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  • The lands may be shitty by the standards of the Hundred Kingdoms, it has been emphasized that they are significantly better than what they currently have. In order for this to work we need to be know what we are willing to give in total and what we will give as a minimum. Some of those foothills, the 'poor' borderlands are certainly something that qualifies as both. Offering some of the lower hills in Xia would be our best bet for securing neutrality.

    Offering some of those hills in Yue is a good start for actual military aid. As would a reminder that if we lose badly (say because they raided us) we might not even be able to follow through on our word, as we would be dead and our enemy would take all our lands. I'd play that one close to our chest but it would serve as an advantage if we already have an agreement to a non-aggression treaty.

    But both of those strike me as at the table arrangements. A hostage would make a fantastic insurance policy to prove our good faith. But on it's own it is worth little. Likewise offering some money would help us get there. Since the tribes are smaller than I thought it has become more viable. That said I thought offering a share of the spoils was to be assumed, but we should make that clear beforehand. Keep in mind, by this stage we are directing the targets of their raids to our enemies. I fully believe they would want to keep what they took and I don't have a problem with that.

    IMO, the best way to get what we want is to offer some of the lower hills of Xia with a hostage. Going for broke such as a military assistance or convincing them to raid Yue and their allies, will obviously require more. I think offering some of Yue's lower hills in the event of conquest would be a good start. Some discretionary funds to bribe/convince the council if they are are on the fence.
    Likewise (and this will be the hardest to ask for) we may well be asked for other things, deals, legal protections that we haven't considered so we may need the right to negotiate things on Isyen's behalf in an uncertain manner...honestly if we are going that route, I'd ask that the hostage be the one to authorize any such unknown dealings. We know what the big offer is but minor details are kind of an issue.
    Last edited by FallenEco; 03-12-2017, 06:04 AM.


    Thoughts ripple out, birthing others

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    • I want to say "all of the above".

      Xia won't want to give up 1/3 to 1/2 of their turf, or go bankrupt, but ceding a smaller amount of money and land each might be bearable. Also, the tribes understandably will not trust us, and so providing a hostage would be helpful. We can also offer trade agreements, cultural exchanges, or more esoteric things.

      Bottom line - treaties are complicated, and we should be ready to offer a wide variety of things to balance Xia's needs and theirs.


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      • When in doubt, barter a marriage agreement! Everything in life can be solved by enough matchmaking! We've established that the nobility pretty much has to marry whoever they get told to, so we'll just...tell a few of 'em to marry Hill Tribe VIPs. If we're gonna unify these warring cultures and forge them into a grand empire, we gotta get started healing the divide through nuptial agreements!

        .../bluesid.


        So I'm making God-Kicking Boot, an Exalted webcomic, now. Updates on Sundays. Full-color, mediocre but slowly improving art. It's a thing.

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        • So..... I made a map in Hexographer, to clarify some of the geopolitical aspects of what we are going over, but I can't attach the damn thing. I've tried .png, .jpeg, .gif. Nothing.

          Very frustrating.

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          • Originally posted by Wise Old Guru View Post
            When in doubt, barter a marriage agreement! Everything in life can be solved by enough matchmaking! We've established that the nobility pretty much has to marry whoever they get told to, so we'll just...tell a few of 'em to marry Hill Tribe VIPs. If we're gonna unify these warring cultures and forge them into a grand empire, we gotta get started healing the divide through nuptial agreements!

            .../bluesid.

            The thing about that is: the Hill-Tribes don't really have a concept of nobility. Sure, sure, they understand the topic, but even tribal chiefs and elders are technically equal to the rest of the tribe. Functionally, they are not, since chiefs and elders have an ass-ton of social, political and military influence, but still. If a Lowland VIP were to marry a Hill-Tribe VIP, nothing really that earth-shaking would happen, as the Hill-Tribes don't practice positional-succession like the Lowlanders do (instead being a meritocracy of sorts), and the Lowland noble-families aren't about to accept the children of the Hill-Tribes as heirs.

            Plus, marriage as a whole would be iffy, since the overwhelming majority of Lowland noble familes are followers of the Immaculate Faith, and almost all Hill-Tribespeople are functional pagans. Neither party is likely going to convert. Not to mention the language barrier.

