Chapter 74: Distance—Part One
Translated by K of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
After the fight, because of Wen Ning’s brutally gruesome performance, a somewhat unfortunate nickname was given to him. That, however, would be a story for later. Although he was stabbed in the stomach by Jiang Cheng, Wei WuXian wasn’t concerned at all. He stuffed his intestines back into himself and like nothing ever happened, he even got Wen Ning to hunt down a few malign spirits as he bought a few large bags of potatoes.
When he returned to Burial Mound, Wen Qing bandaged his wound and scolded him as fiercely as possible, because it was radish seeds that she told him to buy.
After this, there came a number of ordinary days, when everyone lived in peace with one another. On Burial Mound, heading fifty-or-so of the Wen Sect’s cultivators, Wei WuXian planted vegetables, repaired houses, refined corpses, and made new tools. Every day when he was free, he played with the toddler Wen Yuan, son of Wen Qing’s cousin. He either let him hang on trees or buried him in the ground, fooling him that he’d grow faster if he was watered and bathed in sunlight. Then, he was scolded by Wen Qing again.
A few months passed like this. Aside from how the world’s comments on Wei WuXian worsened even more, there was no progress.
Wei WuXian couldn’t go down the mountain often. Since he was the only one who suppressed all of the dark beings of Burial Mound, he couldn’t venture too far or too long. Yet he was born an active person who couldn’t stay in one place for an extended amount of time. He could only roam around the town time after time, his excuse being to purchase necessities. With how long Wen Yuan had been on the mountain for, Wei WuXian felt that they couldn’t lock a child in such a place to play with mud all the time, and so one day, when he was shopping down the mountain, he took him along as well.
Having been to the town so many times, Wei WuXian was already familiar with it. He found his way to the vegetable vendor. Suddenly, he grabbed one and bristled, “Your potato is sprouting!”
The vendor seemed to have encountered a great enemy, “What do you want?!”
Wei WuXian, “How about a bit cheaper?”
In the beginning, Wen Yuan was still holding onto his leg. Wei WuXian walked back and forth, picking out potatoes and bargaining. Hanging on his leg, Wen Yuan felt tired just a while later. His short arms were sore, so he let go to rest for a bit. Yet, in just a few moments, the rush of the people on the streets made him reel left and right, losing his sense of direction. His line of sight was quite low. He walked here and there, but couldn’t find Wei WuXian’s long legs and black boots. Everything in front of his eyes were pants so grimey that they were the color of dirt. He grew more and more petrified. As he spun around dizzily, he bumped into someone’s leg.
The person wore a pair of white, immaculate boots and was walking slowly to begin with. Having been bumped into, he immediately stopped.
Wen Yuan looked up, jittering. First he saw a jade pendant hanging from the person’s waist, then a sash belt embroidered with patterns of drifting clouds, then neat lapels without a single fold in them, and finally a pair of eyes as light as stained glass, as cold as winter frost.
Face solemn, the stranger looked down at him. Wen Yuan suddenly felt scared.
On the other hand, Wei WuXian picked and chose for a long time before finally deciding not to buy these sprouted potatoes. He might be poisoned if he ate them, but the vendor still refused to lower the price, only giving him a contemptuous humph. Turning around, though, he realized that Wen Yuan was gone. He almost turned pale, searching for the toddler all along the streets. Suddenly, he heard the wails of a child, and he immediately rushed over. Somewhere not far away, a group of nosey passerbys gathered into a bustling circle, pointing at something and chattering among themselves. He shoved through the crowds, and his eyes lit up at once.
Lan WangJi, clothed in white and carrying Bichen on his back, stood frozen amid the crowd’s encirclement. He even seemed somewhat at a loss. When he took another look, Wei WuXian laughed so hard that he almost tripped over himself. A little kid sat collapsed before Lan WangJi’s feet, bawling his eyes out. Lan WangJi could neither stay nor leave, neither reach out nor talk to him. With a serious expression on his face, he seemed to be thinking about what to do.
