Published at 30th of September 2018 06:47:52 PM

Chapter 71

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Chapter 71: Departure—Part Three


Two months later, in Yunmeng.

After the QishanWen Sect collapsed, the city that used to be the most flourishing of all cities evaporated into thin air in just one night, falling into ruins. A large number of cultivators searched for new locations of activity, diverging into multiple new cities. Among them, Lanling, Yunmeng, Gusu, and Qinghe received the greatest influx of cultivators. On the streets, people hurried to and fro. All of the disciples carried swords by their waists, talking loftily about the fate of the current world. All of them were in high spirits.

Suddenly, the people on the streets lowered their voices slightly. In unison, they looked to the end of the street.

From there, a white-robed man wearing a forehead ribbon slowly approached, carrying with him a sword and a zither.

The man’s features were of unparalleled grace, but frost and snow seemed to surround his figure. Before he had even drawn nearer, the cultivators quieted on their own, meeting his eyes in respect. The more well-known ones bravened up and went forth to salute him, “HanGuang-Jun.”

Lan WangJi nodded slightly, returning the salutations without fault, and didn’t cease in his steps. The other cultivators didn’t dare bother him too much, knowing to back off.

Suddenly, however, from ahead of him came a young, grinning girl dressed in vibrant colors. In a hurry, she brushed shoulders with him, but suddenly tossed something toward his body.

Nimbly, Lan WangJi caught the object. He looked down to find the bud of a flower as white as snow.

The bud was delicate and fresh, having gathered some dew. As Lan WangJi maintained his silence, another slender figure approached from in front of him. With a wave of her hand, a small, blue flower was tossed at him. It was aiming for his chest, but ended up on his shoulder. Lan WangJi caught it as well. When he turned to look, the woman giggled before running away without even a hint of embarrassment.

The third time was a younger girl, who wore her hair in double-buns. Hopping over, in her arms she held a bunch of sprigs dotted with red buds. She fled as soon as she threw them toward his chest.

One after another, Lan WangJi had already gathered a bundle of colorful flowers, though he still stood expressionlessly in the middle of the streets. All of the cultivators who recognized HanGuang-Jun didn’t dare laugh even if they wanted to. They pretended to be serious, but their eyes kept on lingering. The ordinary people who didn’t recognize him, however, had already started to point at him. As Lan WangJi pondered with downcast eyes, he suddenly felt something weigh onto his head. He raised his hand. A pink medicinal peony, at the peak of its bloom, had landed flawlessly on the side of his head.

From on top of a building came a grinning voice, “Lan Zhan—ah, no, HanGuang-Jun—what a coincidence!”

Lan WangJi looked up to see an airy pavilion lined with layers and layers of gauze curtains. A black-robed man lay on his side over a red lacquer divan. One hand of his slender body dangled down, holding a fine liquor jar made of black clay. Half of the jar’s crimson tassel wrapped around his arm, while the other half swayed back and forth in the air.

Seeing Wei WuXian’s face, the disciples who were watching the scene all grew somewhat uncomfortable. Everyone knew that the YiLing Patriarch and HanGuang-Jun didn’t have a good relationship. When they fought together during the Sunshot Campaign, they’d often begin to argue. Nobody knew what could happen this time. As of the moment, they didn’t even bother to put on a polite pretense anymore, staring at the two as hard as they could.

Lan WangJi didn’t leave with a cold face, contrary to their conjectures. He only said, “It is you.”

Wei WuXian, “It’s me! Someone who does such a ridiculous thing has to be me. Where did you find the time to come to Yunmeng? If you’re not busy, come up here and have a drink?”

A few girls encircled him, all cramped onto the divan, laughing at those down below, “Yeah, Young Master, come up here and have a drink!”

The girls were the ones who tossed flowers at him earlier on. There was no need to say who was the person that told them to do such a thing.

