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Main StoryEdit

(The initial scene. We hear a voice on the black screen.)

Voice: Aragami...

Aragami: ...What is this? Where am I?

Voice: Aragami...

Aragami: Who’s there?

Voice: Come to me... Follow my voice...

(We see a vague flashback in which a few ninjas hold a force field around something and one of these ninjas is the protagonist. Flashback interrupts and our protagonist becoming a ghost-ninja aragami. He looks around and tests his new body.)

Chapter I: ARAGAMIEdit

Voice: Come here...

(Aragami approaches the small altar next to which materializes a girl with white hair. We see her name - Yamiko.)

Yamiko: It worked! The ritual worked! A real aragami... I really did it!

Aragami:

Yamiko: My name is Yamiko. I’m the one who invoked you. What is our name? How do you feel?

Aragami:

Yamiko: I guess an aragami really is a blank slate...

Aragami: Ara... gami?

Yamiko: Sorry, am I going too fast? You are an aragami, a vengeful spirit summoned through an ancient ritual. I wasn’t sure it would work...

Aragami: ...Vengeful?

Yamiko: Yes. A clan called Kaiho, they... they killed my people. They took our land. They have destroyed everything. We lost the war and they razed it all.

Aragami: Kaiho...

Yamiko: I’m one of the few who survived their attacks. They imprisoned me far away in the city’s temple. What you’re looking at now is just a projection. I don’t know how long they’ll keep me for, or if they’ll let me live... You are my only hope, Aragami.

Aragami: Right... What am I supposed to do?

Yamiko: For starters, you won’t get far without a weapon. Follow me.

(Aragami uses his powers to pass through the closed door.)

Yamiko: You can use Shadow essence? I didn’t know aragami could do that! If that’s the case then be careful in the light. It will drain your energy. Try to keep to the shadows. You can recover Shadow essence that way.

(Aragami approaches the river.)

Yamiko: Do you think your powers could help us here?

(He teleports to the other side.)

Yamiko: Nice! Um... What about this?

(He climbs onto the wall.)

Yamiko: Perfect! Come. There’s something here for you.

(Aragami jumps into a small room, where he finds a small altar with a lot of snake heads and a sword on the pedestal. He takes the sword, does some training movements and puts it in its scabbard.)

Yamiko: Yes, good. This will help.

(Aragami goes on until he runs into one of the soldiers. We see the name on the screen - that’s the soldier Kaiho, the Warriors of the Light.)

Yamiko: Watch out, it’s one of them! Keep still.

(Aragami quietly kills a soldier and goes on.)

Yamiko: Be careful. Kaiho soldiers are Light adepts. Their swords are imbued with Light essence. Don’t even think about confronting them directly.

(Aragami kills all the soldiers and leaves the level. In the next location, he finds a small altar with a nine-tailed fox. He is overwhelmed by visions once again, from which we understand that ninjas from the previous memory captivated a similar creature.)

Aragami: This again... Yamiko? I saw something. A vision.

Yamiko: I... I saw it too. The ritual must have created some kind of connection between us.

Aragami: And I had another when I woke up. Just before I met you. What does it mean?

Yamiko: Who knows. There aren’t many writings about the ritual I used to invoke you. Hopefully we’ll find out soon.

Aragami:

Yamiko: Let’s get moving. Can’t have you evaporating at dawn.

Aragami: Okay — wait, what?

Yamiko: Oh! Didn’t I tell you? Your body is made of shadows. If a ray of sunlight touches it...

Aragami: At this point I’m just glad you told me at all.

Yamiko: Hehe... I’m sorry... Look, Aragami! There’s a scroll the statue. Let’s take a look.

(Aragami takes the scroll, receives 1 skill point and now can upgrade any skill in his arsenal.)

Yamiko: You absorbed its aura? Amazing... Whatever it seems to have made you stronger. Let’s keep an eye out for more.

(Aragami passes through the locked door.)

Yamiko: If you are out of Shadow essence just stay in the shadows for a few seconds.

(Aragami passes through another locked door.)

Yamiko: Try to create shadows and then leap to them — you can probably climb anything doing that!

Chapter II: THE CALL OF THE SHADOWSEdit

(Aragami jumps off the ledge and sees a temple nearby.)

Yamiko: See that temple? That’s where we’re headed.

Aragami: Why?

Yamiko: I heard they’re keeping an animal there that may be able to help us.

Aragami: An animal?

Yamiko: Yes. Apparently it has something to do with magic they used to entrap me. You have to find it, Aragami. By the way, is it okay if I call you Aragami?

Aragami: ...I suppose.

(He goes further, kill the guards and arrives at the entrance to the temple.)

Yamiko: Up here, Aragami.

(Entering the temple Aragami hears the conversation of the guards.)

Kaiho Soldier: Guard a talisman, guard a bird, guard this door, guard that door... Guard, guard, guard. When will we see some action?

Kaiho Soldier: Those are Captain Hikaru’s orders. I don’t like it any more than you do.

Kaiho Soldier: I don’t get why he’s worrying so much about a caged bird, that’s all. Tempted to go have a look.

Kaiho Soldier: Just... don’t. The captain will come the second you leave your post. You know it. You don’t want to see him angry.

Kaiho Soldier: Have you ever see him angry?

Kaiho Soldier: I was there when that snake Hyo gathered his men and ambushed Captain Yuki right when he was most vulnerable. When Captain Hikaru saw Captain Yuki dead... You’d understand if you saw that.

Kaiho Soldier:

Kaiho Soldier: But more importantly, it was me who trapped that damn bird. Don’t touch it! Okay, okay, I’ll drop it, I’ll drop it.

(Aragami finds a room with a bird cage.)

Yamiko: Finally! Let’s free it and move on!

(When he touches the cage, he is visited again by the vision of a past life - a bird floating in the sky -- He opens the cage and releases the bird sitting there. It flies out and Aragami follows it.)

Yamiko: Huh! Good timing. I’ll try to stop it.

(Aragami follows the bird until he finds several watchtowers. Having climbed one of them, the hero falls under the floor, and he has another vision. We see the world with his eyes in the first person. There is a war raging around. The hero runs into an attack with an armed sword of the enemy. Suddenly this vision is replaced by another one where we see the same village in peacetime. Returning to the present, Aragami question the spirit of Yamiko.)

Aragami: These visions... What do they mean?

Yamiko: I don’t know.

Aragami: It felt like I was there... I think I was using... Is it Light essence?

Yamiko: If you already use Shadow essence, you can’t be a Light adept too. And you were born this evening, remember?

Aragami: But if I’m not seeing memories... Then what am I seeing? Whose visions are these?

Yamiko: I’m sorry. I don’t know... Maybe we can figure it out on the way to the city.

Aragami: Right. And how can the raven help us?

Yamiko: He has been keeping an eye on Kaiho’s activities. He should be able to lead us to the talismans.

Aragami: Talismans?

Yamiko: The magic seal that the Kaiho used to imprison me takes its power from six talismans. We need them all to break it.

Aragami: So we have to get all of them before rescuing you?

Yamiko: Yes. And thanks to this raven, it won’t take all night to find them. Hopefully.

Aragami: Yamiko. Why did they keep this raven locked up?

Yamiko: Maybe they didn’t want it falling into the wrong hands... like ours.

Aragami: Why didn’t they just...

Yamiko: Kill it? Who knows. But it’s a relief they didn’t.

Aragami: Indeed…

(He goes on killing Kaiho soldiers until he stumbles into a small passage in the rocks.)

Yamiko: Look! I found a path through the mountain.

(Using his teleportation ability, the Aragami crosses the passageway jumping over the rubble of rocks and, walking a little ahead, he finds the village. Having ruthlessly slaughtered the Kaiho soldiers, Aragami enter a cemetery, where they see two guards talking to each other).

Chapter III: CHIMES OF THE PASTEdit

Yamiko: Hey, listen! Aragami! We’re reaching the cemetery’s entrance. Or the exit, as the case may be... Kurosu says the first talisman is here. There are five left after this.

Aragami: Kurosu?

Yamiko: The raven. I’ve decided to call him ‘Kurosu’. Suits him, right?

Aragami: Sure.

(He sneak to the second area of the cementry.)

Aragami: …It doesn't feel right...

Yamiko: What was that?

Aragami: Nothing...

Kaiho Soldier: How long has it been since we got here?

Kaiho Soldier: I don’t even want to know. Feels like decades. I bet my family don’t even remember what I look like.

Kaiho Soldier: If you have people waiting back home… Why didn’t you go back after the war?

Kaiho Soldier: When the Nisshoku empire wiped the Light brotherhoods off the map, we came back stronger. But can’t you see this peace is tenuous? One slip and the conflict could begin again. We can’t let that happen.

Kaiho Soldier: If only we all had your determination...

Kaiho Soldier: I wonder what all these fox statues mean.

Kaiho Soldier: Isn’t the fox the symbol of Kyuryu’s royal family?

Kaiho Soldier: Maybe you’re right. That means this is the royal crypt... We could be standing on the graves of Nisshoku’s leaders, the ones responsible for the deaths of thousands!

Kaiho Soldier: Probably. What are you thinking?

Kaiho Soldier: I’m thinking I better pick a grave to take a dump on.

Kaiho Soldier: Ha!

Kaiho Soldier: How dare they...

(After sneaking into the far side of the cemetery Aragami finds a small altar.)

Yamiko: So this is where they put it…

(There are bells on the altar. Aragami picks them up and sees the next vision. Little Yamiko gets these bells as a gift. After that, two people break into her house and kill her family. Yamiko manages to escape from her home.)

Aragami: This again... It felt different this time.

Yamiko: Definitely different… That was my childhood.

Aragami: Your childhood?

Yamiko: I didn’t expect this. It must be another side effect of the ritual.

Aragami: So that girl... it was you?

Yamiko: Yes… Those bells were my father’s. You just watched him and my mother being murdered by Light adepts.

Aragami: Light adepts? From the Kaiho army?

Yamiko: No… This was before Kaiho. For eons these lands have been assaulted by Light brotherhoods. Taiharo, Saigosen, Kaiho... one after another. We always managed to hold them back… until the day Kaiho came. In the end they’re all the same. Merciless murderers. Callous killers of young and old alike.

Aragami: …Yamiko?

Yamiko: Ah… I’m sorry. This shrine was built to honor my mother and father, whose bodies were never found. Those men, those killers, didn’t leave a shred of them behind. Nothing but these bells.

Aragami: That memory… I felt the fear… the pain… I’m sorry for your loss, Yamiko.

Yamiko: Thank you, Aragami… We have to press on. Try wearing the bells like a bangle. You might find them useful.

Aragami: Right. But I’ll give them back when I find you.

Yamiko: Thank you!

(Aragami fastens the bells to his armband.)

Yamiko: Careful, someone’s coming! This might be a good opportunity. Use the bells to draw that guard’s attention. Perhaps we can slip past.

(Aragami uses the bells.)

Kaiho Soldier: What was that?

(While the guard responds to the sound, Aragami slips past him.)

Yamiko: We got the talisman! Let’s go back and find the trail to the forest.

(Aragami gets out of the cemetery, killing the soldiers guarding it.)

Yamiko: I’ve always liked foxes. My mother used to sing a song about them when I was a child.

Yamiko: Kurosu says they keep the next talisman in a cave deep in the forest... Be careful. I’ve heard many ghost stories about these woods.

Aragami: Wonderful…

Chapter IV: THE SHADED WOODSEdit

Yamiko: They blocked the path… That barrier must be linked to an orb of Light essence. I’m sure we’ll be able to get through if you destroy it.

(Aragami enters a small settlement.)

Yamiko: This place is familiar…

Kaiho Soldier: Have you ever seen that thing… uh… the talisman?

Kaiho Soldier: No. Don’t much care to.

Kaiho Soldier: How come?

Kaiho Soldier: I heard the general and captains used some rare magic to create them. The same magic that’s affecting their health, even now... Gives me chills just thinking about it.

Kaiho Soldier: Aren’t you even a little curious, though?

Kaiho Soldier: You heard what happened to Captain Yuki, right? He was killed because the magic made him vulnerable. Nobody wants to be near those things.

Kaiho Soldier: Wow… I still wonder what it looks like, though.

(Having searched Aragami settlement he finds a small cave, in which, apparently, someone was hiding - there are logs, candles and straw mats around. There, he finds a doll. When he picks up the doll, he sees a flash of past event as little Yamiko was hiding in a cave. It's raining heavily outside.)

Yamiko: That… That’s my precious doll. The only memento I have of my mother. She made it for me. It’s an effigy of an ancient heroine from her clan, the Shirokitsu. It inspired me to keep going, no matter what. Even through all the years I spent in this place.

Aragami: You... lived here?

Yamiko: Unfortunately. After the attack I was too afraid to go back to town. They might have been waiting for me. I had nowhere else to go... I thought I’d never trust anyone ever again. …Handle the doll with care, will you?

