"Our" Bhudism eh? Me thinks some advisors may be a little too cheeky for their own good.
"Our" Bhudism eh? Me thinks some advisors may be a little too cheeky for their own good.
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Subtle and not so subtle power plays, and foreshadowing with the heir? Interesting times abound.
@mayorqw: Yep. And, with brief respites, the power plays continue for at least another hundred years.
@Ashantai: Haha, I do my best. I adhere as best I can to the law of conservation of detail. I know the names can get confusing (they confuse me sometimes!) so I try to subtly mark certain people/kingdoms eg "Wangdue (one-name basis aka he matters) said what's good to Zhu Zhengde, king of Dahan (two names and I remind the reader of his title; either I'm reinforcing it for a transition to importance [rare, I like to set it up better], or he doesn't matter as a character and only matters as Bob, King of Situationally Relevantia.)" The other principle I'm trying to stick with it three spotlights: Song's rulers and their associated characters first, followed by one big antagonist and their camp, and one big Song sidekick plus that camp. Who I develop and who I don't might change, but I really want to strike a balance between fleshing out my world and keeping it comprehensible.
@Stuyvesant, JKNUBZ: Lin'er does tend toward the idealistic side... it remains to be seen how he fares in a pragmatic world.
@Estonianzulu: Well, Lin'er considers Wangdue indispensable, and Wangdue knows this. Lin'er basically went from being a peasant to a king in five years (the fact that he can even read and write is more for convenience's sake than realism's) and a more autocratic person might not put up with the monk's impetuousness for long.
@Omen: I make a point to not write an update unless every character's children are already gone in-game. Foreshadowing will abound!
And on the foreshadowing note... at the end of the next update, Lin'er writes a letter. Maddeningly cryptic author interjection: He predicts no less than three "eventualities" that do not come to pass.
Last edited by bananafishtoday; 03-12-2011 at 09:35.
Chapter 7: Just Cause
If one must kill people to give peace to the people, then killing is permissible. If one must attack a state out of love for their people, then attacking it is permissible. If one must stop war with war, although it is war, it is permissible.
-Methods of the Sima
Zhenghu slides his chair closer to his king. “Sir... there may be some value in the monk's words. Ming and Dahan have had two years of peace to rebuild their armies. We've had less than a month. We can't go to war just yet.”
Lin'er doesn't respond. He sits with his head in his hand, gazing off at the room's far wall.
“Zhenghu,” he says, after several minutes of silence, “am I unfit to be king?”
The question takes the young man by surprise. “What? You led these people to freedom, no one else could--”
“You and Wangdue tell me a war with the Zhu family would destroy us... but I would have started one. I was ready to lead us to battle this very day. I don't have the... the skills to rule, I don't know how to--”
Zhenghu chuckles and shakes his head. “Sir, that's what men like Wangdue are for. Let courtiers and bureaucrats worry about how to do things: a king's role is to dictate what must be done.”
The very next day, Lin'er officially names Wangdue the Chancellor of the Secretariat,* and they begin planning the buildup to war.
Securing Tianwan's neutrality trumps all other concerns. Without them involved, the war against the Zhus would be difficult; with them, it would be utterly hopeless. Hoping to turn the Zhu brothers against each other, Wangdue pens a reply to Dahan's call to arms which Lin'er reluctantly seals. It promises to fight by their side, “Not only in this campaign, but all the Dahan Emperor's upcoming wars to unite southern China.” The letter's delivery is entrusted to a suspected Tianwan spy.
Tianwan diplomats pour into the Song court within days, denouncing Dahan's “reckless war of aggression” and obliquely hinting that they may intervene against the Song-Dahan alliance. Lin'er, somewhat surprised the ruse actually worked, feigns capitulation to their pressure, dishonors Dahan's call, and reaffirms his alliance with Tianwan.
The convoluted diplomatic situation at the end of 1361. Black: The Triple Alliance between Consort Li and the two Zhu brothers. Green: The Song Kingdom's various alliances. Red: The war against the Kingdom of Yue.
Wangdue also recommends reorganizing the military into a strict hierarchy, much like how the bureaucracy is already set up. The king is placed at the very top and given full authority over the army.
But although Lin'er is made the supreme commander, a field marshal must be created under him to oversee operations and training and to command a second front when war is declared. Lin'er immediately offers Zhenghu the position, an act Wangdue vehemently opposes. He argues, in front of the young man, that it must be an ex-Yuan commander. “Naturally,” he says, “they should be of Chinese parentage. But we need a true general, and there are many Confucians to be had with decades of experience.” Lin'er insists on the boy, both because of his loyalty and his Buddhism. But Zhenghu politely declines the position and sides with Wangdue. Zhenghu accepts command of a small army on the outskirts of Song territory, and the marshalship is given to a man fitting Wangdue's ideal: Song Wongkwai.**
Wongkwai takes to his new office with zeal and proves himself a brilliant organizer. He uses Lin'er's conscription laws to raise fresh troops and institutes a radical new training program, beginning the transformation of Song's peasant militia into a professional army.
