Eastern Wu: Realm of the Sun Clan sample (Act I) -- T. P. M. Thorne


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“…True,” Bofu replied. “Cao Cao could surprise us all and be a benevolent guardian for the emperor.”
Lü Fan smiled and said, “Perhaps.”
“…But all this talk about Yuan Shao just makes me think about Yuan Shu more and more, and about Father, and… and what happened to him,” Bofu admitted. “And when I do that, I think about Liu Biao… and how I hate his kinsman Liu Xun for dragging me away from Jing, where I was so close to avenging Dad…!”

Sun Jian’s Jing Province campaign was not a personal one: he had no quarrel with Liu Biao, but orders were orders. Sun did as he was told, and Liu Biao was soon placed under such pressure that there was only one solution if he did not want to cede the province to Yuan Shu: he ordered his followers to find a way to rid Jing of Sun Jian, even if that meant killing him by underhanded means. Liu Biao’s powerful ally, Huang Zu, lured Sun Jian into an ambush and killed him; that ended Yuan Shu’s Jing campaign and placed the role of Sun clan patriarch in the hands of Bofu’s cousin Sun Ben, since Bofu was considered to be too young and inexperienced. The Sun clan’s militia retreated to Yang Province, but the unsympathetic Yuan Shu was only interested in what service his human ‘property’ could still provide; in addition to that, Liu Biao’s unapologetic stance left Bofu and his allies embittered and determined that Liu - and, if at all possible, Yuan Shu - would suffer for their attitudes somehow in the years to come.

“…The feud with Liu Biao will have to wait,” Lü Fan insisted. “Right now, we-”
“Yeah, yeah, I know… we have to focus on Liu Xun, and what’s left of Yuan Shu’s following,” Bofu grumbled. “…I still can’t believe that Zhang Xun let himself be talked into going to Lujiang! Why didn’t he come here…?”
“Who knows,” Gongjin replied. “If he survives this, we’ll ask him.”
“He was always loyal to Yuan Shu… even after ‘that’,” Bofu sighed. “In a way, I shouldn’t forgive him, but…”

When Bofu came of age, he demanded that Sun Ben - whose late father was Sun Jian’s twin brother - relinquish control of the clan to him; regardless of whether Ben was glad to be relieved of the burden of dealing with Yuan Shu or it was genuine willingness to see Bofu inherit his father’s role, the wish was granted. Bofu then confronted Yuan Shu and demanded the return of his father’s men, to which the response was ridicule: the young, untested Bofu would need to prove his worth first by showing that he could raise an army of his own, a task which Yuan Shu dismissed as impossible. Bofu so impressed his father’s surviving allies - Cheng Pu, Huang Gai, Han Dang and Zhu Zhi - that they joined his cause: Bofu had started to gather his own allies as well, including Gongjin, Lü Fan and a number of enthusiastic relatives. The new militia’s first battle was with the local bandit king Zu Lang, who almost killed Bofu before retreating: the outcome impressed Yuan Shu enough to consider giving ‘the boy’ assignments, although the ambitious Shu continued to seek greater service from Sun Ben and Sun Jian’s brother-in-law Wu Jing.
     The first of Bofu’s campaigns would be to seize Lujiang Prefecture in northern Yang Province from its Han-appointed Administrator, Lu Kang: the elderly Kang had rebuked Sun Jian and his son for taking orders from Yuan Shu, and a ‘past offence’ - Lu Kang having refused to see Bofu as he returned from Jing with his father’s coffin - gave Bofu the ‘reason’ that he needed in order to carry out his mission.

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