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


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The adviser Kuai Liang coughed uncomfortably and replied, “You have too many problems to focus on Jiangxia alone: that’s why you’ve given such autonomy to Huang Zu.”
“That’s not a helpful response,” Liu Biao said when he realised that Kuai Liang had nothing more to say. “Do the Pang brothers, or your brother Yue, or maybe Wang Can, Fu Xun, Han Song… has anyone got a useful word for me…?”
The politician Han Song smiled and said, “Perhaps we might ask the Han court to do something about Sun Ce…?”
“Mister Han Song, that is absurd: the Han court - Cao Cao, in truth - has branded us as rebels for ‘sheltering’ Zhang Xiu,” the young adviser Wang Can said.
“How dare you call my suggestion ‘absurd’, Wang Can!” Han Song retorted. “How dare you call anything absurd, when-!”
“When I find the sounds and faces of donkeys to be a comfort,” Wang Can sighed. “I can little hope to reach the heights of fame for anything else, can I…? I can little hope to have my very sound advice taken seriously when men like you can simply throw that irrelevant fact at me! I had only expected my young age to be an obstacle, but now I am twenty-two, and I am still heckled when I try to make a valid point. I am trying to keep the discussion within a sensible boundary: your suggestion was absurd, Mister Han Song, because Cao Cao feels that we did nothing to expel Zhang Xiu - a man that he deeply hates for the personal losses that Zhang inflicted upon him - and no amount of cheap jokes at my expense will change that fact into a fiction.”
The politician Fu Xun smiled and said, “My last heckles happened yesterday, and risk of shame will keep them there.”
Han Song laughed and said, “I am rightly humbled, Mister Wang. Like the lord, I am reaching for hopes. Cao Cao would never help us… and no, I won’t suggest Liu Zhang. What about calling upon men from the ‘four semi-autonomous prefectures’…?”

The politician Huan Jie nodded and said, “That might be an idea: if we were to ‘suggest’ to them - and let’s be realistic, gentlemen, and say that it would be less a lie and more a prophecy - that Sun Ce will turn his attentions to Lingling, Changsha, Guiyang and maybe even Wuling when he is finished with Jiangxia… then we might solicit offers of military aid.”
“Unfortunately, Mister Huan, those regions lack real generals or militias,” the adviser Kuai Yue said.
“…Sadly correct,” Liu Biao agreed. “And besides, I get enough regular reports from those regions to know that they’re under constant pressure from tribal activity.”
There was a short silence, after which Kuai Yue said, “I think that we are wasting time by looking for allies. Yuan Shao is the only man that has the resources to aid our fight with Sun Ce, and everybody knows that he is planning to attack Xuchang and secure His Majesty.”
“…Lord and brother-in-law, we should just remain as we are, and hope that Huang Zu recovers some of the spirit that made him a valuable ally in years past,” Cai Mao suggested. “It has to be said that he excels at defence, so we will not lose Jiangxia.”
Liu Biao smiled and said, “That’s the first useful words! I should be telling Huang Zu to get every last man that he has harassing Yuzhang to withdraw to Jiangxia and aid the fortification of the place. I’ll write at once…”

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