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Jin Guangyao (金光瑶) né Meng Yao (孟瑶) - Lianfang-Zun (敛芳尊)


Voiced by (Mandarin): Yang Tianxiang (animation), Jiang Guangtao (audio drama), Su Shangqing (live-action)
Voiced by (Japanese): Akira Ishida (animation, audio drama)
Voiced by (Korean): Lee Ho-san (animation)
Played by: Zhu Zanjin (live-action)

Height: 170 cm
Weapon: Hensheng | 恨生 (urumi)
Click here  to see Jin Guangyao before he became the Chief Cultivator

"To seek pity even after doing all the bad things— that's the kind of person I am."

The current leader of the Lanling Jin Clan and Jin Ling's paternal uncle. He swore an oath of brotherhood with Nie Mingjue and Lan Xichen, and is the third and youngest brother. Together, they are called the Venerated Triad.

The illegitimate son of the late clan leader Jin Guangshan, Jin Guangyao's meteoric rise to the position of Chief Cultivator was not without its difficulties. On the surface everything is smooth-sailing for him, but if you look deeper, he was involved in Wei Wuxian's death thirteen years ago... and if you investigate some more, the trail of violence and tragedy doesn't stop there.


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    Tropes A-E 
  • Adaptation Deviation: His sword, Hensheng, is described to be a "soft sword", which makes its function similar to that of a single-bladed urumi. In the manhua, his sword is shown to function like a typical jian instead. However, there is the possibility that Hensheng can function as both a typical sword and as a whip-sword, with its form changing depending on how Jin Guangyao intends to use it at the moment.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Whilst nowhere near to the same degree as his live-action counterpart, the Animated Adaptation does portray Jin Guangyao as more vengeful, especially when it came to his fallout with Nie Mingjue. For a starting example, when he first deceived Nie Mingjue by feigning suicide, Jin Guangyao was bearing a sinister expression on his face before he disappeared. But the kicker is when he decides to accelerate Nie Mingjue's worsening qi deviation to fatal levels right after Nie Mingjue and Nie Huaisang had an argument. As Nie Huaisang mourned over his brother's corpse, the scene then cuts to Jin Guangyao, who sheds a few Crocodile Tears before he starts smiling at the tragic and bloody scene. In the novel, however, whether Jin Guangyao took any pleasure in killing Nie Mingjue or not is left ambiguous.
  • Adults Are Useless: While he was kind and gentle to Jin Ling, there's almost no indication that he did anything to help Jin Ling in his social life, since Jin Ling grew up in Koi Tower and was mentioned a few times to have plenty of trouble getting along with people his age and would often get bullied by the other junior Jin disciples. While he gave his nephew a dog to cheer him up, Jin Guangyao did little else to intervene whenever Jin Ling gets accosted by others. What further implies this is when Wei Wuxian correctly guesses that Jin Guangyao advised Jin Ling to never fight back and always try to get along with others whether he agrees with them or not.
  • Affably Evil: So affable, he takes a moment to have a pleasant chat with Wei Wuxian over his love life, and he's generally this even to his enemies... unless they press a certain Berserk Button, then he becomes Faux Affably Evil.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Wei Wuxian couldn't stop himself from feeling some sympathy for Jin Guangyao and gain some understanding towards his character after using Empathy to look into his past. Jin Ling also mourns his death even after learning of his villainy, because he was still his uncle.
  • Always Second Best: He laments to everyone present at the Guanyin Temple that despite all his efforts he's always one step behind Jin Zixuan solely because of the legitimacy of their births. In the series, this is hinted to be enough drive for him to deliberately kill his half-brother.
  • Ambiguous Situation: There's no doubt that he's the one who caused Nie Mingjue to die from qi deviation. What is doubtful, however, is when he started inducing the effects that would slowly cause said death. Wei Wuxian speculates that it might have been after Nie Mingjue kicked Jin Guangyao down the stairs of Koi Tower and pressed his biggest Berserk Button. When he points this out to Jin Guangyao in the final arc, the latter doesn't affirm or refute Wei Wuxian's statement.
    • The audio drama confirms that Jin Guangyao did start tampering with the Song of Clarity only after the latter kicked him down the stairs and called him the Son of a Whore. Wei Wuxian even noticed during Empathy that he could feel the calming effects of the song at first, but not anymore in the instances Jin Guangyao would play the song after the incident.
  • Ambition Is Evil: It's not hard to see why Jin Guangyao wanted to rise above his origins, but even by the standards of the morally corrupt Jin Clan, the means Jin Guangyao takes to get what he wants is nevertheless reprehensible.
  • Animal Motifs: Foxes. They're known for being cunning creatures, and they symbolize strategy, adaptability, and quick thinking, all of which fit Jin Guangyao to a tee. They can also represent bad omen in ancient China, due to a tale about a fox spirit who took the form of a king's consort and terrorized the king's subjects. While Jin Guangyao isn't a tyrant and has good sense as both a diplomat and a ruler, he didn't become the Chief Cultivator by honest means, and it was his presence that gave Jin Guangshan the opportunity to enact his despicable schemes.
  • An Arm and a Leg: In the final arc, Lan Wangji cuts off Jin Guangyao's right arm to force him to release Jin Ling, whom he was holding hostage. In The Untamed, it's the left arm that goes off instead.
  • At Least I Admit It: Played with. He lies by default about the many things he has either done or has been involved in to avoid getting in trouble, and he will only confess to them once he's cornered and unable to weasel his way out. But even then, he tends to explain or justify his actions in either an attempt to receive mercy or as a coping mechanism. It's only when he's close to his death that he finally drops the sidestepping and bluntly admits to all the people he had killed and how he had committed every atrocity possible, and yet he still uses his admission as a means to induce sympathy and guilt from others.
  • Back Stab: He finished off Wen Ruohan in this manner.
  • Batman Gambit: He's very good at predicting how his opponents would act, and is also a decent judge of character. When he knew that someone was looking into the severed head in his vault, he sticks around to catch the possessed paper doll that was sneaking around, and then quickly invents a plausible excuse and reveals Wei Wuxian's continued existence in the meantime.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: A surefire way to not be the target of his murderous schemes is to look past his origins and, in spite of knowing his past, treat him fairly and kindly. While he will still use you as a pawn in his plans, he'll make sure to spare you.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: He lies so much that there are instances that even he seems to be convinced that some of those lies are actually the truth.
