Chapter 75: Distance—Part Two
Translated by K of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
(This chapter is 8000 words long. It is 4x as long as a normal novel chapter. Please stop sending us emails to update more frequently.)
The three rushed toward the direction of Burial Mound. When the black peak broke through the clouds, Wei WuXian felt more and more worried
The roars of fierce corpses came from the dark forest afar. It wasn’t only one, but an entire group. Lan WangJi made a sword seal with his hand, and Bichen immediately began to fly even faster, although still steady.
As soon as they landed, the two saw a shadow dart from within the woods, screaming as it threw itself toward someone. Bichen cut it in half with one single stroke. The person on the ground was pale-faced. As he saw Wei WuXian, he shouted, “Young Master Wei!”
Wei WuXian tossed out a talisman, “Uncle Four, what’s wrong?”
Uncle Four, “All… All of the fierce corpses in the Demon-Slaughtering Cave got out!”
Wei WuXian, “Didn’t I set a restriction seal? Who touched it?!”
Uncle Four, “Nobody! It was… It was…”
Suddenly, a yell came from in front of them. It was a woman’s voice, “A-Ning!”
Within the forest, around a dozen cultivators of the Wen Sect stood before a figure—Wen Ning, bearing a hideous pair of white pupils. Not many of the talismans that once covered his entire body remained. In his hands, he was dragging two other fierce corpses, which had already been torn up by him, blackish blood cascading off what had almost become two sets of skeletons. Wen Ning was still beating them up, as if he wouldn’t rest until they had been turned to dust. The person who stood at the front of the group, holding a sword, was Wen Qing.
Wei WuXian, “Didn’t I say not to touch the talismans on him?!”
Wen Qing didn’t even have the spare seconds to be surprised that Lan WangJi was here. She answered, “Nobody touched them! Not a single person went into the Cave! He tore them off on his own when he suddenly went on a rampage. Not only the ones on himself, he destroyed the restriction seals at the blood pool and the Cave as well! All of the fierce corpses in the blood pool got out. Wei WuXian, go save Granny and the others. They won’t be able to hold up much longer!!!”
As they spoke, strange hissing noises came from above them. The group looked up to find a few fierce corpses that had climbed up the trees. They curved around the top of the trees as though they were snakes, snarling as sickening mucus dripped from between their teeth. When Wen Ning looked up, he saw them as well. He tossed away the crushed limb in his hand and leaped onto the tree at once!
The tree was at least twenty yards tall. To be able to leap up to such a height directly was an indicator of extreme explosive force. Soon after Wen Ning went up the tree, he tore the corpses apart, limbs flying everywhere and blood raining down on the ground. He still wasn’t satisfied yet, going off the other side.
Wei WuXian pulled out Chenqing, “Lan…!”
He wanted to entrust Lan WangJi with saving the others as he stayed to deal with Wen Ning. When he turned around, he had already disappeared. Just as he was beginning to panic, sounds of the zither vibrated through the sky, sending off a murder of startled crows. Before he could even ask, Lan WangJi had already gone over. Wei WuXian felt his heart settle. Putting Chenqing to his lips, he released a long note. Wen Ning’s body, having landed on the ground, paused shortly.
Wei WuXian seized the opportunity, “Wen Ning! Do you still remember me?!”
On the other side, the zither sounded three times before it went silent, meaning that Lan WangJi was able to control the fierce corpses with just three notes. Wen Ning lowered his body slightly, deep growls coming from his throat. He was like a wild beast on alert, prepared to attack at any moment. As Wei WuXian was about to play his flute again, he suddenly realized that Wen Yuan still hugged his leg tightly, too scared to make a sound. He’d forgotten about him the whole time!
He immediately picked Wen Yuan up and threw him toward Wen Qing, “Take him away!”
At this point, Wen Ning pounced on him.
As though he was hit by a large boulder, Wei WuXian flew back from the force, crashing onto a tree. He felt warmth rise up his throat and cursed. Lan WangJi saw this happen just as he returned. His expression changed at once and he rushed in front of him. Wen Qing had just shoved Wen Yuan into another’s arms. She wanted to check on Wei WuXian’s injuries, but he got there before she could. She paused with surprise. Lan WangJi was almost embracing Wei WuXian as he held his hand and passed spiritual energy to him.
Wen Qing hurried, “Let him go first—it’s not necessary! Let me do it! I’m Wen Qing!”
Wen Qing of Qishan was one of the top medics. Lan WangJi finally stopped passing Wei WuXian spiritual energy and let Wen Qing examine his condition, although his hand still refused to let go. Wei WuXian, however, pushed him aside, “Don’t let him go!”
After Wen Ning wounded him, he walked down the mountain, arms hanging low. It was where the other cultivators of the Wen Sect were hiding from the fierce corpses. Wen Qing dashed over as she yelled, “Run! Everyone, run! He’s going towards you!”
Wei WuXian fought out of Lan WangJi hold and forced himself to chase after Wen Ning. Lan WangJi caught up again, “Where is your sword?”
Wei WuXian whipped out twelve talismans, “Don’t know where I put it!”
