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"She who seeks revenge should remember to dig two graves."
―Shao Jun to an Assassin apprentice, 1567.[src]-[m]

Shao Jun (born 1505) was a Master Assassin who served as Mentor of the Chinese Brotherhood of Assassins during the mid-16th century.[2] She is an ancestor to the 21st century American Assassin Lin and the Japanese Assassin Kō Risa.

A former concubine of the Zhengde Emperor, Shao Jun was rescued by the Assassins after the emperor's death in 1521 and devoted her life to the Brotherhood as a result. When the emperor's cousin took power as the Jiajing Emperor, he was manipulated by his Templar-aligned court eunuchs known as the Eight Tigers into conducting a purge of all those who opposed his rule. This purge saw the near-complete extermination of the Chinese Assassins and Shao Jun and her Mentor Zhu Jiuyuan fled west to seek aid from the Italian Assassins' retired Mentor Ezio Auditore.

Despite her Mentor's death during the journey, Shao Jun reached Tuscany in 1524 and met Ezio, who offered her advice on how to rebuild her fallen Brotherhood, as well as a Precursor box. Returning to China two years later, Shao Jun began her mission to exact revenge on the Eight Tigers and their leader Zhang Yong, with the help of the Chinese Brotherhood's Mentor Wang Yangming.

Over the course of six years, the two Assassins systematically hunted down the Tigers, though during their quest, they lost Ezio's Precursor box to the Templars and Yangming was slain by Zhang Yong. Undeterred, Shao Jun continued her hunt alone and was eventually successful in 1532, when she killed Zhang Yong atop the Great Wall after preventing a Mongol invasion of China.

As the last surviving Assassin in her homeland, Shao Jun resolved to rebuild the Chinese Brotherhood, succeeding Yangming as Mentor. By 1567, she had recruited and trained a number of apprentices, including Kotetsu, who would go on to establish a new Brotherhood in Japan. In her later years, she avenged her slain Brotherhood by engineering the Jiajing Emperor's assassination, poisoning him with a strain of concentrated mercury disguised as an elixir of life.

Shao Jun is posthumously regarded as one of the most influential Assassins of her time, and many of her techniques are still in use centuries later.

Biography[]

Imperial Concubine[]

"You've come far for someone who was merely once a Concubine."
―Gao Feng to Shao Jun, 1526.[src]-[m]

The daughter of an imperial concubine,[3] Shao Jun was born into imperial custody during the lackluster rule of the Zhengde Emperor of the Ming dynasty.[4][5] As a result, she was raised from birth to become a concubine and started out as a one of the many lower-ranking concubines who hoped to become empress. To this effect, she received an education in embroidery, literature, singing, and dancing—arts typical of ladies in court. Among these, she demonstrated an exceptional talent for music and dance early on.[6] Unlike most women valued for their beauty at this time, Shao Jun was not forced to bind her breasts or her feet so that she may maintain her gracefulness in dance.[6][7]

In 1510, a four-year-old Shao Jun witnessed firsthand Liu Jin's execution via lingchi. Liu Jin, the leader of a group of powerful eunuchs called the Eight Tigers, had been betrayed by his lieutenant Zhang Yong, a Templar, and his torturous demise by hundreds of cuts over the course of two days would be forever etched in Shao Jun's mind.[8][9]

The Zhengde Emperor, known for his juvenile nature and lack of interest in urgent matters of state, regarded Shao Jun highly among his concubines after she had reached her teenage years, for her agility and cat-like discretion fascinated him.[4] He occasionally had her dance atop a caged leopard to demonstrate this agility to his court and amuse him.[10] Living a decade of her life under the Zhengde Emperor, he often used her as his spy or thief and to stage pranks against eunuchs and ministers.[4]

By the age of twelve, Shao Jun had befriended her fellow concubine Zhang Qijie and had taken to exploring the Imperial Palace, finding various secret tunnels leading out of the complex, including one that had sharp-edged gleaming walls. One day in 1517, she tried to help Qijie sneak out of the palace to see the outside world, despite the latter's fears that they would get into trouble. Avoiding the guards, Shao Jun led Qijie through one of the tunnels she had discovered, but as the path chosen required them to scale a wall, Qijie revealed that she was unable to climb it due to her foot bindings.[11]

After returning to Qijie's quarters, Shao Jun got upset over this revelation and apologized to her friend, but Qijie explained that they were different animals, a butterfly and a rabbit, respectively, each unique and amazing in their own way. She then asked Shao Jun to tell her a story about one of her adventures, and the latter eagerly complied before heading to bed.[11]

By the follower year, Shao Jun had risen to the rank of Imperial Concubine through the Zhengde Emperor's favor. At this stage, she and Qijie had both become candidates for Imperial Consort or even Empress.[12] The two had always enjoyed a friendly rivalry, where Shao Jun always bested her foot-bound friend through her nimble grace.[13] Nonetheless, Shao Jun had never once been invited to her Emperor's bed since he instead preferred the company of courtesans and other women he was acquainted with.[12]

