The Shitai clan hails from Kumogakure no Sato and possess a unique kekkei genkai which has earned them a reputation of being vampires. Their kekkei genkai allows them to heal themselves by utilizing the life force in their blood, they call this Blood Healing.
The clan considers itself to be one step above others, whilw they have loyalty to the village as a result of all the blood and lives they’ve invested into it over the years the loyalty is still like that of a parent and protector towards a child rather than them seeing the village as the thing that keeps it safe. Ultimately though they believe that blood is thicker than water, if they had to choose between fellow villagers or a member of the clan then blood would choose blood at any time. They are also unusual in the sense that they take in illegitimates themselves, they have a lack of airs and graces and don’t usually hold to the proper way of things, for the most part because they already hold to traditions that most see as unnecessarily cruel or just distasteful; so a bastard child and its non-clan member parent would indeed be looked after and cared for regardless of circumstance, partly because they want to keep those with their traits loyal lest outsiders take advantage of inner divisions amongst them.
A huge tradition for them is to drink the blood of dead clan members, the clan believes that the soul resides in the blood and so to drink the blood of one whom has died who was close to you is a means of taking a little bit of them into you, and by topping up your own blood supply with theirs you are also giving their spirit the pleasure of being used in clan Jutsu to heal you, aiding you and possibly saving your life as they otherwise would not be able to do. As a result funerals in the clan have two parts, the private ceremony of grief where the family say their goodbyes and each drink from their deceased, with close friends also having the honour, followed by the public phase where the clan inter the deceased in the basement of the complex, amidst the other bodies on ancient and well preserved stone shelves where they lie in an ever expanding necropolis.
The Clan formed approximately one hundred and ten years before Kumogakure was formed, very early on the clan took an interest in the subject of blood, mixing it with milk to give to their babies to make them strong to hunters for the clan drinking the blood of the animals they caught alive while they still wriggled if they could, though being dead never stopped them either it just meant they might not have gotten it as warm. This fascination was morbid and has influenced them down the long years, and actually caused them to deviate along the normal path of physiology, with each generation developing more pronounced canines until the formation of Kumogakure, after that they ceased to develop any sharper and have merely stayed that way until the present day. No-one is sure what caused the Kekkei Genkai to develop but as it did the clan began to research the human body, they performed autopsies on bandits they caught and tried to understand the human body, blood always at the heart of it all like some kind of sick obsession in the mind.
The blood obsession only grew with the years, along with their fangs, it went from a fascination into something that worried outsiders, they got worse and worse, with their minds eventually losing interest in the taste of animals when they began to taste the blood of the deceased and their mythology around blood began to form in the minds of the families of the Shitai. They developed a taste for it, and it opened up the way for the darkest years that make up the bulk of the clan’s history.
The emergence of the Red Thirst
In the years before Kumogakure no sato was formed the Shitai clan inspired fear in the normal folks of the land, they preyed on bandits for their experimentation and for their drinking pleasure but sometimes there weren’t any; and in that case they needed to find more available prey and those that were less able to defend themselves, such as the peasants that existed independently of anything to protect them; that was just the start of it. This sickness of the psyche caused some to develop an addiction to the blood rather than just a like for it like their close ancestors had done, animal blood got far too mundane for some as they found that of humans to be far more to their liking, this led to numerous conflicts with other clans, more skirmishes than wars though as no-one was able to afford a large conflict during those years, all this strife ultimately was a symptom of their quest to satisfy their thirst. It drove many of the generation to extremes, these ones became known as Ushinawareta kodomo-tachi, Lost Children. These ones had to be kept in rein, and although their urges were hard to contain the Clan managed it, and they knew that it was the curse that they had to bear as a result of their gifts.
The descendants of these ones still reside in the clan though their existence has been kept hidden, their thirst fed as secretly as possible, the arrangement being that the clan paid other bodies of law such as emerging feudal lords in the area and even other clans with their own territories for access to those imprisoned on death sentences, the clan’s lost children, those lost to the thirst and unable to contain it are given time to drain the body, then it is spirited away and placed in the cellars of the clan, hidden from the world and for all intents and purposes just another criminal that took ill and died before their execution.