            Of course, this could change once the Hill-Tribes actually live on comparatively-good farming land, and therefore are able to rack up wealth. In Hill-Tribe society, men marry into the woman's familial clan, and it is the women of the clan that "own" agricultural land, passing terraces down to their daughters. If, once the Hill-Tribes get some decent arable land, some enterprising Lowland nobles take Hill-Tribe women as concubines, that would cement relations between the two peoples, as well as ensure more land "stays within the family", as it were. On top of that, since the Hill-Tribe women would legally be considered concubines, said nobles will also be free to marry other nobles without the stigma of polygamy.

            Here are some marriage "standards" accepted by both cultures:
            - Hill-Tribes: usually monogamy, occasional polygamy accepted for certain circumstances. Children are always accepted into the mothers clan.
            - Lowlanders: monogamy, but "official" and "unofficial" concubines accepted. Only children from the "official" spouse can be accepted as heirs, but "official" (aka recognized and acknowledged in court) concubine-borne children are not considered bastards, just much lesser in status to the true-born children. "Unoffical" concubine-borne children are bastards, if the parent even recognizes them to begin with. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concubinage#China)

            Of course, not too many Lowland nobles are actually going to want to take Hill-Tribeswomen as concubines, official concubines anyway. That might be "too much, too fast" for them to take. Allowing the heathen savages into the lowlands is bad enough as it is!
            Last edited by Boston123; 03-12-2017, 03:04 PM.

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            • I would wonder if we could do a number of things:

              1. Offer them lands in Xia to stay neutral. Consider making small payments to help with resettlement but nothing more than necessary to do that. We dont want them having so much money they use it to pay off mercenarys and weapons suppliers.
              2. Offer them lands in Yue if they help us to fight Yue. Make payments enough to arm their warriors with gear thats good but not better than that of the Army of Xia.
              3. Make religious offerings to their gods and hand over a hostage so that they know we bring good faith to the bargain and are serious about what we say and that we respect them.

              Just as important if not more is considering the other kindgoms nearby. How do we mend those fences?

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              • Originally posted by joshopotamus View Post
                Just as important if not more is considering the other kindgoms nearby. How do we mend those fences?
                The two other major domains in the area are Yue (with whom we aren't going to be mending many fences soon, quite the opposite) to the southeast of Xia, and Ji, with whom Xia has had a traditional rivalry of sorts. Mainly, said rivalry involves turning down marriage proposals out of hand, but if pressed or given opportunity, Ji could very well try to "split the pie" with Yue. It isn't that likely, however: "better the enemy you know", and all that, and if there is one thing Ji knows, it is Xia. The two realms were allied in the rebellion against Zhou, and while they had a falling out, they still somewhat have a level of respect for each other, even if said respect is downplayed in modern times.

                Ji is to the northwest of Xia.

                Along the borders of Xia, Ji and Yue, there are several smaller "realms", roughly equal to one of Lord Iysen's vassals in size, power and influence. Some of them are antipathic towards Xia (due to Xia being "the bully on the block" a couple generations ago), some are happy trading partners, most are ambivalent. The important thing about these smaller realms is that 1) they "occupy" the most feasible sites to start invasions of either Xia or Yue, aka the river valleys, and 2) While they wouldn't be able to actually stop either Xia or Yue's forces, these realms have castles and forces of their own, and could impede the moving of troops for either side for significant amounts of time. (which is the main "function" of a castle, anyways).

                Either side would want to court these smaller Realms into 1) joining their side, or 2) leaving them be as the main opponents clash.

                If either side were to try to recruit these smaller realms, offers like; allowing them to retain their recognized and traditional rights and status (aka, make them powerful vassals, like Marcher-Lords, not some bog-standard landholder), grant them more lands, grant them charters for resources (like, rights to log a forest, mine a series of hills, etc), or arrange a marriage between the "royal" family of the major realm and the "royal" family of the lesser one would be reasonably effective.

                Such similar offers might sway the sworn vassals of an enemy realm, since the first and foremost loyalty of most Lords isn't to their liege, but to their own dynasty. If their family and name could be better off serving another realm, or going it alone, they might just abandon their liege-Lord. Of course, unlike the "independent realms" that join under their own free (or coerced by threat of attack) will, such behavior is viewed as suspicious, and hostages will almost certainly be taken. It also would be easier to coerce a vassal into renouncing their liege if you metaphorically smack the liege around some: by defeating them soundly in the field at least a couple of times.

