His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of the Great Song Dynasty, Son of Heaven, Lord of Ten Thousand Years, Ruler of the Central Kingdom, sits upon the Dragon Throne, ruling a land of ten thousand li in every direction, bearing the Mandate of Heaven and supported in his absolute and total rule by able and capable servants. Everything in harmony. Unlike the shirt of the under-minister for internal affairs, which had clearly not been adequately steamed, and did not quite match the flowers that had been selected for the month. It was going to be one of those days. He has not been on the throne very long, only a handful of years, and yet the acclimation to his subjects flying around on swords is something he is certain will never cease to unsettle him. As a child surviving in the harem, he had known the ultimate reward, that he would rule the court that all in ten thousand li owed obedience to. But the clans and sects of the cultivators seemed to treat that obedience as less of a divine mandate and more of a polite fiction. Thankfully they at least did not visit him at court. But the under-minister was approaching, so His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of the Great Song Dynasty, Son of Heaven, Lord of Ten Thousand Years, Ruler of the Central Kingdom reflexively corrects his posture and beckons him closer.
"As far as our reports show, Wei Wuxian seems to want nothing more than alcohol, potatoes, and the survival of the remnants of the Wen clan. But the cultivators intend to war on Wei Wuxian and would resent interference in their affairs."
"We would happily drown him in rice wine if that was what he desired." The emperor paused, to allow the court to laugh at his witticism. His consort was slow, though she laughed longest to make up for it, and she was normally so attuned to him. "If you advise that they would truly oppose such interference, even when it removed their rival, then it shall not be so, for you have served your empire ably and well, and are a learned scholar besides." He paused, savoring the moment. "To return to an earlier topic, what is the state of the relationship between Wei Wuxian and Jin Guangshan?" A touch of frost was not inappropriate: no minister should forget to answer a question asked by the Court. It gave them bad habits if they thought that they could get away with it.
The minister is having a VERY BAD DAY, okay.
"Wei Wuxian disrespected Jin Guangshan in front of the leaders of several different clans, and so Jin Guangshan is among the most fervent voices pushing for war."
"He disrespected the candidate for chief cultivator, in public, to the point where his former ally is now pushing for war. War against, effectively, one man aided by the remnants of a clan so weak it does not even have servants left to purchase alcohol and potatoes for its greatest military leader. In ordinary circumstances, even calling it a war would be laughable. What did he do? Perhaps equally important, is this a sign that the demonic cultivation is affecting his personality?"
"Your Imperial Majesty, he threatened to murder people until they told him where Wen Ning was. By all accounts, Wei Wuxian has been like this for his entire life, although I cannot imagine the demonic cultivation is... helping."
He resolves immediately to quietly suggest to the underminister that the prices of alcohol, radishes, and potatoes near the Burial Mound are to be kept safe from any price fluctuations, since that would almost certainly be substantially less expensive than emotional fluctuations from Wei Wuxian.
"Do we have any information about the child? Is it too much to hope that they will be a stabilizing influence?"
"Wei Wuxian dotes on the child, Your Imperial Majesty, although it is difficult to know how stabilizing the child's influence could be. If the child died, we would likely face a fierce corpse rampage."
The emperor resolves to add medicine to the list.
"How go the preparations for such an unfortunate occurrence?"
"Your Imperial Majesty, the cultivators are preparing for war against Wei Wuxian. They are concerned his ambitions will not stop at the Burial Mounds. Still, many are urging caution for fear he would... win."
"He is, as the heavens see it, one man. Against multiple clans who are considering going to war. They are worried he could win. He is an unstable twenty year old who complains about having to buy radishes." The emperor pauses. "We trust that you will keep us well-informed as this situation develops."
He really needs to send that message.
"Yes, I shall, Your Imperial Majesty."
One year later--
"Your Imperial Majesty, your humble servant is pleased to report that there will not be a war and Wei Wuxian is dead."
"While we do not rejoice in the death of any subject, a war would have killed many more. Please, elaborate for the court what happened."
"Wei Wuxian received an invitation to the one-month party of his nephew, Jin Ling. It was the first time he left the Burial Mounds except for shopping expeditions in the past year. On the way to the party, accompanied by Wen Ning, he was challenged by another member of the Jin clan, whom he had subjected to a very painful and eventually fatal curse which could only be lifted by the death of the person responsible. Wen Ning easily killed the challenger and the accompanying army of cultivators, which included Jin Ling's father and Wei Wuxian's brother-in-law, Jin Zixuan, the current heir to the Jin clan."
The emperor waits. Laying a curse that makes killing the caster literally life-saving are about what he expects from Wei Wuxian at this point.
"Naturally, the fact that Wei Wuxian would leave the Burial Mounds and slaughter hundreds of cultivators pushed the cultivators more towards war. They began to make preparations. Wei Wuxian arrived at the site of the preparations and killed four thousand people."
And in their fear that he would slaughter hundreds, he instead slaughtered thousands. It was, he had been told, never a good day when an army was attacked in a camp as it was preparing to depart or settle down, but still, four thousand cultivators, each of whom was more than capable of handling a fierce corpse that would give a dozen soldiers pause.
"In the chaos, Wei Wuxian killed his own sister. The-- exact details of what happened next were unclear, but reliable reports suggest that within the next few weeks he tore himself apart with his own cultivation from grief and guilt."
"So he killed four thousand cultivators and what ultimately brought him down were his own emotions. Please, if possible, inform the court on how likely it is that other cultivators who were able to use Demonic Cultivation wold be able to become similarly powerful."
"Your Imperial Majesty, by all accounts Wei Wuxian is a genius of the sort we see only once in a century. But perhaps others can imitate his work."
"It is far harder to make something new than to use what our forefathers have handed down to us. There are many reasons to prefer the methods of our ancestors. But if such a genius is seen once a century, why are there not older cultivators of similar power? Cultivators do live for centuries, after all."
"Perhaps they knew about the demonic path and chose not to cultivate it, seeing where it would bring them."
"It is believed that the demonic cultivation was why he tore himself apart?"
"Demonic cultivation is what gave him the ability, Your Imperial Majesty. But by all accounts he adored his sister, and perhaps if he had cultivated conventionally he would have killed himself in some other manner."
"Firstly, when you say that there will not be a war, is it because the atrocities inflicted upon the Wen clan do not qualify as a war without Wei Wuxian to protect them? Given the recent history, We assume that they are not being treated well.
Secondly, what is happening with the fierce corpse army of Wei Wuxian?
Thirdly, an earlier report said that Wen Ning was not in control of the fierce corpse army that he heads. How, then, did he kill an entire army of cultivators?"