Chapter 55 Courage—Part Five
*Warning: this chapter may cause discomfort to certain people, especially those who are eating.
After a pause, Wei WuXian added, “But even if it was hibernating, it didn’t need to sleep for four-hundred-years, did it? You said that the Xuanwu of Slaughter eats live humans—just how many has it eaten?”
Lan WangJi, “The book records that back then, whenever it appeared, the number of humans consumed ranged from hundreds to entire villages and cities. From the handful of times when it rampaged, it consumed at least five thousand alive.”
Wei WuXian, “Oh, so it overate.”
The beast seemed to enjoy taking the entire person into its shell, perhaps fond of hoarding humans to savor them slowly. It was possible that four hundred years ago it hoarded too much food into its shell at once, and even now it hadn’t digested everything.
Lan WangJi didn’t acknowledge him. Wei WuXian continued, “Speaking of eating, have you practiced inedia? Those like us can probably last three to four days without eating or drinking. But if after a few days, nobody comes to save us, our energy, strength, and spiritual power will probably start to drop.”
It wouldn’t be so bad if Wen Chao and his people chose to stand by and ignore them after they had fled. If they waited for three to four days, the assistance of other sects could potentially arrive in time. What they were afraid of was that not only would the Wen Sect’s people not provide them with assistance, but instead add to the fire. The YunmengJiang Sect and the GusuLan Sect would be the only ‘other sects’. If the Wen Sect hindered them, the time of ‘three to four days’ might have to double.
Wei WuXian took back the branch and sketched out a map on the ground, linking a few places together, “From Dusk-Creek Mountain to Gusu is a bit shorter than from Dusk-Creek Mountain to Yunmeng. It’s probably your sect’s people who will come first. Let’s just be patient. Even if they don’t come, the most that we’ll have to wait is one or two days before Jiang Cheng arrives at Lotus Pier. Jiang Cheng is quite clever. The Wen Sect’s people won’t stop him. There’s nothing to worry about.”
Lan WangJi’s eyes were downcast. He seemed worn out as he whispered, “They will not come.”
Wei WuXian, “Hm?”
Lan WangJi, “The Cloud Recesses has been burnt down already.”
Wei WuXian probed, “… Is everyone still there? Your father, your brother?”
He had thought that even if the leader of the Lan Sect, Lan WangJi’s father, was heavily injured, Lan QiRen and Lan XiChen would probably still be there to take control of the situation. Yet, Lan WangJi’s voice was monotone, “Father is almost gone. Brother is missing.”
The branch that Wei WuXian was scribbling on the ground with froze.
When they were going up the mountain, the disciple said that the Lan Sect’s leader was heavily injured, but he never thought that the injuries were so heavy that the leader was ‘almost gone’. Maybe Lan WangJi himself just found out about it in the past few days, receiving news that his father was dying.
Although the Lan Sect’s leader was practicing secluded meditation most of the time, minding nothing out of his own world, he was still Lan WangJi’s father. And, combined with the fact that Lan XiChen had gone missing, it was only natural that today Lan WangJi was especially gloomy and easily-angered. Wei WuXian immediately felt a sense of awkwardness and didn’t know what to say.
Yet, as he turned around amid the muddle, Wei WuXian felt his entire body become paralyzed.
The glow of the firelight reflected against Lan WangJi’s face as though he was made of warm jade. It illuminated, with utmost clarity, the tearstreaks that ran down his cheek, as well.
Wei WuXian was shocked speechless, thinking to himself, Oh no!
With people like Lan WangJi, throughout their entire lives, there would probably only be a handful of instances when they’d cry. And, this time, he just so happened to have come upon one of those instances. He was someone who just couldn’t look at other people cry. He couldn’t stand the tears of women. Whenever he saw them cry, he’d want to go over and joke around so that he could make them laugh. The tears of men, though, were what he really couldn’t stand. He had always felt that coming upon an instance when a man who was usually strong happen to cry was even scarier than accidentally seeing a chaste girl bathe. The thing was that he couldn’t even comfort him.
