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  1. Two Weeks Off Duty. It wasn't as if Feng hadn't dealt with such lapses in his guard schedule before; the Watcher's very zeal was often the cause of his involuntary vacations. Well, 'vacation' wasn't quite the right term; 'recovery leave' was more accurate. This time, however, things were different. This was an Empress-Dictated relief of duty, pursuant on certain lapses of decorum at a certain banquet with certain foreign dignitaries. In his defense, Feng would still maintain that it could have been poison! Some poisons looked very much like allergic reactions. Nonetheless, it had caused an unseemly ruckus, and he was hardly going to argue the point with Yu Yue. But the upshot of this break was, instead of being confined to his rice mat while his body healed, he was in full physical shape with nothing to do. This was a novel and somewhat distressing situation. Not having very many hobbies, he found himself working his exercise routines even harder, just to keep himself from going crazy. This led him to being hungry beyond the ability of his rations to satisfy... and therein lay the main problem. Normally, he'd head down to the kitchens, chat up the cook, and leave with a bundle of goodies. However, his friendship with Yanhua, the Imperial Chef, was under a bit of a strain since his allegations of poison had naturally thrown some suspicion upon her. The whole thing had been proven wrong, of course, but the distress caused to the innocent was real, and difficult for him to face. Eventually, after a few days, the emptiness in his middle grew too insistent to ignore, so Feng felt he had no choice but to stallion up and face the music. And so, after too many hungry nights, he allowed the savory smells down the hall, and through the steam-shrouded doors into the kitchens...
  2. The only foot access to and from the Imperial Palace is a heavily fortified (if very aesthetically pleasing) drawbridge over the moat, connecting the palace island to the Forbidden Lake's southern shore. As far most people are concerned, the closest they'd ever get to the Imperial Palace is the gatehouse at the bridge's southern end: the Water Gate. An ornate tower situated upon a wall-like platform, the Water Gate is one of the most famous landmarks within Huangjing. Lying in front of the Water Gate is the Imperial Square; a massive plaza lines with statues of Long Guo's greatest rulers and heroes. On occasion, subjects of the Dragon Kingdom gather within the square to listen to an address by their emperor from reviewing stands atop the Water Gate's platform. For many, such momentous events are the only time they ever get to witness their beloved monarch. Today would not be such a day. Yet for a group of fillies and colts, something even more magical was in the works: a tour of the closed-off Imperial Palace itself! ------------------ It was a half-hour past breakfast, and Kaze fidgeted impatiently as she waited in the Imperial Square with her golem companion Mr. Twig and the rest of the kids in her field trip group. Aside from them, there was little activity in the Square aside from well-to-do denizens of the capital city's Inner Ward mulling about or the occasional official passing through the Water Gate on imperial business. The little sister of the Neighponese Shogun was now of age to start visiting the world outside her home nation. But rather than visit Long Guo in the company of her distinguished brother or even Daddy, they had somehow inserted the young ryuma into a delegation of young Equestrian children; the first Nations of Harmony initiative of its kind. Truly a historic day to be sure, but Kaze wasn't interested in all that. All she wanted to know was what was taking the Prince so long to get here. Gosh darnit, Kaze wanted to start exploring a forbidden palace that wasn't also her own home for a change..... *OOC: Sign-up thread is here. As of this post, two child slots are still available.*
  3. One fun part of being a kid: getting to go on awesome field trips. Especially to places that most people never get to visit! As part of efforts to link all countries with the magic of friendship, the Youth Council of the Nations of Harmony (ie. pony-UN) is granting an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for kids from all around the world to visit the Imperial Palace of Long Guo. Children who attend will be given a guided tour by no other than Prince Lián, brother of the Empress. Who knows, perhaps a personal meeting with Long Guo ruler itself is in the cards? It doesn't matter where your child OC comes from, all are free to sign-up regardless of where they come from. Children aged up to adolescence are all permitted. Five open slots will be available for the tour group, which will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. Before I get the RP rolling, I'll also have to select one more responsible adult who'll serve as group chaperone for the little kiddos. Anywho, sign-up time: Tour Guide: Prince Lián Tour Guide's Assistant: Sī jīn Kid #1: Kaze Kid #2: Echo Kid #3: Apple Bloom Kid #4: Wind Walker Kid #5: Aspen Kid #6: Group Chaperone: Big McIntosh
  4. Sure enough the prince slept soundly. Lian was a quiet and peaceful sleeper, picturesque some would say. Though he was also a fairly heavy sleeper and at times was as difficult to wake up as a hibernating Long. This day however was not one of those days. The soft rustling of the curtain and the faint beam of light that slipped through coupled with the curious scent of flowers stirred the qilin awake with a soft yawn and a looooong stretch. Through the curtains of his bed he saw the familiar figure of Si Jin. Likely with breakfast, but was she wearing perfume? He didn't take for for the type. Rubbing the sand from his eyes, Lian exhaled and the curtains around his bed parted. "Ahhh. Good morning!~" The hoofmaiden's head jerks up quickly. "Aiya! Oh! Good morning, my prince. S-several matters await your attention after breakfast." she says, tucking the scroll behind her back and cursing her decision not to wear a robe yet. Her mane was already in the tight bun she used before she'd gotten her armor and clothing on, but she had neither as she'd intended to get dressed while Lian did. Ancestors take the timing of it all! The one morning Lian slept lightly. "I trust you slept well?" Lian gave a little nod and a smile as he grabed a brush from his bedside stand and began to comb. "Like a babe. But something is on your mind." he replied as he glanced over at his friend. "You don't usually jump even when I surprise you." The mare blushed a little and, not for the first time, wished she could use her Pearl to store or summon things for her own benefit rather than only for another's. "Some late mail is all, my prince." She said, regaining her composure. "I was not expecting it and it caught me off guard." Not technically untrue. "Oh? Well I certainly hope it was good news! I won't pry into your private matters though." Lian sniffed at the air once more and smiled. "I take it the smell in the air has something to do with the letter as well?" "It was perfumed, yes." She answers, distracted again but more at ease now that she knew Lian wasn't in a teasing mood. She wasn't sure she could handle that just now. Nor how much of Chiyo's inner workings were safe to reveal to him. Well, the clan's inner workings anyway, her own were hardly a mystery. "My waking thought was to ask when you started wearing perfume." he said with a coy little grin. "But I figured better to hold off on that." The prince finished with his mane and rose from his bed with another hardy streeeeetch! "I usually do wear perfume, you just prefer subtle scents. It's easy to lose it in the palace, my prince, with so many lovely mares trying to get your attention." She casts a glance at him from the corner of her eyes and nodded to herself, internally. She'd chosen a poor stallion to fall for, but she'd chosen a good stallion to fall for. The qilin chuckled. "Well should you change your mind on subtle, I'd not argue with a scent like this." Lian grinned as he sat about towards the washroom to brush his teeth and continue his morning routine. Si Jin sighed and wiped the sweat off her brow. She took the opprotunity while Lian was seeing to his ablutions to get herself dressed and the letter tucked away...in...seriously, what DID this thing mean..? She understood the message, but why now? And why was she being REWARDED for breaching the contract? She sat in front of Lian's uneaten tray and stared at the letter. It wasn't long before Lian returned. He always had this bad habit of forgetting his meal, brushing his teeth then having to eat and just repeat the process. "One of these days I swear I'll get this." he said with a laugh as he bit into the toast. He was silent for a few moments as he chewed and afterwards as well. "There's something more to that letter. Isn't there?" Si Jin shook her head and sat the letter on the empty tray. "Sorry, prince Lian. It's complicated and I'm not sure I understand, but it bothers me. The letter is from...well, who is not important, but they have the authority to reassign me. Which they have. I think they found out about your sister's...manuever." The prince let his toast clatter to the plate as he looked up at Si Jin. "You're not. Ahem, that is. Your reassignment. It's not taking you far, is it?" The hoofmaid frowns and gestures at the letter, explicitly granting permission for the princec to at least attempt to decipher it. She waits until he starts reading it, then says "The code should be simpler to understand knowing that it's a code. And that the inks are different colors." The prince reads over the letter, studying it quietly. Knowing there's a code does indeed help, but it takes him a few moments to decipher the meaning in his head. When he does though he breathes a sigh of relief. "If I read this right, you've been reassigned to me?" Si Jin nods and smiles , then frowns as she takes the letter back "It...shouldn't have happened though. My...employers don't work that way. It's important to know my original contract was for ten years, not five. That bit of code is a Kachinonai...well it's like an exile, I suppose. I'm not welcome in their village, even if your business should carry you there. That is...light, compared to what others would have received for not reporting a mission's outcome." Lian frowned and stayed quiet for a few moments. Si Jin had her secrets, and the prince was polite enough to never pry deeper than he felt the need. This was one of those times it was best to not ask too much. For now though, the qilin did something he hadn't ever really done before, and embraced Si Jin in a hug. "I am truly sorry if I am the cause of your exile..." Si Jin leaned into the embrace. This was one of the many things in which she was trained that