  • Berserk Button: If you value your life, don't bring up in his face how he's a prostitute's son, especially if you mean it as an insult.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: In the finale, the only options left for him are either death or death, and instead of facing his punishment he decides to die on his terms by angering Nie Mingjue's corpse into offing him. After all, Nie Huaisang ensured that Jin Guangyao would not receive the Cruel Mercy of lifetime imprisonment or exile.
  • Big Bad: While not apparent at first, he's revealed to be the biggest thorn in Wei Wuxian's side both then and now.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Jin Guangyao often doted on Nie Huaisang before, and after Nie Mingjue's death, he helped Lan Xichen look after Nie Huaisang and manage some of his problems for him.
  • Birds of a Feather: Jin Guangyao and Xue Yang are almost as thick as thieves despite appearing fundamentally different on the surface. However, they both have more in common than they realize, which is exactly why they get along: they both lived difficult lives and suffered abuse when they were children, leaving them with the desire to turn to sinister or underhanded means to get ahead in life and get revenge on who wronged them. They also highly value self-preservation and have little to no empathy for the sufferings of others; and even in the moments where they do show concern, it's far from enough to deter them into desisting. And while they're capable of caring for someone, they won't hesitate to manipulate, deceive, and sometimes even kill those they care for.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: While he acts polite in the outside, secretly he may be already plotting someone's demise. Even when with the one person he's sincerely courteous to, he still takes advantage of their kindness for his benefit.
  • Blind Obedience: Jin Guangyao acknowledges this, stating that he would follow every order his father gave him no matter what it entailed, all in the hopes of receiving a morsel of Jin Guangshan's approval.
  • Break Them by Talking: He knows how to get to a person with words alone, and with the right phrases, can anger or confuse them. Both Jiang Cheng and Lan Xichen are even repeatedly warned to not listen to anything Jin Guangyao would say, and when they chose to listen despite their better judgement, they get easily wrapped around his finger.
  • Burn Baby Burn: He burned down the brothel where he grew up in, and built a temple over its remains.
  • Cain and Abel: He serves as the Cain to both Jin Zixuan and Qin Su's Abel. While he didn't intend to kill them, his actions indirectly led to their deaths to some capacity.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Nie Mingjue sees Jin Guangyao as this, though not without reason. After leaving the Nie Clan, Jin Guangyao joined the Wens before killing Wen Ruohan during the final battle and then settling down with the Jin Clan. While hopping from one clan to another isn't inherently seen as a crime, it's how he moved from one clan to the next that caught Nie Mingjue's suspicions.
  • Consummate Liar: For Jin Guangyao, lying is as natural as breathing.
  • Crazy-Prepared: He's very careful to leave no trace behind when he's setting a plan in motion. He isn't even afraid of hiding a qin string inside his own body just in case he would be in a situation where he's rendered weaponless.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Nie Huaisang is less of a villain and more of a morally-neutral person with his own intentions. Nevertheless, by killing Nie Mingjue, Jin Guangyao paved way for the one person who would eventually have him taken down.
  • Crocodile Tears: Jin Guangyao can make himself cry at a second's notice if he needs to, even if he's not feeling the emotions that would normally induce the tears he would shed.
  • Deader Than Dead: Besides being killed so gruesomely by Nie Mingjue, both their bodies are kept sealed in a coffin, which is then put through a ritual that would ensure that their souls will never move on to the afterlife, let alone reincarnate.
  • Defiant to the End: Played with. Jin Guangyao chooses to walk to his own death by angering Nie Mingjue's corpse, but he uses his last breath to rant furiously at his former sworn brother.
  • Depending on the Artist: His hairstyle prior to becoming the Chief Cultivator differs in the donghua and manhua, and what makes this notable is that the manhua usually follows the donghua's character designs.
  • Determinator: Nothing and no one will stop him from achieving his goals of attaining power and recognition and fulfill his mother's dying wish of earning his father's favor. Not even shedding blood and betraying and deceiving the people around him are enough to deter him.
  • Desecrating the Dead: He had no problems in cutting up Nie Mingjue's body parts and scattering them to the winds to make sure he can never come back. Unfortunately for him, Nie Huaisang and Wei Wuxian start to piece Nie Mingjue back together.
  • Didn't See That Coming:
    • When he had Jin Zixuan head for Qiongqi Path, he was only planning to use his half-brother's poor relationship with Wei Wuxian to stir up some trouble, but he didn't count on anyone dying. The author even confirmed that this was one of the rare instances when Jin Guangyao didn't orchestrate anyone's death. Nevertheless, Jin Guangyao used Jin Zixuan's death to his advantage.
    • It's easy to miss, but while he's in his paperman form, Wei Wuxian manages to escape Jin Guangyao by using Suibian, something that leaves Jin Guangyao surprised long enough to let Wei Wuxian escape. This is because he knows Suibian is sealed and would only respond to its master; he did not expect Wei Wuxian himself to come back from the dead and pose as a threat to his status and power.
    • His reaction in face of the letter that declares his secret dirty dealings will be revealed is so reckless — arranging for basically the entire cultivation world to be destroyed to avoid reprisal. This act of desperation shows that he never once considered that after all the work he did to cover his tracks, someone could still discover what he did to secure his position in society.
  • The Dog Bites Back:
    • There are instances when he would retaliate anyone who pressed his Berserk Button a bit too much.
    • After he goes through his father's abuse for too long and getting the realization that he'll never truly earn his his approval, he finally snaps and sets up Jin Guangshan's murder in the most poetically ironic way possible.
  • Dramatic Irony: He gets killed by both the man he tried to make sure could never be brought back and Nie Huaisang, who came off as useless without Jin Guangyao's help and who Jin Guangyao also treated as a little brother.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Whether he was working for the Nie Clan or for his father, no matter how hard he worked he would always either be brushed aside, mocked, or have the credit taken from him.
  • Eidetic Memory:
    • He is explicitly stated to have never forgotten a face, along with the preferences, social circumstances and other information of the person behind the face. Naturally, this proves to be extremely useful in building relations in his quest of ascending to power.
