A younger woman, of obviously Asian descent, Mai’s limp, straight black hair and round, moon-like face are almost utterly unremarkable, noticeable only in comparison to the multi-racial sea around her.
Her clothing, too, is often unremarkable, the common plain shirt and jeans worn by so many other Americans, though she tends towards vivid, even iridescent colors in her dress. What does stand out, from time to time, however, is the pendant that hands from her neck at all times, only occasionally visible over clothing. It is a six-pointed star of gold inside a circle of silver kanji, declaring to those few who can read the archaic script her rightful position as a shrine-attendant of Atsuta.
Born in Kyoto, Japan, to a family that had been attending to the Atsuta shrine there for many, many generations, Mei’s education as a child was somewhat unusual, containing as it did the many rituals and introductions to the occult that she would need to take up her later duty as a Shrine Maiden. Having shown a great aptitude for the knowledge, if not the practical portions, her Grandfather dipped deeper and deeper into the well of his own knowledge to teach her.
All of this, however, ceased shortly before her twenty-first birthday. In a fit of rebellion against her appointed position, she ran away with a man, a USAF officer who was reassigned to Washington, D.C. shortly after his wedding to Mei.
D.C, however, proved to be a frightful place for Mei, filled as it was with filled with spirits of greed, lust, and even terror, and it was one of these, she determined, that possessed a young thug one night and killed her beloved husband. She would see it through, using her proceeds from his insurance and pension, that D.C. was purged of these things. But she could not do it alone.
To that end, Mei has opened a shop in a small corner, not far from the National Park, where she sells trinkets to both tourists and locals. However, unlike the average ‘occult shop’, Mei’s trinkets, when held and used with belief, actually work. It is her hope, that by blanketing the city with enough of these, the containment of the spiritual menace can begin, and that later, she can find heroes to deal with the worst pockets of evil.
A small shrine to the local gods of politics and people is maintained at the back of her shop, and it is there that she recruits (relatively) friendly spirits to grant her trinkets power.
Because of the combination of her training and the vast gulf between her and her homeland, Mei can appeal to the spirits of this place, but she is unable to use any of the magic items they may bless for her herself. This is America, the world's melting pot, and no mere form of ritual or tongue may keep one from communing with it's great spirit, yet Mei has committed the one sin that the Great Spirit of America cannot tolerate: She has held herself apart. To take pride in her heritage, to remember it, to give it to the Great Spirit, this is among the greatest honors she can pay to her husband's home. But there is that part of her that wants to flee back to Kyoto, to hide in the ancient and comfortable shrine of her forefathers, and to her, that far away place and its distant, quiet spirits are home, not this place and its boiling, bubbling chaos. So long as she believes herself a foreigner in a foreign land, so shall she be. She may interpret for and advise those spirits that would speak to her, and even defend herself, to some degree. Yet, until she truly makes this place her home, those spirits will not grant her power, not the way the spirits of her homeland would. They will, at most, allow her to become a conduit through which those who are truly devoted to their home, permitting her to create talismans of occult power, but not to use them; rather, she must seek out those who can. This can be a difficult proposition.
Mei may serve as a source of occult knowledge and spiritual guidance to the PCs, but it is likely that she will have tasks for them to do in return for that knowledge…