The Four Y’s – 4/6 – duochanfan

Title: The Four Y’s
Author: duochanfan
Fandom: The Untamed/Mo Dao Zu Shi
Genre: Action Adventure, Drama, Family, Hurt/Comfort, Kid!fic, Pre-Relationship, Slash
Relationship(s): Nie Mingjue/Meng Yao, others
Content Rating: NC-17
Warnings: Hate Crimes/Hate Speech, Incest, Major Character Death, Slavery, Torture, Violence – Graphic, Violence – Domestic and/or Against Children, Dark Themes, Abuse Child, Abuse Domestic, Adultery, Death Minor Character, Discussion – Child Abuse, Discussion – Domestic Violence, Discussion – Murder, Discussion – Rape, Discussion Sexual Abuse, Discussion Torture, Disturbing Imagery, Violence Canon Level, Rape Off Screen, Murder
Beta: Arete
Word Count: 151,000
Summary: Wei Ying is once against being berated by Madam Yu, instead of taking it and watching as his brother is verbally lashed, he stands up to her. Not wanting to see his brother hurt by his own mother again. The woman turns on him and drives Wei Ying from the Jiang Sect he starts to travel around the Cultivation World, picking up a few people on the way to add to his own misfit little family. His hope as he travels is to find a home for himself and those he now claims as family.
Artist: SpencnerTibbsLuvr



Chapter Thirty-One

Meng Yao returned to his rooms and went to where he had put some of his things away. He looked at the letter that was sitting innocently on the top. Seeing the edge of his robes, he sighed, he looked too much like a member of the Nie Sect with what he was wearing. Leaving the letter for a moment he grabbed something plain to wear instead. He rushed to change and headed towards the door, picking up the letter as he went.

“A-Yao!” Nie Mingjue called out as he almost ran into the man as he entered the room. He had finally had enough of the banquet and left. Only Sect Leader Yao had remained behind and was talking with Jin Guangshan.

“Ah, Mingjue,” he smiled, having had to jump back to avoid being hit. He brushed down his robes a little self-conscious at being in such again. These were more like what he had worn when he was travelling with Wei Ying.

“Are you going somewhere?” he asked, frowning at him.

“I’m going to see about trying to drop off the letter with the Jiang Sect. I don’t want to leave it too long to do so. I’ve also got some news about what’s been going on at Lotus Pier that I can pass on to A-Ying,” he smiled, “He’ll be happy to know that Madam Yu has been confined and that she won’t be able to do anything to the other disciples or even to her children. Not that they are considering her their mother anymore,” he snorted. He felt that thrill of justice at what was going on within the Jiang Sect. Though it was still too little too late in this case.

Nie Mingjue watched him, a little frown on his face at how gleeful Meng Yao seemed to be at that news. “It’s… like you enjoy their misfortune,” he murmured.

Meng Yao sighed as he turned to him, “I don’t. Not for Jiang Wanyin, Jiang Yanli or even for Sect Leader Jiang. They’ve lost Wei Ying. But they also lost someone that they thought they could trust and love. I enjoy the fact that she is no longer able to live freely. You’re not the one that hears his nightmares sometimes. Where he is begging her to stop. Where it is called for her to leave even her own son alone. They might just be fragments of dreams, but they are based on something that actually happened to him,” he told him, shaking his head, “I do have a side of me that most will never see, that I hope you will never see,” he added, sighing heavily. “I’ve lived a hard life, Sect leader Nie. I’ve seen the type of things one human can do to another. It’s even worse than what the demons, yao and beats that you fight can do. Because they don’t just break the body, they can break the mind and the spirit. Leaving someone a shell of who they once were,” he said quietly.

“I know of them,” he said, hinting at some of the things that he had to deal with as a Sect Leader, sitting to judge those that bring problems to him instead of local courts.

“You may think you do, but you’ve never had to live with the effects of such things. Of being cornered and touched when you are too young to even know what it means. Being left alone with no one and nothing to help you keep living. The three of us have had to deal with many things. not one of the Clans would even think. Even Xue Yang, as young as he is, had to deal with that. Why do you think he reacts the way he does when either I or Wei Wuxian have to leave him for more than a few hours. He’s terrified that he’s going to be left alone, cold and hungry again,” he shook his head, “Sometimes, you have to do things that you’re not proud of just to make sure you live to see another sunrise.”

Nie Mingjue looked at him, seeing the fear of rejection in his eyes. He sighed and walked over to him. “I may not like some of what you’ve done. But I will leave it where it belongs. In the past. You can tell me when you’re ready for me to know. I promised you, I won’t hold it against you. Or even against them,” he said as he wrapped his arms around the young man and held him.

“Thank you,” Meng Yao mumbled, “Thank you,” he repeated. That fear that someone knowing that side of him was always there. He knew that it was the same for Wei Ying as well. Since he had only ever told Jiang Fengmian a little of some of the things that had happened while he lived on the streets of Yiling.

The two remained like that for a while longer before Meng Yao finally moved away from him, “Right, I really need to get going and get this letter to them,” he said as he walked towards the door.

Nie Mingjue nodded, “I’ll walk with you part of the way,” he said as he then went over to the door and opened it. The two of them walked out. Nie Mingjue told him that he had found out where the Jiang Sect were staying. It wasn’t that far but it was far enough that they would have privacy between the main Sects. Meng Yao walked beside him, looking different with the lighter robes. They almost blended in with the surroundings since they were a cream colour. His hair was still held by his hairpiece and braids. Not having thought to take them out at all.

“Right, it’s just down there,” Nie Mingjue said as he gestured towards the doors that were further down.

“Thank you,” he nodded, a smile on his face as he began to walk alone. It took him a few minutes to reach the door. He knew that he was completely out of sight of the Nie Sect Leader, but he didn’t care. He was safe as far as he was concerned. He knelt, pushing the letter under the door and quickly getting up. Rushing away as he didn’t wish to be caught at all. He was almost back to where the Nie Sect Leader was waiting for him when he heard someone approach him from an adjoining corridor.

“Madam Jin,” he bowed politely to the woman as she stared at him.

“How dare someone like you show their face in my home,” she hissed, taking a step towards him. “Nothing but a bastard and a son of a whore. Don’t think I don’t know your own of his little bastards that keep popping up,” she sneered at him, glaring with a fiery hatred at the young teenager before her.

Meng Yao stared at her, not having thought that she would actually come up to him and speak with him, or rather, to shout at him. “Madam Jin, I’m not here for your Sect or for anyone here,” he told her, shaking his head, “And I ask that you leave my mother in peace. She has been gone for almost a year now,” he told her, “And I will not have someone speak ill of someone that cannot defend themselves. Though maybe you should have a talk with your husband. Since he paid my mother to have me,” he added as he began to turn around and head back to where he knew Nie Mingjue was waiting for him.

“How dare you imply such a thing!” she yelled at him, “No doubt that you’re here to try and curry favour with the Jin Sect Leader, maybe even become part of this Sect. My own son w-”

“I don’t care about your son. Oh, and did you know, that you son and I were born on the very same day,” he sorted, “he was buying a child when he was getting you pregnant as well,” he told her, shaking his head, “I think you really need to take a look at what your husband is doing when you’re not looking at him and watching him.”

“How dare you, you you…”

“Son of a whore, I’ve heard that before. I don’t care what you call me. I’m not here to meet with the bastard that sired me. He wasn’t even a father. The last time I saw him I was four years old and he threw me from the room so he could sleep with my mother again. He promised us both that he would set us free and find a home for us. That we would be able to live freely, instead he never came back. Too busy bedding the next woman he found to wet his disgusting appetite,” he told her, “Why would I want to be here when I have a home and a family that I care about. There is nothing for me here in a pit of vipers,” he finished, breathing hard at how he was ranting.

“Of course, that is why you’re here. That’s all you bastards want is money, fame, prestige or to join the Sect to give you some clout,” she snapped at him.

Meng Yao closed his eyes, taking a breath to try and calm himself, “I don’t. I have a home with the Nie Sect. I’m happy there with a family that I’ve come to love. I make a decent living there as well,” he told her. “What more would I want or even need? Fame? No thank you. Money? I can earn that myself. Clout? I’m an advisor to the Nie Sect Leader. Prestige? I will earn that through my own merit and not because I have a father,” he spat the last word out with as much venom against the man as he possessed, “that has done nothing for me but buy me into life. I am nothing to him, and since he didn’t come back, he no longer owns my life,” he said, smirking at her, “If he had, the contract would have remained in play. But as soon as he was away for more than two years, it became void.”

“Co… contract?” she stammered, eyes wide at the implications.

Meng Yao couldn’t believe the naivety of the woman, surely, she would know that because a baby that was brought as he was, that there would be such a thing in place. “Yes, a contract. I still have it in case he tries to use it against me. Saying that he owns me, it won’t work. I’ve gone through it so many times. Found out exactly what he owes me for abandoning me and my mother as he did. If I ever come after him, it would be for the money that is owed through that. But as I said, I don’t want anything to do with him, you or anyone from the Jin Sect unless it’s in my capacity as advisor to Sect Leader Nie.”

Madam Jin actually looked at the young man before her. Seeing the similarities between him and her own son. But instead of the softness born from living in luxury, there was a hardness in his eyes and demeanour, someone that only came from having lived a hard life. Then she looked at his face, the resemblance to his father was there, but it wasn’t strong like her own child. There was a softness, a curve to him that must have belonged to his mother.

“Madam Jin,” he said, his voice was cold as he then bowed, “I shall be taking my leave. I hope that you have a… pleasant evening,” he told her. He had no hard feelings against the woman. He just didn’t care about her. She meant nothing to him. She may be a stepmother in a sense. But this was the first time he had met her, and he hadn’t been impressed with her behaviour.

“Oh,” she blinked as she noticed something more about him. She may not have been a Nie, but like most of those that lived in the upper tier of each Sect. They would all recognise what he was wearing. “You… you’re being courted,” she said as he started to walk away.

Meng Yao remained frozen to the spot for a moment. Seeing that her eyes had travelled to his head. “Courtship,” he murmured wondering for a moment what the hell she had been on about. His eyes began to widen as he realised what she had been looking at. He reached up to the hairpiece and to the braids that Nie Mingjue himself had taught him to do.

Meng Yao thought back, and he remembered that as soon as he started wearing both of them, the people of the Nie Sect started to treat him differently. They listened to him, they talked to him. No one wanted to go against him. They even helped him with some of the tasks that he had been given. And then there was Nie Huaisang, the young teenager, a year older than Wei Ying, who had gone up to him several times. Just looking at them and giggling as he started to call him Yao-ge. He turned to where he knew that the Nie Sect Leader was waiting for him. He began to walk over, ignoring the woman behind him, he hoped that he would be able to get a few answers from him over this. He wasn’t about to let this matter drop without one.

Chapter Thirty-Two

Meng Yao turned the corner and there was the Nie Sect Leader, looking somewhat pale and worried. “I believe that you have some explaining to do,” he told him, eyes narrowed as he glared.

“Oh, erm, yes I do,” he nodded furiously, “Come, we should retire to your rooms. We can talk in peace there without the worry that everyone will be able to overhear us,” he added, becoming even more worried when he saw the annoyance on the young man’s face. The teen was seventeen now, and while cultivators often waited a while longer to get married, Meng Yao didn’t start life as a cultivator. He was a civilian, he knew that those his age were already looking at their prospects of finding a partner.

“Yes,” he nodded, agreeing. He didn’t want the world to hear what he was going to be saying to the Nie Sect Leader. He was also suddenly glad that Wei Ying had given him some silencing talismans to take with him. This way, no one would be able to hear at all.

Nie Mingjue led the way to their room, keeping quiet as he gave Meng Yao a few worried glances as he saw the closed-off look the younger had on his face. He opened the door and let Meng Yao enter first. He watched with a heavy heart as Meng Yao went straight over to his things. The man thought that he was going to be packing them away and leaving, before they even had a chance to talk, “A-Yao,” he called out to him.

Meng Yao turned, a few talismans in his hands. He threw them up into the air and using a small burst of qi he caused them to fly around the room, attaching themselves to the walls and doors. Activating themselves. “There, now no one is going to be able to hear what we have to say. No matter how loud we may get,” he added, as he stood there, arms now crossed over his chest as he waited for Nie Mingjue to make a start on his excuses for what he had done.

Nie Mingjue stood and stared at him for a few moments. Hoping that the younger would say something first. But Meng Yao remained silent and waiting, “I… I-” he began but couldn’t and didn’t know how to continue.

“What did she mean by courtship?” he asked him bluntly, “The hairpiece? The braids?” he asked him, tapping them both with his fingertips.

Nie Mingjue nodded, “Yes,” he managed to get out, sighing and slumping a little where he stood. “When you first arrived and you came to talk to me about Wei Wuxian. It was… a breath of fresh air. There was no fear from you at all. Most fear me because they are worried, I’ll be like my father and Qi Deviate soon. You also, you… didn’t look at me as Sect Leader, you looked at me as a person. You are fun to talk to as well. Even when we’re in the middle of doing some work, you’ll make a comment on something in that snarky little tone of you and I struggle to keep a straight face,” he told him, smiling slightly, “I… started to like you and I just wanted people to know that you… you had become someone special to me,” he finished.

