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Established February 2010
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* Plot Information for Tacea

Tensions are rising in Tacea after the destruction of their Territory Court at the hands of its Queen. Unable to continue their traditional cycle of succession because of accusations of treason, Tacea must find a Queen capable of uniting the land while building bridges to the world outside its borders.
Overview of Tacea
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Author Topic: Zhihao An  (Read 2832 times)

Description: Prince. Tiger Eye to Summer Sky. Played by Leez

Offline Zhihao An

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      Kagen Spymaster

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Zhihao An
« on: Apr 14, 18, 09:25:00 PM »
The Basics

Character Name: Zhihao An
Age and Birth Year:  54, b. 141 AP
Race:  Short-lived
Caste:  Prince
Birth Territory: Tacea
Home Territory: Tacea

Birthright Jewel: cut Tiger Eye
Offering Jewel: cut Summer Sky

Role: Yumi's Spymaster
Faction: Kagen Clan


Play By: BD Wong
Distinguishing Features: Zhihao has one of those forgettable faces that blends into the crowd. He is attractive in a distinguished, generic kind of way, and neither short enough nor tall enough to make a lasting impression.

In most formal situations, he appears in full Geisha dress and makeup, which makes him even more unrecognizable when he chooses to go incognito.


Personality: Reserved and soft-spoken, Zhihao has mastered the art of holding his tongue. He is skilled in telling people what they want to hear - or what they need to hear - and at teasing information without seeming like he’s probing. In his capacity as spymaster, he has a great memory for people, faces, and facts, and he keeps both his professional and personal business carefully organized and catalogued… with the exception of certain off-the-books activities in the service of his Queen. He is meticulous in his manners as well as in his personal grooming habits, and is careful to never be seen making what could be construed as a faux pas.

Zhihao is an intensely private person, choosing to keep his personal opinions and dealings close to his chest. Years of Geisha training have made him good at hiding his emotions and keeping a straight face, while the circumstances of his life have made him good at keeping secrets. His circle of trust is exceedingly small and he is reluctant to open up to new people - at this point in his life, he is inclined to think he has already met all of the friends he is meant to have. However, he is able to be coolly polite to most everyone - very few people honestly believe that Zhihao dislikes them.

Though Zhihao does not fully agree with Tacea’s traditional gender roles, he sees why they are necessary. He is generally content with his position in society - as a male, as a geisha - and considers his complaints to be extremely specific to his own personal situation. He is as emblematic of masculine ideals as any Geisha can be - though he perhaps skews a tad too intellectual - and is devoted to his Queen and her court (the only one he’s ever known).

  • 1 - Gossip The spymaster’s bread and butter, Zhihao takes great interest in keeping abreast of the latest goings-on - especially when they might concern topics relevant to his Queen’s interests. Though he recognizes that gossip is by and large a base pursuit partaken by people who aren’t sophisticated to discuss anything more interesting, he must admit that he lives for the drama of knowing everyone else’s business.
  • 2 - Dancing Even as a young child, Zhihao had a natural grace that made him an attractive candidate for Ureshi-sa’s recruiters. He has trained all his life in Tacea’s native forms, and takes pleasure in both performance and private practice. He finds joy in movement and exploring characters through movement - especially as he grows older and feels a need to keep limber.
  • 3 - Keeping Busy Zhihao lives by a carefully cultivated schedule and seeks to make his waking hours productive ones, as he firmly believes that staying mentally and physically active is the key to staying young well into old age. He devotes his leisure time to a number of hobbies, from the obvious dance practice and composing poetry to slightly more obscure pursuits like bonsai tending, and hates to feel like he is wasting time.

