Block novel gathering historical figures throughout history to a Chinese setting Part I
|Act One: The Yellow Turban Dissent, A Grand Design is Founded
Chapter One: Zhang Jiao’s Final Act
Alone on the summit of a small hill Zhang Jiao, delirious from his illness, screams at the heavens. “Why am I to die? So much remains unfinished! Have you forsaken me Lao Tzu! Have You forsaken me heavens!” Jiao weeps bitterly while he pounds the earth and screams towards the heavens. Even when the sun sets and his hands bleed he refuses to stop. He needs his answer, he feels as if he never stops then he will never die, but his illness creeps silently in his weariness. The darkness reaches across the sky like a curtain with white diamonds pebbled on it. He, tears still flowing, opens his eyes to realize the sun has gone. He struggles to get to his feet but his knees are shaking and his shoulders are weary.
Out of the darkness a figure in glowing white robes appears from the air riding a dragon. “Jiao, your work is not finished. Do you still have the book of the way?” Jiao falls to his knees from both exhaustion but exaltation. “It was lost when my followers carried me to camp as I fainted and spat blood.” Lao Tzu put out his hand as in to have a book in this empty hand, but soon after the air swirled into a glowing ball of air. It settled in front of Jiao and stopped glowing. “Take this book and do not fret, call others to you aid! However I do give this warning, be careful about who you bring.” Jiao grateful let loose a torrent of thanks. He bowed his weary head and when he looked up Lao Tzu and the dragon were gone, but the book remained.
Jiao opened the pages in the dark with only the moonlight he read many spells. He summoned the winds as he once had done. He summoned lightening as he once had done. He then opened to a page he had not seen before. He read the characters aloud and summoned time itself. Jiao with out understanding of the new book treated it like his old book. However the skies turned to storm clouds and a tornado came upon the hill. The book disintegrated and Jiao lay on the ground. The last gasp of air escaped his worn lungs and his eyes turned pale. Jiao was dead, but fragments of the book, and to newly summoned time spread across the heavens, and through time itself. Most of the fragments traveled to the east over the oceans.
Chapter Two: Disturbance at Okehazama
The rains poured down upon the captured Yoshimoto, he wailed towards the heavens as his execution neared. Soldiers arrived and Nobunaga’s raiding party was clearing through his sleeping guard. Instead of running away he pulled out his own sword and prepared to face the enemy. He took one last cup of the wine, still warm from the feast only hours before. “They will never take me alive!” Yoshimoto declared as his charged at the advancing men.
He slew three men before a spear of another pierced his shoulder. He cried aloud in pain as his slew the man. He was now unable to fight properly and was totally alone. His soldiers died around him and he was now alone. He prepared to kill himself but as luck would have it the sky glowed and a piece of paper fell onto his head. Instantly he disappeared. One of his soldiers who resembled in somewhat was killed and was shown to be Yoshimoto.
When the light faded and Yoshimoto was again able to see. He overlooked a great valley with blue banners in a pass and yellow from the hills. Bewildered and afraid he looked around him. He was alone except for two armies facing off against one another. A scout on horseback rode up towards him. It’s banner was yellow and his expression was startled. It was as if he had seen the light and went to investigate.
With the swiftness of his blade his engaged the scout and cut him down. The horse lay without a horseman. Yoshimoto mounted the steed and rode off to look for his army. “I must be in the hills of Kai!” Yoshimoto headed southwest.
Chapter Three: The Burning at Kyoto
Yoshiteru held his katana against the advancing turret of glistening blades of the Miyoshi army. He took his blade into the masses. Slashing back and forth he slew the advancing men. He fought back valiantly. But soon the front line withdrew. Yoshiteru first pursued the enemy but as he saw archers preparing to fire he quickly went back into his mansion.
The walls were pelted by arrows of fire, his own guard were stumbling in a kneeling position. They were noble and loyal soldiers. The fought for him many times and as the fires grew around his mansion he knew that he would die with these brave men. None of them tried to run when the Miyoshi army came to his doorstep. The solemn atmosphere surrounded them. Figuring his death was near he went to the cellar and took out the finest of wines. He drank to his loyal men and he too drank from the sweet nectar.
After his third cup of wine he took the cup and threw it into the fire. His men did the same as he settled his fears of death. “We noble few, our noble cause remains unfinished. We stand today in the fires of the past. We will die today, but our souls will live on forever!” As if on cue the doors were knocked over and through the fires soldiers came in with flourishing spears. Yoshiteru and his men leapt into stance and attacked the approaching men.
The room enveloped in a glow. Yoshiteru thought his nirvana was approaching and never stopped slashing. His men followed his lead. The enemy soldiers lay dead on the floor and the walls caved in. Yoshiteru and the others were flooded with white and could no longer see or hear. When the fires were no longer felt and the air was no longer warm they could finally see. Yoshiteru was on the side of a great river. Banners bearing the name Cheng was on one side of the river while Yellow were on the other bearing Han. Yoshiteru and his men had not seen these banners before and were wondering if they were in heaven. But all too soon they realized that they were not.
