A Long Road Chapter 4 Ficbit – Safety in Speed

Two years since the end of Sunshot, and Nie Mingjue was still the sects’ best general. He’d sent them with at least two tables that could be broken down and stored in qiankun bags, specifically because an effective strike needed planning first.

Really, really good planning, Wei Wuxian reflected, as he and Wen Ning finished setting up the last braces to make a stable flat surface. They’d had practice at this, hashing and rehashing what they could of a plan ever since they’d left the Burial Grounds. Too good, for him to have thrown it all together less than a week after he got Nie Huaisang’s message. How long were they planning this? Why?

Once he got to Nie Huaisang, he’d ask. For now… Sect Leader Nie’s plan had let him get his people out of the Burial Mounds. He could work with that. The people he protected had their own plan.

But no plan survives contact with the battlefield.

Wei Wuxian breathed out, seeking calm. The plan was still good. They’d just have to tweak it to handle the realities of a strange land. “So if that peddler was right,” he tapped the best map of the area they had, “that town two days back down the road to our east is Zalmon. The town ahead of us is Nottaway, and we’re definitely in Valdemar now. And if Nie Huaisang’s note is true, that was the last anchor he could plant, because of local interference.”

Cousin Renshu frowned. “Those… air-spirits?”

“Might be!” Wei Wuxian agreed. “Anyway, from here on out it’s our own feet. So road conditions matter.”

Wen Ning peered over the map. “T-they’re not good. The other maps said these were roads. If this map is here… everything’s dirt, with a few rocks. Not paved. And the crows are flying low. We’re going to have storms.”

“Mud,” Cousin Renshu groaned. “We’re going to be slow.”

“Too slow, if we have to kidnap back three cultivators and outrun an army.” Wen Qing traded a long look with her cousin. Straightened her shoulders, and stared fiercely at Wei Wuxian. “But the two of you aren’t slow at all.”

31 thoughts on “A Long Road Chapter 4 Ficbit – Safety in Speed

  1. Hehehe, at least he’s got warning that Things Ain’t Kosher…..otherwise you could end up writing a horror story with the Ghost General in the middle of Haven and Not Happy….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wen Ning is already Not Happy, and thinking of a few choice words he’d like to say to Lan Wangji for getting them all into this mess.

      (Wen Ning is a sincerely, honestly Nice Guy. He’s also got a looooooot of anger stored up.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I mean, canonically he became a stupidly powerful fierce corpse through the power of repression! He shoved all his anger and negative feelings down until he died, then they exploded out when WWX called him up. It kinda happens again, post-second siege, when he tears JC a well-deserved new one re: the core transfer.

        I love him, but this boy badly needs a therapist and ways to express his anger that isn’t bottling it up till it explodes.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I love him, but this boy badly needs a therapist and ways to express his anger that isn’t bottling it up till it explodes.

        Or killing. Also a bad expression…effective, though….

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I believe that until Niè Mingjue became one, Wen Ning was the strongest fierce corpse. Very impressive when you realize that Niè Mingjue cultivated with resentful animal energy his whole life, not to mention whatever he picked up as an active participant during Sunshot.

        That’s a lot of resentment.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. So they need to find a place for the nascent clan to bunker down and wait while the necromancer and his mostly-free-willed zombie-in-chief fly to Haven at top speed.

    IIRC, Vanyel’s country-wide spell doesn’t just feed vrondi, it nudges Heralds to come deal with problems. How is it going to react to a pair of magical types heading Haven-ward at the speed of flying sword (or whatever Wen Ning uses)?

    -Albert

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Don’t quote me on this, but I think WN might be able to match, if not outrun, swords? He managed to get WWX away from the ambush at Qionqi path safely.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The Watership Down quote is perfect for Wei Wuxian. “All the world will be your enemy, Prince Woth A Thousand Enemies. And when they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you.”

        As does the quote, “being able to see me coming and being able to avoid me are two very different skill sets.”

        Liked by 4 people

  3. If Wei Wuxian thinks he can stroll up to a foreign nation and pluck his best friend, his best friend’s cousin/bodyguard, and Lan Zhan out of trouble, dust them off, send them on their way, and then wander away without Lan Zhan… I will honestly die if Valdemar‘a first experience with a drunk Lan is Lan Wangji in Wei Wuxian’s presence. It’ll be a learning curve, particularly if Wei Wuxian wasn’t the one who procured the drink.

    And Wen Qing is amazing. She really is. Here she is, her people are about to set off in the rain to rescue someone she’s not all that sure she wants to ever see, and she’s going to send her beloved baby brother(s) ahead of them to do it anyway. (Side note, are they making a beeline towards some of the blood poisoned land, on the basis that if they can settle in fast enough it’ll be harder to object? They have to get somewhere with walls and a roof before winter sets in. And they have to be on tenterhooks because they don’t know how fast seasons change yet. Luckily, they’re moving before the mage storms get really going, but they are cultivators, and they’ve been living in an inhospitable territory. They might not know why they know trouble is coming. But they do know. Oh hey, do you think the blood poisoned land would be more or less susceptible to having change circles pop up? Do you think the transport circles that bounce people to random places might be places where transport circles/Gates were used once upon a time, and the magic remembered it?) Sorry, long diversion. Part of fulfilling their bargain, or something else? She survived Wen Ruohan’s court, and she and her family survived her and Wen Ning healing the Jiang. (And undoing what Wen Chao ordered done. Which is, wow. Complete and utter treason. Badass lady.)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. According to the official map of Valdemar, Zalmon is on the south western border of Valdemar near the Pelagir Forest, so that would put them on the opposite side of the country from the war-poisoned lands near the Hardornen border.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. The blood-poisoned land is on the far side of Valdemar from where they are. Otherwise they’d consider it. 🙂

      Will have to chew the rest of this for a thoughtful reply….

