A Long Road Chapter 2 Ficbit – Technicalities

Birdsong faded back in, hoof-beats dropping away as the Nies reined to a stop beside him. His chest was too tight, thinking of Nie Mingjue tortured, of then-Meng Yao – Jin Guangyao – who’d taken Wen Ruohan from behind, of his own brother who thought everything was fine now that the war was over.

Lan Xichen, who’d informed Jin Guangyao of Lan Wangji’s clandestine visit to the Burial Mounds, because he was so worried about his little brother being tainted by Wei Wuxian’s use of resentful energy. Who would be equally alarmed that a foreign guardian spirit chose to be his little brother’s partner, entangled in his qi deeper than any brush of the ghost path could ever be. Who would want his sworn brother’s advice on how to handle a Lan who could reach out to other minds whether they shared a talisman or not….

Who bent like a willow in the wind to Jin Guangyao’s words; always so reasonable, always so polite, always what ended up favoring Jin Guangyao.

Kellen’s steadiness was all that let Lan Wangji breathe, summoning the will to force words out. “Won’t. Be a spy.”

“Oh,” Nie Huaisang breathed, face paper-white. “Oh, not good, not good – I don’t know what to do, I really don’t-!”

“Everyone, hold.” Nie Zonghui raised an empty hand. “Young Master Nie. Our sect leader put me under your command. Order me to be silent, and I will.”

:He can do that?: Kellen asked.

:He can.: Lan Wangji breathed in, forcing his racing thoughts to slow. :It is understood that any sect leader, or heir, will be strong enough in their cultivation that they might stumble on secrets of another sect…:

He felt Kellen listening, unwilling to breathe and disturb that gossamer-thread of a thought.

It might work. Lan Wangji straightened in his saddle. “Heralds have a philosophy. There is no one, true way.”

Nie Zonghui frowned. Nie Huaisang brightened, fan out again. “So you’ve said, and the townsfolk agreed.”

“Meditation practices,” Lan Wangji went on. “Training in the use of qi. Organized teachings. Hunting what preys on ordinary folk. Dispensing justice.” He patted Kellen’s neck. “Spirit beasts.”

:Not the same as yours,: Kellen observed. :But keep going. You’re cute when you’re sneaky- eh?:

Hmm. A mental recitation of the three thousand rules of Gusu might be a bit much, for a being who’d never heard of them before a few days ago. But those rules, and his elders’ lectures on history, were quite clear. “Heralds,” Lan Wangji declared, “fulfill the requirements needed to be a cultivation sect.”

24 thoughts on “A Long Road Chapter 2 Ficbit – Technicalities

  1. Hah, yes they do. You don’t even need to tilt your head and squint too much! Tho the varying philosophical differences are gonna cause some friction.

    Like, you’ve mentioned the way cultivators are not beholden to the laws of their own land, while Heralds very very much are (because how can you enforce laws if you are above them?). That’s gonna be a big, ‘wait? what? I need a drink or thee asap’ discussion I bet!

    To clarify, is NHS panicking about mindreading not!horses here, or the realization that LWJ can probably do it too, no spell or whatever required? (I have been up all night and am on like half brain power here, sorry)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. NHS panic levels intensify!

      But his primary level of panic is this. “OMG Lan Wangji is the second sect heir which means if Lan Xichen asks him to do something he’s got to or have a freakin’ good reason why not and Lan Xichen absolutely adores his san-ge – which, yes, I love A-Yao too, but he’s wrapped around getting his father’s approval and I would not trust Jin Guangshan with a mind-reader as far as I could throw him.

      At this point in the MDZS timeline, Nie Huaisang doesn’t know all the shenanigans Jin Gaungyao has already gotten up too. He doesn’t know JGY tortured and killed Nie Mingjue’s men in front of him, tortured him and threatened to kill him. All he knows is that JGY and his brother used to be friends, they swore brotherhood with LXC, and somehow JGY hasn’t stopped nasty things like the Wens being used as target practice.

      But he definitely suspects Jin Guangshan.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Poor Huaisang, at this point he’s the only one who has an inkling that Jin Gaungyao is a vicious manipulater.
    In general I like Lan Xichen but he can be incredibly naive when it comes to pure human nastiness. He needs a Companion sized nip or maybe a controlled hoof to the behind and I doubt anyone in Gusu would dare to try it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It looks like LWJ suspects here, too.

