Blog for new project: Historical Fiction of Three Kingdoms

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Re: Blog for new project: Historical Fiction of Three Kingdoms

Unread postby Shu Ryorin » Thu Dec 10, 2009 11:12 pm

Very well done! The editing did indeed improve it. Very intriguing portrayal of Cao Cao; I agree with HowSwiftThySword in that it was an interesting choice to make him so loyal to the emperor. I like the unusual interpretation. :D

A few things I noticed, though:
Crazedmongoose wrote:The younger one bore the unmistakable appearance of gentry. His silk headband and refined jaw line granting the curious prisoners a sight rarely seen.

The last sentence in the first Guo Jia paragraph is a fragment; you could just fix it by putting a comma in place of the period and combining the two sentences, or by changing "granting" to "grants." The fragment is just bit jarring to read.

Also, Xun You mention's Yuan Shao calling in "bannermen." This may be nit-picky, but their were no "bannermen" until the Qing dynasty in the seventeen century, so maybe another word would suffice?

That's it really. It's all very well done! :huohu:
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Re: Blog for new project: Historical Fiction of Three Kingdoms

Unread postby Crazedmongoose » Fri Dec 11, 2009 12:22 am

Shu Ryorin wrote:Very well done! The editing did indeed improve it. Very intriguing portrayal of Cao Cao; I agree with HowSwiftThySword in that it was an interesting choice to make him so loyal to the emperor. I like the unusual interpretation. :D

A few things I noticed, though:
Crazedmongoose wrote:The younger one bore the unmistakable appearance of gentry. His silk headband and refined jaw line granting the curious prisoners a sight rarely seen.

The last sentence in the first Guo Jia paragraph is a fragment; you could just fix it by putting a comma in place of the period and combining the two sentences, or by changing "granting" to "grants." The fragment is just bit jarring to read.

Also, Xun You mention's Yuan Shao calling in "bannermen." This may be nit-picky, but their were no "bannermen" until the Qing dynasty in the seventeen century, so maybe another word would suffice?

That's it really. It's all very well done! :huohu:


Oh wow, I forgot bannermen had that meaning in the Chinese connotation. (And I'm half manchurian as well, how embarassing :p)

Because I mean this mostly for a western audience who have no understanding of orient history or three kingdoms, I try sometimes to link it with western feudal terms. So in this case bannermen merely mean the lesser warlords and governors and nobles across the land, (such as Gao Gan ) who are loyal to the Yuan faction.

But yeah thanks I'll change that to avoid the confusion.

As for my interpretation of the characters and events, yep you'll just have to wait and see. :wink:

Though I assure you, despite initial appearances, this is not biased for Cao only. That would be boring.
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Re: Blog for new project: Historical Fiction of Three Kingdoms

Unread postby Crazedmongoose » Fri Dec 11, 2009 2:23 pm

Trying something different, just because the scenes right now have been very dialogue heavy and fairly conventional. There's going to be a lot of these scenes, especially in the early stages and I'm afraid it might get monotonous.This is unedited by the way, as once again, it's quite late and I need to go to sleep.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Wu Shi

A splash of water brought the counselor to his senses. Readjusting his vision, he saw that he was still in the dungeon of Xu Chang. One of the tigers, holding an empty pail, nodded and returned to his work.

The bloodied doctor was still tied to the post. The tiger now brought out a new toy. It was a row of long wooden pieces, with spaces in between each piece that was contractable via connecting strings. The counselor suddenly noticed a buzzing sound in the background ever since he was re-awaken, sharp and consistent. He wondered if those tigers could hear it too as he watched one of them untie the doctor’s hands and stuck one finger in between each slot.

The sickly man ignored the protesting doctor and continued to stare directly at the counselor. His eyes affected a penetrating gaze, but they didn’t look like eyes…they were stones of deepest black. The counselor recoiled every time he met the sick man’s gaze; he could only stare around at sickly man’s face. This was not horror, he had experienced horror before.