  • 1 - Social Expectations Though Zhihao’s geisha training has given him an elevated position above other males, he still chafes against the glass ceiling of Tacean society. He does not resent his sex, but he does wish he were free to be open in his affection for Ryuuen, as two women in their situation would be, instead of having to carefully hide such a vital part of his life from all but the most trusted acquaintances. He also finds the mainland’s prejudice towards minority tribes troubling. While being Tang has had very few repercussions for his career, it has kept him from being able to tell his daughter of her parentage; though the Kagen feel favorably towards his people, the rest of Tacea does not, and appearing to have “weak blood” would impact Yumi’s ability to rule one day. Being able to be open about both these secrets would lift a significant weight off Zhihao’s shoulders.
  • 2 - Mess Zhihao’s earliest memories are of squalor. Being taken from his cousin’s house to live and train at Ureshi-sa was like stepping into another world. To this day, he finds great discomfort in dirty surroundings, and he cannot rest if the floor needs sweeping, the shelves need dusting, or he’s let this morning’s mug sit too long on his desk.
  • 3 - That feeling you get when something is on the tip of your tongue but you can’t remember it Zhihao relies on his memory and prides himself on never forgetting a face, so tripping over simple things like why he walked into a room annoys him like nothing else.

  • 1 - Aging ungracefully At fifty-two, Zhihao is far older than his parents ever were, and he has no point of reference for how he should expect to approach his twilight years. Many of his behaviors are cultivated around trying to retain his mental and physical faculties for as long as possible. He is all too aware that his life is more than half over, and he dreads the steady decline that can come with old age. If Zhihao has his way, he’ll be lithe, limber, and lucid long after his hair has gone silver.
  • 2 - Failing to properly assess a threat As Hinata’s spymaster, Zhihao has spent his life monitoring potential threats to her safety and power. Even in retirement, he has always kept one wary eye on the horizon for any issues that might arise, and now that Hinata is stepping back into the spotlight and Yumi sits on the Kagen throne, Zhihao has gone back onto high alert. There have been some close calls over the years, situations that have come much closer to disaster than he’s ever let Hinata know, and he fears that one day something might slip past him and turn into a real problem.
  • 3 - Dying without telling Yumi who she is to him/losing Yumi Zhihao has loved his daughter since before he even met her, but circumstances beyond his control have always made it inappropriate for him to reveal their connection to her. He gathers that Yumi has always perceived him as distant and prickly - and that absolutely breaks his heart. At twenty, Yumi is potentially old enough to be trusted with the truth, but Zhihao doesn’t know how to tell her or when - and, in the wake of the eruptions and subsequent upheaval, he now fears some catastrophe will separate them before he finds the right moment.

    Craft Strengths:
  • 1 - Cosmetic Craft Zhihao is a man of many faces, and he uses both subtle and advanced cosmetic craft to change his appearance, don different identities, and operate behind opposition lines. He also might use it to smooth out his smile lines when he’s feeling insecure...
  • 2 - Exploiting Weakness Zhihao is skilled at sensing both physical and emotional weak spots, able to tell where to strike to bring his opponent to their knees… or just the right thing to say to shake an adversary to their core. He is usually able to anticipate what the results of such a strike might be, and can sometimes get a read on the original source of the trauma.

    Craft Weaknesses:
  • 1 - Contracts Zhihao avoids crafting contracts like the plague - the less of a paper trail his spy work leaves, the better.
  • 2 - Whimsy Craft Zhihao’s dancing is enchanting enough without adding parlour tricks to it. He looks down his nose at whimsy craft, considering it a frivolous pursuit at best.

    Life Story

    Mother: Deceased.
    Father: Deceased.
    Siblings: None.

    Lover: Ryuuen Kirijo, Summer Sky to Opal Warlord Prince, b. 142 AP

    Daughter: Yumi no Kagen, White to Rose Queen, b. 172 AP
    Apprentice: Ryuki (Futaba) Kirijo, White to Rose (reduced from Y-SS) witch, b. 172 AP

    Adversary: Toshihiro no Ariake, Opal to Sapphire Warlord Prince


    Zhihao was the first child of a couple who expected to have many more, but his early life was shaped by tragedy. When he was eleven months old, his parents’ home burnt to the ground with his mother inside. Zhihao’s father carried him to safety, but succumbed to smoke inhalation injuries a few days later. Within a week, custody of Zhihao passed to his mother’s second cousin in Chang’an, who provided for his basic needs but very little else over the next four years, due in part to lacking the resources to properly care for him, and also because she clearly favored her three daughters over her cousin’s orphan.

