Chapter 63: Tenderness—Part One
Translated by K of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Wei WuXian suddenly murmured, “… Lan Zhan.”
He reached out and grabbed one of Lan WangJi’s sleeves. Lan WangJi had always been beside him. He immediately bent down and whispered, “I am here.”
Wei WuXian hadn’t woken up yet. His eyes were still tightly shut, yet his hand didn’t let go either. He seemed to be dreaming, muttering, “… Don’t… Don’t be angry…”
Lan WangJi seemed somewhat surprised. His voice was gentle, “I am not angry.”
Wei WuXian, “… Oh.”
Hearing this, as though he finally felt assured, his fingers loosened.
Lan WangJi sat beside Wei WuXian for a while. Seeing that he was motionless again, he was about to stand up when Wei WuXian grabbed him with his other hand, hugging his arm and refusing to let go. He shouted, “I’ll go with you, quick, take me back to your sect!”
Lan WangJi widened his eyes.
After he shouted, Wei WuXian seemed to have shouted himself awake. His long lashes trembled before he slowly opened his eyes. After his sight finally went from blurred to clear, he suddenly realized that both of his hands were wrapped around Lan WangJi as though he was grasping a straw, clutching a floating piece of wood within water.
He immediately let go, almost wanting to roll away. His movement was so large that it hurt the wound at his stomach. He exclaimed an ‘ah’ as he scrunched his brows, finally remembering that he was still injured. Amid the stars before his eyes, Jing Ling, Jiang Cheng, Jiang YanLi, Jiang FengMian, Madam Yu… Many faces spun around in a large circle.
Lan WangJi held him down, “The wound at your stomach?”
Wei WuXian, “The wound? It’s fine, it doesn’t hurt…”
After Lan WangJi settled him down, he lifted his clothes. Wei WuXian’s stomach had been bandaged properly already. After the bandages had been peeled away, he could see that the wound had healed. On his legs, the curse mark had disappeared as well.
Wei WuXian, “How long have I been resting for?”
Only having ensured that his injuries were indeed fine did Lan WangJi finally let him go, “Four days.”
Jin Ling’s sword stabbed right through. The wound hadn’t been shallow at all. How it healed within four days without even leaving a scar behind meant that high level medicine of the GusuLan Sect had to have been necessary. Wei WuXian thanked him, mocking himself along the way, “I’ve reincarnated but somehow I’ve become even weaker. I couldn’t keep going after just a single stab.”
Lan WangJi’s voice was tepid, “Nobody would be able to keep going after a stab through the body.”
Wei WuXian, “That’s not true. If I was in the body from my past life, even if half of my intestines were dangling out, I’d be able to stick them back in and continue fighting.”
Seeing that right after he woke up he began to speak nonsense again, Lan WangJi shook his head and turned away. Wei WuXian thought that he was going to leave. He hurried, “Lan Zhan, Lan Zhan! Don’t go. I was talking nonsense, my fault, but don’t ignore me.”
Lan WangJi, “Even you are scared of others ignoring you?”
Wei WuXian, “I am, I am.”
He hadn’t experienced the feeling of having somebody at his side when he had gotten hurt and woke up for a long time.
Two swords were worn at Lan WangJi’s waist. He took off Suibian and passed it to him, “Your sword.”
Seeing the sword, Wei WuXian first hesitated. He quickly replied, “Thank you.”
Holding the hilt, he slowly pulled it out. A pair of eyes were reflected against the snow-white blade. Wei WuXian stared at the pair of eyes for a while before he put Suibian back into its sheath again, “It really did seal itself?”
Lan WangJi grabbed the hilt of Suibian as well. He pulled out, but it didn’t move at all. Wei WuXian sighed. He patted the body of the sword, I knew that Jin GuangYao didn’t dare make things up without any basis… So it really did seal itself. I just happened to have run into something amazing that only happens once in ten thousand years. It’s all over now. The evidence is ironclad. Whoever pulled it out had to be Wei WuXian, no exceptions. I can’t deny it even if I want to.
He looked around. It was a clean room. The light was dim, with only a paper lantern at one corner. Wei WuXian asked, “Where is this?”
Lan WangJi, “The Cloud Recesses.”
Wei WuXian, “You took me back to the Cloud Recesses? What if your brother finds out?”
Someone spoke, “I have found out already.”
The person walked out from behind the screen. With white clothes and a forehead ribbon, his face was like jade though his expression was solemn.
Having rested in the Cloud Recesses without having been taken away by the LanlingJin Sect’s people, it was clear that Lan XiChen wasn’t any threat to them. And, along with the fact that Lan WangJi was right by his side, Wei WuXian wasn’t on his guard at all. He suddenly recalled something and asked, “Where’s ChiFeng-Zun’s body?”
Lan XiChen, “The many sect’s have already seen with their own eyes Brother’s body. It is being kept by HuaiSang as of the moment. I have sent those I trust to watch over it as well.”
