Foreign Fields

The Mandate of Heaven

Before the Game

Extract from “The History of the Late Ming Dynasty (1646 - 1827)”, ed. S. Allerton & J. A. Redfern, Oxford (East India Publications), 1912.

[…] The Mandate of Heaven was long gone, the Chongzhen Emperor was but the last in a line whose strength and judgement had long since failed. The Chongzhen Emperor though was worse than even his mediocre predecessors; narrow-minded, quick to judgement, and prone to suspicion and paranoia. If results were not immediately to his satisfaction, he would quickly administer punitive actions. This resulted in the expulsion of the remaining handful of capable and loyal Ming ministers which ultimately hastened the downfall of the Ming dynasty.

A telling example is the death of the “theurgist” (a term we reluctantly use for one who deals with the Cathayan gods) Wo Feng, the fiancé of Tsung Chang-Mai who was later Ambassador to Albion. Wo Feng was commanded to summon Chi You, the god of war, to advice the Emperor on how to defeat the Manchu usurpers. When the Emperor failed to show that important god sufficient respect the enraged potentate turned upon the magician and commanded his wife-to-be to dispatch him to Di Yu, the Chinese Hell. Thus he lost both a powerful theurgist to the underworld and a sorrowful sorcerer to self-imposed exile.

During the Game

In 1644 the incompetence of the regime saw Beijing besieged by a peasant army led by the rebel Li Zicheng. As the Imperial City fell Chongzhen gathered the entire imperial household and ordered them to commit suicide rather than surrender. Hopeless and fearful for their lives, many did as they were told, including the Empress, who hanged herself. One of his daughters, Princess Chang Ping, refused to commit suicide. In a fit of rage, Chongzhen cut-off her left arm.

The rebels enjoyed only a brief rule. The East India Company had long taken an interest in the valuable trade of Cathay and a secret but intense interest in the source of the gunpowder that only came from there. Now, with the cooperation of Tsung Chang-Mai, they had the secret of production. Director Philip Silva acted. The Cathayan gunpowder supply could be destroyed and a solely Albion monopoly created. Tsung was sent to the gunpowder factory in Shaanxi and there somehow, the method remains secret to this day, prepared the factory to explode should anyone other than representatives of the rightful Ming government step foot within.

Director Silva made contact with Wu Sangui, the last great general to serve the Emperor and guardian of the gates of the Shanhai Pass, and persuaded him to abandon the Great Wall to the Manchu. He stood firm against entreaties that the Mandate of Heaven had been lost and against arguments that not even genius could defy Heaven. Finally Silva paid an unscrupulous local messenger to deliver the news to Wu that Li Zicheng had stolen his favourite concubine. The gates opened and the last strong army in Cathay marched beside the Manchu to capture the capital.


The fall of Beijing to the Manchu invaders in 1644 appeared to herald the end of the Ming Dynasty after more than three centuries. The Loyalists of the old regime, the so-called Southern Ming, seemed certain to struggle on - perhaps for years, maybe even decades - but even in the early years it was plain to see that newly proclaimed Qing dynasty of the horse barbarians would soon control the whole of the Empire.

Adding to the chaos that consumed Cathay was the destruction of the gunpowder factory, and much of the centre of the empire, when Shaanxi erupted in volcanic explosion. Famine followed the immediate loss of life and the Qing were forced to pause in their advance upon the south. It was this delay that allowed Prince Lang to carve out the Kingdom of Tungning from the islands of Taiwan and Hainan.

In Albion however a refuge had been prepared by the Ambassador Lao Jungfei and hundreds of Cathayan nobles and scholars found their way there. Taken in and given homes by the Colleges and the East India Company and by Don Inigo. The East India Company gradually gathered all the refugees to themselves and housed them upon a great island. It was in one of the refugee homes of Don Inigo that Tsung Chang-Mai found the Crown Princess Chang Ping. That noble woman had found solace in the Taoist faith and sworn nun's vows. Incongruously she was also an excellent swordswoman.

After the Game

The East India Company had placed the Empress Chang Ping upon the thrown of Cathay. Neither she nor her generals, like the courageous Lang of the Wolf and Dragon, would ever discover the Company's true involvement in their country. Perhaps it does not matter, for the Empress proved the first of an able series of rulers, and her name is still revered in Cathay today where small shrines to her are not uncommon in the villages and cities of the Empire.

