Nearing the end of his life, the king of Vivell has realized that he has no heirs to pass his power to after he passes. So, he did what any reasonable person would do, and made Eloise, their most trusted servant, their heir. Suddenly forced into the limelight, Eloise must adjust to their newfound position of power and the politics and responsibilities that come with it. This decision has caused a stir among the other nobles, advisors, and those who had a vested interest in gaining power for themselves.
Thankfully (or maybe not), the new queen has been appointed some help.
S E T T I N G
Vivell is an economically strong kingdom due to its prime location at the nexus of the three kingdoms that surround its borders, meaning that there are plenty of major routes and crossroads taken by merchants, royals and commoners alike. Despite how it does not have any coastal claims, a major riverway that defines its northern border provides ample fishing opportunities. Rich land in the south was divided by King Linus early in his reign amongst nobles who, in turn, divided amongst farmers that they are in charge of. The rich forests in the west were also given to landowners to produce lumber, though a large section remains off limits to help preserve the lives that dwell in the forest, both wild and fantastical. The center of the kingdom is the key city of Minat that is almost entirely comprised of different merchant shops, both by merchants that live in the kingdom and merchants from other kingdoms given licenses to sell on Vivell lands.
Because of the division of labor created by King Linus, there is a strong noble class that has a vested interest in keeping the status quo. This also means that there is a large population of working class individuals in the kingdom, divided among the farms, forests and merchant towns. When it was announced that he was dying, nobles from across Vivell travelled to the castle - located a half day's travel north of Minat - to try and influence the king's decision in who should be the next ruler. This does not include the litany of advisors to the king who also tried to influence this decision. Now that a commoner has been made ruler, the once-bickering nobles and advisors have a common goal of keeping the state of affairs from changing.
The castle, located in a small town named Norus that is inhabited by families of the servants and knights and advisors that wish to live near the castle, sits on a sprawling property. The very edges of the property are protected by a high wall and, right behind the wall, a moat. The moat, however, is more like a miniature river in that it is home to some smaller species of fish, turtles and plant life seen along riverbanks. Guard posts are situated in intervals across the top of the wall. The castle itself sits in the center of the property, with a long, tree-covered laneway leading up to the house. The front of the castle boasts an impressive water feature and a circular drive for carriages. The castle has a traditional east and west wing, three floors, and a grand ballroom illuminated almost entirely by skylight situated at the center of the castle. Servants live in the east wing while the royal family and notable guests reside in the west wing. The entire backside of the property is covered in an extensive garden, featuring a tiny orchard and small hedge maze amongst its flora. To the east of the castle is the stables for the six horses that are the king's personal property and those that belong to the knights. The knights that protect the grounds reside in small cabins built close to the wall and most are hidden from sight by trees and other foliage.
Never before had Yan Huiyin found herself for a loss of words.
Today, that changed. From her mouth, came a sole 'uh!' sound, escaping her jaw that had dropped from pure shock. Her usually sharp mind blanked, not able to offer her any sort of retort to save face. Was she really being spoken to like this? Was this karma for even attempting small talk with this lout? Or had she perhaps truly offended him from throwing that plum? Whatever it was, she wouldn't stick around to find out. Not where she so clearly wasn't welcomed. At a moment like this, she wished she'd studied a bit harder to have been able to take him up on that offer of showing him up in a match. She jerked her chin away from his direction, not wanting to spare him a glance. If she had billowing sleeves, she surely would've shook them out in indignance. Instead, came the next best thing & so she flipped her hair with a 'hmph!' as she took her leave. What an awful day to have woken up for.
Yan Huiyin found herself lingering aimlessly in the plaza. Few crossed her path & she greeted them nicely enough, but ultimately, she was a hostage to her thoughts again.
How could that girl earlier have so thoughtlessly almost gone to the forest right after the address? Was she perhaps in there now? The thought to check did cross Yan Huiyin's mind, but... Truthfully, she was scared.
And then what? Would she follow along with a group, finding strength in numbers as she always had? What would happen when they finally came across a fruit? There was only one pit within each to present & surely they couldn't split it up; would she even have contributed enough at that point to warrant a piece?
