I saw some good response to Lizette, a comparatively young Kindred whose modern revolutionary Embrace grounded the idea of “Children of the Revolution” in a context of what players and Storytellers might be able to do with the idea of domain and the limited understanding of stagnant Elders. By contrast, here we have Meixiu, a similarly young vampire (fewer than 40 years as a Kindred), who would fit into a political chronicle, but would also have a lot to offer a more mystical or occult-focused chronicle. Here are some cool highlights for her:
- She’s a good bridge to the Kindred of the East without being kuei-jin herself, reinforcing that it’s a World of Darkness and not just a western Europe and North America of Darkness.
- Her haven is at a consistent location, but she’s always on the move and lookout for a particular set of artifacts. That means she might come to the troupe’s domain, or a coterie that specializes in occult interests might have a reason to go to her. She has a few elements of her agenda that are left deliberately open-ended (the plutocrat and the museum) that could easily be a part of any chronicle’s home domain and thus provide a point of introduction.
- The occult aspect of her background isn’t tied to the obvious Tremere approach, so she provides an example for how characters who aren’t inherently tied to the supernatural can still find themselves pulled into its horrific orbit.
- Similarly, her Malkavian derangement takes a form that’s tied into the overarching structure of the World of Darkness. She’s no fishmalk, but neither is she a Hannibal Lecter. Instead, her madness is tied to something that might well end up being true, even if her perspective on it isn’t. That, to me, is a wonderful literary use of madness, along the lines of the old chestnut, “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not actually out to get you.”
<1>Meixiu, the Black Dragon Princess
<n>The Kindred have long sought to better understand their “cousins” in the Far East, the so-called Cathayans. These inscrutable vampires pose both a threat and an obstacle to the Kindred, some of whom seek to gain a foothold in Asia while others aim to forestall any similar gains by the Cathayans in their Western domains. To this end, the Camarilla in particular has sought to create diplomatic ties to its kuei-jin kin, most often by cautiously welcoming certain of the Eastern Kindred to their domains as emissaries of sorts, from whom they can glean information and possibly even cultivate influence in a meaningful way.
Much less frequently, a western Kindred will actually travel to China, Japan, or another Cathayan domain to directly engage the local undead, either in some diplomatic capacity or for more personal reasons. Rare is the Kindred who remains in the East for any length of time, however. As vigilant as the Kindred are about outsiders, they are nothing as compared to the watchful Cathayans who are xenophobically protective of their own territories. Even Kindred who are welcomed as guests usually have a deadline by which time they must leave, so as not to “distract” the Eastern vampires. During their stay they often endure the close scrutiny of their hosts and they are strictly forbidden to engage in any behavior that might upset the intricate customs that govern kuei-jin society. This is especially the case with regards to creating ghouls among Asian mortals. However, nothing is so proscribed as the practice of Embracing one of the native kine. The stories that recount the punishments for such a crime are as gruesome as they are instructive. Consequently, few recognized Western Kindred have been sired in the domains of the Cathayans.
One of these rarities makes her haven in Washington, DC. What is most remarkable is that she is entirely unaware of the uniqueness of her Embrace. Since the night she was stolen from the ranks of the living, she has been wholly convinced that she is unlike the other creatures of the night who prowl the nation’s capital in search of blood. For more than two decades, she has believed that she is one of the Cathayans, one of the Ten Thousand Immortals, and that it is her duty or karma to overthrow those Cathayans who have become possessed by the demons of Diyu, the Chinese Hell. She strives to become powerful enough both personally and through those she can command to topple the Communist Party of China (CPC), which she believes is a tool of these possessed immortals, and thereby unlock the gate of Heaven that will otherwise remain forever closed to her.
Meixiu was in her last year of study at the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing in 1989. Her father was a mid-level salary man with an automotive manufacturer, a figure she admired even though he was rarely present, preferring to spend much of his time with a mistress and a bottle rather than at home with his sickly wife and bright child. Meixiu had an unremarkable childhood, though her academic achievements marked her as a girl who would likely have successful future. As she blossomed into womanhood, though, her parents felt that her newfound beauty was a gift that should not be wasted, and they sought to marry her to the nephew of her father’s boss. She refused the arrangement, furious that even her mother would allow her to be used in this way, and looked for a way to avoid this fate.