      Edit: Wei Wuxian at this point honestly thinks he and Lan Wangji have gotten to a friendly truce. So, rescue, absolutely, but of course Lan Wangji has responsibilities to his clan to go back to. That’s how it’s always gone before.

      Given the meeting scenario I have in mind, drunk LWJ is entirely possible due to a well-meaning Herald or Healer. Oops.

      Wen Qing is both extremely practical and honorable. Whatever Nie Huaisang’s actually planning, he gave them the chance to make a run for it somewhere the sects can’t easily get to. A rescue is owed, and it’ll be carried out. Not to mention setting up a base is important for the rescue. If they have to pull out three cultivators and run from a whole angry nation’s army, they’ll need a bolthole. On top of that… well, her brother and Wei Wuxian are the most likely to survive any trouble and successfully shake it off their trail. If Valdemar’s too dangerous to stay in, those two will find out.

      Huh. The change-circles and transports are old, powerful torn magic rippling back; not sure the blood magic would be deep enough to affect that one way or another.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. This is, again, only if my memory is correct, but there was a pattern to the change circles, that could be calculated mathematically. The Cataclysm was two enormously powerful explosions at the same time, that echoed off each other, and then a thousand or so years later echoed back to where they started. It was something to do with where the wave front of those explosions intersected and with the wave front hitting unshielded natural nodes and ley line intersections that created change circles. Wait…unshielded nodes..golden cores are essentially internal cores…um, that could be bad…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh, canon that was a nasty effect. The Owl books mention it, I believe specifically Wizard Justin muses about it. The storms rendered some powerful mages less so, some powerful mages got nerfed all the way down to hedgewitch, some hedgewitches found themselves unceremoniously booted into a much higher weight class, and some lost the mage gift completely. And some rode out the storms without any change to their personal Gift at all.

        So, cultivators are probably going to be okay, because they aren’t touching outside power. I think even demonic cultivators should be ok, just due to how they handle energy and how wary they are when doing it.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Fortunately all cultivators learn how to shield their cores. And the rest of them.

        Reports of the Core-Melting Hand’s technique may be of extreme interest for the Mage Storms, yes.

        (And if it’s math, Wei Wuxian can get it down.)

        Liked by 1 person

    4. Also, just for the lols, picture this: Some Herald gives Wangji a drink. Drunk Wangji wakes from his mini-nap, looks around with a frown, stands up, says “He’s here” and immediately starts walking toward wherever Wei Wuxian has concealed himself and Wen Ning. Which is somewhere in Haven’s less reputable neighborhoods. He makes a nearly direct beeline for them, jumping over walls and buildings as necessary. He stares at Wei Wuxian for a moment, glomps, and starts petting his hair, grumbling “Mine, mine, mine” the entire time. He is, of course, followed by several people who get rather violently shrugged off when they try to stop him and they are watching this with various shades of “what the f*?” going through their minds.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Tables as a necessary part of military equipment!!. Well if you have maps and paper I guess you need tables. It is truly ridiculous that a group with mages can get into Valdemar without being detected BUT in one of the last real Valdemar stories that I remember clearly, someone brought a group of mercenaries over the border and to the Capitol without interference.
    For the record I was screaming about this internally. A foreign group should have been met at the border. Someone should have arranged every stop into the country with camping spots and inns/taverns/army forts/merchant caravansi until they were at their final destination — NOT the capitol. The escort should be of sufficient political rank — midlevel Herald — to deal with any problems that even thought of coming up. Argh. The Stupid is everywhere!
    I would have thought that whatever is hampering mages would have prevented flying, but fierce corpse Wen Ning could travel very fast and carry Wei Wuxian.
    The Wen have gotten use to blitzkrieg military operations. Why bother with scouting? Get in and get out and ask questions later. Thats actually not that stupid. The first thing is to make sure Lan Wangji and the Nies are safe.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. The only thing hampering mages is the vrondi staring at them and driving them paranoid to insane – it’s explicitly stated at a few points that magic works just fine in Valdemar. The Herald’s Truth Spell is, in fact, magic.

      And Wei Wuxian has every intention of scouting when he gets closer to Haven. ATM they’re on the eastern border of Valdemar, weeks away on horseback!

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Ah, but I question whether those mercenaries came in as a single large group. My bet, if we assume their leader had any intelligence whatsoever, would be they crossed the border in groups of no more than 4 or 5 and regrouped nearer to their target in order to avoid such scrutiny. And I’m not entirely certain that bunch had any mages with them. if they did not, then they wouldn’t have triggered the vrondi to watch them.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. @AnonAMouse. The story was about Kerovan and the Skybolt company coming in as a group to accept a contract with Valdemar. They were there for a legitimate purpose, they just traveled in a very unregiulated and unorganized fashion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And their mages did not make it to the capital. They tried bless their souls, but the Vrondi got to them and they had to turn back. And as I recall, the Heralds and most of the armed forces were stuck in a morass of a battle with Ancar. They probably just plain didn’t have the forces to escort them there. Remember, at the end the Heralds were planning on getting Selanay out of the trap that Ancar put them in, and then turning right back around and diving back in.

      So, yes. The cultivators will understand that. It’s absolutely what Lan Qiren did for his nephew during the Burning.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Cultivators will make a lot more sense to Valdemar once the storms get going, yeah. They are also probably going to be the one set of people who ride this train without noticing anything besides more of the same.

    Liked by 2 people

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