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Peak Romance

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My Dearest WanYin,

In the mountains, the weather grows ever colder.  Gusu's winter waits for no man.  As Sect Leader Lan, I would describe the wind as 'bracing', but here, in the comfort of our intimate acquaintance, I shall call it 'horrid'.  Tell no one.

As you can imagine, therefore, your gift of such a rare, respected tome has done much to keep me warm in the evenings.  Indeed, 'The Seventy Conjugal Charms of Woman' is a book unlike any I've ever had the pleasure of perusing, and its pages, which I lovingly add one at a time, burn so brightly in the fire.  Perhaps it is nothing more than my propensity to see the 'romantic' in everything, but 'Number Thirty-Seven: The Unshed Tears in Her Eyes' seemed to burn with a familiar anger, and though it took me a moment, I finally recognized it as the fury I have seen so often in your gaze.  It made me miss you terribly, WanYin.  I quickly tossed in 'Number Thirty-Eight: The Delicate Shell of Her Ear' to distract my heart from its sorrow.

My uncle and my brother send their regards, and I send you my heart, as I do each time I lift a brush to write you.  When will I see you again?  I hope the small gift I have enclosed will help you endure these days apart.

All my love,

Lan Huan


My Favorite Pain in the Ass,

As you literally sent me home with your damned letter in my pocket, I'm unsure what answer you are looking for when you ask 'when will I see you again'.  As if we are embarking on some sort of star-crossed journey through the heavens that will keep us apart for thousands of years.  When did you even write it?  I didn't leave your side for four entire days!

Gods, you are insufferably dramatic.  Woe is me for finding your histrionics endearing.  If it eases your 'heart's sorrow' or whatever the hell you are going on about, I wouldn't be surprised if you still have the mark I left on your neck when I see you next.  

Let it be known, I did not laugh in any way when I discovered your gift.  Nor am I laughing now as I sit at my desk and endure its beady glare.  Never have I laid eyes on such a baleful creature.  Its disdain for me is palpable, and I have to lock it away at night behind a talisman in order to sleep.  Yesterday, my deputy saw it and asked me what it was.  Imagine my consternation when I had no answer for her.

Wads of hair (YOURS, I whole-heartedly hope!) crudely shaped into rabbits aside, the gems you sewed onto it for eyes must have cost a small fortune.  I shall take this for the dowry offering it most certainly is, and will alert all of YunMeng to our pending nuptials.

I miss you as well, you disturbingly creative seamstress, you.  Please pass my regards to your uncle, though I will have to call bullshit on your grumpy little brother wishing me anything but a precipitous death.

Not to be outdone, I have enclosed a handmade gift of my own, this time.  I hope you enjoy this puzzle box; it took me far too long to make.  One might think I find you worth extreme time and effort to please, if one were paying attention.

I love you, today and tomorrow, and potentially the day after that, but no promises on next week.

Jiang WanYin


My fiery and beautiful WanYin,

It took me the better part of three days to open your puzzle box; I swear, I've decoded ancient scrolls that took me less time!  I am in awe of your skill with wood and a blade, not to mention your shrewd intellect, to be able to craft such a devilish thing.

As for the bead you had hidden inside, I'm afraid I have unfortunate news.  I was foolish enough to solve the puzzle while I had visitors- luckily, just my brother and his husband.  I'm not certain my uncle would have found a tiny wooden phallus to be as entertaining as Wei-gongzi and I did.  However, and I take full responsibility for this…  It was immediately confiscated by WangJi.  The penis, not the puzzle.  Though he promised to return it if I ceased 'all communication and fraternization' with you.  I told him I would do so as soon as he broke things off with his beloved.

He has not spoken to me for two days, but he has always been a sulker.

WanYin!  Of course that was my hair!  How else could I fully imbue it with my love and longing?  A bunny made of someone else's hair would simply be creepy.  (And how dare you?  My heart fluttered like a lovesick maiden at your mention of us marrying, despite us having been betrothed for months.  It would be embarrassing, if I had any shame.  As we have discovered, though, when it comes to you… I do not.)

Please enjoy the enclosed painting of Zidian.  I found my thoughts drawn to her grace the other night, and thought I might make an attempt, meager as it may be, at capturing her beauty in parchment and ink.

All my love,

Lan Huan


To the Secretly Evil Man I am going to Marry,

That little shit better give you back your bead or I will fly to Cloud Recesses and forcibly take it back myself.  Perhaps he'd return it of his own volition if you pointed out I carved it in my own likeness.

On second thought, never mind.  I can hear the never-ending litany of 'size related' comments from Wei WuXian already.

If you will allow a bit of constructive criticism on your latest painting, I have a few thoughts.  Firstly, Zidian, in all my time wielding her, has never once coiled herself into a heart-shape.  Points deducted for lack of realism.  Secondly, it took me several moments to determine the man painted inside the 'heart' was me.  While the hairpiece and clothing were skillfully rendered and surprisingly life-like, everyone in the cultivation world knows I do not smile.  Never have, and never will.  Were I to cave and do something so foolish, the centuries-old spell binding my body to this realm would break, thereby forcing me to disintegrate into angry dust and fiendishly fly into all nearby nostrils.

I cannot paint worth a shit, so I have instead enclosed a print I made.  I hope it is to your liking.  I fear I will be scrubbing ink from my person for weeks.

Seems I'm still in love with you.  I'm just as surprised as you must be.

Jiang WanYin



YOU DID NOT.  JUST SEND ME A PRINT OF YOUR NAKED BACKSIDE.  My sobbing, unhinged laughter managed to summon a disciple to the Hanshi to ensure I was of sound mind, and to remind me of our prohibition against loud noises.

You win.  Enough with the terrible gifts.  I genuinely don't know where we would even go, from here.

I love you so much my heart threatens to explode with it,

Lan Huan