About Isawa Ayoshi
“The Last Yojimbo is gone, now that a Qin fell while under our sworn protection.
The boy gardener climbed with difficulty, but finally reached the top of the rock. From there he could see the immense, beautiful garden of white lilies he cared for his entire short life. The wind on the Minata islands was cold, that day, and the usual shadows lurked everywhere his eyes wouldn’t dare to focus. The skies were cloudy, yet he could clearly see the small group of people taking positions near the big plum tree.
They were the Isawa, the family he served. Two men were facing themselves – Mayaro, Lord of the house, a middle-aged Yojimbo with a bright shaved head ending in a long ponytail, and his younger brother, Bokuro: a mysterious Ronin who traveled the world after being banned from those lands. He was a taller and stronger man, with cold eyes and a fierce expression of hatred. Bokuro had just killed Lady Qin Chi, a rich courtier of the powerful Qin noble family, apparently under some sort of dark contract, and now Mayaro – which had sworn his daisho to protect Chi, and failed – had to face his brother in the bloody Iaijutsu duel.
With them, some steps behind and closer to the tree, the gardener could see also Jun, son and heir of Mayaro. Jun was just slightly older than him, but they never really played together. Jun was now a teenager and clearly already on the way to follow his father’s steps. He had a grim expression on his face, staring at his uncle Bokuro with the hatred his naivety would allow him. He had no business being there, maybe, and yet maybe he had all the reasons in the world to witness the duel.
Finally, completing the family, was Lady Shungoo. The old woman was the matriarch of the family; madam of all secrets and screamer of prophecies. She was the one who pushed for the duel between her sons, instead of allowing Bokuro to be simply executed by the local authorities. She argued that this was the path of the prophecy of the Hornets; she didn’t give any details, just saying that the last man standing that day would be the final Harbinger of the House. Shungoo was well respected enough to have it her way; she was, also, the only one from them which still had all the physical traits of the family.
Because besides the grey of her hair, the two little red horns were clear. The wrinkles on her face couldn’t hide the fact her eyes were of a dark red that could resemble a brown, and her old curved hands had clearly been sharp as claws in the past. She didn’t have any of her teeth anymore, but the few who saw her decades ago would swear her canines were elongated and equally sharp. She was a tiefling – as all those members of the family – and their legacy was to live isolate on these islands, even if Mayaro lived in Changdo for the past decades while doing his sworn duty.
It took a long, long time for things to start, but mere seconds to end. Both men were skilled and cross their katanas with agility and technique, but after a quick while Mayaro’s health got to him; he coughed, and on such small opening Bokuro, the accursed Ronin, made his sword find his brother’s heart. As his father’s eyes closed in a brief moment of pain, Jun screamed and ran towards the duel. He couldn’t believe his father was dying; he couldn’t believe his dishonorable uncle was to be the Harbinger of his grandmother’s prophecies.
The young man jumped with supernatural speed, pulling his father’s wakizashi on the split moment his feet touched the ground. He kept the momentum and dashed towards his uncle, which was already sheathing his katana. Bokuro dodged with ease and draw the weapon back. At this point, the boy gardener couldn’t breathe – his own heart seemed to have stopped. The Ronin was dishonorable but skilled, a master assassin with the cool attitude of a reluctant hero. It was true that nothing he has done had been heroic, though, and now maybe no one knew what was about to happen.
Jun turned around and blocked his uncle’s katana with haste. His eyes were full of tears – like the tears of Jade that brought back Tsukiyo, Prince of the Moon – but he was still able to frantically stare at his uncle while yelling and swinging the light weapon. At this point Bokuro was mostly avoiding the strikes, but he would eventually counter-attack with his much longer and dangerous katana. It was just a matter of time before this duel would be over, and it didn’t seem to be quite fair or balanced.
The unimaginable happened. Because Bokuro wasn’t the Harbinger of the prophecies, neither the mysterious hero. He was, in truth, a man who sold his honor for coins and disgraced his family. Under the mantle of coolness he tried to project, it was just a broken soul filled with envy for his brother, who had married the woman he wanted and lived the life he wanted. In his core, seeing he had finally bested Mayaro, he let his pride show and underestimated the angry teenager in front of him, and it was on that point in time that Jun lunged, letting his young body be almost cut in half by his uncle’s katana, to reach for the killer’s neck.
Jun fell to the ground with his eyes wide opened, and his blood quick dyed the white lilies with the scarlet bright drops of his youngness. His uncle took much longer to fall; with the wakizashi of his brother stuck on his neck, he could find time to hate again as his last words were being stolen directly from his perforated throat. The entire family was dying at that point. There had been no space for reconciliation – Bokuro was falling as the unforgiven, as Mayaro fell as the last Yojimbo of the Isawa, as even Jun fell to his youngster vengeance.
By the tree, with sorrow eyes that seemed finally in peace, there stayed Lady Shungoo the entire time. She stepped out of the shadow and for moments seemed to mourn his sons and grandson deaths in solemn silence, until finally she gestured calling the boy gardener. His young head was still trying to process everything he had witnessed, but somehow he felt this was still the moment of truth. He walked in shy steps towards the old tiefling, who was now kneeled near the bodies in some sort of prayer. When she stood up, she had the sword of Bokuro by her hands, and the boy could see she was cleaning its blood on the petals of the beautiful white lilies.
