The Mystery of High King Genbu
Genbu, the High King of the North, is a mysterious character, even to me. Out of the Four Kings, he and Byakko of the West are the Kings I deal with the least since I write more on Seiryu of the East and Suzaku of the South. Genbu now has a story dedicated to him so I decided to share what he is and what makes him greater than his own kind/kinds.
Genbu is a fusion being, the only one in the world. What makes him different than a chimera is that he was two creatures in the beginning (a black tortoise and a brown snake), while a chimera is an entirely artificial lifeform grown from the test tube and whose DNA was spliced through alchemy. Genbu’s two halves were fused together at some point in the third century A.D. (After Descent). He had already been King for that long and decided that two heads were better than one. His true form relies on his tortoise half for locomotion. The snake (a reticulated python) is embedded in his shell on the right side. The head and a majority of the tail are free moving. The rest of the body vanishes into the shell, as if the shell grew over it. His human form keeps the snake half, leading to an need to disguise what he is. Genbu, if moonlighting as a human, merely acts as if the snake was his pet, instead of a part of him. Because of the python’s length, he usually has that half wrapped around his waist and the head comes up over his shoulder. He’s of the opinion that the people wouldn’t accept him anymore than they do chimeras if they were to learn the truth.
Because of his unique body, he has two of every organ except his lungs (he has four). Each head is capable of independent thought but they think as one, so the snake doesn’t act on its own if it ever does. Each half has to feed on the same diets they had when they were two. Currently, it’s not clear on if killing either side would qualify as full out regicide and trigger the cataclysm that would destroy the North should Genbu be killed somehow. It’s likely that both of Genbu’s hearts have to cease functioning in order for it to be considered a true death, thus triggering Domain-wide destruction.
Both then and now, Genbu rules over two animal kingdoms in conjunction to being one of the kings of the world. He rules reptiles, except Old Reptiles (dinosaurs) and venomous snakes (Orochi’s shogunate). Because his dominion doesn’t extend to adders, the Almighty had intended for Orochi, the Shogun, to be Genbu’s second and bring all snakes under the rule of Genbu. The High King had to wait over 6,000 years before Orochi awoke to his destiny and submit to the King as a vassal. The shogunate still survives as a separate entity and Orochi’s authority is still law but now he is accountable to the King for any actions he takes.
Genbu is a being of several quirks. The most noticeable quirk is his usage of the Royal We. A sample of his dialog goes something like this: “We are King Genbu.” Being two separate creatures in the beginning and the snake losing his voice after the fusion, the main body speaks for both halves. There was a long stretch of time where Genbu used singular words like “I” for himself like normal beings but he has since regressed back into the Royal We. A bit of Fridge Brilliance comes into play when one remembers that snakes are deaf. In-story, Orochi and Kusanagi are the only snakes capable of hearing anything. It has to be because they are capable of transformation into a human form. As Genbu’s snake half lost his power to speak and transform when the two bodies fused together, it makes sense that he lost his ability to hear.
Another oddity about him is the North itself. Genbu’s Castle is in the Far North, nestled safely in the Northern Range. The Far North is a permafrost area, contrary for the suitable habitat for reptiles. The Mid-North is a more temperate zone but still has winter for a season. The region near the center of the Continent is a bit warmer as the equator splits the East and West in half, and runs across the Central Crossgates that connects all four Domains. More on the Crossgates later. Genbu’s power allows him to have central heating all over his castle and he has a greenhouse where his vassals live and grow food for the main body. When he lives the Far North to travel around, he travels in a human form because of the convenience of faster mobility, the disguise of his fusion, and having warm blood. The heat from his human body also travels to his snake half and allows it to stay warm. His circulatory system is more expansive than a regular human, thanks to his fusion.
The King of the North is regarded as the wisest of the four and he has a love affair with astronomy. He loves documenting the heavens, making him the All World equivalent of Galileo and other ancient astronomers. It’s not a long shot to assume he’s discovered other planets circling the star All World revolves around. Genbu is highly analytical and not prone to emotional outbursts even as a human, kind of the Vulcans of Star Trek fame. But when he gets mad, you know it. I look forward to finishing his story.