[Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE189

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[Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE189

Postby Scarik » Sun Oct 20, 2019 1:13 am

Spring 189

Seasons go by like water in the river and the Three Brothers find their land is prosperous and quiet. Bandits no longer trouble their people in the north for fear of their cavalry and rebels find no sympathy among the people for further unrest.

To the south in Hedong the White Wave Bandits are contained. It is said that there are thousands of these bandits in those mountains and woods but they are fractious and the State is united and fierce in its discipline. They too fear the spears of Hu Qu.

Other than the growing wealth and content of the people and what seems the clear favor of Xuanwu over the Brothers little comes to pass. The two youxia develop a small following and continue to go out and see that justice is done for the people though they do it in the name now of Xuande and Master Du.

In the Autumn of 188 the Emperor sent out a command to the governors to consolidate Imperial Rule and gave them dispensation to raise forces for the state for that purpose. It is hardly like the mobilization of the Yellow Turban Rebellion, but it is nonetheless a militarization.

Because of this order walls are built around what is now the trading town of Bu Qu, and one hundred men are permanently attached to its garrison to keep order at the docks and among the many merchants and travelers who pass through each day. Greater trade requires larger and more frequent patrols as well and so Baozi is left with the task of apportioning funds to support these additional troops.

He has many options but the one with the most support is a tax at the docks for cargoes and another at the new gates of foot traffic for those who seek entry to the town with goods.

But for the virtuous there is never a wont of their valor...

It is late spring when the Imperial Inspector arrives in Hu Qu. He is a eunuch by the name of Du Biao and he comes with two score elite guards. When Baozi goes to welcome him the man gives a dismissive wave with his riding crop and commandeers the magistrate's offices. In contrast to Lu Bu's inspection of the records Du Biao asks no questions nor does he answer any from Baozi nor even deign to dien with him and discuss his findings.

It is three days of this insulting behavior before the Inspector summons Baozi to him and accuses him of corruption.

"You are a warlord clothed in scholar's robes Mao Xu. You have harmed the people by this military adventurism! Do you think yourself so mighty that you can invade your neighbors?"

He gives no time for Baozi to speak in his own defense, cutting him off with a wave and adding, "There are witnesses in Xi He and Hedong to your misdeeds, now get out while I consider your sentence."

With that Baozi is dismissed.
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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE189

Postby Kivutar » Mon Oct 28, 2019 12:16 am

Baozi is almost relieved not to be permitted to speak - he is not sure that he could have, and to have nothing to say in his defense would be the next thing to an admission of guilt. He hurries away.

Is it possible that Du Biao was sent with instructions to find him at fault? That is surely farfetched, and it is even harder to see how he could bear a personal grudge when Baozi has never had anything to do with him before. He concludes that the inspector’s report will depend upon how much he is bribed.

Dewang and Wenchang listen to Baozi’s story, horrified. “Why should we pay him?” says Wenchang, furious. “We’ve done nothing wrong!”

“I would never bribe him to lie,” Baozi answers, “but if I was only getting him to tell the truth then the only moral blame would be his. But it doesn’t matter, because I don’t think we can find the money.”

“He should be ashamed of himself,” snaps Wenchang.

Dewang speaks up. “He could be made ashamed of himself.”

Baozi and Wenchang turn to him, confused. “If he has no better feelings, at least he could be made to fear the judgement of Heaven.”

“Are you thinking of talking to him?” says Baozi. “You’re a good talker, Ge Dewang, but I don’t know how far that would go with this fellow. Besides, he won’t talk to anyone except poor Zhuzi.”

“Dreams can affect a man in a way no number of words could,” says Dewang. “If he could see what awaits him for his sins, that would give him pause… believe me, I know. It wouldn’t be easy, and I’d need a part of him, but it could be done.”

Wenchang still looks confused, but then understanding dawns. “Ah, sorcery. I’ll leave that to you two, then.” He goes off to do his own business, and Baozi and Dewang continue to confer.

That night, as Dewang meditates and makes his preparations, a small, ordinary-looking cat slips into Du Biao’s room. The eunuch is fast asleep, and the cat’s keen nose helps him find a few hairs without too much difficulty. With them in his mouth, he slinks out as silently as he had entered.




“Do you want to stay for this?” asks Dewang, reaching out to take the hairs.

“Of course,” Baozi answers immediately, then pauses. “If I will not be in the way?” Imagine if Dewang asked to watch his transformation. But he asked...

“Not at all.”

As Dewang prepares his sorcery, It occurs to Baozi that they are alone. “Where are your apprentices?” he asks.

“I’ll ask Fuli to help if I need her, but I would prefer to do it myself.”

It doesn’t seem particularly dramatic. Baozi knows a little of the practices of his Di ancestor, but this seems nothing like it. Dewang gets some paper and writes a little, strange characters, not ones that Baozi can read, though it looks familiar in a few places. That done, he sits and meditates, the hair held loosely in his hands. Soon, however, he can feel a change in the atmosphere, and then, somewhere in his mind, a gong clashes. He doesn’t know it, but it’s louder to Dewang and much louder to Du Biao, who believes that he has startled awake. Then the dream begins.

Baozi can see the apparitions dimly, and they are quite horrific. Flames shoot all around the edges of his vision, and various hideous demons torture the shade of Du Biao in strangely fitting ways. One pours molten gold down his throat, another stretches his fingers to grotesque lengths, a third runs red-hot needles through his tongue. The fourth cackles and urges them on. “Thus we treat all corrupt officials!” it booms, looking them - and doubtless the dreaming Du Biao as well - directly in the eye. It blinks its yellow eyes once, twice - and then the eyes grow bigger and bigger, and the flames surrounding them reflect off the glassy surfaces, and then their own eyes, back and forth, until it seems that the eyes themselves are the source of the inferno, and they are falling in -

It cuts off abruptly. “That will have to do,” says Dewang, breathing heavily. He doesn’t look at Baozi. “Please, go.”



The next morning, Du Biao finally speaks to Baozi. He is as white as paper, and his arrogant manner much subdued. “I have decided not to recommend that you be removed from office,” he says. “I have seen no evidence of wrongdoing. The witnesses must have exaggerated. But beware! The temptations of power are great. Swear an oath that you will not abuse it!”

“I never will.” Baozi willingly swears the oath. If the inspector knew it, abandoning his post is usually more tempting than misusing it. But he must not do that either: it would be wrong to his brothers, and prove him unworthy of the trust that has been placed in him.



Dewang doesn't move after Baozi leaves, but sits in place, still as a statue. No one looking at him would have guessed how frantically he is trying to calm himself.

"You didn't have to do it alone, you know." says a soft voice.

Dewang's head snaps up. "Cuiying? How did you-"

Cuiying gestures at the papers on the floor.

"You're as bad as Zaitian," sighs Dewang.

"Well, you also woke Fuli up."

Dewang brings his hand to his mouth. "Is she all right?" he asks, anxiously. "I didn't think…"

"Of course, she's fine. She saw what you were doing, and how hard it was. But she hesitated to disturb you." Cuiying sits down in front of him.

"But you do not hesitate," says Dewang resignedly. "All right. I can show you how to do it, if you like, though most likely you won't be able to for some years-"

Cuiying shakes his head. "That's not it, Master Du. You could have asked us to help you, or even just to be here. It might have been easier."

"I had my younger brother," says Dewang stiffly.

"Did he make things easier?"

"I try not to burden him. Them. You," says Dewang quietly.

"Master Du… I am not asking you to share your secrets, but we all see them eating at you. Perhaps we, or your brothers, could help you to bear them. Or at least the pain of them."

Dewang looks down. "I can't ask that."

"You asked us when you employed us," says Cuiying, bluntly. "And again, that autumn, when we visited the tree. Isn't it time you trusted us, just a little?"

"Perhaps you're right," says Dewang. "If you want to hear the whole truth, from the beginning, I'll tell you. You will not like it."

"Tell me anyway."



