A Long Road Chapter 3 Ficbit – Convenient

“In the meantime, I’m told you want to visit the Bardic Collegium,” Talia went on. “I’m sure that won’t be a problem, our Bards always want to meet new musicians. But why would two sect heirs be sent for that?” She smiled, to take some of the teeth out of the words. “If you don’t mind my being blunt – my Queen is honestly wondering why two cultivators of very high rank would be sent this far, to a land they don’t know and that doesn’t know them. What are you looking for, officially? And… not officially, if you’d like to bring that up in confidence?”

Nie Huaisang tilted his head, eyes almost guileless. “Companion Kellen did say he would pass along our current inter-sect difficulties?”

“He did,” Talia allowed. “But sometimes what our Companions think is important isn’t what we think is important. I’d like to hear what you need, and what you hope to find.”

That got a trade of three glances, that went on for a long, long minute.

Hmm. Lan Wangji’s dealt with Nie Zonghui, but he knows Nie Huaisang, Kero judged. Similar status means they met more often? Or something else?

“We would never wish to slander another sect.” Huaisang sat painfully straight, fan lowered. “But after the Sunshot Campaign was over, certain of Wen Ruohan’s cultivation notes… went missing.”

Kero stilled, as if an icy spider had walked up her spine. Oh, that did not sound good.

“They were to have been taken into custody of the four remaining Great Sect leaders, so the techniques to create kuǐlěi – puppets – could be sealed away,” Lan Wangji stated. “The intent was to study them later, and create countermeasures, so no cultivator would ever be so cursed again.”

“Puppets.” Talia paled. “The… living dead you faced.”

Lan Wangji inclined his head.

Definitely not good.

“Only the array notes are missing.” Nie Huaisang’s smile had a definite edge. “It’s interesting how quickly Jin Guangshan declared it must have been the work of escaped Wen cultivators. Why, I didn’t know we’d left any combat-capable Wen cultivators alive… outside of the prison camps, of course. Which the Jin have run. For the past two years.” The fan lifted again. “Of course, it’s not impossible. I’m sure a few slipped our nets. But I would have thought they’d be more preoccupied with running for their lives. My elder brother is very determined to see all Wen of martial strength dead. Venturing into the heart of Qishan to steal cultivation arrays they wouldn’t even have the power to use seems very… inconvenient. Don’t you think?”

44 thoughts on “A Long Road Chapter 3 Ficbit – Convenient

  1. Again with talking around Wei Wuxian’s part in the running for their lives. And even knowing that the Jin stole a lot of Wei Wuxian’s notes after Nightless City I hadn’t stopped to think about what that might mean for Wen Ruohan’s notes. But this whole conversation adds new layers to Lan Wangji’s utter lack of desire to be known as a Mindspeaker and available to be ordered to help the Jin. Over and beyond not liking the Jin. (It’s still not as bad as it’s going to get in 13 years.)

    Liked by 4 people

    1. *Wry G* And NHS is going to talk around that for as long as possible, yes. It’ll come out eventually….

      Yeah. Even in straight Grandmaster, given how many sects Wen Ruohan took out completely, people would have wanted his notes. In a world where the puppets exist? Eep.

      (I see Wei Wuxian as having spent what parts of the war he wasn’t fighting trying like heck to find a cure, or an “immunization”. Which might tie into what he was able to do for Wen Ning.)

      And yes. Lan Wangji might not know all the depths of plot and counterplot going on, but he is sadly much more aware than Lan Xichen.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Ugh Jin Gaungshan. Compared to Wen Ruohan (who went for full tyrannical dictatorship and almost won) and Lord Orthallen (Mastermind in the shadows) he seems like just any old rich pervert. It’s amazing how much agony this scumbag caused.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wen Ruohan at least was open about what he wanted. Lord Orthallen was genuinely sneaky. Jin Guangshan, he was gluttony. I’d say that was his defining sin, though lust would be a close contender. Jin Guangyao’s was pride, followed by wrath. Maybe envy, but wrath for sure.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Not always effective, sadly.

        Short version, husband’s childhood friend got a roid-rage prone boyfriend, who decided husband was hitting on her, and applied a BAT the back of his head.

        Then ran like hell when it cracked, and husband stood there a moment before turning around to look at him.

        Per husband, he stood there blinking until the guy was out of sight, and THEN fell down, but not even any skull damage.

        I figure someone who fights monsters might have the direct physical angle covered better, and I don’t like poison, so….

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am literally shaking– again!– thinking of how much luck/good fortune/Guardian Angel’s effort was burned up by him not being dead.
        It HAD to take the bat already being fractured in a way the guy didn’t notice, and his skull being at just the right angle, and– gah. Stopping now……

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m getting more and more paranoid. The best and most capable spy during the war is now in the Jin clan and there are secret Wen documents missing. “I don’t want to slander” is equivalent to “evidence suggests but there is no real proof”.

