|This article, Shinsu 'Refum, was voted as the Legendary Article of 2012 in the Fifth Annual Halo Fanon Wikia Awards.|
|This article, Shinsu 'Refum, written by Actene, was voted as the Best Covenant Character of 2012 in the Fifth Annual Halo Fanon Wikia Awards.|
|This article, Shinsu 'Refum, was written by Actene. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
Date of birth
9th Age of Reclamation (2537)
|Political and Military Information|
- "This galaxy will continue to rot unless it faces the fires of renewal. Just as I was born again through the fires of war, so too will this corrupt galaxy rise from the ashes of its own destruction and be reborn into something far greater than the cesspit of war and corruption that it has become."
- ―Shinsu 'Refum
Shinsu 'Refum, also known as the Black Knight of Sanghelios, was a Sangheili warrior and a son of Sesa 'Refumee, one of the first "heretics" to openly oppose the Great Journey. Unlike most Sangheili, he knew and had a caring relationship with his father when he was young, though Sesa would later distance himself from Shinsu due to the urging of his clan members and the responsibilities of his military career. Shinsu was learning the arts of swordsmanship in a blademaster's keep on Sanghelios when his father turned against the Covenant and was killed by the Arbiter . Facing persecution from the Covenant's religious authorities, Shinsu was saved through the intervention of the blademaster he was studying under, who hid him from his would-be killers. Almost the entirety of the Refum clan was wiped out during the and Shinsu emerged into the post-war universe believing himself to be the only survivor from his clan. Harboring a deep hatred for the Arbiter who had slain his father, Shinsu was eventually drawn into the Fallen separatist movement and was instrumental in forming and leading the Sons of the Preserving Blade militia during the ensuing civil war on Sanghelios. After heavy losses all but annihilated the Sons, Shinsu left Sanghelios and eventually became a trusted officer within the Fallen movement. However, he now had an agenda of his own and manipulated his position within the Fallen to gather followers and resources for his own purposes. His careful planning culminated with his betrayal of the Fallen and foundation of a new faction, the Cleansing Blade, with Shinsu at its head.
"I Am Not Some Peasant"
- "Nothing great ever came from Refum."
- ―Common saying
The child who would become the Black Knight of Sanghelios was born to Clan Refum, a lesser vassal to the . Shinsu 'Refum was the first child of Senta 'Refum, head of the Refum household and wife of its current . Although Sanghelios norms dictated that male Sangheili be raised in ignorance of their fathers, Clan Refum's small size meant that there was little point in hiding such an obvious fact from the young Shinsu. The knowledge that he was the son of the kaidon afforded Shinsu relatively little privilege. Refum's low status meant that he was considered of lesser rank than even the youngest children of Vadam and its higher vassals. From an early age Shinsu often joined the other Refums in laboring in the fields alongside Vadam's servants and serfs. He was taught to accept these duties as simply a fact of life and part of Refum's generations-old obligation to their Vadam overlords.
Perhaps fearing any negative stigma that might surround a young male who knew his father's identity, Sesa 'Refumee remained largely removed from Shinsu's education. Since Refum lacked any organized youth training program-indeed, Shinsu was the only child in Refum's cramped keep-the task of education fell to Shinsu's uncle, Vonu 'Refumee. An amateur historian, Vonu often regaled Shinsu with stories of the Refum family's past, even going so far as to recall tales hearkening from before the formation of the Covenant-a history usually forbidden by the Covenant's religious officials. Though careful to pepper his stories with religious allegories to Covenant teachings, Vonu instructed Shinsu about a glorious past in which Clan Refum had led bands of warriors in great campaigns against their enemies. At first the restless Shinsu had little use for Vonu's oft-repeated stories. But after he was forced to perform a demeaning serving role for youths his own age during a local festival he took greater interest in a time when his family had not been mere servants to greater houses.
- "It doesn't matter how high I try to climb. As long as they know where I'm from, no achievement will ever be good enough."
