Cao Lu Character in Zheng-Kitar | World Anvil

Cao Lu (Kow Loo)

The infamous tyrant who once conquered all of Zheng-Kitar beneath his banner of oppression and suffering

Emperor Cao Lu (a.k.a. The Immortal Emperor)

Cao Lu is classified as a Lesser Idol, and is capable of granting powers as a patron to witches, warlocks, as well as perhaps clerics and the like who venerate the snakeblooded Immortal Emperor, first and only conqueror of all of Zheng-Kitar. Consult your GM if you are interested in following or recieving power from Cao Lu as described here.
  Obedience: Spend an hour inscribing serpentine or reptilian iconography onto your skin, all the while muttering psalms to Cao Lu singing praise of his glory, such that even the afterlife cannot fully contain it. Once the hour is up, drink or inject yourself with a small dose of snake venom mixed with serpentine or reptile blood.   Effect: You gain a +4 on all saves vs poison, and may store poisons you save against inside of your bloodstream - spitting out these stored poisons gives you a single dose of the poison you saved against. You gain 'Snake Empathy', allowing you to communicate empathetically with Snakes, and can transform as a standard action that provokes Attacks of Opportunity into any snake like creature as per Beast Shape I(Working on Tiny, Small, and Medium Size snakes) so long as its CR does not exceed your HD(GM Discretion). Leaving this transformation is a swift action that does not provoke Attacks of Opportunity.

Physical Description

General Physical Condition

As best as can be determined, his physical condition was extremely and unnaturally perfect - despite being born and living his life as a normal Human, he lived a freakishly long life that reached almost 250 years old, only the final decade of which was spent showing any signs of old age. As this cannot and has not been explained by historians or biologists in the centuries and millennia since his death, his true physical condition can only be surmised at - many prevailing theories hold him as another species masquerading as a Human, some believe him to have been some kind of demigod, while still others believe that he did indeed somehow modify his own body to lengthen his lifespan based on historical writings of questionable legitimacy that describe him as 'regularly imbibing the venom and blood of serpents with his morning meals'.

Body Features

While few records of his bodily features remain, he is described as 'serpentine of body, lithe and tall'.

Facial Features

His face is described in historical record as angular and serpentine, with eyes spread far apart(almost freakishly so) and possessing little conventional beauty.

Identifying Characteristics

Any identifying features he might have had have been lost to time.

Physical quirks

The only physical quirk that remains known to modern day scholars was his extremely unnatural bodily health - as a Human who lived over three times the lifespan for his species before his death and was said to never catch any illnesses or diseases, his bodily health was strangely and unnaturally perfect...and is a mystery many today seek to emulate, believing him to hide some kind of 'immortality method' somewhere in his writings or vaults.

Special abilities

Unknown - conflicting reports paint him as a warrior, some as an alchemist, some still as a mage, while others claim him powerless and simply a manipulative leader.

Apparel & Accessories

He was always seen in the same outfit - a long, custom tailored snow-white coat that came from his neck with large collar and hung down around his ankles, typically worn over ornate metal armor adorned with serpentine iconography. He wore many finger rings and wore a locket with the molted skin of a snake trapped within it, for reasons unknown.

Specialized Equipment

Unknown.

Mental characteristics

Gender Identity

Unknown. LIkely male(He/Him).

Sexuality

Ironically, this is one of the things most well-known about him even so many thousands of years later - many believe him to be entirely asexual, as not a single record of him ever having a wife or producing children exists in historical record. In fact, historical records speak similarly about wild speculation as to the Immortal Emperor's love life - which was apparently something akin to public gossip during the time he reigned.

Education

Unknown.

Accomplishments & Achievements

United the six churches of the six Spirit Kings to form a singular, unitary theocratic organization ruled by him alone.   Conquered the entireity of Zheng-Kitar and established a continental empire that stretched from coast to coast, north to south, and east to west.   Introduced a universal language of trade for all the cultures and ethnicities united beneath his banner.   Eliminated Barbarism altogether - by bringing the barbarians of the time together and uniting them beneath a central banner, he achieved the impossible and civilized the world almost entirely, though the same barbarians would return to their old ways upon his death.   Popularized and Utilized Alchemy to modify and alter the Human species, infusing them with serpentine physiology to make them stronger, faster, more durable, and longer lived.   Made peace with and accepted Kyra Aenai and her High Lamia into Zheng-Kitar.

