Chapter 1: Last day, sad day
Being melancholic and busy
There's some deleted sentence that didn't quite fit in at the end note. If you want to read it.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The birds in the aviary varied. Their cages big and delicately patterned. Gold, silver, red, emerald, bronze. Those are some of the colours of the cages in the aviary. Nie Huaisang thought that having some colour in his favourite place will help him feel content. However, those colour remains a pigment saturated in iron. It can’t help brightened his life or his view of life anymore.
For so long he had schemed his way to victory. To the death of Jin Guangyao. He had managed to resurrect his best friend, Wei Wuxian, whom had help him tracked and retrieved his brother’s body after he discovered that it was missing.
It still serves as a nightmare in one of the long nights. The image of Nie Mingjue on the threshold, holding Baxia and exuded resentment and killing intent so potent Nie Huaisang felt like he might just die from that.
The aftermath was unexpected.
He didn’t mean for Lan Xichen to struck the final blow.
It was supposed to be him.
There was supposed to be no one else on that temple except for them both –Nie Huaisang and Jin Guangyao (probably with an addition of Su She)- and Nie Huaisang will be the one to finally fulfil his revenge in killing that double-faced bastard that had dared to kill his da-ge but Wei Wuxian had tampered with his plan, along with Lan Xichen, Lan Wangji, Jin Ling, and the ever angry Jiang Cheng. Oh! And all those fake monks.
He already had everything ready. The Soul Crushing talisman, the Portal talisman. His war fan was also polished and sharpened. He only had to be there and proceed with his plan. He had calculated that he’ll probably never walk out of there alive, so, he didn’t think much before he followed the other idiot cultivator up the mountain. That syrup with red food colouring really served it’s purpose of looking like blood. He can’t risk having his spiritual energy drained, he worked hard to cultivate to use those portal talismans.
But it didn’t go as planned, so he had to improvised and let Su She captured him instead. The hit that Su She used to make Nie Huaisang faint doesn’t even hurt. He had to opt for silently being dragged instead.
Nie Huaisang sigh.
Now, there was nothing else to do. His sect is managed well. His heir had been decided and currently in training with Nie Zonghui, his most trusted advisor. He didn’t know what he’s waiting for anymore.
If only it will be so swift.
He had given up on that long ago.
Is he lonely?
He had hoped that finally having his revenge will give him satisfaction. He didn’t want happiness, just satisfaction. Of managing to kill the person responsible for years of torment and scheming, years of being humiliated and being undercover, years of miserable nights and being in pain because he had to build his immune system to poisons.
He felt cold.
Now that his revenge is fulfilled, he’d liked to think that he made it. He’d like for his life to move on to the next chapter now, since he didn’t end up dead.
But he didn’t know what to do anymore. He had lived longer than da-ge. He never even knew he’d be able to do that. Outliving his brother.
He let out a soft, wistful laugh and walk out of the aviary, the birds no longer distracting him from his sorrow and the melancholic air surrounding him. So, he goes to the cliff that used to be his favourite painting spot. He remembered da-ge scolding him here, when he had to drag Nie Huaisang back to the fortress because it’s gotten dark and he got distracted with painting. He missed da-ge. He missed their banter. He missed laughing with his brother. He missed being childish. He missed his innocence. He missed his smile. He missed life.
He didn’t know how to live anymore.
It’s weird. He spent years, almost two decades, on revenge and on the way to fulfil that particular thirst, it was filled with secrets, lost connections, and weird techniques that will guarantee he lived. How to survive. How to fight. How to look harmless. He had to stay alive. But he hadn’t lived. Not how he wanted.
He sighed again, right hands holding a beautiful war fan. Perhaps, when he died, when that day comes, he’ll finally found peace.
After his brooding session end, Nie Huaisang found himself seated at the Sect Leader table, reading and writing correspondents. He never liked doing sect leader jobs. It was exhausting and it reminded him of his abrupt adulthood. Where he had to catch up with other Sect Leaders, who had years of experience (or advisors that help them manage the sect), when he had no clue what to do as he hadn’t been trained for it like his brother.
Nie Zonghui helped but by the time Nie Huaisang is really good at his job, the well-cultivated façade of “The Useless Head-shaker” had already stuck with the whole cultivation world. Nie Huaisang find no reason to stop that so he spread even more rumours as he worked behind the scene. Acting, spying, collecting, and finding more information about his brother’s murderer.
It had been satisfying when Jin Guangyao’s name had been tainted. The pleasure alone could keep him awake for days but Nie Zonghui would drug him if he ever finds Nie Huaisang seated in the Discussion Room more than he should be and Nie Huaisang had build tolerance to poisons, not drugs.
It had happened. Nie Huaisang is not proud of it. It is funny, but doesn’t mean he liked it. He couldn’t sleep most days, so he filled it with working his ass off. He couldn’t understand why Nie Zhonghui had such an inclination to make him sleep and eat regularly.
He is a cultivator, damn it! He can live with less.
Alas, Nie Zonghui and his inner guards are all loyal people. He pretended for their sake even though his soul tormented him for being weak.
Hours later, after the last of the correspondents are answered, Nie Huaisang found his back stiff from sitting too long and his fingers cramping up from holding the brush. His neck is no better. He is one giant (tiny) sore organ. Everywhere hurts and with that, he finally retired.
He changed from his ‘Sect Leader’ grey and green robes, the colour of the Nie sect, to a simpler light grey silk sleeping garments. Finally free from the heaviness of the day clothes.
He released his hair from it’s intricate braids and jewels and walk to his bed (a simple wooden bed filled with mountains of pillows to keep him warm, a habit that he hadn’t managed to let go since he was a child).
As he closed his eyes, he wished he could do something to change his fate. His fate and everyone around him. And above all else, he’d like to be the one to kill Jin Guangyao himself. Not someone that will let him get away with multiple murder charges. Not someone that will forgive that bastard for all the crime he did because he trusted his innocence and reasons even though evidence shows otherwise.
Deleted from the original work
Is he lonely? Terribly so. Life as a schemer isolated him from everybody –but it also exposed him to a lot of things as well- and he couldn’t find it in him to let someone near his body. To feel another person close to him. He couldn’t afford to be careless in his mission and he couldn’t afford to break character.
Chapter 2: First day in the past… or is it the future?
Nie Huaisang is now in his former delicate body.
There's some deleted sentence that didn't quite fit in.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
He woke up with a start. He heard noises in the hallways.
Nie Huaisang furrowed his brows and put the back of his hand over his eyes.
‘Why is everyone so lively this early in the morning?’ he thought. It was weird. It was usually so quiet or if it was a little loud –the servants cleaning or something- he would be able to ignore it and let it fade to the background.
This sound is not normal.
It was the sound of people bustling around and about. Some shouting could be heard. Outside his room. In the morning. While it was a weekend. He thought he’d like to put off the latest correspondents –which he’s sure are already piling up again despite last night’s attempt to clear the table- but it seemed like the servant also thought he should get up.
Well, get up he will.
He swung a leg off the bed. Sigh softly. Swung another leg off the bed. Another sigh. Then, he groaned as he dragged his body up so it stays upright. He sighed again.
He was not looking forward to today’s sect business. He wishes he died in that Guanyin Temple.
He opens his eyes and was shocked to find him in a room that is not his. Well, to be precise, it was his, but he had left this extravagant behind in his twenties while he was investigating the trail that Jin Guangyao had left behind, too worn out and worried to take care of his personal belongings as meticulous as he used too.
In front of him is his, once upon a time, private screen. Beautiful, painted private screen that he had accidentally broke when the war with Qishan Wen broke out. It was painted with the view of his favourite cliff. The colour soothing and calming him.
Speaking of calm, his body didn’t even ache. Which was strange.
Nie Huaisang had pushed his body hard and trained it to withstand attacks. To withstand being stabbed. Build up his pain tolerance. It was in constant ache, one way or another, somewhere, somehow. It had never left ever since his brother died. Why is it gone now?
Then, it registered in his brain that he is looking at small hands. Small hands that once belonged to him. Soft, white hands. Fingers nimble and free of callouses, slightly pink from when he gripped the edge of the bed too tight when he realised where he was.
How can this be? Is this real? Am I dreaming? Why am I so small?
He looks around and realised with frightening trepidation that he had, someway, somehow, woke up in his younger body. He needed to confirm this. If he’s really back, he can take precautions and save everybody.
Well, everyone except Jin Guangyao. Well, and others that had been the catalysts to his brother’s death and the death of so many others.
He got up and donned his usual elaborate robes, the way he used to when he was young and braid his hair the way his older self used to, the intricate braids and jewels complimenting the robes he chose. He felt weird but less so as he saw his baby-fat-filled face. He hadn’t seen that face in decades. He forgot what it feels like to have a choice.
The choice to live. The choice to love.
He hadn’t chosen anything since his brother died except once. He chose to avenge his brother. And from there, he had to act accordingly. Planted spies among the sects, paid traders and merchants to gain intel, resurrect his best friend, put a lot of people in danger, even led some junior cultivators into Yi City so they can discover Xue Yang. In hindsight, all those things could be counted as his choice, but it didn’t. He had to make them believe that he’s useless. That he knows nothing about the competition of the court amongst the sects. He had to make them believe that he’s clueless so he can continue with his investigations.
All those choices he made under one major choice didn’t count.
Quite silly that satisfaction over choosing his own favourite robes and hairstyles –clashes through decades, mind you- can make him turn into a philosopher. Suddenly thinking of everything as a reminder that he has to do better in this lifetime.
He felt a flutter in his stomach. An emotion that he didn’t know what to make of. Just a simple hairstyle and robes can make him feel like this. Solely because he had no other reason to choose it but because he knew he wants to. It felt good. All those ramblings are weird but it felt good to have a choice. Does it make sense?
He rubbed his cheeks with his hands. It felt so soft. Was he like this all the time when he was younger? Soft and delicate? It was weird. He’s used to sharp cheekbones and chiselled face. Dark eye-bags and sunken cheeks, it takes forever to cover it up with make up. Now, he looked so innocent. So elegant and untainted.
How old is he?
He walked to a collection of fans. He had beautifully painted ones to mark each of his birthdays.
The Gusu landscape fan are missing. The plum blossom fans are also gone. Which can only mean that he’s supposed to go to Gusu in two years. Which means he’s 13. Which means he had a lot of time to change everything before it even set out in motion. He should train. He knows where to get his war fan. He can set everything straight.
How good it feels to have fate on his side and grant his wishes for once!
With a beautiful fan that complemented the robes he adorned in hand, he walks away from his fan collection and went to the door only to stopped short. His mind blanked out.
Even without a mirror, he can already tell that his face had gone back to its usual blank expression. Eyes cold and calculating. How did he use to act when he was younger? Before the war? Before the fights between the sects? Before his brother’s murder? Before the loss of innocence had gripped his heart in a tight, cold, iron shackles? Before everything? How?
Ah, he had been a happy child, once. Carefree and witty. Innocent and kind. Nice and flamboyant. Happy and mischievous. Stubborn and manipulative, too, though it is not as strong as it is now. He had honed and polish that technique so he never made the mistake of falling for another’s manipulations as he grew older and his heart, colder.
Now that he’s older, he felt so jaded and have no patience for childish thoughts. How can he act like he used to? He’s so used to faking every reaction and emotions that the only thing he’s sure is his emotions are his grief, numbness, sadness, and emptiness.
Oh, well. He’s used to being fake anyway. He can do this! He can face the world!
He took a deep breath and open the door.
The first sight that greeted him is the servants. They were running around cleaning doors, wiping windows, sweeping the floor, changing the curtain, hanging decorations.
Is something going on? What is happening?
He walks out and close his door. Flipped his fan open and walk. He observes from behind his fan. Watching the servant do their job diligently.
They reminded him of his own servant in the other life. He had thanked his servants before because they were always hardworking. All the chores are done perfectly and every nooks and crannies are free of dust. He hoped his cousins also does the same. Nie Sect servants are one of the best in the cultivation world! Why? Not only do they clean well, they are also loyal to the Nie sect. How did he know? Because he had run tests and spread rumours soon after Nie Mingjue had died (read: experimented on) to test the wandering servants in his sect and the information never made it out of the fortress.
He had the best home ever and he swears he will protect it even if he had to die trying. Head-shaker be damned. He kept stability and harmony in Qinghe better than other sects. Others were too blind to see it.
The Unclean Realm had been his home since forever and his heart ache at how livelier it used to be. Before Nie Mingjue died. His heart constricts in his chest.
He stopped for a moment and took a deep breath to steady his nerves.
All these gloomy thoughts and hadn’t once he thought of seeing his brother. Is he well? Had he eaten? Is he in pain? Has anyone hurt him? Where is he?
The instinct to protect his brother had been strong in his first life. Now that he got a second chance, he’ll make sure Nie Mingjue is safe.
He fanned his face as he tried to gain composure. Being in a child’s body again is weird. Some emotions can’t be controlled. It tends to gripe him hard. It is hard to plaster the perfect face on.
Want to or not, he’ll have to adapt quickly.
First things, first. Finding out what’s the occasion.
He grabbed a passing servant –who looked shocked at the cold gaze on such a cheerful face before- and asked in a low voice, “What’s with the decorations?”
“I-It’s your birthday today, Second Young Master.” The servant stuttered, looking at Nie Huaisang a bit weirdly. Nie Huaisang nodded in understanding and muttered a small ‘thank you’ before he let the servant go.
Now, that that’s settled. With the new information given, he now had an inkling that he’ll have to sit through a painful birthday celebration with the remaining members of his family. He’s sure that his cousins (some good, some bad), his aunts and uncles (some tried to usurped his position, keyword, tried), the elders (half had died in Nightless City), the disciples (mostly nameless and appreciated), and selected members of other sects will also attend.
He can already feel the fatigue of today’s events before it even starts. Perhaps he should rethink this opportunity?
On second thought, he had to have a conversation with Yao Zongzhu in the past. He can put up with a few fake pleasantries with his family. They’ll be easily fooled.
Now, the second thing. Where is his brother? Where is da-ge?
With a mission in mind, he set up to find his brother.
Someone might notice if he mourned more than he should –as if mourning had a time limit- and he had already made up his mind to avenge his brother already.
Chapter 3: Knowledge of the past
Nie Huaisang think of the knowledge that he had and finally reconcile/reunited with da-ge!
There's some deleted paragraph if you're interested. Idk if there'll be more in the future.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Nie Huaisang found Nie Mingjue in the Banquet Hall.
When he saw him, his stride stopped with a stumble. His brother looks healthy. Not a hair out of place. The Nie braid was weaved proudly on his hair. Shiny and well-groomed with splashes of jewel here and there. Instead of his usual battle-ready armour, he had donned his best robe, with the prettiest jade pendant. He looked dignified. Fierce but trustworthy. Rough but gentle. Battle-harden but diplomatic.
Nie Huaisang’s heart hurt. Seeing Nie Mingjue alive had been a relief and a grief. Relieved, that he lived now. Grieved, that he died so painfully in the the other life.
Nie Huaisang wants to run and hug him but he knows he’ll cause a scene. He used to cause a scene in his first life, though he no longer finds it funny now. Now, he understands, even then he had understood that acting like that only brings shame to Nie Mingjue. To the Nie Sect. He didn’t think his stomach could handle that right now.
He turns around to leave for his favourite cliff to pass the time. If he remembers correctly, there had been a small accident involving him and Jin Zixun when the Jin sect arrived. It had caused a delay and an embarrassment to Nie Mingjue as a host. If he left, he won’t cause it, and Nie Mingjue will be fine.
The cliff is as beautiful as it ever was. Come spring or winter, autumn or summer, the view is always breath-taking. The sky is blue and clear, the faraway mountains, clouds, and river painted a beautiful scenery. There’s a few birds around, on the trees. Used to seeing Nie Huaisang painting at this spot, so they didn’t leave.
Nie Huaisang put his hand over his chest. The ache made him quite irritated but he knew if he wants to make it stop, he had to do it right from the start. Should he manoeuvre it from behind the scene like he did before? Doing that might make him lose some control over the situation, though. He need to be in control.
His excellence with the war fan had to be kept a secret. No one can know about that. Well, maybe except Nie Mingjue. His brother is easiest to work with when honesty is at the forefront of his argument. He didn’t know if he can do it or even convince his brother but he’s a 38 years old man in a 14 years old body, damn it! He’ll make do with what he had.
Which is information. Information is vital in winning a war.
Nie sect resides in a fortress. His ancestors know the value in safety. Thus, the fortress of the Nie sect was built on the side of the mountain, surrounded by cliffs, mountains and rivers so as to make it harder for ambushes and sieges. Nie sect grow their own foods, breed their own horses, cattle their own kill, make their own clothes, and seldom did trades with other major sect. They did work with minor sects, though. Those around Qinghe are the strongest in connection. Water can be retrieved from the rivers. Thus, ensuring the safety of the people within the fortress.
Nie Huaisang had taken weeks studying the layout of the fortress. He had devised his own escape plan and had council with Nie Zonghui and Nie Wangrong (his inner circle guard from other life) and the escape plan is fail-proof. Nothing can go wrong with it.
Nie sect ancestors also knows the value in keeping his people strong. Thus, the first sect leader, a rouge cultivator, had cultivate using a sabre instead of swords like the majority of the cultivation world. The sabres are also infused with spirit, making the wielder stronger, albeit a little temperamental at times. However, the goal is to be strong. In times of war, a single Nie disciple can easily defeat ten people.
There’s a battle outside of Unclean Realm, where Nie Mingjue had found Jin Guangyao killing his own commanding officer and Nie Mingjue’s actions of exiling the bastard had been one of the catalysts to his brother’s death. That was before the major Sunshot Campaign. Wen Ruohan had been trying to eliminate Nie sect ever since Nie Mingjue and Nie Huaisang’s father died. There had been an outbreak here and there but it was easy to subdue those.
Wen Ruohan had been controlling puppets. Those Yin Iron is really the reason all of these even started. If Wen Ruohan hadn’t been so greedy, the cultivation world will still flourish with him as the Excellency.
Cloud Recesses was burnt. Many fled to the back mountains where they can be safe. Then, Lotus Pier was massacred and left a bloody ground. Jiang Zongzhu and Yu Furen died. Wei Wuxian had lost his golden core and start cultivating with Chenqing. Jiang Cheng got Wei Wuxian’s golden core. Then the ultimatum is, after all of those things had happened. All those sufferings. All those losses. The easiest way to kill someone is by stabbing their back.
Wen Ruohan had bid goodbye to the world after he trusted Jin Guangyao. So does almost everyone else. And he got recognition from his stupid father in the end. Good for him.
Then, the fear for Wei Wuxian and his power escalated. Jin Guangshan, that lecherous bastard had spread fear and rumours, scaring the public and cornering Wei Wuxian to Burial Mounds in Yiling when he protected some Wen. Wens that are thought to be powerful cultivators was actually elderly people, children, sick people. Jiang Yanli ended up marrying Jin Zixuan and having Jin Ling (Rulan). That had escalated to Qiongqi Path incident. The death of Jin Zixun and Jin Zixuan. Nie Huaisang thought the former, good riddance, the latter a sad coincidence. Not. Jin Guangyao had double-dipped his hands in that too. Eliminating the next heir in line will put him as the best candidate for being sect leader. Not.
Then Nie Mingjue shows early signs of a qi deviation. The devil had dipped his hands and foots into it too and told Lan Xichen. Lan Xichen, that spineless skeleton, actually trade a Lan sect secret technique and give it to the devil and the devil had his plans for that.
Simultaneously, the devil also commits incest and got a babe.
Then, Nie Mingjue died and Nie Huaisang’s teen years ended, marked by his brother’s blood and scars to remember them by. Then, he had to learn how to manage the sect. Had to struggle with stubborn elders while he mourned over the loss of his brother while none of his brother’s sworn brothers had extended a helping hand even though they had more experience in those matters. He had to come begging and they had to begrudgingly help. He had to cultivate a new image because he had found out that the sarcophagus that held Nie Mingjue had been empty. Baxia was also gone. Then, he started training in secret. Gathered his sect’s support and finally got his revenge after he shed blood and sweat and tears.
He’s so glad he had the knowledge of what was to come. More glad that his memory didn’t fail him. If anything, he remembers every single thing with clarity. He’ll save his brother and countless other’s lives as his redemption for trusting that double-dipping, butt-licking bastard. Let’s not forget the spineless skeleton. Nie Huaisang didn’t know what expressions his face will make if he ever saw that man again. Smack him till he sees stars? Beat him up until he sees sense? His utter loyalty and unwillingness to see the truth had partially cause all these events. If Nie Huaisang didn’t know that Lan Xichen is innocent, he’ll have him killed along with Jin Guanyao.
His habit of keeping a sharp observation of his surrounding hadn’t left him, thankfully, because he heard footsteps behind him. Judging by the heaviness of the sound, it was his brother.
“Huaisang? Is that you? What are you doing here?” he heard his brother said in that rough voice that he missed so much. For a moment, he wondered if he’ll cry in front of him.
Thankfully, he didn’t. He plastered a grin on his face and turn around to look at his brother, fan flipped open.
His brother looked just like he remembered. Up close, he can see those details he didn’t see when his brother was in the Banquet Hall. His hair that was braided professionally was laden with jewels of the Nie sect, befitting his role as Sect Leader. His face young, unblemished, and lively, no wrinkles were even there! No bloodshot eyes. No protruding veins. No blood. No pain. No fear. Eyes sharp and brows furrowed, face always stuck in a scowl whether he’s angry or not. Shoulder broader than he remembered. The hanging jade pendant turns out to be the Nie Sect gold pendant, one that he had inherited after Nie Mingjue died. This young body of his is really weak, can't even see something just a hundred zhang (1 zhang = 10 meters) away from where he stands.
His brother looked impeccable and dashing. And alive. The most important thing, his brother is alive!
His heart clench and his grin trembles but he holds onto his act. He can do better than this.
“Why, admiring the view of course!” he answered jovially, the way he remembered how he acted once upon a time in another life.
“The view is always the same. With time spent here, you could easily spend your time practicing and cultivating with your sabre instead.” Nie Mingjue chided. His chiding had annoyed Nie Huaisang in the past. Not anymore. He’d like to hear it every time his brother saw him with his favourite birds or painting. He’ll listen to it a thousand times and he swears he’d never get tired of it.
He laughed. “Ah, but where’s the fun in that, da-ge? I’d rather listen to the soft wind than the iron clashing.” He fanned himself coyly, still grinning at his brother, eyes carefully concealing his grief and aches.
His brother sigh but there’s a fond quirk at the corner of his mouth, one that he never observed before, too caught up in his youth energy. Now that he’s older, it’s easier to see that his brother actually loves him.
He’s not gentle, no, but he’s constant and unwavering. That’s the kind of love Nie Huaisang longs for.
“Why’d you looking for me, da-ge?” Nie Huaisang heard himself ask, hands still idly fanning himself, hair fluttering on his shoulders.
Nie mingjue looks at him weirdly. “The banquet. It’s your birthday, Huaisang. Don’t tell me you forget?” Nie Mingjue said exasperatedly. Hands coming up to run through his hair but halt when he remembers that he needed to keep it tidy and unruffled.
Nie Huaisang ‘ah’. “I actually forgot. No wonder I felt like there’s something I have to do but I don’t know what that is.” He gave a sheepish smile, fan covering half of his face in a show of his sorry.
Nie Mingjue only shook his head and let out a small chuckle. He then gestures for Nie Huaisang to follow him to the Banquet Hall.
Nie Huaisang is not ready for the event but he’ll endure it for his brother.
“When did you learn how to do that kind of braid?” he heard Nie Mingjue questioned.
“This?” Nie Huaisang gestures to his head. Nie Mingjue nodded, eye-ing it in wonder. The braids were difficult to manage but he had excelled in it only because he wore it when he stays at home. When there’s nothing to do but respond to correspondents. He had practiced it for more than 15 years. It was easy. “It was something I thought would look nice. So I experimented on it. Doesn’t it look good?”
Nie Mingjue put his right hand on top of Nie Huaisang’s head and pat it. Nie Huaisang, though uncomfortable with any form of touch since his brother died, preened under the touch. His smile more genuine than before.
“Very nice. I almost didn’t recognise you.” Nie Mingjue said succinctly. Nie Huaisang giggled and hide his face behind his fan. His face grimaced a little at the ache in his chest but he lowered the fan again and gave a huge smile to Nie Mingjue.
“Now. I want you to behave at the banquet. It is our party but I also don’t want you to bore our guests with more birds and paintings stories.” Nie Mingjue advise.
“How can I not make them listen to me talk about my beautiful birds and beautiful paintings and all the beautiful places that I want to visit?” Nie Huaisang feigned offense while putting his fan over his chest.
Nie Mingjue chuckled but didn’t provide any reply.
“Who else came, da-ge?” Nie Huaisang asked, hands fluttering nervously. He’s not ready to face anyone but it’s just his luck that he woke up on his 14th birthday. You win some, you lose some.
“The usual pricks and not-so-pricks. You’re usually more excited at the prospect of meeting more people to brag about your talents than who actually came.” Nie Mingjue comments. Nie Huaisang winced but smile demurely.
“Well, I’ll brag anyhow.” He answered simply. Then the two arrived at the Banquet Hall and Nie Huaisang can already see the flurries of colours mingling. The Great Four Sect, though it also includes the Nie sect, are also present. Lanling Jin, Gusu Lan, Yunmeng Jiang. The other minor sects are also present. Yao sect, Lin sect, Qin sect, Ouyang sect, to name a few.
Well, time to be fake! Yay!
Deleted paragraph that I’m not sure where to put.
Nie Huaisang is not sure why he asked who came when he knows who will be there. He can start making connections with sects that had helped the Nie sect when he’s in charge.
He looked at Nie Mingjue. ‘I’ll make it easier for you, da-ge. I’ll make sure you’re safe.’ Nie Huaisang thought. Almost obsessed with the need to keep his brother safe.
He didn’t forget. He’s just not ready to face a lot of dead people and the ghosts that they were in his mind. He’s not ready to face people. He’s not ready to face this challenge. But he’s here now, he’ll make it work.
Chapter 4: Telling Nie Mingjue
Nie Huisang decided to tell Nie Mingjue the truth so they can work together to solve the problem. Nie Mingjue is sceptical.
There's a deleted scene on the end note. If you're interested.
Edit as of 5/11/2021: The deleted scene has been put back into the work.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The banquet passes without a hitch. Nie Huaisang managed to fake it through the night. The guests will also leave after it’s over, which makes it better for everyone in the Nie sect. After a tiring day, no one wants to deal with assholes like Yao Zungzhu, Jin Guanshan, and Jin Zixun, though Jin Zixuan is more reserved, if not more arrogant, than his father and cousin.
Nie Huaisang felt he was more emotionally drained than he ever was. Not even the conferences in his other life has ever drained him this much. He’s pretty sure his masks slipped a couple times throughout the banquet but he no longer had any fucks to spare.
When the last of the guests finally left, with the exception of Lan Xichen, to Nie Huaisang’s chagrin (he’s doesn’t want to see that spineless skeleton more than he had to. It’s hard enough faking his smiles and laughs at him when all he wants to do is scowl and glare at his silhouette. Maybe beat him up. He’s so bitter, he surprises himself.), he went back to his quarters. Ready to bathe and finally retire.
Today was a shock and he’s in a 14 years old body of his younger self, which can’t withstand such tiring day, which made him think that he’s so fucking weak, (why is he so fucking weak?), which made him irritated, which in turn made him sleepy cause he’s tired.
He’s so tired he’s sure he can sleep till next week.
With his sleeping attire donned, he crashes on his bed and fell asleep before his head even touch the pillow.
His sleep was not pleasant.
Nie Huaisang's dreams/memories.
At JinLin Tai.
He heard his roar before he sees him. Nie Huaisang’s heart beat rapidly as he strains his leg to climb up the many stairs of the damn tower. Adrenaline rushing through his veins as he feared for his brother’s safety.
The smell of blood hit him the nearer he got. The iron smell made him gag but he can’t help but shout for his brother. To let his brother knew that it was him, his Huaisang, his little brother. He had arrived! He’ll help!
When the scene greeted him, he was slashed by his brother’s sabre, Baxia, on his shoulder. The warm blood rolled down his arm and soaked the fabric there. Only then did he saw Nie Mingjue and Nie Mingjue’s terrifying face. It was bloody. His veins are visible and his eyes are red. Blood was oozing out of his orifices and pool under his feet. Nie Huaisang can hear the sound of his brother’s joints break as he qi deviated.
His red eyes are filled with hatred, fear, and anger. Unrestrained resentment was rolling out of him in waves. Nie Huaisang was shocked as his brother keep looking at Jin Guangyao but he can’t stop himself from shouting for his brother.
“Da-ge. It’s Huaisang. It’s me da-ge!” Nie Huaisang heard himself begged for his brother’s attention.
“Da-ge doesn’t recognise us, Huaisang.” He heard Jin Guangyao said, fleetingly heard the smug undertone and the smile in that voice, as he was restrained by Jin Guangyao. He struggled to break free but surprisingly, Jin Guangyao pack a muscle underneath all that ‘meekness’ look he put on.
He sees his brother point his sabre at Jin Guangyao and he heard his own voice filled the atmosphere with pleas to make his brother recognise him. Then the sabre was used to prop his brother’s body and he saw Nie Mingjue stop breathing and he scream.
He screams himself hoarse but his brother still didn’t wake up. He screams and screams until he lost consciousness, with mind still begging for his brother to wake up.
He screams through his grief and sorrow for his brother. For his loss. For his pain that he never really grieved.
He vaguely heard someone calls his name. Vaguely felt someone touch his face. Vaguely felt someone shaking him.
When he comes to, he realised that he’s still screaming his throat out, tears splattered on his face, a thin sheen of sweat already covers his body. He felt someone was holding him on his shoulder, shaking slightly. Faint voices were heard.
His ears popped.
“…ang. Hua…ng. Hey, wake… now… sang… right… just… mare…” he vaguely heard.
He opens his eyes, blurry, confused, not sure where he was. Where was he? Where is this? What time is it?
Then his eyes focused on the person in front of him. Worried eyes watch his reactions as the person’s mouth keep moving.
He lunged forward towards his brother, hugging him tightly. The body beneath him was stunned only for a second before hands embraces him. This set another load of tears down Nie Huaisang’s face. He felt safe.
‘Da-ge is here. Da-ge is safe. Da-ge is alive. Da-ge will be fine. Da-ge is strong.’ His mind supplied answers to him. For once helping him composed himself.
“Huaisang, it’s just a nightmare. It’s okay. It’s alright. Everything is alright. You’re safe.” Nie Mingjue said from above him, voice gentle and soothing, totally out of character. Vaguely, Nie Huaisang can see white clothes on his side. He flinches away from those.
He pulled back after he somewhat calmed down.
Damn this young body for not being able to withstand his traumatic experience!
He cleared his throat, which felt raw from what he suspects his screams caused, and wipes his tears. Nie Mingjue’s hands also helps him with his sweaty forehead. His eyes were downcast. He felt slightly ashamed at his outburst. He hadn’t had a nightmare for quite some time and those times it happened, he was alone already, so, there’s no sense of embarrassment. This time, there’s people to see him breakdown. Unusual.
“You want to talk about it?” He heard Nie Mingjue’s voice. He shakes his head no.
“Xichen, please check on him. Is there anything wrong?” Nie Mingjue address. Lan Xichen came forward to help, his face creased with worry over his friend’s little brother.
Lan Xichen, with his perfect white attire that marks his sect, moves closer from where he’s standing near the foot of the bed. Left hand clenching on his pristine sword, Shuoyue.
“Don’t touch me.” Nie Huaisang said coldly. The other two occupants were rooted to their spot. One seated in front of him, one with their hand reaching out to take his wrist and check his meridian.
They never heard Nie Huaisang sounded so cold and anguish before.
“Huaisang. Are you okay?” Nie Mingjue asked worriedly, his hands already moving to pet Nie Huaisang’s hair. He hesitates but he just goes for it. Nie Huaisang let him, which made him exhale in relief. “Will you tell me?”
Nie Huaisang relish the petting and comforting gesture from his brother, feeling nostalgic and wistful.
Nie Huaisang didn’t care how he made the other man in white felt awkward and hurt. Better awkward than smacking that guy in the head with his pillows and hands. Or fans.
“Leave.” Nie Huaisang said, voice hoarse but still cold despite being petted on the head like a pet by his brother. “Please.” He added belatedly. It will not do if Nie Mingjue thought his manners left him like his voice.
Nie Mingjue turn around to look at the stunned Lan Xichen and said regretfully, “Please step outside for the moment, Xichen. Or go to my office. Or go back to your quarters. I will take care of this. I’ll tell you later.”
Lan Xichen nodded and bow his farewell and step outside, going somewhere Nie Huaisang don’t give a fuck.
“Now, that’s that. You’ll tell me.” Nie Mingjue said with finality, a bit baffled at the change in Nie Huaisang’s demeanour. He knows his little brother adore Lan Xichen.
Nie Huaisang nod solemnly.
“Of the war?”
“With Qishan Wen?”
Nie Mingjue looked at him sceptically. Not sure if he wants to believe it or not. He knew in his whole heart that Nie Huaisang is not the kind to lie. He’s more to manipulating words and emotions to get what he wants. This level of fear can’t be faked. He also can’t shake his own fear at the terror and sorrow clearly shining in Nie Huaisang’s eyes. Those kind of eyes had seen war and survived, eyes that Nie Mingjue seldom sees in the elder’s eyes. That terror shook him to the bone. He was supposed to protect his brother.
“When?” Nie Mingjue asked. Though he’s sceptical, so freaking suspicious because he’s not the kind to believe in dreams, he’s a warrior! He didn’t have time for dreams! But his brother’s eyes looked like it went to hell and back. Like stated before, those kind of terror can’t be faked.
“In five years.” Nie Huaisang answered quietly. Nie Mingjue flinch back.
“So fast?” he said, shock colouring his voice. Nie Huaisang nodded.
“Wen Ruohan grew impatient. He wants to get rid of Lanling Jin and Qinghe Nie. All the major sect. He’s manipulating puppets using the Yin Iron. It’s ancient and uses resentment.” He said, voice shook but confident. “He tried to destroy Dafan Wen ten years ago. He took in Wen Qing and trained her to be a healer and appointed her as his right hand and her brother, Wen Qionglin, and some elders and those that survived the attack was also taken in to ‘show his benevolence and support’ when he’s actually the one that orchestrated the whole attack. He wants to get rid of Dafan Wen because they’re the true heir to the seat as sect leader. So they can’t claim the throne.”
“How are you so sure?” Nie Mingjue asked him, wanting more information.
Nie Mingjue knows of Dafan Wen attack only because his father told him. Wen Ruohan, at the time his father told him, was already provoking the Nie sect. Their father told him that Wen Ruohan knows they can’t survive if Qinghe Nie attack because the Nies are stronger than the Wens. His little brother is too young to know that, so how can he know?
“Because I was blind before. I should’ve helped Wei Wuxian when he tried to save them.” Nie Huaisang answered with sorrow in his voice.
Wei Wuxian? The charge of Jiang Fengmian of Yunmeng Jiang? The rumoured favoured child of the Jiang sect? How did Nie Huaisang know him? His little brother hasn’t even met anyone other than Jiang Fengmian and the other nameless disciples that the sect leader usually brought.
“What do we do now?” Nie Mingjue asked, thinking that if his brother is so sure about his dream, the least he can do is support him.
“I have to train.” Nie Huaisang answered, voice confident. His posture of that a warrior Nie Mingjue seldom sees. Nie Mingjue’s also delighted that his little brother will focus more on his training now. Better to get him stronger than weak if there’s really a war coming.
“That’s good. You can finally spar with…” Nie Mingjue was cut off when Nie Huaisang raised his hand befitting that of a sect leader. ‘When did he learn that? From his dream?’ Nie Mingjue absent-mindedly thought.
“No one can know that I can fight. I have to pretend to be like I was before so everyone can survive.” Nie Huaisang said with conviction.
“What do you mean?” Nie Mingjue asked, he sounds like a lost child.
“I’ll fight with a war fan. That’s my specialty. No one expects a harmless child to hurt someone with a fan.” Nie Huaisang said wickedly, a glint in his eyes told Nie Mingjue that his little brother is not lying. They know each other so well that he can read his little brother like a book.
“Why can’t anyone know you can fight?” Nie Mingjue pressed for answer. His brother’s sorrow intensified when he asked that.
“Because I need to keep you safe.” Nie Huaisang voice wavered when he answered, his small body trembles slightly.
“I am safe. I am here, am I not? Also, I’m your brother. I’m the one who’s supposed to protect you. Not the other way around.” Nie Mingjue answered, hoping the little jest at the end might lighten up the tense atmosphere.
“I saw you die, da-ge.” Nie Huaisang’s voice cracked as he sobbed into his small hands. Shoulders trembles as he cried into his hands. Nie Mingjue’s heart clenched at the sight. His little brother is so affected by his death that happened in his dream. It’s quite baffling but still, Nie Mingjue didn’t see an ounce of lies in his brother’s actions.
They both knew that honesty is important between them. Nie Mingjue can’t afford to be lied too and Nie Huaisang is too lazy to lie. It worked for them.
“How?” he breathed. He knows with his line of cultivations, the cultivation that the Nie sect practice, that they were prone to qi deviation more than cultivators that practiced swords or music.
“We trust the wrong person.” Nie Huaisang anwered coldly. His eyes grew empty. Trails of tears shining on his face.
Nie Mingjue’s breath stuttered. ‘Is that why Huaisang is so determined to make Xichen left? Did I do wrong in trusting him?’ Nie Mingjue thought.
“Is that why…” he trailed but his eyes already look at the closed door, as if he can see his best friend through that.
“No. I was afraid I might beat him up.” Nie Huaisang answered, shaking his head. Nie Mingjue blinked at that. His little brother is not one for violence. His little brother loves art and calligraphy and painting. All that girly stuff that ‘gentleman’ should know. So where did this violence come from? He didn’t voice that but he tilted his head, wanting to know more. “He’s innocent,” Nie Mingjue breathed a sigh of relief at that. Well, at least he’s right in that sense. “But he’s spineless.” Nie Huaisang add angrily. His brows furrowed, lips thinned and hands clenched on his knees.
“Spineless?” Nie Mingjue breathed. Nie Huaisang nodded once in confirmation. “How?”
“He lets himself be manipulated by your murderer. He protected your murderer. Shielded them despite all the evidence presented.” Nie Huaisang answered quietly, bitterly. Again, Nie Mingjue finds it hard to breathe. ‘Xichen protected my supposed murderer after I died? Why?’, he thought. He finds it hard to believe because Lan Xichen is so gentle and intelligent. Surely he won’t?
“He’s innocent.” Nie Huaisang pressed when he sees doubt in Nie Mingjue’s eyes and face. He may hate that spineless skeleton but he knew that Lan Xichen is the only true best friend his brother had. He won’t stop that. He wants his brother to be happy.
“All of us trusted the wrong person. That bastard.” Nie Huaisang spat out angrily. ‘Bastard?’, Nie Mingjue thought. ‘Is that my murderer?’, he added.
“He’s not here yet.” Nie Huaisang said, looking tired. His hair is still messy from his frantic nightmare and his bed was thrown about from his trashing.
“I will make sure to kill that bastard before he lay his hands on you. I will destroy him, tree and root.” Nie Huaisang declared with conviction. The fire in his eyes as he looked at Nie Mingjue made shivers run down his spine. That looks like a predator settling his eyes on a prey.
Nie Mingjue is not sure what to feel right now, nor does he know how to respond.
His little brother, sweet, sweet, brother, that he raised, had a nightmare and declare to kill for him. His heart soared in pride at his brother’s declaration and awe at the depth of his little brother’s love for him but also plummets at the thought of him killing someone.
“You don’t have to kill him. You can make him stop doing what he’s doing. It hasn’t even happened yet.” Nie Mingjue advise. The Nies are stubborn bastards (not literally bastards, they’re all legitimate). He knows he’s stubborn and he’s sure his brother is too. It’s in their blood. When the Nies wants something, they’ll make sure they get it. When their minds are made up, they’d rather die than give up. It runs in the family. So, when he sees that expression on his little brother’s face, he knew he had to try to sway him, at least a little. He can’t let his little brother stained his hands when he’s so young.
“You don’t understand the sheer malignant that runs deep in his bones, da-ge. The sheer hatred and greed in his nature.” Nie Huaisang’s voice made Nie Mingjue startled. The hatred in them is as clear as the water in the river around Qinghe. “He killed your commanding officer in cold blood because he steals the bastard’s credit. He killed Jin sect heirs. He framed Wei Wuxian. He betrayed Qinghe Nie. He married his half sister. He killed his father. He killed his son. He massacred a whole sect. He massacred a village. He experimented on people’s body. He betrayed Lan Xichen. He incite his own wife’s suicide. He betrayed all of us and worst of all, he killed you.”
The stunned silence was palpable. The magnitude of that crime is enough to make Nie Mingjue get an early qi deviation.
Who can commit that much crime?!
“Will you tell me who it is?”
“No, but I will give you a piece of advice.”
“What is it?”
“Don’t hire anyone as your second-in-command.”
Deleted scene is now in the original work. Enjoy! Perhaps, there will be none in the future.
Chapter 5: Proceed with a plan
Nie Huaisang told Nie Mingjue some things and they plan what to do.
Writer's block is the worst! But here's a chapter. Also, there's some deleted scene. If you're interested to read it. It's in the end note.
Please note that these deleted scenes are insights of the characters and useful for future chapters. It was deleted because of reason I can't really figure out why. I can just put it in the fic but I felt like these scenes don't fit and I felt like it can bring us, author and reader, closer, for some reason?
Feel free to comment and give me feedbacks. All those kudos made me so happy.
P.S: I have so many assignments already and it's only week 3 of the new semester, so updates will be slower than it already is. Hope you guys can be patient.
P.S.S: I can't believe people like this fic, like what?
P.S.S.S: Want to know something funny to me? I thought it was the Twin Jades of Gusu instead of the Twin Jades of Lan and I was scrambling to fix the mistakes and I thought, my memories is so unreliable that I have to Google a simple thing such as that.
EDIT AS OF 5/11/2021: DELETED SCENE WILL BE PUT BACK INTO THE ORIGINAL WORK.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The Nie brothers always trust each other. They knew they always had each other’s back. So, Nie Mingjue knew he had to trust his little brother. He knew he should just brush this nightmare aside but as much as he wants that, he also can’t deny that he’s quite shaken by the things that Nie Huaisang told him. There’s the heavy emotions he can see weighing down on his little brother’s small shoulders and there’s experience in his voice when he speaks. Nie Mingjue knows that Nie Huaisang had potentials to be better than the younger him when he was entrusted to the seat of the Sect Leader of the Nie sect.
“You can trust Lan Xichen.” He heard Nie Huaisang said. The brat had already moved to the table and get himself some tea to soothe his scratchy throat. How he can still talk before, he didn’t know.
Nie Mingjue hummed in answer. By now, he’s pretty sure Lan Xichen had already left from how long they talked. Both of them clad in their sleeping attire. Gusu Lan had three thousand rules and one of them is not to eavesdrop. They’re both confident that Lan Xichen did not hear their conversation. They knew he can but he won’t. Out of propriety.
“But you can’t tell him what we just discussed.” Nie Huaisang remind his brother. There are so many things that can go wrong. Especially since Nie Huaisang is stuck in this small body. There’s nothing he can do about that but he had to start practicing right away.
“Xichen?” asked his brother. Nie Huaisang hummed in confirmation. “Why?” Came the second question.
“He is innocent. He is also kind. The First Jade of Lan had always thought good of the world, he even thought good of the bastard that had plan your murder with a smile on his face,” Nie Huaisang start. “The three of you will be sworn brothers in a few years and your death later broke him. Don’t swear to be sworn brothers. No matter how much Lan Xichen beg.” Nie Huaisang answered, holding the teacup in front of his mouth. Contemplating what else to say.
Nie Mingjue still can’t believe he’ll die soon. Like, you never want to hear that from your brother.
“He also kill the bastard that claims he is your sworn brother. Not by his choice, of course.” His voice sound strange to Nie Mingjue’s ears. So different from the previous Huaisang he knew. His voice had a bearing to it that was not there before. “He will let that bastard get away with murdering you and countless other crimes if I did not do something.” Nie Huaisang added, putting down the cup and resumes a lotus position. Eyes calm and clear as he spoke.
“He enters seclusion after that. It’s been four years before I woke up and he hadn’t left yet. I guess the betrayal of his trusted friend and by me was too great for him. Lan Wangji had to resume the position of Sect Leader of Gusu Lan sect. The Excellency was Jiang Zhongzhu, Jiang Cheng.”
“Jiang Cheng? Jiang Fengmian’s son?” Nie Mingjue was shocked. He knew that boy had a bit of a temper. Comparing him with Wei Wuxian, the latter was better suited to be the Sect Leader.
“Lotus Pier was reduced to a sea of blood and corpses.” Nie Huaisang said quietly, his face looked pained. As pained as when he had known that Jin Guangyao had been orchestrating his brother’s death since he was caught killing his brother’s commanding officer in cold blood.
“This is why I have to save everyone.” He state, eyes blazing with determination and deep thirst for vengeance. His eyes looked too old to be in a fourteen-year-old, Nie Mingjue thought.
It was silent as Nie Huaisang let his brother swallow all that.
“What happened now?” Nie Mingjue asks. He moved from the bed to sit in front of the table Nie Huaisang now occupies. He took out one glass and Nie Huaisang pour tea.
His brother decided to trust him, after all.
It was silent for a moment.
“In two weeks’ time, you’ll stumble upon a night hunt. With Lan Xichen. You’ll be okay if you remember not to fight fiercely but cleverly. Find their weak spot. The fierce corpses that will fight you is weakened already because it’s so far away from their source of energy.” Nie Huaisang answered, hands around the glass on the table.
“Fierce corpses?” Nie Mingjue asks, finger trace the rim of the glass. Nie Huaisang nodded.
It’s like having a cheat sheet for your final exam if you have all of these knowledge.
“What will you do now?” Nie Mingjue asks, eyes sharp and watching Nie Huaisang’s face, looking for any reactions.
Nie Huaisang pondered for a moment. What should he do? He can go to Gusu and fail, then come back the next year to befriend the Two Pride of Yunmeng. Or he can skip Gusu, train his skills again, finish some unfinished business in Kuizhou, and go to Gusu the next year and befriend the Two Pride of Yunmeng.
Lan Xichen waits in front of the door for a long time, waiting for the brothers to invite him back in. There’s no guard since Nie Huaisang doesn’t like it. Standing in front of the quarters felt like a reprimand.
Lan Xichen can’t help but shiver a little. The cold air was biting and although his clothes is thick, as he still wore his official sect robe, it still seeped through the fabric and reach his bones.
He wiggles his socked toes in his shoes, feeling a little awkward as he stands in front of the door. He’s used to being punished such as this when he was younger but it has been so long since he felt like he was a young one. He’s no old man, but he felt like he’s gotten older. Memories of his youth felt like another lifetime to him.
Perhaps that’s the feeling of growing up.
Lan Xichen sighs softly.
What did he do to Nie Huaisang? Why is he so cold? He was such a sweet child. Always calling him ‘Xichen-gege’ whenever he saw him. Did he do something wrong to upset the youth? Lan Xichen sigh softly through his nose. His left hand that’s clenching Shuoyue felt numb from how tight he clenches it. It hasn’t even been a day since the birthday party, where Nie Huaisang smiled sweetly at him.
If he did something wrong, he wants to know what it is so he can fix it. He’s just not sure if the sweet child will tell him or not. His chest felt uncomfortable.
After what felt like forever, the two brothers walk out of the quarters just as the sun peek over the horizon. One clad in his sleeping attire, looking anxious, one dressed in plain grey practice robes, intricate braid, a fan in hand, and a deliberately relaxed posture. The easy gait of the youth with a fan dazed Lan Xichen for a while. Now, he can feel a strange aura coming from Nie Huaisang. A strange feeling overcome his senses and he felt like he need to lower his head when he look at Nie Huaisang.
What happened? His curiosity makes him want to ask but his uncle’s and his sect’s teaching prevent him from voicing out his thoughts. His habit won’t let him trespass propriety, anyway. This is private business of the Nie sect. He had no authority to know more than what he was told.
If he was told.
“Ah, Xichen!” he heard Nie Mingjue called out to him, astonished that he’s still standing outside despite the cold air and long wait. He just gave Nie Mingjue a soft smile and a slight tilt to his head.
“Why don’t you go back to your quarters? You must be tired from your journey before. You also have to go back to Gusu this afternoon.” Nie Mingjue said apologetically.
“There’s no need. I’m fine.” He answered softly. His eyes moved to the youth standing beside Nie Mingjue. The fan in the youth’s right hand flutter softly. He saw Nie Huaisang rolled his eyes when he answered. It made his heart uncomfortable. Did he say something wrong? Why is Nie Huaisang annoyed with him?
“I’m leaving.” Nie Huaisang declared before turning and strolling to the garden without waiting for any reply or even give any farewell bow as per usual. Lan Xichen thought, ‘If he’s in the hands of uncle back home, he’ll be reprimanded already for breaking sixteen rules.’
Nie Mingjue just watched his little brother’s back with a complicated look in his eyes, the seemingly permanent scowl on his face deepen just a tad.
“Da-ge, what is it?” Lan Xichen question, his eyes on Nie Mingjue’s face. He saw the complicated look in Nie Mingjue’s eyes grew as he looks at Lan Xichen.
What is wrong with these two brothers? Lan Xichen can’t help but felt a little wronged but he ignored it.
“It’s complicated.” Nie Mingjue eventually answers.
“I can see that.” Lan Xichen joke. Nie Mingjue laughs at that and he gestures for Lan Xichen to follow him. Lan Xichen eyes the path that the youth took for the last time before he starts walking.
