Us Against the World – 1/2 – Duochanfan

Title: Us Against the World
Author: Duochanfan
Fandom: The Untamed/MoDao ZuShi
Genre: Action Adventure, Drama, Family, Hurt/Comfort, Mystery, Pre-Relationship, Slash
Relationship(s): Wei Ying/Lan Zhan
Content Rating: NC-17
Warnings: Hate Crimes/Hate Speech, Slavery, Torture, Violence – Graphic, Dark Themes, Death minor Character, Kidnapping, Violence – Canon-Level, Genocide
Author Notes:
Beta: Madyamisam
Word Count: 55,975
Summary: The Sunshot Campain is over, there is peace with the four remaining great Sects. Wei Wuxian is ill from his overuse of Resentful Energy, taken back to Cloud Recesses to finally rest and heal, he hopes that he can finally be at peace with all he has gone through. Only for those with greed in their hearts to demanded the Stygian Tiger Amulet. Now Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji have to fight to keep each other safe as well as their family.
Artist: Leilsilver



Chapter One

Wei Wuxian flew towards Wen Ruohan, struggling to breathe as the large hand clasped around his neck, squeezing it tightly. Wei Wuxian let the energy he was controlling flow into the corpses that were battling on the courtyard below. The darkness emitting quickly from the Stygian Tiger Amulet, flowing quickly into them, as soon as the dark energies entered the corpses that Wen Ruohan controlled they collapsed to the ground.

Wei Wuxian smirked as he looked towards the battle that was now over and then at Wen Ruohan. There was no one that he could control now. His brother and Lan Xichen were safe, and more importantly so was Lan Zhan.

“Stygian Tiger Amulet?” Wen Ruohan hissed, only for blood to spurt from his mouth as the tell-tale sound of a sword entering and exiting a person’s body was heard.

The grip around Wei Wuxian’s throat ease as the hand fell away as Wen Ruohan started to drop to the floor. Wei Wuxian began to descend, barely able to keep hold of his consciousness.

“Wei Ying!” came the worried tone of Lan Zhan as he reached him and caught him before he could fully hit the ground.

Wei Wuxian ignored the worried call and looked up, wanting to know who had stabbed Wen Ruohan. Who had ended the life of the madman that had destroyed the lives of so many people? Wen Ruohan hit the ground as Meng Yao dropped the sword he had used. Wei Wuxian couldn’t keep his eyes open any more as the exhaustion took its toll.

“Wei Ying!” Lan Zhan called, as Wei Wuxian fell into his arms. He heard shouts of victory sound from below. He spared a small glance, seeing his brother and Jiang Cheng standing along with Jin Zixuan heading towards them. Lan Zhan picked Wei Wuxian up and hurried down the steps towards his brother.

“Wei Wuxian?!” Jiang Cheng called out, seeing the unconscious form of his brother in Lan Zhan’s arms.

Lan Xichen rushed over, and quickly used what little spiritual energy he had remaining after the battle to check on the young man, “He must’ve exhausted his golden core, the resentful energy is very high,” he added, looking at his brother.

Lan Zhan nodded, “Hm.”

“Take him back to the base camp, for now, there are a few healers that will be able to help,” Lan Xichen ordered him.

Without another word, Lan Zhan headed back to the small base camp that they had nearby. Handing the still unconscious man over to the healers he heard a female cry as Jiang Yanli rushed towards them.

“A-Xian!” she called out to her little brother.

“Lady Jiang, we will see to him,” one of the young healers said, a gentle smile on her face as they took Wei Wuxian into a tent, the flap closing behind them.

Jiang Yanli turned to the man that had brought her brother back to camp and asked, “What happened? Is everyone else safe?”

Lan Zhan nodded, his eyes only drifting towards her for a moment before they locked onto the tent flaps once more.

XxXxX

Wei Xuxian felt heavy when he woke. His body ached in ways he had never felt before. He pushed it away as he opened his eyes, turning his head as he heard light breathing beside him. He smiled softly as the young woman, asleep with her head on his bed. He frowned, wondering where he was. Last he remembered, Wen Ruohan had just been killed.

“A-Xian,” came a delighted call of his name. The sweet tones of his sister calling for his attention as he looked at her.

“Shijie,” he smiled weakly as he attempted to get up, the pain in his body intensifying with the movement.

“A-Xian, careful,” she murmured sitting on the edge of the bed and helped him sit up, “Please, be careful A-Xian,” she admonished gently, a soft smile on her face.

“I’m fine,” he smiled at her, sitting up properly now. His body wanted to shake with the effort he was putting in to remain upright, but he refused to let the weakness he was feeling show to his sister. He didn’t want to worry her.

“Are you sure? You’re not in any pain at all?” she asked gently, moving a few strands of hair out of her little brother’s face.

“I’m fine Shijie,” he smiled brighter for her. Doing his best to reassure her that he was just fine.

“How long?” he asked her.

“You’ve been asleep for three days,” she answered.

“Lan Zhan, Jiang Cheng are they okay?” he asked, his voice shaking at the thought of something happening to the two.

Jiang Yanli smiled at him, “They’re fine. What’s important is that you rest, please. They have been very worried about you when you didn’t wake up,” she told him gently. “Even Clan Leader Jin rushed from Lanling to come and see you a few times. He is now leading the troops to chase down the remaining Wen Clan.”

Wei Wuxian snorted a little, “I didn’t see him at all during the Sunshot Campaign, didn’t want no part of it, and now that it’s over, he’s helping and all for it,” he sneered, eyes narrowing at the thought of the man.

“A-Xian,” she called, a warning in her tone, “Don’t be spiteful.”

Wei Wuxian pouted a little at his sister as he said contritely, “okay Shijie.” He sighed softly as he steeled himself to sit up properly.

“No, Second Young Master Lan said that you used up too much spiritual energy using the Amulet, you need to rest for a few more days,” she told him, hands on his shoulder, wanting to push him back down on the bed.

“You… know about that?” he asked, looking worried and sorrowful.

Jiang Yanli nodded, “I do, you’ve been so good A-Xian, but you can’t use it any more. Second Young Master Lan said that it could harm you, use up too much spiritual energy and change your temperament.”

Wei Wuxian pouted at her, taking a teasing tone, “Second Young Master Lan, Second Young Master Lan, you keep talking about him?”

She smiled softly, “You’re being naughty. But the last few days while you were in a coma he would come every morning and evening and play his guqin to you to relax your mind and spirit. Without him it would have taken you longer to wake up,” her voice going quiet.

Wei Wuxian looked at her for a moment before looking away. A part of him was grateful to the other for his help. Jiang Yanli smiled, turning her head when there was a knock at the door to the building he was in. “That must be Second Young Master Lan,” she smiled as she glanced at her brother before getting up and going to the door.

Wei Wuxian watched her go, moving the blanket off of him and doing his best to sit up without showing the pain on his face. He didn’t want them to worry, he would be fine after all. He had been through a lot worse. Sitting up, he watched his sister open the door.

“Lady Jiang,” he greeted with a bow.

“Second Young Master Lan,” she greeted smiling as she curtsy a little and then gestured for him to come inside. She stepped out of the way and moved back towards the bed.

Lan Zhan stepped inside and turned, lifting his head up he paused as he saw Wei Wuxian sitting on the bed.

Lan Zhan walked with Jiang Yanli towards the bed, as they reached it, she turned to him and bowed her head towards him, “Thank you, Second Young Master Lan, without you, I doubt that A-Xian would have woken so soon. I shall leave you two to talk, I’ll go and help those that are still wounded.” With that she turned and walked out of the building, closing the doors tightly behind her.

Wei Wuxian took a few moments before looking up at him. Lan Zhan nodded and walked over to the small low table and set his guqin on it. He began to play, as he had done on all his visits over the last few days. Wei Wuxian watched him, still sitting on the bed as he played. “Lan Zhan, actually I-”

“Be quiet,” he admonished, “concentrate.”

Wei Wuxian gave a small pout as he brushed his nose before taking up the lotus position on the bed. Closing his eyes he tried to meditate, letting the music flow over him. He could feel the resentment that was still inside of him, scrambling to come out, to attack and harm quieten a little more. He hid the wince as his body once more demanded rest. After a little while, he smiled, pretending that his body was fine.

“Lan Zhan, I’m okay,” he grinned to him, moving around freely. Ignoring the pain it was causing him.

Lan Zhan stopped, looking over at him and seeing the movement, he got up and went over as Wei Wuxian stood up. “Three more days,” he told him.

“Really, I’m fine,” he insisted, smiling and showing the free movements of his arms.

“You need more time to quiet your spirit and rest your body,” Lan Zhan warned him again.

“I’m really fine,” he shook his head, stubbornly ignoring his body as he walked away from him.

“Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan reached out for him.

“There’s no harm in me going out for a walk,” Wei Wuxian said, “Let me get changed.”

Lan Zhan nodded as he walked out of the room.

XxXxX

Wei Wuxian’s heartfelt heavy when he asked, “Lan Zhan are you afraid that I’ll be like Wen Ruohan, who was controlled by the Yin Iron?” he paused for a moment, “The Stygian Tiger Amulet, isn’t the Yin Iron, and I’m not Wen Ruohan.” He said as he looked at what he thought was his friend. Someone who believed in him.

“Help!” came a cry from the distance, more soon followed. “Help!”

“Please, don’t kill my child!”

Lan Zhan and Wei Wuxian looked at each other before they headed towards the cries. They rushed through the trees and came across a road, seeing those of the Jin Sect shooting down those that couldn’t fight back. The last male fell to the ground as Jin Zixun notched another arrow and aimed it towards an elderly woman. She was carrying a child in her arms, running as fast as she could away from them.

A look of horror crossed Wei Wuxian’s face as he looked at Lan Zhan. With a small nod, he pulled out Bichen and sent a slash of spiritual energy out as the arrow flew towards the fleeing woman and child. The arrows were intercepted and the two quickly jumped to the road, to block the way between the Jin disciples and the woman and child.

Jin Zixun handed his bow to one of the men next to him, a distasteful smirk on his face as he said, “Such impudence Second Young Master Lan. Why are you protecting the Wen dogs?”

“These people took no part in the Wen oppression.” Lan Zahn said.

“What does that matter? They are Wen dogs. We are eliminating an evil threat to peace.”

“What possible evil threat to peace can non-cultivating women, children, sick and elderly be to you, Jin Zixun? Or are your cultivation skills that poor?” Wei Wuxian asked, gripping Chenqing tightly. Jin Zixun’s nose literally flared at the insult. Wei Wuxian knew it was probably not a good idea to fight in his condition.

“You!” he roared readying to pull his sword when a messenger stopped him in his tracks.

“Young master! Clan leader requests you to return to the main headquarters.” Jin Zixun huffed however after a moment of mulling over picking a fight with two arguably prominent figures in the campaign and angering his uncle for tardiness wasn’t the best idea. He resheathed the sword and sneered. His job was done anyway.

Wei Wuxian watched and murmured, “I’m afraid there will be even more resentful spirits in Qishan, I’m afraid what is needed now,” looking towards Lan Zhan, “is the music ‘Requiescat’.”

Lan Zhan looked up at him as Wei Wuxian then took off the restraining hand and walked away. It didn’t take long for him to hear the sounds of Wanji echo in the forest around him. Without a thought, he pulled Chenquin from his belt and began to play along. Their sounds mixing together, helping to calm the energies released from the death of those just killed.

Wei Wuxian played the last note, a small smile on his face as he began to walk back to where Lan Zhan was. He stumbled a little, the pain in his body, the exhaustion of his mind trying to pull him down. He closed his eyes, pushing it away once again. Having his Golden Core taken out, and then the three months in the Burial Grounds, only to end up straight into helping with the Sunshot campaign without rest had left his body, mind and spirit on the edge of failing. Standing up straight, black spots began to appear in his eyes. Closing his eyes and lumping where he stood he didn’t hear someone approach him.

“Wei Ying?” came the voice of a very concerned Lan Zhan. The man looked exhausted, he reached out to help him, only to quickly bring his hand back towards him, stopping himself.

Wei Wuxian quickly stood up straight, his usual smile on his face as he opened his eyes, “Yes?” he asked as the other walked closer to him.

“Are you alright?” he asked, taking the last step to stand beside Wei Wuxian.

He smiled at the other, “I’m fine Lan Zhan, we should return,”.

“Hm,” he nodded, though he looked doubtful of his words, he was relieved that Wei Wuxian decided to return to rest again.

They rejoined the road, looking sadly at the bodies of those that had been killed. Closing his eyes for a moment before opening them, Wei Wuxian walked away, Lan Zhan followed closely behind. He stopped after a moment, his body feeling like lead and it pulled him down. Feeling the pain in his body intensify, he could help the small cry passing his lips. The pain became too much as he started to fall. Everything became dark after that.

“Wei Ying?!” Lan Zhan called out when he heard the cry and rushed to Wei Wuxian’s side just as he was about to crash to the floor. He cradled the unconscious form of his friend in his arms. “Wei Ying!” he called, shaking him to try to get him to respond.

Wei Wuxian remained unconscious as sweat began to bead on his forehead and his breathing became erratic. Lan Zhan reached up, pressing a hand against a now fevered brow. Grimacing, he slid an arm under Wei Wuxian’s leg and picked him up and rushed back towards the healer quarters once more.

Chapter Two

Jiang Yanli was sitting on the edge of the bed, gently washing Wei Wuxian’s face. Her eyes filled with worry as she looked down at her little brother. Once again he was unconscious, the flush of a fever on his face. It hadn’t even been a day since he had woken up from his coma and now he was back in bed. She looked up as she felt a hand on her shoulder. She smiled up at Jiang Cheng in hopes to reassure her youngest brother, judging from the worry etched on his face as well. Lan Wanji stood on the other side of the room, staring at the figure on the bed. Though his face remained impassive, Jiang Yanli could tell he was worried just as much as they were.

“He still has a fever but, there are no injuries that the healer can see,” Jiang Yanli said softly.

“Do… do you think it’s the method he uses?” Jiang Cheng asked, almost hesitant to bring it up. He knew that his brother and Lan Wanji had fought over the demonic cultivation that Wei Wuxian used and it hadn’t helped that Jiang Cheng had actively encouraged his brother during the campaign.

“Resentful energy harms the body,” Lan Zhan explained from where he was standing.

Jiang Yanli nodded, she had heard the same from the Healer. Biting her lower lip for a moment as she looked back at the unconscious Wei Wuxian.“The energy is still around him,”

“Cleansing?” Jiang Cheng asked, looking from his sister and towards Lan Wangji.

Lan Zhan nodded, “It would be best to go to Gusu.”

Jiang Yanli nodded as she went back to tending to her brother. The three were silent for a little while longer until there came a groan from the man on the bed, “A-Xian,” she whispered trying to coax the young man to consciousness.

“Shijie?” Wei Wuxian blinked a few times. Eyes heavy as they could barely remain open.

“I’m right here A-Xian,” she smiled at him as his eyes searched for her and found her.

Wei Wuxian smiled, he began to try and sit up. He could feel himself begin to shake with the strain as his hand gently guided him back onto the bed, “Shijie, I’m fine, I need to get up,” he told her, he heard a snort from somewhere in the room. Looking around he saw Jiang Cheng.

“You’re ill idiot,” he rolled his eyes at his brother and took a few steps towards the bed, having gone to the side to talk with Lan Wangji, who followed him.

“Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan called softly, as he approached the bed, “Please, come back to Gusu with me.”

Wei Wuxian looked at him, shaking his head. “I’ve got to go back to Lotus Pier, I have to help with rebuilding.”

“I’ll take care of that,” Jiang Cheng told him, “You get better, and then you can come and join me again,” he smirked at him.

“A-Xian,” Jiang Yanli said, catching his attention before he could refuse to go again, “I want you to go to Gusu with Second Young Master Lan.”

“But-”

“A-Xian, I’m worried about you.” the look in Yanli’s eyes showed Wei Wuxian just how worried about him she truly was, “Please, go there for me,” she pleaded.

Wei Wuxian had always been weak for anything his shijie had asked of him, and it was no different now, “okay,” he nodded with a resigned sigh.

“Thank you,” she smiled at him brightly.

“Will… will you come with me as well?” he asked her, he knew that he would be fine with Lan Zhan there, but he knew the rumours going around about him and he wanted some form of family there.

“Of course,” she agreed easily.

“I shall make the preparations,” Lan Zhan nodded as he then left the room.

Wei Wuxian looked at his sister, his eyes were already beginning to droop as he started to fight the exhaustion and illness his body suffered.

“Sleep A-Xian, I’ll be here when you wake up,” she assured.

And with those gentle words and her continued care, Wei Wuxian let himself drift off to sleep.

