ꜰᴀᴄɪᴀʟ ꜰᴇᴀᴛᴜʀᴇꜱ light blue eyes; pinkish nose; arched, dark brows ɴᴏᴛᴀʙʟᴇ ꜰᴇᴀᴛᴜʀᴇꜱ easily sunburnt; willowy, unathletic; long nails; tends to keep warm
h i s t o r y
— family of shapeshifters. uncommon, but not unheard of in the kingdom; her lineage traces back to a cat that was bewitched to walk among men. — middle child; 4 other siblings — was sent to a count's estate to wait on his wife & learn etiquette at age 16; often would sneak out at night to mingle with the townsfolk — has developed into a somewhat prominent socialite; was permitted to pursue a position within the royal court — rumors of promiscuity follow her; family has struggled to marry her
a d d i t i o n a l i n f o
— expert in social practice & etiquette, both within a court & among commoners — takes a medicinal tea to help with maintaining her energy; if allowed, she'd sleep the whole day — chills easily, often wears a cloak or shawl even inside — flees at any perceived conflict
Without wavering, Yan Huiyin replied to Na Jiayi immediately, "Mmhm."
If not weak, then definitely a bit dumb, at least for wanting to take this challenge on so young. To prove her point, she plucked the bag from Na Jiayi's shoulder in a quick swipe. For a second, she considered it in her grasp. What all was there to bring on a camping trip? Surely nothing more than a blanket, right? Having came from an affluent family & having never slept in the outdoors, if Yan Huiyin had set off toward the forest by her own plan, there was no doubt that she would've brought much more than herself & a snack.
The younger girl let out another whine, reaching for her stolen bag. Like a playground bully, Yan Huiyin rose her brows & dangled it above her. In doing this, she added: "It's as Shixiong said: none of us are strong yet."
She didn't wait for a reply & slung the bag across her furred collar. Turning on her heels, she walked in Feng Tai's direction. Just barely turning her chin back, Yan Huiyin called, "Coming?"
Na Jiayi bit her lip, but couldn't find the strength to retort. That was her stuff! First her plums, now her bag. To Feng Tai, she now found him easy to play with, like one of her brothers, but Yan Huiyin was... distant & she'd never had a sister. Not someone she wanted to mess with. Shijie could have the bag if she wanted, so the smaller girl called after her, "Y-yes!"
With a nod, Yan Huiyin cupped a hand around her mouth to call after the boy ahead: "Shixiong, take care of us!"
Though she'd skipped her lessons — or they were cancelled after that day's address; either way she hadn't been there to find out — that afternoon, she could already feel the fatigue that came from a long day coming on. The urge to yawn was overwhelming her &, every so often, she'd succumb, muffling the sound into her collar. Were did the energy of these two come from? Had that Feng Tai napped? Knowing this girl, she likely did. Curiously, she squinted at the back of their forms.
She was the tagalong here, without a doubt. Still, she supposed it couldn't be helped. Yan Huiyin didn't feel any sort of kinship towards the girl, but she hardly expected the two before her to have exchanged many words prior to today. Were they all something of strangers? Their peak was only so big, so of course they'd all met before, but... effectively, she supposed they were. Right now, though a bit awkwardly, Na Jiayi was idly chatting to herself as kids often did, turning to gauge Feng Tai's reaction every so often.
Yan Huiyin bit her thumb's nail, as she darted her eyes between Feng Tai's retreating form & the girl beside her. No doubt could Feng Tai handle himself, but did he know how to use that brutish strength to protect others? Initially, she couldn't identify her reasoning for tagging along, but she supposed this was it. Tagging along tonight was infinitely better than to hear her name come up at the end of the next week in the address of deaths within the peaks. The mere thought made her feel heavier, her shoulders drooping a bit.
Not wanting to further depress herself, she skipped up to squeeze herself between the pair. A bit uncharacteristic of her usual composed self, but she was tired, alright? She rested her arm on Na Jiayi's shoulder & gestured ahead with her chin.
Still one of few words, her clarification came only as a single word: "The forest." For how vast it was, the forest could always have been seen from their walk down towards it, but only now did its trees begin to enwrap their path. They stood a little ways away from its entrance. marked by an archway overtaken by greenery: The Spiritual Beast Forest. At the top were the three characters engraved into a bronze nameplate, framed perfectly by twisting branches & vines.
"Alright," She started, turning to Feng Tai, "What's the game plan?"
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.