2 Etiquette (Flirtation)
4 Cursed by the Realm: Chikushido
4 Sworn Enemy: (I stole his sword... After sleeping with his daughter.)
4 Benten's Blessing
6 Luck II
6 Torigu Blade: 3k3 Katana, Unbreakable; -2 to target's Reduction.
Clan Yamamori dwells high in the mountains of what may one day be Dragon Clan lands. A great mountain spring feeds a series of waterfalls. Racing down the mountains—augmented by run off in the spring—the waterfalls feed small wetlands in three high dales. It then runs through a mountain forest where it splits into two around a shrine older than time. Beneath the mountain forest, each river feeds wetlands in two more dales.
The people of the mountain forest—the Yamamori—have inhabited these lands since time immemorial. A peaceful people, they find prosperity growing rice in the wet lands, hunting mountain goats and bounding deer, herding goats, harvesting the eggs of wild birds, and spearing the great salmon with chirt headed spears when they run upstream. Their rival is the mountain, not the enemy. Young men and brave women challenge themselves by scaling peaks and dancing over ridges. Sometimes these are ritual challenges—like the young men’s coming of age rite. Other’s it is merely for enjoyment. They hunt with slings—save for the salmon—sometimes carrying clubs gathered in the wood for defense. The older folk seek wisdom in the woods, and on high peeks. They share stories of what they’ve learned beginning in this fashion. “I was walking (in the woods/on the mountain) and a (snake/rock/leaf/flower) told me…”
They are a level headed people, long legged and beefy. Though sometimes emotional, they are not given to panic—especially not over heights. Some of their most skilled young men and brave women have played so long on the cliff faces that they are as nimble as the mountain goats. These people have learned—when threatened by bandits or brawling with restless neighbors—to lure their foes into precarious balance.
* * *
Since time out of mind, the Yamamori have known that trolls lived on the far side of the mountains. Through the blessing of distance, brawls with these mighty beings have been few and far between, but their empire has spread over the generations. Their blood has mingled with captive maidens since time immemorial, ‘til they are almost human, but still tall and strong, with hints of unnatural resilience that their greatest warriors can train and advance. They know the secrets of steel. Though many are their tributaries and vassals, too mine the depths of the earth is the soul right of their citizen warriors.
For the last three generations, the Yamamori have come into increasing contact and conflict with the Children of Iron. 7 years ago, they came in enough force to demand tribute from the 7 valleys, and have done so regularly since. The Yamamori fear the day when Iron’s Children will come—not for tribute—but for total conquest.
* * *
Hotaka's father herds goats on the hillsides of the second valley. A motivated child, Hotaka worked hard at the family buisness but the goats loathed him. He learned more about leaping away from angry head butts than he did about herding and milking. Even the dogs were distant. He was offered a chance to work in the rice paddies with his aunts family, but didn't particularly fancy the idea.
Instead, he trained with the sling so that he could be a hunter. At his coming of age, he climbed into the cliffs for three days and two nights with no food--only water. On the third night he topped a cliff and found his grandfather's ghost waiting for him.
He learned that the old man had not expired peacefully meditating in the mountains but rather had wandered far from home--into the lands of a neighboring clan. There he found a Torigu raid in process and tried to protect a young woman fleeing the battle. A Torigu warrior had split the blade of his trusty war club and cut him down.
With his grandfather's rather insitent blessing, he joined the hunter's society. Before entering into the sacred forest in search of his war club, he prayed to the forest spirits to give him a weapon that could triumph against the Torigu's katana.
In a strange way, they answered his prayer, for after many hours of wandering the woods, he came upon--not a heavy oak cudgel--but a slender, curved branch that would easily yeild the shape of one of the Torigru's own blades.
That year, the Torigru conquered the clans to the imediate west and began regular raids against the Yamamori. For months, he interspersed his hunting with spying on the Torigru, studying how they used their blades. On his niteenth birthday, hree years later, he accepted his grandfather's assurance that he was ready.
Sneaking into Torigu teritory, he found a young woman doing laundry at the river. He wooed her into the evening, stealing only a kiss at sunset.
She came back the next day and he wooed her still, enjoying more physical companionship before she returned home. On the last night, they snuck into her home together and enjoyed each other 'til just before sunrise. Then her father returned from the mines. He was nine inches taller than Torigru with fantasticly broad shoulders. Torigru didn't hesitate, but snagged the man's sword from above his bed and dove past the giant, out the door, and fled into the night.