- "Take some rest, little sister. Together, we will free our land from the Templars and their pawns, Zhang Yong and his Tigers. We will rebuild our Brotherhood."
- ―Wang Yangming assuring Shao Jun, 1526.[src]
Wang Yangming (1472 – 1529), born Wang Shouren, was an idealist Neo-Confucian philosopher, official, educationist, calligraphist and general of the Ming dynasty of China. He was also the Mentor of the Chinese Brotherhood of Assassins.
Life as an Assassin
Secretly a Master Assassin, Wang rose to become an important minister of the Empire and always worked for the benefit of the Assassin cause, until he was confronted by Liu Jin and was shunned from the capital. Years later, after Liu Jin's execution, Wang became governor of Jiangxi and was renowned for his military exploits.
Wang returned in court when the Zhengde Emperor died and witnessed the takeover by the Templars, a group known as the Eight Tigers. He was responsible for recruiting an imperial concubine, Shao Jun, into the Assassin Order after she had revealed that she had discovered his secret identity and warned him of the Tigers' plot to destroy the Brotherhood.
He called his best Assassins into the Forbidden City in an attempt to kill the Tigers before they could strike, but the Assassins were defeated. Those captured were tortured and killed using the Ling Chi (thousand cuts) method, accompanied by those suspected in aiding the Brotherhood and some innocents in order to spread fear and paranoia. This led Yangming to order a full retreat of all his agents and possible allies including young Shao Jun from the Forbidden City.
For a while, Wang Yangming led the Beijing Brotherhood, hoping to find a weakness in the Tigers' organization and take them down before they could completely steal Imperial power. He trained Shao Jun in the arts and philosophy of the Assassins, until she reached the level of Initiate, calling her "little sister". Yangming often used her talents in gathering information critical to his operations.
Shao Jun's return
- "I already warned you about those feelings, Shao Jun. I know your quest for vengeance fits with the goals of the Brotherhood, but you cannot put your heart into such endeavors."
- ―Wang warning Shao Jun, 1529.[src]
In 1526, Shao Jun returned to China and found Wang Yangming. She told him of her travels to Italy, the death of her Mentor, and the legendary Assassin Ezio Auditore da Firenze, impressing Wang on his student's accomplishments. She also gave him a small box that she had been gifted by Ezio, to which Wang served as her witness as she opened it; they discovered it empty, though Wang elaborated that the box was likely a message from a wise man to tell Jun that her destiny lay in filling it herself. Recognizing the box as bearing Precursor origins, Wang advised Jun to use the box to lure the Eight Tigers, which she accepted.
Wang Yangming aided Shao Jun's quest to rebuild the Brotherhood and eliminate the Templars, serving as an informant, adviser and spy. As Jun assassinated the Tiger Gao Feng, Wang also eliminated Ma Yongcheng. Although Jun was not able to retrieve the box in time, he told her not to worry and they would find another opportunity. Later, he located the box in Macau, where Jun retrieved it and escaped Qiu Ju's act of retaliation through setting fire to the docks, killing innocents. Wang noticed Jun's desperation to commit revenge and warned her of its consequences.
- "Shifu, I'm sorry... I was too slow. I should have reached you sooner. I could have stopped Zhang Yong. I could have protected the box. What good is to take revenge if I keep losing those I care for? I could have saved you..."
- ―Shao Jun apologizing to her deceased Mentor, 1529.[src]
By 1529, Wang Yangming sought the help of wise men to explain the Precursor box and also spied on the remaining Tigers. Unfortunately, Zhang Yong caught news of his acts and hunted him in Nan'an, in which Wang lost their sword fight and died. Zhang reclaimed the box and escaped as Shao Jun killed his guards and apologized to her Mentor for having arrived too late.
- In Chinese, Wáng Yángmíng's name is written as 王陽明. Wáng (王) is a common Chinese surname that means "king". The personal name is composed of two characters. Yáng (陽) is the positive, active principle of the duality yin and yang in Chinese philosophy, and it can also refer to the sun. Míng (明) means "bright and clear". Together, his personal name can be interpreted as "the sun's brightness".