Wei WuXian felt, to an extent, relieved. He asked again, “Jin GuangYao’s reaction?”
Lan WangJi, “Flawless.”
Wei WuXian had known that Jin GuangYao would definitely perfect his act. It’d be fine as long as it was confirmed that he couldn’t have got rid of the corpse. However, Lan XiChen spoke slowly, “He said that he would definitely get to the bottom of the matter and give everyone an explanation. Now that Young Master Wei is awake, then, WangJi, is it not time for you to give me an explanation as well?”
Lan WangJi stood up, “Brother.”
Lan XiChen let out a long sigh, “WangJi, what do you want me to say to you?”
Lan WangJi, “Brother, ChiFen-Zun’s head is indeed in Jin GuangYao’s hands.”
Lan XiChen, “You saw with your own eyes?”
Lan WangJi, “He saw with his own eyes.”
Lan XiChen, “You believe in him?”
Lan WangJi, “I do.”
He answered without any hesitation. Wei WuXian felt his chest warm up. Lan XiChen continued, “What about Jin GuangYao?”
Lan WangJi, “Not to be believed.”
Lan XiChen chuckled, “WangJi, then how do you judge whether someone should be believed or not?”
He looked at Wei WuXian, “You trust Young Master Wei, while I trust Jin GuangYao. The fact that Brother’s head is in his hands, neither of us have seen it with our own eyes. We only believe in what another person says based on how much we know about them.”
“You think that you know about Wei WuXian, so you trust him; I think that I know about Jin GuangYao, so I trust him as well. You believe in your judgement, then am I not allowed to believe in my judgement?”
Wei WuXian feared that the brothers would begin an argument over this, “Sect Leader Lan!”
It wasn’t that he couldn’t understand Lan XiChen. Watching Jin GuangYao from the perspective of Nie MingJue, he had seen all of his craft and his ambition. However, if Jin GuangYao had always shown Lan XiChen his disguise, there was no reason for Lan XiChen not to believe in his sworn brother and instead one of the most infamous people.
Lan XiChen nodded, “Young Master Wei, no need to worry. Before the truth is entirely revealed, I will not be partial to either side or reveal your whereabouts. Or else, I would not have allowed WangJi to take you to my Hanshi or helped with your injuries.”
Wei WuXian, “Sect Leader Lan, I’m grateful that you gave me this opportunity. The fact that ChiFeng-Zun’s head is inside of Jin GuangYao’s secret chamber is nothing but true. Not only have I seen it, I’ve seen some other things due to having been affected by its energy of resentment. Maybe this could offer some proof?”
Lan XiChen replied calmly, “Young Master Wei, perhaps you have seen some things indeed. However, you cannot prove that you saw those things within the secret chamber of Koi Tower.”
Wei WuXian, “Hm. That’s true. Then how about something else? The direct cause of ChiFeng-Zun’s death was a qi deviation, but, Sect Leader Lan, don’t you think that the timing is a bit too much of a coincidence? The doings of the sword spirit might be one of the reasons, but have you ever thought that there might be another cause to it?”
Lan XiChen, “What do you think the cause is?”
Wei WuXian, “The Song of Clarity.”
Lan XiChen, “Young Master Wei, did you know that his Song of Clarity had been taught by me personally?”
Wei WuXian, “Then, Sect Leader Lan, could you please listen if there’s anything strange with the song?”
His flute was right by the bed. Wei WuXian held it up and began to play after a few moments of thought. After the song was finished, he spoke, “Sect Leader Lan, this song really is the one you taught Jin GuangYao?”
Lan XiChen, “It is.”
Wei WuXian was somewhat surprised, but he kept his composure, “What is the name of the song?”
Lan XiChen, “The song is named Cleansing. It is capable of clearing the heart and steadying the mind.”
Wei WuXian, “Cleansing. I’ve heard of many of the cultivational world’s famous compositions. Why don’t I have any memory of either its name or its melody?”
Lan WangJi, “The song is obscure. It is difficult as well.”
Lan XiChen, “Precisely.”
Wei WuXian, “Did Jin GuangYao choose this piece himself?”
Lan XiChen, “That is correct.”
Wei WuXian, “Is it really that difficult? Then why did Jin GuangYao choose this piece instead of something easier?”
Lan XiChen, “Because I have told him that although Cleansing is difficult to master, its effects are excellent. The song is indeed difficult. Young Master Wei, you played one of its sections wrong as well, did you not?”
Hearing this, Wei WuXian felt something click inside of him, “I played it wrong?”
Lan WangJi, “One of its sections is wrong.”
Wei WuXian grinned, “No, no. It’s not that I was wrong. Jin GuangYao is the one who was wrong! When the resentful energy attacked me, this really was how he played it. I can promise that I repeated this song without any mistake at all.”
Lan XiChen seemed to be surprised, “Then he learned it wrong? That… would be impossible.”
