Angst πŸ”ͺ

JC is finally done with all the core stuff. Just done with it. Everything about it. So he finds a way it hack it out of himself and give it back to WWX.

He is core less, no longer a cultivator : just a standard, common man.
He resigns as the sect leader and decides to live out his remaining days in the outskirts of Yunmeng. He gets a puppy for company.

But losing a core also meant losing his vitality and accelerating the aging process,
and the constant core transplant and removal back and forth has finally ruined his meridians and qi, what ever is left and functioning anyways. He realises his body is deteriorating and aging at a fast pace.
By the time, JL was in the vigour of his youth and about to be wed, his jiujiu's hair was completely white, the corners of his eyes donned with crow's feet and the furrow between those eyebrows even more prominant.
His frame looks so thin, the once taut and prominent muscles all atrophied. His older robes look too big on him now.

JL had tried, insisted time and again that he would send servants, cooks, gardeners that would attend to all his jiujiu's needs but he had vehemently refused.
The first time JL was informed of his jiujiu's decision, he had been a trembling mess on the floor. No matter how much he yelled, cried & tried to make his jiujiu change his mind, it was futile.

Jiujiu hadn't even yelled back or tried to reason.
"Why do you have to do this?! Who cares about whose core it is or not?! They can all go to hell!"


"If you're fed up of sect duties, just come to Jinlintai. You can stay there without any worries. I will make sure no one hurts you again, jiujiu!"


"Answer me!"
He had resigned quietly, wiping the tears off JL's face settling down next to him.

After a heavy and thoughtful silence, JC breathe out,

"Look at you still throwing tantrums like how you used to when you were five." a weak smile coming to occupy his face.
Jin Ling HATED it when his jiujiu didn't shoot him with that familiar scowl or squabble with biting words.

"Will JingYi still want to marry you if he saw you like this?"

"He has seen me like this so many times! And it's already too late now.... Wait, don't change the topic!"
JC sighed. He knew his nephew wasn't going to stop until he got answers.

"A-Ling, I am sorry that my decision has caused you pain. But, I am doing this for me. I need to do this. This is important."

And JL wished that he didn't understand what that had meant.
It was his jiujiu's last attempt at self preservation.

To be cut off from the past and the people entwined that had always been unkind to him.

To cleanse himself of the tie that reminded him of broken promises and dismissed reconciliations.
JL allowed himself to be okay with his jiujiu's decisions only on the condition that the residence wouldn't be too far away from LP & that he could crash in whenever he wanted. The location was not revealed to the public, only few of the trusted Jiang disciples & JL knew about it
And so, JC spent the remainder of his days following a modest lifestyle. His residence is unextravagant, just enough for one person with a bedroom, a small kitchen, a guest room (very much to JL's constant badgering) and a verandah.
He had a vegetable garden that he would till and harvest, a flower patch, a tiny lotus pond. A cozy place indeed.

Little Plum (his puppy) was a really energetic one. Initially the pup would always cause havoc messing up the flower patch and
that had kept JC occupied with all the mischief the pup was stirring up. It had also helped him settle into the solitude gradually with ease

The nights were less lonely when little Plum would snuggle close to him during sleep.
His life went by rather peacefully. In the mornings he would go teach the children in the nearby orphanage how to read and write and also calligraphy. Later he would be occupied with work at home. Sometimes once in a while, JL would drop by bringing along some of his work
and stay over for a few days.

"A-Ling, if the sect leader continues to vacation like this, soon there will be trouble brewing in Jinlintai."

"Ah, jiujiu it's only for three days. Besides, everything has been taken care of."

The next time JL even brought JingYi along.
The days went by rather placidly.

JL and LJY got married. The first unofficial (and according to them the more significant one) took place at jiujiu's humble place and they had kowtowed before him.

The second one had been in the typical ostentatious Jin fashion.
JC had resigned to acceptance about whatever that had panned out in his life. There wasn't any point in seeking answers. Sometimes, things were just the way they were. The relationship between him and WWX/LWJ had turned even more awkward and sour after JC returned the core.
LWJ would probably assume that JC's actions lacked gratitude & virtue. But to hell with that, JC made the decision for himself, not to change everyone's presumptions. They had knwn about JC's seclusion but not once did WWX ask JL about it nor did they have any intention to visit
Somtimes, JC would think he was totally over it after all that's been said and done, but once in a while in the quietness of the night, the nightmares and panic attacks would suddenly come to hunt him, making him breathless, breaking him out in cold sweat
and drenching his cheeks with tears.
But lil Plum (who wasn't little anymore, almost reaching upto JC's waist now) would kiss all those tears away earnestly and wouldn't stop until JC calmed down.
cw : debilitating illness

The wheels of time are unalterable and the state of debility and feebleness gradually caught up to JC. JL noticed how his jiujiu looked more and more frail and wimpish with each visit. One day he was in the guest room scripting letters
to other sect leaders when there was a loud and uneasy yelp from Lil Plum outside.

