Open What Shadows Lie

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Old wood groaned as the weary staircase shifted under Rei’s weight, and the young woman moved slowly, pausing after each step to listen. The steps themselves weren’t so different, they squeaked when stepped on, croaked as they settled, but stillness made things clear, the gentle roll of her own breathing, the sharp cut of wind through a cracked window. When nothing responded, Rei would take another step, and the attic door would loom ever closer. It had been a fine door once, but now what remained of the door bowed inwards held upright by a dislocated hinge, the dark beyond undaunted by the beam of her flashlight.

It had to be here.

Rei tucked her rifle into the hollow of her right shoulder as she ascended the final step. She reached out and placed the palm of her left hand against the battered door, the rough wood prickling against her skin. She applied pressure, the hinge protested with a screep but relented as the door shuttered forward an inch. Rei once more paused as she listened for the response of the house. Gentle rhythmic creaks. The whisper of disturbed air. The itch of silence. Rei pressed and the door granted her another inch.

She could feel the wind outside wavering of the walls around her, the house’s crooked joints stretching to retain their intended shape. Rei shifted her weight forward, she pressed her shoulder against the door as she returned her left hand to her rifle to keep it steady. She slid the rifle’s barred through the gap allowing the light of her flashlight to bleed through and chase away a thin beam of gloom. A doll sat on a trunk, time leaving its face more cracks than porcelain as its eye glittered welcome.

Left or right. Her body tensed as she leaned against the door, and with an exhale she relaxed. She willed her heart to calm. Right felt correct.

With a shove of her shoulder Rei pushed the door open the remainder of the way and slipped through the opening. The air here felt slimy against her skin, and carried with it a lingering smell of dampness with a sharp undercurrent of sickly-sweet wood rot. Rei swept her rifle to the right to check her surroundings as she stepped up onto the landing. Dark rushed to fill the places the light did no touch, it turned chairs to teeth, water-damaged rolls or carpet into misshapen bodies, and it granted motion to the edge of vision. She moved carefully here, tested rotten flooring with the balls of her feet before trusting her weight to it fully, remained wary of pieces of trash she could stumble on. Her eyes studied the places where darkness gathered, corners, edges, and —

Hairs on the back of her neck bristled as something cold settled between her shoulder blades. Rei stopped. The floorboard underfoot crackled, but Rei’s gaze lingered on a knot of dark that shivered with a sigh of wind. A torn dress? Curtains? Carefully Rei placed her index finger against the trigger guard and she smoothly traced her beam of light along the back wall stopping as it reached the twist of darkness.

And the shadow twitched.

A snarl, low and bestial, the sort that rattled in the marrow of the bones and prickled the skin, filled the room as the shadow unfurled. Its body spread wide as it lurched in her direction like fingers reaching, but Rei held, her finger falling to the trigger of the rifle. She aimed her light at the center of the mass, and shadow brined wherever the beam touched. Strips of frayed cloth burst orange as they were consumed. She didn’t flinch as the shadow crashed through a pile of decaying chairs and sent wooden shrapnel bouncing off her hip. She remained steady, finger resting on the trigger until she saw the shine of skin beneath the frayed cloth, then she squeezed.

The crack of the rifle filled the attic, bounced off the grumbling support beams as Rei yanked the bolt of her rifle back with her right hand. The shadow spun backwards with the force of the impact as the spent shell bounced into the dark with a hollow ring. Rei advanced, steps wide and quick, the bolt clicking back into place as she cycled the round. The shadow wheezed, the sound of wind creeping between trees on a moonless night.

Rei steadied the rifle and shone the light on what would pass for a head. Skin tightened the flesh and bone beneath smoldering, and its lips parted like an open wound. Empty sockets lingered, malice in the twist. Rei pulled the trigger and a second crack filled the air.


For those who have nowhere else to turn, a cozy shop bathed in the neon glow of the commercial district offers hope. It's doubtful you’ll find Final Rites listed among much more reputable establishments online, though it does have a website you can visit. No, this odd shop is the sort of thing you only really learn about by word of mouth from grateful customers or the recommendation of a local priest. Which is probably how the owner likes it, the services on offer aren’t really of much use to anyone who doesn’t already need the help. And, helps to keep curious kids away too.


