Hmmm I think it will take a while longer to finish this game, so in the mean time please enjoy the background story:
Our story takes place sometime during the long struggle between two rivalry ninja clans: one located in the Valley of the Reeds and the other in the Valley of the Silent Stones. The clan of the panpipe ninjas was as their home environment could have revealed soft spoken and flexible as nature itself, although in times of danger and war they would be strong and swift like a tornado.
The Valley of the Silent Stones was a tougher kind of living environment which meant that the clan of the steel singers was also home to a tougher bread of ninjas. That was not only visibly in their physical appearance but also in their frame of mind. Having an argument with them is often descript as talking literally with a stone.
Coming back home late was not uncommon for Yang these days. His training was taxing but also rewarding in a way he had never thought before. He was more aware of every aspect of his surrounding nature than ever before, hearing the flurry movements of the wings from the fly before his eyes very clearly. Reaching the outskirts of the clearing his small house was located in he sensed the presence of his wife Ying. He could have identified the sound of her flawless movements even when an army of a thousand men were to march by just at this moment – ok maybe that was a bit exaggerated. He smiled on his own thought. He wondered what she was doing out so late although he already had a vague idea.
When he came even closer he saw their small house with its round overgrown grass green roof and two big windows on each side of the wooden door, but he couldn´t yet make out Ying. He knew she was somewhere around the house and not inside. Walking towards the entrance he suddenly saw a movement of air on his right side and in an instance his training kicked in and he drew his panpipe immediately starting to play a song. The air stopped moving. He had played the song of silence.
At the moment he finished playing the song he regretted it. His wife was hanging in midair currently in the movement to jump at him in surprise. He knew the spell didn´t last for long but he didn´t want his wife to stay immobilized for longer than necessary. She had put the white ninja cloth she was working on and he must admit that this time she had nearly succeeded to catch him off guard. He wondered when she put the training in to accomplish this level of mastery. With a tone of his panpipe she came back to life. “I nearly got you this time!” she spoke out loud while finishing her jump on to him. He caught her in the move setting her gently on the ground “indeed you did” he replied with a smile. “But you shouldn´t wear this dress so openly, we talked about it before, it´s just not safe …” he said a bit more serious than he wanted. “I know but without it, it just doesn´t feel right and also you know that I don´t agree with the rules that women are not allowed to learn the ways of our martial arts”, with a furious look in her eyes. “And I agree with you that is why I teach you everything I learn my training but if we get caught my opinion doesn´t count much before our elders, you know that.” He could see that she was not really arguing with him so he quickly changed the subject “How about I show you the latest technique inside the house and you show what you learned so far, it seems you put in quite some work on your stealth movement?” She was already smiling when she said “I think you will be surprised …”.
With this words hanging in the air they moved hand in hand into the house.
Something was different today when Ying was entering the school through the massive gates in the main entrance, he could feel it. Walking along the long hall into the direction of the training chambers he saw many other apprentices from the more advanced classes talk in a more intense way than they normally do. As he reached his second home, the rather dark stealth training chambers were the only light came from torches along the walls of the room, he could see all of his fellow apprentices standing in a circle around their instructor Feng-sensei.
“Ok now that we are all here I want to end all the speculations that are running around the halls.” He opened the lesson of today with a quite serious face “Yes we are going take actions to answer the incident that happened at the Crystal Lake a few days ago and yes I can confirm it was an attack from the Valley of the Silent Stones.” Ying had heard about it from his wife who had spoken to some of the merchants involved in the attack. At that point in time it was thought that it was only an attack from some bandits down from the Green Hills but as it turned out now someone from the other valley thought it would be a good idea to open old wounds again. “Our training will continue as normal though so keep your heads in the here and now and prepare for the darkness …” with his usual smile in his face he stepped in the corner and started to put out the torches along the walls …
“Congratulations for mastering the basic nature of stealth …” the instructor said with his full voice “but this was only the beginning from now on you will also learn using our most precious weapon we have in our arsenal: the panpipe!” With this last word he held his own rather simple looking wooden panpipe high in the air so that all of the nearly twenty ninja apprentices could clearly see it. It was made out of solid dark brown wood from the ancient trees in the heart of their home valley where nowadays only the very brave venture anymore. Too many “accidents” happened there in the recent times. The surface of the pipe showed as the face of his owner many signs of the battles and raids it was used in.
