Through the Cracks Ch2 bit – Hard Choices

I am not running, Kerowyn told the little prickle running up and down her spine as she left the room. I’m just leaving, I’m not running….

:I notice you’re not saying you’re not scared,: Sayvel pointed out.

:Hells, yes, I’m scared,: Kero shot back, shutting the outer door behind her. :That man’s death on two feet, just as much as Tarma ever was, and he doesn’t trust me yet. Can’t say I blame him, either. If he did what I think he did to stop that Final Strike – I can think of half a dozen Heralds who would have run him through then and there.:

:You’re right,: Sayvel admitted. :We like to think we know about expediency, but-:

:You get spoiled, here in Valdemar,: Kero finished, pulling on her boots. :We’re so good at our job, we Heralds, we tend to catch bad problems before they get worse. And the hard choices usually end with us deciding to die.: A wry smile bent her lips as she walked to the courtyard well. :And here’s someone who knows about hard choices.: “Healer Gensai.”

Pouring out water into a carry-bucket for his herb garden in the thin light before dawn, Gensai straightened. “I thought you might not be finished yet, Herald-Captain.”

Start small, Kerowyn told herself. “I’d be interested in knowing just what happened between those two youngsters.” She gave him a knowing look. “Given that, if I was hearing those curses right, Himura has a strong suspicion you’re responsible.”

“No more than that poor young man is himself, staying on the road alone so many years,” Gensai said matter-of-factly, glancing over the garden to plot out just how many buckets he’d need. “You should have seen his clan-channels. Knotted up like old rope! I’ve seen some ronin in bad shape down the years, but-” The Healer caught her narrowed eyes, and shrugged. “He was an accident waiting to happen, Weaponsmaster. I thought it’d be best if he happened here.”

“Not good enough,” Kero said flatly. “That’s a Herald in there, Gensai. My student. Now what in all the hells is a clan-channel?


36 thoughts on “Through the Cracks Ch2 bit – Hard Choices

  1. And here comes the ‘fun’ parts of fantasy cross-cultural communications. Probably to varying shades of “You don’t have those? How can you not have those, that’s insane!”

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Again, Kero is probably the best person for this. She was, functionally, finished and formed by a Clan environment. And her mother got in the eddies of it, and yes she was a child of the city, but no matter how much you try you can’t erase the family in your bones. She also was probably taught by her cousins and Clan what that means. She knows Clan living. And she knows Tarma’s story. She knows what happens when Clan is ripped away.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I predict it is the my student thing that will tip it for Gensai. Because that, the you are either doing something or know something about what is happening to my student, I want to know what and I will find that out one way or another, he will get.

    I also predict that Kerowyn is due for a headache at realizing just how much of a Gordonian knot she is dealing with – especially when she realizes she has to actually unravel at least part of the darned thing instead of cut it and be done with it. (We are probably going to have to find her something she can solve by the expedient of cutting it into bitty pieces because she is probably going to want to slice something before this is over if no other reason than frustration relief.)

    Good point about how Valdemar is usually on problems before they become big problems and how that can affect their view on problem solving and appropriate decisions . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’ll definitely be a major factor, yes. Gensai definitely gets that – and since his family and Kaoru’s have been friends a long time, he does want her happy.

      And yes. One of the things I like about the Friends Across Borders fic is it doesn’t avoid the fact that in Karse, a Firestarter has done horrible things. Because his situation was not like a Herald’s in Valdemar, he had to make the best of some very bad choices, and… yeah. Whoof.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Because his situation was not like a Herald’s in Valdemar, he had to make the best of some very bad choices, and… yeah.

        Yeah, a whole big load of “There were no good choices. There is only bad choices, terrible choices, and soul-destroying choices. I picked the ones that were the least awful and that I could still live with myself afterward.”

        It sucks to know that literally no matter what you do, something awful is going to happen – quite possibly to someone who doesn’t deserve it one little bit. Nobody should have make those decisions.