Peace and prosperity were her priorities, though the first was not always possible to achieve. The Imperial Army fought a number of skirmishes with forces of Muscovy along the northwestern border between Cathay and that expanding Empire during the 1650s and 1680s. These border disputes never threatened to erupt into true war however and were generally decided in the Ming Dynasty's favour. No substantial wars or rebellions sullied the Empress' reign and as much by good example as by punishment she first contained and then substantially reduced the corruption that had characterised her father's reign.

The Empress died aged 78, vigorous almost to the end, and was succeeded by her adopted son the Emperor Guangzong in 1706. Her period of mourning was marked with solemnity across Cathay and her state funeral was reputed to have drawn more than a million mourners to the capital, their tents forming little temporary villages. Guangzong proved every bit as capable as his mother and Cathay prospered under his rule.

The Ottoman Empire

Extracts from “The Shadow in the East - Albion and Ottoman”, a book by Caroline Gregson on the tensions between Albion and the Ottoman Empire.

The Ottomans recalled their ambassador, Salik Gezmen, in late 1648 beginning a lengthy period of froideur between the two Empires. The lengthy alliance between the two countries which had benefited both in the matter of Malta and Venice had been previously strained by Albion's involvement in the destruction of Egypt and the unauthorised parting of the Red Sea. The return of the Brandages from apparent death was the final blow to the rapidly cooling relationship. The Ottomans demanded the extradition of the twins so that their sentence could be carried out, though whether this would have been for the first or second time was and is still unclear. Albion refused, and indeed the Brandage twins were invited to the wedding of the Privy Councillor Lord Devereux and Dame Eliza Gamut that same year, an event attended by the Royal Family, which was interpreted as a sign of official sanction for their continued residence within the country.

It appears that behind the scenes the Privy Council were concerned that the situation could escalate into outright war. Lord Mandrake made quiet provisions for war, preparing the troop, ships and Cloudbase of the East India Company for action. Lord Devereux and Lady Weaver took the lead in behind-the-scene negotiations with the Sultan of Istanbul's government. Lord Devereux took an unusually hardline stance in the negotiations, threatening war and alliance with Muscovy if the Ottomans continued to insist upon their demands for the Brandages. Lady Weaver took a more conciliatory stance though her private correspondence indicates that she was possibly more emphatic in her refusal to surrender the twins. It appears that in the modern American argot, the pair had decided upon a “good-copper, bad-copper” division. With hindsight it seems clear that the Ottomans would not have acted aggressively in any case.

A significant further event occurred less than a month after the recall of the Ottoman Ambassador while negotiations were still stalled in acrimony. A great river of spirits, thousands or more strong, surged up through the Straits of the Bosporus and besieged the Sultan's Palace. There they haunted the Sultan for twenty days and night bewailing their deaths. It rapidly became apparent that these were the spirits of those slain at Cairo and had come to plead that their be no more deaths in their names.

Albion maintained only the most cursory of diplomatic arrangements with the Ottoman Empire for many years. Eventually the East India Company rebuilt diplomatic relations, the Gerard Canal remaining grudgingly open to Albion shipping and the Company factors retained some contacts with their counterparts. (This slow rebuilding of trust is not assisted by certain rogue elements blaming the unfortunate fate of the former Ambassador, Salik Gezmen, on agents of Albion.)

The Rest of the East

Extract from “The Spanish Decline - Reasons and Results of Decay” by Sarah Haig (Invisible College Press), 1766.

Lang of Tungning had established weak control over the islands of the Philippines, taking the capital of the colony at Manila, only months before. The island fortress of Corregidor at the entrance to the bay was well-supplied and garrisoned and effectively acted to besiege the city even as it was in turn besieged by Lang. Lang's small mercenary force was significantly strengthened by reinforcements from his family in Cathay, though it appears that the Empress Chang Ping was unaware of his plans.

From Albion came even more significant reinforcements in the form of a small fleet captained by Commodore Stirling, acting in a private capacity, and by the conjurer Samuel Cartright on board his own ship the Pride of Yugorsk. A small action was fought a few days sail from Manila between the fleets of Albion and Tungning ship on one side and a small Spanish relief flotilla bound for Corregidor. There would be no reinforcements for the fortress.

The futility of resistance was underlined further by the illusions of Samuel Cartright which swelled the approaching flotilla into a mighty fleet, comprised in part of ships captured from the Spanish. The governor struck his colours that same day all hope of resisting gone and the Archipelago of the Philippines now firmly under the control of the Kingdom of Tunging.

The Spanish thus lost one of their most important and richest possession in the Mare Pacifica, the rest of their holdings in the East slowly and inevitably following.


Atlantis? What is Atlantis?

