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A Sleeping Giant Awakens

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Stories & Tales' started by constantinople, Jun 18, 2016.

  1. constantinople

    constantinople not Istanbul

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    A Sleeping Giant Awakens

    "Let her sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world." ~Napoleon Bonaparte
    ----

    Prologue


    Aeons ago, the universe was but a cold, indifferent void. A shapeless chaos - the absence of harmony or matter - was all that could have been said to exist. Gradually, for the sole purpose of moving the plot, this chaos amalgamated into a single egg. Sort of like this:


    Spoiler :


    Yet gradually, in spite of all impossibility or improbability, the egg, the organic vessel, the aggregate of all that we can conceive up, would prove to be crucial to the development of mankind. And like any other egg, this bastion housed life, both in an actual and metaphorical sense. A giant swam in its yolk, unconscious and in a deep, deep, sleep. This infant - the protagonist of all of mankind - rested surrounded by chaos. But the system gradually reached an equilibrium: a balance between harmony and chaos. Yin and yang. The moment of this incredible occurrence - after a 17,889 year, 9 month, 22 day, 18 hour, 3 minute, 47 second sleep - the giant opened his eyes. The giant tried to stretch his arms, but found the egg was too small and humble to allow for the full expansion of his body. His hands and feet scraped against the interior walls of the eggs, desperately clawing to escape. But the egg's structure was unavailing to contain this mighty giant and with a single flex of his tendons, he smashed his way free from the egg. The sleeping giant had awoken.

    His name was Pennington Gareth Cecil Achebe Xerxes Maimonides Hieronymus Xiaoping Schneider-Sabbagh III. But you may call him Pennington Gareth Cecil Gideon Xerxes Maimonides Hieronymus Xiaoping Schneider-Sabbagh or just "Pan Gu" or "Pangu"; whatever's easiest for you.

    The consequences of Pangu's actions were immediately lucid. The material once restrained by the egg was now spewed forth, the lighter, more glorious elements ascending to create the heavens above us, the heavier, more sordid elements remaining to create the earth below us. Pangu was apprehensive, though. What if the earth and heavens would once again mix? So he occupied the tremendous space between them. His feet pressed against the rock and soil of the earth beneath, his hands clutching the splendor and opulence of the heavens above. For another 18000 years, he ensured their continual segregation. Mind you, there was no Netflix at the time, so he really had nothing better to do.

    Worn out from the demands of his existence, Pangu died one day. But the giant proved to live on. His last breaths became the winds and clouds. One eye was transformed into the sun; the other, the moon. His veins became the mighty oceans and rivers which dot the earth. His teeth and bones became the minerals which encompass the rocks of the planet. And the grubby parasites which roamed his body became the predecessors of mankind.



    Many centuries later (time was yet to be invented, so really however long you want it to be.), a goddess slogged the earth alone. Her name was Nü Wa or Nuwa, and she naturally felt lonely as the only anthropomorphic being on the planet. One day, she gazed upon her reflection in a puddle for a prolonged period of time, and realized she needed to create her own companionship. She grabbed a clump of mud, shaped it into the anatomy of a human. When the sculpture was set upon the soil, it became invigorated with life; with the happiness and joy of humanity. The creature danced and frolicked, ever grateful for its opportunity to experience cognition and consciousness. Then, she abruptly stomped on the creation, returning it to the soil from once it came. Yeah, she really was kind of a callous, blithe monster. After a dozen more spontaneous creations of human life followed by heinous acts of violence, Nuwa finally allowed her organic mannequins to live for over five minutes and humanity at last sprung forth. She established genders and sexes and allowed for them to multiply. They did what humans did: fighting, loving, rationalizing, sensationalizing, and Nuwa finally felt a sadistic sense of togetherness and camaraderie. Deriving a little too much pleasure than what is healthy, she threw humans across the world so they populate all of the corners of the earth.

    One day, though, the heavens came to earth, and not in a romantic way. As Pangu feared, the purity of the heavens gradually seeped into the cess of the earth. Floods and fires broke loose; beasts emerged from once civilized woodlands; blight struck the crops of the planet. Nuwa fought back in defense of mankind, not out of passion or morality, but rather a "only-I-can-do-that" mentality. She put out fires, drained floods, roasted the fierce beasts, and introduced DDT to the lands. She fixed the heavens, proclaiming nothing can't be solved with duct tape and plywood. In a cruel twist of fate, she became over-exhausted saving the creatures she was so bittersweet too and died. She ascended into the heavens, now with beings of equal status to her: the gods.