In Nie Mingjue’s office, Lan Xichen were seated at the table as Nie Mingjue excused himself to change to his day attire.
Lan Xichen sip his tea slowly, trying to assess the situation. Wrecking his brain for any misconduct when he interacts with Nie Huaisang in the past. His heart felt uncomfortable under his ribs and he didn’t like it. The more he thought about it, the more the feeling grow.
Lan Xichen met Nie Mingjue at the Summer Conference in Gusu when they were both fifteen. Nie Mingjue, with his usual scowl-y face, was not favoured by anyone. However, the elders didn’t care as long as he acts appropriately. Lan Xichen didn’t know what deity made him befriend the youth because his uncle’s teaching taught him not to favour any other disciple from different sect or from Lan sect. It has been ingrained inside his head that ‘gentlemen do not seek friends. They will come because they had seen his character and thought good of it’. He had never had a friend. He only had his uncle and his younger brother, Lan Wangji, after his mother died. He never sees his father anymore, anyway.
He befriended Nie Mingjue, and despite the angry face, he discovered that Nie Mingjue is actually kind, just, and fierce. Sometimes soft and fond when he talks about his little brother, whom he usually complaints to Lan Xichen, always skipping his training session. Those qualities made Lan Xichen envy him because he might be the next in line for being the Sect Leader, but he is not kind (he is but he didn’t think so, he thought it was more to being polite), just (he is but he’s turned blind when he saw the dimpled killer), or fierce (he’s a gentle boi).
And Nie Mingjue thought him a good company, so the two continues to interact with each other after each lesson was finished.
Unfortunately, Nie Zhongzhu was injured and Nie Mingjue had been called away to start his training as the Sect Leader, so the two was estranged from each other. That didn’t stop the letters they would send to each other though.
Then, he had been frequently visiting the Unclean Realm and the friendship had stayed strong. He was introduced to Nie Mingjue’s soft-cheeked little brother. A boy so adorable it made Lan Xichen almost bend down to pinch his cheeks and lost his self-control. He didn’t, of course because propriety.
It wouldn’t look good if he lost composure over a chubby child with too cute a face. It also wouldn’t do for others to see a side of him other than the perfectly well-cultivated image of the First Jade of Lan.
Now, he thought that friendship was about to end though. Because as strict as Nie Mingjue is to his little brother, he wouldn’t stand for a person his little brother didn’t like. He would do everything in his power to make sure that Nie Huaisang live his life with the best luxury. One that Nie Mingjue didn’t even got to experience himself. He’s so sure that Nie Mingjue will chase him out of the Unclean Realm for everything except conferences and night hunts.
Just as Lan Xichen was about to jump into another barrel of overthinking, Nie Mingjue, adorning his usual Sect Leader attire, walk into the office. He looked impeccable as always. Not a hint of tiredness was shown, as all Sect Leaders always appear to be.
“Xichen,” Nie Mingjue greeted. “Sorry for making you wait for long.” His apologies solemn and anxious.
“Da-ge,” Lan Xichen return the greeting. “It’s alright. I don’t mind.”
Lan Xichen said this so earnestly that Nie Mingjue can see the slight curiosity in his eyes and it was quickly trailed by panic and regret.
The both of them nodded, no other words were spoken. To be fairly honest, both didn’t know what to say to one another. Not after the awkward encounter before.
Nie Mingjue pour himself some tea and sip silently. He knows that Lan Xichen is curious. Without even looking into his eyes, his body send signals to Nie Mingjue’s trained eyes. His friend is curious. And he didn’t know what to do.
He didn’t lie, Gusu education or not, Lan rules or not, Nie Mingjue is not a man that lies. Simply because he’s terrible at it. His eyes will twitch and he will stutter. Rather than look like an idiot, he simply speak the truth.
After a long silence, Nie Mingjue started.
“There’s been a…” Nie Mingjue paused, looking for the correct and appropriate word that did not leave traces of lies. “revelation.” He didn’t look at Lan Xichen, afraid that he’ll blurt the whole truth. But his little brother had told him that Lan Xichen can’t know. He also acknowledges that Lan Xichen is too kind for the harsh world his little brother spoke about. He’d rather his friend keep being kind than tainted by the cruelty of the world.
Lan Xichen didn’t speak. He only inclined his head a little. He wants to know. He burns to know. However, he recognises that this issue is not for him to know. So he didn’t say anything.
“It’s better if you didn’t know of it yet.” Nie Mingjue added. The warm cup of tea warming his cold hand.
“If it is uncomfortable for da-ge, it is okay if I do not know.” Lan Xichen replied sincerely. He wants to know. He knew he wants to know what is happening that made Nie Huaisang throw him a gaze so cold he can feel chills? What made him scream that way? He’s so small yet his scream reflected anguish and pain brewed from years of pent up anger and suffering. Why is da-ge so secretive? What is happening? But despite all that, he knew he can’t pry into other people’s –other sect’s- business. No matter how close they are.
And despite all those burning curiosity, his face was as clear as it was before. Not a single muscle moves out of place.
‘How considerate.’ Nie Mingjue thought. Nie Mingjue knew if he was in Lan Xichen’s place, he would be demanding answers with scowls on his face and a growl that he had perfected. He’s thankful that Lan Xichen is not going to ask anything.
“On to serious business. I have to discuss something with you.” Nie Mingjue said, tone shift from friendly to business-like.
Lan Xichen only tilt his head in question.
Enjoy the chap!
Chapter 6: The Plan
Nie Huaisang proceed with the plan and shocked an elder.
All deleted scenes has been put back into the original work because some readers are concerned for the deleted scenes and I love to do good to readers. Enjoy this chap!!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Nie Huaisang stares at the white gate of Gusu Lan sect with a fan idly moving in front of him.
He hadn’t been here in years. His heart felt heavy with guilt and sadness. He hadn’t asked for forgiveness from Lan Xichen in the other life. He knew he should but he can’t find it in himself to actually did.
Despite all the burning rage and frustration that he held for the First Jade of Lan, he did feel guilty. Lan Xichen, as well as Jin Guangyao (no matter how much he hates the man), had been a huge part of his life growing up. He remembers the soft smiles on Lan Xichen’s face whenever he rambled about his birds and his paintings, the indulgence in Jin Guangyao’s eyes every time he came to the Unclean Realm bearing gifts for him.
That’s what made all the betrayal cut deeper than he could ever admit to himself. He had trusted these two men and while one was innocent, he had also been an ignorant accomplice and the other one had been a serial killer. He could find it in his heart to forgive the First Jade but he couldn’t find an inch of forgiveness in his entire being for the man who smiles sweetly at him as he planned for his brother’s death and destroyed his entire life.
He just couldn’t.
Betrayal like that didn’t just goes away just because the man hadn’t commit any crime yet in this life. The nature of a person can’t and won’t change drastically and easily. To know a person, we have to first understand the person. And to know their next move, we need to think like them.
He dreads the future but he knows he can change it. He had the knowledge. If things go out of hand, he can improvise. He knows he’s capable of it. He had been through it.
The Nie disciples behind him was whispering. Probably speculating and condemning their Sect Leader’s decision to send his younger brother to the Cloud Recesses a year early than all sect normally would. Nie Huaisang knew. He was supposed to go next year, where he can mingle with other Young Masters of the Great Sects but this is a decision he had made. There’s so many things he could accomplish while being away from home.
The Lan disciple greet them with a placid smile. He greets them and shows his sect’s invitation card. They were all then led inside and were shown their assigned quarters. They arrived a week earlier than the scheduled time but there is precisely one reason he did.
To save this place, he knows only one person capable of making that decision.
After they were done packing, they were told that they can explore the Cloud Recesses. This is when Nie Huaisang can proceed with his action.
Without telling his sect members where he goes (not like they care), his feet brought him to the inner quarters of the Lan Sect, right to Lan Qiren’s office.
He knocks, hands gripping his fan tight, so tight he’s afraid he might break it.
He’s nervous. He didn’t know if his plan will work.
Lan Qiren is one of the toughest elder he had ever had to deal with and that’s counting his own sect elders. To change his mind is to change the course of the future.
If he succeeds, that is.
He heard a concealed confused voice said ‘Come in’, so he snapped his fan close, slid the door open and cupped his hand in front of him as a greeting.
“Master Lan. I am Nie Huaisang from Qinghe Nie. This young one have a grave matter to discuss with Master.” Nie Huaisang said, still not moving out of his bow. He knew manners are what Lan Qiren loves. He loves obedience and politeness. He hoped by him phrasing it this way, the old master will consider his words.
“Come in, Nie-er Gongzi.” Lan Qiren said from where he is seated on his desk, not even standing up because admittedly, Nie Huaisang being here is a surprise.
Nie Huaisang eased out of his bow and step inside, turn around and slide the door close. He then walked forward until he’s in front of Lan Qiren’s raised dais, where currently, an open correspondent is being written.
“This young one is sorry for interrupting, Master Lan.” Nie Huaisang said again.
Lan Qiren, despite being an elder, is only a man in his late thirties. No wrinkles. No white hair. He is a soft-hearted, handsome man that hides behind a carefully managed long and black goatee and a sour, gruff attitude towards life. Even while working, he looks immaculate in his blue and white attire that every Lan member wore, his sacred headband –silver and intricate- shows his status as an elder of the clan and from the inner family.
“Please take a seat, Nie-er Gongzi.” Lan Qiren gestures to the area with table and cushion to his right. He nodded and goes to sit down. Lan Qiren stands up and walk over, sit elegantly –like all Lans seemed able to do- and pour warm tea for him.
“What is the matter?” Lan Qiren addresses. Lan Qiren is quite shocked to see the Second Young Master of Nie sect to behave so politely, having dealt with unruly Nie disciples in the past. He’s impressed. He is also shocked at the Young Master’s ability to find his office despite just arriving in the Cloud Recesses this morning.
“There’s war in five years.” Nie Huaisang stated bluntly. Lan Qiren, who’s sipping his tea, almost choked when he heard that. Nie Huaisang worked overtime to control his expression and made sure he had that neutral mask plastered to his face. It felt so good to make the old master lose his composure. Nie Huaisang laughed in his head and pat his back as a job well done.
“Excuse me. What?” Lan Qiren asked when he got himself under control. It’s peaceful now, why would there be a war and how can this child, still wet behind the ears, knows that?
“There is a war coming in five years.” Nie Huaisang stated again. He snapped open his fan and put it in front of him. Sort of like a shield. Well, he’s well-versed with war fans, it might as well be a shield.
“And how do you reckon you get this information?” Lan Qiren, ever the scholar, asked the question like a true teacher.
“Believe it or not, Master Lan, I have been through it. It is not looking good if we don’t do something now.” Nie Huaisang said, holding Lan Qiren’s suspicious gaze like he trained himself to do.
Lan Qiren examined him, looking for malice and mischief. ‘Is this some sort of prank that the youths nowadays love to play?’ he thought. ‘Well, if it is, it’s not funny.’ He examined the Young Master a little while longer but find no trace of deceit. He’s baffled. In his long years as Acting Sect Leader and teacher, he had never encounter this situation and he do not know how to react.
To trust? To condemn? To ask?
“Prove it.” Lan Qiren said simply. Nie Huaisang is a bit shocked at how easy the old master seemed to take this in. He began to sift through his memory and choosing what he wants to share.
He’s quiet for a while. Lan Qiren’s ire rose slowly the longer the youth is quiet. Just as he was ready to chide the child, he heard the youth said in a haunted voice, “Cloud Recesses was burnt down.”
Lan Qiren’s eyes widen. ‘What kind of premonition is this?’, he thought. It’s not that it’s unheard of that people can get glimpses of the future. Some documents in the Room of Forbidden Books had stated that it was a side effect due to the path of cultivation that all cultivator trains themselves in. However, it is very rare and hadn’t been experienced in the last five centuries. Is this young boy telling the truth?
Lan Qiren had to admit that he didn’t feel good about this.
“Gusu Lan is a neutral sect, all things considered. We do not meddle too much with the entire cultivation world. How dare you said that the home of Gusu Lan was burned down?” Lan Qiren asked again, not quite believing the words and not quite sure whether he should believe it. After all, it is a child talking here.
“Gusu Lan is neutral, that is true. But the Wens are getting restless. More and more fierce corpses are on the rise. More and more people, cultivators or normal civilians, had been missing.” Nie Huaisang starts, voice neutral and holding in his own anxiousness. Lan Qiren got goosebumps from the youth’s words. Matter of the fierce corpses and missing civilians are known only to Sect Leaders. The case had been going on for months now and it is not publicised to avoid panic among the people. How did this young boy know?
Lan Qiren scrutinised the youth with the fan in front of him a little more. ‘He doesn’t look like he’s lying’. Coincidentally, Nie Huaisang also thought that Lan Qiren must’ve thought he’s lying.
“Lying is forbidden in the Cloud Recesses.” Nie Huaisang replied simply. Lan Qiren’s eyes flared a little in surprise. The guest disciples are only taught the rules of the Lan sect when the class officially starts. This youth knew this, too? However, he also cannot see it from that angle. Gusu Lan had carved their rules in stone. The youth must’ve passed by it when he explored the grounds before coming here. Right? Lan Qiren was also aware of his oldest nephew’s friendship with the current young Sect Leader of Qinghe Nie, Nie Mingjue and that they have been to each other’s home before. Lan Qiren vaguely recall seeing Second Young Master of Nie hiding behind his brother. Lan Qiren’s mind spin a little.
“I know it seems like I’m lying but I’m not. I’ve copied Gusu Lan’s rules thousands of times before until my wrists were cramped. That kind of information didn’t disappear just because I woke up in this tiny body.” Nie Huaisang said. Hands around his fan tighten slightly before he forces his body to relax.
Without waiting for replies, because Lan Qiren seemed content being suspicious of him, he continues with the explanation, “Gusu Lan is neutral but Gusu Lan is also the centre of knowledge. The first place the Wens will destroy is the Cloud Recesses. To make sure that only the Wens have the power to spread their sect’s indoctrination.” He paused, lifting the cup of tea and took a sip from it, letting Lan Qiren process his thoughts a bit before he bombards him with more information.
“And because Gusu Lan is neutral, it did not off-set the war after it was burnt, even though your Sect Heir had to flee for his life and Qingheng-Jun had to get out of seclusion and fought with the Wen disciples to delay the inevitable and many of your own disciples died.” He paused again, contemplating the next part of information he’ll disclose to the old master.
“The first place they will burn is the library. The place that contains the history of all things important in the cultivation world. With that knowledge, the Wens wants to make sure only they get to be the number one sect and stand above all the other sects. And because they can’t stand it when they’re wrong, they’ll demand you to burn down your own library so that they can cleanse all sects from the ‘wrongful teachings’ that has been passed down for generations.”
All of these is too much, Nie Huaisang knows. Nevertheless, the risks of saying too much is nothing compared to having this man’s help. He can see the doubt in the old master’s eyes. He tried a different route.
“Would Master Lan trust this young one if I said that Wen Ruohan is collecting the Yin Iron?” Nie Huaisang inquire with a small knowing smile. The Yin Iron is a forbidden secret between the five great sects. Only the Sect Leader knows of its existence. Perhaps by offering this piece of information, it will make old master Lan trust him?
Nie Huaisang saw Lan Qiren trembles a little at the mention of the Yin Iron. Since Lan Qiren is Acting Sect Leader after his brother had been in seclusion, it is not surprising that he knows about the history of the Yin Iron and how the Great Five Sect besiege the Xue sect in Burial Mound and how the Yin Iron was then split into four and hidden within the homes of the sects.
“Are you sure you’re not possessed by evil spirits, Nie-er Gongzi?” Lan Qiren asked tersely, diverting from the topic of the Yin Iron, neither confirming nor denying the existence of the Yin Iron. The Yin Iron feed on resentment, perhaps the youth in front of him is possessed by one of the spirit? Lan Qiren can’t find any other reason for the youth’s knowledge of the Yin Iron. The Yin Iron is also a taboo in each of the great sect so no one talks about it and gradually, it was forgotten.
Nie Huaisang seemed to consider that question.
Is he possessed? Is this a case of possession? Perhaps he had possessed his younger body out of anguish rage because he wanted to change his fate? He didn’t even know.
He gave a little shrug to Lan Qiren.
“I am in charge of all my faculties. Perhaps it is fate helping me change what’s supposed to be a grave danger to all sects. I seemed to have been thrown back to my younger body.” Nie Huaisang said casually, fingers tracing the rim of the cup out of habit.
“Thrown back into your younger body?” Lan Qiren repeated in disbelief. ‘How is that possible?’, thought Lan Qiren. Nie Huaisang thought, ‘How can he missed the first time I said it?’
Nie Huaisang snapped his fan shut and put it on the table.
“Yes, Master Lan. This young one is the 38 years old Nie Huaisang, Sect Leader of Qinghe Nie.” Nie Huaisang properly introduces himself, hand cupped in front of himself as a greeting.
Lan Qiren visibly gaped at that. He blinks. Blink again. And again.
Today proves to be an interesting day.
Flashback of the day Nie Huaisang left the Unclean Realm.
“You sure you want to do this?” Nie Mingjue asked his brother again, concern rests on his eyebrows and the corner of his lips.
“Yes, I’m sure.” Nie Huaisang respond patiently. Years of dealing with Yao Zhongzhu and his chummy buddy, Ouyang Zhongzhu, really build up one’s patience and tolerance.
“You can just, not go. Cause, you know, you already know what will happen.” Nie Mingjue said as he busied his hands by playing with his Sect Leader pendant, looking like a small child in front of his little brother.
Nie Huaisang gave a small smile at the nervous gesture.
“There’s still things I need to do. Don’t worry. I’ll train and I’ll be safe there.” Nie Huaisang replied, trying to dispel his brother’s worry. His hands were busy arranging things in his qiankun pouch.
He decided to go to the Cloud Recesses in the end. He’s still got business to do, so, he had to quickly make sure Lan Qiren is in an agreement with him.
“I’m worried.” Nie Mingjue said reluctantly. He never voiced his own thoughts like this. He’s brash and loud. Quick-witted and sharp-tongued. However, in front of this familiar but different little brother, he felt the overwhelming urge to bow his head down.
That’s not normal.
Ever since Nie Huaisang woke up from that nightmare of his, Nie Mingjue saw his little brother’s bearing and gracefulness increased by a hundred fold.
He had invited Nie Huaisang to join the council since he believes that Nie Huaisang could handle it. He saw controlled shifts of the body and trained eyes watched every movements of the council behind his brother’s painted fan. Later, when the council was done, Nie Huaisang gave a few advices and things goes much smoother after that. Nie Mingjue is impressed.
“Don’t be. I’ll be fine. You take care and heed my advice. I’ll be back before you know it.” Nie Huaisang said, voice calm and soothing, making the nervousness that thrum through Nie Mingjue’s blood to calm down by a lot.
Nie Huaisang set out the next morning by sabre.
Future work may not have deleted scenes. Perhaps. I'm not sure yet.
P.S: I also don't know why I made Nie Mingjue like that. HAHAHAHAHA I'll change him subtly.
Chapter 7: Lan Qiren’s Decision
In which Lan Qiren's decision could help Nie Huaisang proceed with his plan to save his brother and consequently, the world. Nie Huaisang also meet the Second Jade today.
First of all, thank you for still being here ◝(⑅•ᴗ•⑅)◜..°♡ and second, I apologise for the long wait (´༎ຶོρ༎ຶོ`). I promised myself that I'll update a chapter if I finished a chapter. So, yeah. Here goes! Hope you guys like it °:.☆\(￣▽￣)/$:.°★
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The office was quiet for some time. Nie Huaisang was reorganising his thoughts and points while Lan Qiren was shifting through manuscripts and tomes of body swapping and seeing the future in his head. There’s the sound of insects from behind the office, as per usual in the forest. Finally, Lan Qiren was the one who break the silence.
“How should I address you if what you have spoken is the truth?” Lan Qiren asks, back as taut as the guqin’s string that the sect used to cultivate and his face is unreadable.
“Master Lan can continue calling this one Nie-er Gongzi. I wouldn’t want to attract attention if Master Lan called me Nie Zhongzhu.” Nie Huaisang replied politely, small smile playing at his lips, his expression pleasant. Not a single trace of pretence in his actions.
“Why are you telling me this?” Lan Qiren asked, because that’s the question, isn’t it? What was the purpose of Nie Huaisang telling Lan Qiren to save their library and all (because Lan Qiren can take a hint when it was given, the man had mention the library and knowledge multiple times)? What is the hidden agenda in the grand scheme of things?
“This one is telling you because this one trust you. This one is telling you because I owe a debt to Gusu Lan sect.” Nie Huaisang replied. His hand reach for his fan and he snapped it open elegantly.
“What kind of debt that you owe if you’re willing to change the course of the entire cultivation world’s future?” Lan Qiren asks, baffled again by the strong declaration of trust towards him and the debt the youth claimed to owe to the sect when the youth only arrived today at the Cloud Recesses. He didn’t know how to respond to that.
“The Cloud Recesses is my second home. It had sheltered me before and while the war was raging on and continues to be my home even after the war was over. It has been a place where I found real friends. It has been a place that has been destroyed but rebuilt with the same gentle hands of the Lan disciples and elders. This one cannot let it be destroyed a second time.” Nie Huaisang answered slowly, eyes drifting towards his surroundings and imagining the horror of hearing the news that the Cloud Recesses was burnt down. Some of those horror seeped through his eyes and body language by the way the corner of his eyes tighten and the hand on his fan clenched a little tighter and how his shoulder tensed up and Lan Qiren picked up on that.
How can this youth experience this kind of horror? It is unimaginable.
He can’t believe anything he heard right now is the future of Cloud Recesses. All those knowledge. Burnt down because a sect wants to overpower other sects. Despite hearing all these, he still finds it in himself to not trust the youth. Despite seeing the horror in the youth’s eyes, he still finds it hard to believe a word he said. It is not in his nature to believe anything thrown his way without evidence.
“Having spoken this much, this master still finds it hard to believe a word you said.” Lan Qiren divulge. He saw the youth flinch a little at his words, snapping him out of his horror-filled thought.
“Having come here, this young one didn’t expect Master Lan to blindly trust him. Information given without evidence is hardly something a scholar will believe.” Nie Huaisang calmly comment, gears turning in his head, wanting to find a way to make the old master trust him.
“It is not well-known, not well-known at all aside from the main branch of the Lan Clan –that one I remember- but I remembered a rumour once. Acquired accidentally by eavesdropping on a few Lan elders during a banquet after I have become a Sect Leader.” Nie Huaisang begin, trying to articulate the words into a less offending sentence. Lan Qiren only lift his right eyebrow perceptibly. “Perhaps something private shouldn’t be said but to gain at least your cooperation, this one had to say it to prove that I am from the future, if Master Lan would be so kind to give this one permission?” he asked softly, eyes sharp and clear despite his gentle tone, as he watch the old master look at him coolly. He gave the smallest nod possible.
The Lan sect had a rule against gossiping. It rotten the bright minds and wastes one’s time.
When Nie Huaisang saw Lan Qiren nod, he also gave a tiny nod as answer and stated, “It has been said that Master Lan had a fancy to Cangse Sanren, despite the girl’s pranking ways, and that is why there is still no Lan Furen.”
Nie Huaisang watch as colour drained from Lan Qiren’s face. ‘Thank god that rumour seemed to be true!’
“Nonsense!” Lan Qiren exclaimed, completely forgetting the ‘shouting in the Cloud Recesses is forbidden’ rule. Well. It’s such a wonderful day that he gets to make Lan Qiren shocked twice. Or maybe three? Nie Huisang can’t focus on that.“This one is sorry to abruptly brought up private matters but I find no other way to make Master Lan work together to change many things in the entire cultivation world if you do not trust this one. Only by Master Lan’s cooperation can this one work to change the tide of the war in our favour.” Nie Huaisang said, tone apologetic and nervous. He had faced Master Lan’s ire but never to the full extent. He knew that Cangse Sanren was a sore topic to the old master. A very sore topic. And it is also not a topic that gets out of the sect, so he, a Nie, knows a Lan secret, might make it a little believable.
Lan Qiren didn’t answer but his hand subconsciously goes up to touch his beard.
“If this piece of information can also work in my favour, this one will add another one. I also wish to change the future of your nephews.” Nie Huaisang negotiate, not sure if Lan Qiren will be willing to cooperate with his wishes while he’s in the Cloud Recesses after he touch the topic of Cangse Sanren. Well, he’s good at improvising anyway.
“Xichen and Wangji? What happened to them?” Lan Qiren voiced, panic seeped through his voice and his hands. Despite being strict to both his nephews, Lan Qiren love them like he would his own flesh and blood. Hearing that something bad might happen to them in the future, despite not believing any of these except the topic of Cangse Sanren, it causes him to throw caution out the window.
“Lan Xichen and Lan Wangji had a rough future, extremely so if changes are not being made now.” Nie Huaisang answered vaguely. He’d wager that Lan Qiren would do anything for his nephews. He should’ve just gone straight to the jugular.
“And you’re confident that you can change it? Make it easier for them?” Lan Qiren eyed him coolly, his eyes still held traces of suspicions and doubt but his voice is strained. Nie Huaisang knows that Lan Qiren will do anything in his power to make the lives of his nephews easier. Lan Qiren didn’t want what happened to his brother and him to happen to his nephews as well. He didn’t care if anything happened to him, but he cared about his nephews, and it has been used by Nie Huaisang.
Nie Huaisang gave an affirming nod.
“Tell me what I can do and I’ll try to cooperate.” Lan Qiren conceded at last. There’s no doubt that he’s still doubting everything that has been said between them for the past hour, but if the spark in the youth’s eyes, that didn’t quite match the spark he’d seen in the eyes of other bright youths he usually saw, is any indicator, he’s quite sure that there’s no malice in those words.
“There’s only a few things Master Lan needs to do. The rest, I will do it myself.” Nie Huaisang respond, fans moving languidly in front of him, feeling satisfied that his plan had succeed by a slim margin.
It seems that fate have helped him once more by making this stubborn mule in the shape of Lan Qiren cooperate with him.
Thank god for small miracles!
Nie Huaisang stroll through the garden after his talk with the Lan elder in small, calculated steps.
He’s still quite shocked that the old master even considered what he said had some merit to it even though he had a hard time providing solid evidence of what he’d seen and experienced. He had expected that he’ll be reprimanded and punished on the first day of his arrival because the old master had thought he was lying. Perhaps his concerns for his nephews had really soften him and made him more agreeable to some of the things they had discussed.
The garden was filled with blue gentians, white chrysanthemums, and butterflies. A path was made to ensure the user will not stray from the road. The sounds of crickets and the forest filled the silence (because we all know that forests had that indiscernible sound that they made).
He’s reminiscing his life here while standing in the middle of the road, gazing wistfully at the gentians and chrysanthemums with his fan in right hand and his left on the small of his back when he saw a flash of white and blue from the corner of his eyes. His sharp eyes follow the figure almost instantly, on alert of any danger around him.
Years of staying behind the scene had taught him to stay behind the scene. Those that had caught him were either killed immediately or tried to kill him, so he had to be alert at all times.
Turns out, that moving white and blue figure was Lan Wangji. He must’ve been suspicious of Nie Huaisang being in the inner garden in the Cloud Recesses when only inner disciples were given permission. Despite having met before when Nie Mingjue had made a few trips to the Cloud Recesses, these two didn’t interact with each other much. Lan Wangji preferred to practises his sword and qin and Nie Huaisang preferred to spend his time painting the scenery of the Cloud Recesses from Caiyi Town.
“Lan-er Gongzi.” Nie Huaisang greet Lan Wangji, he cupped his hands together with fan half opened facing downward and bowing a little. Lan Wangji returned the gesture. It would be rude not to because manners.
Lan Wangji’s face is still as Nie Huaisang remembered, as is his impeccable attire. He still holds the same air of authority whenever he decided to show up. The intricate carvings on the silver plate of his sacred headband shows his place in the Lan sect (not that anyone would question it). His sword, Bichen, is held tightly in his left hand. He looked way younger than Nie Huaisang remembered him being but that’s only because they never interact with each other much. Also, in the other life, they were not really all that mushy-mushy friendly, so Nie Huaisang didn’t have any reason to really observe Lan Wangji to the extreme. Just enough to get an accurate reading of his expressions.
Nie Huaisang ache for Lan Wangji. The boy he used to be and the man he’d become and the boy he’s looking at right now. He suffered so much but he’s still the same soft-hearted teen in Nie Huaisang’s eyes. He can’t consider them friends, no. He had botched his chance in the other life. He didn’t think he’s worthy of it now. Lan Wangji is too pure to be friends with a murderer like Nie Huaisang.
Lan Wangji’s eyes seemed to question his motive being here in the first place. Nie Huaisang brought his fan up and cover his mouth to hide his amused smile. Lan Wangji, young or as an adult, never change the way he interacts with others. He’d rather stare until someone confess or walk away rather than opening his mouth and ask his questions. Lucky for Lan Wangji, Nie Huaisang can almost read him like a book after years of practice.
“It is a nice afternoon to stroll the garden, is it not?” Nie Huaisang more comment than ask Lan Wangji. If he could avoid the awkwardness of the one-sided conversation, he’ll try to have fun with what he said and made Lan Wangji’s veins popped before he made his way to his quarters. Acting clueless, after all, had been his specialty for nearly two decades.
Lan Wangji didn’t answer. He only stare at Nie Huaisang with more intensity than before. Lan Wangji didn’t understand why his glare is not working on Nie Huaisang. People usually left after the short silence of meeting him from the sheer awkwardness. Why is it not working on this delicate-looking youth?
Nie Huaisang chuckled. “You can tone down your glare, Lan-er Gongzi. I am not here to run amok. Merely enjoying the scenery and the atmosphere.”
Lan Wangji startle a little but didn’t show any outwardly reaction. ‘Why?’ is the first thing he thought. Why is he not going away? Why is he still calm? Why is everything about this youth so bizarre? He didn’t question it, of course. But he did tone down his glare. Just a little to show his defiance. Nie Huaisang chuckled again. Finding the younger boy’s action amusing.
“Our brothers are friends, Lan-er Gongzi. You are aware of this, correct?” Nie Huaisang question, eyes looking at the boy, half of his face still covered by his fan. Lan Wangji only tilt his head forward, just a little, to show that ‘yes, I am aware’ reaction. If Nie Huaisang wasn’t watching him so closely, he might have missed that.
“Then, you can rest assure that I will not cause harm to this sect. I wouldn’t want to jeopardise the friendship that my brother cherishes.” Nie Huaisang promise. Lan Wangji only tilt his head again in silent acknowledgement. With that, Nie Huaisang’s eyes slid back to the flowers.
“We haven’t talk much when we were younger, did we?” Nie Huaisang said after a while. Small talk with the Second Jade of Lan can’t be too bad can it? He must have at least a modicum of loneliness in him from not being friends with anyone.
“No.” Came a hoarse voice beside him. Nie Huaisang’s eyes snapped back to Lan Wangji’s face when he heard that deep voice. Shocked to hear him respond. He reckons that Lan Wangji will just grunt his affirmation but he’ll take what he gets.
“I must apologise for that. I found that Caiyi Town offer very beautiful sceneries of the Cloud Recesses and I found myself enchanted every time I came here.” Nie Huaisang confess, still remembered how much he begged da-ge to stay in Caiyi Town to paint rather than accompany him to meet Lan Xichen in his other life.
This time, Lan Wangji did grunt in what Nie Huaisang can interpret as ‘it’s okay, I was busy, too’. Nie Huaisang nod his head once in acknowledgement.
This feels like the start of a beautiful friendship. One that he wants but know he didn’t deserve. To pay for that, he’ll give a piece of information.
“One day, Lan Wangji, you’ll find that one person that will match your skills.” Nie Huaisang said softly and conspiratorially, as if conveying a secret mission to the Second Jade of Lan behind his fan, leaning slightly towards Lan Wangji’s direction.
Lan Wangji made a surprised noise at both the use of his name and what was being said after. ‘What?’ was the first thing he thought after he heard that but he can’t help feeling like the boy in front of him is handing out a prophecy. The look in his eyes are different than ones Lan Wangji was used to seeing. It was a look one acquire after a long and weary journey. Ones Lan Wangji had seen in his mother’s eyes before she died and ones in his uncle’s eyes every time Lan Qiren thought he wasn’t looking. And the other boy’s bearing made Lan Wangji thought he’s telling the truth.
“They’re unruly and will definitely broke a lot of the Lan rules. You’ll have to spend a lot of time with them in the library.” Nie Huaisang said lowly, amusement colouring his words. He closed his eyes as he laughed at the memories of Wei Wuxian being reprimanded and Lan Wangji being assigned to watch over his punishment.
Lan Wangji’s brows furrowed at that. Both at the statement and at the joy in the other boy’s face, as though he’d seen it happen. Suspicious is not sufficient enough a word for what Lan Wangji is feeling. There’s a feeling, deep beneath his breastbone as he heard the other boy say that. He didn’t find it uncomfortable, instead, he found that he’s anticipating it. He anticipated so much that he almost wants to ask when he’ll be able to find ‘them’.
Nie Huaisang pulled himself out of his memories as he chuckled again, small smile now painting his face in a beautiful colour.
“I can’t wait to meet them, too.” Nie Huaisang inform Lan Wangji as he sighs, a little happy at the thought of playing match-maker. He fans his face. It’s been a while since he’s felt this elated.
Lan Wangji watches him with astonished eyes. Nie Huaisang only offered him a small smile in return.
Silence reign after that. The small smile is still etched onto Nie Huaisang’s face. However, footsteps can be heard from behind Lan Wangji, one that Nie Huaisang knew is deliberate. The smile quickly vanished as he discerns who the footsteps belongs to. He supressed the need to roll his eyes so hard that he’s sure he broke a few veins behind his eyelids and he’s sure he strained a few muscles on his head.
He’s still annoyed with the spineless skeleton. He knows, he knows the fucker is innocent but he’s been warned, damn it! Nie Huaisang reign his rage in and bow his farewell to Lan Wangji.
“Well, that’s it for today. I’m quite weary from my journey. I’ll leave first.” Nie Huaisang said, not looking at the direction of where Lan Xichen was coming from.
Nie Huaisang knew that Lan Xichen deliberately made his presence known because he wants to insert himself into the conversation but Nie Huaisang is not having it today. Today is enough adventure already.
“Wangji. Huaisang.” Both boys heard Lan Xichen’s voice. Lan Wangji replied with a ‘Xiong-zhang’ while Nie Huaisang replied with, ‘Lan Gongzi’, annoyance colouring his tone a bit too strongly, making the Twin Jades of Lan startled. The First more than the Second.
“I’ll leave first. I have to finish unpacking.” A lie that Nie Huaisang thought he can make because he didn’t want to be in the presence of Lan Xichen more than he have to.
“If there’s anything you need, don’t forget to directly inform me.” Lan Xichen reminds, a small smile on his face even though he felt a bit hurt at Nie Huaisang’s actions.
“Ai. I’ll have to trouble you later then. I’ll go first.” Without waiting for any answer, he left. He walks away slowly, like a well-tempered heir, until his figure disappear from the brother’s sight before he breaks into a run and headed to his quarters. He knows running is forbidden but fuck the rules. He didn’t want to be in Lan Xichen’s presence anymore.
Once he arrived at his quarters instead of a dormitory like other guest disciples, (being given his own because –a) his brother is friends with the heir of the sect, b) the other disciples wouldn’t want to room with him anyway) he quickly shed all layers of clothes and jump into bed. His status as the Second Young Master of the Nie sect prevents the disciples from speaking freely with him. It felt lonely in his first life, he remembers. Now he’s just grateful.
He grabbed a book and start reading.
At the garden, the two brothers stood side by side after Nie Huaisang left them. One with a complicated and astonished expression, the other looked cold except for the slight tilt to his lips.
“Good conversation?” Lan Xichen asked his little brother. He knows that both youngsters rarely exchange any words with each other. To see them in each other’s presence without one being coldly annoyed and the other cringing from the tense atmosphere is a shocking scene. He’s grateful but also still felt a little bit wronged. Is he the only one that noticed Nie Huaisang leaving a conversation just to avoid him? Or is he just becoming too sensitive to other’s reactions towards him?
He needs to meditate or he’ll break a few of the sect rules.
Lan Wangji only respond with an ‘en’. Which means ‘yes, the conversation is interesting.’, ‘I’ve never met a character so bizarre.’ and ‘I’ll probably exchange another few words with him.’. Which… means so much to Lan Xichen that his brother had made friends but he can’t help feeling a little uncomfortable in his heart.
What is this feeling? Why is it stabbing his heart and making his chest uncomfortable? Lan Xichen put a hand on his chest, on the aching spot.
Who can he find to ask about this? How to get rid of the ache?
He really needs to meditate and reflect on his wrongs and copy the sect rules as punishment. He broke nine rules today.
Lan Xichen nodded and they walk towards their quarters and each enter their own bedroom.
I'm afraid this is somewhat a let down. Comment down below if you want (≧∀≦) I'll reply it when I have time. Love ya and I appreciate ALL the comments and kudos, like, I didn't know people would like this (⊙…⊙ )
Chapter 8: Normal days at the Cloud Recesses… or is it?
Nie Huaisang's routine in the Cloud Recesses, a little laugh, and some trauma of the past.
I'm sorry for taking so long to update. I volunteered for flood relief recently and I think I sprain my back or something, so I can't sit or do much of anything. I'm better now, so, yeah. Also, assignments are a nightmare. I can't believe there's so many assignments that were handed out last minute.
Anyway, I have time to write a little so, that's why I can update today. I have written this chapter last month on a spree but I need to edit and make sure the story made sense and same goes about the 4 chapter and a half that I wrote earlier on and there's still a need to make sure the chapter's contents aligned with one another, so that's why I can't post more. Anyway, enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Life in the Cloud Recesses is quite monotonous after that.
Every morning, before breakfast, Nie Huaisang’s feet will bring him to a clearing that he found in his past life.
He’s a Nie so it might be weird as to why he would find a clearing in the Lan territory but his love for birds and paintings would always brought him to weird places just so he can capture the beautiful terrains and landscapes so, here he is, in one of the treasure that he kept close to his heart.
Since he’s no longer invested too much of his time and efforts, on his birds and paintings, he found himself with a lot of time in his hands. Also, since he was supposed to fail this year, he can focus that time concentrating on his golden core. He need to have it levelled up soon so he can practice his talismans and the Portal talisman took up a lot of spiritual energy.
He practices his stance and moves just like in the other life. He thinks that it will be easier to form his golden core this time around, which he’ll have to hide, because he had already master it once. So this time, it’ll be easier to be better at his war fan technique than in his other life.
After practice, he’ll take a bath and go to the banquet hall for breakfast, which was a quiet occasion, not that anything is ever loud in the Cloud Recesses, and then lessons. He did amazing on his homework, shocking Lan Qiren, but still purposely fail his mid exam, it shocked Lan Qiren too even though they have discussed this.
The months flew by very quickly while Nie Huaisang tried to form his golden core. It will not take long as he can already feel a warmth, of sort, coming from behind his breastbone.
Even though the sect rules gave permission to eat more than 1 bowl of rice, Nie Huaisang find it hard to swallow any food of the Gusu Lan sect. It was plain and boring. He loves flavours. Dishes with a strong hint of flavour is his favourite. Plus, all the food in the Cloud Recesses are vegetarians. Not that he’s against those kind of food but Nie Huaisang is the descendant of a butcher. So, he ate what was considered as not wasteful and give everything else to others of his sect.
Soon, he grew thinner and leaner and his cheeks sunken like how he used to look in his other life. No longer was there the baby fat that cling to his cheeks. His hair also grew longer and he had no intention to cut it. He just braids it like he usually did. Taking care of how it was washed and how it was oiled to make sure that each strands is healthy. Grooming is an important element in the act, after all.
No one paid any attention to him aside from the occasional whisper of disdain aimed at his back or the occasional dirty look being sent his way but he didn’t care. He had heard and seen and felt it all before in his other life. This is just a tiny portion of insults that he had heard coming from youths that doesn’t really have their own perspective of the world and instead wants to keep competing among their peers to show that they were the best. Nie Huaisang will let them run their mouths.
That routine continues for months.
And in all those months, Lan Xichen occasionally tried to engage him in conversations. He soon grew frustrated because Nie Huaisang will only give a short answer to his questions and didn’t show an inclination to start a conversation with him. On several occasions, he also saw Nie Huaisang goes someplace else whenever he’s in the same vicinity as Lan Xichen. He didn’t have time to observe the youth, so all he could do is made small bursts of meeting here and there to say ‘hello’ and even that is sparse. Nie Huaisang was able to find excuses to not interact with Lan Xichen and he felt sad, which confuses him because technically, Nie Huaisang is just an heir of another sect and coincidentally, the brother of his best friend. He also wasn’t able to figure out what made the youth retract himself from Lan Xichen and act so cold towards him. He tried asking Nie Mingjue discreetly but both brothers are very tight-lipped about… whatever that’s going on.
On occasion, he’ll saw an unexpectedly cold gaze from Nie Huaisang from behind one of his fan when he thought no one was paying attention to him and it sent a sense of uneasiness into Lan Xichen’s heart.
Since when did this child grew so cold?!
Lan Xichen is so frustrated with the situation that he ended up always going to the Cold Spring to meditate and clear his mind.
On a particularly cold day, and a surprisingly free morning (cause Lan Qiren was away and class was cancelled), Nie Huaisang decided to indulge himself in some painting session in the wilderness around the Cloud Recesses. Though no longer crazed about it like he did in his other life, Nie Huaisang still think of it as a fun hobby.
His papers, brushes, ink and grinder, a few handkerchiefs, a few palates, and 2 pouches of water was put into a qiankun pouch as he walks around the back mountain to find a particular secluded area. One that he always went to every time he visits the Cloud Recesses.
After nearly a sichen (2 hours in modern time), Nie Huaisang finally arrives at a meadow in the back mountain. The meadow was filled with vibrant wildflowers. Colours so vivid and bright against the green of the grass surrounding it. Yellows, blues, reds, pinks, purples. The wildflowers’ scent filled his olfactory senses with fresh mellow-y scent and help him clear his mind.
This is his favourite spot in the Cloud Recesses. Lan Xichen had brought him here in the other life. He said it was a birthday gift. He remembered that he had marvelled at the sight and had thanked Lan Xichen profusely. He also remembered the taste of salty tears that he shed when he went to sleep in his own quarters at the Cloud Recesses that night, crying himself dry because he knows he had to hurt Lan Xichen in the future. The path of revenge that he chose will only block any future relationship that he hoped would exist between him and the freshly appointed Sect Leader.
His heart ached a little as he thought of that. He rubs his chest absent-mindedly.
He set down his equipment and laid out the paper. He knelt down and start grinding the ink. He watched the birds flew by and started looking for the best angles to capture the beauty of the meadow. Luckily, he also brought with him coloured inks.
In the snap of a finger, he found himself engrossed in his painting. He found it exhilarating to lose his scrambled thoughts and just focus on the scenery and the strength of his brushes. So engrossed in it that he didn’t realise that a pair of eyes was watching him from under the tree, not so far from where he’s knelt down.
Lan Xichen watched Nie Huaisang’s right-side profile with a complicated expression, multiple emotions dancing in his golden eyes.
He arrived at the meadow only moments after Nie Huaisang starts painting. However, his mind starts pondering and wonder when Nie Huaisang know of the existence of this place. He didn’t remember ever telling anyone about the meadow and no one from the inner Lan Clan knows of this place because of their lack of interest in going to places that didn’t have monsters since the whole mountain was protected by the shield placed there by their ancestors. So, that only leave one other explanation.
Nie Huaisang found it on accident.
However, as he had found out (as he asked the Nie disciples and the other disciples seemed close to Nie Huaisang because Gusu Lan forbids gossiping because asking is not gossiping –the logic of Lan Xichen’s brain-), Nie Huaisang spent his time learning and finishing his homework, so, when did he found the time to explore the territory?
Lan Xichen leaned on a tree with his hands over his chest and watch as Nie Huaisang’s eyebrows was drawn in as he concentrates on his painting, continue watching as Nie Huaisang’s nimble fingers flick gracefully and expertly as he paints, stopping every so often to dip the brush into the palate, watch the scenery and to continue grinding inks of different colours. Lan Xichen felt a stir in his heart as he continues looking at Nie Huaisang.
The wildflowers surrounding Nie Huaisang is a beautiful backdrop. It made him look much younger and elegant. Lan Xichen’s already warm feature become even more warm and his eyes unconsciously grew softer.
He watched Nie Huaisang while the leaves fell around him and the gentle breeze brush past him, ruffling his hair and robes softly.
Unbeknownst to this man, a seed of love has already been planted into his heart.
Nie Huaisang reeled back on his knees. His back is stiff from where he stayed still to paint and his legs are numb. He craned his neck up to loosen the muscles and rolled his head a few times to help ease the stiffness on his neck and shoulders.
After not painting for a while (years), he’s delighted to find that he hadn’t lost his talent in painting. If he was to judge his own painting, he’d say it looked exquisite. Because he can.
Nie Huaisang chuckled at his silly thoughts.
It’s been too long since he’d been delighted with his own work of art. The painting was, without a doubt, a piece of art. Nie Huaisang has been told that he really had a rarely seen talent when it comes to painting. He sighs in pleasure.
It has been too long since he had indulged himself in this. He rolled his head a couple more times and stretch his hands. The painting was left to dry and Nie Huaisang cleaned and dried the equipment and put it back in the pouch.
He felt like he need to do all of that first before he stretches his legs. If the cleaning was done after he stretch, it will take too long as the ink on the brushes and palates would have been dry by then and it will be a hassle. Nie Huaisang dislikes hassles.
After everything was put into the qiankun pouch, Nie Huaisang put it aside and brace himself for when he straightened himself up. He let out a hiss when he felt the blood rush back into the veins on his legs.
‘Aiyaa, aiyaa, aiyaa.’ could be heard as his knees buckled and he flopped back to the ground on his butt. He laughs out loud. His legs are tingling and it felt weird as much as it pained him. He clenches his toes a couple of times to help the blood flow.
He sat there, waiting for the feeling to subside, when he felt hostile eyes watching him. His guard is up instantly and the laugh was cut off and the smile on his face was wiped clean, replaced by cold vigilance.
He looks closely at the surrounding. Since the sun is now high up on the sky, it made the surroundings a little difficult to be seen since his eyes was used to the light and the forest around him is covered by the canopy of the trees.
His head moves slowly, eyes scanning every area closely. Then, he saw the source of his vigilance.
It was a bird.
To be precise, it was the Wen’s dire owl. The black mist that’s surrounding it symbolised an uncontained ominousness. It was perched on a tree to Nie Huaisang’s left side. Cleverly hidden by the canopies and other branches of the tree it was perched on. Nie Huaisang’s sharp eyes luckily spot it.
Nie Huaisang sucked in a sharp breath as he saw the bird.
In his other life, that bird was feared as it contains the Yin Iron’s power or resentment. Wen Ruohan managed to seal the Yin Iron’s power in the form of a bird and use it to spy on other sects and it can be used to control people’s souls.
In the other life, Nie Huaisang had to face a lot of fierce corpses along with Lan Wangji, Wei Wuxian, Wen Qing and Jiang Cheng on Dafan Mountain. It was unknown to him then that the people in Dafan Mountain was controlled, but when he was trying to get more information while he was investigating Jin Guangyao, the information was revealed to him by a few escaped Wen sect disciples that disguised themselves as a bun seller in Yiling.
That bird gave him so many nightmares as he was weak back then. He hadn’t formed his golden core like his peers and his cultivation level is practically non-existent. Imagine his terror when he thinks that he’ll die there and never got to see his brother ever again.
What should he do?
Let the bird leave? Leave the meadow quickly? Kill the bird?
It was obviously spying on the Cloud Recesses area. What can he do to help? How to improvise now? He obviously need to stay hidden. He needs people to still think he is weak. If this bird saw that he had the ability to fight, Wen Ruohan will surely saw it too and right now, Wen Ruohan is targeting the Nie Sect as it is the second strongest after the Wen sect.
Suddenly, the bird opens his wings and soared up from where it was quietly observing. It circled around the meadow and eyeing Nie Huaisang as if it was eyeing a delicious prey. Nie Huaisang can’t stop the goosebumps from spreading all over his body. He can train his body to do many things and face lots of torments but he’s pretty sure he can’t withstand the power of the Yin Iron.
The seated Nie Huaisang’s heart beat rapidly as he saw the bird diving in his direction.
Shit!, Nie Huaisang thought as he struggled to stand up, his legs still numb and unable to properly support him. He felt as weak as a newborn calf. It’s a feeling that he despised with his whole being.
Just as he was about to reach for the hidden knife that he kept in his sleeves, he felt arms embracing his back and under his knees. His body immediately stiffen up and look at the person that dared to touch him.
He saw white and blue.
His anxious heart immediately turns angry at the sight of that concentrated eyebrows that only Lan Xichen can produce.
What? Is he following me now?, Nie Huaisang thought, carried by Lan Xichen like a damn girl. I mean, the princess carry is fine but the person that did the carrying annoyed Nie Huaisang to no end.
“What are you doing?” Nie Huaisang asked in a harsh voice. “I am capable of saving myself!” he added.
“Huaisang, that is the dire owl of the Wen sect. I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to send it to the underworld,” much less you, he didn’t say but Nie Huaisang heard it all the same. Damn Lan Xichen for being able to see that but aren’t able to see the truth!
In the other life, that bird was killed by Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji. He didn’t know how and he didn’t know how much power was used to kill it but his cultivation wasn’t even a third of theirs’ now. Not talking about killing, he can’t even hurt the bird right now since his golden core is still in the making. Nie Huaisang’s heart ached at the thought. He really need to gain back his spiritual energy. He felt exposed without it.
