• Crusader Kings II Expansion Subscription

    Subscribe to the CK II Expansion and enjoy unlimited access to 13 major expansions and more!


  • Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

naggy

Field Marshal
85 Badges
Oct 23, 2003
5.755
2
Visit site
  • Cities: Skylines
  • March of the Eagles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Semper Fi
  • Sword of the Stars
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
  • War of the Roses
  • 500k Club
  • Majesty 2
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Knight (pre-order)
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Stellaris
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Divine Wind
  • Cities in Motion
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Hearts of Iron Anthology
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • King Arthur II
  • Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition
I am currently playing a Chinese campaign, and let me tell you, fighting off the Brits is a royal pain.

Of course, where technology and tactics fail, swarms of men can overcome!
 

unmerged(219496)

First Lieutenant
4 Badges
Aug 13, 2010
252
0
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
Tanzhang - Seriously! They're all in my house, taking my vital ports!... Er, or actually just loitering abound random parts of China. Not taken in this update - a lonely Portuguese regiment in outer Mongolia. :wacko: But I'm staying positive! Ten-thousand years to eternity! :D

Enewald - Exactly. Difficulty is the spice of life, and order is it's nemesis! :p

Alexspeed - Much obliged! Sorry for the lack of communication till then - it's weird, but I'm actually probably gonna try to stick to the cutting process, given how huge my updates balloon to if left unattended. ;) Thanks again for this contest - inspiration is a wonderful thing. :)

naggy - We're in complete agreement. The British are like a shark in a swimming pool - Unfortunately, they seem to have anticipated my swarms of loyal men attack and blocked it with the famed tea-and-crumpets defense. I am unsure of how to counter this dastardly trick. :eek:
 

Alexspeed

Art - Games - History
188 Badges
Sep 18, 2005
1.838
22
steamcommunity.com
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Galactic Assault
  • Gettysburg
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Impire
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Iron Cross
  • King Arthur II
  • Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition
  • Lead and Gold
  • Legio
  • Leviathan: Warships
  • The Kings Crusade
  • Lost Empire - Immortals
  • Empire of Sin
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Ancient Space
  • Hearts of Iron Anthology
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Cities in Motion
  • Cities in Motion 2
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • A Game of Dwarves
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Commander: Conquest of the Americas
  • Darkest Hour
  • Deus Vult
  • Diplomacy
  • Dungeonland
  • East India Company
  • East India Company Collection
  • Europa Universalis III
No problem :)

I hope you continue to update anyway, its a too good story to leave it now :)
 

unmerged(219496)

First Lieutenant
4 Badges
Aug 13, 2010
252
0
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
Ox-Head and Horse-Face Hui'an 44 Xin'an '45 {1843-44}

Mother,

You should see the spirit of celebration here! It is as if life itself is rejuvenated, a great re-flowering of the Chinese spirit. The war effort has unified the diverse people of the Qing Empire against a foreign aggressor; I am proud to be here, bravely taking a stand for what I believe in. It seems only natural that with my help and assistance, not only could China successfully muster an incredible army, modern and strategic enough to take on that of any other force in the known, Western world, but it would bring great wealth and respect to the Oskisson family name. This is it, Mama. This is everything we've hoped for, that I have hoped for all these years of being a stranger in a strange land. My waiting, my humiliation, putting up with the jests and the laughter - they all end now. I can feel it, that soon I will be home and bringing you all souvenirs, not the chintzy things of backwater craftsmanship I have sent you in the past, but artifacts of a new age.

My hand is shaking as I right this - I could not get to sleep this evening, or the last. This inn that we are staying at has been so busy with customers and well-wishers that I have been at a loss for words, and my thoughts are filled with a feverish hope. Mei Ling has asked that we stay for the New Year - it a curious custom, apparently related to the Lunar Calendar. It is one that I have not yet experienced directly; this is the first time I shall be in such an urban area during the New Year. This is the year of the Water Sheep - it should be fluid, relaxed, and positive. Although it is a bit early, my hope is that this letter - in the distinctive red envelope so popular at this time - will reach you well, and this gift of money will show you how bright the future shall be.


Clark smiled, ignoring the crick in his wrist and the circles lining his eyes like weights. The moon streamed through the window, outlining his desk in a faint yellow light, perfect for the last lines he had rehearsed in his head so many times. With a faint draw of his pen, he drew a close to the letter.

Everything is well. We have managed to evade the British blockade and the fighting seems to have died down. Receiving your letters so lined with care, meant the world to me. Please tell Papa that his son will be coming home soon. Love,

Clark Oskission


For the first time in ages, the young man felt proud to see that last name. Everyone who thought I was pissing away my family's money, my town's money, the money of all hard-working people- they'll see what I have become, what knowledge I have taken from here, and they will respect me. And everything is as it should be. Only a few minutes had this pleasant conceit sunk into his head then Clark heard a fumbling at the door. Someone was trying to get into his room! Probably a reveler, still drunk with the ambrosia-like taste of victory! Clark grabbed his pen and put on the most menacing expression he could muster.

Hong Mei Ling didn't seem to be impressed however. Her lips were set in a very bemused smile, her Changshan was ruffled and her hair pointing every which way. "Oskission, you were talking to yourself. You haven't slept for two nights now; and as fun as it is watching you starve yourself while writing letters to your parents, I wanted to make sure I wasn't going to need to drag you outside for some food and water, or perhaps medical attention. Also, it's keeping me up, and possibly a few other patrons." She paused, then raised an eyebrow. "Hell-" Her words slurred slightly as her eyes narrowed. "Ni kan qilai xiang gou shi. Why haven't you gotten any sleep, Clark?"

The bedraggled young man slowly rose from the desk he had been crouched at, patched and careworn clothes swirling behind him like a quilt. He spread his hands out in front of himself in a broad shrug. "Honestly? I don't want to dream. My dreams have been strange recently - eh, did you say something about shit?" He paused, laughing raucously - then as quickly as it started, he stopped and collapsed to the floor, looking to the window. "... I'm very tired, but everything seems to be going so well. You probably wouldn't understand... It's stupid of me to feel this exuberant about anything in particular. Ha-" Coughing, Clark turned his gaze back to Mei Ling, who was now clearly worried.

"Yeah, that didn't tell me anything, Clark." If I can talk to you, then you can talk to me. Say something, damnit! But still, Clark remained silent, watching. "Tomorrow, I thought we'd go go see if we couldn't get some carriages up the coast all the way to Beijing. It won't take as long as our detours have been taking so far, and I realize you're probably sick to the death of Cantonese cooking, so - we can just go and get you to wherever it is you need to be." Tsch, like that's what I'd been thinking at all. Mei Ling watched Clark's eyes glimmer with enthusiasm. What's got you so excited, Oskisson?.. I'd hoped we'd spend some more time here. Her thoughts clouding, Mei Ling sighed and leaned against the door frame.

"Well, anyway. Let's just see what tomorrow brings. Try to get some sleep, Clark." Her warm smile pierced through the churning sea of her thoughts, and on a whim she leaned forward and kissed Clark lightly on the cheek and left, shutting the door behind her. Clark just watched as she left, his hand rising slowly to his cheek. He left it there for awhile, expression unreadable. Then, with another stare towards the moon, he finally closed his eyes, and begin to dream.

-

There was nothing here. No light, no dark, no oxygen. He couldn't breath. Swimming through the void like it was water, he could feel it pushing back against every movement, as if it were alive. Finally, he made it to land - an island in the darkness. The warmth of torches on the walls illuminated his soul as he stopped to catch his breath. Moving down a sea of corridors, each one cobbled out of stones almost as old as the walls in Hui'an, he found himself in a room surrounded by statues of feudal knights, each one raising the ceiling of this underground chamber with their sword. In the center of the room was a dais. And on this dais...

"You shouldn't be here yet, Clark Oskisson." Her voice was not menacing or masculine, like he had expected. Indeed, the giant goat-headed woman, coated with black fur and wearing armor as fine as any knight had a voice tinged with melancholy and self-loathing. "You aren't ready. You haven't been judged yet. I'd hoped you wouldn't be so self-destructive. You shouldn't listen to me, remember?" Ruinous eyes, black with no pupil and encircled by whites the shade of the moon, stared into the depths of his soul. The fire ensconced on the beast's head cast a menacing shadow over the chamber. "All things must come to an end sometime. Please, don't be like so many - and don't fear change." A pause in her words - the shifting of two mammoth as if they were the hands of a clock - "Do not return here, Clark Oskission."

And he fell into the darkness.

-

Breaking out in a cold sweat, Clark leapt to his feet - the chirping of songbirds told him it was early in the morning. Good scents flowed from the open window, and the clatter of commerce and the hum of voices meant he wasn't dreaming; this was real. Putting a finger to his chest, he felt the sweat, heavy against his skin like a pendulum. He must have been sleep-walking. Shuddering, he got dressed and left the room.

Hong Mei Ling was sitting at a table arranged outside the inn, a parasol perched over it to keep the bright January sunlight from bothering those reading beneath it. Her lips were upturned into a snarl, and it appeared she had been up for some time. That didn't stop her expression from lightening up as Clark approached. She gestured to a chair, and Clark took it, arms folded. "Morning, Mei Ling! I managed to get some sleep last night - no thanks to an interruption from an exasperating lady I have the misfortune of traveling with." His laughter was cut short with a roll of the eyes and a very patient sigh. "Glad you think you're funny, Clark. I take it you haven't heard." When Clark shook his head, Mei Ling continued, looking terse. "A Dai Li outpost in Dali -" Her piercing gaze stopped Clark in his tracks "- and was completely wiped out. Normally, the Qing have numerical advantage, but the British just sent their 'East Indian Regiments' to take the brunt of the blow. It was like a meat grinder."

1chap6.jpg

For once, we had the technical advantage. All it did was make the killing slower.

The bitterness in her voice reminded Clark of when they'd first spoke, and of their second meeting. He begin to feel nervous, instinctively scratching the back of his neck. "It's probably nothing, right? After all, as long as the Daoguang Emperor keeps picking off weak, uncivilized regiments far from the line of supply, and throws it's main forces at the British, China should win through." As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Clark realized he'd made a mistake. Mei Ling's fist hit the table so hard that it cracked, splinters digging into her flesh. She didn't notice.

"Do you even realize what you're saying? How utterly screwed up that is? Why is it that China should be fighting these Indians for scraps of land that are rightfully Chinese? That have always been Chinese? And uncivilized? Don't make me laugh!" She spat. "It's not the Qing who load up shipments of Opium and fleece it into Western ports. This brutish war is all the fault of foreign concessions!" Her fists clenched and unclenched and for a minute, Clark wasn't sure if she was going to scream or cry. She did neither however; what happened was worse. She just slumped into her seat, exhausted. "... The Daoguang Emperor is dead, Clark. Prince Yixin succeeded him, and is now the Tianmen Emperor."

66971630.jpg

The Prince Gong, prior his coronation.

