Last time on Wild Born, Abeke bonded with a leopard and summoned rain. Why is this Very Important? And why is a man from foreign lands interested in her? Find out after the cut.
Meilin sat on a cushion before her looking glass, meticulously applying facial paint. She didn’t mind having her handmaidens prepare her for festivals or banquets. But today was important. Today she wanted to look just right. And when you wanted something done right, you did it yourself.
Meet Meilin, a young girl from Jano Rion, capitol of the mostly-walled nation / continent of
not!China Zhong. She’s the only daughter of General Teng, one of Zhong’s top five commanders, so in addition to learning all the traditional feminine arts, she was secretly trained in armed and unarmed combat.
Today is an important day for Meilin: it’s the quarterly Bonding Ceremony. Meilin gets to participate because her 11th birthday occurred six weeks ago. She’s confident that she’ll bond with a spirit animal, since almost all of her ancestors summoned one, too. And hopefully her spirit animal will enhance her fighting skills.
General Chin, one of Teng’s aides, interrupts Meilin’s beauty routine with Bad News: foreign invaders allied with Zhongese rebels have seized Shar Liwao, a port city outside the Wall of Zhong. Meilin wants to postpone the ceremony, but Chin insists that the show must go on so the citizens believe that everything’s normal.
So Meilin goes out for her Bonding Ceremony, which is officiated by Sheyu, leader of the local Greencloaks. Also present is a female Greencloak from foreign lands. As with every other bonding / nameday ceremony, Meilin tastes the Nectar of Ninani, and then Significant Shit goes down: the sky dims, lightning flashes, and then a giant panda suddenly appears.
And the first thing Meilin thinks is, “Oh, crap. How’s a panda supposed to help with my fighting skills?”
Anyway, as proof that something Very Important occurred, the foreign Greencloak approaches Meilin. She introduces herself as Lenori, and reveals that Meilin fulfilled a Generic Fantasy Prophecy by summoning Jhi, one of the Fallen Beasts–
THIS VERY IMPORTANT INFODUMP HAS BEEN INTERRUPTED BY FOREIGN INVADERS AND THEIR SPIRIT ANIMALS!
Meilin, Lenori, Teng, Sheyu, and Chin all escape into a hidden tunnel and make their way to an observation tower. There, they finally survey the damage. And, boy, things don’t look good for Jano Rion. Buildings are on fire, and the city defenders are outnumbered by the invaders. Teng thinks that the invaders must have infiltrated Zhong over the years, since there have been no breach reports from the Wall.
AND NOW BACK TO OUR VERY IMPORTANT INFODUMP.
Since Meilin summoned one of the Fallen Beasts, Lenori suggests escorting her to some higher-ranking Greencloaks in order to reunite the other Fallen Beasts and fight in the upcoming global war. Meilin wants to stay with her father and defend Jano Rion, but Teng insists that she escape with the Greencloaks and work with them … as long as she agrees with their plans.
So Meilin, Lenori, and Sheyu escape from the observation tower right when the invaders breach it….
Stuff I Forgot to Mention Above
General Teng doesn’t have a spirit animal. He managed to reach a prominent military position through hard work.
There’s brief mentions of riots and Zhongese rebels. What are they rioting over? And why? This seems really important, and yet it’s never explained.
Meilin doesn’t like how all the other boys her age treat her like a potential trophy girlfriend.
General Teng doesn’t really like the Greencloaks because a) they have foreign affiliations, and b) they’re the only group that possesses the Nectar of Ninani. The latter explains why every Nectar / bonding / nameday ceremony has Greencloaks present.
The Zhongese military doesn’t allow women into its ranks. The Greencloaks, on the other hand, admit all Marked humans regardless of gender.
Sheyu’s spirit animal is a clouded leopard.
Lenori hails from Amaya.
Meilin actually sees people die during the sack of Jano Rion. One of the first casualties: her head handmaiden, who gets ARROW’D.
Apparently there are no elevators in Amaya, because Lenori is briefly puzzled when she sees one.
Teng compares the invading force’s strength to that of the Devourer, a legendary conqueror. We’ll learn more about the Devourer later.
Real Life Comparisons!
Zhong is heavily influenced by China. This is made painfully obvious by the
not!Great Wall of China Wall of Zhong.
It’s kind of hard to pin a direct comparison to Amaya. I think it’s supposed to be the Americas during the early 1800s. More details on this when I get to the next chapter.
The sky was clear, but the sun dimmed. There was a brilliant flash and she was joined onstage by a black-and-white panda. It was large for the species, with disturbing silver eyes, just like Jhi on the Great Seal of Zhong.
Next time: An Ambiguously Brown not!American Male Protagonist gets arrested. Significant Shit goes down. A Greencloak and a man from foreign lands take notice.