she was more than happy to do with Lian even if she hadn't been. "No, it was a difficult situation, and it was my fault. I should have immediately reported the fact that the Empress had her own bodyguards and...and allowed myself to be reassigned. However things were not so simple as that and I let m- I acted with a complete disregard for the customs of my people." "You and my sister are alike in some ways you know. She too tends to disregard that she is a pony first and a figurehead second." the prince sighed softly. "This is one of those situations where I wish I knew more, but I respect you enough to not ask. Despite really wanting to ask. Regardless though. You are your own pony first and foremost." "Lian, there may come a day when you will know everything there is to know of Clan Chiyo, I truly wish that were today. What I can't tell you would fill an entire library of burned scrolls." Si Jin mumbled to herself, forgetting her inside-the-head voice for a moment. The prince chuckled softly and pulled back from the hug slowly, gently brushing a strand of mane out from Si Jin's face. "Prehaps another day then." She'd said that out loud. Ancestors preserve, she'd said that out loud. She pulled away and scanned the room quickly, straining her ears. "I'm...I'm sorry, that was-That was wholly inappropriate, and you shouldn't have heard that." she said, straightening herself up and glancing out the window as if she expected a kunai to come back through it. "Heard what?" he asked with an innocent face as he continued eating his breakfast finally. "The last thing was said was just me saying that you are your own pony." Lian smiled and drank his juice. There was a long, pregnant pause in the air while Si Jin calmed herself down. She wasn't used to being out of sorts like this. She was a Shinobi. Kunoichi of the Chiyo clan. She'd been trained to maim and kill with the barest of efforts and nerves of steel. And here this stallion was, able to waltz through her nerve and her defenses like she was the vapid little courtier she pretended to be. Kami blast her she even thought like them more often than not! "Hitomi." This was not tradition. This was not what "Chiyo, Hitomi." was trained for. But if she was going to really do this, she had to trust him sometime...right? "The new silk screens you ordered. They will need to go back, someone will have slashed a hole in one by the time it arrives. It will have been ugly anyway. And you have a poetry reading with your half-brother." "A lovely name." he said with a nod after finishing his drink. "That's a shame, they looked so delightful in the catalogue. But I suppose pictures can't do some things justice then. I've always loved those poetry readings you know? I've never been good at writing them as he has, but it's always a good time to just...relax and unwind and forget about the world even if just for a few moments." "Just a mare from a tiny diving village." Si Jin responded, cagily. Then she shook her head, "He does it to show off you know. 'See how much more creative and cultured I am than these pretenders?' Did we ever figure out if he was behind the bees or if that was your cousin?" "I'm sure she's more than that." he said as he sat about brushing his teeth again. "He does, yes. But it's a mask to hide insecurity. As for the bees? I'm unsure. I believe it was my cousin, but there's no proof one way or the other." "If there was we'd need to keep an eye on one fewer Feng..." Ahem, not counting Yu Yue's 'secret' suitor. "Regardless, you'll be there most of the day, which is when I'll address the woefully damaged screen. A shame someone ruined the poison." Lian looked up quickly, toothbrush hanging in his mouth. "Poison?" he questioned before rinse-spitting. Si Jin waggled a hoof. "I don't know who, and I think it would have just made you sick, unless they switched the poison. My...supplier mentioned that someone had bought out all of their stock. I was able to follow it to the silk workshop who's handling the screen. If it turns out the poison was used somewhere else I'll let them go through." The stallion arched a brow and shook his head. "I'll never understand why ponies feel like trying to poison me will avail them anything." "They want to hurt Yue. I don't let them find out about failed poisoning attempts so that they think no one else has ever tried. So everyone thinks they came up with the idea first, makes thwarting it easier." "Makes sense." the prince sighed. "I sometimes wish her and I had stayed with mother...This whole...royalty thing is so much more difficult than needs be." Si Jin blushed and stared out a window. "There...are some perks." she says, thinking about the idea of never having met the two of them. She'd certainly be less conflicted, at least. "Regardless, you don't need to worry about this attempt. Or any other if I do my job." "True, I'd not have met you." Lian rubbed his chin as he looked in the mirror. "Hmm, mane up or mane down today?" "Up, you're going to need to change outfits several times." she says, pulling out the spare set of armor she hid under Lian's armoire's base and setting about equipping it. "Joy, Dress-Up Lian, everyone's favourite." he said with a chuckle, pulling up his mane as he hummed to himself. "What is it the Prench say? Noblisse Obligé?" She pulled on the last of her armor and slipped a yukata on over it, silk and steel once more. "Besides, think of it as being one area where brother dearest can't hope to keep up with you: Style." "Oooh that is so so true. And his hoofmaiden isn't nearly as beautiful and deadly." he said with a nod as he finished his mane. "I think that eats at him just as badly." "Pfft. The fewer who know I'm not just a pretty pearl on your arm the better. It makes my job easier." she replies, bringing out a simple happi coat and hachimaki headband. "Dockworkers' guild first." "Well at the same time, if everyone knew, I'm sure no one would try." Lian replied as he got dressed to impress, while still remaining appropriate for the location. "I'm not immortal, my prince." Si Jin answered, making a couple of adjustments to the set of the coat. "I must sleep, and eat, and I can't be in two places at once. Some of us didn't get THAT talent." Her tone was somber, but not rebuking or reproachful. "And there ARE shinobi more skilled than I am. There are rules that can protect you, but only while I live, and only if I'm in the good graces of my mentors, which I remind you I am not." "Fair enough. But at the very least, were someone to try and harm you, let me remind you that I'm certainly not harmless myself, and would do my best to defend you, should the need arise." "I know, I just worry." she replies offhoof. She had to admit to herself it probably didn't sound like a professional concern, but her tones were always neutral and guarded, so it might pass for that. "I likely have more knowledge of electricity than any Kirin or Ryuma ought to thanks to your training sessions. We need to restart those soon, by the way, but the Watchers seem to have discovered our previous dojo." It was an empty quarry, Hitomi, don't act like it was in Longri-La. "It's hard not to be discovered when bolts of lightning shoot out from 'nowhere'." he said shaking his head. "I don't understand why they cannot just let us train in peace..." "Well, from their perspective, you vanish for hours at a time, doing dangerous exercises. And their job is to keep you and the palace safe. They just aren't as good at it as I am." "Dangerous perhaps to them or my siblings. But I didn't spend years at the Monastary making tea cozies..." "Another thing to consider, then. Their duties also require they protect your siblings." the ninja said, picking a loose thread off the shoulder. "Well it's not as though I go out of my way to harrass my siblings. On the contrary, I try to play nice with them to the best of my ability." "No, but politics being what it is..." Si Jin sighs and shakes her head. "I don't think there's anything else I can do for now. I'll have a few spare outfits for you through the day." "It's alright, thank you for everything. I'll do my best to stay out of trouble today." The prince said with a wink...pausing on his way out to give his friend a kiss on the cheek before making his exit. Si Jin stood still for a few moments with a hoof on her cheek, then hurried after Lian, summoning a fan from somewhere on her person to cover the blush. Today was shaping up to be a good day for an unexpected change.
  5. *OOC REQUIRED READING*: http://www.canterlot.com/topic/22604-lore-long-guo-mount-faba/ This should have been the crowning achievement of Dr. Merlot's career. No prize in the field of archaeology had been sought after more than the resting place of the monstrous serpent dragon Faba, the Great Tyrant King of the Ancient East. According to the lore of the Long Sun, King Faba and his army of serpent dragons were turned into terracotta statues upon their overthrow and buried beneath an unknown mountain. However, most archaeologists had come to the conclusion that King Faba's mythical tomb never existed, as no evidence could be found anywhere that the supposed subterranean complex was ever constructed. ...Until now. Dr. Merlot didn't believe it at first when word privately reached his ears via new "benefactors" of his that physical evidence of King Faba's Tomb had come to light. Apparently, a shadowy cult devoted to Faba managed to safeguard a millennia-old scroll detailing the exact location of Mount Faba; a desolate nondescript mountain on Long Guo's eastern frontier. Merlot's benefactors were suspicious of the discovered clue too, hence why they sought out the good doctor for his expertise. Believe it or not, the gentlecolt's examinations revealed that the artifact in question was indeed genuine. And now from a rocky vantage point flanking the excavation camp on Mt. Faba's western slope, Merlot took in his surroundings as he fidgeted with a new pin on his lapel. ...A pin depicting the black kraken of WRAITH. Despite partaking in the greatest archaeological endeavor since the discovery of King Mutt's Tomb in Diamond Dog territory, Dr. Merlot was not in a mood to celebrate. The stallion might have been the lead archaeologist of this expedition on paper, but in truth WRAITH was in charge... and without actual clues in their possession as to the actual entrance of Faba's mausoleum nor what was inside, WRAITH's goons saw fit to carelessly drill and dynamite the mountainside wherever they pleased. Dr. Merlot tried raising objections, but was silenced; they claimed the good doctor should be grateful he had an organization backing him with the horsepower and willingness to maintain absolute security at every cost. Tsk tsk tsk... at least Merlot would get to retire in splendor as the most renowned archaeologist of all time. And there would be nopony to stop him this time!!!
