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About Traditional Art / Student Stacey Lynn LeBlancFemale/United States Group :iconsunstones-family: Sunstones-Family
Sunny's Family
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DW- Happy Halloween 2015 by chibigingi
DW- Happy Halloween 2015
Look, I colored something.  Amazing.  Lu Meng doesn't appreciate Gan Ning's artistry nor the waste of a perfectly good pumpkin.

Anyways, done for the contest.  Happy Halloween everybody. 

Ling Tong, Gan Ning and Lu Meng belong to China's history and Koei-Tecmo, art done by me.  
  • Mood: Apprehensive

Emergency Commissions! $10 sketches!

So, where do I even begin?  Recently I’ve been having bouts of low blood sugar attacks while at work and while we’re still not sure what’s exactly causing it, it’s forced me to take time off from work for unpaid medical leave so that I can take care of my health.  I don’t want to go into details about the work situation itself because it’d seem like it’d be in bad taste to do so and I will be starting up a new full time position, but that doesn’t start until November 16th, sadly (and hopefully they will be more lenient on allowing me to take my assigned breaks on time to prevent my blood sugar from just plummeting).  

So I’m doing emergency commissions so that I can hopefully pay by bills on my upcoming rent.  $10 character sketches, pencil or digital, whichever one clients will want.  I am still doing my regular commissions, for which can be found here – > COMMISSIONS JOURNAL 

I’m not going to sugarcoat the situation or try to blow it out of proportion, but every little bit helps, really.  If you can afford commissions, or don’t want any, please share this with a friend and send it around?  I’d greatly appreciate it!

If you’d like one done, either email me at or send a note here on DA.  I really, really appreciate anything, even a share (or a pat on the back telling me it's all going to be okay).

Dynasty Warriors: Redwall - Jing Province INKS by chibigingi
Dynasty Warriors: Redwall - Jing Province INKS
Oh look, actual art.

Deciding to try and resurrect this project, starting with this.  IF I color it, it'll have a bg.  

Lu Meng (hare), Guan Yu (Badger) , and Xu Huang (arctic fox) belong to Koei-Tecmo/Omega Force (and China’s history), Redwall belongs to Brian Jacques.  Art done by me.

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Thieving a Plenty

It didn’t take Lü Meng long to catch up with the would be horse thief. Even if he had taken the time to to saddle Po and give chase, he knew that he wouldn’t get far, not on that horse. He almost wanted to spare a smile at the rotten luck of the thief but Zhou Yu had killed the humor within him. No, not a single shred of mirth or anything remotely positive could exist in a man so utterly ridiculed by Zhou Yu, he told himself as he followed after the thief on foot. No need to alert the rest for this.

As he expected, they didn’t get far, though he had to give credit to the man for managing to get this far. In spite of his foul mood, he could feel the corners of his mouth trying their damnedest to lift when he spotted the troublemaker’s futile struggle. The horse he decided to steal, a young grey stallion with white streaks throughout its mane, was by far the orneriest beast that had somehow acquired from Lord Yuan Shu. It refused any rider and had no reservation in letting others know as he thrashed and kicked when anyone came near. At most, if one was lucky or possessed quick enough reflexes, they could get the bite on the horse and manage a harness, but the moment someone walked around with a saddle or tried to lead the willful horse where it didn’t want to, it was all out war. Even Lü Meng had trouble with this one from time to time.

The thief somehow managed to slip a rope around its muzzle but it did him no good. Without the proper bite and reins, he could not get the horse to budge, and Lü Meng watched as he yanked and pulled on a horse that had not only dug its front hooves into the ground but say on its haunches, guaranteeing that he nor the man would be going anywhere. Not that it deterred the tattooed clad man in the least. He cursed, gripping the rope with strong fingers and his muscles bulging, adding to accent the colorful tattoos that decorated his armors and chest. Had Lü Meng been in a better mood, he might have taken the time to admire the artistry and dedication that went into them, but like the horse this man tried to ferry away, his mood was simply foul and his patience was greatly waning by the second.

“Come on, you stupid, stubborn, over-sized ass!” The thief snapped, throwing the rope over his shoulder and putting all of his weight into it now, leaning forward and nearly bumping his head on the officer’s chest. “Get moving, before I get REALLY mad!”

Had anyone besides Lü Meng or Ling Cao had come across the thief, they may have taken the time to mock him for his foolish decision, maybe explain that he could not think to get away with the horse. Maybe someone would have been diplomatic and worked out some kind of deal with him, or shown mercy and let him go. No doubt he seemed desperate and would sell the horse for gold. Unfortunately, the one to give chase was Lü Meng, and the moment he was within range, he was ready to put his new weapon to proper use. He gripped it closer to the blade for a more precise swing and though it did not hit his target, it forced the would-be thief to release the rope and surrender the horse. The action freed his hands, and it was then that Lü Meng realized the man’s true profession. Horse thief he may not be, but a down and dirty fighter, there could be absolutely no doubt!

“You got some nerve trying to sneak up on me like that!” His opponent was quick, far quicker than he was expecting, and once that curved sword of his nicked his shoulder pad, Lü Meng found himself falling back into a more comfortable state of mind. One-on-one fights, with someone he didn’t know was far more in his comfort zone than dealing with the political war that Zhou Yu had forced him to engage in and although he was fighting for his life, it was safer, more at home for him. And apparently, it must have down in his face or his form, as his enemy showered him with comments, even when he had to parry a strike aimed for his head. “You’re not too bad at this. I’ll give you that.”

What was Lü Meng suppose to do? Zhou Tai nor Sun Ce really ever complimented him during a bout (the former pirate didn’t really say anything to him at all) and this man, as pathetic as his attempt to steal the horse may have been, was an enemy. So, he said nothing and merely focused on the fight, trying not to get distracted by the jingling bells or the whirlpool of colorful and distracting tattoos, or those vibrant, crimson red eyes. A swing came for his head and he managed to block it, catching the hilt with the hook of his own weapon and twisted it around, forcing the weapon from his opponent’s hand in a single twist. If this were a spar, the fight would have been over, but the fool would learn a valuable lesson that day.

Never assume a disarmed opponent was helpless, and never assume that an opponent only carried one weapon on him. The jingle of the bells warned him of another strike. Lü Meng caught it coming from the left and just barely dodged, falling to a knee and watching the dagger zip over his head. And just like that, the fight only escalated from there and he found himself on a strict defensive, as the man revealed a second dagger.

He went for several areas, vital areas that would have put a quick end to the fight. Lü Meng was quick to guard those areas, either twisting around or barely moving the glaive and its hilt around in tight turns, never once realizing he was moving exactly where the thief turned warrior wanted him to go until his back hit a tree. With no where to go, he found himself pinned as a dagger dug into the cloth at his shoulder, successfully limiting the mobility of his swinging arm. Not a good position any warrior wanted to be in and the thief knew it! He snickered, catching the glaive with his foot and looking to plunge the other dagger into his opponent’s exposed neck, only to be stopped when the other caught his wrist and held it back.

The man clad in bells was strong, though thankfully not as strong as Zhou Tai. Those hours spent sparring with the former pirate likely saved himself from instant death, but it wasn’t from lack of trying on the thief’s part. He held him captive in this position, seeking to drive the blade closer and closer, merely needing the teeny tiny push forward, merely waiting for Lü Meng’s strength to give way for a split second. It was not a good predicament to be in but like hell he’d give up without a fight.

At least his opponent could see his fight and there was a gleam in those crimson eyes that almost seemed… admirable. “You ain’t bad, but you can’t beat me. Do you even know who I am?”

Lü Meng growled, answering truthfully and almost letting his arm slip. “No. Should I?”

