"One a Ronin far from homeAnd hearken to the story..."
One a maiden fair
Who wore a bloom of sacred power
In her sun-gold hair
One a thief, of charm and wit
And one a scholar wise
Whose knowledge hid a champion's heart
A warrior disguised
And all of them in exile lived
In wilderness uncharted
These tales are theirs, for you to hear
Their legend only started...
The days of old were filled with bold
And wondrous acts of glory
Come one and all, and gather 'round
—Traditional fox ballad, circa 1700, author unknown
Tasakeru is an ongoing Web Serial Novel series written by BHS. Planned as a series of 24 short books, the aim is to prove that a really good story for teens and young adults can be written with a Petting Zoo People cast. Think "Redwall, but grown-up". The site updates about once a month, except for December.
The story takes place in an Alternate Universe, on an Earth where humans have never existed. With humans absent, various mammal species have evolved into intelligent, civilized creatures called "sentients". On a small island in the middle of the ocean, eight sentient species have evolved, and have clashed with one another for thousands of years. The story takes place during a period of uneasy truce, in which the island's only city enforces order by permanently banishing any "dangerous elements" to the uncharted forest on the island's eastern side. Those that are banished call themselves Outcasts, and the story is about a multi-species group of these exiles, fighting for survival. In time, though society has rejected them, the Outcasts will become critical to the survival of their species, their homes, and everything that they know.
And as if that weren't enough responsibility, things get even more complicated when they find out that one of their number has been chosen to enact the role of a God...
Now has a character sheet, still in progress.
- Action Girl: Faun.
- All Myths Are True: Well, in-universe myths. Each sentient species sees their version of the God of Time when Zero first becomes his Avatar.
- Animal Stereotypes: In effect with Faun (sexually confident and tricksy), Hanami (timid and girlish), Drake (Lone Wolf) and Ashpaw (down-to-earth). It is also stated that a vacuum-headed rabbit follows an archeologist around, solely for nookie. Averted with Zero.
- All Webbed Up: quite frequently, just this side of being overused.
- Alternate Universe: The story takes place on "another Earth" where humans and their ancestors have simply never existed. That includes ALL primates, in case you were wondering.
- Amazing Technicolor Population: Foxes are, of course orange. Wolfoxes are blue.
- Armed Legs: Faun's boots.
- Attack! Attack! Attack!: Zero's main "tactic", usually ineffective. It's when he goes into Tranquil Fury that he's truly dangerous.
- Attempted Rape: Stalker breaks into Hanami's house with this in mind. It doesn't go well for him.
- Back From the Dead: Ares, reborn as Stalker.
- Badass Bandolier: Faun's boom belt, worn strategically over her "assets".
- Badass Bookworm: Ashpaw. He's wise, philosophical, and even-tempered... and he carries a huge morning star.
- Badass Grandpa: Drake in the first chapter of Book III.
- Bargain with Heaven: Zero makes a contract with a god to save Hanami.
- Beast Fable: Trying to be this while subverting or avoiding some of the typical direct analogues and stereotyping (ethnic and otherwise) of the genre.
- BFS: Lily and Nadeshiko's broadswords. Lampshaded, as it's stated that anyone else would be using them as cudgels (meaning they're at least as big as a Zweilhander or Claymore), but both mother and daughter are Just That Good.
- Black Cloak: The Death God's servants are just Sentient-sized masses of smoke wearing these.
- Blood Magic: from which Legion was born.
- Bottle Fairy: Faun.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: result of wearing one of the Orders Tama bracelettes.
- Can't Argue With Skunk People: Why the rest of Shinboku hasn't told the Silver Order paladins where they can stick those greatswords is a mystery, and where do they get off policing the other race's quarters, not to mention their "crossbreed and die" policy.
- Imagine the Catholic Church with a very large peacekeeping contingent, and that's pretty much the Silver Order; the organization is large enough to influence policy even among those it doesn't directly govern. They also provide healing magic (a very rare ability) to the sick and injured, and grow enough crops to feed half the population.
