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[LP CYOA] 傳

Discussion in 'Choose Your Own Adventure Land' started by treave, Aug 29, 2013.

  1. Baltika9 Arcane

    Baltika9
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    Actually, what's going to happen is we'll stumble on a rock or something at the last moment, giving the assassin the signal to dodge (1 luck, remember?). From here, the best case scenario is we wound her badly enough for our teacher to secure Yunzi and push the psych lady back. Worst case scenario, we get seriously injured, maybe even maimed, and taken away instead of Yunzi to study with the badass monks, nothing screams "I have potential!" like almost executing a succesful sneak attack on her. I can live with that. Epic Fail would be getting injured and captured with the princess.

    Either way, we get a huge bonus with the Ashina and if we do get captured, I'm pretty sure they'll send someone to rescue us, I'm sure they won't let a truebro like us get kidnapped.
    Huluzi especially, he doesn't seem the type who's okay with failing his students.
     
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  2. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    Regarding the current choice, I am surprised that B is so unpopular.

    The woman said that she came searching for the prince, but found something more interesting. Unless Yunzi did some crazy awesome shtick again off-screen, that means that the woman spectated our match, or was told about it. And she came from Central Plains. The attackers may be closer to us than we think they are, and they might have spies in our midst. By no means your character knows that the prince is "safe and sound" - the last you heard of him he was retreating with the rest of his forces, that alone should clue you in that he did not feel secure. He thought it was just a tribal raid, and did not want to get involved - now that you've learned that he is the main target, it is your duty to warn and protect him. Who knows how many of these kidnappers are there?

    And you don't know a single thing about them. Remember "Military Precepts of Ean"? Rushing in blindly is an extremely stupid move. "You cannot fight what you do not understand. Thus, do not engage." B is the most logical choice to make. It is the proper choice.

    That said, I can't bring myself to vote anything but A, I just can't. Because fuck being proper - nobody steals our girls on my watch! Our reputation with the court is about to take a nosedive, but that is entirely consistent with our actions so far. We've put a lot of work into establishing friendly ties with the nomads. If worse comes to worst, I am fully prepared to throw in my lot with these people.

    I have no illusions about what is going to happen next. Our mentor, who've mastered Wolf’s Fang Fist technique enough to teach it to others, was just taken down effortlessly. And you, his apprentice for less than a day, are going to awe this Chinese equivalent to ninja with what exactly, your level 1 Qinggong , or maybe surprise her with your level 0 Sneak? You won't even need bad luck to screw you over. It's like a 2 month old kitten sneaking up on king cobra, oblivious to the danger. Our best bet would be that she won't perceive us as a serious threat warranting a lethal counter-action, given that we probably won't be able to hurt her, and we amuse her just enough that she decides to observe us, instead of capturing us outright. The ways of how it can go wrong are too numerous to describe. But hey, this is treave's LP, crazier stunts have been pulled off. We'll just wait and see where it will lead us.
     
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  3. Tigranes Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Tigranes
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    Fucking Western liberalised Hollywood Codex voting to save the girl and damn the consequences. They've come for us, they've watched us, they have the capacity to set the Prince's entourage on the run (and we can't entirely trust that one soldier dude - who knows if the Prince is or is not in trouble, or if we'll miss their departure and be stranded, etc, etc). As Nevill says everything is set up to go wrong with this one, because we don't even have a good plan, our plan is to use a beginner's skill we just learned then stab her with something sharp. For fuck's sake we are making this character a dumb Rambo in a hollywood action flick.

    B
     
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  4. Zero Credibility Arcane

    Zero Credibility
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    If the attack is that well prepared, why the hell would they chose to strike while we are inside an allied camp? It doesn't look like it's going that good - the prince is (at the moment at least) still safe and surrounded by soldiers and the attackers now have to deal with them and the locals. And if the attackers have infiltrated our party, wouldn't it be much, much easier to set up an ambush while we are returning tomorrow? This whole attacks looks ill prepared or maybe rushed for some reason.
     
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  5. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    The funny thing is that the soldier dude himself did not know if the prince was safe. It was our character who had immediately decided "nah, he'll be fine", with no basis whatsoever.

