Resplendent Cranes

The earth is a chaotic shadow show of unruly imperfections. Heaven, by contrast, is ordered, secure and settled.Shouldn't earth be more like Heaven? When imperfect souls are returned to earth, Heaven must have some task for them. Some Kuei-jin recognize that they died wreathed in sin; Yomi was not enough penance -- they must make bent things straight.

Like Legalists and Confucianists, Resplendent Cranes see suffering flow from imperfection. If enlightened rulers can set examples -- and laws -- for their people, those people should prosper. The key lies in the purity of the lawmakers; if the leaders are enlightened, their laws carry Heaven's blessings. The Wan Xian disgraced their posts; their heirs, the flawed souls returning as Kuei-jin, are likewise shameful. To alleviate their shame, the vampires must serve as the Correctors of Heaven, as enforcers and exemplars of the Harmonious Way. The path is not easy -- the Demon chews at one's honor and the hunger gnaws at one's resolve. Resisting these distractions, however, provides salvation: salvation for the lost souls of the vampires and for the continuation of the mortal world.

The Sixth Age is not set in stone. It can be averted by virtuous behavior and right action. With a powerful effort, the Great Cycle can be turned back and a new Age of Heaven can begin. The Shining Ice Guardians -- as some Resplendent Cranes call themselves --want literally to save the Middle Kingdom from itself. It's a mighty task; never before has the world seemed so corrupt. Still, Chi, the power of Heaven, flows through all Kuei-jin. They have one last chance to redeem themselves, and the Cranes are resolved to do just that.

The Eight Lotus Path (a collection of analects and koans) gives a formula for salvation: The First Lotus offers the recognition of hope. The Second Lotus demands virtuous existence. The Third Lotus involves nurture -- rewards for virtue, correction for recklessness -- and the Fourth calls for the purgation of the wicked.

The Fifth Lotus encourages instruction, while the Sixth demands law. With the Seventh Lotus, mortal law gives way to harmony; the Eighth Lotus transcends the living world and unites it with the spirit. By meditating upon the Eight Lotus Path, a Crane discerns what must be done.

Shining Ice Guardians recognize that the entire world cannot be saved. Things have gone too far out of balance; dead wood will have to be cut away. Most sages set their hopes on the redemption of the Golden Fields -- of the Eastern lands and their peoples. The misery in the Orient has been caused by foreign invaders, from the Mongols to the Americans. These invaders carry disease like plague-dogs, and their sickness must be purged. If that requires a blood-cleansing, so be it. Heaven will deal with the dogs in its own way; the Kuei-jin have been sent back to make the Golden Fields pure again.

Training: Resplendent Cranes recognize their impurity and strive to overcome it. In Yomi, their sins were boiled to the surface; now, they wear the residue as punishment for their disgrace.

Still, there is hope. Rigorous discipline, generosity and benevolence are like Hell-money paid for the vampires' souls. A Shining Ice Guardian is counseled to be wise, honorable, prudent and refined. Asceticism is encouraged, but mortification is considered bad form. Masters present their pupils with complex riddles and reward attentiveness with great gifts.

Weakness: Resplendent Cranes have no tolerance for rebellion, and their rage is like the north wind. In theory, they follow the Fivefold Way religiously, punishing anyone who deviates from it. In practice, the Shining Ice Guardians are regal monsters, interpreting the law as they see fit and enforcing it when it suits them. Some Cranes follow Devil-Tigers around like carrion-crows and fall on sinners like icicles plummeting. It is said that Resplendent Cranes are as honest, cole and merciless as the winters they enjoy. In that purity, they hope to find forgiveness, even if they have none to grant themselves.

Affiliations: Water, the number 1, the color yellow and the north direction

Auspicious Omens and Symbols: Eight-petaled lotus flowers, cranes, butterflies, cold wind, ice and snow

Tenets

  • Follow the Eight Lotus Path
  • Follow the Five Fold Way
  • When you lose control, make amends. The demon guides you but does not own you.
  • When injustice or corruption appears, correct it to the best of your ability.
  • Be generous to the worthy, defend the weak and instruct the young and errant.
  • When the wicked will not listen to reason, straighten them as you were once straightened.
  • Defend the ghosts of your family and protect your living relations. Do not let them see you, however -- you have become a disgrace to their honor.
  • Maintain your dignity, honor and composure. You are an example of what the Damned can become.