A Long Road Chapter 12 Ficbit – One Letter

Talia frowned. “I believe there’s a danger. But the Jianghu is very far away, and if the sects have any skill in politics and power there are limits to how much they’ll risk just to strike at us. What aren’t you telling me?”

“Oh. That’s simple.” Gray eyes looked down; wistful and sad. “You see, if someone really wants to do you all harm, the sects don’t need to come here. All they need to destroy you is one letter from Hanguang-jun’s uncle, Lan Qiren. Commanding him to come home.”

Crathach started. “One-?”

Talia gulped a breath, feeling as if the air had been punched from her lungs. Oh. Oh gods, she knew this. Too well. One letter, one sentence, had been enough to break her heart.

Sensholding has no daughter Talia.

Lan Qiren might no longer be the Acting Sect Leader of Lan, but he was still a respected elder and teacher of the sect. More, he’d raised his two nephews, instilling an iron code of honor even though he’d failed to teach Lan Wangji the confusion of politics. And an elder of your own sect had loyalty far beyond that given to the leader of the sect where you were a guest disciple.

“They’d send the letter, and Lan Wangji would go,” Talia stated, dread curling in her gut. “Kellen wouldn’t leave him. Companions don’t. They’d go, and the Lan Sect would think Kellen was possessing him, and – and try to exorcize him, destroy his spirit, kill them both unless they escaped-!”

“Hanguang-jun wouldn’t escape.” Wei Wuxian shook his head. “If Lan Qiren told him it had to be done – he doesn’t question his elders, or his traditions. Believe me, I know.”

Meaning Selenay would have to respond as Queen to a Herald’s murder- wait. Talia stared, and swallowed. “Lan Wangji doesn’t want you dead. He never has. I know it may have looked like he did….”

Gray eyes glinted, amused. “Oh, I know that.”

“You… do,” Talia got out, very surprised.

“Of course!” Wei Wuxian stretched his arms over his head; brought them down, hand resting casually near the polished black flute. “Lan Zhan’s straightforward, if you take a little time to watch him. I wouldn’t say our relationship is good – but he doesn’t hate me.”

From the way Wen Qionglin’s lips pressed together, he wasn’t entirely sure of that.

“Only he believes in righteousness,” Wei Wuxian went on, “and in Hanguang-jun’s world, that means following the rules. Would you volunteer to be struck a hundred times for leaving Cloud Recesses after curfew, when someone else tackled you over the wall?”

31 thoughts on “A Long Road Chapter 12 Ficbit – One Letter

    1. Lan Wangji is also struggling to overcome that. Talia, with her experience in the Holds, is probably the one who can come closest to understanding what it’s like.

      (In the not-canonical-but-really-should-be-and-is-at-least-canon-compliant Friends Across Borders, Kir Dinesh would also understand.)

      Liked by 4 people

  1. Hm, WWX may not have as much of the important information as he thinks– he’s still thinking of Companions as Guardian Spirits. Which, yes, but— Kellen is also someone to protect.

    Building up to where that’s not a last minute, fatal, “oh well we die together” thing? That’ll be some work.

    If I was doing it, I’d probably go the route of protecting people from doing something horrible based on bad information, but that’s because it’s the route that would work on me.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Yeah, WWX isn’t /wrong/ exactly, but he is completely discounting a) how much more experience LWJ has now as a person outside of his clan (bc Cloud Recesses arc LWJ was a sheltered SHELTERED bean and had yet to really even know there COULD be more than The Rules), and b) how much LWJ loves him. Because lifebond. Is a thing.

    Add in how much LWJ now knows was deliberate actions from his clan to keep him politically illiterate for their benefit, and how much he cares for Kellan already, plus the clarity now that everyone and their chickens seems to have been sure of his thoughts on WWX…. Yeah, one letter from Lan Qiren might not have the immediate obedient response WWX quite thinks it would. (I do think he would go probably, but maybe stop at the edge of the plains outside the Jianghu and send his own letter requesting his brother and uncle meet him out there. Because they need to Talk.)

