The Savage Tide
This angsty devilish samurai-ranger travels with his irreverent axiomatic hawk, Poth, in search of new ways to be put upon.
Class: Yojimbo (Ranger) 6 Totemic Demonslayer 6
Current XP: 90,540
Race: Human (formerly tiefling)
Alignment: Lawful Neutral
Ability Scores: Str 16, Dex 18, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 16, Cha 16
Senses: Spot 13, Listen 6
Initiative: 6, Dual Katana/Wakizashi 13/8 vs evil outsiders, +2 vs animals)
Languages: Common, Shou, Infernal, Abyssal, Celestial, Draconic
Fiendish Bloodline, Outsider Wings, Two-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Focus (Daisho), Leadership, Improved Critical (Daisho)
Skills: Bluff +4, Climb +3, Craft(Armorsmithing) +9, Craft(Weaponsmithing) +8, Craft(Tattoo) +2, Diplomacy +17, Disable Device +6, Intimidate +5, Knowledge(Geography) +4, Knowledge(Nature) +12, Knowledge(Nobility) +6, Knowledge(Planes) +15, Open Lock +9, Profession(Sailor) +4, Profession(Soldier) +9, Search +6, Sense Motive +14, Survival +20, Swim +5
Equipment: Chrysanthemum Blade (+1 Katana), +1 Wakizashi, Mwk. Light Crossbow, Lesser Fiendslayer/Lifedrinking crystal, lesser Fiendslayer crystal, least Ironward Diamond, +4 Mithral Breastplate, Cloak of Resistance +1, Periapt of Wisdom +4, Healing Belt(6 charges), Gauntlets of Ogre Power, Ring of Protection +1
Funds: 1,519gp 15sp 2cp
History of Clan Tenryu
A nation as large, as populated, and as old as Kara-Tur is sure to have a long and convoluted history, particularly in light of Kara-Tur’s highly bureaucratic and imperialistic ruling class. In such a rich history there are bound to be forgotten tales, records of lives of people who have fallen out of memory for a variety of reasons. Now, thousands of miles and hundreds of years from its point of origination, one tale comes to the surface, for it has far-reaching implications.
Approximately 900 years ago, a small branch family of the mighty Dragon Clan traveled to the far reaches of their traditional lands escaping war and famine. After many weeks of desperate travel through inhospitable plains and ragged hills this weary group of migrants came to a sheltered valley lying in the shadow of the fabled mountain Tenzan, home of the reclusive yet benevolent T’ien Lung, Daishantaro. With the heavenly dragon’s blessing, the travel-weary family settled the valley, setting about building houses, planting fields, and raising a grand castle. The family took the name Tenryu, in honor of the valley’s patron and guardian, under whose protection and guidance the inhabitants prospered.
After nearly two decades of isolation, the minor clan Tenryu set out to reestablish ties with the Shou empire, which welcomed them gladly. The Dragon clan, of which Tenryu was originally a part, was at the same time greedy and apprehensive, its competing nobles desiring the wealth of the Tenzan valley for themselves but distrusting its protected status, not wishing to compete with a minor clan boasting a live dragon for dominion of the entire province. Thus began a subtle and drawn-out campaign of subversion of the Tenryu clan.
At first, visiting spies and nobles of the Dragon clan were disheartened by the almost total lack of corruption in the isolated valley holding. With the honorable Daishantaro as a behind-the-scenes advisor in most affairs, the people of the valley remained upstanding (if reclusive) citizens of the empire for many decades. However, after about two centuries of trade and cultural exchange with the rest of the empire, the Tenryu clan became steadily weaker, more petty and worldly than before, and a disappointed Daishantaro visited the people of the valley less often.
The ultimate decline of the Tenryu clan began roughly 500 years ago, as the aging lord of the clan died leaving an honorable but weak-willed son, Hitaro, and a kind and beautiful daughter named Tsuki. By this time, an aging, unnamed mystic had lived at the Tenryu castle for years, and had assumed the position of advisor to the previous lord and his family. Not much is known of this mystic, though his devil-lore was reputed to be great, fueled by dark treatises on evil extraplanar beings, gained in trade from kingdoms far to the west. Using this knowledge, the mystic apparently coerced the young lord Hitaro into binding himself and his family to “certain supernatural entities” that would assuredly grant the Tenryu clan the power it needed to rise to prominence in the empire. Lured by false promises, Hitaro bound himself to the devil-lord Levistus, one of the rulers of the Nine Hells in a pact of unknown terms. At first, the only obvious result of the pact was the appearance of five darkly beautiful women with blazing eyes that served Hitaro as bodyguards and concubines, though their conquests among other men of the clan were infamous. Hitaro himself seemed to change over time, becoming cruel, frightening, and more unstable by the day. He ruled the valley with an iron fist, demanding absolute devotion and loyalty to him and his “baatezu allies.” Eventually, his five “bodyguards” openly revealed themselves to be erinyes devils. This went on for years, culminating with Hitaro’s marriage to his sister, Tsuki. It was soon after this blasphemous event that Hitaro dropped the remaining vestiges of his humanity, fully succumbing to the possession of a lesser Aspect of Levistus. The Aspect and his devilish forces went to work populating the once-proud clan with half-fiends and tieflings, the most prominent of which being the cursed offspring of Tsuki, who, after much suffering, died during the birth of her fifth child.
