A Long Road Chapter 9 Crossover Ficbit – Too Quiet

Wen Ning did not look at Master Wei askance. Even if his friend was avoiding the whole mess of, what if they didn’t have to kidnap a cultivator, because Hanguang-jun just didn’t want to leave?

Though he had a pretty good guess what his friend had already decided to do. Wei Wuxian would smile, be polite – and sprint from Haven so fast they’d be five li away while the dust was still falling.

In a puff of smoke, or a shadow-step, Wen Ning thought, sadly amused. Because Wei Wuxian kept his promises. He’d promised to find out if Lan Wangji had been kidnapped by a spirit-beast. He’d promised to make sure the Nie heir and his bodyguard were in one piece.

But above all, he’d promised that Wen Ning and his family would be safe. If the Lan Sect wanted their Second Jade back that badly, they could come get him themselves.

“If things go wrong,” Wei Wuxian sighed, “he can fly. We have to keep him from following us. So either we separate him from Bichen-”

Wen Ning raised a dubious brow.

“Right. I don’t like our odds of that either.” Wei Wuxian shifted to the next link. “So we have to take him down and put him out. Long enough that we can get back to an anchor array and vanish.” He breathed out, as if preparing for battle. “If it comes to that, I’ll hit him with a flare talisman, you bind him, I’ll slap on more bindings, you needle him. It should work. Anyway. First we need to meet Nie Huaisang and get some answers. Then… if Hanguang-jun’s not coming out of the Palace, we have to get in.”

And he likely wasn’t coming out, Wen Ning knew, or he’d have been at the gate with the Nie. Which would have been… interesting.

Lifting his head to clear the closest rooflines, Wen Ning stared south. Lanterns and torches flared against the oncoming night, tracing the streets of Haven as they spilled out along both banks of the Terilee River, unrestrained by walls or wards. It looked quiet. Unburned. Peaceful, alight to his senses with the distant warmth of thousands upon thousands of lives.

It doesn’t feel right. They’ve been at war with Hardorn for seven years. Why is everything here so… quiet?


31 thoughts on “A Long Road Chapter 9 Crossover Ficbit – Too Quiet

  1. Ah! That’s right, have the Niè told them that the Companion’s hooves ‘sound like Jiang clarity bells?’ I’m guessing not, given that they’re being very nervy about the lack of resentful energy, that is just part and parcel of living in a city.

    Of course, the areas around the Collegium are within spitting distance of some very, very sanctified and holy ground. I say this from the perspective of the heavy duty Calling that happened there, and the fact that it regularly produces archangel not-horses.

    (And may I remind us all that, actually, the Hawkbrothers have to take top spot in mental +%^#ery? First Owl book with traumatized child and the not-deer? Yeah, like Anne McCaffery liked to use time travel to solve all her problems, even when it didn’t, Lackey seems to favor mental ‘brute force’ healing.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I would argue that Lackey does not understand trauma or the treatment thereof at all. Or anything mental health related, really. No boss, a suicidal teen isn’t going to become less suicidal if you confess your own Horrible Trauma to them. (This happened in the Vanyel books. Vanyel’s suicidal and one of the Hawkbrothers decides that what Vanyel needs to hear is Hawkbrother’s own extremely traumatic past. Which no, he didn’t.)

      Liked by 5 people

      1. It is shown as not working at all in the book. Still a dumb as hell choice on all sides, but there’s that. Honestly, Vanyel really needed a family member besides his Sister to have a modicum of emotional intelligence. Preferably someone he could drop by their place to talk once in a while. Sayvil’s “Let’s drag him far away from everyone he knows so he can get some healing.” was probably the right choice for his powers, but I don’t imagine it did any good on the “Making sure he wants to live” front.

        To be slightly fair, that Tarma thing was one of her first stories ever, but I’m kinda glad she’s moved away from trauma congo for her main characters. You can do stories without everyone needing to have super tragic backstories. Karal was awesome, for instance.

        As for the war thing, gah, stuff is all over on the books about how much it was effecting life in Haven. There was a whole lot of implied behind the scenes “Oh, we’re moving a lot of supplies” and the various stuff with the Lords going on, honestly we get a much better look at how it hit Hardon and that’s not until Mage Storms.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I loved Karal. 🙂 And Alberich doesn’t have a super tragic backstory, just a “hard life” one. I prefer those, they give you an example of “see, hard work can pay off. Maybe you also need to get lucky, but without the work, luck wouldn’t help.”

        And yes. I think it’s explicitly stated at one point that Hardorn’s in much worse shape, partly because Ancar’s wreaking havoc on local magic.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. They did. It’s not the lack of resentful energy bothering them, it’s the fact that people don’t act like they’re at war here.

        (Part of that being that veterans in the West are there because they’re invalided out or have been told to go rest in no uncertain terms. If you’re in Haven, you can often actively still do stuff to support the Eastern border.)

