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Kaitana: Iron <2> Fist <Ahroun> Hakken <Shadow lord>

This is the way the world ends. Here I sit and write the account of my life as it leads to the new soil on which I stand and the new company of which I keep. I was not given to writing when I was very young as so many young girls seem to be, mine was a different path and I left the writing and record keeping to the half-moons where I believed it belonged but now I find myself so far from home with no storytellers to note my words and no scribes to mark the passing of days so I take up the pen myself and make my own account that when I pass to the realms of the Emerald Mother beyond the firmament where the things of flesh walk something of me might be left behind and I might be remembered.

It begins with my mother, Three Whispering Winds and my father, Storm of Shadows. In their youth they were proud Garou in their own right with many deeds of virtue behind their names and many kami in their debt for favors done and kindnesses shown. The minions of the Centipede shook when their howls rolled across the hills and valleys like a rising tempest and they sent many bakemono to the rest of the Mother. My mother was of No Moon birth and excelled at thee ways of stealth and illusion, my father was of Full Moon blood and in his wake no enemy remained. They were first united in the wars against the great Akuma Izikama Takari, a disciple of the Yomi world who rose to the Middle Kingdom to perform a great rite that would free his demonic master from the prison he had been banished to ages before by the sacrifices of the chosen of the mother. They were joined together in a wave sentai gathered from fearless young Hengeyokai hailing from all corners of the region.

The campaign against the corrupt Kuei-Jin lasted for 7 years and many died in its cause but my parents remained and when the doors to the Akumaís hidden temple finally came crashing down they were the only members of the original sentai present and my father had come to lead. But in this time they harbored a secret affection for each other that they kept silent so as not to shame their mission with the distraction. The battle with the corrupt vampire was long and bloody but when it drew to its close they stood triumphant over itís desiccating body. When they finally returned to their region weeks later my mother was with child conceived under the light of the full face of Tsuki-yomi, the giver of Rage and mistress of silver.

The pregnancy was a difficult one for I was a large child being but my father petitioned and was granted my motherís hand in transfer to his sept and he watched over us both with great Virtue. Life was difficult for them for a time but they loved and for their love the Mother was merciful. I was born on a winter night in December. I was born beneath the Full moon but there was an omen that night which comes across so rarely with our people, on the night of my birth the full moon was in eclipse. I was kissed by shadows and its marks were left in me. The shadow would follow me for the rest of my life, but one must take duty with existence. Such is the way.

Fate conspired against my parents. I have the memories of them in my heart.. My motherís kind face and my fatherís strong sense of honor. I was 5 when the darkness came for us. At midnight the Dragon Nest that was our home was attacked by a force of nightmares born at the heart of the Centipede. The Bakemono came in waves followed by their Kumo masters. They were a tide of misshapen things born to kill and let loose upon us. We were not a large Sept and why they came for us in such numbers I never learned. All I remember is my mother slipping her necklace around my neck and handing me to one of the kinfolk who had been my nursemaid for some time and then she assumed the war shape and rushed off to the defense of her home. We ran, we ran like hell itself was on our heels, my father had given my nursemaid orders for such an occurrence and his pack was strapped tightly to her back.

We crested the hill far above the battle, a Cloak of Darkness covering our escape and I looked down in horror at the massacre below. The monsters were armed with silver and firearms. Their misshapen minions were closing in on the final ring of defenders, my father in their leadÖand then the end came, the horde closed on them and my last vision of my father was him grappling with a Kumo as they savaged each other. The spider beast had a tattoo upon its arm; I will remember it until I see him once again and return his gift to me in blood.

In time we came to the sept of my uncle Kazimuri, the Thunderís Maw Dragon Nest. It was there that I was to make my home. My childhood was not a joyous one. I felt the loss of my parents terribly and my uncle was aloof from me. He had always believed me to be his brotherís disgrace but by his honor he kept me in his household and I was given to be trained as a proper Hakken. I was Full Moon born and it was his duty to see it done. I was a silent child, not so full of brashness and aggression and early on I chose the path of the assassin for I vowed that one day I would see my fatherís killer and make him suffer for what he had taken from me. How arrogant I was. How selfish.

The years passed as they were want to do. Life was consistent. I worked, I trained, I fought and I learned. I did not spend time in what I saw as useless recreation or silly games. In my rage and my vengefulness I robbed myself of a childhood. I was empty and it shined through in all that I did. I had few close companions among my Sept and fewer friends. I always chose to stay and guard the Nest rather then venture out with others unless there were rumors of the Kumo, in those occasions I pursued them with all I was and many of them coated my fatherís blade with their blood. My father had left me his legacy, an Assassinís Klaive forged in the far past of our line and I used it to avenge his memory.