Lowering his head, Lan WangJi turned around and proceeded to leave. Seeing that there was no reaction, Wei WuXian wasn’t surprised at all. With a click of his tongue, he rolled down the divan and drank a mouthful of the liquor in his jar. Yet, a few moments later, a series of footsteps came, lighter than heavy, calmer than rushed.

With steady steps, Lan WangJi walked up the stairs and parted the curtains as he entered. The bejeweled strings clinked crisply, almost melodically.

He placed the bundle of flowers that had hit him onto the small table, “Your flowers.”

Wei WuXian slanted his body until he could reach the table, “You’re welcome. I’ll give them to you. These are your flowers now.”

Lan WangJi, “Why?”

Wei WuXian, “Why not? I just wanted to see how you’d react to such a thing.”

Lan WangJi, “Ridiculous.”

Wei WuXian, “Ridiculous is exactly what I am. Or else I wouldn’t have been so bored as to get you up here… Hey, hey, hey, don’t go. You’re already here. You won’t have a few sips?”

Lan WangJi, “Liquor is prohibited.”

Wei WuXian, “I know that liquor is prohibited in your sect, but it’s not like it’s the Cloud Recesses here. It’s fine if you have some.”

The girls immediately took out a new cup. After they poured it full, they pushed it toward the bundle of flowers. Lan WangJi still didn’t seem like he was going to sit down, but he didn’t seem like he was going to leave either.

Wei WuXian, “You finally came to Yunmeng for once, and you won’t even try the delicious liquor here? But, though the liquor is delicious, it’ll never even compare to the Emperor’s Smile at Gusu where you live. It really is the best of all liquor. In the future, if I have the chance to go to Gusu again, I’ll definitely save half or a dozen and drink them all at once. Just look at you—what’s wrong with you? The seats are right there, and you’re still standing. Go sit, won’t you?”

The girls urged him on, “Go sit, won’t you?” “Go sit!”

Lan WangJi’s light eyes examined the sensual girls coldly. Immediately after, his gaze landed on the coal-black, red-tasseled flute by Wei WuXian’s waist. His eyes looked down, as if he was thinking of the best wording. Seeing this, Wei WuXian raised a brow, mostly able to guess what he was going to say next.

As he expected, Lan WangJi said, slowly, “You should not accompany yourself with inhuman beings for so long.”

The smiles of the girls who were tittering around Wei WuXian immediately disappeared.

The gauze curtains swayed, at times blocking out the sunlight. The pavilion shifted between light and dark. Now, their snow-white cheeks seemed a bit too pale, so drained of blood that they almost seemed ashen. Their eyes were glued to Lan WangJi as well. Out of the blue came a chilling eeriness.

Wei WuXian lifted his hand, gesturing for them to move to the side. He shook his head as he spoke, “Lan Zhan, you really do become more boring the older you grow. You’re still so young. It’s not like you’re in your seventies, so don’t copy your uncle all the time, thinking of nothing but scolding others.”

Lan WangJi turned around and walked a step closer to him, “Wei Ying, it is still best if you come back to Gusu with me.”
“…” Wei WuXian, “I really haven’t heard this in a long time. The Sunshot Campaign is already over. I thought you’ve given up long ago.”

Lan WangJi, “Last time, during the hunt on Phoenix Mountain, have you noticed certain signs?”

Wei WuXian, “What signs?”

Lan WangJi, “The loss of control.”

Wei WuXian, “You mean me almost getting into a fight with Jin ZiXuan? I think you got something wrong. I want to fight with Jin ZiXuan whenever I see him.”

Lan WangJi, “And the things you said afterwards.”

Wei WuXian, “What things? I say so many things every day. I’ve long since forgotten about the things I said two months ago.”

Lan WangJi looked at him, as though he could tell at once that he didn’t take it seriously. He took in deep breath, “Wei Ying.”

He continued stubbornly, “The ghost path harms the body and the heart.”

Wei WuXian seemed as if his head began to hurt, “Lan Zhan, you… I’ve heard more than enough of these words that you say, and you still feel that you haven’t said them enough? You say that it harms the body, but I’m fine right now. You say that it harms the heart, but I haven’t become that frenzied, have I?”