XxXxX

Jiang Yanli sighed softly, as she checked Wei Wuxian’s temperature again a few hours later. It was holding steady, not getting worse, but not getting any better. She looked up as there was a soft knock at the door. She hurried to her feet, knowing that it would be Lan Zhan. She let the man inside, closing the door, Jiang Cheng walked behind Lan Zhan as the two went inside.

“Is everything all right?” she asked the two.

Jiang Cheng shook his head, “There’s a banquet being held, we’ve been asked to go. I’m going to make an excuse for Wei Wuxian, but I don’t think it will go down well with both of you missing.”

“My brother is also making my excuse, so I can leave shortly with Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan added, not even looking at the two siblings, but to the man resting on the bed.

“How are you going to get back home?” Jiang Yanli asked as she walked towards the bed.

“Normally I would travel by sword, but as Wei Ying is unwell, I am unsure it is a good idea,” Lan Zhan said, still watching Wei Wuxian.

“The sooner you can get him to Gusu the better,” Jiang Cheng replied, “Going by sword will be difficult but if we delay, my brother will get worse.”

“People keep asking for him, wanting to know how he is and about the Amulet as well.” Jiang Yanli murmured, “I want him somewhere safe where he can fully rest and heal without people all scrambling for his attention.

“It will take you over ten days to get back to Cloud Recesses. If you go via sword, it will take you about nine maybe ten hours,” Jiang Cheng said, doing a quick calculation in his head.

Lan Zhan nodded, “Yes, but I’ll split that journey over two days. We should reach one of the smaller cities, remain the night there and then travel the rest of the way.”

Jiang Yanli nodded, “That sounds good,” she smiled at him. “As soon as the feast is over I will head to Cloud Recesses, by sword as well, one of the Disciples can take me.”

“I suggest going in the morning,” Jiang Cheng added, “Rest up before going. I’ll have a few of the senior disciples to escort you,” he added, knowing that she didn’t have the level of cultivation needed to travel by such a method.

Jiang Yanli looked down at her brother and then nodded, “All right.”

Lan Zhan nodded and started to make the last preparations needed to get Wei Wuxian up in the air. Already a path formed in his mind. Wei Wuxian was barely awake as he was helped to his feet and clothes in heavy robes to make sure he would be kept warm during their journey. Within half an hour they were speeding away from Nightless City, a few Lan Disciples flying with him.

XxXxX

Nie Huaisang walked through the endless streets. Most abandoned now, with a flick of his wrist his fan was away as he saw Jiang Cheng. “Brother Cheng!” he called out, catching the attention of others.

“Huaisang,” he greeted back, “What are you doing here?” he puzzled.

“I was hoping to see Brother Wuxian.” There was a worried look on Nie Huaisang’s, “I know he took ill and was hoping to see how he is.”

“I’ve sent him with Huanguang Jun to Cloud Recesses, my sister and I think he will recover better there,” Jiang Cheng answered.

Nie Huaisang nodded in agreement and gently waving his favourite fan, “I did overhear a few people talking about Jin Guangshan wishing to discuss the Stygian Tiger Amulet at the banquet this evening”

Jiang Cheng looked at him, “Thanks for the warning. It’s with Wei Wuxian, it’ll be safe with him.”

Nie Huaisang smiled slightly, “That’s good to hear,” he told him, “I have been hearing rumours that he covets it. Though, I don’t really know for sure if this is true.”

“That-” Jiang Cheng began, purple lightning lighting up the ring on his hand as his temper began to fray, “It’s out of the way for now. I don’t want him near it,” he added.

“There is also word that he will be trying to attain a marriage between Jin Zixuan and your sister as his way of supporting your clan since it’s still weak from Wen’s attack. His reason is that marriage will help your sect recover faster,” his words were blunt, but he knew better than to use subtle words when it came to Jiang Cheng.

Jiang Cheng froze at the words, “Weak,” he muttered darkly, a sneer on his face as he thought of the leader of the Jin Sect. The man got on his nerves in more ways than one. “As if I would let A-Jie marry that peacock,” he added as he began to head away.

Nie Huaisang shook his head as he watched, a flick of his wrist and he fluttered his fan over his mouth, a smile on his lips as he then walked away. What he wanted to do was done, he just hoped that Wei Wuxian would recover well from what was ailing him.

XxXxX

Jin Guangshan looked around seeing a few key members of the Sunshot campaign missing. He looked towards Clan Leader Lan and Clan Leader Jiang for the answer.

Jiang Cheng stood, bowing to Jin Guangshan, “My apologies, Wei Wuxian took ill this afternoon.”

Lan Xichen also stood, bowing to the older sect leader, “I apologize as well for Lan Wangji’s absence. He is escorting Wei Wuxian to Cloud Recesses.”

“I see, I do hope that Young Master Wei recovers well,” Jin Guangshan said to them both, a strained smile on his face.

“I thank you for your well wishes,” Jiang Cheng bowed once more before sitting back down. Lan Xichen did the same, they exchanged a quick glance between each other before they turned their attention to the rest of the discussion going on.

As the meal progressed Jiang Cheng caught Jin Guangshan watching him and his sister. He caught a glance from Nie Huaisang and he knew that the rumour that the older man had told him was true. It was confirmed moments later when Jin Guangshan interrupted the last of the meal.

“As you know,” he began, calling attention from those gathered, “Because of a misunderstanding, the betrothal between my son and the daughter of my late friend was called off. I would like to offer to renew their engagement. So our families can be joining in marriage. Not only to bring comfort to my late friends’ spirits. But to allow me to look after my good friend’s daughter,” he finished his speech, and then looked towards Jiang Cheng, “Clan Leader Jiang?”

Jiang Cheng blocked out the others all calling to him that this was a good thing. He knew that his sister still cared for Jin Zixuan. But glancing at her, he didn’t want to make the decision for her. He stood up and bowed to Jin Guangshan, “Clan leader Jin, I thank you for your consideration. My mother may have wished for the marriage between them because of her sisterhood with Madam Jin, but as this is Yanli’s life and her marriage, I do not answer for her. The decision is up to my sister. It should not be meddled with by others,” He looked at Jiang Yanli and nodded to her, letting her know that no matter the decision she makes he would stand with her.

Jiang Yanli smiled at her brother as she stood up, bowing to Jin Guangshan she spoke with conviction, “I thank you for the kindness,” she said to her brother before addressing Clan Leader Jin, “The Jiang Clan is rebuilding, we have suffered heavy losses. My place is not with a new husband, but with my family in Yummeng, and at Lotus Pier to help with the rebuilding and training of the new disciples. Thank you but I shall have to decline for now,” she bowed to him as they received a nod from Jin Guangshan.

Jiang Cheng let out a breath of relief. He glanced once more towards Nie Huaisang. If he had heard correctly then the man wanted to get his hands on the Stygian Tiger Amulet, Jin Guangshan would certainly hope to put pressure on Wei Wuxian if they went through with the marriage after gaining authority in Yunmeng. He needed to be careful as he watched Jin Guangyao stand and make the announcement of the Autumn Hunt. For now, he would worry about it later. As in the morning, he would be seeing Jiang Yanli off with a few of the disciples that had survived the burning of Lotus Pier to Cloud Recesses.

XxXxX

As soon as the sun rose the next day, Jiang Yanli and Jiang Cheng were already outside in a small clearing near Nightless city. A few trusted disciples were already beside them.

“Li Xuefang,” Jiang Cheng ordered to the eldest of the disciples, “I ask that you take care of my sister in my stead, make sure she reaches Cloud Recess safely.”

“On my honour, I shall get her there safely and swiftly,” he replied, bowing to his Sect Leader.

“I shall see you soon A-Cheng,” Jiang Yanli said as he hugged her brother and then took hold of Li Xuefang as he took to the sky. She shuddered a little, hating being so high but she gritted her teeth as the wind whipped around her. She was glad of the extra layers that Jiang Cheng had made her wear.

“Lady Jiang, I will be going fast, so please, tighten your hold even more,” Li Xuefang suggested to the woman, she already had a good grip, but a tighter one would be needed with the speed he wanted to go at.

“Will we be stopping at any time?” she asked him.

“Yes, at the halfway mark, a small stop to eat, drink, replenish some energy and make sure that we are fully warmed up. The flight is long and it is cold at these heights,” he answered as the other two disciples flew either side. Both keeping pace, in case Lady Yanli slipped.

“That would be most kind,” she called out, her voice louder to be heard over the roaring of the wind around them. She glanced down and tightened her hold as they began to fly faster towards Cloud Recesses. Her mind wandered a little over the health of her brother, worried that he had become worse during the flight himself, or even during the night. She shook away the thoughts and concentrated on her hold. She would see her brother again as night descended on the world.

Chapter Three

Lan Zhan glanced down at Wei Wuxian for a second. They had been up in the air for hours already and the sky darkened quickly. The cold air around them caused the man in his arms to shiver violently. The shakes had been getting worse and Lan Zhan knew they had to go down. Wei Ying had been unconscious during the trip so far, and he hoped he would be for the second leg in the morning. Looking at the two other Lan disciples that were with him he called out, “We should land now, search for an inn”. The two Lan sect disciples nodded and began to descend towards the ground, glancing around for the nearest town.

“Huanguang Jun, there are lights there,” one of them pointed out, gesturing to the faint flickering lights that were coming from a distance.

“Then we shall rest there for tonight and leave at first light,” he agreed as they sped towards it. Landing just outside of the town entrance. They sheath their swords and began to walk.

“Lan Zhan,” came a weak call from the man settled in his arms.

“Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan answered, “We are staying at an inn for the night.”

“Cold,” he shivered, trying to move closer towards Lan Zhan, the only source of warmth around him.

Lan Zhan pulled him closer, “We should hurry,” he said as he took the lead into the town and walked towards the nearest Inn.

“I shall organize two rooms Huanguang Jun,” the other disciple said as he went ahead.

Lan Zhan walked inside after him, feeling the warmth of the inn surrounding him. Glancing down, Wei Wuxian curled up against him even more. Seeking out his warmth. He saw the disciple gesture him over.

“We have two rooms,” he said, as the innkeeper began to lead the way to the bedrooms. The two disciples pairing up into one room as Lan Zhan took Wei Wuxian into the other. Laying Wei Wuxian down onto the bed as gently as he could. He heard the door close behind him, with a promise of warm food and drink to be brought up soon.

Lan Zhan pulled off the two outer robes that Wei Wuxian had been wrapped in and took off the younger boots. Settling him on the bed properly and covering up with thick blankets. Pressing the back of his hand on his forehead, Lan Zhan could feel how much his temperature has risen during their journey. They were halfway towards Cloud Recesses, maybe a little more than halfway as they travelled for almost six hours until night began to fall.

Lan Zhan got up when there was a knock at the door. Answering it, was a young woman with a serving tray, two meals, both broth, sat on it along with tea and cups. “Thank you,” he nodded to her as he took it and closed the door behind him. Setting it aside, he gently began to wake Wei Wuxian. “Time to have something to eat, it will help warm you up.” He helped Wei Wuxian sit up, letting the other lean against him, as he reached over and took one of the bowls, and helped him to eat.

“No more,” Wei Wuxian said after having almost half of the bowl.

Lan Zhan wasn’t happy, but set the bowl aside, making the other drink some of the available water after he turned down the tea. “Rest, I shall be on the other bed,” he told him softly as he helped him lay back down, making sure he was well covered to keep warm.

Wei Wuxian smiled at him, “I will,” it didn’t take long for him to fall asleep.

Lan Zhan was quiet as he ate his food, and drank a little tea before he cleaned himself up and got ready for bed. He glanced over at Wei Wuxian one last time before he too drifted off to sleep.

XxXxX

Wei Wuxian looked around the Burial Ground. He could feel the resentment pushing at all sides. The voices of the dead, called to him, pleading with him for help. Others called him to take their vengeance. To kill, to hunt. Wei Wuxian shook his head, putting his hands over his ears, wanting to scream, but his voice trapped in his throat. He tried to move, to get away, but his body, heavy, didn’t respond. He couldn’t move. His hands were pulled away from his ears and trapped tightly against his sides.

“Join us,” a voice hissed in one ear.

“Help me, save me,” another pleaded.

“Kill them, flay them alive and boil them,” a third growled.

“No,” Wei Wuxian’s voice was weak, not even a whisper. “Shut up, please,” he pleaded to the air around him and began to press down on him.

Hand’s grabbed his legs, arms, and any part they could reach. His eyes widened as he felt the pull on him. Wanting to curl up, but unable to move he could feel resentful energy that was within him reacting to what was going on. Wei Wuxian began to gather it, hoping to force the hands away. “Leave me alone,” he begged, tears beginning to fall from fearful eyes.

XxXxX

Lan Zhan woke when he felt a heavy pressure in the room. Turning to glance towards Wei Wuxian, he bolted upright in bed and flew from it, grabbing his Guqin and playing a few notes. The dark energies that had been surrounding Wei Wuxian soon dissipated with the music. Lan Zhan glanced around, the heaviness still in the room, but the pressure he had been feeling lightened. Putting away his instrument once more he looked at Wei Wuxian, hoping to see a peaceful look on the other’s face. Instead, tears were running down flushed cheeks.

“Wei Ying,” he called out as he headed over to the bed, placing a gentle hand on the young man’s shoulder.

“NO!” he screamed, eyes flying open as he pushed himself away from the hand, curling up against the wall, staring at nothing. All he could see was the burial ground.

Lan Zhan pulled his hand back, “Wei Ying,” he called to him, “You are safe,” he said, repeating himself a few times. Gentle voice coaxing him to pay attention to him, to remind him where he was. “Wei Ying, I’m here,” he called to him again.

Wei Wuxian slowly began to pay attention to the voice that felt more familiar to him than the screams, pleas and growls of the other voices that bombarded him. His eyes came to rest on the man before him, and not the shadows that played in his sight. “La… Lan Zhan?” the question, not even sure if he was real.

“I’m here Wei Ying,” he said, a small upturn on his lips. He reached out, not touching, letting the other decide if he wanted to take hold. Slowly a pale and thin hand reached out and took it. As soon as Wei Wuxian felt the warmth he launched himself into Lan Zhan.

“You’re real,” he muttered over and over again, clinging to him.

Lan Zhan was startled, and it took him a moment before he closed his arms around the other man, holding him and whispering, “yes, I’m here with you. You’re not alone.”

Wei Wuxian clung to him for a moment longer, trembling from the aftermath of what he had gone through in his dream. He felt Lan Zhan start to let him go when he whispered, “Please, don’t leave me,” he pleaded.

Lan Zhan moved his head back and then nodded. “Okay,” he agreed, getting Wei Wuxian to lie down once more, he then lay beside him, on his back for a moment before he felt the other curl up against him. He moved an arm, taking hold of a shaking hand, “I’m here with you,” he whispered as he turned a little and got comfortable.

Wei Wuxian stared at him for a bit, a small tired smile on his face as he slowly let himself drift off to sleep. Feeling safer with Lan Zhan beside him. Lan Zhan watched him, brushing the hair out of his Wei Wuxian’s face. Closing his eyes and easily falling asleep, a small smile on his face.

XxXxX

Lan Zhan woke as soon as the sun began its descent into the sky. Glancing towards Wei Wuxian, there was still a flush on his face. Checking his temperature and finding it was still the same as it had been during the night when he had first got Wei Wuxian to sleep. He moved to get ready for the day. Letting Wei Wuxian sleep a while longer until breakfast was delivered. Almost an hour after waking they were walking towards the town entrance to begin the last part of the journey to cloud recesses.

Wei Ying shook as Lan Zhan brought out his word, letting it hover. The last time he had been on the sword he had been unconscious. He knew that Lan Zhan wouldn’t drop him, but the fear, the memory of falling. Being so high up made him want to rip himself from Lan Zhan’s grip.

“No,” he breathed in short pants, eyes widening.

“Wei Ying, you are safe,” he assured not sure why Wei Wuxian was reluctant to get on the sword with him.

“I-” Wei Wuxian shook his head, “Please,” he begged, trying to step away, but his legs giving out beneath him.

Lan Zhan was quick to tighten his grip, pulling him closer, “I will keep you safe, I promise,” he said as he reached up a hand and brushed the errant stray hairs out of Wei Wuxian’ eyes.

Wei Wuxian, after settling, saw something in Lan Zhan’s eyes that he didn’t quite recognise through his fevered mind. “I… I trust you.”

Lan Zhan gave him a small smile as they stepped onto the sword. Wei Wuxian grasped Lan Zhan’ robes as tightly as he could. Shaking from the fear he was feeling, he gulped and closed his eyes, deciding to trust the man who’s arms were wrapped around him.

“How are you feeling?” Lan Zhan asked as they took to the air.

