Chapter 112: WangXian (Part Two)
Translated by K of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
If you are reading this on a site other than exiledrebelsscanlations, you are reading a stolen copy. Please read at the original site.
Three months later, at Guangling.
Over a mountain, a crowd of villagers holding torches and farm tools as weapons slowly surrounded a patch of woods on the mountain.
There was a nameless graveyard atop the mountain, which hadn’t been peaceful for the past few months. Having been continuously haunted by ghosts, the villagers down the mountain couldn’t take it any longer and asked a few cultivators who were passing by to go up the mountain together and destroy the root of the hauntings.
As dusk fell, the chirps of insects grew even clearer. Rustles now and then came from within the waist-high grass, as though some unknown creature lurked within, ready to attack. But when one parted the grass nervously, casting the torch light on it, it’d prove to be another false alarm.
Holding swords, the cultivators led the villagers carefully across the grass and into the woods.
Right inside the forest was the graveyard. The tombstones made of either stone or wood were partly falling and partly fallen. Dark, gloomy winds blew across the scene. Exchanging a look, the cultivators took out their talismans and prepared to start exorcising the spirits. Seeing their calm composure, a few of the villagers let out a sigh of relief, inferring that the situation shouldn’t be too difficult.
But before the were relieved for long, they heard a loud slam. A badly mutilated corpse crashed into a pile of dirt before them.
The villager closest to the pile of dirt shrieked, throwing his torch as he scrambled away. Immediately after, a second, a third, and a fourth bloody corpse had landed as well. Almost as if raining down from the sky, the corpses fell to the ground ceaselessly. Screams at once echoed throughout the woods. The cultivators had never seen such a situation before, but they remained unafraid despite the shock. The leader shouted, “Don’t run! Don’t panic! It’s only a few small ghosts…”
Before he finished, as though his neck had been strangled, his voice was cut off.
He saw a tree.
A person sat on on the tree, dangling a slice of his black robes. A slim, black boot swung lightly back and forth, in a relaxed, almost amused way.
Beside the person’s waist was a dark, gleaming flute, and below the flute hung a blood-red tassel, swishing slowly alongside his leg.
The cultivators’ expressions changed at once.
The villagers had originally been losing their minds. With the shout, just as they felt somewhat soothed, they saw the pale-faced cultivators and bolted at once, rushing out of the woods and down the mountain like a gust of wind. They abandoned the cultivators with the assumption that there must be some terrible creature atop the mountain that these cultivators couldn’t even manage. Within the blink of an eye, they scattered like a crowd of frightened animals. One of the villagers ran a bit slower, falling behind as he tripped on the ground, eating a mouthful of mud. He thought he was dead for sure, having ended up alone, but he suddenly saw a young man in white stand before him. His eyes immediately lit up.
Hanging a sword at his waist, the man seemed like he was enveloped in a hazy light, almost heavenly amid the dark forest. He didn’t seem like the average person. The villager hurried to call for help, “Young Master! Young Master! Help me, there’s a ghost! H-H-Hurry and…”
Before he finished, another corpse landed in front of him. The bleeding features stared straight into his eyes.
Just as the villager was about to pass out from fear, the man said one word to him, “Go.”
It was only a single word, but the villager felt a inexplicable sense of ease, almost as though he was saved from death. Strength suddenly gushed back into his body as he crawled up and fled without looking back.
The man in white glanced at the corpses crawling in the woods, as if he didn’t know what to think of it. He looked up. The black-clothed person who’d been sitting atop the tree hopped off as well, instantly darting beside him and pinning him onto a tree. He whispered, “Huh, isn’t this the pure and noble HanGuang-Jun, Lan WangJi? What brings you to this territory?”
Surrounded by corpses creeping on the ground, either cruel or confused or committed, the person propped one hand on the tree trunk. Lan WangJi was stuck in the space between his arm and the tree, expressionless.
The person continued, “Since you’re making such a nice little home delivery, I’ll… Hey, hey, hey!”