Lan WangJi, “It is not too late yet. In the future, even if you regret…”

Without waiting for him to finish talking, Wei WuXian’s expression changed. He suddenly stood up, “Lan Zhan!”

Behind him, red light had begun to glow within the eyes of the girls. Wei WuXian, “Stop it.”

Thus, the girls lowered their heads and retreated, but still they stared unwaveringly at Lan WangJi. Wei WuXian turned to him, “What can I say? Even though I don’t think that I’ll regret it, I don’t like it when people take guesses at how I’m going to be in the future, either.”

After a while of silence, Lan WangJi replied, “I am the one who was out of line.”

Wei WuXian, “Not really. But, indeed, looks like I shouldn’t have invited you up here. Today was because of my presumption.”

Lan WangJi, “It was not.”

Wei WuXian smiled, his words polite, “Really? That’s good, then.”

He finished in one gulp the half cup of liquor that was left, “But, no matter what, I should still thank you. I’ll take it as you’re concerned for me.”

Wei WuXian waved his hand, “Then, I won’t bother HanGuang-Jun any longer. Let’s meet again if the chance comes up.”

When Wei WuXian returned to Lotus Pier, Jiang Cheng was wiping his sword. He lifted his eyes, “You’re back?”

Wei WuXian, “I’m back.”

Jiang Cheng, “Your face looks terrible. Don’t tell me you ran into Jin ZiXuan?”

Wei WuXian, “Worse than Jin ZiXuan. Guess who.”

Jiang Cheng, “Give me a hint.”

Wei WuXian, “Wants to lock me up.”

Jiang Cheng frowned, “Lan Zhan? Why is he at Yunmeng?”

Wei WuXian, “No idea. He’s in the streets, probably searching for someone. After the Sunshot Campaign, he hasn’t brought this up in such a long time. Now he’s at it again.”

Jiang Cheng, “It’s your fault for calling him over first.”

Wei WuXian, “How did you know that it was me who called him over first?”

Jiang Cheng, “Do you even have to ask? Which time has it not been you? You’re a strange one as well. Clearly every time you part with him on bad terms, so why do you keep on trying to get him annoyed?”

Wei WuXian thought about it, “I’m ridiculous?”

Jiang Cheng rolled his eyes, thinking to himself, <em>So you do know</em>. His eyes went to his sword again. Wei WuXian, “Just how many times do you have to wipe your sword in one day?”

Jiang Cheng, “Three times. And your sword? How long has it been since you last wiped it?”

Wei WuXian took a pear and bit into it, “Tossed it into my room. Once a month is good enough.”

Jiang Cheng, “From now on, carry your sword in important events like hunts or Discussion Conferences. That’s a ripe example of lack of discipline for others to laugh at.”

Wei WuXian, “It’s not like you don’t know. I hate it the most when others force me to do things. The more they force me to do something, the less I want to do it. I’m not carrying my sword—what are they going to do about it?”

Jiang Cheng glared at him. Wei WuXian added, “And I don’t want to be pulled into a sword duel by people I don’t even know. Whenever my sword unsheathes, there has to be blood. Unless they give me a few people to kill, nobody can bother me. So I’ll just not take it. Solves everything. It’s better that way.”

Jiang Cheng, “Didn’t you use to love showing off your sword skills in front of others?”

Wei WuXian, “I used to be a kid. Can’t be a kid forever, can’t I?”

Jiang Cheng smirked, “Don’t carry your sword, then. It doesn’t matter. But don’t provoke Jin ZiXuan from now on. He’s Jin GuangShan’s only son, after all. The future leader of the LanlingJin Sect will be him. If you beat him up, what should I, the sect leader, do? Beat him up with you? Or punish you?”

Wei WuXian, “Isn’t Jin GuangYao here now? Jin GuangYao seems so much better than him.”

