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Thread: A Wolf Among Sheep [Rise of Three Kingdoms AAR]

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    Default A Wolf Among Sheep [Rise of Three Kingdoms AAR]

    A Wolf Among Sheep





    This AAR takes place as a third-person narrative, following the exploits and tragedy of Qu Yi - a famed general in ancient China. This will be an AAR based on my playthrough, with supporting screenshots, as opposed to content, images or other media used to fit the narrative I want. It is my first AAR ever, though not my first work of creative writing, so please do not be gentle in your constructive criticism.


    About the Game
    About the Game
    • Mod: Rise of Three Kingdoms v1.6 Beta
    • Faction played: Yuan Clan
    • Year: 194 CE, Winter


    Chapters
    Chapter I: Throes of Winter
    Chapter II: Coercion and Command
    Chapter III: Jieqiao
    Chapter IV: The Fallen


    Characters (Spoilers)

    Qu Yi: Main protagonist. An extremely talented commander and veteran of wars across China. Cool, calm and collected, yet lacking in humility. He was charged by Yuan Shao to invade Gongsun Zan in You province and destroy him, thus delivering the entirety of northern China into the Yuan clan's domain.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Yuan Shao: An aristocrat and member of the illustrious Yuan clan of Runan who, for several generations, had held some the highest titles within the Han Imperial government. After the collapse of the Han government, he took control of a large swathe of northern China and is currently battling Gongsun Zan for control of all the lands north of the Yellow River.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Gongsun Zan: A veteran cavalry commander of the Han dynasty, he used his martial prowess and battlefield leadership to consolidate his hold of the northern province of You. Instigating a war with Yuan Shao, through deceit, trickery and betrayal he has managed to hold an edge in the war thus far.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Wen Chou: A hero of Yuan Shao's army, he possesses unmatched size and strength, and exceptional skill in combat. Despite these, he is also known for his rash behavior and ill-temperment which, thus far, has not been to his detriment. Has a known history of conflict with Qu Yi.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Han Meng: A trustworthy commander of Yuan Shao. While not particularly skilled in strategy or battlefield command, he has a certain knack for logistics and has reliably supplied the frontline commanders with the needed men and supplies for their campaigns.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Yan Gang: A general of Gongsun Zan, he was tasked with taking Yuan Shao's province of Ji. He would be the main opposition to Qu Yi when the latter marched his armies north.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Shan Jing: A reliable commander of Gongsun Zan. In charge of the exterior defenses of Fanyang, he supported Yan Gang in his mission to conquer Ji province.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Gongsun Fan: Younger brother of Gongsun Zan, who holds loyalty to his family above all else, even his own life.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Zhang He: A great general of Yuan Shao. While Qu Yi attacks Gongsun Zan in the north, he is charged with conquering the Black Mountain bandits in the west.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Last edited by Seether; July 10, 2018 at 01:59 PM.
    Member of the Imperial House of Hader - Under the Benevolent Patronage of y2day
    A Wolf Among Sheep: A Rise of Three Kingdoms AAR

  2. #2

    Default Re: A Wolf Among Sheep [Rise of Three Kingdoms AAR]

    Man you've got me excited! An AAR set in China? That too during 3 kingdoms period? Amazing! I hope to see the first chapter soon.
    My AAR- The Restoration of the Empire-A Vanilla Byzantine AAR

  3. #3
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    Default Re: A Wolf Among Sheep [Rise of Three Kingdoms AAR]

    Chapter I: Throes of Winter



    Winter was in it's death throes, giving one last, desperate grasp to maintain it's icy grip on the land, yet all it could muster was a benign wind and a light dusting of snow over the landscape. A chilly winter breeze swept through through a column of soldiers - some fifteen hundred strong - trudging their way along a northerly dirt road in the middle of the expansive snow-covered plains of Hebei. On each side of the column mounted soldiers carried a colorful array of banners - gold, black, red and blue, all with trim and borders of varying hues - bearing the symbol of the Yuan clan. The linen fabric of the banners fluttered about carelessly in the wind, causing a scantily audible snapping to be heard by the men in the immediate vicinity. The constant and dull crunching of snow underneath thousands of weary feet and hooves, however, was the only sound to be discerned by anyone else marching in the formation, as it drowned out all else.

    Each of the soldiers was armed and armored, to a greater or lesser extent, showing full-well that they were marching off to war. Single-edged swords, halberds, shields, crossbows, bolts, and leather and steel lamellar armor could all be discerned amongst the throng of soldiers. Behind them a long wagon train, with oxen and mules serving as beasts of burden, followed in the wake of the army. Supply officials, laborers, craftsmen, and even women of ill-repute, made up those who were a part of the train. Wherever the assemblage were going, their intent was obviously to conquer and stay.



