A Long Road Chapter 5 Ficbit – Swordflight

Lord and Lady, he did not just-!

:He did,: Ahrodie chuckled into Dirk’s mind. :Come and see, my brother! It’s amazing.:

Well. He might not be as young or indecently agile as his odd student, but he surely hadn’t become such a stuffy old instructor that he couldn’t manage scrambling out a window.


Ahrodie was right under it to catch him, so he didn’t end up facedown in tended greenery. She whickered a laugh, then nodded toward the sky. :Look! Look at that! And Kellen didn’t BeSpeak us one whisper of it!:

Kellen was standing not far off, mane flung back with the air of a Companion determined not to boast about his Chosen, even if said Chosen was currently… racing the clouds. Dear gods.

Watching gray tumble and soar, white headband flashing in the sun, Dirk grinned, and revised his estimate of Lan Wangji’s age down a few years. Experienced with his Gifts, yes, veteran of a truly horrible war, definitely – but that skyward dash was the act of a man still young enough to be Dramatic.

Dirk sighed, and chuckled. Not that he could blame the man. Fighting to Fetch a leaf must be so frustrating, when his own training let him do this.

And speaking of. :Can I borrow your senses again, my sister?:

:Oh, do.: Ahrodie’s mind-voice was full of wonder. :Who knew that-:

The thought cut off with a finality Dirk recognized from his few conversations with Rolan. Here was something the Companions would not speak of. Frustrating.

But for some things, you were better figuring out the answers yourself.

Dirk let himself sink into trance as Lan Wangji played in the sky, watching through Ahrodie’s sense that… wasn’t quite sight, and somehow related to how she knew to adjust her gait into the incredible pace of a Companion.

:We pull in energy,: Ahrodie admitted. :As Sayvil says mages do. He does not.:

:Mostly does not,: Dirk corrected, feeling carefully at that flow of power. :It’s almost like Truth Spell. When we cast that, there’s more strength than just our Gifts behind it.:

42 thoughts on “A Long Road Chapter 5 Ficbit – Swordflight

      1. I am weak to the pretty, yes. I think we need to bring that back into society as a whole.

        Side note: Plotbunnies are off-and-on-bugging me about, would it be possible to write a Western style of “cultivation novel” drawing off stuff from alchemy, aether, other bits I haven’t found yet, and western swordplay….

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Maybe? Something like?

        I’m not sure if I can pull it off with what I know, but I think it’d be interesting. Plus there’s those bits in the lore about “the quest for the philosopher’s stone is actually about refining yourself”.

        Two key things the bunnies want. 1) The idea that whether or not you’re born with magical gifts, you can still work to improve yourself and get beyond normal human abilities. And that it does take work – no poof, today you’re a superhero. 2) Just the sense of wonder and doing the impossible that seems to be missing from a lot of modern western fantasy these days.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. So Zorro with Batman the guy whose superpower is determination, and PHILOSOPHY!

        …I may have to steal the idea of stealing from alchemy for my magic system. It beats “born special.”

        Liked by 2 people

      4. I’m poking the concept of aether as the Greeks apparently defined it – like air, but purer and clearer, breathed by the gods. Supposedly only existing in traces in the mortal realms. Hmm….


      5. I would make it different than Chinese internal alchemy, certainly. Maybe start with biofeedback and other meditative disciplines, then very risky chemical ingestion that has to be guided by biofeedback to create ‘aetheric currents’, i.e. better control over bio-electric energy.

        At that point, you display your grasp of ‘true philosophy’ by altering and replacing internal organs, suppressing the rejection reaction by your body’s defenses.

        Failure can lead to death by immune system rejection, death by disease (whoops, you suppressed _all_ the immune system response), death by brain tumors (superior organs still require brain adaptation to utilize them properly), death by mutation, death by locals responding to violent insanity, etc.

        People who don’t live in the cultivation world have ‘philosopher’s stone’ and other alchemical myths as misunderstood cultivation methods. Or as side effects of various cultivation trials, which might get given away or sold off once they aren’t useful for further trials.

        My understanding is that something like the leyden jar existed back in antiquity, which if you’ve got excellent control over bio-electricity might have been a power source in a magician’s lair, perhaps to smite intruders with.

        I further understand that the amount of ionizing radiation we get is about half the optimum amount for health purposes, essentially a hormetic effect, where a low-stress source causes the body to overreact in healthy ways. Western cultivators might take in radioactive substances as a dangerous ordeal: If your bio-electric control is good enough you learn how to make your body over-perform at a whole new level, if it isn’t you sicken and die in the next several months, and either way this is going to make you horribly sick so you won’t know if you passed the test until you recover . . . or not.