However, the thought of going alone... It immobilized her. Every so often, she'd look toward the gatehouses & stagger. Surely, this was the true test, she thought. Finding the courage within oneself to venture into that forest. Still, couldn't she take a damn written exam? What of all the stress put onto the four arts throughout her childhood? What of the stories of those who found immortality through painting one damn picture in the mountains for over a century? What of them?!
Yan Huiyin, at this point, took to sitting on a ledge near the gatehouses. The darker it got, the more she tended to misstep on the uneven stone floor of the training grounds. To an onlooker, she was sulking, frankly. She held her cheeks with her palms, her collar up to her ears. A desolate sight, really.
"Yan Huiyin?" Speak of the damn devil, "A-Yan! Oh, it is you. Why do I keep running into you? You're gonna stop me again, huh? I-I'm gonna face you too, then..!" What was it with her sect siblings & challenging her to duels today? Just what had that elder inspired in her peers today?
Like a switch, Yan Huiyin straightened her back & breathed in deeply, feigning an appearance of having been meditating rather than moping. A faint roar echoed through the mountains. With a clear voice, she said out to the valley below, "Alright," & rose to her feet. Gently, she took the girl's hand & lead her to the gateway. Behind her was a dark, dimly-lit road to the forest & in front of her the girl.
Not a single other word left Yan Huiyin, but the meaning couldn't have been clearer.
"I, Na Jiayi, will get that fruit..!" This affirmation seemed more towards the little girl herself than for Yan Huiyin. Wordlessly, they took their formations. So that's her name, Yan Huiyin thought idly. No motion was made on Huiyin's behalf, so the smaller girl took to charging at her.
If someone else didn’t step in, surely things were going to get real ugly, real — Oh, never mind. As soon as Na Jiayi extended an arm, Yan Huiyin yanked it towards herself & twirled her into a light armlock, mindful of not letting the girl's face touch the ground. Effectively, their little spar was over. Minutely, Yan Huiyin felt herself deflate at the thought. Compared to the little match between those boys from earlier, this was nothing. Of course, that was to be expected; this girl was easily her junior. Yan Huiyan's mind immediately went the forest; would her ability be enough to face a beast on her own? Her form was clean, sufficiently practiced, but ultimately meant nothing if her opponent was severely under her own ability. A sigh escaped her. "A-Yan..." The girl, whose face was mere knuckle's length away from the ground, whined miserably.
A rather tall young man, standing at 175 cm and 60 kg.
Sun Yuzheng 孫钰铮
Second Class Disciple
The Heavenly Demonic Cult
Of the corner of passersby's eyes is when one might catch Yuzheng in his best light. He's stolid in the way he carries himself, heavy-lidded & his chin high. He city hops, hardly ever stalled in one for more than a night or two. The seeming vagrant jingles in a crowd, small gems sometimes falling behind him to mark his trail, the only assurance of him being more than a mirage. An illusive sight perhaps worthy of poem, but the mystery dies quickly over brief conversation. In truth, Yuzheng is only a youth with a penchant for decorating his person & a poor fate of being unable to raise his voice past that of a mouse.
Having spent the better half of his life within the infamous cult, its beliefs are his own & his mind is too narrow to change this, which sometimes comes at the discontent of those he's only just met. When his status as such a cultist becomes known, those who mean him genuine harm and those who simply find themselves at a loss for words become indistinguishable in his eyes; he'll find injustice where there is none & willfully rile himself up accordingly, without so much as the slightest regard for repercussions, legal or otherwise.
Yuzheng would love nothing more than to mind his own business & be spectator to the lively cities he visits, but his own pride keeps him. Yuzheng means no harm as he's a bit unworldly in his disposition; without his realizing, altruism & the well-being of those around him always finds a place to reside in his mind. Even in battle, his attacks are never so debilitating that his opponent can give up on recovery; though he's young, he's been in his fair share of engagements & his death toll remains zero even still. On a lighter note, he truly is genuine, although a bit brutish about it; if someone's mood can be improved & they'll allow him, trust him to try, though his solution might be odd.
Yuzheng relies on his actions to speak for him, as his weak voice is not able to & he hasn't bothered to train it. As a result, what often comes out of his mouth is simpleminded, sometimes inappropriately so, and often put too bluntly; his understanding of nuance & social graces is underdeveloped too. Only recently did he first breakthrough in his training, so his confidence is newly inflated. To him, it's not a matter of whether he'll come out of conflicts unscathed but, rather, how.
