A Long Road Crossover Ficbit – The Plan

Nie Mingjue had been their general, leading them to blood and victory. Mild, frivolous Nie Huaisang had kept supplies moving, smoothed allies’ ruffled feathers, and talked wavering town and country lords out of possible small rebellions. But even so, he’d been on enough battlefields to see the Yiling Patriarch haunt the enemy like a corpse-summoning crow; Hanguang-jun before him as a blade of starlight, killing anyone that tried to stop that demonic flute.

Right now, Mingjue was just eyeing him back. “What?”

All right, maybe his brother could be that dense. Of the Twin Jades of Lan, Mingjue knew Lan Xichen best; and Xichen was a wide-open, cheerful book of a man. Lan Wangji’s expressions were a hundred minute variations on stoic, and the only man who’d reliably read them was currently holed up with a stolen horde of war criminals on a mound of corpses.

He fluttered his fan, looking innocent and harmless as yet another attempt to get out of saber practice. Which had his elder brother’s eyes narrow in A-Sang what have you done now.

Perfect. Now his elder brother would be thinking about it.

“You’ll figure it out.” Huaisang made his gaze sober, truly serious. “Here’s the plan. We arrange for a delegation, led by Lan Wangji. With some of our disciples along, who can discreetly set anchors for teleport talismans. We give the delegation enough time to get there, plus time for a message talisman to get back. And then we send a message to the Burial Mounds that Valdemar has Lan Wangji, oh horrors, we can’t risk attacking a foreign kingdom to get him back without diplomatic repercussions from there to the Dhorisha Plains. Not to mention if they can keep Hanguang-jun against his will, they can stop any righteous cultivator. We need to resort to wicked ways. We need the Yiling Patriarch.”

Baxia hummed, as Mingjue gave him a look askance. “The only way we’ll convince Xichen to go along with this is if we’re sure Valdemar can’t take Wangji.”

“Ah, but that’s fine, that’s fine!” Huaisang fluttered his fan before his face, starry-eyed. “All that matters is that Wei Wuxian thinks they took him!”


A/N: If you’re facepalming at the potential disastrous scenario unfolding here – thank you, thank you very much. *G*

40 thoughts on “A Long Road Crossover Ficbit – The Plan

  1. Sorry to busy watching the fireworks to face palm. I haven’t seen that many explosions of so many colors in a looong time .

    On a side note I have no idea what you have planned for Lan Zhan and Wei Ying’s eventual companions and I can’t wait. They’d both have to be pretty unique if they’re central to helping figure this grand mess out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When she actually gets details on the whole Sunshot Campaign, she’s going to want to beat her head against a wall. Or someone’s head. Unlike some people, she’s very familiar with the kind of person who is absolutely deadly when crossed but would rather not even use rude language if there were other options. And familiar with how combat and torture can break a person so they just can’t take the level of social poking that a lot of the high-ranking cultivators take for granted without wanting to maim someone.

      In short, if Qiongqi Path had happened in this AU and Kero got the details, she’d say two main things. 1) It was a horrible tragedy. 2) Jin Zixuan pretty much committed involuntary suicide by walking up to a mage having obvious control problems who’d just been shot at by three hundred archers while wearing the same uniform as the people shooting.

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      1. Jin Zixuan pretty much committed involuntary suicide by walking up to a mage having obvious control problems who’d just been shot at by three hundred archers while wearing the same uniform as the people shooting.

        IRL, you walk up to someone while looking like the people who just attempted to slaughter them, it’s death-by-stupidity.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Which, unfortunately, is the Jins all over the place. Well, most of them. You get to Jin Guangshan and Jin Guangyao, they’re smart enough to manipulate almost anyone into almost anything, but not smart enough to realize that in the long run you will eventually encounter someone who says “screw all the proper rules of etiquette, I want my fist in his face.”

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I have a half formed rant about “honor” that boils down to something roughly that most of the folks calling on it are trying to manipulate you into letting them grossly violate the spirit as they faintly echo the appearance of the rule.

