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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

vyshan

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A New Appointment
On the track to Handan - January 1936

A young man in what had to be his late twenties watched the window of the train cabin as the scenery went a passing by. The man was dressed well, not expensive but well. His hair cut short as was the new fashion throughout China. Though the man served the Imperial government, the fashion of the day was short hair as in the western style not the queue. Rounding out appearance was well round glasses.

However, Ren Jiyu was not the only person in his compartment. On the other bench were two women. One was roughly the age of the minister, while the second was much younger and could not be any older than seven years old. One would likely guess that they were mother and daughter. Both had fallen asleep on the train ride with the young girl’s head on the shoulder of the older woman.

Jiyu would eventually turn his attention away from the window and then to the newspaper next to him. Though he would read the paper his mind would wander back to the last words of his superior within the government before he departed for Handan. “Do Not trust Shigong.”

In Handan, Shigong could only mean one person Jiang Shigong, the governor of the city. The minister, did not know what sort of many Shigong could be but words to listen to. At best, he was likely just a corrupt governor that had existed throughout the world and throughout history. Though the Minister likely guessed that was not the case. A corrupt governor would not require a warning in advance. He had little desire to find out what sort of man Shigong could be.

Yet for all that danger Ren jiyu had believed it wise to bring his wife and daughter with him to Handan. He could have left them in Beijing. He had allies within the Imperial Bureaucracy. Yet for all the danger that Handan presented, Beijing was far worse. Handan was a kitty’s playpen to the dangers within the imperial capital. It helped that his wife’s family had some relatives in Handan to make things easier. Still danger was going to be all around them.

Soon the whistle from the train alerted the passengers that they had arrived in the city of Handan. Out stepped the Minister and his wife and daughter and to his new appointment they looked to. The appointment within the lair of the tiger.



Hello and welcome to The Azure Dragon Soars Again a narrative AAR in Kaiserreich. This AAR will focus on the Qing Empire in Kaiserreich with the new China Update. Now this AAR will be a narrative one and it won’t feature much if any gameplay at all. Instead it will follow roughly four main PoV characters and the various events, foci, decisions, battles and more will be seen through there eyes and their reactions to what is going on in China.

Here are the four main characters and a brief description about them:
  • Ren Jiyu - A bureaucratic Minister. Strong believer in confucian values, and likewise despises the corruption that is commonplace in the Government. He is a member of the New Chinese Empire Reform Association(NCERA).
  • Cao Fei: The ambitious wife of Zhang Yi, a rising member of Young China Party(YCP). She is working with her husband to help him rise up the ranks both in the party and help YCP within Chinese politics.
  • Jayajala Muten: A scion from a Manchu noble family who has recently became an Officer in the Qing Army. He is aligned with the Zongshe or Manchu Party. He strongly believes that it is his duty to bring honor to his Clan for the things that have happened.
  • Chen Zhen: A village militia leader from a small fishing village along the Yellow River. Unlike the others he is not affiliated with the greater politics of the Qing empire as he cares more about protecting his village from bandits. However, due to the political climate in China those politics will have an impact on his village.
Table of Contents
Book 1
Chapter 0 - Election Day
Chapter 1 - The Vow
Chapter 2 - The New Year
Chapter 3 - The Tiger of Handan
Chapter 4 - The railroad sale
Chapter 5 - National State of Readiness
Chapter 6 - Refugees
Chapter 7 - Blood on the Yangtze
Chapter 8 - Conspiracy and Chaos
Chapter 9 - Wu must go
Chapter 10 - The Convert
Chapter 11 - The Final Meeting
Chapter 12 - The Battle of Jianzhou
Chapter 13 - Protecting the Emperor
Chapter 14 - Liberating Handan

Book 2
Chapter 15 - Victory and Plans
Chapter 16 - Going to Sichuan
Chapter 17 - Reports and Tea
Chapter 18 - In 36 we joined the Army on Expedition
Chapter 19 - Food Riots
Chapter 20 - The Battle for Luoyang
Chapter 21 - The Japanese Envoy
Chapter 22 - The Bank and Tea
 
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Nikolai

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Wonderful, looking forward to reading this!
 

