Tsung Chang-Mai, Ambassador from the Court of the Daughter of Heaven, Her Most Celestial Radiance the Empress of Cathay and Environs - Ellie

Tsung Chang-Mai Player: Ellie
Rank: Ambassador (rank 4)1), Jinshi2)
Religion: Open heretic. Taoism
Email: tsung_chang_mai@albion.chaosdeathfish.com

Recently arrived from distant Cathay where she was employed by the East India Company as a translator, a role she continued for a number of years in Oxford, Tsung Chang-Mai has recently been appointed Ambassador by the current Empress of Cathay. She is a magician of some sort, possibly a sorcerer given those academics she has sought out.

Until recently a trader (rank 2) in the East India Company, she retired upon becoming ambassador. She is a junior lecturer (rank 3) in Comparative Linguistics at Lanik College, Oxford.


Helen made me do it? I was too sleep-deprived to think straight? Look what 24 weeks of GMing has done to me? You have no-one else to blame but yourself? I'm sorry?

Sorcerous Skill

From the catalogue of the exhibition “Cathayan Gods, Demons and Mortal Intermediaries” at the Museum of the Ashmole Collection, 1733.

[…] the collection of artifacts once belonging to the Cathayan sorcerer Tsung Chang-Mai is the centrepiece of our exhibition. The library of scrolls, annotated in the Jinshi's (a metropolitan scholar of Cathay who has passed the most rigorous of the Imperial Exams in the first class) own hand is of course impressive. Tsung Chang-Mai was the most powerful sorcerer of the last century in Albion and as such much of the material is simply too hazardous for public display. Instead we have chosen a small selection of texts which illustrate the beauty and grace of the Cathayan script.

Although Tsung Chang-Mai attained a considerable expertise in the sorcerous arts of the Occident, in collaboration with the famous or infamous Leah Brandage, her magic remained firmly routed in the Cathayan tradition. It is worth digressing at this point to note that many of Tsung's personal letters are on display along with translations. Letters from the late Empress Chang Ping repeatedly refer to Leah Brandage as her “wife”, and the current Ambassador of Cathay confirms that their marriage not only enjoyed official standing in that Empire but was officiated by the Empress herself!

Combined with what could be called “love letters” between the two sorcerers, Tsung Chang-Mai and Leah Brandage have thus become favoured characters in the pamphlets of Sapphic endearment which have become common in recent years. The posthumous publication of the Lady Weaver's autobiography, detailing her own more secret though passionate relationship with Captain Elizabeth Wood, reveal a certain protectiveness of the more open couple. For these reasons patrons are warned that the room housing the Tsung Letters is often frequented by pairs of young women and should be avoided by those who find such distasteful. Puritans are reminded that the Museum does not tolerate shouted denunciations within the collection and are directed to the pulpit in Beaumont Street constructed for their use.


For then I saw that in his great wisdom, the Jade Emperor provided mortals the ability to both coerce and rebuke his lesser rebellious servants. That those who strove to reach the heights of all forms of sorcerous mastery were truly able to wield the power of Di Yu. I had strived for so many years to rescue Wo Feng and had believed that I would need to open a gate to Di Yu to do so, and that such a gate I would be able to learn once I had researched sufficiently. I found this not to be the case. I could not even help my wife with her possession on my own and knowing that Lilith was always there, watching and waiting and ready to take control at any moment - and yet I could do nothing about it, was almost more than I could bare. I decided then that I would never again let my lack of knowledge be my limitation.
- extracts from the diary of Tsung Chang Mai.

The single most impressive artifact in the collection is of course the Holy Mask of the Yama-Kings reputed to have been a gift from the Rulers of Di Yu (the Chinese Hell) to Tsung Chang-Mai in 1648. Certainly no earlier record of the mask's existence has been discovered, despite its apparent antiquity. Scholars of the University of Oxford Sorcery department noted that it was at this time that Tsung first showed signs of progress on what the Western tradition terms the Holy Path, that deals with sorcerous protection from unclean and malevolent demons.