With a single hand, Lan WangJi had locked both his wrists.
The tables turned. The one in black exclaimed, having been overpowered, “Good Heavens, HanGuang-Jun, you’re too powerful. I can’t believe it—this is shocking, this is unthinkable! You conquered me with only one hand and I can’t resist at all! What a scary man!”
Lan WangJi, “…”
His hands involuntarily tightened, and the other’s surprise turned into terror, “Ow, it’s so painful. Let me go, HanGuang-Jun. I won’t dare do such a thing ever again. Don’t seize me like this, and please don’t tie me up, or force me onto the ground…”
Watching his words and actions become even more exaggerated, Lan WangJi’s eyebrow twitched. He finally interrupted him, “… Stop fooling around.”
Wei WuXian was right in the middle of his plea, surprised, “Why? I haven’t finished begging for mercy yet.”
“…” Lan WangJi, “You beg for mercy every day. Stop fooling around.”
Wei WuXian drew nearer toward him, whispering, “Isn’t it what you wanted… Everyday means everyday.”
His face was so close it seemed like he was going to kiss Lan WangJi, yet he refused to make direct contact. Their lips were near yet apart, separated by a mere paper’s width, as if an amorous but stubborn butterfly flitted around a prim petal, denying it a kiss. With the tease, Lan WangJi’s light eyes flickered. He moved slightly, as though he couldn’t hold back any longer and the petal was finally going to touch the butterfly’s wings out of its own will. Yet, Wei WuXian lifted his face all at once and dodged his lips.
He raised a brow, “Call me Gege.”
Lan WangJi, “…”
Wei WuXian, “Call me Gege. I’ll let you kiss me if you do.”
“…” Lan WangJi’s lips fluttered.
He’d never used this soft, saccharine honorific to call anyone. Even when talking to Lan XiChen, he’d always used the proper ‘Brother’*. Wei WuXian coaxed, “Just let me hear you say it. I’ve said it to you so many times. We can do other things after we kiss, if you say it.”
*TN: Gege and Xiongzhang—what LWJ uses—both mean Brother, although Gege is cuter and Xiongzhang is more formal.
Even if Lan WangJi was almost going to say it, after this, he was still defeated by Wei WuXian and couldn’t open his mouth. After a long while, the only thing that came out was, “… Shameless!”
Wei WuXian, “Aren’t you tired of holding me with one hand? It’s so inconvenient doing everything with just one hand left.”
Regaining his composure, Lan WangJi asked in quite a polite manner, “Then what should I do?”
Wei WuXian, “Let me teach you. Wouldn’t it be convenient if you take off your forehead ribbon and tie my hands up?”
Lan WangJi looked quietly at the grinning face. He slowly took off his forehead ribbon and spread it out for Wei WuXian to see.
And then, as swift as lightning, he tied a knot around the wrists and firmly positioned Wei WuXian’s troublemaking hands over his head before sinking into his neck. Right at this point, a shriek came from within the grass.
The two parted at once. Lan WangJi put his hand on Bichen’s handle, but he didn’t unsheath it rashly, for the shriek just now was crisp and dainty, clearly that of a child. It’d be awful if they accidentally hurt an ordinary person. The waist-high grass rustled and the ripples of movement went farther and farther. It seemed like they snuck away. Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi followed for a few strides before a woman’s ecstatic voice came from below the hill, “MianMian, are you alright? How could you run around somewhere like this? Mommy was scared to death!”
Wei WuXian paused, “MianMian?”
He felt like the name sounded familiar. He had to have heard it somewhere before. A man’s voice scolded, “Told you not to run around on night-hunts, and you still rushed out all on your own. What should your mom and I do if you were eaten by a ghost?! … MianMian? What’s wrong? Why is she like this?” The last sentence was likely directed at the woman, “QingYang, come take a look. Did something happen to MianMian? Why is she like this? Did she see something that shouldn’t be seen up there?”
