Actions

Work Header

Eternity

Work Text:

Immortals are prideful beings, especially since they achieved the higher state of cultivation that many strive for. They are not invincible, but no longer bounded to a mortal lifetime.

Baoshan Sanren was the only known human cultivator to reach immortality through determination and advancing her cultivation beyond any human has achieved before. As time passes, she watched as the people she knew die when their time came, her clan become obsolete, and new sects rising in place of everything she knew.

She never had a partner nor children of her own. But that didn’t stop her from sheltering orphans and taking in outcasts into her care.

Cangse Sanren was one of them. She was also one of the few remaining fox spirits that still roamed the world after their clan was attacked by humans. Even though there were casualties on both sides, the humans still considered it their win, with blood staining their hands for generations to come.

Regardless of how hard she tried to train the human orphans she had taken under her wing. While animal spirits had their own struggles and barriers that kept most from reaching that stage, humans had a unique challenge that many were unable to overcome. Their greed for humanly possessions had cut their connection from the world that gave them life. Minds so inquisitive of things outside of their grasp that they forget about the things within their reach.

 Cangse Sanren grew up under Baoshan Sanren’s careful tutelage and trained along with her human peers. Unlike previous students, she was able to cultivate a human form and then reached immortality.

Emboldened by her newly acquired state and cultivation levels, the now immortal fox spirit asked to roam the lands that she once left for the safety of Baoshan Sanren’s mountains. Baoshan Sanren was rightfully hesitant, as it was known that fox spirits were still being hunted down despite the great losses they suffered and rarely trusted humans. Had Cangse Sanren not lived on the mountain full of humans and saw how fragile human life really was, she too may have let her hatred of humans darken her path thus barring her from reaching immortality.

When preparing to face her final trial, Cangse Sanren had perfected her human form where her animal characteristics were hidden from normal people. A strong cultivator could tell that she was not human despite her appearance.

Baoshan Sanren knew it was impossible to keep the fox spirit bounded to the mountain when she only grew more curious about humans with each new human child brought back. She wondered if she brought more harm than help to the fox spirit, as she descended the mountains a second time. All immortals went through a trial to prove their worth and strength as a cultivator and Cangse Sanren was no different. There were many ways to reach immortality, whereas animal spirits had their own affinity and connection to nature, Baoshan Sanren could only teach the fox spirit how to cultivate a golden core like humans did. However, all beings, humans or otherwise, had to go through a trial to prove themselves as worthy. The result of failure though, usually resulted in death.

Cangse Sanren was strong and witty fox spirit. Baoshan Sanren had no worries about her passing the trial. In fact, it was only a matter of time. Her biggest worry was how comfortable Cangse Sanren was with humans and could lead to her downfall.

Luckily, these worries were unfound when Cangse Sanren returned three years later and provided her a different challenge when she announced that she had eloped with a human cultivator.

Wei Wuxian knew, as a young child, that his parents coming together as a couple was unconventional: an immortal fox spirit and a human cultivator. He always loved hearing the story about his mother, told by his shifu, who was the same person that once taught his mother. But his favourite part was always about how his parents overcame all adversity to be together. 

His perception of romance was forever skewed when he learned of his parent’s Soul Bond.

One of the first and biggest barriers was that aside from being a fox spirit, Cangse Sanren was already an immortal when they met and fell in love. Knowing the perils of countless cultivators trying and failing at reaching immortality, she couldn’t let her husband fail either.

At first, they tried to ask Baoshan Sanren teach him since she was a human who reached immortality.

It went unsaid that none of the humans under her tutelage managed to achieve what she did, but they held out hope since Cangse Sanren did. Through teaching the man and understanding him better, Baoshan Sanren quietly approved of the man and wholeheartedly hoped that he was able to succeed where others failed. He progressed significantly under her instructions but it still wasn’t enough.

Cangse Sanren was confident in Wei Changse’s abilities. However, she was still worried that he would not reach immortality within his lifespan. With her mind made up, she went and pleaded the Dragon clan to guide them through a Soul Bond ritual.

The Soul Bond ritual was lost with time and only the Dragon clan knew how to perform the ritual as it was part of their traditions. They used it in place of human marriage, bonding a pair together with real consequences aside from social judgement. Dragons are divine beings and had naturally long lifespans. Within their kind, some have achieved the state of immorality while others simply live out their long lifespan. When they settle with a partner, it is for a lifetime.

It was well known that the Lan leader had reached immortality while his wife had not. But because of the Soul Bond that they share, she had lived for as long as she had and continued to flourish.

A Soul Bond was a promise of love, the very thing Cangse Sanren used when she proposed the idea. She saw the way the elders reacted when she said that her spouse was a human. Although dragons were not averse to humans, compared to what they expected from Cangse Sanren who was a fox spirit, they saw them as something insignificant and weak. Dragons were too graceful and well-mannered to call them “pathetic”, but their lofty attitudes said as much.