The twelve yellow talismans formed a line in midair and began to burn. When they landed on Wen Ning, like a chain of fire, they held him down at once. With a flip of his wrist, Lan WangJi strummed the strings of his zither. Wen Ning’s footsteps seemed to have been hindered by an invisible thread. He paused, but continued to struggle forward despite the difficulty. Wei WuXian put Chenqing to his lips. Due to the blow he received, some blood sprayed out from his lips. He frowned, but he endured the pain and the blood churning within his chest, playing without a single tremble.
Under the two’s collaboration, Wen Ning kneeled on the ground and let out a roar skyward. The leaves within the forest swayed back and forth. Wei WuXian finally couldn’t hold it any longer and coughed up a mouthful of blood.
The notes of Wangji suddenly increased in their force. Wen Ning bellowed, arms wrapped around his head, curled up on the ground.
Wen Qing wailed, “A-Ning! A-Ning!”
She was about to rush over when Wei WuXian stopped her, “Be careful!”
Seeing how tormented her younger brother was, under the sounds of the zither, Wen Qing felt her heart ache. Although she knew that if extreme measures weren’t taken against his current state of being, he’d definitely bring about danger. Yet, she couldn’t help but felt bad for Wen Ning, “HanGuang-Jun, go easy on him!”
Wei WuXian, “Lan Zhan! A bit softe-…”
“… Young… Master…”
Wei WuXian suddenly froze, “Wait a second?”
He shouted, “Lan Zhan, could you stop first?!”
The voice came from Wen Ning.
Lan WangJi pressed his fingers onto the strings, stopping the vibrations. Wei WuXian, “Wen Ning?!”
Wen Ning struggled to lift up his head.
Within his eyes wasn’t the hideous white anymore, but a… a pair of black pupils!
Wen Ning opened his mouth, continuing, “… Young… Master Wei…?”
It seemed that he squeezed the words out one by one, almost biting down on his own tongue. But those were indeed human words, not meaningless roars.
Wen Qing had frozen. A second later, with a scream, she threw herself toward him, howling, “A-Ning!”
Both of the two fell back from the force. Wen Ning, “Sis… -ter…”
Wen Qing pulled her younger brother into an embrace. With both tears and laughter, she buried her head in his arms, “It’s me! It’s your sister, it’s your sister! A-Ning!”
She called Wen Ning’s name again and again. The other cultivators seemed as if they wanted to go throw themselves over too, but they didn’t dare do it. They hugged one another in the chaos, shouting and laughing among themselves.
Uncle Four leaped down the mountain as he cheered, “Everything’s fine! It’s done! It’s done! A-Ning woke up! …”
Wei WuXian walked over and squatted beside Wen Ning, “How do you feel right now?”
Wen Ning lay on the ground facing up, his neck and limbs still somewhat stiff, “I… I…” He stammered for some time before finally saying, “… I want to cry, but I can’t. What’s wrong…”
After a moment of silence, Wei WuXian patted his shoulder, “You remember, don’t you? You’re dead already.”
When he made sure that Wen Ning really was awake, in his heart, Wei WuXian let out a long breath of relief.
He did it.
Back then, because of his momentary impulse and rage, he made Wen Ning into a low level fierce corpse. Although he could get Wen Ning to point at whom the inspectors that killed him were and tear them apart, when Wen Qing woke up and had to face her younger brother who didn’t recognize her at all and could only bite and bark like a mad dog, being fed with blood and flesh, it was even more painful for her.
After he calmed down, Wei WuXian promised solemnly that he had a way for Wen Ning to return to consciousness. But, nobody knew that he was only talking big so that Wen Qing could relax first. In truth, he had close to no confidence and could only summon up whatever skills he had.
With the arduous days and the sleepless nights, he really did manage to keep his promise.
Wen Qing cupped Wen Ning’s pale face, tears streaming down her cheeks. In the end, she still couldn’t help herself from crying like she did the day she saw Wen Ning’s corpse.
Wen Ning stroked her back with his stiff arms. More and more of the Wen Sect’s people came up the mountain, either rushing over and joining the crying pile or gazed with respect and gratitude at Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi’s direction.
Wei WuXian knew that the siblings had a lot to say to each other. Wen Qing definitely wouldn’t want others to see her sobbing look either. He turned, “Lan Zhan.”
Lan WangJi looked at him. Wei WuXian, “You’re here anyways, so why not have a seat inside?”
The two walked up to a cave on the mountain, surrounded by chilly winds.
Lan WangJi, “The Demon-Slaughtering Cave?”
Wei WuXian, “That’s right. I came up with the name. How is it?”
Lan WangJi said nothing.
Wei WuXian, “I know. In your heart, you’re definitely saying ‘not very good.’ After the news got out, I picked up on some of the comments as well, saying that I’m someone who cultivates the demonic path to begin with—I’m the demon myself, so how could I be so shameless as to call my den the Demon-Slaughtering Cave?”
Lan WangJi didn’t comment. The two had already walked inside the cave. Wei WuXian’s laughter echoed throughout the empty walls, “But in reality, all of them are wrong. What I actually meant with this name is not at all what they interpreted it as.”
Lan WangJi, “How come?”
Wei WuXian, “Simple. I often sleep like I’m dead inside of this cave. A cave that kills a demon through slumber—wouldn’t it be the Demon-Slaughtering Cave?”
