Dorian Cornelius Jasper (baymooncity) wrote,
Dorian Cornelius Jasper
baymooncity

The 28 Unluckies, Part I! The Five Knights of the White-Winged Comet!

[EDIT NOTE:  Originally, this post, and the name of the ensemble, was "The Five Knights of the White Wing Sword."  "White Wing Sword" and "White Comet" will be treated as interchangeable from now on, though the latter is the proper name of the Artifact--or, at the very least, a translation of it from Celesanorean into English.  And part of the reason I'm doing it like that is because going back and changing everything is kind of a pain.  For the reasons behind the change, see the post immediately after this one.  Though, the phrase "White Wing," on its own, is also a name used to describe the Swordbearer.]

    It's been over two weeks, yes.  At least it hasn't been a month, though, and that says a lot.  *sigh*

    Before I start on my usual routine of posting pictures and talking about them, I also have some random ramblings to go on about.

    I'd been lurking on and off with regards to Heart's Content, Sixten's production blog, for a little while now.  And the man's backgrounds are detailed and gorgeous.  Whatever perceived weaknesses he feels he may possess in the rendering of characters is more than made up for by this.  That, and his characters' cuteness.  Cute makes right.  He and Hinano were talking about the realities of publishing a comic in our favored format, and while I'm not mentally unfamiliar with the troubles they speak of, I still felt the need to weigh in a bit.  And he replied with encouraging words!  This gives me the spirit to carry on the fight.

    Also, the man is a fan of Honey and Clover.  And that makes him a comrade-in-arms.  It was also through him that I learned about the man who created "Cliffs of Dover," Eric Johnson.  Not being an avid music enthusiast, despite a nearly-all-encompassing love of music in general, I was pleasantly surprised to learn something about the subject.

    That having been said, on with the pictures, and the talking.  As Ming suggested. 

.........


    This is the first in a new series of longposts, designed mostly to clear up my own thoughts on the characters and their appearances, flesh them out a bit, and get me excited to work with them.  There's a lot of trivial minutae here, but it's mostly thoughts that emerged at random when drawing or even thinking of writing for these characters.  Thankfully, I didn't spend a significant amount of time thinking of traits and histories to give them.  Though thinking about the ramifications and consequences of these traits and histories, extending them beyond merely stand-alone ideas and into the realm of living, breathing, character-hood...  that's the sort of thing that gets me excited to write in the first place.

    This series, as Ming suggested, centers not around the setting but the central ensemble, or collections of interrelated ensembles, around whom the story revolves.  These are, as we say, the 28 Unlucky People Who Got Caught Up In The Incident That Sent Them To The Other World The Celestials Don't Want You To Know About.  Though they don't know it, each is the reincarnation of a past hero, god, or demigod.  When their past incarnation--or, in some cases, incarnations--awaken, so too does their true potential.  The awakening of the "spark of heroic potential" alters their minds, bodies, and souls to become something far above human limits--even if, in a previous life, they were merely famed, skilled, or courageous mortals. 
    It does not matter whether or not the source of the incarnation was superhuman, the mere fact of their awakened heroic potential, in this life, is enough to make them superhuman.  The qualifications for heroic potential were the same as the conditions laid out, in times far before myth and legend, by the Gods of Humanity to select their champions in a war against their cosmic enemies.  The awakening of heroic potential marks a mortal as fit to walk amongst the Gods, and thus divine power is granted to these heroes of mankind.  Well, that's what the Celestials like to say, anyway.  It's no secret amongst them that many of these Gods of Humanity rose from among the ranks of mortal humankind in the first place, and continue to reincarnate amongst humans throughout the ages.  In the Celestial City, these beings we call "Nobles."  All other incarnations and awakened-potentials are generally categorized by the class system set about by the God-Nobles in ancient times, creating a hierarchy where, naturally, the Nobles sit at the top.  These 28 unlikely heroes sit slightly to the side of this hierarchy, as they are mortal heroes who have awakened for a purpose not designed by the Celestial Gods. 
    They awaken in times of great turmoil, across all of the Worlds.  The seventh incarnation of the dreaded Crimson Star Emperor has emerged, his coming heralded by the dim light of Great Dark Star.  The Twelve Wizards and the Celestial City continue their petty war to determine the course of humanity's future, regardless of the impending chaos.  A single book, split into seven pieces, could well reveal the fate of mankind in these end days, if the rumors of its prophetic nature are true.  And in the middle of it all, 28 heroes are chosen to fight for humanity's sake, though it's unclear who it is they're to be fighting.  It remains to be seen what fate has in store for the 28--but most of us here are of the mind that fate is merely the result of something you make, not something decided for you.

    So here we are.  The first ensemble in the 28 Heroes Brigade!



 The 28 Unluckies--Part I, The Five Knights of the White-Winged Comet

   In other words:  The Yukaringumi!  Ha!   Yeah, bet you saw this one coming a mile away.  I'm easy to read like that.  Anyway, I didn't want to dirty up the inaugural Unluckies post with some hastily drawn action scenes, so I went and refined the appearances of the Yukaringumi instead.  Relative age differences are more apparent, if still subtle given their age range, and appearances were made a bit more distinctive to each personality.  They don't look like they're heroes at the moment, nor do they look like Knights.  And there's no sword in sight.  Admittedly, they're an unlikely bunch, much like the rest of the 28.  But don't let that fool you.  Each and every one of them has the heroic potential they need to fight and survive the coming storm.
    The Yukaringumi, in their native Blueworlder habitat, as filtered through the lens of montage.




    Believe it or not, from the top going clockwise, with the center counted last:  Deirdre Ua Briain, Cordelia Agatha Philips, An Xiufan, Runa Constaninova Ascham, Sennouji Yukari (real name: Emma Arianrhod Bowen, formerly Arthur Auguste Bowen). 
    I happen to be very fidgety with their appearances for some reason.  Maybe it's because they're so important.