He wasn’t sure how but he certainly left a wound on the man’s pride. His face scrunched into a rather black look and he released the dagger that pinned Lü Meng to the tree to add even more weight to his impending doom. In response, Lü Meng released his glaive and tried to counter, but it seemed futile. “Ha, well, let me tell you before I kill you. Name’s Gan Ning of the Bells, and you-”

He could say no more before his proclamation was drowned out by the angry wails of the horse. Lü Meng watched as the bulking grey stallion charged at the man named Gan Ning. Any man, whether decked head to toe in armor or sporting nothing but pants, boots and bells at his waist, move out of the way of a horse’s path when it charged and Gan Ning was no different. He released Lü Meng and sought to put distance between himself and the vexed beast, but to no avail!

Whereas most horses would have rushed forward and hold their ground once they spooked their opponent, this one went onto the attack. He kicked his muscular feet at Gan Ning and gnashed its teeth, longing to tear flesh should the man be foolish or unfortunate within its range. He swung his great head about, even using the rope as if it were a chained mace. Lü Meng had never seen a horse go on the offensive like that. Neither did Gan Ning, as he cursed and flailed about, doing anything he could think of to escape the horse’s wrath. Lü Meng found it hard to judge him for his panic, as he had seen far too many of his fellow officers take a beating at that particular horse’s hands (sort of) to judge any one man or woman harshly, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t enjoy a good laugh at the man’s expense.

Not that he did- adrenaline was one hell of a drug and considering how close the thief had come to driving a dagger into his neck and leaving his corpse for his lord or another to find as he made off with the horse, the most he could muster was a crooked grin. Now that his life was out of danger for a moment, he pulled the dagger from the tree and freed himself from the dagger’s grip. He stalked towards the man and the ballistic horse, pondering if he should have simply stood by and let him try his luck with the horse on his own. It would have served him right. He deserved to have his hand lopped clean off and be sent on his way, but Lü Meng wouldn’t be the one to exact such a punishment. If anyone could have the authority for such action, it’d be Sun Ce. It was one of his horses he tried to steal, after all…

If any were to handle the matter, let it be his lord. Lü Meng thought on the matter for a moment more before stepping in, making sure he announced himself for the horse’s sake, as well as his own as to not startle it with a sudden approach and thus turn its rage onto him. “Alright, settle down. He’s not going to hurt you.”

“Like hell! That thing’s looking for blood!”

Gan Ning may have been ducking and dodging, avoiding teeth and hooves, but there was little fear in his voice. Only anger, and Lü Meng snapped at him. “I wasn’t talking to you, I was talking to the horse.”

Eventually the man lost his footing and went down in a heap of swears and jingling bells, and before the stallion could crush him, Lü Meng stepped in, grabbing the ropes that still dangled from its muzzle and called to the horse once more, pitching his voice low and calm, hoping to spread that soothing aura onto the rightly justified horse. “There, there, enough. He can’t possibly hurt you. Now settle down.”

The horse offered some resistance but not much, taking a liking to Lü Meng’s voice and ceasing its wild bucking. He grunted and snorted, flaring his nostrils, sparing the fallen thief from his trampling hooves but not its watchful gaze. He pinned the thief with the ferocity of his stare alone, accepting the gentle strokes from Lü Meng though had he released the ropes, both were certain that he’d charge him again. As humorous as that may have been, Lü Meng had his fair share of ‘fun’ for this evening.

As did Gan Ning, it seemed, as he merely sat on his rear and made no effort to either collect his belongings to fight or flee. If Lü Meng was expecting an apology or show of gratitude, then he’d be leaving empty handed, as it was clear that there’d be none forthcoming. Oh, he looked the part of a child that didn’t get what he wanted and his sneer rivaled that of his nephew when he was in the middle of a tantrum. “Fine. Keep the stupid thing. Ain’t going to get much for something as wild and unruly as that anyways.”

“Wild and unruly he may be, but he’s not yours,” Lü Meng said with a sternness that he was sometimes forced to use on his nephew and niece from time to time. To have to use it on a grown man… how embarrassing! Still, to hear that he would have sold the horse made him ponder and despite his foul mood, he could not silence his curious mind. “What were you going to do with the gold anyway? Food? Clothing? Supporting your family?”

Gan Ning spat, looking to be trying to push himself back up but a grunt from the horse kept him seated for awhile more. “As if anything so noble.”

Lü Meng took a wild guess. “Wine?”

Now that brought out a smile and his honesty hardly surprised him now. “Yep. And maybe food. Gotta eat.”

“Then why not steal those too? You’re willing to risk your life for a horse, why not steal wine and food, things that can’t physically fight back?”

It was perhaps the dumbest question he could ask but what else was he good for? Gan Ning’s eyes narrowed but whatever sarcastic remark he had on his mind would remain a mystery. He said nothing on that matter and seemed eager to draw an end to this encounter. “Heh, like you’d understand, what with your life of luxury and soldiering ways. So, you going to kill me now or what? Because if you want me to beg, it ain’t gonna happen.”

The remark struck deep, but if there could be any good that came from his suffering at Zhou Yu’s hands earlier in the day was that his wounds had no scabbed over and left it calloused, protecting the raw nerves beneath it. He gave the stallion another comforting pat on the neck before turning his attention to the man entirely. All reason and logic told him to kill this Gan Ning of the Bells, but he didn’t raise his glaive against the man. He may have acted tough and he may have been a thief, but he seemed honest and desperate. And it was that desperation that he tried to hide behind snide remarks and gruffness that cried out to Lü Meng. Was he not so desperate once? Was that not why he found himself in Sun Ce’s army at all?

No weapon dropped onto Gan Ning, but gold instead, and he half-wondered if he was suppose to feel some measure of amusement at the man’s confound expression. Wouldn’t enjoying that put him on par with Zhou Yu? He fought down the feeling as he pointed to the woods that stretched away from their camp. “Here… that should be enough. But if you really want to get more, you should find a more honest profession.”

“... Are you stupid?”

He almost regretted giving him what little gold he did, and he replied with a rather intimidating glower. “Would stupid release this rope and allow this horse to crush you into ground meat?”

And the way Lü Meng slacked on the rope made the man scoop up the gold that was thrown at him and bite his lip to silence any smart ass remark that begged to escape those lips. Yes, it was rather satisfying to see another so as he was told, even if it did put him in the same crowd as Zhou Yu, and he kept a careful eye on the man as he gathered his weapons and stalked towards the woods. Before he vanished into the dense trees, however, he paused and looked back at him. Lü Meng said nothing, waiting for him to speak or perhaps jump on to the attack again to get the rest of the gold that was stashed in his breast plate. But neither came. Without uttering a word, the man decked in intricate tattoos and bells looked him over and battle-hardened face broke into the strangest smile that Lü Meng ever seen. It wasn’t kind like Sun Ce’s, nor was it mocking like Zhou Yu’s. It rattled him to his very core, and just like that, Gan Ning of the Bells was gone, leaving behind a disgruntled grey stallion and a victorious but confused Lü Meng.

“Now what the hell was that look about?”



It was not Gan Ning’s intentions to make quite as big of a mess as he did and he wasn’t sure how it had escalated that quickly, but two things were for certain. He wasn’t going to pay for the broken cups and pots, nor would he clean the mess.

Those near his ‘chambers’ head the foreboding sound and knew to steer clear, lest they desired to be made an example of. None dared get near Gan Ning when he took to the drink and even here in Jing Province, they had learned to be weary of the former pirate.

