Health and Safety

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Health and Safety A Death in Chunfen
Male Yumenite A icon.png
Aggressive Villager
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Frenetic Villager
Fang Xiaoshi's Father icon.png
Yanese Villager Male icon.png
Passing Villager A
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Passing Villager B
Yanese Villager Female icon.png
Terrified Villager
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Male Yumenite B icon.png
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Very Old Man
Moushan Lot
Yumen Desert
Yan Room
Sargon House
Yishan Temple
Mine Entrance
Just when everyone thought the scheme would go exactly as planned, Mulberry shows up with the village's Messenger in tow, sending the villagers into a panic. Faced with the prospect of the villagers running out of control, Qiubai steps back into the fray.
<Background 1>
A fowlbeast's calls echo through the wilderness, and a fresh sun peeks out from the horizon.
The sun's color changes from day to day. Yesterday, it was shining brightly, but today it glows weakly. A few sparse rays of lights leak from the heavy clouds, coating the village in a layer of ashen gray.
An elderly man sits in a wheelchair, staring blankly at the shed in front of him.
He was instructed to call for help if he heard anything or saw someone trying to escape.
Being so old and needing help to get around, there is not much for him to do.
He was told the village has an important project, and once it's completed, everyone will be able to live a comfortable life.
In order to complete the project, he must not let the one inside escape.
He is old, but he can still offer some form of assistance, to help the village.
The morning breeze picks up, sending the blanket from his shoulders about a meter behind him.
He wants to call for help, but worries that he shouldn't alarm the group over such a minor thing. He should only cry out over the task entrusted to him.
Someone picks up the blanket, dusts it off and drapes it over his shoulders.
Very Old Man Oh, thank you...
Who do you belong to, child?
??? You're welcome.
Very Old Man Are the mandarins here? When will they take the prisoner away? Is the 'project' finished?
??? Do you know who is in there? Do you know what the 'project' is?
Very Old Man What did you say? My hearing isn't good, could you speak louder—
??? ......
Very Old Man Yes, I know. I'll just sit here. I'm not going anywhere.
Yes, yes, pay no mind to this old man. You young people are plenty busy.
Don't worry, I'll keep an eye on things here, no one's getting past me.
I've lived a life of hardship, and I won't let you young people go through that. I'll do what I have to do.
[Qiubai is revealed to be the one speaking with the old man.]
Qiubai ......
The swordswoman pushes the old man's wheelchair a few steps forward, enough to catch the sun, then quietly leaves.
<Background 2>
[Mulberry walks through the desert road.]
Mulberry This should be a westward road now, so I think I'm going in the right direction.
Head straight after that sharp bend, and then turn left after passing the third fork...
But what exactly counts as a fork here...?
[Mulberry noticed someone...]
Mulberry Oh, I'm so glad somebody's here!
[...and greets him.]
Mulberry Nin hao, sir... would you happen to be from the village around here?
Passing Villager A Huh? Who are you?
Mulberry I'm part of the disaster relief team. I heard there was a mudslide a few days ago. I came to investigate the damage, but it looks like my map's not quite right.
Have you heard of any villages around here that were struck by a mudslide?
Passing Villager A Us mountain folk have all the paths around here memorized. I've never heard of someone making a decent map of the place.
You must be asking about Moushan, that's where I'm from.
We suffered some heavy rain two days back, and a section of the Chidao got washed away... but the village is unscathed.
Mulberry What a relief, so I've been going the right way after all...
How do I get to Moushan from here?
Passing Villager A Just continue on this road and turn north when you hit the fork in the road. It's about half a day's walk.
Mulberry Thank you very much!
[Mulberry runs off as another villager appears.]
Passing Villager B We've laid the traps as the Elder instructed... but I hope we don't need them.
After all, she's only here to help the village. Let's try not to hurt her, just lead her away.
Passing Villager A Well I'm not the thinking type, so I'll do whatever you say.
Passing Villager B What a coincidence, huh? This was supposed to be just between us and Heaven, but that stubborn Messenger had to come knocking.
Right, who was that girl from earlier? What's she here for?
Passing Villager A Oh, she said she was from a disaster relief team or something and was here to check on the mudslide.
