A Long Road Chapter 2 Ficbit – Complicated

Kero didn’t skip a beat. “I’ve got no idea how our Council’s going to take it if some foreign mages say they’re like Heralds.”

“Yes, you do,” Talia said wryly, polishing a splinter off an old carved firebird toy.

“All right, yes I do; badly. Who on the Council is specifically going to have their feathers ruffled – that’s your job.” Kero arched a brow. “That said. Kellen didn’t just grab a mage. He grabbed a prince. Or as close as the sects have to one. Jays got away with snatching Prince Daren because King Faram’s got heirs of his own, Rethwellan and Valdemar are allies, and you two are sickeningly smitten with each other. The Lan Sect doesn’t know us from a Northern barbarian tribe and Lan Xichen hasn’t even got a wife yet, much less an heir. Is it worth it to let them save face by declaring Heralds a cultivation sect, with you two as the leaders?”

That, at least, had been a welcome bit of info on the sects; a woman as sect leader would raise no eyebrows whatsoever. It wasn’t common, but it happened. According to Kellen, the Meishan Yu sect was always led by women.

“That depends on why they want us to be a sect.” Selenay sat almost court-straight. “They think they need to keep Lan Wangji’s Mindspeech a secret? That’s….” Impossible obviously lingered on her tongue, but she bit it back.

“Not from us,” Kero shook her head. “From the sects. Especially from his brother.”

Daren winced. As she’d expected; his brother had tried to murder the Queen of Valdemar. “Trouble between heirs?”

“More like my problems with my brother,” Kero said candidly. “Lordan loves Dierna, which, good for him, but we all know she’s a straight line of gossip back to her family and their political power-grabs. Lan Xichen’s best friend is the Jin Sect’s spymaster.”

Which won her aghast looks from all three. Even Talia; the Monarch’s Own might have been born Holderkin and ignorant of politics as an owl underwater, but she’d learned.

“Um.” Daren wasn’t quite gaping. “That’s….”

“A disaster. Yes.”

31 thoughts on “A Long Road Chapter 2 Ficbit – Complicated

  1. You know what I’d like to see?
    A villainous manipulator actively encouraging love.
    The reason being that when the rules are upheld and decorum is maintained, it’s too hard for him to get an edge.
    But if people are driven by passion to bend those rules, it creates openings for spying and blackmail all over the place.

    Just imagine, two young lovers, torn apart by circumstance!
    They must overcome all obstacles to be together, including that devious minister!
    But wait, the minister sees how much they love each other (a whole 3 days!) and decides to help them out!
    A triumph for love!
    Right?

    The end result is a court embroiled in a soap opera, with the manipulator pulling the strings for power.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think this would be close to what your looking for

      https://chichilations.home.blog/golden-stage/

      This is a really good political thriller novel that also sadly does not have an official english version. One of the main characters Yan Xiaohan has a lot of similarities with Jin Guangyao (both ability and personality wise) but with a very hidden moral compass.

      Like

  2. I’m fairly certain that LXC wouldn’t tell JGY about LWJ’s mindspeech if LWJ asked him not too, he didn’t tell JGY about LWJ committing treason & defending WWX, after all. And he adores his brother and, canon, has kept A LOT of LWJ’s secrets, up to hiding LWJ and WWX in CR. But he also might not read it as a dangerous secret, unlike the aforementioned treason. So caution is good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. But the circumstances are different as well. Rather than knowing what Lan Wangji is willing to do to protect Wei Wuxian, ie going against the society they grew up to defend (Lan Sect) and attack elders and suffer 33 lashes and raise the most threatened child of the cultivation world as his own (possible) bastard, he likely would believe that Lan Wangji would side with the Lan. He has every time before, and argued extensively with Wei Wuxian about demonic cultivation through the war, when everyone knew that demonic cultivation was why they weren’t dying never mind winning. It’s likely he thought Lan Wangji was more worried about the orthodoxy, because we have very few hints as to Lan Wangji’s true feelings for Wei Wuxian pre-resurrection. (Easy to forget with the way the flashbacks are set up.) And Lan Xichen is trying to help Jin Guangyao to settle himself into his new sect. A helpful ability shared with his sworn brother to raise his standing in the Koi Tower, I’m not sure he wouldn’t do it.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. LXC does know about LWJ’s feelings for WWX? He knows about them from the start. When he invites WWX on the Waterborne Abyss hunt, he explicitly does it because LWJ wanted WWX to come along. In the aftermath of that, when WWX is charming fruit out of some girls, LXC notes that LWJ is jealous and teases him about it. After WWX’s punishment, LXC sends him to the Cold Springs, where he knows LWJ is.

