A Long Road Chapter 6 Ficbit – Prudent

“I have met Wen Qing, who is the closest surviving sect heir. She would take great risks to save her people. She knows I mean them no harm.”

“Oh?” Elcarth lifted an intrigued brow. “An enemy of your clan, a high-ranking enemy at that – and she’s sure you wouldn’t treat her people just as the Jin have?”

A nod, and a mental nudge, as Lan Wangji offered them images through an open mind.

:A grubby toddler, clinging to white-and-blue robes and smiling like the sun.

:A Wen, he has to be a Wen, but-

:The same boy running over a stone-studded hillside, pulling a grass butterfly through the wind. Watched over by so many wary eyes; peasant-robed men and women, one grandmother so old and tiny she was almost unreal.:

“His name is A-Yuan.” For a moment, Lan Wangji couldn’t speak. “Wen Qing knows I would never harm him.”

Elcarth was pale. “There were children in that camp?”

The shadow of a wince crossed the cultivator’s features. “There were never supposed to be.”

Well. That made Dirk feel slightly better about Sect Leader Nie Mingjue. He might bear a lethal grudge against the Wen Sect, but at least it hadn’t extended to children. “And if the Jin lied about that, then that story about prisoners being murdered gains a lot more weight.” More weight, and suddenly far more urgency. “Oh gods, if they were killing children – the Wens are witnesses, they’re not safe-!”

Lan Wangji lifted his hand a bare inch above the table. “They are… not comfortable. But they are safe. For now. The Yiling Laozu protects them.”

Elcarth scribbled another note. “Laozu. If I recall, that’s a term your sects use for a founding ancestor? Which sect?”

“In your language, it might be patriarch. Or grandmaster?” Lan Wangji frowned. “He is – unique. And has chosen his ground well. The energy there is… untamed, even by our measures. The Jin are not skilled in handling resentful energy. So long as only their sect attacks, they do not have enough force to break his wards. It would take a combined effort by all the major sects to shatter his defenses.”

“So they’ll be alright,” Dirk concluded. “For now.” But we’d better start working on a rescue plan. Those people are in trouble.

“The Yiling Laozu is an honorable man, and there are innocents in his care.” Lan Wangji glanced between them, calm restored. “He will be prudent.”

—–

“Wen Ning! Look, this sap even sticks rocks together!”

Wen Ning regarded the bits of rubble clinging to the tarry mass in his friend’s hand the way Wen Qing looked at one of Yiling’s stray tomcats bringing her a gift of mice. That’s nice, but what am I supposed to do with it?

40 thoughts on “A Long Road Chapter 6 Ficbit – Prudent

  1. LOL. I love the smash cut from “He can be prudent” to “Ooh, shiny!” WWX is gonna break SO many brains and I will cackle when he does. But Elcarth getting a sinking feeling about the Wen sitch warms my heart. Yay, LWJ! You’ve got people willing to ACTUALLY be righteous, instead of just appear so.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. That transition explains, absolutely everything about Wei Wuxian and Wen Ning together. Except the part where Wen Ning just says yes to whatever crazy thing Wei Wuxian wants to do. It’s like the necromancer version of Holmes and Watson.

    …Including the murder mystery from canon, that was a lot more on point then I originally intended.

    And now we start to understand why Lan Wangji was moping his way north. (It wasn’t just because of Wei Wuxian.) He will be equal parts relieved and nervous when Wei Wuxian comes strolling in. Relieved, because Wei Wuxian is alright! Nervous because what about the Wen?

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Admittedly it’s been a bit since I read the stories, but I feel like while some of it is friendship/charisma, a lot of that -20 is “doesn’t actually wanna say get out of it.” 😀

        Liked by 5 people

    1. It’s a canon Pelagirs tree near Rabbit Hole, from the short story “Ghosts of the Past” in the Valdemar anthology Crucible – the same story Herald Arvil and Graya are introduced in.

      Which should be a clue to anyone who’s read that story (or looked up the Valdemar wiki) why the Yiling Laozu is about to be required.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hahaha! Dirk is now imagining an experienced elder leader with an established sect. And then there’s the reality of a young 20-something with more ethics than common sense.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I mean, compared to the rest of the cast? WWX is on the upper curve. He has common sense (growing up as YZY’s target would pretty much force him to have it), he just acts like a gremlin when it’s not needed. I can’t wait for the cognitive dissonance.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Most of the rest of the cast have way more self-preservation than ethics, ie, agreeing to let powerful evil people do whatever they want because standing up to them is dangerous.