However, Cangse Sanren was not allow this to deter her from her goal.

Her dedication, his determination, and their love had convinced the clan leader’s wife that they were fitting candidates for a Soul Bond and their wish was granted at her request.

By linking their life forces together, Wei Changze gained conditional immortality. For as long as Cangse Sanren lived, he lived. But the same thing applied in reverse. Wei Changze needed to continue his cultivating in hopes that one day he will be able to achieve immortality by his own hands and determination for them to be safe from external forces. Another important part was that they would be forever bounded to one another, unable to separate. It was not a physical distance, but an emotional one. The stronger the love they hold for each other, the stronger the bond is. But when one of them falls out of love with the other, the Soul Bond will cause a backlash on both people and instantly kill them.

It was a dangerous ritual that was used to test one’s true intentions, but Cangse Sanren and Wei Changze was confident in each other.

 

Wei Wuxian remembered looking up at his parents with starry eyes after hearing the story from his shifu. They were the definition of unconditional love in his mind and he wished to find a partner that loved him as much as his parents loved each other. Over the centuries, their love never changed and they were still as dedicated to each other as the day they decided to ask for the Soul Bond.

Wei Wuxian was unsure if he would find such dedication and affection in another person until his Lan Zhan appeared in his life.

Immortals often kept to themselves and their family, only engaging with the clan members if necessary. They knew of other immortals, usually through word of mouth when news spreads across the land to mortals and immortals alike. One of the biggest news that circulates are the feats other immortals accomplish. The more difficult the task, the more honour and pride the immortal gained among their peers.

There was well-known that the corrupted Xuanwu failed to ascend and ended up consuming many people and absorbed large amounts of resentful energy. It grew too powerful to kill, so the immortals that dealt with the beast sealed it in a mountain for the time being.

For centuries, the Xuanwu remained sealed in the mountain.

Mortals and immortals alike had tried countless time to fight the Xuanwu of Slaughter, however, none were successful. Some returned wounded, others were never seen again. The Xuanwu was undefeated and Wei Wuxian vowed to be the one to take down the corrupted beast.

Everyone was worried at this declaration, knowing that Wei Wuxian would push himself beyond his own limits.

Where immortals struggled to hold out on their own against the beast, where would that leave the fox spirit who has yet to reach immortality?

“Promise you’ll come back if you cannot handle it,” his mother said as she hugged him tightly.

“Strength comes from within, not just your accomplishments,” his father said with a warm hand on his head.

“Don’t be an idiot,” his shifu said. Wei Wuxian laughed and Baoshan Sanren’s face softened. “Good luck. I have trust in your abilities.”

With that, he said goodbye to the most important people in his life.

Wei Wuxian fully intended on making it back alive, hopefully after defeating the Xuanwu. It would be an amazing thing to boost about. He was prideful enough for that. That did mean he had to win against the ancient beast. The feat itself was grand enough that he would earn his place as an immortal along with his parents and shifu.

Everyone that knew him understood that he was stubborn enough to try again if he failed the first time. Of course, he had to make it out alive first.

He wasn’t dumb enough to charge in head first. Well, he used to, when he was still a kit that didn’t know better. It didn’t help that his mother used to do that a lot too when she was a kit. He was totally blaming his mother instead of his own impulsive nature.

Wei Wuxian eventually mellowed out a little and understood that stealth and a plan gave him a larger advantage over his opponent, especially a stationary one.

It appeared that he was not the only one interested in the Xuanwu of Slaughter as there was a large group of human cultivators entering the cave where the beast resided. They were likely from a sect since everyone was dressed in the same uniform of red and white. Wei Wuxian snuck around the corners and hid along the rocks as the group was being obnoxiously loud and brazen in calling for the Xuanwu.

Unlike their bright white robes that stand out against the wet rocks, Wei Wuxian had robes custom made for his journey.

He chose black robes with few red accents for his own personal touch, as opposed to the white and purple colours his parents usually fashioned his outfits. Perhaps getting caught in the night with his bright white robes taught him more than one lesson. Not that he stopped sneaking out, he just became more tactical about it.

He blended in well with the shadows and his keen eyesight made it easier for him to see in the dark compared to humans.

The Xuanwu resided in a large pool of water in the mountain. In the stories he was told, it served as a temporary residence for the Xuanwu before it moved locations, but the immortals caught it while it was resting and sealed the beast before it could migrate and cause chaos elsewhere.

The damp environment made the stone flooring around them wet and slippery, something that Wei Wuxian took a note of as the humans continued to explore. While he was not a weak swimmer if it comes down to it, he was sure the Xuanwu was faster. Wei Wuxian was highly skilled in talisman, even inventing a few of his own, but he wasn’t sure if talismans will be enough aid in subduing the Xuanwu enough to kill it. They were within the mountain too, so there was no hope of using sunlight against the beast.

