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Thread: Xo-Chi: Jewel of Ruo-Gen

  1. #1

    Default Xo-Chi: Jewel of Ruo-Gen

    Background story for my newest character, Xo-Chi. Enjoy!

    Part One:

    The warm morning light flooded the bedchamber of the young noble. Sleeping beneath fine silken sheets, Xo-Chi, daughter of one of the city advisors, lay on her side as the sun's rays kissed her soft, pale cheeks. The room in which she slept was relatively small, but furnished with the finest drawers, wardrobes, and tapestries available in the southern city of Ruo-Gen. A cooling breeze blew into the room through the open window, causing the gossamer curtains around Xo-Chi's bed to drift over her skin, and wake her from her slumber.

    She sat up with half-lidded eyes and her hair - yet to be combed - cascaded down her back. With the poise and elegance that she had been taught, Xo-Chi slipped from underneath the sheets of her bed and rubbed her deep green eyes to awaken herself further. The wooden floors were cool on her bare feet, but not unpleasant. The girl pulled a sheer robe over her sleeping garments and stood by the window, overlooking the house's garden.

    A small stream cut through the centre of the square garden, surround by other rooms of the grand house in which Xo-Chi lived. Pink cherry blossoms grew randomly amongst the moss-covered, decorative rocks. Exotics flowers sprung up beside the stream and the glittering scales of small fish dazzled in the morning sun. Song birds sat in the branches of the trees and on the railings of balconies, as they did every morning, and sang a sweet melody that always made the world seem that little bit brighter.

    Xo-Chi was distracted from the view as she heard a knock on the hollow, bamboo door.
    "Miss Xo-Chi..." a voice called from the other side of the door. "Your father wants to speak to you."
    It was her maid; loyal and kind. The girl smiled serenely and approached the door, replying to the maid, "Of course, Kiu, I shall be there shortly."

    With a vacant sigh, the young noble pulled a soft pink, flowing gown from a jade-embossed wardrobe and stepped into it. She spent a moment fiddling with the lace that ran down the bust of her gown before collecting a simple pair of dyed leather shoes from next to the door and leaving her room, closing the door softly behind her.

    Xo-Chi's father's study was across the garden from where she slept, and she was grateful for this, since it allowed her to listen to the stream for just an extra moment. She had descended the stairs down from her room, following the narrow corridor that was lined with ornate tapestries, embroidered with golden thread. The girl stepped out through a thin screen door and into the garden.

    A small path led across the width of the garden, with a small bridge over the stream. Xo-Chi stood on this bridge for a few seconds, breathing in the crisp air and watching the brightly coloured fish in the pond swim around. She listened to the soft songs of the birds and smiled. A quiet sigh from Xo-Chi indicated her displeasure at having to leave the garden, but she did anyway; it would be rude to keep her father waiting.

    She left the garden and entered a much wider hallway, decorated with statues, pillars, and more tapestries. At the far end of the hall, stood the door to her father's study. It was ornately carved from oak, with images of great deeds of Khitai's history upon each panel. Xo-Chi walked up to the door and knocked gently, not wanting to damage the fine door in any way.

    Her father's voice barked from inside, "Enter!"

    The girl apprehensively peeked her head around the door as she opened it, gauging her father's mood. His head was down as he was reading a scroll; he looked angry. With a growl he pushed the scroll to the side of his desk and looked up. His face immediately softened as he saw his daughter poking her head inside his study.

    "Ah, Xo, I'm glad you're here. Come in, come in... There's no need to worry." He smiled warmly, sensing Xo-Chi's nervousness.

    The girl obliged and, closing the door behind her, approached his desk. She stood before him with her hands held neatly in front of her. She looked at her father expectantly. "What is it you need, father?" she said solemnly.

    Xo-Chi always hated being in her father's study. It was not because she disliked her father; it was because of the painting hanging behind his desk. The painting was of her deceased mother, who died a few years prior.

