A sorceress of ancient China, Zi Yuan had been sought by the Emperor Han to bring him immortality, though she, in vengeance for taking her lover's life, cursed the Emperor and his armies. Centuries after they had been cursed, Zi Yuan had remained immortal and was to give her own immortality to defeat that of the Emperor's
In ancient China, the Emperor Han had intended, after conquering much of Asia, to become immortal so as to live out his success forever, and so sought the help of a sorceress known as Zi Yuan to help him become immortal, as she had been known to possess the means of becoming immortal. Han sent out his most trusted general, Ming Guo, to find the sorceress; after having found the sorceress, Ming returned to the Emperor with Zi Yuan, where she explained to the Emperor that she did not possess the secret to immortality, but she did know where to find it.
The Emperor, upon hearing this, ordered General Ming to ensure that no man would touch her. With that, the sorceress and general left for the monastery of Turfan, where was housed an ancient library that contained the Oracle Bones, the ancient texts that contained the spells for immortality.
While in Turfan, the two defied the Emperor's command that no man could touch the sorceress. As they were in Turfan, however, they were spied on, neither knowing of this until they returned to the Emperor's palace, where the Emperor had thanked Zi Yuan for her services and offered her anything that she desired: Zi Yuan wished to live her life with General Ming. The Emperor agreed, and as she read the spells in Sanskrit, the Emperor could not understand them; the Emperor believed that the spell had worked and took Zi Yuan to see that outside his palace, Ming had been tied up, about to be dismembered by horses.
The Emperor stated that if Zu Yuan became his queen, the general would live. Zi Yuan told the Emperor that he would never keep his word, and the Emperor acknowledged it by ordering Ming to be killed. The emperor quietly drew out her dagger to stab Zi Yuan, and after a brief tussle stabbed her in the side with it. As Zi Yuan staggered away, the Emperor saw that mud was coming from his eyes as if it were tears: Zi Yuan revealed that she had cursed the Emperor Han and his armies as she escaped him with the Oracle Bones in hand: the Emperor began to become mud which was quickly fired: outside, the armies, too, were becoming mud, and Zi Yuan mounted her horse and quickly escaped.
Near death, Zi Yuan was saved by the Yetis, giant, white-furred creatures, who brought her to the Pool of Eternal Life in Shangri-La. Zi Yuan became immortal and gave birth to Ming's daughter, a baby girl who she named Lin, and who shared immortality with her mother.
The Emperor Revived
2,000 years later, a young archaeologist named Alexander O'Connell led an excavation to find the Dragon Emperor and his armies; Alex's parents, eminent archaeologists Rick and Evelyn O'Connell, under threats of death from a para-militant group, restored the Emperor to life, albeit as a terracotta mummy. To stop him, Alex's parents teamed up together with their son, Evelyn's brother Jonathan and Lin, who had been trying to assassinate Alex so that he would not come close to the Emperor's remains and so bring him back to life.
The group reached the frozen regions of Tibet and battled the para-military troops in an ancient monastery; Rick attempted to end the Emperor's ascent to power by stabbing him but was mortally wounded himself. In a desperate bid to heal his father, Alex follows Lin, who leads the group to the cave where she and her mother resided, which housed as well the Pool of Eternal Life. Alex ran up to the Pool, determined to save his father's life, but Zi Yuan spotted him and at first thought him an attacker, attacking him with a sword but was stopped by her daughter, whom she was happily reunited with at that moment. Lin requested to her mother that she help Rick survive; Zi Yuan agreed and used the power of the Pool's waters to heal Rick. At that moment the Emperor, a burnt corpse within his terracotta encasing, arrived and immersed himself in the Pool's waters, returning to full immortal health as a three-headed dragon. To Zi Yuan's shock, the Emperor abducted Lin in his dragon form and flew off with her, flying off with his militant leader, General Yang, who mounted the dragon. After her daughter's abduction, Zi Yuan agreed to join the O'Connells in defeating the Emperor.
Zi Yuan's Summons
The group caught up with the Emperor as he had already brought back to life his terracotta armies; outnumbered by far, Zi Yuan read from the archaic text, the Oracle Bones to revive an army of her own, consisting of every foe and slave of the Emperor that had died in battle and was entombed within the Great Wall; among them was Zi Yuan's lover and Lin's father, the resurrected General Ming Guo, who had come back in a skeletal form with enough strength to lead the deceased warriors.
During the ensuing battle, Zi Yuan decided to engage the Emperor in a sword-fight herself, in order to destroy him and end his armies' wicked campaign. During the fight, however, Zi Yuan was wounded, slashed in the belly by the Emperor.
At that point, she forced the knife into her stomach to retrieve the cursed dagger, which was stolen by the Emperor at Shangri-La. Near death, she withdrew the dagger from her abdomen and gave it to Lin, her last words being that she was to kill the emperor. With that, Zi Yuan passed away in Lin's arms.
Personality and Traits
In ancient times, Zi Yuan was known to be seclusive and mysterious. Along with her furtive nature, Zi Yuan was highly reserved, keeping to herself, this changing after she met General Ming, who she fell for in time. Though Zi Yuan was skilled in magic and sorcery, she would not misuse her skills, making right her assistance to the Emperor by casting a malediction on him and his armies. Living into the modern age, Zi Yuan grew more seclusive and more wary of those that sought out what the Emperor once sought, a trait which she passed on to her daughter Lin.
As an immortal, Zi Yuan retained her looks through the centuries, aging very little. Zi Yuan, in the modern era, wore clothes typical of the ancient times from which she hailed, consisting of ornate, draping blue-and-gold robes. Zi Yuan would commonly put her hair in a ponytail or bun.
Powers & Abilities
Zi Yuan was shown to be a powerful and knowledgeable witch, one who was renowned during ancient times for knowing the secrets of immortality. Examples of abilities she possessed were:
- Cursing: Zi Yuan had the ability to cast magical enchantments or spells designed to cause negative effects to occur. When Han betrayed her, she cursed him and his army - first encasing them in mud, and then solidifying them into stone by fire.
- Immortality: Due to her drinking from the Pool of Eternal Life, Zi Yuan possessed an infinite lifespan, and retained the appearance of a middle-aged woman despite having lived for over two thousand years. An additional ability she derived from her immortality is:
- Regenerative Healing Factor: Zi Yuan had the ability to heal rapidly from any physical injury - she did not bleed when injured.
- Telekinesis: Zi Yuan had the ability to move objects with her mind, as demonstrated by how she levitated the Oracle Bones into the air.
- Resurrection: Zi Yuan had the ability to bring the deceased back to life, which she accessed through sacrificing her and her daughter's immortality, and invoking holy spirits - she resurrected Han's slaves to combat his army.
- Knowledge of the Craft: Zi Yuan possessed an extensive knowledge of magic and the supernatural, as demonstrated by her certainty that the secret to immortality could be found within the ancient library of the Monastery of Turfan.
- Fluency in Sanskrit: Zi Yuan was fluent in Sanskrit, being able to place a curse on Han and his army through this language.
- The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (First appearance)
Behind the Scenes
Zi Yuan was portrayed by actress Michelle Yeoh.