[Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE184

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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE184

Postby Kivutar » Thu Jan 17, 2019 12:13 am

Dewang looks at the others, when they are out of earshot.

"There must be something useful in the records," he says. "I'll see if I can find anything."
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Then the LORD said to me, "Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes."

Hosea 3:1
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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE184

Postby CarrieVS » Thu Jan 17, 2019 1:42 am

"We must find out more about the Huis," Baozi adds in a low voice. "And if they are so powerful here, they don't need to fear being investigated. They might have brought their prisoners here. I think one of us should go to the Hui Quarter, in disguise, and see what we can find. I... I could do that."

Wenchang looks like he is about to protest.

"I can disguise myself so that no-one would ever recognise me, or take any notice of me," Baozi goes on. "I would be able to go almost anywhere." He catches Dewang's eye.
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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE184

Postby Kivutar » Thu Jan 17, 2019 2:22 am

"Yes, you could," says Dewang slowly. It's terribly risky, but since when has that stopped any of them before?

"Perhaps it would be better if you helped me go through the records first," he adds. "Then you won't be going in completely blindly."
  • 2

Then the LORD said to me, "Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes."

Hosea 3:1
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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE184

Postby CarrieVS » Fri Jan 18, 2019 1:03 am

"Of course -" Baozi hesitates just a moment, "Dewang."



A week or two ago...

"Ge* Zhiteng, I wondered if I-" Baozi stops. Dewang is staring at him in shock. "I'm sorry. I.. is something wrong?"

"Oh, no, Baozi," Now Baozi is the one to be startled. That isn't proper. "It's just, could you not call me that?"

"But... you are my elder brother."

"Well then do as he tells you!" Wenchang interjects. "Baozi." He is obviously amused.

Baozi looks at his shoes. "But... what else can I call you?"

"The same that you always did, of course," says Wenchang. "And me too."

Dewang puts a hand on Baozi's shoulder. "It's ok, call me what you want to - I won't mind." But he looks pained. "It's just... you and Wenchang are the only people who call me Dewang. And it's not as though we aren't still friends."

"Well... I..." How can he respect his elders when they tell him not to? And what will people think? "Of course I'll do whatever you ask," he says, slowly, "Dewang. And Wenchang. But... you don't mean in front of other people, do you?" Please don't... "I'm sure you wouldn't want them to think I had no respect for you... would you?"

Dewang almost sighs, but stops himself. "Of course not. But between the three of us."



*Elder brother**

**If I've gotten it wrong please just correct me in private so I can hide the evidence.
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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE184

Postby CarrieVS » Sat Feb 09, 2019 5:42 pm

They don't find a great deal from the records that they didn't already know about the Huis. Hui Jiao is heir to his father, the magistrate, and his chief administrator. His twin Hui Qiao is sought by many suitors, but so far none have been successful - some indeed have been most unfortunate, having died of illness after attempting to court her.

"A most tragic coincidence," Baozi remarks with a sideways look. Perhaps is is nothing more than that, but in the circumstances he wouldn't be entirely sure of it.

There is a little more to learn about the cult of the Forest God. It seems it's a relic from the distant past, of the worship of places and other spirits, besides ancestors. Baozi remarks a little on the apparent similarity with the nature worship of his Di ancestors, and the magic that shamans are capable of by calling on animal spirits.

There are four different stories about the Forest God. The first says that it is a tree, a giant tree producing both healing, life-extending fruit, and poisons with no cure. This, given some of what they know about the Huis, is certainly of interest.

The next story is of a dragon which can cause either floods or bountiful harvests, if angered or soothed.

Other tales tell of an exiled daughter of the Jade Emperor, seeking a man. A husband, in one version, to please her father, but to court her and fail is death. Or else, a warrior who will kill her father the Jade Emperor and claim his throne. These stories, and especially the first, they all agree seem to have an uncanny resonance with what they have just learned of Hui Qiao. But all in all this raises more questions than answers.

They leave and return to the camp outside the city walls where they have left Wenchang's soldiers.

"The magistrate will probably hear that we have been there asking about his family," Dewang warns.

