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© 2018 by Sam Stone

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The Fenghuang Jin

By: Victoria Lai

 

Noodle Bar Alley, as it is lovingly called by its inhabitants and patrons alike, is a bit of a misnomer that belies both the size as well as the grandeur of the neighborhood that it encompasses. This eclectic restaurant district is as much bazaar as it is residential. The streets are lined with open-air vendors touting fish caught just that morning, alongside samples of fruits, meats, and fresh baked goods. A strangely inviting fermented yet savory scent wafts from one shop, intermingling with a more floral aroma from another. Those with an adventurous palate are welcome to try Grandpa Wong’s Bao and Noodles, a local favorite and namesake for the area, while others still can find cuisines more to their liking - pasta, pierogies, and challah are sometimes just as prominent offerings as shumai. Although chefs and restaurateurs of all backgrounds are welcome to open up shop, it’s clear from the local Buddhist temple, the exotic calligraphic storefront signs, and the watercolor paintings of fire-red birds and serpentine dragons just who dominates the quarter: the Fenghuang Jin.

The Fenghuang Jin, “Phoenix Ember”, is a collective of outcast folk who have learned to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.  The Jin live by three simple virtues: Integrity, Honor, and Determination. Today, its makeup is as motley as they come, though its founding members are the offspring of Asian transplants from the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad and starry-eyed fools who passed through Ellis Island at the turn of the century. Thanks to the growing number of restrictions against immigration from East Asian countries, these seemingly isolated few were brought together by tales of their homelands and bolstered by a need to protect each other from bigotry and Yellow Peril. Ultimately, they were united by one unfortunate commonality: the stinging loss of the love of their families for going against the strict traditions of their upbringing. Though there was initial hesitation, recognizing that their numbers were limited, they soon opted to welcome like-minded people of differing cultures into their fold -- outcasts must stick together and all.  

Like the mythical phoenix for which they are named, Jins are marked by their social grace in the face of adversity. Prioritizing survival and adaptation over power, they rarely publicly raise a ruckus over gang wars. Often seen as a neutral party, sometimes mistaken for cowardly, they are not to be trifled with. Though they are more interested in quietly working behind the scenes, they are fiercely protective of their territory and will not hesitate to bare their talons when threatened. In the City, everyone must offer something to the lifeblood that is the blackmarket trade, and the Jins’ offering is a steady supply of opium, information, and companions, largely funneled through their most important holding: the Golden Pearl Tea House. On the outside, the Golden Pearl appears to be little more than a decrepit shop that sells snake oil cures from the Far East. While the tea selection is impressive, the offerings to loyal customers are far more enticing. Uttering the passcode grants you access to the Pearl’s opium den and brothel. A steamy haven to the City’s disenfranchised Others, they are now offered a place to express themselves and explore their tastes freely -- all genders, and all proclivities, provided of course that all parties are in accord. And yes - the companions are very well trained.


 

Play a Member of the Fenghuang Jin if…

  • You, as a gangster, want to dominate the City with wit and machinations over brute strength.

  • You have known the bittersweet taste of alienation and have risen above the odds.

  • You want to watch the world burn, if only for the beauty of the flames and the world that would rise from the ashes.