Throughout the winter and spring of 1362, Yue and Dahan engage in a few tactical skirmishes, little more than border raids in reality. Both kingdoms keep their main armies in their own territories, and a tense stalemate develops. Both seem to be waiting for the other to make the first move. But Dahan has an advantage that Yue does not: allies. In June, Consort Li takes advantage of the military access treaties signed during the rebellion and moves her armies through Song territory.
Lin'er is absolutely outraged. He terminates Ming's military access and demands their troops turn back. Consort Li refuses. “Even without an access treaty,” she writes, “our kingdoms remain allies, and as such I retain the right of free passage. With my kingdom at war, any attempt on Song's part to terminate this alliance would be treated by the Great Ming as a hostile act and responded to appropriately.” Lin'er backs down, but proclaims that “the feeding or housing of any Ming soldier by a Song subject is illegal, punishable by imprisonment.” Ming troops continue south, but they suffer heavy attrition and arrive in Dahan starved and weak. Zhou remains unable to move any men to the battlefields, although Lin'er suspects its unscrupulous merchant-king has little desire to do so.
Undeterred by the situation on the ground, Consort Li orders her ill-prepared troops across the Yue border in October. She forces the Ming soldiers into suicidal assaults on her dug-in, well-fed and more numerous enemy, and the results are predictable. But despite these minor Yue victories, trouble looms as the main Dahan army begins to march south. Lin'er rushes to the White Lotus Army, already camped on the border, and tells Wangdue, “If the Yue fail to hold, expect my next report to come from a battlefield.”
Lin'er's fears prove unfounded. The Yue hold their lands and force Dahan to retreat. Dahan's king, Zhu Zhengde, foolishly orders a second offensive in March of 1363: mere months after his first effort failed, and this time against the Yue capital. The results are nothing short of spectacular. Yue repulses the Dahan force, then chases and outflanks the fleeing army. Trapped between the Yue soldiers and the Pearl River, the Dahan are utterly destroyed, with many men and horses drowning as they're forced back into the water. Yue quickly moves its entire army into their enemy's now-undefended lands.
But Consort Li hides an ace in her sleeve. No belligerent in the Red Turban Rebellion had a single boat under their command in 1356, and all of the kingdoms which emerged built few ships, thinking control of the seas would serve no purpose. All of the kingdoms except, it seems, for one. Although a small Ming detachment moves to protect Dahan, it proves to be a decoy. In September, Consort Li's grand fleet sets sail, and her main field army lands on the shores of the defenseless Guangzhou.
Lin'er, having camped on the border with his army for the past year, receives the news within days. “Very well, then,” he says to the messenger. He doesn't need to pause and think before continuing. His mind is calm and lucid. As it should be. Finding paper and ink in his tent, he pens an offer of alliance and hands it to the Yue runner. “Bring that to your king. Tell him that if the Four Fiends themselves were to descend on his kingdom, I would fight by his side.” Yue's response is swift.
September 25, 1363
My Loyal Comrades and Friends,
For swift action, we need swift speech. Therefore my letter will be short.
War is upon us, gentlemen. We did not ask for it, we did not desire it, but it is here. An evil woman sits upon the Ming throne: a throne that deserves a more noble occupant than she. That woman seeks to conquer All Under Heaven and subjugate it to her will, whether Heaven would permit it or not. Her rule is illegitimate. Her schemes and ambitions threaten all of the Middle Kingdom.
We seek not conquest or subjugation, but the status quo. The Middle Path. Our aim is right, our cause just, our will unwavering. If the House of Zhu seeks to set China ablaze, so be it. It is for us to extinguish their flames.
The Mandate of Heaven permits only one true ruler of China. The will of Heaven is mysterious and inscrutable, but one fact is clear: that ruler is not this woman. She seeks to crush the Han people under her heel, not to bring them together in harmony.
Perhaps China shall be united within our lifetimes. Perhaps not. But when it is, as it will be in time, its steward must be a benevolent soul, a righteous leader, a true Son of Heaven. It is our holy duty to preserve China for his sake.
Fight well, gentlemen. Accept any surrender, harm no civilian, and above all else, embody the ideals of our glorious ancestors. Consider this your official order: march toward victory.
On October 1st, Wongkwai leads his forces toward Nanjing. Zhenghu proceeds into Dahan. Lin'er moves to liberate the Yue capital city of Guangzhou. And so it begins.
