Death is weak and we are strong.
(Path of the Ancestors)
Since the beginning, a time when even the elves were young, the Kurosawa have sought to perfect survival and pass that knowledge on to future generations. The Path of the Ancestors represents the cumulative knowledge and experience of thousands over a hundred millennia or more. More than academics, the tomb and its teachings are the foundation of thought and philosophy for the kin of the bloodline; knowledge held close, secret, and sacred.
[ Know What You Are ]
You are vampire. What you were has no baring on that. You have awoken from the death sleep something new, better. Let go your mortal trappings for they will only slow you, distract you from realizing the potential of what you have become.
Resist the temptation to view yourself as the weak lines do; a predator. To define yourself as such will cloud your vision and take you down paths that only end in your destruction. Vampire are predators, but do not give undo weight to this, do not let it define you, and do not follow the path of others.
A predator’s primary concern is the hunt and securing a meal. As vampire this will be of little concern. You are stronger, faster, and can track your prey by mind and scent. Your fangs, claws, and mind are the perfect weapons for bringing down your prey. There is no need to rely on much more than instinct to fill your belly.
The truth is that vampire are prey. Most yearlings do not make it to their first anniversary not because of lack of feeding but by destruction at the hands of another.
This you must understand.
As vampire you will find that, unlike in mortals, instinct plays a much larger role in your being. This is a strength and should be treated as such. Mortals are flawed; they coddle the weak, care for the sickly and even let them reproduce, and create rules and laws which give the inferior opportunity to fell the worthy. You must learn to listen to your instincts for they are just as valuable, just as valid, as what you see, hear, or taste.
Just as to deny what you are is weakness, so too is giving in, uncontrolled, to the lusts that come with what you are. Do not seek to deny or suppress the lusts of blood and body. Instead find strength in experiencing them and learning control.
Meditate on this.
~It is the wisdom of the ancestors.~
[ Know Your Enemy ]
It is when you begin to train for survival that you see the truth in what has been said. Train to bring down your prey and you will find that the time necessary for perfection is but a few months. Venture out to secure that food and you will find that you are ill-prepared for the true dangers.
Contrary to the stories told to human children, humans are not the primary destroyer of vampire. Hunters travel from place to place for a reason, as an example. When one enters a town the local population of kin generally becomes quiet. There is no need to fight a skilled hunter so they don’t. This allows the hunter to prey upon the weak lines and appear to be a hero. But he knows that it is only a matter of time until the strong get tired of being hungry so he wisely moves on.
It is in fact vampire that are the greatest threat to your survival. Each of us is competition for food, at the base of it all. Then there are clan disputes, rivalries, vendettas, and egos. Focusing on fighting and defending yourself from kin also has the benefit of preparing you to fight humanoids. What kills vampire will kill humanoids and humanoids have the added benefit of bleeding.
To know your enemy requires that you know your self, know what you are. You must learn to use vampire instincts and vulnerabilities against them while guarding your own. Resist the temptation to try and become something that you are not. Trying to find strength in a weak plan, even if unexpected, will never be as effective as capitalizing on the strength of a strong plan, even if expected.
This you must embrace.
~It is the wisdom of the ancestors.~
[ Walking the Path ]
Knowing yourself will set the path in a landscape. Knowing your enemy will identify the dangers along the path. Now it is time to begin the journey.
Resist the voices that tell you there is a better way. Do not give in to the desire to try short cuts that you think appear. Such things are arrogance and there is no strength in arrogance. The path has been travelled by many smarter, wiser, stronger, and more worthy than you. Do not disrespect their gift.
The beginning of each step you take down the path is rooted in discipline; the discipline to move forward, the discipline to step true, the discipline to stay on the path. Each sunset must be met with study and practice. Time is your enemy, almost as much as another being is. As vampire you require meditation only when needing to heal. Such a wealth of available time in a day can easily lead to boredom and idleness; do not allow this.
Regardless of need you must meditate each day. Through it you will learn to control your mind, focus your thoughts, and gain insight in to yourself. The control you learn through meditation is the single most important skill that you can master. Without it your discipline will fade and your lusts will consume you.
Significant time must be allocated to the practice, expansion, and mastery of your mental abilities. Resist the temptation to not put weight to this because it is difficult. Be disciplined in your approach and do not allow yourself to be fooled in to believing that what skills you used before are of more importance. Vampire were given the ability to harness the power of the mind for a reason. There will be time for other things.
The use of the sword and training in Atama to Shinzou (Head and Heart) combat philosophy and San Touken (Three Swords) fighting style should take more attention than anything else. Do not practice any other; only study them so that their weaknesses may be known.
Idleness is combated by practicing that which is easy or desired but only after all else.
Truth can be found in these words.
