SimRTK V5 Individual Endings

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SimRTK V5 Individual Endings

Postby Elysia » 14 Dec 2011, 16:23

We know how important your character is to you, so here you can post your ending story.

The one thing we ask is that you don't do 'back and forth' roleplays here. Lets keep this to one post per player/character instead. If you want to do a post-game roleplay with someone else, where you post back and forth between each other, use the Ending Roleplay thread and come back into here once you've got your finale ready. That should keep this thread clear of clutter.

Zheng Mingyu (18) 87*-102*-65*-73*-92* Ambush; Artisan (e); Breeder (e); Charge; Craftsman (e); Duelist (e); Weaponmaster (e); Zeal

Ping Tai . . . At the mercy of Gu Guang and Lady Shao
Lu Ling Qi . . . Daddy's little girl.
Dame Zhang Yi . . . Sugary sweet.
Liyin & Liyang . . . Doubly Delicious.
Wang Jun . . . Teenager on his own!
Zhang Chunhua . . . Devoted wife of Sima Yi.
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Re: SimRTK V5 Individual Endings

Postby Elysia » 14 Dec 2011, 16:26

Zheng Mingyu:
(18) 87*-102*-65*-73*-92* Ambush; Artisan (e); Breeder (e); Charge; Craftsman (e); Duelist (e); Weaponmaster (e); Zeal

Mingyu stayed in the Wuwan mountains, living out her years with the family she never knew she had.

Ping Tai:
At the mercy of Gu Guang and Lady Shao.

Tai continued her lessons with Master Gu, much to Lady Shao's disdain. The great Lady continued to remind Tai that life was precious, and she should not take it for granted . . . Since it could very easily come to an end.

Lu Ling Qi:
Daddy's little girl.

After a drinking binge in one of the towns she and her father visited, Lingqi woke up next to a rather scrawny man. How this had happened was beyond her comprehension. Hell, she couldn't even remember him. Unfortunately her father choose that moment to walk into her room.

Well, to put it mildly . . . s*** hit the fan. Before Lingqi knew it, she found herself in a dress and married to Fu Te, a shop keeper. Over the next few years, she and Te produced three grandchildren for Fengxian.

Dame Zhang Yi:
Sugary sweet.

This sweet young morsel married Deng Ai, the man with the charming stutter. Rumor has it that Yimei cured Ai of his stutter . . . .

Liyin & Liyang:
Doubly Delicious.

These totally opposite twins continued to search for those worthy of the secrets they could teach them.

Wang Jun:
Teenager on his own!

By the time Wang Jun reached the age of 20 summers, his voice finally stopped cracking when he talked. He had yet to carry on a conversation with a woman. He tended to run the other way when the chance to speak with one arose.

Eventually he found a woman who was even more tongue tied around the opposite sex as he was. It was 2 years before they had their first date, and 6 years before they were wed. Rumor had it that they slept in separate beds for another year beyond their wedding. But once the couple got used to each other . . . Well, the couple had a dozen children, in a dozen years.

Zhang Chunhua:
Devoted wife of Sima Yi.

Chunhua stood by her husband side in everything that he did. She knew how brilliant he was, and he knew that his wife was his most trusted treasure.
Zheng Mingyu (18) 87*-102*-65*-73*-92* Ambush; Artisan (e); Breeder (e); Charge; Craftsman (e); Duelist (e); Weaponmaster (e); Zeal

Ping Tai . . . At the mercy of Gu Guang and Lady Shao
Lu Ling Qi . . . Daddy's little girl.
Dame Zhang Yi . . . Sugary sweet.
Liyin & Liyang . . . Doubly Delicious.
Wang Jun . . . Teenager on his own!
Zhang Chunhua . . . Devoted wife of Sima Yi.
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Re: SimRTK V5 Individual Endings

Postby Xeniphon » 28 Sep 2012, 20:02

The End of Xu Tsu;

