The Great Guild Fortune

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The Horat-verse

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The Horat-verse is a part of The Great Guild Fortune.

12 Characters Here

Yuwen Fortune [2] The Fearless Young Guild Leader of Fortune
Takai [1] The Noble Shaming Arrow of Flaming Lae Ming Wae
Sunaarashi [1] An Unstoppable Force of Nature sent from the desert to destroy his enemies
Lo-Muna Vanhi [1] The Ravishing Beauty of the South
Suiken [1] A Wandering Street Musician who knows more than he lets on
Namari Shioh [1] A Practitioner of Bastardry
Captain Jensu [0] A Moderately Washed Up Sea Ship Captain
Kaor, The Mourned [0] The Meandering She-Bear of Many Scars
Xanth [0] ...

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Setting

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Character Portrait: Yuwen Fortune
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#, as written by Nulix
“What makes a great guild? Fortune? No. Power? No. Glory? Not necessarily. It’s the friends you gain, the adventures you have together, and the memories you make along the way. The real treasure… is family. I grew up in the imperial city: Yuna-Yae! The capital of the world. Growing up the entire universe seemed to rotate around our walls. Never knew my mother, but it didn’t hurt my chances much, for my father was a nobleman. You know the type, very honour bound and such. He even met the Emperor once- true story! I had an older brother too. He was the perfect son: rigid, soldierly. I wasn’t like him. I was a trouble-maker, not a solider at all though I sure as hell could fight like one. When I was nineteen my father used that against me, saying I should stop messing around and join the army like my brother had done. How the peasants couldn’t win the war themselves which they can, by the way. We debated my future day in and day out, and I remember looking over that gorgeous city and thinking- is this it? Is this really family? Eventually the old man kicked me out, saying to return when I was ready to fight for my country. Now there are not many occasions Yuwen Fortune makes a vow, but that day I vowed that when I returned to Yuna-Yae it would be on my terms. I’d come back so rich and renowned the Emperor himself would acknowledge me. I’d come back and drown the bastard in my glory.”

“Isn’t this about a guild?” An accented voice interrupted. Yuwen glared at the short Sunen man at the end of the packed table who sat clutching a flask of arak. “It’s about family, he just said,” Another voice belonging to a lanky man with a mouth half full of swine corrected.

“Horat, Bari- this is about the tale,” Yuwen said, combing his hair back with his hand. “The full tale.”

“Yeah, well the full tale better finish by one. My shift starts soon,” Guardsman Hao, one of the dozen patrons listening in to Yuwen’s story, said as he leaned back in his chair.

Yuwen frowned. “Well, unfortunately epics like this don’t take twenty minutes to tell,” He replied. “This isn’t some fable a drunk could vomit up, this is inspired by true events. Art imitating fight!”

“…I don’t think that’s right,” Horat chimed in.

“Just shut up and let me finish my story,” Yuwen said as he leaned forward on the table. “I emptied my bank into a burlap sack and rode north; a wet spring chilling me to the bone. The elements were against me. Oh what a night it was, my friends. Nothing but me and my horse, headed for a village. But in the cold I formed a plan. A long-term plan. I’d start a guild, a great one, and we’d-“ He paused again, his gaze sweeping across the faces lined before him, most uninterested in his dramatics. “…Are you guys listening?”

“No!” Long Chong exclaimed as he stood. “No, for the love of god. No one’s listening!”

“Hey!” Yuwen protested, his voice going high. He looked to have tears in his eyes. “Aren’t you guys meant to be my friends?!”

“No! We came to the bar to have drinks, like everyone else!” Chong said, raising his hands to the rest of the tavern to their left where there were tables upon tables of other, happier people drinking with their friends. Golden candlelight flickered off rounded limestone walls. A girl in the corner sang and played the tambur as laughter echoed throughout the establishment. Even Old Man Chagan behind the bar seemed to be having a good time as he patted his large stomach. “Everyone is having fun but us,” Chong continued. “I didn’t come here for another one of your fantastical lies, Yuwen.”