        IE, the guy who taunts you about being a coward for not facing him and his henchmen. Yeah, because preparing to go at a single person when he’s not expecting it is so brave.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. So he wen tot the guy he tried to murder, dressed as the guys who just tried to murder said guy, and getting killed is… murder target’s fault?

        *headache*

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Er, no. Here’s where the transliteration from Chinese characters makes things hard for us poor English readers. Jin Zixun is the idiot Jin cousin who came with an ambush because he thought Wei Wuxian had cursed him. Jin Zixuan (different character entirely) is Jin Guangshan’s only legitimate son, who married Wei Wuxian’s adoptive sister. He apparently found out about Zixun’s ambush and came to shut it down.

        Then made the mistake of telling Wei Wuxian to put his weapons down first while there were still archers ready to fire at him. And when Wei Wuxian (visibly fighting for control, black smoke all over the place) told him to have the Jins put theirs down first, he kept advancing, telling Wei Wuxian not to be difficult.

        …Yeah, that didn’t end well.

        Bit of background: Jin Zixuan had invited Wei Wuxian to his new nephew’s one-month celebration, and was ticked as heck that Jin Zixun had used it to ambush the demonic cultivator. (He’s impossible but he’s my adoptive brother-in-law whether I like it or not, seems to be Zixuan’s attitude.) He was, unfortunately, so ticked at Zixun he just… didn’t seem to consider how lethal the situation still was when he marched in ordering everyone to stand down.

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  2. Okay, I’m confused again. What does Huaisang _think_ is going to happen when he sends Wei Wuxian at Valdemar?

    Or in other words, what are the Step 3: ?????? and Step 4: ?????? between ‘Step 2: Send demonic cultivator into howling rage at foreigners _that we framed_’ and ‘Step 5: Profit!’?

    -Albert

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, they did beat the undead uprising they had, so a new one showing up shouldn’t surprise them too much, and if he’s slaughtering his way to the emissary that they have to protect, they will of course go full bore to defend him, and so they get rid of an unhandy death guy and nobody’s the wiser.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. IIRC, Vathara outlined a scheme to get the horses to grab WWX, and to treat the Wen POWs decently with him out of the way.

      This is apparently one of the xianxia where the original author is aware that all of the cultivators are nuts.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Expanding, there are xianxia where every cultivator is nuts, and the author realizes it.

        There are xianxia where every cultivator is nuts, and the author does not realize it.

        There are xianxia where some of the cultivators are sane.

        I’m not sure how possible it would be to have a xianxia where all of the cultivators are sane.

        Leave aside the RL willingness to go mad as a hatter eating heavy metals.

        The whole ‘esoteric anatomy has an impact on sanity’ thing isn’t mandatory worldbuilding, and even if you do use it, there could be cultivation arts without strong side effects.

        The key issue is the general assumptions that a) cultivators seek immortality b) this is rebelling against heaven, sometimes literally c) this involves withdrawal from mundane society.

        Sometimes you have a mundane society where everyone practices some level of cultivation.

        Most of the time luck, wealth, and extreme personality types are required to reach the highest levels.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. Huaisang’s plan has several possible outcomes, given the information he has. (Some of which is wrong, but.) Look at it from the viewpoint of, Huaisang’s first priority is his brother, Nie Mingjue. Then comes his sect, then everybody else.

      As the situation currently stands, Jin Guangshan wants the Stygian Tiger Seal and he will not stop pushing until he convinces the rest of the cultivation world to kill Wei Wuxian to get it. Huaisang knows this because he’s good friends with Jin Guangyao, and knows some (not nearly all) of the plots Guangyao is spinning to paint the rumors about the Yiling Patriarch as black as possible.

      In Qishan, with only the Stygian Tiger Seal, Wei Wuxian took down Wen Ruohan’s entire army. In the Burial Mounds he has the Seal, countless ghosts and fierce corpses, and centuries of resentful energy to draw on. It is very likely that if the sects raid the Burial Mounds he will kill Mingjue. (And thousands of other people, but Huaisang has priorities.)

      Therefore the first and main goal Huaisang has is, get Wei Wuxian and the Seal out of the Burial Mounds.