After the huge amassing of armies at Wu Guan Xu Tsu continued both in his duties as a general and as a spymaster. For his efforts over the next years as much as the previous he was given great honor and not only promoted to higher rank but issued the title of "Hou" and responsability over the northern boarders of the lands of Chu as a Marquise. This entitlement was also accompanied with marrage to a younger daughter of the Miao line to solidify the bonds tot he ruling clan. While the dashing cavalry general with his lightning strikes was gone an older and wiser man with a cunning even his greatest enemies recognized remained. While the armies under his direction would not invade the lands of Chen way they were ever swift to thwart attacks, rumors even spread that Xu Tsu had the gift of foresight as no trick could slip past his guard. Yet in the end the all seeing eye of Xu Tsu and his vast network of agents could see all but never reach out to claim victory...

Shortly after the war of succession in the west had ended Xu Tsu relinquished his title and position to his eldest son, recently come of age, and at the age of 50 dissapeared from his estate with his youngest son during the night. All that remained in his study was a 7 volume text of instruction in the art of intrigue, subterfuge, and strategy that was the sum of his life's experiances and knowledge. For many years no record or word was found, both Xu Tsu and his youngest son had vanished without a trace... However they were not dead and did not become hermits; Xu Tsu and his chosen offspring had ventured into the barbarian lands outside of China as was seen many years later.

Long after the death of Xu Tsu in a tiny mountain village 265CE, once the land of China was again reunited, a man arrived at the Emperor's court and spent weeks gaining an audiance with a higher official. That man was Xu Kang decended of the youngest son of Xu Tsu. With him he brought a letter from Xu Tsu who in his dying days had left instruction that the spy networks he and his son had begun to develope outside of China were to be handed over to the Emperor once the land was again united as one, or when such was inevitable. So Xu Kang gave into the Emperor's care the last gift of a man who had always been able to see the best course but never achieve it with his own hands. Thus Xu Tsu abandoned action to others and provided them with the ability to see as he once had. Furthermore deep in the libraries of the Imperial court lay 7 worn tomes of wisdom for a later scholar to find and examine.

So did the man who was born to be a scholar, raised to be a solder, and lived as a spymaster finally find his true calling long after his passing from the world. The future would not remember his martial prowess nor his steadfast loyalty. Instead he would ever be remembered as a devious diplomat and spy. In days long after his time Xu Tsu would become villified and his dessapearance seen as an exile with the later gift of spy networks seen as a postumous attonement for unspecified crimes. So the tale of a brave and loyal man has been turned to tales of a treacherous beast and his decindants dissavow relation to him.

((OOC; I am just keeping it short and simple, its long over so I don't think its really worth a big ending with lots of work put into it... I took a liberty saying I was Marquise of the northern boarder but "Hou" is Marquise and refers to rule over a boarder region so since I was put in the north and no other Marquise was appointed I figured it wouldn't step on anyone's toes.))
Oh well, back to the drawing board...

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Re: SimRTK V5 Individual Endings

Postby Strong Bad » 01 Oct 2012, 02:27

229 AD, near Shangyong...

The battle was going ill. The great incursion, the start of the final war to end the strife in the Middle Kingdom by the Emperor of the West, was not going as planned. Weeks of clearing the hazardous pathways east of Hanzhong hadn't escaped the eyes and ears of the Miao hordes, giving them far too much time to prepare their defenses. And, when at last the armies of Chen Wei made their way to that vital city to let the hammer fall, there lay the waiting southern armies eager to lay the Qin to waste. Sheer numbers were on their side, for no matter how bravely and skillfully the Qin warriors fought, no matter how many enemies were slain, dozens more took their place, an endless tide of blood and death that was blunting Chen Wei's might too quickly to win the battle in a manner that would leave him with anything but a Pyrrhic victory. At last, the call for general retreat was sung, the sign to turn back and go home.

