For those not familiar with Dynasty Warriors and the Three Kingdoms Era, here's the basic gist of it:
At the end of the second century, the Han Dynasty's power is fading. Among those attempting to take advantage of the turmoil for personal game is the nobleman Dong Zhuo. He usurps the throne and places a puppet emperor on the throne. A coalition is formed to stop him but infighing amongst the warlords tears the alliance apart.
A member of the court, Wang Yun, manipulates Dong Zhuo's adopted son, Lu Bu, into betraying and killing the tyrant (typically depicted as using his possibly fictional adopted daughter, Diaochan, to win Lu Bu over).
Diaochan - Lu Bu's lover who used him to slay Dong Zhuo. Stays with him until his death. Wields a chain whip.
Dong Zhuo - Slovenly tyrant who desires a personal paradise of food, women and wine. Often abducts women in the games. Wields bombs.
Lu Bu - Dong Zhuo's adopted son and chief enforcer. Falls in love with Diaochan and asassinates Dong Zhuo for her sake. Wields a halberd.
Zhang Liao - Servant of Dong Zhuo and ally of Lu Bu. Joins Lu Bu after Dong Zhuo's death. Wields dual axes.
Zuo Ci - An old hermit and alleged mystic. Wields mystical paper charms.
Zhenji - Wife of Yuan Shao's son Yuan Xi. Later marries Cao Cao's son, Cao Pi after the fall of the Yuans. Wields a magical flute.
"Are you alright, my dear?" asked the fat swine as he approached Diaochan, no real concern for her well-being in his voice; merely lust for her beautiful form. "Did that brute bring you to harm?" he asked, kicking the corpse before him.
"N-No, Lord Dong Zhuo," Diaochan replied, still stunned by what had happened.
Her father's plan had been perfect: gain the affections of the despot and his adopted son to drive them apart. Her beauty was renowned throughout the land, so of course it had worked; both Dong Zhuo and Lu Bu had both fallen for her charms completely. Lu Bu, in particular, was quite driven to make her wishes come true. She had told the mighty warrior that Dong Zhuo had abused her in ways she could not speak of. The enraged Lu Bu had then staged a revolt in Chang'an, along with many others whom were discontent with Dong Zhuo's reign of tyranny. But Dong Zhuo's men had been waiting.
Dong Zhuo kicked the corpse of Lu Bu, freshly slain at the hands of his former ally and equal, Zhang Liao.
The plan had failed. The despot still reigned. Caught in a potentially precarious situation if the truth were to be found out, Diaochan had to maintain the façade. Keeping to her role, as little as she wished to, she moved closer to Dong Zhuo, embracing his disgusting body as a lover would. "I was so afraid for you, my lord," she said, lying with expertise as she looked at him with a simulation of concern on her face.
"That Lu Bu should have known better than to attack me in my own home," the tyrant growled, gazing with contempt at the lifeless body on the ground. "I want him to be disgraced in death. Tell lies about his deeds, make him look like a coward. I want the people to know the truth behind this stupid and insolent man," he said, grinning at his own selfish desire as he then eyed Diaochan with other desires on his mind.
Due to the failed plot, the people and the courts feared the tyrant's power more than ever. Some still rose in opposition to the despot's rule, but they were few and far between. Yuan Shao consolidated his power base in the north, Sun Jian in the south, Cao Cao in the central plains. Unfortunately, it seemed that the failure of the previous coalition was still fresh in their minds, as none made a move to work together. Diaochan could only hope one of them would prove capable enough to defeat Dong Zhuo's army, powerful though it may be.
Days passed as she tried to make herself scarce, feigning helplessness and stress due to recent events. The potential of getting caught or making a false move paralyzing her with fear, it grew harder and harder to appear as if she had nothing to hide. Dong Zhuo's pride and inability to perceive what went on under his nose helping her, she knew that those traits of his would eventually prove to be unreliable in the long run. She needed something, an edge of some sort to move on with a new plan.