*Wangdue Sengge, when building the Song government, essentially copied the Three Departments and Six Ministries system formalized in the 600's under the Tang Dynasty. The Department of Edict Examination served as advisors to the king and the other departments. The Department of State Affairs controlled the bureaucracy and was divided into the Six Ministries: Personnel, Taxation, War, Justice, Rites, and Public Works. The Department of the Secretariat proposed and drafted all royal policy, making its chancellor the second most powerful man in the kingdom. Modern Wu readers may recognize some aspects of Wangdue's government surviving in today's Four Branches system.
**((Kindly ignore both Wongkwai's and Lin'er's “Song” family name. Lin'er's family name is “Han,” and I assume it's in the game as “Song” because of a misunderstanding of how Chinese dynasties are named. Hence his father was “Han Shantong” and his son is “Han Kaiwang.” Wongkwai's name is randomly generated by the game engine and means nothing for plot purposes.))
Last edited by bananafishtoday; 03-12-2011 at 10:09.
Oof. Surrounded by enemies, now your nation's shape will really hurt you. Going south to free your ally and remove the isolated enemy is absolutely the right move though.
Loving it! More!
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An excellent update! I like your writing of the letter, and further explanation about the Mandate of Heaven; a critical term.
I also enjoy your writing of the history book as if it's from a modern book in that universe. Great work, keep it up!
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That letter was very good...
It seems China remains somewhat divided in modern times, or at least not quite as large as it is
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Wow, that is a confusing web of crossing alliances.
Song made the right decision by sitting out the initial war. I hope that the years waiting have provided enough of a breathing space that Song is now ready to face the Ming.
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Surely a man with a name like Wongkwai must be a citizen of Yue not Song?
I like how the letter says that China's steward must be a true son of heaven. Clearly it is not this Cixi-esque Li woman.
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Good time for a couple disclaimers!
Next few updates will have very little levity, but tone will rise and ebb, so this isn't a general trend toward 5000 straight updates of darkness. Good times, bad times, y'know.
This doesn't come up immediately, but will later: misogyny rears its ugly head. Opinions expressed by the characters are not necessarily those of the author, but aren't necessarily meant to demonize certain characters either. It's the sort of thing that might be more pleasant to omit, but is too much of an elephant in the room. Don't worry, down the road it'll be paid back in spades.
I'll do a "state of the world" following the update after this one to briefly go over map changes.
Aaaand I experimented a little with voice near the end of this update, feel free to let me know if you like it/dislike it/want to break my keyboard in half and throw eggs at me.
@damienreave: Your wish is my command!
@Ashantai: I like to leave little easter eggs that hint at my plans, some explicit, others... not so much. Por ejemplo: Chapter 5 mentions a "revised" history of the Tang Dynasty printed in the 1470's that rehabilitates Wu Zetian's rep. No such book exists in real life, however... /hmm
@Stuyvesant: Haha, I know, right? Mostly remnants from the rebellion, those alliances.
@Tanzhang: Unfortunately I don't have a good intuitive sense of the dialects. D: Names just get pulled from the game's list of leader names. My ignorance might make things a bit messy... pretty much all my online resources are Mandarin in pinyin, but in the game, Wu, Min, and Yue end up the big dialects, and Mandarin evolves into something radically different. But I'll do my best on that. And w/r/t Lin'er's letter... I'm glad someone pointed out the use of "son." Although I should note, my characters are not authors and may frequently predict wrong things.
Chapter 8: Black and White
Those who excel in warfare should suffer the most extreme punishment; those who entangle states in combative alliances the next greatest.
In the autumn of 1363, war rages across all of China. Jurchen warriors conquer and pillage the Mongolian steppes. Korean patriots strike north to reclaim the rest of their peninsula. Mighty fleets from faraway southern kingdoms sail into the Yellow Sea; they land troops on the last remaining strip of Yuan coastline and battle to establish a foothold in the Middle Kingdom. Thousands of rebels rise up in the west. Those in the Yuan territories succeed in fighting off the increasingly powerless emperor. And while Tianwan brutally suppresses the uprisings in its own realm, every other Chinese kingdom has been drawn into Consort Li's war.
Poised on the Ming border, Wongkwai leads his forces toward their capital the moment he receives word the war is on. The city is prepared for his arrival. Rather than fight him in glorious combat, cowardly Ming archers and rocketmen defend from the newly reinforced stone walls. He leads his men in a full-on assault; it fails miserably and costs several thousand lives. Wongkwai has no choice but to siege the city from a distance. Since her main army is down in Yue, Consort Li becomes trapped in Nanjing. She has not left her kingdom's security entirely in the hands of her smaller divisions, however: the Zhou merchant-king leads a force of fifteen thousand to defend her. By the end of October, the number of Zhou troops in Song is nearly double that.