  6. The Six Imperial Dynasties - The History of the Dragon Throne Long Guo is no stranger to the impermanent nature of keeping power. In the 2,000 years since the downfall of Tyrant King Faba, no less than 5 dynasties have risen and fallen in the Dragon Kingdom. As of this publication, Long Guo is on its 6th imperial dynasty. Below is a brief chronicle summarizing the historical accomplishments and failures of each of the great lineages. TIAN DYNASTY - As the brave couple that liberated and unified of the Long Sun, Empress Xi Hua and Emperor Xiao Huo were hailed as heroes of nigh-divine stature. During their reign which lasted more than 50 years, the capital city of Huangjing was built, local nobility was permanently supplanted by bureaucrats chosen by merit, and the rifts between the Qilin and Longma began to mend. But all was not well; a good number of nobles and chieftains fled across the sea to Ryushima Island, while the sons and daughters of the First Sovereigns struggled to measure up to the insurmountable legacy of their parents. When Hua and Huo's time came to an end, no heir had clearly emerged as the most worthy, and thus the imperial family descended into bickering and factionalism. Worried that the flames of familial strife would engulf Long Guo in war, a longma general deserted his post and undertook the harrowing pilgrimage to the summit of Mount Suncrest. Upon reaching Longri-La, he pleaded to the Serpent Council to grant him the Mandate to Rule instead, and that in return his descendants would be offered up for fosterage by the Long. After long and contentious debate, the Serpent Council agreed to the General's request. The Long intervened and persuaded each of Hua and Huo's offspring to give up their claim to the Dragon Throne, and thus the First Dynasty ended in a whimper. LONG DYNASTY - At nearly 800 years, the Long Dynasty was the Dragon Kingdom's longest-lived ruling family. Most of the traditions and customs of the Imperial Court were created during this era to ensure that a reigning emperor would always be held in awe by his subjects if he ruled competently. The Long Dynasty also withstood the barbarism of the eastern Taotie Hordes and the treachery of the Ryushima ninja clans, namely by erecting the Serpent's Wall to guard the eastern border and enlarging the Imperial Watch to the greatest size ever reached in its history. Eventually, the unruly northwestern region of Manechuria was brought into the fold by peaceful means. Over the centuries however, the emperors of the Long Dynasty grew more rigid and entitled in their line. So concerned they were with maintaining their otherworldly grandeur that they started to view the Wise and Noble Long as rivals for their subjects' adoration. A subsequent banning of all contact between Long Sun and Dragons proved to be the dynasty's downfall when a series of massive droughts struck the Dragon Kingdom. Forbidden by imperial decree to ask the Long to bring forth rain, the desperate populace resorted to a mass uprising which successfully brought the dynasty to an end. YE DYNASTY - Descended from the humble qilin farmer who lead the rebellion toppling the Long Dynasty, the emperors of the Ye Dynasty saw themselves as nurturers of their realm first and foremost. While keeping many of the courtly rites established by their predecessors, the Ye rulers saw more value in providing peace and plenty than battle and glory. Long Guo eschewed war during these days, and its economy and culture flourished for the next 500 years. Such affluence gave birth to envy in the hearts of the Dragon Kingdom's neighbors. Some — like the Taotie Hordes and the Viking Caribou — raided and pillaged whenever they easily could. Other nations like the newly unified Neighpon, itself recovering from a costly victory against the Caribou armies, turned to distant islands for new resources instead of risking subservience to Long Guo's interests. In the end though, all it took was one excessively greedy and incompetent monarch to cause the Ye Dynasty's collapse. Exploiting this unrest, a powerful court sorceress orchestrated a coup and installed herself as Empress. TI DYNASTY - The usurper sorceress who founded the Ti Dynasty desired a return to a more spiritual age where the Long Sun harmoniously lived side-by-side with spirit creatures. While that path ended up mostly causing conflict between equines and spirits, the Spirit Empress at least cared enough for the well-being of her realm to ensure that skilled bureaucrats were doing their job. Her successors on the other hand had no desire to govern, instead dwelling on continuing fruitless studies into the Spirit World. With Long Guo paralyzed by apathetic rulers, it was no surprise that a hundred years later, the Taotie Hordes finally breached the Serpent's Wall en masse and conquered vast swaths of land nearly unchallenged. The last Ti emperor was kidnapped by the Taotie and never seen again, leaving behind no heirs. But all was not lost. Long Guo rallied under the leadership of the Stewardess of Manechuria, a fierce pony warrior famed for defeating the Taotie Shanyu in single combat and sending the Hordes back to the eastern wastelands from whence they came. GANG DYNASTY - The next 450 years were a time of great change in Long Guo. Advances in oceanic travel was making distant corners of the world more accessible, and the Manechu emperors who now sat on the Dragon Throne were eager to capitalize by looking westward. Yet after a protracted naval war with Neighpon which ended in stalemate, the Gang emperors realized their aims were better achieved through non-violent means. It was under the Gang Dynasty that Long Guo first established connections with Equestrian civilization and saw the rise of Long Kong as a world metropolis. As the forces of industrialization entrenched themselves in the Dragon Kingdom, the Gang emperors founded a new capital to the southwest: the Steel City of Gangshi. Nicknamed the "Stalliongrad of the East", Gangshi was infamous for the wanton pollution its factories produced. After a half-century of filling the southwestern coastal waters with toxic runoff, the Long of the Oceans banded together to bring a cataclysmic typhoon upon Gangshi. The entire city was claimed by floods, putting its foul factories permanently out of commission and sending the last Gang emperor running back to Manechuria in disgrace. FENG DYNASTY - It was left to the previous Chancellor — his family being the last recognized descendants of Hua and Huo's bloodline — to relocate the capital back to Huangjing and assume the burden of rule. For the last century, the Feng Dynasty have served as guardians of the status quo; maintaining the Dragon Kingdom cultural identity while remaining competitive with the rest of the world. Only time will tell if this dynasty rises to magnificence like their legendary ancestors, or fall into infamy. ~A Reign of Ten Thousand Years Dr. Tong Ze
  7. Jiang Fēngbào (Complete)

    Roleplay Type: World of Equestria Name: Jiang Fēngbào Sex: Male Age: Adult Species: Longma Eye Color: Deep cherry Coat: Sangria reddish blue Mane & Tail: Berry blue Physique: Keeps himself in shape, tall and fit, with a presence and manner that show very well his royal upbringing. Residence: The Imperial Palace in Huangjing. Occupation: Prince of Long Guo, though one not as honored as others of the royal family. Cutie Mark: Storm clouds with a sword or jian overlaid on top. Unique Traits: Observant and with a sometime piercing sense of humor that can both bring as smile to the face as well get one to consider. Often sparking with an idea and with a swiftness in finding a solution to a problem. Can tell when a storm is ready to move in, whether it is thunder or just rain. History: Jiang doesn't discuss his mother or her side of the family with others, given the shame she brought and what she tried to do. He was just lucky that the Emperor didn't blame him for it she did, being so young, and allowed the colt to stay a part of the royal family. Despite this kindness, which he was eternally thankful for, it wasn't until later that Jiang will consider this being part of the reason why he was passed in becoming heir to the throne. Though he wouldn't learn the details of such until later, it was through pressure from her family that the young widower sought out the attention of the Emperor. This because of their desire to gain control of the throne. Yet they failed in removing him before, their plans of assassination coming to light before meeting fruition, and their punishment quite severe for their treason again the Emperor. Jiang was never able to see his mother again nor was he ever told exactly what happened to her. Jiang had no idea where he'd be, if it wasn't for having the Emperor as his father even if their familial connection with due to marriage. Though given all that had happen, colt when young found himself to be quite sensitivity to criticism, especially in connection to or mention of his mother. This was a flaw that couldn't be ignored, as such defensiveness and even upset came at the disapproval of the Emperor for such behavior even if he could see where his son was coming from. Yet time goes on and, understandably, the Emperor remarried and the royal blood continued. with Jiang admittedly finding himself at times jealous and frustrated with the lack of attention, though the colt understood that he couldn't take it out on his new sister in law nor her twin brother. Because of this, he at first tried to avoid Yù Yuè but then found himself drawn to her once she started getting a bit older. He try to keep serious and quiet but couldn't help but smile at times while watching her. Eventually, he even found himself playing with her and spending more time with Yuè as well at times even Lián. Taking up the role of an older brother to them and gaining a fondness for the young filly in particular, despite the them not being related by blood. Even though deep inside Jiang felt bothered by his situation, he didn't blame his younger siblings for such. He even took a more protective interest in Yuè, knowing how many desired the throne much more then he did and might do anything to gain such. As they grow older, Jiang take a more playful or teasing manner with Yuè and even joked around with Lián though usually when there wasn't many others around. More, he made it clear in little ways that he'd be there if she needs somepony to talk to or simply have some company, that the he'd provide a listening ear and friendly advise. That while he may good naturedly annoy her at times, he does it not out of ill intent but because he does cares. That it was his wish for her to be happy and to stay safe. That he'd come to show her kindness, becoming her friend and ally, as well offering protection from those who may try and do her harm. In how Jiang gained his cutiemark came at the surprise of both himself and others, during the night of a sudden and unexpected storm which came fiercely. Causing much damage and with many harmed. With the young stallion helping where he could in forming barriers and rescuing those in need, showing bravery and concern for those in danger despite how he had so often not involved himself or socialized as much as he could. Once the storm had past, with a few scraps for his trouble, and things had come down is when it was seen that his cutiemark had been gained. Though he was never admittedly as close with Lián as his sister, given the time he spent with their mother, the two did get along and Jiang would from time to time invite him to have a drink with him or hang out. Now that Yuè was the Empress, he keeps an eye on those seeking the throne, those who may be fair more willing to do anything to gain the throne. That when Yuè was chosen, the stallion was one of the first to bow his knee. One of the first to show his encourage and approval despite the surprise of many that the old Emperor made such a decision. Yuè was the Empress and he'd offer his quiet support, no matter where life may take them. Apart from the twins Yuè and Lián, the stallion really didn't have any friends or those that he felt close to except for the late Emperor. Jiang so often simply kept more to himself, being more approachable given his demeanor and of how the actions of his mother and her family effected him even into adulthood, yet if one approached him and offered their friendship the longma wouldn't turn them away. Instead he had focused on his education, reading and enjoying music, or keeping a watchful eye on his siblings. Personality: Generally calm and quiet, though he does have certain things that can set him off and show his temper. This largely being when discussion of his mother or her side of the family comes up, or if any speak ill of the late Emperor or his sister the current Empress. Still, he also tends to try and keep a smile on his face, with a light hearted demeanor. Not as serious as many of the royal family, given how the stallion feels he has little reason to try and stand out, the stallion is one more likely to get into trouble or mischief. More, he can reveal himself to be one who enjoys teasing and showing a more playful side around friends or family, but less open with strangers. Those who get to know him will learn that he is one very loyal to those he is close to and cares about, with a lot of passion often kept hidden. He takes enjoyment of music, literature, and walking the gardens or exploring the quiet or beautiful places of Long Guo when given the chance. His greatest motivation is making sure Yù Yuè stays safe and unharmed, to be a support to the mare.