Up until his recent breakthrough in his martial training, Yuzheng had kept his head down & away from the public aspect of his clan, never really speaking out besides to those who had a part in raising him & focusing on his own growth above all else, as he tended to tunnel vision in his training, viewing anything else as a distraction. He was so withdrawn that it wasn't until recently that peers he'd studied with for so many years became aware of his existence; for a while, the few fellow cultists he's since become acquainted with thought he was a late transfer, despite having been born into the clan.
His young mother was a devoted cultist, dedicating her life to her people. His mother was only a minor member & without many friends, so when his mother died giving birth in the company of her only friend, a fellow cultist, the situation of the surviving child became precarious. This friend would mourn over the body of her friend, conflicted as he held the only breathing thing that remained of her. As this friend was only a girl then too, the friend saw only one thing when he gazed upon this child: her dearest's friend's murderer. Out of obligation to Yuzheng's mother, the friend set aside her training to raise the baby, but only to the day that Yuzheng's gait didn't totter. When Yuzheng could barely pour tea without spilling, his then-guardian effectively walked out of his life & put him to work as a servant within the The Heavenly Demonic Cult under the pretense of socializing the boy.
It wasn't until he fostered an interest in cultivating his body did he see his guardian again. By this time, Yuzheng had spent his entire childhood a servant, within a demonic cult no less. One fateful week, Yuzheng stole a moment away from his duties to informally apply in front of one of the most important-seeming elders he knew at the time.
When he could, he'd sneak off to listen to the elder's teachings & watch in awe as he led his disciples in practices. Thinking back now, Yuzheng's rejection was understandable but hindsight couldn't help him then. The frustration of having been surrendered to such a fate, doomed to watch others cultivate themselves while he could only wait on them, pushed him over the edge. Barely a teen at time, he committed to running away, as the worst thing his young mind could fathom.
It must've been only a week that he was on his own, but his form was worn as though it'd been a year. In his attempt to cultivate, the process backfired severely as a result of his lack of instruction. Most of that week he spent trying to recover, but his best efforts only made his condition worse. As though a higher power were looking over the boy, rescue came in the form of a familiarly disgruntled woman, drenched from a spring shower that fell upon the mountain the last day of that miserable week. The memory of watching this figure drudge up to little Yuzheng, hair stuck to the figure's face, was traumatic enough to instill within Yuzheng a fear of ghosts.
With a strike & a scolding, Yuzheng returned home with the woman who once abandoned him long ago; he didn't forget. Yuzheng was in no shape to return to his old duties as a manservant, so the woman begrudgingly took it upon herself to teach the little boy how to repair his body. His guardian's teachings would stagnant as his condition improved, so Yuzheng would take it upon himself to get into another scrap & compel his guardian to further develop him in order to repair himself.
As his guardian's teachings progressed to the point of redundancy, Yuzheng was formally introduced to the cult as an aspiring disciple & reluctantly taken in as a result of the guardian's credence. With this began his journey under a formal master & has now led him to where he is now.
It was only recently that Yuzheng made his first major breakthrough in the way of his cultivation. With this newfound strength & freedom from being a young adult, he's now taken to using it to enact his personal means of justice. Though he dared not admit it at the time, he truly hated his brief time as a servant as it showed him the petty side of men; he'd be called for the most menial or impossible things & expected to carry out the task with a smile.
When he walked through cities, it was no different; servants waited on petty men without shame & it angered him to see. As a means to enact personal amends, he would rob these nobles at night & spend it on the poor or working in the following afternoon. What was left over, he would spend on himself, buying himself little jewels to embed into his clothes.
Damaged Dantian - As a result of an early deviation, Yuzheng doesn't heal well. Average recovery time is doubled for him, even through cultivation. Additionally, he can't project his qi past himself & struggles to handle ranged opponents without closing the distance. Combined, this all results in him having a generally low durability; he's a glass canon. Despite this, his self-preservation is lacking; blindly puts himself into the fray of things if he believes enough in a cause.
— Cheap jewel-embedded clothing — Dual blades
Yuzheng's base has been developed with a focus on healing from a young age, since his early deviation. He prioritizes the use of qigong to strengthen the energy within himself by meditating in natural areas & performing slow, meditative movements. In more intense exercises, he'll endure a great trial, like forgoing eating or meditating in the cold, to strengthen himself.
