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Who: Kaito and Edmund
Universe: Ariel
What: Taking a thread from Ariel into musebox

Baby it's cold outside )

HMD?

Mar. 3rd, 2015 06:18 pm
tothealtar: (thought: breath)
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→ IC
□ Name:
Kai
□ Journal: tothealtar
□ Series: The Lunar Chronicles
□ Canon point: Cress, about thirty minutes before wedding ceremonies are due to start
□ History:
Once upon a time there was a prince. His father was the Emperor of the Eastern Commonwealth, one of the six nations which made up the Earthen Union, an alliance that had maintained peace for the last hundred and twenty-six years, since the end of World War IV. During that time, the biggest threat to peace hadn't been any of the countries on Earth, but Luna, and the Lunar rulers. After Kai's father's death to letumosis, a plague which had killed hundreds of thousands of people in the twelve years since it had appeared (including Kai's mother, years previously), Kai became Emperor.

He inherited a host of issues, the most pressing of which was the Lunar Queen Levana, her threats of war, and her offers of peace. She had long had her eye on the position of Empress of the Eastern Commonwealth, something she could only attain through marriage to an Emperor. Her attempts to convince Kai's father, Emperor Rikan, had been unsuccessful, but she brought everything she has to the table to try to convince Kai, including offering him the cure to letumosis that her scientists have developed, but only if he agreed to a marriage. Kai badly wanted another solution, and he optimistically continued his search for Princess Selene, the rightful heir to the Lunar throne, who was said to have been killed by Levana thirteen years previously.

He knew his android had found out something, but she'd broken down before she could share what she'd learned, and prior to the death of his father Kai brought her to a mechanic at the market in New Beijing, Cinder, to ask her to repair the android. Kai took Cinder at face value, and ran into her a number of times in the period after his father's death. Compared to the politics he was suddenly the only one who could deal with, and the fact of trying to handle Queen Levana (who in addition to being fairly evil also had a sort of magic/bioelectric control to make her seem ridiculously beautiful to everyone who set eyes upon her), Cinder seemed straightforward and honest, and Kai found himself falling for her.

As Emperor, his feelings on the subject didn't really matter, and they mattered even less as Queen Levana continued to apply pressure to him. Emperor Kai decided that at the annual peace ball this year he would ask Levana to marry him. He still asked Cinder to come to the ball with him, because he liked her, and because he was trying to find some other way out, because he naively thought that if Levana saw he was interested in another woman, she might agree to a peace deal that didn't include marriage with him. Cinder told him she couldn't go to the ball, because her younger sister was dying of letumosis. Kai gave her some long silk gloves in case she did decide to come, and to thank her for fixing his android. In the end, Cinder did show, in a dress soaked from the rainstorm outside and in gloves covered in grease. She and Kai shared a dance, and then she revealed that the reason she had come was because she had discovered that if he married Queen Levana, Levana would kill him at some point after the wedding, because she knew about his search for Princess Selene, and it angered her.

Kai told Cinder that he still had to do this, because he believed it was still what was best for his people. Cinder didn't believe that to be the case, and she kissed Kai. He did not respond to her kiss, but Cinder used it to try to get Queen Levana to call the wedding off, declaring that Kai was in love with her. That didn't matter to Queen Levana, who accused Kai of poor taste, but only that, and Cinder of being a Lunar shell, a Lunar without the bio-electrical control that was their birthright. On Luna, such shells are put to death, and Queen Levana demanded the same penalty for Cinder. Kai, who had no idea before that Cinder was Lunar, who had thought her an ordinary Earthen mechanic, was left confused and feeling betrayed. Levana continued to demand Cinder's death, but Kai tried to stand opposed to her. Levana offered to bargain for Cinder's life, but Kai took into account her attitude and decided that he would be putting his people at greater risk by marrying her, and so agreed to give up Cinder to Levana's control, but not to marry her. Levana took offense, saying there could then be no peace agreement.

