A/N: Canny readers familiar with Valdemar may facepalm about what Huaisang has misunderstood here. Which is fair. Stories about magic passed through several hands across a whole swath of kingdoms and the Dhorisha Plains? Things get garbled!
“The Lan Sect are our allies,” Huaisang said steadily. “They need to rebuild their strength. Preferably with techniques Jin Guangshan has never seen before.”
Mingjue sat down again, picking up his polishing strokes. “Preferably.”
Oh good, his brother already had a suspicion where this was going. “And our contacts in the Plains say if you want to find true Bards,” such an odd word for musical cultivation, but outside the sects, who wasn’t odd? “You have to head north. To Valdemar.”
Strokes stopped. Baxia vibrated, annoyed. “Valdemar,” Mingjue said heavily. “Where they have a queen, and lords, and no sects. No righteous cultivators to stop demonic magic in its tracks. Where we heard rumors of an undead army, before the Sunshot Campaign.” Under the mustache, his lips thinned. “I always wondered if Wen Ruohan got the idea there. Or if he’d been working on the puppets… earlier.”
Huaisang didn’t hide his grimace. This was his brother, and everyone agreed contagious curses were the absolute worst. Fighting your own kin turned mad and lethal against you was more terrifying than the most murderous ghost. He still couldn’t grasp how other sect leaders seemed even more horrified by Wei Wuxian’s fierce corpses, now that the Wen were safely defeated. At least when Wei Wuxian used his resentful energy on a body that body was already dead. “Seven years, and I still can’t get a clear report of what happened up there. Our contacts talk to the Hawk Clan, but – well, you know.”
“Deer Clan and Grasscat,” Mingjue nodded. “They may trade with us, but only the Hawks take their clan’s horses all the way to Valdemar.”
“Still, they do talk,” Huaisang agreed. “And that war brought together Valdemar, Rethwellan, and Karse as allies – when Karse had been in skirmish-wars with Valdemar for at least a century.” He snapped his fan closed. “But they didn’t take down Ancar. All they were able to do was drive the King of Hardorn back over his border to lick his wounds.”
“Drove back and held back a demonic cultivator who can raise an army of the dead, in a land where the dead usually don’t rise on their own.” Mingjue stroked Baxia one more time, and sheathed her. “They’ll be looking for allies. People who know more about fierce corpses.”
Huaisang smiled. “And who knows more about night-hunting than Hanguang-jun?”
…He really didn’t deserve that look. Really.
“You want to send Lan Wangji on a diplomatic mission to Valdemar,” Mingjue said dryly. “Lan Wangji. Who has an almost Nie-like attraction to stabbing any problem that’s stabbable. Who’d rather spend a week on the road night-hunting than an hour at a banquet. Who sits through discussion conferences looking like someone’s torturing him to death.” His older brother frowned, considering. “No, he looks worse. I’ve seen him tortured.”