僊 Pronunciation: ɕiɛn (While the pinyin is "Xian", the Wade-Giles transliteration "Hsien" may be a better pronunciation guide.)
A priest of the Wandering Path, Xian is a slightly built pale-skinned young woman, maybe 20 years old at most, with a clear, soft voice and a twinkle in her jade green eyes. She usually wears a cloth hat, a loose long-sleeved green silk tunic tied with a blue sash, white socks, and black shoes with white soles and a white V-shaped stripe on the front. She has a scarlet gown that she wears for formal rituals. In the World Above she appears as a shovel.
|Hit Points||HP = 45 (Health + Energy) * 5|
|Move||Move = 4 (Strength + Energy) / 2|
|Skill Name||Cost Per Level||Levels||Total Cost|
|Sleight of Hand||3||2||6|
|This is That||3||5||15|
|KS: Spirit/Demon World||5||4||20|
|KS: Wandering Path||2||4||8|
|KS: Chi Mastery||2||1||2|
|I Ching Mastery||3||5||15|
- Clothing as described above
- The Four Treasures of the Study: ink brush, ink stone, inkstick, rice paper
- Composite bow (wood, bone, animal tendon) and arrows
- Medical kit: acupuncture needles, mugwort, other herbal formulas, open glass spheres for reverse-pressure massage, tribo-effleurage spoon
- Some ceremonial stuff
- Utility knife
- A guzheng
- A piece of fine paper bearing well-executed calligraphy of the characters 感谢 ("Thanks") and 生命 ("Life"), with Hana's personal chop in the lower right corner (a gift from Hana after Fire_and_Ice)
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Xian is working on a simple magic act for the circus. In Xian's opinion, there are three basic principles at work: misdirection, illusion, and forcing.
Misdirection is the art of diverting attention, i.e., distraction. For example, slow circular hand motions tend to draw and hold attention, while fast, straight gestures are used to move the point of attention from one spot to another. Social cues are somewhat important -- the audience will look wherever the performer looks -- but more important is to know that attention is highly independent of gaze; you can be looking straight at something and miss it, yet catch the same motion out of the corner of your eye.
One valuable guideline is to not tell your audience what you are about to do. The more prior detail people have about what they're looking for, the more likely they are to spot it.
Another very important technique is humor; people who are laughing are paying attention to almost nothing at all. They may as well have their eyes closed.
If you conduct your misdirection effectively, people who are extraordinarily perceptive will not have any better chance to see through your trick than anyone else. Very perceptive people have greater powers of concentration and attention, which requires that they have greater ability to block out all that is irrelevant. Successful misdirection reclassifies something as irrelevant, thus making all the concentration in the world of no help at all.
It is natural to equate our perception with reality, but there is a vast chasm between them. Our eyes give us images of the world around us, but our minds tell the stories about what the images mean. One example: Zhi Shi-da of Huang Liang has discovered that the eye has a "blind spot", a small area in your field of view where your eye cannot see. We are not aware of it, as our mind fills it in with a reasonable guess as to what goes there, and it does so with such speed that we are not at all conscious of it.
The essence of illusion is to create conditions under which the reasonable guess is incorrect. For example, toss a ball in the air, once, twice, three times -- poof! It's gone! How? The third toss closely mimics the action of the first two, with identical hand movements and eye movements. Our eye may not be able to follow the ball precisely as it is tossed, so our mind fills in intermediate images of the ball as makes sense. But the third time there is no actual ball, yet despite this, we see one briefly, until the mind realizes that the eye is not reporting any ball.
Forcing is in general more difficult than misdirection and illusion, but has the potential to be far more effective. Forcing is creation of the appearance of choice where there is none.
Music and Mathematics
Xian plays the guzheng with minimal skill. She is especially interested in the recent work of Lèirú Quán-yǒng on the Equal Temperament of Fifty-Three, relying on Master Lèirú's discoveries that 353 ≈ 284, 363 ≈ 543, and 531 ≈ 272 (and of course 31+53=84, 31+84=43+72, and 63-53=53-43). Moreover, 38 · 5 ≈ 215 and 26 · 35 ≈ 56.
Boats are usually cursed.