They heard the sound of the bird’s cry and Nie Huaisang was a bit jostled as Lan Xichen dodged the bird’s attacks. The meadow is big and it leaves a lot of open space for the dire owl to attack them, Lan Xichen grab the qiankun pouch and the already dry painting and put it on Nie Huaisang’s stomach before he made a beeline for the forest.
So... what do you think? Comment and kudos! It made my day °:.☆\(￣▽￣)/$:.°★
I'll try to update on New Year huhu (✿ꈍ ̮ ꈍ✿)
Chapter 9: Planning Against Wen Ruohan
Lan Xichen panicked. Nie Huaisang scheme. Lan Qiren is confused. A new development is unfolding, whether it's the plot or the love-life, you decide.
Heyyyyyy. I am finally able to post something today because I felt like it's a rocky start of the year for me, so I want to do something good for me and hopefully for you, too.
Also, seeing and reading all your comments really made me happy and excited. It also helped me explore so many new ideas. Some I take, some I already thought of, some I really want to do but it wouldn't fit with what I have in mind.
Anyway, I made some changes on Chapter 8. I just add golden for Lan Xichen's eyes cause I need to make sure that you guys knows that hahaha because I just realised that I didn't mention it. I guess. I don't really double check once I've posted something but I will once this fic is over for good.
Anyway, enjoy and tell me how it made you feel!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Lan Xichen thought his heart stopped when he saw a panicked (and flailing) Nie Huaisang being targeted by the Wen’s dire owl. He was so dazed and focused on watching Nie Huaisang smile and laugh that he doesn’t noticed that something is wrong. His cultivation level is higher than Nie Huaisang, so he felt very embarrassed that he didn’t spot the resentment energy that was emitting out of the dire owl earlier.
Nie Huaisang thought he’s gonna die a tragic death before he managed to get his revenge. Who knew that Lan Xichen will be there to help him? Not Nie Huaisang, of course! To be carried like a girl by a guy that annoys him, Nie Huaisang didn’t know what to feel. He subconsciously placed his hands around Lan Xichen’s neck.
Looking at the slightly jostled paintings placed on his stomach, Nie Huaisang began thinking of what to do next. Years of being undercover and pretending to be weak made him learn on how to anticipate others’ actions before they even realise they had the thought and the meaning behind it. He’s pretty accurate. Most of the time.
Nie Huaisang knows how Wen Ruohan’s brain works.
Wen Ruohan is clever, very much so but sometimes, he’ll slip and made mistakes. He’ll slip and listen to others’ advices. Sometimes, he’ll leave an opening to his plans that made others see what he’s planning to do.
Today’s event is spontaneous, Nie Huaisang can already discern that much.
Nie Huaisang is also somewhere where he’s not supposed to be, anyway. In the other life, he was too busy entagling himself in his frivolous hobby and all that, so he doesn’t have the time to really check out the Cloud Recesses. All his knowledge comes from what he learnt when he became Sect Leader and uncovering each and every secret of the devil and with it, informations trickled in and all kinds of stories was unravelled.
Anyway, back to the point.
Wen Ruohan is smart. He, alone, meticulously and patiently planned for his own clan’s branch to be annihilated and made sure the track won’t be traced back to the Wen clan, much less other sects. He’s also dead set on toppling over the Nie sect so it can stand and be the most powerful and dominating sect in the cultivation world.
Wen Ruohan is the typical villain that wants to dominate the world and was blessed with both exceptional cultivation and brain. He must’ve seen that Nie Huaisang was completely alone, in the middle of nowhere, and knowing the rumours that Nie Huaisang is practically and completely powerless, it will be as easy as snatching a candy from a toddler to kill him. And if news was leaked that Nie Huaisang died in the Cloud Recesses, it will drive a wedge between the Nie sect and the Lan sect and that will benefit the Wen sect a lot.
Killing Nie Huaisang is the same thing as killing the sect’s next leader in case anything happened to the current Sect Leader and the next thing Wen Ruohan will do after he successfully kill Nie Huaisang (eliminating a legitimate sect heir because Nie Huaisang knows that Nie Mingjue already put his name in as his heir) is kill Nie Mingjue –who will be stricken by grief, will be completely driven by his sabre’s force and also will definitely fight to avenge Nie Huaisang until he qi deviate- and that will be the end of the Nie sect as it will take a long time to train a new Sect Leader and stabilise their position in the cultivation world.
Nie Huaisang’s eyes grew colder as he thought of that.
No one will be given the permission to kill his brother. Anyone who even thought of it will be eliminated without a trace. Nie Huaisang will make sure of that.
Wen Ruohan just crossed a line and Nie Huaisang knows what to do.
When they finally managed to escape the bird, by some miracle, Lan Xichen finally let Nie Huaisang down. Nie Huaisang collect his things and put it in the qiankun pouch and put it in his sleeve pocket and then he fixes his robes and hair. He took out his fan from his left sleeve and open it.
Without looking or saying anything to Lan Xichen, Nie Huaisang began walking towards the Cloud Recesses. He had things that needs to be discussed and planned before he’ll do anything else.
“Huaisang, are you okay?” he heard Lan Xichen ask from behind him.
Nie Huaisang’s grip on his fan tighten for a fraction of a second before it was relaxed again. The reaction unseen by the eyes of Lan Xichen. He didn’t answer and just continue walking.
Lan Xichen felt a little upset when he was ignored. Lan Xichen followed behind Nie Huaisang closely, so close he was almost beside him, unknowingly making Nie Huaisang uncomfortable.
If Lan Xichen wasn’t raised to control his composure, his hair might be in a disarray from how many times he would’ve tug it out of its bindings. He took a deep breath and let it out softly, eyes involuntarily closing as he tried to control his frustration.
It was silent as they walk the path together.
Nie Huaisang is busy thinking of how to counter attack the Wen.
Lan Xichen is busy trying to get Nie Huaisang’s attention.
Lan Xichen kept looking in Nie Huaisang’s direction. He can’t understand why it was so frosty with the youth. Usually, the atmosphere would be filled with Nie Huaisang’s chatter about everything and anything that comes to his mind or his line of sight. Why is it now as silent as the grave? Lan Xichen’s grip on Shuoyue tightens until his knuckles turns white.
“Huaisang, did I do something wrong?” Lan Xichen finally can’t take the silence anymore and blurt out.
Nie Huaisang’s calculative steps faltered a little but luckily, the other party didn’t see it.
“This one rarely sees Lan Gongzi. How can he do something wrong?” Nie Huaisang spoke lightly, hand on his fan is steady, the other hand behind his back is also steady.
Lan Xichen felt a little vexed at the ‘Lan Gongzi’. Usually, Nie Huaisang will only call him that when they’re in a formal gatherings and even then, Nie Huaisang will find a way to at least call him ‘Xichen-ge’.
“Huaisang, just tell me if I did something wrong. I will definitely try to fix it. I promise. I can’t fix it if I don’t know what I did wrong.” Lan Xichen can’t help but blurt out another sentence. He sounded like a wronged husband.
Nie Huaisang’s heart ached at those words. If only those words were spoken when Nie Huaisang was still in his other life. He will definitely tell Lan Xichen what was wrong and demand he fixes it. Fix his life and fix his mistakes. Apologise to da-ge. Capture Jin Guangyao. Be brave and not be captivated by that sweet mouth of his.
If these words were spoken then, he will definitely tell Lan Xichen what he did wrong. But he’s in this life now. Nothing Lan Xichen said now can change anything that had happened in the other life. Nothing he can do can reverse the damage that Nie Huaisang had done to himself and to others. Some things are better left unspoken. He’ll just have to nurse his heart in silence.
“Nothing is broken, so what need to be fixed?” Nie Huaisang replied lightly, a hint of sneer and disdain can be detected in his tone. He walked in front of Lan Xichen and control his breathing.
Right now, getting back to the Cloud Recesses is more important than nursing other’s feelings.
Inner Lan clan’s courtyard, Lan Qiren’s office, late afternoon.
Nie Huaisang sip his tea patiently and elegantly as he sat comfortably on the cushion in Lan Qiren’s office.
The old master was running his right hand on his beard as he thought of the solution to the new predicament told by Nie Huaisang.
Nie Huaisang walked confidently to the inner part of the Cloud Recesses and to Lan Qiren’s office.
Upon knocking, it was a relief that the old master had come back from who cares where and gave permission to come in. Nie Huaisang thanked the old master and Lan Xichen, who silently followed Nie Huaisang like a kicked-puppy, was told to manage the guest disciples while both Lan Qiren and Nie Huaisang will be discussing important matters.
Lan Xichen supressed his sigh, bow his farewell and went to do his duties.
Nie Huaisang knows that they should have Lan Xichen with them in this discussion as he is the sect’s heir but this discussion involves his real identity and the knowledge that he possessed and he wasn’t ready to risk Lan Xichen looking at him in a different light. Not yet.
True, he’s angry at the man but this can be overlooked as he’s working hard to save the man’s life.
“What is it?” Lan Qiren asks as he sat down in front of Nie Huaisang and let Nie Huaisang pour him some tea.
“May Master Lan please use this talisman first to ensure that our conversation is secure,” Nie Huaisang start. Nie Huaisang hand over to Lan Qiren a piece of thin yellow paper filled with symbols and words in a delicate and elegant calligraphy written with red cinnabar. “My core isn’t there yet to use it.” He added.
“What is this? What is it used for? Where did you get this?” Lan Qiren asks with uncertainty but receive it nonetheless. He inserts his spiritual energy into it and the talisman flare up to life and encase them in an almost invisible bubble. Lan Qiren’s eyebrow quirks a little at that. He looked at Nie Huaisang with a critical look.
“That was just a Silencing talisman. It’s uses are protecting the user from being heard by other people. I invented it when I was a Sect Leader.” Nie Huaisang asnwers calmly. Not at all perturbed by the sharp gaze and distrust from Lan Qiren.
Lan Qiren’s eyes only had a flash of amazement in it before it was gone and he gave a very, very tiny, almost imperceptible, nod of his head in approval.
Nie Huaisang had seen enough of Wei Wuxian’s work to know what to add to a talisman to make it work. Most of the talismans that Wei Wuxian had created had been innovated or changed completely by Nie Huaisang for his own purposes (killing and confusing people, mostly). There was the Soul Crushing talisman that was invented to disperse one’s soul made specifically for Jin Guangyao but sadly, it was not used in the other life.
“The Wen had begun their “patrol”. They sent the dire owl to probe for weaknesses of the Cloud Recesses’ shield.” Nie Huaisang state. He saw Lan Qiren tried to control himself from choking on the tea he’s currently sipping. Nie Huaisang made a mental note to stop giving news when the old master was drinking. He didn’t want to end up wet with both tea and saliva. That’s disgusting.
“When and where?” Lan Qiren asked when he finally regained his composure and acting like he didn’t just almost choked. He put down his teacup and put his hand on his knees, resuming elegance that Nie Huaisang knows for a fact is a habit.
“It chased Lan Xichen and this one when I just finished painting.” Nie Huaisang replied, knowing that there’s no need to lie to Lan Qiren about his hobby of painting since he’s told the old master the truth but avoiding answering where the chasing happened as it was a secret of Lan Xichen and him.
“Why was it chasing after you and Xichen?” Lan Qiren asked in controlled panic. Nie Huaisang knew the panic was for Lan Xichen. He had no illusion that Lan Qiren cared for him. As a guest disciple yes, but not as a person. Lan Qiren knows what he’s capable of.
“It was chasing me, actually. Lan Xichen had no part in this but he helped me get away from the bird.” Nie Huaisang replied, voice calm and mild, not like he was just chased by the fucking dire owl that he knew could and would kill him by the person manipulating from behind.
“And why did it go after you?” Lan Qiren questioned, eyes watching Nie Huaisang with a sharp look, looking for any trace of nervousness and fear that he knew would invoke any young teens such as Nie Huaisang, were they to found themselves in the same predicament. He noted that Nie Huaisang only looked mildly annoyed and Lan Qiren can also feel the carefully supressed ire in Nie Huaisang but other than that, he looked fine.
“Like I said earlier, I believed that it was sent here to scour the land and look for any weaknesses in the defence system in the Cloud Recesses by means of using that weakness to occupy the back hill to build a Wen camp or striking through the air where it was most unguarded but the bird going after me was a spur-of-the-moment thing.” Nie Huaisang answered, still calm and level-headed. He reached for the teacup and raises it to his mouth, taking small sips as he was trained to. Nie Zonghui may be his most trusted guard and general but that man is a very strict instructor. He made Nie Huaisang practise such a simple thing as drinking tea a thousand times and making sure that his posture is correct and there was no sound when he sips the tea and it seems very unnecessary seeing as how Jin Guangshan can sprawl when he drank wine but it made Nie Huaisang miss the man.
The sight made Lan Qiren paused for a moment. Lan Qiren thought that this person’s aura is just too different than the usual youth he usually taught. It was more somber and calm than the average youth and even experienced Sect Leaders won’t have this kind of aura. This youth looked unperturbed by the ever-changing future and was like a calm lake without a single ripple. Lan Qiren felt queasy as the word ‘majestic’ passed through his mind. It was bizarre and definitely out of the topic but Lan Qiren thought, this youth is really one-in-a-million.
Nie Huaisang put the teacup down and look at Lan Qiren again. Lan Qiren had one of those thoughtful looks, his hand unconsciously moved to his beard and stroke it slowly, contemplating. Nie Huaisang just calmly waits for Lan Qiren to start giving his thoughts on the matter.
“If it was looking for weaknesses, it means that Wen Ruohan has made his move. Which means that the war is rapidly coming after us. Faster than what you have informed this master before,” Lan Qiren assess, hand still stroking his beard as he thinks. Nie Huaisang only nod as he also thought that the timing is a bit off. “If the Wen sect really build a camp on the back hill, the Lan disciples will have no where to retreat if the Wen sect attacks from the front and ambushes from the back.” He added. Really hating the predicament that the Wen sect put them through.
“I have a solution but it will take some time and a whole lot of talisman papers.” Nie Huaisang replied simply. His eyes shining with mirth and excitement.
Lan Qiren thinks that he is permitted to feel a little horrified.
After the reveal of the truth by Nie Huaisang on his first day as a guest disciple, Lan Qiren can’t help but think that Nie Huaisang is a person that sees the next hundred steps in a plan. A schemer can plan and probably sees the next ten steps but Nie Huaisang can discern what changes will occur and how to counter the changes and how to fix the changes with an accuracy that frightens the old master. Lan Qiren had taste first-hand what Nie Huaisang said as it usually come true. Like today for example, Lan Qiren was called for a haunting in the nearby town and the method to kill it was by directing the sprite to the earth, which was very unorthodox and unusual for a cultivator as they usually just use summons to kill the sprite. That method was given by Nie Huaisang. The matter of today was also predicted by Nie Huaisang. Nie Huaisang didn’t give the exact date but only give the situations and solutions.
Should Lan Qiren believe in Nie Huaisang again this time? When it involves a lot of disciples from other sect and his own sect? When it involves his home? When he’s still sceptical over some of the methods being told by Nie Huaisang?
Seems like he didn’t have a choice but to bedgrudgingly put his trust in Nie Huaisang.
“What methods did you have in mind?” Lan Qiren asked Nie Huaisang, voice carefully neutral, trying to put the judgement out of his voice and body language.
Nie Huaisang give a little smile and pour tea for Lan Qiren and himself. The silence felt stilted as Lan Qiren anxiously waited for Nie Huaisang’s answer and Nie Huaisang himself was very calm as he had already known what to do.
“My golden core is not formed yet,” Nie Huaisang said while tracing the rim of the teacup. “It will approximately take another week for it to form as I can already feel warmth on my dantian .” He grabbed the teacup and look at it before putting it down again.
“I will personally go undercover and kill Wen Ruohan when my spiritual energy is strong enough.” Nie Huaisang declared, eyes promising vengeance and payback.
Lan Qiren was startled. That was not what he had in mind when Nie Huaisang kept bringing the topic of his golden core up. He was just about to open his mouth to talk about the topic of Nie Huaisang killing Wen Ruohan when Nie Huaisang put his hand up. It was considered rude to shut one’s teacher up but Nie Huaisang is fresh out of fucks to give, perhaps for forever, only time will tell. Lan Qiren was only shocked at the elegant way the signal was executed and not on how it was disobedient and how it broke several Lan rules to disrespect one’s elder.
“Please think about it first.” Nie Huaisang advised.
“This one knows the prospect of killing Wen Ruohan is very… distasteful.” Nie Huaisang pursed his lips a little at that, a hint of sneer appeared on his mouth. “However, more problems will arise and even more deaths will occur if he is not eliminated.” Nie Huaisang explained in a vague manner, emphasising on the death part.
“Is his existence related to my nephews’ difficulties hence?” Lan Qiren asked, eyes intense.
Nie Huaisang can’t help but felt amused by this situation he found himself in. He felt like a clairvoyant giving insight to worried uncle about his raised-like-they’re-my-own-blood nephews their fortune in life. He felt it ironic that he will also be giving talisman papers to Lan Qiren to help protect the back hill when they were done with this discussion, just like what a clairvoyant will do when their session ends. Nie Huaisang supressed his amusement and only nodded his head. He can’t help but wonder if he’ll get paid. He cackled in his head.
Nie Huaisang didn’t answer but instead gave another advice.
“Master Lan don’t need to worry. This one can handle this matter as it is within his own capabilities and reasons. Master Lan only needs to continue the work I have requested and discreetly remove everything in the library and the Room of Forbidden Books to the Cold Pond cave and replaced the library with a new copy. The books from the Room of Forbidden Books must stay a secret.” Nie Huaisang advised again, seeing the doubt in Lan Qiren’s eyes. The mention of the Cold Pond cave still startled Lan Qiren who knew that the cave is a sect secret.
“If that is the case, this master will let you handle it. If it gets too hard, tell this master. He will surely be able to help. After all, it is the matter of the future.” Lan Qiren finally give way to Nie Huaisang’s commands disguised poorly as a request. He knows that Nie Huaisang didn’t answer his question directly but his unwillingness to answer the question is answer enough for Lan Qiren. He was struck by how mature the youth seemed to be. His decision-making skill and foresight gave a lot of advantages to the Lan sect, which still confuses Lan Qiren but he will take it.
Lan Qiren thought that the youth should be taking things lightly and break some rules, especially since the youth got a second chance now to redo all the things in life but here he is, helping the Lan sect and saving the cultivation world from a megalomaniac psycho that is Wen Ruohan.
Also, Lan Qiren thought that he shouldn’t be taking orders disguised as requests from a fourteen-year-old guest disciple. He shouldn’t even be having this conversation with another sect’s heir as he should actually discuss this with other elders and Lan Xichen. Nevertheless, here he is. Lan Qiren also thought that he should be the one doing it as he himself thought he’s more capable and had years of experience and an abundant of spiritual energy to spare if he were to kill Wen Ruohan.
However, to Nie Huaisang, Lan Qiren lacked the animosity and vengeance that Nie Huaisang had stored deep inside his heart. Lan Qiren lacked the ‘seeing’ the truth with both eyes and he also lack the patience to plan very meticulously. Lan Qiren only had his nephews to think of but Nie Huaisang have his brother and his sect to think of. Nie Huaisang had to think of every single person that died before the death of Wen Ruohan. He also had to think of the deaths following the death of Wen Ruohan.
Nie Huaisang felt his blood boil despite the eerie calmness he displayed. The Nie rage is just as fierce as his brother’s.
For the man that had killed his father and injure his brother in the other life and for the man who killed his father, planning to kill him and planning to kill his brother in this one, he’ll never let Wen Ruohan go.
Lan Xichen can’t help but felt like he’s being discarded everywhere.
Nie Mingjue won’t tell him what happened. Nie Huaisang won’t talk to him like he used to. Even Lan Wangji had been to busy upholding the rules as he had been made the Head of Disciplinary Department to really have a conversation with him, not that the boy speaks but his presence is familiar to help sooth Lan Xichen’s nerves.
Lan Xichen sighs.
After he left his uncle’s office, Lan Xichen set about handling those guest disciples. The Lans knows how to conduct themselves so he didn’t feel worried about them. He controlled his expression and his voice. Handling the matters with perfect calmness and emanating the aura of an heir.
Fortunately, the guest disciples conduct themselves well. Lan Xichen knew they’ll do mischief somewhere else deep in the night where every disciple should be sleeping but as long as its not in front of him, and as long as it’s not a Lan disciple, he’ll turn a blind eye to it. As a youth, Lan Xichen thought they deserve a little bit of rebellion and wild memories.
When he was laying down on his bed that night, the event of today kept him wide awake.
Despite feeling hurt at the way Nie Huaisang shrug him off, Lan Xichen kept seeing the way the youth smile and laugh, surrounded by wildflowers. Lan Xichen’s heart beat a little faster when he thought of that smile.
Lan Xichen put a hand on his chest, feeling the erratic beat through his night clothes.
He didn’t know why he feel like this whenever he thought of Nie Huaisang. He can’t focus on his studies and his training. He felt happy and elated when he saw Nie Huaisang. He felt sad when Nie Huaisang ignore him. He’ll feel jittery whenever he can’t meet with Nie Huaisang.
There’s a thrum in his veins whenever he thought of Nie Huaisang.
Lan Xichen thought of the curve of Nie Huaisang’s lips.
Nie Huaisang's lashes.
Nie Huaisang’s gaze.
Lan Xichen groan.
Perhaps another night in the Cold Spring will help him clear his mind.
SOOOO?? How did this chapter made you feel? I remembered that I felt kind of confused and irritated when I wrote this because I was thinking of how to make Lan Qiren listen to Nie Huaisang but I just crash into it and made up a bunch of nonsense that I hoped made sense to you guys.
Also, I don't know where I got my ideas and motivations but suddenly I have half of everything lined up already. Right now, there's a total of 21 chapters including ones that I have posted but it's not even close to endgame. I'll try to make it as short as possible but I'm still holding onto the "Write what you want to read. principle so... yeah.
This is getting long.
Enjoy and tell me what you think.
P.S: I found myself feeling very excited when you comment (like I've told you multiple times already) on each chapter that I was full on muffling my screams so I wouldn't disturb my roommate and I need to take a deep breath and get my head back online before I answer any comments, which sometimes shows how lacking my social skill is that I felt the awkwardness exude from my answer. I'm sorry guys. I don't know how to hold a conversation but yes, feel free to comment. I LOOOOVEEE them.
Okay, anyway, goodbye and take care. I heard there's a FLUORONA now aside from the Omicron variant. Take care guys and don't go to crowded places because its dangerous.
Chapter 10: Golden Core
Nie Huaisang got what he wants and Lan Xichen continues to drown in his own thoughts. Its confusing him and confusing the author. And in which Nie Huaisang's heart might just start to forgive Lan Xichen.
So... Hi. Sorry for being late. Classes has been a monster and the assignments had been very last minute and my unmotivated ass also still find it in me to procrastinate the work so.. yeah. I still have one more video to film and edit as an assignment and I'm not looking forward to that.
Hope you enjoy it!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
For cultivators, golden core is a very important element in their peregrination to reach the heaven. For them, it is more important than honour. More important than their sect. And definitely more important than other’s life. For some, it is their gift to form a golden core as fast as a year of training. For others, it takes as long as their whole life to be able to cultivate one. And some was unfortunate enough to not be able to cultivate at all. Some individuals are able to create one for others. And for some individuals, they are able to melt the golden core.
Whoever they are, to them, a golden core is the source of understanding the world’s energy and how to manipulate it to their heart’s desire. How to be powerful and how to protect their loved ones. For geniuses, it took as little as a few days to understand the fundamentals of the golden core. For others, it took months to understand the concept of it. Whichever they are, they desire the golden core like moths desire the light and the warmth of the flames.
People would kill to be able to grasp medicines that were rumoured to strengthen their weak golden core. Some would fight tooth and nail for an opportunity to be able to form their golden core. To those that have a good head on their shoulder, they know that forming a golden core relies on hardwork and a dash of luck –and perhaps genetics also play a role.
And as the night grew dark, cultivators all around the world knows and content themselves with the knowledge that they took that first step in achieving a strong golden core as they lay down to rest.
Nie Huaisang woke up early today. Very early, indeed, that not a single sound of bird could be heard around his quarters. There’s not even the sound of crickets as it always did in the forest. He thought of what felt wrong.
Nothing is wrong.
Instead, it’s the right feeling.
He put his hand on his solar plexus. There’s warmth that radiates from that place inside him and it transfers heat through his whole body. His blood thrums in excitement and he quickly assess his body. He didn’t want to put his hope up but he hoped what he was feeling is accurate.
He took a moment to centre himself and focus all his energy inside. Silence fill the room. The sound of wind could be heard outside.
Nie Huaisang’s heart beats faster as he finally discerned what he was feeling.
Yes! Nie Huaisang finally had his golden core!
Silent tears fell down from the corner of his eyes and fell on his pillow. He clutched his night shirt in his hand tightly like he wants to squeeze the happiness out of himself. He felt like he could jump up and down in joy and weep for days because he is so happy that he finally formed his golden core again.
Nie Huaisang put on his clothes and take his fan to the clearing. He felt jittery and tingles runs up and down his spine. He can feel his hands shaking and his vision is blurry again for the umpteenth time this morning from the tears. He reckons it’s not even five in the morning yet, the usual time all Lans woke up according to their biological clock. He saw no sign of the sun and he’s pretty sure he’ll be reprimanded if he was caught but he knew if he didn’t get up and go out right now, he’ll literally bust a blood vessel from how high and overwhelmed he is.
Nie Huaisang practically runs to the clearing, his hearing is improved by the presence of his golden core so he could avoid an area that potentially positioned a guard in the Cloud Recesses.
He arrived in such a short time that he surprised himself.
He took a stance and starts practicing. He can feel the power running through his veins, his heart. The fan was flipped, thrown, snapped, and flicked according to what Nie Huaisang remembered. His fingers tingles and he can feel his golden core reacting to his practices, becoming stronger and stronger.
If everyone thought Nie Mingjue is a cultivation genius, they hadn’t meet Nie Huaisang. Nie Huaisang can already feel how powerful his golden core is. Even in his other life, he was quite shocked that he could wield this kind of power.
Explosive, deadly, and precise.
Just the use of the Portal Talisman could already mark a person’s core energy level as it used a lot of spiritual energy and the world knew he had a golden core but they assumed it was weak.
Oh, they couldn’t be more wrong in thinking he’s weak.
That’s why his act is so well executed. No one knows the level of his spiritual energy.
As he practices, his hatred towards everyone that did his brother and him wrong grew stronger. He can’t wait to finally tore Wen Xu’s and Wen Chao’s face. He can’t wait to finally kill Wen Ruohan.
A blast could be heard just as he came to see his vision. Too lost in his hatred he was that he didn’t realise that he had razed the clearing. Some branches are hanging by a thread.
Nie Huaisang hummed at his own power in appreciation. He flicks his fan close and take out a handkerchief to wipe away his sweat, his jitteriness already melting away along with the energy he spent.
“Finally.” He said softly, eyes closed and looking towards the sky, feeling the cold, morning breeze caressing his face slowly.
He opened his eyes and look at his fingers. Blue sparks could be seen on his fingertips in tiny wisps when he pokes his golden core. His eyes light up more and more and he giggles in delight. He felt like he could fly from how happy he was. He knows he’ll form the golden core eventually. Anticipate it, even. But anticipating it and actually having it is two different things and feelings that he can’t describe grips his heart and squeezing it until he’s short of breath.
He laughs breathlessly, hands gripping the clothes over where the golden core now sits snuggly on his chest.
Wen Ruohan, just you wait. This useless Nie Er-Gongzi will come and destroy you!
Now’s the time for revenge!
There’s something different with the way Huaisang smile today, Lan Xichen thought as he saw the youth walks into the dining hall. The youth looked more radiant and his eyes are twinkling, more than Lan Xichen had ever seen it since he came to the Cloud Recesses for his studies. More even after he was finished with his paintings and pets.
Lan Xichen’s heart grew tight with unknown anxiety but he schooled his expression into the same cool calmness of an heir apparent. His Shuoyue by his side was gripped tightly.
Lan Xichen tried to think of things that could thrill Nie Huaisang. It’s not that he didn’t know that some other students have an inclination to spread and sell yellow books among themselves despite the obvious rules being carved in stone that forbid it for them to read. He didn’t think that Nie Huaisang is the kind that read those kinds of books but he had seen the youth hand out those book from his sleeves the other day, so, that left little to his imagination.
He didn’t even know why he thought of this as the number one reason that Nie Huaisang is happy but between Gusu education and restrictions to a happy release in the form of a yellow book or a happy and willing partner, it doesn’t take a genius to come to the same conclusion that Lan Xichen had.
And he can’t deny that his heart constricts when he thought of Nie Huaisang in bed with another, be it a male disciple or a female disciple. His grip on Shuoyue tightens even more but he fought his impulse to close his eyes and take a deep breath in frustration. He forcefully loosens his grip on Shuoyue and put it on his side when they finally sat for breakfast.
Breakfast, as usual, is a silent occasion. He noticed that Nie Huaisang didn’t eat much of the food and the youth is even more jittery than he usually is. He made a mental note to go down to Caiyi Town to buy some meat for Nie Huaisang later as he knows that the food is not to any other sect’s tastes, -or Lan Xichen’s actually. He saw Nie Huaisang take a deep breath and starts meditating right there, on his table, while they’re on breakfast, which he didn’t finish by the way. It sets an alarm in Lan Xichen’s head as it broke a couple of rules (Do not be wasteful. Do not be picky with food. Be respectful and humble. Do not be unreasonable. Do not disregard laws and rules.).
Lan Xichen eat as fast as he can without being improper so he could get up to greet Nie Huaisang. If he is the one that made a move first, others won’t think to much of it. Lan disciples, and to a certain extent the guest disciples, are also allowed to leave the dining hall after one is finished with their breakfast. He could feel the eyes of his uncle burning into his back as he walks towards Nie Huaisang’s seat. Not mentioning his uncle, even the guest disciples seems to anticipate his next action.
“Huaisang, are you free for a quick stroll before class starts?” he heard himself asks Nie Huaisang. Like a scared teen waiting for a confirmation from their parents, Lan Xichen can feel a trickle of sweat runs down his back even though it’s cold in the room.
He saw Nie Huaisang open his eyes and reveal those brown and breath-taking orbs that left him speechless every time he saw it. He saw those eyes focus on his face, blank as an unmarked paper before he saw a force in those eyes slamming down an emotion he can’t name. He saw Nie Huaisang gave a tiny nod and elegantly get up from his seat in one fluid movement that left Lan Xichen breathless. Nie Huaisang fished a fan from his left sleeve and gracefully open the fan with a gentle flick and slowly fan himself.
Lan Xichen felt his feet moves by itself as he followed Nie Huaisang out of the dining hall. In the back of his mind, he’s pretty sure that his uncle is giving him a disapproving eyes at his actions but he could care less.
They walk silently until they reach the garden in the inner disciple ground, the garden where he found Lan Wangji and Nie Huaisang the first day he arrived in the Cloud Recesses.
“What is it that you want to talk about?” he heard Nie Huaisang asks. He’s not entirely focused on the youth’s question but rather his scent. There’s a sweet smell coming from the youth that it made him gulp a little. He took another deep breath and his mind clicked. ‘Almond oil,’ Lan Xichen thought. ‘For his hair.’
“Lan Gongzi.” Nie Huaisang’s sharp tone snapped him out of his daydream. He looks at Nie Huaisang, only to notice that the youth is already looking at him with blazing eyes, tinged with annoyance and bemusement.
“How are you doing, Huaisang?” he quickly covers up his own mistakes. He smiled softly at the youth. Genuinely interested in wanting to know his progress but not the question Lan Xichen really wants to ask.
“That’s not really what you want to ask, Lan Gongzi.” Nie Huaisang shot, seeing right through Lan Xichen’s politeness. Lan Xichen’s smile feeze for a moment before a flush suddenly overcame him. His ears and his cheeks turn pink from what he was thinking of asking.
Nie Huaisang tilt his head to the side, very similar to the act of his pets when he was curious that it made Lan Xichen’s heart stutter at the adorableness. He saw Nie Huaisang quickly put up his fan and covers half of his face. Lan Xichen can’t help but sigh in disappointment in his heart. He’d like to see more of that beautiful face.
“It is. I am curious. How are you finding the Cloud Recesses?” Lan Xichen deflects. If he really asks whether Nie Huaisang got laid yesterday or not, he thinks he could die of embarrassment. Also, do not make assumptions about others is a rule in the Lan sect. He should really stop guessing other people’s private activity.
“Quiet. The Cloud Recesses is really quiet.” Nie Huaisang back down and answers Lan Xichen’s question, head moving to the side, watching the flowers. He looked like a refined heir that it made Lan Xichen’s heart excited. What is wrong with me? This is my friend’s little brother!
“I would imagine. I have been to the Unclean Realm. The contrast couldn’t be more stark.” Lan Xichen replied. He saw Nie Huaisang gave another tiny nod and then it was silent.
Lan Xichen is not used to being the one that starts the conversation. Usually, other people starts a conversation with him and when it was his monthly visit to the Unclean Realm, it was either Mingjue or Huaisang or both that filled the atmosphere with their chatters and brotherly banter. Now, it was almost as if the youth didn’t even breathe when Lan Xichen was near. Just like the situation between the Cloud Recesses and the Unclean Realm, the contrast between the changes in the youth’s temperament and attitude between then and now are too striking.
Lan Xichen wonder what he did wrong. Perhaps, he may never know. Seeing as how the youth deflect and avoid him like the plague whenever they are in the same area. Lan Xichen sighs in his heart again.
It seems like the youth didn’t trust him with anything after that awful, awful nightmare a few months back.
What could he do to remedy that?
They lapsed into a long silence, just basking in each other’s presence until the ringing of the bell from the bell tower indicates the start of the lesson.
Lan Xichen walk as fast as he could, without breaking the rules, past the main gate of the Cloud Recesses to the guest disciples’ area of housing. In his hands, a delicate oil parchment was placed. Inside, it contains the smoked meat he bought in Caiyi Town. His heart stutter in nervousness.
He promised to himself that he will do anything in his power to make the youth be like he used to. He missed the whining tone the youth used whenever he complaints about all sorts of things such as the prices of the brocade in the market, to singing praises of a finished product. If Lan Xichen can make Nie Huaisang smile a little with this peace offering, he’ll consider it as permission to plaster himself into the youth’s life.
He slows his steps when he saw the quarters of the youth. Nie Huaisang had his own quarters because Lan Xichen thought he would love the privacy. He always thought that the youth was a bit squirmish around others when Nie Mingjue wasn’t present. So, he had made a little arrangement that got him some questionable gaze from Lan Wangji.
He could see that the lights are still on, indicating that Nie Huaisang is still awake. Not bizarre, since curfew is not for another half a sichen. He walks silently until he’s standing in front of the door. Hands shaking slightly from how nervous he is.
He took a deep breath, trying to calm his nerves, and bring his right hand up to knock on the wooden door. A moment passed before he heard some movements in the quarters. Another moment before the door open to reveal a slightly dishevelled Nie Huaisang, a few strands escaped from his carefully managed Nie braids and his outer robes askew.
“Did I interrupt something?” Lan Xichen heard himself asks. He felt like smacking his face. What kind of question is that? Interrupting? Something? What something? Don’t say nonsense, ah Xichen! But it was too late. The question was out before he could filter his eyes-to-brain-to-mouth function from what he saw. Certainly, the image of a dishevelled Nie Huaisang short-circuited his brain capacity enough to left him dazed.
He saw Nie Huaisang take a deep breath and compose himself, -albeit not doing anything about the few escaped strands that tugged at Lan Xichen’s heart- and look at Lan Xichen with a penetrating gaze.
“Yes. What is it that you want, Lan Gongzi?” Nie Huaisang asked, hands on the door as he looked at the unfocused Lan Xichen. He saw something in the heir’s hand. And, oh! There’s something that smells good in there, definitely! What is the purpose of Lan Xichen coming here? He usually has duties to do at this time, Nie Huaisang remembers.
Lan Xichen didn’t answer but instead put out his hand and nearly shoved the neatly packed oil parchment on Nie Huaisang’s chest, shocking said receiver. Puzzled, Nie Huaisang took the package and peek into it. Definitely something good! Nie Huaisang thought, but he controlled his glee and give a confused expression to Lan Xichen, tilting his head to the side for good measure. Also, since when did Lan Xichen turns into Jin Zixuan? Being so awkward and tongue-tied?
“I noticed that you didn’t really eat much of the breakfast, lunch and dinner that was served.” Lan Xichen said, his voice calm and expression warm but Lan Xichen tried really hard to stop himself from uncharacteristically shuffling his feet around from sheer nerve alone. He hoped Nie Huaisang didn’t see it.
Nie Huaisang did.
“You didn’t practise inedia. I’m afraid your health will be implicated.” He added. There’s a surprise look on Nie Huaisang’s face, Lan Xichen noted. What? Did Huaisang think no one paid any attention to him? Lan Xichen had to restrain himself from grabbing and hugging Nie Huaisang to comfort himself and the boy. He knows he should pay more attention towards the boy before. He had no excuses strong enough to backup his negligence but he’ll try to make it up slowly to Nie Huaisang.
The cold in Nie Huaisang’s heart thaw a little by the sweet gesture. Nie Huaisang is used to denying his body what it wants and what it needs but he can’t deny that food is one of the best way to his heart.
Unthinkingly, Nie Huaisang’s expression melt a little into something that Lan Xichen can detect as fond and nostalgic before he saw the emotions get wiped clean and Nie Huaisang’s face become as blank as an empty paper. Lan Xichen’s heart seized and panic a little at the blank expression that he thought didn’t suit the lovely youth, thinking that he did something wrong. Before he could think or say anything to fix whatever blunder he commits, Nie Huaisang looked at him with an appreciative look.
Giving a small smile, Nie Huaisang look at Lan Xichen and say, “Thanks. I’ll enjoy it.” He then steps back a little and close the door without waiting for any reply.
Lan Xichen stare at the door, once again closed to his curious probing, and only felt a little (not a little) intoxicated from the smile that Nie Huaisang directs at him. Lan Xichen could feel his face did something embarrassing but lucky for him, Nie Huaisang had already retreated back to his quarters and unknowingly leave an astounded Lan Xichen to stare dumbfoundedly at the door, replaying again and again the exact moment that Nie Huaisang smile at him.
Well, looks like Lan Xichen got Nie Huaisang’s consent. Lan Xichen felt his face flush even more at that.
Looking at the package in his hand, Nie Huaisang walk to the sitting area, unbeknownst to him, leaving the adorable mess that is Lan Xichen outside. He sat elegantly and put the package on the table.
After unwrapping it, the fragrance of the smoked meat fills the room and made his mouth water. Damn Lan Xichen for knowing that Nie Huaisang like meat!
It’s not that Nie Huaisang didn’t want to eat Gusu’s dishes. He had lived off of it for months during the war and even after being Sect Leader, he had come to the Cloud Recesses often enough that his palate can tolerate the plain and boring vegetarian dishes that the sect lived on. He even proposes his own cook back in the Unclean Realm to make some vegetarian dishes that suit his taste. However, it’s the medicinal soup that they have to drink as the appetiser at each sitting that really kill his tastebuds and made him nauseas enough to not finish the food. It’s even bitter than most medicines that was prescribed to Nie Huaisang in his whole entire two lives. (Also, he just got his golden core. He's giddy. Spare him some nag.)
So, you can imagine his relief when Lan Xichen came knocking on his door while he was busy napping to hand over a package of oil parchment filled with delicious victuals. Ah, to have food handed over to you.
Nie Huaisang take out a silver needle from his sleeve and test the food to check if it was poisoned. He knew Lan Xichen wouldn’t tamper with it but old habits die hard. After making sure it’s safe, Nie Huaisang take out a pair of chopsticks from a small cabinet on the table and wipe it clean with a handkerchief, that he produced from the lapels at his chest, before he picks a piece of meat and put it in his mouth.
Involuntarily, he moans out loud and he closes his eyes and chew slowly. His tastebuds sings when the flavour hit his tongue, his jaws tingled and he could see colours dancing behind his closed eyelids. Trying to savour the flavour. If he didn’t already love Lan Xichen, he would’ve already fallen in love.
He could love someone and want to strangle them.
As he goes through the dish slowly, he can’t help but felt touched by the sweet gesture Lan Xichen made. It’s not that he can’t go out and buy his own. He could because he knows the Cloud Recesses inside and outside. He knows the nooks and crannies that the disciples know and the unknown. Moreover, he’s almost the same age as Lan Qiren himself, so he could damn well go out to Caiyi Town and buy it. However, there’s only another two months and a half before the exchange program will end. He’s patient enough to wait for a few months before he could continue with his mission and eat what he liked. He knows long ago that some sacrifices need to be made to make sure that lives could be preserved.
Still, Lan Xichen saw his reaction towards the food that was served and take it upon himself to go down the mountain and buy him some food that will better suit his taste while he’s also undoubtedly busy with his own homework, training, and duties and all the trip he had to make to other sects to build a stronger friendship with them.
Nie Huaisang sigh.
He wasn’t trying to make excuses for Lan Xichen to forgive the man but Nie Huaisang knows that Lan Xichen is a complicated-but-simple man. Lan Xichen love and trust without condition. Lan Xichen always give the benefit of the doubt to those he loves. Lan Xichen just wants everyone to get along because he loves peace and those kinds are what Nie Huaisang knows best. Their mind is really that simple to understand. They’ll try to fix whatever’s broken so everyone can be happy. Perhaps, Nie Huaisang will have to teach Lan Xichen on how to let go of his trauma but that is for another day.
He might forgive Lan Xichen, he realises. It will take some time to forgive the man because he just offered food as a conciliatory (because Nie Huaisang knows that much about Lan Xichen) but maybe, with time, Nie Huaisang can finally look at Lan Xichen and not feel betrayed or resentment or annoyed or like the tightly controlled anger that he felt against the man would explode or the deep longing that lingered even when he sleeps.
Those might vanish with time.
Years later, when both Nie Huaisang and Lan Xichen are getting ready to go to bed and Nie Huaisang told him about “The Story of the Smoked Meat” that was the catalyst of Nie Huaisang forgiving Lan Xichen, he’ll find himself with an arm full of red-faced and teary-eyed Zewu-Jun at his disposal and he had to work extra hard to make sure the esteemed Zewu-Jun can beg for his forgiveness again and again to his heart’s content until Nie Huaisang’s back was littered with bruises and cramps but that was later.
Much, much later.
So??? How was it? Kind of underwhelming right? I just don't know how to make it grander hahahahaha. but still. It felt like 'it' for me. so... *shrug*
But yeah, tell me what you think? Give me some ideas to make the fan technique more particular or rigorous. I'm really not good at this y'all.
And what do you think about Lan Xichen giving food to Nie Huaisang like a Young Master giving a safety pendant to a Young Lady to gain affection? I seriously wrote that on a whim. The only important thing in this chap is actually that Nie Huaisang got his golden core back and that is it but I thought, no, that's too short, so, I added a few scenes. and then I can't stop.
Also, Nie Huaisang was reading a book before he decided to nap on the floor. He drools a little. Just thought you might wanna know.
and did you realise that I did a Mulan impersonation on the first paragraph? "Dishonor on you! dishonour on your cow!" I changed it to "more important than honour. More important than their sect" hahahahahaha I can't. I laughed at my own jokes. I'm so lameeeeeeee.
Anyway, thanks for reading ✧◝(⑅•ᴗ•⑅)◜..°♡
Chapter 11: Xue Yang
Nie Huaisang met a past life benefactor and despite the horrible things they did, it still left Nie Huaisang feeling indebted. Also, candy always win!(Video) ENG SUB《陈情令 The Untamed》EP03——主演：肖战、王一博、孟子义
Hey hey hey!! I'm back!! Sorry for being late. It's been like, what? A month? Anyway, this is a short chapter and I tried to keep it lighthearted. I mean, I think this is lighthearted.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The morning dew left the leaves shining when the sunlight hit the surface and made the already cold atmosphere of the Cloud Recesses even more cold than usual. Birds are chirping and the sun is surprisingly cool against the student’s skin. Perhaps, that’s just the Cloud Recesses.
Nie Huaisang thought that he can’t wait to get out of here.
Nie Huaisang also thought of the people, the precedents of the Gusu clan that gradually add the rules on the stone in their free time. Like, who the fuck had that much fucking time and energy to find and commit those rules inside their brain? Well, Lan disciples, that’s who. Nie Huaisang can’t imagine memorising that much rules because he lives by his own rules but he respects it enough to not criticise it in front of the sect’s disciples’ faces.
Then again, he had lived two lives by now. It’s impossible to not remember any rules. At least two thousand was memorised against his will. After all, to beat people at their own game, we must first know them.
These days, he had worked hard to increase his spiritual energy. Like his brother, his gift for cultivation is immense. Just two months had gone by and he already had a third of his original spiritual energy, which was equivalent to half of Nie Mingjue’s. He wrote in his letters to Nie Mingjue that he had formed his golden core but he had not mentioned his progress, in case the letter was intercepted by other sect, and Nie Mingjue was ecstatic and demand that he practises harder so he can spar with Nie Mingjue later.
Nie Huaisang longs to see his brother again. He misses him. Time was not spent wisely in his other life, so he was unable to spend it with his brother, too caught up in his usual frivolous hobbies. He promised that after he was finished with his business and the whole killing Wen Ruohan thing, he’ll spend as much time as he can with Nie Mingjue.
Two weeks before the lesson officially end, Lan Qiren receive a letter from the clan’s benefactor, Nie Huaisang, because that’s what he is in Lan Qiren’s head. The boy, -ah, man- had helped his clan and sect with the preparation and plans with the sect’s library and strategies to fight the Wen if they were to occupy the back mountain.
The letter said that Nie Huaisang will leave for a mission for a few days and will be back as soon as he can. The only thing that Nie Huaisang emphasised was;
Something will happen while I’m out. Wait for me before you make a decision. Do not be unguarded. Do not be obtuse. Do not slow down the progress of the book. It must be done before I was back in the Cloud Recesses.
It was written in Nie Huaisang’s beautiful calligraphy.
Lan Qiren called his nephews in.
Nie Huaisang watched the youth in front of him. The boy was dirty and a little unkempt. He looked harmless but Nie Huaisang could still see some of that vitality and cruelty that he remembered, unconcealed properly. Less polished and less volatile maybe but he is still the boy he remembered.
He let the boy sit in front of him, elbows on the table and looking at Nie Huaisang with a smug look on his face as he speaks freely.
“You were looking for me, right? I heard you asking that soup lady around the corner.” Xue Yang asked, his voice was dripping with curiousity and suspicions, his gaze filled with casual contempt and maliciousness. Nie Huaisang only look at him, gently fanning himself with the fan that had the landscape of Gusu that he managed to put together like the one in his other life, eyes vigilant and calculating as he observes the boy.
“What is it that you want? You don’t look like a normal person. You have those rich-Gongzi air around you.” Xue Yang observed, finger tapping his chin in a manner that remind Nie Huaisang of the old Xue Yang. “So? You want me to kill people? I can do that. I have so many ways. You want it to be gory and bloody? You want the heads separated from the body or mangled? You want the whole household exterminated? I could do that.” Xue Yang said again, a smirk plastered on his face.
Nie Huaisang realised long ago that Xue Yang is just a boy. Perhaps a year or two younger than himself and the boy had to live in such a brutal world where the weak got taken down. Literally. And in a few years’ time, the same boy would exterminate the whole household of cultivators that made him lose one of his little finger. Nie Huaisang will change that.
“Have some candy.” Nie Huaisang said, taking out a high-end candy that he bought in Caiyi Town from his left sleeve and put it on the table, gentle pushing it at the boy. He watched as longing and hunger filled the boy’s face at the candy and he saw the boy looked uncertain at the turn of event. Nie Huaisang nodded his head again as permission and Xue Yang took the candy and delicately unwrap the paper. Nie Huaisang didn’t think that he could put ‘Xue Yang’ and ‘delicate’ in the same sentence but here he is.
He watched as the boy savour the sweetness of the candy.
After three pieces were eaten, he saw the boy’s eyes filled with suspicions at the lack of violence and yelling.
“Why are you doing these?” Xue Yang asked, even as he was busy unwrapping candy after candy after the question was spilt. Nie Huaisang only give a small smile before he took out a piece of yellow talisman and feed it his spiritual energy. The bubble that encased them was invinsible so it was unlikely that anyone could see it.
“I want you to be a spy.” Nie Huaisang finally said. He saw the boy choked a bit at that and he pushed a glass of tea towards the boy. Xue Yang hastily drink it and looked at Nie Huaisang incredulously.
“What?!” Xue Yang exclaimed when he got himself under control. “Have you lost your mind? I am not one for spying! I do killing! Massacre! Big scenes! I don’t do subtlely!” Xue Yang argued, eyes wide open in a blatant display of lying.
Nie Huaisang huff silently at his poor attempt to lie and close his fan, eyes watching every tick on Xue Yang’s face. He smirks and point his fan at the boy’s puffed chest.
“You don’t do subtlety and yet, you could steal pouches stealthily and not get caught.” Nie Huaisang said drily, a tone of knowing was released from his voice. Xue Yang quickly put his left hand on his chest, letting the lost little finger come into view. Nie Huaisang huffed again.
Xue Yang narrowed his eyes and take out his knife. Nie Huaisang only looked amused at the crude way the boy was trying to threaten him.
“You better tell me who you are and who sent you and what they want or you never leave this stall.” Xue Yang said in a warning tone, the boy was standing up and leaning over the table to point the knife at Nie Huaisang’s neck. Nie Huaisang looked at the boy’s posture, unperturbed by the knife almost pressing against his neck. He hummed a little.
