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Messages - Zhihao Zhu

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House Essair / Somebody help me tame this animal I have become
« on: Jun 29, 2018, 07:17 PM »
"I didn't even think about locking myself up in here." Which was stupid because it was about the simplest thing he could have done. A lot simpler than slipping away into the garden and possibly hurting somebody. You live and you learn, he guessed. He was just lucky he was learning his lessons the easy way. Tugging on his shirt collar, Zhihao nodded. 

"Yeah." He paused, then looked up. "Why? Is it... not supposed to?" 

Naturally, he just assumed that it was part of the deal. Now he wasn't so sure. He tried to remember whether Gannicus showed any pain when he shifted but he didn't really remember what happened after he himself shifted. Zhihao still had trouble holding onto the human side of himself when he was in animal form. 

House Essair / Listen to the Earth
« on: Jun 27, 2018, 08:13 PM »
"Thanks. I'll do that."

He looked back down at the remaining thorns. What an idiot. He felt even more embarrassed that he'd been caught doing it, too. He could still feel the heat from his ears. Not knowing quite what else to say to Xiaodan, he bowed to be polite and said his goodbyes again, before scurrying off.

He was really going to have to step up his game here. No more traveling through bushes and making a fool of himself, he vowed. He was going to have to really work, get himself under control, and then he'd finally be able to go back home. 

House Essair / Somebody help me tame this animal I have become
« on: Jun 26, 2018, 04:23 PM »
For two seconds, he waited for the punch line but it sounded like that was it: it was the truth. Zhihao had just panicked and got himself trapped and then there was sleep. Huh. That was much less dramatic than he expected. It was certainly less exciting than the other times he'd shifted. Of course, then he didn't have a sort of mentor in that area. Was that what one would consider him? A mentor? 

"Mostly fine. Just sore and achey." To emphasize that, he stretched his arms above his head and moved them from side to side. Ouch. It felt a bit like when he got sick with that nasty flu when he was younger, except it was just the body aches and a headache and not the other... worse parts about the flu. 

"I'm sorry about taking up your time." He looked from one man to the other. "I was just going to hide in the garden." 

House Essair / Listen to the Earth
« on: Jun 22, 2018, 09:57 PM »
"That's probably for the best." 

Being lectured by a woman was beneath him; his father would have looked right through Xiaodan like she was made of dust motes if she had said any of this to him. Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately), Zhihao had learned more from his loving wet-nurse than his father. Idly, he picked at some of the thorns that had stuck into his skin. There were some he probably couldn't reach but he'd figure that out later. 

There was a silence in which neither he nor Xiaodan said something and she just seemed to be looking at her feet. Clearing his throat, Zhihao nodded slightly toward her. 

"Anyway, I should... move on. I was just checking something out here real quick." Yes, like scouting the area for a place to safely shift without doing anything harmful to anybody in the process. "It was nice meeting you." 

Temples / Just burn those new leaves over
« on: Jun 22, 2018, 09:02 PM »

He shrugged and slid his hands into his pockets, gaze sliding aside. 

"I don't want anything to do. I'm not a slave. As you pointed out, I'm just a guest."

One last time, he looked in the direction of where he could have sworn the wannabe assassin had gone. With the danger no longer imminent, he didn't feel comfortable either in this place or with this person. 

"I'll find something to do on my own." With a slight nod of the head, he turned away. "Thanks for the save. I guess I'll see you around."

He quickly took his leave, mind racing elsewhere as he left the temple behind. It seemed even the temples here weren't safe.  

House Essair / Somebody help me tame this animal I have become
« on: Jun 20, 2018, 12:43 PM »
Foxes were supposed to be quite clever and known to be escape artists, slinking and shrinking through impossibly small areas. However, even the cleverest fox wasn't about to break through solid ice at every escape route. There had been panic at some point but Zhihao seemed to be experiencing that regardless of what form he was in while staying in Dalmasca. 

