The Nether Scrolls
Kurushimi no Kage
A wanderer seeking to right wrongs and free the oppressed wherever he can.
In his only concession to vanity, Kage keeps his head shaven to display the monastic tattoos on his head, the final gift from Kurokumo before his death. His eyes are pure white with no pupils, the result of a near death battle with a drow slaver during his escape from Calaunt. His tattoos and eyes, combined with his lack of social skills, often pose an impediment to interacting with others, and often frighten those he is trying to help.
Kage regularly fasts so as to better unite himself with those who are hungry and has taken a loose vow of poverty. He will distribute what wealth he gains to those in need, on his own terms, where he believes it will do the most good. He realizes he must maintain himself in readiness, so does not neglect to spend on his own upkeep, training and equipment, always choosing form over function.
Kage grew up in the slums of Calaunt. His father was a petty criminal, stealing what he could to survive, and wound up a victim of the harsh justice of the city lords, executed when Kage was still a baby. His mother was taken in one of the covert nighttime raids by slavers from Westgate, when he was 8 years old. Kage did the best he could to survive alone on the streets. Wary and distrustful of everyone, he grew in street smarts, but not in social skills. Eventually his luck ran out. Things roam the night in Calaunt, and one night Kage found himself face to face with an enemy he could not out run or outsmart: one of the “Calaunt Gargoyles.” The gargoyle played with him, chasing him through the streets for sport, eventually driving him into the dark ward of Mistshore. Kage was cornered when a man stepped from the shadows an placed himself between the monster and his prey. The stranger beat back the beast with a flurry of strikes. When the gargoyle teleported behind the man, he simply stepped into the shadows, only to reappear behind the gargoyle, and pressed his attack. The beast, faced with a foe who was his equal, fled.
The man took the beaten and exhausted boy, stepping into another shadow, and reappearing in the wrecked hull of a half sunken ship. He introduced himself as Kurokumo, an exiled monk from Kara-Tur. He has come to Calaunt decades ago, lured away from his monastic life by the promise of riches and fame by one of the Merchant Dukes of Calaunt. The Duke wanted to learn the Way of Shadow so as to increase his power among his rivals. Kurokumo had known nothing but the temple since the time of his birth, and the Duke made fantastical promises if the monk would come to Calaunt and train him. Kurokumo agreed and journeyed to Calaunt, but the Duke quickly grew tired of the rigorous devotion demanded of him, and cast Kurukumo aside. Penniless and in danger, Kurokumo fled to the only place he knew: the shadows.
Kurokumo taught Kage the Way of Shadow, teaching him the basics, and teaching him to defend himself. He also imparted to Kage the wisdom he himself had learned by his experience with the Duke. The strong prey upon the weak, and the rich used the poor, because the poor were economically weak. The unprincipled pursuit of power and wealth corrupts the human spirit.
When Kurokumo became ill, he insisted that Kage leave the city, and charged him to travel Faerun, seeking peace and growth. Where he found oppression, he was to intervene as best he could, though not every ill was within his power to undo. Only as he grew in strength and understanding would he be able to right the greatest of wrongs and release the most oppressed from their bonds, therefore he must not throw away his life needlessly. As he grew in understanding, the Ways of Shadow would open before him. Kurokumo named the boy Kurushimi no Kage, in his language meaning Shadow of Suffering.