50 thoughts on “A Long Road Chapter 9 up on AO3

  1. Something that occurred to me after I posted my review (and after I was at work) is how the Lan clan may have realized after Wei Wuxian died and before his resurrection that they may have bungled how they handled Lan Wangji’s education if they managed to misread him so badly. (This is mainly Lan Xichen and Lan Qiren, as his immediate family.) It Amy also explain why they let him teach the night hunting classes for juniors, trying to foster someone in the clan who could read him well enough that this didn’t happen, and have an excuse to socialize him without having to admit they messed up on that in the first place.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Awesome chapter! So much info and Feelings! Of course it took WWX noticing the types of ghosts that resented Heralds to make him see they’re probably cool. WN wanting to ensure WWX wants to stay among the living! NHS has a Thing for Mina! Talia has a headache and poor LWJ gets a hug! They think they have equilibrium, but oh BOY with what’s coming…I can’t wait!!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I did like that! “Conceptually their whole approach to magic is seriously worrying, but look at the witnesses! I can’t find anybody who died mad at them for reasons that actually condemn them, so they must be mostly trying to do the right thing.”

      (Goes nicely with the other direction: “Conceptually his whole approach to magic is seriously worrying, but…!”)

      Liked by 5 people

  3. Sadly none of the fics I follow have updated lately so this was a very welcome surprise❤

    Lan Xichen is one of my more favorite secondary characters but I would love to see Huaisang call him out for allowing LWJ to dig his own political grave deeper.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. As much as I like Lan Xichen (and I do), he definitely needs *something*. He’s nowhere near as politically blind as Lan Wangji, but for someone in his position, he can be *far* too trusting. Though I’ll admit I tend to come down on the opposite end of that, so maybe I’m biased.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Lan Xichen’s childhood might have been objectively better if he had been entangled in piloting Evangelion. Anyone know how old he was when his mother passed away?

        Liked by 1 person

  4. LWJ is scary “except when he has a rabbit.”



    LWJ and WWX begin arming themselves for Massive Overkill (Non-Lethal) in anticipation of their Inevitable Showdown.

    LWJ vs WWX: FIGHT!

    30 seconds later….

    Talia stared. First at Lan Wang-Ji, who was buried under a pile of fluffy bunnies twice as large as he was. Then at ‘infamous Yiling Patriarch,’ who was currently helplessly entangled with a mass of giggling children who were treating him much like they would a big fuzzy friendly dog. Then, at the Nies and the young man with black markings on his neck, who were standing together and facepalming in near-identical poses.

    She wasn’t sure whether to sigh, or break down in giggles.

    Kellen chimed in from his safe position on the sidelines: *You know, I think this may actually have been the best-case outcome, all things considered.”

    Liked by 6 people

      1. I’m still cracking up every now and then over the conversation idea from… I think some earlier comments section….

        “It might keep things calmer if you hand him small children.”
        “Um, unless you threaten the children, in which case, you know, you’d be doomed.”
        “Oh, maybe you will get along!”

        Liked by 5 people

      2. /Part of this will happen…./
        WWX: “Right the Nies won’t be a problem but we’re going to have to safely neutralize Wang-Ji so we can get the chains on him. Fortunately I have just the thing!”
        WN: “…An animal summoning talisman, master Wei?”
        WWX: “Not ‘just’ summoning. With a bit of modification, this little thing can call and direct any number of bunnies to wherever or whoever I need. I knew I held onto it for a reason.”

        WN: “Didn’t you hold onto it so that you wouldn’t need to hunt for lunch while on the road Master Wei?”
        WWX: “Well yes but let’s not bring that up around Wang-Ji. He gets upset whenever we talk about getting our hands on those adorable-and-delicious meals on fluffy legs.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh, uh, only noticed one golem in the gears for this chapter. When the Niè are explaining about how fierce corpses happen “Is Lake Evendim is large enough…”

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry, got it from Pierce Anthony’s Xanth series. I don’t know if you’re familiar with it, but a basic overview is that in Xanth puns are real and there’s the Adult Conspiracy that keeps children from learning what things like sex, swear words, and ‘flipping the bird’ are. In one book, a character says to a sentient sword “hell, you’re in my hand now…” despite being a teenager and since there was a new editor, it didn’t get caught. It actually comes up in a later book, where someone asks that character’s wife if he swore. She explained that the muse who wrote Xanth history had a golem get in the gears and what had been meant was “well, you’re in my hand now…”

        Ever since then I tend to think of mistyped or potential grammar errors as being a golem in the gears. In this particular case, I was wondering if using two ‘is’ in the question was intentional or not.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. “I know Companions aren’t horses, and that they Choose those who are righteous, and just. You know that. Half your Blues know that. Too many of your nobles – the ones who believe in bloodlines, who hate Ancar because he’s overrunning their lands, not because he’s a horrible evil person murdering innocents and the earth together – will never believe it.”