“And why didn’t you just tell me that? Do you… do you even know how much I’ve struggled to keep a distance from you when you’re inviting me to go to the town with you? Even when we’re eating lunch together while we work. It’s hard. I…” he trailed off giving a frustrated growl and huff.

“You mean so much to me Meng Yao,” he said, straightening up, “And I should have done this properly,” he added as he walked over to him, “Meng Yao, would you do the honour of accepting my courtship?” he asked him, sounding a little more formal than usual.

Meng Yao looked shocked, eyes wide as he stared at the man, “But… Sect Leader, you… you could do so much better than I. I’m just the bastard son of an idiot cultivator and a prostitute. I only just about own my own life thanks to his mistakes,” he added, shaking his head.

“I know, I heard you,” he smiled softly, two little dimples making an appearance and it took all Meng Yao had to stop himself from reaching out and poking them, “I heard what you told Madam Jin, and I would like to look at it as well, to make sure that he can’t do anything against you,” he added, hoping that Meng Yao would let him.

“Okay,” he nodded slowly, “I’ll let you have a look,” he sighed, feeling as though it would be a mistake.

“I told you, Meng Yao. I told you, that I won’t run away from you,” he said, wrapping his arms around him.

“I’m a nobody, people will be… they just won’t like it,” he warned him, “You know that they won’t. Maybe those in Qinghe will be fine with it. As they’ve got to know me. But places like here, they… they might not be able to accept it,” he added, fearful of bringing the Nie Sect down with his own reputation and the circumstances of his birth.

“Don’t forget that as a Contract Child, like you, you should have been taken along with your mother within the first year of life to a safe house at the very least. Where you would have lived. By not doing that, Jin Guangshan not only broke the contract with your mother, but he also ruined his own image into that of an uncaring and unreliable person. If people learn of what he has done to you, he could easily face the consequences of it. He could lose trade with other Sects, he loses face for the Jin Sect and could even be taken from his position of Sect Leader. It would reflect badly on him. Not you. Having that contract with you protects you from any repercussions. Since Madam Jin now knows as well,” he smirked, “They won’t be able to do anything against you,” he told him, “You truly are free. He can’t claim you as anything anymore.”

“I hope you’re right, I don’t want to be taken by him, or any of them at all. I want nothing to do with the Jin Sect,” he said, shaking his head as he was held safely in Nie Mingjue’s arms.

“As long as I get the chance to court and marry you, I don’t care about your past. You’re Meng Yao, my advisor, one of my trusted, and my friend. And one day, I hope that you will be my husband, to rule the Sect beside me,” he added gently.

Meng Yao moved back and looked up at him, “I… I would like that,” he smiled weakly, “I really would. Though next time you do something like this you had better tell me what the fuck you are doing. Or the pranks that Wei Ying and Xue Yang pull won’t hold a fucking candle to what I’ll be doing to you,” he growled in warning at the man.

Nie Mingjue nodded, “I won’t… I mean… I will,” he laughed, “And thank you. For letting me tell you properly and for agreeing to it. Now, I hope you don’t mind that each morning that we’re here, that I’ll be the one to braid your hair again. I… I liked doing so when I was teaching you,” he murmured, slightly embarrassed to ask.

Meng Yao nodded, “I would like that,” he gave a shy smile, “I’d really like that.”

“May I brush them out? And put your hair into something for tonight?” he asked him, looking down at him. There was a gentle look in the Sect Leaders eyes and Meng Yao couldn’t help but smile.

“Okay,” he said, as he was guided to the table and settled down in front of it. Nie Mingjue reached over to get the comb that had been left on another and the oils that he had brought for Meng Yao and was hoping to gift them to him at some point during their stay.

Nie Mingjue settled behind him, undoing the hairpiece and slowly undoing the braids with gentle hands. So gentle that Meng Yao could barely feel them as they went through his hair.

XxXxX

Madam Jin paced back and forth in her room. The young man that had come in with the Nie Sect leader could ruin a lot of things if what he was saying was true. Was her husband so foolish as to buy a child? To pay a woman to have a child with him? Part of her hoped not, but the other was saying that, yes, he was the type to be that stupid. But why? Why would he have a child outside of the Sect? And how many of the children that were out there were also bought? A chill ran through her at the thought of him and others coming forward. As a bought child he would have the legitimacy to his name. Even if Jin Guangshan hadn’t collected him as promised, or broke the contract in any way, he would have something.

She needed to speak with her husband. If this Meng Yao had really been born on the same day, he could come into the Sect. There could be a chance that he would be able to stand against her son in becoming the next Sect Leader of the Jin Sect. She wouldn’t stand for that, she needed to make sure that it would never happen. That her son would be the next leader.

Madam Jin stormed out of her room, ignoring the looks from some of those that were around as she headed to the Sect Leader’s room. Rooms that if they had been a proper married couple that would have shared together. But after Jin Zixuan had turned one, she had realised that the man would never love her, instead, he preferred the company of whores and women that he would seduce. She learned that the hard way. By walking in on him with a whore in their marital bed that he had brought back to their rooms. She had moved out that very day. Never stepping into them again, until now.

Madam Jin threw open the doors, using some Qi to make them slam into the walls on either side of the door as they swung open. She glared at the two women that were in the bed with her husband, “Out, now!” she demanded.

“Madam Jin,” in Guangshan said as he got up, no shame as he didn’t even bother to cover himself.

“Out!” she yelled once more as the two women hesitated in doing so. “Do so now or I will have you throw into a cell, naked as you are!” she continued. Her own Qi was flaring and the sword that was set on her waist was beginning to react to the amount she was putting out, “And if you don’t want to lose that dick of yours, then you will cover the fuck up!” she then growled at her husband.

Jin Guangshan looked at his wife. It had been a long time since he had seen her this angry. Not since the time she had walked in on him, not long after their son had been born. He quickly grabbed a robe, putting it on as the two women grabbed their clothes and ran. They were in fear of their lives with the way Madam Jin’s Qi was flaring out towards them and her husband.

“I want to know how many you have bought?” she demanded as she stalked towards him, her sword flying out of its sheath and aiming straight for him.

“I have no idea what you are talking about,” he said, shaking his head as he kept an eye on her sword.

“How many children have you bought?” she clarified.

Jin Guangshan went pale at the words, “I…”

“How many!?” she yelled as the sword began to draw blood from Jin Guangshan as it pinned him to where he stood. “The one I just found is the same age as our son. If this gets out, he could be in line for Sect Leader! You foolish arrogant man!”

“Two, there were two,” he answered her at last, “One, one is gone, dead. He was dead by the age of two. The mother died as well I believe. The other. I…. I don’t know,” he finished.

“Haven’t since him since he was about four, I believe he said. Well, guess what. If he so much as tries anything. It won’t be him that I’ll be taking out, but you!” she warned him, “My son will become Sect Leader. And if I find out that there are any more of your children out there, and I don’t care if they are bought or not. I will murder you myself!”

“Madam Jin!” he yelled, as he tried to move away from the sword that was slowly sliding through his skin.

“You have put this Sect to shame for the last time. Any more women that are in your rooms will be thrown out and shamed. You will also be dragged out with them,” she warned him, “I am warning you Jin Guangshan, your days of lying with the next warm thing are over! I will make sure that you pay for the humiliation that you’ve heaped on me with all that you have done,” she added, eyes flashing.

“You have no say in what I do,” he told her, straightening up as he finally got away from the sword as it returned to her side.

Madam Jin laughed cruelly, “Oh really? Did you perhaps forget that we have a contract marriage? That ours was an arranged marriage?” she reminded him casually, smirking at the man. “You will lose Jin Guangshan, I will make sure of that,” she turned and walked away. Leaving the Jin Sect Leader alone with his thoughts on just how badly he had fucked things up. One of his bastards was here within Koi Tower. There were only two that he had bought. One that he knew for sure was dead, along with the mother as far as he knew. The other was alive, he believed. The one that had been born on the same day as his son. He shuddered as he thought of what she was threatening. He would have to do a few things and look into others to try and protect himself. But he wouldn’t let that woman dictate what he could and couldn’t do within his own Sect.

Chapter Thirty-Three

Jiang Fengmian sat at the table in his room. The tea was steaming in front of him, but he wasn’t really paying attention to it. His son was doing the same across from him. The two of them had hoped that by some miracle that Wei Ying might have been able to make it to the conference at Koi Tower. Just to meet with them. Most of the Young Master of other Sects would be in attendance, not to compete or anything, but to network. But he hadn’t been there. It didn’t help Jiang Fengmian that Madam Jin had tried to interfere with how he was running Lotus Pier and how he was punishing Madam Yu for her actions.

The Jiang Sect Leader knew that Madam Yu had taken to writing to her sworn sister about her imprisonment. But she hadn’t even bothered to explain why she had been confined to Lotus Pier. Jiang Fengmian wouldn’t allow her to leave the Pier. Not for anything. She no longer had his trust either. And he had made sure that the Meishan Yu Sect knew exactly what she was being punished for. They had nothing they could do against him anyway. He ruled Lotus Pier, not them.

“Do you think A-Jie will be able to keep Madam Yu confined?” Jiang Cheng asked, he worried for Jiang Yanli, as she had been left in charge of the Sect while they went to the conference.

“She will, and she is still trying to decide if she wishes to have anything to do with Jin Zixuan at all,” he added, sighing heavily. His daughter didn’t know if the feelings she had for the teenager were real or just what she made up in her mind to try and keep herself and her mother happy.

Jiang Cheng nodded absently, “I hope not. He’s always hurting her, she deserves so much better than him,” he muttered darkly, scowling at the thought of Jin Zixuan.

“I know,” his father agreed, “And anything more from him and I may just be the one to break it instead. I don’t wish to see A-Li hurt at all.”

Jiang Cheng smiled, opening his mouth to say something when he heard a noise coming from the door. A letter had been slipped underneath it. He got up, going over cautiously. Using a talisman that Wei Ying had invested some months before he left, he made sure that nothing was attached to it that could harm them. He picked it up and brought it over to his father, “Dad, that’s Wuxian’s writing,” he said, his voice shaking as he recognised the familiar scratchy calligraphy.

“We looked everywhere around Koi Tower that we could. We couldn’t find him anywhere around?” Jiang Fengmian said, frowning as he looked at the letter for a moment before taking it and opening it. He noticed that there were two letters within it along with a third. One for Jiang Cheng and another for his daughter. He handed over Jiang Cheng’s and started to read his own.

Uncle Jiang

I’m sorry for not being the one to hand this letter to you. But please, respect that I don’t want to be found at the moment. I love you and I miss you a lot. And I miss Shijie and Jiang Cheng just as well. But I can’t go back, not with her there. I won’t be a whipping post for her again. I know that she can’t leave. I know about the contract. She made that so clear to me that no matter what she did, she would never be punished for it. That she would never be kicked out. That day I just had enough of the way she always targeted me. I couldn’t take any more of the abuse she piled on my shoulders from the moment I arrived there.

I travelled for a while you know. Moving around from place to place. I can see why my parents enjoyed it when they were out on the roads. But like them, I do miss Lotus Pier. But Lotus Pier, I don’t think it was ever my home though. I don’t know where that is at the moment. Or maybe I’m beginning to learn what a home means to me.

I met two people while I was travelling. An older teenager about a week after I left. I taught him how to cultivate a Golden Core. He’s getting stronger with each day that he practices. He thought that since he was starting so late that he wouldn’t be able to be that strong. He does have a way with arrays and even talismans. So, he does well. The other was a young child, a toddler really. He was three when I found him. Just this small child, all alone in the world. He had been living on the streets since he was two when his mother died. No word on who his father is or even was. But I took him in, just like you took me in. He’s lively but still scared. So scared that he would be left alone again. The sad thing is, he doesn’t remember his mother at all. All he knows is his name and it hurts that he hasn’t anything more than that. I might not have much, but I still have you, Jiang Cheng and Jiang Yanli as my family.

I’ve found a place to live at the moment. I’m settled down, or as settled as much as I can be. I’m cultivating and learning. Finding a place to call home, I think. I love you and I miss you, Uncle Jiang. And I miss them, but I’m finding my own place in the world, one that is just for me. I hope that you can understand that I won’t be coming back to the Jiang Sect. Please don’t try and find out who gave this to you, I want some more time before I see everyone again.

Wei Ying, your loving Nephew.

Jiang Fengmian placed the letter down and sighed heavily, “He won’t be coming home,” he said softly as he looked over at his son.

“He’s found some friends,” he murmured, there was a little bit of jealousy in his voice, but it was more of a case that he wished to be by his brother’s side, “I really wish he would have come here. So, I could talk to him. But he said that he isn’t here, that he sent it through someone else. But to not look for them or him.”

Jiang Fengmian nodded, “That’s basically the same as mine,” he sighed softly as he put away Jiang Yanli’s letter. He knew that she would want to read it as well. That she missed her brother.

“I wish…” Jiang Cheng said as he leaned his head on his arms as he rested against the table. The tears forming in his eyes knowing that it would be a while before he would be able to see his brother. Or it might even be the case that he would never get to see him again. That scared him the most. “What if… what if we don’t see him again dad?” he asked him, voice shaking as he tried to suppress the tears that he wanted to let out.

