Name- Ryu Jun-Seong (Note- in the nomenclature, Jun-Seong is his given name and obviously, Ryu is the surname)
Eyes- Deep blue
Hair- Ash brown with tawny roots
Height/Weight- 5'10'', 145 lb.
Physical Description- Ryu Jun-Seong is distinguishable from most others in his crew by his noticeably Western features, though one can still see the threads of Tian Xian heritage. Jun-Seong has the hard, lean muscle expected of an experienced sailor. He often goes without a shirt, so his torso is tanned to a dark olive. His hair is kept shoulder-length, held at bay by a wide strip of cloth tied around his head. Most of the time, he keeps himself relatively clean-shaven (not that his facial hair grows quickly or in great abundance in any case), but if the winter is biting, he will let it grow into a full and unkempt, yet relatively short beard.
He normally wears nothing but a loose pair of cotton pants with a long cloth belt tied in a small knot in the front, with the remainder of the length dangling down to his knees. To protect his hands from rope burns and annoying scrapes, Jun-Seong has long cloth strips he wraps around his hands and forearms, leaving his fingers exposed past the second knuckle. In winter, he also applies these wraps around his feet and calves. When he became a first mate, he was given a tight-fitting leather bandoleer adorned with many small pouches and the like. Most of these are empty but in a few are stashed coins and such.
Personality- Ryu Jun-Seong is, above all, a sailor and pirate. He is fiercely loyal to his crew and his captain. He has a deep, native knowledge of his ship and how it is run, and personally makes sure it is run efficiently. It is rare to see Ryu display any strong emotion. He is very subtle and slow to express a solid opinion. Even so, his discipline is strong and he is never lax in ordering his crew or punishing disobedience.
Protective instinct drives Ryu in battle, stemming from a childhood of protecting those who were less able than he. He is relentless and shows none of the reservation he expresses normally. Jun-seong is incredibly loyal, but that loyalty is a one-chance deal. Once one breaks or abuses that loyalty, he becomes cold and indifferent.
Though he is reserved and is generally noncompetitive, Ryu loves games and puzzles; he has a reputation among the crew as being able to read thoughts of his opponents, and has won many gambles with self-proclaimed 'masters' of many diverse games of skill such as mahjong and fan-tan. Ryu also loves riddles, though most don't have the patience to play with him. When in an argument, he tends to use this to his advantage through circuitous and proverbial responses.
In a world of illiteracy and ignorance, Jun-seong has a drive to learn; he takes every opportunity he can to gain knowledge, whether it be scholastic, martial, or in the disciplines of qigong.
- Protecting others
- Furthering the cause of his captain and his fellow pirates
- The pursuit of knowledge
- The crew has a pool of 'common' items. This includes food, clothing (ranging from simple baji to magoja and other weather-conditional articles), a stash of assorted weapons, currency (only in 'common' possession by semantics, it is held by the quartermaster for acquiring items for the good of the entire crew), et cetera.
- The mates, quartermaster, boatswain, and captain all have a wooden trunk in which to keep their personal possessions, as opposed to the rest of the crew, who store their personal possessions either under their bunks/hammocks or in large sacks.
- A jeonbok, almost never worn outside of port.
- A woldo, rarely used in ship-to-ship engagements, but Ryu's favorite weapon.
- A niuweidao, almost identical to the ones wielded by the majority of the crew.
- An Eyropan spatha, much rarer in those parts, usually wielded in his off-hand with his niuweidao in the main hand.
- Several other rare weapons, never used but proudly displayed on the ship (he considers himself a bit of a collector).
Agile- Ryu has acquired an acute degree of agility from over a decade and a half of piracy. He can maneuver on a rocking boat as well or better than on solid ground, and can climb the rigging, balance on the yardarm, and generally get where he wants to go on a ship with efficiency.
Pickpocket- From his years on the streets, Ryu has honed his pickpocketing skills to an art. Given his relative size and reservation, not many would suspect him to be a thief; Ryu knows this, and uses it to his advantage. He is a master of, instead of the slinking and quick-handedness of most street purloiners, approaching his victim directly and using trickery and distracting conversation to keep him or her clueless as to the fact that they are being robbed right under their noses. He keeps these skills up by stealing from Jinwu (in good nature, of course).