And he was perfectly okay with this. Sure it would mean having to serve himself, but what man could even call himself a man if he didn’t help himself first? He was no lofty, long-nailed pasty white noble who needed his wine served to him in a jade chalice. He didn’t need someone to wait on him, or feed him. He was not a pampered kitten in need of them anyway. He could damn well help himself and he did. And he made damn sure that he did it all within Lü Meng’s damned ‘rules’, all so that he could rub it all in the man’s face.

Assuming there’d be enough of a face left from digging into scrolls and snooping around like a damned hellhound. A bloodthirsty, overbearing, holier than thou hellhound with saggy wrinkles like a shar pei that cared more about keeping up ‘good relations’ with the locals than in taking care of himself, or caring about his-

Someone was calling for him and the former pirate was ready. He had excuses planned and ready, and honestly he hoped it was Lü Meng. He couldn’t wait to see the look on his grumpy old face. He couldn’t wait to see just how worse it’d get when he explained that these broken bowls were purchased with the esteemed Chief-Commander’s gold and how he could not dare to think to punish him. Then maybe he’d talk to him and get through to him.

Or Gan Ning would have found himself roaming the afterlife without a head…

To his dismay, the one to find him wasn’t Lü Meng at all, but another. Someone he wanted to see even -less- of… or more? He was too drunk to have figured that out. “Oh, it’s just you.”

“Nice to see you too, jerk,” said Ling Tong, not at all sparing him a sharp look and he didn’t even look at the mess he made. He looked ready to argue, but it seemed that whatever he came to tell him was simply too great for them to exchange their usual pleasantries. Gan Ning may have been drink and spiteful, but even he could see how urgent his voice seemed. “We got a situation and you’re needed, immediately.”

Gan Ning let loose a sigh and flopped down on the cushions with a jingle and his stance was really easy to read. “And here I am, sloshed beyond hope. What a pity… who needs me and who do I get to fight?”

Ling Tong glanced around the room, only now noticing the mess, though it didn’t distract him for long. “It’s… complicated. Not sure if it’s going to resort to fighting. But you need to come with me. Orders are orders, you know.”

This did not intrigue the former pirate in the least. He hated complicated things and he hated pesky things like ‘orders’ too. Especially since it meant it probably came from him. No, he had no interest in going and he waved the younger officer off. “No fight, then no need for me. Go on.”

He seldom got tired of this game. He’d bide his time until ‘you-know-who’ came to confront him in person, then maybe he’d move. For now, he merely fell onto his back and rolled to the side, showing his back to Ling Tong and letting him know what he’d have to try a little harder to get him moving.

And Ling Tong, bless his conflicted little heart, fell right into the trap. He snapped, and quite viciously too. “I’m serious, Gan Ning!” You really need to move your ass!”

“Who gave the order?” Gan Ning kept his back turned. He tried to imagine how angry he’d look and while it held its own special place in his heart, it hardly compared to Lü Meng’s. Then again, very few did. “And what’s so complicated about it?”

“Lu Xun gave the order, and does it matter? It’s bad… I think.”

Now this only further cemented his position on the cushions and he let it be known with a snicker. “Ha! That little imp? Wrong answer. When the order comes from either Lord Quan or our ‘esteemed Chief-Commander’, then maybe I’ll move.” He added with a snort and sounded as though he were beginning to drift to sleep. “Maybe.”

Ling Tong was full of surprises and now was no different. He could hear him approaching but his reflexes were dulled by the gratuitous amounts of wine consumed, as Ling Tong was upon him. He pulled him where he would lay on his back and force him to look at him now. His words and the depth of the dread that underscored his angered words allowed the former pirate to have a hint of just how dire the situation truly was. “Our ‘esteemed Chief-Commander’ is in danger, Gan Ning!”

Lightning flared across the sky as the rain picked up again, almost as though even the weather wanted to help get through to Gan Ning. He could only stare at Ling Tong, so many emotions beginning to swirl within him that they all seemed to merge in within each other and made it impossible to pinpoint a single one when Gan Ning finally croaked. “What?”


“Do we need to rest for a moment?”
It was Zuo Ci that lured Lü Meng away from the visions, and the lightning strikes left him blinded much longer than he would have liked. This time he couldn’t refrain from letting out a gasp and pressing his fingers to the bridge of his nose and forehead, meaning to block the offending light as well as dull the pain that racked in his head. It was like someone was throwing a mace against the walls of his skull!

“No, no, it’s alright,” Lü Meng said, speaking only when he was certain a groan wouldn’t sneak into his voice. Little by little, the pain ebbed into a more manageable throb. He lowered his hand slowly, resting it against his knee and gripping it, though… not as tightly as before. “I notice a lack of genuine concern in your voice, though. I have a feeling you’re causing these sudden headaches, mystic.”

“Always so suspicious and so quick to assume the worst in others.” Zuo Ci shook his head and his voice held only a shred of ‘pity’. Lü Meng didn’t believe it for a second. “Zhou Yu bred that into you, did he not?”

Lü Meng shrugged. “Perhaps, but I think it was for good reason. He’s right, after all.”

“You truly think so?”

“Would I be saying it if I didn’t? You have me here. You know I cannot lie in here.” The headache subsided but Lü Meng remained on edge. He noted how the mystic had deflected his accusation and he merely kept his own deck hidden for now. He didn’t need Zuo Ci to inform him of what he already knew to be true. “As harsh as his methods were when he started out, he was preparing me for the real warfare. The one that hides behind the battlefield and is far more dangerous than any blade or man that wielded said weapon.”


“Exactly. I didn’t understand at the time, nor would I for an embarrassingly long time later. He was training me, preparing me, because he had the foresight to know that would be pulled into it eventually.”

Zuo Ci seemed perplexed. He asked, “I see, but you sound so certain? Was he truly acting in your best interests or are you merely making excuses for him now that you’ve come to respect him?”

“You saw what I just saw, right?” Lü Meng flexed his fingers and focused on making himself comfortable. His toes were beginning to fall asleep. “He had a cold and calculating looking in his eyes, but he was coaching, as well as antagonizing. At the time, he thought it was the only way to get through to me.”

“A peculiar method, I’ll admit… assuming it’s true. I see a jealous man who clearly knows what he can get away with and how to do it.”

Zuo Ci remained unconvinced, but Lü Meng refrained from raising his voice as he shook his head from side to side. “Then you’re looking at it through the lens of a foolish and guileless young man that had no idea how the world worked. He taught me much even before he and Master Lu Su took me in as their student. I only regret that I ignored those lessons for as long as I did.”

“You are indeed strange, Lü Meng.”

“Or changed. I like to think of it like that.”

“Oh yes, and changed you did.” At least they found something to agree on, but Lü Meng was certain that he was merely preparing to gather more dirt to sling at him. “However, I ponder, if that change was natural or a manipulation from those around you. How splendidly they must have worked if you think of them as beneficial to you.”

Lü Meng shook his head. Would this old man ever talk straight? Of course not. “Change isn’t natural. To suggest such is foolishness. And if you suspect that Zhou Yu manipulated me, then you may as well start accusing others of that supposed crime too, while you’re here. People influence one another, some more than others, and for good and for ill. So long as that influence is to bring out one’s true potential and to do good, should it matter?”

Zuo Ci took a moment to soak in Lü Meng’s words, likely looking for a way to twist them around to suit his own need but Lü Meng was prepared. The mystic may have given the appearance of a man who held an open mind, but he knew better. He was a man on a mission, and Lü Meng was certain he would have little luck in deterring him from his mission just as Zuo Ci would have little luck dissuading him from his own. Finally, Zuo Ci found his voice again and though steadfast and courageous, even Lü Meng was put off by the ocean deep laughter that emanated from the mystic’s chest. It may not have terrified him, but it certainly put him on edge. He waited as patiently as he could for Zuo Ci to have his fill so that they could carry on with this ‘trial’, and yet when it finally did, Lü Meng couldn’t combat the chill that show down his spine as well as the dull ache in his chest from a reopened wound that was once healed, or so he thought. “Zhou Yu and this Lu Su, they trained you well, I see. Though, trained may be the incorrect term. More like… tamed, because you were naught but a wild beast before.”