Chen Zhaoxing was a professor of Law at CUPL whom Meixiu had known from attending a few university seminars open to the public. She admired his charm even if she did not agree with his political views. Zhaoxing was a strong supporter of Hu Yaobang, the retired former Communist Party General Secretary famous for a lifetime of pro-reform policies that ultimately led to his removal and ill treatment by the regime. Ironically, it was her beauty that won her his attention, which soon become full patronage. Zhaoxing, smitten by the girl, used his influence to have her admitted to the university. Given the poor economic climate and the lack of prospects for student graduates, her father allowed her the opportunity, sure that when she had finished her studies she would make an even more valuable bride.
She proved an adequate student, but her studies took a backseat to other, far more pressing matters. Meixiu became embroiled in the increasingly strident student movement that demanded an end to government cronyism and corruption and a solution to the stagnant economy, spurred on by her mentor and lover, Zhaoxing. She joined various student organizations, signed petitions, and carried a demonstration sign at a number of gatherings, caught up in the emotion of the times.
When Hu Yaobang died of a heart attack on April 15, 1989 Meixui camped on the campus lawn with many thousands of other students eulogizing Hu and demanding that the CPC officially renounce its criticism of his political legacy. She marched with the crowd to Tiananmen Square along with similar throngs from Peking University and Tsinghua University and helped lay the impromptu wreath two days later to commemorate Hu’s contributions to reform and liberalization. After being pushed out of the plaza by police, Meixiu and thousands others marched back later that night and drafted a series of demands that required the government to publicly acknowledge the need for reform.
What began as a simple protest against the dishonoring of a much-loved liberal politician grew over the next seven weeks to become an international tragedy that forever changed a nation, with the tides of the revolutionary movement changing many times before it was finally snuffed out. The student gatherings announced boycotts and strikes and, enflamed by passion and a feeling that they might be ignored, erupted in open looting and mayhem. The government sought to open dialogue with the students, even if they had no intent to given in to the demands of the youth.
A notorious editorial in the April 26th edition of the Communist-controlled People’s Daily newspaper that painted the students as traitors plotting the overthrow of the government pushed the chaos even further. More than 100,000 student protestors responded, joined by factory workers and others who saw them as true patriots, marching through Beijing. Even when the government sought to appease at least some of the protestors’ demands, the situation grew worse. Hunger strikes were staged in Tiananmen Square with the aim of embarrassing the Communist Party leadership on the eve of an historic visit by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
On May 20th, the Chinese government declared martial law and in the first days of June, the military finally moved in with tanks and soldiers to forcibly clear Tiananmen Square of the tens of thousands of encamped protesters who had made it their home for more than a month. Even once cleared, terrible violence emerged in the surrounding neighborhoods and thousands were killed or injured on both sides of the battle. When it was over, the world was aghast at the atrocities and responded with heavy condemnation and sanctions. The Communist leadership sought to downplay the events and to distance itself from the worst violence, but mostly they sought to silence or arrest anyone who might dare revive such protests.
For Meixiu, the seven weeks were personally even more transformative.
Some months prior to the Tiananmen Square Massacre, a Malkavian named Colin McAllister had arrived in Beijing from Hong Kong, where he had cultivated a network of influence for over a year as a representative of his sire’s financial interests. In February, he had felt an overpowering urge to visit the Forbidden City in Beijing, convinced that there was something or someone there that he needed to find, though he was unsure of the purpose. Upon arriving, he was brought before a representative of the Imperial City’s Cathayans and was formally welcomed, though he was assigned a chaperone for the duration of his stay. When the protests first broke out in April, Colin’s escort restricted his movements such that Tiananmen Square and the universities were off-limits, so that the Malkavian could not bear personal witness to what had the potential to become a cultural embarrassment.
But Colin’s curiosity and assurance that he was supposed to be in the Forbidden City persuaded him to ignore the warnings and elude his chaperone’s accompaniment. With violent protests a fortuitous distraction, he was able to slip into the imperial palace and find the thing he was meant to find, a relic of ancient bone bearing carved inscriptions that had an almost hypnotic power over the delighted Kindred. He absconded with the artifact and fled with the other looters into the night, avoiding capture from his desperate escort by hiding among the students. When he was struck by machine gun fire, the Beast erupted and he lapses into a frenzy of bloodlust and rage that didn’t end until just before sunrise, when he found the crimson rage finally subsiding.
