Throughout her life, Lan Lianyi knew how important her job was. As a Cloudweaver, only she and her fellow Cloudweavers can sew the important clothing for the entire clan and sect. Her mother was one, so she naturally followed in her footsteps. As soon as she was able, her mother had thrown her into studying arrays and the traditional art of embroidery. The morning bell would toll, and Lan Lianyi would wake up with sleepy eyes at 5am. Her mother would then help prepare her for the day, wash up, and gather at the dining hall to eat. Afterwards, it was off to lessons, with breaks for meals in between until it is time to sleep at 9pm. This was how Lan Lianyi had lived for most of her life, ever since she was a child.
Though the Gusu Lan sect had segregated the two genders, there were times where they did have mixed classes. Some of these classes were insufferable. She would rather spend the day sewing than study cultivation. When she expressed this to her mother, her mother would then tell her that there is more than just sewing in the world. Her mother then imposed that she could only spend a certain number of hours in the abode, forcing Lan Lianyi to explore the Cloud Recesses in her free time. Lan Lianyi couldn’t understand why her mother had done this back then, when there was so much work to be done; her sewing could have helped relieve their workload.
It is only when she grew older that Lan Lianyi came to value her time and make the most out of it. They sew for the disciples, so it is natural to observe how the disciples spend their time so they can make better clothing. Another reason was that her mother wanted her to enjoy her childhood. Lan Lianyi remembers the vivid sea of colours when she left the Cloud Recesses for the first time, for people did not wear white as they did. They did their hair in a variety of ways, and had different accessories and walked in different ways. The sweet smell of tanghulu and the savory smell of the tea eggs. Sometimes, her mother would buy her some, telling her that it is okay to not follow the rules once in a while. This confused her younger self, who always believed the rules were absolute.
She watched how some broke the rules and had been subjected to harsh punishments. They have to copy the rules, and it was always tedious. Or in some cases, having to do handstands for hours on end. She shudders, but slowly grew to realise how different the outside world was. People lived different lives, and wore different clothes depending on the season. So Lan Lianyi always appreciated whenever she got the opportunity to go outside of the Cloud Recesses. From time to time, she would go to the embroiders in town, as they gave insight on how embroidery is being evolved without cultivation. Even as a senior Cloudweaver, she always arranges for apprentices to go down the mountain to learn from normal embroiders, and have them come back for cultivation classes back at the Cloud Recesses.
She then learns to make friends, and grew up to take more important responsibilities in the sect as she progressed in her cultivation. Otherwise, life had been normal and peaceful. Until the murder of an elder by a woman shook the entire sect. As for what happened to the culprit, Lan Lianyi would not realise until she became a fully certified Cloudweaver. Shy of twenty and new, her mother then took her to take measurements of a woman who came to live in the Cloud Recesses. A strange request, because there had been no weddings recently. Then she connects the dots together, and remembers about what that woman had done, and felt anger. Why were they going to sew clothes for a woman who murdered one of their clansmen?! Lan Lianyi could not understand why her mother just accepted the task solemnly.
“Why did you accept?”
“It is a request from the sect.”
“But,” she protested, “she’s a murderer…”
“Were you there when it happened?” Her mother asks, and she freezes. “Remember, we are Cloudweavers. Who are we to judge the person who would wear the robes we make? Can we truly say we truly know the person, even after scrutinizing all of how they live? Yi’er, life is not black and white as the rules decreed. If I say no, someone will have to do it eventually. Come with me.” Her mother warned, and Lan Lianyi stopped arguing.
They walked to a house surrounded by gentians, and there Lan Lianyi met a young beautiful woman, who sat by the bed. Seeing the rays shine into the hut, the woman merely stared outside. Her mother walks in and introduces herself politely. The woman then smiled, happily co-operating with them. Is this really the person who murdered the 14th Elder? Lan Lianyi felt awkward, and seeing this, the woman even happily talked to her.
“What’s your name?”
“That’s a nice name. Will you be making my clothes?” Lan Lianyi nods. “I bet you’ll be a good seamstress like your mother! I look forward to it!” The young lady smiled.
Although Lan Lianyi was sure that she would hate the person who killed one of their clansmen, she came out of the hut even more unsure. The murderer just… didn’t seem like a murderer at all. The hut seemed small, but it was comfortable. It wasn’t prison. Yet, Lan Lianyi feels that something is deeply wrong.
“Mother, what would happen to her? Would she ever leave?” Lan Lianyi asked.
“As long as the Eldest Young Master continues his stubborn defiance, never.” Her mother answers. “Yi’er, as my successor, you will have to negotiate with suppliers when you head down to Caiyi Town. I cannot afford to have you be judgemental of people you have never met. Assess people and use your best judgement. Never ever judge a book by its cover. Even amongst the sect, there are bad apples. But we cannot stop our work, because why must we stop, when it is our job? They are already punished enough, why should they be punished because we refuse to give them the basic thing all people deserve, the warm clothing that everyone should have?”
The rumours continued, with some disciples even asking her about the woman. Lan Lianyi soon grew to resent the rule of ‘no badmouthing others behind their backs’. No one wanted to know who the woman was. They just decided to label her the murderer and the woman who ‘bewitched’ Qingheng-jun. This even extended further onto their children. As such, Lan Lianyi decided that she would always give the benefit of the doubt once, and make her conclusions based on what she knows than hearsay. But even then, her mother’s words ring in her head that she is first and foremost an embroider, not a judge.
Indeed, her mother then assigned her to make the forehead ribbon for Madam Lan, and Lan Lianyi decides to visit the woman to ask.
“What would you like on your forehead ribbon?” Lan Lianyi asked. “I could customize the inner side for you.”
“Nothing.” Lan Lianyi had been taken aback, stunned.
She had not expected the cheerful lady to not want anything on the forehead ribbon. The woman stared out the window, almost lifeless. She then left immediately and promptly made the forehead ribbon. The next time they meet, Madam Lan looked happy again. Even though she had officially become a Cloudweaver, access to the gentian house was restricted. So Lan Lianyi did not get to see her after taking measurements and delivering the items. Every time she passes the house surrounded by gentians, the image of the woman staring out the window would haunt her. Sometimes, she would get distracted and prick herself.
“Yi'er, you need to stop.” Her mother warns.
“Stop what?” Lan Lianyi said, surprised.
“I did say to treat everyone impartially, but you don’t have to be friends with her.”
“I-I know. But I can’t help it. She’s so lonely. I just want to find a way to make her feel a bit better, even if it’s just clothes.”
“That is a nice philosophy, and I am glad you found your path. However, I will warn you, there are flaws in this philosophy as there are in our current sect philosophy. This will bite you back someday. Be careful.” Her mother leaves, and Lan Lianyi slowly reflects on this.
When Madam Lan was pregnant with her first child, Lan Lianyi visited again.
“Congratulations.” Lan Lianyi offers.
“Thank you. Do you think it would be a girl or boy? What do you think would be good?” Madam Lan looked tired, but she did her best to stay happy, cradling her stomach.
“Personally, I prefer girls, but it’s probably a boy if he has been kicking you a lot. Have you decided on a name yet?” Lan Lianyi asks.
“No, not yet. Oh, by the way, is your mother retiring?” Lan Lianyi nods. “Will you be sewing their clothes?” Madam Lan looked at her with expectant looks.
