CC 12 – Rén Lei
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If there was one thing that Nova Ordo hated on an equal level as the Sage Coalition, it would be tyranny. That was because dictatorial rulers were the ultimate culmination of the natural short-sightedness that plagued all living beings, or at least all the ones that Rén Lei knew. They grasped onto short term power and control and almost completely neglected any sort of long term consequences in the process, which went against practically everything Nova was supposed to stand for.

That was why although the Arc Trading Company striking a deal with the arrogant old dragons would technically be a good thing for their country in the short term, the Ibinian forces of Nova Ordo realized that thoughtlessly snatching that opportunity would make them as opportunistic as the tyrants they hated so much. Understanding that they couldn’t afford the consequences of letting the trade deal go through, the Ibinian forces reluctantly agreed to confront the Sage Coalition directly for the first time in the history of the organization. 

They also decided to start out with a bang… by hosting a sophisticated tournament arc straight out of an action novel. The Coalition, being the polite world dominating organization that they were, easily agreed on the concept out of the goodness of their hearts to spare innocent civilians of the potential conflict. 

Fortunately, Lei wasn’t the only person in Nova that questioned the intentions of the centuries-old manipulators. Unluckily, after a very long week of inter organizational arguing, a part of Nova Ordo’s solution happened to involve sending one the most skilled, trustworthy, and disposable spies of the information network to act as one of the tournament’s participants.

And so now Lei was here, alone on a small rocky cliff near the foot of a mountain, armed with a simple wooden hunting bow, and suppressing the urge to blink at the brutal murder of the poor bird they’d taken control of to scout the battlefield. Due to sharing the sight of said bird, Lei witnessed the blood-red tentacle squeezing its head off in real time. 

How did they even know I was there? Ah, all the birds other than mine flew away from the fighting I suppose. Still, how is anyone supposed to deal with tentacles that fast? 

Lei’s eyebrows scrunched into the slightest of frowns as they tried not to question their decision making that led them here. Their feathered friend’s sacrifice hadn’t been in vain; Lei managed to get a feel for where all the big battles were happening, and formed a solid impression of what kind of people they’d be going up against in this fake battle royale. 

Some of the most notable of the Contestants included a pair of spiritually linked twins that could start a brush fire with a tantrum, what looked like a hundred year old wizard that could shoot out concentrated blasts of spacetime, and a sadistic ninja scientist woman that could harness the abilities of a literal demon. Since Lei volunteered to join in the Tournament, they, along with the other Spy Candidates were tasked to eliminate as many of these “contestants” as possible.

Two simultaneous shockwaves shook the gravel on their perch, followed by a flash of thunderous lightning from a random cloud in the otherwise clear blue sky. Lei minimally moved their eyes and checked the silver-skinned man behind them with worry, and let out a small breath at the reminder of their embarrassing victory. 

Lei had been staying put and repeatedly luring lone and weak Contestants close to the cliff they were stationed at, and the strategy had worked perfectly the first two times. But they didn’t expect their arrows to only make a dent on the third would-be-victim. Things turned from bad to worse as the man they named Silver somehow realized Lei was messing with his mind and did something to scramble the connection. Their ambush then devolved into a shooting match between his arm-gun’s blasts of energy and Lei’s arrows while he ran up to their position. Silver eventually made it all the way up to the cliff, but Lei miraculously hit him with a desperate shot to his arm gun and bought some time. They then ran up, grappled him, and used his next energy blast to launch them both back toward the cliff edge, before harnessing the almighty power of physics by throwing the metal man down the mountain. 

It was all a complete fluke start to finish, and just one wrong move would've ended with their face getting blown off and condemning them to a stern talking to from Cemile. The image of their wife cursing at them in a hospital bed and slapping their stitched up face made Lei’s mouth twitch up; a movement so slight that it made one think they’d imagined it. 

Hm, I dragged him and the other contestants up here so they’d be safe before they ported out, but would they have done the same for me?