To Bloodaxe, the battle was far from over. Years had he stewed and trained, perpetually in disgrace in the eyes of his liege lord and without the chance to win back favor through renown. Here, on the field of war, would be his chance to do precisely what he did best: kill everyone in his lord's path. The gongs and flags signalling retreat meant little to the Norseman, and on did he fight against the antagonistic Miao armies eager to take advantage of the chaotic withdrawal. Time and time again did his mighty greataxe swing down to cleave an unfortunate soul in twain, be he a lowly soldier or a mounted general. For Bloodaxe, the thrill of the final battle was upon him, that lethal drug that went straight to the brain and pierced his heart and soul. But, even the most legendary of warriors will one day meet their match. Despite being in an ad hoc position of rear guard, blunting the counterattack of the Miao, the Norseman's hardy soldiers fell around him in droves. Arrows rained down upon them, piercing even the nigh-invincible barbarian's armour in places and felling his horse beneath him. In an instant, Kollskegg found himself on his back on the ground, staring up at the sky in a daze as the last of his men fled the field and the enemy turned to regroup for the next push.

Eyes as blue as the sea watched the clouds pass by, the din of war and the screams of the dying fading out of existence. For a moment, it was as if Bloodaxe could see himself home again. Too long he had missed the breeze of his home shores. The frozen lakes. The winter snows. All that he had left behind so many years before in the name of fortune and glory. All that would never be seen again, for it would be here, in the land of the Han, that the barbarian saw his doom upon him. But, at last, his chance was here. He could see it, reach out to it, even touch it: the chance for eternal glory in the name of his liege lord, and his opportunity to join his forefathers in the halls of Valhalla upon death in battle.

A spark arose within his core, bringing his mind back in tune with his body as he felt a breath of air rush through his lungs. Grunting, he slowly sat up, finding it difficult to breathe. With a growl he took hold of his helm and cast it aside to let his blond braids soaked in sweat sway idly in the breeze. Several arrows had pierced him, the pain registering with each movement he made, but Kollskegg would not let it stop him. Bloody fingers finding their way over to grip the haft of his greataxe, the Norseman slowly and unsteadily stood up, a lone figure towering over the sea of carnage. With the butt of his greataxe stuck in the ground to give him an anchor to lean against, Bloodaxe shielded his eyes with his free hand to look in the direction his host had been fleeing from, across the field to the wave of warriors on to take his life. Seeing they would be upon him in moments, the barbarian let his lips curl up in a smile of joy as the realization of his destiny had finally arrived. No more would there be any doubt. Any illusion. Any nagging sense left to distract him. Here, once and for all, his fate was decided. And, just as he prepared to let loose the final bloodbath against his foes, the Norseman turned to the sky, raised his axe high, and shouted in the tongues of his people for all to hear:



So it was that in 229 AD, Kollskegg Blóðøx, son of Ragnar, known as "the Xuefu" to those that knew him, fell on the field of battle outside Shangyong. His name being synonymous with villainy and infamy all throughout the land, and his visage being so unmistakeable, the horde of Miao soldiers that finally defeated him spent their efforts utterly destroying his body where he lay slain so that nothing could be recognized when the battle was over. As the armies of Qin made their timely retreat and tallied their losses, rumors of the barbarian warrior's death in battle spread through the ranks. Of the funeral services held for the heroes of the dynasty back in their territory, none was held for the Norseman. No man openly mourned him. The state did everything in its power to erase his existence from their records, confiscating his property for the government coffers and removing all mention of him from the histories. Despite his service to the Emperor of Qin and his loyalty, Bloodaxe's presence was a stain upon Chen Wei's reputation, a blot that most were keen on simply forgetting. Of the few records that survived the period of civil war to later generations, almost none would speak of the Norseman from the West, save for brief mentions overlooked that simply noted that the Emperor of Qin held a barbarian warrior in his service. Of the few that remembered him, most considered it a kindness to the name of the dynasty that he be not mentioned. With the eventual deaths of his compatriots through battle or natural causes, the name of the fearless Norse warrior from afar would be forgotten to the annals of time forever...
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Re: SimRTK V5 Individual Endings

