P E R S O N A L D E T A I L S
Full Name - "Julian Baker"
Age - 14
Gender - Female, disguised as Male
Heritage - Unknown. Claims to be a commoner refugee.
Magical Affinity - None. Absolutely hopeless with all four elements.
P E R S O N A L I T Y
Just a Little Bit Shy
The first impression one tends to get of "Julian," is that "he" is a very quiet and reclusive person. This couldn't be farther from the truth, but, since it helps with her disguise, the girl behind the act doesn't necessarily do much to dissuade people from this opinion at first -- at least, not intentionally. Put simply, she doesn't really go out of her way to draw attention to herself, and even if she wanted to... well, truth be told, she's not exactly the most experienced at dealing with boys. Anyone would be a little awkward in her shoes, right? So, she generally doesn't really speak unless spoken to, unless there's something she absolutely can't stand, or if she's in the company of those she regards as dear friends.
Compensating for Nothing
...Which turns out to be a lot of things, surprisingly. It wasn't necessarily her intention to play her character as an insecure brat with a Napoleon complex, but, well, she fits the role perfectly. Her fears of being outed as a girl translate surprisingly well to the insecurities that a particularly girlish boy of her age would probably have, and she tends to react with outrage whenever somebody makes fun of her for being small, or for her somewhat delicate features. This means that it's not only easy to rile her up, but also pretty easy to get her to do some rather stupid things, since, once challenged, she's usually all too eager to prove her masculinity. In order to fit in amongst men, you have to be the manliest of them all! Well, she probably read something like that once, at any rate, and so thinks she's being perfectly normal, but her exaggerated character tends to just make her seem like a brat.
Her only barely hidden bluster and vigor, and only barely contained childish curiosity aren't necessarily bad traits, though. To those who approach her first, even if they tease her a bit, she's capable of being surprisingly amicable, seeming to just relish the fact that people are actually willing to talk to her at all, so long as they're at least mostly well-meaning. "Julian" is the type of person to change moods quickly, going from righteous indignation to joking and teasing right back with a great big grin in the blink of an eye. Forgive, forget, and forge ahead is her way of life, and despite how many layers of secrecy she's currently living under, for the most part she just follows her heart and hopes for the best.
She's blunt, but honest and charming in her own way, finding ways to appreciate something about almost anybody -- even those who most would disregard or deride as useless. If somebody has a unique talent, you can bet she'll dig it up and praise it for all it's worth, even if the person in question never even noticed they had it. Everyone everywhere has at least one lesson to teach, and she's all too eager to learn.
Still, even she has her lines she won't cross. With a strong sense of justice, she absolutely can't stand cruelty or injustice, and, like a little Don Quixote, will do her darndest to right just about any wrongs she encounters. And if you ask her why, well...
"Because, a Knight is supposed to be a hero!"
S K I L L S E T
That's Not How a Knight Should Fight!
"Julian" is, perhaps unsurprisingly, woefully underequipped to actually become a knight. She possesses no training in how to fight or use weapons of any kind -- or at least, no training more extensive than valiantly and enthusiastically swinging sticks to slay imaginary ogres. What's more, her physical strength is laughable, and, although she's at least rather flexible and somewhat light on her feet, that doesn't actually help too much at keeping up with the scions of noble houses who've been training in swordsmanship practically since they could walk. But, she has to win somehow, otherwise she'll never be able to achieve her goals -- and what she does have going for her is a surfeit of determination. So, she's just got to even the playing field, right?
...Practically speaking, this means she fights in a manner so dirty and dishonorable that even an angry drunkard in Grayle's filthiest slums would blush and look away. Cheap shots to the groin, fistfuls of sand, spitting in eyes, biting hands, and pulling hair -- she does it all with the sort of gusto and desperation that can only come from having a dream you must fulfill at all costs.
Wasn't a Knight supposed to be a hero, Julian?
Didn't Hear No Bell
As mentioned above, what "Julian" lacks in skill -- as she's completely hopeless at both swordsmanship and magic -- she makes up for with sheer tenacity. Surprisingly, for someone so scrawny and lacking in physical ability, her stamina is quite good, and so long as she paces herself, she can keep pushing ahead without tiring herself out -- though she may look like she's about to collapse at any given moment despite her stubborn insistence on continuing. What's more, her tolerance for pain is surprisingly high for somebody so small -- though given that she claims to be a refugee and fights like a gutter urchin, that probably comes as no surprise for most of her fellow cadets.
At any rate, what all this boils down to is that she might get slapped around and knocked on her butt, but like a bad penny, she just keeps coming back. Which is... actually kind of worrying, given how blase she seems to be about getting herself injured, and how quickly she ends up back on her feet when really, maybe she should just lie down. Determination and the desire to achieve one's dreams is good, but one doesn't become a knight in a day -- and trying to push yourself hard enough to catch up with those who have several years of a head start will only end in tragedy.
