A Long Road Chapter 16 Ficbit – Making it Work

Wrapped up against the frosty morning, Mina leaned against one of Rabbit Hole’s new paddock fences, offering a dried apple slice to entice one particularly canny buckskin mare over for a good look. She might have been Haven-raised but she was an Ashkevron. You didn’t survive family get-togethers without knowing something about good horses. “I like your brother already. He picked solid horses.”

“Da-ge likes to do things right.” Nie Huaisang radiated warmth as he rested one arm on the fence beside her, looking over this part of the Wen’s small herd. “But I’m curious. Solid?”

“Your mare’s got a temper. That’s fine, because you can handle her. She’s meant for speed, and enough endurance to get you through a battle or run from it. The horses he sent with the Wen… they can run, but they’re built for keeping a steady pace as long as it takes.” Canny lips and teeth finally plucked the apple from Mina’s fingers; she felt at the mind behind them. “They’re calm, and they’re smart. They know what’s really dangerous, and what’s not, and they like people. If a little wanders underfoot, or some poor rider panics and tries to yank their reins wrong, they’re just going to put their ears back and do what they think is the right thing. Wei Wuxian knows horses, and Wen Ning, and some of the others – but the elders, and the others they picked up? If they had to have horses, these are the best.” Lips ghosted across her palm again, searching for any crumb of apple left behind, and Mina grinned. “They’re not as burly as Ashkevron warhorses, but people trying to sneak out and settle down somewhere no one will notice them don’t need warhorses. They need horses who can pack out skins and forest gleanings, haul a fair size load of wood, and pull a plow for a small field. Your brother’s the sect leader, he probably picked horses who wouldn’t help your sect in another big battle – but when he offered to provision the Wens in trade for a rescue, he held up his end of the bargain all the way.” She breathed out, looking at the familiar half-stone, half-timbered houses of Valdemar, thinking of how different Qinghe had looked in Nie Huaisang’s paintings. Stone fortresses, and bamboo, and tiled roofs with fantastic monsters guarding the ridgeline. “He keeps his word, Wei Wuxian keeps his, and I know the Queen keeps hers. We can make this work.”

Nie Huaisang’s presence seemed to cool, though he didn’t withdraw. “Even with the… risks of our magic?”

21 thoughts on “A Long Road Chapter 16 Ficbit – Making it Work

  1. I like the description of the horses. I’ve reverted to childhood recently and have been reading and rereading about the different breeds of horses and their good qualities. Unlike childhood, colors and flash and pizza aren’t as important to me. I used to admire Palaminos. The Banker ponies of North Carolina are often not horse size but they can carry an adult all day, Standardbred race horses make surprisingly good endurance horses and have a calm temperament, and Shetland ponies can pull a lot for their size. Nie Mingjue probably chose the initial horse herd for durability, and then swapped out any horses with iffy temperament when he saw that the Wen Remments were civilians not soldiers

    Liked by 4 people

    1. He chose for “they’re traveling a long way” first. Note, he had some info on who the survivors were and knew there wouldn’t be a lot of experienced horsemen, so he had part of a heads-up.

      Then he saw there was a tiny kid, and an ancient grandma, and made a few more fast switches! Because drat it all….

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Translation: “Are you *sure* you want to marry someone who’s liable to turn violently insane?”

    Mina (applies precisely-metered force with a ClueX4 to Thick Nie Skull)

    Liked by 7 people

      1. Ashkevron may have a few tricks that could help. That’s the nice thing about the non-Jianghu magic, there’s a large portion that feels you can help someone going through a hard time, and not just by shoving more energy at them and hoping for the best.

        Yes I am aware that I have drastically understated the complexity of Wen Qing’s job. (And the bears are a legitimate concern! Remember, a black bear attacks because he thinks you’re a threat, a brown bear cause he’s hungry, and a grizzly bear because you’re there. Polar bears are the same way, and why nature decided natural grolar bears needed to be a thing that could happen is beyond my understanding.


  3. …. Crossover, how the blazes did you accurately describe a good cow-horse?

    I know you’re not a ranch kid.

    :claps: Well done!

    [story time! When I was maybe four, my parents became the retirement for Granger. He was a buckskin– a “blond” horse– and was 17 at the time. Mom braided a rope into his mane so we could get up. The kind of horse where he KNEW kids were important, and cared about people, too– when we fell off, and we did that a lot, he would freeze. Literally holding a foot in the air. And we’d get out from under him, and the over sized {bleeper} would put his head down and make sure he had nothing under him! And when it was clear, THEN he’d buck, and hop, and stomp, and kick his feet, and lit off like he’d gotten a firecracker under his tail. But SAFELY!]

    Liked by 6 people

    1. *G* Thank you! I am so glad I got that right.

      I can only point to reading a bunch on horses in the past, and watching a lot of Westerns to see what horses should and shouldn’t do. One of the nice points about Bonanza was they put Hoss on a big black horse. Not just tall, but much more solidly built than the others. As in, you could picture a guy Hoss’ size riding that horse all day if he had to. And more than a few eps pointed out which horses you could trust around small kids, and which were Experienced Riders Only (And Even Some of You May Be Thrown.)

      Also Gunsmoke, and particularly Rawhide – which made a point that cowboys had strings of several horses, each of which might be good at particular things and not others. And that you wanted a smart horse to keep you and the herd safe!

      Liked by 6 people

    2. Reminds me of my dad’s old mare — half quaterhorse, half saddlebred, 5-halfs *mule*.

      She was tsundere for Dad, and a non-violent “takes no sh!t” from anyone else… but put kids or grandparents on her, and she turned into a rocking horse. Fall off, she’d just stop and wait for you. Put four little kids on her, yelling and bouncing *and holding the reins*, and she’d just follow me or Dad around like a dog, completely unflappable.

      Put Dad on her, she decided she was a bronco… then would follow him lipping his hair and begging for attention when he decided he’d had enough of *that*. On the farm, when she decided she wanted some corn, she’d cut a yearling calf out of the herd and stampeded it into the electrical fence to knock down the line between the cow pasture and the corn field. It’s only funny in retrospect….

      *Complete attention whore*, though. When we moved into town and had to board her out, she got bored. And one of the landowner’s kids decided to teach her to barrel-bend. She was *twelve*. And *loved* it, even when she overdid it and pulled something.

      Also *hated* being indoors. Spent every winter, including a few record-setters, outside 24/7, just shaking the snow off once in a while.

      Liked by 1 person

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