[None of the 28 have an active Avatar at the start of the story, and I'm loathe to mention their incarnative identities here, for the sake of spoiler-protection.  I guess it doesn't hurt to give a few hints, though.]
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    Deirdre Ua Briain 
    Age:  18
    Gender:  Female
    Talents:  Playing video games, working with machines, Artifact Forge Magic
    Stats:  (Level--Starting Character, these reflect her abilities in the beginning)
    Type:  Silva Mage Association, Student
    Avatar:
       [NAME WITHHELD]
       Sage caste, Librarian class.  Greek origin, previously mortal. 
       --Thousand-fold Burning Mirror:  Manifests, from pure Essence, an artillery array of spell engines.  Each reflects and amplifies sunlight that passes through them, and when all spell engines all focus their sunlight on one point, even battleships can be sunk.  While relatively cheap in MP cost, this Avatar manifestation requires bright natural sunlight to function at top capacity--artificial light will not suffice.  This is a conceptual limit built into the Avatar manifestation itself, exchanging convenience for greater power output.
    Attributes:
       Strength:  *
       Dexterity:  ***
       Vitality:  **
       Intelligence:  *****
       Wits:  ****
       Mind:  ***
       Charisma:  **
    ORB Rating: ** (Collegiate Mage)
    Colleges:
       Artifact Forge:  ** (Graduate Level)
       Shining Soul:  ** (Graduate Level)
       Bounded Ward: * (Student Level)
       Anbaric Field:  * (Student Level)
    Skills:  (Only Skills in which the character is notably competent will be listed)
       Computer Expert--Can repair, diagnose, and manipulate computers beyond typical user competence.
       Mathematics Whiz--Quickly able to work with numbers under pressure.
       Machine Sense--Bonuses to repairing and controlling machines.
       Hardcore Gamer--Few can match her circle-strafing and micro skills.
       Mythological Lore--Possesses knowledge of topics regarding mythology well above the typical enthusiast.
      
    Deirdre Ua Briain is a freshman attending the young and surprisingly prestigious Silva Mage University.  She and her brother, Sean, come from a long line of Magi in Ireland.  Her civilian name would be Deirdre O'Brien, as her Concord name is decidedly anachronistic.  While her brother appears by all rights to be an idiot--or, at best, a Cloudcuckoolander--Deirdre is a diligent and bright young Mage who makes no effort to hide her aptitude.   Even when it would be in her best legal interests, such as when in the presence of nonmagical civilians!
    She's a little arrogant, being the top of her class and a freshman with Graduate-level competence and expertise in her chosen Colleges, though the Silva staff doesn't mind deflating her ego one bit.  Ironic, considering their own history with questions of humility and their lack thereof.  However, despite her rather prideful bearing, she manages to prevent herself from irritating too many people, what with her enthusiasm for fun and infectious cheer.  Bombastic, yet oddly likable.  Or at least likable enough not to be disliked.  Whatever goofiness she can summon up, she learned from her brother.  It helps keep her from being despised by her classmates, or her eternally-unimpressed teacher, Professor Siegfried von Arstengard.
    During the ten days leading up to the New Year's Incident, Deirdre finds herself with not much to do.  Like her brother, she doesn't have much to do, as most students went home for the winter break.  She doesn't have anyplace to go, as their parents had both passed away long ago, leaving her and her elder brother orphaned and in the care of the Concord, with only a sealed scrapbook of memoirs to remember them by.  Instead of a proper foster family, the Ua Briain siblings were raised as apprentices first and foremost--and even if they went home, they'd just be made to study more.  Thus, they opted to stay at school and, ironically, enjoy their vacation.
    However, that all changes when she meets the aspiring, if failing, author "N.T., Esper," otherwise known by her real name, Sennouji Yukari, visiting the campus on business with the faculty.  When introduced to her works, and sketches, by chance, some striking curiosities reflect back onto her parents' memoirs--and a clue within a sketch allows her to unseal the final portions of the scrapbook, revealing secrets they were expected to take to the grave.  Unfortunately for her, others interested in these secrets become aware of her discovery, and the lives of her and her brother are placed in dire risk.  This throws her life into a dangerous shadow war being waged in Baymoon City, one that not even the Magi were aware of, all seemingly centered around a novel written by one hapless Mage.  Though a gifted student, she's certainly not strong enough to face mechanical monstrosities and devilish warlocks on her own.  She has no choice but to take up arms and fight back against those that would see her dead, and fortunately for her, she's not alone.
    Other Notes--Deirdre looks a lot younger, and her facial proportions give the impression of someone a lot shorter, than previous pictures of her.  This is for the best, as she's the "kid" of the group.  Also, in this merry Five Man Band, she fills the role of "The Smart Guy."  The silhouette in her frame is a silhouette of the Silva Mage University island.  Yes, it's a ripoff of Mont-Saint-Michel.  And she earns the nickname "Dita," sometimes altered to "Ditan," when she and the rest of the ensemble is assembled.  She and Yukari realize they are rivals online, after revealing their favorite games and their respective handles in-game.  They get along well enough, but there's a definite air of "Nerd Duel" between them.  And they are also rivals as meganekko, which Ditan feels she has the upper hand in--Yukari occasionally takes off her glasses indoors.  As the youngest, she's the little sister of the group in everyone else's eyes, ironic considering that she's the oldest of her group of friends at school.  Cordelia likes to take care of her like she was her big sister, especially.  Ditan's favorite song is "Somebody's Baby," by Jackson Browne.
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    Cordelia Agatha Philips
    Age:  22
    Gender:  Female
    Talents:  Sports (especially Football and Hockey), General Athletics, Painting
    Stats:  (Level--Starting Character, these reflect her abilities in the beginning)
    Type:  Civilian, Heroic Potential
    Avatar:
       [NAME WITHHELD]
       Knight caste, Vanguard class.  Chinese origin, previously mortal. 
       --Emei Dapeng's Blessing:  Internal Essence performance increased fivefold, manifesting in heightened physical ability and intuitive control over the manipulation of life force, including through martial arts methodologies.  The most obvious manifestations are vastly increased strength and the ability to achieve near-flight through "weightless steps," though more delicate manifestations are possible--including the manipulating of pressure points, Essence Gates, and surgical resistance to attacks targeting one's own life force.
    Attributes:
       Strength:  *****
       Dexterity:  ***
       Vitality:  ****
       Intelligence:  ***
       Wits:  **
       Mind:  ***
       Charisma:  ***
    ORB Rating:  * (Civilian)
    Colleges:
        (None)
    Skills:  (Only Skills in which the character is notably competent will be listed)
       Athletics (Sports, Performance)--A very capable athlete in several fields.
       Meditative Recovery--Can enter a meditative state to increase HP/MP regain rate.
       Visualization--With the mind's eye, can visualize accurate scenarios and simulacra.
       Studio Art (Painting)--Is a talented painter, generally works in the impressionistic style, though realism is not beyond her.
      