Wei Wuxian’s musing was broken when there was a loud splash, followed by a roar and a loud crunching noise.

“No one told me it was HUGE,” Wei Wuxian whispered to himself. It suddenly made a lot more sense why everyone was having trouble defeating the massive corrupted beast or why people would come here and are never seen again. He watched as the humans got bit in half before swallowed whole. There were a few that managed to get close to the Xuanwu, but not enough to strike before becoming the Xuanwu’s next meal.

The leader, Wei Wuxian presumed, found a chance when the Xuanwu was devouring another one and struck at the elongated neck.

Unexpectedly, though Wei Wuxian was not surprised, the blade did not pierce through the thick skin of the beast and even broke upon impact. As valiant as his attempt was, the human disappeared in a blink of an eye and the rest were picked off. Wei Wuxian knew that a few escaped, having ran away as soon as the Xuanwu appeared. He too slipped away and planned his next move.

It seemed like he wasn’t the only one who had snuck in unnoticed.

The man was dressed in pure white, an ethereal glow on his robes that didn’t seem possible until he saw the bright shade of golden eyes and white horns that glistened blue even under the setting sun. Wei Wuxian felt a little self-conscious about his own appearance suddenly. Despite his robes being the new and barely dirty, he felt like he was in the presence of a god and unworthy of appearing before those piercing eyes.

Wei Wuxian only heard of the dragon clan, the closest group to divinity and the largest group of immortal beings. Given their naturally long lifespan, dragons can easily spend a fraction of their time cultivating to immortality. They also had the favour of heaven, which Wei Wuxian thought was unfair at first, but he can see why heaven would favour such perfect beings.

“Be careful,” the dragon spoke, his voice deep and firm before he disappeared away in a gust of wind.

To say the least, Wei Wuxian was smitten.

 

Having a small crush on the dragon that didn’t spare him two glances didn’t mean that Wei Wuxian was going to back down from the challenge. They were be both hunting for the same prey so may the strongest win.

It also didn’t mean he had a plan. Wei Wuxian returned to the cave the next day, having ate and rested after drafting up at least 5 different plans and slept when the sun started to rise. When he arrived in the afternoon, after eating his lunch on the go, he found the dragon with his qin and using musical cultivation on the corrupted Xuanwu.

Wei Wuxian had learned a bit of musical cultivation, which wasn’t his preferred technique, so he could tell that the dragon was very powerful and highly skilled cultivator as he switched between songs, the music echoing shook the very cave.

It did appear to have an effect on the Xuanwu, but not enough to kill it. The beast was thrashing around and the dragon dodged attacks and the splashing of water.

If Wei Wuxian was honest, it was so unfair how the dragon managed to look unaffected by the fight. Who even knew how long he’s been trying the beast, but he doesn’t look one bit ruffled and his robes are still glowing in the dark cave? Wei Wuxian can’t see the gold and blue lining from the distance, but he knows there is not even a speck of dirt on him. Dragons truly hold heaven’s favour if you asked him.

As much as Wei Wuxian would enjoy simply watching the dragon try to fight the Xuanwu, he was not the type to simple stand around.

Wei Wuxian saw how the cultivator tried to attack the neck of the beast, but was largely unsuccessful. Now that it was distracted, Wei Wuxian took his chances and struck. Luckily for him, his blade only bounced off the hardened skin of the neck and he landed perfectly on his feet. Looking up at the beast again, it barely looked fazed by his attack, mostly annoyed by the music.

“I’m not trying to steal your kill,” Wei Wuxian explained after they both landed near each other when they dodged the Xuanwu’s attack. It lacked coordination under the effects of the music.

As expected, the man did not respond and focused on his music. In an attempt to be helpful, Wei Wuxian used the talismans he prepared for the hunt but none of them were much more helpful than the last.

Out of ideas, and seeing the other’s fingers bleed from playing the qin for too long, Wei Wuxian made them retreat.

The other party looked mildly perturbed for being pulled away, but allowed Wei Wuxian to guide them out safely while the Xuanwu was still recovering from hours of music and the sudden flashes of light from talismans.

“It’s not working so there’s no need to play until you lose your fingers,” Wei Wuxian explained as he dug into his pockets for the roll of bandages he prepared for himself.

“No need,” the dragon said, trying to pull away but Wei Wuxian was faster. The dragon didn’t try to pull away anymore so Wei Wuxian did his best to wrap them as fast as he can. He heard that dragons liked working alone, so Wei Wuxian was likely seen more as a nuisance than help. “Thank you.”