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Last edited by Kivutar on Mon Oct 28, 2019 12:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE189

Postby CarrieVS » Mon Oct 28, 2019 12:19 am

Kiv wrote nearly all of it and all the good bits, and chivvied me on to get my bits done.
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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE189

Postby Scarik » Wed Oct 30, 2019 11:22 pm

In fear for his soul Du Biao leaves the next day for Jinyang where he files a simple report about how Bu Qu is in compliance with its obligations and Magistrate Mao is to thank for it. He makes a note of discrepancies from prior years as well, things he intended to pin on Baozi, but for some reason chose to attribute to the previous magistrate.

Ding Yuan reads the report, as well as those of other inspectors (both Central and Provincial) and determines that Guo Si shall not be promoted, rewarded, nor even mentioned to the Court, but he does include that the change in the revenues from Bu Qu is due to the actions of Mao Xu.

Two weeks later, when the post has gone and returned Lu Bu goes to his father and demands to know what Guo Si is being sidelined. Gossip says the argument was heated and that General Lu stormed off afterward.

A month later Guo Si abandons his post in Bingzhou for a position in Liangzhou under the command of Governor Dong Zhuo.

Lu Bu is said to have complained that Ding Yuan is to blame despite how non-filial such a statement is about one's superior and one's adoptive father. Whatever the truth of it, Ding Yuan says nothing on the matter...

...Until a summons for Baozi arrives commanding him to attend the governor in 5 days. It is a 6 day ride at least from Bu Qu to Jinyang under most circumstances and that is considered to be hasty and hard on horses.

He will have to ride hard to make the trip in that time...

With Wenchang's fine horse Baozi makes the trip just in time, though his companions and his guards are nearly a day behind.

Once there he rushes to the palace for his audience with the governor. He is met by clerks who bring him to see Administrator Zhang Yang (Zhishu)*

"Ah, Magistrate Mao, it is good you have come. There was some concern you would not arrive in time. You have a few moments while I alert Governor Ding to your arrival."

The Administrator departs after having a servant show Baozi to a small room with a bowl of warm water and a small mirror where he can get some of the mud of the road off and change into his court robes. It won't be his finest appearance but at least he won't look like a cat caught in the rain.

Just barely finished he is brought by guards to the a chamber off the main court hall where he finds Governor Ding, General Lu, Zhang Yang, and Hou Chen who is the magistrate of Han Gu.

The governor holds a scroll bearing the Imperial Seal and orders wine brought to the officials. When it is poured he stands up, prompting all those present to do so as well, and announces,

"Emperor Ling is dead, may the reign of his son be long."

He turns his cup over and let's the wine fall to the floor. The others follow and then Ding Yuan sits back down and has more wine poured, this time for them to toast the Han and actually drink.

When the formalities are done he holds up the letter to show them all the seal and then hands it to ZHang Yang to read aloud.

"Prime Minister He Jin commands Governor Ding Yuan to bring the army of Bingzhou to the capital and secure the city against the Eunuch Faction who have..." he stops in disbelief, "who have taken over the palace and are attempting to control the capital."

The Governor says what they all think, "There is a succession crisis between central factions who mean to gain control of the emperor and act as Regent in place of the Empress Dowager. Emperor Ling never named a Crown Prince so both factions claim their prince is favored, whether that is Liu Shao, son of Empress He and nephew of He Jin or Liu Xie who is said to be preferred by Empress Dowager Dong."

He shakes his head, "I have long been friends with the eunuch Jian Shuo, who now leads the Ten Attendants. He claims that Emperor Ling preferred Liu Xie, son of Consort Wang who is related to Interior Minister Wang Yun. I do not know which case is correct, but I intend to go and find out. I will honor He Jin's summons and to do so I must have every soldier we can spare."

"To this end I shall marshal forces here in the capital, Secretary Lu shall go to Yan Commandery, Administrator ZHang will go to Shang Dang, Magistrate Hou will go to Han Gu and Magistrate Mao will go to Xi He Commandery."

Lu Bu is the only choice to rally the mountain folk and their Xiong Nu allies, if only to remind them that they best not cause trouble while the governor is away. To do so Lu Bu will demand hostages no doubt and soldiers from each. They will not dare challenge him like they might another commander.

Hou Chen clearly expected to get the Xi He position rather than staying at his current post. Instead he sees Mao Xu get a promotion past him. Han Gu is a better position than Bu Qu, but Xi He is a full commandery and thus much greater is status.

Only Zhang Yang seems truly pleased. He has desired to be away from the city for some time ever since he first quelled the bandits in Shang Dang two years ago.

The governor's clerks have prepared his orders and he applies his seal to each in the presence of all the gathered officers.

"We will muster individually and then make for Guan Du. Once there we will combine our forces and march to Luoyang. I expect to be in Guan Du in 25 days. Gather your soldiers accordingly."

The clerks deliver each officer their orders and the chain of their office whereupon they are dismissed though they might be able to impose on the governor for a few moments if they wished. Zhang Yan has no need and Lu Bu speaks with Hou Chen before the latter departs and Lu Bu goes to speak with the governor.

If Mao Xu wishes to say anything then he will need to be quick







*He and Baozi are of approximately the same rank.
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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE189

Postby Kivutar » Sat Nov 02, 2019 2:14 pm

Baozi returns to the others hastily and tells them the news. They confer, then turn and make for Xi He as fast as they can.
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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE189

Postby CarrieVS » Sun Nov 03, 2019 2:17 am

It is five days ride to Xi He. When they arrive they are greeted warmly by Lao Ren, the chief clerk of the county. He is elderly and looks exhausted. He explains that Guo Si stole away in the night, taking his guards and as much treasure as he could lay his and on and deserting his post. Lao Ren has done his best to run everything since then - he does not voice any complaint but it is clear that he is relieved that someone has been sent to take charge. He is delighted that it is Mao Xu.

“I have heard of your success in Hu Qu, and how the county has prospered under your governance. I am sure you will do as much for Xi He.”

Baozi cannot quite meet his eyes. “I am afraid that I have been sent to muster Xi He’s troops for war. We can only remain here twelve days and then we will have to march.” It is seven days by boat to Guan Du from Hu Qu, and one to get there and embark.

“I see.” Lao Ren seems to age a few more years at the prospect of being left alone in his responsibilities again, and says anxiously, “I am afraid that any diminishment of the garrison will be an invitation to the Mountain Witches - a company of women bandits who trouble this county sorely.”

“I will try not to do that - but I may have to take some of the regular soldiers, and leave fresh conscripts in their place.”

“I suppose that needs must. We will make do.”

Baozi asks about the number and condition of the existing soldiers - concerned that they may be as dissolute and corrupt as those they had originally found in Hu Qu, many of whom had deserted rather than serve under Wenchang. But Lao Ren assures him that those loyal to Guo Si had gone with him, and most of the garrison are largely free of his influence. They are not bad soldiers: there are two hundred men, and a quarter are veterans.

It should be possible to recruit five hundred conscripts, which should be enough to satisfy expectations. But they will need some trained men to stiffen their ranks - Baozi confers with Wenchang and Lao Ren and they settle on taking half of the infantry from each county, leaving conscripts in their place, and additionally bringing Hu Qu’s cavalry. Five hundred infantry, two fifths of them trained soldiers, and fifty good horsemen should be sufficient without weakening the garrison too badly.

There is a great deal to arrange, to conscript several hundred men into the army’s ranks, equip them, and ensure that they at least know how to hold a spear. To prepare half of the regular garrison for travel and assign their replacements to their posts. To arrange boats and supplies for the journey. But there are a few other problems that must be considered.

Baozi takes Dewang aside. “How will Liao Hua and Tang Feng take it that we are leaving, and taking the people to war? I am very grateful for what they have done for us, but if they are going to start preaching rebellion again in our absence...”

“They will not,” Dewang replies, “I believe I have their loyalty, more than I really deserve. I will ask them not to and you can be easy on that front.”

The Bull and her Vixens are a different matter. Lao Ren confirms that the “Mountain Witches” wear red masks and cloaks, and there is no doubt that they are the same.

“We know of them,” Baozi assures him, “I will think on what to do about them.” He is reluctant to admit what he has in mind, but later he talks to his brothers. “I know Niu Mu has no love for us, but I believe she and her women truly hate the corrupt officials who have been in charge here in the past. If she knows that Guo Si has left - which she may not yet - I don’t imagine it would turn her from her path but perhaps it would make her reconsider any drastic action for the time being.”