Unfortunately for Li, she had seriously misjudged Zhou's objectives. Ever the opportunist, the merchant-king sends one of his chief ministers to the Song encampment in Nanjing with an offer: in exchange for more than half of Song's treasury, Zhou will exit the war.
Even the price demanded proves to be a feint. After a mix of negotiation and bartering, a more reasonable sum of seventy-five taels of gold is settled upon. The Zhou forces march home, now having won two wars without fighting a single battle in either.
Nevertheless, Ming armies strike out across the vast, unprotected Song border. Wongkwai moves to fight them off. He has a plan to drastically shorten the northern front and ensure Song's safety, whatever the cost.
Han Lin'er camps his army a few li outside the Yue capital, within sight of the Ming armies. When the White Lotus Army marched into Guangdong Province, the Ming temporarily halted their siege and prepared for battle. Lin'er, instead, sent one of his officers to propose a parley. He patiently awaits a reply from their commander.
Minor skirmishes with the Yue and a lack of supplies leaves Lin'er's opponent in a weakened state: prevented from splitting their men and seizing all of Yue, the Ming have nearly twice as many troops as the land they occupy can support. Lin'er hopes to save the Yue kingdom without bloodshed by negotiating a withdrawal of the Ming forces.
Within a few hours, the general rides to the middle of the field with a small retinue and under a neutral banner. Lin'er gathers a few officers and guards and does the same.
The old Ming general bows deep upon Lin'er's arrival. “King Lin'er. It is an honor to meet you once again.”
Careful to mirror the man's courtly sense of etiquette, Lin'er responds, “Truly the honor is mine. Please forgive me, as I am foolish and forgetful, so I do not recall when we have met before.”
“It is no fault of yours, as I am insignificant and quite forgettable a person. I led my kingdom's armies against the Zhizheng Emperor at Baoding. Your fortuitous arrival won the day and saved our honor and our lives.”
Lin'er brightens immediately. “Of course! Your army held fast against impossible odds. Truly a credit to your skill as a leader.”
“No, no. Holding fast is foolhardy and useless without a brilliant ally to ride in and push back.”
They exchange several more social niceties before the pretense is dropped. Lin'er moves the conversation to business. “I called a parley in the hopes we could prevent this battle and work out a ceasefire. My only interest is in the preservation of the Yue Kingdom. We would stand down, and allow your men to withdraw to Dahan.”
“But, naturally, we would be disarmed and march away in disgrace.”
“No,” Lin'er says. The old man raises an eyebrow at this. “We both march away. Your men keep their arms, as do mine. The Yue withdraw from Dahan, and the status quo is preserved.”
The general chuckles at Lin'er last sentence. “I trust you to uphold your bargains. But Yue fought and bled for two years in the face of Dahan's aggression. Now they've shattered their enemy. Soon they will control the kingdom and simply add its lands to theirs.”
“Never. I would never allow it.”
“Then you are more noble than most on this Earth, and it would be a privilege to serve under you in another life. Yet I must refuse your offer. My duty is to my king, and by extension, to Queen Mother Li. I have been ordered to fight for this city, so that is what I must do.”
“You know your orders are unjust! An evil woman has usurped the Ming throne, and she mea--”
“Young man,” the general says, his eyes narrowing, “no one can survive in this world for long seeing everything in black and white. You must learn to recognize the shades of gray.” He bows. “May we fight with honor.”
The battle goes on for days, and despite being underfed and outnumbered, the Ming put up a strong resistance. In a desperate attempt to break the Song ranks, the old general personally leads a massive cavalry charge. It ends in disaster for the Ming. Their leader dies with his men, and the White Lotus Army emerges victorious and saves the Yue capital.
Lin'er pursues the retreating Ming, and after a series of smaller battles, manages to force those few remaining alive to surrender. He orders his men not to celebrate. “We're not fighting our enemies,” he tells them, “but our brothers. This is grim work we do. But it must be done: not to subjugate, but to set right.” The captured Ming are made to pledge not to take up arms again, then Lin'er lets them go free. Tired and solemn, the White Lotus link up with Jibi Zhenghu's force in Dahan and proceed north.
But while Lin'er preaches understanding and compassion, Song Wongkwai prepares to unleash his new “strategy.”
Wongkwai became a general for the Great Yuan like his father before him. But despite a strict martial upbringing and education, Wongkwai spent his entire career fighting peasant militias, religious extremists, and other petty insurgencies. His father taught him doctrine, tactics, grand strategy. His father told tales of glory and conquest. Then the Zhizheng Emperor used him as goddamn policeman. He thought he'd be trapped in that decaying empire forever.
