A Long Road Chapter 4 Ficbit – Wards

“It might take us some time and materials to make something permanent for everyone, but temporary talismans so we can get some sleep? I can do that.” Wei Wuxian hefted the slight weight, already considering potential alterations to arrays he knew.

“Oh good,” Wen Ning sighed.

That drew his sister’s startled attention. “A-Ning. You don’t sleep.”

“That makes it worse, jiejie. They’re staring all the time.”

Now Wei Wuxian hoped the air-spirit had noticed, and that peeling off the talismans had stung. Wen Ning was shy enough already. Bad enough that people stared. He didn’t need yaojing at it too. “But what I’d really like to do,” he mused, half to himself, “is make it so they just ignore us.”

Wen Qing glanced at him, nostrils flared in a way that meant she wished she had the air-spirit in front of her needles. “Why? If you can just drive them off….”

“Supposed to,” Wen Ning breathed. “Oh.”

Wei Wuxian smiled softly, recalling Wen Ning’s look of quiet wonder a year back, when he’d admitted his current state wasn’t all bad. Motion was easier to see, faster… and the world was alight with energy, more than he’d ever sensed as a cultivator.

“There was some kind of energy-net linked to it,” Wei Wuxian stated now. “And where there’s a net, someone wove it.” He grinned, almost yearning for a fight to burn off the frustration and worry. Bad idea, bad idea, he had too many people to protect; but oh, he wanted one. “Anyone who can not just catch wind-spirits, but bind them so it sticks – well, we really don’t want to get their attention!”

Wen Ning nodded, eyes wide. Wen Qing looked like she wished she were the fierce corpse, just to have claws to shred something with. “I thought Valdemar didn’t have people who could bind spirits.”

“That’s what Betony said.” Wei Wuxian eyed the peddler’s ghost, judging how it’d frayed at the edges. Whatever resentment the man had gathered was currently partly dispersed by confusion. He could feed the spirit more energy, but….

Not if I can help it. Angry ghosts are easy to ward against; just convince them you’re not their target. This one has greed and malice laced into his soul. That can turn on anyone.

20 thoughts on “A Long Road Chapter 4 Ficbit – Wards

      1. More of the, “We knew that was a potential security hole but assumed no one else but a Herald and Companion could ever use it, because you’d have to get through MULTIPLE layers of security without getting spotted by the Guards or the Companions,” variety.

        Wei Wuxian is, canon, very OP, very good with locks, and extremely good at sneaking…..

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I mean, he did regularly sneak in and out of CR at 15, only got caught twice, the first through bad luck and the second because LWJ was looking out for him. And he’s only got better.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Ooooh, holy SHT, someone STOP WWX before he pokes at the web. THERE BE DRAGONS THERE. Well, Companions. It’s like kicking a fire ant hill, only the ants are sorta angels shaped like horses.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Would companions be able to recognize WWX’s heritage? Like, I doubt they can, but it would be interesting. And probably motivate them to endear WWX to them, given Vanyel’s…everything.

      I have a sort of mental countdown until the lifebond is revealed, and if he’s known as Vanyel’s descendent? That will act as massive motivation to keep LWJ in one piece, at least to Sayvel and Kellen.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Huh, I don’t think they’d know automatically? Like from power or mental feel or anything like that. But Vathara has hinted broadly that WWX looks rather like Vanyel. Especially eye color and hair color (Probably the same sharp cheek bones too) and looking at the official art and the various versions of WWX, I can see it.

        So that coupled with WWX’s power level and his gloves off personality (Vanyel wasn’t the jokey type, much, but he and WWX are the same kind of scary when protecting people) Kellen and Sayvil are DEFINITELY going to pull up short and go WAIT A MINUTE. (Tho I don’t think the Heraldic Circle will need another reason to keep LWJ in one piece? He’s Kellan’s chosen and a good person in his own right, come hell, high water, or dramatic necromancers.)

        It’s gonna be so GOOD! *G*

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Heck, that’s not even a hint from me – that description is book canon!

        I admit I do like the irony of WWX’s birthday being the one day Vanyel hated above all others…. (Yes, Wei Wuxian’s canon birthday is Halloween. Which in Velgarth is Sovven.)

