Wei Wuxian took out his flute and played the score. As expected, the two melodies were disjointed. The half score on the previous page and the half score on the following page did not belong to the same piece.

There should have been another page between these two, carefully torn away without leaving a trace.

The person who tore it was meticulous, leaving no trace of the missing page, making it difficult to be noticed. Wei Wuxian flipped through the book and saw three words written on the deep blue cover.

He said, " ‘Luan Po Chao’? What kind of book is this? The melodies inside sound a bit strange."

Lan Wangji replied, “A collection of secret melodies from Dongying.”

Wei Wuxian exclaimed, “From Dongying? No wonder the melodies are different from ours.”

Lan Xichen’s expression became complicated as he said, “Luan Po Chao is said to be a collection of evil melodies compiled by a cultivator from the Lan Clan in Gusu. This cultivator drifted overseas and wandered in Dongying for several years, gathering and compiling this book of forbidden melodies. If these melodies are played with spiritual energy, they can harm people, causing emaciation, irritability, turbulent qi and blood, or loss of the five senses… A cultivator with strong spiritual energy can take a person’s life within seven strikes.”

Wei Wuxian slammed the table and said, “That’s it!”

He was delighted, and his forceful action almost knocked over the paper lamp on the table. Lan Wangji quickly caught it. Wei Wuxian said, “Lan Sect Leader, is there a melody in this ‘Luan Po Chao’ that can disturb the mind, agitate the spiritual energy, cause turbulent qi and blood, and make someone easily irritable?”

Lan Xichen replied, “…There should be.”

Wei Wuxian continued, “Jin Guangyao doesn’t have the ability to take someone’s life within seven strikes due to his weak spiritual energy. Besides, it would be too obvious if he chose such a powerful evil melody. But if he used the excuse of playing ‘Qingxin Xuan Qu’ to calm Nie Mingjue’s mind and played it continuously for three months, is it possible for this melody to catalyze Nie Mingjue’s condition, affecting his mental state like a chronic poison?”

Lan Xichen said, “…It is possible.”

Wei Wuxian said, “In that case, the speculation is quite reasonable. The fragment that doesn’t belong to ‘Xihua’ is from the lost page of ‘Luan Po Chao.’ The evil melodies recorded in ‘Luan Po Chao’ are all complex and difficult to master. Jin Guangyao didn’t have time to transcribe them in the Forbidden Book Chamber, so he tore it away—not because he couldn’t remember, but to leave no evidence. He wanted to ensure that even if his actions were exposed one day or if he was caught on the spot, no one could determine the source of this melody.

“He was extremely cautious. In front of you, he played the complete version of ‘Xihua’ calmly. Nie Mingjue is not someone who indulges in the arts. He should have a rough impression of the melody you played. Therefore, Jin Guangyao didn’t dare to directly play an evil melody for him. Instead, he went through some twists and turns, combining two melodies with contrasting styles and completely opposite effects. Yet, he managed to blend them seamlessly, displaying remarkable talent in music. I guess he used very little spiritual energy in the ‘Xihua’ section and exerted his power in the ‘Luan Po Chao’ section. Nie Mingjue, not being well-versed in this field, naturally couldn’t discern that a section of the melody had been altered into a deadly evil tune!”

After a moment of silence, Lan Xichen spoke in a low voice, “Although he often entered the Cloud Recesses, I never told him about the Forbidden Book Chamber.”

Wei Wuxian said, “Lan Sect Leader, forgive me for speaking bluntly. During the Sunshot Campaign, Jin Guangyao successfully acted as a spy in the Nightless City of the Qishan Wen Clan. He even managed to find Wen Ruohan’s secret chamber and infiltrate it without being noticed, memorizing all the maps and documents and covertly transcribing the information before sending it back to the Jinlintai. In his presence, the Forbidden Book Chamber of the Lan Clan…really isn’t much.”

Lan Xichen held the paper with the fragment of the melody in his hand and stared at it for a while before saying, “I will find a way to test this fragment.”

Lan Wangji raised his voice slightly, “Brother!”

Lan Xichen supported his forehead with his hand, as if enduring something. He spoke in a deep voice, “Wangji, the Jin Guangyao I know, the Jin Guangyao you know, and the Jin Guangyao perceived by the world are completely different people! For all these years, in my eyes, he has been…enduring humiliation, caring for all beings, respectful to superiors and compassionate to inferiors. I have always believed that the criticisms of him by others are based on misunderstandings. What I know is the most genuine. Are you asking me to believe now, without hesitation, that everything this person has shown me is fake? That he orchestrated the murder of his own sworn brother, and I was also involved in his scheme, even assisting him… Can you allow me to be more cautious and make a judgment?”

