Warning: This work has been rated 16+.
The Untamed, but written. An original English written adaptation of the Chinese live-action drama/romance/epic; or, a monumentally-sized writing exercise.
Wei Wuxian is dead!
A red, oppressive sky bears down on the mountains as the sun begins to rise. The number of cultivators that have collected here is currently too high to count. The wide expanse they stand on is solid foundation, but all around them are rising clouds of smoke and flame and a cloistering, oppressive heat that hangs in the air like an omen. An omen of what, exactly, no one is yet sure.
Screams. Yells. The high, ringing clashes of swords meeting swords.
A lithe figure, head bowed and clad in black, slowly stumbles backwards. This ground they all walk is a plaza atop a cliff atop an active volcano - tempered by what, no one present knows - and behind him, a hot, deep, and blistering chasm waits.
It’s wonderful that he died. That’s such great news! Wei Wuxian, the Yiling Patriarch, was such a terrible man that he couldn’t have been killed if it weren’t for the coalition of the Jiang Clan, Lan Clan, Jin Clan, and Nie Clan.
The flute in his hands trembles and his knuckles turn white. He’s covered in both his blood and others’, but it’s his mind that twists and reels, emotions spilling up and over as his body slowly numbs.
Yes. The Jiang clan adopted him out of mercy, but he turned out to be a merciless devil.
His breathing is shallow, light. The battle beyond him blends and shifts relentlessly but he hardly registers it now.
So this is how it really is, he thinks blankly, the battle blurring as his eyes begin to prick and well. So this is how it goes.
He betrayed his own clan and fought against all the others. Because of this, the Jiang clan was almost eradicated. If I were Jiang Cheng, I would have killed him on the spot.
A fierce-looking and chiseled hunk of metal turns and whirls through the battlefield, slow and lackadaisical. It’s out of sync with everything around it, as if it has a mind of its own. It stoops, it rises, it glides - and everywhere it turns, it’s noticed. It lowers itself, nearly glancing the ground, and someone’s foot kicks it away from a lunging hand. Another person nearby is crawling, arm outstretched, and a sword slices cleanly through their palm to the bloodstained stone below.
Another kicks it towards themselves, this time, up and away from their fellow cultivator now crying out in pain.
“I’ve got the Stygian Tiger Amulet!” The lucky one howls, eyes wild and gleaming. Their voice rings through the air as a sword bursts through their gut. In and out. They fall, limp.
The Amulet glides on. Past another grasping hand, underneath a swinging sword - until it reaches another open, waiting, fortunate palm. His face, too, is filled with a breathless zeal.
“The Stygian Tiger Amulet…” His throat is sliced in only a moment, and he too falls. A new hand stretches out to grab it, and an arm is shorn in two. The amulet dips lower, and someone desperately dragging themselves closer loses a hand. The next pursuant, two fingers.
The warzone is torn in two. Those fighting for their lives, and those desperately cleaving their way towards their ultimate prize. From above, the amulet is surrounded by a halo of the dead.
Fury shifts into helpless hopelessness. Everyone spoke so highly of themselves. Everyone claimed their grand and just moral high ground. Everyone did things for the greater good and to right grievous wrongs but look at them now: their masks lifted, their facades stripped down to their barest, truest colors. An emptiness wells up within him, so dark and consuming that it burns out all else. It feels something like anguish.
Wei Wuxian’s tears finally slip down his cheeks. He doesn’t feel them. He’s grateful for the tears, though; his eyes sting and blur and it makes it that much easier to slip them shut and leave the battle behind.
Leave the battle behind. Because what else could he do, now? He sees it now. The truth. Neither good intention nor real righteousness would ever be enough in this world. Plus, beyond that… he had finally done what he wholly and truly thought was impossible. He had lost control. Not once, but twice - with catastrophic consequences. He had finally gone too far.
He tilts his body backwards, and feels his center shift. He begins to fall.
A vice closes around his wrist. His descent stops abruptly, the air bouncing out of his lungs. His eyes flutter open. His gaze is drawn upwards, to the hand clutching him, and the first thing he registers is blood on elegant fingers, dripping in rivulets. He tilts his head further up, locks eyes, and his chest is suddenly suffused with soft, gentle warmth, thankful yet imminently finite.
“Lan Zhan.” There is a depth of emotion in his face that Wei Wuxian has never seen before, and he’s grateful for the sendoff. There’s something akin to pain on his face - or maybe anger, or maybe just exertion - but Lan Zhan is a big boy. He’ll be fine, and more than that, better off this way. Happier. Not dragged this way and that, constantly being tempted beyond his deadset and so very morally correct ways.
“Let me go.” As soon as he says it, though, both of their eyes are drawn to the space beside Lan Wangji. A blade comes into view, dripping plentifully with blood, and then–
“Jiang Cheng.” The warmth inside him builds, just a little, in gratitude. At least he gets to see his brother one last time.
“Wei Wuxian!” He hurls it out like an insult, like a cursed slur, and his face spells a whirlwind of emotions as he raises his sword in preparation to strike. Wei Wuxian squeezes his eyes shut a final time, letting one last tear roll. It was okay. He was ready.
“Go to hell!” Jiang Cheng pulls back, his face twisting, and strikes.
Wei Wuxian falls.
As for Wei Wuxian, 16 years ago, he was a prestigious man who became famous when he was young. How glorious he was! But look at his ending. Falling off a cliff without a body to be found, without a chance of survival.
Jiang Cheng sheaths his sword and returns to the dying battle, but Lan Wangji remains, immoving, transfixed in horror as he stares down the pit of ash, smoke, and flame that had engulfed him so far below.
The mountains themselves are the only ones to see the grief written on his face that day.
Preamble: I’ve both watched the show and read an English translation of the novel, but was particularly transfixed with the subtlety, depth, and subtle depth of chemistry conveyed in the show’s retelling of their relationship. While I’m a published writer, I don’t qualify in any way to be a translator - and so when thinking of a writing exercise I could do regarding this show, this sprung to mind.
This is a mainly faithful retelling. I rely on Netflix subtitles to guide me through the dialogue, and where my words differ slightly from theirs, I do aim to remain true to the spirit of the scene. Ultimately, this is only my interpretation of the inner worlds so gloriously portrayed by the incredible cast. This is purely for fun, and purely for my own joy. I hope you enjoy it as well. :-)
If you do find it particularly engaging, please consider supporting me directly via Ko-fi, in any amount of your choosing. As this project is fundamentally derivative, I can claim no profit on the material itself. Every bit of support helps me stave off returning to the retail hell I’ve since escaped from by one more moment - and every bit of support genuinely means so much.
Thank you, and stay wonderful!