Qigong- Ryu is a practitioner of Feng Qigong, specializing in alacrity and agility with strikes that would seem to be negligible carrying deadly force, surprising opponents. Of course, the main focus of Qigong is not combat, but finding balance and serenity in oneself; Ryu, being an adherent to Feng, focuses on the outward aspects of this philosophy.
The qi Ryu channels through his dantiens is gained through exercises, both combat training and technique discipline, as well as meditation. Qi is gathered in the lower, or Xia, dantien, and stored in the middle, or Zhong, dantien. Some is stored in the upper (Shang) dantien, but Ryu’s pool of qi is greater in the Zhong due to greater training.
At the present moment, an action such as jumping from the main deck to the top of a mast or shoving his spatha hilt-deep into solid wood would completely sap his Zhong dantien, leaving him weak and unable to utilize his qi in any way until he has accrued more through meditation or other rituals.
Consequently, Jun-Seong has been trained to use his qi subtly, gaining a slight advantage over an opponent and saving the majority of his power to assure victory or escape in any contingency. As a summary of his abilities, Ryu will normally be able to triumph in a fight with a combatant with an equal level of martial aptitude and skill that lacks mastery of Qigong, but would fall to either a master of arms or of Qigong. Ryu is of much more use in a large-scale skirmish such as a ship boarding, where his strategic mind can win him the advantage.
Clever- Jun-Seong is adept at mind games and situations that involve use of critical thinking and problem solving. He is able to reason on a high level, which makes him naturally skilled at games and riddles. It also comes in handy in a pinch, when his size precludes usual methods of blending with a crowd, for example. He is also a good multitasker, able to perform multiple functions that require attention at once. This comes from his years of thievery and deceit on the streets, having to simultaneously distract the victim while also paying attention to what he was stealing from them. One of the main sources of satisfaction in Ryu's life is outmaneuvering an opponent, either in a game or in battle. He has a knack for it.
Loyalty- Ryu is fiercely loyal to the ship and its crew, and even more so to Jinwu. This is largely because of the detachment he felt from everything as a child in his temporary home with Ryu Gi-Sang. He felt at home in a position of relative leadership as part of a band of street rats; he felt a sense of obligation to protect them in return. Ryu felt a similar feeling with a ship’s crew under Wei Gang, and he was immediately attached to it, simply because it seemed like that was what he was supposed to do. Now, he feels grateful that he has men loyal to him as well, and he feels obligated to serve them well as an officer in return.
Piracy- Oddly enough, with as much of his heritage in trade as he has, one would expect him to be at least passably good at handling money. However, he has been trained his entire life as a pirate to spend his share of loot without a second thought. Instead, he hoards his shares needlessly and only spends coin on archaic baubles and similar junk. Ryu actually possesses an impressive collection of rare weaponry, kept hanging on a wall in Jinwu’s quarters [ Note to Darrik- I hope this is okay; I can figure something else out if not]
Tenacity- Contrary to what one might think, Ryu is very vindictive if you cross him. This can lead to burnt bridges, so to speak, that may have been taken better advantage of if, say, Jinwu had handled the situation. Also, in combat, his relentless and focused nature can lead him to overextend himself, leaving him in a disadvantageous position.
Hidden Hubris- Qigong is powerful, and Ryu knows it. Yet he lacks the inner peace to practice Huang Qigong. Therefore, he has devoted most of his time to the practice of Feng Qigong, making him practiced and deadly in its forms, but lacking the rounded ability that comes with practice of the Huang forms.
Anatomy- Jun-seong is indubitably larger than the majority of those he is around. This can cause many problems, from breaking chairs (which has led to a habit of standing and/or pacing) to the martial disadvantages of less potential for speed and agility. Though his qigong style mitigates these weaknesses, they are nevertheless present.
Attention blindness- Ryu’s gifts of focus and multitasking come with a trade-off: when Ryu is focusing on something, such as a pickpocketing victim, a combatant in a large-scale skirmish, or even a mental exercise, he tends to block out the world around him, or ‘tunnel-vision’. This can create a dependency on others, namely the crew or even Jinwu, to ‘snap him out of it’.