    "Don't look so gloomy," her father said softly, "I have something I need to talk to you about..." After this, his demeanour took a darker turn. He looked nervous and almost upset at what he had to say.

    The girl sensed this change and sat in the armchair in front of the desk. She hadn't seen her father look this way in a long time and it made her fearful. It took her a moment, but she finally manage to stammer the words, "W-what's that matter, father?"

    ~To be continued~

  2. #2

    Default Xo-Chi: Jewel of Ruo-Gen

    Part Two:

    The young Khitan looked at her father, the advisor. Her hands were wrapped tightly around the arms of the chain in which she sat; she was tense all over. The advisor stood from his own chair, the other side of the desk with a gentle sigh. The man was in his late forties, and the stress that came with his position made that abundantly obvious. He paced behind his desk, all the while his daughter watched and waited with baited breath.

    Finally, the man spoke, “Xo…” he began, unsure of what he was going to say, “You must understand that I must leave for a while. I am to journey north to Shu-Chen to discuss important matters.”

    Xo-Chi nodded along, holding her tongue as she had been taught as a child. Although she was silent, her mind was buzzing with questions; what where these important matters? Why are they not being discussed in Paikang? Why does he seem so distant so suddenly? She would never hear the answers to these questions, but she was not to know this for some time.

    Her father sat back down in his chair with a grim expression. “Listen to me, child,” he spoke quietly, as if he was to say something of great importance and secrecy, “When I am away, you must never leave the house, am I clear?”

    Again, the girl nodded. She was puzzled as to why it was so important she not leave the house, though she dared not question her father’s will. “Of course, father,” she answered, obligingly, “I will do as you say.” She tried to look positive, however her worry showed in her face. Her father picked up on this and tried to comfort her, saying,
    “Do not fear, young one. I shall only be gone for a month or so… I will return before you realise I am gone.”
    Xo-Chi offered him a soft smile, masking the fact that she was still not buying his words. Nonetheless, she inquired, feigning an interest, “When will you leave?”
    “Ah,” he said with some apprehension, “That’s just the thing, Xo… I leave this afternoon.”
    She kept the forced smile upon her face as she dipped her head. “Of course, father.” She said simply, wanting to delay her exit no longer.

    Her father nodded and dismissed her with a wave of his hand, after which he went back to pouring over his scrolls and messages. Something seemed wrong, and Xo-Chi was certain that whatever her father was planning, it could be dangerous. She pushed these thoughts from her head however, and headed up to the private garden, overlooking the house, city, and the mountains in the distance.

    The private garden was always so quiet, Xo-Chi had often thought, never any noise from the city or the servants. The only sounds were a few birds chirping in the tree above her head, and the gentle trickle of water as it fell over rocks down the cliff that the garden was set atop of.

    The girl sat up in the sanctuary of her garden for most of the day, her maid bringing her water and food when necessary. Xo-Chi was deep in her thoughts as she watched the gathering caravans just beyond the courtyard of her father’s home. All the time that she watched the caravans being prepared, she expected her father to appear on the steps leading up the cliff to where she was, but he never showed. She distracted herself with the lilies that grew around the base of the cherry blossom behind her, not wanting to show emotion at her father's departure, despite no one being around to witness it.

    The caravans slowly began moving away from the city, following the well paved road north. By the time the caravan was nearing the horizon, dusk was drawing close. The sinking sun painted the sky with fiery reds and oranges with soft hues of pink around the thin clouds. The red light flooding the city and house below seemed ominous and foretelling. The Khitans put much of their faith in the heavens, and to Xo-Chi, the red sky meant nothing but danger ahead.

    ~To be continued~

  3. #3

    Default Xo-Chi: Jewel of Ruo-Gen

    Part Three:

    Many months had passed since her father had left and Xo-Chi had done as he had asked of her; stay inside the confines of the home. She grew bored of the same walls and often sat in the cliff-side garden where she could look out over the city. Her wistful gaze wandered to the horizon, hoping to see her father's caravan return.