        I can understand wanting to believe that there is always a better way, that you can always find that better way. I can understand not wanting to believe those circumstances exist. Unfortunately there isn’t always and sometimes even when there is, you aren’t given enough time or resources for it.

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      2. Heaven help Valdemar if the Merciful Goddess ever conspires with the Star-Eyed!

        You must admit, that might give any sense of complacency in Valdemar a swift kick up the backside. Because if there is one thing that particular group is good for, it is shaking things up and demolishing the status quo.

        And now the bunnies are speculating about who else in the mutliverse, either as their canon selves or alternate universe counterparts, would utterly destroy the status quo in Valdemar and make life more interesting than usual for the Heralds . . . (along with appropriate challenges for our heroes because they won’t want anyone to get bored . . .)

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Ooo dear. *Amused* The bunnies point out that the Empire is quite east of Valdemar, and they could so see the Sanzo-ikkou heading all the way through it on their way past to get to some mess in what’s effectively the middle of Hawkbrother territory….

        Though, would have to come up with an equivalent for 1) youkai, 2) the Calamity, 3) something Sanzo could be armed with that doesn’t require gunpowder – bunnies really think Firestarter fits him, but maybe Mage would be better, or some unique twist on Fetching, 4) Hakuryuu/Jeep.

        Bunnies, I’m not doing a story without more justification than “It’d be amusing to see Sanzo head right through Valdemar giving the white horses headaches.”

        Liked by 2 people

      4. I’ve been having all sorts of Valdemar bunnies following this.

        Megacity One Judges. (Because Kerberos Panzer Cops, Gunslinger Girl, and Dominion Tank Police don’t really fit. )

        Liked by 1 person

      5. IIRC Hakuryuu in the standard Journey novel was a dragon that turned into a white horse. There’s got to be more than one entity in Velgarth that can put entities into white horse shaped bodies. “This isn’t a Companion, it is a genuine White Demon, and I am a Demon Rider, not a Herald.”

        The Rider of the White Steed was an archer, and archers have a certain association with plague and poison. At least for the Greeks.

        This is a really misleading time to mention that I’ve been recalling the English opening song of Spider Riders ‘Calling All Spider Riders’, and making the change to ‘Calling All Demon Riders’. (Said opening didn’t sound as good as I’d remembered it.)

        I figure that the big bad of Velgarth history had Saiyuki’s big bad’s corpse sealed underneath his palace, and that when Valdemar killed the former for good, they unsealed the later.

        Liked by 3 people

      6. …And now my bunnies are picturing Sanzo being mistaken for a Herald. White robes, white horse… infuriated priest….

        Whose temper is not all smoothed by the fact that three idiots find the comparison absolutely hilarious and keep snickering. Even Hakkai can’t stifle his chuckles every time it happens. And it happens a lot.

        Someone, he decided, was responsible for this. It might be the Hag. It might have someone else. It could have been many people. Regardless he was going to find out who they were and they were going to pay.

        Liked by 2 people

      7. Though, practically speaking, the Heralds would get word about this not-a-Herald very, very quickly. Mindspeaking’s useful for that.

        The Heralds, yes.

        Jane and Joe Q. Public? Perhaps not.

        So maybe it’s not the Heralds, it’s just about everyone else who is doing it. (Some of the Heralds aren’t exactly thrilled with the comparison either.)

        Liked by 1 person

      8. And that’d be part of the trickiness of the cross – figuring out something that could happen/show up in Valdemar hunting Sanzo without the Heralds having already dealt with it. Because ow.

        Maybe the effects of the Calamity?

        It doing something that is big enough that Heralds are at least a little overwhelmed and therefore not quite as on the ball about stomping out that kind of nonsense as they usually are?

        Might be part of what makes this crisis so scary so that usually before something big happens, they get more people Chosen and those Chosen are trained in time to deal with the mess but not this time . . .

