The nascent Hand first formed about 800 years ago in feudal Japan, as a reaction to the oppressive class system that characterized Japanese society in that period. A number of Japanese citizens left their homes and settled in the mountains. There, they cultivated skill in ninjutsu, and through rigorous training became experts at assassination and espionage. The group officially came together in 1588 under the command of Kagenobu Yoshioka, who turned his samurai school into a bastion of support for the common man. Yoshioka was eventually assassinated, and command of the group co-opted by the Snakeroot, an ancient ninja clan who turned the Hand to demon worship and black magic. The Hand began working as mercenaries, and sought to extend its influence throughout the world.