Isawa Sodan

Sodan is a Phoenix Shugenja, one wracked with the pain of all-too frequent and disturbing visions. Isawa Sodan was apprencticed to Lao Jen Sha (“Old Man Shark”) for the five years of the Assassin’s War. He learned to fish. Following that, he was sent to deliver Lao Jen Sha to Isawa Ikahashi, and to render his own assistance to that Bushi as well.

“Isawa Sodan, young student at the Isawa School, of course. He attracted some notice, as he seemed to have deep, disturbing prophetic dreams. These were never very pleasant, but the they did attract the attention of the various important Isawa Shugenja. Young Sodan seemed to have some greater purpose, or would reveal vital knowledge one day.”

Isawa Sodan was the last student of Lao Jen Sha, and last to study at Grey Stone Temple in Mura Sabishii Toshi before it’s destruction by the Tsunami in the 5th Year in the Reign of Hantei the 39th.

Who am I?

Who am I? While Rokugan fell to civil war, I fished. Who am I? My days are full of travels and hardships; my nights full of steel, blood and death. Who am I? My life was changed with a moment’s look, yet I still wander the world, not knowing who has touched me so. Who am I? I was sent from the Isawa School to further balance my elements, and found that only while you are falling can there be balance; only when your mind is full can you learn; only when you cast away your hopes of victory can you succeed. I am the last student of Lao Jen Sha, the last student of the Grey Stone Temple. I learn, but at what cost? Who am I? I stand before you with no hopes, no dreams, no expectations in me. Instead, I hold them in my hands, to write my story with actions not contemplations.

Who am I? I am the arrow fired from the bow without though; the brush flowing over the paper. I seek nothing, and in doing so find it in abundance. I stand in a precarious balance between world and Void, never wondering where I am heading.

Who am I? I am Isawa Sodan, Shugenja and Last Student. Who am I? It matters not what I say.

I … am.

Dedication of Nerai

I spend time preparing. I build a small fire, prepare tea in a very ceromonial manner, and meditate. I take my new naginata and spend time studying it. I run my hands over the shaft, inspecting the wood, learning the swirl of the grain, visualizing the tree from which it sprang. I carefull polish the blade, noting the flow of the steel, the craftsmanship. The ore being mined, smelted. The heat of the fire, the hiss of the water turning into steam, escaping into the air. The ringing of the hammer, folding the metal. I contemplate this all…

The moment comes. I am not expecting it, but I know. My spell-scroll is before me, and my voice rises and falls in a chant. When it is done, I flow to my feet and face the Ocean.

“I was cold because I expected to be cold. I was tired because I expected to be tire. I was scared because I expected to be scared. But your were not cold, not tired, not scared. Lao Jen Sha, you just were…”

“So in your honor I take my expectations, my desires,. my hopes, and I bind them in this blade. I will not be cold, I will not be tired, I will not be scared. I will be Isawa Sodan, and I will face my enemies with my expectations in my hands, not in my heart.”

“Lao Jen Sha, may your kami hear and bless this weapon. Kami of the Ocean, may you hear my prayers and bless this weapon as an instrument to avenge the insult done to you by Opawang. Kami of the Fire, hear me and grant me the boon to burn my enemies from the world.”

I hold the naginata above my head, so the blade ctaches and reflects both fire and water.

“I name you Nerai”.

I sink down to my knees, kneeling, Nerai on a stand before me. And I kneel there until I leave. There is no anticipation of sunrise, no expectation of daylight. The time to leave comes because it comes. And I leave because I am gone.

The Gift of Lao Jen Sha (Phoenix Spell)

The student sat on the boat, a lump of misery. The sensei raised one eyebrow, as if to ask what was wrong.

“I am cold, master,” sniveled the young shugenja.

“You are cold because you expect to be cold,” replied Lao Jen Sha.

* * *

The pass was narrow, and the three bandits blocked it. The leader was a big man, whose mempo was in the form of a terrible oni that inspired fear in all that gazed upon it. The student fell back, unable to lift his wakizashi.

“What is wrong?” asked the sensei.

“Master, I am scared!” cried the student.

“You expect to be scared – so you are scared. I expect nothing, and so…” An arc of steel and a spurt of crimson; the mempo rolled away, not so terrifying now. “- am. Come, we must continue.” And the two continued their journey through the now unblocked pass.”

* * *
Lao Jen Sha was able to live in the moment, without expression or preconceived notions. This mind-state allowed him to overcome the elemental inconveniences and external emotional states. After much meditation and study, Lao Jen Sha’s last student came up with a spell that would impart some of the Master’s vision of satori to a target. When under the effects of this spell, the target is able to ignore one specific outside distraction – the attention sapping effects of the weather, fear, etc. – to better concentrate on the task at hand. This does not allow the target to ignore the ancillary effects of the distraction (i.e. it does nothing to prevent the target from freezing from the blizzard.). It merely allows him to continue on with his actions, undistracted by the condition.

The Gift of Lao Jen Sha (Phoenix Spell – Secret – Rare)

Ring: Void
Base TN: 15
Casting Time: 4 actions
Duration: 1 hour
Mastery: 5
Concentration: None
Prerequisites: Meditation 3+
Raises: Casting Time, Duration, Number of Conditions
Effect: This spell allows a target to ignore some outside distraction (cold, heat, fear, etc.) and continue on with his actions unhampered by it. Note that this spell does not provide any protection vs. the effects of the condition; it just obviates any modifications to the target’s TNs die to the condition.

The “Gift” is not cast from a scroll (nor can be) – it must be learned at a Mastered level upon learning it. The student must have a Meditation of 3 or higher. The default of the spell is a a self only; at least one raise must be used to effect another, and only a single individual may be effected.

Isawa Sodan and page content (Dedication, Who Am I, and Gift of Lao Jen Sha) by and Copyright 1998 Bruce Harlick.

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