I’m sure variations on this idea already exist, I’m just broken re: reading right now and can’t go looking, BUT.
I’m very intrigued by yunmeng sibling tragedy potential, and I’m very curious about a couple of variations on a theme.
One, what happens if Jiang Cheng tries to sacrifice himself to protect Wei Wuxian, and instead of a little light torture, the Wens go for a full-blown execution? What if Wei Wuxian sneaks back into Lotus Pier, and doesn’t have a brother left alive to rescue? Now, he’s got extra grief and anger to deal with, but also no impetus to sacrifice his golden core.
Or! What if Wei Wuxian just… doesn’t make it through the golden core transfer? I could go for a number of variations on that idea (what if jiang cheng has the core and wei wuxian is dead? what if the core transfer DIDN’T work and wei wuxian is dead anyways?) and the aftereffects branch in a LOT of potential directions. Does Wen Qing tell him? Does she tell him as herself, or cosplaying Baoshan Sanren? How much is a grief-stricken Jiang Cheng going to lash out against either an ambiguous love interest/political enemy, or against a total stranger, telling him his brother is dead, when his brother is supposed to be safe, back in town? Just how bad is this going to be, and how much is he going to be able to scrape himself back together afterwards? It wouldn’t change the early stages of the war, but it could very significantly affect the endgame, and it would leave everyone without a convenient demonic cultivator scapegoat to blame for all their problems.
(and of course, a variation on this is that they BOTH die, and wen qing has to find a way to tell jiang yanli what happened)
(and additionally, there’s tasty potential in a world where the transfer works, wei wuxian gets thrown in the burial mounds… and never comes back out. maybe someday jiang cheng leads an expedition in there and finds a skeleton and the remains of some red and black robes)
Also, i would be remiss if i left out the possibility of Jiang Yanli being killed while her brothers were taking turns with the big dramatic attempted sacrifices. I don’t WANT to consider this possibility, but do consider how deliciously devastating it would be for Wei Wuxian to come back from Lotus Pier, or for Jiang Cheng to come back from the mountain, only to find their sister gone. I feel guilty for even mentioning it, but I am FASCINATED by how much it would shatter them!
No big conclusions here, I was just handed a family stuffed full of people who suffer beautifully for their loved ones, and… I just want to see how much they’re capable of hurting :3c