HWE Itachi Picture

Name: Itachi

Alias: Ten, Marten, Weasel, Idazuna, three primary types.

Aligntment: Chaotic Evil (aka 'Chaotic Asshole')

Rank: 1 Kaijin, can reach greater sizes by working with other Itachi

Race: Yokai

Size:

Length: 3 to 9 ft. long, Itachi range from the size of a dog to the size of a person.

Height: same as length if standing on hind legs.

Weight: 60 to 180 lbs. Itachi are lithe and light.

Types of Itachi:

Itachi-bi - This is the most common type of Itachi. They manifest an aura of spiritual flames and are closely aligned with fire. These Itachi spear ahead attacks to disorient and knock down victims. Working together they can form columns of flame. They are also master shape shifters and able to manifest a forbidden ninth category of form. An Itachi-bi can gradually become any other type of Itachi and back again with age and power. The eldest of which can freely assume all three or a combination of them at all. Itachi-bi generally appear much like a natural weasel but their coat shines like fire is glinting off it and their eyes glow.

Kama-Itachi - These Itachi freely ride the wind in the form of dust devils and cyclones. Their fur is like a hedgehog's, spiny and sharp. Their claws are steel blades with the center toe being like swords or scythes. These claw blades are razor sharp and cut so deeply and so cleanly that victims don't realize they've been grievously cut until minutes later where they begin bleeding profusely. Kama-Itachi are the fastest of Itachi and can deliver thousands of cuts in an instant. They are the second to attack, weakening the victim and potentially slaying them. They are predominately white in color.

Kage-Itachi - This Itachi slithers through shadows and carries ill omens as harbingers of misfortune and evil. They can possess people and inflict curses simply by making eye contact. At their worst they can leave their victims the impression of being tormented for days within the span of a few seconds, often leaving them in a coma. These Itachi strike last, stealing any food or valuables the Itachi desire off their victim and lapping up the blood left by the attack of the Kama-Itachi. Their saliva is the cure for all of their horrific powers and wounds so licked will heal instantly as it works much like a magical salve. The victim is left alive but aching from deep phantom wounds as well as utterly disoriented by the trifold assault that occurs in the total three seconds it takes for the victim to fall to the ground. Kage-Itachi are either a dusky grey or jet black in color with baleful red eyes that can darken into pin pricks of eerie beams.

Powers:

Shushin - Itachi are the fastest of all Shapeshifter Yokai. Capable of moving so quickly that the human eye cannot follow their movements. The Kama-Itachi are the fastest yet being able to deliver 1000 cuts in the span of a single second. Hence the phrase 'Death by a Thousand Cuts'.

Bringer of Ill Omen - Itachi are masters at engineering, manipulating and transplanting causality. They freely gather the resentment of others and pile it onto unfortunate individuals they have decided to victimize. This often takes the form of bad luck, nightmares, illness, disaster and of course death. This results in all manner of seemingly horrific accidents and tragedy - always to the Itachi's benefit. Kage-Itachi are most capable of utilizing this set of powers.

The Ninth Circle - Itachi are the only Shapeshifters that dared to utilize the forbidden ninth form: Soul. This dark and insidious form of shifting allows Itachi to change their nature and those of others they possess or curse. Often visible as a horrific supernatural illness or cancer that always results in body horror. This also is what allows the Itachi to manifest three specialized yet separate types of themselves. The more the devour and the older they grow, the more 'aspects' they can manifest either singularly or combined. The worst aspect of this type of shifting is it can allow powerful Itachi to create more of themselves from humans by warping their souls into that of an Itachi without forcing the inflicting Itachi to merge with the human in question.

Light it Up - The supernatural weasels have a kinship with fire. They can produce voracious mantles of spiritual flame around themselves and can walk through flames unharmed. They even have a resistance to the spiritual flames of other Yokai and the Enigma laden flames of kaiju.

One of Us, One of Us - Itachi are especially dangerous in groups of 3 and multiples of three (6, 9, 12, etc) Where upon they frequently split into three man squads of each type or a trio of the same type. Their powers are cumulative. Kama-Itachi can form razor sharp tornados, Kage-Itachi fog banks of raw nightmare fuel and inky darkness, and Itachi-Bi as columns of fire several meters high and capable of causing massive wildfires and destruction as they sweep and meander through an area. Their efforts to shape souls likewise grow stronger and more rapid when in a group, overwhelming their victim by mobbing them.

