A Long Road Chapter 6 Ficbit – Mystery

“What we have here,” Arvil murmured for Graya’s ears alone, leaning against her side as he diligently took more notes out of Rabbit Hole’s weather records, “is a mystery. How can any outland clan know enough to run to Valdemar, and yet not know they’re safe?”

“And heave!

Arvil tried not to whistle as half-a-dozen Wens used hoist, tackle, and enthusiasm to rebuild Rabbit Hole’s weather-beaten cottages. The local villagers were just as enthusiastic, instructing their new neighbors on the best way to lay foundations that wouldn’t freeze before winter, how to repair and expand the stables with ancient cut stones pried out of dirt and moss, and where would be the best spot for Wen Qing to build a house all the healers could use for complicated cases without trampling herb-healer Rian’s gardens. The Wen clan might look odd, and sound odder, but Meigui, A-Yuan, and tiny Banli had made up the village elders’ minds, just as Arvil had hoped they would. No matter how strange, any clan willing to pick up small children who needed a home and treat them all as their own was welcome in Valdemar.

And horses – good, sound horses, that hadn’t yet shied at any Pelagirs weirdness – would make the difference between Rabbit Hole shivering together to survive and getting through the winter in relative safety. Horses meant that even in the depths of winter, skis and snowshoes weren’t the only options. Getting to or from Foxton with a heavy load wouldn’t take more than a day; Roeswood or Crispinstown, only a few more.

Rabbit Hole had had good horses, back when the frontier village had been founded. Two decades ago the village elders had meant to take advantage of furs, lumber, charcoal, and everything else that could be won from the Pelagirs. They’d brought in some of the best horses this side of Valdemar had seen to pack it all out.

But seven years of war with Hardorn had drained Valdemar. Horses had died; some lost to fearsome beasts, others sent west with most of Rabbit Hole’s young men and women, for Haven and the Army. Those who’d stayed, human and beast – Rian and Granny Shay had tugged him aside when he’d come through a few weeks back, and confided that they needed a Gifted Healer’s help. There’d been far too many miscarriages the past year to be coincidence.

Well, now they had one. Wen Qing and Granny Wen had consulted with the locals, checked out the afflicted women and livestock under Granny Shay’s watchful eye, gone through the local herbs and wild-harvests with Rian, and finally sent their clan and the villagers alike beating the bushes and turning over ancient ruins until they flushed out the culprit.

A/N: Still working on this chapter, but here’s a bit. 🙂

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37 thoughts on “A Long Road Chapter 6 Ficbit – Mystery

  1. and finally sent their clan and the villagers alike beating the bushes and turning over ancient ruins until they flushed out the culprit

    Ooof, hope the smacked it straight. (be that dead or fixed)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Could you give some more details about Rabbit Hole? Its obviously an existing community, albeit one that has lost population and could use more people. What sort of ancient runes underlay the site? Or whose ancient runes. Is Herald Avril getting more supplies sent in for the winter? Is this forest or meadow — enquiring minds want to know.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is exactly what the Wens were looking for. And Rabbit Hole is probably packed full of people willing to swear up down and sideways that the Wens are ‘old timers.’ They don’t want to loose access to proper Healing, after all. Nope, these couldn’t be those war criminals your looking for, been here for an age.

    The next question is, is poor Arvil going to stuck with the next adventure as well? Given everything, he just might be. Particularly if snow starts flying soon. Early snows. But, probably not, unless my timeline is off. I’m thinking, this is taking place, middling to late autumn? Maybe early autumn, at the very earliest. Them avoiding people makes it very hard for me to judge, darn it. No talks about harvests or drought, but plenty of worries about onset of snow and winter.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. ^__^ oooh great bit here!

    I love the hopeful feel it has for the Wens! They’ll have a home for winter now, possibly forever if WWX doesn’t burn too many bridges ‘rescuing’ his Lan! (lols, of course he’s not bc you don’t do sad endings, but the thought is probably there for them anyway)

    Love the part about the horses! Horses (and donkeys and the resulting cross offspring) are invaluable on the frontier in a way that can be hard for modern people to grasp sometimes. That paragraph does a really neat and tidy job of laying out why.