  8. Haungjing City; the political and cultural capital of the great Empire of Long Guo. Anyone seeking the key to this ancient civilization would have to start here, and many did. Artists, writers, reporters, traders, and ambassadors congregated here, meeting the voluminous streams of local inhabitants, pilgrims, supplicants, and travelers in one large cataract of a city. It could get a little wearisome for those not used to urban environments. Of course, Halvard of Clan Breen was fully aware than cities even more congested, bustling, and discordant existed, but he had never had to spend so long a time in one for any reason. Right now, however, he found himself significantly bogged down in trade and political negotiations. It wasn't that he couldn't understand the hesitancy on the part of the Long Guo Bureaucracy; after all, caribou did not exactly have the best of international reputations, and the New Direction his clan (along with some others) wished to follow under the new High King was... disputed, to say the least, by the more unreformed elements of Caribou society. Thus, after a long day of sweating over endless reams of paper in a dusty room, Halvard had left the confines of walls and streets for an evening stroll outside in the gardens and woods surrounding Huangjing. He sighed happily, shaking his blue-dyed coat to feel the sunset breezes. All adults of his clan had their fur dyed blue; it was one of the most recognized clan signs in Whitescar. Breen were the traders and guardians of the roads, those whose sails the other coasts dreaded not, for they brought goods to trade, rather than warriors to raid. Not that they weren't warriors themselves, gods no! They just had a tendency to fight more defensively, helped by the fact that their wealth from trade enabled many fighters to afford heavy armor. Halvard wasn't wearing his, currently, or anything much for that matter. Just a satchel, along with what looked for all the world to be a cross between a pickaxe, sledgehammer, and a shovel. It was technically a weapon, but could be used for work as well. *And honestly, if any peasant here desired my help, he'd have it. I need to do something after all this... sitting around!* Snorting at the thought, he continued, in search of something interesting, beyond tiresome negotiations.
  9. Feng chuckled, settling back on the coconut matting as he finished re-reading the letter from his sister. He'd been tired when it first arrived, so tired in fact that he missed over half the puns on the first go-through. It wasn't so much that they were brilliant in themselves, but bright beacons to happy memories, and a loved one far away. Of course, he could read between the lines of Yin's 'business' talk. He knew what business she was in. And it was tough, because the disciplined guard in him abhorred crime that had been allowed to grow to that level, and that feeling was allied to the brotherly concern of one who's little sibling was mixed up in undoubted bad business. But... there were other parts to him; the troublemaker was never far beneath the surface, and it understood too well a willingness to go against the limits of social acceptability. Deeper still, though, was that darkest part, that told him that if the whole attempt to be a Watcher ended in disaster, it would be no bad thing, from a practical point of view, to have a relative holding open the door to a new life on the other side... Feng shuddered, shaking off his bedsheet to expose himself to the infirmary air. He was getting restless, the shadows in his thoughts were catching up. He needed to get up, do something at least. His still-healing body was not quite cooperating yet, but he could at least write his sister back. As soon as he got some writing materials. Beside his bed was a cord connected to a set of chimes, to be pulled when he needed assistance. He pulled it, having a good idea about who would come to answer it...
  10. *THE IMPERIAL PALACE: ROYAL BEDCHAMBERS* Curse the overdiligence of palace servants! Whereas a normal being would have been left to limp on following a sky chariot crash in the mountains, the Empress of Long Guo was confined to a world of rest and recuperation on the recommendation of the imperial household's wood synergist. As long as the healer Xiu deemed it necessary, Empress Yuè was kept a virtual prisoner in her own palace while she recovered from a bruised left foreleg and other minor cuts and lesions. Until the royal qilin's leg was fully healed, she wouldn't be permitted to go anywhere — not even to the washroom — without the assistance of a palanquin... and all its bearers. No expense was spared in maintaining the imperial sovereign's well-being. Although the Empress understood that her good health was of paramount importance to the Dragon Kingdom, it didn't make her recuperation any less frustrating. So many things Yuè could be doing to rule her nation, yet none of them feasible without constant interruptions from the many many treatments ordered by Healer Xiu each day. Between those and all the prescribed teas, the qilin mare was currently reduced to laying belly-first on her implausibly luxurious emperor-sized bed, not bothering to wear any garments. With the drapes surrounding the bed all closed, Yuè was at least free to waste the afternoon catching up on her anthology of historical Trottin Hoof ballads, all translated into Dragonese. Suddenly, Qing's voice from the entryway; "Miss Yuè, Mister Silverheart is here to see you." That news from Yuè's personal assistant elicited a smile out of the qilin. "Send him in," she authoritatively instructed. The silver-maned stallion from Trottingham never failed to be a good source of company; something the Empress could probably use right about now.....
  11. & --------------- In the sanctuary of her private quarters, Empress Yuè gazed upon an old photograph of her and her sworn sister Lián Mei, taken many years ago. Back when they were still little fillies without their cutie marks. The royal qilin could still remember the time they spent together — the day they met even — like it was yesterday..... *FENGHUANG VILLAGE: SEVERAL YEARS AGO* Amidst the hustle and bustle of the village market, a little qilin filly with a coat of mutton fat jade looked about aimlessly. Unknown to merchants and shoppers alike was how this filly was no mere qilin, but rather a Princess of Long Guo. She had come to stay with her mother, who had once been wife of the Emperor until growing discomforted with Palace life. The filly in question, Yù Yuè, stayed with her mother on an estate on the northern outskirts of the village for the duration of her visit. Naturally, a royal filly like Yuè got bored when cooped up in a relatively modest house. Good thing her mother (and more importantly, the few servants in her employ) wasn't the over-protective sort. That meant freedom to explore Fenghuang Village as she pleased. Yuè's brother was off doing his own thing, so it was the pint-sized princess by herself..... --------------- Mom and Dad were working the fields, and most of her friends had gone on vacation to the royal city itself. Both of which meant she was very, very bored. And it wasn't even fair that Starshine and Sugarcane got to go to Huangjing, either! Their parents had planned the trip for ages, but when she'd asked her own parents, she'd been told no. No Mei, we don't have money to travel to Huangjing right now, no Mei, probably not tomorrow either. Maybe Mei, maybe in the future. Which meant she got left behind to wander around the village and be boooooored. Mei huffed to herself as she trot through the marketplace, eyeing the vendors she passed. Mother had asked her to separate the rice stalks from the grains, but she had finished that very early on...well. Mostly finished it. Which meant she was free to take the rest of the day off to go explore...as if there was anything left in this small town to explore. Although maybe the old grandpa had his shaved ice stall already opened for the day... Still, as the young Qilin aimlessly flounced her way through the marketplace, the sight of an unfamiliar filly drew her up cold. Because she knew every filly in the village, there weren't that many of them, after all! "Hey!" she called up, and flounced straight up to the pale colored filly, interest sparking in her eyes. "Who are you?" --------------- Yuè's ambling came to a halt when she heard the sound of a qilin filly her age calling out to her. The royal qilin was not shy by any stretch of the imagination, but her natural caution expressed itself as she reflexively took a step back from the newcomer to preserve her personal space. And yet, it struck Yuè just how... uniquely pleasing the blue filly's streaked mane looked to the eye. Like a stream of beautiful fire shooting out in the night. Even Yuè had to feel a ping of jealousy for the commoner girl. As a cautious princess however, Yuè had no desire to reveal her royal heritage to the stranger. "Oh, uhhh... my name is Yuè." Despite herself, the pale filly couldn't help flourish her introduction by nodding her head and joining her forehooves in a bow, having been endlessly drilled on that by her etiquette tutors back home in the Imperial Capital. "It's a pleasure to meet you....." --------------- Yuè? Like moon? Pretty name! Though Mei had to pause and gawk rather openly at the filly as she dipped into a formal bow, one that the vivid blue Qilin hesitantly returned in a less than graceful manner. "Um, hi," she said in return, still a bit confused. The filly had a funny way of talking, nothing like the charming drawl that was so common in these parts. And nobody introduced themselves like that around here, either. Further evidence that this Yuè was from elsewhere...possibly from one of the big cities! "I'm Mei!" the Qilin introduced brightly as she got over the awkward introduction, "Do you want to play together? Ooh, wait, let's go get some shaved ice first!" And just like that, Mei linked one hoof through the other filly's foreleg, bodily tugging her along the market road even as she glanced back over one shoulder. "All my friends are visiting Huangjing, they've been gone forever," she complained, because a week was forever. "It must be so wonderful there...are you from Huangjing?" Mei questioned, not letting up the insistent tugging for one instant. The stall was somewhere along this road... "You're not from around here, right? Are you a traveler?" --------------- Back in the Palace, nobody — not even the servants — would have dared laid a hoof on Princess Yuè. Which was why her eyes shot wide open as Mei grabbed her leg and tugged her along. And... just what was this shaved ice? Sounded like a strange concoction! Although shocked by Mei's boldness, Yuè offered no resistance to the other's decisive demeanor. "You are correct..." the Princess chose her words carefully; "I do live in the Imperial Capital. My brother and I are visiting here for a little while. I understand that you are one of the villagers, Mei?" The filly with the fire-streaked hair clearly had a rural drawl in her accent, after all. --------------- So she'd been right! A filly from the Imperial Capital...she was already green with envy! "That must be wonderful, living at the capital," Mei sighed wistfully, already dreaming of what life must be like in the city...before realizing Yuè had, in fact, asked her a question. "Yup! We don't get many visitors, though," she answered, craning her neck a bit to try and find her home. It was down the slope from the marketplace, and could sometimes be seen from the hillside - but in the thick of the market stalls, it may as well have not existed at all. Certainly not as interesting as a house in the Imperial city, that was for sure! "I live near the rice paddies - there's a nice little forest there," she said flippantly, not keen on talking about her boring home in her boring village - mostly because they were boring, but also because there was the stall! And it was open! "Oh, there it is!" Mei exclaimed brightly, only releasing her hold