[Application] Saeki Shoyu

Xiao Zhu Character Proposal​

Elevator Pitch​

Xiao 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.

Personal Goals​

  • 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.
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Saeki, Shoyu
佐伯 小優

"Saeki the Little Kindness"

6th Seat/5th Division


謙受益 滿招損 “Benefit goes to the humble, while failure awaits the arrogant.”

Personnel File
Tonton (a playful nickname immitating the sound of a pig)
Age: 188
Birthday: June 15, 1175
Gender: Male
Ethnicity: Chinese

Physical Specifications
Height and Weight:
Eyes: Ice blue with a noticeable spiderweb pattern of crimson blood vessels
Hair: Long with a snow-white color fading just before the roots into silvery gray
General Appearance: Saeki Shoyu is a tall slender man with the appearance of someone around the age of 26. He has sharp features including a cut jawline leading down in a slim but strong chin. His hair is an unnatural snow-white leading into silvery gray roots. This stands in strong contrast to his preferred flowing Crimson 深衣 (Shenyi; “Deep Garment”). Saeki Shoyu has surprisingly well-cut musculature in spite of his slender profile.

Psychological Profile
Saeki Shoyu has a very reserved, almost meek, countenance, but make no mistake: there is a quiet ferocity behind this demeanor. He is conflict averse, only choosing to fight out of duty or absolute necessity and strives to end these situations without lethal force. He has very little aspiration beyond the drive to attain a quiet life free from want or obligation; however, he is willing to compromise on his general philosophy and ethics to protect this end from a mortal threat.

  • Quiet contemplation
  • Those who strive to avoid unnecessary conflict
  • Meditation through martial training
  • Quality tea

  • Arrogance
  • Malcontents
  • Direct conflict
  • Excessive work or responsibilities

  • Capable negotiator
  • Extremely slow to anger
  • Skilled, even if reluctant, combatant
  • Unmatched ferocity when pushed to the brink

  • Will hold back so long as he believes there is potential for a peaceful resolution
  • Can be underhanded if it guarantees he can accomplish his life goals
  • Lack of aspiration means he is unlikely to challenge for or even accept high positions regardless of his qualification unless he believes it would guarantee the accomplishment of his life goals
  • He will often shirk smaller responsibilities if he feels they are interrupting his time for quiet contemplation and meditation

Documented History

My mother has long told me stories of my ancient ancestor, a man known as the Blood Dragon of Ming. A warrior with no equal who was said to be a relative of the Emperors who founded the state of Qin. His skill with the sword and hand saw countless foes of the other kingdoms of the Warring States period cut down mercilessly with a quiet ferocity evocative of the dragons of ancient myth. Before he eventually retired to relative obscurity somewhere among the fertile soil by the Yangtze River. It was said in a single night he turned a larger opposing force by single handedly cutting down one-hundred foes with his blade.

The general of the opposing army heard the story, how the battle had begun as an ambush but the people of the opposing state, seeing the size of their enemy, had begun to retreat. How Saeki had remained firm. How he cut 6 foes down with his first strike. How after many hours and 50 enemies lay lifeless before him his blade had snapped. How he fought to exhaustion with the broken blade to the 70th man where he could hardly stand without leaning on a spear he had retrieved from the fallen. She tells me the enemy, seeing him in his weakest moment, came to fight him without honor ten at a time. Seeing their dishonor, he would be blessed by the Buddha to roar back like a dragon, his own blood reforming the blade as he cut down each group to the 100th man before the remaining force fled in fear. The general, believing this to be fabrication, called parley to challenge Saeki which he would accept. The day came where the two men would face each other down. When Saeki drew his sword, broken and still stained deep crimson with blood, the general already knew he was beaten and reserved himself to his fate. Saeki would sheath his dreadful blade and leave the man before him to his defeat.