- ―Shinsu 'Refum
Shortly after Shinsu was old enough to begin training as a warrior, Senta 'Refum gave birth to another son named Tuka. Vonu soon had his hands full with the rambunctious Tuka and managed to convince the weapons master of the larger neighboring keep Hullen to take Shinsu on as one of his pupils. Rising early every morning to make the long trek to Hullen Keep, Shinsu was accepted as a student but given less time than the other pupils. Frequently taunted for his low birth, the temperamental Shinsu was often provoked into violent outbursts-much to the amusement of his tormentors. One such incident saw him severely reprimanded and temporarily barred from the training grounds. Fearing a blow to Refum's already low reputation, an embarrassed Vonu furiously chastised his nephew. Humiliated, Shinsu withdrew to the mountains and practiced combat drills alone while working to improve his temper. He quickly realized that the other youths would always look down on his humble origins and sought to disguise his background by immersing himself in Sangheili high culture and lore. He devoured knowledge at a feverish pace, altering not only his low-class worldview but also his mannerisms and speech patterns.
Shinsu returned to the Hullen Keep once his suspension period was up. The other trainees greeted him with the same jeering taunts but the Shinsu returning from seclusion was not the same impulsive yokel they had earlier found so easy to bait. Mastering his temper, Shinsu adopted a mask of composed dignity he had learned from his studies of high-born Sangheili leaders. This new self-discipline translated well to his combat studies and he found himself quickly mastering forms and patterns that previously frustrated him. Even his former tormentors had to acknowledge the change in their classmate and they reluctantly accepted him as one of their own—though Shinsu was ever conscious of their previous contempt. One of these noble youths was Zura 'Kotar, a student from a wealthy keep who admired Shinsu's newfound stoicism and talent. Though initially apprehensive of Zura's introduction, Shinsu entered into a wary friendship with his fellow student.
- "You always preach about our great history, but what have you ever really done for the clan? You sit back and lap up table scraps, then mock me for trying to make something more of myself!"
- ―Shinsu lashes out at his uncle
Vonu ‘Refumee was less impressed by his nephew’s changed perspective. He saw Shinsu’s new interests and mannerisms as a slight against his family and openly mocked him as a bad example in front of Tuka. Sensing his brother’s anger, Sesa ‘Refumee tried to ease spirits at the Refum keep by announcing that he and Vonu had been selected as officers for an artifact retrieval team with the Fleet of Particular Justice—a minor posting, but a great honor for warriors of such low status. Shinsu tried to join in the celebration but his uncle’s mocking words proved too much. He lost his composed temper and snapped back at Vonu, greatly violating tradition by speaking out against such a senior member of the family.
Shinsu’s outburst stunned the rest of his family. Despite his own misgivings, Sesa had no choice but to severely punish his elder son. Shinsu was ordered to leave the keep and not return until he had earned his place as a warrior. Though he regretted his rash actions, Shinsu defiantly obeyed. He left the keep that evening, bidding farewell only to his mother and to Tuka before venturing out into the countryside. For once Refum’s lack of prestige worked in his favor: it was hardly a damning crime to be expelled from such a minor keep. Shinsu quickly found help from his new friend Zura ‘Kotar who was himself returning to his family keep in the neighboring state. The sympathetic youth invited Shinsu to accompany him, promising to introduce his friend to the Kotar clan as a potential ward—a great honor for a Sangheili of low family standing. Though Shinsu rankled at the idea of living on another family’s charity he had little choice if he hoped to meet his father’s demands and prove his worth in the eyes of the Covenant.