    Its especially interesting that those horses are VERY good horses by Valdemarian standards because you’ve said the sect lands get horse stock from the dhorsha plains, and those rarely make it up as far as Valdemar even in this ‘modern’ era. If they have some decent mares and an ungelded stallion (are any of the mares pregnant? iirc that was a thing to send with people you were sending off for good) to work with they just might give the Ashkevron family some in country competition in a decade or two (which is ironic given who WWX’s ancestor may or may not be xD)

    Causing miscarriages hm? Some critter sipping energy? If i remember right there are tons of mythological creatures that do that kind of thing, or sometimes just cause them by their presence alone.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Wei Wuxian has a Plan for rescuing three cultivators without getting everyone else in trouble. It’s a decent plan.

      Of course, no plan survives contact with reality.

      If you look at a map of Valdemar, Forst Reach is… maybe a few weeks’ travel north of Rabbit Hole? It’s not a straight line, but you can get there. Meaning if all goes really well, there might be some breedstock exchange going on!

      *G* There are many things that can cause those, indeed. The locals are going to be glad to root out the cause, and that their new neighbors can set up measures to keep it from happening again!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Plans don’t survive First Contact, true. Especially when you have In Danger Magnets about to wander into the heart of a foreign country on a covert mission. Wei Wuxian is going to go in with the intent of getting three cultivators out. The odds are very good he’s going to walk out of there with at least one more child. And Wen Ning may walk out with another beastie.

        …. You know, if barn cats mixed with lynxes the way that wolves and dogs sometimes crossbred if both are just running through the same area, that would explain a lot about barn cat tempers. Too bad there’s no fishing docks in Haven, my dad says the biggest, glossiest cats he ever did see were the ones at an active commercial fishing dock. Also the ones most ready to rumble with rats.

        So. My bets are they come back with no extra cultivators but plus two kids, one each. Which is probably going to drive Lan Wangji to drinking barrels of vinegar. He wants to run off into the sunset with two kids and Wei Wuxian.

        … Does Wei Wuxian stumble across Pelagirs bunnies before he leaves?

        Liked by 4 people

      2. …. You know, if barn cats mixed with lynxes the way that wolves and dogs sometimes crossbred if both are just running through the same area, that would explain a lot about barn cat tempers

        Known to cross with bobcats, and the biologists have even gotten to the point where they’ll admit it has happened and the offspring are viable.

        For comparison, “reputable biologists” were claiming that dogs and coyotes couldn’t viably cross and coydogs were stupid farmers seeing stuff that wasn’t there as recently as 2000 or so.

        Same route– the wild one will kill and eat the tame/feral one, unless one is in heat. (or, in the dog’s case, the dog is reaaaaaally big, tough and mean.)

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I’ve only seen the mother-is-a-barn-cat side, they’re no worse than the rare angry Maine Coon as far as personality/damage/threat goes, and the coat-personality pattern is there, too. (IE, the orange one that fathered a solid chunk of home valley’s cat population for a few years was scary, but cat-scary, not “bobcat who doesn’t mind people” scary.)

        Liked by 1 person

      4. We don’t NOT know there are fishing docks in Haven, I think? It would make sense if there are, since Haven straddles the Tyralee, and we know the river is large and wide. I’m pretty sure I remember it mentioned that there are delivery barges on the river, coming in from all over the country. There’s a lot of the city that’s glossed over, or left blank because Lackey or the anthology authors haven’t directly written about it yet.

        Dock cats are big glossy and healthy looking because of all the easily snatched bits of fish with all those good for coats oils in them! If you happen to eat any kind of fish canned in oil yourself (tuna, sardines, oysters, etc) you can save the oil and give it to your cats or dogs and give them a nice coat boost too btw!

        Liked by 2 people

    2. The biggest fishing communitys would actually not be in Haven but in the villages around Lake Evendim, the lake formed from the crater of Maar’s Tower being blown up. The Rabbit Hole is actually closer to it then Haven.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh yeah, for sure. Lake Evandim is ginormous, probably counting as an inland sea like America’s great lakes. Valdemar gets most of its fish there, but that doesn’t mean that other villages and towns arrayed along the rivers or other bodies of water in Valdemar don’t fish locally, they probably just don’t do much export. Their fish probably go right into the local market fresh, and Haven might have laws in place to prevent over fishing. But they’ll still have docks probably.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Valdemar does a lot of fishing there. The realities of transporting fish means they’d only get dried fish from Evendim – fresh is local, see Selenay fishing for eel for pies in Exile’s Honor.

        Like

  5. I find it very funny that the perfect place for our refugees is named Rabbit Hole. It’s a cannon village to which makes it doubly perfect.

    Liked by 5 people

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