Lan WangJi, “…”
The two entered the main area. Lan WangJi, “What about the blood pool, then?”
Wei WuXian pointed at a pool of water within the cave, “The blood pool is this right here.”
It was dim inside the cave, making it difficult to tell whether the water was black or red. It gave an odor of blood, somewhere between light and heavy.
Originally, a line of restriction had surrounded the pool, though it had been destroyed by Wen Ning already. Wei WuXian put it up again and tied it together.
Lan WangJi, “The dark energy is dense.”
Wei WuXian, “That’s right. The dark energy is really heavy, fit to nurture dark creatures. This is where I use to ‘parent’ the fierce corpses that haven’t been completed yet. Guess how many are in the bottom?” He smiled, “To be honest, I don’t know just how many there are either. But the water in the pool is smelling more and more like blood.”
Whether it was because of the lighting or not, Wei WuXian’s complexion seemed unusually pale. His smile seemed to have some eeriness to it as well. Lan WangJi gazed at him quietly, “Wei Ying.”
Wei WuXian, “What?”
Lan WangJi, “Can you really control it?”
Wei WuXian, “Control what? You mean Wen Ning? Of course I can. Look, he’s already returned to consciousness.” Wei WuXian gloated, “An unprecedented fierce corpse.”
Lan WangJi, “What would you do if he lost consciousness again?”
Wei WuXian, “I already have experience with dealing with him when he’s out of consciousness. I’m the one who controls him. As long as nothing happens to me, nothing will happen to him either.”
After a while of silence, Lan WangJi asked, “But what if something does happen to you?”
Wei WuXian, “It won’t.“
Lan WangJi, “How could you be sure?”
Wei WuXian’s voice was firm, “It won’t, and it can’t.”
Lan WangJi, “Do you intend on staying like this from now on?”
Wei WuXian, “What’s wrong with staying like this? My place not good enough for you? This mountain here is even bigger than the Cloud Recesses. Our food here is much better too.”
“Wei Ying,” Lan WangJi spoke, “You know what I mean.”
“…” Wei WuXian answered with reluctance, “Lan Zhan, you… really are something out of this world. I’ve already changed the subject of conversation and you pulled it back again.”
Suddenly, he felt an itch at his throat. Blood began to rise up his chest. Trying to restrain it, Wei WuXian coughed a couple of times. Seeing that Lan WangJi was going to grab his hand again, Wei WuXian dodged, “What are you doing?”
Lan WangJi, “Your injuries.”
Wei WuXian, “No need. Why use spiritual energy for such a small wound? It’ll get better after some sitting around.”
Lan WangJi didn’t waste any words with him, grabbing for his hand again. At this point, two people came from outside of the cave. Wen Qing’s voice sounded, “Get better after some sitting around? Did you think I’m dead?”
Following behind her was Wen Ning, holding a tray of tea. Wen Ning’s skin was ashen. Incantations that hadn’t been fully wiped away yet could still be seen at his neck. Wen Yuan was the one hugging Wen Ning’s leg. As soon as he came in, he stumbled toward Wen WuXian and hung himself at his leg instead. Seeing that Wei WuXian and Lan WangJi looked at him in coordination, Wen Ning pulled the corners of his lips up, as if trying to smile. However, the muscles on his face were dead. They couldn’t move.
He could only greet them, “Young Master Wei… Young Master Lan.”
Wei WuXian lifted his leg and picked Wen Yuan up, swaying him in the air, “Why are you here? Finished crying so soon?”
Wen Qing threatened, “Just watch how I make you cry later!” Despite what she said, her voice still sounded nasally.
Wei WuXian, “What a joke! How could you make me… Ah!!!”
Wen Qing walked up to him and gave him a loud slap on the back, so hard that it managed to make Wei WuXian cough up a mouthful of blood. His face is full of disbelief, “You… You’re so cruel…”
After he finished, he shut his eyes and passed out. Lan WangJi’s face paled as he went to catch him, “Wei Ying!”
Wen Qing, however, revealed three silver needles, scolding, “I have crueler things that you haven’t seen yet. Get up!”
As if nothing happened, Wei WuXian got up from Lan WangJi’s arms, wiping away the blood at his mouth, “Please don’t. The cruelest is the woman’s heart. I wouldn’t want to see that.”
It turned out that Wen Qing’s slap only let out the blood that had clogged up within his chest. How could the renowned best medic of Qishan really be so rash? Seeing that it was another prank, Lan WangJi gave a harsh flip of his sleeves and turned around, as though he didn’t want to talk to such a ridiculous person ever again. Wen Ning just woke up, his reaction still slower than others. When he saw Wei WuXian cough up blood, he paused in surprise as well, but now he remembered that he injured Wei WuXian when he was still unconscious.
His spoke with guilt, “Young Master, I’m sorry…”
Wei WuXian waved his hand, “Enough, enough. Did you really think something would happen to me with a punch like that?”
Wen Qing watched Lan WangJi’s expression with her inky eyes, “HanGuang-Jun, have a seat?”
Wei WuXian finally realized. So that was why he felt as though he forgot about something. Lan Zhan had been here for so long and he hadn’t sat down yet. However, all that could be sat on inside the cave were a few stone beds, and strange objects were spread over every single one of them, from flags to sabers to boxes to blood-tattered bandages and unfinished fruits. The scene was almost painful to look at.
