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Sep 22, 2021 4:57 PM
Wei Wuxian meets up with the other time travellers
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Gasp!  "No he wouldn't!"

He is appalled!  Jiang Cheng is being so rude.

"They look different!  Completely different.  Lan Zhan has a thinner jaw, and different cheek bones, and his eyes are gold.  Zewu-jun's are just... light brown?"  Admittedly, Wei Wuxian hasn't paid much attention to what color Zewu-jun's eyes are. 

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"Uh-huh.  Sure.  Whatever you say, Wei Wuxian."

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Jiang Yanli is amused.  She smiles widely, hidden by her sleeve as she takes a drink of tea.  Lan-er-gongzi's ears have gone a bit pink from being the center of attention. 

They are going to be so cute together once A-Xian gets put back into the right body, she thinks. 

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Jiang Cheng does not want to talk about Lan Wangji and his stupid face.  Time to change the subject. 

"So.  How did you take out Nightless City, anyway?  Mo Xuanyu was far too young to have started the proper meditations, even if he'd been part of a cultivation clan.  Does that mean that your golden core came along with you?"

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"Hm?  Dunno."

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"...What do you mean you don't know?"

He remembers getting his golden core.  It was pretty noticeable.  Not knowing whether or not you have one is like not knowing whether or not you have eyes.

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"Huh?  Oh.  Sorry, Jiang Cheng.  I got distracted thinking about something else," he lies, then laughs at himself to cover up the lapse.

"No, the Mo family aren't cultivators.  And I don't think Jin Guangshan was likely to bother sending anyone to teach him.  Though, I guess if my suspicions that future-Mo Xuanyu was involved, he must have learned somehow.  I don't know which sect would have taken him in.  Maybe Ji- er, Sandu Shengshou or Lan Zhan know what sects wound up taking over most of the hunting in Qishan.  It was probably one of them."  He rambles.  Distract them with a dozen irrelevant ideas he might have been thinking about.

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Jiang Cheng continues to be suspicious.  Wei Wuxian does sometimes mentally wander into tangents while they talk.  It's very annoying.  It had seemed like he was paying attention up until then, though, this time.  Jiang Cheng gets the feeling that whatever it was, it wasn't what Wei Wuxian had immediately started talking about.

He'll have to come back to that, later.  There is a more obvious question.  "How did you take out all of Nightless City as a mundane child, then?"

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"Demonic cultivation doesn't require a golden core."

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That's the expression that Wei Wuxian makes when he's hoping that Jiang Cheng isn't going to be angry about something.  Which probably means that Jiang Cheng ought to be angry about something.  But about what?  Hmm.

"You'd better not be thinking about using it until you have a golden core, just because it's more convenient.  If you get tired of walking the long paths instead of jumping over roofs as a shortcut that's just motivation to meditate more."

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That isn't the problem.  At least he can always trust Jiang Cheng to find something to think he's doing wrong.  It's easier when he doesn't have to think up all of his own excuses and lies. 

"If I don't need to use it any more, then I won't.  It was worth it to take out Wen Ruohan.  That means that Uncle Jiang and Madam Yu are alive and will stay that way this time.  Lotus Pier and Cloud Recesses aren't going to burn.  Whatever harm I did to myself is hardly comparable to that.  There's nothing else at that scale I have to do."

The question is whether or not he'll need to use it any more. 

Jiang Cheng's questions about the golden core have made him wonder.  What if those torn pieces of his spirit did come back with him.  What if he is unable to form a golden core in this new timeline?  Can he stand to live as mundane?  He would either need to find a way to use demonic cultivation to mimic regular cultivation, or else vanish into the mundane world before it could be found out.

Worse, what if the broken pieces remain in this body?  He can't let Jiang Cheng swap into a body without the capacity for cultivation.  That doesn't seem likely, admittedly - if the inability to form a new core were to have come with him, it likely will do so again.  On the other hand, what if he is just tainted, and any new body becomes so, potentially leaving them both ruined?

He will have to be very sure before trying anything.  Wei Wuxian will figure it out. 

