Genshin Impact 3.4: Guizhong and her place in Liyue's history
She's been mentioned many times before in the lore, but the Lantern Rite revealed much more
Genshin Impact version 3.4 brought players back to Liyue to welcome the new year with the third iteration of the beloved Lantern Rite event.
But while the event brought back the usual festivities, it also gave players something quite unexpected: massive lore bombs.
Specifically, lore bombs about Guizhong, a god that was previously mysterious to players despite being so ingrained into the history of Liyue.
We all know who Guizhong is, but much about her was learnt through texts and in-game lore when exploring Liyue. But even before HoYoverse finally put a face to this mysterious figure, her importance to the history of Liyue and its Adepti guardians was already very apparent.
Before Liyue Harbor, there was the Guili Assembly
Guizhong was a wise but weak god who resided within ancient Liyue, which was yet to be ruled by the current Geo Archon. Instead, various gods had established dominions all over Liyue.
Guizhong sought to form an alliance with Morax, who was more powerful than she was, and had a far different personality to the Zhongli we know today. He was cold-hearted and cruel, with legends and stories remarking his capability as a warrior who sought endless slaughter.
There was no formal contract between these two gods, surprising because Morax is the God of Contracts, but Guizhong, confident to gain his trust, gifted him a stone dumbbell (now known as the 5-star weapon Memory of Dust) as a symbol of their pledge upon meeting on a field of Glaze Lilies.
Together, they would create a prosperous civilisation in Guili Plains known as the Guili Assembly, dubbing the area as the "Plains of The Returning and The Departing".
The name of this realm was a portmanteau of the names of its two patron gods, Guizhong and Zhongli, indicating how close the pair was to each other and their people.
Guizhong favoured Glaze Lilies deeply, and would bless Guili Plains with abundant fields of this flower. She taught her people agriculture and guided them with her wisdom. With her talent for machines and inventions, she created the Guizhong Ballista to aid them in their protection.
The Guizhong Ballista, which still exists today, has been recently used by Ningguang and the Liyue Qixing to protect Liyue Harbor against Osial as well as his wife Beisht during the climax of the Liyue Archon Quest and last year's Lantern Rite, respectively.
Her form revealed
Guizhong’s formal introduction in this year's Lantern Rite is a tale filled with tenderness, grief, and regret.
Cloud Retainer recalls Guizhong as a kind and loving god who sought to protect her people with her wisdom, and was the driving force to the creation of the bonds the Adepti have now. She also asserts, albeit begrudgingly, Guizhong’s superior capability in invention.
Cloud Retainer divulged that Guizhong had a great interest in the Ruin Machines from Khaenri'ah, often taking these dangerous machines to her abode to take them apart and study them (with her form looking very similar to the Fatui Harbinger Sandrone, who also goes around with what seems to be a modified Ruin Guard, some fans have started speculating about a link).
Guizhong also became entranced with the concept of music, and although knowing nothing could compare to the melody created by human composers, sought to create a mechanical Bell that could play simple, yet fine melodies.
However, Streetward Rambler and Guizhong would have disagreements regarding music and the creation of the Bell, as the former believed that the soul of music could not be replicated by machinery.
Through their numerous spats regarding the Bell, Cloud Retainer would have Rex Lapis intercede, confiscating the Bell and designating it only for Ceremonial use. This would become the Cleansing Bell we end up using during the Rite of Parting.
After that, however, Streetward Rambler and Guizhong developed a strong bond over their mutual love for music, mechanics, and the mortal realm, often retreating to the mountains to talk about these pursuits.
Cloud Retainer tells us that she regrets not developing a stronger bond with Guizhong, as the prosperous times would soon end with the imminent Archon War, where Guizhong ended up losing her life in a field of Glaze Lilies which she had so dearly loved.
