A Long Road Chapter 14 Ficbit – Jurisdictional Disputes

Checking around the salle before his first afternoon class arrived, brushing a spot off one of the mirrors, Alberich deliberately arched a brow so it would carry to the Herald-Captain along with Mindspeech. :A few, I have. Something there is of import that affects my class?:

:You could say that, in a way. But it’s more about Palace security.: A silent huff. :More accurately, about straightening out a mess in it. And not whatever hole Wei Wuxian used to get through. Though I have a few suspicions about that, given…. Well. We’ll deal with Companion herd politics later. For now – who’s in charge of Palace security? Officially?:

“Companion politics” was never a comforting thought. That Kerowyn was finally asking – was a relief. :Officially, the Palace a place of rest for Heralds is, and the Guard’s duty to keep secure,: Alberich stated. :Your burden to bear, it should not have been-:

:Except most other Heralds have no idea what to look for when it comes to magical threats, you’re run off your feet between thwacking students and keeping tabs on spies in Haven, and I can’t even explain magic to most other people without running into the Stammer From The Hells,: Kerowyn finished in disgust. :Blessed Agnira, the one thing that convinces me that cultivators aren’t standard mages is we can all talk about them.:

Interesting. And something Alberich should have noticed before. Only he’d never had the difficulty the Herald-Captain did in simply mentioning magic. When he tried to speak of priestly powers and true magic, the words came; only his listeners seemed to go blank, or mutter about Karsite superstitions. :Kantor?:

:You’re right,: his old friend observed, startled. :Maybe it’s because they mix Mind-Gifts and magic together, as you know Karsite priests do – and whatever blocks talking about magic can’t distinguish cultivation from Mind-Gifts?:

:Whatever?: Alberich pounced, relaying that answer to Kerowyn. :A creation, you think this block, and not an individual responsible?:

:I’ve been in the rotation keeping eyes on the Nie whenever they instruct their Blue seedlings outside,: Kantor agreed. :The way the magic-prohibition acts sounds more like one of their arrays than anything else. Or maybe a set spell – though if it is, who’s devoted centuries of mages’ lives to keep that running over all of Valdemar? It doesn’t make sense.:


50 thoughts on “A Long Road Chapter 14 Ficbit – Jurisdictional Disputes

  1. :unaccountably gooy at Kantor adopting the ‘seedling’ terminology:
    Bleepin’ not-a-pony being almost as charming as his Chosen.

    (Care if others are charmed, I do not. Blunt *and* sneaky is adorable.)

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, we talk about roots, scions, offspring, young sprouts, branches of family trees, etc., and there are similar terms in Greek and Latin. It is not much of a reach, so it is the kind of thing that is easily adopted as slang.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m not sure what would be more aggravating—being unable to speak clearly enough to explain an important topic you know a lot about, or having your perfectly clear and well-informed explanation be dismissed as barbaric superstition.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Rolan is sir not talking about what’s causing the whole ‘thou shalt not think or speak about magic’ thing I see.

    (For y’all fuzzy on the Valdemar novels) That’s not the watch for mages spell btw, that’s the companion’s bosses sticking their noses in iirc. A heavy handed solution for a problem they noticed. Was it the best idea? Who knows, gods did it anyway. It’s /linked/ to the watch for mages working tho.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And they did it with the best of intentions! (We know where that leads…) Valdemar was not happy about not having any Herald-Mages, and even when they had them had started to rate them as better than regular Heralds with Mind Gifts. So the Companions tried to fix it.

      Yeah, I do imagine more than one deity trying to resist strangling something over that. And at least in this AU, someone has taken an opportunity to spike it hard.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. As someone who has not read the Valdemar books what is the reason people can’t speak about magic? Is the it the gods interfering?

