Chapter 116: Extra—Banquet (Part Three)
Translated by K of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
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The more serious he was, the more Wei WuXian couldn’t suppress the desire to make mischief within him.
He knocked lightly on the black porcelain bowl with his finger, letting out crisp sounds only the two of them could pick up. Hearing the noise, Lan WangJi’s eyes moved a few unnoticeable inches towards him.
Wei WuXian knew that no matter how much Lan WangJi’s eyes shifted, he wouldn’t miss a single movement of his through the corner of his eye. And so, he lifted the bowl and pretended to take a sip. Turning it in his hand, he stopped where Lan WangJi drank, and covered the edge of the bowl with his lips.
As expected, although Lan WangJi’s hands were originally placed properly on his lap, right now his position still hadn’t changed, but the fingers quietly hidden underneath the white sleeves curled up slightly.
Seeing this, Wei WuXian felt his heart grow wings. Momentarily relaxed, he was just about to lean against Lan WangJi uncontrollably when a harsh cough suddenly came from Lan QiRen. Wei WuXian immediately straightened his half-slanted body, returning to the proper seating posture.
Only a while after the soup had been finished was the main course finally brought forth. On every table were three dishes placed in small plates, either green or white. They were no different from the food served when Wei WuXian was studying here. After all these years, apart from the increasing bitterness, there was no change at all. Partly because of geography and partly because of personality, Wei WuXian liked strong tastes, especially spice, and regarded meat as a necessity. When faced with such plain dishes, he didn’t really didn’t have an appetite, munching them down without even knowing what he ate. Meanwhile, Lan QiRen’s eyes swept by once in awhile, glaring at him just like back when he taught him, ready to pick on him and make him leave at all time. It was because Wei WuXian was abnormally well-behaved that he couldn’t do anything and had to give up.
After the tasteless meal, the servants took away the plates and tables. As usual, Lan XiChen started to summarize the recent plans for the sect. But after listening for just a few sentences, Wei WuXian began to feel that he was a bit absent-minded. He even remembered two night-hunting locations wrong and didn’t realize after he spoke, causing Lan QiRen to throw a couple of sideway looks at him and puff his goatee into the air. A while later, he finally couldn’t help but interrupt him. Fortunately, the sect banquet finally ended, although somewhat hastily.
A dreary beginning, a dreary process, and a dreary ending—Wei WuXian was forced to be dreary for over two hours. There was neither delicious food nor good entertainment. It was so suffocating that he felt he’d had fleas on his body for half a year. And even afterwards, Lan QiRen strictly called Lan XiChen and Lan WangJi away, likely going to give them a lecture again, and two of them at once at that. He had no-one to mess with. After he strolled around a bit, he spotted a few juniors walking together. Just as he was about to greet them and snatch them away to have some fun, however, something changed on Lan SiZhui, Lan JingYi, and the rest of the juniors’ faces the moment they saw him. They spun around and proceeded to leave.
Wei WuXian understood. He ventured to a somewhat more secluded piece of woods. He waited for a while, and the kids from back then finally snuck out again. Lan JingYi, “Senior Wei, we did not ignore you on purpose, but Sir said anyone whoever talks to you will copy the Lan Sect’s rules from top to bottom…”
‘Sir’ was the honorific by which all disciples and cultivators of the GusuLan Sect referred to Lan QiRen. Any mention of ‘Sir’ meant him and only him. Wei WuXian gloated, “It’s fine, I knew. It’s not the first day your Sir is fireproof, thief-proof, and Wei-Ying-proof. You’ve seen his success rates? He probably feels like his well-nurtured cabbage was dug up by a pig*. It’s only natural he’s a bit more fiery than usual, hahahaha…”
*TN: This is a common saying in China used to describe what parents feel when their cherished daughter falls in love.
Lan JingYi, “…”
Lan SiZhui, “… Hahaha.”
