Site icon Banter Latte

Hearth

Omnipedia: Dorian Hwan
(Hwan Yong-Jin 환용진)

Vital Statistics

Hearth

Real Name
Dorian Hwan / Hwan Yong-Jin (환용진)

Height
5’11”

Weight
146 lbs.

Profession
Physician (Internal Medicine/General Practitioner, Parahuman Specialty)

Nature
Arcane-Type Parahuman

Alignment
Superhero

Tiers
3-4 depending on the era, later none

Affiliations
Pentad of Guardians
The Excelsiors
Justice Wing
Mainsail Family Practice of Empire / Viejo Bosque Medical University Parahuman Family Practice

Status
Active (In Nadir Era)

Dorian Hwan is a medical doctor and powerful healing mage, as well as being the superhero called Hearth. Hwan was a biology major at SUNY-Empire before attending Medical School at the (then) Mount Sinai School of Medicine during the Emergence Era. While a medical student, Hwan ended up rushing into Empire City's King Kurtzberg Tower at the start of the Skyquake. Though he was able to help evacuate civilians, he was caught in the backlash and placed in a temporary fractal timeline where he was an apprentice and mage studying at the Nightblossom Reef Academy of Healing Witchcraft and Medical Arts, where he mastered healing techniques and magic, before emerging from the fractal timeline and joining with his friends in the Pentad of Guardians.

Powers and Skills

Origin Story

When Dorian and his friends evacuated the King Kurtzberg Building during the Skyquake, they were caught in one of the experiment’s aftershocks, which caused reality and the timeline to ‘fractalize,’ forming five temporary alternate histories, with each of the friends being caught in a different history. Dorian was caught in a ‘world that never was’ where magic, not technology, was the foundation of society. Dorian found himself a lifelong student at the Nightblossom Reef Academy of Healing Witchcraft and Medical Arts, where he had been left as a child. Working for years to master the arcane arts of knitting wounds, curing the sick, and protecting the innocent through wards and other protective magic, Dorian quickly rose to the top of his class, until he was ready to take his final oaths and dedicate himself to the Order and its beneficent calling. During this time, Dorian had no memory of his original life in Realspace.

Before he could take that step, however, Dorian remembered his friends and emerged from the fractal universe. He became the Red Pentad Point of the Pentad of Guardians, representing destruction – for ironically in healing the terminally ill and injured, Hearth destroyed the original violent intent that had left his patients in such a state. He and the rest of the Pentad were inherently aware that in some way they were destined to save the entire world, with Hearth serving the Pentad as the Heart and the Healer.

Click Here for Emergence Era Spoilers

Emergence Era

DETAILS Threat Level: Gamma
Tier: Fourth-to-Third (Third-to-Second Collectively with the Pentad of Guardians)

Hearth is a powerful and versatile sorcerer and mage, capable of casting any number of spells. His spell effects almost always take the appearance of bright, glowing pink energy, and his grey and pink uniform — based on the Nightblossom Reef Academy’s senior student uniform despite it never having existed — reflects that. Often, his magical powers surround him and his entire area in a cascade of glowing pink cherry blossoms flying in the wind, glowing pink butterflies, oversized glowing pink snowflakes — really, the sky’s the limit. His magical power is largely centered around the healing arts and protective spells, capable of warding people from physical, energy, magical, and even energy attacks. However, there is only so much any ward can absorb or deflect, and when that limit is reached, it shatters. He can bolster the effects of one of his wards if need be, but the process connects him to that ward, meaning that if it shatters, he suffers tremendous feedback, causing him pain and even rendering him unconscious. As Hearth remains the pacifist he’s been most of his life, he is often disregarded in battle — a crucial error, as Hearth is an expert in warding, healing, and restoring his fellow Pentad members, meaning that right when an enemy is convinced they’ve won a hard fought battle, suddenly they’re back up to full strength and ready for round two.

