A Long Road Chapter 8 Ficbit – Dangerous Relations

“I never knew you could use ink to paint like that.” Mina’s smile was open, honest, and wistful. “I wish I could catch my relatives on the page so well. Though most of them aren’t half so pretty.”

“Part of it’s the paper,” Nie Zonghui mused. “If we open regular trade we’re sending a papermaker up here. And people who can carve decent inkstones. It’s no wonder your kingdom never invented talismans. How could anyone learn to make them without the right tools?”

“Power you can store for later, when you need it. We could do so much with that.” Mina’s eyes were alight with possibilities. “Healing, Gifts in emergencies – we lose so many people in the Pelagirs because we don’t even know they’re missing until it’s too late! If they could send off a signal, so we could find them….”

And there was the fire that made him favor this young woman over all the others for young Huaisang. The Nie heir was determined to be publicly useless. Pushing him didn’t work. Shouting at him didn’t work; he was a Nie, like it or not, he could stand in a blast of fury all day and never wilt.

But put him with someone enthusiastic….

“You have that look again.”

Nie Zonghui shook himself. This was no time for daydreams. “Look?”

“You and Nie-gongzhi get the same look,” Mina nodded. “That weird Ashkevron portrait look.”

Ah. Wei Wuxian’s portrait. He still didn’t know if Huaisang had been wise to include the Yiling Patriarch’s picture amongst the other luminaries of the cultivation world, but their young students had been curious about the matchmakers’ ranking system for eligible young men and women. And Wei Wuxian had been ranked fourth among desirable young masters for excellent reasons. “Maiden Ashkevron, believe me, he’s no relative of yours.”

“How do you know?” And there was her impish humor; quieter than Huaisang’s, but just as deep. “He has the ‘runs off to Haven’ look. My relatives don’t talk about it, but I’ve studied the family tree. There’ve been centuries when some of us hit Haven and just kept going south out this gate. And never came back.”

What an eerie thought. And not one he wanted their current set of watchers to focus on, even if they should be too far to overhear. Nie Zonghui dropped his voice. “If he were a relative it wouldn’t be safe for you to say so, and I swear we will tell you more later.”

67 thoughts on “A Long Road Chapter 8 Ficbit – Dangerous Relations

    1. “…are we *sure* ‘Honored Ancestor Vanyel’ (ahem!) didn’t have any by-blows that decided to emigrate way, waaaay, South?” 😀

      Hm… does anyone know that Van actually *had* kids? Even if he was only acting as a sperm donor.

      I’ve been away from the Valdemar books for a loooong time, but Vathara, at least, seems to be leaning in the direction that the Ashkevron family periodically throws another “Van-type”. Just to keep life interesting, in the Chinese sense of the word….

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Vanyel did indeed have offspring. The Valdemar wiki says he is the biological father of Jisa, Arven, Brightstar k’Treva and Featherfire k’Treva

        Liked by 2 people

      2. On top of that, we have no idea what happened to Arven or any of Arven’s descendants.

        And on top of that, later books set in Valdemar apparently has at least one member of the royal family turning up with mage-Gift… and he has to leave Valdemar for his own good. And yes, he has the “runs off to Haven” dark hair, etc. Because he’s one of Jisa’s descendants, just like Elspeth and Selenay are.

        So it’s entirely possible for a few of Vanyel’s descendants to have ended up in sect lands somehow, through more than one potential line of descent. *G*

        Liked by 2 people

      3. There are very few people who knew about Van having kids. The twins were in the Hawkbrother clans, Arven went to a Guard pair and would have taken their name. Jisa married a distant cousin who was also in the royal line of descent, but even so no one wanted to bring up that Shavri “cheated” on her beloved (even though it was entirely with his permission, she desperately wanted a kid and Randale was sterile), so as far as I know it was never recorded. Jisa herself knew, but it probably didn’t get passed down.

        But the Ashkevrons throwing another “not brown-haired and blocky musclehead” every once in a while does seem to be official canon. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Ashkevron vs Jiang throw down over Wei Wuxian: Start!

        Wei Wuxian will be thoroughly thrown by having a clan of people willing to say, “yup, definitely one of ours.” Hey, besides the Vanyel types, remember that Vanyel’s brother brought in the nastiest stud that was the beginning of the Ashkevron warhorse fame. Just because they stayed out doesn’t mean the Ashkevron’s think the same way as the neighbors!

