Chapter 65: Tenderness—Part Three
Translated by K of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Lan WangJi walked closer and gave him the jars of Emperor’s Smile. Jars in his arm, Wei WuXian walked inside. To his back, Lan WangJi shook his head, though his gaze was softer than ever. Lan XiChen glanced at him, “You took them from your room?”
Lan WangJi nodded.
Lan XiChen, “It is best… if you do not touch liquor again. Be careful not to have what happened back then happen again.”
His eyes landed on the clothes beside Lan WangJi’s collarbones. Lan WangJi looked down as well, at where the center of his chest was, “It will not happen again.”
Lan XiChen forced a smile. He sighed right after.
After Lan XiChen went away, Lan WangJi walked inside and gently closed the door behind him. Wei WuXian took off the covers of the jars as he continued to think about the stories of Lan An, the founder of the GusuLan Sect, and QingHeng-Jun, The GusuLan Sect really is a strange sect. Although the founder was a monk and its style is so orthodox, it really… raises many romantics.
Thinking of this, he couldn’t help but look at the other descendent of the GusuLan Sect in the room.
Lan WangJi was reading a book, his head down. A paper lantern was on the corner of the desk. Against the soft light of the fire, his face was even more like a piece of fine jade. Even his indifferent expression and his light eyes seemed to have been glazed a shade warmer. He was so beautiful that it seemed unreal. Caught by the moment, Wei WuXian was somehow entranced. Involuntarily, he inched closer.
Lan WangJi looked up, asking, “What?”
Wei WuXian immediately returned to himself, “Nothing. Your bookmark looks quite pretty.”
Lan WangJi’s bookmark was a dried flower in a light shade. It had been kept with much care, its color as vibrant ever. The petals and the veins were so delicate that it seemed to be alive. Between pages, it let off a soft aroma. Wei WuXian picked out the bookmark and asked, “Herb peony?”
Lan WangJi, “Mn.”
Wei WuXian played with the bookmark in his hands before giving it back to him, “Your brother received quite a big shock.”
With care, Lan WangJi put the dried herb peony back into the book. He shut the pages, “Now that he has found the evidence, he will not tolerate this.”
Wei WuXian, “Of course. He’s your brother after all.”
No matter how close of a relationship Lan XiChen and Jin GuangYao had, he was still from the GusuLan Sect and had his own principles.
Wei WuXian opened one jar of liquor, The time before the last time Lan Zhan was drunk, he answered honestly that he’s never had the Emperor’s Smile in his room before. Then why did he hide them? He couldn’t have been saving them just for me, could he? It’s a bit shameless if I think about it this way. Speaking of it, should I apologise for the whole thing with the forehead ribbon? After all I’ve played with it so many times already. What if he’s so embarrassed that he gets mad and kicks me out of here? No matter what, I’ve fooled around so much and he hasn’t gotten angry at all, clearly his self-restraint is getting better and better. I’m sure that even if I fool around some more he won’t get angry. No, I shouldn’t ask him. How about I just pretend that I don’t know what the forehead ribbon means. Then, next time, I’ll be able to pull it again on purpose. If he gets mad, I’ll pretend to be innocent and say that I didn’t know. Ignorance isn’t a sin…
Wei WuXian was feeling quite pleased with himself. Lan WangJi asked, “What happened?”
He turned around with a serious expression, “Nothing. I’m in a good mood.” Not paying attention, he opened a jar, picked it up, and swallowed a gulp of it before suddenly spitting it out with a pfft.
Lan WangJi put down his book at once, “What happened this time?”
Wei WuXian waved his hands, “Nothing! Nothing, nothing!”
As he said nothing, he put the jar back where it had been and picked up another one with a dejected look on his face.
The last time he snuck a jar of liquor, he purposely put water inside to surprise Lan WangJi if he ever drank it. However, he didn’t know that his luck was so bad. The two jars that Lan WangJi had brought just happened to include this jar of pure water, and he drank it himself.
Ever after he came back, whenever he wanted to tease Lan WangJi, he ended up shooting himself in the foot. He just couldn’t understand it!
