L5r: Legend of the Five Rings


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Born: Pre-calendar 
Died: 42 
Parents: Onnotangu, Amaterasu 
Siblings: Akodo, Bayushi, Doji, Fu Leng, Hantei, Hida, Ryoshun, Shinjo, Togashi 
Spouse: Shiba Tsamaru 
Children: Shiba Tsuzaki 
Titles: Phoenix Clan Founder, Phoenix Clan Champion

Shiba, known as the First Phoenix, was one of the ten Kami  who founded the Empire of Rokugan and the twin brother of Bayushi, the Kami of the Scorpion Clan. Shiba was considered the wisest of the Kami. He founded the Phoenix Clan, which he led until his death at the hands of the First Oni during his attempt to rescue the Thunder Shosuro and the wise man Shinsei after the First Day of Thunder. After his death during this successful rescue mission, his spiritual essence possessed his sword, Ofushikai, and for over a thousand years Shiba himself chose the new Champions of his clan and guided them along their paths for the good of the Phoenix and the Emerald Empire.

Fall of the Kami Edit

When their father Onnotangu began behaving strange, Shiba and Bayushi approached Hantei and Fu Leng and suggested something should be done. Hantei forbade the twins from continuing with their planning, but Fu Leng betrayed them to Onnotangu anyway. Onnotangu ate all his children, including Fu Leng. Amaterasu fed him poisoned sake with every child, and when it came to Hantei Onnotangu mistakenly ate a stone. Hantei later challenged his father, cutting open his belly to free his siblings. Onnotangu in turn cut open a hole in the sky, and the Kami fell to earth. [1]

Personality Edit

Shiba was possibly the most intellectual of the Kami. He was intensely interested in the world of Rokugan, and had no shortage of questions for all of the people he met along his journeys. Shiba also was adept at watching people and learning from their actions, a trait which served him well at the Tournament of the Kami. He would spend entire days watching people, remembering everything, and would attempt to use his knowledge to integrate himself into the society into which he had fallen. [citation needed]

Founding Rokugan Edit

As soon as the Children of the Sun and the Moon touched the soil of the Mortal Realm, they ceased being divine. While they were still not truly mortal men, they were also no longer gods. [2] They soon set off from Seppun Hill in order to explore and understand this mortal world they had fallen into, to return five years later. [3]

Tournament of the Kami Edit

The Kami realized that the mortals of the world to which they fell needed guidance and organization that only they could provide. Hantei looked out and saw the people of Rokugan as children who should be taught the wisdom required to flourish. The Kami realized they were just the ones for the task. The siblings organized a tournament, and the victor would become the ruler of the new-formed Emerald Empire of Rokugan and of his or her other siblings and their mortal followers. Shiba beat his twin Bayushi, as he was too wise to fall for Bayushi's tricks, but was in turn beaten by Doji. [1]

Shiba, Bayushi and Shosuro Edit

Shiba would frequently meet with his twin brother Bayushi to discuss stories they had about humans throughout the land, and it was the only time Bayushi would ever take his mask off. It was at one of these meetings that Bayushi introduced Shiba to Shosuro, one of Bayushi's first followers. Shiba was keenly aware that Shosuro was more than she appeared to be. [4]

Phoenix Clan Edit

Shiba and Isawa Edit

When Shiba initially gathered followers around him, he encountered the Tribe of Isawa in the year 25 [5] and their leader Isawa occupying the lands granted to him by his brother. Shiba tried to persuade Isawa to join the fledgling Empire, but Isawa only allowed the Tribe to join to prevent the wrath of Hantei forcing them to leave their lands. [6]

Birth of the Phoenix Clan Edit

Some measure of friction between the Shiba and Isawa families frustrated Shiba. They were happy and healthy, but they had no form, no unity, no sense of common identity. That night a phoenix appeared to him in dreams, and the mytical bird claimed he was the universe entire, in the form of Fire, hatched from an egg, so born from Water, soaring through the skies alongside the Air, it reborn from its ashes, which were on Earth, and finally it was all these things, and none of them too, so the Phoenix was truly from Void.