Postby Shien Dun » 03 Oct 2012, 23:35

Shang Shao, the bandit turned general, fought for some time in the service of Chen Wei, earning a record that could be described as average at best. He continued to fight in the hope that one day Pei Chanti might be able to return to Bei Hai once more as a city under her domain, yet her passing made this dream an impossible one. Upon hearing of his lady's death, Shang Shao retired from the military and gave his prized wave-steel halberd to her son before riding away, never to be seen again. A few wondered where he went and what he might do, perhaps if he even might fulfill his vow to personally hunt down and murder those in Wu responsible for Bei Hai's downfall, yet records indicate that he had nothing to do with any of their deaths, despite the fact that one of the last things he said before leaving Chen Wei's kingdom was "the men of Wu will receive their punishment." Not much was spoken about him until the fight for succession after Chen Wei's death occurred, and even then it was accusations that he had fathered Pei Chanti's son and not Chen Wei, given his close relationship with the Empress and her son, though many even in the opposition's camp doubted this, arguing that if Shao had any reason at all to believe he was the boy's father, he would have remained after her death.

And so Shang Shao's name faded from the lips of the people and remained in only a few records of battles and troop movements. At least, until...


Harvard: 1925
Snow was falling on the ground outside the quaint campus house when Langdon Warner took the cup of hot Earl Grey tea into his hands with a nod and a "Thank you" to his host, Harold Ellsworth. In terms of appearance, the two men couldn't have been more different. Ellsworth was the very picture of an academic: circular spectacles resting on his nose, a graying mustache, clad in checked shirt and a bow tie that matched the sweater and jacket he wore perfectly, and above all, the British accent he had brought with him to the school. By contrast, Warner looked more like a cowboy, with a wrinkled shirt, dusty khaki pants, and a face that hadn't seen a razor for at least two days.

"So," Warner said, "I take it you've completed the translation of those manuscripts I brought you." He was referring to some of the scrolls and books brought back from his expedition to Mogao caves a year earlier, a veritable treasure trove of Buddhist art where he had recovered many sculptures, paintings, and pretty much every work of writing that hadn't already been taken by previous explorers to the area.

"Indeed I have," said Harold, nodding and smiling.

"Find anything of note?" Langdon asked.

"Not much," he replied. "Sutras, maps, astronomy charts, bad poetry."

Warner grunted, then said, "I knew Pelliot must've made out with all of the good works."

"Well, I wouldn't be so sure of that. I did find one rather interesting work."

Warner sipped his tea and inclined his head, his interest obviously piqued. "Do tell."

"Well," Ellsworth began, "it was a rather interesting tale written by a man named Shang Shao. He starts off by recounting his life as a bandit, then as a general for various warlords in the early third century before he ultimately becomes a Buddhist monk. He writes of his own death, in which Lord Buddha himself comes to take him into the next life. Buddha tells him that though he balanced out his life with deeds of good greater than those of evil he committed as a bandit, he will be taken on a journey through Diyu, the Buddhist concept of hell.

"Along the way, he meets and interacts with several of the figures from Chinese mythology, from the Ten Judges of Hell to Fu Xi and King Yama, but the most remarkable parts are the ones where he meets the sinners punished in each realm of Diyu. A few of them are historical figures, such as Shi Huangdi, but most of them appear to be his contemporaries. You see where this is going?"

Langdon furrowed his brow, not sure if his colleague was pulling his leg or not, but then again, Harold was hardly the man to joke around, especially when it came to his work. "You mean to tell me," Langdon said, "that a Chinaman wrote 'The Inferno' over a thousand years before Dante?"

"It certainly seems that way," said Harold. "The similarities don't stop there. For instance, I noticed that the harshest punishments seem to be reserved for those who served under the banner of a faction known as Wu. As it turns out, they were responsible for the downfall of one Shang Shao's lieges, taking away much of her lands through subterfuge and by breaking treaties before forcing them to leave their lands much in the same way Dante and the other White Guelphs were forced out of Florence by the Black Guelphs, whom he reserves much venom for. It is also for this reason that he seems to place deceit and treachery among the worst crimes in Diyu, much as Dante did in Hell. To say the least, the work provides some rather interesting insight into the politics of the era.