Late in his reign, the Zhengde Emperor went on a campaign against Mongol raiders in the north, bringing Shao Jun and a few other concubines with him for his personal leisure. As was the case back in court, Shao Jun served primarily as his spy during this expedition,[7] in the process gaining the opportunity to meet many foreigners.[4]

Joining the Assassins[]

"I was born into captivity. One of many Concubines. When the Brotherhood came for us, I saw freedom, I saw a future."
―Shao Jun, 1530.[src]-[m]

With the Zhengde Emperor's death in April 1521, the sixteen-year-old Shao Jun found all prospects of becoming empress dashed except on the slim chance that his successor would find her appealing. In the meantime, the imperial ministers fell into disarray and feuded over who should succeed the heir-less Emperor. Hoping to maintain her status through the interregnum, Shao Jun used her spying skills to find the appropriate connections, only to uncover a secret war between the Templar Order led by the Eight Tigers and the Assassins.[14]

Not long after, Shao Jun learned that the Tigers were plotting to seize control of China by using their power to place a puppet on the throne. Recognizing that the Tigers already controlled the most influential people at court, she decided to contact the Brotherhood through their leader, Wang Yangming, and requested to join them.[14] In the Assassins, she saw a chance at freedom.[4]

However, Yangming's secret identity had been discovered by the Templars as well, and through the intelligence they had gathered, they were poised to launch a surprise operation against the Assassins in Beijing.[15] This impending purge was leaked to the concubines just in time for Shao Jun to alert Yangming,[15] and the Mentor rallied his best Assassins for a preemptive strike at the Forbidden City to kill the Tigers. In the ensuing conflict, the Assassins were defeated. Many among their number and even mere civilians suspected of association with them were detained and summarily executed via lingchi, but Shao Jun was successfully extracted from the palace by Yangming in the full retreat that followed.[4][16]

Loyal immediately to those who had rescued her, Shao Jun dedicated her first years of freedom to serving the Brotherhood. Yangming trained her in the Assassins' ways until she reached the rank of Initiate and earned the right to wield a Hidden Blade.[17] Unsatisfied with its functionality, Shao Jun soon replaced it with a Hidden Footblade of her own design.[18] Later, Yangming had to disappear to escape the Great Rites Controversy, so Zhu Jiuyuan replaced him as both leader of the Brotherhood and Shao Jun's Mentor. Under his wing, she reached the full rank of Assassin and took a Leap of Faith.[4][18]

Years after her rescue, Shao Jun and her Mentor decided to save the remaining concubines whom she had grown up with. After breaking into the Imperial Palace, Shao Jun discovered that most of her friends had been tortured and killed through lingchi by order of the Zhengde Emperor's cousin and successor Zhu Houcong, the Jiajing Emperor. Shao Jun and her Mentor then fled the palace.[4]

An Old Friend China (4)

Shao Jun and her childhood friend, Zhang Qijie

Before leaving, Shao Jun took the incredible risk of infiltrating the Forbidden City to free her friend Zhang Qijie, knowing that although she knew the place by heart, the eunuch guards would kill her if she was caught. Fortunately, the city's security was lower than usual, for the Jiajing Emperor was often away in his own private palaces. Shao Jun eventually found Qijie but was astonished to hear that she wanted to stay, even if the Emperor was a brutal man.[19]

Qijie was lucky enough to please him and was now the Imperial Consort. She told her old friend to leave in peace, and did not want to hear about the Templars controlling the Tigers, even less of the man she expected to become her husband. Shao Jun accepted Qijie's decision and remembered how important her career as a concubine was; she then left the Forbidden City for what she perceived to be the last time.[19]

The Jiajing Emperor later sought to detain and execute any opposition or possible threats against his rule. The Assassins were some of the purge's most high-profile targets, and on the Emperor's orders, a majority of the Assassins in China were killed. The few who survived either went into hiding or fled westward.[4][20]

Time in Italy[]

Shao Jun: "I want to understand."
Ezio: "Understand what?"
Shao Jun: "How to lead, to rebuild my Order."
—Shao Jun asking Ezio for help, 1524.[src]

Isolated, Shao Jun and Zhu Jiuyuan despaired and finally decided to leave the country in order to seek the help of other Assassins, namely, the Italian Assassins' former Mentor Ezio Auditore, whose reputation had spread across Eurasia. It was a long journey, and neither of them spoke Italian, but it was their only hope. The pair secretly travelled to Macau, where transportation was easiest towards Europe. During their trip, they witnessed the crippled state of the Brotherhood's network in China: most safe houses had been raided and no Assassin worthy of the name was left alive.[21]

EzioFlaviaJun

Shao Jun's first encounter with Ezio

By 1524, Shao Jun and her Mentor were able to reach Venice, stashed aboard a Portuguese ship transporting porcelain and silk. Once in Italy, the pair were oblivious to the fact that they had been followed by Templar agents. Ambushed by elite soldiers armed with muskets, Zhu Jiuyan sacrificed himself so that Shao Jun could escape with her life.[4][22]

Continuing onward, Shao Jun eventually arrived at Ezio's Tuscan villa, where she encountered the retired Mentor's young daughter Flavia and began speaking with her. Though Ezio initially saw Shao Jun as a threat and fervently restrained her to protect his child, he released her after recognizing the Assassin insignia on the necklace she wore.[23]

