Crouching Cultist, Hidden Heretic
Just north of Ta Qu is Guizu Qu. It borders the great and mighty river that cuts through the city of Daxing Cheng, and controls the traffic of its northward bend. It is relatively quite underdeveloped, with only a handful of tenements reaching above four or five stories. It is also home to large stretches of fertile fields which the nobles of Guizu Qu wisely decided not to pave over for shortterm real estate profits, making them unique amongst almost all the districts of Daxing Cheng. Now Guizu Qu is the only source of rice in all of Daxing Cheng as well as controlling a key section of its greatest asset: Its river. Between the taxes on the rice farming peasants and the merchants passing through the river, Guizu Qu is rolling in wealth, and unlike their shortsighted neighbors in Ta Qu, Guizu Qu has a self-sufficient lower class and does not need to fear uprising or out-of-control crime if they hoard this wealth for themselves.
The nobles of Guizu Qu aren’t its lords, however, but rather the favored pets of its true rulers: The Black Lotus. Led by Zhang Jun, the Black Lotus have accrued so much blackmail, so many hostages, and own the opium smuggling operations upon which so many nobles are dependent, that they effectively and completely controlled Guizu Qu even before the Jiang Hu washed out the Shan Li completely. As the different cities that would become Daxing Cheng began to run into one another, the Black Lotus spread its twisted roots through the other districts, achieving powerful footholds in places such as Ta Qu and Buyi Qu, and making alliance with similar factions like the Southern Dragons of Yufu Qu. Slowly the Lotus began to wrap itself around the throats of the Blade Dogs, fighting them for control of Ta Qu as order in Daxing Cheng broke down and the city was submerged beneath the rivers and lakes. By now the Black Lotus would probably control Ta Qu and Hongzai Qu, and with it have economic dominance over the city’s river, access to vast reserves of desperate manpower, and be ready for a final battle against the combined manpower of the Southern Dragons, Eagle Talons, and Yun Clan for total control of all the city’s most vital districts.
But Zhang Jun’s dreams of absolute control over Shen Zhou’s largest and wealthiest city was shattered by one man, Liu Fang. Thanks to Liu Fang, Ta Qu, the first step from Guizu Qu to ruling all the city, is firmly out of Zhang Jun’s grasp, and he has become obsessed with eliminating Fang and his followers. To this end, Zhang Jun has dispatched his most feared assassins, Liao Zhi and Jin Dao, to kill him on many occasions, but they have never been able to succeed, usually because these two assassins are also fierce rivals and each is committed to getting the glorious prize, Liu Fang’s head, for themself, utterly unwilling to share the credit.
Zhang Jun’s nephew Zhang Guo has come to the city recently after his human trafficking ring was decapitated by Chenzhi and Huangzhi, allowing one of his rivals to step in and pick up the pieces before he could scrap together enough loyal henchmen to regain control of his operation. Zhang Guo has been plotting his revenge against the two ever since, and when he learned they had come to Daxing Cheng, his uncle was happy to provide him with all the resources he’d need to make it happen.
If there is anyone the Liquid Metal Delegates fear more than Liu Fang, it is Zhang Jun. A criminal not by circumstance but by his own dark desires and a man who until recently was well on his way to ruling the entire city, his victory would be the absolute worst case scenario for the Delegates. Even if the Fire Doctrine burns down all of Daxing Cheng, at least the people and wealth will be destroyed rather than used as fuel for even greater expansion by Zhang Jun.