Huifen remembered the story of her parents; Lihua Wu and Yukhei Wong. How could she not when she was always reminded of the mistake that led them to their demise on every birthday she had until she reached 17? Just like any other family member in their household, everyone knew about their tragic love story. What happened to them was meant to serve everyone in the household the painful reality of how one could not simply just love another without thinking of the consequences that would follow. It did well to remind her when she was the product of their love; something her mother never let her forget.
Lihua Wu was the eldest child in her family of 5. She had two younger sisters and despite the fact that they were never separated from each other at almost all times, neither held any resemblance in personalities whatsoever. They were known by many as the Wu sisters. The Wus were descended from a long line of a diviner family; Necromancers, to be exact. Their family was respected by various communities in Tai Wei village for what is now known to the modern day as Sha Tin district, Hong Kong, ranging from diviners, lycanthropes, dhampirs, and other supernaturals alike. As such, the sisters maintained a good relationship between the communities there, making it their mission to preserve whatever peace they were able to receive. Regardless of the ongoing rivalries going on with supernaturals, the communities in Sha Tin district did not suffer the same predicament. It wasn’t all sunshine daisies and rainbows but they were able to reach a consensus together under a small council formed by the representatives from each species residing within the city.
At the tender age of 18, the Wu sisters became known infamously for their ‘persuasion skills’. They reached the peak of their peace when a pack of kitsunes found their place in the same village. The younger two; Xianwei and Huayin, did not agree on allowing the group to stay seeing as their presence caused an arise within the communities who were not used to newcomers that would not abide by their rules or join them, especially the therianthropes. After a night of discussion, they decided to send their eldest sister, Lihua, to be their messenger. However, Lihua, who was equipped with diplomacy, sought to propose a deal that will give both parties what they wanted. What she didn’t expect was to meet someone who would make her question everything she’s ever done in the name of her family. Yukhei taught her the same thing he taught his pack, the principles they held and the values they cherished. Their friendship soon turned into an unexpected relationship, without the knowledge of her sisters and others.
Imagine her wrath and devastation upon seeing the dead body of Yukhei tied around the tree they usually came to spend their time together. His skin shriveled and it didn’t take Lihua long to figure out the magic she picked up from his body had a signature; one she knows all too well. When she got home in the disheveled state she was in, her sisters admitted it was their doing. They hexed him and the curse set in not long after, which later led Yukhei to his untimely death. Xianwei and Huayin were prepared to defend themselves against their sister, knowing that she would want to seek vengeance for the death of her lover. But Lihua didn’t do so, she only expressed her disappointment and heartache before departing their home, sailing her journey to Athens, Greece, where she spent the rest of her life there following the promise both lovers made to each other. Their new home was supposed to be there. Lihua found out she was a few months pregnant with a child upon settling in a small place there. She knew raising a child as a single mother would be a challenge but she was willing to try for the sake of Huifen.
On September 22nd, 1458, Huifen Wu was born under a full moon. Lihua cried the entire night because of the reminder she had when she laid her eyes on Huifen and the moon. Lihua’s happiness did not end there even with the bundle of joy gurgling cutely in her arms, the healer who was responsible for her delivery was there to support her throughout the entire time. Darius Agnes made her believe that there was another chance at love, he treated and cared for Huifen as if she was his own. Darius was a dhampir, who understood exactly what it means to be supernatural and had no expectations for both Lihua and Huifen. Lihua also knew Huifen would either end up being a diviner like her or a kitsune like her father. A few years later when Huifen was older, Darius asked her permission to marry her mother and it felt so blissful, Huifen thought she was blessed with the best family she could ever ask for.