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      3. Directly? Probably not. Sayvil or Kellen getting a good “look”, physically and magically? Cue, “…No way. Augh.”

        I have a mental image of Lan Wangji recounting a few of the things Wei Wuxian has done. Pre-meeting him, everyone’s freaked out. After they get a look? Sayvil will just be sighing, and nodding, and Very Not Surprised….

        Bunnies are still poking exactly when the lifebond gets revealed and to who. Mind, Nie Huaisang has deduced Wei Wuxian is totally gone for the guy, but doesn’t know it’s mutual…

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh no, no, no; trust me, Wei Wuxian has every reason to avoid poking the Web.

      Granted, this is the guy who took on the Burial Mounds and won. But only ’cause he had to.

      Right now, his priorities are to get the Wens somewhere safe so he can go rescue an idiot Lan. They want to slide under attention!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. To be fair to the peddler, he lived and died by how quickly he could get from one spot to another, especially if like medieval Europe he was constantly facing taxation from local nobles. (Making the _best_ routes the ones that avoid tolls and whatnot altogether.) Telling strangers his smuggling routes would be a survival threat if he was still alive, and disloyal to his region, because foreigners could use paths that avoid the local authorities to raid. (And Rethwellan wasn’t a bad-guy nation like Karse before the True Son of Sun took power, but enough of their nobles were amoral that ‘bandits’ likely border-raided from time to time.)

      Even now as a ghost, telling strangers and foreigners his best routes would be an act of disloyalty to any kin he has that use them, or any friends he had among the living who use them.

      Another part is that because peddlers are always on the move, they can get away with one-night stands more easily than settled folk (with or without the aid of alcohol and other ‘social lubricants’), leading to suspicion regarding the motives of _all_ peddlers. Both because some of them _will_ take advantage of that, and because like all travelers their absence makes a convenient scapegoat when someone’s in the family way a few months later, wanting to blame anyone but the foolishness of herself and her baby daddy.

      -Albert

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  2. This is really tangent-y, but WWX raises fierce corpses when he needs to, so . . .

    Up until the mid 18th century, when a Benedictine monk named Calmet wrote a treatise on stuff that included the vampires of Eastern Europe, it was all local folklore, and typically vampires were corpses who rose from their graves to mindlessly feed. Then Stoker came up with a sapient vampire idea, and the rest is sexualized predatory fantasy come to life, as it were.

    I think I might have ‘proto vampires’ as a form of revenant that can happen ‘naturally’, but are much more likely to be passed on by infection to the living, who if they suspect then have to try some peasant magic if they don’t want to risk being burned alive or some other horrible fate. Obviously cremation would handle the problem after expiring, but if a grave is how you keep a connection to the living, burning the corpse prevents that . . .

    Anyway, somewhat like my desire to fold ogres, oni, rakshasa, and perhaps a few others into being the same kind of creature, with the ‘dumb ogre’ of D&D being what happens when a young ogre doesn’t get enough sophont or near-sophont brain in his diet. Well, maybe a proto-vampire would become sophont after devouring enough lives. (Not blood. Blood keeps it unliving. Gotta get the kill to feed on the mind.) So if people suspect vampirism, they destroy the body ASAP, to handle it before it has enough intelligence to walk among the living and pretend to be one of them.

    Now, in an obvious attempt to tie this all back to the fic, what happens when WWX finds a grave with what he can feel is a fierce corpse, but mindlessly so?

    -Albert

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    1. Er, two problems.

      1) So far as I know, there are no vampires in either Grandmaster or Velgarth canon.

      2) Just about all fierce corpses are mostly mindless. Some remember enough to have specific grudges. Most are just “hate, kill, kill some more”.

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      1. As I said, very tangent-y. But obviously, everyone knows to re-kill the unliving before they devour enough people to evolve to their next form! *shameless grin*

        Actually, that does make me wonder if fierce corpses can get a benefit from drinking the spirits or souls of those they kill. (Even if those shades eventually pass through to a more permanent afterlife.)

        -Albert

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