- Catgirl: Defied, cats aren't sentient. So there.
- The Chick: Hanami. She's also The Heart.
- Child Soldiers: The Samurai Militia accepts male squirrels as soon as they turn 13.
- Nadeshiko's only 14, so the Silver Order may do something similar.
- Composite Character: Stalker has elements of Jason Voorhees (motivation is tied directly to his mother, undead), Freddy Kreuger (six-inch blades on his fingertips), Michel Myers (out of his mind and pure evil), and Venom (Malevolent symbiote grants him spider-based superpowers).
- Cult: the Demon Fangs. Their Rites are usually orgies of horrific violence.
- Cute Little Fangs: Legion's grin is described as being "fang-filled, but unmistakably friendly".
- Cute Mute: Legion, a rare male version.
- Curb Stomp Battle: Happens three times in Book IV. The first two times, N'Ktane curbstomps the Outcasts. The third time, however...
- Dark and Troubled Past: A prerequisite for becoming an Outcast.
- Dark Furred Redhead: Daphne, The Archer in a Power Trio sent to assassinate Drake.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: Faun suggests this to Renubis, saying "Have you tried... indulging yourself? It really doesn't make you go blind!"
- Deflector Shield: Naole has a personal one, acquired completely by accident.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Mostly from the Squirrels (Stay in the Kitchen) and Skunks (Gender Flip of radical islam).
- Demonic Possession: Hanami in Book IV.
- Don't Fear the Reaper: The ferrets' worldview. Unlike the other races, their Death God isn't expressly evil, it's a force of nature that's incomprehensible to mortal minds. And if it's killed, something even worse happens, because the Balance Between Good and Evil gets futz'd up.
- Eldritch Abomination: The Death God is depicted as everything from a snake, to a lady wearing Indigo robes, to a writhing ball of snakes/bug legs. When the late N'Ktane meets him, he appears as a massive flaming eyeball embedded in the ground.
- Embarrassing Nickname: Nadeshiko absolutely despises being called "Little One".
- Empty Shell: Essentially what happens to those who have their souls taken by Stalker. They appear to be constantly awake, but completely incoherent and unresponsive.
- Everybody Hates Hades: Inverted, the Death God is originally portrayed as a force of pure hatred and destruction, but Naole prays to him for a favourable judgement when her life is in danger.
- It seems that his reputation is well-deserved, however.
- Evil Tower of Ominousness: Black Rose Tower. It pierces the clouds and has Spikes of Doom, due to the massive rosebush growing on it.
- Expy: Due to Interfaith Smoothie, the mythology of the island is stuffed full of them, including but not limited to, Odin and Zalgo.
- Eye Scream
- Fantasy Gun Control: Gunpowder exists, and it is even called gunpowder, but there are no guns.
- Fantasy Writers Have No Sense Of Scale: The island is called "small" by the author, but it houses a dormant volcano, a mountain range, several mining operations (including gold, silver, obsidian, iron, and stone-quarrying), massive amounts of farmland, a good-sized desert (complete with Egyptian-type ruins), a city (with at least several thousand inhabitants), several villages, either a tar-sand feild or a pitch bog, and a large forest.
- Fertile Feet: The Fox myth about their goddess of life. Makes sense, really.
- Fiery Redhead: Again, Faun. In a literal sense as well.
- Fighter, Mage, Thief: Zero, Hanami, and Faun.
- First Episode Spoiler: Hanami is a flower mage.
- Flat Earth Atheist: Drake. His reasoning is that the Gods abandoned him, so turnabout is fair play. After the fight at the Black Rose Tower, he's become more of a Nay Theist.
- Forceful Kiss: Zero has an unfortunate tendency to be on the receiving end of these.
- Furry Confusion: Averted. It's explicitly stated which species are "sentient" (see Insistent Terminology), all others are "animals".
