The Legend of the Armors
Addendum to Yoroi-den, by Professor Yagyu
By Nasutei Yagyu

Ronin Warriors- To Arms!

 

The Nether Realm

The Nether Realm is an alternate dimension that overlaps or intersects with the Mortal Realm- specifically the planet Earth- under certain conditions. It does not function under the natural laws that humans are familiar with; there is a superficial resemblence to Earth, in that there is comparable gravity, breathable atmosphere and solid land, but the star patterns and planetary bodies do not resemble Earth's and time does not pass at the same rate. Earth technology does not function in the Nether Realm, nor in any area that is under the direct control of that dimension.

The primary energy-resource of the Nether Realm is a force that we refer to as 'magical' or 'mystical' power, and in our terms, it is entirely negative. This force can manifest in many aspects, but due to the negative nature of the realm, all experiences are invariably unpleasant. Events and manifestations that we would describe as alarming, painful, or terrifying- often all of the above- are frequent. Fortunately, the Nether Realm is seldom able to assert any influence upon Earth and her inhabitants.

The inhabitants of the Nether Realm remain largely unclassified, but it has been noted that they take either solid form, as physical entities, or manifest in immaterial form- as the 'ghosts' or 'demons' of legend. The achieving of physical form seems mainly to be accomplished through 'possession'- ie, a 'ghost' takes control of a human or animal host. This is almost always done without the consent or desire of the unfortunate host. A ghost may also choose to inhabit an inanimate object, resulting in the phenomenon known as 'poltergeist', when nonliving objects begin to act of their own accord. However, not all of the inhabitants of the Nether Realm are other-dimensional in nature. Five humans from the Sengoku Era of Japan are known to have taken residence in the Nether Realm, and it is speculated that more have done so as well.

The conditions under which the Nether Realm will visibly manifest itself on Earth, allowing the inhabitants to interact with the human population- to Earth's detriment- are not known, but it is an almost entirely one-way process. A very few individuals have managed to initiate contact with the Dark Realm, but in the great majority of instances it has been the Nether Realm, and its restless inhabitants, that asserted its presence on unsuspecting Earth. As these instances have taken the form of invasions and attempts at domination, no speculations on how to achieve this end will be noted here.

The Dynasty

The Dynasty is the Empire that presently rules the Nether Realm. Little information is available on the conditions and ruling bodies before the Dynasty came to power; however, the rise of Man as the dominant species on Earth is linked to the Dynasty's rise in the Nether Realm. The creatures of the Dynasty draw power from the negative emotions of human beings. War, treachery, deception, and other such conflicts have provided potent fodder for the demons and spirits that feed on such things, and it can be speculated that any beings drawn to more gentle human emotions would soon have been eliminated by their ever-more-powerful rivals. The Nether Realm became- if it had not been already- a place where cruelty and evil ruled. As the number of the evil beings has grown, so has their desire to conquer Earth and feed more directly off the misery and despair of the enslaved human population.

Talpa's Empire

Talpa, occasionally known as Arago Talpa (the Dishonorable), is the reigning Demon of the Nether Realm, Emperor of the Dynasty. His origins are not known. Some argument may be made for a prior life on ancient Earth, a human obsessed with studying dark power and evil magic until he was consumed by what he studied and was no longer human. Talpa himself has stated that he was called to the Nether Realm by the concentration of negative power there, but did not say what state of being he was in when so 'called'.

Talpa has existed in both solid and immaterial form. Initially he had a solid physical form, but during his first attempt to subjugate Earth- just prior to the Sengoku period- he was defeated and deprived both of his physical form and much of his power. Existence as a ghost followed, but even with the significant loss of power, he was able to influence and affect events and people on Earth. It was in the interval after this first defeat that he manifested to four human men and convinced them to pledge their service and fealty to him. In return, he granted them armor filled with dark mystical power and halted the natural aging of their bodies. These became his four immortal Warlords: of Cruelty, Corruption, Illusion and Venom. Arrogant and brutal, they are easily mistaken for true demons of the Dynasty.

The Ancient One

Kaos-sama, known mainly to this era as the Ancient One, is the head of a little-known clan of mystic warriors. As the strongest and most knowledgable of his clan, he was given the task of defeating and casting out Talpa when the Emperor first manifested on Earth. He was successful; however, Talpa deliberately left his evil armor on Earth, counting on its presence here to make it easier for him to return. The presence of such an evil artifact would also influence the emotions of Man towards evil. The Ancient, realizing this, took possession of the armor and used his formidable power to divide and alter it. He separated the single armor into nine and through the strength of his meditations, imbued each armor with the Confucian and Bushido virtues. The five armors receiving the Confucian virtues were then bound to the elements, while the four armors bearing the Bushido virtues were bound to the seasons.

