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Alter Course

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Lan Zhan knows when people lie. He can sense it in their core, see it in their aura, hear it in their voice and even though Wei Wuxian is more than capable to lie to most, he can’t pass through Lan Zhan’s radar.

He bites his lips, swallows the hiss that want to come out together with the blood. He won’t show weakness to the Jiang Clan.

“You are hurting, let it out” Wuxian’s voice is soft as he places the herbs from Mianmian’s herb bag onto the latter’s leg.

There is a sudden ripping sound and Lan Zhan turns his head to look at the other. He has teared his robes apart to make fabric, helping place flat rocks against his hurting leg, for structure.

For a moment their eyes lock. Their is this feeling in Wei Wuxian’s eyes, Lan Zhan can’t put his finger to it.

“We will need something to tie the fabric around your leg, so it stays put” he explains as his eyes shift for a millisecond and Lan Zhan can see mischief in them. “I know! Lets use your head band!” he exclaims excitedly and grabs the white ribbon but before he can do anything else Lan Zhan holds it with same if not more power from the other end.

“Wei Wuxian, what do you think you are doing?” Lan Zhan raises his voice at him. It has been explained to the latter that the Gusu Lan Clan ribbon is rather sacred and it should not be removed from the Lan Clan people head from anyone.

“Com ‘on, is you head band, more precious than your leg?” Wei Wuxian asks and pulls the thread towards him, at which movement Lan Zhan pulls towards him with the same force, jarring his ribs in the process as well.

It doesn’t take long for Lan Zhan to vomit blood and as soon as he does the ribbon has no pull anymore; his leg is getting tied rather tight instead. Lan Zhan stares at his companion astonished.

“There, now you can rest, we will need to slay that beast if we are to get out of the cave anytime soon” Wei Wuxian explains as he gets back up and strays further away from the Gusu Lan lad.

Amber orbs follow his every movement as Lan Zhan reali z es the head band fiasco was a reason to help him breath easier. He huffs and looks away from the Jiang Clan person, the wall besides him looks way more interesting at the moment.

“You are hurt too” he says in a small voice, just because it’s a fact. Wei Wuxian has a burn on his chest and a wound from an arrow on his right hand, which also happened to be his dominant one.

He remembers he stayed back with him because someone from the Gusu Clan injured him on purpose, so the beast would target him instead and everybody else could get away. How could they do such a thing. Even if they swore they were trying to hit the beast, the arrow hit with such precision, the truth was undeniable. Wei Wuxian probably knew it too, instead he smiled at all of them and told the to hurry up out of there.

If they were to get out of there alive, Lan Zhan would have to discipline the young land.

Wei Wuxian’s laugh brought hi m out of his thoughts and he frowned.

“I’ll be fine. We need to find a way to bring the beast to its end” Wei Wuxian exclaimed, the smile still huge on his face.

That smile that never left his face, Lan Zhan would never understand how or why.

“It’s skin is super hard but there is a scale missing, lower on its neck, if we can penetrate it there, we could possibly...” Lan Zhan says trying to figure out a way, even though most possible strategies seem futile, what with his hurt leg.

“Great then!”

“But the odds are against us, this beast is not a common one, it’s the feral monster Tortoise of Carnage. According to the legends, 400 years ago, the tortoise came to Qushan and brought ruins in its awake. It looked like the mythical Black Tortoise but it ate humans alive. Cultivators once formed an alliance to kill it but failed.” Lan Zhan pauses slightly as to let Wei Wuxian to take everything in. “Now we are both injured.” He finishes once he sees some understanding behind those lilac orbs.

“So we have to wait for the others to come for help? Gusu is the closest, it’ll take them one to three days to come.” Wei Wuxian thinks aloud.

“Help… wouldn’t come.” Lan Zhan whispers, there is sorrow in his tone. “The Cloud Recesses burned down already”

Wei Wuxian bites his lips. Looks further onto the surface of the lake in front of them. They stay in silence for a few seconds.

“Is… everyone okay?” Wei Wuxian asks, when he seems to have found enough courage.

“My father is dying… My brother is missing…” Lan Zhan’s words fall like stones into the abyss of the sea.

For a while nobody talks, Lan Zhan is left with his pride intact as he tears up in silence. For the people he lost or will lose in the future, Wei Wuxian seems to understand.

It’s a moment too long as Lan Zhan’s amber orbs seek the comfort of watching his companion, though he is mostly sure the other must have fallen asleep he is surprised when his eyes meet the strong lilac orbs of the latter.

“Do you still have your guqin chords with you?” Wei Wuxian asks, his tone is serious and there is no smile on his lips, Lan Zhan feels weird.

“Yes” he nods.

“Great, that’s great!” Wei Wuxian nods at himself, as amber orbs follow his every move again. “You can use, Lan Clan’s Killer String Technique, to those rocks on the top. We will work separately. I’ll dive and seek its attention. Once its throat is out you cut it off with your strings!” Wei Wuxian explained.

Lan Zhan nods. “We should wait three days. If by the third no help has come, we should execute your plan” the young Gusu Lan man suggests.

Wei Wuxian, nods in his turn. “Okay.”

True to their agreement, three days later and with no help seemingly having arrived, they sorted out their parts of the job and started their try of getting out of there.

“Are you ready?” Wei Wuxian asks as Lan Zhan places his strings on position.

“I’m going to lure it!” Wei Wuxian says as Lan Zhan nods and he dives.

“Be careful” Lan Zhan whispers a little too late.

After that Wei Wuxian doesn’t remember much. Strong arms pull him out of the water and a steady voice begs him not to fall asleep.

“Play some melody for me then” he jokes, spitting some of the water that’s crawling out of his windpipe.

Lan Zhan complies.

Wei Wuxian tries his best but eventually the exertion of his body wins. Lan Zhan stops his melody. He slowly walks closer to the sleeping boy, he is afraid he is a different kind of a sleep. He checks for a pulse and he is relieved to find one there.

Amber orbs take in all of the latter’s features. He’s trying to memorize them, like he has done wi t h the Gusu rules back at home. He doesn’t know when they will see each other again. Wei Wuxian, is a stupid pompous idiot. Loud and obnoxious, yet his heart is pure and his full or respect, even if he doesn’t show it that often.

Lan Zhan lowers the boy’s robes and careful fingers cares over the burn on his torso, now there to stain the skin forever.

“Mianmian is a girl, what if it stained her face, that be sad for her” he remembers this cretins proud words.