Huifen grew up learning every principle that Yukhei once taught Lihua. Darius also taught her self-defense such as Ancient Greek martial arts like Pankration, and the likes. He made it his utmost importance to make sure Huifen grows up into a fine lady equipped with the wit her mother possessed and his self-preservation skills. And much to their joy, Huifen did grow up to bring them pride. She was able to walk, talk, and read, faster than any of her peers. Her memory span was extraordinary, the little girl was able to capture and preserve anything she puts her mind to remember for as long as she wishes. Unfortunately, she was home-schooled after finishing school, under the supervision of her mother, fearing that she would be more influenced by her environment if she turns out inheriting her father’s gene as a kitsune. Her mother had her step-father, Darius, train her in the arts of anger management as well as control her emotional capacity to prepare her for the future that will come.
As her birthday present for her 9th nameday, Huifen was given a bamboo sword with her name carved in the rubber wrapping it securely, by her step-father. It was in the same year where she was enrolled in a fencing class alongside her father who was also a frequent visitor. It was another attempt to curb her aggressiveness that only seemed to grow as she got older in age. It was the same aggressiveness that Lihua noticed she had when she was growing in Sha Tin as a child. Fearing that her child would turn out worse if Huifen had the kitsune gene with the same temper she possessed, once upon a time, Lihua made sure to keep an eye out on her childish antics. Huifen, of course, noticed the way she was always supervised by her mother and step-father everywhere she goes and in everything she does. At some point, she grew tired and weary of it.
Once Huifen reached her 15th birthday, she was so much more advanced compared to her friends. The dark-haired female was fluent in Cantonese, Mandarin, Greek, and English, she was trained in a few martial arts and had a lovely connection to her sword. It was the first time she spoke out against her parents. Huifen expressed her dissatisfaction over the watchful eyes laid on her ever since she could walk properly. Her mother scolded her harshly telling her to go to her room after saying she was just like her stubborn father and it was the first time in 10 years that she heard her father’s name. Every time Huifen asked to know about her biological father, Lihua would dismiss her and say nothing. This made her sneak out of her room and sat by the waterfalls, staring at the full moon shining above her. It was the only connection she had to her biological father, aside from the necklace she wore around her neck, a token from Yukhei’s pack.
Darius emerged from the woods, holding both his hands up in defense when she got into her position, claiming he was there to give her something; her birthday present. He gave her the present he prepared and watched as her eyes lit up in fascination when she caught a glimpse of the sword. “You’ve practiced for 6 years now, you deserve a real sword.” Perhaps, her 15th birthday wasn’t so bad, after all. Huifen was also introduced to a local kitsune pack that lived on the west side of the city, courtesy of her step-father. He made her promise to never let it be known to her mother that she was joining a pack seeing as Lihua would be furious to know that her daughter had any affiliation before the day she was revealed to be either a diviner or a kitsune.
The day Lihua dreaded finally came, and she awaited Huifen patiently. She had a feeling that Huifen would follow her father and she wasn’t wrong. What got her gaping was the fact that the kitsune alpha came to her home, saying she was there for Huifen. A teary cry escaped Huifen as she could feel every bone in her body breaking, clearly, she didn’t know it would be that excruciating. Her eyes glowed a blue color, indicating her beta status in her pack which had Lihua surprised. Darius told Lihua that he was the one who introduced her to the pack, knowing she would need all the support she could get upon transforming. When she fluttered her eyes open, she could see the alpha, Selene, greeting her in her own coat of fur covering herself. Staring in the mirror, she could see that her body was no longer a human, but a red fox.
Upon reverting back to her human form the next day, Selene offered her some clothes and asked for her to come with her. Huifen followed her as they took a walk, everything was explained to her, including the necklace she wore around her neck. Selene told her it was the mark of her father’s pack, hailing all the way from Siberia. It was all that she needed to know to start her journey. With both her parents’ blessing, Huifen set out to search for her father’s pack. Her travels went from the East to the West until she heard about Rome. It was said that her father stayed there the longest before moving to Sha Tin with the others.
