A Long Road Chapter 5 Ficbit – Hunted

The giggles warned Nie Huaisang before the crowds could part enough to catch a glimpse of either Trainee Blues or out-of-class color. Either they’d had the bad luck to cross paths with yet another flutter, or the last ones had nerved themselves up for another attempt.

Oh, I have had enough.

The nearest building was two stories high, a bit much for his level of cultivation – but the fountain in the square by it was tall and solid, a carved stone candlemaker with one large spigot and a trickle of ornamental water like wax running from his candle.

One leap to the top of a stone hat, use that as another step, jump-

He stumbled on the roof, a bit of undignified flailing that would have had da-ge sigh, and pick him up by the collar like scruffing a kitten. But he made it.

Nie Zonghui touched down on the roof a moment later, sputtering priest in his arms, kitten-basket and all. Not even breathing hard, though he’d jumped straight from the street. “So which way was it to this temple of Thenoth?”

“Put me down, young man, what are you-?” Father Gerichen glimpsed bright dresses passing below, and stilled. “Ah. Never mind. A perfectly reasonable reaction.”

Even in a foreign language, Nie Huaisang could hear the chuckle. He throttled the urge to stick out his tongue, the way Wei Wuxian would have-

Would have. Before Sunshot. Before everyone had lost light and laughter in the blood and dying.

Oh da-ge, I miss my friend!

He cleared his throat. “You said Herald Talia wanted to know something about our customs?” Something she hadn’t simply asked them. On the one hand his still-raw nerves felt insulted. On the other – it was probably politics. And in a city as crowded as Haven, it was hard to find a place to ask delicate questions without risking someone spreading twisted rumors of the answer.

We should ask the Queen on a hunting trip to build trust… though one of the Court ladies had an odd reaction when I asked if the Queen hunted, I’ll have to listen for rumors about that. And there don’t seem to be yao about for a proper night-hunt anyway. Pity.


A/N: An “odd reaction”. Indeed. *EG*

46 thoughts on “A Long Road Chapter 5 Ficbit – Hunted

  1. Oooooooo, yeah, NO. That’s not a good idea. He reeeeeally needs the lowdown from 30 years ago.

    I love the wistful I miss my friend.

    (Imma go back to bed now *whines in bad knees and awful headache and no sleep*)

    Liked by 4 people

    1. The problem is no one’s going to tell him, because of that Polite Fiction they have going with Rethwellan.

      (Just like everyone pretends that no, Elspeth would never be traitorous like her father… they just all think it. Including Selenay, sometimes.)

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It would tell them so much.

      Nie Huaisang: “We should get to know each other! Let’s go hunt angry ghosts and monsters together!”

      Nobles and Heralds: ….

      Stare at Nie Zonghui. Who’s supposed to be Nie Huaisang’s bodyguard. As in the guy who keeps him out of life-threatening danger.

      Nie Zonghui: “Where is the best place to hunt monsters nearby? We’ve been listening for rumors in the marketplace, but so far your people only mention the Pelagirs. Surely that can’t be the case, after all you have all your trained night-hunters over here….”

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I’m not sure Lackey would have included this, but a Hunt _was_ a legit way for nobles to exercise and socialize together, plus they got to eat what they killed.

        Pretty sure it ended up being a net loss of calories, given all the servants involved in managing the hunt, but my reflexive thinking is a lot more American-egalitarian than it is European-medieval. Obviously the servants eat their usual fare, the product of the hunt is for nobles and guests only.

        I’d assume that the kind of hunting Selany did involved her and/or her companions needing to find prey-sign themselves, for an example of how it didn’t work in real aristocratic circles.

        -Albert

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hahahaha! That jump to escape was a short term advantage but might have long term cost as the ladies all realize that he can jump like that, in addition to flying!

    And ooh, yeah, NHS is going to want to get the backstory before brining up hunting to Selenay. Although it will be interesting to see who, if anyone, is willing to talk about an old assassination attempt to the foreign diplomates.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Selenay’s first husband tried to assassinate her. Alberich and a bunch of trainees stopped the attack but the prince was also killed. To avoid political problems with Rethwelllen the “official ” story is that he died in a hunting accident.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. So, Selenay’s first husband (Elspeth’s father) tried to assassinate her while she was out visiting the Home Farms (the farms that supplied food to Haven) with just Caryo, her Companion. The cover for the assassination was that he was taking a hunting trip with friends.

      So, going on a hunt with the Queen…has very bad implications to Valdemarians.

      I assume it’ll be explained in fic, sense NHS has picked up on it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Rofl! Father Gerichen’s reaction! A bland “Oh yes, I perfectly understand the impulse to run away from noble girls. Your intelligence is to be commended.”

