Roleplay Forums > Character Activities > Character Journals > The Book of Four Seasons
Imugi

Character Info
Name: Seo-Hyang Ha
Age: Unknown
Alignment: TG
Race: Imugi
Gender: Female
Class: Former Assassin/Apothecary
Silver: 0
The words in this book are handwritten with a brush in clear strokes. The language is pictographic like the symbols of the kingdoms in the east. The words' type is an archaic form, one that is no longer seen except in ancient texts kept by scholars for study. The parchment and ink are not very old, suggesting they were obtained recently.


A long time ago, there was a village by a great river. It was far from the big city of Jayou, surrounded by farmland. The lord and lady loved each other yet the lady could not bear him a child. Desperate, they prayed to the river god in hopes of a solution. One day a shaman came to the lady. 'The lord of the river has seen your honest devotion, milady. Take two shelled almonds and swallow them, then you will be with child. In exchange, one of your children shall be his servant.' The lady was overjoyed and thanked the shaman, and gave her many gifts in thanks. And according to the shaman's words, she took two shelled almonds and swallowed them. However, one of the almonds still had its skin attached while the other was peeled.

Soon she was with child and she gave birth to two girls. The first to leave the womb caused the midwives to scream in fright for it was a coiled black serpent, while the younger sister was an ordinary infant. Though she was weak from labor, the mother stopped them from throwing the first child out. 'It is just as the shaman said, one of my children will be the river god's servant.' In those days, river gods were said to be dragons and water serpents vassals beneath them. Not long after, the lady died leaving her people and lord beside themselves with grief.

Imugi

Character Info
Name: Seo-Hyang Ha
Age: Unknown
Alignment: TG
Race: Imugi
Gender: Female
Class: Former Assassin/Apothecary
Silver: 0
I remember my childhood was a painfully solitary one. Although my father was of high social standing in our village, I was kept cloistered in the estate. Almost no one wanted to come near me, though they were afraid to mistreat me due to my birth being a blessing of the river god. My maids were either mute or deaf, and the one tutor who agreed to stay was completely blind to what I looked like. If he could see, surely he would have bolted. I doubt he ever knew his pupil was a serpent. My younger sister was given all the servants' attention and she was the only one who father would agree to see without being summoned beforehand. Whenever he looked my way our eyes would never meet. He must have been ashamed of me. 

When I passed my seventh Glaciem, it was customary for the lord's children to have their future marriages arranged. Girls married young back then, as surviving past one's first childbirth was a dice's throw. Father wanted my sister to go through matchmaking at once, though the older maids reminded him that he should abide by tradition and have me matched first. Looking back I don't blame his hesitation–every single boy who saw me in person ran away screaming and shaking in terror. My sister on the other hand already had several potential suitors lining up just to catch a glimpse of her beauty. Soon there weren't any suitable families in the village left for us to meet with. Still, father kept his word and continued his search, reaching out into the surrounding towns and villages down the river. The result wasn't much better, as most were driven away by my appearance or had heard the rumors. 

There was one family whose second son had heard of my sister and somehow miraculously had steered clear of the local gossip. Having grown wise from past experiences, father suggested we exchange letters for a while before our meeting on the excuse that my health was poor. And so we did for half a year, and we nearly thought we had finally found someone willing to accept me. I must have been desperate thinking there was hope in a situation like that. The fact we spoke without seeing face-to-face only made the sudden revelation of the truth harder to accept. When the arranged meeting date arrived, he came to see me only for the color to completely drain from his face. Having a rather blunt and straightforward personality he blurted out, 'I can't marry a snake!' 

My father and the servants sent him away and I was sent back inside. Even though he was right, those words hurt deeply. Who could blame him? I curled up into a tight ball beneath my quilt and buried my head within myself. Despite how much pain I felt, I couldn't shed any tears. After all, serpents can't cry. 

Imugi

Character Info
Name: Seo-Hyang Ha
Age: Unknown
Alignment: TG
Race: Imugi
Gender: Female
Class: Former Assassin/Apothecary
Silver: 0
As the years passed my father's patience toward me dwindled. My presence had become a burden, a source of infamy. A daughter who could not be married out, crawled on her belly, and could not succeed the family name was no use to him. Although I excelled in my studies and calligraphy, he gradually began to see me as curse than a blessing. And with mother gone, eventually he forgot about the words of the shaman. His tolerance finally ran dry on the yearly commemoration of my mother's passing. Grief-stricken with anger, he pointed at me and said: 'I refuse to have a snake as a daughter!' Despite the servants' pleas, he would not listen and wanted to cast me out. There were some maids and servants who pitied me and begged him not to act rashly.