His hands tremble slightly, mouth creaks into a smile. But now... now he can lead a real war. He can conquer enemy lands, crush their armies, subjugate their people, make a name for himself like his father did in Korea, in Champa, in Dai Viet, oh yes, yes, he can do anything he wants. But the... the border. He wastes his time patrolling it, fighting the Ming away, they always come back with more, what does it even matter... If only he didn't need to defend, th--then he could attack. Calm, be calm, what to... Wangdue, Wangdue should be easy enough... just a small lie, a little half-truth, the monk wouldn't know, then, then he'd be able to...
To: Chancellor Wangdue.
Borders indefensible. Ming incursions more frequent. Defeat likely. Hangzhou in grave danger. Requesting permission for greater autonomy.
If the situation on the northern front is as you say it is, do what you must to protect the capital. The White Lotus Army should arrive by April to take command.
Wangdue Sengge, Chancellor of the Secretariat
That gives Wongkwai four months in which to transform the nature of the war. He doesn't waste a day. Claiming a mandate to take any means necessary to defeat the Ming, Wongkwai whips his troops into a frenzy. They rampage across the countryside burning villages and crops, poisoning wells, looting what they please, and cutting down any who stand in their way. He does it in the name of defending the Song border. And he does it to the Song people themselves.
I can't believe I have ommited this piece of literature (as calling it an aar would be a severe understatement) till now. Oh well, at least I have seen less cliffhangers that way
I am really starting to like the cunning merchant of Zhou. While his lack of fighting might cost him dearly due to a lower army tradition, his opportunism is just as epic as the deviousness of the Ming.
About Lin'er, meh. His infant son has proved to have a better capacity to rule then he has, let's just hope that Wangdue and the new general will be enough to protect the Song Empire from his good-natured personality.
Last edited by Memento Mori; 08-12-2011 at 15:57.
Double update! Next post, followed by the first “state of the world,” which is half map report and half me messing around. I hope it's a welcome breather as the story moves through a bleak patch rather than mood whiplash. (Also, yes, I'm making three posts because I'm kind of obsessed with perfectly regular formatting.)
This is the only time I've used scorch earth btw. I know it's gamey to lure doomstacks into scorched provinces, but that isn't what I did here and I don't plan on doing it. Oh and re: “slow progress” in the war, sieges are a lot harder in MEIOU. Garrisons are larger, >1 level forts aren't uncommon, and provinces get scaling defensiveness % bonuses for pennies. Personally I like the changes. They make wars still hard even if you beat the armies. Although, as you'll see in a couple later wars, they occasionally cause me to rage.
@Memento Mori: I like the Zhou leader too... the AI never ceases to surprise me when it does cool stuff. Plus MEIOU gives monarchs personality traits with enormous positive or negative modifiers, and they seem to have an effect on how the AI acts, which is awesome. I've noticed two instances already where an AI country radically changes its behavior upon getting a new ruler.
And I wouldn't put too much faith in the heir. Song does get some rulers who lead the country to greatness, but Kaiwang isn't one of them.
Chapter 9: Elegy
Despite the fanatical manner in which Wongkwai conducts his campaign, his strategy has clear military objectives. By scorching the Song countryside and moving into Ming territory, he gives the Ming armies only two realistic avenues of attack. Rather than fruitlessly chasing his enemy around, he forces them to come to him and fight on his terms.
His armies hold against the Ming and subsequently rout them. By March, all the Ming can do is filter small handfuls of men into the burnt Song provinces, a pitiful attempt to lure Wongkwai away from their cities. With the White Lotus Army a month away, Wongkwai ignores the incursions and concentrates on his sieges.
If the fighting in Yue had damaged Lin'er's spirits, marching through northern Anhui almost breaks them.
May 4, 1364
Another day like the last. Each one I spend in these lands feels like another weight being placed on my chest. When we freed this area from the Yuan, the fields were rich, and the people welcomed us as heroes. Now, for miles all around, all I see is ash. When we pass through villages and towns, all the residents hide in their homes and refuse to speak to us. They seem scared. I don't understand why.
We stumbled upon a small group of Ming recently. The battle is not worth recounting. They'd apparently mutinied against their commanding officer days earlier and were simply trying to flee the area. Starvation and disease had beaten them before we even arrived. Those captured, when questioned, had the audacity to suggest we scorched the province ourselves. I left my officers alone with them for a few hours. Eventually, they confessed to their crimes.
I've dispatched several scouts to the north in search of Wongkwai's forces, but the general's location remains a mystery. I've decided to head east, to the coast, to see what can be done to bring this war to an end. It can't go on like this much longer.
As Lin'er settles in around Nanjing, news arrives from the south: Dahan's capital has fallen to the Yue. And just as the Ming general said they would, Yue annexed the entire kingdom.