JL had scurried outside to the garden and was horror-struck to find his jiujiu unconscious, collapsed face down into the flower patch that he was tending to and bleeding from his nose.
JL had immediately summoned the best healers and they had tried every healing technique and dispensed every herbs and potions known to the cultivation world. But he had been informed that they could at most only relieve him of his symptoms and that the end was imminent.
It could happen anytime soon. Sixty percent of his meridian channels had already snapped and it was only a matter of time until everything else shut down.

β€œSect leader Jin, it is best that you start with preparations.”
β€œWhat do you mean preparations? Do you all think that my uncle is so weak? Are you all going to give up so easily?! " JL had choked out, his face all ashened.

The healers had all responded with only a solemn bow.
" Jiujiu! "

JC finally regained consciousness after half a day.

JL had sent a missive to JingYi immediately and his concerned husband had flown in within a day. His husband would handle all the Jin sect activities temporarily because JL had been adamant to not leave
his jiujiu's side under any circumstances. Lil Plum had also refused to budge from JC's bed all day and night.

JL had bathe and dressed jiujiu, combed his white hair and fed him just the way jiujiu used to when A-Ling was a child. Such is the circle of life.
If you made it till here, thanks πŸ’•
Look forward to more tomorrow. To the ones following this fic consistently i see you and thanks.
One particular night, JL had slipped into Jiujiu's bed snuggling close to him.

"Jiujiu, tell me that story about Nyancheng and the liddol yellow duckling."

It had been JL's favourite bedtime story and no matter how many times JC narrated it,
A-Ling would always ask jiujiu to repeat the next day.

JC scoffed "Are you still a child?"Β 

"You told me that I will always be a kid in your eyes even if I turn fifty. Don't go back on your words." JL pouted.
The next night, JL asked jiujiu to hum that lullaby that JC used to sing to calm down JL whenever the child had an inconsolable fit of crying.

"You still remember that?"

"Of course I do."

"How old wer-"


JL knew the day would eventually arrive but he wasn't ready. No one is ever ready to part with loved ones. Its a fact. JC had gone to sleep and he had not risen one particular morning. Of course he was still alive and breathing but… he was slowly drifting into a comatose state.
JL made 'arrangements' when the healers said that almost all of JC's meridians were crumbling by the seconds & he would never awaken. They were closely monitoring JC's state very closely for the 'ritual' that was supposed to take place. The timing was extremely important.
The moment JC's body shut down, JL mustered every bit of his will power and mental strength to not break down, tears overflowing and biting his cheeks to save it for later and proceed with the plan.
He took out the spirit capturing bag and with murmurs of apology, delicately guided his late jiujiu's spirit inside it. He motioned to JingYi who nodded knowingly and JL without wasting any time casted 'Empathy'.
The clarity bell as his personal code and JingYi as his supervisor, they proceeded.

Much to JingYi's insistence & for the sake of JL's safety, Sect leader Lan was requested (in secrecy) to be present near at hand to pull them out of any unforeseen danger that might arise.
//lol i am so biased with Xicheng that even if it's not a Xicheng fic, doesn't mean fate doesn't allow him to atleast be by JC's side in his last moments right πŸ₯Ί//
JL's mental state was already weak and the technique itself had its risks. LXC placed protective barriers all around the place. Any form of disturbance might either disturb JC's passing on to the next life or totally mess up JL's mental state permanently.
JL had been racking up every bit of his willpower and cultivation skills for this moment. It was a test of incredible mental strength because now he was going to see and feel everything jiujiu did. And JL specifically aimed for that untold moment - the truth behind the core.
/Thats it for today folks. I know its a short update but its getting longer and longer so I had to update this first.
Thanks for giving this fic a chance. It's my first time writing something this long. /

𝐼𝑑 π‘€π‘Žπ‘  π‘ π‘œ π‘π‘Žπ‘–π‘›π‘“π‘’π‘™. 𝐸π‘₯π‘π‘Ÿπ‘’π‘π‘–π‘Žπ‘‘π‘–π‘›π‘”. πΊπ‘›π‘Žπ‘€π‘–π‘›π‘”.

Tears rolled down Jin Ling's cheeks like uncontrollable waves through an overrun broken dam throughout 'Empathy'.

His husband wiped them off attentively and couldn't help but worry at how
JL's closed eyes kept fluttering and his eyebrows kept twitching. It was as if he was experiencing the worst nightmare of his life; which was unfortunately his late jiujiu's reality.