“Yes, and their forehead ribbons.”
“You will make amazing clothes for them, I’m sure.” So this is what her mother truly meant.
The baby may have a murderer for a mother, but how could she deny the baby the right to warm, proper clothing?
“I will do my best.” Lan Lianyi declares.
Lan Lianyi knew it was bad that she kept abusing her position of a Cloudweaver to visit her, but she wanted to keep her company. Plus, for as long as Madam Lan has a forehead ribbon that hasn’t been fully adjusted, she can keep coming back. Maybe that’s why Madam Lan allows it too. Of course, Lan Lianyi would never visit when the children are visiting her. Lan Lianyi hadn’t expected that the punishment would extend to the point where her children could only visit her once a month. She remembers how devastated Madam Lan felt after the birth of each son, despite attempts to hide it. After the birth of the Second Young Master, Lan Zhan, Lan Lianyi finally got to change the forehead ribbon.
“You sure are persistent.” Madam Lan laughs, drinking the soup.
“I just want to make sure the clothing is comfortable for you.” It is a small lie, but Lan Lianyi doesn’t regret it.
“You’re in luck, I have something for you then.” Madam Lan hands over a piece of paper, and Lan Lianyi accepted it.
“My cute A-Huan and A-Zhan.” Lan Lianyi reads it out.
“I’m surprised that you allow customization on the inner side of the ribbon, considering how rigid the rules are.” She commented.
“It’s kind of like a little secret you can keep from the rest, in my opinion.” Lan Lianyi winked.
“Ah, then I will trust you to that. Hmm, I wonder what kind of things the children would want on their forehead ribbon, and the kind of fated person they would have. A-Huan would definitely fit a gentle person. A-Zhan will need someone cheerful to rile him up. He needs to talk more.”
“I’m sure they will be able to find their fated one someday.”
“Yes. I hope they find happiness too.” Madam Lan hopes, and Lan Lianyi found herself wishing it too.
Madam Lan’s forehead ribbon had the characters ‘我的可愛的阿渙和阿湛’ on it. With that, it also meant that she had lesser excuses to visit. Lan Lianyi sighed, seeing that there was nothing she could do, and so threw herself into her work. Work was difficult and often never-ending, she finds, after she became a Cloudweaver. The Cloudweavers were responsible for not just sewing clothing, but also repairing them if the damage got too serious. It is not surprising for many clothes to be sent to her and her fellow Cloudweavers at certain timings. If weren’t for that, they would be cultivating their own silk in their silk farms. They had their own specific technique of sericulture, which was discovered by Lan Yunzhi, the founder of the Cloudweavers. Aptly named Cloudweaving, because the silk they cultivated was as smooth and light as the clouds, it became a secret technique passed down the small group of Cloudweavers.
Many generations of Cloudweavers have passed down the technique, improving it before passing it on to their successors. It still takes a high cultivation level to make this particular silk, but no longer takes as much of a heavy toll. No wonder there were so few of them. The silk was sturdy and strong, easily dyed, and versatile. Even the other sects try to buy the silk from them, particularly the Qishan Wen. Lan Lianyi always felt stressed when other sects buy the silk, because it meant having to work overtime to make it. With the amount of silk they are buying, I won’t be surprised if that Sect Leader Wen has an entire wardrobe of our silk… Luckily, the sect limits how much the other sects can purchase, as most of the silk goes to making the outer robes of the clan disciples.
Many have clambered for the production technique, which has led to the secondary requirement of high cultivation to protect themselves. Cloudweavers rarely left the Cloud Recesses unless they were combatants or responsible for procuring supplies. Even when they married out of the sect, they took the secret technique to the grave. What most people don’t know is that Cloudweaving cannot be done alone. It has to be done in groups. Because of how much spiritual energy it consumes, Cloudweavers often take turns in batches every month for the process, as they have to wean the silk in a formation.
It is also why her mother told her to go outside more; to learn how to cooperate with others. No Cloudweaver works alone, even if they have different ideals. Lan Lianyi did grow to make friends with them. One of them had a sharp mouth, but she always made precise cuts, making her perfect for shoemaking. Another was clumsy, though no one could beat her when it came to more complicated sewing, surprisingly. They may fight and argue, but together, they will always fight for each other. That’s why Lan Lianyi is proud to be a Cloudweaver, for they will never bow down to others, nor will they participate in conflict. They are forever bystanders, content to watch and sew, but will fight if they ever have to. Of course, that did not mean she was exempt from making mistakes and punishments.
“Lianyi, it is easy to forget that we live much more comfortable lives, and forget to be frugal. We may have a lot of materials and money to pay for them, but wastage is unacceptable.” Lan Lianyi swore it was just one time she had overused the amount of materials! “From tomorrow onwards, you are not allowed to enter the Cloudweaver Abode until you figure out what to do with the wasted cloth. Of course, you will still have to do the initiation forehead ribbon ceremony, so be on your way.” Lan Lianyi sighs, and leaves.
The initiation forehead ribbon ceremony marks the first time a Lan child is given their first forehead ribbon for the first time. They are not as long as the normal forehead ribbons, as they are short enough that the caretakers can tie it on their foreheads for them, but also not too tight. Ribbons for the toddlers are fairly simple since they don’t know what they want yet, thus are usually plain. It makes it easier to reuse these ribbons though, to the extent that some siblings pass down their ribbon to their younger ones. While it is true that Lan An said the ribbon must be given to the person’s fated love, Lan Lianyi chooses to view this in a different way; this passing down of ribbons is a way of showing siblings that they are fated to be family in this lifetime, and they should love each other almost as much as they would love their fated one. Lan Lianyi enjoyed this ceremony the most because the parents would come and gather, and although it is a short ceremony, it is much livelier than their family banquets.
This prized forehead ribbon ceremony marks a transition in the children’s lives, as the toddlers would soon move from their mother’s quarters to the children’s quarters to live with the older children, aside from getting the forehead ribbon for the first time. All the mothers and siblings would be there, and if some are lucky, their fathers would be present. Indeed, there is a small crowd of proud parents and siblings. She carries the tray of forehead ribbons to the Spring Pavilion after checking that all of the toddlers were accounted for. The disciples naturally gave way to her upon seeing her uniform.
“Are you the Cloudweaver giving out the forehead ribbons today?” A young boy approached her with a smile. She blinks, before nodding. “Did you receive the one I submitted? A-Zhan’s getting his today and I can’t wait to give it to him!”
“Yes, I believe I have it right here.” Lan Lianyi smiles at him, and he beamed at her. “Are you excited?” He nods fervently.
“Ah, it’s you.” She looks up to see Lan Qiren. “Greetings, Lan Lianyi. I hope you have been well.” They used to be classmates, though they hadn’t seen each other much.
“Acting Sect Leader Lan Qiren, I have been well. I hope you have been well too.” They only encountered each other in passing, but on closer inspection, Lan Qiren looked a bit more haggard than before.
Time really does change people; he seemed far older than she expected him to be. It is then she realizes that his nephew, Lan Zhan, would be getting his forehead ribbon today. The boy right in front of her is the eldest son of Sect Leader Lan, Lan Huan. She immediately looks around for Sect Leader Lan, but doesn’t see him, and she sighs. Last time, when Lan Huan got his forehead ribbon, his father did not attend at all. Lan Qiren was there, fortunately, and she likes to believe that the ribbon might have been still from Lan Qiren, so it was fine.