Under the blows of his residence being burned down, his sect being persecuted, his father dying, his brother going missing and he, himself, being injured, any sort of comfort would be pale and powerless.
Wei WuXian didn’t know what to do, so he turned his head the other way. A while later, he spoke, “Um, Lan Zhan.”
Lan WangJi responded with coldness, “Shut up.”
Wei WuXian shut up.
The fire cracked.
Lan WangJi spoke quietly, “Wei Ying, you really are an awful person.”
Wei WuXian, “Oh…”
He thought to himself, With so many things that have happened to him, Lan Zhan’s mood is at its worst right now, but there’s still me flashing around his sight. So that’s why he’s so angry. He didn’t have the energy to hit me because his leg is hurt, so he could only bite me… I guess I should leave him some peace and quiet.
He held it in for a while, then added, “It’s not that I want to annoy you… I just wanted to ask if you’re cold or not. The clothes have dried. You can have the undergarments. I’ll keep the robe.”
The undergarments were what he wore next to his body. It never would’ve been suitable for Lan WangJi to wear. However, his robe was already hideously dirty. All of the GusuLan Sect’s people loved to be clean. Giving such an item of clothing to Lan WangJi seemed to be a bit offensive. Lan WangJi didn’t say anything. He didn’t look at him either, so Wei WuXian tossed the white, dried-out undergarment toward him. He donned the robe himself and left in silence.
The two waited for an entire three days.
There was no sun or moon within the cave. They only knew that it had been three days because of the creepy sleep pattern of the Lan Sect’s people—sleeping and waking involuntarily when the times came. Thus, it was be possible to calculate the time from how many times Lan WangJi had slept.
With the past three days of conserving energy, the injury on Lan WangJi’s leg didn’t worsen and was slowly healing. He was able to sit in the lotus position to meditate soon afterward.
Within these days, Wei WuXian hadn’t been flashing before his sight. After Lan WangJi returned to a calm state of mind and adjusted his mood, he was the poker-faced Lan Zhan once more, and so Wei WuXian finally returned as though nothing had happened, pretending with a thick face that he had seen and heard nothing on that night. With much discretion, he didn’t tease him anymore either. The two’s interaction were lukewarm, though peaceful.
During the time, the two had scouted around the pool a couple of times. The Xuanwu of Slaughter had already dragged all of the corpses into its shell. The large, black shell floated in the water like a huge, impenetrable warship. In the beginning, heavy chewing noises often came from within. Later on, though, the noises ceased, replaced by what sounded like it was asleep and snoring. The snores were like roars of thunder.
The two had thought about sneaking underwater while the beast was asleep to find the hole where they could escape. However, they could only roam underwater for thirty minutes before their movements were noticed by the beast. And, although they had searched a few times, they couldn’t find the hole that Jiang Cheng had mentioned. Wei WuXian suspected that it might be covered up by a part of the beast’s body. Though he wanted to lure it out of the water again, the beast seemed as though it became tired after the big ruckus and didn’t want to move anymore.
They gathered all of the arrows, bows, and iron rods that lay scattered on the shore and took them back to count. There were over a hundred arrows, around thirty bows, and a little over ten iron rods.
This was already the fourth day.
Lan WangJi picked up a bow with his left hand, attentively examining the material. His right hand strummed across the bowstring. It somehow managed to create the sonorous clang of metal.
This was a weapon used by the cultivational world to hunt down beasts and demons. The material used for the bows and arrows were nothing of the norm. Lan WangJi broke off all of the bowstrings from the bows and tied them from top to bottom into a long chord. With both hands he stretched the chords taut and immediately flicked his wrists. The chord shot out as though it was lightning. A flash of white light flared across and a rock ten feet away was smashed into pieces.
Lan WangJi retrieved the chord. The bowstring broke with a sharp cry through the air.
Wei WuXian, “Chord Assassination?”
Chord Assassination was one of the techniques unique to the GusuLan Sect. It was created by and passed down from the granddaughter of the sect’s founder, Lan An—the third sect leader, Lan Yi. Lan Yi was also the only female sect leader of the Lan Sect, cultivating with the guqin. Her guqin had seven strings that could be joined and dismantled within moments. The seven strings were arranged from the most slender to the thickest. One moment she’d be playing noble melodies over them with her soft, fair fingers, and one moment later they’d be able to cut through flesh and bone as though cutting through mud, transformed into lethal weapons within her hands.
Lan Yi created Chord Assassination originally to assassinate dissidents, which was why she was often criticized. The GusuLan Sect was also quite ambivalent on its comments of such a sect leader. Undeniably, though, Chord Assassination was one of the most powerful, most versatile fighting techniques of the GusuLan Sect.
Lan WangJi, “Breach through within.”
The turtle shell was as solid as a fortress. Its surface was extremely hard, seemingly impossible to penetrate. But the more that this was true, the weaker the parts that it hid within its shell could turn out to be. Wei WuXian had also thought of this throughout the past few days. He knew what Lan WangJi meant.
What he knew with greater clarity was their current situation. After three days of rest, their physical conditions had just reached their peak. If they waited any longer, however, it’d begin to decline. And, the fourth day had already passed, and help still hadn’t come.
Instead of waiting for their death, it’d be much better to put up one last fight with all that they had. If the two could kill the Xuanwu of Slaughter together, they’d be able to escape from the hole under the pool.
Wei WuXian, “I agree as well. We should attack from the inside. But from what I’ve heard of your sect’s Chord Assassination technique, it wouldn’t be the most useful it can be if it’s inside the cramped environment inside the shell. And your leg injury still hasn’t healed yet. It probably wouldn’t be as put to good use as usual, would it?”
This was the truth, and Lan WangJi understood. Both of them understood that forcing themselves to do things that they weren’t able to do would be useless except for dragging others down.
Wei WuXian, “Listen to me.”
A small half of the Xuanwu’s shell was still above the surface of the water.
Its head, its tail, and all four of its limbs had shrunken inside. There was a large hole in the front, and five smaller holes lined up all around. It looked like an island or a small mountain, its body black and uneven, covered in moss and even long, dark green algae that hung down.
Without making a noise, carrying on his back a bundle of arrows and iron rods, Wei WuXian dove into the area before the head-hole of the Xuanwu of Slaughter as though he was a thin, silver fish.
The smaller half of the hole was submerged in the water of the pool, so Wei WuXian swum over along the flow of the water. After he passed through the hole, he flipped into the inside of the shell. Wei WuXian landed on both feet with a thud, as if he stepped into a thick layer of rotten mud mixed with water. The stench was so overwhelming that he almost cursed.
The stench was rancid though sickeningly saccharine. It reminded Wei WuXian of a fat dead rat that he had seen beside one of Yunmeng’s lakes. He pinched his nose, What a hell of a place… Good thing that I didn’t let Lan Zhan come in here. With such dislike towards even the water used to wash clothes, wouldn’t he start throwing up the second he smelled this? Even if he didn’t, he’d definitely pass out.
Gentle snores came from the Xuanwu of Slaughter. Wei WuXian walked while holding his breath, his feet sinking in deeper and deeper. After three steps, the sludge-like substance had already risen past his knees. Within the mud and the water, there seemed to be a few lumps as well. Wei WuXian bent down slightly and felt around. His hand suddenly came into contact with something fuzzy.
It seemed to be human hair.
Wei WuXian took his hand away. He knew that this was probably one of the people dragged inside by the Xuanwu of Slaughter. Feeling around some more, he found a boot. The half of a leg within the boot had already rotted to a point of being half-flesh and half-bone.
It seemed that the beast didn’t take to cleanliness at all. The leftovers that it either didn’t finish or couldn’t finish leaked out from between its fangs and into its shell. The more it ate, the more there were. Throughout the hundreds of years, it had piled into a thick layer. And, as of the moment, Wei WuXian was standing right amid the corpse sludge composed of broken limbs.
After crawling around for the past few days, he was already so grimy that it was painful to look at. Wei WuXian didn’t care at all that he’d become even filthier. He carelessly wiped his hands on his trousers and continued to walk.
The snores of the beast sounded louder and louder. The waves of air became heavier, and the corpse sludge under his feet became thicker. Finally, his hand came into contact with the beast’s rough skin. He felt around as he slowly walked forward, along the skin. As he had expected, scales covered the head and the neck, but beneath that was a thick, uneven surface. The deeper he went, the thinner and more delicate the skin became.
At this point, the sludge had already risen to Wei WuXian’s waist. Most of the corpses here hadn’t been finished yet, the bodies left remaining in larger pieces. It shouldn’t be called a corpse sludge anymore, but rather a corpse mound. Wei WuXian reached behind his back, preparing to take out the arrows and the rods, but suddenly found that the bundle of rods seemed to be stuck to something and couldn’t be removed.
He clenched the handles of the rods and finally pulled it out, using all of his strength. At the same time, the front of the rods took out something with it from within the mound, letting out a soft clang.
Wei WuXian froze at once.
A few moments had passed, and no noise came from around him. The beast hadn’t lashed out either. He finally let out a breath of relief, The rods seemed to be stuck to something. Judging from the sound that it made, it’s also made of iron? And it’s quite long. Let’s see if it can be useful. I’m short of something to use as weapon. It’d be great if it’s a high level spiritual sword!
He reached out and felt for the object. Its shape was long, though it was dull and covered in rust.
The second that he grabbed it, shrill screams sounded within Wei WuXian’s ears.
It was as if hundreds of thousands of people were wailing their lungs out in desperation right into his ears. Immediately, cold air travelled up his arm through his entire body. With a shiver, Wei WuXian pulled his hand away, What is this? Its energy of resentment is so strong!
Suddenly, his surroundings lit up. A light, orange glow casted out Wei WuXian’s shadow, illuminating a pitch-black sword made of iron in front of him. Slantedly, the sword pierced through where the heart of his shadow was.
This was the inside the shell of the Xuanwu of Slaughter—how could there be any light?
Wei WuXian spun around. As he had thought, a large pair of golden eyes was inches away from him.
He had just realized that the thundering snores had disappeared, while the orange glow was coming right out of the pair of Xuanwu eyes!
The Xuanwu of Slaughter flashed its criss-crossed fangs, an arrangement of black and yellow, and roared through its open mouth.
Wei WuXian was standing just between its fangs. Attacked face-front by the waves of the roar, his ears felt as though they were about to explode and even his entire body began to hurt. Watching as it it lunged toward him, Wei WuXian stuffed the bundle of iron rods into its mouth. Both the timing and position was just right. Not a second over or an inch under, it locked into the upper and lower jaws of the beast!
While the beast was unable to close its mouth, Wei WuXian stabbed an entire bundle of arrows into the most delicate part of its skin. Although the arrows were thin, Wei WuXian had tied five into one bundle and stuck it so deep into the beast’s flesh so that even the feather fletching had sunk in. It was as though they were a poisoned needle. Under the extreme pain, the Xuanwu forced its mouth shut so much that all of the iron rods between its fangs curved. The half-a-dozen straight rods were immediately pressed into the shape of a hook by its intense bite. Wei WuXian stuck a few more bundles of arrows into its soft skin. Ever since it was born, the beast had never been at so great of a disadvantage. It was mad with pain. Its snake-like body writhed as hard as it could within its shell and its head smashed around as well, causing the mound of corpses to churn with the force of a landslide. Wei WuXian was almost entirely submerged in the rancid limbs. The Xuanwu of Slaughter widened its eyes, magnifying the hideous yellow. Mouth opening, it seemed as though it wanted to swallow everything up. The corpse mound slid toward its mouth at the speed of a flood. Wei WuXian was struggling, swimming against the current, when he suddenly grabbed onto an iron sword. His heart sank. The piercing wails sounded within his ears again.
Wei WuXian’s body was already sucked into the mouth of the Xuanwu. Seeing that the beast was about to close its mouth, sword in hand, Wei WuXian used the same technique again and stuck it between the jaws of the beast.
The internal organs of hundred-year-old beasts like this one were usually capable of erosion. If one were to be swallowed, they’d melt into a wisp of smoke in an instant!
Wei WuXian grabbed firmly onto the sword. Like a pick, he was fixed to its mouth, unable to go either way. The Xuanwu of Slaughter slammed around for a while. It couldn’t swallow the pick no matter what, unable to close its mouth, but it didn’t want to loosen its mouth either. It finally shot out of its shell!
It was afraid of how Wei WuXian stung it while it was within its shell. As though it wanted to escape, it tried as hard as it could to squeeze its body out, so hard that the delicate flesh that had been hidden under its armor was revealed as well. And Lan WangJi had already positioned the chord before the hole of its head. He had been waiting since long ago. As soon as the Xuanwu rushed outside, he pulled the chord tight and strummed across it. The bowstring vibrated and cut into its flesh!
The beast could neither go in nor come out, suppressed by the two’s attacks. It was a deformed beast and not truly divine. It never had much intelligence to begin with. Under the pain, it had gone completely insane, waving its head and its tail as it rampaged within the dark water. It tumbled inside a large whirlpool, stirring up crashing waves. But, no matter what it did, one of the two stuck firmly to its mouth so that it couldn’t eat anything while the other used a chord to strangle its thin vital region, cutting into it inch by inch. As the cut deepened, its bleeding also worsened!
Lan WangJi pulled tightly on the chord, refusing to loosen up for even a split second. He held for six hours.
Six hours later was when the Xuanwu of Slaughter finally ceased to move.
The vital region of the beast had almost been parted with the rest of its body due to Lan WangJi’s chord. Having overexerted his strength, his own palms were also covered in blood and gashes. The titan of a shell floated above the water. The pool had already been dyed a purple shade of red visible to the naked eye. The odor of blood was so thick that it could be mistaken for a pond from purgatory.
With a plop, Lan WangJi leaped into water and swam toward its head. The Xuanwu’s eyes were wide open. Its pupils had already dimmed, yet its mouth still bit down tightly.
Lan WangJi, “Wei Ying!”
No sound came from within the beast’s mouth.
Lan WangJi reached out at once, grabbing the two rows of fangs and forcing them apart. Swimming in water without anything that he could use to support himself, he could only open them after straining for quite a while. Inside, he saw a black iron sword stuck within the mouth of the beast. Both the tip and the handle had pierced deep into its flesh. The blade had already been forced into a curvature.
Wei WuXian’s entire body was curled up in the shape of a shrimp. Head facing down, his hands still clenched onto the not-so-sharp blade of the sword. He had almost slid into the throat of the Xuanwu. Lan WangJi grabbed his lapel at once and pulled him out. As soon as the Xuanwu’s jaws loosened, the iron sword slipped into the water and sunk to the bottom.
Eyes tightly shut, Wei WuXian lay limply over Lan WangJi’s body, one arm around his shoulder. Holding his waist, Lan WangJi floated over the bloody water with him, “Wei Ying!”
His hands trembled slightly. Just as he was about to touch Wei WuXian’s cheek, Wei WuXian suddenly shivered and woke up, “What’s happening? What’s happening? Is it dead? Is it dead?!”
He flopped lightly, causing both of their bodies to sink deeper into the water. Lan WangJi’s arm tightened around his waist, “It is!”
Wei WuXian’s gaze was blank, as though he had trouble realizing what was going on. He only replied after thinking for a while, “It’s dead? It’s dead… Great! It’s dead. Earlier on it kept on screaming, screaming as it rolled around, and then I fainted. Oh right, the hole! The hole underwater. Quick, let’s go. Let’s get out through the hole.”
Lan WangJi sensed that his behavior was strange, “What is wrong?”
Wei WuXian was suddenly energetic, “Nothing! Let’s get out as soon as possible. There’s no time to lose.”
There was indeed no time to lose. Lan WangJi nodded, “I will take you.”
Wei WuXian, “There’s no need…”
Yet, Lan WangJi’s right arm was still wrapped like an iron belt around his waist, stating in an irrefutable tone, “Breathe in.”
Going underwater in such a daze was probably not the best idea. Wei WuXian didn’t like to force himself, either, and nodded. The two took in a deep breath and dove into the water.
A moment later, two splashes bursted from the purple-red water. The two slunk out again.
Wei WuXian spat out a mouthful of the bloody water and wiped his face, covering it with the purplish red. He looked even worse than before, “What’s wrong?! Why isn’t there a hole?!”
Jiang Cheng had indeed said that there was a hole in the bottom of the pool able to let half a dozen people pass through at once, and the other disciples did indeed already escape from the hole. Wei WuXian had originally thought that it couldn’t be found because it was blocked by the Xuanwu’s body, but the corpse of the Xuanwu was already in a different place, yet there was still no hole where its body used to be.
Water dripped down Lan WangJi’s wet hair. He didn’t answer. The two looked at each other. Both thought of a daunting possibility.
It was likely that… Under the intense pain, when the Xuanwu of Slaughter was madly waving its limbs, it either shook the underwater rocks or kicked into a certain place, coincidentally causing the only hole that they could escape from… to be blocked.
Wei WuXian struggled out of Lan WangJi’s arm. He plunged into the water. Lan WangJi followed. Yet, after searching for a long while, they still couldn’t find any holes. Not even one that could let a single person through.
Wei WuXian, “What do we do now?”
After a while of silence, Lan WangJi replied, “Let us go up first.”
Wei WuXian waved his hands, “… Let’s go up.”
Both were drained of all energy. They swam slowly toward the shore. When they rose out of the water, both were covered in a bloody shade of purple. Wei WuXian took off his clothes. Wringing them dry and flinging them around in the air, he couldn’t help but curse, “Are we being toyed with or what? I was thinking that if nobody came to help us, we wouldn’t be able to kill it even if we wanted to, and that was why I went for it. And now, we finally have it dead, and the son-of-a-bitch made the hole collapse. Fuck!”
Hearing the ‘fuck’, Lan WangJi’s brows twitched. He wanted to say something, but held it in.
Wei WuXian flung his clothes around as he cursed. Suddenly, his legs gave out. Lan WangJi lunged forward in time to catch him. Leaning against his hand, Wei WuXian spoke, “It’s fine, it’s fine. Used up all my energy. Oh, right, Lan Zhan, did you see that I was holding a sword when I was in its mouth? Where did the sword go?”
Lan WangJi, “It sank underwater. Is there anything about it?”
Wei WuXian, “It sank? Nevermind, then.”
When he was clutching onto the sword, he kept on hearing a deluge of screams beside his ears. His body felt cold and his head spun. The iron sword must’ve been something special. The Xuanwu of Slaughter had consumed at least five thousand people. When the people were dragged into its shell, body still intact, there had to be some that were still alive. The sword might have belonged to a cultivator who had been eaten. It had been hidden for at least four hundred years within the corpse mound of the shell. Tainted with the pain and resentment of countless humans, both dead and alive, it had heard their screams.
Wei WuXian had wanted to keep the sword and examine the iron properly. Now that it had sunk, however, and they were stuck here, unable to escape, it seemed appropriate to let the matter drop. If he mentioned it too much and Lan WangJi picked up on what he was getting at, they’d be at odds with each other all over again. Wei WuXian waved his hands, There really isn’t anything good about this, is there?
He continued to drag his legs forward. Lan WangJi followed behind him in silence. A few steps later, Wei WuXian’s legs gave out again.
And Lan WangJi caught him again. This time, he put one hand against his forehead. After contemplating for a few moments, he spoke, “Wei Ying, you… are so warm.”
Wei WuXian put his hand to his forehead as well, “Lan Zhan, you’re also really warm.”
Lan WangJi took his hand away, speaking in a tepid tone, “That is because your hand is cold.”
Wei WuXian, “I think I do feel a bit dizzy.”
About four to five days ago, he put all of the herbs in the perfume sachet onto Lan WangJi’s leg. He only wiped the brand mark on his chest a few times. In the past few days, he hadn’t rested well, and he had just been rummaging through the corpse mound and the pool water. His injury had finally worsened.
Wei WuXian had a fever.
After managing for a while, Wei WuXian felt dizzier and dizzier. He couldn’t walk any longer, so he decided to just sit down where he was, musing, “How could I get a fever so easily? I haven’t gotten a fever in years.”
Lan WangJi didn’t feel like expressing his opinion on the ‘so easily’ part of his words, “Lie down.”
Wei WuXian did as he was told. Lan WangJi took his hand and began to pass him spiritual energy.
Though he had been lying for a while, Wei WuXian soon sat up again. Lan WangJi told him, “Lie down properly.”
Wei WuXian drew his hand back, “You don’t need to give me any. You don’t have much left yourself.”
Lan WangJi grabbed his hand again and repeated, “Lie down properly.”
A few days ago, Lan WangJi was drained of energy and got both scared and teased by him. This time, it was Wei WuXian’s turn to be drained of energy for him to do whatever he wanted.
But, even when lying down, Wei WuXian didn’t like loneliness. Soon afterward, he began to complain, “It’s too hard, it’s too hard.”
Lan WangJi, “What do you want?”
Wei WuXian, “I want to lie somewhere else.”
Lan WangJi, “Where would you want to lie, at such a place?”
Wei WuXian, “Let me borrow your lap for a while, won’t you?”
Lan WangJi spoke with an expressionless face, “Stop fooling around.”
Wei WuXian, “I’m serious. My head is so dizzy. You’re not a girl; why can’t I borrow it for a bit?”
Lan WangJi, “Even if I am not a girl, you cannot just lie on it.”
Seeing that he began to frown, Wei WuXian responded, “I’m not fooling around. You’re the one who should stop fooling around. I refuse to accept this. Lan Zhan, tell me, why?”
Lan WangJi, “What why?”
Wei WuXian managed to flip around and lay stomach down on the ground, “Of all the other people, there isn’t anyone who doesn’t secretly like me despite saying that I’m annoying. Why is it that, whenever it’s you, you never give me any good looks? We count as having lived through death with each other, don’t we? You don’t even want to lend your lap for me to lie on and you’re lecturing me again. Are you an old man or what?”
Lan WangJi replied with a thin voice, “You are delirious.”
Perhaps he was indeed delirious. Not long after, Wei WuXian had fallen asleep.
When he was sleeping, he felt that his lying position wasn’t too bad. It seemed that he really was lying on someone’s lap. A cold hand rested over his forehead. It felt quite comfortable. Happily, he rolled around as much as he wanted to, and there wasn’t anybody who scolded him. When he rolled onto the ground, his head was even gently stroked before he was picked up and put onto the lap again.
But, when he woke up, he was still lying on the ground. What had replaced the lap was a pile of leaves behind his head, which felt somewhat better than before. Lan WangJi was sitting quite a distance away from him. A fire had been started. The firelight reflected against his cheeks as though he was jade, warm and gentle.
Wei WuXian thought to himself, Of course it was a dream.
The path that the two had wanted to escape through was severed. Stuck within the cave, they had to wait for the YunmengJiang Sect to rescue them, and spent two more days. Within the two days, Wei WuXian had always been under a low fever, sleeping before waking before sleeping again. It all depended on Lan WangJi to pass him spiritual energy that he could manage to maintain his current condition and ensure that it didn’t worsen.
Wei WuXian, “Ugh. It’s so boring.”
Wei WuXian, “It really is so boring.”
Wei WuXian, “It’s too quiet.”
Wei WuXian, “Ahhh.”
Wei WuXian, “I’m hungry. Lan Zhan, why don’t you get up and make me something? Make me some of that tortoise meat.”
Wei WuXian, “Nevermind, I’d rather not. The meat of man-eating beasts like this one is definitely rotten. You shouldn’t move after all.”
Wei WuXian, “Why are you like this, Lan Zhan? You’re so boring. Your mouth is closed and your eyes are closed; you don’t talk to me and you don’t look at me. Are you in Zen or are you a monk or something? Right, your founder really was a monk. I forgot.”
Lan WangJi, “Be quiet. You are still fevered. Do not talk. Conserve your strength.”
Wei WuXian, “You finally responded to me. How many days have we been waiting for? Why hasn’t anyone come to rescue us yet?”
Lan WangJi, “It has not even been one day.”
Wei WuXian covered his face, “Why is it so difficult? It must be because I’m with you. Jiang Cheng should’ve been the one who stayed. Even arguing with him would be more interesting than being like this with you. Jiang Cheng! Where the hell are you?! It’s almost been seven days!!!”
Lan WangJi stabbed a branch into the fire, somehow managing to give it the air of a sword. Spreading everywhere, the sparks danced through the air. He spoke coldly, “Rest.”
Wei WuXian curled up into a shrimp again, facing him, “Are you serious? I just woke up and you’re telling me to rest. Do you really hate seeing the awake version of me so much?”
Taking the branch away, Lan WangJi replied calmly, “You are thinking too much.”
Wei WuXian, Absolutely nothing works on him. He’s not at all as interesting as how he was a few days ago, face as dark as the bottom of a pan, speaking with actual tone, even biting others when he was mad. But one shouldn’t hope to see such a Lan Zhan so easily. I probably wouldn’t be able to see it again until the end of my life.
He spoke, “I’m so bored. Lan Zhan, let’s chat. You can start.”
Lan WangJi, “When did you usually leep?”
Wei WuXian, “Your start is so boring. It’s so dry that it reaaally makes me not want to continue. But I’m still gonna give you some face and continue. Let me tell you—in Lotus Pier, I’ve never slept before one in the morning. I often stay up all night.”
Lan WangJi, “Improper conduct. A bad habit.”
Wei WuXian, “You think that everyone is like your sect’s people?”
Lan WangJi, “It needs to stop.”
Wei WuXian covered his ears, “I’m sick. I’m feverish, Brother, can’t you say something nicer? And make poor, poor me feel better?”
Nothing came out of Lan WangJi’s closed mouth. Wei WuXian, “You don’t know what to say? Fine, I should’ve known. Then, if you don’t know what to say, can you sing? How about you sing a song?”
It had originally be an offhand remark. He was chatting with Lan WangJi to pass the time and didn’t at all expect him to agree. Yet, after a few moments of silence, a low yet mild voice echoed softly through the hollow cave.
Lan WangJi really did begin to sing.
Wei WuXian closed his eyes, turned around, and spread out his limbs, “It sounds nice.”
He asked, “What’s it called?”
Lan WangJi seemed to murmur something. Wei WuXian opened his eyes, “What was it called again?”
Undergarments: Just to reiterate, the undergarments mentioned here are not actual modern-day underwear. It’s like a sleeping robe that one wears under the outer robe. They did not just share underwear (although they probably do, sometime in the future)>
The water used to wash clothes: This stems from the Chinese proverb of ‘not touching spring water’, which means that one either cares about being clean too much or is affluent enough to not touch the cold, early-spring water when washing clothes.
Brother: ‘Second Brother Lan’ is indeed too much of a turn-off.