In the spring of my 18th year the information I had been waiting for finally came, a Kumo with great power surfaced in a great castle in the east of Nagano. A council was put together and a war sentai was proposed to end the creature. The Kumo had been stealing children to indulge his appetites and had enlisted foreign vampires called Tzimisce to aid him. It was decided that I be allowed to avenge my father by joining the Sentai for this monster, Lord Hidoji, was the beast I had been seeking and I swore to challenge to the death any other placed where I should have been. So self-important I was.

The Sentai was gathered; Asakawa North Wind of the Tengu, Yoichi Ten Thunders of the Khan, Nakido Backstrike of the Nezumi and myself. We left at night fall and in three days of dangerous travel beset with spies of the enemy we eventually crossed into the deep cavern that had swallowed the great palace the beast now occupied. It had been taken by the earth during an earthquake and had now become a sore. From without the fortress seemed abandoned but that was an illusion. Within the catacombs below the Kumo and his retainers had been breeding Bakemono from the children and were amassing an army to storm the neighboring Dragon Nests. They were bloated fat with power lent to them by their gweilo allies who sought to clear nests of Kuei-Jin who had been interfering with their business.

When we crossed the threshold the great crack in the earth sealed behind us. From their bolt holes and their shadows they came, mockeries of youth and life. Beasts made only to kill. They were underdeveloped, still gaining their energies and we had powerful fetishes but even so the tide was so great we were almost overwhelmed at once. Slowly we gained the upper hand and drove them back to the deep where we pursued them, I will not record what we saw in those shattered halls and fallen temples beneath for they are things that stay with the soul and chase away sleep. At long last with stood at a great junction far below. To the right lay the chambers where those children who had not yet turned had been taken and in the center were the great iron doors of Hidojiís throne room.

It was here that our paths broke apart. The sentai chose to see to the children before dealing with Hidoji, I refused. I demanded to have my vengeance and when I was ordered to follow I disobeyed. I left then to their work and scaled the wall of the great gate and penetrated it in the Umbra, appearing on the other side and within the walls of a great tomb. The room had been hollowed out into a great honeycomb and in the center of it like a bloated tick squatted the beast itself, the Kumo Lord Hidoji. The creature was almost 16 feet tall and its abdomen was bloated with the churning of the eggs it incubated. Bonding them with dark spirits that would wait for the human child to be imprisoned within and begin the process of change. For now the creature was stuck in its own chamber, held there until its work was done and it could once again walk the land again and on its arm burned the mark I remembered from my youth.

In the war shape I howled my challenge to the beast and it raised its chitenous maw and shrieked like some manner of cross between a tiger and a woman screaming. From my pack I withdrew the tool each of us had been given the great cherry wood spear that was proof against the Kumo. I barely took a step when the monsters broke from the darkness and came for me. And were it not for my familiar spirit I would not have had the energy to face them all. The great Hidoji fired burning webs and tossed great stalactites at me from its perch and were it not for its own creatures I used as shields and my own speed I never would have made it. In a burst of speed I lurched foreword and hurled the spear with a bellow of rage and it struck the great arachnid in the black void it used as a heart. Only the gift of the cranes allowed me the skill to make the shot and as the black blood spilled from the wound I thanked the Ancestors for their gifts. The creatures saw the death of their master and fled back into the shadows as I raced foreword, broken and bleeding, and rammed the spear in deeper with the last of my strength.

In the aftermath the body of the Kumo shriveled and split apart, the detritus of its corruption sizzling on the ground. I found my way back through the great gate and hunted the right passage for my sentai. In my haste and my blindness I had left them and in the great hive chamber to the right, past a shattered iron door I found them, lying broken and bleeding amid piles of the dead. Some turning to dust even as I watched. I stood aghast at what my arrogance had wrought, my impetuousness had cost those that had become my friends their lives, had I been with them we could have all lived to tell the tales of the quest but now my failure was complete. Even in death Lord Hidoji had won. I emptied my stomach and fled the castle in tears as the remnants of Hidojiís forces hunted for me.

disgraced them, my self, my parents and my honor. I did not deserve to remain in the land of my Ancestors. I vowed that night to wander the worlds in search of the mother and beg her forgiveness, for I have none to give myself. I ran, and I am still running.