Dewang and Wenchang agree that it is worth a try, and Wenchang agrees to send some of his troops - he wisely selects women - with a banner of peace to take the message.

The last problem is Lao Ren himself. Since Guo Si’s desertion the old man has been struggling to keep up with all the work of running the commandery, and seems like to work himself into his grave if he has to keep it up. They cannot stay to ease his burden, but Baozi is determined to at least appoint someone to assist him. “But I don’t know anyone here, and there is no time to find a capable person.”

“Zibin is a good administrator,” Dewang suggests, “and I am sure he will be willing to help if I ask him.” He rides back to Hu Qu and stays for a day, to speak to his teachers and make some arrangements for the temple and school in his absence, as he intends to accompany the army as quartermaster, and returns with the two Youxia. Tang Feng will indeed take up the post, for Master Du’s sake.

Finally, all is as ready as it can be, and there is no more time even if it were not. They set out.
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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE189

Postby Scarik » Tue Nov 05, 2019 1:42 am

Hectic as the days are they pass quickly and without incident and soon they are on river aboard several dozen merchant barges and fishing boats.

They head out each morning and put into shore each night. These are not sailing ships by any means and have no ability to hold onto men, horses and provisions all at once with any decency. Shore is the only place to cook and clean and tend the horses. It is a cumbersome process even on the flat barges and takes an hour each day and each night.

Had they real river ships the journey of seven days could be done in four.

But so it is, on the appointed day, they land at Guan Du on the southern bank of the mighty Yellow River. Other soldiers of Bingzhou are still making the crossing by ferry from the northern shore and when they reach the town, which Lu Bu has occupied ahead of the governor's arrival, the General welcomes them inside the main government hall.

"Ah, the Heroes join us once more, and they come as first among equals. You are the first of the magistrates to arrive, Baozi, it seems the others lack your discipline and sense of duty." He says the last part in praise but with a dark look as if his mind is on those with less such virtue.

They stay with Lu Bu in the town that night while their contribution to the army camps outside the town limits. Guan Du is a fishing town much like Hu Qu but with its more central location it is much larger and wealthier. It is the main route for goods to flow across the river to the northern provinces.

Indeed, though it is but an unwalled port, it is a full county of its own with a population rivaling that of Jinyang with some 8,000 households. All of Xi He commandery has but 5000 by comparison.

Governor Ding crosses the next day, cursing at the mud, accompanied by Hou Chen. In total they have just over 2500 soldiers, among them 600 cavalry. Hou Chen and Governor Ding's contingents are much like Baozi's own with at least three-quarters infantry and much of it new conscripts stiffened by veteran line sergeants. Lu Bu brough no infantry at all, but his 400 cavalry are all skilled warriors including Xiong Nu barbarians and their laminated bows, as well as heavily armored Han lancers and skirmishers.

In all Hou Chen's force is equivalent to Baozi's and it sees Major Dang as its deputy commander. Ding Yuan's force is equal in size to both the Han Gu and Xi He force combined and then Lu Bu adds much needed cavalry.

Zhang Yang's presence is felt only in messengers, who claim he is marching hard but impeded by the mud, and in Lu Bu's glower at the mention of the man's name.

Ding Yuan decides not to wait until Zhang Yang can join them and they march out the next morning with their light cavalry ranging ahead and messengers speeding off to get more current news.

Its only another two days to the capital along the well-maintained roads. They arrive late in the day by the east gate where they are challenged by soldiers loyal to Yuan Shao. Ding Yuan demands to see the Duke and men scurry off to obey.

Without knowing how the troops are deployed inside the walls of the capital the governor wisely camps outside the gate to the north of the road 1li back so that no ambush by stealth or arrow can come at them. He orders the men to dig in as if they plan to be here for at least a week.

The next day, messengers are exchanged and Ding yuan calls together his officers, " Yuan Shao holds the eastern gate and most of that side of the city. Dong Zhuo, holds the west and the Eunuchs are barricaded in the palace at the southern wall."

The North gate of the city is of no use in a siege as it is too small to march an army, being in reality several small gates out into the industrial quarter including the tanners, dyers, fishmongers, and others whose odor offended the Emperor and so, by law, the must remain outside of the wall.

"Duke Yuan has organized a parley for tonight. Lu Bu and Mao Xu will accompany me with 50 horse and 50 foot. Hou Chen will hold the camp until my return."
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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE189

Postby Ladki96 » Tue Nov 05, 2019 8:20 pm

Baozi, allowed to bring a bodyguard and a clerk, chooses his brothers but Wenchang declines. The brothers are surprised but he stays stubborn. He has no desire to be around all these so-called leaders like Dong Zhuo and Yuan Shao, who are clearly against the corrupt eunuchs only because they wish the power for themselves! The years have only strengthened Wenchang's misgivings against the Han State, with the knowledge that men like Mao Xu and Ding Yuan are few and far in between. He has no qualms telling his brothers so in private.

"Besides," he adds, "Someone should keep an eye on the troops, and it has been ages since I saw Elder Brother. I wish to pay my respects." (and possibly meet Hou Chen, and make a powerful ally, as good budding warlords do friend!)

To that end, Baozi takes Dewang and, at Wenchang's suggestion, Zhang Liao along. Dewang brings his Treatise of Truth. Wenchang makes sure the troops are settled in and goes in search of his other bro to catch up.
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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE189

Postby Kivutar » Fri Nov 08, 2019 12:31 am

Dewang accompanies Baozi to the meeting, as a clerk. Wenchang prefers to stay behind in order to feel out Hou Chen - afterwards, he tells them that the man is loyal more to Lu Bu than to Ding Yuan, but by that time they have more urgent things to worry about.

They learn that the capital is, impossibly, more chaotic than they had first learned. The palace has been stormed, the eunuchs killed by Yuan Shao and Cao Cao. The young emperor and prince were taken out of the city in the confusion, but had been rescued by Dong Zhuo of all people.

There follows a long political banquet, and Dewang is just whispering to Baozi how tedious it is, when suddenly Dong Zhuo gets to his feet. All eyes turn to him, and he announces:

“I have something to say; listen quietly all of you. The emperor is lord of all; and if he lacks dignity and behaves in an unseemly manner, he is no fitting inheritor of the ancestral prerogatives. He who is now on the throne is a weakling, inferior to the Prince of Chenliu in intelligence and love of learning. The Prince is in every way fitted for the throne. I desire to depose the Emperor and set up the Prince in his place. What think you?”

There is a shocked silence. Some of the attendants, such as Lu Zhi, look horrified; others, especially Yuan Shao and his faction, are harder to read. But no one moves, until Ding Yuan leaps up.

“No! No! Who are you that you dare utter such bold words? The Emperor is the son of the lawful consort and has done no wrong. Why then should he be deposed? Are you a rebel?”

Glaring, Dong Zhuo roars, “There is life for those who are with me, death for those against!”

At that, the horrible silence turns into an uproar. Dong Zhuo pulls out his sword, and beside Ding Yuan, Lu Bu strikes the butt of his halberd against the floor, which cracks. Half the guests begin shouting, most of them for calm. Wang Yun steps closer to Dong Zhuo, and behind him, a younger man, probably Li Ru, puts his hand on Dong Zhuo’s arm and whispers frantically. Lu Bu is snarling insults, and Dong Zhuo briefly turns his eyes towards him before backing down. But there is no question that the matter is only begun.

Governor Ding leaves at once, and they with him of course. There is a battle the very next morning, which is short and goes their way, mainly due to a mad cavalry charge by Lu Bu, whose rage at the insult to the Governor has not died down. Even when they have pushed the enemy back and the battle is over, he continues to ride around furiously, threatening to kill more or less everyone. The next day Ding Yuan prepares to take his army inside and remove Dong Zhuo by force. There is not so much as a squeak from anyone else.

