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Fantasy Usurpers (ft. soulsparks)


New Member
Xiang Tao knows he is not the son his father would like him to be. He is well aware of that. It’s a good thing he’s the second prince and Xiang Feng is the model heir. This keeps the heat off of him, even if his father never misses a chance to give him a good lecture (or beating).

It’s not that he is exceptionally lacking. He’s not stupid, actually quite the contrary : he’s very well learned, more so than his siblings because he adores reading, writing and music. He’s a decent fighter. Oh sure, he’ll never be as intimidating or strong as Feng is, but he can handle himself with a blade and does not hate training.

But he is improper. He’s a disgrace not because of his aptitudes, but because of his attitudes. He likes partying and going out with the soldiers of the castle, even if it’s not proper for someone of his station. They are nice! They are fun and down to earth and gorgeous men and there’s no reason for Xiang Tao not to go out with them. He always has a good time, even if every time he gets caught he gets in trouble. Initially his father and step mother saw his going out and drinking as the folly of youth, and this not think too much of it.

Of course, that changed drastically the day they were searching for him and found in his the guard’s captain bed. Oops. So part of the disgrace comes from the fact that he’s easy, and throw him a beautiful smile and he’ll be happy to sleep with you, no matter what you identify as. That’s not something a crown prince should be doing, apparently.

So that day in particular, it’s very early in the morning, and Xiang Tao is trying his best to sneak into the palace. He’s going to enter through his younger sister Mei’s window, because it’s the easiest to climb and the fourteen year old loves him, so she won’t rattle about his escapade.

Excepts once he climbs into the window, using that one out of place brick he knows exists on the wall, there’s no one in the room. This is very unusual, because Mei is a heavy sleeper and would not be caught dead waking up so early. She’s also the youngest and the only daughter of the current queen, Tao’s step mother, so the King and Queen tend to be more lenient towards her.

Tao frowns at the empty bed, and walks towards the bedroom door in silence. His room is down the hall anyways, maybe Mei woke up for some reason and is on her way back. As he opens the door, he is greeted with the body of a maid on the ground, and freezes. That’s Mei’s lady in waiting, covered in blood. The blood drains from his face, and as he hears footsteps down the hall, he closes the door back up and puts his ear to it.

“In here?” says a voice Tao does not recognize
“No. That’s the princess’ room. We got her already. I’m pretty sure we’re done”
“Heh. This was a much easier job than expected. I thought the prince would put up a fight, the boss said he’s supposed to be a skilled swordsman”
“Hard to showcase skill when you’re getting stabbed in your sleep”
laughs meanly the first voice

Tao put his hand to his mouth to silence his gasp. Feng, dead? And from the way they are talking, so is the rest of the royal family. His sweet Mei, the closest of his siblings, dead. If he was not as shocked as he is, he would undoubtedly start crying.

“What about the second prince? The boss wants his head as well”
“Ehh, I don’t recall. But we killed everyone in here, there’s no way we missed him. Let’s just say we killed him already”
“Sound good to me. Anyway, word is that he’s a bitch, so if he’s not dead yet, surely he’ll be dead soon”

The second man agrees with a laugh, and Tao hears the voices fade away. He needs to get out of here. They think he’s been disposed of, and fleeing the castle is the only way he can get out of this ordeal with his life. His whole family has apparently been killed anyway, it’s not like there is anything for him to save here.

Eyes wild, breathing heavy, he falls into autopilot mode. Climb off the window. Walk in the gardens, close to the bushes so he can’t be seen. Get out through the hole under the wall, next to the river. If he jumps just right, he can avoid wetting his robes. His robes. They are inconspicuous, because he was out in the town, but he should shed his outer robe anyways, because it is too fine looking and will draw attention. He follows the train of thought and throws the beautiful red garment in the river. He walks away.


Xiang Tao wakes up with a splitting headache, from the very little sleep in his body. He’s been on the run for over a month now, and he’s been staying in this run down shack in the slums close to the port for around ten days. He has managed to hide with a low life gang of petty criminals, because he’s a pretty face and their leader has taken a shine to him.

