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The creator of this page would recommend that you read this section first, in order to best understand the character. Please also be warned that this page features work which may be sensitive and/or mature, including: death, grief, suicide ideation, and obsession.
Quotation1.png farewell to the ash of the day, surrounded gently by dusk; this world is only as dark as you want it to be

the neon silhouettes float like ghosts; faintly, this city holds a fallen beauty

Zhu Xunfei [he/him], known professionally as Vanegray, is the next Aduan from the fairytale Rose of Evening. He is currently attending his Fourth Year at Ever After High. He aligns Roybel.

Model, actor, crown prince of Guangtome, and most recently, Ever After High student. What can’t Xunfei do? Stay in a relationship! The Prince of Willow-Sprays is a lighthearted young man, famous for his charm and infamous for his ever-lengthening string of exes.

Underneath his sunny exterior, however, is a secret he doesn’t know how he’ll keep; it’s the skeleton in his closet, the heart under his floorboards, the portrait in his study. For you see, Xunfei is not who friends, family, or millions of fans think he is.

Finally free of existence only as someone’s shadow (literally), Xunfei navigates his teen years armed with love. Love for himself, love for the people around him, and love for the world that he is now a part of.

Character

Personality

Quotation1.png 'darling,' he says, 'we might survive the night.'

notes for the rewrite

  • superstitions, man (tale this is for you)
  • i think xunfei himself is unaware of this but he has a very quiet fragility and resentment underneath everything
    • tfw your ocs end up as the unknown and unknowable woman trope. damb.
    • i'll.. course correct that
  • there’s things i think are outdated about his current personality section
accurate as a whole, though still due for a rewrite

Zhu Xunfei, or rather, Vanegray, keeps the rumor mill employed. If it isn’t his latest girlfriend, then it’s his latest boyfriend, or the new drama he’s shooting, or the club he was spotted at. The fact is, Xunfei is someone who’s constantly in the spotlight.

And well, why wouldn’t he be? Over the past few years, Xunfei has skyrocketed to fame, acting in several award-winning movies, modeling for countless brands and magazines, and simply going viral for his looks. He’s the willow-spray prince, the crown jewel of Guangtome. And because he’s so well known, most people could give you an accurate rundown of his personality.

Xunfei is, above all, charming. He’s friendly and sociable, and rarely appears without some sort of positive emotion that is very pleasant to look at on his face. He’s a suave city boy, a natural with crowds, knowing how to flatter others without it feeling like empty sweet talk. Balancing sophistication and casual relatability, Xunfei is able to seem accomplished, but approachable all the same.

Others flock to him like moths to a flame, like Icarus to the sun. There is something compelling about his aura, something so dazzling and almost unbearable to look at for more than a few moments, but captivating and comforting all the same. That is the nature of Xunfei.

Quotation1.png chiara was the chief, gwen was the guide, xunfei was the centre.

though, unlike a centre, he shed more light than warmth


Suppose that a celebrity has 3 different personas (their public professional, their public “real”, and their true real). We’d run into an interesting situation. As we’ve seen, Xunfei is pretty standard fare when it comes to the eyes of the general public. His fans (dubbed, rather creatively, FeiFeis) get to see his public “real” personality. To them, Xunfei encompasses the "older brother" image best.

He’s caring and affectionate, but frequently playful and informal. While that gives him an air of relatability, it’s interspersed with enough frivolous spending and partying to remind his fanbase of the distance between them, solidifying his image as a rich city boy. And when the quiet professionalism of his public professional persona is offset by a moment of silliness, it’s a break in “character” that FeiFeis find most endearing. He’s romantic and courteous and boyishly earnest and incredibly genuine and well, he’s perfect.

But underneath all that is the real Xunfei, someone who’s… actually quite similar! Huh. It comes as a surprise to those who expect him to be rude, or boring, or just plain different, but Xunfei is exactly the same in public and in private. Some wonder if he’s just really good at acting all the time (but then they remember his performance in Kiss of Death and decide, no).

Part of why he’s able to maintain his sincerity to his personality on camera is because, well, he’s privileged. Xunfei’s status as literal royalty means his managers are hesitant to reprimand him or force him to do things he doesn’t really want to do. His mother has never been the most controlling either, not after that one spring. If Xunfei wants to say this in an interview or Xunfei wants to shoot that commercial or Xunfei wants to wear this specific shirt or Xunfei wants to run around with that actress, then Xunfei will.

It would be harsh to say that very rarely does Xunfei stop to think about the consequences of his actions. It would be harsh, but it wouldn’t be untrue. He is not a malicious person, not by nature nor by intent, but he simply doesn’t realize he can do bad things without meaning to. Despite his attempts to work on his mindfulness of others, how others are affected by him will slip his mind if he does not actively put it at the forefront of his mind.

Quotation1.png xunfei had, in fact, that animation of youth which may be called the beaute du diable of the mind. later on, this disappears like the playfulness of the kitten, and all this grace ends, on two legs, and with the tomcat, on four paws.


Now obviously, Xunfei isn’t an exact carbon copy of his public “real” image. But he’s very close. When he is truly off camera, he tends to be somewhat quiet, preferring to let others take the lead. This is because Xunfei genuinely likes listening to his friends talk about their passions, their struggles, their lives. Get him riled up, though, and you’ll see how talkative he can be!

