Rank 4 Akodo School Bushi
A solemn man with calm, rather sad eyes, Tomonaga looks older than his age (32) would suggest, especially as his hair is getting prematurely grey along the temples. A small scar is visible over the left side of his upper lip and more scars criss-cross his arms and chest, which hint at his battle experiences. A former officer in the Lion Cavalry, Tomonaga served at Beiden Pass, where he is well-remembered as the Lion bushi who singlehandedly attacked and destroyed a troop of Scorpion samurai. However, there was more to the story than mere courage or duty.
During that battle, Tomonaga was the leader of a small group of Lion samurai defending a narrow defile from a much larger force of Scorpion troops. Despite a hopeless tactical situation, Tomonaga steadfastly held the group together, his courage and leadership a firm rock for the faltering hopes of his men. Aided by Isawa Akiko, a Phoenix shugenja of some repute, the group held off increasingly aggressive attacks by the enemy forces for several days. Mutual trust and admiration soon blossomed into true love between Tomonaga and Akiko. Like many Rokugani stories of romance, this one was to have a tragic ending as well.
The Scorpions, frustrated with their inability to crush the defenders, threw one last attack with all their remaining troops. With an overwhelming numerical advantage, they fell upon the beleagured Lion bushi like a tsunami. In the furious battle that followed, Akiko was killed by a volley of arrows intended for Tomonaga, shielding him with her own body.
Seeing her fall, Tomonaga was consumed by a terrible rage. With a roaring warcry that would have impressed a Crab berserker, he met the Scorpion charge head on with a charge of his own. He barely felt the arrows and flashing blades that pierced his armour, hacking and cutting in raging fury until all around him were slain. Inspired by his actions, his men drove the enemy forces back with heavy losses. The surviving Lions found Tomonaga cradling Akiko's body, surrounded by a field of enemy dead. His face and armour were covered in blood, a lot of which was his own.
Tomonaga's leadership was duly reported by his superiors to Akodo Toturi himself and noted by clan historians into the scrolls of the Lion clan. However, broken by his loss, Tomonaga felt unable to serve his daimyo properly and requested permission to commit seppukku. With some understanding of the events at the battle, Akodo Toturi denied his request and reposted the samurai to the Akodo School of Bushido where he has served with distinction for several years as a junior instructor. Given the fame of his actions at Beiden Pass, Tomonaga is treated with something like awe from the 'Lion Cubs' under his care, despite his relatively young age.
Unlike many of his fellow Lions, Tomonaga does not hold a religious reverance for the traditional. It is not unusual for him to be seen discussing swordplay with noted kenjutsu masters and even wandering ronin, or experimenting in the dojo with new kenjutsu techniques and strokes. A pragmatic man, Tomonaga strongly believes that being locked into set patterns and techniques could be a serious disadvantage against an astute opponent. He is known to encourage his charges to gain exposure to new ideas, either adopting them or learning how to defeat them.
While some of his more radical ideas have raised the hackles of the senior sensei at the school, as a whole they do not totally disapprove. Some of his wayward students have been reproached by other sensei with the explaination that: "One must first learn the rules, before one starts to break them"
Quite unusual for a Lion, Tomonaga is mild mannered and not given to the arrogance that infects many of the Lion bushi. He prefers to spend his time perfecting his swordplay and painting. Having seen the face of war and death and experienced the sorrow it brings, Tomonaga tries to avoid unnecessary bloodshed. While not easily provoked, he does have a Lion's temper which he tries to keep under control. Tomonaga is regarded by many of the Lion sensei as one of the deadliest swordsmen in Rokugan, even more so when he is enraged.
You are war-weary and prone to bouts of melancholy for your lost love. You keep your katana 'Lion's Claw' close by at all times as it reminds you of the beautiful shugenja who enspelled it with its fearsome 'bite'. That and kenjutsu are all you have left. You keep to yourself most times, abstaining from sake or geisha. You don't get angry easily but when you do, your rage is that of a blood-mad Lion.
"In training, teach the body with the mind. In combat, free the mind and let the body find its own wisdom"
Honor 3 Glory 6
Attacking : 9k4 (Agi 4 + Kenjutsu 5)
Damage : 9k3 (Str 4 + 5k3 'Lion's Claw')
TN to Hit : 25 (Reflexes 4 * 5) + 5 (Light Armour)
Wounds: 10:-0; 20:-1; 30:-2; 40:-3; 50:-4; 60:Down; 70:Out; 80:Dead
Strength of the Earth (4 pts) - Wound rank penalty decreased by 2 dice
Quick - Roll 2 dice and keep the highest to determine Initiative
Death Trance - Automatically succeeds any Fear test
'Lion's Claw' (See Below)
Lion's Claw was originally a katana (of fine quality) forged by the master bladesmith Ikoma Yoshinaka and carried by Tomonaga's father Akodo Genda. Its name comes from a stylized steel claw carved into the pommel of the sword, but was otherwise unremarkable. The katana was later magically enhanced by the Phoenix shugenja Isawa Akiko who enspelled it with the Earth spell Immortal Steel.
Akodo Nagumo sat across from the boy who would soon be leaving for his Gempukku at the Topaz Championship in Tsuma. A senior sensei at the Akodo school of Bushido, Nagumo performed the tea ceremony with precise, effortless moves. No movement was wasted. The boy was conscious that no other student had ever received the honour of a tea ceremony from Nagumo. Neither spoke as a fine porcelain cup filled with steaming green tea was served to both. Waiting for Nagumo to take the first sip, the boy followed suit, feeling the warmth of the tea seep into his belly.
"You have learnt much here, young one. Many tests you have passed. Now, only one remains. Are you afraid?".
Holding his sensei's unyielding gaze, the boy did not speak for long moments. "Yes sensei, I have a fear of failure."
At this, the Nagumo's stern mask broke into a wry smile. "That is good to hear. A little fear is always healthy. Many students and even sensei are afraid to admit their fears even to themselves and end up being defeated by them. But one cannot overcome fear if one does not acknowledge it. I remember my own fears quite clearly when it was time for my Gempukku."
"Your advice guides my steps as always, sensei."
"You will do well, boy, for you have wisdom beyond your years. I have been a teacher for more than 20 years and have trained many Lion samurai, but none better."
Neither spoke again, as they comtemplated the setting of the sun in silence. The following day, the boy rode on to the famous Kakita Bushido school near the town of Tsuma. Sensei Nagumo passed on the next day at the ripe old age of 71 and did not hear the news. Akodo Tomonaga of the Lions had won the Topaz Championship, defeating the students of all the other clans.
*** End ***