Jiang Fengmian moved around to his son’s side. He remembered when he had found out that Wei Changze had left, and how he had reacted much the same. His tears and his anger at the one that had caused it. He took his son into his arms and held the young teenager as he finally let out his feelings. He raged and yelled at his mother, who wasn’t there to hear exactly what he thought of her. And sobbed to his father in wanting nothing more than to go out and find his brother. Just to make sure that he really was alright. That he was truly in a safe place.

“I wish a lot of things as well A-Cheng, but we will have to deal with it and one day we will be able to see him. I don’t know when that will be, but we will,” he added, holding him tightly before he let him go when the young teenager began to push him away. Having had enough of being held.

“He said that maybe one day when he feels as though he is safe. Then he will tell us where he is, but not just yet,” he sniffled, wiping his eyes as he reached for his cold tea to drink it. His throat was somewhat sore.

“He will tell us, he misses us, just as we miss him,” Jiang Fengmian reassured him.

“He told me that… that he had made some friends. That he’s training hard and that I need to do the same. And that A-Jie has to train a lot as well. He said that he might be able to write to us as well. But we won’t be able to write to him,” he murmured.

“That’s good, it would be nice to know how much he is learning as well as to how well he is doing. There are so many things that I wish I could ask. If he needs anything more or such things,” Jiang Fengmian sighed, shaking his head lightly.

“Yeah,” he nodded.

Jiang Fengmian smiled, “Come, why don’t we see about going for a small walk before we settle down for the night,” he suggested, both of them feeling a little stifled in the room.

Jiang Cheng nodded and got up. He went and cleaned his face before the two of them walked out of their rooms. They stood back as they watched Madam Jin rush down the corridors and away from them. They looked at each other and shook their heads, shrugging as they made their way to one of the gardens that were dotted around.

“Dad, do you think we could get some training in when we go back home?” he asked, “Wuxian told me that I need to make sure that I really train hard, as he’s going to be doing the same and wants to spar when we can meet.”

“Of course, I’ll show some more of the Jiang Style secrets,” he grinned, as he patted his shoulder, “We should also teach them to A-Li as well. You are both Jiang’s and you both should know all of this.”

“Good,” he grinned, “Dad,” he added, glancing at him, “Did you… really love her once?” he asked, somewhat hesitant.

“Who?” Jiang Fengmian asked him, wondering if the teenager was thinking about Cangse Sanren as Madam Yu had been ranting about it again not long before they had left for the conference.

“Mother,” he clarified looking at him.

“I thought I could. She was a strong woman, with good morals. And I thought that maybe the Elder actually knew what he was doing when he matched us. And then she started to belittle A-Ze and Cangse,” he sighed, “She was a good woman once. And she did love you. But her jealousy overcame her I believe,” he sighed, “I think it wasn’t long after A-Li was born that I couldn’t put up with her anymore. And I sent her to live in separate rooms from me. We were only together a few more times, mainly for you,” he admitted softly. Wincing a little at how bad that sounded.

“Something to do with the contract?” he asked, feeling awkward.

“Yes,” he nodded, “Do not think that you weren’t wanted by me. As you were. I always wanted to have a number of children. I loved A-Li from the moment I found out that Ziyuan was pregnant with her. Just as I was when I learned she was carrying you. I may not have had any feelings for her after a while. But I tried. So many times, did I try to repair our relationship to a point where we could love each other. I always got my hopes up. Even still I tried to love her,” he sighed softly.

“I saw the gifts that you would buy her, she always turned away from them, threw them out,” he said, as he had seen his mother do so on a number of occasions. The trinkets he would save and put them back in his father’s room. He always saw the man being so disheartened each time he found them again.

Jiang Fengmian had stopped trying not long after Jiang Cheng turned ten. No longer trying to woo his wife who he had come to admire before their marriage.

“What… What did the contract say?” he asked, “Please, I really want to know.”

“I will only tell you a few things on there. It was a long one that was set up,” he told him, as they came to a stop by one of the small ponds in the garden. “That within five years of the marriage a son was to be born or the marriage was void. All girls would be left with the Jiang Sect. That if I throw her from the Sect that all properties and money of the Jiang Sect would be given to Meishan Yu. Though if the youngest reaches sixteen then she can be sent back to her home Sect if certain things have been violated,” he told him, giving him at least a couple of the highlights of the contract.

“What things?” Jiang Cheng asked him, curious as to how his parents’ marriage had been set up. And to make sure that he would be able to avoid it for himself and others. He would never allow anyone to do that to him.

“Not teaching the style of the Sect properly. Which means the Jiang Bell and a few other things that you’ve now been learning,” he told him softly.

“So, because she didn’t teach them…” he trailed off a smirk making its way onto his face.

“She can be forced to leave the Jiang Sect as soon as you turn sixteen,” he nodded.

“Good,” he nodded, happy with that. He looked up at his father, “I’m glad that she’ll be gone. I just have what, another year to wait,” he mumbled, his birthday had been a few days before he had left. He had celebrated with his family. And while he was happy to be a year older. He wondered what Wei Ying’s birthday had been like. Was he able to celebrate it with those that he was around? He sighed, as they slowly began to make their way back to their room. Getting some sleep before the conference could begin in earnest the next day.

Chapter Thirty-Four

Nie Mingjue’s face was tight as he listened to Wen Ruohan talk to him. The burning hatred he had for the man that had helped cause his father’s death four years ago was still fresh in his mind. And he knew that it would always be there, right at the front of his thoughts whenever he saw the man or heard anything about him. He took a breath to tell him to go away when the man said something that made him stop.

“I heard of a young cultivator that had an interesting ability,” Wen Ruohan began, “I believe that he had been in your territory at the time when he was last seen by those of his clan,” he added, almost casually. Most would have easily fallen for the ruse, but Nie Mingjue knew better. Wen Ruohan was ruthless and calculating.

“Oh?” Nie Mingjue said, a little frown on his face, wondering who he was on about. The Nie Sect Leader only knew of one that had an interesting ability and that he had been within his territory.

“Yes, a Zhao Zhuliu, I believe was the same. An interesting ability. I had hoped to see if I could offer him a home when I heard that his clan had thrown him out. He is just right for the Wen Clan,” he murmured as though it was just a trivial matter.

“I’ve not come across someone named that,” he told him. It was a lie of course, but he wasn’t going to hand over the man to the Wen Clan, he didn’t trust them.

“If you find out what happened to him, please send a letter. I would like to offer him a home,” he told him as he then walked off.

Nie Mingjue watched him go. Meng Yao moved up behind him, subtly putting a hand on his Sect Leader’s back, “Someone doesn’t seem right,” he murmured to his advisor.

“No, it doesn’t,” Meng Yao agreed easily, “I’m going to do a little reconnaissance on it. Something doesn’t sit right. Considering how long he had been with the village and then suddenly he was attacked and driven out. With him now being twenty-odd years old, and with his ability being known since he was a child…” he trailed off, giving Nie Mingjue a look.

“Yes,” Nie Mingjue gave a subtle nod, “Please, I want to make sure we know everything so we are not caught short,” he murmured.

“Yes, Sect Leader,” Meng Yao said, a soft smile on his face as he quickly and subtly left the hall and went to his rooms. He was able to change into something that was a little more plain. He would be able to blend in with people. He was about to leave when he reached up and began to take out the hairpiece and braids, he didn’t need to be recognised because of them after all.

Meng Yao walked out of his rooms and headed through the corridors. Remember where the Wen Sect was located within Koi Tower, he began to sneak around. Keeping out of sight of everyone. A talisman that Wei Ying had made, helping him to remain undetected. Without anything being set off he was able to get into the room and hide. It took two hours before Meng Yao heard anything. Wen Ruohan and his son walked into the room, the heavy stride of the Wen Sect Leader easily telling Meng Yao that the man was angry about something.

“How could we lose him!” Wen Ruohan growled, glaring at his son.

“I don’t know. The villagers were only supposed to harm him a little to make sure that he wouldn’t go back there to try and get them to take him back in,” Wen Xu told his father. “I don’t know what happened. Those that were to drive him towards us were lost at some point,” he muttered, staring at his father.

“You lost them! You lost him!” he yelled out, anger fuelling his rage as he grabbed his son, “You were supposed to get him to join the Wen Sect. With his ability on our side, everyone would be too scared to do something against us. They would fear us using him against them,” he pushed his son away, causing him to stumble to the ground.

“I’m sorry father, I will do my best to locate him,” he said, getting to his feet and bowing to him, “I will find him. I promise you.”

“You better, he was in the Nie Sect Territory the last time he was seen. Start there,” he ordered his son.

“Yes, Sect Leader,” Wen Xu bowed to him, “I will.”

“Good, now get yourself cleaned up, we still have another damn banquet to deal with. Let’s hope that Guangshan brings out some proper entertainment this time,” he muttered.

Meng Yao remained where he was, not wishing to draw any attention to himself as he waited for the room to clear again. As soon as it was, he rushed out and went back to his own rooms. Nie Mingjue was pacing as he waited for him to get back.

“Someone noticed that you were gone,” he said as soon as the door closed, “It was Madam Jin, I made an excuse for you,” he added.

“Ah, sorry for the inconvenience,” Meng Yao winced, he knew why she was keeping an eye on him. Wanting to make sure he didn’t do anything, “I did find out that Wen Ruohan is after Zhao Zhuliu. I’m going to suggest that he might wish to change his name. It would mean that it would be harder for him to be located by those that are looking,” he added as he walked out behind the screen in only his inner robe. He went over to his own robes, to try and pick out something a little more formal for the banquet. Nie Mingjue walked up behind him and picked out a robe.

“Wear this one,” he said, a light blush on his face but was still smiling at the man.

“Why?” he asked, looking from the robe to Nie Mingjue, “Actually,” he murmured as he paid it more attention, “I don’t remember packing this.”

“I know you didn’t. I did. I had it made for you, as a gift,” he told him.

“Another thing that is like the hairpiece and the braids that you wanted to sneak in?” Meng Yao shook his head.

“Something like that,” Nie Mingjue murmured, looking contrite, “But I do want to see you in it,” he added, “Now, about Zhao Zhuliu, what are they wanting him for?” he asked as he let Meng Yao get dressed.

Meng Yao sighed as he went back behind the screen to dress, “They wanted to use his ability as a scare tactic on the other sects. To make sure that no one will be going against them. Since no one will want to lose their cores,” he said, shaking his head as he finished dressing and walked back out.

“Right, and that’s not what he wants to do,” he sighed heavily, “We’ll see about talking to him alone and about changing his name” he added.

“We’ll do that,” Meng Yao nodded, agreeing easily. He walked over to the dresser and sat down. Before he could even pick up his comb to do his hair, Nie Mingjue was there, brushing and braiding it. Before setting in the hairpiece that would keep everything together. And to show one and all that he was taken by the Nie Sect Leader himself. “Possessive much,” Meng Yao muttered, rolling his eyes.

“Only with you,” he said, giving the man a soft smile.

XxXxX

The next two days of the conference went by slowly. Nothing new had been brought forward from Wen Xu trying to get an invite to come to the Unclean Realm, which had not been issued. Hadn’t left the man too happy. But then again, the animosity between the two Sect’s was well known. It was common knowledge, though ignored, that Wen Ruohan had been behind the Qi deviation that the previous Nie Sect Leader had gone through. After that, no Wen had ever been invited into the territory of the Nie. They wouldn’t be welcomed and no doubt a fight would have broken out between the two if anyone trespassed.

Nie Mingjue climbed on his horse, making sure that others behind him were doing the same before they started heading away. Meng Yao gave a sigh of relief at being away from the Sect. Glad that he wouldn’t have to have anything to do with them again. He had seen the type of man his father was, and he was happy that he had listened to Wei Ying and not gone there. He would have been turned away quickly, and most likely in an embarrassing manner.

Madam Jin had been watching him all the time. Any time he went for a walk around, or away from Nie Mingjue, she would turn up. Not speaking to him at all, just watching him. The one time that he had bumped into her precious son she had appeared and started yelling at Meng Yao. Much to Jin Zixuan’s embarrassment. He had ignored her as best as he could. But he worried that she was trying to prove a point that didn’t even need to be made. He didn’t care about the Jin Sect, to him, it was a nest of vipers and her son was more than welcome to it. He had a home and a family that he never wanted to leave.

“You alright?” Nie Mingjue asked him as soon as they were out of sight of Koi Tower.

“Yes,” he nodded, “Better now that we’re finally away from that place. I don’t know how people can live there. Madam Jin is a nightmare,” he muttered, pulling a face as he thought of the woman.

“That’s more because you could take the Sect from the Jin Sect Heir at the moment. Especially with what we know,” he reminded him.

Meng Yao snorted, “Like I would want that trouble. I’ve seen what you have to do for your work in taking care of the Nie Sect. And even with my help, I wouldn’t want it all to fall on my shoulders. I have enough helping you,” he muttered, shaking his head. He glanced at Nie Mingjue and gave an amused smile at it.

“Yes, I know, and you help me immensely. It’s good to know that I won’t be losing you to the Jin Sect. I would hate to have to chase you down,” he muttered under his breath as she glanced towards Meng Yao.

Meng Yao laughed bright, “A chase?” he told him, “Well…. it would be nice to be properly courted,” he added, giving him a look.