“No need to for that,” Wei Wuxian said as he bandaged the other hand. “I’m pretty sure dragons have crazy fast healing times, but bleeding all over your nice robes is a bad idea. I don’t know how you still look this good after fighting that Xuanwu for who knows how long. You were already there when I arrived! Looks like we’re both unsuccessful, but we made it out with our lives so that has to count for something at least.”

“Your name?”

Wei Wuxian looked up in surprise. The dragon stared at him with a blank face, but there was something akin to interest that gleamed in his eyes.

“Wei Ying, courtesy Wuxian. A fox spirit.”

“Lan Zhan, courtesy Wangji,” the dragon responded in-kind. “From the Lan Dragon clan.”

“Lan dragons are well known,” Wei Wuxian said and looked at his handy work. “If anyone can take down that beast, it’ll probably be you.”

“You also display promise in your abilities.”

Just like the day before, Lan Wangji disappeared in a gust of wind.

 

Wei Wuxian was stuck. He knew his best chance was to attack the Xuanwu when it was distracted, but nothing he did appeared to do more than faze the already confused and disoriented Xuanwu. The skin was hardened and tough to break through, not to mention its shell that acts as additional protection.

Lan Wangji also tried a myriad of techniques. His best chance still seemed to be his musical cultivation, which said a lot considering how powerful his strikes were with his sword.

Wei Wuxian was definitely watching so he could take a few pointers and add them into his own technique.

It seemed almost impossible to defeat the Xuanwu and he finally understood why so many people struggled against the beast. No mortal or immortal was able to get close enough to the Xuanwu’s weakness and strike it down. Moreover, it was unclear where the weak point is.

Then, the idea struck him.

“Lan Zhan!” Wei Wuxian ran into the room next to his. After finding out the dragon returned to his home everyday after fighting, he managed to convince Lan Wangji to stay at the same inn at him, citing that it was easier that way for them to plan together. Wei Wuxian had no doubts in Lan Wangji’s abilities, but it seemed tiring to make so many journeys, even for a dragon.

“Wei Wuxian,” Lan Wangji greeted. Wei Wuxian pouted at the distance the dragon always puts between them, but the smile returned to his face when he remembered why he was here. It was their rest day as Lan Wangji had returned home earlier to retrieve supplies and report back his progress. The dragon shared little about himself, but he said his mother was getting worried when he didn’t return for the night after a particularly rough battle.

“I have the perfect idea of how to defeat the Xuanwu,” Wei Wuxian said. They were both in agreeance that the Xuanwu would be difficult to take down by the power of one person alone as it took the power of five immortals to seal away the beast.

It might have been weakened over time, but it still proved to be a strong opponent.

Lan Wangji did not speak as if he was waiting on Wei Wuxian to elaborate. Having spent some time with the dragon, Wei Wuxian knew more or less how Lan Wangji operates so he continued, “The Xuanwu has to have a weakness like all living things. Since it has a harden shell, that also means that it has to be protecting something. So, if I–”

“No,” Lan Wangji said firmly.

“Hear me out! It’s a great idea!” Wei Wuxian frowned.

“Dangerous.” Lan Wangji stood up and walked over to the low table with his qin resting on it. Wei Wuxian never saw Lan Wangji act so rudely before.

“Then what brilliant idea do you have?” Wei Wuxian asked, slouching over the table. Lan Wangji didn’t speak as he started plucking at the qin. It was a soothing melody that almost lulled Wei Wuxian to sleep if he wasn’t aware of what Lan Wangji was doing.

“I’ll come up with a new plan then!” Wei Wuxian announced before he stormed back to his room.

 

Wei Wuxian did not come up with a new plan. He knew his plan would work. The heart of the Xuanwu is likely protected by the shell. He simply needed to get inside and kill the beast. There comes the issue of getting close enough to the beast to swim inside of the shell and enough time to explore. As it stands, all Wei Wuxian saw was the Xuanwu’s head and long neck.

At one point, Wei Wuxian discovered a soft spot on the neck and he tried to get Lan Wangji to target it, but it still wasn’t enough.

Unless they had hours to cut away at the neck, then they might stand a chance, but they need something that will bring down the Xuanwu with one or even two strikes. It was a race against time to see which one of them will die first. From experience, it’s usually not the Xuanwu.

Originally, Wei Wuxian wanted to ask Lan Wangji to play his qin to distract the Xuanwu.

It should be enough to keep the Xuanwu disoriented and distracted enough not notice that Wei Wuxian was climbing into its shell. But Lan Wangji wouldn’t budge as soon as his mind is made  and Wei Wuxian wasn’t going to fight him on it. He was used to working alone anyway. He thought they were developing some kind of friendship, if not companionship, but it seemed like it was one-sided this whole time.

Having worked with Lan Wangji so many times, fighting against the Xuanwu alone proved to be much more difficult than Wei Wuxian first anticipated.

