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5 days ago
Current The end of the Second Great American Blood Sport gonna be like youtu.be/UsiMPRcTJwA
12 days ago
NRP be like: "last post: one-hundred years ago."
2 likes
12 days ago
@Ebon - It'll never end, just sleep. roleplayerguild.com/topics/…
1 like
16 days ago
The reason so many marriages fail is because the newly weds and their family aren't forming sacrificial mobs to kill the bourgeoisie as the ancestors of yore for the Eternal Goddesses of Nature.
3 likes
18 days ago
Also yams and sweet potatoes cooked in various ways, steamed mashed, fried, so on, or in a whole other dish.
2 likes

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Hold your shivering, and draw close the blankets. Sit and be still, for here is how the world came to be.

In the beginning, there was nothing but void, fire, and water. In the vast sea of emptiness, its deep crystal depths was the realm called Nadania. It held nothing, and was nothing. To its north rushed sea, Agaelia. Its rough waves were bright as silver and foamed; heavy and salty it rushed west through Nadania. On the south of Nadania, there was the fire: Pyrosyna.

Nadania, though vast and shapeless offered no resistance to either fire or water, and both forces met. In a crash the universe was filled with a mighty volcanic roar as sea and fire met. The two forces fought one another in violent conflict. Splashed over and under one another in long suffering spasms and devouring. They battled up other one another. With waves of water and fire racing up and up. Waves rose like pillars into the dark sky, as the illumination of the sparks from Pyrosyna shot towards heaven with the screaming and yowling of fire works. In the mad chaos of their battle, the fire got the upper hand as the brilliance of its embers rose into the sky forming flares of stars whose light was hot and boiled the great seat away until it was steam and cloud that softly spread over the battlefield as it quieted and settled. In the wake of either combat were vast deserts of ashen gray landscape illuminated by the weak fires of the stars overhead.

In the haze the ground cracked and sputtered as the latent hear brooded and fermented. Over distant horizons the endless fire sea of Pyrosyna sputtered and burned on. While opposite the endless depths of Agaelia churned and lashed against the sea. But the vast emptiness was beaten, and the baking embers over head warmed the world. The clouds released from the confrontation rained upon the sooty earth. The rain drops boiled and steaming from the ashen ground and rose again as mist in the sky. The great lashing dunes of the elemental battle were eroded.

As the dunes flattened, the shoulders of great giants shifted. Lifting their heads from the blackened earth rose the great Blando Pelliedo Grondas, the White Giants. Two by two they emerged from their dunes as the rains washed over them. Standing naked in their great bleak and gray world they looked out at the the new creation of the world and realized its emptiness. They gathered together, and realizing the bleakness of the world sought to build something out of it. They reached to the ashen ground and brushed aside the mud and the slop and pulled out the clay. In their hands they molded and formed, creating the world around them.

They created great mountains, built celestial palaces. They set to the sea of the north and the fires of the south and laid out great bridges. They brought fire to their mountains and opened forges. They brought water to the troughs and filled great seas. They reached for the stars and brought down great shimmering gemstones and metals which they spun into the veins and bones of great creatures, packed them tight with clay and forged life. They worked with a silent innocence and love for all that they touched and their works filled the sky as it did the ground. They sat at their benches, their heads in vast clouds and hammered into creation great works. In every move they made they put in their love and their life.

For eons they worked. Until so much of their love and life was spent that the great giants fell back from their tables and died. Their creations mourned them. Their bodies were buried in the great earth. From their bodies came a last creation as they rotted, green life came into existence and astonishment came to the world. The halls of their palaces were filled with luscious forests. The taming of the seas became home to great forests of kelp. And the premier of their creation, the dragons looked down upon it all.




The first boot touched the ashen shore with a muffled thud as the long boat came to a stop. Around the sailors an eerie snow was settling over the landscape. Behind them was held a silent sea. A light wind blowing from over the horizon held a gentle lapping of the waves but nothing more as the longboats unloaded unto the shore. For the better part of three days the detachment at open sea had prowled along the coast of this island in search of an ideal landing spot. They had in the end found it at the furthest tip of a great bay, guarded at the one end by a large island. Exhausted and legs wobbly from months at sea the sailors and marines finally once again felt dry land.

“Santiago.” hailed a sailor. He turned back to the men getting off the boat and in a dour tone spoke, “Once you get your land legs back take a group of men and scout the surrounding area, establish a picket.”

