A Long Road Chapter 5 Ficbit – Lan Cutlets

Surfacing from trance, Dirk blinked. There weren’t a horde of people trampling his feet, not yet, but there were plenty of Trainees, Heralds, palace servants, and stray nobles around the Collegium, more of whom were looking up every second. He could hear the crowd growing.

:You might want to come down soon,: Dirk called. :Before one of our elderly noble ladies faints.:

:Mn.:

Ah. Talkative as ever. Maybe a little friendly jab was in order. :It’s too bad Nie Huaisang can’t fly,: Dirk mused, almost innocent. :He’d have the ladies throwing their daughters at him.:

A long, dry silence.

:Wait,: Dirk murmured, suddenly worried, even as Lan Wangji touched gently down and sheathed his blade. :You don’t mean….:

“Nie Huaisang is heir to Qinghe Nie,” Lan Wangji said plainly. “He can fly.”

——–

“I am going to filet him,” Nie Huaisang breathed through his smile, as he and Nie Zonghui finally disentangled themselves from yet another flutter of noble ladies who’d somehow strayed from their capital shopping trip into the Nies’ path.

Nie Zonghui might be hiding a smirk. Maybe. “Temper, young master Nie.”

“This is me. Keeping my temper. I only want a few bitty Lan cutlets.”

A few steps behind them, grizzled Father Gerichen rescued a last tiny kitten from adoring coos and returned the tawny fluff of claws to its basket with the rest. Skipped a step to catch up, long wool robes and all. “We must have patience with the flaws of our fellow man, young lord.”

“Flaws?” Nie Huaisang groaned. So far this priest of Valdemar’s Lord of Light had been surprisingly good company, but the walk that should have taken less than half a local candlemark was stretching out much, much longer. “Hanguang-jun can go months without saying a word, and he has to say that?

“Well….” The priest drew out the word; almost as if he had his own fan to hide behind, instead of a basket of fluff. “It will bring you plenty of interested offers for yourself, being unmarried? And for your brother, of course.”

Nie Huaisang threw up his hands, uncaring of the street crowds they stalked through. It was daylight, he couldn’t sense more than the usual wisps of resentful energy that roiled any city, and he and Nie Zonghui were the only cultivators in qi-sensing range. So long as none of the civilians got too close, that was all that mattered. “Da-ge doesn’t need someone who flutters! He needs someone patient, and kind-”

“Someone who can out-stubborn a mule.” Nie Zonghui kept perfect pace. “Patiently. Kindly.”

50 thoughts on “A Long Road Chapter 5 Ficbit – Lan Cutlets

  1. 😂😂😂

    I love LWJ’s sense of humor. It usually only shows up around WWX so it’s nice to see it here for a bit of petty revenge.

    Liked by 3 people


      1. That sounds suitably impressive for NMJ. I was once in a front row seat for a falconry demonstration where they brought out female golden eagle (half blind sadly which is why she was in captivity) She was a magnificently huge deadly animal.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. The High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon has/had a really good animal rehabilitation unit that did that sort of thing. Call them for any wild animal in distress, they’d try to save it and return it to nature, if it was one that would die in nature then it gets fed and cared for in the education program.

        I knew bald eagles were huge, I grew up around them.

        Knowing it from seeing a bald eagle 15 feet away from inside of a pickup is a whole nother animal than seeing the bird from two feet away, through plexiglass, with a lady talking about him. At that point, he was bigger than I was!

        Liked by 4 people

      3. There wasn’t even plexiglass, we were in a classroom. I got caught in the backlash of her wings moving and I swear it was like sitting right in front of a industrial power fan. It definitely left ano impression.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. In 2019 our county fair had a guy come in with a whole slew of birds to do a show about. One of them was a California Condor. She was a youngster, hand raised because her own parents died, but they were prepping her for release into the wild sometime last year. She was … VERY big. I was sitting in the front row of the bleachers when she flew over to perch on the guard rail right in front of me. She was mostly calm though and only seemed a bit distracted by all the noise of the fair. It was very cool to be there to see the show though.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Considering the Nie issues with their cultivation, I’m willing to bet that “tough” and “strong willed” are probably the main qualifications.

      Even if she isn’t doing the cultivation herself, or if they can fix the problem, I can’t imagine them being comfortable with having a “weak point” in the family.

      Standard paranoia when you have mind-destroying energies floating around.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Those are definitely two of the qualifications. Granted, they took down Wen Ruohan, so they’re a little less worried about someone deliberately driving clan members insane.

        (Prematurely, unfortunately.)

        But yes. When even regular cultivation can drive someone around the bend, you don’t want someone marrying in who’s not mentally tough.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. lols, I’d feel sorry for him, but he can take it! A lttle mostly harmless adversity is good for him.

    I outright cackled reading NHS seeth and threaten. The cutlet bit may be an exaggeration, but I’m sure he’s marked the occasion down in his mind and will only wait for the opportunity to make LWJ’s life a bit difficult somehow, in the future. Like, he’s doing (some of) this for LWJ! So ungrateful!!! (which happens when you don’t let people in on you plots, buddy)

    And Father Gerichen not getting why NHS is upset is great!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I had to run out the door right then (dog escaped and was cheerfully skipping her naughty little butt over to the tray of catfood my neighbor puts out for the strays), so I didn’t get to add; or DOES he? XD

        Liked by 1 person

    1. NHS: “Well, if I *told* people about the convoluted manipulative plots I’m running *for their own good,* they’d raise objections or *argue* or drag their feet or run away, and it’s all *so tiresome*….”

