Author Topic: Bagpipes and Dragons  (Read 189 times)

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Offline Lijiang

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Bagpipes and Dragons
« on: March 18, 2021, 10:58:46 PM »

To:- His Majesty King Finley of Ui Cenneslaig

Our nations share a lengthy border but vast differences of culture, history and traditions. It though is perhaps now time that we seek to become friends rather than just neighbours. I would therefore be deeply honoured if my first overseas visit as Dragon-Emperor could be to your nation. Perhaps you could meet with me in a town or city close to our respective borders where we can discuss matters relating to shared interests and opportunities for mutual co-operation.

Also allow me on this date to extend to your Celtic Christian subjects a joyous St.Patrick's Day and wish them well in their celebration. We hope to hear of their celebration in person when we meet.

Best Regards

Dragon-Emperor Tielin II


Offline KrisNord

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Re: Bagpipes and Dragons
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2021, 08:18:01 PM »
Alloway was the nearest town to the border with Lijiang and it was a town that hadn't seen much in the way of royal visits or pomp and ceremony in forever. Its border security point was seldom used in either directions and young Keavy hadn't ever recalled seeing anyone come down that road for the whole ten years of her life. The town had a population of no more than 10,000 people, the majority of which made their living from forestry and the relating lumber yards. Today knowing that King Finley was going to meet the Dragon-Emperor here it was as though each and everyone of the townfolk had turned up.

Finley had arrived at around 8am for a 10am meeting. His staff rushed around outside on the road to the border to ensure everything was settled for the Dragon-Emperor's arrival. Finley meanwhile had gone with his wife Queen Riona to the local infants school where he had sat and had breakfast with the students some of whom like Keavy would be part of the days ceremonies. Like most Cenneg schools the Breakfast Club was serving thick porridge with honey and jam, toast and various spreads and "Tattie Scones". Finley had enjoyed speaking with the students and many of them had questions about the people they'd be meeting. Finley knew very little of the Lijiang culture or nation and was feeling a spot nervous as he had heard they were a nation full of history and rituals. "Don't worry" Riona reassured him, "If you can survive meeting the Maori you can handle this" She said knowing his feelings about the ritualistic nature of the guests.

"Fingers crossed" Finley said as they headed out from the school onto the road. Young Keavy was with them a set of bagpipes tucked under her arm ready for the procession. Down the road just 2km away was the border post and the group waited for the word that the Lijiang delegation had arrived. Having got that confirmation the King and his honour guard made their way to the border. A few precautionary tests on the bagpipes and the schoolgirl began and took a lead about ten steps ahead of the King and Queen who themselves were ten steps in front of a group of about thirty ceremonially attired Highlanders carrying polished wooden stocked rifles and great black bear skins on their head. The Regimental band came behind them allowing Keavy to take the lead and joining in with their own pipes and drums. The town had originally lined the road but as the parade passed on the walk towards the border the group seemingly just fell in behind until by the time they reached the border a good few hundred had amassed behind the Royals and the honour guard as the meet with the Dragon-Emperor at the border.

Two Cenneg soldiers saluted the approaching King and Queen as they pulled the border gate back and saluted their opposite numbers who they'd seen through the fence many times but hardly ever exchanged more than a casual greeting. Finley had briefed these men and had them deposit their rifles with comrades before approaching the border and extending a hand across in a offering of a handshake. Finley did likewise towards the Dragon-Emperor all the time Keavy playing now on her own as the town fanned out many filming the occasion of their phones.

Offline Lijiang

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Re: Bagpipes and Dragons
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2021, 11:41:58 PM »
Guo Tianyu had been the ambassador to Ui Cenneslaig just a few weeks, he'd not even had chance to get to know Claith but today was being expected to advise the Dragon-Emperor on the Celts. He had crossed the border about an hour before the Cenneg arrived and had found in a small woodsman's settlement the Dragon-Emperor sitting enjoying some green tea with the woodcutter and his family. Dragon-Emperor Tielin was joined by his 16 year old Prince Chun and his new wife Queen Dandan. Tielin believed it was important that he showed his new bride off internationally to reinforce her legitimacy and so she nervously sat sipping tea delicately.

"It's time" Guo informed the Dragon-Emperor as he was given word the Celts were coming.

"Thank you sir" Tielin extended a hand to the woodcutter and tried to leave some coins for the man's hospitality but the man hastily picked them off the old worn wooden table and forced them back towards the Dragon-Emperor.

"Your Imperial Majesty the honour of having you, your son and your Queen drink tea with us is a blessing that will live with this family for thousands of years. Please do not think we hosted you for reward." The man kept his head bowed as he spoke.

"Fuan" Tielin addressed the man by his name, "I thank you for your tea, your hospitality and your company." He turned to an aide and gave some instructions, "For our Queen's new pagoda please ensure regular shipments from Fuan. I like his woodland. Is that OK dear?" He addressed Dandan who would be having her own construction built within the woods that surrounded the Imperial Palace. It was custom that every Empress and Queen had a pagoda built where they could entertain friends and host events of their own. Upon the death of the Empress or Queen the Pagoda was carefully taken down and its wood used for cremating the body. The construction on Dandan's would begin soon as she had just selected the spot.