Passing Villager B And you let her through just like that?!
Passing Villager A The Elder told us to stop any Messengers here. What's that got to do with anyone else?
Passing Villager B You idiot! The Elder stationed us here to stop the Messengers, that means he doesn't want any outsiders ruining our plans!
Doesn't disaster relief come from the government?
What if the village isn't ready yet and we've spoiled everything?
Passing Villager A I didn't think that far ahead... so what do we do now?
Passing Villager B What else can we do?! Take the shortcut back to the village and tell the Elder!
Tell them to hide Fang Xiaoshi in a safe place and make sure he isn't found!
Passing Villager A Ugh... how do I even break the news...?
Passing Villager B Forget it! You stay here on lookout and I'll go report myself.
[The second villager runs off.]
Passing Villager A Wait—
You didn't tell me how the traps work...
It looks pretty solid though. At a glance, you can't even tell where it is—
[The villager is caught in the trap as a Forte Messenger shows up.]
Messenger What's this now...?
Do you... need help?
<Background 3>
[The villager from before returns.]
Villager Elder! Bad news! The mandarins are here early!
Clan Elder How could this be? Didn't we agree on a time?
Villager *sigh* I don't know myself.
We were waiting at the village entrance to hold off any Messengers, but that idiot Dafu spotted one and gave her actual directions instead.
Clan Elder At this point, there's no turning back...
Well, it was inevitable, and better sooner than later.
There's no need to panic, just do what you've been tasked to do. I'll ready myself and head to the village entrance.
Villager Elder, are you sure you can handle this alone?
Clan Elder I have some inkling of how to settle things.
The rest of you, do not let Fang Xiaoshi escape and make a scene. The mandarins might pay a visit to the hunter's place later.
Villager Right, if he dares make any noise, we'll just drag him out of the village.
I've also tasked someone with sorting things out over at the hunter's place.
We've given him so many days, but it's time for him to place the grave marker.
Clan Elder ......
Alright, we'll go with this for now.
[The villager runs off.]
Clan Elder Honored ancestors, please bless us... we must pass this test...
<Background 1>
[Mulberry meets the clan elder.]
Mulberry Nin hao...
Clan Elder Nin hao, nin hao. I am the Clan Elder of Moushan village. We've been anticipating your arrival.
Your magisterial greatness honors us with your presence, we beg your forgiveness in forcing you to travel all the way to our remote village.
Mulberry Magisterial...?
Honored Elder... I heard there was a mudslide a few days ago, and wanted to get a deeper understanding of the situation.
Clan Elder Of course, of course. We have to be crystal clear about such an important incident.... we have already finished the preparations.
Shall I take you there now?
Mulberry Preparations...?
Umm... Okay! I appreciate your cooperation.
Clan Elder (Strange. Why did the government send such a young girl?)
(The bag she's carrying... it doesn't look like it could hold a million.)
<Background 4>
[A villager stood before Xiaoshi's cabin.]
Aggressive Villager Fang Xiaoshi, time to go.
Fang Xiaoshi Go where?!
Aggressive Villager No questions, just come with us.
Fang Xiaoshi Oh, looks like you're in a panic. Let me guess, an outsider showed up?
Sure, I'll go right now, and tell them all about your schemes!
Aggressive Villager Won't you just behave?! Stop making trouble!
[Xiaoshi headbutts the villager.]
Aggressive Villager You dare headbutt me?!
Grab a rope and come help me tie him up!
<Background 5>
[A villager calls Xiaoshi's father,]
Villager Hunter, it's about time.
Just come with us and place the grave marker. Then it's all done.
Hunter Why the hurry? Didn't you say the mandarins were coming tomorrow?
Villager I don't know why, but they're here today.
So we have to finish our side of the job early.
Hunter But I'm not done carving yet. This 'mu' character is still a few strokes short.
This is a pretty serious thing, so we can't do a shoddy job here.
Villager We don't have time! This is all an act, why worry about stuff like that?!
Hunter Fine...
I'm coming.
<Background 6>
[The elder explains to Mulberry,]
Clan Elder The mudslide happened a few days ago, overnight, and this boy was at the Chidao worksite.
Fang Xiaoshi was born and raised here in this village. We all loved him as a good boy with a virtuous heart, ever since he was little.