“What, you’re leaving me?” Yuwen whined.

“…Yeah!” Chong said, pushing his chair in and heading toward the music. The rest of the table turned to Yuwen in guilty unison. “Sorry Yuwen, he has a point,” Nel said as he stood. “Drink up. You have the afternoon shift tomorrow,” Hao added playfully as he and the rest rose. One by one they left the table. Horat, the last to walk away, paused and turned.

Yuwen looked to the man. “You don’t want to hear about the guild, do you?”

Horat’s response was a tired smile. “Let’s get out of here,” He said. “We’re village guards. We shouldn’t spend so much time drunk.”

Pushing aside the worn cloth hangings of the doorway the two strode out into a sandy courtyard. Beyond the stone fence a dark desert stretched out until it became one with the black night sky. “The Lonely Tavern earns its name,” Horat commented as he began to wrap bindings around his boots for the long, sand-filled journey home. “Makes you wonder why they didn’t just build it closer to town. I heard Chagan stole money to build it. Used to be a silver lender to the Prince or a treasury guard or-” Horat glanced up to notice Yuwen sitting on the rocky fence, gazing up at the stars.

Carefully, Horat approached his friend, who seemed fixated on the sky above. “Are you... trying to pray?”


Yuwen shook his head left to right.

“Did you ever go back?”

“Sorry?” Yuwen muttered, facing his companion.

“You ever go back to Yuna-Yae?” Horat asked. “To your father?”

“I never saw him again, no...”

Horat furrowed his brow. “What happened?”

A small smile grew on Yuwen’s face, almost disbelieving that Horat both believed and wanted to hear his tale. “It’s not a short story,” He warned.

Horat responded with a shrug and leaned against the fence next to Yuwen’s hanging legs. “I have time.”

***

The first of June in the year four-four-four. The land of Yutan in the Yune Empire. The sun set behind the mountains on the horizon, the foreseeable distance covered in bamboo trees and green fields. Fireflies bobbed up and down in the summer's afternoon before flying apart as a black horse ripped across the road. At the reigns a man in golden armour rode, determination on his face. His brown hair fluttered violently in the winds and his green eyes focused forward. With one last bridge he crossed the isle scatted Gan River and cornered in the dirt for the sight ahead. Red and green houses lit with lanterns consumed the immediate horizon, ships big and small crowded its docks. Laughter, cheering and crackling could be heard as from the village centre a large firework shot up into the sky and exploded in reds. Yuwen laughed at the sight, relief coming over him. "Happy Emperor day," He whispered to himself as he began to ride his horse into the celebrating village of Poyo. This village housed his future guild, he knew it. And on this day, the Emperor’s birthday, everyone was out celebrating...

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Character Portrait: Yuwen Fortune Character Portrait: Sunaarashi
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Poyo: A small port town that spread haphazardly from the banks of the Gan River, the city looked a bit like a trapdoor spider from the hills that rose above it. The docks were the long legs, and the bulging abdomen, full of light and life at this time of year, housed the guts and lifeblood. Not that anyone besides Sunaarashi would probably make that comparison, but the desert warrior was a unique presence to the land, a presence that was not altogether wanted.

It was subtle, to be sure, just an odd look here or there, or the way people shuffled out of his way as if he smelled badly (which he most certainly didn't after that scrubbing he'd given himself earlier). Sunaarashi didn't blame the townspeople for their hesitation - he stood a foot above the majority of them, and his dark skin, bald head, and perpetual scowl certainly did him no favors.

Sunaarashi wasn't the only one getting the cold shoulder, though. The Emperor's birthday celebration had brought in travelers and rural citizens from all across the area, swelling the population of Poyo to double, or perhaps even triple, what it would normally be. If there was one thing the Yune Empire was proud of, it was their Emperor, and strangers from all across the land were participating in the parties.

