Wei Wuxian slowed, feeling mossy rocks more ready to turn underfoot as they reached the edge of rippling water. They’d taken Hanguang-jun. If only he knew why.
Wen Ning crouched, flipping back a dark sleeve before he scooped up a handful of water to sniff. “No death. The water seems good.”
“It does,” Wei Wuxian agreed, dipping out his own handful and inhaling. Clean, cool; not like the Burial Mounds, where even the clearest water always had a trace of grave dust-
Wen Ning’s hand clamped on his wrist, halting it before it could reach his lips. “Don’t you dare. Jiejie would be so angry.”
Ah. Right. This wasn’t the Burial Mounds; that graveyard stream might be gritty, but there was nothing in it that would harm him. This was a strange land, with strange waters. There might be strange illnesses as well. If Wen Qing had to use precious medical supplies to keep him from dying because he hadn’t waited for boiled water, he’d never hear the end of it.
He sighed, and tipped his hand to let water drip away. “It’s odd. Sometimes it’s the little things I miss. Hair that behaves. Being able to write talismans in cinnabar without poisoning myself.” He laughed once, rueful. “Drinking from streams.”
Wen Ning shifted; almost a sigh. “Should we try to go back, after we rescue Master Lan?”
“I don’t even know why someone’s kidnapped him-!” Breathe. Stay calm. “We need to think about this. Right now… we have water. Let’s go tell your sister nothing’s eaten us yet.”
Afternoon faded into twilight, but they’d managed to set up a half-decent camp, Wen Ning dragging back a dead tree that almost matched the deadfall picked up by the rest of the firewood detail. There was hot water to wash up with. Tea. Stew, that had barely a trace of radishes.
And two worried stares making sure he ate his, Wei Wuxian reflected, instead of slipping half of it to the toddler on his lap. Which, come on. He’d made it through the Sunshot Campaign without starving to death. So long as everyone had enough food, he’d eat.