Legend of the Five Rings Aftermath
Phoenix Clan Champion
Shiba Tsukune was an aspiring student of the Akodo War College and the Shiba Bushi school. She was an excellent samurai and a valiant yojimbo. She strove all her life to bring honor to her family. She became Phoenix Clan Champion upon the death of Shiba Ujimitsu.
When Shiba Jimen’s daughter was eight years old suffered from a plague and she became ill. Her father could not save her life, and waited her soon death when suddenly appeared the Phoenix Clan Champion, Shiba Ujimitsu. Jimen’s daughter passed away, her soul reaching the Celestial Heavens, but her corpse was filled by another spirit, Shiba Saija’s soul.
Saija had been the eight years old Ujimitsu’s daughter, and she had been killed by her father few hour before in presence of the Emperor Hantei XXXVIII. The Hantei had ordered Saija’s grandfather, Seppun Waritsu, and his entire line to commit seppuku. When Saija’s mother committed jigai, Saija had cursed the Emperor and his family line, and Ujimitsu cut her head compelled by an inner voice. The Saija’s soul had entered in Ofushikai which magically transported Ujimitsu to Shiro Shiba and Jimen’s house, to swap the souls.
Tsukune had no memory of the events before the plague. All of her memories were clouded, faint and disturbing, hidden by the veil of sickness. Sometimes when she saw her true father, Ujimitsu, an strange sense of love and pride surged from her. Ujimitsu knew the truth, because the eyes of Saija were recognized in Tsukune’s face, but never talked about it.
Childhood and Training
Shiba Tsukune was born into the household of Shiba Jimen, a wealthy Shiba landholder. She had an elder brother named Shiba Norihatsu, and most believed that the girl would spend her life in the shadow of her older brother. This did not bother Tsukune, as she and her brother shared an uncanny bond. They were described as “twins, separated by birth” by the poet Kakita Ujina.
Tsukune trained for a while at the Isawa Shugenja school, but she eventually left the path of a shugenja. 5 Her brother Norihatsu was sent to the Shiba Bushi school, as was expected, but Tsukune, through a favor of a Shiba family daimyo, was sent to the Akodo War College for training. Though separated by great distance, the two siblings continued their bond, constantly corresponding between themselves. The two were poised to bring great honor to their father’s house, and Jimen needed no shugenja to tell him that his children shared a kharmic tie. He knew that they would accomplish great deeds.
Unfortunately, this was not to be. On New Year’s Day, Norihatsu was journeying home from the Shiba school when his horse slipped and threw him. Norihatsu landed on his neck, snapping it and killing him instantly. In the lands of the Akodo, Tsukune instantly fell to her knees, screaming and weeping. When asked what was wrong, all she could do was sob, “My brother, my brother…”
Tsukune could not be brought out of her waking trance afterward. Not even the wisdom of the Council of Five could discover the mystery of her ailment. Eventually, a Kitsu Shugenja came to investigate the girl’s condition, and she found the cause of the problem. Tsukune and Norihatsu had shared a soul, and with his death, she had been cut off from half of it. The Kitsu told Shiba Jimen that Tsukune would not recover until her wound was healed.
Tsukune spent half of that year at home, barely doing anything – even eating – and only stirring to watch the sunset each night. Toward the end of that summer, Shiba Jimen approached his daughter at sunset to ask if she was ready to return to her studies at the Akodo War College. Tsukune was trained by Akodo Kage in the arts of warfare.
Training with the Shiba
Tsukune became one of the most studious students at the Shiba school. Every waking hour was devoted to studying and practicing her martial skills. She spoke only when spoken to, never played with the other children, and spent a great deal of time poring over the books she brought back from the Akodo school. Her only companions during this time were her cousin, Isawa Uona, and a Kitsu who was studying with Uona, 8 Kitsu Koji, who had been fostered to the Phoenix to become a shugenja. They were almost inseparable since childhood, spending many summer seasons under the care of Bashiko, and in winter time Tsukune returned to be trained with the Lion Clan, while Uona and Koji were taught by old sensei Isawa Gaoshi. Uona also spent several seasons being taught in the Kakita Artisan Academy.
One summer, though Tsukune was supposed to spend the time with her family, Tsukune instead spent three months studying with the Mirumoto family. She finally returned with the phrase “Rhythm and Timing” tattooed across her shoulders. Tsukune was also trained by Kakita Toshimoko in the art of Kenjutsu.
Tsukune was masterful at applying the principles of her training with the Akodo and Mirumoto to her training with the Shiba. In a match, she would merely stand, watching her opponent. She would allow her opponent to attempt several strikes, stepping just out of reach before they connected, and watching each one. When she was ready, and only when she was ready, she would strike as her opponent prepared the next blow. Her teachers and family were very impressed with her skill, and she earned the nickname “Little Turtle” for her technique.
Eventually, just before New Year, in the year Uona celebrated her eighteenth year, the trio of friends had exchanged gifts, prior to take the duties that would separate them. Koji gave Uona a translocation spell, while Tsukune gave her a silvered tanto, which had been given by her father in his deathbed. Later this year Koji would return permanently to his father’s side, to join the Lion Clan Army. Tsukune had rejected to become his wife. Unknown to both, Uona was heartbroken, because she had loved Koji, and wished he would ask her to marry, instead to their common friend.
Tsukune reached her gempukku at the age of sixteen. The day before the ceremony, she was informed that she had been invited to join the Order of Chikai and serve as yojimbo to Isawa Tadaka, one of the most promising shugenja in Rokugan. Tsukune was honored by the offer and swore her life to protect Tadaka.
