Zhi Cheng's Audience Hall - Jiangcheng

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Postby Numinous » Tue Jan 20, 2009 10:36 pm

Zhi Cheng had held out a hope that he might've had some knowledge of these men directing policy in the southern kingdom to enlighten her with, but she nonetheless nodded sagely to her retainer's words, which were the simple heart of the matter and require no further explanation. Military practicality aside, deep down the albino mistress of Wu did still have a certain reservation that was hard to overcome... but growing closer to Yue's political sphere might allow her to also clarify if certain things she believed were true or not. The woman was if nothing else certainly pragmatic and careful in all decisions, and this one required great care and came at a very pivotal time.

The Marquess sighed a bit, and turned once again to face the foreign minister of her ally. "The General and I agree that militarily we need a closer pact to overthrow the regime of Xiang Jun. But the greatest contributor to this front directly in terms of resources is Marquis Jiang Sei, not I. Therefore I suggest that you travel to Huainan with due haste and argue your case to the magistrate of the rivers. If you can convince him of the urgency of a lasting union for the projection of force in Jiujiang and beyond, then I will remove my opposition and instead work within the framework of this new nation to more properly shape its structure and policies."

She closed her eyes briefly and exhaled. "However, if you prove unsuccessful... then Wu will continue to remain a sovereign entity and pursue its own foreign & military policies as necessary to best support the security of the coastal regions. Be it Xiang Kai, Xiang Jun, or even the puppeteers of the Qin throne... I will remain opposed to all three, as is the good Marquis of Huainan."
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Postby Zhudi » Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:54 am

Sha Zukang smiled and said, "I thank you for your understanding, Marquess. I will now proceed to Huainan to talk with the Marquis. Rest assured that Marquis Long and I both agree with you that this union between our kingdoms will be useless unless all three lieges are on board. Together we shall stand; separately we shall fall." He then stood and bowed, "I must now make haste north. I thank you for taking the time to listen to me."

If allowed to leave, Sha Zukang will enter his carriage and ride north with his escort into Huainan.
Ma Zhudi, Guardian of the South

Also portraying...
Sha Zukang (61), Changsha's Chief Foreign Minister
"We will do the business at any cost...through whatever means available. One inch of the territory is more valuable than the life of our people. We will never concede on that."

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Postby Numinous » Thu Jan 22, 2009 3:00 am

"I will always listen to an argument delivered in good faith. It is unfortunate that I must defer the answer you seek upon another's shoulders, but such is the way of things. Go in peace then, Foreign Minister," replied the scarlet robed woman, as she arose somewhat hauntingly from her chair and gave a slight nod of respect. "May your journey be safe and the wind at your back."

With that Sha Zukang's exit was unimpeded, and he was safely reunited with his escort. A grant of safe passage through Wu's northern border to his destination was issued, and the journey without incident.
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Postby Cao Chao » Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:44 pm

From Jiaodong, a lone scholar traveled the distance to the city of Jiangcheng in Huainan. Though nominally on the southern border region, the province had prospered and grown under the guardianship of the Marchioness of Huainan. The scholar endured the numbing soreness of being in a saddle for several long, seemingly interminable days. Having been in communication with the Marchioness, the scholar felt obligated even to endure the discomfort of travel to make the journey to Huainan.

Before the gates of the city of Jiangcheng, the scholar dismounted from his horse. Rubbing his backside, he winced at the numbness in his posterior. Greeting the guards on duty, he clasped his hands together and spoke. "I am the scholar, Hua Jianying, Chief Minister to the Marquis of Jiaodong and the Architect who restored Xianyang. I request an audience with the Marchioness of Huainan."

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Postby Numinous » Tue Feb 24, 2009 2:19 am

Though prospering from Lady Zhi Cheng's efforts, the relatively peaceful facade of Wu had unfortunately been shed several days ago for a different face of paranoia and militarism. The sudden war just to the north had caused the Legalist's true armies that lurked beyond perception to appear everywhere one looked now, either preparing for a march to the battlefield in Huainan or beginning to entrench her own lands for a possible second offensive by legions of Liang across the Great River. Though it was sad to see this state of affairs, those familiar with the ruler knew that these sacrifices were all made for the sake of her staunch ally Jiang Sei -- to be sure, a dedication to mobilize an entire nation for a promise made said much of her character. As such, the scholar was greeted by the guards stationed at the gates of the city and put through a rather lengthy bout of questioning before they established that he was a person of interest to the Marchioness rather than a suspicious character. Naturally they apologized profusely for the mix-up and escorted the esteemed minister of Jiaodong to the mansion on the hill in the center of the portside town, as the Lady of the house was expecting his visit.

