GHOSTS OF YIN-JIN
THE YEARS OF DARKNESS AND THE VEILED QUEEN
For decades the eight cities survived alone and isolated from each other, only the coastal cities could have any meaningful trade with one another. The hordes of hungry dead made overland travel nearly impossible. From out of the north came a veiled maiden with immense power to control the undead. From city to city she travelled teaching the arts of Exorcism to a chosen few. These chosen student banded together and founded the Guild of Exorcists, usually referred to simply as the guild. It took ten years to visit each of the eight cities and create a new guild. As she left, each city was able to push back against the undead dominating the countryside and begin to resettle nearby towns and villages and ease the crippling overcrowding within the cities. Many of the Dukes tried to shower her with gifts and titles to show their appreciation, or entice her to remain in their city. Always she refused their gifts and moved on, asking only that they someday promise to grant her a single wish, should she ask it of them. Always they agreed. After she’s visited all eight cities she disappeared into the north once again. With the power of the guild the eight cities were at last able to reconnect with one another, while overland travel was still dangerous, it was at last possible with heavy guard. The eight cities began to spread their influence beyond their high walls and it seemed as though there might be a chance for the kingdom to return to some kind of normalcy. Ten years after she disappeared, the veiled maiden returned, appearing as if from nowhere at the gates of the capital city of Chiwen. She entered the Heavenly Spire which had lain empty since the last Autumn King, and declared herself the first Winter Queen. She sent messengers to each of the great cities asking them to honor their promise to her and recognize her authority. Many of the Dukes felt duped and refused. In those cities the guild withdrew to their pagodas and ceased their activities. Without their aid the outlying communities were helpless against the undead, they had to choose whether to reabsorb those communities in their already overcrowded cities, leave them to their fate, or acquiesce the new Winter Queen. Some held out longer than others, but all would eventually recognize her sovereignty.
The Winter Queen that sits on the throne today is the granddaughter of the first Winter Queen. The Dongren were a matriarchal people and that tradition continues to this day. Each WInter Queen has always worn a veil in honor of the first, and rumors persist that she secretly visits the other cities and Dukes as no one knows her true appearance. The Winter Queens are known for their harsh, inflexible rule where they are concerned, but also have little to do with the day to day running of the kingdom or the eight cities. She is known to dislike the interference of the wulin but recognizes that her Guild cannot be everywhere. There are strict punishments for trafficking with the dead for any reason, or not obeying the proper rites for the deceased. The Winter Queen maybe harsh, but for most she is only a distant and remote figure.