Chapter Four: The Lost Three, The Found Four
The three generals that had once been so highly praised were now charged with treason by the man they had been so loyal to. Han Xin, Xiao He, and Zhang Liang were tied in mounted boxes being carried by the soldiers they had once led. “Has the heavens forsaken me!” cried Han Xin as his shackles rubbed his raw skin. “This is not the will of heaven my friend, but an act of our lord” Liang said with somber solace towards Han Xin. “He fears us three” He states quietly. He had already come to terms with his fate. Having been shown so much favor he only requested that his children be spared when he confronted Liu Bang when he heard of Xin’s capture. Liang was then taken under He’s wishes. “We three could topple the empire we had worked so hard to build” He continued. “But I was loyal!” Xin exclaimed. “Yes you were loyal. Ask yourself if you are now, you will know your true nature.” Liang also stated. He too had come to terms with his fate.
“General Han” said one of the soldiers. “I am poor, and unworthy. I am sorry about your fate. We all are, we wish to give you one gift. A gift of wine, so that you may enjoy yourselves for a little while longer” Han was moved to tears and accepted the young soldiers’ request. His shackles could barely hold the cup given to him. And the warm wine soothed his raw throat. He coughed once but was soon in ecstasy. “Lord Xiao and Liang, do you want a cup?” Xiao and Liang nodded. This would be their last act, or so they thought. As luck would have it their throats were soothed by the wine and joy soon overcame them. Tears flowed like rivers as they talked of old tales of Xiang Yu’s last stand. And the tale of a light stealing his body.
They arrived at their final destination. The three were led to the top of the steps so that their crimes could be listed in front of them. Of course none were true, while it may have happened it did not affect them in actual act. For that Bang looked upon his three heroes with tears. “Crocodile tears” Xin thought quietly to himself as the warm feeling slowly faded away.
They were allowed final words before they would be set free from their shackles to be in white clothing and finally beheaded. Xin’s last words were “I have fought for my lord, I have won him great victories. It could be argued that without me, he would never be. That Xiang Yu would never have died and the war would be waged to now. The Qin would still be alive and I would be no where. But if I had to choose to do this all again, even knowing my fate… I would do it gladly.” Xin was allowed to change his garments.
Xiao He’s final words: “I was born of humble beginnings. I looked upon the young lord with great admiration. His skill to entice people into his service were great. That is how I came to be his Prime Minister. I was but a honest trifle for his great achievement overtook the land. Xiang Yu perished and the land is his. I have no regrets.” He too was allowed to change.
Liang’s final words: “I wonder if this is all but a dream. I wonder if this is really the end. The book of changes stated that us three would not die today. It also stated that our lord was not yet done in his conquests. But it appears that he is done with his conquest. It appears that we are to die today. I only ask that my lord be liberal to the people, and not put faith in un-honest enterprises.
The three were now dressed in white. Their cloths were fit for a death of a hero. All three approached what would have been their final resting place. Liu Bang came down personally and wept bitterly. It was as if the act of him killing them were no where in their minds they too wept and said their goodbyes. But light enveloped the four men. The guards raced to their emperor, they too were engulfed by the spreading white.
Liu Bang, Han Xin, Xiao He, Zhang Liang, and a thousand guards were in a plain. Looking past a flooded city. Four armies raged in open warfare. Black Banners, Blue banners, Green banners, and Pink banners all crowded the plain. Arrows fell from the city like rain. It may have belonged to one of the armies below but their arrows showed no mercy to their own men. Liu Bang looked to Zhang Liang. “Did you foresee this?” “No… I wish I have, for it appears that the book of changes was correct. Our work is not done.” “I see…” Liu Bang nodded in slight tone. He had fought so hard for peace it was a shame for him to fight again.
Xiao He spoke up to Liu Bang. “We should send out scouts to see what armies are fighting. Based on the size of our force we should ally with which ever one is strong enough to win the battle, but weak enough to take over when all is done.” “Excellent!” exclaimed the emperor. All thoughts of the execution were far from his mind.
Han Xin grabbed a spear from one of the soldiers, and a helmet from the other. “My lord, I told you that if I had to choose, I would do this all over again!” Bang smiled at his old friend and the four began their plot to found the Han all over again.
Chapter Five: Two Emperors
Among the carriages of the Emperor of Jin there lay two esteemed chairs. The chair of Sima Yan, and the chair of Sun Hao. Sima Yan treats Sun Hao with respect, when if the positions were reversed Sun Hao would have Sima Yan burned alive or any other of the god forsaken torments he would have inflicted on him as he had to so many others. Hao and Yan have some minor understanding of one another. Hao is even regarded as a prince, much like his predecessor Liu Shan. He is not receiving the same treatment. Arriving at their destination of Luo Yang Yan and Hao leave their carriages and are embraced with the sound of a thousand metal pieces rubbing against one another in attendance.
