A Long Road Chapter 15 Ficbit – Storm

I didn’t believe them. Dirk focused through fear and a pure blaze of headache, Fetching away rocks and icy water and a mist-that-wasn’t, that hurt when he shoved it away from living flesh. I saw what Wei Wuxian did in Nightless City, and I still didn’t believe the dead could do – this.

:None of us did.: Ahrodie had her head down, hunched beside him, physically sheltering her Chosen from roaring wind and water. She glowed against the dark, black mist sizzling as it touched her. But there was so much of it. :We’ve put our hearts and souls into making Valdemar a land where the dead are never so wronged – I hope Orthallen suffered for this!:

:Selenay I have under Caryo, and Daren under Jasan.: Alberich’s thoughts carried the burn of Foresight, the thundering impact of Kantor’s hooves against evil. :A predator, this is. Keep the crowd moving.:

But predators chased moving prey-

:He knows, Chosen.: Ahrodie’s mind-voice keened. :He knows.:

The Weaponsmaster was using the crowd as a distraction. To keep the water-weird from its true prey. Oh, Bright Lady.

A roil of wind, and familiar scarlet stumbled out of the fleeing pack. Bard Arissa, still watching and listening, ready to make songs of history.

If any of us survive to hear them….

The dark flute shrilled, and Arissa’s head snapped up. “Bards! On me!”

Dirk batted bones away with Fetching, gripped Arissa’s shoulder to yank her into Ahrodie’s shelter. The bard was determined to stand, meaning this was important, though what she thought one Bardic Gift could do in the midst of this horror-

The flute paused.

Clap! Clap! Clap!

Hands still pressed together, Arissa sang into the teeth of the storm.

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24 thoughts on “A Long Road Chapter 15 Ficbit – Storm

  1. To a certain extent Valdemar is a victim of it’s own success.

    They do such a good job keeping everything suppressed that they haven’t realized when they need to dig in a clean it out thoroughly.

    After all, it’s impossible to keep all the dead from having grudges.
    Even just accidents can build resentment in the wrong situation.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh yes please let the Bards have their turn to shine ❤

      I am wondering if WWX got a chance to talk to them off screen or if Arissa and her crew are doing some awesome music ablib.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. They’re adlibbing, because WWX hasn’t had much chance to talk to the local Bards but Arissa has observed LWJ at work and figures some emotional backup can’t hurt.

        Boy is she going to be surprised at how much she hasn’t seen….

        Liked by 4 people

  2. everyone is going to be shocked by WWxX displaying agressive negotiation with the evil monster.

    Also, this makes me wonder about Rathwellen, will it be similar, or suffer fron success less then valdemar?
    And what of Karse? do their firecat and son of sun as ignorant of these kinds of issues as the companions are? what WILL they make of WWX, and LWJ?

    hell, even hardorn is probably doesnt really know about this particular type of issue as much.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I headcanon the Firecats use resentful spirits like regular cats do mice. Chew toys…..

      Also, bit of meta here, but part of the current mess is “echoes” of the original Cataclysm stirring up magic and spirits in ways not usually seen outside the sect lands.

      Liked by 4 people

  3. PS: i think that ALL of the valdemarans will be shocked to learn that its NOT just orthallen’s fault. that resentment among some of the dead is something that happens naturally, and the companions were never a cure all against it, in plan or action.

    that kind of thing is more the duty of priests, who while spiritual guides of high quality here, are not prepared for this.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. The Weaponsmaster was using the crowd as a distraction. To keep the water-weird from its true prey.

    Oof.

    Although I don’t exactly get the impression the crowd holding still would necessarily be a great idea here either.

    The flute paused.

    Clap! Clap! Clap!

    Hands still pressed together, Arissa sang into the teeth of the storm.

    Oh, this is lovely, both your phrasing and the suggestion (if I’m not mis-anticipating) that she has a way to help/cooperate with WWX.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Boy is she going to be surprised at how much she hasn’t seen….

    Um, oh dear.

    Still hoping that’s not “stepping in is a disaster” so much as “it’s harder than she thought but useful/also works better than she thought.” Just because the setup sounded so awesome. :sweatdrop:

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am honestly getting a feel here similar to that “Edelweiss” song at the end of Sound of Music. The whole crowd singing along and the all powerful Nazis in the front row quietly feeling so obviously small and out numbered… get the crowd to start singing the Valdamar national anthem, and at least their own fear won’t be feeding the enemy.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Nice ficbit!!!!

    That’s a killer image, Marissa standing there and clapping, then singing.

    Bards are not a thing the sect lands DO are they? Seems like emotional amplification would be a thing either discouraged or just plain likely to get you eaten if you weren’t training to be a cultivator…. Bet bards are /tasty tasty ghost bait/.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. ….. I have no idea why there’s a capital DO in that second paragraph, sorry. My phone adding its own weird commentary I guess. XD

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Well… I don’t know about that. I mean, obviously shamanism and music have a lot of ties, to the point that Mongols and other steppe people tend to draw totem animals or carve animal shapes into their instruments, and they’re mostly making instruments out of animal parts.

      And music is a very big thing in Chinese culture, and in Chinese religion to a certain extent. Certainly music shows up a lot in ghostly apparitions, either by ghosts being drawn to music, or ghosts playing music and/or dancing to music.

      But Confucius taught that good music (both for entertainment and for religious piety) was essential to making a kingdom well-governed and virtuous. Music was seen by him as being about harmony and good order, which is next door to good law and virtuous behavior. And that’s pretty much exactly the way that Greek philosophers saw it, and the Celtic viewpoint too.

      There were also Taoist deities that were musicians. Han Xiangxi is the patron deity of fluteplayers (or at least, Taoist fluteplayers). There’s also Sunu, the Taoist goddess of the qin zither, who could change the seasons, grow plants, and tame wild animals with her music.

      We think of music as emotional and chaotic, but the ancients largely saw even emotional, chaotic music as part of a greater natural order, an ordered release of emotion. But orderly, stately, calming music that reiterated the important values of life was seen as more important to society, and helped remind everyone how to act. (In some cases, including the gods.) So it was important for any educated gentleman to be able to play a musical instrument, as part of his education.

      I suspect that it’s not so much that bardic gifts were “tasty treats” as that people with bardic gifts only developed them in approved directions, in the Jianghu. Bardic stuff could smack of mind control, when it comes to rousing emotions or making mental imagery visible. So you wouldn’t want to do that; you’d want to pour your energy into cultivating and learning weapons.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. If you’re not in the middle of a “polluted” magical area, I seriously doubt that resentment among the dead is going to be much of a problem, or much of a durable problem. Even in a Valdemar fantasy world, there’s only so much magical energy around. Generally it comes from slow renewable sources, or from other planes — which is why the magicking types have to be smart about how they use energy, even after being able to tap other planes. All this blood mage stuff doesn’t usually last very long, either, which is why they get crazy people either killing tons of folks to do magic with, or keeping people alive and tortured to do magic with.

    But the ripples of the Cataclysm from thousands of years ago are coming back, and so there’s a higher magic/trouble level than usual. Probably the magic/trouble level has been slowly rising for a while, and possibly since Orthallen’s time. And that would be why all these ghosts could be so darned durable, with an assist from all the canon evil wizards who keep trying to attack Haven during the main novel series recent timeline.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I remembering seeing in interview with a sailor who survived loosing his skiff in a storm. He said he sang at it. At the storm. The music it kept him breathing, it kept him thinking and angry and alive. I am strongly reminded at that in this moment.

    Liked by 2 people

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