“A beast, you say?” Lü Meng chewed on the word and gave it a taste, and he determined he didn’t like it.

“Indeed. Your actions against your lord’s enemies is all the proof I need. Loyal, yes, but blindingly so. You were told by others that your lord had every right to the Wu territories, but what proof did he actually have? Did you ever set eyes upon this proof? Have you ever once questioned this supposed proof?” Zuo Ci was on the verbal offensive and he left no opening. Lü Meng had tried to interrupt but the mystic parried the words before they could even leave his mouth. “No, you never did. You never questioned Sun Ce’s actions nor his orders. You obeyed. You waited for orders, you only wished to fight. Someone else would point you in the direction of your enemies and you’d only react, lash out, never once stopping to consider how you were assisting your lord in the theft of another’s home and their lives.”

Lü Meng bristled and his shoulders tensed, but he could say nothing, as he didn’t trust himself not to fall into Zuo Ci’s trap. Oh, he knew it was a trap. Like Zhou Yu, he was jabbing and poking him, looking for a reaction, like prodding up a tiger trapped in a cage. That cage was getting smaller by the second. Those sticks, sharper, becoming swords.

“You were nothing more than an animal during your lord’s invasion of the Wu territories, baring your teeth, striking down others with claws, too busy wanting to appease your bloodlust and your master to hear their cries of protest. What did they matter to you? Like an animal, you saw the world in only black and white. If they stood at the pointed end of your glaive, they were your enemy and needed only to be struck down. If they stood besides you, then they were your ally, but then, were they really?”

“We did not fight everyone,” Lü Meng said, somehow managing to not only get a word in during his tirade, but keeping the anger from his gruff voice. An amazing feat considering the man’s accusations. “Many joined us willingly. Jiang Qin, Dong Xi, Lord Qiao and his daughters. Those that didn’t fight also welcomed us as well.”

“Yes, but why?”

“Because they honored Sun Ce’s claim and his charisma drew them in.”

“Or because they did not wish to invoke the wrath of a man who would earn the title of the Little Conqueror, though of course that never crossed your mind, not at all.” And yet, Zuo Ci had a perfect counter. He was beginning to hate this man. “Not loyal, mindless, beastly you. You never questioned why so many flocked to Sun Ce’s side, so soon after he had defeated the likes of Kong Rong and Taishi Ci.”

Now Lü Meng fought down the impulse to sneer, as the very name of the warrior struck him hard, slamming his heart like a spiked whip and once one of the thorns caught, it coiled around it like a snake that had found the perfect prey. Lü Meng tried to hide such a reaction, but all Zuo Ci needed was to see that look in his eyes to know that he had struck him deep. “Yes, Taishi Ci. That name brings you much turmoil, and I cannot help but wonder why.”

There was no point in denying the mystic’s observation, but he was not eager to discuss the matter in the least. Not yet. Not ever, if he could help it. “Now, you’re getting ahead of yourself, aren’t you? He haven’t even reclaimed our own homes yet. Far too early to try and dig at that wound.”

“Quite true. I will enjoy that story, but in its time. For now, perhaps I shall poke at… other wounds. Though your lord emerged victorious in ‘reclaiming’ his home, it came at a cost, did it not?”

Lü Meng’s sigh was heavy. Some relief, mixed with annoyance fueled it. Spared, and yet thrown into another frying pan. “As does everything. Whatever I lost is not enough to sully what we had gained, not even in the slightest.”

“So cold and practical, something that only reflects the efforts of Zhou Yu taming you. Did he tell you that, or was it something you learned later in your career, as a way of coping with such heavy losses?”

He knew who he was talking about, but he’d be damned if he’d give the man anymore satisfaction than he already had taken from this ordeal. There was some snark in his voice though it was all a cover and he suspected that Zuo Ci would see right through the smokescreen with ease, but that didn’t make him try any less. “I don’t know. You’re going to find out anyways, right? See for yourself.”

“I had every intention.”
A River's Final Meandering -- Chapter Ten
Chapter 01:…
Chapter 02:…
Chapter 03:…
Chapter 04:…
Chapter 05:…
Chapter 06:…
Chapter 07:…
Chapter 08:…
Chapter 09:…

DISCLAIMER: This is a piece of fiction, inspired by the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms and the video game series Shin Sangokumusou | Dynasty Warriors. Names of individuals that I could not find their names either through the Koei Warriors Wiki or Kongming Archives are given false names and (hopefully) bare no resemblance to any other persons or characters, either living or dead.


In which Lü Meng confronts a terrible horse thief and Gan Ning throws a tantrum...


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Gift Horse and Zhou Yu's Test

The benefit of Sun Ce’s decision to break off from Yuan Shu was that Lü Meng, and everyone else for that matter, were too busy to dwell on such paltry matters like discovering one of his lord’s key officers and trusted advisers despised him. The news came so sudden and yet, not many complained. If anything, it seemed to garner the opposite reaction. Everyone involved were quick to offer their assistance in the transition. Soldiers and their families worked around the clock to prepare, packing valuables, constructing carriages, whatever was available. It was a kind of organized chaos, Ling Cao had told Lü Meng, but he wasn’t quite sure he comprehended the phrase and simply took it for what it was worth, choosing to dive into work and busy his body instead of his head. He was just a soldier, nothing more. Leave the thinking to someone else.

It was strange, though, to work so far away from his lord, but at least he was with familiar company. Ling Cao was quick to put him to work and keep a curious and talkative Ling Tong out from beneath his feet. They were assigned to watch over the carriages during the exodus to Wujun, a task that others may have balked at but not Lü Meng. Guarding people, multiple people, was something he was meant to do, he figured. And like protecting his lord, he’d dedicate the same devotion to not only his family but Lord Sun Ce’s and the rest. It was something he was good at. Something he was comfortable with. Something he couldn’t possibly screw up and that add more kind to Zhou Yu’s fire.

‘Don’t think about him. Just don’t think at all.’

“You look like a rain cloud ready to unleash a monsoon.” Ling Cao’s comment caused his attention snap away from his thoughts and look to the man he walked beside. What he saw was the side of the horse’s face that Ling Cao rode upon and he brought his gaze upwards, stroking the horse’s muscular neck in hopes of grounding him back into the present since his mind apparently longed to wander. Not a good trait for a guard at all. He must have given Ling Cao a blank look as his expression softened and he rephrased his statement. “You look angry. What on your mind?”

“Nothing,” Lü Meng said, his tone flat and eager to retreat into silence once more. Days passed since he and Shi Ran eavesdropped on his Lord and Zhou Yu- did he really have time to be dwelling on that now? “Nothing’s on my mind.”

“You’re not a good liar, are you?”

It would figure he’d see right through him and if anything his expression soured. “Just thinking.”


Lü Meng couldn’t stop the huff that escaped his head and not once did he consider how his actions may have been considered rude. “Stuff. Just stuff.”

It would not be enough to placate Ling Cao’s curiosity, but it would be all he’d get out of him. He was determined to resist any more efforts unless it was followed by an order. Grumpy as he was, he couldn’t afford to disobey an order. He pondered if the veteran knew that. He was content to keep addressing him as a friend for awhile longer, it seemed, as his patience, nor his questions, never wavered. “How do you feel about leaving Runan entirely?”