In his arms was the beautiful young Meixiu, injured by gunfire herself and easy prey for the rampaging Malkavian amid the nightmarish chaos along the blood-soaked Chang’an Avenue. As some semblance of control returned to him, Colin felt himself overcome by emotions of horror for what he had done, as well as fear of what would happen to him if the Cathayans found him. Without thinking further, he Embraced the girl in the ever-doomed hope of saving her, then he dragged her to safety inside the ruin of a destroyed shop while he found more secure refuge further from the scene of the crime.
Meixiu awakened to her new existence completely unaware of how it had happened. The only evidence she possessed that linked her to her sire was the artifact he had stolen from the Forbidden City, for he left it to her out of a sense of guilt that possessed him at the last moment before he left her. For more than a month she acclimated to — what was she? A predator? A parasite? — though it took every ounce of cunning, willpower, and spiritual effort to adapt as she did. When finally captured by the Cathayans and dragged before the eldest, Cha’ang-Li, Meixiu was first thoroughly questioned about her origins, and then subjected to a series of gruesome interrogations both physical and supernatural. As she was unable to reveal anything, she was proclaimed a by-blow of some laowai interloper and sentenced to destruction.
More for political reasons than out of any concern for the terrified Malkavian, that sentence was “mitigated by purchase” and she was delivered instead into the hands of Martino della Passaglia of Clan Giovanni. He was aware that she knew the location of an Oracle Bone, the artifact her sire left with her, and it was of great importance to the necromancer. Once under his protection, he had her retrieve it from its hiding place. No longer interested in her and unwilling to be held responsible for her, especially given the severe mood swings that plagued her and posed a regular threat to the stability of his domain, he sent her to America in 1993 to pay off a debt to Chas Voyager, a powerful Toreador in Washington, DC, with whom he maintained substantial financial dealings.
Chas was a member of the Primogen and one of the most influential Harpies in the domain of Washington, DC. He was ecstatic when he received his “gift” from della Passaglia, especially because he could not determine Meixiu’s true nature. Importantly, the little the young creature knew of her own kind only made it harder to discern any truth, for she had filled many of the tremendous gaps in her Kindred origin with her own fanciful and rather egocentric explanation for her condition, something her Giovanni ward had not discouraged. Her answers to the many questions posed by the Kindred of the domain made her a favorite among the well-heeled Damned, even if she was viewed far more as a divertissement than a peer.
As with all such things, Elysium’s fascination with Meixiu waned, and just as quickly, so did the Toreador primogen’s. She was formally released and Prince Marcus Vitel even recognized her small domain near the George Washington University campus in the hope that one night he might find some use for her, and given the demographics of the city, perhaps even lead to some arrangement with an influential Cathayan diplomat.
Once released, Meixiu constructed a personal cosmology that explained her condition to her, based on the legendry she had already patched together in her deranged mind. First and foremost, she was sure that she was not one of the western Kindred, especially one of the ruinous Malkavians. No, she was a Cathayan, at least as she imagined them to be, and she was not just any Cathayan, either. She began to identify herself as Hēi Lóng Gōngzhǔ or the Black Dragon Princess, a title to which she aspired based on her fractured memories of Chinese legend. She believed it was her destiny to one day defeat the “Demon Princes,” those Cathayans who currently ruled her homeland and were possessed by demons from the most foul realm of Diyu.
She understood her vampiric state, and that of all other Cathayans, to be a just suffering for failings of morality while alive. Only by repaying karma could she return to her original form, and to do this should would have to become a paragon of ascetic morality. However, her own salvation would have to wait until she first destroyed the Demon Princes, for only as one of the Ten Thousand Immortals would she have a chance at defeating such mighty enemies. And to do this she would first need to greatly increase her own power.
