Alright, so here I am doing a brand new story. Truth to be spoken random ideas on this one has been popping up in my head for N ages. It's like I'm actually itching to start unto such an extent that I know I will get started on it sooner or later. To those who know me, I'm truly sorry for starting another whim write. -.- Anyway, just to cut things short, this story won't be high fantasy focused. Rather it would be the standard shonen manga genre with a massive dose of historical fantasy and to a lesser extent, mythological elements. :) Also on a somewhat important note, unlike the other naming systems, Chinese, Japanese and Korean names always put the family name first instead of the last. And also due to the nature of the Chinese naming system, it's not uncommon to have different individuals having the same family name despite being total strangers. I need to make this final point clear because you'll see a lot of such names thrown about.
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The Dragon of Shu Han: Chapter 1 – Enter That Guru
Look into my eyes and tell me what you see.
Is it the fire burning within a hero's soul?
Or is everything nothing more than a facade?
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Summer has arrived in Japan and the birds were chirping happily while being perched on the tree branches. This was the season to enjoy the beach, relaxing in the parks and going through the countless shopping malls, all while enjoying all sorts of cold desserts. After all, there's such a thing called summer break and all Japanese students would end up looking forward to enjoy themselves when that period of the year comes knocking on the door. Needless to say, the same logic also applied to a certain posh residential district in Kanagwa. Only difference would be the manner on how it will be done...
Fuyutama Street, Yokohama
The alarm clock has gone off for a few minutes at the very least, but the figure in the bed has yet to stir. In fact there was no way to discern whether the individual was asleep or awake as he was totally covered by the bed sheets in a somewhat unkempt manner. Just outside the room, an attractive maid nearing her twenties with a simple shoulder length haircut was seen walking along the passageway carrying a tray of traditional Japanese breakfast.
"Kaede-sama," said the smiling girl as she entered the bedroom, "It's time for breakfast."
Upon those words, the figure in the bed failed to react. Giving out a sigh, the young maid placed the tray onto the table nearby. Walking towards the bed, she pulled out the bed sheets only to discover that there was nobody in the bed, but only a bolster with a funny face sketch. Seeing the sight before her only made the maid's eyebrows twitching with annoyance as the resultant reaction managed to echo throughout the mansion.
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Moe Moe Paradise Maid Cafe
"Wait a sec Shinomiya..." frowned a lanky bespectacled youth as a young waitress in maid costume knelt by the table stirring cream and sugar in his coffee, "So you're saying you've snuck out of your home again?"
"Well erm yeah," said a handsome lad around the same age with a somewhat dorky haircut, "I know Oyaji is gonna jump, but I don't really care. Pity Xiaoyu though. She's not gonna prepare the delicious gyoza for quite some time. She always do that whenever I bailed out of the cage no thanks to that damning old man of mine..."
"Oh god Xiaoyu..." sighed a bulky friend of Shinomiya in a dreamy state, "I really envy you Shinomiya Kaede... I really wish she was my maid. You really got lucky that your old man is one hell of a political big fuck. But then again, ain't the Taiwanese rich by average? At the very least I don't think they would end up being house keepers overseas..."
"You got that info ass backwards Takeru," frowned Kaede, "Stupid KMT has gone downhill now and the things only got worse when the DPP are equally bad as well. If things have gotten so bad as in the general media have gone numb to all the random corruption scandals for the last three years, you'll know that shit has hit the fan. If not for the superior economy built up during the last few decades or so, things would have been worse."
"Well at least the good thing is that I don't remember that country having any state owned telcos. I always ended up crying over the fact that I have to deal with the stupid connection issues with my desktop whenever my sis switches on her laptop," mused the same bespectacled lad as same maid waitress proceeded to feed him with a spoonful of omu-rice after being done with the coffee much to his delight.
"Well you got that right Toru," said Kaede as he took a swig of his lime soda, "Somehow or another, the constitution doesn't allow it ever since like five years back when the DPP returned back into power briefly. I really envy this system really. Anything and everything state owned can and will always backfire on the general public after some time of proven success. And the worst thing would be the fact that nothing would be done to rectify the whole thing until the outcry really hits the skies. I really pity the people doing the technical customer service really. Always getting whacked over something not of their own fault."
"Yep that's the case with my bro," said Takeru as his expression revealed a satisfied look upon receiving a massage from another waitress, "He bloody quit even before his probation period ended just because he got sick and tired over being fucked by the customers due to issues concerning the system rather than any individual case... by the way, is there any way I can get Xiaoyu's number?"