-

The days floated into each other like cotton down a river. Mei Ling barely spoke, and when she did, it was short and concise. She spent most of the day wandering around looking for something - although what, Clark did not know. He privately doubted that she knew, herself. He continued to write, rarely leaving his room unless there was proper reason to. Most of the time, Mei Ling brought back food, and she seemed content to take care of the inn's fees - so it really wasn't his problem. But somehow, word had spread of the reclusive westerner hiding in his room like a cave... And after awhile he was approached to write a newsletter. Nothing excessive, simply something that would circulate as languidly as the days around Southern China, and help coordinate to occupied territory that reinforcements were on the way. When he'd coughed and reached for his pen, now somewhat reflexively, he'd stopped to ask the Mandarin facing him something he felt Mei Ling would ask. "Why?" The official grimaced. "Because it seems more official when a Westerner does it. People are more likely to believe you." And saying nothing else, Clark wrote.

If Mei Ling hadn't let herself in, he would have still been writing when the first of February finally rolled into town, an unseasonal light snow coating the walls with a dusting of snow like powdered sugar. Her knuckles and fingers were calloused from work, and she had embroidered a square with the character 'Long' into her hat. Clark laughed dryly. "Oh, so you're a Mandarin now? I'm glad to see you've been promoted." Mei Ling's lips twisted into a snarl. "It's not on my jacket, Clark. It's a sign for those who refuse to yield. And I thought I should let you know - I'm leaving. There's a cell forming in Xin'an. It's a fishing village mostly, but there are plenty of people who still remember Hong Xiuquan. Change has to come, but it shouldn't be like this." They stared at each other for a long time; Clark looked away first, feeling embarrassed and ashamed. "... That's all right. I can find my own way, and I've received a commission for my work. You'll be all right, then? I mean, they'll let you -" It was Mei Ling's turn to look away. "They won't know. Are you sure you'll be all right? It's great that you're getting paid and all, but I mean-" The tension remained thick in the air.

Finally, Mei Ling spoke, looking at the floor as if trying to memorize every knot in the wood. "I thought that we could celebrate the start of the new year together, first. Normally, I'd be meeting up with my family, but you know - besides my brother, it's just..." Clark pulled himself up off the floor, brushing off the dust that had coated him like a second skin. He smiled widely and took her hand. "That sounds like a wonderful idea, Mei Ling. I would be honored to celebrate the new year with you." She returned his smile, and took his hand. The two of them left the room, leaving behind mountains of unfinished parchments.

-

Waves crashed against the shore as several other people wandered the beach. The two had passed several lion dance troupes, festivals, and well-wishers in the city. A Buddhist monk had been delivering sermons about the importance of reigning in want and need, and there had been families; many families. He thought of the letter he had sent, and couldn't help but wonder if they would be celebrating the new year, if they even knew he was now. He was shook out of his reverie by Mei Ling excitedly tapping his shoulder. "We're here! This is the perfect place, I think. We can use those rocks as a table - just a second..."

In moments, they had transformed the area into a respectable site for a picnic. Mei Ling produced two bowls from a thatch basket at her side, steam rising from them into the cold night air. The bowls were loaded to the brim with a delicious looking medley of noodles in a warm broth, cradling chunks of tofu and pork, peppers and okra. Mei Ling was beaming. "Now, this should probably be vegetarian - I think the monk we passed was saying something about that - but I never plan on having a long life, anyway." Chuckling, she brought a pair of kuai to the bowl and begin to eat. Clark followed her example without hesitation; and very soon there was nothing left.

They sat in reflective silence for some time, until the roar of fireworks crackled in the distance. Mei Ling's eyes brightened. "Oh, wait! There's more - I also brought some nian gao. This year... It's going to be better than the last." Her voice lowered as she stared off into the distance determinedly. Clark placed his hand on her shoulder, and she flashed him a quick smile. The nian gao were soft and sweat, and for a moment, he could think of little else besides the sublime taste. Then, Mei Ling begin to gasp in awe at the fireworks again, and motioned for him to watch. The new year had come, and Clark prepared himself for the journey ahead.

"Mei Ling - I want to come with you. It's not as if I'm doing this work now to help anyone, and it's not getting me any closer to my goal. Besides... Y-you're one of the few people in my life who hasn't looked down on me for who I am, for who my family is. There's no way you'd know that of course, but you don't understand - no one can understand-" Eyes shut, Clark tried to gather his thoughts, and could think of nothing else but the gentle warmth brushing against his back. Opening his eyes, he could see Mei Ling next to him. "... You don't have to say that every time you bring the subject up, stupid. So what if I don't understand you? You're not alone, or anything. I was going to say that you couldn't come at all, but I'd actually be bored stiff if I didn't have to look after you - and who knows, maybe neither of us is actually gonna change anything, am I right..? But we have to try. To long life!" Clark smiled, his melancholy gone again. "To long life!" The two embraced as the fireworks continued to crackle in the distance.

-

Cheung Hai was nothing if not brave. He'd been excited to hear that battles would be taking place in Xin'an, and dreamed of the day a legion of British soldiers, all with lion-manes of red hair would storm the town to relieve the occupation of Macau, and people would depend on clever Hai to scare them off. He'd planned to enlist a few of the other children as well, and hole up in the Mission school if things had gotten bad. He'd made a rod of bamboo as a club to defend himself with.

But when he'd turned down the alley to his house, he hadn't expected to see British soldiers there, nothing like the soldiers in his head. Although the men in front of him where wearing British uniforms, their scowls and slow movements didn't fit Hai's fantasy at all. He took a few nervous step backs, then ran forward and swung his rod at a soldier's leg. There was a sizzling hiss, and the soldier fell to the ground, screaming in pain - a terrible, inhuman scream that sounded like a boar being skinned alive.

Hai ran.

As he ran, the soldiers darted after him. Their movements slowly became less and less fluid as their bodies began to surge over their uniforms and their skin gained transparency, like clear gelatin that had been poured into a uniform. Eventually, the things spilled over their uniforms entirely and begin to gallop towards, splashing clear fluid everywhere. One jolted forward and threw a lance of it's substance at him, spearing him through the leg. Hai gasped and coughed blood onto the ground, yanking his foot free with a sickening slick sound. Then, Hai ran as fast as he could and managed to lose the soldiers - who slowly lurched back into the shape of men. One drew his hand to his face, sniffed the fresh blood coating it, and gestured forward.

The British had come to Xin'an.

-

It was early July as Mei Ling led Clark back along the coast of Guandong to the city of Xin'an. Although it was hardly the metropolis that Hui'an had been, it was still a large city, and like most coastal cities, normally buzzed with conversation, vignettes, and the sounds of life.

Mei Ling gestured for Clark to be silent as they approached the city gates, however. The scent of smoke remained heavy in the air, and it was obvious that something had happened. The city was not on fire - too many buildings were standing. Mei Ling swore under her breath, as a familiar melody drifted across the air.

A young boy came running out of the village, out of breath and bleeding heavily from his leg. Clark felt sick and immediately went green at the sight. The child could have easily been his brother. Mei Ling begin to yell - "Quick, give me your jacket - I'm going to make bandages out of it." Forcing himself to look, Clark nodded his assent and threw his jacket to Mei Ling, who was already reassuring the boy that everything would be all right. For some reason, he was clutching a little stick of bamboo as if it were a magic charm.

Dashing off along the coast, Clark quickly begin to scan for any wood still dry enough to serve as a splint and finding none, he went into Xin'an proper. The city had not been destroyed - but certain buildings were on fire, a controlled blaze being watched by several soldiers. At first, no one took notice of him - and Clark begin to think they didn't care. Gratefully, he slipped past the -strangely vacant- looking ranks, and snatched some wood from a pile near one of the bonfires, secretly happy not to see anyone roaming the streets... Although his mind begin to conjure images of what few things could have happened to them.

"Aaaherrn..." A drawling cry caused Clark to wheel around, dropping the wood upon the wet grass. A soldier had pulled up behind him, gut distended over his pants, despite looking as if he was so painfully thin he hadn't eaten in weeks. The soldier gnashed his teeth together, and coughed, raising a bony finger to point at the distance - and Clark realized with shock he was pointing at a kneeling Mei Ling and the young boy. Reacting to the fear in Clark's eyes, the soldiers entire face split into a grin, three rows of sharp, shark-like teeth glittering in it's mouth. They tore into his chest, and everything went dark.

-

"'S still a bit a early." This was strange - he was coming to in some sort of - was this a bathhouse? Everything was so poorly lit. No - maybe it was an office of some sort? "Damn straight it's early. But if he dawdles too much, then he'll have to wait here for h-ever, hner-hner-hner!" A horrible, jarring laughter caused him to snap to his feet. In front of him were two huge creatures; one with the face of a horse, and the other with the head of an ox. The horse-faced one was laughing nauseatingly.

"Oooooohohoho! So you're awake, little shrimp. You should be scared, terrified even! Do you realize where you are? Show some respect!" Ox-head slammed his shoulders against him, and he fell to the floor. Snickering was all he could hear, and then he felt two pairs of hands grab either of his arms, yanking him down an endless series of corridors. Darting around, with their faces to the ground and making as little noise as possible were - bureaucrats? Suddenly, Horse-face's braying form yanked him to his feet.

chap6yamaandcourt.jpg

He did not recognize the huge man with the terrifying face sitting before him.


"You." The towering figure in the robes of a judge did not spare more than a moment to glance at him. "Oskisson, Clark. Leader of a sinful, prideful life. Thoughtless to so many, and hero to so few. Unfortunately it is not my job to process you, or you would be here for a long time." Ox-face seemed to find this funny, and began to laugh. Suddenly, the figure's robes shook around him as his head snapped to attention, face lined with rage. "Do not laugh at my judgement, Ox-Faced fool! You will be next in line if you do not show the respect and courtesy I command!" The figure's voice was both velvety and gravel-like at the same time, commanding and yet calming. He had already turned back to his paperwork. "There is still hope for you, though. Seeing things as I do in black and white, I would not call such option hope... Now go." Clark fell through the floor, into the nothingness of the void. He did not even exist anymore.

After an eternity, a voice spoke to him, as if sharing his consciousness.

"Do you regret?" No, he thought. There was nothing to regret.
"You were meant to be famous. Do you crave power?" Above all else. To avenge my family, to save my friends, for the sake of being strong.
"That's a lie. It's for your own sake." That's right. It's for my own sake. If I'm not strong, the world will hurt me. I have to break it, first.

Before the exchange could finish - and he could already feel a last question half-formed in his head - he felt another voice, sonorous and tragic. "If you have the ability to suffer to fix things, to live for as long as it takes to see this through, would you?" The voice was different, and he recognized it from a far-off dream. He began to feel himself again, unconsciously nodding assent from the middle of nowhere. "Yes. Yes, I would!.. I'll fix everything!"