Wei WuXian, “But there’s nowhere to sit here, is there?”
Wen Qing was indifferent, “Of course there is.” As she finished, she swept the things on one of the stone beds onto the ground, showing no mercy at all, “Look, now there’s a seat, isn’t there?”
Wei WuXian was shocked, “Hey!”
Wen Ning said as well, “Yeah, Young Master Lan, sit and have some tea…” As he spoke, he shifted the tray in his hands a bit nearer to Lan WangJi. Two teacups, washed extremely clean, sat on the tray.
Yet, Wei WuXian only glanced at them before complaining, “How dingy. Asking a guest to drink plain water—there aren’t even tea leaves in here!”
Wen Ning, “I asked and they said they didn’t have any. Uncle Four said that they didn’t store tea leaves…”
Wei WuXian took up one of the cups and had a gulp, “This really doesn’t seem right. Prepare some the next time a guest comes over.” He only felt how funny it was after he said it. How could there be a next time, and how could there be another guest?
Wen Qing, “So you still have the face to talk about it. Look at what useless things you bought, the few times you were asked to shop down the mountain. Where are the radish seeds I asked you to buy today?”
Wei WuXian, “What useless things did I buy? I went to buy toys for A-Yuan, right, A-Yuan?”
Wen Yuan, however, did not cooperate at all, “Brother Xian is lying. This other brother bought them for me.”
Wei WuXian fumed, “How could this be?”
Laughter was just starting to fill the Demon-Slaughtering Cave when Lan WangJi turned around without saying anything and proceeded to walk out of the cave.
Both Wen Qing and Wen Ning paused in surprise. Wei WuXian, “Lan Zhan?”
Lan WangJi’s footsteps hesitated. No emotions could be distinguished from his tone, “It is time for me to return.”
He walked out the Demon-Slaughtering Cave without turning back. Wen Ning started to panic again, as if thinking that it was his fault. Wen Yuan hurried, “Brother!”
Using his two short legs, he tried to chase after him. Wei WuXian snatched him up at once and tucked him under his arm, “Wait for me here.”
He walked three steps in two and caught up to Lan WangJi, “You’re going? I’ll see you off.”
Lan WangJi stayed silent.
Under Wei WuXian’s arm, Wen Yuan looked up at him, “Brother, you won’t be eating here?”
Lan WangJi glanced at him. He reached out and stroked his head softly.
Wen Yuan thought that he was going to stay. His face brightened up, whispering, “A-Yuan heard a secret. They said that there’ll be lots of good food today…”
Wei WuXian, “This brother here has food waiting for him in his own home. He won’t be staying.”
Wen Yuan replied with an ‘oh’. Disappointment was plastered on his face. His head drooped down and he didn’t say anything else.
The two of them along with the child tucked in under an arm walked for some time in silence until they reached the foot of Burial Mound. They stopped in unison. Neither of them spoke.
A moment later, Wei WuXian spoke up, “Lan Zhan, you asked me if I intended on staying like this from now on. To be honest, I’d like to ask something as well. What can I do apart from this?”
He continued, “Give up the demonic path? Then what about the people on this mountain?
“Give them up? I won’t be able to do it. I believe that if you were I, you wouldn’t be able to do it either.”
He continued, “Nobody can give me a nice, broad road to walk on. A road where I could protect those I want to protect without having to cultivate the ghostly path.”
Lan WangJi gazed at him. He didn’t reply, but both of them knew the answer in their hearts.
There was no such road.
No solution existed.
Wei WuXian spoke slowly, “Thank you for keeping me company today. Thank you for telling me the news about my shijie’s marriage too. But, let the self judge the right and the wrong, let others decide to praise or to blame, let gains and losses remain uncommented on. I, too, know what I should and shouldn’t do. I believe that I’ll be able to control it as well.”
As if he’d anticipated such an attitude since a long time ago, Lan WangJi nodded slightly and closed his eyes.
And that marked their farewell.
On his way back up the mountain, Wei WuXian finally realized that he was the one who promised to treat Lan WangJi to a meal, yet in the end, the two of them parted ways in an atmosphere less than relaxed. It went without saying that he forgot to pay for the meal as well.
Wei WuXian thought, Well, Lan Zhan is so rich anyways. It’s no big deal if he paid for me once more. Speaking of it, he still has money on him, doesn’t he? It couldn’t have been all used up after just buying a few children’s toys. If worst comes to worst, I’ll just treat him again next time… How could there be a next time?
Now that he thought about it, for reasons this or that, he and Lan WangJi would end up parting on bad terms every time they met each other. Maybe they really didn’t suit each other as friends.
But, it wasn’t like there’d be any more chances for them to try and be friends with each other in the future.
Wen Yuan held him in one hand and a wooden sword in the other, wearing the grass butterfly on his head, “Brother Xian, would Brother Rich ever come here again?”
Wei WuXian bursted, “Who’s Brother Rich?”
Wen Yuan answered seriously, “The rich brother is Brother Rich.”
Wei WuXian, “Then what about me?”
As expected, Wen Yuan answered, “You are Brother Xian. Brother Poor.”