_______ ‘Boy’ ________
Ryu, as he prefers to be called, was born to an Eyropan merchant and his wife, a woman born herself of a Tian Xian merchant and the daughter of yet another Eyropan merchant. His father was a swindling, yet not unkind man, while his mother was quiet, only silently protested her husband's actions. Unfortunately for the infant, however, his father was in debt, and the fastest way out was to offer his newborn, unnamed son to the family of his creditors.
Jun-Seong's mother had finally had enough. She took him away to the nearby village that had grown from the trading post, to the household of a trusted acquaintance named Ryu Gi-Sang. He agreed to raise the child on her behalf, but the child's mother was forced to leave quickly so as not to raise suspicion. She then convinced her husband to depart before the crediting family found out about the woman's treachery.
The young, then-unnamed child was raised by the Ryu family, and though he was never named by them, being simply called 'boy', he was known by the street rats he scrounged with in the day as Ryu or Huo. His upbringing was proper to those outside the family, who did not witness the neglect. They never saw Gi-sang's wife kicking young Huo out in the streets to fend for himself, then beating him when he arrived late, dirty, or otherwise unprepared for supper.
One day, Huo decided he had had enough. He knew plenty about the streets by that point, and hiding from his surrogate 'parents' was no challenge. The only hardship came from the fact that under the grime of the streets, he was built differently from the rest of the rats, and that meant he had to have his metaphorical head down doubly often.
________ “Where ya from?” _________
Then, his fortune changed the day he met Han Gao; rather, he met him properly and didn’t just nod as he passed another rat in the pack. Ryu had just come from a run to procure some food for he and a few others he had wordlessly banded with for the time being. He had come back with a rough loaf of bread that had been thrown out. Ryu didn’t understand it; the mold was easily picked off, and there was no use throwing it out when it was mostly edible. Even still, he wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to have a (nearly) whole piece of bread.
Naturally, the other rats were rather disapproving of his selfish acquisition, and promptly took the loaf and distributed it amongst themselves, leaving none for Ryu as a harsh street punishment. He left them to their stolen reward and sat against a wall in a nearby alley, feeling vengeful.
Certainly, Ryu never would have imagined another ruffian coming up to him and offering a piece of his share. It wasn’t near half, but that was expected of a street-raised kid: generosity so long as they still come out on top. Ryu snatched up the bread and stared at it and then up at the other rat, who was crouching on his haunches. He had his piece in his hand, and had just casually torn off a bite and popped it in his mouth.
“If ya don’t mind me askin’, where ya from?” This question startled Ryu; he didn’t really know. He had only known people from here and Gur’yeo, and he hated the thought of being born here. Beside that, he had always heard Gur’yeo was a nice place. It was a nice thought to have.
The rat snorted and shook his head, as if to say, ‘You believe this guy?’ When he did, speak, he said, “No, you ain’t, kid. I reckon you’re from way out west, maybe even past the border. I hear they look like you out there. You look like you're fresh off the trade route.”
Who was he calling kid? He looked younger than Ryu, or scrawnier at least. In any case, Ryu had never heard of anything west of the Empire, but he suspected that such a place existed, as he had seen all manner of trading men come through the markets. “Do you know anything about what it’s like there?”
“Nah, but there’s elves there. You don’t look like an elf, though.”
“Thanks for the bread.”
“Hey, I’m no monk, but those jerks are always taking advantage of people. Karma, y’know?” Ryu nodded contemplatively. “What’s your name, kid?”
Another good question. He stuttered for a moment. “Ryu.”
“I don’t care about your family name, kid, y'ain’t got no family," the kid said, smacking on a chewy hunk. "What’s your name?”
“I was never given one.” Now Ryu was getting defensive. “It’s just Ryu.”
“Hey, alright. Don’t bite my head off, Your Dragonliness Ryu-Tianlong.” Ryu had no choice but to chuckle. This kid may be small, but he was sharp. When Ryu looked down, he found he had eaten all his bread without realizing it. He was frustrated that he didn’t have time to focus and enjoy it.
“My name’s Han Gao, by the way.”
“Han Gao.” He thought for a moment. “You wanna go steal some more food?”