The first voice screamed in frustration, and the second voice seemed both melancholic and glad at the same time. He began to drift through the void again as if it were a sea, it's currents gently floating him sideways, along the water, up and over as if they were sheets and he was dreaming, he was dreaming in a bed and-

-

Clark jolted awake, knuckles white and grasping against the edges of the European-style bed he found himself in. Blinking, he looked around and noticed several pairs of clothes - both his own, including an even more frayed and patched jacket, with noticeable gaps - and several new ones. And in the corner, reading a rather familiar unfinished paper-

Yelu chuckled, putting the paper to his side. "You know, this is the second time we've met like this, isn't it?" Clark begin to laugh, and winced as a jolt of pain shot through his spine. Yelu grimaced. "The shell flattened when it hit your spine. You're lucky to be alive." Returning the grimace, Clark rubbed the back of his neck, finding that his hair was now down to his shoulders. "How long have I been out? It still feels humid, like summer. Don't tell me that I've become Rip Van Winkle, ha! Ah, ehmn." Yelu looked confused, then shrugged. "No, you've only been out in a month. After my banner arrived at Xin'an, it took awhile to liberate the area. There's good news though!"

2chap6.jpg

The war ended in July! The new Emperor, long may he live, negotiated a peace treaty for unidentified concessions. Essentially a white pace.

"You know, it was lucky I got here in one peace. After heading the wrong way with a certain door-guard turned amateur rebel, it was luck that led me to you two. Ah, did I say that right - nevermind. I met this incredible lady named Miao who told me all about you two, and helped me track you down." Yelu sighed. "Sadly, she was spoken for, although a wonderful host. Once I got off the road and recovered again - I'll go into that later - it turned out I'd recovered just in time to be mustered into the Red Hawk banner." He paused, shaking his head. "The British did a number to Xin'an though. It had plenty of strategic value, but I don't see why they went after mostly civilian targets. Weren't they supposedly more interested in Yunnan, anyway?"

Clark coughed and sat up straight, now able to distinguish a truly incredible amount of bandages and poultices criss-crossing his body. "Mei Ling - where is she? Is she safe? We found a boy, a small child - he'd been badly hurt by British soldiers. What happened to him." Yelu grinned toothily. "Figured that you'd be asking about that. They're both fine, unless the Dutch decided to attack in the night and take Taiwan with them. Bwahahaha!" His laughter was only silence by Clark's stony expression. "Sorry, terrible joke. Mei Ling was apparently hiding out with some associates of hers while waiting for help." Yelu's mirthful expression darkened for a second. "Really, this world moves too fast for me... Anyway, let's go see them, shall we? Here, I'll help you up - owe you that from before, at least. C'mon, let's go."

-

3chap6.jpg

As the two hobbled off, elsewhere the reception was less esctatic.

She sat on an ivory throne. It had not long ago been her uncle's throne, and many more before his. The past few days had been staggering - but every day had become that, a battle against the court, against lies, and filth, and treasonous words. Any weakness would be seized, any momentary lapse would be enough, and now... This. She tapped her fingers against the throne impatiently, waiting for the first to return. And so it did, and quickly, it's wispy form materializing out of the shadow cast by a candle in the corner. It crawled over to her feet, and began to whisper insidiously. She cared not what it whispered however, nor for the price she would pay. The Empire would hold.


chap6queenvictoria.jpg

Upon Britannia, the sun would never set.

-

Bonus: China at peace

6chap6.jpg

The Middle Kingdom survives, strengthened by a victory and what it is beginning to see as a wise new leader. Reforms continue, even as they sake up the social order, impose new cultural values, and espouse a system of capital and wealth responsible for many social ills. These new challenges cannot detract from the hope that spreads throughout the Qing Dynasty, as the Tianmen Emperor enthusiastically begins to shake the country to it's roots and the year of the Wood Monkey draws near...

-


Thought's so far -

YEAH FOR TEXTWALLS I KNOW YOU ALL MISSED THEM!
(Don't worry, it should be only occasionally that they're this... Uh, textwally. To answer your question, Alexspeed - Don't worry, if I tried to stop writing now, the AAR would pull me through the screen and eat me - if paradox doesn't first! :rofl:)

So hopefully this update has been fun for you as it has been for me! Some funny things - one, I never expected the British to invade Shenzang/Xin'an navally (oops) or the Dutch to attempt and briefly succeed at a landing on Taiwan/Formosa (hehe!). Both fold nicely into the scheme of things, as does the other. I was tempted to make the new Emperor the Heavenly Flight Emperor, but don't know how I could do that correctly... Nor am I sure that I am following proper naming conventions. For those wondering, Yixin is quite a character. I'm sure his arrival here will trigger many interesting things, indeed...

For those wondering about Queen Vicky and her Evil Plots (zounds!) never fear - I hold quite a bit of love and respect for the Queen in real life, even if we do diametrically disagree about pretty much everything. Also, the battle for Guandong was not the final battle, as opposed to Yelu's embellishments - the final battle was actually fought in Inner Mongolia of all places, by a lone British regiment with military access through Russia. A Mongolian Martyr event popped up shortly after the war and I struggled for a way to include it in... No dice though. Poor little martyr pop. ;_; I only imprisoned him though, so that's awright.

And for those wondering about... Certain story aspects, I did warn you at the beginning things'd go down the rabbit hole! :p Last but certainly not least, want to have some delicious Yong Tau Fu/Yong Tofu and Nian Gao of your very own? Well, I have a recipe for the former here (tried it, although it's not my own sadly) and a much more tried and true recipe for Nian Gao here. I love Nian Gao and eat it fairly often as a dessert, although that's probably not too traditional, heh! I like using plums or candied peaches in it, if you have access to either. Questions? Comments? Threats? You know I love'em. Keep it coming! :)
 

Enewald

Enewald Enewald Enewald
58 Badges
Oct 17, 2007
23.941
1.814
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Impire
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Iron Cross
  • Leviathan: Warships
  • The Kings Crusade
  • Magicka
  • Majesty 2 Collection
  • March of the Eagles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Sengoku
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
  • 500k Club
  • Darkest Hour
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Cities in Motion
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Deus Vult
  • Dungeonland
  • East India Company Collection
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • The Showdown Effect
Poor Indians, having to fight for some British lady...
 

Alexspeed

Art - Games - History
188 Badges
Sep 18, 2005
1.838
22
steamcommunity.com
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Galactic Assault
  • Gettysburg
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Impire
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Iron Cross
  • King Arthur II
  • Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition
  • Lead and Gold
  • Legio
  • Leviathan: Warships
  • The Kings Crusade
  • Lost Empire - Immortals
  • Empire of Sin
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Ancient Space
  • Hearts of Iron Anthology
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Cities in Motion
  • Cities in Motion 2
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • A Game of Dwarves
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Commander: Conquest of the Americas
  • Darkest Hour
  • Deus Vult
  • Diplomacy
  • Dungeonland
  • East India Company
  • East India Company Collection
  • Europa Universalis III
Wow... what an update, thank you for the novel :D

I guess you only want to get your first 5 chapter judged for the contest? (no problem with that)
 

unmerged(219496)

First Lieutenant
4 Badges
Aug 13, 2010
252
0
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
Enewald - I was going to immortalize Vijay Singh in an extra twenty paragraphs, but figured that might be pushing it. :p Seriously though, I only eeked out a white peace due to the U.K. sending it's Indian holdings into full-on meatgrinder mode. Big battles with the British could be one through numbers, but the amount killed were so low the warscore from it was hardly worth it.

Alexspeed - :D Much obliged, hope you enjoyed! The judges can judge as much as they like - I'd be thrilled if they enjoyed it so much they kept on reading!..

... and understanding if they decided that it's a might bit long in the tooth. ;) It's one heck of a fun ride though. Thanks for reading! :D
 

Alexspeed

Art - Games - History
188 Badges
Sep 18, 2005
1.838
22
steamcommunity.com
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Galactic Assault
  • Gettysburg
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Impire
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Iron Cross
  • King Arthur II
  • Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition
  • Lead and Gold
  • Legio
  • Leviathan: Warships
  • The Kings Crusade
  • Lost Empire - Immortals
  • Empire of Sin
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Ancient Space
  • Hearts of Iron Anthology
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Cities in Motion
  • Cities in Motion 2
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • A Game of Dwarves
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Commander: Conquest of the Americas
  • Darkest Hour
  • Deus Vult
  • Diplomacy
  • Dungeonland
  • East India Company
  • East India Company Collection
  • Europa Universalis III
Okay, while your whole AAR in all chapters (hopefully many more to come) is deffinatly worth reading, only your first 5 will be judged then.

Thank you for your writings, i truly enjoy them :)
 

unmerged(219496)

First Lieutenant
4 Badges
Aug 13, 2010
252
0
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
Oh, there will be more! I've been reading a lot of Upton Sinclair in-between interviews, and it always gets my brain flowing. I'm thinking I might go back to breaking the updates up for ease of reading (and sneaking more textwalls in, evillaughter) but we'll see. :) Most importantly... Thanks. I'm glad I can entertain you. :) If my writing makes even one person besides me happy, then I feel like I've done my work, and done it well.

Also, writing aars is rather fun, but I do digress; without further adieu or aplomb-
 

unmerged(219496)

First Lieutenant
4 Badges
Aug 13, 2010
252
0
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
The Emperor of Devils Xin'an 45 Beijing 50 {1845-50}

Mother,

My greatest apologies to you for this delayed correspondence. I sustained a small injury in a fracas with some British soldiers; the wound appears to be mostly superficial, nothing to worry about really. Nevertheless, I have been prescribed to bedrest as I recover my vigor. But you can rest - a small joke, I know - assured that nothing more will harm your prodigal son in his voyage to Beijing! That's right, the sooner I recover, the sooner we live - and the sooner that I can come home to you and father. The years have been trying, yet I feel that I have matured a great deal and am ready to profit off of my experiences.

However, I have sent several very harsh letters to the British consulate regarding the conduct their troops have displayed during this conflict. The burnt-out husks of housing and the odd, disjointed state we found the many residents of Xin'an in was both profusely frightening and inexplicable. It yet remains for me to understand why the British burned only sections of the residential area, and not military targets or the civilian harbor. At least the bulk of the population seems to have been saved by the timely intervention of the Qing Gold and Brown Banners.

I've heard about the tensions within the Union, and am sure that the proud sons and daughters of Virginia will make the right choice when it comes to this debacle. Honestly, I'm having trouble picturing it as a serious conflict - all this talk of secession over a few slaves? President Van Buren's refusal to go after the Western territories notwithstanding, he seems like a more than capable man. After all, support for abolition appears to be strong with apparent inability of plantation economics to produce more territory! Another joke for which I must apologize - this recent string of events has left me in increasingly high spirits. Mei Ling has been - he is...


A gust of warm coastal air blew in from the open window, and Clark struggled to keep his grip on his pen - and his mind on his words. Mei Ling was peering his way from where she sat on the floor, watching every word with a focused expression - and a very noticeable vexation. "You're really going on, Clark. These letters mean a lot to you, don't they?" Clark shrugged non-committally, and eased back into the bed, drawing an exasperating sigh from Mei Ling as she clambered to her feet and began pacing.

More than I had expected. An incredible person whom I hope you all one day have the pleasure of meeting, even if he sometimes doesn't seem to care about the nicities of proper conduct when someone is resting their health.
Love,

Clark Oskission


As he finished the letter with a surge of pride, he turned from the comfortable bed to notice Mei Ling still looking intensely at him - and quickly turned away, unable to meet those confident brown eyes. "What seems to be so important that you pester a poor, sick man as he writes a letter to his family? Don't you have children to tend to?" The words came out more harshly then he'd intended them to, but luckily they seemed to float right over Mei Ling's head, which she cocked to the side as she spoke. "No. That kid - Hai - is being looked after by pharmacologists. And he isn't the only one - I've never seen wounds that strange. And anyway, I'm trying to learn from watching you." Clark rubbed at the back of his neck, eyes darting around uncertainly.