Originally, Lan Xichen wanted Nie Mingjue and Jin Guangyao to reconcile. That’s why he taught Jin Guangyao the “Qingxin Xuan Qu” and asked him to replace himself in calming Nie Mingjue’s mind. But his good intentions ended up fostering Jin Guangyao’s treachery. How could he deal with this?

None of them spoke again. It wasn’t until they left the Forbidden Book Chamber that Lan Wangji said, “I will go see my uncle.”

After a long silence, Lan Xichen also said, “I will take Wei Gongzi back. You can come later.”

He led Wei Wuxian through the secluded path of white stones in the depths of the Cloud Recesses, returning to the isolated small dwelling surrounded by Dragon’s Bile herbs. Standing in front of the door, Wei Wuxian asked, “Does Mr. Lan know about Han Guang Jun…”

Lan Xichen interrupted, “My uncle has only recently awakened, and I instructed everyone not to mention anything to him.”

If Lan Qiren learned about the good deeds Lan Wangji had done with Wei Wuxian at the Jinlintai, he would surely faint again upon waking up. Wei Wuxian said, “Thank you for your hard work, Senior Lan.”

Lan Xichen replied, “My uncle truly deserves it.”

Suddenly, he asked, “Wei Gongzi, do you know what this place is?”

Wei Wuxian wondered, “Why would Ze Wujun expect me to know?”

Lan Xichen glanced at him and said, “This was my mother’s residence in the Cloud Recesses.”

Lan Xichen’s mother was also Lan Wangji’s mother. Wei Wuxian found it rather strange. The residence of the Lan Clan’s successive Clan Leaders was called the “Cold Room,” and it certainly wasn’t this small house hidden in a secluded corner of the Cloud Recesses. Could it be that Lan Wangji’s parents had a strained relationship like Jiang Fengmian and Madam Yu, and were forced into marriage, resulting in living apart?

There could be no pleasant reason for the Clan Leader and his wife to live separately. Moreover, it was said that the previous Clan Leader of the Lan Clan, Lord Qingheng, had a frail and delicate wife who was always bedridden and unfit to see people. Others knew very little about her, and many speculated that her “illness” was a hidden condition, such as disfigurement or disability. Therefore, Wei Wuxian refrained from asking too much and remained silent, waiting for Lan Xichen to reveal more.

Lan Xichen said, “Wei Gongzi, you should know that my father has been in seclusion for many years, uninterested in worldly affairs. For all these years, the Lan Clan in Gusu has been managed almost single-handedly by my uncle.”

Wei Wuxian responded, “I am aware of that.”

Lan Xichen lowered his hand, gently holding the cracked ice in his palm, and slowly said, “My father has been in seclusion all these years because of my mother. This place, called a residence…it would be more accurate to call it a place of confinement.”

Wei Wuxian was taken aback.

Ze Wujun and Han Guang Jun’s father, Lord Qingheng, had also been a renowned scholar in his youth, gaining fame at a young age. However, he suddenly retired from the public eye, announced his marriage, and ceased to involve himself in worldly matters. Although many speculated about the reasons, none were ever confirmed.

Lan Xichen knelt beside the Dragon’s Bile flowers, gently caressing the delicate and thin petals, and said, “When my father was young, he met my mother on his way back from a night hunt outside Gusu City.” He smiled slightly and continued, “It is said that it was love at first sight.”

Wei Wuxian smiled as well and remarked, “Youthful infatuation.”

However, Lan Xichen said, “But this woman did not return his affection. Moreover, she killed one of my father’s esteemed mentors.”

It was truly beyond imagination. Although Wei Wuxian knew it would be impolite to pry further, the fact that this involved Lan Wangji’s parents made him feel compelled to ask, “Why?!”

Lan Xichen replied, “I don’t know, but it can be summed up as ‘grudges and disputes’.”

Wei Wuxian didn’t press any further and forcibly restrained himself, saying, “And then?”

Lan Xichen said, “After that, my father learned the truth and naturally suffered greatly. However, despite his struggles, he secretly brought this woman back, disregarding the objections of the clan. He silently performed the wedding ceremony with her, bowing to the heavens and earth. He told everyone in the clan that she was his lifelong wife, and anyone who wanted to harm her would have to get past him first.”

Wei Wuxian widened his eyes.

Lan Xichen continued, “After the wedding, my father found a house and locked my mother inside. He then found another house and locked himself in it. It was called seclusion, but it was actually self-reflection.”

Pausing for a moment, he said, “Wei Gongzi, can you understand why he did this?”

After a moment of silence, Wei Wuxian replied, “He couldn’t forgive the killer of his mentor, nor could he bear to watch his beloved woman die. So, he married her to protect her life and forced himself not to see her.”

Lan Xichen asked, “Do you think that was the right thing to do?”