Wei WuXian shot a look at him and snatched the butterfly away, “What, you like him just because he’s got money?”
Wen Yuan stood on tippy toes to grab for it, “Give it back… He bought it for me!”
Wei WuXian really had to be ridiculous. He could have fun just by teasing a child, putting the butterfly on his own head, “I’m not gonna. You even called him dad. What do you call me? You’ve only called me brother, an entire generation shorter than him!”
Wen Yuan jumped, “I didn’t call him dad!”
Wei WuXian, “I heard it. I don’t care, I want to be someone taller than brothers and dads in seniority. What should you call me?”
Wen Yuan pouted, “But… But A-Yuan doesn’t wanna call you mom… That’s so weird…”
Wei WuXian exploded again, “Who told you to call me mom? The one with higher seniority than brother and dad is granddad—you didn’t even know this? Do you really like him so much? You should’ve said it sooner. If you did I would’ve asked him to take you away earlier. His sect is rich, but it’s very scary. He’d take you back, lock you inside, and have you copy scriptures the whole day. You scared?!”
Wen Yuan immediately shook his head, whispering, “… I won’t go… I still want Granny.”
Wei WuXian pressed, “You want Granny, but not me?”
Wen Yuan pleased, “I do. I want Brother Xian too.” He messed with his fingers, counting one by one, “And I want Brother Rich, Sister A-Qing, Brother Ning, Uncle Four, Uncle Six…”
Wei WuXian tossed the butterfly back onto his head, “That’s enough, that’s enough. I’m gonna be drowned amongst all the people.”
Wen Yuan hurried to put the grass butterfly back into his pocket, scared that Wei WuXian’d snatch it again. He asked once more, “Will Brother Rich come back again or not?”
Wei WuXian kept on smiling.
He only answered a while later, “He probably won’t come back again.”
Wen Yuan asked in disappointment, “Why?”
Wei WuXian, “There’s no why. In this world, everyone has their own things to do, their own paths to walk. He’s busy enough in his own sect, so how could he have the spare time to flutter around others?”
They weren’t of the same path, after all.
Wen Yuan replied with an ‘oh,’ whether he understood or not. He seemed to be quite discouraged.
Wei WuXian fished him up and tucked him under his arm, humming, “… Who cares about the crowded, broad road? I’ll walk the single-plank bridge all the night… All! The! … All the night?”
When he hummed the ‘night’ part, he realized that it didn’t seem like nighttime at all.
He’d always walked up the mountain in the dark, but tonight, things were different when he was walking back.
The area around the little shacks were swept clean. Even much of the weeds were removed. A few red lanterns were hung up in the forest at the side. All of the lanterns were made by hand. Hanging on the branches, although its round shapes were simple, it gave off a warm light that lit up the pitch-black forest.
Usually, at this time, the fifty-or-so people would’ve finished their meals long ago and would be holed-up in each of their shacks, lights turned off. Today, however, they were all gathered inside of the largest shack. The shack was made from eight wooden poles propping up a roof, able to hold all of the people. The building beside it was the ‘kitchen’, and so this became the dining room.
Wei WuXian found this quite odd. With Wen Yuan under his arm, he walked over, “Why is everyone here today? Not sleeping? It’s so bright with all these lanterns.”
Wen Qing walked out from the kitchen on the side, holding a plate, “Hung them for you. We’ll make a few more tomorrow to hang in the mountain path. If you hurry around in the dark all the time, you’ll slip and break your bones sooner or later.”
Wei WuXian, “I have you here even if I break my bones, don’t I?”
Wen Qing, “I wouldn’t want to do more work. It’s not like I’m paid. If you break them, don’t complain if I hamper with your bones when I put them back.”
Wei WuXian shivered and crept away. When he walked in the shack, everyone made space for him. There were three tables, and on each of them were seven or eight plates, holding steaming food. Wei WuXian, “What, nobody ate yet?”
Wen Qing, “No. We were waiting for you.”
Wei WuXian, “Why did you wait for me? I ate outside.”
He realized what he did right after he said it. As he thought, Wen Qing slammed the plate onto the table. The red peppers in the dish bounced in unison. She fumed, “So that’s why you bought nothing. Ate all the money away at a restaurant? I only have a couple of coins, and I gave them all to you. Now look at how you fritter them away!”
Wei WuXian, “No! I didn’t…”
At this point, Granny Wen walked out the kitchen as well, shakily holding a walking stick in one hand and a plate in another. Wen Yuan squirmed his way out of his arms and ran over, “Granny!”
Wen Qing turned around to help, grumbling, “I told you to leave them alone. You don’t have to help. Just go sit. The smoke is too big in there. Your legs aren’t good and your hands shake. If you fall, we’re not going to have many plates left. It’s not easy bringing all these porcelain up the mountain…”
The other Wen Sect cultivators arranged chopsticks and poured tea, saving the main seat for him. With this, Wei WuXian almost found it difficult to accept.
In the past, it wasn’t that he couldn’t tell how most of the Wen Sect’s people here were all somewhat scared of him.
They had all heard of the ruthless reputation he had during the Sunshot Campaign, the almost cruel ways of venting his anger that so many talked about. They had seen with their own eyes how he used corpses to kill others as well. In the first few days, Granny Wen’s legs began to shake whenever she saw him. Wen Yuan always hid behind her too. They only started to approach him after some time had passed.
