Shadowed Autumn Leaves
The "Ninja" of Tsuma
“This is not vengeance. This is not even justice. It is all I can do to prevent more tragedy. If you need to strike me down, then I will not stop you.”
Appearance and Personality
Hiruma Otsuko is a stern looking woman with long black hair worn wild. She seems to melt away into the shadows, and has deep set eyes with pupils dark as empty wells. Her skin is a sickly grey hue, and her thin lips are constantly dried and near bleeding. Perhaps she was pretty before the Taint took her, though any beauty was thoroughly washed away by the ravages of the Shadowlands. Similarly whatever personality Otsuko had before her affliction is lost, replaced by nothing but a cold determination to kill those who spread the Taint to her.
In 1180 Otsuko, then Hiruma Akimi, was selected to represent the Crab Clan at the Topaz Championship. During the weapons contest she was struck with a padded sword which had a jagged edge. She was cut, though the cut was nothing the Hiruma couldn’t handle. The shugenja attending to the contestants insisted to heal the wound, and the young Akimi relented. She went on the place well in the Iaijutsu tournament and earn the pride of the Crab. After her gempukku, Otsuko went on the perform her duties to her clan. After discovering her condition, her superiors turned her directly over to the Kuni. During her time under the watch of the Witch-Hunters she became obsessed with discovering the source of her Taint, a fanatical obsession which continued after she was released from the custody of the Kuni and transferred to the Legion of the Damned, a unique unit of Tainted Crab Deathseekers. In a moment of epiphany Otsuko realized the source of her Taint, though her overseers believed her impassioned ravings a sign of her infection growing. Knowing what that diagnosis would bring, Otsuko escaped the Legion of the Damned and set out to Tsuma.
Once arriving in Tsuma, Otsuko utilized the more unsavory skills she utilized in her duties to the Crab Clan to insure her suspicions were correct. She watched as ronin and judges sabotaged events, and performed dark rituals in the depths of Tsuma Mori. Now certain she would be taking the lives of her tormentors, Otsuko began killing them one by one. The old artisan Kakita Jutai was the first to die, killed on the road to Tsuma. Next was Seppun Akai, though her intervention was too slow to save the life of the Topaz Herald, Miya Hirada. During the hunting contest, the Tainted Hiruma appeared to the contestants who had come under assault from the underlings of her true targets. With her blade she swiftly felled several of the ronin assailants in but a few short moments. She gave the young samurai she had helped dire warnings, and then left them to continue her mission. Rumors ran wild about the so-called “Ninja” of Tsuma. After making quick work of Kakita Suman the embittered Hiruma had only one target left, Asahina Kaori, who had withdrew to the safety of her woodlands hideout deep in the Tsuma Mori. The promising contestants she had warned earlier were now tasked with hunting her, and though her work was not yet done, she choose to appear before them. After explaining her actions, and her murderous intentions for Asahina Kaori, Utaku Tomo declared that she could not stand idly by and allow Otsuko to continue her killing spree. Refusing to fight the innocent and honorable battle maiden, Otsuko allowed herself to be cut down by the Unicorn after ensuring her mission to defeat the maho-tsukai of Tsuma would be completed by the samurai who had killed her.