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He wanted out.
As he grew up, Hadarunn got more and more fretful, trapped in his mother’s hometown in the mountains.
It was a long way to travel to get to any of the big cities, and a sizeable portion of it he had to leg it on foot— the closest town that had any kind of public transport to any of the cities was a day’s trek northwest, and then once he got there it would be another day and a half of travel to get to Fjor, in the demon country. There were closer cities, true, but the youth was so sick of the mountains that he had decided not to go anywhere where he could still glimpse them on the horizon.
He dreamed of going to the city of Nezar, in the Quasar, the imp country across the ocean. But it would be far more expensive to get there, as sea-travel was expensive, and going by air even more so. As a student fresh out of school, he didn’t have a lot of spare credits, and he didn’t want to ask his mother to fund him— she’d offered him some money when she heard he wanted to leave, but he refused to take too much.
Fjor would have to do, until he could make enough for a trip to Quasar.
He was restless enough at home, as it was.
It was hard, the young elf boy thought, clenching his fists as his peers discussed people with mixed heritage. It was hard, he thought, as they talked about how the children of interracial parents were not at fault for their parents’ crime. It was hard, he thought, as they so passionately insisted that they would not treat half-breed individuals any differently, when every single half-blood child of every age had been ostracised just because they weren’t ‘pure’, because their precious elf blood was tainted by imp genes, by demon genes, by human genes.
It pissed him off.
He hated the racism.
He hated having to hide what he’d inherited from his father.
He hated having even inherited his father’s blood.
He hated his un-‘pure’ half.
If only they knew that he wasn’t what his mother and he had led them to believe.
Oh, they’d have a right field day. He would go from well-liked to lower than dirt in the blink of an eye.
Even though in the capital cities and major colonies and settlements of the four continents, peoples of different races co-existed quite happily alongside each other, in the more rural areas and smaller towns xenophobia, racism and discrimination against half-breeds was commonplace. Interracial couplings and mixed-blood children were frowned upon outside the big cities. Each race thought that it the best race and all others were inferior. Elves looked down on their grey-skinned demon cousins, who in turn looked down on the primitive humans, who viewed the scantily dressed imps with distaste, who in turn thought the elves too hung up on the old ways.
The little hometown Hadarunn’s mother brought him back to after his hume father’s death was no different. She knew this, and taught him never to mention his father, taught him never to mention his human heritage. He’d inherited his mother’s pale hair and skin, and elf genetic diversity was great enough that nobody paid any mind to his dark eyes and short stature.
As a young child, Hadarunn didn’t understand the weight behind his secret, but held his tongue nevertheless to please his mother. It was only closer to his adolescence when he discovered the gravity of the matter.
Two families had moved to the little elf town of Saijan, with the elf parent of both families bringing their spouse and young children back to the hometown of their youths. One was a young woman with a demon husband and two beautiful dusky cold-skinned twins, and the other a tall elf with an expecting imp wife.
The town’s inhabitants treated the returning elves neutrally, and their families politely but curtly, showing their displeasure at having to deal with people of other races, and their disapproval of the two elves’ choice of mate.
The two young half-demon girls were not spared either. They were roughly the same age as Hadarunn, and the three shared a few classes.
At first, the boy was ecstatic that he was no longer the only half-blood in the town, and greeted the new girls with much cheer. His mother had warned him not to tell them that he too was of mixed heritage, and he didn’t understand why, but after a few days it all became clear to him, and he was horrified.
He was the only one who was even remotely nice to them.
Aside from the instructors during class, none of the other children spoke to them unless absolutely necessary. Like their parents, the young elves were curt every time they had to interact with the poor girls, and it was obvious that it distressed the twins.
They only lasted a few months. Their father was a strong, even-tempered man, and weathered the cold reception he received from the people of his wife’s hometown well, but both he and his wife couldn’t take how the other children ostracised their daughters, choosing to pack up and leave Saijan for a bigger city. The man with the imp wife too left quickly, taking his wife and newborn son and vacating their small home as soon as their baby was born, not wishing their young son to have to endure the discrimination when he got older.
Many other half-blood elf children came and went in Hadarunn’s school, none lasting very long against the cold wall of distaste that they were faced with, though none stuck in the boy’s mind as much as the two demon twins did. He stopped trying to interact with them, and his treatment of them begun to mirror how the other children treated these newcomers.
The secret of his heritage grew ever heavier on his heart.
He began to hate having to keep this secret.
He began to hate the secret.
He began to hate the half of him that forced him to keep the secret.