"I would like that." The Queen said in a voice barely able to be heard across the room.

"Excellent" Tielin took hold of her hand and bowing respectfully to the woodsman's wife made his way out of the small cottage. The border was just a few hundred meters away and the Dragon-Emperor waited for the arrival. He heard the Cenneg first before seeing over the small hill raise a single girl appear bringing the screeching of bagpipes with her. Next it seemed like the whole of Ui Cenneslaig was following in its wake.

"They look funny in skirts" Prince Chun whispered to his father and received a harsh stare.

"Do not be disrespectful. I can't wait for these tutors of yours to arrive. The Cenneg are proud Celts and that KILT is every part as important to them as the Dragon is to us. The colours and patterns represent their family and their people. One day you will be in my position and the Cenneg could be our best friend or a pain in our backside. It is better to have men such as these liking us so keep those comments to yourself."

The Cenneg soliders leaving their weapons and extending hands to the Lijiang border guards was unexpected and the men looked around for what to do and eventually accepted smiling broadly. Tielin accepted the handshake of the King. "Your Majesty I would be honoured if you'd allow me, my son and Queen to enter your Kingdom." Tielin asked as he let go of Finley's hand.

Offline KrisNord

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Re: Bagpipes and Dragons
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2021, 10:25:27 PM »
Finley watched as the Lijiang delegation arrived at the border and stepped aside gesturing with a hand that Tielin was of course free to cross the border along with his family. "Welcome to Ui Cenneslaig" He bowed politely to Dandan and Prince Chun. "May I introduce Queen Riona and I suppose the town of Alloway, seems they were keen to welcome you to their home." Finley chuckled as his wife stepped forward carrying three tartan wrapped items. It was clear the weight was rather substantial as she seemed a little uncomfortable. Finley took the top two from his wife and allowed her to continue rather less encumbered.

"Welcome Your Imperial Majesty" she bowed. "We hope you will accept a traditional gift from us to you." She unwrapped the tartan cloth a small leather shield about the size of a dinner plate was revealed. It's leather was dark brown and stretched across wooden boards with silver handles to hold at the back. "This is a traditional Targe" she took it and showed the Dragon Emperor how it could be buckled to his arm. It was clear now that a Celtic Dragon had been embossed into the leather a decent sized silver spike came from the centre. "And this" the Queen held up a small silver knife "Is a Targe, back in days of old Cenneg soldiers would go into battle with the Targe strapped to their left arm and holding the targe in their left hand, in their right they'd carry a sword. We have an identical set for Prince Chun if we may present them." She wasn't sure if it was permitted for the Prince to have such items because of his age and so it seemed sensible to ask for permission. "And for Queen Dandan" Riona faced the young Queen and bowed "It was tradition that whatever their husband had on his Targe a woman would wear as a brooch. I hope you'll accept this." She unwrapped the cloth to show a brooch with the dragon imposed in the centre of Celtic line work.

"Now perhaps we should have a walk to the town, its not far and its a lovely morning." The King turned from the border and stopped for a moment. "Do you think I could just take a step into Lijiang before we depart?" Finley asked the Dragon-Emperor, "means I can say I'm the first Cenneg monarch to visit Lijiang." He had another childish chuckle.

Offline Lijiang

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Re: Bagpipes and Dragons
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2021, 03:34:18 PM »
Tielin returned the bows of the Cenneg monarchs and found himself waving to the people who were assembled behind the King and his entourage. Dandan and Chun kept positions behind the Dragon-Emperor with Dandan still nervous of being thrust into such a spotlight.  The Dragon-Emperor hadn't really expected gifts to be exchanged here and the border and was now discreetly signalling to his own aides. He knew the Celts considered themselves a warrior people at heart so he wasn't surprised by the gift. He was unsure how to act, should he try things on our just examine them. He gave the dagger a careful look. "They are excellent" Tielin said as he did so unsure whether they were or not but suspecting it was the expected answer. "I hope though I never need use them."

As Dandan was given her brooch she spoke quietly barely audible to those around them. "Thank you for your generousity Your Majesty" the Queen said her eyes still lowered. "I shall treasure forever" Meanwhile Prince Chun seemed rather pleased with his gift and was trying to put the shield on his arm only for his father to glare disapprovingly.

By now his own team had arrived with various weaved baskets for the Cenneg. "I had my staff look at customs for your nation and we believe when visiting someone's home for the first time as a guest you bring with you coal so that you may always have a fire", the basket was uncovered and showed it was full of the black fuel, "You must bring silver for prosperity" The next basket revealed a set of silver cutlery engraved with Dragons and stags on the handle, "and cloth so you shall always have clothes for your back" The final basket showed bolts of silk that had been created in the royal families own tartan. The King's then strange request did make the Dragon-Emperor surprised. "Your Majesty you are free to visit us anytime" He stepped aside allowing the Cenneg monarch to walk past him.

