Hsieh Lieng

THE DRAGON WHO WAITS

Appears in A Journey to Fusang and The Return to Fusang

The late nemesis of Hotspur O'Toole.

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A spoiled mandarin's son from the Celestial Kingdom (China), early in life, Lieng developed a passion for study and for Western technology. He went to an American missionary school against the wishes of his parents, who were very insular and conservative. At some point, he fell in with a revolutionary sect seeking to overthrow the Imperial Authority and set up local warlords. Lieng proved to be a very energetic and capable organizer, and developed a large cadre of student militia. The revolutionary movement attracted the attention of the Imperial court, who sent out army after army to smash the warlord movement growing in the South of the Kingdom. Alas, the Kingdom's military was antiquated by the standards of the technologically superior revolutionaries, and they were defeated time and again. In desperation, the Merchant Collective at Kowloon hired a local cargo steamer captain, Frederick Ward, to organize a local defense force. Ward hit upon the unique concept of creating a mixed Chinese and European/American force of soldiers. The first incarnation, the Kowloon Defense Corps, shocked everyone in the vicinity by soundly thrashing a much larger Warlord army menacing Kowloon. Gradually, Ward and his lieutenants sought more European and American officers, often going abroad on recruiting trips. On one of these trips, Ward himself met the young subaltern in the Guides named O'Toole, who decided to resign his commission for the life of a filibuster. The next campaigning season extended the scope of the Kowloon Defense Corps, which had been rechristened The Ever Victorious Army by local Mandarins. The River Campaign developed into a brutal slugging match between the swiftly moving EVA (on steam powered riverboats) and local warlord militia. One such militia was commanded by the now junior bannerman Hsieh Lieng. When a landing party under the command of the junior officer O'Toole arrived at his district to rescue foreign missionaries, Lieng organized a flying column to meet the invaders. His men encountered the EVA column escorting a pack of civilians to the waiting river transports. Lieng did not hesitate to attack them— opening fire with repeated volleys. After seeing one officer go down (Forrester), Lieng ordered his men to charge into melee, which led to a wild fight on the docks, and a confrontation with Lt. O'Toole. Lieng, no coward, went for the younger enemy officer, who defended himslf well. Lieng discovered the other officer was a decent swordsman, and was soon hard pressed. Lieng tried to knock the officer's guard down and it looked as if it might work, but it was a feint— the riposte was faster than he could see coming, and the backslash opened his cheek from eye to jawbone. Lieng screamed and dropped to the floor. The distraction proved fatal to the militia's plans to capture the EVAs alive. As he drifted out of consciousness from the effects of opium as the doctor sewed up his face, Lieng made a silent vow to find out who the young officer was and give him some of his own back. Revenge, as his people always said, is a dish best served cold.

In the years that followed, Lieng grew in prominence from junior revolutionary officer, to colonel (bannerman) of troops, to junior warlord in his own right, to senior warlord, commanding a vast array of troops. As his army grew, he remembered seeing how well the EVA troops had handled themselves under Western military discipline and using western equipment. He sought to emulate the methods, but not the culture, of the Great powers— soon a small railway was built in his humble starting hamlet in the South, then it was extended as more lands fell to his army. When Lieng's army subjugated the Imperial governor's palace of Fusang and made it his home base, Lieng came to the attention of the Dark Ocean Society— a ruthless group of criminals led by an allegedly undying wizard, Lien Bao. Bao and Lieng entered into a partnership, of sorts.. Bao would grant unheard of powers to Lieng in return for extension and protection of the Fusang Army. In no time at all, Fusang's influence became something to fear. Hsieh's warlord name, "The Dragon Who Waits" developed a sinister context.

Lieng had never forgotten the face of the young officer who had literally caused him "face" all those years ago, and some discrete inquiries revealed he was now living in Caledon, and better yet, had a Chinese manservant named Changkuo Jie. Consulting with Bao, Lieng had a series of phony letters drawn up that would draw Jie back to the Celestial Kingdom. The ploy worked, and Jie was kidnapped. O'Toole followed. The resulting trip, betrayal, capture and murder are revealed in THE JOURNEY TO FUSANG webcomic. O'Toole escaped final capture in Bao's fortress North of Fusang, and took Jie's body home to his parents for burial, then departed (sadly) for Caledon.

Years later, as part of the Silver Poison affair, Hotspur himself was kidnapped and taken to Fusang in the hold of a freighter. Again, this was handled personally by Lien Bao. Hotspur escaped en route and the resulting adventure is recounted in THE RETURN TO FUSANG. Lieng and Hotspur had a final confrontation at Castle Fusang which resulted in revealing the true nature of "The Dragon who Waits" as well as an old secret Hotspur had kept hidden. In the end, with some timely intervention from the Lady Bellambi, Hsieh Lieng, the Dragon who Waits, was vanquished on the ramparts of Fusang castle, and no longer enters these tales.

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