“Remember, you have lessons after this, A-Huan,” he reminds his nephew.
“I know. I just want to make sure he gets it!” Lan Huan jumped excitedly.
“He will get it, don’t worry. Remember the rules.” She reminds, and Lan Huan finally stops fidgeting.
“You’ve… changed.” Lan Lianyi says. “Please take good care of yourself.”
“Same to you. Who doesn’t think about simpler times?” The last toddler finally arrives, and Lan Lianyi has to excuse herself to begin the ceremony.
The Cloudweaver apprentices would hold the tray containing the ribbons as Lan Lianyi would begin reciting one of the sections of the rules, especially Lan An’s message in regards to the forehead ribbon. The toddlers are supported by the caretakers or their mothers. Lan Zhan, however, perfectly sits still without any assistance. Once she finishes reciting, Lan Lianyi would start the ceremony of bestowing the forehead ribbon. First, the orphans would get theirs, and she would tie the forehead ribbon for them. It is often unfortunate that they lost their parents in the night hunts, so the sect pays respect to these children’s parents by reassuring that they would take good care of them.
The parents would be next, and finally, the siblings. Lan Huan skips forward, taking the forehead ribbon he recognised on the tray, and carefully ties it for his younger brother. Although Lan Zhan seemed to show no outward emotion, Lan Lianyi can only assume he is happy, but yearning for someone. At the very least, he is not alone in this world, and he could show his new forehead ribbon to his mother later. Once everyone has their forehead ribbons tied, the caretakers and family members will retreat, letting the toddlers sit down again. Lan Lianyi concludes the ceremony by declaring them official Gusu Lan disciples, and they will soon begin their life here with the older kids. Now she passes the reins to the tutors in charge, and she heaves a sigh of relief at having completed the ceremony.
The next ceremony for these children would be when they are due to begin cultivation training, which is the enrollment forehead ribbon ceremony. The ceremony is somewhat similar as they get another ribbon, though the parents might not be able to attend due to sect duties, and the children have to tie the ribbons themselves. The older siblings would definitely attend. The crowd dispersed quickly, and she spies Lan Qiren steering Lan Huan and Lan Zhan away to classes already. She and the apprentices also leave, but just as Lan Lianyi walks past some disciples who stayed behind to chat...
“I wish we could use our older ribbons like that… I don’t have a younger sibling to pass it down to.”
“Yeah… Mine’s just sitting in the bottom of the wardrobe, never to be used again. I sometimes use it as a hair tie because it’s too short. Would be nice if we could use it… I mean, it’s not like our founder said anything about what to do with our old forehead ribbons.”
Lan Lianyi widens her eyes as she watched the disciples leave the pavilion. Thinking about it, there are an abundant amount of forehead ribbons in the Cloudweaver Abode. Lan Lianyi immediately rushes back to her quarters to find her old forehead ribbon. Since the forehead ribbon is a precious item that is hard to let go, it makes sense for some to want to keep their older ones with them wherever they go, rather than leaving it to rot in their wardrobe, never to see the light of day again. She remembers how when she visited Caiyi Town sometime back, some girls actually reuse the cloth since they couldn’t afford to get newer ones. In essence, giving their old cloth new life again!
She finds her old forehead ribbon, and began to sew it into her pouch. It works! Extremely satisfied with this, she then began asking disciples if they wanted to have their old forehead ribbons be sewn onto pouches or accessories when they came to replace their forehead ribbons. It initially started small, and it grew big. Her mother had been surprised at the volume of requests coming in asking to have their forehead ribbon to be sewn onto some accessories, to the extent that not only female disciples wanted it, but even the male disciples would come to ask her to help sew their forehead ribbons onto their presents to their beloved, fated ones. Some even wanted to do it themselves and asked her to teach them. Lan Lianyi doesn’t mind helping them, as she does truly believe in the idea of love as any Gusu Lan disciple would be.
It is funny how a punishment ended up becoming a fond memory. In fact, Lan Lianyi is glad to have gotten this punishment, and decided that in the future, she would do the same punishment to her apprentices to see what kind of ideas they can come up with to minimize wastage.
When the children are five and start attending cultivation classes, Lan Lianyi began asking them what they would like to be found on the inner side of the forehead ribbon. Now, although she knows it’s technically against the rules to do that, but in the end, who wants their forehead ribbon to be the same as someone else’s? Plus, she happily convinces the children that as long as their teachers and parents don’t know, it could be their own little secret that they can tell their fated ones! Indeed, as soon as the children learned that she would actually do it and not tell their parents on them, they began asking for Lan Lianyi to sew something on the inner side for them. The girls ask for flowers or animals on theirs, while the boys settle for dragons or swords. Some choose not to have anything special sewn on it, but it does make Lan Lianyi’s life a little bit easier. Nonetheless, she does try to make it unique for each individual, but the best she can do is to sew their name into it.
Of course, not everyone would pester her at random hours. They all naturally had to wait for a good reason, such as the ribbon getting too tight for them, before they can change anything on their forehead ribbon, keeping in line with the sect’s philosophy of being frugal. That said, people treat their forehead ribbons differently. Some may treat their forehead ribbon very preciously and wash it accordingly, while another may very well rip it if they are not careful. When they accidentally rip it in practice, the disciples have to come and get a new one sewn for them. Lan Lianyi slowly tried to improve the ways in making them different, through asking for their needs and enchanting the ribbon accordingly. More sturdiness for those who tend to rip it, or more softness for the children who might tie it too tightly.
Life was simple. One night, she gets abruptly awoken by her mother. Lan Lianyi got up, and followed her. Lan Lianyi had a sinking feeling in their stomach as they lit their lanterns. The only reason why Cloudweavers would get awoken at night was for urgent matters, or in the event that someone had passed away. Their task is usually to conduct spirit cleansing on the mourning clothing as a way to send off the Gusu Lan disciple and prevent people from tampering with their corpses after they were buried. Usually, the Cloudweavers who had sewn the clothing of the disciple would be in attendance, and Lan Lianyi had an uncomfortable feeling. It is unlikely to be a child, as the news would spread really quickly. It did not take long before she realised whose ‘funeral’ they were attending.
As the Cloudweaver in-charge of forehead ribbons, it is common for their embroidery to not get passed down, as all Gusu Lan disciples are buried with their forehead ribbons. The oldest person she had sewn for so far could only be Madam Lan. Indeed, Lan Qiren was there when they arrived. No one else from the main family was there, not even the children. They usually don’t do normal funeral practices as commoners do, for they know what happens in death after all. Upon completing the cleansing ceremony, she watched the disciples lower Madam Lan into the coffin. Watching the coffin be carried off in the distance, Lan Lianyi sighed as they dispersed. On their way back, Lan Lianyi would stare at the gentian house, which used to be lit at night, now extinguished.
In the day, life continued as per normal. They said the Madam Lan had passed away from an illness. Lan Lianyi did not doubt that, having recalled how frail Madam Lan was when she had previously visited. Her children are so young, yet now she had to leave them behind… Usually, all the robes of the Gusu Lan children were usually sewn by their mothers or Cloudweavers if their mothers are unable to. It pained her to sew clothes for the ones who did not have mothers. Now adding two more to that number… At the side, she watched some of the toddler children being cared for by their mothers. Lan Lianyi is fortunate she has her mother, really. They are the ones who hold up half the sky for their children.