"Actually I'd like to introduce you to her," said Kaede as a shiver went down his spine, "Only problem is that I won't have a single idea on what will happen next if I do so..."
"Erm why?" asked Toru and Takeru in unison.
"I hope I'm wrong, But it seems that she's got some kind of obsession with me... I still remember what happened during the last Valentine's Day. It's truly some scary shit..."
"Erm is it some attempt at SM?" asked Takeru with a curious expression, "Xiaoyu doesn't look like a dominatrix to me..."
"It's not that extreme truth to be honest, but seeing her in nothing but that lacy black bra and G-string still gives me nightmares..."
"WHAT?" exclaimed Takeru.
"You don't have to envy me, beefcake," sighed Kaede as he continued, "That was really some sexy stuff, but fact is that I've never contemplated on starting a relationship with her. It would sound so wrong..."
"Kaede, I know you would be offended by this question, but are you gay? I mean Xiaoyu's so uber hot! And those E tits as well! What the fuck is wrong with you?" asked Takeru in an incredulous tone.
"Actually I'm straight pal, so you don't have to worry about my sexuality. I know you're a homophobic. And having taken a number of trips to Taiwan before, I know better than you that the girls there are hot and well developed. Just don't try to press the issue home. It's already bad enough that every random girl who knows who I am always tries to hit on me one way or another. A few times is okay, but facing the whole damn thing twenty four seven can be a nightmare," said Kaede as his eyes expressed the relevant annoyance, "And I think we've gone too far with the sex talk if you guys know what I mean. We're here only to chill out, not offend random chicks with this kind of stupidity."
"Well, they're in the service industry, so they should expect it," huffed Takeru.
"It's not just the waitresses here," said Toru as the waitress left him to attend to another customer after finishing his meal, "There are other female customers as well, so you better watch your mouth, Takeru. Don't forget that you're the only son of the Todai president. Shit happens and your dad will be in for a journalist ride."
Then just as sudden, the blaring sound of a J-rock ring tone resounded throughout the cafe as the customers stared at the source of the annoyance. Namely Kaede as he ignored the glares while taking out his cell phone.
"Man what age is that fellow's music taste in by the way?" asked Takeru in a resigned tone, "I've lost count on how many times that damn Mermaid song has erupted out of nowhere!"
"Well, can you blame Shinomiya for being a die hard Glay fan? Taste has always been subjective in nature albeit the whole band still going strong is pretty much of a miracle in the current entertainment circle..." smiled Toru knowingly.
"Alright Toru, just cut out whatever crap you're gonna say," said Takeru with a dismissive expression, "I know you dual major in psychology and entertainment studies, but..."
Before Takeru could finish his sentence though, Kaede stood up from his seat, his expression displaying one of an absolute disbelief, his enlarged eyes staring into the screen of his phone. Fearing the worst for their pal due to the possible implications from sneaking away from home, they proceeded to pacify him.
"Hey chill out Shinomiya," said Toru as he tried his best to calm his best friend down, "I know it's your dad calling for your head, but at least there will be leeway for negotiation.
"Yeah Toru's right. Well erm maybe you can ask Xiaoyu to help out... like interceding on your behalf?" added Takeru.
"Don't be an idiot beefcake," snapped Toru as he smacked Takeru across the head, "You're just making things worse. Unless you want me to say that the Taiwanese chick is gonna be Shinomiya's second mom!"
"This... this is too good to be true..." whispered Kaede as his expression remained unchanged.
"Huh?" asked the duo as their faces screwed up.
"YES! FINALLY I'VE GOT IT!" hollered Kaede as he proceeded to jump up and down much to his two friends' embarrassment. Then just as sudden, Kaede grabbed Takeru by the collar of his polo shirt and shake him around like a rag doll in a madcap joy.
"THE LIMITED EDITION ZHAO YUN PVC FIGURINE! I'VE FINALLY GOT IT! AFTER THREE FULL MONTHS OF AUCTIONING! A MOTHERFUCKING THREE MONTHS!"
"Sheesh, Shinomiya has gone fanboy mode again," chuckled Toru in an awkward manner, "I really pity Takeru though. Being a beefcake yet still always ended up as the victim of his nutjob joy is pretty much absurd in terms of the physical law..."
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A good five minutes later...
"Eh you okay Takeru?" asked Kaede as his friend exited from the toilet.
"Fuck you Shinomiya Kaede," growled Takeru as his green face still remained in a pissed off mode, "I swear this is the last time I'm gonna play the role of your fan toy. Next time you do that I'm gonna..." Before Takeru could finish his sentence though, he suddenly bolted for the toilet again.