"Whatever is there that you'd learn from watching me? Honestly, I feel like if anyone's been learning anything, it's me." Clark laughed in self-derision, but Mei Ling put her hands on her hips. "English, obviously. When I managed to grab a few of the villagers and set up a base out of town, a lot of my colleagues were reading English literature. Don't sell yourself short - we're always learning, or at least that's what Yelu says. If you think you know everything - or that someone else does - you're not seeing everything." She smiled and sat back on the floor, arms resting on her knees. Clark tried to smile back, but found himself suddenly besieged by thoughts, not all of them ones he was comfortable with.

"Mei Ling, how did you meet Yelu, anyhow? It certainly seems the two of you have known each other for a long time. And more importantly - well, I'll ask that later." He fiddled with the letter not yet ensconced in an envelope as he waited for a reply - which was not long in the waiting, as Mei Ling fell back and stared at the ceiling, her smile pensive. "Actually, we met through my brother. He's a staunch supporter of the Qing, at least was. I've got no idea what he thinks now - but Yelu was originally going to train him. He'd done well on the service exam, and the Daoguang Emperor had originally intended to phase new officers into the Banners. But my brother didn't take too well to training with many other Juren, and Yelu didn't take well to him. It probably would have been a complete waste of time for both of them if I hadn't been there to send him off; as it was, my brother abandoned his goal of climbing the Service ladder to work in various jobs - I took over his work in the Taipa when he resumed them. Although it's hard to tell if it was by Opium or order that took him so far away." Grinding her teeth, she blew at a loose strand of hair, then closed one eye and cast an appraising glance at Clark. "So, what was your second question?"

He'd thought about it some time, but he couldn't remember quite what had happened. Oh, you can remember just fine. You just don't want to believe. But don't worry - I'm still here, and I'll make you great. You chose me, remember? The strange thought lingered in his mind as he spoke distractedly. "You saw me go down, didn't you? What happened before you retreated to the hills?" He wanted to ask why she had left, but didn't have the courage to; not that it mattered, because his anguish was written all over his face. Mei Ling sat up straight, looking more serious than she'd ever been. "I would've clawed my way through the British to get to you, Clark. If there hadn't been anyone else there, I wouldn't even have to tell you this. But you saw how badly Hai was hurt; his leg was halfway twisted around his ankle! It made the most cringeworthy lotus feet I've seen look delicate! And there were people there that needed to be evacuated. If I'd dove in to save you while they were fleeing, they would've died and we probably would have too - and as much as I like the idea of a heroic stand, there's a time and a place for that." The ire in her eyes faded, and she grimaced. "I can't believe I have to tell you this, Clark. I'd figure you'd understand already."

But that grimace quickly faded to hurt as he sneered back at her, still not quite able to meet her gaze. "Oh, so it's that simple? You'd choose them over me?" Mei Ling looked confused, obviously not expecting this response. "W-what's that supposed to mean? Clark, I don't understand-"

"Fair enough, I suppose. Very rational." His fists clenched and he was pretty sure he could feel the acid dripping off of his tongue. "I suppose it's easy enough to just leave a stupid foreigner to die, especially if there's some sort of greater good involved. And you just left me. Damnit, you left me to die!" His fingers shook as he pointed accusingly at her, finally looking up with a secret feeling of triumph that the invincible Mei Ling could be hurt - that lasted for as long as it took him to look up. The betrayal on her face instantly sapped him of all the twisted joy he'd gotten from that moment - how had he even said something like that? Why had he wanted to?

"I never meant things to happen like this."

He'd never heard her voice, so strong and self-assured get so quiet. Why had he said that?

"For what it's worth, I only saw you get shot... And I suppose I didn't even really see that. When you collapsed to the ground, I couldn't look at anything else. It took the crowd to hold me back. I couldn't do anything, anything at all."

Her hair covered her eyes like a shield, and Clark realized that her voice was trembling. Stupid! Stupid! Stupidstupidstupid- But he couldn't manage an apology, as if some invisible wall had suddenly formed over his throat. Mei Ling slowly, unsteadily rose to her feet, her natural grace gone. "I'm gonna go check and see if Yelu is ready to leave." And with that, she left.

Throwing himself back in the suddenly confining bed, Clark screamed soundlessly into the pillow. This is the first step to fixing things. The voice was languid, the first voice in his feverish dream. Had he agreed to help that voice? He couldn't remember - everything seemed off. She'll thank you, later. All dogs must learn their place.

"Shut up." Clark whispered to himself, but the voice had never been there to begin with. Full of doubt and self-loathing, he drifted into an uncomfortable sleep, dreading morning and having to see Mei Ling. And Yelu! What would Yelu say, what would the old man due to him when he found out the things he had said?

But morning came, and Clark was determined to accept whatever punishment the universe threw his way. So he was practically starstruck when a very cheery Yelu greeted him at the long table the seaside town served breakfasts at. Although Mei Ling's refusal to meet his gaze and unsmiling demeanor spoke volumes, it seemed like Yelu, for the time being, had forgiven him. But why? I wouldn't. Clark thought, but the coward in him welcomed this respite, and took a seat next to them.

"Good morning, Clark! It's good to see you in almost as excellent shape as me, hah! Ready to finally go to the capital? It's gonna be quite a trip, although I'm determined to make it there by no later then August if things go well. I've been thinking - it's about time I think of some sort of nickname for ya. Mei Ling isn't really delicate, so I figured little'd work for her - and given her name, don't you think that little Red suits her?" Yelu ambled on cheerfully, apparently unaware of the discomfort of the person sitting to either side of him. Mei Ling shot Clark a look quick as lightning, apparently trying to gauge his expression - and Clark looked away before she could. Stupid.

"... Anyway, trying to figure out a way to make a meaningful name for you is getting too stressful on an incredible day like today. And it's always a bad idea to resume a journey with tension in the air!" He smiled toothily, then stood up - having only eaten a meager breakfast. "I'm off to get the horses ready; you'll like this, Clark. You've ridden horses, right?" Clark nodded numbly. "Well, this'll be like that, only better. You'll see, hah! See you both in a bit-" He begin to walk off, whistling to himself, when Clark darted after him. "Sounds great, I'll be glad to help!" Yelu stopped mid-note. "Ah? You sure you don't want to wait around? You two kids should finish a good meal up, I saved plenty for you!" He laughed boisterously, then clapped Clark on the back. "Besides - you two've been spending a lot of time around each other recently. I'm fine getting the horses." He smiled, but it dimmed a little at Clark's expression - or lack thereof. He doesn't know. Well of course he doesn't! He shouldn't, either.

Pushing the little voice as far away from his consciousness as he could, Clark coughed. "... Yelu. If I'd said something to Mei Ling, something that was cruel, and arbitrary... Something that really hurt her, would you forgive me?" Yelu's face froze, eyes uncomprehending. "I... What? You're joking, right? Tsch, Clark- I'd never forgive you if you did something like that. But you couldn't. You're a little thick sometimes- but you aren't cruel. She likes you, hell, trusts you - that's more than can be said about most people she meets, and if you've earned that from her... Well, I don't think that makes you the sort of person who'd do something like that." He coughed awkwardly, very unsure of how to proceed. "It wouldn't matter what I'd say or do, anyhow - the person you'd need to ask for acceptance would be her." Shaking his head, he walked outside towards the makeshift stables located in a burned-out barn. "... Not funny at all. Why would he joke around like that?"

-

Their things were loaded up quickly by those remaining in Xin'an - although Clark had noticed again the strange lack of energy with which the city moved; not just a stress at the recent horrors they'd seen, or the drained energy of the trauma patient - but as if their very spirit had been broken. Unpleasant similarities began to tug at the back of his mind, and were thankfully interrupted by a small cough. A young boy had pulled himself towards the procession, his leg bearing the marks of several poultices and a recent attempt to set. His smile was bright as sunlight. "Hey, mister! The nice man says you're a hero!" Hai pointed excitedly at Mei Ling, who was staring purposelessly off into the distance. "When those monsters tried to eat my leg, he said you dove right in to find me a splint. He wouldn't stop talking about you!... It was weeiiiird." Hai made a face, then beamed again. "But that's all right. Strangers have the right to be... uhn.... strange. Like me! Now I can be a hero, too!" He tapped his leg with pride, and tried to run around, but began to fall - Clark jumped off to catch him, but was too unused to dismounting a horse.

Luckily, an over-worked woman with deep circles under her eyes -lack of sleep mixed with recent tears - juxtaposed herself between Hai and the ground with lightning speed, and the boy grinned sheepishly. "Sorry, mom. Guess I'm not quite a dragon just yet." Hai's mother smiled knowingly at the group. "Nope, not quite old enough to be a dragon, Hai. Thank you for saving my son, Oskisson. Hong Mei Ling told us all about how brave you were during the siege." She looked ready to say more, but stopped herself, content with a warm smile.

Yelu chortled and beamed right back at her. "Turns out that he has his good side, Clark. Glad we could help, madame. But, s'time for us to be off, and we most likely won't be back for some time. Keep aware, everyone. The British can't do anything now that the war is over, and the Tianmen Emperor has promised us that this will be an era of peace!" The warm feeling dimmed slightly at those words, with some anxiety creeping into the conversations around Xin'an - but it was mild, the normal sort of worry about the future. And with a cry, Yelu cast off. Hai and his mother waved exuberantly as Clark and Mei Ling followed behind him, but Clark could only stare at the road ahead - and occasionally look at the young woman who seemed focused only on the horse she rode and the ground it's hooves clattered against.

-

The spring weather was extremely mild as the trio made their way towards the capital. Yelu alternated between good cheer and increasing suspicion of his two traveling companions - but this seemed to be tempered by a desire not to interfere; or perhaps a fear of it. They began to pass clouds of smoke which Clark mistook for a British sabotage team.

1chap7.jpg

Probably just farmers burning off some steam, Yelu surmised.

Too lost in his thoughts to guess otherwise, they continued northward instead of following the coast and in so doing narrowly missed the sight of one of the largest anti-Manchu rallies in China - one which quickly turned into an anti-monarchical mob. The slaughter was so brutal that for days after leaving the confines of Wenzhou, the smell of corpsefires still hung in the air. It wasn't the only piece of bad news that slipped past their eyes until much later.

2chap7.jpg

Burma was forced into war following the detonation of several British schooners in British Bengal.

The journey was otherwise peaceful, however. And besides dreams, Clark might have been able to forget his mistakes and focus on what he'd wanted, what he'd always wanted. It is what I want, isn't it? Power, wealth, recognition would all be his once they reached Beijing.