When Lei was carrying Silver and thus making physical contact, they could feel his strangely artificial mind but that didn’t mean they could automatically read his personality or good will. If they were left alone, maybe some sleazy guy would’ve seen them as a girl and touched their chest, tiny though it may be, before the administrators could return them. It was unlikely, but the thought made Lei think that maybe this whole mess wasn’t worth it after all.  

It was obvious to anyone that could see past their perpetual poker face that Lei was a bit of a coward. Even though they had the talent for a great variety of missions, their role of choice was almost always either scouting, eavesdropping, and/or relaying information all from the safety of their seat in a nearby building. The reason they’d volunteered at all was to make sure their favorite coworker didn’t get chosen for the job due to lack of participants. Lei already had enough regrets about not doing anything when they could have, after all.

So it wouldn’t be surprising to anyone if they just admitted that they were in over their head with this whole tournament thing and surrendered. Cemile and Zheng likely wouldn’t be too disappointed in them; the two had initially protested the decision in the first place, so it’d probably just confirm their expectations that Lei was just being impulsive and stubborn. Maybe they were right, and Lei should just stop being prideful and back down before they got hurt.

…Screw it. Surrendering is for cowards, or at least bigger cowards than me.

Lei didn’t know what would happen to their coworker Musa if they dropped out now, so they just had to make the most of this experience regardless if they got shot with a blast of demon fire or whatever. They switched mindsets and thought of it all as one big learning opportunity; it was a personal challenge to test how Lei fared when forced to take down a crowd of unknown super powerful crazies. In that sense, it was practically the same as all of those martial arts tournaments and sparring matches back in the sect at Jingzhu. 

With the shift of their outlook, Lei allowed their expression to pull into a determined grin for a full second to match and amplify their competitive spirit. To almost everyone except their family, the sight would’ve been as rare as a bigfoot sighting; that poor species was just about hunted to extinction. 

Following a deep yet imperceptible breath, Lei wrapped their green and gray cloak around them and laid flat to the ground over their bow before tossing a handful of gravel over their body. It was the absolutely perfect camouflage, according to Lei’s expert level of knowledge. As they were finishing up, a wisp of impossibly thick fog surrounded the roughed-up man who was now more dent than silver, before whisking him away with an unknown magic. 

After noting the fact silently and hoping he’d be okay, Lei then concentrated and repeated a technique so ingrained into their memory that it became almost as simple as breathing. They focused on the ki that infused their bones, skin, muscles, and blood, and they followed that sense all the way into the nerves that ran through their body and up to the brain and spine. Mana, being the manifestation of will, naturally formed a psychic construct of identity within basically anything that so much as twitched with even a semblance of purpose or intent. 

Like the beginnings of most magic techniques, a bunch of old men figured out how to abuse this principle and passed the knowledge all the way down to the present, allowing Lei to grab hold of the construct that formed around their own consciousness, and expand its limits to outside of their own nervous system. 

The few minutes of downtime dragging Silver back up the cliff have recharged my mental energy, but I should still be careful. My head almost started buzzing when I tried to brute force his connection scrambling. 

As simple as shifting their eyes’ focus from near to far-sight, Lei’s awareness extended like a sphere surrounding them on all sides. The psychic constructs of every living thing within ten meters lit up in their mind as if Lei were holding the space around them in an airtight cage… except, anything could leave if it wanted to. That horribly built cage was filled with multiple, oftentimes moving ‘balls’ of different shapes, sizes, textures, and even materials. 

With their Mind Sense, Lei metaphorically turned and twisted the cage around in their hand to gain a mental image of each ‘ball’ as their weight shifted and rolled or bumped around. Lei only passively sensed the minds, rather than needing to actively ‘roll the not-very-constricting cage,’ but it was the best analogy they had to explain the feeling. 

Now that I’m thinking about it, the cage is actually a horrible analogy. A hollow box with rolling balls in it is much more appropriate… except, my awareness is actually a sphere itself, so… Ah, I’m getting distracted again.