What happened between the creation of the armors and the return of Talpa is known only to the Ancient. It has been suggested that he gave the armors to the heads of strong and virtuous families to guard them, and to provide a bearer for the armor should it become necessary. However, in the long period of peace following the Sengoku Wars, the truth gradually became remote and was eventually passed off as legend. What is known is that the clan of the Ancient One withdrew into obscurity. However, the Ancient himself lingered, watching and waiting until he should be needed to guide the bearers of the armor he created. There is no doubt at all of his continued existence, despite the apparent impossibility of a mortal man living for over four-hundred years. Not until Talpa once again threatened Earth did the Ancient surrender his life, and he did so willingly, to aid the armor-bearers in their fight against the Dynasty.

The Armors

How Talpa managed to gain possession of the four Bushido armors is not known. However, these are the four virtues bound up with service to one's lord: loyalty, piety, serenity and obedience. All of these traits are more easily twisted to evil motives than Trust, Wisdom, Justice, Life and Righteousness, the Confucian virtues imbued within the other five. Thus, the armor of Loyalty became Cruelty; Piety became Venom; Serenity became Illusion and Obedience became Corruption. The armors no longer drew power from the natural flow of the seasons, but began to take their strength instead from the same things Talpa and his minions did: human suffering and evil magic.

The Four Dark Warlords

There are several theories regarding the metamorphosis of the Warlords from normal human men to immortal beings so steeped in evil that they are practically indistinguishable from demons. The most likely of these theories suggests that Talpa took care to select ambitious men and tempted them with power beyond human imagining. It is unlikely that he himself bestowed their new armors upon them, weak as he was and barred from entering the mortal world, but it would have been a simple matter to tell his chosen where to find the armor and how to use it. Having found it and slain those who protected it, the new Warlords began at once to fall under Talpa's influence. In time, he was able to draw them across the barrier and into his realm, where he performed the rites that would end their mortality and bind them to him for eternity.

Another scholar has wondered why the Emperor did not simply use the human men to bring the armors across the barrier to him and give it to his otherworldly minions to use. Possibly he did consider this, but feared the demons strong enough to use such armor would become strong enough to overthrow him, especially if they united against him. (It is known that there was at least one rebellion against his rule; though unsuccessful, it raised the possibility of others, should dissidents obtain sufficient power.) It is also possible that the demons and spirits lacked the qualities necessary to wear the armor at all. Also, it seems the Warlords are more readily able to travel between the dimensions than the spirits and demons, and certainly possess more initiative and skill than the Soldiers.

All of the Dark Warlords are arrogant, ambitious men with a lust for power. They enjoy causing pain, the stronger the better, and all of them are contemptuous of anything or anyone weaker than them. They have no loyalty to each other, only to Talpa, whom they hold in awe and fear. What humanity may remain within them, if any, is deeply buried. They crave domination and victory at any price and by any method; indeed, the more twisted and repulsive, the better.

The Fifth Human

The fifth human known to be taken by Talpa was a very young human girl, little more than a toddler. The Emperor, desiring revenge against the Ancient One, sent soldiers to attack the Ancient One's village and carry off a particularly promising child. Many of the clan were gifted mystically themselves, but they could not endure against a direct attack, and the destruction of the village marked the end of their recorded history. The child, Kayura, was literally raised by Talpa in his realm, and knowing no other way, gladly served her new master. It is known that she was possessed of great power, some of which was granted by Talpa and some of which was her rightful heritage, twisted into obscenity by her teacher. Arrogant, clever and aggressive, she rivaled the Warlords and enjoyed Talpa's frequent praise and other marks of favoritism.

The Five Ronin Warriors

To protect innocent people, the identities of the Ronin remain unrevealed.

The Ronin Warriors are five young human men, citizens of Japan, who were chosen for their task by the virtues they bear. The Ancient One did not choose them; the armor itself did, seeking bearers whose hearts aligned with the necessary virtues. They had little knowledge of the Dynasty and less of the armor, and were given less than a year to prepare themselves for the battle; a battle they only knew would occur 'during their lifetimes'.

When the Dynasty first attacked, the Ronin were almost helpless to meet it, and on their second encounter- with Anubis, Warlord of Cruelty- they were scattered and demoralized. Talpa, well aware of his advantage, sent his Warlords to destroy his enemies before they could regroup, and the Warlords eagerly sought to do so. It was only through tremendous effort and at the cost of immense pain that Wildfire, with the help of Halo and Torrent, eventually reunited the group and challenged Talpa on his own ground.

Experience has been a painful teacher and all of the Ronin have endured a great deal of it in the course of the war against Talpa. Their experiences have taught them as much about teamwork and unity as about practical strategies and tactics and they have formed strong bonds. They are now a formidable fighting team, with Wildfire at their head, and appear to be stronger than Talpa's minions. However, disquieting mysteries remain to trouble them, and the only one who could have answered them, the Ancient, gave up his life in the fight against Talpa.

 

 

Home to The Call