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The 12 Dynasties of Xidon, chapter 1

by Ninlil


Sulyong, 4th moon, year 688

Chapter 1

Sulyong and its government

"Name?", the silver guard in charge asked.

"Kun Xui", Cao answered calmly, although the mare he was holding kept pulling at her rope aggressively.

"State your business."

"I am a scholar from Kungteh. I passed the state examination, so I am here for a position as junior Official"

The guard eyed his simple bronze Paofu and the carefully packed scrolls on the horses back. He turned towards a guard behind him, "Accompany this scholar to the Chancellor. We will take care of the horse"

The young man nodded and positioned himself formally next to Cao, his chest stretched forwards. The studded iron gates between the two imposing towers were opened for them. They marched through the tunnel like gateway. As they emerged on the other side Cao had to restrain himself from whistling in impressment. The sight was overwhelming. Along the palace walls stood rows of housing halls, tiny in comparison to the vast courtyard. Across it stood the towering main hall, several stories high, painted white and scarlet with a tiled roof of inky black. They crossed it and walked up the broad stone steppes. Out of the double winged doors emerged a group of colourfully clad Lordlings. They let them pass before entering themselves. Cao had never seen anything that emanated such level of riches. Every brick, every brush stroke of paint was surely worth more than a peasant’s home. No wall was left blank, no beam colourless. Everything was decorated with colours and valuable stones. In the corners stood statues of golden monkeys with jade eyes. The ceiling was green and blue, depicting great birds and the floor was white with patterns filled out with red lacquer. Only then did Cao realise that this was only the entrance. The passed between silk curtains and found themselves in a bright room, lit by sunlight that flooded through the large windows. On a raised platform sat an old man in deep purple robes, his face etched in 40 years of worry. Below him sat a row of officials on cushions, in front of small desks in identical lavender robes. They bowed, the guard spoke first, "Chancellor Fen, this scholar, by the name of Kun Xiu claims he is here for a position as a Junior official." The Chancellor nodded warily, "Yes, I am expecting him. Thankyou, return to your post" The guard bowed hastily before leaving.

"Come closer", Fen ordered. Although his voice was aged and slow, it still held the tone of power that expected obedience. Cao stepped forward, careful to keep his face still, yet friendly and open. The Chancellor snapped his fingers and an official handed him a Bamboo roll. Fen unravelled it slowly, his eyes darting up and down as he read, then he looked up again. "Can you confirm that you are Kun Xiu?"

"Yes."

"Born in Kungthe the 11th lunar moon in the 4th year of Queen Mi-Su-Lengs reigning period?"

"That is correct."

"So you'll turn 20 this year?"

"Yes."

Fens eyes wondered back to the writing, "You have scored very highly in the exam I see your teacher wrote a personal note and Lord Dông added his own recommendation", He sounded slightly impressed, "we haven't taken anyone from Kungteh for a while now, but I'm sure you will be able to raise the image of your hometown concerning their intellect."

"I hope so. I will do my best."

Fen rolled up the scroll again. "No less will be expected"

Cao nodded

"You're hired then. Xue here will lead you to the hall of office, where you will work under minister Ho in the military department."

"Thank you truly, my Lord, a dream has come true for me."

The Chancellor made a noise that might have been a doubtful snort.

The hall of office was busier than any other part of the Palace. The officials, easily recognisable through their lavender Paofus, rushed back and force carrying scrolls, letters, coins, and writing supplies. There were also servants in grey-blue Paos, carrying trays, laden with Tea and pastries. Minister Ho stood in the middle of her room, flanked by an official and a Man that seemed to be a General, barking at two soldiers in matching black armour. When she saw Cao and Xue she put her hand up, to make them wait.

"I hope I made myself absolutely clear", she said to the soldiers. They nodded bashfully.

"Get out then." they turned around and as they passed him Cao answered the lingering look of the female one with a smile.

"Ah," Ho said, "You are the new junior official."