And, as of the moment, over fifty pairs of eyes were staring at him. Although fear was still present within those gazes, but it was a fear stemmed from veneration, along with some caution, some ingratiation. What was more was the same gratitude and kindness that were in the eyes of the Wen siblings.
Wen Qing’s voice was low, “These past few days, you’ve worked hard.”
Wei WuXian, “You… You’re suddenly talking so nicely to me. I’m kind of scared?”
Wen Qing’s knuckles seemed to have cracked. Wei WuXian shut up at once.
Yet, Wen Qing continued softly. “… In truth, they all wanted to have dinner with you once, so that they could thank you. But you’re either jumping up and down, running around, or shut inside of the Cave and staying in there for days upon end, not letting anyone disturb you. They didn’t want to hold up your work and annoy you. They thought that you didn’t like interacting with others and didn’t want to talk to them, so they were too embarrassed to talk to you. A-Ning woke up today, and Uncle Four said that we had to have dinner together no matter what… Even if you ate so much when you were outside that you’re about to die, come sit down with us. It’s fine even if you don’t eat. Just have a seat, and we can chat and have a few drinks.”
Wei WuXian paused in surprise. Even his eyes brightened up, “Have a few drinks? There’s wine up here?”
A few of the older Wen Sect members had been glancing in this direction in a bit of a nervous manner. Hearing this, one of them immediately replied, “Yeah, yeah. There’s wine, there’s wine.” He held up a few sealed bottles by the table, passing them to him, “Fruit wine, made from the wild fruits on this mountain. It’s quite rich!”
Wen Ning was squatting by the table, “Uncle Four likes to drink as well. He knows how to make them himself and made them especially for today. He’s been trying for a lot of days.”
Since he spoke a word at a time, his slow speech allowed him to not stutter anymore. Uncle Four smiled embarrassedly, still staring at Wei WuXian anxiously.
Wei WuXian, “Really? Then I’ll have to try some!”
He took a seat at the table. Uncle Four hurried to open the seal on the bottle, giving it to him with both hands. Wei WuXian smelled it, “It really is rich!”
The rest of them sat down along with him. When they heard his praise, they all beamed as though they had received the greatest compliment ever, and began to eat.
It was the first time that Wei WuXian couldn’t tell what the wine tasted like.
He was thinking, To walk it all the night… huh?
It wasn’t really that dark at all.
All of a sudden, his entire body felt refreshed.
The fifty people were crammed at three tables. Chopsticks stretched here and there. Sitting on his granny’s legs, Wen Yuan showed her his new treasures, showing her a fight with two little wooden swords. The old lady grinned so hard that her toothless mouth was wide open. Wei WuXian and that uncle talked about the wine they had drunk with fierce passion. In the end, the both agreed that the Emperor’s Smile of Gusu was an indisputable winner. Walking in circles, Wen Qing poured wine for the seniors and a few of their subordinates. It emptied in just a few rounds.
Wei WuXian, “Why is it all gone already? I haven’t had much at all.”
Wen Qing, “There are a few more bottles. We can save them for later. You can call it a day for now.”
Wei WuXian, “How could this be? They say that a good name when dead can’t compare to some good wine when living. Stop talking. A full cup, please.”
Seeing that today was a special occasion, Wen Qing filled it up for him, “There’s no next time. I really think you should quit drinking. You drink way too heavily.”
Wei WuXian, “It’s not like it’s the Cloud Recesses here; why should I quit drinking?”
At the mention of the Cloud Recesses, Wen Qing glanced at Wei WuXian, asking him as though she didn’t care, “I forgot to ask you. You’ve never brought anyone up Burial Mound. What’s the deal today?”
Wei WuXian, “You mean Lan Zhan? I met him on the way.”
Wei Qing, “You met him? How did you meet him? You ran into him again?”
Wei WuXian, “That’s right.”
Wen Qing, “What a coincidence. I remember that you two ran into each other once in Yunmeng as well.”
Wei WuXian, “There’s nothing special about it. A lot of cultivators from other sects travel in and out of Yunmeng and Yiling.”
Wen Qing, “I heard you call him directly by his birth name back then. Quite bold, aren’t you?”
Wei WuXian, “He calls me directly by my birth name as well, doesn’t he? It’s nothing. Got used to it when we were young. Neither of us care.”
Wen Qing, “Really? Don’t you two have a bad relationship? Heard that it’s like you’re ice and fire, fighting every time you see each other.”
Wei WuXian, “Don’t listen to the rumors. Our relationship really was quite bad in the past. During the Sunshot Campaign, we did get into a few fights because of our bad tempers. But afterwards, it wasn’t as bad as the rumors say. We’re so-so.”
Wen Qing didn’t say anything else.
The food on the plates quickly disappeared. Somebody knocked on a bowl, shouting, “A-Ning, cook us a few more dishes please!”
“Cook a lot. Put them in a basin!”
“Where could we find a basin to put the food in? They’re for washing the face!”
Wen Ning didn’t need to eat, so he’d been waiting by the shack. Hearing this, he replied after some processing, “Oh, sure.”
