Related Characters

Sun Kist

Image: Sun Kist, daughter of Da Phai Nai and Lo Si - Click to enlarge

Da Phai Nai's daughter inherited an interest in potions, and the plants used to make them, from her mother. In her spare time she had often studied the Caves of the Ancestor.

Discovering this, Jack shows her the Corridor of Knowledge, where her enthusiasm for learning is ignited into a new passion.

Lo Si

Image: Lo Si - Click to enlarge

He has always thought of Da Phai Nai as his first and only true love. But then, so are his children, his wife, but primarily, his calling in life: Deru, or Druid.


Image: Jack Barleycorn, The Guardian - Click to enlarge

He and n'Gnung often bear the brunt of Da Phai Nai's broom, her weapon of choice, and joke about wearing padded pants.


Image: n'Gnung is Jack's closest friend - Click to enlarge

n'Gnung often induces Da Phai Nai to do things she might otherwise frown upon. Not written in the text, but it was he who cajoled her to impersonate a butterfly; the night Old MacDonald was first given Island life.

Weapon of Choice

DPN uses a new broom as a weapon because that is what her mother did. When young, she often had he behind spanked with a broom.

The strikes are playful and do not hurt, but the sight is scary, especially the way Da Phai Nai wields the broom. She swings it like a knight might swing a sword or axe, secretly enjoying the power, but also the humour it bring to others than her victim.


Feature: The Second


Da Phai Nai


Da Phai Nai was born and raised in Grimwaldi Rinns. Her parents ran an inn that was popular with travellers, so from an early age she helped with the needs of business.

Her father knew the ways of plants, and she took great interest in his knowledge, often accompanying him when he went to gather ingredients for his potions. By contrast, her mother was the main cook, and taught her how to make a many dishes.

The inn was located in a quiet lane just off the main square, and popular with more learned types. One of their frequent guests was the Keeper of Ancient Knowledge, who often stayed there when visiting the capital; his apprentice, a young man called Lo Si, usually accompanied him.

Although Lo Si was a few years older than Da Phai Nai, the two got along very well together, and often played when not working. As they aged, so their feelings changed to ones of interest in the opposite sex. When Lo Si approached sixteen years old, he proposed, and she joyfully accepted.


Image: Da Phai Nai - Click to enlarge

The name Da Phai Nai is how Cantonese would Anglicise the name Daphne.

Outspoken and forthright, Da Phai Nai (DPN) is a contrary, older woman, but one we come to love. She is a dynamic character that brings laughter in her wake, because she is overly feisty, and to the point of standing up to armed warriors with her trusty broom in hand. Jack realises her true nature, her hard outer shell like that of an oyster, protecting the soft heart inside. A heart that was irrevocably broken when she was but a teenager. She was betrothed to Lo Si, but upon application to marry, the former Empress disallowed the marriage, decreeing Lo Si must marry Won Long instead. By that time she was already pregnant.

Sun Kist: kitchen maid, head cook, later Shaman's apprentice, High Priestess, and finally Shaman Supplicant.

She was betrothed to the much older Lo Si in her fifteenth year, and they were due to marry when she became sixteen; a love match. When the Empress, Jien Noi's grandmother, heard of their plans, she immediately forbade the

wedding, and decreed Lo Si must marry the Seer instead. This denial of love is something she has never forgiven.

She has harboured bitter feeling ever since, and was already carrying Sun Kist when the then Empress intervened; being a single mother is socially frowned upon. As a result she was technically married to the then Emperor, the Empress sending her away as a cook, and later as innkeeper of the hot springs travellers rest.

DPN endured by cherishing her daughter, and the only love of her life, in her heart. Outwardly, she formed a rock-hard persona to shield her from the many barbs she received from customers. In time, she learned to get the first word in, and leave her tormentors suffering instead. Her relationship with Won Long is one of barely disguised open hostility, each having their own valid reasons. Da Phai Nai considers Won Long stole her husband, and blames the Seer for making her an outcast of society, as an unmarried mother.

Despite her almost hostile nature to everyone, Jack sees through her, and shortly after, so does n'Gnung. They perceive a true heart mortally wounded, and play up to her, becoming her outlet of frustration, her release valve. Over time, this becomes a game they play, and often the words spoken between them mean the exact opposite.