on Yuè in front of the stall, where the elder Qilin smiled down at the two of them. "Hello!" Mei cried out, rearing up slightly on her hooves to get a better stock on the available toppings. Sweet red bean was a must, of course, but the other toppings varied based on the season and available produce. "One shaved ice, please! With...rice cake and flakes, and...hmmm...." The young filly carefully pursued the select fruit toppings, running a critical eye over them, before turning her gaze onto Yuè. "What sort of toppings do you want, Yuè? We can share one!" --------------- Rice paddies? Did Mei come from a farming family? Princess Yuè may have never met a farmer before, but she had always been told by her father to respect them for their immense contributions to maintain Long Sun society. If Yuè played her mahjong tiles right, maybe she could get Mei to take her to the paddies sometime later. Now that she was away from Huangjing, this would be her best chance to actually see how farmers worked the land! Yuè respectfully stood back rather than join Mei im flexing her body to better see the topics. So... this was shaved ice. The princess never knew that ice could be any color other than clear. How fascinating, indeed! It was almost like the first time when Yuè was shown by the Wise and Noble Dragons that there was other colors to fire than just red. That had also been a most breathtaking experience! Onto the matter of toppings. "Hmmm..." Yuè's long hair majestically blew in the wind as she briefly pondered, although she really didn't think things through when she innocently asked; "Do you have any immortal peaches?" Still mostly naive to the ways of the world beyond Palace walls, Princess Yuè had not yet grasped that such a rare and heavenly variety of fruit like the Peaches of Immortality wouldn't be found anywhere outside Longri-La or the Imperial Palace..... --------------- An immortal peach? What sort of fruit was immortal? Mei didn't know, and neither did she understand the strange look the elder Qilin gave the filly, like he wasn't sure if Yuè was just joking around or not. She did know, however, that she had never heard of such a thing, and certainly not at this shaved ice stall! Nor of any sort of immortal fruit, either! "I don't think we have that sort of fruit here...or any other long-lived fruits," Mei said thoughtfully, face scrunching up as she tried remembering talk of any sort of immortal fruit. It still sounded strange to her, causing the young filly to shake her head and return to the most pressing matter at hoof. "How about some melon? And honeydew!" Mei licked her lips as the toppings were added, eyes taking in every spoonful of the added treats, before turning back to Yuè. "Maybe some blackberries too? They aren't immortal though," the filly half-warned, half-explained, "In fact, they'll probably go out of season in a few days." --------------- Princess Yuè looked at Mei with quizzical eyes. How could anyone not know what the Peaches of Immortality were? They were only the most sacred fruit grown and eaten by the Elder Serpents, valued for the mystical boons granted to any who ate them. Over the millennia , many crafty spirits and other dubious characters had tried and failed to acquire the famed immortal peaches of Longri-La. But the princess wasn't too disappointed thankfully, but a little flushed in the cheeks for sure. "Oh, I see..." When told what other fruit she could settle for, Yuè answered; "If blackberries are going out of season soon, it would be disgraceful to not eat them while we have the chance..." --------------- Mei beamed at the filly, pleased with her acquiescence, before nodding firmly at the vendor. "Blackberries, please!" she asserted, and with one last lingering look at Yuè, he slathered on the last of the fruit. Everything came together in a pleasing array of colors, and Mei couldn't help inhaling the fruity smell a bit. "Thanks!" It cost her the last of the dragons her parents had given her as allowance two days ago, but for Mei, it was worth it, as the plastic bowl was hoofed over to her, with two plastic spoons entrenched in the shaved ice. "Come on, let's go eat by the flowers," Mei demanded of her new friend, and, with the bowl held carefully between her hooves, she began leading the way. The place "by the flowers" was fairly near the marketplace, on a gently sloping hill that was dotted with wildflowers of every imaginable color. A long willow tree, grown over easy centuries, was around the middle of the slope, and Mei chose a shady spot that was almost directly underneath it, close enough for the delicate branches to brush against their backs with each breeze. That was all secondary information to Mei, however, well accustomed to this spot. Shaved ice was a much more uncommon treat, and one she was fully prepared to enjoy as the filly wasted no time shoveling herself a mouthful - to her immediate chagrin. "C-cold, cold!" the vivid blue Qilin yelped, having inserted a far larger spoonful into her mouth than was wise. That didn't stop her from taking a second scoop, one of a more acceptable size that had her eyes closing in bliss. "He always shaves the ice real thin," Mei explained, holding out the bowl for the other filly to take her spoon and partake in the cool treat. "Here, try!" https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/f1/57/ef/f157efd922b892d98c4b0b47d161e2fb.jpg --------------- With the way Princess Yuè's sparkled, one might have assumed she never saw flowers in her entire life. That assumption would be blatantly wrong obviously; what sort of royal Long Sun filly wouldn't have been exposed to expansive gardens of every flower imaginable imaginable? But it was the first time Yuè had been exposed to a vista created entirely by Nature. From here, the two girls had a vantage point overlooking the nearby river, and well... such things can be hard to describe. Yuè appeared confounded when Mei took a large bite too icy to handle, but was relieved when her companion recovered. Afterward, Mei encouraged Yuè to have a bite for herself. If Mei's scoop of the spoon had been too large, Yuè's scoop was the exact opposite. Accustomed to Palace dining etiquette, Yuè ate with the uttermost precision and delicateness, taking her time to chew on and savor the single ice-covered blackberry she gobbled up. The sweet taste of the treat couldn't be denied. "It's so wonderful!" Yuè immediately went for another scoop, no bigger than her first..... --------------- Mei beamed at the filly, pleased with her reaction to the shaved ice. Her town did not boast of much, sadly, but the food was rather wonderful, in her humble opinion. And the deserts? Ten times so! The smile on her face was quick to turn into a frown, however, as she observed Yuè taking her second bite of the frozen treat, that equated to nothing more than a single blackberry. "No, you're eating it wrong," she said, aggrieved, and before the other filly could argue, Mei had grabbed her spoon and scooped it into the shaved ice. "See? You've got to get a mix of everything all at once!" she instructed, her tongue poking out between her lips as she concentrated on generating the perfect scoop of shaved ice. Red bean, melon, some rice cake...there! With the spoon now rightfully ladened with a myriad of flavors, Mei held it back out for Yuè to retrieve, looking at her expectantly. "Go on go on, try it now!" --------------- Huh... apparently there were unique protocols for eating shaved ice. The end result of a proper scoop looked rather large though. Not to fear though; Yuè could eat it all up if she was careful enough! Ensuring she remained a proper lady worthy of her royal lineage, the princess took another small bite; this time, consuming a melon. No matter how big her scoops, Yuè would keep on eating with refinement..... --------------- Mei frowned again as Yuè took another small bite, but after a moment, simply shrugged, and returned to eating. Maybe Yuè just had really strict parents that had really strict table manners. Starshine used to complain about always being forced to wear a napkin on her lap during meals - maybe Yuè's parents simply didn't like her taking big bites. Which was a shame, because shaved ice was best enjoyed with the biggest bites conceivable. "Good, right?" she encouraged, tail flicking happily as she looked over the landscape. This was one of her favorite spots in the village, with the river flowing below, and it always looked the best at noon, when the sun shone brightly against its waters. She supposed it was as much an attraction as anything her town had to offer...which actually made her wonder something else. "Hey, what're you and your brother visiting here for, anyways?" Mei questioned, without thought for tact or privacy as she swung her head towards the other filly, spoon lolling in her mouth. "D'you have relatives living here? I don't know why else you guys would visit when you live in Huangjing!" --------------- Princess Yuè thought it over for a minute whether to answer Mei's latest question or not. If people around here knew who Yuè's mother had once been, then telling Mei who she was visiting might give her a clue to discern Yuè's true identity. On the other hoof, Yuè understood that small towns and villages were havens of gossip. Chances are that sooner or later, Mei would figure things out anyway. And so Yuè decided to speak the truth. "We're here to visit our mother for the next few weeks. She lives at the estate north of this village." Mei probably knew about it already; the enclosed compound with an expansive garden. In essence, it was basically a piece of Huangjing's Inner Ward transplanted to the countryside. After several more bites of shaved ice, she hesitantly offered; "Since you were generous enough to share this delicacy with me, I could perhaps show you around... if it won't be an inconvenience, that is." A bit spur of the moment, but like Father always taught, kindness should always be reciprocated with kindness..... --------------- The spoon came perilously close to slipping completely out of Mei's mouth, but her tongue caught it at the last second, leaving it to wobble precariously. Which was completely acceptable, because she had a bit more to pay attention to. "You're mother lives there?" Mei exclaimed, leaning forward right into Yuè's personal space and nearly upsetting the bowl of shaved ice. She couldn't not be blamed, however, honestly not, because that estate and its mysterious inhabitant had been the talk of the village for more than a little while now. The extravagance by itself was enough to turn heads, completely out of place in the rural surroundings, and Mei had been one of the curious to go sniffing around the perimeter from time to time, as if she might be granted entrance one day. And that day, was today. "I've always wanted to see inside, it looks so beautiful!" the young filly sighed, eyes going misty as she imagined what sort of beautiful lady must call the manor home. Some important, upper class lady from the Imperial City, maybe? Could Yuè be the daughter of some noble's family? But then why was her mother living all the way out here? All good questions that could be answered another time, because shewasgoingtoseetheinsideaaaah! "Let's go let's go!" the blue Qilin demanded, and shoveled spoonfuls of the shaved ice into her mouth in an attempt to make it disappear faster. She wasn't quick to ignore her companion however, thrusting the bowl at Yuè in an attempt to solicit help in finishing off the treat faster. "I'd love to see the inside, I want to see the foyer - ooh! And the dining room must be very lavish - and does it have a ballroom? And an inner garden? Oh, hurry, let's go see it right now!" She was beginning to get a brain freeze, but that was alright. Because in a few moments she would actually be looking around inside the manor. And that was worth a few minutes of chilled brain, thank you very much. *END PART ONE*
  12. From the album The Character Corner (Color!)

    Just as the title says! App Will come soon!
