Xiaodan was born a mere whisper in the minds of her family. Not quite a disappointment, they already had their first born son, after all, but she was not exactly hoped for either. Not the way another son might have been. From her earliest years, Xiaodan had a gentle personality. As was expected of her, she spoke softly, and kept her eyes down.
A girl child, raised to know that her only place in the world was to marry a man and bear him children - sons. She learned quiet arts, feminine arts. Xiaodan can paint, a little, and she is a reasonably skilled cook, as well as a dancer. Xiaodan never gained any real skill with an instrument. She gained some verbal mastery at asserting her own opinions into a conversation without being overt - but mostly she remained soft spoken and compliant.
Her brother afforded her some preference and skills that she might not have had otherwise. At his insistence she learned to read when she was already nearly an adult - but she cannot fathom numbers even now, beyond the simplest required for making purchases in the market. It has gotten her short changed more than once, something Xiaodan rarely noticed until either her brother, or later her husband, commented on their being less coin than there should have been.
The only thing special about her was the gift of empathy from her maternal line, that maternal line had at some point crossed with a merchant line from Dalmasca that also carried the trait, and created within them a branch that bore the gift, as one might have called it. The gift had passed down with relative frequency, so her mother was not surprised to realize she had it. As a young child, she was told she must never share her skill with anyone, that she must always guard it close to her heart because of Jihonese sentiments about magic. But, her mother did teach her to control it.
Still, she was a girl-child, and her place in the world was never uncertain. In the end, she would be offered in marriage to a family in return for their backing Haku for Ujal. It was, as most are, a marriage of convenience, and not love. Xiaodan had never had any illusions of marrying for love, but she would have liked to. Make no mistake, her husband was not a bad person, it was simply that she had gotten used to Haku's leniency with her.
She learned, and quickly, that her new husband did not have Haku's interest in hearing what she thought. If he wanted to hear anything at all in such conversations, it was his own opinion parroted back at him in her voice. Xiaodan was not a stupid girl, and she learned quickly to do just that.
Xiaodan got pregnant, as these things were expected to happen, and a year and a half after the wedding, she gave birth to a still-born child. A girl-child who seemed at first glance to be perfectly formed - it was not true, the midwife told her, gently, so gently. Something had gone wrong internally, the child had not been compatible with life. It was not her fault, the midwife said.
Xiaodan didn't really believe her, and Xiaodan's husband certainly did not. He wanted to try again immediately, but she resisted. This angered him, but he allowed it, for a time. In time Xiaodan discovered she had real magic of her own. She practiced it in secret for several months, and the midwife and healer helped her. Unfortunately one day her husband caught her practicing magic, having come home from business tasks far earlier than she anticipated.
The fight they had was terrible - Xiaodan had always been somewhat sheltered. And while her husband had not loved her, Haku would have never tolerated a man who hurt her, either. He did, that night. And Xiaodan? Something broke, inside, and the magic rushed out of her, uncontrolled and panicked.
She over strained herself and crumbled, unconscious. When she awoke she found her husband was dead - by her magic.
Logic should have sent her home. Logic and a want for familiarity almost did send her home. But then she realized that no where in Jihon would be safe for her. Her magic was too dangerous, she had killed a man already. Even Haku would be forced to put her to death for such an act.
The free cities, maybe. It was said there were mages in the Free Cities. And they were far enough from home that perhaps Haku would never have to face what she had done. But to get to the Free Cities, the woman must travel through Dalmasca.
And it seems fate has other plans for her. While traveling through Nydema she found the remains of an attack, and a woman who was dying. Xiaodan had no illusions about that fact, the woman was dying, but she did not feel she could just leave her there. So, despite her misgivings about using magic after what happened, she's doing the best she can with what she has learned - both of magical healing and not.
Perhaps she can save a life, this time, instead of destroying one.