When another classmate started listing off all the mixed-blood children she’d been nice to over the years despite “the the sin of their parents”, as she called it, Hadarunn couldn’t help letting a short bark of laughter escape him.
“Bullshit,” he said, turning to face them. “You turned your nose up at that boy with the human mother just two seasons ago. Refused to talk to him at all and pretended he didn’t exist, that’s what you really did.” Turning back to his own work, the elf boy added passionately, “Not like he didn’t deserve it anyway, the filthy halfbreed.”
He promised they’d be together forever as their fingers intertwined.
He promised that he loves her as they pressed closer together.
He promised that he would always be there for her as he brushed the hair out of her face.
He promised that he would never hurt her as he kissed her forehead.
She cried into her hands, sitting alone on a park bench in the pouring rain, after he carelessly broke her heart and left her for a prettier girl.
Being friends with Zhao Wen certainly had Alex stepping way outside his normal circle of comfort, the latter quietly mused over his laptop keyboard as his friend yammered on loudly to nobody in particular about some asian band concert happening in the next week.
Alexander Ryans was an introvert through and through, whereas Ng Zhao Wen and his girlfriend Choi Min-ji were extroverts through and through.
While Alex preferred silence, reading books and writing on his laptops in quiet corners, Zhao Wen insisted on being exuberant and loud, and bouncing basketballs off unbreakable things in public places… and sometimes other kinds of spherical things against breakable ones items too.
One would think that personalities such as these would clash terribly, but somehow Alex and Zhao Wen found it easy to get along. Min-ji had once joked that she was expecting a dramatic highschool movie-type enmity between the two, and was disappointed that it never happened.
As it was, the two started off in the same college dorm and now shared an apartment, and spent most of their lunch breaks and free time hanging together around campus, like today.
They had started seated around the cafeteria table: Alex with his laptop in front of him and notepaper piled in stacks beside it and on the seat next to him and bag on the seat on his other side; Zhao Wen across the table, nearly empty food tray before him, chattering rapidly about whatever it was he was interested in at the moment and managing to shovel his food down his throat at the same time; and Min-ji beside him looking more interested in trying to read Alex’s notes upside down than listen to Zhao Wen talk again about the same baseball match he’d repeated to them the night before.
“Hey Alex Ryans, you moving or not?”
That’s how they had started, but while Alex was rolling around in his thoughts, Zhao Wen and Min-ji had decided that lounging under a tree in the grassy knoll outside was a good idea. Apparently they had mentioned it to Alex while he was distracted, and he seemed to have made an affirmatory gesture or sound of some sort, because they were on their feet and had their bags over their shoulders.
“Come on, Alex! The sun won’t wait for you, you know!”
Alex sighed as he gathered up his papers and closed his laptop, but his lips were curved upwards into a smile as he followed his friends out of the cafeteria.
Pixel sprites with text floating above their heads ran across the dungeon map, flashing and affecting over-the-top grimaces as they ran into monsters and cast spells. A simply-dressed female sprite, her floating text labelling her as ‘Kizon’, made her way over to a party of rogues and assassins, hopping the best she could over the monsters, but loosing a lot of hitpoints in the meantime.
“hey im new, can train me?”
She was forced to hang from a ladder to avoid damage from the very obviously higher-levelled monsters populating this map as she tried to talk to them.
“idk hw i got here
i bought a map n used it
i cant get past the monsters 2 go bak”
The party, consisting of only male players were silent for a little while, before a small speech bubble with flashing ellipses appeared above one of them. Before he could respond though, she quickly added on to her original statement.
“if u guys dnt want 2 train me its ok 2
just help me get out is enuff”
It wasn’t needed though.
“its ok we add u 2 party
gonna farm here 4 a bit newai”
“thx so much guys!!!
so i just hang here 4 a while?”
“yea k dats fine
talk 2 me whn u 5 lvls higher
then we can get u out”
Kizon’s sprite displayed a grinning animated emoticon in a speech bubble in response as her new party members moved across the screen and continued to clear out the monsters spawning there.
What the other players couldn’t see was the child piloting the female newbie grinning broadly from ear to ear upon reading the offer, obviously not as new to the game as they were led to believe. The low-levelled girl probably wasn’t even a first character, either.
The child leaned back, watching the EXP points and gold rise rapidly even without having to lift a finger.
This is going to be the beginning of a beautiful, profitable friendship.
Selene Allens (née Jourdain)
Blue eyed with dark blond hair, slim and stands at about 6’.
French woman originally from France, moved to America for university in her late teens. Married a 30-year-old frenchman she met whilst in America when she was 22 (marriage lasted all of two and a half years), divorced him shortly after Louis was born when she was 25. She doesn’t talk about her ex-husband a lot. She married Kenichi when she was 29, gave birth to Marie when she was 30 and Zoé when she was 32.