Tang Xia is not nice, not a particularly pleasant lay, and kind of scares the shit of Xiang Tao. But she’s got a very well hidden shack where he can spend his days reading, and if the trade off is that he has to sleep with her, he can live with himself. It’s not like he’s got another place to go. The downside is that the gang has barely enough to eat on a good day, which is a brisk change of pace from the feasts Tao was used to at the castle. He must have dropped 20 pounds from the stress and malnutrition of the last few weeks, and now his previously muscular but lean body is on the very skinny side. Like, so skinny he bruises at nothing,

He gets up, gets dressed, ties his hair into a high ponytail, and reaches for his back to find one of the few books he still has with him. He had a couple in his bag when he left the castle, and manage to snatch some in the last few weeks. As he’s about to open the book back to the page he was last reading, two of Tang Xia’s thugs open the door to the shack.

“Ah! There he is, the boss’ whore” says the taller of the two men

It’s not a particularly false statement, but Tao still raises an eyebrow at them, unimpressed. That is, until the other man opens up a scroll he’s been holding, which is actually a painting of him made at his previous birthday. He looks positively beautiful on it, all dolled up in fine silk and his sharp eyes highlighted by a line of black. He also looks positively royal.

“Well shit, you were right! He really looks just like the second Xiang prince. I’m sure they’d pay us very well if we bring him back to the castle”

The men look at each other and grin, and Tao gulps. Fuck. Looks like his life as a whore is over pretty much after starting. He’ll need to get out of this whole city, hell, this whole country now. If it’s know that he is on the loose, there’s not way the usurpers will let him live.

Fortunately, the two men, as most people in his life, underestimates Xiang Tao. Which is why the first one barely has time to react when he receives a prompt, strong kick right in the neck and his sword is taken from him. Tao hits him in the head with the hilt of the weapon, and the man faints. The second guy unsheathe his sword and wastes no time striking, but a petty thieve is no match for a trained prince, and Tao slices him cleanly across the throat, and the man falls to the floor. He then promptly retches bile on the floor next to the man. It’s the first time he actually killed someone. It does not feel particularly good. He’ll deal with it later.

Swiftly, Tao grabs his bag and takes the sword’s sheath from the fainted thief before leaving the shack. He’s close to the port, and that is probably the easiest way to get out of the city. He swears at his stupidity. Why did he think staying so close to the palace was a good idea? Someone was bound to figure out who he is!

He spots a modest looking boat, that still looks big enough that it might be travelling more than a couple miles. In the early morning, not a lot of people are around. There are workers getting busy on the docks, setting up stalls and moving cargo, but there are not many citizens, which makes it fairly easy for Tao to sneak into the boat, and in it’s under deck. There, he finds half a dozen huge bamboo baskets, filled with fresh fish. This boat is probably leaving soon, it’s owner probably simply did not want to leave during the night.

Xiang Tao takes a deep breath, and with a disgusted frown, he opens up one of the baskets that’s not as full as the others, a slides on top of the fish. It’s stinky, it’s slimy, it’s more than a little gross, but it’ll have to do.


Hours or days later, it’s hard to say, but Tao is waken up by bright lights in his eyes, from someone removing the top of the basket. Too blinded to see exactly what or who the person is, he still gives them a sparkly smile.

“Oops, looks like you found me~”
"Make decisions and live by them."

Her father always had wise words to share in her greatest need. Somehow, always finding the right words to help her understand a situation. That one piece of advice wasn't something she totally understood. Of course you would have to live with the decisions you make. There were consequences to every action. Good or bad. In his final days, he would speak as much as he could. As if trying to get out all the words he could before his body fell too weak to do so. Yet this? She didn't know what he fully meant.

It had been two years since she'd run the fishery and farm. However, nowadays, it looks like they might be able to bring it back to full production! Her father didn't usually reach out for help or advice, yet he never discouraged her from doing so should she find herself in need. You could only rely on the advice of strangers so much, but perhaps he never found a need to when she was growing up.

Most of the baskets had been offloaded, the fish going off stored back onto the boat for fertilizer. Her father used to have to pay for it, not much, but nowadays, the merchants would happily hand it off. Keeping good relations wasn't always her father's strong suit, however, that didn't mean his name was tarnished. Much more quiet than the sunny girl picking up where her papa left off.

"You've been doing well for yourself, haven't you!"

Hien speaks, snapping her out of her thoughts as she turns to the woman with a smile. Her husband, Jiao, walks past to continue helping off load the delivery. A simple nod passing by the farmer, before continuing to work. She understands why her father preferred coming here, two of a kind. Still, Miu does like to chat with Hien. Replying with a smile, Miu goes to lift another basket up.

