The Wu-Keng are a craft of Chinese mages that practice the forgotten ways of its shamans and peasants. Unfortunately, in order to save themselves, they were forced to harsh decisions that resulted in their enslavement to infernal forces.
The Wu-Keng's arts have a certain shamanistic undertone. Similar to many shamans, they acted originally as intermediaries between the world of men and the world of spirits, acting as lovers who tamed the spirit's capriciousness with tenderness. The Princes of the Slain have twisted that bond into a twisted form of concubinage.
Each Wu-Keng is chained to a Juk Ak, a jade bracelet made from the 36 bones that connect a Wu-Keng to Heaven (i.e. their Avatar), inscribed with their name that their patron wields. Both patron and bracelet are referred to as juk ak and are the source of the Wu-Keng's power. In their eyes, the Celestial Bureaucracy is a recent construct of the August Personage, who resides along with the other gods in a secluded realm into which their souls will be released once their service to the juk ak ends. Many have also deluded themselves into seeing the Princes of the Slain as benign, if harsh, spirits and will deny any allegation that they practice Infernalism.
Among themselves, the Wu-Keng greatly believe in the value of absolute secrecy. Speaking or thinking an idea is seen as a way to dilute the very concept of it and several have found that the lack of definition benefits them. Transgenderism, originally forced upon the Craft by the juk ak, is seen as a way to balance their internal yang with yin. They specialize in the Spheres of Forces and Entropy. The Princes of the Slain have forbidden the Wu-Keng to practice the arts of Spirit and Time.
The Wu-Keng originate during the Shang dynasty of ancient China. As the Shang fell and were succeeded by the more secular Chou, the early shamans found themselves persecuted for their practices. To ensure their survival, the shamans made a deal with the Princes of the Slain of far away Feng-tu. In exchange for their souls, these demons would renew their authority over China after loyal service for three thousand years. After this time period, called the Sam Chin Ak, the Wu-Keng would be free from their pact.
After the Chou fell, the Wu-Keng extended their hand to the Wu Lung, the dragon wizards. The Wu Lung, on their part, worked together with a young and ambitious warlord called Qin Shihuangdi. Convincing him that the Wu-Keng held the secret of eternal life, the new emperor took the members of the Craft captive and demanded their secrets from them. For each day they would not speak, one of their number would be boiled alive. Their feet were sawed off to prevent them from escape. After the Wu Lung's patience had grown thin, they claimed to have learned the secret from one of the Wu-Keng who had turned into a cricket. Pleased, the emperor demanded the execution of the now useless Wu-Keng.
The intervention of their "grooms" saved them. The Princes of the Slain disguised the Wu-Keng as women and allowed them to escape in that form. Afterwards, their contract was expanded: First, they would now always present themselves as women. And second, they would mutilate their feet so that they would never forget the debt they owed to their masters. This mutilation was not to be reversed by any means.
Humbled, the Wu-Keng dispersed among the peasant communities of China, practicing their arts in secret from their enemies. When the Akashic Brotherhood came to their lands, the meetings between both groups were carried by respect. The Wu-Keng would later aid the Akashics in their wars against the Wu Lung, with the monks never suspecting that the seemingly humble sisterhood of witches served demonic entities.
The Wu-Keng greatly profited from colonialism, as it weakened the arrogant Wu Lung and gave them a safe haven in Hong Kong. During World War II, many temples and sanctuaries of the Wu Lung were destroyed thanks to Wu-Keng infiltration and the two groups soon clashed openly. This attracted the attention of the Technocratic Union, who were involved with the rise of Mao Tse-tung. Maos Cultural Revolution wiped out most of the Wu-Keng on the mainland and left them with only around 200 members, who skulked around in Hong Kong, nursing their grudge.
Around the year 1999, the Chou yan, the original leaders of the Craft, vanished. The Princes of the Slain have proclaimed that the Chou yan broke their agreement, since some members had practiced the forbidden arts of Spirit. As the Sam Chin Ak was to expire at 2000, several Wu-Keng suspect foul play.
The strict process of introduction into the Craft is ordained by the Princes of the Slain themselves. The abusive initiation make sure that few Wu-Keng ever make an attempt to rebel against their masters. Young boys stolen at childbirth from their families and raised as girls by an A-ma. Around the time the boy becomes ten, he is "wedded" to one of his demon masters and gives his juk ak. After this, the child is a Mui, a girl that acts as apprentice. The Mui and their A-ma are organized with three A-ji ("aunts") in a ng, a cabal. Some A-ma use sexual means to control their ng. These cells use Ngan to interact with the mundane world, often ordinary mortals for whom the Wu-Keng act as fortune tellers, baby sitters or house cleaners.
As of 2000, the Wu-Keng are divided. Some had secretly studied the Spirit Sphere after realizing that they served demons. When the demon lord Ku of the Thousand Tears used this as a justification of prolonging the service of the craft, as long as these renegades still live. The spirit practitioners call themselves the Man Saeg Phax and have begun to tutor new apprentice, the Man Mae Phax, without the limitations of the juk ak, rivaling their mother craft soon in sheer numbers.
- , p.109-121
- , p.61-69