"Your Humble Servant"
Zura brought Shinsu to the Kotar keep in, a prosperous state full of clans held in high regard by the House of Vadam. Accustomed to rustic conditions and harsh treatment, Shinsu was unprepared for the ornate Kotar keep and the warmth with which he was welcomed as Zura’s friend. Celur ‘Kotar, head of the keep and Zura’s mother, happily agreed to provide lodging and education in exchange for Shinsu’s service as a page for the household. Zura tactfully avoided mentioning that Shinsu had been expelled from his home and instead introduced him as a talented student looking to make his way in the world. Though Shinsu was not pleased at the thought of living as a servant he realized that he needed to start somewhere in order to rise through the stratified society in which he had been born so low.
Shinsu split his time between his duties to the Kotar household and his own studies. In exchange for his service to Kotar he was permitted to join Zura and other youths in their school and combat training. All of the students expected to enter into the Covenant military and win prestige for themselves in the ongoing war against humanity. For Shinsu, the military promised a chance to escape the low prestige of his birth—provided he could escape the same rut of meaningless assignments his father and uncle had fallen into. To this end he strove to win the Kotar family’s favor beyond that of simply an aspiring servant. As the next harvesting cycle drew near he volunteered to help oversee gathering the crops in the fields surrounding the keep. Combining knowledge acquired from his studies with his own experiences working the fields outside his own home, Shinsu proved himself to be a capable administrator and was responsible for greatly increasing the year’s harvest. This success, coupled with his impressive performance in combat training, earned him greater favor with the Kotar family and he was elevated to the position of assistant steward within the main household.
Assigned to new duties under the watchful eye of the Kotar’s chief steward, Shinsu became one of Celur ‘Kotar’s principle assistants in her day to day running of the household. His new position allowed him to spend more time with Zura—Celur believed the reserved and disciplined Shinsu to be a good influence on her free-spirited son—and also introduced him to Cena ‘Kotar, Zura’s sister. Shinsu took his duties as steward seriously and his performance continued to impress his elders. As he progressed with his class in combat training he also showed an early talent for swordplay and frequently won sparring matches against his peers. In all this time Shinsu never attempted to contact his family. Instead he strove to rid himself of his rural origins and adopt the more refined mannerisms of the well-groomed students around him.
- "I defer to my wife in matters of clan management. Were I in her place, I would never have entrusted such responsibilities to one so young and of such low birth. But her gamble has proved fruitful. You have earned her trust, along with much of my kin. Only time will tell if you can earn the same regard from me."
- ―Ural 'Kotaree
When Ural ‘Kotaree, kaidon of Kotar, returned from his posting as shipmaster of a Covenant cruiser he was informed of his clan’s young ward. Impressed by Shinsu’s potential but nonetheless wary of having the scion of such a low-ranking family placed so highly within his own household, Ural shrewdly arranged for both Shinsu and Zura to leave the keep and attend the elite training school of Shoma ‘Yeshenee, a renowned blademaster. Shinsu eagerly accepted the opportunity, pledging his undying gratitude to an amused Ural. Bidding farewell to Cena, he and Zura departed the keep to learn advanced sword techniques from the legendary Yeshen school.
Though Shinsu understood that he had been removed from his stewardship position in Kotar due to his low-ranking background, the opportunity to study under a blademaster as renowned as 'Yeshenee was hardly an insult. He could never have expected to be granted a position in the sword school without 'Kotaree's patronage. He and Zura traveled to 'Yeshenee's modest keep and assumed positions among his handful of carefully selected students. 'Yeshenee quickly proved well worth his reputation. Where previous teachers praised Shinsu's natural talent with the blade, 'Yeshenee was highly critical of what he recognized as a sloppy amalgamation of techniques his new student adapted from various famous swordplay styles. Bristling under the criticism but determined to prove himself, Shinsu dedicated every fiber of his being to mastering 'Yeshenee's difficult lessons.
- "Do not mistake affectation for true virtue. There are far too many high warriors and councilors who possess the former without the latter. If one who is virtuous tries to stand among them with such methods, he will incur nothing but scorn. But if he hones his true virtue, regardless of his birth, the mighty will recognize his power and be put to shame."