    There’s also the issue of telling someone “Here is an objectively perfect judgement of morality… and you don’t qualify.”

    First there’s the question of how righteous they are, since that can often be very subjective.
    Saying that they need to defer their judgement to a horse…

    Then there’s the fact that the nobles have power, and at least some responsibility to use it, but they don’t always have a magic horse to guarantee their work, so they have to handle the uncertainty the hard way.
    Then someone else comes along and says they’re doing it wrong.

    Now imagine what it would feel like if you think of yourself as a good person, then you *don’t* get chosen?
    Or even worse, if someone you don’t respect *is* chosen?
    Would you think “I must be a horrible person” or would you think “obviously they don’t know what they’re doing”?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Compounded by the fact that not even all Valdemarans realize that Companions are sentient…

      Kethry’s lover, when they first meet, is quite surprised at this outlander who realizes that Companions are spirits special.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Honestly, that is one of the bits I find hard to believe. They never show Valdemar religions that also have divine beasts but not sentient ones, or that play act the beasts being sentient for religious reasons. The nobles are not Holderkin who never see Companions, so they should be seeing them as legit factions to watch out for or court favor with.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Maybe I need to go back and read the books again but I thought it was more a case of you had a gift of some sort, not a psycho and the companions were the best mental health care possible, not infalable of course.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. … Given that it apparently isn’t considered an inland sea, is this a case of active magic, or just geography I don’t understand?

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Maybe the geography.

        It’s fluid mechanics! 😀

        I have a glass 1/5 to 1/4 full.

        I slowly translate (move in a straight line) the glass, and the water doesn’t visibly move much. (There’s some movement, shaking of my hand, etc.) In theory, if you did complete translation, and your acceleration was slow enough, you wouldn’t even have much of that.

        When I rotate the glass, the water’s surface tries to stay at a right angle to gravity, even though the shape it is in is changing. This is the body force on the water, specifically gravity.

        Imagine you think of the water as being a bunch of little cubes, all stacked on each other. If you have a net force on the cube in a direction, it will accelerate (move). If the liquid is not moving, no net force in any direction. Since the faces each cube are surfaces, the normal forces are in the form of normal pressures. Sides are pretty easy, when not moving the pressures on each side are the same. But, body force, gravity. There is a difference between the top pressure, and the bottom pressure, that has to do with the weight of the cube, and the size of the faces. This the the ABCs of the basic hydrostatic, or liquid that isn’t moving, theory within fluid mechanics.

        When the water in my glass is still wobbling after I put it down, hydrostatics is not true. This is like a mass on spring, or a pendulum. The bits of water that are higher push down on lower bits. If one part of the surface is lower than another, the highest bit, and the bits under it, are pushing down a lot, and the lowest bit is hardly pushing down at all. So the pressures aren’t evenly balanced, and the bits of water move.

        Next is a little tricky.

        The gravity from the Earth can be considered static, and constant. The moon is large, has gravity, and the motion means that the strength of the moon’s gravity, while weak, is different at different times. The actual body force on the water in my glass, is the earth’s gravity, plus the moon’s gravity, plus everything else. The water in my glass has lunar tides, just much too small to measure. Technically, there is also an impossibly tiny tidal effect from waving my hand near the glass.

        If you have enough water and surface area, and know what you are doing, you can measure teeny tiny tides. Increase the size some, much more obvious tides.


  7. From the chapter: “By forcing you to defend Princess Elspeth’s absence, he and his agents force you to defend the blood of a traitor and would-be regicide-”

    O_o I remember that it is widely believed that Prince Karathanelan died in a “hunting accident,” so I *thought* that his intentions were not widely known? So that very few non-Heralds know he was a traitor and would-be murderer? (And any “objections” to Elspeth are putatively based on how horridly she behaved while under Hulda’s influence?)