"Gannicus...?" Zhihao blinked. Whoa. It... it really was him? No wonder he knew what Zhihao was upon seeing him. Or smelling him? Sensing him? Zhihao was still so utterly new to this whole thing that he couldn't say how it happened. But he certainly remembered his nerves being jangled by his knowing.

"Uh... um."

Zhihao hadn't realized he was naked until the lion rolled off his body. He sort of forgot about that whole... awkward thing. Quickly, he raised his knees up and his hands down, covering the most vulnerable bits. Hey, he might have bathed before servants in Jihon but that wasn't the same as being naked in front of a couple of half-strangers from another country! 

"OH?" he asked, an octave too loudly. He scrambled for clothes, grabbing the closest things he could find (probably what he'd been wearing before he tried to make his great escape) and he pulled them on while still speaking: "What did I do?" 

Hopefully nothing embarrassing.

House Essair / Listen to the Earth
« on: Jun 20, 2018, 12:36 PM »
"Must one?" he mused. Did one have to take that risk? Zhihao didn't want to tell Xiaodan that somebody had already tried to kill him and that he'd been warned that trusting the wrong people would result in his death. Although some might have argued against the case, Zhihao didn't have a death wish. If he did, he wouldn't even be here, he'd say. Sighing, he rubbed the back of his head.

"You sound like one of my father's advisors," he said with a half smile. "But I don't think it's that easy. Trusting people isn't that easy."

After all, he could say he trusted somebody until he was blue in the face but that didn't mean he actually felt that way. He had sort of latched onto a handful of people amongst those in House Essair but would he call them friends at this stage? Hard to say. Maybe in the right company or to keep things uncomplicated but truthfully... It was hard to say he truly trusted many people. 

Temples / Just burn those new leaves over
« on: Jun 19, 2018, 04:22 PM »
BUT IT HAS BOOBS? Zhihao almost laughed but then he felt it was too inappropriate. Also, he couldn't tell if Haku was joking or not. It didn't seem like it. Man, he had an awfully serious face, though. For a moment Zhihao scrutinized him and then figured it hadn't been meant as a joke and he kept his amusement to himself. Although... he maybe couldn't blame Haku. A woman? In a place of power? Zhihao recalled his mother, his wet-nurse, his sisters. None of them could pull off what Kass was doing. Zhihao had to be groomed for the position and he still wasn't ready and yet there was a woman, Head of House. 

What's the world coming to? his father would say with a shake of the head, a stroke of the beard, a thoughtful expression. But his eyes... His father's eyes would have been shrewd, sharp, and in his mind... Zhihao could only imagine what went through that man's head. 

"The infirmary! They trust you there?" It was a curious question and not a sarcastic one. Truly, they must trust Haku to place him where their most vulnerable were. "I haven't been given a job yet." A wry smile. "I'm not sure they know what to do with me." 

House Essair / Somebody help me tame this animal I have become
« on: Jun 18, 2018, 01:49 PM »
Ears up, all alert, and he didn't even suspect the tongue that suddenly arrived. It was weirdly familiar to the body of the fox. It reminded the fox-self of a motherly action, of comfort and community. Immediately, it seemed to do its job and calm him down. He was no longer thinking of ways to escape. His ears slowly relaxed. His body followed suit. All right, this wasn't so bad. It was so much better than running around in a frightened, half-crazed state and then waking up with the intense fear that he'd hurt somebody. Not that the fox was too worried about that. The fox was more worried about what to hunt or where to sleep in this strange place.

Not really a big deal, as it turned out. The motherly licking motion calmed him down enough to eventually close his eyes. But he didn't need that much sleep and after some time, he woke again. There was no escaping big lions. He learned this fairly quickly.

By the time Zhihao came back to himself, he had little recall of what happened. The last thing he remembered was a lion coming for him. The memory came back in a rush and he tried to sit up, gasping for air. Only he couldn't properly sit up because something heavy was keeping him in place. 

