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


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“…Fine,” Liu Xun said. “You will be glad to hear that I have no intention of harming Yuan’s children or you, despite your needlessly offending me: you’ll be returned to your quarters, where I hope that you’ll do some thinking. GUARDS!
I think only of what might have been!” Yang Hong said as he was led away. “Enjoy your brief grip on power, Liu Xun: your own arrogance will soon rob you of it!
“…Demented imbecile,” Liu Xun grumbled. “…Still, I have Zhang Xun: what, then, does Sun Ce intend to do, I wonder…?”

Yuan Shu’s former adviser, Yan Xiang, was intercepted in Yu Province as he travelled along a quiet road with his small retinue: he was taken to a nearby military camp and eventually brought before Cao Cao’s adviser Xun Yòu, who had hurried to the camp from the Han capital Xuchang to learn of Yan’s intentions.
“Well, well,” Xun Yòu chuckled. “Who’d have thought that the devious Yan Xiang would end up being captured so easily…? Have you come to donate your head to His Excellency, as Mister Han Yin did before you, or join him as Yuan Huan has done…?”
“People speak of ‘wise Xun Gongda’,” Yan Xiang said politely. “I hope that I have heard correctly.”
“I don’t know which people you refer to,” Xun Yòu retorted. “Why were you aimlessly wandering, Mister Yan…? Your master is dead, so what is your plan?”
“…I’m not sure,” Yan Xiang replied. “He passed away as I was on my way here… I learned of it as I crossed the border. I had hoped to find friends among the men that he inspired, I suppose…”
“The Yellow Turbans of Runan…?” Xun Yòu prompted.
“Liu Pi, leader of the former Yellow Turbans of Runan,” Yan Xiang replied. “My lord was not inclined to ally himself with cultists.”
“But he was inclined to declaring himself as an alternative sovereign,” Xun Yòu challenged. “And you, Mister Yan, were happy to serve him regardless.”

“I remonstrated, Mister Xun,” Yan Xiang insisted. “Time and time again, I remonstrated, but he had astrologers that observed celestial changes, political analysts that saw enduring weakness in the successive Han courts that spanned many decades, and his own personal belief that the Han were doomed.”
“…And you did not entirely agree with him…?” Xun Yòu prompted.
“The Han is weak, but the question is whether the answer is to kill the patient to ‘end their suffering’ or give them medicine in order to help them recover,” Yan Xiang replied carefully. “I have always been an advocate of trying medicine before resorting to other things. Lord Yuan was being guided by the wrong voices, many of them in his own head, and that is very sad, since he was once a valiant hero that rode into the imperial palace, side-by-side with his brother, to slaughter the ‘Ten’ and save the same dynasty that he later came to torment.”
Xun Yòu smirked and said, “I suspect that you are bargaining for your life.”
“If you want to kill me, kill me,” Yan Xiang retorted. “If my life had been paramount, Mister Xun, I would have deserted Lord Yuan, not do everything I could to preserve him and the stable, prosperous state that he had built… a state that now teeters at a precipice as villains vie for it. Sometimes a much-needed ‘balancing force’ can take an unusual form, and it must not be dismissed for being imperfect.”

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