Seeing that he had a chance to show off his skills, Wei WuXian hurried, “Wait. I’ll do it! I’ll do it, I’ll do it!”
Wen Qing didn’t believe him, “You can cook?”
Wei WuXian raised a brow, “Of course. I can be both the hostess and the housewife. Leave it to me. Just wait.”
Everyone clapped to show their anticipation. However, when Wei WuXian placed two dishes onto the table, on his face a captivating smirk, Wen Qing only glanced at it once before speaking, “From now on, you stay as far away from the kitchen as possible.”
Wei WuXian protested, “Just have some. You can’t judge a book by its cover. You’ll like after after you taste it. That’s how it’s supposed to taste.”
Wen Qing, “Taste my ass! Don’t you see how much A-Yuan is crying after he tasted it? A waste of food. Don’t pick up your chopsticks. No need to give him the face for it!”
In less than three days, almost all of the cultivators learned a terrifying piece of news: Wei WuXian, the one who defected from the Jiang Sect and made his own home in Yiling, had created the the highest level of fierce corpse yet. It was incomparably fast, strong, fearless, and vicious. On top of that, its consciousness was preserved, able to win every night-hunt!
Everyone was in shock: there would be no peace anymore! Wei WuXian would definitely make these fierce corpses on a large scale, in desire of founding his own sect to compete with the cultivational world! And the many young blood of today’s age would definitely be attracted by his evil, opportunist path as well, and go to him one after another. The righteous path of cultivation would have grim future—dark times ahead!
However, in reality, after he succeeded in creating the corpse, the biggest benefit that Wei WuXian found was that there was a worker that could bear all the hardships when transporting goods up the mountain. In the past, he could only transport one chest at a time at most, but now, Wen Ning could drag up an entire cart of chests all on his own, along with Wei WuXian atop the cart, swinging his legs in boredom.
But nobody believed this. After he found himself in the limelight during a few night-hunts, there really were quite a few people who came for him, hoping that they could be accepted by the ‘patriarch’ and become one of his disciples. The mountains that used to be so deserted suddenly became crowded. None of the fierce corpses Wei WuXian set up on patrol down the mountain would attack on their own. At most, they’d send the person flying and roar their throats out. Nobody got hurt, and so more and more people gathered down Burial Mound.
One time, when Wei WuXian saw a long banner that said ‘all hail the supreme Lord of Evil Patriarch of YiLing’, a mouthful of fruit wine shot from his lips. He really couldn’t take it any longer. He went down the mountain, accepted with pleasure all of the tributes with which they ‘honored his most wise sage’, and began to use another mountain path from then on.
One day, he was shopping in Yiling with his worker when a familiar figure suddenly flashed in the alley before him. Wei WuXian’s gaze froze. He followed without making a sound. Behind the figure, the two arrived at a small yard. As soon as they went in, the doors of the yard were closed.
A cold voice came forth, “Get out.”
Jiang Cheng was standing behind them. He was the one who shut the door. The words were directed at Wen Ning.
Jiang Cheng was someone who held deep grudges. He was imbued with the hatred he held toward the QishanWen Sect. He had been unconscious the whole time when Wen Qing and Wen Ning helped him, so he couldn’t feel the same way that Wei WuXian did at all. Due to this, he had never shown courtesy toward Wen Ning. The last time they fought, he didn’t show any mercy either. Seeing that it was him, Wen Ning immediately looked down and went out.
A woman stood in the yard, wearing a black cloak and a bamboo hat with gauze curtains hanging down its sides. Wei WuXian felt his throat swell, “… Shijie.”
Hearing the footsteps, the woman took off her hat. She took off her cloak as well. Under the cloak were wedding robes of scarlet.
Jiang YanLi wore the refined robes on her body and a bright blush on her cheeks, adding some color to her face. Wei WuXian walked a few steps closer to her, “Shijie… you’re?”
Jiang Cheng, “What? You think she’s marrying you?”
Wei WuXian, “You can shut up.”
Jiang YanLi spread out her arms to show him. Her cheeks flushed slightly, “A-Xian, I’ll… be married soon. I came for you to see…”
Wei WuXian felt warmth at his eyes.
He wouldn’t be able to be there the day Jiang YanLi got married, unable to see how his loved one would look in wedding robes. And so, Jiang Cheng and Jiang YanLi snuck to Yiling and led him into the yard for him to see how his sister would look the day she got married.
A few moments later, Wei WuXian finally smiled, “I know! I heard…”
Jiang Cheng, “Who did you hear it from?”
Wei WuXian, “None of your business.”
Jiang YanLi spoke shyly, “But… I’m the only one who’s here. You won’t be able to see the groom.”
Wei WuXian pretended that he didn’t care, “It’s not like I want to look at some groom.”
He walked a few times around Jiang YanLi, praising, “It looks good!”
Jiang Cheng, “Sis, I told you so. It really does look good.”
Jiang YanLi had always known her own limitations. She answered earnestly, “It doesn’t count if you two say so. I can’t take it seriously.”
Jiang Cheng sighed, “You don’t believe me and you don’t believe him. Is it that you’ll only believe it when a certain somebody says so?”