See, the thought that he should keep some sort of formality or distance with strangers never really enters his mind; Xunfei is undoubtedly open, wearing his heart on his sleeve no matter the situation. Ever since he entered Ever After High, the public has gotten more glimpses of him being himself, and as a result the lines between his public and private personas have blurred even more.

He’s impulsive, he’s clingy, and he gets envious easily. He dotes on everyone he possibly can and requires daily doses of hugs and cute things in order to function. He likes to amuse and be amused, and is obliviously observant. He’s fiercely protective of and terribly tender to his loved ones, and teases with every other breath he takes. He’s slow to anger but struggles to control his temper when he does, and easily holds grudges. He flirts with everyone (single and in his age bracket, despite what rumors say) in his vicinity and leaves broken hearts wherever he goes.

And that is the Xunfei that people know.

That’s all very good and all, but so far we’ve really only heard about Xunfei from others. What does our Prince of Willow-Sprays have to say about himself?

Quotation1.png how i would describe myself in three words? handsome, handsome, handsome~ *laughs*

Xunfei in an interview with Bean Vogue

Appearance

Xunfei likes his face a lot.

Objectively, it’s a pretty nice face. Well-groomed, symmetrical, and very, very photogenic. Ozmapolitan, Cinder-Elle, and Vogue Lullabina all certainly seem to agree.

Let’s put it this way: Xunfei likes having a face a lot. To go from being nothing but a silhouette, pressed flat across the ground and stepped on by others, to a tangible… existence. That he could feel. And… control. To go from being the ghost of another person, to being able to look in a mirror and see yourself, no, really see yourself. Not someone else. Being able to wink and see the person in the mirror — yourself — wink back and knowing you could scream or cry, and you really would!

Frankly, it’s overwhelming, but Xunfei loves it all the same. And the fact that other people find him attractive just sweetens the deal. He could do nothing but sit and people would notice him, think of him, even if just for a moment. Any sort of attention is attention, after all. It is cold, hard proof that his existence leaves impact upon the universe, in the most mundane of ways.

Quotation1.png film noir handsome, with the sort of face that made people want to see him burn.


That being said, Xunfei is a handsome young man of Hakka Chinese descent. He stands tall (slightly shorter when the sun is higher in the sky) at 6’0” (183 cm), with a relatively athletic build. His warm complexion is gloriously sun-kissed, magically clear thanks to the skin care regimen prescribed to him. Weirdly devoted fans will tell you that he has a few distinctive moles: one above his right eyebrow, one on his right jawline, three around his upper lip, and one underneath his left eye. (I, his creator, will tell you that I always forgot to draw them.) He wears a friendship ring on his left pinky.

Xunfei has a relatively square jaw and a tall nose. His jawline is best compared to a slightly out of tune piano — sharp. His philtrum is very pretty, and his lips slightly curl up at the corners, adding to his cat-like features. While he may look relatively aloof when silent, that all gets thrown out the window when he smiles, all radiant and heart-shaped. It’s rarely with his mouth closed, because otherwise he can’t show off his perfect teeth (those braces were good for something)!

His natural hair color is black and he’s been dying his hair because well. He can. It’s currently a royal purple, which he likes the most, and he's surprisingly attentive about touch-ups! His eyebrows are dark, usually left undyed out of convenience. At one point during his fourth year, Xunfei will dye his hair back to black, seemingly possessing no interest in continuing to color his hair.

Xunfei’s eyes are dark brown and slightly downturned, with honey-amber pupils that are vertical like a cat’s. Of course, you would never know that because they are almost always completely dilated, so enchanted with the world that they want to take in every bit of it. They generally have a self-described “drowsy” look to them, despite the alertness of their sparkling gold color. They’re framed with gold eyelashes, bringing to mind sun rays or something equally fiery, and often mirthful.

When he is still, he can be likened to a painting. More often, he is found in motion; skipping, jogging to play catch-up, captured mid-air with his limbs extended like a star.

If Xunfei seems overly concerned with his appearance, it’s probably because he is.

Interests

Romance

Quotation1.png am i not sensitive, clever, well-mannered, considerate,
passionate, charming, as kind as i'm handsome,
and heir to the throne?


It’s safe to say that love is what Xunfei wants most in this world.

More than anything, he wants True Love. Xunfei has somewhat of an unhealthy obsession with the concept of soulmates, certain that 1) his soulmate is out there in the world and 2) without them, his existence has virtually no meaning. Thus, he devotes a lot of his time and energy to romance.

Xunfei enjoys reading romance novels (and terrible fanfiction), watching romance dramas, practicing his delivery on all sorts of pickup lines and compliments, picking out date outfits for every occasion, so on and so forth. But as they say, experience is the best teacher. If so, our prince has learned a lot.

It’s unclear whether Xunfei’s track record with relationships should be considered good or bad, but it certainly is ...long (unlike the average lifespan of said relationships). If one were to hand write out a list of everyone he’s ever been romantically involved with, they’d surely end up with carpal tunnel. Even Blondie Lockes’s spreadsheet, created due to popular demand, is missing a few entries.