Jiang Cheng finished wiping his sword. After he scrutinized it for a while, he finally put Sandu back into its sheath, “So what, if he’s better? No matter how much better he is, no matter how clever, he could only be a servant who greets the guests. That’s all there is to his life. He can’t compare with Jin ZiXuan.”

Wei WuXian found his tone to be even somewhat praising of Jin ZiXuan, “Jiang Cheng, be honest with me—what do you mean? Last time you went all the way to take shijie over. You can’t actually want shijie to…?”

Jiang Cheng, “It’s not impossible.”

Wei WuXian, “It’s not impossible? Have you forgotten what he did in Langya? You’re telling me that it’s not impossible?”

Jiang Cheng, “He’s probably regretting it.”

Wei WuXian, “Who cares if he regrets it. Do we have to forgive him just because he apologized? Look at what his dad’s like. Maybe he’ll be the goddamn same in the future, killing time searching everywhere for women. Have shijie be with him? You could take it?”

Jiang Cheng’s voice was frozen, “See if he dares!”
After a pause, Jiang Cheng glanced at him before he continued, “But, it’s not like you have a say in whether he’s forgiven or not. Sister likes him, so what can we do?”

Immediately, Wei WuXian was speechless. A while later, he squeezed out a few words, “Why does she have to like such a…”

He tossed the pear away, “Where’s shijie?”

Jiang Cheng, “I don’t know. Probably still at one of those places—either the kitchen, or the bedroom, or the ancestral hall. Where else could she go?”

Wei WuXian left the duelling hall. First, he went to the kitchen. Half a jar of steaming soup was cooking on the fire. She wasn’t there. He then went to Jiang YanLi’s bedroom. She wasn’t there either. Last, he went to the ancestral hall. There she was.

Jiang YanLi was kneeling in the ancestral hall. She cleaned her parents’ memorial tablets as she whispered. Wei WuXian poked his head inside, “Shijie? Talking to Uncle Jiang and Madam Yu again?”

Jiang YanLi’s voice was soft, “Neither of you come, so of course I have to.”

Wei WuXian walked inside. He sat down beside her and cleaned the tablets with her.

Jiang YanLi glanced at him, “A-Xian, why are you looking at me like this? Is there something you’d like to tell me?”

Wei WuXian grinned, “Nothing. I’m just here to roll around.”

As he spoke, he really did take a roll on the ground. Jiang YanLi asked, “XianXian, how old are you?”

Wei WuXian, “I’m three already.”

Seeing that he made Jiang YanLi laugh, he finally sat up. After he thought for a while, he still decided to bring the topic up, “Shijie, I want to ask you about something.”

Jiang YanLi, “Go ahead.”

Wei WuXian, “Why would someone like another person? I mean that kind of like.”

Jiang YanLi paused for a moment, musing, “Why are you asking me about this? Do you like someone? What kind of a maiden is she?”

Wei WuXian, “No. I won’t like anyone. At least not too much. Wouldn’t it be the same as putting a rein on my neck?”

Jiang YanLi, “Three seems a bit too old. How about one?”

Wei WuXian, “No, I’m three! The three-year-old XianXian is hungry! What should he do?”

Jiang YanLi chuckled, “There’s soup in the kitchen. You can have some. Would XianXian be able to reach the stove, though?”

“If I can’t, Shijie can just pick me up, and then I’ll be able to reach it…” As Wei WuXian spouted nonsense, Jiang Cheng just happened to step inside the ancestral hall.

Hearing this, he spat, “Fooling around again! Your sect leader, I, has already poured you a bowl and put it outside. Kneel for me to express your gratitude and go drink your soup outside.”

Wei WuXian skipped outside before he turned around and came back, “What do you mean by this, Jiang Cheng? Where’s the meat?”

Jiang Cheng, “Finished it. There’s only lotus roots left. Don’t eat them if you don’t want to.”

Wei WuXian attacked with his elbow, “Spit out the meat!”

Jiang Cheng, “No objections. I’ll spit them out and let’s see if you’ll eat them!”