  13. In the middle of the Void, a qilin emperor spoke from his perch on the Dragon Throne; "You must honor our traditions, my daughter." The young qilin mare vainly attempted to reach out to the emperor; "Wait, Father...!!!" Too late: the Emperor withered away into ashes right in front of the horrified mare. CRASH! BOOM! The heavens roared with the fury of lightning and the roar of typhoon-force winds! The qilin mare screamed desperately as she hanged onto her plummeting sky chariot. Before her laid nothing but the maw of the abyss, and sharp piercing cold..... ----------------- With a great gasp, Empress Yuè shot up on all fours! She was on an icy mountaintop in the middle of an alpine blizzard, mere inches from a vertigo-inducing precipice. Startled, the qilin mare back away from the edge and took in everything around her to get a sense of her situation. Yuè's robes were in tatters, and bruises covered a good portion of her body. One foreleg even had a cut that was bleeding! No serious injuries though, that was fortunate. As the qilin exhaled, she was able to generate small puffs of flame which warmed the air around her, if only too briefly. Her ability to breathe dragonfire remained intact too. The memories of Yuè weren't all that clear though. She and the Shogun of Neighpon had been making a joint voyage to Longri-La via sky chariot. There had been a large serpent dragon spotted off in the distance... except it looked more beastly than noble. The next thing they knew, the entire retinue was at the mercy of a freak storm and the chariot drivers couldn't maintain altitude. No safe spaces anywhere to crash land in the Ancients' Abode, but there was a flat patch of snow on a mountainside. In a snap decision, the bodyguards must have tossed the Empress and Shogun onto the smoothest patch of land there was. As flight wouldn't have been possible under such conditions, the bodyguards would have gone down with the chariot down in the rocky chasms below. In front of Yuè laid an entrance to a cave... shelter! That must have been the other reason why she and Shogun Ryuichi were thrown onto the mountainside. Here was a place the royals could take refuge until a rescue party could recover them. But... where was the Shogun? The distressed empress cried out; "RYUICHI!!!" A couple more seconds later, and visual scanning finally found the ryuma stallion. It... didn't look too good for the Neighponese shogun.....
  14. Music wafted through the streets and alleys of Downtown Long Kong, the raucous blaring of club speakers and the excited chatter of patrons carrying even into the quieter portions of town. As the distance from the riverfront increased, the architecture morphed from the sleek, modern design of Long skyscrapers and entertainment venues into more traditional stylings of Long Kong suburbia. The last rumble of distant thunder gently shook windows and sent ripples through the water pooling in the cobbles. In spite of the passing of the storm, a humid haze lingered at street level, its sticky miasma clinging to the coats of goers-about like hitchhiker seeds. Bucephalus shook the last of the rain out of his mane. Or rather, the mane he had assumed. This form was of a well-built pegasus stallion, his coat the white of freshly cleaned bone with mane and fetlocks the hue of rusted iron. His heavy footfalls reflected martial discipline, but the measured rhythm of his steps reflected high-born pedigree. Thankfully, he had managed to shelter in the metro station before the worst of the storm had struck. Water beaded off his coat and clung to the strands of his mane, but he was otherwise none the worse for wear. But now another problem presented itself. A low growl shook his stomach and put a cringe to his face. It was a long walk to get to the main street Downtown. His dwindling bits meant an unnecessary train ride was out of the question. As if granted by providence, a ramen shop was just around the next block. Bucephalus took one whiff of the delicious scent of soba and broth and began salivating. Love and friendship fed changeling magical reserves, but food was what filled a hungry belly. Furthermore, staying to do dishes or assist with cooking meant a few more bits to pay for lodging for the night and food the next day. With nothing left to lose, Bucephalus hoofed open the door and stepped inside, taking a seat upon one of the cushions by the low counter.
  15. [Region] Manechuria

    Manechuria - Land of the Free Range In the north of Long Guo lies the region of Manechuria; the one place in the Dragon Kingdom where draconinc ungulates are somewhat scarce. Here, ponies are the dominant species; not the Qilin and Longma. Although the cultures of the Manechus and the Long Sun are heavily intertwined, Manechu ponies never quite fit the societal norms established by their draconic cousins. Unlike the rest of Long Guo's habitable areas, Manechuria is primarily a land of open plains, pristine forests (home to ferocious Manechurian tigers!), and lakes as still as glass. Not counting the inhospitable terrain on the Dragon Kingdom's eastern marches, this region is the country's least developed. Aside from the regional capital in Heijing — a modest port city on the southwest shore of the Hei Bay — Manechuria is not much else than villages, scattered homesteads, and the occasional market town; most notably Autumn Leaf Town, a trade and forestry hub on the southeastern Manechurian border. Manechu tales proudly tell of their ancestors; nomadic warrior tribes who used to roam the coastal plains from the northeastern tundras to the Fenghuang River Delta way to the south. The Manechu tribes competed against one another, and the then-equally divided Long Sun, for land and spoils. That all changed two thousand years ago with the birth of the Dragon Kingdom: with the union of the Qilin and Longma, the Manechus realized they could not afford disunity any longer. The Manechu ponies rallied around their most battle-hardened chieftain; from that leader came a line of princes and princesses that reigned for well over five hundred years. Under the rule of these royal chieftains, the Manechus gathered their strength in the northern territory now named Manechuria. From their lands, the Manechus raided the Long Sun to the south and successfully resisted assimilation into the Dragon Kingdom for half a millennium. Events to the west drove Long Guo to seek a peaceful resolution to the Manechurian dilemma. Having lost an entire armada in a disastrous invasion of troublesome Ryushima Island, Long Guo's emperor needed a swift way to recover from his losses. His quick and easy solution? Finally cementing an alliance with Manechuria. The Manechu rulers were to pay nominal homage to the Dragon Throne, and to continue governing in the Emperor's name as hereditary Stewards. In exchange, Manechuria was granted semi-autonomy and a powerful ally bound to come to their aid against foreign invaders (Viking Caribou marauders were starting to become a grave concern at the time). Peace has prevailed, allowing the destinies of the Manechu ponies to intertwine with those of the Qilin and Longma. True to their nomadic roots, Manechus with the ability and means are strongly encouraged to migrate beyond their home region in use of their talents. Merchants and craftsponies of Manechu origin are accordingly a common sight throughout Long Guo and beyond... along with their families. Ironically, most residents of the various "Little Huangjings" found in Equestria's great metropolises are actually Manechu or ponies of Manechu ancestry. Of all the aspects of Manechu culture that have rubbed off on the Long Sun, the most prominent (or infamous) meme would be the dream of life on the "free range". In a society like Long Guo's which emphasizes community cohesion above all else, there will always be those who don't quite fit in: drifters, adventurers, warriors (armed and unarmed), and more. Although this parallel sub-society of free rangers can be encountered in many corners of the Dragon Kingdom, it is the unspoiled countryside of Manechuria where such souls will find a true haven. Away from the stifling influence of a faceless imperial bureaucracy — and its insistence of infantilizing the population with armies of clerks and constables — a chivalrous hero in Manechuria is free to perfect their abilities and use them for good. Most Manechus no longer live a warrior's life, but they've never forgotten their ancestors. To the Manechu ponies, all who choose a "free range" life are accorded a place of honor higher than even the majestic serpent dragons. ~Beyond the Imperial Capital Dr. Tong Ze Map:
  16. Empress Yu Yue

    From the album Elder's Flower Bed

    Empress Yu Yue? More like Empress Yu Yu-bae! (Somebody please put me out of my misery) Check out that ear! What a piercing she'll have, courtesy of your friendly vagabond peryton trash! Nothing like a friendly poke from Lucy.
  17. Yun He

    From the album Elder's Flower Bed

    Yun He, the ice-cold longma. (:
  18. *INNER WARD OF HUANGJING NEARBY IMPERIAL ACADEMY FOR MAGICAL STUDY* All around Yù Yuè was nothing but the serenity of trees, a crystal-clear pond, and a quacking pair of mandarin ducks swimming about in it. Even an Elder Long could be lulled to sleep by the soothing qualities of nature pervading the area. The Empress — garbed in a sparkling shimmersilk robe of floral patterns on red — looked just as scenic as her surroundings. A modest crown (by Long Sun standards) decorated the royal mare's head, her hair meticulously styled to accentuate the neckline. All in all, a creature of imperial elegance. The stallion currently privileged to stand beside Empress Yuè was one of the newer instructors at the Imperial Academy, a dutiful unicorn named Silverheart whom was personally recommended to the Academy posting by the Empress. A token band of hoofmaidens and bodyguards stood in silent vigil behind, ensuring the Empress and her companion enjoyed all the privacy they needed. Obstinately, Yuè had come to relay how pleased the Academy's headmaster was with Silver's performance so far... and to extend to the Equestrian an invitation to a palace banquet tonight. Yuè's brother — Prince Hēi Lián — would finally be home in Huangjing with his retinue a few hours from now after an extended stay in the Western realms. Doubtless Lián will be surprised to find a celebration in his honor ready for his return. Yuè missed him dearly. For one reason or another, the conversation between Empress Yuè and Instructor Silverheart meandered onto other topics. At the moment, the focus of Yuè's tangent were the mandarin ducks she was pointing out to the unicorn next to her; ".....They say in Long Kong that the drake and the hen make an odd couple, because their plumage is nothing alike. And yet the pair mates for life, all the same." Nobody could ask for a more serene moment. Only a being of pure chaos would wish otherwise.....