After his horse was stabled, Hua was led to the central room which was in actuality more like a subdued study than a throne room, with windows that looked down upon the town. In the center of it all was the pale-faced and scarlet robed female scholar pouring over a set of battle reports that her court scribe had handed her moments before. Her Yue-dwelling bodyguard was not to be seen either, having long ago marched into Huainan to lead her soldiers, his place instead occupied by her doctor Luo Zao. The elder man was silent, though obviously he was worried the stress of recent events was impacting the already frail albino's health. When the arrival of the architect was announced, her frown thankfully lessened, as the thought of some good news and a pleasant conversation pushed the clouds of worry from her sanguine eyes. To see her in person really did conjure images of superstition, as the young woman resembled the 'Bai Mei' of legend, a jealous ghost who would eat men's souls when they ventured into her den.

Zhi Cheng coughed once, before finding her voice and putting on the air of the proper hostess for her honored guest as she sat up straight in the bronzed antique chair of hers. "Ah, Chief Minister Hua... I had not expected you to visit me so soon, though it is a most welcome surprise to be graced with your learned presence within my halls. I must however apologize for the actions of my men in greeting you... as you have no doubt seen, these desperate times have called for desperate measures in order to ensure the safety of Wu and its citizens. Though I do hope you did not meet any undue trouble on your journey to Jiangcheng?"

The woman lifted a thin hand from her raiments and summoned a maidservant with some refreshments and a cushioned couch was not far away if Hua wished to make himself at ease from the rough trip in the saddle he had endured to come this far.
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Postby Cao Chao » Tue Feb 24, 2009 10:51 am

Before he entered the central chambers, Hua Jianying brushed off the dirt and grime from days of travel from his sky blue colored robes. He heaved a sigh, glad that he had not worn the white robes that he usually wore. He regretted the fact that he had not asked for a bath and the opportunity to change his clothes.

As the scholar entered the chambers, his strides were bold and showed no hesitation. His head was held high and not submissive. Tested and proven in the rebuilding efforts of Xianyang and now in the administration of the city of Jimo, the scholar had attained a level of self-confidence that almost bordered on arrogance. Turning his head from side to side to consider his surroundings, Hua Jianying drank in the details of the room.

His gaze was somehow magnetically drawn to the Marchioness. There was no stutter to break up his strides, but there was a sense of surprise. But while others would have stared rudely in shock at the sight of the albino marchioness, the scholar was reminded of his kindly elder sister, the only one who tried to take care of him during his younger days. Shaking his head to himself, the scholar stopped in his forward movement and bowed from the waist.

"There is no need for apology," replied Hua Jianying with a smile as he straightened, "My visit was unheralded and I hoped that I have not troubled your Ladyship or your subordinates in arriving unannounced and unexpected." Bowing his head again in thanks for the refreshment and the couch, the scholar took a seat.

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Postby Numinous » Thu Feb 26, 2009 2:51 am

The leader of Wu shook her head once to his counter-apology. It would seem the two were engaged in a little war of manners for just a moment. "It is not a bother. In fact, I would say your sudden appearance has brightened my spirits considerably. Though the situation at present demands I prepare for war, at the core of things I am not a fighter nor a general but a woman of learning... so a face that reminds me of that now is truly a Heaven sent gift."

Leaving the scrolls with her subordinates, the woman arose from the study chair and had a seat on a couch opposite Hua Jianying to ostensibly have a more casual chat amongst intelligentsia. Though there was the hint in effort at moving her body, Zhi Cheng nevertheless possessed the mannerism and poise of a proper woman, if people could see past her physical traits. The alabaster hair and wine-colored eyes were even more striking up close, quite a contradiction to her otherwise quiet and pragmatic demeanor.

There was already some tea being set out for them as she resumed the conversation, now encamped more comfortably on the low cushions. "I've obviously many topics to discuss with you, sir Hua. Current affairs seem very ripe for speculation... especially those concerning a certain group of mutual interest... though at this point the original worries I expressed in my letter may be fast becoming a moot point." She cast her eyes down a bit, admitting the undeniable facts before her with reservation. "I fear the battle does not go well for the Riverlands independence."
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Postby Cao Chao » Fri Feb 27, 2009 10:40 pm

"The tides of war have come once again to the Southlands," replied the scholar with a sigh, as he clasped his hands together and placed them in his lap. His eyes followed the progress made by his delicate host. Mental comparisons were made between Zhi Cheng and his own sickly constitution that had plagued most of his life to the last couple of years. "I am thankful that I am not yet a man of war, resisting the attempts by others to involve me in the workings of the battlefield, formulating tactics and grand strategies." Unclasping his hands, he began to drum the index finger of his right hand on his knee.