TreizeV

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Always a fan of narratives! Especially in KR

You son of a bitch, I'm in :cool:
 
Chapter 0 - Election Day

vyshan

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Chapter 0 - Election Day

[Cao Fei and Zhang Yi]

The city of Hengshui had been busy for the past month and a half, and none more than Cao Fei and Zhang Yi. Two months ago Bai Fan had died leading a vacancy for the National Assembly. No one was surprised that the man had died considering his age. For the young couple though the death allowed them a shot at entering the National Assembly.

This though was not without its own difficulties and risks. Ever since 1927 the National assembly was in the control of the Zhili clique. Sure they called themselves the Harmony Association to put behind their warlord days and actually govern China. That did not change the fact that they were a pack of warlords. The National Assembly was their puppet and the opposition parties were a fig leaf and compromise. This added to the difficulty for Zhang Yi, for he was running as part of the Young China Party.

Thankfully his opponent, Yu Bo, was rather over confident. Most representatives hardly actually campaigned. Elections in China were not an honest affair and everyone knew it. The vast majority of the representatives came from the Zhili clique who had control over most of the government of China. Yet here Zhang Yi and the Young China Party spied the perfect opportunity and they struck. Perfect opportunity it might be that did not mean it was going to be easy. For Yi the person he relied on more than anyone else was his beloved wife and trusted confident.

While women could not run for office nor could they vote, what they could do was influence politics and handle administrative duties. It was these duties that kept Cao Fei busy. It was on her shoulders that Zhang Yi would be elected, that she was sure of. So the past month and a half had her run all sorts of political campaigning activities. It was her that met with wives to encourage their husbands, it was her that organized rallies for Yi. Savory and Unsavory, what mattered was that Zhang Yi won.

Vote Early Vote often
As the day of the election drew closer Cao Fei was meeting two other people, Hao Lei and Guo Da. Hao Lei was a younger woman in her early to mid twenties, keeping her hair short as was the fashion for modern young women. Meanwhile Guo Da was a tall and muscular man with a prominent scar on his left cheek. They had met Cao Fei at her parlor. The table between them had several small cups of Jasmine tea with a teapot in the center.

“I assume that the money for the counters has been properly delivered?” Cao Fei asked, looking towards Guo Da.

“You assume correctly.” He stated before taking another sip of his tea.

“Wonderful. Hao Lei, you made sure that lists have enough different people.” Cao Fei asked, referring to the list of people who were hospitalized, dead, fictional, or out of the city.

“Of course. The coin you provided did help. Though, Madame Cao Fei, I am curious what the why money is needed for the counters? Aren’t they all in the pocket of the Zhili already?” Hao Lei asked in return.

“That would be so. But the unexpected death of Bai Fan has given us an opening that we can exploit. Remember the first rule of politics, Lei, ballots don't make the results, the counters do. So we need them on our side.” Cao Fei said before taking another sip of her tea.

“I see.” Lei said and then took a sip of her own tea.

“You think we will have enough people voting for your husband?” Hao Lei asked.

“Yes, we have budgeted for that. Besides, I am sure that Guo Da will be able to help ensure that voters are sufficiently motivated to vote for my husband.” Cao Fei stated.

“Absolutely madam. “ Guo stated.

Later on that evening, Cao Fei was there when her husband was delivering a speech at the city’s teahouse. She was standing next to her husband. Zhang Yi was dressed fashionably, clean shaven except for a small mustache.

“China is a great and mighty nation but foreign devils have kept her weak for too long. Too many unequal treaties have made us weak. They made these treaties because they know when China is strong the world shall tremble before us.

