Author Topic: Excerpts of Feng/Democratic Literature  (Read 867 times)

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Offline Izhitsa

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Excerpts of Feng/Democratic Literature
« on: March 15, 2023, 02:31:55 AM »
This thread collates some examples of literature from the Feng Kingdom and The Democracy. Not all of the examples here are equally representative of Feng culture, but provide a wide swathe of literature from throughout the history of the region.

Table of Contents:
Excerpts from Notes From a Far-West Cottage:

Spoiler: Notes From a Far-West Cottage • show
Notes From a Far-West Cottage is a commonplace book compiled by the late 18th-century author Fu Wenhong 富文虹. He was a high official in the Feng court and is perhaps most famous for leading the compilation of the Concordance of Feng History. Unfortunately, he was exiled to various posts in the Far West for an accidental insult to the king. Notes from a Far-West Cottage was written during this period based on stories he heard in the Far West and stories he experienced himself. The book is filled with stories of varying lengths, which are often strange and other-worldly. Many are written with a moral in mind, but most are not. The stories were not originally titled, but his associates, who published the books after his death, gave them titles and numbers to make it easier to discuss them. Fu Wenhong always hoped that his loyalty to the court and the Ardian Empire would be recognized and he would be recalled to the capital, but he spent the rest of his life in the Far West.

More to come.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2023, 02:38:55 AM by Izhitsa »

Offline Izhitsa

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Notes From a Far-West Cottage - The Pirate Immortal
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2023, 02:36:51 AM »
This excerpt from Notes from a Far-West Cottage is based on Fu Wenhong's work on The Concordance of Feng History. Fu Wenhong was the first writer to record this story after the events were described in Feng court records.