Weakness -

Fragile Speedster - Itachi are fast but they aren't tough. While they are stronger than humans and lesser Yokai, they are the weakest of the four Shapeshifter breeds.

Calendars - Itachi, being Yokai of causality are warded off and their attacks alleviated by something that foretells the planning control and ever forward march of time. One can heal the wounds of a Kama-Itachi by burning an old calendar to a black color and applying it to the wounds left behind. Meanwhile new or current calendars can prevent an Itachi from entering a residence. Old calendars however only work as means to heal a Kama-Itachi's wounds and an out of date calendar still up loses its warding potential. They can however be used as a personal talisman to ward off personal attack so long as it is old by only one year or a year that had good fortune. Likewise stepping on a calendar (and thus acceptance of causality) will draw Itachi to you and usually initate an attack or a possession attempt.

Wicked Minds Think Alike - Itachi are drawn to those who hold great resentment, envy, despair or hatred toward others. They usually take these emotions, feed on them and then utilize the energy to harvest the intended victims of those same emotions. In extreme cases they will try to convert them into an Itachi. If one can find such a person and either bless them or placate them, the Itachi will suffer a sudden lack of power and be vulnerable for a time.

----

Day 9: Ominous Martens and Shy Badgers

It was a calm and overcast day in the Den. The wind was still and cool winds blew down from the mountains. Many townsfolk were making preparations for the coming season, trinkets and protections for the new year were abound. Ruki came back to her study holding many such items that had practically been shoved into her hands along the way. Kaitheros took notice of the armful of oddities.

"What do you have there Ruki? Decorations perhaps?"

"No...well maybe this poppet looking thing." Ruki indicated to the bundle of dry rice wrapped in cloth and tied off with string. A little face giving it the impression of a happy ghost. "There was also quite a few vendors selling new calendars, being really insistent that I get one but not to throw out my old one. Merchants just don't make sense to me sometimes." Ruki sighed, happy to finally dump her unwanted payload onto the desk and moved to the side in a neat pile.

"I wouldn't write off those astrological collections of parchment just yet. An item that symbolizes mindful direction of one's fate and time is a potential talisman and ward."

"How about three of them in the same day?" Ruki huffed. "Wait...you were supposed to get back to me on the other Shapeshifters today! No getting out of it by talking about calendars!" The Miko projected.

Kaitheros chuckled.

"Oh those old musty calendars and the new ones are useful for more than keeping dates. They are one of the few things that can protect you from the most vicious and vile of the four shifter breeds."

"I kinda got the impression that Kitsune were as bad as they got." Ruki replied, perplexed.

Kaitheros's eyes widened, the slits visibly narrowing.

"No my dear, as voracious, mad or exploitive as a Kitsune can be; even the most wicked Kumiho pale before the insidious malice of an Itachi."

"Weasels huh? So just like in those kids books about medieval mice, they're the defacto bad guys."

"Fictional representations of animals often have a kernel of truth to them. At least as far as Yokai are concerned as those very traits often find their way into the Yokai that suit them."

"I'd have to wager then that Itachi are stupid, nasty, thugs that kill and murder and steal simply because it's their nature." Ruki surmised. "You know, if fiction is anything to go by."

"Reality is often worse than fiction as Itachi are all of those things save for one. They are far from stupid. Matter of fact they were the ones that primarily supported the Tanuki in driving out the O-Nyudo and stealing their visage....though for their own dark purposes."

"How many forms can Itachi take on? 4? 6? It has to be 6."

"9." Kaitheros replied bluntly.

"Wh-what?! But you said there were 8! And Tanuki are the best shape shifters!"

"There is and they are."

"Alright you better not be pulling my leg here. What is this '9th' form?"

"Among Yokai the 9th form is not included. It is forbidden. It is forbidden because it is a breach of conduct or code that the Yokai hold among themselves and even the most voracious of them will not indulge in if they can help it. That the Itachi have made it the center of their culture says more about them than it should. The 9th form is 'Soul'." Kaitheros answered grimly.

"Okay...so Yokai are made from Hito-Dama which are human or animal souls. And Itachi use a form of shifting which is 'Soul' that's forbid-....Oh Kami."