Later that day, Ezio and his wife Sofia Sartor confronted Shao Jun, who asked for aid in restoring her Order. Ezio, who had left his life as an Assassin, refused to associate himself with the Order again and asked her to leave. However, Sofia, knowing that Jun had come a long way to meet Ezio, invited her to stay for the night. Shao Jun thanked Sofia, and accepted her offer.[23]

ShaoJunEzio

Shao Jun listening to Ezio

The next day, Shao Jun came across Ezio's study and looked through some of the writings he had left on his desk. When Ezio discovered her, he furiously told her to leave not just his estate but to wholly depart from Italy, stating that she had wasted her time looking for him. Shao Jun recited a portion of Ezio's writing and responded that all she wanted was to understand the Order as he did.[23]

Ezio finally admitted why he was so reluctant to help Shao Jun and invited her to accompany him to Florence, where she could assist him in his vineyard's harvest. There, Shao Jun observed the crowd as Ezio attended to his business. He took her to the Palazzo della Signoria,[23] where his father Giovanni and brothers Federico and Petruccio had been executed in 1476,[24] and explained that paradoxically Assassins lived their lives through pain in order to end suffering for others.[23]

Embers ShotBreakdown 01

Shao Jun and Ezio in Florence

After the brief discussion, Ezio and Shao Jun prepared to return to the villa. On the way back however, the two were intercepted by an Imperial soldier in an alleyway. Despite the ambush, Shao Jun managed to kill the soldier with her Hidden Footblade and quickly fled the city with Ezio. On the way back to the villa, Shao Jun explained her plight and informed Ezio about the soldiers hunting her. Upon returning home, Ezio told Sofia to take their children to Niccolò Machiavelli's house, as he suspected that the soldiers would pursue Jun to the villa.[23]

While waiting for the imminent attack, Ezio decided to train Shao Jun, teaching her new combat and stealth techinques.[25] He also told her the story of how he had used fraternity and love to defeat the Borgia family who led the Italian Templars, and how he had reformed the Brotherhood in both Rome and Constantinople. Shao Jun then rested for the night while Ezio kept watch from the living room.[23]

Shao traininig

Ezio training Shao Jun

Soon enough, Imperial soldiers attacked the villa, just like the Assassins had anticipated. Together, the pair were able to fend off most of the attackers, with Ezio saving Shao Jun from the shot of a hand cannon held by a brutish soldier. Fleeing outside to avoid the devastating weapon, Shao Jun and Ezio worked together to deal with the last foe. Though the soldier charged Ezio and pinned him to a tree, the elder Assassin managed to stab his enemy with an iron poker, killing him.[23]

Return to China[]

Ezio: "It is a long way home, no?"
Shao Jun: "Much to see along the way. Thank you, Mentor."
—Shao Jun to Ezio, before departing for China, 1524.[src]
ACE-V 10

Ezio handing Shao Jun a small box prior to her departure

The following morning, Shao Jun looked to the horizon with renewed resolve. Ezio approached her and said that her return trip would be long, but Shao Jun replied that it would be worthwhile, with so much to see along the way. Before Shao Jun left, Ezio gave her a small box, claiming that the chest might prove useful in the future but that she should only open it if she lost her way. With that, Ezio bid the young Assassin farewell before going to speak with several guards who arrived on horseback.[23]

An avid learner who loved to experience new cultures and societies, Shao Jun was in no rush to return to China and spent months travelling around Europe, notably to Spain, in order to further her training.[26] Eventually reaching her homeland in 1526, she used a network of old abandoned Brotherhood safehouses and sought out Wang Yangming, telling him about her travels, Zhu Jiuyuan's death, and her meeting with Ezio.[27]

The Return China (6)

Shao Jun and Wang Yangming

The Chinese Mentor had not seen Shao Jun since he had helped her escape the Forbidden City years prior and was impressed the former concubine had become an efficient killer with her own set of recent accomplishments. Adding to her skills, Shao Jun created an invention of her own to aid her during her missions: the shéng biāo, or rope dart, a tool useful for both navigation and assassination.[27]

Shao Jun later presented Ezio's box to Yangming and told him the Italian Mentor had said to open it if she lost her way. Deducing the chest to be a Precursor box, one of the many Pieces of Eden, Yangming understood the wisdom of Ezio's words and hid the artifact's true nature from Shao Jun,[28] claiming that the empty chest was a metaphor for her journey and that the only way to "fill" it was by fulfilling her destiny.[29]

Understanding what had to be done, Shao Jun set out to exact revenge on the Templars for their purge of the Chinese Assassins; eliminating them would allow her and Yangming to rebuild the Brotherhood, similar to what Ezio had done in Italy and Constantinople. As such, the two Assassins began planning their hunt of the Eight Tigers in order to remove the Templars' influence in China.[29]

Quest for vengeance[]

First blood[]

Gao Feng: "No wonder your kind fell so far."
Shao Jun: "My 'kind' isn't done yet."
—Shao Jun and Gao Feng, exchanging words during her imprisonment, 1526.[src]-[m]
The Escape China (1)