    The humans were now alone, with no termagant to guide or confuse them. In this sense, they were free to follow their own whims. Not to say, however, that the gods would never interfere with humanity again, for better or for worse. Indeed, the first modern kings and chieftans were of divine descent - demigods. But gradually, the degenerate yet potent genes of humanity watered down the god genes. The first rulers of the most noble land, China, were of divine stock. The Three Sovereigns, Five Emperors, and One Poobah. Arguably the single most influential and significant figure of this agnatic line was the Yellow Emperor*, who taught the Chinese how to hunt, kindle fire, and most importantly, wipe properly. He is said to have died in the most epic way possible: wrestling twelve hybrid tiger-octopi mounted with laser cannons while atop a 10 kilometer great white shark suited with TNT. Before he discharged his last waking breath, he transformed into a phoenix and exploded for no good reason. His successors were naturally substantially less awesome and ceded their power to the nascent, purebred humans. Power was transferred hereditarily in the form of a dynastic monarchy. Twas a vicious cycle, the rule of incompetent leaders being perpetuated.

    On a humid day, a Thursday to be precise, Wu of the Shang Dynasty received a vision from the Yellow Emperor. The corrupt Shang were to be overthrown in accordance with the Mandate of Heaven. This concept preached that rulers should be appointed based on merit and intelligence, not genetic connection to the contemporary king, which is inherently nepotistic and unfair. Wu pondered for a moment. "Who is the smartest and most ept person I know? Wait - I am!" Following this epiphany, Wu knew what he had to do.


    Spoiler :


    Wu was noted for being chronically camera shy.


    Wu gathered an army of followers and crossed the Yellow River, famous stating "alea iacta est."** The old elite was overthrown and a new one was established. The treacherous Shang Dynasty was vanquished. This historical turning point is truly catalyzed the growth of China, governed by the dual human and divine law of the Mandate of Heaven. Truly as significant as the emergence of Pangu, this development represented the awaking of a sleeping giant.



    *Although, recent studies reveal he most likely apricot.
    **Commonly misattributed to Caesar. Anyone with a rudimentary grasp of Chinese or Asiatic languages should realize this when they see the dictum in its native Mandarin tongue.
     
  2. Niccolo Edwards

    Niccolo Edwards Looking busy

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    So, you pretty much had me, then these lines came along;
    And then you got me for sure. Keep it up because...
    I will be subbing... right now.
     
  3. CaterpillarKing

    CaterpillarKing Conqueror of Cacoons

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    What the actual living heck are you doing here!? Great to see you consty! Subbed!
     
  4. Noyyau

    Noyyau Privateer Captain

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    Subterfuge shall be employed to follow this story.
     
  5. GreekAnalyzer

    GreekAnalyzer Back from the Dead

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    Holy crap. Constantinople is back.


    I've missed you man! Great to see another story from you!
     
  6. constantinople

    constantinople not Istanbul

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    I just won't stay dead.
     
  7. Kaiser Camel II

    Kaiser Camel II Chieftain

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  8. TheNoob

    TheNoob Dank Memes

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    Oh how did I missed this? Subbed
     
  9. constantinople

    constantinople not Istanbul

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    Chapter I: Zhou

    Part I: Here's Zhou It All Began

    Around the year commonly referred to as "3000 BC" or as "a really freaking long time ago," China underwent a massive change in power. Inspired by the long deceased Yellow Emperor, a man history refers to as Wu raised an army to overthrow the Shang Dynasty, ruled by King Zhou.