He knew how difficult it was to build roads through the mountains and how important this project was to the village.
He probably wanted to salvage some materials, and as a result...
Mulberry I didn't expect a tragedy like this, I'm so sorry for your loss...
Disasters are merciless, but at least, wherever they happen, people always look out for each other.
Clan Elder Well said, Madam...
Fang Xiaoshi did not die in vain, at least. He perished for the sake of the village, and we will remember him always.
When things have settled down, we will inscribe his name in our temple.
And for his father, his sole living relative, the village will come together to care for him.
Mulberry Honored Elder, you have a kind heart.
Clan Elder No, no... I am our Clan's Elder, so this is the least I can do.
Having said all that... we should probably get down to business, no...?
Mulberry You mean...?
Clan Elder Rude as it is for me to be so forward, I'm afraid I have to ask when the compensation money will arrive...? After you verify things on your end, of course.
Mulberry Compensation money?
Clan Elder Please, Madam, you mustn't toy with us...
Fang Xiaoshi's death should be considered an accident suffered in the execution of the Chidao project, so it is reasonable to expect some compensation money.
It's not that I hunger for wealth, but this sum of money, is critically important to our village...
Mulberry I think there's been a misunderstanding, Honored Elder.
I'm not too familiar with the workings of accidental death compensation, but the government should have someone responsible for that.
I'm with "Chun-qian", a disaster relief organization. I'm here to investigate the cause of the mudslide.
This tragedy is heartbreaking and irreversible, but we have to do our best to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Clan Elder But.... This...
<Background 2>
Frenetic Villager (Anguished moaning)
Messenger Don't move, let me take a look...
[The Messenger checks on the villager.]
Messenger Seems fine, you didn't break your ankle, at least.
How is it, can you walk?
Frenetic Villager Thank you...
Messenger What's going on? Why are there hunting traps on this path?
Frenetic Villager Well... uh...
Spring has just begun, and some beasts made their way into the village two days back, so we're taking some precautions.
Messenger You still shouldn't lay traps where people walk, though. It's too dangerous... See, you only caught yourself.
Well, I'll come help you after I'm done with my work. I'm pretty good at repelling beasts.
I've got some letters to deliver, so I'd better get a move on.
Frenetic Villager W-Wait!
Messenger Is there something else?
Frenetic Villager Are you heading to Moushan?
Messenger Yeah, what's up?
Frenetic Villager You... you can't go there.
Messenger Why not?
Frenetic Villager Because...
Oh yeah! In case you didn't know, a mudslide hit this area two days ago and washed out the road!
Messenger If the road is out, then how did you get here?
If you could get out, then I can get in. It's just a little mountain climbing, no big deal.
Frenetic Villager No, wait!
Messenger What else?
Frenetic Villager I... ugh... agh!
Frenetic Villager I told them I was a horrible liar, and they still put me out here...
Aiyo, I'll just say it. I'm supposed to keep you from going over there.
Even if I have to lie, or convince you or whatever, I can't let you go to the village today. Even if I have to fight you!
Messenger I knew it...
You've been acting weird this whole time.
What exactly are you guys trying to pull here?
<Background 6>
[The elder is in shock after knowing that Mulberry is not the mandarin he is expecting.]
Clan Elder Oh my, I really... I'm going senile.
*sigh* If you're here about the mudslide, there really isn't much to say...
It happened some distance away from the village, so no one was really affected by it.
I'm sorry you took the trouble to come all the way out here, but the village is fine and there's nothing worth investigating.
Mulberry Honored Elder, if I could have a moment. There are still some things I want to confirm...
A mudslide is not unusual at this time of year...
But as I understand it, it is standard procedure to build some protective fortifications on the mountain slopes before working on the Chidao proper to prevent these kinds of accidents.
If the fortifications were erected properly, then the Chidao shouldn't have been washed away by the mudslide in the first place.
Clan Elder ......
Mulberry If there were issues with the fortifications here, it means there might be issues with structural integrity elsewhere as well.
That means there's still a chance of another mudslide further damaging the Chidao, or even hitting the village.
So I have to head up the mountain and get to the bottom of this.
Clan Elder You want to go up the mountain...?