At least
that's what
he told himself

-

Why are you back here? The melancholy voice seemed slightly happier to see him. He only assumed it saw him; after all, he could see nothing. But there was a safety in it's stillness, one that he valued. Part of him wanted to stay there forever. But the melancholy voice seemed to encircle him, concern in every word. You've done some things you regret. That's good, it shows you haven't been listening to 'Him' too much. But you should really worry less about the world thinks, and try to be yourself!...

Don't listen to me. I always get people in trouble. Geometry and the phases of the moon can only do so much. The voice faded away and this time Clark found himself floating up, through an archaic room encrusted with vines and symbols he could not read, a bizarre combination of so many languages they almost seemed to make sense but hung just out of his intelligibility. Looking up, he saw two pairs of eyes staring back at him from a hole in the roof, encircled by clouds. One was threatening and judgmental, the other unreadable. Instinct seemed to well up inside of him, and he extended his fingers towards the eyes which had become part of the cloudscape he was drifting through-


-

"Clark." Her voice was barely there. Unsure. As if it wasn't even certain it should presume to speak openly. "I- I've been thinking about the conversation we had." She fidgeted, and it cut like a knife to see her so uncharacteristically un-confident. He closed his eyes for a minute and thought about pretending to be asleep; but felt sickened by the idea the moment he had it, and sat up in his sleeping bag. "... I'm awake." She put her fingers to her lips. "You've got to let me say this. I realized I must have been too- I hadn't meant to-" Clark cut her off with a shake of his head. "Please, don't say anything more. Nothing I said made any sense; it wasn't, wasn't real. You're the bravest, most inspiring person I know, and for the last few days I've been anguishing about everything I- I am so, so sorry." Clark shut his eyes, this time to hold back tears. There was no response for some time, and Clark began to wonder if he wasn't still in a dream. "Please... Forgive me for what I've done."

Her response was quick this time. "No."

Clark felt time grind to a halt. See, isn't so easy is it? If you want to complete the image, you really should be down on your knees, begging for forgiveness. Not like you need it or that you'll get it from a bitch like her, but- The voice was cut off not by a hurried attempt to push it away, but by Mei Ling hugging him to her. "No," she whispered, almost inaudibly. "I can't forgive what you've done or said so easily. What you said is inexcusable, and you know that. But I can forgive you." With that, she slowly pulled away smiling bitterly.

"It's been absolutely terrible, feeling like I've lost one of the only people who understands me - or worse, worried that he's suddenly turned into something unrecognizable." Her grin lost it's edge, and she folded her hands behind her back. Then her expression hardened again. "Seriously, don't ever do that again. That mixture of fear, and terror, and pain - I've never felt like that before, and I won't feel it again." Confidence crept back into her voice and she laughed nervously. "Whew. Wasn't sure if I could say all that without it coming off wrong." Clark winked at her. "Are you kidding? It was great! Stupendous! I only wish that I could say things like you do - what I feel, instead of what I'm thinking."

He sprawled back onto the ground and she raised an eyebrow at him, plucking a strand of grass and perching it in her mouth. "Oh, is that so? I fail to see how I'm any different. We all make mistakes, Clark. I'm just glad we resolved ours... Uhmn, g'night." Clark waved furiously, causing Mei Ling to stop dead in her tracks. "No, no - you can go to sleep. I just wanted to say, once and for all - it wasn't 'our' mistake. It was me, plain and simple. And it won't. Happen. Again." He met her eyes and something about the seriousness in his voice made her giggle, even though they both knew it was no laughing matter. "... I'll hold you to your word, Clark Oskisson." Mei Ling's voice drifted into the night, and Clark drifted back into more pleasant dreams, feeling satisfied that his problems were over and gone...

-
4chap7.jpg

Treachery! Deceit! Inproper behavior!

The words lashed down upon his spine like a whip, the Mandarin verbally assaulting him in the crowded square of Jian; crowds had materialized from the woodwork to watch the spectacle. He couldn't catch any sight of Yelu or Mei Ling, but that could have been the kick to his shins sending him crashing to the more humbling sight of the stone-paved square. "Little maggot, get up on your feet and tell me again why you've been spreading these bald-faced lies about a naval invasion of Xin'an!" Clark coughed, and felt a tooth wiggling around unsteadily. Rising to his feet, he glared down at the Mandarin who returned it unphased.

5chap7.jpg

I never... Project commissioned by the Tianmen Emperor... Never finished.

It hurt to cough his words out, but Clark couldn't understand what had happened. Not only had the paper been commissioned by the state, it had never been finished and certainly never made reference to the horrors of Xin'an - although he certainly would have added them if he'd had the chance. For his part, the city official looked as shocked by this news as Clark felt. The uneasy silence was broken by shouting as Yelu swam through the crowd, a sack full of feed for the horses slung over his shoulder. "Kung Hsien? What seems to be the problem -" The sack nearly fell to the ground before Yelu caught it. "Well, don't worry. He's already got enough punishment been with me." Hsien laughed, and the tension evaporated - especially when Yelu passed a small sack full of a familiar glint towards the bureaucrat. "The Tianmen Emperor seems to believe this is a pretty good way to solve problems," Hsien mused, pocketing the taels. "And I am inclined to agree. The future of this country has never been brighter."

The crowd dispersed and through it, Mei Ling navigated back to where Yelu and Clark were talking excitedly. It had been a real pain to find a place that had enough dry goods for a long journey, but she didn't like having to rely on towns while traveling. She didn't see herself as particularly superstitious, but there was something in the air, and it never hurt to be cautious. Clark was shrugging his shoulders and looking very confused. More so than usual. She smiled inwardly at the thought, and bit back the next. Better than the alternative...

"You too all right? What happened?" Yelu cricked his neck - it was impossible not to notice that he was getting older, Mei Ling observed, pride tinged with concern. "Eh, Kung Hsien tried to accuse Clark of being a subversive. We're just lucky that you weren't here, haha!... It was strange, though. He never did finish that paper he was working on, did you, Clark?" Clark shrugged again. "Hell no! So unless there's a phantom printer around... Well, let's just chalk it up to strange coincidence and move on." They left Hsien to count his coins - and when they were gone more copies of the paper seemed to circulate as of their own will.

6chap7.jpg

The Emperor is a friend to those who would steal our land!
7chap7.jpg

He ignores the spread of the Foreign Devil, because he is a Foreign Devil!
The Manchu has lost the Mandate of Heaven!


-

He had built up for every moment of this. Days, months, years of longing - and finally, they were here! Clark could barely contain his excitement as they drew closer and closer, regularly talking his traveling companions to death. Yelu had become adept at 'falling asleep early', but would occasionally grin a sly grin and tell him more about the wonders they would see - of the Great Wall, Bell and Drum towers, of the Lugou Bridge ("You'll know it by the name of that one man... Ah, Marco Polo." Yelu had said with a chuckle) - and those they wouldn't, most specifically the Forbidden City. Mei Ling was excited as well, however - for the chance to split off and meet with other reformists. Yelu was obviously not in favor of this, but made no effort to stop her, and her excitement only grew.

But when they first caught sight of Beijing proper? Clark's broke. Indeed, he saw the centuries, millenia of cultural tradition - but he also saw crowded streets, pouring factories, and the poor; so many it was incredible. The exotic, fanciful image in his head drifted away, replaced with another image that he was desperately trying to forget. Mei Ling beamed at him and gestured towards the city while Yelu sighed contentedly. "It's not home... But there is part of me that feels like Beijing will always be just that. Welcome home, Clark. Clark?"

Unintentionally, he must have blanked out. "It's... It's something." Clark sounded distant, he knew, but Mei Ling was tugging his shoulder excitedly - and he let himself be led into the great city, oblivious to all it's splendor because the city in his mind was burning.

-

They'd left soon after, with Yelu promising to return soon; but he'd heard from a garrison that the New Model fleet would be arriving at port Tianjin in a week, and he desperately wanted to take 'a quick look at them.' Mei Ling had been fine with this - indeed, she'd been in a curiously good mood for some time now. It was only Clark who was casting a shadow over everything, although he was certainly trying to sound positive - and succeeded long enough to distract his companions until their arrival at their lodgings not too far from the port.

9chap7.jpg

But as they watched the ships sil in, it was painfully obvious that something was wrong.

Yelu spoke first, arms crossed against his chest. He was smiling in what he hoped was a reassuring manner as Clark sighed against the bay. "You're obviously not impressed. C'mon, they're obviously better than that schooner that carried you here, half-dead and with no place to go!" Clark laughed, and then his shoulders sagged. "It's actually stupid. I mean, really stupid." Yelu nodded. "That's all right. We're used to that. Try me." Mei Ling snrked at that, and Clark felt his pride take another hit - but found he didn't mind it so much.

"Honestly?... It reminds me a lot of home. When I was first here, I kind of expected that there'd be... Some magic pit of wealth, some weakness or thing I could exploit to regain my family's name and honor. Instead... It reminds me a lot of home." He waved his hands about before he could be interrupted. "Don't get me wrong - it's completely different! Much bigger, the architecture is beautiful, there's plenty of things I want to see - it's just..." Sighing, he threw a rock into the harbor. "People are poor everywhere. It's not just me trying to do this- it's everyone, isn't it?" Another rock splashed onto the once-serene surface. "... And even if I succeeded, it wouldn't have change anything, would it? Not really."

Then, Yelu smiled - a soft smile that Clark had never seen before on the old man's aged face. "I was hoping you'd kind of figure that out in a less disenchanting way, but... The way I see it, money and power don't solve too much. They can take away problems, but only by creating more of them." It was Yelu's turn to chuck a rock into the water - and Clark noted to some chagrin that the rock he chose was at least three times larger than the one he had thrown. "Don't beat yourself up, kid. For one, I'm glad to have you here, and proud of who you are. And I *know* that when you go home to your family, they're gonna be proud of you, too."

It was like the embrace of a child, still scared of the dark. Clark hadn't meant to hug Yelu so tightly, but it had either been that or crying - and he felt like he'd done enough of that for several people recently. Yelu seemed uneasy at first, but then smiled and embraced the young man back. After a few seconds, Clark motioned to Mei Ling, who was looking thoughtfully at the rocks lining their section of the harbor. She blinked, then shook her head with a smile. "No, it's good you get this out. I think it's been something you've been carrying with you for a long time." But regardless of how true this might be, Clark had prepared a witty retort just for the occasion. "Probably, but I don't want to have to think of an excuse to hug you." She laughed, and walked over to the two men. They embraced for a long time, before Clark realized that Yelu was holding back dry sobs.

"... Sorry. I just relived a strong memory." He dusted at his eyes with hands dry like parchment paper. Let's go get something to eat, shall we? I'm glad you learned something about yourself, Clark. I'm proud of you - and we've spent enough time throwing rocks into the harbor." They walked off, Mei Ling looking back longingly towards the stones. Excusing herself, she ran back, grabbed a rock and hucked it into the once again placid waters - it skipped several times, then dropped. Satisfied, she rejoined Yelu and Clark, who was watching with unabashed amusement. He opened his mouth, and she growled. "Not a word." The trio laughed and headed back as the dusk light began to fade into the solemnity of night.

-

12chap7.jpg

They hadn't made it far when the first gunshot went off.

