The Journey To Fusang

This story isn't properly part of Steelhead themed adventures, as it was told long in advance of the protaganist moving to Steelhead, but it sets up the events of Return to Fusang nicely, so an overview is called for.

Part of Commodore O'Toole's early life was as a soldier and filibuster in the Celestial Kingdom as part of the so-called Ever Victorious Army, led by the great and charismatic Frederick Ward. O'Toole had many adventures, some of which will someday be written down in his memoirs. Of particular interest is an encounter with an equally charismatic young student leader, Hsieh Lieng. Lieng, from a proud Mandarin family, had thrown his lot in with Revolution and the Warlords plagueing the Kingdom at that time. Fate brought Lieng and O'Toole together one afternoon when the E.V.A. was attempting to evacuate a missionary station off of a tributary to the Yalu. SubAltern O'Toole was ashore with a small force of sailors, Lieutenant Henry Forrester and an interperter named Chung Kuo Jie. Jie was trying to get the Chinese villagers to speed up evactuation when he was surrounded by a mob of revolutionaries led by Lieng. O'Toole and Forrester waded into the fight to prevent Jie from being (quite literally) skinned alive by the "Death of 1000 cuts". They managed to release Jie and fight their way out of the edge of the crowd, when Forrester was shot in the chest and fell, dead on the instant. O'Toole protected the body until a flying wedge of Sailors broke into the crowd and managed to haul Forrester and O'Toole out— but not before he had crossed blades with Lieng himself, delivering a viscious backhand slice that laid open Lieng's face from ear to jawbone. O'Toole and Jie got away, but Lieng was sorely troubled by the scar on his face ever after, and his soul filled with hatred for Hotspur O'Toole. O'Toole eventually made his way out of China after the fall of the EVA, and as is the way of the Chinese people, Jie accompanied him, forever in his debt for saving his life. O'Toole was never comfortable with a "servant", as he often couldn't afford one, but Jie remained in his service for many years thereafter, without complaint.. Even after Jie had repaid the debt by saving Hotspur's life (twice— in Russia, and in the Americas), he did not consider the debt "in balance" and stayed on out of habit.

All this changed when a telegram arrived in Caledon Tamranoach, where Hotspur and Jie were living at the famous Polymath House. Jie's father had passed away, and his family were summoning him home to pay respects. Feeling the weight of obligation, Jie asked for permission to visit the Celestial Kingdom again, which O'Toole instantly granted. The trip, supposedly three months in length, resulted in Jie's disappearance. Careful inquiries through the British and Caledonian embassies to the Kingdom resulted in vague reports. Then a telegram from a trusted source revealed an awful truth. The former student leader, Lieng, was not only alive, but he had prospered.. he was now the Warlord of Fusang, and had discovered Changkuo Jie's itenerary by evil fortune. Jie was summarily kidnapped and brought to the dungeons of the Dark Ocean society, led by the 600 year old wizard, Lien Bao. The information was duly leaked to various embassies with an eye toward luring O'Toole to Fusang.

The adventures that follow are told in an early webcomic, THE JOURNEY TO FUSANG, which involved an exploding zeppelin, an O'Toole cousin, a visit to San Francisco, a sea voyage, a sea monster, a chance meeting with Lien Bao in disguise, a journey upriver, an reuniting with Changkuo Jie.. sadly, too late.

The webcomic ran for six episodes and remains sadly unfinished. However, it does set up the much larger and epic scale of RETURN TO FUSANG, two years later.

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