    • He's also stated to have never forgotten the contents of anything he might have read. This enables him to copy the techniques from other clans just by looking at them once.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: While being referred to as the Son of a Whore is his largest Berserk Button, he deeply loves his mother and had a shrine built in her honor.
  • Even Evil Can Be Loved: After Lan Xichen learns of Jin Guangyao's true colors, while he's hurt by the latter's breach of his trust, he still can't bring himself to hate his friend. Jin Ling also feels the same way, since Jin Guangyao is still part of his family.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He might have killed several people in his ambition to climb the social ladder of the cultivation world, significant ones being: his father, his wife, his son, his sworn oldest brother Nie Mingjue, his teacher, and was also involved in the death of Jin Zixuan, but the only person that he had never thought about harming was Lan Xichen, because Lan Xichen was the only one who didn't look down on him for being a prostitute's son.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: If there's one immoral thing he's not proud of doing, it's incest. In his defense, he didn't even realize he was committing incest and was horrified to learn that his wife is also his half-sister. While he couldn't reverse what happened, he never touched Qin Su again after finding out.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: The reason Mo Xuanyu got kicked out of the Jin sect was because he was apparently making passes at Jin Guangyao who is married and is basically his half-brother. However, there's the possibility that this was a rumor spun in Jin Guangyao's favor since Mo Xuanyu was known as a notorious cut-sleeve and got rid of him for more personal reasons.
  • Evil Laugh: Evil Chuckle, more accurately. In the live-action series, he does this when Wei Wuxian's real identity gets exposed to the entire cultivation world, and when he holds Wei Wuxian hostage in the Guanyin Temple.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Even though it was Nie Huaisang who tricked Lan Xichen into thinking Jin Guangyao was really attempting something, Jin Guangyao doesn't take it well when Lan Xichen stabs him and argues that the one thing he would never do is hurt Lan Xichen.

    Tropes F-N 
  • The Farmer and the Viper:
    • Lan Xichen befriended him, vouched for him and taught him his techniques and Jin Guangyao betrays him in almost every way, leaving him a broken version of his former self.
    • Nie Mingjue was the one who originally spoke up for and defended Jin Guangyao and it didn't stop Jin Guangyao from killing him. Granted, they had a massive falling out beforehand, but their relationship nevertheless counts for the trope.
  • Fatal Flaw: His desire to attain political power, as well as his need to be acknowledged and accepted by society. Even before he joined the Jin clan, he had already gained the friendship and favor of two major clan leaders. Had he been even a little less ambitious or not as driven to gain his father's approval, he could have led a happy and fulfilled life. It's his insistence on joining the Jin Clan — even though he was more than capable of establishing his own clan or gain a higher standing under the Nie Clan — that leads him down his path. And to rise to the top, he committed crime after crime and buried body after body, all of which horribly backfired on him when someone decided to avenge one of the skeletons he hid in his closet.
  • Freudian Excuse: Horrible and irredeemable many of Jin Guangyao's actions may be, his backstory makes it clear that part of his character is molded from a harsh and rigid society that runs entirely on social standing, and there's no denying the abuse that he suffered all his life due to his status. However, Wei Wuxian and Lan Xichen agree that the hard life Jin Guangyao endured due to his lineage could justify his desire to climb above his rank, but definitely not the actions he took to achieve that goal.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: As mentioned above, Jin Guangyao lived a difficult life simply because his mother worked as a prostitute, which casts a huge shadow over him. However, some people make it clear to him that it is no justification for him to commit crimes in order to elevate his status.
  • Gaslighting: Jin Guangyao is a master at twisting the truth, making excuses and making people doubt themselves until he's convinced them that he's correct.
  • Gone Horribly Right: In a way, entrapping Jin Zixuan to face Wei Wuxian and Wen Ning in Qiongqi Path advanced Jin Guangyao's ambitions, but also led him down the path of no return.
  • Has a Type: Not purely in the romantic sense, but most of the people whom Jin Guangyao was close to and genuinely and deeply cared for (e.g. Meng Shi, Lan Xichen and Qin Su) share one thing in common: naivety.
  • Hated by All: By the time the final arc kicks in, almost everyone from the cultivation world has turned their backs on him after some Awful Truths about him come to light.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Played with. Jin Guangyao knew exactly what kind of person his father is, and yet he thought that he could still gain a bit of Jin Guangshan's favor and affection when even the simplest-minded of people can pick up the hint that his father cared only about his own ambitions and would never care about him. Jin Guangyao would only realize this after he had dug himself too deep.
  • Humiliation Conga: Nie Huaisang made sure that Jin Guangyao will not go down peacefully in every manner possible. First, Nie Huaisang revealed to Jin Guangyao's wife that she's also his half-brother, which caused her to snap and suspect how their son really died... before having another person reveal the same information in public to the other cultivators. Second, he had a prisoner of Jin Guangyao tell the story about Jin Guangshan's murder, causing him to lose whatever good image he had built up of himself in the cultivation world. Lastly, Nie Huaisang dug up the body of Jin Guangyao's mother and had it desecrated... and all of this caused Jin Guangyao to lose Lan Xichen's faith in him before he is killed by Nie Mingjue's corpse.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Putting aside how he had some ambitions of his own, he did most of the heavy-lifting for his father. It leads one to question if Jin Guangshan would have succeeded in taking down Wei Wuxian if he didn't have Jin Guangyao's assistance.
  • Hypocrite: Jin Guangyao's anger and indignation at his friends betraying him is rather rich considering how he destroyed and killed almost everyone who trusted him.
  • I'd Tell You, but Then I'd Have to Kill You: Jin Guangyao insinuates this when Wei Wuxian asks him about what or who he's hiding within the Guanyin Temple, telling the latter that his curiosity comes at a high price.
  • I Have Your Wife: In the Guanyin Temple arc, Jin Guangyao pulls this on Lan Wangji by holding Wei Wuxian in a choke hold with a guqin string. He even straight-up tells Wei Wuxian that he's holding Lan Wangji's "life" in his hands; and by "life", he's referring to Wei Wuxian himself, not Lan Wangji's safety.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Once Jin Guangyao is left with absolutely no more means of escaping, Lan Xichen warns him that he will kill him if he tries anything again... a warning that he carries through with a stab through the chest when Nie Huaisang alerts him. However, Jin Guangyao's response hints that he wasn't doing anything and that Nie Huaisang took Lan Xichen's threat as an opportunity to have Jin Guangyao mortally wounded.
