A Long Road Chapter 11 Ficbit – Whispers

A jolt of pain from Rikard as the rod began to slip-

Cold, like wind whistling over a winter battlefield. Only higher. Sharper. Almost singing.

:Hold on,: chill notes whistled. :We’re coming. I’ll help you save him. But you have to make your body hold on.

:Lean on me. I have all the strength you need….:

Cold, as something listened. Dead fingers clamped on iron, unbreakable, as Rikard’s agony crested and broke, again and again-

A tiny prick; the brush of a moth’s wing in the midst of a windstorm. Yet agony vanished, swallowed up in the black of blissful unconsciousness.

All that was left was unearthly cold, as a dead body held itself firm. Cold, and… humming.

:Easy. I know it’s hard to see, so feel. That brightness, that feels so warm? That’s your cousin. He’s alive. We’re stopping the bleeding- yes. That needle did it. All right, hold tight. My friend’s going to brace your cousin while I cut-:

More chill, gripping iron past dead fingers, closer to Rikard. Only… a livelier chill, somehow. Snowfall over a well-tended garden, protecting plants and roots until the spring. With it came a third set of feelings; hatred of the blood, sadness at death, the fine-honed concentration of a healer doing what he had to so a patient would survive.

A silk-whisper of sound, and iron lurched, suddenly shorter. Another-

:It’s okay. You can rest now. Thank you.:

Bandages, winding around and around to steady iron in place. The darkness of an unconscious man.

-And then the reassuring warmth of his sitting room, as Mical dropped iron with a clatter and a stifled shriek. “What in the Nine Hells was that?

:Interesting question.: Kantor’s tone was near calm, but Alberich could almost see wild-rolling eyes. :That fading, Georg-:

“That man died!” Mical was shaking, brushing off his hands over and over, as if something horrible clung to them. “He was dead, I know what dying people feel like, and – and something made his body move, he was still inside it when he was dead-!

“Mical.” Alberich gripped his arm to stop him from digging at his own skin; Crathach moved in to grab his cousin’s shoulders, radiating a Mindhealer’s warmth and safety. “Mical. Past, it is. Calm down, you must, that find the answers we can-”

31 thoughts on “A Long Road Chapter 11 Ficbit – Whispers

  1. Ouch. But the death scene from the one who died, amazing. It was phenomenal, an excellent way to bounce back to it from the inside without trading old ground. A peeve of mine ever since I read a book that took entirely too many pages to retread the end of the previous book from a new perspective. But this was new. And I love the description of Wen Ning, and the inherent hope of it. And it is a very good thing for all involved that Wei Wuxian was not the one who grabbed that bar.

    It wouldn’t have helped Valdemar. And I have a nasty feeling that the Burial Mounds would linger.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Do souls automatically leave at the exact moment of death? I’m sure the healers know about the 3 minute window where it’s sometimes possible to bring someone back but Mical might not.

    Wow if he’s this freaked out now he’s not going to have a good time when he gets a deeper read on Wen Ning.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s a little iffy. In Velgarth canon, Heralds seem to check out immediately post-death, even if their spirits poke back in later. (As Kris is implied to have done with Talia.)

      Heh. Mical is likely to actively avoid Wen Ning, poor cinnamon roll….

      Liked by 4 people

    1. Imagine one of those movie scenes where the characters think someone is dead and then the “dead” person’s hand suddenly snaps up and grabs one of them, and there’s that dramatic music sting with the screeching violins, except instead if being safely on the other side of the screen, it’s happening in your head and you can feel it.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I get why Mical would freak, but that is actually one of the most comforting necromantic encounters I’ve ever read. Wen Ning still a healer even in kinda-death, Wei Ying being both reassuring and a pillar of strength so Georg could hold on long enough to save Rikard. Little do they know that he’s here right now…..

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Another interesting thing I spot is Wei Wuxian letting the dead lean on him. It shows a reciprocal, sharing relationship. Very different from the demanding, commanding, taking relationship that Ancar and the rest of witach brood have taught them about. In a way, this is the best testament they could have. Wei Wuxian and Wen Ning have every reason to bypass Georg and Rickard, or at least do what conventional medicine can. They don’t. They stop and do everything in their power for not only the live man but also to the dead.

    And if I have to go like that? I’d appreciate someone helping me, reassuring me, and letting me know everything’s going to be as good as I could make it. That’s not a bad way to go.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. It’s what he does. 🙂 He can command the dead. Most of the time, though, he tries not to. WWX was raised a cultivator, and the first thing they’re supposed to do with spirits is get them to pass on peacefully.

      I can’t think of anything more likely to get a restless spirit to pass on than to know, “Okay, you did it. You beat the odds. We’re going to take over now, and we’re going to save him for you.

      Liked by 5 people

  5. That said, there’s a reason why people around unconscious, very sick/injured people are supposed to be positive in how they talk around them. You don’t want to tell someone to go, unless it really is time.

    Also, it’s shocking how fast people can decline, even if the problem causing it is not a major one. Like my dad when he got prescribed a medicine that didn’t agree with him. As soon as he got a better med, he was immediately much better, instead of looking like he was a few feet away from permanent disability or even death. So judging whether it’s time to go is less obvious than some people think it is.

    WWX has a lot of experience of various kinds, and lives with a pre-modern medical situation (weird cultivation talents and Valdemaren Gifts aside). So he’s not just pulling that sort of judgment out of his nethers.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So judging whether it’s time to go is less obvious than some people think it is.

      100,000%

      I’ve got a lot of relatives/family friends who went years beyond the “at most a few weeks” type expert statements.

      It gets worse when more active encouragement to “rest” are an option.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. In fairness to Micah, I think if I was encountering necromancy without any warning of the possibility and knowing what has been happening in the war . . . I would freak out too.

    Given what Ancar has been doing, you can’t really blame people for freaking out at anything that looks ever remotely similar and wanting to kill it with fire.

    Liked by 1 person

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