    At the head of this host, with all its panoply of war, rode two dozen horsemen, the foremost of them a man near fifty years of age atop a white stallion. Donning a steel helmet with a tall, red-colored plume protruding proudly from the top, the man was wrapped in a long, thick green cloak, spattered at the bottom with mud, grime and other signs of extensive usage. Underneath his cloak the aged man wore exquisite armor: a chest protector made from verticle plates of steel lamellar, with scales that covered his shoulders down to almost the bend in his elbow, as well as a split section of vertical plates that extended from his waist down to his mid-thigh - all pieces tied together with red silk thread. Over this, around his waist, he wore a wide leather belt with a few small silver embellishments. His face was weathered, lines worn around his eyes and etched into his forehead and brow. A short beard, peppered with grey hairs, circled around his mouth. From his chin it hung down, in a thin grouping of strands, several inches and nearly touched the tan embroidered robe he wore underneath his armor. His eyes, cold and steely, lay fixed upon the path ahead; a wide dirt path, cutting through the broad plains north of Xindu, now covered with a sprinkling of snowcover, save for the few windswept trails from previous travelers that kicked up the underlying black dirt, mixing it with the pristine white that had laid above it. Like his comrades, aside from those coughing or sniffing from effects of the late winter march, the man was silent. While no words escaped his lips, with each exhale of breath steam escaped and rose into the chilly air before disappearing into nothingness.


    While his men were tired, the man's stoic demeanor was from something much more than weariness: determination. Three days earlier, before he and his men set out from the walled city of Xindu, his liege, Yuan Shao, had given him very important and very explicit instructions. He was on the march now to see such fulfilled and, as he squinted his eyes at the horizon, the appearance of distant torch light meant that he was now coming closer to doing so.

    "General Wen's camp," he stated coolly, stretching out his left hand and pointing at the barely visible lights. "We made better time than I thought."

    "Aye," a horseman, bearing the rank insignia of a Captain, to his left replied. "He camped on the south end of Jie bridge as he was supposed to. I'll have the drummer pass the word and..."



    The aged man raised his hand and shook his head slowly. "No, no," he said, his eyes still fixed on the horizon. "Send a scout, just to make sure. Bogui is a wily one... And have the men come to a stop for now until we figure this out."

    Bogui was the styled name of Gongsun Zan, the leader of the northern province of Youzhou and mortal enemy of Yuan Shao. Gongsun Zan was a veteran of the frontier wars against the Wuhuan peoples of northern China, as well as a highly skilled cavalry commander. Like Yuan Shao he had served as an official of the Han dynasty but, with the decay of the Han's authority, the rise and fall of the tyrant Dong Zhuo, and the country now divided and control by local warlords, past affiliations meant next to nothing. For nearly two years now he and Yuan Shao had been waging war in Hebei, the region north of the Yellow River, for complete mastery and dominance of the region. That is why Yuan Shao had sent the old military man and his army north.

    "Of course, General Qu," the Captain responded as he nodded his head. Turning his horse around quickly, the Captain made his way back down the column with haste. A few moments later another rider, this one of much lesser rank, sped ahead of the force, making his way down the road towards the camp in the distance. It was then that the flags being wielded by the horsemen at the front of the column began to move in a near-synchronized manner, signaling to those behind them. Commands for the column to halt, and assume defensive positions along the road, could then be heard being shouted from men farther back in the column. As the command was repeated, every few seconds, each iteration became quieter and less coherent than the one before as it moved further back down the column. The men came to a halt, moved slightly to one side of the road or the other and faced outwards, many dropping the butt of their weapon or shield onto the snowy ground beside them in an act not of defiance or ill-discipline, but of exhaustion.

    The Captain returned to General Qu's side, watching with him as the scout slowly faded into the every darkening distance. Both remained silent, their gaze intently fixed on the scene before them in the far distance, occasionally pulling on the reins of their steeds as the horses shifted about from anxiety. General Qu's thoughts then shifted to things other than war, tension and uncertainty; he reminisced of memories far removed from the present day. Memories of sunny, cool spring mornings near the banks of the Yellow River and his childhood home of Pingyuan. Blossoming peach trees and sparrows darting across the blue sunny sky, while crickets chirped and children laughed along the banks of the river. Memories of contenment and modesty. Of his parents. Of lost love. Of a simpler time before his true calling was realized. For three years, since he returned to his home province from the western frontier, he had not returned home. Even when his orders sent him near to Pingyuan, not once did he deviate from his orders. For him memories were just that: memories. Memories were from the past, of things that could not be changed, and they needed to remain in the past. There was nothing for him there anymore. He had made a new life, found his own path, and returning himself to once-was would serve no purpose. Yet still, every now and then, the memories appeared and permeated his thoughts. He was far from a supersitious man, but he could not shake the nagging feeling that such incidents, in some way, meant something.

    "General?" The Captain's voice snapped Qu back to reality, the memories once so prominent in his mind now evaporated, and he turned his head toward the man, giving him his attention. "General Qu Yi, the scout is returning and the braziers have been lit in the camp. Should we have the men set up defenses for the night?"

    It was a rhetorical question, as the Captain knew the answer, but proper military protocol needed to be followed. "Make sure to set up scouts one li in all directions," Qu Yi replied, his eyes darting about to the land around the column. Letting out a shallow sigh he continued, "I'll ride ahead and meet with General Wen. Hopefully he is more pleasant than at Bohai... You have the command, Captain Hu."