With great poise Sima Yan marches onward up the steps of the imperial palace. With due haste the pudgy Hao tries to imitate Yan, but is obviously unable for he stumbles three times before he even makes it to the second platform and Yan is moving on to the fourth and final platform. Guards of Wu are allowed to serve their former master. Old generals and relatives remorse for the lost kingdom, while Jin’s founder extends sympathies that he himself is the root of. Young and Old attendants to the emperor crowd him as they escort their fallen liege up the stairs to his new home.
Yan stops when he reaches a step not three steps from the top and he turns to see Hao struggling to reach the third platform. The emperor was too used to lax and lavish lifestyle Yan thought quietly to himself. Even Liu Shan was far more elegant when he was received by his late father. With two cracks of a pole, several dozen horns, and several other instruments of various tones and keys they announced the arrival of their emperor. Not the fallen emperor, but the new emperor of China. The successor to the Han.
Hao gasping desperately for air heaves his breathe, while simultaneously trying to hide his unhealthiness. One of his relatives who now serves as a guard lends aid to his emperor. Sima Yan can only sigh at the devotion the Wu people show for their lax emperor. It amazes him that he was able to defeat them so swiftly and so quickly. Only the prime minister and the lords of southern Jing and Jiao were actually resisting his never ending expanse of power. Two more steps and Hao finally is with the emperor, not three steps from the top. “Prince of Wu, do you require a rest?” Yan asked, trying to be as pleasant as possible and a most hospitable host but deep down his own disgust was raging within him. “No, no, I’m okay. I just lost my wind, it has been a while since I had climbed such a distance!” Hao tries to laugh but his wheezes replace the laughter and his feeble attempts to cover himself end there.
Moving now forward in nothing but socks both the Prince of Wu and the Emperor of Jin walk towards the grand hall. Hao was better accustomed to such walks and was able to keep up with the far more graceful emperor. Close guards numbering more than three thousand were huddling around the Prince. Yan’s guards numbered less than one hundred. If anything Yan’s trustworthiness would be the worst thing imaginable for himself. He had once offered peace to the Kingdom of Wu but it was rejected with open warfare. Then when the land was captured all they wanted was peace. Yan tried to put his best presence forward for both himself and history itself.
Moving faster now as they enter the imperial courts. Among the hundreds of bowing officials that await them many are from the fallen states of Wu and Shu. Chen Shou and his pen were among the most prominent of the Shu representatives. From Wu Hao chose to represent the former Kingdom, even though there were far more supporters of Sun Hao’s distant relative Sun Xiu, he had already been in Jin since Sun Hao had destroyed the final heroes of Wu. Fearing his own life he fled to Sima Zhao and later Sima Yan’s warm embrace. Now the distraught individuals cling to Sun Xiu as the true leader of Wu. Sun Hao despised the man and wanted him killed. Yan intervened before hand, but the fact that Sun Xiu was seated not too far from Sun Hao’s premiere position was an offense that was hard for Hao to bear.
When the court’s prestigious scholar read from the book of changes and announced that troubles lay ahead Hao called it an outrage and treason. The scholar trembled and pleaded for his life. With two guards from Wu camp escorting him out of the presence of the court it was obvious that the scholar would be put in jail, tortured, and finally killed. But with pity on the scholar Sima Yan ordered the Wu guards to halt. He took the scholar by the arm and pulled him in front of a blank sheet of paper to rewrite the fortune. Startled was the court to have an emperor have physical contact with a man of the lower gentry that that offense alone was enough to make their blood boil and their faces red.
As the scholar began to flip the coins minted by Sima Qian himself, the great grandfather of the emperor the same prophesy was being spelled out. But fortune smiled on the scholar as light began to flood the area around them. As the final toss was had the prophesy changed and the book of changes displayed “With new challenges, an emperor will be made immortal” As if by the gods themselves the Imperial Palace in it’s entirety was placed upon a Hill, with trees at the base of the lower platform. They Chen Shou stood and declared them to be in the hills of Yizhou. The Shu gentry officials stood to verify the near mystical statement of Shou. It was proven he was in fact correct, for many recognized these hills. But out of the hills came an army under the banner of “Pang” Sima Yan rallied the guards to mount a defense Sun Hao was so awestruck and startled that Sun Xiu took command of the Wu guards himself and charged downward into the outer reaches of the Palace.