Aragami: I will. Yamiko...

Yamiko: Yes?

Aragami: These talismans… Why are they being guarded so carefully? You said Kaiho used them to imprison you – I’ve seen tens of guards so far and we have just two talismans. Why are they throwing men at this?

Yamiko: You see… I was very close to the Empress. I was with her when the Kaiho attacked. She’s strong – many considered her a goddess because of her immense power.

Aragami: A goddess…

Yamiko: Yes. Remember when I said there are others imprisoned here with me? The Empress herself is one of them. Kaiho underestimated her when they attacked. Their leaders had to use this filthy talisman magic to seal the temple… And now they’re guarding the whole place, afraid someone might release her. Even though they couldn’t destroy the Empress back then, they’ve been looking for ways to do so ever since they captured her. This is just one of the reasons we need to hurry.

Aragami: You’re right. We’ve wasted enough time already.

(He's taking the doll with him.)

Yamiko: There’s a secret passage back here... I always made sure to have an escape route. Over here, follow me. I remember this place being far bigger…

(The cave is starting to fall apart. Aragami manages to get out thanks to his teleportation abilities.)

Yamiko: Well... that was close. I suppose you weigh more than I did when I was a kid...

Kaiho Soldier: Do you know how these orbs work?

Kaiho Soldier: I heard something about it once… Captain Yuki was the one that created them.

Kaiho Soldier: Really? How do they create Light essence like that?

Kaiho Soldier: Create? The orbs don’t create it. They’re made of a rare mineral that absorbs Light essence during the day. During the night that essence produces the glow you see.

Kaiho Soldier: A mineral? I thought they were just... magic crystal balls or something.

Kaiho Soldier: This is basic stuff, man. It’s the same mineral our weapons are made of. Even those with barely any Light experience can command it with ease.

Kaiho Soldier: I see… Wait, what? My sword?

Kaiho Soldier: Please swap my shift, Captain Hikaru...

(Aragami manages to get to the far side of the guardpost.)

Yamiko: Aragami, news from Kurosu. We’re almost at Sanzen Kozui Lake where the next talisman is. They say that long ago, this lands’ farmers came here to pray to the gods for rain… Kaiho certainly love desecrating sacred places.

Aragami: Where was Kurosu? I didn’t see him.

Yamiko: In this form I have a telepathic bond with him. Don’t you wonder how my apparition speaks to you without any lungs?

Aragami: …Point taken.

(Aragami kills the soldiers at a guard post and climbs into the big castle.)

Kaiho Soldier: …That’s when this land’s people left and travelled to Kyuryu. Before that, they worshipped a god of Water. I think its name was…

Kaiho Soldier: Who cares? The only god I’m interested in is the Shadow Empress... They say she’s beautiful.

Kaiho Soldier: Are you insane? Don’t you know why we’re doing all this? She’s a monster. She killed thousands. Even our leaders couldn’t defeat her. They only just managed to trap her.

Kaiho Soldier: What does that have to do with beauty? Maybe if I ask Captain Hikaru I can get my post swapped and go see the temple. Maybe I’ll see her there…

Kaiho Soldier: There’s something wrong with you.

Chapter V: THE GREAT LAKEEdit

(Aragami finds a glass sphere maintaining a protective field that stands in the way of our hero.)

Yamiko: They placed it on the lake’s torii… A good spot, I’ll give them that. We’ll need to take a little detour. Let’s go.

Aragami: Wait a second, Yamiko.

Yamiko: Hm?

Aragami: I’ve been thinking… What will happen after I rescue you?

Yamiko: When you free me, the Empress will be free too. She’ll destroy their general in no time, you can count on that. These barbarians aren’t very smart. They need someone to tell them what to do all the time. Without the Kaiho general, the tides will turn for our people at last.

Aragami: No, I meant… what will happen to me?

Yamiko: Oh…

Aragami: You summoned me to rescue you and your people, but what happens once I finish the task? Will I just… vanish?

Yamiko: To be honest… I never thought about it. The ancient texts I have read didn’t mention your fate, except that the touch of sunlight releases an aragami from the corporeal realm. Don’t worry, the legends didn’t say anything bad will happen. I’ll figure something out. I did invoke you after all, right?

Aragami: Right. Sorry.

Yamiko: It will be okay, I promise. I need you focused, Aragami. The fate of my people depends on it.

Aragami: I am.

(He destroys the sphere and goes out to the lake. The whole lake is built up with wooden pathways, on which many guards walk. There are also many defensive spheres around that prevent advancement.)

Yamiko: You’ve done it! Great job, Aragami! Three more to go.

[Aragami destroys the last talisman.]

Yamiko: The only way out is the way we came in. Just keep going straight ahead.

[As he makes his way out, he hears two guards talking...]

Kaiho Soldier: You know this is the farthest they could possibly station us from the city?

Kaiho Soldier: I know. It’s great, right?

Kaiho Soldier: Great? I’ve never been this bored in my life. I joined Kaiho for action. To fight evil. Make some heads literally roll. What’s the point of walking in circles all day and all night?

Kaiho Soldier: Chopping off heads isn’t Kaiho’s main objective, you know? Whatever you say, this is the best place to guard. No one will come here. Ever.

Kaiho Soldier: Ugh.

[Near the exit, Aragami takes out a piece of wood wrapped in ribbon he picked up earlier. He sees a short vision like little Yamiko hiding in the grass, killing someone or something.]

Aragami: What did I just see?

Yamiko: How embarrassing...

Aragami: That was you hunting, right?

Yamiko: I was in this forest for years. I didn’t think I could return to society. I lived hand to mouth, hunting and rooting about for shelter… Nature is cruel, you know? Those years changed me for good.

Aragami: You’re tougher than you look.

Yamiko: What did you expect? A helpless princess in a castle? Well… I guess I am pretty helpless now... but just wait till you see me out of this damned prison!

Aragami: If you say so. By the way, isn’t it strange that all the talismans are… well, yours?

Yamiko: It is. And I can assure you that I don’t like it one bit. Especially those Kaiho brutes touching my things…

Aragami: ...

Yamiko: I’ll try not to think about it. According to Kurosu there’s only one more talisman to gather before we need to make for the city. I wonder where they put it…

[They're going out to a huge castle. From the height of the embankment on which they stand, it seems even bigger.]

Yamiko: Huh. I can’t think of any hiding places here. Where did they put that talisman?

Aragami: What’s that place?

Yamiko: What the… I don’t know what it is, but my people didn’t build it, that’s for sure.

Aragami: Then who did? The Kaiho?

Yamiko: Most likely. Building an ugly thing like that in front of my city… What were they thinking?

Aragami: But it’s huge… If this wasn’t here before the war, how long have you been in captivity for?

Yamiko: I wish I could say… The dirty magic they used has kept us all asleep for… a long time, I suppose.

Aragami: Well… Hopefully we’ll find out sooner rather than later.

Chapter VI: MAUSOLEUM OF THE FALLENEdit

[Aragami sneaks inside the castle, jumping on one of the walls.]

Yamiko: Kurosu says there’s a hidden entrance around here. I don’t like this place… Let’s make this quick, okay?

Aragami: As always.

Kaiho Soldier: So. You helped build it? The mausoleum?

Kaiho Soldier: Yep. A whole bunch of us worked on it a couple of years back. Wanted to pay our respects to the guys we lost in the war. We barely laid a brick compared to those Earth adepts, though. Those guys knew how to build. I remember looking at the Kaiho army back then. It was an impressive sight. All the adepts of different elements, different guilds all coming together. We were there when history was made, my friend. Let’s drink to that later.

[Once inside Aragami, he discovers that the castle is huge not only on the surface, but also underground.]

Yamiko: Aragami. Kurosu has just given me some news. He says the central room is just beyond those doors. In the middle there’s a door we have to get past, but it’s protected by a Light barrier. It takes its energy from four orbs. Each one is in a separate room honoring a different element: Fire, Water, Earth, and Wind. You have to destroy them all to reach the talisman.

Aragami: How refreshing…

Kaiho Soldier: Have you ever seen the Pillar of Light?

Kaiho Soldier: Of course. Every year I save up some leave and go see it with family. Not something you forget in a hurry. Like those that fell in the war... How does it work, anyway? That huge ray of Light… A mechanism in the central tower, I think. Apparently it takes weeks to charge it.

Kaiho Soldier: Wow… Must be dangerous in there while it’s active…

Kaiho Soldier: Indeed. That’s why the general decided to put… “it” inside there.

Kaiho Soldier: Right.

Yamiko: One down, three to go. Great. Halfway there. One left… Done! Now, to the door in the central room! At last! Grab it and let’s get out of here.

[Aragami picks up a medallion and sees a new vision. Little Yamiko with a piece of wood in her hands meets a young warrior with dark hair and a beard. He holds this very medallion and the doll in his hands.]

Yamiko: This… This is when I met Hyo for the first time. I lost my doll in the forest, and he found it. I tried to confront him, but he… He was one of Dakudaga’s leaders. Just like my father. My life changed again that day. I joined Dakudaga and Hyo became like a second father to me.

Aragami: Hyo…

Yamiko: What was that?

Aragami: Nevermind. He… He looked strong.

Yamiko: Oh, he was. Hyo faced the Kaiho invasion on the front lines. I heard he survived the war, but that he later faced two Kaiho captains at once… I don’t know if he made it.

Aragami: Yamiko…

Yamiko: Do you feel that?

[In the center of the room rises a pole emitting rays of light, destructive to the creature of shadows.]

Yamiko: It’s a trap! Up, Aragami! Keep climbing! There! Through that door! That was close!

[Aragami successfully avoided the trap. The pillar of light breaks out of the dome of the building.]

Yamiko: That light… We have to go. Everyone must have seen that!

[Aragami sees a huge stone block with text written on it. It seems to be a description of some historical event.]

Yamiko: Aragami, what are you...

Aragami: This is…

[He sees a vision again in which Hyo, along with an army of soldiers, attacks a creature with a pointy haircut. Our hero seems to be fighting alongside him. He epically charges his sword with his hand.]

Aragami: Argh… My head…

Yamiko: What is it?

Aragami: The war, Nisshoku and Kaiho, the way it all ended…

Yamiko: Aragami… What are you talking about?

Aragami: There must be a reason for all this. The visions are revealing something important about the war. But I can’t understand what...

Yamiko: The war?

Aragami: Yes, the… the war, that’s what I said, right? Those memories were about the war. About these lands! They must be from someone else’s past. Just like I see your memories, but these belong to… Who could…

Yamiko: I can make a guess.

Aragami: You can?

Yamiko: Kaiho’s general. The leader of the Kaiho army.

Aragami: Kaiho’s general...

Yamiko: I saw Hyo in that vision. He was on the front line. Just like I told you. It makes sense... You’re an aragami, after all.

Aragami: Yamiko?

Yamiko: You’re a being of revenge, Aragami. The moment I performed the summoning ritual, I prayed for someone who would seek vengeance for my people. Your spirit heard my call, so you were bound to me… but you were also bound to someone else. Kaiho’s general was the man who brought desolation upon us during the war. He ruined me, ruined my people. He is the target of my revenge… Our revenge.

Aragami: The target… So the memories are his? I am bound to him, too? Does this mean... my purpose isn’t to save you… but to kill him?

Yamiko: …I believe so.

[Behind the door, the soldiers are heard.]

Yamiko: They’re here. We need to go! Now!

[They leave.]

Chapter VII: KYURYUEdit

Yamiko: …Are you all right?

Aragami: That vision… The Kaiho general’s memory… it’s still echoing in my head.

Yamiko: We’re lucky we found that mural. It’s a shame Kaiho were on our tail. Kurosu. What is it? Aragami! Over there!

[They see a soldier with black hair and a beard. His name is Hikaru, the last captain of Kaiho. Two soldiers are approaching him.]

Kaiho Soldier: Captain Hikaru, sir! The talisman in the Mausoleum of the Fallen has been taken, sir! Awaiting orders.

Hikaru: Stay.

Kaiho Soldier: …Sir?

Hikaru: Stay here. That’s not the first talisman they have taken, and the only ones left are within the city walls. The intruder will be headed there.

Kaiho Soldier: But…

Hikaru: I thought we took care of all the stragglers… but at least one remains. And they know what they’re doing. She is getting stronger. I can feel it. Hold your ground. Stay alert. The enemy could be here soon. They’re making for the city.

Kaiho Soldier: Y-Yes, sir!!

Hikaru: I’ll return to my station within the walls. There’s no time to lose. Go!

Yamiko: That was Hikaru. Kaiho’s last living captain… Not too impressive, huh?

Aragami: He’s in the general’s memories… He might have some information we can use.

Yamiko: What are you thinking, Aragami?

Aragami: Nothing. Let’s go.

[He goes out to the cemetery and kills the soldiers guarding it.]