Seeing that they started to argue again, Jiang YanLi quickly interrupted, “Okay, okay. How old are you two, fighting over some meat? I’ll just make another jar…”

The lotus pork rib soup that Jiang YanLi made was Wei WuXian’s favorite.

Aside from how it really was delicious, it was also because he’d always recall what happened the first time he had it.

At that time, it was not long after Wei WuXian had been brought back by Jiang FengMian from Yiling. As soon as he went in, he saw a proud young master running around the training grounds, leading a few leashed puppies. Immediately, his hands went up to his face and he wailed, soon bawling his eyes out. He was in Jiang FengMian’s arms the entire day, not coming down no matter what. On the second day, Jiang Cheng’s puppies were given to someone else.

This angered Jiang Cheng so much that he threw a big tantrum. No matter how much Jiang FengMian comforted him gently, telling him that they should ‘be good friends’, he refused to talk to Wei WuXian. Quite a few days later, Jiang Cheng’s attitude softened. Jiang FengMian wanted to strike while the iron was still hot, so he told Wei WuXian to sleep in the same room as him, hoping that they’d grow fonder of each other.

In the beginning, though still sulking, Jiang Cheng was on the verge of agreeing. But the bad thing was that when Jiang FengMian began to rejoice, he took Wei WuXian up and let him sit on his arm. Watching the scene unfold, Jiang Cheng was shocked speechless. Immediately, Madam Yu let out a bitter laugh and went out the room. It was only because the couple had important matters to attend to and left in a hurry that they didn’t start another argument.

That night, Jiang Cheng locked Wei WuXian outside his room, refusing to let him in.

Wei WuXian knocked on the door, “Shidi, Shidi, let me in. I want to sleep.”

Inside of the room, Jiang Cheng shouted with his back on the door, “Who’s your shidi?! Give me back Princess, give me back Jasmine, give me back Love!”

Princess, Jasmine, and Love were all puppies that he used to own. Wei WuXian knew that Jiang FengMian sent them away because of him. He whispered, “I’m sorry. But… But I really am scared of them…”

In Jiang Cheng’s memory, the total number of times Jiang FengMian picked him up wouldn’t even add up to five. Every single instance was enough for him to be happy for months. A fire brewed inside of him, unable to be released. All that he asked himself was ‘why, why, why’. Suddenly, he saw that a set of bedding that wasn’t his own was now inside his room. The anger and indignation immediately rushed to his forehead, making him pickup Wei WuXian’s sheets and blankets. Wei WuXian waited outside for a long time. When the door opened, before the joy could spread onto his face, he was bombarded with a pile of things being thrown out. The door banged shut again.

Jiang Cheng told him from inside, “Go sleep somewhere else! This is my room! You’re even gonna steal my room?!”

At that time, Wei WuXian didn’t know what Jiang Cheng was mad about at all. After a pause, he replied, “I didn’t steal anything. It’s Uncle Jiang who told me to sleep with you.”

Hearing that he was still bringing up his father, almost as if he was purposely showing off, Jiang Cheng’s eyes reddened as he yelled, “Go away! If I see you again, I’ll call a bunch of dogs to bite you!”

Standing outside, as Wei WuXian heard that dogs would come bite him, fear immediately bubbled within him. Twisting his fingers, he hurried, “I’ll go, I’ll go. Don’t call the dogs!”

Dragging behind him the sheets and blanket that were thrown outside, he ran out the hall. Having only arrived at Lotus Pier for a short period of time, he didn’t dare jump around yet. Every day, he obediently holed up in the places that Jiang FengMian told him to stay at. He didn’t even know where his room was, much less have the courage to knock on other people’s doors, scared that it’d disturb someone’s dreams.

Having thought for a while, he walked to a corner of the hallway where there was no wind, laid down his sheets, and lay down right there. But the longer he spent there, the louder Jiang Cheng’s ‘I’ll call a bunch of dogs to bite you’ echoed in his head. Wei WuXian grew more afraid the more he thought about it. He tossed and turned under the blanket, feeling that a bunch of dogs surrounded him whenever he heard a single sound. After a while of torment, he felt that he couldn’t stay there any longer. Leaping up, he rolled up the sheets, folded the blanket, and fled Lotus Pier.

