Talia frowned. “I believe there’s a danger. But the Jianghu is very far away, and if the sects have any skill in politics and power there are limits to how much they’ll risk just to strike at us. What aren’t you telling me?”
“Oh. That’s simple.” Gray eyes looked down; wistful and sad. “You see, if someone really wants to do you all harm, the sects don’t need to come here. All they need to destroy you is one letter from Hanguang-jun’s uncle, Lan Qiren. Commanding him to come home.”
Crathach started. “One-?”
Talia gulped a breath, feeling as if the air had been punched from her lungs. Oh. Oh gods, she knew this. Too well. One letter, one sentence, had been enough to break her heart.
Sensholding has no daughter Talia.
Lan Qiren might no longer be the Acting Sect Leader of Lan, but he was still a respected elder and teacher of the sect. More, he’d raised his two nephews, instilling an iron code of honor even though he’d failed to teach Lan Wangji the confusion of politics. And an elder of your own sect had loyalty far beyond that given to the leader of the sect where you were a guest disciple.
“They’d send the letter, and Lan Wangji would go,” Talia stated, dread curling in her gut. “Kellen wouldn’t leave him. Companions don’t. They’d go, and the Lan Sect would think Kellen was possessing him, and – and try to exorcize him, destroy his spirit, kill them both unless they escaped-!”
“Hanguang-jun wouldn’t escape.” Wei Wuxian shook his head. “If Lan Qiren told him it had to be done – he doesn’t question his elders, or his traditions. Believe me, I know.”
Meaning Selenay would have to respond as Queen to a Herald’s murder- wait. Talia stared, and swallowed. “Lan Wangji doesn’t want you dead. He never has. I know it may have looked like he did….”
Gray eyes glinted, amused. “Oh, I know that.”
“You… do,” Talia got out, very surprised.
“Of course!” Wei Wuxian stretched his arms over his head; brought them down, hand resting casually near the polished black flute. “Lan Zhan’s straightforward, if you take a little time to watch him. I wouldn’t say our relationship is good – but he doesn’t hate me.”
From the way Wen Qionglin’s lips pressed together, he wasn’t entirely sure of that.
“Only he believes in righteousness,” Wei Wuxian went on, “and in Hanguang-jun’s world, that means following the rules. Would you volunteer to be struck a hundred times for leaving Cloud Recesses after curfew, when someone else tackled you over the wall?”