Kaiho Soldier: Can you believe it? This is where it all started…

Kaiho Soldier: Doesn’t exactly fill you with confidence. No wonder Captain Yuki was ambushed here. It’s as foggy as etched glass.

Kaiho Soldier: Soldiers! Keep your eyes open! The intruder must not enter the city!

Kaiho Soldier: …Even with my eyes peeled like potatoes I can hardly see my own nose…

[Aragami finds a grave next to which the sword from the vision is stuck.]

Aragami: What’s this?

Yamiko: Could it be…?

[In another vision, general Hyo, smiling nastily, goes to kill civilians. Some magician and our main character form a protective field to keep him from passing.]

Aragami: Another memory from the general… Was he escaping? Seems like this was a long time ago. That man with the patch over one eye… And that sword…

Yamiko: There’s no doubt… So it’s true. Hyo is… dead. I knew it… in the bottom of my heart, I knew… but I refused to believe… Again and again, the forces of Light take away those I care about. Mother… Father… Hyo… They will pay. Who do they think they are, tearing the ground out from beneath me? In my own home!

Aragami: Yamiko…

Yamiko: S-sorry… I lost my temper…

Aragami: Hyo will be avenged. All of them will be.

Yamiko: …What?

Aragami: I’m a vengeful spirit, after all.

Yamiko: Aragami…

[Aragami continues his journey. He goes to a camp of Kaiho.]

Kaiho Soldier: Soldiers! The Mausoleum of the Fallen is not far from here. The enemy is approaching. Don’t let your guard down!

Yamiko: Aragami. We’re near one of the city’s sluice gates. It’s likely we can use it to get in.

[Once he gets through the camp, he goes to a small settlement.]

Yamiko: Kyuryu, at last! Feels like decades since I was last here.

Aragami: How far until the next talisman?

Yamiko: This is the outer wall… Kurosu says the next one is near the inner walls. We’ve some way to go yet.

Kaiho Soldier: Have you seen Captain Hikaru lately? He’s always been intimidating, but lately… I don’t know. He’s even worse.

Kaiho Soldier: Yeah, I heard the rumors. Someone said that the magic Hikaru and the others used to imprison the Shadow Empress is taking its toll. Just like it did with Captain Yuki.

Kaiho Soldier: It was different with Captain Yuki, though. He became weak. Captain Hikaru has just become… intense. Sinister. Not entirely himself. He used to have a sense of justice, of honor. But now… I just pity whoever crosses his path.

Chapter VIII: THE OLD SAGEEdit

Yamiko: We’re getting closer to the inner walls. Are you aware what is beyond them, Aragami? Hikaru. He’s waiting for us. Kurosu has seen him as well.

Aragami: He’ll pay for his part in Hyo’s death. In all of it.

Yamiko: Aragami… If we make it through tonight… I’ll make sure the Empress compensates you for everything you have done.

Kaiho Soldier: They say that someone took all the talismans outside the walls… Who could do that so quickly?

Kaiho Soldier: It doesn’t matter how fast they are. They’ll find Captain Hikaru waiting for them through those doors. No intruder will reach the inner walls. Ever.

Kaiho Soldier: …Will he be OK?

Kaiho Soldier: Hikaru? He used to dispatch four Nisshoku scum with one blow. He even faced the Shadow Empress and lived to tell the tale. Worry about yourself, not him.

[They go out to the high tower. Next to the entrance, by the gravestone, there is a broken staff.]

Yamiko: Is that a gravestone? What happened here?

[Aragami sees that this broken staff belonged to an old magician who taught him to create a barrier.]

Yamiko: Another vision?

Aragami: “Essence flows from the soul. Soulless beings will never generate or command it.”

Yamiko: Aragami… Are you all right? Did the vision do something to you?

Aragami: That was Master Tsuyoshi, the one who taught Kaiho’s leaders the technique which let them capture you and your empress. Those words are his.

Yamiko: How do you…?

Aragami: I just know. Like in the Mausoleum. It must be the general’s memories. Even though Tsuyoshi was an enemy of Nisshoku, his wisdom was real. He taught Kaiho’s leaders a lot about essence, and… those words… Do you think I have a soul? Do you remember anything in your ancient scrolls about aragami’s souls?

Yamiko: I… don’t think so. Does it matter?

Aragami: Of course it matters. Don’t you understand? My Shadow essence… It isn’t part of the ritual which summoned me. It flows from a soul. If I had no soul, I’d have no essence. But whose soul? Where did it come from? I’m not human. Souls don’t just appear out of thin air… What if I’m… somebody… reincarnated. I use Shadow essence and the sword as if they’re second nature to me. I could from the moment I woke up. Is that because I’m an aragami, or because part of my being is someone’s soul – someone who could wield the sword, could control Shadow essence, before they died? What if-

Yamiko: Aragami, slow down for a second. Please. What are you saying?

Aragami: I’m sorry… Having someone else’s memories jostling in my head… I just want to know who I am. I feel like I’m missing something.

Yamiko: It’s fine… I understand. You must think I’m a terrible summoner. I invoked you but I can’t even answer a simple question about aragami. You know, maybe you’re right! Perhaps aragami are reincarnations of dead warriors. Maybe you were part of Nisshoku’s forces in a past life, and that’s why you can use Shadow essence! Don’t worry. We’ll find out what your real nature is. I’m sure of it. But for now you need to keep your head. I can’t have you fall at Hikaru’s feet. The time has come. This is the only path. I don’t know what Hikaru has in store for you, but I’ll help you as much as I can… Be careful.

Aragami: Don’t worry, Yamiko. I’ll deal with him.

Chapter IX: THE LAST CAPTAINEdit

[Aragami makes his way to where the last captain Hikaru is.]

Hikaru: He’s here… Ugh… Soldiers! The time has come! You’ve come far, but it’s over.

[The battle with the dying captain begins.]

Yamiko: Aragami! The orb on Hikaru’s back is protecting him. You must destroy it! He’s defenseless now! Attack! Aragami! Focus on Hikaru, his shield is down! The orb is leaking light through the crack... You won’t be able to hit it from there again... You’ll need to crack it from above now! Try and attack from behind! Wait… There’s still a second barrier connected to the orbs around here. Go for those first! Well done, Aragami – now break Hikaru’s orb! Strike it again! Come on, you can do it!

[Aragami breaks the captain's defense and begins to fight him with swords, and, of course, wins.]

Hikaru: What is this…? You’re not just Nisshoku…

[Before Aragami's eyes there is a memory - Hikaru is the same boy who fled from the bloodthirsty general Hyo.]

Hikaru: It’s… It’s her… no doubt about it. The voices… the pain… my chest… Shadow Empress! What was it – “Yamiko”? Show yourself, you beast! What kind of trick is this?

Aragami: I’ve come for vengeance. To avenge the pain inflicted on this land by Kaiho. Once the morning comes, this land and these people will be free once more.

Yamiko: ...Aragami. He can’t hear you...

Hikaru: Free? Hah. Do you even know what you’re setting free? You will unleash another war. Nisshoku’s darkness will spread again… Thousands of innocents will perish. All because of you!

Aragami: Just like that you have done here.

Hikaru: You… You know nothing. Nothing!

Aragami: Why should I trust you? I’ll give you one chance at redemption. If your general surrenders tonight-

Hikaru: Ha! “Redemption”. I don’t need you to trust me. Nor do I need your compassion. I won’t die by your heinous blade. I won’t let you undo all that we have paid for with our sacrifices. Sacrifices Kaiho’s people made to end the war. Sacrifices I made…

Yamiko: Aragami, run!

[Hikaru explodes with a dazzling flash of light. Aragami dodges it.]

Yamiko: Aragami! You’re just full of surprises, aren’t you? How did you survive that?

Aragami: I’m not sure. I didn’t mean to do it. It just… happened.

Yamiko: …“Just happened”? Anyway – you did it! Hikaru is gone! The last Kaiho captain… You did it!

Aragami: He didn’t seem to be on form… And did he call you the Shadow Empress? Yamiko… What did he mean?

Yamiko: Uh… The fact is… I… was going to tell you when we finished. …I am the Shadow Empress. I know, I should have told you when I summoned you… But I was worried. I said she was here, it wasn’t a complete lie-

Aragami: It was! They call you a goddess!

Yamiko: No, I’m not a goddess, not like that. I’m just… more powerful than the average…

Aragami: Why didn’t you tell me?

Yamiko: If you were considered a god, respected by all, how would you feel if you were trapped like a mouse, and the only thing you could do was summon the help of some random, fragile spirit? No offense.

Aragami: ...You felt ashamed? We don’t have time for this, Yamiko. Lies won’t help us. Understand?

Yamiko: Yes… yes… From now on, I promise, no more lies. I promise.

Chapter X: MILITARY DISTRICTEdit

Yamiko: Finally! This is the military district. The path to the temple begins here. According to Kurosu they put the talisman in the castle, so that’s where we’re going!

Kaiho Soldier: Did you hear something, by the way? Just a few minutes ago. Like there was an explosion out past the inner wall… I swear I saw a flash as well.

Kaiho Soldier: It’s muggy today – maybe it was thunder? Could be a storm coming in…

Kaiho Soldier: Thunder? That close? No way, you’d have heard it too. I hope something isn’t happening. It could be the intruders…

Kaiho Soldier: No chance. There’s no way some random intruder could waltz past the inner walls and take down Captain Hikaru.

[Aragami goes up to the attic of a tall building and finds a dagger on a stand there. He touches it and sees Hyo giving this dagger to Yamiko. There are two men sitting next to her - a guy in black leather and a guy in red armor.]

Yamiko: Ah… That takes me back… That was when Hyo gave each of us our dark dagger: a weapon only presented to members of the guild ready to undertake the most dangerous, demanding missions. I was so proud that day…

Aragami: Those boys at your side… Who are they?

Yamiko: …Orochi and Ryuta. I was partnered with them. We formed one of the best teams Dakudaga had ever had.

Aragami: I see… You really were something else, weren’t you? Which one was on the right?

Yamiko: Ryuta. Why do you ask?

Aragami: (That armor…)

Yamiko: Anyway, only one talisman left. I can almost smell freedom! Kurosu found a hidden path to the temple. It should save us some time. Dawn is near. Let’s hurry. We don’t want you turning into aragami soup.

Aragami: Very funny. I expected a goddess to have some manners.

Yamiko: Hey!

Kaiho Soldier: Look at all these statues of the Shadow Empress… I’ve never trusted sects. Any of them. Nothing but a bunch of fanatics doing what they want in the name of a god. Nisshoku was no different.

Kaiho Soldier: Fanatics? Didn’t your mother teach you not to label people? As if guilds don’t do what they want as well.

Kaiho Soldier: Don’t you tell me-

Kaiho Soldier: Yes, I was in a sect before I joined Kaiho. Got a problem with that? For your information, we never met a single guild of good men.

Kaiho Soldier: Hey, I didn’t mean any offense-

Kaiho Soldier: Then think before you open your mouth.

Kaiho Soldier: I always thought he was a bit weird…

Chapter XI: THE SIXTH TALISMANEdit

Yamiko: Good, the shortcut worked. Almost there… Almost time for these Kaiho idiots to kiss this world goodbye…

Kaiho Soldier: At this rate my heart’s going to fall out of my mouth…

Kaiho Soldier: You all right?

Kaiho Soldier: We’re so close to the temple. To the Shadow Empress. I can understand why no one wants this patrol.

Kaiho Soldier: Any patrol is a short straw.

Kaiho Soldier: This isn’t a joke! What will we do if she breaks free? Didn’t you hear about the intruder? He’s here to get her. And we can’t stop him!

Kaiho Soldier: Don’t lose your head just yet. The general is watching over the temple, remember? Any intruder’s guts will be decorations the second he sets foot around here.

Yamiko: See that tower, Aragami? Kurosu says the last talisman’s there at the very top. The last one already… Can you believe it?

[Aragami continues to methodically carve soldiers and bully them to the top of the tower. There she finds a medallion with a dragon on it.]

Yamiko: Finally…

[After picking up the medallion Aragami see young Hikaru fighting Ryuta in a form of a dragon and defeating him. Young Yamiko sees it all. She is embraced by rage.]

Aragami: Those were your partners in Dakudaga, right? And the Light adepts… I’ve seen them before.

Yamiko: The ones who killed my parents.

Aragami: Were they in the war too?

Yamiko: It had to be this memory… No, this wasn’t from the last war. This happened years before. Dakudaga sent me on a mission. It just turned out to be the same city these… “men”… were from… It was the perfect opportunity to finally avenge my parents… Orochi, Ryuta, and I struck, but they saw it coming.

Aragami: Our vengeance will reach them too.