With their Mind Sense reactivated, Lei quickly thought back to what they’d seen through their limited time with a literal bird’s-eye-view, and remembered seeing multiple lone Contestants close by before the Tentacle Incident. This time however, Lei realized that such a cowardly strategy was too slow, and likely was the same in essence as every other Spy Candidate’s strategy. To stand out in this competition and even have a chance at winning, Lei needed to take a risk and try something that only they could do. 

Hm… Maybe I could try kill-stealing? I could be good at that…

With the foundations of a plan forming in their mind, Lei started in the direction of the huge lightning blast earlier by concentrating their mind on the feeling of a little lizard hiding under a rock at the edge of their awareness at 3 o’clock . Molding their consciousness, Lei linked their ‘cage’ to the presumed lizard, pushing their domain of awareness onto it as if it were an island that their psychic mind could hop onto.

With the distance from Lei’s body the range of the new cage of awareness surrounding the lizard only expanded to just a bit more than nine meters, while Lei’s own radius around their person remained the same. The creature being only a lizard had no effect; even some rare magic plants and fungi had enough of a mind for Lei to form a link with, though controlling them was another matter. They mostly only linked to its mind to use as a cheat guiding system to move their awareness, because they were a horrible talent at Astral Projection.  

Lei moved on to the next mind that was nine meters further from the lizard and still in the direction of 3 o’clock. The new Mind Link was probably an ant, judging by the line of tiny similar minds surrounding it. The Mind Sense surrounding the insect now shrunk to about seven meters, due to the exponential decrease with distance. This time however, Lei got lucky and found a mind up in the trees that was probably a bird that hadn’t yet fled. Its presence in their mind felt a bit strange, but they quickly snagged the opportunity while it was still there. Now linked to the new… bird? Whatever it was, Lei quickly bombarded it with a strong Suggestion to fly further into the forest, and they added a bit of irrational fear toward the mountain to make it easier. 

Anyone remotely sapient would be able to realize their mind was being messed with so crudely. The bird might have even figured out that something was wrong with such a sudden change to its thoughts and emotions, but it still trusted its instincts and bolted regardless.

The Mind Sense around the bird quickly shrank down as they flew away from Lei’s body, so they closed their eyes and instead tapped into the birds’ sight. It took a moment to find the right mental signature, as if fumbling for the right keys in a lock, but Lei had done this enough times with a variety of minds to grow a sense for it. Surely enough, a new stream of vision quickly opened to their senses with a mental click, disorienting them for a second as they were met with a single eye that could see bright traces of some kind of mana circulating through the forest. 

Lei quickly tapped into the creature’s sense of touch as well, and realized they’d been a bit too hasty to make the link; they had Mind Linked with some kind of huge eyeball with furry eyelids and invisible appendages for floating. 

Seeing through supernatural eyes was beautiful, and the now glowing sunset yellow forest was absolutely breathtaking, but they didn’t understand what it meant. Lei could already tell they’d be getting a headache controlling this thing, but beggars couldn’t be choosers, and they were quickly closing in on a patch of fire and destruction near 2 o’clock now. 

They quickly set to work crafting an illusion, and the creature that they nicknamed Gaze’s vision split into two versions of reality in Lei’s mind. One was the normal scenery with the patch of destroyed forest, and the other showed the illusion Lei crafted for the magic creature. The destroyed scenery faded away to ethereal fog, and revealed a normal section of the forest hosting a large tasty cocoon for Gaze to eat up. They didn’t have to craft the illusion like a masterful artwork in a fraction of a second; Lei mostly just had to tap into their own subconscious expectations of what the illusion would be like, as if they were dreaming and everything made complete sense unless they were given reason to doubt. 

Eat up, Gaze. Go on, you can do it... Sigh, guess the gold magic sight isn’t for nothing. 