The now-corrupted Tenryu clan managed to hide its fiendish nature from the rest of the empire for many years, quietly amassing its resources in preparation for a campaign of conquest. It was at this point that Daishantaro awoke from troubled sleep, and witnessing the depths to which the clan had sunk the great dragon left the valley in search of allies. Finally gaining the support of the empire, as well as the considerable support of the Dragon clan, anxious to atone for its mistakes, Daishantaro and his allies descended upon the valley some twenty years ago. The destruction of the once-proud Tenryu clan was swift and brutal. The battle was fierce, claiming many lives but also resulting in the eventual defeat of the Aspect of Levistus and his erinyes guards at the claws of Daishantaro. After the battle, the imperial legions were sent home, and the great dragon sealed the scarred remains of the valley for all time.
And through it all, no one had realized that several of clan Tenryu’s younger members had managed to escape the carnage…
History of Kira Tenryu: Part 1
Since I have been pestered mercilessly for details of my past (most impolite, I assure you) I have decided to get it all over and done with in one go, and set it down in ink so I am not forced to repeat myself.
I was born some two decades or so ago in the castle of my family, Clan Tenryu, and left it but once in my life. My mother I never knew, as she died at my birth, or more likely, as she was no longer needed, shortly thereafter. Of my father, unfortunately, I know a good deal more. My father was hateful, violent, arrogant, authoritarian and devious. He was a lecher, a drunkard, a murderer, a despoiler, and a tyrant. He was cruel to everyone, and beat the servants to the point of death and beyond. Actually, he was fairly mild compared to the rest of my family.
I only have a few good memories of my father. On the (not infrequent) occasions that he had drowned his wits in drink he played the flute with a haunting beauty. If he had any decency in his soul, it cried out then. On other occasions he would tell stories in a drunken, rambling, meandering narrative, mostly about gory battles that had never happened, or had happened far away, or were yet to come. And sometimes he would lose himself in memories and talk about my mother.
Apparently, my mother was a commoner of extraordinary beauty. My father happened to catch a glimpse of her in the village and, entranced, followed her as she made her way out of the town and deep into the green bamboo forest. It was there, at an old, run-down and well-hidden spirit-shrine, of which my mother was the caretaker, that my father caught her. She was the most beautiful creature he’d ever seen, and it wrenched his black soul to look at her. But, being what he was, he did to her what he customarily did to everything else that he desired: attacked, overpowered, stole and ultimately consumed.
So, unlike the rest of my siblings, my mother was human. My older brothers were cambions, spawned from dusky-skinned women with black-feathered wings and burning eyes. They were vicious. When I grew old enough to train with the sword they tried to wound me as often and as painfully as possible. When I became good enough with a sword to cut them back occasionally, they started trying to kill me. Certainly no one would have cared. I was young, and weak, and worth nothing to the rest of my family except as one more bit of fiendish blood in the world to advance their agenda, whatever it was.
When I wasn’t being mutilated by my siblings, mentally abused by my father, or humiliated by the rest of my family, I spent my time in my room with a fussy human tutor named Kintaro. I will never understand why he remained at the castle, serving my family for all those years. It must have been unpleasant for him. I was a disinterested student at best, hostile at worst. Whether because of my family’s nobility or reputation, the fact that I myself was a little hellion, or because he was a genuinely nice man, he never spoke sharply to me.
After I came to the conclusion that Kintaro wasn’t likely to try to kill me, we settled into a wary teacher-student relationship. He taught me the rules of formal society, how to be poised and tactful, polite and flattering, how to discern a man’s motivations from his attitude and posture, and how not to give away my own emotions. To a lesser degree, he taught me basic geography, philosophy, and the common tongue spoken by the barbaric peoples of the far West, perhaps out of some obscure foresight. And anytime my attention wandered, my tutor would bring me back with some strange tale from distant lands. Given my life situation, my hunger for knowledge of faraway places was understandable, I think.
So, after years of fighting when I knew I could win, running when I knew I couldn’t, and generally making sure I wasn’t a nuisance, I managed to survive to adolescence. And through all this, in the shadows behind our family, ruling from a throne in deep rooms of the castle that no one was ever permitted to see, was the monster that, according to my tutor, had thoroughly corrupted my once-great family: my great-grandfather, the Tai-Oni, the arch-devil, Levistus.
But then, in a flash, it was all gone. Armies came from the east, and a great dragon, the voice of heaven, descended upon us, intent on purging the abomination that our family’s fiendish sire brought into being, including me. I remember being very afraid. The screams, the roaring, the shaking ground, the howling wind, they all spoke of death. It was my tutor that saved me, coming for me in the night, telling me to grab a few possessions for the road, and spiriting me away through a disused tunnel underneath the castle, and away from the conflict.
We were on the road for many weeks then, going from town to town, ever westward. I was silent for most of the journey, withdrawing into myself and keeping my hood over my head (at my tutor’s request) so that the people we passed would not be alarmed. Seeing my family being wiped out was as disturbing as the open road leading from my home was exciting and terrifying.
Our destination turned out to be a small monastery that my tutor had visited many years earlier. I remember walking through the place with a mixture of awe and jealousy at the orderly elegance and preternatural calm that pervaded every rock, plant and person there. The abbot, a kindly old man named Zhensong, seemed to recognize Kintaro, and they continued to talk well into the night. The next morning, I awoke to discover that my tutor was leaving me there at the monastery, in the care of Zhensong, and that I should behave myself. This last seeming betrayal was too much for me at that point, still wound tightly by my narrow escape weeks before, and I reacted violently, out of rage and frustration. But before I knew it, Zhensong had moved, faster than I could hope to follow, and suddenly I was on my ass, dazed. With that, Kintaro left us to spend the next three days and nights praying at the monastery’s main shrine. On the dawn of the fourth day we found that he had passed away in the night.