In her native language, her name sounds like a whippoorwill whistle. Of course, we don't speak that, and she can't just name herself a whistle. >> She's chosen Miu (Japanese, from the two characters "mi" meaning beautiful and "u" meaning feather). Asuka also has bird symbolism, with characters meaning "to fly" and "bird." Hakucho, at least according to Google Translate, is the Japanese (because why not keep going with that) equivalent of swan. She isn’t, of course, but it’s a bird. Did you guess there’s a theme here? WOW HOW DID YOU FIGURE THAT OUT I CAN’T BELIEVE IT.
(no explanation required)
Although Miu is exceptionally talented (not to blow her own horn) with music and singing, she realized it’s not really something she wants to make her career. Turning it into work runs the risk of taking the fun out of it, and while she doesn’t at all hide it and would happily join a gig as a singer if asked to, she’s not actively trying to build a name for herself. That being said! She has taken up, this summer, a part-time job at a dairy queen (not the chain, just a nice little ice cream shop). It’s open year-round as they do have the space for some indoor seating, but it’s nothing big. Her main job comes in the evenings, and while she knows her guards and parents would be aghast at some of the things she wears and moves she does >> she’s a dancer. Not a stripper. Not always exotic. But always dancing.
THEIR SPECIES: The Alíis (ah-lee-is) are a humanoid race with bird-like wings, connecting to their arms and the sides of their backs rather than purely sprouting out of their backs. Their native language is also birdlike, all musical notes and whistles. Miu's real name sounds like a whippoorwill call. Furthermore, they are also an extremely magical species. Their power is very potent, and what they can do with it is remarkable. If the power of an alíis can be harnessed, whoever controls that power is formidable indeed. They're very reclusive and kept their settlement as hidden as they could, to avoid hunters who would use that power, sell them as slaves (usually back in Techelle). Their plumage is beautiful and, for the less scrupulous, regarded as very nice decoration. I have kind of imagined them as looking generally east-Asian (I apologize if that sounds rudely generalized; I don't mean it that way, only that Miu's face is Japanese but I would personally accept a Chinese or Korean face for example as an Alíis) in their human features.
-cracks knuckles- LET'S BEGIN. The world of Tetra is similar to earth in environments, but much, much smaller. Several fantastical species inhabit the world. I'm going to mention a few, but hopefully I'm going to keep myself limited and not feel it necessary to create every single possible thing living there.
• Miu's native land, Bikanel, is within the dunes of the Liraie (lir-eye) Desert, a closely guarded oasis secret. There are a few settlements here and there, not committed to any one species, but for the most part, those in the desert are nomadic groups or there on missions, usually treasure hunting or archaeology for ancient civilizations once there. One other species that calls Liraie their ancestral home is the Medusae (plural). Largely driven out and hunted, they are rare, but it's theorized this is where they came from once upon a time. They do not turn people to stone with their gaze unless they wish it. It's a defensive mechanism, not involuntary (99% of the time, not including any outliers that may be stone-gaze serial killers). They do have snake hair, and they're not absolutely hideous. They're usually very conventionally attractive, in point of fact. BUT THIS ISN'T ABOUT THE MEDUSAE
I mention them because I may request one later as part of Miu's story. This is about world building.
• Up north in Darea, the mountainous region of Tetra that is often cold with harsh weather, dwells the Igna race, a very hardy, stocky, very strong people with an affinity for stone. It's said they can turn into stone, in fact, and continue to move and work as normal with the additional strength. Mount Turak is sacred to them. They protect its peak with all their strength, and a holy temple (complete with monks who live there year round) sits near the crest that only the most dedicated of pilgrims reach. Somehow, the worst of the weather never seems to bother this particular space.
• Aguirrae is a temperate land, but it's also very rainy. It's also near the center of Tetra. The forests swirl with fog and humidity, and Aguirrae is home to the largest lake in Tetra, Lake Vereen. The Vereen people aren't quite merpeople, but they aren't quite human, either. They are extraordinary in that they possess both gills and a set of lungs, the latter usually resting and dormant. They have webbing between their fingers and toes, and they're graceful, downright gifted swimmers. Their skin is blue, in varying hues. Like the Alíis, the Vereen have impressive magical ability as well. They are adept at healing magic, and also strangely enough seem to have a knack for deciphering ancient magic as well. Many Vereen are great scholars. There's an impressive library in Aguirrae. Again, I guess the species isn't that important ~right now~ but I wanted to explain my ideas somewhere and this section seemed the most appropriate. There's definitely built-up civilization and life around the lake, but the lake is also impressively deep and a whole Vereen city is down there.
