Yesterday completely and amazingly blew up in my face. No serious harm was done, but I am completely impressed by Murphy and human incompetence combining forces to reach all-new lows.
So. You get a short bit of the crossover fic I’ve been working on while my brain has jammed on other stuff due to Why Murphy Why.
A Long Road
Ch 1: Wishes and Horses
“Riding horses is so slow.”
Gold eyes flicked at him, distinctly unimpressed. Guiding his chestnut mare with his knees, Nie Huaisang swept his fan in front of his face as if to ward that Lan gaze off.
Riding beside and a little behind him, like the proper bodyguard he wasn’t, Nie Zonghui snorted. Apparently the long weeks had left him fluent enough in stoic Lan to know Lan Wangji was only exasperated, not an active threat. Not that Zonghui couldn’t have drawn both sabers in a heartbeat and gone for the throat if things had changed.
Huaisang huffed, squashing a thoroughly childish urge to pick at the silver threads lacing his forest-green Nie robes. There was no reason his elder brother should have robbed himself of his right-hand man just to guard silly, frivolous Nie Huaisang on a mere diplomatic trip. Yes, he was the clan heir, but….
Well. No buts. He was the clan heir. This was a long trip, outside the familiar lands of the sects, or even the exotic nomad-covered plains. He needed a guard with him. Or his brother would worry.
And the length of several kingdoms and the Dhorisha Plains was a bit far to fly, even for the strongest cultivators. Which Huaisang wasn’t. Too strong with the saber meant too early a death, as it had been for every Nie cultivator for centuries. Mingjue was strong; strong enough to lead their sect when he wasn’t even thirty yet. Which meant the qi deviations weren’t going to stop. A few years, maybe a decade if the sect doctors could sit on him; Nie Mingjue was running out of time-
Breathe. Focus. You have a plan.
And it really was too far to fly. Especially when they were also supposed to be bringing a load of diplomatic gifts. Even if those gifts were in qiankun bags for safekeeping. Because this wasn’t just a diplomatic mission to get the facts on someone else’s army of the living dead, it was a potential trade mission. And if people in Valdemar didn’t have cultivators-
Mages, Huaisang reminded himself, free hand twitching toward his bow as he glanced toward an unfamiliar birdcall. He wasn’t the only one; between himself, Zonghui, and Lan Wangji they covered all points of the compass, looking for man-swallowing vines, fire-winged birds, or the flickering glows of ghosts not strong enough to manifest in daylight. The autumn woods surrounding their road were full of creatures they’d never seen before. Oddly, most of them weren’t even trying to eat anyone. The word they use north of Dhorisha is mages.
A/N: “路遙知馬力, 日久見人心” (“lù yáo zhī mǎ lì, rì jiǔ jiàn rén xīn”); “as a long road tests the strength of a horse, so time reveals a person’s heart.”