      Isn’t that really destructive for the gods apparent desire to keep Valdemar free and somewhat safe, if they can’t even speak of potential enemies?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Short answer, yes. Tooootally the gods doing it. There were never very many mages in Valdemar, and most of them were herald-mages. And during the era of the last herald-mages, there was a worrying trend of people thinking that only herald-mages could solve problems, that they were better than regular heralds when that isn’t true (and in some cases a mage is the last thing you want). No one really knew what to do about this besides throw bards at the problem, but that all became moot when every single herald-mage was killed, assassinated, in a very short amount of time (Sayvil being one of them btw), leaving Vanyel Ashkevron (our probably Wei Wuxian ancestor) the literal last Herald-Mage.

        He found out what happened, went and faced the mage thrall/construct army a VERY bad mage had amassed in the north, and he and his companion faced them down while his lifebonded, a Bard named Stefan, went as fast as he could to warn Valdemar (There is a whole song, it’s on youtube. Anyone have a link, I half way out the door typing this and can’t grab it myself!). He died and Yfandes died in their Final Strike but fried the Bad Mage too. They’re still up there tho, and the reason why The Forest of Sorrows quite literally kills anything bad that enters it, but a toddler could wander in and then come out safe the other side.

        Since there were no herald-mages after him, the Companions made a choice to work on kinda phasing magic out of the general belief, and upper management (gods) seem to have decided to make that stick by linking it to Vanyels half complete Watch for Mages working. As of now it’s been going on for longer than anyone really meant it to, supposedly, and now it’s actively working against the good of the nation, so it’s gotta come down.

        Elspeth is gonna show back up in about a year (Can’t rush training, also she found Trouble. So much Trouble!) and do that.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. /You would think. You would really bleepin’ think so./
        Nonsense, the gods obviously know exactly what they’re doing here. Granted the plan might result in some minor little issues for the mortals; but it’s all for the Greater Good. Really they should be honored to be part of this grand design.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Another reason for the cultivators to be wary about the divine protection… even if Valdemar’s gods and guardian spirits are benevolent, that doesn’t always mean they’re smart.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Hah, basically. Stepping outside the story, The kind of wonky magic stuff and quick cementing over and around plot holes is because Mercedes Lackey originally wanted NO /magic/ magic in her books, only the mind magic type abilities, but her publisher kept INSISTING that there HAD to be ‘real’ magic. So in her first series (Arrows of the Queen) she had 13 year old Talia read a somewhat fantastical account of Vanyel Ashkevron that ended with something about how he was the last herald mage and that there WAS no more magic. (it was supposedly very, “THERE! I did what you wanted!” >:P)

        This kiiiind of bit her back when she decided she had THOUGHTS about Vanyel and wanted to tell his story, and had to figure out why there wouldn’t be magic in Valdemar, when there was magic elsewhere (bc she wrote the Vows and Honor series about Kero’s grandmother Kethry and her queer platonic life partner Tarma before Last Herald-Mage). So here comes convoluted reasoning! Vrondi, and Vanyel dying before he could refine and direct his watch-for-mages working! And then the gods stepping in to make magic be FORGOTTEN in Valdemar. Truth be told, it did make for an interesting story, and did manage to fill in the plot hole fairly well. Way better than some authors might’ve managed. It made a whole lot of interesting stuff have to happen. But from within the books? Yeah, NOT fun and there were probably a lot of bad drawbacks. We see a few, but there were undoubtedly more.

        Liked by 4 people

      5. I actually could not FOR THE LIFE OF ME remember that. Aphasia hit hard and the word just would not come even tho I knew it was there (brain glitched and kept telling me swordsworn instead and feeding me the lyrics to Oathbound, which don’t actually SAY oath-sisters, they just describe the circumstances and feelings involved –__–;;;;)

        So I just went with the closest modern term I could remember and it seems to have upset people. IDK, I tried.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Um… queer is not really what’s going on there.

        Tarma started out very very heterosexual, and only became asexual through PTSD and a bunch of divine magic. She’s always been extremely in favor of Kethry being heterosexual, and having lots and lots of kids for the Clan. They are best friends, oathsisters, and business partners.