- ―Shoma 'Yeshenee
Shinsu and the other pupils labored under 'Yeshenee's watchful eye, breaking from their studies only to observe Covenant religious rituals. While struggling to grasp the highly precise forms of the Yeshen sword school Shinsu continued his research into classical Sangheili culture, striving to exceed his peers in adhering to aristocratic values. Master 'Yeshenee, himself a product of old-style breeding, took an interest in his ambitious pupil. As with his sword instruction he did not spare Shinsu's ego and instead warned him not to mistake the outward pretensions of nobility for the core warrior virtues behind them. From 'Yeshenee's guidance Shinsu realized that he was cheating himself by aiming to simply emulate his high-born peers. The ambitious student from the countryside turned his gaze inward in the hopes of earning his own prestige rather than its trappings. Impressed by his student's aspirations, Master 'Yeshenee quietly made plans to adopt Shinsu into his own family.
"We Are Ruined"
- "Our Prophets are false! Open your eyes, my brothers! They would use the faith of our Forefathers to bring ruin on us all!"
- ―Sesa 'Refumee preaches against the Great Journey
As Shinsu continued his studies, he had no way of knowing how drastic events taking place far from Sanghelios would shape his future. The Fleet of Particular Justice discoveredonly for it to be by human forces. Supreme Commander Thel 'Vadamee was blamed and public ally humiliated for Halo's destruction, tarnishing House Vadam's honor and shaking its long-standing dominance among the Sangheili noble houses. Dispatched on a minor reclamation effort, Sesa 'Refumee and his entire detachment abruptly cut off all communication with their superiors. Soon afterwards Sesa began transmitting heretical declarations that denounced the faith of the Sacred Rings-the bedrock of the entire Covenant-as lies. The Covenant's reacted swiftly, sending Thel 'Vadamee as newly appointed to quell this heresy at its source. Sesa and all of his followers were killed in the , but the Covenant's reprisals were far from over.
Desperate to regain its standing and avoid further sanctions from Covenant religious authorities, House Vadam set its sights on the most convenient target: Clan Refum. Vadam ordered that the Refums be purged, erasing the few paltry mentions of the clan from Sangheili history and dispatching warriors to kill Sesa's remaining family. Master 'Yeshenee, himself a sworn Vadam retainer, received orders to execute Shinsu as a warning to the other students of the consequences of heresy. Horrified by the order, 'Yeshenee still had no choice to obey. He did not wish to humiliate his prized pupil with a public execution and instead resolved to kill Shinsu quickly in his sleep. Shinsu awakened that night to find a dark figure standing over him with a drawn energy sword. He lashed out with his own training blade and after a brief scuffle scored a lucky, mortal blow. Horrified to realize that his attacker was none other than 'Yeshenee himself, Shinsu rushed to stop the bleeding. He was too late. In his final moments the remorseful 'Yeshenee warned his student of the impending purge. Shinsu fled the keep in a confused panic, stealing a Ghost transport and racing back to his childhood home.
Once again, he was too late. After a hard night’s ride Shinsu arrived to find the Refum keep in flames. A kill team of only three Vadam warriors had slaughtered nearly every member of Clan Refum. Catching two of the killers in the act, the enraged Shinsu killed them both before finding the third standing over the bodies of his mother and Tuka. Shinsu killed him as well, then collapsed in a haze of grief. But to his surprise, one of the bodies moved. Tuka, shielded by his mother to the last, was still alive. Though still wracked with sorrow, Shinsu realized that the duties of kaidon were now his to bear. It fell upon him to save himself and Tuka—all that was left of Clan Refum. Taking the terrified and bewildered Tuka in his arms, Shinsu fled the burning keep into the surrounding wilderness.
