These are your earliest memories, the memories that come to you in bleak nightmares of the past….
Kozien, your adoptive father, has told you the story several times over the years, but has always been careful to only speak of it with you and your brothers. You suspect that Qurut, the major domo, and Nastos, your adoptive uncle, also know the story, though it is the same story for each of you. Assassins sent to kill you at birth by an emperor from a distant land. Your family killed, but who’s killers were in turn defeated by Kozien. All of you born in the same year, The Year of the Jade Dragon, supposedly an auspicious year in which great things happened throughout the Empire of Keimusho where you currently live. Fire crackers were lit, incense was burned, festivals were had.
Your families were murdered…
Your Father, Kozien
Kozien is the only father that you have ever known, a tall, kindly man with a short, pointy black beard and a gentle voice. You realized early on that he was not of the same race as the people in the nearby village, but he had certainly taken on their customs and dress as though born to it. Kozien was helped in raising you, along with your brothers (the other PCs), by his major domo, Qurut, a man who seems to be of the same race as Kozien.
Your father is clearly a learned man and seems to know at least a little something about everything. He has always seemed a patient and loving father. At the end of every week, after all of the chores have been completed, Kozien will often tell tales of mythic places in lands far beyond those seen by mortal man. He speaks of evil beasts in the guises of men, of an immortal emperor who drinks the souls of mortals and of a dark prophecy once spoken long ago by a mystical seer.
Kozien is likely the person who taught you some of the more mystical fighting arts, as well as almost anything relating to magic. He is also occasionally called upon to provide counsel to a nearby daimyo, a landed noble by the name of Lord Atsumoto Hajiro. Lord Atsumoto’s walled town and estate are five days to the north east from your home.
Your Uncle, Nastos
When you were 10 years old (approximately ten years ago), you remember being awoken in the middle of the night by a deafening rumble that you at first feared was an earthquake. As you stumbled from your beds, you again heard the rumble. Some men were shouting outside in a language that you did not understand and, before you could summon the courage to peer through a window, you heard an ear-splitting roar accompanied by a light so bright that it seemed as though the sun had risen. When at last you unbolted a window, you saw a large…creature…being helped into the servant’s quarters.
Despite your curiosity and questioning, your father refused to tell you what had happened or what the creature was. Qurut suddenly found all manner of tasks to keep you busy and you found yourself too exhausted from the day’s activities to pursue the matter any further. Within a few weeks, however, you were introduced to a large, one-armed man named Nastos. Your father, Kozien, told you that Nastos had travelled a long way to help look after you all. Nastos is a big bear of a man with only one good arm and the faded remains of a tattoo on the stump of the other arm. He has a loud booming voice and a deep, earth-rumbling laugh. While he can occasionally be a little too “rough” for guests, he has always been good to you and spared time to take you out into the woods.
Nastos is likely the one who taught you about fighting and, while seeming to be a brawler at heart, is surprisingly agile and tactically aware for such a big man. Nastos is also incredibly strong – one day, when no servants were around, you saw him carrying a thick, thirty foot long log on his shoulder before Kozien called out to him and Nastos dropped the log as though it were suddenly too heavy for him. You are reasonably sure he feigned the burden, but you have never been able to catch him out again performing astounding feats of strength.
The Major Domo, Qurut
Where Kozien is tall and lean, Qurut is short and stout, a serious man with no time for small talk or niceties, though he performs his duties as a major domo with smooth aplomb. He handles guests with the most delicate of diplomacy and never seems to be surprised or flustered by anything. Despite the fact that Qurut has helped to take care of you since you were a baby, you have never seen him smile.
Qurut is likely the one who taught you about meditation and the powers of the mind, honing your chi to a razor’s edge. Qurut has very little tolerance for failure and will ruthlessly drill you over and over to get something right, even if it seems insignificant. At times, you swear that he enjoys inflicting pain upon you, though your father will hear none of it.
You live in a homestead set in a copse of woods about one day’s travel from the nearest village. The homestead is in the Empire of Keimusho and is fairly typical of architecture of the western part of the Empire. It is a compound with a series of buildings built around a central, open courtyard where a stone garden and pond full of koi are maintained. The buildings are surrounded by a high wall of thick, ancient stone and wood, designed to keep out marauding beasts and the darker creatures from the great, brooding swamp to the north west. Each room is built from wood and tastefully decorated with understated artwork from across the Empire. Indeed, some of your own artworks are likely to hang in various rooms throughout the compound. The nightingale floors are also made from wood and designed to deter stealthy visitors in the night.
Your day likely begins with thanks to Laari No-Ichidar, The Singer of Joy, Goddess of the Sun and the Morning. Afterwards, you get stuck into morning chores, including cleaning, cutting wood and, later, practising with katana, daikyo or magic. Once your morning practise has finished, you meet for morning breakfast, usually a small bowl of rice with soy sauce and grilled fish. After giving thanks to Hodero, Sharer of Bounties, God of Food and Wine, you spend time reading scrolls relating to art, history and poetry, then spend the rest of the day studying with your father, Nastos or Qurut. On most nights, you generally either have dinner with your brothers and sisters or your father. Once per week, everyone on the estate gathers together for a family dinner. It is at the end of these dinners that your father will tell you new stories about deserts in far away lands, about giants from the north who are made of ice or about the spirits who watch over the living.