Truth be told, he never gave the matter any thought. It had been five years since he left the village of Fupo and made his stay with Lord Sun Ce and his men, a long time for a teen at the time but so brief in the grand scale of time. Yuan Shu’s district wasn’t so much a home, but the people within it. Thus far, everyone he had come to know was leaving with them, so what was there left in Runan to miss? He answered truthfully. “No. Most here never seemed to consider this their home anyways as they’re from Wujun and Jiangdong. We’re not wanted or needed here anyways.”

“How did you figure that?”

Lü Meng shrugged, confessing with ease before Ling Cao could mistake him for clever. “Just heard it from others as we were preparing to leave. Lord Sun Ce and his men were wasting under Yuan Shu’s command but he’s not willing to risk harming his people in a direct fight. So, we leave and return home.”

Though he sat elevated near him on his stead, Ling Cao did not so much look down on him as others might have for his honesty, and that was a blessing for the former bodyguard at least. “Regardless of where or who to heard it from, that’s a good way of thinking about it. Sometimes it’s for the best not to think too hard on certain matters.”

“I’m not really known for thinking hard, so that should be easy.”

He wasn't even sure why he said it, but at least Ling Cao’s laughter lifted his spirits in a strange way. “No, maybe not, but you are still young and have plenty of time to learn your duties. For now, focus on the task at hand and it’ll all work out for the best.”

It was a well desired relief to know that Ling Cao wouldn’t enforce ridiculous expectations on him all at once. He wanted to keep it simple for as long as possible, but now that Ling Cao got him talking, he could feel all sorts of questions beginning to nag at him. Best get them out now while the journey was peaceful and there were no roaming Zhou Yu about to mock him for his ignorance. “Sir, can I ask a question?”

“Of course.”

“Does our lord expect trouble along the way?”

Ling Cao looked him over and his expression was hard to make out, despite his keen features thanks to his battle scars. “Why do you think so?”

“Because…” Suddenly, all courage left him and he found his voice fading into a whisper. A guardsman shouldn’t ask so many questions. “I don’t know. Forget I said anything.”

And yet, Ling Cao’s paternal instincts kicked him and he urged him on, like a parent nudging its fledgling off the branch. “No, no, speak your mind, Lü Meng. Our lord encouraged it, did he not?”

He regretted saying anything, but seeing it encouraged so only pushed the floodgates open. He had a feeling Ling Cao would not let him back down now. At least Zhou Yu wasn’t there to sneer in his direction and he chose to take some solace in the fact that Ling Cao wouldn’t take up that habit. He hoped. “I’m just curious as to why there are so many who are traveling armed, or why Lord Sun Ce purchased soldiers instead of carpenters or more supplies for the journey. Is he expecting trouble?”

“That’s something else you picked up from our charges while they packed?”

“Most of it is, but some of it’s me own.”

He wasn’t ashamed to admit to either- he may have heard Yenji or someone else mention it while he was moving from one carriage to the next, but it lingered in his mind and stirred his own brain into action. His answer pleased Ling Cao and his answer was blunt but nothing short of honest. “These are turbulent times and it’s best to expect trouble. We could be attacked along the way by bandits, and once we get to Jiangdong and the Wu territories, pirates could start becoming a problem.”


“Yes, with all the rivers and such. Pirates will become more common the further east we go, but I wouldn’t worry too much about them. Some can be talked down or employed, like Zhou Tai. And those that can’t? They’re nothing we can’t handle.”

Lü Meng wasn’t a complete idiot. He knew what a pirate was. He simply never thought he’d see one in his life, and yet, he was apparently moving to a district where they were apparently common. Then again, he could not have predicted a lot of where his life had led him or where it would take him, and it all required too much thought. “They’re just bandits on boats, right? I can handle them.”

“That’s the spirit, Lü Meng. Show no mercy or fear, and keep on looking ahead. Once they catch wind of any valuables we’re carrying, they’ll come sniffing, and it’ll be up to us warrior to send them fleeing with their tails between their legs.”

Oh to that Lü Meng had no doubt! Ling Cao’s confidence in the matter quelled any fear he might have harbored for the incoming threat, but there was still something else that bothered him. “Will that be all, though? Pirates and bandits?”

“One would hope, but not, it’s likely that we will be met with some resistance from those who make their stay there now.”

“But I don’t understand. I thought Lord Sun Ce had claims to those territories…” Lü Meng knew he was being foolish and he wanted nothing more than to just shut up and look ahead, like Ling Cao encouraged him to. But Sun Ce had expected him to question when he had doubt, and didn’t his lord’s orders outrank that of Ling Cao’s? “Why would anyone try to resist his return to Jiangdong?”

Now, any humor that Ling Cao’s battle-hardened face carried faded away, but Lü Meng felt no fear when looking upon him. Instead of mirth or smug confidence that he displayed on the topic of pirates, he seemed more reserved, but in a respectful way, as he spoke of the possible threat that waited for them in Jiangdong and the Wu territories. It was all very confusing for Lü Meng… “Because they may not honor the proof that our lord or Zhou Yu will present them. Because many of them have found success there and do not see themselves being allowed to keep all that they have gained if the Sun family and their army return to their rightful place. Or, simply put, because they are fools who do not wish to allow any to tell them what to do and seek to defy any authority that is not their own. Take your pick.”

It baffled him that there would exist so many reasons that they’d fight. He himself had ‘enlisted’ to gain fortune for his family and had obtained it in his own way, and yet, he still found himself picking up his spear every day. Thus was the life he made for himself and at least now he could be put to good use. Five years and all he had done was train and be pulled into small skirmishes. Would real battle await them for their homecoming or would they simply be for show?

The sounds of hoof beats approaching lured him from his thoughts and he couldn’t hold down his grin when he spotted Deng Dang among the regiment that now rode alongside them. Deng Dang returned the smile, as he pulled up next to him, accompanied by a man that Lü Meng could hardly bring himself to look at without feeling overwhelmed with what he suspected to be gratitude. Fa Shi! Had he ever thanked him for that night? “Captain, glad to see you would make it.” Ling Cao called out, throwing a respectful bow his way. “I hope Lord Yuan Shu handled your transfer well?”

“Bah, my loyalties never really were with him,” Deng Dang said, returning the bow before turning his rather gleeful gaze onto his brother-in-law. “How Lü Meng doing? Not giving you too much trouble, is he?”

“None whatsoever. Asking questions.”

“Good, that means he’s ought to learn something.”

Now Lü Meng found himself fighting down a growl. He was right there! Before his face could break into a scowl, though, Deng Dang was on him, nothing but smiles and motioning to Fa Shi. “Don’t get cross, Meng. I’m only teasing, but you never handled that too well. Congratulations on your promotion, brother.”

“Thank you,” Lü Meng managed to say. Whatever anger he felt brewing in his gut dissipated in lieu of Deng Dang’s genuine cheer. There was never any doubt that Deng Dang and his regiment wouldn’t follow Lord Sun Ce (the storm that Yenji would have cried would have threatened to flood not only her own carriage but every other carriage under their care), but it was still great to see him nevertheless. He really didn’t see his brother-in-law all that much, now that he thought about it… “I hope to do our lord proud.”

Deng Dang’s laugh was gruff and throaty, but filled with mirth, and now it was impossible not to smile. Fa Shi passed over something long and draped in cloth to Deng Dang and the youth would not have to question its contents for long as it was suddenly handed over to him. “I’m sure you will. Now, accept this gift from your proud brother-in-law and his officers. May it serve your well in your future endeavors.”

