A Long Road Chapter 5 Ficbit – Muddying the Waters

A/N: WP apparently being wonky, we’ll see if this post works as it should….

“Mud.” Herald Arvil sighed as they clopped their way down the road and into the village of Crispinstown. A large village, as far as the Pelagirs went; meaning there was a Waystation nearby, a meeting hall, a proper if small temple, a blacksmith among other shops, and some less-busy citizens already turning to look at him. He really owed them a bit of thanks; they had to have stolen some time from autumn harvest to tamp down the soil and spread fresh sand and gravel before the storm the other night, making the footing here in town so much better. Still. It was autumn, and damp, and his leg ached. “I want a hot bath so much.”

Graya bobbed her head in agreement, with a glance back that said he’d better have a good hot-towel rubdown for her, too. Mud matting up past her fetlocks was not pleasant.

Huh. The road seemed a bit more churned than it should be, gravel stirred as if dozens of horses had passed through in the night. Which seemed unlikely. There were regular traders down the frontier roads from Miston or Foxton, and sometimes small caravans of people willing to risk starting a new village in the uncanny woods. But dozens of riders, and not one wagon wheel track? “I didn’t hear anything about Darkwall or Forgotten Keep sending out riders. Did you?”

Graya shook her head. Her ears twitched, obviously paying closer attention to the town now.

Arvil frowned, looking Crispinstown over in more detail before he committed to standing on his own two feet. This was supposed to be a regular Circuit, to hear any cases outstanding that village justice couldn’t solve. But it was also meant to reassure Valdemar’s citizens that Queen Selenay hadn’t forgotten those who lived in the shadows of the Pelagirs just because there was a war threatening in the East.

Nothing looked wrong here. And he didn’t have any of the immediate impulse to move now that would be his Foresight kicking in. Yet tracks didn’t lie.

Graya dropped her head as she walked for a better look at those tracks, then gave him a look askance.

“We’ll find out about it,” Arvil agreed, dismounting; tucking the reins up so Graya could stick her nose into anything interesting. “That many horses, someone has to know something.”

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14 thoughts on “A Long Road Chapter 5 Ficbit – Muddying the Waters

  1. Here comes the circuit Herald and Companion (OCs of yours?)! Nosy is part of the profession unfortunately for WWX and the Wens. While your average farmer or villager is gonna see signs of a bunch of people moving thru in the night and go ‘Not My Problem’ (which I’m sure WWX and the Wens are counting on) a Herald isn’t gonna do that. XD

    Hopefully the coming interaction won’t be too psychologically scarring for anyone?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Arvil and Graya are from a few of the anthologies, so not my OCs. They turned out to be in about the right place at about the right time, so I figured they’d be a great “first introduction” to Heralds for our poor Wen Remnant.

      …As for psychological scarring – hopefully not too much? Arvil’s mentally pretty tough. Even a ghost shouldn’t shake him. Much.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh okay! *looks him up real quick* I really need to replace my destroyed copies of the anthologies (plus get the ones I never got) because its been a long time since I read them.

        He seems like a really neat character! I don’t remember him, so his stories must be in volumes I never got. His and Graya’s interesting form of communication sounds especially cool. I look forward to seeing how both sides handle things!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The first story with Arvil is in Crucible. Conveniently, that’s the one that puts him in this edge of Valdemar in the first place.

        In the short story he’s actually there a few months after Elspeth and co. take out Ancar and Hulda, but I figured nobody would mind too much if I had him on Circuit a bit early. 🙂

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  2. Huh. I’d thought Lackey may have decided that a main character who couldn’t talk was not something she wanted to handle again. Talia is the only Herald in the main stories that can’t talk to her Companion as I recall. Might be wrong, been ages since I read them.

    And maybe Wen Qing can help his leg pains a bit, if only for a little bit of relief. That kind of injury and long term weakness probably also means he’s got at least a low level of chronic pain.

    I don’t blame the townsfolk if they ‘didn’t see anything!’ They’re in the Pelagirs. It’s not a safe neighborhood, even if careful people can survive and thrive there. (See: Owl books, specifically book one, where we had perfectly normal trappers who made a good living there.)

    On the other hand, it would be just Wei Wuxian‘s luck if they had an axel break or a shoe thrown, or had to stop because someone else had that happen. Or if they found someone hurt, because healers. And someone Up There is making arrangements. I wonder what the Star-Eyes gets out of this? Is she taking an interest because Kero is now in Valdemar? Kero’s one of hers after all.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Arvil’s short stories are written by Angela Penrose.

      Wen Qing probably will want a good look at him, once the current trouble gets handled. Some massage and acupuncture might do a world of good. 🙂

      Heh. Also bear in mind the Wen Remnant is trying to sneak, sneak, sneak! The locals know there are “a few” strangers nearby – they don’t realize most of them snuck past already.

      And yep, thrown shoe is what happened. 🙂 Of course WWX finds more trouble after that….

      *G* My bunnies are pondering the exact relation between the Star-Eyed and Guanyin in this AU. ‘Cause if anyone could use a little mercy with swords added….

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  3. There are around 50 people in WWX’s party which is tiny for an army but large for a camping trip. Its likely someone would have seen them, but since Heralds are judges as well as messengers they might not have reported it. Some groups really hate authority.
    Why is Wen Qing complaining about roads? If the trees are cleared and there is gravel laid its at least a road, even if not paved. She must have high standards and thinking of military roads.
    Would anyone be dragging bushes behind the last horses to obscure the trail? This might be more noticeable than not doing anything.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Uhh, have you ever had to slog through a dirt road after fifty people and horses passed over it? Like, my friend, that is legitimately Not Fun. And they are also worried about getting stuck in an ice storm. You have fifty people in various states of health that do not include actually healthy for their age and now they might have to slog through mud and muck and ice. I’ve been on a gravel road that had been subjected to a high degree of water and traffic. People who had no four wheel drive couldn’t drive on it, due to mud. The gravel was gone. Everyone parked at the end of the road where it had paving and either walked or used a four wheel drive to get home. Paving it finally became a financial priority for the neighborhood. The first thing to happen? The pavers put down fist sized rocks, then regular gravel, then the paving. And driving on that second layer of gravel was different then before. Just putting rocks on dirt helps if there’s not a lot of consistent tractor or a lot of inclement weather. Wen Qing has some legitimate issues with the dirt rods they’re on, especially when they are facing having to put up shelter before the winter really sets in.

      Liked by 5 people

    2. Wen Qing does have high standards, yes. She also has immediate responsibility for about 60-odd people who are, to be brief, don’t all know how to handle horses and are in very poor shape for traveling even if they have had nearly two years past Sunshot.

      Wei Wuxian alone is, canon, what we’d call medically fragile. He’s in constant pain, and since he spent most of his life growing up with a golden core he often forgets and overdoes things that he just can’t do anymore. Like, say, drinking water without boiling it first if he gets distracted….

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  4. I’ve never claimed those were “good” roads, but for purposes of reading a map they are roads as opposed to open praire. Wen Qing seems like a person who would appreciate Roman style military roads with grading and decent drainage and a foundation that goes way past the frost point, and ditches on either side, and a horse road running alongside.
    Historically speaking a number of roads have been seasonal. New England roads used to be best in the winter with packed snow. Russian roads were impassible in the wet season — spring and fall. Iowa Country roads could turn into swamp.

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