It was then that a wealthy man was passing through our village and was staying for a few days. Rumors of me were a common conversation piece among the people and he heard plenty. This young man had a sharp eye for rarities and curiosities, and wanted to know where he could find this great river serpent. After a few cups of tea, he struck a deal with my father and bought me for a sizable sum. I was roped into a metal cage and covered with a cloth before being put on the back of a carriage. When the darkness lifted, I was inside the study of that merchant along with many other unusual pets he possessed.

I spent a number of years in that room, only taken out when I needed food or water or whenever that man fancied me. It was the same for his exotic songbirds, beetles, and fish kept in a small pond. From the servants I heard my owner was somewhat of a genius, though strange in the head. Sometimes he would put my cage on his desk while he worked on papers and talked endlessly as I was a captive audience. He occasionally would read poems to me or show me books with pictures in them out of childish amusement. Perhaps he was lonely, or maybe he thought I was the only one that actually paid attention. I spoke not a word in my time as his pet. It was better off that he saw me as a simple animal.

Imugi

Character Info
Name: Seo-Hyang Ha
Age: Unknown
Alignment: TG
Race: Imugi
Gender: Female
Class: Former Assassin/Apothecary
Silver: 0
My owner stopped coming to the study for several days. I first thought he was away handling business, but then the maids and servants were gradually leaving. The recent hires were the first to go, some of them even slipped inside the study to steal a few baubles and trinkets before hurrying out. The head manservant and head maid were discussing the state of the house, and it was then I overheard the merchant had run into an accident in another land. Days passed and the dust began to pile up. One by one people were taking the other pets and valuables away. Then one night, there was a scratching at the window. I heard the click of the shutters and a dark-clothed person climbed in. The estate was nearly abandoned by now, and the house's contents were being set up for auction. 

The footsteps drew close to my cage and a shadow fell over me. 'My my, what do we have here?' Holding up my cage, a pair of dark eyes peered down. There was a low chuckle and the man's voice spoke in a loud whisper. 'An imugi…what a rare sight to see. It seems the owner wasn't aware of what a valuable being he had in his possession. You can hear me, can't you?' I felt my body turn cold when the person addressed me directly. After growing accustomed to being seen as a lowly reptile, the thought of someone knowing I could think terrified me. It was then that I realized that perhaps the voice I was hearing was not an audible one after all. 

The man told me my owner had passed away, having met an untimely death. He reassured me that he meant me no harm, and wanted to take me in. What use would a venomless serpent have? I thought to myself. His laughter rang within my mind and he encouraged me to accept his offer, promising me he would show me how to refine and develop my latent talents while learning more about what I was. After years of mistreatment, I had become desperate. From that moment onward, I was inducted into one of the most renowned houses of assassins in Jayou. 

Imugi

Character Info
Name: Seo-Hyang Ha
Age: Unknown
Alignment: TG
Race: Imugi
Gender: Female
Class: Former Assassin/Apothecary
Silver: 0
Since I left Jayou, I lived for almost a century in Karith. My knowledge of plants and medicines from my past profession allowed me to pass as a mere apothecary beneath the eyes of the Shen Michi Yuren. I ran my small shop in the middle of North Cai-Hua Street on the right side, between a jade emporium and a dry goods store. I had steady business all year round, mostly from the lower levels of the city. Having observed my apprentice's progress, I feel it is time for me to move on. The apothecary's shop is in good hands, and I have taught the boy all that I know. He is no longer an apprentice, he is a full-fledged alchemist and apothecary in his own right. Heisei is staying with him and will keep his word on acting as his assistant as he did so for me for many decades. 

So much can change in a hundred years; seeing what the world is like nowadays will do me good. I took an airship down to farmlands beneath the floating city's shadow. My planned route will pass through Jayou and then continue eastward just before the golden fields that mark the boundaries of Jasumin. There's a place I haven't seen in a long time…



Once you pass Jayou, there isn't much to use in terms of navigation. I was lucky to find a local fisherman who has traveled along the rivers who was willing to take me to where I wanted to go. He asked me my reason, and I said it was for someone I once knew. We drifted for miles, resting during the heat of the day and at night. When the first village came in sight, he said this was where he would have to drop me off. I was confused and asked him why we weren't going further. The old fisherman scratched his head and told me that this was the last place with buildings I would see on this side of Jasumin. I had no desire to argue, so I thanked him and paid him for his help. But somehow something doesn't feel right. I know there should be a large fiefdom just a dozen miles down.

