HWE Kasha Picture

Name: Kasha

Alias: Fire Cart, Fire Cat, Corpse Robber Cat, Mr. 'the real party starts when you're dead!'

Alignment: Chaotic Evil (aka Chaotic Necrophilia)

Rank: 1-2 Kaijin

Race: Yokai

Size:

Height: 7 to 13 ft. tall

Weight: 260 to 1600 lbs.

Powers:

Corpse Lover - Kasha can detect any recently dead or fairly intact and preserved human corpses within a 6 mile radius. Like Nekomata, a Kasha can reanimate and control these bodies should they wish to though for the most part they like eating them. Unlike Nekomata, a Kasha can potentially imbue a Corpse with a spark of unlife, whether it is the soul of the corpse itself that hasn't properly moved on or a random Hito-Dama that the Kasha lures in with a suitable vessel. While a Kasha has less capacity in terms of quantity of puppets, it can make up for it in quality. The corpses under a Kasha's direction are often stronger and more resilient than they were in life. Some even becoming Yokai in their own right if the Kasha doesn't eat them soon enough or deliberately keeps them around. This is particularly useful for Kasha that are employed by powerful denizens of the Toho Plane's 'hell' as it serves as method of locking a spirit in a body of flesh and spiriting them off to the Toho Plane for 'judgment'. Needless to say, this is terrifying to Yokai in the Yurei family as the Kasha is effectively their boogey man.

Hell Fire - A Kasha's mastery of spiritual flames is so intense that it is always surrounded by a perpetual mantle of hell fire. It has a level of manipulation that could very well be considered pyromancy. Able to release the flames into not only balls or mantles of fire but also every other manifestation and shape imaginable. At this point the fire a Kasha uses IS alive and is in a perpetual symbiotic relationship with the Kasha, protecting its host and choosing whether to be warm and harmless or horrifically cremating. The flames could very well be condensed into makeshift explosions in and of themselves. Understandably the nature of the flames makes them all but impossible to extinguish using non Enigma laden means.

Feline Super Spy - A Kasha has traded the bulk of a Nekomata for the condensed power, stealth and agility of a more an entirely upright and bipedal form. They can assume the forms of those they have eaten and domestic cats but often do some only to evade detection or to infiltrate a funeral as per their usual objective. All other versatility in shape shifting or illusion went into their transformation into Kasha. So when it comes to a fight, a Kasha prefers its true form where it can revel in the flames it spreads in its wake. It otherwise is quite skilled at remaining undetected until it strikes. It's humanoid form aiding it in remaining unremarkable if observers spy only a fleeting glance. In the hells or in an area drenched in flames, a Kasha can gain full concealment at will by moving among the flames and obscuring its outline in them.

Elemental Switch - If for whatever reason a Kasha's flames prove to be ineffective or if it simply feels more in tune to that particular element, a Kasha can change its flames into lightning . It requires a large storm nearby in order to do so but Kasha can often engineer such storms by burning excessively and causing a strong hot current to rise. Rarely, an elder Kasha can alternate freely between the two elements or call a random lightning strike if a storm is overhead.

Weaknesses:

Water- The age old aversion to water that many cats have is the Kasha's ultimate foil. It renders their powers moot should they ever be fully immersed. Thus while it takes quite a bit to get a Kasha wet, once they are they cannot use their elemental powers until they dry.

Oriental Faith - Asian religions and rites are even more important for stopping a Kasha then they are a Nekomata. Reciting "don't be eaten by a baku, don't be eaten by a Kasha' twice in Japanese can drive them out of the area and often into confrontation with a Baku who is suddenly intrigued as to why it's presence is being scorned. Also putting a shaving razor used to shave the heads of Buddhist Monks on a coffin can keep a Kasha from opening it and is an effective talisman against them. Otherwise it is common to fill a coffin with rocks for the first funeral so that the Kasha exposes itself and then having the second funeral be the real funeral to lessen the chances of the Kasha attacking and making off with the body. Finally the sound of a myohachi , a type of cymbal, drives Kasha up a wall and can render their corpse puppetry and general presence void.

More Than One Way To Skin A Cat - If one somehow manages to shave a Kasha's fur off, they will be consumed by their own elemental powers. Items made from Kasha pelt impart this elemental defense to their wearers. Though it bears mentioning that wearing a Kasha pelt makes you a beacon for other Kasha who will hunt you down and do very nasty things to you and your soon to be dead body.