The truth is, many times, a lot more mysterious and harsh than expected. Ayoshi, the young boy gardener, was also an Isawa – a bastard. Son of Bakuro and Xin, Mayaro’s wife, forced against her will. Ayoshi is the reason Bakuro was banned, yet the now deceased Ronin never met him. Mayaro couldn’t get himself to adopt the kid as his own son, but for the love of his wife and his honor he raised the boy always near his wings, as a gardener on the lands. And, now, the matriarch Shungoo revealed him the entire truth, and how the family dies with him.
Lady Shungoo gave him the family name without being contested by the nearby folksmen and raised him as the grandson he always was. While her main interests were to teach him the stories and arts, how to raise the garden and how to draw the letters of calligraphy – yet, the sword was also part of him, and the years – together with the arcane power running in his tiefling veins – made him a Kensai. For all the rest of her long life she was his sensei, his teacher, but especially she was his loving grandmother.
When she passed, he traveled the world, serving as a guide on the Darklands - used to the life in Minata and all the Wayang population, the shadows were almost peaceful for him. It was around a decade later that Ayoshi finally approached the Eternal City for the first time, decided to finally face his destiny. He was a grown man, a trained swordsman, but he still portrayed himself more as a humble gardener and scribe. Trained to draw beautiful glyphs – which also adorned his short, well hidden, spellbook – the young reformer had some of the contacts of his family to help him navigate through the noble courts and meet the richest families. He would never be a Yojimbo, like his uncle, and would spite at the thought of being a dishonorable Ronin like his father, but he was engaged to dedicate his life to break a broken system that forced his family into ostracism.
For as the gongs of the city could be heard from far, he remembered his grandmother and the final prophecy he, as the Harbinger, had to carry. For on his grim path he wasn’t born to be a hero or a savior, but to steer the traditions of Po Li: a new ruler for the Eternal Empire had been born already, but not under the eyes of the Oracular Council, and Ayoshi was to find him – or her – and announce the true owner of the Throne… Even if it costed his life, even if it costed the final moments of his family.
Isawa Ayoshi is the last of a small family with a long tradition of Yojimbos. Born and raised in the Minata islands, the young tiefling was a bastard son, disgraced by his father's actions, and eventually his destiny manifested to him in the form of the Prophecy of the Hornets that he's supposed to fulfill. Given the moniker of the Final Harbinger, Ayoshi trained his entire childhood to seek such events until he became a skilled Kensai.
Travelling the world to hone his abilities and learn more about the secrets he has to uncover, he finally headed back to the Eternal City after a decade. His prophecy said he wasn't supposed to be the hero of the Empire, but the one to announce the true, new Eternal Emperor who was born outside the eyes of the Oracular Council. And, now, the Harbinger was in the path to find this truly special person, using the contacts of his grandmother to claw for a space on the traditional courts of Po Li.
Appearance and Behavior:
Ayoshi isn't a handsome young man; he's ugly, with scars on his neck and arms, badly groomed and hands full of blisters of a life of hardworking as a gardener. His fair skin seems constantly dirty by soil, and his pitch black hair is an intrinsic net of earth and plants. While his humble origins are clear, though, the same can't be said of his true race; he is a tiefling but with no signs of his ancestry, looking more like a plain man of the lily fields.
In top of it, he's very shy and contemplative. He keeps his silence but is fiercely loyal to his friends and companions, especially if their paths are aligned. The obsession with his prophecy allied with the mistreats of the life of a lowborn made him paranoid - even more if someone knows of his demonic lineage. In most cases, though, it's assumed that the last Isawa died decades ago, and besides the oldest of the Qin or elders of Minata, probably no one ever heard about them.
Ayoshi carries artisan's tools (for calligraphy), his spellbook and weapons with him, but conceals them most of the time. His Yojimbo uncle's katana was a masterful work of art, but it's kept buried on the forgotten family lands in Minata. The Harbinger uses the katana of his father, a not so well forged item that the Ronin himself carried for decades without much care.
Traditionally his family worships Yaezhing, but Ayoshi fell so far from this tree that he's more of an Atheist, and not evil at all - in fact, he's not even lawful, either, or chaotic. Isawa is all about balance, and True Neutral is what best represents his morale and behavior.
Male tiefling magus (kensai) 1/harbinger 1/gestalt 1 (Path of War Expanded 7, Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 264, Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Combat 55, Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Magic 9)
N Medium outsider (native)
Init +6; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +1
AC 21, touch 15, flat-footed 16 (+4 armor, +4 Dex, +1 dodge, +2 natural)
hp 10 (1d8+2)
Fort +3, Ref +4, Will +3; +2 bonus vs. traps and hazards while underground
Defensive Abilities canny defense +1; Resist cold 5, electricity 5, fire 5
Speed 40 ft., ill tidings 10 ft.
Melee katana +7 (1d10+2/18-20) or
. . unarmed strike +4 (1d3+2 nonlethal) or
. . wushu dart +4 (1d3+2)
Ranged wushu dart +6 (1d3+2)
Special Attacks 1 minute hand, 1 red zephyr's strike, 1 scarlet einhander, 1 scything strike, accursed will (attack rolls), arcane pool (+1, 5 points), spell combat
Magus (Kensai) Spells Prepared (CL 1st; concentration +5)
. . 1st—shocking grasp
. . 0 (at will)—detect magic, read magic
Str 14, Dex 18, Con 12, Int 18, Wis 12, Cha 5
Base Atk +0; CMB +4; CMD 17
Feats Armor Of The Pit[ARG], Daisho Expertise, Weapon Focus (katana)
Traits gifted adept (shocking grasp), wayang spell hunter (shocking grasp), young reformer
Skills Acrobatics +6 (+10 to jump), Bluff +3, Craft (calligraphy) +10, Disable Device +5, Knowledge (arcana) +8, Knowledge (local) +9, Profession (gardener) +5, Spellcraft +8, Stealth +8, Survival +5; Racial Modifiers +2 Bluff, +2 Stealth
Languages Abyssal, Draconic, Elven, Infernal, Tien
SQ chosen weapon, dark claim, darklands guide, paranoid, pass for human
Other Gear chain shirt, katana[UC], wushu dart[UC] (8), wushu dart[UC], wushu dart[UC], backpack, bandolier[UE], flint and steel, ink, inkpen, masterwork calligraphy tools, soap, spell component pouch, spellbook, trail rations (5), waterskin, wrist sheath, spring loaded, wrist sheath, spring loaded, 3 gp, 7 sp
1 Minute Hand (Readied, 1/Encounter) (Su) - 0/1
1 Red Zephyr's Strike (Readied, 1/Encounter) (Ex) - 0/1
1 Scything Strike (Readied, 1/Encounter) (Ex) - 0/1
Arcane Pool +1 (5/day) (Su) - 0/5
Trail rations - 0/5
Wushu dart - 0/10
1 Minute Hand (Readied, 1/Encounter) (Su) Swift-action attack with -2 to hit, +2 damage
1 Red Zephyr's Strike (Readied, 1/Encounter) (Ex) Strike: Make a melee attack, then make an immediate 10ft movement.
1 Scarlet Einhander (Ex) Stance - +2 shield bonus to AC and +1d6 damage on attacks when fighting with one weapon.
1 Scything Strike (Readied, 1/Encounter) (Ex) Strike: Make a melee attack on two adjacent enemies as a single attack.
Accursed Will (Attack Rolls) (Ex) Add 1/2 your INT bonus to attack rolls as an insight bonus.
Arcane Pool +1 (5/day) (Su) Infuse own power into a held weapon, granting enhancement bonus or selected item powers.
Canny Defense +1 (Ex) +INT bonus to AC (max Kensai level).
Chosen Weapon (Katana) Kensai abilities only function when wielding a weapon of this type.
Daisho Expertise Use Dex instead of Str on attack rolls with katanas and wakizashi, and increase their damage dice.
Dark Claim (4 creatures, 1 rounds, 25 Feet) (Su) Claim a creature to know its position and use other Harbinger abilities against it
Darklands Guide +2 to saves vs. traps and hazards while underground.
Darkvision (60 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white only).
Energy Resistance, Cold (5) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Cold attacks.
Energy Resistance, Electricity (5) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Electricity attacks.
Energy Resistance, Fire (5) You have the specified Energy Resistance against Fire attacks.
Ill tidings (10 feet) +10 ft to speed, additional +10 ft at 10th level
Paranoid Aid Another DC 15 for attempts to help you.
Pass for Human You can pass for human, and count as a humanoid (human) for all purposes.
Spell Combat (Ex) Use a weapon with one hand at -2 and cast a spell with the other.
Young Reformer Perhaps you were born at the bottom of Po Lian society and you’re tired of seeing your friends and family toil endlessly with no hope of a better life, or maybe your privileged outlook was shattered by empathy or tragedy. Either way, you know the system is broken, and you’ve dedicated your life to fixing it. But tradition rules Po Li as much as any Gong, and change requires more influence than you have… so far. You’ve got a few friends and allies, and plenty of determination, but while you work toward the power you need to change the nation, you’ll have to resort to more discrete ways of righting wrongs and curbing the abuses of the upper class. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Disable Device and Knowledge (local) checks, and one of these skills is always a class skill for you. Once per day, you can call upon your co-conspirators to have “made arrangements” on your behalf, allowing you to attempt a Knowledge (local) check in place of a single Bluff, Disable Device, Intimidate, or Sleight of Hand check. The DC of this Knowledge (local) check is equal to the DC of the skill check it replaces. Whatever arrangements you make—for doors left unlocked, guards strong-armed out of your way, stolen keys left for you to find—must be reasonable to have anticipated and achieved beforehand; you could arrange to have a noble convinced you’re a very important diplomat traveling in disguise, for example, but if a fight breaks out you could not rely on your network of contacts to feint for you in combat. You don’t have to use this ability in advance; you can announce its use as you encounter a challenge, implying you foresaw this challenge and made arrangements prior to your arrival.