Northern Formosa (194)

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Northern Formosa

Formosa is a tropical island paradise, composed of rolling hills, lush jungle, fertile fields and, most prominently, the tall hill at the center of the island visible from everywhere on Formosa. Northern Formosa is a natural paradise; tropical jungle surrounds the central hill on the northern side and an extreme variety of flora and fauna live within. Some towns can be found along the coastline, but roads are few and far between.
 

Inch

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This post marks the beginning of my (our) mission using these storyboard elements:
-Save a large community from danger (5)
-Guard someone very important (5)
Summary: I will be escorting a village elder to the city on Icaria to negotiate a trade deal as the village is dangerously low on resources. The elder is of vital importance to the village regardless of this particular task, and our ship will be attacked by highly coordinated pirates en route, necessitating a lot of defense. The trade negotiation will ultimately bring the needed resources to the village.

The jungles of Formosa are never quiet. With the sun high in the sky, the squawking of tropical birds and buzzing of various insects fills the air, the wildness of the jungle abundantly clear to any islanders foolish enough to stray too far away from the small villages which dot the coast. Still, there are some inhabitants of the island who embrace the dangers of the jungle, using it as a source of duress in order to train themselves to power levels which would otherwise be unreachable for these island dwellers cut off from the conflicts which consume the larger world beyond their shores.

Son Wukong meditates atop a boulder in the center of a small clearing a mile or so outside of Tianweiban, a small village off the northern coast of Formosa. Since returning to his people after years spent training in isolation (though Son Goku of course is his eternal companion), Wukong had found it necessary to escape from time to time and meditate so as to keep himself calm enough to interact with society. Just last week he had picked up a melon off a merchant's cart and walked off as casually as if he had plucked it off a tree in the wild. When the merchant angrily grabbed his shoulder from behind, he had instinctively whirled around and gave the man a sharp "love tap" on the arm with his staff. The merchant was now pushing his cart with one hand in a sling. Needless to say, the village elders were not pleased.

And so Wukong inhales and exhales deeply and rhythmically, seeking to calm his wild spirit just enough to get by when surrounded by the people he was charged with protecting. His ears twitch, however, as an unnatural rustling noise draws closer and closer to him, coming from the direction of the village. Opening one eye, Wukong is greeted by the sight of his friend Neiling, a steward for the council of elders, coming out of the underbrush and entering the clearing, panting. Neiling wears the traditional garb of the people from their village, a simple tan colored robe trimmed with red and green squares, his dark hair pulled back into a bun. "Hey, Wukong!" he shouts up to the jinchuuriki atop the boulder, "The elders want to speak with you back in the village! Elder Kamekao is being sent to the mainland and will need you to go wi-"

Before his old friend can finish, however, Wukong springs to life, rolling forward in a somersault and pushing hard off the rock with his hands, launching himself into the treeline above his friend. "Wouldn't want to keep them waiting, ha HAH!" his loud monkeyish laugh echoes through the trees as he leaps from branch to branch with the speed and precision of, well, a monkey. He does not hear Neiling grumble with annoyance at being left behind.

"Wasn't meditating supposed to help him not to do stuff like that?" with a sigh, the steward begins his trek back through the jungle to Tianweiban.
 
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Inch

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#3

The village is as peaceful as ever. Or at least, it is until the moment Wukong bursts from the treeline. Flipping head over heels several times, the self-proclaimed Monkey King lands on the village's centralized main street, kicking up a fair amount of dust, dirt, and grit in the process. Some of the surrounding village people let out a slight groan. The village protector had proven to be a bit of a nuisance ever since he returned from his isolated training, and that was no secret. Completely oblivious to this less than warm welcome, Wukong strides past the various buildings composed of wooden post walls and thatched roofs. As he walks, he observes the village people pedaling their wares in the marketplace and sees the same frustrated look in most their eyes. Guess the traders that were supposed to show up today never made it.

Positioned on the river which runs through the center of Formosa, Tianweiban is distinct from most coastal towns on Formosa in that it can afford to be slightly more inland, thus placing it practically inside the jungle as the river grants the village people access to the ocean for trading purposes. Of course, this also grants the village excellent natural defenses, as it is extremely difficult to approach from any direction other than the river, which the village's proud warrior caste watches over vigilantly, assuring that only traders are able to get very far in. Lately, however, not a single merchant ship had come through, nor had any of the ships they sent out returned. For a village reliant on trade for many of its needed resources, this was a problem. And for the village's guardian, this was exceptionally frustrating as it was a problem he was powerless to fix. Gritting his teeth, Wukong quickens his pace, heading for the tallest building at the end of Tianweiban's main street: the Temple of the Tianweiban Council.

Bursting through the double doors, Wukong waltzes past the stewards going about their business and goes up the spiral stairs at the center of the room, ignoring the young lady saying he needs to wait to be summoned. Pushing aside the curtain at the top of the stair case, Wukong enters the ever-smokey chamber to find the council already in session.

"If we send that many warriors along with you the river will be-" before the elder who had been speaking is able to finish his thought, however, all heads turn to the village guardian. Seated around a large round table with a fire pit in its center, irritation is writ all over the various faces of the seven elders. They never quite got used to Wukong barging in on their meetings with no announcement. The jinchuuriki grins mischievously. The elders were all ancient, and nearly all of them were men, with one exception: as is tradition, the council could only be led by a woman. Seated at the head of the table, Aaratara nods for Wukong to take his seat. "Good of you to join us, guardian."

Aaratara was the only person other than Son Goku to make Wukong feel abashed, and so he sheepishly takes his seat. The old woman continues, speaking in a papery voice indicative of her age, "As you were saying, Elder Soji?"