Huffing and puffing, he ran for quite some time alongside the night wind. When he saw a tree, he climbed up without second thought. He climbed with all four limbs clinging to the trunk, and only calmed down a bit after he felt that he was high enough up there. He didn’t know how long he’d been hugging the tree when, suddenly, a soft voice called his name from afar. The voice got closer and closer. Not long later, a white-clothed girl appeared under the tree with a lantern.

Wei WuXian recognized that this was Jiang Cheng’s sister. He stayed quiet, hoping that she wouldn’t find him. Yet, Jiang YanLi still called, “Is it A-Ying? What are you doing up there?”

Wei WuXian continued to stay quiet. Jiang YanLi raised the lantern, “I saw you. You left your shoe under the tree.”

Wei WuXian glanced down at his left foot before finally exclaiming, “My shoe!”

Jiang YanLi, “You can come down. Let’s go back.”

Wei WuXian, “I… I’m not going down. There are dogs.”

Jiang YanLi, “A-Cheng was making things up. There are no dogs. You don’t have anything to sit on. Your arms will grow sore really soon, and you’ll fall down.”

No matter what she said, Wei WuXian continued clinging to the tree, refusing to come down. Afraid that he’d hurt himself, Jiang YanLi put the lantern under the tree and extended her arms to catch him, too worried to leave. Thirty minutes later, Wei WuXian’s hands finally grew sore. He let go of the tree trunk and fell down. Jiang YanLi hurried to catch him, but Wei WuXian still landed with a slam. Rolling on the ground a few times, he hugged his leg and wailed, “My leg is broken!”

Jiang YanLi comforted him, “It’s not broken. It shouldn’t be fractured either. Does it hurt a lot? It’s fine. Don’t move. I’ll carry you back.”

Wei WuXian was still thinking about the dogs, sobbing, “Are… Are the dogs there…”

Jiang YanLi promised again and again, “No. If dogs come, I’ll chase them away for you.” She picked up the shoe Wei WuXian left under the tree, “Why did your shoe fall off? Does it not fit?”

Wei WuXian forced back the tears of pain, “No. They fit.”

In truth, they didn’t fit. They were quite a few sizes too large. But this was the first pair of shoes that Jiang FengMian bought him. Wei WuXian was too embarrassed to make him go out of his way to buy another pair, and so he said that they weren’t too big. Jiang YanLi helped him into his shoe and pressed the hollow tip, “It is a bit big. I’ll fix it for you when we get back.”

Hearing this, Wei WuXian felt somewhat uneasy, as if he did something wrong again.

Living in other people’s homes, the worst that could happen was to make trouble for the hosts.

Jiang YanLi put him onto her back and began to walk back, wobbling in her steps as she spoke, “A-Ying, no matter what A-Cheng said to you, don’t bother about him. He doesn’t have a good temper, so he’s always home playing with himself. Those puppies were his favorites. Dad sent them away, and so he’s feeling upset. He’s actually really happy that somebody’s here to be with him. You ran out here and didn’t go back for a long time. I only came to find you only because he’s worried that something happened to you and went to wake me up.”

Suddenly, the night wind carried forth a series of sobs. Jiang YanLi quivered in fear, “What was that sound? Did you hear it?”

Wei WuXian pointed, “I heard it. It came from inside that pit!”

The two went to the pit and careful looked inside. A small silhouette lay face-down at the bottom. As he lifted his head, they could see two streaks on his muddied face, washed off by his tears. He choked, “… Sister!”

Jiang YanLi sighed in relief, “A-Cheng, didn’t I tell you to get others and search for him together?”