Lan Zhan sighs as he pulls the others robes back up. He doesn’t need keep analyzing this mans stupidity. Why must he be so caring.

There is a splash behind them and Lan Zhan instantly proceeds into a battle stance. He needs to protect Wei Wuxian or at least die trying. He is more than relieved to see Jiang Fengmian, Wei Wuxian’s uncle and King of the Yunmeng Jiang Clan.

The next time he opens his eyes he is welcomed by his brother Jiang Cheng and his sister Jiang Yanli.

He thanks Jiang Cheng for even making the trip.

“Thank you, it must have been hard” he says and he means it, he is sure, Jiang Cheng did not leave the cave unscathed.

Jiang Cheng scoffs and looks the other way, than where his brother is laying.

“Stop being so childish, both of you” Yanli laughs at them as she moves towards Wei Wuxian with a ball of porridge in her hands. “Here, eat something” she smiles at the laying male and helps him eat.

“Oh! It’s delicious, thanks Shijie!” Wuxian exclaims happily as he’s being fed.

“Eat slowly, it’s hot” their sister giggles and Jiang Cheng turns to look at them.

“You got no hands?” Jiang Cheng scoffs again at their antics but there is a small smile on his face, which he is trying to hide from them.

Once he looks back at the duo, Wei Wuxian mocks him jokingly, Jiang Cheng is slightly taken by surprise before he fakes being upset.

“You’re asking for it!” he exclaims and dives to grab Wei Wuxian in a headlock.

“Ah stop, stop! You are bullying the wounded” the older of the pair screams dramatically.

Yanli laughs at their antics again. “I’ll go call father” she says as she’s leaving the room, leaving her brothers play.

“You deserve this!” Jiang Cheng says, some worry sipping in his tone. “You knew it was the Tortoise of Carnage and still tried to slay it! You could have died? Did you think about that?” he asks incredulously.

“We didn’t have much choice, did we?” Wei Wuxian stares at his duvet. “Ah! How’s Lan Zhan? Was his brother found? What about his father?” he asks turning to look back at the slightly younger male, anxious to listen to the answers.

Jiang Cheng sighs as is releases the older from the headlock and solemnly takes a seat on the legs of his bed. To be facing him but close to his brother. “Lan Wangji went back to Gusu, Lan Xichen, is still missing. Likely went into hiding, to salvage literature books and music scores.”

“What about Clan Leader Lan?” Wei Wuxian interrupts the other.

It’s Jiang Cheng’s turn to stare at the duvet. “He passed away” he says sorrowfully. He doesn’t dare to look back at the other when he lets out a gasp.

They let a couple minutes of total silence pass between them, as if they mourn. Maybe they are.

“You know, Wen Chao claimed he slayed the Tortoise” Jiang Cheng mocks, to chase away they uncomfortable atmosphere.

“What?” Wei Wuxian turns to look at him disbelievingly.

“Yes, they are having a feast at his name in the Nightless City” Jiang Cheng confirms.

“They are just spinning the truth! It was Lan Zhan who killed it!” Wei Wuxian exclaims, there is a feeling of proud in his words, which Jiang Cheng doesn’t miss.

“Is that so?” asks a voice from the doorway and both young men turn to look at their father and uncle.

“Father” “Uncle Jiang” they greet in unison. Jiang Cheng rises to greet the older male as well and Wei Wuxian tries too but the older male dismisses them.

“Please, remain seated” he says and both boys nod. “Coincidentally, second young master Lan told me you killed it.” Jiang Fengmian smiles.

“We both did our parts but it was mainly him, that slayed it” Wei Wuxian explains, giving a little more detail.

Jiang Cheng frowns. “If you killed it together, why give him all the credit?” he scoffs again and gets up to prepare some tea for his father.

“I didn’t. I’m just saying I didn’t contribute that much” the older boy nods at his own words.

“Well done” Jiang Fengmian says nodding and smiling accepting the cup of tea his son has poured him.

Jiang Cheng frowns again, his gaze falling to the floor before he stares at Wei Wuxian. “You slayed the Tortoise of Carnage before you hit adulthood… Congratulations.”

Wei Wuxian giggles and smiles “A pity you weren’t there! We could have shared the credit” he shakes his head excited as he continued “We could have also chat to relieve the boredom! Lan Zhan doesn’t speak much” he sighs finishing up his sentence.

“You deserved it! You never think before hand! If you hadn’t make the first move….” Jiang Cheng attacks the older with his words before his father cuts him off.

“A-Cheng… you shouldn’t speak so frivolously and if you do, it means you haven’t understand the motto of the Jiang Clan”

“Maybe he doesn’t but even if he did, does it really matter?” a female voice comes from the doorway and all eyes turn to stare at Madame Yu, who doesn’t let anyone speak before she continues.

“ “To attempt the impossible” , as long as Wei Ying understands, right? It’s exactly how he is after all, isn’t he?” she continues before coming to a stop in the middle of the room. She turns her gaze upon Wei Wuxian and there is hatred in it. “One day, he will bring destruction upon this Clan!”

Wei Wuxian lowers his gaze back to the duvet and tightly grabs at it. He feels anxious around her, she never really liked him to begin with.

“My lady, why did you come?” Jiang Fengmian asks, he loves his wife but when it come to Wei Wuxian she’s unreasonable.

“Why? Can’t I come here if I please? Do you, Clan leader remember that I am also the master of Lotus Pier? Do you, still remember which one is your own son?” the woman continues spiting poison.

“My lady!” Jiang Fengmian frowns and stands up abruptly as to cut the conversation there.

“My words upset you?” she scoffs at him and pulls Jiang Cheng from the where he was standing, in front of her ans she shakes him like his an item, to emphases her next words. “This is your son! This one is your own flesh and blood!”

Jiang Cheng is take aback from the sudden pull and frowns at his mother’s words. He frowns and looks at Wei Wuxian, the person he calls his brother, because they have indeed grow up together. They are close as brothers, they are… or he feels they are… or maybe he shouldn’t.

Wei Wuxian doesn’t even dare look around the room, he feels so uncomfortable, even if the room is his own. He doesn’t want to be the reason of comparison or fight between any of them and yet Madame Yu has never seen him as something else other than a problem.

“Don’t tell me you haven’t heard the rumors? That Clan Leader Jiang still hold feeling for a certain Sanren, taking in the son of his friend as his own. There are even speculations that Wei Ying is, your son from her…” Madame Yu continues her tone hardening as she moves on.