She managed to get by with the claim that she had heard of Lu Bu's intent and had seduced him into being reckless, allowing Dong Zhuo's forces to slay him. Dong Zhuo fell for the ruse and allowed her to live, though she suspected Zhang Liao and Li Ru were not entirely convinced.
She needed allies. People like her whom despised Dong Zhuo, who would be willing to aid her in assassinating the swine. There were a few she could think of; Cao Cao came to mind quickly, given how she had helped him escape Luoyang after his own failed attempt to assassinate Dong Zhuo. Yuan Shao, Sun Jian, even this Liu Bei she had heard of. Dong Zhuo's enemies were many, though convincing them of her allegiance to the Han may prove difficult.
Her opportunity came when she was summoned to Dong Zhuo's quarters.
"You wished to see me, my lord?" Diaochan asked politely as she took her seat before him.
"Yes, my dear. I'm sure you've heard that I will soon be engaging Yuan Shao's forces in battle."
"Yes, my lord."
"When I do so, his home will be mostly undefended. During this time, I want you to travel to his home and bring me Lady Zhen."
"Yuan Shao's daughter-in-law?"
"Yes, her. I've heard she is quite the beauty. Not quite as beautiful as you, of course, but still something special. Yuan Xi will likely be with his father's army so there's no need to worry about the angry husband stopping you."
"But, my lord, how am I to perform this task? I am not great fighter or-"
Dong Zhuo held up a hand to stop her.
"You managed to convince Lu Bu, did you not? If one as powerful as he fell at your feet, surely any other weak-minded fool would."
"But... Lady Zhen is a woman."
"Your beauty overcomes the boundaries of sex. Even women cannot help but be seduced by your charms. Isn‘t that right?" The question was aimed at the attending handmaidens.
"Yes, my lord," one of them replied in fear. "I am helpless before Lady Diaochan’s charms."
"I... Very well, my lord. It shall be done."
"Gwahahahaha! Excellent! I shall hold a feast for you upon your return!"
Diaochan returned to her quarters to contemplate her next move. While she knew that her beauty was supposedly unrivalled, it was clear that she could not simply seduce any women she met just like that. It would be pure folly to even think that she could win over enemy women with grace and allure. Still, this was what Dong Zhuo wanted and to refuse him would be quite dangerous.
Left to her thoughts, she began to despair as even trying to talk about her plans to those women would result in failure. No one would believe her, especially if she infiltrated their home. She was Dong Zhuo's plaything and no one would trust anything she would say at face value. Feeling tears well up as strongly as they had the night Lu Bu died, destiny took charge of things as an unexpected visitor greeted her, standing at the other side of her room.
As she noticed a shadow cast across the wooden floor, Diaochan looked up at the man before her. He was an elderly gentleman, with odd facial markings and the clothing of a mystic. "Greetings, my dear," he said with a deep bow. "My name is Zuo Ci. I understand you seek to slay the tyrant, Dong Zhuo. I have come from the Mystic Realm to offer my assistance in your task.
Stupefied by the fact that she had not noticed this stranger enter the room, and also afraid because he knew what her plans were regarding Dong Zhuo, Diaochan feared that this was not a mystic, but an assassin in disguise.
"I…I have no idea what you-"
The old man held up a hand. "Please, there is no need for lies among those sympathetic to your goals."
The young lady took hold of her chain whip and brandished it threateningly. "If you actually are just a mystic, then begone. I have no need for false magic and poor advice-"
"If I leave now, how do you propose to go about convincing a strong-willed woman such as Yuan Xi’s wife to follow you to Dong Zhuo?" the mystic asked with a hint of slyness masked in sincerity.
Right there and then, Diaochan could have simply called the guards. There was no point, after all, in trying to take him down by herself in a place where everyone would rush in to help her for fear of retribution from Dong Zhuo if she came to harm. The man was alone, seemingly without any weapon and in a dangerous place. There was but one thing that did hold that thought at bay though: curiosity. What if he had actually a plan or method that would benefit her? She risked nothing by listening to him. If she did not like what he said, she still held all the cards. "Say your piece, then," she said, lowering her guard, though still gripping her weapon.