The Young China Party stands for modernization and a strong united China. The traitorous devil in Manchuria will be dealt with. The so called Mad Baron in Manchuria will be dealt with. The enemies of China that keep us from having peace and prosperity shall be dealt with. When I am in the Assembly I will not consent to another unequal treaty. I will stand with the people of Hengshui who say No!

A strong and United China is achieved by having a strong economy. A strong and modern economy. A modern Economy for a Modern China! And what a modern economy means is making sure that cities like our beloved city of Hengshui has an aeroport. So when you go out to vote, remember Zhang Yi and the Young China Party. Zhang Yi and the Young China Party.” Zhang Yi said ending his speech to the crowd of people that had gathered to hear him speak. The people who attended the speech, clapped in applause. A number of men would approach Zhang Yi to congratulate him on a fine speech and promise that they would vote for him.

Cao Fei though gave a gesture to her children who helped to pass out pamphlets to the people that had come to hear Zhang Yi speak. While most would vote for him, it was good to give them something to remind them as to why.

The Announcement
As the day drew to a close the Zhang Yi campaign stood in the town hall awaiting the news of the counting. Everyone waited with bated breath as to who would win the election. Cao Fei knew both sides had spent money on bribes to insure that they had the advantage, she only hoped that the money they spent was well spent.

Finally after midnight, one of the official election counter came out to announce the results of the victory. Cao Fei did not know who the man was but she only hoped he was supportive of the Young China Party or at least their money.

“With 90% of the precincts reporting in, Zhang Yi has won the election with 800 more votes than Yu Bo.” The man stated in a monotone official tone, though there was a sense in Cao Fei’s mind that he was not happy to be reading this or perhaps it was just her nerves.

“I demand a recount” Yu Bo demanded. This was not a shock to anyone. The zhili did not take losing lightly.

“That demand will have to be approved by the Jade Marshall. He wanted this election to be resolved as soon as possible.” the official stated.

That news quieted the Zhili team just a little but there was still a lot of anger in the air. No one wanted to cross the Jade Marshal or Wu Peifu. He was the man that was really in charge of China. Regardless of party affiliation no one wanted to cross him. The Jade Marshal was more than willing to use force to get his way and no one wanted to be on the receiving end of that.

As they turned to leave, Yu Bo stared daggers at Zhang Yi and stated “Don’t think I have forgotten this”

As the team headed back to their headquarters, people had arrived. A good number were supporters, Fei thought as she recognized a number of faces from the speeches and meetings. More though were people she did not recognize and a good number of them were clearly citizens who could not vote. That however, did not damper the mood of the crowd.

As they left the car, Zhang Yi turned to the crowd of supporters and onlookers before speaking,”We have won a victory today! Together the city shall prosper. Together China will strengthen and modernize. For you are looking at the newest assembly member for the city!”

It was those words that made everyone cheer and soon the anxious of the crowd turned to celebratory, rather quickly as if the people were waiting for just this occasion. There were a few stands selling small fireworks that quickly became swarmed by people. Soon fireworks went off throughout the nearby neighborhoods and then throughout the city.

“Getting some people to sell some fireworks was a great idea.” Yi said to his wife as he watched the fireworks.

“I am glad that you approve.” She said as she leaned into him.

Traveling to the Capital
Celebrations came to an end and Cao Fei and her family boarded the train to Beijing. Her son ,Zhang Jianwei, and daughter, Zhang Yu, were accompanying them along with Hao Lei and Guo Da. As they were boarding the train, her eye caught Zhang Yi speaking with one of the soldiers guarding the train after a moment, yi handing the soldier a small bundle of cash before he joined his wife boarding the train.

The train that was taking them from Hengshui to the capital, had them in first class. As they walked down the hall, they paused as they opened a door for a suit that had an ornate bunk bed and two chairs.

“Should we need to sleep over night, this will be your cabin, children.” Cao Fei said to her children they bowed to their parents before moving into check the cabin out.