“Tired,” Wei Wuxian answered him honestly, though he kept quiet as to how fearful he felt as he closed his eyes, pressing his face against Lan Zhan’ chest, hoping to ignore the fact that they were flying high above the ground.

“We shall be there soon,” Lan Zhan promised. He guessed from how far they had travelled to be around four and a half hours away from Cloud recesses.

Wei Wuxian nodded, gripping onto him a little more as they sped through the skies. Lan Zhan’s arms tightened around him a little more, making sure that he wouldn’t fall. Wei Wuxina’s energy was quickly beginning to fade. By the time they were beginning to land, Wei Wuxian was barely conscious. It was only thanks to Lan Zhan’s strength that he was still on the sword as they landed. Moving quickly, he swung Wei Wuxian up into his arms, only just able to hear the protests from him.

“Welcome home Second Young Master Lan,” the guards greeted, bowing.

“Thank you, I am heading to the Jingshi, please ask Healer Lan to meet me there,” he ordered, as he moved past them and towards his home.

“Yes Huanguang Jun,” they said and went about their tasks. One rushed off to find Healer Lan, the other went to report to the elders that they have returned and to where Lan Zhan would be.

Lan Zhan entered his home and gently placed Wei Wuxian down.

“You didn’t have to carry me,” Wei Wuxian moaned, shivering a little.

“You were tired,”

Wei Wuxian snorted, his eyes starting to close as he was helped out of his outer robes. “Sorry,” he murmured, hating that he was so weak that he couldn’t even take care of himself.

“No need for sorry, rest, a healer will be here soon,” Lan Zhan replied, covering him up with a thick blanket. He went to the fire and started one up while watching Wei Wuxian shiver on the bed as he curled up under the blanket.

There was a knock at the Jingshi door a few moments later, as the room started to heat up. Lan Zhan went over and opened it, bowing to the healer as he walked inside. Without speaking a word, he was directed to the young man, half-asleep on the bed.

“Wei Ying, the healer is here,” Lan Zhan said as he showed the Healer where Wei Wuxian was resting.

“Don’t need a healer,” Wei Wuxian protested as he tried to sit up, trying to shake the sleepiness that was clinging to him.

Lan Zhan had to take a step back as Healer Lan began his examination. Wei Wuxian had tried to bat the man away, but it wasn’t hard to stop him and work around his protests. Almost twenty minutes later he finished, “All I can tell is that the resentful energy has sunk inside of him. It is blocking his core, I can’t reach it at all.”

“The resentment is blocking it?” Lan Zhan frowned.

“Yes, completely, I can’t even sense it,” he shook his head, “This is a consequence of choosing an evil path. It is no wonder he is so tired and weak. Without his spiritual energy to help him remain warm, he will get cold easily. I would suggest playing cleansing and clarity to help drive the resentful energy away.”

“I shall do so,” Lan Zhan nodded.

“I would wait until the fever breaks. His body is weakened from being cut off from his core. With the fever, it is even weaker. When it breaks, let him recover a little more and then you can begin. I will stop by later to see how he is doing. I shall have a tea brought to you, to help with the fever and order the kitchens to prepare the usual broths for him,” he added, standing up straight, a furrow in his brow as he looked to the barely awake young man.

“Thank you for your assistance,” Lan Zhan bowed as the healer then left the Jingshi. It wasn’t long after when someone knocked on the door again, handing over some tea while another brought food for Lan Zhan and some broth for Wei Wuxian. After making sure the younger man had eaten and drank the tea, he then ate himself, only being disturbed when Jiang Yanli arrived and rushed to the Jingshi to check on her younger brother and to tell the two of them what had happened during the banquet.

Chapter Four

Wei Wuxian smiled as Jiang Yanli finally left him alone. The last few days he had been on strict bed rest. Recovering from a fever that broke the day before. He was still supposed to be in bed. But he was bored, and a bored Wei Wuxian was a dangerous thing, though that was mostly just to himself. As soon as the doors to the Jingshi closed behind his adoptive sister. He threw off the blanket and on shaky legs, he got to his feet. He still felt weak, but being in bed for four days, well he could only take so much boredom until he broke. A little bit of walking couldn’t hurt, he reasoned to himself.

Washing and changing his clothes had left him feeling drained, but he was determined to use the time he was spending alone to get out of the Jingshi and to actually have a little fresh air. Walking to the doors, he opened them slowly, peeking out and glancing around, making sure that no one was there. A bright smile appeared on his face as he began to walk out, looking up at the sky, the sun was shining and it was a little cold, but it felt a lot better than being stuck inside.

“Oh!” Wei Wuxian laughed lightly as he saw several bunnies hopping around the grass nearby. Stepped down and walking towards a small group of them, he noticed that they reminded him more of the two he had gifted to Lan Zhan during their student days. He settled down on the grass and grabbed for the nearest bunny. He brought it up to his face and smiled.

“Are you Lan Zhan’s?” he wondered, “You look like one of the ones that I gave him,” he chuckled and then shook his head, “No, you… you couldn’t be they were both males,” he laughed brightly.

“Wei Ying?” came a concerned voice from behind him.

“Shush,” Wei Wuxian said, glancing around, finger on his lips as another bunny climbed into his lap.

Lan Zhan couldn’t help the small smile appearing on his face as he walked over slowly and sat down beside him, “You should be resting,” he reminded him.

“I am resting, I’m just outside resting,” he told him, a slight whine in his voice as he continued, “I’m just tired of being inside, it’s so boring Lan Zhan.”

“Hm,” Lan Zhan nodded.

“You know,” Wei Wuxian began softly, “seeing them reminds me a little of the cold cave, remember?” he asked him, glancing over at the man.

“I do,”

“I was so cold, and those poor bunnies were in there. I know they were keeping her company, and I could see the fondness for them in her eyes when she spoke of them,” he added gently, “but I bet they were as cold as we were.”

“I was not cold,” Lan Zhan told him.

Wei Wuxian snorted, “No, you weren’t shivering and turning blue, but I was,” he chuckled lightly. “Did I ever thank you for saving me there?” he asked him.

“There is no need,” Lan Zhan said.

“There is every need. So thank you,” Wei Ying argued, letting himself lean against Lan Zhan.

Lan Zhan looked down at him, “Always there for you.”

“Oh Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan,” Wei Ying smiled, unable to resist the urge to tease, “How sweet,If you were saying that to a lady, they would be swooning at your feet,”. Having said that though Wei Wuxian felt like swooning a little himself.

“Hm,” he hummed, almost looking afraid to move.

“Being… Being tied to you like that,” Wei Wuxian began, his voice a little quiet, almost shy, “It… it made me feel safe, cared for.”

“WHAT!” came a yell from behind them.

Wei Wuxian jumped, the bunnies fell from his lap, as his eyes went wide at the sudden noise. He scrambled away from Lan Zhan, as though he was trying to find a place to hide. Lan Zhan ignored the yell and the two people that were in the small area with them as he called out, “Wei Ying, it’s okay,” he said, his voice gently coaxing as he finally got Wei Wuxian to stop trying to get away from him.

“Lan… Lan Zhan,” he panted, eyes still wide after the scare.

“Yes, I’m here, you’re safe,” he added, letting the other almost curl up against him. Ignoring the explosive look on his uncle’s face and the small pleased smile of his brothers, he pulled Wei Wuxian closer to him. Rubbing his back and soothing the shock and fear that the other was experiencing.

“Our apologies for startling you, Young Master Wei,” Lan Xichen said softly as he began to approach.

“It’s fine,” Wei Wuxian tried to brush it off as he began to sit up alone, already missing the warmth and support that Lan Zhan had been giving him. He was still shaking, he looked at Lan Zhan as he felt him take his hand. Feeling a little more secure, he looked up again.

“What do you mean by a ribbon tied to you?” Lan Qiren asked, wanting clarification of what he had just heard.

“When we found the Yin Iron, Lan Zhan tired us together with his forehead ribbon,” Wei Wuxian answered him, frowning. He didn’t understand the significance of what was going on. But he leaned a little closer to Lan Zhan when he saw the purple look on Lan Queen’s face.

“I… You?!” Lan Qiren explained.

“What, what is it?” Wei Wuxian asked as he glanced to Lan Zhan for help.

“The Forehead Ribbon of the Gusulan Clan is sacred,” Lan Xichen began to explain, his voice a lot calmer than Lan Qiren’s.

“I can’t believe this, how… how would you do things Lan Wangji!” Lan Qiren yelled as he then turned his attention to the clueless Wei Wuxian. He leaned closer to him, noses almost touching the other as he leaned down. “You…. What did you do to my nephew!” he growled at him.

“I… I…” he blinked, eyes wide as he tried to back away from the enraged man. The loudness of Lan Qiren only brings memories back of the burial grounds. The yells in his ears, the screams that still surrounded him when he let himself sleep.

“Lan Wangji!” he then yelled, grabbing his nephew and pulling him from where he was about to hold and comfort Wei Wuxian. “You know of the sacredness of the ribbon, why would you give it to that reprehensible… boy!”

“Wei Ying-” was all Lan Zhan was able to say.

“You must renounce it, you must not be near that… that boy!” Lan Qiren yelled once more. Wei Wuxian jumped a little more at the shout. Moving further away from them.

Lan Zhan practically glared at his uncle before leaving him and moving towards Wei Wuxian, “Wei Ying,” he called to him, his voice was gentle as he knelt, and placed a calming hand on Wei Wuxian’s.

Lan Xichen placed a restraining hand on his uncle’s shoulder before he could move towards the two once more, “Calm down Uncle,” he said softly, “I believe that they need to have a talk, and it is one that we should not interfere with.”

“Wanji is,” Lan Qiren went to try and head towards them again. The only thing stopping him was the firmer grip his eldest nephew had on his shoulder.

“So what does it mean for us?” Wei Wuxian wanted to clarify what he had been told.

“To do as Wangji has done, it means that you are engaged to each other.” Lan Xichen said, giving his younger brother a look that told him that he needed to be honest with the other. It was obvious to the First Jade of Lan that his brother had been keeping things from Wei Wuxian.

Wei Wuxian was quiet as Lan Xichen guided his uncle, who was muttering under his breath away from the two. “Lan Zhan?” the younger asked, looking at him, “What does it all mean for us?” he wanted to know.

Lan Zhan was silent, unsure of how to speak the words that run rampant within his mind. Words that had been running around for so long that he never thought he would have the chance to speak with them. Wei Wuxian always felt as though he was a world away from him.

“I… I knew what I was doing. I knew then that you did not realise what it meant,” Lan Zhan said softly,

Wei Wuxian moved his head, so he could look him in the eyes, “Lan Zhan, please, be honest with me.” His words were almost begging. A silent hope held within them.

Lan Zhan nodded, “I love Wei Ying,” he answered. His voice showed no hesitancy this time as he looked towards Wei Wuxian, hoping that his feelings were reciprocated by the other.

Wei Wuxian’s eyes went wide, “I…” he paused, closing his eyes and leaning against the older for a moment. Letting his mind go through everything that he had gone through, “I always thought you hated me, couldn’t stand me. You told me to stop what I was doing and I couldn’t,” he murmured.

“I do not wish you to be hurt, and it hurts you. I was worried about you,” Lan Zhan said, finally speaking the words he really wanted to, words he wanted to say long ago.

“I’m sorry,” Wei Wuxian murmured, a soft smile on his face as he looked up, “I care for you deeply, I love you as well. I fell for you when we were students, that’s why I wanted to spend time with you,” he said, being honest with Lan Zhan about his intentions back when they were students.

Lan Zhan smiled at him, “then I am happy.”

“When… when did you know?” he asked him, “When did you know that you liked me?”

“When you came over the wall of Cloud recesses,” he spoke quietly, almost too quiet for Wei Wuxian to hear him properly.

“Right back then?” his eyes wide at the soft admission. Lan Zhan nodded. “Oh,” he breathed.

“Wei Ying,” he began, unsure on how to express why he had liked him that first time.

“And will you still love me when the world turns against me for what I do, or what I have done?” he asked him, voice sounding meek as he thought of Lan Zhan not standing by him.

“Yes,” Lan Zhan answered him.

“The world will turn against me Lan Zhan, they will bring you down with me, am I really worth your reputation? Your good name?” he asked as he then began to think more of what the engagement and marriage would mean.

“Yes to both, Wei Ying is worth everything,”

Wei Wuxian began to think more seriously about everything. His eyes went wide a little as he realised that he didn’t want to bring his friend, the one he loved down with him and would happen, he knew it would. People don’t like what they don’t understand, what they are afraid of.

“Healer said that the fever is now gone, but you should still rest,” Lan Zhan chided. The Lan healer had warned them earlier that morning,

“I know what the healer said,” Wei Ying pouted while leaning against him. He knew that the fever and weakness were caused by the absence of his golden core. Naturally, without the spiritual energy that would go through a cultivators body warding off the illness, he’s body would be plagued with illness just like a normal person

“Get better Wei Ying,” he murmured, looking down at him.

Wei Wuxian looked up smiling, “I will,” he promised. Lan Zhan lips twitched a little, ears beginning to go red. Wei Wuxian realised how close he was as he leaned a little closer. Lan Zhan leaning down. Their lips met softly and sweetly.

XxXxX

Jiang Yanli walked around Cloud recesses, going towards the building where her younger brother was convalescing. His recovery was going well so far, but there was that worry in her mind that he would become ill once more as the resentful energy around him was still there. With a small smile she headed towards the Jingshi, she was only going to be a few minutes needed to get there but she had been distracted by some of the children she had met.

She walked out into the gravelled area, looking at the Jingshi she could tell that Wei Wuxian was no longer inside. She walked towards the clearing where she had found them a few times. The rabbits there are pleasant to be around. She stopped as she saw her Brother and Huanguang Jun in a rather intimate embrace. Putting her hands to her mouth before she could even make a sound. She watched for a second, going red as they continued to kiss. Jiang Yanli shook her head and quickly backed away, not making a single noise until she was back within the busier area of Cloud Recesses.

“Oh my!” She squealed, still red in the face as a bubble of laughter broke free.

“No loud noises in Cloud recesses,” came an amused voice from behind her.

“Oh Clan leader Lan,” she jumped as she quickly turned to him and bowed, “My apologies, but… I-”

“Is everything all right Lady Jiang?” he asked her, now noticing the red face.

“A-Xian and Second Master Lan,” she began, “They were… intimate,” she finished, looking away, face still bright red, though there was a pleased and happy smile on her face.

“Ah,” he nodded, a pleased smile on his face.

She observed him for a moment, before asking, “You know something?”

He nodded, “I believe we should take this elsewhere for now,” he added, not wishing for them to be overheard.

“Of course,” she agreed and the two walked through Cloud Recess to a quieter area where they could talk without any interruptions.

As they entered the building, Lan Xichen began to make some tea for the both of them as he told her about what he had learned. “They are engaged, and from what you said, the feelings are mutual between the two of them.”

“So marriage,” Jiang Yanli smiled, “It’s nice to know that he has found someone to stand beside him,” she added, taking the tea offered her and sipping it.

“I believe we should talk to them both about their wishes for such an occasion,” Lan Xichen smiled.

Jiang Yanli nodded, “yes, when A-Xian is well we can talk to him and Young master Lan,” she agreed easily. A bubble of excitement was playing in her stomach as she thought of her younger brother getting married and being engaged for so long without no one learning of it. “To both of them may they be happy,” she said, raising her tea.

“May they live in peace and may happiness follow their every step,” he added as the two took a drink, soft smiles on their faces as they thought of their younger siblings.

“I wonder how A-Cheng will take this,” Jiang Yanli giggled.

Chapter Five

Wei Wuxian sat in a lotus position on the bed in the Jingshi. Lan Zhan and Lan Xichen had been taking it in turns to play Cleansing and Clarity for him to help get rid of the excess resentful energy that flowed in Wei Wuxian’s body. The first time they had played, it felt as though he was losing all the energy he had in his body. As soon as they finished going through each piece twice, Wei Wuxian fell asleep. Now it was the third day of sitting there, listening and letting go of the resentful energy that he had used during the Sunshot Campaign.

“Wei Ying?” Lan Zhan called out. Though he sounded calm, Wei Wuxian could detect something else within the tone of Lan Zhan’s voice.

“Hmm,” he answered tiredly, eyes barely able to open. He jumped a little as he felt something press against his upper lip, “What?” he asked, eyes finally opening enough to see a worried frown on Lan Zhan’s face.

“You’re bleeding,” he answered, wiping away the blood that had trickled from Wei Ying’s nose.

“Oh,” he murmured, eyes dropping as his head started to bob a little. Forcing himself to remain awake. It didn’t take long for him to slump to the floor of the Jingshi.

Lan Zhan looked alarmed as he cradled the unconscious man in his arms, “Wei Ying!” he called to him, gently shaking him, hoping to wake him up.

