A Long Road Chapter 3 Ficbit – Politics, Yaaaay.

Terrifying as Wei Wuxian’s ghosts and fierce corpses were, they were a known danger. He could fend them off with Aituan; at least, long enough to talk his way out. Divine not-horses? Nie Huaisang would rather not risk an angry god’s curse, thank you.

He’d feel bad about setting Wei Wuxian up for a god’s curse, but – well, if his old friend could take down the Xuanwu of Slaughter before he’d invented the ghost path, what god would have a chance now?

“It’s late in the year to travel back,” Zonghui reflected, picking up empty dishes to stack them neatly. “But if Hanguang-jun feels he can serve his sect’s mission best alone….”

Is it too dangerous for us to stay, and risk our own sect’s heir? Nie Huaisang translated. Which was a fair question. One Companion had found Lan Wangji. They didn’t know if others might… decide those of Nie were desirable partners.

They could run. His da-ge would tell them to run, if they were at risk. Dead cultivators served no sects.

…Well. Given who was coming after them, that wasn’t always true.

“And decline Queen Selenay’s invitation?” Nie Huaisang smiled. “We wouldn’t want to offer such an insult where it was not earned.”

We’re two cultivators alone, in a land whose army can be given orders at the speed of thought. If we have to break and run for it, we’ll need to fly. And pray.

——-

“Of all the people on the Council who could have given us trouble about another foreign Chosen, I never expected Father Ricard.”

Leaning against one of the Home Farms road-fences, Kero looked absolutely comfortable in brown leather, no matter what scowl creased her face. Talia tried not to tug at the collar of her Formal Whites. The autumn morning was chill enough to be glad for the layers, but she didn’t usually wear court-formal clothes outside the Palace.

She wouldn’t now, but Kellen had passed along that the cultivators were… well, skittish as any mercenary coming off a hard campaign. The Nies in particular didn’t like to be out of reach of their sabers. Which would not have gone over well at a first formal introduction to Court. Armed foreigners, armed foreign mages, in the same room with Queen Selenay, who’d survived too many assassination attempts already?

26 thoughts on “A Long Road Chapter 3 Ficbit – Politics, Yaaaay.

  1. Ah, yes, the conundrums of how to handle the diplomatic concerns of VIP security, when the weapons in question literally represent a part of the soul of the foreign participants. Whose potential projection of force (I assume) rank somewhere between CQC AOE blender, and heavy artillery/bombing strike, in RL terms. MOAB?

    “Peace Bonding” doesn’t really seem to cut it, in the eyes of the Home Team. Kellen can give the insight that the party leaders have no nefarious intentions, but no one is sure what might provoke a pre-emptive defensive reaction on either side, from parties at high alert. And neither side is familiar with the other’s protocols and rituals intended to defuse fraught diplomatic exchanges.

    Especially, when actual nefarious intent often uses those protocols and rituals to try to strike a devastating blow.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And Kero and Talia don’t know the whole “part of their soul” mess – the Nies don’t talk about it. They may know that spiritual weapons like swords are strongly connected to their cultivators, but the Nie go farther than that, and the Lan don’t know it.

      That said, NHS and Zonghui are perfectly capable of leaving their sabers in another room, or even miles away, if it makes “should be allies” happy. Zonghui, in particular, would only be annoyed that if someone did try an ambush, it might take a few precious seconds for his sabers to fly to him. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  2. … I am made nervous that a religious leader is the one voicing an issue. Especially given that no one has brought up either necromancy or that they are ‘immortal cultivators against the heavens.” Politics are messy, messy things.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. … I am made nervous that a religious leader is the one voicing an issue.

      If it wasn’t Vathara/ CroCreCha* or someone I trust similarly? I would drop the story at the phrase “Father Ricard” and you’d hear a sonic boom as I left the area, never to return.

      Because it usually telegraphs “poorly hidden, painfully ignorant beat down of strawman in a Roman collar.”
      Especially given Lackey’s prior behavior.

      But in this case, while I flinch, I also know that this doesn’t signal the oncoming anvils. He might have a good objection, an ignorant but valid objection, or either flavor of stupid objection, but it’s Father Ricard as a character, not “first five minutes of TV drama where you know the Designated Bad Guy.”

      * sorry, it amused me. Considered writing “The Queen.” ;D

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Thank you, you’re too kind. *Takes a bow.*

        Father Ricard has a reasonable objection because, being on the Council, he did get the whole Guild report on the sect lands.

        There are some very disturbing things about cultivators’ rumored attitudes toward gods in there!

        (I’m thinking it may take Father Gerichen to sort this out – while Valdemar has “lots of gods” traditions, a priest of Vkandis is more likely to recognize “there are things out there with some level of divine power that are NOT what we understand as full-on deities”.)

        Liked by 4 people

      2. There are some very disturbing things about cultivators’ rumored attitudes toward gods in there!

        ::sotto voice:: and a ton of other stuff……

        I’m thinking it may take Father Gerichen to sort this out – while Valdemar has “lots of gods” traditions, a priest of Vkandis is more likely to recognize “there are things out there with some level of divine power that are NOT what we understand as full-on deities”.

        Furies?

        Tree-thingies?

        ….ghost generals? ^.^

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Ooooh, ye-ep, here comes the first culture clashes! At least they’re expecting them, on both sides, and have enough restraint to /talk/ about perceived slights and insults? ^__^

    I have such a weakness for two or more very different cultures meeting and there being actual communication instead of immediate gigantic misunderstandings and near war. Like, I get that that’s a really easy plot vehicle, and an excellent way to drive the drama of everything, but it gets old, ya kno? (Thank goodness JC was NOT available to come on this little journey!)