I asked the local farmers and vendors in the market early this morning about any neighboring settlements in the area. Most claimed that there was nothing further east and that stretch of the river was surrounded by dense marshland. When I gave them the name of the village I wanted to see none of them had heard of it. They said there had never been a village in that area. While I was gathering my thoughts, I felt a hand grasp my arm and an elderly woman with a head of white hair wanted to speak with me. Her eyes were already starting to cloud over, but she had overheard my inquiries with the other people and felt there was something I should know. 

'I haven't heard that name in a dog's age!' She said. She continued, explaining that she was not from that village but she was only a little girl when there was a sudden flood of rain that swept through the area. The river overflowed its banks and that fiefdom had the worst of it. The severe flooding ruined the crops and houses, then that land suffered a severe drought. The disease brought by the flood took its toll on the population only for starvation to drive the last nail in the coffin. With the land completely ruined, what was a moderately prosperous community faded into obscurity. I asked her what year this had happened, and she gave me a rough estimate. Counting back on the stages in my life, the timing seemed to match when I was sold off to Jayou.

Coming back to Jayou, I can't help but wonder if it was no coincidence. As much as my father gave me reasons to hate him, if I wasn't sent away back then would that disaster have been prevented?  

Imugi

Character Info
Name: Seo-Hyang Ha
Age: Unknown
Alignment: TG
Race: Imugi
Gender: Female
Class: Former Assassin/Apothecary
Silver: 0
How things change so quickly within a hundred years! In the time I spent in Karith, the city I once knew has become unrecognizable. The streets are wider, the lights more luxurious, and the buildings greater in height. The names have changed and the city itself has been redrawn. When I returned from my century-long absence I lost myself searching for the the Thousand Flower Pavilion only to learn it had caught fire and burned fifty years ago when Jayou's commercial district suffered the ravages of a dry Ignius. The damage to the establishment was too great for it to be salvaged, and the river city lost a symbol of its history.

Ah, if only it had survived–it was a grand building unlike any other. Back then you could see the gilded stories tower above the city's rooftops as far as the eye could travel. It was the pinnacle of the city's entertainment quarter, a golden pearl set in a diamond circlet that crowned Jayou. Those wealthy and influential were regular patrons and it was the shining example of high-class luxury. However unbeknownst to the majority of Jayou, it was also the headquarters of the renowned assassin's guild called the House of Flowers. 

The House of Flowers was an exclusive, all-female guild of skilled assassins. Girls of all ages and races were brought to the Thousand Flower Pavilion where they were trained as entertainers. We all underwent rigorous lessons in singing, dancing, and all sorts of arts imaginable along with our assassin training. After all, being performers and hostesses were our cover. Once our training was complete each of us would choose a specific area of expertise in the art of assassination. My specialty was creating 'natural' deaths without the use of poison. I and many others lived in the Thousand Flower Pavilion where we entertained and served patrons by day and carried out commissioned assassinations come nightfall. 

It took me several days to learn what had happened to the House of Flowers since my departure. Decades before the devastation of the Thousand Flower Pavilion, the late Madame passed on and the entire guild mourned. Her seat was then transferred to her successor and new head of the House of Flowers. However the loss of the Thousand Flower Pavilion had dealt a heavy blow. Though no records or scrolls were lost, the impact the guild had over Jayou began to wane. The Pavilion was not just a historic structure; it was a physical representation of our influence and power. And without it, the presence of the House of Flowers no longer held the same gravity as it once did. The times were also changing. Newer gangs and syndicates arose and an entire generation who did not know us when we were at our peak came onstage.

The House of Flowers split into several smaller branches, a network of entertainment troupes and teahouses. While they all answered to the Madame, each branch had its own manager. Our influence dispersed, no longer centralized. There are still people within the old guard of the syndicate families who remember us, most of them belonging to the second or third generations. But as Jayou's underworld has grown, our pool of customers has gradually receded. Now conflicts between factions have become public with territory wars commonplace. The gangs and mob families have no need for assassins like us anymore–those who follow by a strict code of law and choose their clients before accepting requests. I fear that if this cultural transition were to continue, the House of Flowers may not last much longer.

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