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A note from Yrsillar

And Here is this months bonus. Normal update will be tomorrow as always.

That damn scar still itched.

Su Ling clenched and unclenched her hands, resisting the urge to scratch as she picked her way through up the collapsed cliff face. She had to be careful not to dislodge the loose rock and dirt under her feet, or she’d be in for a nasty slide. Her ears twitched then catching a sound, and Su Ling stopped dead, pale blue flame blooming at her fingertips as she whipped her head around.

Only to see a little brown rabbit escaping into the underbrush. Su Ling let out a ragged sigh, scrubbing her hand through her hair. She had to get her nerves under control, it wasn’t helping her. She knew all to well that if you reacted to every little thing, you’d end up missing the real danger, out of exhaustion if nothing else. So, letting out a shallow huff, she forced herself to relax a little and get back to climbing.

She didn’t know why she was surprised. Of course the truce was a bunch of bullshit, meant to give the ones who were already strong cover. That was all rules and laws ever were. The rules hadn’t stopped that creep anymore than it had stopped those shitheads from taking everything after Gran died.

She could practically hear the creaky old bats voice in her ears reminding her of what she already knew.

“Want to be left in peace girl? Then you make yourself too big a bone to swallow. Someone wants to do you wrong? Make them choke on it. And If you can’t manage, than you keep your head down and stay outta sight, you hear?”

So when some shithead kid stomped on her tail, she sent them home crying with a bloody nose and chipped tooth, and when their parents came to whine, Gran would tell them to piss off or suffer a price hike. The advantage of being the only halfway decent apothecary in the village. Being too big a bone to swallow.

‘Course it broke down after she died, but then you got to the second piece of advice, didn’t you? Stay on the edges, keep your head down. Scavenge, fight, live. Make sure you were too much trouble to come after.

That wasn’t enough though, not here. The people around her were too strong, and resources too few. She could probably get by in the short term, finding a hole and hiding in it, but she’d always stay small, always stay weak if she did that. She didn’t have any illusions about the limits of her ability. She’d never be one of the folks lording over things from on high, that wasn’t her goal. No, she just needed a solid core of strength, enough to survive getting thrown at barbarians for half a decade and change. Then she could go off and ‘retire’ like that old drunk of a militia captain back home.

The problem, Su Ling mused darkly, was Li Suyin. Narrowing her eyes, Su Ling bent her knees and jumped, leaping up to catch a handhold on the cliff above. That girl… sometimes Su Ling felt like she was like a dumb puppy. All stupid innocent grins and eagerness, like the world wasn’t just waiting to bring the boot down. Yet now, she couldn’t help but be pissed off, now that the other girls illusions had been broken.

Su Ling knew perfectly well that she’d been half feral when she’d gotten here, she’d been a shitty housemate, and all around unpleasant, but Li Suyin… That dumb girl had just kept on being nice anyway. It was the first time she’d had a real conversation that wasn’t just mockery and threats since Gran had died. With a grunt, Su Ling dragged herself up over the lip of the cliff and peered around.

There was some scrub left, the trees that had been up here had gone down in the rockslide, but this place would still work. As she began to head toward the tiny box canyon that she had come here for however, her thoughts turned back to Li Suyin… her friend. The other girl had been doing better, something that Ling Qi had said she assumed. She still had some mistrust for that one, she recognized another scavenger after all, but…

Su Ling shook her head. If Ling Qi had wanted to betray them, she’d have sided with that Huang creep and then gone to the snake princess to give him the boot, take the prize all for herself. No, she was pretty confident that the girl wouldn’t act against them. Still, she thought grimly, things were only going to get worse from here, those pretend rules, weak as they were would be falling soon.

Back in the housing zone, Su Ling could practically smell the resentment and envy that Li Suyin attracted. The girl was always showing off in those elder lessons, though from the way she spoke of it, she didn’t see it that way. Yet Su Ling knew that was the way a lot of their ‘sect sisters’ saw it. Preening little shits, getting mad at being shown up, at getting passed over for praise. Ling Qi was the same, but in regards to the near freakish speed of her cultivation, and the growth of her qi.