Shao Jun questioned by Gao Feng during her imprisonment

Shao Jun marked her first target as Gao Feng, the Tiger who served as warden of the Maijishan Grottoes, a former Assassin stronghold turned into a Templar prison. Believing that the best way to reach Gao Feng was to allow herself to be captured, Shao Jun did so and used the Precursor box as bait. Following her imprisonment, Gao Feng tried to question the Assassin about the origins and purpose of the box, but she only replied that she was exactly where she wanted to be, to the Tiger's irritation.[30]

After Gao Feng left, Shao Jun escaped her cage and retrieved her equipment before trying to locate her target. Along the way, she recovered several Assassin scrolls and rescued the imprisoned eunuch Hong Liwei, an Assassin informant[30] and her old tutor at the Imperial Palace who had helped her escape the Foribbden City years prior.[9] Eventually reaching Gao Feng, Shao Jun killed him but learned that the box had been taken by one of his Tiger brothers.[30]

Upon escaping the prison, Shao Jun regrouped with Hong Liwei and Wang Yangming, the latter of whom informed her that he had also assassinated a Tiger, Ma Yongcheng. Shao Jun was anxious to eliminate their next target and recover the box, but the elder Assassin advised her to have patience, claiming they would find their lost prize in time.[31] In the meantime, they decided to take Liwei into hiding and arrived at a small village housing a few surviving allies of their Brotherhood, who looked after Liwei.[9]

Hunt in Macau[]

"The Assassins claim they protect the innocents. Let us show them that their actions have consequences."
―Qiu Ju, prior to ordering Macau's port burned, 1526.[src]-[m]
The Port China (1)

Shao Jun and Wang Yangming sailing into Macau

After some time passed, Shao Jun and Wang Yangming were informed that the Precursor box was in the possession of the Tiger Gu Dayong, a slaver who based his operation in Macau. Infiltrating the city through the docks, Shao Jun heard about three Portuguese merchants who had become affluential after helping the Templars by providing them with information about the Assassins. She decided to exact retribution on them before infiltrating Dayong's stronghold.[32]

Once inside the fortress, Shao Jun rescued several of the Tiger's slaves,[33] including the young boy Kotetsu. Recognizing the Assassin insignia on her necklace, the boy asked Shao Jun to free his captive father, who was a member of Brotherhood. The Assassin did so but it was already too late, as Kotetsu's father had been tortured by Dayong's men and died in her arms.[34]

The Slaver China (2)

Shao Jun reclaiming the box after assassinating Gu Dayong

After giving the man his last rites, Shao Jun vowed revenge on Dayong[34] and infiltrated his personal quarters, killing the Tiger and recovering the stolen box.[33] While Shao Jun made her escape, his Tiger brother Qiu Ju discovered Dayong's body and decided to retaliate by arresting innocents and setting the port of Macau on fire.[35]

As Shao Jun tried to escape from the burning port, she rescued as many civilians as she could along the way, but many still perished in the inferno.[36] Eventually reaching Yangming's boat, the two Assassins escaped Macau,[35] but Shao Jun blamed herself for the port's destruction and the major loss of innocent lives, which deeply traumatized her.[36]

Losses in Nan'an[]

"Shifu, I'm sorry... I was too slow. I should have reached you sooner. I could have stopped Zhang Yong. I could have protected the box. What good is to take revenge if I keep losing those I care for?"
―Shao Jun apologizing to the deceased Wang Yangming, 1529.[src]-[m]

Shao Jun spent the following three years at the Assassins' hideout in the countryside, still haunted by the trauma of the Macau fires. When Wang Yangming eventually returned to the village after acquiring new information on the Eight Tigers' whereabouts, he was surprised to find Shao Jun in the same place he had left her and the two headed to a barn to talk in private. There, the Mentor tried to console his apprentice and asked her if she fought the Templars purely out of revenge, which reminded her of Ezio's words that Assassins fight for the freedom of humanity.[11]

When Shao Jun asked if her actions in Macau reflected that goal, Yangming reminded her of the day he had rescued her from the Imperial Palace and how she had implored him to rescue her friend Zhang Qijie as well, but he had been unable to. He then claimed that Qijie may still require her help, to which Shao Jun revealed that her friend had become Empress and reaching her would be extremely difficult.[11]

The Search China (2)

Shao Jun and Wang Yangming arriving in Nan'an

Following this, the two Assassins decided to resume their hunt of the Tigers and headed to Nan'an to find Wei Bin, Zhang Yong's lieutenant who had overseen the Chinese Brotherhood's slaughter. While Shao Jun attempted to eliminate the Tiger, Yangming decided to search for a contact who might be able to help them understand the secrets of the Precursor box.[37]

Entering the city in disguise, Shao Jun was unexpectedly reunited with Kotetu, who had used his late father's contacts to find her. After heading to a secluded spot to talk, the Assassin apologized to the boy for her perceived failure in Macau. However, Kotetsu explained that the people of the city blamed the authorities for starting the fire, and that they reported seeing a woman clad in black robes trying to save as many civilians as she could from the flames.[38]

The Snake China (3)