Statistically, Xunfei’s relationships have a 60% rate of discovery by the press, and a 90% rate by Ever After High students. FeiFeis are pretty polarized as a fandom when it comes to the topic of dating. Some of them support his relationships, some don’t, all for various reasons. His partners will often come into the relationship nervous about fan reactions and being found out, but they’ll soon realize what they really need to worry about is Xunfei himself.

He’s not a bad boyfriend, let’s make that clear. In fact, Xunfei is an incredible textbook boyfriend. He’s attentive, doting, and always makes sure that his partner feels loved and wanted. But under examination, his eagerness is tinged with desperation, often causing his partners to feel suffocated. See, Xunfei does not enter a relationship, he throws himself into it, headfirst.

Quotation1.png passion dies, but i'd kill for that thrill of first love


Xunfei dates not because he wants to have fun or the attention of a hot person (though those are very good too, don’t get him wrong). He dates because he’s looking for The One, that is, The One with a long “e” sound. And that’s all fine and good maybe, except his perception of what a soulmate is is completely distorted by fantasies.

Xunfei believes that if you are truly meant to be with someone, the universe will let you know. Immediately. Well, as soon as possible. Maybe give or take a few days for processing? Anyways, exactly how he’s… not completely sure, but he knows there’ll be a sign! Fireworks in your heart, butterflies in your stomach, galaxies in your brain, the whole enchilada and more. Xunfei’s expecting nothing less of a miracle, something indescribable because it’s so personal and unprecedented. His expectations range from improbable to impossible, and his favorite one is that a red thread will appear between him and his destined partner.

His perception of romance is so colored by these superstitions and tropes that they are often what compels him to begin, and end, relationships. Their influence on them varies by the day, but you'd best believe Xunfei is always on the lookout for any signs that it's meant (or more commonly, not meant) to be.

If the slipper does not fit, then he leaves.

Now, Xunfei is tactless, but not heartless. In fact, it is because his heart is so big that it tramples all over the hearts of others. He rightfully feels guilty about breaking off his relationships, and so combats it with aggressive matchmaking. Xunfei knows no awkwardness, and finds it perfectly normal to set up dates for his exes, sometimes with each other. (If they bond over hating his guts, well, at least they’re bonding, right?)

Quotation1.png i'll wed and change my life
i'll laugh, i'll smile, i'll welcome cheer
the time is right, the men are near
now happiness and love appear


This behavior is an insidious, slow-acting poison, wrapped in chocolate hearts and sweet serenades. Not only is it self-destructive in the sense that Xunfei often pushes himself to physical limits (i.e. not sleeping enough) to get both his romantic and life responsibilities done, it also does lasting damage on his mindset. The beginning of every new relationship pushes him to be dependent on others' love and approval a little more than the last, the end of every new relationship reaffirms that he is undeserving of that love.

Deliberately, subconsciously, or a blend of both, Xunfei does not indicate he notices this.

When in a relationship, he looks for positive omens, making stretches if need be. Why wouldn't he? Wasn't it alright, if it just proved his love with What's-His-Face even more? As soon as he's freshly out of a relationship though (or once he entertains the idea that this may not be True Love), he begins to accelerate in reverse. Now, the warnings were all there, and it was obvious that the relationship was always doomed to fail.

In a way, Xunfei often shifts the blame of an unsuccessful relationship onto anything but his own inability to make a move without triple-checking with "fate" first. He never blames his partner, he just... can't entertain the idea that there is something wrong with his approach. Because, well, what does that say about him?

It's a strange sort of confirmation bias, where its only constants contradict each other. Fact: fate is never wrong. Fact: fate is never wrong... unless Xunfei interprets it wrong. Fact: Xunfei will find love.

Quotation1.png it's the promise of a perfect life
a perfect house, a perfect wife she'll be
it's the promise of a perfect star, who's me


Dating Xunfei is a ticking time bomb; you are accepting the fact that you will wake up one day to a Xunfei who doesn’t think being with you is worth it anymore. You will break up posthaste, and you’ll see him with someone else, someone else to receive the love in his eyes and the bouquet in his arms. And you’ll feel devastated, angry, worthless, like a toy that has been thrown away, even if you sort of knew it was coming.

And some day in the future, you’ll realize: you don’t feel sorry for yourself anymore. Instead, you’re sorry for him. For Xunfei, whose only want in this world is True Love; for Xunfei, who will never ever have it.

Cats

Perhaps he feels a sense of obligation? He can’t communicate with them, which is just hella bummer, but he’s determined to, somehow, befriend every cat that comes across his path. He loves them, they love him, and if there’s something Xunfei loves, it’s love. He adores their warm bellies and light-footed strides and velvety ears and especially their toothy yowls. His managers are always armed with lint rollers galore, and the amount of cat hair they’ve pulled off Xunfei is enough to make a rug.

Xunfei fills the rare days where he isn't busy by fostering kittens. This is something he's quite known for in the general public. He uses his influence as a celebrity to spread information about decreasing the amount of stray cats and litters each kitten season, along with finding forever homes for his fosters.

Food

You have to understand: Xunfei has no taste. He wasn’t able to eat for nine years, and was then suddenly thrown into a position where he had access to food from all over the world. As, effectively, a nine year-old. You do not let nine year-olds do that.