Offline KrisNord

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Re: Bagpipes and Dragons
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2021, 02:41:28 PM »
With permission to enter Lijiang granted by the Dragon-Emperor the Cenneg monarch walked into Lijiang just a few steps and then smartly turned around and walked back to Tielin. "Hopefully they'll be many longer visits in the future, but for now that can wait." Finley began to walk back towards the town of Alloway and the crowd parted to allow them to walk along the road. The crowd once the various royals and their party had passed formed up behind them and followed them back to the small town. Perhaps surprisingly the King didn't head to the Alloway Castle where he would be expected to undertake talks but instead peeled off the road and towards the ivy covered building with the "First and Last" sign hanging outside it. Many pubs close to the borders of Ui Cenneslaig carried the name boasting of being the last pub in Ui Cenneslaig on your way out and the first on your way in. The King pushed open the door with the manner of a man returning to his local pub and headed inside. A rather surprised landlord was stood behind the bar and looked flustered. "Good Morning" The King sat down on a bar stool near the bar and looked around. He instantly liked the place, lots of wood panelling and a roaring log fire. "Two pints of stout and two halves please.......can your son drink alcohol?" Finley waited for the answer before ordering an appropriate drink and slipping the barman a note in payment. "Little bars like this a heart of the local community" Finley could see several people looking in through the windows. "Its a great place to get to know someone, a bit of stout, its a really dark ale, a nice fire and good company. I like to know a little about the people I try and make deals with before I get to business. So perhaps you and could tell me a bit about your life before becoming Dragon-Emperor, sadly I've not really found much." Finley picked up his drink and took a good long sip leaving a small amount of foam around his upper lip as he went and took a seat near the fire.

Offline Lijiang

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Re: Bagpipes and Dragons
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2021, 09:15:05 PM »
The contrast between the two nations was now extremely clear to the Dragon-Emperor. His homeland was one of rather strict formalities based on traditions and faith, meanwhile it appeared the Cenneg, while still clinging to traditions, were happy to freestyle their way through events. Perhaps though Finley was a master of making events seem rather carefree and free-form. A trip to a traditional Cenneg public house had not been on the agenda and Tielin was unsure exactly what he should be doing now but he suspected to turn down the hospitality from his neighbour would be seen as an extremely bad thing. He accepted the beer and examined the dark liquid. Lijiang was not a nation where there was heavy consumption of alcohol but it wasn't something taboo either. "Thank you" Tielin replied as he followed Finley. "As for my son he is free to try if he wishes."

Chun had the odd glass of Baijiu with meals in the various Palaces but like his father he was not a heavy drinker. He was though excited to try the new drink and so accepted a smaller glass. He sampled the liquid and found it a little harsher than drinks back home but enjoyable non the less. The sat next to his father sipping his drink.

Queen Dandan however was unsure what to do, the drink was not elegant as such beverages back home would have been and so was unsure how to proceed so instead watched Queen Riona and did her best to mimic the Cenneg Queen's behaviour.

Tielin wondered exactly what the King would like to know about him so having taken another mouth full of his beverage. "My life was very much like those of most sons of a High Lord in Lijiang. Well as much as growing up in the period of mourning would allow. My father though was a forward thinker compared to many. So many of the High Lords believed that everything Lijiang was made us the envy of the world and to some extent life was great. The problem is over the 120 years we just coasted along and my father did what he could to ensure that at least our family and our province of Baoshan tried to progress. We failed miserably now I've had a chance to witness other nations. Take Royal Seleucid's engineering projects, there was a time huge Palaces and imposing compounds were commonplace. Now we struggle to build even oil platforms. I was educated in the Baoshan Shūyuàn which is a kind of academy for those who intend to undertake service in the employment of the Empire. The problem was of the eight Shūyuàn only two remained operating and this has put us back significantly as the Shūyuàn prepared our civil service, our lawyers, our generals and a whole host of other positions. My father kept us out of the various uprisings and rebellions that plagued that last few decades of the mourning and I was content in doing what I could to support him. When my father died it became clear that sooner or later a full blown civil war would begin unless we took action and so me and my brother did what any true loyalist would do and supported the Dragon-Priestess as she attempted to restore order. Sadly that is a regret I have, I left the physical fighting to other men contending myself to believe my duties lay in organisation and management not combat. My brother served and in some way it could be argued he should have had the throne, he fought for it after all. Meanwhile I inherited an Empire in need of some modernisation, some change will come but we are also a nation as proud of our history and culture as you are. I was fortunate to be handed the throne and everything that comes with it. Now I must ensure Chun here is in a better position to inherit the throne than I was." It was perhaps the first time Chun had heard his father speak in such a manner and understood the high expectations he had been set. The months of intense education by foreign tutors combined with the long hours at the Shūyuàn of Yansheng which was the oldest and most prestigious of the Imperial Academies. Chun was not an amazing student and was ranked 22nd in his class of 30 but he was a hard worker and his father suspected that would be what mattered. "I now need to ensure we walk the tightrope between not being a clone of other nations while ensuring we are not left as a relic of the past." He took another sip of his drink. "It is with that I hope you can help us. It is strange our two unique cultures have lived side by side and remain so different. How do you think your people will react to us having such talks?"