    But there is fun to be gained by letting our characters play themselves. Jing sure sounds like someone who might say 'to hell with the consequenses'.

    The bulk of our forces is no longer in the allied camp. They drew us out. Prince's fate is currently unknown to us. For all we know, the attack on locals is a distraction - their target lies elsewhere.
     
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  6. Zero Credibility Arcane

    Zero Credibility
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    Maybe, but why risk such an attack? Why not attack tomorrow when they would have to deal with only our soldiers?
     
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  7. The Brazilian Slaughter Arcane

    The Brazilian Slaughter
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    Yeah, we need less headrushing and to start thinking things through.

    Still on A, these people have show us hospitality and I won't abandon them without at least getting a stab or two at the fuckers.
     
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  8. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    As I said, we know nothing about the attackers. We can speculate all day.
    Maybe there are several factions - other tribes want to break our treaty (which is why they are attacking now), and the mercenaries/monks/ninjas/whoever they are want to kidnap the prince in the commotion.
     
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  9. Zero Credibility Arcane

    Zero Credibility
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    Well, either is the attacking force so strong that they feel confident they can take on the Prince's escort and the Ashina at the same time (in which case one untrained kid is not going to make a difference whatever we choose) or the attack is not going as planned at all. And from what we heard from the attacker it would seem that the later is the case.
     
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  10. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    If their target was our treaty, their job is already done. Turning your back to your potential allies on the same day you asked them for a favor is not the smartest move on Duke's part, and there are bound to be political repercussions. The raiders don't need to win the skirmish - just wreak enough havoc to promote rash decisions.
    But I feel like there is more to it than that, though I do not yet understand how much more.
     
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  11. Lambchop19 Arcane Zionist Agent Literally Hitler Batshit Crazy

    Lambchop19
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    A - seems we have run into one of the main villains and are now forced to fight her via a cut-scene where we lose our balls. How very Bioware of the us to do that to Ean 2.0. :)
     
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  12. Zero Credibility Arcane

    Zero Credibility
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    Hmm. There are certainly many unknowns here. The scenario that looks most plausible to me is that this attack is indeed not part of their original plan. That plan was to kill or kidnap the Prince stealthy. That could explain why we were knocked out while innocently taking a piss - they needed the Prince alone. It could also explain why attack us in the camp - they meant for the Ashina to take the blame. But that plan went to shit (possibly because the Prince was still awake) and now they have resorted to blunt force, either to continue with their attempt at taking out the Prince or to cover their retreat. Or it could be something completely different, of course.

    Oh well, we'll see how it goes - the votes are pretty one-sided so far.
     
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  13. Nevill Arcane

    Nevill
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    Worst case scenario is the woman backs away from Yunzi, and then the prince goes missing. Then we are proper fucked. Not even Ashina can overlook us failing to protect our sovereign.
     
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  14. Baltika9 Arcane

    Baltika9
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    I have absolutely no idea where this sentiment is coming from:
    The soldiers believe their prince is at the gate, the enemy leader pretty much admitted to having abandoned her "get the Prince" plan. He's there and he's planning to GTFO. No, the greatest risk is that we fail to injure/kill her but impress her enough that she takes us instead. But then again, is that so bad? We'll be close to the people hired to kidnap the prince! They'll force us learn martial arts! Oh noes, anything but that! How are we ever going to survive that! And like I said before, if we do get kidnapped I doubt the Ashina will just let just walk away, we can expect at least a scouting party sent after us from them. Possibly even Huluzi, I think he likes us and I doubt he's the type to fail his students. Shun will definitely take an interest in pulling our ass out of the fire.

    And if the Prince really is kidnapped, why would we want to go to the gate? "The Prince is missing! Go back into the camp and find him!" I think it's just baseless paranoia (I would know, had my share of it in the past ;) ).
     
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  15. XenomorphII Prophet

    XenomorphII
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    UNVOTE A
    VOTE B


    I originally thought that attacking the woman might help us find out who these attackers are. However, the more I think about it, the more I realize that 1) We will almost certainly lose this fight, and 2) We will be giving these people a huge boon by engaging and losing because we are the prince's adjutant and close friend, if we are taken they may be able to send someone disguised as us to seize the prince or ultimately force/manipulate us into turning on him or getting him captured.
     
