Exalted: In A Mirror Darkly
To know Grahf’s story is to know the tale of his and Fei Wong’s shared youth at an Immaculate monastery. There, they trained with a large class of similar students, as is customary for the region. All the monastery’s students were likely to receive the favor of the Dragons, and the training was designed to prepare them for the day of their exaltation, and beyond. But as the years dragged on, it became clear that neither Fei Wong nor Grahf would receive such favor. It was at this point that a much older student, Shodan, approached them. He too, had not been blessed by the dragons, and while he was allowed to stay in the monastery, he was no longer allowed to train with the other students, or receive instruction from the masters. This would be Fei’s and Grahf’s fate, as well, but Shodan had taught himself a great deal, and wanted to pass that knowledge on to them.
The boys accepted his training, achieving great feats of martial arts. While paling in comparison to the Dragon Blooded masters, their skills were still formidable. In another time and place, they would have been legendary. But this was not enough for Shodan. He desired the Dragon’s Blood. Already, his body was beginning to grow stiff and weak with age. In desperation, he had searched the most ancient and perilous of tomes to find a way to escape his fate… and at last, he succeeded. “Soul Transference Method”, the technique was called. Using this, he would be able to steal another’s body… swap his soul with theirs. It was a fiendish technique… long forbidden by all the schools of martial arts. It is unknown how Shodan learned of it’s power, but driven by his desire for excellence and immortality, Shodan abandoned his morality and used the technique. He ambushed a young Dragon Blooded master, stole his body, and rejoiced in his new power.
Already a formidable martial artists and essence user, armed with the considerably greater power of Dragon Blooded essence, he was able to devastate the masters and students of the monastery. In the end, only two remained… Grahf and Fei Wong. The three did battle, and in the process, Fei Wong exalted as a Dragon of Water. Seeing this, Grahf knew a moment of sadness and jealousy as his friend so quickly left him behind in power, but continued the fight anyhow. Seeing that he would not win, Shodan seized upon Grahf’s hesitation to deliver one final piece of revenge to his former students… he used a technique which forcibly burned the secret of Soul Transference Method into Grahf’s mind. In time, he knew, Grahf would age, and use this forbidden power.
The temple destroyed and their comrades all dead, Grahf and Fei Wong left to seek new lives for themselves. For many years they journeyed, learning all they could of the martial arts. For a time, Grahf’s determination and natural born talent allowed him to keep pace with his friend. But, as the years passed, Fei Wong became stronger and stronger. And while he was beginning to comprehend the secrets of his first Celestial Martial Art, (a power no mortal could master), Grahf’s age began to show.
For years, jealous over his friend’s Exaltation had worn at Grahf’s mind. He worked so very hard, from dusk until dawn, just to keep up with techniques his friend mastered at a leisurely pace. Even then, Fei Wong’s efforts would eclipse his own on a semi-regular basis, though Fei Wong would never admit it. All because the Dragons had chosen Fei Wong, and spurned Grahf. Slowly but surely, dedication turned to doubt, persistence turned to anger, friendship turned to jealousy, and respect turned to hate.
One night, Grahf attacked Fei Wong, stealing his body away. And while Fei was, by this time, the greater of the two martial artists, the handicap of not being able to rely on such prodigious essence reserves resulted in his downfall. In each of Grahf’s blows that night, Fei Wong could sense the hatred and loathing Grahf felt… not for Fei Wong, but for his own weak, mortal body. Grahf beat that object of his anger into a bloody pulp, but stopped short of landing a fatal blow. To this day, Fei Wong is not certain why.