  • I Regret Nothing: If there is one murder that Jin Guangyao absolutely does not regret, it's his father's. Not that it's difficult to see why, given how much of a scumbag his father really is.
    Jin Guangyao: An old stallion that gets in a rut wherever it goes really deserves such a death, doesn't it?
  • It's All About Me: Jin Guangyao is selfish, albeit not without reason. After spending most of his life in an environment where people are at their basest, and being treated badly by almost everyone because of his birth, Jin Guangyao decided to look out for himself first and foremost, which allowed him to be resourceful and resilient. However, his "me against them" mindset also proves to be harmful for both him and the people around him because of how far he's willing to go for his goals and how in his pursuit to get what he wants, he neglects and forgets what he needs and has almost zero regard for who would be affected by his plans.
  • Karmic Death: He gets killed by Nie Mingjue, who he killed years ago. On top of that, his own death was orchestrated by Nie Mingjue's younger brother.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Zigzagged. One can't get mad at him for killing Jin Guangshan, who is responsible for most of the conflict that arose after the end of the Sunshot Campaign. However, the way Jin Guangyao went about his father's murder was less than pleasant, since he forced a group of prostitutes to help him with his plan and then had them all (except for one) killed when he got what he wanted.
  • Kill 'Em All: Attempted. After receiving a letter that threatened to reveal every incriminating secret about him if he doesn't confess first and turn himself in, Jin Guangyao sets up a trap that involved the abduction of the junior cultivators and leaving them in the Burial Mounds, which would cause the senior cultivators to believe that Wei Wuxian was involved in the abduction and storm the Burial Mounds to attempt a second siege at him. By then, Jin Guangyao used the Yin Tiger Seal to sic a massive horde of fierce corpses on the cultivators, and have a lackey of his render majority of the cultivators powerless via Magic Music, which would leave them vulnerable and eventually outnumbered and overpowered — all to ensure that by the time the clans find out the truth and decide to turn against him, they would be too weakened to actually do anything. However, the Second Siege ends without a single casualty.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em:
    • When Jin Guangyao holds Wei Wuxian hostage to keep Lan Wangji at bay, Wei Wuxian decides to throw caution to the wind and loudly declares his feelings for Lan Wangji. Jin Guangyao lets Wei Wuxian go afterwards, partly because of surprise and partly because he realizes that there's no point holding him hostage any longer.
    • After he's horribly maimed and had yet another near-death encounter with Nie Mingjue, Jin Guangyao knows that he no longer either kill or talk his way out. He even accepts Lan Xichen's threat about killing him if he tried something again. Unluckily for him, a certain someone ensures that his concession will not keep him his life.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: He experiences what Wei Wuxian went through after the Sunshot Campaign, from having his 100% Adoration Rating wither away, to getting wounded by the person he trusted most, and finally, to getting torn apart by a fierce corpse — the corpse being someone he murdered, no less. The cherry on top is that he realized too late that the mastermind behind it all is the person he never suspected. The karma factor hits home even more in The Untamed, because in contrast to the novel, the Adaptational Villainy he underwent makes him directly and deliberately responsible for almost everything bad that happened to Wei Wuxian (with the sole exception of the Wen Clan's actions).
  • Laughing Mad: He laughs in despair after he reveals to Lan Xichen the reason he killed Jin Guangshan. In the audio drama, he does it again when he realizes who has been conspiring against him the entire time.
  • Leave No Witnesses: He hired disfigured prostitutes as part of his plan in killing his father, then killed all of them after the deed was done. Only one was spared because Jin Guangyao recognized her from the brothel he used to work at, although he had her locked up.
  • Let's Wait a While: Averted. Out of fear that something might get in the way of their upcoming marriage, Jin Guangyao and Qin Su slept together before they officially tied the knot. This backfired badly on Jin Guangyao after he found out from Madam Qin that he and Qin Su are half-siblings, because Qin Su was already pregnant with their child at the time.
  • Lineage Comes from the Father: Inverted. Everyone ignores the identity of his father and focuses more on how he's the Son of a Whore, which is their favorite insult against him.
  • Lonely at the Top: It's subtle, but it's there. While he had attained the title of Chief Cultivator, which nets everything that he had striven for, the price Jin Guangyao pays is that he can never be safe around anyone. Jin Guangyao may have achieved the rank and recognition he had always sought, but to ensure his safety he has to keep everyone at arm's length and always look behind his shoulder.
    • He has his friendship with Lan Xichen, but he also used his friend for his plans and went behind his back, meaning he can never be completely honest with Lan Xichen lest he shatter the trust the latter has in him.
    • He may be in a peaceful marriage with Qin Su, but he lives with the knowledge that he married and slept with his own half-sister, and there's also the implication of what he may or may not have done to their son.
    • He may have helped raise Jin Ling, but he can never write off his (even if unintended) involvement in the death of Jin Ling's father and consequently, of Jin Ling's mother as well.
    • He has some steadfast allies who know about his true colors and assist him whenever he needs it, but said allies are only very few and he knows that things will quickly go sour as soon as any dirt about him or them becomes public.
  • Made of Iron:
    • It takes a lot of endurance and toughness to still be able to stand — let alone live — after being kicked down the set of stairs of Koi Tower (which isn't a short fall) twice. For emphasis, both times he was kicked from the top of a stairway that was several feet long and high.
    • Taking into consideration every injury he suffered in the Guanyin Temple arc, one will notice that it took a lot to put him down. He first gets severe chemical poisoning on one arm, loses the other arm, gets stabbed through the chest, and then finally gets his neck crushed. He dies only from the very latter.
  • Malicious Misnaming: When he finally gets taken in by the Jin Clan, he's renamed with the prefix "Guang-" from the previous generation even though it would make more sense if he was renamed with the prefix "Zi-" from his half-brother Jin Zixuan's generation. This is invoked on purpose by his father; by not naming him properly, Jin Guangyao wouldn't have a proper place in the official Jin genealogy, meaning he would never be truly considered a member of the Jin Clan.