“He has been steeped in resentful energy for almost a year,” Lan Xichen told him, “He has pushed himself so much to keep himself alive, that I’m surprised that he is not in a coma,” he added, as he moved over to them and gently checked Wei Wuxian over. “He is sleeping,”.

Lan Zhan nodded and gently picked Wei Wuxian off the floor and behind the screen where the bed was. He laid Wei Ying down, moving errant strands of hair off his pale face. They should have seen some improvement by now, most of those that had been infused by resentful energy had regained their spiritual energy and could resume cultivating normally again after their treatment… “Why isn’t he recovering?” he asked his brother as he walked away.

“It will take time for him Wangji, he has pulled resentful energy into himself for a long time. Now he has to let go,” Lan Xichen answered as they sat down for tea. He pours a cup for his brother and himself.

Sitting down, Lan Zhan looks at it, sighing deeply not entirely convinced, “Mm.”

Lan Xichen looked at his brother, shaking his head slightly as he sipped his tea, “It will take time Wangji, have patience,”.

The next day went much the same, with Wei Wuxian falling asleep as soon as the Twin Jade brothers had finished treatment. Once again Lan Zhan had to clean up the blood that had come from Wei Wuxian. On the fourth day, Jiang Yanli asked to sit in, worried about what she had heard from Lan Xichen. The three watched as Wei Wuxian was barely able to remain seated in the lotus position as they began.

“Stop!” Jiang Yanli shouted after they had finished the first piece. Wei Wuxian was curling up on himself, as though he was trying to stop himself from coughing.

Lan Zhan rushed over,” Wei Ying?” Worried, he placed a hand on his fiance’s shoulder which in turn triggered a coughing fit ending with blood spewing from his mouth onto the wooden floor of the Jingshi. He glanced at his brother.

“This isn’t normal,” Lan Xichen murmured, “Get him into bed, we’ll do no more today. Let him rest and I will bring a healer here,”

Lan Zhan nodded as he picked Wei Wuxian up and took him behind the screen and put him on the bed. A terrified Jiang Yanli followed closely behind. “I’m going to get some water to help him clean up,” she said, though she didn’t think anyone was listening to her as Lan Zhan was focused on Wei Wuxian, and her brother was barely conscious.

It wasn’t long before she came back and started to clean up the blood that had dribbled from Wei Wuxian’s lips. His breathing sounded heavy in the room as Lan Zhan kept hold of one hand, watching as Jiang Yanli took care of him. They looked towards the doors of the Jingshi when they opened, low voices talking as they neared the bed.

“Healer Lan,” Jiang Yanli greeted as she finished cleaning Wei Wuxian.

“Lady Jiang,” he greeted back. He walked over to the bed, getting Lan Zhan and Jiang Yanli to move away from the bed as he began to examine the man lying on it, barely conscious. “Have you only noticed the nose bleeds while playing, or have they happened during other times as well?” he asked, looking to Lan Zhan and Jiang Yanli.

Lan Zhan looked at him, “Last night, nose bleed,” he answered.

“I’ve only heard, not seen anything,” Jiang Yanli told him, a hand covering her mouth as she looked on in worry.

“Hmm,” he hummed, as he began to search Wei Wxuain for his spiritual energy. He began to frown when all he could find was the resentful energy, blocking everything.

“What is it, Healer Lan?” Lan Xichen asked, taking a step towards the bed.

“I feel no trace of spiritual energy within him,” he answered, his voice quiet and serious, “I can’t even detect his Core with all the resentful energy in his body. I believe that he is getting weaker because the resentful energy has been blocking his pathways, with you trying to rid his spirit of such things, it is now leaving but blocking everything up. Continue and he should start to regain some strength as the amount of resentfulness lessens.” He told them, sitting up straight.

“So he will be all right?” Jiang Yanli asked him, a fearful note in her voice.

“It is hard to say, he has been surrounded by resentful energy for so long, it may have damaged his body that he will be weakened for it for the rest of his life,” he warned her, his voice gentle and sorrowful.

“He… he might die?” she asked, scared of the answer.

Healer Lan nodded slightly, “There is always a chance, his body is weakened.”

Jiang Yanli couldn’t help the small sob that broke free, she went over to the bed, sitting on the edge of it and taking her brother’s hand. The thought of Wei Wuxian dying caused more tears to fall from her eyes. She frowned, noticing how cold her brother’s hand was, “He’s cold,” she murmured to each other in the room.

“It would be a good idea to keep a fire going and to make sure that he remains warm. His core at the moment is blocked and can not help him in his recovery,” he explained.

“Could we use our own spiritual energy to help?” Lan Xichen asked, Lan Zhan, nodding once beside him.

Healer Lan shook his head, “unfortunately that could harm him more than help him. The Resentful energy could enter his core damaging it beyond repair.”

Lan Zhan looked worriedly at the bed, “Thank you,” he said to the healer as he walked over, looking down at Wei Wuxian, the young man was pale, eyes closed and breathing sounds laboured. Lan Zhan’s hands clenched as he thought ‘I should have done more to bring you here.’

XxXxX

Jiang Yanli bowed to the Lan Disciple just before he took off on his sword. She watched him until he went out of sight, heading towards Lotus Pier. She knew that was where her brother was, he needed to know how things were going with Wei Wuxian. She closed her eyes, wiping away the tears that were gathered as she walked back towards the Jingshi. She could once again hear the music playing. She entered the room, instead of Wei Wuxian sitting alone, he was leaning against Lan Zhan, who had his arm around the younger man, letting him rest against him.

Jiang Yanli sat down, watching and listening to the music, seeing her brother spit out blood every now and then as he shook against Lan Zhan’s hold. When the music stopped she smiled at Wei Wuxian, who was barely keeping his eyes open, “A-Xian,” she called softly, “A-Cheng will be coming by soon.”

Wei Wuxian lifted his head a little, only for it to fall against Lan Zhan’s shoulder, “That’s good,” he smiled, his voice weak and tired.

Jiang Yanli hated seeing him like this before the music played he would have more energy, though it didn’t last long. It was enough for him to walk a little outside for a while. Talk with them and laugh. But as soon as they began to play, it was as though all that energy he had began to drain away. The amount of resentful energy was slowly dissipating, but Wei Wuxian wasn’t getting stronger, he was weakening even more.

Jiang Yanli helped Lan Zhan settle Wei Wuxian for the night. The two helped him to eat, while Lan Xichen left them to deal with Sect matters. “Thank you,” Jiang Yanli whispered as Wei Wuxian fell asleep.

“Mn,” he nodded, accepting the thanks gracefully.

Jiang Yanli’s eyes filled with tears. She had been so happy a week ago, learning that her little brother was to be married. Now, it looked like he wouldn’t even get that chance. Wiping away the tears before they could fall, she stood, “I shall leave you for the night,” she bowed to him and left the Jingshi, going back to the guest room she had been given.

Lan Zhan watched her for a moment before looking back down at Wei Wuxian. Whose eyes were now open and watching him,” Wei Ying?”

“Yeah, I need to talk,” he told him, “had to wait for her to leave,” he added, trying to sit up.

Lan Zhan moved and helped him, “talk about what?”

“Thank you,” he smiled, leaning back, “The amulet,” he said, “I know you put it away, but we need to hide it, properly and seal it away,” he told him.

“It will be safe h-”

“Yes I know it will, but that won’t stop people trying to get it. I’ve had two letters from Jin Guangshan already, and I know that Shijie is getting more. I have no doubt that Jiang Cheng is also getting them. It needs to be sealed away, away from everyone so no one can get to it,” he said. He already had a small plan in mind, but he knew with how weak he was, how close to death he felt that he needed help.

“What are you planning?” Lan Zhan asked.

Wei Wuxian looked at him, “We need to seal it away, and there’s only one place I can think of,” he said.

It didn’t take long for Lan Zhan to catch on, “Cold Spring.” Wei Wuxian nodded and he quickly outlined a very basic plan. Wei Wuxian didn’t want to tell Lan Zhan everything, as he worried the other would try and stop him.

XxXxX

Wei Wuxian looked at Lan Zhan, “We should go now, it will be a while before your brother comes back to start treatment again,” he said. He felt shaky, but there was a determination in him that this needed to be done before the night was through. He didn’t think he had long left with the way he was feeling.

Lan Zhan walked over to the bed, helping the other get up and ready. Quietly as they could they left eh Jingshi heading towards the back of the mountains of Cloud Recesses. It took them a while to find the entrance that they had used to escape a few years ago. Entering Wei Wuxian shivered at the cold temperature of the cave.

“Can’t believe how cold it is in here,” he muttered as Lan Zhan handed over the qiankun pouch that held the Amulet. Bringing out the talisman paper that he had brought with him he began to write on them. Sending resentful energy into them, Lan Zhan looked at him, but kept quiet, knowing that he had no choice but to let him do this.

“I know you don’t like me doing this,” he murmured to the man as he sent them around the cave making sure that they were powered enough that they would soon be self-sustaining after a few weeks. It would keep the amulet down, letting it run on the energy and keep itself contained within the cold cave. Wei Wuxian knew that there was only one problem with using the cave, and that was anyone with a Lan Forehead Ribbon would be able to enter, no matter their age. He already knew what he needed to do, but he just had to wait until they were outside again.

“That is the last of them,” Lan Zhan informed him as the last talisman was sent to their place. They walked towards the exit they had used and with one last large burst of resentful energy Wei Wuxian sent it into the talisman to activate the array. The Stygian Tiger Amulet hovered in the middle of the room, slowly rotating.

Wei Wuxian leant against Lan Zhan for a moment, the sudden rush of resentful energy that he had used had left him almost drunk. Pushing the feeling down as they exited he turned towards the entrance. Glancing at Lan Zhan who was looking at him curiously, he did the only thing he could do. Pushing a rush of resentful energy at Lan Zhan, it shocked the man, making him collapse to the ground. Wei Wuxian did his best to make sure he didn’t hurt himself. But he had to move quickly.

Wei Wuxian stood, taking a few steps to the rock face facade and brought up his hand, making a cut into his fingers, he began to write. The words coming together to form a spell, a barrier that would need his blood to get past.

“Wei Ying,” came a slightly groggy voice as a hand was placed on his shoulder.

“Lan Zhan, I need to finish this. If I don’t then anyone in your sect would be able to enter,” he told him.

Lan Zhan was silent, looking at what was being done, he nodded once in understanding, “I will help.”

Wei Wuxian looked at him, “Resentful energy,” he muttered, “I use that to activate it,” he added.

“I know,” he told him as he used Bichen to cut his finger and add his own blood to the spell work.

The two finished in silence. Lan Zhan stepped back as Wei Wuxian walked forwards and placed his hand above the spell he pushed as much resentful energy as he could at it. Making sure that it would be strong enough to cover the cold cave. The spell flashed, blinding them for a moment.

“It’s done,” Wei Wuxian sighed as he began to sway as he lost consciousness.

Chapter Six

Jiang Cheng touched down at the edge of Cloud Recesses. He could see his sister and Sect Leader Lan standing there, waiting for him. He rushed towards them, seeing the paleness of his sister and the tightness around her eyes. The letter had told him that he should get to Cloud Recesses as soon as he could. Nothing more than that. He knew that Jiang Yanli would only call for him if something was wrong.

“What’s going on with Wei Wuxian?” he asked, looking at his sister and forgetting all thoughts of greeting Sect Leader Lan.

“We… we think he’s dying,” Jiang Yanli whispered.

Jiang Cheng was still, eyes wide, “Wha… what?” he asked.

“Come, let’s go and see him,” she explained, taking him by the arm and guiding them towards the Jingshi.

“Isn’t he… isn’t he supposed to be getting better? That’s why we agreed for him to come here,” Jiang Cheng asked, glancing towards Lan Xichen.

“We are doing our best, though our healer would be able to explain it better, there are problems coming up because of the demonic cultivation he used,” the Lan Sect Leader explained.

They went silent as they carried on walking. Lan Xichen took the lead and knocked on the door. Waiting for his brother to answer. There was nothing but silence. Frowning, he slowly opened the door, calling out, “Wangji? Wei Wuxian?” he called out. He didn’t like walking in without at least warning them.

He stood in the room, looking towards the sleeping area, a small frown marring his face as he walked over. “They are not here,” he puzzled.

“What?” Jiang Yanli exclaimed as she looked around, “How… A-Xian isn’t well, he should be resting as much as possible,” she shook, worry in her voice.

“We should look for them,” Jiang Cheng suggested, he wanted to see his brother, and he didn’t want to wait.

“Yes, I’ll ask some of the disciples to help us,” Lan Xichen added with a nod as the three of them hurried out of the Jingshi.

Lan Xichen informed his Uncles of the two missing cultivators and asked for more disciples to help find them.

“How far do you think Wei Wuxian could have gone?” Jiang Cheng asked as they headed towards the river nearby.

“With Wangji helping, unknown. He seems to be a little better during the early hours. It’s usually after we have played Cleansing and Clarity that Young Master Wei tends to deteriorate,” he explained.

“So, he could be anywhere,” he huffed, taking a brisk pace down towards the rocky path. It reminded him of the last time that the two of them went missing, years before.

The three stopped as they detected a faint aura pass through them, shortly followed by a large shockwave, “Resentful energy?” Lan Xichen blinked.

“A-Xian!” Jiang Yanli called out.

Jiang Cheng pulled out his sword, mounting it and held out his hand for his sister. She quickly took it while Lan Xichen did the same with his own sword and the three took to the air in the direction where the pulse came from.

“There!” Jiang Cheng yelled out, pointing with one hand, as the other kept a tight hold of his sister. Below they could see Lan Zhan, cradling Wei Wuxian in his arms.

Lan Xichen nodded and they began to descend. Quickly getting off their swords and sheathing them, the three headed over. Kneeling beside his brother he asked, “Wangji, what happened?”

“We need to get him back first, then I shall answer,” Lan Zhan said briskly as he placed a hand on Wei Wuxian’s forehead, “fever,” he murmured.

Lan Xichen copied his brother and nodded, “Yes, let’s go back to the Jingshi so we can let him rest. Are you alright, Wangji?” he asked his brother, worried for him. It wasn’t often that any resentful energy entered Cloud recesses without it being from an object being investigated.

“I am fine,” he answered as he stood, picking Wei Wuxian up easily.

Jiang Cheng looked at his brother, his eyes wide at what he saw. The man was thinner, pale and drawn. “He…” he trailed off, closing his eyes and clenching his fist. Zidian sparking a little.

Jiang Yanli rested a hand on his arm, calming him down, “Hurry back, we’ll follow,” she told them as she then watched the two Jades of Lan take to their swords, heading for the Jingshi. “A-Cheng, A-xian needs us to be strong for him. We should go back.”

Jiang Cheng nodded, closing his eyes as he pushed away the rush of fear at the meaning behind those words. “Let’s go,” he nodded, taking out his sword once more and helping his sister onto it. The two took to the sky, rushing after the brothers.

They landed and walked into the Jingshi. Wei Wuxian was already beginning to waken when they closed the door behind them.

“A-Xian,” Jiang Yanli whispered as she went over to the bed, taking a seat on it, Lan Zhan sitting at the head, gently running his fingers through Wei Wuxian’s hair.

“Shijie?” he puzzled, looking around a moment before realising where he was, “Oh, are we back home?” he murmured.

The two siblings froze for a moment before Jiang Yanli murmured a hint of sadness in her voice, “Yes Xianxian, we’re home.”

“What were you doing out there when you’re so ill!” Jiang Cheng demanded to know, moving into Wei Wuxian’s view.

“ChengCheng,” he teased, a soft tired smile on his face as he looked at his brother. “I had something that needed to be taken care of before…” he trailed off, letting them fill in the last two words.

“You… you’re not going to,” Jiang Cheng insisted, demanded of his brother.

Wei Wuxian smiled at him, and nodded, “Hmm,” he hummed, not giving him a true answer.

“May I ask what was so important that you would risk your health?” Lan Xichen asked him, looking between his brother and future brother in law.

“The Amulet, I know that people will want to go after it, try and take it for themselves. It’s too powerful to be just left around,” Wei Wuxian explained, struggling to sit up.

“Wei Ying, rest,” Lan Zhan told him, trying to push him back down. Wei Wuxian looked at him and the older nodded and helped him to sit up, not letting him go as he let the demonic cultivator lean against him so he could continue talking.

“Jin Guangshan has been asking after it. I know why he wants it, he wants to take the place of chief cultivator. He didn’t enter the fight until he knew that we would win. As soon as we won he talked about the amulet a lot. Going so far as to say it was dangerous and that it should be kept in the vaults of Koi tower. I… something about him makes me not wish to trust him,” Wei Wuxian said, shaking his head a little before he stopped, closing his eyes and resting his head against Lan Zhan’s shoulder. He was tired and wished to sleep.