Not satisfied with even that, they went one step further and put the Zhu king to death. Apparently his son fled to the west and has been taken in by anti-Yuan rebels seeking a legitimate ruler.
Lin'er is outraged, but there isn't anything he can do. He doesn't know what he would do. He'd entered the war to save Yue from aggression, and they respond with aggression of their own? Zhenghu tries to calm him, tells him it's for the best that the lands are with an ally rather than an enemy.
"Allies? Enemies?" Lin'er can't abide it. "We should all be allies. A united China against the outside world."
"Sir... it isn't that simple. It was like this during the Warring States, the Three Kingdoms, the Ten Kingdoms... when China breaks down, one's kingdom becomes their new 'inside' until the rest are conquered."
"It should be that simple! It's just a matter of convincing others to adjust their definitions."
"Maybe... but it would take many, many years. Maybe even centuries."
Regardless, Lin'er pauses his siege on Nanjing and sends an envoy to the gates with terms: among them, Consort Li is to step down and allow the fledgling Ming bureaucracy to head up the regency. Li rejects every line of the proposed treaty out of hand. “Unlike your army,” she writes, “news can breach my city's walls. You fight alone, and if you want anything from me, you must take it by force of arms.”
Months and seasons pass without any change on the front. Tensions mount as the war drags on into 1365, and the Song people grow more and more exhausted from the heavy taxation and lack of progress. Their view of the war shifts from being a necessary defense against the threat of Zhu hegemony to a wasteful attempt by an unready king to institute a new empire. But by June, “rumors” spread that the Song army torched northern Anhui themselves, and the simmering discontent explodes into open revolt.
Lin'er leaves a force to maintain the siege of Nanjing and leads the rest of the White Lotus Army to put down the uprising. The rebels lack effective leadership and fight with little forethought or organization, while years of battle and training have made the White Lotus a hardened, professional army. Victory seems like a foregone conclusion, and Lin'er begins planning a future assault on Nanjing before the rebels in Anhui are even finished off. Meanwhile, word comes that the Song have finally gained ground in the Ming territories. It's a relatively minor objective, merely the lands around an insignificant fishing village called Shanghai. Regardless, after a year of deadlock, the news raises their spirits.
But on June 24th, disaster strikes. The White Lotus, seventeen thousand men strong, rout the peasant militia and move to crush them for good. The panicked, fleeing rebels fire back into the Song cavalry charge with no hope of holding off their destruction. But one of the stray arrows hits Lin'er in the thigh. He brushes off the pain but within seconds begins to feel dizzy and lightheaded. His horse slows to a trot. Lin'er tumbles to the ground.
“Sir!” Soldiers dismount and run to their king while others continue the fight. “Sir! Are you--” Blood gushes from the wound, pouring out in spurts and soaking into the earth. The arrow sliced his artery wide open. A soldier tears a strip off his tunic and tries the tie the leg off.
Lin'er's vision fades. “I... never thought...”
In under a minute, Han Lin'er, the founder of the Song Kingdom and hero of the Red Turban Rebellion, is dead.
Chancellor Wangdue strides down the hallway of the capitol, eyes straight ahead, face calm and relaxed. Every room he walks by, he can sense the bureaucrats inside watching him, trying to judge whether they should panic and flee the kingdom. Really, they probably should. His mind races like a warhorse thinking about all the things that could go wrong. But it's important to maintain a cool facade to keep the wheels of government at their desks.
Four years after peace with the Yuan legitimized the Song Kingdom, its monarch is gone, leaving behind a seven year-old boy as the presumptive next in line. The war with the Ming shows no signs of ending. Practically the entire kingdom remains contested ground. Considering Lin'er died in battle, and to rebels no less, rival claimants to the throne have risen up, demanding “a capable ruler now, not an untested one in ten years' time.” Naturally, they argue that "capable ruler" would be them. Meanwhile, a new kingdom has risen in the west under Zhu Zhengde's son, and Tianwan has finally put down its own rebellions and may strike while Song is weak. For the kingdom to survive, it must be guided by a firm hand.
Wangdue pushes open the doors to the conference room. Three men sit at the table; they break off their conversation when he enters the room. Marshal Wongkwai, who was none too pleased to be pulled from the battlefield, leans back in his chair with a stupid grin on his face. Next to him sits Zhao Wangyi, Prime Minister of the Department of State Affairs and highest-ranking bureaucrat in the kingdom. And at the end of the table is...
“I don't recall summoning you.”
Jibi Zhenghu shrugs his shoulders. “I'm Lin'er's...” He winces. “I mean, I was Lin'er's closest confidant. I have a right to be here. Anyway, I don't recall you being king.”