He's found that his qi stagnates while remaining still; during sleep & in the mornings, after rising, is when he's at his weakest.
Additionally, he consumes qi-dense plants in an attempt to reintroduce energy into his system. In a pinch, it's not uncommon for him to crush his gems for a small boost.
Qinggong Expert - Yuzheng is exceptionally light & nimble compared to his peers. His skill in manipulating & controlling his body to scale buildings or evade obstacles are near prodigious. He definitely has an affinity for acrobatics.
Hand-to-hand Combat: Hand-to-hand combat is Yuzheng's most developed method of fighting. Without the use of qi, his style is focused on redirecting his opponent's weapon or strength.
Debilitating Strike - Utilizes one's knowledge of the body's acupoints against an opponent to disrupt their meridians and obstruct their energy flow. Receiving a blow like this can numb an ordinary person's limbs or even freeze their movements.
Reinforced Palm - Releasing a great amount of qi in one burst, Yuzheng's strikes can send an opponent flying or break rock at a given point of contact. As this technique expels energy, it should also be used sparingly.
Dual Blades - While less developed, Yuzheng also possesses the skill to wield dual blades; the reason this isn't his preferred method of battle is because he can't project his qi past his fingers or through his blades.
Burning Body — Yuzheng can direct an abundance of qi to a given point in his body to create a surface similar to a burning stove for his target. This technique should be used sparingly, unless one has cultivated themselves to a point where they are able to withstand strong temperatures. In Yuzheng's case, though he's developed a tolerance through repeated use, burns are not uncommon.
A lesser form of this skill can be used to keep warm. Developing this skill further, flame instead can be conjured, far from his cult's characteristic demonic fire, but a fire nonetheless. It'll be a while before Yuzheng gets to that point.
Alejandro Cuesta, 21 5'10" / 160 lbs S T A T U S : Surplus E M P L O Y M E N T : CyberK-9 Handler F L A W : Secretive. Collects paper-products. V I R T U E : Diligent.
P E R S O N A L I T Y
— Good-natured, approachable, amiable. He is all of what makes a good peer. When the air is light, he’s known to enjoy a nice, pointless chat with his colleagues. — Doesn’t care to take things too seriously when in the company of others. When discussion drags on, he takes to either excusing himself or, if not permitted, attempting to lighten the mood to the point where he can slip away. — Takes mood stabilizers. He's prescribed a dose for every shift, but overtime is a given & he'll often run out before his next refill. When this happens, it's not uncommon for him to visit High Times. — When he's not on stabilizers, he prefers to keep his distance, as the face he presents towards his peers is a bit of a performance for him. Dislikes his true nature, but finds it difficult to avoid, so keeps to himself. For him, it’s more convenient to be regarded kindly. — Easily inconvenienced and tends to regard interactions as either useful or not; can’t help but always feel rushed and dislikes those who idle or are generally slow. — While cruel isn’t the best word to use, it comes close. Speaking venomously comes especially easily to him & he's not above using Fuzz as intimidation.
A R M O R & W E A P O N R Y
List and briefly described. Augmentations are listed and described here, as well. Pictures are optional (and pretty).
— Right hand & wrist newly augmented, replaced with a prosthetic after a burn accident; has yet to re-tattoo his social scan number. — Wears a fire-proof suit while on the job, equipped with a glass helmet. — Off-duty: dons civilian outer layer (hoodie, etc) & light body armor underneath, courtesy of the office. At this point, it's his second skin; one day, he'll take the plunge and augment his body. — His CyberK-9 partner, Fuzz, is equipped with jaws that have a bite force of 2000 psi and a retractable flamethrower. Its skin is cybernetic leather, capable of feeling pets. As for speed... It's quite slow, only able to keep up with Alex.
S K I L L S
— Standard Enforcer training. — Handling others' CyberK9 partners; AI tend to feel a loyalty for him, too. Cyber equivalent of being good with animals. — Also good with animals. — Breaking in a book's spine. — Literature.