“I have been thoroughly chastised,” he said bowing his head, “Please forgive this one that he didn’t make known his intentions to court and woo the wonderful Meng Yao,” he said.

“You mean you finally told him what they mean?” a disciple asked from behind them.

“Yes,” Nie Mingjue answered, rolling his eyes as the men cheered.

“At last! We were betting on how long it was going to take for Advisor Meng to figure out what you had done,” another said, laughing at the look on their Sect Leaders face.

“I found out thanks to Madam Jin,” Meng Yao corrected them, “She knew what they meant and was… kind enough to inform me. Though she appeared rather shocked when she realised that they were there,” he added, glancing towards Nie Mingjue again.

“So,” one of them began, before laughing, “So you had to be told about it as well. I know that Young Master Nie has been wanting to do something. He has been having a right old time of it trying to keep his giggles to himself. He even wanted to go and hint at it to Young Wei Wuxian,” he added, shaking his head at his Sect Leader and his ineptness at telling the one he liked what was going on. Though Meng Yao hadn’t been the one to find out but had been told.

Meng Yao had been happy that Jin Guangshan hadn’t recognised him at all. Though he may look like his mother in most respects, the man hadn’t seen her in over a decade before his death. He carried on listening and laughing as the rest of the Nie Disciples teased their Sect Leader, even with him yelling about extra training for them all when they returned.

XxXxX

As soon as they arrived back, they asked to speak with Zhao Zhuliu. “We found out what happened and why your clan drove you out after so long,” Nie Mingjue said as he looked at the man that he had taken into his Sect. So far, the man had helped the Sect more than anyone else had.

“What happened?” Zhao Zhuliu said. He had thought that those in the village and his small clan had just had enough of him being there. That they finally were so scared that they had to get rid of him and drive him away.

“Wen Ruohan is the Wen Sect Leader, he had heard about your little talent and is all for you joining their Sect,” Nie Mingjue said, glancing over at Meng Yao, who had heard a little more while waiting to escape.

Meng Yao nodded to him before stepping forwards, “I was able to overhear him as he was the one that incited the villagers and your clan in getting rid of you. Of the attack on you as well. That they were to drive you away from Qinghe Nie Sect Territory and into the Wen Territory. Where they would be able to find you and offer you sanctuary. Wen Ruohan wants to use your ability to further his own plans with the Wen Sect. Having you on their side would see people cower in fear of what you can do. He was hoping to use that. I don’t know the full extent of what he had planned. I was only able to hear a bit,” he added as he told the man exactly what he had been able to learn while hiding in the Wen Sect Leader’s room.

“Thank you for telling me, I hope that you don’t mind if I remain here with the Nie Sect,” Zhao Zhuliu asked, looking at the two of them.

“We’d be honoured for you to remain here. You’re a great cultivator and you’ve helped four of my men have a life even after they suffered from Qi Deviation,” he told him, “You returned four men to their family. This will always be your home, and I won’t chase you from it,” the Sect Leader promised.

“Thank you,” Zhao Zhuliu bowed and then left the office. Reminding himself that he was lucky he could remain with the Nie Set even with the Wen Sect after him.

Chapter Thirty-Five

Zhao Zhuliu had settled back into life again after learning what had happened with his village and clan. And why he had been driven from his home. He had told Wei Ying as well, wanting him to know. Since he considered Meng Yao and Wei Ying the only family he had. As well as Xue Yang. Wei Ying had several very colourful words to call the Wen Sect leader and the Wen Sect in general, they had made the older cultivator laugh with the force of them.

Meng Yao had been happy to see that it hadn’t changed much of what the man did. Though he had noticed that Zhao Zhuliu had been training that little bit harder than before. He smiled as he walked from the rooms he shared and headed for the Sect Leader’s office, as he did most mornings. There was only a little work that he still needed to do. So not much, and after that, he had promised Nie Mingjue that they would do a little training together. He stopped for a moment as he spotted the Nie Sect Leader walking towards him.

“A-Yao,” Nie Mingjue greeted him as he walked over, “Did you sleep well?” he asked him.

“I did Mingjue,” he smiled up at him, “And you? Was your night a pleasant one?” he asked him.

“It was fine, though I feel a lot better now that I have seen you,” he said smoothly as he leaned closer to him and kissed him.

Meng Yao froze for a second, ever since they had come back, Nie Mingjue would often just kiss him when they were in the office together. This was the first time he was doing so while they were in a more public place.

“Ohh!” came a little voice.

The two broke apart, wide-eyed as they glanced over and saw Xue Yang standing there, a large grin on his face. “A-Yang,” Meng Yao said, “Aren’t you supposed to be with A-Ying?” he asked him, wondering why the four-year-old wasn’t with their brother.

“Looking for Yao-ge,” he giggled and then began to run, all the while he was yelling, “Yao-ge and Jue-ge were kissing. Yao-ge and Jiefu were kissing,” the constant yell and the following giggles that accompanied the joyful words were heard by most of the disciples and servants of the Sect.

“A-Yang!” came the twin shouts of the two men that took off to chase after the loud little boy.

Xue Yang came to a stop near the chambers where most of the elders often spent their mornings. “If Yao-ge and Jue-ge were kissing does that mean they’re going to make babies!” he yelled out, “They gonna have babies!” he screamed as loudly as he could, excited about such a thing.

A couple of elders came out of the room as the two men in question stood horrified by what the young child had just screamed for most of Qinghe to hear.

One of the elders looked down at the child, “What do you say?” he asked him.

“Yao-ge and Jue-ge were kissing and now they’re gonna make some babies!” he laughed as he answered, a large grin still on his face.

The elder looked at the two men, both of them red in the face because of the embarrassment at being caught kissing, “They had better not be making babies just yet. They’re not married,” he huffed.

“They’re not?” Xue Yang asked, “But… but I wanna be Gege,” he said, plopping down on the floor not happy that him being Gege was being foiled by this old man, “I wanna be Gege,” he said glaring at not only Nie Mingjue and Meng Yao, but also turning to glare at the elder as well.

“You can be a Gege when they have babies and they are married,” the elder told him, “And not before.” There was a warning in his tone as he looked at the child.

“Promise?” he asked him, blinking innocent-looking eyes at the man.

“Yes,” he nodded, smiling, “We’ll make sure you can be Gege.”

“Good, I be a good Gege, show them to make birdies,” the four-year-old added as he formed a little bird that flew away from him.

“I know you will,” the elder said, patting him on the head, “Now, kissing, gentlemen?” he asked the two men that were now trying to sneak away.

“Sorry, elder,” Nie Mingjue said, bowing quickly like a scalded teenager.

“We let ourselves be carried away, we will of course-” Meng Yao also began, bowing to him.

“Be more careful from now on. I know that you are enjoying the fact that your relationship is known,” he said, “As all young people should, but please be a little more discrete,” he reminded them with a smile, “Now, I shall take this young one to the nursery and find out why he isn’t there.”

“He was supposed to be with Wei Wuxian this morning as he doesn’t have training until later,” Meng Yao informed him.

“I accidentally set something off Yao-ge, was trying to find you to help,” Xue Yang said as he stood up, “Can you wake A-Niang up?” he asked, tears now beginning to form as he remembered why he had been running around trying to find Meng Yao

“Yes” Meng Yao murmured, a little pale as he knew that what Wei Ying had been working on was a little dangerous should it not be used right, “We… we should go and see if we can wake him,” he said as he began to rush towards his rooms.

“Do I need to call a healer?” Nie Mingjue called after him before running to join him.

“Yes!” he nodded as he rushed off. Nie Mingjue broke away from him and went to fetch a healer. Meng Yao burst into the room to find Wei Ying crumpled on the floor. He went over, kneeling as he reached out a shaky hand and touched his wrist. He sighed in relief as he could feel the hum of life and of Wei Ying’s spiritual energy running through him, “A-Ying!” he called out, hoping it would wake him up. Too scared to actually move him.

Wei Ying remained unconscious as Meng Yao began to look around, trying to find out what it was that had caused the problem. He moved from his side, keeping an eye on his breathing. Going over to the desk that Wei Ying would often have his work pilled on, he looked over what was there. Nodding to himself he was able to see what had been the cause of his unconsciousness.

The door opened and Nie Mingjue walked in with a healer right behind him. A few seconds after that a wary looking Xue Yang followed them into the room. The four-year-old knew he was in trouble.

“A-Yang,” Meng Yao said as he took the little boy into his arms, “You know that you’re not to play with A-Niang’s things,” he told him, “You’ve been told about that,” he said, shaking his head.

“But I wanted to see the pretty colours that A-Niang had done yesterday,” he pouted as he then glanced to where the healer was checking on Wei Ying.

“Then you should have asked if he would be able to do them. If you were told no, then you should have listened. You have really hurt A-Niang,” Meng Yao told him.

“Hurt!” he cried out as he began to struggle in Meng Yao’s arms to get down and rushed to Wei Ying.

“Do you know what caused it?” the healer asked as she looked over at Meng Yao.

“Yes,” Meng Yao answered her, “The way that the talisman was powered would have caused a backlash onto the one doing so. And since it was Xue Yang, A-Ying would have had to force it to change, to go towards him instead. He’s going to have one hell of a headache afterwards and be a little weak for a day or two. His core is going to be a little battered,” he added, wincing as Wei Ying had done the same things accidentally and they had to remain in the same place for almost three days before Wei Ying was well enough to move out of his bed and go on with their journey to the next village.

“Right,” she nodded as she began to check his core over. “You’re right, a little battered, but the damage hasn’t done anything to him,” she sighed in relief as the others did the same.

Xue Yang finally started to realise that he had done something wrong and that the pretty colours that he had wanted to see had harmed his A-Niang. His lower lip started to tremble before he burst into tears and began to cry, calling out for Wei Ying to wake up.

“A-Yang, you need to hush,” Meng Yao told him gently as he rubbed his back to try and soothe the child, “Shush,” he repeated, “I know you’re worried now, but you need to be quiet. A-Ying is going to be in some pain and you making so much noise is going to make it worse,” he warned him.

“Wo… wo… worse?” he sobbed against Meng Yao’s shoulder.

“Yes,” he said as he took him out of the room, leaving Nie Mingjue and the healer to deal with Wei Ying.

“No, don’t wanna leave A-Niang,” he cried, reached out to try and stop himself from being taken out of the room.

“Then you need to stop crying and making so much noise,” he warned him, “And until you’re quiet, we’ll be out here,” he said as Xue Yang continued to cry.

Meng Yao remained out there for a few more minutes until the four-year-old was only quietly hiccupping, “Done now?” he asked him gently.

Xue Yang nodded, wiping his eyes and sniffling a little, “Wanna see A-Niang please,” he said, his eyes were still full of tears.

“Okay,” he smiled as he walked back into the room, rubbing the child’s back as they went over to the bed where Wei Ying was now sleeping.

“He’s going to be just fine now. He’s sleeping at the moment, but I would let him wake naturally. Keep an eye on him of course, for the next few hours. If anything changes about him, I want you to come and get me,” she told Meng Yao as soon as he reached the side of the bed.

“Of course, thank you,” he smiled at her, nodding before looking over at Nie Mingjue, “I’ll be staying here today. If you can have any of the paperwork that I need to do brought here, then I can work from here,” he smiled, though there was worry in his eyes.

“I’ll bring it over and we’ll both do it here, and as for this one,” he said, as he poked Xue Yang’s cheek, causing the child to look away from Wei Ying for a moment to pout at him.

“He’ll be going to the nursery,” Meng Yao said, “And before you even think about saying anything A-Yang when Wei Wuxian wakes up, he’s going to need quiet and rest. He won’t be able to get that if you want to climb all over him. And I know you little one, you’ll want to do just that,” he said, gently pinching a cheek.

“I’ll go and get our work and you can take him,” Nie Mingjue left the room.

“Can you wait here until I return Healer Nie?” Meng Yao asked the woman, looking hopeful.

“Of course,” she nodded, agreeing with the request.

“Thank you,” he nodded as he walked out of the room.

As soon as the door closed Xue Yang spoke, “Don’t wanna leave A-Niang, please Yao-ge,” he pleaded as he was carried away. He knew better than to throw a temper tantrum after doing something wrong to try and get his own way.

“I know you don’t, but when he wakes up, he’s going to be in a lot of pain, and you can’t help but be a little loud. And this way, you’ll be able to have some fun with your friends for a while. When A-Ying is feeling a little better you can then tell him all about it. And tell him that you’re sorry for what you have done,” he added, giving the child a pointed look.

Xue Yang pulled a face, “A-Yang is sorry,” he muttered, falling against Meng Yao’s shoulder, tucking his head away into his neck.

“I know you are, why don’t you make a nice get a better gift while in the nursery?” he suggested to him.

“Okay,” he nodded. He went quietly into the nursery this time, no more fuss as he watched bye to Meng Yao. Meng Yao rushed through the corridors and went back to Wei Ying’s side. He found him already awake, though looking to be in some pain. Wei Ying was quick to inform him that he now knew what was wrong with the glove and why it hadn’t been working for him. Though he would need time to figure it out. A few hours later, after Nie Mingjue and Meng Yao had finished their work, the two left to get Xue Yang.