It also told Shiba that it and he were the same, saying "You are not separate, but one and the same. I am the reflection of your soul just as you are the manifestation of mine. We are death reborn, immortality through a thousand lifetimes. We are the cycle of the cosmos, spinning in patterns as old as time. We will die in flames, only to rise again and again until the sky itself collapses. We are the Phoenix -- the Eye of Eternity." The next morning Shiba founded the Phoenix Clan. [7]

Asako and Yogo Edit

In the year 30 a woman named Asako, a skilled healer, came to the attention of Shiba. She and her husband Yogo joined the Phoenix Clan. [5]

Family Edit

Shiba's Search Edit

After years of wandering Rokugan, Shiba journeyed to Otosan Uchi where Doji and Hida both attempted to get the First Phoenix to take a wife. Doji romantically insisted to Shiba the necessity of a beautiful, talented wife who could capture his heart. Hida, much more pragmatic than their sister, extolled to Shiba the virtues of a wife capable of continuing the family line as well as defending the family's lands and fighting by her husband's side. Shiba eventually tired of his siblings' imploring and declared to them that he would marry the first woman they could find that embodied all of the qualities they were describing. Doji and Hida both despaired upon hearing Shiba's claim that their brother would never marry. [8]

Tsamaru's Plea Edit

Some time later, a woman arrived at the gates of Otosan Uchi, asking for the help of the Kami to save her home from an evil force that had begun to invade. She was fair as a summer's day, and her eyes shone with a fire that bespoke her bravery. Shiba's heart was stolen by the strange woman as soon as he saw her. Shiba asked her name, and the woman replied that it was Tsamaru. Shiba left with her to defend her home. The Kami did not realize, however, that her home was deep beneath the sea. Tsamaru was a ningyo, an ancient race of creatures that live below the seas. Undeterred, Shiba journeyed with Tsamaru to the city of coral and shale that was her home, and together they destroyed the foul creature that had beseiged it. Shiba and Tsamaru took the creatures teeth to Hantei as a trophy of their victory. [8]

Shiba's Wife and Son Edit

Shortly thereafter, the First Phoenix asked Tsamaru to marry him. Although it meant that she would never again return to her home, she agreed and remained forever with Shiba. [8] On the day of the birth of Shiba's son, Shiba Tsuzaki, his wife forged Ofushikai and gifted it to Shiba. Shiba promised that he would always return to protect his children. [9]

War against Fu Leng Edit

Shiba and Fu Leng Edit

Though it was well known that Shinjo journeyed into the Shadowlands to search for her lost brother, it was not as widely known that it was Shiba that first noticed Fu Leng was absent from the Kami that fell upon Seppun Hill. Shiba also journeyed along the once-fertile lands that lead to the place where the Ninth Kami fell through Ningen-do. Though he did not find his brother, Shiba did find a place where a great darkness lived on the path to Jigoku and where a deep sadness filled the Kami as he approached. Most believe this place to be the Festering Pit, but there are some who disagree. The accounts do not match completely, as Shiba describes a place of sheer blackness, where color itself had been drained from the land and where there was no sign of life whatsoever. Within the place was also said to be a dark river of souls, information which the Council of Five guarded jealously. The Masters had sent parties to search for the place, but none had been successful. Doubtless the Champion knew of this place through his connection to the Soul of Shiba, but none had volunteered any help to solving the mystery. [10]

Isawa refuses to join the War Edit

since the War Against Fu Leng had begun in the year 33 [5] Shiba repeatedly tried to convince Isawa that he could not remain neutral in the War Against Fu Leng, but Isawa would not risk his people in a conflict he deemed to be too far away to be of any consequence. It was only after an attack on Toshi Tetsuharu and its destruction that Isawa realized the Tribe of Isawa would not be safe. Isawa committed his finest students to assist in the war, but would still to partake in it himself. [6]

"Thousands of innocent lives have already been lost. Thousands upon thousands might yet die. I have sent as many of my men as I can spare to join the war effort. Asako has sent many of her people to tend the wounded. Will you do nothing?"

