— BODY & SHADOW — a post-cyberpunk danmei soap opera 

In a time before living memory, the King Dragon of the Void watched the world and realized there was a crack. He realized that humanity was destroying the rock upon which they lived; they leaked life’s code into the churning chaos. At first the change was imperceptible: nanites overtook microorganisms, bacteria, viruses, amoebas. Insects became increasingly inorganic; birds and lizards followed soon after. Even humans were infected by their own advances, cell by cell, till there was not a person left on earth who wasn’t at least part synthetic, the product of a prior generation’s carelessness. 

The world’s population was ravaged by mechanical viruses with no vaccines; they were mercilessly overtaken by bacteria that knew no death. Soon, most of the planet was empty and only a handful remained who remembered the hedonist realm they came from; only a few were left who remembered what the world looked like when their buildings touched the sky.

The King Dragon of the Void watched the rock turn. He watched humans cower as the Old World fell down around them; watched their great monuments crumble into dusty ruins; watched their codes become precious, ancient gem memories forged under the crushing pressure of so many fallen stones.

The world has spun many times around the sun since chaos swallowed man whole. It is a simpler time than the one that died out, but the people now are not immune to the folly of the people before. There is old code everywhere: in the water, in the air, in the trees. The heart of man has been replaced by power cores, many of which are hard-coded with preternatural abilities—when they die, an esoteric mountain sect collects their cores and stores them in their hollow mountain home to preserve the sanctity and dignity of human death. They’ve learned to harness artifacts of the old world, gemstones full of codes their nanite infused bodies can parse as spells imbuing their users with great power; they inlay them into their bodies, into their skins, connected to their cores by copper conduit and gold tracers; they dress themselves in tattoos to advertise their prowess; they battle for relics in arenas, fight for them in the open world wherever they are found. 

The King Dragon of the Void watches the rock turn and wonders:

when will this hunger finally make the rock stop spinning?

— WELCOME TO FANXING CITY —

Twenty-five years ago, Fanxing City and the surrounding lands were commanded by the mad King Zao Beiguan. For many years, the King hoarded wealth, artifacts, food; he demanded tribute from a people already taxed to the edges of their existence and expected they be happy with their circumstances. Noncompliance was often punished harshly, bodies displayed proudly on Fanxing’s streets as a warning, from the city gates to the Zao palace’s golden doors. 

The youths of several prominent clans came together to overthrow the tyrant and made names for themselves as legendary heroes across the land: Tian, Ren, Feng, Gui, Ma, and Zhenxi. Even wanderers from the Luanshi sect descended from Yunji mountain to aid the rebellion. 

When the dust settled after three years, Tian Yunyong ascended the throne of Fanxing and swore to honour his slain father’s memory, and has maintained Fanxing’s peace with generosity and mercy where fear and cruelty once reigned. 

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