No Rest For The Wicked - Kasha cannot resist the bodies of wicked people. They will go beyond the impossible and face ridiculous odds to spirit off a body belonging to a person that was unrepentantly vile in their lifetime. Many Kasha trade such poor bastards in for favors and rare goods in the Toho Plane. If one is trying to catch a Kasha, attending the funeral of a wicked person is an almost sure fire way to catch them in the act. A Kasha can tell if a body holds a wicked soul or not, it instinctively senses such qualities.

---

Day 16: Hellfire Corpse Thieves and Mercurial Snow Maidens

Ruki was unexpectedly late today again, coming into Kaitheros's lair in a somber mood. The onyx scaled theropod sensed the Miko's sullenness.

"Something happen in town today Ruki?" Kaitheros offered.

"One of the...*sniff* One of the elders passed away today. Most are still busy collecting what remains of the harvest or preparing for the cooler rains to come in soon. So they asked me to preside over the funeral and perform specific funeral rites. I knew most of them but there were some odd ones today that I never heard of before. I'm just glad I was able to do a proper sendoff. She was one of my favorites." Ruki said while wiping the remaining moisture from the tip of her nose."

"I...see." Kaitheros replied delicately. "We are on a schedule of sorts but I can give you a day to sort this out if you need to."

"N-no thank you Thero-Kun. It's fine. I actually don't want to be in the town today. I'll just remember too much. I actually wanted to verify the odd ones I learned about today." Ruki reassured him.

Kaitheros was skeptical of how 'fine' Ruki was but was also intrigued by her exposure to some new funeral rites.

"What were these rights Ruki?"

"Well we started by double stacking the coffin. There was a second bed that was placed inside the coffin that was filled with smooth stones, each one with messages and mementos for a successful and blessed passing. It was placed over the elder before it was closed. Then I was asked to march ahead of the procession and say 'don't be eaten by a Baku, don't be eaten by a Kasha' twice before we got started. Then when we got there they placed a strange razor on top of the coffin before it was lowered down. The funeral then proceeded as usual. When I asked about it the other elders said that she was very superstitious and had wanted those rites preformed before she was buried." Ruki explained.

"Ah, I remember that one." Kaitheros nodded with realization. "That old woman was very mindful of the old traditions that were used to ward off Yokai. Her family has a history with one of the Yokai you just spoke of in that procession march."

"...The Baku? Or the Kasha?"

"You don't need to worry about the Baku...it's actually rather clever how that rite works though disturbing a body before it can be buried is rife with unfortunate consequences regardless of reasons. But we will speak of the Baku another time. Rather many of those rites are deliberately preformed with the Kasha in mind."

"The Kasha? Is that another cat Yokai? It sounds like a flaming cart monster." Ruki asked.

"Very astute today...yes a Kasha is the third, last and most nightmarish of the feline Yokai. It is the one that Yurei and the like actively fear and it is the one that delights in not just simply disturbing funerals and desecrating graves but actually stealing the corpses right out of their coffins."

"Is that why we burn most of our dead?"

"Enshrining your elders is something that comes to nearly all cultures of man I have seen. But yes I never did understand the pomp and ceremony you humans place on your dead to the extent that you leave looming fields of stone edifices just begging to be picked apart by scavengers anyway...or worse." Kaitheros trailed off.

"Hey! Don't we have something like that here in the Den of Predation? A certain cave..."

"That's a different matter entirely Ruki. Not just any dead thing finds rest in that hollow. Though that wouldn't stop certain Yokai from wanting to plunder it regardless." Kaitheros snorted defensively.

"So these Kasha...would they be among those Yokai?"

"Thankfully no. Kasha prefer intact human cadavers with a majority of their flesh still attached. The bones of ancient predators would be too much for them to carry, not that they would bother. If a Kasha infiltrated the Den it would be the town I would worry about." Kaitheros assured her.

"So this is a human problem." Ruki confirmed quietly.

"Simply because a Kasha prefers to steal human corpses doesn't mean I'd tolerate them any more than I do now...which is none." He corrected. "Kasha are the final result of what cat Yokai become after nearly 2-3 centuries worth of meddling with the dead and wreathing themselves in the spiritual flames of vengeful spirits. Their pain that became malice now becomes outright diabolic in nature. They have embraced the dead as kin in every way imaginable and gleefully torment humans at their emotionally weakest moments by stealing their deceased loved ones and devouring them. Either that or turning them into puppets for their amusement and use. Once a Kasha has stolen a corpse, it is nearly impossible to track the creature down again and retrieve it."