This is an arrangement they still have with their village and the feudal lord though in the formation of Kumogakure it changed greatly out of necessity, though there never seem to be enough in the cells that they can have, it’s always a struggle but the families put up with it without comment or complaint for each of them knows that it could have been them and that each of them will have a relative, be it a son or brother, whom will have to battle with the Red Thirst at some point in their lives, and it’s a battle that’s shown to never be truly won throughout one’s life.
Eventually though it was realised that the arrangement couldn’t work, the Feudal Lords and the other clans realised as they began to form the village; they couldn’t risk those suffering with the Red Thirst losing their minds, the destruction wrought a decade before the village when the Shitai clan was refused sale of prisoners showed that they couldn’t allow for the Clan to go without their blood, but at the same time they couldn’t kill off the Shitai clan, they were too strong for it to be an easy battle and would leave the gradually forming village too weak to defend itself. So they had to simply give them prisoners that would otherwise have just been hung, it was an easier way and saved heaps of cash on rope.
This has all had them develop greatly over the years out of necessit; they have always kept isolated due to the Red Thirst infecting swathes of their sons and daughters before they managed to begin controlling it, and from the other clans not wanting to interact out of fear and mistrust, they had to set themselves apart before the creation of the village; at which point they began to try and assert authority by becoming a big part of the medical division. By earning their keep they were able to stay aloof of most of the inner village politics and over the years as long as their freedom and their traditions have been censured they have avoided stepping on anyone’s toes, which during the shinobi wars when they drank the blood of the enemy dead to refuel and to scare the enemy became difficult after it, with the Raikage’s having to try and keep that kind of behaviour on a tight leash at the cost of the standing of the various leaders with the Clan down the years.
They are still loyal however, and while they have heeded warnings to not be so public about their unusual habits and have begun switching to dialysis in some cases to refuel blood there are still a number of traditionalists in the families which has created some bickering as to how they should handle things but not enough for any to resort to anything but a heated debate before letting each other go about things as they see fit.
The Clan hierarchy isn’t unusual, there is a main family that governs the clan and produces heirs and branch families that adds to the clan and helps serve it while producing more shinobi to bolster its ranks.
The unusual part of the chain of command is that the clan doesn’t follow the leader with minimum questioning, the heads of each family in the Clan meet to discuss issues and decide as a whole what the Clan’s actions over controversial or important things will be, at best the head of the Clan is Primus Inter Pares, First among Equals, and so for a strong leader they may be able to dominate the Clan and act as its soul voice on matters, but if the Branch heads are also strong they will be able to keep the balance of power as it should be in the event of a very willful leader, there have been very few cases having the Clan ruled by one particular person’s wishes due to this separation of powers
This is remarked as being extremely strange by some, the idea that the branch families wield any significant power within the Clan compared to the head can baffle some, especially those whom have a more rigid hierarchy and are used to discipline rather than the debating and consensus reaching that governs the life of the Shitai Clan
Otherwise the Clan Head will voice the decisions and will take primary responsibility for the Clan’s actions in War and in diplomacy, being accountable for the acts of the clan, they take responsibility for going to talks with the Kage when necessary to make the concerns of the clan heard on top of this and so will be the mouthpiece of the families.
The Kekkei Genkai of the Clan leaves those that bear it to appear to be medically dead to the ignorant, their hearts beat so slowly that their pulse is nigh impossible to detect by someone without skill in detecting life signs. They need to ingest blood to keep their veins topped up as they use up their own in the healing process and to sustain their bodies various life processes, they did this by drinking it in the past, or in these more modern times they have taken to having it pumped into their body via dialysis to save the mess and distastefulness that some have developed to the old ways of getting gore into their systems; this is done to keep their bodies topped up on the fluid, while taking the life force of others through the blood to sustain their bodies. The importance is mainly seen when blood is imbued with their chakra which gives it almost a life of its own while it’s within the body of a clan member, this has led to them being able to heal themselves.
The Clan has developed sharp teeth that are easily able to pierce skin of animals and humans, slipping in to allow feeding from the thick veins and arteries that lie under the skin, this isn’t the only physical abnormality in the clan as they also appear almost corpselike in their complexion, partly because their Kekkei Genkai and partly because of the quirks of genetics leaving them ashen in colouring and hard to distinguish at face value from someone whom has recently passed.