“I call the top bed.” Zhang Jianwei said to his sister to which there was a hmph heard.

“I wanted the top bed. hrmph” Yu said to her brother.

“Well I am older and older siblings get first choice.” He said teasing his little sister before going to close the door.

Once the door was closed, Zhang Yi turned to Guo Da and said, “I want one of the more trusted men to guard my children’s room.”

“It will be done right away, sir.” He replied to Zhang Yi with a bow. Not long afterwards, a guard stood near the Children’s room.

Several hours had passed since they started the journey to the capital, the Zhang family along with Guo Da and Hao Lei had moved into the dining cabin to enjoy complimentary food when suddenly the train came to a complete stop. This made everyone pause in the middle of their eating.

“What the.. What is going on” someone further down the hall asked aloud.

A moment later that question was answered as soldiers boarded the train and marched down the hall. Each of them carried a rifle in their hands.

“The train is under military jurisdiction” One of the soldiers said to those that in the dining cabin.

“You can not do this. I paid good money for this ticket.” Another passenger exclaimed.

“We can and you can’t do anything about this. Once we reach our destination, your train will be back on its way to the capital.” The soldier said surprisingly politely but also in tone that indicated he will accept no argument. Cao Fei assumed that it was likely due to the fact that this was where the wealthier passengers were.

“Now do stay still while we check your belongs for anything seditious” the soldier said.

The soldiers walked down the hall checking for the passengers belongings. They did not care that these were rather wealthy men and women. If anything they preferred it but the presence of Zhang Yi and several other men of note deterred them from doing anything.

Several Hours later, the soldiers left departing at a small town not far from Baoding. However, as Cao Fei watched them leave she saw that they had dragged two people out with them. They were from the poorer sections of the train. She noticed as the train started up again that the soldiers shot the two passengers, the whistle of the train hiding the sounds of gunshots. It was clear though that everyone was glad that they were gone even if Cao Fei realized few saw that scene.

It was not known why they had to commandeer the train. Though everyone breathed a sigh of relief when they left and the train went back towards Beijing.

It was in the early morning as the train began to approach the capital of China. This brought quite a bit of excitement in the cabin. For many from the villages and towns near Hengshui, that city was the largest they had ever seen but it was a small town compared to the capital of the Qing Empire. Adding to the excitement in the cabin were several planes that flew over head.

“An aeroplane.” Hao Lei said with awe. They were still a novelty in China and many had yet to see them.

“And now that my husband is a member of the Assembly, Hengshui will have have its own airport as well.” Cao Fei said with a bit of pride to which Zhang Yi could only smile at that comment.

“Really? Maybe next time we have to go anywhere, we can go by aeroplane.” Hao Lei said the enthusiasm and awe not leaving her voice.

“Perhaps.” Zhang Yi said.

“I prefer staying closer to the ground. If man was meant to fly, we would be born with wings.” Guo Da said as he leaned back into the seat of the train.

As they left the train station in Beijing, newspapers were flying fast and furious. Cao Fei paid a news stand some cash to see what got everyone in a tizzy. The headline of the paper made that loud and clear: ALEXANDER KERNESKY ASSASSINATED!
 
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TreizeV

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Ah, the shot that is heard around the world. I wonder what path Russia will take in this playthrough.

A great start! And of course, always leave it to the crafty wives to set things up in the back ground. Lore wise, was the Qing empire in KR 'democratic' on a lower level? I know the German Reich set up the Qing again but I always thought it was as an absolute monarchy.
 

kol13

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Ah, the shot that is heard around the world. I wonder what path Russia will take in this playthrough.

