Creating Gordian knots

May. 24th, 2017 06:38 pm
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
[personal profile] branchandroot
Spent an hour or two this morning figuring out how to make Jingyan’s life harder, aka the political situation one year post-canon. And, in fact, it was really easy to envision several significant messes, because with only two of the ‘cabinet’ level ministers replaced, the Ministries promise to still be a snake’s nest, albeit a slightly intimidated one.

Actually, I take immense pleasure in imagining that the Minister of Rites walks in mortal terror that Marquis Yan will give him a stern look or something, because Yan stepping back into court affairs has got to have everyone in the older generation running around yelling “Fear! Fire! Flood! OMG, we’re all gonna die!” behind the scenes, plus now he’s spent years studying ritual.

I also like to think, though, that Yu’s wife’s brother is still in charge of the Review Court and is making life a petty, picayune /pain in the ass/ at every opportunity, and god but Cai wants to throw him off a tower, and Shen is rubbing his forehead and reminding everyone that they’re supposed to be /civilized beings/ here, and Jingyan is acting like he totally wasn’t about to hand Cai a sword, annoyances, for the stabbing of, no of course not.

Plus, of course, the Minister of War was a supporter of the old Crown Prince and is /sure/ to be on the take somehow. So many lovely possibilities for military affairs to be fucked up right when a) they really need to be solid and b) Jingyan can’t go kick things into shape in person any more. *sadistic happy sparkles*

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*rubs hands* Onward to romance!

May. 23rd, 2017 04:38 pm
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
[personal profile] branchandroot
Okay, now we’re cooking with slash! I mean, not that we weren’t already, because all you have to do is put Jingyan and Lin Shu in vague proximity and the air pretty much fills with hearts and flowers. But I’ve finally gotten to the point where /someone/ actually notices how bad they’ve got it for each other.

The someone is, of course, Nihuang. Because Jingyan is too self-sacrificing for his own damn good and Lin Shu may not have quite /processed/ all the back-to-life implications. If Nihuang were from the US south, she’d be saying things like “god love ‘em” and possibly even blessing their hearts. As it is, she’s smiling the “I know something you don’t know” smile and looking forward to maybe making Jingyan snarf his tea by mentioning her knowledge at a tactically decisive moment. Just possibly in terms of expanding Lin Shu’s harem, if the opportunity presents, because a fine tradition of teasing Jingyan within an inch of his life should not be let to die.

Have I mentioned that I like Nihuang quite a lot?

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[Fic] Black Turns to Blue

May. 21st, 2017 07:11 pm
branchandroot: pen with burning ink (ink burns)
[personal profile] branchandroot

Cross-post from my archive.

Fandom/Arc: Nirvana in Fire, Alternatives
Characters/Pairings: Eunuch Gao, Fei Liu, Gong Yu, Jingyan/Shu, Lady Jing, Lin Chen, Lin Shu | Mei Changsu, Liu An, Meng Zhi, Mu Nihuang, Mu Qing, Nihuang/Shu, Xiao Jingrui, Xiao Jingyan, Xiao Liyang, Xiao Xuan, Yan Yujin
Summary: Lin Shu survives, and, with a certain amount of salutary brow-beating, finds a purpose in doing so that moves him to enter the world again, seek out his loved ones, and start walking a meaningful path forward with them.
Meta: Drama with Adorable Romance, I-3
Wordcount: 17363

For a long time, or what might have been a long time, he was afraid he'd failed, each time he woke. He woke weak, groggy, never able to rouse to full awareness, and he knew that sensation from a decade worth of illness, fought stubbornly against it, as he always had, to push his thoughts past the fog to grip on the world again.

This time, though, he could never force himself past the cloudy uncertainness of almost-dreams. And what did that mean, if not failure, to fall ill again before his last task was done?

Black Turns to Blue )

Slain with the adorable

May. 18th, 2017 09:53 pm
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
[personal profile] branchandroot
In today’s words, Nihuang and Qing are really the most adorable siblings ever. I rather look forward to Qing’s continued attempts to match-make, when Lin Shu shows.

Today’s writing snippet:

“Don’t challenge envoys just because they’re annoying me.” Sometimes Nihuang wondered whether she should move her daily work into an office of her own, if only to keep her little brother’s nose a bit further out of her business. The rustle of paper from his table caught her ear and she added, absently, “Read the whole thing, Qing-er.”

He gave her a hang-dog look and pulled back the report of crop plans that he hadn’t spent nearly long enough on to be finished with. Nihuang smiled down at her own table, which had almost certainly been her brother’s goal. He’d gotten more subtle about teasing her, this past year. Perhaps she would move to her own office some year soon, but there were compensations for staying here, for now.

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Lessons for Emperors:

May. 17th, 2017 09:48 pm
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
[personal profile] branchandroot
Do not fuck with the Inner Palace, they will fuck your shit up.

Which is to say, Lady Liu is developing nicely, as Lady Jing’s understudy. Also, I couldn’t quite resist the running joke that she prefers weak teas and doesn’t know why this seems to amuse all Jingyan’s relations.