    There are no Wen cultivators known alive with the power and knowledge to use those notes. Notice no one mentions other cultivators. In fanfiction, its implied that demonic cultivation is a thing but most demonic cultivators aren’t very powerful with the exception of Wen Ruohan and Wei Wuxian. Neither of them have known students.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Key word is ‘alive.’ Wen Ning might be able to use those notes. Wei Wuxian is able to use those notes. I don’t think either of them would. But that’s the thing. The cultivation world just keeps pushing those two. They can’t seem to stop themselves. If they just left them alone, the Wen Remnants and Wei Wuxian would be content to farm on the Burial Mounds, experiment with inventions that he would probably slip to the Jiang, occasionally come out to dote on his family at least until he couldn’t hide his aging, and just, live. They just wanted to be left alone, so if no one provoked them, they’d stay on their Death Mountain. So what do the Jin do? They provoke them.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. That’s the point. The Jins (well, JGS) want WWX to give them an excuse to kill him. They were trying to poach him from the Jiangs before Qionqi Past part 1, and then he proved he wasn’t going to work with them willingly. And they can’t exactly force the one-man army to work for them, WWX could destroy the Jin sect with ease! So they need to kill him to take his work and creations (the Yin Tiger Seal), because if they can’t have WWX’s power, no one else can.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Wen Qing and Wen Ning didn’t study demonic cultivation. This was possibly restricted to a very select group of Wen disciples. I doubt that Wen Ning’s few disciples knew anything about it.
        The key word might be “Wen”. Xue Yang is a demonic cultivator and possibly working for the Jin right now. NHS is implying that one of the Four Great Sects has that information and might use it.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Wen Ning has his own golden core/resentment problems that would likely keep him from using those notes. Wen Qing doesn’t – but she definitely wouldn’t.

        Wei Wuxian would just want a counter, and to spread that everywhere.

        And yes. Jin Guangshan is the classic, “I want it all, and I’ll wreck anything I don’t get just so no one else can have it.” It’s amazing how many of his sons turned out semi-decent….

        Liked by 1 person

      4. As far as I can tell, Jin Guangshan doesn’t actually raise any of his kids. He lets others do the work and then sweeps in to take the credit later. This is probably for the best.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Nie Huaisang doesn’t want to suspect his good buddy Jin Guangyao, who’s been so horribly wronged in his life by his father and had some falling out with Nie Mingjue that NMJ won’t talk about.

      …If NMJ had told NHS about the whole “slowly torturing Nie cultivators to death to supposedly maintain his cover as a spy,” that mess would have unraveled much sooner.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Ugh, Jin Guangshan is the CREEPIEST mofo (and I use mofo with full implications because he probably would). He’s one of those characters pretty much everyone in the fandom would cheerfully push off a cliff.

    Like, Wen Ruohan was awful, and evil, but he’s a very fantasy evil. A fairly standard megalomaniacal bad guy. JGS though, we’ve all met someone very much like him in real life, haven’t we? Creepy, power obsessed, and completely unable to fathom that other people aren’t exactly like them.

    I am interested to see what our traveling cultivators make of the way bardic gift works and is used in Valdemar! It’s really nothing like how the Lans use music. Bardic gift in the books seems to mostly be emotional manipulation via music. And possibly some physical manipulation because I seem to remember some Bards being able to do stuff like stop pain and potentially stop a heart.

    And I don’t know if it’ll happen, but I find myself grinning gleefully at the thought of JGS sending cultivators to Valdemar after everything goes down and being like, “Hello, we are tracking down these DANGEROUS CRIMINALS. We’ll just nip in and grab them and take them off your hands! No need to thank us!”

    And Valdemar going, “Thanks but no thanks! Now get off our lawn.”

    *cackles*

    Liked by 5 people

    1. That’s if they’re lucky and the Heralds get to them first.

      If they find the Wens first?

      WWX: “Hi there. Did you notice we’re so far away that people can just… disappear, and the Jiang Clan can’t be held responsible? At all?”

      Liked by 5 people

      1. *G* It is 100% canon that people and things just vanish in and around the Pelagires! (an: fuck off dangerous wildmagic forest for those not too familiar with the Valdemar novels. It runs along and through most of the west and north of Valdemar, Rethwellan, and several other countries including where Vathara has set the Sect Lands in this crossover. *points to the tree yao mentioned in ch1* those are actually only minor annoyance type things in the forest. The deeper you go away from the paths, the scarier/weirder things get.)

        “WWX killed my cultivators!” cries Jin Guangshan.