The services offered by Final Rites is one that seems more in line with the superstitions of the past than they do the modern bustle of today. If you find yourself stained by a Noroi, one you can’t simply get cleansed away, then the Hexbreaker can free you of your curse, for a price.

Let’s take a step back.

Noroi are evil spirits born from the hearts of people and given shape by the grudges and resentments which we all carry. They are living curses, stains upon all that they touch and in a way that makes it foolish to try to apply reason to their actions. Noroi are our grudges, aimless and hungry, damaging all who pass too close and attract their attention. Once a person has caught their attention a Noroi will not let them escape, for some this means they will follow their victim home and for others they will find ways to pull the victim back to where the Noroi lingers. Not everyone can see these spirits, and even fewer know how to deal with them.

Hexbreakers are hunters of Noroi, though it’s hard to say if they really share much beyond that. Their reasons for getting into this line of work are often as different as the tools they use, perhaps one of the main things that they do share is the use of specialized lights and metals to make Noroi vulnerable. Often Hexbreakers will have deals with local shrines or temples, offering their services to help deal with stray Noroi that have made their way into modern life.

Curse Weavers are possibly one of the oldest practitioners of crooked magic. Using objects, Weavers capture Noroi and bend the spirits to their own design for use in rituals or the casting of spells or curses. Though, with Weavers it’s hard to say if there’s much difference between a spell and a curse. The Weavers of old left behind a legacy of strange rituals and binding curses that are said to be able to create Noroi or to command the spirit to your will, real ones you can find floating around in the net from time to time. There aren’t many Weavers left, but their objects remain bringing ruin to those unlucky enough to find one in their possession.

Sin Eaters are holders of a bloodline curse, one that they have inflicted upon themselves. Sin Eaters are those who have consumed a Noroi, and imprinted the curse upon their flesh. Their powers are those of the Noroi they have consumed, and their children shall share in their strength and always be haunted by the monsters living in their veins. The price you pay to become more than yourself.

There, the basics for you. Won’t even charge you.

So, tell me this, you looking for help or are you looking for work?
Practice: (Hexbreaker, Curse Weaver, Sin Eater, or religious sect)
Tools and Equipment: (What light source for a Hexbreaker along with any weapons or tools used, the object of power for a Curse Weaver)
Abilities: (What are they good at? What magic might they possess)
Rei Ayoama




Tools and Equipment:
A sturdy flashlight that has been modified to produce a specific form of UV light that burns Noroi and turns the intangible physical. This flashlight can slot into a rail on the side of Rei’s rifle.

A bolt action hunting rifle that her grandfather used to use to bring home food during the lean months and years. Reliable and well maintained.

Rei has a broad understanding of local myths and legends, as well as different rituals that are often used to attract the attention of Noroi. She’s an excellent marksman, with a calm steady hand.

Born in a rural mountain village in Ehime prefecture on Shikoku island of southern Japan, Rei was one of few children in her small community. Life in Katagawa village was pleasant but it came with its own set of struggles given how far the village was from the conveniences and safeties provided by modern society. Several hours by car for the nearest convenience store, on roads that were often maintained only by the community checking for fallen trees after major storms.

Like many rural communities, Katagawa came with several customs known only to the village, small festivals to celebrate local history, yearly blessings at a small temple, offerings made to an abandoned house that existed on the village’s periphery. It was that house where her troubles began. To this house where shadows reside yearly offerings were made to a spirit of misfortune that was said to reside there, with the rule held that none may enter for misfortune would follow. But, kids are curious and in a village with little else to do checking out the house was tempting, and so on one dark night they decided to sneak in.

It was a small house, two rooms and sparsely furnished. Empty, if one ignored the creaking sound. Her friends didn’t see it, but Rei could, that clump of shadow that hung to the wall, and she couldn’t convince the others to leave before the inevitable happened. The shadow took its opportunity.

Once everything had settled one child was in a coma and Rei had been marked by a lingering curse. The village gathered to discuss what must be done, to protect those affected and the community, though Rei never really learned what the decisions were for the others, because as the decision was being made her parents loaded her into a car and they drove long into the night.

She spent some time all around Japan, between different temples and shrines, the sorts of places that could help to sever the links she maintained to her home village. Her traveling only ended for her once she moved to Tokyo to attend university, and it was also here that Rei began to work as a Hexbreaker. A story all its own perhaps, one that involved a friend going to a place she shouldn’t, a flashlight Rei received to chase away the dark, and a hunting rifle.