While they were discussing this, Cinder was being held by a guard, until she said, "It really is an illusion. You're not beautiful." Levana took even more offense at that, and used her bioelectrical powers to force Cinder to take the guard's gun from his holster and hold it to her own head. Queen Levana would have made Cinder shoot herself -- while Kai was desperately pleading with Levana to stop -- but Cinder turned out to also be a cyborg, and between that and her Lunar physiology (the fact that she did have bioelectric powers of her own, that she wasn't a shell) she overcame Levana's control and fled outside. Kai followed her, picking up the cyborg foot that fell as a result of her run. His primary concern, having found out that she was Lunar and cyborg, was knowing whether or not she had bioelectrically controlled him. Cinder promised that she hadn't, and Kai told Queen Levana that Cinder would be taken into custody and delivered to her, but that if Levana killed Cinder that night, that there could be no hope of a peace treaty.

Cinder ended up escaping from the prison that she was put into, with assistance from a palace researcher, and Levana gave Kai three days to find her. He put forward all the resources he had, but at the end of those three days Cinder was still free, so Queen Levana attacked Earth with a small force that she'd always had in place, simply waiting. Sixteen thousand people died over the course of a couple of hours, until Kai told Levana that he couldn't give her back Cinder (but they would keep looking with everything they had) but that he would agree to marry her if she agreed to a peace treaty, and to hand over the cure to letumosis.

Levana accepted the deal, and Kai prepared for the wedding like a man going to his grave (an apt analogy, although he still tried to hold out some hope that something would change, still tried to subtly search for Princess Selene). There didn't seem to be too much hope, though, and the day marched ever closer. The only real bright spot was that Cinder had still not been caught, because Kai harbored hopes of her getting to live a good life.

□ Personality:
Kai's greatest strength is also his greatest weakness: his openness, the genuineness of his reactions to the situation. It's a strength because it's tied in with his kindness, with the way that he wants what's best for everyone he has an influence on. It's a weakness because it makes him more vulnerable to manipulation, and because it's the weakness of every kind-hearted person who has to go up against someone who doesn't care how many corpses they leave in their wake, so long as they get what they want. Every person Kai cares about (and he cares about everyone on Earth, after some fashion or another) is another bargaining chip for Levana to use on him.

When his father dies, Kai isn't given a real chance to mourn him, instead needing to immediately deal with his coronation and the fact that he now bears the responsibility for guiding the future of the Eastern Commonwealth. Kai wants to continue to put off Levana the way his father had managed, to avoid war and to avoid having to marry her, but Levana steps up her aggression and her offers (including a cure for the same disease that killed Kai's father among them) to try to pressure him to give in. Kai knows that a marriage to Levana would make his own life miserable, but it's for the sake of his people that he has the most concern. Will they be harmed more by a war between Luna and Earth, or by allowing Queen Levana to become Empress? It's that question that weighs on him, more so than his own personal fate. Kai is selfless, because he sees no other way to be.

This willingness to sacrifice himself for the sake of others is seen in two important incidents. One is to save a servant that he has no personal connection to, and the other is for Cinder. While Queen Levana is visiting Kai's palace, she forbids the presence of any mirrors near her, because her glamor doesn't work on mirrors. Kai complies with the request, except that when they are having a meal, one of the courses for Levana only is revealed to be a mirror on a silver platter, rather than any food. Levana is furious, and orders her thaumaturge to control the servant who delivered the mirror, to force her to cut out her own eye. Kai protests, which is ignored, and then he declares that the mirror is on the plate because of his orders, because he thought it would be a joke to cut the ice, and that if Levana insists on punishing someone, it should be him. Everyone in the room knows that Kai is lying, but Levana has no choice to accept it, and simply tells him to make sure that it doesn't happen again, releasing the servant. This shows Kai's ability to think on the spot, and that he doesn't care if he's thought of as weak if it gives him the strength to protect someone more vulnerable.

The second incident is when Kai does not rescue someone, because he believes that the rescue would cause more harm than good. Although he badly wants to intervene for the sake of Cinder at the ball, doing so would require marriage with Levana, and at that current moment (although Kai does often go back and forth on the subject) Kai does not believe that to be in the best interests of his subjects. So he's willing to sacrifice one person, the person he has intensely strong feelings for, for the sake of the rest of the people under his control. This shows his awareness of the balance of consequences, and the fact that Kai believes in doing what's best for the majority, even if breaks him.

And he does expect his marriage to Levana to do exactly that. She has the power to control his perceptions and even his body itself if she wishes, and she wants an heir from him, and she wants his death. For all that Kai tries to be optimistic, he can see no way out of that situation. He's a sacrificial lamb being sent to the altar, but better him than all the people Levana would take her rage out on, and he can see no way to defeat her militarily.

