Arc 1, Session 2: Stormclouds.   Posted by GMLian.Group: 0
Xin Wude
 player, 130 posts
Wed 20 Aug 2014
at 16:58
Re: Arc 1, Session 2:  Stormclouds
"This sword has seen better days, Commander," Wude draws his blade, the top half broken off by the Sword Sinner, "but it is at your disposal."

His brow furrows, and he looks to Tien Fong and the two Delegates. "Or do we not call you 'Commander' anymore?"
Zheng Tien Fong
 player, 129 posts
Wed 20 Aug 2014
at 20:54
Re: Arc 1, Session 2:  Stormclouds
"I've achieved nothing worthy of a new title, Wude," Tien Fong states nonchalantly. "Commander will do just fine."

Despite this statement of humility, the military man strides towards the wall and, without asking the mayor, takes down the map of the northwestern territories and lays it upon the table.

"The way I see it, we have about a month to amass allies and resources, prepare the troops, and establish the offensive. Yun Haolong's retinue will be the first domino to fall, and we need momentum on our side from there to ride all the way through Snow Leopard and into the capital."

He turns again to the swordsman and the priest. "We need to meet with our outlander friends. Without their numbers and cooperation, this is a doomed endeavor."
GMLian
 GM, 203 posts
Wed 20 Aug 2014
at 21:00
Re: Arc 1, Session 2:  Stormclouds
Does Nothing bows his head, "We will get you any additional troop plans you need.  You won't want for information, Zheng Tien Fong."

Mayor Fat Boar rocks back on his heels, hooking his thumbs into his belt.  "Well, Wude, I do believe you call him whatever he wants to be called at this point.  The Priest here we might as well call Jiang Ziya."

"The Imperial Rites will need to be fulfilled at Jian Kang, one way or another."  Hears Everything informs Cai Lu, seeming to snap out of his shock.  "But I understand the Gods are traditionally understanding about how the rites interact with a possible dynasty change."

"The Imperial Seal is a heavy burden." Does Nothing says to Tien Fong.

Old Doctor Cat clears her throat.  "Far be it from me to interfere, here, but Hanging White Paper depends on trade for its rice and grain.  Where are we going to get the food?  Without food comes starvation, with starvation comes disease."

"Best to ask Buliwyf then."  Does Nothing agrees.  "Not only do you need their numbers and cooperation but you'll need to know how they survived the whole march here in the first place."

"I never did like Yun Haolong.  He's the type that bows so much you wonder how his back supports his weight.  But his soldiers are competent, Commander.  And look, there.  See the passes?  They'll slow you down.  You still will probably get hit by at least one Imperial army out in the open on the approach to Jian Kang, even if it's hastily raised.  There's a lot of ground to cover."

This message was last edited by the GM at 21:01, Wed 20 Aug 2014.

Cai Lu
 player, 116 posts
Thu 21 Aug 2014
at 01:16
Re: Arc 1, Session 2:  Stormclouds
"I can't oversee the replacement of a dynasty, true, but a certain spiritual authority can be bestowed," Cai Lu replies, "I'd best set to work on the talismans. They should be ready by tomorrow. In the mean time, I've promised to help move an oven."
Zheng Tien Fong
 player, 131 posts
Thu 21 Aug 2014
at 17:45
Re: Arc 1, Session 2:  Stormclouds
GMLian:
"The Imperial Seal is a heavy burden." Does Nothing says to Tien Fong.


One look at Tien Fong's somber eyes speaks volumes to his understanding of this statement. He carefully takes hold of the seal from Does Nothing, then makes for the door.

"We will check on the Buliwyf and the others. We will let you know shortly if we have an army to march with."

This message was last edited by the player at 19:19, Thu 21 Aug 2014.

Xin Wude
 player, 132 posts
Thu 21 Aug 2014
at 18:41
Re: Arc 1, Session 2:  Stormclouds
The mention of Buliwyf returns the image of poor, maimed Arnwulf to the forefront of Wude's mind. There isn't much that could've taken his attention away from the horror of his encounter with the Sword Sinner, but it just so happens plotting open rebellion against the Emperor (or his corrupt magistrates, if you want to get picky about it) is on the list of things that can. Part of him would rather not face Arnwulf's kith and kin, but there is no choice in the matter.