    Everyone is only working with a small bit of the puzzle pieces here! Excellent fic bit!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Still bad enough… but… not-being-familiar-with-canon, now I’m wondering if WWX has ever seen him do the “Gossip is forbidden, so it would be inappropriate to repeat these rumors” thing.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. He hasn’t. Novel canon, Lan Wangji only hits that stage in the years after Wei Wuxian dies… which leads to much spit-taking and missed steps on Wei Wuxian’s part after being resurrected, because he is not ready for a mature Lan Wangji who knows how to bend rules and tease!

        Liked by 4 people

  3. Oh. Dear. And if that letter was sent, Lan Wangji knows he would have to go, but he’d go because of politics, not necessarily obedience. The only way faster to kick off the war than showing up with Kellan would be to refuse to go, because then “he’s definitely possessed!”

    And as a side note, even if by some miracle the Lan let Lan Wangji explain and believe him, there is no guarantee that Kellan wouldn’t be in danger anyway. Because Companions pull in environmental magic from the lines and from nodes. And the Jianghu’s is a bunch of rapids surrounding a maelstrom. There is a very darn good reason everyone thinks Wei Wuxian is insane to do what he does.

    Talia is also getting tonal whiplash from these two about Wangxian. To go from the intense pining of Lan Wangji who seems to feel they have a solid friendship at least, to Niè Huaisang’s ‘outside looking in’ rocky but not murderous understanding, to Wen Ning’s’yeah, he definitely hates you, bro,’ to Wei Wuxian’s ‘he doesn’t want me dead, which is about as positive as most of my relationships get these days,’ it’s a wild ride. At least she can assure Lan Wangji that the accidental death threats aren’t being taken personally, by Wei Wuxian. The Wen, not so much.

    Still, the example given is very evocative. Especially the language he’s couched it in. And it still doesn’t really pull in the full scope of the discipline rod. There’s a reason Lan Wangji went to heal in the Cold Springs, and why Lan Xichen sent Wei Wuxian there to bother his brother for the same reason. But Talia is starting to get a grip on why Wei Wuxian has the views he does of Lan Wangji. Because that would be a very formative viewpoint.

    All of which doesn’t change the fact that Wei Wuxian knowing that Lan Wangji wasn’t meaning to give out a death threat doesn’t change the fact that it was a death threat. Trying to drag someone deathly allergic to strawberries to a strawberry patch is still not going to work out well. Especially if there are militant family members who would insist that he has to eat the strawberries, no excuses. And would be mortally offended by any allergic reaction up to and including death. (Shameless plug of one of my favorite fics, Decay by antebunny ! Wei Wuxian agrees to let the Lan purify him in exchange for sheltering his Wen remnants, but only if Lan Wangji does it. Lan Wangji thinks he’ll get his Wei Ying back. The Lan think they will be able to remove the demonic influence from the cultivation world, and Wei Wuxian thinks he can make everyone happy with this compromise.)

    Liked by 3 people

  4. *buries head in hands* I can’t believe I missed this the first time, but while Wei Wuxian is blithely assuring Talia that he and Lan Wangji aren’t friends, though they aren’t enemies either, while he’s using Lan Wangji’s intimate name. You know, the one that not even his family uses?

    (Do I headcanon that the Lan only use the intimate names between spouses? Yes, yes I do. Much like we never get an intimate name for the Niè, the Jin seem to use a generational poem, and the Jiang and Wen don’t seem to care. And Jin Guangyao seems to have absorbed something from the Niè, because we never get Jin Rusong’s birth name. Only his curtesy name.) (You remember that seen from the, er, I think it’s donghua instead of anime, where Wei Wuxian finds the rule about only the fated one being allowed to touch the ribbon? And the tumblr post with Wei Wuxian freaking out calmly reacting to the fact that he’s been acting as Lan Wangji’s spouse since they were fifteen? Yeah, that with the name thing.)

    Liked by 4 people

    1. To be fair, odds are good that Talia has no idea how the intimate name thing works. Not to mention that most of the time, if an adult is using the intimate name of another adult, it’s active disrespect rather than familiarity…

      (I tend to understand it as less “public name vs intimate name” and more “childhood name vs adulthood name.” The use pattern seems closer to the latter, at least.)

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Seconding this.

