Compassionate Kwan Ying (pronounced: /kuːwɑːn jɪŋ/ koo-wan ying) was one of the Nine Immortals who served the Celestial Emperor in the Celestial Bureaucracy, the pantheon of Kara-Tur, particularly of Shou Lung. She was a goddess of compassion, mercy, and joy in the lands of Kara-Tur and represented the virtue of compassion in the Path of Enlightenment. As one of the Nine Immortals, Kwan Ying also held an important role in the Faith of the Nine Travelers.
As one of the Nine Immortals, Kwan Ying had two aspects: one was a vast dragon, the other was a human woman. As a woman, Kwan Ying had two forms in which she typically appeared. The first was that of a beautiful maiden clothed in white robes. She spoke with a soft voice.
The second form actually varied; she would appear in the image of someone who had previously given aid or comfort to a worshiper. Thus, this form could be that of a friend or family member or even a complete stranger.
The touch of Kwan Ying was said to heal all wounds and suffering.
Kwan Ying was loved by the people of Shou Lung for her kindness and compassion. She was often prayed to by children, the elderly, and young lovers. Younger women tended to pray to Kwan Ying, rather than to Ai Ch'ing, the goddess of love and marriage, when asking for a spouse, because they trusted mercy more than passion in leading them to a good husband. A common way of expressing worship to her was through the burning of incense.
The river town of Cham Fau had a temple to Kwan Ying, which was involved in a conflict with the White Tiger Monastery in Shou Year 2607 (1357 DR). The temple was run by monks of the Gray Cat sect, who were considered rebels.
During the Second Age of Shou Lung, a mortal named Kwan Ying ruled as the Sapphire Empress of what would later be Shou Lung. In Shou Year −127 (−1377 DR), however, she was assassinated by the artificer Tan Chin, who made himself emperor in her place. The Celestial Emperor blessed Kwan Ying, making her one of the Nine Immortals.[note 1]
According to the legendary history of Kara-Tur, shortly after the beginning of the world and humankind, the Celestial Emperor sent his great emissaries among the people, with each to teach one aspect of the True Path of Enlightenment. Kwan Ying was one of these emissaries, teacher of the virtue of compassion.
In the legend, nine tired travelers stopped at a poor remote inn in the dead of winter, and the innkeeper lamented he had no more food to spare. So, despite their tiredness, four went to hunt for game, four went to forage, and the last cooked a meal for the travelers, the innkeeper, and his family. Afterward, they preserved the remainder of the food to see the folk through the rest of winter. Overjoyed, the innkeeper made a gift, and a revelation—he was no mortal but the last of the old gods of the land, and he gave the land to the nine to rule. Afterward, these Nine Travelers became the Nine Great Sovereigns, and they ruled Shou Lung for thirty cycles of years. They became the first emperors of Shou Lung, and were recorded in legend as the "Nine Immortals".
Finally, the Nine Great Sovereigns, dressed as ordinary travelers, returned to the site of the inn, but found only a simple peasant's hut. The peasant, Nung Fu, welcomed them in and fed them freely, though it was the depths of winter and he had little to spare. Afterward, these Nine Travelers offered a gift in exchange for this hospitality, and presented Nung Fu with the Emblems of Authority. They took him to their courts, investing him as emperor of Shou Lung. This marked the start of the Third Age of Shou Lung, the beginning of the calendar in Shou Year 0 (−1250 DR).
The Nine Great Sovereigns were then the Nine Travelers once more. The tales disagree as to what became of them after that. According to some, they simply faded away. To others, they went with the gods into the heavens. More tell that the Nine Travelers still wander Shou Lung to ensure that rulers respect the memory of Nung Fu, and that innkeepers take good care of their guests.
Once, one of Kwan Ying's trumpet archons, Chin Yi, desired to join her love in battle, but Kwan Ying did not want to add to the violence and refused Chin Yi permission to go. When a yuan-ti warlord killed him, the grieving Chin Yi flew into a rage and descended on the battlefield, heedless of Kwan Ying's warnings, and slaughtered the yuan-ti forces. Then Kwan Ying appeared before Chin Yi, sympathetic and with arms wide, offering "If it will stop this slaughter, I will ease your pain and end your suffering." However, Chin Yi declared "I do not wish to end my suffering. I wish for my fury to sound throughout the ages, now and forever." Kwan Ying wished to respect her servant's wishes but could not let her fury loose on the world, so she bound Chin Yi's spirit to her beloved's blade, creating the sword Celestial Fury. She then hid the sword in the tomb of a warrior.
Presumably, Kwan Ying was inspired by the real-world Chinese bodhisattva Kuan Yin. Strangely, Planescape sourcebooks include Chinese deities, including Kuan Yin, in the Outer Planes but ignore the Kara-Turan pantheon. The D&D Chinese pantheon's intermediate deity Kuan Yin is a lawful good goddess of mercy and childbirth, a slightly different portfolio from Kwan Ying, and places her realm in Solania instead of in the Spirit World (On Hallowed Ground, pp. 152, 178). This wiki considers Kuan Yin and Kwan Ying as separate entities.
- ↑ It is presumed that Kwan Ying was blessed like Chan Cheng, in order to become one of the nine Immortals, but this was not stated in The Grand History of the Realms.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), pp. 24–25. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 36. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
- ↑ Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 28. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Curtis Smith and Rick Swan (1990). Ronin Challenge. (TSR, Inc), p. 68. ISBN 0-88038-749-1.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 BioWare (September 2000). Designed by James Ohlen, Kevin Martens. Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn. Black Isle Studios.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 31. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
- ↑ Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 165. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
- ↑ Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 26. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
- ↑ Gary Gygax, David Cook, and François Marcela-Froideval (1985). Oriental Adventures. (TSR, Inc), p. 107. ISBN 0-8803-8099-3.
- ↑ Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), pp. 39–42. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
- ↑ Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 11. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
- ↑ Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 33. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 13.2 Jeff Grubb (1987). Ochimo: The Spirit Warrior. (TSR, Inc), p. 2. ISBN 0-88038-393-3.
- ↑ Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 37. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
The Nine Immortals
Ai Ch'ing • Chan Cheng • Ch'en Hsiang • Chih Shih • Fa Kuan • Hsing Yong • Kwan Ying • Nung Chiang • Shu Chia
The Lesser Immortals
Jade Ladies • Ladies of Compassion • Lords of Karma • Mad Monkey • Moon Women • Rice Spirits • Spirit Warriors
The Sages • Ancestors • Spirits