Since times immemorial, fox spirits were honored in the Dawnlands as bringers of good fortune and the messengers of heaven. Though mischievous by nature, they were benevolent to mortals, and never was there quarrel dire enough to inspire bloodshed. Alas, things changed when Demonspawn armies conquered the Yakai. These new Masters were driven by hatred of everything pure and kind, and they sought to exterminate the spirits of the land to extinguish its very soul.
Like so many Yakai children, Karato had been torn from his family and raised as a murderer under the watchful eye of cruel tutors. But where most of those unfortunates were destined to become footsoldiers and raiders, the boy showed a knack for another kind of craft – hunting. And there was never a lack of prey in the Demon-ruled Dawnlands. Fugitives and rebels of all kinds were a threat to Siroth’s will, and not all of them could be defeated by force alone. That is why men and women like Karato were taught to stalk such dangerous targets, then a single, decisive stroke.
Karato excelled at that fearsome art. Though his masters were concerned about the lack of cruelty they tried to cultivate in all their servants, the hunter’s skill was beyond reproach. In time, Karato’s talents were brought to bear against the fox spirits that still dwelt in the ravaged kingdom. Many of those benign creatures fell to his bow and blade. Yet it was the moment Karato’s destiny turned towards the thorny path of redemption.
The last order he had ever carried out was to hunt Yumeko – one of the oldest kitsune still at large in the Dawnlands. Cunning she was, and fair as a cold winter’s morn. Few of those who sought her head returned alive to tell the tale, and thus the task fell to Karato at last. For weeks he followed sly Yumeko’s trail, and always she eluded him in the end with naught but parchments of scathing rhyme left behind or a glimpse that lasted just long enough to taunt her pursuer. But Karato also was a clever man. He joined the game which the fox had begun, and soon enough a strange sense of kinship blossomed amid that lethal dance.
And so it was at the turning of the third moon that Karato finally caught up with his prey, yet he found himself unable to notch an arrow even though he knew there would never be another chance to prevail. Heartbroken, he sunk to his knees and wept in Yumeko’s arms as he realized what evil he had wrought at the behest of demons. But all was not lost. Yumeko embraced her would-be slayer and told him of the good she saw in his heart. With her help, Karato would leave the path of darkness that had been laid out before him and take control of his fate.
Together, they fled to join the rebellion that had long been growing in the kingdom of Yakai. When the time came, they fell upon Karato’s former masters like a furious storm and brought justice for all the lives those villains had broken. From there on, the Fox and the Hunter would never again separate from one another.