                ..... This would all be almost-infinitely easier to explain if I could just post my damn map.

                EDIT: Fuck it, made an Imgur

                http://imgur.com/7JpSQye


                Last edited by Boston123; 03-15-2017, 10:26 PM.

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                • It looks like most of you suggested a mix between land and hostages, with a few adding money/tribute.

                  <x> denotes something said in Forest-tongue, from this point on
                  -----------
                  You sigh, trying to remember stories and conversations from over a decade ago.

                  “In all honesty, Lord, money wouldn’t be the best choice. Now, don’t get me wrong, they would most certainly accept money in the form of tribute, but it would mainly be the principle of the thing as opposed to any real need for specie. They would likely just melt it down and reuse it in jewelry. Among the Hill-Tribes, wealth is worn, not hoarded.”

                  “On the other hand, giving them a supply of cash, while also opening up access to trade, would allow them to just buy the things they usually steal. That, in and of itself, might lessen the amount of raiding they do.”

                  “Land….. that would definitely make them sit up and pay attention. They are land-starved, especially the younger men and women who make up the largest potential raiding groups, and ceding them some of the lands you or your vassals don’t use would lessen both the intensity and number of raids.”

                  She frowns, “What do you mean, ‘land we don’t use”?

                  “The lands in the hinterlands of Xia, Lord, right up against the mountains. Growing crops in that region is difficult with lowland methods of farming, and they are largely undersettled as a result. That, in turn, means bandits use the hills and gullies as hideouts. In fact, ceding them to the Hill-Tribes would take out two birds with one stone; you would eliminate the bandits hiding in those hills, and you would by-and-large get the Hill-Tribes off your back.”

                  Continuing, “A hostage, on the other hand, woul…”

                  “I am not giving up one of my children as a hostage, Kasai!”, she interjects, passions inflamed.

                  “….If I may continue, Lord?”, and after she masters herself, you continue, “It is probably the only way they are going to take any offer seriously, Lord. They have been burned by the lowland realms before, and they have long memories. Giving them a symbol that you deal with them in good faith and mean to keep your word would go a long way towards securing their neutrality. It doesn’t have to be permanent, just for as long as the conflict lasts. And, while they have a different sense of honor that we do, they wouldn’t kill the hostage so long as you kept your side of the bargain….. well, my grandfather wouldn’t, anyways.”

                  After taking a moment to collect your thoughts, “Yes. Lord, in order to successfully cut a neutrality deal with the Hill-Tribes, I recommend ceding them land, opening up trade and offering them certain protections, as well as giving them a hostage for the duration of the war. A gift of money would help as well, but not be critical.”

                  Instead of answering, Lord Iysen walks over to the parapet, looking out over the river for quite some time. The sun is starting to descend towards the western horizon, and despite it being late spring, the evening wind is chilly. You start to shiver before Lord Iysen abruptly steps back out of her thoughts.

                  “…you are right, Kasai. I am sorry for being cross with you for suggesting an option. I…. don’t like the choices, but I don’t really have a choice, do I?” She says bitterly. “Whatever I can do to protect Xia will be done, my feelings on the matter are irrelevant.”

                  She starts back down the stairs, “So, I guess the next decision to make is who to choose……”

                  “If I may make another suggestion, Lord?”, and with her nod of approval,” Your daughters would be arguably be more politically useful as a marriage-candidate than as a hostage, if I may say so without being presumptuous. That leaves your son, Aketchi. He is too young to fight, too young to be wed, and on top of that, he showed a great deal of interest in the stories I told about my youth among the Tribes.”

                  “He is my only son, though! And so young…..But, yes, I see your point. And he will require much less coercing. …..Very well, it shall be done.”

                  As the two of you ascend through the keep, she turns to you, “How long do you think it will take you to get there and back?”

