Kanshigumi: The Ivory Lotus
"Action without Purpose is a sin. The reverse is also true." -The Diamond Sutra of the Tao of Shinsei
Ikoma Tonogawa’s appearance can best be described as “disheveled.” His red-brown hair is longer than is fashionable and Tonogawa rarely bothers with any further styling of it than to tie the bulk of it in a ponytail. His clothing and possessions are simple, but clearly of good quality. A pair of scars criss-cross on his right cheek. His demeanor does little to dispel the impression his appearance gives – he uses inappropriate familiarity when speaking and his posture generally suggests someone who would rather lie down than sit or stand.
Ikoma Tonogawa is the second son of Ikoma Tendo, governor of the City of the Rich Frog. Tendo’s family is one of the wealthiest and most powerful family lines in the Lion Clan, with Tendo himself seen as a possible heir to the Ikoma Daimyo in the event no direct descendent is available. Tonogawa was raised to want for nothing, but his father and Yasuki-born mother were not about to allow the him or his brother to become “spoiled Crane children.” Both of them were raised in a strict and demanding household. Tonogawa’s older brother was groomed to take over the governorship, while Tonogawa was expected to become an Omoidasu. As was standard practice, Tonogawa was given the lineages of four different families and told he would need to be able to recite two of them at the spring festival of his 7th year to be accepted into the famed schools for Ikoma bards. The boy threw himself into his study, reciting name after name. His father called on the finest sensei to help the boy. For the week prior, Tonogawa would recite the lineages for his mother and father, to ensure that nothing would go wrong. The day of the festival, the seven-year-old stood before his parents, the Ikoma daimyo, and the assembled members of the court.
It was an unqualified disaster. Not only did the boy confuse several names in a line of prominent Matsus, he mistakenly traced his own family line back through his mother’s Yasuki predecessors. Exploding in rage, Tonogawa’s father beat him savagely in front of the assembled host, only stopping when his mother threw herself between them. The boy was taken away, though no shugenja were allowed to attend to him. That night, a violent row went up between Tonogawa’s parents, only ceasing when the Ikoma daimyo intervened. Most Ikoma presume that the result of that argument led to the protected position that Tonogawa has occupied since that day.
As soon as he could walk again, Tonogawa was sent for study at Honor’s Sacrifice Dojo. The City of Honor’s Sacrifice is one of the seedier cities in the Empire, and certainly the seediest in the lands of the Lion. Since Tonogawa had failed to memorize the lineages, he was forbidden to study to become an Omoidasu. He therefore joined the dwindling school of the Ikoma Tacticians, who had stood in for the Akodo family during their long exile, but were now viewed as somewhat redundant. It was, perhaps, hoped that the boy would prove passable and take up a staff officer position somewhere. While he proved to be a capable student and a talented swordsman, he also demonstrated a decided lack of discipline. Sensei and fellow students would have to retrieve him from tea houses and no amount of extra duties or corporal punishments seemed to break his rebellious streak. He barely graduated and his parents did not attend his gempukku ceremony.
They did, it is presumed, exercise their influence to get him an appointment as a yoriki in the Lion District of Toshi Ranbo. They have also, likely due to whatever agreement was reached when he was seven, shielded him from the worst of punishments, despite a decidedly lackluster record of performance. Tonogawa, for his part, has used his new position and his family’s wealth, to cut a swath through the tea houses and bordellos of the Imperial capital. When not engaged in debauchery, he divides his time between periodically bullying obvious criminals and ruining the reputation of samurai-ko not yet aware of his reputation. His superiors grumble that, while his service is less than stellar, he has not, as of yet, done anything to merit a more permanent solution. They also believe that such an outcome is only a matter of time.
This may be why the Lion decided to foist the troublemaker onto the Seppun’s new pet police force, the Kanshigumi. At least there he is unlikely to do too much harm to Lion fortunes.