Black robes in the midst of a glittering banquet, lethal red glinting in gray eyes.
“Where is Wen Qionglin? I will count down from three.”
Mingjue’s nostrils flared; likely also remembering that disastrous night. But he breathed, one slow meditation, putting out a hand to still Baxia in her sheath. “I know he was your friend.”
Still is. I hope. “He was our weapon during the war, da-ge,” Huaisang said plainly. “Did he ever kill those who didn’t need to be killed?” He blinked, and flicked his fan open again. “I mean, except for Wen Chao. Not that I think anyone could blame him for that. That was a proper filial revenge.”
“Even the hungry ghosts?” But some of the tension had eased out of dark-clad shoulders.
“Especially the hungry ghosts,” Huaisang said fiercely. Yes, his stomach still flipped at the stories of how Wen Chao had been eaten alive. Still…. “The Wens slaughtered the Jiangs and left them where they lay, or dumped them off the pier! No cleansing ceremonies, no cremation – they would have created another Waterborne Abyss! What’s a hungry ghost next to that?”
“Easier to banish,” Mingjue admitted. Huffed. “Jin Guangyao swore the camps were well-maintained.”
“San-ge doesn’t know everything his father does.” Huaisang set his shoulders, and waited.
“Eww!” Not that his brother was wrong, no, but – ugh. There were reasons female cultivators visiting Koi Tower tended to stay in groups. And most of those reasons were named Jin Guangshan. Ugh.
Mingjue breathed out; not quite a sigh. “It won’t work.”
“Jin Guangshan wants the Seal. But his leverage is the Wens.” Mingjue met his gaze. “If they’re here, and the Yiling Patriarch fails to fall prey to whatever Valdemar used to stop the living dead, we’ll have the same problem all over again. Worse, if he does? How will we prove we don’t have the Seal, with the Wens inside our walls?”
Huaisang tensed, because… damn. He was right.
But it wasn’t a no.