Wei WuXian, “That would indeed be impossible. LianFang-Zun is that clever. His memory is uncommonly good, how could he remember the melody wrong? It’s likely that it was on purpose. I’ll play it again. Sect Leader Lan, HanGuang-Jun, this time, please listen carefully to the section that I ‘played wrong’.”
He did play it again. Near the end of the second section, Lan WangJi spoke, “Stop.”
Lan WangJi, “It is the section that has just passed.”
Wei WuXian withdrew the flute from his lips, “It really is this section? But I don’t find this section different at all.”
Lan XiChen, “It does not sound different indeed. However, it definitely is not part of Cleansing.”
If it was a normal mistake, it wouldn’t blend so seamlessly into the other sections of the original song. This melody had to have been purposely polished before it was put in here. And this unfamiliar melody, not part of Cleansing but mixed into it, was likely the key to Nie MingJue’s death.
After a while of thought, Lan XiChen spoke, “You two can follow me.”
As they went out of the house, Wei WuXian was somewhat surprised.
It was a secluded little cottage within some hidden corner of the Cloud Recesses. The Lan Sect’s residence was inside of the mountains. In its bounds, pines grew endlessly. Most of the plants were trees and grasses. It wasn’t that there were no flowers, but that the flowers were mostly pure, elegant varieties like magnolia, gardenia, and white chrysanthemum, and even then only as rare, decorative glimpses. Yet, the area before this house was filled with purple gentians. The buds were small while the color was brilliant, gaining the love of whoever passed. Under the light, it seemed to glow softly, as beautiful as a dream, an illusion.
Wei WuXian knew that this place was definitely different from the rest. However, he only had time to have an overall glance at it. It was already past nine. Most of the people within the Cloud Recesses had rested long ago. It was extremely quiet. Not a single person passed their way as Lan XiChen led them to the Library Pavilion.
The Cloud Recesses had once been burnt down by a fire. The Library Pavilion wasn’t the Library Pavilion from back then. However, after it had been rebuilt, the interior setup was no different from the previous one. They had even planted another magnolia tree outside of the the pavilion. After the three walked inside, Wei WuXian suspected, “Sect Leader Lan, would we be able to find the source of the melody here?”
Lan XiChen, “Not here.”
He walked before a row of books, lowered himself, and flipped over one of the mats on the ground before he took off a piece of wooden board, “We would be able to here.”
Below the wooden board was a secret door.
Lan WangJi, “The room of forbidden books.”
Under the door was a flight of stairs over fifty steps low. The three walked down one by one. What came into Wei WuXian’s eyes was a wide, dry underground room made of stone. The sound of footsteps echoed emptily. Rows and rows of bookshelves stood within the room. Books sparsely rested along the shelves. They were covered in dust, as though nobody had flipped through them in a long time.
Lan XiChen led them to one of the bookshelves, “This section is all books of strange songs.”
There was a desk in the room and only one paper lamp on the desk. Lan WangJi took from the shelves a writing brush and paper that hadn’t been used in years. He wrote down by memory three copies of the melody’s score. The three of them sat around the desk and got to work. Each was responsible for a few dozens of books. They compared the melody to scores copied down onto the books, book by book, page by page, searching for parts that matched.
However, four hours had passed, and none of the three found a score that was the same as the melody. This meant that they didn’t find its source.
Wei WuXian scanned the scores as quick as he could, thinking to himself, Maybe even the song section of the Lan Sect’s room of forbidden books don’t have the melody? But that’s impossible. If even the Lan Sect didn’t collect it, other places wouldn’t have either. Would it be that Jin GuangYao created such a remarkable song himself? If so, then it’d be a pain. The only way to verify that something is wrong with the song would be to get someone to listen to this song for months to experiment. But even though he’s clever, he never had a solid foundation. He couldn’t be so clever as to be able to create…
Wei WuXian stared for quite a while at the tightly-packed characters. His eyes felt somewhat tired. He still had a few books left, so he decided to look at them sometime afterward. Lan WangJi had already finished the stack that he was responsible for. In silence, he took over the books that Wei WuXian left and continued to flip through. Lan XiChen lifted his eyes. Watching the scene, he seemed to stop himself from saying something.
Suddenly, Lan WangJi spoke, “This one.”
He passed over the book in his hands. Wei WuXian was immediately more energized. Earnestly, he looked at the pages that Lan WangJi had opened to, comparing them to the score in his hand, “It’s not the same at all?”
Lan WangJi stood up and sat beside him, pointing for him to see, “Look at these two pages.”
Their heads pressed close together, and Lan WangJi’s voice was right by his ear, low and magnetic. Wei WuXian’s hand trembled lightly. The book had almost fallen off. He finally steadied himself and forcibly tore his eyes away from Lan WangJi’s long, white fingers. He concentrated on comparing the two, “Ah, these two pages.”
At first glance, there didn’t seem to be anything strange with the score book. However, those familiar with music would be able to tell with just some attention that, on the page that it flipped open to, the melody on the former side wasn’t connected to that of the latter side.
Hanshi: Similar to the jingshi (or the quiet room), this means the ‘cold room’.