  • Master Actor: Xue Yang calls him one, and Jin Guangyao proves to be capable of putting up an innocent front or play the fool if needed.
  • Meaningful Name: Jin Guangyao's title means "to hide fragrance", alluding to his two-faced nature.
  • Meaningful Rename: Meng Yao to Jin Guangyao, to symbolize the recognition of him as part of the Jin Clan.
  • Mirror Character: Both he and Jiang Cheng strove to gain their father's approval to little success, and they highly value their standing and reputation in the cultivation world, which has them either commit morally dubious actions to gain more favors or refuse to act in critical situations to save face.
  • The Mole: During the Sunshot Campaign, Jin Guangyao went undercover as a Wen disciple and provided Lan Xichen with vital information from the inside.
  • Morton's Fork:
    • In his words, in the Xue Yang case he was faced between his father (who doesn't care about his feelings and had him thrown him down the stairs of Koi Tower when Jin Guangyao first arrived to ask him for aid) and his sworn brother (who insulted him to his face and also kicked him down the stairs of Koi Tower). Jin Guangyao killed Nie Mingjue first, and killed Jin Guangshan later.
    • He was also in a tight spot regarding his marriage with Qin Su. After going through a lot of effort to allow their marriage to happen, the day before the wedding Jin Guangyao was approached by Qin Su's mother and told that he and Qin Su are actually half-siblings. He then had to choose: either he marries his already-pregnant half-sister even while fully aware of the Awful Truth of their relationship, or he breaks off the marriage for morality's sake but attract political trouble that would humiliate him, Qin Su and her family in the long run. He went with the former.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: By default, he resorts to murder if forced into circumstances beyond his control, and then running away once things get too hot.
  • Naughty Birdwatching: Inverted; the birdwatching is the complete opposite of titillating, since Jin Guangyao is watching his father slowly suffer from Death by Sex.
  • Neck Snap: How he meets his demise, with an undead Nie Mingjue doing the deed.
  • Never My Fault: Zigzagged. His response when called out on many of his immoral or less ethical actions is "I had no choice!". There are some times when he's not completely wrong; but other times, he's just trying to shirk responsibility. However, he may also genuinely believe that he really has no other choice and was never able to realize that he actually does.
  • Nice Hat: A gauze hat, to be specific, or as better known in China, a futou (but without the wing flaps). One can only wonder if he wore it to appear taller, since while he's not short by general standards, he's still the shortest adult male character in the story.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!:
    • He placed a title deed from Yunping City next to Nie Mingjue's head, which allows Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji to go there and help thwart his attempt to escape to Dongying (Japan).
    • Whether or not it would have affected his plans is up for debate, but he nevertheless patched things up for the protagonists by hinting to Wei Wuxian about Lan Wangji's feelings for him.
  • Nice, Mean, and In-Between: On the surface, Jin Guangyao seems to be the Nice one of Jin Ling's uncles, since he pampers him and treats him with a gentler hand than Jiang Cheng. However, the final arc reveals that he's actually the Mean one since he didn't hesitate to hold his nephew hostage, whether or not he genuinely loved Jin Ling. It didn't help that he, even if inadvertently and indirectly, still caused Jin Zixuan's death, which eventually led to Jiang Yanli's as well, leaving Jin Ling an orphan.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Jin Guangyao spared Sisi, even though she's a prime witness in his indirect murder of Jin Guangshan, because she was the only prostitute who showed kindness to him and his mother. This would backfire on him when Sisi gets rescued and she tells her story to the other clans, which hastens his downfall.
  • Nothing Personal: While he had a hand in Wei Wuxian's downfall in the past and is his greatest enemy at present, neither of the two harbor any personal grudges towards the other. Jin Guangyao only became Wei Wuxian's enemy since he was trying everything to please his father, who plotted against Wei Wuxian to further his own ambitions; but otherwise both lacked any history together and Wei Wuxian never personally offended Jin Guangyao even once, which is a surefire way to get into Jin Guangyao's hit-list.
  • Not Me This Time: Played with. While his sending of Jin Zixuan to Qiongqi Path ended with his half-brother's death, he never planned for it to happen. However, Jin Guangyao still used Jin Zixuan's death to his advantage.
  • Not So Above It All: Not even Jin Guangyao is immune to being dumbstruck by Wei Wuxian's loud confession to Lan Wangji. since the former, while being held hostage, basically shouted that he wanted to have sex with Lan Wangji. In a Buddhist temple, mind you.

    Tropes O-Z 
  • Offing the Offspring: Implied. After Jin Guangyao found out that he and his wife are half-siblings, he feared that Jin Rusong would show mental defects when he grew up, which would make it obvious that that his child is born of inbreeding. While the circumstances remain dubious of the role he truly played (or otherwise) in his son's death, Jin Guangyao tells Qin Su that their son had to die, and he tells Lan Xichen later on that he carries his son's death with him, showing that he feels responsible one way or another.
  • Pater Familicide: As he himself had admitted, he murdered his father, his wife, and his son.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Everything regarding Jin Guangyao's treatment of Lan Xichen is this, as he helped Lan Xichen in his time of need purely out of altruism and without any ulterior motive.
    • Even he can't help but sympathize with Lan Wangji's pining for Wei Wuxian, although that may just be because Everyone Can See It that badly.
    • One could argue that it was part of his plot in enraging and killing Nie Mingjue, but Jin Guangyao showed kindness to Nie Huaisang, encouraging and defending his interests in calligraphy, poetry, and the like. Unfortunately, this no longer mattered to Nie Huaisang when he found out about what Jin Guangyao did, and responds by plotting a long-term plan that would result in Jin Guangyao's ruin and death.
    • Jin Guangyao gifted Fairy to Jin Ling when he saw that his nephew was feeling lonely; although in the Guanyin Temple arc, he has no qualms ordering his men to kill the dog when it's threatening to become a nuisance to his plans.
    • Jin Guangyao isn't a Bad Boss, but even in spite of his conniving and deceitful nature, he seems to genuinely care for Su She and treats as a friend instead of a tool he could easily discard. He also extended the same courtesy to Xue Yang.
