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Imagine if China and Italy...

had been close allies for about 2000 years, how would world history be different?

A few days ago ysabetwordsmith left a prompt to thesilentpoet:

In 97 AD, Chinese General Pan Chao sent an embassy to the Roman empire, but little came of it. Suppose China and Italy had united, how would that change things?

This poem was the result, outlining a whole timeline. If you know me you can imagine the rest, I wanted more and wanted to see what ysabetwordsmith herself would do with a few prompts related to this alternate-history universe, thesilentpoet agreed as well.
The result were The Treasures of Marco Polo based on a couple of items listed in an inventory after Marco's death he never spoke about; The Lost and Found Legion about the idea of the embassy and the identity of the ambassador and the , as yet unpublished The Tea Tempest.
I was reading about the real embassy sent by general Ban Chao and how in Chinese documents it is said that ambassador Gan Ying turned back because of the info he got from some Parthian sailors about the lenght of the remaining leg of his trip to Rome and the dangers involved. Fact is that Parthians and Scythians were the middlemen of the silk trade and wouldn't have been too happy if the two empires started dealing with each other directly.

I couldn't help but imagine a pair of Parthians trying the same stunt on a very different ambassador, ysabetwordsmith 's Cai Luoma, the result was:

Cai Luoma and the Parthians

They tried it on him, the two Parthian brothers.

The older spoke first, in sorrowful tones:

“This sea, o my friend, is so vast and large,

With terrible storms, and many hidden dangers;

It may take years  to cross it at all”.

Then spoke the younger, with honeyed words:

“ This we say to you  in token of friendship,

Your faraway lord, no matter how wise,

Could not have known  the dangers you face”.

Insisted the brothers, concern in their voices:

“Providing for many, your friends and retainers,

Will tax your resources, will leave you stranded,

Turn back while you can, we speak out of care”.

Greed moved their hearts, lies were they crafting,

But wise Cai Luoma, clear-eyed, brave-hearted

Eluded the trap  of honeyed words.

He knew that the Parthians, old enemies of Rome,

Now traded in silk  from empire to empire.

No love had they  for an envoy from China

Entrusted to go, and treat with the Romans.

“ I thank your kind hearts,” he said to the brothers,

“Tomorrow we leave, We’ll head straight back home”.

He did not trust them, and lulled suspicions

But crafted a plan, while playing the fool.

And the morning after, just as the sun rose

The ambassador’s party was seen leaving town  

With carriages and horses, with coffers and banners

While earlier that night, a nondescript group

In silence, by moonlight, had boarded a ship

Which now headed West, to Europe, and Rome.

His people all safe, all gathered on board,

Cai Luoma now laughed at what was in store.

For him an adventure  well worthy of song

And for the two brothers, and all their cohorts

If gods were willing, and fates propitious

Maybe in a while, few years down the road

A nasty surprise would catch them unaware.

‘Cause friends talk to each other, need no middlemen.

If you like my work  and feel like it, tips are appreciated.


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 5th, 2012 08:29 am (UTC)
Read "Cai Luoma and the Parthians" by Marina Bonomi
User ysabetwordsmith referenced to your post from Read "Cai Luoma and the Parthians" by Marina Bonomi saying: [...] and well!   has added to The Silk Road Allies with the poem "Cai Luoma and the Parthians [...]
Jul. 5th, 2012 11:50 am (UTC)

Lovely. :) I especially love the last three lines.

I am so glad this shared universe is taking off! Do we have a place we could post all the various poems? I'll definitely be writing another one before next week is out.
Jul. 5th, 2012 12:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :)
Elizabeth is working on a shared universe page on her own site, maybe it could be good to have a 'Silk Road Allies' community where we all (and other interested people) could post relevant material?

I'm looking forward to your next piece! Any hints?
Jul. 5th, 2012 12:25 pm (UTC)

I'd be up creating such a community, although I would ask for you or Elizabeth to be a co-moderator. I work 6 days a week between 2 jobs, it's not quite conducive to moderating a community constantly if needed.