Unfortunately, Lei’s understanding of reality wasn’t always congruent with the other persons’. They had experienced what felt like hundreds of different physical and magical senses in their training, but to say the world was a diverse place would be the understatement of the millenia. Lei had hoped for the best by mimicking the sight of a demonic cube they’d encountered once, but that seemed to just make Gaze even more scared than before. Lei wouldn’t even try fully simulating this weird golden vision, but maybe just a little touch here and there would be fine?

Frowning mentally at the inevitable drain of their mental energy, Lei forcefully clamped down on Gaze’s fear and suppressed their reasoning while simultaneously molding the illusion to get rid of some of the sickly yellow color that probably denoted the fire. Luckily that was enough to get it to listen to their Suggestion to not avoid the area, though judging from Lei’s vague read on its emotions, it was starting to get fear for its own sanity. 

Lei made sure it didn’t act on that confusion, and prompted Gaze to fly a bit higher and out of sight, where they finally laid an eye on the center of all the explosions from earlier. In the middle of a large and scorched forest clearing with random broken weapons littered all over the ground, a group of four Contestants stood around a creek. 

After wrangling with Gaze to make him look at the area while also not seeing what was happening, Lei noticed that the group was split into two teams standing at opposite sides of a small creek. On one side of the battle there was a large tanned woman clad in purple electricity, and on the other side was a team of a humanoid cloud, a long blue fish floating in the air, and a large suit of black leather armor worn by a bright shimmer in the air that looked vaguely humanoid. Lei named them all Lightning, Cloud, Fin, and Leather accordingly. The lineup was a beautiful display of diversity and all, but that wasn’t a good thing if it meant Lei couldn’t easily tap into and/or mess with their senses.

Stay put right here, Gaze. I need to see their powers.

After a brief tense silence, Leather charged forward and manifested a large poleax out of seemingly nowhere, explaining the various scorched weapons lying around. He also summonded a small black bomb of some sort and kicked it toward Lightning. Surprising Lei, the large woman kicked the bomb right back, which proceeded to explode into a surprisingly large amount of dusty earth onto Leather. Cloud made a motion with her fingers and a whirlwind gathered the dust away from her ally, but a flash of electricity zapped her before she could send it back at her opponent. 

Next, Fish hissed and summoned a bright red bubble around themselves before charging Lightning as if swimming through the air, and the barrier seemed to leave burns when Lightning punched him back. At the same time, Leather renewed a talisman on his armor that seemed to form a thin translucent barrier around him, before charging in to support his friend. As Lightning fended off the vanguard, Cloud began charging her own spell, or whatever her magic was, in between the palms of her hands. What came next would be the deciding moment of the battle, Lei knew instinctively. 

A wind bender, a guardian, an item holder, and a powerful lightning elemental. What can I do with this?

Currently this fight was about sixty meters from Lei’s body, so the Mind Sense’s range was completely limited to Gaze’s body. That meant only physical contact could establish a new connection now, and judging by his struggling, the little guy was starting to learn how to resist their Suggestion so there was no time to find a random squirrel to body-slam into. That meant Lei’s only options were the Contestants down below...

Cloud, Leather, and Fish might not count as physical contact, so that only leaves Lightning. 

After sending a quick apology to the magic beast, Lei braced themselves for the mental strain and again tapped into Gaze’s touch for the boldest technique in their entire reservoir; Puppeteering. Lei seized full control over Gaze’s entire body, including the magic parts that made him fly. The creature rapidly grew resistant with every second, so they quickly circled around toward Lightning’s blind spot and dive bombed into her back, though they forgot to turn the pain off for a second and felt a jolt of shared pain as Gaze rammed into her lightning clad body. That jolt was almost enough to make Lei accidentally lose their chance, but establishing a Mind Link was such a long mastered art of theirs that it came nearly instinctively at this point.

Now that they were linked, Lei’s previous sight through Gaze was cut off, and they could tell through Mind Sense that Lightning was startled from the sudden impact. Ignoring that for now, they acted quickly and established a two-way telepathic communication.

“Hello, I’m-“

“What? Hell!?” 

