◈ Haemo Island
At the furthest point of the Orient is a huge island full of ferocious beasts. Haemo Island was completely untouched by human civilization, and survival of the fittest was the only rule that governed these islands. Yet in an act of desperation, a woman traveled to these islands with a newborn child in her arms.
Already injured and coming from a long voyage, the woman used the last of her strength to carry the small child as far as possible. Traversing the forest proved too much, and before she could reach anywhere resembling safety, she succumbed to her injuries and died, leaving the newborn alone and defenseless. A beast passing by, perhaps drawn by the scent of blood, took an interest in the newborn child. The beast picked up the child, and decided to take care of it alongside its own cubs.
The child grew, almost feral, yet the purity of her heart remained. She took care of injured beasts after fights, played with new cubs, and became an integral part of the pack. Yet there was one human who also called Haemo Island his home. This sage, Hwisa, returned after a long voyage looking for a successor, and was instantly intrigued by this little girl who had turned up on the island in his absence. Heuklang, a legendary beast, took an instant liking to the girl too, and decided to take the girl as their own.
With Heuklang’s help, Hwisa managed to communicate with the girl, and eventually the beastial tendencies slipped away. Yet even when communication was an issue, the young girl absorbed the teachings of her new master. Her fearlessness helped her in taming beasts of the island, and learned to wield her own claws as she practiced swordsmanship.
Yet the girl continued to grow, as did her inquisitiveness. She began to question who she was and how she ended up on this island. She made her way down to the coast to look for clues as to how she got here. As she traveled around the perimeter of the island, traversing rocks and looking in caves, she discovered an old boat, almost overgrown by the local plantlife. This was not Hwisa’s boat. She inspected the outside and saw strange markings, but nothing really to identify the boat. As she looked inside the boat, she discovered a few sets of dirty rags. She pulled them out of the boat, and as she unfurled them a beautiful hairpin dropped out. She picked it up, and carried it back to Hwisa.
Hwisa was sitting, almost content with her back to Heuklang. Heuklang was the first to sense that something was coming, and nudged his master towards the young girl. Without a word she handed her the hairpin.
“I want to learn more about how I got here, so I went down to the coast and found this. Please don’t be angry at me” the young girl said sheepishly.
Hwisa didn’t look angry, but instead looked as intrigued as she was. The hairpin was beautifully designed. She took in the expert craftsmanship, the beautiful gold inlays with jade stones embedded in it. It was truly a beautiful piece of jewelry. She tossed it back to the young girl.
It’s a hairpin, incredibly well crafted, probably from nobility. However, I would advise against heading straight into your past. Sometimes the rocks of the present bury an awful past, and maybe that is the case here.’ Hwisa once again laid back onto Heuklang, her emotionless face proving too tough for the young girl to decipher.
As Hwisa and Heuklang slept, the girl left the camp and headed towards Hwisa’s boat. As her feet hit the sands of the beach, she felt nervous. She had never seen civilization before, yet here she was about to set sail on a huge journey. The cold seawater rushed against her leg as she pushed the boat out into the waters, and jumped in. She needed to know her past before she could forge her future. As the oars touched the water almost silently, she felt as though the watchful eyes of Heuklang and Hwisa would continue to watch her every move.
As she arrived on the shores of the human world, she was amazed. There was nothing but civilization as far as the eyes could see. The only other person she had ever met was her master, and suddenly she found herself surrounded by more and more people. Thousands of people crowded down the small market streets, the smells of spices and baked goods filled her nose. She was entranced by everything that the world had to offer. She wanted to explore more but she had a task at hand.
She wandered through the world, from city to city, town to town. Each city gave the girl something new to learn, something new to experience. She learned so much about human culture and society through her journeys. The plight of the poor and the seeming extravagance of the rich infuriated her, but this was not the world she felt she could affect change.
At each stop on her journey, she inquired about the hairpin, but nobody knew anything. A few times a couple of degenerates tried to take it from her, yet she dealt with them almost too easily.
One day she stumbled upon an old library, almost derelict with torn banners hanging from the ceilings. The beautiful symbols of a forgotten house smeared with dried blood. Some of the walls of the library were torn down, scorch marks covered parts of the floor where a fire was made, most likely from the wood of the smashed bookcases all around her. She searched through the ruins, more of curiosity than a particular goal, as the door opened. She jumped behind a pillar, and watched as an old lady, no taller than the girl herself entered. The old lady walked up to a huge portrait of a family hanging on the wall and laid down a simple but beautiful bouquet of flowers. The old lady turned and spotted the young girl.
“My Child, what are you doing in a place like this?”
But the girl did not answer, instead she stared at the ornate hairpin that was in the portrait. It was nearly identical to the one that she currently held in her hands.
“Who are those people?” the young girl asked. Instead of responding immediately, the old lady offered the girl a place to stay, and they could talk more once darkness fell on the city. That night the young girl learned about her family and the civil war that ravaged their lands. At the successful coup and the slaughtering of all those who were loyal to the family, and finally about the handmaiden who stole away the young princess during the chaos. The girl learned that she was that very princess, and after learning all about her family she felt content. She thanked her host for the night and quickly departed for the island.
The journey was much quicker and smoother going back. Her curiosity didn’t cause her to stray half as much, and before she knew it, she was at the base of the island. Yet she didn’t feel as though this was home. Something had happened. The birds weren’t singing, the beasts weren’t stirring and she could not feel the presence of Heuklang. She ran quickly up the mountain. The smell of blood came thick from the top. Bodies of soldiers and beasts littered the path to her master’s base. When she got there, she found Hwisa lying against Heuklang as they often did, yet their life had escaped them. She crouched down next to them, inspecting the fatal wounds they suffered and she wept. She knew it was because of her that they had been killed, that she piqued too much attention in the towns, and with the recent knowledge that her parents had been killed she felt that anyone close to her would also suffer the same fate.
She piled rocks on top of the bodies as a makeshift grave, and placed her shortsword into the ground above it. She said her final goodbyes, and descended down the mountainside. As she was traversing a tricky section of the mountain she was startled to see a black shadow appeared before her. It waited patiently at the otherside of the rock, staring at her intently, and as she approached the shadow opened its eyes, and rubbed itself against her ankles. She knew immediately that this pup was a Heuklang beast and in its mouth carried the Celestial Bo Staff, Hwisa’s most cherished weapon. The girl accepted the weapon and decided to take the young pup under her wing. Although it was weak now, one day it would be strong enough to prove to be a worthy travel companion.
Together they got back on the boat and headed west, to find civilization and once again find a new place to call their own. With her master’s Celestial Bo Staff and the young Heuklang by her side, she felt that the world was fresh with new possibilities.