R E L A T I O N S
— Enforcers: His employers. He enjoys the holiday parties. — Freemen’s Book Club: They know about his job, but he's a loyal customer to their pop-up shops. It takes a lot of convincing to get them to sell him books, but they have good reads. What they don't know, or at least haven't brought up yet, is that his book reviews are what get people to come in. — Father: Calls him Alé. Moved out of his family home, i.e. his dad's apartment. Chef at The Shack. Lives near Aki Kurose.
H I S T O R Y
— His life didn't begin until training. He was a quiet, unassuming kid throughout school. Played underground football; kept to his team. — He knew of the outside world, but he was encouraged to stay on the straight & narrow, only ever going between school, home, & sometimes The Shack to visit his dad at work or to pick up an extra shift. — He was a good student, but higher education was a thing for Netters & learning that didn't leave him with much ambition. When the first option for the rest of his life presented itself, he took it. The enforcer recruiters came to visit his school during Career Day with a K9 unit & the rest is history.
— Top of his class in standard training. Top of his class in K9 training. — Been a year since he graduated from the academy.
— Online, he reviews books & has amassed a bit of a following under the alias Zuf. What his followers don't know is that he's usually reading the paper copy; he'll still link the ebook under each review, though.
C Y B E R C O M
Fuzz doubles as his cybercom, equipped with Starsoft David's speech synthesizer and a tendency to bark fire when confirming his paycheck.
ᴀɢᴇ 17 ɢᴇɴᴅᴇʀ ♀ ʜᴇɪɢʜᴛ / ᴡᴇɪɢʜᴛ 160 cm / 60 kg ʀᴀᴄᴇ human ᴀʟɪɢɴᴍᴇɴᴛ lawful neutral ᴛʀᴀɪᴛꜱ refined, perceptive
p o w e r s
Phoenix Feather Flame Fist
A supplementary style promoted by the ___ Sect. This martial art is characterized by its fluidity and flexibility. This martial art stretches one's muscles out until things like doing the splits, bending over backwards and grabbing your own ankles, and other such things are easy to do. Practitioners of this art would use their hands like a bird's wings, smoothly deflecting enemy attacks. Their feet would be like talons and beaks, using fast and precise kicks to hit the opponent in their weak spots and pierce defenses. They spend extensive portions of their time perfecting their skill in qigong, allowing them to leap high in the air, perform acrobatics, and scale walls. At higher levels, qi is incorporated into their techniques, allowing them to command self-made projectiles.
p e r s o n a l i t y
— Outwardly reserved. Known by few, seen by many. Upon first encounter, Huiyin may come across as a wallflower. On her neckline of her robes is a fur lining that she's known to turtle her head into. Since joining ___ Sect, she has carefully curated an image of being a quietly magnetic kind of girl. Years of social training has allowed her great skill in navigating social situations or charming those who converse with her.
— Carries herself with the deportment of a noblewoman, choosing her words carefully to maintain a refined nature about her. Values how she's perceived above all. If one cares to looks closely, it's possible to see through her.
— Cunning, sharp mind.
— Buried beneath all this is an spirited youth, flame dulled from apathy. By nature, she's not easily swayed; diligent in following through whatever her mind's set on.
— Lying makes her sick to her stomach.
h i s t o r y
As a child, she was as charismatic as she is today, though not as self-aware. She was both a leader among the children and openly a bully towards the meek, lonely ones who wanted to feel included. She’d entertain herself by asking that impossible things be done and the like. Towards parents, she was an angel, as she’d look after their children during the day and ensure her friends’ safe arrival home come nightfall. Though she did this, it was only to really ensure they didn’t idle or plot amongst themselves. A bully!
Even young, her mind was sharp. Luckily, she’d been blessed into a rich family who could afford to send even her, a daughter, off to pursue academia after her two older brothers. She went without complaint, knowing doing so was her responsibility to her family, though she longed for nothing more than to play. Her lessons bored her but she kept at it, mindlessly. Soon, studying literature and culture turned into seeking cultivation, which turned into pursuing a sect.
At the recommendation of her teacher, a lofty scholar with prominence in government, she applied to the ___ Sect where she was narrowly picked.
The smile Yan Huiyin wore dropped the moment Feng Tai caught the dried plum. How was she to predict that boy's insane reflexes?! What sent her over the edge was that damned expression towards her! Instead, she felt her brow twitch.