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  16. Kashmir Slippers Augur

    Kashmir Slippers
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    I'm curious about our requirements on getting to the prince since we seem to want to do A, but people are worried about our duty. If someone were to attack us, would we be obliged to run away and try to find the prince or would we be able to defend ourselves? If that is the case fighting the woman might not be as bad of an option since we could always say that we were attacked.

    Is it possible that we just try to distract her and let the princess escape before we too run, or is it a "stay and fight to the end" or "run and find our lord" situation? Sorry if I am asking bad or improper questions for a CYOA
     
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  17. treave Arcane Patron

    treave
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    The votes are rather one-sided and I'm tempted to close it and do the update, but I'll hold out a bit longer just in case B makes a miraculous comeback. I've prepared the updates for both. It'll be the last update for the prologue.

    Current tally:
    A - 13
    B - 3

    Edit: Your duty is to protect the prince if such a scenario occurs. It doesn't state that you absolutely must be by his side. As long as he is protected, your job is done. But if he isn't protected, and you are absent...

    As for distraction, you doubt turning your back on the woman to run once you've gotten her attention is a wise idea. It'd be a fatal idea. At least you might find some ways to surprise her in a fight, or drag things out long enough for circumstances to shift in your favor.
     
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  18. Kashmir Slippers Augur

    Kashmir Slippers
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    Ah. Thank you.
     
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  19. treave Arcane Patron

    treave
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    Hm, let's have the update then.

    ***

    A Parting with the Ashina

    Against your own better judgement, you circle around behind the woman in black. She is strong enough to defeat Huluzi in a few moves. She should be much stronger than you are. Perhaps it would be too much to hope that she would hold back against a boy in combat.

    You breathe in deeply.

    Your vision narrows.

    A mistake could mean the difference between life and death, but you feel strangely calm.

    Your breathing is composed. Slow. Just like Huluzi taught you. Step by step, you move towards the woman’s back.

    She is stretching her hand towards Yunzi. That obnoxious girl, on the other hand, is babbling loudly in Tujue and making a point not to look behind the woman. Yunzi has probably noticed your approach.

    Three more steps.

    The woman whirls around to face you, though you are sure that you have done nothing to give your presence away. It looks like your skill isn’t good enough after all. It’s do or die now - there’s no going back. You leap the last three steps, thrusting your short sword at your opponent.

    Your burst of speed in that three steps is enough to catch her by surprise, as she cannot do much more than dodge. The point of your blade catches the cloth covering her face as she spins away. Her mask is torn off.

    The woman underneath the mask does not seem that much older than you - she looks to be in her early twenties. Her features are beautiful but cold and cruel, marred only by a large red patch of skin that runs from under her right eye to her jaw. Her expression twists into one of hateful anger - you seem to be getting that a lot from females lately - as she jumps at you. You are not fast enough to escape her.

    The woman’s palm smashes into your chest. The pain is intense, radiating from the point of impact like thorns digging their way into your body. Blood wells up in your throat and mouth, causing you to choke. You feel yourself, but the pain has been replaced by numbness throughout your body. Your fingers fumble and drop your sword. Through the paralyzing haze, you can see the woman standing over you. There is a puzzled expression on her exquisite face as she glances at her palm.

    “Are you not the boy I killed when we came in?” she asks, but your tongue refuses to reply. “No matter. I will kill you before you can grow up to break a woman’s heart.” Frowning, she raises her hand to deliver the finishing strike.

    Yunzi latches onto the woman’s raised arm and bites into it.

    She screams, attempting to shake off the Ashina princess. The woman lands a few good blows on Yunzi, but none with that strange palm technique she used on you. Even when blood begins trickling down the girl’s face, she refuses to let go, continuously attempting to drag the woman down.

    Well, you can’t let that shrew one up you. You are not losing to her again. The haze begins to clear as sensation returns to your body. Of course, the sensation is that of terrible, excruciating pain. You grit your teeth and bear with it.

    You kick your foot out hard as the woman steps too close, catching her in the shin. At the same time, Yunzi lets go of her grip, taking advantage of the distraction to give a kick of her own. Her feet lodges solidly in the woman’s abdomen. Your enemy staggers backwards, black cloth trailing in front of her. Taking advantage of the respite, you clamber to your feet, grabbing your short sword as you do so. Your knees are shaking, feeling like they are about to give out at any moment.

