The Fourth Kingdom of China: a Country in Flames

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The Fourth Kingdom of China: a Country in Flames

Unread postby Sun Fin » Mon Dec 14, 2009 9:32 pm

This is the epic of Sun Fin, I really hope you enjoy it. I've been working on it for a few months and CrazedMongose's story has encouraged me to put it up!

LANGUAGE WARNING

Prologue-The Howling Wolf of Fi

'Long united the land must divide, long divided the land most unite.’ No dynasty had kept China united longer than the Han. Yet towards the end of the second century China was once again struck by a time of great chaos: chaos and war. The Emperor was weak, the court corrupt and many turned to rebellion for survival. The country burst into furious flames, the source: the recalcitrant Yellow Turbans and their mystical leader Zhang Jiao.

Many great men were able to rise to the fore in the attempt to quench this unholy fire and the turmoil that followed. The greatest of them all was my Warlord and King, Sun Fin. He was the catalyst that allowed others to finally bring peace to the land after a generation of strife and terror. Once again China was united under one banner and an Emperor capable of reigning in times of both peace and war.

So listen well as this is more than a story of epic proportions; this is a story of great men and their decisions. It may not be a guide to how you should live your life but there are many lessons to be learnt from the past so the same mistakes aren’t condemned to be repeated in a timeless cycle. This is a tale of Sun Fin, the Howling Wolf and King of Fi. Let me take you back to the beginning, back to when Sun Fin was a leader of a small group of youths who had somehow survived the deluge, thus far...
Last edited by Sun Fin on Mon Dec 14, 2009 9:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Interested in the history behind the novel? Find a list of english language Three Kingdom sources here.
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Re: The Fourth Kingdom of China: a Country in Flames

Unread postby Sun Fin » Mon Dec 14, 2009 9:37 pm

Chapter 1-Smoulders

“Bloody hell!” A small group of about thirty youths had just stepped out from the thick foliage into a wide clearing where a village had once stood. Now the remains littered the ground. A black cloud hovered above marking a mass grave and had helped guide the group to this insight into hell. The butchered villagers lay where they had fell, all trying to escape the massacre. An overpowering stench of decaying flesh was tangible in the air.

The leader of the group, Sun Fin, briefly regained his composure long enough to snap out a few orders before retreating back into the privacy offered by the dense woodlands. He felt ill: the sight was sickening. He could see blood trickling through the churned up mud as youths began the essential task of fire control and making a pile of bodies to cremate. Sun Fin began to go and help but he stepped on an arm that had lost its body. This was too much for him and he disappeared back into his alcove to add a yellow liquid to the bleeding mud.

This was typical of the chaos that was spreading through China. The court was corrupt and even worse it was controlled by the powerful eunuchs. Meanwhile the government floundering uselessly and the Emperor acted only to condone the eunuch’s actions. It had surprised no-one when a rebellion was finally called and clout was added to the cause by the leader of these Yellow Turbans who claimed to have received Heaven’s Mandate and the gift of miracles. Thousands had rallied to his side but soon after offshoots of the army saw a chance to thrive by attacking villages while the Imperial army marched to deal with the main force. Sun Fin felt no loyalty to the Emperor (what had The Emperor done to make the life of a young orphan easier?) but he did object to hard working villagers being murdered under the pretext of refusing to join the noble rebel cause. So far as he could tell no one who claimed to be fighting to give the poor a better a life would have orchestrated the scene he had just found.

Bao Huan, Sun Fin’s oldest friend, was kneeling over a pile of rags when he exclaimed,
“I think this one’s alive.” Out of the clinging shadows rushed a small child. His glowering face was well washed with salty tears but now only anger clouded his face. He started pummelling Bao Huan with all the strength his tiny arms could muster. The teenager froze, unsure how to react. Abruptly from the amused spectators moved a slightly younger figure, more comfortable in dealing with children. He wrapped his arms around the boy and whispered a stream of comforting words in the boy’s ear. Slowly the boy began to relax and even allowed himself to be carried away.

