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The Chinese Brotherhood of Assassins, also known at various points as the Beijing Brotherhood,[1] is the Guild of Assassins in China, one of the few branches to have existed for more than a thousand years.

Throughout imperial history, the Chinese Assassins were responsible for countering the atrocities perpetrated by emperors aligned with the Templars. In light of this, they were behind the assassinations of notable rulers such as Qin Shi Huang, the Yongle Emperor, and the Jiajing Emperor. Under the Song dynasty, they partook in the defense of the nation from the Mongol Empire, personally slaying the Great Khan Möngke Khan although they would ultimately fail to save it from conquest under Kublai Khan.

The Brotherhood's long history, paralleling that of the nation it represents, is marked by major fluctuations in its fortunes as it battled their Templar counterpart, the Chinese Rite. During the Ming dynasty, they were the frequent target of purges enacted by the government in concert with the Templars. Most infamously, the Great Rites Controversy during the reign of the Jiajing Emperor exterminated the guild down to a lone Assassin: Shao Jun. Despite these calamities, the Chinese Brotherhood has endured, with Jun restoring the branch after eliminating each of the leading Templars responsible for the purge.

HistoryEdit

Qin dynastyEdit

In 221 BCE, Zhao Zheng, supported by the Templars, unified China under his banner and became the first Emperor of Imperial China, proclaiming himself Qin Shi Huangdi and starting the Qin dynasty.[2]

His tyrannical reign lasted only a decade as in 210 BCE,[3] the Assassin Wei Yu killed the tyrant Emperor with a spear. For this deed, Wei Yu was immortalized as one of the most renowned members of the Brotherhood.[4]

Song dynastyEdit

During the Song dynasty (960–1279), China had to contend with the onslaught of the Mongol Empire. Fearing the devastation that the Mongols would wrought, Assassins throughout Asia actively sought to halt their advances. Genghis Khan, the founder of the Mongol Empire, was slain by the Mongol Assassin Qulan Gal at Xingqing, capital of the nearby Xia Empire in 1227, but this only forestalled China's fall to the Mongols.[5]

The conflict dragged on for the next few decades with the Song's grasp on the country continuing to crumble before the might of the Mongol forces. In 1259, a Chinese Assassin perished in the midst of saving Diaoyu Fortress from a Mongol assault, leaving his daughter, Zhang Zhi, to discover his corpse in the aftermath. Despite his doubts about her motives, Kang, the late Assassin's Mentor, acquiesced to adopting Zhi into the order and completing her training. His misgivings were proven true when Zhi defied his warnings to prioritize duty over revenge and personally infiltrated the Mongol camp to assassinate the Great Khan Möngke Khan. Though she was successful, she was crippled during her escape by the future Templar Bayan, and Kang used her disability as an added pretext for expelling her from the order.[6]

Ming dynastyEdit

Yongle era purgeEdit

ChineseAssassinsEscape

Li Tong and an apprentice escaping the purge

By the early 15th century, the Chinese Assassins were led by the Mentor Fang Xiaoru. In 1402, the imperial throne was usurped by Zhu Di with the help of the Templars. Under Zhu Di's reign as the Yongle Emperor, thousands of Assassins were rounded up and executed, including Fang Xiaoru. However, two Assassins, a young female named Li Tong and another apprentice, were able to escape the purge with an Apple of Eden. Li devoted herself to protecting the Apple and keeping it out of the Yongle Emperor's hands.[7]

In 1424, while the Yongle Emperor was preoccupied with the suppression of a rebellion near the Gobi Desert, Li Tong slipped into the Emperor's tent and assassinated him.[7]

Fall of the BrotherhoodEdit

The Yongle Emperor would not be the last Ming emperor to align with Templar interests. Periodically, the Assassins and Templar continued to vie for influence in the imperial court from behind the scenes. In 1506 during the reign of the Zhengde Emperor, the Master Assassin Wang Yangming was banished from the capital of Beijing by Liu Jin, a powerful eunuch. Though Liu Jin was the leader of the Eight Tigers, a group of corrupt eunuchs composed of Templars, the Templars at this time failed to deduce Yangming's true allegiances, believing him to be merely a Neo-Confucian philosopher.[1]

In 1510, the Assassins staged the Prince of Anhua rebellion named after Zhu Zhifan, the Prince of Anhua, but with Templar assistance, Liu Jin was perfectly poised to defeat it. Jin was soon afterwards implicated in treason by another Tiger Zhang Yong and summarily executed by the Zhengde Emperor as part of a plot by Zhang Yong to seize leadership of their group. A decade of respite for the Assassins seemed to follow, as the Tigers decided to play their hands carefully and bide their time after Jin's execution.[1]

In 1521, upon the death of the Zhengde Emperor, the government was weakened by the ensuing succession dispute. The Templars saw this distraction as an opportunity to destroy the Assassins, but a former concubine of the late emperor, Shao Jun, having discovered the shadow war on her own, managed to warn Wang Yangming of the surprise operation. Acting swiftly, Yangming led the Assassins in a preemptive strike on the Templars in the Forbidden City, but in spite of the presence of his best agents, they were routed.[1]