The steam rising from tea with color like iron begins to wane as my re-telling of the story ends. The well-dressed patron of this high-end tea house seems pleased with the grandiose nationalism of this story as they put the cup to their lips. As always, the story ends with perfect timing for the tea to reach drinking temperature, and I beam with pride as they seem satisfied with the cup I prepared. Still, I find my joy poisoned with unavoidable feelings of jealousy and longing. I do not covet the status and position of the noble patron before me, but instead I yearn for mastership of the tea they now drink. Serving tea is a poor substitute for the simple pleasure of growing tea on one’s own land. How I long to till the rich soil, to plant the finest shrubs, to pluck the soft leaves from their branches. What I would pay to have the privilege of stoking the wood fire and drying them. The inner peace I would feel if I were only able to roll each by hand to be packed and pressed.

The customer finishes their cup and leaves me a generous nod for my work. I return a deep bow in appreciation for their patronage before removing the cup from before them so they may relax. The clash of dishes brings me back to the clash of blades from the story of my ancestor. Why is it that those who desire peace must first resign themselves to conflict? This story is not one my mother teaches me because of filial piety, but one to scold me for not showing enough ferocity for the pride of the nation. She doesn’t wish for me to be a meek tea-grower, but a fearsome warrior in the standards of today.

“How Ironic,” I think to myself.

She tells the story of my ancestor that was related by the general who surrendered, but my great-grandfather always told me a different story. One passed in whisper among the men of the family. The story of the real Saeki. Not a man of wealth and ferocity, but a man of peace and faith. A man who only fought for the promise of five fertile fields in which to grow rapeseed flowers. Saeki did not kill one-hundred men in one night. In fact, he did not kill even one during that day’s battle because long before he had vowed to kill no one. The General, my grandfather would tell me, met Saeki on the battlefield as two of the only soldiers still standing after a two-sided slaughter. He was defeated in self-defense by the man whose only desire was to survive, and when he wasn’t killed, he had to formulate an elaborate story in hopes that his life would be spared the cowardice of his defeat. This story became fable: a weapon measured not by the lives it took, but by the warriors cowed beneath the weight of its telling. Saeki eventually had his five fields of flowers, but once his legend spread further it was deemed dangerous. He was assassinated on the very land his legend had bought him.

I do not wish to see the same fate, but without conflict I fear my meager earnings will never be more than a pittance against the price of land ownership. A generous nod cannot be weighed against the cost of a single shrub. Satisfaction cannot buy the pan used to dry the leaves, nor even the wood burned to heat the pan. It is for this reason that I find myself entangled in the smuggling of Opium. The risk is great, but it’s reward may see the dream realized in my lifetime. I leave the tea shop for another place to meet the man for whom I run Opium, but when I enter, I find only a blade in my back and a pool of my own blood in which to drown.

Relevant Background
When Saeki's eyes opened after his mortal death, he found himself in Rukongai. He was initially disoriented and bewildered by this unfamiliar realm, yet with time he was able to come to terms with this new existence. Saeki then attempted to lead an ascetic lifestyle and reflect on the mistakes of his mortal life; however, as memories of the past life inevitably faded, he was left in poverty trying to mend flaws he no longer remembered. Slowly, his will to continue like this slipped from his fingers and he began to hear echoes of a darker will tempting him to reach for a better life: the shard of his soul that he tried to bury awakened. Eventually his capability caught the notice of the Gotei 13, and the promise of stability led him to the first great compromise of his afterlife as he joined the Shino'o academy.

He graduated the academy and, despite his disinterest in the pursuit of power and his quiet disdain for the militaristic side of the Gotei 13, he was able to manifest his Zanpakuto's spirit and eventually attain his Shikai. He was not particularly eager for the responsibilities that came with his new role in the 5th division but accepted anyways understanding it as a necessary compromise for the sake of a peaceful afterlife. Eventually he fell into a comfortable rhythm and found plenty of time for contemplation between his duties. Then, calamity struck. As the Black Death ravaged the World of the Living, Saeki found his relatively peaceful existence in the Seireitei shattered. It demanded every bit of his power, forcing him to confront both his own potential and the realities of the Gotei 13's mission.