Within a few seconds Gongsun Wong appeared at Bao Huan’s side. Wong was the only member of the group out of his teens and was unique in that he had a trade. He claimed he had learnt the skills of medicine in the distant land of Greece and had been born in the legendry city called Rome. Whilst his stories often carried a hint of impossibility, Sun Fin guessed there must be some truth in his stories as his knowledge varied greatly compared to all the Chinese physicians Sun Fin had ever spoken to. More obvious was the paler skin and the alien eyes that slanted at a weird angle.

Pulling two fingers away from the girl’s neck Gongsun Wong confirmed that she was alive, if barely, before starting to murmur about humours. He pulled a rough wooden bowl from his pouch and stared at a few herbs. Eventually Wong reached a decision; he put a few away and started mashing up the rest whilst muttering prayers to his bizarre God. Meanwhile Bao Huan had administered water to the girl and had received an approving look from Gongsun Wong. After staring at the girls pretty features he hesitated before pulling his cloak free from around his neck and threw it on the shivering form.

* * * * *

Sun Fin sat cross legged in one of the least damaged huts on the village outskirts. Across from him Bao Huan rested looking at his friend attentively. It sometimes seemed like a lifetime ago since he and Bao Huan had ran away together but in reality it had just been a few years. Sun Fin had been an orphan on the streets of Beiping and had lived on his instincts whilst Bao Huan was the son of an unfavoured noble. They had become firm friends and had looked for a chance for adventure, when to their surprise they had been joined by other street children looking for a chance to leave poverty behind. The group had grown and Bao Huan had found himself fading into the background as Sun Fin’s charismatic personality demanded attention. Now they were discussing their next move.

After finding that they were so close to catching the Yellow Turbans Sun Fin was eager to finish the job and ensnare them, starting a forced march the following morning. However the more humane Bao Huan felt that their priority should be to care for the two charges that had descended into their care. Sun Fin could see the sense of the argument but he was more worried about saving the unknown strangers that the rebels could meet in the next few days.

Soon they were joined by Gongsun Wong. He was one of Sun Fin’s most trusted advisors and often persuaded him to take a course of action that compromised his instincts. Wong had joined the young men soon after they had run away from Beiping. At first he had been received with suspicion but he soon became part of the group if not always included. The rumour was that he had known Sun Fin’s father but since he had died before his son’s birth. Sun Fin didn’t know if this was any truer then Wong’s stories of men dying in battles against lions.

The girl had briefly awoken and in a state of pitiful terror had given Wong the wretched story of the village. The Yellow Turbans had arrived shortly after midnight when most of the exhausted villagers had been asleep. Suddenly the houses were ablaze and many were killed before they realised what was happening. A few tried to flee; the girl was unsure if any had succeeded and Wong suggested that the boy alone had evaded the gang. They had killed the captured villagers in blood sport until the young girl had caught the leader’s eye. The following phase of the story turned Sun Fin’s blood to ice before his fury waxed once more into a flame that could only be satisfied by the death of the scum responsible for the malevolent deeds. They had left soon after leaving the girl to the tender mercies of the wild elements. Both Wong and Huan prevailed upon him to forget revenge for the time being and to care for the girl.

* * * * *

Just as Sun Fin was about to lay out his conditions for bowing to his friends wishes another of the group burst in through the door. Despite his agitation he managed to spit out,
“Chen Tian... stranger... fighting... come... quickly...” Chen Tian had been the member of the group who had rescued the boy from the embarrassing scene earlier and Sun Fin knew that he often let his immaturity show and was guided by his emotions.

The stranger was pinned under Chen Tian’s body as blow after blow rained down on his head. Their spears lay abandoned to one side in their personal fight for supremacy. Tears were flowing from Chen Tian’s eyes as he recalled the story that the scared and lonely little boy had told him. By the time Sun Fin got close enough to intervene the stranger had managed to gain the advantage and made a lunge for his spear. The group froze as the blade was pointed at Chen Tian’s neck.

