Note: Yojimbo means bodyguard in Japanese, which is usually the only job that the Ronin (masterless samurai) were left to do. Yojimbo's fayth Rowen is inspired in one of the most famous Ronin on Japan's history: Miyamoto Musashi, the famed swordsman. See Wikipedia for details on the real life version of "Rowen".
Part I - Becoming a Fayth
Rowen's Early Years
Rowen aka Yojimbo is immortal now, but since he died at 25, that's how old he appears. He is actually 800 years old, born right after Lord Mi'hen formed the Warrior Monks corps to complement his Crusader order. He lives in the Cave of the Stolen Fayth.Elf like tall and thin like a reed, with delicate features Rowen often fools opponents into thinking he is weak. The truth is he is quite strong and extremely agile. His hair is black with large patches of gray - it has been this way since he turned 23. His eyes are steely gray with a glint of ice. He wears knee high leather boots, a short grey travel cape, loose fitting brown pants a black shirt, long black gloves and a leather jacket. He is rarely seen without his sword and without his dog Seika by his side, a tan colored mutt with white fur patches on his chest, head and paws that Rowen raised since it was a puppy. In his Aeon form Rowen shows up as Yojimbo, the body guard, which appears together with his faithful lion-dog Daigoro, both dressed in full traditional warrior garb. A fierce mask compliments Yojimbo's costume.
Rowen is very independent, he thinks he knows it all, is headstrong and easily offended. An extremely skilled swordsman, Rowen rose to the top of the Warrior Monks very fast, which made him quite full of himself. While alive Rowen has made many enemies with his stubbornness and arrogance and he eventually left Bevelle in disgrace. After his fall from grace Rowen changed a lot. He is now a loner, very quiet and stands back at every situation observing everything with keen eyes, only talking when talked to. He saw the error of his ways and now he hates seeing arrogance anywhere particularly when he sees it coming from himself.
He considers honor very important and will not go back on his word. Rowen is also a fiercely loyal friend to those who he deems worthy. If you get lucky enough to achieve a high level of trust from him you can ask him for his life and he will give it to you. But very few have deserved that honor in the past, and after he died betrayed by someone he did give his life for, it is unlikely anyone ever will again gain such confidence from Rowen.
The dishonor of his name is a chip on his shoulder and Rowen gets quite aloof and uncooperative if he feels you disrespected his honor in any way, sometimes for the silliest things. Usually, after a cool down period, he will see the pettiness of his actions and relent. But he has been known to hold a grudge for centuries. Rowen is also a penny pincher and is always concerned about money.When he was 10 years old Rowen was ordered to be a monk by his father who had promised one of his offspring to the Church. He never saw his family again, as Sin attacked Luca and they died in the attack. After two years in Bevelle's priesthood school he got to be very good at sword combat and combat in general. At 12 he caught the eye of Lord Mi'hen who had founded both the Crusaders and the Warrior Monks a decade before. Lord Mi'hen took him under his wing and made Rowen a swordsmanship teacher to the Warrior Monks when he was 16. When Rowen reached 19 he was already the lead combat teacher. After he reached 20 he was put by his mentor Lord Mi'hen ahead of preparing candidates to be warrior monks. While in that post he helped Lord Mi'hen write several books on strategy and sword fighting and what he (and Lord Mi'hen) envisioned the warrior-monk's life should be.
Their teachings weren't limited to swordplay and strategy. As an elite corps the Warrior Monks were required to know how to heal and Rowen came up with the requirement that warrior monks had to know how to decorate temple books properly with long, clumsy ink pens. According to Rowen this exercise in calligraphy would teach the recruits discipline, patience and how to have a light touch. He wanted his pupils to know what to do when brute force could not be used to resolve problems. Never one to suggest something for his pupils that he was unable to do, he excelled at calligraphy also, drawing the flowery Yevon's symbols with ease and perfection.
