As I mentioned previously, now that Hell Hounds has had a chance to pick up the scent of things in the world of dark fantasy, I thought it would be a good idea to introduce you to the starring cast of the book’s namesake – The Hell Hounds themselves.
Last time out we took a closer look at the pack leader – Nimrod – Daemon Grim’s closest friend and supporter for thousands of years.
Today – we’re going to find out more about one of the most fascinating warriors in history.
Meet Nimrod’s own right-hand-man
Originally known as Prince Ōsu, Yamato was a legendary prince – and despite his heritage, a ninjutsu master of the Yamato dynasty – and son to Emperor Keikō, who is traditionally counted as the 12th Emperor of Japan.
When alive, Ōsu had something of a violent, ruthless temperament and slew his older brother. Fearing who else he might kill among the royal family, Emperor Keikō sought to keep him at a distance and perhaps cause his downfall by sending him to the Izumo Province and then the land of Kumaso – (which today are in the eastern part of Shimane and the Kumamoto Prefecture).
However, Ōsu succeeded in defeating every enemy sent against him, in one case, cross-dressing as a maid attendant during a drinking party. One of those he defeated but left alive praised him far and wide, giving him the title Yamato Takeru, meaning The Brave of Yamato.
Regardless of his son's increasing fame, Emperor Keikō's mind was unchanged. Instead, Keikō sent Yamato Takeru to the east where people still dared to disobey the imperial court. There, Yamato met his aunt, Princess Yamato-hime, the highest priestess of Amaterasu at Ise Grand Shrine. Princess Yamatohime showed him compassion and lent him a holy sword named Ame no Murakumo no tsurugi (Kusanagi no tsurugi), which Susanoo, the brother god of Amaterasu, found in the body of the eight-headed great serpent, Yamata no Orochi.
It was while he was in the eastern lands that Yamato Takeru lost his wife Oto tachibana-hime during a storm when she sacrificed herself to soothe the anger of the sea god. Though Yamato defeated many enemies, he became embittered. As he returned home, he blasphemed a local god of Mount Ibuki, which sits on the border of Ōmi and Mino Provinces. The god cursed him with disease and he fell ill and died circa 114 C.E.
The possessions of the dead prince were gathered together along with his fabled weapon – the Sword of the Gathering Clouds of Heaven, and they can still be seen this day in Atsuta, Japan. Yamato himself was interred at Ise and his tomb is known as the Mausoleum of the White Plover. A statue of Yamato Takeru stands in Kenroku-en in Kanazawa, Ishikawa.
Of course, pilgrims will find nothing there, for Yamato was such a prolific killer that he was condemned to spend all eternity in hell.
Arriving in the underworld, this former undefeated prince wasn’t in the least bit intimidated and put his former talents to use, savagely murdering anyone who stood in his way. So prolific were his antics that they came to the attention of Lucifer himself, who subsequently tasked his Reaper to assess the ninja warrior’s suitability for a higher level of dishonorable service.
Yamato passed that assessment, and, after a visit to the Undertaker where his violent temper was molded and directed in a colder, much more focused and balanced outlet, Yamato Takeru was ordained into the Ancient Disorder of Hell Hounds where he has served with distinction for two thousand years.
Even better, his elevation unlocked within him a whole new level of ninja skills, and now, Yamato is enhanced by elemental abilities that grant him a distinctive edge in virtually every circle in existence.
And there you have it, a detailed introduction to a character who is one of Daemon Grim’s most dependable henchmen. But don’t take my word for it. See for yourselves, in: