The Wen Sect contingent is approaching the Cloud Recesses, and Wen Chao has a smirk on his face that's even stupider than average for a Wen Chao facial expression.
Here he is, in the cluster of Nie disciples! He waves when he sees her.
"Hi! It should be extra-safe to go home now. Also," she adds, proffering the letter, "Lan Zhan wrote this for her relatives, we were hoping Chifeng-zun could dispatch someone to deliver it, that seems more likely to result in anyone poking their head up to accept it than if someone from the Wen sect showed up with it."
“Oh, okay! I bet Da-ge will be happy to send some people. Does she, uh... know where her relatives are exactly?”
"She's not even sure her brother's still alive. No, I don't think so."
Yikes. Da-ge’s messengers will just... look around for a while, then, he imagines.
Is that all? Huaisang is pretty excited to go be very far away from lava, as humans Ought To Be.
Yeah that's all have fun fleeing the lava.
He hightails it out of there with the Nie entourage, letter tucked safely away in his sleeves.
And Wen Ying returns to her warm soft holdable wife and reports success.
"It's really the least I can do. Once things are a little more settled and you've recovered I'm going to have a look at the sect finances to see about reparations. Not that I think money can make up for what Wen Xu did, but--I can't make it not have happened. I can do this."
What Wen Xu did can never, ever be fixed, but she loves Wen Ying very much for wanting to try.
Over the next several days in which Lan Zhan is confined to bedrest, the rest of the erstwhile hostages leave and Wen Ying occasionally has to leave their room in order to attend to sect business but she always returns to her wife as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, the Wen troops in Gusu receive notice of the change in leadership and orders to GTFO. They comply, highly nervous about what the change in leadership might mean; Wen Ruohan was at least a known evil.
It takes a week after the Wens retreat for Lans-in-hiding to begin showing their faces again, but they do. Most of those who were alive when Lan Zhan left are still alive, including all the children. There are still no sightings of Lan Xichen.
Not for lack of trying. Meng Yao was able to leverage his shiny new War Hero Wen Zhuliu-Slayer status for permission to travel to Gusu personally in search of the sect leader. He has the letter from the Wen Sect, separate sealed letters from Nie Mingjue and Lan-guniang, and very little to go on.
He tries town after town, refusing to believe that he won't find Zewu Jun soon. Meng Yao is very good at asking questions.
Zewu-jun is much better at staying hidden than one might expect.
But eventually, Meng Yao can catch hold of a lead that's plausibly Zewu-jun that actually is Zewu-jun. He's surprisingly competent at pretending to be a normal person, for someone born to the cultivator gentry, but even so anyone who knows him would recognize him as soon as they see him in person.
Meng Yao runs to him as soon as he sees him!
"Zewu-Jun! You are well!"
Lan Xichen looks around quickly to ensure that nobody heard him called that, then gently and politely but firmly drags Meng Yao away from any witnesses.
"I'm fine," he assures him. "Are you alright? What are you doing here?"
"I am better now that I know you to be well. -- I apologize for addressing you by your title, but you have no more need to be afraid. Wen Ruohan is dead and the Wen occupation of Gusu has ended." Bow. "Forgive me for alarming you."
His shoulders slump in exhausted relief. "He's dead?"
Nod. "He and both his sons have been defeated. Wen Ying claims possession of the throne." And for some reason Wen Qing seems to be allowing that, Meng Yao has no idea why.
"She succeeded, then. That's an enormous relief. Do you know anything about what has happened to my sister?"
He smiles. "She is alive, and participated in the coup. I hear that Wen Ying has now taken her as a concubine."
"I overheard much gossip from the returning disciples about them, but rumors are only rumors. Apparently Lan-guniang sleeps in Wen Ying's rooms and does not ever leave her side."