"He's dying. Hurry," the woman said.
"There is little I can do for him, Akiko,” the doctor said, “his windpipe is crushed. No. Worse! It is shattered."
"There must be a way," Akiko said. She was never one to take ‘no’ for an answer.
"There is a way, but your sensei will not like it. He is much too rooted in the old ways."
"What is this ‘way’ you speak of? Get to the point," Takahiro said.
"Follow me, quickly." The doctor turned and beckoned for the others to follow.
Together the two disciples lifted the mat carrying their gasping master. His slow death rattle was weakening as the life drained from his lungs.
Doctor Kuroiwa brought them to a low house on the edge of the village. It was too small for a human residence.
"No, not them." Takahiro spat.
"The keshou are the only ones who can help you now," Kuroiwa said.
"What choice do we have?" Akiko asked, "Sensei draws his last as you stand there like a fool."
"Sumimasen. But they are worth less than slaves."
"Then let us hope they show us more compassion than our ancestors showed them, come!"
The silent whisper haunts you, reminding you that you don’t belong, not here, not anywhere. It has become so familiar that you wear it like a cloak. You’re proud of your disassociation, your "otherness". Perhaps it’s what led you to travel the vast oceans to the little-known island of Rosuto-Shima.
And in Rosuto-Shima you realized you were even more of an outsider. Even the monstrous jinteki-oni and goblinoid keshou have a place, but not you, you are “gaijin,” a foreigner, an outsider that doesn’t belong.
The term “gaijin,” in the real world, means “foreigner, outsider, or non-Japanese person”, and it isn’t a word you’ll hear often. Not in polite conversation anyway.In Steampunk Musha the word “gaijin” takes on a whole new meaning.
What it Means to be a Gaijin
To the outside world, Rosuto-Shima is a land of mystery, adventure, and promise. A new frontier ripe for the picking, it has seen an influx of foreigners eager to make a name for themselves, or to discover fortunes yet unknown to the rest of the world. Many of these visitors have been disappointed, their efforts frustrated by the powerful societies and loyalties refined during an age of war.Throughout Rosuto-Shima a gaijin might enjoy every kindness and hospitality usually shown to a visitor, but it is a surface politeness only. Native Rosuto-Shimans reserve their true thoughts and feelings for those of the same circle, be it a family, a clan, or a close group of friends. Gaijin naturally fall outside this confidence, and must go above and beyond to prove themselves trustworthy, sincere, and loyal.
Rodney Sloan, Line developer for Steampunk Musha at Fat Goblin Games.