        And all of that was on purpose, because frankly there was a whole fannish industry of “lesbian woman warriors” already. (And one of the biggest woman warrior writers was a biological man identifying as a woman, which explained a lot about some of the more dubious menstruation culture scenes in some of his fantasy/sf books, although honestly a lot of Seventies and Eighties feminist women had equally weird scenes that were explained by politics, nonstandard religions, or personal medical issues. Or in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s case, a really bad backstory to which she added her own criminal abuse of her own kids and fosterlings.)

        Oy, I feel so old.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Yeah, I know all of that, but as an ace person, ace is ace in my view. People that want to know WHY a person is ace so they can decide if it fits /their/ definition are, well, not very nice in my experience. And more concerned with excluding people than including. Why does it matter if Tarma is ace because of trauma and then becoming Kalenedral?

        Also, I struggle with what to call a bond that is literally deeper than any kind of friendship or marriage as most define them. They spent their lives together, and yes Kethry got married, and did love her husband, but she clearly loved Tarma more, if not sexually AT ALL. They and Jadrek (Kethry’s husband, a good man and interesting character) raised children together. Mercedes Lackey said they’re still together in the heavens even. *hands*

        So, what do you call that? Queer platonic is all I’ve got in my vocabulary that even slightly fits without resorting to paragraphs and pulling up book excerpts.

        (I was born the year Arrows came out, so I do admit to missing a lot of the whole lesbian warrior women writing as it was happening, so I don’t know enough of THAT to comment on how different or similar Tarma and Kethry are to the trope)

        Liked by 3 people

      8. I was deliberately not using any form of soulmate, because withing the story, they’re not. There are canon soulmates, so that word doesn’t work.

        And sisters…. I’ve never actually met sisters that were as close as Tarma and Kethry. The word doesn’t seem enough when I watched my mother’s sisters sue her over my grandmother’s estate all because my mother demanded my grandmothers wishes be upheld and refused to let them deviate (and get more money for themselves). You would not believe the stuff that went down. So sisters has never felt like a deep bond to me, just one that exists based on blood that is ultimately kind of meaningless. ‘Sister’ means a photo of my biodad holding a baby included with a letter saying he wasn’t going to send me birthday or holiday gifts anymore, because I was so far away, and he had a new daughter anyway. So I didn’t use sisters. (This is my experience, I do understand others have a different relationship with the word.)

        What exactly is wrong with queer platonic????? It’s a good term, for a deeper relationship than just friends.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. You asked for a term.

        I gave you not one, but two, which are long standing and widely understood without needing further explanation.

        The problem with ‘queer platonic’ is that there are several different common use definitions that would cover it, none of which would be useful to convey understanding to someone wasn’t already familiar with the pair and the situation.

        Naturally you would not see sisters in day to day life that are as obviously close as the characters where you both able to hear their thoughts and follow them around without intruding on how they interact. That’s part of the appeal of fiction, after all.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. I like the idea of thinking of their relationship (Tarma and Kethry’s) in terms of a QPR. Perhaps the rite of oathsister they did could be analagous to a marriage, for beings who are non-sexual with one another.

        At the time the book was written, they wouldn’t have used those words, and the characters wouldn’t have either. But we, now, can use those sorts of words to relate to characters and stories.

        I’m ace/aro, and when I was discovering the words to describe myself, re-reading the Oathsisters books was comforting. Even if Tarma’s asexuality was a ‘gift’ of the goddess to help her deal with overwhelming trauma, and MY asexuality just kinda ~is~… the life she lived afterward, finding happiness and peace and raising kids and being loved, was very important to see brought into the world, even as a concept.

        I think ‘ace’ is like clothes. Well, any label is. You buy clothes to fit the body you have now, not the body you’ll have after you diet and loose 20 pounds. And if you’ve lost weight due to surgery or illness, or through a new exercise regimine, or gained due to the same, doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how you wind up identifying with ace and asexual, only that you do now.