Ryu had taught himself survival on the streets, but with Han Gao, he learned how to thrive. He became adept at finding what he wanted in a busy market and acquiring it without fear and without being caught. Years passed like this, and Ryu found himself in a position not exactly of authority, but certainly seniority among his peers. He or one of the (few) other older boys were looked to when something needed done right, and Ryu, or Huo as he was known by among the younger rats, was happy to oblige. He couldn’t stand down from a challenge, but his recklessness wasn’t his downfall.
It was Han Gao.
_______ “They’ll never miss one bag.” ________
It was another day at port. The air was still humid after the rain, and the crowds made the port a swirling pocket of sweltering heat. Ryu hated oppressive heat, though it didn’t seem to bother Han Gao; he was just as enthusiastic as ever.
“Hey, Ryu, whaddya say we go get somethin’ to eat, yeah?”
Ryu, resting against a wall with his head back, eyes closed, simply shook his head. “I’m not feeling up to it, Han Gao. We can eat this evening at Madame Cao’s.” Madame Cao was an affluent woman who, underhanded as she was, cared for the rats. She always made sure they had food when it was too hot, too cold, or too crowded to steal, and she provided either shelter or blankets in the dead of winter.
“I’m sick of feeding off that hag. We can get our own.”
“Give it a rest, Han Gao. If you wanna go get some food, then by all means, do it.” Ryu didn’t realize his voice was rising until he caught himself yelling loud enough to attract a stare from a passing member of the throng on the nearby street.
Slightly put off, Han Gao rose from his haunches and paced for a full minute. “Fine,” he said finally, “I’ll go find something to eat, and you can starve until tonight.” Ryu hardly noticed when he left. His eyes were already closed, and the heat made him lethargic. Sleep came without a fight.
He awoke to something, or someone, rather, kicking him unforgivingly in the side. The first thing that entered his ears was a string of curses and insults from Han Gao. “Stupid. Have you finally lost it? Falling asleep in the street in broad daylight.” More curses mixed in and the kicking continued until Ryu growled and grabbed Han Gao’s shin mid-kick.
“Alright, I’m awake.” He stood quickly while still holding Han Gao’s leg, causing him to lose his balance and fall ungracefully to the ground. Neither of them laughed, but there was no bad feeling between them either; that was just how it worked. “What do you want?”
“So, listen, and don’t interrupt me. I was lookin’ for some food, right? And I see this junk come into port.” Ryu glared, but didn’t interrupt as per request. Noticing, Han Gao hesitated before continuing. “So, you’re gonna think I’m crazy, but I snuck on there, and I overheard ‘em sayin’ they was gonna stock up on rice. Y’know what I think? I think that they’ll never miss one bag.” A devious smile crept onto Han Gao’s face, the same one that appeared whenever something especially insane was in mind.
As much as he felt like calling Han Gao something repulsive and going back to his lethargy, some impulse influenced him into saying, “Fine. Lead the way.” Better judgement only showed its face enough to prompt Ryu to add, “But this is a ridiculous idea.”
The junk was fairly unremarkable, all considered. He couldn’t see anyone paying special attention to the gangplank, so Ryu shrugged at Han Gao when he looked back and said silently, ‘I suppose.’ They swiftly boarded the ship and fell more than climbed into the hold. Han Gao pointed frantically at a secluded spot where they could hide undetected, invisible from the ladder and not easily seen unless one took special care to walk in that direction, which seemed unlikely.
They waited there for just enough time to cause Han Gao to lose patience, and his fortitude was only just slighter than Ryu’s. Naturally, he wanted to scope it out rather than just sit there, and Ryu was in no mood to disagree. So away he went.
Ryu was patient with waiting for a time, but he finally broke down and let himself fall asleep once more. If he hadn’t fallen asleep, curled into an unseen corner, he would have seen members of the junk’s crew loading rice into the hold, but more importantly, he wouldn’t have seen Han Gao’s return, or lack thereof. What the sleeping rat didn’t know was from now on, he was on his own.
Ryu slowly awoke to the rough sound of voices that he imagined belonged to men either strong enough to rip his limbs off or ruthless enough to perform the same with a blade.
"Here's the last of it."
"Well, if that didn't take long enough."
"It took entirely too long, I agree with ya. But don't let the captain hear you saying that. You might not make it back out with the rest of us."
