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Tales of the Five Calamities

Chapter Text

Black water, Hua Cheng’s voice sounded in his head, annoying as always. There’s an emergency .

If he could, if he wasn’t sunk in his debt, He Xuan would ignore him. Right now, he had enough dealing with the last bad idea of the wind master in the human realm. However, he took a deep and unnecessary breath and answered him.

What?

A god had kidnapped our baby.

There were too many things wrong with that phrase and He Xuan wished to never hear it again. If he was alive, he would probably have goosebumps. 

First of all, I don’t have a baby. Secondly, Wei Wuxian is useless and stupid, but not a baby.

Wei Wuxian is our baby and some Lan Wangji god had taken him to the heavens.

Lan Wangji? Who’s that? Never heard his name before.

You’re the spy, find it. And you can always ask your lover, he added and He Xuan didn’t need to see him to know he was smirking.

Leave Shi Qingxuan out of this, he gritted his teeth.

Oh, you didn’t deny he’s your lover.

He Xuan cut the communication.

 


 

For the last centuries, Hua Cheng has had the habit to arrange monthly meetings with the rest of the calamities. While Wei Wuxian showed genuine interest, and He Xuan always complained (but in the end, he wasn’t able to escape thanks to his debt), Shen Qingqiu was the only one who ignored him.

That’s the reason why Hua Cheng decided that, if Shen Qingqiu wouldn’t come to the meetings, then the meetings will go to Shen Qingqiu.

And that’s how it started meeting number 4632 in Qing Jing Peak, the ghostly mountain that was both a home to live in peace and a secret place, far from some gods who kept looking for him.

“His name is Lan Wangji. He’s a literature god that works in Ling Wen’s palace”, He Xuan said, looking bored though the youngest was missing, maybe in danger. “He was one of Lan Qiren’s junior officials when Wei Wuxian died. Their relationship was… pretty peculiar.”

“How?” Shen Qingqiu asked, hiding his face behind his fan. He tried to look indifferent about the kidnapping and upset for the intrusion in his home, but his eyes shined with curiosity.

“Old enemies.”

Hua Cheng narrowed his eye but stayed in silence for once.

“Like Jiang Cheng, Lang Wangji is one of the gods who had been looking for Wei Wuxian these last centuries. Last night the three of them had an encounter in the bloody forest after defeating Qi Rong. Although Wei Wuxian was disguised, his half-brother suspected his identity.”

Crimson Rain shook his head, annoyed, but keeping his silence. It must be a miracle that he hasn’t started rambling yet.

“Jiang Chen tried to capture him, but Wei Wuxian...” He Xuan let out a quiet breath. “Wei Wuxian flirted with Lan Wangji and, surprisingly, it worked. Well, it worked if being abducted was his plan, but considering he doesn’t usually think, I believe he hadn’t a plan at all.” He sighed. “Anyway, it’s not a big deal. Lan Wangji is the infamous Lan Zhan he never shouts about.”

For a moment, they stood in silence. And then, Shen Qingqiu snorted while Hua Cheng clapped his hands. “I’m so proud of our baby, he’s now with his god.” 

The other two calamities looked at him offended because of the use of our baby . They weren’t in poly relationship, no thanks.

“If I ever had a baby as stupid and annoying as him, I should remember,” Shen Qingqiu hissed. “Don’t dare to say it again.” He Xuan nodded.

Hua Cheng ignored them as always. “So, what do we do now? I’m quite sure they won’t stay as enemies for too long.”

Here we go again , He Xuan thought, preparing himself for whatever bad idea Hua Cheng had. However, Shen Qingqiu hit the table with his fan. “We don't need to do anything, he’ll be fine. You said it, he’s now with his beloved Lan Zhan,” he muttered beloved as if it was a curse. “Maybe their relationship used to be strange but now...” He smirked. “You should be happy for him, your son is following your steps.”

Although the confidence in his voice, Green Leaves looked expectant at the other calamity. Black Water crossed his fingers, praying to every god he knew (even Shi Qingxuan) with the hope that Hua Cheng wouldn’t insist on going on a rescue mission to the heavens. After a long and dramatic silence, Crimson Rain smiled. “You’re right!”

Two calamities relaxed on their seats while the other stood up, rolling a couple of dices between his fingers.

And that’s how the war between the four calamities and the heavens never started.

 

Finally alone in his house, Shen Qingqiu fanned with a satisfied smile. “Goodbye Wei Wuxian, I hope you’ll never come back to my home. Now there are only two annoying beasts left.”

 


 

Much to Shen Qingqiu’s annoyance, Wei Wuxian came back after a while. And he wasn’t alone.

But that’s another tale.

Chapter Text

Despite the endless amount of work in Ling Wen’s palace, the first day of every month, Quan Yizhen always came with a bag full of gold asking her if there were any news from Yin Yu. Her answer usually was No. Sometimes, she gave him some pieces of information, but nothing relevant, so the god kept coming over and over again.

On the first day of every month, Liu Qingge came kicking the door and disturbing the peace of the palace. He always asked for new news from the green calamity. Ling Wen, tired, had already in her desk a report of the last activities of Green Leaves, in general involving dismembered bodies.

How odd, she thought, staring absently at the two martial gods while they talked heading to the exit. They became friends thanks to their similar hobbies (well, obsession with a creature that was obviously avoiding them) and their passion for fighting, which was also their answer for every problem. However… Lan Wangji is late. And Lan Wangji had never been late in his life. It was against Cloud Recesses rules.

She looked down to the second report, the one about Grey Flute (that was also the largest of all. That calamity seemed unable to stay away from trouble for more than two and half hours).

And then, instead of Lan Wangji’s steady and calm footsteps, she heard some she couldn’t recognize. Noisier and angrier. Soon she found herself facing Jiang Cheng’s furious eyes. The martial god tried to look calm but failed miserably.

“I need information,” he demanded instead of greeting. “What do you know about Mo Xuanyu? That cultivator Lan Wangji brought with him from the human realm.”

Oh, Ling Wen thought, fighting a smile from appearing on her face. I see. Everything makes sense now.

Maybe she didn’t provide the information they wanted to hear, but nothing escaped her sharp eyes.

Chapter Text

“Much ashamed, but I’ve never heard of them. Who are the Four Calamities?”

A heavy silence felt in the communication array.

Mu Qing said coolly, “Your Highness walked the mortal realm for hundreds of years, and yet you are so ill-informed. I’m really curious to know what you’ve been doing all this time?”

Although the icy tone of the one who used to be his close friend, Xie Lian smiled. “It’s not easy being mortal. There’s plenty of things to busy myself with, and they are all complicated. It’s not easier than being a heavenly official.”

Ling Wen spoke up, “Please remember, Your Highness, the Four Calamities are: Black Water Sinking Ships, Green Leaves Dismember Limbs, Gray Flute Sing Curses, and Crimson Rain Sought Flower. They are the four Ghost Kings of the ghost realm, causing endless headaches to all in the heavenly realm.”

“There used to be another one...” Feng Xin averted his eyes while he spoke. “White-Clothed Calamity.”

Xie Lian didn’t say anything, just clenched his fists.

Everybody knew the story of the fall of the Kingdom of Xianle.

“Even if White No-Face was the first calamity to appear, he is already defeated.” Ling Wen continued. “He’s almost forgotten and four new calamities had born from the chaos of Mount Tong'lu.”

“Black Water Sinking Ships refers to a water ghoul. Although he has reached Supreme status, he’s fairly low-key and rarely starts trouble. Not many have seen before, so we won’t mind him for now.”

“Green Leaves Dismember Limbs refers to a former cultivator, Shen Qingqiu. He’s infamous for dismembering his victims in the same way he was killed. However, he lives in a ghostly mountain and he rarely interacts with humans.”

“Grey Flute Sing Curses is the most active and recent. Your Highness probably had heard the story of the Yiling Patriarch and the horde of corpses under his control during the Sunshot Campaign.”

“Your Highness, the silver butterflies you saw at Mount Yujun are also called wraith butterflies. Their master is the last of the four, and one the world does not want to incur the wrath of… Crimson Rain Sought Flower, Hua Cheng.”

“Hua Cheng…” He whispered, remembering the false groom he met in the forest and his gentle hand. “What a lovely name.”

Another silence felt in the communication array, heavier than the last. It disappeared with Mu Qing and Feng Xin yelling at the same time.

“Xie Lian. NO.”

“Haven’t you heard the part that no one wants to incur his wrath??”

 


 

It was meeting number 4633 and Wei Wuxian was still trapped in the Heavens. However, He Xuan and Shen Qingqiu didn’t miss him at all. They looked intrigued at Hua Cheng, the one that had summoned their presence and was now covering his face with his hands.

“And now what?” Shen Qingqiu demanded, grumpy.

“We held hands,” he cried. “He was the most beautiful bride in the three worlds.”

“Out. Of. My. House.”

He Xuan didn't even bother to add anything. He stood up and drew the distance shortening array in the wall. While it usually took him some minutes, he finished in the span of one incense time and Shen Qingqiu kicked Hua Cheng without a warning.

Chapter Text

The first task of Lan Wangji was to prevent anybody from entering his palace, protecting in that way a Wei Wuxian.

Jiang Cheng tried it without any warning. Lan Wangji thought that he’d give up after their encounter in the forest when Zidian failed in showing Wei Wuxian’s true nature. But, no matter how persistent he was, Wei Wixuan had made it clear his intention of avoiding him, so Lan Wangji wouldn’t let the martial god enter his palace. And after one hour screaming at the door, successfully scaring every god that walked near, he left. Probably to go to Ling Wen’s palace.

Jin Ling arrived next, unknowingly following his uncle’s steps. Luckily, Lan Wangji’s junior officials stopped him before he could knock on the door. And no one could escape Lan Shizu’s kindness and Lan Jingyi’s stubbornness.

Lan Xichen was the last. He arrived and looked at his brother, sitting one in front of the other in the living room.

“I heard you came back with a human cultivator.”

“Mn.”

His eyes widened. “Seriously?”

“Mn.”

“This is so unexpected… I’m so happy for you,” he replied, a sincere smile appearing on his face.

“Mn.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll keep the secret, you can trust your dage.”

“Mn.”

“You know, both of you can come to visit my palace anytime.”

“Mn.”

“I love you too. See you soon, Wangji.”

 


 

The second task was to keep Wei Wuxian inside his palace.

Of course, Lan Wangji knew the true nature of Mo Xuanyu. But, since his beloved calamity wanted to keep the charade, he didn't say a word about it. Not that he usually talked a lot.

Although Wei Wuxian had a different face, he was just the same… annoying, chatty, and restless person of his memories. Death, or maybe his disguise, had turned him more insolent with personal limits. Not that Lan Wangji was especially bothered by his naughty attitude.

Wei Wuxian had entered the bath (occupied), tried to steal his robes (the only ones in the room) and now looked like he also wanted his bed (also occupied). And he reaffirmed his decisions sitting atop his chest, the legs around Lan Wangji’s waist and his hands on the god’s shoulders. Maybe he wanted to use him as his pillow.

Although Lan Wangji would never deny him anything (not anymore, not in this life), this was certainly awkward.

“Get off.” He said after a few seconds in silence.

“No.” He smirked.

Lan Wangji’s heart skipped a beat, but his face remained expressionless. “...Get off,” he insisted. This wasn’t the best moment to suffer a gay panic , as his brother had named his behavior when he was too close with Wei Wuxian back when they studied together.

“No. If you allowed me to sleep here, you should have known that something like this would happen.”

Really? Honestly, he wasn't going to complain. Just in case, he decided to be sure. After all, they didn’t talk enough in the last centuries. “Are you sure that this is what you want?”

The calamity’s smile flattered but didn’t move away, so Lan Wangji understood that he was sure. Although he was blissful for the situation, for having him at his side, for his desire to spend the night with him… Although everything, he knew too well that Wei Wuxian couldn’t remain quiet for more than an hour (or less). So he raised his hand and touched his waist, putting a spell.

Wei Wuxian’s immobile body felt on top of him, his head above Lan Wangji’s chest, just in the same place of his sear. When the god extended the arm to cover them with the sheets, he discovered a silver butterfly flying around the room. It was beautiful, but also seemed as if it was looking at him in a threatening way, like a father judging his future son-in-law.

Even though he never imagined that two of his dreams would become true the same night, he couldn't sleep in peace.

Chapter Text

It was a deep night in the Puqi shrine and Hua Cheng couldn't sleep. Although as a ghost he didn’t need it, he liked to rest some hours. Tonight, the reason for his insomnia was laying next to him. Too close in a small bed. And it was as beautiful as he remembered.

Even though he had decided to draw the most vivid, colorful, shiny, and splendid portrait to the cause of his insomnia, he also wanted to stay a little bit beside him. And scream in silence. Or, in this case, yell to the other calamities.

We’re sleeping in the same bed!!

No, if you were sleeping, you wouldn’t be bothering us in the middle of the night . Shen Qingqiu yelled back.

Really? Wei Wuxian’s voice seemed delighted. Congrats! 

Hua Cheng hummed, satisfied. Of course, his favorite calamity would understand him. Thanks. I’m glad you’re back in the communication array.

I’m not, Shen Qingqiu muttered.

Both of them ignored him.

And what a coincidence, I’m also sharing a bed. Wei Wuxian continued.

I know.

How?

One of my butterflies is watching you. Also, Black Water is near in case that god tries something weird.

 


 

In a distant palace, far away from that modest temple, Wei Wuxial would laugh if his body wasn't frozen.

Lan Zhan is a bit… Nevermind! He wouldn’t… He stopped, remembering his strange behavior and how he had put a spell on him. But… Lan Zhan was already sleeping. Wei Wuxian felt his steady heartbeats under his own cheek. So, apparently, even if the concept was weird, the spell seemed inoffensive.

A silver butterfly fluttered to Lan Zhan’s nose and Wei Wuxian giggled. The god wouldn’t wake up until five, even if a thousand butterflies covered his body.

Remember. Hua Cheng said. If you need help, Black Water will come in an instant.

And He Xuan, who had been in a suspicious silence, coughed. Maybe not tonight.

 


 

In a nameless city in the Human Realm, far away from Xie Lian’s shrine and Lan Wangji’s palace, He Xuan was in trouble. The trouble’s name was Shi Qingxuan and she was drunk, so now he had to listen to the stupid comments of two calamities and a god.

“Ming-xiong!” She whimpered, upset that he wasn’t paying attention. “Ming-xiong!!”

Black Water! Hua Cheng chose precisely that moment to complain. You can’t let our child without supervision!

“For the last time, he’s not my child!” He Xuan screamed at the wrong person.

“Ming-xiong!!! Oh? What child? Do we have a child?”

Noooo! He yelled, again to the wrong people.

I know, I can’t trust the behavior of that Lan Zhan.

Ey! Wei Wuxian objected. Lan Zhan is harmless! Is that kind of person who blushes for everything. It’s super cute how his ears turn red.

He’s not harmless, he put you in his bed.

“Ming-xiong!!!! Do you want me to call you baby?”

Well… Actually, it was me who went to his bed.

“Ming-xiong!!!!! Would you transform too? I have new makeup! Black lipstick just for you~”

“Another drink, please.” He Xuan asked, tired. Maybe if he got drunk, he would stop hearing voices in his head.

Oh, please! Just shut up!

 


 

In a ghostly mountain, far away from everything but not from the voices of the calamities, Shen Qingqiu was trying to sleep without success.

Maybe... Are you jealous? Hua Cheng asked. Although Shen Qingqiu couldn’t see him, he could imagine him smirking. You are the only one without a god in his arms.

And I say thanks for that.

Give us time to find your… dianxia.

No, I’m not going to carry you! You aren’t a princess! He Xuan yelled. And none of them pointed out his mistake.

I heard Liu Qingge it’s looking for you , Wei Wuxian said with a cheerful tone. And he’s very handsome.

Shen Qingqiu shivered with the mention of that name. He was going to have nightmares… If he managed to fall asleep first.

Chapter Text

Wei Wuxian’s costume was Mo Xuanyu (a shameless cultivator) and the circumstances had brought him with his old rival to a liquor shop, alias the best place to search information and had a drink. At the same time!

Mo Xuanyu hadn’t started his three jars yet, but he asked the waiter anyway if he had heard some peculiar events in the area. The waiter was also a talkative person and smiled. He rubbed his hands together. “What sort of peculiar things?”

“Haunted houses, deserted cemeteries, corpses that were cut apart and so on.”

The man stood in silence for a moment under the intense gaze of Mo Xuanyu and his partner.

“Have you heard about the Banyue Pass?”

 


 

Mu Qing, who wasn’t at all in a costume, had the aspect of Fu Yao, a smaller, bitter, angrier version of himself. However, his was tenth time better than Feng Xin’s. Seriously, he couldn’t have picked a different name that wasn’t Nan Feng???

Of course, Fu Yao didn’t want to help his highness again. In fact, he should be happy to not see his face in Heavens. However, he was with the most annoying god in front of the most shabby shrine he ever had the displeasure of visiting. Fu Yao rolled his eyes before his companion knocked on the door.

“You two...” Xie Lian said after opening the door.

Fu Yao rolled his eyes (for the second but not last time). Nan Feng, always so subtle, blurted out “You’re going to the Banyue Pass, aren’t you?”

What a perfect way to not sound suspicious. Luckily, Xie Lian immediately understood their intentions of going with him and asked them a few questions. It was easy to convince him that they were volunteers and he agreed to go with them. Too easy.

Soon, Fu Yao discovered two things. First, Xie Lian wasn’t alone. Second, Xie Lian was the only one with his real appearance.

“STAND BACK,” he shouted when a cute teenager, red-clothed and with a diabolic smirk in his face, showed himself behind his highness.

The worst? He threw a broom to Fu Yao after a little argument. This almost caused the destruction of the shrine. Xie Lian acted like his old self and stopped them. And, although Fu Yao was glad to see that side of his highness, he was still horrified that he was with Crimson Rain Sought Flower. In the same house. After sharing a breakfast. AFTER SPENDING THE NIGHT TOGETHER IN THE SAME BED.

However, as much as both of them wanted to point to the obvious costume of the calamity, it would mean admitting their own. And he would rather die.

Some minutes later, when Nan Feng was drawing the array, they shared a look.

Let’s make an alliance , Fu Yao said in his private channel. It wasn’t the first time in the last years and, as always, he hoped it would be the last.

Just for today .

We’ll unmask Crimson Rain , they thought at the same time. Then, shared another look, this one of disgust.

 


 

He Xuan’s usual costume for the last centuries was Ming Yi, Lord Earth Master. Well, Lady Earth Master thanks to Shi Qingxuan’s puppy eyes. At least, it was more inconspicuous than Crimson Rain Sought Flower’s. Maybe the calamity was a gambling expert, but being subtle wasn’t one of his qualities. Really? Red clothes?? In the middle of the desert???

“Wasn’t that man his highness?” Asked Shi Qingxuan.

“I guess,” she replied, uninterested. Wait a minute , she thought. If Hua Cheng is here, then that person is Xie Lian. And they are also going to Banyue . Although she had a huge debt to the calamity, Ming Yi still had some pride. And she didn’t want to be seen like this. “Yes, you’re right.” She smiled when an idea came to his mind. “Maybe we should protect them, Banyue is a dangerous place.”

Shi Qingxuan’s eyes filled with worry. “That’s true. But how…” Her face lit up. “I know how to do it!”

A sandstorm wasn’t exactly Ming Yi’s plan, but if it worked, she would kiss Shi Qingxuan. When the wind master turned her face to her with a wide smile, Ming Yi changed her mind. That would be a very bad idea. “You know,” she said, instead, ignoring her unnecessary feelings. “You should make that sandstorm... bigger.”

She almost laughed when Crimson Rain was lost in the storm with his beloved god.

“By the way, I was right, Ming-xiong.” Shi Qingxuan said when they couldn’t see anymore the ghost king and his three companions, suddenly leaning closer. Her hand moved to Ming Yi’s face and her thumb stroked her friend’s lower lip, where it lingered more time than was necessary. “The black lipstick suits you. You are especially beautiful today,” she added, shameless enough to wink at her.

Ming Yi didn’t blush at all. The heat on her face was because of the sun, it didn’t have a different reason. “Shall we continue?” She asked, hoping she was hiding how flustered she felt.

 


 

It’s been two centuries since Pei Su started using the costume of a guide and the name of A-Zhao.

Those last years he had been doing the unpleasant and bloody job of sacrificing humans to save Ban Yue, his childhood friend who was punished to be hanged over and over again. And, although he’s close to end her suffering, he’s also close to being discovered.

Why had everyone decided to come here at the same time? He thought, tenser as the hours went on. First, he found his highness Xie Lian and his three friends (two junior officials and one… not human at all) in the cave. Then, Lady Earth Master and Lady Wind Master had decided to haunt them (seriously, what had they lost here?). Now, two suspicious cultivators were examining a corpse. Or, in this case, a part of a human body limbless and headless.

“Ey! Isn’t this the torso of our friend?” Asked one of them with a wide and inappropriate smile considering the situation.

“Mn.” 

The two cultivators were ignored and ignored the clearly not human red-clothed man who had come with Xie Lian and was now massacrasing all the ghosts in the Sinner's Pit. A-Zhao hoped the three of them would continue doing their tasks while he pretended to be dead.

Well, this isn’t what I had planned, but maybe it can work. Almost every ghost was being killed, which meant that in one way or another, Ban Yue would be free. Now he only had to find a way to not go to prison. 

 


 

In the end, Mo Xuanyu didn’t finish his three jars of liquor, Fu Yao and Nan Feng couldn't unmask San Lang, Mi Ying was discovered by Crimson Rain Sought Flower and A-Zhao’s plan failed. And all of them coincided in an involuntary Carnaval.

 


 

Nice boobs.

Nice eyes.

Nice makeup.

Ohh, thanks! Wei Wuxian replied happily although it wasn’t directed toward him and certainly wasn’t a compliment.

Just shut up! And don’t use the communication group to say this nonsense . Shen Qingqiu yelled. He was the only one who hadn’t used a disguise… today.

Chapter Text

“What could I do with Ban Yue?” Xie Lian asked, looking down at the little clay pot in his hands with a worried expression.

“Don't worry gege,” Hua Cheng smiled with confidence. “I know exactly who can take care of her away from the heavens.”

“Oh? That would be great.”

“Yes, you don’t have to worry.”

 

“No.” Shen Qingqiu narrowed his eyes, griming. “And what are you doing bringing here, to my SECRET peak, a god?”

Xie Lian lowered his head. “Sorry, I knew I should have bought you a present after coming without an invitation.”

“That’s not the problem!” He turned to Hua Cheng and his annoying smirk. “What were you thinking?”

And, for the way he looked at his highness, he wasn’t thinking anything besides his beloved god.

“That’s because there isn’t a problem.” Of course, Crimson Rain didn’t seem bothered by the situation he had created. “You already had one snake ghost, what’s the matter of having two?”

Shen Qingqiu frowned, not sharing the logic of his thoughts. It’s not my fault that a shameful number of ghosts follow me and call me their shizun. And he wasn't interested in adding another one.

“I said no.” He stared angrily at the other calamity. “I’m not like Black Water, you can’t manipulate me.”

“I’m just asking one innocent favor.”

“Nothing innocent comes from your mouth!”

Xie Lian looked at both of them, conflicted. “San Lang, if he doesn’t want to, we can search for another possibility.”

Hua Cheng turned to the god, smiling. “Don't worry gege,” he said, lovingly. Then, he turned back to the other Ghost King without a trace of that cute and kind smile. “He’ll accept, he’s just shy.”

You know? Hua Cheng muttered in their private communication. It would be a shame if some martial god discovers the path to your lonely peak.

Shen Qingqiu gritted his teeth. Don’t you dare!

I’m just asking one favor, don’t you dare to say no.

“Fine.” Shen Qingqiu hissed, fanning furiously. You own me one.

Fine. Come to the Ghost City and we’ll discuss it.

I’ll be there in a week.

 

And that’s how Shen Qingqiu ended with a little clay pot in his hands, a lot of blessings from Xie Lian, and Crimson Rain with a debt with him. It wasn’t a bad way to end the day. However, he despised the idea of babysitting another ghost, so he summoned Zhuzhi-lang. He answered the call immediately.

“Master Shen.” He bowed his head. He was one of his most inexplicable loyal ghosts. “What’s the matter?”

“This.” He gave him the clay pot. Then, he remembered that it was lightly important to Hua Cheng, and added: “Take care of her.”

“As you wish, Master Shen.” He looked down at the clay pot. “Can I ask what’s inside?”

“No idea, your new friend.”

Suddenly, the clay pot shook. “My name is Ban Yue.” Said a tremulous voice. “Nice to meet you.”

Shen Qingqiu fanned his face, satisfied. This would solve his responsibility without doing anything and Hua Cheng would have a debt with him. Just perfect.

 


 

Three days later, his perfect dream shattered with the arrival of another undesirable guest.

“Zhuzhi-lang,” he called the ghost, too busy preparing his tea to look for the cause of the disturbance in his peak. “Who is bothering me now? It’s another one of those annoying calamities?”

“No, master Shen.”

Shen Qingqiu raised an eyebrow, interested. Humans couldn’t pass the barrier around the peak. “More ghosts looking for my power?”

“No, it’s alive.”

He froze and his hands started to shiver. “A god?” Damm Crimson Rain and his affairs! I’m gonna kill you and this time you’ll stay dead!

“I don’t sense any spiritual power.”

“Then, what is it?”

“He’s my friend,” a girl said, appearing behind Zhuzhi-lang with a wide smile.

Shen Qingqiu imagined that she was Ban Yue for her quiet voice. After all, it was the first time he saw her outside the pot. “That… doesn’t explain anything.”

While they were talking, the intruder came closer. He knocked on the door, startling them, and opened it without waiting for a response. The moment he stepped inside, Ban Yue ran toward him and crashed into his arms.

Having Ban Yue so close to the intruder was the only reason why Shen Qingqiu didn’t dismember him immediately. Instead, he stared at their hug, so intimate and sweet that he almost had to avert his eyes, disgusted by the sudden love in the ambient. Next to him, Zhuzhi-lang seemed at the edge of tears, probably for happiness.

“They're so cute,” he whispered. “Don’t you think, master Shen?”

“No.”

“But he arranged the death of dozens of people for two centuries because a group of ghosts was hanging her every day! Don’t you think it’s romantic?”

Shen Qingqiu didn’t answer at first. Lucky girl, he thought, gritting his teeth. “You should stop reading human books, that’s a twisted idea of romance.”

Not that he knew what was exactly falling in love. Back then, before his death, he didn’t love anyone and nobody loved him. And now, the idea of romance was corrupted by Hua Cheng’s love gestures toward Xie Lian. Seriously, what ghost in his senses would give their ashes?

 Shen Qingqiu closed his fan with a thud and glared at the couple with the determination of breaking their happiness. 

Ban Yue turned toward him with miserable puppy eyes. It didn’t work. “Master Shen, can Pei Su stay?”

“No.”

“But he’s been banished from the heavens and doesn’t have a place to sleep...”

A banished god? Shen Qingqiu narrowed his eyes, remembering that Hua Cheng had another one working for him in Ghost City. He felt a small thorn of envy in his heartless chest. Then, he smirked, opening his fan to hide his face behind. “Humm… Yes, but he’ll have to earn his place.”

Maybe at the end, I’ll win keeping that Ban Yue under my wing.

 


 

The next Ghost King who came to his peak wasn’t Hua Cheng, but it was almost near annoying. And he also bought a fucking god with him.

“What the hell are you doing?” Shen Qingqiu yelled, with the fan closed in his hand and ready to hit the calamity after he recognized the white-clothed god next to him.

“Solving a crime! Here, our friend had been killed and...”

“No,” he cut him. “I don’t care. What I care it’s that you came with a GOD. What do you and Hua Cheng understand that my peak is SECRET?”

“Oh.” Wei Wuxian shared a look with his companion, which could only be his infamous Lan Zhan. “Don’t worry, Lan Zhan won’t tell anybody, right?”

“Mn,” he replied.

“See?”

And, as if that was enough answer, Wei Wuxian tugged the sleeve of the god and they entered his bamboo house, leaving Shen Qingqiu outside. Fuming, he followed them, wondering if Hua Cheng would get angry if he killed his son .

Wei Wuxian sat down in front of the table while Lan Zhan remained still (but clearly not straight) beside him. “Everything started with an arm.” 

“What?” He asked and for a moment the confusion made him forget he was angry and planning his murder.

“A murderous arm. With a lot of resentful energy, we couldn’t suppress it.” He puts a rotten arm on his pristine and shiny table when he drinks his tea every day. “Then, we found the torso in the Sinner’s Pit, surrounded with more dead bodies.” Wei Wuxian dared to also put the naked torso of a man on his not so pristine and shiny table. “Recently, the arm guided us to the legs hidden on a saber graveyard.”

“That’s enough,” he warned him before he continued tainting his beautiful table. I’ll burn it with you if you don't give a good explanation, he thought. “I don’t need to see them, it’s enough with the arm and the torso. And now, tell me why are you here.”

Wei Wuxian stared at him as if it was obvious. “Because it’s a dismembered corpse,” he said, smiling. 

“Oh.” Shen Qingqiu hid behind his fan, a little embarrassed.

“Everybody in heaven thinks you did it.”

That… made sense. The Ghost King leaned down to have a good look at the corpse, finally showing a real interest. “Hum… Where’s the head? I never behead my victims.”

He only cuts arms and legs, as his worst nightmare did in the past to him.

The two intruders shared a meaningful look. “Well… we haven't found it yet,” Wei Wuxian answered. “Are you saying that you didn’t kill him? That’s a relief. What a shame no one will believe it… But don't worry! We’re here to solve the mystery!”

“Yeah, what a relief...” Shen Qingqiu mocked. “Now, would you mind cleaning my table and leave? I’ll handle this.”

Luckily to his mental health, the arm and torso disappeared from the table. Wei Wuxian stood up, without losing his smile. “There’s no need, you can trust us, right, Lan Zhan?”

“Mn.”

That’s the problem: I CAN’T. Shen Qingqiu fanned trying to stay calm.

“Well, I guess we’re leaving,” the younger calamity said.

NO WAY.

“Wait,” Shen Qingqiu stopped them before they could reach the door although his only wish was for Wei Wuxian to disappear. But he was aware that the Ghost King could mess everything more and he wasn’t interested in being framed for a crime he did not commit (for once). “One of my ghosts will accompany you.” He snapped his fingers. The bamboo house remained in silence for some seconds until they heard a tap-tap against the floor.

Then, a girl with green robes and dead whitish eyes appeared with a bamboo stick.

“Her name is A-Qing.” 

Chapter Text

Shen Qingqiu had left his ghostly Peak to travel hundreds of miles (ok, he used a distance-shortening array, so it wasn’t a big deal) just to meet Hua Cheng, even if the Ghost King always caused him a headache. It was inherent to his nature. And, though his sacrifice and future pain, Hua Cheng paid his great effort ignoring him to be with Xie Lian.

