::This ref is outdated! New reference sheet here!
More Schwazernegger than Bruce Lee!Shinlai Classification:
Rare, long-tailed, heavy-furred maleElement: Water - but instead of an ability to use or create water, his specialty is warding it off – he is a master of waterproofing.
This proves useful in many ways – gently helping pups to swim, drying herbs or jerky, preserving materials against the elements.Physical traits
Nirasi is more of a ‘lai of deliberate action than one of agility. His naturally broad stature and musculature give him a commanding presence as an adult, and he matured from a spry, lithe youth into someone who relies more on carefully-worded suggestion than any physical threat. He tends to take up a lot of one’s field of vision, but never in an imposing way; he is very careful with his body language and projects a sense of protection, backed up by a slow stride and a nuzzle if it’s needed.
His eyes are a lively green, and accentuate his facial patterns when unmasked, and show beautifully through golden borders when he’s wearing it. He’s been told they shine when he’s happy, and that when he speaks, they are just as involved as any voice inflection in expressing his point.
When his Elder created his mask, he was careful to have its contour curve around his head – this balanced its jagged profile with a functionality when moving forward – it kept the mask from getting knocked around and damaged any time he moved his head. This also complemented the soft outline of his general shape when viewed from the front.
His speaking voice is a rich baritone, though when he sings, his most resonant timbre is as a bass. There is a very slight gravel to his dialogue, and it’s continuing to deepen as he ages. To speak with him is to share thoughts with a calming, perceptive person, and he’ll always wait to speak if his confidante begins to ramble. He enjoys puzzling over the trials of others and having worthwhile things to say about them; in turn, simply listening to his insight it brings a warmth comparable to the safety one feels just by being near him.Area
Nirasi’s village is on the Western continent, near cliffs at the fringe of the encroaching Darkblood influence. Without experience to temper such a bold claim, he considers himself ‘well-traveled’ – but he’s only strayed a short distance from his village, immersing himself in his element only a few miles upstream. As he becomes more aware of visitors and their comparatively vast cultural exposure, he’s beginning to wonder what it’s like even farther away, and whether anyone would accompany him as he broadened his own understandings.Personality
As a young Shinlai, Nirasi loved a challenge, but often he was only satisfied once he'd exhausted himself to overcome it - this took a lot of the fun out of things. He wasn’t necessarily competitive, but his demeanor at the onset of a task was usually much more positive than when it was over - with fatigue came snappishness. He has since matured, and understands that much more care is necessary to consider the feelings of those around him. He’s begun to see the importance of involving himself with his community, and as an adult he no longer takes for granted the freedoms he enjoyed as he grew up. He wishes to return the favor to everyone who allowed him to become his own ‘lai.
He has no trouble making friends, but has spent most of his life isolated - he was so focused on mastering his element that he barely made time for people or activities beyond those directly involved with that purpose. Since then, however, he has become much more approachable, and actively takes part in enriching the lives of others. So far, this remains on an individual scale until he becomes more comfortable with crowds…but what he mistook for ‘wanderlust’ as a child was only mild rebelliousness. He wanted to break free and become an individual, but ultimately that only led to living several miles away, tethered to his village. Now he’s beginning to feel a curiosity toward what may be beyond his forest – in paying attention to those around him, he has heard many tales of many amazing interactions between humans and Shinlai, and is becoming aware of the political situation, which unsettles him greatly. He is at a point where he wants to leave and explore, but does not want to do so alone, as the concept of a horizonless trek is completely foreign to him. He’s asked about tagging along with the rotating bands of traveling merchants, but isn’t sure that is how he wishes to explore.
He’s rather neutral and has never dealt much with humans, but leans toward a Darkblood concept of things; he sees himself and the Shinlai as independent, self-sufficient entities, and does not feel drawn to huge communal efforts or worship. He recognizes the Elemental Cycle as essential in providing a central organization that many people take comfort in, and he does not
agree with violence to achieve one’s drives. He just seeks to exist and coexist, and thinks of himself as his own being without a vague responsibility to regain control over his world. He has spent a lot of time politically oblivious, but because his village is located on the western continent toward the outskirts of Darkblood territory, he’s become aware of, and unnerved by, the tumult.