• Zanarr is similar to Aguirrae in plantlife and seasonal progression; however, it's much drier, and as such the weather fluctuates more or at least it's more noticeable because there isn't constantly present water in the air. The weather can be unpredictable. Tornadoes happen in Zanarr, almost exclusively the only place it happens save for it technically being possible in Techelle (but one has not been recorded there in many decades). This can be a problem because, among other reasons, agriculture is a big boon in the Zanarrian economy. Tornadoes destroy everything in their path; they don't detour around crops. Drought has also been an issue in Zanarr in recent history. A berserker sort of beast-humanoid species calls Zanarr their homeland, the Corra species. The animal characteristics that Corras can be born with varies, mostly depending upon genetics. It's rare to have a family of feline Corras that suddenly birth a bear Corra. While not exclusive, it is true that the vast majority of Corra have mammalian animal traits. There really haven't been many, if any at all, claims of for example a birdlike Corra, or a reptilian Corra. Most common by far are canine and feline traits, such as wolf or panther ears, claws, and a tail. They can also roar just as well as the actual animal. There have been other forms of Corra before, such as bears. The Corra species is a fierce and proud one. They protect what they care about and they do it very well. They're excellent fighters and hunters.
• Techelle, smack in the center of Tetra, is small and very built-up. The city at its center (also named Techelle, creatively enough) is Tetra's capital, of sorts, a central hub of the world for all to come to and connect and work together. So the theory goes. Many in the outside regions view Techelle as out of touch with the rest of the world, a city full of technology and excess (which is not an inaccurate observation, honestly). Techelle is full of money, full of power, full of androids, and full of both light and murky, tainting darkness. Where there is money and power, there is also the potential for greed and selfish ends to take root. There are many people in Techelle that do truly good, generous things and help others day in and day out, but for every good deed done, there is someone in the seedy underbelly of the city looking for a way to get something not so good done. Many underground trade rings for other species happen here, fight rings, sex rings, slave rings (no one likes to call it that, even those doing the business, but people are bought and paid for; they are not servants, they are slaves). A lot of stuff goes down in Techelle, behind the scenes of the glittering parties, shiny technology, and billboards around the city with soothing voices telling you everything is fine. Mind you, Techelle is not the only place these things happen. It's just most common there, because there is no "home" species most prevalent there other than plain old humans that somehow always end up getting all the power despite being completely ordinary. Humans in Tetra can and almost certainly do in their lifetime learn some magic, but they are not born with power like the alíis.
POWERS & ABILITIES:
I kind of already explained this a little, oops. Again, they're incredibly magically adept. It's not a question of some of them being gifted at it; they're all born with this fantastical power. Conjure objects or beings out of thin air, compel success, riches, luck, manipulate emotion and other forces outside of ordinary control. Even the weather. One way to think of them is like genies, but bird people and no lamps/servitude for wishes. That being said, and as I mentioned somewhere up in the species info, they have been hunted and if captured/sold/etc., they can be threatened into using their power as someone wants them to. They work very hard to hide their powers from outsiders, lest they be taken advantage of. They are capable of flight, though they may not fly as high as real birds. That's a bit extreme, you know. They are naturally musically talented and wonderful singers, in their own language and any other they learn. Music is an important part of Alíisian culture. They can also dance well. Miu, as many other self-respecting Alíisians do, has spent much of her life perfecting her vocals and dance mastery. It's just part of their culture; music is found in every part of life and celebrated. Her magic mastery is also strong, but she hadn't reached by any means the levels of her parents yet.