Dewang consults his scroll; the writing from yesterday has not yet faded away. It tells him that Lu Zhi is truly loyal to the Emperor, but that Wang Yun’s ambition is greater than his loyalty, and that he will support Dong Zhuo. He reports this to Ding Yuan, who does not recognize him at first, then laughs. “So your brother made you a military clerk, did he? No law against that. Try to attract less attention than you did at Ping Yuan!”

He is interested to hear that at least Lu Zhi can be trusted, and sends a letter at once. Lu Zhi responds soon afterwards, and Dewang, who is keeping his eyes and ears open, hears that Dong Zhuo is sending an old friend of Lu Bu’s to try and win him over. Thank Heaven for Wenchang's efforts - his brother has managed to make useful friends.

Dewang knows what sort of man Lu Bu is, and goes to consult with his brothers at once. They agree: all of them are in danger, unless they find some way to ensure Lu Bu’s loyalty. But how? His father treats him well; what else can they do?

“We must stoke his fury,” says Dewang. “Make it seem impossible that he could ever follow Dong Zhuo.”

“Lu Bu’s moods change like the winds,” says Baozi. “What could you ever say that he wouldn’t forget when he glimpses gold or fame?”

Dewang considers what he has seen of General Lu. His brutality, his hopeless aspirations to scholarship, his odd flashes of generosity, the destruction he leaves in his wake, the incongruous gentleness he had shown his wife during the riot Wenchang had once started - ah, there might be something.

“What if we told him Dong Zhuo was after his wife?”

Wenchang and Baozi consider it. “It would make him angry, for certain,” says Wenchang.

“And Lady Yan herself, for that matter,” adds Baozi. “She is a barbarian princess, unused to such insults. If she heard such a rumour, she would goad him, which would only help us.”

After agreeing on the story (Wenchang immediately takes things further, and suggests that they tell every officer in the army that Dong Zhuo is after their wives, but Baozi and Dewang insist that a more specific story is both more credible and more infuriating), Wenchang and Dewang both go their separate ways, drinking with the men and repeating the gossip to anyone who listens.

By evening, people are repeating it back to them, with various lurid details that they certainly did not invent. Baozi spots Lu Bu storming by, the scowl on his face showing that he has heard it as well, and reports this to Dewang. After a hasty conference - Baozi thinks of several clever arguments that Dewang might never have thought of - the sorcerer approaches the general at once.

It is not hard to flatter Lu Bu - the man’s ego is so overpowering that it never occurs to him that Dewang might be insincere. He delicately tells the general of the outrageous rumour, and Lu Bu clenches his jaw, but shakes his head dismissively. “It is only soldier’s gossip. He would never dare!”

“He would never dare, while you oppose him,” says Dewang. “But he has barricaded himself in the palace, and threatens the person of the Emperor himself. What would such a man not dare? If he were to force His Highness to declare you an outlaw, even you could do nothing!”

Lu Bu looks dubious. “It is possible,” he says.

“There is a way to find out,” continues Dewang. “He will try to bring you closer to him, in order to carry out his vile purpose. If someone comes to persuade you, you will know what he is after!”

As if on cue, the messenger arrives, and he is an old friend of Lu Bu’s. “Li Su?” says the general. “But we are from the same town, we fought the Xiong Nu together. Li Su would never betray me!"

“He has his master, and you have yours,” points out Dewang. But Li Su’s gifts are lavish - a thousand taels of gold, pearls and a jeweled belt - and then the horse is led out. Dewang has never seen such a horse before - it is larger than the heaviest farm-horse, but lean and powerful, and its coat is red and glows like the sun. Beside any ordinary horse, even Wenchang’s fine beast, it would look like Lu Bu standing among common soldiers. Lu Bu can’t take his eyes off it, and Dewang’s sorcerer’s eyes see even more - the horse is Lu Bu, or Lu Bu is the horse. Their energies are one and the same. Whatever Dewang tells him, Lu Bu will have Red-Hare.

But, horse or no horse, Lu Bu has not forgotten about his wife. "And all I need to do for this treasure is make my daughter's mother a whore and forsake all my oaths!"

Li Su protests. “No! My lord is honourable, and only wants to reward you as you deserve. Even someone like me has become captain of the Imperial Guard! Think of what you could do under Lord Dong.”'

Lu Bu pauses, and either sensing his advantage or not wishing to risk staying longer, Li Su smugly takes his leave.

Dewang hesitates a moment, then makes up his mind. He bursts out laughing.

“You think this amusing?” snaps Lu Bu, but Dewang shakes his head. “The audacity of Dong Zhuo! To try to deceive you, by offering you what is already yours!”

“Already mine?” He certainly has Lu Bu’s attention.

“Yes. Allow me -” He raises his hand, and makes the energies linking Lu Bu and the horse visible. Then, as Lu Bu’s jaw drops, he exaggerates it a little, and great red streams of light appear, binding the man and the horse together. The strongest and brightest shines between Red-Hare’s heart and Lu Bu’s, and the enormous horse lowers its head as if to bow.

“See?” says Dewang. “He knows his master.”

Lu Bu smiles in delight and leaps onto the majestic horse's back, riding him all around the camp in moments. Finally, he returns and claps Dewang on the back, nearly knocking him down. “I will spare my friend, he only did as his master demanded. I will slay Dong Zhuo for this insult. To think that Lu Bu could be bought like a courtesan. When I catch him I will feed him his gold!”

“He will regret the day he insulted you!” says Dewang, and prepares to leave, but Lu Bu stops him. To his surprise, he hands him the jeweled belt. “It is not much, but without you I would never have suspected my old friend and shudder at what fate may have befallen me.”

“Oh,” says Dewang. “I can’t accept it. Er, I am only a priest. Jewels are more suitable for warriors…”

"Then give it to Xuanwu, warrior above all others,” shrugs Lu Bu, and picks up the pearls. “These, I will give to my wife, to recompense her for this insult.” He disappears at once to carry out this task, and Dewang makes his way back to his brothers, relieved and a little disgusted.
  • 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."

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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE189

Postby Scarik » Sat Nov 09, 2019 6:13 am

Ding Yuan listens to news of the plot to turn Lu Bu against him with a dour face. When the tale is finished he stands up and walks over to his adopted son, taking the larger man by the shoulders,

"Fengxian," he begins affectionately, using his style name instead of the given name as is a father's right. "You are a son beyond what this old man could have hoped for, and I wish I could reward you with the honor you have earned. It is not much, but all that I have is yours."

He calls Mao Xu over to make it official and when the document is prepared Governor Ding seals it and says to all present, "Let this be read by Emperor Shao, long may he reign the men cry!." He hands the scroll back to Baozi and the officers toast through the night.

Meanwhile....

Dong Zhuo is in a rage. He claps Li Su across the head, "I should have you flogged," he bellows, but his son-in-law Li Ru intervenes with a whisper.

The obese warlord harrumphs and relents, dismissing Li Su with an idle wave, then sits down to eat.

"This is a disaster," Dong Zhuo proclaims with a cup of wine and a shank of mutton in his hands. "I have no great warriors in my service, and I am trapped here in the palace where I will surely die." He eats enough for two men.

"Father," Li Ru says pleadingly, "You are the mighty lord of the west, a vast and rich land. Ding Yuan is but the steward of the cold, mountainous north. Even now, Hua Xiong and Jia Xu are mustering your people and withing a month they will come with 10,000 soldiers to scatter your enemies."

Dong Zhuo is not swayed, "Bah! Lu Bu is worth a thousand soldiers on his own, and my enemy has Wei Yan as well and no doubt Ma Teng will seize this chance to assail me with his barbarian cavalry. And even if we could give battle my enemy has Mao Xu! Name a man who can defeat the strategist who defeated Zhang Jue!" Dong Zhuo hurls his stripped bones down into golden bowl and, in his rage, flings the lot against the wall.

Li Ru stays silent a long moment.

"Father, what you say is true, but Yuan Shao still sits idle, and he fears Gongsun Zan to his east with Bingzhou to his west."

"Bah," Dong Zhuo dismisses him, lost in his melancholy.

"That is not all," Li Ru declares, "Ding Yuan still employs the sorcerer Du Zhiteng in defiance of the edicts. If he dares to bring a magician to the capital how can you, the defender of the Han, not do the same?"