Failures & Embarrassments

None/Unknown.

Mental Trauma

Unknown.

Intellectual Characteristics

Beyond being described as a 'cunning, snaketongued manipulator' who was so dangerous that he could seemingly wrench the secrets of those he spoke to out of thin air and use them against them, not much else is known about him.

Morality & Philosophy

Unknown. He did not talk at length about his moral or philosophical beliefs - he styled himself as a divine being who needed no other morality nor philosophy aside from the mere fact of his existence.

Personality Characteristics

Motivation

Though he has been the source of countless speculation, fictional stories, false reports, as well as one who captured the hearts and minds of the public centuries after his death, his motivations are frustratingly unknown - his secrecy with his personal life combined with his seeming obsession with leaving behind nothing beside from the carefully cultivated image of the "Immortal Emperor" means that his motivations are purely speculation at best by those scholars who have studied him and his era of Zheng-Kitaran history.

Savvies & Ineptitudes

Unknown.

Likes & Dislikes

Likes: His pet snake Tyrant, Himself, Snakes, ???   Dislikes: ???

Virtues & Personality perks

For all his sins, there are many things about the tyrant Cao Lu few can deny - as the first and only conquerer of the continent, he is single-handedly responsible for the creation of the universal trade language of 'common', and giving all cultures and peoples on Zheng-Kitar a language with which to speak amongst each other to streamline trade and political relations. He was, before all other things, a supremely savvy and cunning man who showed the world the failings of the existing religious institutions by effortlessly taking control of them, and took massive strides to ensure no such thing could happen afterwards(Though it was undoubtedly born more out of a desire to not be overthrown than actual goodliness), thus bringing real and potent reform to the churches of the Spirit Kings that has persisted into the modern day.   And despite his cruelty, he undoubtedly made great strides in the ways of civilization during the two centuries of his rule - though some of it was undone upon his death, many of the great inventions he pioneered during his reign have endured even into the modern day, such as large-scale irrigation and aquifers, more advanced farming techniques, soil enrichment magic and more 'utilitarian' schools of magic, and most notably perhaps, the establishment and popularization of Alchemy across Zheng-Kitar.

Vices & Personality flaws

Despite his virtues, he was a man of bottomless vice and flaw - the least of which was his brutal and flagrant manipulation of the six churches of the Spirit Kings until he alone sat at the top of ruler of them all, using their united power to lead a campaign of conquest and carnage across Zheng-Kitar until he alone sat at the head of a united continent. He was a man who did not hesitate to enact horrific brutality when others failed him or earned his wrath, and frequently killed or executed entire populations for rebellions, even when lesser punishments would be perfectly acceptable - he had no qualms about manipulating, abusing, or controlling others to get his way and often did so, as well.   He was a cruel man who, while not wantonly evil, wielded violence and cruelty like a scalpel to achieve his means and goals...so while some good might have come out of what he did and achieved, his means and methods were undoubtedly vicious and cruel beyond measure.

Personality Quirks

Ironically, for all his advancements in the fields of alchemy and enhancing Human anatomy through infusions of serpentine biology, he himself never once was known to accept bodily changes like those he brought to his subjects. Instead, he remained a pure-blooded human for his nearly quarter millennia of life - a unique oddity which many find issue with and see as confusing, seeing how vocal an advocate he was for altering and enhancing the Human genome to uplift them into a new existence.

Hygiene

Unknown. As the emperor of an entire continent, it is reasonable to assume he was a tidy and well-kempt man, but there is no longer any conclusive evidence to support this theory.