“Have you ever thought of joining a sect?” Nie Huaisang asked, ignoring the pitiful threat spoken by Xue Yang, a threat that didn’t even made sense because Xue Yang is a delinquent, why would anyone want anything to do with him except for hiring him to do horrible things? The boy’s eyes widen at the question and he visibly deflate in front of Nie Huaisang.
“I’ve already asked around. They won’t accept anyone over seven.” Xue Yang grumbles, hands crossing over his chest for a moment before he unwrapped more candy and put it in his mouth.
“And how old are you?” Nie Huaisang asked, wanting confirmation.
Xue Yang looked at him with a suspicious gaze but answers bitterly because he got nothing to lose, “I’m thirteen.”
Nie Huaisang’s heart ached a little at doing this to such a young soul. Well, a cruel and malicious soul, twisted even but nonetheless, young. He knows Xue Yang had a deeply complicated masochist’s characteristics that he fell into because of how he grew up (which made the boy enjoy pain, in case you don’t know), so he wasn’t worried for the boy’s safety if he was tortured for now. He could handle himself. Nie Huaisang knew what he’s capable of even as young as he is. There’s no doubt in his heart and mind that this young Xue Yang is also as deathly as his old self. Well, a little less but same thing.
“My name is Nie Huaisang. I am the Second Master of the Nie sect.” Nie Huaisang finally introduces himself. He watched as Xue Yang’s eyes widen in surprise and recognition at the name before laughter was heard from the boy, his body racking along with the force of the laughter.
“You want me to believe you are from one of the Four Great Sects? And that you’re here? In this small town? Looking for me? You must be crazy. I’m not that stupid to believe you.” Xue Yang said in between his chortling. Nie Huaisang only looked at him with an amused gaze.
“You have seen cultivators.” Nie Huaisang stated, a small and calm smile was plastered on his face as he looked at the boy in front of him. “I understand your reluctance to believe that I am a cultivator simply because I wasn’t carrying a weapon.” He added.
He takes another teacup and filled it with tea. He sipped the tea gracefully and Xue Yang’s eyes on him grew even more vigilant and puzzled.
“But Xue Yang ah, not all cultivators cultivate the same weapon. Some cultivate using the swords, as is common and traditional. We, the Nie sect, cultivate using the saber. The Lans, they cultivate using the music. Some even cultivate without any weapon at all. This, you must learn before you enter any sect so as to not offend them.” Nie Huaisang explained, looking at Xue Yang like he’s looking at a little brother.
Xue Yang. Such a difficult and wild character. Such a hard chess piece to attain. Nie Huaisang had taken months (and tonnes of candies) trying to get Xue Yang on his side in the other life. Xue Yang worked for him for a while, helping him with gruesome tasks (like killing cats and releasing the corpses and helping him track down Sisi and Bicao). He also sees Xue Yang as someone he could protect, oddly enough, because Xue Yang gives off an aura of loneliness, much like he did when he was appointed as the Sect Leader, and desperation, like he did when he was struggling to find his brother’s murderer and like a little brother, that Nie Huaisang wants to protect.
The harsh environment had made Xue Yang grows quickly and made him looked older and twist him into a cruel person to survive living in the street. However, in that short moment, Nie Huaisang saw a little bit of the child in Xue Yang as the boy looked at him with wide eyes, full of excitement at the prospect of joining a sect and a tint of disbelief but mostly excitement. All too quickly though, like the boy knew he showed too many emotions on display to strangers, he was back to being the cruel little bitch that he was and looked at Nie Huaisang with ridicule and said in a biting tone, “Like I fucking care what you cultivate with and if I offend them. It’s not like I want to cultivate.”
Which shows how much he cares. Nie Huaisang knew firsthand, how skilled Xue Yang is if he put his mind to something. His core is also not weak as he is a descendant of the great Xue clan, which produces many excellent cultivators. He could cultivate even if he’s past the prime time.
“I can let you enter a sect, if you want.” Nie Huaisang offers, still calm and unperturbed by the boy’s hostile tone. Nie Huaisang had dealt with a much deadlier Xue Yang. This baby is easy enough to manipulate. He wants to bring Xue Yang into the Nie sect. The boy is a pain in the ass and will definitely headbutt with da-ge a lot over something so minor but he’s hardworking and can be earnest when he wants to. He can’t ever be fair and honest as what the Nie sect practices but he can be swayed enough to make the right decisions.
For a moment, he sees a flicker of doubt and want in the boy’s eyes but it hardens again and Xue Yang let out a mocking scoff like he didn’t believe in that offer and he rolled his eyes, refusing to speak of the matter any longer. The boy had given up on his own cultivation before it starts, it seems. Nie Huaisang sigh and softly said, “Well, if you don’t want to, then I can just hire you to be a spy then. I can pay with both candy and silver.”
He sees a gleam in the boy’s eyes and he watched Xue Yang contemplate silently.
“Speak and I’ll consider.” Xue Yang said, appearing shaken and out of his elements from all the turn of events that didn’t involve yelling, hitting, and cursing. The thought of having candies made him rethink on working for this crazy Gongzi, anyway.
“I want you to spy on the Wen sect.” Nie Huaisang stated, voice turning business-like. Xue Yang tilt his head to the side and looked puzzled. He nodded his head as a gesture of ‘go on’. “I want you to enter the sect, send me informations about the layout of the palace, the schedule of the guards, the number of disciples in the sect, the gossips, the secrets, the hidden pathways. Everything.”
“I also want you to become Wen Ruohan’s informer. You will misguide him about the Yin Iron…” at the mention of the Yin Iron, Nie Huaisang felt a sharp knife on his neck. Nie Huaisang calm his gaze and looked at Xue Yang calmly.
“You knew about the Iron. What is your purpose? How do you know? What do you want?” Xue Yang asks harshly, body leaning against the table (again) and threatening Nie Huaisang (again). Nie Huaisang sigh softly. This kid is still way to suspicious of people but if Nie Huaisang starts criticising, he’ll be a hypocrite.
“I know things. Just like how I know that you lose your little finger when you were seven and who did it.” Nie Huaisang said succinctly, not enjoying being pointed a knife at his most delicate part but he knew Xue Yang is all but trusting of anyone but Xue Yang and he knows he looked shifty, so he had to endure it because only Xue Yang could help him in this. If he went to Nightless City alone, Wen Ruohan would send his bird and fierce corpses again to kill him. Nie Huaisang is too lazy to face that. Also, Xue Yang had the surname Xue. Anyone with the Xue surname will be sought out by Wen Ruohan.
He saw Xue Yang clench his left hand, the one that lost the little finger, and he saw the hatred burning deep in his eyes and the heavy resentment air around the boy.
“If you continue down this path, you will regret it.” Nie Huaisang said softly, leaning forward and letting the knife grazed his neck, letting it break skin and bleed. He didn’t care, he needs to make Xue Yang forget the idea of exterminating the Chang clan. That is the bane of his life. He added, “You also can’t live and eat candy anymore if you take revenge.”
Xue Yang’s eyes widen again and he pushed the knife deeper. Nie Huaisang winced but he held his ground. Xue Yang is easy to manipulate, hard to stop once he did something, so Nie Huaisang wants to prevent him from doing anything stupid before he could start and anything that could ruin his life as early as he could before the boy did something he’ll regret.
Xue Yang looked young for the second time today. He felt young, too. And exposed. Nobody knows what he wants and nobody ever tried to help him become better. They all just assume the worst of him, beat him up, and treat him worst than they did animals. So, he had no choice but to be who they said he was so he could survive. However, this crazy (and rich, apparently) Gongzi offered to let him join a sect and when he refused, he still wants to hire him for an easy job in exchange of candy and silver. He didn’t yell once, didn’t show any indication of wanting to hit him, didn’t look hostile, didn’t threaten him, wasn’t angry at him for being rude (because he is sensitive towards people’s emotions, he knows when people are angry and looking down on him) and simply treat him like a human.
This crazy Gongzi looks unreliable and frivolous but Xue Yang thought that he’s better than those yellow-clothes cultivator that beat him up for a measly two silvers.
“What do you know?” Xue Yang asked, eyes hard and his anger bleed through is voice. The knife on Nie Huaisang’s neck still pressed hard to make him bleed.
“You will be hated by the cultivation world if you take revenge on the Chang clan. Your little finger is worth it but losing your life over massacring the whole clan is not.” Nie Huaisang advised. Enduring the pain on his neck.
“It will be worth it if I could avenge my lost limb. I don’t care about what people think.” Xue Yang retaliates, still angry and in denial. He can’t believe this crazy Gongzi. All of them lied. Nobody wants to help me. Everyone just use me. I did so much and they all still lie!
“You just want someone to buy you candy and love you for who you are.” Nie Huaisang voiced out Xue Yang’s deepest desire, voice soothing, trying to coax Xue Yang to stop doing something foolish and could destroy his life.
Xue Yang retracts his hand and sit down. Silent and contemplating.
’If this crazy Gongzi is right, I could possibly ruin my life more than I already did. He seems to know my hatred for the Chang clan, which no one knows and he doesn’t look like he lied about these things. Besides, it’s just a simple job. I can do it, no problem. I get free candy and perhaps get recognition. This crazy Gongzi maybe will offer me to enter his sect again, if he was even from the great Nie sect. This brings many benefits to me. I will only lose sleep and I have to be extra careful if I were to really do this job. I have gambled for less and I have done far worse than spying.’ Xue Yang thought, deeply contemplating the pros and cons of the job.
Nie Huaisang fish out a handkerchief from the lapel of his chest and wipes at the dripping blood, wounds already scabbing over as his golden core work on healing it. It will take time to heal but Nie Huaisang will be fine. He didn’t care because securing Xue Yang’s agreement is more important than the mortal wound.
Despite being a truly cruel and twisted soul later on, Xue Yang is intelligent. Nie Huaisang is confident in Xue Yang’s ability to see the benefit of working for him.
It was silent for a while. Nie Huaisang pour tea for Xue Yang and himself. Ate some of the snack he bought from Caiyi Town and observe the other customers from where he sits.
“I’ll do it.” Xue Yang agrees, eyes looking at Nie Huaisang with vigilance. Triumph pulse in Nie Huaisang’s veins. He knew Xue Yang would agree. The offer of candy will forever sway Xue Yang.
“But at my own price. The silver and the candy stays,” he paused, right hand reaching for the tea and gulp it down like he would wine. “and I want to enter your sect.” Xue Yang added, eyes glaring at Nie Huaisang as if daring Nie Huaisang to say otherwise. Surprise runs through Nie Huaisang’s brain. This boy still wants to enter a sect even after all that bravado of not giving a fuck.
Nie Huaisang chuckles and says as much, “Earlier, you said you didn’t care about entering a sect and that you didn’t care about what a sect cultivates. Now you want to enter one, ah?”
Xue Yang glared at him sharply and Nie Huaisang only chuckle again. “You want me to do the job or not?” Xue Yang said, angrily and sulkily. Nie Huaisang laughs at that.
“I do, I do.”
“… then tell me that to do!” Xue Yang demand. This crazy Gongzi! How dare he laugh at me! Xue Yang thought angrily. But, regardless of how he was feeling, he can’t help the warmth that spread through his chest at being treated like a normal person.
Once Nie Huaisang finished laughing, he explains the instruction to Xue Yang, “A week from now, there will be four cultivators wearing red attire with a sun on their chest coming here to find you. You will be your usual cunning and annoying self, follow them, and work your way into the Wen sect and misguide Wen Ruohan about the Yin Iron.”
“Are they working for you?” Xue Yang asked, hands once again busy reaching and unwrapping the candy.
“No.” Nie Huaisang answered simply. Xue Yang jerked his head to the right a little at that admission.
“Then how do you know what they’re wearing and that they’ll come for me and when they’ll come?” Xue Yang asked, confusion and bewilderment clear in his voice even though it was muffled from how stuffed his mouth is with the candies.
“I told you, I know things.” Nie Huaisang didn’t say anything more beyond that no matter how many questions Xue Yang throw at him.
Nie Huaisang magically produced an agreement letter, a red cinnabar, and a dry brush from his left sleeve. He opens the letter and told Xue Yang to dip his thumb into the cinnabar and stamp it on the letter. Nie Huaisang then wet the brush –he soaked the brush in ink and let it dry so when he wet it, he can write without having to grind more ink-, and told Xue Yang to write his signature. Nie Huaisang also does the same.
“This is an agreement that I will fulfil my promise to you. If anything were to happen to me, you can find help with this,” he gave Xue Yang a little earring, “give this to my brother, Nie Mingjue. He will know what to do.”
Xue Yang just nod, put the earring inside his chest lapel and he goes back to his candy.
When he left the boy to his candy and a few silver to fend for the week, Nie Huaisang went back to the inn that he stayed at. He got ready to retire for the day as he is still exhausted from his flight to Kuizhou from Gusu using his saber (he nearly used four fifth of his spiritual energy to fly as fast as he could for 2 days without stopping and Kuizhou is faaaaarrrrrrr from Gusu).
Eventhough he didn’t actively cultivate his saber like he did his fan, he’s still able to feel his spirit saber, Aituan. He’s still able to command Aituan and fly him. He won’t disregard Aituan like that. That saber probably knows that the real Nie Huaisang from this world is already gone.
Nie Huaisang startled slightly at the confirmation hum that he got from Aituan. Damn, Nie Huaisang thought. He got another hum from Aituan. Aituan is such an important spirit to Nie Huaisang. To be able to cultivate him again is a gift. He felt the purr of Aituan’s contentment at that comment and Nie Huaisang rubbed the hilt of Aituan before he crashes on the bed, exhaustion hitting him. He hadn’t had a chance to properly rest as he is a little anxious and wants to speed up the process of recruiting Xue Yang.
The saber was left on the table in front of him, along with a few of books that he brings just to relieve boredom in case he had to stick around long enough to find Xue Yang and made him agree to play spy for him. Who knows that it only takes one encounter and a whole lot of candy to secure the agreement?
With Xue Yang working for him, his plan can proceed smoothly. After the whole fiasco is done, he can finally repay Xue Yang.
So, what do you think??? I kinda felt that it was too short.
Also, what was Nie Huaisang wanting to repay? That was added in Chapter 16. I know, it was soooooo far away right? But it is in the outline, so, it will be explained.
Next chapter is a little fluffy fluffy hahahaha because I think it's about time I wrote something that involves LXC and LWJ being cute brothers together.
P.S: I just finished writing Chapter 13 and it was 13 pages long on Word. Idk why it took me that long to write a chapter but writer's block is no joke. When there's nothing, there's nothing.
Chapter 12: Do you like him?
In which Nie Huaisang accomplished another satisfactory mission and a cute interaction between the Two Jades of Lan.
Hiiiii. Just a head's up, updates might be slower (well, slower than it already is and I hope I can finish this before my hair is salt and pepper) since I'll be starting my thesis. So... I'll try to update when I have the time.
P.S: This is not an April Fool's joke.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Flying is not one of the transportation that Nie Huaisang liked. He prefers the carriage, or even a horse would do. But flying is fast and Nie Huaisang suprises himself with his efficiency in flying his saber. If only da-ge (from the other world, the dead one) could see him now, making use of his saber like he always demanded of Nie Huaisang, how proud he would be?
He landed near the gate of Caiyi Town and put his saber into his qiankun pouch, didn’t want anyone to see him carrying any weapon even though there’s one right in his right hand.
An expedition to recruit and hire Xue Yang is done. There’s only one mole left to rid of.
Or make use of.
Nie Huaisang heard the voices of the vendors all around the town. Shouting prices and attracting customers and newcomers alike to their shop. Vendors selling trinkets and oh, is that Emperor’s Smile at the dock? It’s been years since Nie Huaisang had drunk the wine because he had no reason to go to Gusu except for the usual Conferences that was held in the Cloud Recesses.
Nie Huaisang went over and bought four bottles from the vendor. The jadeite-like bottles cool against his warm hand. He put it inside his qiankun pouch and continue to walk towards the gate of the Cloud Recesses.
His presence and elaborate robes made the vendors called out to him in fervour, wanting to attract his attention and bring sales to their shop. However, he only fanned himself slowly and smile at them in refusal. He walked gently but his great bearing made the people around unable to look away, as if they were drawn to this particular cultivator.
There are lots of cultivators that stayed in Caiyi Town over the course of the year. They have weapon somewhere on their body at all times, be it a sword, a saber, a bow and arrow, a machete or a musical intrument. Some wore red robes or purple or yellow or grey or green or white. Caiyi Town also prided in itself for being the home of one of the Great Four sect, the Gusu Lan sect. Refined and dignified cultivators wearing white was always protecting them from beasts, demons and ghouls. However, none of them could compare with this stranger. He looked elegant and majestic. His braids were attractive and intricate. His gaze is calm and steely. The way he carried himself, as if nothing in this world matters, as if he had faced many rains and torrents but managed to still remain calm, attracts many eyes in the town. The vendors had never met any more refined gentleman than this one.
As the gentleman walk past their vendor, they can’t help thinking, ‘Is he already matched with any young lady? I have a daughter.’
If Nie Huaisang heard these thoughts, he’ll surely be horrified.
And all the eyes watch his figure until eventually, he was lost in the sea of people.
Half a sichen later, he arrived at the gate of the Cloud Recesses. The disciples that act as a guard let him pass without much question, which shocked him a little because unless you’re a Lan disciple or given a token, you require an invitation or you have to be fetch by someone from the higher ups but he guessed that Lan Qiren had mentioned to them to let him pass if he ever made it back in time.
Just as he walks past the stone wall that had many of the sect’s rules, he heard a voice greeting him from behind.
“Nie-er Gongzi.” The voice called. Nie Huaisang turn around and saw Lan Qiren walking towards him, looking like he was waiting for Nie Huaisang to return.
Nie Huaisang greet him and both began walking towards the inner courtyard side by side.
“Before you left, Nie-er Gongzi mentioned that something will happen while you were gone.” Lan Qiren start just as they were turning a corner. Nie Huaisang hummed in response. Their pace is not too hurried but not too slow. “A disciple was caught smuggling the Lan sect’s cultivation book. When inquired why, they were silent.”
“Ah, yes. That one.” Nie Huaisang said. He snapped his fan close, cross his left hand over his chest and tapped his fan on his chin. Lan Qiren only looked at him with a mixture of shock and disbelief but there’s relief in that gaze.
“Bring me to him.” Nie Huaisang said, looking up at Lan Qiren with serious eyes.
Lan Qiren was once again strucked by how mature this baby-faced youth are. Not only did he seemed to know what happened but his ability to make a precise decision always left Lan Qiren a little breathless and in awe.
“What are you planning to do to him?” Lan Qiren can’t help asking. The disciple they had caught didn’t say anything but the act of smuggling out Lan sect’s cultivation book is against the rules. Lan sect’s cultivation book is not permitted to be seen by anyone who is not a disciple of the Lan sect. The Lan sect cultivation technique is his heritage. His ancestors had worked hard to create and cultivate and develop the cultivation and honed their skills to perfection and now, some ruffian just want to steal it? Anger seemed to explode in Lan Qiren’s head at that.
Nie Huaisang didn’t answer and just gave a little smile that send chills down Lan Qiren’s spine.
When they arrive at the place where they detained the disciple, Nie Huaisang had already come up with a plan to help accelerate the process of killing Wen Ruohan.
The offender was forced to kneel on the floor, hands tied behind his back and on his forehead, a less intricate cotton forehead ribbon was situated, indicating that he’s not from the inner clan and probably joined the clan quite late, as he looked kind of old. There was four disciple stationed to guard him on his side. They moved aside when Lan Qiren and Nie Huaisang enter the barren room.
Lan Qiren did a gesture to the four disciples to release the offender. The disciples did a quick job and the offendor rub his wrists when he was released. Lan Qiren ordered the four disciples to leave.
“Please bring some tea and snack.” Nie Huaisang instructs a disciple. The disciple in question only bowed and quickly prepare everything that was asked. A table was set, snacks was put in the middle of the table, a new tea set was arranged near the end of the table and cushions was placed on the floor for the three of them. Nie Huaisang thanked them and he sat down. Lan Qiren reluctantly sat beside Nie Huaisang and the offender suspiciously sat down in front of his teacher and a high-born that looked like he wasn’t supposed to be involved in another sect’s business.
Once the door was closed, Nie Huaisang fished out a yellow talisman, the symbol on it different than ones he usually used. He channeled his spiritual energy into it and the invisible bubble encase the whole room, instead of just them. Lan Qiren eyes the talisman and noted that a symbol was drawn backwards. He wonders how Nie Huaisang knew how to create talismans, but that was a question for later. Right now, he had to focus on this traitor.
Nie Huaisang pour the tea and hand them to each of the occupants of the table.
“Drink some tea, Su She.” Nie Huaisang said, a small smirk was seen at the corner of his mouth. His fan was nowhere in sight, Lan Qiren noted. The traitor, Su She, who Lan Qiren hadn’t told Nie Huaisang the name of, was looking at Nie Huaisang with his eyes wide.
Nie Huaisang drink first, as a display that the tea didn’t contain anything dangerous. Su She hesitates for a moment before he can no longer avoid his thirst. He gulped down the tea and goes for another serving.
Nie Huaisang let him and he also eat some snack, just as an indicator that Su She can eat some if he desired. The three of them was silent, Lan Qiren was busy observing the offender, Nie Huaisang was busy putting Su She in his plan, and Su She was too busy eating to really think of the consequences of his actions.
After drinking and eating was done, Nie Huaisang finally spoke.
“Now that you’re no longer parched and starving, will you please tell us why you smuggled the Lan sect’s books out?” Nie Huaisang asked, voice calm but there’s a little bit of a murderous intent concealed (because of how closely related Su She is in being a catalyst to many deaths in the other life, he can’t help but be a little angry and murderous. Furthermore, one of them people had been his big brother!), already knowing the answer.
Su She felt that the gaze of the high-born deeply piercing. If looks could kill, Su She would perhaps be dead since the high-born came in.
“Who are you?” Su She asked rudely, ignoring the question. His hand grabs another snack and observe the high-born as he eats. ‘He doesn’t look bad. A little young and maybe a little aloof like that Lan-er Gongzi, wore an extravagant grey robes that didn’t obey the rules of the Lan sect and looked harmless. Why is he the one interrogating me, though?’, Su She thought, feeling puzzled and a little repressed by the presence of his teacher and even more so by the high-born.
“My name is Xia Shan. I think you already know who I am.” Nie Huaisang answered, looking at Su She and seeing realisation dawns in his eyes. Su She visibly gaped and Lan Qiren also look at Nie Huaisang in confusion, not understanding the context of the conversation.
“You’re the one!” Su She exclaimed, fingers pointing at Nie Huaisang in disbelief. “I am right in assuming that ‘Xia Shan’ is not your real name?” he added, voice slipping through his gritted teeth, disbelief and betrayal running through his veins like the blood that flows.
“You are right. My name is Nie Huaisang. The Second Master of the Nie sect.” Nie Huaisang answered, eyes observing Su She but his right hand reach out and grasp the teacup and take a sip. Su She gaped again as the title sink in and Nie Huaisang’s reputation take a hold in his brain.
Nie Huaisang. The famed Second Master of the Nie sect that is infamous for not forming his golden core yet. The little brother of the infamous and genius cultivator, Nie Mingjue, Sect Leader of Qinghe Nie. Su She can already feel an ache on the back of his head from shock.
Then, the one I’ve been in contact with these past months are the heir of the Nie sect?! Su She thought, he clenches his hands until his knuckles turns white and his hands are visibly shaking.
Nie Huaisang hand a letter to a Nie disciple.
“Give this to an outer Lan disciple by the name of Su She. Don’t tell it was from me. Wait until he replied.” Nie Huaisang instructs. The disciple received the letter and bow before he went to find Su She. Nie Huaisang watched the retreating back of the disciple, head already thinking on how to befriend the traitor.
Su She. Such a loyal subject. Such a good worker. To cast him out or to use him? Nie Huaisang can’t decide. Su She also plays quite a big role in his da-ge’s demise but he’s also only following orders from the devil. He is definitely useful and capable of doing amazing things. He’s smart, not really handsome, and he’s a bitter guy –something that Nie Huaisang can relate to.
Nie Huaisang decided to see how Su She responds to his letters and make a decision from how their interaction will develop.
An incense stick time later (about 15 minutes in modern time), the Nie disciple that was responsible for waiting on the letter came back, face confused but determined. Nie Huaisang felt a little puzzled but he didn’t ask.
“Nie Er-Gongzi. Su She asked me if I could point you out if you were in the area because he wants to see the person that gave him the letter.” The disciple asked, head bowed and hand out the correspondence to Nie Huaisang.
“Tell him, it’s not time yet. I will meet him when the time comes. You can say that to him,” Nie Huaisang said, left hand reached for the letter while his right was busy fanning himself, it was a surprisingly hot day in Gusu today.
“Alright.” The disciple answered and Nie Huaisang gesture for him to leave, the disciple gave a bow as farewell and left to deliver the message.
Nie Huaisang enter his quarters and went to the table. He put the letter on the table and went to brew some water to make tea with some tea leaves infused with bergamot oil. Strong tea is hard to find in Gusu so he had to bring his own. He waits patiently for the water to boil while he contemplates the content of the letter from Su She.
Nie Huaisang only write his pen name and asks if the Lan disciple wants to be friend with him. Knowing Su She and his inferiority complex, he’ll be pleasantly surprised that someone knows him, knows his name and what his position in the sect is and seek him out, especially since a lot of the Lan disciples scorn him (in a Lan way, because they’re awfully polite, you see?) for entering the sect late.
Nie Huaisang put some tea leaves in the white teapot and pour the boiling hot water after it and let it steep for a short incense stick’s time (short incense is usually 5 minutes long). After the tea was done steeping, he pours the tea into the white teacup and blow on it softly before taking a sip, movements automatic and practised while his eyes got a little bit of that faraway-look.
Nie Huaisang can still see the holes in Su She’s chest, sometimes. In the other life, when he sleeps and the day was particularly stressful, Nie Huaisang will oftentimes get nightmares on the night in the damned Guanyin temple. He will see Su She’s cursed chest and he will see Wei Wuxian’s accusing eyes, Lan Wangji’s disapproval, Lan Xichen’s disbelief, and Jin Ling’s anger. He sees Jin Guangyao’s indifferent eyes gazed on Su She’s chest and practically see his brain only focusing on lying to Lan Xichen’s face because he knows, as long as Lan Xichen support him, Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian, and even the whole cultivation world, will relent. Then, he will see da-ge’s corpse, the resentment aura surrounding him made Nie Huaisang felt suffocated and how his target after death is still Jin Guangyao. Then he’ll remember how he woke up screaming bloody murder to his cold room, with ringing in his ears, Nie Zonghui by his side, reminding him that he did a good job in avenging his brother.
He still remembers how empty Su She’s eyes was, his body losing warmth rapidly and he still remembers how devoted Su She is in saving Jin Guangyao’s worthless life. Nie Huaisang thought that Su She is a good pawn. He’s also good in staying behind the scene and working undercover.
He opens the letter and as expected, Su She’s letter was full of empty sugary words. He expects Su She to be a bit rude on the first letter but he’s glad it was just an empty placating words. He could deal with that.
People that felt forgotten, will take a hold of the person that sees the value in them. Such is what happens to Su She.
It took months for Nie Huaisang to manipulate Su She into telling him what his dream was and convince him to take action and establish his own sect before the exchange end, because he’ll never have the opportunity again since Nie Huaisang will not be there to help him (Su She already knows it’s a Nie disciple that sent letters to him). Nie Huaisang had helped him gather a few people to smuggle the copied Lan sect books out (provided that it was actually Nie sect disciples disguising themselves as people interested in joining a new sect).
Since Su She is an outer disciple, him going down a mountain often is not seen as a problem. Su She had managed to smuggle a lot of valuable books containing a wide range of categories like the book of healing songs and battle songs, copies of ancient scripts and many other with the help of Nie Huaisang and Nie Huaisang is so proud of the Lan disciples because they managed to copy the book so quickly that Su She didn’t noticed that the original was already replaced.
The day before Nie Huaisang got back from his expedition, he had sent a message to the Nie disciples-disguised-as-civillians to not go to their rendezvous spot so Su She will be captured by the guarding Lan disciples.
Nie Huaisang smirked.
“Then how lucky you are. You managed to make a fool out of me.” Su She replied bitingly, eyes glaring at Nie Huaisang. He can’t think clearly behind his anger. He could feel the shame well up in his stomach and anger continues to rise the longer he thought of the situation he got himself in.
“You are not a fool,” Nie Huaisang said mildly, neither praising nor condemning Su She. “You are just an underappreciated disciple with too big an ambition.” He added, eyes clear with barely concealed gratification but his mouth is unsmiling at his own scheme.
“So what now? You do this just because you’re bored or something?” Su She asked rudely, eyes blazing with anger as he glare at Nie Huaisang. ‘I knew it was too good to be true when someone offers to help me build my own sect.’
“Now?” Nie Huaisang asked, eyes darting between Su She’s red face and Lan Qiren’s confused ones. He laughs a little. Su She’s brows knitted together when he heard Nie Huaisang laugh.
“Now? I have a deal for you.” Nie Huaisang states as he took out his fan from his left sleeve and flipped it open. He really hoped he’s not wrong in judging Su She’s character. Su She is loyal, yes but he’s also feeling a little betrayed at Nie Huaisang right now. He might not take the bait.
“What deal? It’s not enough to betray me like this? You have to humiliate me again? Ah?” Su She replied rudely, the anger that was dampened by his confusion and bewilderment rise again, stronger this time. The anger was fanned a little brighter when he saw the Second Master smile at him with that innocent smile.
“If you are willing to do one job for me, I will be the one providing money and new manuals for your new sect.” Nie Huaisang states, eyes observing Su She’s face carefully. If he could add just another one of his pawn in the palace of the Wen sect, it will help him a great deal more than just Xue Yang. Xue Yang may be intelligent but Su She is meticulous. Just like his past master, Su She is able to grab any information he could get just by observing and probing the right person.
Su She just realised how young the person sitting in front of him is. He’s also small. Way smaller than Su She himself despite already being fourteen. ‘Perhaps the growth spurt didn’t come and greet him yet,’ thought Su She. He can’t help himself when he kept looking at the youth in front of him, offering him things he’s not sure the boy can afford. Su She is older than him by a few years but he’s pretty sure he can’t invent a new manual just like that. ‘But,’ Shu She guessed, ‘he is the heir of a prestigious sect. He must have a lot of money.’
“Why are you offering this to me?” Su She asked again, a little less rude than before, already attracted by the offer made by Nie Huaisang. He really would like to establish his own sect. He wants to make his parents proud and prove to the world that a cultivator that learn the way of cultivation late like him can also form his own sect and be successful.
‘Damn, this boy knew too much of what I wanted.’ Su She thought as he found himself being blatantly manipulated.
“I just want you to be a spy.” Nie Huaisang states, still looking at Su She. He noticed that Su She seemed very interested at the promise of forming his own sect if he did something for Nie Huaisang.
Nie Huaisang also noticed that Lan Qiren is oddly quiet beside him. He chances a look and he can see how red Lan Qiren’s face is. Anger really is not a good look on the old master as he looked constipated. Nie Huaisang’s nostril flared up a little at that. He noticed that the old master’s hands are clutching the fabric on his knees in an attempt to pacify himself. He’s pretty sure the old master is reciting the sect’s rules. His observation ended when he heard Su She talk.
“A spy for what?” Su She asked, voice bursting with suspicions and curiosity. Su She thought that the job can’t be an easy one. To establish a sect, the price that he had to pay might be too much for him to bear.
“For taking down the Wen sect.” Nie Huaisang replied shortly, wanting to see the reaction of Su She. He saw the initial widened-eyes of Su She, a clear indication of shock and disbelief on his face, and the hands that tried to grab at something to steady himself. He can also see Lan Qiren jerked away from him when the old master heard him.
Nie Huaisang ignore Lan Qiren in favour of Su She’s answer, he can explain to Lan Qiren later.
“You do know that that is the Excellency, right?” Su She asked, his eyes darting between Nie Huaisang and his teacher. Not believing his ears and the sheer confidence in the youth’s voice when he voiced the deal.
“Yes.” Nie Huaisang state, patient in trying to goad the Lan disciple to work for him. He could be patient. After all, he had waited a little over a decade to avenge his brother’s murderer.
“And you still want me to spy on him?” Su She asked, deadpan. Not believing his ears.
“Yes.” Nie Huaisang answered simply. His eyes look at Su She with anticipation and he waited for Su She to think of what he would like to do.
Su She thinks. Working for Nie Huaisang increases the chance of him building his own sect. Not accepting the offer means he’ll be kicked out of the Lan sect and losing everything he’s worked for.
“Why me?” Su She heard himself ask the Second Master.
“You are meticulous. You are loyal. You are undeniably useful in this area of expertise. You are also capable of advancing your cultivation through the manuals that I have read,” Nie Huaisang answered, his words are sincere and and praising, shocking Su She and Lan Qiren.
One was still in shock over Su She’s betrayal to the Lan sect and adding to it is his benefactor’s seemingly trust in the offender. The other one was shocked at the trust that was put into him.
Su She felt a little gratified at being chosen and seen by such a highly positioned individual. Well, he had heard that this Second Master is unreliable and only know how to play and low in cultivation but sitting in front of the figure now, he’s pretty sure the boy is much more powerful than he let on. Su She is unsure whether he wants to take the job or not.
Seeing Su She’s hesitant face, Nie Huaisang decide to use the Lan disciple’s anger against him.
“Su She ah, don’t you want to avenge your mother?” Nie Huaisang asked, eyes not looking at Su She but at the teacup he’s fiddling with his left hand, knowing he got the boy’s full attention now.
“What do you know?” Su She asked, curious and the old hatred that was buried in his heart was once again ingnited and erupted into a big flame.
The death of Su She’s mother had always been a mystery. His father never wanted to say anything against the people that had struck his mother down but he knew it’s someone powerful. No one will shut up about the death of their loved ones if the person that did the killing is low in status.
Su She grab the cup to drink the tea, feeling like his throat was so dry from his anger that he felt sandpaper running down his throat when he swallowed his saliva.
“Your mother was killed by a Wen disciple by the name of Wen Zhuliu,” Nie Huaisang replied, “or better known as the Core-Melting hand.”
Su She spurted the tea he drank on both Lan Qiren and Nie Huaisang.
Both Lan Qiren and Nie Huaisang closed their eyes at the assault of warm tea on their self. It dripped into their eyes and wet their hair and their attire. Nie Huaisang took out his handkerchief and wipe his face, feeling slightly disgusted at the idea of being covered by saliva. Lan Qiren also does the same, but with more murderous intent than Nie Huaisang had felt in himself.
Su She had the gall to only look mildly guilty at his actions, which irked Lan Qiren but amused Nie Huaisang.
‘Lan Qiren took my news better than this when he was drinking. At least he covered it up with a cough. This guy is really unsubtle. If he’s not gifted with a high cultivation and a diligent nature, I wouldn’t even think of using him’, Nie Huaisang thought.
The moment passed.
“How do you know?” Su She asked, looking at Nie Huaisang with an intensity that shocked Lan Qiren and Nie Huaisang.
“My spy in the Wen palace found a log book that Wen Zhuliu kept. It has names of people that he had their core melted.” Nie Huaisang lied smoothly. He knew of this from his past life while he was investigating Su She. He never even knew if Wen Zhuliu is the kind that keep trophies. From his time in the indoctrination camp, Wen Zhuliu is a mild-mannered person and he didn’t speak much but his loyalty towards Wen Ruohan really astonished Nie Huaisang. If he could get someone like that, he could proceed with so many of his plans but since he couldn’t, he had to settle for less.
“Doesn’t mean my mother’s name is in there.” Su She shoot back, not believing what Nie Huaisang said but his perception is swaying. If Wen Zhuliu is his mother’s killer, it would explain his father’s withdrawal at accusing the killer. If the Wen sect is really behind his mother’s death, he will kill every single person responsible for his mother’s agony. He had to see his mother struggle with fatigue and dying from a simple cold. He had to bury his mother before her hair turns white. He remembers the smell of his mother’s favourite incense when they bury her.
“Your mother is Su Yu Yan, right? Her maiden name is Li.” Nie Huaisang goad again. Su She’s mother is a good cultivator of her generation and Su She’s father is an exceptional martial artist who didn’t have a golden core.
Su She’s face darken at his mother’s name.
“What should I do?” Su She asked, voice tight with rage and hands clenched tightly. The way of the Lan sect is really not suitable for Su She. Su She is a person that didn’t really care for rules but this is the only clan that will take him after he made a sob-story about being kicked out of another sect and the only reason he was brought in to be the outer disciple is because he has an exceptional golden core cultivated from his mother’s teachings.
Nie Huaisang flipped his fan close and put it on the table and took out a letter from his left sleeve. He also brings out the red cinnabar and the dry brush.
“You only have to tell me everything about the Wen sect. Their secrets, their gossips, the secret books they took from the Xue sect, the important people, the work.” Nie Huaisang states, giving a look at Lan Qiren, who looked at him in shock at how fast he could get Su She to do as he wants.
“This is an agreement letter, sign your name and stamp your thumb. You’re old enough to be held responsible for this. Master Lan is also here as a witness.” Nie Huaisang said, hands working to put everything to work as he speak. Su She sign his name and stamp his thumb. “If anything were to happen to me, you can go to my brother, bring Master Lan with you, and ask him about the apricot blossom. He will know what to do.”
He then proceeded to stamp his thumb and sign his name on the agreement. This letter, he gave to Lan Qiren for safekeep. He didn’t need it because he will fulfil his promise but Su She is a highly sceptical person. Nie Huaisang got through to Su She only because he managed to convince him that he had to avenge his mother. Nie Huaisang is lucky he even remembered Li Yu Yan’s name or he’s doomed.
“Rest, Su She. You will be going by tomorrow night. My spy will be informed of your presence in the palace.” Nie Huaisang informed, he then deactivated the talisman and put it in between his chest’s lapel, stands up in one fluid moment, mesmerising Su She and startling Lan Qiren and proceed to walk towards the door. Lan Qiren also stand up and follow after Nie Huaisang.
“Oh, before I forgot,” Nie Huaisang chastise himself, he turns and look at the seated Su She, “you look better in green than the Lan attire.”
Ignoring the offended look of Lan Qiren and the astonished Su She, Nie Huaisang walk out of the room and headed to Lan Qiren’s office.
There’s a lot to explain to Lan Qiren. And there’s also a lot to conceal.
Lan Xichen emerges from his mountain of paperwork by the knock on his door. He stretches his stiff back, his aching wrist and fingers, before getting up and walk up to the door.
Lan Wangji, with his usual stoic and cold face, came into view when the door was slide open. In his hand was a tray of food for dinner. It seems that Lan Xichen had missed his dinner again, he realised.
“Xiong-zhang.” Lan Wangji greeted Lan Xichen. Lan Xichen smiled and gesture for Lan Wangji to set the tray on the other table at the receiving room.
Since the both of them still share a place with Lan Qiren, they had a tacit understanding of keeping everything clean and in place. They had to sleep at an appropriate place and eat in appropriate place. If Lan Qiren were to enter Lan Xichen’s room, he was sure to have a heart attack from the tsunami of paper in Lan Xichen’s room.
It’s not often that Lan Xichen will work beyond his schedule but he really got immersed into his work. There’s so many paperwork to review and so many things to understand as a part of his training to become the Sect Leader. He had to understand how to manage the agricultural site so he could make sure that the sect’s disciples had enough to eat and he had to learn how to managed the sect’s expenses. It was exhausting but he’s sure it could help him in becoming a good Sect Leader. Unlike his father.
“Eat, Xiong-zhang.” He heard his brother said. He didn’t realise that he had zoned out and was staring at the bookshelves. Shows how tired he is.
He smiles at his brother sheepishly and pick up the chopsticks. The clan rules do not permit one to speak when one is eating but Lan Xichen can make exceptions. Especially since his uncle is not here.
“How is your studies, Wangji?” Lan Xichen asked his brother. His brother look at him critically because Lan Xichen is eating! He’s not supposed to talk while he’s eating!
“Exceptions can be made. You’re my brother. I will talk to you even when I’m dead.” Lan Xichen jests but at the mention of death, Lan Xichen can already see Lan Wangji’s complexion turns paler, his eyes showed vulnerability that Lan Xichen didn’t like to see in his brother.
Questions forgotten, Lan Xichen sighs. Bad time to make jokes when Lan Wangji just visited their mother’s house yesterday.
“I’m sorry.” Lan Xichen said regretfully, looking at Lan Wangji with regret in his eyes. Lan Wangji hummed in acknowledgement and look away from Lan Xichen, hurt in his eyes and Lan Xichen can already guess what Lan Wangji is thinking and feeling.
Lan Wangji is such a gentle soul to Lan Xichen. He didn’t know how to express himself and he didn’t know how to interact with others so he spends his time cultivating in seclusion. Every disciple his age envy him and wants to be his friend but no one knows how to be friendly with Lan Wangji, so Lan Xichen always saw him go to lessons alone, eat alone, study alone, practise alone. It didn’t help that Lan Wangji is just as exceptional in cultivation as Lan Xichen is. That made others even more intimidated to befriend him and felt that he was way out of their league.
Lan Xichen ache for Lan Wangji. If there’s anything he could do to make his brother smile, he would sell his soul for it. He didn’t get to see it often but the occasional shared mirth between them is always a balm to Lan Xichen’s heart.
Lan Xichen eat as quickly as he could and put down his chopsticks when he was done. He moved a little to the left and open his arms. A clear invitation for hugs. On a sad day after every time Lan Wangji visited their mother’s house, he was always a little more touch-y. Lan Wangji’s ears redden but he stands up and walk round the table, flopped on his brother’s arms and buried his face into Lan Xichen’s shoulders.
Lan Xichen could feel hot tears soaking the fabric on his shoulder. He hushed Lan Wangji, rocked him a little, like he used to do when they were younger and Lan Wangji had nightmares, he caressed his brother’s back and continues to rock Lan Wangji back and forth. It’s been a while since he was able to hug his brother like this. Lan Xichen missed it.
Lan Wangji was always a quiet-crier. There’s no ugly-sobbing. There’s no snot dripping down from his nose. There’s only tears and the occasional sniffles. Lan Xichen is a bit embarrassed to admit that he’s definitely jealous of his brother for being able to be pretty even when he cried whereas Lan Xichen’s face will be red and he will sob hard whenever he cried.
Now’s not the time for jealousy, though. It’s been a tough week for Lan Wangji. For Lan Xichen too, honestly.
Their uncle called them in to tell them that the Wen sect had been spying on the Cloud Recesses’ and there might be an attack in the future. Their uncle had instructed them to help copy the book in the Library Pavillion and was introduced to a small number of very trusted disciples, already halfway through copying the books in the library. They were then instructed to transfer them into the Cold Pond cave, which, both Lan Xichen and Lan Wangji only knows the existence of.
It was a stressful week.
With more hands helping the copying work, especially since both Lan Xichen and Lan Wangji are excellent calligrapher and a very competent worker, the work was done after 3 days. The both of them was given a leave the next day to recuperate (which Lan Wangji wastes by going to their mother’s house but who is Lan Xichen to judge, he still goes there someday) and today, Lan Xichen had to face paperwork again and Lan Wangji undoubtedly had a rough day too, since some of the guest disciples liked to antagonise him.
“There, there. It’s alright.” Lan Xichen sooth his brother. Lan Wangji sniffles again and he lean away from the hug. When Lan Xichen saw his brother’s face again, Lan Wangji’s nose and the corner of his eyes was red. Lan Wangji sniffle again and Lan Xichen wipes away his tears with his thumb.
“You do know that mother is in a better place, right?” Lan Xichen asks, he didn’t want to make his brother seems like a child but sometimes, Lan Wangji had a hard time letting go of the people he loved and that means Lan Wangji suffers more than Lan Xichen do because Lan Xichen mourned and be sad and then he’ll try to move forward. Lan Wangji flat out refused to believe it and even denied it at one point. So, it breaks Lan Xichen’s heart at his brother’s deep feelings. Like he thought, Lan Wangji is a gentle soul. Albeit a stubborn one.
Lan Wangji nodded and looked at Lan Xichen pitifully. Lan Xichen cooed and hug Lan Wangji again.
“Aiyaa, Wangji ah, you made me worry of ever letting you out and face the world.” Lan Xichen lamented. He felt more than heard Lan Wangji huffed in amusement. He let go of Lan Wangji and peer into Lan Wangji’s face.
“There! There’s that shine in your eyes again!” Lan Xichen exclaimed, smiling widely and thumbing another stray tear from Lan Wangji’s porcelain-like cheek. Lan Wangji hummed in answer and he went in for more hugs from Lan Xichen because Lan Xichen gave the best hugs.
It was quiet for a moment. Both of them hugging each other like they used to when they were kids.
Suddenly, Lan Wangji asks a heart-stopping question.
“Nie-er Gongzi caught Xiong-zhang’s fancy?” Lan Wangji asks, voice muffled a little because he’s still hugging Lan Xichen. He felt his brother stiffened when the question was properly processed.
“What?” Lan Xichen croaked, hands squeezing Lan Wangji to the point where it got uncomfortable. Lan Wangji butthead Lan Xichen at that and Lan Xichen snapped from whatever he had been thinking and looked at the figure in his arms.
“What?” Lan Xichen tried again. Lan Wangji pushes away from Lan Xichen’s amazing hug to look at Lan Xichen in confusion. His narrowed eyes seemed to convey his message because Lan Xichen stuttered when he anwers next, “W-what do you mean f-fancy?”
Lan Wangji raised his right eyebrow and look at Lan Xichen in disbelief. He hummed. ‘Do you mean that you did not observe Nie-er Gongzi? Do you mean that you didn’t take extra effort to give him his own quarters? Do you mean that you didn’t go down the mountain to buy him food because you fancy him?’
These two seemed to have a deep understanding of eachother that just a hum could convey all of Lan Wangji’s questions to Lan Xichen, who apparently speaks Lan Wangji.
“I did all of that just because I was concerned.” Lan Xichen reply, looking at Lan Wangji weirdly. Lan Wangji’s left eye twitch whenever he thought Lan Xichen was doing something particularly stupid. This time, it twitched many times. To the point even Lan Wangji seemed mildly annoyed at his own eyes, which made him glare at Lan Xichen for being the source of annoyance.
“Wangji, I can assure you, that nobody caught my attention. I’m too busy for that right now.” Lan Xichen denied, his reasoning is flimsy at best but he still goes on.
‘I do not like Huaisang, right? I’m just concerned because he’s my friend’s little brother. Right?’, Lan Xichen thought frantically. All he can think of is the butterflies in his stomach whenever he thought of Nie Huaisang and the smiles he still sees whenever he closed his eyes.
Realisation dawned in him. He looked at Lan Wangji’s triumphant eyes.
“I might like him, Wangji.” Lan Xichen utters, voice small and unconfident, scared and not someone Lan Wangji would associate with the word ‘weak’. His brother is better than that.
Lan Wangji hummed his answer. ‘I know! You have been staring in his direction whenever he’s in the same vicinity as you!’ to which Lan Xichen could feel his ear redden a little. He didn’t think that was noticeable.
The night was spent with Lan Wangji listening to what his brother liked about Nie Huaisang and assuring him that liking Nie Huaisang doesn’t mean he’s betraying Nie Mingjue’s trust. Lan Wangji swears that he’ll reciprocate the attention given to him once the person Nie Huaisang mentioned make an appearance so he didn’t have to tell his brother about them (little did he know that he’ll be overwhelmed by that person’s attention).
Knowing Lan Xichen, he’ll pick up on the signs and make him talk, anyway.
Of course! That’s what brother’s do!
Xia Shan as in downhill. It’s like a warning that Nie Huaisang is Su She's downhill and also to remind Su She that his plans will only go downhill if he continues to steal Gusu’s books but he didn’t realise that.
What do you think? Tell me! I would love to hear it!
Chapter 13: Acquiring Weapon
Nie Huaisang gets to meet a special person in his quest for the perfect weapon for him and unexpectedly made a baffling discovery.
Hi guys!! It's been such a long time since I've posted any chapter. This is all due to me being distracted and the chaotic schedule I have. Also, the reason I wanted to post today is because it is precisely Friday the 13th hahahahahahhahaha. I felt that the date means something to me. Initially, I wanted to post on the 31st of May because the last time I posted was 31 of March so it kinda sync a little but I thought that I wouldn't have time since there'll be more assignments that I have to finish and I also have that thesis I was talking about so.. yeah. Anyway, enjoy!
P.S: This chapter is a doozy.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The parting ceremony ended nicely and after such a successful few weeks, Nie Huaisang is so fucking ready to get out of the Cloud Recesses. The coldness and the haunting quietness keeps him from being able to relax completely because everything here reminds him of his loss.
Losing his innocence. Losing his friends. Losing his love. Losing to Jin Guangyao.
Every bit of losses made him bitter and bitter.
Nie Huaisang send a letter to Nie Mingjue and informed him that he’ll arrive home late. The reply was a chicken scratch that Nie Huaisang could interpret as shouting. And in his mind’s eyes, he could see Nie Mingjue with his nostrils flaring, brows furrowing in frustration, and hands clenched at his sides in a gesture of enduring his brother’s stupidness but actually concealing the concern behind those gestures. Nie Huaisang chuckled.
This Nie Mingjue or the other life Nie Mingjue; there’s not much difference.
Nie Huaisang put his hand on his chest as he felt the familiar ache. This body of his still sometimes felt things more deeply even though he tried to conceal it. He rubs it a few times and continue putting clothes in his qiankun pouch. He’s got another mission to go on.
His feet touched the soil of Nanchang after he stepped off his saber, hours after he left Gusu in the middle of the night with a simple note for Lan Qiren and the disciples of his sect. He didn’t want them to panic by simply being gone. Being presumed dead is not as fun as people would think. A lot of his privileges will be gone (but knowing Nie Mingjue, the lad will try to find him until the end of the earth anyway).
