31 days fic:
Title: Learning Curve
Day: February 8: "Accursed be he that first invented war"
Characters/Pairing: Helu, Wu Zi Xu, Gou JIan
To make a nation great and strong one subdues other nations, killing their men and weakening their strength. Helu of Wu knows this with his bones and blood. Watching the battle from afar he rejoices in the sound of war drums, the clash of weapons, the hiss of arrows and the pounding of hoofs. He goes to war in pride and glory, knowing that not all who follow him will return. Victory is bought at the price of men's lives, as everyone knows. That he might pay the price himself one day is not in his reckoning.
Wu Zi Xu regards war from the standpoint of policy, carefully planned with sufficient forethought. To make a nation great and strong one subdues other nations, taking their wealth and demanding their fealty, as has always been the custom. He gives his king grave advice about the countries that Wu wars against. But in his heart there is a ravening tiger, ever in search of fresh victims and fresh slaughter. Where no enemy exists Wu Zi Xu's tiger creates one, to bring about the destruction he loves. He never imagines that the tiger might one day turn on himself and rend him apart.
To make a nation great and strong one subdues other nations. Gou Jian doesn't question Wu Zi Xu's ways or King Helu's. It's a matter of kill or be killed, eat or be eaten, and glory awaits the one who wins. Only when he's experienced what awaits the one who loses does he think again. To make a nation great and strong one must grow crops and increase the population. Therefore the king will abate taxes and live no better than his people, so that his people may harvest their grain and raise their children. And when the grain and the sons and daughters are grown, the king sets forth to kill the tiger and end the sound of war chariots forever.