A Long Road Chapter 5 Ficbit – Trouble

“I’ll make good with you when we get back,” Arvil shot back over his shoulder as Graya started off. “That woman’s in trouble. We have to help.”

“Hmph. Heralds! Supposed to uphold justice, and they go running after thieves in a fix they made themselves….”

The rest of the annoyed mutter was lost in the distance, as Graya picked up speed. Not too much, the stranger was keeping up without trouble, but fast enough to keep that red ribbon in bobbing view. “I’m Herald Arvil,” he said as they plunged past the houses and uphill into the forest. “This is my Companion, Graya. I didn’t catch your name?”

“T-this one is Wen Ning.” He didn’t even sound winded. “We have to be careful. She’s not taking the milk for her.”

Graya’s ears perked up, blue eyes wide. She whinnied, quiet and sad.

“That’s why we have to find her this time.” Wen Ning’s dark gaze was just as worried as he followed the faint trail Wei had left through brush and around briars. “You heard the shopkeeper. It’s been a week.”

What in the Havens? “You heard Graya?” He couldn’t hear Graya himself; no Mindspeech to speak of, though they’d worked out their own ways of talking. A stranger showing up in Valdemar with Mindspeech meant trouble. Or a Companion showing up on Search. Or both.

“N-not words?” Wen Ning shrugged, casting about for a moment as if listening to the wind, then forging slightly uphill from Wei’s trail. Graya took the better footing gladly. “I can feel spirits. She’s a spirit. Just… a live one?”

Graya nodded. Glanced at her Herald, still worried, and picked up her pace. Carefully. They’d come over one of the odd ridges that rippled the earth between the main roads and Lake Evendim, down into a dip between several hills with a brisk stream running at the bottom. It flashed gray-silver in the sun, bright with speckles of autumn leaves, and yet all Arvil felt was cold.

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34 thoughts on “A Long Road Chapter 5 Ficbit – Trouble

      1. On the other hand, they’re also likely to be the sort that recognize that someone who can do vast damage but are functionally harmless are vastly preferable to those who are harmless due to inability…..

        Liked by 4 people

  1. It’s a very good thing that this version of things has Wen Ning still alive…

    Although, honestly, it’s not like Companions can say anything about post-living people walking around and doing stuff.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Since WN can her Companions w/o mindspeech…can WWX? This is going to be…interesting. I don’t think Heralds has ever stumbled across this particular ability before…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. *headtilt* I could have sworn there was a short story or two that featured someone with an ‘open’ kind of mindspeech that heard anything anyone sent in their area? IDK, I might be mixing book series tho.

      I do know Dyheli, and maybe Kyree too, hear all thoughts all the time all around them unless they actively block them tho. (Sapient deer people and large wolf-cat-ish people. Not anthropomorphic.) Valdemar hadn’t dealt with them since Vanyel’s time tho.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. O_________O

        THAT’S the one this is based on?!?!? Oh noooooooooo. *hides behind a pillow* oh dear oh dear OH DEAR

        Liked by 2 people

      2. You can probably guess why a Herald is needed too!

        BTW, the story not only turns up in California, Arizona, and the Appalachians – there’s also several versions in Japan!

        (I looked, but couldn’t find one in China. Though there’s a different Chinese supernatural entity she also fits.)

        Liked by 1 person

      3. And she brings resentful energy with her, encouraging people to treat her badly, I take it?

        How many microseconds did it take WWX to hear her thoughts/obsession, then deduce exactly what was going on? Assuming he ran ahead, she might already be digging her little one out of the grave.

        -Albert

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Took me moment to remember what story you were referring to. I’m more familiar with the Click-shaw, or Shoom-paw as my parents called him, so I had to shuffle my mental files, and a little internet searching, to find it.
        Nice touch.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Click-clack man is pretty similar to the story I grew up with. The only difference is that Shoom-paw was a lumberjack who became trapped under a massive tree and, depending on the version, was left to die out of hatred by his fellow lumberjacks, or when they went to get help a snowstorm kept them from returning.

        Either way, when folks returned to the sight, they found the lower half of the man still trapped while the rest of him was gone.

