It was a coincidence that Xie Lian met Wei WuXian and his husband, Lan WangJi.
On his way back to Ghost City, to return to Hua Cheng, he had met the cultivation partners. Their contrasting black and white robes stood out to him from afar. In front of a small shrine of his, they stood and prayed earnestly. Their eyes closed, their hands pressed together in front of their chests, their mouths soundlessly made wishes. It was unusual for others to follow instructions and not kneel to him. Furthermore, it was even rarer for him not to be swarmed with prayers from other worshippers. Thus, Xie Lian decided to personally listen to their prayers, their hopes and grant them, assuming that the prayers are made within reason, with a smile before returning and telling Hua Cheng of his day.
‘Let this trip be a success, and we obtain the child-bearing pill.’
‘Let this centuries-old marriage of love bear fruit.’
As their wishes made their way into his mind, Xie Lian’s smile froze at the mention of the child-bearing pill. Just by hearing its name, one would immediately realize what the pill’s purpose is: to bear children. Simply eat the pill once, and a womb will be created for the person to bear children for the rest of their life. This miraculous pill was given as a gift to Hua Cheng on his birthday, the first birthday, although disastrous, that Xie Lian celebrated with his lover. It was gifted by a ghost whose intentions were clearly to please his lord and help him create a family with their Grand-Uncle.
His pale face soon became tinted with a faint blush as he hid the ornate box that contained the pill from Hua Cheng. Although Hua Cheng was curious about what made his beloved Gege so flustered, he didn’t push the topic and simply let Xie Lian do whatever to the box. But now… there were people who desired the pill, even coming to his shrine to pray. Before he could ponder further, the cultivators’ voices joined together and invaded his mind.
‘To ascend to immortality together, to retire from the cultivation world hand-in-hand, to build a house somewhere peaceful and… to make our own gigantic family. And if we get bored with retirement, we’ll return to the cultivation world with our children following behind like little ducklings.’
And with those firm voices, the cultivators in black and white bowed and left together. Xie Lian watched the two cultivators from afar, watching how the cultivator in black puts his arm around his partner’s neck with his head tilted back for a kiss. His partner could only oblige the other before they head towards the same direction Xie Lian intended… Ghost City.
As soon as their figures disappear, Xie Lian came out from his hiding spot. Although their figures were gone, Xie Lian’s eyes still watched the road with a dazed expression, expecting the couple to return. He was intrigued by these cultivators, by their strong desire to be with each other, by their love that created such a sweet dream.
Such an ambitious dream... Xie Lian wants to protect it. He wants to watch the ambitious dream become a reality for the sweet couple. His lips curled into a soft smile at the thought. Reaching into his long sleeves, he pulled out two exquisite dice. Thinking of his beloved and telling him of Xie Lian’s desire to protect the ambitious dream, Xie Lian threw the two dice, and a door appeared.
He rushed through and found Hua Cheng obediently practicing his calligraphy at Qiandeng Temple. Xie Lian watched the dull, bored eye brighten and twinkle with stars like in the night sky at the sight of him. As he sat down beside Hua Cheng, he took in the details of his beloved. Hua Cheng’s lips were curled up to form a playful, mischievous smile that made his good mood obvious, his pale skin enhanced by the dark midnight hair. These small details never escape Xie Lian’s eyes. His thoughts soon broke apart when a deep voice whispers beside his ears.
“Gege. Is there something you would like to tell San Lang?”
As expected of Hua Cheng to figure out what Xie Lian wants to share with him, waiting patiently for him to tell him anything, insignificant or not.
“San Lang. Is it alright if we go to the gambler’s den?”
“If Gege wants to, then we can go now if you so desire to do so. But… What does Gege want to do there?”
“... I want to protect a dream.”
Thus, he shared with Hua Cheng everything, starting from how his day went to how he ran into the two cultivators of black and white who shared a dream and how he wants to watch the dream turn to reality.
“So in that box that you refused to let me see was a child-bearing pill. And now you want to help your worshipers to fulfill their dream by giving them this pill. But because you can’t give it to them directly, you could only lead them to the Gambler’s Den where they will challenge me and bet with something valuable in exchange for the pill. Even though it was meant for us?”
“San Lang!” Xie Lian couldn’t look Hua Cheng in the eye as Hua Cheng chuckled softly at his flustered expression. With a soft clink, Hua Cheng’s brush was abandoned on the table, and he scooped Xie Lian into his arms.
Hua Cheng’s mischievous smile softened into a much more gentle smile, full of affection and love. His eyes narrow in affectionate as he spoke, “Dianxia… If you want to protect that dream, San Lang will follow you to the end. I’ll protect that dream with you.”
Xie Lian laughed as he wrapped his arms around Hua Cheng. With Hua Cheng by his side, there was nothing that he couldn’t do. Thus, together, they patiently waited for those two cultivators to arrive at Ghost City.