But her journeys were futile, there was nothing about her father. It was then when she realized she abandoned her home trying to search about her paternal heritage when she had a perfectly healthy mother who awaits her return and a kind stepfather who treated her like she was his own flesh and blood. Why was she out there searching for someone who was already dead? Yukhei was no longer in this world, there was no reason for her to waste her time and resources on something that would not give her the answers she sought. And so, the mystery surrounding her father's family was left in the dark as the kitsune returned home, back to her mother's loving embrace.
For a city that lived peacefully with their communities sharing their love, it didn't last long. Nothing was meant to last forever but Huifen never knew it would be this short. Apparently, someone had discovered the rumors of supernaturals living amidst the humans in the city. The greedy and ambitious ones were practically scouring for them, wanting to use them for their own selfish desires. Ever since then, everyone tried to be vigilant whenever they gather. At some point, they even issued a curfew, leaving most of the therians to suffer in their homes silently whenever it was a full moon. Huifen was one of them, Darius had to cast a rune to silence her cries for the first few turns. A moment of silence dragged until everyone was afraid of going out. A few moons later, Selene was captured and retaliated bravely. But much to everyone's worries, she was torched after she clawed one of the nobles. Everyone was lamenting their futures and Huifen became more careful not to out herself as a supernatural. Being a supernatural then meant eternal slavery or death. Either way, it will end up with their heads on a pike or burned.
You either hide or you’re dead.
She remembered telling herself that. It was survival of the fittest and Huifen intends to be in that category. When her death sentence came, it wasn’t what they expected, especially Lihua, but it wasn’t at all surprising either. There was bound to be someone who would try to save their own life by tattling on another, leaving one victorious and the other a victim. In her case, she became the victim. Huifen was coddling her baby sister once she came back home after she spent the last two days outside to practice alone. Both of her parents were away for the day, asking her to take care of her sister while they’re gone. She’s also been keeping her life under a rather low-profiled one after everyone sought out to hunt them down. Unfortunately, while she was playing with her baby sister who was only 4 years old, 4 men barged into their home and began breaking every single stuff in sight. Huifen ushered little Agatha to hide while she stood her ground, and all she seemed to remember was what they called her before dragging her out by force, “Monster!” How could someone ever forget being called that?
They didn’t even care if her knees were scrapping the hard ground when they dragged her around like a rag doll. All the kitsune could do was keep her head low while she tried to protest against their harsh hold, what did she do wrong? Why was she apprehended like this by strangers? It was raining heavily, it was as if the sky was angry at the people there, yet that didn’t stop people from peeking their heads out from their homes to see what was going on. It didn’t stop them from calling everyone out to assemble at the square. The ground was wet from the tears of the world, and so was her, all drenched from head to toe and slumped against the dirty surface. There was nothing to prove her status as a supernatural, so in order for them to show the others her true identity, they had waited until it was a full moon.
With everyone's eyes on her, both her hands were shackled and her head was hung low. There was no way she could escape this, not when a full moon is ahead of her and there was nowhere else for her to escape. Once the moon came in view, she was left to close her eyes and leave her fate to whatever the world would have it. They saw her in her fox form and she knew it was then, that her fate was sealed; she's dead. The next morning when she woke up blanketed by nothing but the pitiful stares from her community, a pair of clothes were thrown at her and her neighbor was allowed to dress her up for the finale. The nobles had decided to turn her execution into a sacrifice, to appease the gods. With her hands remained shackled, they dragged her to the pyre and tied her up against it. Suddenly the image of being burned alive that she once saw replayed itself; she couldn't save Selene and now nobody could save her. No matter how afraid she was, Huifen refused to cry. This land wasn't deserving of her tears. Her captors weren't deserving of her tears.