A great start! And of course, always leave it to the crafty wives to set things up in the back ground. Lore wise, was the Qing empire in KR 'democratic' on a lower level? I know the German Reich set up the Qing again but I always thought it was as an absolute monarchy.
In the china rework the Qing is Nominally a constitutional Constitutional monarchy with the government under the control of the zhili clique
https://kaiserreich.fandom.com/wiki/Qing_Empire
 

HIMDogson

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Well, we've reached the limits of what can be done without the update. Yet another reason to look forwards to it.
 

vyshan

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@TreizeV Well Russia's fate will be shown later on. :)

As for the Qing Empire as with most things in the warlord era, it is complicated. Officially the country is a multi party constitutional monarchy. That is though just on paper since the reality is that it is dominated by Wu Pefiu's Northern Zhili Clique; the territory in game that is part of the 'Qing' largely marks the extent of his reach. The other parties are just there to give a fig leaf to democracy. Though as this chapter shows these parties can win, though by engaging in the same corruption that the Harmony Association does.

For more information on the Qing Empire in KR, check out this wiki page on the Qing and this one on the History of China.

@HIMDogson I hope that you are enjoying it so far. :)
 

stnylan

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It is excellent to see your starting a new AAR, and this is an intruing place to begin.


Also, I hope you have a fortunate and wholesome New Year.
 
Chapter 1 - The Vow

vyshan

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Chapter 1 - The Vow

Several weeks had passed since Muten had become an officer and he was attending a family gathering. Muten knew it was a somber occasion but it should be a happy occasion. Every few years all the family members would gather together to honor their ancestors. In the past this would be a far more happy occasion. However, because the events were now in Beijing, it was always a reminder that the Qing had lost Manchuria, something that Muten despised with a passion.

“Mutengge, why is everyone sad? Family gatherings should be happy.” His little niece said.

“Because we are not allowed to go to Jilin and visit our ancestors.” Muten said.

“And why not? We have the money, and our family are nobles.” She asked innocently. She did not grasp the politics of things. Jilin was deep within Fengtian territory, the Japanese lap dogs.

“Because of Zhang Zhoulin who rules the warlord Fengtian.” He said.

“Well he is a big Meanie. If he ever came here, I would go right up to him and tell him that we should be able to visit our ancestral shrine. Hrmph.” She said. Now that would be a sight Muten would have loved to see even if he knew it was impossible. The vicious warlord Zhang Zhoulin of the Fengtian being yelled at to his face by a six year old girl. It was a silly image but one that brought a smile to his face.

The Jayajala clan made their way to the shrine in Beijing. It was located within the Dongcheng district of the city. The shrine included not just the building that housed the shrine but the courtyard as well where most of the rituals would be done. In addition to the Chinese characters in the shrine there was the Jayajala's clan name written out in Manchu.

As the day progressed, prayers and hymns to the ancestors were sung. Muten watched men and women kneel and kowtow to their ancestors, each saying their own private prayer. Each person placed the candles on the shrine or burned incense. Everyone though was wearing their most elaborate clothes, most of which would not look out of place in court a few centuries ago.

When it came time for Muten to approach the ancestral shrine, he followed protocol like everyone before and after him did. As he kowtowed to the ancestors he spoke his prayer softly but with conviction. "Ancestors, watch over us. The homeland I vow will be reclaimed. If I have to suffer pain and misery a thousandfold, than so be it. I shall not rest till we can perform this ceremony in Jilin where it should be done. This I vow to you.”

Later during the celebratory feast that followed the ceremony, Muten ran into his niece.

"Mutengge, you seemed rather tensed during the ceremony. I hope nothing is bothering you." She asked innocently.

"Conviction, not tense. Make the prayers strong and firm and whom you are praying to are bound to listen".

"Well I hope the ancestors hear. We did all that for them." She responded.

"As do I. Lets rejoin the festivities. I do believe they are going to bring out the Nian Go." He said to which his niece smiled at the mention of nian go.

The Presidential Speech
Muten and a number of other soldiers were assigned to the National Assembly to guard all the important members of the assemblies. The various politicians be it members of the Harmonious association and the various opposition parties were there. There were many faces he did not recognize but those that he did sat with the other members of the Manchu Party.