“Then you have sealed it here?” Lan Xichen asked him, “Why?”

“Because I trust the Lan Sect more than Jin Sect. While I would be happy with it being sealed within Lotus Pier, our sect is weakened at the moment from the burning and death of our previous Sect Leader. It will take time for us to recover,” he answered, his voice more of a mumble.

“How have you sealed it, Young Master Wei?” he asked him.

“Blood, only my blood and Lan Zhan’s together, will be able to unseal it. When I die,” he paused for a moment feeling Lan Zhan’s arms tighten around him for a moment, “I need you to make sure that no one takes anything from my body, nothing. I don’t want someone to try and use it and force Lan Zhan to open the seal. You are the only ones that know about how it was sealed away. For everyone’s safety, don’t say anything,” he added, his eyes pleading with him to keep this secret and take it to their graves with them.

“I give you my word none of this shall pass my lips,” Lan Xichen vowed to him. His adoptive siblings are doing the same thing.

Wei Wuxian smiled at them, “Thank you.” Closing his eyes he turned to Lan Zhan a little more and buried his head in a warm chest. Letting himself drift off, while he felt a little more energized than what had been the normal over the last couple of days. He was still tired and wanted to rest for a while.

“I shall send for the healer and tell Uncle that he has been found,” Lan Xichen said as he quickly left the Jingshi.

“What is going on?” Jiang Cheng asked, gesturing to his sister the two cuddling on the bed.

Jiang Yanli gave a bittersweet smile as she got up and pulled Jiang Cheng out of the Jingshi. Closing the door behind them she answered him, “They are engaged to be married.”

“WH- ” he began to yell, only to be cut off by his sister slapping her hand over his mouth.

“Yes, engaged and they have been since they were studying here, together. Since Mother and Father are… are gone, it’s up to us to follow tradition,” she hesitated, not wanting to think of something happening to her A-Xian.

Jiang Cheng was silent, his mind going back to their days in Cloud Recesses. To him, it felt like a lifetime ago, where the only thing he was worried about was a hangover and getting caught. “We… Should we?” he questioned, more to himself than to his sister. He didn’t know if he should continue with tradition and set up the marriage, or to leave it. He took a breath, “We carry on with tradition and move forward with the arrangements, I hope you will help me with this Jie,” he added, looking at her.

She smiled and nodded, about to say something when Lan Xichen walked towards them, Healer Lan following quickly. “Sect Leader Lan, Master Healer Lan,” she greeted them both, Jiang Cheng doing the same beside her. They entered the Jingshi once more, Wei Wuxian was awake and still resting against Lan Zhan.

“What have you done to yourself?” the healer asked as he went over and began to examine him. IT took him a few moments to check for his core once more. Shaking his head, “it is still blocked, and you have more Resentful energy around you. It has increased, you should not pull any more of that energy into yourself. It is damaging you,” he warned him.

“What is wrong with him?” Jiang Cheng asked the healer.

“He has so much resentful energy within his body that it is blocking everything. I can’t get a read on anything properly,” he huffed, standing and walking to the exit, “If he continues,” he said, leaving the implication in the room.

Wei Wuxian, closed his eyes, ignoring it. Lan Zhan looked to him, sorrow in his eyes, but there was a hint of determination within them as well. “We should play now,” he suggested looking to his brother. Lan Xichen nodded in agreement and the two of them set themselves up as Wei Wxuain remained on the bed this time. The healer left before the first note sounded.

Partway through the first piece, Wei Wuxian was already coughing up blood. His sibling hovering and helping him as best as they could. The music continued, though they heard the hesitancy from Lan Zhan and the look on his face as he wanted to do nothing more than to be with Wie Wuxian.

An hour later the music stopped, they had gone through a number of times and while the resentful energy within Wei Wuxian had lessened, it was still high and there was no sign of his Spiritual Energy within his body. Wei Wuxian just smiled at them tiredly as he fell asleep after the healer once more finished examining him.

Healer Lan looked at the four people that were now gathered on the small veranda outside of the Jingshi, he shook his head, “I do not believe I will be able to do anything for him. His body has weakened too much.” He paused before continuing, “I have not dealt with this much resentful energy before within one person.”

“Thank you for your continued help,” Lan Xichen said politely as the healer then left them alone.

Jiang Yanli leaned against her brother, tears running down her face. Jiang Cheng held his sister tightly, “He said that he doesn’t deal with resentful energy like this, what about another healer, maybe they would be able to help?” he suggested, he already had someone in mind.

“There are very few that would be able to deal with such things,” Lan Xichen shook his head, not seeing anyone that would be able to help.

“Wen Qing, I know that she is still alive, she was taken to the camps that the Jin sect has set up,” Jiang Cheng replied, “She is a good healer, helped all three of us when… when Lotus Pier was…burned down. She won’t do anything without her brother though. He is good with mixing anything that his sister needs.”

“Do you trust them?” Lan Xichen asked, “They-”

“They did not harm anyone in the war, they even healed us,” Jiang Yanli was the one to answer, “They hid us while the rest of their sect was looking for us. She and her brother kept us safe and healed us, they also brought our… parents bodies back to us so we could,” she left it hanging there, as the two Jades of Lan nodded in understanding.

“Then I will start making enquiries for their location to bring them here,” Lan Xichen said softly.

“Thank you,” Jiang Cheng nodded to him, “When it comes time to get them, I wish to go with you,” he added. He still had something that he wished to talk to Wen Qing about.

Jiang Yanli looked at her brother, seeing something hidden in his eyes she let it go. Making a note to herself to talk with him, “For now,” she said, turning back to the others, “I think we should stop with Clarity and Cleansing. It’s causing him more problems.”

Lan Zhan nodded, “Agreed.” He walked back into the Jingshi.

“I will leave now to make a start on the requests,” Lan Xichen added as he headed away from the Jingshi, leaving the two siblings alone to talk.

“We should be with A-Xian,” Jiang Yanli said, a gentle smile on her face as they followed Lan Zhan inside.

Chapter Seven

Lan Xichen walked into the small building that he used as his office and went to his desk. Sitting behind it, he looked through the scrolls that he had received over the last week. He gave a grimace as he found the one to do with the prisoners that had been taken in by the Jin clan. He started to read through the names. It wasn’t that long of a list, just over a hundred names. It made him wonder what happened to all of those that had been taken.

“There,” he murmured to himself as he found their names. “Wen Qing, Wen Ning,” he pulled a plain scroll towards himself and began to write to Jin Guangshan, the leader of Jin Sect, asking him to release Wen Qing and Wen Ning into their care for a while as they might be the only ones that could help Wei Wuxian recover.

Lan Xichen stood up as soon as the ink had dried and went to find the quickest messenger, “Lan Zhang, I need you to take this to Koi Tower as fast as you can, it must reach Sect Leader Jin. And wait for a reply, I know it will be a long journey, but it is important.”

“Of course Sect Leader,” he bowed, taking the scroll and quickly heading out of Cloud Recesses to deliver it.

Lan Xichen felt a little relieved that the message was on the way. He headed back to the Jingshi, wondering if Wei Wuxian was now awake. Knocking on the door, he waited a moment before it was opened. Jiang Yanli stood there, smiling as she let him inside, “Has he woken?” he asked.

She nodded, “He has, already sitting up and complaining,” she teased her brother as he whined from the bed he was tucked up in.

“Shijie!” he called, pouting at her.

“Grow up,” Jiang Cheng muttered, rolling his eyes at his brother’s actions, “I thought you were meant to be the older one of us,” he added.

Lan Xichen laughed lightly at the banter between the siblings. His brother sitting and watching, a hand holding Wei Wuxian’s tightly, “I’ve sent the letter off to Jin Guangshan, it should reach him in a few hours.”

“Jin Guangshan?” Wei Wuxian said, looking at his fiance’s brother, “Why would you?”

“We’re asking him to release Wen Qing and Wen Ning since they would be able to help us better with your condition,” Lan Xichen said softly.

“Be wary of Jin Sect, no matter who you deal with,” Wei Wuxian warned, “They don’t care about the Wen’s at all. We caught them killing civilians before in Nightless City,” he added, looking towards Lan Zhan.

“Civilians?” Lan Xichen shook his head, “The only people that should be in the camps, for now, are cultivators, those that have formed a Golden core,” he added, frowning.

“That’s not what we saw, or heard,” Wei Wuxian explained, “The cousin guy, someone… Lan Zhan, what’s the idiot’s name?” he asked.

“Jin Zixun, nephew of Sect Leader Jin,” he answered him.

Wei Wuxian smiled at him warmly, “yeah him,” he nodded, turning to Lan Xichen. “We were in Nightless City after I first woke up and heard screams. We came across him killing civilians. He said he was eliminating the evil Wen Dogs, that they were a threat to peace. They were nothing but the elderly, sick and children,” he spat, anger taking hold once more as he thought of the innocent lives that had been taken.

“Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan called to him, “calm your mind,” he instructed, squeezing his hand.

Wei Wuxian looked up at him and nodded, taking a calming breath he did his best to let go of the anger. For now at least. “Thank you,” he said as he looked at Lan Xichen.

“Welcome, you are family,” he smiled at him.

“You should rest some more,” Jiang Yanli said as she stood up from where she had sat on the edge of the bed.

“I’m fine,” he protested, “really.”

“A-Xian, you collapsed, you need rest.”

“We shall leave you to your rest, Wangji, take care of him,” Lan Xichen smiled at the two as he and the others walked out of the room.

“You better take care of him,” Jiang Cheng muttered, glaring at Lan Zhan as he left, closing the door behind him.

XxXxX

It was late afternoon when Lan Zhang landed. He had flown as fast as he could. Sheathing his sword and approaching a guard, he was quickly led through the gilded halls of Koi Tower. “Sect Leader Jin, Sect Leader Nie,” he bowed as he entered the office of the Jin Sect Leader. “I hope that I have not interrupted anything,” he said as he straightened.

“What can I do for you?” Jin Guangshan asked him.

“I have a missive from Sect Leader Lan,” he answered, pulling out the scroll that he had been entrusted with. He walked over and handed it to the man.

“Do you need a reply?” he asked.

“Yes Sect Leader Jin,” he answered bowing again.

Jin Guangshan took the scroll and opened it, beginning to read through it. A calculated look took over his face for all of a microsecond, but it was enough for Nie Mingjue to notice. “Hmm, how is Wei Wuxian at the moment?” he asked as he looked to the Lan disciple that had delivered the missive.

“He is very unwell,” Lan Zhang answered him.

“Do you know what is wrong?” he then asked, curious.

“We are unsure,” he replied.

“What is going on?” Nie Mingjue asked Jin Guangshan bluntly.

“Wei Wuxian is very ill and they believe he is near death. They are asking for the release of two Wen prisoners, as they are skilled healers,” he answered, just giving a little of what the letter said.

“Are you?” Nie Mingjue asked, curious as to what the man would do.

“I will need to see for myself first,” he said, “I will send you with a note telling them that I will be coming by in the morning.” He pulled a small scroll and began to write out the message.

“I’ll be joining you,” Nie Mingjue told him.

“Very well,” Jin Guangshan nodded as he finished the note and handed it over. “I shall be there early in the morning.”

“Thank you Sect Leader Jin, Sect Leader Nie,” the Lan messenger bowed to them as he took his leave to head back to Cloud Recesses, he should be able to reach there before curfew.

“I shall go and get ready for us to depart Sect Leader Jin,” Nie Mingjue announced as he stood, giving the man a small bow. “We shall leave before first light. Rest well until then.”

“Hmm,” he nodded as he turned and left the office heading to the guest rooms he was using with those from his sect.

“Brother!” Nie Huaisang yelled out in greeting, fan closed in his hand as he waved wildly.

“Behave,” he ordered, snapping a little at how uncontrolled his younger brother was.

“Sorry brother,” he murmured, he then observed his brother as he walked. “Is something wrong?”

“It seems that Wei Wuxian has become gravely ill, I’m worried about that amulet he has falling into the wrong hands,” he answered him.

Nie Huaisang jumped to his feet and rushed over to his brother, “Brother Wei?” his eyes wide.

Nie Mingjue nodded, “Yes.”

“Where is he? I want to go and see him?” he almost pleaded to know the answer.

“He is in Cloud Recesses, where he was taken after the battle.”

“Hmm,” Nie Huaisang nodded, “I knew that he was going to leave, but I didn’t think he would end up there. He seemed quite ill when we were in Nightless city too.”

“Ill?” Nie Mingjue turned to his brother, “What do you know?”

“After Wen Ruohan was killed, he collapsed. It took him three days to regain consciousness only to collapse again the day he woke up. I heard Brother Jiang agreed to take him away so he could recover in peace. But I didn’t know it was Cloud Recesses,” he answered him.

“We’re leaving before sunrise to head to Cloud Recesses,” Nie Mingjue told him, “If you are coming, pack.”

“I will!” he nodded.

Nie Mingjue gave a heavy sigh as he watched his brother flitter around the room. A fan ever-present in his hand. With a shake of his head, he began his own preparations for the early start in the morning.

XxXxX

The Lan Disciple led the two parties into Cloud Recesses and towards the guest quarters that had been set up for them. Lan Zhang had arrived just before Curfew to warn his Sect leader of the incoming arrivals. It had been a rush, but everything had been prepared quickly for them.

“Welcome Sect Leader Jin, Sect Leader Nie,” Lan Xichen greeted them politely, “I do hope your journey was pleasant. Please rest and refresh yourselves, food has been prepared in the dining pavilion for you to partake as well,” he told them.

“It was fine,” Jin Guangshan replied, “I would like to speak with Wei Wuxian as soon as possible about a private matter,” he added.

“He is resting at the moment,” Lan Xichen answered him, “but I will see if he will be up for a visit a little later,” he told him. Having heard what Wei Wuxian had told him about the letters that the Sect Leader had sent him about the Amulet, he was worried about letting him talk with Wei Wuxian for long.

“Thank you,” Jin Guangshan replied.

“Have you thought about our request?” Lan Xichen then asked him.

“I will wait and see what condition I find Wei Wuxian in,” he answered. He nodded to Lan Xichen and Nie Mingjue as he said, “I will go and refresh myself.”

“He really rubs me the wrong way,” Nie Mingjue muttered.

“Er-ge,” Jin Guangyao said from behind them, “He is dealing with a lot of the fall out from the Wen Sect’s disgrace.” His voice was more diplomatic than friendly.

“That may be so A-Yao,” he said as he turned to the younger man, “But that does not give him a right to treat us like unruly children.”

“Why don’t the two of you rest and refresh yourselves,” Lan Xichen smiled at his two sworn brothers.

“I will, thank you,” Jin Guangyao smiled at them before he left.

Nie Mingjue nodded to the younger man as he left to his own rooms, the rest of those that had joined them following, bar one. He hung at the back, waiting for everyone else to leave.

“Sect Leader Lan,” Nie Huaisang called.

“Nie Huaisang, is everything all right?” he asked, seeing the worried look on his face.

“H-how is Brother Wei?” he questioned, the fan gripped tightly in his hand. Worry was etched on his face.

“He is unwell at the moment, resting. You can see him a little later,” he promised.

“Oh… alright,” he nodded sadly and followed his brother to their lodgings.

XxXxX

Jin Guangshan stood tall as he strode into the Jingshi. He was finally going to be able to talk to Wei Wuxian without everyone around. He didn’t want people to overhear their conversation. He walked in, closed the door behind him. Wei Wuxian was sitting at a small table in the room, tea already poured and waiting for the Jin sect leader to enter.

“Sect Leader Jin, please, join me for some tea,” Wei Wuxian smiled, though it didn’t reach his eyes. Instead, there was clear distrust within them however, Jin Guangshan failed to notice.

“Thank you, Wei Wuxian,” he said, going towards the table and kneeling in front of it.

“Lan Xichen said that you have something urgent that you wished to talk to me about?” he asked him.

“Yes, the Amulet, with how ill I heard you were, I can make sure that it was safe. It would not do for it to get into enemy hands,” he said, trying to be subtle in his quarry.

“It has been taken care of,” Wei Wuxian answered him, picking up his tea and sipping at it.

Jin Guangshan did the same, “And if what is wrong with you does kill you?” he asked him, “Do you still believe that it will be safe? We have excellent wards at Koi Tower, it would be safe there.”

“It is already safe, even should I die, there are things in place to make sure that no one will be able to get the chance to wield it. It is after all, of my own making,” he said, doing his best to stay relaxed with the man before him.

“And do you really think it will be safe in Cloud Recesses?” he asked him, snorting at the absurdity of it.