Basically, Xunfei is the antithesis of a picky eater, and finds food to be one of the highlights of life. Because of his career, he's careful not to overindulge, but he's also blessed with an unfairly fast metabolism. He is also a teenage boy so, y'know, bottomless stomach. Oftentimes, he'll have snacks of some sort hidden on his person, and he's quite generous with them so you can always ask him "for a piece of gum".

Not only does he like to eat, he also likes to cook! Being in the kitchen is a great source of comfort to Xunfei, not only because of the light and warmth and smells, but because he's creating something to be shared and enjoyed. Xunfei and Shua love to be in the kitchen together, experimenting with recipes or cooking for their friends. For someone so oblivious, he’s surprisingly good at picking up subtle flavors.

Acting and Modeling (Career)

Quotation1.png i have had the arms of rosalind around me, and kissed juliet on the mouth.


Long before the romantic endeavors that represent him now, Xunfei's very first love was acting. There was an irony to it that he didn't quite grasp (or didn't quite want to grasp, maybe) until he was older. Regardless, he has a large appreciation for the art and dedicates a sizable amount of his steam to it. Xunfei loves the near-repetitive work in drilling lines and getting his intonation just right, in living out a scene, a show, a life that's been carefully constructed and given to him in neat little doses. And he loves becoming someone he's not, pretending for just a little while.

As terrible his performance in Kiss of Death was (to this day, FeiFeis still meme on it), Xunfei looks back on it with fondness and nostalgia. It was his first proper main role as a teen, even though he was a vampire highschool delinquent (or something like that; Xunfei’s still not exactly sure what the plot was). His lacking performance back then only serves to highlight his impressive current skills.

Xunfei takes a lot of pride in how much he’s improved. It was the first thing that was entirely the product of his own hard work, the hours he had put in and the studying he had done. Acting was solely his, not the property of the previous Xunfei, who had never cared for it. It was proof that his efforts meant something, that he had ceased to be Xunfei the human and had forged a new path for himself, and that the universe intended for him to exist in this world.

No matter how many times he speaks about it in interviews, no one could truly understand what acting means to Xunfei.

As for modeling, he gets to sit and look pretty, stand and look pretty, or lay on the floor and look pretty. No qualms here! (Some FeiFeis have concerns about the occasional sexualization that happens in his career, which they bring up to his company, Lantern Entertainment. Xunfei thinks to himself: what’s the big deal? Isn’t it a compliment?)

Music (Singing and Piano Playing)

Quotation1.png when you're a shadow, all you know is black and white and all the greys in between. pianos are one of the few things that remain black and white once you begin to live.


Xunfei is a baritone who isn’t half bad! His voice sounds like a crisp autumn night in a big city, a slow walk under the romantic streetlamps. After years of FeiFeis begging him to release his own song, Xunfei debuted as a singer! It's not his main passion however, so his releases tend to follow the pattern of a single or two every year or so.

He definitely plays piano more often than he sings, and is usually the musician accompanying Quofeylia's dances. This partnership has become comfortably routine for both of them, and Xunfei punctuates every bar he plays with a reassuring glance at the center of the stage. When not learning new music for QQ's latest choreography, Xunfei will film the odd cover and put it on his YoukingGlass channel. Because he's been privately taught piano for a much longer time than vocal work, his skills are much better in this area.

In terms of his artistry, the few songs Xunfei has put out fall within the styles of citypop, R&B, jazz, and ballad. On the official Lantern Entertainment website, his music is described as "smoothly urbane and sophisticated, utilizing classical and jazz instrumentation. Pizzicato strings, throaty sax, soft arpeggiated piano, and sultry basslines balance his warm tone. Vanegray's music is minimalist but poignant; from tender professions of love to the joy of life's simplicity, every sound, or lack of, is deliberate."

Cormorant Fishing

Xunfei has always found this part of his country’s culture to be fascinating, and he had practically begged his mother to hire a fisherman to teach him how to do it. More than a few summer afternoons have been spent out on the water with his birds and a fisherman's hat on his head. It gave him some peace of mind, and some respect for animals that weren’t feline (for once). There was also the added bonus of becoming the favorite of the stray cats around the area, because he'd feed them with whatever he caught.

There’s not much opportunity (or fish) at Ever After High, but that won’t stop Xunfei! He had spent the first term of Freedom Year without his birds, which, as he made clear many times to many people, was absolute misery. By the time winter break ended and students returned to the school, Ever After High welcomed two cormorants. It’s not like he can do any fishing with them, but they’ve been a big part of his childhood and Xunfei’s too sentimental to leave them all alone back in Aurivate.

Other

  • Though dancing is part of his destiny, he’s currently tired of it, physically and mentally. Something about sweating too much.
  • Xunfei has a YoukingGlass channel that he posts videos on whenever he feels like it. His uploads are pretty sporadic, and feature: playing with cats, vlogging, behind the scenes at photoshoots, cooking videos, and the occasional song cover.
  • Xunfei really likes WayV’s “Love Talk”. Like, more than any person rightfully should. He has, on more than one occasion, been caught in his room lip synching to it and pretending to be part of the music video.
    • poor heron
  • In recent years, Xunfei's decided he'd like to research his existence as a shadow. How and why this process occurs, the recorded instances of detached shadows throughout history, tips on everyday life, probabilities of the host returning, etc.
    • It's something he keeps fairly well-hidden, as he's quite scared of anyone finding out. He buys tomes anonymously from shady shops and disguises them as cheap romance novels.
    • He does actually read a lot of terrible romance novels, which is why no one bothers looking through them anymore. Thank fairy godmother for that!