Lightning bombarded Lei with vague emotions and concepts that barely translated into words, making them slightly furrowed their brows. Unlike what most people imagined, Telepathy with an untrained stranger was actually a huge pain most of the time. It was to the point that Lei legitimately considered trying something else, but sadly, the technique was essential to their plan. 

“I’m a mentalist. Team?”

“Not hostile? Yes!”

“Okay, grab Leather Man and throw him to Cloud Girl.”

Lei didn’t bother disorienting themselves by tapping into Lightning's sight, and simply waited to pick up a new presence through physical contact. Lei almost sighed in relief when it turned out that contact did in fact let them Mind Link with Leather, even if they had a thin barrier. Not wasting time, Lei mentally contacted him.

“Hello, I’m-”

“The fuck!?” 

Lei mentally clicked their tongue; they’d been hoping that since Leather was seemingly a more magical lifeform in nature, they’d be more talented at telepathy, but this was even worse than Lightning.

“I’m a mentalist, team?”

“No asked for, outside help, threat!”

“Sorry, but you really do need help. I’m taking control.”

Not bothering to reason any further, Lei took a gamble and connected to his sight and touch. Contrary to expectation, Leather’s vision was actually shown as if through two completely normal eyes, and his body only felt like a numb human male’s. They saw through his vision that after a second of gathering his bearings from being thrown, Leather stood up and summoned a new spear to charge in toward lightning again. 

He didn’t even get to start though, since Lei immediately Puppeteered his body and turned him around. Cloud stood a few feet away from Leather, but they only managed to take three steps toward her until the man wrestled back control indignantly, making him stumble and fall to the ground before Lei could ever get close to touching her... 

Except this time, the Mind Sense around Leather was not limited to just his body. Leather’s senses fell away as Lei reached out to what was probably a worm in the ground that was thirty centimeters away, and from there they jumped roughly forty centimeters to land on Cloud herself. Lei’s mouth twitched into a grin as they swatted the branch in front of their original body’s face, continuing their run to the site of the battle. They’d had a few stumbles here and there, but all those years of splitting migraines weren’t for nothing and it only took about double the mental energy to single-mindedly run in one direction while using various psychic techniques; it was a bit like using two hands to play a piano if Lei had to describe it. After taking a split second to mentally celebrate, they began the same mental conversation for the third time. 

“Hi, I’m a mentalist.”

“Heard, from Jason.” 

Lei grinned contentedly in their mind at Cloud’s somewhat controlled thoughts and mentally updated Leather to Jason before tapping into her vision. The two glowing eyes on Cloud’s head worked just like regular ones, and they could see that Lightning had a gash in her shoulder and was repeatedly beating Fish back with smoking fists, though the both of them had slowed greatly from exhaustion. 

“I sense a spacial assassin hiding nearby. They’re targeting Fish!”

“What? Valid threat?”

After planting the idea in her mind, Lei connected to her hearing on top of vision and quickly crafted an illusion of their coworker Musa’s signature pink spacial rift in the air. The image twisted and molded to more accurately fit Cloud’s unconscious expectations, before swallowing Fish and vanishing just as a fake Lightning charged forward on the offensive. She stopped right where Fish had been standing, and turned her gaze to the surroundings with a suspicious look. 

The energy needed for this one trick would normally be great enough to make Lei dizzy, but priming Clouds’ expectation beforehand and using Lei’s own memory lessened the mental strain exponentially.

“Tris! Hello? What do we do about-” 

Just as Jason started to speak, fake Lightning’s eyes glared with determination as she lifted her arm clad in purple lightning toward the newly named Tris, and Lei mentally barked a command at her to attack.

“Gyaah!?”             

Following the sharp Suggestion from Lei, Tris screamed and released a violent explosion of hot wind pressure magically directed toward Lightning, but the illusion couldn’t keep up any longer. Tris looked on in bewilderment as the wind passed harmlessly through fake Lightning, and Fish slammed through a tree behind her. His bubble cracked open like an egg in the process and he weakly slumped down to the floor unconscious. 