        Looking backwards in time and applying modern labels and understanding to old art can be tricky. Death of the author, or do we let it stand? Do we enjoy MZB’s work, worldbuilding, and creation, and the effect she had on fiction in her time, without also looking at the crimes she and her husband committed? And can we examine MLackey, and see that while she worked with MZB in the beginning of her career, she later disconnected from her and avoided intermingling with that bastion of feminist(flavored) fiction? And does the creation of Tarma have anything to tell us about that whole mess? Does it effect the enjoyment we get from the books?

        I think those are all personal questions to answer, left to the reader to grapple with. But it’s important to ask those questions, and to be at least a little aware of the context in which books were written and characters created.

        Which is all a very long way to say: I love seeing from a modern point of view that what Tarma and Kethry have is a QPR. Queer in the modern sense because it’s not ‘standard’. Platonic because there’s nothing we’d see as sexual or even romantic going on! and Relationship because they’re clearly in a relationship with one another that is important to both of them. They wouldn’t have used those words. But I can. And I will, as the kids say these days, rub my grubby ace hands all over this character and relationship and book, nyah.

        If you don’t see them as ace, that’s cool too. You don’t have to. You bring to the text the whole of yourself, and the interaction is what’s good and important there. Just like I bring my life to the text, and then weep, because here is a person who had a dang good life, even though they were ‘broken’, even though they were asexual, even though all of society keeps on insisting that we’re wrong for being the way we are.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. I still don’t get why my use of the term upset several people,

        Probably because “queer” has too many modern socio-political implications that don’t apply to the in-book universe.

        For IRL normies, “queer” does not mean merely “non-standard”.
        It means “deliberately and actively sexually perverse”.

        Even when it’s being used to talk about persons who are uninterested in erotic relations of any configuration.

        Liked by 1 person

      12. “Queer” is primarily a political term, and secondly a sexual politics term. It’s basically meaningless for almost all fantasy or science fiction worlds, because their worlds are not ours. (Urban fantasy, OTOH, would deal comfortably with it.) I understand that the academic world spends a vast amount of time on this at present, much like it was all “I image this” a few years ago, and “it’s all relative and there’s no truth, and Gramsci stuff” a few years before that. Honestly, since I’m not in academia, I don’t have any need to keep up with specialized jargon like that, and I’m going to continue to use words in the normal way they are used.

        Obviously it is politically advantageous, in today’s world, to cram all sorts of things onto the fashionable train, which is why Gay/Lesbian became Gay/Lesbian and allies, and then became LGB, and then LGBT, and now is a whole string of alphabet letters. If people choose to ride that train with their own sexual lives and orientations, it’s their business. But it’s not the lens to use for every piece of art in the entire world, or at least not instantly convincing to everyone not on the train. A tad of explanation may be needed.

        “Platonic” specifically means “I am in love with this person in a sexual and spiritual way, but I am not doing anything about it in a sexual way, or doing only the mildest things like giving tasteful flowers on birthdays.” It is not the word you use for family members, or business partners, or friends who are just friends.

        It is the word you use for things like ancient Athenian men giving gifts and kisses to boys to whom they are sexually attracted, but with whom they are not actually having sex, or for Socrates’ students finding him sexually attractive because he was a great teacher but him not taking them up on it. It’s also the word for “I like this heroic guy but he’s married, and I’d never do anything to break that up, and anyway it’s really hero worship on my part.”

        The general idea is that Platonic relationships are proper when it’s natural to be attracted, but you or the other person is too smart to do anything about it — especially when you really love studying and learning, not your professor, or the heroic acts and your own aspirations, and not really the hero. (Plato specifically talked about it being normal for boys to love and be attracted to one’s teacher, when really one desired knowledge and didn’t understand the intense need being stirred up, except through the lens of sex. And that most boys grew out of it.)

        So given two women who are friends, who are not attracted to each other, who are equals of similar age, and who would each be interested in eighty other things and people before they’d be sexually interested in each other, it’s such a weird way to put it that it’s difficult to understand. Like if I announced that a non-sentient, inanimate T rex skeleton was my piano teacher.

        Also, I’m not having sex with Hitler, but I don’t have a Platonic relationship with him. (Nor he with me.)