Wei Wuxian looks at the older male in surprise, first time in his life hearing any of those speculations.

“Yu Ziyuan!” Jiang Fengmian shouts at her and leaves the whole room in total silence for a moment or two. The Head of the Clan has never raised his voice on any of them before and he certainly hasn’t pronounce his wife with anything other than ‘my lady’.

Wei Wuxian had as well flinched at the raise of the volume in the small proximity and Jiang Cheng moved aside, leaving the space between the two adults vacant.

The adults stare it off for a couple of seconds before they empty the room, Jiang Fengmian leaving first, while Madame Yu following behind him still yelling things at him.

Wei Wuxian stares now at the only other person in the room with him. Jiang Cheng sighs and is ready to take his leave as well before the older boy grabs his hand and calls his name.

“Let’s solve this, don’t hide your feelings from me!” Wei Wuxian exclaims wanting to solve this tension between them.

“Go lay down, you are still tired” Jiang Cheng says in a monotone.

“Don’t you believe a word of those messed up nonsense! Uncle Jiang is strict with you because you are his son and the future leader of Yunmeng Jiang Clan! I’m not his son, so its different!” Wei Wuxian yells, in hopes he can explain and be heard.

“He’s not strict with me… He just doesn’t like me…” Jiang Cheng says as he shakes the older’s hold off. “It’s not nonsense, he doesn’t like my mom, so naturally he doesn’t like me either!” when he hears him gasp.

“He thinks that I don’t understand the clan motto, that I’m not worthy to be the clan leader, that I don’t have any of the Jiang’s virtues in me! Yes, you bathed in blood and killed the Tortoise of Carnage together with Lan Wangji, oh so impressive!” Jiang Cheng spirals in a vent of emotions.

“But what about me? I had also been trekking for days, completely exhausted without a single moment of rest!” He punches the wooden wall and turns his back on the laying boy. Pissed at his own father.

There is a loud thud and choked yelp. Jiang Cheng turns around still pissed but worried for the boy he calls his brother, even if they are not.

“Who said that you are not worthy to be the clan leader? And who said that being the clan leader has to follow the motto and rules?” Wei Wuxian says as he tries to pull himself back on his feet.

“There have been generations of Jiang Clan leaders. I don’t think all of them were the same” he continues, taking hold on the wooden placement on his wall to help him move towards Jiang Cheng.
“Listen carefully” he says as he places his right arm on to the youngster’s shoulder. “In the future, you’ll be the clan leader and I’ll be your subordinate! Like your father and mine.”

Jiang Cheng lets surprise take over his anger as he lets the latter boy speak.

“Gusu Lan Clan has Twin Jades, Yunmeng Jiang Clan will have Twin Heroes! And if anyone says you are not fit to be the Jiang clan leader, I’ll beat them up!” Wei Wuxian finishes, makes a move as if punching someone and swallows a yelp of pain as his burn reminds him it’s there, together with other bruises.

Jiang Cheng feels like he’s going to tear up but takes a leap to comedy as he says “Look at how you are right now, who can you beat up?” he chuckles and helps his brother back to his bed.

They’ll be brothers for a little while longer. Always.

With the head of the Lotus clan not being present, the role of the ruler falls into his wife’s shoulders. There is scorn in Madame Yu’s gaze as she enters the main hall. Her hard sight falls upon the Wen Clan representative in front of her, Wang Ling Jiao.

“Why did you take my clan’s disciple away?” the Lotus leader asks.

“Why?” mocks back Ling Jiao. “Because he harbored evil intentions and disrespected Qishan Wen Clan.”

“How could 6th shibi have evil intentions” asks Jiang Cheng as he enters the room.

“The evidence is conclusive and you’re lying to deny it?” Ling Jiao mocks, thrusting a kite with an arrow protruding from it on the table in front of her.

“It’s just a cyclops kite. And you call is evidence?” Wei Wuxian accuses, trying hard to think where this verbal attack is coming from, what is the higher motive behind the Wen Clan’s visit.

Ling Jiao huffs. “Why must he pick this circular cyclops among all kinds of kites?” she asks as she starts approaching the two younger men. “Too much of a coincidence!”

“So?” Madam Yu asks. This whole ordeal with this lowly whore tires her already.

Ling Jiao laughs. “Madam e Yu, are you feigning ignorance?” she mocks. “The drawing on the kite represents the sun motif of Wen Clan. Shooting this kite is a metaphor for shooting the sun.” Ling Jiao explains further.

“You always make excuses to blame someone else” Wei Wuxian says.

“Shut up!” Madam e Yu commands him. This whole visit is getting ridiculous. Madam e Yu takes a seat as the head of the main hall, and takes a deep breath. Once she exhales she asks Ling Jiao “Did you come here just for this kite?”

“Of course not” Ling Jiao smiles “I’m here to punish someone on behalf of Wen Clan and young master Wen Chao” she says as her sight trails towards the two young men at the opposite side of hers.

“Punish someone?” Madame Yu asks, still not having catch up to the whore’s, plays. “Who?”

“Him!” Ling Jiao point towards Wei Wuxian. “He led others to riot on Mountain Muxi and almost led to the failure of our great affairs. Yunmeng Jiang Clan must punish him severely!” Ling Jiao explains as she turns towards the lady of the house. “I do hope Madame Yu will set an example!” Ling Jiao smiles.

“Be quiet!” Madame Yu shouts in the hall, stopping her own son from speaking out of turn as she knows he would. Her stare is cold. This falls on her leader role.

Ling Jiao laughs briefly “This Wei Ying, if I remember correctly, is a servant. With Clan leader Jiang missing I believe the request is clear to you. Unless of course, you are going to cover for him, in which case it would make others doubt if those...rumors are true or not.”

“What rumors?” asks Jiang Cheng, even if out of turn.

Madame Yu is getting angry, twirling her ring on her finger, the lowly whore, dares blackmailing her over what a servant? She knew this child would bring only trouble upon them.

“What else? Just the former love affairs of Jiang Fengmian” the Wen Clan representative mocks.

Jiang Cheng is about to speak, as Wei Wuxian is jumping towards the woman to attack her for her non verbal manners.

Just as Ling Jiao yells in fear, Wei Wuxian is brought in front of her to his knees. Zidian, the Jiang Clan’s heirloom, on the lady’s hand, glowing purple, buzzing in the air as she slowly walks closer to her target.