Then he realized that the lion he vaguely remembered--he was trying to leave because he was changing, he remembered that much--was there. Like. Right there. Like. On top of him. Not enough to crush him but enough to keep him from going anywhere. For a moment, he tried to wriggle his way out but when he went to put a hand on the lion, he stopped himself. Um. It was. Like a lion. It was a real lion and it could eat his head off if it wanted. 

Looking around for a distraction or way to get away, he saw that he wasn't alone with the lion. Blinking, he stared, not even sure if what he was seeing was real. Maybe all of this was a dream. 


House Essair / Listen to the Earth
« on: Jun 17, 2018, 04:46 PM »
Hm... Being around her somehow made him feel less... frenetic. He couldn't say why. All he could say was that she had a calming presence. He thought it was because she was familiar looking and he recognized the lilt of her accent. She came from his homeland and that put him at ease. Yes, that was it. Whatever it was, being with her made him feel more at ease than he had since arriving. Gently, he picked a stubborn thorn out of his arm and smiled slightly. 

He wasn't going to press her for details as to why she was here because he certainly had no intention of telling his story. Even if she did disarm him with her grace, her smile, and her humming, he wasn't ready to try and wrap his head around what happened to him. As homesick as he was and as badly as he wanted to return to a life of normalcy that he knew, he was also afraid. He didn't know if he'd ever be able to go back. Maybe he'd be stuck here forever. 

"He's a lot younger than I imagined a head of House," Zhihao admitted. "But he's been kind enough."

After the build up he'd experienced before meeting him, it turned out Kass was indeed a gracious host. He'd been nothing but kind so far. Zhihao just had to keep in mind not to try lying to him--he had no idea what would happen but he wasn't prepared to poke that beast. 

"I want friends," he said with a wry smile. "But I'm also not too keen on trusting anybody yet. If my father is to be believed, nobody in Dalmasca is to be trusted." 

[Everything's good!]

House Essair / Somebody help me tame this animal I have become
« on: Jun 17, 2018, 02:08 PM »
"What...?! Whoa, I--!"

Confusion and fear warred with one another. One second, he was looking at a familiar face and the next there was just the biggest lion he had ever seen in his life. It didn't really have time to register in his mind what that meant because the chaos in his mind made it so much easier for the shift to occur. Without any handle whatsoever on his emotions or any control on his abilities, it was only a matter of time.

It wasn't a pleasant time for him. And then he wasn't thinking like a person, he was just another wild fox cornered in a room with no way out. Of course he scampered from one escape route to another, finding them all blocked by ice. There was a person and a lion and while the person seemed like easier prey, they were both intimidating to a small fox that suddenly found itself trapped. So of course he snapped his jaws and--promptly got himself sat on. 

He was no match for a lion. Wriggling was useless. It was like a toddler trying to wriggle out of an adult's grasp. The fox could wiggle and roll and flail but he was not getting anywhere. 

Eventually, he stopped fighting and laid there, mouth open and panting. The fog of fear was finally burning out and he was able to access the situation as well as any wild fox might. There was a large animal atop him and a hume and ice. Still a strange situation to be in but so far, nobody was hurting anybody. Strange, strange. 

House Essair / Somebody help me tame this animal I have become
« on: Jun 16, 2018, 02:25 PM »
The full moon.

Zhihao had at least made the connection that with the full moon came the transformation but beyond that, he was helpless. Who did he go to for help? There was a single person that seemed to know what he was (all right, him and whomever else he'd told beyond Kass) but if he had any insight, he had yet to share it with Zhihao. Like how did he stop it? How did he control it? He had no idea if it was even possible; he just knew the days leading up to it were awful but nothing compared to the actual change.

For Zhihao, it was painful. He didn't know if it was the same for all... people like him. It could have been a beginner thing. Maybe it was the same as tensing up before being struck. All he knew was that it was bad and he didn't like it and he was afraid of what it meant for the people around him. 