    Wu looked around his ranks. Some men were clothed in the disheveled garbs of peasants, others, in the pompous robes of noblemen. Some carried primitive obsidian spears, others wielded an experimental weapon - the bow and arrow - which held great promise but required many more breakthroughs before the full potential could possibly be unlocked. The rag-tag force was composed of men and women of all ages. Some veterans with combat experience whether hunting for small game or defending off hordes of barbarians, until now loyal only to the ruler of Shang. Some were young fortune seekers eager to bring honor to their family's name.
    Wu, enamored by the aggregate of his fighting men and their collective loyalty to him, stepped onto a sizable rock to deliver the now banal pep talk. But back then, the motivation-speech-right-before-a-ferocious-battle was a new concept and not at all a cliche.
    "Friends... Zhou... Countrymen...," Wu began. "Lend me your ears. For too long, our wondrous lands have been squandered by the despotic King Zhou. Through nepotism and scoundrelry, he has ensured power and wealth remains clenched in his hands. Although we have lived in relative peace, this accord with the barbarians of the forests has been founded upon corruption and coercion against the commoners."
    By this point, all chatter among the crowd had ceased. The 45,000 men and women remained taciturn in a state of awe and harmonious brotherhood, affixed to this seasoned rhetorician.
    "Through blood and blessing only can the noble Zhou progress through the annals of history. Our esteemed ancestor, the Yellow Emperor, has endowed us with his blessing. The gods are dissatisfied of the royal Shang and have ensured victory will belong to the righteous and pure. Indeed, does further proof of the nobility and honor of our goal even exist? What other higher force is there than the gods and our deceased yet omnipresent Yellow Emperor? We are not here to battle - we are here to reclaim what is rightfully the land of the Zhou. We are here to bestow upon our gods and family honor and glory. The history of this noble inert and stagnant land should not be an idle, stoic force. History is to be written, and you, my friends, are its authors. Brothers, don't you see? Your weaponry is not only to kill and maim, but serves as a writing utensil as well! Join me, my comrades, in empowering and awakening this sleeping land!"
    The soldiers stomped their feet, creating a torrent of noise and excitement. Startled flocks of birds evacuated from homely tree-branches to distant, quieter skies. Raising his arm, Wu ordered his armies to march forth to conquer unconquered lands.

    Dust stirred from the horrific bloodshed gradually resettled unto the ground. Although the dust was evicted initially under the banner of King Zhou, the dust now fixed itself to the territory of King Wu.
    Both sides fought with valor and honor, only Wu's fought valorer and honorer. Victorious Zhou warriors marched upon what was once the capital of the Shang realm. Indeed, the Shang ruled over a relatively nomadic and small society. The capital itself was largely destroyed in the violence which ensued. The Zhou had yet to acquire the proper title of a state. What became of the formerly Shang? Essentially, they were nothing. There was no proper governmental order, although hierarchy remained. What was seen was a shift of power from a king to a victor. Shift from absolute monarchy to a new system was obligatory, declared Wu.
    "No longer shall dynasties be determined by wealth or lineage," Wu proclaimed to the Zhou and Shang alike. "Rulers shall be instilled based upon their merit as determined by the heavens. This is the Mandate of Heaven."
    With the Shang Dynasty obliterated and a new theory regarding the legitimacy of rule compounded, the Zhou Dynasty was formed. Never mind the confusion among the names. The Shang Dynasty of King Zhou became the Zhou Dynasty of King Wu. Wu's army was demobilized and its members generally returned to their domestic duties. Along with the remaining population of the old Shang Dynasty's capital, Zhou migrants arrived at the south banks of the Yellow River to construct a capital.




    The city was named Chengzhou. Zhou standing for the Zhou Dynasty, Cheng standing for... uh, um-, th... I'll get back to you on that. Anyway, a residential palace was constructed where Wu would rule as King of the Zhou, as chosen by heaven. As far as Wu was concerned, he was the most appropriate man to be king, leading one already to the question the legitimacy and merit to the Mandate of Heaven.
    A standing army was maintained to defend Chengzhou, and more importantly, Wu, who feared assassination and resistance to his rule, a phobia which was indeed not unwarranted.
    The influence of the inchoate Zhou Dynasty surpassed that of the Shang Dynasty's at its apex, according to certainly unbiased and fair official publications of Zhou government, which received Wu's stamp of approval.


    Spoiler :

    Artist's rendition of Chengzhou in its early days. Notice the trio of goliath-sized club warriors.


    This was a pivotal moment in the transition of China from nomadic to sedentary lifestyle. A centralized government was formed, ruled by a single man with a full monopoly on violence and cheese puffs. Meeting these two prerequisites, the Zhou Dynasty can properly be referred to as the first Chinese state.
    Under Wu, the Zhou Dynasty entered a golden age of prosperity and wealth. Of course, this isn't saying much. The kingdom was newborn and had relatively slow production and research and wealth. But Wu would be turning in his grave if we did not mention the Golden Age, which he declared to be a symbol of the pantheon of gods' favor towards his regency.




    Near the close of Wu's reign, the aging monarch at last began to realize the size and mystery of the world on which he ruled. Indeed, whispers of a new kingdom, located to the west of the Zhou, slipped through the palace doors and into the upstart king's ears. Under duress and regret, Wu added this "renegade" kingdom to the map. It's not clear who initiated the conflict, but peasants and warriors alike of these two rival kingdoms clashed and battled. There were no major causalities. Actually, over 500 people died in total due to this quasi-war, but since no one dear to Wu perished, this number can be rounded down to zero. Most disturbing to Wu was the fact that this schismatic kingdom claimed a population of cows. With no access to lactose, how could Wu possibly produce enough cheese puffs to declare himself monarch? Indeed, already, the legitimacy and statehood of China was called into question. Although only a portion of the kingdom's territory was revealed, the Zhou could only speculate as to the expanse of its wealth and military muscle.

