“Dreams are the echoes of lost souls.”
While the Yugao do not ascribe to a particular religion or deity, they are very spiritual. There is something inherently otherworldly about the land of butterflies and moths, the place between day and night. The human mind equates these things with life and death, and so do the Yugao.
On an individual level, the Yugao are all about accepting the transitory nature of all things, existence included. Their predilection for genjutsu is likely partially a result of this, if it is not the other way around. Like cherry blossoms falling in spring, all things in life must come and go. That’s what makes them beautiful.
The various branches of the Yugao all have their own styles and flavours of these basic two ideals: Transience and Beauty.
Hoshigakure’s Yugao are considered the “base” kind of Yugao branch. All of the other branches’ ideals spring from the soil of the Stars, as the saying often goes. Hoshigakure’s Yugao are known as artisans, both in mundane and in military matters. They are loyal to the village as a whole, and strive to be elegant and precise in their political dealings and in their fighting. The Star branch is known as the most ninjutsu heavy of the branches, seeing physical combat as unclean and brutish, preferring to stupefy their opponents with the intense beauty of their clan’s illusions and then blasting them to the next world with an equally brilliant display of elemental release.
The Yugao were never formally exiled from Hoshigakure, hence why there is still a branch there. However, not all agreed with the current regime, even after the civil war ended in favor of it. These Yugao quietly left Kumo no Kuni in goodwill, to search out their wayward brethren. Many of these immigrants became the Lightning branch, but a good few managed to brave the snow and reunite with their countrymen in the land of snow. The Snow branch is much less focused on art than the other two. The incessant danger of everything, including the climate, has tempered them like steel into more efficient killers. They still see themselves as artisans, but of death and technique as opposed to illusion and spectacle. Perhaps due to the culture of Yukigakure, the Snow Yugao have picked up a taste for Kenjutsu, enjoying the access to Ranmaru Steel the village possesses.
Not all of those who left Kuma no Kuni decided to make the whole journey to the frozen north. Some never wanted to go at all, wanting to see the world. Some had changes of heart during the journey, taking the first opportunity to set foot on land. Even some more still decided that if they were going to be leaving, they might as well stick together with some kind of leadership. And so the Lightning Branch was formed. The Lightning branch is the most culturally diverse, having members of all colours and stripes. What connects them are the clan’s foci. They focus most heavily on Beauty, seeing living as it’s own kind of art, and incorporate whatever experiences they can into their tapestry of existence.
The Yugao would claim that they have existed as long as people and butterflies have existed, communing only in the liminal space between life and death. The Yugao have been known to wax poetic about nothing.
But, their claim isn’t incredibly far off. Nobody is exactly sure when they came into being, but they are a very ancient clan, hailing from Kuma no Kuni, far across the sea from the mainland. Their presence on the continent is relatively recent compared to their long history as members of the Hoshigakure community.
- The splitting of the Clan
However, when civil war ravaged the land, the Yugao found themselves torn. Everyone had their own opinions. Some fought fervently for each side, some had leanings but refused to get involved. Many had no opinion at all and mostly tried to survive those turbulent years.
With the exile of Tayuya Odo war came to an end, and the Yugao as a clan still had no firm decision as to what to do. Many stayed in their homeland, unwilling to leave because of a political issue. But many decided to leave, to seek out their brethren. It was a sad, bitter, but healing time for the clan as a whole. Old grudges melted away in the face of the void. Lovers said their last goodbyes before they were irrevocably separated. It had been five years since the end of the war, and their few ships left for uncertain waters.
For those who stayed behind, it was like a weight had been lifted from the air. So many negative emotions left with that boat, to be drowned by the endless sea. Life continued as it always did for them, and the Yugao recovered.
For those on the boat, things only got tenser. Where were they to go? Tayuya Odo had left for places unknown, but who would have accepted his ragtag bunch of refugees and traitors? They had no idea. So they sailed directly across the ocean. Where they landed was the sunny and mountainous Kaminari no Kuni. Instantly, there was controversy. They needed supplies, they needed information, they had to stop. That was no question.