One of the passerbys spoke up, nibbling on melon seeds, “What’s happenin’ here? The young’un cried so hard it scared me to death.”
Someone commented assuredly, “He was definitely scolded by his dad.”
Hiding in the crowd as he heard the words ‘his dad’, Wei WuXian almost exploded with laughter. Lan WangJi immediately looked up, denying it, “I am not.”
Wen Yuan didn’t know what the people were talking about. When children were scared, they always called out to those they were close to. And so, sobbing, he called, “Dad! Dad…”
A passerby spoke up at once, “Listen! Told you he’s his dad!”
Some felt that they had good eyes, “Definitely his dad. Their noses look as if they’re carved out of the same mold. There’s no doubt!”
Some were sympathetic, “How poor. Look at how he’s crying. Was he scolded by his dad?”
Some were confused, “What’s going on over there? Could you move? My carriage can’t go through.”
Some scolded, “He doesn’t even know to pick the child up and make him feel better! So he’s just letting his son cry on the ground? What a dad!”
Some showed their understanding, “Look at how young he is. First time being a dad, huh? Back then I was like this too. I didn’t know anything. He’ll get it after his wife bears him a few more. We all had to take our time…”
Some tried to comfort the child, “Good boy, don’t cry. Where’s your mom?”
“Yeah, where’s the mom? The dad doesn’t do anything, so where’s his mom?”
Amid the flooding noise, Lan WangJi’s expression grew stranger and stranger.
How unfortunate that he’d been a chosen one ever since he was born. Everything he did was more righteous than righteous, more exemplar than exemplar. He’d never been put in a situation where everyone was pointing at him. Wei WuXian had already laughed to his death, but as he saw how Wen Yuan was crying so hard that he was almost choking, he could only step out.
Pretending that he only just saw the two, he spoke in a surprised tone, “Huh? Lan Zhan?”
Lan WangJi looked up with force. The two’s eyes met with each other’s. Wei WuXian himself didn’t know why either, but he averted his gaze quickly. Hearing his voice, though, Wen Yuan got up at once. Dragging two long, flowing trails of tears behind him, he hung onto Wei Wuxian’s leg again.
The crowd went on, “Who is this? Where’s the mom? Just where on Earth is the mom? Which one is the dad anyways?”
Wei WuXian waved his hand, “It’s over, it’s over.”
Seeing that their fun had ended, the passerbys finally scattered slowly. Wei WuXian turned around and smiled, “What a coincidence. Lan Zhan, why are you at Yiling?”
Lan WangJi, “A night-hunt. I passed by.”
Hearing that his voice was no different from before, without any sense of hatred or enmity, Wei WuXian finally felt a part of him relax. He suddenly heard Lan WangJi speak up, “… The child?”
Wei WuXian’s mouth moved on its own as soon as his heart was settled, lying, “Mine.”
Lan WangJi’s brows twitched. Wei WuXian laughed, “Of course I’m joking. He’s someone else’s. I took him out to play. What did you do? How come you made him cry?”
Lan WangJi’s voice was indifferent, “I did not do anything.”
Wen Yuan hugged Wei WuXian’s leg. He was still sobbing. Wei WuXian understood. Although Lan WangJi’s face looked pretty, such a young child was still unable to tell the beautiful from the not. He could only tell that this person wasn’t friendly at all. In fact, he was cold and seemed to be quite strict. Frightened by the bitter expression, it was only natural that he felt scared. Wei WuXian picked Wen Yuan up and played with him for a while, turning him over and over, and said a few comforting words.
Suddenly, he saw that a street vendor was still laughing as he looked at them, so he pointed at the colorful things in the baskets that he carried on two ends of a pole, asking, “A-Yuan, look over here. Aren’t they pretty?”
Wen Yuan’s focus was shifted. He sniffed, “… Yeah.”
Wei WuXian, “Don’t they smell nice?”
Wen Yuan, “Yeah.”
The vendor quickly added, “Looks pretty and smells nice—Young Master, buy one, won’t you?”
Wei WuXian, “Do you want one?”