The riot was over as quickly as it had begin; Mei Ling had barely taken her first leap into the fray before the mob scattered. She quickly analyzed the field of battle, and at first caught nothing - but the bland gray of their robes was easy to miss. Several Dai Li agents stepped out of the shadows, only one identifiable as an agent of the state. He nodded his head towards Yelu, then took in Clark and herself. She was glad to cut an unassuming figure when eyes like coal passed her over - but felt her lips twist into a snarl as those same eyes saw something they could use in Clark. The chief officer smiled at her.

"The Tianmen Emperor has been specifically requesting your presence. You will come with me." Yelu spat. "As far as I can tell, you aren't above me in the chain of command. Step aside." The two squared off for some time, before the officer shrugged. "Fair enough. I have no authority to coerce you or your son. You, however-" He gestured at Clark. "You want to see the Tianmen Emperor. I can see it written all over your face. So consider this an invitation - and remember, this country is changing, for the better. You can be a part of this change. We need you, Clark Oskisson. We await your reply." With a curt bow, the Dai Li vanished into the shadow they had came out of, and Clark was left with his thoughts. He felt Mei Ling's hand on his shoulder and sighed. The leaves had began to shake off the tree boughs as the wind picked up...

-

chap7innerpalace.jpg


Yixin had constantly left the Forbidden City. His brothers had taken more relaxed stances towards the world, but he, and only he, had remained practical. Ethnic conflicts and power struggles were bad enough, but most citizens either held the foreigners to be supernatural supermen, or devils that he regularly consorted with. The only way to force through change like that he envisioned was with unyielding resolve, and Western technology. Later, things could be returned to the status quo - a new, strengthened Qing that found it's power through trade and diplomacy, not knowledge or might. This accumulation of wealth pleased him, subtle as it was... and he had no desire to fight that witch of a queen, not now, when she was so obviously willing to be a friend... For the right price.

Of course, a few sacrifices had to be made to ensure that his goals were realized. He whispered into the darkness and heard the scrabbling of feet as messengers desperate to curry his favor darted into the night. A smile crept across his lips.
Sometimes, you just had to be direct. The Daoguang Emperor had just missed what the natural progression from tribute was...

chap7stinger.jpg

What a conveniently located dagger, indeed. If they call me the devil, then I will cage those devils, first.

-

Bonus stuff I wanted to include but couldn't:

11chap7.jpg

Finally. Mmn, delicious extraclergy.
10chap7.jpg

What. Prussia was actually losing a war with Austria at this time. Amazingly enough, they went on to battle Austria to a victory, and Russia to a white peace... By blockading them. Next they'll be sailing to Anglend or something.
8chap7.jpg

Another great Mongol event I can't use! What's going on over there?
-


Thought's so far -

For those p'oed by the time structure - this is the last update that'll have a very unclear structure. It actually ended time - wise at about 1847 for our cheery trio. It'll be explained next update. And what a cliffhanger, right? Sheesh!

Also - this chapter is dedicated to not being a jerkass. Clark is sometimes one, and that is nooooo good. However, it's also something that needs to be done storywise and hopefully you'll keep following patiently! Don't worry, I'm a sucker for good endings, promise this'll have one!... Maybe, hopefully!

Also - this February, it might be possible for me to visit my great-aunt in Hamburg. It'd be my first trip outside the U.S, not counting my true homeland of Canada; who knows, maybe I could even swing by and visit some forum-goers! (truth is, given how introverted I am, this is probably unlikely. Plus - still not sure how I'll be getting the funds to get there in the first place. It'd be cool to meet my diverse European relatives though. Actually, I'd be kind of tempted to stay, bwahaha!..) Either way, things are good. My only regret is that while playing the save, I accidentally didn't save my progress the first time I wrote this, and rewrote it when I replayed it. Sorry for the delay, but that's probably the best excuse I've had all this time. xD Also, it really bothers me when I do something like altf4 or f2/xkill a program and forget to quit. Really, what is my aversion to menus. I blame System Shock. Which is a great game! Also, I really like the idea of Mei Ling wearing handwraps at some point. But are they even used for anything besides modern boxing? Blargh.

Say, this has had very little to do with anything! /Rambling. Keep groovy, AARland.
 

Alexspeed

Art - Games - History
188 Badges
Sep 18, 2005
1.838
22
steamcommunity.com
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Galactic Assault
  • Gettysburg
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Impire
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Iron Cross
  • King Arthur II
  • Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition
  • Lead and Gold
  • Legio
  • Leviathan: Warships
  • The Kings Crusade
  • Lost Empire - Immortals
  • Empire of Sin
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Ancient Space
  • Hearts of Iron Anthology
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Cities in Motion
  • Cities in Motion 2
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • A Game of Dwarves
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Commander: Conquest of the Americas
  • Darkest Hour
  • Deus Vult
  • Diplomacy
  • Dungeonland
  • East India Company
  • East India Company Collection
  • Europa Universalis III
Epic Chapter, thank you for your updates, its a joy to read them, even if they take a good while to do so :D
Keep up the good work!

And i hope you have a safe trip to europe and back! :)
 

Enewald

Enewald Enewald Enewald
58 Badges
Oct 17, 2007
23.941
1.814
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Impire
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Iron Cross
  • Leviathan: Warships
  • The Kings Crusade
  • Magicka
  • Majesty 2 Collection
  • March of the Eagles
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Europa Universalis: Rome
  • Rome Gold
  • Semper Fi
  • Sengoku
  • Victoria 2
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Rome: Vae Victis
  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
  • 500k Club
  • Darkest Hour
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Cities in Motion
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Deus Vult
  • Dungeonland
  • East India Company Collection
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • The Showdown Effect
Yes, make former tributaries pay.
They should be vassal from the beginning methinks...
 

unmerged(75409)

Field Marshal
Apr 30, 2007
7.727
100
I like your story very much. But may I make a remark on the readability of your text?

It would be easier to read your dialogue, if you made a line break when someone starts talking. And a new line break when someone else talks. At times, it is difficult to read your dialogue, because you make line breaks at fairly arbitrary points, and within one paragraph there are several people talking. :)
 

Tommy4ever

Papa Bear
34 Badges
Sep 13, 2008
4.873
940
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Rome Gold
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Divine Wind
  • Diplomacy
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • 500k Club
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Victoria 2
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
This is an excellent AAR.

I've just finished reading all the way through and it is clear that you write very well. Your characters are interesting and the classic stranger in a strange land learning about a new society storyline is as effective here as it has ever been.

I'm also really enjoying the way you blend together stroy and gameplay. Truly marvelous.

On top of this your strange little rambles that you post at the ends of your chapters are pretty amusing. :p

Good show sir, good show.

Keep on writing!
 

Alexspeed

Art - Games - History
188 Badges
Sep 18, 2005
1.838
22
steamcommunity.com
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Galactic Assault
  • Gettysburg
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Impire
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Iron Cross
  • King Arthur II
  • Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition
  • Lead and Gold
  • Legio
  • Leviathan: Warships
  • The Kings Crusade
  • Lost Empire - Immortals
  • Empire of Sin
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Ancient Space
  • Hearts of Iron Anthology
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Cities in Motion
  • Cities in Motion 2
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • A Game of Dwarves
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Commander: Conquest of the Americas
  • Darkest Hour
  • Deus Vult
  • Diplomacy
  • Dungeonland
  • East India Company
  • East India Company Collection
  • Europa Universalis III
Indeed its a great AAR, we all hunger for updates :)
 

unmerged(219496)

First Lieutenant
4 Badges
Aug 13, 2010
252
0
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
Oh wow! Loads of awesome comments - and as usual, I'm terribly late, like a white rabbit that constantly misplaces his pocketwatch! xD

Alexspeed(1): Thanks a million! It feels pretty epic to write too - in the sense that it's both quite an effort, and like forging something out of pig iron and perspiration! :p I, uh, kind of failed to land a job I'd expected to, so I may have to hold back on the travel plans. xD

Enewald: Done and done! The earth was scorched, salted, and only Munmyo shrine ws spared! Notice that I suck at writing war scenes however, so that will not be appearing in this aar. Use your imagination, pretend I wrote some awesome battles! :p

Leviathan: Thank you so much - and that's such an excellent (really, I'm not sure why I didn't think of it earlier - my bad!) suggestion i'll probably go back and edit the chapters into a more readable format - not right now, due to sleepiness and business - but if it can make it easier to read, it'd be my pleasure. :)

Tommy4ever: :eek:o I kind of idolize Let the ruling classes tremble, constantly regretting my inability to post with it due to the quickness and fluidity with which it updates/is bumped, and hearing such kind words from you means a lot to me - also, that someone reads the little end-type blurbs. xD They're very indicitive of the way my mind works (or doesn't work, as the case may be!). Again, thank you, and I'm very glad you're enjoying Letters.

Scholar: Much obliged! I hope you continue to enjoy it as I enjoy writing it. :)

Alexspeed(2): Your wish, my command. ;) Plus, I've got a special challenge motivator to see if I won't have a better update schedule, heheh! :D

But for now, posting, linking of said post, some commenting- and sweet, sweet, sleep. :)
 

unmerged(219496)

First Lieutenant
4 Badges
Aug 13, 2010
252
0
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Divine Wind
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
Duality Beijing 50 Beijing 55 {1850-55}

Mother,

From today on, everything will be different.


His letter sat unfinished in the luxurious room the Daoguang Emperor had afforded him. Although the latest Western suits had been offered to him, Clark had turned them down in favor of the modernized service garb that Yixin - no, the Tianmen Emperor - had begin to press into service; it combined the grandeur of the Qing Empire with the practicality of a suit. He felt it properly advertised the mixture of Qing tradition he had picked up, perhaps perfected and Western business acumen that he and the other 'gentleman professionals' were to bring to this great state.

The meeting with the Tianmen Emperor had been incredible, eye-opening. Although Mei Ling had been silent the entire time their procession trudged towards the Outer Courtyard - an area which, until recently had been off limits to all, now used as a meeting ground for what Clark considered the greatest minds in China - and Yelu had been desperately trying to remain neutral, the exuberance of the first voice Clark had affectionately begin to think of as the Spirit of Industry in honor of it's tenacity was practically whistling through him. He had known things would turn out well, and here was the proof he needed - he was now more than just a stupid fop from a declining town, or the men in the streets of Beijing. He had become something else, something new.

Mei Ling hadn't talked to him since the meeting. The moods of women, he thought - and stopped briefly to wonder why it was the first thing that came into his head. Looking back at the letter, he realized how much of a loss he had been at how to finish it. Leave it. You'll find the time to finish it later. And as if to compliment the soothingly sweet voice's appeals, the door opened and in stepped a servant, eyes downcast and voice trying desperately to speak English. Clark waved him off with an imperious wave of his hand - he already knew what was going on. This was what he was born to do, destined to do. It was time to discuss greater things.