    “That is impossible!” cries the woman as she sees you back on your feet. “No man has ever survived a second consecutive strike from my palm!”

    “He is no man!” retorts Yunzi, a bit too eagerly you think.

    “I would like it if you didn’t impugn my manhood on my behalf,” you offer weakly, still too dizzy to be too indignant about her veiled insult.

    “Is there anything there to impugn?” she shrugs.

    Suddenly, the woman laughs loudly, a crude, unhinged sound that is at odds with her beautiful appearance. “I see! I see it clearly now! My dear sister in misfortune, you have already been taken in by this boy. Young as he may be, he has deceived you with his silvery tongue. This will only end in tears, I know the pattern all too well! All men betray. I will do you a favour and kill him right now. You will thank me for it when you realize what foul intents he had.”

    Her eyes are wild and steeped in hate as she focuses on you, projecting some sort of misplaced anger about wrongs long past onto your innocent self. Yunzi has been taken in by you? Is the woman blind and deaf, or is she just mad? Mad or not, however, she is a formidable opponent. Even though you are standing more than ten paces away from her, the woman’s killing intent is unmistakable. You will not last a second against her in a straight fight, one on one. The sharpness of her intentions clears your head, however. That, at least, is a good thing.

    “Huluzi taught you the Yinglang Step, didn’t he?” whispers Yunzi. “Follow my lead.”

    “Is that an order?” you ask.

    “No, just a suggestion,” she replies with a tone that implies she’ll happily watch me rot in the hells if I don’t accept her suggestion.

    “Then you can follow my lead.” You compose yourself and run towards the woman first, ignoring the complaints of your creaking body. You can hear Yunzi cursing behind you. The woman’s face twists gleefully as she prepares to strike at the silly boy coming straight at her.

    You recall what Huluzi attempted earlier.

    Crouching down low, you dart to the right at the very last moment. As the woman turns to follow you, Yunzi dashes to the left, having shadowed your steps closely. She immediately begins unleashing a flurry of attacks. The woman blocks her strikes expertly - Yunzi’s Langya Fist is nowhere near Huluzi’s level in strength and speed, and she dealt with that easily - but in that brief instant she is forced to take her eyes off you.

    Your sword flashes in a deadly arc. Unfortunately, the woman retracts her left arm at the moment she sees your swing begin - that is the only thing that prevents you from taking that limb off at the shoulder. You draw blood, the tip of your blade opening a gash in her upper arm. Grimacing, she bends her elbow and strikes at your sword hand like a snake - her fingers jab into the back of your palm. This causes your hand to open reflexively, dropping the sword.

    At the same time, the woman’s right arm breaks past the princess’s attacks and reaches out for her throat. You react instantly and pivot on one foot, swivelling around so that you can grab Yunzi’s waist-sash. “Watch your guard, you idiot girl!” you yell as you pull her towards you, out of harm’s way. “You watch yourself, you stupid boy!” Shouting at you in a decidedly unladylike manner, Yunzi pushes you down as the woman’s palm narrowly misses your head while your back is still facing the enemy.

    You feel Yunzi step onto the palm of your hand uninvited; with a push, you help her soar above the woman’s head. The woman instinctively reaches up to pull Yunzi down, but you grab her rising hand and pull, using your shoulder as leverage. As the woman’s feet lift off the ground, Yunzi lands with an acrobatic backflip and throws a rising kick that lands solidly in the small of the woman’s back, pushing her even further upwards.

    You finish the combination by hurling the woman over your shoulder with all your might. Helped along by Yunzi’s kick, you should slam her into the ground with considerable force, enough to leave her dazed.

    You feel the woman’s arm twist as she dislocates her own shoulder. She lands on her feet, with her limp arm still in your grasp. With a murderous smile, the woman strikes you. You feel a third palm hit you where the previous two had. This time the pain is even more intense than the last. You fly backwards, knocking Yunzi down as she gives out a short yelp. Your internal organs feel thoroughly shaken by the force of her attack - you cannot find it in you to even blink your eyelids. Yunzi tries frantically to get out from under you, but she doesn’t have any strength left to lift you up.