Abilities

Magic Touch - The Cat's Meow

Xunfei in his cat form

xunfei's cinderella moment (going from shadow -> cat)

Xunfei presents his magic touch as being inherited from his father: the ability to shapeshift into a feline form. He can take the form of a lilac point Himalayan cat, easily identifiable by his gold eyes, a carbuncle gem on him somewhere, and the lack of a shadow.

There’s a little more to the story, though. Xunfei is also able to take the form of a shadow, for any of his other forms, making it 4 in total. Nothing special really, they just look like the shadows of a person and a cat. In this form, Xunfei can travel across surfaces. It’s unclear how draining this transformation is, as Xunfei doesn’t really like being in these forms.

Other

  • With his feline heritage comes enhanced agility and senses of sight, smell, and hearing. This makes Xunfei the perfect predator in top condition… to steal his friends’ food, of course.
    • He's a very light sleeper, waking up at the slightest noise.
  • Due to being an unattached shadow, Xunfei has the tendency to mimic the actions of others’ immediately after they perform them.
    • It doesn’t pop up too often, and he can usually suppress the urge. It’s just annoying.
    • This has been noticed by FeiFeis, and a lot of recorded instances have been compiled, garnering him the nickname “Copycat”.
  • Xunfei’s energy is affected by how much light he’s been getting. A strong light source makes a strong shadow makes an energetic Xunfei. This is why he loves the sun!
  • He will also sometimes “flicker”, momentarily becoming incorporeal. This, he plays off as being a departed spirit.

Fairytale - Rose of Evening

How The Story Goes

Main Article: Rose of Evening
Quotation1.png Now Aduan saw a lotus field about twenty acres in size. The lotus flowers were all growing on level earth, and their leaves were as large as mats and their flowers like umbrellas. The fallen blossoms covered the ground beneath the stalks to the depth of a foot or more.


In Rose of Evening, the protagonist Aduan kick-starts the events of the story with his death. He falls into the waters of the Yangtze River, entering a strange underwater world as a ghost (though he is not of aware of this latter fact). In this underwater world, which is ruled by the Prince of the Dragon's Cave, he meets and falls in love with Rose of Evening, a dancer of the royal court.

How Does Xunfei Fit Into It?

Aduan in Rose of Evening

Aduan, the only son of the widow Dsiang, is an extremely skilled acrobat that is chosen to perform at the Dragon Boat Festival. Unfortunately, he falls into the Yangtze River and drowns, though he is quite unaware of this fact. Now a ghost, he is taken to the court of Prince of the Dragon's Cave and set to perform in the dances later.

When the Prince holds a review of all his dancers, Aduan has a moment with another dancer, named Rose of Evening. After being separated from her, he becomes sick with longing, and is unable to eat or sleep. One night, Aduan is led out to a field of giant lotus flowers where he and Rose of Evening properly meet, and the two of them talk through the night. This goes on for a few days before the dancers accompany the Prince to the birthday festival of King of the Wu River.

Rose of Evening is kept behind in the King's castle in order to teach his court how to dance, and Aduan unsuccessfully tries to visit her many times. One day, he is informed that she has cast herself into the river. In a fit of grief, he tries to escape the bottom of the river, and somehow finds himself on the surface of the Yellow River again. He takes a ship to get back home, and finds that Rose of Evening is there with his mother.

The couple rejoice in finding each other, and tell their respective accounts of the months that they were separated. Aduan's mother is delighted to have him back, but she digs up his grave and discovers that his body is still there. When she questions Aduan, he realizes that he’s actually a departed spirit, and begs her not to tell Rose of Evening. Rose of Evening eventually finds out but does not mind, seeing as she is also a departed spirit. The two of them have a child, become quite wealthy, and live happily ever after.

Quotation1.png He tore his beautiful garments, took his gold and his pearls, and went out with the sole idea of following his beloved in death.


He doesn’t.

He’s an imposter.

And he’s not supposed to be here.

Okay, okay, let’s rewind a bit. Consider the previous Aduan and her Rose of Evening: a young newlywed couple with a son, who they had named Xunfei. A fine, living boy, who, unlike his parents, could cast a shadow. (Hint: guess who this shadow is.) They lived happy lives, for their kingdom (ruled by Xunfei’s maternal grandmother) was wealthy and peaceful. Soon enough, the previous Aduan was expecting her second son.

The young prince was pretty much like any other kid. He hid from his private tutor, ate a lot of ice cream, made friends with the kids of the nobility, and had a plush that he refused to let go of. And despite the stereotype of cats disliking water (a trope his father encompassed), the boy named Xunfei loved the water.

In his ninth year, the young prince snuck out of the castle and made his way to the nearby river where he would often play with his friends. This time though, he would not be with his friends, and he would not make it out alive.

Quotation1.png right and wrong don't matter in the woods


Our Xunfei, that is, the one this page is about, keeps the first time he truly saw the world close to his heart as his most cherished memory. He blinked, and realized that he could feel the riverbank grass that he was sitting on, and could hear the violent water thrashing about. And he realized that he could blink — he had never blinked before! The world was so colorful, and loud, and alive. It was all beautiful, no matter how many times he fell attempting to walk. He laughed, and goodness, how beautiful it was to hear his own voice.

