Wen Xu and Xun Jiang
"The city possesses seven elders," replied the foreman, recalling the information that he knew, "They are Elders Guo, Jia, Jiao Ju, Kuang, Ling, and Xie. Elder Jia have recently come to their position through the wealth and the resulting influence that he wields. He has grown wealthy and fat off of the trade that he does. Elders Ju, Kuang, and Xie are scions of families that have lived here since before Zhao attained independence and was still a part of Jin before it was partitioned in three. These four control the vast majority of the farmland around the city. Elders Ju and Ling are highly respected for their skills in their respective fields of medicine and history. While his family has not been in Julu that long, Elder Guo is said to be a descendant of the Zhao Imperial family and as such was raised to the exalted position as one of the leaders of the city. As such, he possesses a number of capable and powerful retainers that we should keep an eye on."
Brother Dun wrote:The scholar of Zhongxin Zhishi sighed at the man's words, "I'll admit, that Elder Jia seemed more concerned about his profits than anything else, but he did have the wisdom to send me to you, Elder Ling. I merely happened upon Elder Jia first, due to having the citizens of this city point me towards him when I arrived. I am a scholar, and a learned man, and I need to know what you know about the ghosts haunting this place. I am aware that the battle saw the deaths of over 200,000 men, but would it also be possible that some some of the ghosts have been around longer? Perhaps when the Qin came and burned their way through the land of Zhao?"
Pausing a moment, he looked over the two scrolls Elder Ling held, "What would those two scrolls be able to tell me? I need to know about the manner of deaths these ghosts have been causing, frequency of attacks, and locations. If they are centralized, and at common intervals and timing, perhaps it could be something other than ghosts. Perhaps a bandit force, or a wild animal that only comes out at a certain time of day. If not, then an earthly solution becomes more far fetched... What can you tell me about these attacks, Elder Ling? What do you need me to do? I need you to trust me, for I really am here to help
"There has always been relatively isolated ghost sightings ever since the massacre of Zhang Han's army by Xiang Yu," stated the Elder. He nodded with satisfaction as the scroll verified what he had stated. "The lands of Julu were relatively spared by Qin when they decimated Zhao. After Li Mu was arrested and forced to commit suicide, the Zhao resistance fell apart. The sole major flashpoint was the sack of the capital city of Handan. The sightings however have increased in the last six months. It has increased substantially from perhaps one or two sightings a month . . . to something along the lines of ten to fifteen every week. The vast majority of the deaths can be ruled as accident. A man getting caught in the tether of a run away horse. Fires sparking even under impossible conditions. Men falling for hunting traps far removed from the standard hunting hotspots."
Suicide Fox wrote:"Ho! Hold on now," Reaching into his satchel, De Man brandished the tally that was given to him by the old man. He didn't think the thing would be particularly useful, but then again he didn't expect an armed guard to be securing the burial grounds from potential visitors. "Look here, I have this. Might as well let me through, I'm here to solve your problem."
He held himself confidently, if only to show the guard he was the real deal so they'd let him pass. Between you and me, De Man felt a tad bit worried about the weapons being pointed at him, but any good champion had to know the proper way to bluff.
"Can you give me any information before I pass on through?" The thought came to mind, a good question since knowledge was power and all that jazz. He wasn't the most creative of people, but perhaps he could use whatever intel he could gather to make a proper judgment decision. If he was allowed to pass through in the burial site, he would continue on his way using the intelligence that the guard gave him (or wander aimlessly if they did not)
The guards snapped to attention. Even though everyone knew about Elder Jiao's madness . . . that did not mean that he was accorded the respect befitting of his stature and position. De Man was permitted entry and was guided to the foreman.
"So you are the representative dispatched by Elder Jiao?" asked the foreman, nodding his head. "The governor had called for seven to eight volunteers to stay overnight at these burial grounds. Since you're here, I'll get your name and chalk you up as one of the volunteers. Agreeable?"
Shen Feng wrote:"Good to meet you, Elder. My name is Shen Feng, and I hail from Chenliu." Given the battle here that had caused so many to be killed and triggered this ghost fiasco, Feng felt it wouldn't be prudent to mention his status as a Chu minister at this point, not without knowing more about the situation. "I am hoping to investigate these ghosts, yes. I do not know if my talents will be enough to do something about them, but I am willing to try. Before I can do anything, I need to know more about what's been happening. Did that poor man's plight on the wagon have anything to do with these ghosts? That seemed awfully odd to just be a random occurance."