The sailor, dressed in a loose fitting shirt and a leather tunic nodded. He leaned on the long pole of a pike as he staggered ahead a short distance and fell down in the cold sand to rest. Moving quickly the commanding sailor helped men and equipment get onto land, pulling the boats further ashore so what little tide there was would not pull them again out to sea. After several minutes passed of walking and stretching many of the marines and sailors were just losing their sea legs and a patrol was sent out. Many of the others moved by habit to move up to the dunes and highland overlooking the beach to find cover from the elements in the immense oaks, mangrove, and fading palms of the shore line.

Things moved along as more and more boats landed ashore. The commanding sailor fell in with a recovering group of men as they helped them along. From these boats came various ill and famished sailors, pale as a winter's gale and their gums bleeding. Scurvy. Helped by the doctors and surgeons of the ship they were moved up on their stretchers to the high beach where they laid out and a fire lit to keep them warm.

“If we do not find some fruit soon, I fear for them, don.” said a surgeon in gray formality, “They are well advanced.”

Scurvy was by no means an unknown ailment, or one hard to treat. Everyone knew this. But it lifted a weight off the old surgeons chest as he brushed his graying bird and turned to look back to the sea. Adrift in steel gray waters still as a mirror's edge sat five immense hulks. Three packed levels of canon deck and perhaps enough stores to sail around the world, though none have thought to try it; many things aboard a ship has a tendency of going sour. But he looked at those boats not as a promise for some great deal or potential but as a nursery for plague and disease which had long haunted them over their trip no matter how much they tried to chase it off with gunpowder and burning incense. Of the original number of the crew, fifteen to forty men each aboard each ship had died many more convalesced by one disease or another, least of them was scurvy. There were plenty more aboard the dank decks feared too sick to move still.

“I already put out the orders for a patrol. If we find any fruit in the area they'll be the first to receive it.”

The surgeon nodded and his eyes shone with a hint of gratefulness. He wandered off to tend to his patients as the commanding sailor stood to look out at the operations coming to shore.

Many things were coming to order. It had to, the officers of the fleet had spent the last two days making a plan of operations for when they would find a suitable spot. They had sailed past plenty of coast and wave-breaking cliffs since finding this land. They knew little of what might possibly be here, though more than a few ruins of fortresses seemed to have been perched high above the ocean cliffs. Their walls looked as sturdy and bleak as the gray granite escarpments that met the waves. On this island though they did not see much of the sort from the sea.

From the great boats was launched one more longboat. The sailor stood erect and crossed his hands behind his back as he saw it make its approach. A great red banner flew from it. A golden canopy covered the hull. He could see the shine of full armor dress as the men aboard shone in the eerie low sunlight. The oars of the boat beat at the waves as it crawled in towards the shore where the men now were working. The sounds of axes struck the breezy air and the first trees were beginning to gall. Clearing was under way and soon would rise the first of the tents. The sailor knew a number of engineers would be at work surveying the area to begin work on initial fortifications; who knew what lived in this land with them now.

As the dressed boat neared close to shore the sailor stepped back onto the beach and towards the wash to greet it. He came up to the waves just as its bow hit the shore and the first armored boots sunk into the moistened gravel and sand. The wood growled as it pulled across the wave washed pebbles as the men aboard stepped out. The sailor bowed low to the commanding figure who stepped onto land.

“Don deGrand.” the sailor greeted the tall lithe figure under the wide brim of a flapping hat, struck with a long gray feather, “Welcome to a whole new world.”

The lithe man, his skin sun kissed and his features sharp and emaciated through hardened stretched skin smiled down at his officer through bright blue eyes. “The pleasure is yours.” he said softly, “You were the first to land.”

Laughing the two grabbed each other by the forearm and pulled each other close. Sir Gabraldi, or Domi Gabraldi Samprosio SantoSillisia DiCorlone gazed out expectantly at the land they had come to. His eyes were filled with the religious fervor of finding the moon and setting it free again, where ever it might be. This land, he thought to himself as he scanned the shore looked as though in better times it would have been a tropical paradise full of heavenly birds with the potential for much wealth. But under current conditions, the mood was dampened and the possibilities were scant. He may be able to put potatoes and corn into the ground and expect to feed his men with that much. But to again taste coffee and rich Sanerican Oranges were a luxury long dormant even now. Men lived, but they did not thrive. All were forced to be monks. These days were good for Heaven, to receive so many pure souls who did not need to wade the fires of Hell for so long to clear their souls and minds before they stood on the gates of eternal resplendence or blissful reincarnation. But what joy was there in the meantime, except drunkenness or suicide?

