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The Long and Winding Road

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It was like an eclipse had descended upon the Qishan Wen Discussion Conference's archery competition. The occurrence arrived in the form of an individual dressed in robes of black and red. It casted a shadow onto Wen Ruohan’s nightless domain—blanketing everything around them in its dark shroud. The marvel was a sight to behold as it danced in front of Wen Ruohan and he was left somewhat speechless to have been able to encounter it for the second time in his life.

The obscure wonder stood below him, on the archery field in the form of a Jiang Sect disciple. And if Wen Ruohan concentrated hard enough—he could smell that the youth was an omega—and a gregarious one at that. His scent was light and airy, powdered with the gentle sweetness of lotus flowers. Oh, how the aroma whiffing through the breeze began to blur Wen Ruohan’s senses and he just about growled with raw yearning from where he sat up high in his seat.

The scent Wen Ruohan began to emit made the other Sect Leaders stir and they turned to look up in wary of him. Nie Mingjue (another alpha) seemed to react strongly to the release of pheromones dripping off of Wen Ruohan. His natural instincts instantly gauged the thickening odor in the air as a challenge in contrast to his much older peers and it didn’t help that his hatred for Wen Ruohan and the Qishan Wen Sect as a whole was deeply rooted in his very soul. It took great efforts for Jiang Fengmian and Lan Qiren to calm the younger Nie Sect Leader down and by the time he was forced into his seat, the tension in the air was at an all-time high for everyone within the vicinity.

When the disciples began to assemble together and he saw the youth take his place in line—Wen Ruohan knew immediately who the teen in question was. The omega was none other than the rumored head disciple of Yunmeng Jiang Sect, Wei Wuxian. It was a wonder how Wen Ruohan was so drawn to him—the teen was the spitting image of his mother, he thought himself as he watched the youth grin from ear to ear. His laughter was like a faded memory of Cangse SanRen that sent chills running up his spine. And best of all, with Wei Wuxian being an omega, he was fertile and blossoming right before his very eyes and Wen Ruohan wanted him—desired him more than anything else in that very moment.

As the opening announcements commenced, the rules laid out and the groups for each sect were readying themselves to enter through the array and into the stone forest—Wen Chao suddenly stood up boldly to point out a distant relative, Wen Ning. The second son of Wen Ruohan didn’t see any merit in letting the teen represent their sect in the competition and he made his statements on the boy known for everyone to hear.

Wen Ruohan cared very little for the dispute his son was making; choosing instead to simply ignore it. Should Wen Chao make a fool of himself—it was best to leave him to his humiliation, Wen Ruohan thought to himself. However, it was quickly made obvious that one person did not share the same sentiment as his son as Wei Wuxian stepped forward to make his opposition on Wen Ning’s removal from the competition heard in response. Wen Ruohan’s interest in Wei Wuxian would only increase from there and the alpha in him just about purred from the display of defiance. Despite Wei Wuxian’s lowly status as an omega, the teen didn’t submit to his sorry excuse of an alpha for a son.

Unfortunately for Wen Ning, the beta was hardly able to prove himself when asked to demonstrate his skills in archery and thus he was pulled aside from joining his fellow clansmen on the field. Wen Chao’s expression turned smug afterwards, having proved Wei Wuxian’s belief in Wen Ning wrong but the omega was hardly phased by the other’s arrogance. Instead, Wei Wuxian’s attention was directed towards Wen Ning. And from the looks of it, he was exchanging a few kind words with the other teen. Wen Ruohan wasn’t fond of the interaction playing in front of him between the two disciples and he quietly made a mental note to be more conscious of Wen Ning’s existence in the future.

When the last of the disciples entered through the array (Wei Wuxian included) and only the Sect Leaders and a handful of their trusted disciples were left to wait for their return; Wen Ruohan turned to stare down at Yunmeng Jiang Sect’s leader. The gaze Wen Ruohan bore down onto Jiang Fengmian made the other man’s blood turn cold the moment their eyes met. And as much as he tried to hide the apprehension growing on his face, Wen Ruohan began to smirk and Jiang Fengmian could only see it as a bad sign with a feeling of dread to follow afterwards.

"Sect Leader Jiang, I see your head disciple is an omega." Wen Ruohan said before shifting his gaze from Jiang Fengmian to the entrance of the stone forest then back onto him. “It’s quite the unique decision really—to have someone of Wei Wuxian’s status in the position he is in.” He added, his words chosen with purpose and Wen Ruohan could tell how much they were visibly affecting Jiang Fengmian as well as the other Sect leaders sitting beside him as he continued on. “And to be perfectly honest, I think I have a much better offer in light of his future and continued success if you don’t mind lending an ear.”