Wei WuXian had finished laughing, “Right, you said back then you were punished because you went night-hunting with Wen Ning.” He asked Lan SiZhui, “How has he been doing?”
Lan SiZhui, “He is probably hidden in some corner down the mountain, waiting for us to find him again the next time we go night-hunting.” After some thought, he continued with a tone of worry, “But when we parted, Sect Leader Jiang seemed to be quite mad still. I hope we did not make things difficult for him.”
Wei WuXian, “Huh? Jiang Cheng? How did you run into him while night-hunting?”
Lan SiZhui, “We invited Young Master Jin to join our night-hunt last time, so…”
Wei WuXian immediately understood.
One could even guess that while Lan SiZhui led the group in the night-hunt, Wen Ning naturally wouldn’t be idle either. He must’ve followed them in the dark to protect them, so that he could provide assistance when they encounter danger during the night-hunt. Jiang Cheng must’ve been sneaking behind Jin Ling as well, scared something would happen to him again. And so the two ran into each other under dangerous circumstances. He asked, and this was exactly what happened. Wei WuXian didn’t know whether or not he should laugh.
After a pause, he asked again, “How have Sect Leader Jiang and Jin Ling been?”
Following Jin GuangYao’s death, the most pure-blooded heir of the LanlingJin Sect was Jin Ling. However, there were still many elders in side branches of the sect that watched hungrily, eager for the opportunity. The LanlingJin Sect was scorned by others on the outside, and on the inside held a mixture of different self interests. Jin Ling was still young. How could he keep everything down? In the end, Jiang Cheng still went up Koi Tower, Zidian in hand, and walked once around, for him to finally be able to temporarily secure his position as sect leader. As for what would happen in the days to come, nobody knew.
Lan JingYi pouted, “They seem pretty fine. Sect Leader Jiang is the same as before, always lashing out at people with his whip. Young Mistress’s temper has been getting better. In the past he could talk back thrice to his uncle after he scolds him once. Now he can do ten times.”
Lan SiZhui reproached, “JingYi, how could you call someone like that behind their back?”
Lan JingYi protested, “I clearly call him the same thing to his face.”
Hearing Lan JingYi say so, Wei WuXian relaxed slightly. In truth, he knew that these weren’t what he really wanted to ask. But as it sounded like Jiang Cheng and Jin Ling had been doing quite well, there was nothing left to say. He stood up and dusted off the lower hem of his clothes, “Sure, then. It’s pretty fine indeed. They can keep up the good work. You guys can continue. I need to go take care of something.”
Lan JingYi disdained, “You have always been lounging about here in the Cloud Recesses. What things do you need to take care of”
Wei WuXian didn’t even turn around, “Nibble my cabbage!”
It was rare he woke up so early in the morning. After he returned to the Jingshi, he first slept for a long while. The result of such a lopsided sleep schedule was that when he woke up, it was already dusk. He missed dinner and there wasn’t anything else for him to eat. Wei WuXian didn’t feel hungry either. He continued to search through Lan WangJi’s old calligraphy prints and essay drafts as he waited. Yet, even until nightfall, his big cabbage didn’t return.
Finally, Wei WuXian felt how empty his stomach was. But the time had already passed the Cloud Recesses’ curfew. According to sect rules, unauthorized people weren’t allowed to roam outside, much less climb the wall and venture outside—if this were back then, no matter what he ‘couldn’t’ do, no matter what was ‘forbidden’, Wei WuXian only cared about eating when he was hungry, sleeping when he was tired, teasing when he was bored, running when he got into trouble. But the situation now was different. Those would count as faults of Lan WangJi now. No matter how hungry, how bored he was, he could only let out a long sigh and endure it.
At this point, a slight noise came from outside the Jingshi. The door was pushed a slit open.
Lan WangJi returned.
Wei WuXian pretended to be dead on the ground.
He heard Lan WangJi walk gently towards the desk and place something on top, never saying anything. Wei WuXian wanted to continue playing dead, but it seemed as if Lan WangJi opened the lid of something as a strong savor of spice overwhelmed the cold sandalwood that originally perfused the Jingshi.
