Brought up in a remote mountain village among the Hidden, a reclusive and spiritual people, Takeo has learned only the ways of peace. Why, then, does he possess the deadly skills that make him so valuable to the sinister Tribe? These supernatural powers will lead him to his violent destiny within the walls of Inuyama and to an impossible longing for a girl who can never be his.
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Takeo has pledged his life to the secret Tribe. His supernatural skills of invisibility and acute hearing make him their most deadly assassin. But he must deny the spiritual vows of his upbringing, his birthright of Otori wealth, land, and power, and his love for Kaede. If he does not serve the Tribe, they will kill him. In growing from boy to man, Takeo chooses a path of danger and vengeance, and learns of the prophecy that shapes his destiny.
Otori Takeo and the beautiful Kaede are now married. But the inescapable forces of destiny that have bound their lives from birth make their happiness an impossible dream. Takeo, still only 17, must raise an army to reclaim his Otori lands, and fulfil the prophecy of the blind sage: "Peace comes at the price of bloodshed. Four battles to win and one to lose". And he can never be free from the invisible assassins of the secret Tribe who have vowed to kill him.
Lord Otori Takeo and his consort Kaede have ruled for over 16 years. The Three Countries are rich, peaceful, and prosperous. The sacred birds, the houou, nest at Terayama and a fabled creature, the kirin, has appeared on their shores. Heaven seems to smile on them. Yet their very success has attracted the attention of the distant Emperor and his general, the warlord Saga Hideki, who covet all the wealth of the Three Countries, especially Takeo's heir, his eldest daughter, Shigeko, now of marriageable age.
These were the years when the warlord Iida Sadayoshi and his son, Sadamu, engaged in unifying the East of the Three Countries, compelled all to submit to the triple oak of the Tohan clan, and looked westwards to expand.