Chapter 56 Poisons—Part One
He still didn’t hear clearly what the name was. Blood rushed up to his face. Both his head and the joints of his limbs ached from the heat. The ringing noise within his ears went on and on.
When he woke up again, as Wei WuXian opened his eyes, what he saw was neither the black ceiling of the underground cave nor Lan WangJi’s pale yet handsome face, but rather a wooden board. Drawn on the board was a funny series of kissing heads.
These were the sketches that he drew on his own bed at Lotus Pier.
Wei WuXian was lying on his own bed. Jiang YanLi was reading a book, her head tilted downward. Seeing that he woke up, her mild brows immediately lifted, laying her book down, “A-Xian!”
Wei WuXian, “Shijie!”
He managed to get up from his bed. His limbs stopped burning, but they still felt weak. His throat was a bit dry as well. Wei WuXian asked, “I’m back? When did I come out of the cave? Did Uncle Jiang take people to rescue me? Where’s Lan Zhan? Where’s Jiang Cheng?”
The wooden door opened. Jiang Cheng came in with a white porcelain jar hanging from his hand, his voice harsh, “What are you shouting for?”
After he spoke, he turned to Jiang YanLi, “Sister, the soup that you boiled. I brought it over.”
Jiang YanLi took the jar over and ladled the contents inside of it into a bowl. Wei WuXian, “Jiang Cheng, you bastard, come over here!”
Jiang Cheng, “Why would you want me to come over? You wanna kneel down and thank me?”
Wei WuXian, “You got here after an entire seven days—did you want to kill me?!”
Jiang Cheng, “You’ve been killed? Then who’s talking to me right now?”
Wei WuXian, “I’m sure it only takes five days for you to go from Dusk-Creek Mountain to Yunmeng!”
Jiang Cheng, “Are you stupid? You only counted the time to return and not the time to go there? Let alone the fact that after I got there I had to lead people and search through the entire mountain for the old banyan tree, then dig open the hole that got blocked up by Wen Chao and his people, and rescue you within seven days. Where’s your gratitude?!”
Thinking about it, Wei WuXian realized that he really did forget to count the time needed to get there. He was rendered speechless, “It seems that this really was the case. But why didn’t Lan Zhan remind me?”
Jiang Cheng, “He’s annoyed by just the sight of you, and you expect him to catch everything you said?”
Wei WuXian, “You have a point!”
Jiang YanLi had finished with the soup and passed it into his hands. Within the soup were lotus roots and ribs chopped into pieces, both a fleshy pink, surface having already been boiled soft. A rich aroma rose out of the piping hot soup. Wei WuXian hadn’t eaten anything for days inside of the cave. He couldn’t eat anything too solid too soon, so this was just right. After thanking his shijie, he immediately began to eat, hugging the bowl to him, “Where’s Lan Zhan? He’s also been saved, hasn’t he? Is he here? Or did he go back to his sect in Gusu?”
Jiang Cheng, “What nonsense. It’s not like he’s from our sect, so why’d he come here? Of course he went back to Gusu.”
Wei WuXian, “He went back alone? Over in Gusu, his sect…”
Before he could finish, Jiang FengMian stepped inside. Wei WuXian put down the bowl, “Uncle Jiang!”
Jiang FengMian, “Sitting is fine.”
Jiang YanLi passed a handkerchief for Wei WuXian to wipe his mouth, “Is it good?”
Wei WuXian didn’t take the handkerchief. Instead, he pouted his mouth with exaggeration, “Yes!”
Jiang Cheng, “Don’t you have hands yourself?!”
With a smile, Jiang YanLi wiped Wei WuXian’s mouth and chin, and walked happily out with the bowl in her hands. Jiang FengMian sat down where she had been sitting. Glancing at the porcelain jar, he seemed as if he wanted to taste it as well, but the bowl had already been taken away by Jiang YanLi.
Jiang Cheng, “Father, are the Wen Sect’s people still not returning the swords?”
Jiang FengMian tore away his gaze, “They have been celebrating for the past few days.”
Wei WuXian, “Celebrating what?”
Jiang FengMian, “That Wen Chao had single-handedly killed the Xuanwu of Slaughter.”
Hearing this, Wei WuXian almost rolled off his bed, “The Wen Sect killed it?!”