Yamiko: Oh, that won’t be necessary… They’re dead. I killed them. All of them. I reduced their whole city to rubble. When they killed Orochi and Ryuta, the anger… A great power awoke within me. I lost my senses. But it’s all right. They deserved to die. My family and friends weren’t their only victims, you know? For years upon years they killed people from all around the continent. But from that night on, I vowed to make sure the world knew of my power. An oath to protect all the land’s subjects from any Light brotherhood’s attacks. Peace would come at last. Then, out of the blue Kaiho appeared. The Light wanted to usher in another era of oppression… and they almost managed. You’re one step away from becoming the savior of these lands, Aragami.

Aragami: Let’s take that step.

Yamiko: Kaiho’s general could appear at any moment. Be careful. I know I’ve said it a million times, but please… be careful.

Aragami: Don’t worry. I’ll make it.

Chapter XII: ASCENSIONEdit

[We flied away some distance from the tower. Kaiho’s General, Sora, is practicing with her bow that shoots rays of light.]

Yamiko: Aragami, look! That must be the general!

Aragami: Her? But in the visions…

Yamiko: I need you focused now. She can feel your presence. If she focuses on you, hiding in the shadows won’t help much.

[Aragami finds and confronts her.]

Yamiko: We’re safe for now…

Aragami: She keeps leaping further away. Any ideas?

Yamiko: She’s more cautious than Hikaru. And she seems to be keeping track of you more easily than he did… Just keep going. Sooner or later she’ll have to face you. She fled to the temple!

Aragami: I almost had her. Something doesn’t fit, Yamiko. I thought the general was a man…

Yamiko: Do not hesitate now, Aragami. You have the talismans. You’ll be all right. Just set me free.

Aragami: Right… Just hold on.

Chapter XIII: TWIN SOULSEdit

Aragami: I can feel you getting closer with each step, Yamiko. I think I sense you in the next room. What do I do with the talismans? How do I rescue you? …Yamiko?

[He walks into a big building. Yamiko's gone somewhere.]

Aragami: What is that thing? …Yamiko?

[When he enters the huge hall, he sees a huge ball of energy in its center. Next to it is Sora. Aragami runs up to her. After a short fight, he pierces her with his sword.]

Sora: …Ryo?

[Aragami picks up Sora falling to the floor.]

Aragami: What did you just say?

Sora: How can it be? I felt you… Ryo…

Aragami: That name… Who is Ryo? Tell me!

Sora: Ryo… Kaiho’s first general. He died here… five years ago.

Aragami: The first… What does that have to do with me? You are Kaiho’s general! Killing you is my duty! That’s why I’m here! Yamiko! Where are you?!

Sora: …Yamiko? Now it makes sense…

Aragami: What?

Sora: That’s why I feel him within you… You must be him… You are Ryo.

Aragami: That… That’s ridiculous!

Sora: If you’re not Ryo… Then why are you holding me? You know it. You know it as well as I do. Try to remember… We came here to defeat Nisshoku.

Aragami: No…

Sora: Yuki, Hikaru… All of us, everyone who joined to end Nisshoku’s tyranny… even old Master Tsuyoshi…

Aragami: No!

Sora: The power of the Empress was overwhelming. We had to use the forbidden technique, but it wasn’t enough. You pushed it further than anyone ever had. You sacrificed yourself to give us a chance… but we still couldn’t defeat her.

Aragami: Enough!

Sora: Why resist it, Ryo?

Aragami: It can’t be true… If it is, then what have I been doing all night?

Sora: Don’t let the guilt suppress your memories… Let them flow. You have to remember…

[She touches his face and he remembers. The memories are lined up in a row. His training. The battle with Hyo and the Shadow Empress. The Empress's captivity with Hikaru and Sora. When he wakes up, Sora gives him his sword.]

Sora: Welcome back, Ryo.

Aragami: Sora… What… What have I done? I’ve slaughtered us. Slaughtered us all. My own men, as if they were animals! I forced Hikaru to kill himself… And now you… Please forgive me…

Sora: Ryo… Don’t apologize. It wasn’t your fault. You know who did this. My light… I can feel it fading… Ryo… Don’t mourn… for me…

Aragami: No! I… I won’t let you die! I can’t lose you again!

Sora: It’s all right… I’m happy. Happy I saw you again… My soul… is… finally…

Aragami: Sora? Sora!

[She's dead. Aragami roars of despair. Sora's soul flies off to a giant glowing ball. The balloon explodes with dark energy. Yamiko emerges from it.]

Yamiko: I’m free! I’m free! You did it, Aragami! Come here with me! You’re amazing! Even in the face of adversity, you did it! I’m so grateful! You’ve been a perfect aragami. Come, I’ll reward you.

Aragami: How could you?

Yamiko: What?

Aragami: How could you use me like that? Those visions were fragments of my past. My mind trying to remember everything since the beginning.

Yamiko: What are you saying?

Aragami: Do you take me for a fool? I’ve remembered everything! You’re not getting in my head ever again.

Yamiko: Are you sure?

[She materializes a dozen copies of herself and they start to non-stop talking. Aragami's head starts to hurt.]

Yamikos: Aragami! Save me please! I’m trapped… We were attacked…

[Yamiko herself turns into a Shadow Empress with a haircut in the form of a ninety-tailed fox and a black dress like a tar stain.]

Yamiko: Impressive… Took her time, didn’t she?

Aragami: Don’t touch her!

Yamiko: Well, well… That’s how you speak to the one who gave you life?

Aragami: I was right. I am a reincarnation. General Ryo of Kaiho, brought back to life by you to further your own twisted goals. You knew it the whole time… and you kept stringing me along!

Yamiko: I didn’t plan everything. I was just as surprised as you when you started remembering things. I just summoned your soul to the cemetery and forced it into a shape. I didn’t know these memories would come with you. But the way I got you to rescue me was brilliant, right? You were so close to working it out a couple of times!

Aragami: I knew you were ruthless, but this… Were those visions of your past another ruse to earn my trust?

Yamiko: …You were never supposed to see that. That’s the second reason I’ll kill you. But now you ask, I suppose the link between our souls – the one that let you see into my past – occurred because of the fragment of my soul that you stole from me when you died. Don’t you think it’s time to return it already? That’s the first reason, by the way.

Aragami: …Fine. You’ll kill me and your soul will become whole again. You’ll regain all your power, and I, the last Kaiho officer, will be dead. But tell me, “Shadow Empress”, what will you do then? You’re alone. We destroyed Nisshoku five years ago. Only a few lowly fanatics remain in hiding. And without your counsellor, Hyo, how far do you think you’ll get? We knew all about it, by the way. That Hyo was the brains behind Nisshoku and you were just the brute force, the tool he used to spread fear. To command these lands.

Yamiko: How dare you… How dare you! I won’t kill you just yet. You saved me, after all… Let’s play a game.

[The final battle begins.]

Yamiko: Here’s how it works: you try to catch me, over and over again, and then when I get tired I kill you.

Aragami: (I’ll have to go along with her it until she lets her guard down…)

Yamiko: You really think you can defeat me? The Shadow essence you’re using comes from my soul! Mine!

Aragami: (Close… Where did you go, Shadow Empress…)

Yamiko: Who do you think you are! You owe me your life! I’m your goddess!

Aragami: (Almost had her… Come on…)

Yamiko: Enough! I’m getting tired now. Let’s see you try this!

Aragami: (She’s getting impatient… I have to finish this quickly… I’ll have to attack from above… Maybe those lamps will help…)

[Aragami tries to attack her from above but the Empress teleports and attacks him with a ball of dark energy.]

Yamiko: You’ve been fooled again, Aragami…

[...but Aragami turns into a dragon and the attack does not damage him.]

Yamiko: That technique… that’s Ryuta’s!

[The technique took Aragami's last strength.]

Yamiko: I’ve had enough of this. Die!

[Suddenly Kurosu attacks the Empress and she falls to the floor.]

Aragami: Kibo!

[Aragami picks up his old sword. It begins to emit light that paralyzes his hand.]

Aragami: My arm… This body won’t withstand another trick like that. Perfect timing, Kibo. At least one of us will make it… Yamiko… I have no right to blame you for what you’ve done. The fury, the thirst for revenge in your eyes… I felt it myself when we wrought vengeance on the men who killed our families. But we had each other. We carried on as a new family, bound by revenge. But you… You were alone. You lost everything. If I had lost the others… Would I have ended up just like you? Maybe we’re not that different after all.

[He sees Yamiko's memories, only in reverse order. Ryuta's death. The blade Hyo gave her. Attack with a wood plank from the grass. Escape from home with a doll. Attack on the village.]

Aragami: We’re leaves trapped in a hurricane, Yamiko. A storm of vengeance. A cyclone of light and darkness that has been twirling since before you or I even existed. It has sucked us in, and now we’re the ones making it spin. It has to end, Yamiko. I died once for revenge… and I won’t let it happen again. I wish there was another way.

[With his sword in his hand, he goes to Yamiko, beating off her energy balls. As he approaches her, she closes her eyes, preparing to die.]

Yamiko: So do I.

[He strikes and there's an explosion. They both dissolve in the air, leaving behind only a sword and a doll.]

THE END

Diaries and ChroniclesEdit

HYO CHRONICLESEdit

Hyo chronicles Vol. 1: The Four SymbolsEdit

July 2, Year 28 of the Fifth Age.
Shadow. Strength. Honor. Leadership. The four symbols of Dakudaga shine on my chest. I’ve been waiting for this moment since the day master Fukuro placed the dark dagger on my upturned palms. Today, as well as giving me his rank and position, he gave me his medallion. I am now one of this great guild’s four leaders. I will follow in my master’s steps with pride.

I saw Inari during the ceremony. It’s been ages since we last spoke. We chatted about our adventures – so long ago now, yet it feels like they happened yesterday. He’s probably one of the most trustworthy and honorable men, both on and off the battlefield, that I’ve ever met. Together we made history as one of the best teams Dakudaga had ever seen. He was promoted to a leader of the guild two years ago. He’s always been two steps ahead of me… But now here we are. On equal footing again.

Hyo chronicles Vol. 2: DakudagaEdit

Master Fukuro told me about the story of the guild, about how it has all worked for decades.

Since it was founded generations ago, Dakudaga has been well known across the continent, almost mythological in status. The best Shadow assassins in the known world stand in our ranks. We are invisible and lethal. Our income depends on the contracts we accept – espionage, theft, assassination. But we always reserve the right to refuse a contract that conflicts or interferes with our interests. This country hasn’t experienced any true internal conflict since Dakudaga was founded, and that’s because the guild itself has cut down any sprout of corruption or tyranny in the government at the very first sign of it.

And yet we remain invisible. The shadow lingering by the feet of society. Dakudaga was created to be amorphous and nomadic. We have four leaders who lead the four disparate groups of our guild, each spread around the country ensuring that the organs of power and command do not rot into dictatorship.

As long as Dakudaga remains vigilant, peace and stability is assured across the nation. My heart swells with pride at the thought that I am one of this great guild’s four leaders.

Hyo chronicles Vol. 3: A Bright Full MoonEdit

February 12, Year 29 of the Fifth Age.
It turns out paperwork is the great destroyer of a leader’s time. I miss the old days, Inari and I picking routes into impenetrable fortresses, collecting secret information, slitting the throats of our enemies. I miss the vitality. The living.

At least now that we’re both leaders of the guild I see more of him than ever.

March 9, Year 29 of the Fifth Age.
I have to pull myself together.

Today after one of our meetings, Inari introduced me to his fiancée, Mitsuki. Their engagement was only announced recently. He told me that she’s a member of the ancient and famous Shirokitsu clan. When she entered the room, it was as if time stopped. That long white hair. Those blue eyes. Like a bright full moon appearing through dark clouds of night.

I am ashamed at my thoughts. I must put her out of mind. I won’t be able to look at Inari’s face anymore otherwise. What was he thinking anyway, bringing a woman to the leaders’ meeting?

Hyo chronicles Vol. 4: EnchantmentEdit

August 21, Year 29 of the Fifth Age
For years we’ve been holding the threats to the guild at bay. But now one of them seems to be gaining strength. A Light guild called Saigosen. I’ve heard rumors about its leaders: two brothers, powerful Light adepts that use techniques no one has never seen before.

People like to exaggerate. Still, this guild seems to be causing problems in our neighboring countries. I’ve sent some men to gather information. I don’t think Saigosen would dare set foot on our land, but it never hurts to have an ear to the ground.

December 26, Year 29 of the Fifth Age
Yesterday Mitsuki gave birth to a baby girl: Yamiko. I received a letter from Inari talking about her: that she has Mitsuki’s eyes, that she is the most beautiful thing in the world, that she… the list goes on.

I could hardly even recognize Inari in the letter. No sign of the ruthless, sharp, and cunning man I once knew. Perhaps he is under the same enchantment I felt when I saw Mitsuki. That sensation of safety and invincibility she exudes. Not something I’d want, personally. I’d never abandon my post for such banal reasons.