In addition to this crisis, a new invention surfaced: the Asauchi. Although Saeki did not openly object to this seemingly essential evolution of tradition, he saw it as an unwanted challenge to his cultivated lifestyle. His fear was that Asauchi would expedite the rise of new Shinigami, fostering competition for positions. This would mean ever more work would be required to maintain the status quo and a growing risk that his capabilities would attract the attention of those whom he would rather not impress. Saeki's growing resentment for those benefitting from this technology, and their rapid ascension through the ranks, serves as a potent pressure point for Xue Long to expose Saeki's darker tendencies.
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Zanpakutō File
Xue Long
Blood Dragon

Zanpakutō Spirit:


Xue Long appears as a long amorphous red mist with a mixture of vague humanoid and monstrous features. Xue Long’s true appearance gradually becomes clearer and more distinct as Shoyu Saeki attains mastery of all of its physical forms.

Xue Long is representative of ferocity and conflict. He pushes Saeki to strive for status and power over others by any means. In many ways Xue is the antithesis of what Saeki embodies with his calm and unassuming demeanor. He is both the blood of Emperors that comes from Saeki’s ancestors, as well as the culmination of the dark tendencies built in compromising his ethics in the service of achieving his dreams. Xue Long will poke and prod at his insecurities, flustering Saeki in a way few could ever hope to manage, to push him toward the Imperial Mandate of his bloodline.

Inner World Saeki's inner world is a humble shack on a hillside. The shack overlooks a modest field where tea shrubs grow in rows along the hill. Next to his shack is a building with more care and size in which the equipment to process tea leaves is kept. At the edges of the field is a deep fog that leaves the world beyond the carefully cultivated core of his inner world obscure. Wandering through that fog, one can faintly hear the sounds of clashing blades and an unreachable world outside.

When Saeki visits his inner world, he is usually found toiling in his fields with the work he does drawing parallels to his mental state. When he wishes for contemplation he finds himself seated in his shack before a small wooden fire where he prepares and consumes his tea while meditating on the state of things. When he is he needs to work hard to maintain an outward peace he often finds himself in the barren fields tilling the soil to plant a new crop of tea shrubs. When he is trying to make difficult choices he finds himself picking the ideal leaves from mature shrubs to be processed. When he is trying to cope with change and process his emotions he finds himself processing the picked leaves to create the final product.

Generally, Xue Long wanders the fog outside of the central field of the inner world. Within the fog he is in the form of a vaguely beast-like spectral mist visible by the contrast of his red color compared to the stark white of the fog. When Saeki is experiencing great trials or considering compromising his ideals, Xue Long leaves the fog to sit at the table for a game of Xiangqi. In the central field he takes on a more humanoid figure, though still vague and with beastly features. When this happens Saeki can no longer escape his troubles by toiling in the fields and must instead play the game with Xue Long while sparring with words. It represents a departure from his carefully cultivated psyche where he must face difficult truths and feel the pangs of temptation toward dark deeds.

Sealed Zanpakutō Xue Long when sealed appears as a dilapidated ancient Japanese style katana with only a red horsehair tassel hanging from the endcap to hint at its true form. The wrap along the blade is a deep crimson but shows signs of wear from disuse. The blade itself is a jagged and incomplete spike with no edge representing Saeki’s unwillingness to participate in conflict. The metal is tarnished with orange rust, and light pitting speckles what is left of the blade.

Shikai Appearance
"Kele, Xue Long"

(Thirst, Blood Dragon)

Xue Long’s jagged and incomplete blade is run along Saeki’s own flesh, and the blood from the wound is drained in a burst to reforge the blade with metallic blood. What results is

When this is done, the red horsehair tassel of the sealed Zanpakuto extends and wraps the hilt and scabbard, thus revealing its true nature as a Chinese 刀 (Dao) Sword with a solid crimson hilt and gold pomel and edge guard. The blood that “reforged” the sealed Zanpakuto near seamlessly transforms into the full blade with only a fade into the gold coloring at the base of the blade to suggest it as a separate material. The blood takes on a chrome-like brick red color with all signs of corrosion now absent from the material.