"Thank you," the man said with another bow. "I offer you a special power; one that might aid you in both your current task, and your long-term goal as well."
Diaochan, curiosity overcoming caution, asked him, "What kind of 'power'?"
"One that will enhance your already legendary dancing skills to a level that will completely enrapture all who see it, man or woman."
"How is that possible? How can you make a woman find another woman attractive as a man does?"
"That, my dear... is the power of my arcane arts."
"Yes. It is the will of the heavens themselves that Dong Zhuo be slain, and you have been chosen to receive my assistance. If you agree, I shall grant you the power to achieve your late father's dream."
She did not want to be a puppet to any other person or for her actions to be influenced by any other will than her own. However, her situation, from her own point of view, was critical. She was stressed, desperate and in dire need of any help she could find. While she did not entirely believe this offer of his, she could not push away any assistance, especially if this power of his turned out to be true. At this point, she did not have much to lose. "And how do you propose to teach me this power?" she asked, her curiosity taking precedence over her better judgment.
"That is simple," the mystic replied, producing a paper charm. "I simply place this charm onto your skin and the power will be yours."
"Surely it cannot be that simple."
"Oh, but for a denizen of the mystic realm, it is."
With that, Zuo Ci stepped forward and pressed the charm against her exposed stomach. At this range, Diaochan could finally see the characters written upon the paper:
Diaochan felt strange as the paper seemed to pass through her skin, leaving behind only the two characters on her stomach, glowing a hot pink.
Diaochan’s eyes rolled back in her head as information entered her mind, to be accessed when she would have use of it. After a few moments, Diaochan’s eyes returned to normal and the two characters faded away, leaving her somewhat light-headed and confused.
"It is done," Zuo Ci declared.
Stunned by the display of actual magic before of her, Diaochan stared at her stomach for a few seconds. The paper and the sign was nowhere to be seen, yet there was a slight tingling sensation on her skin. Touching it gently, she then looked at the strange, yet surprisingly honest old man. "W-What did you do?"
"I have simply done as I promised. Your dance is now blessed by the heavens. Go now and embrace your destiny." With that, Zuo Ci calmly walked across the room and exited through the wall.
Seeing this sight, Diaochan fainted.
A few days later, Diaochan and her small entourage were approaching their destination by carriage. She was still unsure how to proceed, but thought that the claim of a peace offering might suffice for a while.
When she had woken up from her fainting spell, the mystic had long been gone, leaving her wondering about what exactly he had done. The sign on her stomach was no longer visible, making her worry about what had happened to her. If there was a magic word or some gestures she had to use to activate this special power he had given her, she knew neither. All that she knew was that it was somehow connected to her dancing skills. Whether it was any dance or a specific one that was required, she no idea. Still, if she was lucky, her peace offering would be taken seriously and she would not have to make a fool of herself trying to use this unknown power of hers. Trying to focus, she gazed at her destination as it grew closer and closer.
She arrived at the castle Lady Zhen was staying at and was granted an audience, likely to maintain the good name of the Yuans. Diaochan was brought to a room to await Lady Zhen's arrival.
Her servants were with her, preparing and reassuring her. While it did look like a very straightforward conversation about peace, there was still much doubt about her abilities and worry about how little she knew about what Zuo Ci had done to her, which made it difficult for Diaochan to concentrate. She was a dancer, not a politician. Many considered her to be but a simple, yet beautiful toy for Dong Zhuo, giving her an advantage over simple-minded fools, but she knew quite well that she was not in a den of fools.
Observed by one of Lady Zhen's servants standing close to the door, she knew that anything that would happen in this room would be reported to her host’s family. Offers of peace in wartime put everyone on edge, it seemed. Seeing the servant quit the room, she knew that it was only a matter of time until Lady Zhen would arrive. If she was lucky enough, they would realize that she had no weapons, nor anything that could harm the one she wished to talk to.