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"It is good that the problem with Wen Ruohan has been averted.  We know that you care about your family.  A-Cheng and I also care about you."  This makes A-Xian squirm a bit, so she smooths his hair.

"We want you to be okay.  Lan-er-gongzi can play music for you, and undo any lingering effects."

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Wangji gives a firm nod.  He will play for Wei Ying.

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Wei Wuxian laughs bitterly.  That isn't the problem at all.  He quickly slides his air of confidence back on. 

"Yeah, okay.  I guess we'd better start that then.  No reason to make Lan Zhan spend his time listening to us blather all the way until nearly curfew.  And I'm sure you have studying to do.  Go on."  He makes a shooing gesture at them

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Wangji gets out his guqin.  It is soothing to play.  With spiritual energy infusing the notes it is even more soothing to listen to.

Wei Ying starts off in a proper meditative pose.  Shifts a few times.  Sits on the edge of the bed with his legs kicking.  Stretches, paces.  Returns to sitting cross-legged but in a different spot.  This movement makes the music less effective, but not ineffective.  Wangji can't bring himself to discourage it.  Wei Ying is listening, in his own way.  This is what Wei Ying is like - movement and life.  If Wangji needs to play longer it just means he can spend more time here.

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Jiang Yanli leaves and pulls A-Cheng behind her so that he and Lan Wangji don't need to be in the same room.

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"Lan-er-gongzi is going to just take care of everything then?  Fine.  I'm sick of having to deal with Wei Wuxian's messes."  He kicks at the ground as he walks. 

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She can hear what he's actually saying.  'I feel useless.  Wei Wuxian needs something, and I can't offer it.  There's nothing I can do.'  Both because A-Cheng is her little brother and she knows him, and because it's how she often feels, herself. 

"Come with me, A-Cheng.  There's an important thing I need help with.  It's a good time to make soup, but I need ingredients from Caiyi Town.  You can get there and back much faster than I can."

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Jiang Cheng can absolutely get to Caiyi Town and back very quickly.  He darts off at a... well, at a fast walk while still inside of Cloud Recesses. 

Soup ingredients are bought, and he hauls them up the mountain.  Wei Wuxian would have stopped to flirt with village girls and gawk at the stalls.  Jiang Cheng goes straight there and back.  He is not going to dwell on how Wei Wuxian would still somehow manage to catch up with him.  Or how he's being sent out alone because Wei Wuxian is unable to come with him.

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He delivers the ingredients, then looks in on Wei Wuxian.  Lan Wangji is still playing his guqin so he turns around and walks away.  A-Jie doesn't let him brood for long, instead offering him a knife and asking very politely whether he could help with chopping up the lotus root.

Jiang Cheng does not know how to cook.  Yet.  Apparently evil future him knows how to cook.  He doesn't know if this makes him want to learn how to do it better, to spite him, or to never learn at all.  The problem with evil him isn't that he can cook.  A-Jie can cook and isn't evil. 

It's a moot point, regardless.  He isn't going to say no to A-Jie.

Jiang Cheng takes out his aggression by chopping up the roots and pork and staring menacingly at the pot until it boils properly.

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What a good helper!  For the chopping part, not the staring part.  The water is going to boil on its own from the fire she set it over whether or not he is looking at it. 

Jiang Yanli had long talks with older A-Cheng, who had told her about when she'd taught him.  It had been late and he had been busy in those short weeks they'd had together before she'd left to marry Jin Zixuan.  Older A-Cheng knew only the basics - the list of proper spices and measured quantities for a standard soup.  But there was more to cooking than just measuring things.  There were subtle differences in flavor of lotus root from the different farms across Yunmeng to be accounted for, and differences between fresher roots and those which have been stored.  The changes that weather can make: humidity can change how much water a dough needs, but appetites change too - a sweltering summer's day spent hauling around stacks of wood builds up a different appetite than a lazy winter day cooped up and studying, and wants its own little changes. 

She doesn't know how much she can impart of this to A-Cheng.  He does want to be better than older A-Cheng.  Most of that is going to be up to him.  His sister can at least make him better at cooking.  More importantly, she can stop him from feeling useless.  It's hard to feel useless when handing someone soup you helped make.

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He does his best.

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