Concept: Imposing yet stoic half-orc fighter of great skill. (The silent warrior type.)
HistoryHaanzo's history is a long and rarely told affair. Mainly because Haanzo doesn't speak, but also because some stories are simply better left untold. Suffice it to say that Haanzo traveled the same paths that many before him, and many after, have traveled. However, his story is his own and the path yet before him is one just as winding and full of intrigue as the one that's passed thus far.
Not every adventurer's parents are killed in a raid by Orcish bandits. Sometimes, especially with Orcish adventurers, their father (and only parent) is killed in a 'crusade' by Human knights. Such was the case with Haanzo.
Haanzo was only a small child when an armored boot kicked in the front door of his father's modest hut in their small Orcish village. The men in armor dragged them both into the dirt paths of the village and knelt them there with the rest of their neighbors. The leader of the knights, Joffrey, a golden headed man clad in armor to match, shouted at the villagers that their raids against neighboring, peaceful, human settlements would not go unpunished. He shouted that the village would burn for it's crimes, and that he was the one who would carry out the justice. When Haanzo's father tried to plead with the man, Joffrey cut him down, claiming that he was clearly the leader of the group that had raided the human settlements. They didn't stop there, however. By the time the darkness of night came, the village had been burned to the ground, its inhabitants slaughtered in the streets. Haanzo, the village's only child, was the last survivor. Only eight years old, the young Half-Orc had been made to watch as everything he knew and loved was taken from him. It was this incident that traumatized Haanzo into adopting the silence he now keeps.
The knights, content that justice had been served, took Haanzo as an indentured page, telling him that they would civilize him and teach him the true path. What greater show of their victory over the savage Orcs than to have one trained and civilized and fighting for their own cause? So it was, for another seven years, that Haanzo traveled and learned and practiced with the knights as he rose in station from page to squire. He was taught how to read their language, how to praise their gods, how to fight for their beliefs, and how to defend them in battle. The knights raised him as their own and turned him into their greatest pupil. His skills with the spear were unmatched amongst the other squires and even rivaled that of some of the knights. They were good men who did what they believed was right and Haanzo befriended many of them, vigorously defending them on the field of battle and earning himself many wounds for his troubles. He was considered a great acquisition and a personal accomplishment by the High-Knight, Joffrey, and was praised daily for his good works... And in a single night, Haanzo killed them all, to a man, in their sleep.
His deed was not done with a light heart, however, for Haanzo had grown to love many of those same men he put to death. The same men who butchered his village, he reminded himself. They did what they thought was right and now they would reap the consequences of their actions. Joffrey was a callous and demented leader, many of the others were simply following his orders. They didn't deserve to share his fate. This, Haanzo knew. Regardless, they shared in his crime and Haanzo saw them all at the end of his spear that fateful night.
Haanzo looked each man in the eyes when they realized their end had come and he drank deeply of their final moments that he might remember the long awaited and patiently harbored justice he had finally enacted. A few of the men, greying and wrinkled in age and regret, even had looks of understanding as they drew their last breath. Their repentance only served to hurt Haanzo all the more. With his justice meted out, Haanzo took his spear, a few provisions, and a set of leather armor and ran from the camp. He swore to himself that killing those men who'd come to view him as family was the first and only time he would ever betray a friend and he has never broken that vow.
Haanzo fled to the country to the south, taking up honest work as a farm hand and goat herder for an elderly man named Eddard who was getting on in age and was not long for this world. There, he worked for a couple of years driving off wolves and worse from taking any of Theon's herd and earned the love and kindness of the old man and his wife, Catelyn. They had no children and took to thinking of Haanzo as an adopted son in the short time he was with them. When they grew too old to travel, Haanzo took the herd to market. And when they passed, Haanzo sold their herd and gave them a burial befitting two of the most loving parents before he moved on once more.
This time, he took up residence in a small city and took on the job of 'bouncer' at the local tavern, The Shieldsman. It didn't last more than a few months as, he quickly grew tired of the dull work and the boring people. Upon hearing news that the king himself was looking for guards for his daughter's upcoming marriage, Haanzo left The Shieldsman with what he could carry with him and made his way to the capitol.