Baozi nods. It almost went very badly, but he is not unduly concerned with how it did turn out. "Surely. But the Huis would learn that we are here sooner or later anyway." Especially as they now realise they are camped right outside their quarter of the city. "In war, you should make both a direct and a secret approach," he quotes from his books. "Now I had better disguise myself and see what I can find out that way."

"Now?" Wenchang asks, concerned. "Baozi, be careful."

"Now that we may have announced our presence, there is no time to lose. Besides, haste may sometimes be foolish, but long delays are never clever. I will go and prepare my disguise and then slip away quietly - I can't talk to you afterwards, I mustn't be seen with you if I'm not to arouse suspicion." That is not the whole truth.

"You must take one of the potions," Wenchang insists, but Baozi shakes his head,

"That's no good. We may not be ready to move against them within a day, but we can't wait a whole week, so if I take the potion now I can't be protected when we'll need it most. I promise, I will not be recognised. I will be in less danger than if I stayed with you, looking like myself."


He bids his brothers farewell and disappears into his tent, where he divests himself of his sword and kneels on the floor to meditate and pray. Minutes later, a small brown tabby cat slips out of the tent and darts for a clump of tall weeds he had previously noticed and marked out for this purpose.

He freezes, crouched low to the ground, and looks around. No sign that anyone has noticed. He trots quickly to the next bit of cover, and looks again. One more time, and he is clear of the camp and can move freely.

He is careful not to look too purposeful as he moves through the city. It is a delicate business - he must let the cat behave like a cat, to avoid any possibility of suspicion, while his true self must keep his focus and think like a human. But he is well practised.

He jumps onto walls and runs along the tops of fences, even sometimes roofs: good vantage points, as well as the natural path of a cat. When a feline resident challenges the newcomer, he stops to spit defiant curses before contemptuously turning his back and moving on. No time for fighting, only to demonstrate that he is not afraid. The rival is sufficiently impressed or sufficiently cautious not to rush him from behind. At another spot, he sits to wash his face in front of a tied dog which pulls at its rope, barking, but cannot reach him. Two children point him out and laugh, and he stalks by them with a dignified purr and a tail raised in greeting - just out of their fingers' reach. He has already resolved not to allow anyone to touch him, remembering Dewang's discovery. However unlikely magicians these little ones might be, there is no particular advantage in making an exception.

But all the time he is keeping eyes and ears open. Listening for the name Hui in conversation, or for his brothers' and his names, or the captured men's, or even Liang Ju or Dr Hua. Watching for anything that might indicate where two prisoners are being hidden. As a cat he can go freely through gardens and stare at anything - or anyone - he is curious about. Even if he is so bold as to peer into windows or try to enter open doors, it is only the natural impudence of a cat, perhaps to be cursed at or have to dodge a thrown object, but not suspected.
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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE184

Postby Scarik » Wed Feb 13, 2019 12:18 am

Hearing the name 'Hui' in conversation is not very helpful. The family is large, with several branches tracing linage back three or four generations to Magistrate Hui's grandfather. All told that means dozens of Hui's by blood and many score more servants and close cousins, most of whom hold some status in the community.

Every block has a Hui or two in charge from the smallest clutch of homes and shops to the garrisons and scribes.

And at the center of it all sits the Hui estate, a sprawling collection of beautiful buildings, splendid gardens and parks with walls of different sizes and stones to separate each part. All told the estate takes up a third of the entire Quarter and houses thousands of people from the magistrate himself down to the groundsmen and scullions.

It would take Baozi days to prowl across it all but since he doubts the gardeners are whom he needs to follow he can focus on the inner manor where the main family lives.

Each gate has guards with more and better armed ones closer to the center. The outer gates, with their low walls, have no more than five men with spears and padded caps who seem more like traffic directors than soldiers. But even there Baozi's keen, feline senses can see that other men lurk about under the guise of laborers and peddlers who seem even more watchful than the guards.

By the time one reaches the inner gate to the main house the walls are 30chi high and half as thick with no fewer than a dozen visible soldiers in quilted armor with spears, halberds, shields and sabres as well as officers in coats of iron plates with iron helmets and horses. The walls there also have guard towers manned by archers armed with heavy crossbows and some few even have catapults.