"Of course! At least I'm trying to. How have things been here?"

A huff, before a glance around. As if afraid someone might hear, she quiets her voice. "Rougher and rougher. I don't know if it's going to get much easier. I'm hoping for better times soon." Even that seemed vague to Miu. Yet even more so when Hien steps closer. "I'd be careful on your travels. It may be a while till we should see each other again." The woman warns. The feeling leaves a chill on her skin. Has the situation gotten so bad? Last she had heard, the royal family had been massacred with a new regiment taking place. Sure, that means a lot for those closer to the capital. It doesn't mean that it doesn't effect those out to the coast, but so soon? So rapidly? Something must be going terribly wrong...

Miu nods, looking up solemnly before smiling again. There must be a reason why she hadn't outright said it. "T-Thank you for your patronage." She spoke a bit louder, taking some coins out from the pouch to pay for the remnants. The rest was carted back to the boat and for the night Miu slept.

In the early morning, Miu would set off. The seas were rather calm, so her travels rather hasty. They hadn't been this calm in ages, so it takes her little time to get back. By late afternoon, Miu would be back to the shores of her home. The baskets would soon have to be off loaded and as Miu goes to lift one, it was far too heavy to do so. Confusingly so, because she was the one that lifted and put them back on here in the first place! Her brows furrowed, as she lifts up the lid to see if something snuck in there.

She didn't expect to be right, with a face sleepily looking up at her to speak. A squeal, as the lid drops back onto the basket. Hands placed firmly on top to prevent him from getting out. Her heart was pounding from the unexpectedness. A frantic glance around the room, filled and empty baskets filling the room. Though....It struck her as odd. Thieves didn't hid _inside_ the fish baskets. Especially when there were empty ones further in. Hm...He must have trying to get away from something.

"Are you armed in there?" She questions, though she's postitive he isn't. At least not with a dagger.
Xiang Tao barely has the time to take a look at the person in front of him before they shriek and drop the lid back on his basket. He does see that they are a girl about the same age as him, with long hair and bright eyes, and he wonders if she is maybe the daughter of the shipowner. Usually, merchants will hire mostly men to move their merchandise (he knows that from sneaking out into the ports to talk and drink with commoners) so for a young woman like her to be here, she’d have to be close to the owner. Or maybe the owner herself? That would simplify Tao’s life. He’d have to explain himself only to her.

Before she opened the basket, she seemed to attempt to lift it, which prompts Tao to think of two things. First, she is someone allowed to touch the merchandise unprompted, since no workers are currently busying around, from the sound of the under boat. Second, from the frank pull she used to attempt lifting: some of the baskets must be empty. She would not be lifting so fast if she was expecting as basket full of fish. Which, in turns, means that Xiang Tao could have spent the trip (and its numerous hours) in a somewhat clean, empty basket instead of the fishy hell he was in. Oops.

Well, there’s nothing he can do about it now. He has no idea where he is, and that suits him perfectly fine. He assumes he has successfully escaped, though he has no doubt the port will be under high alert now that rumours of his survival have spread, so he needs to ensure he doesn’t stay on this boat long enough for it to return to Qutong and deliver him right in the tiger’s maw. So, he needs to get out of the basket, then the boat, and then hopefully be on his merry way to a peaceful if sad life where he can mourn his siblings in peace.

For the moment, as he had for the last month, Tao represses the feeling. He knows once he starts thinking about Mei and Feng, he won’t be able to function properly. He really needs to have control over himself, for the moment, in order to stay alive. He takes a deep breath before swearing; it really is not the best of idea to inhale deeply when you are in a basket full of fish. The smell helps him reign in his thoughts, if nothing else.

From the outside, the girl is still pressing on the top of the basket, with nervous energy.

“Are you armed in there?”

“It’s not a sword, I’m just happy to see you!”

He can’t help the joke as it leaves his lips, but quickly realizes that he actually does have a sword with him, which is reason enough for the lady to freak out a bit. He better own up to it if he wants to gain her trust, at least enough for her to let him leave her boat without too many questions.

“Ah! Actually, it is a sword. But, em, it’s sheathed. I can even give it to you! I mean you no harm, I swear. I really, really just needed to get out of Qutong so I, and I’m sorry about it, took a little bit advantage of your boat. Can you please let me out?”

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