Ling Qi had the snake princess though, and in the end Li Suyin had only humble Su Ling. She smiled in bitter amusement at the thought as she reached the back of the canyon, and the narrow crevasse that waited there, leading back into a small cave system that she’d found in her first week. She had some supplies cached here, but it was going to need to be more. She, no, they needed a bolthole, something the cave back here would serve nicely for.. She’d just have to do some work trapping the place.

Winter was coming, and the wolves were out to prowl. Hopefully she could make Li Suyin see that.

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A note from Yrsillar

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Yrsillar

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Hangwind ago

I really hate where this went. It was good here.

Arkeus ago

'Winter was coming.'

Oh Yrs.....

Adirell ago

It's interesting perspective. I was a little surprised by Su Ling's assessment of Ling Qi's cultivation speed. I assumed it was above avarage, but nothing exceptional. But it was probably because of Ling Qi's point of view in usual chapters.

    Arkeus ago

    Well, something to note is that most noble arrived at mid red (with good ones at late red, and freaks like Meizhen/Liling at mid yellow). Ling Qi is now managing to fight evenly against the elites that arrived at late red (Elder Zhou's class is elite for combat only) except for those that did manage to breakthrough to yellow.

    Not only that, but nobles also come in with more ressources, and prior training and availability of arts.

    katreus ago

    Ling Qi is a derpy ignoramus in all formal matters of knowledge and cultivation. It is both her greatest strength and her greatest weakness.

    And her standard of comparison in Bai Meizhen is not particularly common, which skews her perspective further.

    Osamaru Ta ago

    As has been said, Ling Qi is starting for literally 0, but has still been able to at least touch the coattials of Elites who've probably been exposed and trained their entire lives.

    It could even be argued she's more talented than some Trasnmidigated MCs, because at least they has a basic idea/understanding from Novels.

    Ling Qi is more like taking some nobody from the Bronks and throwing them right into Enginnering school and them somehow been able to keep pace with the Scholoership students.

slicedtoad ago

You know what I hate about this story? The fact that I can't keep the names straight. I spend half of every new chapter just trying to remember everyone's names.

Li Suyin

Su Ling

Ling Qi

I have enough trouble with Asian names already, but could you have chosen names that don't sound like variations of each other? Maybe there is some in-story reason that I missed (like 'Li' meaning something) but, man, does this make it hard to read.

Maybe I should run a Tampermonkey script that changes all names to an indexed color.

edit: rereading, this post sounds a bit angrier than I wanted it to. On one hand, it's such a tiny criticism, on the other, it has a much larger impact (for me) than I ever expected character names to have.

    Arkeus ago

    Ling Qi just needs to adopt Su Ling, so Su Ling will be named Ling Ling.

    Yrsillar ago

    Sorry for the trouble. I admit the names can get a little hard to follow, but that is not something I can easily solve, given the genre and setting.

      gleg ago

      Perhaps a repeated list in the top author note?

      Ling Qi - MC, lonely commoner brought to the sect through routine talent checks

      Li Suyin - quiet friend trying to revive family's medical ninjitsu

      Su Ling - fox demi-human, learning to get along with the above

    katreus ago

    The name, Ling Qi, is a fond joke given that she becomes a cultivator. Ling means zero, which can refer both to her background and amount. So Ling Qi means zero qi.

    Su and Li are both common surnames in Chinese. See https://en.wikipedia.krg/List_of_common_Chinese_surnames

    And tbh, there aren't that many phonetic sounds in Chinese ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/bopomofo Theyre just combined and add in one one of four tones for different sounds.

    But that said, it could probably have been easier differences in names to have been chosen. But the SuSus are fun.

    mananaysiempre ago

    There’s a good reason for this.