Indeed, she could see how affected the two children were. Lan Huan seemed more solemn than usual. Thus, it should not have surprised her to see a child kneeling in front of the house surrounded by gentians. Stepping closer, she recognised him. Lan Lianyi had seen Lan Zhan working hard in class, and heard the praises from his teachers whenever she walked past the classrooms. She then kneels down beside him.
“Would you want me to wait with you?” Lan Zhan shakes his head. “I see. Please remember to take care of yourself.” It is not her place to tell him what to do, and so she leaves the boy alone.
A week later, she finds the boy standing in front of the Cloudweaver Abode. When he saw her, he immediately walked over to her. She notices he had a forehead ribbon in his hands.
“Hello! Is there any request you have of me? I’m the Cloudweaver in-charge of forehead ribbons.” All official requests had to be sent through the abode, but there are times where some Gusu Lan disciples had preferences for who they wanted to engage, or unsure who was the Cloudweaver in-charge.
“Can you sew gentians on it please?” His earnest eyes surprised her, and he held the forehead ribbon up with his two hands.
“Of course. I’ll sew them for you as soon as possible.” Lan Lianyi smiles.
“Thank you.” He bowed, before leaving.
From then onwards, all the forehead ribbons she had sewn for Lan Wangji would have gentians sewn on the inner side. Although, it did amuse her when she overheard how some disciple from another sect had pulled off his forehead ribbon sometime later. She wonders if the boy would find his fated, and how would his fated think of the gentians.
The next major event of her life would have to be the Sunshot Campaign. Lan Lianyi tries not to think about how the Cloud Recesses burned on that day. She had managed to preserve the Cloudweaver Records, as did Lan Xichen managed to save all of the Library Pavilion. But they lost many of their kin, which meant she had to help bury many of them. She slowly helps with the Cloud Recesses’ rebuilding, and watched the sect prepare for war. She remembers how her hands constantly hurt not from the harsh work of mending clothes, but from desperately trying to improve the incantations in the outer robes, like creating them to help aid healing or at the very least trap their leaking qi to improve the chances of survival for the young disciples sent off to war...
She shakes her head, locking those awful memories away. The dark times are now far behind them. After eating breakfast, Lan Lianyi immediately heads to their silkworm farms to check on their production cycle with the Cloudweaver apprentices. Then, they head to the Cloudweaver’s Abode, where all requests for fittings or changes for Gusu Lan clothing are submitted to. The building is large enough to house all of the sewing looms, and multiple rolls of cloth and silk. It also has some beds in the event where they have to work overtime in completing their deadlines. A small mailbox rests outside, with a small perch for messenger birds to rest when they have messages to deliver. Approaching the box, Lan Lianyi checks if anyone had slipped in any request. Lan Lianyi does make it a habit to check her requests at both the beginning and end of the day, in the event that there is a need for emergency sewing. Fortunately, urgent requests are rare.
If a request comes in without any instructions, she would set it aside so she can find the person personally to ask about the request again. Finding some, she then lists them down on her booklet after confirming their preferences or lack of preferences. She then assigns the Cloudweaver apprentices to their work. Now that she has some time, she can catch up on her requests, or work on other projects. As a Cloudweaver, part of her responsibilities also includes implementing the incantations in each Gusu Lan outer robe. All outer robes have incantations on them, even for the children. The younger children’s robes usually had protective properties enchanted into them.
When they do begin on night hunts, that is when the disciples have to receive an upgrade in their robes with improved incantations. To save time, the disciples themselves usually send the measurements ahead of their first night hunt to the Abode. Then, she and her colleagues will complete all the outer jackets and completely enchant them in the months before their night hunt arrives. They are usually skilled enough to take into account how fast these disciples will grow and in the event of a mismatch, they will resew it as soon as possible. Wrongly measured robes that are still wearable are still fortunately usable as temporary clothing. It does annoy her when she had to chase for measurements or if multiple mistakes were made.
Speaking of wasted material, Lan Lianyi realized that it is the beginning of the month and decides to check their inventories for the month in the storage room. The sect, though affluent, is pretty frugal in their spending. Sometimes, they inevitably do have wasted cloth, and Lan Lianyi loathes that. When they do have leftover cloth, Lan Lianyi would always ask if they can repurpose them as pouches, sachets, or simple ribbons on accessories such as the sword tassel. These items are simple and does not break the sect rule of extreme extravagance.
After checking the inventory, Lan Lianyi determines that a trip to Caiyi Town will be necessary, and sets aside some time to head down later in the afternoon. She only has one class today, so it shouldn’t be hard. She then looks at her requests. As the Cloudweaver in-charge of forehead ribbons, all requests regarding the ribbon must go to her. She soon realizes that the formal forehead ribbon ceremony is to be conducted soon, and checks that all the ribbons are in order. Compared to the ones conducted at the age of five and three, these ribbons must all be newly sewn, as this formal forehead ribbon will remain with them for the rest of their lives.
The length would not hinder their movement too much by then. Many of the parents and siblings of the children would attend. Of course, the disciples can still make changes to it if necessary, and all requests have to go through her. Each disciple gets three forehead ribbons, and can only request for more if they lost them. Thankfully, disciples are usually not careless with them. Sewing one from scratch takes a lot of time and patience, but Lan Lianyi enjoys the requests where people ask for a new one. The next time they get another forehead ribbon would be for their crowning ceremony or weddings, which coincidentally is the only time the sect is willing to splurge on them.
Crowning ceremonies are much easier than weddings as it is usually an individual ceremony. Just a fresh new set of clothes and a new forehead ribbon is needed, tailored nicely to the person. When people married into the clan, things would get busy. Firstly, the wedding robes must be sewn solely by the Cloudweavers, and they have to be in red. New shoes must be made as well. Another forehead ribbon must be sewn for the Gusu Lan disciple getting married. It was slightly easier if the bride married in, as they usually had their own robes for weddings. The Cloudweavers would enhance the robe, and make the veil.
If the female disciple married out, then only one set had to be made. Red with cloud patterns, with some gold accents if they felt like it or if requested. When it came to two Gusu Lan disciples or same-sex marriages, that meant everything for both partners must be made from scratch. If the Gusu Lan disciple was from the main family, that meant even more sewing of the cloud patterns on all over their robes. Particularly, Lan Wangji’s wedding was the most recent back-breaking wedding they had to prepare for.
Same-sex marriages are uncommon in the Gusu Lan but there was a precedence for these marriages. After all, there was once a wedding between two Cloudweavers some time ago. However, they usually meant double the work. Making two almost identical robes was the easy part; the hard part was how to differentiate between both marriage partners without being too similar. Lan Lianyi and the other Cloudweavers welcomed the challenge, finding that it tested their creativity. Surprisingly, it was actually not boring as compared to disciple weddings. After all, how often do you even get to prepare for a wedding of lovers who are of the same sex?
