The History of Shinobi EmpiresThe Early Empire: Prior to the birth of Ninjutsu
Imperial Records state that Shinobi Empire was formed some 700 years ago in wake the unification of the Shinobi Nations by Emperor Jimmu Yamato. Prior to this it was a patchwork of divide conflicting nation with no leadership or drive. According to legends the war was over within months and all the saw the emperor noted his divinity and abased them selves before him. While even the most conservative scholars suspect Jimmu had to done more then simply show up and there are a brave few who stated that the success had little was not the emperor’s perceived divinity and a lot to do with his large, well organised and ruthless Samurai army. Whatever the truth the nations were unified and for 400 years the will of the emperor was unquestioned.
In time the emperor began to be recognised as a god and the people were indoctrinated to serve him without question. He remains viewed as such to this day, even though his role has become far more secretive and unseen.
The Coming of the Bijuu
When precisely the Bijuu arrived is still furiously debated in scholastic circles but none can doubt the impact they had on the empire or that had they not been checked that they would have ended civilised life as it was known. Why and from where they came was never learned, though all were demons of unbelievable power and strength against which not even the emperors innumerable armies could prevail. City after city burned, nation after nation fell and slowly but surely the emperor was pushed to the brink of destruction. The Emperor’s armies were skilled by comparison to normal men but as nothing compared to the Bijuu and all attempts to halt their advance met with disaster.
In desperation the then emperor Soga Yamato, sent forth messages throughout the land and beyond to nations unknown, and places before seen offering untold power and riches to anyone who save the empire. Many came to answer the call, elephant kings of Numeria, the pirates princes of the south even the Shinobi Empire’s traditional enemy, the Horselords of the great plains that lie north west of the empire. None proved capable of holding back the threat let alone stopping it. Soga in desperation turned to prayer and soon spent all his time in the great temple hoping for miracle. According to imperial accounts he use his divine powers to seek the men who would save them all, though most likely it was just coincidence that a distance message reached the one man who could help.
The Way of the Shinobi
Only one man is shown veneration the emperor himself and worshiped as god by many. His name was never known nor his origins. All that was is that he came from far to the east and he had an ability to draw the innate power within all of them and bend reality with it. He called it chakra and brought him the secrets of Ninjutsu. In recognition that like the Emperor he walked the divine path they gave him the title of the Redukko Sennin, the Sage of 6 Path.
The Sennin came to the Empire and revealed his true nature before the imperial court. The emperor awed by his abilities knew his prayers had been answered and told the people that the Sennin had been sent by divine will to rid them of the Bijuu.
When ask what he wished in return for saving the empire Sennin spoke that he wished the empire to adopted his teachings and that they be remembered for eternity. He revealed that many feared his abilities, labelling him a black sorcerer and that he feared that his secrets would not outlive him. He wished for a land to fully embrace what he could teach. The Emperor, though equally fearful of this potentially dark and terrible power, did not hesitate in providing a home for ninjutsu. Ever since it has been known as the Shinobi Empire,
In what became known as the Pact of Shadows, the Emperor granted express permission for the Sennin’s 5 apprentices, those who would in turn become the first Kages of the great villages, to raise armies, train and lead them as they saw fit in his name. Each would be separate entities, independent of one another and free to develop as they saw fit. It was with these forces that the Sennin took on the Bijuu and sealed each and every one away, saving the empire and bringing about the way of the Shinobi. The Sennin ultimately died completing the task when he sealed away the Kyuubi but ever since Nin have trained and fought in his memory ever ready to defend the empire.
For nearly two centuries an uneasy balance of power developed between the emperor and the great Sage’s successors. The emperor still ruled but by way of the Pact the Shadows, the shadows better known as Kages, commanded his armies. To ensure no dissension the emperor fostered competition between them, encouraging discord and bickering while training his own men in the way of the Shinobi till he had created a personal army capable crushing any one Kage who defied him. Despite this the villages prospered and life, though chaotic, was good.
In attempt to further undermine the influence of the greater villages, the Treaty of Shaded Dawn was formed allowing a number of other nations within the empire to create Shinobi villages in competition with the greater nations. These new rivals sewed more internal conflict further empowering the emperor. Unfortunately while highly effectively the policy had one crucial flaw, it created a disconnect that led to a gulf in leadership and co-operation. Ultimately the policy failed when almost 200 years ago the empire was threatened by a mass invasion from the Horselords. While having no Nin they had some rudimentary understanding of chakra at this time and they outnumbered the Shinobi some 10 to 1. It was said that the army was limitless and the arrows it produced where so numerous as to block out the sun. A combined army from all the villages formed to take on the threat but petty infighting disabled their ability to react or plan effectively and following 3 major defeats and the loss of a 1/3 empire to the advance of Horselords things were looking dire.
