Laoguan, Of Shepherding the Lost
SummaryBorn the first son of a commune's leader in Nerzin, Laoguan proved a spritely and energetic boy throughout his youth. Affluent and domineering, he became a scourge to women and a warring soul that sought martial prowess. It grew so terribly he was exiled to a neighboring land and conscripted by the reigning lord. The horrors of the battlefield shattered his arrogance utterly, and he was presumed dead after a besieged fortress fell. A sect of scholars soon found him among others in a ceiling that had collapsed. With nowhere to return, his learned upbringing caught their attention, and so they recruited him. With no spirit left for battle, the quaint life of wandering offered him reprieve. The sect, it turned out, were an organization pursuing matters of the Lost. Where there is violent deaths, the Forsaken invariably arise; where despair consumes the spirit, the Lost wander aimlessly. Many sought ways of suppressing the Forsaken in whatever form they took, and his new sect was no different. Life's cruel irony became thrusting him face first into the same horrors that daunted him. The trials proved to be quelling the Forsaken and absolving their grievances. Many, he soon discovered, were just like him in their own ways. Souls made to fight in wars they didn't understand, for people they didn't like, far from homes they lived in. A scant few held grander ideas, and they were always the fussiest to handle. It was on those ancient battlefields that Laoguan's fame was born, for he could speak to the Lost as no other could. His eyes became theirs, or perhaps theirs were like his. For as unnerving as his sect fellows found him, none could deny his affinity. With fame came attention, and so Laoguan found himself drawn away from wars. Old forests, run down villages, and decrepit slums became his new battlefield. There awaited all sorts of Lost, from so many different kinds of ugly ends. In them he found himself and more, the horrifying revelation of unfettered evil wracking him terribly. He pressed on nonetheless, driven by deep-seated empathy he'd long since tried to ignore. Some would later regard his frantic diaries as a forewarning. Laoguan found in his toils enlightenment of a kind, shedding off his old ways. The path he would take brought him ever closer to the Forsaken, and the turmoils that consumed them. Laoguan's attention shifted more and more to that of the living. For as many Lost as he sought to bring peace, he viciously sought justice upon their wrongdoers. When lawful courts failed and reasoning fell on deaf ears, Laoguan did not relent. If the dead could not be given justice, he would never have peace. In the following years, all sorts of mysterious deaths followed, and Laoguan notoriously refused to adjudicate some personally. This drew suspicions, and investigators for a powerful lord in Tomu deduced he was behind them. Although Laoguan evaded capture, his mortal wounds did him in ultimately. So powerful was his rage at injustice, and so vast his hatred of the wrongs the dead face, he himself arose once more. Gone was the person who possessed wizened judgement and sound council, a learned mind of estimable quality. Only his burning desire to see justice done remained, and so Laoguan became a terrifying Forsaken. Even after the loss of everything he was, his mission ever drove him onward. Wandering across Nerzin, Laoguan kept looking for the Lost, taking upon himself their burdens, and easing their souls into passing. His power grew by the day, their terrible fates emboldening his unnatural existence. Some called him a Grave King of a kind, though he has no followers except the lost lanterns that keep his company. Others went as far as call him a new kind of immortal, though only the mad entertain such an idea. He is undoubtedly Forsaken, and their fates are ever unchanging. No end of heroines have come seeking his head, and great has the body count grown. It is said that Laoguan himself has struck a deal with the immortals upon high, and maybe even the goddesses of Nerzin itself. He shall not harm the innocent he finds, but those with blood on their hands are surrendered to him. For, as many can say, they have crossed his path and left unscathed, despite the overwhelming presence he carries. Others have vanished entirely, scarcely any belongings left to be found. If such a deal hadn't occurred, surely he would've been defeated long ago. In no small part, Laoguan's shadow across Nerzin greatly influenced pacifism. From war was he born, and to reap war's bounty, he comes for those drenched with innocent blood. However right or wrong this may be, the impact is undeniable. Others regard him as an evil spirit who can only be satiated with guilty sacrifices. Whose guilt, of course, is ever debated.
You plea for your life, how many pled to you for theirs?
General Physical Condition
Much of his plant-and-skin body is petrified, resembling a dark black with a greenish, almost olive sheen to it. While not quite desiccated, he is not skeletal either. Some alive growths can be seen on him, plants that have come to cling to his body rather than become apart of it.
In life, Laoguan was a vibrantly green lauraume with bulbous flowers in an orange hue. These bulbs hid fruits inside, which had a tangy taste. In death, the flowers have rotten away, leaving a skeleton cage of their former veins. This web-like structure has since grown around Laoguan, enveloping him and fusing with his clothes. It does much to give him free-flowing and lighter-than-air appearances, and an intensely delicate looking body.