    Cordelia Agatha Philips knew Yukari during high school, though as a nonmagical civilian she obviously did not attend the same school.  And Cordelia didn't know Yukari, so much as she did her alter-ego, Tohya.  As a teenager, she found herself infatuated with the (possibly supernaturally, and thus illegally) enchanting young man, and developed a friendship between the two--one that eventually crossed the traditional boundaries of friendship, as time went on.  She provided "Tohya" with an outlet of surprising normalcy in a byzantine life of politics, scandal, and magic, though she never realized it at the time.  To Cordy, her time with him was a happy calm before the storm, before her life took a turn for the worst.
    Her mother was always loving and caring.  However, she was obsessed with searching for someone she described as "The White-Winged One."  Her husband left her and Cordelia when she was a little girl, and so she devoted herself to taking care of her mother, whose physical and mental health was deteriorating as her obsession consumed her.  She worked part time to help pay the rent and spent much of her free time looking after her mother.  When she met Tohya, that was the first time in years she had spent time living for her own happiness.  Wealthy, handsome (most would say "pretty," though), and caring, he was her Prince Charming.  But her mother began experiencing severe panic attacks, and grew terrified at things in the shadows of night.  They traveled constantly, due to her mother's obsession, and it wasn't long before they moved away from Vancouver, leaving Tohya behind.  After a few years, the constant paranoia attacks, and her own exhaustion, took its toll.  Before she passed, she gave Cordelia a final warning:  "Beware the shadows of the red star--when they come for you, run for the signs of the white-winged swordbearer."
    Since then, Cordelia's life has been a lonely one, as she works to put herself through school and soldier on.  As her mother could no longer drag her along on vain search for, what she interpreted as, an "angel," Cordelia decided to settle down in the last place they moved to.  Here, in Baymoon City, she rebuilt her life and found new friends, and for the first time since she could ever remember, she's had something akin to a normal life.  She's had boyfriends, though tends not to stick around too long, and has developed a surprisingly flighty, flirty personality.  Some might suspect she might have intimacy issues, and distances herself from people to avoid the pain of leaving them--if they had any clue as to her life history, anyway.  Otherwise, they simply view her as a flighty, distant girl.   But they don't know that occasionally, she thinks she sees things following her in the shadows.
    In the days leading up to the New Year's Incident, Cordelia runs across "Tohya" again, and for the first time in a long time a bit of happiness returns to her life.  But not long after their old flame is rekindled, she discovers the awkward truth about her Prince Charming, about Yukari, Runa, and those things the CWSA would very much prefer kept secret from nonmagical civilians.  Not only does she have to cope with her entire reality being thrown for a loop, including the truths behind her old love, she begins to realize that the shadows chasing after her are real--and they're after her father, and Yukari.  And that Yukari has been talking to someone, a mysterious girl she occasionally refers to as "White Wing," or "The Swordbearer."  Her mother's obsessions, the sudden reappearance of her father, and a secret war being waged in Baymoon City, all centering around someone who appears to be nothing more than a character in her old boyfriend's book...
    What happiness in this life she has managed to find, the shadows of the Crimson Star threaten to take it all away.  But she won't let that happen.  She will realize that she has the strength to fight back.  Physical strength.
    Other Notes:  Cordelia's appearance is mostly unchanged.  Though, at the moment, she's not smiling like she is in the other pictures.  And, obviously, she's not Ashtwani on the Blueworld.  When she's transported to the other world to fight the legacy of the Crimson Star Emperor, her long-dormant Ashtwan bloodline catalyzes with her own heroic potential awakening, thus changing her appearance--at least until she finds some means of suppressing it.  If you'd forgotten by now, Ashtwani means "Dark Elves," basically.  They don't call themselves that, obviously, because the only reason people would ever call them "elves" was because of popular culture on the Blueworld within the past century or so.  In this Five Man Band, she fulfills the role of "The Big Guy."  She develops a rivalry with Xiufan, another apparent combat specialist on the team who, unlike Runa, believes as much as she does in not holding back on the battlefield.  Cordelia gets along very well with Ditan, and while things are awkward with Yukari, it's hard for her to snuff out her old flame.  Surprisingly, she does develop a rivalry with Runa, but it's one that doesn't have anything to do with fighting ability.  Until Cordelia finds herself in the position to exercise strategic and tactical ability, the only thing her "Visualization" skill is good for is painting.  (Heh.)  Cordelia's favorite song is "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman.
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    An Xiufan
    Age:  20
    Gender:  Female
    Talents:  Martial Arts, Theatre, Dance, Singing
    Stats:  (Level--Starting Character, these reflect her abilities in the beginning)
    Type:  Civilian, Heroic Potential
    Avatar:
       [NAME WITHHELD]
       Noble caste, Imperator class.  Greek origin, status withheld. 
       --Aspect of the Bloody God:  Avatar manifestation infuses the body and mind of the user with a spell designed solely for the purpose of close combat.  Strength, speed, and durability increase dramatically.  Amplifies personal prowess by increasing combat information processing speed far beyond the human limit.  Unlike similar berserker-trance methods, this does not inhibit friend-foe recognition.  However, the psychology of the user is placed in an altered state best described as "bloodlust," inhibiting the use of any method of fighting other than close combat.  Prolongued use of this manifest Avatar is not advised, as long-term consequences include damage to one's psyche, especially one's capacity for empathy.  When coupled with the Noble's natural ability to broadcast magics towards a wide area with regards to their followers, this enables the user to inspire bloodlust in an entire army, though at significant cost for a young Avatar Mage.
    Attributes:
       Strength:  ***
       Dexterity:  *****
       Vitality:  ***
       Intelligence:  **
       Wits:  ****
       Mind:  **
       Charisma:  ****
    ORB Rating:  * (Civilian)
    Colleges:
        (None)
    Skills:  (Only Skills in which the character is notably competent will be listed)
       Martial Arts--An expert fighter in a number of methods, few mortals can match her.
       Heightened Awareness--Finely honed senses render her difficult to ambush or sneak past.
       Performance (Theatre, Dance, Song)--A capable performer in many fields, classically trained.
       Instinct--A second sense for battle gained through training, will often know the wisest choice of action.