Hyo chronicles Vol. 5: Waste of TimeEdit

August 1, Year 33 of the Fifth Age
Four years after their first appearance, Saigosen has decided to cross our borders without permission. I can’t understand why they would dare to do this. Maybe all the time they spent assaulting and killing farmers has made them feel invincible. We’ll show them what happens when you stir up the hornet’s nest.

October 18, Year 33 of the Fifth Age
It took longer to travel to the Saigosen camp than it took to win the entire war. The night after we found them, we broke into their leaders’ tents and put an end to their lives. I didn’t expect a long battle, but this was just disappointing. “Two great brothers of Light,” they said, “who from great distance can blind you and pierce your heart in the blink of an eye…” I actually expected something from them. But it was barely worth coming. Certainly not two of us with our best soldiers.

I’m sure Inari was glad when we said he could stay at home with his beloved wife and daughter… The old Inari wouldn’t be happy unless his sword was the first to taste our prey’s blood.

Hyo chronicles Vol. 6: AngerEdit

January 9, Year 34 of the Fifth Age
I’ve never felt this before. A sense of… of shortcoming. Of failure. I’ve never felt anger like it, as though my insides have been clawed out. A burning anger remains. I’ve lost friends in the line of duty many times, I thought I was used to it...

The Saigosen leaders killed Inari three days ago. They also killed Mitsuki… and Yamiko. Our sources confirm that the Light adepts didn’t leave a shred of their bodies intact. Wiped from existence in the blink of an eye, our sources say. The Light soldiers also attacked most of the village. How could Inari let this happen? My most trusted agent reported that the Saigosen leaders were present during celebrations at their capital… They made us believe we had killed them, that they had surrendered… Perhaps the Saigosen are something else after all. A true nemesis.

But why Inari? Why his family? Was he just the first? Is this an open declaration of war?

I told Inari to bring his family here, to our largest encampment… I told him, but he didn’t want his daughter to grow up in a place like this. He should have listened to me.

Hyo chronicles Vol. 7: A Long SearchEdit

May 28, Year 37 of the Fifth Age
Thirty-eight months have passed since the day we began our expedition to Rashomon Valley where Inari and Mitsuki lived. Each and every day I imagine myself making the Light brothers suffer. Making them pay for what they did. But now that we’re finally here, it’s empty – the death of our spies during the attack filled us with more trepidation than usual. We had no insight into what we would find.

Sure enough, we found nothing. What they said was true: Saigosen left no trace of Inari, Mitsuki, or Yamiko. The only thing we found were the bells Inari’s father left him. Our tracking also led us to some sort of mineshaft where the locals had been mining for small traces of a strange mineral. Did Inari find this?

March 14, Year 39 of the Fifth Age
We examined the strange minerals further. I can safely say that this mineral was Saigosen’s reason for attacking Inari’s village. They could have struck anywhere else after their strike, but they didn’t. They disappeared into the wilderness immediately after the attack. We have yet to find anything that would indicate their whereabouts.

We’ve taken a fishing village east of the Great Forest and south of Sanzen Kozui Lake. Some villagers seem to know about Saigosen, but refuse to say anything. We’ll need to persuade them.

Hyo chronicles Vol. 8: White Hair and Blue EyesEdit

March 18, Year 39 of the Fifth Age
Sometimes I wonder whether someone or something really is in charge of our destinies.

This morning one of my men came to me with a prisoner. A villager that had returned home after hunting in the forest for several days. I asked what he had for me, and he gave me a doll. A small ragdoll, crafted with care but very worn. It was an effigy of a woman with white hair and blue eyes. On her vestments was a motif: the Dakudaga symbol.

I seized the villager and demanded to know where he had found it. He said it was on the ground in the middle of the forest. I dragged the man back to my office and wringed every last drop of information I could out of him. This is the only clue we’ve had about Inari’s family for years. Perhaps one of them survived after escaping in the forest?

Then the real wonder. The real coincidence. The person I wasn’t sure even existed, the person who had survived Inari’s name, found me. While I held a candle to the man’s face, a small creature leaped from the shadows armed with a knife. It struck like lightning, almost catching me unguarded. As it threw a flurry of attacks at me, I eventually managed to get a good look at its white hair, which shone with the light of the rising sun. It didn’t stop swinging until the moment I Shadow leaped behind it. Then it stopped and stared at me with those blue eyes... The same impression I had years ago of those eyes piercing through my very soul traveled down my spine once again.

Hyo chronicles Vol. 9: The Little SavageEdit

I struggle to think of the last time I was this amazed – this delighted – by life’s surprises.

That little girl, dressed in a rough coat made of fur and armed with a knife made from the bone of a beast, was the living picture of Mitsuki. With all the peace and friendliness I could muster, I said, “Yamiko?” For a moment her eyes widened, but she quickly recovered herself, stepped away, and raised her guard, growling at me like an animal. I was taken aback too. I realized that in front of me was a child who had spent five years alone in the Great Forest of Rashomon – probably after watching Saigosen Light adepts kill her parents… I’m almost certain she had avoided human contact since then. Perhaps she didn’t understand words anymore. But if she had avoided humans, I wondered, why had she attacked me in the village?

The answer, rather obviously, was the doll. I slowly took it out of my pocket and placed my sword on the ground. The little girl stared at the doll without blinking. Then, I took my Dakudaga pendant with my other hand and put it by the doll’s side. It worked. Showing the little girl the Dakudaga symbol on both objects stopped her in her tracks. She lowered her knife slowly. I Shadow leaped to her side and gave her the doll. That stare she gave me... I promised to myself that I would protect her with my life for the rest of my days.

Hyo chronicles Vol. 10: Back to SocietyEdit

September 18, Year 39 of the Fifth Age
In the end, the only clue we found about Saigosen is that they fled to the south after striking Inari’s village. Not much to go on, but at least fate rewarded us with Yamiko, who survived their attack somehow. We decided to go back to our new base of operations in the city of Kyuryu. We have called off our search for Saigosen… for now.

Children can be challenging. Yamiko is difficult with everyone in the clan except me. I’m a Shadow assassin, not a nanny! At least Yamiko is gifted. She is far from normal, displaying skills with stealth and Shadow essence already on par with those of my best men. It has made things easier in her training, but other aspects of her education have been far more challenging. I’m just glad we found her before it was too late. Before her mind had lost all semblance of humanity.

Somehow we have given Yamiko a place in society again as a member of Dakudaga. Since arriving here with us, her skills have improved considerably. She has even begun behaving like a human being again. I’m certain we shall be presenting her with the dark dagger in no time. She will be one of our greatest agents.

Hyo chronicles Vol. 11: The Fox, the Snake, and the DragonEdit

December 7, Year 40 of the Fifth Age
Yamiko is the fourth woman to ever enter Dakudaga’s ranks. And among the few female members, she is also the youngest. Some of my men find it hard to swallow, especially the ones that Yamiko beat to the dark dagger ceremony. The worst thing is when they try to hurt her – physically and mentally. They end up either unconscious or in pain for days. Over and over again. I can’t help but laugh. In Dakudaga, it doesn’t matter who you are, but what you can do. She is testament to that fact.

This year, two more members with unusual abilities joined the guild: Orochi, from the Hebi clan, and Ryuta, from the Ryu clan. Both clans have worked this land for eons, and the two boys seem to be at the peak of their abilities. I teamed them up with Yamiko. She didn’t like the idea to begin with, but she has learnt to trust them. I can see it building, like a chain forged with unbreakable iron. Dakudaga has never witnessed a team so young yet so powerful. I even like their motif, which is the result of putting their family symbols together: the fox from Yamiko, the snake from Orochi, and the dragon from Ryuta.

It is my duty as a leader to be impartial about all of my soldiers… but that isn’t easy with three truly special students under your wing.

Hyo chronicles Vol. 12: Great PotentialEdit

December 25, Year 45 of the Fifth Age
Yamiko turned sixteen today. I can see Inari’s will behind her eyes, but on the outside… every day she reminds me more of her mother. I realized last week that she has become a woman. It was one of those fleeting moments when you see something or someone familiar in a completely new light, as though you’d never seen them before.

Today, she, Orochi, and Ryuta were presented with a medal etched with their team’s crest in honor of their great work during these past few years. They have carried out every contract with unprecedented efficiency, conviction, and talent. When I gave Yamiko her medal and she looked at me… I felt the same feeling of protection, of safety, that I felt all those years ago when I first saw her mother. I shivered. Hopefully not visibly.

I don’t know how to assimilate this feeling. I heard, a long time ago, that certain women of the Shirokitsu clan were gifted with a great power. A power of command. Yamiko’s mother hailed from Shirokitsu. I’ve always been skeptical about legends like these, but Yamiko’s effect is just too powerful. It can’t be anything else. She’s like a daughter to me.

February 10, Year 46 of the Fifth Age
Yamiko’s team is the best. The best under my command at the moment. The best I have ever seen. Their teamwork has become perfect, a flawless self-sustaining machine. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of her true power, and it is terrifying. She could be more powerful than I am. We must be careful with her. Normally an adept finds their limits after they come of age, and their power level stabilizes. That day has yet to come for Yamiko.

Hyo chronicles Vol. 13: A Light FortressEdit

March 1, Year 47 of the Fifth Age
At last. Our spies have found them. We received a message detailing the location of the Saigosen guild’s capital. Far south, north of the arid lands, a fortress city was spotted flying the Saigosen flag. Spies infiltrated the fortress and found the base of their power. Their leaders, their resources, their plans.

While waiting for the winter’s end, the other three leaders and I have been preparing a full reconnaissance mission with our best teams. We need to know what the Saigosen have been preparing all these years. After we found Yamiko, our best scientific minds discovered that the mineral Saigosen extracted from the mines near Inari’s home had some kind of compatibility with Light essence. We have to expect the unexpected.

I told Yamiko about the mission. Her team is without a doubt the best we have, even among the other leaders’ platoons. I didn’t want to leave them behind… but I didn’t tell Yamiko the city was a Saigosen stronghold. She doesn’t seem to remember their flag, so I decided not to mention it at all. This is a recon mission: we can’t reveal our blade before we are ready to strike. We’re going there to find out how powerful they’ve become and prepare our attack. If Yamiko knew she was going where her parents’ killers were based… She is intelligent and trustworthy, but her anger is a force to be reckoned with.

We depart next week.

Hyo chronicles Vol. 14: Goddess (1)Edit

April 18, Year 47 of the Fifth Age
I am struggling to believe what I have seen. An unbelievable sight, an unbelievable fact.

The recon mission was going well. We got all the information we needed to plan an attack, and we were preparing to leave. At the agreed time, all the teams gathered at the meeting spot in the forest outside the city gates… except Yamiko’s.

Every minute we waited for her, Ryuta, and Orochi was torture. If Yamiko found out that she was in Saigosen’s headquarters, she would lose her mind. If she decided to fight – which she would – she’d sabotage our only good chance at crippling Saigosen for good, as well as putting herself in great danger. The Light mechanisms they had developed, the defenses we saw, made them far more dangerous than any force we knew of.

Suddenly, a loud explosion echoed across the sky. The top floor of the castle at the heart of the fortress burst into flames while we stared, mouths agape. We jumped onto the guard towers to get a better look, and what we saw left us even more speechless than before.

Something was moving at high speed through the fortress, avoiding the Saigosen soldiers’ attacks before destroying each and every one of them with huge, sweeping blades of darkness. Within minutes, the figure shrouded in a dark fog had destroyed the entire fortress. Eventually silence fell, and the shape made for us.

Unable to say a word, we waited for the door to open. To see what kind of monster would be our certain end. The door opened slowly, and emerging from the impenetrable shroud of shadow was Yamiko’s silhouette.

Hyo chronicles Vol. 15: Goddess (2)Edit

April 18, Year 47 of the Fifth Age
We were unable to speak as we watched Yamiko walk out of the city she had just destroyed. Ruined buildings, bodies, and dust were left in her wake. A lifeless gaze had fixed in her eyes. She stopped in front of us. No one could move. I waited for her to say something. What had just happened? What had triggered this… this phenomenon? But her mouth didn’t open, not even for a moment. She just stood there. Gradually, the others started to bend their knees. In fear, no doubt. But I felt no fear. My concern for Yamiko’s safety outweighed every other feeling. Then it struck me: she was alone. In a small voice I asked her, “Orochi and Ryuta?” She looked at me with glassy eyes, and slowly shook her head. I ran to embrace her.

April 19, Year 47 of the Fifth Age
Yamiko woke up this morning after being unconscious for two days. I finally asked her what had happened. As I’d feared, she had realized she was in Saigosen’s fortress, and was overcome with vengeance. Saigosen’s leaders had a secret weapon – a new defensive device – that allowed them to kill Orochi and Ryuta effortlessly. Just as they activated the device, empowering themselves tenfold, Yamiko’s sheer anger awakened the evidently bottomless well of latent power within her.