The advancing army was spooked by the sudden appearance of the Palace and thought it was the work of the immortals. Pang Xi thought that this was a sign for his rebellion against Liu Yan and ordered his army inward. Unknowingly sparking a conflict between the officials of old. Had it not been a distant nephew of Pang Xi that spoke into the ears of Chen Shou who in turn spoke to Sima Yan about the origins of the advancing army Sima Yan would not have believed it. But the whole story was far more distant a fact to reach in the minds of even the greatest of the officials as the simple fact of who was leading the army.
Chapter Six: The Wandering Soul, The Lost World
Yoshimoto flees the scene of the conflict. The Blue are defending themselves against a volley of fire and arrows from the Yellow. The Blue however are being overrun. Yoshimoto thought for a long moment as his horse moves faster away from the opposing armies that they look like shades of colors sketched on the hills. Thoughts such as where should he go? Or where is the way home? Riding faster the hills start the give way to forests. There were forests in Shinano but not this thick, and he came across no villages that dotted the forests of his homes. He is thinking he may have been farther away from home than he realized. The sun is starting to set and Yoshimoto is set on his goal.
A great flowing river overtakes the horizon. Yoshimoto first thought that he had reached the ocean somewhere in Kanto, but he soon realized that it was not the ocean. He noticed a small town and he went into it. He thought it best to make up a guise. Saika came to his thoughts. But he found it too peasant like. When he finally reached the town he had decided to just say that he was a guard of the Imagawa. It was a different type of town that he had been used to. He came across a man holding a pole on his shoulders with wine at one side and water on the other. Yoshimoto has never seen someone hold both wine and water at the same time and was mildly curious. “Where is this place?” Yoshimoto asked. “I… don’t know what you’re asking”. “Here! Where is it, what part of the empire is it on!” Yoshimoto was getting rather annoyed with the simpleton. “Um… This is a small village off of Xi He.” Yoshimoto utterly annoyed and his face flush with red “What province!” Yoshimoto screamed at the man. Startled the man went off balance and water spilled and the wine tipped over but most of the contents remained inside.
“Sili! Sili!” The man said now on his knees begging forgiveness when he noticed the cloths the man was wearing and the sword he had at his side. And that the horse he was on bared the name “Yuan” on it. Yoshimoto drew his sword angrily declaring “WHERE IN JAPAN IS THIS PLACE, WHAT ISLAND!” The man began to cry with bitter tears claiming he knew not what Yoshimoto asked. Yoshimoto kicked the man in the forehead while he begged and noticed that there were a lot of villagers staring at him. Yoshimoto raised his sword high in the air and openly asked if any of them knew what island they were on. None could say, they did not know what Japan was. When the cold air came on to Yoshimoto he thought he was with the Ainu peoples of the north as the only way to explain it. But to humor his growing doubts he asked if he was in the land of the Emperor Ming. None of the villagers knew what he meant so he thought that he was not in China. But then an elderly man came out of the crowd and asked if he meant the land of Emperor Ling. Yoshimoto had doubts on weather the peasants had been exposed to the correct way to pronounce the Kingdom across the sea of Japan and said yes. The old man then said that we were a thousand Li above the capital of Luo Yang, and that emperor Ling was dead.
“Lies!” declared Yoshimoto with rage. He took out his katana and aimed it at the old man’s throat. “This is not the truth! Tell the truth or you shall die by my hand” The old man trembled and tears flowed from him like rain. He claimed that he told nothing but the truth and that he was indeed in the north of Luo Yang. Yoshimoto wanted desperately to kill the old man and silence these lies, but he hesitated. He turned to the crowd with eyes staring at him, they themselves trembling and pleaded that the old man had told the truth. Yoshimoto simply sheathed his blade and said he needed a boat. Luo Yang and then getting proper transport to coast was his only way back home. The men and women were too weak to refuse. When he was about to depart ten men came out and asked if he served Yuan Shao, Yoshimoto said no. They then told about how oppressed they were and they wished to join Yoshimoto. Smarts would tell Yoshimoto to allow them to join in case of a run in with the Manchu’s army. But it was pride and stupidity that motivated Yoshimoto to allow them into his ranks.
With ten followers he moved onward into the river. When he wanted to cross the river straight across the followers told him not to, that he should go down river and then join up with the larger river that flows there for that is where Luo Yang is. When Yoshimoto asked why he could not ride there on horseback they told him that the river was on the opposite side of the great river and that he would run into the Ashikaga army. “What!?” Yoshimoto openly declared more shouting than asking a question but it was obvious he expected an answer. The told him that Yoshiaki Ashikaga had taken over He Nei and founded a rebel state there. Yoshimoto wanted to know more but when he heard the tale of him taking over a Han army detachment and allying with the Yuans Yoshimoto doubted that it was the same Ashikaga that are shoguns in Japan. And his attention drifted back towards Luo Yang.