Soon, he heard the sound of creaking wood that signaled the pirates' exit. After waiting a minute to assure they were gone, Ryu crept out into the main expanse of the hold. It was fairly dark, but he could make out the dozens of sacks of rice that weren't there before. As was the wont of a street rat, he immediately started planning how he could maximize the amount he would be able to consume in a timely enough fashion to both fill himself to bursting and get off the ship before it departed.
As he was blankly staring at the sacks, enthralled in thought, he suddenly had much better acquaintance with them. Some great force pushed him against the heap, which he now assumed was a pirate. Streams of curses tumbled around in Ryu's mind. "Ssh, don't cry, little stowaway. The captain will do nasty things to you if you do." Ryu heeded his advice, but was prepared to be stubborn in case it was a ploy to get him to fully submit to whatever horrors awaited stowaways.
The pirate, who Ryu could feel was scrawny but outstandingly strong for his size, leaned in closer to whisper in his ear. "Now, if you'll shut up and stay down here and hidden, I'm not gonna tell the captain. He's an unreasonable pig, and it won't end well for you if you try to run for it. I don't mind kids like you, long as you're willing to help out and you're hard working. We're casting off any time now."
Ryu nodded quickly and wasted no time in retrieving his earlier hiding place as soon as the pressure released. When he looked back, the pirate that had saved him was gone. The boy put his head down and thought hard. He came to the conclusion that there was no way he was getting out of this, and staying here until he could be smuggled out was the most likely way of staying alive and unharmed, though to what end he could not fathom.
Sitting there, waiting, he reconciled himself to a life of piracy. It really wasn't so different from being a rat. You take, you run, you hide and plan how to take more. At this point, he could feel, and to a lesser extent hear, that they were now in open water. He could not keep his anxiety out of his mind the entire way back to wherever they were going.
"There's a stowaway on board, captain." Li Shouren, the sailor-savior, was skeptical that Wei Gang would let the kid stay, but the pitiful look he got was enough to risk a beating to save, and getting the captain's permission was worth a shot.
Wei Gang shot him a dismissive look. "I want it off my ship before we cast off, and that's now. And every second you aren't spending helping that become a reality is another second in my ire, Shouren." The burly captain walked off, barking orders and leaving his crewman standing there, disappointed. He couldn't waste a moment, though. Li Shouren spun and headed back down, making it seem like he was following orders. Instead, he did all he could to make the kid's life comfortable for the next...however long it would take for someone else to find him. In the meantime, he decided he should at least know the kid's name.
"What's your name, kid?"
"...I don't have one. They called me Ryu."
"Well, where are you from?"
"Well, Gi-sang was from Gur'yeo, so I guess that means I'm from Gur'yeo, too."
He chuckled condescendingly, but with no great malice. “Doubtful. Still, I once knew a man from Gur'yeo by the name of Jun-Seong. Do you like that name?"
Ryu had never known that names could be liked or disliked; he had never been given one himself, so naturally it was the best name he could imagine.
"Yes, very much."
"Then that's who you are."
Wei Gang was angry when the newly christened Jun-Seong was inevitably discovered, but they were already at sea. As brutal as Wei Gang may have been, he wouldn't throw a child overboard. From that day forth, the boy was a part of the crew. He wasn't looked at as if he were different; the shipmates were nearly all from different backgrounds and ancestry. He was looked down upon at first by Wei Gang, but as the latter grew to see that Ryu was a hard worker, he accepted the fact that he had another mouth to feed. He still had Li Shouren whipped liberally for his insubordination, but Ryu was quick to become a contributing member of the crew just like any other. His small size was useful for crawling in small spaces and the like, but he shied away from battle and would hide in Wei Gang's cabin when a skirmish or raid would occur.
One day, Wei Gang grew angry at his cowardice and demanded he learn not only to surpass his fear, but to love the thrill of combat. Ryu first learned (through multiple beatings by full-grown men only partially mitigated by Ryu's own large size) unarmed combat, then use of the niuweidao. He grew to enjoy especially the moment when he knew he had triumphed, the parry or strike that predicated his victory. Ryu lived for that moment. His true love, however, came to be the woldo. Years passed and Ryu became a true member of the Nian Shou.
Through dedication and relentlessness, Ryu came to be first mate of Wei Gang's ship, the Hailong (or Sea Dragon), a month before his end at the hands of an upstart Yi Sao lapdog named Lu Jinwu.