“Mom, no!” Jiang Cheng tries to stop her but she moves him out of the way and two of the Lotus Clan guards come up to s ei ze him.

“ I’ve said this before, that you are an unruly rascal who will only get our clan into some really big troubles sooner or later!” Madame Yu exclaims the words as she starts bringing the whip down onto Wei Wuxian’s back.

It’s up to forty (40) times when she comes to a stop, Wei Wuxian gasping for air, his robes torn and his back bleeding. Jiang Cheng is calling his name, the Lady of the Lotus Clan seems pleased but the same can’t be said about Ling Jiao, who doesn’t seem satisfied at all.

“Is that all?” Ling Jiao asks with a mocking smile on her lips.

“What else do you want?” Jiang Cheng yells at her, the guards still keeping him back.

“What do you want?” Madame Yu turns her cold stare at the lowly woman.

Ling Jiao laughs briefly. “The second reason I’m here is to take back to Qishan what you stole. Wei Wuxian, is a slave of the Wen Clan and I’m here to take him back where he belongs.”

“You wretched woman, Wei Wuxian doesn’t belong to you! You’re just paying off private grudges!” Jiang Cheng yells as he breaks off from the guards and runs towards his brother.

“Back off!” Madame Yu keeps her authoritative voice, this is getting out of hand. “And how does he belong to you exactly, this child had lived all his life here on the Lotus Pier” she mocks.

Ling Jiao’s gaze darkens and her smile turns sickening happy as she waves at one of her guards to show of what supposes to be hers. The guard from the Wen Clan complies as he lifts Wei Wuxian back up from the ground from his hair, the young man gasping at the sudden harsh treatment.

The guard then lowers the boys left robes side, not too softly, fabric rubbing on to freshly burned skin but the mark stands proud, the Wen Clan Sun seared on the skin.

Madame Yu frowns. Doesn’t dare take her eyes from the mark. She’s angry but she doesn’t know with whom anymore. She never liked the child, so why is her chest tightening now. Maybe it’s because she knows, only pain will come after he leaves Lotus Pier. She closes her eyes nonetheless and waves her hand towards Ling Jiao, meaning they are free to take him away. To take back what was not theirs but would soon be.

“Mom, no, stop!” Jiang Cheng screams from behind her, guards back at his sides seizing him. “Mom, no, stop them! Wei Ying!” he continues to scream and thrust but all he manages to do is tire himself.

Wei Wuxian belong to the Wen Clan now.

And as the Wen guards chain him, hands behind his back, legs chained together, already mistreating him by kicking and shoving him, Wei Wuxian has the audacity to look back at him and smile.

One of the guards pulls him towards the exit from his hair and Jiang Cheng thrushes harder, he needs to save his brother, Wei Ying doesn’t deserve any of that.

“Jiang Cheng, it’s okay. I’ll be fine, so will you.” Wei Wuxian says with his last breath in the main hall.

Jiang Cheng is frozen at his spot and by the time the words register, by the time he knows he won’t see his brother again, tears run free down his eyes, his knees weaken and he can’t look at his mother anymore.

This was not meant to happen. There were suppose to be the Twin Heroes.

Honestly Wei Wuxian had no recollection of how much time had passed since he was brought to this prison cell. The only things his brain can comprehend is the pain he feels through out his body.

The last time he caught sight of his skin, the color of it was mostly purple with various kind blotches of yellow from previous older bruises. He wonder’s how long the previous time had been, depending on it he’ll get to see A-Ning or not.

Wen Ning, is such a bright young man. They let him in, he doesn’t remember the exact number of days apart, to take care of him. Wen Ning’s older sister, Wen Qing, is a doctor and not allowed to help with Wei Wuxian’s injuries. So younger brother Wen Ning will have to do, to keep him away from death.

Wen Chao has helpfully explained that it’s too early for him to die, he wants to play with him more. His cries are so amusing when he gets beat up. After all he hasn’t broken his meridians* yet or has he allowed Wen Zhuliu the Melting-Core Hand, to melt his golden core.

He has come so close with A-Ning through the time they spend together, getting taken care of. A-Ning is helpful, shy and nervous at all ends and unlike most Wen members, he has a strong sense of honor, kindness and loyalty. Wei Wuxian would be so glad to have met the lad under of other circumstances.

Now he mostly feels as burden the younger man. He knows he somehow had managed to enrage Wen Chao but the hateful actions he received could almost show an under linked hate he couldn’t imagine from where it came.

He feels like crap, as he slowly moves to the side, in a try to calm his aching leg nerves only to awaken the rest of his body. So pitiful, yet there’s nothing he can do, his own family gave up on him, that dreadful day.

He knows that there was nothing else to do in those circumstances but he still can’t believe Madame Yu gave him up so easily; or maybe he can, that woman never really liked him. Even if he faintly remembers, there being pain in her gaze as the Wen guards took him away.

It is only logical though, he wouldn’t like the whole Yunmeng Clan to be brought to war over a servant, even if he was brought up near the prince and princess of the clan.

He hisses as the door of his cell opens, guards coming in and taking him away. Right, he had forgot, before A-Ning comes, he has to be losing his life. It’s okay, don’t they say bad things have to happen in order for you to see the good things?

He lets out a breathless laugh. Now he understands why Jiang Cheng was always so pissed off with his positivity.

It’s not long before he’s pushed in front of Wen Chao at the main hall.

“ Oh, what’s the matter? On your knees already?” Wen Chao laughs, hugging closer his mistress Ling Jiao.

Wei Wuxian dares take a peek at his captor before his head is pulled back from his hair and then pulled towards as if he’s bowing to his “master”.

“ You have nothing to say? Where did your swag wander off to?” Ling Jiao laughs at him. “We should cut off his arm for disrespecting you Wen Chao” she prompts, rubbing her chest all over the young lord.

“Cutting off is not the only thing we’ll do, don’t worry my sweet plum” Wen Chao laughs as he cups her backside. “Wen Zhuliu will be glad to demonstrate on this rascal how much he has disrespected our Kingdom”

Wen Zhuliu nods his head as he steps forward, he is given the okay to have his way with this child. He wants Wei Wuxian to reali z e he should be feared and he starts his gre e ting with kicking him backwards. Wei Wuxian falls to his back unceremoniously from the force, his ribs hurt like hell but that’s only the start.