Wei Wuxian laughed, “And what makes you say that it is here?”

“There was a wave of resentful energy yesterday from the mountains of Cloud Recesses. You are hiding it here,” he told him, “Because of that, everyone knows that it is here.”

Wei Wuxian shook his head, “The resentful energy came from me,” he argued back, “The energy I used during that last battle has… encompassed me so much it is making me deathly ill, and yes, it could kill me. Which is why I tried to expend as much of it as possible yesterday, in the hopes that it would help me,” he told him. “It has done little, but enough that I am able to sit and talk to you.” The explanation was one that he and Lan Xichen had come up with for the blast should anyone ask. So far they only had to give it to Jin Guangshan.

Jin Guangshan looked at the man before him. “Are you sure you will not place the Amulet in a more secure location?” he asked again, hoping to wear the man down. He could see that Wei Wuxian was tiring.

“I am sure, where it is, there is no safer place. It’s been destroyed,” he smirked, almost laughing when he saw the shocked look on Jin Guangshan’s face.

“Destroyed?” he asked him, keeping his voice strong.

“Yes, destroyed, did you really think I would leave something that powerful around should I die?” he shook his head, “I made sure to do that as soon as I could.”

“Very well, I’m… glad that it has been taken care of,” he said, finishing the last bit of tea. “I need to leave, but thank you for telling me the… good news,” he added as he then stood up.

“Of course, I would have replied to your letters querying about it, but as you know I’ve been rather ill,” he said as he watched him leave. A satisfied smirk on his face.

Chapter Eight

Jin Guangshan left the Jingshi, a barely concealed scowl on his face at the answer he had received from Wei Wuxian. He strode through Cloud Recesses, heading towards the quarters he had been given. He would be leaving soon, he had things to think on if he wanted to find out what really happened to the Stygian Tiger Amulet.

“Sect Leader Jin,” Lan Xichen called out as soon as he saw him walking through Cloud Recesses. The young Jiang Sect Leader was also with Him.

“Yes? What can I do for you both?” he asked, though he already had a feeling what it would be.

“I am asking about the inquiry about the Wen Siblings that I sent to you. I am unsure of why you have come here, but I would like an answer to my inquiry,” Lan Xichen questioned, keeping his tone polite. He had never really liked the man, though that was mostly because of the way he had treated Jin Guangyao in the past.

“I agree with you that Wei Wuxian does indeed look ill,” he agreed.

“So you will bring them here?” Jiang Cheng asked him.

“I will allow it, but do not forget that they are Wen’s and that they caused us a great deal of problems, they’ve killed many of our friends and family,” he added, reminding Jiang Cheng once more of the loss he had suffered when Lotus Pier had been burned down, along with the deaths of his parents and almost all of his sect.

Jiang Cheng clenched his fist, Zidan responding to the anger welling up and purple lightning dancing around his hand. “I remember well what I have lost,” he said, eyes narrowed as he tried to reign in his anger.

“We shall go and retrieve them, may I ask where they are being held?” Lan Xichen asked, placing a calming hand on Jiang Cheng’s arm, hoping it would ground the other before Jin Guangshan felt the fury that was in the young sect leader at the reminder.

“No, that won’t be necessary,” Jin Guangshan said with a shake of his head, “I’ll send a butterfly to those guarding the place, they will be able to bring them here. It will be faster than you travelling all that way,” he added.

Lan Xichen smiled, “Thank you for the consideration.”

“It is a pleasure,” he told them, “Now, I shall take my leave,” he added. The three bowed to each other as they walked away.

Jiang Cheng watched him go, as soon as he was out of earshot of the two he said softly, “Something isn’t right. He doesn’t care about Wei Wuxian, he wants the amulet.”

“Let’s go and-” he began. Only to be cut off by a call.

“Brother Jiang,” Nie Huaisang called once more, “Oh sorry,” he added, bowing to Lan Xichen.

“That is all right,” Lan Xichen smiled at the younger man.

“I was wondering if I could see Brother Wei now?” he asked him, looking between the two sect leaders.

“Come on, he’ll be glad of the company, just… no drinking,” Jiang Cheng muttered as he led the way to the Jingshi.

“Wangji,” Lan Xichen greeted his brother as he too made his way back to the Jingshi.

“Wei Ying is hungry,” Wangji said, noticing the tray in his hands.

Lan Xichen smiled at his brother, “I’m glad that he is, he doesn’t eat much lately.” His words were soft, with a hint of worry in them. Wei Wuxian hadn’t been eating much, and some of the time he hadn’t been able to keep his food down.

They walked into the Jingshi, Wie Wuxian was still sitting at the table, smiling as he saw them all, “Lan Zhan,” he beamed/chirped, happy that his fiance was back.

“Wei Ying,” he greeted back, a slight upturn of his lips as he placed the tray down, “something light.”

“Thank you,” his smile turned into a pout when he saw the spread in front of him. He gave a sigh when he saw that there weren’t any spices added to it, just the same bland or bitter fare that Gusu always served.

“Brother Wei,” Huaisang greeted him, taking a seat at the table.

“Hey,” Wei Wuxian smiled at him, “Didn’t know you were here,” he said softly as he started to eat.

Nie Huaisang observed his friend for a moment. After hearing he was on his deathbed he expected him to be unconscious and in bed. Instead, he was sitting up at a table eating. The young Nie could see the paleness of his friend, a slight tremor in his hands as he ate.

“I came because I heard you were ill, you’re my best friend Brother Wei, why wouldn’t I come,” he pouted at him.

Wei Wuxian laughed lightly, almost dropping his chopstix. “I am, but I’m hoping that I will recover,” he said, seeing the three other men in the room frown, “Okay, all of you but Huaisang out, no sad faces. Don’t want it,” he added, giving them all a look.

“Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan protested being thrown out of the Jingshi, it was his home after all.

“Just for a while, I’ll be fine, Huaisang is here if I need anything,” he told him, smiling at him softly.

Lan Zhan nodded and got up from where he had been sitting next to Wei Wuxian. Jiang Cheng gave a deep sigh as he turned to Lan Xichen, “I suppose we still have things to discuss.”

“We do,” Lan Xichen nodded as the two walked out. Lan Zhan followed them slowly, closing the door and looking at Wei Wuxian one last time before they shut.

“He is… different,” he murmured.

“Cut the bullshit,” Wie Wuxian snapped.

“Okay, so what is going on, and don’t tell me nothing,” Nie Huaisang demanded, giving him a pointed look, “And I mean Lan Wangji.”

Wei Wuxian smiled brightly, laughing, “Well, found out that during our school days here,” he began, “Lan Zhan and I ended up missing, as you know. But where we were was dangerous and Lan Zhan used his forehead ribbon to keep me safe. What I didn’t know, and he did, was that basically we were engaged at that point.”

“Engaged?” Nie Huaisangs eyes went wide, “Really?” he asked him, flicking his fan open and covering his face a little to hide the large smile.

“Yes, so I didn’t know that until Lan Qiren overheard and told us off about it,” he shrugged, eating a little more of the congee.

“Are you happy about it?” he asked, snapping his fan closed.

Wei Wuxian blushed, “yeah,” he smiled, “I am.”

“Good,” he nodded as they began to talk about other things.

XxXxX

Wen Qing winced as her arm was grabbed and she was roughly shoved into the building. Fear raced through her, the only thing keeping her calm was that her brother was pushed into the room as well. She feared more for his life than her own.

“You two are being taken to Gusu Lan, to Cloud Recesses,” Jin Zixun told them.

Wen Qing looked at him, “Why?” she murmured.

“You don’t need to know, just get ready to leave,” he answered her, sneering, fist clenched, “You’ll be there for a few days only.”

They were escorted to the small huts that they were using, most of them having too many people living in, but none of them cared. They were together and that was important to them.

“A-Ning,” Wen Qing whispered,

“Are you okay?” he asked, she hadn’t been able to see him for almost two days. He had been taken to the other side of the camp and had been living there since.

“I’m okay A-Jie,” he smiled at her as they headed towards the huts.

She nodded, but there was a look of worry in her eyes. Wen Qing could tell that he was hurt, hiding whatever it was. She hoped that she would be able to heal him a little whenever they reached Cloud Recesses. Walking into the hut she smiled warmly at the elderly woman that was sitting there, holding a small child, a baby really, in her arms as he slept.

“A-Qing,” she smiled at her granddaughter.

“Granny, A-Ning and I are being taken to Cloud Recesses, or so they say,” she explained, worried that something else was going on. They were the only two cultivators left in the camp. The rest had been taken and killed since the end of the Sunshot Campaign.

“Are you serious as to where you’re going?” Granny Wen asked her, a light of hope in her eyes.

“It sounds like it, they don’t look happy about us going unlike when the others were taken,” she answered.

“Granny,” Wen Ning called to her as he walked in. There was a weak smile on his face as he walked over to her and knelt beside her.

“A-Ning, are you all right?” she asked him, running a hand over his head as she looked to one of her two remaining grandsons.

“I’m alright granny,” he reassured her, smiling and closing his eyes at the comfort she gave him from the simple gesture.

“I hear you might be going to Cloud Recesses?” she asked, looking at him.

“I overheard them talking about Wei Wuxian, that he is ill and we have been asked for. Both of us, not just a-Jie,” Wen Ning replied, looking at his sister, “We’ve been asked to go and see him,”.

“Right,” Wen Qing said, “Then it looks like we are going,” she nodded.

“Then I want you to take A-Yuan with you, he needs to get out or he’ll die here,” Granny told them, standing up with the sleeping child.

“But what would we do when we get there, we can’t just leave him?” she said, taking the child from her grandmother.

“Find someone you trust, ask them to take the child, or find him a family. Let people forget that he is a Wen, let them just see the child he really is.”

“Wei Wuxian, he’ll be able to help,” Wen Ning suggested.

“I know you trust him,” Wen Qing sighed, “But would you trust him with A-Yuan?”

Wen Ning nodded, “I would.”

“Then we’ll take him with us,” Wen Qing said, “I’ll have to give him something that will make sure he remains asleep. I don’t want them to find out that he is with us.”

“I know, they would kill him,” Granny Wen agreed tearfully.

Wen Wing looked down at the child in her arms, “A-Ning, take him while I make something,” she said as she handed Wen Yuan to her brother and went to the small bag of herbs she had been able to gather around the camp. She pulled out three and crushed them together, “Do we still have some water?” she asked as he looked up, “I can put this in water, as soon as he drinks it, he’ll sleep for at least 12 hours, that should be enough time for us to get to a stopping place,” she hoped.

“We should get what we need,” Wen Ning said as he looked to the small corner where the only other clothing they had was sat.

Wen Qing nodded as she stood up, taking the water that Granny Wen brought to her and slowly they woke Wen Yuan up. “A-Yaun,” she said softly, “time for a drink,” she told him. The eleven-month-old baby babbled a little, grumpy and hungry as he drank what was given. It didn’t take long for it to take effect, “okay, asleep,” she said a few moments later, using what spiritual energy she had access to, to make sure he was okay.

“Do you need help to secure him?” Granny Wen asked as Wen Ning began to put away their things into the only small bag they had.

“Yes,” she nodded as Wen Ning quickly left the hut so Wen Qing could take off her outer robe to hide Wen Yuan between the folds, securing him to her body so she wouldn’t need to use her hands to hold him.

“There,” Granny Wen smiled. It was sad, she knew that this would be the last time she would see her youngest grandchild, the only child of her daughter. She sighed, clasping Wen Qing’s hand, “Take care of yourself well, make sure to keep yourself safe as well as A-Ning,” she told her granddaughter, the only one of the four that was still alive.

“I will do my best granny,” she said, holding her carefully one last time before she walked out of the hut with the hope that they would be brought back so they could be with their family once more.

Jin Zixun was waiting for her, muscles in his hands, “You are to wear these,” he sneered as he quickly put them on, from them were two large chains, “You will be flying by sword to Cloud Recess, you will not be in control of your sword, your keepers will be. You misbehave and it will drop you to your death,” he warned them.

Wen Ning and Wen Qing nodded as they were pulled towards the swords that hovered. Settled onto them their guards took hold of the chains and went on their own. Taking to the sky Wen Ning shuddered a little as he looked down. He had never flown without it being under his own power before. Wen Qing was also feeling that fear of not being in control.

The ground flew beneath them. Wen Qing was glad that they had been able to strap Wne Yuan to her and that he was covered. It was cold and windy at the height they were going as well as the speed.

Wen Ning was the one that was listening to Jin Zijun as he explained the rules that they were to follow. “You will only speak of what is needed, you will be given food and water and a place to sleep. You will be guarded constantly,” he told them as he led the way.

Wen Ning and Wen Qing nodded in agreement. Both of them knew that no one would be willing to listen to them, much less believe pity them of what had happened to the remaining Wens. There are less than a hundred left people left that have the name Wen and all of them were now at one camp when just a month ago there were more than a thousand. They had no hope for themselves, but for Wen Yuan, they hoped they would be able to talk with Wei Wuxian into finding the baby a home where he would be loved and cared for.

Chapter Nine

It was almost curfew when Wen Ning and Wen Qing landed at the edge of Cloud Recesses. They were led through to the gates to where two the Lan disciples stood guarding the entrance. Jin Zijun walked towards them, “I was requested to bring the Wen Siblings,” he said, a sneer on his face as he looked at the two before him.

“I will tell the Sect Leader that you are here, please wait,” one of them said, bowing in greeting before rushing off to find Lan Xichen.

Jin Zijun was not happy about having to wait and be in the presence of the two Wen’s shackled behind him. “All I need to do is deliver them, then they are your problem,” he muttered to the remaining Lan Disciple.

“I am sorry, but you do not have a token and can not pass without Sect Leaders permission or an invitation,” he answered.

They went quiet, as the four guards had their swords drawn still, though only slightly relaxed as their charges remain still. The two Wen siblings looked around them, the sneering Jin’s watching their every move. While the Lan Disciple that was left looking at them without a hint of what they were feeling on his face.

“Welcome to Cloud Recesses,” Lan Xichen greeted as he walked through the barrier, “And thank you for bringing Wen Qing and Wen Qionglin,” he then greeted the two, not liking how they looked. They were thin and dirty. He could see the fear in their eyes.

“We leave them in your care,” Jin Xijun said, bowing to the sect leader, “I suggest you have more guards around them, we will collect them as soon as you are done with them.”

“Very well,” Lan Xichen nodded as he looked towards the two disciples that had followed them, “Please escort them to the pavilion we set up for them.”

“Yes Sect Leader,” they bowed and then began to escort the Wen siblings into Cloud recesses.

“Will you be coming in, it is getting late,” Lan Xichen asked the Jin escorts as he looked at the darkened sky.

“We will return home,” Jin Xijun told him as the five of them set off quickly on their swords.

Lan Xichen shook his head as he headed back through the gate. Walking towards the Pavilion where Wen Qing and Wen Ning were going to be staying he saw his brother heading towards it as well.

“Brother,” Lan Zhan nodded to him.

“Wishing to meet with them now?” he asked.

Lan Zhan nodded, the two walking quietly to the pavilion. There was only one guard outside, swords held fast in their hands. Neither of them believed that the two would cause any trouble for them. Knocking on the door they were called in after a few moments.

“Sect Leader Lan, Second Younger Master Lan,” Wen Ning and Wen Qing greeted the two of them.

“Welcome to Cloud Recesses once more,” Lan Xichen greeted them. “If there is anything that you need, please do ask your guard, he shall help.”

“We will be fine,” Wen Qing answered, her brother standing a little nervously beside her.

“First thing,” he said with a sigh as he saw that the manacles that had been attracted to the two remained on them. “Let’s get rid of these. I know neither of you will cause any trouble,” he added as he took them off, casting them aside, a mental reminder to see them either put away or even destroyed.

“Thank you,” Wen Qing said, rubbing her wrists as Wen Ning did the same behind her.

“We will let you get settled before we ask you to come and see Wei Wuxian, he is resting at the moment,” he added. He turned to his brother, wondering what he wanted to talk with the siblings for.

“I thank you for coming,” Lan Zhan said, “Wei Ying speaks highly of you both.”

“I hope we will be able to help,” Wen Qing says.

The two brothers leave them alone. As soon as the doors shut she turns to Wen Ning and whispers, “Help me with A-Yuan,” she tells him as she takes off her outer robe.

Wen Ning nodded and started to undo the bindings that kept the sleeping baby secured against her. It didn’t take long for him to be free and rest on one of the two beds in the room. “They have given us a good place to rest,” he said, looking around. There were some things that they could use to cook meals with, along with basic foods.

“At least A-Yuan won’t go hungry anymore,” she murmured, “We have another six hours before he wakes up. He will be so hungry by then,” she added, as the baby had only had a bit of rice that morning. The others in their hut often gave him their food to make sure he wouldn’t go hungry.