"I'll accompany you, Commander."
GMLian
 GM, 204 posts
Thu 21 Aug 2014
at 19:26
Re: Arc 1, Session 2:  Stormclouds
Scene 5
---

The Prison
Xin Wude and Zheng Tien Fong


Old Doctor Cat accompanies Xin Wude and Zheng Tien Fong, intent on checking up on the barbarians.  She insists that they're not likely to have improved much.

She's right.  Most of them are still paralyzed, incapable of speaking or moving.  Arnwulf is flat-out unconscious from blood loss, though she insists that he will live- and possibly even fight once more in the future.

"I'm going to try to at least unparalyze Buliwyf's vocal cords.  If I had done it earlier, he may have screamed himself hoarse."  The doctor announces, producing a pair of acupuncture needles.

A pair of pricks later and Buliwyf coughs, his voice a mere croak.  "Commander.  Once again we are in your debt."  He says in the crude language of the barbarians, "I hope you have killed all the skulkers."

---

The Teahouse
Cai Lu


The Delegates are left alone.  Cai Lu finds himself accompanied by Mayor Fat Boar, who has perked up at the sound of an oven.  Oven means food, after all.  The Mayor looks like he's lost a few pounds just during the talk, and to be honest he looks a little grotesque.

Installing the new oven is a cinch for the massive Cai Lu.  The hardest part will be reinstalling the wall; the new one required removing some of the wall.  But the owners insist that they'll handle that themselves, please please, sit down, the Mayor and the Great Daoist of Hanging White Paper in the same room, take a seat, we have some wine!

The Mayor is all too happy to do so, dragging Cai Lu to a table.  The first jug of wine is poured by the Mayor.

"So.  Hell of a day.  He remarks to Cai Lu, holding up his jug of wine.  "To your health.  Thanks for helping save me from that confounded web."

This message was last edited by the GM at 19:28, Thu 21 Aug 2014.

Zheng Tien Fong
 player, 132 posts
Thu 21 Aug 2014
at 22:38
Re: Arc 1, Session 2:  Stormclouds
Tien Fong crouches down by Buliwyf's bedside to look the poor man straight in the eye.

"I am saddened to say that what we have endured is but the first wave," he responds solemnly. "And from what we have determined, these assassins' intentions are to instigate war between the people of this city and your kinsmen, so that their masters may profit from these hostilities."

He clasps the foreigners hand firmly.

"What saddens me more is that these assassins are under the employ of corrupt officials that have have the ear of our emperor, bending his young mind to their will. We have allies that seek to counter these villains, who will shelter us from these killers as best as they can, but there are no guarantees."

He pauses as he considers his next words.

"I cannot not sit idly while these schemers ruin our lives, friend Buliwyf. That is why I have come to you with this proposition.  Join us as we march to remove these men from power. We are but hundreds against their thousands, but this our fates are ours to determine, and not subject to the whims of these powermongers."
Cai Lu
 player, 117 posts
Fri 22 Aug 2014
at 01:30
Re: Arc 1, Session 2:  Stormclouds
"I still owe you thanks for shouting out the warning," Cai Lu replies, toasting the Mayor before rubbing the small scab that first wire had opened on his nose, "How long before we have to start expanding to avoid a famine?"

He drinks the wine slowly.

"And I suppose I'll be burning the midnight oil tonight, creating the proper talismans. So many things needing blessings or warding these days."
Xin Wude
 player, 133 posts
Fri 22 Aug 2014
at 02:53
Re: Arc 1, Session 2:  Stormclouds
While Tien Fong treats with Buliwyf, the Sword Eccentric takes a moment to examine Arnwulf. Lacking any medical knowledge whatsoever, it's a fruitless gesture, but he feels compelled all the same.

"I must thank you again, Doctor," he quietly adds, taking the 'old' Doc aside. "If it weren't for you, neither young Arnwulf nor I would be here right now."
GMLian
 GM, 207 posts
Fri 22 Aug 2014
at 03:30
Re: Arc 1, Session 2:  Stormclouds
Xin Wude and Zheng Tien Fong

Buliwyf listens, his eyes half-closed as he takes it all in.

"The Old Ways told us to fight like gods when outnumbered, to never surrender no matter the cost.  Our greatest heroes are the men who die taking a hundred more with them to the feast of the Gods.  We had to give up the Old Ways to make it here.  My people have set aside the Old Ways, Commander Tien Fong."

His hand tightens around Tien Fong's, squeezing it hard enough that Tien Fong can feel his bones creak.