Wangdue ignores the slight and sits down at the head of the table. “Very well. There's a lot to do. So let's keep this short so we can get back to our jobs.
“First order of business. The throne. Since the queen dowager has neither the ability nor the desire to rule until Kaiwang comes of age, we're left with two options. Either we rule in his stead, or we back a new king and delegitimize the boy. Personally, I'm in favor of the former, but either option is realistic. Thoughts?”
Unsurprisingly, Zhenghu is the first to speak up. “A new king is out of the question. Han Lin'er forged this kingdom, and the throne is Kaiwang's by blood.”
“However,” Prime Minister Wangyi says, “it will have been for nothing if it collapses without a competent ruler. I have no problem backing the child if that's what you agree on, but it would be better to install a new king. Anyway, Lin'er's entire claim was based on--in my opinion, fabricated--links to the old Song Dynasty. We merely have to announce the links were contrived, then there's no issue of usurpation and we can choose a king based on merit.”
“Oh, sure,” Zhenghu fires back, “the Will of Heaven doesn't matter. Why don't you just have your ministers draw up an official examination so we can pluck our kings from the masses like a bunch of barbaria--”
“Zhenghu, stop that.” Wangdue glares across the table. “If you can't handle a conversation dispassionately, then leave. Notwithstanding, I agree with the boy. Our electing a king could set a very dangerous precedent. Wongkwai, your take?”
“Don't matter to me. I'm a simple man. You tell me who to conquer and I do it, that's all I care about.”
“Very well. We back the boy. Moving on...”
Wangdue manages to hammer out the basic structure of their regency council in under thirty minutes. None of the other three men are particularly keen on ruling the kingdom, so they're more than happy to vest the chancellor with most of the powers of a king. Wongkwai and Wangyi prefer to stick to their own specialties. Zhenghu's only concern is that Song follows the path Lin'er intended--or, at least, the path Zhenghu imagines Lin'er would have intended. Wangdue adjourns the meeting and lets them get back to their business.
“Except you, Wongkwai. Stay here a minute.”
The general turns to face Wangdue. He sticks out his jaw with pride, as if he already expects what's coming.
“I heard the 'rumors' about what you did in Anhui. Are you going to lie, or tell the truth?”
Wongkwai pauses to think it over for few moments before replying. “I did what needed to be done.”
“No. You went over my head, sent me a fake report, and th--”
“So what if I did! The king commands the army, not you! I didn't need your authorization, and I sent you that letter as a courtesy. Don't think that just because Lin'er's dead you can all of a sudden tell me what to do.”
Wangdue grabs the front of the man's shirt and pushes him against the wall. “No, I can tell you what to do. Whether a king sits on the throne or not, I control the Secretariat. I can have you killed with the stroke of a brush.” The general's face blanches as he considers this. “Look, I honestly don't care how you do your job. But if you ever pull that shit again without my authorization, it will be the last time you do it.”
Wangdue Sengge, de facto head of the Song government. Painting ca. 1370. As depicted here, Wangdue adopted the uniform of the Confucian scholar-bureaucrat shortly after ascending to the position of chancellor.
Two months go by, and still the Song armies make no progress. Nanjing's defenses are as close to falling as they were a year and a half ago. Wangdue decides it's time to end the war, and sends a message to Li to that effect. He offers a temporary cease-fire and politely requests she come to Hangzhou to work out terms for a Ming surrender.
“Your king is dead,” she replies, “and your kingdom is nearly as weakened as mine. Why would I ever agree to anything less than the status quo?”
He writes back, “I offer you a chance to negotiate while your defeat remains minor, because I would prefer not to continue the war. But I am not Lin'er. I have no compunction against putting your entire realm to the sword if you force me to do so.”
A few days later, word comes from Nanjing that Queen Mother Li and her entourage are on their way.
From the Desk of Wuming Shi*
To: Mou Jia, Ministry of War
Hey, Rites tells me the Ming are coming to discuss a peace deal. You going to have any free hands in your department? I mean with the armies standing down and all. Got a huge backlog because of these uprisings, hoping to clear my desk by next week.
-Mou Yi, Ministry of Justice
* * *
Re: Mou Yi
Sorry buddy, no can do. Marshal says the minute they get back over the border, he's reorganizing everything. So we're going to be busting our asses even harder than you guys.
* * *
State of the World
Report authorized by the Department of State Affairs. Accurate as of September 8, 1365. All necessary changes will be communicated to you at your supervisor's discretion. In the event your supervisor is unavailable and immediate up-to-date documents are required, requests may be made through the Cartography Subgroup of the Ministry of Public Works. Please be advised that requests typically take two to three weeks to process.