"Yes, that is the exact sentiment even other Yokai have when it concerns the Itachi. The Itachi or Idazuna as they sometimes called revel in their notoriety and feel no shame or care for honor at all in regards to their practices. Some feel that the Itachi deliberately sought out the forbidden as a means of becoming reaching a height of audacity so unspeakable that other Yokai would not cross them. The O-Nyudo are perhaps the greatest example of what happens when you trifle with the Itachi clans."

"Thero-Kun...explain to me. So far all the Shapeshifters have wildly different temperaments and agendas. Yet they all want to comingle with humans. Yet these Itachi are so 'evil' that even other Yokai don't want to mess with them. So how do the Shapeshifters really operate as a 'great family of Yokai' if they are all so different and the Itachi are so deranged?" Ruki asked, confused by the back and forth see-saw of the shifters varying nature.

"To answer that question, you'd have to ask the same of all of humanity Ruki." Kaitheros stated.

"What do you mean?"

"Humanity is a combination of hundreds of different cultures, people, religions, social and economic backgrounds, genders and ideology. Even though humans are fractured, competitive and sometimes even self destructive, they still all unite under the banner of what it means to be human. To be flawed yet aspire for greater heights. To fight atrocity while turning a blind eye to their own vices. Humanity finds its identity in a lack of a single identity. In choice and in the freedom to make that choice."

"Then you have Yokai that are adversaries of humans by design. So if you take Yokai that want to coexist among humans..."

"You get a family of Yokai that interpret their cohesion with humanity as many different ways as humans interpret themselves."

"But what's the connection? They don't eat the same things and they don't even have the exact same powers."

"We've discussed the Tanuki and Kitsune correct. Remember how we talked about how socially awkward yet emotionally invested Kitsune are?"

"Yeah, and Tanuki are jolly but platonic party animals."

"So you could say that the personalities of Tanuki and Kitsune would be 'extroverted and aloof' and 'introverted and intimate' respectively."

"Hey...yeah that works! That would explain why Tanuki and Kitsune are huge rivals. Because they are utter opposites of each other!"

"Exactly, now can you guess which personalities the Itachi and Mujina are?" Kaitheros asked.

"Uummmm...total bastard and wallflower?" Ruki answered.

"Is that your final answer?" Kaitheros teased.

"Hey! I answered in the form of a question! You can't get that one over me!" Ruki protested.

"Not the exact wording I was looking for but very close in spirit. Mujina are indeed 'wallflowers' of sorts in that they are 'introverted and aloof'. Now knowing what we know of the Kitsune and Tanuki's relationship, what do you guess an Itachi's personality is?”

"...'Extroverted and intimate'? But how would that result in Itachi being the absolute worst of the Shapeshifters Thero-Kun? Wouldn't that make them really fun AND have empathy and a desire to be human?"

"Sadly the 'best of both worlds' was not how the Itachi turned out. Quite the opposite. Instead of the jolliness of the Tanuki and the desire for acceptance and humanity like the Kitsune; Itachi express their intent openly, actively pursue their goals and get far deeper under your skin then you would ever want ANYONE. Instead of a successful partner to mankind you have one of its most feared and malicious predators. For Itachi do not wish to be human, rather they wish for humans to be Itachi."

Ruki's eyes grew wide as she shook in her own skin.

"So they're THAT kind of Yokai."

"Yes, and like the Kitsune they come in more than one form. Though not because of their choice of meal or vessel. Itachi can shift the nature of souls, not just their own but also of those that they possess and curse. When they apply this to themselves they can manifest as three distinct types of Itachi. The first and most numerous are the Itachi-Bi who produce mantles of hellfire about themselves and have the much the same skill to shape shift as Tanuki but their transformations are always warped or freakish fusions of more than one category at a time. Aimed at instilling fear, hatred, despair, resentment, envy...the sorts of emotions that Itachi feed upon along with human blood and flesh. They have been confused for Tanuki at times for their skill but they do not require a catalyst for they warp their very nature to match what they are impersonating. They do however lack the physical morphing nature of a Tanuki. So while they can transform like a Tanuki, they cannot shape parts of their body into tools or the like individually."

"So Itachi don't have huge balls. No wonder they're such jerks. Probably insecure about everything." Ruki snarked.

