HEROES OF IMPILTUR
Human Assassin: Ninja warrior with a forgotten past
The people of Barkus’s village were kind overall to him, and accepted him back, but they could not keep from endlessly reminding him of the great loss of his family. Although he could not remember even having had a family, let alone their deaths, the knowledge that it happened made it all the more apparent that there was a great sense of emptiness within him and a lack of purpose to his life. He had been trying to go by his given name of Roland, but that too had no meaning to him. He only remembered his dog’s name, which felt more familiar as his own name. He had also recently begun wearing his dog’s collar on his wrist, which he’d recognized upon finding it in his house, though that seemed strange since he didn’t specifically remember his dog.
Sensing Barkus’s growing unhappiness, Sevenia the sage met with him and gave him a reading. She told him that his destiny did not lie within the village at this time, but that one day he would return to help save it. He should go on a journey and not return to this land until he saw the sign that was shown by the tarot cards. Barkus decided to take Sevenia’s advice and leave his village, since it didn’t really feel like home anyway. He was going to seek adventure and a new purpose to his life.
Barkus left his village and traveled some distance to the east. One night, after a long day of traveling, he found himself in a medium sized town and stopped at a local inn. Apparently the town had just recently hosted a large festival, which had just ended in the previous day or two. Although many travelers had already left, there were still a fair number of extra people of all sorts in the town.
At a certain point in the evening, Barkus had stepped out back of the tavern to relieve himself. He was about to go back in when two of the more suspicious looking individulals stepped out the back door. They could not see Barkus where he was standing in the darkness. He could see them move silently by and down a side alley. Barkus sensed that whatever business they had, they were up to no good. He quietly followed after them.
The alley twisted and turned a few times before it headed back towards a street. After rounding the last corner, Barkus could see the shady characters already at work. One of the thieves had a young man restrained from behind with a knife at his throat. The knife was almost dripping with something foul and irredescent. Next to them was an older man nearly laid out onto the ground with one hand on the back of his head as if he had just been struck. These two men appeared somewhat foreign to him, at least not local anyway. The second thief had a third man pressed up against a wall and was in the process of taking a well filled coin purse from his hands. Barkus had seen this man in the tavern earlier, he believed him to be a merchant of some sort from the local area.
Without really thinking, Barkus approached the thieves from behind. Picking up a convenient stone, he struck the first thief in the back of the head with one hand while grabbing his knife wielding hand with his other. The thief fell to the ground unconscious, releasing his knife into Barkus’s hand. Barkus then immediately, as one continuing action, stabbed the poisoned blade down deep into the second thieves thigh while pushing him back hard into the other alley wall, causing him to drop the bag of coins. The thief shuffled quickly back down the alley, not as quietly as before.
Barkus returned the coins to the local merchant and helped the older man to his feet amid the thanks and amazement of the victims. The merchant, whose name was Apicius, gave the bag of coins over to the young man. Their business concluded, he strongly suggested that they leave this part of town quickly before more thieves returned and he headed away quickly down the street. The young man introduced himself as Jiuyémon. He said Barkus was deserving of a reward and asked him to accompany them to the inn across town where he and his father, Chôbei were staying. They had rented the entire inn during the festival. Barkus learned the older man with them was one of their most trusted family retainers, who went by the name Kuniyoshi. Though he had been knocked down, he had still clearly seen the speed and skill of Barkus’s attack on the thieves.
Upon arriving at the inn, Barkus learned that the father and son were traveling merchants from far in the east of Faerun. They were not native to Faerun however, as they were of oriental descent and their clan, the Funakoshi, had immigrated there several generations earlier from the land of Kara-Tur, specifically the nation of Kozakura. Chôbei, the father, grateful that Barkus had saved his son’s life, spoke with him at some length. Barkus relayed his short life story from the Monastery of the Yellow Rose to the present time. Though Chôbei thought Barkus’s tale very strange, it reminded him a bit of an old folk tale from Kozakura about a man who became a great hero.
Chôbei invited Barkus to travel back to the east of Faerun with them and to stay with them as an honored guest of his household for as long as he liked. He also told Barkus that when they arrive back at their home that he should speak to the “Grandfather” of his clan. He told him that the “Grandfather” was far older even than his name suggested and he was even wiser than his years. Barkus accepted the invitation.
After a long journey, and some further adventures, Barkus arrived at the place Chôbei and Jiuyémon called home. It was located in a nearly hidden valley, a small but thriving enclave of Kozakura, busy with more people than Barkus had expected. Chôbei explained that though life there, with their customs, was much like that of their homeland, the biggest difference was that social class had much less importance, as there were no true nobles present in the enclave. Upon arriving at Chôbei’s house, Barkus could see it was quite large with surrounding formal gardens. It was clear that he was a very successful merchant. His invitation for Barkus to be his guest was generous indeed.
In due time Barkus spoke to the “Grandfather”. He found him to be of few but very wise words. The “Grandfather” said he would lead Barkus through a mystical ritual, lasting for three days, to find the course that his life should follow. This he did, though he remembered very little clearly of the ritual itself, as it involved powerful magic and a strongly hallucinogenic elixir which he and the “Grandfather” both drank. To Barkus, the three days seemed to pass nearly instantly, yet the ritual seemed to leave a trace of nearly subconscious, dream like memories that made him feel like many weeks might have passed. He could remember flashes of many, perhaps hundreds, of strange unearthly places and of speaking to someone, who must have been the “Grandfather”, at each one of them.
After the ritual, the “Grandfather” spoke to Barkus again. He told him that “First” he would be trained in the art of eastern combat practices and weapons, the Way of the Ninja. That was all he said. Barkus was about to ask what would be next when the “Grandfather” added, “That is enough to set you on your course. You will have time to complete your training before your time to leave us comes. You will then remember what the ‘second’ thing you need to do is when the time is right, and so on as your life course dictates.”
Over time Barkus became well trained in the Way of the Ninja and learned the language of Kozakuran from the people there. His friendship with Chôbei and Jiuyémon became very strong. Chôbei considered him part of his family. Barkus and Jiuyémon went on a number of adventures together. Barkus knew he would always consider this his home and he would always be welcomed here.
The day finally came that he saw the sign that Sevenia told him to watch for. He knew he must travel back to the land of his old village. He said his goodbyes but knew that he would return here again.