                  “Well, it took about 5 days for my page and I to travel the length of the Tumblestone to Teriake, for the tournament. That was with one person on foot, and we weren’t rushing. Depending on how we travel, and what we are bringing along…. I guess it could take us a little more than a week to reach the mountains, so long as we stick to the post-roads. Once we get to the mountains, it could take gods-know-how-long. I was planning on travelling to my grandfather first, as he would likely be the most receptive to any diplomacy, but the Nemasket has territory primarily to the northwest of Xia. I know from my father’s lands, it only took a few days to get to my grandfather’s village, but that was from Que, which is on the opposite side of Ji from Xia. From Xia….. two weeks, maybe three, just to get to the Hill-Tribes, and a month or more to come back with a response? To be honest, I am not entirely sure; it isn’t like there are roads in the mountains, and I will largely have to follow the mountains north until I see landmarks I recognize.”

                  She sighs, “Very well. I was hoping you would be back in time for the campaign season, but the winds that carry travelers over the mountains exist only in stories. With that in mind, I suggest you get a good-nights-rest; you will be heading out tomorrow morning. I will handle the writing of the letter; your grandfather speaks Riverspeak, does he not?”

                  “Yes, Lord, he does, but the other elders will almost certainly not.”

                  “Well enough, he was whom I was hoping to deal with anyways. Good night, Kasai.”

                  Upon making your way back to your quarters, you slide open the door to find Saiko and Blue Pines engaged in a lively dice game, the looks of which Saiko is winning.

                  “I’m guessing Blue Pines won her bet?”

                  She nods morosely, “Yup. Now I’m losing it all. For someone who has never thrown dice before, she sure has some luck!”

                  Saiko grins, “Think of it as karma; you bet against me in the first place, now I am winning it all back!”

                  You chuckle, “That….. isn’t what karma means, Saiko. Besides, I hate to break up the fun and all, but we have work to do.”

                  The two of them look confused, “Right now, at night?”

                  “Yes, we are leaving in the morning on a diplomatic mission. That means we have to pack. And by ‘we’, I mean ‘you’. Saiko, pack up whatever we will need for an expedition into the northern mountains; it is going to be windy and rainy, so focus on clothing first. Blue Pines, I want you to go down to the stables and make sure the cart and mule are all set for travel.”

                  Groaning, the two of them get up and set about their appointed tasks, while you take the opportunity to actually sit back and relax for once. When it was just you, you would have had to do everything by yourself (obviously), so having people to do it for you is pretty nice. With this in mind, you ready up your own wargear, while Saiko takes care of everything else; clothing, equipment, weapons and armor. It only takes a few minutes, so by the time Blue Pines comes back up from the stables, everything is squared away and you are able to drift off to sleep quickly.

                  In the morning (far too early for your tastes. The sun isn’t even over the horizon, yet!), your entourage is woken by a servant tapping on the door, bringing you breakfast and an admonition to be ready for travel as soon as possible. After eating and gearing up, you head out to the upper bailey, where there you are surprised to see a mounted escort flanking both your cart and a larger wagon, drawn by a team of oxen and surmounted by a large banner, emblazoned with the heraldry of Xia. You are also greeted by Lord Iysen and her son (who seems rather put-off, as opposed to his usual cheerfulness), who present you with a tabard of green silk with yet more Xian heraldry on the breast.

                  When Lord Iysen comes close, to pass over the tabard and other accoutrements, you ask, “Lord Iysen, what is all this? I thought we were aiming for speed!”

                  Eyebrow raised, “You are, Kasai, but you are also my official envoy. As a duly-recognized servant of mine on a mission of state, you need to have certain accompaniments, in line with your status. In turn, these things will let you effectively travel faster than if you were by yourself, even if you move more slowly.” Gesturing to the banner and the escort, “those two will ensure you receive no trouble on the road, and will open most doors and post-stations to you, no questions asked.” To the tabard, “this tells the world you are my official servant, and are not to be impeded.”, and to the wagon, “and this will allow you to carry more supplies, so you can travel longer without stopping.”

                  Moving to the wagon, she motions for you to follow her. At the foot of the bed, she pulls out a heavy bronze key and unlocks a chest set at the back. Inside, to your shock, you see ingot after silver ingot, 25 in total, as well as several smaller bags of coin.

                  “Wh… what is this?”

                  “You did say tribute would be well-received, did you not? Well, here it is. The equivalent of 25 dirham of silver, a year and a halfs-worth of gate-taxes and berth-tolls. There is also some money for travel expenses. I will be putting the official communique in here as well, so don’t lose the key!”, and with that, she lays down a paper package, sealed with wax.