"He caught it..." Came from her side. Seriously, this girl. Through teeth, Yan Huiyin replied, "I saw." Admittedly, it annoyed her when things backfired. From the shimei's pouch in her hand, she took a plum & chewed ferociously. The two watched from their place in line like a pair of pikas, who'd stop & watch the sect's lessons. When Feng Tai claimed this wasn't a fight yet was when the two stirred.
"Maybe he really will eat it — ah!" A long whine came from beside Yan Huiyin at the loss of one of her plums. Her parents had sent her that! Feng Tai had squished it so thoughtlessly! This cry fell on deaf ears. Yan Huiyin was transfixed by this show of power between the two of Lu Xue's friends & this boar. They — well, particularly Feng Tai — fought with such ferocity that Yan Huiyin couldn't help but grow a bit glum. Even after all this time, she was still behind those who must've been close to her age. With that fruit, though... Perhaps that wouldn't be the case for longer. Without a doubt, this spirit fruit was her chance at succeeding her current abilities. The thought set something alight something within herself; a small flame for now.
Only when their elder called for a stop was when Yan Huiyin snapped from her little trance. Ah, right. They were in line. Speaking of this elder... To say that the sight of him disappointed Yan Huiyin was an understatement. Had he not achieved even a Mid Core Formation? Perhaps he developed it late..? Did he never have a youthful appearance to preserve? By the time the fight had been broken up, the two were able to move up. "A-Yan!" Her shimei sang, holding up her pill gleefully. Though she had the mind to let her shimei go before her, she wasn't entirely there to offer anymore than a slight smile at the little girl. Again, Yan Huiyin was held up within her own thoughts. If she didn't reach a state of preservation until her later years, would she be forever an old lady? The thought sent a chill down her spine. The sight of this and the other grey-headed elders dampened her opinion of Zuigao, to the point where, under the guise of piety, she found it hard to meet their eyes. Call her shallow, it was true.
The crowd dispersed a bit & suddenly Feng Tai was addressing her. At the call of "you there," Yan Huiyin bristled back to the present, a flush coming across her features. The impudence of this boy! The sight of him made her shimei, however, cower upon his stomping over.
"Wah, it's like you said: he's coming to kill us!" From the gulp at her side, she must've swallowed her pill already in a panic; was she expecting to face Feng Tai? Yan Huiyin chuckled at the thought. Instinctually, the little girl at her side ducked behind her, lifting the older's guarded arm up to cover herself who nearly instantly yanked it away. Without a second thought, Yan Huiyin snapped, "I didn't say that." She directed a dangerous gaze at Feng Tai, who was now within arms reach. A bit too close for somebody who had almost twisted a boy's leg off just moments ago! She repeated evenly, looking Feng Tai straight in the eyes, "I did not say that." The last thing she needed was to deal with an inflated ego on top of lack of manners. Seriously, she'd never been addressed as "you there" in front of so many people! The longer this interaction went on, the more she found to dislike about Feng Tai.
Not wanting to stick around to see how things developed for her shijie, who now seemed mad at her, the younger girl grew antsy. In a stiff motion, she bowed a bit too low before Feng Tai, stuttering out, "F-Feng... shizhi." It seemed what he'd done to that boy had not gone unnoticed to her. At Yan Huiyin, she chirped up & simply nodded, "A-Yan, bye! Good luck!" A bit too hurriedly, she took her leave. Luckily, it seemed she was headed back toward the dorms, instead of the gatehouses & her doom in that forest. A relieved sigh escaped Yan Huiyin. She couldn't recall her name, but her company was nice. Now left with no one around her, Yan Huiyin wavered a bit; this didn't happen often.
Recollecting herself briefly, she sighed & spoke, "Shixiong should take Elder's advice," referring to saving his energy for the forest. Before she could hear out his reply, that familiar voice again boomed: "Next!" Yan Huiyin stepped up when called, paying a quick respect to the aforementioned elder — whose gaze she still could not meet — & pocketing her Foundation Establishing Pill. She turned back to face Feng Tai, feeling a bit powerless without some form of posse around her. Still, she maintained an aloofness & asked him, "Will you not be going to the forest?"