    An Xiufan currently makes her way as a student at the Apollonian Academy of Fine Arts while majoring in Theatre.  She hopes to one day be "discovered," though she's torn between a want for fame and fortune and a sincere love of theatre (if anything, she could always return to the stage after she's made it big, though that's not considered the wisest career move for a rising star).  But a twist of fate throws a wrench in her plans, leading her to be caught up in the events leading up to the New Year's Incident.
    It started out simple enough.  Sometime before Christmas, she came across Runa Ascham, her older brother's old girlfriend, enjoying lunch at a little café.  Mild curiousity led her to ask about her brother, Lingzhou, who had passed not long ago.  She didn't have many fond memories of him, as he was a slacker and a delinquent who was never really there for the family, and he was usually failing at boarding school abroad at any rate.  While he was wasting his life away, she has always diligent, disciplined, and even carried on the family's tradition for martial arts, all while nurturing her private love for the performing arts.  Lingzhou, on the other hand, never really did, or could, amount to much.  So she asked Runa, with a tinge of regret mixed into her bitterness, what trifle did her useless elder brother throw his life away for?
    For that, she received a slap she could not perceive until it had already happened.
    Ordinary people would not give this much thought.  Perhaps resent it, or lash out, but Xiufan was different.  So great was her skill, that she could notice, and catch, a rock thrown at her head from behind.  But this little girl slipped past all of her defenses, mental, physical, and instinctual.  On a number of levels, this wounded her pride.  So she returned to the cafe after Christmas and confronted Runa again.  This time, she was there to challenge her to a sparring match, much to everyone's surprise--including that of three young customers, who themselves would find themselves tied up in the New Year's Incident for their own reasons.
    Naturally, Runa refused.  Angrily, Xiufan threw the first punch anyway, and met with a sudden and dramatic defeat.  The next day, she found Runa being pestered by the three other customers to teach them kung fu--which bothered her even more.  Xiufan demanded a rematch.  Naturally, Runa refused again.  And she also refused the three erstwhile student candidates.  Xiufan even followed her to her apartment, would-be students in tow, and watched them have dinner from outside in the freezing cold.  When Runa relented, to Yukari's amusement, and the whole group of them had dinner inside, Xiufan finally asked,  "What was it that you saw in my brother?"  From there, she heard stories of his courage, kindness, and willingness to sacrifice his own happiness for the sake of others.  Every word Runa said was true, and deep in her heart she wanted to believe it, too.
    From there, Xiufan forged a peculiar sort of friendship and rivalry with Runa, in spite of the latter's wishes.  Perhaps she should have listened, as Yukari and Runa were embroiled in a conflict whose nature wasn't even known to their own kind, much less to those who know nothing of magic at all.  When their enemies realized they could strike at them by targeting the civilians who had latched onto them, she became a target.  While she could fight, and even defeat many of the enemies that soon found her, her life as she had known it was over. 
    But she has a reason to fight, she has the means to fight, and she has the will to fight.  And while she doesn't quite know it yet, she will discover the truth behind her brother's death, and his role in the war between the Twelve and the Celestials.
    Other Notes--In the picture, that's basically Xiufan's fantasy right there.  I was a bit vague with it, but yeah--she's going down the red carpet and soaking up the attention, and camera flashes.  She's drawn to be a bit more feminine and glamorous-looking here.  Which suits her, as she's not yet unleashed her inner beast.  In the other pictures, she's drawn as a Wuran.  I always find that unbearably cute.  She's the tallest of the Yukaringumi, and could also probably be a model.  She's very good with dogs and ravens for some reason.  (Heh.)  She develops two rivalries, both based on her competitive nature when it comes to personal prowess.  One with Cordelia, the other with Runa.  The two of them have their own rivalry, but it's of a different nature.  In the Five Man Band, her concept is that of "The Lancer."  This requires that she be the opposite of "The Hero," but as to who that hero is and how she's her counterpart... that's a bit more vague!   Xiufan's favorite song is "Ai no Uta" by Strawberry Flower.
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    Runa Constantinova Ascham
    Age:  19
    Gender:  Female
    Talents:  Martial Arts, Firearms, Medicine, Cooking
    Stats:  (Level--Quite Experienced Mage, Doctor-level)
    Type:  Silva Mage Association, Teacher
    Avatar:
       [NAME UNKNOWN]
       Sage caste, Magistrate (?) class.  Unknown origin, previously mortal (presumed). 
       --Perfect Sealing Spirits:  The ability to generate a Sealing Spirits bounded field without the need for complex manifestation protocols.  Sealing Spirits are a form of anti-Magic that rely on re-establishing a natural order of Essence by sealing the manifest pattern's access to any fuel by which the pattern can generate a spell.  In other words, the spell is cast, but whatever MP was fueling the spell is re-routed to disperse harmlessly back into nature.  Specific Sealing Spirit protocols can be used against different kinds of high-integrity magics (High Magic, Magitechnology, summoned beings, persistent Boundary Fields), or even against specific types of entity, such as Demons.  As a generalist form of anti-magic, Sealing Spirits are less efficient and more costly than specialized countermagics.  The name "Sealing Spirit" comes from its legendary origins, said to be a gift bestowed upon humanity by the spirits, allowing them to undo their own harmful and otherwise permanent magics.  This Avatar manifestation allows the casting of high-level Sealing Spirits without need for lengthy casting times or protocols, but the MP cost of such effects are unaffected.  This is an Avatar Sign of justice and fairness among Magi.
    Attributes: (
?)
       Strength:  **
       Dexterity:  ***
       Vitality:  **
       Intelligence:  ***
       Wits:  ****
       Mind:  *****
       Charisma:  ****
    ORB Rating:  **** (Doctor)
    Colleges: (
?)
       Ancient Life:  **** (Doctorate)
       Medica Yserium:  *** (Master's Degree)
       Will Discipline:  **** (Doctorate)
       Bounded Ward:  ** (Graduate Level)
    Skills:  (Only Skills in which the character is notably competent will be listed)
       Martial Arts EX--A master of various fighting methods, is a living weapon.
       Heightened Awareness--Finely honed senses render her difficult to ambush or sneak past.
       Seventh Sense--Capable of predicting an opponent's moves well ahead of time, in most cases.
       Marksmanship--Skilled at use of firearms, as well as general care and maintenance.
       Chef's Sense--Capable of predicting a diner's preferences in food well ahead of time, in most cases.
       Tactical Operations--Possesses experience with and knack for military tactics on the short-term.
       Leadership--Possesses the emotional and mental capacity to act as an effective leader both in times of crisis as well as times of peace.
       Stealth EX--How the hell did she get across the room?  And why didn't the motion sensor pick it up?  Or the laser trip wires, for that matter.
       Surge of Power--Can supercharge physical attributes to heightened levels with magical energy, albeit with low cost efficiency.
      