    Did I get confused? Or did NHS *forget* that he has been told that Prince K’s shenanigans are still mostly a secret?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. In noble circles? Everyone will treat the convenient “death by a hunting accident“ as the political fiction that it is. They are born and bred to detect bull crap.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah, there is the Official Truth. That which one has been informed one can survive saying in certain situations, such as in public or an official context. Sometimes literally in regimes that are particularly obnoxious, or extreme statements.

        Nobles are like lawyers, there is training and experience in being careful in making statements. Because there can be a weight to statements, and consequences. Just like there are lawyers who think they are cleverer than they are, you have nobles who are young, undisciplined, poorly trained, insane, etc.

        So, Nobles will often have a sense of what the Official Truth is, make careful statements, and attentively parse statements by other nobles. Because the Official Truth is not always true, and even when true may not be complete enough for a sound basis for decisions one is compelled to make.

        The center of official power has incomplete surveillance ability. So there are always circumstances where one can at least hint at things beyond the Official Truth. Because, while some cover stories hold, you will not see every single cover story hold.

        We can expect the nobles to be aware of the surveillance capacities of Heralds (Truth Spell), and to be aware of how to mitigate.

        So, yeah, they infer it, can make some pretty shrewd guesses, and can gossip.

        Frankly, that this era of Valdemar feels it so necessary to preserve a lie makes it a bit of a crap regime. Ideally, things that are actually true make up the Official Truth. Guess how frequent ideal regimes are?

        As an aside, speech policing of the general American population could result in common Americans developing some of these qualities we ascribe to nobles. Though, that is from a starting point of Americans valuing speech enough, culturally, that we were often already careful in making statements, and in parsing the words of people we know speak carefully.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. The official reason of “we don’t want to embarrass Rethwellan” never sat right with me, either.

        My headcanon? It was actually, “We don’t want to prod our Queen’s very hurt feelings, he treated her so badly and then tried to kill her, she doesn’t need to be reminded of that!”

        Possibly even well-meant, from people who saw Selenay struggling to raise Elspeth and… well. Failing.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. MotF actually takes this topic to an interesting place.

        Cultivation is a series of transformations that result in super powers. One of the extremes MotF takes this to is that some of the people who can control esoteric properties of an entire world can be pretty terrible.

        So, the esoteric workings of East Azure are a surveillance state, with thresholds set by jerks.

        We see evidence of this in many of the scenes set outside the Yin Eclipse mountains. A lot of the scenes with higher level cast are either public, involve a measure taken to prevent prying, or mention deliberately not thinking things in order to mitigate surveillance, including private surveillance. And the MCs are low level, and have the habit of never outright lying, in order to manage the lie detection abilities of those at a higher level.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. *G* Here I am filling in a Velgarth canon plothole!

      As of Winds of Fate, the official story is the Hunting Accident. However, as of Winds of Fury, when Elspeth gets back to Valdemar, the “he was a traitor who tried to assassinate the Queen, and she’s just like him” is apparently all over Valdemar. So this is the time when Hardorn’s spreading those rumors!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Forgot a key bit: the more that the Official Truth is obviously false, in general, the more rumor spreads, develops, etc. Lying in Official Truth is always a choice for more gossip/rumor, some of it likely to be more damaging than admitting inconvenient things in Official Truth.

    Slight quibble: There are specific situations where the regime has everyone terrorized enough to constrain the scope of rumor, maybe even what people admit to themselves (preference falsification). It still results in behavior that is not exactly what those above dictate.

    If disagreeing with someone will result in them killing you, and if they have magnified it with terror, you may not learn a lot of mental habits when it comes to analysis of the world, and correlating inputs. But, you have other things you need to understand in order to make other decisions to keep yourself alive. That trade off means that you are still analyzing the world in a small, carefully hidden, sort of way. The ‘state space’ of these little concealed analysis and decision pockets, across the whole population, is unknown to the decision makers who set Official Truth. So, you basically eventually have a situation where the random walk of the Official Truth, and of the inner state spaces, hits a point where the dynamics of the society change rapidly and unpredictably. Preference Cascade, ala Romania.

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