That catches the fat lord's attention, "Go on," he mutters through a mouth full of chicken grease.

"Zhang Liang still lives. Call on him to aid you, command him in the name of Heaven to come with his army and dislodge the true enemy of the people!"
  • 3

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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE189

Postby CarrieVS » Wed Nov 13, 2019 12:59 am

Ding Yuan has no choice but to besiege the capital. He gathers his captains and advisers to make plans.

“I do not need a genius in strategy to tell me that it could take months to win by siege, and my enemy can expect more reinforcements than I can, if it does.”

Several of his listeners glance at Baozi, who looks down at his feet, but speaks up after a moment. “For the moment you have a breathing space. Dong Zhuo will not dare to come out and give us battle. You must make the best use of the time you have to recruit allies to the Emperor’s cause. There are many who have not come to one side or the other yet and that is what will decide this.

“Ma Teng would join us readily enough. He is well placed to delay Dong Zhuo’s reinforcements - that would serve you better than more cavalry camped outside walls.”

The governor nods. “What about Gongsun Zan?”

“He could be persuaded to join us, but then Yuan Shao will join the other side and we will gain nothing.” Baozi pauses, looking into space for a moment as though visualising the scenario. “But if he were to leave part of his army here under one of his captains, he could still return to Youzhou with enough force to threaten Yuan Shao.”

Ding Yuan agrees to send envoys to both. A little reluctantly, he allows Dewang to go to Ma Teng - sorcerer or not, he is a persuasive man. But he will not permit Baozi to visit Gongsun Zan himself; “I need you here.” But Wenchang is to take a letter he composes. He has after all a more impressive voice and manner.

The envoys return. Ma Teng readily agreed to harass Hua Xiong and Jia Xu and delay them from bringing reinforcements, but Gongsun Zan acquiesces only upon certain conditions. He requires an assurance that his position as Governor of Youzhou is safe, and wishes to appoint his cousin as his vassal. As Ding Yuan has no objection to these terms, he departs soon after - soon followed by Yuan Shao, who leaves a thousand men behind, however, under his brother’s command: double the number Gongsun Zan could spare.

This at least buys more time to defeat Dong Zhuo, but to do so is still a difficult problem.
  • 2

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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE189

Postby Kivutar » Sat Nov 16, 2019 6:23 pm

With the battle at a stalemate, Dewang considers what he might be able to do, besides showy magic that will do more harm than good at this moment. Then he remembers a story he'd heard some time ago - the Emperor had been taught by a reclusive Taoist named Shi Zimiao. He asks around, and soon confirms the story, and furthermore hears that Shi Zimiao lives in the Wudang Mountains, only a day south of the capital.

Given that he should not be there in the first place, getting permission to leave for a few days is easy. Wenchang insists that he takes a few guards, but that is all. Soon, he is in a town at the foot of the mountain, and when he inqures, the people nod and point toward a stairway carved from the rock. "Master Shi lives in the Thousand Step Temple on the side of the mountain."

Dewang begins to climb, leaving the guards at the foot. The stairs are steep but wide, and each is 1 chi in height. He passes a few paths and several landings. This is much more than a thousand, he grumbles silently, but about half a day and 5 li later, he reaches the top.

There is indeed a temple, but it is behind an old man, who stands patiently at the top of the stairs.

"It is a long time since I have seen you, Tree That Grows Toward Heaven," says the man. "And I have wondered when you would come to see this old man. I am called The Young Child of History."

"I do not recognize you, master," answers Dewang, although there is no doubt in his mind that he has found Shi Zimiao. But when had the master seen him?

"I was told of you by He Who Would Learn, that your knowledge of the Tao would surpass his own," replies Shi Zimiao. "It seems my student was correct and that you have come to me, not as a learner, but as a master."

Dewang pauses. He Who Would Learn had headed the temple where he had been an acolyte, but young Zhiteng had barely spoken to the venerable priest. It had not occurred to him that He Who Would Learn had taken any notice of him.

Shi Zimiao's eyes pierce through Dewang, but he says nothing. The wind whistles.

"How did it come to pass that you raised the Emperor?" Dewang finally asks.

"Emperor Ling was never meant to be so exalted," Shi Zimiao replies. "For his presumption to the Throne he was beset by ill fortune, and so many of his sons perished. It was only when young Bian was born that Emperor Ling sent him to me to ward him. I raised the boy as a monk, but ever was he diffident. Always thinking of the future, his eyes saw only the horizon."

"And now that he and his brother are prisoners, what lies ahead?" tries Dewang.

"Prisoners?" the old man raises a bushy, white brow, "How can the Sun ever be bound to the Earth?"

"We all fear that he may be taken from the earth."

"Young Bian has walked the stairs 100 times, he is prepared to die," shrugs the old man.

"Is it the fate of the Throne to be taken by force, then?"

"What is to be shall become, and what is not shall not. Who are you to care what is or is not?"

Dewang ponders that for a moment - Shi Zimiao is surely right, but he can't resign himself to passivity. "Because I am part of it now, for better or for worse. And I no longer know what is right and wrong."

Shi Zimiao nods. "Then you must walk the steps ten times. When you have done so, we shall speak more of this." He turns on his heel and walks into the temple.

Dewang sighs. He slowly makes his way down, sends one of the guards to tell his brothers that he will be away for longer than he thought, and rests. He will need it.

The second day is harder.

By the third, his legs don't stop burning, even when he rests.

Oddly, the fourth day is easier.

The fifth is harder.

The rest pass in a blurr.

On the tenth day, when he drags himself to the top he meets Shi Zimiao, standing exactly as he was on the first. "Ah, Tree-Who-Grows-Toward-Heaven, come inside."

In the temple, his apprentice serves tea, and Shi Zimiao sips and nods to Dewang. "What brings you to this old monk?"

"The land is in chaos, and I have been drawn into it. Many say the Han have lost the Mandate of Heaven; others call those who say so rebels. My brothers and I are in a place where our actions may tip the scales one way or another."

Shi Zimiao sips his tea again and considers. "The Yellow Sky has risen, of that there can be no debate. The Han have fallen, and they have done so many years past. It is only now, when the last, futile, Han has died that it is apparent to all. Now the world must turn, and it must pass judgement on the Middle Kingdom. Is there a Han left who can regain the Mandate, or is this the passing of an age?
Young Bian was always a gentle soul. Irreverent of the day, but afraid of what the night would bring to others. Xie was ever strong of will and clever of tongue, but he never disobeyed his elders."

"And now a rogue general threatens both at once. If they are lost, there are no more Han." says Dewang. "And the throne will go to the strongest."

Shi Zimiao does not react. "Indeed it would. But what has that to do with you and I?"

"Fate has placed me in the middle of it. So I came to the man who taught the Emperor..."

Shi Zimiao nods. "A man climbs once and he is weary, be climbs twice and he is ready, one hundred times and he knows, 1000 times before he understands. 10,000 times and he learns. Tell me, Dewang, what of the Tao do you understand."

"Nothing, save that I understand nothing."

"Very well," says Shi Zimiao. "I say that only Heaven can tell what is to come, but this old fool will say that who is righteous and who is wise are rarely the same. He who knows can hardly be expected to be He who understands."

Dewang pauses for a long moment. Neither the word 'righteous' nor 'wise' can be said to apply to him, and besides, his path is bound up with his brothers'.

"It is too late for me to be as you are, Master," he says, and takes his leave, trying to forget the vision of the burning tree that rises before his eyes.

Shi Zimiao shakes his head as Dewang leaves, and says to the air, "Always he looks to the future, to the horizon. Never to what he is doing."
  • 1

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."

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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE189

Postby CarrieVS » Tue Nov 19, 2019 1:28 am

I am deeply, truly sorry that this is so long.

Baozi has been racking his brains for days, trying to devise a plan to break the stalemate. There must be a way, there is always some weakness, some opportunity. He just needs the wit to see it. Or the information. He has been sending spies into the palace, but those that manage to both enter and leave cannot get far or learn much. He has gained a little knowledge of troop positions within, and that the imperial family are locked inside the inner palace; nothing that would give them the edge they need.