        …And the Companions’ hooves aren’t a cure-all. They might be other places, but there is a Heartstone leaking magic from the Palace into the bedrock….

        Liked by 1 person

    2. It’s more along the lines of, “there’s a war on, why isn’t everyone actively participating?” Because in the Sunshot Campaign…. Well, there were plenty of non-cultivators trying desperately to keep their heads down, but Wen Ning wouldn’t have seen them. He was a hostage in the middle of Wen forces to keep his sister and clan in line.

      His experience of war is everyone in sight being involved – fighting, medicine, supplies, something. Haven as a still-functioning, normal city, just supporting a holding action on the Border, is completely alien.

      And agreed on the not-deer. The 2nd and 3rd Herald-Mage books handle trauma a bit better, but most of them…. Mentioning that part of the reason Tarma chose to be a Swordsworn, without sexual desire, was the aftermath of being brutally assaulted by a gang of those who wiped out her clan, is about as far as “recognition of trauma” often goes. Sigh.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. “Mentioning that part of the reason Tarma chose to be a Swordsworn, without sexual desire, was the aftermath of being brutally assaulted by a gang of those who wiped out her clan, is about as far as “recognition of trauma” often goes.”

        Yeah, that sounds like a really bad idea. Why does anime tend to handle trauma better than Western entertainment (as a general rule)? Is it their focus on character as much as plot/worldbuilding, or is it something else?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I don’t have a solid idea, but I have a hunch, based on trying – and failing – to get actual reality through to people who didn’t want to see it when I was a kid.

        And that is, too many people in the West seems to have the idea of “bad things only happen to bad people.” Which is why they’re so obsessed with, they must be Good People.

        And yet, to have a Hero, they must Overcome Bad Things, so Bad Things have to happen to them. This is a conundrum that makes the “Good people get Good Things!” crowd uncomfortable, it demonstrates their worldview is wrong. So they like to skim over any resulting trauma and say no, everything’s fine now that the Baddie is defeated.

        In Japan, “bad things happen to people who don’t go along with the group”. So… part of the aim is to reintegrate people with the group, and they can’t do that if a person is seething with unaddressed trauma? *Shrug* Is my thought, at least.

        Liked by 4 people

      3. My guess:
        More likely to know, and have spoken to, people who worked through actual trauma.

        Contrast the way some… I’ll call them concerned people… have taken to scolding others about fireworks traumatizing veterans and pets, vs the actual veterans with PTSD from being blown up who tell them to stop that. Especially funny when they try it on WWII vets, although that is sadly not as common anymore.

        Thing is, it’s based on their feelings and theories, rather than watching folks work through or fail to work through Stuff.

        (Most common PTSD trigger, shortened: driving like an idiot. Second most common: stuff near road that Should Not Be. Seattle near the homeless camps is a *really horrible* area for folks that got hit by IEDs.)

        Liked by 4 people

      4. :Nod: One of our daughters is extremely sensitive to certain pitches, too. That can take some fiddling. There are folks who dislike any loud noises– pets, too, so I don’t blanket discount it.
        However, I noticed that [relative’s] horrible traumatized by fireworks dogs had to be kept from chewing on the home firecrackers when their owners weren’t there to make it clear they were supposed to be scared. And there’s a nasty pattern of the PTSD vet who is horribly upset by fireworks… never left the US or saw combat, if they were ever even in the reserves….

        But “don’t drive like an a-hole, keep roads clear, and for heaven’s sake DO NOT JAYWALK” are very hard to feel Special and Noble and Brave for pushing. (I am shocked there haven’t been a lot of deaths from the surround-a-vehicle tactic, because that’s another IED delivery tactic.)

        Liked by 3 people

      5. Well, to be fair, Tarma’s attitude was more that “My guy and all my relatives and friends are dead, I really really want to catch and kill the guys who killed my tribe, and I am totally okay with any and all sacred requirements appertaining thereto.” And the Swordsworn became asexual because they had to be absoposilutely neutral, when in a position to do law enforcement and feud management among tribes.

        Tarma had a lot of trauma, but she also wanted to visit permanent trauma upon others.

        Liked by 3 people

      1. I wouldn’t be so rude as to actually pat them if we were in the same fictional vs. nonfictional condition.

        But yeah, that, and now they’ve got a whole new weird location to worry about things in!

        Liked by 3 people

  2. There is no war in Ba Sing Se /jk. Chances are good they’ve been made (It seems likely, from previous chapter.) And that’s why it’s so quiet, the area’s been cleared. I am waiting to see who approaches them, if I’m right. 😀

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hmmm, I was actually thinking they had manged to sneak in under the radar so to speak, at least for now… once people look closer at their rescue patient and start asking questions is when I think people might have an idea of who managed to slip under their noses.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s going to take a little longer for the really interesting questions to be asked. Things like this scenario:

        Healer: Oh good, we finally got this impaled guy stabilized, odds are he’ll make it. Now let’s take a good look at what did this to him.