    In 146 AP, when Zhihao was five years old, his cousin sold him to scouts from the Ureshi-sa okiya for a tidy sum. Zhihao then traveled to Ito, where he began to train as a geisha. He possessed excellent physical coordination for a child his age, and quickly excelled at dance and fighting, but was something of an average student in other subjects. True to his Princely nature, he got on well with the other boys in his cohort, and provided a studious, level-headed presence that their teachers appreciated.

    Of his classmates, Zhihao was particularly close with Ryuuen Kirijo. Though there was only a year between them, Zhihao had already been at the okiya five years when Ryuuen began training, and he took it upon himself to show the new arrival the ropes. The two quickly became inseparable - a relationship that turned romantic several years later, when they were both in their late teens and wise enough not to acknowledge it to anyone else.

    When he finished his training, Zhihao had no interest in settling down and serving a single Queen - or, he didn’t, until he laid eyes on Hinata no Kagen for the first time and immediately bonded to her. By coincidence, so did Ryuuen, and in 161, both of them placed in the top seven in the Queen’s Gauntlet.

    After establishing himself as one of Hinata’s daggers, Zhihao eventually moved to fill the role of spymaster as well. His dance training had prepared him to assume different gaits and attitudes, and through makeup and craft, he was able to assume countless different identities and infiltrate different social gatherings and political movements, identifying and stopping threats to Kagen power, of which there were many. At the height of Hinata’s rule, Zhihao coordinated a sizeable network of spies and informants, all of whom were dedicated to a singular goal: maintaining political stability in a territory so recently rocked by war.

    Zhihao and Ryuuen had long agreed to be seen with women in Hinata’s court, as a means of turning attention away from how close they were. Most of these activities are of absolutely no consequence, except to give context to events that took place over Winsol in 171 AP.

    Hinata’s daughter Eri, emboldened by the celebratory mood of the holiday, took Zhihao up to bed. Eri departed for her family’s estate in Kanazawa a few weeks later and, once she was settled in, sent him a letter explaining that she was pregnant and intended to keep the child, even though Zhihao’s Tang ancestry made him a less-than-ideal sire. Zhihao tried to keep his role in the whole scandal (for by now it was truly a scandal) from his Queen as best he could… and lasted about six months. Hinata was fortunately understanding, but Eri made her intentions clear - Zhihao was to have no part in their child’s life.

    However, Eri’s intentions went awry. Zhihao fretted for Yumi’s safety throughout the two years preceding her mother’s suicide, and was quick to urge Hinata to take her orphaned granddaughter in, remembering his own neglectful early childhood in his cousin’s house. He was ignored until Yumi’s Queen caste manifested the following year, at which point it could hardly be said to be his idea.

    Yumi’s caste posed a stumbling block. While it was not uncommon for aristo women to have children with geishas, most geisha did not carry the stigma of Tang ancestry. Though the Kagen had always been friends to his people, the other great clans did not feel similarly. None of this would have mattered if Yumi had never developed a caste, but being a Queen meant she might rule one day, and having “weak blood” threatened to undermine her power. Knowing she was too young to be trusted with such a secret, Zhihao reluctantly decided that Yumi could never know his relation to her - or certainly couldn’t know it until she came of age. He considered himself lucky to watch over her as she grew up, which was already more access than Eri had intended him to have, even if he could never lay a hand on her for fear of their Blood exposing their connection.

    When the time came for Hinata to relinquish the Dragon Throne, Zhihao chose to remain on her staff, both to continue managing her personal security and intelligence network as she moved into the role of Dowager Dragon, and to stay close to Yumi, who, at fourteen, was bright, headstrong, and ambitious, and made his heart swell with pride.

    In 190 AP, when Hinata was finally prepared for retirement, Zhihao again made the decision to stay in her service. He had a plethora of reasons, chief among them that he was inextricably linked to the Kagan clan through his daughter. Though his workload was greatly reduced from what it had once been, he was still determined that Hinata needed someone watching out for her safety and that of her court - someone with an ear to the ground, who could keep an eye on the horizon and meet threats as they arose. And - someone who could keep tabs on Hinata’s wayward niece Toyani.