We have to proceed carefully. This situation will be difficult. Saigosen is no more, but now we must work out what to do with Yamiko, as half of Dakudaga now consider her a goddess.

Hyo chronicles Vol. 16: NisshokuEdit

June 9, Year 47 of the Fifth Age
We, the four leaders, spent an entire week discussing what to do with Yamiko. She hasn’t come to terms with her friends’ deaths yet, and spends hours in their mausoleums. Meanwhile, people who were affected by Saigosen’s oppression and assaults, entire brotherhoods of Shadow, keep visiting our city’s doors, offering thanks to the “goddess” who freed them. It’s only a matter of time before this rumor about the “goddess” reaches other countries.

I tried to convince the other leaders that we must take hold of the situation. Dakudaga has always watched over this country and its government from the shadows... but now there is a power vacuum. We ourselves can seize government, especially now that we can no longer live in the shadows with Yamiko drawing attention like a dark sun. Hordes of people come to our gates every day. This could be the beginning of an empire, for better or worse. The city of Kyuryu is practically a fortress already. It could be our headquarters. And our biggest threat, Saigosen, was destroyed two months ago. We can grow strong without anyone to contest our reign. Just picturing our power makes me shiver.

If we did this, we wouldn’t be Dakudaga anymore. We would be Yamiko’s empire. The empire of the Shadow Empress. We would be an eternal night, in place to protect those afflicted by the cruel forces of Light. We would be Nisshoku.

Hyo chronicles Vol. 17: The Right Hand of the GoddessEdit

June 27, Year 1 of the Sixth Age
I’ve managed to help Yamiko see things from my perspective. We have within arm’s reach the power to prevent anyone suffering like she did every again. No more arrogant Light brotherhoods to take advantage of Shadow followers, like they have for generations. Yamiko has agreed to be our empress, but she’s so young. She doesn’t have the knowledge or the experience necessary to rule. For this reason, we have agreed that I’ll be her right hand. I’ll stand by her side and give her my counsel.

A new age begins. The age of the Shadow Empress.

July 4, Year 1 of the Sixth Age
We’ve declared ourselves the sect of Nisshoku. Our ruler, the Shadow Empress. Two of Dakudaga’s other leaders have also agreed to become councilors for the Empress. The third leader… has abandoned us. A traitor. The country’s governor sent a letter describing his displeasure with our actions. Dakudaga was the largest military force in the land, and for the most part it has transformed into Nisshoku. If the government has something to say, we will wait with bated breath.

Hyo chronicles Vol. 18: ProsperityEdit

November 29, Year 5 of the Sixth Age
Fortune, fame, and power. Since the birth of Nisshoku, these three roots of success haven’t stopped growing and becoming stronger, feeding us with their nectar. One of our biggest concerns in the beginning was keeping watch for any potential Light brotherhoods looking for revenge. I myself led some of the recon missions, but what we found was harmless, almost absurd. The only one that was of note was based in the arid lands. Peasants who were incredibly skillful with Light essence. But they were peaceful cowards, without a single theory on combat. It almost made me laugh to learn they were pacifists.

December 25, Year 5 of the Sixth Age
Yamiko turns 22 today. We let the citizens come into the temple grounds to honor her name in celebration. Her image, standing there in front of hundreds of people worshipping her, is always inspiring. She looks so imposing, so powerful… yet still so sad. I wonder what she is feeling inside. I keep asking her if she’s happy to be our empress, and she says she is fine. I think a part of her died when Orochi and Ryuta were taken from us. I wonder if I’ll be able to make her happy again.

Hyo chronicles Vol. 19: The Name KaihoEdit

June 28, Year 9 of the Sixth Age
A rumor gave me pause today. One of our spies – in the guise of a friendly merchant traveling south with eastern pottery – said he saw unusual activity in a southern brotherhood. Named Kaiho, they were growing in number and gaining strength day by day. The brotherhood is mainly composed of Light adepts, but masters of all essences are in their ranks, from Shadow to Fire. The spy said they might even be planning an attack, the movements seemed so organized. The lips of their adepts were tightly sealed.

I told one of the other councilors about my concerns, but he laughed it off. He said that Nisshoku is so huge and magnificent that they couldn’t even see it from their tiny territory. Like a fly attacking a bear. Even if they had some strength, we have the Shadow Empress on our side. He’s right, of course.

Hyo chronicles Vol. 20: Kaiho StrikesEdit

May 30, Year 10 of the Sixth Age
They were smart. My commanders’ pursed lips when we met this morning made it clear that we have been outwitted. The upstart Kaiho brotherhood crippled villages and towns along our key supply routes and sabotaged our barracks and recruitment bases – less than a year after we were made aware of their existence.

This city is a fortress. Normally I wouldn’t be worried about an upstart brotherhood who had gained some numbers, but this isn’t just one brotherhood – this is a myriad of them. Light adepts, Fire adepts, Life adepts… The biggest problem is the Earth adepts. My spies tell me they’re positioned at the rear of the Kaiho army. They're planning to send shockwaves beneath the battlefield to undermine the foundations of our walls. Our fortifications don’t stand a chance against this.

Flow and adapt. The field of battle is the vessel – you must be the water. I have decided the best approach is to bring the fight to their vanguard. We must leave the city walls and face them. The Shadow Empress will be our last resort.

Hyo chronicles Vol. 21: A Deep WoundEdit

June 4, Year 10 of the Sixth Age
They did it. They were more powerful than we knew. They didn’t even show a hint of their true power until now. My limbs tingle with anger. Anger at what they did to her.

We were losing. Earth essence attacks battered the city’s outer walls. Our men were pushed back to the limits. There was only one thing for it. I called her. She emerged from the city gates to end the cowards. But Kaiho’s four leaders, the most powerful masters in their army, were waiting for her. They pressed the Empress back into the city. Cornered her.

But they were waiting for something. They were holding back. Then I saw him, the old man. They called his name – Tsuyoshi. He was making straight for Yamiko. I intercepted him, but before I could land a single strike his hand rose and my limbs failed me. My energy drained away like water from a sliced bamboo shoot. The leaders pressed Yamiko back to her temple, and the old man turned his attention to her – I watched the vitality leave her face. I saw my chance, and plunged my blade deep into his flank. As he fell, he grasped my arm just above my sword hand... I’ll never forget the pain. A thousand fires burned from his fingers. I fell with him.

Still, a ray of fortune shone on me: a handful of my men happened upon me during their retreat, and shouldered me to safety. One of them said the Empress had managed to kill at least one of Kaiho’s leaders. As they dragged me towards our escape route, I watched the flags burn above our city. The Empress was defeated. Nisshoku had fallen.

Hyo chronicles Vol. 22: Mausoleum of the FallenEdit

June 12, Year 10 of the Sixth Age
My men tell me that the Empress isn’t dead. She is being held captive by the Kaiho in… in our old capital. In Kyuryu. They have used a rare technique to entrap her. Apparently she is catatonic, unresponsive. As if her soul itself had been captured, not just her body. I don’t know what this means, but in any case she is clearly past the point of helping herself. We will have to look for an opportunity.

The old man must have helped them learn this technique. Curse the fool. My muscles still twitch where he touched me that day. I can barely hold a sword. I don’t think the aching in my bones will ever heal.

May 30, Year 12 of the Sixth Age
An enormous, disgusting building has been built in honor of Kaiho’s dead. Well, there is a place for Nisshoku’s fallen too… In the catacombs.

To commemorate the anniversary of their victory, they have activated some infernal Light device which casts an endless beam of light into the sky. Curse them. We will have our revenge. My men train every day. Our camp slowly grows. We will avenge or even, if we can, free the Empress.

Hyo chronicles Vol. 23: The Only ChanceEdit

March 15, Year 15 of the Sixth Age
Finally. One of our new spies, established in the thick of the Kaiho nation, met with success. He managed to read a private letter between two senior Kaiho captains. It doesn’t detail the technique they used to imprison her, but it mentions the technique’s side effects. Each of the three remaining Kaiho leaders are bound by some sort of affliction. One of them in particular – Yuki – can barely stand it. They say he has become weaker and weaker ever since they captured the Empress. He has to be our target.

This week the leaders are meeting to perform some sort of ritual. This could be our moment to attack. Perhaps we can find out how they are holding the Empress captive. We need to get her back. I won’t let this chance slip away.

TSUYOSHI’S NOTESEdit

Tsuyoshi’s notes Vol. 1: EssenceEdit

May 20, Year 27 of the Fifth Age
The “Vital Essence,” or simply “essence,” is what we call the energy that flows inside any living being, just like blood. I’ve studied it for so many years, and yet so much is still unknown.

In the same way that the heart pumps red sap through our veins, essence also has a circulatory system and a center, although it is more like a river than a pump. It generates its own motion, it generates its own existence. That center, as well as the essence, is known by many names depending on where in the world you are, but here we call it the soul.

When the Fire adept lights a bonfire with their bare hands, or when an Earth adept cracks the ground they stand upon with the tiniest of movements, essence is being emitted from their bodies and channeled into the world through an element. As far as we know, there are seven pure elements: Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, Light, Darkness (or Shadow), and Life. Then there are the hybrid elements, born from a mixture of pure elements, but I’ll leave those for another time.

Tsuyoshi’s notes Vol. 2: AdeptEdit

September 1, Year 32 of the Fifth Age
More than once I’ve been asked if an adept of a certain element is born or made. Well, it’s true that you can be born with an innate inclination towards one element, but this only means it will be easier for you to use it if you decide to study it. It will still not come naturally. It is like a canvas: when you are born your soul is blank, and it is you who decides which color to paint it. From Fire-red, to Water-blue, to Shadow-black. The more you paint the canvas, the more powerful you become.

There are those who think that the essence an adept picks defines who he or she is: Light for the good, Darkness for the bad, Fire for the brave… Based on my vast experience I can say that essence has no bearing on personality. It’s based on pure chance. Guilds who worship a specific element aren’t necessarily better than sects who worship a god or gods. I’ve met sects that paid respect to their gods without harming anyone, and guilds that destroyed others just because they could…

Tsuyoshi’s notes Vol. 3: Life EssenceEdit

April 6, Year 45 of the Fifth Age
As I said, the soul is a canvas you can paint with whichever element you want. You learn how to assimilate an element from the environment, you blend your soul’s essence with it, and you emit the result in the form of a technique.

But what if you cast your essence without channeling it into an element first? This was the question which led to the discovery of Life essence. Life is the only element you can summon from within yourself, and it is still the most challenging to master.

We, the five sages, have decided to study this great essence together. Each of us are entering this endeavor as Masters. Now it is time to combine our efforts, discover how far we can push the limits, and document the results. We plan to found our own brotherhood. Eventually, we might even begin teaching its use. A bright future awaits… I hope.

Tsuyoshi’s notes Vol. 4: BalanceEdit

May 10, Year 45 of the Fifth Age
The old manuscripts tell us there’s a delicate synergy between body and soul... Surely breaking this balance means defying nature itself. What would happen, then, to a body containing more “soul” than it should? Indeed, what would happen if the soul was divided or shattered? As far as we know, these questions have never been asked. Until now.

The soul transferring technique, which we are the first to develop, creates a link between the summoner’s soul and the target’s. The summoner can transfer part of their soul to the target, or vice versa. Receiving a part of a soul leads to an increase in your Life essence, which means an initial boost of power. Furthermore, since the other person’s essence has been merged with your own, it immediately becomes possible to channel elements your target was attuned to.

The challenge is that sustaining this link is exhausting. We’ve experienced different symptoms after short periods of usage, but it seems that once cancelled, the technique returns everything to the way it was and there are no consequences. Still, this marks a great advance in our research. I wonder what the next step will reveal.

Tsuyoshi’s notes Vol. 5: InverselyEdit

July 21, Year 45 of the Fifth Age
Something strange happened today. A man from the village nearby came asking for help. He said a lunatic, a powerful Fire adept, keeps coming to his village and attacking its people and cattle, apparently for no reason.

We can’t stand by and let this happen.

August 17, Year 45 of the Fifth Age
The next time the mad Fire adept emerged to attack, we were waiting for him. He was powerful indeed. Some cultures form entire sects around adepts who hold such power and follow them like gods. Luckily this man had no sect.

It was pointless parleying with him. He attacked on sight, a frenzy behind his eyes. It wasn’t long before our battle began to damage the town – then we came up with an idea. One of us held guard, while two others used the soul transferring technique on the man – but this time we did it inversely, taking part of his soul.

The effects were immediate: his power decreased to nothing. He was paralyzed. The man couldn’t do anything but watch as we cut the flow of his essence.

Another powerful use for Life essence has revealed itself to us… And now of course we will never go hungry. The villagers shower us with offerings.