Luckily, he was agile enough to dodge the Xuanwu’s strong jaws that threatened to snap him in half before consuming him like it did with the others. Wei Wuxian had no plans on becoming Xuanwu food, but he was slowly running out of ideas. He tried some of his more daring ideas, like using a large array in the confined space. However, it only did little damage to the Xuanwu while Wei Wuxian was slowly reaching his limit.

With one slight miscalculation, Wei Wuxian wounded up with an injured arm. He was preparing his escape when he heard a snarl and a flash of white.

He had seen Lan Wangji in his dragon form, mostly when the dragon was preparing to leave for Gusu before returning. Wei Wuxian was always in awe of how beautiful the dragon was. He loved looking at the beautiful white scales that shimmered with a hint of blue under the light, just like his horns. Lan Wangji was many times larger than Wei Wuxian is in their natural form, whereas they stand at similar heights in their human forms.

Although he only witnessed this form a few times, Lan Wangji was always graceful and majestic in the way he moved and carried himself. Right now, there was none of that beauty in his movements as he attacked the Xuanwu.

There was something animalistic in the way Lan Wangji fought, growling and snarling at the Xuanwu, but neither of them let up. Wei Wuxian found a safe spot to hide as the two battled. The cave could comfortably fit one large beast, but it was cramped for two. Lan Wangji was at a disadvantage since the Xuanwu can hide in the water before resurfacing in a surprise attack. Yet, it was Lan Wangji that managed to land the first attack as he chomped down on soft part of the Xuanwu’s neck. Its cry of pain was loud and shook the entire cave.

Wei Wuxian cheered on Lan Wangji as he seemed to bite deeper into the Xuanwu’s neck, blood gushing from the wound. For a spilt second, Wei Wuxian felt a little bad for the beast.

However, the Xuanwu fought back and chomped down on the area near the drqgon's tail.

“No!” Wei Wuxian shouted as he watched Lan Wangji cry out in pain and was flung against the cave wall.

Ignoring the Xuanwu, Wei Wuxian ran out from his hiding spot and knelt beside the dragon’s head. He didn’t see the Xuanwu retreating the moment he let go of the dragon or acknowledge the fact he easily could have been eaten by the Xuanwu when he ran out with his sights focused only on Lan Wangji.

“Lan Zhan? Can you hear me?” Wei Wuxian asked as he stroked the top of the dragon’s head in what he hoped was a soothing gesture. Slowly, the dragon’s eye opened and looked at Wei Wuxian. “I’m going to get you out of here. I… I need you to change back into your human form, for as long as you can. I can’t carry you in this form. Please, can you do that for me?”

The dragon let out a sound that sounded like a huff, before his entire body glowed white, blinding Wei Wuxian for a moment. When he opened his eyes again, Lan Wangji was in his human form once again. His robes were dirtied and his left pant leg was dyed in red. Wei Wuxian let out a whimper when he thought about the Xuanwu bite. Lan Wangji had to survive. Wei Wuxian will make sure of it. Careful not to agitate the wounded leg, Wei Wuxian carried Lan Wangji on his back, holding back a wince when pain flared up in his arm. Compared to Lan Wangji, his wound was hardly anything.

Unlike Wei Wuxian, it took Lan Wangji an immense amount of energy to maintain his human form. He found out later that Lan Wangji didn’t stay at the inn at night, instead residing in a nearby cave that would accommodate his dragon form as he slept.

Wei Wuxian had better control over his forms behind half fox and half human. Nearly all animal spirits had to reach a certain level of cultivation or power before they could maintain a human form for long periods of time. With Wei Wuxian, he had been shifting since he was a child. It was hard to control at first, not shifting at will but he eventually grasped the trick and was able to shift at ease.

Luckily for the both of them, the cave wasn’t too far away and Wei Wuxian set Lan Wangji down on the bedding before backing away so Lan Wangji could shift back.

Lan Wangji normally looked comfortable curled up in his makeshift nest, but Wei Wuxian saw how much weaker he had gotten when he stayed in his human form. Lan Wangji had explained some basic things about dragons and their ability to heal quickly. During the short journey, the wound already stopped bleeding, but it looked very painful. Lan Wangji was not the type to speak out if he was in pain, which made Wei Wuxian hurt on his behalf.

“Be good now, I’m going to gather some herbs and everything will be okay,” Wei Wuxian said as he patted Lan Wangji’s head. This time, he got a weak huff as a response. Lan Wangji didn’t even look at him this time.

The first thing Wei Wuxian set out to do was to fetch some fresh water from the river to clean the wound site, as well as other scratches. He also set aside another fresh batch of water in case Lan Wangji needed water while he was away. Before leaving, he set up an array that can only be broken from the inside, or Wei Wuxian himself disarms it. This way, Lan Wangji will be safe until he gets back.

