Six Impossible Things
The Dojo of Fleeting Life
In his absence, a small, but growing group amongst the villagers and workers at Peace of Stone began devoting prayers to Therian. This group, comprised equally of ghosts and the living, has its roots in some of the individuals that Therian and his siblings had directly saved or freed, and their devotion grew from the simple thanks they offered in their prayers for him having delivered them from their previous fate.
Discovery these handful of devotees upon his return, Therian saw two opportunities. One, to help lead these individuals in his own beliefs formed from his time in the Underworld amidst the dead; and two, to train and instruct those that wish to emulate him, and in doing so perhaps to break free of his Abyssal name, and thereby his nature.
First and foremost, Therian sees those devoted to him as individuals, not just followers. He recognizes the power that he could wield over them, and how he could exploit their devotion and faith in him and there is nothing he wants less. He sees the possibility to become a monster just like his former mistress, and in some ways his founding of his school, and encouragement of his disciples is a test to show that he can resist such things.
For purposes of mechanics, the Followers and Cult backgrounds overlap. While the Cult is made up of a number of individuals within the community of Peace of Stone, all of his Followers are members of the Cult. He does little to encourage the worship that the cult gives him, though he certainly doesn’t turn it away. If they choose to place their faith in him, who is he to say no? In fact, their devotion drives him, and he believes that if they would offer up their prayers to him, then he in turn is obligated to them. For this reason, he tries to fulfill the vision they have of him. He shares of his wealth, offers what aid he can give, and tries his best to be someone worthy of their faith. For their part, of the living he asks that they show piety towards their ancestors, and the ghosts that have come to dwell at Peace of Stone separated from the prayers of their descendants, and to make them a part of their daily lives. Of the dead he asks that they, just as he, prove themselves worthy of such devotion, by lending their counsel and their arts to the living. All of those that offer their worship, living and dead, are tasked to spread these sentiments, and help others become learned in this way of balance.
Therian has claimed a portion of Peace of Stone as his own space, comprised of a few small buildings, a larger structure, and an outdoor garden. Here he has founded his school, the Dojo of Fleeting Life, where he teaches his “scholarly techniques on the art of death.” From the ranks of the devoted, Therian has selected a small group of individuals, twenty all said, to train. These individuals are selected for a number of reasons: natural talent, fierce devotion to him, or simply a sincere desire to learn. His students are evenly mixed between the living and the dead, and while he applies the same basic training to all, it is core amongst his beliefs that each student has their own path, and he spends a great deal of his time teaching them according to their individual needs and strengths. All are taught the arts of stealth, evasion, and combat. While he ensures that all of his students have at least some familiarity with melee combat, the martial focus of his school is on ranged combat and skirmishing. For those that wish to develop more skill in melee or unarmed combat, he encourages them to seek training with Xin Liang, as he recognizes the benefits of such knowledge.
The dojo itself is located within its own walled section of Peace of Stone, containing a handful of structures. One is Therian’s own dwelling, a home dressed in all the trappings of a house of mourning. This is his own private space, and is barred from all except upon his invitation. There are a few other small structures that serve as the dwellings of the students of the dojo, a kitchen and mess, and a small shrine building, from which the smoke of burnt offerings to the dead constantly streams. The last structure, the size of a small merchant’s warehouse, is the dojo proper. It is divided by sliding screens and walls, allowing it to be reconfigured to suit the purpose of the lessons. All of the exteriors can be shuttered off, creating a very dark environment in which lessons stealth, and maneuvering in the dark can be taught. The beams of the high ceiling of the structure are crisscrossed with ropes, planks, and other obstacles to test the agility of the students.
Studies are divided between the physical, intellectual, and spiritual. Therian believes that it is good and well for an individual to be trained in the physical ways of assassination and combat, they must also have an understanding of why these things must be done, and what they mean. It is not enough to simply kill; one must do so in a manner that is artful, and for a reason. To kill a man like a butcher slaughtering a hog can be done by anyone in a fit of anger. The ability to plan, set up, and carry out a killing without being observed, without leaving a trace, and with a full understanding of what their death means, is the mark of a true scholar. Therian weeds out any who seek his training that show a lust for killing itself, only accepting those that can truly appreciate the weight of such a thing as taking another’s life, the responsibility that it carries, and its weight on the soul.