He put his saber in the qiankun pouch, retrieved his fan and began walking. He walks past by blacksmiths shop after blacksmiths shop.
It was shen hour, so the sun was not too high in the sky but he was still illuminated by the light. His Gusu Lan guest disciple robe made him stand out amongst the black robed local since the sunlight seemed to make him almost glow with Buddha’s light, making him wince at this foresight. He can’t believe he forgot to change his attire. A simple mistake only a rookie would’ve made. Well, he still had a mission here. He can’t bail out. He suppressed his sigh at his own stupidity and continue walking towards his destination.
Nanchang is a city that flourished for it’s weaponry, medical knowledge, clothes making, and the material industry. Though not overly well-known, some famous blacksmiths in the capital cities came from this small town. It was just Nie Huaisang’s luck that he came during the preparation for a Da Shuhua performance or the Festival of Lights, a festival where the blacksmiths cast molten iron at the wall, creating giant glowing flowers. It was a festival that becomes a replacement for the poor townsfolk that can’t afford to buy fireworks. People in Nanchang sometimes liked to have a gathering to keep the citizens’ relationship tight.
All over Nanchang, in its small town and villages, blacksmiths are making preparations for the performance. It wasn’t often that the blacksmiths would want to celebrate but Nie Huaisang’s luck proved to be not bad since his rebirth slash body-possessing-thing.
Nie Huaisang’s destination was Xiangtang, a farming village to the South of Nanchang.
To meet with an old acquaintance.
The people in Xiangtang are all rude-talking people. They speak loudly and their laughters even louder. Nie Huaisang dislike the loud atmosphere now that he’s older but he also knows that’s what made them closer. They had fun together, they eat together, they cried together, they fight together, and they buried the dead next to each other. It was beautiful.
Nie Huaisang looked at the children running, playing a paper toy. Almost on automatic, his feet brought him to a less-taken road. He can feel the townfolks’ eyes looking at him, curious and probing, wondering why this gentleman with a scholarly air and bright clothes and a fan walks toward such a rural area of the village. Nie Huaisang ignore it and let his feet brought him to see the face of his acquaintance.
When he saw the quaint house, his heart beats irregularly. Memories floods into his mind’s eyes and he stands there with a dazed look on his face, his hands clenched at his side from the overwhelming feelings.
Nie Huaisang met this acquaintance when he was chased (unknowingly) by an enemy. One of his cousins wanted the place as the Sect Leader, thus they dispatch a few assassins while Nie Huaisang was busy being a nosy bastard on other people’s town. It was precisely a Da Shuhua performance week while it happened. Logically, Nie Huaisang was not in any of the sect’s capital nor territory, so he didn’t feel the need to keep his guard up. He just came to enjoy the fun since he saw the townfolks talking excitedly with each other (they just speak to each other that way, no wonder he was pulled along with the lively atmosphere). Who knew that assassins were chasing his sorry behind and the next thing he knew, he was stabbed while the performance was at its peak and the people were all cheering and clapping.
Nie Huaisang felt a piercing stab on his left abdomen and his left hand immediately grabbed the culprit. He pulled the knife embedded into his side out and cut the assassin’s throat with it. While he was busy dealing with that one, another one came and stab him on his back. Nie Huaisang grunt and he whirl around, catching the assassin by his hair and put the bloody knife on his neck, he questions the black clad guy in a chilly voice, “Who sent you?”
Nie Huaisang can feel the tremble in the assassin’s body. He idly thought that cowards can work as an assassin now. The assassin didn’t answer so Nie Huaisang pressed the knife harder until blood spilled and the assassin grunt from the pain. He asked again, “Who sent you?”
The assassin didn’t answer but he elbowed Nie Huaisang where he was stabbed and Nie Huaisang grunt in pain. The assassin’s attempt to run was futile as Nie Huaisang immediately cut his throat and blood spurt out.
Luckily, the crowd was loud and the place was dark in order to better see the show. He dragged the assassins’ body to the woods and left them there. Someone will find them later and he didn’t care who. He felt his abdomen and groan in annoyance. ‘This is my favourite robe!’, he thought indignantly. Now the robes had various holes and he had to dispose of it.
Just as he turns around from dumping the corpse, he heard the sound of an oncoming arrow from his right. He leans back just at the nick of time before the arrow made a hole in his neck. He sighed in relief but grunt in pain when his two wounds was jostled by his sudden movements.
Not even a minute after that, he heard rapid movements, like a person was running, from behind him and he turns around just in time to block a knife from grazing his face with his forearm. He’s vain so he had to protect what’s important.
A rush of pain made his forearm tingles and he looked at the assassin dead in the eyes, “Should have done a thorough background check before you attack me.”
Quick as lightning, Nie Huaisang pulled the knife free from his forearm, runs to the assassin before he had the chance to get out of his shock that Nie Huaisang actually block his attack using his forearm, and flip the bastard over onto his back. Nie Huaisang felt, more than hear, the breath being knocked out of the person’s lungs.
With the knife, Nie Huaisang made a few lacerations on the person’s spinal cord and pushing an accupoint on his chest, rendering him paralysed and unable to walk (if he were to be left alive that is).
“I will ask one last time.” Nie Huaisang asked slowly as he knelt down beside the frozen assassin, his voice cold and if the assassin wasn’t already rendered helpless, in pain, and have his scalp tingled with terror, he would’ve run. “Who. Sent. You?”
Nie Huaisang could hear the man gulp in fear. Nie Huaisang looked at him with narrowed eyes that promised death. The man start stammering.
“N-N-Nie Cu Yin.” The man gasped out, breathing laboured from pain and fear, his hands clenched at his side and he wants to move it but his body felt like it has been left out in the cold for too long that it was frozen solid.
“Why?” voice still cold and indifferent, Nie Huaisang question the man again.
“H-he wa-ants to-o be the Se-ct Lead-de-r-r.” the man stuttered out. Nie Huaisang sigh in disappointment.
Nie Cu Yin. What a white-eyed wolf cousin. Nie Huaisang promoted the man since he had talents and he actually tried to kill him? Looking at the knife in his hand, Nie Huaisang slowly stab it on the man’s neck, watching pain filled his eyes and the life drain out of him.
Only when the man was dead did Nie Huaisang get up. Unexpectedly, he stumbled backwards and fall down on his sorry rear. To be this weak after a stab or two, the knife must be laced with poison. There are thousands of poisons in the world, which one was it?
Before he could do anything, like fumble with the antidotes he had on his lapels, the blood loss made him lose consciousness.
When he’s aware of his surroundings, he could smell the bitterness of the herbs and he can hear the sound of water boiling. He tried to open his eyes but it was heavy. His hand throb immensely and his body ached.
‘What happened? Why am I in pain?’
Then he remembered the events before he lost consciousness. The performance, the laughs, the sudden pain, the killing, Nie Cu Yin. He sighs in disappointment.
“Seems like you’re awake now.” He heard a guttural voice beside him.
Quick as lightning and without caring about his injury, he released the tiny blade he kept in his body in the direction of the voice.
“Oi! I just saved you from death’s door! Do you wish to die?!” he heard the voice again but Nie Huaisang was too busy vomiting blood from his sudden movement to care and the dizzy spell didn’t help.
“Nothing vital was hit but there was poison and it attacked your organs. Your core had worked hard to flush it out but the progress is still slow.” He heard the voice again.
“Who are you?” Nie Huaisang croaked out, looking at the seemingly middle-aged man with squinted eyes and bloody mouth. He saw the man looked at the mess of blood on the floor in dismay and then he looked at the hole Nie Huaisang made on the bamboo wall.
“Usually, when someone was saved, they said thanks. How come you want to kill me? So ungrateful.” The man grumbled as he went to find something in, presumably, the kitchen. He came back with a basin of water, a rag, and a cup of water. He handed the water to Nie Huaisang, who looked at it sceptically, and rolled his eyes. He drank it in big gulp in front of Nie Huaisang and handed the half-full cup to Nie Huaisang. Only then did Nie Huaisang take the cup and drink in small sips, ignoring the metallic taste in his mouth.
“What was the point of saving you if I want to poison you? Doesn’t make sense at all. I could’ve jut let you die.” The man grumbled as he cleaned the blood on the floor.
Nie Huaisang looked at it guiltily and clutch his throbbing abdomen.
“Which poison was it?” Nie Huaisang asked after the man was finished with cleaning the blood and start taking a basket and walking towards a table filled with bowls after bowls of dry ingredients, presumably medicines. The man looked at Nie Huaisang with an ambiguous gaze.
“Oh? You know about poisons?” the man shoot back, hands busy weighing some of the dry roots.
“Carried a few antidotes with me.” Nie Huaisang replied. The man chuckled at that and put down the basket and walked to the side of where Nie Huaisang was sitting.
“Those antidotes you have is not going to work against the Blue Flower.” The man said, bent over just to look at Nie Huaisang in the eyes. A chill ran down Nie Huaisang’s back when he heard that. Lucky for him that the man found him or his life would’ve forfeit. The man then goes back to the table of ingredients and pick up the basket.
The Blue Flower is a poison that was extracted from a, obviously, blue flower. It was known in the East for being a pesticide but it was actually highly poisonous towards humans, too. It’s just that, most people didn’t know that. To cure it, one had to be fed a bitter concoction consisting of ginseng, bái tóu weng, dried chrysanthemum, and a few other roots and flower for three days and three nights. The body also had to be constantly massaged to help the circulation of the blood. No pills had ever been refined for this kind of poison, thus, Nie Huaisang was basically defenceless against it.
“How did you find me?” Nie Huaisang asked again. He heard the man sigh.
“Is the reason why they want to kill you is because you asked too many questions?” the man asked back with a sarcastic question, hands busy with measuring the ingredients.
“No. They want to kill me because I’m a Sect Leader.” Nie Huaisang drily retort back.
The man hummed in surprise and looked at Nie Huaisang. “So I just saved a Sect Leader? Am I going to get some remuneration?”
Nie Huaisang rolled his eyes at the man’s obnoxious way of talking. He shouldn’t have said that but it’s out in the open now.
“Probably.” Nie Huaisang said, eyes scanning the room. There’s nothing much in the room. Besides the bed (or cot) Nie Huaisang occupies, and aside from the table that’s filled with those bowls, there’s also another bed (or cot) that looked slept in, a small dining table, and not much else. There’s also another door that leads to the, presumably the kitchen, where Nie Huaisang first saw the man fetch water for him and a large pot on a brick table letting out the sound of gurgling water. It could be seen from where he’s sitting. It’s the simplest house if Nie Huaisang ever saw one.
‘Is this what a commoner’s home is like? Those inns were better. Well, seeing as it’s used to cater to people for a living.’
‘See Huaisang? You have to go out more and experience the life of the commoner so you could help them better.’ he thought to himself.
The man that helped him was busy preparing something. Nie Huaisang observe the man as he worked. The man was busy making batches of medicine pouches (Nie Huaisang had seen Nie Zonghui packed one for him for emergencies). From the table, he went to the, again, probably kitchen, with a bowl in hand and ladled some hot water into it. Clumsily, he brought the bowl and set it on the dining table, grumbling about the water being too hot and grab a spoon and stir the contents of the bowl.
Nie Huaisang can smell the bitter smell all the way from where he was and he grimaces. He’s sure that bowl of intentines destroyer is his. What’s with him and being injured, there’s no doubt it’s his. He gulped.
Revenge is one thing. Bitterness is other. Just because revenge is full of bitterness, doesn’t make him like bitter things. He’s pretty sure his taste buds won’t appreciate it.
“Your taste buds won’t but your body will.” The man said, looking at him with some glee in his eyes.
‘Did I say that out loud?’ he thought. He probably did.
“Your wounds are superficial but since you said you’re a Sect Leader, that means you have to be on your feet soon. How long before your subordinates went crazy looking for you?” the man continues. He then walks over to where Nie Huaisang was still contemplating his life and pass the bowl of stinkiness to Nie Huaisang.
Nie Huaisang scrunches his nose at the smell.
“Drink it. You need it. Otherwise, your body won’t appreciate having to lay down for three months. It’s hot though. Don’t gulp it. Sip it.” The man advises.
Nie Huaisang sighs, he knows the man was right. He sniffed the concoction of death again and almost throw up the water he just drank but he knows that the more the medicine is bitter, the more effective it is. He closes his eyes and resolves himself in drinking it.
Like drinking wine, he throws his head back as he drinks the medicine. Instantly, he felt his tongue go numb. Not just from the taste but also from the burns.
“You stupid boy! I told you to sip it! Are you incapable of following orders?!” the man barked as he took the bowl from Nie Huaisang’s hand and hit his head once with it.
“Fuck. Being burnt is better than tasting it.” Nie Huaisang grimaces as he tries to shake of the taste of death that hit his tongue. His tongue is numb but the bitterness somehow overpowers the burnt feeling.
“The bitter it is, the better. As someone that delves in poisons, you should know this.” The man nagged as he walks to the kitchen with the bowl and he comes back with another cup of water and offer it to Nie Huaisang. Nie Huaisang gladly accepts it.
The man goes through another door that leads to the outside and comes back with a basket full of fresh herbs. Nie Huaisang’s eyebrows shot up in surprise at that. This man is likely a doctor. ‘What else does he need that many bowls of medicine for, right?’ he thought. That’s the most plausible idea right at this moment since Nie Huaisang felt his brain goes numb with the bitter taste in his mouth, even water couldn’t wash the taste away.
“What is your name?” Nie Huaisang asked, only now realising that he hadn’t asked for his benefactor’s name.
“Oh. And here I thought I’m too poor and insignificant to had my name known to you, oh great Sect Leader.” The man said sarcastically from the table where he’s sat, tying the fresh herbs into bundles, presumably to dry it.
“My name is Nie Huaisang. What is your name?” Nie Huaisang ignore that quip and asked again. He heard the man chuckles.
“This lowly one is Liu Nian Zhen.” The man, Liu Nian Zhen, answered jovially. He picked up the finished bundle of herb and waved it at Nie Huaisang.
Nie Huaisang look at the man in amusement.
‘They said that age didn’t corrode a person’s personality.’ he thought and the prove is right in front of him.
Albeit being a man in his fifties, Liu Nian Zhen gave off a vibe of a teen. Using a slightly rebellious tone when speaking and cheerful.
After that brief introduction, Liu Nian Zhen gave a brief direction for the house to Nie Huaisang. Although Nie Huaisang’s back injury was not severe, it renders him basically bed-ridden until Liu Nian Zhen said so. And because he would be staying in bed, Liu Nian Zhen prepared a makeshift latrine for Nie Huaisang, which made him goes red from his chest to his forehead. Liu Nian Zhen just watch as Nie Huaisang suffer from the embarrassment.
Nie Huaisang dig for more information and got to know that Liu Nian Zhen defected from a small sect in the Jin territory because he deemed it too corruptible and that the man was completely devoted to medicine. The villagers occasionally would go and ask for medicine from him.
According to Liu Nian Zhen, Nie Huaisang has been unconscious for the better part of two days. That made Nie Huaisang panicked and in his haste, tear open his stomach injury when he went to grab his qiankun pouch for his xiao. The xiao was used to call his birds since he had trained a lot of them and immediately dispatch a letter for Nie Zonghui to tell him that he’ll be back at the fortress in a week’s time. Liu Nian Zhen had scream at him about being careless with his body and he had told Liu Nian Zhen that it was okay and he’s still young and his recovery would be fast with the help of his golden core.
Not only does Liu Nian Zhen screams at him, the letter he receives from Nie Zonghui also screams the man’s frustration and pent up anger at his careless Sect Leader. Nie Huaisang promised that he’ll be back and that’s the end of it.
On the third day since he woke up, he could already get up and walk from his bed to the real latrine outside the house, courtesy of the bitter concoction that Liu Nian Zhen had brewed, and discover that it has a large courtyard. Recalling that Liu Nian Zhen knew martial arts, Nie Huaisang asked him if he could show his sects’ move (the one he defect from). Liu Nian Zhen agrees. It was a unique style of fighting, one that Nie Huaisang had never seen in any other sects he had visited (and he had visited a lot). It aroused his curiosity and he couldn’t help but felt like he want to learn it from Liu Nian Zhen. However, that was for later.
On the fourth day, there were a few more assassins sent to kill Nie Huaisang. Even though he could move, he couldn’t fight since his wounds are still healing. Liu Nian Zhen ended up fighting those assassins for Nie Huaisang using a fan. Nie Huaisang was enlightened and he asked for Liu Nian Zhen to teach him.
In the cultivation world, when you want a person to be your Shifu, you have to pour him tea and the person have to drink it. Thus, Nie Huaisang became Liu Nian Zhens’s first disciple.
On the day he was set out to go back to the fortress, Liu Nian Zhen gave a few words that made Nie Huaisang confused.
“Later on in life, Huaisang, you will experience a life where you could redo everything and make things right. You can also taste the sweetness of life.”
Not thinking about the words too much (since Liu Nian Zhen talks nonsense sometimes), Nie Huaisang went back to the fortress with the promise of coming back every week to practise and learn more. Liu Nian Zhen jovially accept that and with a new steel fan frame as a gift to his first disciple, he sent Nie Huaisang back to the Unclean Realm.
When Nie Huaisang’s feet touched the courtyard, he can’t help the overwhelming feeling of nostalgia and something akin to longing, that stuffed his chest and consumes him. Liu Nian Zhen had been his secret Shifu. The person that had supported some of his crazy ideas. Impart important lessons and guide him to use some of the skills that he has now to survive in his battle with Jin Guangyao. Had been one of the cheapest person ever but also the most reliable. Other than Nie Zonghui and Nie Mingjue (and Lan Xichen (though he didn’t want to admit it)), there’s no other person that he could trust fully.
With the overwhelming feeling still in his chest, he flipped his fan close and kowtow in the direction of his Shifu’s house, head touching the ground.
He can hear noises inside the house from where he was still kneeling on the courtyard’s door, he lifted his head and look at the source of the noise and then out came the same face he knew and respect.
Liu Nian Zhen looked at him with a basket of herb in hand and jovially greet him, “You came at last! I thought I have to die first before meeting you again! Come inside Huaisang!”
Nie Huaisang and Liu Nian Zhen both were back to the identical dining table that they used to tie herbs together with. Liu Nian Zhen let Nie Huaisang pour the tea as greetings from disciple to Shifu. Liu Nian Zhen drink it in silence.
“You have questions.” Liu Nian Zhen said in a serious voice. “I can practically hear it screaming from your eyes. Ask away.” He added with a cheerful tone, smiling at Nie Huaisang.
“How did you know who I am? That I was coming?” Nie Huaisang blurts out, hands on his knees in a tight grip.
Nie Huaisang knew he’s not the kind that get good things. To have this Shifu as a source of strength had been a blessing in the other life. How come he can get it in this life, too? Nie Huaisang didn’t believe it.
“Did you forget that I told you, you would be able to make things right?” Liu Nian Zhen look at Nie Huaisang with a sceptical look. In bewilderment, Nie Huaisang looked at Liu Nian Zhen in disbelief.
“How are you able to know that? What?” Fumbling with his words for the first time since he woke up in this world, Nie Huaisang can feel his cheeks heat up.
“All my teachings are just wasting my saliva.” Liu Nian Zhen rolled his eyes when he saw a bewildered Nie Huaisang. Really, didn’t his disciple knows he’s kidding only once out of twenty times?
“I’m not human.” Liu Nian Zhen said briskly, not looking at Nie Huaisang.
“What? Then, what are you?” Nie Huaisang asked, shock marring his tone and clear on his face.
“I’m a god.” With a ‘no kidding’ face, Liu Nian Zhen respond and Nie Huaisang didn’t know whether he should laugh or cry or congratulate or called out bullshit on his Shifu.
“Shifu, this one may be young and not know much, but the number of martial artists that had ascended to heaven was less than five in the last 1000 years. Are you trying to tell me that you’re 1000 years old?” Nie Huaisang asked in an unbelieving tone, eyeing Liu Nian Zhen sceptically.
“No. This one is around 90 thousand years old. I’m still in my prime.” Liu Nian Zhen replied with pride in his voice.
“Yeah, like that make it any better!” Nie Huaisang exclaimed in a loud voice with hands on his hair. His eyes look at this cheap Shifu of his with distrusting eyes.
“I know this is shocking but yes, I am a god. I came down to see the mortal world but a friend said I would find my first disciple. So, here I am.” Liu Nian Zhen announced with his hands out on his sides.
“So, you knew that I would wake up in this body?” Nie Huaisang asked sceptically, brushing his hair down from when he had messed it up. Being flexible had always been Nie Huaisang’s forte.
“Yes!” Liu Nian Zhen exclaimed, looking excited. “I also know why your core is so strong.” He whispered conspiratolly.
“What? I thought I got it from my father?” Nie Huaisang looked at his Shifu with a confused look.
“You are stupid. No normal human can have that kind of core. Also, where do you think mortals learn to infused spirits into that saber of yours? Or how to heal with music? Or how to properly learn the way of the swords?” A barrage of questions was thrown at Nie Huaisang that it made him quite speechless.
“Are you implying that a ‘god’ was my ancestor?” Nie Huaisang asked, feeling like a kid again in front of his Shifu (well, looking at that age, even the oldest human is still a kid).
“Well, I retract my statement. There’s still hope in you yet.” Liu Nian Zhen looked kind of pleased at that that it kind of confused Nie Huaisang.
“So, you’re saying that a real god is my ancestor?” Nie Huaisang exclaimed, hands placed firmly on the table in shock.
Liu Nian Zhen rolled his eyes and looked at Nie Huaisang like he’s judging his intelligence, “Don’t make me annoyed now. Remember what I did when you made me annoyed?”
“Ah, no, no, no.” Nie Huaisang was quick to deny his part in making Liu Nian Zhen annoyed. He didn’t want to go out and pick a hundred basket’s worth of herbs. That literally made him, a harden spy, cry. Despite all his seriousness, his childishness always flares up when he’s with this cheap Shifu of his.
“Are they still alive? That god that was supposedly my ancestor?” Nie Huaisang asked, looking at Liu Nian Zhen expectantly.
“Of course!” Liu Nian Zhen exclaimed. “He occasionally came to your fortress to make sure it wasn’t burnt to the ground. You have no idea how many times he came to me and complaint about how many assholes came to destroy it!” with a look full of grievance, Liu Nian Zhen complaint to Nie Huaisang now.
Nie Huaisang didn’t know what he should be feeling right now. The plan was to find his cheap Shifu, butter him up and become his disciple again, and acquire the steel fan frame from his Shifu. But now, the situation had become like this, Nie Huaisang didn’t know what he should be feeling or what to do in this situation.
Also, the irony of it all! His ancestor complaint to Liu Nian Zhen about his home and how much he had done to protect it and Liu Nian Zhen complaint to him about his ancestor complaining to him about his home and how much he had done to protect it. If he told anybody about this, he’d probably deemed a madman.
“Shifu, how come I am able to wake up in this body, at this time?” Nie Huaisang asked his Shifu. The secret of his awakening perhaps known to this cheap Shifu.
“I know why, but, I also can’t tell you. If I told you, your life will change and the choices you made will also change.” Liu Nian Zhen answered.
“How come telling me you’re a god didn’t change anything? Who knows what kind of decision I’ll make when I know I had the backing of a god?” Nie Huaisang cry out in frustration.
“Now,” Liu Nian Zhen said in a tone of chiding, “I chose you as a disciple for a reason. You may be as pampered as a young lady and you may be as dramatic as a piece of shit. But deep in your heart, you are utterly loyal to those you love and cherish. Do you think I saved you because it’s my hobby? It’s the testament of your loyalty and how far you’ll go with trying to save those you loved that made me save you. I have been watching, Huaisang.” Liu Nian Zhen suddenly declared. Nie Huaisang can’t help but felt touched at that (and a little creeped out).
Nie Huaisang didn’t even realise that of himself. Is he? Loyal? That’s a question for another day.
“That Nie steel and stubborness didn’t just come from nowhere, you know? It’s hereditary.” Liu Nian Zhen teased.
Nie Huaisang chuckled at that.
“Then, how come my golden core is strong? You can tell me that much right? You said you knew why.” Nie Huaisang questions.
Liu Nian Zhen had a contemplating look on his face. Weighing the pros and cons on his head.
“I mean, it can’t hurt you. This is about your ancestry, after all.” Liu Nian Zhen said. Nie Huaisang nodded as he looked at Liu Nian Zhen with a large degree of anticipation and trust. No matter how many nonsense his cheap Shifu spouts, liar he is not.
“Well, I did some digging on your background in the Heavenly Realm.” Liu Nian Zhen begins, “I found that your family tree, on your mother’s side, is also linked to another god.” Liu Nian Zhen briefly stop when Nie Huaisang guffawed in shock and looked like he wants to interrupt. “Can you let me finish?” Liu Nian Zhen asked, annoyed at being interrupted.
Nie Huaisang smile sheepishly and made gesture for Liu Nian Zhen to go on.
“Your mother, Nie Zhang Yin, formerly Jun Zhang Yin, is the descendant of the Water God. Name will be omitted for the safety of your brain. The Water God has immense power and the golden core was one of a kind. Your father’s ancestor, my friend, is the god of Fire and the South. As all gods are, they had immense power since they cultivate for a long time. Somehow, you have both of their genetics in you. Somehow, their power, that ran for centuries in countless other humans, was concentrated in you.” Liu Nian Zhen had amazement in his voice and his face when he looked at Nie Huaisang. Knowing that this disciple of his is going to create waves in the cultivation world. A strong undercurrent that could create tsunamis. Silent but deadly.
“I still haven’t figured out how it could be like that and why you were chosen but Huaisang, you are one of a kind.” Liu Nian Zhen said, pride in his voice, like Nie Huaisang was one of his own. In a way, Nie Huaisang is.
In this fourteen years old body, there’s little he could control when tears suddenly drip down his face at the obvious pride and awe in his Shifu’s words. As someone that could control blade and wield sabers, Nie Huaisang crumbles when he was praised.
Nie Huaisang knocked himself on the head with the fan he unconsciously brought out from his sleeves.
“Oi! Don’t go crying on me! I have no experience in wiping away someone’s tears!” Liu Nian Zhen panicked when he saw Nie Huaisang cried, hands trembling and not knowing what to do.
“Is that why you’re still single and waiting for your one disciple?” Nie Huaisang teased waterily. He can’t seem to make his tears stop. Like all his tears when he faced his da-ge in this life was pouring out now.
“Oi!” Liu Nian Zhen chided Nie Huaisang.
Both Shifu and disciple catch up with each other and talk about how they came to be separated from the last life.
“Wait, does that mean a god taught Dongying how to use war fan and created Tessen?!” Nie Huaisang exclaimed.
“Shifu, about that fan frame, will I be getting it back?” Nie Huaisang asked. Both him and Liu Nian Zhen was outside, watching the star and listening to his Shifu rambled about which star have which god. Nie Huaisang had already stated his intention in seeking Liu Nian Zhen.
Completely interrupted from his story, Liu Nian Zhen looked at Nie Huaisang with an unreadable look, which made Nie Huaisang kind of nervous.
“I gave you that as my first gift to you when you first became my disciple. Your ancestor was an asshole but he got good eyes.” Liu Nian Zhen paused, he looked at the stars when he spoke. “You will be getting it back. Might act as a protective charm and save you from continuous assassins’ attacks, eh?” he teased. Both of them chuckled.
The fan frame that Nie Huaisang was talking about was originally made from a metal named Weizao. It exists in the Demon Realm, on a place called the Burning Field. It took Liu Nian Zhen five thousand years to forge it with other metal from all over the Heavenly Realm and an extra seven thousand years to made the frame. So, it was special to Liu Nian Zhen and also to Nie Huaisang. The black steel helps Nie Huaisang in focusing his spiritual energy to one spot instead of it being spread out when using normal fans. He can also better control the explosiveness of his power. Having it in his possession again will be a huge advantage to him.
Nie Huaisang is endlessly grateful for Liu Nian Zhen. Liu Nian Zhen was like a father that Nie Huaisang never had. His father was alright when he was alive for the first part of his life but after his saber was ruined, he was not the same. Liu Nian Zhen brings back the childishness in him that he didn’t think he had anymore since da-ge died. With Liu Nian Zhen, he felt that there’s room to grow and Liu Nian Zhen is also happy to assists him in creating chaos. It was a bond that he didn’t feel with anyone else, even with his father.
Both of them continues to chat and Nie Huaisang stays in Xiangtang to continue learning from Liu Nian Zhen.
Two weeks after living in Xiangtang, two letters were delivered by regular birds to Nie Huaisang. In the early morning, Nie Huaisang is practicing his war fan technique while his Shifu is sitting on a wooden recliner outside of the house with a basket of fruit placed on his lap, watching Nie Huaisang practise and occasionally corrected his form while eating leisurely.
Nie Huaisang took the letters and he could see the chicken scratch that belongs to Xue Yang and another one with a delicate penmanship belonging to Su She.
“You already made your move?” Nie Huaisang heard his Shifu asked from where he was standing, letters in hand as he read rapidly.
“I have to make my move now or even more chaos will happen. Wen Ruohan is really insatiable!” Nie Huaisang let the words out through his gritted teeth.
“Well, lucky you got the backing of a god, ah?” Liu Nian Zhen teases Nie Huiasang, popping another piece of fruit in his mouth. Nie Huaisang chuckles at that.
‘Yeah! I got the backing of a god. Probably multiple gods. I definitely will not lose.’
With that, practise was concluded and Nie Huaisang bid farewell to his Shifu.
I did some digging on the gods and Qinghe and the locations and I was shocked at how many coincidences there was. All of the places are real and some have been moulded for my own motives but there are some that I completely let it be in its original state. Also, sorry. Idk what I was thinking when I wrote this. The outline that I had didn’t have this. I didn’t plan this hahahahha. But, I guess I just want to explain where the fan technique came from, why the fan that came from Liu Nian Zhen is important and why Liu Nian Zhen himself was important to Nie Huaisang and how his core is strong. This will not affect much storyline in the future (I hope), my plans are still the same, I’ll make sure to plan it much more strictly and not let my mind wander.
I had Ten Miles of Peach Blossom in my head when I wrote this.
Tell me what you think!
P.s: This is me from the future after re-reading this to “proof-read” it and I still find this weird but I don’t hate it. As a reader, surprise is what I think keep me hooked to the written words. But, bear with me please. My ideas, my destination, is still the same but to get there seems to have used a less-travelled roads. Also, Dongying is ancient Japan.
Chapter 14: News, Troubles, and Spending Time with Da-ge
Nie Huaisang received unpleasant news but there's only so much he can do, so, he spends his time with Nie Mingjue.
Hiiiii sorry for being late in updating. I am drowning in last minute assignment submission before the end of the semester and my supervisor also asks for the draft of my thesis so, yeah.... I felt like I wanna die. but don't worry, I'm gonna finish this fic first. I just finished editing chapters 15 and 16 and was melting my brain with chapter 17 because I can't use the plot that I have written anymore but I know where this is going so, I don't worry much.
Anyway, enjoy and hope you like it!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The news that came from Xue Yang and Su She aggravates Nie Huaisang.
Xue Yang was informing him that Wen Ruohan had already found two pieces of Yin Iron and was successful in his quest to control the power of resentment. His attempt to divert the attention of Wen Ruohan was failing as the man was completely consumed by the madness that came from the resentment exuding from the Yin Iron. He told Nie Huaisang to hurry with his plan lest he died before he can enjoy all the candies in the world since he was tortured when he gave the wrong information to Wen Ruohan.
Su She’s message was that the two sons of Wen Ruohan, Wen Xu and Wen Chao, was both sent away with a large group of Wen disciples to the back hill of the Cloud Recesses and Huanggang, which was a few towns away from Lotus Pier, respectively, to monitor and make sure the Wen disciples are ready when it was time to attack both sects. Wen Zhuliu was sent to protect Wen Chao. Su She also mentioned that he knows all personnels in the castle, which was good. Su She also informs Nie Huaisang that a secret pathway was discovered from behind the throne room leading out to Guodian Town. The secret door was located in the back room of a teahouse by the name of Yùwàng Yu Jiu (which was quite popular among the locals because it is a high-class brothel) and had an engraving of the Wen’s sun.
Both of these events are moving way too fast. It should take another four to five months before Wen Ruohan was supposed to find the second piece of the Yin Iron. Nie Huaisang has to hasten his move.
Flying on his sabre, he finally saw the gate of the fortress and from a few zhang away from the ground, he jumps down and catch Aituan as it fell after losing spiritual power channelled by Nie Huaisang and put his sabre in his qiankun pouch in a swift motion. His pace was quick as he walked towards the gate.
The Nie disciples that were on duty were shocked at the display of power by their Second Master. It was spread within the fortress that their Second Master was not very proficient in martial arts and had yet to form a golden core. However, to be able to wield his sabre and jump down from that kind of height, unscathes, proves the rumours erroneous. They quickly salute the Second Master and let him through.
“Is da-ge in?” Nie Huaisang backtracked from when he was power-walking and asked the disciples.
A disciple with a beauty mark on his chin answered, “Yes, Er-Gongzi. Zongzhu was called to the Imperial Blade Hall for an urgent meeting with the elders.”
Nie Huaisang hummed in surprise and quickly said ‘thanks’ before sprinting towards the hall.
‘To have a meeting now, what kind of problem is there?’ Nie Huaisang thought and hastened.
The Imperial Blade Hall was a dim-lit and majestic hall with a dais for the throne. The wall behind the throne was carved with a heavily majestic figure of a beast’s head and bronze in colour. It seems to portray the viciousness and aggression of the person occupying the throne. The Imperial Blade Hall was usually used for discussions, either with other Sect Leaders or elders of the sect and for receiving guests when there’s a Discussion Conference.
There were two lines of tables and sitting cushions facing each other on either side of the hall for guests. Tall candle holders are also lined up to light up the hall but because the walls are grey in colour, it remains dim.
Voices could be heard from where Nie Huaisang is currently standing. It was muffled and made Nie Huaisang vibrate with anxiety. Concealing himself with a talisman, he had just slipped into the back of the Imperial Blade Hall when he heard one of the elders shout in indignation.
“That Wen Ruohan is such a fucking bastard! How dare he target our Nie sect? We have fought with his sect and others to suppress the Xue sect and even let the Wen sect become the leading figure of the cultivation world and given him the title Xiandu yet he is so anxious to swallow us whole!”
Nie Huaisang recognises that voice. It was Nie Hunluan. He was an elder that had supported Nie Huaisang when he became Sect Leader. Nie Hunluan was also an elder that don’t give a fuck towards other elders, either they came from other sects or from the Nie sect, and will do what he felt is right for the sect. Other elders of the Nie sect are inferior when it came to skills in wielding the sabre and although they respected him, they also sneered at him in secret.
“That’s right! He has done atrocious things in the past but that can be overlooked. Why is he attacking our border now?!” Another elder joined in and after that, it was a flurry mix of voices that made Nie Huaisang’s head throb.
He can imagine da-ge sitting at the throne with his hands clenched tightly at the knob on the armrest of the throne and his brows in an angry furrow and lips in a straight line as he tried to suppress his anger.
Nie Huaisang’s heart aches at his brother’s pain. He had been in this situation before and it deeply angers and terrifies him that his brother had been subjected to an even harsher environment than his. At least, he had been of age when he had to take the mantle as Sect Leader. His da-ge had only been sixteen when he had to lead the sect. Scowling, Nie Huaisang continues to listen to the conversation.
“Elders. Please. Let us calm down.” Nie Mingjue interjected the noisy elders, the noise quickly dropped and a silence rang in the hall.
“With the fierce corpses attacking the border, it is safer if the elders were to take care of the fortress. Disciples will be dispatched to take care of the fierce corpses and this one will personally go to make sure the commoners are well taken care of.” Nie Mingjue announced decisively, cutting through the thick silence like a knife through mud.
There were murmurs after that among the elders.
“What do we do if there’s more fierce corpse’s attacks? What if Wen Ruohan attacked other borders of the Nie sect? Shouldn’t we do something to stop him?” An elder asks.
“If there’s more attacks, this one will dispatch more disciples. If he attacks other borders of the Nie sect, this one will go there and kill as many fierce corpses as this one can and make sure the commoners are safe. If we can do something to stop him, this one thinks we would’ve already done it.” Nie Mingjue answered swiftly, leaving no room to interject for the elders.
Nie Huaisang also thought so.
In the current situation, Wen Ruohan is only sending fierce corpses and not outright sending his disciples to kill people from other sects. Yes, he sent his sons to prepare and take careful measures to attack the Lan sect and the Jiang sect but they hadn’t made any clear move to kill anyone. Currently, he’s only scaring the sects into attacking the Wen sect so he could ‘retaliate’. Everything is only assumptions without real evidence that the Wen sect is thinking of getting rid of other sects. Other than Nie Huaisang (who knows intimately) and Nie Mingjue (who only knows a little from both experience and what his little brother told him), the Wen sect’s ambitions are still only talks amongst the cultivators from all sects. The situation didn’t call for an open fire.
As if reading his mind, Nie Mingjue reminds the elders, “This one knows that elders had always been anticipating wars to break as that is what the Nies had always been practising for but as much as elders was reminded of the war in the olden days and craving it, the world cannot take a war right now. Each sect had their own weaknesses and amongst those sects, only Qinghe Nie was the most powerful. If we were to go to war right now, Qinghe Nie will bear the heaviest brunt of it. This one is sure many of the elders know how war left you feeling.”
The elders quietened down as what Nie Mingjue just said was reasonable.
“Then, we’ll do as you said. As a Sect Leader, it is better to have a cool head rather than a bull head.” Nie Hunluan said. The other elders who wanted to oppose quickly agreed as Nie Hunluan had already spoken.
“Many thanks, elders, for understanding. This meeting is adjourned.” Nie Mingjue dismissed the elders.
Whispers could be heard as the elders left the room in twos or threes. Only Nie Hunluan was alone. After a while, it was completely silent in the room and Nie Huaisang could hear his da-ge sigh in exhaustion. Nie Huaisang’s heart clench a little at that.
He contemplates the situation and walks out from where he was hiding. When he rounded the wall, he saw his brother leaning against the armrest, head bent, fingers massaging his eyes in fatigue and he’s sure a headache was already forming. Nie Mingjue’s habit of needing silence is always apparent whenever he’s tired and frustrated. The talisman concealed his movements and he sat down at the first table to the right of the dais. De-activating the talisman, he started talking.
“You did the right thing. It is currently still quite safe so we do not need to attack the Wen sect.” Nie Huaisang said as he pulled out his fan from his left sleeve.
As fast as lightning, Nie Mingjue’s head whips towards the sound and he is startled to see his little brother and that frivolous fan of his on the seat. He didn’t even hear Nie Huaisang when he got in the room!
“Huaisang!” Nie Mingjue exclaimed in joy. It has only been half a year since he saw this little brother of his but he has gotten much thinner and his features are more matured and a little delicate (‘Probably from his mother’s side.’, Nie Mingjue thought). His hair is longer and that fan of his never seemed to leave his side.
Nie Mingjue stands from the throne and walks towards Nie Huaisang. He scooped the poor boy into his big, bulky arms and spun him in a hug. Nie Huaisang shrieked in shock as he was pulled from his sitting position and into the warmth that can only be his da-ge.
“Put me down, da-ge!” Nie Huaisang exclaimed, quite short of breath from how tight Nie Mingjue was hugging him.
The Nies don’t say ‘I miss you’ because their hugs means that and more. It means ‘I miss you’, ‘I cherish you’, ‘I am proud of you’, and ‘I’m glad you’re safe’ amongst many reasons. Actions do speak louder than words.
The Nie brothers, especially, had always been a little tactile with each other. Even more so before Nie Mingjue was appointed as the Sect Leader.
“Da-ge! Hard… to.. br-breathe now-w.” Nie Huaisang gasps out a complaint. Nie Mingjue quickly releases him and puts him down, letting his feet touch the ground again. Checking for injuries on his face and body, Nie Mingjue shoots rapid questions that make Nie Huaisang’s head spin.
“When did you get back? How did you get back? Where were you? Did you get injured? Do I have to beat up anyone? Have you come across any difficulty?”
“Da-ge, slow down. I’m not going anywhere until the next Summer Conference in Gusu.” Nie Huaisang said, letting his brother inspect his body.
Nie Mingjue is quite comparable to a mama bear with how fervent he is in checking Nie Huaisang’s body for injuries. When he deemed Nie Huaisang safe and uninjured to his standard, he put his hands on Nie Huaisang’s shoulders and put him at an arm’s length to continue observing the differences in his little brother.
“You seemed better than the last time I saw you. And also a little worse for wear. What have you been up to?” Nie Mingjue casually commented. It made Nie Huaisang a little shocked. He didn’t think the exhaustion would come through and show on his face.
“I have been busy arranging some things. Do I look that exhausted?” Nie Huaisang asked, freeing himself from his brother’s hands, he took out his qiankun pouch and pulled out a mirror. He observes himself and yes, he did look that exhausted. His hair is in a little bit of disarray from when he was flying to get here, there's faint eyebags showing, his complexion is a little too pale to his liking. Well, he did look exhausted but he had been worse.
“I’m glad it wasn’t much, much worse.” Nie Huaisang commented after he observed himself. He put the mirror back into the qiankun pouch and he put the qiankun pouch back into his sleeve.
“How much worse have you been?” Nie Mingjue asks, a little pain in his voice when he thinks of what his little brother had to go through. Experiencing nightmares and seeing him dying through mysterious ways and seeing what would’ve become of the world. The image of his little brother looking terrified and anguished still made him feel really pained and helpless.
“You know, a little row here and there.” Nie Huaisang dodged the questions, not willing to tell his brother his hardships. Truthfully, this life had been a little easier for him. Everything had been in his grasp from the very beginning. Those that he had little understanding of, could be known with a little digging. Lan Qiren had also been very helpful and being away from home also helped him accomplish a lot of things. This life had seen no assassins’ attacks, no betrayals (yet), no war, not much complications, and easier to ace.
“With who?” Nie Mingjue pressed as he held Nie Huaisang’s forearm, already seeing his little brother’s look of sneakiness. There’s always something that his little brother hides when he gets that look plastered onto his face. That look of unwillingness also saddened him.
“I will tell you someday. But not now. I have more pressing matters to discuss other than my hardships.” Nie Huaisang compromised and relent. His da-ge is concerned and it made him melt a little. ‘Aiya. I can’t always be this easy to coax when being pressured a little by da-ge.’ he thought.
Logically, Nie Huaisang is a hardened Sect Leader. He gave no way out and no way to advance for his enemy, he suppressed his enemy with the feeling of helplessness and was sneaky enough to trick his enemy into committing their own crime. He is a hardened Sect Leader that had faced numerous criticisms and insults, had faced the torment of his own mind and the words of the commoners.
He should be able to face these questions with ease, answer it in a roundabout way or outright refuse to answer and change the topic, but in front of this brother of his, all those feelings of composure disappear as he is not used to lying to his brother. Other than begging and manipulating his brother to be exempted from sabre practice in the other life, he rarely lied to his brother. Lying feels forbidden when it comes to his close family.
Relenting and enduring seems like the best thing to do right now.
“Promise?” Nie Mingjue asked, putting out his pinkie for a lā gōu (pinky swear). Nie Huaisang chuckles a little at his da-ge’s childishness. Being older in mind than his brother made him appreciate his brother’s childish thoughts (perhaps da-ge thought he would like that) but he linked his pinky with his brother’s with a small smile anyway. “Promise.”
“Okay, now tell me. You seemed serious and that is more than enough to get me to listen.” Nie Mingjue finally relent after that promise and lead Nie Huaisang to his office. Nie Huaisang yelped when he’s pulled by the arm by his brother.
When the two finally arrived at Nie Mingjue’s office, Nie Huaisang pulled out a Silencing Talisman and activated it. The bubble encased both of them and almost the whole office.
“Where did you learn that from?” Nie Mingjue asks, curious and a little accusing. Nie Huaisang forgot that his brother dislikes wicked tricks and talismans are likely in that ‘wicked trick’ category. He had been using talismans for so long that he had grown accustomed to it. Not having any on his person felt like a loss of an important appendage.
“My dream.” Nie Huaisang answered simply, not wanting to delve too much into how he came to know about talismans.
“What is it used for?” Nie Mingjue asks, he gets up from where he’s sitting and pokes the clear and shimmering bubble near the entrance of the office. His finger went through and he let out an ‘ah’ in surprise and turned back to look at his little brother, who’s sitting with a long-suffering look, looking towards the heavens.
‘Pray for brains, da-ge. Pray for brains.’, Nie Huaisang thought. Everyone thought that Nie Mingjue is an astute man and only knows how to command people to do his bidding. However, everyone forgot that Nie Mingjue is also a teenager. He’s still a curious lad and loves to learn new things. Nie Huaisang forgot how nosy his brother can be when he wants. He will pester anyone when that person got new things he didn’t have any knowledge of.
“It’s a Silencing talisman. It prevents others from outside of this bubble from hearing our conversation.” Nie Huaisang answers calmly, he fixes his outer robe inattentively. “Now, can you sit down so we can start discussing?” Nie Huaisang questions in a calm tone as he looks at Nie Mingjue with clear and serious eyes.
Nie Mingjue nodded and walked back to sit down. His little brother’s bearing made him unable to really say against the question. Nie Mingjue is obviously a Sect Leader and the older brother here but he found that he didn’t have the ability to fight against his little brother’s words ever since that terrifying nightmare a little over half a year ago. When he was finally seated, he gestured for his little brother to start.
“A few weeks ago, I managed to hire a spy and placed him in the Wen sect. He is regarded as highly benefiting to the sect as he had the information that Wen Ruohan needs,” Nie Huaisang starts, words sending Nie Mingjue’s mind reeling. But Nie Huaisang bull-dozed through his da-ge’s confusion as if he hadn’t seen it. “News were sent and obtained. It is now a crucial time for the Nie sect to make its moves because Wen Ruohan already had two pieces of the Yin Iron. If we don’t move now, war is imminent.”
“I have also acquired another spy to find the secrets surrounding the castle and I am already in possession of a good piece of news. A secret tunnel leading directly to the throne room of the Wen castle from Guodian Town.”
Nie Mingjue’s mind is still reeling from when he first heard that his little brother had managed to find a spy, not mentioning that they were ‘highly benefiting’ to Wen Ruohan. Now, his little brother also had an important piece of news at hand.
“Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait!” Nie Mingjue interjected, feeling a semblance of an undignified chicken. “When are you able to hire spies? You’re fourteen!” Nie Mingjue exclaimed, enraged at not being able to provide Nie Huaisang with a childhood. A child as young as his little brother should be able to experience the good of the world and play, be a little naughty and pick fights. Not conspiring against the big sect.
“You’re sixteen when you have to lead the sect, da-ge. Don’t argue about age when it comes to the safety of our sect.” Nie Huaisang retorted with a long-suffering voice and that shut Nie Mingjue up because he didn’t know how to counter that.
“Okay. Okay. Not arguing. Are you sure the information is reliable?” Nie Mingjue relent and ask the most important question.
Is the information reliable?
Obviously yes! Su She is an annoyance but he is meticulous in his work. Before sending out any information, he would always double check it. His ability to enter the sect this quickly is also entirely his own ability so, it is testament enough that he is able to deceive the Wen sect but nothing will get past Nie Huaisang’s discerning eyes and endless knowledge of the future. If something is not right, he would’ve already nipped Su She in the bud (a.k.a kill him).
“I have already checked the entrance and everything before I came back. It’s reliable.” Nie Huaisang answered vaguely, not mentioning how he had entered the building using the Concealing talisman, he just told the result of his expedition.
Nie Mingjue’s head got a sudden ‘boom’ in his head. How dangerous could that journey be? Nie Mingjue’s inner conflict and mama bear could be seen clearly by Nie Huaisang. This brother of his, he already forgot that he had already formed his golden core.
“Da-ge, I got my golden core already.” Nie Huaisang reminded his da-ge. As if to prove that, he put out his hand and channelled his spiritual energy. The blue light emitting from his fingertips gave a clear indication to how strong his golden core is.
With a sound of surprise, Nie Mingjue rises and walks towards his little brother and grabs that hand. Instantly feeling the cool flow of spiritual energy transferred from his little brother, he can’t help but praise, “How good! How strong!”
Golden core’s strength could be judged based on how cooling and soothing it is. The more it is cool and the more it is soothing, the stronger the golden core is. Nie Huaisang’s was by far the coolest and most soothing Nie Mingjue had ever felt. Other than Lan Xichen and Lan Qiren, Nie Mingjue had never felt this sensation and he had met a lot of cultivators (being a Sect Leader had its benefits, it seemed).
“I know. My Shifu also said that I am one of a kind.” Nie Huaisang said with pride in his voice, letting his spiritual energy flow into his da-ge. He hoped it would help soothe his oncoming headaches.
“Shifu?” Nie Mingjue asks, pulling his hand from Nie Huaisang, already feeling a lot better from when he came out of the Imperial Blade Hall.
“Uh, yes.” Nie Huaisang answers shortly, not adding any more words to that sentence. Not knowing if he should tell his brother about his Shifu or not because telling him that event will leave a huge hole in his story (the assassinations and all that) and his brother is perceptive enough that he’ll be able to pick it up.
Hmm, decisions, decisions.
Seeing the unwillingness on his little brother’s face, Nie Mingjue’s heartache increases. Has he been an unreliable person when it comes to his little brother? Had he been too forceful in making his little brother learn the way of the family? Had he forgotten to tell his little brother of how important he is to Nie Mingjue?
He must have been. Otherwise, his little brother would’ve told him everything like when they were kids. Wait. They weren’t kids anymore. Both of them aren’t. Busy with protecting the sect, none of them are able to be childish and reckless. None of them are kids anymore. They’ve grown up. With responsibilities to shoulder and a sect to protect.
“You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to. I know that everything is different now.” Nie Mingjue said with a kind tone, a little of dejectedness could also be heard.
