Ms Seora ███
I asked hundreds of students who the Empress was. Pre-schoolers, fourth graders, twelfth graders, university students. The older they got, the more students got it right, but even amongst university students they were often wrong. Many said Soleil, thinking of the previous Empress. But without a doubt, amongst all age groups, one answer was more common than any other - Seora.
Seora is a famous Ritual Maiden from Divinice. She is most famous for stepping out line in a routine cleansing in the south-eastern region of Black Lake in 1360, where she was filmed cleansing more than four times the space she was supposed to before passing out. Since then, she has been made a major fixture in many events involving Ritual Maidens, such as cultural festivals.
While Seora has been cagey about her childhood, a few things are known. She was born in southern Divinice in 1339, and is believed to have joined the Academy of the Divine in 1344. Her childhood was uneventful, excepting an incident where Seora blinded her teacher in 1347.
My friends and I hated class - doesn't everyone? And we made a plan. Since I was the best at magic at the time, I would blind the teacher for a few minutes so we could all slip out of the classroom and run off to play. It was flawless, as all childish plans are. The failure came from me - her blinding lasted far longer than a few minutes, stretching into the days and weeks. It was awful. A simple childish prank that got out of control. I don't think she ever forgave me, and rightfully so. All I can hope is that I'm no longer the sort of person who would do something like that.
After graduating from the Academy aged 18 in 1357, she became a part of the Ritual Maidens and moved to Amanta.Show spoiler
Seora was born Seora Cho in the south Divinitian city of Jaryan, as a second child. Her parents, mother Ji-yu and father Dae-hyun, had recently moved to metropolitan Divinice from the Kao Islands in order to seek medical care for their first child, Seong-han, who had been born 3 years prior. A second sibling, Seo-jun, was born in 1341. Seora did not get a real chance to know him, or her third sibling, Seon-woo (1344), as in 1342 she was taken to the Academy by the Princess in charge of her region. Due to her young age at the time, being less than three years old, she has no memory of her family. A consequence of this is that she doesn't know the specific pronunciation of her name that her family used, that being So-ra (so.ɾa) rather than Se-o-ra (si.o.ɾa).
The 'blinding incident' was not recounted in full. After blinding her teacher, Seora was forced to watch each one of her friends be punished for her action, before having all of her personal belongings confiscated and being locked in a room on her own for multiple days. Seora was only released when the overseeing Princess deemed her 'reformed', and her personal items were never returned. Amongst these were small trinkets given to her by her family in the moments before she was handed over. Seora has never really forgiven her overseers for treating her so harshly, but did indeed change her tune so as she wouldn't be hurt again. Many of her friends stopped being such as a result.
As a Ritual Maiden, life continued to be uneventful. Rumours exist that she began dating one of the soldiers who guards the Maiden Commune in 1359, though Seora had never confirmed this. Seora's 'big break' came in 1360, when she was assigned to a routine cleansing ritual in the Black Lake region of south-eastern Divinice, to remove raw magic from the area temporarily. A protest against the Empress (then Soleil VII) was ongoing at the time, and tensions were heightened when the maidens arrived.
While instructed to only cleanse a certain stretch of area, Seora broke ranks and cleansed a vast area. This magical over-extension caused her to pass out, and was quickly taken back to their vehicles and left. Her act was met by loud cheers from the people of Black Lake, and the protest partially dispersed.
A month later at the Fall Equinox Festival, Seora was recognised and was quickly bombarded with questions. Key amongst them was why she'd chosen to do it.
It was a spur of the moment thing, I think. I saw all of you standing there, signs in the air, looking tired and sick and... I don't know! It hurt to see you all in pain in that place. And as we prepared for the cleanse, I realised, oh! I have the power to change this! So I tried to. I barely remember the whole thing, honestly!
Seora was catapulted into nation-wide fame, and received hundreds of letters from all around. Of particular note was a set of packages from Black Lake, whose residents had come together to send her a variety of gifts, such as handcrafted jewellery, clothes, letters, art, and photos, among others.
Seora was sent to Lusca as part of the ritual maiden delegation for the funeral of Empress Soleil VII just a few months later, and was again sent for the coronation of Empress Ilsa at the end of the year. Her presence at the latter accidentally overshadowed the actual Empress, which reportedly went down very poorly within the Council of Princesses.
The following years saw Seora headline multiple cultural festivals in southern Divinice, as well as appearing at a few schools to talk about her job.Show spoiler
Seora had initially desired to become a member of the Council of Princesses, even if not as a Princess in her own right. Her assignment to the Ritual Maidens instead is likely a result of the blinding incident, despite it being 10 years since then. Seora certainly believes it is the case, and that the Princesses have taken an eternal dislike to her. This is backed up by multiple instances of her being punished for minor transgressions where others are not.
In the winter of 1359, Seora first met Roderick Lutterburgh, a new recruit to the Divinitian army who had been assigned to the Maiden Commune in Amanta. The two fell in love quickly and began dating shortly after, a practice typically discouraged by the Princesses and the military. However, due to Roderick's family being extremely influential, the relationship was allowed to continue without interference from either side.
The incident in 1360, while it went down hugely well with the public, went down atrociously behind closed doors. Seora was criticised harshly for stepping out line and breaking the rules, with the Princess going so far as to beat her for her disobedience. However, after the Fall Festival and the huge publicity, her superiors relented.
Seora would break off the relationship with Roderick in 1362, which went over very poorly with Roderick. In the years since he has continued to make advances on her. These only ended after Seong-han, a soldier of lesser rank, approached Roderick privately and told him to back off. Their argument escalated to a full on brawl, with both having to receive medical attention and both being harshly punished. After this, Roderick backed off.
Since the spring of 1363, Seora has been in regular contact with someone known only as Esther. Esther contacted Seora shortly after an appearance at the Spring Equinox Festival, where Seora had indicated she was open to working with Stolisia to fix the situation in Black Lake. Esther's initial letter came in two parts - a regular letter of admiration, and a more formal letter offering to begin an under-the-table correspondence with the Stolisian Government itself. Seora accepted, and thereafter sent and received letters at least once a month. Little tangible has come from the secret communications, aside from Seora greatly enjoying the personal parts that Esther sends alongside the formal letters.
Towards Seong-han Cho
Seora and Seong-han first met in 1360 after Seong-han was given the role of Commune Guard. They hit it off fairly quickly, in part because Seong-han's 'unusual' pronunciation of her name made her curious to know what was up. The two are close friends, with their friendship even extending to Seora's other maiden friends and some of Seong-han's soldier mates, such as Frankie.
Seong-han is notably defensive of Seora, and helped convince her to dump Roderick Lutterburgh in 1362. He later got into a fight with Roderick over his treatment of Seora.Show spoiler
Towards Roderick Lutterburgh
Seora and Roderick met in 1359 and quickly fell in love, with Roderick using his familial ties to allow them to date without excessive oversight. They dated for 3 years, with Seora breaking the relationship off in 1362. Roderick continued to pursue her until a fight with Seong-han, but has somewhat persistently remained in Seora's life despite this.
Towards Esther Carlisle
Seora and Esther began communicating in 1363, after Esther sent her a letter asking her if she wanted to help the Stolisian government help Black Lake. They regularly send each other letters, and each regards the other as a friend.
Towards Aila Clermont
Seora and Aila first met when the two still attended the Academy, though they were not yet friends. This changed when Aila joined the Ritual Maidens in 1362, entirely of her own volition. Now that the two worked together, they grew close, with Seora filling an almost older sister position for the younger demigod.