Wen Yuan thought that he was going to buy one for him. He spoke embarrassedly, “Yeah.”
Yet, Wei WuXian walked in the opposite direction, “Haha, let’s go.”
Wen Yuan seemed to be shocked. Tears filled his eyes again. Having been watching the scene unfold, Lan WangJi finally couldn’t bear it any longer, “Why did you not buy one for him?”
Wei WuXian mused, “Why should I buy one for him?”
Lan WangJi, “You asked him whether he wanted one or not. Did it not mean that you would buy one for him?”
Wei WuXian answered purposely, “Asking and buying are two different things—why should I have to buy it for him if I asked?”
With such a rhetorical question, Lan WangJi was surprisingly at a lost for words. He glared at him for a long while before he turned to Wen Yuan. Due to his stare, Wen Yuan started shaking again.
A moment later, Lan WangJi asked Wen Yuan, “Which one… do you want?”
Wen Yuan hadn’t understood what was going on yet. Lan WangJi pointed at the things in the vendor’s baskets, “Of the things here, which one do you want?”
Wen Yuan stared at him in terror. He didn’t even dare let out a single breath.
An hour later, Wen Yuan finally stopped crying. He kept on feeling his pockets, stuffed full of the playthings that Lan WangJi bought for him. Seeing that his tears finally stopped, Lan WangJi seemed to be relieved. Yet, with a blushing face, Wen Yuan snuck over quietly and wrapped his arms around his leg.
Looking down, Lan WangJi saw the extra object on his leg, “…”
Wei WuXian laughed madly, “Hahahahaha! Lan Zhan, congratulations! He’s taken a liking to you! He hugs the leg of whoever he likes, and he never lets go.”
Lan WangJi walked a few steps forward. As Wei WuXian said, Wen Yuan clung onto his leg steadily, not at all intending to let go. The hug was quite tight as well.
Wei WuXian patted his shoulder, “In my opinion, you can save your night-hunting for later. How about we get some food first?”
Lan WangJi looked up at him, his tone unwavering, “Get some food?”
Wei WuXian, “Yeah, get some food. Don’t be so cold, will you? You finally came to Yiling for once and I happened to run into you. Let’s reminisce the past together. Come, it’s my treat.”
With Wei WuXian dragging him and Wen Yuan clinging to his leg, Lan WangJi was finally shoved into a restaurant. Wei WuXian sat down in the private room, “Go ahead, order.”
Lan WangJi was pushed onto the sitting mat. Glancing at the menu, he replied, “You can order.”
Wei WuXian, “I’m treating you, so of course you’re the one ordering. Order whatever you like. Don’t be so polite.” Good thing he didn’t buy the poisonous sprouted potatoes so now he had the money to pay. Lan WangJi wasn’t someone who liked to decline things too many times, either. After some thought, he ordered.
Wei WuXian heard him say the names of a few dishes monotonously and laughed, “Not bad, Lan Zhan. I thought you folks from Gusu don’t eat spicy things. You have quite a strong palate, don’t you? You want a drink?”
Lan WangJi shook his head. Wei WuXian, “Still sticking to the rules even when you’re outside—exactly what to be expected of HanGuang-Jun. I’m not ordering for you, then.”
Wen Yuan sat beside Lan WangJi’s leg. He took out wooden sabers, wooden swords, clay dolls, grass butterflies, and the other toys inside his pockets and put them onto the mat, counting them in delight. Seeing how he stuck to Lan WangJi and rubbed against him so that he couldn’t even have a sip of tea properly, Wei WuXian whistled and called out, “A-Yuan, come here.”
A-Yuan looked at Wei WuXian, who had just planted him in the soil like a radish two days ago. Then, he looked at Lan WangJi, who just now bought him the big pile of toys. He didn’t shift at all, and on his face was written the large word, ‘No.’
Wei WuXian, “Come here. If you sit there you’ll be in his way.”
Lan WangJi, however, spoke, “It is fine. Let him sit.”
Happily, Wen Yuan clung onto his leg again. This time, it was his thigh. Wei WuXian spun his chopsticks in his hand, laughing, “Those with milk is Mother, those with gold is Father—how can this be?”