Lady Zhen arrived soon after. Diaochan could see why Dong Zhuo desired this mature beauty in his harem. She wore a yellow dress that exposed one stocking-clad leg and her yellow high heels. She wore fishnets gloves and carried a flute with her, her signature weapon when out on the battlefield. Finding it rather ironic that Lady Zhen approached her with a musical instrument, Diaochan then rose as to greet her like a peace envoy should.
"I thank you for granting me this audience, Lady Zhen."
Lady Zhen's reaction was instantaneous. The look of utter contempt she bore shocked Diaochan. She clearly had no desire to speak with Diaochan, only doing so to not disgrace her husband's name.
“Leave us,” Lady Zhen commanded her servants. After a moment’s hesitation, they obeyed. Diaochan nodded to her own servants, indicating that they should do the same.
Once the two were alone, Lady Zhen finally addressed Diaochan. "You should know," she said, her tone reflecting her expression, "that the Yuan Family has no desire to negotiate with that tyrant. Out of respect to my lord husband, I shall hear what you have to say, but we will not negotiate with that foul swine."
While she anticipated some hostility, Diaochan had hoped that things would be perhaps a tad more civil in the beginnings. With such a brilliant start, she began to theorize that perhaps Lady Zhen had only agreed to speak with her to throw unpleasantness at her for an extended period of time. Irritated, yet still maintaining an air of friendliness, the envoy from Dong Zhuo calmly responded as she looked at Lady Zhen. "Very well. I had hoped that we could have begun in a more friendly, or at the very least more diplomatic manner, but I do understand the reason why you would be so against the very idea I came here to represent."
"Of course, I'm against it," Lady Zhen replied in a haughty tone. "Your master is a slovenly pig whom the entire court holds in contempt. As we speak, Lord Yuan Shao will be dispatching that pig's army, making your coming here pointless in addition to being offensive.”
Seeing that she had guessed correctly about the purpose of this meeting, Diaochan could not restrain herself from showing irritation on her face. She could understand why she was meeting resistance and insults, but she would not entertain the idea of being threatened and bad-mouthed when she actually had benevolent intentions. Rising up, she then gave a stern look at the lady in front of her. "I was hoping for something a little more amiable, perhaps even reasonable considering the sad state of this war and what it does to many, including the both of us. However, it seems that words are meaningless right now..." she said as she began to play with the silken frills on her dress as though she was about to start dancing.
"H-How dare you!?" Lady Zhen exclaimed.
"I dare because I must,” Diaochan retorted. “You are the one who knew just what kind of person you were letting in and I was ready to actually try my best for everyone's sake. However, it seems you do not wish to cooperate..." Her frill manipulation became more intricate as she began to twirl around. As if possessed by an otherworldly energy, her instincts took over her as she began to dance. Starting with small movements, she could feel as if the skin on her stomach was burning with a need to do something, to move in order to unleash something that was still a mystery to her.
Zhenji, mostly confounded at the audacity of this trophy woman, stared in disbelief for a brief moment. Who was this dancer that deigned to think herself a diplomat? Why was this Diaochan so ignorant of the proper etiquette and of how the land itself perceived her? Lost amidst these thoughts, Zhen nonetheless kept on watching this graceful depravity in front of her, too dumbstruck to even voice a protest.
Diaochan, seeing hatred and contempt on the face of the one she was performing for, nonetheless soldiered on. If the mystic had actually done something to her dance, she would need to test it somehow. Her feet guiding her as if controlled by both instinct and fate, she took small steps as her hips swayed and her hands played along with a long perfumed silk scarf. The skin on her belly crawling with an energy that rushed her to dance as if there was no tomorrow, the beautiful dancer simply went on as she twirled around and made small hips bump as if to shake off this mysterious heat she was producing. Lost in the ecstasy of this dance, the climax of this sensation eventually arrived as the symbol Zuo Ci had implanted on her stomach made itself known in blazing glory, noticed only by Diaochan’s host.