Shinsu brought Tuka into the foothills above the destroyed Refum keep, using his knowledge of the area to avoid Vadam's warriors. With Tuka in a state of near-shock over the horrors he had just witnessed, Shinsu had little time for grief. He brought his brother to a small cave he had once used during his secluded self-education. After ordering Tuka to wait in the cave Shinsu slipped into a neighboring village to try to make sense of the situation. The news he overheard from the locals was worse than he'd imagined. Not only were the Vadams intent on completely annihilating the "heretical" Refums, Shinsu himself was now wanted for the murder of Shoma 'Yeshenee. Several of his fellow students vowed to avenge their master's death by aiding the Vadam in their hunt for Shinsu.
"All For Revenge"
- "There's nothing left now, of my family, of my dreams, of my world. All I have left is a chance to kill the ones who destroyed them."
- ―Shinsu 'Refum
With his aspirations now completely dashed, Shinsu returned to the cave in despair. His clan was dead and he himself was a hunted fugitive, branded with the dishonor of having killed his own teacher. He despondently returned to the cave with no idea of how to proceed. He passed the next few days brooding, ignoring Tuka and leaving the cave only to forage food to eat. In the meantime, events beyond Sanghelios continued to spiral out of control. The discovery of a new sacred Halo ring kicked off a vicious civil war between the Sangheili and their Jiralhanae rivals that would become known as the. As the galactic order descended into chaos, Arbiter Thel 'Vadamee emerged as a decisive leader for the embattled Sangheili fleets. Using both his reputation as a military leader and the respect commanded by the Vadam name, Thel brokered a peace between the Sangheili and humanity. Rejecting the Covenant religion as a lie, he helped lead Sangheili forces to victory over the Prophet of Truth at the decisive Battle of the Ark.
Back on Sanghelios, Shinsu learned of these developments only through rumors overheard while foraging around farms and villages. Though Sanghelios itself was untouched by the Great Schism tensions soon rose as clan leaders balked at Thel's radical leadership. Covenant loyalists and ambitious houses refused to abide a coalition under Vadam and began plotting rebellion. News of the coming revolt delighted Shinsu, who finally saw a chance to avenge himself on Vadam-the mighty house that had destroyed his family on the pretext of heresy but now amassed power for itself through that very same heresy. Over Tuka's protestations he left his younger brother in the care of a villager family he had befriended before making his way to the nearby Nuan keep, where he heard warriors were gathering for an assault on Vadam.
- "Join us, brothers! Cast down Vadam! A new era begins today!"
- ―A Nuan warrior assaulting Vadam Keep
The Covenant's collapse sowed widespread chaos in a Sangheili society that had become wholly reliant on its theocratic galactic order. Ancient clan feuds became pretexts for warriors to declare for one side or the other. As skirmishes broke out between keeps Shinsu used the chaos to slip amongst the warriors massing at. Despite his youth and lack of identifying keep credentials, Shinsu was quickly accepted as a new recruit as the Nuan warriors made ready to assault Vadam. When the faction of religious zealots known as the Servants of the Abiding Truth launched their attack on Vadam, the Nuan warriors rushed to join them. Shinsu's first true battle was a brutal, chaotic mess. Advancing with the other warriors as they overran surprised Vadam positions, Shinsu scavenged weapons and armor from fallen Sangheili to arm himself. Vadam was caught completely off-guard and the attacking forces soon laid siege to Vadam keep itself. But reinforcements from Vadam's allies arrived to tip the scales and the attackers fled in disarray.
But Shinsu refused to give up his dream of revenge. Hiding among the corpses of fallen warriors as the survivors retreated, he crept through the battlefield before eventually slipping into Vadam keep. There he seized the chance to attack Thel 'Vadam himself as the Arbiter reviewed the keep defenses. In a brief but intense clash of blades the would-be assassin was unable to kill Thel before his guards arrived. Shinsu barely escaped the keep with his life and fled back into the wilderness. But with so many warriors out fighting in the erupting civil war weaker keeps took advantage of the chaos to wreak havoc on defenseless rivals. Shinsu returned to find the village utterly destroyed, its inhabitants wiped out by marauding raiders. In a panic, Shinsu believed he had lost his last surviving family member. But Tuka was alive, hidden by the villagers alongside a female peasant named Pula.