The doctor screamed with no earthly tenor as the tiger pulled the strings of the contraption, drawing the counselor’s attention. No! He can’t take his eyes off that man! The claws and teeth of tigers were nothing compared to what the man might do to him if left unattended. Yet where the sick man was a moment ago there was only space. Gazing around, the counselor panicked. The buzzing was now quite pronounced. Where was everybody? The torture post was empty now too. Maybe they had all gone to investigate that strange noise?

Unable to cope with a mounting sense of dread, the counselor moved. Stumbling to the front walls of the cell, he fumbled for a way out, grasping at the wooden bars.

The door is open

The sound was unbearable now, rising in pitch and frequency. It's source was in the cell with him! Not daring to turn around, the counselor made a dash for the door. He wasn’t certain what the sound was, and what the sickly man had to do with it, but he knew that if he could make it out of this dungeon it would all be alright again.

A booming voice broke through the deafening noise.

“Watch this”

A clammy hand stopped him dead in his tracks, clutching him by the throat. The counselor gasped for air as all of a sudden the doctor’s face materialized before him. His eyes were closed and streaming with blood, his mouth was agape and suddenly a great silver pointed tongue protruded from the opening, preceded by a drizzle of scarlet.

And now a second face appeared in his sight, the sick man’s. The sick man held out his hand and in his grasp was a bloodied silver dagger; the doctor’s tongue disappeared and the rest of him fell out of view and collapsed below. The sick man’s visage was truly terrifying, two deep wells of midnight atop a featureless alabaster face. His clammy hands were markedly soft and caressed the counselor’s jaws. Again the buzzing ceased momentarily.

“Just give me a name, give me a name and you can live…you want that don’t you? To live?”

The noise resumed, and a great weight with it bore down atop of the counselor. His legs gave way as he fell to the floor. The sick man shouted above him with urgency, but his face was no longer eldritch and hideous. His eyes, they were the most beautiful things the counselor had ever seen. Tears rolled down the counselor's face as the sick man above him gave rapid orders. The tears gathered on his mouth. They were salty.

One of the tigers, with the empty pail, had stood with his back to the counselor whole time. Now he turned around and knelt down besides the counselor as the sick man ran off shouting for something.

The counselor’s heart stopped as their gaze met, he opened his mouth to scream and nothingness embraced him.

With blood streaming from his eyes, ears, nostrils and mouth, Wu Shi, a deputy consultant of the Han Court, died in agony and found no glory in his loyalty.
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Re: Blog for new project: Historical Fiction of Three Kingdoms

Unread postby Crazedmongoose » Sat Dec 12, 2009 3:10 pm

Last bit of chapter 1!

edit: rewrite, unedited but like it much better in substance

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Cao Cao (Style Name: Mengde)

He remembered a summer, too long ago. He and Yuan had gate crashed a wedding. Their hosts weren’t nobles or gentry, but they must have been quite wealthy in their own cozy way. Eighteen year old rice wine, fermented ducks, braised river trout…good ones, caught locally from the Yin river; not like the half dead ones peddled by six different traders before served in an inn in Luo Yang.

The groom was heavy with wine, the foolishness carried late into the night. The father was making some disparaging remarks about Ru’nan.

“Bastard” Yuan said, red faced, half making to pull his sword “What’s he got against my hometown?”

Cao laughed and moved to stop his friend. “What do you think the bride looks like?”

Yuan, still smarting from the father’s remarks, muttered “How good could she look? You know what I say ‘You’d f••• mules all day too if you lived in Shou Chun’”

“The first son of a rich landowning family marries the third daughter of some artisans…yes, how good could she look?”

Yuan paused, smiling wickedly, he suddenly pointed to the fence “Thieves! Thieves! Making off with the wine!”

At once the guests lunged for the gates, grabbing knives, staves, some drawing their swords. Cao and Yuan dashed backwards amongst the chaos towards the villa. Cao laughing, Yuan shouting all the while “Bastards come to steal the wine! Looked like they were from Ru’nan! Not a good one amongst them!”