Unknowingly, Nie Huaisang is actually contemplating which part of the story could he tell his brother. He didn’t want to scare and scar his brother with all the assassinations he had to go through and how he kill them in cold blood even though he probably experienced the same thing.
With a determined tone, Nie Huaisang tells his brother about that cheap Shifu of his with some of the facts that entails covered up.
By the end of it, Nie Mingjue was gaping when Nie Huaisang showed him the black steel fan frame.
“This is it? From a, a what? Demon Realm?” Nie Mingjue, in a disbelieving tone, asks his little brother.
Nie Huaisang only nodded his head patiently. With their role reversed, what’s with Nie Mingjue uncharacteristically being all like a curious child and Nie Huaisang like a magnanimous elder, it was a sight that could freeze even the elders of the sect were they to see it. What’s with the existence of the carefully built image that had surrounded both of the brothers.
“Its name is KeXiang.” Nie Huaisang said softly.
With careful hands, Nie Mingjue inspected the finely carved fan frame. The craftsmanship is nothing like he had ever seen in his entire life. It was fine enough that it should be impossible and light enough that it won’t tire the wrists of the holder. Truly the work of a god! Literally!
“How good! How awesome! This is so pretty and less harmful that I almost want to learn how to wield it!” Nie Mingjue exclaimed after inspecting it, startling Nie Huaisang who was reaching out to refill the tea for the both of them.
“I can teach you the basics. That way, you can still protect yourself when you lose your sabre to the enemy.” Nie Huaisang offered, planning on giving his brother a sturdy fan for back up plan.
Contemplating, Nie Mingjue decides that learning more ways to protect oneself is not a waste of time and energy and it could also serve as a ‘relationship-helper’ for both him and his little brother. He could also see how much his little brother had improved over the months he was away from home. With that, he readily agrees to learn it.
Standing at the courtyard, Nie Mingjue observes Nie Huaisang as he shows him how to channel spiritual energy into a fan.
Nie Mingjue was woken up disturbingly at an ungodly hour in the morning to his little brother standing at the end of his bed with KeXiang in hand, looking far more awake than he should be and creepily staring at him with an indiscernible and complicated look on his face, scaring Nie Mingjue till he felt his scalps tingles. His little brother then said that yin hour is the perfect time to practise and see the beauty of the spiritual energy.
Nie Mingjue groans and puts his head back to the pillow, only to be dragged off by his little brother to the ground with a surprising amount of strength he didn’t know his little brother possessed. He sputters and flails a little on the ground then proceeds to disgruntledly dressed in plain black practice attire and tie up his thick hair in a high ponytail. He hadn’t felt this in disorder ever since he became a Sect Leader.
A sichen later, he is sweating and swearing as he stretches his sore body. His little brother’s method of practice left him feeling an achiness on his joints from the very precise and very grounding movements that he hadn’t felt since he was a child. Even for a veteran like him who practises martial arts and has a high stamina, his little brother’s method still left him breathless. It was both refreshing and new.
Nie Huaisang is now showing his brother how to attack his enemy were there a victim in between them.
There’s a practice board being placed a few zhang away from them in the shape of a human, acting as the ‘villain’ and the ‘victim’. With a calm stance, imitating a scenario of being a helpless bystander, KeXiang in hand on his side, Nie Huaisang quickly turns sideways, closes his fan and puts it at an eye-level, aiming it at the ‘villain’. With KeXiang acting as an arrow, he channelled his spiritual energy through the fan and shot at the board, precisely cutting off the ‘villain’ with a thin wisp of strong blue spiritual energy on its head, successfully saving the ‘victim’ and killing the ‘enemy’.
There’s a few weaknesses to this move though, in the eyes of Nie Mingjue. One, the board had been static, so it was easier if it was shot down because it wasn’t moving. So, what if the target is moving? Two, the ‘villain’ board had been slightly bigger than the ‘victim’ board, so what if the figure was in reverse? Three, aiming the fan at his enemy in a provocative stance might alert his enemy, so how was it possible to save the victim if the enemy is jittery and clumsy and thus putting the victim in harm’s way?
Nie Mingjue relayed his thoughts and questions to Nie Huaisang and his answer was simple.
“The aim of the fan is, yes, as a guide for the spiritual energy. It helped in shaping the spiritual energy. You can adjust the thickness of the spiritual energy. However, no matter how useful or guiding the fan is, the spiritual energy still belongs to us. Where it goes, what’s its shapes, how it moves, its strength, is still controlled by us. So, no matter how big or small the target is, or whether the target is static or moving, and no matter how spooked and clumsy the target is, we can still hit it exactly as we aim it.” Nie Huaisang explained. He, too, had the same questions when Liu Nian Zhen had been teaching him and his Shifu had also explained the same thing to him.
An epiphany crossed Nie Mingjue’s face and he quickly tried to imitate it.
It took a while for Nie Mingjue to master it but the satisfaction on his face made Nie Huaisang smile. These moves are all basics. It shouldn’t take that long for Nie Mingjue to master it. Nie Huaisang is both moved and proud of his brother.
When daybreak arrives, the both of them return to their respective rooms to bathe and refresh themselves, eat breakfast, and dress up for the day.
The routine repeated itself with more and more complicated moves being introduced to the ever curious Nie Mingjue. His strength and agility was shown to his brother and it made the gap between them ever since Nie Mingjue became Sect Leader closer. Nie Huaisang told him some things from the other life and both of them discussed how to better protect the fortress and Nie Huaisang also told his brother about the fail-proof escape plan.
Overall, the months were spent together, bettering the quality of life of the disciples and introducing talismans that could protect the exposed top of the fortress to Nie Mingjue. All plans had been a secret between them because it was better if fewer people knew of these things.
He also told Nie Mingjue about Xue Yang’s earring and Su She’s apricot blossom situation and told him that he had arranged everything, so, in case his life was forfeited, Nie Mingjue had to be the one to pass the things to those two. Nie Mingjue had cried, very uncharacteristically, and hugged Nie Huaisang to an inch of his life before calming down a couple of sichen later.
Once it came time for the next Summer Conference in Gusu, Nie Mingjue, although confident and proud of his little brother’s strength, had been a little teary-eyed (not that he’ll admit it, he’ll deny any claim ever made by Nie Zonghui and his disciples) when he had to send him away with a new batch of disciples to learn and proceed with their plans in protecting the Nie sect. Nie Huaisang’s plan to take down the Wen sect will also officially begin.
Sooooooo what do you think? This chapter is actually really out of the blue but because I was craving the interactions between them, I managed to squeeze in a chapter because it doesn’t sit right with me that Nie Huaisang will only stay/travel outside of the Unclean Realm when the Summer Conference was over because it will take about 3 seasons before the next Summer Conference, which means he’ll be away for like, 6 to 9 months, but since he had managed to get a lot done in a little over half a year, I decided to give him a little break. My brain demanded it so I wrote a few nonsensical things. I also named the fan KeXiang which means Longing or Thirsty, whichever way you want to see it. We all know who he’s longing and thirsting over hahahaha
I also did quite a lot of research for this and my brain was like, 'damn, that's a lot of town and village.'
P.S: I actually accidentally added this chapter because I really went out of track with the plot (again) hahahahahaha but luckily, everything fits, so, yeah.
P.S.S: Psst. Guess what Nie Hunluan's name actually means. I will tell you guys what it means on the next post.
Chapter 15: Lan Wangji and the Two Pride of Yunmeng
Lan Wangji listens to Nie Huaisang. Nie Huaisang is deeply conflicted but the plan has to proceeds. The Two Pride of Yunmeng is finally here!! Also, a very anticlimactic conversation ensues and the Rejection of Lan Xichen: The Saga; continues.
Hiiiii. Yoooo sorry for the late update. So, for those that are wondering what Nie Hunluan is. Here it is.
The meaning of the name is a river of virtuous person.
Hun is from hun he 浑河 - hun river. Which by the way, a beautiful place.
Luan from luan feng 鸾凤 - virtuous person. Can also mean husband and wife which means that Nie Hunluan is a single king (cause he's both the husband and wife. Get it?) (Luan Feng is also a kind of bird. Luan is the male and feng is the female. Luan is usually and typically a large blue male bird and feng is phoenixes. In ancient times, there are poems that includes LuanFeng in it but I cannot remember where I read it, so, if you want to know more, you can google it. It's pretty popular if I'm not mistaken.)
Another twist of the name is the spirit of virtuous person. Or an even more twisted meaning is thoughtless and crooked. All these words had different characters in Chinese so it also have different meanings with the same pronunciation. It could mean both good and bad. Just taking it at face value, I took the good quality and pick the good character because Nie Hunluan is a character that is created to be straightforward and don't give a damn kind of person. If you've noticed, this fic features a lot of people that don't give a fuck about anything hahahaha because I am also the same but on to the story!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Once again, standing in front of the gate of the Gusu Lan sect, Nie Huaisang, completely adorned with an intricate and elaborated grey Nie robes and KeXiang in hand, lets his disciple hand the invitation card over to one of the Lan sect disciple that act as the guard of the gate as he slowly fans himself, thinking about the arrival of old friends.
At this time, it should be another two days before the Jiang sec’s arrival, so he’ll have time to warn Lan Wangji about Wei Wuxian. Hopefully, the boy isn’t coming on way too strong with his pesternisation. However, knowing Wei Wuxian, he’ll do it as loudly as he can anyway.
When everything was checked out, one of the Lan disciples let them through and guided them to their respective dormitories. Nie Huaisang, once again occupied his single quarters, away from other guest disciples. He felt his rooming condition is suspicious, even from the last Summer Conference (and even from the other life) but he will not complain because it gives him time to recuperate and plan his steps carefully.
When the Lan disciple left him to his quarters, instead of getting inside and recuperating, he walked towards the inner courtyard, in search of the most important man of the day. Albeit being in ‘seclusion’, Lan Wangji is actually just reading. That much Nie Huaisang knows because Lan Xichen can get pretty ‘mouthy’ once he touches alcohol. The details will be omitted for your brain’s safety.
Turning the corner, Nie Huaisang saw Lan Wangji staring wistfully at the purple gentians. If he’s not mistaken, the place they’re currently standing in front of is the Two Jade’s mother’s house. Nie Huaisang’s trained eyes immediately saw the youth’s sorrow from how his brows held a little gloominess that mar his jade-like complexion.
“It’s best to let things go sometimes, Hanguang-jun.” Nie Huaisang interrupted Lan Wangji’s train of thoughts, unknowingly unleashing Lan Wangji’s future title.
Lan Wangji lift his head and look at the person that had cut his thoughts with a blank look, darkness disappears in a flash as soon as he heard the first word. This small person in front of him is the person that his Xiong-zhang fancy. ’Is he worthy?’ That’s the question he thought to himself but worthy or not, anyone that Xiong-zhang likes will naturally have good attributes.
They both greeted each other and fell into a comfortable silence. Lan Wangji, who is not a pro in making small talk, didn’t comment any further on the subject.
Nie Huaisang is thinking of how to prepare Lan Wangji for Wei Wuxian’s loudness.
Lan Wangji was waiting for the heir to say something because everytime he said something, it must’ve been important. He felt an inexplicable feeling whenever he even thought of Nie Huaisang. Towards this person, he felt a sense of unceasing trust, like a child would an elder, which startles him. They were both the second heirs and obviously have to be respectful to everyone. It is made even more apparent when the rules of his sect demand him to be humble. However, towards this person, his aura and rare charisma just made people want to listen to whatever he says.
Also, Nie Er-Gongzi seeks him out. So, it must be important.
Also, what was that thing he called Lan Wangji? Hanguang-jun? Why was such a noble name being entrusted to him? Since when? Why?
After a few minutes of silence, KeXiang in Nie Huaisang’s right hand was suddenly snapped close, startling Lan Wangji (who made no indication whatsoever that he’s shocked aside from the sudden flare of his eyes).
Both of them looked at each other in the eyes for a moment.
Nie Huaisang’s looking for Lan Wangji’s curiosity.
Lan Wangji waited for Nie Huaisang to say something instead of staring at him with complicated looks.
“I don’t actually know how to say this,” Nie Huaisang starts, hands fiddling with KeXiang absent-mindedly, uncertainty marring his features. Lan Wangji just looks at him with the uttermost focus because he knows, everything this person said must’ve been true. “That person will arrive in two days.” Nie Huaisang added, looking at Lan Wangji with barely perceptive eyes, clearly looking at what probably happened, in his head, of the other life’s events as told by the person himself.
Lan Wangji hummed in question at that, which startled Nie Huaisang into looking at the person in front of him. Without another thought, he told Lan Wangji about the things that will happen and will lead him to ‘that person’.
“Tomorrow, you will have to go to the nearby town. There will be an incident. Once you get back from there, at the gate of the sect, you’ll find a loquacious Jiang disciple. I cannot tell you more than that.” Nie Huaisang concluded.
Lan Wangji looks at Nie Huaisang with a deeply confused eyes and even Nie Huaisang himself can feel the curiosity rolling in waves from the youth but he really can’t tell more than that or some of the events in the future might change. Also, let them taste the sweetness of flirting and chasing one another in this life. Let them have no pain no matter how much it pained Nie Huaisang (who had seen and been through that).
“That person is loud. They’re smart. Intelligent. Charming. Skilful. Definitely worthy of being your equal.” Nie Huaisang said with a conviction that startled both himself and Lan Wangji because as much as Nie Huaisang loves and respects Wei Wuxian, the man himself had also hurt him in the other life. What’s with the ‘don’t befriend the traitorous and evil’ comment. But the man had helped him with solving the case and helped him get revenge, so, he’ll have to pay him back.
Lan Wangji hummed his questions, ‘What does that mean?’, ‘Who are they?’, ‘Can you really not tell me?’ , ‘When will that happen?’, and ‘How do you know all these things?’.
Nie Huaisang, who apparently also speaks Lan Wangji, understands the questions asked by the simple hum but he didn’t acknowledge it and left Lan Wangji hanging to dry. Before leaving the dumbfounded and stunned Lan Wangji behind, Nie Huaisang left one last message while he snapped KeXiang open.
“Your life will be much livelier once that person arrives. Be prepared for a loud Cloud Recesses.”
Escaping Lan Wangji’s enquiring eyes and unspoken questions, Nie Huaisang made his way to Lan Qiren’s office. The flowers that were planted beside the pathways exudes a soft flowery smell that both calms him and irritates him. He stands there for a second, lost in thought.
This year will be more challenging than the last. What’s with Wei Wuxian’s perceptive and intelligent mind being a challenge for Nie Huaisang. He could of course be friends with them again, Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng, but he is also not how he used to be. He didn’t laugh as freely anymore. He rarely paints and goes on adventurous journeys to find beautiful birds.
Should he befriend the Two Pride of Yunmeng? Can he be friends with them? Can he look past the things that happened to the two in the other life? Could he do anything to change them?
He did want to be friends with them. Those two had been the ones that overlooked his lazy and foolish past self. Had been there to support him and willing to hang out with him. Had been someones that he admired and proud of.
Being uncertain of his own feelings, Nie Huaisang can’t help feeling a little out of proportion. With unseeing eyes, he continues to stare at the flowers while thinking of the pros and cons of befriending the two, left hand rests by default at the back of his small waist, right hand holding KeXiang was still.
An unknown amount of time passed by when he heard footsteps from his left. He looked over and saw Lan Qiren walking his way with Lan Xichen at his side. Feeling annoyance flares up inside, he quickly conceals it from his face and portrays a blank look. He greets the two automatically and mechanically that it shocks the elders.
“Nie Er-Gongzi, what are you doing here?” Lan Qiren questions, eyes looking apprehensively at the youth, feeling a slow and steady pressure started to form in his head. Ever since he met this youth, there had been many things that had both proved him wrong and enlightened him. Towards this youth, aside from being grateful for all the help, he also felt a little bit of fear. This one was young and yet, he could accomplish a number of things that could both help and wreck the cultivation world. He felt like he didn’t want Nie Huaisang as his enemy.
Lan Xichen, who was beside his uncle, looked at the youth’s empty eyes and blank face. He felt a little disappointed that the youth didn’t look at him even once (even when he was greeting him) since he arrived but he endured it.
“How was your holiday, Huaisang?” Lan Xichen inquired, curious over what the youth did during his time not being in the Cloud Recesses. He also notes that the youth was holding a brand new fan. The frame was sleek black, it was carved beautifully and precisely, and was made out of something that he could guess as steel, with a beautiful painting being plastered onto it.
It was a scenery of a mountain in colour and there was a single red haitang tree on top of the mountain. The scenery looked a little familiar but without being able to discern where it was, he couldn’t even make a guess.
“Did he know?” Nie Huaisang questions Lan Qiren, neither answering nor acknowledging the question posed by both Lan Qiren and Lan Xichen. Eye-ing the stunned and hurt Lan Xichen with the corner of his eyes, he ignores the man. He assumed that Lan Xichen wasn’t informed, however the words coming out of the old master’s mouth stunned him for a moment.
Nie Huaisang nodded and hummed in acknowledgement. Inside, he can’t help being a little surprised but considering that the spineless skeleton is the future Sect Leader, he couldn’t just not know.
“Does Lan Wangji?” Nie Huaisang asks, judging by Lan Qiren’s face, the Second Jade should also know of the matter of the Cold Pond cave and the copying books’ matter. Both heirs should know of the happenings of the sect since the both of them are the pillars of the sect.
Lan Qiren only nodded at the question and Lan Xichen forgot his hurt and couldn't help but grew suspicious. What are these two actually discussing? He could guess but without being sure of the content, he can’t just interrupt the two’s conversation. He can’t help the way his stomach turns with an indescribable feeling.
“Then that’s good. Is the matter finished?” Nie Huaisang shot another question, making Lan Qiren feel like a subordinate being questioned by a powerful ruler. No wonder this Nie Er-Gongzi had survived in his previous life, Lan Qiren thought. ‘If he made others feel insecure, no one would want him as the Sect Leader and he wouldn’t be able to maintain his position, thus he exudes the air of a gentle and immovable ruler instead.’ (Little did Lan Qiren know. Little did Lan Qiren know.)
The overbearing aura of the youth suppressed Lan Qiren’s air as an elder and it made Lan Xichen a bit awed at his friend’s little brother.
“Yes.” Lan Qiren answered curtly. Neither spoke of what matters was finished but both understood perfectly and clearly on the matter they were both discussing. Leaving Lan Xichen feeling left out to be eaten by the wolves.
“Let’s move this to somewhere private, shall we?” Nie Huaisang suggested, silently demanding them move to somewhere he could use the Silencing talismans discreetly.
“Xichen, you go and make sure the guests are properly taken care of and make sure you go to Elder Jian to learn more about the agricultural site.” With a sentence that blocks Lan Xichen from seeing more of Nie Huaisang and listening more to their discussion, Lan Qiren quickly dismisses his nephew. Lan Xichen bid farewell to his uncle and Nie Huaisang, but without a word spoken to Lan Xichen, Nie Huaisang bid Lan Xichen goodbye and followed Lan Qiren to the old master’s office, ignoring the dejected Lan Xichen.
Lan Xichen thought that with the slightly warm farewell the last time they saw each other, that the youth would acknowledge him. Feeling dejected, he forces his heart to look on the bright side of things (Nie Huaisang is here!) and continues to make plans to be closer to the youth. With that resolved intention, he went to the direction of Elder Jian’s office to learn more about the agricultural site and made a mental note to keep track of the oncoming guest disciples.
In the old master’s office, Nie Huaisang had already activated the Silencing talisman and is now pouring tea for the old master.
“Is the back mountain secured?” Nie Huaisang asked while he put the teapot back to its spot.
Feeling like a student, Lan Qiren nodded and told Nie Huaisang of the arrangements made to make sure that the back mountain is secure and the disciples guarding it are invincible and invisible. Nie Huaisang nodded in satisfaction at the report and made a few suggestions regarding the Cold Pond cave.
“The Cold Pond cave is secure. The only ones that can enter it safely are Lan disciples.” Nie Huaisang made a deliberate comment, hinting that others can still enter but might not be as safe as a Lan disciple could.
Lan Qiren is suspicious. How much does this youth know about the matter of his own sect that he could even hint at the weakness of his home?
“I did say that I had spent time here. To know of these things, of course I had paid a price for it.” With a slightly pained voice, Nie Huaisang answered the silent question unspoken by Lan Qiren. With a small nod, Lan Qiren didn’t make another sound.
“Today, I have come not only to ask about the progress, but also regarding your second nephew.” Nie Huaisang stated his intention. The matter of the Second Jade must be informed to avoid the expulsion of Wei Wuxian.
With sharp eyes, Lan Qiren looked at Nie Huaisang, silently urging the youth to speak.
“Friends from the Jiang sect are coming. One of them is your future nephew-in-law.” Nie Huaisang states, left hand reaching out for the teacup and taking a small sip from it, he looked as Lan Qiren looked a little constipated from his shock.
’Huh. He not only looked constipated when angry, but also when shocked. Noted. I shouldn’t laugh but I can’t help it. No. I have to endure.’ Nie Huaisang thought to himself, suppressing the laughter that was building in his throat.
Shocking Lan Qiren is too good!
“Not even a niece-in-law!?” Lan Qiren suddenly exploded, incomprehensibly sounding like an unsatisfied father instead of an uncle.
Nie Huaisang could only helplessly shrug his shoulders at that. He can’t change the way Lan Wangji thinks and feels. If the boy liked another boy, Nie Huaisang would be a hypocrite if he said something against it.
“Your nephew loves too deeply. If he was prevented, it would do damage to his emotions and physicals. His cultivation will also suffer.” Nie Huaisang said, remembering the rumours that Lan Wangji was whipped by the Discipline Whip thirty-three times after the death of Wei Wuxian.
Seeing the discomfort in the youth’s body language and the faraway look in his eyes, Lan Qiren’s attentive eyes are quick to detect it.
“What happened?” Lan Qiren asked, anxious and unconsciously felt a little guilty, unfathomably.
“Whipped. Defied your elders. Thirty-three. Because of his love.” Nie Huaisang answered fragmentarily, leaving Lan Qiren stunned. The amount of time Lan Qiren was left stunned and shocked by this youth in front of him couldn’t be counted on his existing fingers anymore. He should get used to this but he didn’t think he could. The information given left him stunned sentence by sentence.
‘What did Wangji do?’ Lan Qiren thought, thinking about that taciturn nephew of his.
“His love burns too fiercely. He couldn’t accept the fact that your elders wanted to kill his love just because that person is unconventional to the ways of the cultivation world and thinks in an unorthodox way.” Nie Huaisang said, looking deep into the halfway filled teacup in his left hand.
“Would you be willing to tell this master who that person is?” Lan Qiren asked. ‘Perhaps this old one can keep an eye on that person? What if the person turns out to be way problematic and ruin this old one’s nephew’s focus in his studies and taint them?’ Lan Qiren thought.
He had worked hard in raising both his nephews to be the best that they can. Of course he wouldn’t want his nephews to follow the same path as his brother but if preventing them from it would lead to more torture? Lan Qiren is unwilling to slight his nephews. No matter what happened, he still loves both of his nephews with all his heart.
Lan Qiren absentmindedly reached out to the teacup and drank a mouthful of tea. Face focus in thinking of his nephew’s future.
“It is Yunmeng Jiang, Wei Wuxian.”
Without warning, Nie Huaisang inexplicably felt wet from his head to the back of his neck.
He knew this day would come. He had finally made Lan Qiren lose his composure! He silently cheered in his head. Two lives and he finally managed to. Amused, he fished for his handkerchief from his left sleeve and wiped his face clean.
With a drop of tea still hanging by his lower lip, Lan Qiren gaped at Nie Huaisang.
“Can you please repeat that? This master thinks he misheard.” Lan Qiren demanded after a beat, feeling both flustered and shocked at his lost composure, he tried to control his breathing.
“Master did not mishear. This one did say Wei Wuxian of the Yunmeng Jiang sect.” Nie Huaisang answered while he’s wiping away his neck. Feeling both amused and slightly disgusted, this is his second time being sprayed on the face with tea, he recalled. First was with Su She and now, Lan Qiren.
Lan Qiren is usually so composed, so cool. Exuding an elder’s ‘air’ around him. He is respected by many and today, he had finally lost his composure because of the words of a tiny youth that claimed to have been reborn. Lan Qiren is unsure whether he should be horrified at his own lack of self-control or angry because this youth kept spouting things he didn’t even know he refused to hear!
What Nie Huaisang remembers of Lan Qiren is of an elder who is both strict and intolerant to any unconventional beliefs that differed from his tradition and rules, so, he didn’t know how Wei Wuxian would survive in this family. (Little did he know, he too, will face judgement one day XD).
Also, how funny is it that the person Lan Qiren loves is the mother of his future nephew-in-law? To a certain extent, he must’ve hated Wei Changze for sweeping Cangse Sanren off her feets but also, something must be lacking in Lan Qiren that Cangse Sanren didn’t like. Or perhaps it’s the rules. Ugh just the rules are enough to deter anyone from entering the sect through marriage. Or, with a shudder, Nie Huaisang thought that Wei Wuxian are almost Lan Qiren’s son. Imagine Lan Qiren having family and kids!
Nie Huaisang held back a shudder.
It was silent for a while as Nie Huaisang let Lan Qiren pull himself together and thought of another thing that he had to discuss about Lan Wangji.
“Wei Wuxian will grate you in all the wrong ways possible. He did not adhere to the rules and he will cause trouble. You mustn't expel him. This one couldn’t tell any more than that.” Nie Huaisang concluded his reminder. At least, he could give a little heads-up to Lan Qiren so he knew that Wei Wuxian is an untamed soul. With the strict way that Lan Qiren is, perhaps some of the things that happened in the other life could still be re-enacted so both Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian could spend some time together.
Still reeling with both confusion and unwillingness to let his most favoured disciple be tainted by such an unruly descendant of his secret-not-so-secret crush, Lan Qiren tried to process everything in his head and organise his thoughts. Not even finished with processing, Nie Huaisang once again interrupted his thought-process.
“Lan Wangji is suitable and strong enough to handle his own night hunt. Tomorrow, another attack of the fierce corpses will occur at your border. One of your disciples will be infected.” Nie Huaisang announced, startling Lan Qiren into being more alert as this matter involves the Lan sect’s territory and no longer about the love life of his nephew.
“Will there be any deaths?” Lan Qiren questions. As a person that had taken care of the sect’s territories for years in place of his brother, it would be a lie if he said that he didn’t care at all for the people that had resided in it.
“There would be a few but that is inevitable. They must die for the betterment of the world.” Nie Huaisang responds, startling Lan Qiren (again) at the way the cold in the youth’s voice just seeped out. There’s even a hint of disgust. Seeing the critical look given by Lan Qiren, Nie Huaisang added, “They were bandits and had killed and robbed numerous merchants and travellers. Their crimes varied from distasteful to morbidly disgusting. I have no feelings for those kinds of humans.”
Lan Qiren is enlightened. This youth wouldn’t do something without a reason. The saying of ‘seeing a hundred steps in front’ really fits Nie Huaisang in Lan Qiren’s head. He couldn’t even feel embarrassed that this youth in front of him knows something more than he did. His rules forbid him from hating without a reason. But he also had questions.
“How about the infected Lan disciple?” Lan Qiren asked, looking at the youth with expectant eyes.
“He cannot be saved. The resentment of the Iron corrupted his foundation and he couldn’t resist. It’s better to ‘let him off’ and burn him than let him suffer.” Came the succinct answer.
“Then, this master will do as you say.” Lan Qiren acquiesced and both drank tea in silence before Nie Huaisang bid farewell and went back to his quarters.
While laying down on his bed at night, Nie Huaisang just realised that he didn’t tell Lan Qiren about his nephew’s marriage in the cave and how they elope after everything is over.
‘Well, I think he can handle it. Nie Huaisang thought. Thinking back to the way the old master sputtered in shock, ‘Then again, perhaps not.
Two days went by in order. Nie Huaisang only goes out of his quarters to practise, meal times, and for everything else (Lan Xichen’s attempts to ask him to spend time together), he paid little to no attention to.
While reading a book on war tactics, Nie Huaisang heard a fluttering of a butterfly’s wings. He turned around and he saw a butterfly moving towards him, having flown past the door with no problem, the shimmering blue wings still attracted him. He waited patiently for the butterfly to arrive, book in hand forgotten.
“That person has arrived.” Came the succinct message, which no doubt meant it was from Lan Wangji since it was talking about ‘that person’.
Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng had arrived.
Feeling his heart racing for some unknown reason, he stands up and paces around his room, trying to work his nerves. He still didn’t know whether he should befriend the both of them or not. Should he? Shouldn’t he? Could he? What if Wei Wuxian caught a whiff of his involvements in trying to save the cultivation world? That could immediately be counted as suspicious since there’s no reason why Nie Huaisang wants to save it without any ulterior motives. However, the only person he ever told of his rebirth is his brother, whom he knows won’t tell a soul, and Lan Qiren, who is grateful to him for helping the sect.
But avoiding and hiding behind the scene is no longer a choice since he’ll be working closely with Lan Qiren anyway, so Wei Wuxian will still be suspicious. Ugh!
He’d been their friend once, he knew what would happen, how to re-enact everything to be the way it should be to get his desired result. But he can’t help feeling the overwhelming guilt that consumes him when he can’t do anything to help the both of them when their home was attacked. He didn’t know why he didn’t help Wei Wuxian when he was insisting on saving the remnants of the Wens. He didn’t know how to act.
Feeling frustrated, he tugged his hair, pulling and prodding until it’s a mess, breaths coming out a little faster. Should he or should he not befriend them both?
The last thing he remembers was the sound of a thud from his body hitting the ground like a sack of potatoes.
Wei Wuxian looked around and at the entrance. There’s no guards but he’s sure they won’t leave it without protection. With no one to give the invitation card that he painstakingly retrieved for, he pulled out a talisman and quickly activated it, turning them into yellow butterflies, completely destroying the invisible ward at the entrance. With two jars of wine strapped to his sword and a smirk on his lips, he jovially climbs the stairs.
Once he arrived at the main gate that leads to the building, he looked around and thought that he can’t just barge into the place through the door. The least he could do, since he didn’t find his siblings at the foot of the mountains, is to sneak around to find them.
With this thought in his head, he found a wall he could climb.
He put his sword on top of the little roof on the wall, wine strapped to it, and peek to check the coast and climb the roof when it was clear. Since the robe he’s wearing will trip him to his death if he ever stepped on them, he could only do it slowly and swiftly. He swings his right leg, sits his butt on the roof and swings his left leg after he’s sure he won’t be sitting on any leftover fabric from his sleeves, feeling proud of maintaining his balance even though he’s been trained since he was accepted into the Jiang sect to learn martial arts, he smiles at his accomplishments.
He stayed like that until he felt the pin-prick feeling of being watched. He looked to his right and with a gasp, he saw a person in white robe already looking at him with a blank face and sword in hand like he did the most heinous of crimes. He clutches his chest tightly before letting out a nervous laugh and unconsciously says, “What a coincidence! We meet again.”
Looking unimpressed, Lan Wangji continues to stare at him.
“Lan Er-Gongzi, it’s so late in the night. Are you… are you here to.. to look at the moon?” Wei Wuxian asks nervously, looking at Lan Wangji with a crooked smile. When Lan Wangji still displayed an unimpressed look, Wei Wuxian lost his smile and was filled with annoyance. He didn’t ask for this!
“Lan Er-Gongzi, I’m looking for the other disciples from my sect. Have you seen them?” He starts. “Here, I even got the goddamned invitation card that you so asked for…” Wei Wuxian starts messing with the lapel on his chest, hands looking for the invitation card when he was cut off by Lan Wangji.
“You broke the ward of this sect and broke a few of the sect’s rules.” Lan Wangji said, seeing the annoyance in Wei Wuxian’s face when he said it but he bulldozed through it. “No one is allowed to enter the sect after twilight. You broke this rule. No alcohol is allowed inside of Cloud Recesses. You broke this rule.” Wei Wuxian clutched his wine close to him and Lan Wangji felt a little amused at that. He didn’t care for any other things like being scolded or reprimanded but he cared for his wine.
“This is my first time coming to the Gusu Lan sect. How could I know the rules of this place? Just let me go this once? I will even give you a jar of my precious wine.” Wei Wuxian tries to reason and compromise with Lan Wangji, smiling as he’s offering the wine to him.
That smile was quickly wiped when he heard Lan Wangji’s respond, “You even want to bribe me? Doubly guilty.”
With a frown on his brow, Wei Wuxian looked at Lan Wangji with dissatisfaction. “Ey, Lan Er-Gongzi, I just want to look for my shijie and Jiang Cheng. Why are you so inflexible?'' Without waiting for a comment, Wei Wuxian got up to leave but he was stopped by a sword being pulled an inch from his face. With a gasp, he jerked back in surprise.
He looked at Lan Wangji in disbelief. ‘Did this guy just thrust his sword in front of my face?’ and the answer is a hard ‘yes’ for Wei Wuxian.
Wei Wuxian nervously laughs as he pushes the sword back into the scabbard while saying, “Lan Er-Gongzi, please don’t be reasonable. I only want to look for my friends.” Then he tried to jump from the roof only to be stopped by Lan Wangji pulling his sword out of its scabbard and swinging it at Wei Wuxian in an attempt to stop him. Wei Wuxian gasps and blocks it using the scabbard of his sword, immediately retrieving his strapped wine and clutching it tightly. Lan Wangji swings the sword a couple more times and Wei Wuxian blocks every thrust, throwing his head back, jumping and spinning around to avoid every move that comes from Lan Wangji.
He made a bolt to the higher roofs near where he climbed and Lan Wangji immediately chased after him.
‘Man, this fuddy-duddy sure had talents and was skilled in gongfu (martial art). Luckily, my wine is safe.’ Wei Wuxian thought as he giddily looked at his jars of wine. This is the first time he had met someone that could match his skill and pace.
Lan Wangji also thought the same. ’Nie Er-Gongzi didn’t lie. This Wei Wuxian is a perfect match for me. He looked really beautiful, too. But why does he have to break the rules?’ He then remembers that Nie Huaisang did mention Wei Wuxian had a penchant for breaking the rules and his heart was dismayed. He didn’t want to judge too quickly, maybe this is just a façade that Wei Wuxian is displaying but he can see the unrepentant lines in Wei Wuxian’s smirk.
“I have to go. See you later!” Wei Wuxian said before he turned around and used his qinggong to move quickly, leaving the place with a kick of his feet.
Lan Wangji never let go of a disciple that broke the rules in the Cloud Recesses when he encounters them since he was appointed as the Head of Discipline so, guests or no, he went after Wei Wuxian, robes fluttering as he went after him with his qinggong, sword thrusts in front of him.
Wei Wuxian landed on a roof, thinking he was safe when he felt the air displacement behind him move in a tell-tale of an attack and quickly dodged to the side, narrowly avoiding the tip of Lan Wangji’s sword.
‘This fuddy-duddy is crazy! No one points their sword at a guest disciple that didn’t know the rules of the sect! Wei Wuxian thinks as he dodged yet another blow from Lan Wangji and accidentally throws his Emperor’s Smile in the air.
Knowing that the wine is something precious to Wei Wuxian, Lan Wangji cut the string that connected the two jars together and watched Wei Wuxian scramble to grab it in satisfaction. He sheaths his sword and observes as Wei Wuxian dives after the wine.
Successful in clutching a jar, he smiles before he realised that the other jar was too far away for him to grab, lest his footing will cause the ones he had already clutches fall, so he used the end of Suibian to catch it. He smiles in triumph when the jar finally stops spinning on top of his sword’s hilt. Moments later, the jar falls down and Wei Wuxian looks at the loss in sorrow and wanting somewhere to lash out, he immediately looks at the (handsome) perpetrator and immediately hollers, “Lan Zhan! Pay back for my Emperor’s Smile!”. No longer thinking about proprieties and politeness.
Lan Zhan dives down using qinggong, looking like an immortal that had just left heaven to punish the mortals. He landed in front of Wei Wuxian and looked at him blankly. Wei Wuxian clutched the last jar of wine possessively to his stomach with a frown on his eyebrows and Lan Wangji can’t help feeling a twitch of amusement in his heart at that.
“Turn around.” Lan Wangji said with his right hand behind his back and Bichen clutched in his left hand, looking poised and elegant.
Wei Wuxian eyed him suspiciously but felt like it wouldn’t be wrong to turn around, so he did and he was bewildered by what he saw. Words upon words upon words carved in stone. The words caught his eyes in a new way, making his head spin from so many ‘prohibited’. He saw Alcohol is prohibited. Talking behind other people's back is prohibited. Running is prohibited. Killing livestock within the area is prohibited. Fighting without permission is prohibited. Promiscuity is prohibited. Venturing out at night is prohibited. Causing noise is prohibited. Sneering for no reason is prohibited. Sitting improperly is prohibited.
Wei Wuxian’s face kept retorting in bewilderment then he finally looked at Lan Wangji and asked, “What is this?”
“This is the Rules of Gusu Lan sect.”
“So many rules!” Wei Wuxian sputters in shock and awe.
“Put down the jar. If you want to learn here, you should start counting the rules you broke tonight.” Lan Wangji chided, still looking poised and elegant.
“I’m so glad I grew up in Yunmeng. If I grow up with the rigidity and terrible rules of the Gusu Lan sect, I might commit blasphemy!” Wei Wuxian exclaimed, looking at Lan Wangji and seeing a trace of offence there. With a smile, he kicks his feet and jumps back onto the roof of the building that divides the outside and inside of the sect, robes fluttering and filling the air with the sounds of fabrics moving against each other.
“Well, since I can’t drink inside, I’ll just drink here. This can’t be considered as breaking the rules.” Wei Wuxian said, pulling the jar stopper and breathe in the mellow scent of the Emperor’s Smile. Lan Wangji only looked at the display with mild annoyance and can only think of two words that could fit Wei Wuxian and it doesn’t include smart and intelligent. It is silly and clumsy.
Without another word, Wei Wuxian gulps a large mouthful of the wine and exhales in satisfaction. “Good wine!”
He took another large gulp of wine before he said, “Every woman in every sect admires the well-known Lan Er-Gongzi. But what a pity!” he exclaimed before he went silent, sipping the wine, waiting for Lan Wangji to take the bait.
“What’s a pity?” Recognising a bait and still taking it might be the stupidest decision Lan Wangji had ever made because the next sentence completely ire him.
“That the man they feverishly admire is a cold, unreasonable, ruthless, stubborn and mean person.” He paused, looking for Lan Wangji’s reaction. When he found what he’s looking for, which is the tightness around the corner of Lan Wangji’s mouth, he added, “but it doesn’t matter. After I got back to Yunmeng…”
Something clutches his throat and he can’t open his mouth. He made an indignant sound when he looked at Lan Wangji. ‘Lan Wangji you completely unreasonable person! How could you stop a person’s right to talk!’ he wanted to say, but all that came out is only an unintelligent sound.
With his mouth sealed using the Silencing Charm of the Lan Clan, he can’t drink his wine anymore and he leapt down from the roof and poke at Lan Wangji’s chest and gestured at the jar of wine, a hollow sloshes sound could be heard. Continuing making unintelligible sounds, Lan Wangji ignored him, grabbed his arm and dragged him to his uncle’s office.
He heard knocking before he could sense where he’s laying. The sound of knuckles hitting the wood softly made the pounding in his head worse. He muffled his groan and pushed the heel of his right hand towards his forehead, trying to lessen the pressure on that spot. It didn’t work but one could always hope.
He muttered something as a sign that he heard the knocker’s call.
“Nie Er-Gongzi, Master Lan is looking for you. Master Lan mentioned that you should go to his office immediately.” Came the voice of a disciple. Nie Huaisang muttered his answer and waited for the footsteps to fade.
He looked around and noticed that his room is a mess but he could care less about that right now because his head is pounding and he had to think of a quick way to re-braid his hair since he tugged it to death before he passed out from his panic attack.
He slowly gets up and groans at his sore limbs. ‘Well, I will need to have a breakdown session after whatever is it that Lan Qiren wants to talk about at this time of night when the Lans should be sleeping(!).’
He quickly applied oil on his hair to make it look less like a bird’s nest and more like a young master’s , skilfully braid it back and hastened to Lan Qiren’s office in the most graceful way he could, headache still throbbing something vicious with KeXiang in hand.
When he arrived, he could see Wei Wuxian standing in front of the Lan disciple slash corpse, right hand on his chin as he contemplated what made the disciple that way.
“Master Lan.” Nie Huaisang greets Lan Qiren, his voice startling the group. He then half-heartedly greets Lan Xichen and greets Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji with concealed dread and excitement.
“It is happening.” Lan Qiren said, looking at Nie Huaisang with a barely concealed distress and hope at Nie Huaisang.
Nie Huaisang hummed in acknowledgement and looked at the corpse, wheels on his head turning as he tried to understand it. However, as much as he wants to figure it out, Wei Wuxian is the only one that could understand it inexplicably. All the things he learnt while and after Wei Wuxian lived is only half of what Wei Wuxian understood and invented.
A student couldn’t surpass his master.
He looked at Wei Wuxian, who was already looking at Nie Huaisang with a barely concealed intrigue and suspicions. He smiled faintly at him and looked at Lan Qiren. His words shocked everyone in the room, minus the corpse (cause he’s dead already).
“It has happened before and it will continue to happen.” Calmly he spoke and let out a little bit of the truth. “You know his name and you know there’s nothing you could do. What you could do is try to curb the attacks. The Nie sect is trying not to provoke the ‘Sun’ because that will be their excuse to attack us. Try to endure it as much as you can. Defend as much as you can. Fight as many as you can. They are thirsting for war but we aren’t too keen to follow. When the time comes, we’ll shoot down the ‘Sun’.”
His words made the youth’s blood boil in excitement and horror. The promise of an impending war is both scary and exciting. For those that had never faced it, they were filled with joy and excitement in trying to showcase their skills, compare their merits to their peers. For those that had faced it, they dread it and hope that the war will never come for the sake of the cultivation world because they know just how much the normal folks will suffer, the toll of it on each sect financially and emotionally.
The tightness around the corner of his eyes was seen by Lan Xichen and it made the future Sect Leader wonder what Nie Huaisang had seen. Why his tones were as if the youth had seen it and spoke from experience. The matter-of-fact tone used when talking about some unexplainable topic with Lan Xichen. The sudden words made him wonder if they were prophecies. He wondered a lot when it comes to the youth. So much so that he didn’t know how to tackle the youth’s heart anymore.
But he’s not one to give up. He’ll try as long as he can. As long as he’s given the chance.
“How long?” Lan Qiren asks vaguely, looking at Nie Huaisang as if he’s the only beacon of light in the darkness that is dread.
“Give and take, about seven months.” Nie Huaisang answered shortly. The group takes in a sharp breath at that information.
“That quick? How could we prepare for everything? What if we’re not able to fight back? We could also just counterattack now and shock them. That will throw them out of balance. I have ways to sneak in.” Wei Wuxian interjects, cutting off the tension as he speaks.
“Wei-xiong. The way you were thinking of could only work if every individual in every sect agrees to it. Without agreement, the talismans wouldn’t work and the battle array couldn’t be formed. Also, a high level of spiritual energy was needed to activate that array and the minor sects are in a disadvantage. To suppress the Sun, a sudden ambush is indeed good but with the numbers supporting the opposition, it is better if we didn’t start anything.” Nie Huaisang deducts everything and cutting of Wei Wuxian’s rash ways of action just from a few sentences that he spoke.
“How did you know what I was thinking? How did you know that I will want to use a battle array? How did you know the talismans will need agreement?” Incredulous, Wei Wuxian sputtered out questions that made Nie Huaisang regret ever commenting.
He already knew his involvement in preventing and preparing the Lan sect for the war cannot be concealed once every single youth in the room knows of his entanglement with the Lan sect’s business. Lan Qiren might even be criticised for exposing the sect's secret to an outsider but his own reputation is strong enough to endure the blunder of attacks from oncoming words of the common people.
“You will mellow out, Wei-xiong. Time will mellow you out. You are much too excited right now.” Nie Huaisang replied without saying anything else. He glanced at the corpse and then looked at Lan Qiren and gave a signal with just one look.
“All of you can leave. The matter of today must stay within this group of people.” With Lan Qiren’s command, none of them could interject because that would be breaking the rules. Wei Wuxian tried to interject but he was silenced by Lan Wangji, who had an unwavering faith in Nie Huaisang, and dragged Wei Wuxian out by his arm from the office after he gave a bow in farewell with Lan Xichen in tow. Lan Xichen eyed him worriedly and it made his heart ache from how familiar those eyes looked at him before. He hardens his heart.
Now is not the time for this. He had no time for people’s concern and he had no time to think of his undying and ever-burning love.
When the three youths were far enough that they couldn’t eavesdrop, highlights Wei Wuxian, Nie Huaisang said, “Jiang Cheng should be involved. He needs to know about this. No information only weakens him. His mind can provide ways to prevent the massacre of his people.”
“When do you reckon we should tell him?” Lan Qiren asks, not even questioning Nie Huaisang now, eyes trailing over the corpse, trying to calm himself by reciting Buddhist scriptures in his heart.
“Today should be good, however, that would break the rules. The earliest should be tomorrow.” Nie Huaisang answered decisively.
Jiang Cheng may have a bit of insecurity when it comes to his shixiong but his crafty mind and practical ideas are a gift. If Nie Huaisang could use that mind to take down the Wen sect, it would be worth it. After all, the Wens had caused Jiang Cheng as much lasting grief as it did to Nie Huaisang in the other life. This could serve as a payback to the Wens from the Jiangs.
With a nod from Lan Qiren as an understanding, the both of them come to the conclusion that the impending war is inevitable no matter how keen they were to avoid it.
Class hadn’t begun yet but the guest disciples were allowed to roam and mingle with one another before the Welcoming Ceremony was conducted. Nie Huaisang cringed when he heard Wei Wuxian’s voice teasing Lan Wangji from the garden and he covered half of his face with KeXiang as was his habit.
Nie Huaisang sighed as he thought, ‘Couldn’t Wei-xiong wait until I got out of here? I am getting secondhand embarrassment just from being in a close proximity as them.’
“Lan Er-Gongzi! Could you teach me how to do this? I heard the rumours saying that you’re super smart and all that.” Wei Wuxian asks as he looked at Lan Wangji with a smile on his lips but concealed mischief in his eyes.
The ever-awkward Lan Wangji got red in the ears, and that earned an amused laugh from Wei Wuxian, and walked away and pretended as if he couldn’t hear anything.
“Ey! Ey, Lan Er-Gongzi!” Wei Wuxian said in a whiny tone, “Don’t ignore me!” to which Lan Wangji still ignores him with a stoic face and red ears as an accompaniment.
Nie Huaisang felt embarrassed and he regretted ever getting out of his quarters to get some air. He hastened so he could go back to his quarters. Wei Wuxian’s whiny voice drowned out by Jiang Cheng’s scolding tone and Wei Wuxian trying to appease his ever-annoyed shidi.
Just as he was about to leave though, a greeting from behind startled him. He turned around and saw Lan Xichen. He sighs in his heart and lukewarmly greets him back. Without saying anything and KeXiang covering half of his face, the slow lift of his brow could already convey his message to Lan Xichen.
What do you want?
“Huaisang, would you be free to walk with me?” Lan Xichen asks, tone hopeful and face anxious, waiting for Nie Huaisang’s response. The hope plastered to his face was clear to anyone who sees them.
‘Unfortunately,’ Nie Huaisang thought, ‘you are asking me.’
“I have something I need to attend to.” Nie Huaisang crushed Lan Xichen’s hope with just a sentence of refusal and Lan Xichen wilted like a flower getting too much sun in front of him.
Without waiting for anything else, he bids farewell to Lan Xichen and walks away.
Just a few steps away from when he started walking, he felt arms crept up his shoulders and he tensed up, grabbed that hand and twisted it around with the fan being placed on the person’s neck on impulse. Forgetting the fact that Lan Xichen is still standing not too far away from him and might cause him trouble because fighting is prohibited in the Cloud Recesses and he could get reprimanded.
He heard a groan from Wei Wuxian. He immediately release his tight grip and look at Wei Wuxian, who’s rubbing his redden wrist and gave a half-hearted greeting to Lan Xichen, and Jiang Cheng, who’s standing beside Wei Wuxian, bow and greet Nie Huaisang and Lan Xichen with his manners on point.
“Nie-xiong ah, how could you do this to me?? That hurts!” Wei Wuxian whines as he looks at Nie Huaisang with a pitiful face. However, that pitiful face couldn’t cover the well-concealed suspicions and interests in his eyes. Something that Nie Huaisang knew he would get once he exposed himself to the other youth.
Wei Wuxian. A loyal soul to the bone. His loyalty could even make him do atrocious things and commit blasphemy just so he wouldn’t implicate his one and only sect. He could shoulder being called names and feared by the cultivation world as long as the Jiang sect could thrive and be safe. Even from him and his reputation. Towards this person, Nie Huaisang felt a mixture of respect and hurt. Respect for the man’s committed acts and hurt by the man’s words in condemning him when he thought he knew the truth just by knowing that Nie Huaisang was involved in bringing Jin Guangyao down.
Jiang Cheng. Also loyal to the bone and love both of his siblings more than anything in the world. Being born out of necessities and duty, he struggled to gain his father’s approval over his shixiong and his mother’s seemingly-conditional love. He is naïve enough to believe his shixiong when he told him that there’s a way to gain back his melted golden core and he is decisive enough to make decisions that could pave the way for his flourishing sect in the future. He is strong enough to face the world when his parents were killed and his sect was massacred and he is brave enough to fight the Wens when he still gets nightmares and flashbacks from the night of the attacks.
Two brave souls destined to be brothers. The Two Prides of Yunmeng.