In addition to the members of the national assembly, there were a number of military officers like Muten himself. He saw his commanding officer, Chen Xiaolu, but far more important officers were there as well, including the Jade Marshal himself.

“Today we celebrate the Ancestral and traditional New Year Year…” Cao Kun before he began to ramble on. Muten showed no reaction but he realized that this was going to be a long day watching corrupt old men.

“Peace and Prosperity is returning back to China! The warlords shall bend their knee to the son of Heaven. Glory and Honor will be brought back to China…” He continued rambling on some more.

“...To that end this shall be achieved by a three point plan” Cao Kun said pausing for a moment. Muten remained on guard, though inwardly was glad that the president was finally getting to the central part of his speech. Hopefully this would be over soon.

“First tax breaks to industrialists to build up the Chinese economy. This will be further supported with subsidies from the Imperial government.” Cao Kun said.

“Second, the farmers which are the backbone of the Chinese Empire will be given tax cuts. The might of our peasantry shall be used to export the food overseas at a price thereby helping to improve the economy.

“Finally there will be a tax increase upon the people, and the various provincial governors….” Cao Kun said before rambling off on how it would be handled.

The speech annoyingly for Muten, did not stop there as Cao Kun rambled on longer. Still when the speech was finally over it was met with polite applause from everyone in the room, including the imperial representatives and the officers. Muten though was mostly just glad that Kun finished rambling and that the speech was over.

Planning for the future

Muten walked down the street towards Jianghu, A club which was well known as a place for the Zongshe Party. Muten knew that the club often was rumored to be a second office for the party. The office where he was meeting them was off the main street in the upper portion of the city. Several Guards stood outside and as Muten approached, he did not recognize who these men were though he hoped they were supporters of the Emperor and not spies for the Zhili.

As he entered the club, a man came up to him with a friendly expression before speaking“Ah Muten, I am glad that you are able to make it.”

“Ji Xuan, well I did tell you that I accepted your invitation.”

“That you did. In either case I am glad that you can join us. There is much to discuss but first let us enjoy some tea” Xuan said.

The two men walked down the hall of the club to the main room, which had several tables in the center. Along the left side of the room was a bar and in the front was a stage for musicians. As the two sat down a hostess brought out a teapot containing hot tea. She then proceeded to pour the tea before leaving the men to their business.

After sipping his tea, Muten looked to Xuan before speaking, “I assume you invited me here for more than just tea and music”

“Of course. To begin with how respected do you think the Emperor is within the Army” Xuan asked.

“No one would dare respect his majesty.” Muten stated.

“Not openly of course. You and I both know that the Zhili officers are not entirely fond of him.” Xuan said.

“That is true. We know how dark the days were before the restoration.” Muten said.

“Indeed. But back to the question.” Xuan said.

“My soldiers are loyal to the son of heaven. My officers are more loyal to themselves.” Muten said.

“Not surprising.” Xuan stated.

“Of course this is moot for now, as the Zhili work with the Emperor.” Muten stated.

“Yes, for now. But if something were to happen, we should make sure that the Army is loyal to his majesty and not some warlord.” Xuan said.

“I certainly hope that were not the case.” Muten said before adding “but I agree.”

“I trust that the Zongshe can count on you for this” Xuan.

“Of course.” Muten said.

“Wonderful. Now that business is taken care of let's enjoy the music.” Xuan said as one of the musicians stepped onto the stage and began to sing a jazz sonnet rendition of a classical Chinese poem.
 

TreizeV

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To be an officer in the emperor's army is seems like a delicate tightrope walk. Muten must be careful. Funny too how the Qing perhaps share more with the Entente in this universe than perhaps the Kaiserreich, having been exiled from their own ancestral homeland by their enemies
 

stnylan

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To be an officer in the emperor's army is seems like a delicate tightrope walk. Muten must be careful. Funny too how the Qing perhaps share more with the Entente in this universe than perhaps the Kaiserreich, having been exiled from their own ancestral homeland by their enemies
Can't say better than this.