Jiang Fengmian paled almost instantly. It wasn’t difficult to predict where their conversation was headed to and it felt like one of his worst fears was becoming a reality as he sat in his seat shaking and clenching his fists tightly in his lap.


+ + +

Wen Ruohan sat in silence along with the other Sect Leaders—waiting for the return of their disciples; though he only had one individual in mind. Wei Wuxian ended up being declared the winner of the entire Dicussion Conference’s archery competition—a victory Wen Ruohan hadn’t anticipated to witness but somehow it stroked his ego and excited the Sect Leader considerably.

When the top rankings were announced—with no Wen Clansman included, Wen Ruohan was more than disappointed in his disciples (Wen Chao being among the lot of failures) but he stopped himself short from causing an unnecessary scene. It was best that he tried making a good impression after all and when all was said and done, Wen Ruohan stood up from his table and the field fell deathly silent as he slowly descended the stairs.

All eyes were on him—many in fear and others in shock but it mattered very little to Wen Ruohan. As soon as he found himself standing in front of Wei Wuxian, he inhaled the air around them deeply—taking in the omega’s sweet scent and letting it settle into his lungs as he committed the fragrance to memory. He could see his actions (his very presence) effecting the stunned teen and if his legs shook; whether it was from distress or uneasiness from being around an alpha like himself; Wen Ruohan chose to ignore it.

“Wei Wuxian, congratulations on your victory.” Wen Ruohan said with high regard in his voice and he watched as the omega’s eyes just about bulged from their sockets.

Wei Wuxian stammered at first, not really knowing how to react but he quickly remembered to hold his hands together and bow deeply in respect. “Thank you, Sect Leader Wen—this disciple is honored for your kind words!” He exclaimed in reply, his cheeks burning now.

Wen Ruohan’s attraction for the teen just about doubled tenfold and his lips curved into a rather crooked smile—one that seemed to leave Wei Wuxian even more confused and if not shaken by what was already unfolding between them. “I look forward to seeing you more in the future.” Wen Ruohan said in earnest and he left it at that as he took his leave. If he stayed any longer, Wen Ruohan was more than certain he would be dragging the omega back to Nightless City but there was a protocol he had to follow as annoying as it was.

When Wen Ruohan was finally out of sight, Wei Wuxian’s knees finally buckled and he felt himself stumble backwards now that the alpha and his insane presence was gone. Jiang Cheng came up from behind and caught him in his dizzying state—appearing just as confused and frightened by the sudden exchange between the Wen Sect Leader and his brother.

Wei Wuxian spoke in a daze of sorts. “What the heck was that all about?”

“How the heck am I supposed to know?” Jiang Cheng responded. “Whatever the case, I have a really bad feeling now…”

It was then that Jiang Fengmian appeared. “A-Xian...” He said softly, his voice sounding tired.

Both teens straightened up quickly, bowing before their Sect Leader in unison.

“Father!”

“Uncle Jiang!”

“Boys, as much as it would please me to celebrate your successes today—I have news that we cannot afford to stall under any circumstances.” Jiang Fengmian began to explain and this started to worry both teens.

The dark look Jiang Fengmian wore was best described as unsettling. Even Jiang Cheng was bothered by his father’s expression and seeing it being directed towards Wei Wuxian didn’t help the uncomfortable feeling collecting in the pit of his stomach as he unconsciously moved to stand protectively next to his adopted brother.

“Uncle Jiang?” Wei Wuxian asked cautiously, clearly perceptive of his guardian’s growing dilemma as the gloom in the air began to thicken. “What is it that is bothering you?”

As much as Jiang Fengmian tried to control the anxiety that was slowly overflowing his scent, it wasn’t enough to prevent the boys from noticing and he sighed with defeat. He couldn’t hide it—the demand was too heavy of a burden to even imagine disregarding and if he waited too long—Jiang Fengmian knew it would only bring misfortune to everyone in Lotus Pier. After all, Wen Ruohan and the rest of the disciples of the Qishan Wen Sect weren’t exactly known for their patience... and defiance wasn’t an option they could afford; the consequences inconceivable.

“Today’s Conference sparked many topics of discussion among the Sect Leaders during the competition...” Jiang Fengmian hesitated, inhaling deeply as he prepared his next words. “And it has been brought to my attention that Sect Leader Wen wishes to propose to you, A-Xian...”

Wei Wuxian could feel his legs growing weak for the second time that day. “Propose? As in marriage?”

Jiang Fengmian could only nod his head stiffly. "You are to become the next Madam Wen and will lead Qishan Wen Sect by Sect Leader Wen Ruohan’s side as his mate.”