    Much of Runa Constaninova Ascham's history in intertwined with that of her archnemesis and roommate, Sennouji Yukari (who, at various times, was also known as Sennouji Tohya, Emma Arianrhod Bowen, and Arthur Auguste Bowen).  A teenage prodigy, she holds position as a Professor at the Silva Mage University, making her the youngest teacher among a group famed for their youth and genius.  However, other than a few years of age, there isn't much to distinguish her from her peers, all of whom not only possess Doctorates in several Colleges of Magic as well as Doctorates Universalis, the highest level of mastery a Mage could hope to achieve.  Effectively adopted by her host family, the Bowens, Runa feels closer to them than to her biological family--with one exception.  By request of the Bowen family, she has taken up residence with their middle child and taken her in as a patient, in spite of their past history together.  Most people who are familiar with either her or Yukari would find this arrangement extraordinary, as few would expect that either of them could put their mutual enmity aside long enough to actually spend the greater part of their free time tending to the needs of the other.  However, a few simply nod knowingly, realizing that this is just how Runa is.
    For most of their young lives, Runa and Yukari have been enemies and rivals, though at the time the latter was named Arthur Auguste Bowen.  And for quite a bit of their history to make sense, it should be noted that until the end of high school, Runa lived as a boy, while Yukari actually was a boy--hence the name Arthur Auguste.  The two of them were known for fighting almost constantly, with many of their more dramatic encounters still remembered by their former classmates.  For her sense of justice, vehement opposition to Tohya's womanizing ways, strict self-discipline, and honourable conduct in spite of the delinquent circumstances of their constant dueling, Runa was known as the "White Tiger of the Seven Guilds Academy."  Also, she was caucasian, the fact of which might have had some say in it. 
    Their most legendary battle, wherein Runa revealed her true potential, occurred when the two of them fought over a girl.   Runa had been living as a boy and fallen for a girl by the name of Inoue Satsuki.   She intended on learning the magics needed to allow her to change her gender and become a real boy.  However, eventually Runa caught wind of gossip that Satsuki was seeing another man--Tohya--and that she was seen buying a pregnancy test.    After hearing the truth from Satsuki, for the first time in a long time, Runa's calm facade had slipped.  Enraged, she challenged Tohya to a final duel to settle, once and for all, the issue of who was the worthier Mage.  During which, Runa defeated her opponent by such an overwhelmingly vast margin that her name is still legendary among the new generation of students in Seven Guilds, much to her old teachers' chagrin.
    Knowing this, it surprises most people to find that their old archrivalry had largely given way to something akin to a friendship--or, at the very least, the closest thing to a friendship Yukari can manage to muster.  In the years following their last battle, and subsequent parting of ways, the two of them spent some time growing up a bit.  In Runa's case, she studied abroad as part of a special program for gifted students, where met the first boy she ever fell for, An Lingzhou.  A kind, if somewhat flaky, Mage with an unmatched, if admittedly unorthodox, knack for observation and persuasion.  From him, she learned what it meant to show real kindness to others, a concept distinct from justice and honour--and one the strict and disciplined Runa had trouble expressing.  Within the program, she also met a little girl named Shiroi Reira, a phenomenally powerful Mage suffering from a condition that left her physically dependent on a daily cocktail of drugs and healing draughts--seemingly in exchange for her powers.  Runa's skills as a Medica Yserium Mage couldn't cure Reira's condition, something affecting her from the very core of her magical being--her "Avatar."  Both Reira and Lingzhou passed away not long ago, and Runa doesn't like to talk about that much.  Or, even, what sort of gifted program it was that she and they were a part of.
    When she returned to her hometown of Baymoon City, she was asked both the Bowen family--as well as her mentor in the martial arts, Dr. Dante Bering--to take in her old nemesis as a patient, who was suffering from the same condition as Shiroi Reira.  Runa, surprisingly, accepted (though she still charged them for her services as a care provider).  Originally, she planned on surprising "Tohya" with her real gender, after all these years.  However, the surprise was on her, when she met her old nemesis after half a decade of parted ways.  So now, their rivalry is of that between two girls, oddly enough.  At least it's more low-key than it used to be, what with the two of them having mellowed out over the years.  And fortunately for Runa, it's poor form for someone to try to bully the person who voluntarily cooks for you and takes care of you as a private nurse, as Yukari has apparently figured out.
    It's her job to take care of Yukari now, and she takes an active interest in her health--both physical and mental.  Her training as a Medica Yserium Mage demands at least this much dedication to her work.  Though her job was merely to provide pallative care for a dying patient, for some reason, Runa intends to fully cure her charge of her condition.  Which is especially surprising considering their past history together.  And when Yukari finds herself embroiled in a conflict the likes of which she could never have imagined, it's Runa's job to make sure she gets out of it alive.  But, for some reason, Runa seems to be a bit more familiar with this fight than most...
    Other Notes:  Runa enjoys strawberry cake, as seen here.  She specializes in the preparation of French food, to Yukari's grudging appreciation, and excels at baking cakes and desserts--most of which, being French, are a bit too heavy on the saturated fats for Yukari's heart to handle more than once every few days, and only with exercise.  Her appearance is a throwback to some older pictures of her, as I've abandoned giving her wavy hair in order to give that to Cordelia as her "immediate recognition" cue.  Instead, though, I let some of her locks fall in a manner that betrays her immediate visual inspiration!  (Heh.)  Though, really, so long as she doesn't wear long skirts too often, it shouldn't be too obvious.  Note that Runa and Yukari were both seniors in high school when they fought their last battle, despite there being a three-year age difference between them.  As you see, in her youth, Professor Ascham skipped ahead quite a few years.  Runa's backstory is actually pretty important to the plot, and most of the details aren't mentioned here, for good reason.  In fact, Runa could be described as "The Hero" of the Five Man Band, by some perspectives.  Of course, she'd rather you believe she was "The Chick."  Obviously, being the only member of the 28 with significant previous experience, she's the strongest Mage among them (at the start) and can easily defeat any of the other members of the 28--even when they catch up to her, she's still one of their strongest fighters.  However, unlike actual combat-based Castes and Classes, Runa's fighting ability is very inefficient.  While she can increase her physical attributes to superhuman levels, doing so takes a great deal of energy.  Thus, she's chiefly a support fighter who cannot be counted on for long-duration battles.  Runa's favorite song is "Calling to the Night," by Hibino Norihiko, with vocals by Natasha Farrow.
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    Sennouji Yukari
    Age:  22
    Gender:  Female (?)
    Talents:  Ars Technologia, Mischief, Writing, Studio Art, Video Games
    Stats:  (Level--Ostensibly Starting Character, but EXP totals fudged)
    Type:  Seven Guilds Technologian.  Uni Dropout
    Avatar:
       [INSUFFICIENT DATA]
    Attributes:
       Strength:  **
       Dexterity:  ***
       Vitality:  *
       Intelligence:  ****
       Wits:  *****
       Mind:  ***
       Charisma:  *****
    ORB Rating:  *** (Skilled Mage)
    Colleges:
       Ars Technologia:  ** (Graduate Level)
       Powered Rune:  ** (Graduate Level)
       Element Force: * (Student Level)
       Bounded Ward:  * (Student Level)
    Skills:  (Only Skills in which the character is notably competent will be listed)
       Strategy & Tactics--Has exhibited a working grasp of strategy on the long- and short-term scale.
       Defense Fencer--A competent enough fighter to defend herself, and skilled in practical, non-sport fencing styles.
       Creativity (Art, Writing)--Possesses working competence in certain creative fields.
       Subterfuge--More comfortable with lies and deception than is strictly necessary.
       Two-Sided Mirror Form--Has an innate supernatural knack for one form of shapeshifting.
       Knowledgeable--Displays an impressive store of both scholarly knowledge and meaningless trivia.
      