“A-Niang,” Xue Yang whispered as he walked into the room, calmly and with a new painting in his hand, “For A-Niang,” he said, slowly and carefully climbing onto the bed and adding, “I’m sorry,” he said, cuddling up to Wei Ying.

Wei Ying looked at it and smiled, “Thank you A-Yang,” he murmured, “Next time, don’t touch what you know that you’re not allowed to. As punishment, there will be no sweets for a week,” he told him. Xue Yang pouted but left it, he knew he was in the wrong. Instead, he started to regale him with catching Meng Yao and Nie Mingjue kissing and then adding that he was going to be Gege one day. Much to Wei Ying’s enjoyment and to Nie Mingjue and Meng Yao’s embarrassment.

Chapter Thirty-Six

“Da-ge!” Nie Huaisang yelled out, crying as hard as he could to try and get Nie Mingjue to change his mind.

“You’re going A-Sang,” he told him, almost dragging him alone, “And that’s finally. No matter how much of a tantrum you try and throw you are going!” he yelled at his younger brother once more. It was a familiar argument between the two, and most of the time Nie Huaisang was able to get out of the night hunts his brother wanted him to go on. But it looked like this was such an easy one that him going wasn’t going to put him in danger just by being there. His brother wanted him to have a little experience with them at the very least.

“Come on Nie-Xiong,” Wei Ying grinned at the slightly older teen, “You get to come with me,” he told him.

“I don’t want to go!” he cried, wrenching his arm free from Nie Mingjue and flopping himself into Wei Ying’s arms.

“Can I go instead?” Xue Yang piped up, he had been standing next to Meng Yao as Nie Mingjue was giving his orders, after dragging Nie Huaisang to the entrance.

“No chance A-Yang,” Wei Ying told him, looking over Nie Huaisang’s shoulder as he continued to cry and wail in his arms. Though they all knew that he was faking the tears, “Nie Huaisang,” he said, as he made the older teenager stand up straight, “Stop this at once. You know that no one is falling for the tears. Even A-Yang can do them better than you,” he muttered under his breath.

Nie Huaisang reared back as though he had been slapped, with a hand over his chest, “How dare you!” he pouted at him, giving him a small glare though the red eye he now had from his fake tears.

“I dare because you know I’m right. Now go and get yourself ready, we’ll be gone for a good few hours,” he told his friend, shaking his head.

Nie Huaisang gave his brother one last pouting look, hoping that it would work. When it didn’t, the Sect Leader just pointed to the door, huffing at him.

“Really. He needs to sort himself out a little. I know he doesn’t want to fight like we do. But I just… I just want to know that he will be able to protect himself, and that he won’t freeze if something does happen when he is around,” Nie Mingjue muttered, shaking his head at his younger brothers’ antics.

“I’ll see if I can talk to him about training again,” Wei Ying suggested. It wouldn’t hurt anything to try.

“Please do,” Nie Mingjue looked up, “I just want him to be able to protect himself. As soon as he can do that, then I won’t push him so much to do these things.”

“This is more of a punishment for him, since he would have to leave his paintings and such behind him,” Meng Yao said as he guessed what Nie Mingjue was trying to do.

“Yes,” he nodded, “And he knows that,” he sighed, “He still won’t cooperate.”

“Well, I’ll do my best,” Wei Ying said as he went to go and get ready as well.

“Thank you,” Nie Mingjue called out after him.

XxXxX

It was only a few hours after that meeting that they were in a clearing. The area wasn’t too far from where Qinghe was located. Around two hours by sword flight away. They settled in to look for the small beasts that had been causing problems for the nearby village and town. Wei Ying was already pinging his Qi around them to see if he could find them or any trace of them.

“They’re coming this way!” Wei Ying called out, Subian out and at the ready. The three beasts rushed into the clearing and with a glance towards Nie Huaisang who was standing back to watch. The three disciples each took on one of them and began to attack.

Nie Huaisang watched as they attacked them, moving around and the swirl of spiritual energy going up as it always did. He pulled out his fan and hid his face occasionally when it came to hearing the roar of a beast as it was being injured. A cry went out as they died and Nie Huaisang winced. He hated being at these, he didn’t want to learn the sabre at all.

“A-Sang!” Wei Ying yelled out as another beast broken into the clearing. It was larger than the other three and it headed straight for the helpless cultivator.

Nie Huaisang looked over the top of his face and his eyes went wide as he saw the beast coming for him. He froze on the spot. Wei Ying rushed and was just about able to get in the way of the sharp claws as they headed for the older teen. Wei Ying cried out in pain, falling again on Nie Huaisang. One of the others came up and was able to kill the beast while it was distracted in trying to maul Wei Ying even more.

“Wei Wuxian!” Nie Huaisang cried out, voice shaking as he had the younger teenager in his arms. It didn’t take long for the cultivators that had come with them to take him.

“We need to get him back to the Sect,” he said, “Sword and quickly,” he added, “The cuts are deep. His cultivation won’t be able to help much with them being this dirty,” he added as he took Wei Ying into his arms, his sabre already waiting for him to jump onto it.

The other cultivator grabbed Subian and then grabbed Nie Huaisang and pulled him onto his sabre. The two took off following the other back to Qinghe.

“It’s my fault,” Ne Huaisang whispered to himself, his eyes latched on to the figures further ahead of them.

“It’s not your fault Young Master Nie,” the man who was carrying him home told him.

“It is,” he murmured, “If… If I knew how to fight then he wouldn’t have had to protect me. I’m… I’m his da-ge, I should have protected him. Not the other way around,” he said, voice shaking as he kept his eyes to where Wei Ying was. Speed was off the essence and they were getting further and further ahead of them.

They landed just over an hour later, the Nie cultivator had been pushing himself hard to keep up with the other. Nie Huaisang jumped off the sabre before they had even reached the ground and ran after the other cultivator to the healer’s wing. He didn’t even stop when the door was closing, but burst through it. He needed to know, he needed to make sure that Wei Ying would be alright. He stood at the back of the room as the healers got to work.

They moved around the bed quickly. Shouting orders or calling for things that they needed. They were called for him to be held down at one point when he began to shake uncontrollably. Nie Huaisang rushed to help, seeing the paleness of his friend’s face he tried his best not to sob. as the door opened and his brother walked in. He had no doubt that he would have been told of what happened during the hunt. Meng Yao was walking with him. The teenager had gone pale as soon as he walked in and spotted his brother on the bed.

“A-Ying,” he said, heading towards the bed, only to be stopped when Nie Mingjue grabbed him, holding him to his chest, “I need to go to him, I need to-”

“I know, I know, but first you need to let them do what they need to and then you can sit with him,” Nie Mingjue soothed his betrothed.

Nie Huaisang was finally able to let go of Wei Ying and headed over to the two of them, “I’m… I’m sorry,” Nie Huaisang apologized, tears falling from his eyes as he looked at Meng Yao, “It’s my fault, he was protecting me,” he told him.

“Shush,” Meng Yao murmured, “It’s okay, it’s okay,” he repeated, his voice shaking as he reached out to the younger teenager and held him.

The healers were starting to slow down and then finally broke away from the bed. Wei Ying lay still upon it, but they could see that he was still breathing, though pale.

“What is his condition?” Nie Mingjue asked the healer in charge as she walked over to them.

“The gash on his back is deep, but it will heal,” she answered, “It’s going to be at least two, maybe even three weeks before he’ll be able to lift his sword at all. And even then, it might be another month before his cultivator will be able to heal it all fully. He’s going to be on light duties for at least two months,” she added.

“That’s… that’s not too bad,” Meng Yao said, not knowing if Wei Ying would be able to stay still for that long to actually be able to heal. He might have to use Xue Yang to con the teenager in to remain in bed.

“There is a small complication,” she then added, “He has a fever at the moment. But that is because there was a poison on the claws of the beast that attacked him. He’s going to be rather weak for a while as well. He will recover fully, if he rests properly for the next two weeks at the very least,” she finished quickly before they could start panicking at the extra information.

“Right,” Meng Yao nodded slowly, “He… will be okay though?” he asked her again, wondering how he was going to tell Xue Yang of what had happened. The child was going to be distraught to say the least.

“He will, he won’t be waking up at all today and the least. The poison is being drained from him at the moment. Hopefully within the day or so the fever will break as well,” she smiled as she answered.

“Thank you,” Meng Yao said as he let go of Nie Huaisang’s arm and moved away from Nie Mingjue and headed over to the bed. He looked down at his little brother. “I… I need to see A-Yang. He’s going to need to know as well,” he looked up at Nie Mingjue as though the man had all the answers for what he needed to do.

“I’ll bring him. We’ll go into the room next door before bringing him in here,” The Sect Leader said softly, kissing him lightly, “Don’t worry, we know that Wei Wuxian is going to be fine,” he said, reassuring him as he held his betrothed for a few moments.

Nie Huaisang stood there, feeling odd and out of place. He looked towards the bed, seeing how pale his friend was. This was his fault, if he had trained at all he would have been able to move out of the way. He wouldn’t have frozen. He may have even been able to use his sabre to fight back against the beast. To protect himself instead of always relying on everyone else to protect him. He took a shuddering breath as he wiped his eyes and walked out of the room. He had things to do, he had to make things right.

Neither of them noticed him leaving, too wrapped up with the teenager on the bed. Nie Mingjue slowly let his betrothed go and went to get Xue Yang. He walked to the classroom where he was being taught the beginnings of what he needed to learn to be a cultivator. He nodded to the teacher and called the child to him. Trying to keep a smile on his face as the child told him all of what he was learning as he brought him to the healer’s wing. He entered the room next door to Wei Ying’s, seeing that Meng Yao was already there, waiting for them.

“Yao-ge!” Xue Yang called out, a happy smile on his face as he ran over and into the teenagers’ arms, “Is A-Niang back yet?” he asked him.

“Something… something happened A-Yang,” Meng Yao said, his voice shaking as he tried to think of the words to use to tell him.

“What happened? Where A-Niang?” he asked, looking around and hoping to find the familiar smiling teenager.

“He was hurt, but he’s going to be just fine,” Meng Yao rushed out, hoping that knowing he would be okay would reassure the child.

“Where… where is he?!” Xue Yang demanded to know as he began to struggle in Meng Yao’s arms, “I want to see A-Niang!” he added, yelling as he lashed out.

“When you…” Meng Yao began only to be cut off when a kick hit his leg really hard that he almost dropped the child.

Nie Mingjue, seeing what was going on, stepped forwards and grabbed the child from Meng Yao’s arms and held him tightly, “Stop it Xue Yang!” he called out. His booming voice scaring the child somewhat.

“I… I want A-Niang,” he hiccupped, tears pouring from his eyes, the two could see the fear in them.

“I know you do. But if you’re going to scream and shout like that then you won’t be able to see him,” Nie Mingjue told him, huffing at the squirming child.

“Be good and quiet and then you can go and see A-Niang for a bit,” Meng yao said as he went over, placing a hand on the child’s back, “You have to be good A-Yang. He’s not feeling very well so he’ll be sleeping. But we’ll let you say goodnight to him, so he can sleep well, knowing that you are being a good boy,” he told him.

“Okay,” he sniffled as he reached out for Meng Yao to take him.

Nie Mingjue didn’t let him go, “A-Yang,” he called to him softly, “You should say sorry to A-Yao. You hurt him when you were kicking out.”

“I did?” he said, looking up at Nie Mingjue with wide eyes before glancing over at Meng Yao. The man nodded, “I’m sorry Yao-ge, I’m sorry,” he said, reaching out and was finally taken by him. He wrapped his arms tightly around Meng Yao’s neck and continued to apologize.

Meng Yao cuddled him tightly, “I forgive you, just try not to do it again. I know that you’re upset, but we are as well. But we’ll go and see A-Yang,” he said as he walked out of the room and into the next one.

Xue Yang was a good boy and didn’t call out. But he was able to go to his A-Niang and tell him goodnight before he was taken to their room. Meng Yao was feeling drained and climbed into his bed as soon as he had tucked Xue Yang in. Though it didn’t take long for the child to climb into his, both of them needing the comfort of the other, to remind themselves that Wei Ying would be fine.

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Wei Ying sat on his bed in his room. He had finally been able to return to his room after being in the infirmary for the last three days. Though the only visitors he had so far were Zhao Zhuliu. Wei Ying had worried at first that something had happened to Nie Huaisang, even though he had done his best to protect him. He had been reassured several times that the other teenager was okay, just busy. But something didn’t seem right to the young cultivator.

“A-Ying,” Meng Yao called out lightly as he walked into the room.

“Yao-ge,” he smiled at his brother, “Have you seen Nie Huaisang? I thought he would have been by to see me by now,” he said, shaking his head as he leaned against the pillows. He was still in pain, but at least he was able to move around a little. Though he had been warned that he shouldn’t go too far from his bed at all.

“He…” Meng Yao trailed off, sighing deeply, “Since you both came back,” he began, “He started training. We can barely get him to stop and eat, let alone sleep most of the time.”

“Training?” Wei Ying asked, frowning.

“Yes,” he nodded, “Training. Nie Mingjue doesn’t know if he should be worried about it or proud that he’s doing something at last. Though I think he’s more worried than anything at the moment. Especially with the way that Nie Huaisang is going about it.”

“Right,” he nodded, “Thanks for telling me why he hasn’t been by,” he smiled at him.