"This is really absurd..." sighed Kaede as he took a mouthful of his lemon gelato, "Given his physique, no one would expect him to go all woozy just like that."
"Well, it's only when you go batshit insane on him that he will be like that," said Toru in a resigned tone, "Still remember that karaoke bar incident?"
"Oh yeah that shit," replied Kaede, "I can only say he's an absolute idiot in trying to make the moves on Yumi-chan..."
"For goodness sake, that's only the customary cosplay gathering. You don't have to go totally insane upon seeing any random girl cosplaying as Tifa Lockhart!"
"Actually, that's because of Yumi-chan's D boobs. You don't get to see a lot of Tifa cosplayers having the figure of the original deal."
"Then why don't you ask Xiaoyu to do it as well?" asked Takeru as he exited from the toilet feeling much better after the last bout of puking.
"Well that's a viable option," mused Kaede, "Why is it that I never consider it before?"
"Actually there's something I'm truly curious about..." said Toru, "Everybody knows that you're the major bigwig in everything Sangokushi, so why is it that you've got a special liking for Zhao Yun? Unless it's a case of whatever you've read in the novel version. But then again, I remember that you're much more of a buff in the history aspect rather than the novel. Or rather one doesn't need much of a brainpower to analyze the latter since the historical records has never been that much in-depth compared to the novel."
"Well because he's a major kickass character in reality?" replied Kaede in a comical expression.
"Don't act stupid Shinomiya Kaede," said Takeru as he took his seat, "I'm no Sangokushi buff and even I know that Zhao Yun has always been nothing more that Liu Bei's bodyguard in reality. Whatever's in the novel is nothing more than made up shit by that Luo Guan Zhong."
"Erm let me guess," said Kaede as he gave a wicked smile, "The two of you want me to help out for something concerning the Sangokushi history, right? At the very least, I remember the two of you have started taking Chinese history this semester..."
"Eh it seems that you're not the only one being a psychology expert here, Toru," commented Takeru, "We've got busted big time."
"Unfortunately it's not Shinomiya you buffoon," sighed Toru, "Everyone in Asakura University knows that you'll always address Shinomiya by his full name whenever your emotions started to hit an upward curve. Your own anxiety in trying to get Shinomiya's help has bought us out. Now we really have to foot the bill if there's anything to go by from his cheapskate nature!"
"Well I'm not cheapskate compared to you two clowns," huffed Kaede, "If I remember correctly, Takeru would always expect the girl to foot the bill during a date while my brain has still yet to forget the fact that Toru you still owe me that bloody five grand due to losing that bet last time round when I managed to win the most recent nationwide Tekken tournament. Just remember not to slag Asuka again as a crap tier character okay?"
"You don't have to bring it up," said the duo in annoyance as their eyes comically turned into that of a snake.
"Okay then, in exchange for my expertise views, you all don't have to foot the bill," smiled Kaede which sent a tingling shiver down their spine, "All I want in return would be your kind assistance in paying off the resultant price of that Zhao Yun figurine. Well let me see... if my memory is stil spot on, it should be like... twenty grand plus?"
Upon his reply, both Toru and Takeru could only display a comically shocked expression with a lightning streaked background appearing figuratively as Kaede proceeded to continue enjoying his gelato.
"Eh twenty grand... I think my dad's gonna bust my ass for good. He's been uber suspicious on why my own bank account has suddenly went five hundred grand missing no thanks to that bastard sitting across blackmailing me over that one night stand with Ayumi last time round..." sobbed Takeru as his entire physique turned into jelly comically, "God... you're the richest kid in the campus Shinomiya Kaede... why..."
"So you're gonna give a talkshow on the Sangokushi history right now, right here?" squealed a nearby waitress as she closed in onto Kaede much to his own shock.
"Err Ganguro Aya?" asked Kaede as he began to sweat at an alarming speed, "Why are you here by the way?"
"Can't you see? I've just started work today," said Aya with a huff, "And why are you so nervous on seeing me?"
"That's because of your own posture in leaning towards Shinomiya," said Toru, "Don't underestimate your assets. Remember how Takeru got nuked by it?"
"Well yeah. That bastard did ask me out," said Aya as a vein popped out of her head, "And that's definitely the last time anybody made any jokes on my boobs after I was done with shoving his head into that ice bucket. Guess nobody of his stature would want to tell his dad about underage drinking. Anyway, I've just overheard what you guys are saying. Trying to weasel yourselves out of the assignment, huh?"
