Ah, the Herald. Well, at least he wasn’t running. “Angry ghost!” Wei Wuxian stood straight, feeling at the roil of energy around them. Not just a human ghost, but all the malice and power of the dead tree’s yaoguai. Great. “I’ll draw her out so we can talk.”
Easier said than done. But will was enough to hold the ward, now that he’d shaped it. He bent his tunes to work-songs, field-songs; anything and everything to remind a spirit it had been human, it had lived. A snatched bit of the spinning-song he’d heard walking through the town in early morning….
Violet crackled. A whole rotted limb, tall as a tree, sailed through frozen air.
The ward rippled from the impact; held, even if his bones rattled. Behind the flute he breathed a sigh of relief. Good. Let it keep throwing wood at them. There were a hundred ways an angry spirit could murder, from choking the breath in their lungs to swallowing them in a sea of vermin. Chunks of dead tree? Impressive, but not a problem.
Sometimes he wondered how Granny and the others could bear to look at him. They knew what the Ghost Flute had done, before he’d been the Yiling Patriarch. They knew.
“Stop!” the Herald called over his tune, over the howling fury of wind and forest. “Mistress, please stop! I’m Herald Arvil; this is my Companion, Graya. We’re going to look after your son. We’re going to seek justice for you!”
Resentment crumbled; solidified again, reforming. Wei Wuxian eased into lighter notes, dancing around that spinning song. Anything that sounded local, that would remind the ghost this was her Herald. One of the people her country trusted to see true justice done.
Even if I have no idea how. He’s traveling with a living spirit, but that can’t be enough. The good aren’t always righteous, and just because someone’s evil, doesn’t mean what they did was wrong.
Though the spirit-horse definitely helped. That bright power was shielding all three behind him from any stray resentful energy. So long as he held the ward against physical harm, the child was safe. Let the Herald talk.
The ghost solidified out of the cold wind, tattered dress and all. “My baby.”
“He’s alive,” Herald Arvil assured her, as Wei Wuxian took the respite to breathe deep, and pick a few leaves out of his hair. “We’re getting a Healer. You saved him.”
“He’s mine!” Her eyes went dark, so dark; holes of night and shadow. She advanced on the ward, a tigress ready to pounce. “You’re taking him away-!”