The illusion blinked out of existence as if it was never there in the first place, and the real Lightning quickly zapped the daylights out of Tris, who got knocked out judging from the cutoff of her sight. By now Lei’s body had made it to what felt like a bit less than forty meters from the battle site, growing the Mind Sense around Cloud to a radius of more than three meters. That was more than enough to transfer back to Lightning using some worms and ants as intermediary bridges.

“...Haha, I’m back! Did I do well?”

“Very good! Pisces was annoying, burnt knuckles.”

Lei’s mood fell a tiny bit at the crudely filtered thoughts, but the high of the victory remained strong as they almost fully concentrated on running toward the clearing to get a good view of Lightning through the trees.

“Ah, so that was the fish’s name! Speaking of names, mine is Saeung, what’s yours?” Lei lied.

“Name’s Rena, good to meet Saeung! Team further?”

Finally, Lei could spot Rena’s eye-catching long platinum hair with their own eyes. They weren’t particularly out of breath from all the running, but the buzzy lethargy in their head was almost in its middle stages, slightly unhinging their thoughts and making them sometimes misplace their footing on the uneven terrain. 

“Hold on, first can you please tell me if you’ve seen any assassin-like people or other threats?”

“Defeated all opponents, in the team with ex friends.”

“Great! I’m tapping into your eyesight right now, can you please look back at Pisces to see if he’s getting up?”

Rena turned her back to Lei’s section of the forest, walking up to the fallen tree to see if Pisces was still lying on the floor. After waiting until she was standing still, Lei finally knocked their arrow; their back muscles pulled and strained as they used their thumb ring to pull the drawstring all the way back to full draw, and they looked with both eyes at their target through the blurred sight, aiming accurately but still relaxing and letting their sight float and bob. Noting the lack of wind, Lei quickly centered the aim and released the drawstring with zero hesitation. 

Despite being a recurve bow, not a sound was made from the snapping of the string; the only sign of anything happening was the low whistle of the arrow slicing through the air at about 300 ft per second, far more than any human can achieve without magic. Rena let out a loud, heartbreaking cry that was befitting of her large figure while her aura of lightning automatically reactivated in a last minute defense that failed to protect her. Rena immediately collapsed to the ground holding her right calf, which had burst into a mess of gore as the shot completely pierced through the hard muscle and landed in the ground a meter away. 

After calmly lowering their bow, Lei turned and jogged away with a frown. That wasn’t their first experience backstabbing an innocent stranger, but the violence of it this time was unpleasant to look at. Not one to let emotions get in the way, they quickly replaced Rena’s hearing and sight with an illusion of an undisturbed forest in Lei’s direction to conceal their presence and continued the act.

“Oh my god I’m so sorry… I’m such an idiot, I always get fucking distracted. You need to surrender with a wound like that, the administrators will quickly teleport you to a healing center. Don’t worry, I’ll avenge you I promise.”

“Stop! Don’t abandon me, please…!”

With that burst of crude desperate emotion, Lei slowed their awkward run to a halt. They were used to the guilt of leaving innocent strangers behind for their own benefit. They could also ignore their fears and be brave to protect their loved ones or ideals, or even push past their own biases to consider the views of others. But the power of that one horrifyingly familiar line was more than enough to falter her step. Rena would be fully healed following her return, and she had more than enough strength left to defend herself and the others around her. So why was it that they couldn’t put one foot in front of the other and leave to recharge her mental energy? The answer was an obvious one, if incredibly stupid; Rena reminded them of their little brother, Zheng. 

Letting out a small breath, Lei impulsively turned back, dropped Rena’s illusion, and ran back to the clearing for no other reason than to selfishly assuage their own shame. It could be a trap, a last minute revenge plot, or even a waste of time that Lei could’ve better spent running back to her usual hiding spot and relaxing their mind. But in the face of a short term benefit, all of those future boons fell away in their mind.