"And the liege I mentioned earlier? It turns out that she occupies a place in Shao's heart much in the same way the Beatrice had in Dante's heart, though like Dante and Beatrice, they were never actually betrothed or had any sort of relationship beyond a platonic one. Still, it doesn't stop him from idolizing her as the most pure spirit imaginable when she passes on before he does, just as Beatrice passed on before Dante."

Langdon rubbed the stubble on his chin as he took it all in, fascinated by what he had just heard. "Amazing..."

Harold, on the other hand, was rather stoic, "Quite," he responded, taking another sip of his tea before looking out the window at the snow that was still falling.
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Re: SimRTK V5 Individual Endings

Postby X-Calibre » 04 Oct 2012, 02:36

Colors Index:

Xue Huo Gang (PC)
Lalah Sune (Personal NPC)
A General of Chen Wei's forces (Unknown)


For an errand boy, he had gotten far. For the months he had spent on studying the theories of warfare, he had learned a lot. But this was the first battle he would fight for the Lady and compared to those around him, Huo Gang felt more out of place than he ever did when he strolled through Wu Ling among the Miao. For finally, he too, was ordered to war against Chen Wei's forces.

"Keep order! Remain in formation!"

Ensign Lalah held the troops together better than he ever could. Huo Gang's commands were not as much faulty as they were often too brief and vague. The units of his auxiliary squad weren't roused by any impacting speech or lead into battle with a furious roar, but stood stoic as he did, merely managing to figure which one of the Han he was by his tall stature and his hat - he wore a footman's armor.


Huo Gang pointed far off into the distance into the masses of enemy soldiers.


Lalah procured her bow, tensing it to the apex of what was possible. A deep, bass-like pulse emanated as she released, an arrow flying through the air, striking true - An assistant officer of the General leading the troop that was advancing was catapulted from his horse by the arrow's impact, thrown to the ground. Lalah was a good shot, but not even she would be able to nail a specific person at this distance, but that was never what mattered. What mattered was, it struck near the enemy General, and that it was a lone arrow. That someone of significance was hit was simply a bonus for the wager. This is how one taunted without the use of words. The message had no clear meaning, it may have been a threat, may have been an insult, may have been shock and awe and may have been nothing but an indication that there was someone who could fire an arrow - but it was delivered, and this time it's effect was visible as the General charged to the forefront of his formation.

"Coward who shoots arrows from the back of his army! Come and face me if you have the gu-"

His challenge wasn't needed, Huo Gang already leaping from his ranks to engage, the commander's blades the first ones to clash in the following melee

"Enemy General! State your name!"


"Is it an anonymous grave that you wish for?"


A man of tall stature, trained in martial disciplines, but with comparatively little actual combat experience made Huo Gang a rather predictable opponent in a duel, if still a tough one. He barely caught the last strike of a series of unrelenting blows he wasn't expecting.

"Not bad. For a hooligan who sides with barbarians at least, I can't imagine you're a nobody."

"Just another person of this Middle Kingdom. Tens of thousands more where that came from."

A smirk came from the angle of the enemy General's mouth, intent on trouncing this stubborn youngster. Blows were exchanged, Huo Gang's weapon still awkward and unwieldy due to the awful proportion it had to his body, his skill not up to par with that of a true General of this era, the blade of his opponent lunged, piercing through flesh...

"...Lalah? W-Why?"

Lalah never really was seen as his soldier, having been assigned to guide him by the Martriarch herself, Huo Gang rarely dared to issue her an order - and she never seemed to need them. The woman held the wrist tightly that had stabbed the weapon into her, piercing through to stop inches before Huo Gang's unguarded body, smiling serene as ever with a droplet of blood from the angle of her lips. It was a ghostly smile, strangely haunting even in the eyes of her battle-hardened killer.

"Because like you, I'm just another person of this Middle Kingdom. Tens of thousands more where that came from."

"But... why..."

" shouldn't matter... should it?..."

Huo Gang arose, took stance, his blade at the ready as the woman collapsed between him and his opponent.


"Sun Lalah. Ensign of Jing-Chu of High Lady Miao Li Houa."

His opponent nodded.

"...Enemy General... state your name."