He shouldn't be surprised but… it was humiliating.

Hua Cheng dared to bring the god to his palace and show him all the rooms like the lovely future husband he expected to be, instead of welcoming his actual guest. However, the worst part was knowing that he was relieved. He could stand even less the other calamity if he acted with him like THAT.

It was really humiliating.

Green Leaves left Paradise Manor fanning his grimace. He had taken six steps when his night only got worse. Suddenly, a hand trapped his wrist. He tried to release his arm, but the grip was strong and firm, almost as if his aggressor was made of steel. Shen Qingqiu turned his head, ready to hit and cut the other’s limbs. However, he froze the moment his eyes met ones familiar. He recognized Liu Qingge although he hadn’t seen him in four centuries.

NO , he thought, aghast. What is he doing here? Gods like him aren’t supposed to come to the Ghost City. The blood drained from his face in the split second.

“I finally found you,” Liu Qingge said. His tone was unexpectedly calmed considering the last time they were together. It made Shen Qingqiu feel strangely disappointed. “Ling Wen told me I’d found you here.”

What? One of He Xuan’s jobs it’s to avoid this kind of information, what the hell is that death fish doing?

“Okay, you found me. What are you going to do now?” He asked, hiding his face behind the fan so he couldn’t see how nervous and uneasy he felt.

Liu Qingge raised an eyebrow with a cute confused expression. It was the same of their old days, back when they were disciples in the same sect, and Liu Qingge had to do something that wasn’t fighting. “I thought Ling Wen had talked with you,” he rubbed his neck with his free hand. “I need you to find a kid.”

Wait.

What? 

“C’mon, Lord Wind Master.” He tugged his arm so they could start walking. “I’ll explain it while we search.” 

WHAT?!

Shen Qingqiu followed him. Not that he hasn’t another option, although he may start considering cutting his own arm if the situation got even worse. For the moment, the stupid god seemed to have mistaken his identity for another stupid god. The good news was that he knew the basics of the wind master’s personality trails thanks to some rants of He Xuan. The bad news was those trails of his personality. Seriously, how could Liu Qingge have mistaken him with a loud, chatty, dumb, insistent, childish, and crybaby god??

He Xuan , he called him in their private chat. It was the first time he started a conversation with him in the last years. Maybe centuries. Maybe the first time in forever. I need information about Shi Qingxuan.

What? He asked with evident confusion in his voice, before he added, suspicious. Why are you interested in him?

Shen Qingqiu fought against his pride, which made him want to lie instead of admitting his pathetic situation. Liu Qingge had mistaken me for him , he said, finally, very pissed. And, since it is your fault for not doing your job of keeping Liu Qingge away from me, you had to help me now.

Meanwhile, next to him and still gripping his arm, Liu Qingge was explaining some nonsense of a child that Xie Lian was looking for (why everything was related to Xie Lian??) and he probably expected him to answer soon.

And with now, I mean right now, he demanded. Quick, how would Shi Qingxuan answer if Liu Qingge was talking about a disappeared kid?

He shouldn’t answer because he would be the one speaking , He Xuan replied. His tone was unusually light, as if he was laughing, something that had never happened before. He sounded just like Hua Cheng. If Liu Qingge had mistaken you for him, he doesn’t know him at all.

But I don’t want him to uncover me! He yelled, losing his cool, upset by the lack of sympathy of the other calamity.

Smile.

What?

I bet that you had a grimace, right? And it would be suspicious if you stay behind your fan all the time. So, smile. After all, Qingxuan has the most cheerful and pure smile in the three worlds.

...

You just sounded like Hua Cheng talking about his beloved Xie Lian, Shen Qingqiu said, smiling without Shi Qingxuan’s innocence. 

If you insult me again I won’t help you.

Tensed, Shen Qingqiu lowered his fan and smiled at Liu Qingge. He felt uncomfortable. Liu Qingge was his old rival! An annoying brat that always looked down at him!

“Lord Wind Master… are you alright?” He asked, confused. “You don’t look as usual.”

Damnit, he’d realized something’s off!

I told you to talk and smile.

I’m smiling!!

Your smile sucks. And I don’t need to see you to know it.

Shen Qingqiu controlled the urge of insulting him again with another comparison of Hua Cheng and, instead, took a deep breath. What should I do?

Say you are dizzy and fall into his arms.

Does he usually do that with you?

Just do it.

...

“Oh, no! I don’t feel well,” he mumbled with an obvious fake tone and pretended to stumble with his own feet.

His plan was that Liu Qingge would release his arm, and he did it. Only to catch him a second later. Trapped against his chest, Shen Qingqiu remembered how it felt listening to the heartbeats of a living creature so close to him.

“Are you drunk?” Liu Qingge stared down at him, looking right at his eyes. “Your face is red.”

“No, it’s not!” He protested, pulling him away without success. The shake in his voice made him sound as if he was actually drunk.

He Xuan! What it’s the most annoying thing he has done to you? I need to make Liu Qingge uncomfortable or upset or…

...Well, he’s getting closer.

Closer? He was pressed against Liu Qingge’s chest, but he guessed he could move a little closer.

And he’s repeating my name while he… fuck, Shi Qingxuan, why are you hugging me?!

A hug now? He looked up at Liu Qingge, who was becoming confuser as the seconds passed. At least, it seemed to be working. “Liu Qingge… Liu shidi…?” he mumbled without conviction, wrapping his arms around his waist. And finally, the martial god reacted. He was tense and Shen Qingqiu knew he had won and the god would pull him away.

“Lord Wind Master! Your brother is going to kill you, you are very drunk!”

So, tell me, Crimson Rain, why the hell is Shi Qingxuan in the dungeon almost naked??!!

What?

Hua Cheng’s laugh resounded in his head. You can’t complain.

I’m complaining!

She Qingqiu wanted an explanation. What was happening? Since when they were in their common chat? But he was too busy running away from Liu Qingge, who was so confused that had finally released him, to ask those questions.

 


 

He Xuan’s time in the Paradise Manor’s dungeon had been the vacations he needed away from the Heavens and the annoying gods. However, it came at their end abruptly with the entrance of Xie Lian and Shi Qingxuan, both muddy and disheveled. His friend was wearing a light silk dress, something very usual, but not in his male form. And clearly, not with a dress so translucent that didn’t leave anything to his imagination, and, if that wasn’t enough, it was ripped. His naked chest was too visible, especially when he got closer and hugged him.

“Ming-xiong!” He cried, happily, in his ear. “I finally found you!!”

“What?” He blinked, but the image of Shi Qingxuan with that dress didn’t leave his mind. It probably wouldn’t leave his mind in the next centuries. Or never. “What are you doing here?!”

“Saving you, of course. After all, you’re my best friend!” He beamed. 

“I’m not your best friend,” He Xuan muttered, gritting his teeth, feeling sick as every time Shi Qingxuan called him my best friend . “And I have no friends that would run around in that sort of attire.” Not that he had more friends, maybe Shen Qingqiu. And the Ghost King was too proud to wear something so shameless like that. 

Hum… Hua Cheng’s voice returned, and not to explain the situation. Honestly, I think Wei Wuxian would wear that dress.

He’s not my friend.

Ey! You know I’m listening, right? Protested the calamity that nobody had invited.

Don’t worry, He Xuan is incapable of expressing his feelings properly. In the deep, deep, deep of his rotten heart, he cares about you.

Ohh!!

I don’t!

Yes, you do!

I’m not going to argue about this!

Meanwhile, the two gods were talking, but he couldn’t follow their conversation because of Hua Cheng’s loud voice. That was the reason why he didn’t understand at first why Shi Qingxuan knelt down in front of him. And his brain collapsed when he carried him on his very bare arms. He Xuan found his face pressed against his chest. Was this karma for joking with Shen Qingqiu? He thought. Probably.

“What are you doing?” He hissed.

Shi Qingxuan smiled down at him. “Carrying you, of course! You’re deeply hurt.”

“I can walk.”

“No, you can’t. Right, your highness?” He turned to look at the uninvited god that He Xuan had heard way too much over the years. At this point, it was as if he already knew him.

“He seems, indeed, hurt,” he agreed with a flat tone. “But maybe he prefers to walk on his own feet...”

Just one conversation and He Xuan liked more Xie Lian than Hua Cheng. However, the god’s efforts didn’t work. Shi Qingxuan shook his head and some curly strands of hair fell on He Xuan’s forehead. Absently, he lifted his hand to brush the strands behind Shi Qingxuan’s ear.

“Nonsense!”

And that’s how his vacations ended. I’m gonna miss this dungeon, he thought. However, he wrapped his arms around Shi Qingxuan’s neck.

 


 

Shen Qingqiu’s terrible night lit up unexpectedly. He stared from the distance at how Hua Cheng’s palace burned with delightful flames.

What a beautiful spectacle .

Yeah , He Xuan agreed. Too bad I wasn’t there.

Hua Cheng’s voice didn’t carry his usual light tone. I remember you that this was caused by your wind master. The reparations are now part of your debt.

...

After He Xuan’s attitude that night, Shen Qingqiu didn’t pity him at all. He was going to raise his fan to cover his laugh… when he realized he had lost it. Dam it! He thought. That was one of my favorites . He assessed briefly if it was worth it looking for it, but he decided to return to his lonely and quiet Peak. He could always send Zhuzhi-lang. Or his new fallen god (and show off a little bit in front of Hua Cheng).

 


 

Tonight had been… strange. Liu Qingge couldn’t shake the feeling that something was odd with the Lord Wind Master. Nor that they were close and he had heard about his drunkenness habits, however… 

After the events concerning his royal highness and his royal highness (he wasn’t sure exactly which royal highness everybody was talking about), the heavens had fallen into a state of chaos. As long as it wasn’t a fight involved, he wasn’t interested in those matters, but he supposed that the Lord Wind Master would be in the center of that chaos.

As he predicted, he found the god giving away merits. Liu Qingge approached, indifferent to the merits and the reason he was giving them.

“Lord Wind Master,” he called him. “Here.”

Shi Qingxuan turned to him with a wide smile, one he hadn’t shown in the Ghost City before it turned into a confused expression when he spotted the fan Liu Qingge was returning to him.

“Eh… War god Liu Qingge? Why are you giving me a fan?” He asked, cautious. Near him, the black shadow of a servant of the Earth Palace looked at him. And, although he was smiling, Liu Qingge suddenly felt uncomfortable.

“Cause is yours. You drop it in Ghost City.”

Shi Qingxuan’s expression only became more confused with his explanation. “Eh… No, it’s not mine. Maybe it’s from Nie Huaisang,” he peered closer. “But I don’t remember this one of his collection.”

“No, it’s yours,” he insisted. “You dropped it when you ran away.”

“What?”

“You were visible drunk, I understand if you don’t remember.”

“I wasn’t. I was too busy saving Ming-xiong to have time to drink!” He crossed his arms, a bit offended. “Furthermore, I spent the whole night with his Highness.”

Liu Qingge leaned down to have a good look at the god. Now that he was paying attention, he realized that the Wind Master of Ghost City was taller, elegant in a sharp way, distant, and cold.

“Then… who was that man…?” He asked, shocked, still holding the fan.

He shivered with an unexpected presage. It can’t be him... right?

Chapter Text

Liu Qingge was still in shock when he entered Quan Yizhen’s palace. “It was him,” he said with a broken voice.

The other martial god stopped in his tracks. There weren’t a lot of things that would interrupt his sword training, but his only friend was one of them. He approached him, sending his sword back to the sheath.

“What?”

“It was Shen Qingqiu and I didn’t recognize him.”

Quan Yizhen rubbed his neck, confused. After all the time that Liu Qingge had spent searching for Shen Qingqiu, he couldn’t understand why he didn’t recognize him. Maybe he had changed a lot.

They stood still in uncomfortable silence for some minutes, Liu Qingge staring at some distant point with a gaunt expression that Quan Yizhen had never seen in him before. He wanted to help his friend, but he had the feeling that he couldn’t say anything useful to cheer him up or erase his regret.

“Shall we spar?” he asked. It was their favorite activity.

“Mn...” Liu Qingge nodded but he remained motionless. What was he doing in the Ghost City? He thought. I finally found him accidentally. If I return… Would I find him again? “Let’s spar.”

 


 

It was one of those days in which Hua Cheng was absent, leaving the control of Ghost City in Yin Yu’s hands. Recently, since Xie Lian ascended, it had become very common. In fact, it was strange that he stayed for more than a couple of days. It was understandable, Yin Yu opined. Hua Chengzu was as free as his butterflies and he had very important business with his Royal Highness.

HUA CHENG!!!!!! He Xuan yelled in their communication. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?

Nothing at all, probably. Shen Qingqiu answered without knowing what happened.

YOU CAN’T KIDNAP XIE LIAN. THE HEAVENS ARE IN CHAOS.

C’mon, Wei Wuxiang said, with a cheerfulness that contrasted with the attitude of the other Ghost Kings. It’s funny.

NO, IT’S NOT. THEY ARE GOING TO INVESTIGATE HOW HE ENTERED AND THEY CAN DISCOVER MY SPIES… 

Yin Yu sighed, rubbing his head. He didn’t want to hear the yells of a calamity, but Hua Chengzu had left him in charge of everything, even of his communication of less importance, so now he was an uninvited guest. And he didn’t know how to intervene.

One of his lord’s butterflies flew near his head. It wasn’t possible, but it seemed to be laughing. Of course, Crimson Rain always found out about everything that involved the other calamities. So bad that today he didn’t care enough to answer and explain himself.

In the end, Yin Yu decided to stay in silence and focused on his tasks. There weren’t a lot of ghosts brave and stupid enough to defy the calm, even in the absence of Crimson Rain, but that didn’t mean he didn’t have some problems. And he would discover too late that one of those problems was bigger than he thought.

It started with a god asking some questions about Shen Qingqiu in Ghost City. That was odd and, knowing the awful personality of the calamity, Yin Yu went to see him in person. He didn’t expect to recognize the War God. Yin Yu stood frozen. Liu Qingge hadn’t changed a bit since his banishment; he still had the same proud presence and moved with the grace of a warrior who didn't fear failure. In comparison, Yin Yu felt undeserving of ever having the position of a god.

Although Yin Yu’s wishes that the god would leave after realizing that Shen Qingqiu wasn’t there, he answered the challenge of some boasters and inopportune ghosts. And, the most he fought, the more ghosts joined. Soon, the destruction of a market became worrying.

Yin Yu wielded his sword, hoping he didn’t need to use it and approached the god.

“War god, please, j...”

He was interrupted before he could even finish. He had forgotten that, once Liu Qingge started fighting, he couldn’t stop easily with words. They exchanged a few blows, surrounded by the cheering and ovations of both monsters and ghosts, and Yin Yu discovered what he already knew: he wasn’t a match against the god. He had never been and will never be. However, suddenly Liu Qingge stopped in his tracks.

“You!” He shouted with an expression of disbelief. “Your style is the same as his!”

Of course, Yin Yu’s style wasn’t unique, he was an average cultivator of his sect. It didn’t make it less painful, though.

That pause made him believe that Liu Qingge had finally gotten bored and he lowered his arms, ready to convince him to go away. He didn’t expect the god’s next movement, so fast that Yin Yu couldn’t blink before Liu Qingge was facing him, too close to his liking. And somehow, his mask fell to the ground.

Liu Qingge’s eyes widened.

 


 

Shen Qingqiu was drinking his tea, enjoying the wind caressing his head when the peace was ruined by the yells of his least favorite calamity.

SHEN QINGQIU!!!!!! YOUR GOD HAD KIDNAPPED YIN YU.

What god? He frowned. And how’s that suddenly you are interested in those matters? I thought you were busy with Xie Lian.

Your Liu Qingge came to the Ghost City.

That’s not my problem.

And. Kidnapped. Yin. Yu. My. Subordinate.

Not my problem, I said.

You deserved it, He Xuan commented with a bitter tone.

Why is everybody kidnapping someone today? We Wuxian asked, the first being kidnapped not a long ago.

People tend to imitate me, Hua Cheng answered, shameless. Now , Black fish, do your job on the Heavens and bring Yin Yu back.

Who the hell are you calling Black fish??

Do you prefer Ming-xiong?

… I’ll do as you asked, San Lang.

Hey! Wei Wuxian intervened before the two calamities started planning the other murderer more seriously than usual. I’m also in the Heavens with Lan Zhan, we can help!

Thanks for offering your help. Hua Cheng hummed. Some dead fish should learn of the youth.

And some one-eye should reduce my debt after this. Or, when I’ll send Yin Yu back to earth, we won’t go to Ghost City, but to the sea.

Although they had ruined his afternoon tea, Shen Qingqiu had to admit that this time was for a conversation quite hilarious. He poured more tea into his cup. Although I’m not complaining about the spectacle, I’m a bit curious. Crimson Rain, why hadn’t you contacted Yin Yu? 

He wanted more answers than he felt comfortable asking. He didn’t understand Liu Qingge’s behavior. Did he also mistake Yin Yu with him? It couldn’t be, right?

I tried, but it seems he’s unconscious.

 


 

When Yin Yu woke up he was being carried by Liu Qingge like a sack of potatoes. He recognized the structures of Heaven’s palaces with just one look, after all, he had lived there for years. Confused and terrified, he shut down his eyes, pretending he was still asleep. Maybe it was just a weird dream and soon he would wake up on his bed. However, his head still ached where the god had hit him, and that was enough evidence that this wasn’t a nightmare.

He feared that Liu Qingge would drag him inside a dungeon, maybe to interrogate him about his boss… or a certain missing calamity. But, when he heard a loud sound (of the god kicking the door, because apparently, he didn’t know how to open a door civilly) he opened his eyes and discovered something ten times worse than his fears.

Yin Yu’s first instinct was to pretend he was dead. And honestly, he would rather be dead than face HIM.

“Yizhen!” Liu Qingge shouted. “I found something in Ghost City.”

Something? Are you kidding me?

“Oh! What is it, Liu-shixiong?”

The last time he had heard that familiar voice it was in a dream where he stood in front of a floor filled with corpses. However, although their bitter memories were stained with blood and there were too many unsaid words, Yin Yu felt strangely proud of Quan Yizhen for having new friends. And a bit jealous.

Liu Qingge dropped him. Yin Yu expected to hit the floor, instead, he fell just into a pair of arms that held him.

“Shixiong?” He heard Quan Yizhen’s uncertain and hopeful voice. Then, he was trapped in a hug he couldn’t escape. “Shixiong!!”

The worst part wasn’t that Quan Yizhen squeezed him so hard as if he would never let him go or that he muttered his name as if he had missed him, but the tears that dripped in Yin Yu’s cheeks.

 

Wei Wuxian had two missions. One was rescuing Hua Cheng’s friend. The second was to cause a good impression in front of Black Water. The other Ghost King wasn’t exactly friendly and had disliked him from the beginning, but, if Wei Wuxian had managed to fix his tense relationship with Lan Zhan (more or less), then there wasn’t anything impossible. 

(Except for winning Shen Qingqiu’s respect)

For some reasons he couldn’t understand, two of three calamities acted as if he was stupid and the other treated him as a kid. He wasn’t bothered by Hua Cheng’s affection and protectiveness, although at first he had some difficulties accepting it. After all, he had lost his family twice, and sometimes he felt like he didn’t deserve another one. But, hey, he was getting used to having a new family, and he was tired that two curmudgeons thought he was an idiot.

So, it was time to start the fabulous rescue mission with two partners in crime! Bonding time!

First step: distract the juniors (especially Jin Ling, that had a bad costume of going to dangerous places alone with that terrifying dog). That was easy. He left them in the Middle Court with A-Qing disguised as one of them. The ghost agreed with a smile to not avert her eyes until he came back.

Second step: mislead Lan Zhan. He wasn't a junior, he was a Heavenly Official with years of experience. However, it was even easier. Wei Wuxian accompanied him to the Wind Master’s palace and drank with both of them. Just one cup of wine and Lan Zhan dropped his head into the table with a loud plonk, completely asleep. Then, he left him in the trustworthy hands of Shi Qingxuan, who was glad of having company.

Third step: joining He Xuan in the doors of Quan Yizhen’s palace. 

Wei Wuxian smiled fondly when he found the other calamity. He carried his flute just in case he needed a distraction and had to call Wen Ning (although they were in the Heavens, the ghost general had probed he could go anywhere. Wei Wuxian didn’t know how, but he didn’t complain).

Black Water narrowed his eyes and glared at him with animosity. “You're late. C’mon, don’t mess this.”

“You don’t have to worry, trust me, I have everything under control.”

Suddenly, the blood drained from He Xuan’s face. Just a second later, they heard a very loud and cheerful voice. “Ming-Xiong!!!”

Wei Wuxian laughed at his aghast expression, which was new from his usual grimace. However, his laugh didn’t last.

“Mn,” someone said next to his ear.

“Gray. Flute. Sing. Curses.” Black Water pronounced his name like the worst of the curses. “I’m going to kill you. Twice.”

Before he could defend himself, the doors of the palace were opened.

Chapter Text

He Xuan knew that Wei Wuxian would be more troublesome than helpful, but he didn’t imagine that he would cause this level of chaos so soon. He was staring in disbelief at Shi Qingxuan and the white-clothed god (that he recognized as the infamous Lan Zhan) when he had to turn his head to the next setback. Liu Qingge had opened the doors of Quan Yizhen’s palace and was now glaring at them.

“What’s this noise?”

“A party!” Shouted Shi Qingxuan, trying but failing in his attempts of linking his arm with Lan Wangji. The literature god only had eyes for Wei Wuxian.

After a brief moment of hesitation, Wei Wuxian nodded. “Yeah!”

And, without asking for permission, he entered the palace.

Well, subtlety is out.

Shi Qingxuan and Lan Wangji followed him and, before Liu Qingge could kick them out (literally), He Xuan joined them. This wasn’t what he had in mind, but he adapted easily to the circumstances.

Luckily, they found Yin Yu in the middle of the hall. Unfortunately, he was trapped in Quan Yizhen’s arms. If He Xuan hadn’t seen so many ghosts, he would believe that his objective had passed away.

“Shixiong!” Quan Yizhen cried, so lost in the victim of his hug that he didn’t immediately realize his presence. He didn’t raise his head until he heard Liu Qingge’s protests. Only then, he looked at them. “He doesn’t wake up! Is Shixiong sick?”

Wei Wuxian didn’t let this opportunity fly away. “Yes! I’m a doctor! Let me help you!”

It was amazing in some twisted way that the lie came so easily to him. Not that He Xuan was a bad liar, though.

Grey Flute sat down and took Yin Yu’s arm and placed two fingers in his wrist. “Mn...” He said. For a moment, he sounded like Lan Wangji. “This is serious. Heaven’s air is poisoning him.”

“How could you know that?” Inquired Liu Qingge, esceptical.

Shi Qingxuan poked his upper arm, pouting. “He is a great doctor! Show some respect for the doctors!! Right, Ming-xiong?!”

Although He Xuan wanted to be like Yin Yu and pretend he was dead and not on the worse rescue mission, he nodded. “Yeah, he’s quite good.”

While Wei Wuxian looked at him with a gleeful smile, He Xuan caught Shi Qingxuan’s hand before he could continue poking the martial god. The Wind Master giggled, leaning down until his back was pressed against He Xuan’s chest. He was even drunker than He Xuan had thought at first, so he allowed him to stay like that, worried that he would run away and cause more troubles.

Wei Wuxian, who had recovered his facade of a prestigious doctor, released Yin Yu with a great effort and carried him in his arms. “The ghost energy is inside his body, we need to purify him before it’s too late...”

Before he could finish his lies, Lan Wangji (who had remained all the time quiet and still like a statue) took him by his wrist. “No.”

Yin Yu fell to the ground with a loud thud. To He Xuan’s admiration, the fallen god managed to not move an inch and continued being a convincing corpse. However, he didn’t remain on the floor for more than one second. Quan Yizhen rushed to his side and carried him in his arms again.

“Shixiong!! Are you alright??”

Liu Qingge stepped closer, maybe to check if he was injured, but someone knocked on the door. The martial god went to open as if he was the owner of the palace and not another (uninvited) guest. Thanks to his espionage, He Xuan knew that he spent a lot of afternoons sparring with Quan Yizhen, so it made sense that he was so used.

Curious, He Xuan took a step back to have a good look at the door. Shi Qingxuan, that continued resting his back into his chest, giggled. He Xuan didn’t think twice before tightened his grip to avoid a possible fall. At least one of us is having fun , he thought bitterly. He was mad with whoever had come to the palace, worsening the situation that wasn’t especially easy. Damn Lan Wangji, if it wasn’t for him, maybe Wei Wuxian would have run away with Yin Yu.

Liu Qingge opened the door, moving aside to let Yue Qingyuan enter. Both bowed respectfully, Liu Qingge confused, Yue Qingyuan with a warm smile. He Xuan knew that the new (uninvited) guest was one of the most important literature gods of Heavens and a great warrior. What he didn’t know was what the fuck was he doing there in the middle of the night.

“Greetings, shidi,” said Yue Qingyuan. “Sorry for bothering you. I heard that you had an encounter with… him.”

Perfect , He Xuan thought before connecting to the communication array. Congrats, Green Leaves, there’s another god interested in you.

Shen Qingqiu didn’t answer, probably because he had choked on his tea.

The two gods started talking, indifferent to Quan Yizhen’s incessants attempts of awakening Yin Yu. He Xuan wanted to move closer, but, suddenly, Shi Qingxuan turned and their chests were pressed together. He wrapped his arms around He Xuan’s neck with a playful smile. His flushed cheeks showed that he was incredibly drunk. 

“Ming-xiong.” The fact that he whispered his name instead of yelling, made him shivered. “I want too.”

He Xuan blinked, forgetting for a moment the reason why he was inside this palace surrounded by idiots. “What?”

“Yeah! Like them!” 

When He Xuan made the right decision of turning his head, putting some necessary distance between their faces, he found out that Lan Wangji was carrying in bridal style a flustered Wei Wuxian, just like Quan Yizhen was doing with Yin Yu.

“No.”

“Pleeeeease~”

“NO.”

“Pleasy?”

“NO!”

He did it.

He felt like an idiot, carrying Shi Qingxuan, but at least he had the comfort of not being the only one and the rest didn’t find it strange. In fact, Wei Wuxian had found a comfortable posture and was talking with Quan Yizhen.

“Look, I know exactly what he needs: flute therapy.”

Maybe He Xuan would consider killing everybody in the room and then himself only to avoid Hua Cheng’s laughs, that was surely listening to everything they said.

“What?” Quan Yizhen asked.

“Yeah! Flute therapy, very useful, right, Shi Qingxuan?”

“Yup.” He nodded although he didn’t seem to know what they were talking about. However, for some reason, he seemed to have made a bond with Wei Wuxian and was ready to support the wrong calamity.

“Some of my songs had some healing properties. Let me show you.”

And, without waiting for the god agreement, Wei Wuxian took off a flute of his robes and started playing a melody. The flute was dark and was surrounded by heavy resentful energy, but the song was melancholic and beautiful. Although He Xuan knew it was a lie, it sounded as if it could bring the dead back.

All of them remained in silence, even Yue Qingyuan and Liu Qingge. The most surprising fact was, however, the silent tears streaming down Lan Wangji’s cheeks. 

The spell was broken when someone kicked the door. Liu Qingge, who was standing too close, was hit and, since he was captivated with the melody, his reaction was slow and fell to the ground. He immediately jumped, ready to fight.

“Who dares to kick that door? Show some respect!” He yelled as if he wasn’t the master of kicking doors.

However, the intruder ignored him. 

“WEI WUXIAN!”

“Oh, shit.”

It was Jiang Cheng, storming inside the palace with zidian already in his hand.

Wei Wuxian edged closer to Lan Wangji, trying to disappear inside his outer robes. The god turned a little his body, shielding him. “Mn.”

Jiang Chen approached, furious. “Don’t hide! I know you are here!” 

Even though He Xuan knew that Wei Wuxian’s music summoned his corpses, he’ll never imagine it would also summon an angry god. 

Although Jiang Cheng’s obvious intention of catching Wei Wuxian, Liu Qingge stopped him. Soon, the two gods started fighting. At first with words, then with swords. Wei Wuxian ignored them to continue with his melody, however, his effect wasn’t as potent as before.

Party!!  At Quan Yizhen’s!!

As if He Xuan hadn't enough with all the noises outside, Shi Qingxuan’s cheerful shouting also sounded inside his head. 

“Shi Qingxuan, stop,” He Xuan hissed.

Luckily, the god giggled and (for once) listened to him.

He Xuan was distracted by Shi Qingxuan, so he almost didn’t see the fast green shadow that ran toward Wei Wuxian. He Xuan stared in disbelief at a young girl that he couldn’t recognize (and he kept a good list of every official in Heavens) poking Wei Wuxian with a bamboo stick. It was strange and He Xuan could swear that he had seen her in Shen Qingqiu’s peak.

This second interruption distracted Wei Wuxian and the melody stopped again. The calamity turned to the girl with a mix of annoyance and worry.

“A-Qing? Why are you here?”

He hadn’t finished talking when five junior officials entered, and this time He Xuan hadn’t a problem recognizing them, only knowing the reason for their presence. Jin Ling led the way, carrying himself as proud and angry as his uncle. Lan Shizui and Lan Yingyi were very close to him and were trying to stop him. Liu Mingyan and Ning Yingying were the last. Instead of following the rest of the juniors, both of them stopped near Yue Qingyuan.

“Senior Mo!” Lan Shizui said. “I apologize, we wanted to warn you that Jiang Cheng was coming....”

“Yeah, I figured it out.”

Distracted by their fight, Liu Qingge and Jiang Cheng didn’t realize the company, not even when Jin Ling started cheering up his uncle. Hearing him, Liu Mingyan ran to the opposite side to cheer up his brother. Lan Yingyi seemed to want to encourage one of them, but it was probably against Cloud Recess rules, so he stood in silence.

“Ehem”. A new (uninvited) guest cleared his throat.

When He Xuan turned, he found himself facing Feng Xin. The other god looked uncomfortable inside the palace. He gave off a bloody smell and had a few drops of blood on his hair. He Xuan recognized the consequences of someone who had recently suffered a blood bath by Hua Cheng’s courtesy. With a great effort, Feng Xin stared at Shi Qingxuan, still hanging in He Xuan's arms.

“Lord Wind Master, can I speak with you?”

“Yup!”

“Are you sure? I can come later,” he muttered, embarrassed of having a conversation while the other god was being carried like a princess.

He Xuan nodded. “You should.”

“Nah!” Shi Qingxuan seemed less drunk, enough to make coherent phrases. “What’s the matter?”

“It concerns his Highness.” As time passed, Feng Xin was losing the little spunk that made him make those questions. “Is he… nevermind.”

“Tell me! You can trust me! Besides, he’s my second best friend!”

He Xuan smiled internally. No matter how many new people Shi Qingxuan met, he had been his best friend for centuries and would always be… Black Water froze, remembering who he truly was. Suddenly, he wasn’t so comfortable holding his worst enemy’s brother.