Wei Wuxian had more or less explored the entire forest before he went to scout out the Xuanwu. He easily found the herbs and plants he needed, plucking them and buying the rest that he needed in town. He then went back to the inn and checked out for both of them. It was unlikely that they will return for a while since Lan Wangji would rest better in the cave than he would in an inn. While Wei Wuxian does mourn the proper bed he had come to like, Lan Wangji’s makeshift nest didn’t look too bad for his fox form.

The next few days were a blur of trying to keep both Lan Wangji and himself fed, tending to both their wounds, and sleeping when he was too tired to stand.

Somewhere between the third day and fifth day, Lan Wangji was well enough to hold a conversation with Wei Wuxian. He commented on the dark circles around Wei Wuxian’s eyes and the fox did everything in his power not to mention about the sleepless nights as he wanted to make sure he was there if anything happened to Lan Wangji.

He wasn’t sure how Lan Wangji convinced him to sleep, though his eyelids were already drooping as they spoke. For once, he woke up refreshed instead of dragging himself out of sleep to check on Lan Wangji. At the thought of the dragon, Wei Wuxian shot up and saw the dragon watch him in amusement.

In a reflexive move, Wei Wuxian pouted at the dragon. “I did my best to take care of you, and this is the thanks I get.”

“It is cute,” Lan Wangji said.

Wei Wuxian’s ear twitched at being called cute when he was angry, then realized that his fox ears had appeared. “Ah!”

His tails curled around his body when he was embarrassed, and now he wished they can swallow him until Lan Wangji can’t see him anymore and he can cease to exist.

“It is cute.”

“You’re going to be the death of me!” Wei Wuxian exclaimed as he popped out of his hiding spot. Lan Wangji licked him in retaliation.

 

“Wei Ying.”

Wei Wuxian didn’t know how to feel about Lan Wangji finally calling him by his birth name, but in an exasperated manner.

“Lan Zhan, you know that this is our best chance to defeat the Xuanwu.”

The Xuanwu was weakened by Lan Wangji’s attack. If Wei Wuxian knew how much more effective Lan Wangji’s dragon form was in battle, he would have suggested it earlier. But as it stands, Lan Wangji was injured and had not fully recovered. It also meant that the Xuanwu had not fully recovered either.

Wei Wuxian scouted the cave once Lan Wangji was alert enough to protect himself during the day. It appeared that the Xuanwu also endured a heavy blow from Lan Wangji as not even rocks tossed into the pool could draw the beast’s attention. It was likely hibernating to recover, which meant it’s inactive and the best time to strike. If the Xuanwu’s healing abilities are not as fast as a dragon, then they have a better chance going for the neck.

“Besides, if anything happens to me,” Wei Wuxian looked away since he didn’t want to see Lan Wangji’s face as it said it, “I know you will be able to kill it.”

While they were sharing ideas for battle strategies, Lan Wangji had once mentioned an old technique created by one of his ancestors. It required luring the Xuanwu into the formation before Lan Wangji tightened the strings and severing the beast’s head from its body. The only downside of this was the time required to set up the formation when the Xuanwu had been active each time they made a visit. Now that the Xuanwu was inactive, Wei Wuxian could help set up for the formation.

It didn’t mean that the Xuanwu will come out so Wei Wuxian suggested luring out the Xuanwu, before revisiting his idea of sneaking into the Xuanwu’s shell.

Although Lan Wangji is still against the idea, he agreed because he knew that Wei Wuxian would act on his own again if he didn’t. It also gave Wei Wuxian some assurance that if he failed to kill the Xuanwu from the inside, Lan Wangji will finish it off from the outside.

Despite being a fox spirit, Wei Wuxian was a great swimmer since his father taught him at a young age. His father was a great swimmer and he wanted to pass it down to his son. Wei Wuxian wasn’t a big fan of swimming at first, but he always enjoyed getting away from his usual environment to swim in the sea. It helped a lot as Wei Wuxian tried to navigate the murky waters that the Xuanwu resided in.

Wei Wuxian successfully entered the Xuanwu’s shell, but he now wished he hadn’t. The smell was so potent and disgusting that Wei Wuxian was barely holding down his lunch. It didn’t help that his nose was especially keen.

Doing his best to ignore the smell, Wei Wuxian moved inside, trying to locate the heart.

Wei Wuxian brought a few of the abandoned swords with him, hoping the sturdier ones will do the job. He decided to leave his own sword with Lan Wangji in case anything did happen. He wasn’t planning on fighting the Xuanwu, either finishing the job or luring it out for Lan Wangji.

He hoped that it didn’t come to that.

While Wei Wuxian wasn’t expecting the task to be easy, it was much easier to locate the head. The Xuanwu was in a deep slumber, not even hearing the sloshing sounds as Wei Wuxian moved in the disgusting soup of rotting corpses, bones, blood, and water.