She peeked once again before her imminent death and saw the people gathered around. She felt like an animal that was about to be sacrificed and seeing her mother and father trashing the guards caused her to look away and hold in her tears. It was so painful she couldn't let her mother witness her being burned to death; what kind of a mother would watch as her innocent daughter was burned to death when her only crime was being born as a supernatural? Lihua begged for mercy and gained one particular noble's attention; Aramis. Aramis went forward and decided to spare her mother the pain of seeing a child being burned. The dagger he held in his hand held that malevolent glint, Huifen couldn't believe for a second that she would be spared. Not when being a supernatural was basically a crime. The dagger which everyone thought would cut her bonds and set her loose ended up making a clean cut to her throat.
You can never really trust someone.
What Happened After
For a while, it was dark and it was cold. It didn't make sense because it wasn't winter, at least to her. Sometimes, she would get up on her feet and walk, or at least she attempted to. But it was so dark and the path, wherever it was leading her to, it felt endless. Where was she going? Why is it so dark? So she laid there, on the ground and cried to herself, she didn't want to die, she was supposed to live a good life with her family. She was supposed to be Agatha's idol. The kitsune yelled to what seemed to be a void, how wronged she felt and how her life was stolen far too soon. "I died in an unjustified manner and now I couldn't even find peace in death?"
That was when she was greeted with a blinding light, only, it wasn't just any light, it was… a person. She could identify it was a person judging from the silhouette. A hand was held out towards her and she accepted it gladly. He never introduced himself and she never asked for a name, she only asked for an explanation. He delivered. Plain and simple, it was enough to tell her that she was no longer alive and was stuck in this place because she couldn't accept her death. Huifen remembered making him laugh when she asked if she was a ghost because of it. It was the day she was welcomed into another realm; a different world in which she may not have to be in such pain anymore. A place that accepted her. Ever since then, whilst it hasn't been easy for her to accept her death, she tried to forget about it and think about the good she could do with this second chance.
Aurazin, that's what they called themselves. She was briefed about everything; from what they do to what they stood for. It appealed to her easily enough, and when they were given the option to change their names into something they'll carry on into this life, Huifen took it. Astraea, after the Goddess of Justice and the star maiden of the night. It was her favorite goddess when she was a child. However ironic it seemed for her to adopt a name after a greek goddess when she was sacrificed to appease the same gods, to Astraea, it gave her the will to fuel her motivation. Astraea met a lady and was told to begin her training, starting as an Empath. Arcadia was easily famous amongst the others, she was one of the eldest Aurazin there and under her guidance, it was no surprise she improved. It wasn't hard to befriend other people in the veil either, they knew where they came from and nobody questioned it.
Astraea followed everything Arcadia taught them, in hopes that someday when she was ready and good enough, she'll be able to go to Earth and help the people in need. As more people began to join them, she felt more reassured than ever, she even opted to train under a Shepherd trainer so she could learn about the void and how to save the people in it. Someone saved her when she was there, the least she could do was return the good he had shown her by helping the people in the same situation. Since an Aurazin could switch between the two works, it was possible for them to learn a little bit of both. But when she was asked which path she would take, Astraea chose to be an Empath mainly. Though there were times when she would return to work as a Shepherd, it was made clear to her that she preferred helping the people on Earth.
Astraea would often switch shifting in between a red fox, ginger cat or her human form unless another form was needed to aid her work. She also leaned towards comforting children and young adults by either acting like their imaginary friends or the likes. Most of the people she comforted often showed signs of loneliness, which attracted the Aurazin because she was weak for it. Around the time the veil was locked, Astraea was just about to return after her another successful mission. She was rendered speechless and confusion ran around their ranks as she searched for Lucien, who also had the same question. What happened?
It was the first time in forever since Astraea felt the need to eat and sleep, she had been working as a Shepherd for the last 80 years so it was also the first time in awhile since she's been back on Earth. Everything looked so different and they were left to adapt to the current timeline as they make their temporary residence in Evermore. At least, she would like to believe it'll be temporary. They need to return to the veil soon, but in order for them to do so, they have to figure out what happened and why. Could this be another chance for Astraea to return to being an Empath or would it only trigger the dreadful memories she secretly kept away?