- Gargle Blaster: Faun's favorite, Dead God Firewater, a blood-red drink with fumes that can cause fainting in lightweights.
- So more or less paint thinner with a pretty color then?
- Giant Spiders: Lots of them in the first book. Including one very big and hostile one that's sentient.
- Glasgow Kiss: Faun gives one to an amourous male who's making passes at her in book 1.
- Good Is Not Nice
- Gotterdammerung: According to one psychotic cultist, at least. Note, this is the literal definition, ie, death of the gods.
- Ancient Grome: The rabbit culture.
- Green Thumb: Hanami's Mage Flower can grow anything, anywhere, in any shape she wants. For the Outcasts, who have had constant troubles getting enough food, she's a blessing.
- Hive Queen: N'Ktane, a Lolth expy.
- Hypocrite: The silver order is dedicated to protecting life. But not if that life happens to belong to a half-breed or Big Creepy-Crawlies. They could care less what happens to them. And they have no qualms about murdering Zero if he keeps sneaking into the city either. Lily, at the beginning of book 6, asked the Magistrate's help in arresting the outcasts.
- Idiosyncratic Chapter Naming: Each chapter opens with a haiku that describes it in some way.
- I Know Your True Name: Doesn't really give someone supernatural authority over them, but this is the reason Raccoons are Known Only By Their Nickname.
- Ill Girl: Zero's sister Naole has mild anemia. Not so much a problem on our world, but on the other Earth, where medicine is far less developed...
- Improvised Weapon: Naole breaks a vase over Stalker's head, to negligible effect.
- Innocent Flower Girl: Hanami.
- Insistent Terminology: The characters are referred to in-universe and out as "sentients", as distinct from "animals", which are species that aren't evolved or intelligent (all non-mammals, goats, rats, and "pigboars").
- Intelligent Squirrels: Along with foxes, badgers, wolves, skunks, ferrets, rabbits, and raccoons. These are the eight formally-recognized sentient species, but there are traces of others that have since died out, and one that is discriminated against due to mixed heritage. Somewhat combines this trope with Petting Zoo People, see below.
- Interface Spoiler: The author has posted all the titles of the planned books on the website. From this we find that a war and an outlander expeditionary force is on the horizon. Oh, and Tonight Someone Dies.
- Interfaith Smoothie: Sanshinto (or "Tritheism") is primarily based on Shinto, mixed with Greek and Roman mythology and a little bit of Japanese Buddhism. The individual species' beliefs draw liberally from just about everything else, from Hinduism to Native American mythology to the Cthulhu Mythos.
- It's Not Porn, It's Art: In-story only. Foxes will mate publicly (and spontaneously) as a "celebration of physical beauty".
- Lady Land: Skunk society. Most males aren't even allowed outside without wearing concealing robes. So, basically, a Gender Flipped Iraq /Iran.
- Living Relic, Last of His Kind, and The Fog of Ages: Renubis.
- The Lost Woods: Tasakeru forest itself, huge swathes are uncharted.
- Lower Deck Episode: Book 6, Chapters 1 and 3 are more about the Magistrate Council and Nadeshiko, respectively, than the Outcasts.
- Magic Is Evil: Squirrels have this viewpoint, they believe that the Life-Goddess is the only one who should mess with nature. They even believe that magicians will get stricken down by her displeasure. Obviously not, as Hanami and Naole have yet to be struck by lightning.
- Magitek: Spellstones. Runes (or sigils?) are engraved on specially prepared flat stones and coloured in with the appropriate pigments by a skilled mage who then sells them. Also: Message Scrolls, which are something like text-messages or E-mail.
- Malevolent Architecture: The Black Rose Tower. Not only was it raised by ancient magic within the space of a few minutes, but it heals itself whenever anyone tries to damage it. That, and it was briefly occupied by a would-be world conqueror.
- And later by a crazy, undead, superpowered rapist.