Click Here for Halcyon Days Era Spoilers

Halcyon Days Era

DETAILS Threat Level: Gamma
Tier: Third

Hearth’s magical abilities have grown significantly stronger, and his magical knowledge has increased as well. He has learned the magical art of Leywalking, which allows Hearth and those he brings with him to travel great distances in a fraction of the time so long as he can follow the natural ley lines that naturally circle the globe in various patterns. As a large concentration of these ley lines converge and overlap in Empire City itself, this ability is highly versatile. Hearth has also begun to learn many other kinds of spell — whether divination or conjuration or many more — though his pacifism remains his guiding principle. (Though at this point, he typically cites the Hippocratic Oath he took when he became a doctor, especially when people believe his pacifism came from his studies at the order. It seems easier to him than trying to explain that he became a pacifist all the way back in middle school.)

Spoilers over Antonym's Condition at this point
After the Excelsiors fought against a foe more conceptual than real, Hearth’s teammate and friend Antonym was essentially paraneurologically maimed, which meant her own powers could potentially kill her. For months, Hearth’s arcane and medical research alike was devoted to finding a solution to Ant’s problems, until she severed ties with the Pentad and Excelsiors alike for somewhat mysterious reasons.
Click Here for Apocalypse Agenda Spoilers

Apocalypse Agenda Era

DETAILS Threat Level: BetaOmnipedia PopupHearth's 'threat rating' of 'Beta' at this time is essentially honorary, reflecting his significant power and sheer range of magical abilities. However, as he is still a dedicated pacifist, DETAILS does not actually classify him as a 'threat.'
Tier: Third

Note

The Pentad of Guardians’s role in the Apocalypse Agenda have not yet been revealed, though the implication is that they fulfilled the cosmological role that had been set before them. It is known that Mandy Shapiro was somehow involved, and that she emerged grievously injured, with burns (seeming having burned from the inside out) covering 40% of the left side of her body).

In the wake of the devastation caused by the Apocalypse Agenda, Hearth’s healing magic and his knowledge and skill in using it grew exponentially. He has greatly increased his ability to restore and heal larger groups at a time. He’s also finally had an opportunity to practice some of the techniques he’d researched in his desire to help Antonym, including during the period of time when she was helping negotiate with the Coalition of Nations.

Click Here for In Nadir Era Spoilers

In Nadir Era

DETAILS Threat Level: Gamma
Tier: Fourth

After the Apocalypse Agenda, with their cosmological role apparently fulfilled and Antonym even more badly hurt, the Pentad of Guardians drifted apart, with all four remaining members leaving Empire City. Dorian entered semi-retirement, joining a practice in Viejo Bosque, California. After learning of Ant’s death in a car accident alongside her husband, Hearth reemerged as a member of the heroic community, now working alongside Justice Wing, though he continued to serve alongside his fellow Pentad members whenever possible. His magical abilities have become refined and rededicated to healing the sick and injured, and his facility with them is expert.

History

Click Here for Emergence Era History and Origin Story

Emergence Era

Early Life

Dorian Hwan was born on Long Island off Empire City, the child of two children of Korean immigrants to America. To help mollify both sets of their parents, Hwan’s parents christened him Hwan Yong-Jin (환용진), though his birth certificate read ‘Dorian Yong-Jin Hwan,’ which is the name he grew up with and still identifies as his own. Raised in a mixed Asian neighborhood gave Dorian a relatively unique sense of his heritage and ethnic identity, especially when he discovered an abiding love for the bootleg VHS tapes of Japanese Anime available in the back of any number of his neighborhood’s stores. However, while Dorian was proud of his Korean heritage, he didn’t really identify himself that way — to his mind, he was an Asian American by citizenship and an Empirical by loyalty and temperament.

Though Dorian grew up to be very handsome and personable, he found it difficult to build close friendships in his home neighborhood. The smattering of Korean he spoke wasn’t convincing to his neighbors, and his disinterest in sports (despite his athletic body) and love of reading kept him out of the popular cliques in school. What was more, from an early age Dorian embraced a pacifist lifestyle — violence was for television and movies, not real life, as far as he was concerned. And, while his high school wasn’t particularly rough, Dorian’s unwillingness to fight made him a target for bullies early on. It wasn’t until he went to the State University of New York at Empire City that he truly began to find close friends.