        Say, that’s funny….

        Liked by 4 people

  3. i just want to give these two hugs! The incorrect paranoia is hilariously pathetic.

    Of course, the almost-correct paranoia is frightening – must hope WWX’s brain works faster than his battle reflexes!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Now, how likely is Rolan to be able to notice the locus of resentment, given his range and the imprint that LWJ shared?

    I’ll admit, with all the advantages the cultivators have, I’d like to see the Companions displaying their own. And in Haven, with the node under the palace, they’ve got at least some. So guide Kellen in for a ‘before you go looking for the man that both of us dearly treasure, let’s talk’.

    For potential maximum amusement, that can be while NHS is fluttering at WWX during _that_ debrief.


    Liked by 4 people

    1. That’s actually an interesting question. The main problem is, we don’t know what advantages Companions might have.

      Canon. We don’t know. The hooves driving off/weakening anything evil and magical (but not being sufficient to kill things like, say, wyrsa or Furies without a lot of luck) is confirmed in some stories. Otherwise they are meant to be intelligent friends and partners (as well as gallant steeds) who have Mindspeech, pull in energy to give them three times the speed and endurance of horses, and very rarely demonstrate any other Gifted abilities. Once in a while they have a Mindhealer for a very traumatized Chosen. Yfandes pulled a few tricks she wasn’t supposed to out of her mane to Fetch herself and Stefen back to the Valdemaran Army, then zipped herself back to die with Vanyel stopping Leareth.

      And… that’s it.

      The Groveborn, canon, do have a few more abilities. Mostly, they can BeSpeak anyone or anything, and they have the range to do it across Valdemar and beyond. Taver once showed Alberich a glimpse of Heaven, and controlled his body so he didn’t fall.

      And that’s it.

      For all their “We stand against evil,” the Companions do not seem to have a Detect Evil ability – witness Lord Orthallen’s decades of plots and assassinations. The King’s Own before Talia was poisoned, and Rolan didn’t see it coming. Talia herself was nearly drowned, and Rolan had no warning.

      So let’s look at mage-level detection of energy, and say Rolan might have that much ability. (Which is, again, not mentioned in canon.) Let’s even give him Adept-level detection skills. Which we see exercised in Winds of Fate when Quenten checks out Elspeth coming down the road – and totally freaks out at the level of power displayed.

      Before Need makes it disappear.

      It is possible to hide from Mage-Sight. Trained mages know how to do it. And Wei Wuxian knows he’s up against many, many Companions at least as strong as Graya – who identified Wen Ning as an embodied spirit right after she met him. He’s going to have every possible energy-shield and “we’re too tiny to notice, really” trick he has going – and he set them up well before he got into Haven.

      Later books (set earlier in the timeline) qualify that the Companions can’t use the Heartstone without a Herald as an intermediary. And… Elspeth is currently the only one who’d qualify, and she’s a kingdom away.

      If you can think of any advantage the Companions have that they can use when Wei Wuxian’s not right in front of them, please let me know.

      Edit: Seriously, please let me know. I’ve gone through every bit of Valdemar canon I can find, and unless a Companion is cheating the way Yfandes did, which she only did because it was the only way to stop an army, Wei Wuxian is just flat-out undetectable if he’s any distance away. And at this point in time Rolan has no idea WWX is in Valdemar, so he wouldn’t be actively searching.

      Second Edit: *Sheepish* Ah. And forgot the most telling example of all for this – Hulda. Who was Elspeth’s nurse for over a decade, completely undetected by Heralds or Companions, including Rolan. And Hulda is an Adept.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Don’t forget that the imprint that was shared was from a time when Wei Wuxian not only had no reason to hide his scary, but he had nothing to spare because he was throwing everything into fighting Wen Ruohan. See someone backed into a corner, and fighting? It’s nasty, it’s mean, and it totally doesn’t mean they aren’t always broadcasting nastiness. So even if the Companions had a Detect Evil, Wei Wuxian doesn’t, count. And his spookiness isn’t running in wartime footing.

        Liked by 4 people

    1. Yep. Also, think about swordflight and combat realities. If someone wants you bad enough (mainly Wen Ruohan, but anyone) they have the capability to come straight for you. Defense in depth against landbound forces… is less than effective against air assaults. Lanling escaped unscathed because Jin Guangshan bowed and scraped enough – until the Wen were already on the run, and then Wen Ruohan had no time or spare forces to burn them to the ground.

      This is one of the reasons I had Wei Wuxian and Wen Ning puzzling over the map and “why hasn’t Valdemar tried to assassinate Ancar already” in an earlier chapter. They’re a little fuzzy on what it would take to get a Valdemaran bunch all the way to Hardorn’s capital!

      Liked by 2 people

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