Meixiu’s misdirected research had led her to conclude that the way she was going to do this was by obtaining the Bái Zé Tu, a legendary grimoire authored by none other than the god-like Yellow Emperor that contained the secrets of all 11,520 types of supernatural creatures. With this tome in her hands she would know her foes’ every strength and weakness with that wisdom would be unstoppable. Of course, she would first have to find this sacred scroll, but again she was sure that she had discovered the means to accomplish this task, too.
The Oracle Bone that her sire had left her and that had been confiscated by the Giovanni was not the only one of its kind, she learned. While very rare, a number of similar artifacts had been discovered by archaeologists over the years. Experts claim that the script on these desiccated bones and tortoise shells is the oldest record of the language spoken during the Shang Dynasty. Her studies had led her to the conviction that the location of the Bái Zé Tu was recorded on one or more of the Oracle Bones. Therefore, she turned her attentions to obtaining and deciphering as many of them as she could until she unlocked the hidden resting place of the eldritch Bái Zé Tu.
In a relatively short time the Black Dragon Princess has gained a notable degree of influence in her adopted city, most of which she uses to directly aid her in acquiring more Oracle Bones and deciphering them. As might be expected, she first sought the support of the local Chinese community, primarily cajoling the aid of students and others who would believe her to be a peer. A number of the Tiananmen Square protesters managed to escape China in the aftermath of the uprising, and more than a handful found their way to the Washington, DC area, and to its universities. The GW campus boasted some of these and Meixiu queried them first to aid her quest. She also extending her influence beyond the student population and into the larger Chinese community, even into the diplomatic corps, using her attractive physicality as well as her supernatural gifts to convert Communists to her way of thinking.
Her greatest asset came from her involvement in the growing Falun Gong movement that had been founded by Li Hongzhi in Changchun in 1992. The practitioners of this physical, moral, and spiritual teaching that has its roots in qigong and became popular in the mid-1990s was increasingly viewed by the Chinese Communist Party as a threat to society and government. A harsh campaign to paint the Falun Gong as a heresy aimed at taking down the government paved the way for massive protests in 1999 that were nearly as impressive as those a decade before that ended with the Tiananmen Square massacre. With Li Hongzhi in New York, the protests crushed, and many of those involved jailed or worse, the activist wing of the movement relocated outside China.
Meixiu helps the Falun Gong in Washington, DC by funneling resources to the movement’s local organization, the Falun Dafa Association. A select group of members belong to the Tears of the Black Dragon, a secret society and ghoul cult created by Meixiu whose fundamental purpose is to serve as her herd. Its members believe that she is indeed the Black Dragon Princess and, while not granted complete understanding of her nature or purposes, they have been conditioned with enough of her delusion to both motivate them and make them useful tools. Every day this group and the larger organization have their agents on the National Mall and in front of the White House handing out pamphlets and staging small rallies in the hope of ultimately winning American support for their cause, even while some among them seek more vessels to sate the unending hunger of the Black Dragon Princess.
Cha’ang-Li and his Blood Court paid no heed to the rumors of one of their kind in the United States capital at first. However, in the past decade they have learned more that has convinced them that some vampire in Washington, DC actively supports the Falun Gong and tgus must be working against their broader interests. They have heard the name Hēi Lóng Gōngzhu and, while they can’t definitively determine whether this is someone they should fear or not, they are worried. Their greatest fear is the influence this Black Dragon Princess might have over their minions in Washington and elsewhere in the West. To uncover the truth, they have sent mortal agents to infiltrate Washington’s Chinese community in search of information about the mysterious vampire. Indeed, the Blood Court has made a special effort to seek the Falun Gong and its various associated organizations, including the DC office of the movement’s official western newspaper, the New York-based The Epoch Times. Very recently the Quincunx has sent its own kind to investigate, concerned that so far they have made no real progress, especially in an age when censorship has become more and more difficult.
Some of the Kindred of DC regard Meixiu with continued interest, though most, by and large, do not view her as a particular threat. While her status as a curiosity is long gone, she still commands a degree of admiration and respect on account of her mysterious identity, especially among the domain’s political outsiders. A few of the city’s Kindred have attempted to call her out regarding her origins, with one remarkable performance by a trio of Malkavians a few years back quite literally naming her sire and the circumstances of her Embrace, but the nature of the demonstration as well as the reputation of the participants achieved nothing more substantial than making the matter seem all the more incomprehensible.