In contrast to the lithe gentleness of Domi Gabraldi was his minor officer, the commanding sailor Fussolino Falango Rumero diCapal. A short stacked figure whose graying features were bruised and scared from a number of fights and scuffles on the grand endeavor he was on. His black beard salted with hints of white and gray and growing wild. His pale gray eyes shaded under the visor of his polished helmet. He wore his musket on his back, a long precise Perto sword at his hip on which rested a heavy gloved hand, while at the other hung a pouch of already wrapped packs of powder and shot.

The two strolled together up the beach as sailors and marines worked around them. On their expedition they had acquired many different hands. The expedition itself was no longer simply one from and for Sandovarra. While the king still financed the effort, even more so as it produced tribute for his court, manning it was no longer a prerogative of the court itself. Disgraced nobles or overzealous schemers still come to the expedition to seek redemption, but they do not fill the entire ranks. From shore to shore the expedition established many foot holds, or many offices and consulates in foreign lands. Under the red-gold dragon banner of the King of Sandovarra many were offered council or guidance, or hooked fully into the expedition as it seized principalities for trying to excise it. As such, the laboring hands of the expedition were numerous in size and shape. Men and women blue-blooded and not came to be a part of the expedition and they toiled and labored here on the beach to set the next step in its long mission. Children even had been born to it, and these Expediodarra helped pull the labor, doing the simple things.

Fires were lit to help against the alien biting chill and the two officers surveyed their future encampment. Gabraldi was pleased to see they had found such an ideal bay. The distant small island at its mouth was not far off either and could be seen as a thin strip behind the great masted ships. At a future point, such an island would become an ideal location for fortifications. From that point guns could look out over the steel gray waters and hold off hostile ships. In a more ambitious future, a chain might be pulled up from the sea to seal the water off and break the hull of any hostile vessel seeking to land in their bay. And from the inland they were guarded by the forests and wilderness where any attacking army would have to struggle against first before he could muster an army to hold them at land. The site of a river mouth opening into the sea opening the potential for an inland route for any advanced detachments sent inland. He counted up his possibilities, and thanking the divines that there was nothing yet to contest their presence. A more perfect position he could not think of.

Nation:
Expediao DiParva
Represented Color:
Dark Red
Race:
Human
Capital:
Encampo Nuvo Parva
Ruler:
Domi Gabraldi Samprosio SantoSillisia DiCorlone

Type of Government:
Colonial Government

Religion:
The Salvation of the Internal Soul

Geographical Location:
The southern island at the inlet at the river

History:
The seas ceased to rise and the weather became uncertain in the days after the moon fell. Across distant oceans the court wizards of the Kingdom of Sandovarra befuddled at the disappearance of the moon were called to answer for what had happened. Across stormy and clear nights they sought to scour the skies themselves and collected any hint of evidence that would indicate a theory from whence to pursue. But to no avail, they could find nothing from the cloistered royal seat of the Sandovarran kingdom. Their failures shot through the small insular court a haranguing of argument as winters fell early and left with shocking rapidity. An apocalyptic scenario seemed to have befell the world without the pearl of the White Dragon, the moon. It came to a head that with violence the king cast from his court hundreds of courtiers and nobles who had grown heavy on his patience and they wailed from outside the city walls to be let back into civilization, but the king had shut his doors to them.

In the rising arguments and more and more purges threatened the suggestion was posed to send an expedition to search for it. “After all.” said a prince at court, “Where could the moon have gone if not down below the horizon where we can not see it?”

The suggestion put the court at ease and they had a plan of attack on which to attach themselves. However, the proposal carried a price to pay for the prince who having offered the suggestion would be forced to leave the confines of the royal palace and city and leave Herarri. Perhaps for all time. But the poet mastermind that was the prince bolstered his confidence at the opportunity to put his plan into action and perhaps be named Heir Apparent by the ailing king and he gathered together his retinue, his attendants, and all his cohort and left the royal city for the country-side.

The mission to construct the expedition the prince knew would not simply be a matter of recruitment and contracting worthy volunteers. While the king had endowed him with a hearty purse to put things underway leveraging the abled bodies would be a hard thing to do. He would need a flotilla he imagined, and hearty seamen could not just be raised from the soil. And in the times since the moon dropped and court purges had exiled many hundreds of angry nobles into the countryside the realm was looking uncertain as the stability of court and the realm were both thrown into question. As such, the mission to recruit and to build became that of a military campaign across the realm to acquire men to comply with royal orders and to seize what resources which can be carried off for the port given to the prince by the king. The war which lasted eight years laid waste to the ancient foundations of five old houses and the prince nearly emptied entire baronies to bring the people to the sea to build and equip his navy.

At the end of the ninth year the Prince had his flotilla, and sending out across storm black seas he went in search across the ocean for the lost moon. Leaving well behind him the very center of the world.

The expedition traveled to foreign lands and back again across several decades. While it found no moon it established new frontiers, brought to the court new riches and new sources of tribute to the king. The Prince's efforts were so bountiful that while he was never named Heir Apparent he was named Domi D'Expediao, Lord of the Expedition. The Expedition itself transforming into an institution and a court away from court as in intervening years nobles cast from the royal court in shame shuffled to the Expedition to seek redemption under its great unfurling sails.

The Expedition carried on for decades more and the Domi D'Expediao died of age at sea. Never to be laid to rest in his home country under the boughs and in the shade of the orange trees of the court he was wrapped in the banner of the expedition and dropped into the steel gray sea in ceremony and state. His hand was cut off, and place into a vase so that it could be delivered back to home where one part of him may be laid to rest in Sandovarra soil.

The command of the expedition passed on in election to a young officer considered second to the Domi D'Expediao and Gabraldi Samprosio SantoSillisia DiCorlone was declared the new admiral of the mission. Under his command the expedition continued to spread out to seek out the moon, and Gabraldi ordered his command to see out the land of Haleath, which some ports had whispered was where the Moon had gone.

May the grace of the divine and the purity of soul, in the name of his highness the King and Son of Roalumi guide the hand of the faithful to put the moon back in its throne.
Nation:
Expediao DiParva
Represented Color:
Dark Red
Race:
Human
Capital:
Encampo Nuvo Parva
Ruler:
Domi Gabraldi Samprosio SantoSillisia DiCorlone

Type of Government:
Colonial Government

Religion:
The Salvation of the Internal Soul

Geographical Location:
The southern island at the inlet at the river

History:
The seas ceased to rise and the weather became uncertain in the days after the moon fell. Across distant oceans the court wizards of the Kingdom of Sandovarra befuddled at the disappearance of the moon were called to answer for what had happened. Across stormy and clear nights they sought to scour the skies themselves and collected any hint of evidence that would indicate a theory from whence to pursue. But to no avail, they could find nothing from the cloistered royal seat of the Sandovarran kingdom. Their failures shot through the small insular court a haranguing of argument as winters fell early and left with shocking rapidity. An apocalyptic scenario seemed to have befell the world without the pearl of the White Dragon, the moon. It came to a head that with violence the king cast from his court hundreds of courtiers and nobles who had grown heavy on his patience and they wailed from outside the city walls to be let back into civilization, but the king had shut his doors to them.

In the rising arguments and more and more purges threatened the suggestion was posed to send an expedition to search for it. “After all.” said a prince at court, “Where could the moon have gone if not down below the horizon where we can not see it?”

The suggestion put the court at ease and they had a plan of attack on which to attach themselves. However, the proposal carried a price to pay for the prince who having offered the suggestion would be forced to leave the confines of the royal palace and city and leave Herarri. Perhaps for all time. But the poet mastermind that was the prince bolstered his confidence at the opportunity to put his plan into action and perhaps be named Heir Apparent by the ailing king and he gathered together his retinue, his attendants, and all his cohort and left the royal city for the country-side.

The mission to construct the expedition the prince knew would not simply be a matter of recruitment and contracting worthy volunteers. While the king had endowed him with a hearty purse to put things underway leveraging the abled bodies would be a hard thing to do. He would need a flotilla he imagined, and hearty seamen could not just be raised from the soil. And in the times since the moon dropped and court purges had exiled many hundreds of angry nobles into the countryside the realm was looking uncertain as the stability of court and the realm were both thrown into question. As such, the mission to recruit and to build became that of a military campaign across the realm to acquire men to comply with royal orders and to seize what resources which can be carried off for the port given to the prince by the king. The war which lasted eight years laid waste to the ancient foundations of five old houses and the prince nearly emptied entire baronies to bring the people to the sea to build and equip his navy.

At the end of the ninth year the Prince had his flotilla, and sending out across storm black seas he went in search across the ocean for the lost moon. Leaving well behind him the very center of the world.

The expedition traveled to foreign lands and back again across several decades. While it found no moon it established new frontiers, brought to the court new riches and new sources of tribute to the king. The Prince's efforts were so bountiful that while he was never named Heir Apparent he was named Domi D'Expediao, Lord of the Expedition. The Expedition itself transforming into an institution and a court away from court as in intervening years nobles cast from the royal court in shame shuffled to the Expedition to seek redemption under its great unfurling sails.