Shao Jun assassinating Wei Bin

Understanding that her actions had done some good after all, Shao Jun thanked Kotetsu to helping her regain her resolve and resumed her mission.[38] She infiltrated Wei Bin's headquarters and killed his bodyguards before assassinating the Templar himself. However, with his dying words, Wei Bin informed her that Zhang Yong was hunting Yangming and had lured him into a trap.[39]

Shao Jun immediately left to save her Mentor but arrived too late, witnessing Zhang Yong mortally wounding Yangming and reclaiming the Precursor box for the Templars.[40] After her Mentor died in her arms, Shao Jun attempted to take revenge on Zhang Yong, Qiu Ju, and the soldiers accompanying them, but a monk from a nearby Buddhist temple intervened and prevented the confrontation from escalating. After he demanded that no violence be brought to the temple of Buddha, the Templars complied and left Shao Jun alone to reflect on her losses.[41]

Hunted China (6)

A grieving Shao Jun beside her dying Mentor

The monk subsequently offered to assist Shao Jun with organizing Yangming's funeral and revealed himself as the contact whom the Mentor was set to meet. During their conversation, the monk also helped Shao Jun realize that she was descended from the Isu and that her special bloodline granted her the gift of Eagle Vision, allowing her to see things before they happened.[42]

After her Mentor's funeral, Shao Jun thanked the monk for his hospitality and questioned how he knew so much about the Brotherhood and the Isu. When the monk revealed that one of his ancestors was an Assassin from the Middle East, Shao Jun vowed to uphold the same principles as the Assassins that had come before her, and set off to recover the Precursor box.[43]

Infiltrating the Forbidden City[]

"You have no friends left. The last person alive who you thought you could trust betrayed you. That is how we wiped out your kind! So trusting of others, so weak and pathetic!"
―Zhang Yong to Shao Jun during their confrontation at the Imperial Palace, 1530.[src]-[m]

In 1530, Shao Jun was contacted by her old friend Zhang Qijie, who claimed to have a lead on Zhang Yong's location.[44] Infiltrating Beijing alongside Kotetsu, who posed as her younger brother, Shao Jun told the boy to wait for her outside while she rescued her friend from the Forbidden City. When Kotetsu expressed his desire to become an Assassin like her, Shao Jun agreed to train him once she had defeated the Templars.[43]

An Old Friend China (6)

Shao Jun being led into a trap at the Imperial Palace

After sneaking into the Imperial court, Shao Jun freed Qijie's concubines who had helped pass the information to her. She then made her way to the Empress' quarters, only to find her being held hostage by Zhang Yong and Qiu Ju.[44] The Templars tried to convince Shao Jun that her friend had betrayed her, but the Assassin knew that the Empress had been forced to lure her into the trap and forgave her.[45]

While Zhang Yong fled, Shao Jun was forced to battle Qiu Ju and managed to overcome her adversary by dropping several lanterns on him, setting him on fire.[45] Soon, the entire room became engulfed by flames, but the Assassin was able to escape with Empress Zhang after a pillar fell on Qiu Ju, killing him.[46]

Once they were safe, Qijie apologized to Shao Jun for leading her into the Templars' trap while the Assassin in turn apologized for not saving her earlier in their lives. She then invited Qijie to flee the palace with her, but the Empress claimed that, with most of the Tigers gone, the Jiajing Emperor may start listening to wiser council and her situation would improve. Shao Jun understood her friend's decision and hugged her before they parted ways once again.[46]

The Great Wall[]

Zhang Yong: "Your actions here have only delayed the inevitable. Slowing these savages will have only angered them. They will see this as a betrayal and launch a full scale assault."
Shao Jun: "They will not reach my land. The Wall will hold them back."
—Shao Jun and Zhang Yong shortly before the latter's death, 1532.[src]-[m]
Vengeance China (6)

Shao Jun with the dying Zhang Yong

In 1532, Shao Jun and Kotetsu pursued Zhang Yong, the last of the Tigers, to the Great Wall of China,[47] where they learned of the Templar's plan to let Altan Khan's Mongol army invade the country in exchange for a seat in power after the outcome.[48] With Kotetsu's help,[47] Shao Jun closed the Wall's gates and killed the Mongol scouts, preventing them from entering her homeland.[48]

Following this, Shao Jun confronted Zhang Yong, who revealed that he had sent the Precursor box to other Templars outside of China to prevent the Assassins from getting it. However, Shao Jun rebutted that retrieving the box was another Assassin's destiny and that hers was to eliminate the Tiger. Amidst the chaos of the Wall's bombardment by the infuriated Mongols, who believed Zhang Yong had betrayed them, Shao Jun pursued the Templar as he tried to escape.[49]

Vengeance China (7)

Shao Jun vowing to rebuild the Chinese Brotherhood

When she eventually cornered him, she mortally wounded him with her sword, marking the end of the Tigers and of Templar influence in China. As the dying Zhang Yong asked her if the taste of vengeance felt like she had hoped, Shao Jun replied that, although she had started her journey with the goal of revenge, she had since found a better goal: the future. She then vowed to rebuild the Chinese Brotherhood and bring a new tomorrow for China and freedom for its people.[49]