The old man, now puffing on a pipe, who had been speaking clears his throat of the small bit of phlegm that had gathered before continuing, "Yes yes, as I was saying, if we send two dozen warriors to escort Elder Kamekao our defense of the river would be dangerously sparse. Surely the presence of our, ahem, guardian, here," he gestures at Wukong with the pipe, "along with four of five warriors will be sufficient."

Aaratora peers at him curiously. "Hmmmm. You make a good point."

Wukong, who had been drumming his fingers on the table from the moment he had to sit down, pipes up. "My presence? With Kamekao? Where is it we're going?"

Aaratora chuckles in response while most of the other elders either shake their head or grumble at the jinchuuriki's impudence. "My dear, as you know, since the collapse of the Freehold of Hanguri our trade has been damaged desperately as most of the fruit, wood and other resources from the jungle went straight to Chungsu. Even worse, it seems that there's been a huge spike of piracy in the Kanashi Ocean. We believe that's why we've seen no merchant ships at all," Aaratora gestures to a map on the wall. "It will be necessary to convince some other large settlement to send more heavily guarded merchant ships our way. We've settled on the city which surrounds the Todoroki Shrine in Icaria."

At this moment, a burly Elder by the name of Kinshin seemingly fails to contain himself and stands up, knocking his chair back as he exclaims, "I've said it once and I'll say it again, no good can come of associating ourselves with that sort of city, and they're not going to help us for free and-" once the rather hefty old man catches sight of the glare Aaratora casts his way, however, he withers beneath it, sinking back into his chair. "I-I'm sorry, it's just-"

Aaratora cuts him off. "We've heard your objections and your proposals were voted down. Our solution is set in stone. Wukong and five of our warriors will accompany Elder Kamekao to Icaria where he will negotiate a trade agreement to bring resources back to our people. We can't keep waiting and hoping merchants make it through. Tianweiban can't become cut off again. They way our people are now - we won't be able to survive if we have to rely on the jungle alone. You will take our best ship tomorrow."

The bearded and grizzled Elder Kamekao clears his throat. "Today. We must leave today. If the warriors and guardian are prepared to leave, I am."

"Always up for a chance to prove myself!" Wukong smiles ruefully, "today it is."

Aaratora nods. "Fine, if you'd both prefer that. Today. The six of you, go see to it that the preparations are made. Wukong, stay a moment and speak with me."

Slowly but surely, the elders make their way out of the room, leaving the old crone and the jinchuuriki alone together. When the curtain flaps shut behind Elder Kinshin, Aaratora seemingly deflates, all the poise and fight she had been projecting evaporating as she lets out a weak cough. Wukong rushes to her side. "Is everything okay? Should I go get a medicine man? I can-"

Aaratora raises a hand, cutting him off. "I'm fine, I'm fine. Just getting old and weary. If I show any weakness in front of those men they'll have me replaced with someone easier to control. And we can't afford that. Not now, not with the Freehold collapsed and the village's wellbeing at stake," she eyes the young jinchuuriki sternly, "Don't take this assignment lightly, Wukong. This may be Tianweiban's last shot. If we don't get resources soon we'll be left to scavenge deeper into the jungle. And most of us, well, we're not like you. We need to make this work. If you fail-"

"I won't."

She shakes her head. "You don't understand. You haven't left the island before. Things are different out there, so much that you're unfamiliar with. You have to slow down. Remain vigilant. Kamekao is a clever one and he knows his way around, but whatever it is that's stopping trade out there.. I've never seen us go so long without a single ship passing through. Not in my whole life. And I am getting up there, you know," she chuckles meekly in spite of herself. "The both of you must return safely. Tianweiban needs the both of you. Kamekao is the only elder left that I can fully trust, and well, you're you."

Wukong smirks confidently. He was the greatest warrior the village had seen in generations. A perfect host to the island's secret weapon, a tailed beast. Yet even as the thought crosses his mind, Son Goku speaks from within him. "Foolish! You've yet to reach your full power, and there are many powerful beasts out there. None as mighty and noble as I, yet you still restrict my power. Heed your elder's words, monkey brat."

Wincing at the chastise, Wukong nods. "I understand. I'll be careful. I promise you, we'll get what we need from Icarus - or whatever it's called," he glances at the map. "Oh. Icaria."

Aaratora chuckles knowingly. "Very well then my wild child. Go catch up with Kamekao. If I know him, he'll have everything just about prepared by the time you reach the docks."

"I won't let you down ma'am." And with that, Wukong turns and exits the room.

"Look after him, Goku!"

...

Wukong's thoughts are a blur of excitement as he rushes through the village, headed for the docks. Finally! I can get off this island and have a chance to prove myself. Before long, he reaches the dock and immediately finds Elder Kamekao and ten other men loading supplies onto the ship. Giving the warriors and sailors a curt nod, Wukong approaches Kamekao.

"Ah good, you're here. Help us load these last boxes and we'll be off. No time to waste."

Wukong snorts but hurries to help. He had always loved how Kamekao got straight to business. With Wukong's help, the supplies were loaded in no time, and the last true ocean-ready vessel made way from the docks, headed up river. Unable to contain his excitement, Wukong scampers up to the crow's nest, incredibly eager to see everything the world might have to offer him. Finally.

Many of the villagers had gathered to see the ship sail away, and Wukong waves happily to them. "We'll bring back lots of stuff! Don't even worry about it! Ha HAH!"

In what seems like no time at all, the ship navigates up the river and on to open seas.

Leaving landmark and headed towards the Kanashii Ocean.
 
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