        Liked by 4 people

  1. hilarious idea, to consider WWX, a distant relation of Ashkevron. though the idea of the maiden ashkevron as potential bride for hauisang himself is hilarious…

    And the idea of both the Nie here AND Wen ning all considering the idea of marrying WWX has me giggling… shock the Yiling Patriarch with a matchmaking! an attack of a type even his Ghost Brides would not defend him against!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Ghost Brides: “Finally! Another co-wife we can safely entrust meatspace husbando-wrangling duties to!”

      Wen Ning: “Thank the gods, They know I need the help!”

      Mina: “….mmmmmooookaaaaaaayyyyy.”

      WWX: “Huh? What? Wait, where did this bus come from, and how did I end up under it?”

      Liked by 6 people

  2. I’d kinda love to see WWX with an unexpected family. I think Mina could be good for him as a cousin. He’s spent so long not being allowed to acknowledge the family he felt was his, a family who wants him may blow his mind

    Liked by 5 people

  3. This is adorable on so many levels! NZH as a visionary! NZH as a secret romantic (because you know, under that *oh so practical* consideration of the advantages of matching Mina with NHS, he’s just *wallowing* in how cute they would be, together)! NZH paranoid about *the wrong things!*

    Liked by 5 people

  4. “Ashkevron look”, most likely chance. Really most likely. On the list of unknowns, no one knows anything about Cangse Sanren’s family. She is most likely not an Ashkevron because the Ashkevron’s run off in late adolescence and early adulthood, and Cangse Sanren was a disciple of a woman who took in young orphans. On the other hand, no one knows about her parents.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. There’s always the outer reflection of inner tendencies, too. They’re not blood-kin, they’re soul-kin.

      (Kind of like the level of friend that is “brother that was mistakenly born to the wrong parents.”)

      Liked by 5 people

    2. On the other hand, “Cangse Sanren is actually an Ashkevron” sounds pretty awesomely hilarious. (Though The Look ™ could just as much have come from the Wei side.)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m fairly sure it’s canon that Wei Wuxian got his looks from Mom, and his inventiveness from Dad. 🙂

        …And any way you slice it, Cangse is probably the type Vanyel would have gleefully adopted just to give the rest of his family conniption fits.

        Liked by 4 people

    3. Mind you, I don’t think anybody knows anything about Wei Changze’s family either (except maybe Jiang Fengmian but 1- he is dead 2- he was apparently Not Talking). He is said to be a servant of the Jiang sect (is it true in this fic? Or is it an exaggeration when he was actually not a servant but a commoner disciple? These are two wildly different things!). Then he eloped with Cangse Sanren. That’s all that is said on the man in the novel, litterally. There is nothing else.
      Servants usually belonged to their masters. They were closer to indentured servants and some were sold by either relatives or kidnappers on the street. They were somewhat better off than slaves (in terms of life quality), but not by much (in terms of status). So really, if Wei Changze came from such a background it would have been hard to trace his ancestry depending on how old he was when he was left to his new masters.
      It would be easier if he was a disciple, since it would suggest he had an official family that didn’t sell him off, even if they died off later since Wei Wuxian never heard of them.
      Between him and Cangse, Wei Wuxian’s ancestry is a complete mystery (it makes for an awkward veneration of one’s ancestor… He probably doesn’t even have a proper tablet for them)

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Figuring out Wei Changze’s status is a royal pain in the ass, but I think he was most likely a disciple. He’s only really called a servant (before he bolts with the Wens) by Madam Yu and some of the Jins, who are in no way reliable, but we don’t have any explicit statement of him being a disciple, either. But he was Jiang Fengmian’s right-hand, which I doubt a servant could be no matter how liberal the sect, he was a trained and skilled cultivator, and I doubt the sects are in the habit of training their servants, and, above all, left the sect to marry Cangseand was allowed to. We’ve seen how sects react to the idea of a servant making their own decisions with WWX (who, granted, is an extreme case, but I doubt that behavior comes from nowhere). Yet Changze left, and no one disparages that choice (who isn’t Madam Yu) until they need to keep WWX “in his place.”

        I think it’s likely that Wei Changze was a disciple of the Jiang sect, likely from a commoner family, since we don’t hear anything about them. A cultivator (read: noble) family would have been able to remove him from the Jiangs/keep Madam Yu away from him, if they even let JFM keep him in the first place, since the claim of the actual blood family would supersede the claim of a family friend/godfather/whatever JFM’s exact relationship to WWX was. And people wouldn’t call WWX the son of a servant if his father’s family was (essentially) nobility, if minor.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. We also have at least one case of someone explicitly being both a servant and a cultivator in the form of the woman who takes the credit for JYL leaving soup for JXZ during the Sunshot Campaign. We are told she was a low level cultivator who was also a servant, and that JXZ was (incorrectly) impressed enough by her he elevated her to being a guest disciple of the Jin sect instead of a servant.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. hahaha! I love the idea of WWX showing up, everyone being extremely nervous about what they’ll do about this terrifying necromancer, and then Lord Ashkevron being like: he’s a member of our family; here’s his family tree that clearly identifies him as Ashkevron.
    Everyone else: uh, there’s at least three generations with smudges rather than name and the ink is barely dry.
    Lord Ashkevron: we are known for the family with the most powerful mages and we’re not stopping now!