    You cannot hear anything but a ringing in your ears. You can only watch as the woman calmly resets her dislocated arm without any change in her happy expression.

    A light shower begins to fall over the camp, hissing wherever it strikes fire. You feel a vague coldness chilling you to the bone.

    The woman shouts something gleefully, though she appears to be breathing rather heavily. Her posture isn’t as powerful and threatening as it was. Of course, she is still strong enough to end your life with a single blow.

    You try to shift yourself again. If you’re going to die, you don’t want to die on top of that stupid scrawny girl scrabbling pointlessly under you. That would be humiliating.

    Again, her palm rises.

    Again, someone interferes.

    Li Shun barrels into the woman shoulder first, knocking her to the ground. Your worst fears begin to materialize.

    This is not good.

    She grabs hold of his wrist and twists it - you see his arm bend at an unnatural angle.

    This is not good at all.

    Your life is meant to be burnt away to make Shun’s journey brighter. If he dies, you will be devoid of meaning in the eyes of the Emperor. If he dies, all that is left for you would be to get yourself fitted for a coffin to accompany Shun to the underworld.

    If that is the case, you might as well die trying to save him. One last good deed, as it were.

    Your limbs twitch as you force your body back up, straining against limits that you have never noticed. Every tendon in your body convulses in agony, every nerve screaming in pain, as you push the muscles in your body to work for your own selfish desires.

    For the third time, you rise from the woman’s attack.

    She sees you standing and freezes up, disbelief and uncertainty in her eyes. Then, her gaze flickers, pointing somewhere behind you. You hear faint shouts and the sound of bowstrings drawn taut. Giving you a hateful glare, the woman jumps backwards and disappears into the darkness.

    You try to take a step towards Shun, who is kneeling in the mud, but your legs refuse to move.

    Is he alive?

    Your question is answered a brief second later as he looks up at you and smiles, just as cheerfully as ever. Cradling his broken arm, he gets up unsteadily. Your knees give way as you sink to the cold ground in relief. You are given a start when you feel a warm but skinny back push up against your own.

    “You make a lousy partner,” Yunzi mutters tiredly.

    “Do they teach the Ashina to dance like bulls?” you reply, your own voice cracking and weak. You are getting sleepy as the adrenaline drains from your body. Even the pain doesn’t seem like it can keep you awake.

    “Ah, this must be your renowned silvery tongue that the madwoman spoke of.” Yunzi laughs lightly, the first time you have heard her do so. Her laughter is high and clear, unlike the bellowing guffaws of her father.

    “It is an impressive tongue. Are you deceived yet?” You try to taunt her intellect with as much as you can muster.

    “Only in your dreams,” she bites back, with real venom in her voice.

    “Did I miss something?” asks Shun as he staggers over, looking down at you and Yunzi sitting back-to-back with open amusement.

    “You missed plenty, but you won’t be missing my execution. You shouldn't have come back for me. It's just a waste of your arm.” You give Shun a guilty, apologetic grin as you make a weak gesture at his arm. Shun shakes his head, “It’ll be alright. You’ll be fine.” Of course, you know that he is lying. You have allowed his royal body to be harmed - that will not be taken lightly by the Emperor. The Duke of Xiliang arrives in full armour and an escort of a dozen soldiers, his expression seething with barely restrained anger. If Shun were not the Crown Prince and future Emperor of the Tang dynasty, you think the duke would probably have screamed a furious lecture at him on the merits of not being a reckless idiot. Surprisingly, he does not even spare you, the reckless idiot, a glance.

    So, that is how it is, you think.

    You close your weary eyes.

    The rain continues to fall.

    ***

    You can barely move the next morning - only enough to hobble painfully and slowly. Huluzi survived, regaining consciousness once the fight was over; there are fresh pink scars all over his burnt body, and his complexion is sickly and pale, but at least he is moving about more actively than you are.

    “You will always be a welcome friend at our tribe,” says Bulun as he claps both of your shoulders with his big hands. You wince in pain, finding it in yourself to still bring out a smile. “I thought I would be as good as family,” you joke.