The Expedition carried on for decades more and the Domi D'Expediao died of age at sea. Never to be laid to rest in his home country under the boughs and in the shade of the orange trees of the court he was wrapped in the banner of the expedition and dropped into the steel gray sea in ceremony and state. His hand was cut off, and place into a vase so that it could be delivered back to home where one part of him may be laid to rest in Sandovarra soil.

The command of the expedition passed on in election to a young officer considered second to the Domi D'Expediao and Gabraldi Samprosio SantoSillisia DiCorlone was declared the new admiral of the mission. Under his command the expedition continued to spread out to seek out the moon, and Gabraldi ordered his command to see out the land of Haleath, which some ports had whispered was where the Moon had gone.

May the grace of the divine and the purity of soul, in the name of his highness the King and Son of Roalumi guide the hand of the faithful to put the moon back in its throne.
Le Opsy was posted here
I am game. Shit coming later
Once, there was a man. He lived in a land far away. Alone, he spent his days chopping wood and whittling small wooden people. One day he decided to whittle a different kind of toy. But then the ATF came.
Soooo, in other words, we play as a series of characters in a political struggle to gain independence, from the "Homeland/Imperial Power" in a series of political intrigues, Etc... Kinds of remembers me of an idea I had a long time ago but that is not the talk right now. the magic system is a bit confusing for me although I can wrap around the concept of being soft, although is a bit of a brand term, so you need to be more specific.


"Soft" as in there's no hard system. No science about it. It's a thing. Given the scope of the project I can't play it as a literary thing very much like Lord of the Rings where the magical qualities of say The One Ring can not be explained in a objective manner but as a characteristic to the struggles of Frodo. Or as the random and surreal circumstances of something like Hundred Years of Solitude, which is the primary inspiration and where it's magical events happen as commentary and contextualizing the story on the surrealism of turn-of-the-century Columbia.

But instead of unleashing it out on all the players by fear of abuse, it's a GM power. Meaning I'll take a series of steps to enact it occasionally with as much random chance as I can muster.
@Cyclone

While it's nominally one country that doesn't preclude mass politics at a group level, which is what this is oriented towards. The idea is a player-shared nation with players having groups with characters within those groups, acting out the political intrigues of their regions or group interests. These may even involve cessation from the cessation itself to recreate old kingdoms or polities otherwise lost during the colonial period but can be realized later. Small nations, but nations all the same. Or smaller struggles in the way of towns, communities, provinces, and so on. Overlapping groups, groups with hard borders between.
So I'mma cut to the chase: I'mma open a new Roleplay. Narrative details are dependent on what sort of framing this RP will be set in, which will be decided by you. But the over-all premise I am proposing for you all is this: political disputes in a developing nation or region set during a period technologically analogous to the late 1800's, about 1880 or 1890; or even further back if I arbitrarily decide or further ahead. This is a fictional world, where there is a nascent magic in the world, details on that to follow. But the important thing to sussing out any further details will be how this world becomes framed, so I submit to you:

- 1: A people trying to break out of colonialism - For several centuries a distant and foreign occupier has been occupying the nation and swept aside many of the old kingdoms and polities that presided there in this land. The foreign adventures began benign enough with simple trading missions at the important cities. But they quickly became greedy and sought greater concessions until soon a whole mix of peoples fell under their flag. Since, all peoples - colonizer and colonized alike - have become subject to the ebb and flows of international politics and the colony may have even traded hands. Never the less, growing consciousness and tensions with the mother-country have reached their crescendo and separatism is a common sentiment among the dutifully alert and aware. The masters will have to fight back.

- 2: A people free, but behind in the times - Long ago the nation went by unaware of history far away from themselves, until that history caught up. This is an adjustment of the above framing prompt, but assumes for some time the nation has already become free of colonial tyranny and is free in the world. But because it has won independence does not mean that it has overcome its problems. The nation is poor, with the retreat of the colonial regime much of the wealth disappeared, or even was dried up under the influence of the colonizer. Tensions exist within the nation, between numerous groups and their legacies as well as direction for the country. But as it seeks to catch up and bring the modern world to it, it risks upsetting the age-old balance of tradition to the alienation, wonder, and bewilderment of the peasants and other such groups of the nation.

The Map:



It is best to see the change in elevation (as the ground gets lighter) as a sort of "average" or relative idea of how much higher that area is over all compared to what's around it. None of those mountains are plateaus as depicted, but may be many peaks all the same.