Suddenly, JL started wheezing and choking and to Jing Yi's horror,
suddenly coughed out blood splattering the floor. He immediately pulled JL out of 'Empathy' and started checking his meridians and qi flow which were fortunately unharmed.
But his spiritual energy was so low to the point of being dry, to which JingYi promptly tried to replenish
by directing his own. LXC started playing Clarity on the guqin for safety.

They had started the ritual just as dusk began.

Jin Ling stirred and woke up a few hours after the ordeal and by then the moon was high up in the sky.
"Sect leader Jin, it is time." Lan Xichen reminded him gently.

JL kept holding on to the /Suo-ling-nang/ like a kid clutching onto his most precious belonging - which wasn't untrue. Irrational thoughts started to creep in slowly.

/spirit capturing bag/
He... He can keep jiujiu close to him forever like this, right?

Safe, right next to him. Always.

And LXC, seeing the reluctant eyes and the tightening of the fingers around the pouch, could see through the forethoughts.
"He needs to rest. He needs to be free, sect leader Jin."

JingYi put a supportive hand over his husband's shoulder. Words were not needed. Finally, Jin Ling got up half supported, and with wobbly steps stepped outside into the verandah.
Lan Xichen took his que pulled out his xiao and began playing a note into the quietness of the night.

π‘‡β„Žπ‘’ π‘ π‘œπ‘›π‘” π‘œπ‘“ π‘†π‘Žπ‘›π‘π‘‘π‘’π‘Žπ‘Ÿπ‘¦.

It was meant to ward off any evil spirits or yaos and keep Jiang Cheng's spirit compact,
and for safe assistance while crossing over to the other side.

Jin Ling kissed the Suo-ling-nang and said his prayers to Guanyin and bid his farewells.

"Please be my jiujiu in every lifetime."
Jin Ling then released the string holding the pouch closed, releasing jiujiu's spirit into the solace of the night under the gentle moonlight.
Soft tiny purple orbs floated out gently and ascended towards the moon before being dispersed completely.

One last tiny orb bumped softly on Jin Ling's forehead before it also joined in with the rest.
After that he wailed and wailed until his breathing turned into chokes and his tears ran dry, until exhaustion and sleep took over in the arms of his husband. And even Jing Yi also fell asleep alongside.

Lan Xichen took some blankets and covered them leaving them to rest.
LXC went over to where Jiang Cheng lay. He placed a talisman over his chest and directed his spiritual energy to preserve the body in its unblemished state. He had earlier noticed how weak, frail and significantly aged Jiang Wanyin had looked from a distance,
but had never directly peered out of respect.

But now, he sees clearly - thin, creased skin, silver white hair, bony cheekbones that were more prominent and angular jaws. But Jiang Wanyin looked like he was in a peaceful slumber,
no longer the familiar furrow of his eyebrows in between.

He felt a painful tug in his heart. Was it sympathy? Regret? There was so much more to this man than what others make him to be. He had noticed Jiang Wanyin now and then since the study exchange days at Cloud recesses,
their travels together during the Sunshot campaign, sect conferences here and there and he had always seen ruthless determination, unwavering strength and a fierce scowl adorning his sharp attractive features. Except that day at the Guanyin temple many years back.
He had looked so π‘“π‘Ÿπ‘Žπ‘”π‘–π‘™π‘’ π‘Žπ‘›π‘‘ β„Žπ‘’π‘Ÿπ‘‘ as he poured his heart out to his once upon a time sworn brother.

They both had been a mess that day and following.
Apparently Jiang Wanyin had also shut himself off completely after that, just like Lan Xichen did, in their own ways, forever afraid of trusting people again.
He had gathered bits and pieces of stories from Jin Ling and Jing Yi, connected the dots and came to a conclusion that while they were very much different in temperament,
the parallels in their life were too obvious to not be unnoticed. Maybe they could have bonded over those and forged a comforting friendship in each other.

π‘€π‘Žπ‘¦π‘π‘’ 𝑖𝑛 π‘Žπ‘›π‘œπ‘‘β„Žπ‘’π‘Ÿ π‘™π‘–π‘“π‘’π‘‘π‘–π‘šπ‘’.
The next morning, Jin Ling was awakened by the sound of lil Plum whimpering and trying to awaken his sleeping master.

The faithful dog kept licking and nudging at his unresponsive master's face.
Lil Plum latched his teeth softly into JC's thin bony wrist and was pulling onto it gently in a way to coax him out of bed but it dangled limply at the side of the bed.

It finally sunk in.

His jiujiu is π‘›π‘œπ‘‘ π‘”π‘œπ‘–π‘›π‘” π‘‘π‘œ π‘€π‘Žπ‘˜π‘’ 𝑒𝑝 π‘Žπ‘›π‘¦π‘šπ‘œπ‘Ÿπ‘’.
Lil Plum had just been disturbingly quiet. The poor dog seemed to be in denial . The fiercely protective dog was so hesitant to let go of his master's cold and lifeless body and had tried to viciously attack the Jiang disciples who had come to remove Jiang Cheng's body
to proceed with the last rites that they had to put a sleeping talisman on the poor dog.