… She indeed saw something… that shouldn’t be seen…
Lan WangJi glanced at Wei WuXian, who returned the look with an innocent face, mouthing, “What a sin.”
He clearly felt no guilt about having tarnished a child’s eyes. Lan WangJi shook his head. The two of them left the graveyard together and walked downhill. The three below looked at them with both shock and caution. The man and woman were husband and wife, both squatting on the ground, while standing in the middle was a young girl around ten years old, wearing looped pigtails. The woman was a young mother with fair features, wearing a sword at her waist. The moment she saw Wei WuXian, she unsheathed her sword, pointing it at him as she yelled, “Who is it?!”
Wei WuXian, “No matter who I am, I’m a person after all, and not something else.”
The woman wanted to speak again, but she saw Lan WangJi standing behind Wei WuXian. She immediately hesitated, “HanGuang-Jun?”
Lan WangJi wasn’t wearing his forehead ribbon, so for an instant she couldn’t be sure. If not for just how unforgettable his face was, she might’ve hesitated just a bit longer. She turned her eyes back to Wei WuXian, a bit dazed, “T-Then you’re- you’re…”
It was long since the news that the YiLing Patriarch returned to the living spread across the world. Whomever stood beside Lan WangJi right now had to be him, so he didn’t feel strange that he was recognized. Seeing that she seemed somewhat excited, along with the familiar face, Wei WuXian thought, Perhaps the madam knows me? Have I wronged her? Have I upset her? No, I never knew a maiden called QingYang… Ah, MianMian!
Wei WuXian realized, “You’re MianMian?”
The man stared, “Why are you calling my daughter’s name?”
So it turned out that the little girl who ran around and accidentally saw them was MianMian’s daughter. Her name was MianMian as well. Wei WuXian found it quite amusing, There’s a big MianMian and a small MianMian.
Lan WangJi nodded in salutation to the woman, “Maiden Luo.”
The woman brushed the somewhat disheveled hair by her cheek behind her ear, returning the salute, “HanGuang-Jun.” She then looked to Wei WuXian, “Young Master Wei.”
Wei WuXian grinned at the woman, “Maiden Luo. Oh, now I know what your name is.”
Luo QingYang smiled shyly, like she suddenly recalled some old, embarrassing stories. She pulled the man up, “This is my husband.”
Noticing that they held no malicious intent, the man softened visibly. After some chatter, Wei WuXian asked out of convenience, “Which sect do you belong to and which kind of cultivation do you practice?”
The man answered frankly, “None of them.”
Luo QingYang gazed at her husband, smiling, “My husband isn’t of the cultivating world. He used to be a merchant. But, he’s willing to go night-hunting with me…”
It was both rare and admirable that an ordinary person, and a man at that, would be willing to give up his originally stable life and dare travel the world with his wife, unafraid of danger and wander. Wei WuXian couldn’t help feeling respect for him.
He asked, “Did you come here to night-hunt as well?”
Luo QingYang nodded, “Yes. I heard spirits are haunting a nameless graveyard on this mountain, disturbing the lives of the people here, so I came to see if there’s any way I could help. Have you two cleaned it up already?”
If Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi had already dealt with it, further intervening would be needless. Yet, Wei WuXian said, “You were fooled by the villagers.”
Luo QingYang paused, “How so?”
Wei WuXian, “They told outsiders there were spirit hauntings, but in reality they themselves robbed the graves and messed with the bodies of the dead first, before they were faced with a counterattack from those who were buried.”
Luo QingYang’s husband sounded confused, “Really? But even if it were a counterattack, they wouldn’t have taken so many lives, would they?”
Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi exchanged a glance, “This was a lie too. No lives were lost. We looked it up. Only a few villagers who robbed the graves were bedridden for a while after being scared by the ghosts, and another broke his own leg when running away. Apart from these, there were no casualties. All those lives were made up for dramatic purposes.”
Luo QingYang’s husband, “So this was what happened? That’s absolutely shameless!”
Luo QingYang sighed, “Oh, these people…” She seemed as if she remembered something, shaking her head, “They’re the same everywhere.”