He talks it over with his brothers. “I could learn more, if I could go myself, but Lord Ding would never permit it, and I couldn't explain."

"He can't afford to lose you - and neither can we," Wenchang objects.

"We cannot afford to do nothing either. Time is against us."

Dewang looks thoughtful, "I don't like you putting yourself at risk, but if you are going to try, I will help. I can make sure that fortune will favour you for a time."

"And I would have to be very unfortunate for anyone to suspect me in my disguise. The worst that will happen is that I'll be chased away and not learn anything, and perhaps I will be kicked. But I know I would be forbidden, if it was known."

"But you haven't yet. Ding Yuan doesn't need to know every thing you do, as long as you get results. If you're sure that it's worth the risk."

"You are right, Dewang. I don't like to deceive him but it is for his benefit. I will have to go at night so I am not missed, but I think that would be best anyway."

They plan the attempt for that night. At dusk Dewang performs a rite to invoke good luck for his brother, and then Baozi, warning them that he may be gone for several hours and trying to hurry would only make it more dangerous, slips away to his own quarters to change his shape.


The cat trots towards the palace walls, not quite hiding but Baozi hopes to catch as few eyes as possible. Anything out of the ordinary may be noticed, even a cat. The gates of the palace are all locked and heavily guarded from within. He considers the walls, but they are too high to bound up with a run, and claws will not sink into stone like a tall tree or wooden fence. There is probably enough purchase but it would be a testing climb. The gate is the better option, they are not built to keep out so small and slight an intruder and he is able to slip through. One guard almost steps on his tail without seeing him, but he manages to dodge it and slip through into the barbican. Another does spot him and he has to dodge the butt of his spear, but the man laughs as the cat darts away, and thinks it of no consequence. He is inside.

The courtyard inside the outer wall is still thick with patrols on foot and mounted. In his cat form Baozi has to keep his wits about him to avoid being trampled on, let alone seen. As always the cat is easily distracted but that is to the good. He makes sure to keep heading in about the right direction, but does not try to keep a sharp focus. He is a cat, slipping into the palace grounds to hunt, and nothing more. There is plenty of time.

He passes by the official residences of the ministers and courtiers, gradually making his way towards the court. Dong Zhuo will surely have his quarters there, guarding the entrance to the inner palace, probably with his chief officers close to him. It is of course heavily guarded. Dong Zhuo is known to greatly fear assassins - and Baozi has considered the possibility, to be certain, but thus far has not seen any opportunity. Here, there are windows on all but the ground floor. The lowest are less than a third the height of the outer wall: he could get half the way with a leap and a bound before having to cling to the rough stone with his claws.

It is still not an easy climb and he is out in the open, forced to move inch by inch, for far longer than he likes. It is pure chance that no-one looks up at that stretch of wall while he is there - but of course it is not just chance: bless Dewang and his magic.

He scrambles over the windowsill and hops lightly down into the outer corridor. There are no doors here, only guards, and a junction leading to the inner portion of this floor where he needs to get to. He stalks closer, keeping to the shadows at the very foot of the wall and freezing every time the guard looks his way. He seems not to notice anything, and finally Baozi is at the junction, almost at the man's feet, but beneath his eyeline. The connecting corridor is barely wider than a tall man's outstretched arms. Once past, it is a quick, silent dart into the far more sumptuous inner hallway and under one of the small decorative tables that stand in alcoves.

It is late and only a few servants move about. There is plenty of cover, so it is easy to make his way around until he finds the doors to the courtroom itself - easy to recognise. He knows it will be empty at this hour so pushes the door open a crack and slips in.

Not quite empty: a single mouse is nosing around in a corner. The cat instantly drops into a hunting crouch, but it is across an open space and it is some minutes of patient stalking before he can come up to it, and all for nothing when it spots him a heartbeat too soon and whisks away to a crack in the wall. Baozi focuses himself. If he had caught the mouse, he might have carried it to show that he is a good cat, a lucky cat here to catch the palace's vermin, and presented it proudly to anyone who should notice him. But it got away. He slips under the curtain that he knows will cover the staircase by which the Emperor or Regent enter the court.

The upper level is much busier, much brighter, and much harder to hide in. His sensitive cat's nose smells food, and he follows the richest scent. The combination of feline stealth with careful timing is enough to avoid notice as far as the door he suspects to hid his target. Getting through it is another matter. He could push it ajar but he dare not, and squeezes his way between the bamboo frame and the wall, noticing as he does the powerful figure of Hua Xiong. He is sitting, but is dressed in his armour and a halberd rests within hand's reach. He is not looking this way, but Baozi cannot avoid the door rattling slightly as he wriggles free, and has to make a dash for cover as the warrior looks around.

Safely under the very couch on which Hua Xiong is sitting, Baozi hears him call to someone else "Check the windows, Lord Dong hates cold breezes." That was close. He lies flat at the very back of the couch, against the wall, directly underneath the armed man, and watches.

He is in the entrance to what must be Dong Zhuo's suite. There are three more doors besides the one by which he entered, one on each wall. He watches. After a while, Guo Si enters.

"Our lord is busy," Hua Xiong says, "you will have to wait."

"I am not here for an audience."

Above Baozi, Hua Xiong's weight shifts slightly, as he turns towards the newcomer, but says nothing aloud.

"This war is going poorly, I am here to see Li Ru."

"Watch your tongue." Hua Xiong retorts, "We control the emperor and we have our walls. Jia Xu will be here with our reinforcements soon."

"I understood that you were with the reinforcements." Baozi had been wondering the same.

"I arrived with a hundred men today. We came in through the sally ports in the garden."

The two men are quiet for a while and then Guo Si complains, "Lord Dong should have let me kill the sorcerer at least if not Mao Xu."

"Li Ru says that the sorcerer is the key," Hua Xiong answers. "If he falls then Mao Xu will be free to move and our lord can recruit him and Wei Yan."

Guo Si scoffs, "Mao Xu will never serve our lord. He is a fool with his heart set on the Han."

"Perhaps our lord is himself bound too much by loyalty. Surely if some subordinate showed initiative he would be rewarded."

"Of course, if the young prince were to have a fall..." Though Guo Si says prince, Baozi has no doubt he means the Emperor. It is of course a possibility he has been aware of, but it is shocking to hear the officers talking about his murder so casually. At that moment another door opens.

"Shut your mouths, you fools," Li Ru snaps. "Any of the servants could be reporting what you say to Lu Zhi and his loyalists." He can be heard sending the servants away. Baozi is heartened to her that the great strategist is still thought a threat to the traitors' aims, and that he is not alone within the palace walls.

"Duo," Li Ru says to Guo Si, "go back to your post. After that debacle with Lu Bu I cannot abide your face! To think that you could devise such a plan. If I had my way you would be executed, but Lord Dong still has plans for you." That is unfair. It would have worked if not for Dewang, and then Ding Yuan would be dead, the greatest warrior in China would be within Dong Zhuo's fold, and who would be prepared, let alone able, to stop him?

"Our spies say that Ma Teng intends to interdict our reinforcements. You will go to Chang'an and organise raiders to attack Ma Teng so that Jia Xu can bring soldiers to the capital. And take these letters. One is for Zhang Lu, the other for Han Sui. Bring 1000 taels of gold to each of them as a gift from our lord."

Baozi cannot see that Han Sui will be bought by any amount of gold to attack his blood brother, but Zhang Lu surely will. At least they are now forewarned. Li Ru withdraws into one of the inner rooms of the suite without another word, and Guo Si departs quickly, leaving Hua Xiong alone again. Baozi considers trying to go further - Li Ru must have gone into his own quarters, and the cat's sensitive ears pick up the noise of a man lying with a woman beyond one of the other doors, which is surely Dong Zhuo himself. But with the warrior so close, and having learned so much already, neither seems worth the risk. He slips out the way he came, not entirely unnoticed: Hua Xiong mutters "The damned rats around here..."

Once out into the open air again it is now around midnight and too dark for the cat's distinctive colour to be noticed and Baozi trots along briskly, seen but not heeded. He slinks around the official residences until he discovers the tower in which Lu Zhi has his apartment. At this hour the upper stories are dark, but there are lights on the ground floor. He prowls around the outside of the building and becomes certain that, as he had expected, the minister is under house arrest and guards are occupying the lower floor.