"It is hardly a random occurrence," replied Elder Ju, shaking his head. "That poor man was hardly the first . . . and I doubt that he will be the last. Unfortunately, things like that seems to occur at least twice or more a week. If you noticed his severed stump . . . something must have cut off the arm . . . Only some kind of sharp blade can be able to sever the arm so thoroughly. I can't be entirely sure what kind of blade it was . . . but I don't think that it was . . . an accident. There is more to this than we know . . ."
Stifling a curse at stubbing his toe, Elder Ju continued. "I can't put my finger on it . . . but I think one of the other elders could be up to the business. The governor seems to be alright . . . but I know that some of my peers are quite greedy. A significant amount of land has changed hands in recent times . . . A number of small landholdings have been gobbled up. I can't seem to figure out who has done the purchasing . . . but I can tell you that the Elders Jia, Ju, Kuang, and Xie own over 80% of the farmland in a two hundred li
radius around this city."
OneEyedDrgn wrote:"I see. So you're one of them huh?" Zhuwen said cocking an eyebrow. To be honest, he was skeptical, maybe the man before him was some bandit playing tricks on the populace? But for now, Zhuwen humored the man. Ignoring the question the man gave as a hypothetical, Zhuwen continued.
"Why are you guys haunting this damn place? Pissed at Xiang Yu?"
Shrugging, the man faded out of view, leaving a puddle of wine mixed with fresh blood on the ground.
"Hong'er! Hong'er!" called a voice from the distance. "Young Master! Young Master!" called a number of other voices. Within a few minutes, a dozen torch-carrying soldiers appeared around the campfire. The elderly leader regarded Liang Zhuwen who was seated at the fire. "Where is Hong'er?" he demanded in an angry voice. "Where is my son!?! I know he was here . . ." The last bit was said with him pointing at the stain on the ground.
NightForever wrote:Before the old lady had departed, Wei stopped her before opening his back and pouring a few gold coins in her hand.
"You might need this to survive without your son. It is nothing much for me, believe me!". Wei let out a fake smile, trying his best not to look at the coins. He was sobbing deep down inside as if he was losing a part of his soul. (Shangguan Wei
painfully wholeheartedly gave 5 gold to the old lady who lost his son (assuming she took it)).
As the lady left, Wei turned to Elder Kuang and smiled to him.
"Hi, Elder Kuang! I met the old lady and heard scary news about her son. She told me her son was possessed by a ghost which pushed him to the trap. I would like to know more details about his death, including exactly what happened and where it happened. Could you lead me to the scene of the incident?"
Wei then waited for the elder's response. Deep down inside, he did not quite buy the idea of ghosts and spirits, unless he saw with his own eyes.
Dabbing at the tears in her eyes, the old lady bowed time and time again, thanking Shangguan Wei before taking her leave.
"Lady Nie is a bit superstitious," replied the Elder shaking his head, "She believes what she believes about her son's death. I am more realistic. While there have always been ghosts in this area . . . None of them have been powerful enough for their spiritual essence to be dissipated by the energy of a living person or powerful enough to be able to affected and be overly hostile towards living beings. There is something else that is afoot in this matter . . . Someone is using the excuse of the ghosts to broaden and expand their power, influence, and wealth."
Zhou Kahn wrote:Mai Zu nodded, easing the woman's hands off of her. She looked the woman in the eye, the way a mother would a child, to help reassure her as she spoke.
Mai Zu: "I will find Elder Guo. And I promise you, I will do everything in my power to help put your husband to rest."
With that she would once again try to leave, this time specifically searching out Elder Guo.
Mai Zu found Elder Guo in the garden at his opulent and large estate located just off the main market square at the center of the city. After explaining the situation, she was granted entry into the estate and was led to the garden. Stooping before a line of cabbage plants, the Elder spoke, addressing the young woman. "I am Elder Guo . . ." he said in a cold tone, keeping his back to his visitor, "I presume that my whore of a daughter asked you to come to me for help? Our family name has already been soiled by her marriage to that son of a bitch. Now she's dragging the name further through the mud with this business about seeing his ghost."