Cavalry with dogs patrol the fortification in pairs every few minutes as well and more than once Baizi has had to leap away from the thundering hooves and barking hounds.
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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE184

Postby CarrieVS » Wed Feb 13, 2019 2:17 am

If this is where the two teachers are being held, he had better find some plan other than a direct assault to get them out. But first he'd better try to find out if they are here at all, or anything else he can.

With so much watchfulness, Baozi considers the possibility that even a cat might be noticed, and spends a little time, not too far from the inner gates, stalking through gardens as though he had nothing on his mind but mice, and sunning himself in the open without a care in the world.

Another cavalry patrol passes by noisily, and the cat opens half an eye to watch the dogs with an expression of haughty irritation. They bark a little and sniff in his general direction but are too intent on their tasks to take any further notice. They pass, and he gets up, yawns, and slowly stretches his front and back legs in turn. Then saunters casually along the path to the gates.

They are high, solid, heavy, and locked, but a smaller postern is open - guarded - to allow the not-infrequent foot traffic in and out. Baozi strolls up to the gate in the middle of the path with his tail straight up in the air as though he were completely unaware of the guards, and not alert to the possibility of having to dodge a kick.
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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE184

Postby Scarik » Mon Feb 18, 2019 11:15 pm

Baozi

While there are many more gaurds close by it is the two at the gate itself watching the people come by that take notice of Baozi's arrogant stroll.

"Shen, look its a dragon cat," says the first guard to which Shen looks around before spotting Baozi.

"No, that's a gold tabby, they're good luck," Shen says.

"What? Are you daft? That is a dragon, its much better luck when one comes to your house than a mere tabby."

"You're daft, Xun," Shen laughs, "A gold cat eats mice and chases rats away from the grain. Its a mild favor from Heaven."

"But Shen, dragons eat tigers, surely that's better?"

"Our master is the Forest Tiger, Xun. I don't think he wants to be eaten."

"Oh," Xun says deflatedly.

Once through Baozi finds himself in a courtyard with a peach garden to his left and a pond filled with beautiful carp as large as his feline self. The main house stands ahead with its doors open and he can just see a large screen across the hall a dozen chi past the heavy doors.

Its the usual design to create the correct feng shui in a house but it is rich beyond anything Baozi has seen before. Even in the governor's palace with Liu Yan there is nothing quite like that, though as this is the private home of a wealthy aristocrat perhaps Governor Yan has something similar in is own residence when secretaries are hardly allowed.


Zaitian & Xufeng

As far as prisons go this is quite the comfortable one. It is furnished for a magistrate with splendid cushions and curtains and tables made of rare woods of masterful craftsmanship. During the day the rooms are bright with light from narrow windows high up on the walls that give the impression, along with the bird songs, that they are in a tower overlooking a garden.

If they had any idea of how they arrived that would be quite useful knowledge, but as it is they quickly found themselves overtaken by a soporific perfume and didn't awake until evening when they were already locked in.

In the days that have gone by they have yet to see their captors again, only the servant girl who brings their meals and makes tea. She doesn't talk except to say that she is not permitted to speak to them other than to say they must not be near the door when she enters or leaves. Otherwise there is the unseen, unheard guard who let's her in and out, and themselves.
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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE184

Postby CarrieVS » Fri Feb 22, 2019 11:01 pm

Baozi laps some water from the pond and takes a couple of lazy swipes at one of the fish. He leaves them alone after a few moments, not wanting to make anyone think twice about his being lucky. He sits and washes his face to give himself a few moments to watch and think.

A cat that's a mild favour from heaven in the grounds might still be an unwanted stray should to be chased out of the house itself. But he's learned very little of use, so far. If he turns back now, there will have been almost no point in this venture. He pads up to the open door and inside.

He quickly moves around the door so he's not directly visible from outside, and after a pause, darts forward until he can see past the screen.
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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE184

Postby Kivutar » Sun Feb 24, 2019 1:25 pm

After Baozi disappears, Dewang tries not to worry. There is little he can do to help or hinder, and his efforts to find out more about the Forest Ghost have come to nothing. It must be a very secretive cult indeed.