Wei WuXian slept sometime later. He was asleep until early morning when he suddenly woke up. With a shiver, he crawled forward and looked up. Lan WangJi’s was still dressed, sword was on his back. As he took back the hand that he had put on Wei WuXian’s shoulder, he stared at a white object within his palm, “We have an uninvited guest.”
Wei WuXian squinted to see. The object was the GusuLan Sect’s jade token of passage. He could recall that Lan WangJi’s token was a very high level, able to alert him if others intruded over the barrier of the GusuLan Sect.
But nobody had dared intrude the Cloud Recesses in dozens of years. Wei WuXian hopped off the bed. He discovered that his outer robe had been taken off sometime during his sleep. He put it on as he spoke, “Who is it?”
Lan WangJi shook his head, gesturing for Wei WuXian to follow him. The two had walked stealthily until they arrived at at a residence amid lush bamboos. Light seeped from the paper windows. Wei WuXian glanced at the wooden plaques in front of the courtyard, “The Hanshi?”
As expected, Lan XiChen sat back-straight within the room. Seeing the two enter, he didn’t seem surprised at all. He exchanged a look with Lan WangJi, and both of them understood. Lan WangJi led Wei WuXian to sit behind the screen.
A while later, the bamboo curtains of the Hanshi were lifted. A series of soft footsteps entered the room. The person seemed to have sat down before Lan XiChen.
A few moments later came the sound of jade knocking against each other. It sounded as if somebody had put something onto the table and pushed it over.
The first to speak was Lan XiChen, “What does this mean?”
Somebody spoke, “To return to you, Brother.”
It was Jin GuangYao.
Lan XiChen, “I have already given this to you.”
Jin GuangYao, “The token of passage has never failed before. Now that it has failed, it’s time for it to be returned to its rightful owner.”
Wei WuXian understood now. Since ZeWu-Jun and LianFang-Zun had quite a good relationship, Lan XiChen had given Jin GuangYao a token of passage as well so that he could visit freely. However, it was likely that within the past few days he had either edited the prohibitions of the Cloud Recesses’ barrier or retracted the permission of Jin GuangYao’s token of passage. When Jin GuangYao came to visit, he was refused permission to enter, and thus he voluntarily returned the token.
Like Lan WangJi, Lan XiChen didn’t know how to feign compliance either. Jin GuangYao backed off his advance, while Lan XiChen said nothing. A moment later, he spoke, “What did you come for?”
Jin GuangYao, “We still don’t have any news on HanGuang-Jun and the YiLing Patriarch. I didn’t let anyone search the Cloud Recesses, and many sects are already in doubt with many objections. Brother, whenever it works for you, it’d still be best for you to open the doors for two hours. Then I’ll be able to take people over and deal with the situation.”
Wei WuXian had thought that he was here to demand a search. He didn’t expect at all that Jin GuangYao would say such a thing, as though not at all interested in searching where the YiLing Patriarch had gone. He couldn’t help but feel somewhat surprised. On the other side of the screen, Jin GuangYao continued, “Brother, what’s wrong?”
Lan XiChen, “Nothing.”
Jin GuangYao, “If you’re worried about WangJi, then please relax. HanGuang-Jun’s character is upright and honest. All of the sects have seen this throughout the years. He must be only doing this because he’s been lied to in some way. Besides, he hasn’t done anything unforgivable yet. It’ll be fine as long as he explains when the time comes. I won’t let anyone take the chance to spread rumors.”
Lan XiChen, “When the time comes? When would that be?”
Jin GuangYao, “After we clean out Burial Mound.”
Wei WuXian paused in surprise. Lan XiChen, “Burial Mound?”
Jin GuangYao, “Ever since the day of the fight at Koi Tower, strange things have been happening around the areas Moling, Lanling, and Yunmeng. Graves have been destroyed and the corpses have disappeared. Certain signs are showing that large groups of corpses are travelling toward the direction of Yiling. They’ve probably gone to Burial Mound.”
Lan XiChen, “Just what could this be for?”