    “Oh, that comes eventually,” he whispers conspiratorially. “Once you’ve married Yunzi. No need to rush things, eh?”

    Your face drops into a frown. “I am sorry, great khan, but your daughter really has no interest in marrying me. It would not work out, and I fear you would only waste your valuable time on such fanciful notions.”

    Bulun’s grin widens. “Funny. That sounds just like what she said to me earlier this morning. Yunzi told me very clearly that you are not interested in her.”

    “She is absolutely right. That is the only point on which we will ever agree,” you offer, in hopes that the khan will finally listen.

    Bulun stares at you and sighs heavily. He looks slightly dejected. “Very well, I won’t press the issue any further. Before we part ways, there is one last thing.” He beckons to Huluzi, who walks over calmly and holds out his hand. In his palm lies a single sharp fang hanging from a woven string. There is a single symbol carved on it in Tujue script.

    “A wolf’s fang,” says Huluzi. “Engraved upon it is the word for ‘sky’, the symbol of the Ashina. Keep it with you and remember that you are an eternal friend to the descendants of the wolf. Should you call, we will answer.” You accept the rare amulet gratefully, bowing your head as you do so. "Will you be alright?" asks Huluzi, his piercing gaze focused upon you knowingly. You bow your head again. "I will be fine."

    You know that you will not return here again.

    ***

    The Duke of Xiliang stands aside, letting you hobble back into the carriage painfully. He no longer looks at you in an angry and contemptuous way; now, his gaze is that of a man looking dispassionately at a dying dog by the side of the street.

    You understand that you fully deserve every last bit of that look. Shun’s arm was broken. The Crown Prince’s arm was broken in attempting to rescue his companion, the boy who was to serve as both his friend and protector. Mere lashes will not suffice to express the depths of your failure. There will be a reckoning.

    Of course, you could run. You could even stay with the Ashina, who would be more than pleased to shelter you. The Imperial Court would not risk their new-found allies over a foolish, incompetent servant.

    But that is not what your oath allows. That is not the full measure of your loyalty.

    The Emperor bought you. Shun owns you. No matter what comes, that is a fundamental truth of your being that will never change.

    Duty and punishment come hand in hand. To shirk one and expect to escape the other is something you can never allow for yourself.

    That is the fate you have made with your own hands.

    That is the price you pay to continue living.


    ---PROLOGUE END---
     
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  20. treave Arcane Patron

    treave
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    Punishment and Exile

    First came the beatings. One hundred strikes with a large stick. By the end of it, your back was torn and bleeding, your bones cracked in a dozen different places. The scars would be permanent.

    Next was the stockade. Before you had fully recovered, you were manacled to a wooden stockade in the middle of a market square for a week. Day after day, you were pelted with the finest of Chang’an’s produce. Rotten, wormy cabbages and slimy, stinking eggs were just the least of their selections.

    Then, while the Emperor thought about which part of you he should cut off and how slow the torturer should go while doing it, you were thrown in the Cold Dungeon without a stitch to wear. It was named such due to its construction - the walls were chilly even in summer, freezing in winter. The only thing the guards allowed you, in their infinite mercy, was the wolf’s fang amulet you had received from the Ashina.

    You stir from your stupor, shuddering from the coldness of the fang resting against your chest. The wounds inflicted by the woman in black have almost healed, though you still feel a shortness of breath every now and then. Your punishment hasn’t been conducive to a speedy recovery. There is a creak of wood on metal as the cell door opens.

    Prince Shun walks in, wrapped up warmly in wool and silk and carrying a bunch of rags in his hands. There are melting white flakes on his hair and shoulders - it has started snowing outside. Of course, it makes no difference to you in here; the cell is as frigid as ever. He tosses the rags at you. “I do not want to have to look at your shrivelled...ness.. while talking to you.”

    You laugh, grateful for any warmth that you can get. Wrapping the rags around yourself, you ask Shun, “Have they decided on the last punishment, then?”

    “It looks like they’re going with the pig.”

    You wince. “Searing my ears, clipping my tongue, and then throwing me into a pigsty for the male boars to have their way with me for a month? I don’t think I’ll be very useful to you after that.”