-

Konrad Ludwig sat anxiously around large table. He did not know anyone in this room. He had been invited to speak on theories of commerce, but the numbers and statistics he took comfort in seemed to be drifting out of his mind like cut grass drifting down a stream. In addition, there was a man in the most outlandish costume sitting around as if he owned the place, legs stretched against the table as he smoked from a thin cherrywood pipe, then began to cough heavily, clearly not used to the action. This strange man immediately became rigid and attentive as the state agents who had guided Konrad and the others here proceeded into the room, followed by the Tianmen Emperor himself, dressed in a suit of obviously Western bent. The Emperors eyes were bright and inquisitive as he gauged the value of every man in the room; and seemingly pleased with his internal calculations, he began to speak; an old woman dressed in loose, flowing robes translated. Konrad had heard that the Emperor was a master of languages, but decided it must have been hearsay.

"Those of you brought here are valuable friends of the Qing State. You have been vetted for service to the nation, and since you have agreed, are bound to stay here and serve the Tianmen Emperor as you would serve your own country. The stakes in play are of the utmost importance, and therefore your trust and cooperation will be expected to be of the highest level." The translator shot a steely gaze around the assembled businessmen, who quieted the murmur that had rose up. Konrad fidgeted in his seat, feeling a cold sweat form upon his brow. "And of course - you are expected to keep state secrets. The first of which is re-assertion of tributary status in Chosun."

1chap8.jpg

Clearly, we have fallen in the eyes of the world, and have been forgotten by our friends. And lost friends are no friends at all.

"You will all leave with your assigned observers to begin the tasks you have been hired for. Provincial officials and resources will be at your disposal, and results will be expected in a matter of months, not years. Do not disappoint the Emperor." The Emperor stared past them - Konrad unnervingly felt a more accurate word would be through them - and most of the assembled foreigners were shepherded off. Konrad couldn't help notice that the man he had pegged as being strange continued to sit at the table, and was not heralded out. Then, he too was accompanied to the door by two Dai Li agents. As he was ushered out of the Outer Courtyard, he could make out an elder Bannerman lounging against one of the walls, and a young man pacing back and forth angrily, kicking at the rocks as if they insulted him.
Then, he was off to go teach at Shaanxi Economic College. His new life had begun.

-

An army official rose up; unlike the Banner Representatives that Konrad head read about in books about the Qing, this man looked more than anything like a modern staff-sergeant in a crisp olive uniform. Wan Gang gestured to a map that had been unfurled; unlike the refined and ancient splendor of the room they were in, the map was new, the first mass-produced map from an experimental publishing industry. He gestured to the Korean peninsula, and Clark leaned forward animatedly.
2chap8.jpg

3chap8.jpg

Our armies cut through the fledgling Korean forces, but we must not lose focus. We are not so much stronger, yet.

Wan Gang was not entirely comfortable with the foreigners still in the room, and one in particular seemed too absorbed in the military discussion. Although obviously possessing no knowledge of tactics or warfare, he made constant comments about the efficiency of Qing troops and plans for upcoming battles. Amazingly, the Tianmen Emperor did nothing to quiet this nuisance; it was if the two were old friends. Nevertheless, Wan Gang was nothing if not pragmatic and humored any question the young man asked as the meeting droned on, and more and more people left the meeting room...


Clark was the last non-courtier to leave. He had been compelled, as if in a trance, drinking up the intoxicating process of state until he had drank his fill. But before he could leave, the Tianmen Emperor had beckoned him over. "Do you remember the conversation we had when I asked you to assist me?" The Emperor's English accent suited his foreign education perfectly, Clark thought. And he, perhaps more than anyone, could appreciate the pains taken to keep up appearances and hide one's true nature. "Yes. I have learned much in my time here, and I promise - the experience from my travels will make the Qing great once again." Saying nothing more, the Emperor smiled and left for the Inner Courtyard with his procession, certain in his choice - and Clark, assured of his own importance, left for the Palace grounds.

-

"So, how was it? How do you like being the lapdog of the Emperor?" Mei Ling spat the words out like bullets, but Clark deflected them with a satisfied smirk. "Wonderful. Better than I've felt in a long time. There were mistakes I've made in the past, which need to be fixed; and it's finally in my power to fix them. And you should be overjoyed!" Clark scooped a rock from the ground and tossed it into the air. "This is the chance for China to become something great, leaving behind the stifling decay I've witnessed and cut it's own path in the world. The poverty and backwardsness I've witnessed can be cured, and people will be happier-" Mei Ling stepped towards him, teeth clenched.

"Do you even hear yourself? How is becoming just like the West going to fix the problems that I'm concerned with, that all of China is concerned with? You've talked about your home often, and how tragic your past must be." Growling, she took a step back and kicked another rock out of the way. "It sounds to me like the same things you're trying to run away from happened to be here too - and you're still chasing some sort of dream that doesn't exist. Except, instead of accepting that, and trying to do something about it, you have to turn the places you run into copies of the things you're running away from! What the hell is with that?!" She hadn't meant to yell that loud, but she must have startled some of the courtyard birds, as the sound of wings flapped into the distance.

Mei Ling looked from Clark, whose jaw was agape and his eyes blank, to Yelu, who refused to stare at either of them. Don't cry, damn it. You are not going to cry, not know. "Say something! Either of you, just say something!" But neither said anything for the longest time, and Mei Ling felt like the silence was going to strangle her. Finally, fists clenched so tight she could feel the nails digging into her flesh, she turned away, hair covering her eyes. "Well, if that's how it's going to be, I guess this is where we part ways. Follow your dreams, Clark. For what it was worth - traveling with you meant a lot to me. I hope that you bring success to the Emperor." She turned around, smiling so painfully Clark wanted to do something, anything to turn it into something real. But you won't. She betrayed you, after all.

Then, she was gone. Clark resisted the urge to fall to his knees, breathing heavily; he could still taste the sting of tobacco upon his lips. He whirled to face Yelu, whose brittle face was completely void of expression. "Why didn't you say anything?" Clark felt the spittle flying out of his mouth as he hurled angry words towards Yelu. And when Yelu finally spoke, Clark wished he hadn't. The old man's voice was cracked with emotion. "I can't. I promised my life to the Emperor, Clark - my role here was set a long time before you arrived. She knew that, and so did you, I thought. But you both made your choices... And we have work to do." Faint tears flowed like a river across his leathery face, almost invisible against where so many had been shed. Grasping him by the back, the two walked back towards the Outer Courtyard, a single piece of paper having drifted out of Clark's pocket.

From today on, everything will be different.

-

November 17th, 1847.

-

Waiting at back of the line for the soup vendor to finish serving his customers, Mei Ling could feel her breath crystallizing in the early winter air. It had been several years since that day. Hell, eight days ago was probably some kind of anniversary. Things had been changing rapidly; the first had been the further decrease of tensions between British and Chinese merchants due to the legalization of small amounts of Opium in controlled jurisdiction; as far she could tell, it had primarily served to enrich the court, while spreading the drug among the populace. The second was change. Everyone could see it, even taste it in the air; a taste of metal and violence, power and decay. While others hoped for the future, she remained on guard - as always, Mei Ling.

Taking a bowl of the cabbage soup that a cheap vendor like this offered, she sat down to read the paper she had bought, and immediately bit back a harsh laugh as she saw the title page, text leaping out in several languages - Manchurian, Chinese, Russian, English - and newly added, Korean.

4chap8.jpg

Han terrorists seize weapons shipments during war, a treacherous stab in the back!

Glad to see that the news is as objective as ever. She took a sip from the bowl, watching the steam drift into the air as the conversation around the new Fuzhou Naval Yard echoed around her. Snippets of conversation filtered into her ears - concerns about the increasing yields of the harvest meaning crops sold for less, of Korean sympathizers lurking behind every corner, and of the projects shaking all four corners of Qing society. Of course, not all the news was bad; the recent discovery of gold in Utchan had made the tael even stronger.

5chap8.jpg

Qing currency had become tied to gold, like the British pound sterling.

She sighed, and watched the placid water as a cold rain begin to fall - and was thankful the open-air stalls were under a closed-air roof. This was it, there was no going back. She waited for the Prosperity to pull into harbor, it's wooden sidings aching under great stress and disrepair, as a porter read off the passenger list and a swarm of passengers begun to unload, mostly wealthy businessmen, most wearing very Western dress. She stood when her name was called, eyes focused. "Hong Mei Ling, boarding for Japan!" And with no further deliberation, she stepped on board as the Prosperity filled up - knowing in her heart that there was no longer any hope in changing Chinese society through small-scale agitation and the confiscation of weapons. After all, she thought bitterly. Hong Xiuquan is a respected official now. If it takes a hurricane to awaken China, then I shall make a hurricane. And with these thoughts, she watched the harbor begin to fade out of her field of vision, disappearing over the gray waves.

-

7chap8.jpg

Their divisions had lost the will to live.

But that hardly mattered to Yelu as his Banner - no, his unit - cut through the underfed peasantry in the blink of an eye. The new unit structure was stifling- and instead of being a place where he knew the soldiers and was welcome, the new army had become a place of stillness and mechanical death-dealing - at least when examined as a whole. In the regiments themselves, he often saw soldiers barely old enough to hold carry the heavy supplies they had been loaded down with lower their new rifled muskets and let the Koreans retreat into the fields.

Yelu was not so sparing. It would be a lie to say that he had gotten used to it; he firmly believed that anyone who said they had was lying. But he saw the tiredness and the fear in the eyes of the new recruits, and the mass hysteria that fired up whenever a Western embassy shared it's information with the Chosun court in exchange for favors. The Chinese people were growing tired and disillusioned with the war, and would quickly turn against it unless it drew to a conclusion soon. So, like a good soldier, he urged his comrades on in what felt like an endless march to Seoul.
8chap8.jpg

He'd heard about Mongol nomads, angry at Chinese farmers, blowing up a ranch.

It was something he could relate to. Life had been so much simpler not too long ago - when, with no real military need or threat besides the constant fear of the British, the Banners remained more a cultural institution than a military force, and an old man could travel with his friends while he practiced the only music he knew, and waited. Of course, if he'd been there, it would have been his duty to do something about it - but he'd been glad to be in the Korean front, for once, and even more glad to hear that in the interest of furthering relations with the Mongols, the Tianmen Emperor or one of his many advisers had ordered a full investigation.

Even as Qing forces moved through houses with shut-off windows and Korean farmers watching with hostile, terrified eyes, there were things to be hopeful about. The good changes, the ones that had actually reached people - he kept on thinking about them as every step into the sweat-soaked earth brought him closer to Seoul. When his unit reached Kaesong, he could grab a paper - and because of the importance of the written word, it was even guaranteed to be free of censorship.

9chap8.jpg

Then what is it when money, and those who have it, have exclusive rights to the news?

At first, he thought it was just his thoughts shaking him - but soon, he realized that he had been asleep. A young man, the faintest hint of a moustache lining his face, was shaking his arms excitedly. "We've made it to Seoul. The Koreans have surrendered."

10chap8.jpg

There is no land left for them to retreat to.

Naval landings in Cheju and Changwon cut off the heart of the Korean forces." Yelu paused for a long time, shaking the dust and sleep from his eyes and trying to remember how he had gotten here. "So... Here we are." He finally managed, and began to walk through the burnt-out husks of Seoul.

seoul.jpg

Farms and fields began to give way to paved roads and workshops.