Wei Wuxian answered, “I don’t know.”

Lan Xichen looked slightly perplexed and asked, “Then what do you think would have been the right thing to do?”

Wei Wuxian replied, “I don’t know.”

After a long while, Lan Xichen said softly, “My father did everything without considering the consequences. The elders in the clan were furious, but they had watched him grow up and had no choice but to keep the secret and outwardly imply that the Clan Leader’s wife had a hidden illness and should not be seen. When my brother and I were born, we were immediately taken away and cared for by others. As we grew older, we were entrusted to our uncle’s guidance.”

“My uncle…was always straightforward by nature. Because of my mother, my father destroyed his own life and developed an intense hatred for those with immoral conduct. As a result, he gave my brother and me exceptional attention and was exceptionally strict with us. We could only see our mother once a month, and it was here in this small dwelling.”

Two young children, facing strict discipline and rigorous education from their uncle every day, surrounded by piles of books, had to maintain perfect posture no matter how tired they were. They were expected to become exemplary figures in the eyes of others. They were unable to meet their loved ones for long periods, unable to play and romp in their father’s embrace, unable to snuggle and be spoiled by their mother.

But they had done nothing wrong.

Lan Xichen said, “Every time my brother and I visited her, she never complained about being confined here, unable to move freely. She never asked about our studies. She especially enjoyed teasing my brother. However, the more he teased him, the more my brother refused to speak and the more sullen he became. He has been like this since childhood. But,” Lan Xichen smiled, “even though my brother never says it, I know that he looks forward to the day each month when he can meet our mother. And so do I.”

Wei Wuxian imagined the young Lan Wangji being held in his mother’s arms, his fair little face blushing, and he couldn’t help but smile. However, before the smile faded, Lan Xichen continued, “But one day, my uncle suddenly told us that we didn’t need to come anymore.”

“Mother was no longer here.”

Wei Wuxian whispered, “How old was Lan Zhan at that time?”

Lan Xichen answered, “Six years old.”

He continued, “He was too young to understand what ’no longer here’ meant. No matter how others tried to console him or how my uncle scolded him, he continued to come here every month, sitting outside the corridor, waiting for someone to open the door. Even when he grew a little older and realized that our mother would never return and that no one would open the door for him, he still came.”

Lan Xichen stood up, his dark eyes meeting Wei Wuxian’s gaze, and said, “Wangji has always been stubborn since he was young.”

The sound of rustling leaves filled the air, and the clusters of Dragon’s Bile flowers in front of the house swayed gently in the wind, exuding a myriad of enchanting colors. Wei Wuxian’s gaze fell upon the wooden porch of the small dwelling, as if he could see a little child sitting there, with his forehead supported, sitting quietly and waiting for the door to open.

He said, “Madam Lan must have been a very gentle woman.”

Lan Xichen replied, “The mother I remember was indeed like that. I don’t know why she did what she did back then, and, in fact, I…”

He took a deep breath and confessed, “I don’t want to know.”

After a silent pause, Lan Xichen lowered his eyes and took out the cracked ice. Suddenly, a mournful sound of a flute drifted on the night breeze, the melody deep and melancholic, as if sighing.

Wei Wuxian had heard Lan Xichen play the flute with the cracked ice before. The sound was usually gentle and graceful, like a spring breeze and gentle rain. However, at this moment, the melody was still exquisite, but it evoked a different feeling.

As the night wind brushed against his slightly disheveled black hair and forehead, Lan Xichen disregarded his usual poise. Only when the tune ended did he put down the cracked ice and say, “Playing music in the depths of Yunmeng is forbidden at night. Today, I have overstepped several times, and I apologize for that.”

Wei Wuxian responded, “There’s nothing to apologize for, Ze Wujun. Don’t forget, the person standing in front of you is the one who breaks the most rules…”

Lan Xichen smiled and said, “I have never revealed the truth about our identities in the Lan Clan to the outside world. I shouldn’t have told you this. Tonight, I simply had the sudden impulse to confide in someone.”

Wei Wuxian reassured him, “I am not someone who speaks out of turn. You can rest assured, Ze Wujun.”

Lan Xichen said, “And I believe Wangji would not keep anything hidden from you.”

Wei Wuxian said, “If he doesn’t want to talk about it, I won’t ask.”

Lan Xichen replied, “But considering Wangji’s personality, even if you ask him, he won’t answer. There are some things he won’t talk about, no matter how much you ask.”

Before Wei Wuxian could respond, he heard footsteps behind him. He turned around and saw Lan Wangji walking towards them, bathed in moonlight. In his right hand, he carried two round wine jars with bright red seals. Wei Wuxian’s eyes lit up, and he exclaimed, “Hanguang-Jun, you are truly thoughtful!”