    The story of Sennouji Yukari, up to this point, could best be described as a two-decade long parade of disappointments, punctuated by the occasional gloriously petty minor victory.  Throughout her (when referring to Yukari outside of her identity as "Tohya," she will be referred to as ) childhood, she was wracked with illness and physical weakness while constantly living in the shadow of a family of brilliant and capable Magi, against whom she could never compare--magically, physically, or intellectually.  To further rub in her inadequacies, her parents took in a more gifted apprentice as their ward, and her siblings clearly preferred the company of the live-in apprentice, Runa Ascham.  Who, in Yukari's eyes was, by all rights, the most infuriatingly self-righteous little bastard to ever steal her thunder. 
    Much of her youth had her grappling with a not-inconsiderable inferiority complex and venting her frustrations at her own  weakness through a rebellious streak.  She also took out a lot of her anger on Runa, probably against better sense, as she has never once actually managed to best her archnemesis in any contest outside of the strictly academic.  And, had she worked harder in school, she probably would've exceeded her rival's academic performance.  Though, among young Magi, practical skill was always valued over academic excellence, and in this field Yukari would never be able to best Runa.
    As a child, Yukari had the tendency to retreat into fantasy, engrossing herself in works of science fiction and high adventure and, as any young and naive young creative is wont to do, created her own works.  To compensate for her magical incompetence, she lived vicariously through obnoxiously perfect self-insert characters, all powerful and heroic Wizards, often with names derived from her own (at the time, she went by her legal name, Arthur Auguste Bowen).  In defiance of her physical frailty, she emulated her favorite heroes (and heroines) from TV, books, comics, and video games.  Perhaps as a warning sign to the rest of her family, young Arthur Auguste fantasized about being someone, anyone, other than the pitiful little wretch he really was.  This was also the first time he exhibited the innate ability to alter his form, especially with regards to gender.  Another warning sign they picked up on:  Their black sheep son had the habit of turning into a girl, prancing around in dresses, and stealing his little sister's toys.  When Arthur Auguste, as a girl, kissed poor Serizawa in public, that was the last straw.  That's when his parents caved in and finally put him into therapy.
    However, therapy didn't turn out quite the way they'd hoped.  As "Tohya," a more masculinized form of herself, she managed to earn a reputation as a reckless juvenile delinquent and something of a womanizer--though the truth was a bit more pathetic and less "bad boy" than the rumors would have most believe.  His first girlfriend, Rose Alphonsine Gautier, left him after a whirlwind romance in order to pursue his elder brother.  His second, Cordelia Agatha Philips, left him to travel with her mother, despite his earnest wishes for her to stay with him--even live with his family.  His third, Inoue Satsuki, left him and Runa and disappeared when the scandal of her teenaged pregnancy threatened the standing of both her and her family, even after he made it clear to her that he meant to take responsibility.  On top of that, he had to endure rumors spread about him portraying him as a rake and a cad following every incident, each leading to a public chastisement by the self-appointed "ally of justice," Runa.  This series of romantic catastrophes, combined with general feelings of inadequacy and inferiority, mixed in with the feeling of not living up to his Noble bloodline--one famous for its history of producing excellent Magi--left him bitter, angry, and sporting a rather darkly and cynical outlook.  And what's more, during the recovery periods following his break-ups, "Tohya" had the tendency to regress on his therapy and transform into "Yukari," and was as reckless as an out-of-control girl as the rumors had depicted him as a boy.
    Sennouji Tohya developed a reputation for ruthlessness, rebellion, and quickness to anger sometime after Cordelia left him.  Though Inoue attempted to try to help him through his tougher times, her own calming influence wasn't enough to halt the flow of rumors and dread.  By then, he had already been given the intimidating moniker of "The Black Dragon of Seven Guilds Academy."  Perhaps in a form of self-fulfilling prophecy, he was further embittered by these rumors and lashed out, thereby living up to his tumultuous reputation.  His specific attempts to lash out at Ascham tended to lead to defeat, though one couldn't fault him for persistence.  With the creative application of what magic he was skilled in, including the inscribing of Powered Runes as tattoos on his own body, he managed to make up for his chronically frail constitution and lack of power, relative to his most prominent rival, to the point where it was commonly believed the two of them competed on a somewhat equal level.  This was before their final duel, however. 
    That day, when Yukari and Runa duelled over the honor of the young woman caught between them, they held nothing back.  Tohya made his best preparations, pushing his fragile body to its limits with as many Runes and spells as he could muster.  During the course of the battle, with all his willpower, hesought deep within himself to summon up more power than he could safely handle, exceeding his physical  limits threefold.  However, as he learned that day, no matter how much power one possesses, all of it is meaningless if said power cannot be applied--in this case, his strongest attacks were worthless if none of them actually hit.  Runa dodged every attack with chilling ease, and felled him with one decisive strike--a high-level Sealing Spirit effect, presumably designed to dispel all of his persistent magics and enhancements.  Something happened that day, though.  For some reason, the Sealing Spirit not only affected his spells, but also his nervous and circulatory systems, leading to cardiac arrest and a subsequent, and humiliating, revival by the only Medically-trained student in sight--his opponent.  In retrospect, Yukari considers that an unintended interaction between the spell and her flawed physiology, and makes a note to avoid Sealing Spirits whenever they are cast.