Tsukune and Tadaka met for the ceremony in which she pledged her life to him, and he pledged his life to her. But that was not the end of Tsukune’s connection to the Isawa. In Tadaka, Tsukune was finally able to recover from the wound left by the death of her brother. The yojimbo fell in love with her charge, though she knew that one day she would once again feel the pain of the loss that she experienced that New Year’s Day, many years before. Tsukune was in love with Tadaka until the day he died.
Voice of the Masters
Tsukune who was a gunso at the time, was appointed as the Voice of the Masters.
Lion Attack along Nikesake
In 1126 after Matsu Gohei recovered Toshi Ranbo from the Crane, he ordered to march toward Nikesake, a small Phoenix city near the Lion border under the command of Shiba Katsuda. Tsukune sent a young Isawa Taeruko alongside twenty four more shugenja to reinforce the defenders. The Phoenix held at bay the attackers, sending a message to Gohei: If Lion would bring war to the Phoenix, they must be prepared to face the consequences.
Skirmish with the Lion
Tsukune gathered together a small army investigate events taking place in the southlands near Beiden Pass. She came across a Lion army, waiting on the edge of Crane territory, looking to ambush the disgraced former lion Toturi. Matsu Agetoki, leader of the Lion army, ordered a shugenja to duel Tsukune to determine the victor. It was her childhood friend and failed suitor, Kitsu Koji, who stepped from the distant horde and raised his katana. The duel began, and Tsukune would use her superior swordplay to end the duel with a non-lethal blow, but suddenly Tsukune’s strike was interrupted, thrusting in Koji’s throat. While Tsukune had not planned to kill him, Uona believed so and magically interfered with Tsukune’s strike, actually causing his death. The Master of Air had used a translocation spell to move her to the battelfield, stabbed Tsukune, and returned in an instant to Kyuden Isawa. Shiba Tetsu and Isawa Tomo, helped Tsukune from the field, who found herself wounded with the tanto the samurai-ko had gifted her cousin Uona many years ago. The shugenja’s head was carried back to the Phoenix stronghold as a trophy. Matsu Tsuko, enraged by the action, declared a Blood feud on Tsukune.
Initial Support of the Crane
Following the battle, Tsukune and her men found Toturi in his way to Beiden Pass toward Crane lands and joined them. The Crab had sacked Kakita Palace, pressing inside the Crane territory. The Toturi’s Army bolstered the Crane survivors and stopped them, forcing to retreat. Sukune remained with the Crane while Toturi marched to the Pass.
Fall of Doji Castle
When two Lion armies led by Tsuko and her Hatamoto Matsu Agetoki invaded the Crane lands, Tsukune decided to defend her allies. A small garrison protected Doji Castle, augmented by the Phoenix army led by Tsukune, when Agetoki put the castle under siege. The defenders were able to hold out for three days, and Tsukune even defeating Matsu Gohei in a skirmish.
The Lion army was forced to retreat by orders from Emperor himself. The False Hoturi, pretending to be the Crane Champion attacked with an army. While the Lion watched, inactive, the False Hoturi tricked the defenders into opening the gates. The army decimated the dwindling forces of the Crane. Tsukune fled with Daidoji Uji to the Asahina Temples.
Last Stand in the Asahina Temples
The False Hoturi with his army marched against the Asahina Temples. Daidoji Uji made his last stand there with his Champion Doji Hoturi returned, along with a Mirumoto Daini and an army of shapeshifting Naga. Before the army’s first charge a Necromancer called out Hoturi, but Shiba Tsukune took the challenge with the Crane Champion’s permission. The samurai-ko charged down and cut down the necromancer with one stroke from her naginata. The Naga charged into his ranks, with their archers firing arrows into the air. Lord Hoturi led Daidoji Uji’s forces against the personal guard of the False Hoturi. Hoturi crushed the false one, removing his head from his body with one single stroke. The army was routed, encircled and burned. It was called the Battle of Bloodied Honor.
Katana of Fire
While gunso Tsukune was still leading the Phoenix armies in the Crane lands she was granted with an Elemental Nemuranai, the Katana of Fire, blessed by the Elemental Dragons themselves.
Fall of Kyuden Isawa
Yogo Junzo’s Army had sacked Shiro Shiba, arriving to their true goal, Kyuden Isawa, where the Elemental Masters had hidden the infamous Black Scrolls. Even Tsukune’s brilliant tactics supported by the mighty power of Phoenix shugenja was not enough to preserve the great library at Isawa Palace. It was burned to the ground.
Tadaka’s Name Redeemed
In the early winter of 1128, Tsukune became frustrated with the corruption of Tadaka. She barged through the guards protecting Tadaka no Oni for study and killed the beast with one blow, releasing part of Tadaka’s soul. Isawa Uona confronted her, but Tsukune condemned the Elemental Masters for their descent into corruption, regardless of the reward.
Death of Shiba Ujimitsu
Shashakar then magically transported Tsukune to the battle in Otosan Uchi itself, just in time to watch her lord and master, Shiba Ujimitsu, fall from the walls of the Imperial Palace as his body burned with fire.
The Phoenix Clan Champion Shiba Ujimitsu had been mortally wounded while fighting the tainted Isawa Tsuke, and as his last action he put the Ancestral Clan sword Ofushikai in Tsukune’s hands. After the day was won Tsukune vowed to rebuild her clan, and eradicate the taint that had grown within.
Opening the Gates
In 1130, after the high losses suffered during the Clan War, the Phoenix led by Tsukune were struggling to rebuild due to a lack of manpower. The Grand Master of the Elements, Naka Kuro, pledged his aid and swore fealty to Tsukune and the Phoenix Clan. In addition, Tsukune offered fealty to any shugenja who proved themselves worthy. With her call, the Phoenix quickly swelled their ranks and slowly begin to reclaim their rightful place in the Empire.