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"It is what you do, not what you are, that matters."

0 · 244 views · located in Human Realm

a character in “The Way of The Ronin”, as played by Verdandi




I’ve never really seen the need to apologize for what I am, nor to hide it. Abomination? That word means nothing to me. My existence is no crime.

Much to her chagrin, Amaya has not yet reached an age where most people are inclined to respect her, if indeed they ever would. Despite being of the long-lived hanyō variety of sentience, she has not yet exceeded eighteen years.

Some women are quite concerned with aesthetics. Amaya assumes this has something to do with the fact that their worth and their beauty are usually equated, by men and by themselves in turn. As someone who has rejected the premise that her value has anything to do with her appearance, she does not often bother to pretend to beauty. She wears no ornaments, no cosmetics, no luxurious fabrics or prettily-embroidered kimono. Indeed, she dresses and speaks like a man, her gestures as expansive as she should desire, her way of being in space comfortable rather than demure. She is a small woman, coming in at just under five feet tall, and for that reason, she is rarely taken to be male, but masculine? Oh, definitely.

Perhaps, if one is an asute enough observer, there is something lovely to be found in the symmetrical, delicate structure of her face, or the pronounced slant to her black eyes. Perhaps it is in the pristine nature of a dewy complexion, or in the long fall of ink-colored hair, not at all uncommon a color, but perhaps unusual in the softness or the shine. But these are subtle things, hidden things, and most people are bound to notice only that her face is unpainted, her stride as long as her legs can make it, and rolling rather than dainty. She washes in like a wave over the shore, unapologetically herself, refusing to stand on anyone else’s idea of ceremony.

Her form is slightly boyish in shape, perhaps, her curvature quite modest and mostly hidden by garments anyway, or at least it would appear so. That it takes a significant amount of binding to achieve this effect is not something she would share with anyone, though perhaps in moments of greater activity, the sarashi in question might be glimpsed hugging her ribcage snugly. For all that she is seemingly open with her bearing, there is something yet mysterious about her as well, a thing hinted at in the intelligent, cutting glimmer of her eyes, as well as the obvious pride and grace of her carriage. An odd little thing, she must seem, and perhaps that is not so mistaken.

To ask what Amaya is like is to receive an uncertain answer, albeit a very similar one, from just about anyone. She is, on the one hand, very much like an open book. She wears her traits right there in the open, on her sleeve, unconcerned with hiding who she is. She is probably smarter than just about anyone she should meet, and she doesn’t care to pretend she’s stupid. She is, however, in many ways naïve, and she doesn’t try to hide her weaknesses, such as they are. She will be the first person to confess when she doesn’t understand something, most of the time. She is proud—it's written in her carriage, the way she holds her head high even when someone else would have her put her nose to the dirt and grovel. But she is not arrogant, and gives those who have earned her respect their due.

She is direct—if she feels she has something important or valuable to contribute, she will, without sparing feelings by eliding the truth. Even so, her intellect is capable of comprehending the subtleties, and she can play word games and implicate indirectly as well as anyone, if the situation calls for it. Her mind is tactical, rational, and calculative; it is hardly a surprise that she is exceptionally skilled at games like shogi, nor that she thinks through her every decision before allowing herself to take action. Patient, cool, and thoughtful, it can be difficult to penetrate the unshakeable air she folds around herself like an extra cloak of protection.

Her manner of speech is precise, as is her movement. Little is wasted in flourish, giving her a distinctive, minimalist grace in word and deed. She is not a flower, Amaya, but a stalk of rice—a plant much plainer and less elaborate, but ultimately containing much more of use and substance. She is well-used to being underestimated, but it has long ceased to bother her, and though she does not like it when people talk over her or interrupt her, she has learned that it does much more good to show such people that they are mistaken than simply to tell them.

She can be surprisingly magnanimous and good-hearted, to those who are willing to give her a chance. In fact, one could say that Amaya’s loyalty, while definitely hard-won, is quite nearly absolute. Her surface demeanor lacks the obnoxiousness that some straightforward people display, and she seems instead to be rather serene, perhaps a touch aloof, and maybe even a little mysterious, but not especially intimidating. That said, she does struggle with the deeper emotions—those likely to be brought on by close connection with others. Having lacked such connections for the majority of her life, it is territory unfamiliar to her, and unlike her aptitude for learning facts and strategies, her understanding of her own heart and soul has always dawned very slowly upon her.

She has precious few, to be sure. Occupying a rather unique position in Yousuke’s network has left her without any true colleagues, though she generally coordinates the shinobi and kunoichi, and is thus more familiar with them than the rest. To Yousuke himself, she is extremely loyal, though her outward displays of this are few. Still, there are those who do not believe a woman capable of advising a man in matters of war and espionage, especially such a young woman. Persistent rumor asserts that she is in fact nothing more than a concubine, dressed up in official titles at his whim. She is no such thing.