The Magics


So I know I said this is a fictional world and there is magic. But unlike other RPs that run a hard-magic system I would like to run a soft magic system, that means I'm not going to bother with how it's even going to work in a metaphysical since. But that also at the same time it's not really a present force, no one can use magic, magic happens to them. Otherwise, everyone has to abide by the wondrous world of AM: Actual Machines. I will dole out the moments of FM: Fucking Magic. I will do this by keeping a list of named characters with an assigned number and every so often use a random number generator to pick a name out. I'll probably do a few other things to set up parameters on my end and when next to roll the dice. When everything is done the recipient will get a PM from me telling them one of their characters have been magick'd and now they have to write about it depending on the parameters I have set.

If this is too much bullshit, we can strike it. But for the most part I would like to run with it as an added layer of "nothing is as true as it may seem", due in part to either prompt relying on society being at such a sudden shift such random occurrences would not be out of the normal anymore. After all, what is real when everything known before is suddenly dead and gone?

This also sets up a case where I don't feel I myself can be a participant. But also if anyone doesn't mind, then I can skip out on being a passive participant and take a more active role. Or we can all figure out a totally different model.
Over the South China Sea


Mong Jin sat with his hands crossed over a raised knee as he looked out the window at the passing sea thinking about home. Far away in China's interior was a small village somewhere south of Sangqiu that no longer existed. When he was young he left it to fight in the revolution, and when he returned it was gone completely. All that remained a field of long grass and barren landscape with the few odd trees. In the veterancy of his twenties he had tried to find out what happened, but no one knew. No one could say what had happened to the village in the sea of rape seed. It had been the sort of community where great bison moved as ships among the canola flowers as farmers walked with baskets and not a single thread of modernity had come to it. In the intervening years since the close of the armed stage of the revolution Jin believed that perhaps his memories of home was merely an artificial figment impressed upon him by Japanese heroin. It threw so much out of context he felt that there was nothing before his service to the Bureau of International Relations and Friendship really existed. That it was all as dust in the wind, that escaped through the grasping clutches of a closed fist.

But looking out the windows of the airplane in the early morning as the sun was just beginning to rise out over Japan the rays lit up the water in vibrant gold and oranges that reminded him of home. Escaping deeply into himself he believed even the hum of the airplane engines might be excused as the mewling of the buffalo. If he concentrated on that long enough he might be able to catch the smell of the early morning rice porridge and cakes. Yes. That wasn't something that never left. Everywhere he had been there had been that smell come morning in another field of produce. Poppy in the Republican hills, rice in the wet valleys, golden grain in the central valley. It was a smell that belonged to no where in particular, owned by everyone ostensibly as so much was.

He shifted in his seat and looked away from the window. Much about the airplane was barren and sparse. What expenses weren't spared went into cladding the interior in a basic shell, to give it more humane value than the empty shell of a military aircraft, which is was. The seating was wide spread and thin, which gave everyone plenty of leg room but there were not many occupants with him. Two others were in view, bored guards with nothing but pistols at their hip. Much of the security they would get would be entrusted to the Philippines. And there was none of the full staff as might be expected to missions such as Ethiopia, for this was merely the first stage of the diplomatic, the laying down of the first roots for an embassy. That was his only parameter.

The instructions from Beijing were simple, simple enough to fit on a single sheet of paper he kept in the breast pocket of his suit. He was to meet with the Filipino representatives, and negotiate for the site of an embassy, and for one other or two consuls. His superiors had stressed flexibility on the consuls, if it was out of the question: he was to bend like a sapling to the reality and not press it. The main embassy should however be large enough for a staff of two-hundred. Beijing would wait for what the Philippine state would offer. Communiques to be delivered by courier. He imagined the first move would be the laying of a wire between the two nations in the future.

Jin settled back into his seat, taking a deep breath. Under his seat was a big. Reaching down he pulled from it a book, The Good Earth. He opened it to wile away the time he had left until they landed.

Mong Jin had begun his career in diplomacy by accident, and by necessity. He had left home looking for the romance of revolution and to escape the poverty of rural life. Wandering west he came upon the Communists, and took up with them in their mountain sanctuaries and learned to shoot with a rifle. He was seventeen then, and had never fired a gun before. But he proved himself proficient and became an infantryman, donning the rope soled shoes of the revolutionary and the animal fur cap of the mountain guerrilla. In those days the party kept its men back from the fighting, as Republican and Japanese troops alike waged a harsh war that had swept both Jin's brothers into the fighting as draftee and as victim. He was the last son, and before the Republican recruiter came through the village to pull what peasants he may from the field or from the houses to send marching in the army he left under his parent's noses. And in the infantry he could have remained, standing guard or going out on patrol, attending ideological seminars or doing peasant's work in the communal gardens of the detachment. But then the Americans came.

