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After a long term as the leader of the Arashikage clan of assassins, Hard Master eventually concluded (under the influence of his recent student, Snake Eyes) that they were on the wrong path.
Meanwhile, a young Storm Shadow, bitter over how Hard Master had favored Snake Eyes, attempted to poison his rival. Unbeknownst to him, the cups were later switched, and Hard Master swallowed the poison. When Snake Eyes tried to save him by cutting a hole in throat to allow him to breathe, Storm Shadow came into the room and mistakenly concluded that Snake Eyes had murdered their master.