The next moment would also be kept close to his heart, though in a decidedly less nice way. Xunfei peered into the now-still-waters and startled at his reflection, shocked that it was actually him. He made faces and the reflection made faces back, the reflection who had his human’s face except it was him now. Then the waters started churning again and his face fragmented into ugly slivers.

Out of the river comes a dead body with his face.

What happens afterwards is blurry, but Xunfei remembers waiting at that riverbank for hours, his human’s body dragged up next to him. He tested his limbs (they went solidly through everything) and sang to the animals until his new voice ran hoarse (they didn't seem to hear him), but no departed spirit rose from the water to sum three identical faces. Either there was no consciousness after death, or the true prince had, for some reason, decided to leave.

Eventually, the crown prince's body was discovered, and Xunfei finds out that he was not really dead after all. Instead, he follows his former master, still connected to him by a wispy thread of magic, to a hospital room. It is in this room that Xunfei spends the first few weeks of his "life".

The barrier that existed between his strange limbo and the world of the living weakened a little every day. Soon he could move objects with ease (he quickly learned to not do it when other people were in the room), and he'd whittle away the lonely days by devouring the collection of plays on the bookshelf in the corner. The best days were when the nurses would put old films on, just so the room wasn't so depressingly quiet. The worst were when the parents were there.

His form did not allow him to cry, so Xunfei merely sat there, chest burning and throat tightening in a mimicry of life, listening to the care, and worry, and fear, that strung itself through his pa— his human's parents. To be loved, he reasoned, was the greatest thing there could be.

That was why on the third week in the hospital, when Crown Prince of Guangtome Zhu Xunfei died of ischemic hypoxia, when the feeble thread of magic crumbled into dust, and when the nurse screamed when she found two (two, not three) identical faces in the room, Xunfei decided he would be loved. He knew his human’s story by heart. He knew his human by heart too, for he lived the same exact life, just in the movie theatre seats, not on the screen. What the heavens had given him now was surely an opportunity.

He would take it. He would make this life his own.

Quotation1.png there are rights and wrongs and in-betweens
no one waits when fortune intervenes


Xunfei goes back to a home that’s his but not really, to parents that are his but not really. And there’s a funeral for him but not really. There’s some amount of explaining, quite a lot of lies on his part, and the new understanding that whatever had transpired that day was destiny coming to Xunfei early. The news get leaked to the rest of the kingdom almost immediately, which is sort of unfortunate if not for the fact that it was all positive publicity. People pitied him; Xunfei had never been pitied before!

They called him a scientific miracle in a world of fairytale magic. A miracle, Xunfei learns, is a really good thing.

For the rest of the summer, Xunfei had to learn how to be, well, himself. Most saw his temporarily strange behavior as a byproduct of his traumatic experience. Xunfei’s grandmother, however, had a keen eye and sharp instincts that led her to catch our prince, emblazoned on his bedroom wall in a telling silhouette.

Was she a strange woman for not notifying anyone? Maybe. What were her motives for helping Xunfei adjust to his life? He… still doesn’t know. But on the day of her funeral, a some-years-older, many-years-wiser Xunfei stood, sobbing in grief and relief alike.

The only person who could ruin him was now gone.

FeiFeis have made it clear that the incident was a painful experience for Xunfei, and that any attempt to bring it up would be met with incredible backlash. Xunfei is extremely grateful for the taboo everyone has placed on the event, though for much different reasons than they would think.

Quotation1.png this is the prize: making believe


Parallels

Xunfei's role is Aduan in Rose of Evening.

  • Xunfei and Quofeylia’s pages were both posted on June 8th. The reason for this is because June 8th, 2008, was the first time the Dragon Boat Festival, mentioned in Rose of Evening, was celebrated in China as a national holiday.
  • The Dragon Prince gives Aduan a headpiece with golden fish beard and a carbuncle gem. Xunfei wears carbuncle gems and gold.
  • They both die by drowning.
  • Xunfei is unable to cast a shadow, just like how Aduan could not either. The difference of course, is that Aduan was a ghost, and Xunfei is the shadow.

Writing-wise, Xunfei was a shadow before he was Aduan. I decided to give him the role as Aduan has some interesting connections to ghosts and shadows.

  • Andersen's The Shadow was where I derived a lot of my lore for detached shadows from, so Xunfei's writing has a few nods to the story as well.
    • By the end of the story, the shadow replaces the learned man, and no one knows. This is true for Xunfei's situation.
    • The shadow in the story implies that with time and experience, he was able to gain a form near indistinguishable from an average human. This is the same manner in which Xunfei gains his physical form.
    • In the house across the learned man, the shadow finds poetry. Xunfei finds plays and films.
    • The shadow remains in the house of poetry for 3 weeks, and Xunfei's coma lasts for 3 weeks.
  • Shadows only ever follow the movement of actual objects, and Xunfei has a passive urge to mimic others' actions immediately after they happen.
  • Carbuncles are said to be gems that can provide light to an otherwise dark place. Xunfei literally requires a light source to exist.
    • Xunfei is associated with sunsets, the moment at which the sun disappears, i.e. no longer provides the life-giving light. This therefore ties together his themes of death and shadows.

