Throughout the Great Fragmentation, there were rumors of greater forces which were subtly fanning the flames of war in order to achieve the results that they desire.
The 5 societies have their own powerful leaders who strive to make the best of this war.
The Righteous Way
Comprising of the strongest men in the land, Martial Artists of The Righteous Way form a vigilante group that strives to protect the weak and prevent them from suffering from injustice. Till today, followers of The Righteous Way are acknowledged to be the strongest and most honorable men in the land.
During The Great Fragmentation, The Martial Artists made their stronghold in the southern provinces where injustice and treacherous acts were abundant. With the help of beggars, the Martial Artists attacked corrupted scholar officials and redistributed their loot to the poor and innocent.
When they saw invading forces committing atrocities against the people, the Followers launched a massive attack, which earned them the undivided loyalty of some provinces who they saved during the time of turmoil. Stories of their bravery and strength can cause enemies to quiver in fear.
Allying yourself with them is bound to let you be mighty and attack chivalrously.
Leader: Yong Wu
Born in the wilderness to nomad parents, Yong Wu is a resourceful person who has always been well acquainted with the mistreatment that the poor faced. To survive, he adopted a cunning mind and charming persona. After witnessing the continued injustice that the poor suffer at the hands of corrupt officials and bloodthirsty generals, Yong Wu swore to protect everyone that he could. To do so, he recruited the most morally upright and fighters to his sect that would later be called “The Righteous Way”. Together with his men, Yong Wu would go to areas where the common people were senselessly massacred to protect them from their aggressors. Stories of his generosity, leadership and courage have led to men flocking to volunteer their services to his cause. He is known to be able to charm even the worst of his enemies.
The Ministry of Gold
An elite group of influential and affluent merchants, it was rumored that the Ministry of Gold was fanning the flames to encourage the Great Fragmentation in order benefit from that conflict. It is an influential force that can cause any economy to crumble or soar.
The Merchants of the Ministry will be friends with anyone who can make them either a good trade or do them a favor. A little help here, some negotiation there - Merchants will reciprocate the actions that warlords have bestowed on them. Allies have found a remarkable increases in the in their provincial coffers while watching enemy economies mysteriously crumbling.
Merchants and scholars have a long relationship of mutual-manipulation where ideas are exchanged to develop faster trading patterns. However, this love does not extend to the Beggars of The Outstretched Hand. Beggars have been disliked on principle of economic status, with their past exploits causing massive economic losses to the Merchants.
Leader: Wan Zhu
Wan Zhu – a man disliked but needed by most. He survives by being unbelievably resourceful – people approach him with favors that they deem impossible, only to have him delivering his promise the next day. Unless his coffers would somehow be affected, Wan Zhu does not care what happens to the world. He values transactional relationships greatly. As such, Wan Zhu set up the Ministry of Gold to protect the rights of people he is friends with when the merchants were made scapegoats of the failings of the old dynasty. Despite his shortcomings, Wan Zhu was against the battles that happened during the Great Fragmentation. However, this sentiment disappeared after realising that there was much money to be made from war. Wan Zhu is a formidable force when provoked – he is willing to spend much resources and even enlist the help of his friends to destroy foes.
The Azure Scroll
A group of closely bonded intellectuals, scholars of the Azure Scroll are a reclusive group who will only surface to demonstrate a their latest weapons and proven stratagem. They are otherwise oblivious to the conflicts of the world, but will stop at nothing in their quest of obtaining more knowledge.
Their participation in the Great Fragmentation was limited to trying out their newly created weapons and theorised stratagem. Leaders possessing great foresight have provided them with favors in return for new machinery and weaponry that were used to great effect in the war. Allies have also benefited by learning new battle strategies and effective building construction management techniques.
The Merchants’ ability to procure rare weapons and military scripts from other parts of the world have allowed them to stay in favor with The Azure Scroll. Being elitarian, the Scholars carefully select those that they deem intelligent enough to understand their secrets and skills. As such, they Martial Art “brutes” are regarded with disdain.
Leader: Wu Dao
Wu Dao spent an entire childhood being mocked at by his classmates in the imperial academies for his weaker physique and dismal martial arts skills. As such, he spent much effort acquiring knowledge in order to make his mark in the world. He would one day triumph over his beefy counterparts by creating weapons that were highly sought after by many. With this he finally got his wishes of being a respected person. During the Great Fragmentation, Wu Dao supposedly discovered a saffron scroll containing rare and powerful information. In order to protect that scroll and research further to unlock its full potential, Wu Dao founded the Azure Scroll – an elite organization that accepted only the greatest and unusual minds. Through his organization, Wu Dao amassed a legendary collection of doctrines that for the right reimbursement, he’s willing to sell or trade with.
The Sages under Heaven
The monks have always regarded the Great Fragmentation as a sign of great displeasure from heavens. Believing themselves to be the messengers of heaven, they strive to bring peace and offer balance to the world. Thus, war-weary rulers and officials have sought refuge and asked for advice at the abodes of the Sages under Heaven.
Monks of The Sages under Heaven have much sway with the people of the world. From mediation to negotiation, the Sages under Heaven have always played an important role in preventing war from escalating. Leaders who achieve their respect will witness their influence amongst fellow warlords growing exponentially. As a result, their provinces have a higher chance of attaining peace.
Past leaders and even other societies have tried to win their favour, but they have all failed. The monks remain the only beacon of neutrality and peace in times of turmoil.
Leader: Yi Tong
It was rumored that when Yi Tong was born, even the sky shined golden for a day. Despite being treated like a deity by many of the population, Yi Tong still retains his humility. Instead, he regards himself as the bearer of peace and frequently preaches about the virtue of harmony and mutual understanding. At the age of 18, Yi Tong became the Holy Leader of the Sages under Heaven. In that position, he started campaigns where followers would roam the lands acting as peacekeepers and messages of peace. However, this does not mean that Yi Tong is weak. During the Great Fragmentation, he led his monks in a massive assault against the invading forces. Accounts of the strategies he used in that battle are even being studied by generations of apprentice monks. Till this day, he is widely respected and sought after for advice on maintaining peace.
The Outstretched Hand
One would require extraordinary levels of intelligence and astute observational skills to even realise the presence of the Beggars. In exchange for information or the completion of unspeakable tasks, Beggars demand a reward of inside information and resources for their self-sustenance.
The legends have it that Beggars were hired by ambitious court ladies to covertly wreck and pilfer the lands of conservative and opposing officials during the Great Fragmentation. Warlords suddenly disappearing and announcing defeat, city waters being polluted, troop locations being reveals - these are but a few instances where beggars were rumoured to have intervened.
Beggars occasionally exchange fighting strategies with the Martial Artists, leading to a powerful coalition - if only their whereabouts weren't so secretive.
Except for a rare sighting of their leader, no one knows who they are, where they are, and how they are contacted. People only see their faces a moment before death.
Leader: Hua Lian
There have been no records of Hua Lian’s past and all that is known about the man was his gender. There have been rumors of him being a powerful but honest court official who was eventually framed for a crime, which led to him being exiled from the lands. The Old Dynasty thus lost one of its cleverest and righteous officials in a moment of folly. People say that Hua Lian founded the Outstretched Hand as a governmental resistance organisation out of revenge. However, it eventually ended up being a place for people with great information and dark pasts to hideout at. This society has now become very elite – only those with valuable information, wits and the cunning ability to eliminate their opponents will be allowed entry. Disguised as beggars, his followers are able to pass undetected into different provinces and carry out shady missions. Hua Lian is rumored to be adept at infiltrating places and then assassinating people who are deeply associated with the Old Dynasty.