about it. While he has a pace in the Wen Sect, and always will. He needs parents, true parents. And since the day that you took him from me so I could rest for that hour, you have been that to him. And I hate his tears when I have to take him back.”
“Yes, but-” Wei Ying said, shaking his head as Wen Yuan played with his Jiang Clarity Bell.
“We’re in agreement, that the day that the two of you are to marry, you may, if you both wish to, adopt A-Yuan. You both love him and adore him. And he deserves a whole family. And I know that he could have that with the both of you. But… you need to take some time to talk about this, discuss if you wish to be parents now. You are both still so very young after all,” he pointed out to the two of them before they could answer him.
“We’ve talked about such things already,” Lan Zhan spoke quietly as he glanced up from what Wen Yuan was doing.
“Oh, you have?” Wen Ruohan asked, a little frown on his face.
“Yes,” Wei Ying nodded, smiling happily, “Looking after A-Yuan has made the two of us realise that we would like to be parents. I know that we’re really young, as I only just turned eighteen a couple of months ago. But we love watching over him, and each time you let us have him for a few days, things just feel… right,” he said as he glanced over at Lan Zhan.
“Mn,” Lan Zhan nodded, as he took the toddler that was now reaching out for him, “A-Yuan is… family,” he said quickly, setting the child onto his lap and letting him play with the end of his ribbon.
Wen Ruohan nodded, “Then he shall be your family. But,” he began, as he looked at the two more seriously this time, “I want to make sure that you will let me come and visit him. He is my grandson and I do love him. I just know that I’m not fully fit to take care of him. I’m still recovering from what happened, even though it’s been a year,” he admitted with a sigh.
“Of course, you can come and see him, right Lan Zhan?” Wei Ying said as he turned to his husband to be.
“Mn,” Lan Zhan nodded, watching as Wen Yuan started to chew on the end of his forehead ribbon now, “He is family to all,” he said, glancing at Wen Ruohan for a moment.
“Thank you,” he smiled, bowing to the both of them, “I know that A-Yuan will be very happy with the two of you,” he added, “and you are welcome to change his name when you adopt him. In his heart, he will always be a Wen, but he should carry one of your names.”
“Keep Yuan, should become a Wei,” Lan Zhan nodded.
“No, it should be Lan,” Wei Ying argued back, shaking his head.
“Wei, Wei Ying is the only Wei left, should be Wei,” Lan Zhan returned just as easily.
Wen Ruohan watched the two of them as they playfully argued with each other. Smiles on their faces. For a moment the former Wen Sect Leader was reminded of his wife and he wondered if she would be happy about the two of them adopting their grandchild. He would love nothing more than to keep A-Yuan with him, but as he told the two. He was still recovering from the ordeal he had been through since his beloved wife’s death.
Wen Yuan, soon to be Lan Yuan, much to Lan Zhan’s disappointment, clapped as he watched his adoptive parents get married. Sitting in his grandfather’s lap he was happy and excited by all that was going on around him. The red decorations in the hall caught his eyes all the time. As his parents walked over to him and picked him up the purple man walked over to them so they could speak.
“Little Lan,” Jiang Cheng greeted the toddler as he tapped him on the nose. He pulled something out of his robe and handed over a Jiang Clarity bell to Wei Ying and then another one to Lan Zhan, “Welcome to the family,” he smiled, happy for his brother. His sister had already shared the news that she had found out she was pregnant a few hours before the wedding had started.
“Thank you,” Lan Zhan nodded as he took the Bell and hung it next to his Jade Token on his belt.
“Pity I couldn’t get you to name him Jiang, would have saved me some trouble and headaches,” Jiang Cheng grumbled. When the two of them had told him about adopting A-Yuan, he had suggested the Jiang as a family name. Since Wei Ying was his current heir. Lan Yuan was now the next heir after Wei Ying.
“Why?” Lan Zhan asked him, the man had given no reason for his request.
“I don’t know if I want to marry anyone,” he admitted quietly, “I’m just… not interested in that,” he sighed and shrugged a little as he looked at his brother and brother in law.
“Maybe you’ll find someone. Or you’ll find a child that you’ll want to adopt. There are plenty of orphans out there that could do with a good family. And I know that you’d make a great dad,” Wei Ying told him, smiling as he looked at his brother, reassuring him that everything will work out.
“Yeah,” Jiang Cheng nodded, smiling, “But, don’t be surprised if I never marry,” he added.
“I won’t,” Wei Ying laughed brightly.
“Brother,” Lan Zhan greeted Lan Xichen as he walked over with Jiang Yanli. The new Madam Lan fit in well with the Lans, she was calm and quiet for the most part. Though she had butted heads with Lan Qiren on the discipline of children. In the end, the Elders and Lan Qiren had to step aside and defer to her when Lan Zhiqiang had agreed with her.
“Xichen-ge,” Wei Ying grinned at him, “You better be treating Shijie like a queen,” he warned him.