Lady Zhen, seeing this eruption of surging power, saw her expression change from anger to neutral, as if she was no longer the mistress of her own emotions, and her appreciation of what was happening grew. Her pupils reflecting the symbol, something impossible forbade her to look away, as if the heavens themselves would strike her down for daring to do so. Remaining silent, her eyes were glued to dancer, the allure of her movements never lost to the spell-bound lady.
Diaochan, feeling an intense need to continue dancing, began to smile as this brought her to a new level in terms of grace and allure. Confidence emanating from every pore of her skin, her body was talking a whole new language as the fiery sign on her stomach radiated power that she had no idea existed. Seeing the change in attitude of her host, the alluring dancer began to understand what exactly was happening. She had a certain amount of control, somehow, as indicated by the signification of the powerful symbol she was adorned with. The calmness of Lady Zhen, her neutral expression and how her pupils had changed were indicative that something about her dancing had changed and soothed her. Gone was the irritable and defiant woman, replaced with a more complacent one. However, Diaochan just had to see if she could perhaps change this attitude to one more beneficial to her. "What do you think of my dance, Lady Zhen? Is it not beautiful?" she asked, a small grin forming on her delicate lips.
Her pupils blazing brightly for half a second, Zhenji felt a powerful urge to answer this question, no matter how playful or taunting it seemed to be. What had been said a few minutes ago mattered not now. All that mattered was telling Diaochan the truth. Not letting her gaze slip away from the superb dance for even a second, the noble lady responded with an earnest, yet utterly calm and peaceful tone. "Never have I seen something as beautiful as this dance. Not even the greatest gardens or the fairest maidens can compare to how this simply soothes my heart and soul..." she responded, earnestly meaning every word of it.
"Do you feel safe while you see my dance? Do you feel as if nothing bad could ever happen when you’re with me?'' the dancer asked, sending her silk scarf close to the lady's nose whilst twirling her belly inches before her face.
"I feel... I feel like you could do me no wrong. Nothing you do or say could ever harm me. I believe... I believe that if I stay close to you and trust in your words, I will be... happy," Zhenji answered, the few twirling motions making her grasp for her words. Her mind overwhelmed by this unexpectedly powerful beauty, the noble lady could simply not fathom anything negative surrounding this dancer now, even if she wanted to.
Rippling her stomach as she spun around Zhenji, Diaochan simply basked in this feeling of utter glory. As if the sky and earth bowed down to her skills as a dancer, it seemed that she was unstoppable in this moment. Her skin brushing against Zhenji as if to tease her, she did so gently as the small moans of confusion encouraged her to go further with what she was attempting.
"Do you feel sorry for how badly you treated me when I first arrived here? Do you want to make amends for your wrongdoings?" she asked, stopping right before her enraptured host as she circled her fingers inches before her stomach to emphasize the warm and omnipresent control she had over the helpless woman before her.
"Yes. More than anything. I want to make it so you are pleased with me," the mesmerized woman responded, the symbols in her eyes now burning constantly as her thoughts were twisted around by desires that had been non-existent a few moments ago.
"Then follow me obey me. I have plans for you and it requires that you pledge yourself to me, mind, body and soul. Do so and I shall forgive you and allow you to bask in my presence," Diaochan offered, the pleasure she took from this reaching a whole new level as she looked down at the enthralled woman.
The offer sounding like a gift from heaven to Zhenji, she then looked up at the dancer not as a mere guest, but as her mistress. Unworthy of her attention, she would nonetheless be allowed to make things right, which bombarded her with glee that was created by the spell she was now under. Words failing her, her desires guided her as her eyes were still set on the belly and the symbol upon it that had enraptured her spirit so completely.
Diaochan smiled as she lifted Zhenji's chin with one finger so that they were now face-to-face. Looking at her prey now silent and strangely soothed, things would be much easier for her from now on...