So he made a plan. His plan was to go into the gardens before the moon showed itself. He would change somewhere in the garden, far, far away, in a corner he'd decided on the morning he'd gone wandering there. That was the plan, anyway. But the plan wasn't exactly how things went. 

For one thing, he was feeling pretty haggard as the day wore on. He didn't want to get out of bed that day and he was sluggish for most of it. Then as he was readying himself to go to the garden, he found that there were people on the other side of the door. He blinked. The last thing he remembered saying as a person was, "Gannicus?" 


House Essair / Listen to the Earth
« on: Jun 16, 2018, 02:11 PM »
"Ah, his sister."

Wasn't there some kind of... something about her back home? If there was, Zhihao had remained rather ignorant on the subject. Again, he found himself wishing he had paid more attention to politics. He was older than Kass, for example, and somehow he could never see himself leading House Zhu. Not right now, anyway. So what did that make him, then? Useless decoration? Little more than his own sisters? 

Zhihao looked down at the scratches on his arms again, thinking not of those injuries but of past injuries. The ones that led him here. The ones that sent him into a panic. If he couldn't learn to control it... He could only imagine what his family would think, what his father would think. He took in a soft breath, reminding himself to breathe. 

"It seems we're both here under unhappy circumstances," he said as he looked back up with a small smile. She wouldn't layer her words the way she did if she was here under celebratory reasons. Plus, she was here, with House Essair. It seemed like the refuge for outcasts. It made him wonder why she ended up here and he was dying of curiosity but he didn't ask for fear she'd turn the question on him. Even if she did, he was under no obligation to respond... but neither was she and he was in position to make enemies. 

"It's not so bad here. It's taking some getting used to but... it's not so bad." He paused. "Have you... made any friends yet?"

House Essair / Listen to the Earth
« on: Jun 15, 2018, 03:59 PM »
Another embarrassed laugh. He ran a hand through his hair.

"No, no. Don't be. It's my own fault." Well. Kinda. She startled him into stepping backward but she didn't put the bush there and he was the idiot who lost his balance and got himself all tangled up in it. Discreetly, he looked down at his arms to try and assess the damage without looking too obvious about it. It felt like a thousand little paper cuts. 


His gaze swung back up. Tachibana. "As in Haku?"

Well, this was surprising. Two Tachibanas? At the same house? With Zhihao? Now things were getting interesting. Also, a little suspicious. Was there a reason why House Essair was acting as a home for refugees? Lowering his hand, Zhihao watched Xiaodan carefully but if anything, she seemed to be as demure as any woman he'd ever met back home. Was this Haku's wife? Sister? He should have paid more attention to the other Houses back home. 

"It happened on accident... of a sort," Zhihao said, not sure how much to reveal. If he told her about the transformation thing--magic--she would probably hiss and start throwing salt at him. "I'm staying here until I figure things out. What about you?" 

House Essair / Listen to the Earth
« on: Jun 14, 2018, 02:21 PM »
"Uh, yep!"

He let out an embarrassed laugh as he attempted to disentangle himself from the sharp brambles of whatever plant he'd decided to fall butt-first into. It was an awkward angle to be found at--half sitting in a plant while trying to push himself safely out. Safety wasn't happening, though. His arms were already covered in scratches and his predicament was only made worse by his ungainly attempt to extricate himself from the thorns. 

Once he'd finally freed himself, he brushed himself off and stood as tall as possible to show he was above such disasters. 

"I misstepped," he informed her, as if this wasn't already obvious. Nobody went blending into plants unless they were some kind of creep. Or perhaps an assassin. He regarded her with suspicion but she didn't look like the type of person to have assassins on her tail. Actually...

Actually, though, she did look pretty familiar. Like he'd seen her somewhere before he left home. 

"Zhihao Zhu," he said to her, lowering his head briefly by way of introduction. 

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