Jin GuangYao, “I don’t know. The speculation is that Wei WuXian initiated some dark array or used the Tiger Seal.”
Lan XiChen, “Back in Koi Tower, he had been wounded by Jin Ling. Can he still initiate such things?”
Jin GuangYao, “Brother, during the fight with Sect Leader Jiang, when Wei WuXian betrayed the YunmengJiang Sect, how badly wounded was he? Didn’t he still return to command the corpses? Would anything in this world prove to be difficult to the YiLing Patriarch?”
Wei WuXian stroked his chin, You think too highly of me…
Jin GuangYao, “So, sooner or later, there might be the second siege of Burial Mound. I’ve already notified a few other sects to discuss the matter at Koi Tower. Brother, are you coming?”
A few moments later, Lan XiChen finally replied, “I am. Wait for me in the Yashi. I will go with you soon afterwards.”
After Jin GuangYao left, Lan XiChen walked behind the screen and looked at Lan WangJi, “I will go to Koi Tower, and you two go to Burial Mound. Let us move separately.”
Lan WangJi nodded slowly, “Yes.”
Lan XiChen, “If he really holds other intentions, I will definitely not tolerate it.”
Lan WangJi, “I know.”
The two went down the Cloud Recesses on a small path. On their way, the grass beside the white pebbles rustled before parting suddenly, revealing a small, snowball-like head and a pair of long ears.
The rabbit’s pink nose sniffled. As it saw Lan WangJi, its dangling ears suddenly perked up. With a kick of its leg, it sprang toward them. They came to the patch of green grass. Lil’ Apple was lying under a tree while dozens of round white rabbits circled around it, most of their eyes shut, sleeping tightly. A few of them were still snuggling.
Wei WuXian walked to the tree and scratched Lil’ Apple’s head. With a shiver, Lil’ Apple woke up at once, air coming out of its nostrils. As it saw Wei WuXian, just as it was about to bellow, the pile of rabbits were startled awake as well. Long ears trembling, all of them hopped toward Lan WangJi. Fluffs of white at his snowy boots, they ran around him again and again, whatever they were excited about.
Holding Lil’ Apple’s rein, Wei WuXian pulled and threatened for it to move. The rabbits stood on the ground on their hind legs and clung to Lan WangJi’s leg one by one. All of them wanted to climb up. Lan WangJi was as still as a mountain. As the two began to walk, the rabbits stumbled as they followed the pair of white boots. They refused to leave no matter how many times Wei WuXian tried to shoo them away.
Bending down, Lan WangJi picked one up and held it within his arms. Although his face was still cold, the stroke of his hands were gentle. His slender fingers scratched the chin of one of the rabbits. The rabbit shook its long ears. It turned around and shut its ruby eyes into just two slits, as though enjoying the scratching very much.
Wei WuXian wanted scratch it, but it turned its head away. Wei WuXian, “It detests me. It loves you and you only. It really knows who its master is, doesn’t it?”
Lan WangJi glanced at him before passing the rabbit into his arms. Wei WuXian took it over with a grin on his face. The rabbit twisted and turned in his arms, struggling as hard as it could. Wei WuXian tugged its ears, “You don’t like me? You hate me? Then run away. You can’t run away no matter how much you want to. Why don’t you just be obedient and like me instead?”
Pinching the rabbit, Wei WuXian played with it for a while. When they were almost outside of the gates of the Cloud Recesses, he finally let go of the rabbit whose white fur had already been tangled by him. Now that the rabbits couldn’t follow them any longer, their ears drooped low and sat where they were, watching as their master left.
Wei WuXian looked back, “They don’t want to let you go at all. HanGuang-Jun, I can’t believe that you’re liked do much by these little things. You must’ve been very gentle with them when you brought them up. I’d never be able to do that.”
Lan WangJi, “No?”
Wei WuXian gloated, “Yeah! Those that fly, those that walk, those that swim—every single one of them turns around and flees as soon as it sees me.”
Lan WangJi shook his head. What he meant was more than obvious: it must’ve been Wei WuXian teasing them first that he had never been liked by them.