Fighters who have mastered the arts of the Shinobi, Samurai, and Onmyo. Dread Fighters, or Masenshi in Valerian, come from either of these three professions, and seek to hone the three of them as one, in order to master the art of fighting to its fullest. Dread Fighters are known to be "loved by the spirits", as they are so in tune with the energies of the world, that they are able to control magic more naturally, and have a natural protection against it.
A Dread Fighter's training begins when they start to write their dread scroll, the parchment that will contain all their personal techniques and tactics. While it is unconventional for a Dread Fighter to be self taught, it is not impossible. Even the self taught, self proclaimed Dread Fighters however, still respect the traditions of writing the dread scroll.
The significance of the scroll itself is, as per the words of the First, "The tool to guarantee our lineage". Once one has finished his scroll, he then must choose one person to pass down the scroll to, one he trusts will one day write a Dread Scroll of his own.
The one known simply as "The First" wrote two dread scrolls in his lifetime. One he passed down to an unknown apprentice, and the other to a martial arts dojo located in a mountain of the southern province. It is assumed that he did that to create the very first generation of dread fighters.
As "The First" left no specific instructions as to how to deal with the scroll, it is believed he wanted his techniques to be made public, so others may know exactly what it means to be a dread fighter. With that in mind, below we will detail parts of his scripture.
The First Scroll
"To begin, we must meditate on the basic philosophy of what it is to be named Masenshi. To the unenlightened, we will be known simply as immortal blurs, striking down foe after foe with stable determination. To our enemies we should appear as if we are mad warriors, crazed with fury and possessed by unending rage.
However, inside we must be the eye of the hurricane, amidst the mad fury of our blades and our magic, we need to remain calm, so that we may better aim the storm of wrath. To achieve this it is of utmost importance to a Masenshi to focus his training on both mind and body. Focus too much on one and you will quickly find yourself lacking. Either because your moderation is too great, and you are not able to muster any fury to strike down your enemies, or that your physical strength greatly exceeds your mental faculties, making it impossible to stop when true fury overcomes you.
As Masenshi, you will meddle with strange, occult forces. The technique that better represents our goal is the aspect of the beast, allowing a Masenshi to fully focus every drop of his rage into pure energy. Additionally, the control of elemental magic may greatly enhance one's power, whether one chooses to commit one's soul to a single element for more power, or to apply yourself to a generalist's standpoint, acquiring power to reflect magic easily.
While magic is a pivotal point to a Masenshi's form, it is the combination of his frightful powers with his near godlike agility that makes us a sight to behold. As Masenshi you will hold your old shinobi teachings close to heart, however, instead if using your acrobatic techniques to escape, we will apply them to direct confrontation, using them to add erratic momentum to each and every strike.
As per our arsenal, this may vary between different Masenshi, and it is important for one to always use the weapons they are most comfortable with, but I will detail my own armaments and preferred methods of using them as it may help guide students. I will also speak briefly of the tactics applied by my first apprentice, as they are splendid displays of what can be achieved when one fully realizes the true extent of our powers.
Iai Issen, the technique of the quick draw, the aggressor's gamble. The one who strikes first possesses the advantage, as he will cut before the opponent fully realizes the fight has started. When seizing the advantage in such a way, it is important to know exactly how you will move, and strike with honest intent. To achieve maximum effect, strike the throat, if you notice the opponent moving as you strike, shift towards his wrists, for an equally deadly cut.
After the fight has started, a Masenshi should stay on top of his opponent. He must not only continuously pressing his target's defenses until a breaking point is found, but also attacking with acrobatics, using gravity to add weight to each and every one of your swings. Maximize the time that you are attacking, do not allow opponents the opportunity to launch a counteroffensive.”
To be "Loved by the Spirits"
It is known that dread fighters are "loved by the spirits" and that a dread fighter may have many spirits during his lifetime that will follow and aid him. A dread fighter in training may perform multiple contracts with minor spirits, such as local entities born from the belief of the people around it, or the spiritual embodiment of landmarks and folk tales.
It is only when he becomes full fledged, when he finishes writing his dread scroll that he will attempt to make a contract with a greater spirit, one who will embody all that the Masenshi is, reflecting his soul perfectly. Once this imprint occurs, there will be little difference between the soul of the Masenshi and the spirit that inhabits them, so much so that most dread fighters refer to each other by the spirits that inhabit them.
The most difficult part perhaps is finding a spirit to imprint upon, even considering the ten thousand spirits of the Valerian Pantheon, only one of them will truly imprint upon a Masenshi. It is said that The First imprinted upon the spirit of a restless Tengu Grandmaster after crossing blades with him in an old burned village for ten days and ten nights.
Location is key, as all spirits are bound by something. Places that reflect war and sorrow, like battlefields, broken structures and locations that have seen war will carry violent spirits who seek conflict and chaos, generally more powerful, but also more difficult to control. Peaceful places like forests, rivers and shrines however will contain older, wiser spirits, guardians of life, peace, and nature.
A spirit's protection is much like an enchanted bauble, which captures the essence of a spirit, and in turn allows it to augment and protect the dread fighter. Different spirits have of course different blessings, and each of them can be harnessed in their own way, manifesting itself according to the Masenshi's will. It is also because of this spiritual protection that dread fighters became known for their single sign weaving, being able to create complex spell patterns with a single hand sign, or none at all. This is due to the spirit's protection, as a dread fighter who has perfected his bond will be able to rely on the spirit bound to him to complete any spell pattern that he starts.
It is a custom of the dread fighters to carry painted porcelain masks, representing the spirits bound to them, even if it is rare that the dread fighter actually wears the mask. When found abandoned, it is custom to bring the masks to the mountain temple The First left with his dread scroll. It is also custom for a Masenshi to visit the temple at least once in his lifetime, and read The First's scroll. The Temple of The First is the only home many dread fighters will ever know