After his fast rise to the top of the Warrior Monks, Rowen got quite full of himself and his prideful streak got the best of him. He demanded many honors and was quite opinionated. Rowen was also quite fond of his cadets and frequently got in rows with the temple powerful because of it. This attitude won Rowen many enemies in the Church's power structure but since he was under Lord Mi'hen's protection no one could touch him.
At 23 Rowen lost his protector and mentor. Lord Mi'hen died and suddenly he was an easy target for his many enemies. His only protection was the fact that the Warrior Monks corps adored him and would follow him to hell if needed. Unable to ban him, his enemies managed to weave a web of lies that got Rowen in deep dishonor, stripped of all his posts and titles. With his dishonor, his enemies had made sure he could not join the Crusaders. His life as a swordsman and teacher was over. To get him away from Bevelle they also transferred Rowen to the lowest post they could find: An acolyte at Kilika Temple.
23 years old, disgraced and far away from his disciples and friends Rowen sulked in the remote village. His only friend was a puppy he rescued from a trashcan. He named the puppy Seika - Sacred Fire - in honor of Kilika's temple and Aeon. Deeply depressed, Rowen felt that his disgrace was a dishonor to his family's memory. He also felt that he was abandoning his pupils and letting Lord Mi'hen down. His worries and troubles made his hair get littered with gray streaks. Rowen even contemplated harakiri – the samurai suicide – but he realized that as the sole heir of his family name he could not give up until he cleared their name. But how ?
A Final Aeon that never was
As an acolyte, it befell on Rowen the task of training the village's apprentice Summoner. The young lad - Ghirlon - treated Rowen with respect and deference and came daily to get training not only in the teachings, but in combat as well, since he would eventually have to go on a pilgrimage. Ghirlon's commitment to giving his life for Spira and his deference slowly chiseled away at Rowen's aloofness and mistrust and they became friends. Meanwhile, Rowen's dog Seika grew into a charming tan/white mutt who obeyed Rowen's every command.
When Ghirlon became a Summoner he invited Rowen to be his Guardian and Rowen accepted gladly. Not only he was truly fond of the young lad, but this was the chance he had been waiting for to clean his family name. As former Warrior Monk, Rowen also had a deep seated desire to aid Spira in defeating Sin. His one condition to Ghirlon: Seika would accompany them.
After many adventures Seika, Rowen and Ghirlon found themselves at the Zanarkand Dome, face to face with Yunalesca, who now demanded a life to provide Ghirlon with his Final Aeon. Rowan accepted the sacrifice but begged Yunalesca to let him keep Seika since the mutt would be abandoned without him and Ghirlon around.
Yunalesca granted his wish and turned them both into fayths for Yojimbo and Daigoro , giving Yojimbo Zanmato to defeat Sin. Yunalesca then told Ghirlon that his friend would become the next Sin, and that the reprieve to Spira would be only temporary.
Ghirlon trekked all the way to the Calm Lands mulling on what he learned. He had dedicated his life to battle Sin but now he was having second thoughts. He was only 17 and would give his life away just for a temporary relief ? And he would make his best friend become Sin ?
Arriving at the foot of Mt. Gagazet, Ghirlon decided to abandon his plans and hide his friend's fayth stone. He wanted to make sure Rowen wouldn't be used as a Final Aeon by the next Summoner who fell for Bevelle's lies. Leaving Yojimbo's fayth stone deep within the Cave of the Stolen Fayth he went on to Bevelle, changed his name and never looked back.
As a fayth, Rowen made it to the Farplane and waited for Ghirlon, and waited... and waited.. 50 years later he saw Ghirlon in the Farplane and his friend finally told him what he had done.
Instead of getting relieved that he did not turn into Sin, Rowen felt betrayed. He had given his life to relieve Spira of evil and bring honor to his name and to aid his best friend. Instead, once more his name was in disgrace, now a failed Guardian in addition to being a failed Monk. And worse, now, 50 years later he could not do anything to fix it. Rowen told Ghirlon his feelings and never talked to Ghirlon again.