“A gift…?” Lü Meng had almost stopped his march but managed to keep his pace. He truly wasn’t expecting this! He tucked his spear under his arm to grab the object being handed to him. It was a weapon; even a dunce like him could tell that much and his excitement and curiosity overwhelmed and routed his confusions. He pulled the sheet back, revealing the most magnificent glaive he had ever set his eyes on. Truthfully, it was rather simplistic in appearance, but it was -his- glaive, and Deng Dang took advantage of his silence to explain each of its features, as though he were attempting to sell him the weapon itself!

“It’s a standard glaive, similar to the pikes you see the mounted officers wield. This blade here, see how it sticks out?” He pointed to the hook. “That’s to dig dig into armor or flesh of a mounted enemy and pull them off their horse. This part of the blade is for wide sweeps to swipe at the horse’s legs and officers, in case you’re surrounded. The part at the end is the sharpest, like a spear point, so you can jab it forward and put a quick end to your opponent once you dismount them.”

“It’s heavier than my spear…” Lü Meng observed, not thinking about it and hoping it didn’t sound like a complaint. No, he was just stating the obvious and admiring the glaive that his brother-in-law gave him. He felt like a fool. All of that lengthy explanation and all he could say was ‘it’s heavy’.

“Right, but with reason. You’ll need the weight to hold the weight of your opponent when you throw them down. It’s also sturdier and won’t snap in half like a spear would.”

Fa Shi snickered, breaking what Lü Meng feared was a five year silence and yet never hearing him sound so open and free. Even if it came out as a tease, Lü Meng didn’t really mind it so much now, as the mirth he heard put his conscious at ease. “Which will make the weapon smith happy. We’ve had so few fights and yet leave it to Lü Meng to wreck more than his fair share.”

“I won’t break this one, though!” Lü Meng would cherish it, clean it every day. He wanted to know how Deng Dang came to find such a fine weapon or how much it cost, but he knew better. Lord Sun Ce himself taught him that lesson many moons ago- something about not looking a horse in the mouth? He wasn’t keen on exactly what the wording was and why it involved not looking into a horse’s mouth, but he understood the message well enough. Don’t be ungrateful. Don’t question where it came from. He thought. “I’ll treat it with care, brother. Fa Shi.”

“Just don’t be afraid to bloody it. It’s a weapon, after all, not just for decoration.” Despite his warning, Deng Dang flashed him an appreciative smile. “Once we’re settled in our new home, I’ll show you some of the more extensive tricks with it and how to use it when mounted. But I know you- you’ll probably obsess over it and master it in no time at all.”

“I… Thank you,” Lü Meng said, grasping his glaive close and hoping that he did not look too much the part of a blubbering fool. If he did, then he’d take comfort that only these men here would be the only witnesses and whatever pride that he had would remain intact for awhile. “I’ll treat it well and put it to good use. I promise!”

“Good lad. Take good care of him, Ling Cao. He may be a troublemaker, but you’ll seldom find anyone more dedicated to his work.” Satisfied, Deng Dang gave his young brother-in-law a pat on the shoulder. It was brief, but a welcomed display of affection between the two, one that he knew Deng Dang to be relieved to show after so long of holding it all in for appearances. Without Yu Mao or others that feared he’s favor him, he was free to express the care he held for his brother-in-law and his family and Lü Meng welcomed it, even if it could only be small instances like this. He savored the feeling… since he knew that once it came time to make promise on practicing with the glaive, Deng Dang, or Fa Shi, whichever one that would help him, would not go easy on him later, and he would have to remember those good feelings for later, he told himself.


Lü Meng knew that he’d have the time to put his training to good use. He simply wasn’t expecting it to be quite so soon. Before night even fell upon them on the first leg of their journey, Lord Zhou Yu had returned and relayed what information he had gathered throughout Jiangdong and the Wu territories beyond it, confirming exactly what Ling Cao and Sun Ce had suspected. Those who lived there now were not willing to step aside and the prospect of an assault seemed inevitable. Some said assault, others proclaimed invasion. Lü Meng wasn’t sure how he felt, nor did he really care. As far as he was concerned, he’d just wait for orders and be given a direction to go fight. Let others busy their heads with all that complicated nonsense. He was here for fight, nothing more, nothing less.

His new weapon gave him a perfect outlet and his training with Fa Shi and Shi Ran offered a great distraction as his lord discussed their plans with his generals and advisers. The new distribution of weight hardly bothered him. He always had a stronger swing than what was appropriate for a spear, so it was almost a welcome blessing to swing something sturdy. What he had trouble getting used to was trying to pull off a mounted officer. Try as he might, there was always something off about the angle and with each pass he’d only managed to nick Fa Shi’s armor or miss entirely, and after several passes, he was feeling frustration beginning to nip at his waning patience.

“Again.” Fa Shi called out, never once sounding annoyed or impatient, and that didn’t help him. He should have been just as frustrated as him and yet he hardly seemed bothered at all! He waited until Lü Meng was in position before he reared his horse around and charged at him again. This time, as he drew close, Fa Shi let out a scream and the action put the young officer on edge, causing him to swing upwards at a different arc. This time, the hook of the glaive slashed the reins and forced it from the rider’s hands, but its rider never left the saddle, and Lü Meng cursed so much that he was breathless by the end of his tirade.

It was around this time that Zhou Yu decided to step in, and he would never understand the look that Shi Ran gave him from where he watched from the nearby carriage. “Watch your volume, Lü Meng. Unless you want to lure the attention of every bandit, pirate and wild animal in the province upon us.”

The look Shi Ran gave him was a cocktail of horror and scorn and it was most curious, but his attention did not linger on him for long. Lü Meng would not allow for it, as he worked on calming himself down. “No, sir. It’s not what I want.”

And oh what anger he held in that voice of his! Zhou Yu swore he could peel paint with the heat of that response and he pondered if all of it came from the training session. It sounded deeper than that, but perhaps he was looking too deep into the matter. It was so hard not to want to look at all the finer details. Fa Shi turned his horse around and bowed from atop his stead, addressing Zhou Yu as to give Lü Meng time to collect himself. “We’re sorry, Lord Zhou Yu. Lü Meng’s always been passionate about his training. We’ll call it a night if you fear it will put us in a precarious situation.”

“No, not at all. Perhaps if I could be of some assistance?”

From this angle, Fa Shi could not see how Lü Meng shook his head and he was forced to bite his lip to stop himself from cursing when Fa Shi accepted the offer. Damn him! “Of course! Would you like my horse, sir?”

“In a moment. Allow me to speak with Lü Meng first.”

No, Lü Meng didn’t want to speak with Zhou Yu, but what choice did he have? Fa Shi was clueless to the tension that existed between the two, but not Shi Ran. As Fa Shi dismounted, the dark-haired youth leaned over to Lü Meng and whispered over his shoulder. “I can try and talk him down if you want?”

Want? Yes. He knew that Zhou Yu would provoke him, even with Sun Ce’s demands to back off, and he wanted nothing to do with the matter. But he couldn’t back away from this, not without being insubordinate or making Zhou Yu suspicious. Before he could even find words to turn down Shi Ran’s offer, Zhou Yu was upon them and by the way the younger of the two stiffened, he could only wonder what cocky expression his new, charming tormentor wore. “Shi Ran, would you mind if I spoke with Lü Meng alone?”

“O-of course not, Lord Zhou Yu! I’ll just be over here… near the carriages where it’s safe. Call me if you two need me!”

Before he managed to retreat, though, Lü Meng took some solace in his silent apology. It was short lived. This would mean he’d be alone with Zhou Yu and he only had his own temper and flimsy control to rely on. Fa Shi was close by, though, he told himself. Fa Shi would stop him this time.

“It’s considered rude to not look at your fellow officers, Lü Meng. You may want to be careful with that, as some officers might take offense to that.”

