Wangji doesn’t necessarily like battle, but he found it good to use his skills in the field regularly. He didn’t want to get rusty. So when their seniors finally allowed the three juniors to accompany the Jiang disciples for their usual night hunt patrol, he eagerly took the opportunity.
Wangji has only fought alongside Wei Ying a couple of times, and while he isn’t new to working with others, he still found himself being caught off guard by how Wei Ying is in battle. The Jiangs have a different style of cultivation, of course, but Wei Ying still stands out. If Wangji were to describe the other’s style, he might use the word “clever”. Wei Ying is a clever fighter. He uses all the tools under his belt when he fights, from spells, to his sword, to his talismans, and even his dizi, though he admits musical cultivation is still relatively new to him.
Wangji had found himself making note of these useful skills as they fight a group of fierce corpses possessed by a resentful spirit together. When he got into a tight spot and used a spell to get out of it the same way Wei Ying did a few moments ago, he heard Wei Ying’s voice cheering.
“Nice, Lan Zhan!”
Still, they weren’t completely in the clear yet, and Lan Wangji regrets his split-second distraction when he hears Xin Chun’s voice from across the field.
Lan Wangji moves on instinct – he rushes towards his cousin and shields the younger teen from an incoming attack from a fierce corpse, taking the hit on his arm and side.
“Wangji-ge!” Lan Ming cries, and Wangji hears several other people call his name. He ignores the pain and shoves the boy behind him as he turns towards the fierce corpse. But before he could strike with Bichen, an arrow hits his opponent square on the head, the force knocking it back a step. It was then followed by a spell that blasted it a couple meters away.
Wei Ying and Xin Chun rush past to fend off any other attacks.
“Wangji-ge, I-… I’m sorry.” Lan Ming says, getting to his feet.
Wangji shakes his head. “Are you hurt?”
“N-No… but you-”
“Wangji! Are you okay?” Nie Huaisang asks, stepping protectively in front of them, one fan drawn. Wangji knew his childhood friend practiced his cultivation with fans, but he’d never seen him in action. Even tonight, he only came along on the night hunt because his brother told him to, and he had made it clear on the onset that he had no intention to participate in the fighting unless he really had to. Right now, though, Huaisang’s expression is serious and his stance is defensive as he assesses Lan Wangji and Lan Ming. “You’re bleeding.”
“Get him out of here, A-Sang!” Wei Ying calls out. “We’ll handle this!”
“Let’s go.” Huaisang says, brows furrowed in worry as he ushers Wangji away from the battle.
“Lan Ming, help them. Be careful this time.” Wangji tells his cousin.
The boy quickly nods, and returns to assist the rest of their little party.
Wangji lets Nie Huaisang lead him to where a younger teen in a white and red hoodie is standing by, bow and arrow at the ready to provide cover for the others.
“Nice shot, Wen-xiong.” Nie Huaisang says, and receives a shy nod in return.
“Thank you for your help.” Wangji adds.
“I… I am g-glad to help, H-Hanguang Jun.” the boy replies.
He’d only met Wen Qionglin a few hours prior, when Wei Ying introduced the younger as his friend, who is a talented archer, who will be assisting them to practice his archery. Wangji could tell that he is indeed very skilled.
Nie Huaisang starts to investigate Wangji’s wound and pauses to survey the damage.
“Oh dear, it’s really bleeding.”
Wangji looks too. It isn’t very deep, but gashes always tend to bleed quite a lot.
“Huaisang. You don’t have to, if it’s too much-”
Huaisang eyes him dubiously, one side of his lips quirked up. “Wangji, are you forgetting what sect I’m a part of? I’ve seen worse.” Then, with a focused expression that Wangji rarely sees in his friend’s face, he starts applying first aid.
It is then that Jiang Wanyin, who has been leading another group of disciples from somewhere else in the forest, finds them. He frowns when he sees Wangji’s condition. “What happened?”
Nie Huaisang doesn’t look up from his work. “He’s okay. You should go and help A-Xian.”
Jiang Wanyin does not need to be told twice, and other Jiang disciples follow his lead.
A few moments later, the battle must have finished because Wen Qionglin sets his bow and arrow aside and then kneels beside Nie Huaisang and Lan Wangji.
“N-Nie-er-gongzi… m-may I…?”