The Tsung Collection is on permanent loan from the Mandrake Estate to the Museum of the Ashmole Collection. We are required by the terms of the loan to inform you that the exhibition may be terminated at any time should the reincarnation of Tsung Chang-Mai present herself before the Board of Trustees with the sworn testimony of three Taoists of good standing and witnessed by the demon Nine Fires Cap the Hills.

New Eden

Lot 147: A document of late 17th or early 18th Century origin. It's provenance is uncertain but it may be an unusual reply to the Weaver pamphlets promoting tolerance of alternative marital arrangements.

Text of the Pamphlet


Leah no longer heard the noise from beneath her feet as she walked through their New Eden. So used to it now that she would only have missed its absence. Here no plants and flowers sprang up at her feet, for the soil was so suffused with vitality from the Tree of Life that she could add nothing more herself. All around was life and plenty, an endless banquet within arms reach, and soon she would share it with the whole world.

And with Chang-Mai.

At last her wife was ready, ready to visit the Garden, ready to resume their lives together.

Everything around her demonstrated how important the final betrayal before the old inferior Garden had been. Once Chang-Mai saw for herself, then she'd understand too.

Every leaf was a blade.

The stink of the place had been the first warning that something was wrong. It smelled rotten, of decayed vegetation and fruit rotting on the vine. The flowers were worse though, stinking of carrion and flesh going foul.

Every branch a barbed whip.

Her passage through this place was marked in crimson blood against the mottled greens and blacks of the diseased trees. No breeze stirred the leaves and branches and no animal call or insect noise sounded in the wood. There was motion aplenty though. Leaves arranged themselves the better to slash her as she passed. Branches swung into place to strike at her arms and face. Vines crept silently to trip her and drop her into the… the shards… that comprised the ground.

Every fruit blighted.

Her guide was one of Leah and David's once-mortal servants, one of their Guardians, dispatched to shape the destiny of kingdoms and peoples. His body was laced with slashes, but his cuts healed even as she watched. He showed no sign of noticing them. Flinched not at all when fungus growing on rotten wood belched out choking poisonous spores. She had looked into his eyes and understood that he did not see the place as she did.

Leah's father stood beside her. His face was so filled with pride and love for her. David had converted so many of the Host to their cause now, but she had sought out their father to show him how they would make the world better. That there was a place for him in the new order. His loving smile was her reward.

Wandering the Earth, rejected by Heaven, she had found him at her mother's grave at Passover. Beautiful as ever and dressed in his immaculate white clothes he was so blinded by his tears that he did not recognise her. Instead he stared at the grave and the white rose in his hands.

She had not wished to disturb him in his mourning. The Trees of Life and Knowledge already grew strong and proud in the Garden. With reverence she had cut two small branches from the Trees and twined a garland from the branches. She had placed it over his shoulders that damp dawn, knowing that it would lead him back to her. It had become a rite now, a gift to each of the angels that had come to their service.

Beside Leah stood one of the little gods of the West, one of the beings named angel. Great white wings covered in pearly feathers of surpassing beauty grew from strong shoulders. The man was well-built but unusually… ordinary… for a godling. A name tickled at Tsung's memory, perhaps Nelchael?

The angel's head hung at an impossible angle, clearly the creature's neck had been broken. Around its neck wrapped a single long vine, covered in murderous thorns which dripped poison. The vine wrapped round the angel's head too, thorns dripping venom stabbed into the ruined meat of errors and hollowed out eyes. Two thorns caught the corners of the angel's mouth too, forcing the face into a parody of a smile, before the vegetable mass plunged down the angel's ruined throat.

The leafy bonds slithered in constant motion, apparently independent of the motionless angel. Then the dead thing raised an arm to squeeze Leah's shoulder.

