Distant Lands

Distant Lands

Inspired by the Earliest Historians at the Edges of the Known World
Inspired by the Earliest Historians at the Edges of the Known World
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P'eng Lai

P'eng Lai

         Once the First Emperor of China had subdued the Warring States and united them into one kingdom, Qin Shi Huang turned his thoughts to his legacy.  Building the longest wall in history across the Northern wastes to protect from foreign invaders was not enough.  Nor that his tomb encompass an army of terracotta warriors, hundreds of chariots and horses cast in bronze, battalions of crossbowmen and archers, the bodies of the builders buried in sacrifice.  Qin Shi Huang wanted to live forever.

         The Emperor sought advice from the sages on the secrets of immortality.  After conferring with the Classic of Mountains and Seas, an enterprising court sorcerer named Hsu Fu discovered the location of the wizard Anqi Sheng on the Islands of the Eight Immortals at the edges of the Bohai Sea.  Rumors spoke of P'eng Lai Mountain as a mystic land of pure white where pain did not exist and winter never came - where the Immortals lived in palaces of platinum and gold.  Launched with an armada of sixty boats carrying 5,000 crew and artisans as well as 3,000 children, Hsu Fu was charged with finding Anqi and securing the elixir of life.

         Nine years later, Hsu Fu returned in a single ship with tales of a giant sea monster blocking the path to the Islands, and requesting archers to defeat the monster.  Setting sail once more with thousands of archers, Hsu Fu departed and was never seen again in China. It is widely believed he sailed east and founded modern Japan, where he is known and revered as Xu Fu.

Ironically, the Emperor himself passed on later that year in Shaqiu prefecture while touring his vast empire.  It is said he died from ingesting mercury pills, the very prescription of his alchemists for everlasting life.

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