    "Aye, General," Captain Hu responded with a slight snicker, as he brought his right arm across his body, closing his fist in a salute against his breastplate. After a brief nod, Qu Yi turned his attention to Wen Chou's camp in the distance and spurred his trusty steed forward into a quick trot. The other two dozen cavalrymen, who had been riding at the front of the column, quickly gave chase, taking up formation along either side of the General as they accompanied him. With Wen Chou, the aged general knew, this meeting was going to be interesting, to say the least.
    Member of the Imperial House of Hader - Under the Benevolent Patronage of y2day
    A Wolf Among Sheep: A Rise of Three Kingdoms AAR

  4. #4

    Default Re: A Wolf Among Sheep [Rise of Three Kingdoms AAR]

    My apologies. I commented too early I see. Anyway this mod looks awesome and so does the prospects of your AAR. I love the descriptions. The army it seems is about to take the offensive soon. As for our General Qu it's sad that he hasn't visited his home in a long time. Those childhood memories seem really beautiful. I especially loved your description of General Qu. I loved your AAR and will wait for more.PS Do you think you could guide me in making that banner for the signature? I would really appreciate it.
    Last edited by Caesar16; June 18, 2018 at 02:52 PM.
    My AAR- The Restoration of the Empire-A Vanilla Byzantine AAR

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    Default Re: A Wolf Among Sheep [Rise of Three Kingdoms AAR]

    Quote Originally Posted by Caesar16 View Post
    My apologies. I commented to early I see. Anyway this mod looks awesome and so does the prospects of your AAR. I love the descriptions. The army it seems is about to take the offensive soon. As for our General Qu it's sad that he hasn't visited his home in a long time. Those childhood memories seem really beautiful. I especially loved your description of General Qu. I loved your AAR and will wait for more.PS Do you think you could guide me in making that banner for the signature? I would really appreciate it.
    Thank you for your kind words! I sent you a PM.
    Member of the Imperial House of Hader - Under the Benevolent Patronage of y2day
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    Default Re: A Wolf Among Sheep [Rise of Three Kingdoms AAR]

    Chapter II: Coercion and Command



    "Shan Jing sits with his men on the north side of the Zhangyi River and has been reinforced by Yan Gang, who has taken command," a grizzled young soldier, with dirt and grime covering his face and clothing, stated as his right index finger pointed to a position on the fragile map lying on the table before him. Surrounded by nearly a dozen officers, he raised his eyes for a moment, scanning the room, before continuing. "Their combined force is over a thousand men. Probably closer to eleven-hundred."

    "What are they doing there?" questioned a mid-grade officer, holding his helmet under his left arm and his dark, shoulder-length hair falling freely down his neck. "Drawing us in for an ambush?"

    The man at the map shook his head slowly. "My scouts and I didn't detect any other force in the area. Yan Gang came from Fan Yang, to the east, apparently nearly emptying the city of it's garrison."


    "Ha!" a loud, guttural voice exclaimed. It emanated from a tall, bulky beast of a man with a wild beard sprouting from his face. Standing in the corner of the command tent, with his massive arms crossed about his chest, he leaned against the support pole directly behind him. The man was Wen Chou, the fearsome and favored general of Yuan Shao, and whose camp Qu Yi had just recently arrived. "The fools," he continued in a haughty tone, "they leave themselves exposed."

    Most of the men in the room, of which almost all were of Wen Chou's staff, nodded their heads or murmured in agreement. Shifting his weight off of the pole, which caused the entire tent to momentarily shake, Wen Chou took several steps forward, his heavy armor rattling as he did so. "We should wait for Han Meng and his reserves to arrive, then cross the river in force. Hit them with everything we have and slaughter the entire lot! Chase those rats back into the dirty holes from which they've been hiding!"

    At this Wen Chou's men cheered, their bloodlust apparently going to be satiated with their commander's plan. Wen smiled broadly, quite pleased that he would get to play the hero in the upcoming battle, which was just how he liked it. He was a favorite of Yuan Shao and thoroughly utilized such favor to enhance himself and his position, at times at the expense of others. In this instance, it would be at the expense of sound tactics, strategy, and the lives of Qu Yi's soldiers.

    Qu Yi, who had remained silent thus far and stood with one of his bodyguards on the far side of the tent, simply observed what was transpiring around him. He and Wen Chou had a... strained relationship. Earlier in the year, the two had nearly come to blows over the correct course of action against a large group of bandits terrorizing the roads and hills near Bohai. Yuan Shao had to step in and settle the matter, giving authorization for Wen Chou to execute his plan. Instead of taking part, Qu Yi remained in his camp, with Wen Chou mocking him and calling him a coward. The expedition was a disaster. Wen led his command headlong into the forested hills, louder and as nimble as a circus marching into town, and sustained heavy losses to ambushes and guerilla strikes. Wen Chou was able to eventually rout the bandits, but at the expense of over half of his five-hundred men. The debacle led Yuan Shao's advisors to recommend Qu Yi to lead the campaign against Gongsun Zan which, surprisingly, Yuan Shao reluctantly agreed. While it was an imagined slight of his own making, Wen Chou now had a vendetta against the aged Qu Yi. Qu, on the other hand, now held no respect for either Wen Chou's abilities as a military leader or his mental toughness or fortitude.

    "Only if you want a repeat of Bohai, or worse," Qu Yi said in a loud, booming voice that cut through the room, silencing everyone. General Wen's staff looked to their commander, wide-eyed, afraid of what his response would be. Wen Chou remained motionless, yet his anger and disdain were visible to all through the reddening of his cheeks. "These are not some muddle of rice farmers with pitchforks. These are battle-hardened soldiers under the command of experienced leaders."