Mentor of the Chinese Assassins[]

"I will undo all that you have done. I will rebuild the Brotherhood and recruit those who wish to make our land a place of freedom, those ready to die to fight men like you. Your Templar world will not happen. The Assassins will rise again."
―Shao Jun to Zhang Yong, 1532.[src]-[m]

Shao Jun eventually succeeded in her reconstruction of the Chinese Assassins, recruiting new members and obtaining the title of Mentor.[49] One of the first Assassin apprentices she trained was Kotetsu, like she had promised him years earlier.[50]

Vengeance China (10)

An elderly Shao Jun serving as Mentor of the Chinese Brotherhood

When Kotetsu eventually completed his training, he decided to return to his home country of Japan to establish a new Brotherhood and fight Templar influence in his homeland. Prior to his departure, Kotetsu met with Shao Jun one final time and the two hugged each other and recited the tenets of the Creed before the Mentor wished her apprentice good luck in his mission.[50]

By 1567, Shao Jun was a wise elder who shared her knowledge with the younger members of the Brotherhood while tasking others to accomplish various missions. As such, she planned the death of the Jiajing Emperor, sending Assassins to offer him the elixir of life, while it was in fact a lethal dose of mercury.[49]

Legacy[]

"A Sheng Biao—or rope dart, if you prefer. One of the many plans given to us by Shao Jun."
―Achilles Davenport introducing the rope dart to his student, Ratonhnhaké:ton, 1773.[src]-[m]

Shao Jun's actions greatly impacted the Assassin-Templar War in China. She rebuilt the Chinese Brotherhood after it had been all but wiped out during the Great Rites Controversy, and eliminated the Chinese Rite of the Templar Order, driving them out of the country for centuries to come.[25] Through her training of Kotetsu, she was also indirectly responsible for the establishment of the Japanese Brotherhood.[50]

ACC China DB Shao Jun's Rope Dart

Shao Jun's rope dart

Some time following her encounter with Ezio Auditore, Shao Jun introduced her signature weapon, the rope dart, to other branches of the Assassin Order. By the 18th century, the rope dart had become widely used by the Assassins of the West Indies and Colonial Brotherhoods, most notably by Edward Kenway,[51] Adéwalé,[52] Shay Cormac,[53] and Ratonhnhaké:ton,[54] though they did not utilize the invention in the same manner of efficiency that Shao Jun had, especially in traversal.[25]

Shao Jun was responsible for bringing Ezio's Precursor box to China. After it was stolen by the Chinese Templars, the box would exchange hands many times over the centuries as both the Assassins and Templars sought to acquire the artifact for their own ends.[52][53][55][56]

Xiao Han, the Mentor of the Chinese Assassins in the early 18th century, claimed descent from Shao Jun. By this point in time, the Chinese Brotherhood was in decline again, and Xiao Han sought to restore it to its former glory using a Piece of Eden located in the lost city of Angkor. When he met with his uncle Sun for a possible lead to Angkor's location, Xiao Han denounced Sun once he learned his uncle planned to deliver the artifact to the Qing Emperor and called him a disgrace to their bloodline and the Creed,[57] before assassinating him.[58]

In 1725, while under the influence of a Piece of Eden shaped like a crescent amulet, the Assassin Edward Kenway experienced several visions, one of which showed Shao Jun and other Assassins from both the past and the future, including Kassandra, Ezio and Edward's own grandson, Ratonhnhaké:ton.[59]

ACCR RF (17)

Anastasia Romanova being imprinted with Shao Jun's memories

In July 1918, a copy of Shao Jun's genetic memories somehow contained in the Precursor box bonded with the Russian Duchess Anastasia Romanova when the girl came in contact with both the box and a shard from the Imperial Sceptre formerly owned by the House of Romanov. As she was tracked by both the Templars and the Red Army, Anastasia used Shao Jun's memories to learn freerunning and how to fight.[56]

In 2015, while a Helix Initiate relived the memories of the twin Assassins Jacob and Evie Frye, Shao Jun's outfit was available as an Animus mod that could be applied to Evie.[60] That same year, Shao Jun's memories were relived through the Helix by a research analyst at Abstergo Entertainment, due to her involvement with one of the Precursor boxes.[25]

By 2016, Abstergo Industries had recovered Shao Jun's equipment and brought it to their Abstergo Foundation facility in Madrid. Her descendant Lin later used it during the Assassins' escape from the facility.[61] In 2019, another descendant of Shao Jun, the Japanese teenager Kō Risa, was brought to an Abstergo clinic in Yokohama under the guise of receiving treatment for her violent impulses, but in reality was made to explore her ancestor's memories to learn the location of Shao Jun's Precursor box;[10] however, this trail ultimately proved to be a dead end.[50]

Personality and traits[]

"I want to understand, like you do. To help my people."
―Shao Jun to Ezio Auditore, 1524.[src]
ACE-V 8

Shao Jun standing watch at Ezio's villa

Shao Jun had a strong desire for knowledge, specifically in learning about how the Assassin Order functioned and how its members lived their lives. She would search for information when none was given to her, even going against the wishes of others for her own clarity, as evidenced by her invasion of Ezio's study.[23]