“Anyway, it’s lunch time,” he said, tapping the tray that he had brought in with him, “A-Yang is still in class and I’ll be keeping him with me for a while as well. Zhao Zhuliu said he’ll be coming by a little later as well. He said you wanted to talk to him about something,” he added, a little frown line forming between his eyes.

“Yeah, I thought of a few things that I want him to test out for me,” he said, gesturing to the talismans that he had stacked to the side, “He wants something that will help him stop from using his ability, even by accident,” he added.

“He has full control of his ability though?” Meng Yao asked, puzzled.

“He does, he just doesn’t want to take a chance that something could happen,” he smiled, “I can understand his fear.”

“True,” he sighed, agreeing with him, “Right. I need to get going. I still have some paperwork to do and then some of my own training,” he smiled as he got up, “Now, don’t forget to take it easy, and if you really need something then you can get up, but everything that you need should be in this room,” he warned him again about leaving.

“I know,” Wei Ying nodded, laughing lightly.

Meng Yao left the room and headed back to the Sect Leader’s office. Wei Ying sighed in relief at being left alone. Now, he just had to put his plan into action now that he knew what was going on with Nie Huaisang. He slowly got to his feet. Feeling a little shaky as he stood. Quickly dressing and putting on his boots he headed out the room. Making sure to look around and then began to head down the corridor to one of the training courtyards. His body was aching something fierce and he knew he should have stayed in bed. But he was determined to see Nie Huaisang. And to make sure that he really was okay. Something must be wrong with him if he was training like Meng Yao had said.

It took him another two training yards before he finally found the one where Nie Huaisang was training. The young teenager was going through the motions of the sabre forms with a fierceness that Wei Ying had never seen on Nie Huaisang’s face before.

“Nie Huaisang!” Wei Ying called out as soon as he realised that no one else was there.

Nie Huaisang stumbled a little, dropping his sabre to the ground before starting to curse. Wei Ying was impressed with the number of curse words he knew. Some of them not even Wei Ying had heard before. “Wei Wuxian!” he yelled and then stopped as he looked at the younger teenager that was leaning against the archway. He rushed over, “Are you even supposed to be up? They said that you should be in bed for at least a couple of weeks,” he shook his head, worried for Wei Ying. He took hold of him and started to help him over to one of the benches nearby.

“I’m fine enough for this,” he told him, though he was thankful to be sitting down at least, “Now, why the hell were you training like that? Are you determined to give yourself Qi Deviation before you even reach adulthood?!” he berated him.

“I let you get hurt,” he murmured, looking down, “I should have been the one to protect you. Instead, I let you get hurt protecting me,” he told him, ashamed that he had never thought that someone could actually get hurt because he didn’t know how to fight.

“I protected you because I didn’t want you to get hurt, you… you don’t know how to fight like we do,” he said softly, trying to be gentle with his words. He could see how much this had upset Nie Huaisang.

“Exactly, because I didn’t know how to fight, how to react. You got in the way and ended up getting hurt. You… you could have died!” he yelled, tears in his eyes. “You could have died and it would have been my fault,” he said, wiping away the tears that were now falling. His nightmares had all been about Wei Ying dying in his arms. With Xue Yang and Meng Yao both yelling at him for letting it happen. “I don’t want that to happen again,” he told him, “I can’t let that happen again. I will protect you like you’ve protected me,” he added more quietly as he started to calm down, though that was in part to Wei Ying rubbing his back and offering some comfort to the older teenager.

“Then you need to do it the right way,” he told him, shaking his head, “Huaisang,” he said, making the teenager look at him, “Join me in the mornings for some proper training as soon as I’m well enough. We’ll get you to the point where you’ll be able to fight with the best of them. If that is what you want.”

“Like Meng Yao?” he asked, “He’s able to fight and still be… himself.”

“Yes, like Meng Yao. You’ve got the basics of your sabre down from what I could see when I was watching. But you… you weren’t doing well with it. Your core is being hurt with the way that you were pushing yourself.” he told him, unsure how he could tell him that the restful energy was building up at a fast speed because of Nie Huaisang’s own anger at himself.

“I’ll try,” he said. He was exhausted. He had been practicing day and night for as long as he could before collapsing into bed so exhausted, he couldn’t move a muscle let alone lift his sabre.

“Good,” he smiled at him.

“You’re so good though, I want to be like that as well,” he murmured.

“I’ve concentrated on training for a lot longer than you have,” he told him, “That’s why I’m good,” he shook his head, “Not because I’m strong, but because I’ve trained long and hard to be so.”

“You promise to help me train?” he asked him, wanting to make sure that the other teen would do so.

“I will, promised,” he nodded, smiling as he raised three fingers skyward, “Just… just don’t do what you’ve been doing. It’s not good for you training like that. You were going too hard and you could have really hurt yourself,” he pointed out.

“I just… I wanted to get stronger as hard and as fast as I could to make sure that it wouldn’t happen again,” he sighed, looking at Wei Ying for a moment before looking back to where his sabre lay in the middle of the training grounds.

“I know,” he nodded, “Now, come on. I might need a little help in getting back to my room,” he winced, he didn’t think he would be able to make it without someone helping him.

“Sure, I can help,” he nodded, eager to do so. He was a little taller than Wei Ying at the moment. But he could tell that the other was going to end up over taking him really soon. The last few months Wei Ying had shot up and was now almost level with him. And Nie Huaisang was a year older than him.

“Thanks,” Wei Ying grinned up at him, and started to get up when someone else entered the courtyard.

“Wei Wuxian!” Zhao Zhuliu called out as soon as he spotted the teen and walked over, “You’re supposed to be in bed resting. You weren’t to leave it for another week and a half at the very least,” he added, shaking his head and sighing heavily at the teen.

“I know, but Nie Huaisang. I needed to speak to him and he wasn’t going to come to me, so I went to him,” he muttered, pulling a face at being caught.

“He needs some help in getting back,” Nie Huaisang added all too helpfully.

Wei Ying was about to say something when he was swept into Zhao Zhuliu’s arms, “You can put me down. Really. I just need a little support!” he complained, not wanting someone to see him being carried like this. At least while he was conscious of it.

“Not going to happen. You’re not going to be walking that far, you could cause your injuries to worsen,” he told him, glancing down at the bright red face of the teenager, “And not only that, but if you re-injure yourself before it fully heals that could mean that you may do something to permanently damage yourself. And you won’t be able to use your sword anymore.”

“I did… I wasn’t putting pressure there, I was just walking. It won’t hurt me to walk,” Wei Ying protested.

“And how do you know that?” he asked him, as they headed inside. Nie Huaisang followed behind them, worried that Wei Ying had made himself worse by coming to find him.

“Because…” he muttered, pulling a face when he couldn’t give him a clear answer.

“Exactly, you’re not a healer, so you don’t know,” he told him, shaking his head before he glanced over at Nie Huaisang, “Young Master Nie, could you open the door for me and make sure his bed is ready for him?” he asked him.

Nie Huaisang nodded and rushed off to complete the order as he opened the door, leaving it open and went inside the room. Zhao Zhuliu followed him instead and headed to the bed that Nie Huaisang had quickly prepared for him. Settling him on it, he took off his boots and tucked him in.

“Now, you are going to stay in there this time and rest,” he ordered his young friend, “I don’t want to see you get worse,” he added, this time his voice was gentle.

“I promised, I’ll be good. I just needed to speak with Nie Huaisang, that’s all,” he protested slightly, “And it’s a good thing I did. He was really hurting himself with what he was doing. He needs to start off slowly. Since he hasn’t had the training, we’ve had to go at it like that,” he added as he looked at his friend.

“Want me to take over some training for him?” he asked, as he glanced over at Nie Huaisang, who was remaining pretty quiet as they spoke about him.

“Either you or Yao-ge would be good. Maybe more Yao-ge at first,” he answered him, smiling, “He has a way for easing people into things better,” he added with a grin.

“Alright, you should ask him when he comes back tonight, now, the thing? Is it ready?” he asked him, looking hopeful.

“Ah, yeah right. I want you to put on this one,” he said as he carefully reached over and grabbed the glove that was on the small table by his bed, “Then gather the energy as though you were going to take a core,” he ordered him.

Zhao Zhuliu nodded and put it on. It was a nice tight fit, though he could feel the odd stitching that was inside. He began to gather the energy and frowned when it didn’t work. “I can’t gather energy,” he said, looking up at Wei Ying.

“Exactly, it stops the energy from being gathered in your hand. Instead, the glove is forcing it back through your body as it normally would do if you hadn’t tried to gather it,” he grinned. “This way as well, you don’t suffer any type of backlash should you accidently start drawing the energy to your hand. To use your technique, all you need to do is take the glove off and it will work like normal,” he added.

“Thank you,” Zhao Zhuliu gave him a heartful smile, “It’s good to know that I won’t do it accidently now.”

“I’m halfway through doing the other glove for your other hand. So, give me a few days and it should be ready as well,” he added quietly, pointing to where the other one was.

“Thank you,” he smiled again as he got up, “Now rest. Nie Huaisang, go and take some rest as well, you could do with it with the way you were training,” he told the two of them. Shaking his head as he headed out of the room. The youngest mainline Nie followed him as Wei Ying snuggled down in his bed yawning and quickly fell asleep.

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Five weeks of total boredom had driven Wei Ying almost crazy. He hadn’t been able to train as he preferred. Even after getting out of bed with the healer’s permission, he hadn’t been able to do much. Instead, he was reduced to teaching the youngest of the disciples, though a little older than Xue Yang, their basic forms. Though Wei Ying had to admit that it had been a good way to ease back into his own training. But he wouldn’t let the healer know that.

“Happy to be back to your full training regime?” Meng Yao asked him as he saw how eager the younger teenager was to get back out onto the training field. This would be his second day back and he had been warned about trying to push things too far and too fast. The teenager was making sure he didn’t do that at all. He didn’t want to end up stuck in his room all the time again.

“Of course, I am. It was nice to teach the kiddies and even A-Yang, but it will be even better to get back into things on the training field and to help Huaisang,” he told him.

“Good,” he smiled, “Though we had another Qi Deviation three days ago. That’s the seventh one in the last month. Sect Leader Nie is worried that there is going to be a flurry of them. It happens occasionally, he told me,” he said, shaking his head and sighing, “At least with Zhao Zhuliu none of them have died. He’s always been there on hand to help.”

“That’s good,” Wei Ying murmured, wondering what could have caused so many to happen in such a short amount of time.

“Hopefully we won’t have any more,” Meng Yao shuddered, he had seen it happen four times in the last month. It had been terrifying each time he saw it. How they were all trained to react as well. With sabres drawn to defend themselves in case the person didn’t recognise them at all and attacked them. They were all just standing around, waiting for them to die or to them having to defend themselves. It had shocked Meng Yao the first time. The second time he had watched everyone. The sorrow on their faces as they waited for the inevitable. Instead, Zhao Zhuliu had come in and down what it was he did and they were alive. Not able to be cultivators anymore, but still alive.

“I know that the blades bring in resentful energy, they gather it, it’s why they are a lot stronger than the swords. But when the blade can’t hold any more it starts to push it towards the cultivator,” Wei Ying murmured to himself, thinking of what he had found so far in all his observations of the Sabre training and fighting out in the field.

“And that means what for the cultivators?” Meng Yao frowned at him.

“It means that the resentful energy is harming the body. Or rather the Golden Core they have. It doesn’t attack the body until the Core breaks apart. When it does it then attacks the body causing the sharp twist in a person, making them a lot stronger. But it also twists their minds as well, causing them to attack others, even friends. The amount of resentful energy is so high it’s not a slow descent into madness but instant,” he told him as he looked at his brother, “They only way for them to stop it, is to stop cultivating,” he sighed, “And that just isn’t going to happen unless its forced.”

Meng Yao shook his head, “No, it isn’t. But in the end is that what is going to happen to Nie Mingjue and Nie Huaisang?” he asked him, a hint of fear in his voice as he thought of the same thing happening to the two brothers.

Wei Ying nodded, “It will, unless someone can find something to put a stop to it. And I know I’m one of hundreds that is looking into it. I want to find something that will make sure it will never happen to another person again. But so far, there isn’t anything that I can think of,” he muttered, shaking his head as he looked just as lost as Meng Yao.

“You’re a genius, Wei Ying. But even you have your limits,” he told him, patting his younger brother on the shoulder as they headed out to the training field to begin their training. The one field that was for sword training only.

XxXxX

“Right,” Wei Ying said as he looked at Nie Huaisang, “Today we’re going to be painting some of your fans,” he grinned at him.

“And how is that going to help?” Nie Huaisang asked him, frowning in puzzlement.

“Simple, you’re going to be using your Qi and infuse it within the fan. So that the painting has more meaning to it,” he said as he settled across from him and made Nie Huaisang get out two blank fans that had already been put together. And for his paints and brush to be brought out and set in front of them.

“Okay, so what are we going to do?” Nie Huaisang said, a little more excited about the lesson, knowing that he was going to be doing something that he enjoyed.