This influx of new people was both closely watched and taken advantage of by the Poyo natives. The Nightflower Guild's representatives had a large tent set up in the village square, selling fireworks by the dozen to anyone with enough coin. The smell of smoke from the small firecrackers permeated the air, and the stacks of larger rockets forecasted an evening to remember once night fell. Vendors selling street food, balloons, candy, or handing out prizes to rigged carnival games, were on nearly every corner, luring the coin out of pockets and into locked boxes.

Inside the inns, the noise from the streets only seemed amplified. Waiters and waitresses bustled around to the filled tables, the smell of food, alcohol, and tobacco mixing and bursting out the open windows to draw in more customers. Outside the town, tents had been erected to host the many visitors, and both women and men wandered these tents, offering services of a more sensual kind.

In short, no one in this city expected to sleep tonight, and the noise and carousing would only get more rambunctious as the night grew later.

Sunaarashi wasn't here for the entertainment, however. In truth, it was just a coincidence that he happened to be here, on this most ostenatious of nights. The dark, tall man took a deep breath, and cinched the large bundle strapped to his back a little tighter. The threads knotted at the end of his sword's hilt, the blade itself strapped to his waist, swayed as he walked carefully through the crowds.

Right now, Sunaarashi simply wished he could find a quiet inn somewhere in the back of town to lie down, and get a good night's rest for once, but even the smallest inn would be doing everything they could to rake in the influx of cash this night provided. No one could afford to let this opportunity slip by.

And so it was that instead of sleeping, Sunaarashi wandered the streets. Although not a stranger to the city life, he held no love for it, being from Sune himself, fond of the wide open spaces and the isolation of the desert. Here, it was a different kind of isolation, one of culture. He didn't enjoy this latter kind near as much.

His eyes scanned the crowds listlessly. He wasn't in the mood for this. Having arrived earlier this day, he'd found that the town was already filled to capacity with traveling family and friends. As the sun had set, even more had appeared, until the city was nearly bursting with screaming, crying, shouting insanity.

Quite suddenly, Sunaarashi found himself nearing one of the gates of the village. Sunaarashi hesitated, wondering if he perhaps could find a tent to lie down in, one preferably free of bugs and other occupants, and while he paused, a rider caught his eye. Dressed in golden armor that glinted in the light from the fires and lanterns hung throuhgout the city, Sunaarashi could tell the young man was of mixed descent even from this distance.

"Must be a noble," Sunaarashi muttered, wondering to himself what a noble would want with Poyo. After a moment, the desert endemic shrugged and smiled. Whatever the young wellborn was doing in Poyo, it would be fun to watch him get sucked dry of all his coin. Perhaps he would remain in the city just a bit longer...

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Character Portrait: Suiken
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Serene music drifted throughout the town like a cool breeze, failing to be drowned out by all the noise and merriment of the festival and instead blending in and creating atmosphere on such a warm evening. Children and adults alike stood by the ponds, attempting to catch fireflies while the elderly exercised their minds as they tried to out-maneuver each other in slow and calculative games of Móu Zhi. Crowds gathered wherever money could be spent as fireworks decorated the sky, leaving trails of embers burning up the night sky...

"It was on an evening like this..." the gravelly voice of azure skinned oni, sporting tiger fur leggings and loin cloth recounted. He sat on the ground, inclined, up against a small house. "That they say the first emperor was born...." Gathered around him was a crowd consisting of townspeople and tourists alike, of all ages. The oni had long wild hair, black and gray, with equally wild looking eyebrows. He was a rather portly one, though upon closer inspection one could tell that he was quite sturdy. In his hands were two mallets and sitting before him was a large drum. The blue oni, Suiken, began his story, accompanied by the methodical thwack of the mallet against the drum.

"It was over three hundred years ago and there was deadly drought spreading the land..." Suiken began to sing, to the beats of the drum. "The livestock were dying, the crops became sand. The people prayed to the Heavens for an end to this drought," Suiken recited. "And the gods, they heard them, they heard them plead and shout," he continued, his pace along with his rhythm began to increase and intensify.