They dashed through the front door, knocking over a terrified servant, charging through another door, drunk with hubris, they crashed through silk curtains of crimson and came before the terrified bride.

She was pretty enough, in a modest way. “What now?” Yuan asked.

Cao looked thoughtfully “Do you think it's too heartless to deny the groom on his wedding night?”

Then it was another hour later, Yuan and Cao were bounding down the fields. The bride was on Cao’s shoulders, and four scores of angry drunks only a few hundred meters out of sight.

“So after he gets his bride back, and I’m happy for him” huffed Cao, still drunk and too full to run with such a struggling load “what stops them from beating us to death?”

“We were protecting her from the thieves! “

“…and we thought there was a mob of eighty thieves all of a sudden in the villa and thus had to make for the fields?”

Yuan never gave his rationale, as the great princeling of Ru’nan promptly tripped and fell into a ditch.

Cao let go of the bride, and frantically tried to find his friend in the dark. “Yuan! Get up!”

“Can’t….thistles….hurts”

The rowdy voices drew closer. In desperation Cao shouted “Here! The flower thief from Ru’nan is here! In the ditch!”
A moment of silence, and the yells and footsteps drew closer, before Yuan leapt out, cursing, covered in spikes, as he and the laughing Cao took off into the night once more.


“Will my lord be retiring as well?”

Cao started from his nostalgia and turned to the young man at the door of the suite. It was Cao Chun, a distant nephew of his and captain of the Dragon Guard. Competent enough, but Cao missed the familiar sight of the hulking Xu Chu standing just outside. The Three Dukes Tower was empty now save for some discarded scrolls, dying embers and Cao himself. Cao had sent the men home, court convened in the morning and they had a momentous task.

“What time is it?”

“Chou shi my lord”

Only two shi-chen to court, there was no point in trying to sleep. “Has there been any news from Fengxiao and Xu Chu?”

“None my lord”

Cao nodded and dismissed him. He felt incapacitated without his closest advisor and bodyguard. But Guo had insisted on leading the investigation and having full use of the Tiger Guards. Cao could hardly disagree, who else could he use? Of his advisors, Xun Yu was too proper and righteous, Xun You too embroiled in military stratagems, Liu Ye tries to micromanage men and their eccentricities like one of his finely honed machines and Yang Xiu’s cleverness was restricted to essays. His officers on the other hand could face down entire armies on the field but have the political acumen of spoilt children.
Still, Fengxiao should have been here earlier, Cao thought glumly, he would have understood Cao’s point, articulated it, argued it. Liu Bei is no common man, and this conspiracy can’t be ignored. Fengxiao understood that from the start, he plunged into the investigation with top priority as all other eyes were drawn to Yuan’s maneuvers.

And now Cao was about to go to court, again without Fengxiao’s advice, to argue for a motion he barely approved of. In a short while, they must convince the court that Yuan Shao must be fought, and that it’s politically, morally and militarily advantageous to confront him now than any other time. Cao couldn’t even convince himself that that’s the case. He supposed Xun Yu was brilliant enough to carry the argument for him.

His mind drifted to their opposition in court. They were a circus to be sure. There was the privy treasurer, the farcical former governor of the Qing Province Kong Rong, who expected his essays and poetry to save his lands from Yuan Tan’s army, his idiot pretentious friend Mi Heng whom Cao dismissed to Liu Biao for being a general nuisance, court counselor Wu Shi and minister Wang Zifu to name a few.

Unlike his provincial rivals, Cao’s battle was never purely military. He had to fight a two front war, one against his enemies and one against his own court. Such was the price of having a legal and moral advantage over his rivals in the field.
“My lord?“

Through the melancholy Cao broke to a smile as the familiar thin and slightly slumping figure stepped through the door.

“Fengxiao! You were missed earlier”

Guo Jia nodded. “I was briefed by Cao Chun, he told me you were still here”

“What’s your assessment?”