      From there, he plans to work with whatever happens. Valdemar kills Wei Wuxian? Sad, but at least the problem is solved, and he can hopefully work things so the Seal gets lost or buried somewhere. Valdemar stops him non-fatally? Better, and hopefully the Seal can still be lost. Wei Wuxian tears through Valdemar, grabs Wangji, and keeps on going? Also an acceptable outcome. Tears through Valdemar and heads back to the sect lands? Okay, that one’s Not Good, but if it happens they can set up an ambush before Wei Wuxian gets back to the Ultimate Graveyard of Necromantic Power.

      …That’s the utterly ruthless and pragmatic side of Huaisang’s plotting.

      The optimistic and still wants to believe in good side?

      Huaisang is desperately hoping that if he can get his old friend out of the trap Jin Guangshan’s snared him in, to someplace where the sects don’t matter, Wei Wuxian will calm down enough to destroy the Seal himself. No Seal, no leverage for Jin Guangshan to lead an army, everybody wins.

      And if that happens…

      Wei Wuxian is a genius. He created an entirely new form of cultivation in a few months. If anyone can find a way to fix Nie saber cultivation, he’s the guy.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I would like to see the conversation if he does fix Nie Saber cultivation.
        After all, Mingjue isn’t the most flexible person…

        “We will never use Resentment Cultivation! No matter what!”

        “We’re already using Resentment Cultivation, just… badly. That’s the problem!”

        ***

        That said, most Gambit Pileups are done by multiple people.
        Huaisang seems to be making a good attempt at setting one up all by himself.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. One of the best Wei Wuxian descriptions I’ve found has been, “[he’s] so notorious for taking responsibility, Sect Leader Niè constructed a convoluted revenge plot around the idea that if only he stuck Wei Wuxian in the middle of a problem, he’d go to any lengths to fix it. … It’s no wonder Grandfather made him first disciple so young. It was probably in sheer self defense.” (Rotten Work, ShanaStoryteller, Ao3)

        So, really, it’s not a bad plan. He just hasn’t got the experience yet that warns him of the human element. Also, he hasn’t spent a number of years quietly pitting himself against Jin Guangyao in a matter of revenge.

        … I know it’s the wrong timeframe, but I’m imagining a large red and cream cat draping itself all over Wei Wuxian and purring up a storm. Grumpy ravens may or may not be grumbling over the theft of their Perch.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Would those crows be partly descended from Hawkbrothers’ bondbirds? Ones that didn’t decide to bond to humans, but have now found and interesting, shiny entertainment? Could add some -interesting-additions to the whole chaos mess. Look, more ways for things to spin out of control!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Oh, they are definitely wild bondbirds. Who decided centuries back that the Burial Mounds were a great source of free food… well, you know crows.

        And then Wei Wuxian got thrown in and refused to die.

        Crows: Oh, cool. Let’s watch this guy, this is neat! And he keeps leading us to more battlefields!

        (Idea spawned by All Those Circling Crows in the first ep of the animation.)

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  3. So while I have no clue about the Cultivation setting, just how badly are some of the various Valdemar cultural elements (Companions, mind-healing etc) going to trigger the new visitors?

    Because if there is one element that nearly always pops up in Vathara’s works; it’s cultural clashes and miscommunication.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. *G* Oh, you mean the spooky white horse yao? And being able to use Silent Communication with no talismans at all? Not to mention, these people cut their hair! How unfilial.

      Be of good cheer, though, Huaisang has chosen his party well. He’s diplomatic. Lan Wangji may not be, but he is polite. And Nie Zonghui… he’s here to keep Huaisang in one piece, not to start any fights.

      So they’ll try. Very hard. And Valdemar does have a bit of experience with foreigners suddenly floundering about Heralds. 🙂

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      1. So how soon will a Companion decide that one of the party will be a perfect Chosen/Herald and decides to (at least try to) form a bond without giving a heads up etc?