"Wait a sec Ganguro Aya," said Takeru in annoyance, "You're obviously blowing shit out of the water. We only wanted to enlist Kaede's help for that stupid essay analyzing whatever shit happening in the Sangokushi era! And besides, I bet you wanna take advantage as well since the three of us are in the same class."
"Don't ever tag the G-word with my name, tako," said Aya as Takeru was left with a smoking face, "I have a surname. It's Tohno. Get it clear. Only Shinomiya senpai has the right to use it."
"Tohno Aya!" roared the shift manager, "What are you doing? How dare you skive at this moment! And punching a customer at the same time!"
"Sorry there boss!" called Kaede cheerfully, "It's just a misunderstanding! Can we book Aya-chan's service for a little while? Shinomiya Makihisa will be really pleased that you'll do anything for his little boy!" Upon these words, the cafe went silent immediately as Aya sat down beside Kaede.
"Man you're gonna get into trouble again here Shinomiya senpai. I guess you've just sneak out of your home, right?" said Aya in a child like tone.
"Well unfortunately the answer is yes," said Kaede as he squirmed under her grip onto his arm, "By the way, can you don't give me this type of moe tone? And your boobs are pressing too hard on me!"
"Yeah I know. I'm just teasing you!" answered Aya in frustration as she let go of Kaede's arm, "Well, let's get onto the main subject. Just now, the three of you mentioned something about Zhao Yun in the historical context. Actually, that will be the perfect start for that retarded assignment. Why would that stupid baldie want us to do something requiring an extensive research especially since the relevant subject has yet to be taught?"
"Well truth to be said, I'm not too sure on how much I can help, but at the very least, GTK will give his best," smirked Kaede after which his face turned serious, "Alright, firstly, let's touch up on the stupidity called Liu Bei's bodyguard. Let me just set the record straight... it's really true..."
Upon those words, the trio could only register stupified looks while Kaede on the other hand said nothing.
"THAT'S FUCKING BULLSHIT SHINOMIYA KAEDE! HOW ARE WE GONNA SURVIVE ALL THIS CRAP IF YOU CAN'T EVEN HELP OUT ONE SINGLE BIT!" roared Aya, Takeru and Toru together as they figuratively spewed flames into the direction of a laughing Kaede.
"Look, that's the truth! But then again, history has never been something that can be simplified in the entirety," said Kaede in a smug tone as he reclined on his seat, "Let's start right from the beginning, shall we?"
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Half an hour later...
Upon the end of his analysis, the trio could only stare at Kaede, their jaws hanging on the floor out of sheer awe. After a few minutes, the Mermaid ring tone exploded again, shocking his listeners in the process. Upon seeing the message, Kaede could only give a smug look as he put the phone back into his pocket.
"Well, good times ahead for the commies for sure," grinned Kaede, "I guess I really have to scoot back home now. No point staying here since everybody in the household would have discovered me going MIA by now."
With a casual wave, Kaede proceeded to exit the cafe leaving his three kohai still trying to digest the immense flow of information. A few minutes passed when a crow happened to fly across and cawing at the same time.
"ARGH! WE HAVE TO FOOT THE BILL! FUCK YOU SHINOMIYA KAEDE!"
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At the same time...
"Achoo! Weird... why is it that I still end up sneezing in the summer? Eh nevermind. Now if only I can persuade Oyaji not to order a ban on Xiaoyu's yummy gyoza..." said Kaede as he rubbed his nose.
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Okay, so the first chapter is done! Yayness! :D And yes, this starting chapter is absolutely pointless. My writing skills have quite obviously gone rusty and if the whole thing seems like a ridiculous slapstick to you guys, I sincerely aplogize. -.- And just to set the record straight, I'm no sexist or whatever related names might come up to mind otherwise. It's actually a somewhat accurate portrayal of the Japanese society in the shonen manga format. Simply put, the Japanese social structure still tends to see women as objects rather than a case of gender equality. There's a real reason why perverts got away scot free nine out of ten times as long as the acts don't amount to an actual rape. And to put in another fact to hammer home the point, the porn industry in Japan is an absolute cash cow. Period.
Also a bit of glossary in order not to bamboozle your brains, but before that, I need to input all that Kaede has spoken in concern with Zhao Yun because the info would have a certain bearing on the plot.
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Kaede says: "Firstly, it's been stated that Zhao Yun was Liu Bei's main cavalry right from the start. This is when people jumped the gun and assumed that his role as Liu Bei's bodyguard started from there. However, it's very likely that such a role would be temporary stop gap in nature.