    I am looking forward to both groups side eyeing each other and thinking how very odd the other is, but working to find compromises!

    And, hah, the bit with NHS thinking about one angry god. Did any of the Valdemar welcome wagon think to bring that handy list of all the deities Baron/King Valdemar called on that led to the creation of Companions? *G* Just picturing the O__O look NHS might barely be able to hide behind that fan of his at the sheer number of names! And like, not allllll the names listed actually helped probably. Since I don’t think any god but Vkandis ever took any credit (and he to only one individual really). But there all on the list as having been petitioned, and the Companions are proof that SOMEONE listened, and oh dear, oh dear!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Given Valdemar called on a long list of deities and it was thousands of years ago, there may not be an intact list anymore. And yes, I picture that look too. “What were you thinking? Do you know how much trouble you asked for?!?”

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      1. *g* It wasn’t /thousands/ of years ago! A glance in the compendium says it’s been 1376 years since the founding (plus 25 years or do since that’s the start of Selenay’s reign). So, they’ve not been around as long as lots of others like the sects here, the Shin’a’in/Tayledras/Kaled’a’in, but not bad for a country formed from fleeing refugees of a despotic empire (which is unfortunately also still around even if they’ve pretty much forgotten about Baron Valdemar at this point).

        And Valdemar does have a copy of the list supposedly written out by the heir (I think it was the heir? One of the first chosen people anyway) at the time in the palace records (and I think I remember some of the temples having copies too? Because their gods were ON the list?). Seeing it, that Vkandis was one of the called upon, was one of the things that convinced Alberich that they weren’t mad and also evil like he’d been taught to believe iirc.

        Valdemar is pretty fanatic about keeping proper records, at least when something isn’t actively making them forget about said records. And even then, they didn’t actually throw any of the stuff on magic out, it just got shoved in store rooms, shelved with the histories or the fiction, or literally glanced over like it wasn’t there.

        I am with NHS here tho, because that could have gone VERY badly if the wrong deities had heard or if Valdemar himself had had an ounce less strength and sincerity in his request. Luck like that is UNHEARD of, really.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Defense, 1.1k years ago is thousands.

        ….yes, my kids HAVE used this on me.
        “I’ve been in bed for hours!”
        “….it’s 2:01. You have been UPSTAIRS for theoretically an hour and one minute. And runnign around yelling for most of it.”

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Objection, Your Honor. Doesn’t count as thousands (or hours) unless the number rounds to at least 2. 1.5, okay. 1.1, nope.

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      4. Never heard that one, but then the areas that we’re trained in are usually containment things– so one cup and one teaspoon is still “cups,” because a container that can hold only one cup will not hold it.

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  4. A number of stories have characters reflect on how bad of an idea it is, too deliberately try to gain the attention of deities/ supernatural entities, because they just might answer.

    “Tears to Tiara” has an amusing take- cultists want to raise a demon prophesied to destroy the world, and present a princess as an offering. It works! Aside from the “Demon” taking her under his protection, and not actually wanting to actually cause destruction- “Destroy the World” actually referred to how “the Demon” had been sealed because he was fighting against the injustices of “God” and his church, that had taken complete control after the sealing, and had written the historical narrative to suit themselves and protect their power base. So “destroy the world” would be destroying the Church, and casting down “God”.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Demon-king Arawn, Albion, Arthur, and Taliesin . . . all against the ‘Divine Empire’. (Bets that it’s the Roman Catholic Strawman running the Empire?)

      Makes me wonder how long it would take someone to notice if a story had the Evil Religion be the Chinese celestial bureaucracy enforcing spiritual tyranny, with evil!Buddha stepping in as a super-god when needed, and burning-desert-sun evil Amaterasu as a chaotic evil rebel against the ‘divine’ order.

      -Albert

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No bet.

        That said, exotic religions with fancy pageantry make a better villain than one that looks like something your expected audience is familiar with.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Trying to remember… I think Tears To Tiara was mostly Roman Empire, pre-Christian stuff. But there are Evil Angels Pretending To Be Good, and that sort of thing, and eventually it turns out that Arawn is Lucifer, and so on. And yes, the High Priest Drwc ends up to be wearing a very cassocky/vestmenty outfit.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. At the risk of being a sperg, the Roman Republic became the Roman Empire in 27 BC, so primitive Christianity got it’s start fairly early in the Empire. The ecumenical councils that form the basis of the Roman Catholic Church were 4th century, granted, by which point the Roman Empire had split into East and West.

        -Albert

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      4. “The Evil Religion be the Chinese celestial bureaucracy enforcing spiritual tyranny, with evil!Buddha stepping in as a super-god when needed”

        Check out the Korean Webtoon The God of Highschool. Which… involves a Broken Masquerade as a bunch of Journey to the West characters all pop out of the woodwork *without* getting a power nerf (seriously, the scene when SunWu Kong regains his power is… heh… epic doesn’t begin to describe it).

        And this would be a version of Journey to the West that ended *badly* for SunWu Kong and Co. which meant SunWu Kong was *more* than a bit pissed at the Jade Emperor and Buddha for… very understandable reasons. And then he kinda checked out of history for a bit… At least SunWu Kong’s *current* life managed to get a better childhood than getting stuck under a mountain for a few centuries, so that’s good!

        Liked by 1 person

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