From the west, crumpled mountains chined through the clouds, punishing any foe who believed to have the ability to pass through them unscathed.
From the east, a vast horizon extended beyond what the human eye could see, giving place to land so fertile no famine would ever occur. As far as water was concerned, no shortage had taken place down to where records go, and the same thing could be said about meat and fish.
Although the sun would set early as a consequence of the contrasting occidental highlands, grain grew abundantly and nights were well spent.
This is the city of Fai Ki, one of the oldest and latest known pillars of the human race. Its foundation dates more than 1000 years ago, and despite having taken part in hundreds of wars, this small 2 million people center remained always standing, not having undergone any kind of major power shift during the meantime. While to most people's knowledge no one is alive to narrate how things truly happened, it is said that within the mountains lies Fai Ki, the founder and savior of Fai Ki City who, as a last resort measure, was forced to erect the Western Range, giving birth to a territory that would no longer easily suffer from monstrous intervention.
As such, despite it being safely guarded, all of the men and women in the city are required to go through formal fighting training. Danger is always imminent and considering most people have what it takes to fight anyway, training is seen as not only a necessity but also a ritual, one that signifies a rise to adulthood, seeing that most people opt to title themselves "fighters" after the age of 13, age at which most people get done with their studies.
There are, though, schools where one could fully dedicate themselves to the "study of the beast and the sword". These schools were scarce and usually frequented only by the elite of society, the descendants of Elder families. It was quite the simple system - other than the City Ruler, a title bestowed by the people to whoever they thought deserved to be the ruling one, the place of other families was well fixed within that gigantic community:
- The Ruler Family, governing and most important party of Fai Ki, was tasked with overseeing every matter that concerned the city and its people. It was usually affiliated with one of the Elder Families, although the current Ruler was a commoner who had risen all the way to that rank, inspiring many, gaining the trust of thousands along the way, and earning a spot in what could be called the most important seat in the city's ranks. The Ruler also has the power to create and change laws at will, losing his own title only after either dying or abdicating it. However, this overbearing power sometimes caused the inhabitants of Fai Ki to go through some rougher periods, which could be only stopped by ending the life of whoever was in charge at the time;
- The Elder Families, nobility of Fai Ki City and second only rulers of the territory, are the truly strongest families in Fai Ki. There exist a total of four different Elder Families, with all of them being part of one big family: the Ki Family - in other words, the Elder Families are nothing but the Ki Family itself or branch families of the former. Each family specializes in something and does not directly interfere with each other's business, maintaining the existent power balance balanced and ensuring that the Ki Family prospers as the most important family in the city;
- The Titled Families, made up of almost half of the entire territory's population, are filled with people from all sorts of backgrounds and riches, situating themselves usually in the middle classes. In order to become a Titled Family, a family member would have to either receive a very important title and therefore raising the overall rank of the family (such as Ruler, if the family was not part of the Elder Group), or have many of its members be awarded a lower title of some kind, allowing for a graduation ceremony to happen. Though it's important to know that there has been, so far, no instance of a Titled Family rising to the rank of Elder Family, with the graduation to Titled Family being difficult enough as it is;
- And last but sadly least, the bottom of the bottom, the Common Families. Common Families have no actual benefits in society - in fact, they are often the ones who suffer more at the hands of the Ruler and Elder Families, as they make for incredibly easy targets: in case of war, they are forced to constitute the front lines, paying no mind to past training or skill; they are not allowed to marry anyone who is also not a commoner, which makes the graduation process close to impossible; whenever a family member receives a title, they are often either bought to a new family, therefore strengthening the ranks of the already strong families, or they suffer from "divine retribution", the so-called punishment of those who try to "defy the ways of the Heaven", as the Ki family calls it. With the rise of a past commoner to the seat of the city though, things are looking less and less bleak for those whose place in society is that badly rooted, since many of these past established laws and rules could and hopefully be now removed by the current Ruler.
It is though in the Northern Fighting Institute, the least prestigious of the 8 fighting schools in the entire city where rank, status, and origin are of no mind, that the 16-year-old fight loving Rai lives and studies as a full-time student, hoping to one day make a name for himself and his true family.
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