        Courtesy names are well. A sign of courtesy. If a person has one, you use it for them, unless you are trying to be deliberately rude, or they specifically ask you otherwise (see Jin Ling being embarrassed by his courtesy name and preferring to use his birth name). Whether or not older family members use a younger person’s courtesy name boils down to a million little personal choices and dynamics and isn’t particularly noteworthy either way. Super close friends choosing to use birth names between them happens, but it definitely isn’t the default assumption.

        No one hearing WWX and LWJ calling each other by birth name has ever commented on it as an implied sign of closeness between them. Everyone assumes it’s because of bad blood/disrespect between them.

        Pretty much the entire jianghu thought WWX and LWJ despised each other at the time WWX died (which would be only a few months after the point of divergence here). The Lans (particularly LXC) might have realized LWJ’s feelings were more complicated than that, but even LXC was blindsided by the truth of LWJ’s feelings.

        And while Lans only using birth names between spouses is a cute headcanon, it really isn’t supported by canon in any way. If it were true, there would have been MASSIVE backlash all the way back in the CR arc, because there is no way LQR would have tolerated that. And LWJ would not have been so improper as to do that either.

        Liked by 3 people

  5. well it would take a while and a bit of effort for a letter to get there. The Jin might use butterflies and the Wen owls but no one has mentioned the Lan having a fast method of communication. Also the Lan don’t know yet that Lan Wangji should be ordered home — before fast transport and quick communication envoys often stayed in host countries for years.
    They should ask Nie Huaisang for advice, but why not preempt things slightly by asking Lan Qiren to visit? Until he has both investigated the problem and decided what to do, no one in the Lan Sect is going to act. Lan Qiren might decide tolerating Kellen is better than risking the damage caused by breaking their bond. Lan Qiren might agree that Wangji should continue to stay in Valdemar while the Jin are stirring up problems, A Lan heir connected to a spiritual being is a point of weakness they don’t need to advertise.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. While this is a good point, it does Aldo depend a lot on what version of Lan Qiren we are talking about, let alone what version our beloved author is using 😅. Because in the novel and live action at least, Lan Qiren would rather Lan Wangji be beaten almost to death by the discipline rods than let him defy his Sect and the Elders, ESPECIALLY for Wei Wuxian. And I think he would feel that willingly getting possessed would be a huge indicator that Lan Wangji is following in Wei Wuxian’s footsteps, if not a sign that he was beyond saving. That version would absolutely try to rip Kellen and Lan Wangji apart no matter the risk, and if Lan Wangji died in the process… now the Doughua version, he might care more about Lan Wangji’s well being, but he also stood buy and did nothing to stop Lan Wangji’s punishment after he injured the Lan Elders. Of all the characters in all versions of MDZS, Lan Qiren is a rather perfect example of a blindly prejudiced Elder, who is more concerned with respect and obedience than family ties and doing what is morally right. Even if he does really care about Lan Wangji and his brother.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. OK, so LQR standing by during LWJ’s punishment for attacking the Elders…he didn’t exactly have a choice? LWJ committed treason for the man who was public enemy number one. He wasn’t executed, frankly that’s amazingly lenient for a clan-based feudal society. There was no way LQR or LXC would be able to get LWJ off with no punishment, this is Fantasy Ancient China, and he attacked the Elders of his sect. They wouldn’t be able to give him a light or moderate punishment. It HAD to be severe.

        Yes, LWJ’s punishment was horrific, but, and I cannot stress this enough, he committed treason and attacked his Elders and teachers. He earned it, and LWJ says in the narrative that he knew what he was doing and what the consequences of it would be. And that he doesn’t regret it or blame anyone but himself for the consequences.