“Hmm,” he nodded, smiling at his cousin.

“Let’s rest and eat,” she said as she headed into the small kitchenette and did something easy to eat.

“I can’t believe we have been trusted with being able to do our own food,” Wen Ning said.

“Neither can I, but let’s make the most of it while they are being generous.

Wen Ning nodded and began to help his sister.

XxXxX

An hour after eating the two siblings had tucked Wen Yuan somewhere safe, to make sure that no one would be able to find him. They were soon inside the Jingshi, where Wei Wuxian was sitting up in bed, pale and tired as he smiled at them.

“Good to see you both again,” he greeted, “Thank you, for the help back then, for what you both did for us,” he thanked them.

“You’re welcome,” Wen Qing nodded as she went over to the bed. “How are you feeling?” she asked, beginning to try and figure out what was going on with the young man.

Wei Wuxian began to explain to her what he had done during the Sunshot Campaign and other things. Nodding, she used her ability to map out the resentful energy, able to break through it, knowing that there was no core that was hidden or blocked. She nodded. Looking at him and whispering so only he could hear her, “They need to know that you have no core.”

Wei Wuxian paled even more, “I… I can’t. Especially with Jiang Cheng here, I don’t want them to kn-”

“Their treatments are killing you because of that belief. I know you wanted to keep it to yourself, but with the absence of this detail, you’ll never get better, I’ll keep the real reason why quiet for now but…” Wen Qing explained.

Wei Wuxian sighed and nodded, “Okay,” he agreed.

Wen Qing stood up, “I have been able to examine him, but there is something that you need to be made aware of before I can explain everything,” she told them, “At the moment, Wei Wuxian has no golden core. It has been gone for some time.”

“What but-” Jiang Cheng’s eyes were wide, seeing the desolate look on his brothers face he went over to him, “Why didn’t you tell me?” he asked, “Can s-”

“No, one time only,” he told him, knowing what Jiang Cheng was going to say. “I lost my core before I went missing, I’ve known this for a long time,” he added, “So please, don’t tell anyone else. I don’t need more people trying to come after me that already are,” he told them, almost begging as he looked at his siblings and the Lan brothers. Lan Zhan’s hands tightened into fists, jaw clenched as his eyes went wide at the news.

“We will not,” Lan Xichen promised, voice shaking just slightly as he took the news in. WhileLan Zhan nodded

“Without the core, there is nothing helping Wei Wuxian cultivate. He uses the resentful energy to replace what we do with traditional Spiritual Energy. Being immersed in it for all those months, the resentful energy is now a part of him, too much of it will overwhelm his body however purifying all of it completely could actually kill him as well,” she began to explain, “At the moment his body is overrun by it.”

“We have been aggressively purging the resentful energy with our techniques. So that’s why Young Master Wei becomes so weakened after each of our sessions,” Lan Xichen puzzled as to why he would be getting weaker with the resentful energy being syphoned and purified.

“Yes, so we need to take the purification process slowly.”

“How… how are we to do that?” Jiang Yanli asked as she glanced over at Jiang Cheng sitting by the bed, staring at his brother.

“Cleansing should happen once every two weeks, or after he uses Demonic Cultivation for an extensive period of time. Use Clarity once a week to help him maintain control. Overall, the level of resentful energy should be a third of what it is now to reach a balance where it doesn’t harm his body…,” she said. Truthfully, most of this was guesswork, but she had observed the effects of resentful energy a lot during the campaign, seeing what her uncle was doing most of the time and finding ways around it for those that were subjected to his experiments with the Yin Iron. “This is all new territory, it will take a while before we truly figure out that particular threshold,” she added as she looked at him.

“If that happens then A-Xian will recover completely?”Jiang Yanli asked, hope instilled by the new information. Wen Qing smiled.

“At the very least he won’t die,” she replied.

“Thank you for your invaluable insight, we ask that you remain here a while longer to help monitor his health,” Lan Xichen asked.

“Of course,” she nodded. “I can provide your healers with my research later.”

“Thank you,” Jiang Yanli said to her, a soft smile on her face.

“I need to talk to Wei Wuxian alone,” Jiang Cheng finally said, still looking at his brother.

“Why?” Jiang Yanli asked, seeing her brothers staring at each other. One of them looking more like a trapped deer while the other seemed angry.

“Something I need to ask him, and I want to do so… privately,” he said, glancing at her for a moment before looking back at Wei Wuxian.

“Okay,” she said, not sounding too sure. They left the room. Wen Qing and Wen Ning were taken back to their pavilion under escort.

Jiang Cheng looked at the door for a moment until it shut, “What did you do?” there was anger in his tone.

“What do you mean?” Wei Wuxian asked, a bright smile on his face as he hoped to distract his brother from his questions.

“I know you, there wasn’t enough time from when you saw me off up that mountain to when we heard that you had been taken. I know it wasn’t Wen Zhuliu that… that crushed your core,” he shuddered, remembering that moment himself. The pain, the emptiness, the feeling of loss that he carried for what seemed like an eternity. To know that his brother was also going through that made him want to scream and rant at the unfairness of the world around them. It was only when he looked at Wei Wuxian’s eyes and paid a bit more attention to Wen Qing that he began to put some of the pieces together.

“They took me up to… to throw me into the burial grounds, there was so much time for him t-”

“No,” he started and stopped, he couldn’t put his words in any form of order. He grew up with Wei Wuxian, he knew when he was lying when he wasn’t telling the full truth. The little tells showed him that something more was to the story. Glancing at Wen Qing, he could see guilt in her eyes. It was hidden, well hidden, but he had spent a lot of time watching her in the past. There was so much he wanted to ask and he had a feeling it would be harder to get an answer from his brother than it was to stop him from drinking. “Tell me, what did you do Wei Wuxian?” he asked him once more.

Wei Wuxian looked away, “Jiang Cheng, you don’t need to know, please.” He was begging, but he knew nothing good would come from what his brother would learn.

“Tell me!” he ordered, “What did you do?” He went to the bed, kneeling next to it and looked at him, “Wei Wuxian,” he said, voice softer than it had ever been, “Tell me, please, what did you do?” begging his brother to answer him, looking him in the eyes and hoping that he would be told the truth.

Wei Wuxian could only look at him for a moment before he glanced away. He was startled when he felt Jiang Cheng’s hands take his. The callous that decorated their hands from sword practice were rough but familiar as his own. “Jiang Cheng,” he trembled, “Please don’t ask,” he told him. Eyes filling with tears.

“Wuxian, please, just tell me, I need to know what you did?” he asked him once more.

“I gave you mine,” he whispered, finally breaking as the pleading tone.

Jiang Cheng closed his eyes, tears falling down his face, “Why?” he asked him, shaking his head, “You… You-”

“Because leading the Jiang sect is what you were born for. What you live for. Take the core as my repayment to your mother and father for taking me in all these.”

“I-”

“A-Cheng,” he said, “I’ll be fine.”.”

“But you turned to Demonic Cultivation because of it,” he whispered, voice breaking at what his brother had done for him.

“It’s my choice if it means protecting you and shijie, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do and I can still be happy as an ordinary, normal person.” ”,” he gave a little shrug.

Jiang Cheng wiped the tears from his face “You can never be normal,” he snorted, sniffing a little.

“Yes, I suppose,” he grinned, though there was a fondness behind it.

Jiang Cheng sighed, “I’m still pissed,” he warned him, “So you better make it up to me by getting well”

“I know,” Wei Ying chuckled, “Now go away, I want to nap,” he told him, snuggling down on the bed. He tired very easily these days.

“Goodnight,” Jiang Cheng placed the blanket over his brother as he left the Jingshi. Walking out of the doors, he saw the others waiting further away. As soon as the door had opened Lan Zhan was already rushing towards it.

“Everything all right?” Jiang Yanli asked, placing a hand on his arm as she looked at him worriedly. She had noticed the fact that he had been crying.

“Not really, but… it will have to be,” he answered, his heartfelt heavy bearing the burden of the truth of golden core inside him.

She nodded in understanding that she wouldn’t be privy to the secret yet, “It’s almost time for bed, the bell will be going soon,”.

With a nod, they headed towards the pavilion here the guest quarters were. While Lan Xichen followed his brother to say goodnight before heading to his own rooms.

Chapter Ten

Wen Qing and Wen Ning were pulled from their rooms once more and again they had to leave Wen Yuan alone, scared that he would be found. The two hoped that he understood how he had to be careful. Though their time in the camp would have pressed that into him already. He wasn’t even a year old and he knew he had to be careful, where a child, a baby, should be free from that worry. For the three days that they had been there, each time they had left Wen Yuan had hidden underneath a bed, in the far corner, sleeping and eating the little things that they had left for him.

Wen Yuan was hiding at the corner once more. He could hear voices outside of the rooms. He was curious, as any child would be and now that he couldn’t see any yellow robes, he felt safe. He wanted to see granny so he started crawling from under the bed. Wen Yuan toddled over towards the door. It was open a little, with a grin on his face he looked outside. There was no one there, and it was a little cold. Not knowing where he was going as he searched for his granny. He giggled as he came across a few bunnies, hopping as best as he could after them and often losing his balance and falling in the process.

Wen Yuan carried on walking after losing interest in the bunnies. He heard a melody, a sweet melody that made him clap his hands and giggle as he followed where it was coming from. He climbed up a few steps and pushed against a sliding door. It didn’t take long for his continued bangs against it for it to be opened and to fall in.

“And who might you be,” came a voice from above him.

Wen Yuan looked up there was fear in his eyes as he started to cry.

“Oh, hey,” Wei Wuxian cooed as he leaned down, picking the child up, “It’s okay, it’s okay,” he soothed as he rubbed his back, a frown on his face as he realised how thin the child in his arms was. “Now, what shall we do?” he hummed as he closed the door again and brought the child into the room. He was still a little tired, and according to Wen Qing, they didn’t want to let him go through clarity or cleansing until he was more stable.

Wen Yuan sniffed a few more times, before burrowing himself closer to the man. He felt safe and warm. His stomach gave a gurgle and he whined, “Ungry,” he murmured.

“Oh, poor thing. Hmm, let’s see if I still have something,” Wei Wuxian laughed lightly as he went to the table, his lunch still there. He didn’t have much of an appetite when it had arrived which turned out to be fortuitous for the unknown toddler. “Here we go,” he said as he then helped the boy eat, taking a few bites for himself. He did miss the times he was able to eat so heartily and not feel his stomach rebel on him every few moments. It didn’t help that the food itself was so bland that he questioned if he could taste anything.

“Yummy,” Wen Yuan grinned at him, feeling full for the first time he could remember.

“I guess anything tastes good if you’re hungry enough.” Wie Wuxian grinned, cuddling the child close, “Now, do you have a name?” he asked him.

“Wen Yuan,” he giggled.

Wei Wuxian froze, the only Wens around were Wen Qing and Wen Ning, they brought a child with them. He was so thin, there was barely any baby fat on him. He needed to talk to the two siblings, or at least tell them that Wen Yuan was there with him. He was about to get up and grab some paper when the door to the Jingshi opened. Wei Wuxian immediately brought the child around so he would be hidden from view.

“Wei Ying?” Lan Zhan puzzled at the odd behaviour of his beloved.

“Oh, Lan Zhan,” he sighed in relief as the child next to him gave a scared whimper.

“Who is this?” he asked, head tilted, as he glanced around Wei Wuxian.

“He said his name’s Wen Yuan, I think, Wen Ning and Wen Qing brought him with them. If so I need them here. They must be so scared if they went back and found him missing. I doubt anyone else knows about him, they’ll not be able to ask if anyone has seen him,” Wei Wuxian told him, rushing the words out as he knelt to the whimpering child and comforted him.

“Bring them here?” Lan Zhan asked him.

“Yes,” he nodded, “please.”

Lan Zhan nodded and walked out of the Jingshi once more. It didn’t take him long to come back with the Wen siblings following behind him. Wen Qing rushed over to Wen Yuan as soon as she spotted him, picking him up and holding him close, murmuring to him.

“Thank you for keeping him safe,” Wen Ning bowed to them both.

“Why did you bring him with you?” Wei Wuxian asked after he talked the two into joining him and Lan Zhan for some tea.

“Because he’ll die if we keep him with us in the camp. We’re starving, his parents were killed a few days after we arrived there. Whenever the Jin’s see him they push him and they…” Wen Qing trailed off, closing her eyes as she pulled the child closer, “They hurt him, a lot.”

“I saw some of the bruises,” Wei Wuxian nodded, “I knew those Jin’s were bad news,” he muttered darkly, clenching a fist.

“We’ve been doing our best to keep him hidden,” Wen Qing told him.

“What are you planning on doing? They’re going to be taking you back eventually,” he asked her, looking at the woman who had helped him give his golden core to his brother.

“We… we were goin… going to ask you,” Wen Ning stammered cutting himself off.

“Ask me what?” he looked at him and then at Wen Qing.

Wen Qing sighed, “We want to ask you to find a family for A-Yuan, let him forget that he was part of the Wen sect. Let him live a life where he won’t be hungry, won’t be harmed, and won’t be killed.”

“A family,” Wei Wuxian hummed, “I-”

“Here,” Lan Zhan said as he looked at Wen Yuan.

“A family here? That could work,” Wei Wuxian nodded in agreement, smiling at his fiance.

Lan Zhan watched Wei Wuxian as he played with Wen Yuan over the table. Making the child giggle. “I meant with us,” he told him.

“Hmm,” Wei Wuxian looked up from what he was doing and then nodded, “I know,” he smiled, “There would be a lot of questions,” he told him, “About him and where he came from,” he looked to the two siblings.

“We would rather you take him, we know you and trust you to keep him safe and love and care for him,” Wen Qing told him, “I don’t know how you would get it through to the elders without his origins coming out.”

“Hmm, Lan Zhan, think you could go on a small trip?” he asked him, barely sparing him a glance as he continued to play with Wen Yuan.

“What’s your plan?” Wen Qing asked him, shaking her head as she saw a glint in his eyes.

“I was thinking that Wen Yuan comes in as a child that Lan Zhan finds without family out there. You’re right, they’d ask too many questions if we just come in with him. But he needs to make sure he doesn’t say his name, especially his family name,” Wei Wuxian explains, going back to making faces with Wen Yuan.

“They will know I won’t leave you until I know you are better,” Lan Zhan told him, “it will take me a while to do so.”

“Then we’ll keep him with us for now,” Wen Qing said softly as Wen Yuan got off her lap and went over to Wei Wuxian as the man continued to play with the toddler.

“Bring him over in the morning if you can sneak him, I don’t mind him being here,” Wei Wuxian looked up from here he was making a butterfly with his hands, causing Wen Yuan to giggle.

“It will be easier when the other clan’s leave. Most left this morning. Only Lady Jiang Yanli remains,” Lan Zhan spoke softly, watching his fiance. “They have called a discussion conference in Lanling,” he added when he saw Wei Wuxian’s curious look.

“Have Lan Xichen and Jiang Cheng gone as well?” he asked, not remembering if his brother had said anything.

“Yes, they left with Clan Leader Nie this morning,” he answered.

“It will be easier, A-Ning and I have been writing down all we can from what we learned of the healing arts. We don’t want them to be lost. Most of the scrolls and books that you read back then when you were hiding with us. They were taken or burned. So a lot of things I learned then, I’m writing down. And we can’t really have A-Yuan with us when we’re writing, he’ll be easily found,” Wen Qing told him.

“And what’s going on with me,” Wei Wuxian muttered, rolling his eyes as he went back to entertaining Wen Yuan.

“Yes, well, you’re doing something that no one else has done before. And for those that have dabbled within it, most end up dead,” she told him bluntly.

“I’m careful,” he told her, “I did what I had to,” he added, huffing a little at the slightly alarmed look on Lan Zhan’s face.

“Be careful, can’t lose Wei Ying,” Lan Zhan told him.

Wei Wuxian looked at him, a soft look on his face, “I will,” he promised.

“Good,” he nodded.

XxXxX

Jiang Cheng clenched his fist, Zidian sparking a little as he listened to Jin Guangshan once again maligning his brother.

“We can not let the Stygian Tiger Amulet fall into the wrong hands,” Jin Guangshan told them all, shaking his head, “Wei Wuxian is very ill, and there is a chance he will die.”

“Enough!” Jiang Cheng yelled out, wanting nothing more than to whip the smug-looking man.

“I know it’s painful, but you need to know the truth,” he said, almost sounding sorry, “there is a chance he’ll die, you know this. It’s why you asked for those Wen’s to be brought to you.”

“I ask because they would be able to help him recover, they’ve treated him in the past, along with myself when Lotus Pier fell,” he said through gritted teeth. “They know how to help better than other healers.”