    Show Us What You've Got

    Character in Play:

    It was too early in the Spring for it to be this warm, thought Zhihao, carefully blotting his forehead with a handkerchief. The air had been far crisper when they set out for the landing web, but now it was something approaching muggy and he was displeased with it. Had he known, he would have worn a summer-weight robe - but this was the hand he’d dealt himself when he got dressed this morning, and this was the hand he’d play, even as the white powder on his face threatened to run.

    If it did, he did not think he would make a particularly good first impression - but then, he was not here to make a first impression.

    The wind picked up, pushing out from the landing web before the assembled group, and a moment later, the coach materialized. Zhihao’s eyes quickly found the door. It took what it felt like forever for it to open - he knew how coach travel went, of course, and with a small child he imagined it was that much more complicated and--

    Impatience is unbecoming of a geisha, he reminded himself.

    Finally, the door opened.

    A servant exited first, luggage in both hands. Then Ryoko, who looked enough like her deceased sister to give Zhihao pause. She stopped at the bottom of the steps and turned back, holding her hand out to someone still inside the carriage--

    And then, there she was.

    Yumi no Kagen held tight to her aunt’s hand as she climbed down the coach steps. She had been dressed in a crisp blue robe for the occasion, and her dark hair was cut into a blunt bob and had been combed until it shined.

    Zhihao couldn’t say if she looked how he had at that age. He didn’t have any photographs from his life before the okiya. He thought she might. There was a broadness to her cheeks that seemed more Tang than Kagen.

    Ryoko approached her mother, bowed, and then nudged the girl beside her towards Hinata. The two women spoke quietly for a moment. Zhihao did not try to eavesdrop. His attention was focused solely on his daughter, who now clung tightly to her grandmother’s hand.

    He was scenery in this reunion, as much a part of the background as the trees or the sky or the grass. Anonymous in his rice powder and robe, indistinguishable from the men on either side of him except by psychic scent and close examination. In future years, looking back on today, Yumi would not remember his presence here.

    Perhaps she might not remember him at all.

    Petitions (if any): 

    Wanted Ad Fulfillment (if any): 

    Player Name: Leez

Offline Leez

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Re: Zhihao An
« Reply #1 on: Apr 14, 18, 11:38:18 PM »
Could I please get a random birthright and descent + 5 family rolls, please?

Please be kind to me, troller.

Offline Reid

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Re: Zhihao An
« Reply #2 on: Apr 14, 18, 11:48:14 PM »
Approved for Tacea stuff. :o (and yumi stuff but she's not approv yet)

Offline Zen

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    • "we’re all stories, in the end."

Re: Zhihao An
« Reply #3 on: Apr 14, 18, 11:50:24 PM »
Cue much starry-eyes from his Queen. All Hinata references are a-okay!

Character Tracker | Discord: Whitney#1654

Offline Rated Em

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Re: Zhihao An
« Reply #4 on: Apr 14, 18, 11:51:59 PM »
thumbs up all ryuuen references + ureshi-sa okiya things <3 <3 <3

Offline phinneas

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Re: Zhihao An
« Reply #5 on: Apr 14, 18, 11:52:29 PM »
Weighed by Mother Night...

You've risen from the Darkness twice blessed with a cut Tiger Eye Birthright Jewel, and were gifted with a cut Summer Sky Jewel at your Offering.



1. Yellow - Rose
2. Summer Sky - Green
3. Yellow - Summer Sky
4. Rose - Opal
5. Opal - Sapphire  •  Discord: phinn#0798  •  Writer Tracker

Offline Leez

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Re: Zhihao An
« Reply #6 on: Apr 15, 18, 12:00:15 AM »
Ready for review!

Offline phinneas

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Re: Zhihao An
« Reply #7 on: Apr 15, 18, 10:44:02 AM »
Added to the queue.  •  Discord: phinn#0798  •  Writer Tracker

Offline Dash

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Re: Zhihao An
« Reply #8 on: Apr 15, 18, 02:47:19 PM »
Email:   Discord: Dash#6159