Chapter Seven: Wu Qi and Liu Biao
A man who had extraordinary talent is on his way to be killed; only he does not know it. Under his liege with he served so faithfully had finally succumbed to the earth. Though he served his liege with loyalty it was the King that protected the vassal. With his final breath the doom of Wu Qi was sealed. He had just arrived when the men that would have him killed show fake smiles and cold warmth towards the general. Wu Qi had served several lords in the past and had always been destroyed because of his radical views on court, which he believed should be free of corruption and family deals. The Nobles were angered and now they plot to kill him through a mask of friendship. Bearing his sword in both hands fully sheathed Wu Qi hands it to his attendant who quickly moves out of court. Unarmed only bearing a helmet as a sign of status not for defense, he is now alone among the gathering crowd of malicious souls.
“My Liege… I have one against the state of Wu and Yue, Chu is now the strongest state of them Middle Kingdom. I am sorry I could not be with you at your passing…” Wu Qi’s tears flowed freely from his eyes staring at the dead body of his former master. Wu Qi had felt close to this man far more than he had with his previous lords. The King of Lu demanded the death of his wife and the King of Wei almost had his children by his first wife executed. Too tired now and withered with age this liege asked nothing more than for his loyalty and support which he had given with open arms and a vivid soul. Now this lord is dead and he is alone. Wu Qi rose to leave and meet the Prince who will become King, Wu Qi never really knew the son of his liege, instead he had been out on campaigns winning Chu’s fame. Now he is facing a stranger who will demand the same respect that he had given his father, a close friend.
“There he is! Kill Wu Qi!” Before even the tears could dry the angered nobles attacked Wu Qi, armed with swords and spears each tried to stab him or slash him. “Don’t cut his face! I want his head perfect on the city gates!” Wu Qi shouted “Never” and fled back to his lord’s body. “If I am to die it will be next to my lord!” Wu Qi faithfully declared as swords and spears were swapped for arrows and bows. A single volley was fired towards Wu Qi from only a dozen meters away. One struck his shoulder, another his leg, and finally one truck his head, if not for the helmet he would have died where he stood. Wu Qi looked back at his lord and saw that arrows covered his body, not even his face was spared from the volley. “No! Why could it not have been me!?” Wu Qi cried falling over on the mutilated body. The Prince rushed to the scene with a hundred guards and all the nobles were put to the sword. Wu Qi was bleeding and fading into a slumber. The Prince called out to Wu Qi but Wu Qi could only mutter “My Pri…n…” before he fell on his side unconscious. The Prince was furious at the sight and thought Wu Qi was dead, when he went to see if Wu Qi was not just unconscious he saw his father’s mutilated body.
Enraged he flashed his sword stained with red into the air and screamed to the heavens. He then left the chamber of his dead father and hunted down every noble who had bore Wu Qi ill. Before the day was through over eight hundred were dead. Wu Qi was slowly regaining consciousness as the hours past. Both wounds were only superficial and though he had lost a lot of blood Wu Qi stumbled to his feet. His helmet fell off his head and his hair fell out and reached his shoulders. He reached for one of the swords of a dead nobleman but found himself tripping on his own feet. Two more steps and he fell to the ground once more.
A gentle glow filled the room. The Prince having slain all he could find had come back to see the sight. He and his guards were caught in awe but the light contracted to that of a glowing orb. It descended upon the near lifeless Wu Qi and in a flash his body was gone. The Prince was stunned and the attendant that had been given Wu Qi’s sword before the nobles attacked kneeled before the Prince and told him that Wu Qi had ascended to heaven and was among the likes of the immortals. The Prince built a shrine to Wu Qi many years later and shared his works throughout the kingdom.
A gentle glow similar to what was in the chambers of the dead king was now showing in the square of Xiang Yang. All the people flocked to see the sight, men young and old, poor and rich, noble and peasant all showed to see the glow. The news reached Liu Biao and the Kuai brothers in court and the three accompanied by a dozen other officials and a hundred guards arrived at the square. No sooner had Liu Biao arrived had the glow contracted, and then disappeared. Wu Qi’s body remained behind. All his wounds have been healed and his helmet was next to him, but no longer bore the arrow. He himself had the appearance as if he was twenty years of age.
Liu Biao approached the man, Cai Mao objected and stopped nothing short of pulling Liu Biao back as Zhang Yun came at the man with a spear. Wu Qi awoke and sat upright. Rubbing his eyes he noticed his helmet and placed it on his head. It was at this moment he noticed the spear not two feet away from him aimed directly at his face. Wu Qi payed no real attention to Zhang Yun apart from noticing his spear as he looked around to see a thousand faces and a hundred armed men. Wu Qi stood up and confronted Zhang Yun. “Where is my King?” Wu Qi thought he had said this in a direct manor but it seemed that the man in front of him did not understand. “My King, The King of Chu, where is he?” The spear moved closer towards Wu Qi “What King! This is the Han! Liu Biao is our governor! Our Emperor is lost among the ruins of the old capital”. Wu Qi thought for a moment. “Emperor… Do you mean that Fuxi, Nuwa, and Shenrong rule this land?” Zhang Yun flourished his spear and angrily shouted “What?” With a swift stroke the spear was plunged at Wu Qi, Wu Qi simply side-stepped the spear thrust placed it under his right arm and jerked it free from Zhang Yun all in mid thrust.