"This Is What We've Become"
- "This is what's become of a millennia of honor and tradition. If the Covenant was a lie, at least it was a lie that let us live with dignity. Without that lie all we have left is rule through strength."
- ―Shinsu to an uncomprehending Tuka
With the civil war tearing Sanghelios apart, Shinsu did his best to shepherd Tuka and Pula through the burning countryside. His chance at revenge died in the failed assault on Vadam; Shinsu had no resources, no status, and no allies save for the two children relying on him for protection. Driven to the edge by the extent of his fall from grace, Shinsu nonetheless could not bring himself to abandon his sole surviving relative. He kept Tuka alive by stealing food from the farms they past through. Though Shinsu wanted to abandon Pula to her fate Tuka stubbornly insisted they bring the peasant girl along. The three young Sangheili wandered aimlessly across a war-torn landscape that seemed to leap straight from Shinsu's old history texts. Opportunistic keeps vied for power, throwing their support behind whichever faction seemed best likely to win the war on any given day. Bandits and "foraging parties" preyed on vulnerable keeps and villages with little regard for their traditional chivalric codes. When one such band tried to press-gang Shinsu and Tuka into service the Refum heir cut down several grown warriors with only his own makeshift blade.
- "You are young and eager, 'Refum. But I am old. I have seen many young and eager warriors perish in the name of fruitless causes. Caution is required in times like these. I will not risk my clan by grasping at vanity. I suggest you do the same."
- ―Ural 'Kotar
But Shinsu could not survive on his own forever, much less with two defenseless children in tow. He was finally saved from his hungry wanderings by warriors from the Kotar keep. Recognizing their insignia from his time as the keep's steward, Shinsu allowed himself and his charges to be taken into custody. The warriors brought him to Kotar where he was reunited with his old friend Zura 'Kotar. Though Shinsu had previously feared the worst, Zura did not blame him for the death of Shoma 'Yeshenee and instead revealed that the Kotar clan had joined the growing coalition of keeps united against the Vadam and their allies. Once again hopeful for his dreams of revenge, Shinsu met briefly with Ural 'Kotar in the hopes of being accepted as one of the clan's sworn warriors. But the kaidon disappointed him by refusing to field Kotar warriors against Vadam forces and instead pledging material support to more powerful keeps. Shinsu immediately made plans to leave the keep and sign on with any force willing to challenge Vadam on the battlefield. He rekindled his old relationship with Cena 'Kotar and offered her Pula as an indentured servant in exchange for her pledge to shelter Tuka within the keep. Though Tuka was terrified at the thought of his older brother——his last surviving relative—leaving him in the care of strangers, Shinsu had little time for his brother's fears. With Sanghelios's history being decided in the ongoing civil war he could hardly afford to waste any more time sheltering in Kotar.
Though Shinsu was prepared to serve as a low-caste warrior in his quest for revenge, fortune was on his side in the form of Zura 'Kotar. Shinsu's former schoolmate was also ill-content to join his kaidon in observing the war from the sidelines. Zura had obtained a position as an officer in a militia group called the Sons of the Preserving Blade, a small force of young warriors and peasants eager to prove themselves on the battlefield. Shinsu was initially disdainful of the poorly disciplined force that seemed more interested in posturing than actually fighting. But he saw opportunity to be had as the leader of such a force—if he could only find a way to make them battle ready. He agreed to join the Preserving Blade with the caveat that Zura use Kotar funds to hire veteran warriors who could drill the rag-tag militia into an effective fighting force. He ventured out into the battlefield to personally hire mercenaries willing to take orders from a handful of aristocratic youths. Though he held little social status of his own, Shinsu learned quickly how to impress seasoned warriors and draw them into the militia's ranks. As the Sons of the Preserving Blade improved their equipment and tactics Shinsu cemented his leadership position by organizing a small cadre of skilled but young officers who could inspire their troops and rally more such warriors to their cause. Among these warriors were Hij 'Saka, a stern aristocrat from a distinguished military academy, and Gin 'Visan, a wild but popular peasant-turned-soldier.