Guo Jia looked pensive. “Xun Yu and You makes a good point, Yuan Shao won’t wait for us to secure our flanks and home, but Liu Bei needs to be seen to. However he is still far from actually controlling the whole province. And even if he does, he has too many unreliable new officers, and his army is second rate. The only competent troops were the ones he took from us, and their loyalty is tenuous. I advise sending a force to attack them whilst the main force marches for Boma to meet Yuan Shao.”

Cao nodded and examined the map “Cao Hong, with five thousand light foot from the Yu province, reliable but not elite and they won’t be missed against Yuan Shao…” concentrating, he traced his fingers along the inked in roads and rivers of the map “They will march north from Runan, and station themselves…”

Guo deftly reignited the dying lamp and leant in close as Cao continued to point and trace

“Here, on the northern banks of the Yin river, their flanks refused by the river and Mount Mang Tang. They can threaten the entire southern portions of the province, Xi Yang, Xiao, Li Ping itself, but Liu Bei stationed in the north in Xiao Pei and Xiapi cannot engage without exposing his rear.”

Guo Jia nodded. “Our army will raid and forage from the surrounding towns but not occupy, they will advance but not engage, Liu Bei will be pressured by a force less than half his size so much that he won’t even consider threatening Xu Chang”

Cao’s heart seemed to settle at last. Xun Yu, for his strategic and political brilliance, is still not a battlefield strategist. “What of the conspiracy?”

“Ji Ben was arrested at the east gates, as well as Counselor Wu Shi who was trying to help him escape. Ji was not going to speak so I killed him to intimidate Wu into speaking-“

Incredulous, Cao interrupted “You killed him? Why didn’t you order Xu Chu or a guard? You’re not a warrior; you’re not made for that. Also you shouldn’t be exerting yourself with your health.”

“There are times when to do good one must be a villain, you know this better than most, but I still would not make others do what I find abominable”

Cao bowed his head “I am sorry to put you through this”

“It was for naught though, Wu died without us even laying a finger on him, poisoned, I know not how. It seems our opponents also understand how to play the villain”

Cao sunk into a seat. How could they have the power to kill a vital witness even amidst his precautions? If a court counselor was deemed peripheral enough to do away with, and in such a manner, this conspiracy must be more powerful than he had guessed.

Cao Cao called Cao Chun back in before dictating his orders. “I’m increasing our security” Cao decided “Send word to Cao Hong, I want three thousand of my Qing Province men brought in to Xu Chang to bolster the City Guards, I want the Tiger and Dragon Guards at full deployment, I also want the Leopard Guard deployed”

Cao Chun objected “The Leopard Guard aren’t ready, Cao Xiu, their captain, is barely twenty”

“I want added security for all royalty figures not living in the palace, as well as Xiahou Dun, Cao Hong, the Xun brothers and Guo Jia here. Will there be a problem captain?”

Cao’s voice showed that he brooked no objections; Cao Chun gave a short bow and departed.

Another gale, stronger than before, howled with cold fury as all of a sudden a might crack was heard. Cao Cao swiftly unsheathed his sword, before a young dragon guard rushed in rushed in.

“Sorry my lord, a main branch of the willow outside just gave away”

Staring into the heavens, Cao thought there were fewer stars tonight.
Last edited by Crazedmongoose on Tue Dec 15, 2009 1:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Blog for new project: Historical Fiction of Three Kingdoms

Unread postby Crazedmongoose » Tue Dec 15, 2009 1:59 pm

Okay, Chapter 1 is officially done (but uneditted).

I'm actually halfway through the first Chapter 2 POV section already. For those needing a break from the heavy stuff in the first chapter, don't worry I do pace the story contrary to current appearances.

Future chapters are generally going to include less POV bits but each bit will be longer. (Like the last Cao POV is indicative of how long a usual POV bit is meant to be).
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Re: Blog for new project: Historical Fiction of Three Kingdoms

Unread postby Crazedmongoose » Wed Dec 30, 2009 10:41 pm

Deleted because of further revisions.
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