People are not always who they seem to be at a glance. When we take time to truly understand a person, we may find that even our most basic assumptions about them are untrue.
The Records of the Grand Historians tell us that in the fifth year of the reign of King Longqing, the pirate Zhao Er 趙二, a native of Sigang 絲港, began terrorizing the land. His forces amounted to a few hundred beggars and outcast monks of Dongnanhai 東南海. They attacked shipping heading to and from the capital, but always avoided ships flying Ardian flags. The Court soon assigned regional commander Xia Yu 夏宇 to lead the fight against the bandits.
However, Zhao Er and his men were not so easily squashed. Along with his allies Wu Yongge 武詠歌 and Ba Shu 巴叔,[1] he traveled up and down the coast, capturing ships and sacking villages. Whenever Xia Yu’s forces arrived for a counterattack, Zhao Er would flee to hiding places along the Dongnanhai coast.
In the eleventh year of the reign of King Longqing, Xia Yu finally trapped Wu Yongge, Ba Shu, and Zhao Er in the port of Sigang. His ships formed a wooden wall around the harbor while his armies closed in on the city itself. Seeing that victory was impossible. Wu Yongge, Ba Shu, and their forces agreed to be pacified through negotiation. Wu Yongge and Ba Shu were both granted large estates in the Far West, while their crew were given places in the king’s armies. Zhao Er’s crew agreed to a similar deal. However Zhao Er himself was nowhere to be seen.
In the first year of the reign of King Wanli,[2] Zhao Er returned with a fleet just as large as any he had commanded before. Accompanied by men throughout the coast of the Feng Kingdom, Zhao Er was able to strike in any part of the country and hide his crew before anyone could react. In this way he operated for eighteen years, always avoiding capture. However, in the nineteenth year of King Wanli, the combined armies of all of the coastal commanderies finally cornered Zhao Er’s forces in the port of Xiaokou 小口. General Han Zhengyang 韩正陽 offered amnesty to Zhao Er’s troops, but not to Zhao Er himself. With no escape, Zhao Er’s troops had no choice but to accept defeat, and Zhao Er was arrested and taken to prison for sentencing and execution.
Zhao Er’s guards were surprised to see that after 31 years of hard sea life he still showed no sign of age. Word spread that Zhao Er had been a priest before he took to the sea, and it wasn’t long before the entire prison believed that Zhao Er had found the secret to immortality. On the day before his execution, Zhao Er disappeared from prison. His fellow prisoners concluded that this could only have been through the powers he had gained while training to become an immortal.
Word soon spread from the prison to the whole eastern coast, and it was less than two years before Zhao Er appeared at the head of a new fleet. This time, however, was different.
Zhao Er had renamed himself to Zhao Dao’er 趙道二. He claimed to be the harbinger of a new era. The Feng Kings, he said, had supported wickedness in subjugating themselves to an Ardian Emperor. Zhao Dao’er said that the Jade Emperor was coming from Heaven to separate the Feng from Ardian rule and lead the Feng to rule the world. His fleet was to prepare the way by toppling the throne. All this was knowledge he had gained through the so-called wisdom he earned in his studies of immortality.
His fleet was protected by his claimed supernatural powers and he began to act as a false prophet, giving new commandments to his followers. He told his followers to regard him as their father. Even to record his image was forbidden, as the only human image worth recording was that of the Jade Emperor. However, his professed faith did not prevent him from continuing his piratical ways. For another three years, he crippled shipping in and out of the Feng Kingdom.
However, all of his religious posturing was not enough to secure victory against the glorious Ardian Empire. He was eventually overwhelmed near Xiaokou, and forced to flee to the South. Zhao Er’s cult was banned and his remaining troops pacified.
But even that was not the end of it. The Records of the Grand Historians record that Zhao Er returned eight times over the following forty-seven years.
In the eighth attack, his fleet had grown to include many barbarians of the south and of the far northeast. He struck straight for Haijing 海京, destroying fleet after fleet which stood in his way. Finally, he called upon the heavens for a sign of their favor, and a great earthquake shook Haijing, toppling many buildings. Zhao Er and his troops entered the ruined city and took King Chongzhen into prison. However, his crew was not prepared for pitched land battles and the people were not friendly to the barbarian troops. An intervention from Ardia blocked his exit and he was subjected to a heavy siege in a ruined city. After just four months in control of the capital, he was captured by troops led by Prince Hongguang. Prince Hongguang was surprised to see that Zhao Er remained just as youthful as he was when he had first attacked the ships of Sigang ninety-three years before. He demanded that Zhao Er teach him the secret to immortality.
The scoundrel Zhao Er looked at him pensively, and finally said, “The secret to immortality is that there is no secret. The Way to immortality is not the Way to be immortal.”
Prince Hongguang was annoyed by the religious riddling, and ordered his soldiers to beat the secret out of Zhao Er. Finally, Zhao Er relented. He told the prince, “Listen to this parable, you will understand the answer to my riddle. When the King of Feng dies, the King of Feng ceases, yet there is still a King of Feng. When Zhao Dao’er puts aside his ships, Zhao Dao’er ceases, yet there is still Zhao Dao’er.”
Yet Prince Hongguang was still puzzled by this remark. Zhao Er continued, “When I was a lad, I was not yet Zhao Dao’er. But the idea is a pure idea, and it was given to me by my father Zhao Dao’er. My father received this idea from his father Zhao Dao’er. And my father’s father received it from his father’s father Zhao Dao’er. And Zhao Dao’er received the idea from his father Zhao Er. Do you understand? There never was an immortal named Zhao Dao’er, and yet Zhao Dao’er will always be immortal.”
Finally Prince Hongguang understood. He had the story promulgated throughout the land. When the people knew that the so-called immortal was merely a series of many men, there never again was a Zhao Er.
There have been many cases of immortals, but none like that of Zhao Er. For while most immortals stayed alive through their bodies, Zhao Er stayed alive through his idea. The Prince Hongguang called Zhao Er a false immortal because he could not stop his body from dying. Yet of the immortals of old, the pirate Zhao Er was the only one to shake Heaven and Earth.

 1. Ba Shu 巴叔 literally means Uncle Ba. Some commentators suggest that this means his name is likely an honorific rather than a proper name. Longqing-era sources are not explicit on this subject.
 2. That is, seven years later