Having taken the spear Wu Qi used the blunt end to stab Zhang Yun’s chest through the armor. Losing his breath he stumbled backwards. Cai Mao called for his men to charge at the man. Wu Qi simply stood still. “Know your enemy…” as spears were thrusted towards the standing man. Wu Qi ducked and avoided the clamor of spears with the captured spear his cut the shins of the advancing soldiers. He then broke free from the mess of spears above him “Know yourself.” Cai Mao ordered another charge but after the display the guards did not wish to move. Liu Biao alone stood out of the crowd and advanced towards the man.
“What is your name?” Wu Qi fitted his helmet and looked deep into the eyes of Liu Biao. “I am Wu Qi, supreme commander under the King of Chu, may I ask where he is?” Liu Biao with his arms firmly behind his back circled the man. “Wu Qi, surely not the Wu Qi that wrote a treatise on war and turned Chu into the strongest of the states?” Wu Qi smiled at the man “What is your name, sir?” Liu Biao himself seemed amused by the situation as well. “Liu Biao, third descendent of the Emperor, lord of Jing” Wu Qi’s face turned back to a frown. “What is this I hear of emperors? There are only three and they are all in the distant past” Liu Biao shook his head and bowed to the gentleman. “So you really are Wu Qi…”
Outrage erupted from Cai Mao and most of the civil officials. The Kuai brothers Liang and Yue looked at each other troubled and approached Liu Biao, they knelt behind him. Two more officials followed suit and most of the people in the background all knelt to Wu Qi. Cai Mao refused and some of the officials also gave staunch protest. Wu Qi now himself looked troubled. “What did you mean by that?” Liu Biao rose to his feet with a saddened face. “Sir, your lord is dead, it has been five centuries since your arrival here. Chu is gone and China was united twice.” Wu Qi’s face darkened and his eyes narrowed on Liu Biao. “The state of Qin united all of the states by conquering them… Chu fought bravely but fell to the general Wang Jian after several campaigns ended in disaster he lead a force of six hundred thousand and defeated Chu” Wu Qi’s temperament began to boil “Less than four decades later two lords rose and defeated the state of Qin. Liu Bang of Han and Xiang Yu of Chu.” Wu Qi looked at Liu Biao quizingly and asked “And Xiang Yu united the land once more?”
“I’m sorry but that is not the case…” Wu Qi’s heart sank and his fell to his knees. “Xiang Yu was mighty and conquered Yi, Jing, Yang, and Sili or as you would say the realm of Ba, Shu, Chu, Wu, Yue, Qin, and most of Wei. However Liu Bang controlled the rest of the land and fought him. Xiang Yu fought bravely and won every battle. But with each victory his men left him. After a decade of fighting Xiang Yu was left only in Ba Shu and Chu. He captured Liu Bang’s father and was going to kill him unless Liu Bang withdrew but Liu Bang said that both of them had destroyed the state of Qin for the good of the land and saw him as a brother and that they were also allies in the past. Xiang Yu regretted what he had done and released his father and came out to surrender with only eight hundred men. Liu Bang then attacked Xiang Yu with a force of a hundred thousand. Severely outnumbered Xiang Yu fought against Liu Bang’s men but for every hundred he killed he lost eight men. Soon all what was left was he and his brother. They fought side by side but when his brother fell Xiang Yu got into a rage. He killed over a thousand men before he lay upon the masses of dead bodies and said ‘Take my head as your prize’ as he said that his body was covered in a glow and he disappeared. This left Liu Bang to unite the land again and became Emperor of China.” Wu Qi felt pride swell in his stomach and it raised throughout his body. “Chu did not perish without a fight!”
“Indeed it did not, but what are you, an immortal doing down on the earth?” Wu Qi looked at him with a look and said, “I’m no immortal”. The Kuai brothers looked at each other and Liu Biao stared at him deeply as if trying to see behind the man. “You have lived for over five hundred years and look no older than a young man when you died in Chu, you were an old man” The Kuai brothers now stood next to Liu Biao, Liang spoke first. “The Prince of Chu saw you ascend into heaven and erected temples in your honor, you can even visit them now.” Then Yue “thousands view your temples every passing of the moon. If this is not a sign of a revered man I do not know what is” Wu Qi looked at his body and realized what they said were true. He had been an old man not too long ago yet the five hundred years seems to only be a matter of hours in his mind.