But some did not want to continue. Things became bitter, people threw accusations of treason and irrationality at each other. Eventually, they all had to get off the boats, and there they learned where Tayuya Odo had gone: north.
Many, hearing the harsh conditions of the land above, refused to continue on. They didn’t want to die, after all. Life is so short as it is, why bother doing something clearly suicidal? Arguments became even fiercer. Those who chose to stay never got back on the boats. Those headed for what would become Yuki no Kuni left in the dead of night, and so two branches became three.
Not many made it to Yukigakure. They found long frozen wreckage of ships, and they feared the worst. Had any made it here? But it was too late to turn back. They trudged forward, through blizzards and hostile animals. They followed what remained of tracks of people, and eventually made their way to what the exiles called Yukigakure no Sato. The village was in its infancy at this point, and the Yugao quietly made a niche for themselves.
War after war came, and the Yugao, three headed and untamed, came into conflict with each other. Some fought for the Clouds, some fought for the Snow, and some fought for the Stars. The Snow and Star branches came into true conflict for the first time, and the invasion of Kuma no Kuni was considered a regrettable event by all involved. Such scars have healed over time, but are never forgotten.
Years and years and years flew by, wars were fought, and the Yugao ended up in all sides of it. The Snow branch ended up as Mercenaries. The Star branch ended up on the peripherals of war, and the Lightning branch ended up in the thick of the fight. It was during these years that the Yugao realized they were not alone in the world.
The Aburame of Konohagakure and the Kamizuru of Iwagakure were remarkably similar to them, and yet so different. The Yugao quickly glossed over the terse and nondescript Aburame, and tensions flared between the Bees and the Butterflies both on and off the battlefield. To many Yugao, the very essence of Kamizuru philosophy (“All hail the King”) was anathema to everything they stood for. The Kamizuru saw them as flighty and unfocused.
While this grudge is not something legends or wars are built out of, the Yugao still, to this day, harbour a distaste for the Kamizuru. The Kamizuru likely return this in kind, but the Yugao haven’t bothered to find out. They don’t travel that far east anyways.
The Yugao do not ascribe to any formal hierarchy. With the three branches in very disparate places with very little communication, trying to corral them all under one leader would be an exercise in futility. They especially despise the Kamizuru for this, believing strongly in individual choice and power; a far cry from the Kamizuru’s royal dynasty.
The Star Branch
The Star Branch are more family organized than anything. To stay loyal to the homeland is seen as a virtue, and as such, they don't tend to leave the village's bounds unless they have to. They have the most rigid of the three, with a single (sometimes three) leader who oversees the decisions of the clan as a whole, with everyone else falling beneath them. These people usually get put there by popular vote.
The Snow Branch
The Snow Branch prizes brutal efficiency above all else, and find complicated hierarchies to be wasteful. The person who leads this branch is the one with highest ninja rank and the strongest abilities to keep the clan in line. They don't tolerate hesitation or flightiness.
The Lightning Branch
The Lightning Branch has the loosest hierarchy, with a free-form council of roughly five people, who keep the position for as long as they want it (usually life) unless popular opinion turns against them. While they do make decisions for the clan, the Lightning Yugao tend to see them more as suggestions, equally loyal to the Raikage as they are to their clan.
Like their rivals, the Kamizuru and oft forgotten compatriots the Aburame, the Yugao are an insect techniques clan, though their focus is not beetles or bees, but the beautiful and ephemeral Lepidoptera order: Butterflies and moths.
Another similarity to the two aforementioned clans is their ability to speak with insects, though most insects don’t have to say, not having incredibly developed brains. However, this communication does form the basis of their clan’s Summoning Contract.
While the Yugao do have some ninjutsu as part of their techniques, the majority of their abilities are in the subtle art of genjutsu. While this predilection is just that- a preference, it informs many of their interactions and relationships with their techniques. One would expect the genjutsu users of the clan’s branches to outnumber any other specialization.