- Mature Animal Story
- Meaningful Funeral: Nadeshiko has to preside over one.
- Mind Control Device: the bracelettes distributed by the Order.
- Mind Rape: A favorite technique of the "spider family". Done by N'Ktane to both Zero and Hanami, with relish.
- And by Stalker to Nadeshiko in Book III.
- Mix and Match Critter: Wolfoxes, subject to much Fantastic Racism due to social taboos against crossbreeding. Also Legion, who has the ears of a fox and rabbit mixed, a huge, bushy tail from both squirrel and skunk blood, a powerful physique from badgers, huge teeth from wolves, a ferret's eyes, and a raccoon's markings.
- Meaningful Name: Admittedly, completely guilty of this. "Hanami" is the Japanese flower-viewing festival. "Zeromaru" can translate to "zero zero". A faun is a playful trickster. "Renubis" comes from "renew" and "Anubis", the Egyptian Judge of the Dead, and he's a jackal to boot. In fact, each of the sentient species have their own naming conventions.
- My Hero Zero: Zero Takaichi. Actually short for "Zeromaru". The name has some deeper significance that it seems at first.
- My Name Is Not Durwood /DoNotCallMePaul /EmbarrassingFirstName: "My. Name. Is. Faun. NOT FAUNELLE!"
- Waif Fu: "My name is NAOLE!"
- My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Each species has its own customs and beliefs; the main characters are Outcasts in the first place because they either rebelled against or have been rejected by their societies.
- Nightmare Sequence: Hanami has several in Book IV.
- No One Could Survive That: Drake figures he's killed Ares after their big fight in book III. No. Apparently, the Silver Order doesn't teach it's initiates to make sure.
- Not a Morning Person: Faun's way of "greeting the morning" is to curse its existence.
- Not Using the Zed Word: Rabies is known as "the Frothing Blight."
- Oh My Gods: Justified, as the Three Gods form the basis of all of Sankami's culture.
- Omake: The Star of Aurora, written as a tribute to Brian Jacques.
- Pardon My Klingon: Easily translated; Mange = shit and Shed = fuck (rather humorous Translation Convention, as mange is a skin disease and shedding is moulting, both rather inconvenient and embarassing for furries).
- Perfect Pacifist People/Proud Scholar Race: The badgers.
- Personae Non Gratae: The Outcasts.
- Petting Zoo People: All of the sentient species.
- Porn Stash: Faun doesn't bother to hide hers; she keeps it strewn all over her floor.
- Physical God/God Job: Zero as the keshin for the God of Time.
- Planet of Hats:Every race has their quirks, tied to their religion.
- Psychic Powers: N'Ktane has these. She's shown to be able to mentally command her children, read minds, inflict Mind Rape, create convincing illusions, and hypnotize her victims. Some of these powers also passed to her "son", Stalker.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Stalker
- Reed Richards Is Useless: Averted, The Outcasts immediately seize on Hanami's potential for farming. Hanami also used her Green Thumb powers to make it rich by undercutting the usual Market Price for fresh veggies.
- Retcon: The Week of Blood originally started out in the city, but was moved to the farmlands after the author realized how Fridge Logic a border dispute inside a partitioned city was.
- Large parts of the dialouge in book 1 have been revised, and the previously numbered days of the week have been named.
- Rule of Three: Three Gods, three books to a volume, three seasons on the calendar, etc.
- Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: Invoked, Nadeshiko wonders how invincible Stalker will be after she chops his head in half. He doesn't let her find out.
- Robe and Wizard Hat: Lampshaded, and Averted.
- Ronin: Zero was declared one after he ran away due to trauma.
- Samurai: Part of the squirrel culture, which is based on Feudal-era Japan. Used here as a militia and more like a modern army/combat service than the knights/noblemen of Japanese history.
- Sanity Slippage: Lily, who believes her dead mate is on vacation, and thinks her 14-year-old daughter is six.