Somehow, Shi Qingxuan pressed enough and Feng Xin dared to explain what had brought him there.

“Xie Lian hadn’t returned to Heavens, nor to his shrine. The last time I saw him was at Qi Rong’s. Do you know anything about him?”

Of course, in the end everything was related to Xie Lian.

Crimson Rain Sought Flower, he called him on the communication array. You aren’t keeping Xie Lian, aren’t you?

This offends me, I’m not Quan Yizhen. Or Lan Zhan, he pronounced his name with disgust, the opposite of how Wei Wuxian said his name.  

Right, you are worse. So? Is he with you?

No, but he’s fine. He just wanted to be alone. You know, Gege is a...

He Xuan cut the conversation before Hua Cheng could start one of his rants of how wonderful, amazing, and skilled his god was. He had heard him enough times in the last centuries.

While he talked with Crimson Rain, Shi Qingxuan had been chatting with Fen Xing, assuring him that he would contact his Highness. Seeing that the Wind Master was okay, He Xuan decided that he should release him soon. 

“Woah! It’s a real party.”

No! He thought when he discovered Pei Ming entering the palace. He Xuan paled. The annoying god wasn’t alone. No… NO.

Pei Ming was insufferable and always a pain to deal with. But he was just a nuisance compared with Shi Wudu. If Quan Yizhen’s palace wasn’t crowded enough, Pei Ming was dragging Ling Wen and Shi Wudu with him. Only one of the three tumors wanted to be there, but the three of them were there, nevertheless.

Shi Wudu’s eyes, so similar but different to Shi Quingxuan’s, immediately fell on his brother. And the calamity that was holding him. When the Water Tyrant stormed into their direction, He Xuan changed his mind and brought Shi Qingxuan even closer. He almost smiled with satisfaction because of the expression of pure fury on the god.

“Ge!” Shi Qingxuan beamed. “Have you come to the party?”

“No,” he hissed. “Now...”

He was interrupted by the sudden arrival of Nie Huaisang, who seemed to appear on He Xuan’s side. “Qingxuan!! Look, I have a new fan!”

“Ohh! It’s so beautiful!”

Shi Wudu cleared his throat, upset by the interruption. He fanned himself, showing off his fan. “Shi Qingxuan,” he called him. “Show...”

Much to He Xuan’s satisfaction, he was interrupted again, this time by Shang Qinghuan, who bowed respectfully (and fearful) next to the Water Tyrant. “Lord Water Master, have you seen Ling Wen?”

He Xuan didn’t have a reason, but his spy’s sense warned him that there was something odd with Shang Qinghuan.

Using the distraction to his advantage, He Xuan turned around, not wanting to be in the presence of his nemesis, even if he was so upset. Still carrying Shi Qingxuan, who was enjoying his position, He Xuan dodged the small crowd encouraging the combat of Liu Qingge and Jiang Cheng and tried to go back with the other calamity and the reason for all the chaos.

In their way, he collided with Mu Qing. Neither of them said anything. The god rolled his eyes before walking away. Mu Qing’s luck wasn’t on his side, cause he collided again, now against Fen Xing’s chest. He Xuan let them alone to not listen to their bickering.

“They are so cute together,” said someone, maybe Liu Mingyan.

“So true,” whispered Shi Qingxuan too close to He Xuan’s ear.

They arrived where Wei Wuxian was still trying to rescue Yin Yu without another mishap. However, considering that his wrists were tied with what looked like Lan Wangji’s ribbon, He Xuan suspected that his plan had sunk. Again.

At the same time they approached the calamity, the kidnapped and the kidnappers, Lan Xichen and Jin Guangyao also came close.

“Wangji...” Lan Xichen wasn’t smiling as usual. Instead, he seemed astonished. Next to him, Jin Guangyao had a similar expression. “What... are you doing?”

“Mn.”

“Ah, that explains everything.”

“Mn.”

“Don’t worry.”

Although Lan Wangji was as emotionless as always, he looked somehow proud when he raised his arm, showing them Wei Wuxian’s wrist tied. Jin Guangyao rubbed his own wrists a bit flushed.

“They seem very good friends,” Shi Qingxuan murmured. “Just like us.”

He Xuan was quite sure that good friends didn’t tie the other wrists with a ribbon. At least, he hoped that Shi Qingxuan didn’t learn anything from them.

Lan Wangji moved Wei Wuxian, who didn’t seem as bothered as he should about his situation, to show him to Quan Yizhen. As expected, the god didn’t care at all.

“I think Senior Mo’s therapy worked. Shixiong looks better.”

Of course, Yin Yu was alive. And being in the arms of his shidi so close and all that time had caused him an evident pink tinge on his cheeks.

He Xuan had to admit it was impressive that Yin Yu remained as stiff as a corpse. Maybe he was used to being embarrassed after hearing Hua Cheng’s rambling about Xie Lian. And speaking of the devil… A silver butterfly landed on He Xuan’s shoulder. It was impossible (mostly because Hua Cheng had only one eye), but it winked in his direction.

It was the only warning before Jun Wu himself entered the already too crowded palace. Behind him, Lan Qiren was scolding. All the conversations died and the battle stopped.

“The party is over,” Lan Qiren growled. However, Jun Wu was smiling, as if he found it rather funny than annoying.

When He Xuan turned his head back, Wei Wuxian, Yin Yu, and the butterfly were missing. 

At least the rescue mission is over , he thought. 

Chapter Text

He Xuan woke up as usual in his bed inside Earth palace. What was unusual, however, was the presence of the Wind Master cuddling next to her. He Xuan sighed, remembering the events of the party, that, much to Lan Qiren’s wishes, had just begun and continued for a couple hours despite the disappearance of two of the guests. The night had passed in a blur and at some point, He Xuan got bored and, since there wasn’t any food nor mission to make him stay, Shi Qingxuan agreed to call the night.

What she didn’t remember, though, was how on earth did she agree to change into her female form and let Shi Qingxuan sleep in the same bed.

She sighed, tired about her imminent conversation with Hua Cheng. She knew that the calamity wouldn’t let the chance to mock the failure.

Next to her, Shi Qingxuan stretched her arms. Although she always allowed the effects of the alcohol, she hated the hangovers, so she tended to eliminate them. That was how she was capable of getting up with a wide smile and not side effects.

“Ming-xiong!” She greeted her. At some point in the night, she had taken off her outer robes and was now only wearing her inner robes without shame. “Good morning!”

He Xuan growled as a reply, looking for Shi Qingxuan’s missing robe. She couldn’t find it, so she got up and grabbed one of her own. She threw it to her without gentleness.

“Don’t walk inside my room like... that .”

“Oh! Thanks, Ming-xiong!!”

She had thought that it could be better if Shi Qingxuan wore more clothes, but she wasn’t ready to see her with black outer robes. Her own robes.

Shi Qingxuan started talking, but He Xuan paid no attention. She was busy regretting the decisions that had led her to that situation.

“...And that’s why I want to have a few drinks with Mo Xuanyu and Lan Wangji.”

He Xuan shivered, suddenly listening very carefully.

“No.”

“Yes! Let’s go one night together! Just the four of us.”

“No.”

However, she knew that it was a lost battle.

Ey, Black Water… Started an insufferable voice through the communication array.

NO!

 


 

Lan Wangji woke up alone for the first time in weeks and without memories of last night. He blinked, confused and with a pounding headache. There was something strange in his chamber, but he couldn’t figure out what. He stood up, dizzy, and remained still for some seconds.

It’s the silence , he thought, finally.

Somehow he had gotten used to Wei Wuxian’s voice, the conversation they always have. His absence felt heavy and almost tangible. However, Lan Wangji couldn’t touch him, couldn’t even know where he was. One more time. Just like the last two centuries.

And he missed the only friend he ever had.

His heart was racing inside his chest, but his face didn’t betray his turbulent emotions and the pain he carried with him until Lan Xichen’s palace.

His brother welcomed him at the gates as if he knew he was going to come. Jin Guangyao was also inside, although he seemed ready to leave.

“I don’t keep bothering you, Zewu Jun.” After seeing Lan Wangji, Jin Guangyao kowtowed in front of Lan Xichen, who immediately caught his arms, silently asking him to raise his head.

“You never bother me,” he replied with a smile that he only had in his friend’s presence.

Lan Wangji waited until Jin Guangyao walked away and was far enough to not hear them and his brother closed the door. For once, he used words to communicate with him. That indicated that the matter that had bought him there was serious.

“Wei Ying is missing,” he whispered. “I don’t remember what happened last night.”

Did he, for some reason, kick out Wei Wuxian? Did Wei Wuxian run away without saying goodbye?

“Last night...” Lan Xichen looked strangely uncomfortable. “There was a party at Quan Yizhen’s palace and you were with him… When I arrived with A-Yao, you were drunk.”

Lan Wangji paled. Unconsciously, he raised his hand to his chest. He remembered the consequences of the last time he was drunk.

“Then, you tied his hands with your ribbon,” he finished and Lan Wangji finally understood his embarrassment. “I don’t know exactly what happened, but suddenly he and your ribbon were missing and you were looking for him.”

To his surprise, Lan Wangji realized that he wasn’t wearing his ribbon. He was so anxious thinking about the absence of Wei Wuxian that he hadn’t realized until that moment. He had walked through Heavens showing his forehead for the first time (and hopefully, last).

As he expected, Lan Xichen had another ribbon. Lan Wangji felt that a part of his anxiety disappeared once he had a ribbon back where it belonged. He had found Wei Yin once, he would find him again, even if he had to descend to hell.

“Who else was at the party?” He asked after a minute in silence.

He heard a bunch of names he didn’t recognize, but a few he knew. However, the only girl that Lan Xichen didn’t know her name was who caught his attention. True, he thought. Wei Ying’s friend introduced us to A-Qing. Maybe one of them can tell me something.

Lan Wangji thanked his brother’s help. Lan Xichen accompanied him back to the gates of his palace, where he stood, indecisive.

“Have you tried using the communication array?”

“I don’t have his password,” he confessed.

Next time, he’ll ask him. And he was sure that there was going to be next time.

Resolutive and with an objective in mind, Lan Wangji left the palace. He walked with his usual calm to Middle Court. Looking for A-Qing was easy, he only had to follow Jin Ling’s noisy voice, which was always protesting (too similar to his uncle in Lan Wangji’s opinion).

Lan Yingyi stopped arguing with the brat and ran in Lan Wangji’s direction to greet him. He arrived at the same time as Lan Shizui. 

“Hanguang-Jun!”

“Mn.”

He asked them without words to show him where A-Qing was. Lan Shizui, diligent, led the way inside the common palace, leaving Jin Ling outside (at least they tried. The brat followed them, pouting). A few of his juniors shared the building with another group, causing a strangely chaotic palace. It should be impossible that a dozen of gods were so disastrous, but they were the living probe that it was, indeed, possible. Lan Wangji didn’t scowl them, but one look was enough to make them lower their heads, ashamed. Disarray was against Cloud Recess rules.

They found A-Qing with Liu Mingyan and Ning Yingying. The two goddesses were telling the girl an encounter they had with a devil and sensual ghost who tried to kidnap them. A-Qing was listening with a small smile, relaxed while they combed her hair. However, hearing Lan Wangji’s steps, she raised her head. Somehow, she seemed to presage that the god wanted to discuss an important matter.

Without saying goodbye, Lan Wangji and the small ghost get out of the living room, leaving behind the juniors. The last thing he listened to was Jin Ling protesting (what a surprise) that he refused that they combed his hair while Lan Shizui agreed happily.

They descended to the Human Realm, after all, A-Qing shouldn’t be in Heavens and he knew that Wei Ying wasn’t there, either. On an empty road, they looked at each other. Or, at least, Lan Wangji looked at her trying to communicate without words as usual. This time didn’t work. A-Qing didn’t know him enough and couldn’t even see him.

“Wei Ying had disappeared,” he started. “Do you know where he could be?”

A-Qing shrugged as if she was saying I don’t know and I don’t care .

They stood in silence.

“Wei Ying is important,” he insisted after ten minutes. 

The ghost shrugged with the same indifference. But, suddenly, her face lit up. For the next minutes, she made some confusing gestures, pointing to herself, Lan Wangji, and the road at their side.

“You are also looking for someone,” he finally understood.

She nodded. Her white eyes seemed brighter.

“Who?”

 


 

Xiao Xingchen woke up after an endless nightmare. He blinked although he didn’t have eyes. The darkness that surrounded him didn’t let him know that he was inside a hut, neither that, somewhere, three different ghosts were looking for him.

Slowly, he raised his hand. It was difficult moving it because of the incessant shaking, but he managed to touch his neck. He felt the scar behind the bandages, burning like the night he tried to kill himself. He laughed without a trace of joy. It sounded broken, barely a whisper. Of course, a fallen god like him couldn’t die so easily.

“Oh, you’re awake.”

Xiao Xingchen tensed hearing an unknown voice. It belonged to a man and he didn’t recognize any maliciousness from it. However, he couldn’t relax nor trust him. Not after what happened last time.

“Who... are you?” He asked, weakly.

He wasn’t going to make the same mistake.

“My name is Mu Qingfan, I’m a doctor,” the nice voice replied. Xiao Xingchen felt on his lips the pressure of a glass of water and drank. “You’re safe here.”

Xiao Xingchen hadn’t realized he was trembling. “Where am I?”

“In the lands of the Rain Master.”

“Yushi...?” He recognized her. The Rain Master was already a goddess when he ascended.

He remained in silence, his third question burning in his tongue. “Who brought me here?”

“A black-clotted ghost. He didn’t say his name.”

It was Song Lan… Or Xue Yang? Xiao Xingchen shook his head. No. That was unbelievable.

Chapter Text

It was a bright day in Qing Jing Peak, quiet and silent, without any trace of calamities, gods nor Xie Lian. Shen Qingqiu had the best mood he had had in years, so he was teaching Pei Su how to prepare tea. It had been a while since the last time he acted as a Shizun and it felt nostalgic in a good way.

Like every moment of his life and death, it crashed down suddenly. 

Zhuzhi-Lang and Ban Yue raised their heads first. The girl’s snakes that had been crawling on the floor, hissed and ran to hide behind her. Pei Su put down the teapot on the table and moved a hand to his sword’s hilt. He didn’t wield it, however, and waited until the intruders knocked on the door of the bamboo house. At least they are polite , Shen Qingqiu thought, grimacing.

He decided he was going to kill Wei Wuxian for good when Lan Wangji opened the door, followed by A-Qing, who didn’t seem as ashamed as she should. 

Shen Qingqiu narrowed his eyes, looking for the familiar figure of the youngest calamity, but Wei Wuxian was missing. That explained the educated greeting. “What are you doing here?” He demanded, assessing if he should kill the god now or later. He decided to wait only because the last time Lan Wangji came to his SECRET peak was for a good reason.

“Mn.”

“What?”

Somehow, the mute ghost was more talkative than the god. Next to Lan Wangji, A-Qing was waving her bamboo stick, but Shen Qingqiu didn’t have the patience to interpret her.

“Explain yourself or I’ll cut your tongue.”

Lan Wangji didn’t show any fear of his threat. Not that he showed any emotion either. Shen Qingqiu had seen snakes more expressive. Hell, in comparison he could even understand Ban Yue’s snakes’ feelings.

“Wei Ying is missing,” the god said with a flat tone.

“Thanks for the good news.”

“I need his personal password,” Lan Wangji continued as if he hadn’t heard his comment.

“And why exactly do you think I have the password of that nuisance?”

“Because you are also a Ghost King.”

Fuck you, Wei Wuxian . Shen Qingqiu gritted his teeth. Perfect, the god was sure of his true nature and now he’ll have to kill him. Even if that made Hua Cheng happy… Ugh. He needed to abort that idea. Hua Cheng’s happiness was against his moral code along with never using a horrendous fan.

“Although I’m also a Ghost King, that doesn’t mean I have his password. Now go.”

Lan Wangji stood like a stone, looking at him with an intensity that contrasted with his expressionless face. He didn’t move until Zhuzhi-Lang made the mistake of opening his bloody mouth.

“Our Master can always ask Crimson Rain, right Master?”

“I rather die than pronounce his infamous password,” he muttered with disgust. He took a long pull from his tea, trying to erase the bitter sensation from his throat.

Zhuzhi-Lang paled and lowered his head, aware of his error. Sometimes the snake ghost had the bad costume of being nice to some strangers although Shen Qingqiu had tried to amend it.

However, encouraged by the intervention of the snake ghost 1, the snake ghost 2 thought it would be a great idea to collaborate.

“What about Black Water?” Ban Yue asked with a small smile and too many good intentions.

“No,” he replied, hoping to end the conversation.

He wasn’t successful.

Four pairs of eyes (five if he counted A-Qing, who always managed to seem that she was looking in the right direction), were fixed on him. Drinking tea with that attention was, at least, uncomfortable.

Shen Qingqiu sighed. He could send his ghosts to fight the god or even fight him himself, however, he had the feeling that Lan Wangji would come back. Over and over again. Although it wasn’t possible, he was sure that if he killed him, he would come back anyway as a ghost.

Green Leaves fanned, letting the beautiful teacup on the table with disdain. This wasn’t a favor, neither a surrender. Agreeing was a tactic decision.

“You owe me one,” he growled before opening his communication with He Xuan.

Black Water. I had a nuisance called Lan Zhan asking me for his Wei Ying’s password. Do you know what it is?

Far far away, He Xuan felt sorry for the other Ghost King. No. Why don’t you ask Crim- Nevermind.

Damn it, the stalker god won’t leave until I give him a good answer.

How’s that you haven’t killed him?

Hua Cheng.

Ah. That makes sense.

They stood in silence for some seconds while the ambient inside the bamboo house became tenser.

I guess I could ask Shi Qingxuan, He Xuan said suddenly. He didn’t sound confident. Somehow, yesterday he became friends with him. Maybe Wei Wuxian told him.

Shen Qingqiu’s hope died when He Xuan talked again. No, he was too drunk and doesn’t remember it. No. Wait, Shi Qingxuan, don’t…

 


 

“Don’t ask Ling Wen,” He Xuan hissed.

Unfortunately, Shi Qingxuan did what he did the best: ignored him. “I’ll get the password, don’t worry, Ming-xiong! And we’ll go to drink together!”

“Shi Qingxuan, no.”

It was too late.

 


 

Ling Wen~

Yes, lord Wind Master? Ling Wen rubbed her temples. She has the suspicion this wasn’t an official business.

I have a very important question~

The suspicion went from possibility to certainty. She wasn’t paid enough to deal with Shi Qingxuan on the communication array having Shi Wudu rambling about Ming Yi next to her. Yes? She asked, already tired.

I was wondering if you have the password of…

Please, she interrupted him with a bad feeling. Don’t tell me you are also looking for a ghost or a fallen god.

No!

Ling Wen sighed. At her side, Shi Wudu nodded, wrongly assuming she was paying him attention. “Exactly,” he said. “Even if he is one of the elemental lords, his attitude with my brother is indecent and...”

However, Ling Wen had relaxed too soon.

I’m looking for Mo Xuanyu’s. You know, Lan Wangji's newest friend.

Ling Wen asked herself if she was the only one who had deducted Mo Xuanyu’s real nature. Considering that a common human didn’t have access to the spiritual array, it was a miracle nobody had figured out yet.

No, I don’t have it. But I’m quite sure Jiang Cheng has it. Good luck.

Oh! Thank you!

The goddess smiled. Now she only had to deal with the other Shi brother. Maybe she should call Pei Ming.

 


 

“I have good and bad news,” Shi Qingxuan summarized with a wide smile. “The bad news is that Ling Wen didn’t know about it.”

“Obviously.”

“The good is that she suggested that I ask Jiang Cheng!”

“That’s also bad news,” he pointed, too aware of the unbearable personality of the god. “Have you ever talked with him?”

“Ming-xiong! Don’t be like that!”

“You haven’t.”

“But it’s okay,” he shook his closed fan. “We can always ask Jin Ling to ask his uncle.”

He Xuan rolled his eyes as if he was possessed by Mu Qing.

“As if the nephew had a more approachable personality.”

Shi Qingxuan clicked his tongue. His disappointment didn’t last long, though. “But Jin Ling is very close to the Lan juniors. And they are friends of Liu Mingyan. And Huaisang and Liu Mingyan are besties!!”

“Those two are so close?”

Shi Qingxuan coughed something that sounded fairly similar to smuggling porn books . He continued talking before He Xuan could think too much about that. “Anyway, this plan is infallible! I’ll ask Huaisang to ask Liu Mingyan to ask Lan Shizui to ask Jin Ling Jiang Cheng’s password so I can ask him for Mo Xuanyu’s!! What could go wrong?”

“Nothing,” he replied with a blank expression and a lot of sarcasm.

The Wind Master or didn’t realize or didn’t care. He Xuan had the feeling it was the second option. “Let’s go!”

 


 

Huaisang!!

Qingxuan!! I was thinking about you! Have you heard about the new shop in the Capital? Jin Guangyao told me they have some beautiful fans!

They spent almost an hour talking about fans and going together one day before Shi Qingxuan remembered his mission. Huaisang, this is urgent. I need your help.

Of course! What do you need?

Mo Xuanyu’s password. As if Ming-xiong could read his mind and knew he was about to start telling him the full story, he nudged him. Long story short, I need Jiang Cheng’s password to ask him.

Oh, sorry, some days ago he got mad with me and changed it.

Ups, I almost forgot you two are childhood friends. Well, It doesn’t matter. What I need is that you ask Liu Mingyan, so she can ask Lan Shizui, who is friends with Jin Ling, who surely knows his uncle’s new password!

Hum… Wouldn’t be easier just looking for him?

Nah, this way is funnier~

Nie Huaisang burst out laughing. You are right! Hang on, I’ll talk with the best Liu.

Thanks, best Nie!

 


 

Hey! Liu Mingyan, are you busy?

Greetings, Nie Huaisang. No, I’m just finishing my last novel. What’s the matter?

You can’t drop that bomb and not expect me to ask! Who are the protagonists this time? Please, tell me!!

Mu Qing and Fen Xing.

Ohh, this will be so epic!

As always, they spent the next hour discussing the best celestial couples. Just when he pointed out how cute the earth and wind masters were together, he remembered his friend’s request. Crap. I almost forgot. Can you… How was it? Oh, right. Can you ask Jin Ling to ask Lan… Lan Jingyi to ask Jiang Cheng’s password?

Jiang Cheng’s password? Is he mad with you again?

Yeah, but I already have a plan to fix it. No, I needed it because Qingxuan wants to ask him Mo Xuanyu’s password.

Mo Xuanyu? Lan Wangji’s friend ? Okay, everything for love.

By the way, are you planning to write something about them??

Tonight I’ll start. That’s all I’ll tell you for now.

You’re clearly the best Liu!!

Thanks!

 


 

Meanwhile, in the ghostly peak back in the human realm, Shen Qingqiu was starting to feel anxious. Lan Wangji was staring at him and he was pretty sure that he hadn’t even blinked since he arrived. Black Water, hurry up!

I’m trying!

 


 

Good evening, Jin Ling.

Liu Mingyan? Eh... Good evening. I guess. Do you want anything?

Yeah, just a small favor. 

No, I won’t tell you what happened last month in my mission with Lan Shizui and Lan Jingyi. I don’t want to appear in… in one of your indecent books!!

Hey, I also write romance. But don’t worry, I’ll drop it. No, what I need is you to ask Lan Jingyi to… She thought for a second. Nie Huaisang’s plan was just a bit complicated, it was better to shorten it. So he can ask Jiang Cheng Mo Xuanyu’s password.

And why should I ask Lan Jingyi? I can do it! He’s my uncle, not his.

Well, if you want you can do it. But I wouldn’t want to be there to say something related to Mo Xuanyu.

She knew that Jin Ling was proud, but not completely stupid.

...I’ll ask him.

 


 

Hey. Lan Jingyi.

Hey! The rich brat is talking with me! This is a special occasion.

C’mon, cut the crap. Look, I’m not doing this because I want, but for Liu Mingyan. She needs you to ask Jiang Cheng Mo Xuanyu’s password.

Why me? I’m too young to die!!

You are a god!

So are you!! And his nephew! Ask him yourself!

Don’t be such a coward!

You are the coward!

Almost half an hour later of yelling at each other, Lan Jingyi finally found the solution. Look, what we need is tact. What we need is Lan Shizui. I’ll ask him.

Good idea.

When have I had a bad idea?

 


 

Another half an hour later, Lan Jingyi opened the communication array he shared with his best friend. Lan Shizui, you won’t believe it.

Good evening, Jingyi. So good to talk with you. What’s what I won’t believe?

The rich brat asked ME for help. Ha. I couldn’t believe it at first.

That’s… Surprising.

Yeah. He needs Mo Xuanyu’s password, but he doesn’t dare to ask his uncle. Could you ask him? Please??

Lan Shizui, too pure to this word, was incapable to deny him anything. … Of course, you can count on me.

 


 

Black Water!! Lan Wangji isn’t blinking! He’s worse than all the ghosts of the Ghost City together! Even the snakes are hiding from him.

He Xuan, however, was too busy dealing with Shi Qingxuan asking him to go down to a new shop to reply to the other Ghost King.

 


 

Lord Cheng, sorry to bother you.

… Who are you?

Lan Shizui, sir. One of Lan Wangji’s juniors.

Although Jiang Cheng was alone in his chamber, he rolled his eyes after hearing the name of Lan Wangji. He suffered the same illness as He Xuan, what some months later would be called Mu Qing’s disease for the increase of angry gods and ghosts rolling their eyes.

What does he need now?

Eh… N- Lan Shizui stopped. He wasn’t going to lie, he just thought that it would be better if Jiang Cheng believed it was Lan Wangji asking and not his nephew. Mo Xuanyu’s password, sir.

What-? How would-? So he’s not human!! I was right, he’s Wei Wuxian.

Wei… Wuxian? He muttered, confused. He only knew one calamity with that name.

And I bet he still has the same stupid password.

Lan Sizhui nodded, realizing he didn’t need to ask him anything. Jiang Cheng seemed very chatty with that topic.

And Lan Wangji doesn’t know it? He laughed without joy. He doesn’t know that Wei Wuxian used rule 69 of Cloud Recess?

Oh! I know that one, thank you, sir. But… Why would a calamity use a Cloud Recess rule?

For the next hour, Jiang Cheng found a too kind soul that didn’t dare to interrupt his rant about his scholar years and all the times Wei Wuxian broke one of the rules.

While the god talked, Lan Sizhui made a little pause to talk with Lan Jingyi. The password is rule 69, he whispered.

One of our rules? Why?

Lan Shizui doubted for a second. He didn’t want to break the rule of talking behind others’ back but, as Liu Mingyan had told him once, this was called gossip and didn’t appear on the Wall of Discipline. Because, apparently, Mo Xuanyu is Wei Wuxian. And he went to Cloud Recess.

 


 

Jin Ling!! Did you know that Mo Xuanyu is a Ghost King!! 

No way. My uncle was finally right?!

Yeah! You know what it means?

We have to report him!

No! It means we received lessons from a Ghost King. Isn’t it awesome?

No!! It’s… It’s wrong!

Ohh, someone is a coward.

I’m not afraid of him!!! And anyway, I don’t believe it. What kind of calamity would be scared of Fairy?

Hum… You made a point.

Phh. Now tell me the damn password.

It’s easy, the rule 69 of Cloud Recess.

69?

Yeah. You know it?

Of course, I know it! How would I don’t know it?

 


 

Liu Mingyan, I had the password and a gossip. If you promise me to never write anything about me with Lan Sizhui and Lan Jingyi, I’ll also tell you the gossip.

Hum… It’s spicy?

Yes. Deal?

DEAL.

Mo Xuanyu’s real name is… He made a dramatic pause. Wei Wuxian. And his password is rule 69.

AAAAAAAAAAAH!!!! RULE 69 WILL BE THE TITLE TO THEIR STORY! A FORBIDDEN LOVE BETWEEN A GOD AND A CALAMITY!!!! 

… What?

 


 

Nie Huaisang, you won’t believe it, this is way better than I anticipated it.

Do you have evidence that Jin Ling is actually a calamity and has two boyfriends?

No! It’s better. The calamity is Mo Xuanyu. Lan Wangji is screwing a calamity!!

Holy shit. I’ve always known that there was something between them! Good for them.

Nie Huaisang fanned, pensative. He didn’t predict this twist. His old friend always liked red, would that mean that he was the infamous Crimson Flower? No, he was too old and Wei Wuxian died earlier. And… There was a calamity called Gray Flute Sing Curses. A flute, just like Wei Wuxian.

The god bit his lip. He needed to share this information with his best friend, but Shi Qingxuan talked too much, especially drunk. The last thing he could do for his old friend was cover him. At least a little. After all, he was a specialist of pretending to be dumb and distort some pieces of information.

And what’s his password?

Rule 69, she smirked.

Maybe Wei Wuxian was a ghost, but his sense of humor hadn’t died with him.

 


 

“Ming-xiong! Huaisang had answered me.”

He Xuan raised his head, grateful for the distraction. After two hours, all the fans looked the same to him, although he had realized which one had caught most of Shi Qingxuan’s attention. If he had the password, he would buy it for him.

“So?”

Shi Qingxuan giggled. He stepped closer to whisper in his ear: “Mo Xuanyu is a calamity.”

Although he was dead, He Xuan shivered, both for the proximity and for his words. “That’s impossible, don’t say nonsense.”

“But he is!! Don’t you think it’s cool that we had a Ghost King on Heavens and nobody but us knows it?”

Years of having a poker face allowed He Xuan to not change his expression. “It doesn’t make sense.”

“Ming-xiong! You have to believe me! And it makes a lot of sense. Why do you think nobody had heard anything about Black Water Sinking Ships?”

No.

NO.

“He. Is. Not. Black Water,” he hissed. “If something, he would be Crimson Rain.”

“Hahaha, you are so funny sometimes, Ming-xiong.” Shi Qingxuan poked his cheek with a mischievous smirk. “Also, his password is rule 69.”

There’s no doubt he is Hua Cheng’s son, he thought.

 


 

The moon was bright in the sky when Shen Qingqiu could finally tell Lan Wangji the password. He covered his face behind the fan, embarrassed that Wei Wuxian was a calamity like him. Seriously, couldn’t they drop his category? “Rule 69. Now, go away.”

Lan Wangji’s expression didn’t change, although he was pretty sure that his ears pinked a little.

“Mn.”

 


 

That night, in Paradise Manor, Wei Wuxian was chatting with Yin Yu and Hua Cheng when an angry voice yelled inside his head.

WEI WUXIAN.

“Tsk, it has taken him 200 years to figure out I haven’t changed my password.”

Chapter Text

Hua Cheng started the meeting 6634 with a murderous gaze. However, Shen Qingqiu knew him enough to not be worried. Hua Cheng’s priorities weren’t usually logical.

I bet it’s about Xie Lian , he told He Xuan through their personal communication array.

At the other side of the table, Black Water nodded.