Once again, climbing the walls seems to be the best option, but this time he miscalculates early on and finds himself moving too far from the window that is his goal. He holds his nerve and edges higher until he judges himself far enough above the sill, then takes a sprawling sideways leap that ends with the cat tangled in the curtains, but safe. Baozi holds down the trapped animal's urge to panic and unhooks his claws one foot at a time until he can free himself from the drapery and move into the room proper.

An elderly man, by the look of him a body servant, is sat upright in his bed, staring at the window. He relaxes slightly when he sees it is a cat, but does not lie back down. Fortunately, the door is ajar and Baozi is able to dart across the room and through it before the man makes any attempt to shoo him back out. He pauses, but all is quiet. It is evidently not worth pursuing the cat in the middle of the night.

The minister's own room will be on the top floor. The stairs are empty and so is the landing, from which several rooms open. None yields any sound save the steady breathing of sleepers. One has only a single person by the sound, and he slips past the door to find his guess correct.

Lu Zhi lies in bed, soundly asleep. On the other side of the room is a desk arrayed with papers, and between, his armour on a stand, and another with three tiers. The topmost rack is empty, customarily reserved for the Emperor's own sword, the bottom has what must be his own weapon, and the middle bears the sword of authority given to the minister when he was made Imperial Commander.

Baozi hops silently up onto the desk, trying to avoid treading on paper lest he has any dirt on his paws. The characters are meaningless marks to the cat's eyes and he has to focus hard, but he makes out reports on the troops in the capital, and commits to memory what he did not already know. There are letters from the governors as well: refusals to get involved from Liu Biao and Zhang Lu, Qiao Mao's assurance that he supports the Emperor... but his duty is first to the Eastern counties. He is a coward. Wang Kuang's resignation is also there.

That is somewhat informative, but how much more if he could talk to Lu Zhi himself? Perhaps he can. He is in private with the one man within the palace who will certainly not betray his presence to Dong Zhuo's guards. The cat sits back on its haunches, and after a few minutes of concentration Baozi stands up, careful not to stand where he might be visible through the curtains.

He shakes Lu Zhi gently by the shoulder. The older man stirs.

"It is Mao Xu, I am here in the palace as a spy for Ding Yuan. I-" He does not get any further before the minister, now fully awake, springs from his bed and snatches up his sword, which he holds to Baozi's throat. The younger man does not flinch from the blade, but stops speaking. There is a moment of silence, then Lu Zhi, his eyes adjusting to the darkness, says incredulously, "Mao Xu Baozi?"

"Yes."

"We have met once before. Tell me the circumstances." He does not move his weapon.

In a low voice, Baozi gives a plain statement of how things stand outside the palace, and what he has just learned from listening to Dong Zhuo's officers. There is no need to explain the significance of things to Lu Zhi.

Finally, the minister sheathes his sword. "However you got here, you are in danger. It is only a matter of time before Dong Zhuo names Yuan Feng Grand Tutor, and from there controls the court. Ding Yuan will be a rebel within a week."

"That is not good. I knew that we had no time for a long siege but I had hoped for more than that to find a way in."

Lu Zhi nods. "With the eunuch faction gone there is no majority to oppose him, though I know his dictates will be of no more use than those of the boy Emperor or the Dowager.
"Dong Zhuo has replaced the Imperial Guard with his own soldiers and the loyalists 'defect' every day though I know they are being killed."

Baozi notices for the first time that he is dressed in the white robes of a dead man. He tries not to show his shock, and makes no mention of it. "Have you any advice for this worthless student, Master? As I can see it, either the palace must be taken by force, or the traitor Dong Zhuo assassinated, if he is to be stopped. Do you think either can be done?"

"The guards are compromised and I cannot say who is loyal to the Han and who to the usurper. If the palace is stormed I fear the emperor will die in the violence or by treachery but the outcome is the same. If the tyrant can be killed that may help, but in these dark times who can say if that will end it?" He is silent for a moment and then asks, "Baozi, you came to me in secret, could you carry the young Emperor away the same way?"

Baozi's stomach twists. He had no wish to bring false hope. He cannot meet Lu Zhi's eyes as he answers, "I... I am sorry, Master. I can... I have means to conceal myself but it is beyond my power to do the same for another."

The great man looks stricken, and seems to stifle a groan of despair. "If only Jian Shuo were still with us then we would have hope. But Guo Sheng bows to Dong Zhuo and the other attendants to him."

"I am sorry not to bring you better news, Master, but I will try to find a way he can be defeated. I must not stay much longer, though, and I am not likely to get inside again. If there is anything else you would have me know, or would ask me, then tell me quickly, and then I must leave."

Lu Zhi hesitates, then looks over at the sword given to him by Emperor Ling where it lays upon its stand. He picks it up and offers it to Baozi. "This sword represents the greatest moment of my life, take it and give it to Ding Yuan."

Baozi flushes red with shame. He does not take the sword, but is it several moments before he can find words. "I am sorry, Master. Even this simple thing your useless servant cannot do. I came in unarmed, because I could not pass unseen carrying a weapon." His clothing is always transformed along with his body but he has tried in the past while wearing a sword or holding objects and always they are left behind.

Lu Zhi is downcast. His shoulders slump a little, and he looks older than his forty or so years. "Yes, of course..." with the sword in his hands he looks over at his armour, and stands straighter again, an expression of grim resolve on his features. "Then tell Ding Yuan that at noon tomorrow he should assault the gates of the palace. Those who are loyal will be there to great him."

Baozi realises with a start what he intends, and looks away, afraid that he cannot master his emotion. When he decided to speak to the minister he had no intention of such a thing. "Yes, Master." His voice cracks a little. "And now I must leave." He moves towards the door, and then stops.

He must change his shape again before he leaves the tower, but dare he leave even this room in his true form? Can he be certain of Lu Zhi's servants, or that the guards will remain downstairs? But the alternative is to do it here, in front of Lu Zhi. Even those who know his secret have never watched him make the change. But he trusts the minister implicitly, and, he hates the part of himself that thinks rationally of it, but if Lu Zhi intends to die the next day then what can it matter how many secrets he knows? At least, he thinks with very slight comfort, revealing his ability will explain the mysteries he would otherwise have left him with.

"I dare not risk being seen as I am by anyone but you," he says. "I must... I must assume my disguise in this room. It... is not... not an ordinary disguise. Master, I.. I have no right to ask anything more of you, but you would do your humble student a great favour if you do not speak of my greatest secret to anyone."

Lu Zhi nods, but says nothing. Baozi kneels down, facing away from him, and tries to forget that he is being watched as he focuses his mind on the transformation. It takes a little longer than usual and there is a moment where he fears he cannot do it, but finally, the golden-brown cat trots forward to the door. If Lu Zhi is startled by this display of sorcery, he does not show it.

Lu Zhi calls for his servants as Baozi is making his way out of the tower. The man he passed on his way in is among them, but they are hurrying to their master and spare no more than a glance for a gold cat as it trots past them. There is little difficulty getting out of the palace and back to Ding Yuan's camp.

After he has gone, Lu Zhi orders his servants to dress him in his armour, and paint it white. "When the sun is highest tomorrow, I will die for the Han."


There is a lamp burning in Dewang's quarters. He has waited up all night. Baozi, returned again to his human form, goes to him first, to put his mind at ease that he is safely returned. He is not sure how to explain everything yet, and only says "I must go to Lord Ding at once," and hurries away.

A guard goes to rouse Ding Yuan at Baozi's request: if Mao Xu says it is urgent, then he dare not disobey. The Governor appears a little time later, hastily dressed and looking annoyed. He waits impatiently as all the words Baozi had rehearsed go out of his head and he takes a few moments to find his tongue again. He hopes that he won't be questioned too closely as to how he got his information.

"I have just learned that ... that the situation is worse than I had realised," he begins. "There is no more time to continue the siege: you sh... you must attack immediately."

"Are Hua Xiong and Jia Xu here already?"