It was certainly more words than Yu Mao would have used but it had the same effect, invoking a deep, guttural resentment within Lü Meng that he hoped wouldn’t bubble to the surface and show in his eyes when he looked at him. At least with Zhou Yu he found himself looking down and didn’t feel so terribly small as he did with Yu Mao prior. He was surprised to see his polite smile despite the edge in his voice. Not so surprising was the smugness that glistened in those deep brown eyes, as he addressed him. “That’s better. Now, your stance is accurate, but you’re intentionally holding back. May I ask why?”

He hoped to quell some of his flames by the time he spoke, lest he spit them out and set his lord’s friend alight that night. “I don’t think I’m holding back.”

“You are. I see it in your face. Every time Lieutenant Fa Shi makes a pass, you lock up and your response is too late to get the hook of the blade in.” There was no anger in his voice, but its tone wasn’t welcoming either. Zhou Yu had to expect his distrust in him and had the nerve to try and address him as though he genuinely wanted to see him succeed. It made him fume. “So, I ask again. Why do you hold back?”

He swore he could feel flames escaping his nostrils and tried to turn his head away without breaking eye contact. He wanted to burn this man but he was too low on the ladder to get away with it, he reminded himself, as he replied in earnest. “Because what if I hurt him? Or the horse?”

Zhou Yu said nothing as Fa Shi let out a low chuckle. “I wouldn’t worry about this one here. Po here has thick skin and I doubt anything will get through it these days.”

The horse flared its nostrils and nipped at Lü Meng’s turban, as though trying to soothe his worries in its own way. In spite of his foul mood, he could not resist the urge to shower the horse with affection, scratching the horse’s muzzle and finding some comfort to cling to, even when Zhou Yu stole it away. He grabbed the reins from Fa Shi and within seconds he was mounted atop the saddle, speaking as though he could not see the confusion that accented the young officer’s features. “Very well. I’ll give you someone you despise to practice with. Get ready for my pass, Lü Meng.”

He began to pull the horse around as Lü Meng found himself sputtering words, somehow managing to stop him in his tracks. “But, sir, I don’t-”

“Now Lü Meng, I was told by others you are an honest, if not brusque, man. Now is a horrible time to pick up on lying.” Zhou Yu wore a grin that would make any alligator envious and Lü Meng could bring himself to look up at the man before he pulled Po around and trotted to his position, calling to him as he did so. “Now get ready for my pass, and unlike Fa Shi, I will be seeking to strike you down.”

This was bad. This was really bad. Lü Meng felt a cold sweat hit him. He wasn’t surprised to know that Zhou Yu knew of his hatred of him. Of course Zhou Yu would see right through him. He was intelligent and Lü Meng knew he wasn’t the most difficult scroll to read either, so it seemed inevitable that he found out. No, he also wasn’t ungrateful for the chance to throw his tormentor to the ground and be allowed to get away with it. But he was afraid and he could not hide it. What if he went too far? What if he seriously injured him? What if he killed him? “Lord Zhou Yu, I can’t… I can’t do this!”

He wasn’t sure if Zhou Yu could even hear him as he now stood mounted at a far enough distance where the horse could break into a full gallop and merely waited for Lü Meng to get ready. Fa Shi had clearly seen Lü Meng’s fear and was hesitant to pass over his spear. “Lord Zhou Yu, are you sure this is wise?”

“No, it’s not, but it needs to be done. Have no worries, I’m merely testing him.”

“More like provoking, young lord.” Despite his mumble, he offered him his spear and took a step back. He wanted to offer his aide to Lü Meng, but he did not wish to expose too much about the young officer, especially against his will. And truthfully, what could he do? Like Lü Meng, he was far too low on the ladder to make a scene and get away with it. His next words weren’t at all meant for the strategist atop the horse but the man that couldn’t hear him from this distance. “Good luck.”

Zhou Yu said nothing to the officer and once again called out to Lü Meng, not at all liking that he hadn’t taken his position yet. It was hard not to see the panicked expression and Zhou Yu was quick to chide him for it. He chose his words with care. “You are an officer of Sun Ce, Lü Meng, an honor that I don’t feel you’re even remotely worth of. If you cannot properly utilize that weapon for his cause, then it’s worthless. Now, prove to me that our lord didn’t make a mistake that day and get into position. That’s an order.”

Oh yes, that wound went deep. Even from this distance, he could see him trembling and his face scrunched up into a horrid looking scowl. Had Zhou Yu been his enemy, he might have felt an inkling of fear but as it was, he felt more tickled from the expression and disappointed. The moment Lü Meng took position, he lost, and Zhou Yu was perhaps too eager for the chance to educate the young man and his lord.

He gave no further warning, kicking the horse and the urgency of the motion put the horse on edge, sending it charging at Lü Meng at full speed. The spear was at the ready and aimed where it would disarm the officer, hardly fitting for a practice run but Zhou Yu was confident that he would miss his target and that Lü Meng would not remove him from the saddle. Lü Meng, on the other hand, was terrified, enraged, and perhaps five other emotions thrown into a bag and shaken violently and he tried to tell himself that it was just practice. It was just Zhou Yu rattling his nerves and testing him. That the spear wasn’t actually going to pierce his chest, that this wasn’t the perfect plot to rid him of a troublesome pest, that his jealous didn’t overrule his logic…

He tried telling himself that but none of it seeped in. Now Zhou Yu was upon him and he had only seconds to act! He wanted to strike, but his body wouldn’t move. Even when Zhou Yu shouted at him, even when he could see the spear coming- nothing! He could move nothing!

What snapped him back to the present was the wailing of the horse and he rose his glaive, but too late. By the time he swung it, Zhou Yu had rushed past him, spear drawn back in but wounding him just as much with that smarmy grin. Lü Meng could see Fa Shi moving to intervene, but all it took was a movement from Zhou Yu and he backed away. The strategist lifted his spear up and made his intentions clear. He was coming back around for another pass, and Lü Meng, determined not to be embarrassed a second time, spun on his heels to face him. “Fine! Damn you too!”

He could not see Fa Shi’s worried expression or how Shi Ran motioned to them from the carriage, as his eyes only saw his opponent. He spread his legs apart and pulled the glaive into position, the sweep of the blade and tip touching the ground and the hook poised. The steel in his eyes warned Zhou Yu that he was not only ready, but eager. He would not be ridiculed like this! And if it meant letting a senior officer walk away with a few bruises and a lashing for himself later, then so be it. “Come on! Come on!”

Now he heard Fa Shi approaching and Shi Ran’s shout, but he paid them no mind. All he could hear were the thundering hooves of Po. All he could see was the glimmer of disgust and amusement in Zhou Yu’s eyes. All he felt was the desire to wipe that smug, arrogant grin off his face. He’d have only one chance…

Lü Meng swung his glaive, catching the spear and penetrating its shoddy defense, and yet it was enough to protect its rider… or so it seemed. Once again, the hook never touched Zhou Yu but it bit into the saddle and something ripped away, causing the saddle to slide off of the horse’s back and throwing its rider off the side. Lü Meng spun around, longing to see Zhou Yu’s fall from grace and it was just as satisfying as he could have possibly imagined. He could not hear it bones snapped or if he landed in an embarrassing position. All he could see was him fall over the side and roll in the dirt, and it felt… damn good.

Too bad the feeling did not last for long, as no sooner did he lower his weapon, he could see Sun Ce fastly approaching and he did not look happy. Suddenly he understood what Fa Shi and Shi Ran were trying to warm him about, and he, the fool that he was, immediately regretted not listening. He stood at attention, but it did him no good, as the moment his lord was standing before him, he was on him. “Lü Meng, what the hell did I tell you the other day?”