“This is a catastrophe,” Crimson Rain started, exaggerating like always. “Black Fish, could you explain this?” He threw a small book to the middle of the table.

Wei Wuxian and Shen Qingqiu leaned down with different levels of curiosity, but He Xuan remained with his back straight. His expression was somehow funny, furrowing his brow a bit embarrassed.

“What kind of title is Rule 69 ?” Shen Qingqiu asked with disgust, aghast that the number seemed to be following him nowadays.

“The title of a porn book?” Wei Wuxian joked. He was faster and grabbed it first. “I’ll read the prologue.”

He Xuan growled, covering his face with his hands. “Please, don’t do it.”

As expected, Wei Wuxian ignored him. He started reading with a melodious voice. “This is the story of forbidden love between a god… and a Ghost King. Ey, this sounds nice!”

“Stop.”

Shen Qingqiu, who didn’t want to know which calamity was in the book, agreed with He Xuan and tried to hit Wei Wuxian with his fan. The hit was blocked by Lan Wangji’s hand. Because, of course, the god was there. In the meeting of the four calamities, not the four calamities and one god. The worst part was that Lan Wangji was so silent that it was easy forgetting he was on Wei Wuxian’s chair under the youngest Ghost King.

Earlier, Shen Qingqiu had prepared only four chairs with the vain hope that the god would get the hint and leave. It didn’t happen and, instead, he had his arms around Wei Wuxian’s waist and now also protected him. As if the calamity needed protection.

“Please, Wuxian, continue,” Hua Cheng said with venom in his voice, a mischievous smile, and his eye fixed on He Xuan.

“Alright! Unable to stay apart, they defy destiny and the Ghost King went up to the Heavens so they could lay together countless nights and days, with love, lust, and passion. This is the story of Grey Flute, disguised as the human cultivator Mo Xuanyu…” He burst to laugh. “This is so funny. Sorry, sorry, I’ll continue... Mo Xuanyu and the god with a cold attitude but fire on his veins, Lan Wangji.” His smile froze with the last sentence.

Hua Cheng clapped his hands, breaking the ominous silence that felt on the bamboo house.  “You were right, Wei Wuxian, this is a porn book. That had guessed your condition of Ghost King. So, tell me, Black Fish. How did you allow someone to publish this book?”

Finally, He Xuan looked back at Hua Cheng. “It’s not a big deal,” he hissed. “Liu Mingyan writes this kind of book all the time. I mean, there’s even one of Shi Qingxuan with… Hum...”

“Shi Wudu?” Wei Wuxian guessed, still a bit shaken by a couple of the book.

“NO!” He yelled. He always got mad when someone said Shi Wudu’s name, but this fury was different than usual. “Those two are brothers. They aren’t married and Liu Mingyan hasn’t had so bad taste in writing about them. No, there’s a saga of Shi Qingxuan with me!”

“Oh… Congrats?”

He Xuan took a deep breath to calm himself while Shen Qingqiu moved a teacup closer to him. “What I was saying,” he continued with a normal and icy tone, “is that no one would think too much about the book. Although they are quite popular, most of the gods won’t admit they read them. And, besides, it’s not the first time Liu Mingyan had written about a supposed calamity. There’s even one where Shi Wudu,” he pronounced the name like it was cursed, “is both the Water Master and Black Water and takes Pei Ming to his underwater prison after he discovers it.”

“You seem to know a lot of these books,” Hua Cheng pointed, smirking. 

“Shi Qingxuan had all the collections. There’s also a couple about Crimson Rain,” he added, mirroring Hua Cheng’s smirk. “In one of them, Feng Xin finds out that Mu Qing is the terrible Ghost King, but their love and carnal passion are too strong to be stopped.”

Shen Qingqiu almost congratulated He Xuan for managing to erase Hua Cheng’s insufferable smirk. He hid his satisfaction behind the fan.

Feeling the dangerous ambient around the oldest Ghost King, Wei Wuxian cleared his throat. “So, what you are saying is that we don’t have to worry that there’s a book in the Heavens about Mo Xuanyu being a Calamity because there’s plenty similar.”

“Yes.”

“That’s fine, but... There’s a big issue.” He bit his lip and turned a little to share a look with Lan Wangji before his attention returned to them. “This isn’t fair to Lan Zhan. He’s not… You know… And he’s probably still in love with Mianmian.” 

The three calamities and Lan Wangji stared at him in disbelief. Only Wei Wuxian would dare to say something like that sitting on his lap and his back resting on the god’s chest. If that wasn’t enough, Lan Wangji's hands continued on his waist.

“Yeah, how could Liu Mingyan write something like that about him?” Shen Qingqiu mocked.

“Unbelievable,” Hua Cheng agreed before turning to He Xuan. “I don’t care if nobody believes they are true, I want those books gone. And burn all the copies where Mu Qing is Crimson Rain or you know what will happen to your debt.”

Shen Qingqiu cleared his throat. “There are other matters that need to be prioritized before starting burning the Heavens. Like, for example, that Wei Wuxian’s password is known by a few gods… And the title of a damn book. You had to change it for something less… disturbing.”

“What are you talking about? Technically, that’s not my password.” The calamity smirk was a copy of Hua Cheng’s. He spent too much time with the worst reference someone could have. “My password is rule 69 of Cloud Recess. Nothing spicy as everything in Cloud Recess. What were you thinking, Shen Qingqiu?”

The impassive calamity blushed. He hid behind his fan too late and Wei Wuxian burst out laughing.

 


 

At the end of the meeting, Wei Wuxian grabbed Lan Zhan’s sleeve and tugged him toward Shen Qingqiu’s garden. While He Xuan had left to go to do something with Shi Qingxuan, Hua Cheng had stayed talking with Shen Qingqiu (for his annoyance. The green calamity looked anxious for being finally alone). And, since Wei Wuxian was staying with his friend, he decided to wait for him a little.

The garden, though beautiful and quiet, wasn’t the place he had in mind to have this conversation with Lan Zhan, but it was the best he had.

“Lan Zhan,” he muttered, staring right into the god’s eyes.

“Wei Ying,” he whispered, leaning his head a little.

“I wanted to tell you something since Yin Yu’s rescue mission. I suppose this is going to be a bit of a shock to you...” He felt more nervous than he should and the proximity of Lan Zhan’s body didn’t help him at all. “But I… I still had your ribbon.”

He hurried up to take the headband off his robes. When he dared to look up at Lan Zhan’s face, he was surprised. He expected to see him embarrassed or angry, not disappointed.

“I’m sorry,” he continued. “I don’t know exactly what it means to you, but I know it’s important. I still remember that time when I grabbed it by mistake back on Wen’s camp.” He was rambling, but the god was acting odd and he wasn’t sure of what was the right thing to say. “Anyway. I’m sorry I took it with me, although you also had part of the blame. Why would you tie my wrists?”

“Wei Ying.”

Lan Zhan extended his hand, so Wei Wuxian hurried up to give the ribbon back to him, relieved. However, he didn’t expect that the god would grab his arm. Curious, Grey Flute let him roll up his sleeves and tied the ribbon on his wrist. It wasn’t like the last time: simpler and without linking both wrists, so he could move them freely. Lan Zhan's fingers brushed his skin, causing him goosebumps all over the area.

“This is for you,” Lan Zhan said, quietly.

“Oh. Eh… Thanks?”

“I have another.”

The Ghost King raised his eyes, realizing it was true. He touched the ribbon on his wrist, feeling a bit embarrassed for a reason he couldn’t name. “Right. You are right.”

Lan Zhan nodded. He turned his gaze toward the door of the bamboo house, where A-Qing was playing with some snakes. “A-Qing is looking for someone dear to her,” he muttered. For a moment, he seemed melancholic. “We could also look for them.”

“Sounds fine.” Wei Wuxian leaned his head to Lan Zhan’s shoulders. Although he was stony, he was somehow comfortable. “We can resume our search after the Mid Autumn Festival Banquet. Lan Zhan,” he whispered near his ear. “I’ll tell you a secret: Dage and I are planning two surprises and this Festival will be unforgettable, but I won’t tell you anything more.” He winked. “Anyway, Shi Qingxuan told me he wanted to go to the Human Realm. Are you coming?”

Of course, Lan Zhan nodded.

 


 

They had just sat down at the tavern and He Xuan had already regretted being there. His regret morphed into pure desperation when Wei Wuxian and Shi Qingxuan started drinking, which made them more talkative. It shouldn’t be possible, really, it shouldn’t be possible that two people could talk so much, linking one conversation with another without pause.

In some strange way, He Xuan felt relieved of having Lan Wangji in front of him. The stoic god was silent as a tomb. He could be a good decoration on his Manor.

On the third round of Wei Wuxian and Shi Qingxuan and first of He Xuan and Lan Wangji, who hadn’t touched his jar, Lady Wind Master placed her chin on her hand, staring at Wei Wuxian with a mischievous smile. “So…. I haven’t had time to read Liu Mingyan's last book, but I heard it is very good.”

It was impossible, but He Xuan could almost swear that Lan Wangji’s ears turned red. Next to him, Wei Wuxian laughed without any shame. “Yeah, I read it last night. I had to admit It’s pretty good.”

He Xuan knew Wei Wuxian was strange and idiot, but not to the point of reading a porn book with him and his best friend as the main characters. When he thought his opinion of the calamity wouldn’t get worse, he surprised him. Every time.

“Oh, I’ll tell Liu Mingyan,” Shi Qingxuan promised, acting as if it was normal.

Any of this it's normal , He Xuan thought, bitterly. For centuries he had been separating his two identities as God and Ghost King. However, Wei Wuxian had managed to break it, fusing two worlds that would never be together. And he was the only one who knew this was a mistake.

“Thanks!” Wei Wuxian said, finishing his jar. “I’m looking forward to reading more. Someone told me there’s a saga with you and Black Water.”

YOU, IDIOT , He Xuan almost yelled. To suppress his desire of killing him, he gulped, hoping the next day all of them forgot that conversation. If he didn’t refuse to say Wei Wuxian’s passwords, he would shout at him that the saga was between Shi Qingxuan and MING YI, not with BLACK WATER.

Shi Qingxuan seemed a bit taken back, but she smiled anyway. “That’s odd, I haven’t heard about that saga. There aren’t many books of Black Water that didn’t have my brother in them,” she pursed her lips with disgust. For different reasons, both of them hated Liu Mingyan’s books of Shi Wudu. “That's why I’m so curious to read the one with Black Water and Lan Wangji.”

Lan Wangji’s face went from white, to red, and, then, white again. Wei Wuxian didn’t look better and was looking at He Xuan as if he had betrayed him.

“Another round,” said He Xuan to break the silence.

“Black Water and Lan Zhan,” Wei Wuxian babbled. “It’s a… unusual couple.”

Shi Qingxuan nodded. “Right? But I think they are lovely together,” she blinked at Wei Wuxian.

He Xuan, who couldn’t take Shi Qingxuan from her mistake and explain that Nie Huaisang lied, finished his second jar, uncomfortable.

To everyone's surprise, Lan Wangji took his untouchable jar and drank it all in one gulp.

“Lan Zhan!”

Not even a second later, the god’s head hit the table.

“It’s he… dead?” Shi Qingxuan asked, aghast.

He probably wants to , He Xuan thought.

“Nah.” Wei Wuxian shook his hand, unbothered. “He’s just bad with alcohol. He’ll be kind of awake in a minute.”

“What do you mean by kind of awake ?”

That night, He Xuan found out that there was something worse than dealing with Shi Qingxuan drunk: dealing with Shi Qingxuan AND Wei Wuxian drunk. However, that was only the beginning of the nightmare. Soon, he realized in utter horror that there was something EVEN worse: dealing with both Shi Qingxuan and Wei Wuxian AND Lang Wangji drunk.

Chapter Text

Shen Qingqiu hadn’t become soft. No, not at all. He had gone to the capital to take a look at the new fan shop with Pei Su and Ban Yue because they could be useful, not to give Ban Yue a chance to walk through the city. He didn’t think it was sweet the way Pei Su started at the ghost’s smile or how cheerful she seemed to be.

No. He hadn’t become soft.

(Note of the authors: yes, he has).

Green Leaves turned around, avoiding his two servants, and entered the fan shop. It had been He Xuan who had mentioned (of course, Shi Qingxuan, that cute version of himself that even Liu Qingge mistook with him, knew about it), and, although he despited going outside his peak, he needed to extend his fan’s collection. It was a need, not a whim.

 A volatile smile crossed his face when he stared at the different fans that were exposed. He had to admit that they were exquisite and there was a variety he didn’t expect. He was lost in his thoughts admiring a beautiful fan he was sure to buy when someone kicked open the shop door.

There was only one god who could kick a door as if it was normal, controlling their strength to not destroy it. Liu Qingge .

Shen Qingqiu, Green Leaves Dismember Limbs, terrible Ghost King, famous murderer, the nightmare of the children… ran to hide behind a pillar, far from the front door.

He can’t be here , he thought, grinning his teeth. Why is he here??? Maybe… Maybe he has mistook this place with… something.

However, his hopes died shortly. Liu Qingge didn’t seem lost nor confused. His gaze flew from one corner to another, looking expectant to the few customers. Definitely, he was looking for something. Or someone.

Shen Qingqiu fanned. He had three options. One, face Liu Qingge for once. No, that’s not gonna happen. Second, hide until the god got bored. But it’s risky. Third… call He Xuan.

Black Water. I need a little favor. He would cut his own throat before openly asking for help.

I’m busy.

I hope it’s because of Shi Qingxuan. 

I’m not going to let him be involved with another calamity...

A free meal, he interrupted him. I’ll invite you. To your favourite place.

...

Tell me more.

 


 

He Xuan hadn’t lied when he said he was busy and, as always, it involved Shi Qingxuan. However, this time he couldn’t be mad with the god because it was partially his fault. Only 1%. 20% was Wei Wuxian’s fault and the 79% remaining was Hua Cheng’s.

“I can’t believe it’s gone!!” Shi Qingxuan complained for the nth time in the last ten minutes. “I can’t lose it without reading it first!!”

For once, He Xuan had to admit that the Wind Master was right. After all, he hadn’t lost Liu Mingyan’s last and scandalous book. No, it was He Xuan who burned it without hesitation although he hated following Hua Cheng’s orders. So, of course, Shi Qingxuan was never going to find it. Not in his chambers, nor in He Xuan’s.

“Shi Qingxuan,” he called him, anxious about the perspective of a free meal. He had the intention of letting the god rummage wherever he wanted, but now he had a mission. “Face the truth. It’s gone.” He scowled himself. He needed to be a bit nicer today. “Look… Why don’t we go to the Human Realm?”

The god dropped a jar that was too little to hide the book.

“But...” He pouted. “I need to find it. Maybe… Maybe I let it on Ge’s...”

“No, impossible.” He Xuan stepped closer and placed his hands on Shi Qingxuan’s shoulders to look at his eyes. “Why would you ever bring it to his palace? C’mon, let’s go to the Human Realm. If you want, we can go to the fan shop.”

His eyes lit up immediately. “Seriously? You are so nice, Ming-xiong!!”

“I’m not nice.”

“Yes, you are. That’s why you are my best friend!!”

“I’m not nice,” he repeated, stepping away. “And I’m not your best friend.”

He couldn't be.

He Xuan was a master hiding his emotions, so the god didn’t realize the sadness of his words.

“Hum… I think I’m going to change into my female form,” he muttered to himself.

“No!” He said, too abruptly. “I mean… I...” A free meal , he remembered. A free meal! “Today I want to go with your male form...” he whispered, embarrassed.

The things he did for food (this wasn’t for Shen Qingqiu, they weren’t friends. He only cared about the food).

Shi Qingxuan blinked, a bit confused. “Okay… Then… You should go in your female form! Please, Ming-xiong!!”

A FREE MEAL.

“...Okay,” he growled, gritting his teeth.

 


 

Shen Qingqiu was starting to feel nervous. Liu Qingge had sat down on the floor to the aghast of the merchant, who didn’t understand why a beautiful man (it was a universal fact, not his personal opinion) like Liu Qingge seemed to be guarding the interior of the shop.

Black Water. I need the distraction. Now.

The distraction in question is troublesome. Two meals.

Deal.

 


 

Luckily, convincing Shi Qingxuan to use green robes was easy, the problem was that he didn’t want to go alone.

“You know, we should invite Mo Xuanyu and Lan Wangji.”

No. Absolutely no.

“I thought you just wanted to go with them once.”

“But Mo Xuanyu it’s so nice! He’s my fourth best friend!”

He Xuan froze. “Your… fourth best friend.”

 “Yeah!”

“Nie Huaisang told you he’s a Ghost King. You shouldn't trust him.”

“Why not? I mean, he’s a good person. Well, a good ghost. Didn’t you hear he and Lan Wangji are solving a murder when nobody had asked them? He’s way better than some gods like Pei Ming.”

“No… That’s wrong. He’s a Ghost King,” she repeated. “You can’t trust someone like him. He’ll end betraying you.” His words tasted like ashes.

“Ming-xiong,” he said, suddenly serious. “You can’t think the worst of a person you barely know. If you don’t give them a chance to prove they are good… How could they show you?”

“You are too naive.”

“I’m not! And, even if I was, I wouldn’t regret it. I mean, if I had listened to the gods saying I shouldn’t go with you, we’d never become best friends! And I assure you I’ll never regret being your best friend.”

Shi Qingxuan could stab him on the heart and wouldn’t hurt so much.

Black Wateeeer!!

There’s a complication. Although the other calamity was annoying, he was grateful for his interruption. Three free meals.

Right now, I hate you.

More or less than Hua Cheng?

… Three free meals.

He Xuan needed all the motivation he could get from the perspective of his three future meals to mutter the next words. “I want to go to the Human Real only with you.”

His heart had stopped centuries ago, but, when a smile broke on Shi Qingxuan’s face, he had the sensation it was beating so hard that the god would listen.

“Oh~ Ming-xiong! Don’t be shy.” He leaned down and placed a kiss on her cheek. “You should have told me this since the beginning!”

He Xuan, Black Water Sinking Ships, second Ghost King, the terror of the sea, nightmare of the fishermen… flushed. 

“Let’s go,” she growled.

 


 

Despite his sister's comments, Liu Qingge wasn’t in the shop looking for Shen Qingqiu with romantic intentions. He wanted answers, to know why Shen Qingqiu had tried to save his life all those years ago. But, romance? No, he wasn’t like that.

Although the uncomfortable tone of their last conversation, Liu Mingyan had told him a very interesting piece of information: just like moths attracted to light, there was a shop that had the same effect with people that loved fans.

Now, he only had to wait. Even if he had never been good at waiting.

After a couple of hours, he had started meditating. The only complication was the merchant, who, for some unknown reasons, approached him periodically. He just stood there, sometimes muttering a low “Daozang” before looking away.

At some point, Liu Qingge almost got up after seeing a green-clothed man. However, he was determined to not make the same mistake, so he looked closely before acting. And, although that man was quite similar, he had seen him too many times with his sister to not recognize Nie Huaisang.

Disappointed, but not surprised, Liu Qingge continued meditating, wondering for how long he should stay there.

Then, a miracle opened the door.

Liu Qingge stood up, his gaze fixed on the couple that had entered the shop. There was a man with beautiful and stylish green clothes, hiding behind an expensive fan. But, before the god could see clearly his face, the woman who accompanied him grabbed his arm and ran in the opposite direction.

It has to be Shen Qingqiu! he thought, following them, indifferent about the shouts of the humans that were on his way. That woman had recognized me, she must be one of his servants .

Ten minutes later, he determined without any trace of doubt that those two weren’t human. A normal person couldn’t last so long in that kind of persecution that made them go through the entire city and enter a forest.

He needed almost half an hour to catch the man’s wrist, who immediately spun around. Liu Qingge recognized Shi Qingxuan’s surprised face before a breeze of wind sent him flying away.

“Fuck!” The Wind Master shouted. “That was Liu Qingge!”

The fall didn’t hurt as much as the deception of having made a mistake again. Liu Qingge got on his feet, accepting the hand that Shi Qingxuan was offering him to not seem too mad.

“Sorry,” Shi Qingxuan muttered. “I thought you were chasing us...”

“It’s okay, I’m… sorry too. I’ve mistaken you with somebody else.”

“Well, I’m not sorry,” the woman growled. “You looked ready to eat someone alive. Your reaction was very suspicious.”

“Ming-xiong! Don’t be like that. Hahaha... We all made a mistake. Sorry again. I shouldn’t have attacked you.” 

Liu Qingge rubbed his neck. He was better with swords than withs words and has never been good at apologizing. However, he felt truly sorry and Shi Qingxuan had already apologized twice. If Liu Mingyan was there, she would urge him to make amends. “Well, sorry for… ruining your date,” he guessed. He was pretty sure her sister would say something like that if she was in his place.

He didn’t expect the blush that appeared on Shi Qingxuan’s cheeks. “Oh! We’re not… I mean, we aren’t exactly… HAHAHAHAHA...” He fanned so fast that, if it weren’t for the woman, who grabbed his hand and stopped him, he would have caused a storm.

“I should go,” Liu Qingge said, uncomfortable.

He didn’t know what to do now. Return to the shop? Keep waiting? Sadly, this wasn’t a problem he could solve with a fight.

Although his plan was to go alone, Shi Qingxuan grabbed his arm and started talking. Liu Qingge had never met a person who talked so much without saying anything. However, the Wind Master didn’t seem malicious nor having second intentions.

Liu Qingge, not used to dealing with that kind of god, wasn’t able to free himself and ended up sitting in front of the couple with a teacup in his hands.

“So…You have mistaken me with Shen Qingqiu?” Shi Qingxuan suddenly asked with a big smile.

Liu Qingge choked his tea. “What? How did you know??”

“I read it in one of Li...” He coughed and made an awkward pause. He started fanning in a way that was quite similar to the Shen Qingqiu of his memories. “Ling Wen’s reports. Yeah, I read it in one of Ling Wen’s reports.”

“That makes sense,” he admitted. 

 


 

Three free meals were a good price for being able to shop in peace. Without Liu Qingge, Shen Qingqiu smiled freely and bought three fans, just like the meals he now owned to He Xuan. But it was worth it

However, when he stepped outside to call Pei Su and Ban Yue, finally feeling fine, a man put an arm around his shoulders. Shen Qingqiu had his face partially hidden behind one of the new fans, but his eyes shined with fury. “Who...” he started, but he got interrupted.

“Whoa, Shi Qingxuan, you look murderous today,” the man mocked. “You should listen to your brother and spend less time with Ming Yi. And talking about your brother, you see, yesterday we...”

Although his smirk wasn’t as insufferable as Hua Cheng’s, it was pretty close. And, even Shen Qingqiu who lived isolated in a peak, could recognize that attitude. Damn, there are too many witnesses to kill Pei Ming , he thought, bitterly.

Instead of listening to him (or pretend he did it), he decided to talk with He Xuan. Do you want a fourth free meal?

 

EXTRA

Several hours later, back at the Wind Palace, He Xuan found himself smiling. This has been a good day, he thought.

On the other hand, Shi Qingxuan, that had returned to the infructuous research of his book, didn’t look as cheery as normal. “I’m sorry, Ming-Xiong,” he muttered. “You said you wanted us to go alone, but I felt so bad with Liu Qingge and I had to invite him. And he’s actually pretty nice, and...”

He Xuan did one of the techniques he had learned from Shen Qingqiu and hid his face and the smile behind a book. Lucky, not one of Liu Mingyan. “It’s okay,” he admitted. “Don’t worry.”

He had now four free meals, had learned some embarrassing stories about Shen Qingqiu thanks to Liu Qingge, and had a chance to bother Pei Ming. All of that without hearing anything from Hua Cheng. In conclusion, an almost perfect day.

Shi Qingxuan sat down next to him, placing his cheek on the calamity’s shoulder. “I’ll make up to you. We can go tomorrow. Just the two of us.”

Black Water nodded. Yeah, an almost perfect day. 

Chapter Text

“I’m so glad you came!” Wei Wuxian exclaimed with a wide and incredulous smile.

Shen Qingqiu shrugged, still not quite sure why he was in Ghost City. “The snakes were especially insufferable tonight,” he lied. 

In general, he liked to spend the Mid-Autumn Festival alone on his peak as if it was a normal night and not a celebration. Ban Yue and Pei Su, however, thought differently and Zhuzhi-lang was easy to convince. Shen Qingqiu would never admit he had run away from his house because he couldn’t deal with their happiness.

Unaware of his feelings, Wei Wuxian clapped his hands happily. Next to him, Hua Cheng seemed especially smugged and satisfied, something strange considering he wasn’t with Xie Lian.

“Though it’s sad He Xuan couldn’t come with us,” Wei Wuxian added.

Hua Cheng waved his hand. “Don’t worry for him.” Black Water , he continued on their communication array. You are fine up there, right?

I’m in Heaven.

 


 

He Xuan was literally and metaphorically in Heaven. He hated the gods, their stupids games, and traditions, but he LOVED the banquet. Tonight, he could eat everything he wanted and more without worrying about his debt. The banquet was on Jun Wu’s and He Xuan was going to take profit.

Although his plan involved eating and, maybe, drinking between the exquisite plates, Shi Qingxuan had other intentions.

“Ming-xiong! C’here, the Drummed Flower Passing is about to start,” she proclaimed happily.

He didn’t like nor hate the Drummed Flower Passing. It was a stupid game, but it consisted of shaming the gods with plays performed by humans. Mostly, they were awful and rarely showed an epic moment. For that reason, He Xuan enjoyed the game. It was always nice that some gods suffered the embarrassment for those plays.

Xie Lian didn’t share the same joy as Shi Qingxuan but was smiling nevertheless. He Xuan sighed. Somehow, he always ended near the god, in this case, his highness was sitting next to him. At some point, Black Water had stopped wondering why everything was related to Xie Lian. And, tonight, he wasn’t going to think about him. He was only interested in the banquet.

The thunder started rumbling, alerting about the start of the game, but He Xuan paid no mind.

 


 

Liu Mingyan was aware that going to the Heavenly Court when they weren’t invited was a mistake, but she was too excited to actually be worried. Besides, her group had Ning Yingying and Lan Shizui to be worried about, Jin Ling and Lan Jingyi to convince the others, and herself, who had the job of finding a good place to hide. Her task was easy, years of collecting information about others to her novels had taught her the best spots to see without being seen.

“This is a bad idea,” Lan Sizhui whispered for the nth time. “If we get caught...”

“Cloud Recess rules don't say anything about this,” pointed Lan Jingyi, convinced by his own words although it wasn't a good argument. “We cannot go back now.”

“No, we can't,” Liu Mingyan agreed. “Besides, the thunder is about to stop. Don’t you want to see what would happen if Lan Wangji or Lan Xichen had to drink?”

That was enough to shut up Lan Shizui. The five of them stared at the gods, expectant. The thunder stopped rumbling when Pei Ming was holding the glass of wine. The martial god emptied the cup.

“I bet one hundred merits it’s going to be a romantic play,” Ning Yingying muttered.

“That’s not fair,” Jin Ling protested, pouting. “It’s Pei Ming. Obviously, it’s going to be romantic.”

The two Lans nodded. To bet was against Cloud Recess rules, but they never lost a chance to encourage one friend or another.

As everyone expected, the play displayed in the pavilion was, indeed, a romantic one with him and Ling Wen.

“Liu Mingyan, it’s one of yours?” Lan Shizui asked.

The girl shook her head. “No.” Although she had written over the years more than a thousand books or short tales, she remembered every one of them. “Besides, it’s too boring.” That was a euphemism for not saying it wasn’t spicy enough, but no one pointed it out.

“It’s time for the next round!” Lan Jingyi said, smiling. “I hope this time the cup stops in someone more interesting.”

To their disappointment, it was Shi Wudu who emptied the cup. He was very popular among humans, so his plays usually showed him as a healthy and incredible god. And that wasn’t the reason they had sneak inside the Upper Court.

Jin Ling smirked, proud as always that there were bets involved. “I bet six hundred merits the play is about him and the Wind Master.”

Liu Mingyan shuddered. “Please, no.”

She had written stories about toxic relationships, betrayals, dubious consent, kidnappings, gore, blackmails, orgies, sex pollen, tentacles... but she drew the line with incest.

Her wish became true when the red curtain was lifted, showing a man that was clearly an attempt of the Water Master with another one who looked fairly similar to Pei Ming.

“Crap,” Liu Mingyan whispered when the actors started the play.

She recognized Pei Ming ’s lines about that marrying a female general was his duty, although he’d never loved her. He didn’t have a choice. The reaction of the public was mixed between the gods that were touched by Pei Ming ’s attitude and the ones that were hiding their laughs. The real Pei Ming didn’t seem very upset, though his gaze was fixed on Shi Wudu rather than in the pavilion.

Liu Mingyan covered her face when Shi Wudu cut his speech. “You can’t do it, Pei Ming,” he said, firmly, placing his hands on his friend’s shoulders.

“Water Master-xiong...”

“I love you!” The Water Master proclaimed. “And I won’t let you marry that woman.”

Liu Mingyan didn’t have enough hands to cover both his face and ears, so she heard the gasps of the public when the actors kissed.

“Drop it!” Pei Ming shouted to Shi Wudu, who was probably in shock and didn’t react as fast as he should.

Finally, the Water Master regained enough sense to yell: “DROP IT!”

With Shi Wudu’s order, the curtains dropped noisily. The silence fell on the banquet, but not around Liu Mingyan.

“That was one of yours, right?” Ning Yingying guessed.

Liu Mingyan lowered her hands to look at her friends. Lan Shizui was aghast, Lan Jingyi almost laughing, Jin Ling confused and Ning Yingying stared at her with regret.

“Yeah.” There wasn’t a point to deny something so obvious. “Though I’m kind of sad Shi Wudu interrupted the play, it would be curious seeing how they adapted my book.”

The thunder was rumbling again and, far from them, the gods were whispering, but at that moment her friends had only eyes for her.

“And…” Lan Jingyi took a deep breath to make the question all of them were wondering. “How does it continue?”

“Well, they shared a deep and long kiss cause neither of them needs to breathe. I think it lasted a few minutes. Then, Shi Wudu ripped Pei Ming’s outer robe and...”

“We can imagine the rest,” Lan Shizui interrupted. His cheeks had turned red.

Lan Jingyi seemed a bit disappointed, so Liu Mingyan decided to lend him a copy later. She had the feeling that tomorrow she was going to sell some copies of Passion before the wedding with the wrong bride.  

A bit calmer, Liu Mingyan glared at Shi Wudu, hoping that the god wasn’t too mad and wouldn’t take retaliations. He was pale, but his composure was admirable. Next to him, Pei Ming was very interested in looking at his food. On the other side, Ling Wen wasn’t making any effort in hiding her laughs. Liu Mingyan had never seen her so relaxed and having fun.

Maybe I should write something about the three of them , she considered, thoughtful. They had a very strange relationship. And it’s been a while since the last time I wrote a threesome .

When the thunder stopped rumbling and Quan Yizhen emptied the glass of wine, Liu Mingyan sighed. She had barely written anything about him, so it shouldn’t be any problem.