- Shout-Out: To H.P. Lovecraft's The Dunwich Horror -- Faun finds huge footprints, smells a wretched odour, and sees something terrifyingly ugly.
- Schizo-Tech: The sentients have a Magitek version of e-mail, crossed with elements of instant messaging.
- Schedule Slip
- Shapeshifter Guilt Trip: A demon tries this on Nadeshiko.
- Sliding Scale of Undead Regeneration: level 2.
- Smelly Skunk: Mostly averted, but the Fantastic Slur towards them is "Stinktail".
- Spit Take
- Stalker with a Test Tube and Stalker with a Crush: In a very literal sense in Book III.
- Story Within a Story: The Legend of Hayaoh, a folk tale from Zero's childhood.
- Super Soldier: Legion was supposed to be this, but he was decanted mute, hunchbacked, and covered in open sores. So Stalker named him Lesion, kicked him a few times, and sicced him on Zero's sister. He didn't count on Legion being kind-hearted.
- Survivors Guilt: Experienced in spades by Zero at thirteen years old. In the first month of his service as a samurai, Zero's squad of rookies was ambushed by a fanatical Death God cult. Seventeen died and more were injured, but Zero survived without a scratch. His inability to deal with the guilt led to his fleeing to Tasakeru and being declared a Ronin.
- Talking to the Dead /DeadPersonConversation: Apparently, Lily's been talking to her favorite mate ever since he died a few years back.
- Terms of Endangerment: N'Ktane is fond of using these.
- The Symbiote: The baby Giant Spider fused to Stalker's left arm.
- The Nicknamer: Faun gives everyone nicknames. Hanami is "Flowers", Zero is "Takky", Ashpaw is "Stripehead"... the theory is that she hates her own full name so much that she gives everyone nicknames in order to cope.
- Through a Face Full of Fur: Completely averted, characters never blush, they swivel their ears flat when embarrassed or angered.
- Transporters and Teleporters: Boltpath Stones, which allow one to Ride the Lightning.
- Trick Bomb: Faun makes them as a hobby, and has an ammo belt full of them, with many different varieties. She has the expected incendiaries and flashbangs, but also tar bombs, ribbon bombs, disguise bombs, sonic bombs, compression bombs...
- The Undead: the Outcasts encounter, in this order; a Lich (Renubis), a Revenant (Stalker), a ghost (N'Ktane) and a whole mess of Psychopomps.
- The Underworld/ A Hell of a Time: The Beneath. It's apparently quite boring there, no matter how evil or good you were in life.
- Villain Song: a "Mad Bard" writes one for Stalker.
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Averted, Hanami's Green Thumb powers are very useful, and certainly more practical than, say, Fireballs or Animate Dead.
- Why Did It Have To Be Spiders?: Faun absolutely freaks when the group goes into the spider nest.
- Wolverine Claws: Stalker's claws got mutated to insane lengths.
- Faun's gloves have switchblade fingers.
- World Tree: The Great Tree at the center of Shinboku, which also serves as the city's namesake.
- Wutai: The squirrel culture is based on feudal Japan. They also developed the first spoken and written language, which is why Japanese names and titles are used frequently, sometimes even among other species.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Renubis. He's been awake for every second of the last 3,000 years. He may be invincible, ageless, and immortal, but he's completely unable to eat, drink, sleep, breathe, or even feel; his sense of touch was taken away by the immortality potion.
- You Can Leave Your Hat On: Faun's favorite bar (the Fool's Rush Inn) has an exotic dancer.
- You Need to Get Laid: Perspehone suggests Nadeshiko "lie with one of her florins" when the latter is depressed over the Meaningful Funeral.
- Your Soul Is Mine: Stalker
- X Meets Y: Redwall meets Usagi Yojimbo meets Princess Mononoke with a little bit of Exalted.
If you haven't figured it out yet... the password is "ravager".
- Udon is a type of oriental pasta