|Hidden Techniques||Kokuen Jutsu|
The Kokuen Clan (黒煙一族, Kokuen no Ichizoku; lit. "The Black Mist Clan") are an enigmatic group of assassins renown for their white masks and cloaked attire. In the Sengoku Era (戦国時代, lit. "Warring Clans Era") one of the longest running era's prior to the establishment of the Great Shinobi Villages, the Kokuen thrived as an influential and powerful political group. Possessing some of the most elite assassins across the land their expertise in assassination, espionage and conventional shinobi warfare made them one of the most sought out and feared clans of the time.
Very little is known regarding the Kokuen, they are highly secretive with the identifies of their operatives unknown by the general populace. Originally it was believed that the Kokuen were a single individual. Sometime during the Sengoku Era, roughly a century before the creation of the Great Shinobi Villages, a lone assassin who simply referred to him/herself as Kokuen began taking high risk contracts. When the rising successes of these seemingly impossible missions became public, many shinobi clans began their own investigation to seek out this individual and claim his or her loyalty. Their efforts were met with mixed results.
As years passed, it became clear that "Kokuen" was not a single individual; times and dates of assassinations, and various other missions often contradicted one another, leaving many bewildered as to whether there really was a single assassin or many. It wasnt until the Kokuen publicly announced that they were in fact a whole clan of shinobi, and by this time, the Kokuen had solidified their place in the shinobi world. They held an almost exclusive monopoly on missions requiring espionage and information warfare granting them a solid foundation in the infrastructure of the shinobi world. Unbeknownst to most of the world, the Kokuen had used the ruse to expand a powerful information network, setting up contacts in virtually every major city or settlement.
Presently the Kokuen are expanding their roles politically, often tasked with acting as intermediary agents to contact and commission other shinobi clans on the behalf of their clients. There are also seeking to expand their influence to various other shinobi clans, namely the Senju and Uchiha. However what makes the Kokuen so dangerous is the fact that they are not a group of familial individuals, but a congolmeration of people drawn from all sorts of backgrounds, linages and other major shinobi clans. They are an organization unlike any other, their diversity is what makes them so deadly. Due to this similiarity it is believed that they may be related to the Senju clan or perhaps its original members may have hailed from the clan.
The Kokuen are an elite group of assassins, all of whom are capable warriors in their own right, and masters of the physical arts. However their greatest claim to fame lies in their conventional tactics, preferring the use of subterfuge, traps, poisons, and other cunning means to disable and or kill their target. Their anonymity makes them perfect spies, as few are aware of who any given Kokuen is without their mask. For a Kokuen, battle is always a last resort, they are rarely encountered in the field, as much of their prowess lies in their ability to manipulate the circumstances of any upcoming battle in order to swing favor to one side or another.
It is believed that many Kokuen frown on the use of chakra, while a powerful tool, the flashy techniques that are now becoming quite common are not true to what it truly means to be a shinobi. They hide in the shadows, in plain sight, are everywhere and nowhere. One does not fight a Kokuen, they must battle the very environment itself. However powerful an enemy shinobi is, they must still purchase supplies, find safe places to sleep, and eat. Kokuen are known to exploit this, an waitress for example may be a Kokuen in disguise, who has poisoned the food at an establishment and already provided the other patrons an antidote leaving the shinobi a victim. Others might hire other shinobi to wear the nin down, before presenting themselves as allies providing food and comfort only to slay them with a well placed poison dart or gas. Regardless of the method of their assassination, Kokuen are notoriously indirect, cunning and relentless. Often times their target is unaware of their demise until the very moment of their death.
However, in the event a Kokuen is outed, their resources depleted and are confronted to do battle, they demonstrate an incredible physical acumen unlike any other. They are masters of taijutsu's and often utilize strange unconventional weapons. Their use of deadly poisons, guerilla tactics and ability to simply vanish in the shadows makes close-range combat deadly. In such cases a Kokuen will typically flee given the earliest opportunity, only to return when their previous traps have long since worn their enemies out.
The Kokuen have no real central location, at least one that is known to the shinobi world. They position themselves in most of the major cities in the world, so finding a contact is often just a matter of who you know and how much one is willing to pay. Despite their decentralized location, they possess a highly efficient information network, and are able to respond quite rapidly to missions all over the country if need be.
Behind the ScenesEdit
The clan name "Kokuen" is derived from a clan of the same name in a Naruto fanfic by Case13, the Art of the Deal. In the fic, the clan was largely a dying clan with a traditional training and values. The author wished to preserve that sense, and adopted a similar name. It was surprising to find that its translation was Black Mist, and from there the author contrived a possible connection to the ANBU tattoo and the clan. The intent of the Kokuen was to establish a way of explaining the eerily similar infrastructure of the ANBU division in all of the Hidden Villages---this clan is the result.