Right?

The play started with Quan Yizhen and Yin Yu , the fallen god that recently Quan Yizhen took to his palace. Liu Mingyan bit her lip, uncomfortable. Some years ago, she researched about them and the results were odd as if the story she heard wasn’t quite true. At least, she has the feeling that Yin Yu wasn’t as bad as the rumors painted him.

Back to the play, Yin Yu was angry and condescended with Quan Yizhen for something that he had done. Then, when Yin Yu was about to leave the scene, Quan Yizhen dropped to his knees.

“Shixiong, don’t leave me,” Quan Yizhen pleaded with tears in his eyes. “I’m and I’ll ever be your most trustworthy... dog.”

Hundreds of years of writing had taught her to be ashamed of some of her oldest stories, the ones full of mistakes and… well, bad things in general. Right now, if she could go back in time and slap her past her, she would do it without a doubt.

“No...” she whispered to herself. “Not this one...”

Luckily, Xie Lian came to the rescue. He took a chopstick from the table and hurled it towards the robe controlling the curtains, making them fall noisily, cutting the play before it took an ugly twist.

Honestly, Liu Mingyan didn’t blame Quan Yizhen when he stood up and went down to the Human Realm to beat the actors or whoever came too near to him.

“I don’t accept questions about this one,” Liu Mingyan said to her friends. “Let’s pretend it never happened.”

And the thunder started rumbling again.

 


 

Liu Qingge wasn’t deaf. Although nobody told him directly, he could hear the voices saying Liu Mingyan’s name and some books he wasn’t aware of were so famous. Obviously, he knew about her sister's weird hobby, but not that it had arrived into the Human Realm. I’ll talk with her , he decided.

He was distracted by Liu Mingyan and Quan Yizhen, so he took the cup of wine without thinking. He froze when the thunder stopped rumbling, turning him the next victim of the game.

He never liked Drummed Flower Passing cause he considered it quite ridiculous. However, this year wasn’t as usual. The looks of every god fell on him, greedy of his misfortune. Liu Qingge huffed. He had fought powerful ghosts for days without needing a pause. He wasn’t afraid of a little play. Besides, her sister would never write anything of this kind about him.

For that reason, Liu Qingge emptied the cup with a stoic expression, indifferent to the attention.

His calm was shattered when a human dressed in green robes and fanning appeared on the pavilion. “Shen Qingqiu,” he whispered, suddenly worried, but not because of his sister. He knew several plays about the two of them and, in almost all of them, Shen Qingqiu was portrayed as someone despicable, a scum villain. And yes, that wasn’t very far from the truth, but, for one reason, he always felt uncomfortable. After all, Shen Qingqiu tried to save his life.

Liu Qingge remained still, clenching his fists under the table. He had enough merits to stop the play, but he wasn’t a coward, so he waited to see what was going to happen.

Although his worry didn’t fade away, he started to feel a bit relaxed. The play was about them in the past and was quite trustworthy. The first scenes were about their rivalry and eternal quarrelings. Liu Qingge found himself remembering those days with nostalgia though back then he couldn’t care less.

As he expected, the play arrived at the moment of his qi deviation. Liu Qingge gritted his teeth, still ashamed of what happened in the cave and how he lost control, and ready to see another awful version of Shen Qingqiu trying to kill him. However, that wasn’t the case.

Liu Qingge started in disbelief and a bit of hope how the Shen Qingqiu of the play fought to help him. And then, the biggest change occurred: instead of ascending, Liu Qingge managed to not regain his sense thanks to Shen Qingqiu.

The martial god wasn’t one to think about the past and what could have happened, but for once he wondered about the possibility of him ascending later and having the chance to spend more years with Shen Qingqiu on their sect now that he knew he wasn’t so bad.

Liu Qingge didn’t realize he had a tiny smile until it froze. He gasped, unable to believe that, suddenly, Shen Qingqiu and Liu Qingge were talking about their feelings, that their rivalry was just an excuse… They kissed on the Pavilion.

“I always cry with this book,” said someone behind him, maybe Nie Huaisang.

“I think it’s one of Liu Mingyan’s best stories. So bad that it’s unbelievable,” replied another god.

Liu Qingge was in shock but, when the actors started to untied their belts, he stood up, livid. “Drop it,” he commanded with a cold voice.

 


 

In Ghost City, Shen Qingqiu was also livid. Hua Cheng’s butterflies were showing them all the play and, although it had been funny the ones about Pei Ming or Shi Wudu, this was the worst.

Black Water! You should have stopped this!!

I’m busy.

Doing what? Eating?

He didn’t need an answer to know that He Xuan was enjoying the banquet.

Furious, Shen Qingqiu turned around, ignoring Wei Wuxian and Hua Cheng’s comments. He needed to be alone. Or with someone he could kill. Maybe Liu Qingge’s worshippers? Without thinking, he drew a distance–shortening array to some random city to get lost in.

 


 

He Xuan was, indeed, busy. He didn’t care about the plays, nor that Liu Qingge had followed Quan Yizhen’s steps and left Heaven.

He was so lost in his thoughts and food, that he almost didn’t realize that Shi Qingxuan gave him the wine cup. His reflexes made him pass the cup to the person on his left to keep eating. He only raised his head when the thunder stopped rumbling, just to find himself face to face with Xie Lian.

Black Water. Hua Cheng’s voice resounded in his head. What are you doing?

Fuck. This was going to cost him a lot.

He Xuan was foolish enough to have hope when Fen Xing commented that Xie Lian couldn’t drink alcohol because of his cultivation. However, Xie Lian was stupid and accepted to drink the wine. He was also stupidly noble and refused Shi Qingxuan's offer of paying to stop the play. What’s your problem? He asked in silence. Accept the help!!

Too worried about the increase of his debt, He Xuan stopped eating. He wished that, at least, the play would show Xie Lian as a side character in one of Feng Xin or Mu Qing stories.

As always, the heavens ignored his wishes.

The good side was that the main characters of the play were Feng Xin and Mu Qing , back before their ascension. The bad side was that he recognized Liu Mingyan’s hand behind the plot.

What’s wrong with humans? Why do they enjoy so much porn about the gods? And what’s wrong with Liu Mingyan? ?!

He Xuan cleared his throat and turned his head to the Wind Master. Shi Qingxuan was seeing the play with a wide smile, she hadn’t figured yet that Feng Xin and Mu Qing ’s competition for Xie Lian ’s affection will end in his bed.

In the pavilion, Mu Qing and Feng Xin were comparing their swords. Soon, they would start fighting with them. Later, with other swords . That meant that He Xuan was running out of time. He couldn’t trust Feng Xin nor Mu Qing, both too proud to surrender before the other. For that reason, he had to count on the one god proclaiming to be Xie Lian’s friend. If that failed him, he would use one of his clones.

“Shi Qingxuan,” he muttered, anxious. Hua Cheng’s silence was worse than a hundred threats. “You have to stop the play.”

“Why?” She asked, confused. “This one it’s not portraying his highness like a bad person...”

Fighting with fervor between your legs ,” he said, shortly.

Hearing that title, Shi Qingxuan paled. “Oh, no.” She grabbed Xie Lian’s sleeve, tugging to catch his attention. “Your highness, can you reconsider my offer? This play...” She laughed. “It’s a bit...”

Xie Lian stared at her, confused. “It’s okay, lady Wind Master.”

“No, it’s not,” He Xuan interrupted him. “This play is like the last three.”

Finally, Xie Lian’s eyes widened. “Oh.”

Although that wasn’t a yes, Shi Qingxuan considered enough. “Drop it!!” She shouted.

Your debt had increased 10%, Hua Cheng growled.

Chapter Text

Porn was against Cloud Recess rules so Lan Wangji felt morally obligated to silently condemn the plays. However, a small part of his mind couldn’t stop wondering how Wei Ying would have reacted if he was at the banquet. Probably he’d laugh, maybe even choked on his wine for the surprise. The god could almost hear him giggling his name.

Lan Wangji clenched his hand under the table. He missed him with an intensity that hurt although they had been together some hours ago.

So lost in his thoughts, he wasn’t paying attention to his surroundings and, especially, not to the Battle of the Lanterns. That was a competition to see which heavenly official had the most number of Blessing Lanterns offered from their largest, most renowned temple. The order was formed from the lowest count to the highest, which made it an extremely long and boring process.

Although he wasn’t really interested, his brother was always in the top fifteen. So, when the official announcer shouted that it was going to start the fight for the top fifteen, Lan Wangji listened for the first time in the competition (he hadn't even listened to his own position).

He clapped his hands when Qi Qingqi, a martial goddess, received four hundred and six lanterns. He heard someone loudly cheering from a place that should be empty, but Lan Wangji pretended he didn’t realize.

Nex was the palace of Qi Ying with four hundred and twenty-one. Since Quan Yizhen wasn’t there, the reaction of the public was quite gloomy.

When Lan Xichen’s name was shouted by the official announcer with four hundred and twenty-six lanterns, again, he heard cheers from the not-so-empty spot.

Lan Wangji turned to his brother, who was sitting next to Jin Guangyao and nodded. “Mn,” he congratulated him.

“Thanks,” he answered, smiling, before turning to his friend and accepting his congratulations.

Although Lan Wangji had lost his interest, he didn’t disconnect like before, aware that there were only twelve gods left.

Next, with almost the same number of lanterns as Lan Xichen, was Yue Quingyuan, who received a good ovation although literature gods weren’t as popular as martial.

The reaction of the public was way less enthusiastic when the palace of the Earth Master received four hundred and forty-four lanterns. In fact, the only god who celebrated it very loudly was Shi Qingxuan.

The fight for the top ten started with the palace of the Wind Master with five hundred and twenty-three lanterns. The contrast with the last was so big that Lan Wangji had the impulse of covering his ears, displeased with the noise.

Knowing Ling Wen's exhaustive work, he wasn’t surprised that his superior had gained the nth position with five hundred and thirty-six, though he considered that she deserved better. He clapped his hands respectfully.

The palace of the Thunder Master was next with five hundred and forty-four lanterns. Lan Wangji heard the noisiest ovation from the obviously not empty place, but it was lost between the public. Lan Wangji didn’t understand that Jiang Cheng, who awoke fear among most gods and several of them had suffered some attack from Zidian, had such popularity. What he did know was that Wei Wuxian would be proud of him, so he decided to tell him later.

To everyone's surprise, this year the palaces of Nan Yang and Xuan Zhen were tied with five hundred and seventy-two lanterns. Lan Wangji saw Mu Qing and Feng Xin sharing a look of deep hatred and discontent.

Pei Ming also seemed displeased when he only received five hundred and eighty lanterns, probably as a consequence of his last scandal around Pei Su. Lan Wangji, instead of paying attention to the whispers of the rest of the gods, stared at the sky. He had to admit that this number of lanterns in the sky was quite an incredible image, just like the next.

For what Lan Wangji hoped was the last time, he heard a not enough quiet murmur saying that’s my brother! when the palace of the War God had five hundred and eighty-six lanterns. The absence of the god didn’t reduce the celebration, though nobody could congratulate him.

Lan Wangji was staring at the sky when the official announcer yelled: “THE PALACE OF THE WATER MASTER, SEVEN HUNDRED AND EIGHTEEN LANTERNS!”

Considering that the Great Martial Palace had nine hundred sixty-one, this amount was extraordinary. However, Shi Wudu frowned and snapped his fan shut. “Wait,” he groaned. “This can’t be right.”

Some voices echoed his comment, realizing the issue. Shi Wudu always had the second place, only after Jun Wu’s Palace. It didn’t make sense that this year he was fourth.

Lan Wangji raised his head, a bit curious about and confused about what was happening. Then, a thousand lanterns lit up the sky. There were more than Lan Wangji had ever seen in his life on Heavens. It was beautiful and unexpected, an image he wouldn't forget.

The official announcer gulped under the rain of complaints he was receiving for not saying the god’s name of that amount of lanterns. “Palace of Lan Zhan,” he proclaimed with confusion drawn over his face. “One thousand lanterns.”

This wasn’t the explanation that the people were expecting.

“Lan Zhan?” someone muttered. 

“There’s a god with that name?”

“Wouldn't it be Lan Xichen?”

Far from those doubts, a thousand lanterns took Lan Wangji’s breath away. His ears were red, but only his brother realized.

He wasn’t aware of the existence of any temple that answered to Lan Zhan, and there was only one ghost who could do something like that. Wei Ying…

Before Lan Wangji recovered from the shock, the sky lit up again, this time even with more lights. 

“Qiandeng Temple, the Palace of the Crown Prince… three thousand lanterns.”

 


 

He Xuan stopped eating for a moment to contemplate Hua Cheng’s last extravagance. The calamity shook his head. No matter what, three thousand lanterns were excessive. However, Xie Lian didn’t seem bothered, only overwhelmed, so it was probably a victory to Crimson Rain.

And, hopefully, he would be in a good mood.

Black Water sighed, uncomfortable. He couldn’t deceive himself: Hua Cheng was going to be happy with his idea, but furious with him. He knew that the Ghost King wasn’t going to forgive easily his mistake with the Drummed Flower Passing. Maybe I should put some distance between us , he thought. In a couple of years, this will be anecdotic. Or, at least, he hoped.

As if he had summoned him, suddenly Hua Cheng spoke on his communication array. Black Fish, come down. We need to talk.

I can’t , he replied instantly. Knowing that his butterflies were a plague and would be seeing every move he made, He Xuan leaned onto Shi Qingxuan’s side. The Wind Master grabbed his arm quickly as if it was a reflex more than a logical decision. Shi Qingxuan doesn’t let me go.

Hua Cheng didn’t answer, but in his silence, He Xuan almost heard a laugh. 

“Ming-Xiong”, Shi Qingxuan whispered, resting her head on his shoulder. “What an odd Mid-Autumn Festival.”

He agreed with a short nod.

“I didn’t expect it, but I’m happy for his Highness and Lan Wangji, though, my brother...”

He Xuan disconnected when Shi Qingxuan started talking about Shi Wudu. It was a bad night, he didn’t need to hear why the Water Tyrant was such a good brother to make it worse. Although he wasn’t interested in that monologue, he didn’t move an inch. 

As the hours passed, most gods left until they were basically alone. In front of them, the table was full of empty glasses of wine. Behind them, a silver butterfly observed them. 

Damn Hua Cheng , He Xuan thought. He knew that the other calamity was waiting for him to stop using Shi Qingxuan as an excuse. He also knew that Hua Cheng knew that he knew it. It was nearly impossible to win him, the master of gambling with the most incredible luck in the three words. However, He Xuan was going to try. Maybe, even if he loses, Hua Cheng would count this as his revenge.

For that reason, when Shi Qingxuan passed the point of being a bit drunk, He Xuan sighed and forced himself to be patient. “C’mon Shi Qingxuan, it’s time to go,” he muttered without sounding too harsh.

The Wind Master didn’t acknowledge his effort and pouted. “One more!!”

“No. Let’s go.”

Without waiting for a response, He Xuan huffed and, in one smooth movement, threw Shi Qingxuan’s arms around his shoulders and grabbed her knees, lifting her up. The goddess giggled, surprised but not upset.

“Ming-Xiong!! You're the best.”

“I’m not,” he grumbled. “It’s late, we’ll go to my palace.”

The stupid, naive, and trustful goddess nodded happily without understanding he was doing this for their friendship but for running away from Hua Cheng. Soon, this will be over , he suddenly realized. Shi Wudu’s Heavenly Calamity was near. And He Xuan had run out of options to keep postponing his revenge.

Although he didn’t care, he wondered how many days were left until Shi Qingxuan stopped trusting her best friend . That question left him an unpleasant taste in his tongue.

Unconsciously, he tightened his grip.

 

Chapter Text

The meeting was boring and boredom was against Wei Wuxian’s rules.

“Ok!” He said, clapping his hands. “Let's play something! How about Fuck, marry or kill between calamities?”

Hua Cheng was the only one who laughed. As always.

“I’ll start!” He exclaimed while rolling dice in his fingers. “Marry dianxia, fuck dianxia if he wants… And kill Bai Wuxiang.”

“No, no! That’s not what I mean...”

“Kill Shi Wudu.” He Xuan hissed. “Kill Shi Wudu. KILL SHI WUDU.”

“NO! I mean, you must choose fuck, marry or kill between us.”

Despite the collection of grimaces they made, Shen Qingqiu raised his fan, hiding a mischievous smile.

“Kill Hua Cheng. Kill Wei Wuxian. Kill all the idiots who mistake me with Shi Qingxuan.”

“Almost, Qingqiu! But you must choose fuck, marry...”

“You are dead.”

“What?”

“Dead people don't talk.”

 


 

Dressed as Mo Xuanyu, Wei Wuxian went to the Heavens to play with the calamities’ romantic interests.

“Liu Qingge!” He said, cheerfully. “Let’s play fuck, marry or kill ...”

“That’s stupid.” He snorted. “Why fuck, marry or kill?”

“...it’s just a game.”

“I prefer to fight.” He hummed. “Hum… Fight Hua Cheng, I heard he is quite powerful. And Jiang Cheng is always funny to confront him.” He made a pensive pause. “And fight Jun Wu. He is the most important martial god after all.”

Sorry, Shen Qingqiu, your god is useless.

What are you talking about?

 

Shi Qingxuan agreed easily and with a wide smile. “Oh, I guess Marry Ming-Xiong. And...” He started fanning nervously. “Fuck Ming-Xiong,” he muttered under his breath. “HahahahaHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHNEVERMIND.”

Black Water! Do you want to hear what Shi Qingxuan thinks about you?

I’m busy eating.

 

In contrast with Shi Qingxuan, it was way more difficult to convince Xie Lian.

“But that’s a bit...” The god shook his head. “It doesn’t feel right talking about other people that way.”

“C’mon!”

“I said no.”

Hua Cheng, your dianxia is boring.

My dianxia is perfect.

 

“Lan Zhan!” He crooned, as always. “Let’s play fuck, marry or kill.

“Mn.”

“But with words! You can’t cheat this time.”

Lan Wangji nodded before taking a step forward. “Fuck Wei Ying.” He took another one. “Marry Wei Ying.”

Wei Wuxian was astonished. His dead heart remembered how to beat and it was more painful as the god approached him.

“And kiss Wei Ying.”

And he did.

Chapter Text

That morning Liu Qingge was sparring with his sister. Despite the fluidity of his movements, he was worried. The other day, Jun Wu had whispered to him that Liu Mingyan might soon become a heavenly official. However, not a martial goddess, but a literature goddess.

Her sister.

A LITERATURE GODDESS??????

Jun Wu was a strange man with enigmatic smiles and hidden intentions. Liu Qingge clung to the possibility that it was a joke. Nevertheless, he was disturbed by the possibility and that’s why he invited his sister to spar. Liu Mingyan’s feints were elegant and lethal. Maybe in a few centuries, she will be as powerful as him.

His sister came over to him when they rested.

“What’s that?” She pointed to the fan hanging from his belt. 

“That’s not mine!” He was quick to reply.

Liu Qingge inexplicably blushed and her sister laughed.

“I know. I heard… certain rumors.” Behind her veil, her eyes gazed at him curiously and unblinking. Liu Qingge felt the same tension as when he faced a ghost, only this time the threat was less clear and perhaps more dangerous. “Have you thought about what you will do when you find him?”

The War God choked.

“I'll give it back!” He exclaimed.

“Yes, and that is why you have looked for him for all these centuries.” She sneered in a honeyed voice. “Be honest with me, ge. What do you want from Shen Qingqiu?”

Liu Qingge lowered his head. He had always been bad at words. And that simple question had a very complicated answer. His sister smiled at him before handing him a book.

“What’s that?”

“Help. It’s my last book. I wrote about a hypothetical meeting between the two of you, maybe it gives you some ideas.”

Even if Liu Qingge didn't usually read, he accepted it. The book was green and very fine. It was titled: The Three Encounters of the War God.

“Thanks.”

“You're welcome,” she whispered.

That same night, Liu Qingge sat in the gardens of his palace and began to read…

 

This is the story of Liu Qingge, the War God, and his devoted obsession with Green Leaves Dismember Limbs, the Ghost King. He defeated a thousand monsters, ghosts, and wars, but there was one person he couldn't find. He haunted his name for centuries. He searched for him in the greenest forests and in the highest mountains.

Until he discovered a particular spell.

Liu Qingge planted his trap. The spell would attract the person of his dreams, locking him in a golden net.

The first night, a man with delicate features, dressed in green and with his face hidden behind a fan, fell into the trap.

“I’m the god Nie Huaisang, I’m not the one you’re looking for.” The man said. “Let me show you.”

And then, Nie Huaisang used his sabers to impress the War God…

 

Liu Qingge flushed. He nearly dropped the book from his hands when he discovered that there were ten pages below describing papapa. He skipped the scene and went to the next chapter.

 

The second night, another beautiful man fell into the trap. His voice was sweet as the breeze and he laughed when he approached.

“I’m Shi Qingxuan, the Wind Master.” He explained. “Sorry, I'm not the one you are looking for.”

The Wind Master changed his form and took off his clothes…

 

Liu Qingge flushed, even more, when he arrived at twenty pages of spicy papapa with the two aspects of Shi Qingxuan. He ignored them and went to the last chapter.

 

The third night, another man fell in the net. He wasn’t as sweet as the other two. His features were sharp, his gaze cold. He had the icy skin of a corpse and his expression was ragingly hungry. The golden threads of the net wrapped him delicately, making him even more beautiful.

The war god's heart trembled. The centuries had not erased his love for Shen Qingqiu. And it hurt to know that his loved one was dead.

 

Despite Liu Mingyan's beautiful narration, the scene twisted into fifty pages of uninterrupted and explicit papapa.

 


 

The next day, he entered his sister's palace smashing the door. 

“LIU MINGYAN!” Her friends (Ning Yingying, Jin Ling, Lan Shizui, and Lan Jingyi) fled, while she remained at a tea table waiting for him. “What does this mean?”

“Have you read it in full, ge?” She motioned for him to sit across from her. “Do you like it?”

“I...”

Liu Qingge was paralyzed. He was unable to move, not even to sit up.

“I hope it gave you some ideas.” She said. He didn't need to see her face to know she was smiling.

“I… I have no such intentions!”

“You don't so desperately search for someone for centuries just to talk.” She remarked. “Come, tell your sister. Let me help you differentiate between what you think you want and what you really want.”

Liu Qingge felt tiny as he approached the table and settled down. This was such an odd situation that he did not know how to behave and did not dare to look at his sister’s eyes.

“I just want to talk...” He muttered without conviction. “Thanks to him I was able to ascend. I was dying and Shen Qingqiu managed to stabilize me long enough to ascend to the Heavens. I am indebted to him.”

His sister nodded. For some reason, that made him even more nervous.

“All of us Peak Lords ascended except him. Even Shan Qinghuan! It's strange. He should be here, yet he has become a calamity. Perhaps he was cocky, arrogant, unfriendly, and a cheater, but I don't understand how his fate has been twisted in such a cruel way.” Liu Qingge gulped. “And there are those rumors...”

Liu Mingyan sighed.

“I also heard the legend,” she said. “It is said that one of his disciples was a half-demon. He cut off his legs. His arms. The tongue and an eye. Then he left it in the Mount Tong'lu.”

“But that is impossible! Demons were extinct a thousand years ago!” Liu Qingge hit the table with his fist. “That is why I seek him: I need to discover the truth.”

“And what does the truth have to do with carrying his fan?”

Liu Qingge flushed. The words stuck in his throat. Embarrassed, he cleared his throat.

“And what are you doing writing a book about your brother?”

“I haven't written a book about my brother!” She laughed. 

And her laughter reassured him… for eight seconds.

“I've written a ton of books!” She dropped stacks and stacks of books on the table. There would be more than a hundred there. It was so inordinate that Liu Qingge was speechless and paralyzed. “I have written all the possible scenarios that I have dreamed of, but I never imagined that you would be on the romantic side… carrying his fan.”

The fearsome War God couldn't take it anymore and flee from that small palace without being entirely clear about his feelings.

Chapter Text

Shen Qingqiu stormed inside Liu Qingge’s temple. There were only two men inside, who turned toward him, startled. One of them seemed to have the intention of complaining about the noise, but a single look was enough for them to run away. What a shame, Shen Qingqiu wanted to kill somebody.

The Ghost King crossed his arms over his chest. He didn’t know why he had decided to go to Jinlan City nor why he was inside one of Liu Qingge’s temples, only that he was furious. With a couple of steps, he stopped in front of a statue. Although the quality of the materials was excellent, the artist hadn’t done a good job portraying Liu Qingge. The original was way more handsome and would never have a blank expression, nor those muscles. 

“Why don’t you leave me alone, brainless brute?” He hissed, imagining for a moment that the statue was the real Liu Qingge. “Why can’t you leave the past behind?”

He was tired of being reduced to Liu Qingge’s scum villain in the tales and legends that the humans liked to share. Everybody forgot who he truly was or his merits when he was still a peak lord. Despite his mistakes, he also made some goods. But nobody remembered that part. 

“I just want to be alone,” he murmured, exhausted.

Although he was a ghost and his heart had stopped beating centuries ago, he could still feel.

He was feeling really miserable at that moment, but, as always, when he thought it couldn’t be worse, the world showed him how wrong he was.

Shen Qingqiu had turned his back on the door, but he listened to some steps approaching. He ignored them, though if some stupid humans get closer, he would kill them, destroy their will to live while he dismembered them. However, a familiar voice broke the silence.

“Shen Qingqiu?”

Why?

When the calamity turned around, he saw Liu Qingge and Quan Yizhen. Both were sweaty, disheveled, and their robes a bit grubby. Knowing the War God, they probably had been fighting like the two brainless brutes they were. However, no matter if Liu Qingge seemed tired nor if he fought a battle before, Shen Qingqiu had never won against him in an honest fight. Not even once when they were cultivators together and surely not now.

Shen Qingqiu took advantage of the surprise of the two gods to run to the door. However, he wasn’t so naive to think they wouldn’t try to stop him, so he conjured a breeze of air to send the statue flying toward them. He heard a loud crash just when he stepped outside. I feel better now , he thought. He should have started breaking Liu Qingge’s statue at the beginning.

I have a situation , he reported to He Xuan through his communication array. Are you with Shi Qingxuan?

Yes, but we are busy. You are on your own tonight.

Black Water!!

Meanwhile, in the Wind Palace, He Xuan was trapped in a hug by a very drunk Shi Qingxuan. And, considering it was his excuse for not seeing Hua Cheng, helping Shen Qingqiu wasn’t worth it. Not even for some free meals.

Shen Qingqiu cursed under his breath while he jumped to the roofs. He could feel the other two following him, too close to his safety. If running away from Liu Qingge was hard, having another martial god on his track was a real nightmare.

A burst of qi almost hit him. Shen Qingqiu used his to destroy the roofs and slowed down his rivals, but soon he realized that wouldn’t be enough. He considered calling Zhuzhi-Lang, Pei Su, Ban Yue, or even the snakes, but he had left them on his peak and would be too late. And that only left him one option. A horrible option, but better than being caught by Liu Qingge. Shen Qingqiu had received a trial once and he didn’t want to repeat the experience, especially considering how ended the first.

Crimson Rain, he hissed in their common communication array. Despite being in a risky situation, it wasn’t terrible enough to say Hua Cheng’s infamous password.

Yes? There’s something you need? You sound troubled.

He didn’t need to see the other calamity to know he was smirking.

I’m in Jinlan City. Come. Now.

Do you need help? Asked Wei Wuxian, too happy. I can go.

The adults are talking, don’t bother me.

That’s not the way to talk to our son.

If you want a son, adopt one with Xie Lian.

Soon.

Another qi blast almost hit him. Angry, Shen Qingqiu set a house on fire. Maybe those two weren’t the most empathetic gods, but they were heavenly officials and couldn’t let some humans in danger. He heard one of them cursing his name. Shen Qingqiu grinned. Now he only sensed the presence of one, it looked like the other had stayed behind saving the civilians. 

Shen Qingqiu was almost tasting victory when Quan Yizhen landed in front of him, shrouded in dust. Without warning, the god attacked him.

CRIMSON RAIN.

He dodged him. Aware of Quan Yizhen’s ability, Shen Qingqiu decided to use words instead of hits. it’s your fault, Hua Cheng, he thought. You have left me no other option.

“You’re the one who is looking for that fallen god Yin Yu, right?” He observed, satisfied, that Quan Yizhen stopped. “You’ll find it in Ghost City. He is trapped by Crimson Rain Sought Flower. Now leave me alone!”

He didn’t expect that Quan Yizhen would try to attack him again despite the information. That stupid god was too loyal to his friend. Shen Qingqiu gritted his teeth and used his qi to stir the fire from the lanterns. The whole street lit up in red and gold. Quan Yizhen raised his arms to cover his eyes, and he took advantage of that instant of confusion to strike him treacherously.

The god hit the wall of a house that collapsed on top of him.

Much better, he thought.

Shen Qingqiu walked away ready to flee when a hand grabbed his wrist. Turning around he met Liu Qingge's bright eyes.

“Stop… running,” he snapped.

Shen Qingqiu growled as he lowered his head in defeat.

“Fine.”

Liu Qingge's grip softened and he took that opportunity to kick him in the knee. Finally free, Shen Qingqiu jumped to the nearest roof and started running. However, a body hit him from behind. They both rolled across the floor in a jumble of tiles. His ghostly qi clashed with Liu Qingge's, but the god was too powerful.

A hand twisted his arm against and pushed him until his back rubbed the other’s chest. Shen Qingqiu took off his outer robe to wrap Liu Qingge in it and sneak away. He heard him growl and curse loudly. Then, the noise of the fabric breaking.

“Shen Qingqiu! Even dead you fight dirty!”

If he weren't so tired, the calamity would have rolled his eyes.

Shen Qingqiu didn’t stop running. He had the advantage that he didn’t breathe or get tired. However, something hit his legs. As he stumbled, Shen Qingqiu saw Cheng Luan's silver bow in midair. Liu Qingge retrieved his sword. The god lunged at him as he tried to get up. The two rolled on the ground until Liu Qingge pinned Shen Qingqiu down, holding his wrists above his head with one hand.

The calamity hissed, trying to hit him with one leg, but Liu Qingge had him overwhelmed with his body. He rested his other hand on his chest, immobilizing him, as he sat on his hips, immobilizing Shen Qingqiu.

He was left with the consolation that, for the first time, the War God seemed the most tired.

“Why do you always run away?”

“Why don't you leave me alone?” He counterattacked, furious and ashamed. Rage colored his pale skin deceptively. As if he was alive. “You have always had it all! Forget me!”

“I...”

“You sank my reputation, alive and divine, you kept everything I wanted, you always misunderstood me... What else do you want? Why are you looking for me!?”

Liu Qingge hesitated.

He had been searching for him for centuries with a tenacity that bordered on obsession. His real motives had been lost to habit. Although he knew that he had many questions to ask and perhaps acknowledge an apology, at that moment…

Liu Qingge blushed as he remembered her sister's books.