        And I’d argue that growing up as YZY’s target made WWX less careful since knows he’ll be punished regardless, so there’s no point in being careful.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I worded that wrong, sorry. Being YZY’s punching bag would likely make him fairly good at risk-reward analysis, is what I meant. Is doing such-and-such thing was, to WWX, worth the risk of YZY whipping him with Zidian? How can he manage/spin such-and-such’s fallout so YZY doesn’t put him in the infirmary? How many times can he beat JC in sparring before JC/YZY snap? Etc. WWX likely had to make those kinds of calculations a lot, growing up.

        We see that WWX is an expert at calculating and managing outcomes (see, Burial Mounds Siege 2: Electric Boogalo for the most obvious example) to further his goals. It’s just, to him, getting out in one piece isn’t a win condition, as long as he accomplishes his goals (Exposing Su She, for instance).

        But that also means he has some pretty…skewed ways of reacting to things, given his sense of self-preservation is…glitchy.

        Liked by 6 people

      3. Well, if they find somewhere to settle the Wen permanently, and Lan Zhan is there, Wei Wuxian will be there too. So there’s lots of time for Skif to come back and run into him.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Hey! A good glue is really useful!

    As long as you don’t glue yourself together.

    Man I am really starting to want to introduce Wei Wuxian and Talia.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Talia would probably love him. And he’s one of the more emotionally stable characters in MDZS (a bit under the Juniors) pre-JZX’s death. Yes, WWX is a walking pit of trauma, but he handles it surprisingly well. WWX is very good at compartmentalizing. He likely had to be.

      …That might be what helped him create Demonic Cultivation, actually…

      Liked by 3 people

  5. (catching up on these, RIP my tablet. We had a big flashy power surge and it was, I am grudgingly thankful about, the only casualty.)

    *cackles* absolutely PERFECT transition there!

    *LWJ carefully building up a good responsible image for WWX*

    *Immediately cuts to WWX being the 3 year old mad scientist he is at heart* Look! Neat tree goo!

    I love it.

    I also love the very heraldic reaction of, ‘welp, gotta go rescue those people’. And THAT is the core of every herald, right there. Gotta do the right thing even if it’s hard or uncomfortable, and we’re the only ones doing it.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I have this mental image of the gods of Valdemar being like “Ohhh wow we’re gonna need A lot of healers soon. Can we breed them fast enough? Oh wait there’s a neighboring country just killing theirs! Let’s just go steal them!” And the best way to steal those doctors (plus get a nice righteous man in the bargain) is to let the self sacrificing maniacs they’ve already bred (read Heralds and Companions) know what’s going on.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. lols, it’s a perfect ‘when some idiot drops treasure, a smart person picks it up’ situation!

        The mage storms are gonna be hell, and the sect lands may yet regret their actions (and by that I mean the Jin. The Jin will regret it, because all three of the other major clans will have ties to Valdemar by then and won’t have the same issue)

        Liked by 3 people

  6. “Ah… Wen Ning? Can you help me unstick my fingers from each other?”
    (a few moments later)
    “I think we will need to ask my sister for a solvent charm to get our hands apart. …She will probably tease us mercilessly about ‘hand-holding’ just to teach us to be more careful in future.”
    “Oh, well, can’t be helped! 🙂 ”

    Tangential: Spent about 12hrs on planes in in airports today (hence possibly sleep-deprived posting oddness), and as such spent time listening to podcasts and reading ebooks on my phone.

    Atlas Obscura had an episode about a bridge in Boston being measured off each year (since the 1950s) in “Smoots,” the height of the first student to be used as a ruler as part of a frat initiation prank nigh 70 years ago. Which got me thinking about how Valdemar would handle standard weights and measures… circuit Heralds carrying samples of the Standard Valdemaran Clothyard and Standard Valdemaran Pound (no SI units, after all) to “certify” the copies held by local village leaders? Even at Medieval-ish tech levels, weights and measures are actually pretty darned important to internal and cross-border trade.

    …now I’m going to have to try and look up how IRL pre-modern societies handled this issue. The only one I can recall offhand is the Royal Navy technique for checking the alchahol content of the rum ration, which lead to “proof” as a unit of measurement, because suppliers tried all sorts of tricks to sell the RN substandard booze (and food, and ropes, and and and….).

    Liked by 2 people

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