    And for all he hides it like it’s a shameful secret, Huaisang is intelligent. He picked up on something being very wrong with Nie-style cultivation at a young age, although how much of that came from his father’s murder I am not sure. I am wondering how much of his initial plan is going to go completely wrong though. Yes he’s a wicked smart plotter, but I sincerely doubt his current skill level is anywhere near what it was in the canon-future.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. And honestly, that part of Lackey’s worldbuilding makes me cringe. Noblewomen aren’t able to be useless ornaments until the Baroque period and then the Sun King’s court. (And then the Georgian and Victorian eras in England, when prosperity had risen to the point where a gentleman could in fact support a useless wife, as seen in Pride and Prejudice.) They are important to the running of the household and estate, which could often involve more people than comfortably fit into a Dunbar set. A ‘silly’ wife is a disaster for a nobleman, because now he has to waste people to keep her happy while finding competent people to handle her responsibilities.

      Sure, women didn’t go to university, but that’s because everyone knew darn well what would happen, which is to say what happens at university right now: A whole lot of sex, with all the problems arising thereof. Tutors existed. Nobles could afford them. Wives were often involved in the education of their children, which required that they be educated themselves.

      So why do the noblewomen of the Blues only show up as Mean Girls? Doylistically, because they make semi-untouchable antagonists, of course. But the Watsonian justification is shallow-to-not-there. For Valdemar to support ornamental noblewomen, the country has to be a lot more prosperous than the ‘each town is its own dysfunctional mess of stupid normies for Heralds to look down on’ model.

      -Albert

      Liked by 4 people

      1. If someone has seen 1776 (hilarious movie of the play is just a glorious explosion of extra large hams singing across the screen) a good way to explain what a Noble wife would’ve been doing is the interplay between John and Abigail Adams.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Exactly. Abigail didn’t have credentials, but as soon as her mother taught her to read and write, she availed herself of the family library and became better educated than most men, even most men of the lettered classes.

        -Albert

        Liked by 3 people

  4. *snicker* I can see more than a few people staring at each other, because if a night-hunt (once they actually understand what a night-hunt is) is what a fluttery young master who dodges weapons practise suggests for a ‘privacy to be slightly politically indiscreet’ what the heck do they do for serious?

    Ah yes, Niè Huaisang has not yet learned that to account for counterplotting. It’s adorable. And hey, just because his messenger talisman was sent a few hours early, doesn’t mean what he called for help with isn’t true! You have no way to prove it was sent early, not even you are that good.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. “Put me down, young man, what are you-?” Father Gerichen glimpsed bright dresses passing below, and stilled. “Ah. Never mind. A perfectly reasonable reaction.”

    K, I now love the priest.

    There’s giving a guy a hard time, and there’s being a jerk, and he chose the right path between the two. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  6. So I don’t know whether it’s true but I saw someone someone say that in Qinghe the number of braids is the number of victories.
    And so I was wondering, about how many would Nie Huaisang have right now?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have no idea if that’s true or not. I’m sure Nie Huaisang’s clan would consider what he did keeping everything running supply-wise (and spy-wise) in the war a victory in itself. Possibly more than one depending on how tricky some situations got.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So I have to ask, is the kitten basket a regular occurance for Father Gerichen or did he specifically pick it up for this walk?

    Also in regards to the Bird Mindspeaker mentioned in the previous comment section, I suspect that when NHS reveals her at the head of the proverbial running, there will be a fair amount of confusion among the Valdemarians. Because the behaviors of the Cultivators are just similar enough to what they know that assumptions are made. And then they pull something out of left field and the locals are left going “Wut?”

    See NHS’s idea for an icebreaker with the Queen. ‘Let’s go hunt spiritual monsters that can easily tear you and your entire party apart if you don’t have the correct training and capabilities.’

    Just slightly different than the local version of the idea.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The kittens were a fortuitous coincidence, given he and Alberich wanted to introduce the Nies to the Temple of Thenoth – they’d asked about Animal Mindspeakers. Mind, if there hadn’t been kittens, Father Gerichen would have found another reason to get over there.

      And heh! Wait ’til the local nobles find out the Nie were originally a clan of butchers – and still practice it proudly!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. /Wait ’til the local nobles find out the Nie were originally a clan of butchers – and still practice it proudly!/
        That’s a benefit. It helps ensure that the Nie nobles are always willing to get their hands dirty while being able to easily stomach said matters. They’re able to cut to the heart of the problem, along with the ribs, lions, hams, sirloin and brisket.

        I’m sure there are a few more meat related puns that can be made.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. So I just noticed that the only other author I follow on AO3 is also writing a mdzs/valdemar crossover and currently has 4 chapters out. It was a bit of deja Vu, like what are the chances! I can link to it if people are interested.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You know if they could have the conversation privately that a night hunt is basically a ghost hunt they might have a little more success. It’s a city, all cities have ghost stories even if they aren’t true.
    One of the surrounding roads will have a woman in white or noble house with ghosts clinging from an old fire or a pub with soldier ghosts that likes to goose the bar maids. Things you dont bother the Heralds with normally but well…if your asking. That kind of thing. And then if they’re a little truer then expected?
    It might be good for Selenay honestly, to do the kindness of lying a woman in white to rest.

    Liked by 2 people

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