Sun Fin spoke; the fire in his voice was echoing that in his soul,
“Harm him and you die.” Finding his sword already in his hand he pointed it at the stranger. Bows were drawn around him and the stranger sensing defeat released Chen Tian and threw his spear to Sun Fin’s feet. He stood and issued his challenge,
“My name as Taishi Ci, I am naught but a lone traveller but if you wish to die then confront me at your own peril.”

Before anyone could react Chen Tian twisted around and kneed Taishi Ci in the groin. As Ci curled up in pain Bao Huan leapt forward to restrain Chen Tian and led him away. Sun Fin turned to speak to Taishi Ci but found a mouthful of defiant spit on his sandals. With a weary sigh he signalled for him to be bound. Sun Fin headed back to his hut. He needed a rest.
Interested in the history behind the novel? Find a list of english language Three Kingdom sources here.
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Sun Fin
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Re: The Fourth Kingdom of China: a Country in Flames

Unread postby Sun Fin » Mon Dec 14, 2009 9:43 pm

Chapter 2-Dressing for War

Sun Fin massaged his head as his brain refused to operate. There was something bothering him about the day but whenever he came close to making the link it slipped back to the edge of his consciousness. Giving up he stretched out on the straw. Fin was use to roughing it, there weren’t many places you could sleep on the streets, so a bed of straw was a luxury he keenly took advantage of whenever it was available.

The next thing he knew someone was shaking him awake and Gongsun Wong’s eyes were bearing into his. Sun Fin was barely awake and just stared blankly back.
“You need to talk to Taishi Ci. Jin is already there,” Wong told him. Rang Jin was one of Sun Fin’s advisors. Jin was the son of a merchant who had wanted more for his son and had paid for him to be educated in the art of war where he had become adept in strategy. Fin sighed, looked at the straw longingly before swinging himself to his feet where he followed an already departed shadow through the door.

Settling down opposite Rang Jin and Taishi Ci Sun Fin felt sleep threaten to overtake his mind.
“So what’s so important that I was called from my bed to hear it?” Rang Jin was looking paler then normal from the illness that had restricted him from action over the last few days.
“Taishi Ci has some news for us which might make you reconsider his position,” Rang Jin informed him. Jin had an amused glint in his eye which told him that he thought Fin had made a real mess of the situation without him there. His curiosity piqued Sun Fin, who said,
“Go on.”

Taishi Ci began to relate his story,
“I lived in a village of a similar size to this one in the province of Bei Hai with my mother. The Yellow Turbans raided us and after meeting a fiercer defence then they expected they cut and ran but not before taking a few prisoners; including my mother. I tried to raise the village but no-one else was willing to leave their livelihoods. I’ve been tracking them ever since and when I saw your campfire I thought I had at last been given a chance for redemption. Yet after Chen Tian’s reaction I felt my last hope of rescuing my mother drain away.”

With excitement coursing through his veins Sun Fin asked,
“How near are the Yellow Turbans?”
“A few hours in that direction,” answered Taishi Ci nodding westwards. Sun Fin leapt to his feet, sword drawn, and slashed the bonds from around Ci’s wrists. Taishi Ci’s former guard scurried from the room as he was ordered to find Bao Huan. Sitting down once again, Sun Fin announced,
“We have a battle to plan!”

* * * * *

A few hours later they were almost ready to leave. Sun Fin just wanted to apologise to Taishi Ci first, one of the first rules of warfare was to avoid battling with bad blood between allies. He was pleased to see that Taishi Ci and Chen Tian were engaged in what appeared to be a light hearted conversation. A long way from where they had been earlier that evening! As Sun Fin appeared at their shoulders Tian flashed him a smile before hurrying off.

They turned to face each other and Sun Fin ventured,
“I’m sorry about your treatment.” Fin was going to add something else but hesitated awkwardly. Taishi Ci smiled just as awkwardly and grabbed him in a bear hug before whispering in his ear,
“No hard feelings. But you may wish you’d never of listened to me in a few hours time.” Sun Fin smiled as the hold relinquished. He knew that there was a good chance he wouldn’t survive the battle but the blame wouldn’t lie with Taishi Ci.