I'm thinking one of two, if you care to weigh in.

Either, a further exploration of the two countries' relationship during WW2,

Or, Italy during the Renaissance, should they have had the Chinese influence.
Jul. 5th, 2012 12:32 pm (UTC)
No problem at all filling in as co-moderator,actually I think all three of us should cooperate in that.

Both your ideas are very interesting, if I remember, you said earlier you had been reading a lot of WW II material if it were me, I'd start with that since it's fresh research. :)
Jul. 5th, 2012 12:36 pm (UTC)
That is what I was leaning towards, I admit. ;) It'll probably be up for next week.

I think the three of us cooperating would be great. I wonder if there's any way to discuss offline if need to via eljay, or if email's the best here. I'll have a bit of time this weekend to create the community page.

Edited at 2012-07-05 12:38 pm (UTC)
Jul. 5th, 2012 12:46 pm (UTC)
I'll send you my emaIl address on the double.
There's also Google documents as an option, I used it for joint posts in a play-by-email RPG, multiple people can write/edit/discuss the same document in it.
Jul. 5th, 2012 12:54 pm (UTC)

I joke that I run my life on GoogleDocs, but it's true. I very rarely use Word these days. It's also used for the WoD RPG I'm currently involved in, as a way to keep track of characters and plot points. So, yeah, that might work too.

Got the message, sending you mine now.
Jul. 5th, 2012 01:07 pm (UTC)
Got your address, thank you. :-)
Now it remains only for Elizabeth to weight in about her favorite/handier mean of cooperation.

Jul. 5th, 2012 06:45 pm (UTC)
I'm fine with the idea of creating a LiveJournal community for this project, and I'm willing to serve as co-moderator.

GoogleDocs doesn't work for me, alas. Just recently an author tried sending me a review copy of an ebook that way and it crashed. I tend to keep my notes in MS Word.

I'm partway through the expansion and reconstruction of my website. The stuff relevant to our project is done. See the new tab My Work, the subsection Shared Worlds, and the page The Silk Road Allies. Whatever we want to make public in terms of literature, background materials, discussion posts, etc. can be linked and organized there. Feedback is welcome.
Jul. 5th, 2012 06:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Okay...
Looks good to me :).
Only thing, there's a typo, it's Cai Luoma, not 'Cai Luomo'
Jul. 5th, 2012 06:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Okay...
Fixed, although that won't be visible until I republish the page.
Jul. 5th, 2012 06:55 pm (UTC)
About resources
haikujaguar some time ago found this:http://orbis.stanford.edu/#
in short it is an interactive atlas of the Roman empire, you define the parameters and it gives you travel times and expenses, it can be useful, I think.
Jul. 6th, 2012 07:45 am (UTC)
Re: About resources
That does look useful. Thanks for sharing!
Jul. 5th, 2012 01:40 pm (UTC)
Those are just lovely, and a fascinating glimpse into a what if.
Jul. 5th, 2012 01:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you, said by someone who is both an historian and a very fine writer it means a lot.

We are hoping of turning 'The Silk Road Allies' in a communal project, with people of different talents cooperating on an agreed canon. If you ever feel tempted to come in and play (in whatever capacity and under no obligation whatsoever) you'd be more than welcome.
Jul. 5th, 2012 02:16 pm (UTC)
Alas, I don't know enough.
You might ask my friend anna_wing, though. This might be just her thing.
Jul. 5th, 2012 03:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the suggestion. :)
Hope you'll drop by and see how the group goes, when you feel like it.
Jul. 5th, 2012 04:52 pm (UTC)
I certainly will.
Jul. 6th, 2012 07:57 am (UTC)
I'm open to the idea of letting other folks use the setting. We should discuss parameters for canon and worldbuilding, though.

What we have so far is described here:
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )


glasses, curious, siamese, cap

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