Come to think of it, it had been two months since the wedding. Lan Lianyi then realised that they had yet to finish the Gusu Lan robes for Hanguang-jun’s spouse, the Yiling Patriarch, Wei Wuxian. Surprisingly, Lan Wangji had yet to chase them for it. Having briefly seen the couple interact during wedding preparations, she did not seem surprised. The Yiling Patriarch seemed so upbeat and carefree that having the five-layered robes would weigh him down badly. Fortunately, Hanguang-jun had sent in the measurements, so that allowed her and the other Cloudweavers to slowly work on it without having to rush. It felt nice not having an urgent deadline. Rarely did the Yiling Patriarch attend formal events, which required formal Gusu Lan attire. Still, Lan Lianyi felt that they were taking too long to give him his set of Gusu Lan clothing.
She suspects the rule forbidding interaction with him to blame for the delay. It gives her a headache, knowing the Gusu Lan rules had increased by a thousand in the past thirteen years. She wished Lan Qiren would please properly review the rules. Even those in the same sect follow the rules differently, so why can’t that stiff jerk be more lenient? In fact, she has to make sure all Cloudweaver apprentices relax their stance on the rules or else dismiss them, regardless of their aptitude in sewing or cultivation. All she cares about is that they have a good attitude because being a Cloudweaver is also a humble job. They are constantly working for others, and having a ‘holier than thou’ attitude would ruin that. That’s why she has to weed the unsuitable ones out of the apprenticeship.
She pressed her temple, while putting a reminder to get the Cloudweavers to speed up Wei Wuxian’s robes. The Cloudweavers usually split the work between them, and they each specialized in their own area aside from the protective outer jacket. Lan Lianyi specialized in the forehead ribbon, while another would be responsible for shoes or boots, another made winter clothing and many more. Of course, all Cloudweavers should know how to make all of the items. If there is a surge in demand for one of the items, they would all work together to relieve the workload. Fortunately for her, rarely does she get overwhelming demand for forehead ribbons, as she can continually make spares in her free time, just leaving them before stitching in the cloud patterns for the main branch. For the guest disciples, she could just cut up a white roll of cloth and call it a day.
Seeing that she has ample time, Lan Lianyi then packs all her things and sets off to find the Yiling Patriarch, knowing that he would be easier to find than him figuring out where she lived. He probably didn’t know she existed. Since she already had the measurements, she just wanted to ask him if he had any preferences for his forehead ribbon. Indeed, she is not surprised to see a happy-go-lucky man, dressed in black, resting in the small gardens as she approached the jingshi. He stuck out like a sore thumb in his black robes when all the Gusu Lan members wore white.
“Good morning, may I ask if you are Wei Wuxian?” He immediately got up and grinned at her.
“Oh! I didn’t expect a visitor. Yes, that’d be me. Is there something you need from me? It’s rare for me to see a female Gusu Lan disciple, much less a senior one.” Wei Wuxian placed his hands behind his head. “You look really young and beautiful, but no one can beat my Lan Zhan!” Lan Lianyi remained unfazed, used to his joyful banter when she had been present for the wedding preparations.
“My name is Lan Lianyi, a senior Cloudweaver. We are responsible for sewing all of the Gusu Lan robes.” She bows and introduces herself. “I believe we have met briefly when we were preparing your wedding robes, but today is our first formal meeting.”
“Ah, thank you so much for sewing the wedding robes for us! They were lovely.” Wei Wuxian sincerely bowed. She smiles in response, glad that the robes made them happy. “Although, what brings you here today? Lan Zhan didn’t say anything about this...” he muttered.
She couldn’t deny that it was difficult to get in touch with Lan Wangji, given his busy schedule. Servants usually did the work of delivering the clothing after all. Plus, she had to admit, Hanguang-jun spoils his spouse a little too much. But remembering his mother, she decided to let it go. Scrutinizing the young boyish man in front of her, if anyone told her he was the Yiling Patriarch who committed several heinous crimes, she would not have believed them. But even so, she will sew robes for him, because he is a member of the Gusu Lan now. She must be fair and impartial to everyone, because while you come into the world naked, you cannot possibly die without clothing on, for it gives dignity.
Though she did hear of the rumours about how Wei Wuxian possessed Lan Wangji to love him, she couldn’t be bothered about them. Lan Wangji is a grown adult, she had seen him grown up and she trusts that he knows what he is doing. She honestly thinks it’s ridiculous that not just that Lan Qiren, but even the whole cultivation world wanted to control who he married. What ever happened to finding your fated one? When did Lan An even say your fated one had to be a good person? If the Yiling Patriarch is the young Lan Wangji’s fated one, what were they going to do about it? Change it? Love isn’t something you can control. Lan Lianyi bets that if Lan An was here, he would have approved of their love. Following the rules did not guarantee you a spouse to begin with! Lan Wangji just followed his heart, and he should not be punished for it.
Seeing Wei Wuxian’s smile and being accepted by the younger disciples, she heaves a sigh of relief. This is far better than being locked up as Madam Lan was. So she lets the pampering go, believing that as long as the Gusu Lan member in question is happy, then they should let them do as they please.
“It is fine, I was the one who came unannounced. Please don’t worry.” She reassures him. “Firstly, I would like to apologise for the delay of your Gusu Lan robes. I will assure you they will be done before the next Discussion Conference or formal family banquet.”
“That’s fine! I don’t think I’ll be wearing it any time soon. How’s the progress though?” Wei Wuxian asked.
“We are about halfway done. The inner robes are done, we are just left with the outer ones and the shoes would be done in about a week. Secondly, I would like to ask for your input on your forehead ribbon.” Wei Wuxian shot her a confused look. “I am in charge of making the forehead ribbons,” she explained.
“Woah, you are the one who sews the forehead ribbons!?” Wei Wuxian exclaimed, and she nods. “Amazing! Did you make Lan Zhan’s as well?”
“Yes. Sect Leader’s forehead ribbon was sewn by me as well,” she stated matter-of-factly.
Lan Lianyi didn’t care who she sewed for, as long as they were Gusu Lan members and the ribbon had an owner. Main family or not, they were all part of the same sect. She had wondered if Lan Wangji would be able to ask for anything more ever since, with the presence of someone he loves with his entire being.
“Ooh, that’s neat! But why are you here though? Don’t you usually just give the forehead ribbons and be done with it?” Wei Wuxian asked, confused.
“It is easy for guest disciples, but it’s different for family members.” Wei Wuxian blinked at that, surprised. “You married into the family, and thus I consider you as family.” She explained.
“T-Thanks. I am aware I am not really the ideal spouse or the ideal family member.” He nervously admits.
“That doesn’t matter. He chose you for a reason, and I believe in his decision to marry you. You are family now, whether Lan Qiren likes it or not.” Wei Wuxian looked at her in complete surprise. “At any rate, I came today because I want to sew the forehead ribbon according to your wishes, if any.”
“Eh? You mean you can actually customize them?”
“Yes, but only on the inner side. I came here today for the sole purpose of asking if you have any specific requests for your forehead band, young master. The outer area of the band must all look the same, but the inner ones can be customized to your liking.”
“Oh, I see. Please, come on in, you must be cold! I’ll see if there’s some tea to serve you. Please sit here.” He guided her to the study.