Mulberry Honored Elder, could you show me the way up?
Clan Elder Well...
I'll be frank with you, girl, it's not that I don't want to help you, but it's the height of planting season. Everyone here is busy with farm work, and one man leading the way means one less hand to work the fields.
Mulberry If you really have no time to spare, I'd appreciate it if you would be so kind as to point me in the general direction, so I can make my way up alone.
Clan Elder The roads in these mountains are rugged and difficult to traverse, with many branching paths, you could find it very difficult...
[Someone enters the temple...]
??? Worry not. I shall show thee the way.
Clan Elder You–
Young Shifu Saga, what are you still doing here...?
[...who is revealed to be Saga.]
Saga The past few days, I have enjoyed thine care whilst wandering these parts.
Though I may be lacking in agricultural ability and unable to assist thine farming, I am at least be able to serve as a guide.
Clan Elder Young Shifu, now is not the time—
Mulberry Honored Elder, I don't really understand what's going on.
I get the feeling you really don't want me going up the mountain...
Clan Elder ......
Mulberry This whole time, you've been talking about how much damage the disaster has caused the village...
So why don't you care about keeping it from happening again?
[A villager rushes in.]
Villager Elder, the hunter...
[...and whispers something to him.]
Villager (*whispering*) Elder, please...
Clan Elder I'll be right there.
<Background 1>
Villager Today is the day we put Fang Xiaoshi to rest.
Everyone present will bear witness.
To send off a boy less than half your age is truly difficult. But life and death know not reason.
You have done a meritorious service, dying for the village's sake. I pray you are reborn in a better family and place in your next life, and not somewhere like here.
And thus, I declare, Fang Xiaoshi is dead.
Hunter ......
Villager Hunter. As his father, I think it would be best for you to place your son's grave marker yourself.
Hunter Wait, I have a question...
You say Xiaoshi died for the village, and will be buried here...
But have you truly treated him as one of your own?
Even when we're finished here, will you really let him live in the village?
Villager What are you asking?
Come on, the mandarins might just be around the corner. Don't screw this up for us!
Hunter How could I even...? All of you know that I'm hurt and sick, you could say I'm already halfway in the ground, at this point.
I've been long content to live on like this, but for Xiaoshi... let my son live in peace...
Villager Didn't we already agree to that? The Elder even swore an oath in the temple, once we finish this, the village will take care of you both. Why so uneasy?
Hunter! What are you waiting for?
Hunter I'm just worried...
You need us right now, but who knows what'll happen after you get your money. How will you treat us then? I really have no idea...
Reminds me of something someone said to me yesterday.
"A man is never truly satisfied."
The hunter loosens his grip, and the wooden tablet in his hand falls to the ground.
Villager Hey—!
We need that money to survive, and tend to the land. What's that to you? Is the Elder's word not enough, do you need the whole village to kowtow before of our ancestors for you to believe us?!
Hunter That's not what I mean...
Villager We're out of time, there's nothing else we can do!
<Background black>
The crowd rushes the lone man, grabbing his arms and forcing him to the grave.
One of them picks up the grave marker and shoves it back into the man's hand.
Holding the piece of wood in the midst of the crowd, he lowers his head like a burdenbeast.
The unfinished grave marker falls slowly toward the grave.
Slice the Farce.png
A long sword flashes across the space, splitting the wooden grave marker in two.
Facing rebels, bandits, seasoned generals, kung fu masters... whether in a fight or a competition, the way she unsheathed her sword was always more natural and unreserved than the action she just took.
The sword only barely tapped into its power, sending splinters flying erratically.
Before leaving Yumen, she told that man, "I will find a place to bring this sword to its full potential."
But what's the point of drawing a blade before a group of unarmed villagers?
Should she have drawn? Was she right to try and stop this?
But... why even wield a sword...
If you stay silent in the face of injustice?
<Background 1>
Qiubai Placing that grave marker would defile two lives.
Hunter Miss Qiu...
Villager Y-You're still here?!
Qiubai I've been worried this plot of yours could go past the point of no return.
And I was absolutely right to worry.
Villager Y-You know everything...?
Qiubai Every last detail.
Villager Then you should know we're just trying to survive here.