It was no secret the princess hated her bridegroom to be. What's more, there were a number of well connected nobles who wanted to see the union halted. The king was advised by a young yet wealthy and well connected noble, Willam Klegane, to use impartial guards for hire so as to alleviate allegations of plots should something go wrong as the political situation was already tense. With all parties agreeing on the plan of action and each offering up riches from their own coffers, a call went out to local sell-swords. Upon Haanzo's arrival, the applicants were gathered and each was questioned by head interrogators using lie-detecting magics. Thieves and would-be assassins were easily weeded out until only a few applicants remained. The job was easy enough: babysit the princess and make sure nothing happened to her before her wedding day then get paid. The pay, needless to say, was substantial.
It was then that Haanzo met an inigmatic man by the name of Katsu. The two seemed to bond rather rapidly, with Katsu readily chatting away at Haanzo without so much as a word returned. They played cards in their downtime, and even sparred a bit to stay sharp. Though, mostly, they were bored. Through their boredom, Katsu studied Haanzo's expressions when they would 'speak' and eventually they formed a sort of communication with the exchange. When asked how he knew what Haanzo was saying, Katsu claimed that he could read the Half-Orc's thoughts. Haanzo was more than amused by this charismatic individual and grew fond of his incessant words and (sometimes) funny jokes.
With the wedding drawing close, the tension grew. Though the castle was full of activity, things were, as the expression goes, 'too quiet'. One night, only a week before the wedding, bandits scaled the walls of the castle, charging toward the princess's chambers and slaying all who stood in their path. Katsu, Haanzo, and a few others were all that stood in the way of a small army of bloodthirsty bandits, keen on stealing the princes... or worse. Haanzo took his spear in hand and set his teeth as he and his new friend held the line as he'd been trained to for so many years. Their comrades fell around them, wounded and dying, but still they fought on, their backs against the door to the princess's chamber. The fluidity of their combat together felt natural, as if the two had a mental connection and had somehow choreographed their moves. This wasn't a frantic fight, but a dance and each spin and duck left another mark on an adversary. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the last few bandits broke and fled from the carnage of the bodies left bloody in the hallway. The pair were hailed as heroes by the king and his court and were handsomely rewarded for a job well done.
Haanzo and Katsu travelled together for a year after the princess's marriage, exploring the world and getting by on little more than their skills. Then, slowly, their group began to grow.
The first two additions to the group came a little over a year after Haanzo and Katsu fended of the bandits at the marriage. The duo had been hired by a wizard to help explore an ancient ruin and recover a few lost relics within. The wizard insisted on joining the expedition and even brought along his pupils; the cold and calculating wizard, Bishamon, and an erratic yet studious alchemist named Rin. Haanzo came to respect Bishamon and heeded his guidance in many instances, especially when dealing with magic, and even took to Rin like a protective older brother as he saw she had grown rather fond of Katsu. The two pupils had all but finished their apprenticeship with their master, so when the job was done and the artifacts recovered, the four of them bid the old wizard farewell and traveled on together.
A trip to one of the more notorious metropolises a few months later found the group recruited by the city watch to gather information on the thieves' guild, who'd become more violent and brazen since a recent change in leadership. During a fight with a number of the guild's best, Haanzo attempted to hold off the main force while the rest fled, becoming separated in the tight back alleys of the city. When the four regrouped, Haanzo found their number had grown by one. Katsu introduced the four to Kato, a thief of some skill within the guild who wanted out and had saved the life of Katsu in the process. Haanzo was instantly endeared to Kato due to this act and even helped Katsu plead Kato's case before the chief inspector. Once their job with the watch was finished, the group moved on once more, this time with five members, for Kato had grown bored of life in the city and a misunderstanding involving an Elven duchess and her rather aggressive husband helped Kato decide that the group was the right fit for him, much to the annoyance of Bishamon.
Finally, the group happened across the kind and compassionate healer, Eri. Eri was serving with a group of cavaliers belonging to the Order of the Shield. They and the adventurers were both set to the same task, investigating a rash of local disturbances. Over the short time they'd traveled together, Haanzo had started to develop feelings for Eri, though he was never sure just how to show it. It started as little signs of affection here and there and soon grew into a quiet romance between the two. Soon, though, evidence was discovered that the culprit behind the disturbances they had been investigating was was a cult lead by a Dark Naga. Before proper plans could be made, the cavaliers brashly charged head-long into the cultist's lair, Eri with them, attempting to solve the problem by force. They soon found themselves overwhelmed by the cultist's poisoned weapons and though Eri was a skilled healer, there was little she could do before her friends succumbed to their wounds. Eri, herself would have fallen if Haanzo and the group hadn't arrived just in time. With the cult defeated, Eri reported the loss to the regional commander and joined up with Haanzo and the others, vowing that she would never lose another friend.