        The Lans also made it an entirely in-house matter. None of the other sects know what happened and none of the Lan juniors know about it. LWJ was punished, and after that punishment was up he could go back to his life with no further problems.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. Yes, this makes a lot of sense, but the point I was trying to make is that depending on the version, especially in the live action, Lan Qiren didn’t even flinch or appear torn or anything. And I was always under the impression that the punishment was just one step short of death on purpose, not to save Lan Wangji’s life or anything but to really Punish him as harshly as possible without killing him. And, in the Untamed, Lan Wangji just tried to stop them from ransaking the burial mounds, he supposedly didnt even injure the lan elders like in the novel and Doughua. I have also wondered at the power the Lan elders appear to have in the Sect compared to the other Sects. It might be because we don’t get as in depth look at how the other Sects run, but none of the other Sects seem to be controlled by the elders instead of the Sect Leader. Now I realize that this story more often uses the novel version, and I don’t have as much knowledge about everything that happened in that version. But I also feel like, even in this kind of society, that Lan Qiren put much more importance on the honor and pride of the Sect than Lan Wangji’s well being. On top of that, Lan Qiren is supposed to BE one of those Elders, doesn’t that mean he did have some choice in the matter? Let alone at least speaking out against it? If you add in all the other things that has been implied or stated about the Lan Sect, then it appears to me that Lan Qiren really doesn’t care… at least not compared to everything else.

        Like

      3. There’s also the minor point that in the novel version, The Lan Elders (TM) don’t actually seem to exist. Lan Qiren is an elder – lowercase – and temporary leader (implied, I don’t think it’s actually stated) because his brother is in seclusion, making him the only person of appropriate age and bloodline to take over. Once Lan Xichen’s father is dead, though, Lan Xichen is the sect leader. When Lan Wangji fights the group Lan Xichen leads to drag him home, it’s a group of “senior disciples” according to the ExR translation.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I will also fully admit to loving fanfics that paint him in a much better light, some of my favorites are when he sees Wei Wuxian’s brilliance and that is is being wasted, and acts like a doting loving uncle who wants him to excel and shine, even if it outshines the Lan Sect.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. https://archiveofourown.org/works/31746001 it’s called “I really want to know(who you are)” by Stratisphyre and it is part of a modern AU series. The second one in the series, “but his smile never dimmed” is strictly about Wei Wuxian’s and Lan Qiren’s relationship. It is my tied for my favorite Lan Qiren fics with Stunted Starving Juvenility, honestly. There is another good one I read recently and I cant find it right now, I will let you know if I do.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, reading it right now. Just so you know, it’s 3.30 am over here, I have to work tomorrow and cant stop reading. So my thanks is, ehm, a bit ambivalent.

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  6. Off topic: When I am at AO3 and search on “Vathara” I do not get The Long Road showing up. Is this because of an idiosyncrasy of AO3 (and if it’s a known idiosyncrasy, someone please educate me?!?) or is it … something else?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Idiosyncrasy, and by ignorance of that, user error.

      When you search on a user name at AO3, the results are not necessarily sorted in a consistent way.

      Searching for Vathara gives almost 200 results, I want to say 179. Which are not necessarily sorted the same way each time. So ‘A Long Road’ is most definitely not going to always be at the top.

      Click the author name in the search result to go to the author page, then maybe navigate from there to their works.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Second Satoyama’s bit. Search on Vathara, then click directly on the author’s name, and you get to the Dashboard, and from there you can see fics either by fandom (top listing) or most recently published (below that). You also get to see public Bookmarks of fics.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. >> none of the other Sects seem to be controlled by the elders instead of the Sect Leader.

    That might be because the Lan sect leader has been in seclusion for the better part of two decades. Notably, he never appears directly onscreen and in fact dies in the Wen assault.

    That being said, I do have my arguments for and agains the Lan, but I will say that at no point that I recall do either Lan Qiren or Lan Xichen ever show remorse for that. Not that it was necessary, as we have all agreed Lan Wangji committed treason and really did need to be punished in accordance to the laws of his sect/society, but that the consequences were so painful. It’s not enough to punish someone, you have to then assure them you still care and want them around. You need to make sure they know that even though the action was bad, they are not.

    But I will try and drop off the side of my soapbox here and return to topic. Lan Wangji, notably, also never expresses regret for his actions or expresses that he feels he shouldn’t have been punished, which makes it that much more powerful. He knew going in that his life was forfeit for defending Wei Wuxian and he did it anyway.

    …Gosh darn it, I don’t want the plot bunny of what Endgame Yiling Laozu would have done if he’d found out Lan Wangji was dead.

    Liked by 1 person

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