But as always, it was the poorest that had taken the brunt of the damage. How had so many families been torn apart so quickly? He tried to remember riding through town, the roar of musket fire as volleys exploded into the night air - but all he could recollect was the smell of cinders around him, and the lost, hopeless gaze reflecting endlessly in the eyes of those around him. It didn't matter if someone wore the uniform of a Qing soldier or the traditional clothes of the Chosun citizenry; the expression was as inescapable as it was heartbreaking - and he was not sure how to deal with it, or the feeling of lonelinesss within himself. Walking back to the horse he had confiscated so long ago from a British stable, he looked it straight in the eye and managed a crooked smile.

"Looking a little long in the tooth, old friend. We're more similar than I thought, hahaha!" Searching through the saddlebags for something familiar, his fingers felt the crispness of something press against them. He withdrew a letter, one he had written a lifetime ago. Smiling to himself, he sat down in the ashes, and begin to write another.


Mei Ling,

It's been a long time, little red. Even I don't know where you are right now - but it's enough to know that you are alive and well, things I can't begin to doubt for a second. You've probably heard about the annexation of Chosun - and I am sure to imagine that you do not approve for a second of it. It is not easy to write, but I myself am unsure of what to think. Often, I try to comfort myself by not thinking about anything, hah!



That had been meant as a joke, but he bit back a sudden pain in his heart as he wrote it. Nevertheless, his fingers itched for the letter to be finished, so he could send it along it's way - even if it could not find her, either.



When last I was in Beijing, Clark and I spoke of you endlessly. He is doing well, is in his element. I had meant for him to find his place and return home; he seemed so fond of it in his letters and notebook. But perhaps I misjudged him when first we met; he had taken quite a beating from you, if I recall! Hah, but he assures me that he's building an Empire that will make you proud. That's a word he likes to throw around a lot, along with constant assurances that things will be better. You know, it's funny - I don't actually know what he does for the Emperor, even still. What I do know is that even as I get older and older, he looks pretty much the same, ahahaha!

Not being able to talk to you means that all the ideas I have remain locked up in my head, Mei Ling. I pray that you've found your path, so that when you do, you can come back and see me again soon, and we can talk about many things. But it is not my place to tell you what you should do - even if I do miss you terribly. You will always be my granddaughter, in spirit if nothing else. Stay strong, little red.

Yelu



He wasn't sure how if it was a good enough letter for her- but it didn't matter. He began to pace through the streets, eyes jumping from soldier to soldier, completely ignoring the citizenry around him. He finally settled on one, a man almost his own age who had a patch surreptitiously sewn into his military jacket. The character was one that normally would've been reserved for the Emperor's courtiers, and displayed proudly. So alone like this- "You." Yelu grunted, gesturing towards the soldier, who had been sitting off on his own, staring into the sky as if challenging it to rain. "You're a revolutionary. I don't care about that, at all. But listen - I need to send a message to someone, and I was wondering if you might know where to find them..."

-

This time, the dream was different. It was so real he could swear that he was awake, except for the lingering feeling that he was not in his own body. He flowed along the streets of Beijing like a wraith, before running through the vast steppes and plains to the west at superhuman speed, watching terrain flow and dissipate around him. His feet dashed against the water of the far western coast and tripped against it, sending him face first into the cold dark; but he swam threw it, or perhaps floated past it. He did not know.

He did know that the palace he was in was made of dark marble. He did not recognize it; it was not how the place looked in his mind, and he didn't understand why it appeared so different in his dreams. But he could make out the voice of the young Empress, Queen of her people and domain talking to herself as she looked at him. Her eyes tore through his soul, and he knew she could see him, even as he himself wondered why he was there.
"The events are unfolding so rapidly precisely because you have orchestrated them so well, old friend. I had not expected things to fall into our hands so easily. Of course, the deal we made is sacresanct, and I do not expect for a moment you to honor it to your word; but as long we know that we must both be at odds in the battles to come, then our alliance shall be stalwart indeed. Is that not right... Demiurge?"

He had been wrong. She was not staring at him, but a point directly past him, one that was invisible to his eyes, even in this state. He spun around on his feet -

only to catch the sensation of something ripping through him composed entirely of hate and pain and rage it lashed out at his right to exist and begin to dismantle him piece by piece, laying each separate part of his body against the cold marble floor, and then he could not distinguish dream from reality any longer.


Clark screamed, temple soaked with sweat. He slowly pressed his fingers to his chest, only withdrawing them after he felt the comforting beat of his pulse. More time wasted on sleep and dreams, and you have work to do. It wasn't an idle thought, either. Recently the Tianmen Emperor had received word that the Koreans were ready to bring an end to this conflict.

12chap8.jpg

They had always been ready for peace, however - what this really meant was an acquisition to Qing demands.

He got dressed and opened the window shielding the environment from his room - torrents of moonlight flooded in. Clark smiled awkwardly to himself. It was still night, yet another one that he had not slept through. It didn't matter. As he was the only one liable to be awake at this hour, he would wait and see what thoughts came to him - but none did, and he found himself staring up into the sky for hours on end - same as every night so far. The wealth and splendor of the Court life usually distracted him from the sense of ennui, but he could not keep it away tonight. The moon was too honest for his tastes.

So, with a sigh, he took pen and paper and began to write.



Mother,

Shipped with or soon after this letter, a procession of gifts and hard-earned rewards shall be flowing to the Osskisson household. There will be the usual far-off and exotic trinkets I have been sending, and of course the latest in Qing fashion for yourself and Ariabella. Such wealth and splendor should - there should be-



Uh-oh. Seems like you're having trouble being happy, even with a wealth of material things. He hadn't recalled hearing from this voice in sometime, but even as a figment of his imagination, it was a welcome reprieve from the writing of letters. Truthfully, voice. He thought to himself, a part of him wondering if this was something that most people did, or perhaps some sign of his insomnia delving deeper into the realms of the unreal. I am happy as can be; this is precisely what I wanted, and it is just that I am so unspeakably happy, it is hard to vocalize my feelings in such a way that my family will understand. He could feel the mournful sigh echo throughout his head. Well, if you're so happy - then why is it important for your family to understand? They sound like they love you, and you love them - so being happy should be good enough. You shouldn't have to demonstrate anything with a procession of incense and myrrh.

Clark began to pace back and forth, scowling. That was quite uncalled for! I've worked hard to get this far, and they'll be even more grateful to me once they've been able to see how much they mean to me! The voice lost it's mournful edge, and instead cut into his psyche like a knife. It's obvious right now that you're barely thinking of anything else than a wounded pride you're trying to fix by hiding behind the crutch of your family and their history. What's really going on here? You can talk to me. Right now, in the moonlight, we're alone - and I'll listen if you want to talk. The words had a soothing quality to them, and for a minute, Clark felt at peace - but he could not bring himself to answer the question the voice had posed to him, and collapsed back onto his bed, staring into the ceiling as he waited for sleep to find him.

-

Yelu had been expecting parades as the bedraggled regiment had rode into town; not to be breaking up a mob as explosions rocked the harbor. "Down with the Manchu! A new Han state! No trade with the British, no opium in our ports!" The first ship had completely collapsed due to the explosions, it's crew bailing frantically into the water. It wasn't like they'd be killed by the explosions, Yelu thought - but the frigid water alone was likely to drag some to it's icy depths.

chinawar.jpg

The crowd dispersed rapidly with the presence of the armed forces.

It hadn't hurt that he'd seen Qing agents skulking around in the shadows. The Emperor had managed to turn the Dai Li into honed agents indeed, ones who were more than capable of sending townspeople who had become tired of the Reform Clique and their promises of low taxes and free trade bringing technology and modernization; they hadn't been hit as hard as the rural poor, but it was stretching from the frontiers of China to Hubei; word had it that in Anlu, there had even been a full-on riot that the Qing had been powerless to stop.

13chap8.jpg

And one that he viewed as likely to keep spreading.

"So long as this state of imbalance exists, there's going to be problems - eh, Chang Bao?" The man with the ragged dragon patch offered an equally haggard smile. "Yessir. That's why there needs to be a new order created as soon as possible." Yelu gave an exaggerated sigh, and let his horse cantor alongside the aged recruit. "See, I was fine with the old order. I can't understand you -er, youngish, in your case - people, and such a rapid need for change. When I was your age, I was fairly content with things as they are, and I probably will be tomorrow!" He laughed raucously. "About that thing I asked... Thank you for tracking down Mei Ling. I know she'll want to hear all about everything that's happened."

Bao's expression grew concerned. "It's about that, Yelu. She hasn't been in China for at least three years now." Yelu could feel his heart freeze in his chest. He opened his mouth to speak, but Bao cut him off. "She left on a passenger ship after talking to several members of our group, and deciding that things weren't going to change fast enough with harsh talk and half-hearted attempts at revolt. She left for the Eastern Ocean."

-

Thoughts so far -

Finally, a Mongolian event I can use! For those wondering, I don't know the proper way to refer to Japan besides in multiple rather pejorative contexts in Chinese. I've already used Wo earlier, but if anyone can tell me how it would referred to properly, that'd be swell. You know, going separate ways is never a good idea, in RPGs, in horror and western flicks, and in real life - so if this ever happens to you, remember to do something. Trust me, it's always a good idea, even if it seems silly at the time. Happy late Veterans/Armistance/Normal day!

As an aside, it's been very stormy over here, and because I live fairly far away from most of my friends - well, very far away - I'll often find my calls failing, even in better weather. Sending an old-fashioned letter or parcel (or even both) can really make friends and family smile, and I highly recommend it if you have any friends or family who live many miles/kilometers away. And if you don't - it never hurts to make a new pen pal. I don't know why this occurs to me tonight of all things; perhaps it's the wind outside, perhaps it's the fact this AAR is semi-Letter-centric, or perhaps it's just the Ramblings of an Unquiet Mind. If there's a (spiritual) sequel, it's definitely going to be called that.
 
Last edited:

Alexspeed

Art - Games - History
188 Badges
Sep 18, 2005
1.838
22
steamcommunity.com
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • For The Glory
  • For the Motherland
  • Galactic Assault
  • Gettysburg
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Impire
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Iron Cross
  • King Arthur II
  • Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition
  • Lead and Gold
  • Legio
  • Leviathan: Warships
  • The Kings Crusade
  • Lost Empire - Immortals
  • Empire of Sin
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Ancient Space
  • Hearts of Iron Anthology
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Hearts of Iron II: Armageddon
  • Cities in Motion
  • Cities in Motion 2
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • A Game of Dwarves
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Commander: Conquest of the Americas
  • Darkest Hour
  • Deus Vult
  • Diplomacy
  • Dungeonland
  • East India Company
  • East India Company Collection
  • Europa Universalis III
Leviathan: Thank you so much - and that's such an excellent (really, I'm not sure why I didn't think of it earlier - my bad!) suggestion i'll probably go back and edit the chapters into a more readable format - not right now, due to sleepiness and business - but if it can make it easier to read, it'd be my pleasure. :)

Chapter edits for line breaks herby granted :)

---------

Thank you for another long Chapter!

I havent read it jet, and i am too tired to do it now,
but i will comment again on it when i had the chance to read it. :)