From 'A New History of Atlantis' by Ailena Lanik

“Atlantis - A refuge for spirits, outcasts, hustlers, entrepreneurs and wanderers. Humans and spirits surrounded by fifteen tons of spinning metal.. all alone on the seabed. This was how I was first introduced to this remarkable place. Created who knows how many hundreds of years ago, it has been rebuilt by Nathaniel Medici and repopulated by Megan Annwn. A spinning circlet of metal pumps out any water which may try to get in through the huge rent in the side. A place where those that do not belong are always welcome - spirits, mechanical men, creatures mistreated by humans, and those who share an open-minded view on those differently alive to the rest of us. The city is kept safe by the spirits which surround the city, misleading any who have not been invited. And there are rumours of powerful weaponry created by Medici himself..


From a Nearer reporter who was allowed in briefly

”..verch Morcant living with her man Tavish Wylie..”

”..say Medici is very close to the Mechanical Men he has been..”

”..King Harry. Does this mean that Albion is running..”

”..strange fellow with a gilled body swimming around outside..”

”..rumours that the Brandages visited here briefly, although no sign..”

Popular Culture

From the popular Kinematoscope show 'Atlantean Ultra Power Defenders!!'

“The Cathayan fishermen watched in horror as the beast emerged from the waters, great waves scattering their mighty iron vessels like leaves on a pond. They had heard of the the great monsters that lived in the Sea of Nippon, but until today they had thought it only legend, a tall tale to entertain on cold nights. They knew better now. but it was too late, far too late.

The towering monstrosity opened its great maw and breathed out a dark ray of infernal energy that reduced one of the ships to molten slag in an instant. The men cried out in fear and terror as the creature surged towards them, bellowing in mindless hatred.

Suddenly keen-eyed Yong-Sing cried out to look to the East, and as heads turned the terrified men could see see five specks upon the horizon approaching at speed. Once more the monster bellowed its rage, but now a call answered it, and the men's screams turned to cheers as the five gleaming dragons sped past their vessels and drew up in the air before the beast.

The largest of the metallic dragons, its detail work picked out in shining gold, flew fowards and pointed a shining talon at the creature. A booming voice echoed from grills on its back, speaking in a flowery dialect of archaic Mandarin.

“Lament creature of darkness, for your doom is here. Righteous warriors of glory stand afore you, and soon you shall know the endless sorrow of defeat!”

“Stealthy as the Darkest Night. Black Dragon!”

“Unyielding as the Boundless Earth. Green Dragon!”

“Fierce as the Raging Fire. Red Dragon!”

“Powerful as the Crashing Waves. Blue Dragon!”

“Glorious as the Blazing Sun. Gold Dragon! Atlantean Dragon Ghost King Ultimate Combination! Unite to Form Burninator!”

The Safest Place on Earth

From 'Muscovite Expansionism 1654 - 1834' by Philip Silva (no relation)

“By 1833, the Muscovites were in trouble from all sides, their small population unable to hold the large areas of land in the 'Empire'. In a desperate move to regain the upper hand, the Muscovites sent their best Inventors with an attack fleet North around the Pole in a dangerous bid to get to Atlantis unseen. Bringing a number of Witches, they bribed the spirits guarding the City to allow them entrance. They were successful in this; however, the mythic Atlantean defences turned out to be not such a myth after all. Almost the entire Muscovite fleet including combat Bathyscaphes were destroyed by one shot from the Atlantean Sunbeam. Even the new Theurgically enhanced Steel-clad battleships were unable to stand before the awesome power of this weapon. The Muscovite Empire never recovered from this shocking display of force.”

Among the Stars

Extract from the logs of the Pilot of Atlantis

“March 14th, 1835: It has become clear that Atlantis is no longer entirely safe on Earth; it is only a matter of time before somebody works out an effective counter to the Sunbeam, and our cloak of secrecy has already proved ineffective. Therefore, plans have been set in motion to leave this Earth and take a place among the Celestial Spheres. We will still have contact with those below; transport mechanisms are also being designed. But Atlantis itself must leave.”

From 'Strange Sights and Tall Tales' by Selwyn Scott, 1903

”..One evening in 1854, Hans Mueller looked west out of his window and saw a strange sight - like unto a falling star, but rising instead! Rubbing his eyes had no effect, and he saw the ball of light rising into the air. Scientists claimed it was a freak lightning storm, but nobody Hans Mueller swears it was like a glowing ball surrounded by a silver ring..”

news/2.eternity.foreign_fields.txt · Last modified: 2008/03/04 16:59 by gareth