(If you are reading this on any site other than ExiledRebelsScanlations, then you are reading a STOLEN work. Please read at the original site.)
Soon, the wine and the dishes arrived. It was a sea of fiery red, along with a bowl of sweet soup Lan WangJi ordered for Wen Yuan. Knocking his bowl, Wei WuXian called a couple of times, but Wen Yuan was still looking down, holding two butterflies and mumbling. At times he pretended to be the one on the left, saying shyly ‘I… I really like you’; at times he pretended to be the one on the right, saying happily ‘I really like you too!’ Being two butterflies at the same time, he seemed to be having lots of fun.
Listening to this, Wei WuXian almost choked from laughter, convulsing, “Good Heavens, A-Yuan, where did a young boy like you learn such things? You like me, I like you and all that—do you even know what liking someone means? Stop playing. Come eat. Your new dad got you this. It’s good.”
A-Yuan finally put the butterflies back inside his pockets. With bowl and spoon, he drank the soup mouthful after mouthful, still sitting beside Lan WangJi. Before this, Wen Yuan was at the detention camp in Qishan, and then he moved to Burial Mound. The meals at both of those places were so bad that they were difficult to put into words. Thus, to him, the bowl of sweet soup was already a new delight.
Wen Yuan couldn’t stop after just a few mouthfuls, yet he still knew to give the bowl to Wei WuXian, speaking as though he was presenting him with a treasure, “… Brother Xian… Xian eat.”
Wei WuXian seemed to like it a lot, “Yes, very good. So you do know what filial piety means.”
Lan WangJi, “Speech is forbidden when dining.”
For Wen Yuan to understand, he repeated it again using simpler language, “Do not talk when you are eating.”
Wen Yuan quickly nodded and buried himself in the soup, not saying anything anymore. Wei WuXian exclaimed, “How can this be? He only listens to me after I repeat myself a couple of times, yet he does whatever you say after just once. Really, how can this be?”
Lan WangJi’s voice was indifferent, “Speech is forbidden when dining. You too.”
Grinning, Wei WuXian drank a cup and toyed with the liquor cup in his hand, “You really… don’t change no matter how many years have passed. Hey, Lan Zhan, why did you come to Yiling? I’m familiar with things here. You want me to show you the way?”
Lan WangJi, “There is no need.”
Cultivational sects often had secret tasks that they didn’t want others to know about. And so, Wei WuXian didn’t push for an answer either, “I finally met someone I knew from before, one who didn’t try to avoid me as well. It’s been so stuffy for the past couple of days. Did anything big happen outside?”
Lan WangJi, “What would count as something big?”
Wei WuXian, “Like if a new sects appeared somewhere, if a sect expanded its residence, if any sects formed alliances with one another, and so on. Chatting, you know? Anything is fine.”
He hadn’t heard of news from the outside after he and Jiang Cheng fell out. The most he heard was from the random conversations in the town.
Lan WangJi, “An arranged marriage.”
Wei WuXian, “Which sects?”
Lan WangJi, “The LanlingJin Sect and the YunmengJiang Sect.”
The hand that Wei WuXian was toying the liquor cup with froze in mid air.
He was stunned, “My shi-… Maiden Jiang and Jin ZiXuan?”
Lan WangJi nodded softly. Wei WuXian inquired, “When will it be? When’s the ceremony?!”
Lan WangJi, “In seven days.”
Hand shaking lightly, Wei WuXian put the cup to his lips, but he didn’t realize that he finished it already. He felt a bit empty inside, not knowing whether it was anger, shock, displeasure, or helplessness.
Although he had been expecting this to happen long before he left the Jiang Sect, having heard the news so suddenly, endless words were bottled up inside of his chest, ready to be let out all at once but not knowing how to escape. Jiang Cheng didn’t even find some way to tell him such an important thing. If not for him having met Lan WangJi today, it was likely that he wouldn’t know this until even later!