Jiang Cheng only shook his head. After Jiang YanLi left, he waited for a while. He felt as if he was sitting on pins and needles, and so he decided to go chase after them. Yet, as he ran too fast and forgot to bring a lantern, he tripped on something halfway down the road and fell into a pit. He scratched his head as well.

Jiang YanLi stretched her arm out and pulled her younger brother out of the pit. She took out a handkerchief and put it against his bleeding forehead. Jiang Cheng seemed to be in low spirits. His black pupils snuck a glance at Wei WuXian. Jiang YanLi, “Is there something you didn’t tell A-Ying?”

Jiang Cheng pressed the handkerchief onto his forehead, his voice low, “… I’m sorry.”

Jiang YanLi, “Help A-Ying bring back the sheets and blanket later, okay?”

Jiang Cheng sniffed, “I brought them back already…”

Both of the two had injured their legs and couldn’t walk. It was still some distance away from Lotus Pier, so Jiang YanLi could only carry one on her back and the other in her arms. Both Wei WuXian and Jiang Cheng wrapped their arms around her neck. She had to stop and take a breath after just a few steps, “Just what am I supposed to do with you two?”

Their eyes were still brimming with tears. Pitifully, they hugged her neck even tighter.

At last, one step at a time, she finally managed to carry her two brothers back to Lotus Pier. In a hushed voice, she woke up the doctor and asked him to bandage Wei WuXian’s and Jiang Cheng’s wounds. Afterward, she repeated ‘sorry’ and ‘thank you’ countless times before walking the doctor back. Looking at Wei WuXian’s legs, Jiang Cheng’s face was full of nervousness. If any other disciple or servant learned about this and told Jiang FengMian, after Jiang FengMian knew how he threw Wei WuXian’s sheets out and made him hurt his leg, Jiang FengMian would definitely dislike him even more. This was also why he only dared chase after them alone and didn’t get anyone else.

Seeing how worried he seemed, Wei WuXian took the initiative, “Relax. I won’t tell Uncle Jiang. I only hurt myself because I suddenly wanted to climb a tree last night.”

Hearing this, Jiang Cheng sighed in relief. He swore, “You can relax as well. Anytime I see a dog, I’ll chase it away for you!”

Seeing how the two finally made up with each other, Jiang YanLi cheered, “That’s the spirit.”

Having stayed up for almost half of the night, the two had grown hungry as well. And so, Jiang YanLi went to the kitchen and busied herself for a while, standing on tiptoe. She warmed up a bowl of lotus pork rib soup for each of them.

The aroma wrapped itself around his heart, lingering.

Squatting in the yard, Wei WuXian put the empty bowl onto the ground. He gazed at the stars sprinkled across the sky, and then smiled.

When he ran into Lan WangJi in the streets, he recalled many things from when he was studying at the Cloud Recesses.

On a whim, he stopped Lan WangJi, wanting to direct their conversation toward those days as well. But, Lan WangJi reminded him that everything was different from how they were back then.

Yet, when he returned to Lotus Pier, to the Jiang siblings, he’d be under the illusion that nothing had changed at all.

Wei WuXian suddenly wanted to find the tree that he once hugged.

He stood up and walked out of the training grounds. The disciples along the way nodded at him in respect. All of them looked unfamiliar. The shidi who liked monkeys and refused to walk properly, the servants who made faces and didn’t salute properly—they had long since gone.

Across the training grounds and outside Lotus Pier’s gates, there was a wide pier. No matter day or at night, at the pier, there’d always be vendors selling food. From a pot of sizzling oil came a wonderful aroma.

Wei WuXian couldn’t help but went over, grinning, “Big servings today, huh?”

The vendor grinned as well, “Young Master Wei, you want one? I’ll give it to you for free. Not charging anything.”

Wei WuXian, “I’ll have one. Charge it still.”

Beside the vendor sat someone whose entire body seemed grimey. Before Wei WuXian walked closer, the person hugged their knees as they shivered, as though they were both cold and tired. After they heard Wei WuXian speak, their head shot up.

Wei WuXian widened his eyes, “You?!”

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