But also it makes depending on that army a most uncertain prospect, I would imagine.
 

vyshan

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@TreizeV Certainly a tightrope especially since Muten is not a Zhili affiliated officer but a Manchu noble. Since atm the Zhili dominate the army that does make things complicated.

@stnylan Well depending on warlord backed armies is not the most dependable sort of force.
 
Chapter 2 - The New Year

vyshan

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Chapter 2 - The New Year


[The Village of Jianzho]

The Village of Jianzho

Chen Zhen rowed his small boat back to the village of Jianzho. Jianzho was built along the Yellow River, and it was an ancient village. If the legends were to be believed then it was founded during the reign of Taizong of the Song Dynasty but others like Chen Zhen didn’t care when it was founded. The village was his home along the river bank, the fact that it was an ancient village hardly mattered.

What mattered more to people was that life hardly changed in thousands of years. The revolutions and conflicts of the past century were well known to the villagers of Jianzho but most just wanted to be left alone. That desire to be left alone however was not something that they could control. So Chen Zhen was appointed the leader of the village Militia. As he rowed his boat back, he thought about how weaponry had advanced in the recent years. He was a good leader and most respected him. However, his militia which was a mixture of spearmen and vintage riflemen would be obliterated in an open battle. Hence he prefered cunning. It kept his friends and neighbors alive and it was why he was rowing his boat this day so he could keep an eye out for trouble along the river bank.

However it was not just modern weaponry that was slowly creeping into the town. Electricity had begun showing up in recent years. Principally because of the village’s landlord, Bei Yuhai, who wanted to show off his status. However for the most part it was kept to events like the upcoming New Years celebration.

Chen Zhen smiled at the thought of the new years. Though it was not to marvel at the electricity like so many of the other villagers. Instead it was because he would be attending it with the Landlord’s daughter, Lin. Despite all the troubles that the previous decade had brought, he had been speaking with her father and was sure that he would agree to the match.

The Year of the Rat
New Years day was here and the village was out in style. Everyone had come out to celebrate. Tian Yun had set up the new electricity and many of the children throughout the village had come to see the electricity. For many this was the one time in the whole year, that they would see electricity. For Chen he was enjoying this night with Lin.

There were people doing a lion dance as their wore costumes throughout the village as the got rid of the bad luck of the previous year and brought prosperity for the new year. As the evening came upon them; the new lights were there to let the celebrations continue long into the night.

“Zhang Tielin is going to set off the fireworks soon.” Chen said to lin as they moved to the bridge in the center of the village to watch them. Tielin was using some river barrages to launch fireworks into the sky. As they went into the air there was a lot of oohing and ahhing from the crowd, particularly the kids.

“I hear that you have been accepted as Yifeng’s apprentice.” Chen Zhen said with a soft smile, referring to the doctor of the village.

“Quite correct. It will be sometime but I will be able to be a doctor.” Lin said with a smile.

“I wish that this night would never end.” Lin said with a soft smile as she watched the fireworks explode in the night sky.

“As do I.” Chen Zhen replied.

“Do you think your father will say Yes” He asked after a moment as another firework exploded into the sky.

“I pray that he does.” She stated before lowering her voice and adding, “I also went to Madam Xiyuan and asked her for a fortune reading and she indicated that we would…”

Before she could finish her sentence there were several shots into the air and angry shouts could be heard. Soldiers began to pour into the city and it did not look like that they were here to enjoy the festivities. Their arrival brought the happy mood to an end.

“Who is in command here!” The leader of the soldiers barked at the villagers.

“Who in the blazes are you?” One of the villagers stated in return.

“Looks like this one doesn’t know how to speak to his superiors. I am Colonel Xu Weizhou and this village falls under my jurisdiction now.” The officer stated.