                  Closing and locking the chest, she turns to her son, and after gazing at him for a moment, takes him in a tight embrace. A few moments later, she turns to you, “I guess you had better get a move-on. The war will not wait on your behalf...." Taking a deep breath," Hereby, I recognize you as my official envoy, able and allowed to speak in my name in this matter. " And, with this, she turns and hurries back into the keep, and without much ado, your convoy heads out.

                  To your surprise, having such an escort doesn’t really slow you down. While the wagon, ox-drawn as it is, is indeed slower than a party all ahorse, between the Xian banner mounted on it and the ample supply of cash, you are able to travel up the banks of the White river essentially unimpeded, waved through post-stations by officials and able to change out horses and oxen as they get tired. In addition, the armed escort keeps away bandits and the other assorted riff-raff of the road well away, and the streets of the farming villages you pass through are cleared of traffic ahead of time, leading to less wagon-wrangling between crowds and stalls. Even your leg is considerate of your need for speed, acting up only infrequently due to your ability to switch between riding ahorse and steering the wagon as needed. After only a week of travelling, you are already starting to climb into the foothills, very good time by your reckoning.

                  As you climb higher and higher, you leave the lowland woods behind, and start to see more sawtoothed pines, maples and alders, interspersed between the stands of bamboo. The humidity characteristic of the great Eastern river valleys drops off and the wind picks up, howling around the rocky outcroppings. The road thins and narrows, changing from gravel to dirt, then to a thin path following the river, now a rapid flow crashing down the rock faces. The villages get smaller and ruder, surrounded by terraces instead of stone-walled fields, and here and there you see the telltale signs of Hill-Tribe ancestry (aka mutations) interspersed among the peasants.

                  It is in one of these villages that you are accosted by one of the local peasants, evidently the headman of the village.

                  “Sorry, boss, but you aren’t gonna wanna take that wagon any further.”

                  “Why not?”

                  “The trail gets rougher; you can only pass down it on a sure-footed beast. The cart might make it through. Why do you wanna go down there, anyways? All that leads to is the Hill-tribes.”
                  Shrugging, “I just do what I am told, friend. Thanks for the advice.” Turning to the escort, you call out, “All right, unhitch the wagon and start divvying up supplies, we are going to have to leave it behind.”

                  As the troops unpack then repack the supplies from the wagon-bed, you walk around and unlock the chest, stapled to the floor. As you pull out the silver ingots, you hear a gasp from behind you. Wheeling around, you see one of the locals, hair like a fox, gaping at the silver wealth so exposed. You snarl, partially at your own stupidity for bringing it out in the open, and make towards the man to tell him to mind his own bloody business. Before you reach him, he turns and runs back between the houses.

                  Annoyed, you turn from the village and quickly pass the ingots to the waiting armsmen. Then, you remove the staples holding the chest down, and move it over to the cart. There, you load the ingots back up and lock it again, covering the chest with gear in lieu of drilling holes in the bed of your own cart.

                  You pay the headman handsomely to watch over both the wagon and the oxen until you return, the small bronze coins you give him probably the most money he has ever seen in his life. Perturbed and paranoid about having exposed the amount of cash you are travelling with, you order the convoy to head out down the trail, as opposed to staying in the village for much longer. You don’t like how the peasant looked at you when you had the silver spread out.

                  Very shortly, you find out the headman wasn’t exaggerating how rough the trail got. In short order, you find the party travelling in single-file down the rocky defile, in some spots having to dismount and lead your horses on foot between boulders that press close. The mule is perfectly capable of traversing the trail, but at several points the cart gets stuck between rocks or in ruts, and you all have to work together to lift it out/over the obstruction.

                  At this rate, it takes several hours to travel less than a mile, and when you come across a wide-spot in the trail, you gladly order the group to stop for the night, even though it is only mid-afternoon. Evidently, the site is often used by travelers, with a stone firepit already dug and rudimentary shelters of stone and branches in place.

                  Some of the armsmen go to gather firewood and set up camp, while Blue Pines starts to put dinner together. As night falls, you, Saiko and Aketchi practice sparring with lengths of bamboo staves.