At once, Wei WuXian got up from the ground with a roll, “Er-gege! I’ll do everything you say for the rest of my life!”
Expressionless, Lan WangJi took out the dishes from within the box and laid them on the desk. Wei WuXian gravitated towards him. The sight of the red color atop the half-a-dozen white plates made him so joyous that his eyes glowed red, “You’re too kind, HanGuang-Jun, it’s so thoughtful of you to go out of your way and bring back food for me. You can order me around no matter what you do from now on.”
At last, Lan WangJi took out a pair of ivory white chopsticks and placed them horizontally over the bowl, his voice cool, “Speech is forbidden when dining.”
Wei WuXian, “And you say speech is forbidden when sleeping. Every night when I say so much and make so much noise why have you never stopped me?”
Lan Wangi glanced at him. Wei WuXian, “Fine, fine, fine, I’ll stop. We’re like this already, so why is your face still so thin? You get embarrassed so easily, but that’s exactly what I like about you. Did you bring this from the Hunan cuisine at Caiyi Town?”
Lan WangJi didn’t say anything, so Wei WuXian took it as a silent confirmation. He sat down at the desk, “I wonder if that restaurant is still open. In the past, we always ate there, or else if we only ate your sect’s food, I might not even have pulled through those few months. Oh just look at this. This is what a sect banquet should really be.”
Lan WangJi, “‘We’?”
Wei WuXian, “Jiang Cheng and I. Sometimes Nie HuaiSang and the other few as well.”
Sweeping his eyes over Lan WangJi, Wei WuXian grinned, “Why are you looking at me like this? HanGuang-Jun, don’t forget. Back then I’ve invited you to dine out together before. How passionately I tried! You were the one who refused to go. Every time I talked to you you’d glare at me, and everything you said started with a ‘no’. I’ve really met so many obstacles. I haven’t even squared things with you yet, and here you are unhappy. Speaking of it…” He slipped to Lan WangJi’s side, “I only forced myself not to sneak out because I didn’t want to violate any sect rules, waiting for you inside so obediently. Yet who would’ve thought you violated the rules yourself and went out to find food for me, HanGuang-Jun. Violating the rules like this—if your uncle knew, his heart’s gonna hurt again.”
Lan WangJi lowered his head and wrapped his arms around Wei WuXian’s waist. He looked quiet and motionless, yet Wei WuXian could feel his fingers stroke his waist, whether intentional or not. The fingers were so warm that the heat seeped through his clothes and went straight into his skin. The sensation was extremely clear. Wei WuXian embraced him as well, whispering, “HanGuang-Jun… I drank your sect’s soup and now my whole mouth is bitter. I can’t eat anything. What do I do?”
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Lan WangJi, “One sip.”
Wei WuXian, “Yes. I did only drink one sip, but this soup of yours truly has a strong aftereffect. The bitterness slid all the way from the tip of my tongue down into my throat. Tell me—what should I do?”
After some silence, Lan WangJi replied, “Balance it.”
Wei WuXian asked with humility, “How should I balance it?”
Lan WangJi raised his head.
A mild, medicinal aroma was weaved in and out of both of their lips. The slight bitterness made the kiss especially lingering.
When they finally managed to part, Wei WuXian breathed, “HanGuang-Jun, I just remembered. You drank two bowls of that soup. You’re even more bitter than me.”
Lan WangJi, “Mn.”
Wei WuXian, “But you still taste quite sweet. How strange.”
“…” Lan WangJi, “Eat first.” After a pause, he added, “We can do it after you finish.”
Wei WuXian, “I’ll eat the cabbage first.”
Lan WangJi frowned slightly, as though he was confused as to why he’d mention cabbages so suddenly. Wei WuXian laughed as he curled his arm around his neck.
Those so-called banquets were best held behind shut doors.