A Long Road Chapter 8 Ficbit – Persistence

Talia cut herself off, sighed; closed her eyes a moment to think, then looked at them all again. “I know good people can fall in love with horribly evil men. But everything we know about Wei Wuxian, everything we saw… he’s terrifying. Not evil. Even when he thought Lan Wangji might attack him, all he did was make it clear he wanted to be let go. The ghosts were looking. They didn’t make any threatening moves.”

“That’s what I don’t understand.” Dirk leaned on the table, staring at his own wine. “He and his sect leader both thought Lan Wangji was a threat. Wangji says he wants to see Wei Wuxian healed. What’s going on?”

Selenay traded a glance with her husband. So they’d run through the Heralds’ available reports, and they still didn’t have a definitive answer.

We need more information.

“All right,” Selenay stated. “Which of you has an idea how to get Nie Huaisang to actually talk to us?”

A trade of glances. Kero frowned. “He’s skittish around Weaponsmasters. Around all of us, looks like. Talia, you might have the best luck.”

“I’ll do it,” Talia agreed. “But it might have to wait. The Nies are out of the palace right now, headed for the south gate with a few Blues. I hear they left in a bit of a hurry.” Her face dimpled in a smile. “Mistress Sorely Kinkade’s due to bring a caravan in today.”

Dirk choked back a laugh, then gave up and thumped his head onto the table, burying chuckles in his arms. “Oh gods.”

“Who’s Mistress Kinkade?” Daren wondered.

Kero clapped a palm to her forehead; Alberich was actually smiling. “Mistress Kinkade, a caravan mistress and muleskinner is,” the retired Weaponsmaster said dryly. “Freight for the Army she hauls at need; always, her cargos come through. Truly a formidable woman, yet as well known for her care for her beasts.”

Selenay blinked, feeling an unexpected wave of jealousy. Decades ago she’d had to protect herself from a siege brought by her own Council, turning down candidate after candidate for her hand all pushed forward for other people’s power, with no thought given to what she wanted. Here and now Nie Mingjue had a younger brother searching high and low to find… not a spouse meant for power, or to bring advantage to their sect. A woman he thought would make his older brother happy.

Daren gripped her hand, comforting, and Selenay did her best to breathe the old pain away. She squeezed gently back, reminding herself she’d been blessed at last. “Well. Let’s wish him luck.” She smiled, feeling it come a little easier now. “I only wish I could see her face!”

48 thoughts on “A Long Road Chapter 8 Ficbit – Persistence

  1. Oh dear. Talia is going to be very deeply confused as to how death threats were supposed to convey loving care. And no wonder! Look what happened to Wei Wuxian when he was in good standing and just making academic inquiries about resentful cultivation! At the hands of not only the Lan in general but also Lan Wangji specifically. And Niè Huaisang had a front row seat to it all. There doesn’t seem to be a proportionate response, given that they were beaten for drinking and being out after curfew. And let us not forget that Madam Yu was his main disciplinarian for the majority of his life! She did whip him half to death on a political context. I’m convinced the only reason she didn’t go for the hand after all was because that request was asking her to cripple the Jiang Sect for the Wen. And then Lan Qiren is in no way objective about Wei Wuxian. He is well used to having disproportionate punishment heaped upon him for little reason, and right now the Lan have a big reason. He has a lot of good grounds to fear “Come back to Gusu.”

    Talia is probably going to want to cry from Niè Huaisang’s honest confusion. He knows that Wei Wuxian would do anything to keep Lan Wangji safe. I don’t think even he realizes it’s reciprocated. (I tend to live my life with the general feeling that Niè Huaisang knows just about everything. He’s gotta have a hella good pay network and pay attention to gossip.)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ok, so the drinking punishment thing is only like that in CQL. In the book, it’s just WWX who gets beaten, after he tricks LWJ to break curfew. He’s also a repeat offender. Though, yeah, the Lans absolutely knew WWX was sneaking in the wine for the rest of the visiting disciples, but none of them came forward/WWX didn’t implicate them, so they got off scot-free. They (well, the ones we see) are sect heirs/direct clan disciples, who outrank WWX by default and would presumably be harder to punish with no repercussions. I know some people who think LQR kept targeting WWX do cow the other disciples, since he was the easy target. One again, classism screws WWX over!

      Also, the reason Madam Yu didn’t cut off WWX hand was because WLJ blabbed about the supervisory office before she could, setting Madam Yu off because “how dare a mere servant tell her what to do,” which…did not end well.

      Well, WWX doesn’t believe that LWJ wants him dead (when no having a breakdown, at least). But he thinks LWJ dislikes him, at best.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. To quote ShanaStoryteller in By Any Other Name: “He knows that Lan Zhan hated him in the end, and the beginning, but that there was a middle bit there where he thinks they did alright.”

        Liked by 2 people

    2. I’m putting together a bunch of stuff for “how the situation looked to Nie Huaisang”. I feel a little sorry for the Heralds….

      (Though maybe not as sorry as they’ll be if Healer Crathach gets a certain patient and wants to knife someone over the scars.)

      Liked by 4 people

  2. Oh, oh dear. I just imagined Talia coming back from a discussion with Niè Huaisang and face planting into her husband’s chest.

    “At least you never made me think you wanted me dead. How? How did he convince everyone he wanted Wei Wuxian dead?”

