River. ” Replied the Messenger. ”Go forth, Tuyuhun Chuo, and prove yourself the equal of your siblings! ” And with that the Messenger rode off into the distance.

To the Yellow River… Thus did the four know their destination. Thus did the four go forth from their village Chuo knowing this would be the farthest away from home he had ever been. This would be the farthest away from his family he had ever been and for all Chuo knew this would be the last time he would ever see his parents. His parents, his sisters, he knew not if ever he would see them again. How long would the campaign be? That was something he could hardly guess he was not even sure if he would live to see the end of it.

Pausing a moment to look back home, Chuo heard Fu say: ”Don bother looking back, cousin. We aren going that way and we may never come this way again. ”

Closing his eyes, Chuo rode to catch up with the other three while dreams of battles to come formed in his head. Dreams of the glory and the horror that his parents had spoken of… No doubt this campaign would be much of the same.

”Don look so sullen, Chuo! ” exclaimed Qing. ”We ride to face the wriggling worms and shall win great glory against them! We are subjects of the Khan of Tuoba Wei! We cannot lose! ”

Such bravado. Qing truly was her fathers child, the daughter of a man who believed their khanate undefeatable. Had not Liu Yu managed to defeat them during his expeditions? How long until his son Liu Yilong came marching north? No dynasty could last forever and the fact was that the Tuoba Wei Khanate had enemies to the north and enemies to the south and yet, perhaps they would outlive both of their enemies.

Such was a dream, though it was not one Chuo had. At that moment all he dreamed of was being able to return home.

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