    After graduation, and a relieved parting of ways with her archnemesis, the undisputed "Mightiest of Seven Guilds Academy," he sought to refine his powers and study a different method of magic from that his friends and family.  Sennouji Yukari, no longer Tohya, went back on all of her therapy and decided to simply live as a woman--at which point, her family just gave up and went on as if everything were normal.  Moving to Baymoon City, she studied the College of Ars Technologia under the auspices of the famous Dr. Dante Bering, who had taken her in as a favor for her parents.  This was a College of magic whose practitioners prefer to refer to magic as "the Technology of the Magi."  A system of compartmentalizing complex magical and metamagical functions through the structure of a programming language, it suited her style perfectly and she picked it up quickly.  In addition to this, the good doctor was a Medica Yserium Mage, among the best healers in the world.  One of the reasons he took her in was because she was a patient in dire need of care.  However, her studies were cut short when her body began to fail, in spite of everyone's best efforts  Her condition deteriorated at an accelerated rate since the last time she and Runa fought, and her typical daily cocktail of pills and elixirs began to stop working.  Eventually, her health worsened to the point where even her mentor, Dr. Bering couldn't slow the progression of her disease.
    Nearly a half-decade since she graduated from high school, her family and mentor approached her with an offer--she can live comfortably with a talented nurse, who would provide hospice care for her and generally let her live the rest of her life comfortably.  At the end of her rope, she decided to accept.  Thus, she found herself in a surprising position, moving in with her old archnemesis and vanquisher, and discovering that he was a girl all along.  Living with her unlikely nurse, she decided that as she didn't have much life left to look forward to, so why not spend it as she wished?  So she retreated back into her childhood fantasies, including the rather more personal fantasy of writing one of her very own. 
    Now Sennouji Yukari spends the rest of her days to writing her masterpiece, a massive epic science-fiction/fantasy novel so large, she has to split it up into six parts.  Except something's been bugging her about the ending, and she feels she needs to add a seventh section to it--problem is, she's struck with writer's block, her first since she started her project.  However, with Runa's occasionally-unorthodox treatments, her health seems to have taken a turn for the better.  And, what's more, a friend of Dr. Bering's is even considering publishing her manuscript--as a series, of course, so she could finish the last section later if need be.  For what may be the first time in her entire life, Yukari lives in happiness.
    But things are not what they seem.  Occasionally, strange and disturbing visions cloud her sight.  Other powers, the likes of which not even Magely society are aware, have taken an unhealthy interest in her work.  Monsters ripped from her novel's pages stalk the city at night, with her as their prey.  And a ghostly woman with the same name and face as the heroine of her novel has made contact with her, bearing vague messages of hope and despair.  The signs say that she's the reincarnation of the Swordbearer, the fictional hero she invented for her fantasies.  Is her mind and sanity crumbling against the realities of her despair?  Or have her seemingly fictional works thrown her into a very real war, waged in secret, to decide the fate of all humankind?
    Other Notes:  Why did Yukari change his gender and become a girl?  Because he wanted to be pretty.  Seriously, that's it.  That's all there is to it.  Yukari was drawn with a ribbon-tie like she's wearing in the associated avatar I've been using these past few posts, though she doesn't have fox ears here--being the Blueworld, that stuff stands out.  Instead, she has glasses.  She and Runa each think they're the victims in their rivalry and that the other is at fault, neither realizing that they kind of both are, in both cases.
  While playing any game online, Ditan is her natural predator, and her only hope to defeat her superior reflexes and experience is with tactics and mindgames.  And in Real-Time Strategy games, ironically, she's at her weakest--these games discourage strategy and tactics in favor of twitch gameplay and speed, to an even greater extent than First-Person Shooters.  At least in FPSes, she can adjust tactics after a respawn.  Slower-paced RTSes are an exception.  Yukari fancies herself "The Hero" of the Five Man Band, though we suspect she might actually be "The Chick."  In her longtime rivalry with Runa, she takes solace in her sincere opinion that she's prettier than her archrival.  However, she can't begrudge her nurse too much--seeing as how she's practically addicted to her cooking, especially.  Believe it or not, she's the one the bulk of the plot revolves around.  I made her entry so long and detailed partly as a "psych profile" reminder for me.  And to help avoid inconsistencies because, let's face it, I've changed a lot of things since first starting this blog-log!  Oh!  And by the way, Yukari's favorite song is "Get Wild" by TM NETWORK.
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    --The Five Knights of the White-Winged Comet--

