Xiao Zhu Character Proposal
Elevator PitchXiao Zhu is intended as a personified battleground between the desire for peace and a reality where only conflict can bring that peace. He is ostensibly someone who adheres faithfully to a clear code of ethics and demonstrates an unwavering dedication to the pursuit of his peace. In reality, though, these seeming virtues can only pass muster so long as the desire they serve is not threatened beyond their help. This can already be seen with Zhu's joining of the Gotei 13: an organization whose purpose, though noble, is still military. Zhu can breach this cognitive dissonance by reminding himself that Shinigami act only in the defense of the Seireitei, but how long can he escape the reality of the violence it requires? What will it take to peel away the veneer and show him the truth of his heart? Deep down he knows that he is willing to compromise anything to live a life free of concern for the will of others, and is that selfishness not as evil as the willful violence he sneers at?
Even as Zhu tries to maintain his sense of self in the face of compromised values there lies another force. Waiting ever at the gates, provoking him to increasingly dark acts, the spirit of his Zanpakuto stands as foil to Zhu. Xue Long is proud ferocity, he is power at any cost, he is the blood of emperors longing for an empire. In Zhu's inner world, the blood dragon takes a simulacrum of human form and waits at the table as Zhu tends the garden of his mind. He sits before a grand game of Xiangqi, a Chinese board game like chess originating in the Warring States period, where Zhu must often spar with him on the board and in words. For now, this game and contest of mind is enough to satisfy Xue Long; however, this cannot last as Zhu's will cracks and chips. Every compromise is a fissure through which the dragon can seep and manifest its Machiavellian designs.
This struggle, both without and within, serves as the onus of storytelling for him. As of his entry into the story he is still some distance from the theoretical breaking point. The crisis that the black plague has brought to Soul Society, though, means there is no longer the space for him to keep getting away with slacking on his duties as a Shinigami. He would find ever greater weight placed on his shoulders, and in time his abilities would not be able to escape notice. Surely, the quiet moments of contemplation would slip from his grasp like grands of sand pouring past his fingers. The intrigue comes in how his psyche would shift as he faced this new status quo. After all, no one can hold their responsibilities at bay forever.
- A life of peace: Xiao Zhu yearns, more than anything else, to be left alone to do what he loves. He wants to live free of the yoke of society to toil in his garden and drink the tea that would come from his labors.
- A life of comfort: While he doesn't wish for much, a small parcel of land and a cottage is more than satisfactory for his purposes, Zhu cannot abide personal poverty. A life in poverty would leave him ever at the mercy of others for his meager bread, and such a fate would be no better than death or torment.
- A mastery of oneself: In many ways, Zhu seeks the path of enlightenment. His love of meditation and quiet contemplation lends itself well to the ideals of Buddhism even if circumstance has prevented him from achieving those ideals in full. He longs to master his mind and emotions, shaping both to match the image he maintains of the perfect self.
Plot Related Goals
- Bring an end to the current crisis: The unparalleled impact of so many deaths on his way of life drives Zhu to wish for an end to the chaos. He will still attempt to avoid duty where possible, but even he recognizes that he must play some part if the crisis is to be averted and some sense of normalcy restored. This goal is somewhat against his personal desires but represents a compromise he must make in the face of reality.
- Avoid notice: Even if it is prudent to contribute above what is normal, Zhu still wants to avoid any notoriety (be it good or ill). He will try to keep his acts away from prying eyes and the zeal of Seretei's leadership.
- Keep the peace: Where possible, Zhu would like to cool the boiling tensions caused by this crisis. Be it by sharing a cup of tea with a friend and compatriot or chipping away at the nationalistic will of those enthralled by the ideals of the Gotei 13: Zhu likes to believe that quiet acts of defiance in the face of burning conflict can help quench their flames.