A Long Road Chapter 13 Ficbit – Healthy Boundaries

Talia blinked, forcing wide-eyed alarm back to deliberate calm. “And what do you mean, Lan Wangji doesn’t respect him? They’re lifebonded!”

“I’d wondered.” It explained quite a bit, including the reckless charge to the rescue across half the world.

…Then again, given he’d rescued the Wens in the first place, maybe that was just Wei Wuxian.

Crathach took a long sip of his own cider, then fixed Talia with a stern eye. For all she was an experienced Herald and a mother… well, Heralds sometimes had blind spots. Witness how many times he’d had to threaten Alberich with sharp objects so the Weaponsmaster would rest enough to heal up properly. “How old were you when you lifebonded to Dirk on first sight?”

“That’s different! Lan Wangji is-”

“An extremely sheltered sect heir, for all he’s a blooded warrior,” Crathach interrupted. Deliberately. “One who still believes Wei Wuxian’s magic is corrupting him – even as he admits that Wei Wuxian has become calmer, less twitchy, and healthier than he was during their war. Tradition says resentful energy corrupts, after all. And the Lan are very traditional.” Crathach paused. “Given our necromancer – no, our ghost-path cultivator – seems to have invented how to use resentful energy without killing himself, just as Heralds had to invent how to train Firestarters not to kill themselves and everyone around them… that is a dangerous lack of respect.”

Talia hesitated. Almost spoke – then blew out a tired breath. “You’re right. I didn’t… Lan Wangji is a good man.”

“Of course he is,” Crathach agreed. “But you had to grow into yourself before you could meet Dirk on common ground. Lan Wangji needs time.” He paused. “And, like some of our Trainees’ families, possibly an attitude adjustment. With a heavy blunt object.”

“Because unexpected Gifts upset everybody’s grand plans. Ooooh.” Talia rested the back of one hand against her forehead, as if to chill her way to clearer thought. “My family loves me, they hate my Gift. How many times have I heard that? Oh, that makes sense. Wei Wuxian doesn’t think Lan Wangji wants him dead. He thinks Lan Wangji wants his magic gone. And….” She swallowed.

“And that would likely kill him,” Crathach finished. “Wei Wuxian is staying at arm’s length from his own lifebonded? That strikes me as a sane, healthy, and reasonable reaction.”

63 thoughts on “A Long Road Chapter 13 Ficbit – Healthy Boundaries

  1. It explained quite a bit, including the reckless charge to the rescue across half the world.

    …Then again, given he’d rescued the Wens in the first place, maybe that was just Wei Wuxian.

    I appreciate this point. 😀

    For all she was an experienced Herald and a mother… well, Heralds sometimes had blind spots. Witness how many times he’d had to threaten Alberich with sharp objects so the Weaponsmaster would rest enough to heal up properly.

    I also appreciate this point, including the additional example regarding Alberich.

    And… yeahhh… sometimes the stabilizing partner needs to take some precautions to stay stable.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. LWJ of this time definitely needs some of his preconceptions challenged. His whole perfect Jade of Lan persona makes it really easy to hide he’s not as mature as he looks.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Lan Wangji probably assumes he’s the stabilising partner.

    Thank you for calling out the utter lack of respect he’s consistently shown toward Wei Wuxian, right up until he died in canon.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. @corssovercreativechaos
        Ah…Must have missed that part.
        Then again, I shelved that web translation after that climatic temple fight. Talk about coming out of the left field with no previous hint, I was disappointed because I really liked the world building.

        Liked by 3 people

    1. Even if it fails to clarify, it’ll still be funny as hell! ::Heralds are still finding Jianghu graffiti in places only reachable by sword months later::

      Liked by 5 people

      1. As someone who has had chickens, and hopes to do so in the future, I pity the poor fool who has to go round them up. Especially if they decide to roost in the trees. Apparently, not a lot of people know they can do that but yes, chickens will tree themselves to if they can.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. There’s also the fact that, as far as I’m aware, LWJ hasn’t had a good, healthy relationship modeled for him. People tend to learn how relationships work from the relationships around them, especially the ones in their own family. Since we don’t see any good relationships in canon (except LWJ with his brother, maybe), the best model he has for this is the Wall of Disciplines.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. It is possible that the tradition has a lot of pattern recognition behind it.

    If the last 10,000 ghost path practitioners all had some success, then went insane, then a new one saying “I totally got it this time” wouldn’t be too convincing.
    Especially if there is a significant delay before problems develop.

    “That last guy was doing great for 10 years, then he wiped out 3 sects and 50 towns for no reason.”

    They don’t actually have any way to check any of his claims, so it comes down to how much they’re willing to risk on trusting his claims.
    And because of the politics, that comes out to “not much.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. To make it even worse, WWX never actually explains anything about *how* he succeeds, for obvious reasons.

