The Curse of the White Phoenix
Diogymoto, a.k.a., Sing Dog
Homeless, wandering, alcohol-swilling warrior-bum. A slob of a ninja. Charles Bukowski meets Miamoto Musashi. Diogenes the Cynic meets the drunken kung-fu master from Virtua Fighter 2.
Name: Diogymoto, a.k.a., Sing Dog
Background: Unknown exile of the Moon and a Feather ninja clan
Profession: Amateur muscle, drinking buddy for hire
Wealth: Dirt on his back
Reputation: Seriously hampered by monstrous hygiene
Size: 6’3, 260 lbs
Abilities: STR: +3 DEX: +2 CON: +2 INT: -1 WIS: +2 CHA: -2
Skills: Escape Artist, Stealth, Sense motive, Notice, Survival
Feats: Improved strike, Ninja weapon training (improvisation), 2-weapon fighting, Throw anything, Seize initiative, Rage
Weapons: Staff, mug-on-a-rope
Equipment: Soiled robe, mug, rope
Diogymoto (“Dee-oh-Gee-moe-toe”) was deemed unfit at birth. Large, round, stumpy, bulbous gnarled head, ugly. The Moon and a Feather Clan disposed of unfit children. Much like the Spartans of lore, except this clan prized stealth and quickness, and as such demanded its adherents to be tiny, nimble, flexible and lithe. Diogymoto was none of these. He was fed to the great river dragon, another name for what we know as a prehistoric crocodile.
But as luck would have it Diogymoto soiled himself with such ferocity the moment he lay on the tongue of the giant crocodile that it spat the disgusting infant creature back into the swamp. There he bobbed until one day he was tangled in a shrimp net and hauled into the boat of a lone mud shrimper working off a gambling debt in the frontier city on the island of Gofo. Thinking the child an omen and a good luck charm, the fisherman kept the big weird baby alive on coconut milk and prawn bait. The tawny shrimper would sing to little Diogymoto as he paddled his tiny skiff up and down the river banks looking for the next big catch that will get him out of the red and into the black.
The shrimper was a hopeless gambling addict and he was into Pee Hoo for an inordinate sum. Hoo owned the Alexander the Great tavern and ran all sorts of illicit games. The high rollers flocked to the Russian Roulette table. The shrimper’s debt forced him there one night. His last on earth. It was only after his fishing gear was auctioned off did Diogymoto’s existence come to light. For more than a week he lay there swaddled in a burlap sack and gorging himself on a bucket of overturned chum.
Pee Hoo was not all-together uncaring and felt a certain amount of guilt for the plight of the kid and thought a fair solution was to pawn Diogymoto off onto a barmaid he had on his payroll who was unable to bear children. Thus Diogymoto was raised on the hips of Maid Cleopatra as she slung swill in one of the dirtiest bar in the dirty part of a very dirty city. Diogymoto fit right in. He actually became something of an attraction. He won bets smoking entire palm tree cigars through his nose and out-drinking incredulous newcomers to the bar. Pee Hoo certainly saw him as good luck. Pretty soon customers were spending extra Japloons just to get a chance to rub the big weird baby’s gut for good luck.
But consumption would claim the life of his surrogate mother, Maid Cleopatra. And not long after Hoo lost his shirt in a fake gold mine scam and after a botched arson insurance job on his bar, he poured a crate of saki into his bathtub and slit his own wrists. (If you head down to that area of the city these days you can order a Pee Hoo from any number of trendy local wharf-front bistros and bars. Its a simple mix of saki and fermented cherry blossom syrup.)
Diogymoto was pawned off again, this time to a beet farmer who employed children to work his fields in exchange for a spot in the barn to sleep and a daily ration of bread. It was orphan slave labour, basically. Farmer Xuan-Lam was predictably no humanitarian. He worked those kids like mules and occasionally beat them as such. One night after too much mushroom brandy, the old man got his kicks kicking the shit out of Diogymoto. That night the boys went to sleep to the horrifying howls of Diogymoto. He wailed as Xuan-Lam lashed him with an iron soup ladle, all the while screaming the macabre encouragement: “Sing for me doggy! I’m going to make you sing!” Diogymoto woke up the next morning with a whole outfit of cuts, bruises and welts to go along with a new appellation: Sing Dog.
The violence didn’t end there. Xuan-Lam descended deeper into alcoholic madness and eventually he went too far and caved in the skull of the youngest and one of the most liked of the lot. Fed up and steeled in the pressure cooker of hard labour and daily violence, the boys exploded in revolt and burned the farm house to the ground while the old man, swollen-knuckled and boozy, lay passed out inside.
The property was sold but the boys used a hidden cellar to conduct their gang meetings and soon were pick pocketing, thieving and pilfering their way through the city’s underbelly. Sing Dog went along but didn’t exactly fit. He was a bit oafish and slow, but strong and tough for his age. He took the brunt of a jab, be it verbal or physical, with a good cheer that was the product of his thick skin and thick head.
But likable as he was Sing Dog wasn’t a thief. But in a gang of thieves someone is bound to get caught. As such, someone must get punished. This is where Sing Dog found his niche. He was the gang’s enforcer, one of them anyway. He spent his days drinking mushroom brandy in the sun waiting for the call to apply his trade, which basically amounted to hitting people as hard as he could with the biggest stick he could find.