        Like, it’s not explicitly stated, it’s mostly subtext and clearer on the second read, but we as readers also aren’t supposed to be able to identify LWJ’s feelings this early. LXC is one of the only people able to read LWJ during the CR Summer School arc, and he KNOWS LWJ has a crush on WWX.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I don’t think Lan Xichen realized the depth of those feelings though, not until Nightless City anyway. And having a crush is massively different from the devotion that Lan Wangji feels.

        Liked by 3 people

  3. Jin Gaungyao doesn’t even have Orthallen levels of power yet and already he one of the most dangerous people around. It’s kinda sad he’s getting more respect from a foreign country with only the barest information then his own sect.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Ah hah haaaah, seeing someone have that (completely appropriate) reaction is actually wonderful, thank you.

    LXC seems like a nice person from what I’ve seen. Which means he’s actually something of a disaster to have as a leader, unfortunately. Or rather, he can’t seem to compartmentalize at all and keep his own personal life/thoughts/everything apart from the choices he must make as Sect Leader. Which is. Well. BAD.

    I’m not sure he’d actually /tell/ anyone if LWJ asked him not to, but let’s face facts, the man is a glaring open book to his bestest buddy JGY and even if he didn’t say anything directly, JGY is terrifyingly smart and could possibly pick things up from vague things LXC might say. Also, he would probably not have the slightest problem riffling through any correspondence LXC might leave unsecured, which LXC would not think to do.

    Selenay is also a good, kind person, but learned from a young age that she must put everything before herself because that’s what a good ruler does. The song Cost of the Crown has always been a favorite of mine from Lackey’s musical works. Even once she has a full rundown on who JGY is, she won’t underestimate him. She’s had extra personal life lessons on people like him what with her first husband and then Lord Orthallen.

    Ooooh, did NHS get any info on the complete clusterfuck her first marriage ended in? Or was that bit of gossip farther back than he looked into? I wonder how that will go over, once they hear about it?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Okay, second attempt to leave this, my power blipped and I lost the first juuust as I was clicking post.

    Ah hah haaaah, it’s wonderful to see someone have the appropriate reaction to that, thank you.

    LXC is a good, kind person from what I’ve seen so far, which is kind of a disaster because he doesn’t seem to have been trained to compartmentalize at ALL. Which is. Well. BAD. I’m not sure if this just extends to JGY, but it’s a pretty glaring hole in his, and this the Lans, defenses.

    I don’t think he’d actually tell anyone if LWJ specifically asked him not to, but he’s an open book to his bestest buddy JGY, and JGY is terrifyingly intelligent and might be able to pick things up from little incidental comments LXC might make. Or, you know, riffling through any correspondence LXC leaves out in the open because he would think to hide it.

    Selenay is also a good, kind person, but was trained from birth to put her personal thoughts, wants, and wishes to the side and do what is best for her people. The Cost of the Crown song puts it into words best, and it’s always been one of my favorites of all the music that’s been written for the Valdemar novels. Her, and Kero and everyone else’s, thoughts on JGY once they have a full rundown on him should be interesting.

    Question, did NHS hear about the whole clusterfuck with Selenay’s first husband and her current heir’s father? Or was that story old enough he missed it so far? What are they going to think of that I wonder?

    Liked by 3 people

  6. … okay, I’ve tried to comment on this twice and it’s not coming up? I thought the first was because of a power blip, but maybe not? Are you screening comments now?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Okay, let’s try this again.

        Ah hah haaaah, it’s wonderful to see someone have the appropriate reaction to that, thank you.

        LXC is a good, kind person from what I’ve seen so far, which is kind of a disaster because he doesn’t seem to have been trained to compartmentalize at ALL. Which is. Well. BAD. I’m not sure if this just extends to JGY, but it’s a pretty glaring hole in his, and this the Lans, defenses.

        I don’t think he’d actually tell anyone if LWJ specifically asked him not to, but he’s an open book to his bestest buddy JGY, and JGY is terrifyingly intelligent and might be able to pick things up from little incidental comments LXC might make. Or, you know, riffling through any correspondence LXC leaves out in the open because he would think to hide it.

        Selenay is also a good, kind person, but was trained from birth to put her personal thoughts, wants, and wishes to the side and do what is best for her people. The Cost of the Crown song puts it into words best, and it’s always been one of my favorites of all the music that’s been written for the Valdemar novels. Her, and Kero and everyone else’s, thoughts on JGY once they have a full rundown on him should be interesting.

        Question, did NHS hear about the whole clusterfuck with Selenay’s first husband and her current heir’s father? Or was that story old enough he missed it so far? What are they going to think of that I wonder?

        Like

  7. *facepalm* aaaaand now all of them appear.

    AUGH

    *waves hands* I have no idea what’s going on, sorry. *headdesk* Sorry for cluttering your post up.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. *sigh* wordpress. ^__^

        Excuse me while I cackle like a loon at NHS getting all the drama there. Like, okay, so the Queen got swept off her feet and married young, and he turned out to be an utter cad and tried to kill her after their daughter was born because Valdemar law made sure he couldn’t be /King/ unless he was Chosen, but he could try for Regent while their daughter was a child? Okay, that’s a lot, but-

        Wait, that was the current Consorts /brother/?