Tsuyoshi’s notes Vol. 6: The Sealing TechniqueEdit

August 20, Year 45 of the Fifth Age
It was clear that the soul transfer technique was a powerful tool for weakening enemies. Nevertheless, a substantial drawback is that the summoner needs to stay perfectly still and very focused, otherwise the link will break and the technique will be cancelled... We must experiment further.

September 9, Year 45 of the Fifth Age
We’ve done it! I myself performed the experiment with one of the other masters. We broke the Life link while the transfer technique was active, locking a small part of his soul in my body. The very instant it was sealed within me, I felt his essence emanating through my chest and limbs. The limits of my power have increased, and conversely his have decreased proportionately, as with the soul transferring technique. What is different here is that this transfer now lasts until I make a link between us, unsealing his soul from within me. We have decided to stay like this for a few hours and document any effects in the short term. This could be a revolution!

Tsuyoshi’s notes Vol. 7: Effects of the Seal (1)Edit

September 11, Year 45 of the Fifth Age
Two days have passed, and the seal persists. It has taken so little time to gather so much important data.

It seems that, although a soul is divided, an imperceptible connection remains between its parts. I can feel my partner’s precise presence through the part of his soul inside me. He can feel where I am too. This connection seems independent of distance. We’ve done some tests: no matter how far away or obscured we were, one of us was always able to find the other in no time.

September 12, Year 45 of the Fifth Age
Last night I heard my partner’s screams while I slept. I woke with a start, thinking the nightmare was in my own mind. The second time his scream reached me I rushed to his room immediately.

He was lying on his bed, asleep. Evidently uncomfortable, but not in any pain. I realized nobody else had heard him. Then another scream, louder than the others. Covering my ears didn’t help.

I woke him, and the screaming stopped. He was having a nightmare. I could hear his dreams.

Tsuyoshi’s notes Vol. 8: Effects of the Seal (2)Edit

October 5, Year 45 of the Fifth Age
Each of us have performed the sealing technique with each other and released the link after a few days. The results are conclusive: telepathy is possible between subjects who share soul fragments. One can communicate with the other, and the link can even transfer memories and feelings.

The downside is that the research has revealed more side effects, which vary depending on the subject, but seem to show common signs depending on how the technique has affected your soul. If part of your soul was transferred to someone else, you present certain side effects; if part of someone else’s soul was sealed with yours, you present different ones. The technique’s strengths and weaknesses both disappear once the connection is cut and the soul fragments are returned to their owners.

We keep iterating the process, resting between longer transfer sessions. Having your soul shattered, corrupted by another, certainly impacts the physical body. A sort of stress on the fibers of your being. Accumulating too much of this could be dangerous.

Tsuyoshi’s notes Vol. 9: Effects of the Seal (3)Edit

November 23, Year 45 of the Fifth Age
We conceived of this technique as a tool to weaken dangerous enemies indefinitely. Yet after two months, we are still discovering new uses for it.

Once part of somebody else’s soul is sealed with yours, it’s possible to transfer this fragment to yet another subject. All of it, or just part. This means that it’s possible for the summoner to lighten the burden of the foreign soul. Lighten the malaise. This clearly made a difference when we tested it. The stress was the technique’s main drawback.

It also means that a soul can be split into more than two parts. Depending on the summoner’s capabilities, the other person’s soul can be fragmented into as many parts as the summoner wishes.

I’ve left the best for last. We have discovered that it’s possible to seal soul parts not only in humans, but in animals too. Although they cannot carry as much soul as a human body, the link works in exactly the same way. Some of us have now begun documenting how it feels to see the world as a rat, or a dog...

Tsuyoshi’s notes Vol. 10: Effects of the Seal (4)Edit

December 27, Year 45 of the Fifth Age
Fascinating. Utterly fascinating.

Yesterday morning we found Sohtho, our dog, dead. I sealed part of his soul within me a week ago. This is unprecedented. While I’m certain he didn’t die from natural causes or any external injuries, the cause still remains unclear.

Then I realized this was the first time we’d had the opportunity to observe any interactions between the sealing technique and death. When Sohtho died, his soul should have left his body and become one with nature, as it has since the beginning of time. But the part of his soul that I took was still there, sealed within me. I could feel it. Does this mean his soul couldn’t leave the world of the living? Was he trapped on this mortal coil?

Then I had one of the most drastic ideas I’ve had in my life. Using the unbreakable connection between parts of a being’s soul, I commanded Sohtho’s other soul part, the main one, to return to me. Once it drew near – who knows where from – I directed it telepathically into Sohtho’s body. We all watched, speechless, as Sohtho’s body stood up and started running around the room.

We may have discovered immortality.

Tsuyoshi’s notes Vol. 11: Effects of the Seal (5)Edit

January 30, Year 46 of the Fifth Age
Despite what we did with Sohtho, we have not been able to progress further. It is impossible without harming animals, and we aren’t here for that. Hopefully we’ll find a method in time.

Besides that, however, we’ve made another amazing discovery. Animals are now forbidden, but it has transpired that soul fragments can be sealed in objects. Until now we thought that soul transference required a soul on both sides of the transaction – but once again our research has borne new marvels.

A shortcoming of this technique is that we can’t seal a soul fragment in any random object. It seems to be more complex than that. The summoner needs to have a strong sentimental connection with the object of transference. Precisely how this relationship works is still a mystery to us, but we can guess that a channel for Life essence is built within any object of someone’s affection. The size of the fragment you can transfer is far smaller than that of animals, but unlike animals an inanimate object doesn’t die naturally… Based on previous studies, an adept who could seal small parts of his soul into objects like this would be immortal as long as someone was available to put his soul back into his body…

Maybe we are not far away from the path to immortality after all.

Tsuyoshi’s notes Vol. 12: The First ApprenticeEdit

April 6, Year 46 of the Fifth Age
It’s been a year since we five sages came together to study Life essence. Now we are known as “The Sealing Brotherhood.” So many adepts came asking for apprenticeships, and eventually we decided that it’s time to accept one. His name is Maelsha. He has a pure heart and shows great potential for using Life essence.

April 28, Year 46 of the Fifth Age
Maelsha is doing well. In just a few weeks he has begun using the sealing technique, which is advanced. At this rate, I am certain he will become a sage, an heir to our order. The first of a brand new generation.

May 25, Year 46 of the Fifth Age
Lately, Maelsha has begun making simple mistakes – even in basic routines and drills. Something is interfering with his concentration. He says he will come back stronger, but I’m worried something is truly wrong.

May 29, Year 46 of the Fifth Age
Apparently Maelsha abandoned his training for the last three days because of a love affair. We don’t tolerate this, but we have been forced to go easier on Maelsha than we usually would. The woman he has loved for many years has a very rare disease. I’ve decided to visit him before he does something he regrets. He is fully aware of the power of the Life essence.

Tsuyoshi’s notes Vol. 13: Time to ThinkEdit

May 26, Year 46 of the Fifth Age
I was right. In disgrace, I was right. By the time I reached Maelsha’s home it was too late.

His beloved must have been on her deathbed. He tried to retain her soul using the sealing technique, but his body couldn’t withstand it. It was foolish to show him such an advanced and perilous technique in the first months of his training. I’m certain he was well aware of the risks, and did it with the best of intentions, but now… now his death weighs heavily on our shoulders.

The incident made it clear: we’ve been playing god long enough. The sealing technique is now marked as “forbidden.” We have dissolved the brotherhood. Indefinitely. In this way we will give ourselves time to think about the past, the present, and the future. We each used the seali… the forbidden technique on each other so we can stay in touch regardless of the distance between us.

Maelsha always wanted to visit the arid lands. Maybe that’s a good place for a new start.

Tsuyoshi’s notes Vol. 14: ReincarnationEdit

August 23, Year 46 of the Fifth Age
I arrived in the arid lands some weeks ago. Rumors were right about the weather. I have never sweated so much – and never completely run out of sweat – like I have here. Luckily I found a good place to live. Up in the mountains, situated not far from a small village full of Light adepts. The way they use Light in their worship is inspiring… Whenever I feel a particular longing for human contact, I’ll go visit them.

With everything that has happened... the forbidden technique, Sohtho, Maelsha… I can’t stop thinking about reincarnation. I’ve heard so much superstition about it from so many different cultures, but never actual facts or methods. We never even thought of looking into it further. It was nothing but a fantasy... and then I saw Sohtho come back to life. The gap where his soul should be filled up again like a goblet at a feast. He recognized us too, just like before. What would have happened if I had put the dog’s soul into a different body? Would he still have been able to recognize us? Probably not – memories lie in the brain, not the soul itself… But does the soul carry an imprint of its body, of the body’s memories? Are they etched into the soul like stains in glass? If I had put a different soul into the dog’s corpse, would Sohtho still be Sohtho? I don’t think so. The soul is an important part of our identity.

I just wonder... What if I put Maelsha’s soul into another body? Would he himself be present in the body, living or dead? Would he come back?

I have to stop thinking about it.

Tsuyoshi’s notes Vol. 15: A New EraEdit

September 9, Year 46 of the Fifth Age
I’ve been taking care of a bird’s egg I found on the ground. It must have been knocked out of a nest. A miracle it survived. Today it cracked and a raven chick emerged. Perhaps this will help make my days slightly less lonely. I think I’ll name him Kibo.

September 20, Year 46 of the Fifth Age
At last I made contact with the people in the village, albeit in a rather unexpected way. A few days ago on the way back to my camp, I heard some children. They seemed worried, so I decided to approach them. It turned out that one of them had injured his leg. I healed him without a second thought. Of course, to these villagers Life essence is completely newfangled. The expression on their faces when the child stood up as if nothing had happened… It’s been a while since I actually had fun with something.

I helped them back to their homes. Since then, the villagers have allowed me within their walls whenever I want. It’s rare to find sects like this one, both peaceful and with great skill in an element.

November 16, Year 47 of the Fifth Age
I have to leave for a while. My partners contacted me using their soul fragments. They talked of a sect called Nisshoku, of great numbers ruled by an empress. Apparently she is considered a goddess. Nisshoku are sweeping through the land, massacring many. My command of Life is needed. The other sages believe this is the beginning of a new era...

YUKI’S CHRONICLESEdit

Yuki’s chronicles Vol. 1: Beyond the WallsEdit

Everything was easier back then. All we had to worry about were the ceremonies held for Amaterasu, our Sun Goddess. Our only contact with the outside world was the merchants who stopped by our gates from time to time. The gates of that isolated village out near the mountains.

I used to wonder how it would feel to travel the world, learn about different cultures, meet people adept in different essences… We used to grab adventure where we could. The four of us used to sneak out, climb the blacksmith’s hut, and hop down the other side of the village walls. A drip of adventure that would quench our thirst for days. Our parents always found out, of course. And we were always punished. But it was worth it.

My father used to say that as you get older the lure of adventure ebbs away. That you begin to appreciate what you have in front of your nose, rather than what’s beyond the horizon. I never relished that thought as a child. But I could never have predicted the appearance of Master Tsuyoshi. Or how much he would change everything.

Yuki’s chronicles Vol. 2: The Old SageEdit

I remember it as if it were yesterday. We’d played outside too late and were rushing back home, making a game of it. Hikaru tried to leap over a pile of rocks, but didn’t make the jump. We saw his leg slip through the rubble, heard his leg crunch. We watched him turn whiter than the moon. We tried to get him out, but he almost fainted from the pain. It was nearly night time. We had never stayed out beyond the village walls that late before. We heard tell of desert creatures who would drag you back to their lairs – vicious giant birds and scorpions with huge tails like scythes.

Then it appeared. A tall figure with a long beard and green vestments, holding a staff and walking slowly toward us. Our blood froze. By the time we noticed the shape, it was already at Hikaru’s side, pointing its withered staff at the wrenched leg. It said in a calm voice, breaking a long silence, “Stand up.”

I got a closer look at the person while he addressed Hikaru. The figure was an old man, and he wasn’t scary at all. In fact, he emanated an aura of utter tranquility. We almost didn’t notice when Hikaru stood up as if nothing had happened to his leg. The four of us were staring at the old man. With a kind smile, he broke the silence again and said, “Shall I take you home?”

Yuki’s chronicles Vol. 3: TransitionsEdit

Master Tsuyoshi’s arrival in our village was disruptive. We hadn’t had an outsider stay with us for decades. Having a stranger in our midst, and one who wasn’t a Light adept, put everyone on edge. He was granted entry, but almost everyone just tried to avoid him… the same way they avoided everything new and different. But Master Tsuyoshi never took offense. He just focused on our rituals and studied our Light practices, which he found fascinating. The Master said he had been living in the mountains nearby, not far from where he had found us on our doomed adventure. It was part of his pilgrimage, he said.

After a few months, everyone else in the village began to accept him too. Bit by bit, even the most resentful and intolerant couldn’t deny how valuable he was: he brought true healing and new wisdom to our ways. Tolerance built like muscle on bone, and eventually acceptance blossomed in the hearts of the other villagers.