"The Tanuki certainly think so, though not many would say as such within ear shot. From the Itachi-Bi come the other two types of Itachi. The second is the Kama-Itachi who are primarily white and have long claws made of steel and sharp as razors. Their fur is like a hedgehogs, a mane of bristling quills that repel physical touch. They emphasize the Itachi's primary advantage over all Shapeshifters."

"Being really good at limbo? They are like giant slinkys."

"Speed Ruki. Itachi are so fast that a human cannot follow them with the naked eye. The Kama-Itachi are even faster and can deliver a death by 1000 cuts. Cutting so quickly and so cleanly that victims can have entire chunks of flesh and open wounds all about them and not feel pain or bleed for a full minute. That is before the agony and bleeding rapidly builds up and results in a demise that is much like a pile of viscera realizing its alive before falling to the ground. Furthermo-" Kaitheros stopped as Ruki reached under the desk and produced a bucket.

"Oh don't mind me. By all means keep going. I didn't want to keep my lunch anyway." Ruki explained with a glazed expression of mild nausea.

"Furthermore, Kama-Itachi do not even need to touch the ground for they ride the wind and can form dust devils and cyclones that weave their way through obstacles and engulf victims, preventing escape. The third and perhaps most insidious type of Itachi is the Kage-Itachi. Often a dusky grey or jet black, these types move through the shadows seamlessly and their baleful red eyes can send any who meet them for but a moment into a nightmarish coma where they experience weeks...months...even years worth of despair inducing torture and hellish agony within the span of a few seconds in reality. All for the purpose of potentially possessing their victim. They can also carry the darker emotions of humans and others with them and use the energy from them to manipulate causality to grim designs. Producing terrible curses, misfortune, illness and disaster upon the lives of their victims."

"When you say possess...is it like the Kitsune they try to take over someone?"

"Worse, an Itachi that possesses a human does not want their body or to merge with that person. Rather they wish to take that time to turn the human into another Itachi. Through gradually escalating days of madness, nightmares and self harm the Itachi torments the human into accepting all of their darker desires and worst vices. As soon as they accept, their soul is shifted in nature into that of a new Itachi. Where there was once 1, there are now 2."

"So they not only invade your body, torture your mind, and enslave you from the inside, they gradually corrupt you into one of their own. They ARE worse than Kitsune!"

"And they have caused no small amount of grief for the servants of Inari Okami and those that wish to assimilate peaceably into human society. For an Itachi is all the fears of Shapeshifters, magnified and condensed...and often they are not alone."

"Other Yokai actually HELP these things?" Ruki asked with disgust.

"Not many, but Itachi hardly need to concern themselves with other Yokai as their numbers are quite vast, spreading like a virus. Their powers grow exponentially when in multiples of 3 and most Itachi attacks come in 3s as well. The Itachi-Bi knocks the victim down, the Kama-Itachi cuts them to ribbons, and the Kage-Itachi steals the valulables and licks the bloody wounds. Horrifically injuring the victim and healing him almost entirely within the span of three seconds. Leaving them disoriented, confused and with phantom pains that ache for days."

"Wait, a Kage-Itachi's saliva HEALS wounds?"

"Only for the purpose of setting up a new host or for remaining unseen. It's hard to prove you've been attacked by anything when there are no injuries to speak of. Their saliva acts much like a highly regenerative ointment or salve and can cure many if not all of the vile afflictions the Itachi heap upon their victims...save of course for possession."

"An exorcism still works on that right?"

"Yes, it functions on the same principle of ghostly possession but Itachi are akin to the most demonic of poltergeists and hateful of spirits. The condition of the body doesn't bother them and so they freely twist and contort their hosts to both horrify the exorcist and to keep their victim in despair. To force out an Itachi that is often deeply rooted and tied into the emotions and sentimental weaknesses of their host, one needs more than just the ritual itself to safely drive them out."

"...It's a calendar isn't it." Ruki surmised.

"Yes Ruki, a current year calendar can ward Itachi from a home. An old calendar that is burnt black can be applied to a wound made by Kama-Itachi and it will heal and mend. An old calendar, especially one in a year where one experienced good fortune, can be a powerful talisman that can protect you from Itachi. But be warned. An out of date calendar will not act as a ward for the home and while they cannot physically assail or possess you while you carry one, nothing prevents them from whipping the elements and disaster into a frenzy in an effort to dislodge the calendar from your hands and destroy it. If you make the mistake of stepping on a new calendar while an Itachi is nearby, it will provoked into either attacking or possessing you on the spot. As stepping on a calendar is considered a gesture of 'acceptance' by Itachi."