However, as he thought about it again, he asked himself—what would happen if he knew about it? On the surface, Jiang Cheng announced to the world what all of the sects believed already—that Wei WuXian defected from the sect and that he would no longer be affiliated with the YunmengJiang Sect. Even if he knew, he wouldn’t be able to attend their wedding banquet. It was right that Jiang Cheng didn’t tell him. If Jiang Cheng were the one to tell him, he didn’t even know what impulsive things he would’ve done.
Wei WuXian finally murmured, a while later, “Jin ZiXuan was let off the hook way too easily.” He poured another cup of liquor, “Lan Zhan, what do you think of this marriage?”
Lan WangJi didn’t say anything. Wei WuXian, “Oh, that’s right. Why did I ask you? What thoughts could you have on the matter anyways? It’s not like you ever think about these things.”
He drank the liquor in one gulp, “I know that behind their backs, lots of people say that my shijie doesn’t deserve Jin ZiXuan, ha. In my eyes, though, Jin ZiXuan is the one who doesn’t deserve my shijie. But she had to…”
But Jiang YanLi had to fall in love with Jin ZiXuan.
Wei WuXian slammed the cup onto the table, “Lan Zhan! Do you know? My shijie, she deserves the best person in the world.”
He slammed the table. On his slightly drunk face was pride, “We’ll make this grand banquet one that everyone admires and praises, even after a hundred years. None would be able to compare to it. I’ll watch my shijie married with absolute splendor.”
Lan WangJi, “Mn.”
Wei WuXian laughed bitterly, “Why did you answer? I won’t be able to watch it anymore.”
At this point, having finished the soup, sitting on the mat, Wen Yuan began to play with the grass butterflies again. The long antennas of the two butterflies got tangled together and couldn’t be taken apart no matter what. Seeing how anxious he was, Lan WangJi took the butterflies from his hands and untangled the four butterfly antennas in just a few moments. He returned it to Wen Yuan.
Seeing this, Wei WuXian finally averted his attention, managing a smile, “A-Yuan, stop rubbing with your face. There’s still soup at your mouth. It’ll dirty his clothes.”
Lan WangJi took out a white handkerchief and expressionlessly wiped off the soup at the corner of Wen Yuan’s mouth. Wei WuXian joked, “Lan Zhan, what a surprise. I never knew that you’re good with children. If you treat him just a bit better, I doubt he’d be willing to go back with me…”
Suddenly, Wei WuXian’s expression changed. He took out a talisman from his lapels, yet the talisman was burning already. It turned into ashes not long after Wei WuXian took it out. Lan WangJi’s gaze hardened.
Wei WuXian stood up at once, “Oh no.”
The talisman was the core of a warning array that he set up on Burial Mound. If something happened on Burial Mound after he left, like if the array was broken or if blood was shed, the talisman would ignite on its own to warn him of the incident.
Wei WuXian sandwiched Wen Yuan between his arm and his body, “Excuse me, Lan Zhan, I have to go back!”
Something fell from Wen Yuan’s pocket. He called out, “Butter… Butterfly!”
With him in his arm, Wei WuXian had already rushed outside the restaurant. Soon, a white shadow swept by him. Lan WangJi seemed to have followed them out as well, walking beside them. Wei WuXian, “Lan Zhan? Why are you following us?”
Lan WangJi put into Wen Yuan’s palm the butterfly that he dropped. He didn’t answer the question, but instead asked, “Why do you not mount your sword?”
Wei WuXian, “Forgot to bring it!”
Without saying anything, Lan WangJi took him by his waist and brought him onto Bichen as they rose into the air. Wen Yuan was too young to have been on a flying sword before. Although he would’ve been extremely scared, because Bichen was exceptionally steady, he didn’t feel any bumpiness at all. The people on the streets were shocked by the three who decided to fly into the air without a second of hesitation, looking up at their figures. And so, Wen Yuan felt nothing but curiosity and excitement, cheering loudly.
Wei WuXian let out a breath of relief, “Thank you!”
Lan WangJi, “Which way?”
Wei WuXian gestured, “Over there!”