"We had to set it aside to survive, like a man must put aside his sword to hunt deer in favor of a bow.  But a bow's of less use against ten men than a sword, and so he must take it up again if he wants to survive there.  Still, the followers of the Old Ways will complain of my choice if I follow you."

Buliwyf struggles to sit up.

"But you've acted with honor during this whole damned business and you have understood the truth of the Blood Challenge.  You have seen our people's worth.  There's no shame in a lesser warrior bowing before a greater.  There are plenty of our heroes who found their calling as the spear-bearers of a greater one.  Our people may act as spear-bearers for yours.

If we each must be ten men, then so be it.  We will have ten times the honor, and ten times that for helping you kill the schemers.  There are few things my people hate more than a scheming wretch too cowardly to dirty their own hands, willing to poison their chieftain's ear for their own gain.

So if we die, we will die honorably, friend Tien Fong.  Wotan will look upon us with fatherly pride.  if this is not the Twilight of the World he will gladly take all of our souls as his chosen warriors.  Then it will be an eternity of food and feasting and one last great war."


Old Doctor Cat gives Wude a tired smile.  "You're welcome, but anyone could've done it.  It's easy to deal with people like the Sword Sinner, Wude... puff yourself up and let the old predator atavism take over.  Predators don't like when prey get uppity, they don't like breaking their teeth.  If she'd decided to attack we all would've died.  It was all a bluff.  What I lost I can't get back."  She pats his hand, "But you would've done the same for me in a heartbeat.  How could I not have stepped up in your defense?"

She looks at the slumbering barbarian.

"As for him, I am convinced he's half ox.  He shouldn't have been alive, let alone capable of leading me back to you.  Thank him more than me."

---

Cai Lu

The Mayor raises his own glass, chugging it down with a great sigh of happiness.  "After the announcement is made?  A month before the granary gives out.  This is going to be a cold winter and our population's doubled overnight.  I expect some trade to still trickle through but I believe our new Emperor is too optimistic about the rate of our little endeavor.  Jian Kang's academy has its share of talented scholars and fortune tellers.  They'll no doubt be able to see our intent before long, and raise small armies to slow us down at the passes.  We'll have to take most major cities on the way to Jian Kang or we'll be cut to pieces on the way.  Mind you, waiting the month is the smartest approach.  Proper preparation is key.  The Commander's young and talented and it warms my cold little heart to see that he's not just going to make a mad dash right off the bat.  It makes me think we might actually have a chance."

A big bowl of rice is placed between them, steaming with heat from the new oven.

"Of course, you've struck upon a unique thing the Commander may not have noticed, Cai Lu.  Hanging White Paper provides 55% of the paper graded as Imperial Quality.  It's the paper of choice for anyone who knows anything of paper."

The mayor gives Cai Lu a froglike smile.

"It's also the paper the Imperial Army and certain other important people use for fireworks."
Cai Lu
 player, 118 posts
Fri 22 Aug 2014
at 03:59
Re: Arc 1, Session 2:  Stormclouds
"...that could serve our purposes, yes. Although we would have to hurry now to profit later," Cai Lu muses, finishing his first cup of wine before he starts on the rice, "I'm afraid my use on the military side of things is limited. Perhaps a few of the more talented barbarians could learn the basics of my style in a month or so."

He looks around the teahouse.

"Although I must also admit to disliking the troubles that seem to be piling about so peaceful a place. They have let their games get out of hand that this is needed to tidy up affairs."
Xin Wude
 player, 134 posts
Mon 25 Aug 2014
at 01:28
Re: Arc 1, Session 2:  Stormclouds
"I grew up in the slums of Jiankang, Doctor; I've spent more of my youth watching bettors and bluffers than I'd care to mention." Wude speaks softly, almost wistfully. "If that was a bluff, it was one of the finest I've seen."

"And it doesn't explain the pull of Earth chi I felt when you confronted her."
Zheng Tien Fong
 player, 133 posts
Mon 25 Aug 2014
at 15:20
Re: Arc 1, Session 2:  Stormclouds
Tien Fong's smile is gracious and infectious. After all the calamity that has befallen him and Hanging White Paper, to hear the chieftain's words brings more than just relief — there is also joy, and elation.

"My heart rejoices to hear that you and your people would stand with me, Buliwyf. To have courageous and noble warriors behind me buoys my spirit to the Heavens."

He savors the moment, his hand clutching that of his brother-in-arms, but he knows they have little time to waste.