Qiubai These past two days, I've heard something to that effect dozens of times.
A corpse, a name, a sum of money. Can you only survive by trampling the dignity of others?
She does not raise her voice, but the villagers present shrink back from her. She scans their faces, the people look at her with trepidation—and at the sword in her hand.
Such looks are all too familiar to her.
Perhaps they fear more than just a sword, though. There are many things here that could seal their fates.
Perhaps they fear this sword, or perhaps the weeds of the wilderness. But have they known anything other than hardship?
The light of her sword disperses and she slips it back into its sheath, without pointing the blade at another soul.
Villager Girl... no, Honored Master...
This is none of your concern... I know kung fu masters like you fight for justice, but you are a mighty swordswoman, while we're... you couldn't hope to understand our lives!
Qiubai There is no difference between you and I.
Mom, I... found a government notice in Dad's bag.
"Bandits have gathered in Jiangqi, causing immeasurable suffering to the good people of the area. The troublemakers will be eliminated within the next few days, but amnesty will be granted to those miscreants who have the sense to surrender..."
Mom, please tell Dad to stop!
It's still not too late, just think about it, for your daughter's sake...
Words are cheap. We could surrender, but then what next?
Those merchants along the river, the footmen carrying grain... what wrongs have they done?
I can't help it. If need to place blame, blame the mountains for being too high or the currents for being too fast.
Take good care of our daughter.
<Background 1>
Some people are born rich, powerful, or noble, knowing not how the world truly works. Some are born to displaced families, living the same as migratory beasts, struggling day by day with no time or opportunity to think about settling down.
It is a universal sight, Catastrophes hanging over their heads, pushing the land to its limits.
There is no true justice in this world, but are the weeds by the river or the stones of the wilderness to follow, to abide it regardless?
This does not mean we should accept this injustice without reservation...
Qiubai I have spent five years in Jiangqi and another five in Yumen. I have turned on the edge of this blade too many times to count... It feels like if was short a single piece of guidance or wavered in my spirit, I would have become something like the Shanhaizhong...
I would have become someone like my father.
Qiubai I understand your struggles, but they are no excuse for injustice.
There is never an excuse for injustice.
For the river will eventually swallow us all.
Qiubai I've been reluctant to step in...
But just how far do you intend to take this?!
Terrified Villager Fang Xiaoshi...
Qiubai ......
What happened to him?
Villager Zhou Liu and Zhou Si were taking him to the mountain behind the village...
Qiubai To the summit?
Villager Everyone was afraid he'd make trouble, so we decided to take him someplace far away. We never expected him to...
Hunter ......
Qiubai It's not too late.
It's as if the snow melted as quickly as it fell, and the swordswoman lost the tracks she had been following.
The hunter, still in a daze, gets to his feet and tries to catch up to her.
Two pieces of wood lay on the ground, surrounded by splinters. Some words he understood and some he did not...
The crowd gathers around the empty grave, exchanging glances. They seem to be thinking about something, but at the same time look like they've forgotten something else.
Clan Elder We're... done for...
<Background 7>
[While Mulberry and Saga walks through the mountains...]
Mulberry Are you the resident monk here, Shifu Saga? You seem familiar with the place.
Saga I have taken a number of momentary respites in my travels, and happened nearby the past couple of days, and so I bore witness to accident.
Now, thou art learned in the methods of disaster relief. Thine undertaking to comprehend the circumstances of the mudslide will indeed help prevent similar disasters in future. A most excellent thing.
Mulberry Ah, t-thank you for escorting me, Shifu. I don't know what I would do if the villagers kept standing in my way.
Saga Dost thou know the reason for the villagers' relentless obstruction?
Mulberry Is there something hidden beneath the mudslide...?
Saga Mortal ability is indeed limited, and all that occurs on this plane is merely as one glimpses a beast through a pipe. As to secrets hidden within a Catastrophe, I dare not engage in wanton talk.
I feel there are matters I have yet to comprehend, and so I guide thee up the mountain.
Sight begets truth, and so upon arriving at our destination, thou shalt see with thine own eyes, and come to know the truth.
Mulberry Hmm...
<Background fades out and in>
Mulberry This is where the mountain broke off...