“You should never sneak behind a cultivators’ back, Wei-xiong.” Nie Huaisang joked back after he greets both youths, he wouldn’t be that uptight against a person that had helped him. His gratitude won’t be overridden by his hurt when the man had helped him a lot in the other life. A single favour is a lifetime repayment. Nie Huaisang sticks to that (but that somehow wavers when it comes to Lan Xichen but shh, no one should know that.).
“Well, I didn’t expect that to happen.” Wei Wuxian responds, no longer rubbing his wrist but putting his arms around Jiang Cheng’s shoulder, earning a disgruntled huff of displeasure from the owner of the shoulder. Wei Wuxian just grins when Jiang Cheng gives him the side eye, seemingly used to the way Wei Wuxian usually hangs on him like a monkey.
“What is it?” Nie Huaisang was not the one to twist and turn his words anymore. He didn’t beat around the bush anymore, especially when it comes to Wei Wuxian because that genius will figure it out sooner or later.
“We had some things we would like to discuss with you. Would you be able to join us? We’re going to the backhill to catch fish since we still haven’t had any classes yet!” Wei Wuxian grins at Nie Huaisang and the latter already knows what the questions will entail.
Nie Huaisang looked at the sky, as if to gauge the time, and nod in consent.
With that nod of approval, the three of them walk towards the direction of the backhill, leaving a dejected and rejected Lan Xichen behind.
Nie Huaisang, honest to Guanyin, did want to go back to his quarters and sleep and not be disturbed by some clingy heir. However, talking to Wei Wuxian is also good and it wouldn’t be bad to push the schedule a bit early and finish that dreadful conversation. The sooner it was done, the better the Two Pride could help in the war. The more they know, the more they could contribute. Wei Wuxian might be unorthodox but he had a genius mind and Jiang Cheng could always come up with brilliant ideas.
With that thought in mind, Nie Huaisang hardens his heart, sharpens his mind, and prepares himself for one dreaded conversation (which turned out to be quite unexpected and anticlimactic).
Wei Wuxian bent down and grabbed the fish with his bare hands and promptly showed it off to Nie Huaisang and Jiang Cheng. Nie Huaisang, who was sitting beside Jiang Cheng on the rock beside the river, looked at the scene as if he could see his youth’s time flew by his eyes.
He remembered that the three of them had these explorations before. He would always want to join in. With Wei Wuxian leading the way and Jiang Cheng grumbling all the way and him learning new things, it was such a wonderful part of the whole exchange. They would catch pheasants, hunt birds, catch fishes, and fly kites. It was the highlight of the day whenever Nie Huaisang could join in and he wasn’t even mad when he was punished for breaking some rules (more like a lot of rules).
Ironically, Nie Huaisang thought, the three of them are all heirs (in different degrees cause Wei Wuxian is going to be the First Disciple and was obeyed by all servants and called Gongzi) of powerful sects and need protection in case of assassinations or accidents because even in peaceful times, people still want to grab more power, but none of them brought any attendants or servants to protect and help them like what most Young Masters do (hightlights Jin Zixuan hahaha). Not speaking of the irrevocable trust that they had for the security of the Cloud Recesses as a whole, but they are also confident in their skills to ensure their survival. Which is what Nie Huaisang appreciates and subtly expects of two powerful individuals.
Nie Huaisang gives a thumbs up at Wei Wuxian, listening to the ramblings that Wei Wuxian usually did whenever it was silent. If it was the other life, Nie Huaisang would’ve joined in on the fun and splash water at the both of them and coaxed Jiang Cheng in.
As it is, Nie Huaisang is old already and didn’t want to wet his clothes. He listens to Wei Wuxian rambling about cooking fish outside of the Lan territory so he won’t be punished for killing the fish, not thinking that just by transporting the fish out of the territory, it is an act of killing an animal within the area, which is prohibited by the Lan standard and could be issued punishment if it was reported. Heavy emphasis on ‘if’.
Nie Huaisang chuckled at Wei Wuxian’s comportment and looked at the ever stoic Jiang Cheng beside him. If Wei Wuxian is loud-mouth and clumsy, Jiang Cheng is the polite and practical counterpart. Both of them complimented each other as brothers and it makes Nie Huaisang miss Nie Mingjue (of both lives) and he quickly soothes his heart. Nie Mingjue is safe now and he will continue to make sure that he is safe so that Nie Mingjue could experience what it feels like to be old. To see his hair turn white and have numerous children and grandchildren under his knees.
Nie Huaisang’s eyes got a bit misty at that and he quickly blinked his eyes so that the Two Pride won’t see it. He didn’t know why he’s so sensitive today so as to spontaneously get teary-eyed. Hopefully, no one sees it. (No one did, thank god!)
After Wei Wuxian got his fill in terrorising the fishes and making a ruckus and getting wet, he seemed to be quite exhausted and quickly walked towards where Nie Huaisang and Jiang Cheng were sitting. He sat down with a sigh like an old man and looked at Nie Huaisang with interest.
Nie Huaisang knew Wei Wuxian had questions. Most likely he had already told Jiang Cheng about the happenings in Lan Qiren’s office that first night they came. Jiang Cheng had been notified and now they’re both cornering him with his permission. To be questioned and interrogated, Nie Huaisang is pretty sure it’s either of those. Knowing Wei Wuxian’s glib tongue, most likely they’ll run a few circles before he gets to the point.
Nie Huaisang knows the man can get to the point but the younger Wei Wuxian is intelligent and can make his interrogation look like a normal conversation and that skill had been polished and used against his enemies in the other life. He had seen both versions and had even been the unwilling party. He didn’t have that much time.
Nie Huisang looked at Wei Wuxian, then Jiang Cheng, and sigh in his heart. He dared to show his face and make comments about the fierce corpse, he should face the consequences and the probing questions.
“Just ask the question. With your personality, we will be sitting here longer than we should if you run your mouth.” Nie Huaisang said succinctly. Jiang Cheng made a noise of surprise at Nie Huaisang’s remarks, probably thinking ‘How does he know?’. Wei Wuxian feigned offence at the rebuke but his eyes are increasingly sharper compared to a few moments before.
“How did you know?” Wei Wuxian asked. Not mentioning ‘what’ did Nie Huaisang know but Wei Wuxian knew that the other knew a lot. He threw a single question that could answer many questions, just to see what kind of answer Nie Huaisang would give and collect more information and gauge the extent of Nie Huaisang’s knowledge of the events that are happening.
‘How did you know about the corpse?’
‘How did you know about the array?’
‘How did you know about the Wens?’
‘How did you know there’s going to be a war?’
‘How did you know the time of the war?’
‘How did you know about me?’
‘How did you know about all these?’
Nie Huaisang’s pupils shrink from that question and glaze over for a moment. He knew it was an open question because this is usually the tactic that Wei Wuxian will use when he’s interrogating. By being ambiguous with the questions, the other person will reveal a lot more in order to explain their short answers. Nie Huaisang knew this and his gaze in Wei Wuxian’s direction sharpened and subconsciously got colder.
“Be more specific.” Nie Huaisang said, ignoring the way Jiang Cheng tried to muffle his laughs when he heard this.
Obviously, Jiang Cheng had seen a lot of this kind of conversation where Wei Wuxian would always play the cheerful and dumb act to make the other person not think too much of what they say and this usually reveal a lot more than just a few things. Wei Wuxian will be the interrogator and Jiang Cheng will be the immovable back-up plan and it works for them. With the subtle calling out on Wei Wuxian’s question by Nie Huaisang, they knew Nie Huaisang won’t be like the usual case.
“How did you know about the things that are related to the Wen sect?” Wei Wuxian finally asked after he had a silent communication with Jiang Cheng. The most important part is to know the person that knows the information. Could they be an ally? Are they an enemy? What will be the response when it is revealed? How to progress? How to tackle the problem? Only by knowing these can they make the right judgements and decisions.
“I have my ways to ensure the safety of the Nie sect.” Nie Huaisang answered, not revealing anything else and blocking the road for Wei Wuxian.
Ensuring the safety of the sect is what all heirs had to do. To inherit the sect and to make it more prosperous, one had to be decisive, one had to find more resources and be politically involved in the cultivation world, and one had to ensure that the safety of the sect was not neglected.
Ensuring the safety of their sect is what an heir had to think of.
Jiang Cheng and Wei Wuxian naturally knew this. Both of them are being groomed by Jiang Fengmian at the same time, much to the dismay of Yu Furen, as the leader of the sect (Jiang Cheng as the future Sect Leader and Wei Wuxian as the Head Disciple) and both naturally knew the delicate topics of sect business. Safety is one of them.
“Okay. That doesn’t answer how you know about my talismans. Only the Jiangs knew that I invented them. And even then, only two people know what kind of talisman I created. How did you, a Nie, know about my untold tactics and battle arrays?” Wei Wuxian delicately and wittily goes around the delicate issue and questions Nie Huaisang again.
This is the first time Jiang Cheng heard Wei Wuxian ask more than one question to the interrogated person and it is extremely amusing. He knew, of course, he also should ask some questions and be the back-up, but it’s so fun to see Wei Wuxian stumble a little. His insecure heart is a little satisfied and he knows these feelings are not good and he knows Wei Wuxian loves him and their sect but if feelings could be controlled, he would toss everything to the back of his mind so he could make concise judgement without his emotions getting in the way.
Trapped in a direct question concerning secrecy, Nie Huaisang took some time to organise his thoughts and arrange his words to reveal as little as possible about his reborn situation.
“There are some things that, if revealed, will cause more harm than good.” Nie Huaisang answered without actually answering the question. He can’t really say, ‘Actually, I learn them from you and it has served as a good tool to ensure the safety of my fortress and I am eternally grateful to you and oh, no, it is not the current you but it is the older you that taught me and I also have read hundreds of your chicken-scratch manuscripts and learn how to do many things and oh, have I mentioned that I was reborn? No? Oh, yeah, I am.’
He can’t just say that. That will bring in more questions and raise more suspicions. Just having this conversation is risky enough because Wei Wuxian could be very nosy and his methods, myriad. Nie Huaisang is not that smart so as to dodge everything, especially when it comes to Wei Wuxian. He’s got his smarts from experience and it took years just to learn people and their intentions. Wei Wuxian was born with it. No matter what, Nie Huaisang can’t beat Wei Wuxian.
“Will telling us bring more harm?” Wei Wuxian asks immediately. Upon getting a decisive nod from Nie Huaisang, Wei Wuxian lowers his head in contemplation.
“If you can reveal nothing, then what can you tell us?” Jiang Cheng interrupts and glances at Nie Huaisang, who’s unknowingly exuding an elderly aura that makes both Jiang Cheng and Wei Wuxian unable to be insolent. As if saying or doing something ugly could lower Nie Huaisang’s approval of them. It’s such a weird feeling that suddenly overcomes them and for the ever-sensitive Jiang Cheng, he could feel the subtle changes. In how Nie Huaisang’s gestures shows tolerance and restraint, in how he controls his expressions and speech. Just like an elderly would towards a child when they’re being too nosy.
Both Jiang Cheng and Wei Wuxian felt this and they automatically cooled themselves down. That feeling of trust overcomes them without any warning and second thought. Suddenly, it felt like they were wrapped in a blanket of security when they were near Nie Huaisang. Wei Wuxian is startled and Jiang Cheng even more so. However, the tacit understanding between them is strong, so they didn’t say anything and waited for Nie Huaisang to answer.
“There are many things that are important for a cultivator. Especially for one with such a standing and birth. Jiang Cheng, cultivate well and protect well. Wei Wuxian, don’t be brash and think of the consequences before you do something.” Nie Huaisang replied lightly, looking like he’s imparting a decree.
What he said is a reminder for both of them. As people with power, they should remember their standings as both son (heir) and nephew (First Disciple) and remember what is important to them (family, Lotus Pier, and the Jiang sect). They should always remember that they are cultivators and should protect the normal folks (because there is always check and balance between cultivators and normal folks). They should cultivate well (be strong) to be able to protect what was theirs (their family, sect, and people) and too always think before making a decision and doing something as a result of that said decision.
He long knew that Jiang Cheng had a really protective side, to everyone he deemed family, and he is also very responsible and had a resolute integrity. He won’t necessarily do dirty things to achieve them, and not so wilful to not bend when the situation calls for it. And Wei Wuxian is practically the same way, albeit him having more leeway to commit more blasphemy. He had absolute faith that both Jiang Cheng and Wei Wuxian could be and do better in this life if they had a bit of a push in the right direction.
Both Jiang Cheng and Wei Wuxian are intelligent people. They could understand these words. If they can’t, then Nie Huaisang has judged them too fast.
“With your words, it means that something will happen to our sect and I will affect the Jiang sect, isn’t it?” Wei Wuxian asks bitterly, but there’s an underlying hope that he wouldn’t cause such big troubles.
“That’s why I said to think of the consequences before you do something.” Neither answering nor replying about the future, Wei Wuxian could already grasp what will happen. He, inevitably, will cause a dispute with someone and implicate the Jiang sect in the future. He could already imagine it.
“Send a letter to Jiang Zongzhu. Tell him that there are Wen disciples near your territory. Guard against them but make sure to be discreet. Do not attack but observe.” Nie Huaisang advises, giving a little more hint to help the two.
“Why are there Wens near a Jiang territory?” Wei Wuxian asks, head reeling and thinking that every sect had their own territories and to guard those territories well, not coveting another's territory.
“That trick won’t work on me.” Nie Huaisang rebukes, knowing that these casual conversations are the ‘Wei Wuxian-way’ of getting information. He wanted to give them but it’s better if they can rely on themselves to take care of it. It won’t be too good if they can’t protect themselves. If push comes to shove, he’ll help them kill those Wens.
“Just send the letter.” This was said while looking at Jiang Cheng. No matter how biassed and doting Jiang Fengmian is towards Wei Wuxian, he did care for Jiang Cheng and his words won’t go unheard. If only Jiang Cheng could see it early and not after his parents’ deaths.
A small nod shows Jiang Cheng’s thoughts on the matter. To guard against an enemy, one would always use various methods to ensure safety but the easiest way is always to catch them off-guard. The Wen dared to covet the Jiang’s property, they should accept their retribution.
With his goal achieved (warned the Jiangs), Nie Huaisang thought the dreaded conversation would be much worse (it would be much worse if he didn’t know how Wei Wuxian thinks and he would’ve revealed more if he was not vigilant). It surprised him that he was able to dodge a lot of questions by being taciturn.
Luckily, both Jiang Cheng and Wei Wuxian seemed restrained when talking to him, which also surprised him.
Nie Huaisang didn’t know that he emitted some kind of air that made people feel secure when they’re around him. His speech and gestures also made people feel that he was trustworthy. With a success, he let Wei Wuxian fill the area with his incessant chatter while they walk back to their respective quarters.
How was it? This chapter is a mess because Idk how to write WWX and JC. Both of them are characters that I do not really scrutinise and follow wholeheartedly, even though I was obsessed with Jiang Cheng for a while before and considered on making this a Jiang Cheng/Nie Huaisang/Lan Xichen fic but I didn't, so many things are inaccurate and OOC. There’s also a lot of filler and meaningless things that I’ve written, so please don’t laugh and hate. Huhu.
Feel free to comment. I love reading comments because it lets me know how you feel about it but it is also okay if you don't comment. I love and appreciate it if you enjoy it.
Anyway, take care and have a day. I wrote this 2 months ago and seeing as I don't have any inspiration for chapter 18, I just release this for you guys so you don't feel bored.
P.S: What are your thoughts if I did mini-theatres?
Lan Xichen: Wife! Pay attention to me!
Nie Huaisang: *Too busy thinking about war*
I was obsessed with mini-theatres when I read translated novels hahahaha so I thought 'why not?' So.. Yeah. Tell me what you think! Bye! And thank you for reading!
P.S.S: I just re-read all the past chapters and there's quite a lot of misspelling and weird grammar that I didn't notice when I was editing. All those commentary in brackets are all me commenting on my own writing when I was editing it offline hahahahaha so, when I have free time, I will go back to edit them again. I will not change much but if you guys wanna read it, go ahead. If there are any mistakes in this or future or some of the past that I have overlooked, please let me know. Anyway, bye for real.
Chapter 16: The Complicated Relationships in the Cultivation World
Nie Huaisang continues to plan, continues to meddle and secure another ally.
So, I was just excited to post and I finished chap 18 and 19 hahahahaha. It's 5 am but who needs sleep?
Hope you guys enjoy this because it's funny to me.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Every relationship is complicated. It is a delicate balance between knowing oneself and knowing one’s partner.
For Nie Huaisang, he already knows what he wants, or rather, who he wants, in a partner. Despite regarding Lan Xichen like an annoying bug, he also can’t deny that he had already given his heart to the man. It was the delicate situation that denied him the sweetness of a couple’s entanglement.
Being fourteen (I think fifteen now since this is the second exchange. Edit: Yeah fifteen, I checked) again gave him the opportunity to fix a lot of things and that is not excluding the failed couples that he supports. In the other life, he had heard of Jiang Cheng’s subtle attempt at courting Wen Qing and he had also been a witness to a fight between Jin Zixuan and Wei Wuxian about the former’s dissatisfaction at the latter’s shijie. So, yes, he just wants these knobheads to just enjoy their relationship already and stop putting everyone in misery by their unsubtle pining and embarrassing confessions.
The first one that he would like to try to fix is the Jiang's marriage agreement between Jiang Yanli and Jin Zixuan that caused a lot of heartache for its participants and the bystanders including himself.
Before the official lesson starts, each of the visiting sects had to attend the Welcoming Ceremony in the Lanshi. It is greeting the Master and gifting them an artefact or anything valuable for cultivation as an act of respect and wanting to learn from them.
It is then that the first conflict happened. After rudely barging into the Cloud Recesses and hindering Yunmeng Jiang Sect from performing their bow, Wen Chao, the Second Master of the Wen Sect, dropped Wen Qing and Wen Ning along with a few other disciples into the lecture hall and left.
Nie Huaisang still remembers what transpired in the other life but now was too lazy to pay attention to it because he would like to punch Wen Chao until next year if he ever laid his eyes on him again. This time, there’s no Meng Yao to pull the wool over Zewu-Jun’s eyes with his meekness and soft appearance and for that, Nie Huaisang is thankful.
Otherwise, he’ll just feel the constantly simmering jealousy in him boiling him to death. With Wen Qing here, Nie Huaisang can already see Jiang Cheng’s interests piqued. Oh-ho, what an interesting development. This life or the other life, Wen Qing is still the kind of woman that will catch Jiang Cheng’s eyes. How interesting.
Nie Huaisang had two missions this time and one of them was to practise harder and the other was to fix the relationships around him. And according to seniority, it is better to fix Jin Zixuan’s and Jiang Yanli’s relationship first before he dipped his finger into Jiang Cheng’s business.
Two weeks after lesson starts, Nie Huaisang thought now is the time to warn Jin Zixuan of his harsh treatment towards his betrothed before anymore fights break out between him and the Two Prides. The fights are getting ridiculous and he can’t believe he enjoys goading the fights between the Jins and the Jiangs.
Just last week, Wei Wuxian was punished for causing disharmony between sects when he ‘accidentally’ caused a commotion in front of the Lanshi by blocking the doors when Jin Zixuan and his delegation was about to enter it. This minor dispute was seen by many, including Nie Huaisang, who can’t help but sigh at Wei Wuxian’s unruly behaviour.
It wasn’t even a month in and Wei Wuxian already landed himself with two punishments and another week’s worth of punishment by copying the sect rules ten times in the Library Pavilion.
Nie Huaisang shudders when he thinks about copying the three thousand rules. His wrists ached subtly when he remembered how he helped Wei Wuxian copy those for the sake of acquiring favour and help in the examination and his own punishment in the other life.
The bell rings from the western side of the Cloud Recesses when it is time for lunch and Nie Huaisang hastens to catch up with Jin Zixuan, who was talking to one of the Jin disciples.
“Jin Gongzi. Luo Guniang.” Nie Huaisang greets the both of them courteously, shocking both cultivators, one from the unexpected greetings and the other because no one really knows her name except for ones in the Jin sect.
“Nie Er-Gongzi,” both Jin Zixuan and Luo Qingyang greet the Second Master of Nie Sect.
“This might appear abrupt but would Jin Gongzi spare some time?” Nie Huaisang spoke with courtesy while looking alternately at both Jin Zixuan and Luo ‘MianMian’ Qingyang.
Jin Zixuan and Luo Qingyang did some silent eyebrow conversation that Nie Huaisang is too lazy to interpret and finally, Luo Qingyang bid farewell to both his master and Nie Huaisang.
“What is it?” Jin Zixuan, much like Lan Wangji, is an awkward heir who didn’t know how to express himself. Speaking concisely had always been his style.
“Not here, Jin Gongzi. Somewhere private. Come.” Nie Huaisang brought Jin Zixuan to a secluded garden.
It was slightly frowned upon to skip lunch because this is the Cloud Recesses and skipping lunch is considered as not caring for one’s body and thus, Nie Huaisang had to have a conversation with Jin Zixuan in secret (not secret) to avoid punishment.
“Rumour has it that Jin Gongzi frowned upon his marriage agreement. Is it true?” Nie Huaisang starts, right hand already retrieving his beloved KeXiang. Jiang Yanli may be weak in cultivation and mediocre in temperament but Nie Huaisang knows that despite all that softness, Jiang Yanli attempted the impossible everyday by being Yu Furen’s daughter. Having the Violet Spider as a mother surely is not easy for anyone, let alone that ‘weak’ lady. If Jin Zixuan is not going to appreciate that, he might as well let her go (despite happy developments later).
“What does it matter to you?” Jin Zixuan snapped, his temper rising just by the mention of the marriage agreement that his mother had arranged for him with her childhood playmate, Yunmeng Jiang, Yu Ziyuan’s daughter, Jiang Yanli.
“Is it that you hate her or that you hate your mother making the decision for you?” Nie Huaisang questioned again, neither acknowledging nor answering the question asked by Jin Zixuan, while slowly fanning himself with KeXiang, hair softly fluttering on his shoulders.
That question stumped Jin Zixuan. He didn’t have any feelings for Jiang Yanli and thought her too mediocre for his standard. He didn’t hate her for any of her shortcomings but he didn’t like her either. Thought she’s too ordinary for someone in the cultivation world, unlike her mother. He didn’t like that kindness is all there is to her name while he had many achievements under his. He didn’t like that both of them would be trapped inside a loveless marriage just like his parents did. Just like hers. He’s not heartless enough to take away someone’s daughter and trapped them in a place where kindness is a weakness.
“I see. You didn’t dislike her but you dislike marriage without love and dislike that your mother took that decision away from you.” Nie Huaisang voiced out after a long silence, having had an epiphany. He carefully analyses Jin Zixuan’s face and after years of being a Sect Leader, it’s impossible that he couldn’t understand even this simple thing. Especially since Jin Zixuan had everything written on his face for Nie Huaisang to read.
“What is your intention?” Jin Zixuan questioned again with an annoyed tone because this is the matter between the Jin and the Jiang sect and a Nie had no right to meddle. He knows enough proprietary information to recognise when someone crosses it. Unfortunately, Nie Huaisang is exactly the kind that meddles and does whatever he wants.
“My intention is clear. Your betrothed is my friends’ sister. I, like them, would want her to have the best second-part of her life. If you are unwilling, better end it here rather than embarrassing and tainting her name. If you are unsatisfied, don’t let others know of it. She is a woman and a woman’s reputation is important for her to get a good marriage.”
“Fortunately,” he paused, snapping KeXiang close for dramatic effects. “Her marriage is considered secure when your mother proposes an engagement to the Jiangs. Unfortunately,” he paused again, shaking his head from side to side in feign disappointment. “After years of rumours about your dissatisfaction and apparent hatred for the arrangement and herself, wouldn’t it ruin her image and reputation little by little?” Nie Huaisang chided Jin Zixuan. He also hates the Jin heir for thinking and letting others talk bad about Jiang Yanli.
That woman had a hard life already, give her a break.
“What do you think I could do? I can’t break the engagement, I can’t openly break ties between the two sects. What do you think I could do?” Jin Zixuan bursts, snapping at Nie Huaisang who he thought didn’t know of his predicaments.
“You want to break the engagement. Why?” Nie Huaisang asked, wanting the Jin heir to voice it out.
“Have you seen my parents? Have you seen her parents? Do you think I could trap her in that kind of marriage? I may think she is unworthy of me but I am not so cruel so as to let her be in a loveless marriage with me. She deserves more than that.” Jin Zixuan replied reluctantly, feeling relieved of finally saying what he had kept in his heart.
“Are you sure you want to break the engagement?” Nie Huaisang questioned, ideas already forming in his head on how to help break the engagement. Perhaps, this will be the stepping stone on how Jin Zixuan will finally realise what a wonderful person Jiang Yanli is.
“Yes.” Jin Zixuan replied succinctly, eyes determined, the corner of his mouth tight with tension.
Once again, without him noticing, Nie Huaisang once again let out the aura of an elder, making Jin Zixuan trust him unconditionally.
“I can help you, but remember, water spilt cannot be retrieved. Once this engagement is broken, it will take a lot more effort to mend it.” Nie Huaisang reminds him with a faint voice and clear eyes, making Jin Zixuan nod his head.
It doesn’t take long before confusion takes over his features, finally realising the odd situation that took place between them.
“Why do you want to help me?” Jin Zixuan asked, eyes focused on the boy in front of him, hand clenched on Suihua tightly. “What do you want?”
“I don’t want anything. I just felt that the engagement was a pity. Thus, I would like to help.” Nie Huaisang replied vaguely, tone flat and face blank. With a few more words being exchanged, Jin Zixuan finally bid his farewell before going to the dining hall for lunch.
Not long after, Nie Huaisang could hear footsteps coming his way.
Sure enough, his instinct was right. Someone was eavesdropping. And that someone will also play an important role in breaking the marriage agreement.
Nie Huaisang waited for the person to come forward, snapping KeXiang open and leisurely fanning himself. Sure enough, soon, a figure in purple stood in front of him with clenched jaw and folded arms, looking at Nie Huaisang with a complicated look on his face and scrutiny in his eyes.
“Jiang Gongzi.” Nie Huaisang greets Jiang Cheng with a bow, anticipating questions from the way the heir eyed him. Jiang Cheng greets him back with a nod of his head.
“Why do you do that?” Jiang Cheng asked, not understanding the ulterior motives and what Nie Huaisang could gain by helping break his sister’s engagement with the peacock.
“Do what, Jiang-Xiong?” Nie Huaisang asked, feigning innocence with clear eyes and harmless smile. Jiang Cheng clearly knows that he can’t get anything by being vague because Nie Huaisang will also be vague if he doesn’t want to answer anything.
With an exasperated sigh, Jiang Cheng snapped at Nie Huaisang, “Stop that. I heard what you said to that peacock. Why do you do that?”
“Eavesdropping is prohibited in the Cloud Recesses, Jiang-Xiong.” Nie Huaisang evades with a teasing tone, carefully crafting a logical and not-to-exposing excuse for his meddling.
Jiang Cheng looked unimpressed and once again folded his arms while looking at Nie Huaisang, Sandu in hand, eyes murderous and guarded, jaws clenching, brows furrowed and mouth in a scowl. In the other life, just this look is enough to get Nie Huaisang talking but in this life, he’s an experienced and hardened Sect Leader already. He’ll wait until Jiang Cheng loses his patience.
Not even one tenth of an incense went by before Jiang Cheng huffs and rolled his eyes, arms still folded and asked Nie Huaisang, “Why did you want to help break a-jie’s marriage agreement?”
“I’m sure you’ve heard my reasoning already. What I said to Jin Gongzi is also my answer to yours.” NIe Huaisang answered.
“Because you pity her? Is that it?” Jiang Cheng asked in a hard tone, he can’t accept it when people look down on his sister.
“Do you think your sister is happy with the arrangement?” Nie Huaisang asked abruptly, shooting the question as if he asked absent-mindedly.
Startled, Jiang Cheng thought of all the time his sister would sigh sadly and a tightness would appear on her forehead every time she heard someone insult her standing compared to Jin Zixuan. The gloom in her eyes made both him and Wei Wuxian upset. His expression turns to one of dismay.
“That is why I would like to help.” Nie Huaisang answered softly, looking at Jiang Cheng with a very sophisticated and knowing look, shocking Jiang Cheng who quickly schooled his expression.
Without bidding farewell, Nie Huaisang begins to walk slowly towards the dining hall, past the frozen Jiang Cheng. Subtly sending hints that he wants to walk with him. Waking up from his stupor, Jiang Cheng quickly turned around and followed Nie Huaisang.
“Do you really mean it?” Jiang Cheng suddenly asked without heads or tails, confusing Nie Huaisang who looked at the youth’s red face with confusion dancing in his eyes. Without answering, Nie Huaisang looked at the youth while walking until Jiang Cheng glanced at him and Nie Huaisang lifted his right eyebrow in question.
“When you said you’re our friend and want what’s best for her?” Jiang Cheng elaborated with a blush on his face, eyes looking anywhere but at Nie Huaisang.
Nie Huaisang chuckled inwardly. Being an heir made it difficult for a person to find a sincere friend. People either want your money and prestige or use you to get money and prestige.
“Yes, Jiang-Xiong. I consider you a friend and Jiang Guniang is a kind lady. I wouldn’t want anybody to slight her. I am quite protective of my own.” Nie Huaisang answered, unconsciously revealing that he thought of the Jiang siblings as one of his. Jiang Cheng is once again startled at this subtle declaration but makes no noise. He felt grateful that someone wants to help and befriend him sincerely and not because of Wei Wuxian’s influence.
“How are you planning to break the engagement?” Jiang Cheng asks, a hint of excitement colouring his voice though he still kept his face emotion-free.
Nie Huaisang brought KeXiang up and covered his smiling lower face with it. Jiang Cheng looked over and couldn't help but shiver in anticipation when he saw the mischief and scheming look in Nie Huaisang’s eyes.
“Jiang Cheng, what do you think of Wen Guniang?” Nie Huaisang asked before Jiang Cheng sputtered in shock.
Nie Huaisang has long heard of the great doctor in Qishan Wen Sect. He had a few conversations with her but nothing too important that he forgot about it already. So, when he finally confronted her in this life, he was quite surprised by the guarded look on her face.
“Wen Guniang.” Nie Huaisang bow in greeting.
He had heard before from Jiang Cheng that he encountered Wei Wuxian talking to Wen Qing in the backhill. He wasn’t sure when, as it has been years since that conversation had happened but it looks like today is his luck. Wen Ruohan is really in a hurry to get more of the Yin Iron that he doesn't care he’s sending a literal child to look for it, huh?
As much as Wen Qing didn’t show it, Nie Huaisang, who have grown sensitive to people’s emotions, could feel the terror rolling in waves from Wen Qing. Wen Ruohan must’ve threatened her. She was strong and had merits within the clan and sect by being a doctor, so the threats wouldn’t work on her. Her only weakness is her brother, Wen Ning.
“Nie Er-Gongzi.” Wen Qing reticently greet Nie Huaisang,
“Looking for something in the backhill, Wen Guniang? Want me to help?” Nie Huaisang asked casually, waiting for Wen Qing to take the bait.
“I’m just casually strolling. The Cloud Recesses is a beautiful and peaceful place. It is nice to be here.” Wen Qing retorted, not rising to bait. She was much too smart for that.
“Oh? Qishan too suffocating?” Nie Huaisang questioned, innocently fanning himself while subtly scrutinising Wen Qing’s face. He saw tightness around the corner of her mouth and the slight furrow of her brows before it was smooth again. ’Interesting. Thinking of Qishan with such tension. Wen Ruohan definitely did something.’
“No, Nie Er-Gongzi. If you’ll excuse me.” Wen Qing swiftly denies Nie Huaisang’s words and quickly wants to retreat. ‘Why is Nie Huaisang being so nosy?’ Wen Qing thought, annoyed when her search was interrupted. She turned around to walk to the other side of the mountain before Nie Huaisang’s words stopped her.
“Wen Guniang, that thing you’re looking for is not here.” Nie Huaisang bluffed. Wen Qing felt something cold crawl from her spine to her neck. ‘What is he talking about? Did he know?’ Wen Qing thought. Panicked, she quickly pulled her needles from her sleeve and quickly shot it at Nie Huaisang, wanting to immobilise him and threatened him.
Nie Huaisang calmly deflected the needles with KeXiang and the needles embedded themselves into the tree, no longer seen. Surprise could clearly be seen on Wen Qing’s face.
“What do you want?” Wen Qing demanded, agitated and alarmed by Nie Huaisang’s skillful deflection.
Nie Huaisang activated a Silencing talismans that he swiftly fished out of his sleeve. The bubble cocoons both of them, startling Wen Qing who looked like she wanted to flee but steel her nerves when she saw Nie Huaisang unscathes.
“I want you to train Wen Ning to be the next leader of the Wen sect.” Nie Huaisang said frankly.
“Are you crazy? What do you mean a-Ning had to be the next leader?” Wen Qing retorted angrily, brows furrowed but somehow still managed to look elegant and unperturbed.
“Wen Ruohan threatened you with him.” Nie Huaisang said with a knowing look, shocking Wen Qing. Without waiting for her reply, he continues, “You are strong but your brother is weakened by the accident that happened during your youth. It is unsightly and deemed weak if women were to lead the sect but you still had your brother. If you train him and get rid of Wen Ruohan, Wen Xu and Wen Chao, you could finally stop the relentless killing spree he’s on. After all, you are a doctor and you have never killed anyone.”
Nie Huaisang subtly spit her words back to her in order to entice her with freedom.
Shocked and tempted, the no-nonsense front that Wen Qing always wears cracked. It is true that Wen Ruohan threatened her. It is true that if Wen Ruohan and his sons were ever to fall, the closest bloodline that could inherit the throne is Wen Qing and Wen Ning. And it is true that if a woman led a sect, they would be deemed weak. Look at Lan Yi’s reign and how many people were against it. No matter if she was a powerful cultivator or not, no matter if she created a new technique or not, as long as it's a ‘she’, the world would not support them for such a prominent position.
Still wanting to deny it, Wen Qing said, “No matter if I’m a woman or if Wen Ruohan threatens me, my job is not to go against him. I hope Nie Er-Gongzi will not cross his boundaries.”
However, Nie Huaisang already saw what Wen Qing wants in the minute-silence before she opens her mouth and denies what he said.
“You want freedom, Wen Qing. Freedom to live and to treat patients and to research medicine as you’d like. You want safety.” Nie Huaisang ascertained, KeXiang was in his right hand as he fans himself as he speaks. “I already have a plan for that.”
Startled, Wen Qing looked at him in disbelief. It’s not easy being Wen Ruohan’s niece and it’s not easy climbing to where she is now and that too, only at sixteen. More power means more protection for her and her brother. She couldn’t let her precious brother be tortured for her shortcomings.
“Can you promise my clan’s safety? Dafan Wen’s safety?” Wen Qing asked, feeling bold. Like it or not, to escape the clutches of Wen Ruohan, Wen Qing had to have help and this Nie Er-Gongzi looked like he had plans upon plans upon plans behind his major plans. Also, anyone that can calmly deflect her needles is to be respected by her. Many had fallen for it.
Nie Huaisang nodded in confirmation and Wen Qing breathed a sigh of relief. If Nie Er-Gongzi could help her, she, along with her brother and her clan could be saved. If Nie Er-Gongzi can’t help, her needles are abundant.
“Now that the serious talk is over, what are your opinions on Jiang Cheng?” Nie Huaisang asked, once again meddling in people’s love life.
Wen Qing’s cheeks coloured almost as red as her robes and Nie Huaisang smugly grinned.
Wen Qing: I don’t know what you’re talking about *blushes*
Jiang Cheng: I don’t know what you’re talking about *hands clenching on Sandu*
Nie Huaisang: Ahem
How was it? I think the writing is a bit rushed and shorter than before but it is what it is. Also, mini-theatres!!
Tell me how was it on the comments. (shamelessly asking you to comment hehe)
p.s: guniang is young lady, btw. like xiaojie. just in case you don't know.
Chapter 17: Breaking off the Engagement
Nie Huaisang plans, some issues arises, some issues was quickly settled and things were calm for a moment. Then shit happens again and some things were revealed.
Also, Lan Xichen got Nie Huaisang's attention! And someone got jealous and someone unknowingly feed the flame and someone accidentally became the cause of jealousy.
The breaking off of the engagement isn't the only main thing that happens.
Multiple releases in these two weeks, who dis? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA
Anyway, here's another chapter for you guys because it's my b'day today (3rd oct) huhuhuhu so, I'm just excited to share this chap with you guys. I'm on the way to write chap 20 till 23 so I can release it earlier because I won't have time after the 16th of this month until February next year because theses. So... enjoy!
p.s: if you could guess who those 'someone' is, comment down below!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It has been a few months since the lesson at the Cloud Recesses started and the Discussion Conference held by Qishan Wen is finally here. Nie Huaisang might have learnt all these lessons and known them from experience but that doesn't mean he liked doing homework. With the Discussion Conference going on, Lan Qiren can’t conduct the lessons, hence all students were exempted until the conference was over.
Nie Huaisang reminded Lan Qiren that although they had known what the Wen Sect was already planning for all sects, he still had to act clueless so as to not attract more attention. The old Master had nodded and departed with a few trusted disciples to Qishan and a few protective talismans given by Nie Huaisang. Nie Huaisang breathe a sigh of relief and was a bit more free with his time.
Unexpectedly, during one fine morning, he was pulled by Wei Wuxian to the front gate of the Cloud Recesses, Jiang Cheng in tow, and came face to face with the Twin Jades of Lan in Night Hunt clothes. His eyebrows involuntarily rise up in surprise.
He thinks he knows what’s happening.
It might be the Waterborne Abyss problem that had taken years for Gusu Lan to fix. However, he’s useless to help though. He can’t swim (yes, all that training and the simplest way to kill Nie Huaisang is by drowning him) and he can’t determine how to help (that’s a lie but who’s gonna call him out?). Although, he learnt of a shortcut in the other life (he called himself out). With time to spare and knowledge at hand, he decides to follow.
“Lan Gongzi, Lan Er-Gongzi, I suggest that fewer people follow this Night Hunt. Bad things are coming up ahead.” Nie Huaisang reminded them ominously, eyes glazed over as he recalled the things he stuffed into his qiankun pouch, KeXiang in his unmoving hand.
The Twin Jades and the Twin Prides looked at each other and then amongst themselves and then looked at the distracted Nie Huaisang and agreed to it. Knowingly or unknowingly, these people trusted Nie Huaisang with anything he said because he had that special aura that made people trust and listen to him.
The only reason Nie Huaisang made it all sounds more ominous than it is is because the fewer people know of his ability, the better. Much better if only the four heirs knew of this. After all, he can’t silence any of them.
In the end, only the five of them went to inspect the lake, Nie Huaisang already knows what happens from all the talks and spying he made and the other four are being way too apprehensive. Once they arrived at Biling Lake, all of them, except Nie Huaisang, asked the locals about the happenings at Biling Lake.
Nie Huaisang already knew so he only stood on the dock and watched the scenery with a calm face as he fans himself slowly with KeXiang. Head’s busy on how to use the Summoning talismans he had modified from one of Wei Wuxian’s many chicken scratch transcripts.
It is to such beautiful scenery that Lan Xichen found Nie Huaisang that he could feel his heartbeat speed up twice its normal speed. To see one’s sweetheart is a blessing. Moreover, with the white Gusu Lan attire that Nie Huaisang wore, it made him almost glow and complement the picturesque background. Lan Xichen felt happy just by looking at Nie Huaisang.
For a moment, he stood there, just observing Nie Huaisang and the contour of his relaxed and open face. He hasn't seen that kind of expression ever since that one fateful day. After the nightmare, Nie Huaisang had only regarded him with coldness and indifference. Only after he realised his feelings does the pain intensify when Nie Huaisang ignores him.
Absent-mindedly, he put his hand on his chest and felt his rapid heartbeat underneath his palm. Not long after, he felt a presence by his side. Lan Xichen looked over and saw Lan Wangji by his side, eyeing him subtly with jests in his eyes and the corner of his mouth slightly turned upwards when he, too, noticed Nie Huaisang standing on the dock. Lan Xichen huffed through his nose in amusement and walked towards where Nie Huaisang was standing, already hearing Wei Wuxian’s chattering Jiang Cheng’s ears away.
It looks like Nie Huaisang also noticed Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng, as well as Lan Xichen and Lan Wangji, already finished inquiring the locals, so he started to negotiate with the boat owner.
The boat owner gives such a high price to rent his boat (ten taels per boat for one trip) but Nie Huaisang knows why. Once they’re in the middle of the lake, not even a piece of wood will be spared. In the end, Nie Huaisang gives the man twenty taels to buy five boats and that shuts the man up.
In a year, the most that a boat owner could make was six taels by taking people and renting the boat out, not including the repair and maintenance costs. Now, with the case of drowning people, it also made all the boat owners wary of renting out their boat. Now, such a generous Gongzi paid him three years worth of money and hard work for his old boat, he could build more boats and pay for his daughter’s marriage. He couldn’t help but sweeten his lips when he gave the boat’s rope to the delicate-looking Gongzi.
“Thank you, Gongzi. You not only look handsome but are also generous and kind. Hope you have a long and prosperous life.”
Nie Huaisang looked at the boat owner with barely concealed humour behind his eyes and ridicule at the tip of his tongue. However, he held his tongue and smiled at the boat owner. Only those wishing to curry more favour will pay lip service such as this boat owner. Just because Nie Huaisang looked a little delicate and gullible, doesn’t mean he didn’t know that the boat owner is looking for more tips for his compliments. Nie Huaisang haggled with a lot of merchants in Qinghe during his youth to know how to read merchants.
Nie Huaisang's smile made the smile on the boat owner’s lips stiffen and turned to uncertainty.
Ignoring the boat owner, he looked at his arriving companion and handed each of them a rope. With one final sentence, he steps into his boat and sits down comfortably.
“Take care and watch out for the shadows in the water.”
Just as he expected, it is the Waterborne Abyss. Lan Wangji’s boat had already been ruined and the man himself was now sharing boats with Wei Wuxian. Nie Huaisang, who was sitting leisurely in his boat, looked at the scene calmly, ignoring the loudness of Wei Wuxian’s words, the chiding of Jiang Cheng and the worried eyes of Lan Xichen on him. It is not the middle of the lake yet and they aren’t swirling from the whirlpool of the real ‘water ghost’ yet. Nie Huaisang could still relax, fanning himself with KeXiang and reciting Buddhist scriptures in his heart just because he was that bored.
When he already felt his boat swirling, he swiftly put his fan into his sleeves and fish out Aituan and mounted it, gesturing to the others to do the same when they looked at him questioningly. They mounted their swords without complaint anyway. Wei Wuxian had already figured that water ghosts had already started to pull down Lan Wangji’s boat little by little while they were being led towards the deepest part of the lake. He should also realise by now that it is the ‘mother’ of all the water ghosts in Biling Lake.
“Wei-Xiong. Jiang-Xiong. You recognise anything?” Nie Huaisang asked the Twin Prides. Coming from Yunmeng and surrounded by lakes, these two have handled a lot more water ghost cases since they were young than the Twin Jades.
Lan Xichen’s Night Hunts usually consists of ‘yao’ hunting and the usual hauntings. Lan Wangji is only released to conduct his own night-hunt at the start of the term based on Nie Huaisang’s recommendation. Not that the Second Jade aren’t capable, Lan Qiren’s just being an anxious uncle.
Lan Wangji had been to night hunts with his own peers and a few seniors before (based completely on the words of Lan Xichen while he was drunk) and all of them are successful but Lan Wangji preferred to stay in the Cloud Recesses and read more on music theories and Buddhist scriptures and conduct his duty as the Head of Discipline rather than going out and making friends. He will go out and help but he didn’t actively seek the news.
So, now is the right time for them to learn and expand their knowledge. All five of them fly to the shore of the lake to dismount from their weapons and talk.
“Yeah. It's way too dark for it to be a normal water ghost. So, this must be a Waterborne Abyss. It feeds on living humans as its sacrifice and will start to make trouble if they don't have any.” Wei Wuxian said, making Nie Huaisang nod in agreement and the Twin Jades nod their head at this new piece of knowledge.
“It is also difficult to get rid of one. We usually deal with tiny water ghosts back home and that could take a few days to track and eliminate. This one could take years to get rid of. Not even ‘elimination’ might work.” Jiang Cheng added, looking at the whirlpool of water that had already destroyed their boats the moment the monsters realised there’s no more humans on it in anguish.
“Correct. Now, I'm going to teach you how to get rid of it efficiently without taking years.” Nie Huaisang said as he casually pulled out a yellow talisman and showed it to the four of them when they got close to inspect the writings on the piece of paper.
“This is a Spirit Summoning talismans!” Wei Wuxian exclaimed in excitement when he scrutinised every character. “I have been trying to invent one for weeks. Turns out, someone had already invented it.” Wei Wuxian looked at it with interest, fingers tracing every character to memorise them.
Nie Huaisang looked at Wei Wuxian with his guilt barely concealed. In fact, Wei Wuxian had created the first ever Spirit Summoning talismans and Nie Huaisang only changed and added a few characters to make the Spirit Summoning a large scale. Nie Huaisang can’t just go, ‘Yeah, you’re the one that created them and I am shamefully using it in place of yours because you have never thought of using it this way.’ That felt sacrilegious.
“Yours probably uses the character ‘zhao’ while I used ‘zhaokai’. Yours can be used on a small scale while I changed the character so it could cover more range. Yours are not inferior and mine are not superior. Both have their own uses.” Nie Huaisang reminds Wei Wuxian. He knew Wei Wuxian enough to know that the youth would feel inferior towards others which somehow would always be linked back to his birth which Nie Huaisang knows is tied to his upbringing in the Jiang sect and Yu Furen’s harsh words.
Wei Wuxian looked at Nie Huaisang with awe and something akin to worship. Wei Wuxian never met anyone who is interested in creating and innovating talismans before. Moreover, Nie Huaisang also knows what he had already invented, which, suspicious, but also, brilliant!
“Now, I have about ten of these.” Nie Huaisang pulled all the yellow talismans out and sorted them. “All of us must cast and drop this along the body of water at the same time. One person will have two.” Nie Huaisang handed the yellow talismans to each individual.
“Channel your spiritual energy into it to activate then drop it into the water as soon as it is activated. I will whistle as a sign to start. It must be in succession so as to make sure that we attack the Waterborne Abyss enough to make it weak before I use this talisman to get rid of it.” Nie Huaisang showed the Soul Crushing talismans briefly to all of them, in fear that they might think him a monster for having it. Making Wei Wuxian cry out in frustration for not having the chance to study it properly. Nie Huaisang blocks Wei Wuxian’s attempt at trying to reach for it.
“I will be at the centre of it, since it is the most concentrated.” Accepting no rejection from anybody since he is the only one that knows how to get rid of it immediately right now. “Lan Wangji can go to the East,” Lan Wangji complies with the order when Nie Huaisang unconsciously uses his ‘Sect Leader’ voice. “Wei Wuxian to the West,” said individual only nodded reluctantly. “Jiang Cheng to the north,” a firm nod which made Nie Huaisang relieved. “Lan Gongzi, can you accompany me in the middle? I might need help after I use the last talismans.” Unconsciously, Nie Huaisang still felt that Lan Xichen is who he trusts his life with the most.
Nie Huaisang knows that a lot of spiritual energy will be needed for the Soul Crushing talisman and he’ll need Lan Xichen to catch him, lest he fall into the lake and drown.
Lan Xichen's heart almost bursts out of his chest. Nie Huaisang specifically asked Lan Xichen to accompany him in the middle. Not only does Nie Huaisang’s tone trigger his desire (which made him feel like a visit to the Cold Spring is waaaaay overdue) but Nie Huaisang had asked him to help!
Today is the best day ever!
Lan Xichen could feel the weight of his brother’s gaze on him, waiting to subtly tease him but Lan Xichen only had eyes for Nie Huaisang right now. Before he forgot because of his excitement, he nodded his head in acceptance. Nie Huaisang nodded his head in acknowledgement.
“Alright. I will have Lan Gongzi with me as support. I also need him to play Glacier just in case I miss a few spirits.” Nie Huaisang both commanded and informed all of them of the plan. “Remember, I will whistle before we start. To make it easier, count to three after I whistle and start activating the talismans and drop it immediately. Once the first talismans burns out, you must immediately activate the second one.” Nie Huaisang reminded them again.
There’s actually no need for the activation to be in succession because once the spirit was touched by the talismans, they’ll feel the burn and discomfort anyway but having it done simultaneously gave them the advantage to attack the ‘mother’ of the Waterborne Abyss as it is struggling to defend all areas and will shrink to where it is most dense.
Spirit Summoning talismans both burn and reconvene the spirits to where it is most populated. So, the middle of the lake is exactly where it is most populated because that’s where the ‘mother’ was and it is also dense with unrest spirits that died from being drowned by the Waterborne Abyss. It is also attracted to high-cultivation cultivators and not the opposite (as normal to usual Spirit Summoning talismans and flags because Nie Huaisang had done a few modifications to it), so he and Lan Xichen combined could suppress the three others.
With a quick nod, Nie Huaisang mounts Aituan and zoomed to the middle of the lake. He heard the others do the same and get in their position. Nie Huaisang observes Jiang Cheng, Lan Wangji, Wei Wuxian and Lan Xichen. Once he is sure they are ready, with a yellow talismans in his left hand, he uses his right hand to whistle. The sound echoes through the area and it stirs the Waterborne Abyss below.
Nie Huaisang counted to three and he activated the talismans while he saw the others do the same. He drops the activated talismans and watches as the water ghosts writhe.
Nie Huaisang immediately activates and drops the second talisman when he sees that the first are almost burned through. He saw the others do the same. He’s glad they adhere to his orders.