After she graduated from University she purchased a vacant shop off the hustle and bustle of a busy commercial street, and made a place where people with nowhere left to go could come and seek the help they needed.

Rei is slightly taller than average for women her age, her straight black hair just a little beyond shoulder length and often tied into a bun. Her eyes are a dark brown, and the soft features of her face often turned sharp by an expression that can be best described as serious. Around her left wrist is a dark band that looks almost like a bruise left by someone squeezing her arm far too tightly.

Name: Habiki Suden
Age: 28
Gender: Male

Practice: non-practicing
Tools and Equipment: none

Abilities: Roofing and construction. He's good with a nail gun and isn't afraid of heights.

You killed her, you know.

He could feel it, he always could. It started like a cold drip down the back of his neck, trailing down his spine. It warmed up as it moved down his back - warm and oily, viscous, sticky. He could try to wipe it off, but it was never there. It always came back, though.

And it was always right.

You killed her. She died because of you. If it hadn't been for you, she would still be alive.

People told him it hadn't been his fault. People lied, though, they always did. The shadows never lied, though - they whispered the truth, over and over. Sometimes when he was at work, sometimes when he was in bed lying awake, trying to sleep, failing. Sometimes when he held the baby, his baby, his weapon of murder. Those were the times that scared him, most of all, when it came so close to the baby.

He'd killed her, with that baby.

The doctors had tried to save her, but it hadn't been enough. If it hadn't been for him, for his mistakes, his hopes, his promises. He'd promised to be a father, to help her, care for her, marry her. They'd be a family. They could make it, it would be all right.

It wasn't all right, though, because his words couldn't keep her alive. All those words had only paved the path for her death, her murder.

All your fault. She's dead, and you're here. She deserved to live. She deserved to be here, but she isn't, she never will be. You killed her.


Appearance: Short black hair, brown eyes. Slightly above average height, a muscular build, especially in the shoulders and upper arms.

Chie Toudai
灯台 千映

24 Years Old


Born to the Toudai family, Chie comes from a long and practiced line of hexbreakers dating back to the 1600s. While often at odds with the Shogunate roots of other noroi hunters of the time, the Toudai's deep ties to Shinto authority and their more academic, religious origins were a large reason for their longevity past the 19th Century, helping them form closer ties with the imperial seat and putting them in favor with Emperor Meiji following his consolidation of power. While older houses loyal to the Shogunate faded into obsolescence, the Toudai served at the forefront of a secretive effort to cleanse the old demons from the land to make way for the new Japanese empire.

Unfortunately, they were just as much a part of the old world as the demons. Clinging to their Shinto roots, the Toudai family continued their way of life, unwilling to let go of ritual and traditions of the past, and as Japan modernized, they were left behind, a footnote in the dusty annals of history like their Shogunate rivals had become. Naturally, the Toudai family resents this, viewing the new hexbreakers that have arisen since as products of societal decay, lacking respect for the gods and spirits that make this island's blood.

At the center of the Toudai legacy is Hidama (火魂), a lantern passed down through the generations as tool to vanquish the noroi. It is a metal and glass sphere formed in the style of a chouchin lamp, hung from a threaded silver chain, and holds within a pale fire that flickers and dances no matter if the air is windy or still. This fire has been kept burning by the family for centuries - untouched from when the first hexbreaker of the Toudai, Ginjiro, a monk and craftsman from the north. While there has been speculation this lantern was created from a captured noroi, and that the family possesses the power to curse weave, these rumors are unfounded.

The light of Hidama is hypnotic to noroi, drawing their attention and, sometimes, their ire, but to touch the flame itself and other fires lit from its source causes them harm. Any flames born from Hidama have the same pale glow, but unlike the lantern itself, it seems impossible to sustain them - once their original fuel is depleted, the fire fades, and any attempts to reignite it only leads to a normal orange flame. Despite this, paper lamps sourced from Hidama are often used in Toudai hunts, as the hexbreaker places them around the perimeter of an area a noroi has been found to prevent the spirit from escaping. Also, Toudai hunters will often bring with them a flask of rice wine, which they use as a source of fuel during their rituals.
Name: Kasumi Sato

Age: 19

Gender: Female

Practice: Sin Eater

Tools and Equipment: A notebook in which she keeps all the notes of her own knowledge and research, a couple alchemical concoctions, and a bag of herbs and components should she need to apply first aid or magic in the field.