    Liked by 7 people

  6. Not sure if it’s part of the cultivation type magic, but I’m pretty sure I remember the Tayledras clans being able to do something that proved blood relation?

    So they could do that once Elspeth shows back up with Darkwind in tow, or go visit Sorrows? Vanyel could DEFINITELY tell being an eldritchly powered ghost who’s basically a minor deity.

    Either way, what fun drama!

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Off topic: I am currently reading Lavan Firestorm. And I did not previously realize that ML wrote horror.

    (The comment about “horror” will not make sense unless you have read the book, and even then, what *I* am finding horrifying is probably acceptable to some people … although I think most of you here would at least understand where I’m coming from, if I explained)

    Many interesting tidbits – some of them more fleshed-out worldbuilding for Valdemar.

    And did you know that *even the Groveborn* will recycle through more than one incarnation? Rolan is the King’s Own’s companion during this book.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. True that. I love to read a lot of them as Fun Fantasy Escapes, but afterward my brain tends to pick up one detail after another and start worrying at the whole system, with results like… well, this fic.

        …Does that make me Shen Yuan? *Halo*

        Oh, side note – while I try to get many other things worked on, my brain is bugging me with the pretty bits from the Scum System animation of cultivators walking on water, and an image of one really cranky wizardess type having Had Enough of whatever political mess is going on in her world, and walking out onto an ocean to create an offshore floating settlement. Any thoughts?

        Liked by 2 people

      2. ::laughs:: Who knows, so long as it works!

        I haven’t seen Scum System yet, or even read fanfic, but that sounds like it could either be fun or the lead-in to a Bioshock crossover.


        For folks who want to defend ML on this: there’s another very popular series that hits this line.
        The original three Star Wars movies.
        Remember that throw-away scene where the Jawa ship was full of droids, and one was being tortured with red hot irons? Then add the Clone Wars canon treatment of Clones and the whole Jedi-take-all-the-force-kids thing….

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I recc “The Ring” in my Bookmarks on AO3. Adventure! And the animation was Very Cool.

        *Nod* Yeah, the treatment of droids in the canon SW ‘verse is the start of “you don’t want to think about this too hard”.


      4. Minor spoiler, because you’ll miss it if you’re not familiar with the source material – yes, Shen Qingqiu/Shen Yuan has very specific grudges against a particular very powerful dream demon, he would indeed research arrays against them!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. *G* The movie one comes up, but there’s a different dream demon (Meng Mo) in SVSSS canon, and Shen Yuan would like to lay a serious hurt on the guy. On top of that the System that jerks him around with plot points has a nasty habit of using a Punishment Protocol that gives him horrible dreams of the original canon fate of Shen Qingqiu – tortured to death barely begins to cover it, brrr.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. In the Jedi’s defense, we have explicit proof that force-sensitives are in massive danger pretty much from all fronts. They’re valuable slaves, they’re used as parts in space “miracle cures,” people like to blame things on them…being force-sensitive is roughly equivalent to being Jewish…anytime from Rome to the 20th century, in that there’s a massive freaking target on their back, and few people willing to protect them.

        Also, the Jedi don’t typically take kids from planets with extant Force traditions like Dathomir or Jedha, since those kids are getting trained. Which leads to another point, force-sensitives either need extensive training or none. We see this with Anakin, where the Council debates on whether or not it’s safer to leave him untrained. A half-trained Force user is a disaster waiting to happen. And the gift starts expressing itself young. We see a group of five/six-year olds being trained in using it by Yoda.

        ((Sorry for the rant, I’ve got a lot of Thoughts on the fandom’s love of making the Jedi the bad guys))

        Liked by 2 people

      7. Honestly can’t blame the fandom for Lucas getting a horrible case of Joss Syndrome, aimed at all the Expanded Universe stuff that did better at writing in “his” universe than he did.

        There were so. Bleepin. Many. Bad writing choices that only made sense because I’d been arguing with speaking to Star Wars geeks for the last decade or so and had heard all about their wonderful, canon books.