As he walks slowly through the streets, he passes a shrine, then pauses. There are some beings who certainly know who the Forest Ghost is - though they may be as dangerous as it is.

He stops at a liquor-seller's stall and asks a few questions. There are plenty of temples around, several very nearby. Caishen's temple, he dismisses out of hand - it seems obvious that the god of wealth favours the Huis. Menshen, who guards against evil spirits, sounds more promising. "Where can I find it?"

The liquor-seller waves her hand to the right. "Turn when you see the noodle shop, then go ahead - about half a li past the old temple, you can't miss it."

Dewang thanks her, then pauses. "Old temple?"

"Collapsed in a storm, about twenty years ago," she said. "It's bad luck, don't go near it."

"Who was the god of the temple?"

"Yan Wang," she whispers, looking uncomfortable. He drops the topic, pays her, and goes on, thinking.

Death, and final judgement - these things should frighten him, but all they bring is the dull feeling of inevitability. He intends to seek out Menshen, but his mind keeps going back to the destroyed temple. Why had it been destroyed? Gods fought, he knew that. Perhaps the storm had been an attack from a new god, an interloper -

- perhaps the ghostly patron of a new upstart of a cult.

It's only a guess, but it's tempting. He turns in the direction of the old temple, then stops. It would be unwise to go alone.

Kun looks a little nervous, but resolute; Jingyi is unperturbed; and Jun promptly brings up the obvious flaws in the plan. "What if the god has abandoned his ruined temple? What if he is angry, after being neglected for so long?"

Dewang sighs. "That's all true - but I think it's our best chance."

Surprisingly, Jun doesn't argue, but shrugs philosophically. It doesn't take long for the four of them to gather suitable offerings, and within an hour or so they are off to the ruined shrine.
  • 2

Then the LORD said to me, "Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes."

Hosea 3:1
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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE184

Postby Scarik » Sat Mar 02, 2019 10:57 pm

Dewang

The ruined temple was once a grand structure and fear of its destruction must be strong indeed for such a space to go unused for so long in the cramped space of a great city. Houses press against it from all sides and then stop abruptly at the overgrown flagstone path that surrounds the low walls.

In many places even these stone defenses have crumbled or been shot through by roots and bamboo. The old gate is entirely collapsed, only tall bamboo stands were its pillars once soared and their canopy even replaces the great archway. Strangle though the path is largely clear and easily walkable.

Once inside it is like entering a forest complete with the sounds of forest creatures and stray animals. Cats abound and small dogs even as well as red-bellied squirrels among the shaded boughs and bird songs. But despite the throng of life the place still feels lonely, empty and sad.

A minute later they reach the steps of the shattered temple and among the foliage they can clearly see the scorch marks from lightning strikes and wind-scattered tiles broken all over. Even the fish ponds have been broken and now form dozens of shallow pools and rivulets where rain water from the canopy still filters down.

Inside, or more properly, what would once have been inside and is now open to the sky, the altar is grown over with moss. It is flanked by broken and weathered offering bowls and small places for minor deities but all the icons are gone. Not merely destroyed, but stolen away entirely.

But no one thought to take the bones of priests. They like about the alter clutching prayer strings and wearing the decayed remains of their ceremonial robes.
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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE184

Postby Kivutar » Sat Mar 02, 2019 11:27 pm

The three of them walk slowly through the plants and ruins, not pausing till they reach the altar. The skeletons of the unfortunate priests make them all stop short, and Dewang's apprentices look at him nervously.

The ghosts of the priests are probably lingering, but it's far too late to worry about them - and besides, mere human ghosts are the least of their worries. Dewang approaches the altar and kneels. A few moments later, the others join him.
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Then the LORD said to me, "Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes."

Hosea 3:1
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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE184

Postby CarrieVS » Sun Mar 03, 2019 12:34 am

Beyond the screen Baozi sees exactly what he would have expected in the atrium of a magistrate's palace. Everything is beautiful and richly decorated. The many servants bustling back and forth are smartly dressed and much too busy to pay any attention to a cat in the entrance hall, though they have certainly seen him.