This crowd was the biggest Suiken had seen in at least a decade. Which, given that this was the smallest town he'd even seen to date was more than a little disappointing. He always did what he needed to draw in as many people as he could. Today's story was no different from his usual routine. As loathe as Suiken was to admit it, regardless of his opinions of Yune's... most glorious Empire, reciting the tale of the Imperial Family's lineage on the Emperor's birthday is the biggest draw he’s ever had. And more coin meant more food, particularly pork buns. Quality ones. The kind you could only find in a small town like Poyo.

Although, for all of his complaints about the size of the town, he couldn't help but admire it's people. Some would say they weren’t the best Yune...but they were a kind, simple folk. They wore their emotions on their sleeve and that was something Suiken could respect, at least as a storyteller. "The gods gave their answer within a beacon of light!" Suiken shouted in his guttural voice, almost frightening away some of the younger villagers. "It descended from the heavens, through the clouds, in the sky of darkest night! A golden dragon had appeared," he sang, his mallets scraping against the drum in broad swipes, giving out a unique echoing sound.

Thwam! Crakk!

“His appearance was frightening, but he alleviated all fears, for with a single roar and a shake of his mane!"

Thwam! Crakk!

"The cloud ripped open and at once...there was rain."

Suiken suddenly ceased his drumming to let another sound resonate itself within his audience’s ears; the slight dripping noises lightly tapping the drum skin. The children in the audience looked up in astonishment at the rain that had just poured from the sky as if by magic while the older and more wizened members of the audience figured Suiken had consulted the locals scholars and sages beforehand to time his story with the changing of the weather.

Regardless of what happened, the performance went over perfectly. Suiken stood up and bowed in gratitude at the applause he received and took his well earned coin graciously. Letting the applause of his audience die out behind him, he went on ahead to further explore the town. "Where to next...?" he sighed to himself. "Hmm. Maybe an inn...That'd be better than sleepin' near the pond again..."

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Character Portrait: Takai
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In the cool of the evening, beneath the fireworks and the stars, a row of tents formed a neat line on the outskirts of town, each resting against the riverbank like multicoloured soldiers. Many of them hung paper lanterns of yellow, orange, red and pink to illuminate the wooden signage that read the names of each temporary business. Sweeping across the line of tents was a man in long, blue ornate robes, unguarded and confident. He passed Silken Skin Massage, Miss Fei’s, Byeonsu Magic Cures and NOT Fireworks, until he met eye-to-eye with a small, unassuming purple tent, barely lit with pink lanterns on either side of the door. The sign below one of the lanterns read: Fortune Teller Wu Woon.

As the elegant stranger entered the tent his eyes would meet a mysterious figure dressed in all black. A sly grin formed his moustached face, “You must be the infamous teller of fortune!”

Wu Woon said nothing, his face completely covered by a large straw hat. He sat on the other side of a table that held atop an ordinary teapot and two ordinary teacups. Strange light formed swirling shadows on the inside of the tent, forcing the newcomer to glance once or twice around himself until Wu gestured to the empty wooden chair with a gloved hand. The moustached man’s lip twitched, clearly a nobleman out of his depth, but did as the mysterious figure suggested and sat, being sure to tuck in his silken robes gracefully. He attempted to peer into the darkness at Wu’s face but could see nothing but shadows and an outline of a beard.

“Name?” Woon suddenly asked.

“Lord Yuxuan Fu!”

The gloved hands began to move toward the teapot, where a small ribbon of steam wafted from the thin spout of the pot. As if choreographed the fortune teller lifted it carefully and paused. Yuxuan watched on in nervous anticipation until Wu released the tension between them and began to pour hot liquid into each cup. A simple green tea. He waited for the fortune teller to place the pot down and gesture to drink. Both of them lifted a cup to their lips and drank hurriedly, leaving remnants of tea leaves behind. Yuxuan looked down at his cup nervously.

“You want to know the future, my Lord,” Wu Woon smiled beneath his guise, “A man true to superstition.”

Yuxuan’s eyes shot up in surprise, “Yes! Yes! I hear you are one of the best!” He shoved his cup into Wu’s hands, “Please, tell my fortune!”