Black haired and brown eyed, wide-shouldered but not bulky. Stands at about 6’, just a hair shorter than Selene. Rather caucasian face structure— strong jaw, defined cheekbones and a sharp slim nose— with large asian eyes.
Born to a American Japanese mother and an American father, raised in America. Married Selene when he was 34.
Born to a French father that he has no recollection of. Blue-eyed with light brown hair, with slightly softer features than that of a typical french man. Narrow shoulders and tall at 6’2”.
Zoé describes him as a “crusty old fart on the outside, but the sweetest thing on the planet as long as he believes nobody’s looking.” Quiet and even-tempered.
Dark brown hair and dark hazel eyes, wide-shouldered and curvy, standing at 5’5”.
Sweet but short-tempered, Marie has the capability to be absolutely terrifying when she’s mad.
Despite Zoé being a good three inches taller than Marie and significantly skinnier, the younger girl still frequently borrows a lot of her older sister’s clothing.
Iskhandar Mohd Harris
Singaporean Malay in America for studies. Black-haired, brown-eyed and tan-skinned, Iskhandar is solidly built but short at 5’7”.
Zoé describes his personality as similar to her brother Louis’s, and finds it absolutely hilarious, but Iskhandar fails to see the humor in her statement.
Nathan James Keller
Australian father, American mother, born and raised in America. Brown-haired and hazel-eyed, stands at about 5’9”. Favors turtlenecks.
Zoé Kiwako Allens
French mother (Selene Jourdain), Japanese/American father (Kenichi Allens). [x] Formerly Claude Allens (no middle name), male-assigned at birth.
Expressive hazel eyes, soft lips and a strong nose. Hormones have softened the natural sharpness of her face, but it is still fairly angular. Naturally dark-haired, she likes wearing light-colored contacts and dyeing her hair blond. Stands at about 5’6 in height, and built wide-shouldered but otherwise slight.
Has an older half-brother (Louis Jourdain-Allens, born out of wedlock) and an older sister (Marie Allens) [x]
She was never very masculine, even as a child. She preferred playing dress up and dolls with Marie, and often opted for traditionally ‘female’ clothing choices. Her parents figured it was just a phase and that she’d grow out of it, dolls and pink flowery shirts and shoulder-length hair didn’t mean that their son was gay after all.
Around the time Zoé started school, Kenichi started putting in longer hours at work, having to leave early in the morning to get there on time and returning only late at night. Selene, too, became incredibly busy with volunteer and charity work in the neighbourhood church in addition to her job as a nurse in a nearby hospital. Despite that, she tried hard to be available for her children if they needed her.
Zoé was often picked on for how femininely she presented by her peers, and sometimes by the teachers. Later in her schooling life, she was occasionally physically assaulted by her schoolmates for being a ‘faggot’. Her friends would tease her as well sometimes, but those jabs were more of the good-natured, friendly kind rather than the aimed-to-hurt sort. Even so, it still got to her as she grew up.
German/Austrian parents, grew up in America.
Strong featured face, framed with dark hair and even golden-brown eyes. Broad shoulders and sturdy build, but not overly muscular. About 6’1” in height.
Outwardly very sweet and terrifically charming, people find it hard to believe that someone with his personality coupled with his drop dead gorgeous appearance is still single. He always laughs and says he’s not very good at flirting
Jì Xuán 极玄
1650 years old.
Rain/water elemental blue dragon, descended from a line of yellow dragons, one parent or one of their parents was probably a blue dragon. Breathes cold clouds and has general power over waters. Still relatively young for a dragon.
Lives in the mountains a little way from a city that he sometimes visits in his boredom, where he found Jing Bao.
Huò Jīng Bǎo 霍晶宝 (Crystal Tan)
Húli jīng (狐狸精)
Roughly 113 years old.
Born a male fox demon, he originally chose the human form of a woman as he was still too young to take on to take on the form of a man. He grew so used to living as a woman when in human form that when he was finally old enough to take the form of a human man, he just didn’t actually bother to make the switch, instead opting to live in the human world as a young girl, preferring the human lifestyle of a female.
Very calm and placid in demeanour. He dreams one day of being able to communicate with heaven and become a celestial fox.
JX struggled with his sexuality once he’d realised that Crystal is a /male/ fox spirit with a human female form, the former being something he couldn’t stop being hung up over, causing a bit of awkward tension between the two friends. Eventually they settle on an easy, comfortable more-than-friendship that is strictly platonic.