        Liked by 2 people

      8. The mess with the clones was a classic sociopathic control ploy – here are these dependents you never asked for, you’re responsible for them, now do these other ten impossible things while also being wounded every time they’re hurt. Sidious is pure evil.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. There are about four Monarchs Own Companions. They have a fairly regular cycle, but yes. The Companions all have the option of cycling either as a Companion or a Herald, same as the Heralds do.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. On the Monarch’s Own Companion—So there’s 4 of them in rotation( they don’t die from old age, they have to be killed) Taver was around during Vanyel’s time and shows up again during Alberichs beginning arch. Rolan shows up in the Collegiuem chronicles, Brightly Burning and all the books after Exiles Honor. Jastev shows up alot in the short stories collections. Poor Arlen only gets a name drop.

      They’re implied to be similar to Archangels so it makes sense there isn’t a lot of them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I suspect that Arlen is namechecking the fan/writer/filker Arlan Andrews Sr., so maybe she is holding back on using his personality.

        I mean, it would kinda invite a lot of Dorsai humor, among other things.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. Yeah. Brightly Burning is one of the Valdemar books I read once, and have no intention of reading again. It’s also one of the ones that convinced me that the worldbuilding on how Gifted kids are located and trained… has really, really not been thought through. At all. Argh.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Random note, contra ML in Brightly Burning: Cows actually do have personalities. I make this pronouncement on the authority of my dear old Dad, who had been a dairy farmer.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. ….I vouch first hand, as a beef rancher, TG’s dad is correct.

        Alice and Dorothy looked identical, but only an absolute idiot would need to see their ear tags to tell them apart. (Alice was touchy if you slighted her, Dorothy was chill…but would totally ignore anything you did she didn’t want to listen to. Alice was a much better mother, but Dorothy was no slouch.)

        Liked by 2 people

    4. Brightly Burning was one of those where the form of the book fooled me on the story. Like, the bullying, the big court scene, the various characters of whom some I liked and some were a bit blah(Can we pretty please not have a girl pining over someone unattainable? And clearly unattainable.) But I was enjoying the story, and wondering how she was going to stretch it out to a trilogy, then I got to three chapters from the end and was all “Oh…Oh *No*”

      But yeah, not up to reading it again.

      On the fragment…This is perfect. I love it all and can’t wait to see more. The matchmaking, the enthusiasm, the (absolutely correct) teasing about the Ashkeveron looks….

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I was always kind of picturing the Ashkevrons getting a good description of WWX, pulling out some old portrait of Vanyel from storage (I can’t see them not having one, he’s probably the most famous member of their family) and instead of being terrified of the big bad necromancer just kind of shrugging their shoulders and saying “Yeah, that sounds about right.”
    I’ve been wondering, isn’t it cannon that Vanyel’s spirit is still resting in the Forest of Shadows? Would he, his companion and Stefan be considered fierce ghosts in this crossover or something else?

    Liked by 5 people

    1. If you’re a ghost and you’re conscious and you hang around long enough, you have an argument for being considered a spirit of place, or a local god, or an Immortal in the strict sense. Or a demon in the bad sense, for that matter.

      Okay, I know that neither cultivator novels nor Lackey novels are really worried about these points, but dangit, somebody has to represent realistic traditional pagan cultural viewpoints!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Akshully, cultivators are based on the Taoist Eight Immortals, and at least one of them wandered as a spirit, and got stuck in a begger’s corpse somehow.

        Akshully, akshully, it depends on the cultivation novel. Depending on power tier and such, some of them do have the MC survive without a body for a while. I recall one that wound up ripping off Marvel’s Celestials a little later in story, but first the MC lost his body in a dimensional accident, and he spent a while in a ghost dimension as an incorporeal undead of some sort before getting a new body somehow. I mention the Celestials, because at some point he get an inheritance or something from one, and he has two bodies soon after that.

        Amazing Cultivation Simulator is a game on steam. There are at least three styles of cultivator that one can make in that. 1. generic type, golden cores and stuff. 2. something like a physical cultivation/martial body type 3. a type that is some sort of divinity.

        From the last, I’m presuming that there are a bunch of xianxia sub types that I never read, and my knowledge is shallow.

        And MotF goes way deep into that stuff, in some ways.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well, I suspect that the CCP is okay with people calling their characters deities, but not so much with them writing stories that take traditional (or non-traditional) Chinese religions seriously. Just like I bet they have no problem with medieval Western settings, but if somebody wrote Paksenarrion or some other kind of serious Christian/Catholic/Orthodox fantasy, you better make it look like you live in Singapore.

        One suspects.

        Liked by 2 people

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