Amaya has some training with a wide range of implements, but her preferred weapon is the naginata, the traditional standard for women warriors. It helps negate her lesser strength by offering leverage, and allows her to keep her opponents at a more comfortable distance. That said, though it is not her preference, perhaps her best techniques are actually in hand-to-hand. Her use of aikido allows her to redirect the strength of anyone who attacks her, and use it against them. For long-range situations, she is proficient with both the bow and arrow and chakrams, bladed throwing discs.

Amaya’s primary strengths are mental. Not only do most of her abilities work that way, but she is also an incredibly-smart strategist, naturally gifted in the intellectual realms. Her memory is nearly perfect, especially her auditory retention, and she has a great deal of mental fortitude. These are not the ostentatious strengths belonging to the people she is most often surrounded by, but their subtlety makes them no less effective, and indeed sometimes more dangerous, as they tend to be underestimated in the opinions of warriors.

While she is no slouch in terms of combat, she could hardly be considered physically strong, given her size. There are people out there who could easily defeat her in a toe-to-toe match out in the open, even despite her hanyō status. Aside from that, she has some difficulty comprehending the full range of possible emotion—she has never known things like friendship and love and affection, nor indeed even irrational anger. She has, first and foremost, always been ruled by her head, leaving her rather naïve to matters of the heart, and she can underestimate the strength and effects of those emotions as a result.

+ Shogi and Go
+ Calligraphy
+ People-watching
+ Sweet foods
+ Rain
- Dullards
- Nobility (usually)
- Bright sunlight
- Being interrupted or spoken over
- Being patronized (due to either age or gender)


Where Yousuke goes, Amaya goes, and that is simply fact. It has been so for the last two years, and will be so for the foreseeable future. Regardless of what anyone else thinks, she knows she has value here, that she serves a purpose, and for that, she could not be more grateful. Whether she considers anywhere her home is a question that as yet has gone unanswered.

The early lives of hanyō are rarely pleasant. Exclusion from society, both that of humans and that of yōkai, is extremely common, and that is assuming the yōkai parent does not simply kill the child, as the ancient laws demand. In Amaya’s case, she was not killed, but she was exposed to the elements, whether by her human parent or her demon one, she neither knows nor cares.

She was initially taken in by a Buddhist monk, an act of charity that almost certainly saved her life. The monk, Renshō, raised her for about the first six years of her life, but he was an old man even to begin with, and he died while Amaya was still in her extreme youth, leaving the young girl he had named to care for herself thereafter. She would not have survived, perhaps, save that she was a very resourceful and intelligent child, and her abilities left her options, ones that allowed her to coerce others into providing enough that she could get by.

Though she did not at first know, Amaya was able to discover through the scrolls and books that Renshō had left behind that her talents were those belonging to shinigami, a particular type of yōkai called such because they were believed able to drive others to suicide. That’s not quite how it worked in practice, but they do have subtle mental manipulation talents, including projective telepathy, that allow them to plant thoughts, however wicked or benign, in the minds of others. They can also astrally project themselves, and take brief possession of the bodies of others in their spirit form, though to do so leaves their own bodies vulnerable. They are an exceptionally rare species, falling officially under the governance of the House of the Sea, given that an aquatic environment is neither here nor there for them, as they do not technically need to breathe at all.

Reading the texts gave Amaya some sense of what she really was, and it was through them that she also came to understand many other things about the world, including the general attitude others had towards hanyō. Seeking to see if it was true, she ventured from the monk’s home in the mountains down to the nearest village, a place she had sometimes visited with Renshō. Without his presence, she found that people were much more hostile to her than they previously had been. Rather than reacting to this with fear, Amaya treated it as any other problem, philosophical, mathematical, psychological, that Renshō had used to test her with, and devised a solution: a form of mind magic so subtle she didn’t even need to manipulate it consciously, that allowed her to suppress her shinigami aura, and turn her less-human features from the notice, though not the sight, of humans.

She used a modified form of the block on an aikido master, leaving him selectively unaware of the fact that she was young and female as well as hanyō, and applied the same sort of tactic to other people who had things she needed, and in this way, was able to build up a life for herself. It was all, however, in service of one thing: that she would one day use no blocks at all—that she would walk through life as the hanyō she was, and no one would be able to tell her to do otherwise.

That day came when she was sixteen. Her aikido instructor had proclaimed her a master of the art, and she was confident in her ability to look out for herself. She stopped using the mind magic, and the scorn rushed back in. Amaya withstood it like the ocean weathers the wind, allowing it to change her not, alter her fundamental nature in no way. She refused to be ashamed of what and who she was—someone who had, despite the fact that she was a woman and a half-demon, gotten by in the world almost exclusively on her own for most of her life, and become strong enough to endure.

That same year, she met Yousuke Haru, a man who cared not for the fact that she was a woman or young, a man that was hanyō like her, who acknowledged that she was worth something, as she had always believed she was. He brought her on board as his adviser, a role in which she has functioned since.

It is perhaps her most deeply kept secret that her confidence is largely a facade, that she hides behind it because at some point the hateful words struck her for truth, but she believes that if she can prove herself, what is false confidence now will become real. In the meantime, she is exactly where she believes she needs to be.


So begins...

Amaya's Story