So, the news was announced in Yunmeng that day - the previous sect leader Sandu Shengshou, Jiang Wanyin parted with this lifetime when the last remaining plum blossoms had shed.
In a warm sunny morning in his sleep, softly and quietly. Not being troublesome to anyone just as he wished. Only surrounded by the people who held him close to their hearts.

In some remote town, Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji sat at a table having their meals at an inn. As is usual, the customers blabbered about, indulging in town or sect related gossip and the like.
"Have you heard? The entire YunmengJiang sect is in mourning for a month, LanlingJin sect for 10 days. I had to move my trades to Qinghe."

"Yes, following the demise of its previous sect leader, Jiang Wanyin."

WWX's ears suddenly perked up at the mention of the familiar name.
"Hmm it is indeed astonishing how a cultivator did not even live to be fifty! Unmarried and also without an heir nevertheless. Tch!"

"I tell you, the entire main Jiang family seems to be cursed. All cursed to die early.
The Yiling patriarch has outlived all of them. What a pity."

"Sad indeed!"

"What a pity! What a pity!" they all chimed in together gulping down their wine.
An angry fist suddenly slammed at the table making everyone flinch and turn heads even to Lan Wangji's surprise. WWX got up and tugged roughly at the robes of the spouting man near the collar.

"What do you know of the Jiang family?!!!" he barked, eyes almost turning red.
Lan Wangji hadn't seen his husband act like this in years. The last time something similar like this had happened was when Wei Wuxian beat up Jin Zixuan for bad mouthing his shijie.
The man spluttered some apologies and nonsensicals in sheer fright and Wei Wuxian released the man.

"Lan Zhan, we leave for Yunmeng immediately."

"Mn." He nodded.
When they reached Yunmeng, it was really obvious that she was mourning the loss of her child. The air of grief wafted in the streets which were usually energetic, noisy and loud. Just the basic essential shops were open. Trades were temporarily at a halt.
It wasn't difficult finding Jiang Cheng's residence which had been turned into a shrine.

When the pair tried to enter the gates, they were vehemently denied entry by the YMJ disciples who were on guard.
It wasn't specified who could enter but apparently it had been made extremely clear that Wei Wuxian and his husband could not.

And when has WWX ever paid heed to rules or respected boundaries? Like that was going to stop him.
When dusk settled, WWX and LWJ returned. LWJ had tried to suggest that they should leave since they were not allowed but it was obvious that WWX was not going to pay heed at all.
So, LWJ just did what he had always done. Followed and supported whatever his husband did.
WWX overpowered the low ranked disciples, knocked them out as was expected and trespassed into the inner courtyards. LWJ followed close behind.

WWX wanted to 'confirm', pay his last respects and maybe disappear as soon as possible before any alarms were sounded.
He entered the hall and he could not put a finger to what he actually felt.

Was his shidi... No... Jiang Cheng really d€ad?
But it was obvious.

There was Sandu sheathed & perched upon an intricately engraved bronze support over the wooden desk.

The wooden tablet bearing his name isn't around. It makes more sense to be in the Jiang main ancestral halls.
Laid out were plates of offerings of fruits and pastries, many candles, and incense sticks over braziers still not completely burnt.

Was someone here not long ago?
Was that really Jiang Cheng's Sandu? It can't be a fake one, can it? He has to find out. He proceeded towards the table and just as he was about to touch it, a loud growl was heard from behind him.

"Wei Ying!!!"
A big furry canine, twice the size of Fairy, suddenly leaped out from nowhere towards WWX's neck. LWJ quickly darted towards his husband and shielded him, but the dog was really agile. Just as Bichen was drawn, it had latched unto LWJ's hand making him drop his weapon.
Bichen was strewn a few feet away on the ground. Was it a spiritual dog?

The dog viciously sank his fangs deeper and deeper into the flesh of LWJ's forearm with no intention of letting go.
WWX had his feet planted on the spot with terror, face all blanched at the sight of bared teeth and fangs, murderous growl and the blood of his husband dripping on the floor.

Lil Plum (which is obviously not little) had really intended to snap WWX's neck,
lunging towards him from the shadows and had LWJ not intervened, he wouldn't even have his head over his neck.

LWJ hissed with pain. With his other hand called upon Bichen making the sword fly towards the dog for a finishing move.
//Thats it for today everyone. I hope you have enjoyed today's updates.
We will see what happens to lil Plum next //
Lil Plum is basically Chow Chow breed
Our lovely Wanyin affectionately named him lil Plum coz the blue/purple tongue reminded him of plums
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