He applies himself to his friends similarly to the way he used to tackle tasks - but without the same tenacity. He recognizes people as needing a drastically different approach - "Come, see, conquer" does not inspire much bonding. He does his best to nurture positive drives in his peers, and feels the same exhilaration in their achievements as he does in his own. He will often give leather gifts in congratulations - and they'll serve a purpose related to a success.
He can't stand to see someone become disappointed, and is quick with an encouraging word or an excuse to take a break - some things take time and while he knows it's hypocritical advice, he makes sure his friends step back from something that upsets them, so they can tackle it when they're fresh again. This exposes him to being taken advantage of for his patience, which he himself exaggerates. By rationalizing any means to accomplish what he feels is a worthwhile end, he becomes blind to what he suffers as a catalyst.
Because of his broad build, he tends to be perceived as protective - which became true once he accepted the perception. At first, he was so myopic as to seem selfish, but he has widened his scope to his friends, and does everything he can to defend a worthwhile goal set upon by a worthwhile individual.
As for his sense of humor, Nirasi saw a lot of potential to have fun. Auto-drying led to hilariously poofy results, his tail being the best victim before he started to open up to others. Also, if he's personally crafting something for a friend, he will design it in such a way that it contains an 'easter egg' specific to its new owner.
One of his first tentative steps into including himself was helping to preserve food - his talent sped up drying herbs and making jerky. He also watched the pups as they learned to swim (not everyone was Water, after all!) and very gently helped them, effectively working with them as their own personal 'water wings.' Pool-noodle ‘Lai!
He's made strides in socializing, but sometimes the familiarity of a quieter scene is something he needs - but he has one or two friends he'll invite back to his cave for some relaxation time, to just sit and whittle or craft...or to watch his veil of water or gaze downstream until his eyes lose focus and he can just...ponder.
Nirasi was born in 1802, after the world had had a bit of time to react to, and recover from, the Ashes plague. His village had done its best to cope with their losses and persevere, and as a result were considerably hands-off when it came to their young at that time. They were grateful to have survived and treated them as though they were fragile, and this granted the young a lot of freedom. Childhood whims became ultimate missions, and many developed with wildly irresponsible priorities.
Growing up in the rapids, Nirasi quickly learned to swim, even before his element awakened. He spent long mornings charging against the current, getting stronger as time passed. He first began to recognize his magical aptitude when it started getting easier each time he left the water – at first, his heavy fur made it considerably less fun to be out of the water once he was wet.
He noticed his fur dry more quickly as he got older, and eventually learned to dry himself intentionally.
He continued to challenge himself, becoming very strong as his element began to aid his movements against the currents – eventually his wanderlust inspired him to explore farther up-river with his parents’ blessing – it would have broken their hearts to have stifled his wishes and they felt that though it was dangerous, it was more important that he be allowed to live as he wanted. He was their only son, and that they were alive as a family led to their hesitant parenting.
Once he started to plateau, he came upon something he’d never seen before: a tall, crashing section of the rapids. It became the most infuriating, inspiring thing he’d ever encountered – he knew he had to scale it. He’d master the waterfall.
Glaring at such a topographical feature didn’t get him very far, though.
He spent years surging against the waters, getting washed into the pool at its base, getting injured and having to take time to heal (his element hadn’t fully awakened, so he had to do it the hard way).
Something he’d learned while young was the importance of keeping dry, even as a water-element Shinlai – he stalked the rivers and hunted deer. They provided his meals and several tools – most notably their hides and bones (whittled into needles) allowed him to work with leather. He developed quite a skill with his handicraft, and eventually applied his ability to the leather itself, developing a way to permanently waterproof his skins.
He lived for years at the base of his bane. During that time, and his many hours in the churning waters at the base of the waterfall, he discovered an underwater hollow. It went a ways back but wasn’t deep or tall enough to be much more than a secret hideaway. He stashed his favorite trinkets there, but still had to live outside the river itself in a shelter he created with the forest’s resources, wood and bone and a thatched roof, insulated with skins.
He returned to his village every so often, but made it clear to them that he would not return for good until he’d mastered his element. On his visits, he would bring his favorite things back from his refuge, tooled leather pouches or other such items, nuggets of the fool’s gold that glinted from under the water and glittered from the rock face. He spent many hours speaking with his Elder, explaining how he was progressing, and sharing what had become important to him.