~It is the wisdom of the ancestors.~
[ Order and Structure ]
In both offense and defense there is strength in numbers. This is true whether talking about combat or existence. Single, alone, solitary; these are never a long term position of strength. It is better to suffer the family than to attempt to survive alone.
A family without order and structure is not strong nor a family. The structure must support the core values and principles of the Yukute Senkun and in doing so will ensure the survival of the line.
The foundation of the family structure is respect for ones elder. It is often the case that yearlings fail to see the wisdom in this. Once a yearling has been able to shift their understanding from the race of their host to what they have become, the wisdom will become clear.
In mortal societies age is of little value when compared to other measures of worth and strength. For one the mortal life span is too short for great disparities to form between the wise. Second, survival of a mortal is not often tied to their skill, strength, and wisdom. The exception would be true warriors but with a limited lifespan these tend to be physically strong or strong in spirit but weak in all other areas.
A vampire of age has proven his worth by surviving. He has shown the physical and mental prowess to emerge from combat victorious, shown great discipline, and has accumulated a wealth of wisdom. A kin may have a most unpleasant manner but he is to be disrespected at the risk of one’s destruction.
It is not for the Yukute Senkun to dictate the structure of the family; only to pass on the truth that the family must have order and structure that supports the core principles of it.
Follow these words.
~It is the wisdom of the ancestors.~
The weak see their family devastated by disease and illness and cry, hoping to not be next. The strong see the same and resolve to survive then dedicate their life to that pursuit. It is from such a icon of true strength that the Kurosawa bloodline was created and then gifted to those who were worthy.
It is a common belief among mortal and vampire alike that all vampire can trace their lines back to one single event and a single host. This is not the case. This is the story of Tarou Kurosawa, first of the Kurosawa bloodline.
Tarou Kurosawa saw every member of his immediate and most of his extended family ravaged by disease and illness before he was twelve. The days of his youth were dark, the nights echoing sounds of crying and screaming. The death of his parents at ten left the boy homeless and destitute. An aunt tried to take care of her sister’s son but her own children and ongoing illness made that almost impossible.
The young Kurosawa often visited the temple cemetery. While not exactly void of activity it was a stark contrast to the city with its smell and violence. Tarou sat many hours away in the crook of a large tree. During the spring it’s fragrant flowers brought him even more often, a free perfume of sorts against the stench he often found himself to be.
The cemetery was not without activity, yes, but it rarely moved at a pace that interrupted contemplation. Tarou watched day after day, year after year, as the dead were brought first for burial and then for the pyre. He wondered why some died and some did not. When he was a child he was told that the nobles were of superior stock; strong and better than his cast. But they died too.
The only way to tell one was a noble was that the grave diggers went through each pocket of the deceased, twice. But stripped of their fine goods and clothes the dead all looked the same. His own mortality was a given. To him it was just a matter of time. There was no other option; if the plague took everyone then it would take him.
It was the arrival of elves that would set the One on his path. By the time Tarou was thirteen three years of plagues had devastated his homeland’s inhabitants. The delivery of bodies had slowed to a few but only because no one was willing to bury them or tend to the ‘official’ fires. Instead they pushed the dead out of the way or burned them where they lay. The elves changed that.
The slender race seemed to almost laugh in the face of the illness brought down on the human population. They even ate food that was delivered by the sick. No one did that. And more surprisingly; he never saw one get sick let alone die.
During a cold winter’s night, pressed in to a hole he had carved in the tree over the years, the commonality of all those dead, tens of thousands of them, caused him to wake. They were all human.
It was then that he realized that if he was to survive he had to change. He had to become something other than human. Crawling out of the hole he considered the implications of his realization. But how could he change? And what would he change in to? The answer, he found, was all around him. “I cannot die if I am already dead.”
The young Kurosawa soon turned a crypt in to a place where he could learn and plan. Once a place of death, avoided out of fear, the crypts became a place of life of sorts. Dozens would die by his hands over the coming months as he tried to understand what life was, when it ended, and how to control the change. He didn’t care much about its creation. He was already alive. What did he care of such things.
All the while elves worked tirelessly above to save who was left.
By fourteen Tarou had reached a wall in his understanding. He had no education and certainly no access to the magic tools needed to unlock the mysteries of death. Outside the crypts things were turning around. The elves had descended upon the city by the caravan load, each committed to saving their neighbors from what had seemed like certain extinction.
Tarou could not help but get to know many of the elves that worked the cemetery over the years. He learned early on that working for them meant food and not having to scavenge and steal left more time for his research. Once fed and cleaned the young man proved to be handsome and charismatic. But it was his intelligence that intrigued his friends.