It was about this time that Bei Yuhai, the village landlord approached the soldiers with several of the local militiamen, the ones who actually had antique rifles. “I am the Landlord for this village, so you will be speaking to me with respect, soldier,” he said to Xu.

“Good. I am here to inform you that there are to be new taxes. I want them delivered to me personally.” Xu replied.

“Say we don’t and we just pay them to the magistrate himself.” Yuhai questioned, more like interrogated in Chen Zhen’s eyes.

“Well in that case, I hear you have a daughter. I will take her as my concubine and than I will loot burn your pathetic village to the ground.” He stated with sadistic glee. It was at that statement, that chen zhen gripped his gun more tightly. He also noticed that there was a defiant fire in Lin’s eyes at that statement.

“Heaven above that will never happen.” She stated.

“Than I am glad that we are in agreement. You have roughly two weeks to deliver me these taxes or this village burns.” He stated with a dark grin.

“How much are you wanting for taxes.” Yuhai stated reluctantly.

“Double than last time. Orders from the government.” He stated, with that sadistic grin upon his face before he added, “and remember, if we don’t get it you and your village burns.”

“You will have it.” Yuhai said with gritted teeth.

“Good, I will let you get back to whatever you peasants do. Happy News Year” He stated and then turned to leave.

The village meeting
The Landlord had summoned Chen Zhen and several other notables to a meeting at his home the following day to discuss Xu. Of the notables, Chen Zhen recognized Shi Chunlai the richest man and often wearing the most flashiest outfits his money could afford him. Though Chen Zhen liked to imagine that if Shi went anywhere besides their village he would be laughed at for being poor. Then there was Wu Quanxu, the leading Buddhist priest in the village. Finally there was Wang Jiaocheng, a scrawny man with glasses who was also the village magistrate.

“We must decide upon a course of action.” Yuhai stated.

“We should just pay the money.” Shi stated.

“Yea, because you can afford it. Most of the villagers here do not have your wealth.” Quanxu replied.

“I know that but what other course we have.” Shi questioned.

“These men are bandits, it does not matter if we pay they are going to keep taking and taking until we have nothing left to take.” Chen Zhen stated.

“And how many guns do you have. Guns, not spears.” Shi asked.

“Not enough. Half the Militia has guns and most of them are sadly decades old. Either from the war against the Taiping or the American North - South War.” Chen Zhen said with a sigh.

“Precisely. We can not fight them off and if we don’t they will burn the village to the ground” Shi stated.

“I think there may be a way out of this matter. I was informed of a change in policy by the Central Government.” Jiaocheng added.

“And what change is that?” Yuhai asked. Everyone seemed to be intrigued by what the magistrate had to offer.

“There will be subsidies given out to farmers to encourage them to produce crops to sell.” He answered.

“So we can use the money from these crops to pay off the bandits.” Shi stated seeming to be on board with the plan.

“Even if we do that won’t stop them from coming back again and threatening us.” Chen Zhen stated.

“No it will not.” Yuhai agreed.

“Sadly, I think that is true. But, even if we are to fight them off, right now we can’t. We don’t have the weapons. But if we pay them off we can use the time to prepare.” Shi said.

“We are a poor village, you think we can get modern weapons, or something that is not like half a century out of date?” Chen Zhen said.

“Yes. I can see if there are any that can not be brought in. I trust that in the meantime, you will train the men how to fight properly with guns. We will have to use cunning not strength here.” Shi said to which a nod was given in the affirmative from Chen Zhen.

“So are we all in agreement on the plan.” Yuhai asked to which several nods were given.

“Even you, Magistrate Jiaocheng?” Quanxu asked.

“Heaven is High and the Emperor is far away.” the magistrate replied with a sardonic smile and with that the meeting was adjourned.
 
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stnylan

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The life of a Chinese peasant is really not fun.
 
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