Despite this, Shao Jun was sincere about her interest to understand her Order, and took Ezio's lessons and lectures to heart. She was fairly approachable in personality, having a sort of naive innocence that contrasted with the then-elderly Ezio's gruffness and desire to distance himself from the Assassin's Order.[23]

Shao Jun remained on-guard at all times, keeping a close eye on her surroundings for any possible threats. Because of this, she was somewhat restless, often staying up at night and preparing for an attack instead of sleeping.[23] She also loved to experience and learn from new cultures and societies, and was often excited about the opportunity to understand people of different nationalities other than her own.[4]

Even in training, Shao Jun seemed incapable of staying her hand when a Templar was in sight. During her quest of revenge against the Chinese Templars, she appeared colder and more vengeful, sometimes stabbing her targets multiple times with her jian when assassinating them.[25] Similarly, when Anastasia Romanova gained Shao Jun's memories, she would sometimes become lost in the Assassin's persona, which was noticeably more ruthless and brutal, at one point threatening to kill Nikolai Orelov, a fellow Assassin, simply for pushing her down.[56]

Skills and equipment[]

ACE-V 9

Shao Jun utilizing her Hidden Footblade

With maturity, Shao Jun adapted her techniques to her physical strengths and weaknesses. Unhappy with the wrist blade of the Assassins, she designed a lighter and more versatile one, better suited to the martial arts. Hidden under her left boot, the Hidden Footblade allowed her to perform deadly kicks in the midst of a close combat.[23]

Shao Jun wielded a Chinese jian as her primary weapon, and her sword skills were perfected in the dark alleys of the city, fighting off Templar agents. While she had no ordinary Hidden Blade, she did have a total of six throwing needles tucked under her bracers as secondary weapons.[23] Accompanying this, she developed the rope dart after her journey to Italy, using it to swing across gaps or climb up to ceilings, and also employed firecrackers, throwing knives and noise-creating darts to distract guards.[25]

Shao Jun was born with a gift of stealth and agility that made her stand out from all the other concubines. Her talent for killing was as graceful as it was efficient, and the Master used to refer to her style as a "dance of death". She was extensively trained in combat by the Order, and was an adept and agile fighter. Her fighting style was heavily reminiscent of the Chinese martial art of Wushu, which involves ample flexibility and knowledge in both unarmed and sword combat.[23]

Chronicles-China 6

Shao Jun crossing narrow pathways to reach another location

Shao Jun possessed the extra-sensory ability dubbed Eagle Vision and used it to detect the path of guards and the distance that sound carried from dogs, birds, and wind chimes.[25] The Vision also allowed Shao Jun to see into the future to an extent, allowing her to predict her enemies' moves during combat.[42] She was also highly agile beyond the range of many Assassins, capable of dodging incoming gunfire, thrown weaponry, and crossbow bolts.[25]

Shao Jun's arsenal of weapons were fitted for her style of combat, as they were light yet deadly. To lower suspicion in public areas, she concealed her weapons in her attire, save for her jian, which she kept sheathed across her back. Shao Jun had at least a basic grasp of Italian, being able to say "grazie" to Sofia Sartor after she was allowed to stay at the villa, and was also able to understand Ezio even if he spoke in the language.[23]

Behind the scenes[]

Shao Jun is a character first introduced in the 2011 short film Assassin's Creed: Embers, where she was voiced by the Canadian actress Angela Galuppo. She later appeared as the protagonist of the 2015 spin-off game Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China, voiced by Annabelle Galea. In the 2021 podcast series Assassin's Creed: Turbulence in the Ming Dynasty, she was voiced by the Chinese actress Liu Yan.

Name[]

Discrepancies[]

Shao Jun is a name in the Mandarin Chinese language. In accordance with Chinese naming custom, the surname is Shao and the personal name is Jun. However, there has been major discrepancies in regards to the name, owing to it having been selected in English without prior reference to actual Chinese characters, also known as hanzi. Essentially, a Mandarin-sounding name was chosen as opposed to a real Mandarin name, leaving Chinese, Korean, and Japanese translators to then figure out on their own the name that would correspond to how it sounds.

Compounding this problem is the initial mispronunciation of Shao Jun's name in her debut appearance in Embers. The spelling is reflective of the Hanyu Pinyin romanization system of Mandarin that is standard in the People's Republic of China. From its spelling, it should be pronounced /ʂau̯.tɕyn/, which in turn can be best approximated into English as /ˈʃaʊ.ˈdʒuːn/ (i.e. "shao-joon").[62]

However, her name is pronounced in Embers as /ˈjuːn/ (i.e. "yoon") by Ezio Auditore and Sofia Sartor alike, with Jun even affirming to Sofia that her pronunciation is correct. The characters pronounce the ⟨j⟩ as an English ⟨y⟩, as it would be in most Germanic languages and in the International Phonetic Alphabet. This is incorrect because the ⟨j⟩ in the Pinyin system represents a Mandarin phoneme that corresponds closest to the English ⟨j⟩.[63] Shao Jun should be pronounced in English exactly as it is spelled.