How Guizhong's death affected Liyue and the Adepti
It is not known how Guizhong died exactly, but a Sumeru Scholar named Soraya, who has studied the history of Guili Plains, theorised that it would be foolish for a lone god to wage war against both Guizhong and Morax, who together would have been the most powerful gods at the time.
The Archaic Petra artifact lore, which speaks of Morax's history, also pointed out that the Lord of Geo had killed someone who was close to him who had turned into his "foe" as part of a contract.
We all know that "Corruption" or "Erosion" could turn people against each other, the biggest example being the great Earth Dragon Azhdaha, who was sealed by Morax underground after losing his mind and becoming his "foe".
It's possible that this "Corruption", which has been a big factor in the creation of malevolent factors in Teyvat, could have played a large role in Guizhong's demise.
Soraya mentions that the battle that took Guizhong's life choked the heavens with "Black Dust" as "a thousand rocks splintered". The black colour of the dust, which was Guizhong's element, could be a sign of her corruption, as when she died, she crumbled into a "fine dust" without any dark colouring.
This could also be visible in the cut scene from this year's Lantern Rite, where Guizhong's petrified form was seen crumbling into white dust, as the Yakshas stationed above her seemed to be sealing some sort of black mass — we could assume it to be Guizhong's corruption.
With that, we can surmise that Guizhong was somehow corrupted, resulting in her fighting Rex Lapis and unfortunately dying in the process.
In this year's Lantern Rite 'Exquisite Night Chimes' event quest Epilogue, 'Between Facades and Familiar Faces', Zhongli himself lent credence to this theory.
Speaking to the Traveler and Xiao after the dinner party hosted by Hu Tao ended, the Geo Archon said he had "a pleasant chat about the past and present" with Soraya and agreed with much of her research's findings.
"From the evidence she found and the conclusions she made, her area of research is already very close to the truth," said Zhongli.
Nevertheless, the death of Guizhong marked a dark time for the Adepti and Rex Lapis, the loss being too tremendous to bear.
With Guizhong dead and the Guili Plains destroyed, Rex Lapis moved the survivors of Guizhong’s people to Liyue Harbor, creating the port city we now know today.
He later on renounced his duty as Archon to finally honour Guizhong’s sentiment on humanity — that they are fully capable of leading themselves into prosperous times even without the protection of a god
Streetward Rambler, who would request to keep the Cleansing Bell on her person to remember Guizhong by, also eventually relinquished her Adeptal form, instead taking up the appearance of an old lady to remind herself that even Adepti would one day also face their demise.
But before doing so, Streetward Rambler took it upon herself to compose and perfect a tune that she would dedicate to Guizhong.
This song, which she had ever only played once and never again, was the same song that Dvorak’s ancestor would hear before falling into the water. It is then that we finally confirm that it was Streetward Rambler who had saved his ancestor all those years ago.
And as to why the song she dedicated to Guizhong was only heard once, this is what she had to say to Cloud Retainer:
“Though the strings that played that melody survives, the one who inspired it is gone. Tell me, Cloud Retainer…when the one attuned to my soul is no longer here, who else could hope to understand this tune?”
Lantern Rite is supposed to be a time of happiness and celebration, but Guizhong's bittersweet tale serves as a reminder for us to always look back on the past — no matter how much it may hurt — so we can look forward to the future.
Genshin Impact is currently in version 3.4, with the first half featuring the debut of Alhaitham and another rerun for Xiao. The second half will then feature reruns for both Hu Tao and Yelan.
If you're still torn between pulling for Alhaitham or Xiao, or thinking of waiting for Hu Tao and Yelan instead, we've got you covered.
After version 3.4 comes version 3.5, which will feature the debuts of Dehya and Mika. Genshin Impact version 3.5 is expected to be released in late February.
This year’s Lantern Rite however, gave us a glimpse into the past — and the impact Guizhong had left behind, not only to the people of Liyue, but to those who loved her and considered her a friend.
Yan Ku is a full-time dog parent, part-time (gacha) gamer, and part-time writer.
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