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Hyo's chronicles are written documentations of historical events written from Hyo's perspective.

Volumes[]

Vol. 1: The Four Symbols[]

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.

 Vol. 2: Dakudaga[]

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.

Vol. 3: A Bright Full Moon[]

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?

Vol. 4: Enchantment[]

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.

Vol. 5: Waste of Time[]

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.

 Vol. 6: Anger[]

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.

Vol. 7: A Long Search[]

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.

 Vol. 8: White Hair and Blue Eyes[]

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.

 Vol. 9: The Little Savage[]

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.

Vol. 10: Back to Society[]

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.

Vol. 11: The Fox, the Snake, and the Dragon[]

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.

 Vol. 12: Great Potential[]

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.

\Vol. 13: A Light Fortress[]

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.

Vol. 14: Goddess (1)[]

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.

Vol. 15: Goddess (2)[]

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.

 Vol. 16: Nisshoku[]

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.

Vol. 17: The Right Hand of the Goddess[]

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.

Vol. 18: Prosperity[]

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.

Vol. 19: The Name Kaiho[]

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.

Vol. 20: Kaiho Strikes[]

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.

Vol. 21: A Deep Wound[]

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.

 Vol. 22: Mausoleum of the Fallen[]

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.

 Vol. 23: The Only Chance[]

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.

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