“Ahh…” the fortune teller spun the cup in his fingers, rotating it a clean eight times clockwise, and then another eight anti-clockwise, all the while Lord Yuxuan Fu looked on in an almost fevered impatience, “Aahh, yes, I see now!”

“What do you see?!”

“I see you…”

“Me?”

“Yes, yes, you…” Wu Woon muttered mysticly, “Naked.”

Yuxuan frowned, “...Naked?”

“Naked and ashamed!”

There was a pregnant pause. The two men stared at each other blankly until Wu Woon suddenly stood and flipped the table over, forcing Yuxuan to stumble backwards and fall onto his backside. The teapot and cups crashed into pieces on the floor.

“How...how dare you! HELP! SOMEONE HE-” Lord Yuxuan Fu’s yelps were cut short when a bow and arrow pointed directly into his face, and glaring from under the large brimmed straw hat was none other than Takai, The Noble Shaming Arrow of Flaming Lae Ming Wae. “Y-You!” the nobleman sputtered, backing up as quickly as he could, “I know you! You’re that criminal!”

“I beg to differ, sir,” Takai spat, stepping on the man’s robes to stop his movement, “I hear you’ve been extorting money. Raising land taxes so high that some of these businesses have no choice but to go into debt or leave-”

“Lies!” the man cried out desperately, “All lies!!”

The Beast-Man scoffed, “Oh I’m sure, but unfortunately for you I made a promise that I intend to keep.”

A scuffle was had, one I dare not repeat. Two figures emerged from the tent afterward, the first a man in a dragon mask, shrugging off a black robe, straw hat and gloves before melting into the lively streets of Poyo. The second man, Lord Yuxuan Fu, emerged from the tent stark naked save for a loincloth, gagged and tied by his ankles and wrists, hopping along the bank of the Gan River as onlookers stared at him in amused horror. And that was that.

***

The Golden Peach Inn was bursting with customers that night, a crowd so large and loud that the man in the mask had to squeeze through groups of drunk patrons in order to reach one of the waitresses holding a tray of empty cups. “Ruo!” he shouted, but it wasn’t until a hairy hand tapped her on the shoulder did she hear him, “Ruo, it’s done. Come quick!”

She gasped and threw the tray of cups onto a table before following him into the crowd. By the entrance a commotion could be heard, bouts of laughter and drunken shouting that followed into the street. Takai took off his mask, convinced he wouldn’t be caught on Emperor Day, and proudly gazed at his handiwork. Poor naked Lord Yuxuan Fu hopped hopelessly down the street, his embarrassed shouts for assistance muffled by the gag. People watched and laughed at the scene.

“Well, he’s not very popular, is he?” Takai grinned at Ruo who whooped and clapped beside him, black hair bobbing as she joined in on the festivity. She grinned back, “Are you kidding? He’s the worst! All of the businesses on this street hate him for stealing our money! He’ll get no love here.”

The Beast-Man mused, adding, “This won't solve your problem, though.”

“Maybe not,” Ruo shrugged, “But maybe he’ll be so embarrassed that he’ll never show his face here again. Maybe he’ll move to Tengala. It’s something of vengeance, so let me enjoy it, monkey.”

“And you won't hand me in to the guards anymore?” he asked.

“A deal is a deal.”

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Character Portrait: Namari Shioh
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"Three... two... and... ONE!"

A blinding lash of the hammer sprayed ribbons of sparks as the resounding clash of steel on steel rang through the workshop. A man and a woman, each situated on opposite sides of a table, braced themselves for the impact with wincing eyes -- the hammer's head struck the chain, and its force traveled to both ends where they clasped around both of their wrists, binding the two together. The shock rippled through their arms, rattling their bones in place but leaving the seemingly impervious metal chain links unscratched.

The blacksmith twirled his hammer in his hand once and then set it aside with a sigh, scratching his head.
"Ye best try elsewhere. I don't believe the thing's coming off for anything short of an ashura's axe."

