When Tatsu was a child, her family was caught up in a hunt for dissidents by Mikage troops. To teach her village the importance of loyalty, the soldiers executed everyone they captured – including every other member of Tatsu’s family. Tatsu learned the lesson well.
Tatsu was shifted to a state orphanage, where the Mikage quickly noticed her fighting talent. They brought her to the palace of her local warlord, where she joined ranks of the palace guard. She quickly advanced up the hierarchy, accepting the tattoos that marked her as a high captain and came to train other soldiers the same way she had once been. She never once doubted her course. To her, the only path to safety was at the feet of the Mikage.
After spending many decades in her warlord’s loyal service, Tatsu was brought to a secret ritual chamber beneath his palace, where her warlord and his magistrates told her she was ready to join the Mikage. There was no room for doubt or hesitation. She would partake in this ritual or die for her disloyalty. Tatsu knelt before her lord.
Demonic blood and dark magic were pumped into her veins, infusing her blood with incredible strength, arcane power, and unrelenting agony. Her screams echoed throughout the palace, and in the end, it was for nothing: she was mighty, immortal… and blind. She had been too weak for the ritual, her masters said. It left her useless, and they discarded her.
Tatsu spent the next decade working in her warlord’s palace garden, ignored. For a long time, it was torment – only the useful were safe, she thought. However, as the years rolled by, her fear gave way to acceptance, and then curiosity, as she realized how little regard and attention her masters paid her. She listened to the careless words of the Mikage lords and enforcers, and learned the truth. There was a massive Shadowkin rebellion against the Mikage Autocracy. There had been almost a century… and it was winning. The palace guard had grown because Tatsu’s warlord feared for his life. She had been inducted to secure her loyalty because the Mikage feared betrayal at every turn. Her family had died because even lowly, dissident peasants were a threat.
The Mikage were not invincible. T hey were weak, and they were dying… and Tatsu could help them die faster for, while her eyes were lost, she was blind no longer.
A decade spent in darkness had pushed Tatsu to master what senses remained to her. After many years, she was shocked to find her Demonic magic helping her sense her surroundings, giving her a second sight. When she finally mastered it, she wept, thanking Lumaya for the first time since she was a little girl. She started training in secret, waiting for the perfect moment to strike.
The moment came when Tatsu’s master hosted all the local warlords for a meeting. That night, she stole back her old swords and attacked the palace and swiftly killed the guards. She had trained them herself and knew their every weakness. The Mikage lords were defenceless and showed their true colours. They fell to Tatsu’s feet, begging her for mercy, promising her all their power and luxury. All of their talk of strength and loyalty had been a mask – in truth, they were ruled only by greed and fear. Their deaths were quick.
The fall of the rest of the Mikage Autocracy took less than a decade.
Once the Shadowkin had their freedom, hard decisions were made. Many heroes of the rebellion were deemed too violent or unpredictable for the new regime, and as time went on they faced exile or even assassination. So it went with Tatsu. For fifteen years, she lived in a free Yakai, but those years were marked with growing isolation and fear from those around her. When a noble guest arrived at her house and gently suggested that she depart the kingdom, she was not surprised, nor even resentful. She had been allowed to stay longer than most others who had been Demon-touched. She left that very night.
Exile was no relief from persecution – the world beyond the Nyresan Union was not ready to see the Shadowkin as anything other than the servants of Siroth that they once were. Upon reaching the Free City of Arnoc, she was identified by her tattoos as a servant of the Mikage and thrown in prison, left to rot. Little did her guards know that she was immortal, and had patience to match – she spent ten years as a blind gardener, and she could wait at least that long again to find her freedom.
Tatsu was biding her time when the new prisoner was placed in the cell next to hers, a Lizardman painter called Jizoh. All it took was a sketch on Jizoh’s cell wall to change the course of Tatsu’s eternal life – forever.