      I’d give LXC some slack, JGY puts extra effort into manipulating him, and he’s a master manipulator. JGY WANTS LXC to think well of him, and so does his level best to make sure LXC only sees his good side. And LXC is a Lan and, in the novel, a new sect leader, so I doubt he has much, if any, experience with manipulators. Especially not ones he already trusts.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. The whole NMJ/LXC/JGY relationship is a horrible mess. If then-Meng Yao had actually wanted people who cared about him more than his father’s recognition, he’d have stayed NMJ’s lieutenant and an awful lot of things would have gone very differently.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. He’s a lawful good rules lawyer. (who insists he’s neutral good….)

        That would make him HAPPY. He’d be delighted to help the DM implement it, too, so they don’t have to do any extra work. *cloud of character spread sheets where you put in a few numbers and it makes the character for you is handed over*

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Oh heck yes.

        One of our parties’ clerics started spamming summons every battle, because what else was she going to do?

        So naturally, the DM put one of our other parties up against an enemy cleric who did the same thing.

        Happily, he hasn’t figured out how had an opportunity to use our third party’s druid’s terrain-control techniques against us.

        Yet.

        Liked by 4 people

  3. Oh, clever, clever! Not only does this neatly put things into a framework the others can understand, (including having inner and outer disciples!) it also wraps up the secrets and things they learn under cultural secrecy policies. Oh, very sneaky!

    …Scheming Lan Wangji is very cute. Wei Wuxian is going to be so flustered.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. And having a cultivation group also be qualified to work for the government, and act as magistrates, and do enforcement, would fit a Chinese pattern. A lot more Confucian than your usual school…. The cultural assumption would then tend to think of the Heralds as scholar/bureaucrats who could write nice essays and poetry, which might cause problems; but at least it would be in the ballpark.

    On the bright side, it’s a lot nicer to be a magistrate who uses public truth spells, than a magistrate who uses public torture, as a part of administrative routine. (Van Gulik’s Judge Dee novels are extremely matter of fact about this part of Chinese legal procedure. It’s not nice. He walks a fine line about trying to make Judge Dee not happy about torture, but also not historically unrealistic.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. European nations also have a history of torture being part of an investigative/prosecutorial process, before the concepts of human rights became more widespread/applied and torture became to be viewed as not being a proper tool in seeking truth/justice…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. But doing it in public in the courtroom was definitely ick. Not that it’s any better to do it in private, and of course magistrates were subject to public complaint if they did too much torture for no good reason. But yeah, it was one of those “facts you don’t necessarily want to know.”

        Europe was heavily influenced by Roman law, which generally didn’t like anyone being tortured who was a citizen. Non-citizens didn’t get the same consideration, of course, and slaves pretty much had to get tortured in any kind of murder case. (Which of course tends to show up as a threat in Roman-setting historical mysteries.)

        But Roman law for citizens was heavily influenced early on by considerations like “I know everybody in town by name, and half of them are my cousins, or members of tribes that my cousins are in.” So even though there’s a lot of historical incidents that boil down to, “I have to kill you because my love for my relatives is less important that my love for my city,” there’s also a lot of “I can’t do that to you, because your mother will look at me reproachfully.”

        China was big, big, big, from very early on. And I think that had a lot of influence on its laws and legal procedures.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I ran across a writer who opined that China was so big, it stifled its own technological development, because it was easy to make into a unified empire. (Mind, not easy to keep it that way.) Whereas Europe was broken up by mountain chains and rivers such that it was more of an “archipelago of kingdoms”, thus tech was spurred on by constant competition with the not-you neighbors.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Combined with friendly exchange, and a philosophy that figured failure was its own punishment (broadly), and enough differences to have war but not total war….

        That makes sense.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Everything you need to know about China: There was an official bureau of dragon pacification, from very early on in history. Because if there were dragons, they had to have a government bureaucracy for regulating them.

        Liked by 3 people

      1. Van Gulik had some very dark sides to his personality, but he seems to have tried to make Judge Dee into a more admirable person than himself, both from Dee’s own time’s point of view, ie, in Confucian terms, and from the POV of modern mystery readers. But he did give Dee the flaws and non-modern/non-Western attitudes and goals of a person of his historical setting, too, which is something most modern writers do not do.

        Of course, if Van Gulik were alive today, some people would have online conniptions.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s