The mistake initially appeared to have been rectified in Assassin's Creed III and the standard release of Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China, where the characters pronounce the name correctly with the English ⟨j⟩, yet this did not resolve the issue because already in the Chinese language edition of Embers, Shao Jun's name was given as 邵雲 (Shào Yún).

The mispronunciation has given rise to a slew of further variations and mistaken renditions of her name. Beginning in the Chinese version of Chronicles: China, her name was rendered as 少芸 (Shǎo Yún), her surname having changed from 邵 (Shào) to 少 (Shǎo) and her given name from 雲 (Yún) to 芸 (Yún).

The Korean and Japanese versions of the game only created an additional layer of errors. Chinese names intrinsically have 1:1 correspondences with Korean and Japanese names as the hanzi can be read in those languages. Thus, 少芸 (Shǎo Yún) is Sō Un in Korean and Shō Un in Japanese. Instead of performing the conversion, the Korean and Japanese translators opted to transliterate the Mandarin pronunciation into their languages, resulting in the erroneous three-syllabic names 샤오윤 (Sy-o Yun) in Korean and シャオ・ユン (Sha'o Yun) in Japanese.

From Chronicles: China onward, 少芸 (Mandarin: Shǎo Yún) has become the established form of Shao Jun's name in East Asian languages, being carried over into Assassin's Creed: Rebellion and Assassin's Creed: Blade of Shao Jun despite still being based on the mispronunciation of Jun.

Eventually, this has culminated in a final error with her name in Assassin's Creed: Forgotten Temple. Originally written in Korean, the webtoon still uses the mistaken conversion of the already erroneous name 少芸 (Mandarin: Shǎo Yún) into 샤오윤 (Sy-o Yun). When Forgotten Temple was translated into English, confusion over whom "Sy-o Yun" referred to produced the mistranslation Xiao Yun, reflecting a different name in Mandarin and thus a different hypothetical individual entirely. The English translator mistook Sy-o for the Chinese surname 蕭 (Xiāo) because "Sy-o Yun" was being described as an ancestor of the character Xiao Han, not realizing that this "Sy-o Yun" was none other than Shao Jun.

Technically, these discrepancies make it unclear if her name is mispronounced in the short film or if it has instead been consistently misspelled across all English Assassin's Creed media. In practice, she has multiple different names in European language versions of Assassin's Creed and East Asian language versions of Assassin's Creed.

Chinese fans of the series has added one final variation of her name: 邵君 (Shào Jūn). This variation uses her surname as originally given in the Chinese release of Embers in conjunction with the common feminine name 君 (Jūn) that accurately reflects the proper pronunciation of her given name.

Name meanings[]

The three main variations for Shao Jun's name are 邵雲 (Shào Yún), 邵君 (Shào Jūn), 少芸 (Shǎo Yún).

Shào (邵) is one of the most common surnames of that pronunciation. It originates from the name of an ancient Chinese state and is largely meaningless. Shǎo (少) simply means 'little [of something]', 'small', or 'junior'. This surname was recorded in the Tang dynasty (618–907) Yuánhé Xìngzuǎn 《元和姓纂》. However, since the Song dynasty (960–1279), the name has disappeared from all known records of Chinese family names. Because of this, Shǎo (少) appears to be an anachronistic surname for the Ming dynasty (1368–1644).

As for the variants of her given name, Yún (雲; simplified: 云) means 'cloud'. Jūn (君) is a common female name that literally means 'monarch' or 'ruler' and is used to translate the English title 'lord', therefore carrying the connotations of an 'honorable' or 'noble person'. Yún (芸) refers to the Ruta graveolens plant.

Lore inconsistencies[]

There are a few inconsistencies in lore regarding Shao Jun, particularly with her birth date. In Scroll 1 of Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China, it is stated that she was born in 1506, but the Assassin's Creed: Blade of Shao Jun manga gives her birth date as 1500, while the second edition of Assassin's Creed: The Essential Guide gives it as 1505.

Other discrepancies concern the location where she first meets Ezio Auditore and where she positions her Hidden Footblade. The Assassin's Creed Encyclopedia states that she meets him in Florence, but Assassin's Creed: Embers depicts their first encounter as taking place at his villa in the Tuscan countryside. Blade of Shao Jun and Scroll 10 of Chronicles: China state that her Hidden Footblade is hidden underneath her left boot, and although it is not impossible for her to change its position, the film Embers. Chronicles: China gameplay, and the non-canon novel Assassin's Creed: The Ming Storm all have it equipped on her right foot.

Anachronisms[]

Aside from her surname being likely anachronistic if it is actually Shǎo (少) and not Shào (邵), Shao Jun's attire is also anachronistic for the Ming period (1368–1644) since its style only arose under the Qing dynasty (1644–1911).

Merchandise[]

On 16 November 2011,[64] Ubisoft announced that the Ubiworkshop store was releasing a replica of Shao Jun's necklace that could be bought for $24.99 USD, or the equivalent in the regional currency.[65] One month later, UbiWorkshop announced that limited edition red[66][67] and black versions[68] were available for purchase at the same price[69] and would ship out in early January 2012.[70]

See also[]

Appearances[]

References[]

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