“Of course,” he smiled, glancing at his wife. She wasn’t really showing yet, but people were already aware that another heir to the Lan Sect was to be born by the end of the year if all went well. And with Wen Qing insisting on helping, they knew it would.
“The Jin are trying to cause trouble,” Jiang Yanli said quietly as she wiggled her fingers at Lan Yuan, who was reaching out to try and grab them.
“Yeah. Jin Zixuan keeps staring at Shijie and Jin Guangshan keeps glaring at people,” Wei Ying rolled his eyes at the jealous behaviour that the Jin Sect had been showing since they had arrived for the wedding.
They had done the same with the last two weddings of his siblings as well. Shijie’s wedding had gone perfectly. It was beautiful and elegant and truly fit the couple. Jin Zixuan and his father had been the only annoyances during the whole thing, though they had easily been taken care of with a few well-timed silencing spells to make sure that they couldn’t cause a scene. Lan Qiren had delighted in being the one in charge of keeping them under control. Meng Yao’s marriage to Nie Mingjue had been epic. It was large, loud and boisterous. The feast was divine as was the drink on offer. Only Jin Guangshan had been trying to cause trouble at that time. Mainly trying to get people to turn against Meng Yao and thus the marriage of the Nie Sect Leader. Now with Wei Ying and Lan Zhan’s marriage almost a year since the man had tried to get his son to marry Jiang Yanli, the man was once more trying to turn the world against people.
“Oh, that bastard is really getting on my nerves,” Nie Huaisang growled as he walked over to them.
“Which one, there are a few of them here?” Meng Yao said as he walked alongside him. Nie Mingjue was busy talking with one of the smaller Sect Leaders and Wen Ning about a hunt they wanted to do together.
“Jin Zixun,” he grumbled, “He keeps making all kinds of… accusations against people. Telling each person that he comes across that they’ve done some sort of slight against him. Told me that I’d offended him. I just walked away, now that was offensive,” he snorted as he reached Wek Ying and draped himself all over his youngest sworn brother, “A-Ying, save me,” he grumbled.
“What have you done?” Wei Ying asked quickly as he glanced down at his sworn brother.
“Nothing… yet,” he said, “Though if you have something that I can use against Jin Zixun, I would be very happy,” he grinned at him.
Wei Ying rolled his eyes, “No,” he told him firmly, “Not at my wedding, we can fuck him up later,” he added, shaking his head as he leaned against Lan Zhan’s shoulder.
“How dare you walk away from me, but then again, being friends with all these cut sleeves and a Sect Leader that has no idea of what he should be doing. Of course, you would dare,” came a snide voice as they walked up behind the group as they stood outside, enjoying the fresh air.
“Really,” Jiang Cheng said, eyes narrowing as he turned to stare at the young man, “Jin Zixun,” he began, now glaring, “At this moment in time you are a guest of my Sect. So, I would ask that you remember that and to remember exactly where you are. One false move and I will turn you out on your arse,” he growled a warning, “And I will not take kindly to having my brother and his new husband maligned by you.”
“I am the Second Heir of the Jin Sect,” he sneered, looking down on those that were gathered, “I-”
“You will do nothing,” Jiang Cheng said, interrupting him, “You’re nothing but a puffed-up coward. You may have gotten off in killing that man, but only just. One wrong move and I know that someone is going to end up doing something to get back at you,” he warned him, “Nobody likes an idiot after all. And especially not a bullying idiot.”
“I can do as I please, I’m a Jin, we are the-” he began only to be cut off as Zidian quickly wound around him and he was tossed through the air. The scream that he gave garnered the attention of the guests who quickly came out to see him splash down into the waters around the Pier.
“Cool off and then get your fucking ass out of Lotus Pier, you are no longer welcome in any of the lands that Belong to Yunmeng Jiang!” Jiang Cheng said, eyes narrowed as he glared at the young man that was now coming to the surface, “Anyone else that wishes to insult those of Yunmeng Jiang and it’s Heir are welcomed to cool down in the lakes and then fuck off!” he yelled out, as he glanced around at the crowd, “This is a wedding, my brothers and I will not have it ruined by petty idiots who think they are the king of the world when they are nothing more than dirt under my boot!” he warned as he then ordered a few disciples to escort Jin Zixun to his room to gather his things before tossing him out of Lotus Pier.
Wei Ying smiled and then laughed brightly for a moment before he turned to face Lan Zhan, “Hey Lan Zhan,” he said, getting his new husband’s attention.
“Wei Ying,” he smiled slightly as he looked down, poking Lan Yuan’s cheek as he was held in Wei Ying’s arms.
“Lan Zhan, I like you. Or rather, I love you and adore you. It can’t be anyone else but you. I want to spend every day with you, sleep with you, Night Hunt with you, always,” Wei Ying said shamelessly.
Lan Zhan smiled beautifully at Wei Ying, “Love Wei Ying, can be no other than Wei Ying. Will be by your side every day, with our A-Yuan,” he said, leaning closer and kissing him lightly on the lips. Causing Lan Yuan to clap and giggle happily before placing a wet kiss on his nthe ew parent’s cheeks.