The then Emperor Fukito decided that the weakness built into the system must be removed and that unity must be needed to stem the tied. He thus appointed the most gifted the Kage’s of the 5 great villages, the then Mizukage, the Shogun or war leader of the army and gave him general authority over all other Kages. It worked, under the Mizukage’s lead the Shinobi acted as one and used their skill and superior ability to drive the Horselords back across the mountains of Iwa saving the empire.
So happy was Emperor Fukito with the result that he made the position of Shogun are permanent one to ensure never again would the empire be weakened by disunity and distrust. To ensure it could not threaten him or his successors long term however the Shogunate was not made hereditary and would be awarded to however prove themselves the most worthy following the death of the last one. More importantly the shogun could only request aid and command combined forces not control them outright leaving the villages still large independent and highly competitive. At the same the imperial bodyguard, the only force still under the emperor’s direct command was massively expanded into the vast and terrible army it remains today in exploitation of the fact there was no technical limit on how many guards the emperor could maintain. Fortunately while further securing the emperor’s position it did not change the balance of power since the imperial guard were not allowed to leave the imperial city except to enforce imperial edicts or to escort the emperor and have remained a largely unseen force since its formation.
For nearly two centuries the Shogunate has persisted without problem, with each of great villages vying for supremacy every 25 years or so once the incumbent Shogun passes away. These periods of conflict became known as the Shinobi wars and became a fact of Shinobi life.
Beginning of the End?
Things might have persisted in this fashion to this day. However al civilisations change and fluctuate whether it is for good and worse and these are normally the results of an ambitious few driving the old world to edge. Over the centuries a number of groups tried to destabilise the power players but without success. A little over 20 years ago this changed with the formation of the Shantakai. Though small this group of ambitious and highly talented Nin forced and all out rebellion against the Shogunate. At first it was little more then descent but they bided their time and raise an army by nefarious means capable of evening challenging the then shogun, the 8th Hokage.
What was to become known as war the Yellow Banner rebellion was the bloodiest war in since the invasion of the horse lords. Whole armies of Nin died and nations were brought to their knees. The Shogun not only had to muster Konoha’s mighty army but call upon the other nations to vanquish this foe. In the end the Shantakai were undone from within, betrayed and led into a trap where its main army was annihilated and according to reports all of its leaders and elite Nin killed though the nations are ever on guard against their return. The cost however was far greater then the Shinobi villages could imagine. Not only did the Shogun die but most of the other Kages and some 50% or more of their trained Nin so bloody was the conflict and battle that ended it.
Our plot takes place 10 years from this point and even now the nations are struggling to come to terms with the conflict. During the period no new Kage has been appointed as no nation has proved itself strong enough to warrant the title or gather the supported needed for their Kage to be invited to the imperial court and be appointed.
Talking of the Imperial court and the Emperor no one is certain what is going on or why the emperor has yet to intervene. It would have been simply for emperor to dispatch the imperial guard to crush the rebels but throughout he has remained unmoved. Some minor dissent has been sparked on the basis the emperor is uncaring of his subject’s plight and there are even rumours questioning the merit in paying the imperial taxes. Quite rumours and hidden dissent for the moment, for the Emperor’s personal guard were not diminished by the conflict and by all accounts are capable of reducing any equivalent force to ash for questioning the will of their divine lord.
Not all is grim though, two Nations have risen to a point they might now be able to claim the title of Shogun. Iwa, solid and dependable took as many losses as the next nation in the last conflict, by determination and iron strong will to succeed has seem them recover in less then a generation. Its training grounds once more ring with the sound of conflict and its skilled Nin abound. As the most powerful of the 5 traditionally greater villages it believes that the Shogunate belongs to them by right and eager to see its Kage made Shogun.
However while no other great village can currently compete with Iwa its route to power is not uncontested. A lesser village Kusa has against all tradition has signified its own claim to the shogunate. Worse still they have had the right to claim ratified by the emperor allowing them to officially contest for the right. Kusa is famous as relaxed nation with strong ties to nature and a dislike for regulation. It’s also famous for being the richest hidden village in the empire which in spite of its small size occupies the most fertile and sought after land in the empire. Traditionally Kusa’s relaxed stance and internal disorganisation has stopped it from challenging the greater powers and applying its legendary wealth to the matter at hand but recent co-ordination by a leadership with a common goal has changed the nature of the conflict. Kusa’s armies have always been relatively large for it size, in part to protect its sovereign wealth, and now allied with money and purpose it threatens to wrest Iwa’s prize from its grasp.