Looking back, most of what had happened by the river had gone contrary to orthodox cultivation techniques. And on sober reflection… he was not unhappy with that result.
:Liberation, suppression, elimination,: Lan Wangji stated. :In an ordinary night-hunt, we would have tried to separate those ghosts that might release their regrets, and strike down the others. We never would have let them rampage against the haunted water. We would have kept them from acting on their rage, righteous or not. Those Wei Wuxian called to aid us… in a normal hunt, they would have been destroyed.:
:And now you’re wondering how many ghosts might have been saved and sent on, if cultivators just let them get that fury out of their system.: Kellen bumped his head against dark hair. :You are a good man, Chosen. And you’re not wrong. I suspect some ghosts you’ve seen eliminated might have been saved. But.:
Lan Wangji swallowed grief, knowing he needed to think. “But?”
:Wei Wuxian is a Ghost-Speaker. He can hear them. Feel them, the same way Talia feels living humans. You, other cultivators – you have to guess if a ghost’s really worn out its rage and had enough, by what you see it do. He can sense it, even if they try to lie to him. If a haunt still thirsts for the qi of the living, he knows.:
“…You are saying, it is not that one path is wrong,” Lan Wangji concluded. “It is – that they are shaped for different skills. Different abilities.”
:And Ghost-Speakers are rare,: Kellen nodded. :If a cultivator can’t tell how far gone a ghost is-:
“Ghosts cannot lie to Inquiry.”
“We must make more of an effort to contact restless spirits, and find the true heart of their resentment,” Lan Wangji declared. “It will not always be possible, fierce ghosts are a danger to all about them. But we must try.”
7 thoughts on “A Long Road Chapter 16 Ficbit – Different Paths”
One of the issues that comes up over and over and over in every part of life, if we know the situation, we can seek the best result, but how do you get that information?
Then in fantasy, they’re surrounded by supernatural sources of information which are convenient/flawless/unobtainable by normal means, and they completely overlook how important that is.
“Look at this awesome fireball!”
“Be careful, you don’t want to burn your allies.”
“Don’t worry, it only damages enemies.”
“Wait, your magic can determine friend from foe!?”
“Yeah? So? That’s completely unimportant. Look at the pretty fireball!”
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That can be *fun* to play with in story design, too.
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One of my Pathfinder characters got a spell _specifically for that utility_. It heals Good alignment, and burns Evil alignment (nothing to Neutral). Of course, that character was a demigod going for ascension, and focusing on the fight against evil and rescuing of the helpless, so that spell was almost perfect when I saw it.
Of course, there’s also cases where it’s the fandom noticing interesting holes in worldbuilding, like this fic: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9901496/1/Honestly-Harry
Each of the three chapters there is “let’s take just what canon HP shows, and see how badly it can be abused”. The first chapter is about the Fidelius, and ends up showing just how broken it can be for things _other_ than “keeping stuff secret”, by taking advantage of what it’s shown to do in canon (basically, that its opperation seems to fit most closely with the spell forcing reality to treat knowledge as a closed system, rather than an open system, so the lack of knowledge is the negation of the truth of that knowledge, rather than just truth being unknown).
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Fic Rec! Off to read.
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LWJ embraces imperfection! Suck it, Yoda! 😛
Jokes aside, though, LWJ recognizing the moral responsibility to *try*, alongside the knowledge that the circumstances make some degree of failure inevitable, is a step for him. Historically, he’s never been very good, or comfortable, with moral grey areas.
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Lan Qiren teaches that you should liberate, then suppress, then eliminate in that order. Some things could be cyclical — first suppress them then with more leisure or more energy it would be possible to try liberating. However there is also “Human life is the priority”; a moral cultivator can’t let a resentful ghost kill more people and can’t let themselves be killed either. If there are too many dangerous spirits around it might not be possible to try to liberate them.
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I like this.
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