"So Kasha are the ones that really screw with dead people." Ruki snarked.

"Sometimes literally." Kaitheros answered, deadpan.

"...Are you for REAL! That's not even....That's...UUUGGGH~!" Ruki shuddered at the very concept.

"When I said 'embrace the dead' I was not kidding." He reminded the Miko. "Now you know why I find these particular Yokai utterly heinous. They are quite at home in the hells of the Toho Plane where they are sometimes hired by the powerful wardens there to track down the recently deceased and utterly wicked to be dragged back to the hells for 'judgement'."

"Is it some weird manifestation of a cat's habit of bringing you dead stuff? Because that MIGHT have made sense."

"...Now that you mention it, that's actually a feasible bit of logic. I never thought about it that way. Then again, I don't take pleasure in thinking about Kasha in general. Nasty little pyromaniacs the lot of them."

"Oh so these guys use spirit flames too huh. I guess they also eat bears. Hell, maybe these ones eat Elephants." Ruki concluded.

"On that front we are somewhat fortunate. Kasha are not much bigger than a human or a small Oni. They could kill a bear certainly but really only as a collateral use of their flames. Flames that are so infused with vengeful spirits that they are living. Regarding the Kasha as a host and in existence to symbiosis. This gives the Kasha a degree of control over fire that rivals the greatest of magi."

"I don't get it, why would it want to be smaller when it spent all that time trying to get bigger?"

"Yokai measure strength in terms of energy more than size. To a Kasha, condensing their frame and power is decision that aids them enhance vital powers and reduce the energy spent on keeping powers they don't need. For example, Kasha do not have the shape shifting versatility of Bakeneko or Nekomata. They prefer domestic house cats and rarely people they have eaten to random humans or large predatory cats. The Kasha has traded in being a large super predator for being an elusive and dangerously specialized stalker. Adopting a humanoid form gives the Kasha the sort of influence they need to infiltrate human society while also being incredibly dangerous if exposed."

"The rites I learned about earlier...those repel Kasha? For real?"

"Ah, they do indeed. The first one you mentioned is particularly amusing. By denying both a Kasha and Baku from attending a funeral gets the attention of both Yokai. The Kasha knows why it's being prayed against but the Baku becomes confused and investigates. Frequently the Baku comes into conflict with the Kasha and thus buys the procession time to purify and bury the body."

"So do Baku fight over Kasha for the body?"

"Hah, no. The only reason priests would not want a Baku at a funeral is if the deceased had a wicked soul and they don't want to take the chance of the spirit and the Baku causing collateral damage as the Baku seeks to devour it, as it does all negative ode. Without going into detail, let's just say that a Baku is the last thing a Kasha wants to run into while it's trying to steal a corpse."

"So...Baku are good Yokai? You know...if something like that exists in the Toho Plane other than little tree spirits." Ruki sighed.

"I know it might seem like every Yokai is a foul and contemptible abomination of nature, and make no mistake there are many that are exactly that. However, I have yet to tell you of those in the Toho Plane that were positive influences on Mankind before the enigma waned. However, I must prepare you for the ones that obviously aren't."

"Is that why you covered the Oni first?"

"Of course! Though they are also a Yokai that many remember. As the Kasha, they are more obscure but are much more insidious and have ramifications for the spiritual health of an ecosystem."

"What do you mean? You said that ghosts fear them? Why?"

"You know how Nekomata can animate corpses but can't control free willed undead?"

"Yeah...why?"

"Kasha have engineered a loophole of sorts. They're mastery of the necromatic arts allows them to either lock the soul of the deceased inside the corpse or to lure another into it in order to add a spark of unlife to the body. As you can imagine, being locked in a prison of flesh would be horrific to a Yurei or even an Onryo. Especially since they can then be easily spirited off to the Toho Plane and the boiling hells where the Kasha trade such corpses along with the wicked they normally sniff out."

"Really...an Onryo can be contained in a body that way and sold on an Yokai blackmarket?" Ruki asked eyes wide.

"Onryo are devastatingly powerful spirits but they aren't invincible. Remember that Kasha have a perverse love for the dead and-"

"Yeah...yeah that's sick...and disgusting...and wrong. Did I mention sick?" Ruki interjected.

"I believe the phrase you humans came up with was 'any given Tuesday' or among Yokai it's 'A Drowned Kappa'. Even the most powerful of creatures can have an vulnerability and even Yokai have an 'order' amongst themselves. Even a Kappa can drown should the conditions be too adverse for it to survive. Such is the capricious but self correcting will of nature. But now you have a clear picture as to why a Kasha would cause severe spiritual unrest."