He smiles, they’ll definitely need to send A-Ning to see him after this session, he’ll get to see a friend again.

The older male doesn’t seem to like the smile that has appeared, he needs to keep his target docile, broken and if all the beatings from the past month haven’t reached that point then he must proceed being more, ruthless.

Wei Wuxian barely registers a punch at his face, a pull upright from his hair when he catches himself screaming. He doesn’t know what for, the limp that’s in pain doesn’t seem to have registered yet but he knows that his right side is on fire and that it hurts so bad. He opens his eyes to catch a blur of Wen Zhuliu behind him, in front of him Wen Chao is clapping and that caterpillar Ling Jiao is whispering something to him.

Wen Zhuliu is given a knife. Ling Jiao wants to cut of Wei Wuxian’s arm, Wen Zhuliu knows its not for Wen Chao’s disrespect, its for her own grudges that she wants that so much, so he won’t do it. He is there to serve Wen Chao and the young lord himself haven’t asked for Wei Wuxian’s arm yet. He sticks to slashing the rascal in an array.

When Wei Wuxian is completely out of it and panting hard Wen Chao orders Wen Zhuliu to stop. He and his court room still laughing at the ex Yunmeng Clan warrior.

“That’s enough for today, sent in Wen Ning and tell him to be quick, we leave at dusk” Wen Chao orders and motions for the guards to take the prisoner back to his cell.

He jerks awake at fire taking over his right side, he tries to move back, away from danger but his whole body flares instead; eyes blurry with tears and as his vision clears and relief takes over seeing A-Ning’s worried gaze, he smiles.

“Hey” he rasps and leans back to the wall.

Wen Ning is strongly trying not to cry, Wei Wuxian appreciates it, even though they both know the younger boy will crack eventually.

“’s today’s work?” he tries to joke around, even though he doesn’t feel much other than pain. He can’t tell if its bad or not, because he doesn’t remember how not being in pain feels like anymore.

Wen Ning cracks sooner than expected. He lowers his head as a few tears fall from him eyes, as if to save whatever pride he has, as if he needs to save it from Wei Ying’s eyes.

“I need you to stay still, I need to reattach your arm” Wen Ning says softly, his words almost not heard.

“Reattach my arm?” Wei Wuxian wonder’s. He briefly has a memory from when he was younger and Jiang Cheng had pushed him down a small hill and he had broken his wrist. ‘Ah’ he thinks ‘that would explain the excruciating fire feeling’.

He shares a small smile with the younger male and motion him towards him with his left arm.

“Please don’t smile like nothing’s wrong” Wen Ning says as he goes forward.

Wei Wuxian bites on a stick Wen Ning gives him as the younger male straighten his bones, reattaching them and bandage them in place, for them to try and at least heal somewhat, properly. The older male grunts and moans through out the treatment but doesn’t flinch or back away.

The sight is heart wrenching.

“I’ve… closed all your other, scars too. They… they over did it this time, I brought you some broth to regain some energy. God, Wei Ying…” Wen Ning stutters slightly, a trate he had come over once the two had started coming closer together as friends.

“ A-Ning, what bothers you?” Wei Wuxian asks, placing the stick near him on the floor. They both knew there was something more Wen Ning hadn’t said yet. Some other problem, apart from Wei Wuxian’s injuries under Wen Chao’s hand.

Wen Ning is lip tight for a couple of moments, his fretting something, a reaction maybe, as if Wei Wuxian has the energy to react in any way. The younger male bites his lower lip, sight on the floor searching for the answers it doesn’t have to provide him.

He takes a deep breath. “We live at dusk” his words as short and serious, his eyes worried beyond reason. “We are attacking Lotus Pier, first thing at dawn” his words cut deep both of them.

Wen Ning doesn’t want to be part of this, Wei Wuxian doesn’t want him to be either. He also wants to save his home but he can’t, he can’t even warn them.

The younger boy is taken aback as Wei Wuxian, deep bows to him, his forehead touching Wen Ning’s knees, he never wanted to see this person bow down to anyone, not for the reason he does.

“Wen Ning!” the bowing male says loud enough for the younger to hear but low enough, not to alert the guards. “I beg you, for the sake of the after life, please, protect Jiang Cheng and Jiang Yanli . I know I can’t ask you for more but please, if all comes down to it, please protect them!”

The tears came back to the youngster’s eyes as he grabbed the latter’s shoulders and slowly helped him lean back to the wall.

“I will” was the only words he said as he took in the emotions passing through his friends eyes. Pity, worry, wrath, hatred.

He wishes to take them away and possibly replace them with feelings those eyes held in the past. Worth, excitement, pride, love.

Even though he is not sure, they can accomplish that.
Not as long Wen Chao and Wen Zhuliu are alive.

He stays a little longer, until Wei Wuxian is asleep and then he leaves, to go get prepared for the war and secretly wishes he won’t get killed cause he has a friend back home that needs him.

Wei Wuxian wakes up to gentle hands touching him, the touch is so gentle he almost doesn’t feel the pressure it puts on its broken arm.

“Shijie?” he asks, eyes searching the room to find his princess, his sister’s face, instead the land on another woman. Her face is sharper than Jiang Yanlin’s and her eyes hold a fierce will for a cold exterior, her hair hold on a tight ponytail falling right under her shoulder blades, their brunette color making the differences stands out even more.

The female attending at his injuries sighs and tries to avoid eye contact, she wears a mask of seriousness, Wei Wuxian notices and he is afraid she is another Wen, who he has somehow managed to offend.

“Stay still!” she growls at him as grips his arm harder than meant to, which brings a moan of pain out of the younger male’s lips. “Ah… I’m sorry” she apologizes almost instantly and pats gently again where she was previously hard.

“It’s okay” Wei Wuxian says and he wonder’s briefly if he got so accustomed to those words that they float freely out of his lips or if its really okay, for anyone to manhandle him nowadays.

“No, its not!” the woman says harshly and the boy visibly flinches. “Now I know why he’d do such a stupid thing for someone like you...” she continues after, her eyes falling back at the young man, battered and barely alive.

Wei Wuxian doesn’t dare ask, he has a feeling she’ll tell him either way soon.

“A-Ning, he asks me to tell you, Jiang Cheng’ s core was melted, by Wen Zhuliu but he’s still alive” the words left her lips coated in pity, as if a cultivators life without the core is meaningless.

Maybe it is.