“It only feels like hours…” Liu Biao walked closer to Wu Qi with a reassuring face trying to make Wu Qi feel better. “Why don’t you come to the city palace, there you can adjust to the times. Later we can visit the temple if you like” Wu Qi looked into the eyes of Biao and gave a sigh. He thought that Liu Biao was kind hearted man and the two officials behind him seem able. Wu Qi dropped his spear and fixated his helmet firmly on his head and decided to leave with the three men. The officials followed suit, and all of the townspeople followed closely behind the famed Wu Qi.
Chapter 8: Yoshimoto's Distress
Yoshimoto thought heavily as he drifted closer to Luo Yang. The ten men would be useful, but would they be enough? None of them look very Japanese, and there is always the possibility of an unwanted entrance. There was a lot of things to worry about, none of them were greatly pleasant. After several hours one of the men inquired why Yoshimoto was so deep in though, the reply was rather blunt and simple, "I'm thinking, go away".
Yoshimoto was far too cultured to be wondering in a simple boat to the capital of a strange land, however he had not known it was a strange land until he heard where he was. It feels surreal, and in the end there is nothing he can do. "How much longer!?" Yoshimoto bellowed suddenly in frustration. This startled some of the men, one of which tripped and fell. Yoshimoto was told it would be a long time, almost a days traveling. Yoshimoto's face grew red and his fingers twitched. "A day... a day? a day! A DAY!?" raced through Yoshimoto's mind, just as he felt like nothing could be worse, a boat carrying several dozens of rambunctious men came into view. They seemed to be celebrating something, but it wasn't important to Yoshimoto what it was, only that they were in the way, and Yoshimoto did not like to be delayed.
The boat then pulled right along side Yoshimoto's, all of the men were armed with weapons and armor. This surprised Yoshimoto, from a distance all he could see and hear were that of a celebrating crew. These men were no Samurai, and were far more like commoners who picked up weapons and armor, but changed nothing of themselves. Yoshimoto grew extremely angry and walked into an inner section of the ship. This was not Japan.
Chapter Nine: Great Warrior of Old
A great and majestic man sighed, surrounded by men armed with spears and swords. His leg cut, his face dirty, and his whole body is worn, the man tried to sit up against a rock and all the men fell back with fear. "What's the matter, don't you want my head!" bellowed the man, despite his injuries the mere presence emitting from him keeps the common soldiers at bay. He never lost a single battle in all his life, this doesn't make sense to him. He had all the power, wealth, land, subordinates and allies. He constantly asked himself "why did this happen to?" Alone with all his troops either dead or in flight, except for the dead body of his brother that lay just a few feet away.
Then a man stood in front of the soldiers, his expression was solemn, and his face all too familiar. "Are you Lü Matong?" asked the great man, with blood starting to dry on his face. "You are Matong, you can't deny it" The man pulled a small dagger from underneath his blood stained cloths. "I heard the Prince of Han has a great reward for my head..." said the man, his resolve was now growing within his breast. As he continued to speak a soft gentle glow surrounded him. The soldiers began to quake in fear and fell back. Only Matong stood "Here let me give you this-" with that the glow surrounded the man and he disappeared. Startled Matong fell backwards, as he looked around all what was left was the dagger he held, and dry blood where he sat. The man grabbed the dagger and looked around. The body of the man's dead brother was still there, and their looks were all too similar. He took that man's head instead and with that the legend of Xiang Yu came to an end. Matong would later recant this in his life and claimed that Xiang Yu had not died that night, but this was disregarded as Matong in his old age grew senile, and finally he died with the secret never accepted.
Xiang Yu made a motion to commit suicide within the glow, however he found the dagger was no longer in his hand. As his hand disappeared in the light he looked around frantically. Finally as his vision came back to him he found himself on a riverbank overlooking a great river. After several long moments he realized that his leg was not in pain. Xiang Yu then looked around not knowing where he was. But just when his heart was about to turn to despair the great warrior smiled.
Chapter Ten: The Fallen Emperor and New Beginnings
Standing by the window of his chamber, looking out across the ocean separating him from his homeland, he dreamed of a revived Empire and the glory of his youth. He was getting old now, and his stomach grew larger with each passing year. Despite all this he did not lose himself to despair. He instead instilled new laws, made new institutions, raised an army and a navy even if it is only a pathetic island. Then a plan was hatched in his head, to escape this island and make his way back to France. That's the only thing racing through his mind. Then a knock came from his chamber door, then two more in quick succession. "Enter" was ushered from the man's mouth.
One man in his early twenties came in, he had been one of the more favored underlings by the Emperor. When he came in he bowed rather lowly, even though the grandeur of palaces and armies have all but left him, he respected the courtesy. "How goes the operations?", the young man looked joyfully at the Emperor, "Splendid, new iron mines are being build and our army is growing strong by the day. It's all thanks to you that the island of Elba is growing stronger day by day!" Napoleon, just smiled and looked back out to the see. The young man then left just as quickly as he came closing the door on his way out.