We enjoyed Master Tsuyoshi’s company for a long time. Eventually, he said he had to return to his guild – they needed him for an assignment. He left us a stronger clan than we were before. Wiser, more capable. It felt like we could handle anything.

Until the day the Nisshoku arrived.

Yuki’s chronicles Vol. 4: Nisshoku’s InvasionEdit

Two months after Master Tsuyoshi’s departure, a group of around thirty men appeared. Their leader said they were humble nomads crossing the steppe. They wanted to stop for provisions, offered us trade... Before Master Tsuyoshi came, the village would never have accepted trade with strangers like that, but now things were different.

They attacked the moment they realized we didn’t use Light essence for combat. It was the third night after they arrived. A massacre ensued. My people didn’t stand a chance. Hikaru, Ryo, Sora, and I were outside during the attack, on one of our escapades. We ran back the moment we saw the smoke… Until we heard the screams.

And then we saw him, beneath the Nisshoku flag. The man with the patch over one eye. His sword dripping with blood. His face impassive but for a slight tug at the corners of his lips. He noticed us immediately and commanded a man to come and kill us. We tried to escape, but the man cast shadows ahead of himself and slipped through them, reaching us in seconds.

Yuki’s chronicles Vol. 5: Thirst of VengeanceEdit

As the commander’s henchman reached for Hikaru, Sora shut her eyes and cast a Light barrier around us. We’d never applied Light essence in combat before, but it only took Sora’s sharp mind a moment to seize the opportunity. Then our pursuer began to laugh... He knew her barrier would save us for a few seconds at most.

But just as the barrier began to fade, Ryo struck at the man with all his soul. We’d never seen anything like it. He threw a powerful flash which sent the man reeling backwards, and gave us time to start running.

We survived. He couldn’t have recovered before we made it to the forest. But now we were alone, in the middle of a vast emptiness. The mountain and the village were the only places we knew in the entire world. At first we felt… an emptiness. After days – painful days – of trudging on in silence, the emptiness gave way to melancholy. We sobbed. We were the clan’s only survivors. Hikaru’s sorrow came out in boar-like grunting and groaning. Sora would stay silent for hours, then unleash a single, long scream like a banshee. Ryo’s face turned bright red and his features twisted into a permanent, silent grimace.

Ultimately, however, the melancholy soured… into thirst. A thirst for revenge. They were all dead. We alone bore the clan’s name. We would work together to do to these men what they had done to us.

Yuki’s chronicles Vol. 6: ReconquestEdit

Ryo saved us. We might have died in that desert had it not been for him. He helped us see that we had potential within us, a potential none of us had seen until that point. He recalled what he had seen in Sora and himself that night, when we were on the cusp of death. We knew how to use Light essence. We just had to think laterally, to apply our thinking to battle instead of faith and tilling soil. We talked about retaking our home. We thought that perhaps some of our clan were being held as prisoners.

It took six months. We trained without rest, using rudimentary weapons I prepared in the evenings. Every time the sun set, the likelihood of seeing our families grew ever smaller… Our first step was to go and scout our village.

It had become a Nisshoku camp. It was guarded by at most ten men. Taking it would be risky, but we had waited too long. Anger was burning in our eyes, a molten metal flowing from furnaces in our skulls. We crept in by daylight at noon, when the Shadow essence would be at its weakest. Our first priority was to look for survivors.

I still can’t find the words to describe what we found.

Yuki’s chronicles Vol. 7: The Inside of the TempleEdit

After scouting the village, we noticed that the temple to Amaterasu was boarded up and locked. Its door destroyed, blocking any entry. Sora noticed this stood out from the rest of the village, so we decided to investigate.

Squeezing through the cracks in the rubble, we were struck by a foul stench. Besides Amaterasu’s great statue, nothing was visible in the darkness. We could feel the fumes, the rot, permeating our skin.

Eventually our eyes got used to the dark. In the shade were bodies. Strewn at random, or in piles, or shackled to the walls. The ones that had survived the Nisshoku attack were here, but they weren’t survivors. Family, friends, colleagues… all stuffed, rotting, into the very building where we paid respects to our goddess. In coming years we would discover that Nisshoku’s men had performed horrible experiments on the prisoners they took. “Research” into what made our command of the Light essence so powerful.

The emptiness we felt in the mountains after the attack returned. Words, language, meaning left us. We felt everything and nothing. Ryo and Hikaru couldn’t stop watching the corpses. I didn’t dare. I could feel my mind fraying at the seams.

Sitting with my eyes shut tight, suddenly there was an explosion. Sora and I turned to find Ryo and Hikaru gone. The temple’s buckled entrance was blown open.

Yuki’s chronicles Vol. 8: The Taste of VengeanceEdit

We left the temple immediately and caught a glimpse of Ryo and Hikaru’s figures leaping across the rooftops. The Nisshoku guards came running. Ryo and Hikaru… I’ve never seen men fight like that – before or since. They went berserk, leaping on Nisshoku soldiers like tigers, tearing out throats, faces, chests. Sora and I ran after them, trying to keep up, but they were inhumanly fast. The Nisshoku men didn’t stand a chance. They didn’t expect any sort of attack, let alone a full-frontal assault, in plain daylight, in an isolated village, from four kids.

After a few minutes we realized they were all dead. All of the Nisshoku men. And that was it. The moment we all had been dreaming of for almost a year. The moment we took control and avenged our village.

But it didn’t feel like we had imagined it. Not at all.

Yuki’s chronicles Vol. 9: A Vast WorldEdit

We were lost again. But unlike our lonely journey into the wild, we were safe at home – where our lives and history were in rotting tatters. Defeating our village’s attackers resulted in the same outcome: loneliness… But now with the weight of those dead men weighing heavily upon us.

We almost didn’t notice when Kibo appeared in the skies. His broad, black form was like the very embodiment of Amaterasu’s messenger, bringing us hope.

Master Tsuyoshi had sent Kibo to check on the village. The sage had created a link between his soul and the bird, so we knew following Kibo on his long flight home would be a safe decision. We set off, without speaking a word between us, walking just behind his shadow.

As we walked, our eyes opened. More and more, hour upon hour, day upon day. We realized a vast world was in front of us. We didn’t trust, or even speak to, anyone to begin with. But every new place and culture we encountered fascinated us. Weeks later, we understood our place in a bigger picture. In a larger conflict.

Yuki’s chronicles Vol. 10: The Seed of KaihoEdit

The more we travelled, the more we saw, the more we learned… the more we realized how deep and broad the scars left by Nisshoku were. Across the entire continent. They said Nisshoku were born from an ancient guild of assassins. A sect with hundreds of followers. Their leader, whom they called the “Shadow Empress,” was considered a goddess. They said her power was extraordinary. Her objective was apparently nothing less than the destruction of all Light brotherhoods they could find… but they made no distinctions. Any non-Darkness guild would fall at their feet.

On the road we met one broken family after another. Entire cultures that had met the same fate as our own. But we met people who wanted to fight back too. People that wanted to avenge their loved ones, people who wanted their lives back, people who wanted to live without fear. They had the will, but lacked the guidance. They needed a common leader.

Yuki’s chronicles Vol. 11: Re-encounterEdit

Eighteen months had passed since our journey began. Seeing the wreckage left in Nisshoku’s wake, we grew in strength and wisdom, and learned just how much damage Nisshoku had caused.

Eventually, after following Kibo for months, he began descending rapidly, rushing to his final destination. As we reached where Kibo had landed, we were greeted by the bright smile of Master Tsuyoshi. Meeting him again almost felt like coming home.

We talked. We talked for a long time. About the past few months. About what Nisshoku had done to the world. The Master had seen their work first hand too. In fact, he had left us because his brotherhood had given him a mission: teaching the command of Life essence to all brotherhoods under Nisshoku attack. Just to give them a slightly better chance. But licking wounds wasn’t the solution. Sooner or later someone had to do something, and the Master knew it. When we told him that we were determined to lead a counterattack, he hardly looked surprised. After a short pause, he said, “Well. Your classes start tomorrow.”

Yuki’s chronicles Vol. 12: The Last ResortEdit

Master Tsuyoshi taught us the basics of manipulating Life essence. I had read legends about it, but still the countless uses Master Tsuyoshi revealed amazed me. He taught us how to control our inner peace. How to block the inner peace of others. How to heal any wound. There was little wonder why he was considered a sage.

For a Light adept like me, using another essence was like trying to write with the wrong hand (I must say, however, that yours truly was the first to attune to it – and with ease). This new essence took the form of a green flame when summoned. It felt like spring water rippling through your soul. Peaceful… That is, until the Master taught us how to apply it in combat.

Applied to combat, Life essence allows one to heal wounds at incredible speed. But it doesn’t end there. Certain techniques allow you to transfer part of your own soul to someone else, or vice versa, temporarily. You can empower yourself with another’s soul, and drain their own essence. But this technique is difficult to control. Breaking the body–soul balance like that… The potential consequences were terrifying.

And just when we thought we had learned all we could, when we thought Master Tsuyoshi’s teaching was slowing down… he gave us one last piece of wisdom. “The technique I’m going to show you now was branded as forbidden long ago,” he said. “It is risky. Dangerous. It should only be used as a last resort. If all else fails... it could help you defeat the Shadow Empress.”

Yuki’s chronicles Vol. 13: Building an ArmyEdit

Once we finished training with Master Tsuyoshi, we started recruiting. We already had allies from the various villages and cities we had passed through, and after reaching out to those we met, the word spread and others started to come to us. There were adepts from all the clans, of various essences and practices – even people who weren’t adepts. Not all of them were ready to fight, but most of them had potential.

Only one thing was missing from our preparations: Light. Teaching people to use Light, our best offense against Nisshoku’s Shadow, would take years we didn’t have. We only had time for the basics, and that wouldn’t be enough… Then I came up with an idea.

During our travels we had found huge veins of a rare mineral called Hikalcum, which can store and emit Light essence. If we could infuse our army’s weapons with Hikalcum, it would barely matter how inept a soldier was with Light essence… Our Light “charge” would empower them. I tested it, and it proved successful. I even infused our four weapons with the mineral as well. This simple action would make the difference in the war to come.

After six months of preparation, our army was ready. With Ryo, Hikaru, Sora, and I as its leaders, our newly formed brotherhood was ready to put an end to Nisshoku’s reign. Kaiho was born.

Yuki’s chronicles Vol. 14: The War to ComeEdit

March 20, Year 10 of the Sixth Age.
The last preparations have been made. We depart next week.

I hardly can sleep. My heart is in my throat. This is the moment we all have been waiting for. At least recalling these memories, all that we have achieved, has calmed me a little. Looking back, the change within us gives me strength – from children living blissfully ignorant of how big the world was, to leaders of an army.

The men are anxious. I can hear them pacing in their tents nearby. They are fed not by water or food, but by a passion for revenge. To destroy Nisshoku. Even Master Tsuyoshi is going to fight, despite his age. He has learned how to use Light essence almost as well as us native adepts.

I wonder how I’ll feel once I see the high walls of Kyuryu, Nisshoku’s capital. I wonder how I will feel when the Shadow Empress shows herself to us… They say her power is such that she can kill dozens of men in the blink of an eye. But we won’t hesitate. We’ve come this far. Our Sun Goddess lights our path. We will win.

Yuki’s chronicles Vol. 15: A Bitter VictoryEdit

June 3, Year 10 of the Sixth Age.
It shouldn’t have ended like this.

True victory was almost within reach. Just beyond our grasp. But even after Ryo… Even then, we couldn’t stretch that last inch.

The rumors about the Shadow Empress were true. They didn’t exaggerate one bit. In the end we had to use the Forbidden Technique to trap her, and now we suffer the consequences. I can feel her in my chest. It gets worse if we are close together, so we have hardly seen each other since… I hope the talismans serve us well...

Some say that we won. Indeed, perhaps we decimated Nisshoku’s forces. Perhaps we trapped their empress. But it didn’t feel like a victory. Not at all. This is only a temporary peace. She’ll do anything within her power to free herself. We have to avoid that at all costs. So we will guard this place. All the sacrifices we’ve made won’t be in vain.

Yuki’s chronicles Vol. 16: PainEdit

March 10, Year 15 of the Sixth Age
This pain is becoming unbearable. Master Tsuyoshi once described what having a corrupted soul felt like, but I could never have imagined it would be this extreme... I wish he was still with us. He and Ryo.

It gets worse every day. “Pain” doesn’t even come close: it’s in my soul. I feel it every minute, every second… I hear her voice in my head telling me to give up. Imploring me. There’s no way I can sleep. Passing some of it to Kibo barely alleviated my pain, and now he has part of her within him. We have to keep him confined.

I contacted Hikaru and Sora. They will help me pass another part to another adept. It’s risky, but I can’t hold on anymore. If only I were stronger.

More great stories about ninjas!

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Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge


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