“Of course. This is your family’s specialty.” Huaisang says with a grateful smile, letting the other take over in bandaging Wangji’s arm. Huaisang had been doing a good job, really, but the moment Wen Qionglin took over, Wangji could immediately tell the difference between their experience. Wen Qionglin is quicker, more efficient.
Wei Ying and the others approach them, Lan Ming and Xin Chun hovering worriedly.
“W-Wangji-ge-… Hanguang Jun! Please forgive my carelessness!” Lan Ming says, sniffing, holding back tears.
“A-Ming.” Wangji looks at his cousin. “It’s fine.”
“Your Hanguang Jun is alright. This happens in night hunts.” Wei Ying adds, patting the younger’s shoulder. “You did okay.”
The boy nods, wiping his tears with his sleeves.
“Alright, enough with the waterworks now.” Jiang Wanyin says, scanning his company. Wen Ning had just finished bandaging Wangji’s arm. Together with Nie Huaisang, they pull him up to stand. “Some of us need proper medical attention. We’re done here. Let’s go back to Lotus Pier.”
Wangji had expected to be examined by the Jiang sect’s healers, for his wound to be looked at, then cleaned and wrapped properly. He and his two juniors would then thank the Jiang sect for letting them join their night hunt, and after that, they’d go home.
And so he sits quietly as his wound was examined, disinfected and wrapped. The healer examines his meridians just to be safe, then also gives him an ointment for his bruises. They firmly tell him to take it easy for a while and let his wound heal properly before doing any strenuous activities. It is a bit excessive for such a shallow wound, but considering his status, he could understand the precaution.
Wangji did not expect to find himself talking to Jiang Yanli.
The moment the healer leaves, Wangji feels a blanket draped over his shoulders, and then Jiang Yanli is sitting before him.
“Tea?” she offers, holding out a still warm cup in her hands.
It’s terribly late. He didn’t think she would be awake, although judging from how the other disciples are taking her presence in stride, this must be a normal occurrence.
It would be rude to turn down her offer, and Wangji indeed could use something to drink. He nods as he accepts the cup. “Maiden Jiang is very generous.”
“My brothers told me what happened, Lan-er-gongzi.” she says, looking shortly towards her brothers.
Lan Wangji follows her gaze to where Jiang Wanyin has basically forced Lan Min and Xin Chun to sit down and allow the healer to examine them even though both looked perfectly fine, while Wei Wuxian is fussing over a miniscule scrape on Wen Qionglin’s cheek, while the younger is trying to assure him that he’s alright.
Jiang Yanli looks back at him with a friendly smile. “Your shidi and shimei are fortunate to have you.”
“It is my duty to look after my juniors.” he answers. “As I’m sure Maiden Jiang would understand.”
“Of course I do.” she tells him, nodding. “I heard it’s been a while since your last night hunt, and tonight you are accompanied by cultivators from another sect. I hope it isn’t too big of an adjustment?”
Wangji thinks about it, and his silence lends way for him to hear the voice of Nie Huaisang somewhere in the distance, talking on his phone.
“Yes, da-ge. – … – No, da-ge. – … – Of course I didn’t do anything, da-ge! – … – Well, what was I supposed to do there anyway? You made me go with A-Xian and A-Cheng, and Wangji was there too! There was literally nothing left for me to do with them around, hahahaha…”
Wangji looks back at Jiang Yanli and answers. “It is not something I am accustomed to, but I have worked with your brothers before. They are very capable, as are your sect’s disciples.”
“Oh. I’m glad you think so.” she says, looking appreciative at the compliment to her sect. “They were very eager to work with you. I hope you continue to get along well.”
“-and then we saw the fierce corpse heading for A-Ming!”
“It was so scary!”
“But all of a sudden, Hanguang Jun was there! To protect our precious A-Ming!”
“He was so fast!”
“So fast! Hanguang Jun, so noble!”
He watches Wei Wuxian and Xin Chun, now free of the healer’s fussing, dramatically retelling the night hunt’s events to a big-eyed group of Jiang disciples. Jiang Wanyin looks done with his brother’s antics. Lan Ming looks like he wants to be swallowed up by the ground. Beside them, Wen Qionglin is nodding meekly at something Nie Huaisang is whispering to him from behind his fan.
Lan Wangji looks down at the tea in his hands as he reaches up to brush his fingers against the soft, pale purple blanket in his shoulders.
“I hope so too.”
*whispers* lan zhan and yanli-jie friendship 🥺