  • Plain Jane: Played with. In the novel, Wei Wuxian comments that Jin Guangyao has a "cheap" face that's neither handsome enough to rouse envy but also not ugly enough to be offended at. However, Wei Wuxian is an Unreliable Narrator and in most other adaptations Jin Guangyao could be argued to be fairly handsome.
  • Playing the Victim Card: By default, Jin Guangyao resorts to painting himself as the wronged party whenever he gets caught red-handed. Though more often than not, he genuinely believes that he is a victim who did what he had to do in order to survive.
  • Power Copying: To an extent. See Eidetic Memory above.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • While he doesn't exactly cuss when he mentions how Jin Guangshan deserved to die the way he did, his choice of words are notably and uncharacteristically vulgar, considering how polite and well-spoken he normally is.
    • His last words have him shouting an actual profanity at Nie Mingjue. While what he said ("我肏你妈!") literally translates to "I'll fuck your mother!", the context of the phrase also runs along the lines of either "Fuck you!", "You son of a bitch!", or "You motherfucker!".
  • Properly Paranoid: Jin Guangyao always looked over his shoulder, making sure to cover up all his tracks and that no witnesses were left. However, because of his arrogance and a few slip-ups, he starts becoming more paranoid of being found out.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: He orchestrated his father's death by tying him up, hiring prostitutes and forcing them to have sex with him even after his father dies... before killing the prostitutes to Leave No Witnesses.
  • Real Men Can Cook: While he doesn't do it anymore, Jin Guangyao is good at housework due to the years he spent working in a brothel. He even did Lan Xichen's laundry while the latter was hiding from the Wens because Lan Xichen Does Not Know His Own Strength and accidentally tore his clothes when he tried to wash them on his own.
  • Revenge Myopia: Played with. When he realizes that Nie Huaisang has been plotting revenge against him the entire time, Jin Guangyao is enraged as if he was wronged for no good reason. Even when accounting his combative relationship and terrible history with Nie Mingjue, it only makes sense that Nie Huaisang would want to act against the person who killed his brother. However, he may also have been completely shocked that the culprit behind his downfall is the person he least expected.
  • Selective Obliviousness: When Jin Guangyao tells Lan Xichen that's the only person he's never thought of hurting, he neglects to reflect on the fact that he harmed, be it directly or indirectly, almost everyone else dear to Lan Xichen, including his other sworn brother and his younger brother.
  • Self-Made Orphan: He didn't kill his mother, no. His father, on the other hand...
  • Seven Deadly Sins: Jin Guangyao fulfilled (technically or intentionally) the Ten Abominations — a legal code established during imperial China that lists the worst transgressions a person could ever commit in life.
  • Slave to PR: This is both a strength and a weakness of Jin Guangyao. On one hand, Jin Guangyao's need for recognition drives him to outperform his half-siblings and seize control of the Jin Clan, rising to get the highest position of Chief Cultivator amongst the cultivator families. On the other hand, his need to maintain his power, if not his good reputation in the cultivation world, drives him to several unscrupulous acts which eventually come back to bite him in the ass.
  • The Social Expert: Jin Guangyao is an expert with words and knows just what to say to simultaneously please the crowd and manipulate the situation to his favor.
  • The Sociopath: Jin Guangyao can easily qualify as one. He's ruthless in his quest for power yet can appear perfectly harmless and approachable to everyone around him; he can do several kinds of crimes without flinching; and he has a penchant for deceiving and manipulating both ally and enemy alike. That being said, he doesn't have a huge ego nor has he exhibited the inability to feel love or any other emotion. All in all, he's a man who can feel emotions and can care for people; it's just that he's more than willing to get his hands dirty to achieve his personal goals. The author also stated that he's more of a psychopath than a sociopath according to an interview.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: Played with. He almost never raises his voice even in his colder and shadier moments, but it wouldn't be accurate to describe him as an outright sadist.
  • Son of a Whore: His mother was a prostitute whom Jin Guangshan favored for a while, but promptly got bored of. His origins have attracted a lot of belittlement and ridicule from others.
  • Speed, Smarts and Strength: With Lan Xichen and Nie Mingjue.
  • The Spock: This is his role among the Venerated Triad. If Lan Xichen is the mediator, Jin Guangyao goes by logic and pragmatism and acts after planning ahead, in contrast to Nie Mingjue who has a Black-and-White Morality and is and the most temperamental of the three.
  • Staircase Tumble: Jin Guangyao has a terrible history of being kicked down the stairs.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: He seems to greatly resemble his mother, since many assume that the statue in the Guanyin Temple to be modeled after his likeness, though Wei Wuxian speculates that it's actually modeled after his mother's.
  • Surprise Incest: Thanks to Jin Guangshan's womanizing ways, resulting in a very Big, Screwed-Up Family and Jin Guangyao's wife also being his half-sister.
  • Taking Advantage of Generosity: While Jin Guangyao genuinely cares for Lan Xichen, it doesn't stop him from using their friendship to either further his plans or receive protection from someone's suspicions. By the time the final arc rolls in, he has already pushed his luck too far.
  • Taking You with Me: He attempts to have Nie Mingjue's corpse kill both him and Lan Xichen, but in the last second he pushes Lan Xichen out of the way, leaving only him to die.
  • Technically a Smile: Jin Guangyao is almost always seen smiling politely to give a cordial front, but that smile is rarely, if ever, sincere.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: There's an element of this trope in Jin Guangyao's behavior. Everyone expects him be up to no good because he's a prostitute's son. This negative attitude pushes Jin Guangyao to be evil and betray everyone because nothing he does is viewed in a good light so he might as well take the easy path and get something out of it.
  • Torture Technician: When he was infiltrating the Wen Clan as a spy, Jin Guangyao crafted all sorts of torture devices to get himself in Wen Ruohan's good graces. He keeps some of them in his secret chamber in Koi Tower.
  • Tranquil Fury: Even when he's legitimately pissed off, he still puts on a smile and talks as gently and articulately as possible. He only loses the tranquil bit in his final moments.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: As much of a cunning chessmaster he is, Jin Guangyao never foresaw how killing Nie Mingjue would lead to Nie Huaisang finding out what he did and consequently conducting a plan of his own to bring down Jin Guangyao until he had nothing left.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: When Wei Wuxian looks into Jin Guangyao's past days working in a brothel, he (and the reader) sees that Jin Guangyao wasn't always the ruthless backstabber he is now.