    “His Majesty says you will still be able to read and write, and as such, only marginally less useless than you are right now. As your friend, I petitioned him for the dragon, but you are too low-born to get such a consideration.”

    “Hey now, you really want my head mounted in your study?”

    “It’d be nice to see you all the time, though I suppose you wouldn’t be a sparkling conversationalist then.”

    “Absolutely not, unless you can figure out a way to have my head recite the Classics to you.”

    With a laugh, Shun sits down opposite you, ignoring the dirt and grime on the ground.

    “So, why are you really here?” You cut straight to the point of his visit. You know he didn’t come for a meaningless chat.

    “We still have no leads on the people who attacked the Ashina camp that night or what their true aim was,” Shun says, nodding. “The woman who broke my arm was clearly a master from the Central Plains, but by all accounts she is not a member of any orthodox sect.”

    “I wouldn’t think so, from her behaviour and moves,” you agree. “but it is possible that she disguised her stances.”

    “That is true,” the prince admits. “Unfortunately we do not have much contact with the pugilistic world; the Emperor has been content to let them do as they wish for years while he hides away with his little superstitious toys. That old fool.”

    “Well, he bought me because of what those toys told him. And he might just be right, I mean, look at my luck.”

    Shun looks exasperated as he grabs you by the shoulders. “I have told you this many times, Jing. You are not cursed with bad luck. All you are is a person who has encountered misfortune, and there is no evidence that will happen till the day you die. You are focusing overwhelmingly on the bad things that happen to you and not the good - that is why you think your luck is poor. Superstitious nonsense is going to drag our country into the grave, and I don’t need that from you of all people.”

    “Wait, you don’t believe in the gods or ghosts, then?” you grin. You know he is deathly scared of ghosts.

    “Well, no. I mean, I do believe in gods, and ghosts. But I don’t believe that fate controls us. We are what we make of ourselves,” mutters Shun. “I would rather work the fields than pray to the Jade Emperor for good fortune. Anyway, we are meandering from the point. Shut up and listen for a bit, Jing.”

    “Yes, Your Highness.” You clam up.

    “If the martial arts sects are getting involved in palace politics, this bodes ill. Their strength is considerable; even if we marshalled all of our armies at the moment, we would not be able to subdue them without a bloodbath on both sides. If we are weakened, well…” He looks at the wolf’s fang hanging from your neck.

    “I suppose the Tujue would take advantage. We cannot afford to force the sects to comply,” you reason. “The sects themselves know it.”

    “Yes,” nods Shun. “But I don’t think we can afford to do nothing either. I don’t have many resources I can call on right now, and only one resource I can trust.”

    You grasp what he is saying immediately. “You are sending me to investigate the sects?”

    “Secretly, I suppose. Or rather, I want you to infiltrate the pugilistic world.”

    “What about my punishment, then?”

    “Thankfully, it all works out. I have expressed my displeasure to the Emperor about your performance, but due to your prior history of service and depth of bonds with me, I do not want you hurt. Well, any more than you already are. As far as the palace is concerned, you will be barred from ever setting sight on its gates again upon pain of death,” explains the prince.

    “That is rather lenient,” you say. "Are you sure that is alright?"

    “It does mean that we probably won’t be able to contact each other until I take the throne and give you an official pardon. I don't expect to hear from you for a few years, at least... we will be planning for the future with this move. It is not an easy decision for me to make, and I had to call in many favours and promise even more. Still, it was either this, or letting you be a pig’s whore.”

    You sigh. “Are you sure about this, Shun? You will be alone in the palace, and I don’t mean in terms of companionship. I could watch your back even with a clipped tongue and a sore posterior.”

    “I know that, but… this has to be done. I need you to do this. I can find people to watch my back out of self-interest, but I cannot find another friend who I can trust to act for my best interests without supervision, out there in the world. Don’t worry. I know how to handle myself. I have provisioned for you some supplies and a map. Furthermore, there is an admission letter that will gain you entrance to the major orthodox sects that have a tentative understanding with the Imperial Court.” Shun pulls out the letter in question and a list of places where it would be applicable.

    “You seem really prepared,” you say. This is as close to an actual order as you have ever heard him give you, and you do not plan to disobey. You owe Shun that much. If doing your loyal duty means that you have to part from him, so be it. You resolve yourself to leaving the capital.