College and Meeting the Future Pentad

One of his earliest friends was a cheerful but troubled person formerly known as Timothy Lloyd, though in part with Dorian’s understanding by their freshman year she had transitioned into a much happier Theresa Lloyd. Teeny, as she became known (in part due to her height) got to know another relative outsider named Keira Holt, and she in turn introduced the pair to a New Jersey-born punk rock/new wave PolySci major named Mandy Hartley and Dorian’s fellow Empirical native Nagini Dayal. None of the five had ever truly been comfortable around other people, but for whatever reason they bonded almost immediately, and by the time second semester rolled around, they’d rented a beat up brownstone together.

When Paragon emerged to save the world on national television and the age of heroes began, Dorian was as amazed as anyone else, though he didn’t become obsessed with the newfound heroes and villains the way Mandy and Teeny did. Still, if anything it made their time at SUNY-Empire all the more exciting. It seemed like an age of miracles was upon them.

The five continued living in their rental brownstone even after graduation and moving on to graduate school. Dorian matriculated at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, ultimately specializing in Internal Medicine as well as training as a General Practitioner. He also became one of the first medical students to actively pursue parahuman medical research and care.

The Skyquake and Secondary Parahuman Expression

For various reasons, Dorian, Teeny, Nagini, Mandy, and Keira were in the immediate vicinity of the King Kurtzberg Tower on the 27th of January — the night that noted scientist (and reputed crackpot) Doctor Aiden Archer had planned an ambitious (if seemingly ridiculous) experiment in finding the common links between the The Five Methods of Supraexpression, in hopes of unlocking control over all forms of parahuman expression. They had also learned that the notorious original mad scientist Doctor Stanley Giles, better known as Doctor Guile, had gotten involved with the experiment, leading the five to desperately try and stop the experiment before it could begin. Unfortunately, they were too late. Doctor Archer’s experiment proceeded, and the Skyquake shook all of Empire City with waves of alternate and twisted reality.

Unable to stop the Skyquake, the five turned their hands to helping evacuate the innocent civilians who had still been inside the King Kurtzberg Tower. They succeeded, but before they could make their own escape, the first Skyquake aftershock caused time itself to splinter into multiple fractal worlds and timelines, catching each of the five in their own personal history. Like all the others, Dorian emerged transformed — in his case, having undergone secondary parahuman expression into the powerful healer and mage called Hearth, and taking his place alongside the rest of the newly forged Pentad of Guardians.

Realizing that Doctor Guile had used Archer’s experiments to literally force his daughter through all five methods of supraexpression — turning her into the malevolently seductive Beguile — the Pentad swept into action, defeating Beguile and driving both her and Doctor Guile off, before traveling to the top of the tower and rescuing the survivors of Archer’s experiment – though the experience had transformed them as well, making them the Astounding Alliance.

The Pentad of Guardians

The Pentad of Guardians quickly became mainstays of the Empire City super-scene. Moving to the borough of Catrins, where Jetgirl's mother, industrialist, multibillionaire, and parahuman Theodora Holt was able to give them a warehouse and some basic equipment to start their base. During these few years, the Pentad almost exclusively went by their heroic identities, and ‘Rath’ was no exception – save of course, after he graduated and completed his residency, making him Doctor Dorian Hwan. As more and more heroes appeared in Empire City. Hearth’s services as a doctor and healer became ever more important — especially since he could treat his heroic friends with discretion as well as medicine and magic alike.