    Spoiler :


    Time would tell which kingdom would eclipse the other. From the beginning, it was clear to Wu that only his kingdom and his successors were fit to rule the known world. Elucidated by the foundation of this splinter kingdom, the Zhou, and as we will soon see, the Zhou Dynasty's successors, would face many obstacles in the way inhibiting the grasp of one sole government, one sole bureaucracy, one sole head-of-state, over all of China. All vying for unification and the inauguration of order. Surely only the strongest and the worthiest would prevail, as proclaimed by the Mandate of Heaven.

    A Sleeping Giant, under King Wu, was conceived.
     
  10. GreekAnalyzer

    GreekAnalyzer Back from the Dead

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    I wonder how long the western kingdom will last?

    My bet's on the next update.
     
  11. constantinople

    constantinople not Istanbul

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    Part II: The Lao Rider

    So, the Zhou Dynasty slowly progressed. The culture of Chengzhou expanded and, the surrounding peoples were annexed incredibly eager to join the burgeoning Chinese Kingdom.

    Spoiler :


    The first major technological advancement of the Zhou was an efficient and lethal bow and arrow. Users of this weaponry were referred to as "archers," and they proudly defended the capital. Indeed, archery would prove to be a pivotal force in securing settlements from invading threats.
    The Dynasty employed the first national workers and sponsored their expedition outside the capital to secure resources such as rice. Chinese workers would be forever known for their marvelous craftsmanship and humble refusal to accept any form of a livable wage out of their own volition. Yes, that's the reason.


    Spoiler :


    Various technological breakthroughs were made independently by the Zhou. Animal husbandry allowed for selective breeding of livestock and the accentuating of traits beneficial to the country. The wheel, naturally, allowed for efficient transportation. Pottery? ...Well, most of the breakthroughs were useful.

    Spoiler :




    Shortly thereafter these breakthroughs, give or take 200 years, a major national expedition of scouts was funded to boldly go where no one significant had gone before.

    Spoiler :


    Another year, a forest grew on the borderlands of the Zhou nation. In an antediluvian world, this understandably made national headlines for generations.

    Spoiler :


    The discovery of the Yellow Sea by the first Zhou would be forever remembered by the journals of the brave scouts who set foot on its shores. The Zhou would become incredibly humbled by this majestic expanse of seemingly endless ocean. The men who laid eyes on the beautiful cerulean plains from the far off hills reported being struck by a sense of awe and bewilderment they had never hitherto encountered. The Emperor, upon receiving this news, dismissed their allurement as naive. What was the sea besides another expanse of Earth - another mark on the landscape - to be added to the Zhou Dynasty?

    Spoiler :


    Chinese laborers discovered, near the border with the independent state of Fenghao on the rightful Zhou border, truffles. Indeed, the quantity discovered was large enough, the supply was enough to feed the Emperor, the government, and even the Zhou commoners. The consumption of these truffles was a pleasure to be enjoyed for generations.

    Spoiler :


    The scouts continued their ventures across the barbarian infested forests of the north and encountered numerous tribal villages. All of them were forced to relinquish some form of tribute, whether this tribute be donated in the form of wisdom, gold, or manpower. One such village provided a map of the northern woodlands.

    Spoiler :


    The Emperor sighed upon receiving this information. "Is that IT? That's what they give me? I mean, why not any gold?! We already know what's up there - TREES!"
    Another village seemed to be similarly cheap, providing a settler.


    Spoiler :


    "We would be honored to venture to the humble lands of the Zhou," the settlers remarked. "Yeah," the scout mentioned. "I hope your up for a long and unprotected hike through barbarian laced, essentially unmarked territory."

    Spoiler :


    Finally, the Zhou encountered a village that surrenders presents a good tribute.