Personal Knowledge: Kasumi knows a small assortment of magics, whether they be for binding, for healing, or for causing damage. She also knows a fair amount about alchemy and medicinecraft, which she puts to good use creating concoctions to help the other hunters of Final Rites.

Kijo's Soul: Kasumi can call upon the spirit of the kijo that dwells within her. Its knowledge and magical abilities are hers to command, with one fatal catch: every second she uses those abilities is another chance for the kijo to take control of Kasumi's body and replace her as the dominant soul.

Biography: Of course she had heard of the Noroi. Almost every child is threatened with the wrath of the spirits if they don't go to bed on time. But they were supposed to be just that, a story to frighten children. Kasumi didn't expect them to exist at all, let alone that she would develop the ability to see them. But one evening in the marketplace, that was exactly what had happened. Besieged by sudden apparitions, Kasumi had fled, unsure of where she was heading, only that she needed to get away. She ducked into the nearest building, only to find herself in a low-lit, stiflingly warm space, heavy with the smells of incense and herbs. It was there that she met the monstrous woman, with blue skin, red eyes, ragged clothing, and long, tangled hair. Instead of yelling at the girl for entering her home uninvited, the woman told Kasumi to sit and listen. And thus, she began teaching Kasumi the ways of magic.

It was slow going, as Kasumi had little in the ways of inherited power from her family. But the woman, who revealed herself to be a kijo named Ichi, was persistent, and began to make progress on Kasumi's teachings. After almost a year of instruction, she declared Kasumi ready to attempt a ritual that would unlock the gate and set her on the road to true power. Unknown to Kasumi, Ichi had been lying to her the whole time. The ritual in question was one designed to displace the soul of one magic practitioner and have another replace it. The year of training had been to introduce Kasumi to magic, allowing Ichi to replace her older, frail form with a younger, stronger one.

As the ritual was performed, Kasumi was still unaware of its true purpose. Yet subconsciously, she resisted. Ichi had underestimated the girl, and her soul lashed out at Ichi in defense. A blinding flash of light brought the ritual to a close, and when Kasumi opened her eyes, she was the only one there. Her skin felt tight, and her head was pounding. Confused and scared at what might have happened, she sought out a priest. At the mere mention of the kijo, he immediately directed her to Final Rites. There, she found out what she had done, and what she had become. So she joined the practitioners at Final Rites, aiding them in whatever way she could. The new voice that lurked within the back of her head supplied answers to her questions, gave her power when hers ran dry, and taught her new spells when she felt she wasn't doing enough. Despite the voice still calling, Kasumi has done her best to block it out, realizing that every whisper she acknowledges brings her closer to ruin.

Appearance: Kasumi is a short, unassuming figure with pale skin and straight black hair that travels down to the small of her back. Her soft face is fairly plain, save for her red irises and sharp, jagged teeth. The former she can't really hide, but the latter are usually kept hidden from most by only speaking when she feels necessary. Her nails are long, but just short enough to not be considered claws, and hidden by her hair are two little nubs on her forehead: the beginnings of horns. These changes came rapidly, during a time in which Kasumi earned a reputation as one of the best researchers at Final Rites. In reality, she had been drawing on the knowledge of the Noroi spirit within her, and the price lay in her features beginning to twist into those of a kijo.

Hanashi "Hana" Sugi

- Age: 21

- Height: 5'3

- Weight: 124 lbs

- Role: Curseweaver


Hana is part of a long and illustrious bloodline of magic practitioners skilled in the art of binding and shaping noroi to their will. Her great-grandfather was the renowned craftsmen Satoshi Kanzō, one of the last of the great curseweavers in Japan in service to the imperial hexbreakers that kept this country safe. While he passed on his knowledge and skills to his daughter, Hana's grandmother did not continue his legacy, instead desiring to live a simple life.

Of course, that didn't stop Hana from begging to know, at first trying to teach herself from old dusty books and scrolls the family kept locked away - and then, begrudgingly, under the tutelage of her grandmother, if only to keep her from accidentally killing herself. Even with the staying hand and stern warnings of her betters, she - has a bit of trouble taking the whole thing seriously.


