Aside from writing short stories, I also enjoy playing roleplaying games. My favourites are Dungeons & Dragons and the varied World of Darkness games. Frequently, I run the games, but as of late, I have found myself on the players’ side of things. As such, the duty of making a sustainable, interesting character falls to me. For the Changeling game my friend Nick is running, I will be playing as a Japanese-American Ogre. As I am a writer, I have written a backstory for him…
Kenta stirred an enormous pot, desperately trying to ignore its contents. The Great Sugashima, the terrible and powerful King of the Yokai, had tricked Kenta into His service nearly five years prior. Catching a glimpse of a soft, boiled face as it floated across the top of the seething water, Kenta did not wince. He had been stirring these pots too long to be affected by the sight of the boiled bodies; instead, the fear that overtook him was the fear of his rising hunger. He struggled with his hunger like a Yokozuna. He would watch it as it rose and tried to overtake him, then he would react. He would think of more pleasing times.
He thought of his life in Hokkaido. He was the youngest son in a family of farmers, and each of his brothers (there were five altogether) were planning to continue the family tradition. Kenta, aware that he stood no chance of inheriting his father’s lands, decided that he would train to become a chef. He moved to Tokyo and became an apprentice sushi chef, learning at the foot of several respected masters of the art.
However, his ascent to greatness faltered when he became entangled with a young run away called Yoko. She was pixie-like and beautiful, and stole his heart. However, in his amorous zeal, he found himself stepping into dark territory. It started small; he would give her leftovers that could not have been sold, and then he started making handouts for her. Ultimately, he found himself stealing from the registers so that he could pay the rent on the small apartment he eventually shared with her.
Soon, a son of his own was born, and he was followed swiftly by a pink slip from Kenta’s employer. With his name besmirched, and not wanting to burden his family, Kenta decided to move to the United States so that he could make a new start. Taking odd jobs, he found himself working for Akira Funaki, a Yakuza boss. Unbeknownst to Kenta, Funaki was a kitsune sent by The Great Sugashima to trick a skilled mortal into His service. Funaki, having found out about Kenta’s past as a sushi chef, decided that the young man would be an ideal target.
“Do you like your job?” shouted the trickster as he sashayed through The Great Sugashima’s kitchens. Kenta tried to remain oblivious, desperately clinging to his past memories like a sleeper that wished never to wake. A cruel whip bit into Kenta; the kitsune sneered as he looped the serpentine coils in his palm. “I asked you a question, underling. Answer me!”
“I like my job,” replied Kenta. He knew if he said otherwise that it would end in a beating administered by The Great Sugashima Himself. The kitsune walked away, easily satisfied by Kenta’s obeisance in the face of more pressing matters. When Funaki disappeared from the kitchen, Kenta kicked the side of the pot he was stirring, leaving a deep dent.
“It is a chain restaurant called Sugashima’s Sushi. It may not be glamorous work, but it will be enough to get you on your feet. I have personally taken care of all the arrangements; in three years, you will have made enough money to bring your son and wife over. Until then, in the face of your service, we’ll be able to take good care of them.” Even after all the years that had intervened, Kenta would never forget the day that Funaki told him that he would be sending him to America. It was a tearful good bye to his homeland and family, and his arrival in Califorbia was filled with troubles of their own, which he chose not to think of.
Sugashima’s Sushi was known for cheap sushi, often with a Western flair. The chain was renowned for having one of the most vile items on their menu: The Two Pound Tuna Roll. While the prospect of that much sushi would be enough to put most people off of fish for life, what was most disgusting about the product was the quality of the tuna. Often discolored and arriving in unmarked boxes, the fish also smelled strangely un-fish like. Despite the horror that the TPTR inspired in Kenta, he found that it sold astoundingly well.
A day came when the owner of the chain, Mr. Sugashima, was to come for a visit, the wrinkled, old man took a shine to Kenta. Of course, the man was no man, and when Mr. Sugashima turned out to be The Great Sugashima, Kenta was afraid. Abducted on the day of the visit, Kenta was tortured with hunger from that day until the end of his imprisonment.