- Zura 'Kotar: "These warriors made one mistake. Surely we can afford a little mercy here."
- Shinsu 'Refum: "Only a few made the mistake this time. How many more will make it the next? We are not children anymore. They will all have to learn that if we are to lead them into war. I will wield the blade myself. But you will all watch."
- ―Shinsu 'Refum executes a group of attempted deserters
The Sons of the Preserving Blade were eager to join the ongoing battles across Sanghelios. While Shinsu shared their impatience he convinced Zura and the other officers to hold the force back until their mercenary instructors were satisfied in the militia's training. Shinsu himself took lessons from these mercenaries, who forced him to face the hard truths of wartime leadership. When several overeager warriors fled camp to strike out on their own Shinsu personally led a search party to capture the deserters and executed them in front of the assembled force. News of distant Vadam victories continued to trickle into camp. Though Shinsu had once yearned to achieve his ascension through the path of an honorable warrior he now realized that more brutal methods would be required to reach his distant goals.
"Take The Fight to Them"
When the time finally came to lead the Sons of the Preserving Blade into battle, the militia eagerly set out to join the battle against Vadam and its allies. The fruits of their training paid off in a series of small, careful skirmishes against Vadam foraging parties. The Sons of the Preserving Blade were only sparsely equipped and needed to scavenge weapons and armor from fallen warriors on the battlefield. Fortunately such corpses were plentiful on war-stricken Sanghelios. Shinsu himself donned a dark suit of armor taken from the first Vadam officer he killed. Careful not to overreach, he convinced his fellow officers to launch ambushes only on isolated and unsuspecting Vadam war parties. Hij and Zura both preferred coordinating with larger and better armed keeps to wage a "proper war", but Shinsu insisted on fighting a guerrilla war on Vadam territory. The Sons of the Preserving Blade remained a lightly-armed force, capable of launching fast attacks before retreating back into the countryside. Gin 'Visan and the other warriors from peasant backgrounds helped their fellow warriors blend in with rural villagers and requisition supplies from sympathetic villagers without resorting to theft or bullying.
As their successes grew, Shinsu and Hij established a loose strategy that would serve them well throughout their campaign. By identifying multiple targets before splitting up into smaller raiding parties, the Sons could strike in several places at once before retreating and regrouping at an established rendezvous point. Such a strategy made it difficult for their enemies to track their movements and kept them mobile even without access to large amounts of dropships and ground vehicles. Although the Vadam and their allied keeps did not initially see the Sons as a threat when compared to the larger armies they faced, the militia's name and reputation began to spread as its attacks increased. As the Sons' attacks continued and they began recruiting and arming more serfs to bolster their numbers, they became wildly popular with Sangheili villages, particularly the poorer areas removed from the more prosperous keeps. Shinsu himself was known for his dark armor and deadly skill with a blade. His aloof demeanor only further inspired the rumors and he came to be known among the villages as "the Black Knight of Sanghelios." After years of striving for fame and glory the Refum exile had finally begun to achieve true status on the battlefield.
- Cena 'Kotar: "It is a shame this can never truly be. You know my kaidon would never approve."
- Shinsu 'Refum: "Does that make this too dangerous?"
- Cena 'Kotar: "Of course not. It makes it more fun."