  • The Usurper: Technically, Jin Ling has more priority in inheritance than Jin Guangyao, and would have automatically inherited the clan leadership after Jin Guangshan died. However, no one in their right mind would let a baby be the clan leader, and it was always understood though that Jin Ling is the true heir and Jin Guangyao is merely acting as a stand-in for Jin Zixuan.
  • Villain Has a Point:
    • He's at least half-right when he argued to Nie Mingjue that one's standing in life determines how valid others find their actions and words to be, and it's easier for people with enough money and/or authority to get away with what they say or do compared to those who have no such privileges.
    • He's not exactly wrong when he tells Lan Xichen that no matter what he achieves, regardless of the means he would employ, it would all be ignored and disregarded simply because he's the Son of a Whore.
    • The lookout tower network he proposed, scattered around remote places of the land, has had notable results to deal with supernatural threats in remote places, as well as provide clean-up after handling those threats. Even if the cultivators who came wanted something in return while the locals were too poor to give them any, the money that the Jin Clan gathered throughout each year would be enough to support them. This policy however invited suspicion that the Jin Clan used it to gain personal benefits and stuff its own pockets. The Yi City case also proved that the lookout tower policy required expansion, if criminals like Xue Yang managed to evade detection for so long (though it should be noted that Jin Guangyao helped to hide Xue Yang as an extra revealed that they were working together).
    • The part where Jin Guangyao claims that Wei Wuxian's death was inevitable is murky, since majority of what happened to him after the Sunshot Campaign was due to the Jin Clan's influence. However, Jin Guangyao still raises a valid point in the climax when he tells Wei Wuxian that no matter what action Wei Wuxian would make, the cultivation clans would always come to see him as an enemy.
      Jin Guangyao: (to Wei Wuxian) At best, you're the untamed hero; at worst, you offend people wherever you go. Unless all those whom you've offended lived their lives safely, as soon as something happened to them or someone did something to them, the first person they suspect would be you and the first person they seek revenge on would also you. And this is something you have no control over.
    • Jin Guuangyao points out that Jiang Cheng didn't help matters with Wei Wuxian as he allowed his pride, envy, and insecurities to strain his relationship with his shixiong, whereas if he had trusted his old friend more, then Wei Wuxian would have been nigh untouchable. While he said it mainly as retaliation to Jiang Cheng calling him a Son of a Whore, his words are so cutting that Jiang Cheng has no rebuttal to spare.
      Jin Guangyao: (to Jiang Cheng) Clan Leader Jiang, if only your attitude towards your shixiong was just a bit better, showing everyone that your bond was too strong to be broken for them to have a chance, or if you exhibited just a bit more tolerance after what happened, things wouldn't have become what they were.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Averted for the most part in the final arc, where he stays calm even as he gets cornered without any way to talk or kill his way out of it. It's only when Lan Xichen stabs him that he starts going off the rails; the audio drama even has him ranting, laughing and screaming like a madman.
  • Villainous Incest: Played with. Jin Guangyao had genuine feelings for Qin Su, so one can imagine the horror when he finds out just days before the wedding that she's his half-sister. He proceeded to marry her anyway because he needed the connections and power the marriage brought, but he never slept with her again... except she was already a few months pregnant by then. Suspiciously, their son died not long after.
  • Villains Want Mercy: He admits to always wanting sympathy from others when confronted about his true character. It's even his character quote.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Jin Guangyao's good standing in the cultivation world briefly becomes a problem for Wei Wuxian. Thanks to Nie Huaisang's machinations, by the finale Jin Guangyao was Hated by All instead.
  • Wants a Prize for Basic Decency: He's furious at Lan Xichen's betrayal because Jin Guangyao genuinely cared for him and was one of the few people he never thought of killing. Which conveniently ignores the fact that he still treated Lan Xichen like a pawn and betrayed him in almost every other way.
  • Weak, but Skilled: His cultivation isn't nearly as high as most of the other characters', but he has his Eidetic Memory and he knows how to fight both smart and dirty.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: He did all kinds of things to impress his biological father and be formally accepted into the Jin family, but to no avail. This eventually led him to kill Jin Guangshan.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Believe it or not, Jin Guangyao and Nie Mingjue had an amicable relationship in the past. Jin Guangyao looked up to Nie Mingjue, who would defend him from anyone who talked badly of him, and even tried to recommend him to the Jin Clan. However, things soured really quickly when Nie Mingjue came upon Jin Guangyao murdering his superior in cold blood.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Albeit not directly.
    • It's unknown whether it was really his plan to push Qin Su into committing suicide or it was merely an unprecedented event that he nevertheless used to his advantage. However, he admits in his final moments that his wife is one of the many he had killed, which means that whether fatally or non-fatally, he planned to ensure his wife's silence in some way.
    • He also ordered the death of an entire clan in the Villainous Friends extra, and the audio drama showed that the clan has both men and women in it. Even in the main story, it was mentioned that he also annihilated another clan after a member of said clan (allegedly) murdered Jin Rusong.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • He is implied to have murdered his own son, and while he cares for Jin Ling, he was all too willing to take his nephew hostage to keep the others from attacking him.
    • The main objective for his plans in staging the Second Siege is to kill off most of the leading figures in the cultivation world, and it was likely that he counted on the junior cultivators (whom he had ordered his henchmen to abduct and leave in the Burial Mounds as "bait") to be part of the casualties.
    • In the Villainous Friends extra, he indirectly killed off a clan that had people of all sorts of ages, including but not limited to, children.
  • Xanatos Gambit: He's the victim of a meticulous and long-term plan executed by Nie Huaisang.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Jin Guangyao isn't the one masterminding the events of the novel and is in fact playing damage control, trying to figure out and navigate a plot against him. Nevertheless, he does a pretty good job up until he's finally out-gambitted.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: He sees his marriage to Qin Su as something that he hoped to be one of the few good things in his life, only to realize that it's far from the truth. Not that it's hard to see why he thinks this way, since when he thought that he finally had everything going for him by getting married to the love of his life, he's suddenly informed by his bride-to-be's mother that he and Qin Su are brother and sister.