    Spoiler :


    In the capital, an organized religion was gradually being developed.
    Lao Tzu (also known as Lao Tze, Laozi, or the Lao rider) was a prominent archivist in the court of the Emperor, granting him access to finest works of Zhou literature. Nonetheless, he grew increasingly disturbed at the moral decay of Chengzhou, as many officials put integrity and honor behind their own personal desires and pleasure. According to legend, he road a water buffalo to the borders of the Zhou Empire, as his car was in the shop. He was recognized by a sentry, who demanded Lao Tzu to present his wisdom before he could pass. So Lao Tzu ad hoc wrote a tremendous manuscript of his knowledge called the Tao Te Ching in five minutes on the spot. Either Lao Tzu was an incredible writer, or the work was compiled by dozens of philosophers over a span of centuries. We'll never know. Either way, Lao Tzu disappeared shortly after his traveling out of the kingdom, never to be seen or heard from again. The last man to have seen him was said to have introduced him to Minecraft.
    Lao Tzu's book took the Zhou by storm and became the first major organized religion to hit the empire.


    Spoiler :


    Most people know the creed for its badass symbol.

    Spoiler :

    Badass


    Indeed, the symbol was so incredible, upon seeing it, Zhou author Sima Quin immediately declared the Zhou to be the most cultured civilization on the planet. The another civilization was so comparatively lame, its name was not even mentioned on his manuscript.

    Spoiler :


    The friendly neighbors of Fenghao adopted this faith, wishing to appear more like their urbane neighbor, but their failure at imitation only made the minor civilization of Fenghao more abhorrent and scummy.

    Spoiler :


    ~~~~

    Part three, the final part of this chapter, coming whenever. Probably the next few days.
     
  12. GreekAnalyzer

    GreekAnalyzer Back from the Dead

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    Damn, guess I lose my bet.
     
  13. trexeric

    trexeric (or backwards 'cirexert')

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    Do my eyes deceive me? Has possibly the greatest comedy writer of our age really returned? Needless to say, subbed.
     
  14. constantinople

    constantinople not Istanbul

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    And I'm reviving another story too.
     
  15. trexeric

    trexeric (or backwards 'cirexert')

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    It looks like I need to break out my old constantinople shrine.
     
  16. GreekAnalyzer

    GreekAnalyzer Back from the Dead

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    I shall sacrifice a child of hearty disposition in the shrine post-haste.
     
  17. constantinople

    constantinople not Istanbul

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    Part III: Qi's company

    After a long and perilous trip, the settlers at last completed their journey to land closer to the capital. Atop a hill next to the sea, the city of "Qi" was founded.
    Almost immediately, peasant workers approached the settlement to improve the surrounding areas. But mainly to avoid the wrath of the emperor.
    A sizable Taoist community developed in the city as well.


    Spoiler :


    In the capital, 100 years and 1,000 bodies later, the dynasty at last discovered a technique for creating bronze. It turns out the gods do not a human sacrifice to yield a durable amount. But that didn't stop the king for suggesting a human sacrifice every once in a while for kick's sake.

    Spoiler :


    Copper was discovered in some of the hills neighboring the city of Qi. The dynasty found itself with a substantial supply of this vital resource which would help the state flourish.

    Spoiler :



    The Zhou Dynasty, uhh... let's say 1000 BC

    Spoiler :


    The influence of the Zhou became so profound, the revolting city of Fengshao began to revolt and demand annexation. The Zhou Emperor's response was, "who am I to stop them?"

    Spoiler :


    Meanwhile, the Zhou at last learned to trade. Because, apparently, they did not know how to trade before.

    Spoiler :


    Near the capital, bandits began raiding farms in the rice fields. No doubt attention-seekers wishing for the magnificent emperor's attention. Well, they succeeded, and the king did everything in his power to ensure the thieves were caught. In spite of creating a large hole in the king's pocket, the whole ordeal was not a complete waste. The bronze working industry had a few more humans to sacrifice.

    Spoiler :


    Suddenly, on the horizon, the Zhou spotted diseased, malnourished peasants. No, these weren't Zhou peasants, though the description works for them too. These peasants claimed to be part of the "Western Ying clan." Not only is that name incredibly ridiculous, it's the name of a dynasty threatening the Zhou's hegemony! The emperor pounded his hand on his bronze table and demanded these rebels be annihilated. War could only solve the question of who rules China.

    Spoiler :


    The history of China reached a critical juncture. The rule of the monopolizing Zhou dynasty was now called into question. Would this newcomer dynasty cement its rule over China, defeating the Zhou and Fengshao? Only time will tell. Either way, a sleeping giant was stretching its arms and preparing to arise.

    Spoiler :
     
  18. GreekAnalyzer

    GreekAnalyzer Back from the Dead

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    Dun dun DUNNNNNN!
     
  19. trexeric

    trexeric (or backwards 'cirexert')

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    Ooh, intense
     

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