        Believe when I say that story kept me up most nights as a kid.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. 😀 awww, is Wen Ning making friends? Good, he could use some outside of WWX and his family. I’m sure the mindhealers will have lots to say about unhealthy levels of codependency when The Drama is over, the dust has settled, and they’ve eased all parties into the idea of therapy.

    WWX and LWJ could also use some new friends! Here’s hoping they both get some (not to say they don’t or didn’t have friends in the Sect Lands, but all of those came with political bullshit too). Large support networks for the win!

    It’s worth noting to folks unfamiliar with the Valdemar novels that lifebonds (soulmates) like LWJ and WWX, are not supposed to be scary codependent either. The whole ‘my soulmate is the only thing that matters’ ideal in a lot of soulmate stuff isn’t what a lifebonds is supposed to be. Its considered kind of inevitable that SOME kind of close relationship forms, but it doesn’t have to be romantic, or the only close relationship the lifebonded people have. And it’s fully possible to put other concerns before any lifebonds, though that’s usually a sad thing, like Queen Elspeth the 1st never being able to acknowledge her own life bond (whom she very much romantically loved) because she was using the possibility of a political marriage as a bargaining chip most of her life.

    If I had to pick a similar type of soulmate thing from media I’d liken it to the whole Pacific Rim drift compatible thing tbh. A little more compulsory (tho not insurmountable if there’s something wrong like one part being a bad person this lifetime!) than that, but closer than a lot of other versions.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, that codependency is actually a survival trait right now. It doesn’t work in ordinary life, but in the life they’re currently living? Absolutely necessary.

        Also, I again would like to state that my brain is insisting that Wen Ning is functionally a two-legged Companion. Only their link/bond was done by desperate mortals, so it’s not as smooth as the four legged Companions. And it’s not like any of them knew it was possible in the first place. And Wei Wuxian at least is aware of what he could do on accident and is taking steps to avoid swamping Wen Ning. Too bad that he doesn’t make provisions to prevent Wen Ning from swamping him. Thankfully we aren’t going back to Qiongqi Path this story.

        And I see they haven’t stopped to explain the naming conventions. Fair, they don’t seem to have time. And I think they’re going faster than Arvil fully realizes, just because Wen Ning can keep up doesn’t mean much. He can outpace them after all.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Functionally, yep, there’s a lot in common. The whole controlling magic dizi thing is a twist….

        *G* Ah, you noticed! Graya’s noticed too. But getting this problem solved takes precedence over pointing out to her Herald that this guy is not quite human-standard.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I didn’t mean that the codependency was a BAD thing right now! I just meant, later, when they all have a chance to be safe and relax it might not be such a good thing, but it’s a thing the mindhealers in Valdemar are very equipped to help with, I think?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Although I honestly wouldn’t call LWJ and WWX codependent at all? After all, none of WWX’s decisions to this point in the timeline (within the novel, not counting the setup in this fic) have been based on LWJ, just his own moral compass and the circumstances he finds himself in. LWJ is more focused on WWX, but then again LWJ is busy questioning all the things he thought were black and white and simple in the world, and WWX was a catalyst for a lot of that…

      Liked by 2 people

  4. -Checks out folklore that is inspiring the latest insanity WWX is diving into-
    Well that explains where the ‘new seedling’ is coming from. Though I have this sneaking suspicion that said kid will be a shoe-in for WWX’s ghost path (after he works some of the kinks out).

    Though I wonder about two things;
    1. Will WWX be adding another ghost to the squad or will the ‘mother’ be able to pass on when the child is rescued?
    2. How badly is the village going to take all this? Because there was that mention of property damage.

    Talia: “How do you cope with the insanity that man causes just by being him?”
    Nie Huaisang: “I have found alcohol helps.”

    Liked by 3 people

      1. WWX is the magical equivalent of new safety regulations. Like, when helmets were declared mandatory, hospitals started getting SO many more motorcyclists in the ER. It looked sorta like the helmets were causing more injuries than there ever were before, when really, these were all people that would have died if they hadn’t been wearing helmets. Same story for seatbelts, and railings on walkways.

        It looks like WWX is causing more chaos, but really WAY more people would die if he didn’t stick his nose into things!

        Liked by 4 people

  5. What no on has said yet is that in terms of ghosts this could be SO much worse. Mother ghosts are nasty. Baby ghosts are legit terrifying.

    Like

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