"Great, so we have a cat monster that steals, eats and...and...does 'that' to corpses. Kidnaps souls by locking them in bodies and selling them on the blackmarket in hell, have living hellfire powers and can still stay hidden in plain sight by turning into something else. It's strong enough to run off with a dead body so it must be strong enough to rush off with that much dead weight. Meaning it's obviously stronger than a human could probably rip apart a bear. Well Thero-Kun, sounds like all we have on the table is how to keep it from stealing bodies." Ruki summarized.

"I should also mention that the flames of a Kasha are almost entirely constant and that there are Kasha that are covered in lightning, able to switch between the two."

"Thero-kun...how do I beat this thing?" Ruki asked darkly.

Kaitheros was taken aback by the quiet intensity of the question but knew she was serious.

"The first major weakness of a Kasha is water. Regardless of what element they are using, they will lose the use of it while they remain wet. Getting them wet however is difficult as a single bucket of water will not suffice to get through such ferocious hell fire or wrathful lightning. You would need to submerge the Kasha entirely."

"Gotta dunk the bastard, gotcha."

"The second ties into the shaving razor that you saw being placed on the coffin. A razor used by a holy man of Oriental faith is a lethal talisman against them. Should a Kasha be shaved of its fur, it will not be protected from its own element and be consumed by its own power."

"Okay, get shaving razor used by monk and give the kitty a trim, anything else?"

"It likely wasn't preformed at the funeral but if one uses a myohachi, a type of cymbal, the sound will drive Kasha away and dispel their control over their corpse puppets. Which can also free a soul trapped in one of those puppets."

"I guess my other talismans and the like wouldn't be so useful against a Kasha."

"They can shield you and keep you safe from its attacks should you be prepared. It is the unprepared demon hunter that should fear the Kasha the most or they could very well find themselves spirited it off to the boiling hells. But to drive it off or offensively exterminate it, one must used specialized means to handle a specialized Yokai."

"You know...I think the elder wanted those rites preformed because she might have been scared that a Kasha might have stolen her body given the chance." Ruki said softly.

"When that woman was a little girl, was the last time I encountered a Kasha on the Material Plane. It was a starved and wretched thing, desperately seeking enough enigma to keep itself together. Yet in spite of this it still had this fascination with that family. Almost like it's anger had become malice and then curdled into a warped and sickening sort of obsession one could suppose was its idea of love. When that elder's grandmother died, it threw everything it had toward reaching her body. It was shortly exterminated but perhaps that's what it wanted, burning to embers and ultimately being buried along with her. I almost pitied it...almost."

"Sounds like it cared...in its own way." Ruki admitted.

"Yokai for all their eccentric flaws are at the core of their existence still creatures of this world. It's one of the things that sets them apart from and against Fey. It is the rare Yokai that is so alien and estranged from the world that it has nothing in common with it at all. Kasha for all their horrific habits are the end result of a the sort of environment that made Cat Yokai what they are. Those that are abused frequently become abusers themselves. Kasha do perform a useful service in spiriting wicked souls to the boiling hells...but like many Yokai they are also selfishly indiscriminate about their choice of targets."

"So...Thero-Kun have you ever been to the Toho Plane? Do you know what it's like there? Does it have places of real peace and beauty or is just a chaotic nightmare full of critters from legend?"

"I've seen enough of it, both when it bled into the Material Plane and times when I have had to venture into it. The Toho Plane is as far as I can describe it 'a wonderland'. It a place of dream and nightmare in equal measure. The Magi certainly tried to make it a paradise and in many ways it still carries that aesthetic. However I won't lie Ruki, the boiling hells are just the most notorious of the sorts of locations that are the stuff of gut wrenching horror stories. Few things in existence have done macabre to the degree that Yokai can. And now that I think about it, you are familiar with the few frozen peaks of our dear Hoshoku yes?"

"Mmm, the Dragon Tooth Mountains to the west right?"

"One of the few places in my Ark that have elevations that allow snow to blanket it. In a lot of ways Winter, ice, snow, these things are much like the character of the Toho Plane. Beautiful and wondrous but also still very dangerous for the unprepared. Matter of fact there is a Yokai that represents that aspect in a very literal sense. Something very different from a Kasha in almost every way."

"What the Baku?"

"No no, not THAT different. I speak of the maiden of ice and snow. The Yuki Onna."

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Continue Reading: Ages of Man