Coa bowed "Yes Minister. My name is Kun Xiu"

Her sharp, small eyes glanced him up and down.

"Good. Let me present to you Fa Guang, a senior official," Guang, who grew a proud, fluffy moustache, gave a polite nod. "And this is Yin QiLun, General official." The muscular man gave a slight smile, his droopy eyes blinking.

At that moment a squeaky servant came rushing inside, "Begging you pardon", she panted, bowing randomly at people, "The King has called for the small council. All Ministers are expected immediately in the jade hall."

Ho raised a thin eyebrow, "I see he has finally come to that notion", she looked as if she were holding back more bitter words. Interesting, Cao thought, her dislike for the new King is obvious. He glanced towards the others, they probably felt the same. Cao was eager in meeting the other Ministers, to get clues about their opinions.

"Very well. I will not have any need of you today. So if-", She starred at Xue, apparently trying to remember her name.

"My name is Xue”, the young woman said, going slightly red.

"Yes, Xue to show you around."

"Of course, Minister."

"And I expect that report finished wen I'm back, Guang." Then she hurried of towards the jade hall, without another word. 


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65 Reviews


Points: 11426
Reviews: 65

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Sun Jan 29, 2017 6:27 pm
occymay wrote a review...



Hi Ninlil!

I know this is quite old but I wanted to thank you for reviewing Journey of Acceptance (I know that was a while a go but I haven't been reviewing much lately). I really liked this piece, I really love ancient Chinese fiction ^_^

Positives-
You have clearly done a lot of research which really shows a lot of time and effort went into this. I really loved the description you used, it really created an image in my head and it sounded very realistic. It made me feel as if I was really there, it makes it very captivating. The characters were good too, though I did feel that Cao's character was lacking slightly but this is only the first chapter so it is understandable. However, the characters of Minister Ho and Fen were very strong.

Improvements-
I noticed the word "impressment" in the really big paragraph. Although this is a word it has a very different meaning than what you think it does. I would replace it with something like astonishment, bewilderment, amazement, something like that. Also got a little confused at Cao's other name. It was just difficult to remember his actual name, so maybe use it slightly more in the writing, especially towards the end. Another little nitpick, when Minister Ho can't remember the servant's name, you say Xue before she has introduced herself. Instead maybe just say the servant.

Overall, really great piece, and I would really like to see more of this. Keep writing :)




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Sun Nov 27, 2016 11:56 am
Casanova wrote a review...



Heya, Ninlin! Casanova here to do a review for you!

Anyway, the first thing I noticed was your big block of text. That's a gigantic paragraph, and I think you could break it down. Here's the one I'm talking about-

The young man nodded and positioned himself formally next to Cao, his chest stretched forwards. The studded iron gates between the two imposing towers were opened for them. They marched through the tunnel like gateway. As they emerged on the other side Cao had to restrain himself from whistling in impressment. The sight was overwhelming. Along the palace walls stood rows of housing halls, tiny in comparison to the vast courtyard. Across it stood the towering main hall, several stories high, painted white and scarlet with a tiled roof of inky black. They crossed it and walked up the broad stone steppes. Out of the double winged doors emerged a group of colourfully clad Lordlings. They let them pass before entering themselves. Cao had never seen anything that emanated such level of riches. Every brick, every brush stroke of paint was surely worth more than a peasant’s home. No wall was left blank, no beam colourless. Everything was decorated with colours and valuable stones. In the corners stood statues of golden monkeys with jade eyes. The ceiling was green and blue, depicting great birds and the floor was white with patterns filled out with red lacquer. Only then did Cao realise that this was only the entrance. The passed between silk curtains and found themselves in a bright room, lit by sunlight that flooded through the large windows. On a raised platform sat an old man in deep purple robes, his face etched in 40 years of worry. Below him sat a row of officials on cushions, in front of small desks in identical lavender robes. They bowed, the guard spoke first, "Chancellor Fen, this scholar, by the name of Kun Xiu claims he is here for a position as a Junior official." The Chancellor nodded warily, "Yes, I am expecting him. Thankyou, return to your post" The guard bowed hastily before leaving.