      So he can’t really convince anyone by technical explanations, he has to make vague, ominous pronouncements.

      “I mastered this for… reasons. Nobody should copy me.”

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Because How Dare He….

        “You’re not a REAL cultivator, so we need to see how you do it, so we can decide if you’re a real cultivator or not. Even though showing us how you do it would make it so you’re not a real cultivator….”

        Liked by 3 people

    2. In the novel, that is not the case because WWX is very much the grandmaster of his cultivation path; he’s the first one to ever do it. It is pure prejudice and stubborn refusal to accept anything but the orthodox that has people judging and assuming things about his cultivation.

      But in the live action, where demonic/ghost path cultivation already exists and has a long history of being used by bad people for bad reasons, there is more of a legitimate reason for people to assume the worst. Which sucks because it dilutes the themes of the novel, makes WWX look arrogant for assuming he’d be different and never actually explaining why, and even the sects themselves come off worse for it because if they KNOW it always turns out badly they never should have happily made use of his abilities during the war.

      Since Vathara is using a mix of novel and live action here, it is kinda hard to say definitively which side is the case here, though the lack of Evil Rocks (aka Yon Iron) does lean more towards novel canon where WWX was the first to do anything purely modao/guidao.

      (The Nie Sect’s cultivation, for the record, isn’t actually modao/guidao. It’s a sword path cultivation that also uses resentment of animal spirits; a mixed style between two very different types of energy. And generally speaking, in xianxia mixing styles/energies is a Bad Idea because it leads to instability and qi deviations. Which is exactly what the Nie suffer from.)

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I’m not familiar with either, what I “got” was that the Angry Ghost radiation has a habit of making people go nuts, if they’re trying to use it or not– and a lot of folks do stuff that involves jumping into the High Radiation Zone because SURELY they are good, pure and strong enough to handle it.

        Meanwhile, WWX is basically taking iodine tablets and practicing good contamination behavior.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. This. And one key factor is that he doesn’t hold onto much resentment himself – focuses on the good things, tries to put bad things in the past.

        Also, the vast majority of the time he doesn’t force resentful creatures to do things. He negotiates something mutually beneficial to both sides. So it’s more like redirecting your opponent with a judo throw than a direct impact with a closed fist. Less damage to you!

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Wen Ruohan was definitely doing demonic cultivation. As a cultivator he was very powerful, very knowledgable and very old and experienced in “orthodox” cultivation and he still went insane. This is with a large and rich and powerful sect to support him. WWX is practically a child and he claims that he can survive the same magic that forced the cultivators to destroy Wen Ruohan . There are reasons that most people are wary.
    Lan Qiren’s notorious fit might have been more related to “No you can’t play with mercury! Its too dangerous” as opposed to “No Mercury is not an interesting element that can do wonderful things”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Wen Ruohan was doing demonic cultivation in the live action. He wasn’t in the novel, he was just a regular cultivator, albeit very powerful and with overpowering military force compared to the other sects.

      IIRC Vathara mainly leans novelverse, but for this point in particular is doing a combination of the two, where Wen Ruohan *was* doing creepy dark possibly-blood-magic and not righteous cultivation, but it’s not the same thing as what WWX is doing. WWX remains the creator of a new cultivation path that nobody has ever seen before, same as in the novel. Even if it’s not 100% clear how much the sects grasp the distinction.

      Liked by 5 people

  7. Poor LWJ. We’re *still* not done shattering his worldview. I mean, it’ll be good for him in the end, but the transition period is going to be *painful*.

    I would object, mildly, to Cratchach’s calling it “disrespect” — if I see someone playing with high-voltage wires without PPE, I’m going to “disrespect” the *hell* out of them (by yanking the nearest breaker, *fast*!), I don’t care *how* skilled and experienced they are! I mean, I *see* where Crathach is coming from, but LWJ, given the limits of what he knows/was taught, has decent reasons to be afraid that WWJ is playing with fire. And that triggers the Protect Lifebonded reflex he isn’t even aware of.

    Of course, if the two of them would just COMMUNICATE DAMMIT, this is fixable. But LWJ is only *now* starting to escape being the Trope Example for Poor Communication Kills, and WWJ has pretty good reasons for being secretive.

    Metaphorically, LWJ and WWJ are both lumps of highly fissile materials, and need some moderating materials– er, people, to keep their mutual reaction from going supercritical.