        *giggles* and that’s just the bare bones.

        Liked by 3 people

  8. From LWJ’s viewpoint, the problem with LXC and JGY is that his brother is going to seriously freak over the whole mind/soul bond (possession!!??!) with some kind of spirit being, because the Cultivation Society has no context other than BAD for what occurred between Kellen and LWJ. To be fair, the Companions definitely don’t seem to care much about giving their Chosen a chance to give Informed Consent, either. LXC is likely to suspect that anything his brother tries to explain to be affected by his Companion, and thus untrustworthy.

    Framing the Heralds/ Chosen and Companions as forming an formal, officially sanctioned, organization that fulfills the role of a Cultivation Sect, gives a way to explain the situation in a way less likely to trigger a panic mode/crisis response from LXC, with JGY digging in the spurs to gain maximum advantage.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. The thing is, Companions absolutely DO get full consent. Multiple levels even. It’s talked about a bit in the novels, especially the short story compilations iirc.

      First level of consent happens before life. Most Heralds, Healers, and Bards are part of a reincarnation cycle alongside the Companions. They get a say if they’ll have the gifts needed to be a herald/healer/bard. That’s mostly the extent of the pre-life tampering though,though so where they end up and how their life goes is as much up to chance as any souls. There are some exceptions where a deity probably fiddled with things a bit more, like with Alberich, but for the most part it’s, ‘check this box if you’re willing to do this again, write in desired sub category please’ in the heavens. This doesn’t mean they HAVE to be Heralds or whatever, since there’s every chance they will be born and won’t be needed and will live out their lives without a fancy not!horse showing up (it’s stated multiple times in the books that lots of Choosings mean something turbulent is going to happen within the decade).

      It’s less clear if new souls get asked the same way, but I don’t see why they wouldn’t?

      Second level of consent is while a Companion is on search. Sometimes the Companion in question is searching for someone specific, like Rolan was with Talia. Other times a Companions pull to search is vaguer. In the Owlsight books, a Companion (can’t recall the name sorry) comes to town on Search and stops in front of Keisha, the local (half trained and overworked) healer. Who mentally tells the Companion ‘no thanks I’m busy’. The Companion acknowledges this and moves on, choosing Keisha’s sister Shondi instead.

      Third level of consent is during the actual choosing. This is shown over and over in the books. At the moment of choosing, Companion essentially bares their soul to the person they are choosing. It is an INCREDIBLY vulnerable moment for the Companion. The response from the person (or persons! There is at least one case of two people sharing a Companion btw) being Chosen is usually an unconscious one, where they do the same if they /want/ to. It’s unconscious, but not the kind of thing that can be fooled really. It’s, hmmm, like that mental thing that keeps you from biting off fingers maybe? Even an unfitted person protects their self that deep. This usually goes fine because the Companion is SURE by this point who they want to be soulbound to for the rest of their life but rejection is possible.

      They can also choose to sever the bond later, on either side, though that’s not usually done because it’s traumatic and painful af. There’s been one case of a Companion repudiating their chosen in the history of Valdemar. I do recall at least one story where a dying Companion severed the bond so her Herald would not die with her too, though, so that has probably happened more often and vice versa.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. There’s only one that is explicitly mentioned, because it’s a key part of the plot in the last herald mage trilogy. It is mentioned many times in other books that that one is focused on because of the dramatic story, but it has happened more than once, including after that time period.

        I’m beginning to get the picture from these snippets that regardless of how they spin things, people will be throwing fits about companions being allowed to kidnap people to their sect as they please. I see chaos happening… 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      2. The key factor causing the chaos here not so much being “the individual consented” as “when you’re part of a sect, your life is not your own“. You didn’t get the sect leader’s permission. Boom.

        Edit: Or to turn it around…. How would Valdemar react if the Lan Sect absconded with one of their head Mindhealers – you know, the people responsible for making sure Heralds stay stable and sane even after being tortured – without clearing it with the Crown first? I doubt it’d be pretty….

        Liked by 3 people

      3. Yep, you’re right. I’d forgotten that the one during Vanyel’s time (key plot point I won’t spoil for anyone thinking of picking up the novels) wasn’t the only one, but their sad but very dramatic story is the only named instance I think?

        Ooof, yeah. Regardless of the actual ethics of Choosing, the sects are probably gonna kneejerk yell about abduction of a sect heir by a foreign spirit creature. It’s gonna take some fancy political dancing to keep all parties from pulling blades, and that’s BEFORE the dramatic necromancer-bard-mage shows up because his unacknowledged lifebonded has been ‘stolen’.

        It’s gonna be SO much fun to read!

        Liked by 3 people

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