The group of six travelled far and wide, gaining a reputation for being the sort of adventurers who would take even the most dangerous jobs for a good cause (and, of course, pay). As the group grew in prestige, the jobs they got were increasingly more dangerous. After a delve into a long-forgotten ruin that ended in a clash with a Juvenile Umbral dragon (which resulted in significant wealth and their six distinctive necklaces), the group began to collect fame and the followers associated with it.
Seeing the potential there, Bishamon proposed they start a mercenary band. Katsu liked the idea, and once he'd secured the others' approval, he began recruiting with Haanzo's input. The two were selective about who they hired, and slowly the Legion of the Six Guardians began to form. They operated in groups of 2 to 6; with the smaller groups tasked to handle small or stealthy jobs and the larger groups charged with tackling the larger threats. The members were all well trained and always well-meaning. The generally benign bent of the group began to make them desireable hires in some quarters, particularly those where trust was necessary, such as in the guarding of sensitive material and people.
Soon, the Legion of the Six Guardians was being hired on for all sorts of jobs and was growing rapidly. It supported itself easy enough and made enough income to afford it's founding members certain luxuries. The Legion had become an overnight success.
However, this success was punctuated by some sorrow as well, namely the death of Rin Abe at the hands of the Marai Rakshasa, Jaskal. The first loss of one of their own was felt strongly by the Six, though perhaps moreso by her sometime lover, Katsu. Haanzo knew the Kitsune's sorrow and shared it with him as he'd come to think of Rin as family. Over time, the loss was less apparent, but a restlessness had grown in Katsu and that same restlessness bled into Haanzo as well.
Knowing the Legion was doing well and could manage in Bishamon's capable hands for a time, Katsu approached Haanzo one night and proposed they travel again, just the two of them. Just to handle a couple of jobs, but it'd get them out and adventuring again, something they hadn't done much of since the Legion had been founded.
The two took some time, selecting three jobs that got them far enough away that they wouldn't have a problem with noteriety and then proposed their idea to the remaining Six. Bishamon and Eri, being cautious individuals by nature, were not eager at first, but they could understand the twos' need to be on the road again and reluctantly agreed to the plan.
Thus, for the first time in a while, Haanzo and Katsu took to the road again, serving as caravan guards, treasure hunters and bounty hunters until they found themselves in Tallreed offered another job. Haanzo, willing to travel to the ends of the earth with his good friend, agreed with little convincing, seeing it as a slight detour to their eventual trip home to the authority and demands of running a mercenaries guild.
Willam Klegain - A secret lover of the princess that Haanzo and Katsu guarded. Recommended the king hire mercenary guards thinking they would be easy to overtake. Hired the bandits to interrupt the marriage. Harbors a deep resentment and enmity toward the duo.
Amaya Saitō - Nogitsune Oni and former head of the Jormungandr Thieves' Guild, identified by a tattoo of a snake curled into a ring eating it's own tail. A manipulative, charismatic fiend with a talent for murder, Amaya had intended to convert the Thieves' Guild into an assassin's guild to sate her own taste for blood. However, the arrival of the then still-forming Six and Kato's 'change of heart' saw that plan fall to ruin. Bitter and vengeful, Amaya has killed most of the guards who assisted in that raid, and now she's turned her eyes towards the Six, particularly Kato, who sold her out, and Katsu, a representative of what once inhabited her body.
Hiro Anzai - a Kuwa Oni and assistant to Amaya, in a rare case of a Nogitsune working with a fellow Oni. Hiro is the muscle behind Amaya's words and is the one to provide a blatant show of force, leaving the stealth to his lady. The two have a successful, if tense working relationship, and like Amaya, Hiro feels the sting of their defeat at the the hands of the still-forming Six quite strongly.
Jaskal - The Marai Rakshasa who killed Rin at the cost of having his plans for obtaining a rare artifact of incalculable power thwarted. since then no one has heard of the Rakshasa, though few doubt he is gathering power to try again. Katsu always listens for word of this fiend, eager to take revenge for the death of his friend and lover.