Kellen was glaring at the ripples. :Is that what we’re after?:
:Let us so hope, and let it strike soon,: Lan Wangji answered. :Whatever power your priests and Groveborn have raised here does not work well with Nie cultivation.:
:It – what? But that makes no sense! It’s spiritual power, and you have no problem with-:
:The power called on by priests is not that drawn from within by cultivators,: Lan Wangji said practically. :Every sect’s cultivation is different. I am Lan. Our founder was a monk. Our focus has always been on matters of the spirit. We have no quarrel with priests, merely little to do with them. The Nie were butchers; bloody, unclean, avoided by priests and all but the lowest of common men. Their prey are yao, walking corpses, and fierce ghosts; they hunt them as a tiger hunts buffalo. They will endure your magics as long as they can, but they need a target. Any target.:
:I hear you.: Kellen shifted on his feet, a stallion’s frown. :And we should have one. Any moment now. Whatever resentment remains, whatever cursed spirit might lurk in the darkest waters, it should awaken here. We set up a cleansed perimeter-:
:For this part of the river.: Breathe in. Breathe out. He would remain calm. The priests were finishing up their rituals, Herald Talia coordinating between them and the gathered Heralds and Companions.
And yet, against that bright spiritual energy, he could sense a chill. As if a shadow passed over the sun-
Kellen twitched. :You sense-?:
:Gui,: Lan Wangji said levelly. :Gathering downstream, near….:
Wei Ying. Of course. With a coherent river-ghost, the cool darkness that was Wen Qionglin, and what must have been Nie Huaisang’s entire flock of students.