Part II - Awakening
Yojimbo joins the battle against Sin
In spite of being stuck in a locked chamber deep inside a cave, Rowen could sense a change in the air. After 200 years there he could hear the fiends slithering eagerly to snack on the few fools who ventured inside that cave. But this was different. This time the noise from the battles was much closer, and the pyreflies of fiends were a lot more numerous. He had seen the pyreflies of a bewildered man in his 20's floating around but then someone had performed a sending. There was a Summoner nearby.
The mere thought of having a Summoner this close made Rowen blind with fury. He would not let himself get used by those unworthy cowards. Never again!
The noise of the teleporting pad powering up interrupted his thoughts. The Summoner materialized in it.
Angry, Rowen turned into Yojimbo and attacked the Summoner with all his might, only holding back on using Zanmato. Even hating Summoners with a passion he could not bring himself to kill one. They were on the same side after all. The Summoner was Gandof and without using Zanmato, Yojimbo eventually lost the battle and he was back to being Rowen.
- "Why did you attack me ? Don't you want to be my Aeon ? Didn't you hear my prayers to you, requesting your aid ?" asked Gandof
- "I care not for prayers or Summoners. I will not aid you" answered Rowen curtly
- "I find it most curious that a fayth – someone who willingly gave his life to the cause of defeating Sin – will not aid my quest to defeat it. Is there a particular reason you turned back on your vows ?" asked Gandof calmly
Gandof's jab about him turning back on his vows stung Rowen. He never had turned back on his word and never would. He relented.
- "I did NOT turn back on my vows to defeat Sin. It is you cowardly Summoners who turned your back on me." he answered
- "How so ?" asked Gandof
- "I was created at the end of my Summoners pilgrimage, to defeat Sin, which I willingly gave my life to do. Yet my Summoner abandoned me in this cave and never battled it" said Rowen
- "What is this you talk of ? Your Summoner ? What do you mean ?" asked Gandof confused
Rowen told Gandof about his life, about Kilika, about his pilgrimage, Yunalesca, the need for a sacrifice for a Final Aeon, Ghirlon's betrayal, everything. It felt good to talk to someone after all this time alone.
Pitying him Gandof told him that 200 years later no one remembered Rowen's dishonor, but the Crusaders were in a sad state, penniless and without a good leader. If Yojimbo helped him he would give him his fortune, and with that money Yojimbo could secretly fund the Crusaders and keep Lord Mi'hen's dream alive.
- "Now that you know one of your Guardians will have to die, then become Sin, you are still willing to go through with it ?" asked Rowen truly surprised.
- "Spira is in a sad state my friend. After 400 years of Sin there are entire continents gone, we are just left with this one. The islands, Achadia, the land of the Mithras, all gone. Entire races gone. This can not go on. I will defeat Sin and bring respite to Spira before it drowns in sorrow and despair" answered Gandof
- "Then I will help you, but I'm afraid I can not be your Final Aeon. There needs to be a deep bond between the Final Aeon and his Summoner and we have just met. I will do my best, but it may not work"
- "No need. My childhood friend waits outside, she is my Guardian and will gladly give her life to save Spira. Besides, you need to be around to take care of the Crusaders, right ? I am honored to have you as my Aeon and I will keep my word. 250,000 gil will be waiting for you as soon as I can mail the orders to the bank" said Gandof smiling
Yojimbo / Rowen joined Gandof and the rest is history: Gandof went on to be the first summoner after Yunalesca who defeated Sin, with Yojimbo's and all other Aeons' help. And before their final battle Rowen was able to transfer 300,000 gil to the Crusaders account, as a mysterious donor.
But after Gandof died Rowen's spirit was back to his cave prison, and he stayed there for over 300 years until another Summoner came to request his aid.
1) There was a very popular series in Japan about a Ronin that worked as a bodyguard and had his toddler son Daigoro with him. "Lone Wolf & Cub". There is one of the series that is in English with IMDB title: 0081506.
2) Famous Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa made a movie called Yojimbo about a Ronin thta saves a town from a gang of troublemakers