Social

Contacts & Relations

As a man that, during his life, not only united all six churches of The Spirit Kings beneath a singular banner, invited and accepted the High Lamia into Zheng-Kitar as his royal guards, conquered and united the entire continent beneath his banner, and united all the lands of Zheng-Kitar by bestowing onto them the universal trade language of common , Cao Lu contacts and affiliations can be said to extend about as far as any mortal being's network could grow, such that there are few creatures even now that do not know of him and his exploits. Though many likely feared him, he was known by almost all and claimed rulership over them, able to manipulate and draw upon nearly any being from the lowliest peasant to even the likes of Kyra Aenai, of whom he was said to know extremely well.

Family Ties

He was not known to ever have family ties - at least, not publically. However, because he was well-known as being extremely protective of his private life even as the Immortal Emperor, it is possible, however unlikely, that his bloodline may continue into the modern day - though if it did, it would likely be either unknown even to the children themselves or hidden extremely well to have survived the witch hunts that occured after his death by his detractors who wished to wipe his bloodline from history for his tyranny.   So secretive was he that, even during his life, he was a subject of such awe and veneration to his subjects that he never once presented himself as having a wife or children - doing such, many scholars presume, would lower him in the eyes of his subjects to a level more close to their own, so he refrained from revealing any such connections in favor of maintaining a 'divine' presence beyond mortal ken.

Religious Views

Though he rose to power by uniting all six churches of all six Spirit Kings beneath his banner and gaining complete and autocratic control over the continent on the backs of his unending armies, Cao Lu himself was never known to present his personal religious beliefs - even his supposed 'divinity' was little more than a tool, many believe, to help him maintain autocratic control over the continent which he had conquered. So while he may have outwardly styled himself an 'Immortal Emperor' in service to all six united Spirit Kings, the reality might in fact be much more surprising in that he was likely an athiest, unbelieving and unafraid of any divine beings, who weaponised the fervent faith of an entire continent to achieve his own ends.

Social Aptitude

Rather than being outwardly, divinely charismatic, Cao Lu's social aptitude is better described as 'manipulative', 'slimy', and 'irritatingly arrogant' - he did not lead through awe nor inspire great courage in those who followed him, but instead knew his enemies and allies alike and manipulated them to serve his own ends; whether it be blackmail, psychological manipulation, actual magical or alchemical compulsions, or countless other means, he did not shy away from any of them.   His social aptitude is best described by this quote attributed to one of his court viziers, found inscribed on the walls of his ruined capital of Ssarizzax deep in the Yudao Rainforest in what was believed to be his final words before his execution for treason against the Immortal Emperor.  
He does not motivate you through inspiring speeches nor heroic actions - his words are like oil, slithering into your ears and into your soul, finding out your darkest secrets, bringing out your deepest and most basic fears and insecurities and using them against you.   You will not want to do as he says, but will anyway - sometimes without even realizing it; His court is a den of evil and he the tyrant who sits upon a throne of secrets and lies. None can truly emerge from an audience with him unscathed; dealing with him, is itself, a fallacy - one that blackens the soul and twists the mind.
— Cao Lu's Court Vizier

Mannerisms

Cao Lu, as best as can be determined, was not one for grandiose gestures or ostentatious displays of wealth - when he spoke, he did so without raising his voice; when he needed something, he demanded it; when he wanted something, he got it - he let his words and actions speak for themselves, and combined with his snake-like personality his mannerisms, though restrained and often described as 'constantly on the razor's edge of violence', made him a man whose mannerisms belied his true capabilities and ferocity.   Not being prone to random acts of violence nor vulgar displays of power, he was instead a refined, reserved man who would order the worst atrocities if it served his ends - nothing was done wantonly or simply 'because', and his calm words often belied his true brutality that meant he spoke and ordered horrific acts and punishments in a relaxed, uncaring manner.

Hobbies & Pets

As with much information about his personal life, he is not known to have had any hobbies - but as far as pets are concerned, there is one well-known pet he was known to possess, known only because of his habit of feeding those who displeased him to it: His colossal Giant Anaconda Snake named "Tyrant" was infamous for its cruelty and penchant for live prey, but also for its absolute obedience and fealty to its master...such that, upon Cao Lu's death, the beast was said to go on a rampage that slew a half dozen of the strongest warriors of the era such that its ultimate fate is unknown, whether it perished in its rampage or escaped into the wild.