Victims of their own circumstances or simple volunteers Jin was the first to meet them as they ambled up the donkey trail lead by their guide. Supposedly they were seeking out the Communists explicitly, and after a brief exchange with the man Jin was dumped with the Americans as the old man hobbled back down the valley trail to his village far along. The Americans not speaking Chinese, and Jin not speaking American could not speak to one another, although the Americans certainly tried. They spoke in long oblique sentences to try and make their points clear, gesturing and pantomiming to Jin's silent confusion. Eventually they settled on a meaning to their insistent miming and began to shift into simply pointing at things as a means to communicate. As much as Jin managed to understand, they wished to see his commanding officer, and he took them there heading further up the narrow dusty trail to where the rest of the Communist detachment brooded in mountain caves and hovels hugging the mountain side. He introduced them to his superior commander, explaining as best as he could what little he had learned. For his trouble, the Americans were foisted on him as his responsibility and in the space of an hour he left combat duty to play as guide and baby sitter to excitable American volunteers.

They spent long hours together. Jin showed them the rifles, and walked them through how to operate and aim them. They were far better skilled and adept at getting around them than Jin had thought and he marveled at how naturally they came to learn their way around the guns. And as they went he taught them words, and they taught them theirs. He learned such words as: rifle, stock, trigger, bolt, action oil, snake, rock, fuck, shit, jazz, cock, groin, eye, zoot suit, wind, rain, basketball, pitcher, base, home, home plate, Iowa, Idaho, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Ford, station wagon, aeroplane, zeppelin, and so on. Through one he learned a little of Spanish and he prided himself on having a small dictionary of words in two languages he used interchangeably in his communications. He learned their names were Paul, Peter, Sam, and Roger. He reported what he did with the Americans, what he learned and what he had told them to his superiors who either respected the amount of attention given, or dismissed it out of hand. Over time their skills mutually improved and more gradually showed up. With a basic yet usable grasp on Chinese he became the go-to whenever an Englishman or American showed up. He became the default persona to approach foreign journalists when they arrived to the mountain camp to probe, interview, and investigate. They managed to find them so readily there became a very real fear the English speakers were spies from the Kuomintang who not yet managed to trace their presence to this cold dry valley. After a time, it became pressing to find out what to do with all the Englishmen who walked up the sandy goat trail and communiques were sent to other units to coordinate their disposal efforts. It was suggested once that they all be killed in their sleep to prevent them from leaking out any more information than they could, but Jin came quick to say that apart from the journalists they had hardly written out from their camp. And he, who was beginning to consume and read their papers said that even the journalists had not divulged their location, speaking only of their “where” vaguely; even though he kept from them that he was months behind, beginning when four writers had come and gone.

The matter was settled on what to do with the Englishmen and Americans to assuage fears of their location becoming known, and together with them Jin was released from the local command, and would be re-attached to the Revolutionaries of Xi'an and they left in secret.

Xi'an was at the front lines of the conflict, and pressure from the Kuomintang was constant all through the time Jin was there. Kuomintang airplanes regularly flew over the city, scouting it or dropping single bombs and leaving. There were always stories at the market square about Kuomintang airplanes strafing the roads. But as the party leadership boasted to Jin, the city's unions were too firmly behind the cause for the spirit of the city to be crushed. And further, there were many more Revolutionaries in the city that spoke English that Jin's role as the sole manager of the rag-tag American volunteers felt small in comparison. If it had not been for the command of the Revolutionary garrison hearing of Jin's efforts, he may have well found himself in the field, if with a promotion to command his Anglo-Saxon comrades against the Nanjing government. As the fates would have – though he would swear against it – he was transferred from combat and began to work in the administration itself, directly handling the affairs of foreign volunteers and persons in a commissioner capacity. It was here that he honed his English, and picked up many more languages.

“Comrade Mong, we're almost there.” said a voice. Mong Jin stirred from his book and looked up. A stewardess loomed over him, and smiled. She left him as he turned to look out the window. Land was under them again and the sun had risen higher. It was perhaps now mid-afternoon or later, and he realized he was hungry. Before the stewardess could get far he rose his voice and spoke out to her.

“May I get something to eat?”

“Excuse me?” she stopped, turning.

“May I have something to eat? I haven't had anything to eat since we left.”

“I'll find something.” she said pleasantly, and left. Mong Jin touched his belly and sighed contentedly. He looked out the window again and realized he was here, in the Philippines. Or over it rather. This he quickly came to reason was the first time he ever left China. It dawned on him with sudden clarity, long after he ever lifted off from Hong Kong. But then he had been on many flights and train rides before, he had been over the country in various capacities. But not once had he left it. It felt strange, and foreign to be so far away. He felt something catch at the back of his throat and he choked on the surprise as he looked down at the tropical jungles and hills of the Philippine islands with its many villages and long dirt trails and stretches of rail roads. It did not feel so far from China at such a height, but he wondered if the people had even seen a Chinese airplane.