"Between my comrades-in-arms Wude and Cai Lu and I, we will train your men and bolster their skills. But we will need your people's craftiness and your keen tactical mind to help us get far. To have made it this far into our borders is no small feat. Please, share with us what you know of feeding and sustaining your armies for such long distances."

This message was last edited by the GM at 18:02, Mon 25 Aug 2014.

GMLian
 GM, 208 posts
Mon 25 Aug 2014
at 18:30
Re: Arc 1, Session 2:  Stormclouds
Xin Wude and Zheng Tien Fong

Buliwyf's smile fades.

"We lost many."

He barely manages to completely sit up, adjusting his position to make it easier.

"We left with a year's worth of food, but that went quickly.  Trade helped.  When men died, their weapons became trade goods; a good steel sword on the steppes will buy you plenty of horses and meat.  Tribes that didn't trade with us were plundered, sometimes wiped out.  We sent scouts ahead of us and behind us to find more places to trade or raid and many didn't come back.  We had many fishermen but they are more used to the oceans than to the rivers around here, which do not have nearly enough fish to feed for our people.  Our hunters had a lot more luck.

Really, though, the one who might've saved us was Old Man Wyk.  He invented two carts, one lined with leather and fat and the other half a man deep.  In the first we collected rainwater and in the second good black dirt.  Then we grew wheat in the carts as we traveled.  They didn't provide us much food, but it was enough to get us through some of the tougher times.

Unfortunately the carts are long broken, our cattle have mostly been consumed.  That's when it was decided we had to show you our worth."




The Doctor in the meantime glances over at Buliwyf, obviously making sure the man doesn't strain himself.  She sounds distracted when she replies to Wude.

"The Phoenixes are all about theatrics, Wude!  Even our doctors are trained in the arts of diversion and flattery.  It comes as second nature to me, though I suppose I should be grateful you're a good audience member." 

She turns back to him and smiles.

"That wasn't my chi.  I only knew the Fox Spirit Song.  I have enough sensitivity left that I could tell when the Delegates were getting to the good part. From there it was just timing and positioning.  The Sword Sinner was too distracted by her victory to notice that the chi wasn't coming from me, but instead Does Nothing.  The Delegate's power was coming to a crescendo so I just... rode it for a little bit.  Timing, theatrics, and flim-flammery!  I am an excellent doctor which means I am an even better quack when I put my mind to it.

Believe me when I tell you this:  my penance is quite clear.  The only way I'll ever use chi again- in a natural manner, of course- is if the Phoenixes allow it.  Only they know how to reverse my punishment."


---

Cai Lu

"That's always the case.  The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago."  The innkeeper approaches with a big bowl of spicy pork, much to the Mayor's delight.  "When you really think about it, Cai Lu, this was going to happen.  I called it right at the beginning, if you'll remember.  The barbarians are a pleasant smokescreen and something the people can unite against.  Beating them too quickly doesn't suit their purpose."

He takes the pork with relish, plucking them up and taking enthusiastic bites.

"Which means the logical thing in this next month isn't just to train the barbarians, it's to figure out how the Spider Judges planned on making this all work.  We figure that out and I guarantee we'll have a hell of an advantage.  That means someone will have to head to Spinning Gold and see just what the Spider Judges did with all the women and children.  That right there is what I can't quite figure out.  Why not just massacre them on the spot?

... Huh.  I just had a thought.  Do you think I could make Governor?"

This message was last edited by the GM at 17:11, Tue 26 Aug 2014.

Zheng Tien Fong
 player, 134 posts
Tue 26 Aug 2014
at 15:43
Re: Arc 1, Session 2:  Stormclouds
GMLian:
"Unfortunately the carts are long broken, our cattle have mostly been consumed.  That's when it was decided we had to show you our worth."


"And your worth you proved," Tien Fong assures Buliwyf. "And before all is said and done, it shall be validated again."

The commander stands. "I need you to rest now, friend Buliwyf. We will announce our intentions to our people tomorrow."
He pauses, however, before checking in to see if Wude is ready to leave. "One last thing. A question lingers, based on intelligence we have gathered. Another army, reported to be foreigners as yourself, ransacked another border settlement like ours. In your migration to these lands, have you seen this second force?"

This message was last edited by the GM at 17:26, Tue 26 Aug 2014.