    “Time is of the essence, Jing. You will be leaving tonight, before the Emperor changes his mind. Where do you plan to go?”

    You look at the list…

    ***

    A. Shaolin Temple. Renowned as the originator of martial arts in the Central Plains, the Buddhist monks of Shaolin are known for their ability with unarmed fighting and staves. Some of the most powerful martial arts can be found in Shaolin. However, they have extremely strict rules, and frequently expel those who cannot abide by their laws.

    B. Wudang Sect. The Taoist priests on Mount Wudang have developed techniques based around Taiji. Harmonizing yin and yang, Wudang emphasizes mastery of balance as its initiates learn how to redirect the flow of their opponent’s attacks. Sword and unarmed techniques are the staple of Wudang.

    C. Huashan Sect. The noble swordsmen of Mount Hua have trained long and hard to develop their reputation as one of the most powerful sects in the pugilistic world. Their weapon techniques are malleable and flexible, and their masters are reputed to be lethal swordsmen even with a stick in hand. Though the sword is the sect’s main focus, they also dabble in sabers and spears.

    D. Beggars’ Sect. The beggars are a widespread union that spans the entirety of the country. Beggars’ Sect members can be found in every city, and their information network is unmatched. You have to become a beggar to join. The Beggars’ Sect emphasizes staves, thrown weapons and unarmed fighting in their techniques.

    E. You will not join any of the recommended major sects - the woman who participated in the attack was likely from the darker side of the pugilistic world. Exploring on your own could yield better results than seeking out the orthodox sects. You will wander the roads yourself, enjoy your freedom, and see what you can find out on your adventures. It would be more interesting than begging or being stuck on a mountain with stupid rules for a couple of years anyway.
     
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  21. treave Arcane Patron

    treave
    Joined:
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    Messages:
    11,294
    Codex 2012
    There will be plenty training to be had, but you will not be stuck to these sects for good. You could be an unrepentant rule-breaker and get excommunicated by your master, for example.

    This vote will be open for two days.
     
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  22. Smashing Axe Arcane Patron

    Smashing Axe
    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2011
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    Divinity: Original Sin
    B>E>D
    What would have happened if we went with B in the last choice? We go to his side immediately, but the woman follows us after dispatching of Yunzi and the Prince gets injured?

    In regards to this choice, I'd rather focus on the sects that compliment our skills already. Unarmed and sword combined sounds like a pretty good combo, and redirecting the flow of an opponent's attacks sounds like it'd go well with our agility. The Beggars are pretty tempting too, since I like the idea of us having a roguey skillset to balance our fighting. And wandering by ourselves, saying screw the rules, I'm going to learn this on my own, has a ring to it that suits our hero's personality and sign. That said... wandering the world our own way sounds like it relies on a lot of luck. So...
     
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  23. Kashmir Slippers Augur

    Kashmir Slippers
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    Location:
    Here, obviously
  24. treave Arcane Patron

    treave
    Joined:
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    Messages:
    11,294
    Codex 2012
    In B, you make a hasty retreat, due to your poor luck the woman notices you, Yunzi notices you, but the woman doesn't go after you because she would rather kidnap Yunzi. Which she does. I think you can guess for yourself what ramifications that might have down the road for our hero's personal life, given the woman's rantings. :lol:

    You would not have been forced out of the palace, but the prince would come with this offer anyway since he needs someone he can trust to infiltrate this other world that has just rudely meshed with the byzantine internal politics of the Imperial Court. It would be up to you whether you accepted or not at that point, though I'd say staying in the palace would have turned out to be a bad idea anyway, Codex and intrigue don't mash too well.

    Of course, having a staunch ally in the Ashina tribe will prove useful down the road...

    edit: You will be getting the opportunity to improve your physical stats directly (besides luck), reflecting your growth as you age. Picking a different choice here will give you a different selection of ways to improve your stats - basically the stat growth won't be the same for each sect.

    There will be two such chances given throughout the LP - the rest will have to be sought out or encountered.
     
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  25. Tigranes Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Tigranes
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    Messages:
    9,401
    Told you so.

    I imagine i will say that several more times over the next few updates
     
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