      …Hm. NHS and Shikamaru Nara — drinking buddies complaining about how “tiresome” everyone else is, or separated at birth? 🙂

      Liked by 4 people

  3. “Da-ge doesn’t need someone who flutters! He needs someone patient, and kind-”

    Since NHS is well aware that a surface action like “fluttering” can cover all *sorts* of attitudes and plans, when he so emphatically states that his brother needs someone who doesn’t flutter … I wonder what the misdirection is, here?

    Or is he being uncharacteristically direct *and* obtuse? (Does he actually think that no Valdemarans could be as sneaky as he is?)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s possible he doesn’t want someone sneaky because you never know what could be under a mask like that.
      And his top priority is to protect his brother both from the malice of others and from his own qi deviations.
      He wants someone who will make his brother less stressed, not more.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The meek, mild, perhaps-a-bit-silly (all APPARENTLY) woman who gently guides her headstrong (and beloved!! That’s important) man toward actions that promote his well-being is a cliche as old as hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold.

        Why would I hint that Vathara might find a use for such a character? Because the old cliches are so far out of style that they are positively transgressive! 😉

        Besides, why should NMJ’s brother be the only person in his life who loves him and manipulates him for his own good?

        Obviously, I have no idea what Vathara intends – other than confidence that it will be entertaining!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. OK, so NHS is certain that he knows that a woman with a fluttery manner can’t meet his brother’s needs. And that NMJ needs a patient and kind and steadfast woman.

        Has NHS considered that if NMJ can’t provide some reciprocal emotional benefits, the whole thing is dead in the water? Has he perhaps *not* considered this, and is going to be tripped up by it? Hmmmm.

        Expansion: I say that what is offered to the woman in question needs to be more than “wealthy and powerful and hot” – because “patient and kind” is not going to last long-term unless there is an emotional connection.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Emotional connections can be built – a lot of arranged marriages did work out. But on Nie Huaisang’s side, first he wants to narrow down what he thinks are possible good candidates. Then he’ll start telling them about people in his clan, and see if they’re still interested.

        On the side of Nie Mingjue – the key thing Nie Huaisang knows he’s fighting is his brother’s conviction that he won’t survive long enough to raise a child. Hence why he wants to land Wei Wuxian in a position to help….

        Liked by 1 person

      3. As Vathara says, emotional connections can be built. Especially when you realize that emotions are the body’s equivalent of das blinkenlights, rather than being the “actual things” that the lights serve as indicators for. The modern view of emotions (and their part in relationships) is like an airplane pilot seeing one of the lights on his board go red, and saying “the problem is that the light went red”, rather than saying “the red light tells me that the engine is on fire”, so he tries to hotwire the display panel to make the green light turn on again, rather than trying to fix the engine fire. And in that case, yeah, you’re not going to have good results. When you recognize that the emotions are just indicator lights, then you can work on actually fixing the real problems, even if it means enduring while the emotions aren’t there until the problem is fixed and the emotion can show up to indicate the problem no longer exists. Which is part of why some of us point out “love is a choice, not an emotion.”

        Liked by 5 people

  4. Apropos of trying to catch up with Valdemar backlog, I’m reading Eye Spy. And today we learned that, in a town full of unrelated Heralds who are literally moments away, it’s totally okay to have your dad judge you publicly with Truth Spell, because Heralds are blessed by the gods and there’s no such thing as an appearance of impropriety.

    And in the next sentence, practically, the book points out that the person asking Truth Spell questions does have lots of leeway to create a different outcome by the wording of questions.

    Now, mind you, it made no difference to the author’s plot, because any Herald could have judged the schoolroom baddie. All it does is make things less logical and the heroine less sympathetic, honestly. You can’t be all “my heroine is all alooooone against the cruuuuel world, except when her best friend is a princess, her mom’s the prime minister, and her dad is the spymaster for the entire country.” You need to be excruciatingly full of propriety, for duty and country.

    But there was a political injoke being made against a particular person, and so the book and worldbuilding and logic all had to be sacrificed for a bizarre revenge fantasy. (Which didn’t make any sense anyway, because they were misinterpreting the person willfully, but never mind.)

    Sometimes you need to file those serial numbers off a little harder, and you also should not let your id drive the car off a cliff.

    Also, do not try to combine Malfoy with Dudley Dursley as a way of filing off serial numbers. It makes the character even less your own.

    Arrrrrgh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is my problem with lots of the “magical oaths solve all the problems” solutions people keep coming up with for HP’s setting… because there’s so many ways that can go wrong. “Swear not to go against the ministry and the laws of the country”, when the laws are bad and the ministry is corrupt? Even if you manage to start with a clean slate, there’s too many ways something like that can go wrong by accident _when everyone’s actually got good intentions_, let alone when there’s hostile agents and mind control available. Sure, it protects against one, limited, category of traitors, but there’s too many others it doesn’t protect against. Especially over time as little additions start making more edge-cases that don’t fit together.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. This is a major plot point in “Trash of the Counts Family” (which I recommend btw, it’s very good)
        You can make a vow of death and the power of the god of death will enforce it if you break it. The oaths also can bind generations of your descendants too and the consequences of that play a large part in the struggles they are having now.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I love this story, it’s such a nice place to live when life gets stressful. I’ve been playing with a fun little scene where Lan Zhan comes across a rabbit hutch/ farm and immediately climbs in and buries himself in bunnies. Which of course confuses the crap out of whoever finds him. Either a herald looking for him or a servant coming to care for the rabbits.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. *Snrk* I have visions of Lan Xichen yielding to the inevitable and sending a very large parcel, along with a note for the queen of Valdemar that if she’s looking after his brother from now on, the enclosed will be necessary.

      “Why do the rabbits have headbands?”

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Lan Wangji: my Sect has Brother and duty and clan.
        Also Lan Wangji: but Valdemar has Wei Wuxian without (much) judgment, and I can keep bunnies as pets. I can have pets.

        Liked by 3 people

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