Relationships

Cao Lu

Patron (Important)

Towards Kyra Aenai

3
0

Honest


Kyra Aenai

Bodyguard (Vital)

Towards Cao Lu

3
-3

Honest


History

As the singular man who was responsible for allowing Kyra Aenai and her High Lamia to gain a foothold on Zheng-Kitar, Cao Lu's relationship to the God-Queen of the High Lamia is something of an unknown element - though she was known to be his right hand woman and chief bodyguard, their working relationship is mostly unknown.   They were believed to be quite friendly, and from the few times she has spoken of him, Kyra Aenai speak of him as a twisted man, but one who taught her valuable lessons about the world and about Zheng-Kitar...and, if she is to be believed, about the nature of life and one's path in it.   At the least, the two were close enough that, after his death, Kyra took over his seat and ruled his empire in his place for centuries after his death...only disbanding it when she defeated a group of heroes sent to end her reign of cruelty and had a change of heart after devouring and digesting them, and seeing their years of memories and thoughts.

Wealth & Financial state

Though many have made assumptions about the state of Cao Lu's wealth, his own secrecy about the state of his wealth and lack of information about his vaults or coffers and the like means that any records of his wealth is purely speculation - as he was never known to write an autobiography and tyrannically clamped down on any who discovered information about his personal life, all that can be assumed is that he was likely ludicrously wealthy.   So much so in fact, that after thousands of years and one (probably) fictitious book written about "The Vault of Scales" - supposed extradimensional vault home to the sum total of all the wealth Cao Lu collected from his continent-spanning empire - rumors about his wealth persist into the modern day as the source of inspiration and wonder for many adventurers, treasure hunters, archeologists, and more who seek to uncover the wealth of the man who was likely, if rumors are to be believed, was likely wealthier than any figure known in the world today...even the likes of Amenmeses Ra-sen Shakanasa I and Dahmunara Worldthrone.   Most famous account that served as a testament to the state of his wealth come from anecdotes about the story of how Adelaide the Bold ascended to sainthood, which spoke of how she challenged and beat the legendary Immortal Emperor in a game, she was said to claim an item from his 'vaults' that was so powerful it catapulted her into sainthood while she yet lived - a story which speaks volumes, even if it was a secondary account, of just how ludicrously wealthy Cao Lu might have been.
He does not motivate you through inspiring speeches nor heroic actions - his words are like oil, slithering into your ears and into your soul, finding out your darkest secrets, bringing out your deepest and most basic fears and insecurities and using them against you.   You will not want to do as he says, but will anyway - sometimes without even realizing it; His court is a den of evil and he the tyrant who sits upon a throne of secrets and lies. None can truly emerge from an audience with him unscathed; dealing with him, is itself, a fallacy - one that blackens the soul and twists the mind.
— Cao Lu's Court Vizier
Alignment
Air(Primary), Void(Secondary)
Species
Ethnicity
Honorary & Occupational Titles
The Immortal Emperor, The Sixfold Saint, The Alabaster Dahmu, The Conquerer, The Snaketongue Tyrant, The Flawless One, He of Reeds of White
Life
1826 ASK 2072 ASK 246 years old
Circumstances of Birth
The circumstances of his birth have been lost to the annals of time.
Circumstances of Death
Though he endured dozens of attempts on his life and lived far in excess of his normal lifespan, he died peacefully in his sleep due to extreme old age, unmatched and unbeaten.
Birthplace
The place of his birth is no longer known, and presumed to be in a country or region that has long since fallen and/or changed names.
Spouses
Siblings
Children
Current Residence
His body has been entombed in the ruined capital of Ssarizzax, deep in the Yudao Rainforest.
Pronouns
He/Him
Gender
Male
Eyes
Hazel
Hair
Medium-Length, Wispy, White
Skin Tone/Pigmentation
Tanned
Height
6.3ft (1.90m)
Weight
196lbs (88.9kg)
Quotes & Catchphrases
I need no reason. I need no justification. I am heaven and earth - the only justification I need is that I am.
 
By my grace alone you live, and by my will alone you shall die; Rejoice though, pauper - I will drag you into greatness, alongside the rest of this wretched world.

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