"Maybe life here isn't so bad after all" thought the Emperor for a few fleeting moments before pulling himself back into his original objectives of returning to France. Night came soon enough and Napoleon went out to his balcony. Looking across this island of thirteen thousand souls and wondered how great his achievements have been. Napoleon was certainly not above patting himself on the back, and was humble by no means. "Of all my achievements this is among the greatest" thought the emperor, though the ideas were still not entirely realized it certainly was being stated in his subconscious. He also felt a form of genuine attachment to the people of Elba, while it was his achievement it was for their benefit. With those ideas slowly coming to his consciousness, Napoleon retired back to his chamber and within moments he fell asleep.
Napoleon was riding on horseback into the fray of cannons and gunshots, before finally arriving face to face with his fifth regiment. "Here is your Emperor, kill your emperor if you wish" instead of more gunshots cheers of his name, as well as "Long Live The Emperor, Long Live France" were thrust into the air for all to hear, within his joy he felt triumph. Within moments Angels descended from the heavens, one spoke to Napoleon, startled he looked around to find none of his men were there, and the praises had fell deaf. "What do you want from me!?" demanded Napoleon feeling as if his triumph have been wrested from his hands. "This is not where you attain glory!" declared the Angel and with that Napoleon's eyes grew wide and his sat up in his bed.
"A dream?" Napoleon thought "But it felt so real... my imagination must be playing tricks on me". Napoleon then thought he saw moonlight flooding his room, but it quickly turned out to be anything but. In some mixed feelings of terror and wonder he ran from his bed and slammed open the door, he ran to hall of his mansion and then out the door. He saw nothing but the white glow. He ran out racing into the center of Elba, even making it to the shore. He was not as young as he once was and his legs and chest gave out, he collapsed staring out into the ocean as it slowly disappeared from view.
When he could finally see again the pain in his chest and legs was gone, he also noticed a vigor in his step and turned around to see his island, and his people in clear view. Some of them starting to notice Napoleon on a beach, Napoleon smiled and laughed out loud, he must have ran in his sleep. It was nothing more than a rather strange dream, then he heard dull voices from the people inside one of the towns. "What was that glow?" repeated over and over, Napoleon's smile grew dim and he turned back to look out at the sea, it was only then when he started to notice something off in the distance, not so far in the distance at all as he came to realize that less than several kilometers away there was land. No, it was closer than that. "there's no land for many dozens of kilometers!" In disbelief he raced back to town and asked the very first person he saw what was that land over there. The person didn't notice and fell back when he realized that the Emperor was right in front of him. Soon everyone noticed that the Emperor was there, and then they took notice to the land from across their shores. A small panic ensued before a gunshot was heard. Napoleon raced to an army barracks and ordered them to get in formation to quite down the city.
With artful precision the panic was quieted and people were ordered to their homes. While all were starting to get settled physically, mentally none were more restless than Napoleon himself. He made his way to the shipyard and saw that some of the more larger ship were grounded in the water. "The water's shallow?" that along with a thousand other thoughts raced through his head, finally Napoleon stopped moving around and slapped himself in the face as hard as he could. It stung far more than he had expected, and slowly he began to organize is thoughts. "None of the people were affected or changed", "There is land on one side of the island, one side... one side..." with that Napoleon opened his eyes and looked for a vantage point, on the north coast he then headed west, it was rocky and was incredibly hard to climb, he was surprised himself when he finally got to the top and saw the sea, but he saw land on that side as well.
"Porto Azzurro!" With that he made his way to the East, it took him almost quite some time to make it there, and when he was there he looked out to the sea and saw that there was an opening in the land there. "We're NOT Trapped!" was thundering in his mind. After spending the rest of the night, and later all the next day looking from vantage points all over the city he finally collapsed back at his mansion. He found two openings in the land, meaning he was either in between two great landmasses, or the Island is situated in a rather large river, no not a rather large river but the largest river he had ever seen. He convinced himself that it was an inland sea dividing some continent. That didn't settle his mind, this place is too surreal, and the fact that the Island itself moved in the glow made him uneasy.
As he searched for answers he fell asleep again. He had the same dream as before, with that he knew that there was something wrong. He awoke to see a remarkable sunrise, thinking that it may all have been a dream he made his way towards the window, but his hopes fell short. Heading back through his chamber he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror, since his old age began creeping up on him he had lost all sense of vanity and rarely ever paid attention to his looks. But this surprised him, he looked young again. He then stared deep into the mirror in disbelief. When he looked at himself he noticed it was not just the mirror but he felt young again. Napoleon laughed hysterically and declared in triumph that this situation would never tear down his spirits. And all the explanations running through his mind from god to witchcraft to natural causes to unnatural causes were silenced and he began to trust in his dream, his ability, and his ambition. Nothing would stand in his way.