        There are an infinite number of persons with whom I am not having sex, and to describe all of that vast landscape as “platonic relationships” would just be silly. Platonic is a very useful term, covering territory not covered by words like “unrequited”, but it’s not the whole Venn diagram outside “having sex with.”

        Liked by 1 person

      13. To be fair, Athens was a place where a rich free citizen of leisure — a man — could easily have sex with his wife, his slaves, female prostitutes of various prices, and the neighbor boys. So if you were a man in a position of power, esteem, or wealth, and you spent a lot of time with boys but didn’t have sex with them, that meant you had a pure affection for them. Sort of.

        There’s a bunch of stuff in Greek about “eros” being a relatively one-sided word, with the person with initiative being the lover (“erastes”), and the other person (“eromenos,” beloved) just receiving love or rejecting it. And yes, in Plato’s Athens, the person with initiative was the adult man, and the supposedly beloved person was the boy. And by love, they meant sex happening, which of course we see as abusive but they would have insisted was educational.

        But frankly, in Athens, friendship (“philia”) often was about sexual relationships between boys and older boys or men. It was supposed to be a more reciprocal relationship than eros, but that’s about it. (Plato’s dialogue on friendship is called Lysis, and hooboy, it is a trip.)

        So there are a lot of definitions of “platonic love,” many of them heavily influenced by Italian Renaissance humanists who wanted to convince the pretty girl next door that she should hang out with them and that nothing bad would happen. So the most formal definition is something like “pure affection without sensuality, something totally spiritual and of the mind,” but that’s not the connotation in most literary use.

        Thackeray’s novel Vanity Fair includes a lot of satire of various forms of relationship that are supposedly platonic, but which really don’t have much love involved, or which are very far from non-sexual.

        And of course, if Miss Marple hears somebody say that they have platonic love, she’s pretty sure that they’re actually having sex, or that somebody just enjoys keeping somebody else on a leash.

        It’s a very loaded word. I guess that’s my point.

        And now I will stop being prolix, and work on the insomnia thing.


      14. Re: Plato and Socrates, here is something funny and illuminating.

        There’s a horrible pun in the Symposium dialogue, where Socrates says that the only thing he says that he knows is “ta erotika.” Which is supposed to be “loving, how to love,” but is a pun on the unrelated verb “erotan,” to ask questions.

        And obviously he did know the art of asking questions, and the Lysis dialogue supposedly shows Socrates asking questions in such a way as to make Lysis a better person, which of cours would be an act of friendship in most people’s eyes, but could possibly be eros too.

        This explains a whole lot, potentially. And possibly a lot about the suspicion of Socrates’ motives held by some Athenians, because that’s kind of a strange joke to make. Maybe Athenians didn’t want to think about the supposedly educational thing they were setting up their boys to do.

        Anyway, it also explains why “platonic love” and “platonic friendship” both assume some kind of eros, and why Diotima’s description of love (in Symposium) pretty much assumes that sex is part of it first, and that it becomes pure affection afterward.

        I’m not really into philosophy, except for Aristotle’s Poetics. But there’s apparently a lot of stuff in the Greek text of the Symposium that does not come across in translations, like foreshadowing of Socrates’ trial.

        I need to stop using this blog as an essay space, and go back to my own blog and write something coherent. But I did finally get some good sleep.

        Liked by 1 person

      15. I don’t think it’s useful to modern discourse to go back to Greek definitions of terms, when language has shifted substantially in the two thousand plus years between when Plato lived and when we live here and now.

        Here and now, we don’t use “platonic” the same way the Greeks did. From dictionary.com:




        adjective: platonic

        (of love or friendship) intimate and affectionate but not sexual.

        “their relationship is purely platonic””

        If you might be interested in catching up with the past couple decades of current thought on asexuality, aromantic relationships, queer platonic relationships, the split attraction model, and more, check out AVEN, the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network at asexuality.org There are forums with well over a million comment threads discussing the use of words to help describe asexual relationships.