“No!” Wei Wuxian gasps, he tries to move but he can’t, his body doesn’t much allow him.

“A-Ning, even though I told him not to, will stay with him and try to get him to Gusu Lan as fast as he can” the lady keeps explaining.

Wei Wuxian notices the familiarity in her voice, the worry over Wen Ning’s well being and he wonder’s what’s their relation but that will have to wait, Jiang Cheng is his first priority. Always.

“No! Please!” he knows this lady doesn’t care what happens to Yunmeng Jiang Clan, let alone to its heir but he has to try, he tries his hardest to bow to her just like he has done for A-Ning the last time he was there but she doesn’t let him.
“You’ll open your cuts, stay still” she warns him and he takes the opportunity to grab her right arm as tight as he can with his left hand.

“Please, I beg of you! Please, you have to help Jiang Cheng regain his core!” he begs her and clinches onto her arm, onto her compassion, onto her protection. He knows she can feel for him, even if she doesn’t care.

“There is no such thing!” she tries to wave him off, what he says is absurd, he is losing it, in his need to protect what he hold s dear.

“There is! Please, I beg you, tell A-Ning to go to Yiling with him. A-Ning has to stay at the bottom of the mountain, Jiang Cheng must reach the top, he must cover his eyes. Give him a staff to balance himself. He must not take off the blindfold, even if he falls. He must bear it in his mind to never, ever break that taboo and anger Shizu and Shibo. If anyone asks who he is, he must say he is the son of Cangse Sanren and never reveal his true identity.” Wei Wuxian explains thoroughly.

“This is absurd, even if what you say its true, why would I risk my brother’s safety for someone I don’t even know or trust? We are from the Wen Clan after all, you must despise us by now, why would I help someone that will certainly crave for revenge? Why would I help destroy the little things that I have?” the lady tries shoving the injured male back but he’s holding onto her for dear life. As if helping Jiang Cheng right now is more important than him, breathing.

“I beg of you” Wei Wuxian continues “I don’t have anything to offer you, even my life is out of my hands but I promise you, I want to see A-Ning as much as you do, I wouldn’t send him off to die, I feel for him as my younger brother. Jiang Cheng, needs to get his core back, so please… Please let me help”

“Why are you so loyal? Beyond logic, beyond truth?” the lady asks, staring deep into those lilac orbs.

“He is my brother, my King. Please let me help him” Wei Wuxian tries to tighten his grip more, as if tightness at that point would s how his will.

The lady sighs.

“My name is Wen Qing. I’ll be taking care of you for as long as my brother is off missing at war. Please tell me everything again in detail and if you could release my arm” she says calmly and fixes her robes once the injured male releases her.

“I’m Wei Wuxian but friends call me Wei Ying” he smiles at her “lets be friends, A-Qing” he says as he lets the energy bleed off his body and falls back into slumber.

The lady stays by his side in the cell a little while longer, observing the male that would get in such lengths to beg for someone’s help, trust someone who he doesn’t know. Be kind and hopeful.

Wen Qing pities him and envies him at the same time. What a beautiful brain must he have to see the world from his eyes. What a pitiful sight to behold.

Wei Wuxian is jerked awake by cold water splashed on him. He gasps for air and feels the chills all around his body, together with the feeling of small needles on his skin from how icy cold the water is. Wen Chao claps his hand and laughs as their eyes lock on one another.

“Hello Wei Ying, did you miss me?” Wen Chao asks, something kin to honey in his voice. “I missed you and your beautiful screaming. I mean your whole ex Clan screamed too as we slaughtered them but your screams, they are certainly more, delightful” the younger man gloats and mocks.

Wei Wuxian growls at the young lord’s words, which gains him a slap from the caterpillar Ling Jiao. When did she get so close to him, he must be losing his touch.

“Would you look at that, he growls just like that bitch Yu did” the concubine laughs “I’d say like mother like son but she wasn’t your mother and she most definitely hated your guts” she continues laughing.

Wei Wuxian growls again and spits at her, to which she replies with shrieking and demanding for him to be beat up but Wen Chao seems hungry for other kind of fun.

“Wen Zhuliu” he calls and his personal guard steps forward and closer to Wei Wuxian. “The trash has forgotten its place” Wen Chao says as a couple of guards bring in a table at the back courtyard where they seem to be for today’s session.

“So lets remind it, exactly what it is” the young lord says laughing as the guards forcefully positions him onto the table and strap him there.

The injured male thrusts and tries to stop them but there are few things his beat up body allows him to do. He has more fight in him now, he doesn’t know why, maybe its his rage for what Wen Zhuliu had done to Jiang Cheng, maybe its the wrath for what Wen Chao has done to his clan. He doesn’t really know, all his knows is that he is ready to fight, with whatever strength he has left.

His flame is back.

The first scream erupts as a needle long like an arm and thick as a stick, punctures his chest, point on half deep into him; and he continues screaming as the needles continue to puncture him from multiple angles and places. His lilac orbs widen in shock as he sees Wen Chao being the one inflicting him with this torture.

Wen Chao, usually prefers to stand in the back lines and enjoy the chaos his subordinates inflict on others. He prefers his safety zone instead but with Wei Wuxian, he’s suddenly in the front lines and he’s enjoying it.

There is a needle suddenly, too close to his face for his liking and Wei Wuxian shifts his head the other way to get away from it but he can’t. Strong hands are holding his head straight ahead and looking upwards Wei Wuxian can see that Wen Zhuliu is the one.

The needle pierces through one of his cheeks and comes out through the other. He screams with all he’s got and is so distasteful with the taste of blood in his mouth, even though it’s minimum to what he imagined pierced cheeks would bleed like.

There are a couple more punctur ations on his legs, arms and sides before Wen Chao gets bored.

“Wen Zhuliu, what do you say we reenact with trash here, how his fake uncle died?” Wen Chao asks as he unsheathe s his sword.

The guards comply on untying the injured male, getting him of the table as Wen Zhuliu grabs him from his hair to keep him upwards, Wei Wuxian’s left arm flies towards the older male’s grip in an incapable try to free himself. His feet trying hard to push and keep his weight upwards but failing for the most part.

“How pitiful, just like Jiang Fengmian in his last moments trying to protect what he already have lost” Wen Chao mocks and cultivates his sword, attacking Wei Wuxian and stabs him through his abdomen.