It was Liu Mingyan's fault. Everything he wanted to say disappeared from his head. He froze at the image of Shen Qingqiu almost naked beneath him. The aloof and elegant immortal of his memories was disheveled, his robes reduced to a chaos of crumpled cloth. His eyes blazed with fury and he could see the white skin of his neck and collarbones.

In that instant of confusion, a silver butterfly stopped before his eyes, erasing that image.

Liu Qingge grunted as he tried to shoo it away with one hand. Shen Qingqiu took advantage of the weakening of his grip to push him away with a blast of qi.

Although Liu Qingge reacted quickly, the last thing he saw was Shen Qingqiu disappearing along with a ghost dressed in red.

“You’re late, Crimson Rain,” he hissed.

And he was left alone, even more confused and lost. He didn't even react when Quan Yizhen returned to his side. Liu Qingge's heart was beating with great force as if they were blows of swords and it was fighting against his ribs.

“Let’s spar,” he finally muttered.

He needed to get rid of that irrational heat.

Chapter Text

For once (maybe the first time in hundreds of years or even more time), Feng Xin and Mu Qing agreed on one thing: they were worried about Xie Lian. It wasn’t as if they would admit it out loud, not alone and especially not in the presence of the other. However, somehow the two of them had reunited on the Human Realm to go to Ghost City.

Feng Xin had never gone to that horrendous and despicable city, nor thought that one day he would willingly go in the company of Mu Qing. Although he liked to think they weren’t alike, the fact that he had found his former friend on the door of Puqi shrine hoping to talk with Xie Lian was a low blow. The worst part had arrived later when Mu Qing had suggested while rolling his eyes about the possibility of Xie Lian being in Ghost City, the all known Crimson Rain’s territory.

Despite it was probable, Feng Xin had insisted on waiting, unwilling to admit he was right. In the end, he reluctantly agreed. And that was how they entered the city together, though they were three feet away. Nobody could tell they were together despite they were clearly alive surrounded by monsters and ghosts. As expected, they brought a lot of attention.

Hua Cheng appeared one hour later. During that time, they had destroyed three market stalls, fought against the pig ghost, the crowd, and each other.

“Congrats, you are worse than the War God.” Hua Cheng clapped his hands with a grin that didn’t reach his eye. “At this rate, Heaven will be indebted to me.”

“Crimson Rain,” Mu Qing hissed. “Don’t say nonsense. We are here to...”

He never ended the phrase. Although in general Feng Xin loved when someone shut him up, today he couldn’t smile. Mostly because his face has changed. Feng Xin blinked, confused. Suddenly, Hua Cheng was taller than him and the crowd they defeated was laughing. When he shouted at them, instead of words, he barked.

And, where Mu Qing used to be, now was a cat above a pile of clothes.

“Woof?!”

The cat rolled his eyes.

“Woof!!!!!!”

Hua Cheng grabbed Meow Qing by the neck and lifted him up so they could face each other. The cat tried to scratch him, but the calamity laughed while he extended his arm so the animal couldn’t reach him. “Be a good cat and don’t bother Gege.” With a mischievous smirk, he released him.

It turned out to be true that cats always fell on their feet, because, despite the surprise, Meow Qing landed fairly well. Canfeng Xin barked to catch Crimson Rain's attention, but the Ghost King ignored him and left them without giving them an explanation of how they could return to their human bodies. When he tried to follow him, the ghosts stopped him. Some of them mocked while they intended to pet him, however, three bites and one amputation changed their mind.

That didn’t mean that the crowd left them alone. They kept coming, some to enjoy the spectacle, others with the intention to cook them. The ghost pig led that group.

Next to Canfeng Xin, Meow Qing pulled out the nails and hissed. It wasn’t very scary, but rather a bit adorable. 

The battle was imminent and, for once, Canfeng Xin didn’t have the winning hand. In fact, their defeat seemed very likely. When, along with the pride, he had lost all hope, the crowd retreated. A man dressed in green hiding half of his face behind an elegant fan took a step toward them, followed by Pei Su and two strange ghosts.

Shi Qingxuan?! Canfeng Xin thought. He never imagined he could be relieved to see the Wind Master, especially after what happened on Banyue, but his presence was a miracle.

The cat meowed, showing some recognition too. That caught the man’s attention, who approached. There was something odd in the way he moved with pride and disdain. Shi Qingxuan didn’t have a cold gaze capable of frightening all the ghosts and made them leave.

However, what made Canfeng Xin realize that the man wasn’t the Wind Master was the absence of Ming Yi.

Green Leaves Dismember Limbs!!

“Woof!” He tried to warn the cat.

But it was too late. The infamous calamity grabbed Meow Qing. He did it with unexpected tenderness, however, that didn’t change the fact that he ignored the god’s effort to be released. Neither that, when Shen Qingqiu turned around followed by his companions, it was a kidnapping. 

“Master, what are you going to do with this cute cat?” One of the ghosts, a young girl, asked. 

“Since those barbarians wanted to kill him, I don’t have another option than keep it. I’m sure Crimson Rain won’t care. And if he does, even better.”

“Master is so gentle!”

No, he’s a kidnapper and a killer!! Canfeng Xin wanted to scream, but he could only bark.

“And what about the dog, Shizun?” Asked the other ghost, one with too many similarities with a snake.

“I don’t like dogs. Leave it.”

And they left without giving Canfeng Xin the opportunity to follow them.

Feeling completely useless as he hadn't felt in eight hundred years, Canfeng Xin ran in circles, too anxious to stay still. He couldn’t use his spiritual energy, not to connect into the communication array nor to return to normality. He couldn’t do anything.

Despite his desperation, the world around him didn’t stop. Recovered from the fear at Green Leaves, some ghost approached again talking about how delicious would be a soup with a goddog

Aware that he couldn’t win, Canfeng Xin growled before running away. Although he wasn’t very big, he was able to move very fast. And he ran like a coward until he got completely lost in the unfamiliar city.

Damn it , he thought. He couldn’t go back to the heavens without help and there wasn’t any god nearby… right?

Canfeng Xin stopped on his track so abruptly that he almost hit a ghost. Now, he was a dog and, while it had a lot of disadvantages, it must have a few benefits. For example, the fact that dogs had a good nose. He lowered his head and concentrated to feel the different scents. Although mostly belonged to dead people, he caught a few filled with the spiritual energy that could only come from a god.

Finally, with a direction, Canfeng Xin followed the strongest scent although it converged with another filled with resentful energy similar to Hua Cheng and Shen Qingqiu’s. The chance that there were three Ghost Kings in the city at the same time was so unlikely that he decided to not think about it too much. He couldn’t be so unlucky.

His hearing was also better, so he caught fragments of conversations while he advanced. He ignored most of them, but one made him speed up the pace.

“Lan Zhan! I didn’t expect you would come to Ghost City for me,” said a man with a cheerful tone.

“Mn.”

“Did you like my surprise at the Mid-Autumn Festival?”

“Mn.”

“Really? That’s so great!! My night was also awesome. I saw all the plays with Dage and we laughed so much. And we also went to save Shen Qingqiu! Well, Dage saved him, but I collaborated!! I mean, someone had to convince him. Do you think that Shen Qingqiu will be grateful? Maybe he even stops seeing me as a nuisance.”

“Mn.”

“Anyway, that’s in the past. Now we should focus on finding the last parts of our friend...” A bamboo stick hit the floor. “And A-Qing’s friend. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten him...AHHHHHHH LAN ZHAN!!”

Canfeng Xin barked, relieved to recognize Lan Wangji. It was hard to not know him after what happened at the Mid-Autumn Festival. However, what he didn’t expect was that one of the ghosts who accompanied him (clearly another calamity) would jump into Lan Wangji’s arms and start screaming with fear.

Astonished by that reaction, Canfeng Xin approached the god very slowly. He didn’t expect that Lan Wangji would unsheathe his sword and pointed to Canfeng Xin. 

What are you doing? Canfeng Xin tried to say. I’m a dog… I mean, a god. Lan Wangji!!

“LAN ZHAN!!”

LAN WANGJI!!

And Lan Wangji decided to defend the calamity. His always blank expression now showed a cold fury. Feeling threatened, Canfeng Xin turned around, too scared to look back.

I don’t need him, he thought, still uncomfortable. Now that I know I  can catch a god’s scent, I can find Mu Qing. 

Filled with determination and a sparkle of optimism, Canfeng Xin ran until he left the horrendous city behind. He feared that if he stood there for much longer, he would eventually find even Black Water.

Outside, without all the market stalls of food, ghosts, and humans, Canfeng Xin found it easier to recognize Meow Qing’s scent. Maybe it was because they knew each other for hundreds of years, but his scent stood up in contrast with other familiar but weak scents. 

Although now he was a dog, he continued being a god under his skin. For that reason, he was able to run miles without getting tired nor feeling hungry. However, as much as he advanced, he still sensed Meow Qing’s scent so far. Soon, he had to accept the fact that he could need days to reach his destination, maybe even a week. And he didn’t know if Meow Qing could survive for so long trapped by Green Leaves.

For that reason, when he noticed a different and strong scent way nearer than Meow Qing’s, he decided to change his route. As he was getting closer, he sped up. He had the feeling that it belonged to Jiang Cheng and, although he never liked the god, the Thunder Master was a close friend of Meow Qing. His only friend, in fact. If there was someone out there who would help him save Meow Qing, it was Jiang Cheng.

The Thunder Master wasn’t alone. He was in the street of a small village walking with his niece and a dog. The last was the first to sense his presence. He barked to alarm his owner, however, Jiang Cheng was the one who paid him attention.

I’m Feng Xin! Mu Qing was kidnapped, he needs your help! He tried to say. Of course, it didn’t work.

Jiang Cheng knelt down and, unexpectedly, petted his head. He usually had the same expression as if he had bitten a lemon, while other times he was just angry. Now his expression was one that Canfeng Xin had never witnessed. There wasn’t any trace of fury nor disdain. It was softer and his eyes reflected a tenderness he wasn’t used to seeing in his face.

“Are you lost, buddy?” Jiang Cheng asked with the same tone other people used with babies.

Who are you and what did you do with Jiang Cheng??!!

As a spiritual dog, Fairy approached tensed, sensing he wasn’t a normal dog. And, if Fairy knew, Jiang Cheng should also suspect it… right?!

“Uncle...” Jin Ling muttered. “You can’t adopt another...”

A single look from Jiang Cheng was enough to shut him up.

Chapter Text

It was meeting 4634 and He Xuan didn’t want to be there. As always. 

Next to him, Shen Qingqiu seemed as annoyed as He Xuan was, though Green Leaves didn’t have to prepare the last pieces of his revenge. That night was the moment he had chosen to crash as the Reverend of Empty Words into Shi Qingxuan’s party.

“I’m busy,” He Xuan said with a cold tone. “Crimson Rain, can you get to the point and finish early?”

Hua Cheng flashed him a wide smirk. “Don’t be so impatient, Black Water.”

He huffed. Hua Cheng had already burned all his patience. “What’s the matter with Xie Lian now?”

“What are you talking about?” Hua Cheng had the insolence to pretend to be surprised. “This isn’t about Gege, this meeting it’s for you.”

“What?” 

“Yes, it’s about your revenge.” Hua Cheng tried to put his feet on the table, but Shen Qingqiu threw him a snake as a warning. “You see, Shi Qingxuan is Gege’s only good friend. Your revenge will make Shi Qingxuan suffer. And, if Shi Qingxuan suffers, Gege will suffer too. For that reason, you had to rethink your revenge.”

He Xuan stared at him, astonished, thinking he hadn’t heard him right. Then, realization felt upon him. His rage was as cold as the deep waters. “Everything is always about Xie Lian. And how do you dare to talk about my SECRET revenge in front of a god?!”

He pointed to Lan Wangji, who had taken his role of being Wei Wuxian’s chair very seriously and had his arms wrapped around the calamity’s waist. It was rather impressive that the god continued to be imperturbable, but He Xuan was too angry to acknowledge it. 

“Welcome to the club,” Shen Qingqiu muttered while drinking his tea. After all, they were on his SECRET peak.

“Don’t worry, Lan Zhan won’t say anything,” Wei Wuxian promised cheerfully. “Besides, I’m with Dage. Shi Qingxuan is my friend and he’s very nice, I don’t want him to suffer.”

“Seriously?” He Xuan furrowed his brow, getting more and more furious. “After what you did, you can’t stop me from taking my revenge. Don’t be a hypocrite.”

The ambient froze as Wei Wuxian’s smile was wiped from his face. Lan Wangji’s expression darkened although he had been indifferent after hearing that a Ghost King was planning a revenge against another god.

When Wei Wuxian answered, he didn’t sound angry, but sorrowful. “That’s exactly why I’m trying to stop you, He Xuan. Slashing the Wen’s didn’t bring me peace. Not then, and especially not now. During the war, I lost myself and killed too many innocent lives. At first, I stayed as a ghost for revenge. Now, for regret. And believe me, you don’t want to end like me.”

“I’m not like you,” He Xuan hissed. However, it was the first time he had heard Wei Wuxian talking so seriously, and deep down he was a bit uncomfortable. “I won’t regret killing Shi Wudu. He deserves it.”

“I used to think like you. Wen Chao and Wang Lingjiao also deserved it. But in the end, I lost my shijie and the Wens I decided to protect, my brother hates me, and I’ve been alone for two hundred years.”

Lan Wangji tightened his grip in an almost hug. Tears were brimming in his eyes, though he remained as silent as a statue.

The silence that came after Wei Wuxian’s words was so dense that He Xuan had the sensation that he could feel it. It carried regret for the wrong choices that nobody could undo.

After a long pause, Shen Qingqiu put the cup on the table. “I never thought I’d say this: but I’m with Wei Wuxian.”

Beaming, Wei Wuxian tugged Lan Wangji’s sleeve. “Lan Zhan! Shen Qingqiu praised me!” 

“I’ve suffered a disproportionate revenge,” Shen Qingqiu explained under the wide eyes of Hua Cheng and He Xuan. His voice was pouring out venom as if his wounds were still bleeding. “I can’t support you, not this time. You should think about what you have now and what you’ll lose on your revenge. It’s worth it?”

The worst part of understanding Shen Qingqiu’s point of view was that He Xuan couldn’t even call him traitor

Hua Cheng broke the moment by clapping his hands.

“We should vote.”

“Wait, what are you talking about? Don’t you dare to get involved in my revenge, Crimson Rain Sought Flower, Gray Flute Sing Curses, and Green Leaves Dismember Limbs!!!!”

“Should Black Water have his revenge? Votes in favor? Votes against?”

He Xuan lost 3 to 1. Lang Wanji abstained and, considering he was close to dying in He Xuan’s hands but still wasn’t a calamity, even if he had voted they wouldn’t consider him.

“This is my revenge!” He Xuan hissed. “You can’t stop me.”

The three calamities stared at him. One grinning, another smirking, and the last with a half-smile.

Despite being dead, He Xuan shivered.

 


 

Meow Qing was astonished.

He had been under the table the whole reunion with a dizzy snake and a lost fan as an uninvited guest of a meeting of the four Ghost Kings. His ridiculous small body shivered with rage and frustration. He couldn’t do anything despite finding out the horrendous plans of Black Water. And what’s more, discovered Ming Yin is a calamity. And he wasn’t the only traitor: that fucking god Lang Wangji was also present and he said nothing. And he probably won't act either. However, that wasn’t the worst, but hearing Crimson Rain talking about Xie Lian with impudence, possessiveness, and the audacity of calling him Gege .

The meeting gave him the creeps. In the end, the infamous Shen Qingqiu was the most reasonable calamity. To his surprise, besides protecting him in Ghost City, Green Leaves hadn’t acted with cruelty. He was unfriendly and bossy, but diligent. And he also rejected Black Water’s revenge.

Meow Qing sighed. It was frustrating being unable to go back to Heavens and report all his discoverings. However, while he was a cat, he could barely do anything. I hope Feng Xin is doing better , he wished.

 


 

Meanwhile, in Heavens, Canfeng Xin wasn’t better. He needed to take advantage of the fact that Jiang Cheng had found him to communicate with him. Meow Qing’s safety depended on him.

However, the Thunder Master wasn’t making things easy.

“Who’s a good dog?” Jiang Cheng asked with a dopey smile.

And Canfeng Xin, instead of continuing to search for something to write, nodded in reflex. He was a good boy and he wanted to be praised!

Jiang Cheng patted his head affectionately.

Damn it , Canfeng Xin thought. I’ve been fooled... Again. I hope Mu Qing is fine.

Chapter Text

Despite the other calamities’ unnecessary opinions, He Xuan had everything ready. It would start that night and, once the Reverend of Empty words made his appearance, the next would be inevitable. 

The party that Shi Qingxuan had dragged him into was loud and crowded. The only good part was the food and soon He Xuan found himself devouring it. Tonight he wasn’t hungry; he was insatiable and not even all the food in the three worlds could change it. The emptiness in his stomach couldn’t be filled with food.

But maybe it would finally be filled with Shi Wudu’s pain.

There was a smile lingering around the corners of He Xuan’s lips when he spotted a couple that shouldn’t be there. He immediately tensed, aware that he was going to postpone the moment of bringing the Reverend of Empty words.

He Xuan moved fast, leaving for the first time the table with the small banquet, but not fast enough to interfere before the two nuisances. 

“Shi Qingxuan!” Wei Wuxian called, almost yelling, to catch the god’s attention. 

When Shi Qingxuan turned to find the origin of the voice, He Xuan froze. Despite Shen Qingiu’s words, he didn’t have doubts that revenge was what he wanted. Still, he felt a twinge on his chest for the Wind Master’s wide smile. Probably one of the last. The fact that Shi Qingxuan ran to grab his arm before paying attention to Wei Wuxian was another invisible stab.

“Mo-Xiong! Lan Wangji!” Shi Qingxuan said cheerfully. “I didn’t expect you here!”

Wei Wuxian had the audacity of winking in He Xuan’s direction before nodding with a bright smile. “I heard they had Emperor’s smile, so we couldn’t miss this party, right, Lan Zhan?”

“Mn.”

It was obvious to everyone but Shi Qingxuan that he was lying. He Xuan gritted his teeth. One thing was making a stupid votation, one very different was crashing his revenge. Or trying, because Wei Wuxian’s presence wouldn’t change anything. He was going to make sure of that.

Masking part of his annoyance, He Xuan turned his head to Shi Qingxuan. “It’s been years since the last time I drank Emperor’s smile. We should all drink.”

“What a wonderful idea, Ming-Xiong!!”

And, without releasing his arm, Shi Qingxuan managed to drag everyone with him to the nearest table. Soon, the four of them had a jar on their hands and Wei Wuxian noticed too late He Xuan’s plan.

“Lan Zhan,” he whispered. “After last time maybe you shouldn’t...”

“C’mon!” Shi Qingxuan insisted, not letting him finish. “Let’s drink together!”

He Xuan’s eyes were shining with malevolence when he pulled a big swig of his wine, echoing Shi Qingxuan’s words in silence. The success of his idea depended on his simplicity and Shi Qingxuan’s insistence. A drunk Lan Wangji was annoying, but also the distraction he needed to get rid of Wei Wuxian for the next few hours.

It worked as well as he expected.

Less than an hour later, Wei Wuxian, who didn’t learn from his mistakes, ended up with his wrist tied up to Lan Wangji’s. 

“They are such good friends,” Shi Qingxuan muttered once he stopped laughing. “Just like us.”

There were so many wrong things in his comment that He Xuan didn’t bother to correct him. He shrugged with feigned indifference. “I think they want more wine,” he said instead.

“Good point, Ming-Xiong!”

He Xuan’s expression didn’t betray any emotions when Shi Qingxuan went alone to order more wine. This was his perfect chance, and Wei Wuxian wasn’t going to ruin it (despite his not -so-hidden talent of ruining things).

From his spot, He Xuan pretended he didn’t see the shadow that approached Shi Qingxuan. The shadow of the creature that destroyed his own life before He Xuan turned the tables and devoured him. It all started with the Reverend of Empty Words and it made sense that the end also started with him.

Blood was drained from Shi Qingxuan’s face as his eyes widened with surprise at first, then utter terror. His reaction was the expected after encountering the monster of his childhood’s nightmares. And He Xuan also knew that the Wind Master would immediately fly to warn his brother.

He Xuan lost his train of thought with the sound of a flute. It was a melody he had heard before, so beautiful that everyone stopped in their tracks. Then, the General Ghost crashed the party. He Xuan stared in disbelief at the chaos caused by Wei Wuxian’s strongest ghost: Wen Ning.

This wasn’t supposed to happen , He Xuan thought, furious. However, it was useless. Shi Qingxuan had already listened to the Reverend of Empty Words. Wei Wuxian’s intervention arrived too late.

Not a single guest of the party noticed the short presence of the Reverend of Empty Words, but nobody ignored Wen Ning. In the chaos, Shi Qingxuan grabbed He Xuan’s hand and urged him to go away.

Shi Qingxuan didn’t release him even when they arrived at his palace.

“Ming-Xiong.” For once, Shi Qingxuan was completely serious and sober, without any glimpse of happiness in his fearful eyes. “I need to tell you something.”

And He Xuan, who hadn’t dropped yet his act of Ming Yi, nodded with a blank expression.

 


 

If Wei Wuxian’s participation hadn’t been enough, Shi Qingxuan insisted on visiting Xie Lian, which also meant paying a visit to Hua Cheng. He Xuan didn’t have a problem with Xie Lian, but with Hua Cheng, he had as many as zeros on his debt with him.

“We don’t need to disturb his highness,” He Xuan insisted for the third time since they left the Wind Master palace.

“Ming-Xiong, his highness has been in the human realm for eight hundred years. If someone knows anything about the Reverend of Empty Words it’s him.” Shi Qingxuan shivered when he muttered the name of his childhood nightmares. He Xuan pretended he didn’t notice it. “And, knowing his highness, it's very possible that he had seen one of them.”

What neither of them said was that considering Xie Lian’s misfortune, it was more a certainty than a possibility.

“I don’t like the idea,” he protested weakly. When Shi Qingxuan wasn’t acting like an idiot, his arguments were pretty solid. And He Xuan couldn’t dismiss them without stopping his act of Ming Yi.

“Don’t be like that! Besides, what’s the worst thing that can happen?”

Food poisoning. Food poisoning was the worst thing that could happen… and did happen.

Over the years after his death, He Xuan had been in plenty of dangerous situations, like Mount Tong’lu or some night hunts. Still, it was the first time since his death that He Xuan was close to dying again.

Far from him, as if there were worlds apart, he could hear Shi Qingxuan’s voice saying incoherences, Xie Lian trying to calm him, and Hua Chen’s laugh.

I told you that your revenge won’t succeed. Hua Cheng sounded smug and proud of Xie Lian’s deadly culinary skills through their communication array. You better give up, Black Fish .

Dream on.

 

Besides almost killing them with food poisoning, Xie Lian insisted on helping Shi Qingxuan to investigate the origin of the Reverend of Empty Words that haunted him. And that’s how the four of them ended up in Fu Gu city, ignoring He Xuan’s plan of going alone with Shi Qingxuan. Hua Cheng’s presence was a promise of troubles, especially now that he was openly against his revenge. And, sadly, he wasn’t as easily distracted as Wei Wuxian.

He Xuan gritted his teeth while Hua Cheng sabotaged all his effort of taking different paths. He and Xie Lian seemed to be glued to Shi Qingxuan’s side, who was so nervous that didn’t find odd the sudden attention of the calamity.

Still, Hua Cheng wasn’t perfect and He Xuan’s opportunity arrived with the beginning of the Bloody Fire Social, a procession the citizens performed to honor He Sheng. Surrounded by a crowd of people dressed up as the victims of He Sheng’s murder, He Xuan grabbed Shi Qingxuan’s hand and dragged him away from Hua Cheng and Xie Lian. The Wind Master tensed at first until he realized that it was Ming Yi. The trust Shi Qingxuan had in him made it easy to separate him from his true friend and the Ghost King that actually was helping him.

“Ming-Xiong, are you all right?” He asked once they were on a less crowded corner, near an inn. “You look pale.”

He shrugged with false indifference. “I don’t like being with so many people.”

“Sorry about that.”

For once, Shi Qingxuan’s smile didn’t reach his eyes. He was lost in his thoughts and the procession with a guarded expression He Xuan wasn’t used to.

He Xuan furrowed his brow, trying to decipher but failing to understand Shi Qingxuan’s feelings. “You look pale too. What’s wrong with you now?”

“I was thinking about He Sheng,” he muttered after a pause. 

Earlier, they went to an inn, where a man explained to them the miserable life and death of He Sheng, how his dreams of taking the national exams were ruined, all his family and fiancee died suffering, the two years he was in jail… It was a familiar story, one that He Xuan knew very well. It was, after all, his own story. Fu Gu, his hometown. And the Bloody Fire Social, a play about his death.

Although Shi Qingxuan’s feelings about He Sheng didn’t matter and they couldn’t change anything, He Xuan couldn’t suppress a glimpse of interest. He waited, allowing with his silence that Shi Qingxuan continued.

“All those misfortunes could only be caused by the Reverend of Empty Words, right? It’s too much. Even if not everything it’s true and they exaggerated it, with that amount of resentment, anyone would become a ghost.” He Xuan almost snorted at the irony of Shi Qingxuan saying that to him. Unaware of his thoughts, the Wind Master shook his head. “It’s so unfair...”

And the irony kept tightening.

“No, he didn’t deserve it,” he whispered so low that Shi Qingxuan didn’t hear him.

“You know? I used to think I was very unlucky. But in comparison...” Absently, he started playing with his fan. “It was awful having to hide and, yes, my parents died, but I always had Ge. He Sheng… He must have been truly lonely.”

He Xuan, completely frozen in his spot, couldn’t even nod. Shi Qingxuan was talking with such sadness and sorrow about He Sheng, feeling bad about him… And completely clueless that He Sheng’s misfortune was originally Shi Qingxuan’s, that Shi Wudu switched their fates to protect his little brother at the expense of making an innocent man and his loved ones miserable. Although He Xuan craved for Shi Wudu’s regret, Shi Qingxuan’s sadness didn’t make him feel better. After all, would Shi Qingxuan keep showing empathy toward He Sheng when he discovers what Shi Wudu did? Or would he side with his brother like always? Deep down, in a heart long gone, He Xuan hoped for the first option.

Completely lost in his thoughts and different possibilities of what would be the best moment to show Shi Qingxuan the truth about his brother, He Xuan barely noticed that the Wind Master lifted his hand toward his temple. Fast, the calamity managed to grab his wrist before he could connect with someone (probably Xie Lian) in the communication array.

“Ming-Xiong?” He asked without struggling to free himself, trusting once again the wrong person.

“The play it’s over. Let’s go to another place.” Far from Xie Lian and Hua Cheng, who were probably looking for them if they weren’t too busy flirting with each other.

Although the performance had finished, the streets continued to be crowded. For that reason, avoiding Hua Cheng and Xie Lian shouldn’t be too difficult despite Shi Qingxuan’s natural tendency of being the center of attention. 

As they wandered through the people, He Xuan analyzed their surroundings, waiting for the perfect excuse to leave Shi Qingxuan alone. He couldn’t be present when the Revered of Empty Words appeared again and he didn’t want the Wind Master to suspect him.

He Xuan was so vigilant that he immediately noticed two familiar figures, though they weren’t the two he was avoiding. No… He thought, aghast. Green Leaves, don’t you dare to interfere! He yelled into their communication array.

Three votes against one , Shen Qingqiu reminded him. And I’m at my peak, so you don’t have any reason to complain.

Yeah? And what are Ban Yue and Zhuzhi-lang doing here?

They like watching performances of dead people.

Furious, He Xuan cut the communication array. Years of masking his emotions were the only reason he managed to not show how angry he was with the other calamity. After this, he refused to help Shen Qingqiu again, no matter how much food he would pay for.

While he knew Hua Cheng and Wei Wuxian very well, he couldn’t say the same about Zhuzhi-lang and Ban Yue, so he had no idea how they would interfere.

He Xuan turned to Shi Qingxuan, releasing a hand he wasn’t aware he had been holding the whole time. “I saw two ghosts over there. Stay here while I deal with them.”

And, without giving time to the Wind Master to protest, he sped up.

 


 

Shi Qingxuan didn’t want to be afraid of being alone. He was a damn god! However, the fear was creeping into his bones like a parasite. And suddenly, he didn’t feel like a god anymore, but like a little kid. And he hated it.

Anxious, he opened his fan. He needed to remember he wasn’t a helpless child and his fan was a powerful weapon. Besides, Ming Yi was certainly going to come back soon and Xie Lian wasn’t so far.

Maybe I should contact him, he thought half-hidden behind the fan. Despite nobody in the crowd knew him, he felt more comfortable if they didn’t see him so nervous.

Just when he was about to contact Xie Lian, he felt a grip on his shoulder. He turned around, his heart racing, and all the courage he tried to build crashing down. However, behind him, there wasn’t a terrifying figure but a handsome man. Despite his ravishing beauty that made his heart pound for a different reason, his smile wasn’t gentle. There was a dark glimpse in his eyes, shining in red as the strange mark on his forehead.

“I finally found you, shizun,” he purred.

And then, everything turned black.

Chapter Text

It all happened in a blur. Shi Qingxuan was there, waiting for him as He Xuan had told him, and suddenly he was gone. Black Water shouldn’t feel so anxious if the disappearance was because of the Reverend of Empty Words and not because of a stranger that wasn’t human.

For a moment, He Xuan stood frozen, overwhelmed by the shock of not understanding what had happened. When he finally reacted, it was too late, and couldn’t sense Shi Qingxuan’s presence.

Crimson Rain , he growled into their common communication array. What did you do now?!

Oh! Finally, someone has stopped ignoring me. Hua Cheng’s voice sounded smug and relaxed as always. You know, Gege and I are looking for you two…

CRIMSON RAIN! THIS IS SERIOUS. WHAT. DID. YOU. DO?!

He Xuan! Shen Qingqiu interfered. If you are going to yell, talk in your private communication array with Hua Cheng. I need peace to drink my tea.

As if Shen Qingqiu’s presence wasn’t enough, Wei Wuxian joined a second later. There’s something wrong? We’re free and willing to help!

What is wrong is that someone had kidnapped Shi Qingxuan and it wasn’t me!

…Me neither, Hua Cheng recognized, finally sounding a bit concerned. Shen Qingqiu? Wei Wuxian?

Nope.

No.

He Xuan cut off the communication. His revenge plan had been crashing around him since the night before, but this was the straw that broke the camel. And now, he felt as lost as Shi Qingxuan.

Desperate situations required desperate measures, so He Xuan connected into the general communication array of the gods. He immediately found that it was more chaotic than usual.

ARE YOU SAYING THAT SOMEONE HAD KIDNAPPED MY LITTLE BROTHER?!

Water Master-Xiong, please, calm down…

DON’T TELL ME TO CALM DOWN, PEI MING.