Jack counts her as one of only two people who can change a moment simply by their physical presence; the other being Owain.

"Sometimes a person’s worth cannot be measured by their unique gifts of intelligence, cunning, fortitude, or physical dexterity; but merely by how they engender team spirit and cohesion within the group—how they make you feel inside.”

n'Gnung agrees, but adds Jack as his number three.

In book two she loses Sun Kist to her new calling in life as the Shaman's Apprentice; it is the proudest, and saddest moment of her life. This is one of the rare times she is at a loss for words. Jack bids her sit with them, and brings her a bottle of the best wine, which eventually loosens her tongue. n'Gnung fetches Lo Si, who is very proud of his daughter, but understands Da Phai Nai better than anyone. Also present are Dawn and Kay, who add to the empathy and pathos of the moment, adding a little logos as and where suitable.

Da Phai Nai is outwardly quick to recover, and by the following day is back to her usual self. Later she finds good company with Owain. It is never made clear whether they took their unlikely friendship to a more personal level, but one should presume so.

Da Phai Nai was never one to stand on ceremony, or respect a person because they had a title. She was a little thrown when at their first meal on the Outlands, Jack as King of the Outlands, helped her cook for their guests. The barbs they exchanged during the process engendered a far deeper understanding between them, especially after he made her sit and eat with all the guests; something kitchen hands were never supposed to do.

Over time, she grows to think of Jack and n'Gnung as her two naughty boys, maternally adopting them, and dedicates her life to looking after them; not that her words to them would indicate, but it is a fact. She is always their chef, wherever they might be, mainly as front of house as age begins to take it toll.

Natural Medicine
Da Phai Nai is a master of potions; one being a cure for hangovers, and another to ease labour, as given to Jien Noi at Ræm's birth. Her daughter learns these tonics also, and becomes fascinated with learning more. There is another she administers when Jack and Kay are recovering from coma, which is unknown to the Ancestors medicine, and shared with the leading medic.

Da Phai Nai's true heart was revealed in two scenes: when Jack's party toured the slums of the Trolls; and after the final battle on the Island near the end of Book Three. In the latter, too weary to eat, she noticed camp fires in the distance, and went to assist. The effort almost killed her, but she alone was responsible for finding many missing people, presumed dead by others.

She becomes Jack's first guinea pig for rejuvenation, but her vitriolic tongue belies the great depth of gratitude she feels for his actions. She is one of the few Second to continue to use the regeneration facilities of the spaceship.

Other Characters


Sex: Female.
Born: 1974.
Eyes: Black.
Hair: Long, black.
Height: 5'0".
Marital status: Single.


Woven grass bodice and longer skirt.
Sandals made of natural materials.


Various pendants and bangles.


Second, a little Ancestor and other languages, as befits her role as Innkeeper.


Da Phai Nai brandished a new broom with menacing intent, often using it on staff.

Later, her main targets become Jack and n'Gnung, who often play up to her.


Image: Owain a'y Brenin, King of the Ddwyrth - Click to enlarge

Owain develops a close relationship with Da Phai Nai, mentioning to Jack in Book Two, that she would make a fine wife.

Rambling Longshanks

Image: Rambling Longshanks - Click to enlarge

Da Phai Nai is the first person to see the approaching whirlpools in the lagoon. She races down to confront whatever approaches; planting her broom handle firmly in the sand. She is confronted by The King of the Twelfth; a gentle Giant.

Feeding the Five Multitude

Jack noticed DPN, more than any other, had a nouse for priority; be that grand banquet design, or order of customers to be served.

He asks her to provision troops, as overseer; others to do the work. Dai Phai Nai excels, becoming the provisionary for all Islanders and guests in Book Three.

The Hot Springs

Upon becoming sixteen, Da Phai Nai was heavy with child, and effectively banished to work at the hot springs. Her job being the same as previous, but away from her family, whom she saw little of.

Her heart broken, and disgraced as being an unmarried mother, she developed a hard nature, one only Sun Kist, the new love of her life, could overcome.

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