Rarely did most disciples get access to the jingshi. The last time she came here, it was when… Lan Wangji had disobeyed the elders and was recuperating from his punishment. Sect Leader Lan Xichen had requested her to make a robe that could help with relieving injuries, and she did. Sometime after that, a request for two sets of toddler clothing came through, and they fulfilled the request no questions asked. Aside from that, there almost hadn’t been any request from the two Jades ever since. She then began opening her bag and laid out some sample forehead ribbons on the table in front of her, surprising the cultivator in black when he returned from making tea.
“Wow, are these some of the forehead ribbons you made? They look beautiful! It’s a shame you can’t display these.” He then placed a cup of tea near her, and the teapot on the table.
“It is fine. What matters is that the people themselves are happy with it. It is the first thing they see in the morning and the last thing they see at night.” Lan Lianyi answers.
“Woah, I wasn’t expecting that. You are really a serious Lan, but also different from most of the disciples. You’re not as stiff.” He then pointed at a ribbon which had written characters sewn on it. “For my ribbon… Could you stitch Wangxian on the ribbon?”
“Please write the characters so I can bring it back for me to stitch.” She took out a piece of paper, and he immediately went to get the ink. “At the same time, you can try designing some things so I may embroider it right next to the characters. I will do my best to replicate them. Please do keep it simple as there is no ample space for me to stitch them.” Then, she started to sip the tea he offered as he began to prepare the ink.
“Ahh, okay. Hmm, could you stitch some rabbits on it as well?” She blinked at that request, before nodding.
That’s… oddly cute of him. And definitely his fated person. Lan Lianyi recalls a time where a young Lan Wangji shyly asked to add rabbits to his ribbon. She then began keeping the sample forehead ribbons she had laid out on the table and watched him write out the characters on the paper. She remembers Wei Wuxian was one of the top talents of his generation, as the fourth most handsome cultivator, and talented in the six arts. On the other hand, she did hear of frustrations of his subpar handwriting from Lan Qiren’s rampages whenever Wei Wuxian did copy the rules. So she did not have much expectations for his handwriting. She had dealt with worse handwriting anyway, from some suppliers who wrote so hastily it took her a long time to decipher them.
Fortunately for her sanity, it seemed that he put in the effort to write ‘忘羨’ neatly. Not a single stroke was rushed, nor were there any connected tails or anything. It was definitely beautiful. If someone took this and showed Lan Qiren, claiming this was Wei Wuxian’s handiwork, he would not have believed them. As he began to try and paint some simple iterations of a rabbit that could fit on a forehead ribbon, she slowly wondered why those two characters in particular. Forget envy? What meaning does it have? It ought to have a special meaning. Was it that they had to forget the envy of others? They are powerful cultivators and do have their fair share of haters.
But judging from how Wei Wuxian behaved so far, it is unlikely he would put it that kind of meaning. He doesn’t need a reminder of that. She had heard of the story of how they got together. It was a story that a lot of female cultivators really enjoyed talking about, and certainly the kind that would appeal to that boy who had to come and ask for a spare robe since his robe got destroyed in some night hunt about a year ago. Well, from experience, people usually put in poems that expressed their love if they were married to their loved one… Ah, I see. Lan Wangji, Wei Wuxian. It was the combination of their names. Smart and saves a lot of space as well. As expected of the Yiling Patriarch. She likes how succinct this is, since stitching a lot of characters on the thin forehead ribbon was very difficult.
“You are quite the brooder, huh?” Wei Wuxian broke the silence, and she coughed.
“Yes. I am aware that I do not make for a good conversationalist.” Lan Lianyi honestly answered. “Are they any other requests you have?” Just then, he finishes drawing and he passes the paper over to show her.
Hmm, he’s decent at art. There were some simple bunnies on it, and depictions of lotuses. She then takes out her booklet and flipped to the page for this request. Wei Wuxian pondered, before breaking the silence.
“Say, could you sew me a sturdy and soft one?”
“Sure, but exactly under what circumstances are you using it for?” She grew confused, before it dawned on her.
Lan Lianyi remembers the times whence she glimpsed the both of them kissing during wedding preparations. Wherever they went, they constantly engaged in acts of public affection. The Cloudweavers were touched by how gently Lan Wangji treated Wei Wuxian, so much so that they did not mind. Then, she recalls the one time Hanguang-jun had sent in a ribbon asking for more sturdiness and softness soon after he came back from eloping with Wei Wuxian… Lan Lianyi immediately sighed. It shouldn't have surprised her. There had been some records of former Cloudweavers who mentioned how some disciples... used their forehead ribbons in the bedroom. So yes, if the disciples dared to ask, they did have what it takes to make it suitable for that purpose.
“Duly noted. Though in that case, please tell your husband that if he has any changes he would like to make to his forehead ribbon, I will be welcome to make the changes. I had failed to realise that those were his actual needs.”
“I’m sorry…” Wei Wuxian sheepishly scratched his head.
“It is fine.”
Just then, Lan Wangji stepped into the jingshi, and she immediately stands up to greet him.
“Greetings, Hanguang-jun. I am Lan Lianyi, from the Cloudweaver division. I am the Cloudweaver in charge of the forehead ribbons.” He nods as Wei Wuxian hopped his way over to hug Lan Wangji. “I came today to discuss with your spouse in regards to how he would like the inner side of the forehead ribbon to be designed.” Wei Wuxian then pulled his husband over to the table.
“Look Lan Zhan! This is what I’m going to put on the forehead ribbon! I know I won’t be wearing it soon, but I really like how it looks!” Though Lan Wangji seemed stone-faced, Lan Lianyi could tell that Lan Wangji’s ‘aura’ had became somewhat lighter when he saw what Wei Wuxian had drawn for his forehead ribbon.
“Please… sew rabbits on it.” Lan Wangji requested, somewhat reluctant.
“Sure. Forgive me for asking this, but it seems you have found someone you love?” He did not answer. “It’s understandable, you wouldn’t want me to know about it since I’ll have to sew it on for you. I hope the person will return your affections one day.” Lan Wangji then thanked her and walked off in a flustered manner.
Lan Lianyi smiled. That’s good. His mother would be so happy.
“If you would like, I will make the necessary changes for your forehead ribbon as well, Hanguang-jun,” she suggested.
“Also, next time, do inform us if you have specific requests in regards to your ribbon.” Lan Wangji nearly flinched at that, and Wei Wuxian laughed out loud.
Lan Wangji then went into the bedroom to retrieve the forehead ribbon, and Lan Lianyi takes the opportunity to pack up her things, especially the design Wei Wuxian made. She carefully folds the piece of paper as she keeps it in her bag.
“Would you like to join us for a meal? It is nearing lunchtime, and we could discuss a bit more on the forehead ribbons’ design.” Wei Wuxian offered when Lan Wangji came back with a spare forehead ribbon.
“Speech is forbidden during dining.” Both she and Lan Wangji blurted out loud, making Wei Wuxian laugh.
Even when she negotiated with her suppliers, she rarely ate when they discussed.
“She’s almost like a female version of you, Lan Zhan, except she’s a seamstress and that you’re much more handsome and younger!” Wei Wuxian chirped, before he soon yelped, and Lan Lianyi raised an eyebrow at this.
“Please make the necessary adjustments and take care of it.” Lan Wangji then handed the forehead ribbon to Lan Lianyi with both hands.