The thought of the Spiritual Heart Fruit held Yan Huiyin's attention during that address. When she was a girl, such things were only of stories & the like. Ever since she's come to Zuigao, it's seemed even the wildest things have all come true. Today, it was the Spiritual Heart Fruit. The mention of it rang familiar; she thought maybe she'd heard of it last year. Back then, she'd had to watch as her shijie left her to take residence at the middle peak. In terms of martial ability, she was about a year or two's worth of training behind the cusp of being able to take this exam comfortably. With this fruit, however... Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? It seemed the girl beside her, likely 3 or 4 years her junior, shared this idea with her. To her left, she heard an audible gasp. "Is it true..?"
When the attendance was dismissed & the more brutish of the students left immediately for the forest, Yan Huiyin found herself holding back the thin wrist of this little shimei who tugged to join them. In a harsh tone, she told the girl, "If you can't even escape me, how can you expect to escape those spirit beasts?" Having said this, she felt the girl slump & slightly pull her down. "A-Yan..." The girl whined. Faintly, she felt her brows raise. She knew her? Every time one of these addresses happened, it always surprised Yan Huiyin who tended to recognize her, while she couldn't even place a syllable to their faces. To Yan Huiyin, everybody tended to be a "you" or something of the like. Never mind that. "Come on. At least have a pill before you leave," said Yan Huiyin, to which the little shimei happily obliged.
It seemed they weren't the only ones with this idea as, by the time the two got to the shop, the line had grown significantly. Chatter filled the air &, soon, one conversation — if it could even be called that — rang clearer above the rest's.
The nerve! Yan Huiyin shared a gasp with the smaller girl next to her. Hearing the retorts of the two boys at odds, they'd taken a moment to rubberneck towards the commotion. It was Lu Xue! There wasn't a Zuigao disciple that didn't at least know of the prodigious Lu Xue. With this kind of celebrity, came knowing at least rumors of his past also came with that, though no one dared entertain the idea, at least not to his face. For somebody to blatantly announce that... Yan Huiyin felt her jaw clench on behalf of Lu Xue. Nothing was more annoying that those who couldn't act in accordance with civility.
Feng Tai, Lu Xue had said.
It was decided: Yan Huiyin didn't like this Feng Tai. Of course, none of this was easily shown outwardly. The girl beside her did share her thoughts, though. "To speak so plainly with Lu-shizhi... No wonder he walks alone everywhere. You know, this shimei has seen that Feng Tai before; he's always brooding."
The girl gave a nudge with her elbow, "Will A-Yan stop 'em?"
Yan Huiyin almost sneered, "A-Yan would die. Look at them."
"Oh, don't say that." It was true, though. The tension between them could cut stone. To even suggest getting between them was an idiot's idea & a death wish; Yan Huiyin eyed this passing "friend" of her with a bit of disdain at the mention of putting a stop to this herself. Truth be told, they were only talking because they'd happened to stand together during the address. She'd remember this little transgression: the suggestion.
However, the sight did bother her. Only brutes fought before elders &, even more so, in front of the damned shop! Compared to the two, there was no doubt in Yan Huiyin's mind that they surpassed her martial ability; one was a prized disciple & the other an idiot who dared pick a fight with said disciple. That alone made that Feng Tai dangerous. If there was something that she had over the two, it was the fact that they weren't currently looking at her. Her mind sharp from it being midday & not yet bogged down from afternoon lessons, she turned to the smaller girl & urged, "Could Xiao-shimei share a snack?"
"What, I don't — hey!" In a gentle lunge, she reached into the other girl's sleeve & held up the pouch of huamei to her, a bit accusatorily. This troublesome girl... Lying: another transgression for Yan Huiyin to note. If there was one thing she knew about the younger disciples, it was that little things to nibble on between lessons weren't often far from their person. This shimei gave a light half-laugh & plucked a plum from the pouch, plopping it into her mouth. Accepting the loss of her huamei, she asked, "A-Yan's not hungry, is she? Are you thinking perhaps they are?"
"Hm, maybe." Plucking one of the dried plums from its pouch, she held it up before a squinting eye. To consider Lu Xue as the target would've been social suicide, but this gloomy boy... Well, it didn't take much thought. Having lived in the sect for a little over half her life now, she'd gathered enough social points to be in a position to spare some with this little action. It wasn't often that she lashed out, if this could even have been called such. The thought of what was to come made her pull her furred collar up to her cheek, muffling a titter.
In a light motion, Yan Huiyin took aim & tossed the plum at that Feng Tai's temple.