        As for trying to link Hitler to asexual relationships, defining ‘queer’ as a slur when the community has been working to reclaim that slur from bigots, and other, ah, less than adroit and possibly phobic language used up-thread: I don’t feel that engaging with that level of needed education and refutation is something I want to do on a fanfic blog, so. I’ll leave it to the interested reader to go find themselves a different point of view, and instead merely point out that unconscious bias and prejudice creeps into everything, unless you work actively to root it out of yourself.

        Liked by 1 person

      16. YES, THIS.

        I’ve been reading thru the comments that were left after I got off last night and wow, I did not expect paragraphs of philosophical debate based off of a single off hand description I put in for people not familiar with Mercedes Lackeys books. Really, that was all I was trying to do.

        I, a queer ace person, like the term queerplatonic and think it is as good a term as any. I used it mainly tho, because I couldn’t remember the canon term for what Terms and Kethry were, which is Oath Sisters/ Oath Siblings.

        You can pry the term queer from my cold dead hands. I like it. Yeah it was used as a slur. Do show me one term for LGBTA folks that hasn’t been sneered and used to hurt. It’s MINE. It feels nice in my mouth and feels like claws on my fingers.

        I know nothing more than basics about plato, as Greek philosophy has never interested me much, and i don’t really think it’s relevant here. Platonic in the modern sense of the word means nonsexual, arguing what it once meant makes no more sense than arguing what the word meat once meant. To me at least? IDK, it’s early and i have yet to actually go to bed so I hope that’s coming across like I meant it to.

        Over all, I was not trying to offend anyone and I’m sorry if it seemed like I was.


      17. If the goal is to ‘reclaim’ a term, then that adds an additional reason not to use it for explanation– because not only are there multiple currently used meanings, but the speaker is actively attempting to redefine the term.

        That greatly lowers the explanatory value of using the term since it depends on either the explained thing being already understood, or whoever is being spoken to having to go find someone who will actually explain the situation rather than attempt to manipulate language use.

        Liked by 1 person

      18. Yes, that’s true. Personally, I didn’t realize there were ‘multiple meanings’ since it seems to me a perfectly understandable compound word like blueberry or driveway.

        Again, I was just going for the EASIEST word I personally think of when I think about their relationship, since I was in a hurry, and couldn’t remember the in universe term at all. And then instead of everyone thinking to themselves, ‘Hmmm, I don’t really think that label fits.Oh well, personal opinion!’ and then moving on politely, I got JUMPED on a bit. And then even more when I politely defended my word choice. *exasperated/disappointed* I was looking forward to talking about some of the other things I hastily summarized maybe, and how they might effect the story here, not everyone getting pedantic over /one word/.


      19. You can pry the term queer from my cold dead hands.

        I mean, you do you, but if you want to “reclaim” the term queer, you’re going to have to talk to the Alphabet activists, not the normies.

        The reason that normies understand “queer” the way we do is because of all the sexual perversions championed by the loud people who claim the word “queer” as their own.


      20. You can pry the term queer from my cold dead hands.

        I mean, you do you, but if you want to “reclaim” the term queer, you’re going to have to talk to the Alphabet activists, not the normies.

        The reason that normies understand “queer” the way we do is because of all the sexual perversions championed by the loud people who claim the word “queer” as their own.


      21. … sorry, I don’t know how that posted twice.

        Anyway, I’ve said all I’m going to say on the topic.


  4. Kantor says “:I’ve been in the rotation keeping eyes on the Nie whenever they instruct their Blue seedlings outside,:”

    Is he referring to the [saber] training the Nies do in that space outside the salle? Or is he referring to other training, that they do outside the Palace grounds? And if the second – would that be watching via Farsight?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I just remembered that Kero has perfect pitch. She doesn’t have the musical training to do anything with it, but she does have perfect pitch. It comes out towards the end of By the Sword, when she’s explaining why being serenaded by children’s choirs singing the song about her exploits isn’t her favorite thing.

    Liked by 1 person

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