Jiang Cheng sneered, “Or what? Did you think that they’d say you killed it?”
Wei WuXian, “Those Wen dogs are talking nonsense, they have no face. Lan Zhan was clearly the one who killed it.”
Jiang FengMian gave him a smile, “Really? What a coincidence. The second young master of the Lan Sect told me that you were the one who killed it. So who was it, really?”
Wei WuXian, “I guess both of us did something. But he was the main one. I only went into the beast’s shell and chased it out. Lan Zhan was waiting for it alone outside. It only died after it dragged on for six entire hours.”
He described to Jiang Cheng and his father the things that had happened during the past few days. Jiang Cheng’s expression was complicated after he had finished listening. He only spoke a while later, “It’s pretty much the same as what Lan WangJi said. So it seems that both of you killed it together. What’s yours is yours. Why would you give him all the credit?”
Wei WuXian, “I didn’t. I just feel that, compared to him, I really didn’t do much.”
Jiang FengMian nodded, “Well done.”
He was able to kill a four-hundred-year-old beast at the mere age of seventeen. It was much more than a ‘well done’.
Jiang Cheng, “Congratulations.”
The tone of his congratulations sounded quite strange. Seeing how he folded his hands and raised his brows, Wei WuXian knew that those sour feelings were at him again. Jiang Cheng, right now, must be making a fuss in silence, defiantly asking himself why he wasn’t the one who had stayed in the cave to kill the beast. If it had been him, he could definitely also do this and do that.
Wei WuXian laughed, “What a pity that you weren’t there as well. Or else, you’d be able to share some of that credit as well. You’d also be able to chat with me and chase the boredom away. Good Heavens, sitting face-to-face with Lan Zhan these days almost bored me to death.”
Jiang Cheng, “It served you right to be bored to death. You shouldn’t have played the hero and you shouldn’t have cared for such a hell of a thing. If in the beginning you didn’t…”
Suddenly, Jiang FengMian spoke, “Jiang Cheng.”
Jiang Cheng paused, knowing that he had said too much. He was quiet at once.
Jiang FengMian didn’t look as if he was blaming him of anything, but his expression had turned from calm to more solemn, “Do you know in which ways what you just said is not appropriate?”
Jiang Cheng’s head hung low, “Yes.”
Wei WuXian, “He’s just angry and speaking without care.”
Seeing how Jiang Cheng’s mouth and heart were still at odds, how he still felt defiant, Jiang FengMian shook his head, “A-Cheng, there are some things that can’t be said even if you’re angry. If you said them, it means that you still don’t understand the motto of the Jiang Sect, that you still don’t…”
The harsh voice of a woman came from outside the door, “Yes, he doesn’t understand, but what does it matter, as long as Wei Ying understands?!”
Like a purple bolt of lightning, Madam Yu swept inside, bringing in with her a cold breeze. She was standing five steps away from Wei WuXian’s bed, brows raised, “‘To attempt at the impossible’ is exactly how he is, isn’t it? Fooling around even though he knew that it’d bring trouble to his sect?!”
Jiang FengMian, “My lady, what are you doing here?”
Madam Yu, “What am I doing here? What a joke that I am asked of such a thing! Sect Leader Jiang, do you still remember that I’m also the leader of Lotus Pier? Do you still remember that every inch of the earth here is my territory? Do you still remember, between the one lying there and the one standing here, which one is your son?”
Such questions he had heard countless times throughout the years. Jiang FengMian answered, “Of course I do.”
Madam Yu laughed bitterly, “You do remember, but there’s no use if you simply remember. Wei Ying, he really can’t take it unless he stirs up some trouble, can he? If I had known, I would’ve made him stay in Lotus Pier properly and not go outside. Could Wen Chao really have dared to do anything to the two young masters of the GusuLan Sect and the LanlingJin Sect? Even if he did, it’d mean that they ran out of luck. Since when was it your turn to play the hero?”
In front of Jiang FengMian, Wei WuXian had to give the madam some face. He didn’t protest at all, though he thought to himself, He couldn’t have dared to do anything to them? That’s not for certain.
Madam Yu, “I’m saying this right now. You can just wait. One day, he’ll definitely get our sect into some big trouble!”
Jiang FengMian stood up, “Let’s talk when we get back.”
