The Ainu people of Rishiri island have ever been an insular and reclusive people, their way of life unchanged for generations. The inhabitants of the island did not often trade with their neighbours on Hokkaido and avoided all contact with their fellow Japanese on the southern Islands despite technically being under the rule of Empress Shinzua. For generations they maintained a peaceful life in devotion to the Kami, spirits of nature that can be found in every rock, tree and animal on Rishiri.
In ages past the Ainu were said to be part of a nation of tribes spanning the world, but such affiliation is a thing of legend and faded memory. This heritage, however, formed a solid bond between the people of the island and their environment. As they fished and hunted in the shadow of the dormant volcano, Rishiri-fuji, a small number of the Ainu demonstrated the incredible ability to merge with powerful feline kami and transform their bodies into an amalgam of man and beast. Such individuals became known as the Nekomata.
It is believed that there are a total of twelve willing Kami that joined to make the Nekomata. Certainly there have never been more than twelve Nekomata at any one time. As a rite of passage, every Ainu man or woman must undertake the long trek to the summit of Rishiri-Fuji to endure the elements and commune with the Kami who are said to dwell in the winds of the summit. On their return, sometimes a man or woman is not as before. They are physically transformed into a Nekomata. The spirit of a Kami now dwells within them, forever bound to their soul as long as they draw breath. Some believe that only those who carry the blood of the Okhotsk people, ancient ancestors to the Ainu, can be merged in this way but such heritage is a mystery to many and is only clear after their walk with the spirits. These physical changes include accelerated hair growth, similar to animal fur, an increase in body mass, strength, stamina and agility. This makes the Nekomata formidable warriors. Once transformed the youth will assume the name of the specific Kami their personality will be altered as much as their bodies, even some memories of former incarnations of that Nekomata are carried over giving continuity and a link to the time of the Warrior Nation centuries ago.
It was Komanu Rayon, a noble and wise warrior and defacto leader of the Nekomata, who bent the knee to the Blazing Sun to allow his companions and the other Ainu to live with a degree of autonomy within the Celestian Empire. In exchange, Shinzua and her Court can call upon the Nekomata to serve with their very specific talents. The Jade Throne has sent the Nekomata across the globe on assignments of critical importance such as their successful incursion into the Union Badlands to bring the Emissary of the Blazing Sun, Nakano Gozen to establish a dialogue with Raven Spirit and his people. Most recently, Komanu Rayon has led a small group of Nekomata to aid the Empire expeditionary force sent to the frozen southlands. In this Lost World, the Nekomata act as trackers, scouts and assassins, hunting down the enemies of the Empire.
Ichiko Kuga is Rayon's right hand, adviser and close companion. A deeply spiritual fighter, Kuga has the closest connection to other Kami than her kin. Yurona Chitai is the huntress, lethal with bow and swift of foot. Her signature strike is a lethal shot through the left eye. Kenzai Hyo is the strongest and largest of the Nekomata, quick to anger but equally as quick to laugh. Tora Kokan is a master of stealth and revels in silently eliminating enemies from the shadows. Yama Mimi is talented in guile and misdirection, her distractions exposing vulnerabilities that she and her kin can exploit.
The Nekomata have another reason for their travels. Rayon and Kuga are deeply concerned with the decline of their kind. No Nekomata has been reborn for more than a decade now with half of the twelve known Kami not having been seen as Nekomata since the death of their most recent incarnations. Their meeting with Raven Spirit not only opened a possible fifth column within the Union for the Empire, but it also offered hope to the Nekomata. These natives of the Americas were a distant kin to the Nekomata. Might this Great Spirit of theirs hold the key to returning the lost Kami?
The Pride of the Nekomata Detachment kit builds six multi-part resin miniatures;
The Pride of the Nekomata Detachment can be used in games of both Lost World Exodus and Wild West Exodus.
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