Wei WuXian, “I scared them a bit earlier on. They probably won’t be robbing the graves again after this, so of course the spirits won’t disturb them either. It’s finished.”
Luo QingYang, “But if they find other cultivators to forcefully suppress them…”
Wei WuXian grinned, “I’ve shown my face.”
Luo QingYang understood. If the YiLing Patriarch had shown his face, the cultivators would definitely spread the news after they saw him. The others would only think that he’d taken this place as his own territory. Which cultivator would have the guts to come over and provoke him?
Luo QingYang smiled, “So this was the case. When I saw how scared MianMian was, I thought she ran into some spirit. If there was any discourteousness, please don’t mind.”
Wei WuXian thought, No, no, no, I think we’re the more discourteous ones here. Yet on the surface, he spoke in all seriousness, “Of course not, of course not. Please also excuse us for scaring little MianMian.”
Luo QingYang’s husband picked up his daughter. Sitting on her father’s arm, MianMian glared at Wei WuXian with puffed cheeks, clearly mad from the embarrassment but too ashamed to say it. She wore a light pink dress, with deep black eyes that looked like crystal grapes adorning her sweet, snowy face. Seeing this, Wei WuXian felt a strong urge to go squeeze her cheeks, but as her father was watching, he only pinched her dangling pigtail, grinning with a hand behind his back, “MianMian looks so much like you when you were young, Maiden Luo.”
Lan WangJi glanced at him and said nothing. Luo QingYang broke into a smile, “Young Master Wei, don’t you feel guilty saying it? Do you really remember what I looked like when I was young?”
The smiling face seemed to overlap with that of the young girl back then who wore the pink gauze robes. Wei WuXian didn’t feel the slightest bit of shame, “Of course I do! You weren’t so different from right now. Right, how old is she? I should give her some money to ward off evil spirits*.”
*TN: The folklore of an old couple using money to ward off evil spirits from their child eventually led to the tradition of giving red envelopes of money to children on New Year’s Eve.
Luo QingYang immediately declined with her husband, “It’s fine, it’s fine.”
Wei WuXian laughed, “It’s not, it’s not. I’m not the one who’s paying anyways. Haha.”
The couple paused in surprise. Before they knew what was going on, Lan WangJi had already put something into Wei WuXian’s hand. Wei WuXian took the heavy coins from his hand and insisted on giving them to MianMian. Seeing that she couldn’t decline it, Luo QingYang turned to her daughter, “MianMian, go thank HanGuang-Jun and Young Master Wei.”
MianMian, “Thank you, HanGuang-Jun.”
Wei WuXian, “MianMian, I was the one who gave them to you, wasn’t I? Why didn’t you thank me?”
MianMian offered him a furious glare. No matter how much he teased her, she refused to talk to him as she looked down and tugged on a red string hanging around her neck, pulling out a delicate little perfume pouch. With much care, she put the money inside. Soon, the group had gone down the mountain, and Wei WuXian could only say goodbye to them with some regret, continuing on another path alongside Lan WangJi.
After their silhouettes disappeared, Luo QingYang lectured her daughter, “MianMian. You were so impolite. That was someone who saved your mother’s life.”
Her husband was shocked, “Really?! MianMian, you heard her? Look at how impolite you were!”
MianMian mumbled, “I… I don’t like him.”
Luo QingYang, “If you really didn’t like him, you would’ve thrown away the money a long time ago.”
MianMian buried her small, ruddy face against her father’s chest, whining, “He did bad things!”
Luo QingYang didn’t know whether to laugh or not. Just as she was about to speak, her husband mused, “QingYang, I heard you mention this HanGuang-Jun before. I remember he was an important person from a prominent sect. Why would he appear at such a small place and hunt such small prey?”
Luo QingYang explained to her husband patiently, “This HanGuang-Jun is different from the other famous cultivators. He always appears wherever the chaos is. As long as there’s a haunting, no matter the level of the night-hunt’s target or if he’d receive credit, he’d always provide assistance.”
