Kindred of the East: the Song of Lanterns
Zhou Li Jun; Forsaken Prince of Twilight; the Frightful Scholar
His head bald with the exception of the black queue hair braid falling from the back of his skull to about mid-back. Both eyes being so deep and dark shades of brown, they're nearly black. Beneath his usual attire, he bears the muscular toning and physica
Standing at approximately 5 1/2 feet tall with a small and wispy frame, Zhou could be called anything but intimidating. Were it not for the pale white pallor to his skin, he could be just another indiscernible face in the crowds of the Middle Kingdom. His head bald with the exception of the black queue hair braid falling from the back of his skull to about mid-back. Both eyes being so deep and dark shades of brown, they’re nearly black. Beneath his usual attire, he bears the muscular toning and physical stature of a practiced and maintained martial artist, although he disdains physical conflict and fighting. He bears no unusual markings of modifications. No piercings, tattoos, or even surface scars.
In most settings, The Frightful Scholar dons the attire most familiar to him during his time of life. Flowing and loose-fitting robes of predominantly white. Occasionally black or another dark, subtle color. Casual and comfortable slippers that fit the form of his feet. Upon his belt he occasionally carries a small pouch or two. The contents of which tend to vary from holistic herbs to small curios to pointless charms and baubles. If going out for extended periods of time, he may bring his linen knapsack containing a series of prayer items and perhaps another change of clothing. He prefers not to engage in the ‘inelegant’ styling of the Western populous.
He always wears s strand of metallic prayer beads of pure black color. Of average length and size, the beads appear of no peculiarities at first glance. But stick around for an extended time, you may feel it. An aura of slight detachment and apathy surround the beads, as though Yin Chi flows just beneath the surface of these small beads.
Dressing formally means elaborating on known principals of practicality and simplicity. But, one must adapt with the shifting ages, and Zhou does his best by owning a series of tuxedo and business suits. Though he rarely wears them, he is prepared with a few select outfits befitting a traveling businessman of some repute. Pin-stripes, wing-tipped shoes, and ties made of exotic materials.
Upon first impressions, Zhou Li Jun often comes across as a cold and detached sociopath with an extensive intelligence. And while the scholar believes most things in life to be little more than different variations of the same life-form built upon the precipice of death, he is far from a sociopath. He feels, but approaches these feelings with less of an active passion, and more of a calculating interpretation. Cool, methodical, and ever-hungering for lost knowledge and wisdom. In dealing with outsiders, he regards them all relatively the same. Willing to speak to most, he isn’t afraid to speak on matters of philosophy and theology. Death or Life. Anything that may offer some insight into the nature of the Great Cycle. Just don’t expect him to sympathize with a great deal.
Despite his sort of cold distance, he despises physical confrontation and is generally somewhat kind. A pacifist of some sort, he deeply frowns upon any usage of active violence. In striving for wisdom, though, he has learned time and again that on occasion, violence is necessary. But, only if it is the sole option. And never with a light heart. Do not mistake him for a weakling, though. One found believing that this Kuei-jin cannot defend himself will find themselves very sorry.
The P’o of Zhou Li Jun is a personality that is almost a complete 180 degree flip from his Hun. The Demon half of his dual soul being of depraved and debauched sadomasochism. A violent and devious creature, the P’o revels in the suffering of others and the amount of displeasure this brings to Zhou. But, the one thing that the both sides of his soul share is a cunning beyond many standards. His Demon Soul often times committing atrocities that ripple outward through the Kingdom long after the Hun has regained control. His P’o is especially hateful toward young and innocent children.
In the days of Old, there existed a particular association of martial, secretive monks known loosely as the Shaolin. A group of insular people, ever striving towards enlightenment and a complete balance of mind, body, and soul. Ever practicing their faith amidst their temples in the heart of the China, they were constantly persecuted throughout the ages for their beliefs. Forced into many conflicts throughout the past, the Shaolin were ever able to persevere. They devoted themselves so wholly to their spiritual ambitions, that it was that the Shaolin as a whole gave birth to smaller and seldom known smaller sects of monks. One such sect were the Shaolin who inhabited a small and remote temple deep within the mountainous province of Qinghai. These particular Shaolin believed that in their travels they had found an actual portal to the Spirit lands, and built their temple surrounding it, so as to guard and learn from it.And so it persisted for Ages. It was into this sect that a young and inquisitive Li Jun of the family Zhou was born.
In the year of 1925.
A childhood raised in the many scrolls and teachings of his people. Ever instructed in the ways of meditation and the martial arts. Taught over and over again that he and his people were the chosen guardians of the Yin and the Yang gateways. And so he believed.
Propelling himself to the forefront of his generation, the vastly intelligent and charismatic Zhou Li Jun often found himself the envy of his peers. But, the bane of his instructors and mentors. Constantly scolding him for being too passionate and proud in his endeavors. He needed to learn restraint as well as compassion, and as so far, he was failing. A lively creature of rebellious action and mischievous wanderings. Early in his life, he would learn that every action has its consequence.
After growing to the age of a young man, the twenty-something monk would wander the mountains and countrysides instead of attending festivities or meditation. He would search the Middle Kingdom he knew to try and reach the modern world he heard so much about. And had been warned to avoid at all costs.
The year was 1951, and he made contact.
A short time after the rise of Mao Zedong and the communist regime, Zhou found himself falling off a crumbling cliff face. Mortal wounds that landed him in the care of the closest modern medical facility. A military hospital in a small outpost not far from the location of the incident.