Capitalizing on this critical victory, the Templars used the momentum to enact a city-wide purge, capturing and executing many Assassins, their associates, and any innocents with tangential ties to them. In the wake of this disaster, Wang Yangming ordered the Chinese Brotherhood, along with all their allies, to withdraw from Beijing entirely, regrouping at Maijishan Grottoes. Jun was thus spirited away with the Assassins for training. In the meantime, the Templars managed to install their own puppet, Zhu Houcong, as the new Jiajing Emperor.[1]

Three years later, under the machinations of the Templars, the Jiajing Emperor triggered what became known as the Great Rites Controversy, where he had his father declared emperor posthumously, defying expectations to maintain an unbroken line of succession. The Great Rites Controversy became a pretext for the Jiajing Emperor to purge dissidents and the medium through which the Templars could eradicate their mortal enemies. Across the nation, Assassin safehouses were raided by the Templars, with even the headquarters at Maijishan Grottoes falling to a Templar assault. Yangming, well-known to the Templars by then as the Assassin Mentor, retreated into hiding and handed leadership over to Zhu Jiuyuan.[1]

With virtually every Assassin worthy of the name dead save Wang Yangming, Zhu Jiuyuan, and Shao Jun, the Brotherhood was all but exterminated and the Templars had total control over the country. Not even knowing if Yangming was still alive, Jiuyuan and Jun decided that their only recourse was to seek help from Assassins abroad, specifically the legendary Ezio Auditore da Firenze of the Italian Brotherhood. Dogged by Templars every step of their journey, Jiuyuan was finally slain by their agents in Venice, but Shao Jun survived and successfully made contact with Ezio at his villa in Tuscany.[1]

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Shao Jun and Ezio Auditore, before her departure

Though the elderly former Mentor was initially reluctant to teach Jun, as she represented everything he had sworn to set aside when he settled down, he eventually relented and completed her training. Before she left for her journey home, Ezio presented her with a Precursor box as a parting gift to be opened only in a times of dire need.[1][8]

RestorationEdit

Vengeance China (11)

A Chinese Assassin reporting to the Mentor Shao Jun

Shao Jun's quest was a success; she managed to kill the Eight Tigers, including their Master, Zhang Yong, in 1532. Her Mentor, Wang Yangming, was killed by Yong three years prior. They also succeeded in assassinating Emperor Jiajing by giving him a false elixir of life.[1] By 1582, her Brotherhood was in contact with their Japanese brothers, with Liu Yan being present in the country with the task of taking Oda Nobunaga's Sword of Eden to safety, following Nobunaga's assassination by Yamauchi Taka.[9]

By the early 18th century, the Chinese Brotherhood was still strong, as Ah Tabai, Mentor of the West Indies Brotherhood, possessed contacts as far as China. [10]

Modern timesEdit

By 2015, at least one Assassin cell operated in China. That year, they were aided by the Japanese Assassins, including Kiyoshi Takakura, who were sent by Japanese Mentor Saeko Mochizuki, in their search for Álvaro Gramática's secret laboratory in which he planned to replicate an Isu's body with the help of the Shroud.[11]

In 2016, the Chinese Assassin Yanmei was ordered by Assassin leader Gavin Banks to assist another Assassin, Griffin, and the teenagers Natalya Aliyev, David Collins and Javier Mondragón in finding the Tomb of Möngke Khan and retrieving a prong of the Trident of Eden. However, Yanmei was ultimately killed by the Templar Isaiah after he recovered the fear prong and used its power against everyone, killing her when she tried to attack him.[6]

In February 2017, an Assassin cell led by Barindra Mitra assisted Charlotte de la Cruz in her efforts to gather informations about the Templars' Phoenix Project. Infiltrating an office of Abstergo in a skyscraper in Hong Kong, which had in fact been abandoned by the Templars, the Assassins were ambushed by an unidentified group. Barindra and her cell were all killed with only de la Cruz and the tech expert, Guernica Moneo, escaping.[12]

TechniquesEdit

The Chinese Assassins used Hidden Blades,[1] and in some instances, wore bracers equipped with needles. Being located close to the hands, the Assassins could quickly throw multiple needles in a row.[8]

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Shao Jun using her concealed blade

Uncomfortable with the traditional Hidden Blade, Shao Jun developed the Hidden Footblade, which came to good use with Chinese fighting techniques, that involved the use of the legs and feet more often.[1]

The Chinese Assassins would eventually use rope darts created by Shao Jun after her return to China,[1] for which she became renowned.[13]

AppearanceEdit

The Chinese Assassins' robes did not always meet normal Assassin customs. On many occasions, they wore ordinary Chinese clothing, making their affiliation hardly recognizable.[4][7]

It was only during the height of the Renaissance period in Europe that the Chinese Assassins ordinarily wore hoods; despite this, the Assassins did not necessarily wear white, as Shao Jun wore black Assassin robes.[8]

MembersEdit

Allies and puppetsEdit

Ming dynasty

Republic era

ReferencesEdit

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