“Agreed, the healers at Cloud Recesses are good,” Lan Xichen nodded, “But I ‘ve since learned that Maiden Wen is very knowledgeable when it comes to the healing arts.”

“That may be so, but there is no guarantee that Wei Wuxian will live for much longer. While I admit that he looked well enough to sit with me and drink for a moment. He appeared very pale and shaky. Barely holding on to the seated position he was in,” Jin Guangshan told them all, “He holds a very dangerous artefact, and it can easily fall into the wrong hands.”

“And whose hands would that be?” Nie Mingjue asked him, eyes narrowed.

“We have vaults here that are secured, it would be safe there,” he said, with a wave of his hand towards his fellow sect leader.

“My brother has already destroyed it,” Jiang Cheng told them, shaking his head, “he told me that himself.”

“I doubt he has done such a thing. It’s hidden, I will admit, but it hasn’t been destroyed. Something like that… well it would take a lot of energy and with how ill your brother has been, I very much doubt he would have been able to,” he looked at the young sect leader, “Think Jiang Wanyin, your brother is dying, he holds something that has caused the death of basically an entire sect. It would not be safe to remain with him.”

“Sect Leader Jin,” Nie Mingjue began, eyes narrowed as he looked at the man, “They have said that the amulet has been destroyed, and even if it hasn’t, it is not up to you, or any of us as to what will happen to it. It is an artefact belonging to Wei Wuxian, and should he pass, then it would belong to the Jiang Sect unless Wei Wuxian bequeathed to someone,” he told the man.

“And what if he turns on us?” Jin Guangshan then said, getting the attention of the room, “he has already been part of destroying the Wens, and yes they needed to be taken care of. But that doesn’t stop him from doing the same to one of our sects should he so please,” he banged his fist on the table in front of him. The cup of wine sloshing and spilling a few drops.

“My brother would never do such a thing!” Jiang Cheng growled, eyes alight as he looked at the man.

“He already has,” Sect Leader Yao shook his head, “It would be right to take such a thing and have it hidden away.”

“Agreed,” said another, as murmurs broke out among the smaller sects.

Lan Xichen closed his eyes for a moment before opening them, “Wei Wuxian is beginning to heal. The amulet has been taken care of,” he told them, only alluding to the supposed destruction. He couldn’t outright lie after all. He was terrible at it.

“So… the artefact is too dangerous for one man to have. Especially someone as unruly as Wei Wuxian,” Sect Leader Yao said, already hearing about the type of trouble the boy had been in while he was a child.

“Who he was when younger is not the man he has become,” Lan Xichen told them. “He is a young man that has gone through a lot, and is now starting to recover from months of fighting,” he added.

Jiang Cheng and Lan Xichen shared a look as the smaller sects and Jin Guangshan began to rail on Wei Wuxian and the amulet. “They’re not listening to a word that we’re saying,” Jiang Cheng said softly.

“No,” Lan Xichen shook his head, “At the moment Wei Wuxian has the Jiang sect and Lan sect behind him. Since he’s betrothed now to Wangji.”

“We should announce that as well,” Jiang Cheng added, wondering if that would help at all.

“I was going to since the only ones that actually know are us and Nie Huaisang,” Lan Xichen said, he hadn’t even told his sworn brothers as the last of the details had been drawn up between himself and Jiang Cheng before they had left Cloud Recesses.

“Now that is settled,” Jin Guangshan grinned, causing Jiang Cheng and Lan Xichen to sigh as once more Cloud Recesses will be invaded basically by the other three sects, as they had done when Lan Xichen asked for the Wen siblings. “Is there anything else that needs to be announced?” he asked.

“I do believe there is,” Lan Xichen said, “I wish to announce the joining of Sect Lan to Sect Jiang through marriage.”

“Oh, Lady Jiang is to be married?” Jin Guangshan said, a growl coming from him as he had tried to get his son to marry her once more.

“No,” Jiang Cheng said, “My brother and Second Young Master Lan are to be married.”

“Their engagement has been hidden for some time. But now peace is upon us, we believe it’s time for them to finally marry,” Lan Xichen added, seeing Nie Mingjue giving him a look.

“And when is this auspicious day?” Sect Leader Yao asked.

“In three months time. We believe that Wei Wuxian should be fully recovered some time beforehand,” he added.

Conversation broke out, congratulations to be passed on to the couple as well as questions as to why the engagement was hidden. Thankfully, things ended soon after leaving the two free to relax a little.

Chapter Eleven

Jin Guangshan and the other sect leaders all descended on Cloud Recesses once more. This time there were a few of the smaller Sect Leaders with them. This time instead of people being sent to their own areas, they were grouped together, since there were so many more people. It annoyed Jin Guangshan that he was having to share a room with several others. As soon as they had settled he strode through Cloud Recesses as though he owned it, heading to the Jingshi where Wei Wuxian was resting.

Wei Wuxian had been out to greet them but had quickly been shuffled back to the Jingshi when he started to tire. Jin Guangshan was not going to be kept away from him by those around the young Cultivator. Walking up the steps he slammed the door open and walked in. Only to be greeted with a loud and terrified scream of a child.

Wei Wuxian jumped up and rushed over to the screaming toddler and picked him up, “It’s all right A-Yuan,” he tried to comfort him as the toddler buried himself in his arms, still screaming. Wei Wuxian looked up to see what had scared the child so badly when he noticed Jin Guangshan standing there, an annoyed look on his face. “What are you doing here Sect Leader Jin?” he asked, trying to keep some politeness in his voice.

“I needed to talk to you-” he began, only to be cut off by Wen Yuan screaming once more. “Shut that child up!” he demanded.

“You can not demand anything, I suggest you leave,” Wei Wuxian told him as he went back to soothing the child in his arms, “It’s okay A-Yuan,” he murmured, rocking him in his arms.

“What is going on?” Jiang Cheng asked as he ran in, his sister hot on his heels. It didn’t take long for the Twin jades of Lan to appear.

Lan Zhan saw the distressed child and went over, wrapping his arms around them both, “A-Yuan, you are safe,” he told the child, his voice taking a gentle tone as Wei Wuxian carried on rocking him.

“Badman, bad man,” Wen Yuan cried, “yellow hurty,” he added.

“I have never done anything to that child!” Jin Guangshan defended himself.

“He may mean someone else,” Lan Xichen spoke up, a curious look on his face as he watched his brother and WeiWuxian deal with the small child between them. Slowly the screams and cries died down, but the toddler carried on clinging to Wei Wuxian, not letting him go.

“A-Yuan,” Wei Wuxian said softly, calling the child’s attention to himself, “What do you mean by that?” he asked him, hoping he would be able to get an answer.

“Make mama and papa sleep, no wake-up. Buried in dirt,” he cried softly.

Wei Wuxian was easily able to tell what had happened, “So they…” he closed his eyes holding Wen Yuan close, “what else?”

“Hot thing, so hot, scary. Screamy when touched, owies and smelly,” he sniffled, burying himself as close as he could as though he could hear the screams and smell the burning of flesh once more.

“I’m going to take him back there, see if I can settle him,” Wei Wuxian said, his voice tight with anger, eyes darting from silver to red and back again.

“Wei Ying, rest,” Lan Zhan told him, “I will deal,” he added as he made his fiance go behind the screen and rest with Wen Yuan.

“What is going on?” Jiang Cheng asked, keeping his voice low, not wishing to scare the child once more.

“That child,” Jin Guangshan began, “He is a Wen, is he not?” he asked, eyes darkening.

“So what?” Jiang Cheng told him, “he is a child, not a cultivator, and not someone you have to worry about.”

“He is a Wen and all Wen’s are to be in the camps,” Jin Guangshan told him, “Now how did he get here?” he asked once more.

“I would like to know more about what the young child has said,” Lan Xichen said, looking at the man.

“Scary men, killing his parents and burying them. Branding them, from what I can surmise,” Jiang Yanli said softly, looking at the man, eyes narrowed at the thought of a child seeing something like that.

“Sect Leader Jin,” Lan Xichen looked at him, “What goes on in the prison camps that you are in control of?” he asked him, a little more bluntly than he usually would. But he had learned his lesson, as had most of the Cultivation world, to not let things slide when faced with something that could be a problem.

“There is nothing that you should be concerned about, they are just When-Dogs after all, the bane that we need to eradicate,” he blustered as he turned and walked away, “I don’t have to listen to this slander!”

“I think we need to talk to Wen Qing and Wen Ning,” Jiang Cheng sighed, hand going to Zidan and fiddling with it.

“Wangji,” Lan Xichen looked at him, “Where did the child come from?”

“Wen Qing and Wen Ning smuggled him out of the camp. Asked us to find him a family where he would be safe,” Wei Wuxian answered as he walked out, Wen Yuan still in his arms, refusing to let go of him.

“Starving, hurt,” Lan Zhan began, “That is only some of what we learned.” He walked over to them, placing a comforting hand on Wen Yuan, who turned to him and reached a handout. With a smile, he took the hand, “You’re safe A-Yuan,” he reassured him.

“We are going to take A-Yuan in, we had a plan to get him in and to try and make sure that he wouldn’t be known as a Wen,” Wei Wuxian sighed softly as Wen Yuan began to fall asleep in his arms.

“I’m going to get Wen Ning and Wen Qing and bring them here,” Jiang Cheng said, patting his brother on the shoulder and looking down at the half-asleep child before leaving.

“Thank you,” Wei Wuxian smiled after him as he went and sat down at the low table. The others all doing the same as well. He moved Wen Yuan around in his lap and let him settle better as he finally fell asleep.

“What do you know about what is going on?” Lan Xichen asked the two.

“Not that much, just that things are really hard in the camps. Most of the people there now aren’t cultivators, some follow the path of healers, most are elderly. Some are also past cultivators but have been injured or no longer practice. They aren’t all fighters. Jin Guangshan made sure that those were taken care of before they were taken into the camps,” Wei Wuxian told them, “Though the others will know better as to what is going on.”

“Right, I’ll ask them,” Lan Xichen decided, as they waited in silence. It didn’t take long for the door to the Jingshi to open and Jiang Cheng to walk through with the Wen Siblings following behind him.

“Please, sit down,” Lan Xichen said to the two of them. Both of them looked wary as they noticed that Wen Yuan was sleeping in Wei Wuxian’s arms.

“Is everything okay?” Wen Qing asked, finding her voice as she sat down.

“Yes, it’s all fine, I just want to know what the camp is like?” Lan Xichen asked her as Jiang Yanli moved closer to the other woman. Reassuring her with her presence and smile on her face.

“Wen Qing, it’s best to tell them everything, they can help,” Wei Wuxian told her, believing that his brother and Lan Zhan’s would be able to help the Wen’s and their situation.

“Okay,” she sighed, as she began to tell them all of what had been going on. From the death of Wen Yuan’s parents, who had tried to get a little more food for the child. To those that were used as experiments. Those that were taken and never seen again. They listened as the horrors of what the last of the Wen sect was going through was told to them in detail. Wei Wuxian was grateful that the child in his lap was fast asleep so he didn’t have to hear anything.

Jiang Yanli had tears running down her face as she took Wen Qing and Wen Ning’s hands into her, “I’m sorry, for not making sure that you would all be safe.”

“We should have made sure,” Lan Xichen shook his head.

“We know that Cloud Recesses and Lotus Pier are still recovering. We all expected death, though we had hoped that the children would be spared that fate,” Wen Qing said, looking away from them.

“So… we know that… that other things are on your mind, we don’t blame you,” Wen Ning stammered quietly, trying to reassure the young woman that was holding his hand that things were okay.

“We still should have kept an eye on things,” Wei Wuxian told them.

“And what could you do, you were practically dying,” Wen Qing rolled her eyes at him.

“I knew something was going on,” he told her, “From what I saw, the Jin sect just wants everyone dead,” he sighed.

“And because of you at least Wen Yuan will live,” she said, still hoping he would take the child in.

“Of course,” he smiled at her, reassuringly, before glancing down at the child in his arms.

“Will take good care of him,” Lan Zhan promised her as he looked down at the small child. He was still unsure if he would be good at raising the child, but he knew that Wei Wuxian would be beside him to help and make sure that the child would always be able to smile.

“We need to talk with Sect Leader Jin about this,” Lan Xichen sighed, wondering if he should consult his Uncle along with Nie Mingjue.

“Bring in Sect Leader Nie as well,” Jiang Cheng advised, clenching his fist as he thought of what the remaining Wen’s were going through. Though he was still angry and hurt at what the Wen Sect had done, he knew, deep down that it wasn’t all of them. “He should know what’s going on.”

Lan Xichen nodded, “I shall consult with Uncle and Nie Mingjue,” he told the two of them as he stood, “Would you please accompany me?” he asked of the Wen siblings.

“Yes,” Wen Qing told him, she was scared, and they could all see that, but this might be the only way to possibly save the last of their family.

Wen Ning got up, “I… I hope we can help.” His voice was quiet, unsure, but he felt a little braver with his sister there, along with the reassuring looks from Wei Wuxian.

“May I talk to Wen Qing for a moment, alone,” Jiang Cheng suddenly asked.

Wen Qing looked at him and then nodded, “Of course,” she said as she went towards him. Jiang Cheng got up and walked out of the Jingshi.

Jiang Cheng looked at her, “I want to ask if you have given any thought to my proposal?” he said, nervously.

“I have and my time is better spent with my family. I know my death looms, and it would not be a good idea to put you in a position to try and court me,” she added. “I know this might not want to make you help us, so I would understand, especially for what the Wen Sect did to yours.”

Jiang Cheng shook his head, “I know what they did, and you didn’t do anything. Your brother saved me, brought me to you along with Wei Wuxian. He also brought back my parents,” he told her, “Even just for that I owe him a lot. For you to also heal me at great risk, I would still help. I… I do like you, and I think we would make a good couple. But that is up to you. I will not force anything on you, it would be a… it would be disrespectful, to say the least. You’re a strong-willed woman and I admire that greatly. I would like to be given a chance,” he asked her.

“My place is beside my family,” she told him, turning away a little.

“I understand, but when they are safe, please will you allow me?” he asked her. Seeing the comb that he had given her now in her hand.

“I will think about it,” she finally answered.

“That is all I ask, thank you,” he told her, a smile on his face as hope bloomed in his heart.

He opened the door and let Lan Xichen take Wen Qing with him. Heading to find Nie Mingjue and Lan Qiren. Jiang Cheng went to keep an eye on Jin Guangshan, to make sure no messages were sent out. He was half afraid that Wen Ning, Wen Qing and Wen Yuan may lose the rest of their family if such a message was sent out.

XxXxX

Jin Guanshan looked at those that had gathered. He was furious as to what was being thrown around. The Lan Healers had taken the time to examine the three Wen’s before they had cornered the Jin Sect Leader. Their physical health attesting to what had been told. A burn mark on Wen Ning, that of a peony easily seen and still healing, showed all that they were telling the truth.

“As of this moment, all Wen prisoners under your control will be released to that of the Lan Sect,” Nie Mingue told him, “We shall all go and bring them here, we fly there and bring them back on foot.” He looked at Lan Xichen who nodded.

“I‘ve informed Lan Zhan that something needs to be sorted for them, he told me to leave it to him,” he said softly. Looking at Jin Guangyao, the young man had told him that he hadn’t known what was going on.

“I’m not listening to this anymore, I’m returning to Koi tower,” he sent a glare at Jin Guangyao. Though there was something else to it from what Nie Mingjue has seen.

“I wish to remain, father,” Jin Guangyao addressed his father respectfully with a bow.

“Do as you please, the rest of us are leaving,” he said, turning to the rest of the disciples he had brought with him, “prepare to leave,” he told them all, storming towards the rooms he had been given.

Jin Guangyao turned to them, “I’m sorry,” he apologised.

Lan Xichen smiled, “It’s fine, A-Yao,” he reassured him, “you’re welcome to stay.”

“Thank you brother,” he smiled at him, his whole demeanour changing.

“Sect Leader Lan, we should get ready to leave,” Jiang Cheng told him, they knew where they were going, but only because Wen Qing had told them as soon as Jin Guangshan was out of earshot.

“Yes,” he nodded, as he and a number of others began to prepare themselves. A few healers are going with them to deal with anything that may come up.

Jiang Cheng went to Wen Qing, “It might be an idea for you to come with us so that they know that we’re truly there to help,” he suggested to her.

“I will,” she agreed, as they headed out of Cloud recesses and taking his hand she climbed onto his sword and they headed off with almost 50 Lan Sect disciples following them.


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2 Comments:

  1. This is great Duo! I read it all and I loved the way you diverged. It was so cool. And yes I agree Wei Ying is the Mama

  2. Love The Untamed, this is great. 🙂

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