        I’m sure that the party will take such an action in good cheer, thinking only about how this will further ties and relations between the two countries. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well, you can hardly blame the Tao-chasing monsters, because “Taoists making potions of immortality by eating and drinking dangerous ingredients” is a human thing. So “eating and drinking powerful/dangerous Taoists” is just another version of ingredients.

        Also see the plot of Hughart’s Bridge of Birds and The Story of the Stone.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Note, animals can practice the dao/awaken spirituality/gain human intelligence normally in Taoist thinking. /Rocks/ can.

        In xianxia, it is very normal for cultivating animals to be used as ingredient sources for human cultivators.

        Beast cores are almost a mandatory world building choice. As in, ‘spirit beasts’ cultivate in that way, are routinely hunted, and their cores enter the economy of the human cultivators.

        Remember how I’ve been using Memories and Young Master as examples?

        TM’s hero, Xi Tianyi, is explicitly handed a bunch of resources, and doesn’t go out collecting for himself. But there is an implication that some of the things his mother has killed that were not human cultivators were in fact intelligent. There’s also a bit where Xianyi, a reincarnator, gets creeped out at the possibility of eating things that could be reincarnated humans, and sorta goes vegetarian.

        Memories has five main viewpoint characters, who start out as ‘herb hunters’, in an area that is kinda the xianxia version of the shadow of Chernobyl in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. So, collecting rare herbs with strong magical properties. The herbs have a level of intelligence, and successful herb hunters realize this. I don’t think they’ve chomped down on the bits from an actual human cultivator yet, but that may be a matter of time. That one artifact fed them something that definitely came from someone that was more or less human, and lots of the supporting ‘good’ cultivators have done so with cultivators not describe as any different from human cultivators.

        And Chinese/Korean foxes as I understand are usually eating people with the intent of gaining power.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yeah, I saw the idea in a Monkey King movie, but that was a singular boss lady demon trying to eat Son Wuhan’s spirit guide. I hadn’t realized it was a sufficiently-common monster goal/practice in the folklore that there was a general term for monsters that’s effectively an RPG character class.

        Bit of worldbuilding thought: Monsters intelligent enough to be sophont need to hold territory for resources, mating opportunities, whatever, so seeking extra power is survival . . .

        But they can’t really rely on their information network to be honest, so while they might know what they individually can accomplish, they don’t know what different forms of magic are actually capable of. Their rivals don’t know either.

        So those magic items the party is carrying, that may be concrete power if it can be obtained without too much risk, but getting more information on the deep secrets of a subject the monster is studying might seem like a more solid prize for much less risk.

        And of course, what they boast about being able to do and what they pull out in dire straits might have rather little in common. If everyone knows about your fire, hit ’em with stuff that’s weak only to fire, after they create a no-fire zone.

        -Albert

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I’d like to think that the Companions would be politically savvy enough to know not to grab the ambassador of a highly foreign country. I truly would. Or at least have enough politically savvy members to sit on the ones that don’t. Given a certain Companion/Karsite Firepriest friendship (not Choosing) that springs up, canon seems to bear it out.

    However,>/i> a bunch of politically inconvenient people that may or may not be war criminals? Much more likely.

    And man, Burial Mound crow Bondbirds, before Bondbirds really are known in Valdemar. (Because, if I understand the timeline right, those come back with Elspeth.) I can almost see them dive-bombing a suspiciously casual Companion at juuuust the right moment.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The crows think Wei Wuxian’s hilarious. Wen Ning adores them.

      (Wei Wuxian is Betrayed by this. And secretly relieved. After all, if Wen Ning can like something that keeps annoying the heck out of Wei Wuxian, then he hasn’t overwritten his friend’s will bringing him back from death, and that’s a Good Thing.)

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  5. It occurs to me that Wei Wuxian canonically has a technique called Empathy, and in the Valdemar universe Empathy is a Gift. *Internally starts swearing as I glance back and forth between the two canons. * Yeah, that would fit. It would fit WWX’s abysmal luck, too.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You don’t say. *G*

      Granted, Wei Wuxian’s Empathy seems to work best on the dead, and also comes with images and memories as well as emotions… no, that doesn’t make it any better as far as wrecking your personal equilibrium, does it?

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