    Taking several steps forward, in the direction of Wen Chou, he then stopped and placed his hands behind his back. "They would not leave themselves so exposed," he continued, looking down at the map briefly before turning his gaze to Wen Chou. "Unless, of course, they believed someone capable of falling for their ploy was in command. Which, apparently, they did."

    At this Wen Chou's face turned bright red and a vein in the middle of his forehead began to protrude. "Spineless bastard!" he bellowed, nearly shaking the entire room to utter rubble with his rage. "Those horse-mongers have been too over-confident for far too long and finally they have made the mistake I've been waiting for! If you..."

    "They are not the ones being over-confident, General Wen," Qu Yi interrupted, motioning with his left hand toward the map. "If we wait for Han Meng, then cross the river in force, we will then leave ourselves trapped between Yan Gang in the north and another force from the the south."

    At this, Wen furrowed his brow, then let out a hearty laugh. "Force from the south? There is no force south of us, you old fool!" His men laughed with him, although timidly and with unease.

    His lips forming a smirk, Qu Yi simply raised his brow and waited for the laughter to die down. "Do we have scouts in the east, north of Bohai?" he asked, already knowing the answer. After a moment of silence, he continued. "The enemy's plan is to lure us, all of us, over the river to engage their exposed army under Yan Gang. Then, after we have crossed, another force moving secretly from the east will come in behind us and block the bridge."

    He then stepped near to the table. "We will be trapped," he stated in a firm voice, then smashed his fist against the table, right on the map where Jie bridge was located. "And then we will be slaughtered."

    It was at this moment that all in the room, even Wen Chou, could clearly see that such was obviously the case. There was no more debate. Wen Chou's plan would have been a major rout, a disaster of epic proportions. Then Gongsun Zan's forces would have had free reign to march south into the heart of Ji province, perhaps even attacking Yuan Shao's headquarters in Xindu. Even if none wanted to admit it, Qu Yi had just saved their lives and the entire campaign. Looking about the room at each of the assembled men, Qu Yi raised his right hand and gently stroked his beard between his thumb and forefinger. "You will stay here, guarding the south end of the bridge and the eastern approaches, and wait for General Han. Tomorrow i will lead my men over the Jie bridge, seizing the advantage they have given us, and dislodge those rebels from the field."

    All were still speechless and none dared argue against Qu Yi's plan. Slightly nodding his head, in quick rapid succession, he turned about and retrieved his helmet held by his bodyguard, then exited the tent. For now, at least, the campaign was safe, but tomorrow such would be decided in blood and agony.

    --------------------------------------------------------

    The Following Morning...

    By the break of dawn Qu Yi's camp had been broken down and the entire army was ready and assembled. Aside from some minor scares from encroaching wildlife, there were no incidents during the night. Within a short time the army was on the march, once again in a column, heading east around Wen Chou's encampment, and then north over Jie bridge. At the head of his host Qu Yi spotted Wen Chou, a scowl written across his face, and a resolute refusal to even look in Qu's direction. At least the man had the decency to see the soldiers off and offer encouraging words to them as they passed. Not a terrible human-being, just a boisterous and head-strong one.

    Within an hour the bridge over the Zhangyi River was in sight and scouts were dispatched to the other side. Again, there were no incidents as the army began to cross the bridge. But something was amiss. "Do you hear that?" Qu Yi asked Captain Hu, who rode next to him.

    Holding his breath and straining to make out the sound, no matter how faint it was, that the General was speaking of, Captain Hu took several seconds to respond. "No," he replied, as if missing something obvious. "I don't hear anything."

    "Exactly," Qu Yi retorted. In fact nothing, not even the birds in the trees, frogs along the shore, or wind whipping across the plain could be heard. It was an eerie, dreadful silence, one that Qu Yi was all too well accustomed to. "Get the men over the bridge and into formation. Now!"

    Just as Captain Hu sped off toward the bridge and began shouting commands to the squad leaders, scouts returned to report the approach of Yan Gang and Shan Jing's combined force. Closing his eyes, Qu Yi looked up to the clear, blue sky and mouthed a quick prayer. None near him could hear his words, but this was his custom before every engagement he ever took part of. Finished with his prayer, and taking a moment to collect himself, he opened his eyes and looked out at the horizon to see the enemy's force traversing the crest of a low-lying hill in front of them.

    "Sir!" Hu shouted as he returned to the General's side. "The men are almost all off the bridge and forming up!"

    Qu Yi, in turn, had his steed turn and face back toward the assembled grim-faced soldiers. "The enemy approaches!" he shouted as he raised his weapon into the air. "Prepare for battle!"



    Last edited by Seether; June 18, 2018 at 03:29 PM.
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  7. #7

    Default Re: A Wolf Among Sheep [Rise of Three Kingdoms AAR]

    Another update? Well that was quick and interesting. How did Wen Chou even get command of such an important force? Yuan Shao must be blind. The Bohai example taken up by Qu was quite a insult. The silence when they were crossing the bridge gave me goosebumps. This battle is gonna be bloody. Also it seems that rivalry between the two generals may affect the campaign. Another great chapter. Are you gonna post the whole AAR in next 24 hours?(Consider it to be a compliment) That was really fast. You should perhaps wait for 2-3 days before posting?
    My AAR- The Restoration of the Empire-A Vanilla Byzantine AAR

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    Default Re: A Wolf Among Sheep [Rise of Three Kingdoms AAR]

    Thank you Caesar16!