Hearing this, Jiang YanLi’s face grew even redder, all the way until her snowy white earlobes. Even the pink of her blush couldn’t hide it. She quickly switched the subject, “A-Xian… Give a courtesy name.”
Wei WuXian, “What courtesy name?”
Jiang Cheng, “The courtesy name of my unborn nephew.”
The marriage hadn’t happened yet and they were already giving a courtesy name to their future nephew. However, Wei WuXian didn’t find anything strange about it. He didn’t show any modesty at all, saying after a while of thought, “Sure. The next generation of the LanlingJin Sect is named Ru. How about Jin RuLan?”
Jiang YanLi, “That’s great!”
Jiang Cheng, “No. It sounds like Jin RuLan, Lan being the Lan from the Lan Sect. Why should a descendant of the LanlingJin Sect and the YunmengJiang Sect be like someone of the Lan Sect?”
Wei WuXian, “It’s not like there’s anything wrong with the Lan Sect, is there? The Lan flower is the gentleman of flowers; the Lan Sect is the gentlemen of people. A good name.”
Jiang Cheng, “That’s not what you said in the past.”
Wei WuXian, “I’m the one who’s giving the name, not you. Why are you being so picky?”
Jiang YanLi hurried, “That’s enough. You know how A-Cheng is. He’s the one who came up with the idea of having you give the courtesy name. Both of you can stop fooling around. I brought soup for you two. Wait a second.”
She went inside the house to take out the jar. Wei WuXian and Jiang Cheng glanced at each other. A moment later, Jiang YanLi came out and gave them each a bowl. Then, she went inside again and brought out a third bowl, walked to the door, and turned to Wen Ning, “I’m sorry. There are only small bowls left. You can have this.”
Wen Ning had originally been guarding the door, looking at the ground. Seeing this, he was so flattered that he started stammering again, “Ah… Th-There’s some for me?”
Jiang Cheng wasn’t pleased, “Why does he get some too?”
Jiang YanLi, “I brought so much anyways. Anyone who sees it gets some.”
Wen Ning replied hesitantly, “Thank you, Maiden Jiang… Thank you.”
Cupping the small, filled up bowl in his hands, he was too embarrassed to say thank you, but he couldn’t drink it. It was a waste to give him some. Dead people didn’t eat. Jiang YanLi, however, noticed his awkwardness. She asked him a couple of things and began to chat with Wen Ning outside. Wei WuXian and Jiang Cheng stood in the yard.
Jiang Cheng raised up his bowl, “To the YiLing Patriarch.”
Hearing this, Wei WuXian remembered the proudly fluttering banner again. All that was in his head was the ten golden words ‘‘all hail the supreme Lord of Evil Patriarch of YiLing’, “Shut up!”
After he drank a mouthful, Jiang Cheng spoke, “How’s your wound from last time?”
Wei WuXian, “It healed a long time ago.”
Jiang Cheng, “Mn.” With a pause, he continued, “How many days?”
Wei WuXian, “Less than seven. I told you before. With Wen Qing, it was nothing difficult. But you really did fucking stab me.”
Jiang Cheng ate a piece of lotus root, “You were the one who smashed my arm first. You took seven days, while I had to hang my arm up for an entire month.”
Wei WuXian grinned, “How could it seem realistic if it wasn’t hard enough? It was your left hand anyways. It didn’t hinder you from writing. It takes a hundred days to heal a wound to the bone. It wouldn’t be too much even if you hung it up for three months.”
Wen Ning’s stuttering answers swept in from outside. After a while of silence, Jiang Cheng asked, “You’ll stay like this from now on? Got any plans?”
Wei WuXian, “Not at the moment. None of the group dares go down the mountain. People don’t dare do anything anything to me when I go down the mountain either. It’ll be fine as long as I don’t stir up trouble on my own.”
“On your own?” Jiang Cheng sneered, “Wei WuXian, do you believe that even if you don’t stir up trouble on your own, trouble won’t come and find you? It’s often impossible to save someone, but there are more than thousands of ways to harm someone.”
Wei WuXian replied as he ate, “A man with strength can defeat ten with skill. I don’t care if they have thousands of ways. I’ll kill whoever comes.”
Jiang Cheng spoke in a cool voice, “You never listen to any of my opinions. One day, you’ll come to understand that I’m the one who’s right.”
He drank the leftover soup in one gulp and stood up, “Wow. I’m impressed. Round of applause for the YiLing Patriarch.”
Wei WuXian spat out a bone, “Are you done yet?”
Before they parted, Jiang Cheng spoke, “We won’t see you off. It wouldn’t be good if someone saw us.”
Wei WuXian nodded. He understood that it wasn’t easy for the Jiang siblings to have come out here. If someone else saw them, all those things they did for the public to believe would be wasted. He spoke, “We’ll go first.”
After they went out the alley, Wei WuXian was still walking in front and Wen Ning was still following in silence. Suddenly, Wei WuXian turned around, “Why are you still holding the soup?”
“Huh?” Wen Ning answered in reluctance, “To take it back… I can’t drink it, but I can give it to someone else…”
“…” Wei WuXian, “Your choice. Be careful not to spill it.”
He turned around, knowing that it’d be a long time before he’d get to see the people he was familiar with again.
But… right now, wasn’t he on his way to seeing people he was familiar with as well?