When the second one finally burns through and Nie Huaisang sees that the spirits are all concentrated in the middle, with an extended hand, he immediately channels his spiritual energy into the Soul Crushing talismans. It glows blue as Nie Huaisang powered up the talismans. When it is activated, Nie Huaisang still needs to transfer his spiritual energy so it can continuously burn and get rid of all the spirits.
The lake’s surroundings were foggy but the others could see a bright blue light coming from the centre of the lake, to which they immediately deduce that it was coming from Nie Huaisang. They’re all an heir to a sect who provides good education. They knew what it meant when a person’s spiritual energy was that blue.
It means that Nie Huaisang is powerful. Powerful enough to get rid of an infected massive body of water that develops its own twisted personality and would’ve taken them years to cleanse if it wasn’t for what he’s doing right now.
None of them are idiots.
They immediately understand why Nie Huaisang didn’t want to bring more people the moment he handed over the Spirit Summoning talismans and it's not because he ran out of the talismans but because they could guess that it would take tremendous effort to get rid of the Waterborne Abyss. Why he didn’t want anybody to know is beyond them. But they all have an understanding of Nie Huaisang’s character by now. If he wants to tell, he’ll tell, if he wants to help, he’ll help and if he wants to hide, he’ll hide. So, all the heirs can’t help but think that they’ll help Nie Huaisang keep this secret.
Nie Huaisang begins to feel exhausted from feeding his spiritual energy to the talismans. He could feel his spiritual energy burning the spirits and grinding their souls to nothingness. This is the first time that he used this talismans exclusively and if this was how he’s feeling when he crushed a meaningless spirit (exhilarated), he wonders what he’ll feel if it was Jin Guangyao he was destroying.
After a stick of incense time, Nie Huaisang could feel the last of the spirits being destroyed and only then does he feel his body aching. With the last wisp of his spiritual energy transferred into the talismans, it serves as a destroyer of the talismans so that no one can study and spread it, and the talismans shatters with a bright white light, lighting the area like a daylight, nearly blinding the other four heir including himself who didn’t know that could happen, before it goes foggy again. Nie Huaisang felt dizzy from draining half of his core and he suddenly felt strong arms on his shoulders. Instincts told him to attack but luckily, he remembered that he had asked Lan Xichen to accompany him.
He heard the others flying towards them but Nie Huaisang was too tired to think and care if they saw Lan Xichen embrace him and maintain his energy transfer to Aituan to keep it powered so he didn’t dive head first to his death. Silence reigned as Nie Huaisang rested in Lan Xichen’s arms and tried to regain his strength.
He still needed Lan Xichen to play Glacier so they couldn’t move from the middle of the lake yet.
After a stick of incense, Nie Huaisang finally felt like he could stand straight on Aituan again. He pulled himself from Lan Xichen’s embrace and tidied up himself, ignoring others’ looks of palpable worry.
“I’m fine.” He assured the youths with a small smile. He then looked at Lan Xichen, who had awe, pride, delight and a hidden distress and worry written all over his face. Nie Huaisang’s heart beats painfully in his chest, reminding himself that he still has a lot to do before he can think of anything else like romance.
“Lan Gongzi, Glacier please.” Nie Huaisang commanded softly. Exhaustion colouring his tone but there’s satisfaction there that can be heard out of Nie Huaisang’s mouth. Satisfaction and triumph.
With the last note from Glacier still ringing in the air, Nie Huaisang quickly returned to the Cloud Recesses while he still could. He could feel his golden core working to replenish themselves already but he can’t help feeling the exhaustion to the depth of his bones.
With that, the Waterborne Abyss was dealt with and Nie Huaisang slept soundly in his quarters that night.
After the case of the Waterborne Abyss, both Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng suddenly seemed very invested and helpful in a way that creeps Nie Huaisang. Helpful as in helping with the chore, giving expensive and delicious snacks and giving notes to ‘learn’ from. Unbeknownst to them, these lessons are already dealt with enough. Even if Nie Huaisang didn’t study, he already had a cheat sheet in his mind.
He appreciates it but doesn’t mean he’s comfortable.
The Twin Jades of Lan are also doing something weird. They’re turning a blind eye to whatever rules he broke. Which, yes, advantage, but it’s Lan Wangji! Nie Huaisang knows that towards the later part of his life, as an influence from Wei Wuxian, that untamed soul, Lan Wangji did develop a bad habit of turning a blind eye towards whatever rules were broken by Wei Wuxian and the juniors but this is worrisome. To the point where Nie Huaisang wants to check if Lan Wangji was possessed.
Don’t even let Nie Huaisang start on Lan Xichen. He received multiple invites for a walk, a few offers to help him ‘study’ something he already knows, several painting sessions were also offered. Nie Huaisang is exhausted.
Now, not to say that he’s not grateful and didn’t appreciate the efforts because he is but the thing is, he doesn’t understand why they suddenly change like this! Did he do something? Why are they suddenly so nice? Is this where the other shoe drops? Nie Huaisang still had numerous unmoved plans.
What is this?
Nie Huaisang was thrown into disarray but the perpetrators didn’t feel like they’re doing anything wrong.
At the end of the week, Nie Huaisang summoned them and asked what they were doing. Their simple and united answer was, “You are amazing and should have nice things.”
To which Nie Huaisang jerked his head at the answer and firmly told them to stop because it’s creeping him out. They all didn’t pout, but it’s a near thing.
(They didn’t stop but they did tone it down.)
Not long after, Nie Huaisang got wind that Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian managed to retrieve the broken Yin Iron inside of the Cold Pond cave without reenacting the time where they got drunk together and were punished by the Discipline Whip. The latter had been sneaking around the Cloud Recesses and managed to find the former in the Cold Spring. In a moment of impulse, Wei Wuxian managed to tease Lan Wangji and both had been dragged by the undercurrent of the river into the Cold Pond cave, where they met Lan Yi, one of the famous Sect Leader of Gusu Lan.
If memories serve him right, Nie Huaisang thought that this is when they got married. Eloped, more like. Wei Wuxian may not know it, but he does talk when he sleeps. Phrases like, “Lan Zhan, your forehead ribbon! Give me it!” didn’t exactly leave much to the imagination. Especially when Wei Wuxian smile that stupid victorious smile. Jiang Cheng also sometimes muttered and answered questions when he was half-asleep.
Jiang Cheng told him (half-asleep mind you) that he saw Wei Wuxian and a bare-forehead Lan Wangji fall on each other with that said forehead ribbon wrapped around their forearms while he was looking for them in the other life and that it creeps him out to see a Lan without one. Nie Huaisang is not an idiot, he could see the bigger picture.
In the other life, the three of them (Jiang Cheng, Wei Wuxian and Nie Huaisang) often roomed together because Nie Huaisang got lonely. So, Nie Huaisang had a lot of dirt on them.
Nie Huaisang had reminded Lan Qiren that Lan Wangji is strong enough to handle the search as the youth is also the one that discovered a lot of things later and it is also good for his cultivation to learn more. Lan Qiren hesitated yet couldn't help but comply because he knew Nie Huaisang was right. He can’t always shelter Lan Wangji, so it is better to let him experience life early.
With that arrangement in place, Nie Huaisang only had to wait for the Lantern festival to come for his next plan to come together.
Nie Huaisang looked at his lantern and wished he could burn it. He had floated many lanterns in the other life and wished for a lot of things but none of them was ever fulfilled. He sighed blankly and looked at the other guest disciples, happily making their lanterns in the clearing and laughing with each other. Meanwhile, he could feel the pin prick feeling of someone watching him.
He looked around casually before finally being able to pinpoint the person that was spying on him.
It was Lan Xichen. Which wasn't surprising but what surprised him was the intense way he was looking at Nie Huaisang. Like Nie Huaisang was a puzzle that he wanted to solve. Nie Huaisang’s left eyebrow twitched in annoyance but he turned around again and let the First Jade look to his heart’s desire. He wasn’t opposed to being watched. His vain and insecure self still liked being the centre of Lan Xichen’s attention.
His eyes roamed around and he saw Wen Qing making her lantern not far from where Jiang Cheng was also kneeling and stealing glances at her. Nie Huaisang sighs again at that because Jiang Cheng needs to grow a pair and ask her out already. Nie Huaisang had been a witness of a dejected Jiang Cheng in the other life when his proposal had been rejected. Jiang Cheng didn’t wail and throw a temper tantrum but it was a close thing.
He also saw Jiang Yanli kneeling beside a cold soon-to-be-ex fiance, Jin Zixuan. Nie Huaisang had secretly asked Jiang Yanli what she thought of the marriage arrangement and though she only said “duty”, she couldn’t conceal her pained and disappointed expression. It is only then that Nie Huaisang understands. Jiang Yanli begins to fall for Jin Zixuan during the Sunshot Campaign and not before. Not while she’s still in the repudiated agreement but after it was broken.
Hmmm. It brought a lot of things into perspective.
Like, what made her fall for Jin Zixuan then? How to help her and Jin Zixuan develop good feelings for each other? Is it good to let her be trapped in Jinlintai? What about Jin Ling? That kid is good and was the lifeblood of Jiang Cheng before. What if they don’t come together in this life? Ughhh so many things to think of!
He didn’t want to play god but maybe he’ll ask Liu Nian Zhen later about this then (cause that man is a literal god!).
Right now, his mission is to break them off.
He heard Wei Wuxian exclaim in surprise and swiftly sweep his lantern out of the way. In the other life, his expensive and rare lantern had been burned to death before he could light it up, so he was especially careful with this one.
“Wei-Xiong, be careful lest you burn other people's lanterns.” Nie Huaisang gently rebukes Wei Wuxian for his careless manner.
This is the only thing that he can’t wrap his head around. Wei Wuxian is so careless but in his carelessness, there is also thoughtfulness and attentiveness. It was weird. But Nie Huaisang guessed, that’s just Wei Wuxian, the genius of their generation.
Wei Wuxian makes an effort to show his regret but Nie Huaisang just dismisses it and others also lose interest in seeing the commotion dwindling down.
He looked at where Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian were crafting and saw a lantern with a rabbit on it and thought, ‘There’s no way Wangji would paint that.’
And his guess was proved right when he commented casually, “Cute lantern you got there, Lan Er-Gongzi.”
Lan Wangji’s ears immediately went red and Wei Wuxian looked at the silent communication between Nie Huaisang and Lan Wangji with confusion before declaring cheekily, “Of course it’s cute! I made it for him. How is it? Does it suit Lan Zhan or not?”
Nie Huaisang can’t help but laugh at that and if Lan Wangji could blush using his face, he would probably be a tomato. As of right now, his ears are almost as red as Wen Qing’s robe.
Not long after, the auspicious time comes and they all burn their lanterns and release them into the air. The disciples had a moment of betting on who’s lanterns were the highest but after a moment, the atmosphere grew solemn as they all clasp their hands together and begin to pray.
He heard Wei Wuxian’s wish was still the same and although a bit faint, Wen Qing’s are also the same. His wish won’t be the same because he knows he’ll be able to ace the test and examinations. What he wants this year is to be able to have everything go smoothly according to plans and let whatever obstacles happen in the future be easier to endure.
Jin Zixun is Jin Zixuan’s hateful and annoying cousin. Although just a cousin, Jin Guangshan still favours this cousin more than his own son simply because he hates and fears Jin Furen. For such a hateful person, it is best if they were used to help his plan move forward.
Just a few sticks of incense went by but there was already a commotion on the road to go back to the dining hall from the clearing where they all released their lanterns. Nie Huaisang sighs quietly at the noise disturbance but knows that this was originally his plan.
“..was unworthy anyway. It is better to let go than to embarrass oneself by hanging on to a marriage proposal that was made when you were an infant.” Nie Huaisang heard Jin Zixun mocking voice as soon as he was close to the gathered group. He hides behind a tall and thick tree just a few zhang away from them, close enough to hear and see but far enough to admit innocence when questioned.
“What did you say? Who embarrasses who? Who are you? Are you worthy to talk to me?” He heard Wei Wuxian insult Jin Zixun. It was always funny when Wei Wuxian did it like this. Infuriates others while being clueless because he could care less about a person’s identity when that person is insulting his shijie.
“How dare you? Don’t you know who I am?” Jin Zixun ire could be heard as he tried to recover his lost face when the other party didn’t recognise him.
“Didn’t I say I don't know you? What are you? Stupid? Deaf?” Wei Wuxian retorted, annoyance colouring his voice. He was still angry at Jin Zixuan for being quiet while his cousin was bashing his shijie’s reputation.
“You?! Don’t you have anything to say? Do you think you are worthy of being in the same space as my shijie? Huh?” Wei Wuxian questions Jin Zixuan with raised voices, completely ignoring the irate Jin Zixun at the side who’s sputtering in indignance.
Jin Zixuan just looked at Wei Wuxian with barely concealed disgust on his face but he didn’t say anything. If he wanted everything to go to plan, he had to let his cousin hit Wei Wuxian first.
“Do you think your shijie is worthy of A-Xuan? A-Xuan is the next Sect Leader of Jin Sect. He had many merits under his name. What does your shijie have, huh?” Jin Zixun shoots mockingly at Wei Wuxian, clearly wanting to throw dirty water at Jiang Yanli’s mediocre reputation.
Jiang Cheng restrains the furious Wei Wuxian even though he’s also holding back his anger. He knew the in and out of the plan but he couldn't help but be furious at what Jin Zixun said. If he could punch him without severing ties between sects and avoid his mother’s harsh words, he would’ve done it.
“Who are you? Do you have any merits to your name? Are you the sect heir? You only know how to cling to your cousin to stay relevant and accepted but even then, you’re not even likeable. Your personality is shit as well as your manner. Do you think you could talk shit about my shijie when you’re not even half as good as her?” Wei Wuxian shoots his mouth again, completely angered at the way this fucking asshole continuosly insults his shijie.
Nie Huaisang loves it when Wei Wuxian scolds others. He not only insults their entire self but also brings down their face and smash it to the ground and splash that smashed face with dirt.
Completely blinded by his anger at being insulted by someone he considered lower in station, Jin Zixun unrestrainedly punched Wei Wuxian in the face.
“Who do you think you are? You’re just the son of a servant. Do you think you have the right to talk to me?” Jin Zixun shouts, completely forgetting his surroundings and resorting to using his fists to shut the other person up.
Wei Wuxian sputtered in shock as he wasn’t even planning on punching the nobody from the Jin Sect. Jiang Cheng immediately pulled Wei Wuxian back before he could reciprocate the punch because he knows Wei Wuxian’s character. If someone’s kind to him, he’ll be kind to them and if someone hits him, he’ll hit back just as hard, if not more.
Jin Zixuan also immediately restrained his cousin after the first punch was thrown. He thanked his cousin silently for being a brash jerk that has no brain and completed his goal and he also thanked Wei Wuxian for punching Jin Zixun’s exact sore spot with his insults.
A few more insults were exchanged with both Wei Wuxian and Jin Zixun struggling against their holder before Lan Xichen came after he was informed by a panicked (but still composed) Lan disciple about the brawl and both Jin Zixun and Wei Wuxian were reprimanded.
Nie Huaisang hides a smile behind KeXiang and silently walks away like he wasn’t even there.
Nie Huaisang heard that Jin Zixun was reprimanded and was asked to pack his bags and go back to Jinlintai because Gusu Lan had strict rules against fighting without permission. Wei Wuxian, Jiang Cheng, and Jin Zixuan were reprimanded and punished after they explained that Jin Zixun was the first to throw the punch and Wei Wuxian didn’t even reciprocate (not that he had time). Then, Jin and Jiang Zongzhu were called.
After that, the marriage proposal between the two sects was officially broken and Jin Zixuan and Jiang Yanli are now free individuals. The news was quickly spread and both Jiang Cheng and Jin Zixuan thanked Nie Huaisang separately.
Nie Huaisang thinks that those two could be friends if there wasn’t any of this stupid arranged marriage thing because both of them knows the value of loyalty and compassion when they see it. Jin Zixuan also displays rarely seen good qualities despite growing up in Jinlintai and surrounded by snakes and vipers. Unfortunately, it would probably take years before that could happen.
Nie Huaisang wished them good luck on their separate journey and to study hard.
With the broken engagement news circulating around the Cloud Recesses (and Jianghu), Nie Huaisang smiled and slept soundly that night, having finished his first mission.
Next one? Jiang Cheng and Wen Qing!
Wei Wuxian looked serious when he sought him out today to use the Yashi for discussion, so Lan Xichen had given his permission to use the room. Wei Wuxian gathered Lan Wangji, Lan Xichen and his shidi in the Yashi under the pretext that he wanted to discuss something with them without causing suspicions.
Both Twin Jades and Jiang Cheng look amongst themselves as they are served tea by Lan Xichen and they wait for Wei Wuxian to collect his thoughts.
Wei Wuxian brought out two talismans from his chest lapel and put them on the table. Lan Wangji, Lan Xichen and Jiang Cheng could clearly see that it was the same as the Spirit Summoning talismans that Nie Huaisang had shown them.
“So, sorry for this abrupt meeting but I had just finished copying and writing down what I remembered from Nie-Xiong’s Spirit Summoning talismans the other day to see if I could learn more from it. I found out that he indeed used ‘zhaokai’ for his talismans. I used ‘zhao’ , which could gather a small number of spirits while ‘zhaokai’ could gather a large number of spirits together and concentrate them in one place. But what I later found out is even more shocking,” he paused, looking for that dramatic effect.
“What is it? Be quick about it! Don’t hang us to dry!” Jiang Cheng impatiently claimed, both hands on the table, looking at Wei Wuxian’s face with furrowed brows.
“Be patient, Jiang Cheng. Did you see both Lan Gongzi and Lan Er-Gongzi being anxious like you?” Wei Wuxian teases, still trying to lighten the mood despite what he found Nie Huaisang had done.
Jiang Cheng just gives him an unimpressed look. Wei Wuxian giggles and rearranges the talismans on the table. The one with the ‘zhao’ was on the right while the one that he wrote of Nie Huaisang’s on the left.
“My talismans are the standard, basic ones. Which means it could be used even by cultivators who just had their core formed.” Wei Wuxian explained while pointing at his talismans. The three other occupant listened with uninterrupted focus and noticed that Nie Huaisang’s talismans did look more complicated.
“The one that Nie-Xiong used is intricate and modified. We already know about the ‘zhaokai’ but he also changed three other characters and added an extra character in his talismans.” he paused, voice full of astonishment and admiration. “Do you have a brush?” Wei Wuxian asked, looking at Lan Wangji, who immediately opened a compartment under the table and gave Wei Wuxian a brush and the already grinded ink.
“Do you see this?” Wei Wuxian circled a character. It was ‘jingshen’. “ ‘Gui’ was replaced with ‘jingshen’ which called upon many spirits, strong and weak alike, and was much more powerful than using ‘gui’ which can only attract weak spirits.” Wei Wuxian explained, leaving the other three in awe and confusion.
Between all of them, only Wei Wuxian can understand these things much better. Not to say they can’t understand it but Wei Wuxian had a way with creating talismans so, they all trusted Wei Wuxian’s judgement. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have questions.
“What is the difference? ‘Gui’ and ‘jingshen’ are both spirits.” Jiang Cheng questions, confusion on his face.
“‘Gui’ is usually used for female ghosts and when used on talismans, it wasn’t that strong because female ghosts were considered weak. ‘Jingshen’ on the other hand, means many spirits, which do not adhere to any standard and will call upon all kinds of spirits in the area. That’s why ‘jingshen’ is much better than ‘gui’ even though essentially, it’s the same.” Wei Wuxian explained clearly, hoping that Jiang Cheng and the others could understand the significance of the change.
All of them nodded their heads in understanding. Wei Wuxian sighs in relief. It’s so good to talk to people that have brains.
“Now this,” Wei Wuxian circles the character ‘zhaoshou’. “This character replaces ‘xiyin’ which means attract. With ‘xiyin’ , the summoned spirit could still resist, meaning they could not come if the talismans were activated. ‘Zhaoshou’ on the other hand means beckon. Which means that the person that activated the talismans is commanding the spirits to come to them and they have no other choice but to come at the beck and call of the cultivator.” Wei Wuxian explains more in an excited voice, fingers trembling from the sheer brilliance of Nie Huaisang’s machination.
“How can the spirit ‘resist’ if ‘xiyin’ was used? Wasn’t it the same in essence with ‘zhaoshou’? Which is to call upon the spirit.” Lan Xichen asks, not understanding the difference. Except for the difference in characters, both characters generally mean the same.
“Aiya, Lan Gongzi. ‘Xiyin’ was truly inferior. On talismans paper, the more strokes a character has, means the more powerful the effect will be. ‘Xiyin’ has fewer strokes than ‘zhaoshou’ and is also a lot less meaningful.” Wei Wuxian tried to explain but seeing the confused face of the others, he tried to explain it in simpler terms.
After a moment of silence, Wei Wuxian let out an ‘aha’ and pulled out another yellow talismans from his lapel. He then began to explain using courting theory.
“Say, courting means you give gifts to your betrothed, right?” at the nod of the others, Wei Wuxian continued. “So, the more gifts you give means you are constantly reminded of them and know what they like and the less that you give means you are obliged to send those gifts to fulfil the requirements. It sends a different signal than the ones that gave more gifts, right?” Wei Wuxian painted two stick figures with circles to signify the courting gifts. The other three nodded their heads in understanding.
Of course they also have classes on nuptials in their respective sects. It sends a bit of colour to their cheek when they think about the prospect of marriage. They’re young but every youngsters thought about that one person for them even though it will not take place for a couple of years anyway.
“So,” Wei Wuxian’s voice shattered the images of them proposing to their respective crushes. “It is the same in talismans creation. The spirits can feel the kind of power and intention you have through what you wrote on the talismans paper.”
A chorus of ‘ah’ could be heard by the occupants of the room except for Lan Wangji who only blinked in understanding, enlightened in two different ways.
“Now, Nie-Xiong also changed one last thing.” Wei Wuxian put aside the talismans with stick figures and focused back on his findings. He brought the complex talismans and circled another character in the middle of the paper.
“He added ‘shao’ in place of ‘ji’ which means that he didn’t just have the intention to collect the spirits which is ‘ji’ but also to burn it which is ‘shao’.” Wei Wuxian gushes out in excitement and in his excitement, he also almost climbed onto the table if not for Jiang Cheng holding his waist down on reflex, which made Lan Wangji’s eyes look at the hands with a burning gaze.
“That’s why I thought it was weird that the Waterborne Abyss looked like it was writhing when I dropped the talismans in. It's because it has ‘shao’ on it!” Jiang Cheng exclaimed in shock. If they had this in Yunmeng, it would save a lot of time and energy to get rid of the water ghosts.
“Yeah, imagine if we had this back home!” Wei Wuxian exclaimed while throwing his hands up and held Jiang Cheng’s right shoulder instinctively, the writing brush on his right hand fortunately didn’t drip ink everywhere, unknowingly echoing Jiang Cheng’s thoughts.
“What is the last one?” Lan Wangji voiced out, cutting off their excitement with an undercurrent of jealousy. Lan Xichen, who could detect it, looked at Lan Wangji with mirth in his eyes. Lan Wangji ignored it but his ears burned in shame at his own actions.
“Aiya, be patient ah, Lan Zhan. I'm getting to it. I need to build up the suspense and anticipation.” Wei Wuxian gleefully replied, hands already holding the thin paper.
“Okay, so, you guys see this right?” Wei Wuxian circled a character in the complex talismans carefully and then brought the basic ones beside it for comparison. “The basic talismans, my talismans, don't have this character.”
The character was ‘qiangda’ which means powerful.
“Do you guys know what this means?” Wei Wuxian asked, looking at each of the heirs' faces. When he receives blank looks for his question, he sighs in disappointment.
“It means, we have to treat Nie-Xiong nicely and pamper him.” Wei Wuxian resolutely cried out.
“What? Why?” Jiang Cheng interjects, not understanding Wei Wuxian’s words.
“Jiang Cheng! Do you know what ‘qiangda’ will do in a talismans?” Wei Wuxian asked Jiang Cheng.
“I don’t study talismans making. How should I know?” Jiang Cheng replied with a scowl on his face. The Lan heirs just watch the exchange with interest, well one with interest and the other with envy.
“Usually, normal formations that we used on Night Hunts required strong cultivators and if there was one that was weaker, they would be attacked the most by the spirits because the spirits perceived them as the weak link, right?” Wei Wuxian explains feverishly, not understanding why the other three can’t understand but willing to explain for their lack of knowledge anyway.
“So, with ‘qiangda’, it commands the spirit to be attracted to the most powerful one. With ‘jingshen’ used, it means that a concentrated amount of spirit will reconvene in the middle of the lake and they were attracted to the most powerful cultivator among us that day.” Wei Wuxian punctuates on the words ‘middle of the lake’ as hints to the others but when he receives another round of blank looks, he lets out a frustrated groan.
“Do you know who was in the middle of that large chaos?” Wei Wuxian said exasperatedly, almost looking manic while trying to explain to the other three.
“Do you mean to say that Huaisang put his life in danger when he decided to be the one flying in the middle of the lake that day?” Lan Xichen asked with distress clear in his eyes and tone, looking at Wei Wuxian like he wants the lad to deny his words.
Without even uttering another word, Wei Wuxian nodded his head in confirmation and the other let out a shocked exhale. Jiang Cheng felt his body go rigid at that and Lan Wangji clenched his fists until his knuckles turned white. Lan Xichen closes his eyes in exasperation as he felt his own question almost made his heart stop working.
The four sat in silence as the three tried to process the meaning of Nie Huaisang’s action.
In the end, Lan Xichen only agreed with Wei Wuxian’s earlier statement.
“We should treat him with nice things.”
Author had something to say:
Lan Xichen: Wife, let me treat you to nice things!
Nie Huaisang: Um, no.
Lan Wangji: Must give Wei Ying nice things.
Wei Wuxian: *confused.jpeg*
Jiang Cheng: *throw up in disgust.jpeg*
How was it? I swear to god idk how to write those mini-theatres hahahahaha. Idek what this chapter is. Just want to show NHS’s power and give him nice things but he’s not comfortable with it so..
This is one of the longest chap I have ever written, 20 pages in gdocs. I was a bit shocked. Later chapters are a lot less than this, so, I hope this is satisfying enough. I wrote this in two days on July, so, I shocked even myself hahahahaha.
Thanks for the kudos and the comments. I really appreciate them and I appreciate you guys taking the time to read this long ass book that took even me by surprise.
Anyway, have a good day today!
p.s: I felt like I should give you a little warning (because I wrote some things that I'm afraid I couldn't express right), chapter 19 will be a little heart wrenching and I will have to add a few more tags so, yeah. just a warning or reminder for ya! Okay, go on with your day and thanks for reading this note.
Chapter 18: The Devil
A shocking and an uneasiness was quickly revealed to be the reason Nie Huaisang hate today. A little sweetness and a little resentment tangled in his heart about someone's visit. Well, three 'someones'. Also, not 'a little' resentment was felt.
Hi everyone!! Sorry for the very long delay (two months was it?) and Happy New Year even though it's been like, what? 8 days since then? Anyway, here's a little chapter and I hope you don't disdain them. I just finished chap 20, so I just had to push this chap out.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Once every month, Nie Mingjue would send a letter to Nie Huaisang and the content varies from asking how his studies are going on and how annoying Ouyang Zongzhu could be and he wished he could punch Yao Zongzhu’s face because that man can’t get to the point! Today, the content of the letter is a bit different.
Nie Huaisang clenches the letter tightly in his hands while he tries to calm down the surging hatred and anger in his heart.
‘Huaisang! Hejian was attacked just like you said it would. Luckily, we were prepared. Zonghui and the others had a little scratch here and there and I'm mostly unscathed. Also, guess what? I found a new attendant and he was very diligent. None of the attendants before is as meticulous as he is. He was bullied by the others in the sect and it was annoying the fuck out of me, so I decide to make his position higher than them. I’ll visit you later when I have time and I'll introduce you to him. I think he said his name is Meng Yao. Anyway, study hard!’
It’s been a year since he was reborn and this name still made his blood boil.
Nie Huaisang tries to calm his heart down. There’s no use in getting angry when this is just what he planned. Boiling the frog is a method of letting a person taste the sweetness of life without realising that they’re going down the path of their doom until it’s too late. Nie Huaisang planned to boil this devil slowly and let him get what he wanted before pulling the rug from under his feet.
Nie Huaisang blew out his breath loudly, trying to calm his anger. He fans the letter to cool down his face, hair fluttering around when attacked by the vicious wind. He put his left hand on his waist while he ranted in his head, pacing back and forth in his quarters.
‘He wanted to be recognised? He wanted to be accepted? He wanted to have power? Right? I’ll give him that. And then I will make sure he is cooked to death!’
Just as he was about to scold Nie Mingjue for being too close to the devil, despite he himself (Nie Huaisang this andropause man, forgetting his plan already) letting it be, the bell rang and he realised he was late to the lesson and that means copying the rules once. He groaned and grabbed his bag before he sprint-walked to the lecture hall, lest he get more punishment for running.
Lan Xichen received a letter from his best friend (Nie Mingjue, who else? His list of friends, except Nie Mingjue, are in the deficit.) asking if he could come and visit the Cloud Recesses for a few days and to please keep it quiet from his little brother because this is the first time he had ever visited Nie Huaisang while the boy (man) was studying and he wanted to surprise him with the newly developed rice paper that he bought for him.
Lan Xichen gave his affirmative via a letter and the two made plans to surprise Nie Huaisang.
Nie Mingjue and Nie Zonghui prepared a few jins (weighing units in ancient China and are also still in use now, I think? Around 500g/jin) of snacks and a few rolls of the expensive newly developed rice paper and a few sticks of coloured ink for Nie Huaisang.
“Zongzhu, all the things have been prepared.” Nie Zonghui reported after briskly walking into the office, hands clasped together in front of him as a gesture of greetings. Nie Mingjue hums in an indication that he heard it.
“Zonghui, ah. How many times have I told you to just call me by my name? Zongzhu is my father. I am younger than you!” Nie Mingjue exclaimed with jests in his tone as he looked at Nie Zonghui from his desk in the office, correspondence paper strewn in front of him.
“Zongzhu, you are a Sect Leader now. I have to give you the respect you deserve.” Nie Zonghui replied with a smile. Even though Nie Mingjue is indeed younger than him, respecting leaders had been ingrained in every disciple’s mind and behaviour ever since they started cultivating. Moreover, Nie Zonghui’s respect towards Nie Mingjue didn’t just come from the position he inherited but also from his achievements and attitude. If only more Sect Leaders were as just and as fair as Nie Mingjue, the Jianghu would be a lot more peaceful.
“Aiyaa. If I deserve your respect as Sect Leader, can’t I have your respect as a cousin and friend?” Nie Mingjue said grumpily, head bowed down again, pretending to read a correspondence.
“Then I have to respect you even more and cannot call you Mingjue. You have achieved a lot and even if you’re not the Sect Leader, I would still think of you as the leader.” Nie Zonghui appeases Nie Mingjue.
“Then why can’t you call me Mingjue?” Nie Mingjue grumbled. Nie Zonghui laughs through his nose in amusement. He knows Nie Mingjue will deny ever acting like a child if he was pointed out.
“When will we set out to Gusu?” Nie Zonghui diverted the subject, not wanting to go along that line of conversation anymore. They had discussed this many times before.
“Don’t think I didn’t know what you did there.” Nie Mingjue grumbled again but he perked up and resumed his Sect Leader self and said, “We will set out tomorrow morning. Make sure you also pack some herb sachets. God knows what wounds Huaisang will get when trying to catch birds and practising.”
“Okay, Zongzhu. Then, I will put everything in the Qiankun pouch and rest.” Nie Zonghui replied, hands already clasped out again in a clear gesture of asking for dismissal. Nie Mingjue waved his hand in consent and Nie Zonghui briskly walked out of the room.
Silence descended in the office after Nie Zonghui left. Nie Mingjue looked at the correspondence in front of him with a blank look. His mind wanders back to his little brother’s birthday celebration before he went for the second exchange.
Flashback (in case you were wondering)
“Da-ge, we have to invite these people, too.” Nie Huaisang handed him a list of names when he walked into the office without knocking.
“Who is it?” Nie Mingjue forgo the reprimand and asked him. He reached out for the list and read it silently.
“You know that Zhang Mu is a merchant, right?” Nie Mingjue questioned his little brother, eyes displaying his confusion and subconscious rejection. Merchants were considered lower than farmers and even lower than servants for their nature of lying when they did their business. They are rich, yes, but some achieved that through elaborate lies and schemes and raising the price when it is disadvantageous to the people. The Jianghu didn’t like these merchants even though they knew it was imperative that merchants exist in their territory.
“I know. I had dealings with him in the dream and we managed to come to terms with the business agreement. Don’t worry. He’s trustworthy.” Nie Huaisang said in response.
“Well, how about Zhen Zongzhu? His sect is small and they don’t cultivate with either sword nor sabre. They don’t even cultivate using musical instruments.” Nie Mingjue questions. He didn’t understand why Nie Huaisang wanted to invite these people for his birthday celebration.
“Zhen Zongzhu had been cultivating the body refinement art. Their disciples’ bodies can’t be pierced by weapons and we could exchange information with them to help strengthen our own disciples and help them gain more access to business agreement to enrich them. It’s a win-win situation.” Nie Huaisang explained, face casual and hand busy with KeXiang.
“Though we seemed to gain more than they do?” he contemplates after a while.
Nie Mingjue was speechless for a while. Then he sees another name.
“Why is Shen Jiangchen here?” Nie Mingjue questions him, displease could be heard in his words. Shen Jiangchen is the son of a fabric mogul, Shen Juncheng. Shen Jiangchen, coincidentally, had been the one to continuously make googly-eyes at his little brother whenever he went to town to go on his ‘shopping spree’.
“Shen Juncheng will go to the west and will make another fortune. Shen Jiangchen will inherit all those riches and develop a new kind of fabric called hemp fabric,” Nie Huaisang clarified. “It will be very popular amongst the commoners around the Jianghu and even commoners from the Imperial City will buy it because the fabric is durable and cheap.” Nie Huaisang elaborated.
“Merchants are indeed untrustworthy but believe me, this one is a winner.” Nie Huaisang comments when he saw Nie Mingjue’s face had a myriad of unpleasant emotions. The strongest is the unconscionable prejudice that had been inculcated in his brain by the elders and the majority of the world.
“They also had silk and good Moon brocade. It wasn’t as expensive if we managed to strike a deal with them.” Nie Huaisang goads Nie Mingjue, knowing how much his brother loves those two fabrics. Silk and Moon brocade are expensive but for a thriving sect like the Nie sect, it is still feasible. However, if you could get something for a lower price, why go for the expensive ones? Besides, Shen Jiangchen’s business is really one of the top ones in Jianghu without the discovery of hemp fabrics anyway. The benefits are mostly gained by them.
Nie Mingjue sucked in a deep breath and exhaled it loudly at the temptation of cheaper silk and brocade. He did love those. “As long as that asshole didn’t get handsy.” Nie Mingjue acquiesced. He knew how much Shen Jiangchen like Nie Huaisang. Even to the point of sending expensive paintings to Nie Huaisang.
Nie Huaisang smirked at that.
“That is if he had the courage and didn’t care to lose face.” Nie Huaisang promised.
With that, the others on the list had also been approved and the birthday celebration proceeded as usual.
End of flashback
Too much had changed in his little brother. His birthday celebrations used to be grand and many important guests were invited, even those that they had little to no contact with and those that bore animosity towards them would also be invited. In Nie Huaisang’s own words, “Well, we just have to show them that even though the Nie sect is full of cumbersome and towering disciples and this fortress looked like it would collapse after one battle, we have to remind them that this sect is not so rundown, our walls are still standing and our disciples are strong so they wouldn’t mess with us and we would get more business agreements with them.”
Even as young as he was, he still tried to help Nie Mingjue in making the Nie sect more prosperous. Nie Mingjue guesses that that was why all the disciples didn’t care that much when their Er-Gongzi couldn’t wield the sabre and didn’t do well in martial arts. Nie Huaisang excels in Taoist magic and is good in astronomy and they understand that Nie Huaisang is just as upright and as fair as Nie Mingjue is.
That was before his little brother said that he experienced the nightmare.
After the ‘eventful night’, Nie Mingjue noticed that Nie Huaisang was even more refined and sophisticated. Some of the things that Nie Mingjue knew would satisfy Nie Huaisang before, like fans, paintings and art, were slowly being forgotten and replaced with collections of knives and subordinates from unknown nooks and crannies. Nie Mingjue was worried that these miscellaneous people would hurt his brother but Nie Huaisang gave him his word that these people are competent and exceptional.
As for the recent birthday celebration, it was held exactly as it was in the past. Albeit with a little more people than usual. Nie Huaisang claimed that some people that were coming could be an ally and help the Nie sect in the future. Nie Mingjue would have to take his word for it. Like he said, his brother is too lazy to lie when he could speak the truth and his trust and love in his brother far exceeded his trust in anyone else in the world.
Nie Mingjue sighs and continues reading and responding to the correspondence letters.
Nie Huaisang woke up with a start. He had a bad feeling about today. His instincts told him something unpleasant will happen today but he checked mentally between this lifetime and the other life and he is sure that nothing important will happen today.
Feeling uncomfortable and restless, he got up and got ready to go to the dining hall for breakfast before the lesson started.
The feeling lasts until the last lesson taught by Lan Qiren is finished. Not even Wei Wuxian getting reprimanded amuse him and ease his discomfort.
’What’s with today? Why do I feel like this? (I’m going crazy nowwwww~~)’ Nie Huaisang thought to himself. KeXiang trembled a little in his hand and he felt a tension on his neck. The feelings only grew when he didn’t see Lan Xichen.
He packs his things and gets ready to leave the hall when a Lan servant greets him.
“Nie Er-Gongzi, Lan Gongzi asks you to please go to the Yashi. He mentioned that the moon will be bright tonight and to watch the astronomical scene together.” The servant relayed the message.
Nie Huaisang immediately knew what happened. He thanked the servant and made haste to the Yashi. In his haste, he stopped by his quarters to put his stuff down on the way and straighten himself out.
Someone will come today and he had to look presentable and amiable. He had to brace himself for the onslaught of emotions that will slam in his heart. He didn’t know if he could control his facial expression when he saw that someone or not but let’s hope to god he could.
When he arrived at the gate of the Yashi, Nie Huaisang took a deep breath and walked calmly to the door. He knocked twice and waited for Lan Xichen to open the door.
When Lan Xichen opened the door, simultaneously, both of their hearts skipped a beat after seeing each other. Nie Huaisang did a better job at acting like nothing affects him while Lan Xichen is red on the ears.
The only reason why Nie Huaisang came is because ‘astronomy’ is a secret code between him and Nie Mingjue. He’s excited to meet his brother, not Lan Xichen (yeah keep telling yourself that dude). Because Nie Huaisang is excellent in reading the stars and understanding astronomy, the both of them decided that that was the code for each other if they want to meet incognito or pass along messages.
“Where is he?” Nie Huaisang questions Lan Xichen. Lan Xichen’s eyes flared a little in surprise and dejection because he was hoping Nie Huaisang would come for him too. He smiled that saccharine smile that made Nie Huaisang’s stomach flips before motioning with his hands to the waiting room.
Nie Huaisang nodded and without greeting or looking at Lan Xichen twice, he walked towards the room briskly. He is excited because his brother especially made time in his busy schedule to visit him. Never had he visited before. Not even in the other life.
The first person he sees when he opens the door is Nie Zonghui, with two sabres behind his back as his usual weapons. The next thing he saw was the table in the middle of the room, with tea sets already used and a hand fiddling with a tea cup. Then, Nie Huaisang saw his brother. His braided hair glistens and the beads in his braids reflect the light when he turns around to look at Nie Huaisang on the door.
Nie Mingjue thought his little brother looked a little tired. Perhaps he chose the wrong day? That thought was soon forgotten when Nie Huaisang exclaimed happily, “Da-ge!”
“Huaisang!!” Nie Mingjue also exclaimed. He got up on his feet and let Nie Huaisang launched himself at him and they both embraced for a better part of half a stick of incense.
They didn’t know that they would miss each other this much. They had spent time together when Nie Huaisang was in the Unclean Realm. Had spent the mornings practising, eating lunch together, helped Nie Mingjue with the correspondence and also had dinner together. Due to the violent nature of his dreams, Nie Huaisang refrains from sleeping with his brother like the olden days. But they had been together for the most part of the day. Still, that didn’t seem enough.
The bubble of happiness was interrupted when Nie Zonghui cleared his throat in reminder and awkwardness. Nie Zonghui had never seen these two like this and he was both confused and embarrassed for them.
The brothers loosen their embrace and Nie Huaisang asked, “What are you doing here?”
“Well, I was thinking that you’re probably bored of Gusu’s food,” he turned to look at Lan Xichen, who looked like this is the first time he ever saw Nie Mingjue acting like a doting big-brother (publicly), and said, “No offence Xichen.” Lan Xichen just smiled and shook his head as a ‘none taken’ gesture.
Then he turned towards Nie Huaisang again and continued, “So, we brought some snacks for you,” Nie Mingjue replied, turning to look at Nie Zonghui and reaching out his hand. Nie Zonghui gave the Qiankun Pouch filled with snacks and rice paper to Nie Mingjue. “There’s snacks,” then he turned again towards Lan Xichen and said, “Don’t worry, I didn't bring any alcohol.” Then he turned around again to his little brother and continued, “and the newly developed rice paper. It is more durable and like oil paper, hard to tear. So you can go on your little adventures and paint using the coloured inks I brought.”
Nie Mingjue is determined to let Nie Huaisang continue his hobby because Nie Huaisang was busy with helping him straighten up the fortress that he didn’t even have time to catch a bird during the time when he was home.
“Da-ge. I appreciate it but I was gone not even for three months.” Nie Huaisang said. “Also, you were busy with Hejian. Did you take care of your wounds? Why are you out of bed?” Nie Huaisang reprimanded Nie Mingjue. Nie Huaisang turned to Nie Zonghui with a furrowed brow and asked, “Zonghui?”
He didn’t see any wounds on his body, as of the exposed surface, but knowing Nie Mingjue, he would probably still fight if one of his hands was hacked.
“Zongzhu was mildly injured and was treated immediately.” Nie Zonghui replied succinctly. He was not surprised that Nie Huaisang was making a scene. Every one of his subordinates will make a scene if Nie Mingjue was injured.
“Look Huaisang, I'm totally fine.” Nie Mingjue assured Nie Huaisang. Nie Huaisang had no choice but to believe it. Nie Zonghui had never lied to him before. If it was treated immediately, then it was treated immediately.
“Okay. What else made you come here?” Nie Huaisang questions, right eyebrow raised as he looked at Nie Mingjue. Lan Xichen felt like he didn’t want to be in Nie Mingjue’s position. Last time Nie Huaisang raised his eyebrow at him, he was rejected.
“Well, I mentioned in my letter that I had a new attendant. Well, here he is.” Nie Mingjue explains and turns around to show Nie Huaisang his ‘new’ attendant.
Hate surge in his heart made Nie Huaisang feel stuffed for a little while. This boy, with his delicate face and seductive eyes and straight nose and harmless smile and attractive dimples.
Nie Huaisang noticed him earlier but didn’t want to really pay attention at first. The hate running through his veins made his blood run cold and he tried hard to control himself from making his lips pale in anger.
“Oh, look at my manners. Hi, I'm Huaisang. Welcome to the Nie sect.” Nie Huaisang greets Meng Yao like he knew Jin Guangyao loves. With head bowed and hands outstretched, almost like prostrating himself.
“Nie Er-Gongzi. I am Meng Yao. Thank you, Er-Gongzi.” Meng Yao greets and thanks Nie Huaisang with sincerity and humbleness. Nie Huaisang smiles and gestures for them to sit like he’s the hostess of the Yashi. The show that Jin Guangyao displays made Nie Huiasang feel petty and greasy.
Nie Huaisang tried really hard to conceal his animosity. He makes sure his face is carefully plastered with acceptance and friendliness.
Lan Xichen was shocked when this unknown boy got more smiles from Nie Huaisang than he did. Something akin to jealousy rose in his heart. He also went to sit down.
When Nie Mingjue and Nie Huaisang were finally done with their conversation, Nie Huaisang asked Lan Xichen to lead Nie Mingjue to his quarters. He didn’t want Nie Mingjue tired on the way back to the Unclean Realm. It was a long way home from Gusu. Lan Xichen was perplexed because there’s servants for that but because this is the first time Nie Huaisang acknowledged him since Nie Mingjue and entourage came this afternoon, he did as commanded.
Nie Huaisang asked Meng Yao to stay behind for a while and mentioned that he will bring him to the guest quarters as prepared by Lan Xichen.
(Note: Meng Yao= when he thinks of himself. Jin Guangyao= when Nie Huaisang thinks of him)
While walking, Nie Huaisang turned to scrutinise Jin Guangyao. No matter which parallel, he will always be Jin Guangyao. True, this one hadn’t done any crime, yet, but the hatred was already there. The blood enmity between them cannot be revoked. It is hard to conceal something like hatred and dislike from people that know them well. Moreover, he had observed Jin Guangyao for years. He had already known the simplest gestures and minute facial changes.
Jin Guangyao was nervous. Nie Huaisang loves to see him nervous. Some part of him was twisted like that. He used to like Jin Guangyao. Used to think of him as a friend. A brother. A confidant and a person he could trust. Look where that trust got him!
Meng Yao is nervous. Nie Er-Gongzi looks amiable but he is every bit as fierce as Nie Zongzhu is when someone takes the time to observe him. Meng Yao saw Nie Zongzhu in Nie Er-Gongzi. The hand gestures, the eyebrow twitch, the curling smirk. Meng Yao had never had to deal with a lot of important young masters before so, inevitably, he had been a lot more observant when meeting the Second Master of the Nie sect so as to act accordingly.
“Are you treated well in the sect?” Nie Huaisang asked Jin Guangyao. Just to make it look like he cared. He knew the prejudices Jin Guangyao had to face. The name calling, the bully, the extra chores and the gossip surrounding him. He was the one that put a stop to it in the other life. How could he not know?
“Yes, Er-Gongzi. I am treated well in the sect. Thank you for asking.” came the perfunctory and deemed satisfying answer. It only brought disgust and dissatisfaction to Nie Huaisang when he heard it.
Why does it seem like Er-Gongzi is mad? Did I say something wrong?’ Meng Yao thought.
Nie Huaisang only thought that this bastard still had the gall to lie. He remembered Jin Guangyao’s rant in the Guanyin Temple.
“Why is it that when I smile at everyone, greet and treat others with respect, they disdain the thought of even giving the lowest form of respect to me?”
This means that he wants to be respected and treated as equal. But didn’t he and his brother treat him with respect? Cherish his intelligence and reward him accordingly? Why would he still kill Nie Mingjue? And not only kill him but he even dismembered the corpse! He knew why but he still can’t wrap his head around it. If it was Nie Huaisang in his position, he wouldn’t have done it. Even if it was for the approval of a father, he would rather disappear and live anywhere else. Jin Guangyao is smart, can’t he think of that?
To repay kindness and respect with manipulation and betrayal? The resentment in Nie Huaisang’s heart grew exponentially.
“Well, if someone comes and bullies you, you can just tell me. I’ll fix it.” Nie Huaisang said but in his heart of heart, he hopes Jin Guangyao would never do that. Though he knew, of course, that Jin Guangyao wouldn’t but still. He didn’t want to entangle himself more with this bastard.
They walked for quite some time, making small talk and when they made a left turn, they had arrived at the guest quarters for Jin Guangyao.
“Meng Yao, this is your room. If you need anything, just call or find a servant and they’ll help you with anything.” Nie Huaisang mentioned to Jin Guangyao. The boy nodded and said his thanks. He then walked away to his own quarters after bidding goodbye.
Meng Yao watches as Nie Er-Gongzi walks away from his room with puzzled eyes and a nervous heart. He inexplicably felt that Nie Er-Gongzi didn’t like him but he felt that from a lot of people. However, this is the first time someone told him to find them if he was bullied. He felt grateful. Maybe he will have a good time in the Nie sect from now on. He didn’t forget that he still wants to find his father but for now, this is the tree that he’ll use to rest for a while.
He turned around and entered the room.
Nie Huaisang didn’t know what to think. After he sent the devil, he went back to his room and had been sprawling on the bed ever since. The hate and resentment just surged to his head and he couldn't think. He groaned in annoyance. He rubbed his face a few times, just in case that could help.
Now he knows why he felt so uncomfortable and restless. His instinct knew that he’ll meet with the enemy today. He knew it was strong, his instinct, he just didn’t interpret it in time. He dreaded spending time with da-ge with the devil lurking around. Maybe he’ll force Nie Mingjue to go home tomorrow, to make sure the devil had no time to lurk around (and seduce Lan Xichen)?
He knows that’s just his insecurity talking. He was scared that Jin Guangyao will snatch Lan Xichen and Nie Mingjue away but at the same time, he had too little fuck to give. He’s conflicted and he dreaded the day he’ll have to break the news to Nie Mingjue because Nie Mingjue looked quite like he appreciates Jin Guangyao. Nie Huaisang knows how much Nie Mingjue appreciates Jin Guangyao. He groans again. He thought the usage of ‘bastard’ when implying who murders him would make Nie Mingjue more alert when recruiting people. Seems like there’s more bastards out there than he remembers.
Nie Huaisang laid down and soon, darkness greets him.
It was destined to be a restless night for him.
Lan Xichen: Wife, pay attention to me!
Nie Huaisang: No.
Nie Mingjue: Wife? That’s my brother!
Author: I didn’t make him say that.
How was it? Thanks for all the kudos and comments. I read every single one of them but I haven't the time to reply since I still had to focus on my thesis and I. just. want. it. to. end. Ugh!
I personally thought it was too short and was just a filler, but anyway. Tell me your thoughts!
P.S: Anyone got the song reference? ahahahahhahaha