        Compared to stuff like becoming stronger than Brahma, this is strictly street-level cultivation power levels, but I’ve always felt that ‘I add a couple of zeroes on the end of your god’s power level, now my god is bestest’ is lazy power-brag anyway.


        Liked by 2 people

  1. *cackles* yep, flying is NOT standard in Valdemar at all, tho iirc the heir to the throne had a winged Companion is some legends? (Word of the author, and the song Windrider Unchained, but we never see it in the flesh, so to speak)

    I love Dirk mentally subtracting a few years for LWJ’s dramatic wooosh out the window exit/take off. Sound logic, and true right now! But LWJ doesn’t appear to /ever/ grow out of dramatic entrances and exits from what I’ve seen.

    Neat that Dirk can borrow Ahrodie’s mage sight! I knew Heralds and Companions could look through each other’s eyes so borrow other senses, but didn’t follow that to the idea they could borrow a sense the other one might not naturally have. *facepalm* silly of me, but it’s early.

    …. Has LWJ made any leaves explode yet? Frustration plus Fetching plus energy manipulation might add up to exploding leaf bits everywhere.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Dirk jumping out the window to watch sword flight is just💘.

    Poor Kerowyn any trainee who sees that is going to break down her door in a “Can we learn that?!!!” frenzy.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. I think the trainees know not to try clearly dangerous sword techniques without the Weaponmaster’s permission. No one wants Kero or Alberich on their case for being careless.

        Slightly off topic but did you know that MDSZ is getting a mobile game? The Promo art is stunning. When Wei Ying reaches Haven this is probably the image I”ll have in my head


        Liked by 1 person

  3. I hate to tell you this, Dirk, but in all actuality Lan Wangji is just Like That. He is much younger than you think, but behind that Petty interior, is a Dramatic soul. Not as loudly Dramatic as Wei Wuxian, but it’s there.

    Now, lessee here, they met at 15, the Qishan Conference at 16/17, Summercamp From Hell at 16/17, three year sod Sunshot so 19/20, a year to the Phoenix Mountain Kiss at 20/21, a few months for Qiongqi Way Disaster Part 1 so solidly 21, about a year later for the wedding and birth, so they’re roughly 21/22. Wow. Yeah, he’s still going to have Dramatic all over him. Is that about the time frame this is using?

    …. How old do these people think they are? I mean, they probably aren’t thinking just barely out of teens as the leads on diplomatic relations for a very foreign country, but still. On the other hand differing facial features may make picking out age difficult. On the other other hand, I can’t do that at all with any form of accuracy. So.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. And it’s Velgarth canon that mages stay pretty and fit longer than regular people, a fact that Kero likely mentioned when they were discussing Wen Ruohan being over a hundred and still fighting fit. So they’ve maybe guessed early to mid 30s?

        Liked by 2 people

    1. He is. Making Dramatic Entrances framed by the rising moon and everything!

      And yeah. They’re somewhere in the 21-23 range, plenty of time for Drama.

      As for how old… hmm. Heralds are supposed to be in the field and responsible by about 18, so it may not have registered to anyone from Valdemar that these people are really young for the job. When more details come out, Selenay is going to be hit with the awful realization that young as they are they are in charge, and more that they were in charge at 17-18 during an all-out war, because Wen Ruohan killed all the adults.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. I can’t tell you how excited I have been for this.
    I’ve been picturing him flying out a window to go fight something but I love that he is dramatic enough to just use it as an exit without needing a reason.
    It’s actually very in character

    Liked by 2 people

      1. NHS: “I am betrayed, betrayed! Why would you do this?”
        -LWJ gives a slight smirk with translates to ‘You know why. You want the long list of reasons for the condensed version?’

        Liked by 3 people

  5. Oh this is a glorious vision!
    And I’ll bet that fetching class was really frustrating for LWJ as he tries to learn something entirely new for the first time in decades and it’s a good idea to take a break by practicing something he’s already good at for a while

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Ohhh, please say this will happen again when the gryphons show up, imagine the acrobatics!

    And also the baby gryphons meeting WWX, cuteness dogpile!

    Liked by 4 people

      1. /I thoroughly approve of many-braids-Nies./
        -Looks at the rather impressive hairstyles etc of the main cast-
        Half the women in Haven are going to want to kill them al out of sheer jealousy over that hair and the other half are going to want to ask them for pointers.

        Liked by 4 people

  7. I have a very persistent image in my head of Lan Wangji getting stressed and somehow finding his way to a rabbit hutch/farm and someone later finds that he has let them all out and is just laying in a heap of rabbits like the Disney princess he absolutely is.

    Liked by 3 people

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