Toshiro Mifune

Mamasan's worried face suddenly appears as I wake up frightened in the night, her fingers pressed gently against my lips, begging for silence. Dim figures dash madly about in the periphery of my sight, to occasionally clash with the sound of blade on blade, ending in muffled groans. Mamasan takes me up in her arms and rushes through the darkness of the manor, dodging the warring figures that appear briefly in the torchlight. A turn is taken in the hallway, a horrific face of death and destruction appears, and just as suddenly a blade appears from underneath Mamasans night-clothes, making the face vanish as suddenly as it first came.

"Mamasan, what is happening?" I barely sputter, before she once again presses her hands against my lips and rushes into the darkness. After an eternity of madness and mayhem, the sound of her slippers pounding up a plank walkway ends with her handing me to a faceless stranger on a strange boat bouncing like a top on the stormy sea. The sounds of harsh men in pursuit sounds from the dock, and I see a cold look of calm and determination wash over Mamasan's delicate face and the sailor rushes me below decks. As I feel the vessel part from its brief union with the dock, I hear the clash of warriors outside as if from a distance. And for the first and last time, I hear Mamasan and her beautiful voice undulating in a strange battlecry. Kee-ai!

That ship was just the first of many voyages my Father and Mother were to take me on. My father would never speak of that night, or for that matter, the past again. Mother would whisper stories of when Mamasan would take me to watch the cherry blossoms fall, or to contemplate the simple beauty and symmetry of the stone garden in the manor we had fled. But she too, would never speak of that night.

Growing up in the strange land and peoples of Altene, my father worked as a Mercenary for various petty lords and mercenaries. They treasured his strong arm and strange but lethal combination of a long and short sword of cunningly wrought material. As I grew older I soon realized that my father had no intention of showing me the ways of our old home and his deadly skills, so what little I retain of my far-away homeland was learned from my mother.

Upon reaching my Eighteenth birthday, I bowed simply to my Father and Mother, slipped the gladius that an old Altenean veteran had bequeathed me in my belt, and walked off to the west.

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