"So aside from calendars and exorcisms, what else are they weak to?"

"Itachi work together largely because individually they are the physically weakest of the four breeds of Shapeshifter. They are stronger than humans and many lesser Yokai but not by much. They are Yokai that work together to create massive columns of city destroying fires, pitch black fog banks of raw nightmare and howling wind storms that cut to the bone. An Itachi, unless it is a Kage-Itachi, hates working alone. Though over the years and after devouring many humans, Itachi can begin to freely change from type to type. Their leaders can even manifest all three types at once and aspects of those they have devoured. 'Shifting' to mimic these parts of assimilated souls."

"There's really no way of beating them peacefully is there."

"I wouldn't waste my breath with an Itachi but if you catch them in spiritual form, often as a nimbus of flame, wind or inky shadow, then you can seal or plaster them in talismans. But such focus is dangerous as Itachi almost always operate in groups of three at the very least. You will rarely get a fair fight with an Itachi."

"Do you know how they ended up like that? The Tanuki turned out for the better after a time."

"I can't say for certain but I believe that Itachi have always been regarded as ominous creatures that threaten one's livelihood. When the O-Nyudo appeared, it seemed to cause the Itachi to 'snap' as before they were at least respected but now they were actively hunted and persecuted simply for existing. I believe that was what lead to the Itachi going so far as the 9th form. While their allies were horrified or disgusted, the Itachi's ruthlessness and lethality were one of the few ways of confronting the O-Nyudo without blatant trickery. Their speed and covert natures allowed them to assualt the O-Nyudo in ways they could not defend against. Because the Itachi devoured and brought down so many of them, they retained their forms as one of their primary shifting options. Combined with the Tanuki, the O-Nyudo's fate was sealed."

"Why would the Itachi help at all? You'd think they hated humanity the way they act."

"An Itachi's grudge against humanity is something born of humanity itself. Itachi in a lot of ways represent man's self destructive and darker impulses, as well as his fear of being alone in an uncaring world. Itachi fed off those feelings as they were the only ones humans were willing to show them. So the Itachi became as we know them, adjusting to the prejudice and repaying it with invasion and doom. The O-Nyudo, being a reflection of some of humanity's worst traits, are the only things that Itachi hate more than humans and they will go after them or even Oni above a human victim."

"So...they're kinda like the token evil teammate on the Shapeshifter's team. They're horrible and they do horrible things for horrible reasons but they really come through for their fellow Yokai."

"If you could ever consider the Shapeshifters 'good' in the first place. A streak of black among already dungy palate of grey for a painting that is already wet with ebony ink."

"You said that Yokai, especially Shapeshifters, are open to perception right? What if you changed the perception you view them with? Wouldn't that make the Yokai want to change?"

"It's possible. But we're talking about creatures that are shaped by cultural shifts, not singular opinions. It would take many generations of continued change to alter the mentality of something like an Itachi...though nothing is impossible and I've long since learned that there are no absolutes in this world, nor would I want them." Kaitheros grinned, deciding to throw his Miko's ideals a small token of support, even if the reality was at least to him, fairly jaded.

"Well, it pays to cautious...and prepared." Ruki admitted. "I mean, I'd have to prove I'm serious right?"

"You would, especially to a creature that can dig out your worst insecurities and fears. Itachi take comfort in cynicism and it's a sentiment that they project to other Yokai."

"I bet they give the Kitsune a real hard time."

"Even their rivals the Tanuki do not roast them as badly as the Itachi are known to. The Itachi are unified while the Kitsune are divided. Every failure of a Kitsune to integrate into human society only adds fuel to the Itachi's boast of their way being of truly living among humans. Itachi do not fear human reprisal, they actively support and make it fester to their benefit. The Tanuki roll with it as they do everything and while they chastise the Kitsune for the inevitable aftermath of their activities, the Itachi take it too far too often. And that's not even taking into account the ones that the Itachi deride as 'cowards'."

"Wait...you must mean the fourth breed right?"

"Yes little Miko, I speak of the soft spoken, shy but nonetheless capable Mujina."

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Continue Reading: Ages of Man