Any confidence he may have gained from his feat was gone and not even looking at Zhou Yu being helped to his feet by Fa Shi and another could make that pleased feeling return. Before his lord could bark another order, he did managed to fumble out some words in hopes of quelling a little of his anger. “Sir, that… I should not let others co… coer… convince me to do things I know not to be right, even if they are a senior officer. Right?”

“And what did you do?”

Lü Meng fought with himself, wondering the best course to take from here. He could throw the blame on Zhou Yu and explain how he provoked him, but… that did not matter, it seemed. By now, Zhou Yu stood upright and dusted himself off, and he looked back at his lord so that he wouldn’t see the man’s triumphant smile. The other option was just to accept that he failed to heed his lord’s advice, and his answer was meek for a man that just threw another from atop a galloping horse. “Not that.”

Would it be enough? He doubted it. But the one to come to his rescue was neither Fa Shi nor even Shi Ran. It was Zhou Yu. “My lord, please, there’s no need for that. It was all a training session that I more or less forced onto him. It was dangerous, however, he’s performed quite admirably, wouldn’t you say?”

Lü Meng wasn’t the only one confused and he allowed Sun Ce to ask the question that burned in his head. “What are you even talking about? He could have killed you- probably wanted to, and I wouldn’t have blamed him with how you ruffled him like that.”

“Oh, he wanted to harm me, but kill? No. And he did neither, despite having the perfect opportunity. He channeled his anger and used it appropriately instead of being consumed by it.” And then Zhou Yu looked to him and the man he praised wanted to run and hide, even when there was no where to go. What was Zhou Yu doing? Where did this come from? And how the hell was he expected to respond? “I’ll admit I may have pushed you too hard, Lü Meng, but I wanted to test you as well as teach you a valuable lesson. It was not out of spite or whatever you may think I feel about you. I merely wished to see how you’d perform when under duress and to see if you could hold back if necessary. But you’re decision to strike the saddle instead of go for me and risk gorging me… well played.”

No, even after his explanation he was terribly muddled. Zhou Yu may as well been speaking a different language and he was certain his own treacherous eyes were blank to reveal his confusion to all. He couldn’t trust himself to speak and so he didn’t. Which, apparently, fell right into Zhou Yu’s scheme splendidly. “And so modest, too. I see what it is that Sun Ce and others like about you. My lord, hold no anger for Lü Meng, for he performed well. Controlling his temper and turning it into an asset will need some work, but he shows promise at least.”

All the while, Sun Ce’s expression softened, and it seemed that if Zhou Yu’s aim was to win Sun Ce’s heart, then he most certainly won. There was no sign of suspicion in his gaze and Lü Meng nearly yelped when his lord slapped his hand on his shoulder. “Alright then, seeing as you had it under control and all, then I’ll take it back. Well done, Lü Meng.”

Gift horse. That’s what the saying was. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Did that apply here? If he said anything contradictory, he’d only be digging his own grave and invalidate any good that came from Zhou Yu’s ‘praise’. Did he mean any of it or was it all to keep them out of trouble? If so, why both? Why not just himself? It was all just… it felt him addle brained and Lü Meng wouldn’t stand for it! “Yes, my lord,” he ended up saying if only to put an end to his misery. No matter what, Zhou Yu won. Let Zhou Yu win. “May I be dismissed now?”

“Granted. Take the horse back to the rest and make sure his saddle gets repaired before you start your shift for the evening.” Sun Ce saw no reason not to let him go and Lü Meng was grateful. “I need to talk with Zhou Yu anyways.”

So relieved was Lü Meng that he left before he could see how Sun Ce’s face broke into a scowl and he may have rejoiced to see it was directed solely at Zhou Yu. However, he simply approached the now calm horse and took the reins and saddle. He was eager to flee to the makeshift stables and just call it a night. He had enough of being Zhou Yu’s punching bag for one night…

He wanted nothing more this evening than to return the horse to its proper place and retreat to his family’s carriage, but he was a fool to think his night would end so peacefully. No sooner did he reach the stables did he find trouble, or, perhaps more accurately, trouble found him. He could tell that something wasn’t right when he was eclipsed in another’s shadow and he looked up to see the bucking grey stallion. Its angered and distressed whiny pierced the heavens almost and set Po on edge, forcing Lü Meng to stop and stare at the man atop the horse, gripping to its reins for his dear life.

Lü Meng might not have thought too much of the occurrence except for three glaring details: this man could not have been part of their army for he had never laid eyes upon him before, the horse was protesting wildly to this man that had the nerve to try and abduct him, and lastly the golden bells that jingled at the horse thief’s waist would forever engrave themselves into his mind for the rest of his days, as long or as short as they may be...
A River's Final Meandering -- Chapter Nine
Chapter 01:…
Chapter 02:…
Chapter 03:…
Chapter 04:…
Chapter 05:…
Chapter 06:…
Chapter 07:…
Chapter 08:…
Chapter 10:…

DISCLAIMER: This is a piece of fiction, inspired by the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms and the video game series Shin Sangokumusou | Dynasty Warriors. Names of individuals that I could not find their names either through the Koei Warriors Wiki or Kongming Archives are given false names and (hopefully) bare no resemblance to any other persons or characters, either living or dead.


In which Lü Meng receives a new weapon from Deng Dang and must undergo a test from a harsh teacher...

  • Mood: Apprehensive

Emergency Commissions! $10 sketches!

So, where do I even begin?  Recently I’ve been having bouts of low blood sugar attacks while at work and while we’re still not sure what’s exactly causing it, it’s forced me to take time off from work for unpaid medical leave so that I can take care of my health.  I don’t want to go into details about the work situation itself because it’d seem like it’d be in bad taste to do so and I will be starting up a new full time position, but that doesn’t start until November 16th, sadly (and hopefully they will be more lenient on allowing me to take my assigned breaks on time to prevent my blood sugar from just plummeting).  

So I’m doing emergency commissions so that I can hopefully pay by bills on my upcoming rent.  $10 character sketches, pencil or digital, whichever one clients will want.  I am still doing my regular commissions, for which can be found here – > COMMISSIONS JOURNAL 

I’m not going to sugarcoat the situation or try to blow it out of proportion, but every little bit helps, really.  If you can afford commissions, or don’t want any, please share this with a friend and send it around?  I’d greatly appreciate it!

If you’d like one done, either email me at or send a note here on DA.  I really, really appreciate anything, even a share (or a pat on the back telling me it's all going to be okay).


chibigingi's Profile Picture
Stacey Lynn LeBlanc
Artist | Student | Traditional Art
United States
Current Residence: Land of Crawfish (Louisiana)
Favourite genre of music: J-Pop and techno
Favourite style of art: Anime/Cartoon
Operating System: OSX
MP3 player of choice: iTunes
Favourite cartoon character: Lu Meng (DW), Date Masamune (SW), Revolver Ocelot (MGS), Knock Out and Breakdown (Transformers Prime)
Personal Quote: "No Venture, No Gain"

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SadievW Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Llama Emoji-02 (Blush) [V1] Thank you for the fave! Llama Emoji-23 (Shyness) [V1] 
Happy late birthday too!! 
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KodyBoy555 Featured By Owner May 15, 2015  Student Digital Artist
Do you do requests and art trades?
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Happy Birthday! I wish you a lot of happiness today!MenInASuitcase Hide Birthday Emote birthday cake Happy Birthday Godliek :D 
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Happy Birthday! :) :cake: :party:
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Happy B-Day! ^^ :iconcakeplz: :hug:
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Happy birthday! :iconkermityayplz:
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Happy Birthday!!! :D
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Happy birthday! :iconcakeplz:
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