The stewardess returned with a plate of cold dumplings. “This is all I could find.” she said humbly, “They're vegetable. I hope that is OK.”

“That is fine.” Mong Ju said, “Thank you.”

“You're welcome. Will you need anything else? I hear from the pilots we're maybe an hour out yet, more if we do not get lost.”

“I think I'm fine.”

“Very well. Enjoy, please.”

“Thank you.”

Mong Ju looking out recalled some of the people he had worked with in his revolutionary capacity. He recalled a story about Ohio, where it was so flat and empty, except for the corn that you could swing and try as you might to hit like Babe Ruth all day and not be afraid to break out any windows, because no one lived around you for miles except for the corn fields.

He likewise remembered a description of Wales, with his mountains of coal and high rocks. He wondered if the mountains were coal themselves, and if the valleys echoed with boy's voice choirs as the volunteer had insisted they did. But he put it aside. The country he observed below was very much unlike Ohio or Wales as he knew of either. It was new and unique, at least to him and he awed at the spectacle as he ate his dumplings in the airplane seat. He looked over at his companions who looked just as curious and intrigued as he, if not even awestruck and enchanted.

As they flew over Mong Ju collected his thoughts and education on the Philippines. He knew that the country was a colony of the Spanish, then of the Americans. He imagined from the thought a nation of old Spanish colonial villas were baseball was played in the front lawns. But that he doubt would be the lasting legacy in the country below because much had changed since then. The government of the country was something of a libertarian government, much like the pockets in the north of China. He began to wonder if he would be dealing with committees or individuals. He knew Spanish, but he did not know of any language from the Philippine islands. He was aware of them, but never once crossed paths with anyone from the Philippines. Neither had he ever met a Spaniard, but had come to know the language through various Americans. He knew of men from Texas who spoke it, and wondered what had happened to them now that the revolution was over: did they remain in China or did they go back to Texas? But if America would be unfriendly to them, perhaps Mexico?

He let his thoughts return to the Philippines. The country's independence coincided with his revolutionary career, peeling off of the United States in the 1930's as lead by a former Catholic priest. The priest married, and his daughter Priscilla Aglipay-Rizal was elected president after him. The nation had for as far as he knew remained in a state of dynastic Republicanism. There were whisperings among the state halls of Beijing that the Philippines have a hand in the ongoing crisis in Vietnam, though none of these details have been confirmed from the intelligence apparatus and so far nothing has been said to connect them. But there has been rumors and suggestion. To Mong Jin, it is as likely the Thai have been involved. He supposed on some level, that is also part of the reason for him going: to learn and find answers to questions China has let slip on by without it. He was the first step for proactivity.

“What are your thoughts, comrades?” he asked turning from the window.

The two guards sent with him turned to Jin, “Thoughts on what?” asked one.

“On the country, the Philippines. What do you think?”

“That it is a country.” said the other brusquely.

Jin snuffed out a laugh and watched the landscape below again, padding the single sheet of orders in his pockets as he watched the passage of the rice paddies below. The farmers among the swampy rows simple dots in the reflective mud.

Mong Jin was done with his plate and it sat in the empty chair next to him. After a time it was announced they were closing in on Manila and Mong Jin watched out the window as the landscape turned urban and the roads became denser and a multitude of train tracks met with them to form the warrens and neighborhoods of a city's suburban expanse. Here and there the quickly built and humble shanties of the poor and the factory workers stood huddling close together along narrow streets and along street car routes up to small factories or the harbor. The flew circles over the city as the pilots sought out the airport, and found it far out at the edge among plantation fields and clusters of mud shanties hidden among palm fronds and tropical foliage. The foreign ground underneath rushing up to meet the airplane as the pilots made their descent. The tires touched the tarmac and there was a bounce and squeal as they hit the hot blacktop. Taxi'ing around Mong Jin got a good look about. No ceremony was there to greet him, which was expected. His work would be done quietly, in the idling car he saw not far off, waiting as the aircraft coasted and turned towards it, propelled by its turbines to its position.

Mong Jin's breath rattled in his chest as he muttered practice phrases in Spanish. Idle rhymes and nonsense sentences without any attachment to one another to prepare his tongue and his mind. It had been a long time, he hoped he would not make a fool of himself. When was the last time he wrote in Spanish? To make jokes out of it that would only make sense in Chinese?
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