The opposing General, keeping his stance calmly like Huo Gang as the battle raged around them, seemingly unable to touch the two who stood amidst the chaos who were as if detached from the carnage, gazed into Huo Gang's jet black eyes with an earnest expression. In this moment, it was to both as if they faced a childhood friend and eternal rival in one. Enemies, but neither hating the other or seeing them as less than equal.

"A person of this Middle Kingdom. Tens of thousands where that came from."

And the blades clashed once more.


Among the many heroes that rose from the chaos of this tumultuous era, Huo Gang's star shone middling at best. His life was not unimpressive, and yet, humble in significance among his peers. The young man stood out by stature more than he did by name. Whether he was an inspiring or interesting person, whether his services were cherished by his superiors and whether his deeds helped in progress were ultimately subjective... but he and billions of other people who have acted throughout China's History, who have stepped through the torrents of strife to pull their weight in the ever revolving World who have done their part...

What would they be to a foreign observer thousands of years later, browsing through the vast chronicles of this Country?

Would he be a person to them? Or was he just a blip in a statistic among an ocean of identities known as 'Chinese People'?

It's said China has over 4000 years of recorded History and it has been one of the most populated Countries of the World throughout. Think of the notable events and personalities of the history you can recall for a different well known Country today - perhaps your own. Chances are, you are well aware of the significance of these events and people, perhaps you know more details than you ever will about the entirety of China.

The smaller the pond, the easier it is to be noticed as a big fish.

And yet, no matter which number they fraction from, 1 and 1 are equal.
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Re: SimRTK V5 Individual Endings

Postby Wei Fei » 12 Oct 2012, 01:15

Upon the birth of the Prince to Pei Chanti in the summer of 224, Zhang Kong spent more time tending to the affairs of the Imperial household than in the field. By the end of 225, the entire Tiger Guard had been hand picked and trained by Zhang Kong, and they began slowly funneling political petitioners to the Empress. Zhang Kong, for his part, constantly encouraged the Emperor to take a more active role in military affairs. Before the year 228 was through, the Empress, and by extension, the Zhang clan held the purse strings of the empire, and used them to buy loyalty and to have their political enemies assigned to remote posts.

The Empress Pei's untimely death in 234 began to erode the authority of the Zhangs in the empire. None of those remaining in the Zhang's inner circle had the acumen of the lady Pei and after a year of flagging infrastructure, they were forced to cede some control to the Emperor's loyalists. These cracks would prove the undoing of the young prince.

In 241, the young price was coming of majority, and Chen Wei's military expeditions were becoming increasingly dangerous. He would take the field personally every few months, under advisement to even face bandits and barbarians personally. There are differing accounts of his final battle, but it seems his guard left a conspicuous gap in the lines that the enemy broke through.

Thus began the crisis of the Imperial succession. Those loyal to Pei's son sealed off the Imperial grounds, claiming that he was the rightful heir, having been born to the Empress of the Emperor's seed. The first strike of the loyalists to Chen Zhen was turned back at the Imperial gates, but still contained the majority of the military commanders of Qin. The Imperial Price held a few cities at the Eastern part of the Empire through 246, when the Qin loyalists began their final surge. The Imperial Prince and the remainder of the Zhang loyalists took refuge with Duke Sima, and lived the rest of their days in exile.
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Re: SimRTK V5 Individual Endings

Postby Jaerdean » 13 Nov 2012, 22:55

After the debacle from the failed coup, Yindun Zhe zi Yaba fled from the east and moved west. He cut his hair short, shaved his face, and began talking. He acquired a couple scars from the battling, it never being his strong point, and so moved with much ease under different names.

Yindun had become anonymous, sold his farm and sent most of the money to his wife. He had grand plans for rising again through the ranks of an army. Unfortunately, leaving a tavern, filled with rice-wine, Yindun got mugged, losing many of his valuable possessions. When he cried for help, the muggers became violent, one going so far as to cut out his tongue. The irony was not lost on the Mute of Wu. They also broke his leg, cracked several ribs, and gave him more facial scars with repeated kicks to the face.