  19. Morning court in Huangjing's Imperial Palace always begin the same way. As per tradition, the imperial monarch's courtiers assemble during most early mornings in the Hall of the Dragon Throne; the largest and most central structure within the royal complex. Inside is a tall and expansive throne room: every square inch inside is lavished with gold ornamentation and countless decorative motifs, while rows of pillars support the weight of the ceiling above. At the head of the great audience hall sits the fabled Dragon Throne; a gold-forged treasure raised above the rest of the room by a massive set of marble stairs, and adorned with depictions of majestic serpent dragons both on the chair itself and the enormous backdrop behind. Precious few ever get a glimpse inside the Hall of the Dragon Throne, but those who do and describe what they see never fail to add further fuel to the legends about its unearthly splendor. Truly a worthy throne room for an emperor or empress of Long Guo. Once the courtiers assemble on both sides of the hall (leaving a wide gap in the middle), the Empress finally enters to take her seat, flanked by the solemn brocade-clad guards of the Imperial Watch. All the gathered officials are expected to kowtow at this time, shouting; "LONG LIVE THE EMPRESS! LONG MAY SHE REIGN!" With proper reverence to the Heavenly Daughter of Dragons having been demonstrated, proceedings of court can finally begin. All those gathered must abide by the ancient rules of stately decorum: step directly in front of the stairs leading to the Throne when prompted by the Empress, always step forward (for the chief ministers who stood in front) or walk to the hall's center when commenting on the words of another, no outbursts of unchecked emotion, no gazing directly at the Empress unless addressing her, and NEVER use the sovereign's given name..... — The Empress herself looked radiant as an empress should. Decked in her finest diyi of red shimmersilk along with a delicate crown of great beauty, there was little doubt that the qilin mare looked the part of Long Guo's ruler. Her attention this morning was drawn towards a very important guest, standing in front but off towards the side. His presence meant that today's morning court would be a symbolically important one. "Before we move on to usual matters of state, there is a very important dignitary among us today who must be granted due attention. He has traveled a long distance, in the name of friendship between beings... of all nations. .....May the honorable Shogun of Neighpon present himself at this time."
  20. Qirai Hibana [Final]

    Qirai Name: Qirai Hibana [Hibana Qirai] Sex: Female Age: Young-Mare - Around early university age. Species: Ryuma [Longma - Neighpon Descent] Eye-Color: Light green going from (#b3ffb3) to (#e6ffe6) Coat: Silver (#d9d9d9) with pale-green scales and hooves (#b3ffb3) Mane/Tail: Cerulean-Sky Blue (#66a3ff) for the mane, with brown (#604020) horns native of her species on her head. Her tail is the same cerulean as her mane until the tip where it's the same light green as her eyes and scales. Physique: Bulky, yet aerodynamic. Her tail is extremely long and slender, which makes it easy for her to wrap around her torso when flying under the maglev rails. Residence: Lives in a small home underneath the maglev rails in Polohama, Neighpon, for easy repairs. Occupation: Maglev Repair mare in-training/Student Cutie Mark: Maglev Front-car, streaks behind it. Unique Traits: Breath Magic: As a Ryuma, she is born with an innate draconic-style breath magic. As a member of the Hibana clan, her breath focuses on the chidori-style (aka Lightning breath), though she can do basic flame breath (hono-style) for simple maglev repairs. Maglev Repair: The Maglev trains are one of the greatest inventions after made in the world, let alone in the great city of Polohama. Well, at least that's what one young repair-mare would say if asked about them. She still attends the prestigous Polohama Institute of Maglev Advances, focusing on the repair of the rails. In fact, the repairs can make use of either the heat of the flame breath along with the magnetic properties of the lightning breath. History: Qirai was born as the next head of the family to the prestigous Hibana clan, born in the heart of one of Ryushima's oldest villages. Her parents were ready to move into one of the neighboring larger cities when she was rather young, given that Ryushima probably didn't have the best education around, along with the safety problems of being out in the middle of nowhere. The choice was second-guessed on their trip, set on hoof, down to the bustling city of Polohama. It was only intended to be a short stop before continuing to move on towards Kyoma, but the young filly Qirai was fascinated by the Maglev trains roaring past above her. She did however notice that one of the support beams had a sizable crack in it, so it basically was second nature for her to try and help. After taking in a deep breath, and before her parents could stop her, she blew the hottest flame breath she could. That not only resulted in the beam's crack getting temporarily repaired, it also caused her to emit sparks from her mouth as the breath died down. She was exhausted from that, collapsing in her parent's hooves. Waking up in a first aid station of one of the nearby maglev stops, they were...curious at the very least on how she did that for such a young ryuma. Now, she couldn't really...talk very well for a good 2 to 3 hours after such a heated breath, but if she could've made noise, she would've screamed for joy when she pulled the covers off, to reveal her shiny new cutie mark. It didn't take long after that for the Hibana family to decide to settle down in Polohama (...mainly due to Qirai's little stunt making the rail company want to keep a close eye on her) and, ignoring those beginning years, her pre-adult life was rather...boring. She graduated primary school early, so she started attending PIMA early, and she still attends classes to this day, working part-time as a repair-mare to not only earn an income, but to also hone her skills for when she can finally obtain a repair station of her own. Character Summary: Quick to react and even quicker to action, Qirai is one Ryuma you do not want to cross. She lives in Polohama and still attends classes when not working as an apprentice repair-mare in one of Polohama's various repair stations.
  21. The Imperial Government of Long Guo - The Immortal Bureaucracy Few nations have thrived for more than two thousand years like Long Guo. Even more remarkable is the fact that for most of the Dragon Kingdom’s history, the serpentine and majestic Long have taken a backseat in the country’s affairs. Thus, unlike Equestria where nigh-immortal rulers serve as the primary figureheads and guardians, the imperial monarchy of Long Guo depend on another form of immortality; that of a pervasive centralized government. The First Imperial Sovereigns — Empress Xi Hua and Emperor Xiao Huo — understood that without the ability to singlehandedly safeguard their land from threats and disasters, they (and their successors) would have to empower an army of loyal servants to do their bidding. As even the tyrannical dragon King Faba had discovered, it was difficult to govern a country when a ruler could only be in one place at any given time. Borrowing from Faba’s (then) radical ideas on governance, the First Imperial Sovereigns permanently removed local nobles from power all over Long Guo, replacing them with appointed magistrates selected by merit. More reforms were needed however to guarantee the future prosperity of newly unified Long Guo. If such a nation wanted to thrive without constant assistance from the long-lived Elder Dragons, it would have to become as grand and advanced as possible, with the capability to free most of the populace from the drudgery of civic labor. Eschewing the practice of a local community banding together on public projects (as is still common in many parts of Equestria), the Long Sun emperors created a vast Civil Service of professional laborers, constables, clerks, and other functionaries; all under the ultimate oversight of the Imperial Court. With a state-funded apparatus able to construct expansive infrastructure projects like irrigation canals and roads, Long Guo thus became the nurturing cradle of many of the world’s oldest cities, like the capital city of Huangjing. Long Guo’s government structure has not changed much in over two thousand years. Most municipalities do not elect their own leaders; magistrates appointed by the Emperor instead hold court in large cities and economically vital towns, exercising executive and judicial powers at the local level. Although wise emperors and magistrates come and go, the vast Civil Service provides a continuity of competent, meritorious bureaucracy no matter who rules the land. To qualify for a particular government post or promotion, one must first past the appropriate imperial examination. Grueling affairs, these days-long exams test a scholar’s knowledge of subjects he or she is expected to utilize in their position along with the precepts of the Path of the Dragon. Although this examination system has produced countless able officials throughout hundreds of generations, a lack of focus on evaluating one’s original thinking means that true visionaries within the imperial bureaucracy are few and far between. Ultimate legislative, executive, and judicial authority rests with an emperor or empress. Among other duties, the Emperor serves as the bridge between the earthly Long Sun and the heavenly Long. As per the Heavenly Pact between the imperial monarchy and the Serpent Council of Longri-La, only those qilin or longma fostered in foalhood by the Matron are eligible to sit on the Dragon Throne. Thus, the imperial sovereign is the sole Long Sun considered by ritual law to be the equal of the Serpent Dragons, requiring that ruler to always conduct and display themselves in a manner emulating the heavenly majesty of the Long. In reality, that requirement leads the Imperial Court to flaunt its power and aloofness for all to see; a practice that critics sometimes called “governance by opulence”. One of the most important reforms of the current ruling dynasty has been the introduction of advocates. Chosen by leading members of a community or industry, advocates represent their constituents’ interests in the Imperial Court and possess the same prestige as the highest-ranked bureaucrats. An advocate’s role is to petition the Emperor on any matter: addressing critical issues, adopting draft laws, and appealing decisions of local magistrates. Like members of the bureaucracy, advocates also must pass imperial examinations to be qualified to represent constituents before the Imperial Court. While this government structure is uniform throughout most of the Dragon Kingdom, the coastal metropolis of Long Kong is the biggest exception. In stark contrast to the rest of the realm, Long Kong’s municipal government utilizes concepts of democracy and separation of powers inspired by lands across the sea. The city’s Legislative Council members, Chief Executive, and Imperial Court advocate are elected into office by Long Kong’s citizens, while judges operate under a completely distinct legal code. The power of the Emperor is heavily constrained in Long Kong; all his edicts must be approved by the Legislative Council and co-signed into municipal law by the Chief Executive before coming into effect, and even then imperial edicts can potentially be overturned if challenged in the Municipal Court. Only in overseeing Long Kong’s foreign affairs does the imperial government function unchecked, although a growing number of local voices argue that even that is an anachronism in this modern age. ~A Reign of Ten Thousand Years Dr. Tong Ze
  22. The Harmonious Path - The True Road to Balance PART I: The Canonical Texts PART II: The Five Aspects of the Dragon PART III: The Branches of the Harmonious Path NOTE: This work of Unofficial Lore is a deeper look into a subject first introduced in the Realm Lore for Long Guo.