                  “Now, Master Aketchi, how much training have you had with arms?”

                  “….not very much, Mr. Kasai. I’ve mostly practiced with wooden weapons, but that was just to build up strength.”

                  “Huh, you started late, I guess. I started at seven. Anyways, do your best to try to hit me, and I will do the same.”

                  The boy steps forward, telegraphing his strikes even worse than Saiko does, and you parry them with ease. He is getting obviously frustrated, gritting his teeth, and he steps back to catch his breath. At this very moment, your eyes rise to the ridgeline of the gully, and…. You see movement! Shadows moving in the trees, more than one!

                  You:
                  1. Tackle Aketchi into one of the shelters. If he takes an arrow or spear through the throat, this diplomatic mission is worthless!
                  2. If they want a fight, then a fight they’ll get! Call the armsmen and prepare!
                  3. Shout that your party is a diplomatic mission from Xia to the Hill-Tribes. Only a fool would attack an official envoy under a banner!
                  4. Pull back down the trail. Here, they can fire/attack you from multiple angles. Staying here might be a bad decision….
                  5. Run up the trail. The terrain is rough, you could lose them!
                  6. Offer money to the attackers. Chances are this is what they are after, and if they might be satisfied with cash as opposed to blood.
                  7. Something else?
                  Last edited by Boston123; 03-19-2017, 11:13 PM.

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                  • Combine 1-3. Yell at Akatchi to take cover, yell at the armsmen to get armed, and yell at whoever is up there not to do anything stupid. Then, if there's time, yell at whatever gods Kasai worships for making life difficult.

                    Two-to-one odds each its villagers from the place we just passed moonlighting as bandits, bandits tipped off by the villagers, or hill tribes.
                    Last edited by semicasual; 03-20-2017, 08:07 AM.


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                    • I agree with semicasual

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                      • Originally posted by Jairain View Post
                        I agree with semicasual
                        We can't really get everyone moving fast enough, so semicasual has the right of it. I would stress Akatchi's safety along with our actions, but otherwise....


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                        • Tackle Aketchi into one of the shelters. If he takes an arrow or spear through the throat, this diplomatic mission is worthless!
                          and call out to the armsmen. The fight will start soon enough; the villagers saw the size of the escort so it's a lot of them or it's daring Hill folk.


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                          • Gonna third semicasual's suggestion. Those three options seem like the best ones.

                            I would also like to ask: what's the scale on the hexmap you have? Is every hex 30 miles across? I'm most familiar with hexmaps from pathfinder, which operated on a 1 hex = 12 miles scale. What scale do you use?

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                            • Originally posted by KymmetheSeventh View Post
                              Gonna third semicasual's suggestion. Those three options seem like the best ones.

                              I would also like to ask: what's the scale on the hexmap you have? Is every hex 30 miles across? I'm most familiar with hexmaps from pathfinder, which operated on a 1 hex = 12 miles scale. What scale do you use?

                              Ehhhhhh, to be honest, I am playing rather hard and fast with that hex-map. I made it quick and dirty mainly to give context for the upcoming chapter. I didn't make it with a set scale in mind.

                              For some context, however, there is a river that branches off to the "northeast" of Teriake Castle. Where the woods meet the river is where Saiko's village was located. From that village, it took Kasai and Saiko about ....... eh, 6-7 days or so, but one of them wasn't mounted, and they effectively faffed about training and such.

                              Even with the wagon in tow, since the entire party was mounted, and able to travel on paved/well-maintained post roads, and switch out mounts regularly, the diplomatic escort made it to the border between Xia and the Hill-Tribes in about a week. Now, since they will be travelling through some pretty rough terrain, their pace will slow to a crawl.

                              I envision that, if one were to follow the Red River, aka the "big" river on Xia's southern border, one could traverse the length of the realm in about a week and a half, two tops. The Hundred Kingdoms aren't that big, they are just heavily hilled and forested, and that slows down movement. In the flat river valleys, however, one can travel pretty quickly.

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                              • Sorry ladies and gents, but I got back from a camping trip today and am pretty beat down as a result, so it looks like there will be no posting this week. I might make a post on Wednesday, or I might make next weekend's post extra-long.

                                ...... This is why I can't have nice Quest threads, I suppose.

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