Xe of Greed wrote:The heavily wounded minister chuckled once, which quickly descended into pained coughing that made the girl wince. "Apologies, minister." Jia Liang managed once it had subsided. He gestured to the young woman. "Jia Xiuqing, my youngest." She turned and bowed respectfully to Cai Bin before focusing her attention back on her wounded father. "As for how this happened, heh. A foolhardy notion drove me south to the rebel stronghold at Xiang Yang. When I heard some young men meant to infiltrate a strategy meeting. I sought to head them off. They've no business risking their lives like that. So I set out to infiltrate it myself, expecting them to care less about an older man with a minister's background." He coughed a few times again, casting a pained look at Chun as he worked.
"Unfortunately, the rebel guards at the meeting were rather overzealous. Rather than considering what I said, they chose instead to beat me and leave me to die. Fortunately, master Chen Ping had the same foolish notion as I, and found me. It's entirely thanks to him that we made it back alive." The minister took a deep breath and let out a ragged sigh. "One of my worst notions. But at least one I can walk away from."
Xu Yuan wrote:Cai Bin dutifully bowed his head to the young woman in return. He listened intently to the story... the rumors were true then... The elder nodded his head absentmindedly. "That was my worse fear, the other men who disappeared in the same span of time were Chen Ping, Huang Wu, and Ding Ma." He sighed in starts. As a deep sadness showed on his face. "Only Master Chen, I have now learned, and you have reappeared. That was foolish indeed..." His voice raised. "Had you known that people were seeking this self-destructive choice you should have alerted the Garrison! You know there is no reasoning with this rabble! Have you forgotten what happened only five years ago the last time the city so wistfully trusted to a rebel's common sense?!" He caught himself as he bowed in forgiveness, his voice returning to a soft, solemn manner. "Forgive me. I..." He stopped, but then shook his head sadly and continued. "Fear now that Huang Wu and Ding Ma did not escape."
A shadow fell over the old man's face. Only now did he realize how powerless he truly was. Despite his Aides watching all exits of the city, there was always ways to escape their gaze. If only he had been more... more what? What more could he have done? The thoughts flew through his mind as he closed his eyes and continued to speak. "I can merely thank Heaven that you have returned to us." He sighed once more as he opened his eyes. "Did you learn anything from the rebels? Or did the name of Jia Liang so quickly move them to put you in this condition?"
Rebel wrote:Xiang gulps the baozi.
Taking the ink pot from his head, he puts it in his pocket. Unbinds the bunches of grapes from his hair, sets them on the tray and looks at the attendant.
"Um.. you can have them. They are not half-eaten or anything."
He bows and nods to the Prefect.
"A great honor to meet you Minister Wai Be. Please lead the way."
He follows the man to his offices.
Vartonn wrote:Seeing that his brother was taking a moment to muster his strength for a reply, the rotund brother filled the silence wit a regretful tone. "I apologize, minister Cai Bin. If I had been more skilled at reading the wine's omens, I could have stopped my brother. Perhaps only his legs might have been broken then." The last bit was typical of the younger brother's brutal pragmatism, but it hinted at Jia Chun's resentment towards his brother's foolish behaviour. "Last month, when the drink showed me standing on top of the world, gazing at a sheep in the middle of a tiger's den, I never thought he..." The mystic choked on his words, equally out of sorrow and out of concern for his brother's health. He did not his reprimands.
Xu Yuan wrote:Cai Bin nodded sadly to the younger Jia. "Heaven hides its designs until the appropriate moment, until that time we cannot act upon omens and auguries.You could not have known what the warped imagery of helpful spirits meant to convey." His tone became slightly lighter, as if to slightly dispel the gloom which hung to the room as he shifted his body towards Jia Chun. "I heard that you and several other officers have recently returned from Mt. Xuan Yuan, a dangerous climb, but I do know that the Mystic Arts may at times reveal matters that are not to be ignored, thus I wholeheartedly agreed with the suggestion when it was presented. You have just spoken of yourself as one of the Mystics. The reports from the expedition I was given were vague and inconclusive. Tell me, what did you see or hear upon the top of that sacred place?"
Rebel wrote:Xiang followed the Prefect casually looking at the filing systems and insignia on display. He took the seat that was offered, lightly tapping his fingers on the ornate desk.
"I am very well. A bit bored if I were to be frank with you. The city does not seem to have much going on at the moment. I try to keep myself amused in what little ways I can Master Wai Be."
"Say can I call you Be?"
He asked with a polite smile. To be or not to be. That is the question. He bit his lip, trying hard not to give voice to his thoughts.
"Do you know when things will pick up? Man I can't wait to recruit some soldiers or gather info on the enemy plans. I could go and recruit agents at Xiang Yang to find out what they are up to. I heard a few of our officers tried something similar and it didn't work out too well."
Vartonn wrote:Jia Estate, the day Jia Liang returned from Xiang Yang
The rotund mystic shook his head. "We only heard hints of what was to come, a test from the heavens, no doubt." The ex-guard moved behind a barrel and used the top of it as a makeshift map. His explanations and exaggerated gestures managed to turn the patterns of the wood into a vivid imaginary map that even the dullest person could see. "From what I understand, they were debating the course of action to take. They're evidently make use of the river and its well trodden paths to reach us, but it was likely that a separate force would head towards Wan inland." He ran his hand along an indistinct pattern on the barrel, that both his niece and the elderly minister knew to be the river. Halfway up the pattern, he spread out his fingers, and ran his other hand towards the center of the barrel, close to the forests south of Wan. "One of them made a terrible suggestion which was rejected by the other generals. We do not know what it is, but from what they answered, I can make an educated guess..."
The black robed man of sizable build suddenly changed his composure. He took on the persona of a thin snake-like man, a man any righteous fellow would despise at first glance. Or at the first smell, even. The way Jia Chun imitated his posture, his voice, his mannerisms made it seem like the snake general was really standing before them. "Wan iss not the goal, itss defenderss are meek and dissorganised, why not leave a token forse to keep them in check and make sstraight for the capital, where the Dragon liess?" His composure changed again, he took on the persona of a stout, toad-like man, a man who would wrongly assumed to be slow-witted by any but the most astute observer. "We woould risk oour supply line - this is simply a pooor coombination of the first twoo plans, but with all the drawbacks and noone of the benefits." Having finished, Jia Chun regained his usual mannerisms.
He let out a dry cough and reached for a cup which he filled with water and drank. "I'd have to talk about it with the magistrate and the other generals, but I have a rough idea for a plan, should our other spies confirm there are disagreements among the enemy generals." The young maid that served the Jia came in with refreshments, both tea and wine. They offered either to the minister first, then moved on to Jia Chun, who took wine, and the young lady of the house.
Rebel wrote:"Why be like that Wai Be?"
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