His magic continued to manifest, and he recognized an ability to repel water. Not only could he actively dry himself more quickly, but he could will the water away from him even if he was beneath it – he used this to create pockets of air around his face so he could breathe and see underwater.
As the years passed, he realized it might be the key to reaching the top of his waterfall – why fight the water if you could slice through it?
The inspiration struck him, but it was still a while until he timed his motions precisely enough to reach the top – he had to keep it from crashing down on him, but at the same time use what was under him to continue to step upward.
It was incredibly difficult not to sprint back to his village the first time he’d managed to scale it. He forced himself to reach the top again and again, and achieve some sort of consistency so that it didn’t appear to be chance.
When Nirasi felt ready, he returned home with measured strides, taking care not to behave immaturely with his news. He wanted them to be proud of him, and didn’t want to make a fool of himself. He requested a session with his Elder, and shared his success, inviting him to see everything he’d built for himself in his years of solitude.
His Elder agreed, and Nirasi hosted him graciously – showing everything from the beauty of the locale itself, to the fruits of his craft. He was nearly as proud of his ability to permanently waterproof his leather as he was his ability to finally scale his waterfall.
Upon returning home, his Elder felt Nirasi was ready for his mask – he wanted to create something meaningful to commemorate his success. He used what meant the most to him, and created a fine leather mask, shaped and boiled in beeswax to harden it. He then painted it blue and edged it in flecks of fool’s gold from the silt at his waterfall.
The ceremony was scheduled, announced, and eventually celebrated. The Elder presented the mask, and congratulated him.
Once he’d recovered from such an honor, Nirasi thought this would be the best opportunity to ask a question that had eaten away at him since he’d learned to climb the waterfall. Near the top was another hollow in the stone behind the crashing water – he’d slipped into it accidentally when he was still figuring out how to move upward. With a little exploration, he realized it wound down toward the base of the waterfall, and had several chambers branching away from it.
He wanted to make this his new home, but also wanted to connect his little cubbyhole to this cave network, so that anyone could visit him without having to perform a dangerous climb. But he needed to enlist the help of an Earth Shinlai to help him accomplish this.
“I know just the one…” said his Elder.
He finally felt deserving of returning to regular interaction with his village, and split his time evenly between his refuge and his birthplace.
While it did lead to his mask, Nirasi recognized that he had to temper his focus. A great deal of his youth was spent in self-exile, and he returned home not only with pride, but also stunted social exposure - since that time he has taken special care to involve himself with his family and seek friends. It was a strange event, his return...his parents cared for him but didn't want to interfere - he was their only son and they couldn't bear to have him resent them for meddling. As for the rest of his community, they watched as he grew from an awkward pup into a form with more confidence and self-assurance (and noticeably broader shoulders) - but didn't speak with him often. He'd appear at the outskirts of the village, vanish into the Elder's hut, leave several hours later and return to his waterfall.
Neither they nor Nirasi had anything in common beyond discussions of the weather, and he knew he needed to change that. What good was earning their respect if he seemed nothing more than a guest to them?
He'd worked so hard to come up with ways to give back to his people, but didn't know the first thing about starting a conversation to connect with them.His new goal was to change that.
Oooookay! Well, even if the Elder knows the Earth Shinlai who'd help build his new home, I certainly don't. If I win, maybe someone's Earth 'lai could be buddies with Nirasi?
Never had an adoptable before, and never entered a contest that I ever had a chance at winning before...we'll see whether I got cocky this time around XD If I don't get him, I'll just make this fanart for the winner or somethin' mhm
Thanks to everyone who kept me from dividing by zero with his description D: Cliffs Notes version bolded because, jeez, what a bunch of words, eh?
There are a lot of things I thought would turn out better, but alas! I am not immediately good at everything. So thanks for bearing with me as I learn haha
Shinlai to *AlanaRoseheart
Original design by ~Dragara
Also I'll be futzing with his description as his personality becomes more apparent c:
18 Jun – re-read his background and realized it came across as somewhat clipped and unfriendly – and that’s not correct at all! I’ve since tried to convey that any self-interest has become tempered as he gains experience with both himself and his community.
Embigger'd with download