Song gains in the war against the Ming have been minimal up to this point. With a temporary cease-fire in effect pending the outcome of peace negotiations, it remains to be seen what territory will be changing hands. The Secretariat suggests that annexation of the area around the fishing village of Shanghai is likely; this region is mostly farmland, but would give our kingdom access to the Yangtze River. This could be a great boon to our economy until Works manages to repair our sections of the Grand Canal. We have claims on several other sections of Ming land, but without a convincing victory, we don't expect more than an additional province or two.
To the south, it is impossible to miss the impressive growth Yue has made. With the annexation of Dahan, they've become the largest economy and second-largest military power in the region. Their king has pledged his allegiance and support to Chancellor Wangdue in thanks for his assistance in the war.
In the west, two new kingdoms have emerged: Qi, under an independent rebel leader, and Xiang, led by the son of the deceased Zhu Zhengde of Dahan. This serves to further cripple the Yuan, and it seems their empire has faded into insignificance. The small kingdoms further to the west are of little importance to us. Meanwhile, Xia throws its weight around in the Chagatai lands, and Tibet musters its army for unknown purposes.
To the north, nearly everyone seems to be after a piece of the Yuan. The Koreans have reclaimed their peninsula, and Jurchen hordes maraud across Mongol lands. And in a surprising development, the southern kingdoms of Ayutthaya and Lusong have snatched up the last bit of the Yuan's coastline. Rites is investigating whether they come to trade with or go to battle against our kingdom. The Jin rump state seems to be on its last legs, and isn't expected to survive much longer.
And finally, we turn to news from more distant lands. It should be no surprise that the civil war in Japan continues unabated. With over twenty different factions and none holding a dominant position on the islands, not even the Jade Emperor's bureaucracy could attempt to map the situation. Naturally, we will notify the relevant department subgroups if the situation becomes more comprehensible. The southern part of the continent is similarly complicated. And if rumors are to be believed, a Muslim empire called Bengal is gaining traction in India. While we don't know exactly how large it is, reports suggest it may be the most powerful country in the world at this time.
Until next time...
“Work Hard: Your Kingdom Needs You!”
-Department of State Affairs
* * *
To: All State Affairs Employees
This is the third time this month we've needed to circulate this memorandum, but it never seems to catch on: Everyone, please stop circulating unnecessary memoranda. They waste paper, ink, and everyone's time. All three of these things cost money, you know.
-Ministry of Taxation
*Wuming Shi, or “Mister No Name,” remains to this day the most-studied and least-understood figure in the entire Song bureaucracy. Serving without distinction for over five hundred years and never witnessed by a single person, Wuming Shi is nevertheless cced on all intragovernmental communications, no matter how clandestine. This is done without fear of reprisal, as Wuming Shi has never reported on a coworker for anything. However, some bureaucrats engaging in particularly illegal activities do sometimes include bribes. Just in case.
Last edited by bananafishtoday; 11-12-2011 at 20:10.
I know "Wang" means king, but to read messages addressed to "My wang" is still (immaturely) hilarious.
"Man is free; but his freedom does not look like the glorious liberty of the Enlightenment; it is no longer the gift of God. Once again, man stands alone in the universe, responsible for his condition, likely to remain in a lowly state, but free to reach above the stars.."
I haven't modded any new content in yet except for fixing the Chinese on some of the flags. This is all in the base mod. I did have to change a few things in the files though. (Like, Song/Ming/Tia got -10 bb per year, I removed this. Qi/Xia/Qin [they'll join the party later] had the wrong culture so they couldn't appear, I fixed that so they could.)
Overall, MEIOU is my fave mod ever. And the 1356 start is 10x crazier in Europe. It's really well-done. Some of the China mechanics make the scenario kind of easy if you're actively trying to Kill. Them. All. though (very impressive btw ). Like there was a time or two when I could have just backstabbed everyone and blobbed out, but it made absolutely no sense in-character, and that isn't my goal here... but I'm at 1540 now and a couple of my neighbors are starting to get a bit scary.
Less obvious but related, I also have to avoid certain grammatical constructions because of the names... King of Yue: Perfectly fine. King of Ming: Too Dr. Seuss. King of Song: Too Michael Jackson.
I like to warmonger, but don't advocate blobbing for the sake of blobbing... usually. And yea, I dig the RP concept of staying within a certain player created boundary of plausible activity. I just don't do it very well.
This seems so... taoist (or rather like the stereotypical westerner view of generic Eastern religious philosophies) that the leader of a rebelion died at the hands of rebels. With this, the history of his life made a full circle and the Empire is at balance.
Then a bullet-proof Shaolin monk played by Jackie Chan should come and save the day, but unfortunatelly you said that the heir won't be this man. Oh well, history does not have to abide to western-based archetypes