Isawa Tsuke 
Isawa Tsuke 
Born: Unknown 
Died: 1128 
Siblings: Isawa Muchito 
Children: Isawa Hochiu 
Titles: Master of Fire

Isawa Tsuke was one of the most powerful Fire Tensai the Isawa family has seen. His mastery over his element led him to be not only the Master of Fire, but with the addition of his ruthless, bloodthirsty nature, Tsuke was also one of the most feared Emerald Magistrates to ever serve the Emperor. Tsuke's love of his power and lack of concern for his countrymen led him to be agreeable to Isawa Tadaka's plan to use the Black Scrolls to help the Phoenix Clan gain an edge during the Clan War. He became severely Tainted as a result, fully answering the Dark Lord's call. On the Second Day of Thunder, Tsuke fought with the armies of the corrupted Hantei XXXIX and was killed by Tadaka and Phoenix Clan Champion Shiba Ujimitsu after mortally wounding the pair.

Demeanor Edit

Isawa Tsuke was one of the most powerful shugenja ever to walk Rokugan. He held the power to single-handedly level buildings, destroy armies, and mete out justice to all of those he deemed, by his own authority, unworthy. Most considered Tsuke malicious and ruthless. Tsuke, however, believed himself to be an honorable but stern ruler, forced to take charge because no one else was as capable as he. [1]

Life of Isawa Tsuke Edit

Isawa Tsuke 6

Isawa Tsuke

Family Edit

He was cousin of Isawa Tomo and Isawa Tadaka [2] was brother to Isawa Muchito, [3] and had a son, Isawa Hochiu. [4]

Emerald Magistrate Edit

Tsuke used his power for many years in the direct service of the Emperor, serving in the Emerald Magistrates as the chief shugenja of the Emerald Champion. His time with the Guard gave him a broad grasp of military and political tactics. His ability to command troops in time of war was unquestioned. His time with the Guard also gave him a sizable reputation as a skilled duelist, despite his profession as a shugenja. [5]

Unfortunately for the image of the Phoenix Clan, his time there also spread his reputation as a ruthless, coldhearted despot. When Tsuke would be sent to deal with a bandit gang, his men would track down the bandits, hem them in, and Tsuke would handle the rest. The shugenja would stand back and rain fire upon the brigands from afar. One at a time, they would fall to the magical might of Isawa Tsuke until each lay scorched and unmoving. Tsuke would ignore all pleas of mercy from those whom he was targeting, giving them only a violent death. His only response would be, "Now they know the price of their actions." [5]

Obviously, while Tsuke was the chief shugenja of the land, there was very little bandit trouble.

Love Edit

Tsuke loved Moshi Jukio, the Centipede Clan's heir, who served with him severals years as Legionnaire. Juiko was older than Tsuke by ten years, and never returned his passion. [6]

Master of Fire Edit

Isawa Tsuke 2

Master Tsuke

Upon the death of Isawa Nesan, and with Dairya's banishment from the clan, Tsuke became Master of Fire. He would doubtlessly have liked to remain an enforcer of the Emperor's laws, but he recognized the need for him to lead his Clan as well. [citation needed]

Leader of the Council Edit

By 1120, Tsuke was the second-most experienced member of the Council, and though Isawa Ujina was longer-serving, his growing distraction by his illness left Tsuke largely in control of the Council. Though he led the Council and the Phoenix Clan with his usual resolve and tenacity, Tsuke truly despised his fellow Masters. Though he kept his opinions to himself, Tsuke considered them to be weak because of their pacifism. Moreover, following his years in service as an Emerald Magistrate, Tsuke believed that their reluctance to effect change in the Empire was a sign of disloyalty to the Imperial line. [7]

Winter Court - Kyuden Seppun Edit

In winter 1122-1123 Tsuke alongside Isawa Kaede attended winter court at Kyuden Seppun. The Isawa Woodlands had been invaded by Mujina, and the Phoenix were not able to get rid off them. Even two of the wretched beasts had followed them to the Imperial Court. Kaede sought the aid of the Crab, demanding experienced units who could stop mujina's constant pranks. The rivalry with the Acolyte of Void had grown over the years, as Kaede took more relevance as the sickness of her father the Master of Void Isawa Ujina had increased his seclusion. [8]

Scorpion Coup Edit

When news of the Scorpion Coup arrived to the Council they moved to join the rest of combined clan forces. On day six of the coup the Masters managed to temporarily suppress the Enchanted Wall, allowing the Great Clans to fight their way into the inner city, where the southern gate of the Forbidden Palace was then breached by the Masters. [9]

Clan War Edit

You can never avoid your destiny... only cheat it for a time.
-Isawa Tsuke
Isawa Tsuke 1

Isawa Tsuke

With the resignation of Isawa Ujina and the appointment of Isawa Kaede as Master of Void, [11] Tsuke became the most experienced member of the Council of Five, and firmly in control of the path of the Council. [12]