"Bah, no worries," said the man. He slicked his brown hair back with his free hand, shaped with sweat from the live furnace radiating heat. "There are worse things than being chained to this tramp... you know, if you think about it long enough." The 'tramp' glared at him, but he pretended not to notice.

His name was Shuin Lang, a... simple... but proud swordsman from the small village of Ateyori. His face and clothes reeked of peasantry, and his armor was composed of similarly shoddy cloth wrappings. A plain katana rested in a plain scabbard at his waist.

In comparison, the woman -- Namari Shioh -- impressed upon a viewer at first glance a stark, unmistakable image of nobility. A long flowing silken kimono with detailed gold embroidery, an elaborately tied ponytail clinched with radiant and colorful floral hair ornaments, and her own katana which looked decidedly more expensive than peasant boy's.

Though at a distance it might appear she was dragging along some sort of indebted thrall, a peek under her sleeve revealed they were chained in equal measure. A most troubling fact for the both of them, for different reasons. Understandably, the one agreement they shared between them was to remove the chain as soon as possible.

Namari yanked the chain. Hard.

"YOW!" The metal brace chafed against Shuin's wrist, nearly scraping off the skin.

"Call me a tramp again."

"Why you... I'll call you a tramp as many times as I want! Tramp! Tramp! Tram--"

***

Namari left the workshop with a concussed Shuin dragged across the floor behind her like a corpse, his face picking up grains of dirt and other refuse as passersby occasionally stopped and turned their heads to briefly wonder the nature of this strange display. She reached into her kimono, producing a pipe and a light between three of her fingers. One motion to wedge it between her teeth, another to give it a spark, and one more to put the light away. Taking in the swaying festival lights as she merged into the crowds, Namari blew out a puff of smoke.

Yes, very explicitly... one agreement.

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Character Portrait: Lo-Muna Vanhi
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Children flocked to her, careful to grab the pinwheels in one hand as they dumped their parent's money into the other. It wasn't that she was selling them for a high price. She had just made sure to sell them for a high enough price to where she was still cheaper than the stalls around them. Not like it upset the vendors as they had their own flock of customers to contend with. Lo-Muna Vanhi had a small line but it dwindled as she began to run out of wares. She had known they were going to be popular but she had only so much coin to produce her items. Coin she had made twice, nearly three times over tonight in a very short span of time.

As she apologized to those who had come too late, she could see other children lighting up the tips of the petals, eyes widening as the wheel began to spin. Bright colors shooed off the darkness and spun a circle before them, the children clutching the stick of the pinwheel with a tight grip as though they were afraid their amusement would fly away. In the middle of the circle were vague designs that worked only with a child's imagination. Lo-muna herself could not make out the fantastical things they saw, but then again she had already begun walking away.

She loved it all, the sounds, the people, the bright lights that could be seen from miles away. The movement was her favorite part of festivals. The jostle and bustle of the crowd who were just as impatient as she was to be on the move, only pausing once something had caught their eye. Lo-muna herself was attracted by the variety of wares the vendors offered and nearly stopped at every stall on her way to inquire about the items. Many of them seemed impatient and she didn't stay long with them, knowing they had customers and had no time to deal with someone who offered no coin. A few indulged her inquiries but she didn't stay long with them either. Their interest turned to her and Lo-muna had no intention of getting in trouble tonight.

Merging back into the crowd, Lo-muna patted her bag and kept it close to her body. She could see where the darkness began, eventually leading to the gates, but had no intention of leaving the warmth behind. The business part of her night was over and now she would run the length of the festival again, recalling what stalls she had planned to return to.

People passed her and crowded her but Lo-muna didn't mind. The flow of the crowd was soothing and it wasn't like most people were paying her any mind in the festivities. In fact, she observed others as she walked with them and couldn't help but smile or laugh at how others interacted. Sometimes she would come across those who looked longingly at the food stalls in clothes obvious of their low station. Maybe a coin would slip from her bag as she passed by them but she didn't linger to see where it had gone. A beast-man like her only had so much liberty on a night like this.