“...Got it. I’m on my way.”

Sometimes, even if they tried to deny it, Lei couldn’t help but embrace just a tiny bit of their natural human tyranny.

 

 

 


Character Overview

Name: Rén Lei (last, first)

Author: Plantinapot - If you liked this chapter, check out their own story Our Death Flags Are the Least We’re Worried About.

Allegiance: Nova Ordo 

Age: 34

Race: Human 

Bio: Rén Lei is a Jingzhu refugee who escaped an authoritarian ruler to hide in Ibinia with their lover Cemile, and their little brother Zheng. While being hunted down across a country due to having knowledge of their sect’s powerful psychic techniques, they eventually joined Nova Ordo as a spy and learned of the Sage Coalition’s involvement with the ruler. Also, they’re gender neutral.

Personality: A creative and quick thinker in times of emergency, and they will use all resources available to achieve the best outcome. They try to be as logical and self aware as possible, but also have an impulsive tendency that they try to cope with constantly. In a similar vein, they deny and/or ignore a majority of their emotions, but actually have a large capacity for empathy if they aren’t focusing on other things. They are deeply afraid of vulnerability, but maintain their relationships with a few loved ones through self awareness and honesty.

Abilities: Lei is primarily a practitioner of mind magic. Very talented in martial arts and have trained since they were seven, but they have below average talent in Ki, and only have low levels of superhuman strength & constitution (like ¼ Captain America). They have trained in a few common weapons, and use a magically durable recurve bow as their primary weapon.

Psychic Powers:

  • Mind Sense - In a radius of 10 meters (33 ft.), gain an accurate sense of the minds of where every creature around them is, though they usually ignore insects and the like unless they get close to touching them. Can also sense general emotions. Mental energy isn’t spent, but it also can’t be regained if this is active.

  • Mind Link - While concentrating, can concentrate and move their mind to link to the nervous system of another creature who they can feel with <mind sense>. They can repeat this to move from mind to mind, but the range of their <mind sense> decreases the further from the body they get. The difference is exponential;

    • 20 meters away, <mind sense> lowers to 9 meters.

    • 30 meters away, <mind sense> lowers to 7 meters 

    • 47.5 meters away, <mind sense> lowers to zero, and they cannot extend their link to others without contact.

    • More distance only requires a little bit more concentration, the main limit is the shrinking mind sense. Theoretically, they can maintain a mind link from an endless distance, though if they break the link they’d need to get in contact again to re-establish it.

  • Psychic Limit - If powers are overused, Lei’s intelligence will become sluggish and distractible, and their emotions become unhinged. They start out by feeling something similar to being drunk or high, then start to feel lethargic, and finally start feeling a migraine. Their psychic control getting weaker or more clumsy is only a natural result of this effect. (Being sleep deprived has very similar chemical effects as drunkenness.)

In order of subtlety, powers when Linked include:

  • Shared Senses - While intensely concentrating, can choose to feel the senses of a Mind Linked creature/person. Can select any or multiple of the five(ish) senses. Can take large concentration to understand reptiles and insects, and too much can lead to a headache and/or power overuse that they have to shift concentration to assuage.

    • Usually chooses to not move and close eyes, ears, and/or nose to help mental strain, but may still move if they want to.

  • Illusion - Create a second view of shared senses. One shows normal sight/hearing/etc, and the second shows the illusion Lei crafted. Can trick the five senses, and even induce pain to some degree.

    • Must share senses before crafting an illusion. 

    • Illusions are somewhat molded by the victims’ unconsciousness.

    • Placebo effects and expectations of the victim can lessen costs of illusions. 

    • Once they realize the illusion, usually through an inconsistency of reality, it is dispelled as if they wake up from a dream.

  • Suggestion - Nudge a mind linked creature/person’s thoughts and/or amplify or suppress emotions. The stronger it is, the more noticable, and the person can resist over time.