Wei Wuxian trailed down the long neck and located the bite location. Lan Wangji did some significant damage seeing as the wound had stopped bleeding but was still tender.

Taking one of the larger swords, Wei Wuxian stabbed into the freshly healing wound and the response was immediate. There was a loud screech that echoed within the shell and everything else was blurred as Wei Wuxian acted on instinct to avoid being coming the Xuanwu’s last meal.

 

When Wei Wuxian was conscious again, he was wet and uncomfortable. He could barely hear as someone was calling his name. He tried to open his eyes and was a blurry silhouette of Lan Wangji.

“Wei Ying!”

“Ah, Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian smiled weakly. “I suppose I’m not dead yet.”

“Wei Ying…”

There was a gentle hand on his cheek and he leaned into it.

“Your hand is cold. It’s nice.”

“You’re burning up.”

“Hm, that would explain a lot,” Wei Wuxian mumbled as his eyes slide close again.

“Don’t sleep.”

“Hm, wake me up later,” Wei Wuxian said as he slipped back into blackness.

 

Wei Wuxian wrinkled his nose at the distinct herbal smell that he associated with the healer’s pavilion. He often gotten minor injuries that warranted a quick visit. His keen sense of smell had mapped out the whole mountain. Even blindfolded, he knew where he was.

He then remembered about the Xuanwu and his eyes snapped opened. He sat up, startling his mother.

Wei Wuxian soon found himself crushed in the embrace of his mother, then his father, and then his peers that flooded into his sickroom. Healer Tang came to kick everyone out to examine Wei Wuxian, but he held back his mother to ask about Lan Wangji.

“He looked fine when we met him. A little disheveled and ruffled up, but he brought you back to us. He was at the foot of the mountain when Xiao Xingchen left. Lan Wangji explained what happened and he ran back to alert us of what happened. Shifu didn’t allow him inside since he was an outsider, but he was worried about you when we came to fetch you,” then she paused to smile, “Congratulations on reaching immortality. I knew you could do it.

With that, his mother left and he was at the mercy of the healer.

 

After he was released by Healer Tang, only needing more bed rest and should only do light exercise, she also congratulated him on succeeding on his reaching immortality and slaying the Xuanwu.

When Wei Wuxian tried to refute the claim, she only patted his head and left the room. Wei Wuxian didn’t remember anything that happened after he failed to strike down the Xuanwu from within its shell, only blurry memories and then Lan Wangji telling him that the Xuanwu was dead. Upon talking with some of the few disciples who loved gossip, he learned that the news of a fox spirit and dragon duo taking down the ancient corrupted Xuanwu spread everywhere. The immortals knew them by name, but mortals spoke as if heaven sent them to free them of the beast.

When Wei Wuxian tried to deny his achievement, insisting that Lan Wangji was the one that killed the Xuanwu, no one believed him since he reached immortality after the task was completed.

He wanted to go find Lan Wangji but he wasn’t sure if they were close enough for that. He was always the one throwing himself at Lan Wangji, annoying him until the dragon caved to his whims. Now that they both achieved their goal, there was no reason for them to see each other.

Since he wasn’t allowed to go on night hunts yet, he was tasked with training his juniors instead of “moping around" as his shifu said.

Wei Wuxian pouted and said he wasn’t “moping around" but no one believed him. He was just bored of being stuck on the mountain. His mother used to love sneaking him out of the mountain before he got permission from his shifu to be accompanied off the mountain for periods of time. Eventually, it was only his parents allowed to accompany him since he got into the habit of sneaking off.

Somehow, everyone is much more vigilant this time and ensuring that Wei Wuxian remained on the mountain until Healer Tang and his shifu deemed him as well again.

 

It took over half a year before his shifu allowed him to descend the mountain to find Xiao Xingchen. Wei Wuxian was fond of him since he was always curious and interested in the outside world. Having been picked up as a baby, Xiao Xingchen grew up on the mountain and it was all he knew. The young Xiao Xingchen loved listening to Wei Wuxian and his mother go on about the human world. Perhaps it was because they were fox spirits and didn’t have to deal with human politics. Wei Changze gave more of a realistic picture of what life off the mountain was like, but Xiao Xingchen was all starry eyed and ready to try to find his own path.

Wei Wuxian would have to travel for a little bit to find him, but it was all part of the fun of being able to roam around again.

However, he was not prepared to find Lan Wangji at the foot of the mountain.

“Lan Zhan?”

The dragon looked even more ethereal than last time. The first time they met, Lan Wangji already looked like a god among mortals. But now, the dragon felt even further felt out of his reach. It could be his new aura, having reached immortality as well. Wei Wuxian didn’t feel much different than before, but now that he’s with Lan Wangji, there was definitely a shift. He looked every bit like the lofty dragon immortals t0hat Wei Wuxian heard about during his childhood.

“Wei Ying, are you well?”