    First, unlike the Europeans (and many others), the Chinese have been using surnames for a long time. The system is much closer to equilibrium, which is all surnames but one dying out: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galton–Watson_process>. Already the 100 most common surnames (out of thousands) cover 85% of the population of China, and it’s even worse if you take a smaller geographic region.

    The biological counterpart of this, which would already be in equilibrium if not for random mutations, is <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitochondrial_Eve>: we only have one “mitochondrial surname”.

    Second, unlike European (and most other) languages, Chinese at least used to be an isolating language, meaning that more or less each syllable carried a separate meaning. It isn’t anymore, but words are still short. Names and surnames, which are old and don’t need a lot of forms, are even shorter than average.

    Third, unlike, again, the Europeans (who are in much sparser company this time), the Chinese have a very limited repertoire of syllables. Forget about those four-consonant clusters, you only get a consonant and a semivowel at the beginning (oui, oui, I know you like your semivowels) and an ng-thing at the end. And put away your fifteen vowels, French, no, RP English, you don’t get to keep your twenty either. Five vowels should be enough for everyone.

    Now this seems to put us in a pinch. Chinese actually compensates for its syllable problems somewhat with tones (which Yrsillar doesn’t write) and a creative supply of consonants (no, the Q is not just a funny way to write /k/). In Japanese, on the other hand, the sounds really are that bad, and it has a horrific homonym problem... Thankfully, it isn’t isolating, not even close.

      slicedtoad ago

      Right, I was vaguely aware that there was a cultural reason for this. Thanks for the detail.

      Still, though, the fact that there is a logical reason doesn't change the fact that it's not a great idea to choose character names like the above. It's Fantasy. You have a lot of wiggle room when it comes to picking names. Since it's based largely on a fantasy Chinese culture, they should stay Chinese sounding, but you don't have to stick with the exact modern names. Take Tolkien; the names sound vaguely Western (humans and hobbits, at least) but most of them aren't actual Western names. Alternatively, go back through history and choose a naming scheme from one or two millennia ago. Additionally, make every main character have a distinct name. IRL people will often have friends with the same name but in fiction, this is annoying since there are no voices or faces to tell them apart.

      Staticshield ago

      I'm sure "Chinese sounding" names would also piss of a lot of people (ahem, I would be a bit upset and call it lazy writing, others might claim "cultural appropriation", whatever that means). This is simply a problem of getting used to Chinese names. I for one have read so many Chinese stories that I have no trouble differentiating names anymore.

    Graestra ago

    Li Suyin

    Su Ling

    Sun Liling

    These three names were mixing me up for quite a while.

grigori ago

Oo, Su Ling's gran sounds a respectable badass. Also sweet to see the way Suyin managed to dig past Ling's walls.

Mimibdy2 ago

Just read the whole thing to here, I could not put it down!

One small note:

"She knew all too well that if you reacted to every little thing, you’d end up missing the real danger, out of exhaustion if nothing else."

Keep it up! This story is superb!

baksban ago

If Ling Qi had wanted to betray them, she’d have sided with that Huang creep and then gone to the snake princess to give him the boot, take the prize all for herself.

Would have been a very sneeky(snaky?) thing to do, but if she thinks Ling Qi would even think on it twice, she misjudged her hard. I think even if a woman were to wear a constant poker face, as unrealistic as it is, it still would have been pretty easy to tell, by Ling Qi's reaction, what she thinks of him.

I don't remember though, if i wrote this before or not, but it would be pretty cool plot twist, from hate to love there is only one step. The only thing aginst it is that he is totally cliche. Usually if author even considers that kind of turn around, his character would have been more 'colorful'. Thus he is but another step.

    SilverK ago

    Her assessment isn't that far off. If the blind guy didn't come off as rapey he might have succeeded in turning Ling Qi. Ling Qi is well practiced in betrayal and has no remorse for the things she's done to get ahead. It would not have been the first time people died because they trusted her.

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