    I don wonder about one thing, though. 1-2 snips back, WWX and WN seemed convinced that LWJ was going to blow the secret of WWX’s (lack of) Golden Core to the entire world. Is that reasonable? I mean, LWJ is very dutiful, but barring his sect *needing* to know it, he doesn’t strike me as the type of person who would reveal something so personal — he respects privacy.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Wei Wuxian and Wen Ning may be a bit paranoid about that. No, Lan Wangji wouldn’t blow it – not deliberately, anyway. This is going to cause some agonizing moments because he really does want Wei Wuxian to see a Healer and get checked out, on general principles.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. ….Wei Wuxian ran off with the best healer of their generation, and possibly one or two before them. How many Healers can match her? Then again, new perspectives to look through.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. a) Does LWJ know that Wen Qing is a good healer?
        b) Does LWJ know that Wen Qing was among the Wen remnants that WWX went off with?

        Young, people are fiddling with his information sources, and a lot of serious mental shocks.

        Liked by 3 people

      1. On LWJ’s side, seeing WWX as someone who just really likes breaking rules is very easily supported, especially with the protective coloring WWX has by the time they meet.

        There’s words for folks who want their own judgements to be respected, but who will not respect anything that is valued, taught or judged by others. None of them are synonyms for “guy whose judgement you should totally trust.”

        Liked by 3 people

      2. (IRL backstory, my one eyed crazy uncle was DEFINITELY in the “never saw something that somebody cared about where he didn’t want to break the rules.” He would’ve been really horrific if he’d been allowed to get away with demanding that HIS views were sacrosanct, especially if folks kept indulging his contrariness. Instead, he was merely obnoxious and folks were allowed to hit back, most of the time.)

        Liked by 3 people

    2. There’s also always the possibility of LWJ either being asked directly by his brother or uncle (or any of the Lan elders really) why he is no longer adamant about WWX returning to the sword path and being forced to give an answer to people he owes loyalty/filial piety to, or else LWJ trying to research some sort of treatment for WWX and getting noticed by people who can then put the clues together.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. If WWX was recognized as a member/leader of a non-Jiang sect, than possibly.

        But he can’t just declare today that he is the leader of a new sect, he has no disciples! Wen Qing is a healer, Wen Ning is a monster (as far as the sects are concerned), and the rest of the Wen Remnants are non cultivators. And if he does claim them as his disciples anyway (whether or not he actually teaches them modao/guidao, and all signs point to him not actually wanting to teach anyone else his cultivation)……then he just gives truth to the rumors he’s taking the remaining Wen to build an army.

        Bad idea.

        And him being a singular demonic cultivator, that everyone believed was reliant on an external tool was part of what made him “scary, but not necessarily an active threat.” If he starts actively training disciples? Then no matter what he claims, he is suddenly a MASSIVE threat the sects will want dead yesterday.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. If the Heralds are a sect, then Valdemar’s Bards or Healers could be a sect. But yeah, finding religion and becoming a priest usually means leaving the cultivation world somewhat. Buddhist monks, not so much, but priests are busy in one place.

        Liked by 2 people

    3. I imagine a lot of this is because of Gifts instead of Magic/Cultivation.

      Crathach is coming from “Denying your gifts just means when you do use them(because they’re a part of you and you will reach for them in stressful situations unless you’ve trained not to) you’re going to cause a fair amount of both internal and external damage! Whereas you actually have to train to use Magic in stressful situations and train and train.

      And that’s one reason that “this is a gift” changes the calculation from “he can just stop” to “he will use it, it’s our responsibility to teach him how to use it responsibly.” There’s a lot of reasons Firestarting keeps coming up and yeah… (Poor Laven. So, so much that just went the wrong way for him).

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Not, necessarily on the magic. One of the early conflicts of the Owl trilogy is they have a young boy who’s parents disappeared on a trapping trip in the Pelagirs who is apprenticed to the town’s mage because he does have magic. They wanted no part in untrained magic going Carrie, thank you very much. Also, I believe there are a few stories among Vanyel’s trilogy where untrained magic lashed out. Gifts and magic both need to be trained or bad things happen.

        But Valdemar has been without magic for so long, that may be their thought process. Which is good! They do need to realize that magic and Gifts have similar training requirements. As in, do it or Consequences Happen.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I think it was in the Elspeth storyline that we got a hint that most mage gift had been instead trained as farsight, with a side of “you see those weird glowy lines? they’re just a visual effect so ignore them”. which got around mages touching the power lines or nodes and blowing themselves up… and I think it was implied that Elspeth and Darkwind (et al) would be finding all the ‘farsight’ people who were actually mage gift people, and training them super fast on account of Ancar-on-the-border. so they authorially sidestepped the ‘untrained mage = bad’ thing by act of because-Lackey-said-so.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Of course, part of the problem is all the mages we get up close with in the series are different time periods(Mage Wars/Vanyel/Kethry’s & Elspeth’s age/After Mage Storms)