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Boy, are they going to be in for a shock when they realize how smiley Wei Wuxian is normally. Still. Two out three’s not bad.

        Just wait until Talia sees Lan Wangji react to Wei Wuxian with a child. Juust wait.

        Liked by 3 people

  3. WWX when the caravan enters the city: “Hello, lord from far away i never met!”
    Nie Hauisang:*gulps, as all enthusiasm leaves him*

    Nie bodyguard stands weary.

    Liked by 6 people

      1. Snort! That just made me think of the classic “If only our CO would get laid!” Which is not the point, really, but the old joke is funny, here.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. “He and his sect leader both thought Lan Wangji was a threat. Wangji says he wants to see Wei Wuxian healed. What’s going on?”

    And then they plan to try to get more info out of NHS – which is certainly worthwhile!

    But have they given up on getting clarification from LWJ?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Probably… it takes Wei Ying DYING in the novel, anime, and live action to get Lan Wangji to obviously change how he handles things, including talking. Dont get me wrong, Lan Wangji was trying before that, visiting the burial mounds, speaking up when Wei Ying isn’t there, stepping aside when he rescues the Wens, etc. But Wei Ying still didn’t understand what Lan Wangji was trying to say. Granted, I think that is definitely partly Wei Ying’s fault, he automatically assumed the worst, but he also didn’t have a lot of reason to think differently. And not just because he is a genius that can have a large blind spot for people he likes. But there is obvious improvement when Wei Ying is brought back, Because Lan Wangji was much more obvious about communicating and protecting Wei Yeing, etc. Think of this situation as more like Teenagers in Love rather than mostly competent adults… 😅

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Yes, I understand that LWJ is not inclined to use more than four words at a time. But why don’t the Heralds *keep asking?* It’s not as though the answers aren’t important?

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Have you ever been in a conversation where one side DID answer it, but what they SAID isn’t what the other side HEARD?

        It’s not like LWJ is going “I shall be obscure on purpose.”

        It’s that he genuinely doesn’t see the need to say more. He already said it, anything more would be over-explaining and might actually mislead people.

        That’s before the issue of
        1) very private, he has GOT to have limits that will hit the “no, go jump in the lake” response,
        ::Foxfier stops, squares her shoulders, clasps her hands in front of her chest, and croons::
        Whhhyyyy must I beeeee a teenaaaaaager in luuuuuuv….

        Liked by 4 people

      3. Given the conversations we readers have had about the Heralds’ not respecting LWJ’s emotional privacy in regard to what Talia’s Empathy pulls from the big battle scene memory, WHY would the Heralds assume that LWJ might not be persuaded to tell them more if they *ask*?

        Also, if the Heralds are willing to ask NHS additional questions to try to get more information from him, WHY NOT be willing to ask additional questions of LWJ? It’s not hard to ask: “I understand that you changed positions from A to Z, but I don’t understand why, could you please explain that more?”

        Now, after LWJ has point-blank refused to say anything more, that might be time to give up. But that doesn’t seem to be now. That’s why I asked If the Heralds have given up

        Liked by 1 person

      4. FWIW, I love this kind of thing, because it makes me think about why I think a thing is obvious. 😀 (spoiler voice it generally isn’t)

        Remember the “River Trader, wait is that a pirate” conversation?

        “Oh my gosh is he really having to be coached in how to respond to this question by his Companion?”
        “Heck yeah, it took a week worth of coaching by Flutterboy to get him to not totally screw the pooch on their gossip stuff!”

        Thus, 1) He’s hopeless at explaining stuff, and 2) Just go to the source, it’s simpler and that’s what you’d get anyways.
        Partly because his Mindreading Pony isn’t up for playing that game and has made as much clear.

        The stuff that would make him even MORE hopeless was more my observation than what they’d conclude, although it would feed into how they’d have prior evidence that no, you really can’t get this guy to explain jack crud.

        Liked by 3 people

      5. Not to be stereotypical, but traditionally this kind of silent implication thing is what Chinese women are supposed to do, and Chinese men are supposed to pick up on.

        I suspect the joke is putting “strong silent type” together with “silent demure Chinese miss behavior.” In the same body.

        Liked by 3 people

      6. Dying, and being gone for 13-16 years (depending on the version) so Lan Wangji has 1) experience raising a child and learning to communicate with him, 2) years of coulda-shoulda-woulda about the whole mess, and 3) that much longer to grow up and admit to himself that he really loved Wei Ying, it wasn’t just “this person Annoys Me So Much.”

        As for Wei Ying assuming the worst – if you check out the book bits, everyone around him told him LWJ hated him. So.

        Liked by 3 people

    2. When you’re going rounds of interrogation investigating something, you don’t keep asking the same person the same questions for days straight. You ask, then go dig up some more info, then ask again. That way you have more to compare the answers to and you might catch nuances you don’t get the first time.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. I imagine Kellen dearly wishes he had hands right now, so he could knock some skulls together.
    (I don’t know why, but I’m picturing an angry toddler picking up a pair of dolls that look like WWX and LWJ and smashing them together while shouting “Now kiss!”)

    Liked by 5 people

      1. LWJ: Your judgment is impaired, you are playing with resentful energy!

        WWX: No, *your* judgment is impaired, you have a spirit – a strong one! – attached to yours!!

        Liked by 2 people

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