Cai Lu
 player, 119 posts
Tue 26 Aug 2014
at 15:47
Re: Arc 1, Session 2:  Stormclouds
"I assume all signs at Spinning Gold will have been hidden. While sleeping outside hardly bothers me I'm not much of a tracker," Cai Lu tells the Mayor, "Still, Xin Wude and the Commander are both better suited to instructing our new army. And I can make good time."

The Priest shrugs.

"I made Abbott so I don't see why not."
Xin Wude
 player, 135 posts
Tue 26 Aug 2014
at 17:34
Re: Arc 1, Session 2:  Stormclouds
Wude can't quite suppress a chuckle, as inappropriate as the circumstances may be for mirth. "Remind me never to play dice with you, doctor; I'd clearly be out of my league."
GMLian
 GM, 209 posts
Tue 26 Aug 2014
at 17:42
Re: Arc 1, Session 2:  Stormclouds
Xin Wude and Zheng Tien Fong

"The land cannot support a second force like ours."  Buliwyf says with the air of a man who knows damn well what he's talking about, "If they did exist, we would have fought with them first before coming here."

The doctor smiles at Wude and walks over to the fallen chieftain.  "Commander, it's best to let him rest for now.  I expect him to at least be walking within a day or two, so long as he doesn't strain too hard.  Honored sirs, I'd suggest you leave the barbarians alone for a spell.  I'll be taking care of them for now."

---

Cai Lu

"Ah, but I am actually competent!  The competent are never promoted," The Mayor jokes to Cai Lu and gestures at the food.  "Take some.  You'll be breaking the prohibition against killing soon enough, you Daoists always do during changes of the Mandate.  You might as well enjoy some meat while you're at it.

And honestly, I wouldn't go alone if I were you.  That's just asking for trouble."

Zheng Tien Fong
 player, 135 posts
Wed 27 Aug 2014
at 16:02
Re: Arc 1, Session 2:  Stormclouds
The commander nods and squeezes Buliwyf's hand. He looks to Wude briefly, then heads for the door.
Xin Wude
 player, 136 posts
Wed 27 Aug 2014
at 16:29
Re: Arc 1, Session 2:  Stormclouds
Wude looks up at Tien Fong, stands, and turns back to give Old Doc Cat a deep, respectful salute by way of valediction. When the pair have exited and stand under the open sky, the Sword Eccentric pauses and draws a deep breath.

"I'd say I hope you know what you're doing, Commander, but I don't think this is the sort of thing one knows how to do before it's done." A quizzical look comes over his face. "I'm sure Cai Lu can explain how that works."
Cai Lu
 player, 120 posts
Wed 27 Aug 2014
at 18:14
Re: Arc 1, Session 2:  Stormclouds
"So is taking too many of our xia away from here. I might take a handful of the barbarians and soldiers," Cai Lu grants, deferring the meat, "I'm not overly concerned with the politics of the thing. These things have a cycle that the observant can ride out."
GMLian
 GM, 210 posts
Fri 29 Aug 2014
at 01:06
Re: Arc 1, Session 2:  Stormclouds
Xin Wude and Zheng Tien Fong

The two step out under the open stars, alone but for a few troops manning the inner walls of the small garrison.  Most of the rest of the troops are scattered around the guard towers, the tall city walls, and the rest of the city.  Keeping the barbarians in one place is a damn nightmare for any city commander but they have been docile.

---

Cai Lu

"That's why two go when the assassins still aren't sure why they failed, the Delegates are covering our asses, and the enemy troops don't know they're enemies yet.  The Mayor snorts.  "Yeah, there are cycles and I'm very observant, but politics got us in this mess.  Well.  If you'll need me, I think it's time I took a long rest.  Time to digest and get some strength back."

He's destroyed the bowl of pork.  He stands up, patting his belly- it lets out a cavernous sound.

"Thank you for dinner, Cai Lu.  We'll speak again soon."
Cai Lu
 player, 121 posts
Fri 29 Aug 2014
at 19:51
Re: Arc 1, Session 2:  Stormclouds
"Were I to send such assassins I would include a courier with no reason to be near the battles. That they might convey such information immediately," Cai Lu says, nodding, "Eat and rest well, Mayor. It wouldn't due for us to have both an army and a town to manage."
GMLian
 GM, 212 posts
Tue 2 Sep 2014
at 04:15
Re: Arc 1, Session 2:  Stormclouds
"Ain't that the damn truth,"  The Mayor agrees jovially as Cai Lu leaves.

Session end.