    Tropes that apply to Jin Guangyao in The Untamed only
Click here  to see Jin Guangyao before he joined the Jin Clan
Click here  to see Jin Guangyao as a child

  • Adaptational Early Appearance: He's first introduced in the flashback when he accompanied Nie Huaisang to the gift-giving ceremony in the Cloud Recesses and met Lan Xichen long before the Sunshot Campaign began.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Jin Guangyao is the Big Bad in all adaptations. But devious as he was in the novel, he's ten times more malicious in the series, turning from Affably Evil (with the affable part only slipping at certain circumstances) to straight-up Faux Affably Evil; oftentimes acting smug, cruel, and sadistic and crosses many more lines than he ever did in the novel. If anything, even Xue Yang is A Lighter Shade of Black compared to him.
    • He never planned Jin Zixuan's death, which the author had confirmed; but in the series he deliberately manipulated the events at Qiongqi Path so that Jin Zixun would accuse Wei Wuxian of cursing him and Wen Ning would kill both him and Jin Zixuan, with Wei Wuxian taking the blame for everything. He may as well have intentionally masterminded all the other events where Wei Wuxian would serve as The Scapegoat, and also acted with the intention of bringing down Wei Wuxian himself even before his father started to have the same intentions.
    • He already started poisoning Nie Mingjue long before Nie Mingjue kicked him down the stairs of Koi Tower, and took sadistic delight in informing Nie Mingjue of what he did to him before watching him succumb to qi deviation. The spin-off film Fatal Journey makes him worse by having him teach Nie Huaisang the altered Song of Clarity, falsely informing him that it will help his brother calm down whenever his temper gets bad. Unfortunately for him, this is also how Nie Huaisang finds him out.
    • In the novel, he learned that Qin Su is actually his half-sister after he slept with her, but married her anyway because of the fallout that would occur if he suddenly backed out; although he never touched her again afterwards. In the series, he never slept with Qin Su prior to their marriage, and when he learned the truth he went ahead with the marriage and then consummated said marriage even while fully knowing that he would bear her an inbred son that he (likely) would eventually have killed.
    • When he holds Jin Ling hostage in the final arc, in the novel he's careful not to wound him with the qin string and assured everyone that if they let him leave, Jin Ling will be returned to them unharmed. He only started to hurt Jin Ling, albeit completely unintentionally, when he panicked from seeing Nie Mingjue reanimated corpse. The live-action drama has him pull a similar move, except that he's also slowly and deliberately injuring Jin Ling to the point that any later and the latter might have died from a Slashed Throat.
  • Advertised Extra: In the main series, he is one of the major villains. But while he also plays an important role in Fatal Journey, his screentime in the spinoff movie runs up to five minutes at best, even though he's featured in plenty of the film's promotional posters and trailers.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Averted; while the novel leaves it vague on when exactly Jin Guangyao started playing the Song of Clarity wrong (besides dropping a few hints that still never explicitly confirm anything), in the series, Jin Guangyao starts doing it long before Nie Mingjue kicked him down the stairs.
  • Ax-Crazy: His live-action incarnation is this due to Adaptational Villainy, although it doesn't show up until the final arc. When he tells Wei Wuxian why compassionate and selfless people like him are bound to have short lives and lays into Jiang Cheng about how he failed to trust his brother, his physical and verbal mannerisms are rather unhinged and wild. Contrast that with how cold yet composed he gives said speeches in the audio drama, and the audience can get the hint that, at least in the series, Jin Guangyao is only wearing a Mask of Sanity and he (or at least part of him) has some deep-seated mental issues that were left unchecked.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Even ten times moreso than his novel incarnation, since he's already gleefully plotting someone's humiliation, downfall, and/or death towards almost anybody who so slightly crosses his path or gets in the way of his goals even as he acts formal and friendly towards them.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: In the novel, he's killed by a zombified Nie Mingjue via a Neck Snap before being buried alongside him. In the series, he gets crushed by falling debris when Nie Mingjue's spirit causes the Guanyin Temple to collapse.
  • Freak Out: He has a massive one in when Wei Wuxian forces him to see apparitions of the people he previously killed.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: It's implied that the reason Jin Guangyao really has it out for Wei Wuxian in the adaptation has something to do with both envy and spite.
  • Kubrick Stare: He gives a lot of these, especially at the moment when people turn their backs on him. This is to further emphasize his double-dealing nature.
  • Large Ham: He has his moments. In the novel, he's much more calm and subdued, but in the live-action drama, there are times when he talks and acts in an overly punctuated and dramatic fashion.
  • Never Found the Body: His corpse isn't seen after the Guanyin Temple crumbles down and caves in on him, but the disappearance of the final scar on Wei Wuxian's arm proves that Jin Guangyao is truly dead.
  • Nice Hat: He still wears a gauze hat in the adaptation, although The Untamed provides a backstory behind the hat: he was given a similar one by his mother when he was little.
  • Nothing Personal: In the novel, the only reason Wei Wuxian and Jin Guangyao are even enemies is because of their conflicting goals and motives despite having no personal enmity with each other. But in the series, while they still don't have any history together, the Adaptational Villainy given to Jin Guangyao's character made him take delight in making Wei Wuxian suffer, regardless of whether he worked for his father or for himself.
  • Obviously Evil: His crafty and scheming side is visibly more overt in the series whereas it's shown in a subdued manner in the other adaptations.
  • Psychotic Smirk: He pulls these off a few times when he sees that things are going according to his plan, and in a few instances, even sports a Slasher Smile.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: Unlike in the novel, Jin Guangyao is portrayed as someone who enjoys inflicting suffering on others either through Breaking Speeches or one of his schemes. Sometimes, he would outright ditch the soft-spoken part and raise his voice as his cold-blooded side rears its head more and more.
  • Tranquil Fury: Subverted, compared to how he acts in the novel and in the other adaptations. While he tries his best to keep his composure, his face visibly stiffens or contorts when he's angered, with the crowning example being his reaction when Jiang Cheng calls him the Son of a Whore.


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