    Wen Chou was a fierce warrior, albeit a commander with liabilities. While his straight-forward, head-strong approach could work in many situation, he would find trouble against those with finesse and tactical prudence. He had his uses and was highly respected by those who valued strength and martial ability above all else. Yuan Shao was notorious for his indecision and failure to utilize his military commanders properly (see Zhang He and Gao Lan).

    Doubtful that I'll get the next chapter up today. I already ran the battle earlier, so I just need to type it up. The next chapter will probably be the last for a few days, as I'll need to replenish my creative juices.
    Member of the Imperial House of Hader - Under the Benevolent Patronage of y2day
    A Wolf Among Sheep: A Rise of Three Kingdoms AAR

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    Default Re: A Wolf Among Sheep [Rise of Three Kingdoms AAR]

    Its good to see an AAR based on the exploits of one of Yuan Shao's best generals, who has always been shafted by popular fiction. I just know this will be a great AAR!

    Also, are those new icons for the heavy swordsmen and heavy pikemen I see in the screenshot? They look quite good!
    The Persian Empire could raise about 700 soldiers a goat and two chicken
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    Default Re: A Wolf Among Sheep [Rise of Three Kingdoms AAR]

    I appreciate it knightofhonnor! Qu Yi has definitely been shafted; in Romance he was killed by Zhao Yun at Jieqiao, just to boost Yilong’s greatness. In history he was responsible for beating the brakes off of Gongsun Zan, arguably one of the most powerful military forces in China, on several occasions and ultimately wiped them off the map.

    Your eyes do not deceive you. Those are part of the massive v1.6 update coming out soon, with a ton of great UI work (including these unit cards) made by cedric37.
    Last edited by Seether; June 18, 2018 at 04:13 PM.
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    Default Re: A Wolf Among Sheep [Rise of Three Kingdoms AAR]

    Chapter III: Jieqiao





    Exhaling through his nose, Qu Yi watched intently as the army of Yang Gang, arrayed before him, approached in a methodical manner. His own forces were positioned in a wide front. His infantry held the front line with alternating sections of halberdiers and swordsmen; in the center were his heaviest and most experienced units. Behind them he position the crossbowmen, ready to unleash a hail of bolts on the approaching enemy. His own cavalry were found on the flanks, set back from the infantry line, awaiting a signal from their commander. Qu and his bodyguards sat back in the center of the formation, serving as a strategic reserve, as did the elite Suicide Vanguard on the left side.

    Yan Gang was using an interesting formation: missile units in the front, infantry in the middle ranks, and the famed cavalry of Gongsun Zan in the rear. However, such did not cause much concern for the General, as he both expect a heavy presence of horsemen amongst their ranks and already had the enemy fighting the battle he wanted. Now it was just a matter of forcing Yan Gang and Shan Jing into doing what he wanted, when he wanted them to do it. that was the real battle being fought.

    "General," Captain Hu said, his voice low so that others couldn't overhear him. "Is this not an unnecessary risk? If they respond in a way that we don't anticipate, our front lines could take troubling casualties."

    Qu Yi nodded his head, validating the man's concerns. Captain Hu was a good man and cared for the men, but so did the General. Winning a battle was important, but it meant nothing if your own force was destroyed in the process. While he directed the pieces and provided the opportunities for victory, it was the soldiers, in the blood and dirt, who decided the outcome. He would never wantonly throw their lives away. "Everything will be fine," he replied, without being dismissive. "They rely too much on the strength of their cavalry. And being so, we must use that strength and turn it into their weakness."

    When he was a much younger man, Qu Yi had fought on the western frontier against the Qiang; a fierce people who based their warfare on cavalry. He studied them, their methodology, and their tactics, and knew them as if he had been raised in their huts. He defeated the Qiang, time and again, and earned much admiration and fear amongst his adversaries. Mounted soldiers were a fearsome weapon of war, whether within China or among the tribes at her borders, yet they were just as vulnerable as a lone man if countered and combated properly.

    "Our victory is already assured, Captain," Qu said, offering a rare smile in this time of extreme danger. Hu smiled, weakly, in return, confused how the General could be so certain of winning the field this day or at least with enough of his army intact to push on into You province. For now he would say nothing. There was a battle to be won.




    Soon the army of Yan Gang came to a halt, still quite a distance away, yet the missile troops, a mix of bows and crossbows, continued to advance. Due to the positioning of his forces, Qu Yi knew Yan Gang's missiles would be in range of his infantry while his own crossbows would be powerless to counter them. Yet it was all a part of the plan. The enemy came within their range, halted, then began to prepare. They took aim, fired, and began to reload. Bolts and arrows rained down upon the front line of Qu Yi's men. Screams of pain filled the air as some fell down, many to never rise again. Another volley and, again, the same result. As they prepared their third volley Qu Yi motioned to the drummer near to him, who promptly banged on his large drum three times in quick succession. This was the signal the cavalry on the flanks had been waiting for.

    At once they raced forward, toward the center, at the completely exposed missile troops. By the time Yan Gang noticed what was happening he ordered his own cavalry forward to stop them, but it was took late. Qu Yi had caught them off-guard. Qu's cavalry crashed into the frightened archers and crossbowmen from two directions, inflicting terrible losses.