Bao Huan appeared besides Sun Fin as Taishi Ci moved away.
“I don’t like this, I should be with you,” Bao Huan told him.
“You’re not worried about me are you?” Fin asked him with a cockiness that only penetrated his voice. Taishi Ci had only been able to give a rough estimate of the numbers they’d be facing and he was leaving a few men to look after the girl and boy under the command of Bao Huan. Sun Fin had also argued that they would form a base they could fall back on if the battle went against them, but he expected it to be a battle where the only options were to win or die. Something that didn’t bother him but he was worried about his responsibility to his followers. However any doubt expressed on his behalf now would only make things worse.

The gang had formed a crowd and were bombarding Chen Tian with questions. Rumours had spread through the camp like wildfire, somewhat unsurprisingly since they had been woken and told to dress for war. Sun Fin took a deep breath as he prepared himself to deliver a speech,
“The Yellow Turbans are but a short march away where they are asleep dreaming of days to come and new people to maim and kill. However we now have a chance to strike them down: to strike them for this village, to strike them for those they’ve mercilessly left in their wake, but most importantly to strike them for their victims of the future. So now I go, I go to sweep away this scum in a torrent of cleansing water. Are you with me?”

Fin was swept up by the surging pack as cheers and war chants vibrated around the camp eager for the battle ahead. A couple of people had chosen not to accompany him and therefore stay with Bao Huan. Not that he expected them to be much use in a fight (there was a reason they chose to stay behind) but they might look intimidating. Now that he was moving adrenaline pushed the doubt to one side and a wolfish smile claimed his face and he howled into the night as he followed his men to the battle.

* * * * *

Once the adrenaline had died away the need for sleep settled in. The group trudged through the darkness clad forest in muteness. Chen Tian and Taishi Ci led the way; their newfound companionship had developed into a comfortable silence. At the back Sun Fin maintained the joint roles of rear guard and keeping the struggling Rang Jin company. Jin’s normal confidence was wavering as he asked,
“Do you really think we can win?” ‘Now you show some doubt’ thought Sun Fin exasperated, ‘Why couldn’t he of said something a few bloody hours ago? ’ Instead Sun Fin replied,
“Of course I do, would we be here otherwise? This was your idea; you’re not really having second thoughts are you?”
“No, well maybe, I mean no. But something’s not right.” Rang Jin answered. Fin stayed silent but he agreed, it all seemed too easy.

Taishi Ci stopped and held up his hand and motioned for silence. Sun Fin joined him at the front and Ci whispered,
“The camp is sheltered by these trees. Just beyond is a clearing.” Sun Fin grasped his wrist and whispered in his ear,
“Good luck, I don’t regret it... yet.” They split off into three groups. Rang Jin took a small group of archers to find a good vantage point. Chen Tian took another group to the opposite end of the camp and Sun Fin’s final group stayed where they were waiting for the signal.

Suddenly fire arrows rained down on the clearing setting the camp ablaze. Chen Tian emerged bellowing incomprehensible curses as Sun Fin burst forward from his end, sword swinging around his head. However it took only a few seconds to realise the camp was empty. The two groups met in the middle, Sun Fin and Chen Tian looking bemused shrugged at each other.

Amongst the trees black shapes appeared. Out stepped their leader, he was a hulk of a man swathed in dirty yellow robes with his mangy beard tucked into his waist. He had a large butchering sword hung loosely in his left hand, it was rusting at the edges and he looked like he relied on brute strength rather than skill. He was joined by a horde of yellow minions. Sun Fin’s group were outnumbered by six to one.
“Now we’re in the shithole,” joked Chen Tian lamely. The trap had been sprung and they were the prey. Sun Fin gritted his death, what had he done? Now all he could do was create enough time to allow the archers to escape. The leader opened his mouth and spoke with a smirk, his teeth were rotten and his voice grating,
“You have done well Taishi Ci.
Interested in the history behind the novel? Find a list of english language Three Kingdom sources here.
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Sun Fin
Librarian of Shen Zhou
 
Posts: 7148
Joined: Sat Nov 10, 2007 9:20 pm
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