Today’s snippet:

“There’s a certain amount of risk in it.” Lin Shu took a sip of his tea and, for some reason, gave her a look of deep amusement before turning back to the matter at hand. “He will understand quite well that I’m forcing his hand, and if I then stand openly in support of you, his fear may overcome his good sense. Again.”

Her husband’s face turned set and cold, at that. The reminder of Prince Qi’s fate made An think of something else, though. Of a certain memorial tablet, and what her mother-in-law had never quite admitted to doing, to secure it. “Perhaps,” she said, words falling softly into the quiet between the two men, “that need not be a great concern.” At Lin Shu’s raised brow, she lifted her chin, hands clasped tightly in her lap. “You should consult with Lady Jing, who often has such influence over him.”

She didn’t think her husband knew what she was saying, but Lin Shu went very still for a long moment before nodding slowly. “A wise suggestion, Lady Liu. My thanks.”

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Lady Jing is quietly terrifying

May. 15th, 2017 09:31 pm
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
[personal profile] branchandroot
Not that this was news to anyone who’s actually watched this show, but it does make itself especially evident, now and then.

Apropos of which, today’s writing snippet:

“Come here and let me see,” she ordered, as she had when he or Jingyan or Nihuang had managed to injure themselves training. He smiled for real at that, and came to hold out his wrist, obediently. She nearly held her own breath, setting her fingers over the pulse point, hope and fear of what she might feel tangling together, but long habit composed her to quiet attention.

And his pulse beat, sure and steady under her fingers, no hint of the stumble and catch that would tell of poison, of a body on the verge of collapse at any moment. It was weaker than it should be in a man only just past thirty, but it was steady. “It’s true,” she whispered, for the rest of them, for herself, for xiao-Shu, because she suspected he needed to hear it again, too. The laughing and shoulder-clapping among the men gave her a chance to re-gather herself, and she added, more calmly as she tugged his sleeve back down, “Perhaps I won’t do anything too very dreadful to your friend after all.”

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What this fandom needs...

May. 13th, 2017 09:04 pm
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
[personal profile] branchandroot
…is a propitiousness checker. 

I can make a half-decent stab at good meaning balances, for names, and I can handwave birthdates wherever they need to be, and Wiktionary helpfully mentions the root radicals of enough names to take a swing, but it’s all very fuzzy and as for stroke number I am lost. *grumps* I don’t even know if that degree of refinement was common round 5th C.

So I’ll risk Liu An (Jingyan’s wife) and Chen Wenqian (his mother’s pre-Palace name), but I still feel antsy about it.

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All the screen time

May. 12th, 2017 10:27 pm
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
[personal profile] branchandroot
Seriously, Lady Liu rocks on toast. The more I poke at her character, and the tiny bits we see of her, the more I think she’ll actually fit in exceedingly well with Jingyan’s command team.

Not least because, as a character, she’s nearly as demanding as Lin Shu. *she says, having gotten hauled through another 2K words while attempting to concentrate on learning a new LMS at work*

Today’s snippet:

“Mei Changsu?” The Lady blinked at her, hand actually paused on her cup, seeming genuinely startled.

“I’m probably being foolish,” An murmured, looking down at the delicate, celadon pot as she set it down, carefully aligned in its corner of the tray. “You must surely have thought of all this already. I just… my lord…” Gentle fingers touched her cheek, and she looked up to find her mother-in-law smiling, affectionate and yet sad. So very sad, and An caught her breath on the realization of how deep that melancholy that often hung around Lady Jing like and old, faint scent must run. “Mother…?” she whispered.

“Be at ease, child,” Lady Jing said, softly. “There is nothing in that man that is capable of betraying Jingyan.”

An nodded slowly, still uncertain. She knew Lady Jing had greater understanding of the situation than she did, but this was so counter to everything she had ever heard of Mei Changsu. Her mother-in-law’s smile lightened a little with amusement, and she patted An’s hand. “Here.” She called one of her maids to bring her a stacked, lacquer box, and set it on the table before An. “Bring them some sweets, today, and watch a little. I think you will see.”

An straightened; this was a lesson, then. “Yes, Honored Mother-in-law,” she murmured, gathering her robes to take her leave, taking the box of sweets with her.

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Character metaphors

May. 12th, 2017 04:59 pm
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
[personal profile] branchandroot
Okay, so we all know I’m very given to metaphors for my characters, right? Right. So, it should surprise no one that the following thought wandered by as I was eating lunch and trying to work out the bridge from end-of-canon Shit Going Down to after:

Lin Shu in relation to Prince Qi was a hawk; he would have been Qi’s hawk, would have flown for him, but (the critical point about hawks) would never have been actually tamed.

Lin Shu in relation to Jingyan is a cat; he’s fully domesticated, if also a total asshole at times, given to deliberately shoving things off tables, and as far as he’s concerned the proper order of the world is that Jingyan is His Person, forever amen, interlopers can expect to be casually clawed, and Jingyan can expect to be yowled at if he doesn’t pay attention promptly enough.

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