It’s too soon to talk about a kidnapping. Though in general Xie Lian’s tranquility was comforting, it didn’t erase a bit of He Xuan’s anguish. We only know he’s missing and was last seen with a stranger.

He Xuan huffed. He clearly wasn’t going to find more information there and he had enough with everything that was happening to, besides, listen to Shi Wudu.

Just when he abandoned the communication array, Hua Cheng and Xie Lian arrived. The Crown prince had a finger on his temple, so he continued talking with the gods. However, he stopped when he spotted He Xuan.

“Earth Master, can you explain what happened?” His politeness wasn’t affected by mysterious disappearances, though a small frown indicated he was worried.

“Barely,” he admitted through his gritted teeth. “A man approached him. It wasn’t human, but he didn’t seem like a god nor a ghost.”

“Could he be a calamity?”

The two calamities shared a look, fully aware that no, it couldn’t be one of them.

“No,” Hua Cheng said, being helpful for once.

Despite not giving an explanation, Xie Lian nodded, believing Hua Cheng’s words.

“Hum… Excuse me?” Zhuzhi-lang started, hesitating.

A bit startled, He Xuan turned toward the ghost. He had completely forgotten that Zhuzhi-lang and Ban Yue were still there. “What?”

“I think I know who he is.” Three and a half pairs of eyes turned to him. “Maybe I’m mistaken, but I caught a glimpse of him and he truly looked like… Luo Binghe.”

The two calamities froze.

“I haven’t heard that name before,” muttered Xie Lian, unaware of the turmoil that had started in the Ghost King’s communication array.

Green Leaves!! This is your fault!!

It’s not my fault that everybody mistakes us!!

Wait, what are you two talking about? Who had mistaken Shi Qingxuan with Shen Qingqiu now?

LUO BINGHE.

Oh… Isn’t him the…

Beast who dismembered me before killing me? Yes.

Green Leaves, come here to fix it.

Why? Didn’t you want to make Shi Qingxuan suffer from your revenge? 

No!!

You finally admitted it! Congrats. Now, deal with it yourself. I’ve had enough of that beast and I’m not going anywhere near him again.

 

Meanwhile, in the god’s communication array, the turmoil was different for the lack of truthful information.

Update! It seems that the man who had taken the Wind Master is Luo Binghe.

Who?

WHO?

Hey! I know that name! He was a disciple of Cang Qiong Sect!

Wasn’t he one of Liu Qingge’s disciples?

No, he was from An Ding Peak.

You are all wrong! He was from Xian Shu Peak.

No. As Xian Shu Peak’s former Peak Lord, I can confirm we were all sapphic women.

CAN SOMEONE SAY SOMETHING USEFUL?

I heard he was a disciple of the infamous Shen Qingqiu and he was killed by his shizun, who was jealous of his talent.

Are you sure? I heard the other way around and it was Luo Binghe who killed him.

You are all saying nonsense! Luo Binghe is a myth. There are even rumors saying that he was a half-demon! Who can believe something like that?

Well, I met him, so he was real. But he was human, not half-demon.

 


 

He Xuan never thought that there would come a day when Hua Cheng would be willing to help him for free while Shen Qingqiu refused to lend a hand. As if that wasn’t weird enough, he was going to look for Shi Qingxuan in a rescue mission with Pei Ming and Shi Wudu. He Xuan started the day preparing a way to kill the Water Master and now he had to work with him.

Obviously, it wasn’t his choice.

The two gods had found them after they left Fu Gu, hoping that Xie Lian would give them more clues. He Xuan had almost got into a fight with Shi Wudu when the latter discovered that he was with Shi Qingxuan when he disappeared. Only the intervention of Xie Lian and Pei Ming avoided an unnecessary but very needed fight.

For He Xuan, Xie Lian’s presence was more an inconvenience than help since he couldn’t talk freely with Hua Cheng. Shi Wudu and Pei Ming’s presence, on the other hand, were the last ingredients for a disaster. But, while he pretended to be Ming Yi, he couldn’t just send them to hell.

“Ling Wen has told me that there’s barely any information about Luo Binghe,” Pei Ming informed. “So we’ll have to grope.”

“If we want to go somewhere, we’d need to know a direction first,” He Xuan pointed out angrily.

“We wouldn’t need to go anywhere if you hadn’t lost my brother!”

“I didn’t lose him!”

 


 

Xie Lian had given up on his efforts of calming them and, at some point, it was better to let them rant. He, meanwhile, preferred to focus on a way to look for the Wind Master.

“Did you see anything?” He asked Ban Yue quietly.

While Zhuzhi-lang had decided to return with Shen Qingqiu, Ban Yue stayed, arguing that she had a debt with Shi Qingxuan. Luckily, Pei Ming was too busy calming his friend to link the ghost he blamed from Pei Su’s banishment to Ban Yue.

The ghost shook her head. “Sorry, it happened too fast.”

Disappointed but not surprised, Xie Lian sighed. “It’s alright.”

The argument between Ming Yi and Shi Wudu was starting to cause him a headache, but he didn’t complain. After all, he was very used to them. What he wasn’t very used to, however, was having friends. And now Shi Qingxuan had gone missing and he didn’t know what to do.

Xie Lian glanced at Hua Cheng. He had been strangely quiet, so he probably knew something he didn’t want to share. Still, Xie Lian needed it to try.

“San Lang, do you know a way to find the Wind Master?”

As he expected, Hua Cheng didn’t seem pleased with his question but didn’t deny it.

 

Three gods, two disguised calamities, one ghost, and zero solutions. 

Or that was what it seemed.

He Xuan reluctantly accepted Hua Cheng’s dice. It was suspicious that the other calamity had waited for Xie Lian’s question to finally offer a possibility. He Xuan didn’t need to ask that it wasn’t to be a safe trip.

“If I roll this dice, then it will open a path toward Shi Qingxuan?” He Xuan asked, pretending he wasn’t sure of Hua Cheng’s abilities.

Hua Cheng, who always enjoyed their theatrics, shrugged. “It depends on your luck, so it may also only let you near him. It’s impractical if more than three gods travel together,” he continued with such impudence that not even He Xuan knew if he was lying. “So you three should go first.” He pointed with his head to Shi Wudu, Pei Ming, and He Xuan.

It was so obvious Hua Cheng’s intention that He Xuan couldn’t get mad at him. Luo Binghe was an unpredictable danger, so it made sense that Hua Cheng would rather not send Xie Lian on the first line. Shi Wudu and Pei Ming, on the other hand, were sacrifices both calamities were willing to make.

The prospect of going to those gods was unbearable, but finding Shi Qingxuan was the priority, so He Xuan was going to have a little patience. Besides, it wouldn’t be worse than going with Wei Wuxian and a very drunk Lan Wangji.

Shi Wudu extended his hand to He Xuan, who stared at him without understanding what he wanted. “I’ll roll the dice.”

He Xuan was wrong. Shi Wudu was way worse company than going with Wei Wuxian and a very drunk Lan Wangji.

“No, I’ll do it.”

“I’m his older brother!”

“And I’m his best friend!”

The silence that came later was one caused by their astonishment. He Xuan wanted to bury himself into a deep hole for his embarrassment. He couldn’t believe that he would ever admit they were friends. Hua Cheng covered his face, but not before He Xuan missed his wide smirk nor that he seemed at the verge of laughing.

“I can always roll the dice myself,” Xie Lian proposed with a soft smile that gave goosebumps to He Xuan.

No, absolutely no.

Taking advantage of Shi Wudu’s momentary horror for the possibility of letting the two times fallen god take that responsibility, He Xuan threw the dice.

He Xuan shared a look with Hua Cheng, telling him without words that they would be in contact.

 


 

Wei Wuxian, Lan Wangji, and A-Qing arrived in time to see the back of Hua Cheng’s red clothes disappearing.

“Damn it,” Wei Wuxian cursed. “They didn’t wait for us!!”

A-Qing shrugged in a gesture that said clearly: “they didn’t want you to ruin another rescue mission.”

 


 

“I should have used the dice,” Shi Wudu protested for the seventh or eighth time. He Xuan had already lost count.

He Xuan rolled his eyes but ignored his bicker. Although he was also frustrated, he wasn’t going to complain. At least, not to his awful company.

Crimson Rain, we’re losing time. Even if Yi City is not very big, I don’t sense any striking spiritual energy. And the traces of resentful energy aren’t recent. it’s the residual stink of the corpses of the last ten years.

Oh! So you’re in Yi City! 

Wei Wuxian, stay away from this, He Xuan growled. He didn’t have time nor patience to deal with the youngest calamity.

My dices never fail If I don't want to. Hua Cheng finally answered. Shi Qingxuan is there, but maybe you aren’t looking in the right place.

And what would be the right place!?

That beast was presumptuous, arrogant, and saw himself as an emperor. Shen Qingqiu’s voice was dry and sharp. Look if there’s a castle outside the city.

Alright. Although He Xuan was still too mad to thank him, he recognized a peace branch anywhere and, deep down, he appreciated it.

Without bothering to explain Shen Qingqiu’s suspicion to the two gods, He Xuan entered the closest Inn. He heard Shi Wudu cursing and Pei Ming rushing to follow him.

“Earth Master, this is not the time to rest,” Pei Ming scolded him in a low voice while He Xuan took a seat.

“I’m not resting, but wandering in the city without a direction is useless. And a kidnapper wouldn’t take their prisoner to a crowded place.” At least, if he were to kidnap a god, he wouldn’t go to a city like that. “So, maybe there’s a temple or a castle, probably abandoned, that would suit Luo Binghe’s intentions. And here is where we can find the information we need.”

That was one thing he had learned from Shi Qingxuan. After years of complaints, He Xuan never thought he would miss him in a mission, but Shi Qingxuan was like a breeze of wind and, without him, He Xuan found it hard breathing.

After a long hesitation, Shi Wudu and Pei Ming shared a look and sat down, neither of them acknowledging out loud it was the best idea they had.

Although He Xuan knew what he wanted, when the innkeeper approached them, he couldn’t find the words. Shi Qingxuan was always the one who did the small talk and questions, whose smile melted every heart.

Maybe Shi Wudu sensed his internal turmoil or, simply, he didn’t trust him, but the Water Tyrant turned to the innkeeper with a half-smile a bit less arrogant than usual. He Xuan let the god ask the questions. To his utter surprise, Shi Wudu wasn’t as bad as he expected him to be and, soon, they had the direction to an abandoned coffin house on the outskirts of the city.

He Xuan shared the coordinates with Hua Cheng before they left Yi City just in case there was a barrier that blocked the communications. If I’m silent for more than half an hour, it’ll mean I can’t contact you.

Okay.

Are you sure? Shen Qingqiu intervened. That’s a strange place. Not Luo Binghe’s taste.

They say there’s something odd in that coffin house. In the last ten years, no one dared to approach. As if the place was cursed.

Just in case, be careful. Maybe it’s a trap. He is quite fond of those tricks.

To not attract some unnecessary attention, they didn’t use their swords (or shovel in He Xuan’s case) and opted to walk. However, they went very fast. Too fast.

He Xuan didn’t sense the barrier until he crossed it. And then, it was too late to go back.

Hua Cheng... There's a barrier. And it blew out my cover.

What do you mean?

It meant that it had erased his disguise. And now he was in front of Shi Wudu and Pei Ming, whose shocked expressions were almost comical, with his real aspect: Black Water.

Chapter Text

Shi Wudu had told Pei Ming several times that he wasn’t very smart. Sometimes it was half-joking, others because he was mad and there was a reason why everybody called him Water Tyrant. Still, Pei Ming didn’t consider himself stupid, only uninterested in some fields.

And, clearly, not understanding what was happening at that moment wasn’t his fault. It was just that anything made sense.

Pei Ming stared at Ming Yi, his eyes widened by the surprise. Despite Shi Wudu’s daily complaints about the Earth Master, Pei Ming always attributed his hostility as one of the many examples of Shi Wudu’s worry about everything concerning Shi Qingxuan. Nobody was enough for his little brother, so obviously, Ming Yi wasn’t good enough to be Shi Qingxuan’s best friend. It made sense.

Somehow, Shi Wudu had ended up being right that there was something fishy with Ming Yi. 

Although Pei Ming didn’t understand what was happening, he immediately unsheathed his sword and stepped between Shi Wudu and Ming Yi, ready to protect his friend. However, Shi Wudu didn’t seem to have the intention of being protected and ignored Pei Ming’s effort.

“I knew it,” Shi Wudu hissed. He sounded too satisfied for having found that a god was a ghost in disguise. “I’ve always known you were hiding something. And it turns out you are...”

He suddenly stopped as realization erased his victorious grim. Pei Ming, who had followed the same train of thoughts, paled a little. Only a few ghosts were powerful enough to change their aspects so well, taking care of every little. In fact, only a ghost with the level of a calamity would accomplish something like that. And there was a calamity that never appeared in public.

“You are...”

“Black Water He Xuan,” finished the false Ming Yi. 

Despite being outnumbered, Black Water’s expression didn’t show any concern. The only emotion in his golden eyes was a deep hatred, one that could only be forged by hundreds of years. 

Pei Ming tightened the grip of his sword, feeling a bit uneasy. He wasn’t confident he could win a fight against a Ghost King in those circumstances. However, he would be damned if he didn’t try. “What are your intentions? How long have you been impersonating Ming Yi? What have you done with the real Earth Master?”

He Xuan ignored all his questions, paying him the same attention as if he was a fly. His eyes were fixed on Shi Wudu. “I don’t have time to waste it with you two right now.”

“Then surrender,” Shi Wudu said with a hint of warning in his voice. “Otherwise you’ll have to fight against us.” 

“Do you want to fight now? I thought Shi Qingxuan was the most important thing to you. But no, you prefer wasting my time here.”

“You have no right to say his name,” Shi Wudu growled, furious. “And stop pretending you are Ming Yi.”

“Why would I? Qingxuan’s fortune is mine.”

“You...”

Pei Ming grabbed Shi Wudu’s arm before he could do something reckless. “What are you talking about?”

Finally, Black Water briefly acknowledged his presence. “Thanks for asking.” His voice was colder than the ice, so sharp that could cut them. “Although I’m a bit disappointed that the Water Tyrant hadn’t figurated it out yet. Tell me, how could you forget my face?”

At that point, Pei Ming was completely lost, and for Shi Wudu’s expression, his friend felt the same.

“I have no idea what you are talking about, maniac.”

Black Water narrowed his eyes. “You really honor the name of the Water Tyran. You can’t even recognize the man you sacrificed to switch Qingxuan’s fate with.”

On that occasion, Shi Wudu did understand the implications of Black Water’s words.

“This is the situation,” Black Water continued. “You know who I am and I know what you did. We can fight, but someone very dangerous has kidnapped Qingxuan and I don’t want to waste energy nor time with you.”

“Don’t try to fool me,” Shi Wudu pointed at him with his fan. “There’s no water nearby, so you are at a disadvantage, so of course you don’t want to fight here. And stop calling my brother Qingxuan. Someone who’s been lying to his face doesn’t have that right.”

“You’ve been lying to Qingxuan since his ascension, so we better not talk about who had lied more, because that victory is yours.”

Sensing that the battle was imminent, Pei Ming rushed to step between them again. He hated running away from a fight, but his guts were telling him that the best option there was a truce. And he trusted his instincts.

“Water Master-Xiong,” he whispered without tearing his eyes apart from Black Water. “We can deal with him later.” Preferably with the backup of the rest of the strongest martial gods. “Let’s focus on saving your little brother for now.” 

His words had the effect he wanted. Shi Wudu’s murderous expression didn’t change, but he lowered the hand that was holding his fan. As much as both of them hated to admit, if the Wind Master was really in danger, the presence of a calamity could be beneficial.

“When we save him, you’ll stay away from him,” Shi Wudu said.

It was quite a reasonable demand, however, Black Water snorted. “Stay away from him? He’s the one who follows me everywhere and insists on doing everything together.” In his tongue, the word everything carried a dark meaning.

“I’ll tell him you are Black Water and he won’t befriend you again.”

“And I’ll tell him first you faked his ascension and condemned some innocent people to do it. He’s going to hate you.”

“He won’t believe you.”

“Oh, he will.”

“Why would he believe a liar?”

“And what if we all calm down and resume or search?” Pei Ming asked, nervous. Being the mediator between two parties was a hard role that he had never played. Especially when those parties wanted to kill the other.

 


 

I destroyed the barrier.

He Xuan never thought that he would be glad of hearing Hua Cheng’s smug voice, but, considering how awful that day was, he shouldn't be so surprised. Not that he would admit it, though.

That’s so great! Wei Wuxian said cheerfully.

Thanks, Wei Wuxian. See? This is why he’s my favorite calamity.

At that point, He Xuan decided that the best course of action was to just ignore them as he was ignoring Shi Wudu and Pei Ming’s gaze.

He Xuan had recovered Ming Yi’s aspect, but his disguise couldn’t cover his true nature any longer. It was the worst outcome. Of all the gods, it was terrible, a colossal disaster, that Shi Wudu had discovered it before he got the chance to kill him.

However, at that moment, that wasn’t what worried him the most. It should. It was wrong that he was more concerned about Shi Qingxuan’s situation and that he was willing to postpone a fight against his nemesis because he didn’t want to get tired. It didn’t make any sense, but He Xuan couldn’t control those unwelcome feelings that were going to ruin everything.

He pushed those thoughts to the back of his mind when they spotted the coffin house. It was smaller than He Xuan had expected but creepy. The resentful energy that was all over Yi City was stronger there. However, just like the rest of the city, it was a remnant of what used to be.

He Xuan narrowed his eyes, wishing he could see the inside. But his vision couldn’t pass through the walls and Shi Qingxuan’s communication array was as silent as the last hours, so the only way was to forget all common sense and enter. He Xuan didn’t know if he was being stupid or was desperate. He didn’t know which option was worse.

“I’ve sent our location to Ling Wen,” Pei Ming said. He had his sword unsheathed and a concentration expression. “Backup is on their way.”

“There’s no time,” Shi Wudu and He Xuan retorted at the same time. They share an aghast look.

Pei Ming forced a smile. “It’s so great that you two have something in common!”

Black Water was about to send him a blast of qi when he sensed a familiar presence behind him. He turned around with a grimace of consternation to discover that his terrible day could get even worse.

Grey Flute, he hissed, massaging his temples. What the hell are you doing here?!

Wei Wuxian had the audacity to smile. We are here to help!

What? There was a hint of worry in Hua Cheng’s voice. Wei Wuxian, be careful.

Good luck then, Shen Qingqiu intervened. That rescue mission is doomed now.

Ey!

“Are you the backup?” Shi Wudu asked with obvious disdain and confusion.

In front of them, Wei Wuxian disguised as Mo Xuanyu, Lan Wangji, and the ghost of a girl didn’t transmit a lot of assurance.

“Mn.”

“Lan Wangji beat you at the Mid-Autumn Festival,” He Xuan pointed out. “Don’t underestimate him.”

Ohhh! Thanks for defending Lan Zhan!!

I only did it to piss off Shi Wudu.

The arrival of Hua Cheng, Xie Lian, and Ban Yue interrupted Shi Wudu before he could retort.

“When Ling Wen promised backup, I didn’t expect she would send his highness,” Pei Ming muttered, disappointed.

Hua Cheng probably didn’t hear him, because he didn’t react. Next to him, Xie Lian clapped his hands respectfully. “Do we have the location?”

Surprisingly, the ghost who accompanied Wei Wuxian lifted her bamboo stick in silence and pointed toward the coffin house with frightful accuracy for someone who seemed blind.

“Thanks.”

They had barely resumed their walk when two figures landed in front of them. Pei Ming’s eyes brightened with recognition. “That’s the backup I was expecting!” 

He Xuan tilted his head curiously. While he had expected Hua Cheng and Wei Wuxian’s presence wasn’t really a surprise, he hadn’t imagined that Liu Qingge and Quan Yizhen would come in such a hurry. Maybe after mistaking Shi Qingxuan so many times with Shen Qingqiu, they had become friends. 

“Does anyone know anything about Shen Qingqiu’s location?” Liu Qingge asked with the serious expression of someone who wasn’t joking.

Everybody stared at him in disbelief. “Shen Qingqiu?” Someone muttered.

“Yes.” Quan Yizhen nodded. “We heard he was kidnapped. We are here to kidnap-” Liu Qingge nudged him. “Help him,” he corrected himself.

He Xuan couldn’t say he was shocked. Liu Qingge and Quan Yizhen were famous for listening to the important matters of the Heavens. They probably mistook the chaotic information.

Your Liu Qingge had mistaken Shi Qingxuan with you , Hua Cheng laughed.

Again , He Xuan added, bitterly.

He’s a quite devoted god, Hua Cheng continued.

I’m trying to drink my tea in peace. Shen Qingqiu’s voice sounded strangled, but not as angry as other times. Thanks.

Although they resolved the misunderstanding, the two martial gods decided to stay anyway. Somehow, they had formed a little army when Ling Wen’s real backup arrived. 

“Two literature gods???” Pei Ming couldn't avoid complaining, his deception clear in his eyes.

“Ehem,” Liu Qingge coughed. “One literature god and a martial goddess. Mingyan is my sister and I trained her. And Yue Qingyuan was one of the most powerful cultivators of our era.”

However, Liu Mingyan has in her hands a scroll, not a sword. “I came here to cover Ling Wen’s work. Don’t mind me.”

“Mingyan!”

Three undercovered calamities, two ghosts, and eight gods finally stopped losing their time and walked toward the coffin house. They didn't have an agreed plan, some of them had their own strategies that they hadn't shared with the rest while others were just improvising. It was a combination destined to fail, a promise of chaos, a group that only had in common their destination. However, it didn’t end as the disaster that it could have been.

It was Pei Ming who brought down the door with a kick, but Shi Wudu and He Xuan entered first the coffin house. There weren’t chains nor torture tools. Shi Qingxuan was sitting on a chair, free of chains, and with a teacup in his hands. He flashed them a confused smile when he spotted them.

“Ming-Xiong? Ge?”

Shi Wudu hurried to his brother's side while the rest of the rescue party followed them inside the coffin house. He Xuan stood in a corner, at first alone, then in the company of Hua Cheng and Wei Wuxian, staring at Luo Binghe. He hadn’t expected that Shen Qingqiu’s killer, the one who terrified him even after all those years, was a handsome man with a genuine smile.

“Oh!” Luo Binghe looked at Shi Qingxuan. “Do you know them?”

“Yes, they are my brother, my best friend, my brother’s best friend, my second best friend, the one who always mistakes me with someone else, my second best friend’s friend...” He enumerated cheerfully, introducing them one by one with ridiculous nicknames. “And he is Luo Binghe. We met by accident,” he explained when he finished.

“He kidnaped you!” Shi Wudu pointed to Luo Binghe with his fan.

“What I said, an accident. It’s okay, he already apologized.”

“I’m really sorry,” Luo Binghe added. His voice sounded as sincere as his grin. Despite Shen Qingqiu’s description, he looked like an elegant young man dressed in black. He was sitting next to Shi Qingxuan in a friendly manner, without being either threatening or manipulative. “It was a misunderstanding. I thought he was some old acquaintance of mine. So, I invited him to have some tea and pastries to make up for my mistake.”

The three calamities’ expressions darkened while the others relaxed a bit. After all, if the legends were true, Luo Binghe made justice by murdering a horrible person. 

Uncomfortable, He Xuan left the two calamities to approach Shi Qingxuan. He should be relieved that Luo Binghe wasn’t acting as a threat and the Wind Master was safe, however, he couldn’t get rid of the uneasy feeling that something was wrong.

As he got closer, both Shi Qingxuan and Shi Wudu noticed his presence. Before the Water Tyrant could stop him, Shi Qingxuan hurried to He Xuan’s side with that damn smile that lit up some doubts He Xuan didn’t want to have.

Near them, some of the gods were talking with Luo Binghe, but He Xuan ignored the rest of the voices to focus on Shi Qingxuan’s.

“Ming-Xiong, you came for me! Were you worried?”

He Xuan furrowed his brow, the lie on the tip of his tongue. Lying and pretending he didn’t care for Shi Qingxuan was easy, sometimes he even did it automatically. However, with Shi Wudu finding the truth, the rules of the game had changed. Instead of saying that he wasn’t worried, he grabbed Shi Qingxuan’s hand, causing a faint blush on his cheeks.  

“You have to be more careful. I don’t want this to happen again.” 

“I know,” Shi Qingxuan lowered his voice, not wishing to be the center of attention for once. “I’m lucky that Luo Binghe is harmless and quite nice.” He Xuan grimaced upon hearing that description but didn’t interrupt him. “It could have been him .”

“Don’t leave my side from now on,” he muttered, fully aware that Shi Wudu was listening to all their exchange.

As he expected, Shi Wudu’s patience reached his limit. “Qingxuan, come with me now.”

Shi Qingxuan stared at his brother confused about why he was suddenly so mad. “It’s okay, Ge, I’m fine. You don’t have...”

“Come now and don’t get close to him.”

He Xuan almost smiled at Shi Wudu’s struggles. The Water Master couldn’t risk unmasking him while He Xuan had on his power the information of his crime. If that wasn’t enough, Shi Qingxuan’s ignorance worked in favor of He Xuan. The Wind Master couldn’t understand his brother’s attitude and, in that situation, he would always defend his best friend .

“Ge, you need to stop demonizing Ming-Xiong. He came to save me and has been helping me all day! Just like I accept that the womanizer of General Pei is your friend, you have to accept that Ming-Xiong is mine.”

Although generally, Shi Qingxuan tried to defend him, He Xuan wasn’t used to the Wind Master doing it with such force in front of his brother. It was a welcoming change that He Xuan ignored its origin but was enjoying behind his façade of indifference. 

His revenge plan needed some modifications, but Shi Wudu’s frustration and hints of desperation for not being able to convince his brother to come with him felt like a small victory.

The whole day had been a disaster followed by another disaster. Still, it wasn’t a full defeat because, in the end, Shi Qingxuan didn’t let He Xuan’s hand despite Shi Wudu’s insistence.

 


 

A huge smile broke out on Luo Binghe's face while Liu Mingyan filled pages and pages of her scroll. His grin was brilliant and clean and reached his eyes, black with a hint of red. The gods had encircled him with questions and curiosity. Liu Mingyan was the one who talked the most, but the others didn’t stop either. Luo Binghe met their suspicion with warm frankness until bit by bit he eroded their mistrust. 

Luo Binghe acted as if he was another god like the ones who surrounded him. His manners were perfect and he apologized for the misunderstanding and the kidnapping. Shi Qingxuan also laughed as he downplayed the confusion.

The three calamities, the ghost of a blind girl, and two gods looked at them somewhat apart.

Green Leaves, is Luo Binghe really your disciple? Hua Cheng said, mocking, in their communication array. He doesn't look anything like you. He is much nicer and lovely.

The calamities heard Shen Qingqiu’s hiss.

Don't make the mistake of trusting him. He warned them. Maybe he looks like a white lotus, but he is a black sheep. His beautiful smiles have conquered palaces and his hands are as bloodstained as yours, Crimson Rain. You should prevent those stupid gods from being fooled by him.

Hua Cheng nodded to himself, lost in his thoughts.

One has already been fooled, He Xuan muttered angrily.

Since his work there was done, Hua Cheng took Xie Lian by the hand to leave the coffin house. When he considered that they were already far away, his gaze fell into the god’s eyes.

“Gege, don’t trust Luo Binghe. He is dangerous.”

“I had already realized it.” Xie Lian looked back one last time, thoughtful and concerned. “He is the one who murdered Green Leaves, right? What happened?”

“I don’t know.”

Hua Cheng hated ignorance. He boasted of knowing almost everything. His silver butterflies could go anywhere and he had witnessed a lot of historical events in the last centuries. Hua Cheng knew the hidden plans of Black Water and the corruption of Gray Flute, he watched the fall of Yin Yu and discovered almost all the dirty secrets of the gods. But for all those years, he had never managed to extract the truth from Shen Qingqiu.

“Green Leaves doesn’t like to talk about that subject,” he admitted. “I know he lived in a tumultuous period. One of the most important sects in the country sank down, there were famines, drought, and various plagues. During all that chaos, neither gods nor ghosts paid any attention to some irrelevant cultivator.” Hua Cheng clicked his tongue, annoyed for making that mistake. “Even though alive he was quite infamous. I heard that his personality was just as horrible as now. Then, I guess he died. Legends say that Luo Binghe dismembered him.” He shrugged. “The only certainty is that Green Leaves came out of Mount Tong'Lu as a calamity with a predilection for butchering arms and legs.”

They walked until they reached the limits of the broken barrier. Hua Cheng gazed at the scraps of spirit energy with an annoying grin.

“You have noticed it too, right?” Xie Lian muttered. “It was a very powerful barrier. On the way to BanYue, you managed to maintain your appearance despite...”. He cleared his throat, embarrassed. “Despite Fu Yao and Nan Feng's tricks. However, this barrier has dissipated your powers momentarily.”

Hua Cheng nodded.

“I bet Luo Binghe's intentions were to weaken Green Leaves here.” He narrowed his eye. “Gege, this area is full of resentful energy. However, the barrier is so powerful because it relies on incredibly mighty powers.”

Xie Lian put a hand to his chin as he pondered.

“From what you have told me, I will understand that the fall of Green Leaves happened four hundred years ago.”

“I… I haven't said anything about how long ago it was.”

“Well, I’ve recognized the period thanks to your description. I was there picking up trash.” Xie Lien smiled with that calmness that always filled Hua Cheng with sadness. “If Luo Binghe is really Green Leaves murder, he must be over four hundred years old, although he appears to be twenty. Even though he looks quite alive, apparently there was no difference between him and the heavenly officers. But he is not a god, neither human, so...”

“He looks like a calamity,” Hua Cheng completed.

Chapter Text

Xue Yang was playing with a knife as he watched from afar Luo Binghe's meeting with the gods. He narrowed his eyes while recognizing the ghost of a blind girl. She!? , he thought, feeling something dark and ominous inside his chest. What is she doing here? Who are her companions?

The ghost girl was between two men, one dressed in white and another in black and gray. The white-clothed men reminded him of another person, one that Xue Yang had tried to forget in the past ten years. And yet, that lying girl was at the scene of Xue Yang's worst mistake. It was a bad idea to show this place to Luo Binghe , he thought, gritting his teeth. But the old coffin house had enough resentful energy to sustain the spell that would have allowed Luo Binghe to catch a calamity.

When the crowd dispersed and everyone resumed their ways, Luo Binghe returned with Xue Yang.

“That was reckless”, Xue Yang scolded him, pointing his knife at him.

“On the contrary, it was quite an enlightening meeting.” Luo Binghe's smile was wide and bright, but Xue Yang understood him well enough to know that his heart was hopelessly darkened. “After all, my goal is to become the emperor of the gods. It's normal that I want to meet my future people.”

“Or victims.” Xue Yang had never been an optimistic person. “You will probably have to kill most of them. Many will oppose you.”

Luo Binghe's smile didn’t flick as he shrugged.