The More Things Stay the Same, The More They Change

“Look, it’s absolutely none of my business, but I can’t pretend I didn’t notice it. We all did. For whatever reason, all five of the so-called Pentad of Guardians? Despise anyone one of the others dates — at least if it’s anything serious. Ant was with Colin, and they hated Colin. Fine. Lots of people hate Colin. Then Ant was with Evan. Fine. Lots of people are at least annoyed by Evan. But Teeny was with this guy? Richard? He was fantastic. Sweet, kind, smart, brave? And yet? They hated Richard. Jetgirl’s girlfriend — what was her name? Whatever. They hated her. I don’t know if it’s just some massively codependent, toxic thing or what, but Saint Peter himself could descend from the Heavens with flowers, jewels, a new car and season tickets to the Eagles all so he could take Shooting Star out and the other four would sniff and mutter about how he wasn’t anywhere near good enough for her. And you don’t even want to know what they think about me, and I never even dated any of them!” –Lynette Hardesty
Over the next several years, the Empirical heroic community grew by leaps and bounds, and as the most adept arcane healer in the Greater Metropolitan Empirical Area, Hearth and the rest of the Pentad grew to know and even like many of their fellow heroes. Still, they preferred to keep to themselves for the most part (at least in terms of socializing — as far as actually walking the streets of Empire and getting to know the population they served and protected, the Pentad was far ahead of the curve). However, there was little chance that things would remain static during this time, and it was perhaps inevitable that different members of the Pentad would begin to date… almost by definition meaning dating people outside the Pentad. Antonym was the most visible of these, striking up a serious relationship with Colin Church, aka the Cavalier. However, Ant was far from the only one. Topaz began to seriously date a boy from Westchester County during this time. Jetgirl began seeing one of the other women in her Engineering graduate classes. Even Shooting Star had a few brief relationships.

Hearth, in the meantime, developed at least a minor reputation as a ladies man, though he managed to avoid being branded as a cad. While he enjoyed female company, he never really seemed to ‘click’ with any of his potential paramours. He was always up front about this, of course — Hearth had no interest in hurting anyone’s feelings — but as far as actually settling into a serious relationship? His response was to typically shrug and change the subject.

This didn’t mean there weren’t some changes at Pentad headquarters. In particular, Antonym – though she rather loudly dumped Colin Church after he was caught cheating on her with DETAILS Special Agent Lynette Hardesty (who to be fair had no idea Church was involved with anyone, much less one of the Pentad of Guardians, not that the Pentad was particularly charitable towards her for quite some time), she then went on to marry the philosopher Evan Shapiro, much to the barely disguised disdain of the other members of the Pentad. (It is likely worth noting Antonym didn’t seem offended by their disgust — but then, she reacted exactly the same way to the other Pentad members’ significant others). Still, it was just shy of a year after Mandy and Evan Shapiro were married that they welcomed a daughter, Loredana 'Danni' Shapiro, to their family.

If Hearth and the rest of the Pentad hated Evan? They adored Danni, and a new sense of ‘normal’ gradually settled into Pentad Headquarters.

But then, ‘normal’ never really lasts, does it?

Enter the Excelsiors

About this time, just before the Emergence Era came to an end, Justice Wing sent two of its members, Freya and the Lieutenant to meet with Empire City’s most significant heroes. They told the Empiricals that while things were going well for heroes now… they knew it wouldn’t last. They needed better ways to train young new heroes than taking them on as sidekicks and endangering them. They knew they needed a means by which society could learn to integrate prosahumanity and parahumanity into a single humanity. And they knew that of all the places on Earth where heroes and villains had appeared, Empire City was the one that had the greatest diversity of heroes (and the broadest ‘convergence’ between origins) in the nation, and they’d managed to put it together. They proposed creating a team — affiliated with Justice Wing but not under their control — and the two teams would both work with each other as needed and support (and fund) the Justice Wing Institute for Parahuman Research in Grantham, Massachusetts. Shooting Star and Antonym represented the Pentad of Guardians at the meeting, and along with the other Empirical heroes agreed, and so Hearth, along with the rest of the Pentad, became one of the founding members of The Excelsiors.

Click Here for the Halcyon Days Era History

Halcyon Days Era

Ever Higher

Not much is currently known about the adventures of the Excelsiors during the Halcyon Days era, but what is known is the central role the Pentad of Guardians ended up taking among them. Hearth’s rather unique specialities made him one of the key members of the team, both in the field and in the aftermath. He also found he enjoyed working with the other Excelsiors quite a lot, though as with the rest of the Pentad, they chose to continue living at Pentad Headquarters in Catarins instead of at the newly rechristened  Excelsior Court.