WEAKNESSES & LIMITATIONS: While they have bird wings and can sing like birds, again, they cannot fly as high as the actual birds. They're just too big to sustain that kind of flight. They also can't fly as long as birds can continuously. While they have loads of magic in them, their power can be drained if they do something big very quickly. For example, Miu drains much of her power in her journey in order to completely disguise herself as a plain old human and to continue the disguise. It will restore after a certain amount of time. This expenditure will make them tired, sometimes dazed. Miu almost fainted and was able to pass it off as dehydration in the desert heat. They are not immortal, nor invulnerable, although they can try and magically heal wounds and such. Success depends on if they have enough time and their magic and skill. And some luck. Miu personally was never that skilled in actually doing things, like manual labor, having to do things for herself, because as the chief's daughter, she didn't really have to. The chief's family had hired help for that, but she did like to try and help and learn to do it herself, and at least watch if they wouldn't let her. She was learning philosophy, magic, their history, things her parents wanted her to learn in order to rule their people when her time came. She learned to fight somewhat, but her stamina isn't the best; she would get winded before anyone else. What she's learned to do instead is buffing magic. That being said, unless she has someone to guard her, she's not very good on the attack part.
Miu is my own creation, not based on anyone else out there. She is bubbly, determined to find a light in any situation however dim and small it may be, and she works hard; she doesn't know when to quit. Part of this is guilt, because she's fairly certain her parents are dead, possibly her guards, and that her home has been destroyed, while she is still alive. The least she can do in their honor is never settle on "that's good enough" and keep going until she's as far as she can possibly go, doing as well as she possibly can at whatever task or skill. Just as she's been her entire life, Miu is a very musical person. She's always humming or whistling something and dances around the house (well, apartment most likely). She's thrown herself into the music scene of San Francisco and trying to find a way to use her musical talent to her advantage, be on stage singing rather than on stage dancing or behind a bar watching a concert from the back of a venue and wishing the roles were reversed. She doesn't mean to be flighty, but sometimes she does jump from one idea to another just too quickly and something gets lost in the shuffle. Once she realizes it however, whether on her own or because someone told her, she will apologize, and she'll mean it. She was raised better than to give her word to something and not do it because she forgot. Future rulers don't just forget their commitments, however casual they may be. She relies on her charm and overall fun personality (so she says) in most social situations, which may not be the most responsible way to approach things, but hey, lbr here, she's a bard if there ever was one.
She’s not really a princess by their ruling system, but in some spots, it takes up less characters than “chief’s daughter.” So! As the chief's daughter in hidden Bikanel, Miu knew security her whole life, other than the threat of their home being found. Working for a living was not something she was ever brought up to have to do; however, that is not to say she was brought up spoiled or wanting for nothing. If she wanted something, did she deserve it? Why did she want it? If she was old enough, could she afford it herself? Her parents instilled in her the idea "a person doesn't deserve something they want because of who they are, but because of what they do." Do good in the world, and good will come back; that kind of thing. Anyway back to the point >> She did have two assigned guards appointed to her when she was sixteen, not too much older than herself honestly, and she was closest to these two more than anyone else. She loved her people, and she loved their culture. Every celebration was a very public event, where everyone came out and had fun, even her family. Dancing in the street, music on every corner; this is the Bikanel Miu wants to remember.
When their home was betrayed, it was not during a celebration or any other important occasion. An ordinary day was ruptured by invasion, shooting, confused and frightened screaming. Alíisian homes were being plundered and the people terrorized. Miu, her guards, and the servants assigned to her (her friends, she insisted then and would still now) fled, and while they made it past the walls and into the desert, they did not make it all too far before adversity came again and they became separated. Although Miu wished to fight with her friends, they begged (and guards commanded) her to go... and she did, and it's weighed heavy on her ever since. They could be dead. They probably are dead, and she is still alive. She used much of her magic to ensure her escape, making herself a small bird to fly away more efficiently then using the rest of her magic to completely hide her wings and Alíisian heritage. She made it to a rock formation, collapsing in its shade. When she came to, a nomadic hodge-podge of a group had come across her, meaning no harm: simply investigating her, and wondering if she needed help. Miu claimed to be a musician, separated from her party after an ambush by bandits. Fortunately, this party took her in.
On their way through the desert to Aguirrae, the darkness began to sweep across Tetra. It started out looking as though perpetual storm clouds were on the horizon, a never-ending rain besieging Aguirrae. Of course, we know that's not what happened; that's never what happens with the darkness. They remained together as best they could through the chaos of fleeing from Tetra and then making it through the animated world to the portal, but they too became separated along the way.