    After a brief melee lasting only a few seconds, Qu Yi's horsemen abruptly turned about and galloped toward their own lines; not the flanks they had come from. Just behind them, in hot pursuit, were the horsemen of Yan Gang, lead by their commander. As Qu Yi's cavalry approached, he once again motioned to the drummer, who gave two quick beats, paused, then two more quick beats. The frontline infantry, and crossbowmen behind them, quickly shuffled about, forming lanes through which the friendly cavalry could pass through on their way to the rear of the formation. While there were several incidents where a horse ran into one of the footsoldiers or plowed through one of the ranks, the movement worked as intended. The infantry and crossbowmen quickly resumed their positions as soon as the cavalry had passed through, with the former taking immediate defensive positions. Just as they did the enemy cavalry smashed into their lines, attempting to puncture the center, however the disciplined, halberd-armed soldiers held. The sound of metal upon metal and metal upon flesh filled the air, as did the distinct odor of blood. The ensuing carnage was unimaginable.




    Rider after rider and horse after horse were felled by Qu Yi's men. While the front line infantry sustained hard losses, they gave far better than they received. At this same time the infantry of Yan Gang had advanced in to support their beleaguered compatriots, but were now well within range of Qu Yi's crossbows. Their advance was met with a shower of bolts, with dozens of men falling with each volley. These volleys were so terrible and so distracting that, by the time they came close to Qu Yi's front line, they did not notice the cavalry approaching from their rear. After having earlier passed through their own lines, Qu Yi's cavalry had remained in the rear, but discreetly pushed back out to the flanks. As soon as the allied crossbow bolts began falling on the enemy they advanced in a wide loop, then came charging full-speed into the rear of the advancing enemy infantry.




    Yan Gang, Shan Jing, and their entire force was now completely surrounded. While they fought valiantly, the battle was now lost. Qu Yi, for good measure, ordered the Suicide Vanguard into the fray, to relieve his bloodied infantry at the center of the line, while he personally advanced into combat as well. The slaughter was relentless. Yan Gang fought heroicly, but was felled by a halberd to the chest. Shan Jing somehow managed to break through the line, surprising Qu Yi's crossbowmen as he charged past them in an attempt to flee to their rear. While the first volley missed, the second did not. One bolt hit him in the back, puncturing his lung, then two more struck him in the spine and in the base of the head. He promptly fell from his horse dead.




    Two-hundred and fifty men gave up and surrendered their arms, becoming captives to those they had just tried to kill. Six-hundred and fifty, including two high ranking generals, had fallen in combat. It was a complete rout. Qu Yi had lost, either killed or wounded, roughly four-hundred men. The day had been won, decisively, in a crushing victory as a result of Qu Yi's brilliant planning. Battered and bloody, Captain Hu found Qu Yi, both men breathing heavily and having wet their blade. Scanning the battlefield, and the corpses of the men that had died, Qu Yi nodded his head while bearing his teeth. "You see," he began before exhaling through his mouth deeply. "That's how you turn cavalry into a weakness."

    Hu smiled... then began to chuckle, then soon it became a full-out laugh. Qu Yi joined him. Nothing brings out a contempt for death quite like fighting for one's life on the battlefield.


    Last edited by Seether; June 18, 2018 at 07:15 PM.
    Member of the Imperial House of Hader - Under the Benevolent Patronage of y2day
    A Wolf Among Sheep: A Rise of Three Kingdoms AAR

  12. #12

    Default Re: A Wolf Among Sheep [Rise of Three Kingdoms AAR]

    I am quite enjoying this. I haven't gotten around to playing any of the mods for China yet, but have heard good things and am quite interested in the period. You're showing off the mod quite well, and creating a good story to boot! So good on you!

    Regarding the actual story/writing, I don't think I have any comments thus far. The descriptions are nice, but you still keep a pretty sharp pace going as well, and your use of screenshots is also very helpful. At first I thought there were too many (just from the look of the thing), but each one is placed carefully and augments the storytelling well. I must also say that I love that you have centered the screenshots in each frame and put that little extra bit of effort into the formatting. I myself can be a bit OCD, but I think in general that last pinch of production value can tip the scales for potential readers who aren't sure whether or not they want to invest the time. So keep that up.

    The only suggestion I do have is to maybe slow down the posting of new updates. It is cool to have them available so quickly, and for you to be able to get the creativity so condensed as to write 3 full posts in a day and a half, but it may scare away some readers. My suggestion would be to keep going at the pace you're going with writing, but just save the updates somewhere on your computer and then start posting them at regular intervals (e.g. once a week on Sunday, or every Sunday and Wednesday). The regularity can be nice for readers, and then if you get ahead a few sections you'll have something to fall back on in case you are busy for a while. Not sure whether or not he'll get over here for a look, but it might be good to ask Alwyn what his thoughts are, as he gave me good advice about post length and spacing for my own AAR. Again though, these are all just suggestions and can be entirely ignored if you don't agree.

    At any rate, I'll be watching with interest, and possibly even downloading this mod (you've piqued my interest most sufficiently!).
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  13. #13
    Seether's Avatar RoTK Workhorse
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    Default Re: A Wolf Among Sheep [Rise of Three Kingdoms AAR]

    Thank you for the feedback!