Antonym Down

This changed after a battle where (apparently – details are still sketchy) the Excelsiors had to fight actual concepts given form. Antonym ended up needing to take point in the climax of the battle, but her powers were never designed to adapt to that kind of opposition and the practical effect was a victory… but at a terrible cost. Antonym underwent a systematic breakdown of her paraneurological structure, plunging her into a life threatening condition that resembled neuroleptic malignant syndrome, triggered when she exceeded safe thresholds with her powers. This was complicated by the nature of those powers, which were inherent in her body’s neurology – while she could avoid situations where they would trigger very powerfully, it was functionally impossible for her to avoid using them at all, any more than she could choose to stop feeling heat or cold on the surface of her skin. It was believed she could have a full and healthy life, but if she continued to try to be Antonym or use her powers as a hero, she would almost certainly die within days or even hours.

Hearth threw himself into the search for a cure, be that medical or magical. He worked alongside the Goddess Freya and several other healers from across the spectrum of parahumanity and even across the reaches of space itself. He slept little and for the first time grew irritable, as he fought to find a way to make his friend whole once more. Colin Church had devised and given Mandy a watch that would monitor her neuroleptic levels, and also gave him logs he could work from, and he doggedly sought the answer.

And then… Mandy, Evan, and Danni Shapiro left — not simply moving out of the Pentad base, but severing all ties with the Excelsiors and with the Pentad of Guardians.

Hearth was devastated, plunging into a depression that lasted months. Only with the help of the remaining former Pentad members was he able to crawl out of his shell and get perspective back. However, he, Topaz, Shooting Star, and Jetgirl decided to shutter and mothball the Pentad base and move into Excelsior Court, defining themselves purely as Excelsiors. Shooting Star believed Mandy was angry at them for being whole when she’d lost the thing she’d wanted most all her life. Topaz had no idea what to think. Jetgirl blamed Evan. And Hearth?

Hearth blamed himself. He was the Heart and the Healer, right? But when it came time to heal one fifth of his own soul? He’d failed her.

Still, with time and the warmth and love of his teammates, Hearth slowly returned to some semblance of himself… though he struggled anew when Mandy Shapiro reappeared in their lives… as a defense attorney, often defending the very people the Excelsiors had captured. It felt like a new repudiation, but there was simply nothing to be done for it.

At least, not until they learned the truth.

Note

The next events in Mandy Shapiro’s history are depicted in the story Forebears, which is still being run as of this writing. Accordingly we are not listing these events in this entry at this time.

While still reeling from the discovery that Evan and Mandy had had a second daughter, now nine years old no less, Hearth was also stunned to learn — to truly understand — that Mandy hadn’t severed contact out of anger, but out of fear. She loved them so much — especially the Pentad — that she was convinced she couldn’t have any contact with them at all or she would never be able to hold back from using her powers, and her family needed her to live. This new information changed Hearth’s view and he slowly began to crawl out of the depression that had been plaguing him for years at that point.

Unfortunately, things were about to get worse.

Click Here for Apocalypse Agenda Era History

The Apocalypse Agenda

“None of us came out of the Apocalypse Agenda the same people we were when we went in, but Hearth… there was something more about Hearth. Something that wounded him deep within his soul. At first, I thought it must have been what happened to Antonym, but honestly, I don’t think it was. And for all the injuries that Rath’s healed for all of us over the years, whatever wound he’s carrying doesn’t seem like it’s going to heal any time soon. I’m worried about him, but I have no idea what I can do.” —Truncheon
At this time, we do not know much about what the Pentad of Guardians did during the Apocalypse Agenda. It’s said that they were instrumental in the defeat of the mad god Urizen, which after all had been the cosmic purpose laid before them when they first gained their abilities, but before that could happen an undisclosed incident caused the utter destruction of the Excelsiors.

Still, while the Agenda was horrifying for every living being on Earth, Hearth had a new burden on his heart – one he wouldn’t discuss with anyone. Shooting Star, Jetgirl, and Topaz all told the others to not press the subject, and those wishes were respected.

