Qing, House of Mysteries
In the short period of its existence, House Qing has more than earned the epithet “House of Mysteries”. The appearance of the House, seemingly from nowhere, has upset the delicate balance of Mellorian politics and thrown many existing alliances into disarray. The other Great Houses work ceaselessly to learn the origin of Qing’s power; hoping to discover the secret root that fuels the bizarre magic of the Qing Wizards. But they have no idea that they labour in vain.
The truth is too simple and too shocking for them to countenance: the power of House Qing is generated from outside of the World Tree, from a bargain with an ancient spirit that none suspect. In Mellorian, magic is usually derived solely from the World Tree, or it is gained via evil acts from the Wyrm of Darkness. The taint of evil is not detected in the magic of the Qing by other Houses, and so they believe that the World Tree must be the answer. In this blindness, the Wizards of House Qing are able to prosper.
It has been five years since Ru Wen, the Primus of House Qing, presented himself at the Council of Magic and demanded to be heard. That his ornate palanquin was borne aloft by the dominated champions of the other Houses was a statement of such brutal vigour that none challenged his right. Ru Wen spun a tale of such brazen, intricate falsehood that the other Houses were forced to permit House Qing to take a seat on the Council, and thus gain the status of a Great House. They desired to keep this new rival close, to better study them and identify their strengths and weaknesses. Learning the secrets of a foe that could strip them of their will represented a temptation none could deny.
The success of his minions has greatly pleased the spirit known as ‘Lord Qing’. Although he considers the machinations of humans as the working of ants beneath his feet, he acknowledges that he is constrained within their world for the time being. He knows that he has neither amassed sufficient power to resist the combined efforts of the other Great Houses, nor the power needed to fuel his ultimate aim: to return to a form of flesh and to recreate the race of his people once more.
The details of his past are a secret that he has not even revealed to his agents, for the story of what was shall inform what will be once more. He will have no use for his underlings once his aims are met, and so they will be swept away along with the remainder of the human detritus infesting Mellorian.
Lord Qing was once a high-ranking scientist within his civilization. He was obsessed with transferring consciousness between bodies, and thus guaranteeing the elite of his race a form of immortality. His people had been unsuccessfully involved in a protracted and vicious war with their great rivals – the people that would come to be known to the World as the Cirdaecean Hegemony. As any student of history is aware, the Cirdaeceans went on to become the dominant race in the region, and of Lord Qing’s race, nothing is known.
Sensing the end of his line was close at hand, Lord Qing was forced to place his consciousness within a series of slaves bred to contain his great intellect. He sealed his ‘family’ into a tomb, leaving behind some clues to its whereabouts in the eventuality that the Cirdaeceans were defeated. He believed that the grievous damage done to both civilizations would mean his enforced isolation should be somewhat brief, but this was not the case. Over the years his stock of slaves died out, and in a last desperate attempt to persist beyond their rotting flesh, he bound his essence to a jade statue.
In the darkness of the sepulchre Lord Qing waited; time flowed around him like a raging river, and above him nations fell and then rose anew. Over time the arcane science binding Lord Qing to the jade gave him a level of control over it, so that he is animate within the confines of the tomb.
Four thousand years have passed since Lord Qing sealed himself away from his enemies, and madness from the long confinement has befouled the grandiose intellect that allowed him to cheat death. Yet threads of that genius remain, and Lord Qing believes his work can not only return him to life but return his people back to the World. Without the depredations of the Cirdaeceans to hold them in check, he dreams of conquest and a new order that will shape the World under a single iron will.
When he was finally rediscovered, and had quickly moved to ensure the service of this new race, Lord Qing saw an opportunity to enact his plans. Though he remains bound to his tomb, each of his servants has been forced to pluck out one of their own eyes and take a new eye fashioned from his body in replacement. In his crypt, he maintains a bubbling cauldron containing the eyes of his minions, and through his insidious, magically-corrupted science, a link is formed between their flesh and his. Each of his servants is now a pair of eyes and ears, and the influence of Lord Qing is no longer limited to his dusty environs.
Those men and women that stumbled onto the tomb of Lord Qing, and that bent their knees to his will, are now the undisputed masters of Kul’Shen. Every whim is met; every harsh idea is implemented in full. They rule in the name of the mad spirit, but they unfortunately share in that madness. Their greed, conceit, and cruelty have been magnified many times over by the overwhelming consciousness of their new master. This effect has only increased with time, and the actions of House Qing become ever more erratic.
Ru Wen now spends a great deal of his time trying to determine ways to overcome the worst effects of his master’s madness, for he realises that in time it will force his underlings into little more than gibbering wrecks. The aims of his master have become doubly important, for in achieving the quest of Lord Qing to return to flesh, the ‘Wizards’ of Qing believe they will share in his power and shall free themselves from the madness that plagues them.
Lord Qing has instructed that his servants harvest the power of the World Tree, and they must do this via drawing it through those few that can channel it – Wizards. Ru Wen and his disciples must seek out rival Wizards and isolate them before drawing out their power and leaving them a desiccated husk.
In order that his servants may achieve such a task, Lord Qing has shared with them many ancient secrets of enslavement, and the power to utilise them. Thus, the true power of Qing is to enslave the minds of others. Wizards are harder to gain purchase over, for the magic they wield offers a natural barrier to the energies that House Qing employ.
Still, it is likely that even a Primus would not be completely immune to the effect, especially if many Wizards of Qing combined their efforts. For this reason the other Great Houses are terrified of this mysterious power. Though they do not suspect the aims behind its use, the very concept of losing their free will is anathema to the other Houses, and must be avoided at all costs.
Under the leadership of Lord Qing and the canny machinations of Ru Wen – the ‘first among slaves’ – Kul’Shen is experiencing a rapid and dramatic resurgence. The knowledge of the ancient spirit has brought fame and funding to the city and has earned the jealousy of their rivals. Kul’Shen’s star is rising and the shadow it casts over its nearby neighbour Vaetoran heralds a war between them. With the intellect of Lord Qing and the stolen energies of the World Tree at his command, this shadow will not long be limited to the East. The Jade Lord’s hunger shall see the entire continent aflame, and from the ashes a terrible new race shall arise…