Life and Betrayal
Born in Japan, Kurosawa and his parents moved to America when he was young. Circumstance wasn’t in their favor, and both of his parents died soon after coming to the US. Takehiko was sent into foster care, moved from family to family, only speaking in Japanese to those families he disliked (which was quite a few).
It wasn’t until his teenage years that a middle-aged Japanese man, Oshiro Hiroto, wanted to adopt him. Oshiro’s motives were not altruistic; being a Yakuza lieutenant, he wanted young men to use as foot soldiers for the organization. Oshiro took Takehiko to Oshiro Daichi’s (the leader of the Yakuza in San Francisco) home on the cliff-sides.
From then on, he stayed in Yakuza-protected housing downtown, being trained as a grunt for the organization. His first task was getting protection money from a China shop, led by a more veteran member of the Yakuza, and armed with bats. This went on for months, until Takehiko showed his prowess in battle against a gang of hooligans. With his willingness to kill for the organization and his combat potential, he began to receive training as a hitman. This training continued for over 2 years.
His first job as a hitman was back at the China shop he went to for his first mission in the Yakuza. The owner, Mr. Tang, stepped over the line, threatening Yakuza members with a shotgun. Kurosawa dealt with them without remorse, killing both father and son, sending a message to everyone else who may oppose the Yakuza.
His assassinations go on for another 4-5 years, with the targets becoming either higher stakes, or more morally questionable as time goes on. The Yakuza has you killing women, children, unarmed men, and so on. It is always done in the name of the Yakuza, and always comes with a sizable pay out. Kurosawa cares little for the people he killed, most of them not even becoming a memory to him.
One night, rain battering against the buildings, Kurosawa was given a new target, directly from Oshiro Hiroto himself. He was sent to the Bronze Dragon in Chinatown to kill an unnamed target. Early 20’s, Japanese, and what he was wearing was all Kurosawa was told. He went down to the restaurant, found his target out in an alleyway, and carried out his task without hesitation. It wasn’t until the task was down that he realized who he just killed, Oshiro Yuuto, the son of the Yakuza boss.
Kurosawa rushes to Oshiro Daichi’s home, currently devoid of guards. He rushes to Oshiro’s office, to find him faced away from the door, staring silently out the window. He doesn’t speak, or even acknowledge Kurosawa’s presence. It isn’t until Kurosawa turns his chair around the he sees the blood. Oshiro Daichi has been shot in the head. Both the Yakuza boss and his son are dead.
Kurosawa has little time to process his feelings about this, as he hears a sound behind them. Thinking it was Oshiro Daichi’s killer, he draws his sword, and turns to strike his target. His sword stops suddenly, with the loud clanging sound of metal clashing with bone. His eyes were met by the gaze of a creature made of jagged bone, empty voids of darkness in place of eyes. Using some sort of dark magic, the creature made Kurosawa’s bone explode, then disarmed and impaled him with his own sword.
Blood spilling from his mouth, and vision fading, Kurosawa saw Oshiro Hiroto stood behind the creature.
“I am afraid you have been misled. Daichi’s time had come to pass, and while I shall miss my brother greatly, he was standing in the way of progress. There are things in this world beyond your understanding, Takehiko.
“No ill will was meant towards you, we just needed someone to blame for all of this. If anything, it was a testament to your loyalty and skill as an assassin; I knew you would complete your task, without hesitation. With Yuuto and Daichi dead, I can take my place as head of the Yakuza.
“It is a shame you must die, you were like a son to me. “
Oshiro Hiroto left the Kurosawa to the demon’s mercy. The creature lifted Kurosawa from the ground, took him into the pouring rain,and dropped him over the railing, wrenching his sword from his gut as he fell.
Kurosawa crashed hard into the dark water below, and everything faded to black.
The Second Breath
It is unknown exactly how long Kurosawa spent in Yomi Wan, but it surely felt like eternity. Torture and damnation unending, the pain of the Thousand Hells cleaved away at Kurosawa, leaving nothing but hatred and revenge. The Dragon rose from his torment, with a thirst for vengeance. Nothing could stop the Dragon, not even Yomi Wan. The P’o clawed it’s way from hell itself, dragging Kurosawa back into the world of the living. He awoke at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, but hell itself couldn’t stop him, the immense weight of the water was nothing to him at this point.
He was back in the living world, but he wasn’t himself, he was a Chih-mei, a horrible creature forced to each flesh for the Chi it provides. He eats and eats, time passing in a haze, leaving Kurosawa with little memory of this time. One night, he encounters someone who isn’t afraid of the monster he is. With inhuman speed, they are upon him, slashing him apart with bones of blade extruding from their arm. Everything is dark once more.
He awakens in new clothes, in a Kuei-Jin temple in the heart of Chinatown. There, Harmonious Crane, the caretaker of the temple, began to teach Kurosawa about the way of the Kuei-Jin. IN the temple, he met his future Wu member, the Kuei-Jin seer and spirit talker, Yamazaki Shizuka.
He learned the strengths and weaknesses of the Kuei-Jin, the ways of Yin and Yang Chi, and the spirits of the world. Over time, he begins to manifest and learn the disciplines of the Kue-Jin, beginning with Yang Prana, then Jade Shintai, and eventually, Demon Shintai.
His knownledge of demon Shintai came suddenly, the Dragon forcing its way to the surface, taking control. Subdued by the elder Kuei-Jin, it was decided he finally needed a Dharmic path. With his violent life, and powerful P’o, it was decided he should follow The Howl of the Devil-Tiger:
1: Ride the Demon, do not let it ride you.
2: Glory in the fires of the flesh and the passions of the soul.
3: Teach others to live joyfully through pain.
4: Throw fear into the flames and encourage others to do likewise.
5: Do not hesitate — act!
6: Seek out the brightest embers and feed them until they become bonfires.
7: Meditate upon the flash of passion, the dazzle of its afterglow and the darkness that follows.
8: Be cultured in your passions and magnificent in your evil. Any imbecile can act like a madman; it takes true wisdom to become a devil.
More months passed, his training complete, his Dharmic path chosen, Kurosawa was ready for the Test of Fire and Water. The Test is a time of celebration, as well as a time of judgment, it is when the elder Kuei-Jin decide if the hin (non-persons, term for unproven Kuei-Jin) are ready to be considered members of Kuei-Jin society, or if their Second Breath was a mistake.
There where many tests Kurosawa faced, a show of disciplines, the ability to control his states, knowledge in his particular skill set (martial arts and sword play). In his attempt to show Demon Shintai, he managed to subdue his P’o, channeling its power without letting it take control.
With his final tests complete, Kurosawa and Yamazaki become a wu, almost like a Kuei-Jin family. Now, Kurosawa is unleashed upon the world, given a lifetime to settle his debts before he must aid the Kuei-Jin in their cause.