Shiba and Shinsei Edit

Shiba meets Shinsei

Shiba meets Shinsei

His divine nature separated Shiba from the mortals of Rokugan, but his desire to know them separated him from his brothers and sisters. His isolation grew more and more intense until the arrival of Shinsei, who understood Shiba. [11] When the Little Teacher met with Hantei, it was Shiba who was at hand to record their conversation. This transcription became known as the Tao of Shinsei. The original Tao had been greatly ravaged by time and hardship, but its burned and tattered remains rested in the libraries of Gisei Toshi. [12]

Shiba as a god considered all the deeds and words only the present, while for the mortals they would see as history, lessons learned. Shinsei transmited Shiba that he could not appreciate history, because Shiba would live forever. Through Shinsei, Shiba learned how the lives of the mortals were linked to the divine. Shiba became a devout follower of Shinsei. [13]

Shiba's Promise Edit

For further information on this section, please see Shiba kneels
Shiba Kneels

Shiba kneels to Isawa

As the Day of Thunder drew near, Shiba begged Shinsei to be allowed to accompany the monk into battle with Fu Leng. Shinsei refused, explaining to Shiba that mortal men must be the ones to defeat the Dark Kami. Shiba then approached Isawa, bidding him to go with Shinsei. Isawa refused, claiming he could not abandon his family to fight the Kami's war. The Kami Shiba knelt before the mortal Isawa and promised to protect his people in exchange for Isawa becoming the Phoenix Thunder. Isawa agreed and left with Shinsei that day. Shiba and Isawa were often depicted with Shiba kneeling, not out of disrespect for the Kami, but because the act was considered to be one of the most important and heroic in Phoenix history. Stubborn Phoenix children were often scolded, "Are you so tall that you cannot bend your knee as Shiba did?". [14]

The Eternal Phoenix Edit

Shiba enters the Shadowlands

Shiba enters the Shadowlands

Sometime after the departure of the Seven Thunders, Shiba was uneasy about the lack of news from the group, so he asked the Isawa to see what the kami could tell them. The Isawa determined that of the eight that set out, only two were living, and one of those barely. They could not determine which two were still alive, however. [15] Determined not to let Shinsei fall in the Shadowlands, where his wisdom might be corrupted, Shiba set out to find the two survivors and bring them safely back to Rokugan. [16]

"My life for the Phoenix and Rokugan!"

Shiba marched into the Shadowlands, found Shinsei and the severely wounded Shosuro about to be overwhelmed by an army of monstrosities led by the First Oni. Unwilling to let them die, Shiba drew Ofushikai and charged to their rescue. The Kami slew the oni, but not before it dealt Shiba a mortal blow as well. Shiba died of his wounds on the journey back to Otosan Uchi. [18] [17] The oni had infected Shiba with a poison he could not survive. [19]

Shiba had promised to always protect their children, but mortally wounded he sought Shinsei's wisdom to fulfill his promise after he was dead. [9]

Then find a way, Shiba
-Shinsei [9]

It was not the end for the Eternal Phoenix. Shiba's soul found an anchor in the mortal realm -- Ofushikai, his katana -- that allowed his spirit to remain in Ningen-do. The son of Shiba, Shiba Tsuzaki, left Shiro Shiba shortly after his father's death, claiming that Shiba was calling to him. When Tsuzaki returned in the year 43, there was an aged wisdom in his eyes and another presence behind his face. Tsuzaki pronounced "My father is dead, but he will live forever in his descendants." And through every successive Champion until Ofushikai was taken from them, he did. [20] [21]

After his death, Shiba came to realize that humanity was capable of far more than they realized, and told Asako all he had realized about the cosmos and mankind's place in them. This Gift of Shiba's became the Path of Man that the Asako Henshin follow to this day. [22]

See also Edit

External Links Edit

  • Shiba (Dawn Of the Empire)

Preceded by:
Phoenix Clan Champion
c.5 - 42
Succeeded by:
Shiba Tsuzaki


  1. 1.0 1.1 Dawn of the Empire, by Rich Wulf
  2. The Gaijin's Guide to Rokugan, Part I
  3. Imperial Histories, p. 11
  4. The Daughter, by Seth Mason
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Imperial Histories, p. 15
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Fires of the Phoenix, by Shawn Carman
  7. Way of the Phoenix, pp. 35-36
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Way of the Phoenix, pp. 38-39
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Immortal, by Rich Wulf
  10. Way of the Phoenix, p. 41
  11. Way of Shinsei, p. 43
  12. Way of the Phoenix, pp. 115-116
  13. Way of Shinsei, pp. 42-43
  14. Way of the Phoenix, p. 20
  15. Way of the Phoenix, p. 44
  16. Way of the Phoenix, p. 36
  17. 17.0 17.1 Day of Thunder
  18. The First Oni
  19. The Legion of Blood: Champion of Jigoku
  20. Way of the Phoenix, pp. 36-37
  21. Imperial Histories, p. 17
  22. Way of the Phoenix, pp. 6-7

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