The tattered remnants of clothing, purest white but ragged, slid down the angel's arm. Beneath the pale skin long tendrils moved; moved the arm as they crawled. As Tsung watched a thorn ripped the skin from beneath, the wound healing with supernatural speed. The motion of the vine slithering in and out of the angel's maw moved in time with the damaged arm.

Her Guardian stopped at the edge of the clearing around the Trees and there! There! It was Tsung.

So few of those holy men that Leah and David brought to the Trees would eat of the fruit. So wrapped up in their old covenants and their dead religions. She and David offered them the chance to make the whole world like the Garden. Offerred them eternal Life in which to see the job completed and the Knowledge to understand the Garden the same was as she and her brother did.

So many left the Garden never to return. Once they failed the test, refused the offer, there was no second chance. Leah didn't ask after the failures, didn't care about the doings of those who had so clearly demonstrated themselves unworthy.

It was said that Empress Chang Ping had granted the Guardian sent to her from this place a private audience. None knew what words had been spoken between the two but all knew the conversation had lasted but a single hour before the doors of the audience chamber had opened once more. And there, upon the threshold between the Empress' quarters and the Court, all knew what had been said:

“You reject me. Very well then, you are but mortal. I shall wait.

And when you die I will come to your son and I shall speak to him as I have spoken to you. If he rejects me I shall come to his son. When your dynasty is dust and memory still I will live and still I will come.

I must win my case only once and then I will plant the seeds of the New Eden in your Kingdom.”

It was said the Empress' face was ashen. That she aged a score of years during that brief audience.

Leah plucked from the verdant Tree of Life a single fruit and offered it to her wife. Once she had eaten of each of the Trees, Tsung could join her in her mission, to shape the whole world like the Garden and remake the covenant with the divine.

The apple in Leah's hands reshaped itself. Inch-long things crawled beneath its surface, never breaking the red skin but twisting it as they moved. Shaping it first into the rough shape of a face and then with more and more definition. Sculpting it from beneath till it became the face of a baby, a baby crying out in pain. And then another. The skin of the apple broke and maggots flowed out of “eyes” to die upon the blighted ground.

Eat the apple.

Swallow the lies.

But Tsung had already made her decision. She would remain bound to the Wheel of Reincarnation. Not even for her love, for her wife Leah, would she abandon the chance at Nirvana.

The Garden's poison was in her as she sank to her knees. She looked up one last time at her happy smiling wife. And died.


Her lifeless body crushed more of the tiny porphyry bones from which the Garden grew, built upon the deaths of innocents.


Tsung Chang-Mai disappeared in 1652, the same year as her wife Leah. A variety of myths have grown up around the mystery, especially once the marriage between her and Leah Brandage became more widely known. The most popular stories agree that one day Tsung Chang-Mai will be reincarnated and in a new body and cleansed by Di Yu of the burdens she once carried her soul will find Leah again.

Nine Fires Cap the Hills

Nine Fires looked into Tsung's eyes, unblinking and proud. Her red scale armour shining brightly and two swords in her hands. She seems almost larger than life. By her side was a small and diminutive looking woman wearing similar armour although decidedly less ornate with nine braids in her hair. Green in contrast to Nine Fires' red, she had been introduced to Tsung as Seven Bamboo Leaves At Dawn. On her back she wore a banner with the name of Nine Fires Caps the Hills emblazoned on it as she followed her mistress into Di Yu. Nine Fires turned to Tsung and just before she left, whispered 'Thank you'

1) As the Ambassador to the Court of St James from the Empress of Cathay Ming Chang Ping she is consider more eminent than a Duke and junior only to certain other Ambassadors and a Prince of the Royal Blood
2) The Master of the Rolls has been assured by the East India Company that she is a senior scholar of Cathay, at least equal to an undergraduate at a proper university
bio/tsung_chang_mai.txt · Last modified: 2008/03/04 13:23 by ivan