- — Shinsu 'Refum and Cena 'Kotar
While Ural 'Kotar disapproved of the Preserving Blade's actions, the fact that one of their officers was his direct relation obligated him to provide the militia support and safe haven on his lands. Shinsu often visited the Kotar keep during lulls in the fighting when his warriors regrouped to resupply and recuperate from their losses. He attempted to explain the importance of the struggle against Vadam to Tuka, who disappointed him by failing to show even the slightest interest in the crusade to avenge their clan. Tuka was, however, devoted to Cena and shared his brother's affection for her. In their brief times alone together Shinsu and Cena rekindled their relationship and even took the friendship further. Shinsu thrilled at the courtship, an outlet for the stress of combat leadership and a way of indulging his old aspirations towards tales of the great warriors of legend. While Cena knew Ural would never approve a true union she enjoyed her secret trysts with Shinsu and saw no harm in a youthful romance.
Personality and Traits
- "Swords are for killing. Warriors are for fighting. And avengers like me, well how should I put it? Anyway you say it, there are things that exist for one purpose; those like me are like that. After all, now there is only one path I can take. And to be honest, I don't care how many comrades or anyone else fall along the way."
- ―Shinsu 'Refum
- "Our pain has festered untended for too long. In order to survive with it, we learned to live through it and in doing so, we made it a shield to protect us from the reality of our suffering. Our pain is always protecting us."
- ―Shinsu to Simon-G294
From a very young age, Shinsu was a highly driven individual who believed he could accomplish anything with the right amount of willpower. This trait, coupled with his desire to emulate heroic warriors like his father, caused him to be proud and headstrong, often to the point of rashness. Following the Sons' utter destruction and his capture and torture at the hands of Sangheili loyalists, Shinsu was humbled and became far less reckless as he abandoned many of the old emotions that had driven him before. The Shinsu who fled Sanghelios to build his own insurgent group was calculating and strategy-minded, knowing that he would need to become just as cunning and manipulative as the humans and Fallen he had once despised if he hoped to bring down the loyalist government. Shinsu was fully aware of the immorality of many of his actions and was resolved to be punished for them in full once he had achieved his goals. To Shinsu, his honor, life, and very soul were acceptable sacrifices if they allowed him to fulfill his vision of the Sangheili's future.
As the leader of the Cleansing Blade, Shinsu maintained an aloof, casual demeanor around enemies and allies alike. This behavior often threw those unfamiliar with him off guard, a trait he used to his advantage when he needed to lie to or manipulate others. Extremely slow to anger, he was not above carrying out punishments and even executions within his organization when he deemed them necessary and commanded both devotion and respect from the warriors under his command.
Though trained to be competent with all manner of firearms within the Covenant, Shinsu's true strength lay in his artful mastery of the traditional Sangheili energy sword. While training under Shoma 'Yeshen, Shinsu was recognized as the blademaster's finest student, surpassing his fellow trainees in all manner of drills and exercises. His participation in the Fallen insurrection and his leadership role within the Sons of the Preserving Blade gave him the chance to hone his skills in actual combat, and his ferocity at close quarters lent him a fearsome reputation as the "Black Knight of Sanghelios." During the entirety of the conflict, Shinsu never interrupted his study of the blade and by the time of his split with the Fallen and takeover of Famul, he was arguably one of the deadliest blademasters within the Sangheili race.
- "Too slow. You divide your attention between your opponent's movements and your own, making it all too easy to manipulate your attacks. What's more, your strikes lack force and power. If you attack without the resolve to kill, you will be utterly defeated by those who do, just as you have been now."
- ―Shinsu to his brother, Tuka 'Refum
Shinsu followed the style of swordsmanship taught to him by Shoma 'Yeshen, which eschewed direct contact with an opponent's blade in favor of agile dodges and countersteps that allowed a duelist to find an opening in an opponent's defense rather than overwhelming them with direct assaults. The Yeshen style favored swift, cutting attacks that aimed to kill enemies quickly by targeting vital organs in the chest and torso. This style was effective against both groups, as the quick, disabling attacks allowed the fighter to swiftly dispatch one enemy before moving on to the next, and individuals, as the fighter avoided the opponent's blade through lightning-fast movements while striking past his defenses with equally blinding speed.