"These times have been trying for those who are unused to the travails of warfare," continued Hua Jianying. Turning to gaze out of the window, he remembered the horrors of the battles that he had witnessed and the battlefields that he had visited. The scholar fervently wished that he could forget all that he had seen and experienced, but he knew that it was impossible to do so. Everything had left there mark upon his psyche, for good or for ill. "There is no corner of this realm that has not tasted or witnessed the horrors of warfare. Some have suffered more than others from the dreadful combination of disease, devastation, and death, but it is the unfortunate nature of our generation that we live in these appalling times. The desperation and depravity of man trying to survive is a terrible sight to behold and it has left a heavy weight upon my very being."

"I would like to pose some questions to you, Milady, and I hope that you won't mind," began the scholar as he turned his attention back to his host. He paused briefly, leaning forward before he continued. "What does the independence of the Southlands mean to Your Ladyship? Does it represent some ideal, some dream or some hope?" He closely regard his host with his piercing eyes, trying to gauge the reaction. While, the scholar probably knew how the Marchioness was going to answer and was therefore less interested in the response, he was curious as to the delivery and what was left unsaid.
Last edited by Cao Chao on Sat Feb 28, 2009 1:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Numinous » Sat Feb 28, 2009 9:17 am

The pale woman folded her hands in her lap, deep in thought. "It is difficult to give an easy answer to such a question," began Zhi Cheng, her eyes arising to meet his stare. "But it can be distilled down to one major fact, and this is of my word I gave to the late Yi Lian. Though her legacy may have been much maligned, she was the person who gave me refuge and purpose when I was exiled from Xiangyang. Indeed, it was the first time that anyone has ever accepted me so willingly with all of my negative stigmas and as a result I have made the riverlands my new home... and taken up its cause as my own."

The Marchioness then sighed once, as she recounted the past. "And it has been a good home to me, much better than my old one. In those days of my early childhood, I was forever locked away behind closed doors of the study.. hidden not only from the nobles but my own family who was ashamed of me. Even in such a situation I tried to aspire to more than my pitiful existence, absorbing the knowledge of my father Zhi Manchong's Legalist library. But as I learned the ways of statesmanship and warfare, I yearned for a chance to put them to the test -- to break out of my gilded prison and prove those who doubted me wrong. When the fires then came that fateful day, our estate torched for the false accusations of treason against my family... I took what men I could loyal to our house and all the books I could carry and fled. Lou Zao, the one who had tended to me through my cloistered existence, was the only one who dared follow out of his sense of duty and concern." The elder standing next to her nodded in acceptance at this tale, rubbing his white beard once.

Her sanguine gaze hardened some, as she coughed once inbetween her diatribe. "And so you see that I care deeply for this land, and despite my health I use my skills to fight for its sake knowing the risks if I falter. For it is all that I have now, the precious opportunity I wished for during those years of dreaming." Her hands massaged each other a little nervously as she closed her eyes. "And the Duke Jiang Sei... he is also someone very special to the people of the Riverlands... and... to myself as well." Though she did not say anything specific, it appeared that her feelings did indeed run deep for the seaman of Huainan. "How deeply troubling it is when his good intentions for the people who rose him up as the leader we know today earn him so very many enemies outside of our borders. Another unfortunate sign of these twisted times and their logic... that such virtuous men are viewed as a threat by those with more unscrupulous ambitions. Even our 'friends' in Yue and Changsha are not entirely trustworthy, not when a controlling hand of the Brotherhood is succeeding in dragging the Duke deeper into their wars against Chu at his own peril..."

She thanked one of her servants as some hot tea was served to them both while Lady Zhi had been speaking.
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Postby Cao Chao » Mon Mar 02, 2009 11:03 am

(OOC: Hehehe, I used to RP Xiang Liang. :wink: )

"While I respect a promise made to the deceased as sacrosanct," began the scholar, as he regarded the Marchioness with a sorrowful gaze, "Is such a promise worth the blood spilled, chaos sowed, and destruction wreaked? While the late Lady Yi would appreciate your loyalty and wish to carry on her legacy, I highly doubt that she would accept the heavy cost. Why else would she have presumed to meet Xiang Jun when she was more than aware of the duplicity of one who was the subordinate of the Chu King. Why else would she have agreed to her betrothal to Xiang Liang? The reason was for peace and to prevent the need for unnecessary bloodshed."

"The die has been cast by the cries of havoc made and the dogs of war unleashed," said the scholar, as he cast another look out the window at the city. "I have some respect for the King of Liang and while I do not counsel Your Ladyship to make any bargain that would compromise your principles, I feel that Liang would be a far less odious choice as compared to Chu or even worse, the Brotherhood."

Bowing his head, he continued, "But what do I know? I am but a simple scholar."


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