Sometimes, I realize I have written an unintentional parallel.

  • Both Aduan and Rose of Evening intend to commit suicide once it seems like reuniting with one another is hopeless, and Xunfei is similarly motivated by romantic love, though perhaps in a less extreme manner.
  • Both Aduan and Rose of Evening become ill when they are separated for the first time. Xunfei and Quofeylia's relationship is written partly to comment on unhealthy codependency.

Etymology

Quotation1.png My name is Xunfei but you can call me...
...anytime.


Xunfei was born 珠汛绯 (zhū xùnfēi; zyu1 seon3 fei1) but took on Vanegray as a professional name when branching out in his career internationally. Why Vanegray? He thought it sounded cool and no one could stop him from doing it. At Ever After High, he stylizes his name as Xunfei Vanegray Zhu.

珠 means “pearl”, or more accurately, “bead”, but it is most often seen in the word 珍珠, which means “pearl”. This references the recurring motif of pearls in the story, and the more general association of dragons (which play a role in the story) and pearls in Chinese culture (e.g. dragon pearls). The left radical is 王, “king”, fitting for a royal family, and the right is 朱, “brilliant red”, referencing the red carbuncle gem in the story. Dragons and the color red are also associated with royalty in China. (Though it is customary for children to take their father’s last name, Xunfei has taken his mother’s last name as she is the heir to the throne.)

汛 means “high water”; “flood”, and the three dots on the left side of the character is the water radical. In Rose of Evening, Aduan drowns. 卂 is a radical meaning “to fly rapidly”, which reflects Xunfei’s fickle and lighthearted personality.

In the same vein, 绯 is pronounced fēi, which is a homophone with the character 飞, “to fly”. 绯 means “dark red/purple silk”; red and purple are colors associated with royalty. Silk is featured on the dragon boat in the story, and an important export in Xunfei’s kingdom. While the left radical 纟means “silk”, the right radical 非 means “wrong”. This reflects Xunfei’s identity as being a false prince, or wrong.

Xunfei may have chosen Vanegray without much thought, but I sure as hell didn’t! Vanegray comes from Sibyl Vane and Dorian Gray, two characters from Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray. Dorian is a young man who slowly becomes corrupt and sinful while his portrait ages in his place. Sibyl is an actress he falls in love with but soon after scorns, causing her to commit suicide.

A whole part of the novel is Dorian’s paranoia at his secret being found out, which drives him to do a lot of reckless and awful things. A young man with a dark secret concerning not being who others think he is and the image of his own face? Hmmmmmm… In any case, the combination of Sibyl and Dorian alludes to how love can have negative, even tragic effects on a person. The two of them are absolutely smitten with each other at first (she even calls him “Prince Charming”), before he tosses her away when she changes slightly.

The alarmingly fast pace of their relationship, the discarding of partners when they no longer suit his tastes, the novel’s theme of aestheticism, the paranoia of knowing that one is a “fake”, all of this encompasses Xunfei.

Fun fact: did you know Xunfei's also named after a verb? "xun·fei /ɕunˌfei/ v 1 a : to fuck up, badly b : to fuck up, like, really really badly"

Viewpoint on Destiny

Perhaps it would be a little insensitive of him to say he chose his alignment based on complementary colors.

Perhaps.

Really though, Xunfei has no qualms with Rebels existing, but he definitely loves his destiny. So as long as his story was guaranteed, the world could fall to pieces around him.

If he were a little more of an overthinker, he would have worried about being found out by the Fairytale Authorities, about being stranded on the podium at Legacy Day with no key to open the Storybook of Legends. Fortunately for him, Xunfei wholly believes that he was meant for his destiny. And whaddya know, Legacy Day came and went as smoothly as his pick-up lines!

Everything happens for a reason, Xunfei believes. That is why destiny exists. And yet, fate had meant for the Rebel movement to exist as well. For this reason, he aligns Roybel.

Education

Class-ic Schedule

Expect a restructuring

Core

  • Kingdom Management I
  • Biologenie
  • Grimmnastics

Destiny-specific

  • Heroics 101
  • Wooing 101

Elective

  • Cooking Class-ic

Core

  • Kingdom Management II
  • Storytelling 101
  • Science and Sorcery
  • Chemythstry
  • Beast Training and Care

Destiny-specific

  • Hero Training
  • Dance Class-ic

Elective

  • Cooking Class-ic

Core

  • Kingdom Management III
  • Creative Storytelling I
  • Hexonomics
  • Geografairy

Destiny-specific

  • Dragon Slaying

Elective

  • Cooking Class-ic
  • Muse-ic Class

Core

  • Kingdom Management IIII
  • Throne Economics
  • Advanced Allusions and Cross-Cultural Reference II
  • Creative Storytelling II

Destiny-specific

  • Advanced Wooing
  • Advanced Ballet

Elective

  • Cooking Class-ic

Hextracurricular Activities

Prose to Dramatics

Xunfei is a familiar face when you flip through a Prose to Dramatics playbill. An an actor, he's fantastic (and as a singer, well — he's alright), working the crowd and never faltering or freezing. Among his castmates, he's the number one pick for "someone you want to have on stage when something goes wrong".