"Hua Xiong is, but only with one hundred men, and Jia Xu is still weeks away. But Yuan Feng maybe named Grand Tutor at any day, and then Dong Zhuo will control the court and you will be declared a rebel. And worse, the usurper's officers speak of murdering the Emperor with a staged accident."

"Can an assault on the palace succeed?" Ding Yuan seems doubtful, and no wonder.

"I have had word from Lu Zhi." That is almost a lie, but if he ever will admit that he heard it from the minister's own lips, that is not important right now. "He asks that you assault the main gate at noon tomorrow, and promises that... that those who are loyal will be there to greet you. He will create an opportunity. The fighting will be bloody but it is most likely your only chance to save the Emperor's life."


Ding Yuan attacks at mid morning. The advantage is plainly with the defenders, but as the sun reaches its height the gate is stormed from within by four dozen warriors, all of them dressed in white. Within a quarter of an hour, the gate begins to open. Lu Bu bursts through as soon as the gap is wider than a horse and lays about him left and right with his halberd, slaying at almost every stroke. Mounted on Red Hare he is more unstoppable than he has ever been, man and horse moving as one, and his soldiers spur their horses to their best speed to stay behind him.

The bright chestnut for which the mighty stallion was named is soon soaked to a deep crimson with the blood of his master's foes, as his men sweep in behind him and take the outer courtyard by storm. A platoon gallops wide around the bulk of the fighting to get a clear charge at a company of guards. The leader is a slender figure on a tall horse, dark grey splashed with white, who dashes fearlessly into the fray at his rider's cry of "Shooting Star! Charge!" striking out with his hooves and trampling men underfoot, even as his seemingly delicate rider wields a halberd expertly to cut down yet more.

Only Hua Xiong can stand before the onslaught. He succeeds in rallying men around him, and attracts the attention of Lu Bu himself. Even before the great warrior, the barbarian does not fall, though he cannot advance, but maintains his defence through a dozen exchanges. Finally, Wei Yan and his horsemen break through and Hua Xiong must withdraw or be surrounded.


Finally the fighting draws to a lull. The inner palace is still defended by half a thousand of Dong Zhuo's men, but the outer walls firmly in the hands of Ding Yuan. Of the men in white, not one survives. Mingled with the bodies of the guards, many of them lie around the gatehouse, the rest within, where they were cut down to a man defending Lu Zhi. The loyal minister himself is found, his armour no longer white but red with the blood of a dozen wounds. He did not fall defending himself: his sword is sheathed, and his hands instead grip the wheel that opens the gate.
  • 3

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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE189

Postby Ladki96 » Sun Nov 24, 2019 4:16 am

Finally the fighting draws to a lull. The inner palace is still defended by half a thousand of Dong Zhuo's men, but the outer walls firmly in the hands of Ding Yuan.

Dong Zhuo's men are not a problem, but he took the Royal family along as he retreated, and will most certainly not hesitate to use them to hold off the invading force.

Ding Yuan, Lu Bu and Wei Yan ardently want Dong Zhuo dead but Baozi successfully talks them out of an attack. "We can't risk the Emperor's life. If nothing else, we would be blamed for any harm on His person. My lord's enemies would only too eager to start rumours of usurpers and rebels."

Thus, the flag goes up and the two sides meet. Baozi suggests being stern so they aren't taken advantage of. Dong Zhuo is first offered a painless execution rather than being turned over to Lu Bu. He storms off but knows that ultimately the family is his only chance of getting out alive. After a fortnight, the envoys finally arrive at a compromise.

1) Dong Zhuo, his ladies, Li Ru and Hua Xiong are granted mercy. Guo Si is put to the sword. Li Su would have been as well, but he falls at Lu Bu's feet and his life is saved on the strength of their childhood friendship. Jia Xu is out of town and so his fate is undecided.

2) Emperor Shao issues an official edict ending the conflict and declaring Dong Zhuo and Ding Yuan heroes for heeding the call of He Jin and restoring order to the capital. The two men are made Marquises. Dong Zhuo becomes the 'Lord who Protects the West', and Ding Yuan the 'Lord who Protects the North'. The former soon hastily leaves for his home in Chang An.

3) Prince Liu Xie is sent back to live with his grandmother, the previous Empress Dowager, in Chen Liu. Ding Yuan wishes to send guards but politics get in the way, and so can do nothing but trust the local ruler, Cao Cao, to protect the little boy.

4) Lu Zhi is posthumously made a Marquis as well, and given a state funeral. His son Lu Yu, said to be the image of his father in virtue and intellect, inherits the title.

5) Lu Bu is given the title of the General of Flying Cavalry and receives a beautifully intricate sword from the Empress Dowager for his efforts. The half-conniving, half-sultry looks between them in the celebrations that follow seem to go unnoticed except by Dewang, who shares his fears with his brothers. This, along with knowledge of Liu Bian's weak nature from his teacher, makes Wenchang fret aloud at the possible future of the kingdom in the hands of a useless child and a cruel woman, but Baozi's belief in the Han State doesn't waver an inch so he leaves it at that rather than argue further.

6) Dewang receives a small cash award for his contributions as a military clerk, and a giant donation to Xuanwu's temple, in addition to the jewelled belt gift.

7) Baozi is offered the job of Administrator of the Capital in Jinyang. Inspired by Lu Zhi, he accepts. Zhang Yang's potential fuss at his stolen job can be dealt with by Ding Yuan's army. Baozi is also asked to select the right candidate for Guo Si's old position, Prefect of Xi He. He offers it first to Wenchang who firmly declines. He is heartily sick of depending upon his little brother to make his way in life. "Lu Yu is a good choice. I'm sure his father would have been proud." <3

8) Wenchang talks to General Lu, and is promoted to Colonel of the Flying Cavalry under him.

Once things are settled, Lord Ding calls Wenchang, Baozi and Lu Lingqi in.

"I need to be here to make sure Dong Zhuo stays gone, and the Imperial Court wants us to fill the ministerial positions. I cannot leave. But the bandits from the White Wave Valley are threatening Hedong again. I need you three to aid Han Fu."

But before Baozi, Dewang (their "mystic advisor"), Wenchang, his Cavalry Kids, Lu Lingqi and her Fighting Maids can do their awesome slow walk with a fiery background a random servant runs in. Smh.

"Lady Yan wishes to meet all of you before you leave for Bingzhou!"
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Re: [Fate RP] Romance of the Three Kingdoms: CE189

Postby Kivutar » Wed Nov 27, 2019 10:33 pm

Shortly after the battle is over and long before the aftermath is, the brothers learn that Ding Yuan intends to send them north to deal with the White Wave Bandits. Before they can leave, however, they hear that Lady Yan wishes to speak with them.

With her is her daughter Zidan, who had led the charge the day of the battle. She is absurdly young, younger even than Zhang Liao, but the daughter of Lu Bu is tall and strong nonetheless.

It takes them a few moments to decide who is their ‘leader,’ whom she addresses. Baozi is entirely unsure whether to look to his eldest brother, to Wenchang, or to step forward. They look at him, considering his rank, and then Dewang glances at Wenchang before stepping forward. Lady Yan raises an eyebrow.

Dewang greets her courteously, and she gets straight to the point. "Dewang, my daughter has her father's spirit and she will always follow the way of the spear."

"She certainly has the look of a future great warrior," agrees Dewang.

"Fengxian admires Baozi and respects Wenchang, but you he fears," she continues. Dewang is slightly taken aback. "Me?"

Baozi looks up at that.

"You know the will of Heaven and command the Tao,” she explains. “No warrior could ever oppose such a man, but I promise that if you allow harm to come to my daughter I will spit you like a boar."

"That sounds fair, madam," says Dewang, smiling. Zidan snorts, but doesn’t object aloud.

Yan Xian nods, "I had a vision of you in a dream, Master Du. In, it the Mother of the West spoke to me and said that you would pave the way for the Dark Warrior. I have seen the glorious temple that you built to Him and now I am sure that you will bring peace to us in the north."

"It is not for me to bring peace, or war,” says Dewang. “But I will do everything in my power to protect your daughter."
  • 3

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