His otherwise plain face has contorted into one with a unhinged jaw, and terribly long, dagger-like teeth. As his mouth can no longer shut properly, there is a perpetual whistling of air that passes through him whenever he moves. Despite this, he can still speak well, though perhaps it is no longer with vocal cords.
His state of undeath is self-evident, but many tend to take notice of his presence firstly. All sorts of lost lanterns linger about him, dancing playfully or hanging drearily in the air. So many in one place is a telltale sign of his presence, and these undead can be troublesome on their own. In life he suffered hip damage, which made his walking mannerisms clumsy. Now, he is straight-backed, but his hips gratingly click and pop with his walking.
Forsaken – Laoguan is a true Forsaken. Death Mists – A native of Aochen, part of those mysterious lands ever came with Laoguan. Now in death, he has turned them into a deadly weapon, veiling himself within it or choking to death his enemies. Soul Judgement – The crimes of the past and the blood upon one's hands are all too real to him. So long as there is a drop of innocent blood, a mountain of good deeds means nothing at all.
Apparel & Accessories
What is left of his clothes is an old, worn-in hanfu attire. The skirt is replaced instead by voluminous pants, and the white silk has long since stained black and oily. The vibrantly white web-growth intertwines with his clothes, seemingly stitching itself into the red threads and fine embroidery that once denoted his sect. As if to peel open as a blooming flower, it emphasizes him as the center piece of his rotten wardrobe, hence at a glance he is seemingly of noble descent. His weapon-apparent is a long pole-staff, the top of which is capped with an iron chain to a serrated sickle head. The gruesome weapon serves as a beating implement, and those who run from him will find the sickle hurled toward them. His supernatural dexterity with the weapon belies the cumbersome look it carries, and the sickle vastly extends his reach. A crooked iron shortsword awaits on his waist, acting as a close-range option. Curious items hang from his belt and the pouches sewn into his upper clothes. Religious icons, child-like toys, and other pieces of what may have been some person's life adorn him. Such things can be useful to trigger the Lost and their fading memories, guiding them toward better thoughts. Out of everything, Laoguan guards these items the most from damage and breaking them is a certain death sentence. While not apparel per say, the lost lanterns following after him are unique compared to others. Semi-solid, flickering flames of dead souls that keep him company.
Born into some privilege, he received a useful education as a child. It would be the sect he'd join later that really expanded his mind, and his steadfast studying improved by leaps and bounds. For his time he could've been considered an estimable scholar, and his wisdom was often sought for some consul.
Life did not prepare Laoguan for war, as much as he loftily intended to succeed in battle. The hardships of that time broke his youthful arrogance, and he became an insular person for many years. An ideal candidate for a sect of scholars, and their teachings became the sanity-saving refuge he needed.
In life, Laoguan came to have a sharp and capable mind, seeing with a far-reaching clarity others struggled to comprehend. He often ended up trapped in seeing too far, and sometimes missing the smaller details. His work with the Lost ultimately changed his focus completely, and he became consumed by shouldering each and every person's weight as his own. Now only vestiges of his prior cunning remain, and he is entirely focused on pursuing his own ideals of what 'justice' means.
Morality & Philosophy
In helping others, Laoguan found a purpose his life was otherwise devoid of. In soothing the Lost and helping them pass on, he came to experience the true depths of evil that people could invoke. It was not that they did so that bothered him, but that those with great power went unpunished. He eventually came to regard laws and tradition as false idols, pretentious notions that the powerful abused upon the weak. Dying in the pursuit of justice simply validated this belief in his mind. The righteous must do what must be done, once evil has been shown. That he gave little regard to the consequences of this thinking is perhaps what doomed him.
Laoguan wanted to save others from the horribleness he himself endured. In doing so, he came to shoulder their burdens, and in the end took too many. His growing kindness couldn't withstand the tragedies that surrounded the Lost. Rage proved a poison chalice, relieving him as much as it consumed his mind. When the ways of civil people failed, he took the responsibility of judgement upon himself in its entirety. Nothing more epitomizes his nature as a Forsaken, a hateful judge and executioner.
Honorary & Occupational Titles
Shepherding is a time-honored tradition, and those who shepherd the dead are often called monks or priestesses. Lacking a formal declaration of such in life, Laoguan's role remains his honorary title in legends. There are those who have taken to calling him the Lord of the Lost, and believe he reigns over the Underworld.
Year of Birth
1342 TD 1093 Years old
Empty sockets, with a dull-orange glowing pupil
Tendril-like brown coils that reach to the shoulders
Petrified green, resembling black with an olive sheen