He watches the toing and froing for a minute, and then trots straight across the atrium as though he knows exactly where he is going. Which after a fashion, he does, since this house will be laid out like any other with the principal members of the family dwelling in the northern part, beyond the central shrine. That seems the logical place to start.

He keeps close to the walls where he can, and trots briskly across open spaces where he can't. Not furtive exactly, but now that he is inside the house there may not be quite so much success in deliberately drawing attention.
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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE184

Postby Scarik » Sun Mar 03, 2019 1:26 am

Dewang

Everyone knows what Yan Wang looks like so even without his statue to direct their attention toward they can visualize him and draw his name as their focus.

So they light the incense and serve the offerings to the God of Death and Judgement but even their devotions and sorcerers knowledge does nothing to gain the god's attention. Perhaps he has left this place altogether after all.

They are left there for some time as they go through all the rites they know of until, quite surprisingly, a man's voice comes from behind them.

"Lord Yama will not hear you here anymore."

They turn to see a barefoot mendicant with a walking staff and burlap sack sitting on part of the old pond wall. He is middle aged and weathered and Dewang expects he is quite strong from the gnarled look of his forearms.

"Long ago he was banished, sent into exile of a sort by the new god of death," the man says with a tired sigh.

It also seems that they are not the only ones to be surprised by the mendicant's sudden arrival either. A quite poisonous, but non-aggressive, tiger-striped snake has partly climbed the vines on the wall to appraise him and a large, soft-shelled turtle raises its head with a mouthful of algae when he speaks.


Baozi

The last room Baozi passes through in the southern wing is the audience hall. Beyond there the house is no longer a public space where petitioners come to see the magistrate but the private residence of the Hui family and its many branches.

The magistrate does not appear to be present though there are a dozen of so people waiting for him.

Servants still go about their tasks and so Baozi gets through the door when a eunuch enters from the rear of the chamber and nearly trips over him.

"Bah, cursed beast!" he shouts after the cat and he gathers up his robes and frowns at were he stepped on the hem.

Another short corridor befor the very center of the home opens up in a cavernous, high-vaulted room inset with scores, perhaps even a hundred, small shrines to different ancestors. They are arranged throughout the room with those on the north being the most grand as they are the direct ancestors of the main family. Their statures are made of solid gold and dressed in fine silks and jewels. The lesser family ancestors though are hardly less impressive though made of silver and bronze rather than gold.

The center of the room contains the shrines to the gods of the house with the grandest one facing due south. That it is dominated by a single shrine above the others is not surprising though that it is not the Jade Emperor is as well as the more obvious fact that it is set into a giant oak tree that grows from the floor and spreads its canopy beneath a ceiling of exquisite glass.

Much of the glass is a startling white hue that, while opaque as most glasses, allows light to suffuse through and gives the higher branches and boughs a surreal glow. The rest is well made sorts of many colors as well as what seems to be real jades rather than glass facsimiles.

The tree itself is carefully cultivated and cared form with several gardeners working on it all day. A pair are carefully churning the earth to maintain proper moisture without disturbing those at prayer or dirtying the pristine floor. Another is up in the branches pruning back leaves so that the light filters through from above to keep the shrines touched by the odd glow.

The main shrine itself is a statue of a woman in a green dress and skin made of pure porcelain sitting beside a real pond with actual fish, including young carp that are raised inside before being transferred to the outer pools. In the recess behind her the living oak itself is carved into a fearsome dragon coiled so that it seems to both be protecting and menacing the woman though she appears unaware of its presence.
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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE184

Postby CarrieVS » Tue Mar 05, 2019 1:26 am

He dismisses the gardeners, the servants, and the priest and his assistants, but Baozi watches the three people who are there praying. By their dress they are all wealthy, no doubt members of the family, and while the two middle aged women are not of especial interest to him, the man kneeling at the main shrine could well be the head of the household, the magistrate. It may be worth trying to hear if he is praying for anything in particular.

He pads closer to the central shrine, his eyes focused on the pond while his ears are elsewhere, although he does not approach close enough to risk the gardeners stepping in to defend the fish - at least, he hopes they won't.
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