    In these months, the city began to fall into disrepair. With the city officials away and some supplies being cut off from Paikang, many of the nobles of the city abandoned their lavish homes to seek better wealth in other towns and cities. Despite all of this, Xo-Chi stayed in her home, even when she, and her maid, where the only two remaining in the complex. Even the guards had given up protecting the remnants of the nobles' belongings.

    One night in the late autumn, a violent storm from the eastern sea hit the city. Rain hammered down on the withering city and arcs of lightning illuminated the old buildings in fleeting bursts of light. Fearing that her maid's residence was not able to resist the storm, the young noble left the sanctuary of her home and hurried through the rain and mud towards the servants' homes, a few streets away from her home.

    A few moments passed as she braced herself against the lashing rain and wind. Xo-Chi could barely see as she felt her way down the narrow alley. A clatter sounded from inside a nearby house. Had her maid fallen down? she thought as she picked up her pace, calling out to the maid.

    "Kiu?" she cried out over the roaring gusts, "Kiu, are you hurt?"

    The girl finally burst through the door to the home from which the noise originated, soaked through and through; her face stricken with worry. She look down with pity and concern as she saw Kiu laying on the floor of the home, huddling under a desk. The older woman looked terrified as she shook her head, tears streaming down her face.

    "No, Miss Xo-Chi... You must run! Run now!" she cried out as she crawled out from under the desk.
    "Kiu," she began, "What is the matter-"

    The old maid hurried over and began pushing Xo-Chi out of the door, repeating in a fearful tone, "Get out! Go! Run!"

    Xo-Chi shook her head in bewilderment, unsure of what to make of the woman's odd behaviour. However, before the girl could ask anymore of the maid, a blade swung from nowhere and lodged into the maid's back.

    "What? Kiu?" Xo-Chi murmured in complete astonishment, "Say something, Kiu, please!"

    The woman did not respond as she fell limp in the girl's arms, growing colder by the second. Xo-Chi dropped to the floor, still holding the body of her beloved maid, as a large man rounded the corner from where the blade had appeared.

    A toothy grin appeared on the man's face as he looked down at the sobbing girl. He leaned in closer, inspecting her features; trying to gauge her age. He then chuckled.

    "Oh, what do we have here?" he said in a rough voice, "I bet you're still clean."

    Xo-Chi backed away from the man, shaking her head. She didn't know what to do other than flee. Standing as fast as she could, holding up the bottom of her gown, she turned and ran for the door. Her escape attempt was met with immediately running into the body of another man who then wrapped his arms around her, holding her in place.

    The man that had spoken got close to her face and said, "Well, this is a turn of events, eh? We were told this place was abandoned." He looked up to his companion before continuing, "Now, don't get me wrong, beautiful, we're very happy to see a young lady like you here, aren't we?"

    He ran a finger through her wet hair and then moved it over her cheek as she struggled against the forceful grip of the other man. Kicking and crying out, Xo-Chi did all she could to escape - she was unsuccessful.

    "Let me go! I've done nothing to you!" she shouted, writhing with all the strength she had.

    The man then rolled his eyes slightly and commanded the other, "Bind her... Then throw her on that desk. I've just got a brilliant idea..."

    He nodded and wrapped rope around the girl's wrists and ankles, and a cloth stuffed into her mouth, regardless of how she fought against it. It was not long before she was fully restrained and bound to the desk. She dug her nails into the fine wood of the desk and wailed; hoping, praying, that someone would come to her aid. The first man re-entered the room, having removed a considerable amount of his own attire.

    "You wait outside - you'll get your turn soon." he told his companion who begrudgingly nodded and left, closing and locking the door behind him. "Hold still," he then said to Xo-Chi as he cut away her silken gown with a crudely made dagger. He sighed and muttered to himself as he began to position himself over her struggling and weeping body, "Ah, I love it when they cry..."

    ~To be continued~

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