Shikai Abilities:
血雨 (Xue Yu, Blood Rain)
Upon sustaining an injury, Saeki can manipulate his own blood, transmuting it into metallic spikes akin to bo-shuriken. Once formed, the spikes can be immediately launched as projectiles targeting Saeki's opponents. This ability takes advantage of the give and take nature of combat by turning every injury into an opportunity for retaliation. The power of his Shikai lies not only in its offensive capability but also in its potential for strategic application, making each combat a game of nerve and strategy.

Shikai Strengths
  • Power: Xue Long provides a degree of raw offensive power that Shoyu Saeki otherwise lacks. This still isn’t something which completely negates his weakness in dealing damage but is a much-needed boost to his tactical output.
  • Range: Saeki lacks access to a wide array of ranged attack options due to his shortcomings in Kido, and his average speed makes closing the gap on opponents difficult. The wide radius and extended potential provided by launching Xue Yu outside of that radius provides him with tactical options to cover many of those scenarios.
  • Flexibility: While the ability to transform his blood into spikes is simple, it provides a lot of opportunity for creative application. A projectile launched from a blind spot, a spike used as a makeshift dagger, or even a puncture trap where a safe place to step once existed: the possibilities are only limited by imagination.

Shikai Weaknesses
  • Limited Use: Xue Long usea a resource with well-defined hard limits. This means, if used carelessly, Saeki can easily run out of options in battle.
  • Stationary: Blood splatter is stationary and can only be manipulated within a given distance of Saeki. This means if an opponent is able to shift the site of the battle consistently, they will partially neuter the fighting potential of Xue Long.
  • Reactive: Xue Long relies on Saeki sustaining injuries. This means he cannot proactively set up angles of attack and instead has to adapt on the fly to use his Shikai effectively. This also has the effect of forcing him to take damage in order to return damage.
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Stats, Skills, and Powers
Reiatsu: 110
Strength: 20
Defense: 25
Speed: 20
Spirit: 40

Weapon Proficiency: Novice
Hakuda: Novice
Hohō: Beginner
Reiatsu Perception: Novice
Resonance: Journeyman
Indomitable Will: Proficient
Shunko: Journeyman

First Release: "Kele, Xue Long"
Description: When Saeki's shikai is released, he can manipulate his own blood up to a 45m radius away from himself. The blood can be turned into metallic spikes which are either launched immediately upon forming or otherwise remain stationary where they were formed.

Effects: Xue Long can produce a number of spikes from the blood of each wound according to the severity of the wound. Starting at minor: one spike is produced per tier of severity resulting in up to 5 spikes from a fatal wound. Dodging or blocking these requires a hybrid check against Zhu's spirit and Zanpakutō resonance (as the speed and power with which they are launched increases accordingly).

Combat Strengths
  • Incredible Adaptability - Armed or disarmed, Shikai or plain Zanpakuto, straightforward foe or tricky opponent: Shoyu Saeki’s measured responses and skill allow him to assess any combat situation to try and end it quickly and with minimal bloodshed.
  • Jack of All Trades - Saeki has few glaring weaknesses. Endurance, speed, and strength are all at least close to average with his exceptional fight IQ and ranged Shikai allowing him to minimize his relative mediocrity in Kido techniques.
  • Serene Mind - Saeki’s peaceful nature and enduring practice of meditation make him exceptionally difficult to goad, fluster, or frustrate. Foes who rely on eliciting an emotional response to force errors would find themselves met with a wall of composure.

Combat Weaknesses
  • Master of None - While Saeki may lack notable weaknesses, this has left him on the average to weak end of raw power. This means he is unlikely to overwhelm someone with raw strength, but instead he must rely on extended combat and careful consideration of strategy to fight opponents on even terms.
  • Weak Killer Instinct - Even against an opponent vastly weaker than himself Saeki hesitates to deal the decisive blow. Where many see an opportunity to end a threat, he instead sees an opportunity to return to negotiations of peace.
  • Reactive Combat Style - Saeki relies on his Shikai to deal meaningful damage, especially at range, which means he also relies on an opponent landing smaller strikes that can become ammunition for a counterattack. If the foe doesn’t need to deal direct wounds, or relies on devastating individual attacks: it can make Saeki’s fighting position untenable.

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