Despite his nobleness, his forced maturity, Kai is still a teenager. Worse than that: he's a teenager in love. However, Kai doesn't have the sort of support network that would allow him to whine about how he loves Cinder, since he doesn't have a single friend his age (unless Cinder herself is counted, and he can't talk to her while she's on the run from his own forces and his fiancée), or even a friend at all. The closest he has are Konn Torin, his advisor, who was his father's advisor before, and who mostly counsels Kai to be careful of what he says, who discourages him from letting his feelings out, and Priya, the woman taking care of the wedding details, who says he reminds her a little of her son.

There is some evidence of the fact that he still has some growing up to do, and it isn't his love of Cinder even after she finds out that she's a cyborg and a Lunar, or the fact that he might not have allowed those feelings to appear in the first place had he known from the beginning that she was a cyborg (because that's a bias that he thoroughly examines and chooses to discard, once he has more of the facts). The main evidence comes in the form of his sarcasm, something which becomes worse when he's stressed, regardless of the fact that those are the situations where his sarcasm is the least helpful. He offers it up on numerous occasions to his advisor, who is less than appreciative, to Cinder, and to Queen Levana herself.

Being Emperor isn't a role that Kai sometimes has to remind himself take up. While he might not always act appropriately, he's incapable of letting go of his duty. He handles stress and overwork poorly, as might be expected with as much on the line as there is. Over the course of his engagement and consideration of engagement to Queen Levana, Kai goes numerous nights without sleeping, ends up losing several pounds in a matter of weeks, and makes no time for his own relaxation, other than the occasional fantasy that Cinder will make it out of all of this unscathed.

□ Age: 18 (and a half)
□ Gender: Male
□ Appearance:
Kai has copper-brown eyes and black hair that hangs below his ears and lips in the back and is long enough to fall into his eyes in the front. His hair is often mussed, due to his habit of running his hands through it when he's stressed. He's tall, on the order of 6'1", with a lean figure. Attractive, easily the most eligible bachelor in the Commonwealth (at least before his engagement to Queen Levana). Generally he wears fine, fancy clothing, but that has much more to do with his position as Prince and then Emperor of the Eastern Commonwealth than personal preference. He wears a gray hooded sweatshirt to go to the market, because he's in disguise. When he's taken, he's wearing a white silk shirt with a red sash that hangs from one shoulder, his wedding outfit. He easily shows his emotion on his face and in his eyes, although he does have a particular "leader" tone of voice when he's suppressing those and focused on being in charge.

□ Abilities/Powers: None
□ Personal Items:
- Cinder's old foot (a cyborg/steel piece, sized for an 11-year-old)
- a hand mirror, of Lunar origin
- id chip in his left wrist
- id chip embedded in the skin behind his right ear
- clothing he came with (his wedding outfit)
- a gray hoodie
- netscreen (functionally useless without access to the net, although it will work as a laptop/tablet to take notes with once he's the necessary level for that)

□ First Person Sample:
[Sixteen thousand people had died to prove a point the last time that Levana hadn't gotten what she wanted. Kai is loath to deny her further, knows what it will do to his people, but trapped in this place he has little enough choice.

He was stressed before he came here, but it's gotten worse. His hair sticks up in messy peaks where his hand running through it has combined with the product running through it. Still, the rueful half smile he offers to the mirror, as well as the fact that he's using video rather than audio or text, are carefully considered, taking advantage of his PR experience, the things he hasn't been able to help having drilled into him.]


If there's a way, any way at all, for people to go back to where they came from, I need to know. If it's something that I need to work towards, just tell me what I need to be doing.

It's very important.

[And having already decided to play the sacrificial lamb, he can't imagine balking at much else.]

And if there's anyone else here from the Eastern Commonwealth, please, let me know.

[His most emperor-like smile, even if it's more deadly earnest than it is anything else.]

I'll help take care of you here.

http://theloonybin.dreamwidth.org/18777.html?thread=11228249#cmt11228249

□ Third Person Sample:
http://theloonybin.dreamwidth.org/17986.html?thread=10860354#cmt10860354
http://theloonybin.dreamwidth.org/18777.html?thread=11209817#cmt11209817

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Kai

April 2015

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