Tonight, Meixiu appears in Elysium less frequently, in particular because she has become aware that there seem to be Cathayan forces moving against her and her interests. By taking her search for the Oracle Bones further and further beyond the traditional boundaries of the DC domain, she hopes that she can build real alliances with other domains’ Kindred and thus call upon more allies to protect her from such threats should they become serious. However, her bipolar condition makes these inter-domain forays difficult and more than once they have actually hampered her goals, worrying Princes and Bishops of her stability and further suggesting to some that whatever she’s actually up to might rouse the ire of some mysterious nemesis.
To her credit, Meixiu feels she is making real progress with the Oracle Bones. She keeps five of these artifacts in a special chamber in her DC haven and has another two within her sights. One currently occupies a public museum and another belongs to the private collection of a famed mortal plutocrat. Her attempts to translate the millennia-old engravings, however, have been less than triumphant. Three times she paid heavily for consultations with experts of dubious legal status that she believed would uncover her prize based on her translator’s best work, and four times she failed to locate the mythical Bái Zé Tu. These failures do not deter her, however. On the contrary, with each passing night Meixiu’s delusions grow stronger and she is further empowered to follow her destiny as the Black Dragon Princess, scion of the Yellow Emperor.
Sire: Colin McAllister
Apparent Age: Early 20s
Physical: Strength 2, Dexterity 3, Stamina 3
Social: Charisma 4, Manipulation 3, Appearance 5
Mental: Perception 4, Intelligence 3, Wits 2
Talents: Awareness 1, Intimidation 2, Subterfuge 3
Skills: Etiquette 1, Stealth 3
Knowledges: Academics 2, Computer 1, Law 1, Occult 2, Politics 2, Expert Knowledge (Chinese Mythology) 4
Disciplines: Auspex 3, Dementation 4, Obfuscate 3
Necromantic Rituals: Insight, Knowing Stone. Meixiu has no formal knowledge of the Discipline of Necromancy, having gleaned what little she knows from furtive observation of her della Passaglia “patron.” Her difficulties for these rituals is always 10 and requires the expenditure of a Willpower point to have any chance of working. Still, something occasionally gives her necromantic feedback, despite her not understanding the principles of the Black Art….
Backgrounds: Contacts 4, Domain 3, Fame 1, Herd 3, Resources 3, Retainers 1, Status 1
Derangements: Bipolar Disorder (Clan Weakness), Delusions
Virtues: Conscience 5, Self-Control 3, Courage 2
Morality: Humanity 6
Blood Pool/Max per Turn: 13/1
Image: Meixiu appears as a pretty Chinese graduate student and typically dresses in a fashion that suits the assumption. She usually keeps her black hair in a long ponytail and wears glasses to give additional weight to her words. She is of medium height, but high heels increase that and with her bearing give the impression that she is taller than she is. When among the Kindred she often affects the distasteful stereotype of the “mysterious Asian vampire,” with long silk patterned garments and her hair done up in an elaborate style.
Roleplaying Hints: As the Black Dragon Princess you uphold a special code of honor that regards truth, justice, and strict morality above all else. At the same time, you will stop at almost nothing to obtain the things you need to fulfill your destiny. You play up your mysterious nature and undying youthful beauty to gain what influence you can, but you wield them as weapons whenever prudent. The Kindred are beneath you, but you will suffer them until the time is right for you to show your true nature to them and your true foes.
Haven: Meixiu’s haven is a four-story townhouse in the heart of Foggy Bottom and the campus of the George Washington University. The interior is decorated like a small, private museum, with vases, artifacts, artwork, and furnishings throughout, some of which are replicas and some are legitimate artifacts. The top floor is her private chamber and contains a walk-in closet that she has fortified so as to protect her most valuable possessesions, including her Oracle Bone scripts.
Influence: Meixiu has done quite well with her Falun Gong and student minions. She continues to make inroads with Chinese diplomats, too, usually via their offspring who are eager to believe the tales of the Black Dragon Princess. Meixiu knows that her time in DC is probably limited, however, and she seeks to “beat the Kindred at their own game,” building a balance of prestation favors and extending promises she hasn’t yet decide if she’ll honor.