Corruption Edit

As the Council of Five continued their attempts to understand the Shadowlands and the dark influences spreading across the Empire they sent Isawa Tadaka into the Shadowlands to discover the source of the evil presence. He did not return for months. [13] [14]

Return of Tadaka Edit

In 1126 Tadaka returned, bringing one of the Black Scrolls he had stolen from Yogo Junzo's stronghold, as a tale of Yogo Junzo was marshaling an army to invade the Empire. The Masters sequestered themselves to study the four Black Scrolls in their possesion, to provide the knowledge to defeat the Shadowlands. Kaede refused to join them. [15]

Winter Court - 1126 Edit

Tsuke assisted to the Imperial winter court at Kyuden Asako, while the other masters did not. The Tsume Daimyo Doji Takashi and Matsu Morishigi argued about the convenience the Asahina Shugenja could move in with supplies treating the rampant Wasting Disease. Tsuke and his hatamoto Isawa Eizan stepped in, declaring their allegiance firmly on the side of the Crane. The Asako Daimyo Asako Togama and his student Asako Miyo stated the petty war did not concern the Phoenix. Shiba Ujimitsu showed favor to neither. [16]

Shadowed Kuni Edit

The Kuni Daimyo Kuni Yori unexpectedly appeared at court, and Tsuke dearly greeted him. Togama showed his dislike for the man who supposedly had brokered an alliance between the Crab and the Shadowlands. [17] Yori sought to ally with the powerful Master, but he was a bit overeager to accept. [18]

The Henshin Exposed Edit

Eizan, the abusive husband of the Shiba Tejina shugenja Isawa Hirofumi, [19] appeared murdered, and Miyo was accused. Yori came with Asako Oyo, an immortal Henshin, giving testimony that Hirofumi and Miyo were twin sisters, and both had devised a plan to kill Eizan. Using the Tejina magic they had interchanged their features, in order to cover the murderer Miyo. As both women denied the accusations, Oyo was put under custody of Tsuke for further testimony. Exposing the secrets of the Path of Man to the Isawa, Yori would create strife between the Isawa and Asako. [20] The Phoenix weakness would help the quest for power of Yori's Lord, Hida Kisada. Not only Oyo's appearance had been devised by Yori, he had also had summoned shiyokai, the dream demons, that drove the Phoenix twins to murder. [21]

Forbidden Knowledge Edit

Tsuke turned on the Wasp Clan and their leader Tsuruchi, as assistants in his search of the Black Scrolls held by the banished Scorpion Clan. [22]

Unsealing the Scrolls Edit

In 1127 Tadaka convinced the Council of Five to start unsealing the Black Scrolls demanding that their hidden secrets be unmasked. [23] Tadaka believed that the only way to halt the impending threat to the Empire was to understand it. And in order to understand it they had to open the Black Scrolls, to learn the dark knowledge contained within. The scrolls will bring the taint to those who read the scrolls, but with what they learn, they would gain the insight required to save the Empire. [24] They already had three of the scrolls since a traitor Scorpion sold them to the Phoenix in the 5th century. [25]

Tsuke opens the Touch of Despair

Tsuke opens the Touch of Despair

Along with the other Masters, Isawa Tsuke fell prey to the Black Scrolls, taking in their evil power in order to better understand their enemy. He was the first of the Elemental Masters to open a Black Scroll. [12] Tsuke opened the Touch of Despair. [26] Isawa Uona, who had opened the Dark Divination Black Scroll, realized that the Second Day of Thunder was coming, and that the new Seven Thunders had to be gathered. [24] The Taint greatly amplified Tsuke's powers, and he began roaming Rokugan, destroying the forces of the Shadowlands wherever he could find them. The power came with a great price, however, as he could not resist the Taint forever. [27] Tsuke slipped the corruption of the Masters during a series of heated conversations with Togashi Yama. [28]

Madness Edit

In the Month of the Goat of 1128 Tsuke had fallen to the point that he was nothing but a Tainted madman. [29] For some time before, instead of wandering Rokugan striking down the forces of the Shadowlands, he wandered striking down his kinsmen from the Phoenix Clan. He was completely in the thrall of Hantei XXXIX, who had become the vessel of Fu Leng. When the final battle came to end the Clan War, Tsuke fought on the side of the Dark Lord, raining fire on the armies of Rokugan and slaying those he could. [30] He began his murdering in Kyuden Isawa, [4] and quickly moved to the Imperial City alongside Isawa Tomo. The Phoenix force was intercepted by a Dragon-Naga army led by Mirumoto Daini, but the Phoenix hurled elemental energies at the enemy, immolating many of them before they could become engaged. Tsuke and Tomo survived to journey on to Otosan Uchi, where they would aid in its defense. [31]

