It’s full moon that night, its light glistening off the mirror like surface of the Cold Springs as Lan Xichen walks slowly down the path leading around the mountain and towards the Cold Cave. He’s walked this way many times over the last two years, driven by his need to be close to his brother.
Then, suddenly, the silence is broken by the first notes of a haunting melody. They shiver in the air and all the night creatures fall silent, listening and grieving together with the one whose fingers dance lightly across the strings of his zither.
Ah, Wangji… Lan Xichen thinks with an aching heart.
As he comes within the sight of the sheer rock wall hiding the Cold Cave, the Lan Clan’s sanctuary that has become Wangji’s solitary confinement, he stops because there, in front of the wall, his uncle stands, Sect Leader Lan Qiren.
Hearing the crunch of footsteps on loose rock, Lan Qiren turns around and his nephew bows to him in greeting. Lan Qiren acknowledges him with a simple nod before turning back to the wall. He shakes his head in exasperation. “That foolish child… He’s playing that song again.”
Slowly, Lan Xichen walks up to his uncle and his heart grows heavier with each step. He can feel the surge of power behind the melody, he can feel it spreading further and further away from the cave, always finding its way past a barrier that should be impenetrable, beckoning and pleading, drawing spirits close and sending them away with a message, Wei Ying, Wei Ying, Wei Ying…
Clucking his tongue, Lan Qiren says in an aggravated, frustrated tone of voice, “It’s been two years! When will he finally let go?”
Lan Xichen closes his eyes, overcome with a deep, heartbreaking sadness. Their uncle, he brought them up, him and Wangji, and he did his best, he really did, but… Despite everything, Lan Qiren truly doesn’t know his nephew, he truly doesn’t understand Wangji and the devotion he’s been capable of since he was a little boy. Lan Xichen knows that, when it comes to Wei Wuxian, Wangji will never back down and if their uncle doesn’t relent… he’s afraid of where this might end.
“Uncle…” Lan Xichen starts, trying to say, It’s enough, Wangji’s been punished enough, stop this…
But as if reading his mind, Lan Qiren shakes his head firmly, his expression hardening. “No,” he says, his conviction of the righteousness of his actions unshakable. “Not until he learns his lesson. Not until he repents!”
And with that, Lan Qiren turns around and strides away with his back straight and his head held high, his steps firm and determined.
Sighing, Lan Xichen steps closer to the rock wall and rests one hand on its cold, rough surface, coming as close to his brother as he’s allowed. The zither’s song vibrates through the rock, making his palm tingle and his heart ache. “I’m sorry, Wangji. I’m so, so sorry…”
The song ends and the night seems to hold its breath, waiting, waiting… And then it starts anew, the melody as mournful and as yearning as ever, calling to the one who’s been so loved and died, leaving only despair and devastation behind.
Wei Ying, Wei Ying, Wei Ying…