Madam Yu, “Talk about what? Get back to where? I’ll be talking about it right here. I have nothing to be ashamed of, anyways! Jiang Cheng, come over here.”
Jiang Cheng was stuck between his father and his mother. After a moment of hesitation, he moved to his mother’s side. Holding his shoulders, Madam Yu pushed him forward for Jiang FengMian to see, “Sect Leader Jiang, it seems that some things I have to say. Look carefully—this, is your own son, the future head of Lotus Pier. Even if you frown upon him just because I was the one who bore him, his surname is still Jiang! … I don’t believe for one second that you haven’t heard of how the outside people gossips, that Sect Leader Jiang has still not moved on from a certain Sanren though so many years have passed, regarding the son of his old friend as a son of his own; they’re speculating if Wei Ying is your…”
Jiang FengMian shouted, “Yu ZiYuan!”
Madam Yu shouted as well, “Jiang FengMian! Do you think that anything will change just because you raised your voice?! Do you think that I don’t know you?!”
The two debated the issue outside. On the way, Madam Yu’s angered voice was louder and louder. Jiang FengMian argued as well, suppressing his rage. Jiang Cheng stood blankly where he was. A while later, he glanced at Wei WuXian, and suddenly turned to leave as well.
Wei WuXian, “Jiang Cheng!”
Jiang Cheng gave no answer. With a few steps, he had already turned the corner of the hallway. Wei WuXian could only roll out of bed and chase over, dragging with him his stiff, sore body, “Jiang Cheng! Jiang Cheng!”
Jiang Cheng walked forward without a care for anything else. Wei WuXian was so mad that he threw himself over and clenched his neck, “Answer me if you heard me! Are you looking for a fight?!”
Jiang Cheng spat, “Go back to your bed and lie down properly!”
Wei WuXian, “I can’t do that, we need to get things straight! You really mustn’t listen to those messed-up nonsense.”
Jiang Cheng spoke coldly, “What messed-up nonsense?”
Wei WuXian, “Those things dirty your mouth even if you just say them. Both of my parents are real people in this world. I don’t want others assigning me to other households!”
Arm around Jiang Cheng’s shoulder, he managed to drag him to the wooden fences on the other side of the hallway. They sat down together, “Let’s be honest, don’t hide things so sulkily in your heart. You’re Uncle Jiang’s own son, the future leader of the Jiang Sect. Of course Uncle Jiang would be stricter towards you.”
Jiang Cheng gave him a sideway glance.
Wei WuXian continued, “But I’m different. I’m the son of someone else. Both of my parents are good friends of Uncle Jiang. Of course he’d cut me more slack. Such a reason you do understand, don’t you?”
Jiang Cheng snorted, “He’s not strict towards me, he just doesn’t like me.”
Wei WuXian, “How can there be anyone who doesn’t like his own son? Stop thinking such things! Those who have loose mouths I’ll beat them up whenever I see them, beat them up so hard that their mothers wouldn’t even be able to recognize them.”
Jiang Cheng, “There is, though. He doesn’t like my mom, and so he doesn’t like me either.”
This one really was difficult to refute.
The entirety of the cultivation world knew that third lady Yu had cultivated together with Jiang FengMian when they were young. Jiang FengMian’s character was gentle, yet Yu ZiYuan’s personality was harsh. The two didn’t share too many interactions. Thus, although their backgrounds matched, nobody associated the two as a pair. Later, ZangSe SanRen came from the mountains, passed by Yunmeng, and happened to become friends with Jiang FengMian. They had even night-hunted together on multiple occasions. Both thought highly of each other. People supposed that it was very likely for ZangSe SanRen to become the next mistress of Lotus Pier.
However, soon afterward, the MeishanYu Sect proposed an alliance through marriage to the YunmengJiang Sect.
The leader of the Jiang Sect back then was quite interested, but Jiang FengMian had no such intentions. He didn’t like Yu ZiYuan’s conduct and felt that the two wouldn’t be an appropriate match. He had politely refused the offer a handful of times. However, the MeishanYu Sect set about multiple factors, putting pressure on Jiang FengMian, who was at the time still fairly young and had nothing to lean on. Along with the fact that, not long later, ZangSe SanRen had become cultivation partners with the most loyal servant at Jiang FengMian’s side, Wei ChangZe, and rode off into the sunset, roaming around the world, Jiang FengMian finally gave up.