One thing of positive note — at least at first — was that Mandy was somehow able to return to the Pentad’s side and was instrumental in their part of the victory. Unfortunately, the result left over forty percent of her body burned and Mandy herself was permanently disabled, walking with a cane and having a weak arm and leg for the rest of her life. This had also destroyed her monitor watch, and as Colin Church had died as well and even his son Connor didn’t know how Colin had made the monitor, there was no longer any means to monitor Mandy’s neuroleptic issues. That said, with her disabilities and long-term injury recovery, she wasn’t really in any position to even be tempted to use her abilities at dangerous levels. She was still unwilling to contact her old compatriots more than was absolutely necessary, but at least now Hearth – Dorian – could understand why. 

Click Here for the In Nadir History

In Nadir Era

Evvie’s Rehabilitation

Twelve weeks after the final defeat of Urizen, Mandy’s second daughter Evvie, now a fourteen year old junior elite gymnast, competes in the Junior Olympics in Las Bendiciones, California, where she wins a gold medal in the vault. Sadly, the Shapiro family’s tragedies continue when an SUV loses control of its breaks and T-bones a bus almost exactly where Evvie was sitting, leaving her with a broken leg and shattered pelvis. It seemed likely the girl would never compete again.

There was little that would cause Mandy Shapiro to reach out to her former colleagues, but her daughter was absolutely one reason she would, and she didn’t hesitate. At the same time, Mandy insisted that Dorian’s parahumanity had to be kept a secret. He was able to use healing magic that helped, of course, but mostly he worked closely with physical therapists as she healed and underwent rehab. And, where the smart money had been that Evvie might never walk again and obviously would never compete again, by the time the girl was sixteen and eligible for the Olympics she was right back in competition as a top contender. Though he had to work in secret, there were few in the know who didn’t ascribe Evvie’s recovery to the dedication of Doctor Dorian Hwan.

Not long after he finished working with Evvie, Dorian went on an extended tour of detached duty with DETAILS. It is not known what he did while he was there. Regardless of what it may have been, when he got back he returned to his semi-retirement from heroics and rededicated himself to his Viejo Bosque medical practice.

Unfortunately, while Dorian was on that tour of victory, he had no way of knowing the Shapiro family had one last tragedy: Mandy and Evan Shapiro were killed instantly when their car slipped on black ice and went over an embankment. It was four months after the fact before most heroes and any Pentad member learned their fifth member was dead.

Saving Jetgirl

Ironically, Mandy Shapiro’s death was the catalyst that finally brought the surviving Pentad members back into regular contact. Equally ironically, this tragedy seemed to be one Dorian could withstand — possibly because of his medical training, but no one could say for sure. This time, however, it was his fellow Pentad teammate Keira Holt, aka Jetgirl, who found herself falling apart in the wake of Mandy’s death. However, thanks to Hearth and Oghapogue's own Transposition Troopers Turbine Triumph, they were able to pull Jet out of her own funk and get her back doing what she did best.

The Present and Beyond

At this point, Dorian re-embraced his role as Hearth completely, as did Jetgirl and Shooting Star. (Topaz had, naturally enough, never stopped). Though they were still living in distant cities from one another, for the first time the Pentad embraced their role as Justice Wing affiliates, using the Waveport network to travel where they were needed. They were aging now, of course — well, Hearth and Jetgirl were, anyway, but being a healing specialist had given Hearth a few tricks. As of this writing, Hearth and Jetgirl spend quite a bit of time at and working out of Volary-3 in the Northern California mountains, while Topaz works out of the original Volary-1 in Crown City, Illinois and Shooting Star works out of the orbital Volary-2. Thanks to the Waveport, however, when trouble strikes the Pentad is ready to strike back.

Though, when asked why they’ve gone back to using the name ‘Pentad of Guardians’ at least unofficially, given that there are only four of them… Hearth, Jetgirl, Topaz, and Shooting Star simply tell whoever’s asking that they’ve miscounted, since there are five of them. If they’ve ever been forthcoming about the reason why, it has yet to be revealed.

Trivia

Author’s Notes

References and Stories

Omnipedia: Dominating the World of Fact One Article At A Time!
Liked it? Take a second to support Eric Burns-White on Patreon!
Exit mobile version