Yindun woke, his face swollen, choking on his own blood. Using his slate and chalk, Yindun attempted to beg, but with a broken leg and open wound in his mouth, he died on the streets.
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Re: SimRTK V5 Individual Endings

Postby mercurian262144 » 25 Nov 2012, 03:42

Jiang Lianghua, the "Snow Dragon of Chu", continued his fights for the Miao and his lady Miao Li Houa. But as a Han conscript in a land of barbarians, Lianghua suffered from criticism from his native colleagues, who stripped him of his post and his command in the year 230. Undaunted, Lianghua set off to found a town some miles north of Wu Ling, and in the fateful Battle of the Three States of the year 241, set off with his loyal army of 2000 to aid the Lady in her conquest to the east, which resulted in the death of the Emperor Chen Wei. After the war, Lianghua was restored to his original post of General of Tiger Might and became the Governor of Wu Ling, constantly weathering the changes of leadership until Wu Ling became independent at the year 261, until his death in the year 278 at the age of 76 while suppressing a rebellion.
Last edited by mercurian262144 on 16 Dec 2012, 03:30, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Aureal » 15 Dec 2012, 22:53

In this part of Lingling, the streets were usually deserted at this time of night. He had it all planned out- his words, the speed at which he could run, his path through the empty streets, the timing of the passing barges which he would use to make his escape...

His plan did not include the loose rock he suddenly found underfoot.

The yells of his pursuers, a group of perhaps half a dozen men twenty yards behind, grew triumphant as the young Kan Ze's ankle turned on the rock and he went down hard.

"You little cheat!" he could distinguish amongst the furor, much too close for comfort, as he tried to scramble back to his feet, his turned ankle protesting with a sharp pain. Suddenly he was very, very afraid, his breath coming raggedly as he tried to ignore the pain and stumbled forward again; but his momentum had been killed by the fall, and seconds later, he felt a grasping hand upon his shoulder.

He wrenched himself to the side, escaping that grip but another one was there, not bothering to grab and simply barrelling straight into him. He gasped as he went down again, the impact more damaging with the weight of the angry-faced man behind it. Trying to scramble away got him nowhere as the man simply used his superior size and strength to pin the young Kan Ze down against the cobblestone road.

"Not so smug now, are ya?" jeered one of the others as they began to encircle him.

"Where is it?" growled the man holding him, hands tightening uncomfortably around Kan Ze's limbs. He shook the young man roughly. "You going to do this the hard way?" he rumbled threateningly after another moment with no response. Slamming Kan Ze's head back down against the ground, the assailant then grabbed at a pouch affixed to Kan Ze's belt.

His head was ringing, but it was his last chance to break free. With a sudden push upward, he managed to loose himself from the first man, but as he attempted to dart between those in the encirclement, a cudgel thwacked across his back.

"Stay down, boy!" came a harsh laugh as he staggered under the blow. There was a second impact, a crack and sudden stabbing pain in his lower leg. The faint beard growing along his chin did nothing cover the contortion of his features as he writhed on the ground in terror and agony for what seemed like an eternity before a new sound broke the jeers of the violent throng.

"Break it up, you hooligans!" a commanding voice called out. The cacophony of insults, threats, and blows quieted as Kan Ze's attackers paused, looking to the source of the voice. Bloodied and breathless, the young man couldn't even bring himself to try to look. But his captors did.

"Stay out of this, old man," uttered one with a sullen mixture of bravado and fear. "Got nothing to do with you."

"I think it does," interjected the other. "Now, back away from that young man, or do you want to do it the hard way?" There was a long pause broken only by Kan Ze's own rasping breaths as he struggled to look up.

"That's it, get 'em!" came the command, and then he couldn't hear his breaths anymore over the sudden noise of an all-out street brawl. A body came staggering in his direction and sprawled nearby, with what appeared to be blood gushing from a wound on its head. Blinking, Kan Ze willed his muscles to pull himself away from the scene of carnage, but he had barely pulled himself up into a limp seated position when suddenly it was all over and a broad-shouldered man was standing over him.

