Let me tell you the story of Xun Shi. This character and his immediate entourage were created by me to sate my passion for creative pursuits when I got my hands on Romance of the Three Kingdoms 13.
Xun Shi was a native of Luoyang; a military scholar, and a man of comfortable wealth. He taught other wealthy young men in generalship and strategy for a living. When many of them left - including his own uncle, Gong Hu - to fight the Yellow Turbans, Xun Shi refrained, remaining in the capital. He told himself it was better for the country if he continued teaching, but in truth it was merely better for his own household.
When Dong Zhuo seized control of the capital, he begrudgingly served. After all, Dong Zhuo had the authority of the Emperor behind him. When the coalition took up arms against him, however, he would not fight with nor against them. Again he kept his head down until it all blew over.
And then Dong Zhuo burned the city.
Xun Shi and his uncle were furious that he would do such a thing. It's not too difficult to let events pass you by when they're happening hundreds of miles away, but when the city you grew up in is defiled before your eyes, you tend to see it differently. One day while walking the streets, Xun Shi and Gong Hu discussed and lamented the sorry state of their once gilded home. They scoffed at Yuan Shao's coalition. "They purport themselves to be on the side of justice, overthrowing a tyrant and restoring order. Do they truly think their work done?" Xun Shi wondered. "Is this how they judge success?"
During their conversation, a young boy swiped the coinpurse on Xun Shi's belt. Gong Hu moved to stop him, but Xun Shi bid him leave it be. The child likely needed it more than he. Watching the boy flee, guarding his prize closely against his chest, Xun Shi wondered if he'd sat idle for long enough.
Gong Hu had one idea. He referenced the soldiers left behind by Dong Zhuo; the wounded and weary who weren't fit to march. The citizens looking for work. They all needed food. Surely a bit of labor in exchange wouldn't be too much to ask. All they needed, Gong Hu surmised, was a leader to coordinate them. Someone to decide where the food went until a surplus could be grown once more.
At first Xun Shi was reluctant; offended, even. "Are you suggesting I usurp imperial power in the capital?"
"I suggest," Gong Hu replied, "you bring order and safety back to Luoyang, while giving the victims of this atrocity a purpose once more."
Then Xun Shi thought different of it. Luoyang was a weakened target now. Prey for any warlord or bandit king who sought what was left of its bounty, material or symbolic. As a military scholar, he could at the very least organize a proper defense force. A sort of peacekeeping presence to keep the criminals at bay.
A peasant levy would be required to pad out the numbers, and Gong Hu knew a thing or two about turning pitchforks into spears. But they'd need more. They'd need trustworthy captains, domestic minds... And a little extra counsel wouldn't hurt Xun Shi. He put out word to people of talent he felt he could trust, alluding to his plans in Luoyang while being careful to avoid any wording that would make him seem treasonous.
The first to respond was Hong Dai. A former student of Xun Shi, he had returned to his native Xiapi after his education, but rushed to Luoyang hoping to repay his teacher's lessons. Another was Zhu Lun, whom Xun Shi had met only weeks prior outside the halls of his former school. Zhu Lun had come to shout his disapproval at the stale teachings of the military scholars, but found only Xun Shi's ear, and Xun Shi happened to be quite intrigued by his unorthodox take on strategy. He was a student of war, but a magistrate by trade. His dual expertise would prove quite useful.
Together, the four of them - Xun Shi, Gong Hu, Hong Dai and Zhu Lun - would raise their banner at Luoyang, declaring their intent to restore the city. They would clash with Dong Zhuo in minor skirmishes, and later with Yuan Shao and Cao Cao as the scale of their intentions grew. Thus began the story of the Xi Kingdom; the phoenix who rose from the ashes of the capital.
.... I just wanted a place to recount this now that I'm fired up for this setting once again. Of the three or four major "story arcs" I worked into my RoTK 13 run with custom officers, this one is probably the one I'm happiest with. I love weaving my own ideas for epics and sagas into the tapestry of history with games like Total War and the Crusader Kings franchise. Total War in particular has been one of my foremost sources of inspiration for years. It was inspiring my pure fantasy works long before a Warhammer title was conceived of!
Wonder if I'll be able to write Xun Shi's tale right into the game with the mod tools...? I've never really modded Total War, so I have no idea how robust the tools are. Does this sort of prospect appeal to anyone else? I'm sure there'll be at least one Westeros mod at least. :P