Despite its not so impressive looks anybody in the room was fully aware of the legacy of this specific pipe. It was one of the keys to some remarkable victories in the old wars between our clan and the Valley of the Silent Stone ninjas but just as he wanted to dip into the memories of that time he heard the voice of the instructor again.
“But I guess you are not here to watch your pipes but also want to use them. I am fully aware that some of you already secretly trained some songs on it” a heavy silence filed the big training hall “and I don´t need to tell you how dangerous that was. At least now I can take some of the dangerous away by showing you the proper way to handle this magical weapon. So please follow me one after the other into the training champers and we start with you Ying as I have heard you are already quite good at it …” from his tone Ying couldn´t quite make out if he meant that as a compliment or the opposite.
The last tones hang beautifully on the room for quite a while and mixed nicely with the sizzling noise of the fire in the fire place in the house of Ying and Yang. “I could really listen to your panpipe play all night. “ Ying said in the silence after the last tone slowly faded away. “But first I have a present for you.” Yang said while seeing the eyes of his wife grows larger and larger on the word present. “Hehe I know you would like that but you have to promise me something before I give it to you, ok?” “You know I would promise you anything right now.” she said a bit more serious than her look implied. “Promise me to not use it anywhere outside the house.” and with this words he held forward a carefully wrapped package in front of her.
Immediately she grabbed it but then hold it in her hands to look at it for quite a while. “So you don´t want to open it?” he wondered aloud “Why so impatient?” she countered with a smile and then started to thoughtfully unwrapping her present. When she finished putting aside the last covering sheet she let out a huge gasp. “Is that really what I think it is?” she asked more to herself than to Yang “How did you make it?” she asked a second question without waiting for his confirmation to the first one. “Well as I said nobody can ever see this because otherwise we will be in a lot of trouble.” “That didn´t answer my question at all, how did you make it?” “Well obviously I made the panpipe – your panpipe now to be more precise – by buying the rare wood needed for it from the merchants that got robbed on the Crystal Lake before they actually got robbed and then studied the ancient books in the library. The ones that nobody is supposed to read of course.” he smiled like a little boy who found his birthday presents just one night before his big day only that now he was giving a big present away himself today.
“Ok now listen closely as I know you are eager to learn the songs …” he said with a more serious expression.
He has never been called to the elders for a hearing before in his life. Normally apprentices only meet them in person at their incarnation ceremony and Yang was wondering if it has something to do with teaching Ying the secret songs over the last weeks. As he entered the small private chambers of the elders his heart was pounding so hard he was afraid that anybody in the room could hear it. The interior was simpler than he would have imagined soft tatamis as a floor, white bamboo walls and a wooden desk in the middle of the room. Behind it sat the three elders. There was also a tea cup on the table, maybe for him he wondered.
One of the elders nodded and Yang took place where he thought the nod pointed to. While sitting down he took a closer look at them. All of them had a similar physical appearance, a bit more skinny than you would think but their faces revealed all long life of hard decisions and battles. “We have heard you are making good progress with your training.” The rather soft voice of the left most elder who broke the silence surprised him a bit. As he was not sure if that was a question or only a statement he only replied with a “Yes”. “As you may have heard from your instructor we are currently conducting various missions in relation to the incident at the Crystal Lake.” Yang just nodded to signal he knew what the elder was talking about. “Although we are fully aware that so far you haven´t fully completed all 36 training chambers, we decided that you are already ready to go on a special mission for us in the coming days.” Yang felt like he was just hit by a big falling tree. “You will get more information when the time occurs but until then we informed your instructor to prepare special training sessions for you. Also we don´t have to specifically say that this meeting and all that was said is to be kept secret, to anybody.” Especially the last to words he emphasized with a special vibe on his voice.