"We have to get one single fact right and that is during that era, the cost of cavalry troops were extremely expensive compared to the other military units. By my own estimation, the amount of cavalry during any given battle at the very best would only be one tenth of the entire army. At that point of time, Liu Bei was just a nobody in terms of military strength. In addition, if not for Gongsun Zan's decision to send Liu Bei as an ally to aid his cause against Yuan Shao, there would be no way he can join Liu Bei's side so easily since Zhao Yun was accounted as Gongsun Zan's subordinate during that time.
"If there's any clear indication where Zhao Yun officially assumed the role of the bodyguard, it will be during the part when Liu Bei became Yuan Shao's vassal after Gongsun Zan's demise. From there onwards, he had been officially considered as his liege's bodyguard.
"Yet at the same time, we need to understand that during Liu Bei's campaign to conquer Yizhou, Zhao Yun actually played a major role together with Zhuge Liang, Zhang Fei and much more subtly, Fa Zheng. Just like Zhang Fei, Zhao Yun also took down two key areas in the form of Jiangyang and Jianwei. Base on this alone, all the talk on Zhao Yun not having an able general's traits is just pure bullshit."
"Actually, while it's true that the title of the General Who Guards The Army conferred upon him after Liu Bei has obtained Yizhou was quite obviously a case of a nerfed rank, we need to look at the bigger picture on two fronts.
"Firstly, why Liu Bei made that very decision was very simple. To put it bluntly, politics has always been a bitch. Oyaji might be a major player in the Kokkai, but that doesn't mean I'm willing to play along as well. Fuck that stupid political science major he forced me to take. But I'm digressing here. What I'm trying to put across is the fact that due to the number of Liu Bei's own vassals increasing somewhat drastically, he has to find some way to ensure the loyalty of all those who either joined his cause in the process of the campaign or just merely surrendered.
"Quite obviously he took the only route of giving them the better end of the rewards compared to most of his old followers. Just to set the record straight, the only highly rewarded veteran followers at that time would only be Guan Yu, Zhang Fei and Zhuge Liang.
"As for Zhao Yun, it could be said that he has always been an individual who sees the concept of fame and power as something surplus. If you just take a look at his own objection towards the request in persuading Liu Bei to grant the court officials the landed properties of the common people in Yizhou, you'll know what I mean here. After all, if he kept quiet in the process, he would stand to gain the rewards as well. Simply put, one could say that this very aspect of his nature actually caused the nerfing in his court status.
"Secondly, when Zhao Yun was conferred the duties of the Central Guard later on, it actually cemented his own standing in Liu Bei's court as a real major player despite his apparent rank. When we talk about this particular post, it's not just about being the leader of the imperial guard as what most people tend to conclude. Yes being in charge of the imperial guard was part of the job scope, but even more importantly, during the Sangoku era, the Central Guard must shoulder the direct task in selecting the low ranking generals. From this context, the military future of any given kingdom would utterly depend on the Central Guard himself since any normal military standard of promotion would always start from the lowest order.
"But things do get even more interesting from here. Because of the dual role I've mentioned just now, the Central Guard could easily consolidate his own form of influence and power within the imperial court unto such an extent that he can just easily seize the right to rule once the time is ripe. So it's pretty much obvious that nothing less than a trusted individual with a high standard of integrity would do. In fact due to the possible power wielded, you can say that this move of Liu Bei was also meant to ensure an absolute form of political order.
"In fact this has been a proven fact during the build up of the Jin dynasty, which officially ended the presence of the Sangoku era. You all can just Google for the relevant info since I'm not gonna waste my breath on this one. Shit is a bit complicated to be honest."
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Oyaji – Informal term for ones' own father. Might be deemed offensive to some traditional families. I don't know seriously.
Takeru – Fierce.
Toru – Roughly translated as Clear.
Aya – Colour or rainbow.
Shinomiya Kaede – One of the only two characters whom I included the family name as well with the other one his dad. Shinomiya means Palace Of Four while Kaede means Maple.
Shinomiya Makihisa – Makihisa roughly means Enduring Prudence.
Fuyutama – Winter Jade.
The -sama suffix – A formal address for one's master or lord depending on the situation and era.
Tako – Octopus. When used in addressing a person, it's intended within the context of an unpleasant person.
Xiaoyu – Dawn Jade.
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Of course there are other foreign words of much more importance especially te significantly more vital ones in either Chinese or Japanese mainly due to the fact that they're real. However I'm not going to list them here because they're stuff that you can just easily find online. On an interesting note, Sangokushi in the Japanese context refers to both the historical records and the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. And it is also for this very reason I'm planning to do a two way job between the two. ;)