    I, too, can have a touch of OCD about certain things and that's probably why they are centered. At the time I centered them because I thought they looked cleaner and looked nicer, giving the post a better look. Then again, if they were aligned left and kind of jumbled about, I think I'd lose my mind

    I'll take your advice on slowing down on the updates, perhaps posting one per week. Yesterday I was on a tear; it had been a few years since I had wrote anything significant. I probably could have held off on Chapter III for at least a few days, but I got a little antsy.
    Member of the Imperial House of Hader - Under the Benevolent Patronage of y2day
    A Wolf Among Sheep: A Rise of Three Kingdoms AAR

  14. #14

    Default Re: A Wolf Among Sheep [Rise of Three Kingdoms AAR]

    No worries. I understand the desire to throw things out into the world as soon as they're ready, and only slowed myself because Alwyn told me he'd gotten much better results (in terms of viewership) by posting once or twice a week and ideally on fixed days. I thought I'd fire that same advice your way. And I also understand/sympathize with the OCDness. It makes things look clean, but it can be a real curse sometimes.
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  15. #15

    Default Re: A Wolf Among Sheep [Rise of Three Kingdoms AAR]

    I'm enjoying the three chapters of this AAR so far. The mood looks interesting - personally, I like the aesthetics of ancient china but for some reason never read much about it or played a game about this era... I'm definitely going to try out this mod some day!

    And about the AAR itself I can' really add anything that hasn't been said. I'm looking forward what's going to happen next!

  16. #16
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: A Wolf Among Sheep [Rise of Three Kingdoms AAR]

    I'm enjoying this too, your well-written commentary and great screenshots make it easy to follow the tactics of Qu Yi and Yan Gang. I particularly liked the way that Qu Yi responded to Captain Hu's quiet concern, and Qui Yi's reflections on his experience of warfare against the Qiang. I agree with Caesar16 that the Rise of Three Kingdoms mod looks awesome - the textures, the units cards, the banners for units and armies and the in-battle event screens (with the yellow scrolls and artwork) are all well done.

  17. #17
    Seether's Avatar RoTK Workhorse
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    Default Re: A Wolf Among Sheep [Rise of Three Kingdoms AAR]

    Chapter IV: The Fallen






    Innumerable broken weapons, wagons, steeds and men - which only moments before had been so powerful, vibrant and majestic - now lay rotting in the mud and gore covered fields of Jieqiao. Moans of the wounded and dying, both of which would undoubtedly never leave this place, created a haunting whisper that carried to the livings' ears along with the wind. This was Hell. Not figurtively, but a literal and visceral Hell. None could escape it. It lay scattered in the muddy snow as far as the living could see and it permeated the very air they breathed. The battle had been decided in just under an hour but, for thousands still there and countless others back home awaiting news of their loved ones, it would remain a passage of time that none could forget.

    Sitting on a stool under a gold and black with long, colorful tassels, Qu Yi had his armor off and was actively washing the grime of battle from his neck and face with a blood-soaked rag. The copper basin in which he used to wet the rag was no longer filled with water, but a crimson ichor that only grew darker after each time he cleaned a spot on his body. He had been unwounded, but his trusty warhorse had not fared as well. In the closing stages of the battle, when a rout was underway, it had stumbled in some uneven ground and broken its leg. Qu Yi had already mercifully dispatched the animal, much to his anguish. It was a strong, noble beast that had served him well for years; carrying him into numerous battles and never so much as received a scratch. And then, during a time that was not pivotal or exceedingly important, it became, quite uncerimoniously, one of the fallen.

    "Sir!" Captain Hu called out as he entered the tent, before stopping in his tracks as soon as he spotted the General. Hu had received a superficial cute across his left cheek, but was otherwise unscathed. He looked about in the small, enclosed area briefly before turning his attention back to the aged man on the stool. Qu Yi did not appear to notice him, as his eyes remained fixed straight ahead, as if right through the Captain.

    "Where are your attendants?" Hu then said, looking down at the ground at Qu Yi's bloodied armor. Bending down, he picked up the collection of lamellar-plated pieces and gathered them in his arms.

    "They're out there," Qu replied, lifting his chin to motion outside, as he now began slowly washing his upper chest. "Doing what they can, for whoever they can."

    Exhaling through his nose, Hu allowed a frown to form on his lips. After he had been given his orders to tend to the wounded and reform the able-bodied, he hadn't seen the General. He had assumed he was tending to important strategic matters following the victory or at least doing something other than sitting, deep in thought, in this tent. Even still, such was Qu Yi's way and he could not pretend to intimately know the man or to judge him in any matter. Unlike others, Qu Yi did not bask in sending youths out to meet their end for some patch of worthless land some highborn noble decided so many were worth dying over. He cared for those under his command and did not wish to see harm come to any of them. Yet, as a soldier himself, he knew that blood would have to be spilt, lives cut short, pain endured for the rest of ones life. In every engagement that he fought, Qu Yi's goal was not only to defeat the enemy, but do so in a manner that saved as many of his comrades' lives as possible. Such was his way as a commander and, to this day, he remained undefeated and crushing victories, like this one at Jieqiao, became commonplace.


    "I have the squad leaders forming their men to move out in the next hour, as you commanded," he said, brushing a thick piece of grassy earth off the pauldrons of Qu's armor. He paused for a moment, unsure if he should continue, but decided that it was his duty to speak up. "Is it not wise to wait until tomorrow, at least, before we move out? The men are exhausted from fighting. And we have hundreds of wounded that need care, and..."