        “Prove it.” smiles Jaing Wanyin.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. *prods wordpress* huh, I sent a reply to this, like, two hours ago but it hasn’t posted…. Did it end up in the trash again, or is the problem on my end?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I imagine, when it comes to the Dread Countess, that the prince may have given some private advice to the investigators on putting up with her, before they went out on circuit duty. He knew the harridan personally, after all.

        If they found out through Truth Spell that she was as abusive as the song claimed, they might have been ‘sloppy’ about using it when verifying the Count’s whereabouts for that evening.

        -Albert

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Re: A Dark and Stormy Night, there’s a chance the Heralds in question couldn’t perform the full truth spell. There are two versions, the big compels the full truth one that really powerful mindspeakers and empaths (and mage gift having Heralds) can do, but there’s a lesser version that just outlines a blue aura around a person then vanishes if they lie.

        If the Heralds that investigated couldn’t do the more powerful version, the staff was free to lie by admission!

        Funnier implication (to me at least) is that since there is an in universe song with the full details, despite the staff all coming forward to vouch for the count, the truth clearly was Known. The poor man might have been acquitted after the fact for extenuating circumstances. Lackey might have mirrored Valdemar’s legal system on America (bc easy) but Valdemar places a higher standard on actual justice than America does. Murder is a perfectly fine response in many more cases than it would be in RL (sadly, lols)

        Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m wondering at what point Lan Wangji was read in on the unofficial goals, since Lan Xichen presumably wasn’t.Were the Nies like “we just really really think you’d like to learn their music” and then a week down the road Huaisang goes “by the way-“? Did they tell Xichen this would be a good opportunity to distract Wangji far away from Wei Wuxian and Xichen just sent him immediately?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. lols, I’m wondering if he HAS been read in yet? LWJ is clearly suspicious, but I’m not seeing any indication that NHS has spilled any of the ‘we’re using you to lure your necromancer not-yet-lover out of the burial mounds and out of the reach of a few amoral assholes, btw how’s your swoon?’ beans yet.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Right, he obviously doesn’t know the part about tricking his true love into a rescue/evacuation, but even talking to him about their suspicions about the Jin would be pretty delicate given how close he is to his brother and how close Xichen is to Meng Yao. Lan Wangji isn’t exactly known for his skills in political manuvering and deception.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Short version?

      Nies to Lan Xichen: We’d like to have you as allies, but your clan needs more power! We found something that might be up your alley, want to check it out? And get your brother away from trouble at the same time?

      Nies to Lan Wangji: We need you to help out your sect and ours! (A day or two on the road.) Aaaand now that we’re in the clear – you know those notes on blood magic? We might have a suspicion on where they went. You know. The kind of suspicion. You don’t talk about. But we think these people know how to fight puppets, so if they have a way to block or cure it-

      LWJ: (Is totally onboard, because if he can prove that blood magic is out there then maybe he can keep that from getting hung around WWX’s neck too. And he needs time to think. And maybe plot some kind of untraceable way for Jin Guangshan to die….)

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Arguably, it doesn’t have to be untraceable. JGS is nasty enough, there’s got to be people willing to look the other way on a plausible deniability level at least.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Never underestimate the power of someone doing a duty all the more because they really don’t want to.

        Have to be more than plausibly deniable, would have to be ” no good reason to look, including It’s My Job.”

        Liked by 1 person

  6. If I remember correctly from the book, Jin Guangyao is at this point friendly with Xue Yang, still obeying his father and trying to please him, jealous of Zixuan but not to the point it reached later when he compared Zixuan’s happy marriage with Yanli to his own miserable one with Qin Su. He hasn’t even married Qin Su yet, though she would already have been courting him, so at least he doesn’t have that particular trauma.
    Remove Xue Yang (quick!!!), remove Jin Guangshan, and let both half brothers deal and talk with each other without Madam Jin’s interference and he might still avoid his fate as a villain.
    He will always be morally grey or he wouldn’t be able to joke aroung with Xue Yang while talking of using demonic spells on living humans, but at least it might not end up in a complete and utter tragedy.
    He might still be able to redirect his intellect to the betterment of the Jin sect and cultivation world as a whole. As a matter of fact he was shown to have done good work as Chief Cultivator.
    But Jin Guangshan needs to die for any of this to be possible… The faster the better. Especially since his greed for the Yin Tyger Seal is part of what ended up pushing Wei Wuxian so far.
    And I think at this point, all the characters agree on that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Please let him not marry Qin Su, no, that was just horrible…. And one of the reasons people born of artificial insemination have argued so hard for an anonymous donor registry so you can at least look up a number if you suspect your Significant Other might be a half-sibling!

      Like

    2. The biggest indictment against either of them is that they are best friends. Jin Guangyao is more of a Lawful Evil vs Xue Yang‘s Chaotic Evil. (Side note, it is interesting that the only two sect cultivators he actually likes are both, for lack of better term, baseborn.)

      Liked by 1 person

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