The population of the city saved, the elves turned to looking at the future. The city would need leaders; charismatic and intelligent, strong and determined. Tarou Kurosawa seemed like the perfect choice to be selected to travel in to the forest for education, to be returned to help govern the people back from the brink.
Tarou didn’t care much for the people at least not before he had secured his future. A future that’s goal was quickly becoming immortality. But he did care about being educated. And the elves had shown that they were familiar and comfortable with many kinds of magic. It did not take a second asking for him to agree to travel to a foreign land.
When offered a focus of study Tarou was quick to ask about healing magic. He had to think fast when told that true healing was the domain of clerics and that he was not allowed to travel that path. What was offered was a mix of potions and brews. That would not do. But he was not being offered the opportunity to take his time. They had a lot of people and, “The city and your people need you, now.” It was one of the elves favorite saying and was meant to motivate.
In the end Tarou decided upon what most seemed to pass up; a general education in magic theory. Most of his friends were shocked and several tried to talk him out of it. The general consensus was that he was too bright and had too much potential to waste on such a thing. But he insisted, soon finding that his friends were right about the being brighter and having more potential than those that took the generalist path. But it was exactly what he needed and pressed forward.
Over the next few years the student needed to be careful. An early bout of enthusiasm had him openly talking about doing some research on the dead. That mistake would not be repeated. Instead his research would stay out of sight of teachers and friends alike. But continue it would. Each topic was approached from the same angle, “How can I use this?”
A nineteen-year-old man returned to a city he did not recognize. The dirt and the stench (and the dead) were gone. What he returned to was a city with a people full of hope and optimism. Tarou looked upon these people and marveled at how quickly they forgot. He wondered how they could continue knowing how fragile of a race they were. –They- were not worthy.
Tarou had been given a job as an assistant to an apprentice to a mage whose focus had been earth works. Not the kind of mentor he had in mind. But the man did have something he could use; gold. The elves had given large quantities of gold and materials to the newly graduated class of mages. Magic was an expensive endeavor.
The assistant tried for months find time to do his research. But while the decision to not specialize was the right one in the long term, the resulting placement at the bottom of the barrel was causing short term headaches. Pots and vials and herb cleaning and glass wiping filled his days, not research. Not deterred to let his circumstance deter him, Tarou focused on collecting his mentor’s wealth.
It took the ‘accidental’ death of the mage’s apprentice to put Tarou in position to have access to the accounts of his mentor. It only took six months to drain him of everything he had been given; down to the vial. On a ship called Horizon the thief made his escape and was largely lost to the tombs of history for many years.
Decades of research and dedication had lead an elderly man to this moment. Standing at the center of a room buried deep within the earth it began with a nod. One by one each of five previous failures started casting the dark spells that would either bring Tarou to completion of his goal or kill him in the process.
As the man, near death from aging, barely able to stand, looked around at the five creations that were the product of his efforts he allowed himself to consider the possibility of failure. Five times he had failed to create a being that was better than what he started with. He was not certain that he would succeed this time. But for the first time in his life he was out of time.
As the air filled with unholy energy his grey eyes looked at the swords carried by each of his creations. If he did fail at least he would not ‘live’ on like them; abominations. Unholy energy tore at his being and attacked his body’s connection to his life force and his soul. Then, darkness.
The Kurosawa bloodline is, as far as is known, is continued solely through Kannei Kurosawa and his mate, Mai Rhyuken. Both he and Mai are separated by the first of their line by ten sires. This results in a very pure and aggressive vampirism that shows in several ways. The following are all traits passed on to their creations.
1. Intense reaction to sunlight: While many bloodlines can tolerate sunlight even to the point of walking in it, Kannei’s line is highly reactive to it. Direct sunlight results in an explosive reaction at the point of contact. Sunlight spells and effects cause 3x the normal damage.
2. Intense reaction to the holy magic: Like sunlight, damage of a ‘holy’ or ‘good’ origin is highly reactive to the bloodline. Family have a hard time even standing near good clerics of moderate power. Holy and good spells and effects cause 3x the normal damage.
3. Aggressive reaction to weaker lines: As the height of supremacy in the vampiric breed, the Kurosawa are inherently inclined to view all weaker vampiric lines as prey. Kurosawa are naturally aggressive toward younger, weaker tribes.
4. Memory Vampire ability: All creations of the line have the ability to absorb the memories of a victim who dies during a feeding. This is voluntary. The recipient does not receive the abilities of the victim, simply their memories. In practice this ability is rarely used. It is difficult for even the strongest mind to keep a sense of ‘self’ after a while. Many of Kannei’s kin have gone mad as a result of trying to take on the lifetime of memories of too many.
5. Compulsion: There is a compulsion specific to each member of the clan, though some compulsions may overlap from Sire to child or between mates and siblings alike.