  • Puppeteering - Using a ton of effort, they can forcefully take control of and move the person/creature’s body or certain body parts. Lei must at least tap into the creature’s sense of touch. It is very disorienting or difficult if it’s something weird like an insect or magic creature. Extremely likely to be noticed apart from extremely subtle changes. Can only be used in short bursts; the enemy quickly learns to resist it.

  • Telepathy - Standard two-way mental communication. It’s annoying to interpret most untrained people’s thoughts, but it doesn’t cost much mental energy.

  • Psycho-pneumatic Domination - Requires 5~ seconds of charging. The opponent will realize something big is happening (charge time can be greater if hitting Psychic Limit).

    • Lei’s last resort, and the sect’s newest technique. A battle of wills to subvert the others’ consciousness in a complete body takeover.

    • Lei would usually be more advantaged at mental combat, but they also have to cut off their own senses to do this while the other person still has a small capacity to move (move as if they are heavily drugged).

    • Lei and the opponent enter a shared mindscape and summon manifestations of their identity to fight against each other. Physical/magical strength is just another part of the person’s self image, nothing more. When one person starts losing, their ‘image’ of themselves changes to be more like the aggressor. Some degree of memory sharing is nearly a guarantee on both sides.

    • Technique will just fail if Lei is incapacitated in the process, but they can only manually shut it off if both people wish for it.

    • The winner will split their consciousness between both bodies and share senses until the mental strain becomes too much to handle and they drop control, and how long depends on the person. The loser is practically unconscious. Lei is very touchy with the technique, and will only use it if they feel desperate and personally threatened, or for therapeutic purposes with someone they trust.

Weapons: 

  • Silent Bow: Magically silent recurve bow with effective range of 50 meters, but can shoot hundreds of meters technically. A draw weight of 120 pounds (Average adult male is 60-70). Can shoot 30 times accurately without being fatigued, if they had to. Lei uses the thumb draw technique, and their thumb ring is made of magic leather.

  • Arrows: Lei carries several different kinds of arrows.

    • 2 Link Arrows: Covered with a thin layer of white/clear magic slime mold that Lei can Mind Link with. Once this arrow makes contact (including some clothing and armor, but metal armor or just grazing loose clothing doesn’t count), Lei can quickly establish a mind link to the opponent.

    • 4 Red Arrows: Same as normal arrows, but can be used to induce placebo effects and literal red herrings.

    • 12 Normal Arrows: A bit heavier than normal, but nothing strange.

  • Elite Jian: A two-handed and double bladed sword with a small guard, all made of enchanted white jade.

  • Dagger: A dagger made of a durable black metal, tucked in the boot for desperate times. 

  • Belt Pouch: Lei keeps some additional equipment in a small pouch attached to their belt.

    • 1 chili grenade, extremely irritating to eyes and nose, bursts in a three foot radius.

    • 1 smoke grenade, twenty foot radius, but takes some time to let it all out.

    • 3 Uses of Poisonous Coating that can muddle the target’s mind, weaken them, and make them susceptible to pain.

    • 1 Use of Deadly Poison that inflicts burning pain and slows heart rate and breathing.

  • Small Backpack: Lei additionally has a small backpack that stores the last of their gear.

    • Their arrows are strapped to the outside.

    • Extra smoke bomb.

    • Rations and waterskin.

Appearance: Overall androgynous. Chin length straight black hair, black eyes, asian face, pale skin, wears a camo cloak and practical clothing (depending on the battlefield). Average height (5’3), ambiguous chest.

How they got recruited: Nova Ordo wanted to send a disposable yet skilled spy to be one of the tournament candidates, and Lei passed a test to be deemed the best candidate by using a bolder strategy than the others, improving quickly as time passed. Though it was unspoken, Lei’s display of empathy also tipped the scales a bit compared to the second best candidate.

 

We've just hit 16 out of 16 authors! That means we're all filled up on character slots. We'll still be accepting backup authors in case anyone drops out, but for now, we're ready to jump right in to the battles after all the character chapters have been posted.

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