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      9. Why not have the Calamity in question be a side-effect of the Mage Storms? I know I am /not/ the most up to date on Valdemar’s canon/timeline, but the Mage Storms waking something like Gyu-Ma-Oh is a little too worryingly possible.

        Heck, his presence can be something that the Heralds and the rest of Valdemar haven’t noticed because it’s in Hawkbrother territory and one or more of the other clans have been dealing with the side effects without involving the Heralds.

        As for the Yokai equivalent and who’s affected by the Calamity, call it the Gifted. Valdemar/the Heralds haven’t been affected because of the presence or even direct interference of the Star-Eyed and her Companions. Heck, the Sanzo-Ikkou arriving just now, in time to deal with Calamity as it intensifies and Valdemar and their /Heralds/ start being affected are probably a sign of collusion between the Star-Eyed goddess and the Merciful Goddess.

        And having Nataku and Gyu-Ma-Oh is actually a great way to include actually evil gods.

        Ooh… If the effect starts with the Mage-Storms and that was a few years ago, then the Sanzo-Ikkou would be arriving… shortly after/around the same time as Through the Cracks is set… You could always make it so the Yokai and Hanyou are also affected. It’d explain sone of the extra bloody chaos of the rebellion that inspired the Yamatoans to flee.

        Heck, the reason they landed so close might have been the Star-Eyed messing with their landing to make sure that in spite of their closeness to Gyu-Ma-Oh’s grave they wouldn’t be affected by the Calamity. And I’m also imagining Kanzeon, the Star-Eyed, and the canon good gods as part of a small small faction in Heaven working to counter whoever the evil god behind the resurrection of Gyu-Ma-Oh is… Bunnies /are/ evil.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hurrah for the idea of a Valdemar/Saiyuki cross-over. I love Saiyuki.

    Velgarth has all these non-human “other” sentients wandering around – Kree, Griffins…I can’t remember the rest of the list…the Youkai should fit right in. Heck, they could come out of Iftel (that secret kingdom) or just replace those non-humans who are not God-touched like the Companions or Firecats. Sanzo in Valdemar would be extraordinarily funny, partially from the chaos, partially from their brand of “Good is not nice,” and partially because the Maten is a bigger gun than even Firestorm. And wouldn’t that be a shock to Firestorm! I see a problem with numbers though. While Sanzo could probably go toe to toe with an adept, I doubt he could handle 5.

    I just read Blades of Blood and Witchy Woman for the first time over the weekend (Wonderful! Thank you!) Kenshin sounds like he’s enough of a chaos bringer.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I vote Sanzo came through Iftel. Hence Valdemar not getting enough warning….

      Amusingly, Karse might have been warned. Possibly along the lines of “Don’t even try it, you’ll just tick him off….”

      And, hmm. Yeah, I’d have to figure out exactly what Sanzo and the others could do in the Velgarth setting before I know what the Ikkou can face off with!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Another interesting wrinkle is that the Companions seem to be able to recognize the holy, at least if you go by the scenes in the Tarma/Kethry books when Tarma and Kethry cross paths with the Valdemar heir Roald. Tarma asks the Star-Eyed if she can actually trust the heralds and the Star-Eyed herself responds. Then Roald’s companion goes to the Star-Eyed’s side (say that fast 3 times). The cognitive dissonance between the heralds and Sanzo if the Companions refuse to engage BUT DON’T SAY WHY would be very funny. Those horsies keep a lot of secrets.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. True. But (oddly enough) I think Karal and his Firecat would get along with Sanzo just fine…Sanzo is pretty feline after all. Stop. I do not want to go down this path, I do not want to go down this path, I have way way way too much to do…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sanzo. Firecat.

      …Bunnies, I admire your creativity. You just pulled out of the short stories that Talia qualifies as a priest of Vkandis (the Unsubtle) in white and blue. So it’s quite possible that there might be a Kanzeon/Goddess priest just as mean as any Firestarter….

      Liked by 1 person

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