Her husband nodded, “What a true cultivator.” He continued to ask, both anxious and confused, “Then what about that Young Master Wei? You said he saved your life, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard you mention such a person? Has your life ever been in danger?!”
Luo QingYang took over MianMian, an unusual gleam in her eyes. She smiled, “That Young Master Wei…”
On the other path, Wei WuXian spoke to Lan WangJi, “Can’t believe the little girl from back then already has a daughter who’s a little girl as well!”
Lan WangJi, “Mn.”
Wei WuXian, “But this isn’t fair. Back then she should’ve seen that you were the one doing bad things to me. Why does she find me more disagreeable?” Before Lan WangJi answered, Wei WuXian spun in a circle and faced Lan WangJi, walking backwards as he continued, “Oh, I know. She definitely likes me in secret. Just like a certain somebody from back then.”
Lan WangJi brushed the nonexistent dust from his sleeve, his voice cool, “Please give me back my forehead ribbon, Wei YuanDao*.”
*TN: To those who don’t remember, the poem goes “mian mian si yuan dao”, which translates roughly into “the ceaseless bounds of grass yearn for miles and miles on”. WWX tells her his name is YuanDao, since then it’d mean MianMian yearns for him.
Hearing the unfamiliar name, Wei WuXian only understood after a moment of thought. He clicked his tongue, laughing, “Hey, Second Young Master Lan, you’re drinking vinegar*, aren’t you?”
*TN: Drinking vinegar is an idiom for being jealous in Chinese. It’s just a really accurate metaphor so I thought I’d keep it the way it is.
Lan WangJi looked down. Wei WuXian stopped in front of him, one arm around his waist and the other lifting his chin, face serious, “Tell me the truth. How long have you been drinking from this bottle for? How have you hidden it so well? I couldn’t smell a single trace of the vinegar.”
As usual, Lan WangJi cooperated and raised his chin, only to feel a certain naughty hand slide to his chest. As he looked down, however, Wei WuXian’s hand had left already, holding a particular object. He feigned surprise, “What’s this?”
It was Lan WangJi’s money pouch.
Wei WuXian spun the delicate little pouch in his right hand as he pointed at it with his left, “HanGuang-Jun, oh, HanGuang-Jun, to take without asking is to steal. What did they call you back then? Heir of a prominent sect? Leading all disciples by example? What a disciple, who drinks strong vinegar in secret and stole the perfume pouch a little girl gave me to make it his own money pouch. No wonder I couldn’t find it wherever I looked, after I woke up. If the perfume pouch hanging at little MianMian’s chest weren’t the exact same as this one, I wouldn’t even have remembered. Just look at you, tsk tsk. Tell me. How did you take it from me when I was unconscious? How long did you spend taking it?”
Tiny ripples flashed across Lan WangJi’s face as he reached out to grab it. Wei WuXian tossed the money pouch, avoiding his hands as he stepped back, “Grabbing it by force since you can’t argue against me? Why the embarrassment? Getting embarrassed by something like this—I finally know why I’m so shameless. We’re really destined to be together. It’s definitely because all my shame is left in your care so that you can store it for me.”
Soft pink tinted Lan WangJi’s earlobe, but his face was still tight. His hands were quick, but Wei WuXian’s feet were quicker, refusing to let him have it, “In the past, you wanted to give me your money pouch yourself. Why won’t you give it to me now? Just look at you. You not only stealing in secret, but you’re also having an affair in secret.”
Lan WangJi plunged over and finally caught him, holding him tight in his arms as he protested, “We have prostrated thrice, so we already are… husband and wife. It does not count as an affair.”
Wei WuXian, “You can’t keep on forcing me like you’ve done, even between husband and wife! You always make me beg you, and you never stop even if I do. Now that you’ve become this, all of the GusuLan Sect’s ancestors must be furious…”
Unable to take it any longer, Lan WangJi finally muffled his mouth with his own.