Shun was born in the desert kingdom of Yunnon, the son of an advisor/alchemist to its great Khan. When the Lotus Empire invaded Yunnon, he was captured and refused to swear fealty. His bravery impressed the Lotus Emperor so he let Shun He live in servitude, but blinded him as punishment. For the next 20 years, Shun devoted himself to the study of Lun, the faint magical substance that pervades the world.
He remembered one summer when glowing blue flecks -- like a thousand fireflies -- floated through the air. His grandmother captured these flecks in jars to sell at her market stand as trinkets, and young Shun He stole one for himself. As an experiment, he dropped his sister's doll inside and sealed it up. That's when something incredible happened.
The doll started to move on its own.
Shun was able to recreate these results, and the emperor was so impressed that he named him the new Grand Alchemist and orders him to use any resource he needs to harness Lun and fashion it into weapons of war.
Blindness forced Shun to adopt a rigorous scientific method, experiencing the world purely through science and mathematics. It also protected him from the sneers of the nobility at court — his outsider status and foreign appearance made Shun the frequent victim of the royal jester. Nevertheless, he was relentless in his research. With the industrial base of the Lotus Empire at his disposal, Shun He built the Lunvane -- a device that can detect the presence of Lun in the air -- and with it he made discoveries: Lun's appearance is random except it appears more on windy days. Then there's the most important discovery of all.
Lun is coming from the East, across the ocean.
Armed with this knowledge, Shun He convinces the emperor to mount an expedition and find the source of Lun. He so impressed the Lotus Emperor that he commissioned Shun as his blind explorer. Now, any courtier that dared laugh would be immediately sentenced to death.
Arrival in the Lung Archipelago
With the support of the emperor, Shun began construction of the Lungcao, a grand junk holding a few hundred men and enough resources to survive a short while on what he believed to be a fertile island chain.
The journey began at sea with observations of the Lunopause, a powerful storm Shun understood to be shielding the islands. These observations were mediated by a weakly magical sextant Shun used to navigate by touch. Shun realized that the supposed magical shielding built into the Lungcao was unnecessary. The key to visiting the islands was using the sextant to navigate through an illusory part of the storm. However, he never revealed his insight to his crew.
Despite his efforts, the Lungcao sustained serious damage by the other side of the Lunopause. Shun directed the crew to make landfall at the first sight of sand. Passing a stony, treacherous island, they arrived at an alluvial beach.
There, Shun made first contact with Inora, a three-eyed Fae healer and sea priestess. All the while, his Lunvane was going haywire. It was no longer pointing in any one direction and instead spinning wildly.
Perhaps the Lun doesn't come from the air after all…