A Long Road Chapter 10 Ficbit – Occupational Hazards

“Well.” Nie Huaisang fanned himself as their students walked in loose formation through the streets, tired and frustrated and jumpy as any juniors on their first try at a night-hunt. “That wasn’t the most successful hunt ever.”

“Not the worst, either,” Nie Zonghui mused, shepherding in a few flagging youngsters back into their flock. There were still a few honest folk walking the streets, and there weren’t that many toughs and cutpurses in Haven willing to attack a large group… but better safe than sorry. “Now everyone has an idea what not to look for, how easily people can be spooked… and how big an angry mother cat looks in the dark!” He glanced over them all. “And we did find a spot near that butcher where resentful energy had pooled enough to play tricks on people’s eyes. With any luck we’ve cleansed it, and the Watch can go over there later to shake the man down about violating the local laws on disposing offal. I’d call that a decent night.”

Nie Huaisang hid a smile, seeing shoulders straighten as everyone heard. “And no one ended up in fierce corpse mud!”

Mina gave him a tired look askance. As their best Beastspeaker, she’d been in the forefront of trying to convince a black alley-cat mother to move herself and her half-grown offspring out of the hole in a townhouse attic. Before the house’s owner could panic himself about “ghosts in the wall!” and take drastic measures. “Corpse mud? Really?”

“Oh, he’s not joking,” Nie Zonghui assured her. “People die, get thrown into a shallow grave, you get some rain or floods on top of it… that’s an awful mess. One of the few things that can get past self-cleaning talismans. And it can give you corpse poisoning, just like the dust or their bites. I hate corpse mud.”

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29 thoughts on “A Long Road Chapter 10 Ficbit – Occupational Hazards

  1. I feel like corpse mud would be easier to deal with than dust or bites. Shouldn’t some good, sturdy boots do the trick? Its not as easy to inhale as dust, and there’s no sentience behind it like a corpse bite would have. Its just… wet?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well mud will foul your footing, no matter how good your boots are. And while a face full of dust is easy to clear off as long as you’re careful not to breathe as you brush it off, a face full of mud will cling and need to be scrubbed away; a longer process with more time for some to accidentally get in your mouth.

      And since self cleaning talismans apparently don’t work, you’ll be stuck in wet, foul smelling clothing that clings uncomfortably until you have a chance to change and bathe. At which point now your laundress has to make sure she doesn’t splash any of the contaminated water in her face as she scrubs as less and hope her hands aren’t already so chapped and raw from work she has any open wounds of her own.

      And then even for bath time, well. With dust you can brush the worst of it off first and then get the rest with a quick wipe down with a damp cloth before hopping in the tub. Mud requires more scrubbing. Either you spend a whole lot more time standing naked as you keep changing out your wet cloths for less filthy ones as you try and get all the muck off before getting in the tub, or you get straight into the tub and hope you don’t have and open wounds of your own. And that you don’t splash your face with the befouled water.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. A nice sum-up of why any sane cultivator hates the stuff.

        Mind, there are probably other talismans you can use to help with cleanup. It’s just… tedious, icky, and with the risk of horrible death if you’re careless and no one stuffs congee in your mouth in time.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Oh my goodness, I’m now picturing the nasty half-clay mud my kids get into…. I’m a week into trying to get it out of a cotton toddler dress. WITH modern washing stuff, still have to sit there and scrub with a brush…and it’s like three square feet of cloth, max.

    Ugh!

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Makes me miss the foothill mud– that, you let it dry, and shake the clothes, and it’s 99% gone.

        Having grown up on clay, that sounds almost as magical as mess-repellent white silk. *laughing*

        Liked by 4 people

  3. Mud is evil even without the added corpse poisoning. I remember 2 separate school nature trips that ended with me almost losing a shoe to what looked liked stable ground but was anything but.

    I imagine corpse mud would have been a huge problem in the Burial Mounds. Maybe not in the areas WWX cleansed but I can see a huge storm and the run off from all those jagged spires causing huge pools of the stuff.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. The mud alone is bad enough before you take into consideration that there might be broken bones in that sink-to-your-knees muck that could create a wound to cause more direct poisoning.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Oh wow yeah, that would be terrible. Like, imagine red Georgia clay but EVIL. That stuff never comes all the way out of clothing, you have to toss it or suffer red stains forever.

    And imagine if their was anything more harmful in the dirt before a resentful corpse was buried there. Like uranium ore, or arsenic. Or there was a grove of oleanders near by. *winces*

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Makes me think of occupational health regulations, a little, which isn’t what I go to xianxia to enjoy.

    (An observer would go, but what about the bureaucratic hell in Memories of the Fall, and it’s focus on occupational safety issues of farming and of herb hunting in the Yin Eclipse? Okay, the rewrite slows down the point at which that stuff no longer matters, but they will still hit the point where OSHA doesn’t matter when you are on a melting iceburg in a sea full of hungry sharks.)

    Anyway, it sounds like ‘Industrial Hygienist in Another World’ would make a pretty terrible story.

    Burial Mounds is sort of like a Superfund site.

    Digression aside, I’m still enjoying these, and the story. Just, short a bit on time, energy, sense, etc.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Corpse mud sounds wretched, but it made me think of muskeg. Which I imagine would just fit right in with all the other resentful environmental hazards.

    Although I’m not exactly sure how you get more evil and hazardous than a nice green meadow that sucks people down without a trace. And the mosquitos, oh god. Resentful mosquitos. I have a new nightmare.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Have you looked at Black Sand from the 3.5 book Sandstorm?

        I can see that cursed stuff popping up in this sort of setting.

        The stuff radiates necromantic energy, and anything that dies to it turns into more. Imagine getting that in your boots…

        Liked by 1 person

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