The process of handing over forehead ribbons had to be done carefully. Lan An had stated that one cannot easily give another permission to touch it. The disciple must hand it over to the Cloudweaver to make the adjustment, and clearly state what they are allowed to do to the ribbon, especially if they are already married to their fated one. If the Cloudweaver betrays the trust of the disciple, they will be severely punished per the clan rules. This even predated the founding of the Cloudweavers, and the reason why the tradition of giving the fated one’s forehead ribbon must also involve tying it to complete one’s confession of their feelings.
“It is clear that you treat it well, seeing that it is still in good condition. I will not betray your trust and will treat it as you wish.” Lan Lianyi then takes the ribbon, and they both bow.
After taking the ribbon, Lan Lianyi carefully folds the ribbon, treating it as a very important object she should not be touching. Though many envied her position as it appeared lax on the outside, it also meant that whatever embroidery left behind by her predecessor was sparse. Forehead ribbons were precious, and were buried with their owners or burned if the owner was lost. It pained her to know that her mother’s handiwork for the older elders, would disappear in a few years, just as hers would eventually. Both of them watched her as she kept the ribbon into a small box, then into her bag.
“The next time I visit, the robes will most likely be ready, so I will bring it over then together with the forehead ribbons. Please have a nice day, and I will now take my leave.” She makes a deep bow, and leaves.
The moment she returned to the abode, she sets herself back to work. First, Lan Wangji’s forehead ribbon must be washed before she could make any adjustments to it. After washing it and leaving it to dry, she then begins on Wei Wuxian’s forehead ribbon. Before that, she needs to test out whether the pattern would work by using an older prototype forehead ribbon that an apprentice made but failed to make the cut. Once she finishes making the design after mimicking the one on the paper, she then carefully picks one of the recent ribbons she made, and began to slowly stitch. For Wei Wuxian, she decides to make two forehead ribbons, and a spare one for Hanguang-jun in addition to the one he sent in for adjustments.
During the lunch break, she informs the other senior Cloudweavers of the tasks to finish, with a reminder to finish the robes. They slowly plan their schedules with each other for the rest of the week and plan for who needed the most apprentices to help with their workloads. They would soon inherit their legacy, so they needed some practice as well. Afterwards, she conducts her lesson on incantations to the apprentices by using some of the recent requests to demonstrate how she does it on clothing. Ribbons are fantastic teaching tools, for they are small and not time-consuming to enchant. Furthermore, she had plenty of old cloth to reuse anyway.
Once lessons have finished, she takes her apprentices and heads down to one of the shops at Caiyi Town. The owner happily greets her, having known her for years. As she assigns her apprentices to complete the shopping list, she looks around for some cloth. Although they produced their silk in-house, not all clothing needed to be sewn with silk. For some night hunts, disguises are necessary, so they might get plain cloth. Not many disciples request for it, but it’s an option if they felt lazy to go to a random embroider.
Furthermore, before the apprentices can begin to sew their specially made silk, they needed to practice on ordinary cloth. Other times, they would come to get wood or other sewing materials to make their own looms, as transporting looms up a mountain is clearly a bad idea. Lan Lianyi buys a red dye, and thinking about Wei Wuxian’s robes, she decides to buy a black roll of cloth as well.
Frugal as they are, they will not skimp on quality. Though he did not request for it, she figured that it would still be neat to give him a proper set of clothing that he would still use. She remembers how Hanguang-jun asked for a set of clean black robes a year ago and it shocked all of the Cloudweavers back then. They didn’t think much of his request, believing it to be for a one-time night hunt use and had sewn a plain one for him. They had been buried in sewing newer robes for the juniors who returned on that same night hunt to even bother enchanting it. Now that it is clear who the robe went to, Lan Lianyi believes that Wei Wuxian should not be wearing unprotected clothing.
Upon returning back for dinner, the remaining time till curfew, she spends it sewing and stitching. After she completes the stitching, which involves the main family’s clouds on the front, she would try to demonstrate the incantation process during lessons in full view of the disciples for the next day. Usually, she draws out the circle and places it on a paper as large as a mahjong table. Then, she will place the ribbon in the middle of the array and begins injecting spiritual energy into it. The array would then seep into the ribbon once the array stops glowing for about an hour. This process was certainly shorter than say, doing the incantations for the outer robes, which required at least sixteen hours of preparation and leaving the robe in the array for a day.
For Wei Wuxian’s outer robe, this was exactly what she had to do. Formal wear still required incantations, and Lan Lianyi reconsidered whether to implement the one that warded off low-levelled corpses since he would not have to wear it to night hunts, unlike most disciples. Considering his personality, dirt resistance is a must. She carefully plans out all the incantations she must apply, as they cannot conflict and must be applied in a specific order without affecting the other incantations. After thinking of what features Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji would want in the robe, she sets out the arrays.
Often, she does experiment with arrays on clothing, and deemed it a way to improve her incantation skills. With the extra set of black clothing, she decided to take the opportunity to test them out. Protection from hard, sharp objects is one of them, followed by aided healing when spiritual energy is injected into it, then the usual incantation of warding off corpses. Dirt resistance is not that important for black robes, but she does it for the inner robe which is white. She ensures that the robe has enough pockets to store items and his flute, as well as for his sword. She also makes the matching pair of shoes in her spare time since this is not officially commissioned.
On each item, she carefully stitches the name ‘Wei Wuxian’ on them. This is standard practice for all Gusu Lan robes; they must have the owner’s name somewhere on their clothing. It was a necessary practice in the event the cultivator is mauled to the point where it is difficult to identify the body. It can get problematic if disciples of the same stature swap clothing, so she needs to make the robes in a way that it would only be specially attuned to the person wearing it for the first time. Thus, this would make it hard for disciples to swap out clothing or if someone goes rogue, they would not be able to pin crimes on some innocent disciple. Furthermore, each disciple has three spare robes or more if they wanted, as long as they took good care of their clothing.
It helps that Wei Wuxian’s normal set of clothing only had three layers, so she finished it faster than the Gusu Lan robes. Now for the incantation for the ribbons. Once she managed to set aside some time for the process, she proceeds to do a demonstration in front of the disciples. Part of the reason for doing this was to help evaluate the level of her apprentices, whether if anyone was able to discern the arrays she used. Indeed, some actually did catch on the intended purpose upon seeing the array.
“Teacher, I have a question about these arrays…” the apprentice spoke up.
“Is there any issue with it?” Lan Lianyi asks as the incantation process continued.
“No, the array is perfectly done and had enchanted the ribbon. It’s just so strange. Why would this array exist? For what purpose would it be...” she did not dare to complete the sentence.
Ah, the sweet joys of innocence. If only they knew who the ribbons belonged to...
“You don’t have to be ashamed. I believe many of you are aware that my philosophy in making these clothing is to ensure they suit the owner’s wishes and requests to the best of my ability. This array exists because there is a demand for it. In fact, this particular array can be found in the Cloudweaver Records. So yes, there had been a precedent. Disciples will come and ask for it, and they won’t be the first nor the last people to request for these, understand? What they do with it is none of our business, but rather whether the ribbon suits their needs. If I may add, think of it as a challenge. Never judge the task. If you can’t do it, the task will go to another sewer. However, do report if the array or request is out of hand, and the senior Cloudweaver will handle it.” The apprentices nodded.
Inappropriate requests involve demonic cultivation, which is very rare anyway in the morally upright Gusu Lan. She had to admit the Yiling Patriarch did create a demand for that. Any demonic cultivation request had them forwarding the person to Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian for them to handle as standard protocol. They would make sure to put a stop to that. But there have been impossible to fulfil requests, like explosive properties or poison. They are meant to help support in creating good armour, not weapons. They would report to the respective higher-ups or the disciple in-charge of discipline.
Once all the items were prepared, she needed another Cloudweaver not involved in the sewing to check the quality of the robes and that everything is in order. Upon receiving the clearance to deliver it, it is already evening, so she quickly gets some apprentices to help her. Rarely do they do direct deliveries, as the servants would do it, but seeing that Wei Wuxian was the husband of Lan Wangji, a member of the main family, they had to give him the same level of respect. The robes were carefully placed into boxes and carried over to the jingshi.
Some of the disciples looked surprised to see a group of female cultivators walk through the males’ quarters of the Cloud Recesses. When they arrived at the jingshi, the apprentices only entered to deliver the clothing and stood outside afterwards. Lan Lianyi then walks into the jingshi with her personal apprentices, meeting Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian once more.
“Wow… what a grand parade, just for clothes.” Her two apprentices glared at him, and she raised her hand, telling them to stop.
Clearly, anyone who stuck closely to the rules would be appalled by Wei Wuxian’s behaviour.
“There were a lot of things to transport, which is why they are here. Please do not mind them. Apologies for our sudden visit, but the Gusu Lan robes have been complete. We will place it here for your convenience. Please check if there are any issues with the clothing, and send it back as soon as possible for amendments.” Lan Lianyi spoke, and Wei Wuxian stood stiffly as Lan Wangji checked the item.
Taking it out of the box, the sheen almost blinding them. Smooth and silky, all the intricate patterns sewn in, not a string out of place. Lan Wangji carefully inspects all corners of the robes, before keeping it in the box. Wei Wuxian stared at the white robes, and Lan Lianyi suspects he’s trying to visualize himself wearing them.
“Thank you for your service. The clothing is satisfactory.” Lan Wangji then keeps the box, and both of them stare at the other box.
“What’s that box for? Wasn’t there only one robe?” Wei Wuxian asked, confused.
“Ah, this is not part of the Gusu Lan robes, so don’t worry about that.” Wei Wuxian sweated at the inane number of layers he would have to wear if the robes needed two boxes. “This was something I thought would be a necessary addition, but since this was not requested, I will take them back if you don’t want them.” Wei Wuxian stared at her, and his eyes widened when Lan Lianyi takes out black robes from the box, down to the ones he was wearing.
“No way.” Wei Wuxian said in disbelief as he walked over to take a closer look.
It’s almost as if Lan Lianyi had walked right into the jingshi and ran away with one of his clothing. Except, he was sure none of his clothes had gone missing, and Lan Wangji made sure of that. The clothing looks very new as well. He turned to look at Lan Wangji, who looked confused as well.
“After gathering information from the disciples you take to night hunts, and considering that you are Lan Wangji’s husband, I decided to sew a new set of clothing that is tailored to your needs. I am sorry I could not get your input as I had other clothing to sew. This was made in my spare time and is intended to be a replacement for your current set of black robes. They have multiple incantations on them to ensure your safety in night hunts.” She then lists the incantations she had applied to the robe. “This was simply experimental, and I did make it as a prototype for the Gusu Lan sect uniform.” Wei Wuxian gaped as he carefully took the robes from her and scrutinized it.
He touched the soft material, feeling how new it was, and almost squealed, as though he got a new toy. Lan Lianyi enjoyed sewing for this sole purpose of watching the people receive them. Madam Lan did enjoy getting a new set of clothes too, if I recall. She dug into her memories, smiling. They would be overjoyed and looked forward to wearing new clothes, like any other person would feel getting new clothes for Chinese New Year. Wei Wuxian then turned to Lan Wangji.
“You sure you didn’t plan this, Lan Zhan?!” Lan Wangji shook his head, and Wei Wuxian turned to Lan Lianyi. “Thank you so much, this is just perfect! You even sewed my name perfectly! Could you do the same for all my other clothes?” He requested.
“At most, two to three more if you let me alter them.” Wei Wuxian then rushed inside the private quarters, leaving them alone in the study.
“You did not have to.” Lan Wangji said.
“Consider it as compensation for the delayed robes. Speaking of which, your robes might be due for renewing the incantations, but do note it will take more time.” Lan Lianyi answered and he nodded.
After the apprentices collected the robes and articles of clothing that needed to be adjusted, they then left with the clothing. Lan Lianyi carefully takes out a box she had been carrying in her bag and places it on the table.
“Finally, I have made the necessary adjustments for your forehead ribbons.” She opens the box, displaying their completed forehead ribbons in front of them.
In total, there were four forehead ribbons. One old, three new. Lan Lianyi specifically hands the old one back to Lan Wangji personally, and a new one for Wei Wuxian to accept. The couple slowly turned it over to the inner side to examine it. Their fingers caressed the soft silky material, and the neat stitching of the characters ‘忘羨’ and the additional decorative parts including the rabbits, lotuses as requested. They do the same for the other forehead ribbons, overjoyed. Lan Lianyi smiles at this.
“Thank you.” Lan Wangji bows, while Wei Wuxian shoots her a big grin.
“Thank you so much for doing this!”
“You are welcome, and it is my job after all.” Wei Wuxian then began to sip the tea. “Though, I would suggest to please try it out at night for better results.” Lan Lianyi grinned, and Wei Wuxian nearly spits out his tea.
He coughed, and Lan Wangji patted his back, unfazed as Lan Lianyi got up, preparing to leave.
“Do note that this visit was an exception, and your next batch of items will be delivered by the servants instead. We might not get to meet often as I have many other duties to attend to. Another reminder I must give is that all requests must be submitted to the Cloudweaver Abode, and we will follow up accordingly.” Lan Lianyi reminds them as she packs up her items.
“Was this an exception because I am so amazing you had to come and meet me?!” Wei Wuxian cheerfully jokes, and she chuckles.
“Maybe?” Wei Wuxian is almost like an enjoyable child.
“Do you think it’d be possible for me to find you if I want to discuss more about the kinds of arrays to be implemented on the robes?” Wei Wuxian asked.
“That can be arranged. Of course, you still need to write in to the abode for any official requests and appointments.” She did not expect him to be interested in her experiments. “Please have a nice day.” Lan Lianyi bows, and leaves.
After a few steps, she looks behind to glance at the jingshi. She hopes that more Gusu Lan disciples would find happiness just as the couple did. Upon walking past the house of gentians, she paused to take a bow towards it. I am sure you are happy that he has found the happiness he deserved. I hope you will continue to protect them. Turning in the direction of the hanshi, Lan Lianyi hoped that Lan Xichen will eventually heal. And may he too, be able to find his happiness in this lifetime.
Lan Lianyi knows that it is wrong to be too invested with people, as her mother warned. It pains when the people she cares for will pass on. But at least, when they are still around, they can still share their happiness and woes. She then returns to her quarters. Today she has finished what she set out to do. Tomorrow will be more sewing of other items and teaching of the next generation of cultivators. For that, she will continue to sew for as long as she lived.