His rich deep voice drew Wei Wuxian out of his thoughts and he reflectively flashed the dragon a smile.

“Of course! Why would I not be?” Wei Wuxian said. He was completely aware that he was in bad condition the last time they saw each other, but he’s immortal now! That should give him a little credit of how robust he is. “How about you? Your family must be proud!”

“Mm. They hosted a banquet and gave me their blessings.”

“That’s awesome!” Wei Wuxian responded, even though he had no idea what the blessings were for. Good luck perhaps? Considering how excited everyone was when they found out that Wei Wuxian had reached immortality, he couldn’t imagine that it was much different for Lan Wangji. Defeating the corrupted Xuanwu of Slaughter was no easy feat, even when one is a powerful dragon spirit. “So, not that I don’t like to see you, why are you here?”

Lan Wangji reached into his sleeve and held out a silken red box with golden flower embroidery. “For Wei Ying.”

Wei Wuxian blinked at the box, then looked up to see Lan Wangji’s earnest expression, and back at the box. He can’t remember if he lost something and Lan Wangji was returning it, or…

“Did you get me a present to remember you by?” Wei Wuxian smiled as he carefully took the box into his hands. He undid the small clasp and gasped at the brilliant pearl sitting on the soft cushioning inside the box. “This is beautiful, Lan Zhan! Are you sure you want me to give this to me?”

When he looked up again, Lan Wangji had the soft look in his eyes and a small smile that sent Wei Wuxian’s heart racing.

“W-Well, since it’s a gift, it would be rude to return it,” Wei Wuxian said as he looked at the pearl again. It was truly beautiful, a hefty gift from the dragon. Life on the mountain was simple; treasures were beautiful to look at, but served little purpose beyond decoration. The concept of money was non-existent on the mountain, where everyone took what they need and give what they can.

“Will you accept it?”

“Ah, yeah!” Wei Wuxian said and safely secured the box again. He didn’t want to bring it with him on his journey. As he was trying to figure out what to tell his nosy mother when we climbed up the mountain again, he only caught the last of Lan Wangji’s sentence.

“Wait, why do you want me to go to Gusu with you?” Wei Wuxian asked, puzzled by the sudden development.

“Mother would like to meet you. You may invite your parents as well. She is quite fond of them as well,” Lan Wangji said, but it didn’t clear up any of his confusion. Why would Lan Wangji’s mother wish to see him?

“Oh, you wanted to invite my parents? You should have just said so. I think mama is also itching to leave the mountain as well. Would be a good thing of her,” Wei Wuxian nodded sagely.

“It may be too soon to discuss wedding terms but–”

“What wedding?” Wei Wuxian screeched. Lan Wangji looked unfazed.

“Our wedding preparation. I intend to follow the traditions of both dragon clan and fox tribe. I wish to ask for your mother’s guidance,” Lan Wangji explained.

“Wait, when did I even agree to this? Did I say something weird when I was unconscious?” Wei Wuxian asked as he racked his brain about proposing or being proposed to. He might have dreamed about starting a small family with the dragon or living by the quiet farmlands away from everyone, but he never told this to anyone. He needed to know if he accidentally shared these but on the positive side, Lan Wangji seemed to be keen on the idea.

“Wei Ying accepted my pearl.”

Wei Wuxian looked down at the box still in his hand and back up at Lan Wangji. Suddenly, Lan Wangji’s words made sense.

“Is… Is this some kind of dragon clan thing?” Lan Wangji nodded.

“If Wei Ying does not wish to go through with it, I will take it back. I wish we can remain friends at least.” Yet when Lan Wangji reached out, Wei Wuxian held the box close to his chest.

“No way! You gave it to me, it’s mine now!” Wei Wuxian said petulantly.

“Does Wei Ying wish to…”

“Yes! Of course, I will! Do you know how many days I’ve been thinking about your stupidly handsome face? Did you know that when we were at the inn, I wished that these days didn’t end because it was peaceful and just, nice to be with someone? Not just anyone, it had to be you! I don’t know how to explain it, but I like being around you…” Wei Wuxian’s face felt warm as he admitted the feelings he gently pushed down every time they tried to worm their way into his thoughts.

Wei Wuxian originally thought he was excited to make a friend that was not human nor someone he grew up with. But he slowly reached his feelings extended beyond friendship or a simple crush on a handsome dragon. He didn’t thought Lan Wangji would feel the same, and yet…

“Maybe you should come with me to meet my shifu and parents before we go to Gusu,” Wei Wuxian said as he pulled on Lan Wangji’s sleeve.

“Mm,” Lan Wangji responded with a fond look. Wei Wuxian suddenly understood why his parents tried everything in their power to stay together, so far as to approach the dragon clan about an ancient ritual. He too wished to live a long and happy life with Lan Wangji at his side.