“I know.”

Xue Yang put the knife away when Luo Binghe started moving. The two walked together to the entrance of the coffin house. The resentful energy was so intense that it even smothered the spiritual echo of the gods. Xue Yang thought again of the blind girl and the god clothed in white. Then, in that other god dressed in white, in that same house, with the same girl and another young man dressed in black.

Luo Binghe sighed. “I thought I had caught shizun”, he lamented. “I wish I had him before I assault the Heavens.”

Xue Yang didn't care about Luo Binghe's obsession. His ally had told him that he wanted Shen Qingqiu's knowledge and skills as a strategist, that Shen Qingqiu hated the gods who abandoned him when he was human, but Xue Yang suspected there was something more to his desperate search for a ghost.

“You know?” Xue Yang licked his lips. “We could look in the Rain Master’s lands. She is a strange goddess who cares for mortals, gods, or ghosts who seek refuge. Maybe she knows something.”

Luo Binghe smirked before drawing a dark sword.

 


 

After eight hundred years of exile, Xie Lian didn’t get used to wandering through the Heavens again. A lot of strangers walked the streets, although that didn't matter to him. He liked some anonymity if that meant that no one remembered the mistakes he made being the crown prince. However, he would like to recognize the names and faces of the people around him, what stories they were hiding. During the incident with Luo Binghe, Xie Lian understood his own ignorance.

Eight hundred years of exile didn’t justify his detachment from the world.

When he entered Ling Wen's palace, several gods turned to him. Xie Lian almost bumped into Shang Qinghua, who gave him a strange look (too fearful), before running away.

Xie Lian was walking through the corridors when Yue Qingyuan came out to meet him with a scroll in hand.

"Your Highness," he greeted him with a warm and friendly smile. "Ling Wen is reunited with Jun Wu, I don't think you can see her today."

“It’s okay.” Xie Lian returned his smile. "I was looking for you."

“Oh.” Yue Qingyuan blinked, visibly surprised. Although his smile didn’t tremble, his nervousness was evident. "How can I help his Highness?"

“I hope to not bother you.” Xie Lian raised his hands in a small bow. "I am concerned about what happened to the Wind Master and I was wondering if you could answer me some questions about Luo Binghe."

Yue Qingyuan was still smiling as he gestured to follow him. The two of them left Ling Wen's palace and crossed the streets in silence. Xie Lian gazed at him curiously, wondering how a man with the plant of a warrior had become a literature god. Yue Qingyuan led him to a lonely park, decorated with bamboo.

“Here,” he said. “Nobody won’t disturb us. Tell me, your Highness, what do you want to ask me?”

Xie Lian had many questions on the tip of his tongue, from why Yue Qingyuan came down from the Heavens upon hearing that news (he was the only one whose motives he didn’t know) to why he had clearly led him to a place to have a secret conversation. However, Xie Lian knew that everyone kept secrets and he would never bother anyone with awkward questions when he was also hiding a dirty past.

“It’s about Luo Binghe,” he started. “Until yesterday, I had heard that it was a legend related to Green Leaves. But he turned out to be real.” Xie Lian sighed. "Is it the same Luo Binghe from the legend? Is someone different with the same name? Furthermore, I heard that you met Green Leaves in the past and I was wondering if you also met Luo Binghe.”

Xie Lian gazed at Yue Qingyuan. To his surprise, the god smiled with old sadness corrupted by centuries, which was reflected in his expression and posture.

“Yes,” he nodded and closed his eyes for a few seconds. "But I should tell you about Shen Qingqiu first since Luo Binghe is a minor character in his story. Tell me, Your Highness, have you heard about Cang Qiong Mountain Sect?"

“Barely and a long time ago, sorry.”

“It’s alright. Cang Qiong Mountain Sect was one of the most important sects four hundred years ago, alongside the Huan Hua Palace,” Yue Qingyuan's eyes flashed longingly as he spoke. “I was the sect head  in my mortal life. To have a better understanding, I have to tell you about the sect first. It was divided into twelve peaks, each one dominated by a Peak Lord master of his discipline: strategy, fighting, medicine... Shen Qingqiu was the Peak Lord of Qing Jing Peak, the peak of the four arts. Luo Binghe was his disciple.” Yue Qingyuan walked, followed by Xie Lian, to a bench to sit on. “Cang Qiong Sect's Peak Lords were generational. We all took our title at the same time and would rule for years until our ascension. However, our generation ended abruptly when Liu Qingge ascended too early.”

Xie Lian frowned upon recognizing that familiar name.

"The War God?"

“Mn. Liu Qingge and Shen Qingqiu were famous rivals. During their seclusion, Liu Qingge ascended to the heavens and Shen Qingqiu returned to us bloody and with evidence that the two of them had been fighting." Yue Qingyuan took a deep breath, his fists clenched on his knees. "A rumor emerged that he had tried to assassinate Liu Qingge to prevent his ascension. That rumor turned into a story, you may have heard it. Shen Qingqiu was infamous for his strict and unfriendly personality. The other cultivators took this opportunity to attack him. Although he managed to defend himself, suspicion marked him forever. And it was just the first of many accusations against him."

Xie Lian nodded as he recalled the play he saw during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

“Liu Qingge's ascension was too sudden and we all began to ascend as well. Cang Qiong Sect was going to run out of Peak Lords too quickly and our head disciples were unprepared, so we made the decision to bring in our successors as junior officers to further instruct them. So Qi Qingqi took Liu Mingyan, now famous for her... literature." Yue Qingyuan paused and said nothing for a few seconds. When he spoke again, his voice was hoarse. "Shen Qingqiu asked me to take his favourite disciple: Ning Yingying."

“Why?”

“I don’t know, but I couldn't refuse. Over the next few years, we all ascended. And Shen Qingqiu was left alone in Cang Qiong Sect.” Yue Qingyuan looked at Xie Lian with a mixture of admiration and envy. “In Heaven, we discovered the truth about Liu Qingge's ascension: he was dying. He suffered a fatal qi deviation and only Shen Qingqiu's intervention allowed him to survive the minutes required to ascend. But you also know the rules: the gods cannot intervene with our past lives or in the affairs of mortals. That truth stayed with us as infamies and lies grew in the Human Realm.” His voice trembled, his shoulders tensed. And Xie Lian recognized a pang of painful guilt. “In Heaven time passes differently. Mortal lives become brief and irrelevant. Years go by in the blink of an eye and the whole world changes. The next thing that happened was... chaotic. Even now I don't understand what really happened.” Yue Qingyuan paused for a second. “It's time to tell you about Luo Binghe.”

Xie Lian straightened up, unable to hide his curiosity, although his thoughts were no longer just revolving around Luo Binghe, also around Shen Qingqiu or Green Leaves, and the time he visited his secret peak with San Lang.

“Although each peak had its own rules and we lived separately, Luo Binghe was famous for his talent. It’s also said that Shen Qingqiu hated him. I don't know to what extent it is true, but whenever I visited Qing Jing Peak, Shen Qingqiu was always angry about something Luo Binghe had done.” Yue Qingyuan shook his head, regretfully. “Luo Binghe was… a unique young man. He was beloved by his deceased mother and he had a magnetic personality. Luo Binghe wasn’t interested in imperial power or wealth, but in saving the world. He was caring and compassionate and focused only on his cultivation. When he was young, a little story was widespread: the time when he defeated a ghost. We all believed that when he turned seventeen he would surely ascend, that was his talent. The only one who always got angry hearing those comments was his shizun, Shen Qingqiu.”

“Did that happen before or after your ascension?”

“Before. During our ascension, several crises affected the country. By the time eleven of the Peak Lords had already gained immortality, Shen Qingqiu faced various famines and plagues alone, droughts, and bands of bandits plundering the villages. It was a chaotic time and we forgot about our sect to answer the prayers of our believers. Time passed and when Luo Binghe was around seventeen... he betrayed his teacher.” 

Xie Lian once again recognized the pain in Yue Qingyuan's voice, in his eyes, but there was more: a pang of guilt that had slowly devoured his heart.

“You know, Your Highness? I admired you very much when I heard your story.”

Xie Lian closed his eyes, trying to ignore all the mistakes he made being young.

“I also regret some of my decisions.”

“And I wish I had been there or, at least, I had been more aware of what was happening. All the rumors about Shen Qingqiu, some true and some false, grew into his condemnation. He was charged with numerous crimes by his own disciple and other cultivators. With the fall of Shen Qingqiu, Cang Qiong Mountain Sect lost all its power and Huan Hua Palace became the most powerful sect. The country recovered again, the rain returned, plagues and bandits were eradicated. In that state of peace, Mount Tong’Lu woke up.”

Xie Lian’s eyes widened.

“To our surprise, Shen Qingqiu emerged that century from Mount Tong'Lu as a calamity. Before, he had disappeared. It was rumored that he had been imprisoned, but no one knew anything about how he... died.” Yue Qingyuan's voice broke like a sword. “He returned and dismembered almost all of the Huan Hua Palace’s cultivators. It was a massacre in which he ripped off arms and legs. Later, he disappeared, although we still occasionally find corpses with his particular signature. In the end, Huan Hua Palace and Cang Qiong Mountain Sect were forgotten, we never heard from Luo Binghe again and Shen Qingqiu was the only Peak Lord of the last generation who didn’t ascend and, instead, turned into a ghost.”

The silence grew when the god finished speaking. And for a few seconds, neither of them said anything, both lost in their thoughts and memories.

“Thanks for telling me,” Xie Lian tried to draw a comforting smile. “I know it has been very hard for you. I really appreciate this.”

He rose to bow, but Yue Qingyuan stopped him with a gesture.

“It’s nothing. I have been trying for years to understand what happened and trying to clear his name, but in Heaven there are gossips worse than mortals and rumors grow wickedly.”

“Can I ask you another question? The last one.”

“Go ahead.”

“Did you recognize Luo Binghe yesterday?”

Yue Qingyuan nodded.

“It was him. His features are unmistakable.”

“Do you think he is… a calamity?”

Yue Qingyuan gazed at the scroll he had been reading before Xie Lian bothered him.

“In our records, Mount Tong’Lu has only woken up four times. All four coincide with the birth of the Ghost Kings Crimson Rain Sought Flower, Black Water Sinking Ships, Green Leaves Dismember Limbs, and Gray Flute Sing Curses. We still don't understand why, but Mount Tong’Lu seems to make the difference between calamities and normal ghosts, hence some like Qi Rong have never reached this level.” Yue Gingyuan's sad eyes searched Xie Lian's. “Honestly? I’m not sure. But if he's a calamity without going through the hell of Tong'Lu, that means he's currently more powerful than the rest of the Ghost Kings.”

Xie Lian gulped and thanked the god again. Although he had more questions, he considered that he had already bothered him too much and said goodbye to him. Xie Lian left but Yue Qingyuan remained seated on the bench, his back sagging from the weight of his memories.

“Your Highness?” He called out to him when Xie Lian was already walking away. “You are friends with Crimson Rain, right? Can I ask you a favor?” Xie Lian nodded. “If you ever see Shen Qingqiu, tell him I'm sorry.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll do it.”

Xie Lian walked thinking about the story of Shen Qingqiu and Luo Binghe, of the calamity that was hiding and his disciple surely more powerful than him. After stopping, Xie Lian closed his eyes. And he evoked in his memories the story that Yue Qingyuan had told him. After eight hundred years wandering the world, Xie Lian had lived too long and many events were forgotten. But Yue Qingyuan's words helped him to remember.

And he remembered that four hundred years ago he met an optimistic and talented young man who was helping in the towns where he collected garbage. Xie Lian was always at the center of the disaster and that is why right now it wasn’t surprising to find out that he met Luo Binghe long ago.

“Luo Binghe,” he muttered, remembering his bright smile despite the horrors of hunger and plagues. “What happened to you?”

Chapter Text

There was almost an ethereal tranquility in the lands of the Rain Master. It was a piece of peace unrelated to the convulsions of the world. The air was clear of the nauseating odor of war and a huge ox crawled languidly through the pastures.

Xue Yang, hiding under the shade of a tree, knew that this wasn’t his place. His entire body trembled, urging him to flee away. Although Yushi also accepted ghosts and fallen gods, there was no place for someone as irredeemable as him. Xue Yang closed his eyes. Still, something inside him relaxed thanks to that environment. Luo Binghe was wrong to yearn for Heaven, the true paradise was in the Human Realm.

A chill went through his spine. When Xue Yang opened his eyes, he recognized that unmistakable white-clothed figure from afar. Something inside him twisted. Xiao Xingchen was alive. After ten years, Xiao Xingchen was alive and walking alongside another god. Although Xue Yang suspected that not even a wound like that could destroy a fallen god, he felt relief. And guilt. And too many toxic and suffocating emotions, which he preferred to ignore or try to tear off with a knife.

An immense dark shadow covered him. Xue Yang languidly turned his head to look at Luo Binghe.

“He is not here,” he grumbled. Luo Binghe should be used to his failures by now, even so, he reacted like a spoiled child.

Xue Yang stretched like a cat. He had never believed that they would find Green Leaves there, it had been just an excuse to check Xiao Xingchen's status. However, Xue Yang hoped that Luo Binghe would be distracted by Yushi's beauty. Frustrated, he clicked his tongue before joining his partner. Aren't you supposed to be a romantic conqueror? He growled to himself.

Well, Xue Yang had already confirmed that Xiao Xingchen was awake, so nothing was holding him in that place anymore.

“Now what?” He asked him. “Are you going to keep looking for him? He is now a Ghost King. As powerful as you are, he has enough skill to hide even from you.”

A dangerous shadow covered Luo Binghe's beautiful features.

“What do you recommend?”

“He won't be able to hide forever. Now he knows that you are looking for him, so you need to wait until his confidence betrays him. Then, you can weaken his defenses. Or set a trap that forces him to leave his hideout.” Xue Yang drew a malicious grin. “Hasn't there been some strange rumors lately between him and one of those little gods? Maybe Green Leaves will appear when you attack Heaven.”

Although Luo Binghe nodded, Xue Yang wasn’t fooled: in the end, he always did whatever he wanted. It was okay. He used to be lost and Luo Binghe had offered him a purpose. The only thing that irritated him was his continual distractions instead of starting the slaughter. Xue Yang dreamed of dyeing the palaces of Heaven with the red of blood.

“They already know that you are here,” he started, unable to remain silent as Luo Binghe drew his dark sword. “When will you start?”

“Not yet.” Luo Binghe tore through reality, drawing a portal in midair. “I know you're impatient, but let's wait a little longer. Our little spy has informed me that there is a mishap in our plans.”

Xue Yang frowned and silently followed Luo Binghe towards hell.

 


 

Despite the lack of faith of some grumpy ghosts, Shi Qingxuan’s rescue had been an absolute success. Wei Wuxian wished that understanding what A-Qing was trying to tell them was equally easy.

After hitting all the corners with her bamboo stick and opening each of the coffins with Lan Zhan’s help, the ghost had sat at the entrance of the house, her head bowed and hugging her knees. Perhaps it was because Wei Wuxian was also dead, but he could feel her sadness with the intensity of a heartbeat. He forced an artificial sigh before squatting next to her.

“Are you ok?” As always, A-Qing didn’t reply. Wei Wuxian was already used to being the one who spoke for his two companions. “Is this related to the person you are looking for? It's the first time I've seen you so upset.”

She sank her nails into her clothes before nodding. Wei Wuxian frowned, though her reaction hadn't surprised him. When he got up, he looked for Lan Wangji. His partner had come out and was staring at the moon thoughtfully. Everyone else had already left, only they had stayed at A-Qing's insistence.

“Do you feel it too?”

“Mn.”

“There is something strange about this coffin house.” Wei Wuxian placed his hands on his waist while surveying the landscape with narrowed eyes. “I also thought about it when we arrived at this town. There is too much resentful energy, didn’t we hear on the street that something happened ten years ago?”

“Mn.”

Wei Wuxian turned around upon hearing the characteristic tinkle that accompanied A-Qing's footsteps. The ghost walked with determination and her features darkened with fury. She began to swing her stick, tracing those signs that only Lan Wangji seemed to understand. The god frowned as she spoke and he listened to her.

“She says that she lived here with two other people. A god dressed in white. Blind. And an evil man in black.”

“A god? Is it someone you know, Lan Zhan?”

He denied with his head. “Her descriptions are imprecise. But… Although she doesn't know it either, I suspect he's a fallen god.”

“Oh!” Wei Wuxian's eyes lit up. Over the past few weeks, they had been involved in so many incidents that they had been unable to help A-Qing with the searching. And she hadn’t been clear explaining herself either. Despite her determination, the ghost's injuries complicated her communication.

And she also seemed to be hiding more than they had guessed. For example, that was the first time A-Qing recognized that she was looking for a god. Strange, he thought. But after what they had discovered, he wasn’t surprised by her misgivings. A-Qing had gone through a traumatic experience that had made her suspicious.

“Well.” Wei Wuxian clapped his hands, excited. His grin was so bright that it was competing with all the stars. “There aren’t many fallen gods. Maybe I know where to look. A-Qing, do you want to go back to Ghost City? Perhaps we will find your god in Hua Cheng's palace.”

The ghost gave a fine smile, trembling like candlelight. Wei Wuxian recognized it: it was the smile of someone afraid that their hopes would be shattered.

“Let's go! I promise I will find your friend.”

“And we will solve the mystery of our little friend ,” Lan Wangji reminded him.

Wei Wuxian laughed. Perhaps he had forgotten. After two hundred years wandering like the echo of a song, there were now too many unsolved mysteries. It made him so happy that his lungs swelled as if he was still alive. Wei Wuxian started to walk when the noise of A-Qing's bamboo stick stopped him.

“She also says that Luo Binghe can’t be trusted,” Lan Wangji explained. “She says something horrible happened here. If Luo Binghe knows it, perhaps he is friends with that bad man. She says that we must be careful.”

 


 

Shen Qingqiu had his back to the door when Ban Yue entered the bamboo house. He nodded without turning to her. Ban Yue's footsteps were discreet and almost silent, she glided on the ground like the breeze.

“Sit.”

Shen Qingqiu placed two teacups on the table. Although she didn't need to eat or feel thirsty, she accepted the cup with her pale hands. The ghost looked curiously at Shen Qingqiu. Ever since she'd known him, the calamity had always been grumpy and unfriendly, sometimes condescending or malevolent. That was the first time she saw him worried. Despite his abilities with which he created the illusion of a living body, Shen Qingqiu was too pale and his breathing was almost inappreciable.

“Tell me what you have seen.” He demanded, though his voice was an anxious whisper. “Tell me everything about Luo Binghe.”

Ban Yue captured her memories in a short story. When she finished, Shen Qingqiu had frowned and was drumming his fingers on the table. Ban Yue felt fear creep up his guts like an icy snake. What could obscure the gaze of a Ghost King?

Under the table, Shen Qingqiu's cat listened too carefully to every word.

“Master?” She muttered.

But Shen Qingqiu ignored her. He got up and left the room lost in his thoughts.

 


 

Liu Mingyan hadn’t been completely honest when she said she had gone to the rescue mission to cover Ling Wen’s work. She hadn’t lied either, just omitted part of the truth. The reality was that her motivation wasn’t… so pure. She only knew Luo Binghe for a day and a half, but she already had a dozen ideas for her next novels.

Sighing, Liu Mingyan finished writing the last concept. She was afraid of forgetting some of her ideas thus, the first thing she had done after reporting to Ling Wen, was writing EVERYTHING.

I’ll be busy for a while , she thought, conflicted. Her public was always eager to read her latest works, but she didn’t know how they would receive Luo Binghe. Although she had the feeling that they wouldn’t be indifferent, it could easily be a success or a disaster.

However, the reaction of her readers wasn’t her main source of uncertainty but the lack of truthful information she had about Luo Binghe. She wanted to know more about him, however, the excess of rumors was an obstacle more than a help.

Luckily, she had discovered that there was a person who had met him in the past and, as a bonus, was also one of Liu Mingyan’s closest friends.

Liu Mingyan left her palace with an objective in mind and a scroll under her arm. Ning Yingying was a peaceful person who generally didn’t do anything striking. However, she always ended up in trouble because of her loud friends. Liu Mingyan didn’t need to find Ning Yingying but Lan Jingyi or Jin Ling. Maybe both.

Jin Ling’s complaints and Lan Jingyi’s retorts were as noisy as always. Liu Mingyan heard them before she could even discern their figures. To her surprise, the wind also carried Jiang Cheng’s angry voice.

The main square of the Heavenly Capital was spacious, but most gods made an effort to go as far as they could of Jiang Cheng’s way. The Thunder Master walked with wide steps, so the four junior officials behind him were almost running to keep up.

It was funny and a bit cute seeing the fearsome Jiang Cheng leading a group of juniors who followed him like ducklings. There were even two dogs closing the march. Obviously, one was Fairy, but the other was unknown.

Liu Mingyan frowned. Somehow, that dog was oddly familiar...

Chapter Text

The solution to the mystery came like the synopsis of one of her novels. Literally.

Liu Mingyan, who had been chatting with Ning Yingying and listening to anecdotes of her childhood revolving around Luo Binghe, stopped on her tracks. One of her friend’s comments had lit an idea in her mind. She didn’t even know exactly what she said, only that it made her remember one of her own books. A book when Mu Qing was turned into an adorable but angry cat, and Feng Xin into a brute and loving dog.

Jiang Cheng’s new dogs looked suspiciously familiar to Feng Xin. And she knew it because the animal completely fit the description she wrote.

She turned around ignoring her friend’s questions to have a better look at the dog. 

“Feng Xin?” She asked, not quite sure.

The dog started barking and shaking his tail. It seemed as if he was making a great effort to nod.

“Feng Xin is Jiang Cheng’s dog…” She understood. “Feng Xin is Jiang Cheng’s dog!!"

And that was a juicy idea for a new story.

“Ning Yingying, take that dog to Jun Wu now!” 

“What? Where are you going? What’s going on?”

But Liu Mingyan was barely listening anymore. “I can’t ignore the inspiration’s call,” she explained, starting to run in the opposite direction.

Behind her, the dog howled with indignation.

 


 

First, it had been the stupid votation that Hua Cheng forced. Then, all the calamities’ attempts to ruin his plans. And, lately but not for that less important, Luo Binghe kidnapping Shi Qingxuan.

It was as if everything was against him. And the fact that He Xuan was used to that feeling didn’t help at all. He was furious, frustrated, and… a bit relieved. He refused to acknowledge that a small part of him, almost nonexistent, was glad of keeping the farce a bit longer. His existence as Ming Yi that allowed him to spy on Heavens wasn’t completely bad. Neither being Shi Qingxuan’s best friend. Not that it really mattered anymore.

Despite everybody’s (including the damn Luo Binghe) efforts of stopping his revenge, He Xuan had waited for too long and had learned how to adapt to the circumstances. Maybe his initial plan had sunk down, but it wasn’t even the first he had over the last few years. And, although he had changed Shi Qingxuan’s implication, what hadn’t changed was that today was Shi Wudu’s Heavenly Calamity. The day when the Water Tyrant was going to die.

He Xuan had everything ready. The other calamities were busy with the return of Luo Binghe, a dismembered corpse, or how handsome the crown prince was. They were all distracted, so they couldn’t intervene again. It was the perfect opportunity and He Xuan only had to do one thing first before going to the sea, to the mortal trap he had prepared for Shi Wudu.

After visiting so many times, the doors of the Wind Palace were always opened for Ming Yi . He Xuan entered as if it was his own palace, lost in his thoughts and possibilities. The clones he had infiltrated inside the palace had already informed that Shi Qingxuan was there. However, He Xuan wanted to check in person that the Wind Master wasn’t going anywhere.

Of course, since anything could go in his favor, when he entered Shi Qingxuan’s chamber, he found her ready to leave.

“Ming-Xiong!” She exclaimed. Her eyes lit up like every time she saw her best friend . “Have you come to visit me?”

“No,” he lied. “I’m looking for a scroll I can’t find.”

“Oh! That’s so bad. Don’t worry, I’ll help you!”

Since they were searching for something that wasn’t there, He Xuan paid more attention to Shi Qingxuan than the room. Considering that today was Shi Wudu’s Heavenly Calamity, she was strangely relaxed. With the return of the Reverend of Empty Words, Shi Qingxuan had been terrified. However, when the days passed and He Xuan didn’t release that monster again, she suddenly stopped worrying. If he didn’t know her better, he would think that she wasn’t afraid anymore or had forgotten she was in danger. But He Xuan knew her very well and didn’t miss that sometimes her smiles were forced and she seemed to be more vigilant from her surroundings.

The most obvious explanation was that Shi Qingxuan continued terrified but thought that pretending to not be afraid would save her from the Reverend of Empty Words’ curses. And that included acting normal on the day of his brother’s Heavenly Calamity. However, that explanation didn’t justify why Shi Qingxuan seemed nervous in a different way. Not because of fear but the anticipation of something. 

He Xuan narrowed his eyes, suspiciously noting that Shi Qingxuan was very well dressed. Not that she usually didn’t dress well, but today’s outfit was a bit different. The Ghost King shivered when the realization hit him. He recognized Shi Qingxuan’s symptoms: the faint blush on her cheeks, her nervousness, the dopey smile, her clothes… Shi Qingxuan was attracted to someone.

Shi Qingxuan’s affection was like the wind: it was everywhere but you couldn't grab it. There had been gods who tried to capture her affection to lock it inside a golden cage. However, they always failed because no one could catch the wind.

“Where are you going?” He asked, feigning indifference as he stopped in front of her, attentive to Shi Qingxuan’s body language.

“That’s actually a funny story,” she laughed. And it sounded natural, unlike some forced laughs he recently heard. “Luo Binghe mistook this morning Nie Huaisang as he did with me, so now they are having a tea together and they had invited me.”

That wasn’t a funny story. It was a terror story.

“He kidnapped someone again?”

“Ming-Xiong! Don’t exaggerate. That wasn’t a kidnapping, just a misunderstanding.”

“He had kidnapped two gods in a week,” he growled. It was becoming harder and harder to maintain an annoyed expression instead of a furious one.

She waved her hand downplaying the serious matter. “He’s just lonely...”

“Don’t justify him, Shi Qingxuan.” He Xuan stepped closer, making Shi Qingxuan stop so she could look at him. “He could be more dangerous than you think.”

Although his concern was honest, Shi Qingxuan’s smile didn’t waver. “But he’s super nice and attentive!” And there it was again, the damn blush on her cheeks. “If you give him a chance, you’ll discover he’s a very good person. Trust me!” Said the person whose lovely brother was a murderer and her best friend a revengeful Ghost King. He Xuan would trust the intuition of a kid more than Shi Qingxuan’s.

I hate Lou Binghe , he growled into the communication array.

 Shen Qingqiu didn’t surprise him with his answer. Me too.

Although He Xuan made a few more efforts to convince Shi Qingxuan that she couldn’t trust Luo Binghe, the more he insisted, the more stubborn she became. Some minutes later, the Ghost King was forced to accept that it was a lost cause.

Shi Qingxuan’s affection lasted weeks, on some rare occasions months. It was brief, a blink in the life of a god. However, He Xuan feared that someday her affection would bloom into love. And, even though he was always disgusted with that possibility, he couldn’t allow it to happen with Luo Binghe, the only monster that a monster like Shen Qingqiu feared.

“Alright,” he muttered through his gritted teeth. “We can look for my scroll later. I’ll go with you.”

“Really? Will you give him a chance? I’m sure we all can be friends!!”

I’m sure we won’t , he thought.

Once again, He Xuan found himself postponing his revenge.

 


 

Liu Qingge was training in his palace when Quan Yizhen appeared with his characteristic brusqueness. Perhaps the door was left hanging on its hinges because the god still didn’t know how to control his strength or perhaps because of Liu Qingge's continued mistreatment.

“I have news!” He ran towards Liu Qingge just like an excited little dog. If he had a tail, he would be shaking it just like Liu Qingge was swinging his sword. “I heard that Nie Huaisang has kidnapped your shixiong!”

“WHAT?”

“Or was it the other way around? With Luo Binghe? The gods were talking about another kidnapping.”

Liu Qingge appreciated his friend and that's why he knew that Quan Yizhen had an innate talent for fighting... and that was all. The two were very alike: Liu Qingge wasn't good at socializing or listening to rumors either, he didn't even understand his own feelings. For that reason, Liu Qingge feels so comfortable together with Quan Yizhen. Both understand each other and neither understands the rest of the world.

After the umpteenth misunderstanding with Shi Qingxuan, Liu Qingge didn't want to be wrong again, but the possibility that Shen Qingqiu was in danger made him feel... strange. Worried in a way he didn't understand. His shixiong was lazy and weak, but the current Shen Qingqiu was a Ghost King. Worrying was absurd, and even so, Liu Qingge felt uneasy.

“What about yours?”

Quan Yizhen finally had a lead to find Yin Yu, but he was putting it off to help him. He was that kind of person: too good, honest, and outspoken, although many laughed at him behind his back (Liu Qingge then beat them until Jun Wu punished him).

“Don’t worry! I know where to find shixiong, but your shixiong may be in danger. I'll help you and then we'll go to Ghost City together.”

Liu Qingge nodded. Although he would confirm those rumors first... before acting.

 


 

Being a person again was strange after so many days as a dog. Feng Xin had never stopped being himself, but his thoughts had been focused differently, his priorities hadn't been the same either. Even he had forgotten about Mu Qing as he used to accompany Jiang Cheng.

“We have to rescue Mu Qing!” He screamed, forgetting to thank Jun Wu for breaking Hua Cheng's curse. “He has been kidnapped by Green Leaves!”

Sitting on his throne, Jun Wu's serene smile darkened. His two main confidants Ling Wen and Jin Guangyao exchanged a worried look. There was no one else in the palace. This was a vital meeting, after all, a Ghost King had kidnapped one of the main gods ... after being turned into a cat by another Ghost King. Feng Xin considered that to be the reason to go to war. Not by Mu Qing, of course. Mu Qing didn’t deserve even a plate of milk, but for the audacity of both calamities.

(Perhaps a Mu Qing more kindly and tenderly like in his cat form did deserve a plate of milk).

Ling Wen frowned. Although she was always tired, she seemed even more stressed than usual as she rubbed her forehead.

“My palace has been tracking Green Leaves at the request of the War God and Yue Qingyuan for centuries. And we have no clue of his hiding lair.” She sighed. “Finding General Xuan Zhen will be difficult.”

“Hmmm...” Jin Guangyao grinned, drawing dimples on his cheeks. “Why don't we approach the problem differently? Green Leaves is the most elusive calamity. Thanks to his ostentatious personality, we have Crimson Rain in check. Black Water is discrete but we have located his fortress in the ocean. Gray Flutes is the only one without a refuge, but he is so outrageous that it's easy to track him down. If we play our cards, this can be a unique opportunity.”

Feng Xin frowned. There was something crooked in Jin Guangyao’s expression, usually friendly and warm.

“I don’t understand you.”

“Easy: Mu Qing may be the key to discovering the secret place of Green Leaves.”