        Mage Wars: No untrained Mages, one untrained Empath whose powers nearly killed her(Winterhart)
        Vanyel: Vanyel(right after he had been Chosen and had all of his power channels blew open, and it’s hard to tell what was Magic versus Magic powered Talent) and one story about accidently killing someone, told by someone who was Adept class, with not much details.
        Kethry: There are several times where her powers rely on her emotional state/ability to think clearly(once as a Master Mage, when she’s kidnapped by her “husband” is one of the main ones I’m thinking of.), and Elspeth already has full Herald training by the time she is training as a Mage. It’s implied that an untrained Mage could kill themselves by power drain, and cause a small amount of harm to others.
        Admittedly, Kethry also uses a lot more spells then anyone else we see(which makes sense, but still). Almost everyone else uses their power more like a sorcerer.
        After Mage Storms: We really don’t get much on how much Darren is actually a risk versus “Town Mage noted he had a gift, had offered to train it, and took him as an apprentice when his parents died.” It doesn’t help that Darren himself is pretty much the definition of a reluctant student. (I really didn’t like the Owl series, but I acknowledge it.)

        Then we have stuff on the gifted side of Laven Firestorm, whose first act was burning a building and killing a bully, and last uncontrolled act basically destroyed an army and scorched the earth to the point centuries later there’s still a scar(which not even volcanoes normally do) and the rather terrifying possibilities when Talia lost control of her gift.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Another aspect of this, is the Fact that Lan Wangji doesn’t understand or doesn’t know about the Gift part of this equation, so he wouldn’t know that the “He can just stop” wouldn’t work.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. It probably would kill him…by at least one of two mechanisms. And I can’t help but think that WWX and WQ are coming to the same conclusion while looks at different causes.

    It’s possible draining his magic would kill him outright, but it’s also possible that trying to would wake the Burial Mounds. I can’t imagine the resulting tug-of-war would end well for WWX OR whoever was making the attempt.

    WWX tends to be willing to risk his own life. But risk LWJ’s life, and maybe anyone else hanging around? Yeah… not so much.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. See now, I guess I am have a harder time understanding people in general and stuff like this than I thought. Yes, I realize Lan Wangji is kinda a teenagerish age, and younger than that mentally, but I didn’t think his actions were a lack of respect.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Crap, didn’t mean to press the send button! Well, to continue from earlier comment, I didn’t think Lan Wangji had a lack of respect for Wei Wuxian. I always thought he was actually more respectful of Wei Wuxian than most cultivators, especially when compared to other people in the Lan Sect. Granted, Zewu-jun treats Wei Wuxian with much more respect, but that’s kinda different. I actually thought it was more ego, because despite what people think, Lan Wangji absolutely has an Ego (I guess it would be better discribed as confidence in himself), combined with not having any good examples aside from his brother of being respectful of other people. And I have strange knee jerk reactions to when people say someone is being disrespectful, because I have always felt like a lack of respect or being disrespectful is a very deliberate choice. At least it always had been for me. I also have a weird defensive reaction when someone tells me something I am doing means I don’t respect someone. So I am probably not the best judge of this kind of situation… 😕 but I honestly don’t agree with Crathach’s take on this situation. It also may come from my knowledge of the characters still being mostly rooted in The Untamed and Doughua than the novel, so there is that…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. :sympathy:
      That kind of a reaction generally means that other folks have taken any perceived slight as deliberate malice– which is in itself a form of disrespect mixed with egotism, since honestly most folks simply don’t *care* enough to form themselves around trying to slight others.

      There’s a lot of layers of meaning involved, kind of like the word love; I think what folks are trying to point to is insufficient recognition of other folks’ abilities to make their own choices– a sort of “I know best, no need to even *ask* what you think” type thing.

      For extra complications/fun? That can be the correct choice, the confidence can be justified. It’s usually very hard to figure out from outside, because IRL we don’t have any mind reading powers. 😀

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Ok, reread this ficbit again and I think the problem is COMMUNICATION. Again. Oh boy. Because I feel like Crathach is basing his conclusions too much off of what Wei Wuxian said, and not Lan Wangji’s actual thoughts, feelings and such, mainly because no one, not even Kellen to a certian degree, know all of what Lan Zhan is thinking or feeling. Carthach has even mentioned that before. And I do have to remind myself that this is pre-death of Wei Wuxian, which was a part of what helped Lan Wangji change, but I also think he was making good personal progress before this point, especially if this is after they woke up Wen Ning. So communication and assuming is definitely the problem, once again. Sigh. Not that Wei Wuxian’s conclusions and percautions are wrong either, but I feel like he has a blind spot when it comes to Lan Wangji. Also, I am sorry for the long comment, Lan Wangji is my favorite Msdz character (obviously), and I get defensive for some reason. I do know he is not perfect, not even close. 😅 and I really feel like he was abused and molded by the Lan Sect in general, and that some of his actions and people’s assumptions about him are a direct result of that.

    Liked by 1 person

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