But Sing Dog wasn’t brutish or malevolent by nature. All things considered, he was a rather calm individual. Capable of insane violence, but calm nonetheless. Content with nothing and expecting nothing from no one, he exuded a peace that was almost soothing. Unfortunately, his incredibly terrible hygiene was another matter. No matter how beatific his attitude, his stench was pure evil. Soon his disgusting, slovenly lifestyle put him at odds with his gang, and after a severe beating he felt compelled to leave. Ever since, Sing Dog wanders from city to city scraping his way along the alleys, bars and wharves picking up odd jobs so he can pick up the odd bottle.
Through employment or through recreation Sing Dog slowly but surely developed serious fighting skills. Rarely if ever in the company of well-crafted weapons, and always too destitute to purchase them (and for that matter too drunk to steal them or remember where he put them had he been able to do so), Sing Dog learned to use anything and everything in a fight. Once he took out a trigger-happy boat captain with a soup pot, and another time he fought an immigration officer with a live chicken (though he lost that one). Most recently, after being challenged by a dandy who just graduated from a local dojo of the Whistling Blades of the Prairie Song, Sing Dog took a shit where he stood and wiped his staff in his excrement and chased his astonished and disgusted opponent into the path of an on-coming beast-drawn carriage. Some times the shitty end of the stick is the best bet, Sing Dog would opine way too often. He was so proud of the moment he had the defeated dandy’s breast plate smelted into a beer tumbler. He drinks to it often. In fact, he keeps it tied to his wrist on about 4-feet of old silk rope. Sometimes he’s got to empty it of an opponent’s tooth or two before he tops it up.
Awkward and offensive as Sing Dog was, anyone who bothered to pay attention to him—and no one did—-could tell that this drunken street fighter was no mere amateur. His movements hid the secrets of years of martial arts training and his instincts seemed honed like a practiced warrior. This, of course, was buried under the garrulous, usually-inebriated manner he carried himself and obfuscated by the stink cloud he dragged along. But, like his true name, whether he knew it or not, Sing Dog a.k.a., Diogymoto was a natural warrior. Ninja blood ran silently through his veins.
But it wasn’t just any ninja blood. It was royal ninja blood. Diogymoto, which means “the second son of the house of Gy,” was the offspring of a clan elder who was poised to become the next Sensei of the Moon and a Feather clan. The Patriarch of Gy could not and would not suffer the humiliation of having contributed to the creation of such a monstrosity. He burnt the offending concubine at the stake, fed Diogymoto to the river dragon, as per custom, and washed his hands of the whole mess. Fate, however, would not let him off that easily. Square in the middle of Diogymoto’s back was a birthmark that he shared with all men of the house of Gy. A long narrow tea-stained birthmark ran across a large circular mole. It was the mark of the moon and a feather. But Sing Dog never noticed this, for even if he had someone to watch his back they would not have a chance to see it under the layers of filth and grime collected on his body. Were this knowledge brought to the attention of the Moon and a Feather ninja clan, or to their ill-discarded progeny, life would take on a new and terrible meaning for them both. As it stands now, Sing Dog wanders through life oblivious to the fact that he is the second son of the house of Gy and the lead in a bad-ass revenge story just waiting to happen.
Until that fateful day, Sing Dog continues to meander through life, happily falling in and out of trouble. Currently, he has found himself in the pocket of a curiously ominous figure named Tang Li who works for Bessala Day, a ruthless ship merchant in the port city of Chan Lao. Sing Dog ended up here after falling asleep during an afternoon’s work unloading a Burmese frigate. He woke up on he wrong side of the gang plank long after the ship left harbour. But he did wake up on a case of Five Lilac saki. He decided to trust to fate, pop open the crate and drink to himself stupid in honour of his new-found unknown horizon. Sing Dog curled up in the bow of the hull like he did as a new born. He didn’t even awake when the hull of the great ship scrapped its way long the wharf of Chang Lao’s Inner Harbour. He did, however, wake up when he was hit with a crowbar by an enraged sailor. The ship was owned by Bassala Day and the saki was for her personal wine cellar. She demanded retribution. Tang Li informed him of his newly incurred debt. Sing Dog didn’t even own pockets to turn out in protest. Smart enough to know you couldn’t get blood from a stone, Li decided an alternate payment. He would use that stone to get blood from others. Specifically, Captain Stenfal. Tang Li ordered Sing Dog to act as muscle to aid Captain Jacquline, Dawei, Itsuki, Uncle and Yixactatyl in their attempts to recoup the loss of The Stormy Blossom, a prized ship, purportedly set on fire by Captain Stenfal.
Sing Dog joins the group, tickled by the fact that his gig ain’t your run of the mill debt collection. Adventure seems afoot. Good timing too, because Sing Dog has been growing steadily restless, almost stir crazy. Something deep in the back of his mind has been bugging him, making him anxious. It’s the thought that maybe there is something more to life than such a rootless, dirty existence. It is as if something is calling him. Maybe, it’s the mushroom brandy. Up until now that’s usually that’s been the case. Up until now….