As soon as his abdomen is pierced and he gasps out in pain, his tongue flicking up and moving the needle still in mouth, Wen Zhuliu releases him and lets him drop on his knees, jarring all his wounds at once. Old ones, new ones, punctured wounds and broken bones, the pain excruciating and the thought his adoptive father died like that, heart breaking.

He gather’s up all his strength and enough blood in his mouth and spits at Wen Chao’s face.

“Wen Chao. Enough bullshit. Bring on whatever methods you have, torture me to death if you dare, the more brutal the better!” he spits, lilac orbs glaring at the young lord of the Wen Clan. “After I’m dead, I’ll definitely turn into a vicious spirit and I’ll make sure, that all you damned Wens will never be at peace!” he yells and honestly he doesn’t know where he founds all this energy to say any of it.

Wen Chao, slaps him. “Take him away!” he yells at his guards. “Soon, you won’t be so chatty, Wei Ying”

He feels his flame wither. Maybe, just maybe, he is not meant to survive all this.

Still, he won’t give up. Not yet.

He wakes up from wet drops falling onto his face and gentle fingers wrapping around his abdomen.

“Shijie?” he asks, he misses Jiang Yanli so much.

“No, sorry” comes the lady’s soft reply, as if she is afraid she’ll break him if she is her usual fierce self.

“A-Qing, why are you crying?” Wei Wuxian asks and wipes away one of her tears with his left hand.

The lady doesn’t answer him, he knows he doesn’t look his best. He can still feel the needle in his mouth, he wonder’s if he woke up faster than he should. He probably did.

“I had time only to patch your abdomen, I… I…” Wen Qing sniffs and tries to keep her tears to a minimum. “It was bleeding profusely, it was of greater importance” she coldly explains trying to hide behind her doctor mask.

“ It’s o--”

“Don’t you dare say it’s okay!” Wen Qing yells at him. Her hands tight grips on her own robes. Her eyes down cast, her breathing irregular.

“A-Qing” Wei Wuxian’s hand falls upon hers and he caresses her skin in smooth circles. “Can you please get the needles out now? This particular one inside my mouth bothers me quite a lot” he says instead.

The woman’s tears fall again but she nods. It takes them a while -in complete silence- until all needles are removed and patched up, both their robes stained red by his blood by now but no one seems to care.

“ A-Qing” Wei Wuxian starts again. The woman tightens her hands around his left .

“Do we… have any news, for A-Ning, Jiang Cheng or… or Jiang Yanli?” he asks.
They both know he diverts the subject from his health and they both know he is also worried for these people, so Wen Qing allows him to avert the subject.

“Jiang Yanli was not at Lotus Pier when the attack happened, so she is probably safe at some other Clan. As for my brother and Jiang Cheng, there are no news apart from them reaching Yiling”

“Those are good news. I would so much like to see A-Ning again” Wei Wuxian says with a longing, as if he doesn’t expect to see his friend again.

“You’ll see him the next time someone will need to help you out” Wen Qing tells him. Her voice heavy with unshared feelings.

She hates having to visit or see him only under these circumstances. She would so much prefer to be able to go out with him, talk under a tree at the fields, eat from her favorite restaurant and then watch as he’d help A-Ning gain confidence in his archery.

She wishes for those days to come as Wei Wuxian’s body succumbs to the fatigue and the blood loss and he falls back asleep.

The next time he awakes they are not at Qishan Wen anymore. Judging from how dark everything is, and the array of resentful energy around them, if he has to guess he’d say they are at the Burial Mounds.

“ Wei Ying. Do you know what’s this place?” as if on cue, Wen Chao asks him, kicking him near a cliff in front of him. “As you can expect, it is the Burial Mounds! Corpse Mountain! Ancient battlefield!” he shows off his knowledge of the place. “Just one shovel anywhere down there and you can find a corpse”

Wei Wuxian widens his eyes before a boot brings him down to the ground.

“Wei Ying! Look at the resentful energy here. Through the ages, hundreds of cultivation clans tried to purge it but all failed!” Wen Chao explains stepping harder on the injured male’s face. “If the living enter here, both their flesh and soul, would never come out again” he finishes pulling Wei Wuxian up from his hair again and pushing him towards the edge of the cliff.

“ You, Wei Ying! You, will never get out of here either!” he laughs at him and pushes the older male of the cliff.

Falling, Wei Wuxian regretfully realizes that he won’t get to see A-Qing and A-Ning again, nor Shijie.

And his last thoughts as he’s falling is “Those damn Wen’s”.

He can’t believe he survived the fall. Only his legs broke as he came down. Were the gods punishing him for something, how could someone achieve death.

He raises his head to look around, there is a blue path ahead, maybe if he can reach it he can get away from the Burial Mounds, find help… does he even need help by now.

He starts crawling towards the fields of death and as he does, resentful spirits and energies gather around him. “Get lost! Get away from me!!!” he yells as the energies pour themselves into his body, a perfect vessel.

It’s overwhelming and painful as they hug his body, piercing through him, engulfing him and he gasps and moans as the ground gives in to a blood pool underneath him and the spirits invade his body.

“No!” he screams and remembers all the reasons he ended up there in right that moment. All the resentment of his own and all the hatred he has for Wen Clan and the truth that is that they must pay for their wrong doings. For their love for power and monarchy.

His eyes glow red and the energies and spirits have found a new master.

A stronger will, than them.

The battle is almost lost. Almost is the key word.

Wei Wuxian seems to always be right on time.

He plays his flute and covers with its mesmerizing sounds the whole Hejian Fronts and so does with the corpse on its grounds. Corpses that wake up to obey the magic music, to execute their new master’s orders and those are to wipe up the rest of the Wen Clan.

There are questions on the crowd like “Where did this person come from?” “Who is he?” he won’t get to deta i ls who ever is to know they will shortly.

After the whole Clan is slaughter except from the chosen few, Wei Wuxian floats down to the ground level to finish what they started.

He wants to laugh as he walks across the field of newly dead, Wen Chao is hiding behind his right arm bodyguard as per usual.

“Who are you? Casting such nasty demonic spells!” Wen Chao yells from behind Wen Zhuliu, feeling like he’s at a safe distance probably.

Wei Wuxian comes to a stop couple of hundred meters in front of them.

“Wen Chao, we meet again. I told you that I would come back for you” Wei Wuxian says even though his words bring more recognition to Jiang Cheng couple of meters to his side than to the young lord in front of him.