See, that's a HUGE block of text, and it's sore on the eyes. I would suggest a couple of breaks in it. And here's what I mean, by example-


"The young man nodded and positioned himself formally next to Cao, his chest stretched forwards. The studded iron gates between the two imposing towers were opened for them. They marched through the tunnel like gateway. As they emerged on the other side Cao had to restrain himself from whistling in impressment.

The sight was overwhelming. Along the palace walls stood rows of housing halls, tiny in comparison to the vast courtyard. Across it stood the towering main hall, several stories high, painted white and scarlet with a tiled roof of inky black. They crossed it and walked up the broad stone steppes. Out of the double winged doors emerged a group of colourfully clad Lordlings. They let them pass before entering themselves. Cao had never seen anything that emanated such level of riches. Every brick, every brush stroke of paint was surely worth more than a peasant’s home. No wall was left blank, no beam colourless.

Everything was decorated with colours and valuable stones. In the corners stood statues of golden monkeys with jade eyes. The ceiling was green and blue, depicting great birds and the floor was white with patterns filled out with red lacquer. Only then did Cao realise that this was only the entrance. The passed between silk curtains and found themselves in a bright room, lit by sunlight that flooded through the large windows. On a raised platform sat an old man in deep purple robes, his face etched in 40 years of worry.

Below him sat a row of officials on cushions, in front of small desks in identical lavender robes. They bowed, the guard spoke first, "Chancellor Fen, this scholar, by the name of Kun Xiu claims he is here for a position as a Junior official." The Chancellor nodded warily, "Yes, I am expecting him. Thankyou, return to your post" The guard bowed hastily before leaving."

I think that right there really helps it. It's breaking it off for dialogue, and where the idea/thoughts could be broken as well.
I think your plot is really catchy, and that it flows nicely.
Your characters, however, seem a bit dull. Like, not realistic. I think you could change this with the way you word things, how they react, and things like that. If you know what I mean.
Anyway, that's all I have to say on this one. I hope it helped!

Keep on doing what you're doing, and keep on keeping on.

Sincerely, Matthew Casanpva Aaron.




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Sat Nov 26, 2016 4:55 pm
gingerbeardsan wrote a review...



Stupendous and immaculate.

The entire time I was reading I was on track and was easy to follow along. Clean punctuation and great use of imagery, there is very little that I could not portray in my mind. You're writing style is very similar to what I would read in a published book and it's clear you have practiced your style over and over again. Good Job.

There are few things that I'd like to point out that caught my special interest.

The main character name, Cao, is Chinese for 'dog'. Interesting that you would chose such a degrading and derogatory name for your main character and no wonder he (I'm assuming because Cao is a male orientation) goes by a different name. I wonder if this has anything to do with the main plot, maybe posing as a spy or is possibly trying to move away from an old way of life. I suppose I'll have to continue reading to find out.

The use of plot set in China makes me curious. Some readers don't like being taken to a world they think they already know everything about and may not continue to read. That tends to be the readers fault and not the author. I'd keep it in mind but honestly I would pick this book up and read a couple chapters with this first one alone.

There was one paragraph in the middle that made me a little bored. The one where you are describing the hall that he enters. You do an okay job with descriptors but the girth of this except had something about it that made me want to skip it. Writing this part of the review I had to go back to see what I was writing about exactly and I felt it drag. This is not to say that the paragraph is bad by any means, only that it seems to run on even with the imagery you have. Maybe try fiddling or condensing with it but that is all I have as far as constructive critique goes.

Over all,

Stellar. You have my follow.




Ninlil says...


Thank you for your feedback. There is indeed a degrading purpose for Cao's name and for him going by a different one, the reason is revealed later on.
And I will certainly try to edit the paragraph you described.




I *do* like flipping tables.
— Faye Whitaker, Questionable Content