It is not my place to tell you of the birth of my homeland. Not even to tell you of the Gempei War, in which my ancestors the Minamoto defeated the Taira, or of the rise of the Taira as undead behind the ghostly child-Emperor Antoku and the wrathful ghost-warrior Taira Kiyomori, who rules the land now as Seiitai-Shogun, and has for… a thousand years, it would seem.
I am Sonoda Kumori, or at least that is the name I have taken in these lands. Kiyomori’s sorcerers, far away as they are, no doubt listen for the sound of my true name. I am the scion of the senior descendant family of the Minamoto, who defeated the Taira at Ichi no Tani and led Kiyomori to curse our homeland as he watched his family destroyed. I left a wife and young son behind to search these barbaric lands for the means to destroy the curse and free Kaidan from the terror that grips its heart.
In the course of our travels, my kinsmen and I came into possession of that lamp, sitting there on the table by your elbow. We found ourselves traveling through a mountain pass in rough weather when we were attacked by giants. Toranosuke and Heihachiro, who were like my brothers, died protecting me, and I watched in horror as purple smoke rose up around me, preventing me from acting to aid my cousin and bodyguard Masanari.
I found myself within the precincts of an opulent palace from which there was no exit. There were others similarly trapped within that realm, who came and went at the random whim, it seemed, of the gods themselves. I played my biwa, prayed to the Enlightened One, and practiced my sword. This went on for ten years. Every day, I thought of my wife, Atsuko, and my son, Nobutora. Every day I worried for my family, for my Emperor Go-Shirakawa, and for my homeland.
I emerged to find myself in a filth-encrusted shantytown in the midst of a horrid jungle, in the company of strangers. I have since learned to consider them my friends, enough to trust them with my mission, and to count on them in battle. I have learned that what felt like ten years for me in the palace of the lamp was a thousand years outside, and that no word has come of my homeland in eight hundred. But I shall not despair.
I know Kaidan exists still, for I have seen Kiyomori’s balefire gaze in my dreams, and I know he knows I exist, and seeks my death. My wife is gone, my son long dead, and his sons’ sons, but my mission remains. By the grace of the Enlightened One, I shall break the Wheel under which Kaidan groans, and I will personally send Taira no Kiyomori into hell, or die trying.