He auditions for every show and often scores a sizable role, so the rising fourth years are all a bit worried. No one quite fits the niche Xunfei does; what are they going to do when he graduates? One could argue that he's near-monopolized these roles, not allowing younger students to develop their skills, but when you see him on stage, you can't not cast him.

When Xunfei isn't busy at rehearsals, you can find him with Quofeylia, working on their screenplay or trying to get them to try this cream pasta I made, it's seriously good QQ no I know "no food in the theater" but c'mon one bite won't hurt.

Quotes

Quotation1.png I am not a pie to be cut into pieces and passed around! ...A pie only has like what, 2 servings? I’m... I’m like an endless sushi conveyor belt.

the m in xunfei stands for metaphor


Quotation1.png Salty or sweet popcorn? Hmm.. I want it like [insert current partner]~

Movie Theater Employee: We don't sell ugly popcorn.


Quotation1.png Xunfei has a something that most everybody needs:
He cannot ever be embarrassed


Quotation1.png Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing... A new Hedonism — that is what our century wants. You might be its visible symbol.

With your personality there is nothing you could not do. The world belongs to you for a season.


Quotation1.png If Xunfei wishes it, of course you must stay. Xunfei's whims are laws to everybody, except himself.


Trivia

  • As Xunfei's birthday (June 15th) is very close to Latona Zhou's (June 10th), they plan to throw a single combined birthday celebration.
    • Why June 15th? Well.
    • Incidentally, if we go by the "EAH's story begins in 2013" timeline, both Quofeylia and Xunfei would be born in years where lìchūn (February 3rd / 4th) begins before Lunar New Year, also known as widow years.
  • He practices Mazuism, the dominant religion in his country.
  • His favorite book, though technically it is a play, is Romeo and Juliet.
  • The reason for him liking extremely spicy (or really, extremely anything) food? To get as much flavor as possible. Unseasoned food is Xunfei's archnemesis.
  • The watch he wears is similar to the Lady Arpels Pont des Amoureux timepiece, just with tweaked colors.
  • Xunfei does not wield any sort of weapon, as it is unneeded in his story. But if he did, he would use an aptly named willow-leaf saber.
  • His favorite number is 8. What, you expected him to not choose the most obvious one?
  • Every time I came across Kiss of Death while writing Xunfei, I had to restrain myself from cringing and immediately changing the name. And that’s how I knew I had succeeded in conveying the exact vibe it was supposed to give off.

Specific things he likes:

  • Xunfei's obviously quite big on affection of any sort, but he particularly loves laying his head down in someone's lap.
  • Waking up every two hours in the middle of the night to care for week-old kittens even if he's dead tired. Quofeylia coming in to berate him for ruining his sleeping schedule before ultimately lending a hand, and the two of them having comfortably quiet conversations while the world around them sleeps.

Specific things he dislikes:

  • Even though he really likes the taste of chocolate, Xunfei can't have any because it gives him awful stomachaches.

A description of Xunfei’s voice:

  • Xunfei has a light Cantonese accent, and speaks surprisingly rapidly, especially in his mother tongues (ever so slightly deeper too).
  • Since he likes food so much, let's use food metaphors! Xunfei's voice is mellow, full, rich, and warm. He speaks like black sesame cream, honey and caramel on toast, hotpot that warms you to the bone.
  • Xunfei calls his SOs all sorts of cheesy Chinese pet names, like 宝贝 (bǎobèi; “baby”), 心肝(xīngān; “sweetheart”; lit. “heart and liver”), 亲爱的 (qīn’ài de; “darling”). This hurt me to type out.
  • He tends to "hm?" "ah" "eh" and make other similar small non-word exclamations. And the obligatory "aiya", of course.
  • While texting, he uses too many cat emojis and kaomojis. ˓˓ก₍⸍⸌̣ʷ̣̫⸍̣⸌₎ค˒˒
  • This is more meta but I write his dialogue with a lot of tildes. ~ ~ ~

Epithets he is referred to by:

  • deliberate Icarus- to survive, he needs light, he needs the sun (one could even say he needs Apollo). Most people would say that Icarus tells a cautionary tale. Xunfei, however, believes that if he had fake wings, he too would chase after the heavens and burn with grace. Is it selfish to think yourself Icarus?
  • the boy [Quofeylia] has always known- simply who he is.
  • Prince of Willow-Sprays- a reference to the willow-spray dance in Rose of Evening.
  • honey-eyed- he's sweet and sappy with eyes of molten gold.
  • vain and gray- this is an ironic one, as Xunfei is neither vain nor gray.

Acknowledgements:

  • Spades and Airy for their formatting on the introduction and story sections.
  • Tale for inspiring the likes and dislikes section.

Author's Notes

Coming (hopefully) soon!

Points to touch upon:

  • Love is Blind, Love's Unkind: love, romantic and platonic, and what love grows to symbolize for Xunfei
    • "lovers come and lovers go, lovers live and die fortissimo"
  • Happy to Have a Face: self image, objectification, identity
    • "I am jealous of everything whose beauty does not die. I am jealous of the portrait you have painted of me."
    • Do not call Xunfei by any name but Xunfei
  • Would He Kill You?: how Xunfei resolves the shadow and dying in destiny thing (hint: might want to reread Aurivate's page)
    • "does he thrill you? is he vicious? would he kill you?"
Quotation1.png ~

tale of a haunted house

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