Mulberry approaches the precipice, and crouches down without thinking, the dirt and rock leaving marks on her skirt.
The site of the incident lies far below, the mud appearing as if someone had casually tossed sand onto the carefully constructed lifeline, which is now severed and scribbled over.
Saga Well? Hast thou made a discovery?
[Mulberry stops.]
Mulberry ......
Saga The expression worn upon thy face is... unpleasant...
Mulberry ......
I'm beginning to wonder... was the mudslide really a natural occurence?
Saga There have been a number of consecutive rain storms in the area recently, and I myself took shelter in the village on account.
Mulberry Northwestern Yan has always been a dry, mountainous region; extra dry these past two years. Rainfalls have been concentrated in spring and summer, and a nearby Catastrophe has also exacerbated the climate change.
Vegetation is sparse and difficult to plant. These are mostly barren mountains with inhospitable soil and rock. What fertility the soil has is only getting worse. Coupled with intense bursts of rainfall, conditions are perfect for natural mudslides.
But... Shifu Saga, take a look over there...
Saga Hmm?
Mulberry The section that didn't collapse.
Saga Those are... the protective fortifications?
Mulberry Yan has thousands of Chidaos criss-crossing the wastes and mountains where Catastrophes are frequent. Regular maintenance and rebuilding are necessary, so the initial construction efforts tend to see the most effort.
The more complex the terrain, the more resources the construction gets.
Engineering teams reinforce the mountains on both sides of the Chidao, using solid foundations to ensure it is safe to use.
Saga I have come to understand, that the mountains on either side of the Chidao should have been more secure.
Mulberry But more importantly...
I've found some... explosive residue.
Saga Explosives...?
Might they be evidence of Chidao engineers drilling holes into the mountain when they established the fortifications?
Mulberry Hmm...
When I was interning at "Chun-qian", we worked with Chidao engineering teams on scouting missions, assessments, and rescue operations.
They emphasize "Precision and Control" during construction, and use standardized explosives developed by the Ministry of Engineering for their drilling and blasting.
But in the residue I found here, the gunpowder looks really rough.
It looks more homemade.
Saga On my way here, I chanced upon some hunters blocking the entrance to a sand beast cave... with explosives crafted from clay.
But who would bury such explosives on this barren summit?
The wandering monk accidentally kicks a stone.
The stone rolls a ways down the slope before coming to a stop in a clear depression.
She pokes at the surrounding vegetation with her naginata, and the winding tracks are almost instantly blown away by the wind.
Saga ......
Mulberry What's wrong, Shifu?
The tracks were made by a mobility scooter.
<Background 1>
The old man wearily drags his feet over the steps and staggers toward the outskirts of the village.
The sun gradually tilts west, forming a resplendent sunset. The last rays of the light are just right, not too hot or cold, warming him up.
At this hour, he would normally have just finished with the day's work, or settled a village affair.
There is never enough time in the farming season, but to him, a day has never felt so long.
He walks aimlessly until his legs give in and he sits down on the ground in a daze.
[The Messenger notices someone...]
Messenger Elder...?
[...who turns out to be the clan elder.]
Clan Elder Why... why are you here?
Weren't you supposed to...?
Messenger Here's your money, Elder.
Clan Elder What are you... talking about?
The exhausted Messenger sets the package on the ground. It gives off a muffled, heavy sound, the dust almost striking the old man's face.
Messenger Did you forget? You submitted an application two years ago.
The subsidy you've been waiting for, it's finally here.
I set out the instant I got your message.
Yep. After Chunfen this year, the village should have some state-of-the-art farming equipment. And every household can buy a new thing or two.
The government didn't forget about Moushan... it's just that the Catastrophe made for a pretty long delay.
[The Messenger looks at the elder.]
Messenger Elder...?
The old man does not move from his spot, his mouth open wide. He wants to say something, but nothing comes out.
The bundle of money on the ground is incredibly heavy. The old man feels his vision blurring, as if the mountain cleared by the excavator thousands of years ago had returned, weighing on his heart.
Clan Elder Go, quickly...
Go and release Fang Xiaoshi.
[A villager stops by the elder.]
Villager Elder...
Fang Xiaoshi, he... he jumped off the mountain...