While the artifacts of Satoshi Kanzō were noble weapons and tools - hand-forged swords and religious relics were of particular use to him - Hana's creations are far more - simplistic. An avid gamer, she's taken to drawing the minor noroi she finds into Gachadachi PonPon toys, a line of small, collectible "pocket friends" that come in colorful plastic consoles.

At the moment, she has three she's made:

  ✪ Kurokodori

A white egg-shaped toy with green splotches on the sides. The PonPon inside resembles an alligator with a wide smile. The noroi trapped inside was born of intense apathy, and its powers manifest as a curse of lethargy, slowness, and a loss of memory. Hana keeps this PonPon on the handle of her parasol.

  ✪ Suzumeiji

A bright orange and yellow toy with the appearance of a nest viewed from the top. The PonPon inside resembles a haughty-looking sparrow with a crown on its head. The noroi trapped inside was formed from feelings of losing control, and its powers manifest as a curse of compulsive behavior, obsession with details, and fixations. Hana keeps this PonPon on the zipper of her purse.

  ✪ Happijira

A lumpy blue toy that has crests on the top that look like waves. The PonPon inside resembles a dour whale that flicks its tail slowly across the screen. The noroi trapped inside was born of a longing for something that could never be, and its powers manifest as a curse of a deep allure, drawing attention, and baseless hope. Hana keeps this PonPon on the ribbon of her dress.

While each of these PonPons have a faint emotional affect simply by product of their creation, they must be concentrated on and channeled to have any sizeable effect. When this happens, the noroi trapped inside will appear, generally taking on the form of the PonPon mascot they've been bound inside. However, if the noroi lashes out or if concentration is broken, their form may become more monstrous, and their effects may grow unpredictable.
Seika Yagani



Shrine Maiden (Part-time)

Tools and Equipment:
A well folded white kosode and scarlet hakama are kept in her school bag for when she needs to change after class. She has access to a suzu as well as a wooden fox mask to perform the Dance of the Wild Fox which can, on occasion, draw the divine to her. She also owns a calligraphy set, which are helpful for the creation of charms and seals.

Seika is trained as n the creation of charms and talismans as well as how to cut the ties that bind Noroi to humans. She has been blessed by a kami, but what that means for her spiritual abilities has yet to be determined.


Momma what’s that?

A heavy wind rocked the branches of the trees carrying with it the smells of damp earth and loose leaves. Seika pointed up the mountain, past the red torii gate where a long black shape wriggled and twisted in a strange dance. Her parents both looked back to follow her finger into the distance, their brows knit.

Do you mean the old tree behind the shrine?” Her mother asked, but Seika shook her head, the ribbon in her hair shivering in the breeze.

No, it’s like, uhm, a snake? But bigger, wrapped around the tree.” Her face screwed up. Her mother placed her hand on Seika’s head.

Well, I think it’ll rain soon, so we should get going. How about we get some ice cream on our way back?” Her father said, Seika’s expression brightened as she took hold of her mother’s hand, the snake forgotten. They didn’t make it far, however, before the sound of something snappingreverberated down the valley. The three looked back towards the shrine as the old tree fell, and Seika could only watch as the great black snake brought its body down onto the side of the mountain. Earth shook underfoot, and the mountain itself seemed to quiver. Slowly, ever so slowly the trees at the top seemed to slip, and she felt her father’s hand on her back pushing her forward.

Back to the shrine” her father yelled, and the trio ran, her mother scooping Seika up into her arms. The snake, freed from the tree it had coiled around, continued to thrash, sending another tremor through the earth. Around them stone groaned and crackled as a violent wind screamed through trembling trees as the sides of the mountain began to slide. Her father tripped as they ran, and her mother slowed for only a moment. “Go!” her father yelled, as he scrambled back to his feet, before he vanished behind a river of earth.

The ground closed in as the duo ran up the stairs, earth and stone and trees swallowing a torii gate as they passed beneath it. A woman stood at the top of the hill, her hands outstretched. She was strange, like her eyes a little too wide, or her expression much too calm, but for a moment through her tears Seika felt safe.

Please!” The woman took Seika from her arms as stones swept across her mother’s legs, and then she was gone. The woman looked down, and brushed the hair from Seika’s eyes.

Please, don’t cry.” The woman spoke, and there was silence save for the sound of bells distantly ringing.

Seika was found a day and a half later within the main hall of the shrine, her head resting upon the lap of a woman who vanished as soon as the doors were opened.