Although Jiang and Yu were married, they had ever since been a grudging couple. They had always been living apart and held the most disagreeable of conversations. Aside from the strengthening of their sect’s powers, nobody knew what other benefits they had attained.
The founder of the YunmengJiang Sect, Jiang Chi, was born a rogue cultivator. The ways of the sect were honest and unrestrained. Madam Yu’s manners were the exact opposite. And, both Jiang Cheng’s looks and personality took after his mother. He hadn’t ever been to Jiang FengMian’s liking. Since birth, he taught him in many ways, yet he still couldn’t change, which was why Jiang FengMian had always seemed as though he didn’t favor him too much.
Jiang Cheng pulled Wei WuXian’s hand away and stood up, letting out his anger, “I know! I know that I don’t have the personality he likes, that I’m not the heir he wants. He thinks that I don’t deserve to be Sect Leader, that I don’t understand the motto of the Jiang Sect, that I don’t have the air of the Jiang Sect in me at all! Those are all true!”
He raised his voice, “You killed the Xuanwu of Slaughter together with Lan WangJi, bathing in blood! How great is that?! But what about me?!”
He punched his fist into a pillar in the hall, clenching his teeth, “… I have also been running around for days, completely exhausted, with not one second of rest!”
Wei WuXian, “So what if there’s the motto?! Do you have to follow it just because it’s a motto? Look at the rules of the GusuLan Sect—there are over three thousand. If people followed every single one of them, would they even be alive at this point?”
He hopped off the fence, “And, who said that being a sect leader means that you have to go along with the style of the sect? There have been so many sect leaders in the YunmengJiang Sect, I don’t believe at all that everyone was the same. Even the GusuLan Sect had an outlier like Lan Yi, but who would deny her position and her abilities? When talking about the famous cultivators of the Lan Sect, who could skip over her? Who could skip over her Chord Assassination technique?”
Jiang Cheng was silent, as though he had finally become calmer. Wei WuXian put his hand on his shoulder again, “In the future, you’ll be the sect leader, and I’ll be your subordinate, like your father and my father. So what if the GusuLan Sect has its Two Jades? The Yunmeng Jiang Sect will have its Two Prides! So, shut up. Who said that you don’t deserve to be the sect leader? Nobody can say this, even you can’t either. If you do you’re looking for a beating.”
Jiang Cheng snorted, “You see how you are right now? Who can you beat up?”
As he spoke he slapped right at the middle of Wei WuXian’s chest. Although medicine and bandages had already been applied to the branded wound, being slapped out of the blue still brought immense pain. Wei WuXian roared, “Jiang Cheng!!! Come to your death!!!”
Jiang Cheng ducked from his strike and shouted, “You’re hurting so much now, but why did you play the hero back then?! Serves you right! Teaches you your lesson!”
Wei WuXian, “Was I playing the hero?! I had no other choice either, I was moving faster than I could think! Stop running, I’ll let you off this once. I need to ask you something! … I had a perfume sachet somewhere around my waist. It was empty. Did you see it?”
Jiang Cheng, “The one that MianMian gave you? I didn’t.”
Wei WuXian exclaimed his regret, “I’ll find her for another one later.”
Jiang Cheng frowned, “You’re at it again. You don’t really like her, do you? The girl does look fine, but it’s obvious that she doesn’t have much background. Maybe she isn’t even a disciple. She seems like the daughter of a servant.”
Wei WuXian, “What’s wrong with servants? I’m also the son of a servant, aren’t I?”
Jiang Cheng, “How can you compare to her? Whose servant is like you, having your master peel lotus seeds for you and boil you soup. I didn’t even get to have some!”
Wei WuXian, “If you want some just ask Shijie to cook you more. Right, we were talking about Lan Zhan. Did Lan Zhan not leave a message for me? Has his brother been found? How’s the situation at his sect?”
Jiang Cheng, “You expected him to leave you a message? You’re lucky that he didn’t leave you with a stab. He went back. Lan XiChen hasn’t been found yet. Lan QiRen is exhausted from working.”
Wei WuXian, “What about the Lan Sect’s leader? How is he?”
Jiang Cheng, “He passed away.”