He studied the pot’s contents as they swirled about. His hunger was growing, starting to overpower him. He heard the bellows of The Great Sugashima as He admonished Funaki for a poorly executed job. Kenta glanced at the pot, then at the door that led away from the kitchen. He had considered escape before, but had seldom had a chance. With The Great Sugashima preoccupied, Kenta slipped away.
Kenta’s escape was far more of a trial than his imprisonment. He found himself performing depraved acts in order to find his way across the Hedge. The memories that he held onto so dearly began to slip away with each goblin he had a transaction with. Some called on him to commit murders, others were helpful, but none bettered his lot in life. He eventually found his own way through the Hedge…
Returned to the mortal realm, Kenta has lost much of his humanity. He lives as a homeless man in a complex of boxes behind a Sugashima’s Sushi restaurant, along with a baker’s dozen of cats. The workers are unaware of him being anything more than a down-on-his-luck human; they offer him food and drink, and in turn he watches the restaurant at night, guarding it from tresspassers and secretly hoping that The Great Sugashima would visit while in His mortal coil.
In his mortal seeming, Kenta is a dirty, homeless man. He wears the tattered uniform of a sushi chef underneath a cape he fashioned out of plastic and festooned with dog and fish bones. He carries a cruel, rusty knife for protection. He is moody and territorial, and also fiercely protective of what he considers his. He sports a mangy beard, complimented by long bushy hair. His eyes seem to reveal a steel resolve, but also seem unendingly sad. Despite being homeless, he has a very large belly, which is the part of his Fae heritage that leaks through the most.
In his Fae seeming, Kenta is a horror to look upon. His eyes protrude from his skull and always seem to be darting around. Upon meeting his gaze, one often feels as though Kenta is wondering where he should start eating. His skin is a dark coal color, streaked with vibrant red; his hair is black, with wide bands of grey throughout. Tusks protrude from his lower jaw, and thick, yellow claws tip his fingers and toes. He walks, eternally hunching, on feet thick with calluses and wears nothing but a dirty and greasy fundoshi, along with a hooded cape festooned with bones.
The most interesting part of his Fae form is his stomach: each time he devours a creature, it appears as though the creature is once again whole inside of his stomach, and struggling to escape by pressing on his flesh. For example, if he eats a person, you might see a hand pushing against the inside of his stomach, then a foot, and perhaps a head or face. This effect is purely cosmetic, and terribly creepy.
Mentally, Kenta has a difficult time with reality. At times, he confuses the mundane world with the fae world, and vice-versa. He has invented an ingenious way of figuring out which is which: he wears two watches, one of which is set to the time in the real world, while the other is set to what he perceives is the time in the Fae world. Of course, the effectiveness of this ritual is highly questionable.
The Great Sugashima is aware of Kenta’s escape, and he is suspiciously happy about it. Perhaps he has a plan for Kenta that requires his presence in the Mortal world.
Funaki is very upset about The Great Sugashima’s secretiveness, and resents His plans for Kenta.
The mystery meat that makes up the Two Pound Tuna Roll is what is made in The Great Sugashima’s kitchens. It is a mixture of human, goblin, and changeling flesh, and it is highly addictive, as it gives the person that eats it a slight magical high.
What Kenta wants the most, as a changeling, is to have a single reality again. As a mortal, his greatest desire is to see his family again.
Now, aside from the backstory, I have also created a pair of illustrations of Kenta…
I used to draw much more than I do now. I had a fascination about drawing as realistically as possible. However, being a practical person, I figured that “If I wanted reality, why not just take a photograph?” So, I strayed away from drawing for a long time. I still draw occasionally, but now I favour a cartoony style.
For the drawing, I dressed Kenta in a ragged chef-ish uniform, rather than wearing just the fundoshi. I felt it was more appropriate…