"You must be Kan Ze," rumbled the interloper as he crouched down to better survey the battered young man whom he had just saved. "You might not remember me, but your uncle's been concerned about you, with good reason it seems."

Even in the dim torchlight, in his battered state, the scruffy greying whiskers on the man's face could hardly be mistaken for anyone else's. "H-Huang Gai?" Kan Ze choked slightly as he spoke the name of the leader of the city's most powerful militia group. "I.. it seems I owe you... my thanks," he found the words slowly, his tongue caught in his throat. His gaze remained caught upon Huang Gai's face for a long moment, until the warrior himself broke the eye contact to survey Kan Ze's condition.

"Think nothing of it, my boy," his mouth split in a friendly grin. "Let's get you off the street and patched up." Huang Gai put a hand on Kan Ze's shoulder, but the younger man suddenly recoiled at the touch, putting out an arm to push himself up off the cobblestones.

"I- I'm fine," he uttered, his face flushing red all of a sudden, avoiding looking at Huang Gai. His momentary surge of emotion fueled him long enough to get to his feet, then the sharp pain of broken bone lanced through his leg, hitting him with a white flash of agony that quickly faded into a haze where he was falling, falling right into Huang Gai's arms...

The darkness was all around him as he woke, bound and helpless. Yet the memories stirred by that dream lingered. For a while, there was only thoughts of the shelter of Huang Gai's arms, the sense of peace there keeping the bleakness of his situation away. Even as the stirrings of the military camp in which he was imprisoned broke into his reverie, he was at peace.

Kan Ze, former Governor of Lujiang and ruler of the so-called state of Later Song and current official representative of the so-called Zhen era's zhuhou, had stared Death in the face before on more than one occasion. More than once, Death had blinked first, often aided by a well-timed slap from Huang Gai. This time would be different. It had to be different. And the irony was, this time even Huang Gai would have had to agree.

He carried much guilt with him, the guilt built up over a lifetime of responsibility. The deaths of dozens of guards who had been his escort upon his diplomatic mission to Yu Nanren only to be slain at the hands of rebellious generals was only the latest of many guilts carried. Chief among them was his perceived failure to live up to Huang Gai's ideals. Ever since the warrior's death two decades ago, Kan Ze's connection with him could only go in one direction. Would Huang Gai have approved of the way he had expanded his power to protect the people of Lujiang? Kan Ze was horribly afraid that he would not, but lacking guidance, he could see no other course.

This should have been his blackest hour. Held hostage by resentful officers of the land with which he'd warred years ago in those attempts to hold enough power to protect Lujiang from them. Used as a bargaining chip against his own former officers in hopes that they would surrender some of that territory in a misguided effort to save him. Standing at the verge of a war that he'd hoped had been buried years ago and had foolishly risked putting himself in this position only to have his hopes dashed.

Yet, he was at peace. The dream lingered still, even as he was led roughly from the tent and dragged to the front of Wu's army for display. Looking to the walls of Jianye, Kan Ze could see the faces of Zhao Yan and Xu Sheng, the armies of each side drawn up and waiting for a signal as the threats of their leaders echoed through the air. And he knew what he had to do; it was the easiest decision he could recall making in ages.

"Bargaining with those who have already proven treacherous is a fool's task, and I work with no fools," Kan Ze voice suddenly rang out, his lips twitching slightly in a faint grin as he looked to the men who'd worked for him for years, his words replete with meaning. They would know that he supported the hard choice, the choice which seemed a betrayal. Just as his dream had let him know that Huang Gai felt likewise...

There was a stunned silence for only a moment, then one of his captors called out for someone to shut him up, and hands were grabbing him again to drag him and his disruptive words away, but too late. Kan Ze did not know whether his words had made a difference, or Governor Zhao and Commander Xu would have made the correct choice anyway; but he now he was confident- his death couldn't be more than a few hours away.

He could hardly wait.
Zan Zhikun (38) 108*-85*-102*-48-70* Breeder(e); Jeer; Logistics; Military Engineer; Navy; Reversal; Rumor; Scout; Siegecraft(e); Spy; Terrain; Trap; Wall
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