Intrigued by this mysterious man, the hospital staff nursed him back to health and kept him in captivity for the duration of many months while constantly interrogating him for his origins. At first, his defiance amused the officers, but before long it merely annoyed them. So, reverting to violence and torture to bring it out of him, he eventually told them all that he knew of his solitary people. Horrified in turn to learn that many of the other Shaolin monks themselves had entered into a state of obedience to the government to be allowed continued existence. To be shamed in such a way just to be allowed to live. This was dishonor worse than death.
The same dishonor that eventually took the heart of the young monk.
Disheartened by learning his family was one of the last truly free sects of the Shaolin, his faith in his people’s teachings was shaken to its core. If they had been true to themselves, then how could they fall so far from grace? If they were one of the last remaining cultures that remembered the old ways, how could they stray?
In the matter of 7 days, Zhou Li Jun’s passionate nature had caused him to renounce the faith of his people, and side with the mobilizing military force of the outpost. Hoping to subdue the remaining Qinghai Sect of Shaolin monks, the troops marched under the direction of their guide. The wayward and angered Zhou Li Jun, hoping more for answers than anything else, lead the troops to the mountain temple under one condition. That no one be harmed, and he be allowed to get all the information he desired before an official escort to the nearest town.
After the long trek, the military group surrounded the temple carefully and stormed the gates violently. Mortified at the betrayal of his new-found comrades, it was all Zhou could do but stare in disbelief as all of his people were all found and eradicated. Allowing him to live for the moment, the officers bound the final monk and forced him to stare as they systematically executed the various peasants and villagers that helped to support life at the temple. Everybody down to the last dog. The muffled screams of the gagged children continuing to haunt him for hours.
All of his people dead, the officers further humiliated the young monk by forcing him to defile and desecrate the most sacred center of their precious temple. By entering the chambers of the portals, Zhou expected to himself be drawn to the worlds of the spirits, or even worse, the world of demons for his transgressions against the guardians. For the renouncement of his faith.
But, what he found instead was a simple altar containing a long strand of metallic prayer beads. Utterly confused and further disheartened, the sad man returned to the officers holding a strand of metal beads. The only response he got to his discovery was a somber rifle butt to the face.
Awakening to the blaze of yellow and orange engulfing him, Zhou remembers very little but the excruciating pain of being burned alive. The pain and sadness of what he had done weighing heavily on his shoulders. Almost as heavy as the metal that began to burn white-hot patterns in his flesh.
With a final scream, the monk ceased to live. His body burning to ashes.
Memories fade of the lands of death for Zhou. But, he remembers a few certain aspects of his Hun’s time in the Yin World, and even fewer of the Yomi. What outshines both of these, though, is his memory of how long the torment and confusion lasted. Ages passed, but he learned nothing more, and was pained even more. All of which took place in the several months it took his P’o to return to the place of his ashes.
As the military had left the temple, they largely left everything undisturbed. Not even bothering to grant the people a proper burial.
In a moment of overwhelming pain and hardship, the Hun trapped within the mirror world, and the P’o haunting the wreckage reunited and Zhou Li Jun was given the Second Breath.
The next collection of weeks are unknown to the Scholar, as he existed as lowly chih-mei and terrorized a series of mountain villages far off at the base of the mountains. But, after some time, the rogue creature was captured and cultured until he evolved from the flesh-eating beast of horror into a Hin Kuei-jin.
And so he was relocated across the length of China to Beijing, and was tutored and taught in the ways of his species. Being taught what he was and what that meant. How he had been chosen to return for one purpose or another. Or perhaps as punishment. Or penance.
And so he learned. And so time passed.
Through a few decades of study in the ways of shen, chi, and being undead Zhou learned that throughout many things he found himself much more gifted with the Yin aspects of life, as opposed to Yang. And after much study, he discovered that what his mortal brethren had always sought to protect was not a gateway to the spirit realms, in a manner of speaking. Instead, they guarded a lone artifact. A single strand of metal prayer beads that represented a solid and physical connection to the Yin worlds.
And so he learned his people didn’t guard the gateway for the spirits, but rather a hole into a realm of Chi.
After eventually progressing past the rank of Hin, the young Zhou Li Jun almost immediately set out from Beijing to learn as much as he could. A new-found purpose in his rank with the most appropriate Song of The Shadow Dharma.
After a long, but direct route through the center of China, he eventually returned to the temple. Overgrown and empty, save a single strand of metal beads in the center of the courtyard.
The year was 1990. And so he traveled.
In a south eastern direction he went until arriving in the port of Hong Kong. Remaining there for a few years, Zhou joined a court of some small repute and continued his path toward hopeful redemption and enlightenment.
For it was that he believed only in continuing his mortal clan’s sacred duty could he transcend. All the while learning more of death and life in an attempt to better understand his exact purpose and methodology. All the while the terrified screams and violent visions of his past haunting him. So much so that he swore off using his martial knowledge unless absolutely necessary. While suffering was bound to happen, and he was bound to witness it.. That didn’t mean he had to be the one to cause it.
So he believed. And so he left Hong Kong.
It was near the turn of the millennium that the Kuei-jin withdrew himself from his court, and departed for the Japan. While many didn’t understand his desire to travel west, even fewer knew the precise reason as to why. For, the forever young monk, the dank streets of Hong Kong had provided many lessons. Enough to allow him some modicum of success in his studies. Advancement and enlightenment on a small scale, but with so much more to learn out on the horizon.
So, with his characteristic detachment he left the port and arrived in Japan, where he was greeted by the Bishamon uji and given a place in the Tokyo Courts.