    The name of the group comes from Yukari's novel, which lies at the heart of the matter.  Within the story, an ancient and powerful enemy of humankind, the Crimson Star Emperor, has reincarnated time and time again throughout history to usurp control of humanity from their Gods, the Celestials.  And each time he returns, a hero reincarnates to do battle against him.  This hero is known as the Swordbearer, after his emblem, a sword forged for the sole purpose of killing the Crimson Emperor--the sword named "White Comet" in the high language.  Their battle has gone on in secret, the Swordbearer's legend fading from memory and becoming nothing more than fantasy. 
    Yukari's novel, "The Wonderful Chronicles of the Knight of the White Winged Comet" (shortened to "Wonderful" because she thought the name had more "zing!"), describes six cycles of the rise and fall of the Crimson Emperor and his various incarnations.  She takes time to humanize each character playing a part in the story, every hero and villain, to the point where it's hard to tell who's right or wrong--with one exception.  The White Wing Swordbearer, in every incarnation, is almost a saint.  Whether the Crimson Emperor is depicted as a brutal tyrant or a misguided rebel, the Swordbearer does no wrong, even to the point where the Emperor himself has a grudging respect for his ancient nemesis.
    Yukari finds herself in the position of--quite ironically, given her history and personality--the new Swordbearer, whether she likes it or not.  And together with the four people sworn to protect her, for whatever reasons of their own, they are the Five Knights of the White Wing Sword.  It bears mentioning that everyone in this ensemble has lost a loved one in this secret war between the Celestials and the minions of the Emperor.  Every one except Yukari.  The members of this ensemble are also the only members of the 28 who are bound to conflict by reasons much more personal than simply wanting to do good or getting caught up in the Incident.  Everybody here has something at stake in this shadow war, and everyone is intimately connected to the secret and ancient plots that have been woven around them.  Some of these Five Knights, however, have more at stake than others.

................................

    If you were wondering what it was I was babbling on about with "Five Man Bands" and all, you should probably visit the TV Tropes website here:
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FiveManBand

    I'll be brutally honest, most of the time when I split the 28 Unluckies into ensembles, they had themes going on in the background.  I'll shout them out here, though whether or not those themes stick is anyone's guess.  For example, I don't really plan on forcing any of these characters to stay strictly within the roles marked out in the Five Man Band--things may change as I get a feel for the characters and they start to wander off into different directions.  But it's nice to have a shorthand for ideas to jump off from.



    One final, Frenchy note:  Port-Salut cheese is simply divine.  But it doesn't go well with hard cider.  On the other hand, it's great with granny smith apples and green tea.  Or iced tea, too.  And, surprisingly, grilled Louisiana hot links with rice.  (Heh.)  It's also sharper and creamier than Brie, though I still prefer the latter as a safe bet to accompany meal or drink.
 
Tags: cordelia, deirdre, five knights, five man band, get chance and luck, heart's content, honey and clover, longpost is long, retcon, runa, unluckies, why the hell did i stat everyone out, xiufan, yukari, yukaringumi
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