How can one be so clueless and so sharp at the same time? Looking at Julian inside and outside of the arena, one could swear that she's two different people. In her day to day life, she's... unspeakably dense, to the point it'd be easy to write her off as a fool and be done with it. Yet in her training, as her squadmates have quickly had the misfortune to learn, she can be shockingly manipulative -- feigning fear or weakness to get her opponents to underestimate her only to bring them to their knees with a ruthless surprise attack, or making false starts and distracting motions to hide her real intentions as she palms a hidden weapon. But that begs the question -- how can she read her opponents well enough to play them like a fiddle when she can't even read the room?
She's certainly not telling, regardless. But one thing's for sure -- whoever taught her to fight clearly had a mean streak more than wide enough to cover for her own bumbling naivete.
There are some girls who could, perhaps, pass easily as a boy of about the same age. And "Julian" is... just barely one of them, but probably not for the right reasons. She's perhaps the shortest cadet in any of the Four Houses, let alone just her own, and is quite scrawny to boot, in some places having barely any meat on her bones. She stubbornly insists that she'll get taller and she's just a late bloomer, but actually fears that these claims may be true, since she's only recently started growing in ways that, given her current predicament, she'd really rather not. She doesn't need curves, she needs muscle!
But, for the time being at least, just binding her chest and adding some padding around her thin waist has at least managed to fit her into her new uniform without quite looking like a child wearing her father's clothes, so that's... better than nothing. And, given that her cover story of being a street urchin is pretty well known after a rather... memorable debut spar, most people for now write off her frail, petite build as the results of undernourishment. Which, technically speaking... isn't untrue? Yeah, let's just go with that. The best lies always have at least a grain of truth to them, after all.
Her face, thankfully, benefits from rather strongly defined cheekbones, which, with her hair cut short and messed up properly, makes her look at least passably masculine, though her long eyelashes are somewhat less than desirable in this regard. At any rate, she's got a few more years where her youthfulness will help her go unnoticed before her real gender becomes obvious, so she'll surely be able to figure something out in that time... right?
The oddest thing about her appearance, however, is that... well... lustrous golden-blonde hair and eyes as blue as a clear summer sky aren't exactly features one normally associates with commoners, let alone with homeless ruffian children from the frontier. She's scrawny, yes -- but she really doesn't look mangy enough to fit the part she's set out for herself. But then, if she's a disguised noble, why would she look like she got half-starved at some point? Is she secretly an unwanted child of some high aristocrat? Maybe an Alexandrian fugitive on the run from the Sages' Tower? It's just enough of an abnormality that it makes her the source of some... shall we say, unique rumors, but she usually just laughs such things off. After all, that'd be ridiculous, right? Almost as ridiculous as a girl pretending to be a boy as part of some childhood dream of being a hero.
Too unfortunate to be a proper noble, too refined to be some nameless pauper, too honest to sell her lies quite as convincingly as she'd like, and too... female to fulfill her dreams, Julian appears to be many things, while embodying none of them. She isn't what she seems, and is what she doesn't, and just when you might think you know the truth about her... Well, let's just say she's full of surprises.
Whenever the Knights open for recruitment, they always end up with a few odd ducks. Cadets with conveniently unverifiable pasts applying under obvious pseudonyms are more common than one might think, and the order -- despite its reputation for taking all comers -- does its due diligence in confirming that they're not a threat. Cadets are often treated in a very hands-off manner during their initial days in training, to encourage them to relax and let their guard down -- all while being shadowed and observed quite carefully for any signs of danger. Some end up being criminals trying to make a break from their old lives, others spies from foreign countries looking for information on the inner workings of the order -- these undesirables tend to swiftly find their way to a nice, dark cell, and, for the most part, none of their fellows notice that one out of the many has stopped showing up.
Of course, the girl now known by the name "Julian" didn't know any of that. All she knew was that her name, her past, her very self -- such things were more of a burden than they were a blessing. She needed shelter -- a place where nobody would ever find her. A place where she could truly be herself. A place where she could make her dreams come true. In this sense, her motives for joining the Knights were wholly selfish and contemptible... But on the other hand, she really did want to help people -- to make a difference. Her earnest devotion wasn't a lie -- and it was this dedication, perhaps, that stayed the hands of those who would otherwise be inclined to banish a suspicious, noble-looking youth with an obvious fake identity. That's not to say that she isn't still under some degree of scrutiny, or that she's favored by any means, but... well, she has a chance, and though she's blissfully unaware of the full extent of the risks she's already undertaken, she's determined not to waste it.
And so, it was quietly, discreetly passed along. "Julian" is a child from the border regions, and things tend to get lost there. Things... and people. So, it's fine if there's no record of a Julian Baker, or if he can't easily say what town he comes from, or if it turns out that he's fully literate despite only being a baker's second son. Whoever he might be, whatever name he might have borne -- he's Julian Baker now, so until he does something to deserve a second look, we'll humor him for now, and make the best use of him we can. He'll probably drop out anyway, so why worry about it?
If only they knew.
It's a dubious honor, to be sure, but a Null -- the opposite of an Absolute, being someone who doesn't have even a single elemental affinity -- is actually almost as rare! So, in a way, the fact that she can't use any of the four elements is actually pretty unique.
...Look, sometimes, you just have to look on the bright side.