    "Leave the detachment of surgeons to care for the wounded," Qu interrupted, purposely keeping his gaze from meeting Hu's. He dropped the rag in the basin, to which bloody water splashed and spilled onto the ground around it. The General then stood up, slowly, with his hands pressed firmly against the top of his knees. "As well as Sergeant Zhou's brigade. Have them ferry whoever is able to travel to General Wen's camp. When General Hao comes this way with our reinforcements, they are to accompany him north and rendezvous with us at Fanyang."

    Moving over to Captain Hu, he stood before him and held out his right hand, gently grabbing his armor that Hu was holding. "The enemy expects us to sit here and wait, licking our wound, before moving on to Fanyang," he said, taking his armor and allowing it to drop down by the side of his leg. "They think they have a few days more than they actually do to gather provisions and prepare for a siege. We'll catch them with their pants around their ankles. The men will do fine, for danger is naught on the road ahead."

    Hu nodded his head as he raised his left hand to scratch a spot just above his eye. The General's reasoning was sound and he felt satisfied with his rationale. "Very well, General Qu," he responded, bowing his head, as he turned to leave.

    "You know," Qu Yi stated in a loud voice, just as the Captain was crossing the threshold to exit the tent. "I never get used to it."

    Hu stopped, the turned his head back to face Qu. "Used to what?"

    "This," Qu retorted as he knelt down, then grabbed the rag he had previously used on himself to begin wiping down his armor. "The death. The suffering. Better men that me falling to another's blade. The blood. The odor of death that you can't get out fo your clothes. All of this."

    Shifting his gaze to the ground in front of him, Hu again nodded his head. Looking back up and meeting the gaze of Qu, he replied "And hopefully you never will... I'll report back when we're ready to move."

    Bowing his head once more, Hu left the tent to go fulfill his duties, leaving Qu Yi alone to deal with his own devices. The old man smirked, just briefly, ever impressed with Captain Hu. Wiping of some blood and dirt from his chestplate, he shook his head slowly. "And I miss that damn horse."

    --------------------------------------------------------

    Sunset, Three Days Later...

    "Send second division to the woods to the northwest, in case we have any unexpected visitors," Qu Yi shouted to a mounted officer several meters away, who then sped off through the chaos of hustling men, moving in all directions, carrying weapons and equipment. The army was setting up a siege of the walled city of Fanyang and the well-disciplined soldiers of Qu Yi were beginning their preparations in the twilight.

    His arms crossed about his chest, Captain Hu stepped up next to the right side of General and surveyed the shadowy figures scurrying about atop the ramparts of the city in the distance. "You were right," he spoke easily. "We caught them with their pants down."

    Turning his head to the right, he pointed to a large stack of heavy grain sacks, well over fifty of them, piled next to a run-down wooden shack. "They were even kind enough to leave us a gift for coming to liberate their city," he smiled before turning his attention back to the city before him. "So thoughtful."

    "Ha!" Qu Yi exclaimed, cracking a smile of his own. "I'll make sure to send Bogui a 'thank you' note after this is done. Make sure to remind me."



    Last edited by Seether; June 25, 2018 at 09:40 PM.
    Member of the Imperial House of Hader - Under the Benevolent Patronage of y2day
    A Wolf Among Sheep: A Rise of Three Kingdoms AAR

  18. #18

    Default Re: A Wolf Among Sheep [Rise of Three Kingdoms AAR]

    Very nice update! The character development is good, and the attention to what comes after a battle is a good reminder to put in for all those who think war glorious or noble. I also very much liked the final exchange between Qu Yi and Hu:
    "I never get used to this."
    "Hopefully you never will."
    Those two lines show much about the two more focal characters you're developing, and bode well for the future of the armies.

    One little suggestion that came to mind (but that you can very freely ignore; the quality is already quite high): At the beginning when you say that the battle's aftermath is a literal hell, I was wondering if you had considered adding in a little Chinese mythology or spirituality to that? I don't know how much knowledge you have about Chinese religion, or whether you're at all interested in doing the research on it, but personally, I as a reader love to get that last little bit of connection with the characters that can be had by some familiarity with their own cultural/linguistic/spiritual background. I was thinking that if instead of just saying "hell" you used the Chinese term and idea for hell (or the closest functional equivalent of hell), then we could get that last spot of immersion. Just a thought though. At any rate, good job, and I'll be looking out for the next update!
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  19. #19
    Turkafinwë's Avatar The Soulforged
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    Default Re: A Wolf Among Sheep [Rise of Three Kingdoms AAR]

    Read the four chapters in one go and I must say I'm impressed. Qu Yi and Captain Hu seem like good people trying their best in horrible times. Your descriptions are well detailed but don't drone on as to make them tiresome. I really look forward to see more of this tale.

    Great job! + rep

  20. #20
    Alwyn's Avatar Frothy Goodness
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    Default Re: A Wolf Among Sheep [Rise of Three Kingdoms AAR]

    Like Kilo11 and Turkafinwë, I'm enjoying the dialogue between Qu Yi and Captain Han, and what it tells us about these characters. The lines about Qu Yi's warhorse are nicely done. It looks like Qu Yi's strategy in relation to Fanyang will pay off (this made me think of examples of military history in which commanders might have won more decisively if they had continued to attack, rather than halted their advance.)

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