“Core- Melting hand” he refuses to acknowledge him with his name, he doesn’t deserve that “Do you really think you can save his pathetic life, from me?”

“Better die trying!” Wen Zhuliu replies as he attacks him and Wei Wuxian is a little impressed the older male can actually talk.

The older warrior obviously trying out his best but its nothing for Wei Wuxian’s resentful power as with a wave of his left arm he is thrown in the air, stilled. A wave from his flute and the pain covering the older’s body is almost as excruciating as what Wei Wuxian had to endure all those months ago.

“What a loyal dog!” Wei Wuxian comments.

“The debt of gratitude I owe to Clan Leader for his recognition must be repaid!” Wen Zhuliu replies which enrages Wei Wuxian even more.

“Your dept?” he questions, his energy builds up as he soaks in all the resentful energies from the corpses around them “Why is that your debt has to be repaid at the expenses of others?!”

Once satisfied with the energy collected he releases his attack breaking every last piece of bone in the older’s right arm, twisting in ways that would be inhumanly possible to be fixed.

An arm, for an arm.

Next he raises his right arm, now completely healed through and through, he’s getting ready and uses the his own ability to end him off. He snatches away his core and breaks it.

A core, for a core.

And as Wen Zhuliu falls on the floor, completely useless, Wei Wuxian walks towards the light so everyone get to see who he is.

“Wei… Ying…” Lan Zhan whispers from his place near Jiang Cheng. His eyes tear up, it can’t be.

“W…W…Wei Ying! I..It can’t be I killed you! Ghost! Ghost!” Wen Chao starts screaming, scared out of his mind as glowing eyes have found their next target.

With a motion of his flute, Wen Chao had been cornered by his beloved concubine Ling Jiao’s corpse as she attacks him straight on his mouth .

Ling Jiao is missing her whole left arm. The one she so bad wanted to cut off from him.

Jiang Cheng is staring in fear to the scene before his hatred for the wretched Clan is taking over him and his compassion is lost completely, a laugh taking its place instead, enjoying the sight.

“Wei Ying! Enough” Lan Zhan yells at his friend and runs towards him to stop him, this is not who Wei Wuxian is, not how he remembers him but Wei Wuxian strengthens the shields of resentful energy around him and successfully keeps Lan Zhan away.

He smiles and starts playing his flute again, soaking in all that corpse energy about them all over again and as he reaches the high notes on his mesmerizing music, that energy turns into giant spikes which pierce right through Wen Chao’s and Ling Jiao’s abdomens, immobilizing them on air.

Ling Jiao’s corpse has managed to rip out and eat Wen Chao’s tongue and so the pour soul doesn’t get to scream out at the excruciating flame at his gut. Not that he needs to fret, his suffering is merely coming to an end soon.

Wen Zhuliu is soon going to be eaten by corpses from the Wen Clan and one more little detail is left for his revenge to be taken.

He reaches a part on his music of consistent notes climbing up and so does the resentful energy, separating to multiple needles and puncturing Wen Chao all over his body, from one point to another.

He lets him feel it in his bones and flesh before tearing them both apart completely. To small little pieces, only Wen Chao’s head left whole.

And Wei Wuxian’s performance is over. He is ready to say he is done.

“Wei…Ying…” Lan Zhan whispers again once all resentful energy is completely gone from their path and he can clearly see his old friend.

“ Huh? Lan Zhan?” Wei Wuxian turns towards him as if just realizing the other was there to begin with.

“ It was you, who killed Wens along the way?” Lan Zhan questions.

“Of course” the latter replies as if Lan Zhan isn’t accusing him for something.

“Those evil-summoning talismans?” Lan Zhan continues.

“I did that” Wei Wuxian replies honestly.

“Wei Ying, there is a price to pay for cultivating the heretic path. There has been no exception...” Lan Zhan truly sounds more worried, than disciplinary.

“Whatever the price, I can afford it” Wei Wuxian says, a ghost of a smile on his lips, cause honestly, what else does he have to lose, after all those months of mere torture.

“This path harms the physical body, even more damaging to your temperament” Lan Zhan still tries to press through to the older.

“ I know what I’m doing”

“There are things you can’t control!” Lan Zhan pushes harder, he needs to make him understand.

“I certainly can control it” Wei Wuxian remains calm “As for my temperament, what does it have to do with others?”

Lan Zhan is shocked to say the least, these are not the words of his friend.

“Wei Wuxian!” he yells at him.

“Lan Wangji! Do you have to get in my way? As for sinister, what could be more sinister than those damned Wens?! Didn’t they deserve death?!” Wei Wuxian yells back at him, his wrath rising and with it the resentful energy around them. He raises his flute and the energies gather towards it.

His eyes glow red.

“Wei Ying” Lan Zhan says more calmly, pain in his eyes “Return to Gusu with me” he pleads.

“ Return to Gusu?” Wei Wuxian repeats, question himself, dark energy dispersing slightly before returning back more fierce than before. “I see, after all, your Gusu Lan Clan detests demonic cultivators like me” his eyes are glowing red again.

“The visit is not for denouncing you” Lan Zhan is worried, he is losing his friend.

“The what for? Make me cultivate my mind? Or destroy all my cultivation base?!” Wei Wuxian accuses the other with fears of what would “Who do you think you are?! What do you think your Gusu Lan Clan is?!” he swipes his flute back to his side, sending waves of dark energy around the Hejian Fronts bringing all function in corpses to an end and letting them rest in piece.

Proving to Lan Zhan that he can indeed control it.

“Second Master Lan” Jiang Cheng interferes, stepping in front of Wei Wuxian. “Sorry to be blunt, but no matter if Wei Wuxian is right or wrong he is part of the Yunmeng Jiang Clan. Even if he were to be held to account, his punishment is none of your Gusu Lan Clan’s business” he says, bringing shame upon Wei Wuxian and a feeling of fear mixed with sadness upon Lan Wangji.

Lan Zhan stares at Wei Wuxian past Jiang Cheng, he tries to memorize his characteristics as if this is the last time he’ll see him again and maybe it is.

There are words that want to come out his mouth, that he needs to say, feelings he needs to share but he doesn’t. Instead he keeps him mouth close by biting on his lower lip and tries not to let the tears shed right then and there, uphold his pride, in front of Jiang Cheng; turns his back and leaves.

That is how the war against the Wen Clan is won.

Wei Wuxian returns to Yunmeng Jiang Clan with Jiang Cheng and they start to rebuild.