“I want you to continually let your Qi flow into your brush. Aim it to enter the ink as you paint,” Wei Ying said, this wouldn’t be the first time he had done this. “Now, what I want you to think of when you are pushing your Qi into your ink is wind. A strong gust,” he murmured. Wei Ying carried on as he began to do the same. He painted a storm over a pier on his. The two of them were quiet as they painted. Nie Huaisang was concentrating on putting his Qi into the ink. Wei Ying would glance over at him occasionally to see how he was going, and from what he could see, the youngest Nie brother was doing well. The fan was soaking up the Qi from the ink and what the intent behind it was. It should work at least three times before it faded. His would last for a number more than Nie Huaisang’s, as he had a better control of his Qi and added more into the ink.

“There,” Wei Ying said as he finished, he could see that Nie Huaisang was almost done as well. He gathered a little Qi into his lungs and blew gently over the pain of his fan. It didn’t take more than two such actions to fully dry it.

“Wow!” Nie Huaisang gasped as he watched him, “How… How did you do that?” he asked him, eyes wide.

“You need to gather a tiny bit of Qi into your lungs, just a little and blow,” he said, “Gather a little,” he said, as he waited for Nie Huaisang to do so, “Now blow gently, not too hard or the fan will end up in the wall,” he teased.

Nie Huaisang gently blew and was amazed that it actually worked for him. The painting on his fan dried quickly, “That Is so amazing,” he murmured.

“It is,” Wei Ying said, “Qi can do a lot if you understand that it can enhance things. With it gathered in the lungs, it takes the heat and the air that’s in there and when you blow it can dry things faster. Jiang Cheng and I would do it without clothes when we went swimming when we weren’t supposed to. We used to be out of breath afterwards, but it was worth it for not getting caught,” he laughed brightly, there was only a slight twinge of pain at missing Jiang Cheng now. The wonder of what his brother would be doing.

“Right, what did we do this for?” he then gestured to the fans that the two of them had made.

“Take it and come with me,” Wei Ying grinned mischievously as he then led the way to one of the training courtyards. “Hello!” he called out to some cultivators that were using part of the yard, “Can we just use the targets for a moment?” he asked one of them as soon as he got their attention, “We won’t be long,” he promised them.

“Okay,” he said, getting everyone to move aside for the young Master and Wei Ying.

“Right,” Wei Ying said, as he turned to Nie Huaisang, “I want you to aim your fan towards the targets and wave it sharply. Just like I am, then put a tiny bit of Qi into the fan to activate what you’ve done to it as you wave it,” he grinned as he turned. He stepped up and then with one hand moved the fan from left to right. Leaving the open fan to be pointed straight at the target. A burst of wind spun from it and hit the target, messing it all up.

“That is… wow,” he exclaimed as he looked at his fan, “And mine can do that?” he asked, turning to face him.

“You would be able to do it for at least three blasts. It doesn’t last forever. Since the amount of Qi you can put into the painting is limited. The tiny bit you add afterward is what tells it to be used. I have about seven blasts in mine. You’ll learn after a while how much Qi to put into the ink and paint as you work. It’ll help to build up your core enough that it will start getting bigger. I can put a maximum of about fourteen blasts into a fan these days. I can do fire, wind and water. Lightning as well works, but it will only do it twice before the fan breaks. Need to have a sturdier material for it to work. Fire will damage it as well, but it can be used at least seven or eight times before a normal fan like this will break. Water is about the same. Wind is, of course, best.”

“Right,” Nie Huaisang nodded, “and I can have these done up before as well, and I can use them in fights too?”

“You can, they are handy to have around as they can be prepared beforehand to use,” he grinned, “Now you try,” he said as he stepped aside and let Nie Huaisang take over.

The teenager stood there, looking at his fan and then copied Wei Ying’s movements. A blast of wind, slightly more uncontrolled, flew from his fan, “It wasn’t as good as yours,” he murmured, pouting slightly.

“That’s because I can add the image to my Qi when I work. You need it nice and clear in your mind as you paint. Your Qi can take that image from you and store it into the painting,” he said, not sure if he was explaining it right. “It will take some practice to refine it all, which is why I started with wind. As it will cause the least destruction as you practice the process,” he added, smiling at the other teen, “Now, use the other two blasts that you have,” he instructed as he moved to the other side and did the same with the ones he had left in his.

“Oh!” Nie Huaisang murmured looking at his fan, “The… the painting we did, why did it disappear?” he asked, looking at Wei Ying

“That’s the beauty of what you’re doing. You’re infusing the ink with the Qi, turning it into something usable. Like how a talisman will burn up after use. The power of the blasts were in the ink, the pain. So, as you used the blast, they began to fade and leave. Causing the fan to return to a blank state,” he grinned.

“So, I can carry on practicing?” he asked him, “Even alone?” he added softly.

“Yes, even alone. But, make sure that there is someone else with you when you are doing this bit. If you put too much Qi into the activation of it, it can cause it to be large and more uncontrolled than it should be. It will cause a bit more of a problem,” he told him, “So, you need to be careful,” he finished, laughing at the happy look on Nie Huaisang’s face.

“I will,” he nodded, promising, happy that he had something that he could use to fight and protect himself and maybe others if he got better at it. He would do what Wei Ying suggested and to practice with the wind version until Wei Ying said he was good enough to try the others. He really wanted to know what the lightning one would look like.

“I created these for Shijie,” Wei Ying murmured as they left the courtyard after putting everything to rights.

“Really?” he asked him, looking at the younger teenager.

“Madam Yu didn’t want her to learn how to fight. Told her that she was… useless at it because of an illness when she was younger and it harmed her cultivation a little. But it’s mostly healed now,” he answered him, “But I made them so that she would have a way to fight even if she didn’t learn the sword,” he added.

“That’s good,” he nodded, “I’m going to practice a little more,” he grinned, holding his fan against his chest, “Thank you,” he smiled as he darted off.

Wei Ying laughed brightly as he went to another training courtyard where he would do some of his own training.

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Nie Huaisang grinned as he used his fan for a fourth time. He was working hard in building up his Qi enough to get more uses out of it. He wanted to be up to seven uses before he asked Wei Ying if he could move on to another of the elements. Though he was excited about moving onto something like lightning and fire. He wondered what the water one was going to be like to use.

Wei Ying had been watching him, though he was in the middle of the field going through his own sword forms. The one that Jiang Fengmian had taught him, the same ones that his mother had been taught on the immortal mountain. It always warmed him when he went through them. To have something a little more solid from his parents. Though he often wished that it had been them that had taught him.

Wei Ying along with everyone else turned around as a scream rang out and a well of Qi burst from a person. Zhao Zhuliu wasn’t in the courtyard with them. He was actually out on patrol that day. There was no one that would be able to save the cultivator this time. The others were all getting ready for a fight as a man just stood there from a moment. His yells coming louder as the resentful energy fought hard with the Qi that was circulating around his body. Bursts of Qi were coming off him in waves.

“Someone see if they can get Zhao Zhuliu here fast?!” someone called out as one person jumped on their sword to go and find him.

“Get ready!” another called out as their sabre was raised to defend themselves.

The yells began to die down and Wei Ying could see and feel the broken core as it leaked spiritual energy everywhere. Wei Ying shook his head, he could feel himself starting to be affected by the amount of resentful energy that was tagging along with the spiritual. While most of the others wouldn’t be able to feel it, or even tell that it was there, with his ability to reign in Natural Qi, he had learned how to sense it while out of the road. Resentful had a different feel from spiritual, which helped in avoiding certain beasts.

Wei Ying grabbed his Jiang Bell and began to let it ring out. He let it ring as loud as he could, pushing his Qi into it. He could feel his head clearing more and more as he carried on. He then started to notice that the resentful energy that had been within the spiritual energy was slowly disappearing as well. He looked at the man in the centre as he just stood there, his sabre clanging to the ground.

“What’s going on?” someone asked, confused, “Why hasn’t he attacked?”

“I don’t know. But where is that ringing coming from?” Another asked as she looked around to try and find the source.

Wei Ying held up his Bell and let it ring loudly, pushing some more Qi into it. He could see the sound of it was doing something to the sabre that was laying on the ground. Calming it and stopping it from bringing in more energy. He then looked at the man. His core was still shattered, but it looked like the Qi that was now within him was starting to stabilize it. Not fixing it, but at least stopping it from getting any worse. The shattered pieces looked like they were outlined in a gentle blue to Wei Ying. The man stood there for a moment more before collapsing.

“What the hell did you do kid?” someone demanded to know.

“The… the Jiang Bell. It can calm the mind and spirit. Keeps them from being harmed by resentful energy,” he told them. He looked at the man on the ground, “He should be okay for now,” he added as he stared at them, focusing on what the spiritual energy was now doing inside the man. He could only just see wisps of it. But it was always enough to know that he should be okay. He looked up, “You should get a healer though.”

“Yes,” one of the women nodded as another ran off to get a healer.

“He’s unconscious,” a young man said as he dared to go over to their fallen comrade and brother, “His… core…” he whispered, “It’s still okay, still there. Not like… not like those that had it partially crushed,” he told them, glancing up.

“At least he’s alive,” someone else said, “Without Zhao Zhuliu here to help, I thought… I thought he would have died,” he added, shaking his head.

“True,” the woman from before nodding, lowering her sabre.

The healer finally arrived and rushed over and began a quick examination before she was able to set the man onto a stretcher and take him to the healer’s wing. Wei Ying was curious and he needed to know what the Jiang Bell had done to the man, in more detail. If he could find out what it had done, then maybe he might be able to be a step closer to finding out what he could do to stop Qi Deviation from happening again.

Wei Ying stood there near the door where the healers had taken the man, as Nie Mingjue walked over to him. He always came to see the one that had Qi Deviation, needing to know what had happened to them. “Sect Leader Nie,” Wei Ying bowed as he walked to meet him, “I really… I really need to know how his core is at the moment. I can tell that it did something, like putting it back together almost. But I need as many details as possible,” he asked him, biting his lip for a moment as he wondered if he would be given permission.

“And why would you need or want to know all that?” Nie Mingjue asked him, a curious look in his eyes as he observed the teenager.

Wei Ying sighed, “I want to see if I can find a way to stop the Qi Deviations from happening in others. But if I can find out what happens with the Jiang Bell and then when Zhao Zhuliu does what he does to them. Then maybe I can find something that will stop it,” he hoped that the man would listen to him.

“I will ask them to give you a detailed report on both,” he sighed, “I don’t think it’s possible to find the cause and to try and stop it. There is only delaying the inevitable.”

“The cause is simple,” Wei Ying said off hand, a little frown on his face as he didn’t understand why they wouldn’t know it.

Nie Mingjue stared at him, “What do you mean that the cause of it is simple?” he asked him, almost demanding to know.

“Well, when you are using your sabre, the spirits within them are hungry. They take in resentful energy. They are so hungry for it, even with training they take in a little. Not much, it’s more like a drop compared to what they can hold,” he answered him.

“Right, I want you to explain this as simply as you can?” Nie Mingjue suggested.

“Okay,” Wei Ying sighed and nodded, “Right, the spirits in your sabres. Each one of them can only hold so much resentful energy which is what you take in while you are fighting, practicing and all that. How aggressive you are doing so affects how much is taken in. So training, it will be like a drop. While fighting is more like a cup full,” he said, trying to keep it as simple as he could. “The sabre has a limited amount that it can take in. And while the resentful energy does dissipate and that, it takes a long time for it to do so from the sabre. Too long that it never actually empties itself fully. Though I noticed that the younger disciples that are only in the practicing stages, like A-Yang, are able to have it dissipate if they take at least two days off after say, training for say four or five days,” he said, he had been working with a few of the youngest disciples and had been monitoring them as best as he could.

“That’s… good?” he queried, frowning.

“It is. It means that it doesn’t really start building up until they are fighting out in the field in Night Hunts and that,” he smiled, “But that doesn’t help those that are already fighting. As you carry on the sabre spirits become full. They can no longer hold any more of the resentful energy being taken in,” he sighed, looking at the Nie Sect leader, “When that happens it starts to flow into the cultivator. A strong Golden Core can fight it for longer of course. But it does start to harm the body and the mind. That’s when you notice that a cultivator starts to anger quicker, be more aggressive when they are fighting or even when they are training,” he added.

“So, when they hit that point, it means that they are fully overwhelmed with resentful energy,” he nodded, starting to piece together what Wei Ying had been explaining.

“Not quite,” he murmured, “It’s beginning it’s attack then, but it’s building up within the body before then, undetectable by you,” Wei Ying shakes his head.

“Undetectable to me? But how are you able to sense it?” he asked him, “How can you see this and tell all this when the healers can’t?” he demanded to know what the teen was doing differently.

Wei Ying looked at him, “Because I use Natural Qi. I used it a lot as a child, and it helped me to build my core faster when I went to the… the Jiang Sect. It also helps on the road as that way I don’t deplete myself all the time, when making sure that nothing is going to be sneaking up behind us,” he told him. “Without that sensitivity, I doubt I would have lived for long on the road or on the streets,” he told him firmly, “But for you, after the resentful energy has built up within the body and has been attacking the core. It shatters it, breaking it apart. With that there is an influx of spiritual and resentful energy in the body. And I realised what causes the tight grouping of Qi Deviations. Those that are around the one that is deviating takes in the resentful energy that is coming from the person. It causes the amount of resentful energy they have building up to jump as though a dozen buckets have been added to them.”