He already knew that this would be quite a task for Ying to hold back her questions …
Ying had never been more angry and frustrated in her life and she was sure she would never be in the future. It still gave her shivers when she thought back to day when Yang finally reviled that he had to go on a mission on the night that day. She still had to tell him so much and although she knew from the path he had chosen that such a day would come she wished it have been much later. At that moment she was at such a loss that she couldn´t help but only cry right in front of him and although she hadn´t sworn to always be strong for him the feelings were just too strong, even now three weeks later the tears came out though she tried very hard to hold them back.
But not only was she frustrated with her own feelings but also the leaders of her clan, the elders. Yang had explained her that his mission would only last about two to three days at is was only a small scout mission. After one week she was already at the end of her nerves and in the middle of the second she couldn´t resist anymore and she tried to get a private meeting with the elders to ask them about the fate of her husband. At first she tried to ask the instructor of Yang about it – no answer – next their private secretary – no answer – at last she had pegged one of the servants to bring them a small notice but the servant also she understood the big worries of Ying couldn´t do it of fear for punishment.
After that last try she even attempted to storm into the champers only to be caught in the act from two guards and thrown out of the school with the warning that another try would bring her some harder punishment.
Now at the end of the third week she had made her decision. She will use what she learned secretly over the last month and find out by herself what had happened to Yang on his mission.
And even if it meant that she would die trying …
Her breathing was going quite rapidly now that she finally made it into the chambers of the lord of the Silent Stone clan. Mixed with the fear of being discovered was a pure joy and amazement – mostly about herself – that she really made it so far. From a very young age she was always told that she couldn´t take the path of a ninja as women never could be as skilled as their male counterparts besides obviously being too weak for this kind of tasks. But here she was, inside the snakes nest watching the breathing of the mighty lord as he was studying some maps in front of him.
Suddenly she could make out a movement in front of the rooms screen and shortly after a ninja of his clan moved in or should she say floated in as he didn´t seems to make any noise at all. It also seemed that the lord didn´t notice him at all as he was still looking down at his maps in deep thoughts, at least the heavy winkles on his forehead seemed to indicate that conclusion. “Master?” the cold thin voice gave Ying chills “I thought I told you to knock?” His strong strangely warm voice was a strong contrast to the answering voice “Sorry master old must be the trained habits. I …” “So what is it?” the lord ended all of the explanation attempts. “A notice of our friends came in. Urgent.” The way the ninja said the word ‘friends’ made it clear that he was in no way convinced that he believed in the meaning of the word a second. And the moment she saw the sign on the paper she knew why, it was the sign of her own clan.
She had to really fight hard not to lose her grip and fall down flat on the floor from the position she has hiding.
“Double the guards for our special guest in the prison wing A.” That was all she needed to hear so she immediately headed out of the open window and into the night, still very puzzled about the sign she saw – the one of her own leaders, the elders.
“Congratulations my dear!” with that words from an all too familiar voice, the three elders stepped through the door of the prison cell “You have made it what an accomplishment!” “And two of us didn´t think it was possible for a women to achieve such mastery of our craft” the elder in the middle spoke into the silence. Ying with the tortured body of her husband in her arms was so surprised that at first she thought that maybe she got poisoned from a hidden trap or something. It seems her face showed her emotional state all too obvious.
“Let me explain our appearance here. As you may realize now this whole rescue mission of yours was actually a test of your skills or better that of the ability of a women to master our craft.” “But as we couldn´t make that test public cause of obvious cultural implications we had to create a scenario were you would be forced to go on a mission of your own after being taught by your husband for a longer period of time” “Although that is not permitted.” The third elder added.
So it was only just a game to them a ridiculous bet?
Now she could finally put the puzzle pieces together, the sign on the note earlier today, her rejection to get an audience and so on. She always wondered that with all their powers they would have missed the violation of the law that she and Yang had been doing all the time but she always had hoped that living outside of the city would be enough. Also they were not written laws anyway just some – in her mind stupid – traditions anyway. But in the end it came back and hunted them. All the sorrow and pain the inflicted on the two of them because of it.
But here, right at that moment she swore that sooner or later they also would pay for their shortcomings …