  23. An Xiang [Ready]

    Name: An Xiang (Serene) Gender: Female Age: Mature young adult Species: Qilin Eye colour: Dark blue Coat: Purple fur and indigo scales Mane and tail: Dark red in colour, mane is tied back and tail trimmed Physique: Somewhat skinny Residence: Huangjing, she has a modest estate (relative to the region) in the Inner Ward Occupation: Chancellor to the Empress of Long Guo Cutie Mark: A stylized plateau surrounded by clouds, represents an ability to maintain a level head amidst hostility and chaos. Unique Traits: Though she lacks any particular natural talent, magical theory is one of An Xiang’s favorite areas of study and lately she has had more motivation to practice as she continues her study of magical theory. As such, while her spellcasting is not exceptionally strong, she can produce a wide variety of effects with her magic, and can use mundane spells in creative ways. Since being granted chancellorship she has been spending more time studying defensive magics, out of some fear of her own safety as well as a desire to protect her empress should the need arise. Not that she expects to be called to such a role, or to that she could match the imperial guards, but she would hate for something to happen to the empress due to her own failure to study the field. History: An Xiang was born to a small, essentially unknown merchant family, and would have gone completely unknown if not for her passion for study. As fate would have it however, she was gifted with a passion for study to rival any scholar, which was compounded by her own nature. Naturally soft spoken and shy, she was more comfortable consulting the scholars of old through books than she was speaking to her teachers or fellow students. It was fortunate for her that she came to be known as knowledgeable, as this gave a reason for others to come to her. She was more than happy to help, craving the social interaction, and through this managed to maintain a few lasting friendships. It was through such friendships that An Xiang would help her discover her special talent. One day her two closest friends came to her, both to ask her advice on how to woo a particular mare that was new to their area. Each had intended to arrive before the other, but by chance both wandered in at the same time, and in turn they began to argue about who deserved the chance. An Xiang desperately attempted to calm them down, and was initially unsuccessful. However, in listening to their arguments she noticed that, while each was clearly referring to the same mare they were describing different individuals. Though it took serious effort, she was able to point this out to her two friends, which diffused the argument. All three of them parted company much more relaxed. An Xiang, especially pleased to have stopped the disagreement from escalating into something truly serious, took a moment to reflect on the outcome and would soon notice that her mark had appeared. An Xiang’s career was a curious one, with her advancement being largely due to her dedication to research and, paradoxically, lack of ambition. Though not the most motivated to curry favour, her own preference for conflict avoidance and deferral to the proper superiors.made her well received by those immediately above her, and more importantly non-threatening. Many times she was chosen for promotion as either someone who would not then turn around and threaten her sponsor’s position, or as a competent neutral choice for those who wished to avoid the appearance of favoritism or postpone taking sides in the many conflicts between factions in Long Guo, where choosing other candidates would commit one to a decision. She was a rare case, in advancing so far as a civil servant in such a manner. An Xiang was in truth rather surprised when the late emperor selected her for the position of chancellor, doubly so when he passed on only a year later. She had knowingly undergone the requisite examinations, however it had been her understanding that such an apparent attempt was an expectation of someone in her prior position, and she had only been hoping that increased prestige from doing well in the exams might open more opportunities for her studies. She had also been sure that there were several better candidates for the position, however in the end it was offered to her and her pride in and desire to assist Long Guo left her no choice but to accept the position. Nonetheless, An Xiang is sure that her selection as chancellor came about as part of someone’s hidden agenda. She cannot say whether it is malicious or benevolent in nature, but since reaching the position she has begun to shift more of her studies to the martial aspects of magic. Personality/Summary: An Xiang has a humble attitude toward her own accomplishments, and although she does think it an honor to be chancellor, she also feels the prestige of the position is overstated. In the company of good friends, she has even been known to joke that she is the ‘imperial janitor’, making sure everything is clean, tidy and in working order while others have all the opportunities to seek glory in their own fields. To what degree she actually believes this however, and to what degree this attitude is means for her to process having such a position is not yet clear. She finds her current responsibilities somewhat stifling, although she considers it a point of honor to accomplish all the tasks of her position. Her thoughts also drift regularly to the reasons why she was chosen, especially given that the emperor passed away a year later, as she doubts it was mere chance that got her there and her lack of understanding on this front is something she finds very troubling. It is rare for someone so unambitious to reach her position, and between that, her tendencies to keep to herself and her soft-spoken nature, many in the court suspect that An Xiang has some carefully contained agenda, despite that she has thus far been completely genuine. Additional Notes: This character is meant to fill the chancellor position mentioned in this thread, and I've been in contact with Bellosh in that regard.
  24. Greetings! While I’m no stranger to OOC threads, this is the first time I’ve done anything of this particular sort. So then, let’s cut to the chase; my newest OC is no other than Yù Yuè — the Empress of Long Guo — and I’d like to see plenty of relationships established between her and other characters. Since she comes from a new land we’ve just released, this will mean that in many instances, you fellow players will have to make new OCs entirely from scratch. However, for those who want opportunities to RP with the Empress and weave stories for our new Eastern realms, well this is your big moment! Here is a general list of the sort of relationships that I’d like my Empress to have. These suggestions are by no means the only ones possible, so lemme’ know here or through PM if you have something unique in store. Due to the unique nature of this thread, I encourage players to promote prospective characters that are not yet apped. ----------- The Imperial Secretariat - This body of five high-ranking ministers serve as Yuè’s personal advisers on all matters of state. Each of them would have served under her late father and are highly experienced at their administrative jobs. More likely than not, an adviser will likely question whether Yuè is fit to be an empress or not. Regardless of their feelings towards Yuè, they are expected to strictly obey courtly protocol and decorum in her presence. The five positions in the Imperial Secretariat are as follows: Chancellor - The chief adviser. A scholarly mandarin who would have needed to pass many imperial examinations and kiss up to all the right officials to earn a post in the Imperial Palace in Huangjing. Runs everything that’s not directly handled by the other advisers. War Adviser - A general or admiral of some sort who has participated in many campaigns. Oversees the armed forces of Long Guo. Revenue Adviser - Their accumulated wealth earned them this position. Responsible for collecting taxes and handling state revenues. Spiritual Adviser - A Master of the Harmonious Path; preferably from a branch that doesn’t promote asceticism. Highly skilled in dragonbreath magic and is a purveyor of mystic wisdom. Manages court ceremonies and diplomatic affairs. Most likely to approve of Yuè as the Empress. High Censor - Head of the Imperial Watch. Must be comfortable with issuing morally questionable orders when necessary, and keeps certain secrets hidden from the Empress herself (and her late father before her). The Imperial Family - Yuè already has a twin brother, but there are still plenty of other potential family members to be apped. Yuè’s mother is still alive, and there are plenty of older half-siblings as well sired by her late father (from a different mom). In one capacity or another, a half-sibling ought to legitimately claim greater aptitude to rule than their younger sister, although each would also have a fatal flaw that made their father reject having them on the Dragon Throne. I imagine that one or two of them REALLY want to become the next ruler... no matter what it takes. The Imperial Household - Hordes of servants are required to keep the Imperial Palace as a beacon of Imperial majesty; from artists and dancers, to hoofmaidens and guards of the Watch. Directly supervising them is a Chamberlain, a veteran at the job who enjoys closer personal access to the Empress than even the Chancellor. All Household members are also expected by tradition to strictly obey courtly decorum in Yuè's presence. NOTE: no servant should be an actual eunuch, although they are free to have the mannerisms of one. Prospective Consorts - It is only logical that many would want Yuè’s hoof... in marriage. She’s the most eligible bachelorette, after all. Likely, many who wish to seek the heart of the Empress will do so with less-than-noble intentions, although there are probably also a few with genuine unrequited feelings for their beloved Empress. High Society - The rich and famous who are lucky enough to be granted entrance into the Imperial Palace for select occasions. Most likely reside either in the Inner Ward of Huangjing or a posh neighborhood in Long Kong. Except for a few cultural differences, they highly resemble the high society of Equestria. Fellow Monastery Students - Yuè and her twin brother spent their adolescence learning with the Fenghuang Monks. Yuè would have gotten to know many students there. Older students may have acted as mentor-figures during her early days as an initiate. Younger ones may have had the honor of being mentored by Yuè herself. Anyone at Fenghuang would have gotten a positive impression of her. Monastery Tutors - Likewise, Yuè would have made a positive impression on the Masters who live as monks at Fenghuang Monastery. Perhaps one or two monks still keep in touch with the Empress. Childhood Friends & Acquaintances - Yuè didn't confine herself to the Imperial Palace in her pre-adolescent youth, so she would have met various Long Sun either in Huangjing or the secluded Fenghuang Valley village where her ex-consort mother moved to. Yuè would also be known to additional Fenghuang Valley locals once she became a Harmonious Path initiate. Enemies - As a new empress, Yuè will likely encounter opportunistic foes of all sorts. Frontier barbarians, triads, cultists, ninja, coup plotters... the list of potential threats goes on and on. Allies - Of course, the Empress will have to rely on all sorts of allies outside her Court. Serpent Dragons, characters who'd be right at home in a wuxia-inspired setting, even foreigners from across the sea... Yuè will need everyone she can get for the conflicts to come..... APPED CHARACTER ROSTER: ----------- I hope that didn't overwhelm you all, haha. But yes, tell me if you have a different sort of relationship with the Empress in mind.