“Right, I can understand that,” he nodded, sighing as he turned to the door where the healers were. “I’ll get you what you need,” he told him, “But you talk to me about everything that you are able to figure out, even if they are only theories, that is more than what others have come up with in generations,” he ordered him.

“I will Sect Leader Nie,” he bowed, “I promise. The Jiang Bell did something, but I need to know what exactly it did compared to what normally happens with a Qi Deviation and with what happens after Zhao Zhuliu partially crushes a core,” he told him.

Nie Mingjue sighed and nodded his head, “I’ll ask them to write it all down, you should go back to training,” he ordered him as he then knocked on the door and waited a moment before going inside.

“I will,” Wei Ying nodded as he then left. He knew that the Sect Leader would do his best to get him the reports he wanted. He just hoped that he would be able to find something. He really didn’t want to see the same thing happen to Nie Huaisang or even Nie Mingjue. He knew that he would be devastated to lose two people he was quickly beginning to think of as family. While Meng Yao would be even worse as he truly loved Nie Mingjue.

XxXxX

Wie Ying sat in his room and looked at the reports that Meng Yao had brought to him. His thoughts were whirling around his mind as he took in every word that was writing down.

“Why did you ask for these?” Meng Yao asked his brother as he watched the younger teenager going through them and making notes on some paper beside him.

“You know how I’m looking into the Nie Sect problem?” he asked as he carried on with his note taking.

“Yes,” he nodded, picking up his cup and sipping at the tea he had poured for himself.

“That’s what I’m doing. I’m trying to find out what is happening when they are helped afterwards. The Jiang Bell did something and of course you know that Zhao Zhuliu does as well. I’m trying to find the difference with it all,” he sighed, “Maybe something will come up and then I’ll be able to figure out a way to stop it from happening,” he shook his head, not holding out any hope. People smarter and wiser than him had tried after all.

“Mingjue told me that to ease the problem a little they have someone from the Lan Sect come in to play the Song of Clarity for them. You’ve seen them occasionally, it’s usually when we’re the ones out on patrol,” he told him, “It helps ease the problem a little as well. Much like the bell did,” he told him. He had been reading the reports over Wei Ying’s shoulder most of the time.

“Right,” he nodded absently, not really paying attention to what was being said to him, “This is going to take a while,” he muttered to himself as he leaned back and rubbed his eyes. Forgetting the brush in his hand as it danced against his cheek to leave a few marks along it.

“Why don’t you try and get some sleep?” Meng Yao suggested as he looked at his brother.

Wei Ying sighed and nodded, “I may do. Maybe looking at it fresh tomorrow will help me in deciding what I should try next,” he muttered to himself, pulling a face as he noticed he had his brush in his hand.

“And make sure to scrub your face,” Meng Yao laughed lightly.

“Ink on my face again?” he asked him, rolling his eyes as he got a nod from Meng Yao.

“Yes, now go and wash up, get some sleep. I think we could both do with it,” he advised as he got up and started to put things away.

Wei Ying nodded and washed up, getting ready for bed. Meng Yao was soon doing the same. The teen rolled over and went to sleep quickly before his mind could even start to plague him with thoughts of the Nie Sect Problem.

Chapter Forty

“I can’t believe I have to go again. I just got back not long before you came,” Nie Huaisang complained, “It was horrible, there are so many rules there,” he carried on, almost wailing as he hung on Wei Ying’s arm.

“What do you mean?” Wei Ying asked him, frowning at the others behaviour.

“Cloud Recesses Lectures,” he muttered, shuddering as though he was telling him a large dark forbidden secret.

“I heard about them, said that they really help those that wish to learn more about cultivation,” Wei Ying said. He had heard something about Jiang Cheng going to them. And then an argument about if Wei Ying would be allowed to go as well. Jiang Fengmian had wanted him to, of course, as his father had gone to them as well. But Madam Yu was against it, not wanting to give him the chance of showing up Jiang Cheng.

“They do,” Nie Mingjue said as he walked up behind the two of them, “And you’re going this time Nie Huaisang, you only got out of it the last time since we had some new cultivators join us. You won’t this time,” he told his brother, glaring down at him.

“Fine, fine,” he grumbled, staring at his brother, “But only if Wei Wuxian can come with me as well,” he smirked, thinking it would be a good way to get out of having to go if he wanted someone to go with him.

“Deal,” Nie Mingjue snorted. He had already figured out his brother was going to try something like this. He had already put Wei Ying’s name down for going. It would do the young teen some good, and it might just help with some of the ideas that the young genius had swirling in his mind. There were many of them.

Nie Huaisang pulled a small face but smiled. Wei Ying smiled beside him as he said, “That’s great, looks like I’ll be going with you.”

“Yeah,” Nie Huaisang sighed, “Fine.”

“Wei Wuxian,” Nie Mingjue looked at the young teenager, he was quickly heading towards fifteen now. Meng Yao had turned seventeen a few weeks ago. Xue Yang’s birthday was going to be next and he would finally be five and able to do more with the baby disciples. The child had been excited about it for the last month and was eagerly awaiting his birthday so he could join the bigger kids and train better.

“Yes, Sect Leader?” he asked as he looked at the man.

“I have a case that was brought to my attention. One that I would normally have the local offices take care of. But this one is a little more complicated,” he sighed. It wasn’t often that these types of cases would come to him. Most of the time they could be settled without him.

“What’s the case?” he asked, wondering what it was that he could help with. Since there wasn’t much he would be capable of doing to pass judgment on things. It wasn’t what he had trained in.

“I need a talisman that can show the parentage of a child, and to tell if the child was born from a consensual relationship or if one of the parents…,” he trailed off.

“Rape,” Wei Ying nodded, he had heard several things about such cases. That most women who had been in that position were just fobbed off. Told that they had asked for it, deserved it. Had seduced the men that had attacked them. Not many believed them and they usually had no choice but to not seek the justice that they deserved. Even if a child was involved. It was sickening for Wei Ying to see and hear about.

“I need something that will be able to help with that,” he asked him, “They will be here for the next three days. I know it would be hard, but I would like to see if you could do something. I want to see that those that… that do that vile thing get the type of punishment that they deserve instead of always getting away with it.”

“I’ll do my best,” he nodded, walking off and already mumbling to himself as he headed towards the library to see if he could make a start there.

Wei Ying was quick to get to work, he had already been thinking about it. Since Xue Yang mentioned about family and did he have anyone else out there. So, he had a few ideas written down, just not really researched properly.

XxXxX

Two days of non-stop work and Meng Yao dragging him to go to bed in the early hours of the morning. Only to find him gone before the older teenager had disappeared from their room before he had woken up. Wei Ying walked into the hall and gave it over, “Test this,” he ordered, yawning as he waited for Nie Mingjue to do so.

“How?” he asked him, frowning at the paper he now held in his hand.

“A drop of your blood on it,” he told him, “Just a drop and then anyone can activate it to find your relatives. The colour of the light tells the relationship between you and them,” he added.

“Okay,” he nodded as he used Baxia to cut his finger and put some blood on the talisman. Letting it drop onto the spot that Wei Ying had pointed at. He then used a little Qi and pushed it into the talisman. It burned brightly for a second, turning to ash as three beams of light left him. One going straight to Nie Huaisang, a light green one. One light was pink and the other blue, “What do they mean?” he asked him.

“Green and yellow mean siblings, brother and sister respectively. If they are a lighter colour, it means half brought or sister,” he explained, “Pink is cousins. Blue are uncles and aunts.”

“We do have an uncle and their daughter,” Nie Huaisang said, “And our mothers are different.”

“That’s good,” he smiled.

“We’re okay to use it now on the case?” Nie Mingjue asked him.

“I would get two more examples that could be used to show the colours and the meanings. We’d need the blood of the child though to show if one of their parents was a… rapist,” he yawned slightly, a look of disgust quickly appearing on his face as he thought of anyone getting away with such an act.

“Okay,” he nodded.

“Ren Zhu?” Nie Huaisang suggested, “She and her child would be able to.”

“If she will agree, her son is now nine and has already started training. So have them both brought there. Though it would be up to them if they wish to,” he added.

“Ren Zhu?” Wei Ying asked. Getting a brief history of the woman that had been raped some years ago and the child that had resulted from it, ” Right,” he nodded.

A young woman was brought into the room, in her arms was a baby, around six or seven months old. Wei Ying didn’t look happy about having to harm a child to get some blood from them. But it would be the only way to find out. He had done it for the child and not the adults. Which would have to be something he would change the next time. An older woman and a young man also walked in with them. It didn’t take Nie Huaisang long to come back with two women, a young man and three children trailing behind them.

Wei Ying had to explain the talisman to them all. The young woman clutched at the child in her arms, horrified at the thought of hurting him. He tested it on one of the families and then on Ren Zhu and her son. Showing the different colours and explaining what they meant. Wei Ying smiled at her, reassuring her that it would be alright and that her son would be fine.

“I don’t see the point of all this. I want to leave now, she’s just after money,” the man said, sneering at the woman that was still holding her son close to her chest.

“I need money to live. You should pay for what you have done. I have no home, no family because they believed the lies that you spread around about me. You… you attacked me, left me with a child and then thought that you can get away with it,” she called him out, eyes full of rage and hurt, tears quickly falling down her pale cheeks.

“This will prove it,” Wei Ying said as he held up another talisman, “For a parent that has raped the other, the light that will go towards them will be red,” he said as he walked over to the young woman.

“My son is an honourable young man Sect Leader Nie,” the older woman that was standing beside her son said, shaking her head, “He has been the target of such gossip and claims before,” she added.

“And this way we will have proof of whether or not he has done such things,” Nie Mingjue told her, “I will not stand for such acts within my territory.”

Wei Ying stood before the young woman, he had a small needle in his hand, “I need you to hold his hand still. This is going to hurt him, but it will only take a second,” he told her, looking just as upset as the young mother was at the thought of the needles going anywhere near such a young child. She nodded and Wei Ying moved as quickly as he could and pricked the little hand, gathering the blood onto the talisman. The baby screamed and was soon cuddled by his mother. “It is done Sect Leader Nie, would you like to do the honour of activating it,” he told him as he walked over and held it out to his Sect Leader.

Nie Mingjue took it and activated it. The talisman burned brightly for a moment, with a number of lights heading off it, including one light green that headed away. “He has a half-brother out there,” he said. A red light then went towards the man as a purple one went towards the woman. “If you remember it should be two purple lights, not one and a red one,” he remarked as he looked at the young man, “This is a sign that you raped this young woman, and that there is another with a child of yours out there,” he added, as he knew that the woman didn’t have any other children.

“I didn’t do anything, she… she asked for it!” he yelled, pointing at the poor woman.

“No woman that has been raped asks for it. You men think that you can just take what you want!” Ren Zhu said, shaking her head in disgust, “While there are honourable ones out there. It’s bastards like you that bring them down and they get painted with the same brush.”

“I…”

“Shut up! How… How could you do such a thing?” his mother said, hitting him across the face, “How… Did your father and I teach you to do such things to people?” she asked him, shaking her head in disgust. She turned away from her son, her heart hurting as she looked at the young woman, “My deepest apologies for what has been done to you,” she bowed, utterly humiliated by the behaviour of her own son. “Your child and the other,” she said as she looked at the Sect leader, “I may need some help to locate them,” she said softly.

“I will make sure that it can happen,” he nodded.

She turned back to the woman, “Your child and the other one will both be taken care of as will you and their mother. I am sorry,” she said once more, bowing to the woman, her eyes watery at how her son has acted.

“It… it isn’t your fault,” the young mother said, “I… I tried before to ask for help when my family kicked me out. I brought shame on them when I became pregnant. I… I didn’t want to bring the stigma to my son of being a child of such a union,” she whispered.

“There is no stigma on him in my eyes. I will make sure that you are both taken care of. Sect… Sect Leader, what is the punishment for my son?” she asked, her heart burdened with the fact that she didn’t know what she should do. She was upset with what he had done, angered and betrayed even. But he was still her son.

“He will be imprisoned for at least eight years for his crimes. And since there is another child of his out there, he is unmarried. There might be cause to believe the rumours about him and other women,” he said, trying to be gentle as he spoke. He could see how upset the older woman was.

“I understand,” she bowed to him, not looking at her son.

The young man yelled out at them all as he was taken down to the cells.

“I take it that you will be taking the young woman into your household?” Nie Mingjue asked the older woman.

“I will be. Her and her son, my grandson will be welcomed into my home as my daughter and so shall the other one,” she bowed again, looking at the young woman who nodded slightly.

“Very well,” he nodded, making a mental note to follow up on the family and to make sure that the young woman and her son were being properly taken care of. As would the other child that had been born.

“Thank you,” The young mother said, bowing as best as she could with her child in her arms. The older woman went over to her and started to talk as they walked out of the room.

“Wei Wuxian,” Nie Mingjue called as he looked over at the teen and then laughed. Wei Ying was fast asleep, standing up and leaning against the wall.

“He hasn’t really slept,” Meng Yao told him, his face slightly amused by the sight himself.

“Take him to his r… You know what,” Nie Mingjue laughed lightly as he stood up and walked over. He was easily able to pick Wei Wuxian up and into his arms. And carried him to his room. Leaving the other laughing as Meng Yao followed them.


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