Death Edit

Isawa Tsuke 4

Insane Isawa Tsuke

In the Second Day of Thunder upon the South Wall, Tsuke fully succumbed to the Taint, killing his fellow Masters Uona and Tomo. [32] Tadaka and Shiba Ujimitsu found the maddened Master and were determined to stop him. During the ensuing fight, Tsuke threw Ujimitsu from the ramparts of Otosan Uchi, killing him as he hit the ground far below, and mortally wounded Tadaka, then revealed to be the Phoenix Clan Thunder. Their sacrifice was not futile, however, because the pair also managed to mortally wound Tsuke. The Master of Fire mortally fell as their fight waned, leaving Isawa Osugi to help Tadaka walk to the other Thunders and finish his duties as a Thunder before he also perished. [33]

Purified Edit

Tadaka and Acolyte of Water Suana found Tsuke yet alive despite his injuries and fall from the walls. The monk purified Tsuke with powerful kiho, and Tadaka forgave his fallen comrade for his madness. [32]

After DeathEdit

As Tsuke died, Tadaka whispered over his former comrade's body. He forgave the dark Master of Fire, and wished that his tormented spirit would find peace. The fields of Yomi were also unknown to him for decades Tsuke's spirit had wandered the realms between, seeking a chance at final redemption or final damnation. [12]

Legion of the Dead Edit

Decades after his death, Isawa Tsuke joined the Legion of the Dead in 1166, following Goemon's call, to fight against the Legion of Blood. In the first fight with them Tsuke released a massive explosion intending to stop the First Oni, but it also disrupted the realm and knocked everyone in it into private memories of critical choices in their lives. The realm was testing each of them, to see if they would embrace their destines or reject them. The realm could become a place where those who failed their destinies could repeat their failures for eternity or a place where those who failed could embrace their fates and find redemption. [34]

Lost in the Mists of the new Realm Edit

In the Realm of Thwarted Destiny, he was faced with his actions on the Second Day of Thunder. He again made the choice of killing his kinsmen and the Masters. He was found by Isawa Tadaka once again, and attempted to battle him once more, though Tadaka refused to fight the again-fallen Master. Upon realizing Tadaka's forgiveness, Tsuke was overcome with grief and fled into the mists of the Realm. Tadaka offered a prayer for the eventual salvation of his old friend, but Tsuke's fate since then is unknown. [35]

Writings Edit

In 1170 the Phoenix found the Isawa Tsuke's Journal in the wreckage of the Inferno. [36]

A Thousand Years of Darkness Edit

Isawa Tsuke (KYD)

Undead Isawa Tsuke

In the nightmare world where the Seven Thunders failed to succeed in defeating Fu Leng on the Second Day of Thunder, Tsuke's fate became very, very different. After defeating the Thunders, Fu Leng slaughtered the Thunder's armies. [37]

See also Edit

External Links Edit

Preceded by:
Isawa Nesan
Master of Fire
(c. 1106) - 1128
Succeeded by:
Isawa Hochiu

Sources Conflict
The sources relating to this article are in conflict with each other.
The bio in Way of the Phoenix describes Tsuke as having been in the Imperial Guard, but describes his duties as those of an Emerald Magistrate. It is being assumed for the purpose of this article that the biography was using the terms interchangably.


  1. Way of the Phoenix, p. 78
  2. Unattuned (Time of the Void flavor)
  3. Secrets of the Phoenix, p. 38
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Storming of Morikage Castle, Part 3, by Ree Soesbee
  5. 5.0 5.1 Way of the Phoenix, p. 79
  6. Way of the Minor Clans, p. 77
  7. Way of the Phoenix, pp. 78-79
  8. Winter Court: Kyuden Seppun, pp. 84-85
  9. Otosan Uchi: The Scorpion's Sting, p. 49
  10. Voices: The Final Days of Oblivion's Gate
  11. Way of the Phoenix, p. 83
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 The Legion of the Dead: The Fallen Master
  13. The Gaijin's Guide to Rokugan - Part 4: Distant Thunder
  14. Clan Letter to the Phoenix #1 (Imperial Herald v1 #1)
  15. Time of the Void, p. 8
  16. Winter Court:Kyuden Asako, pp. 8-9
  17. Winter Court:Kyuden Asako, pp. 14-16
  18. Winter Court:Kyuden Asako, p. 62
  19. Winter Court:Kyuden Asako, p. 78
  20. Winter Court:Kyuden Asako, pp. 48-50
  21. Winter Court:Kyuden Asako, pp. 62-64
  22. Coils of Madness, by Robert Denton, Yoon Ha Lee, Seth Mason, & Brian Yoon
  23. Time of the Void, p. 12
  24. 24.0 24.1 Siege: Clan War (Rulebook story)
  25. Way of the Scorpion, p. 55
  26. Touch of Despair (Siege: Clan War flavor)
  27. Phoenix Clan letter #4
  28. Time of the Void, p. 35
  29. Time of the Void, pp. 76-77
  30. "Legend of the Five Rings History", (Imperial Herald #15)
  31. Clan War: Ravages of War, pp. 52-54
  32. 32.0 32.1 Time of the Void, p. 103
  33. The Last Master
  34. Legions, Part III, by Shawn Carman and Rich Wulf
  35. Legions, Part VI
  36. In Search of the Inferno, by Brian Yoon
  37. There Is No Hope

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