Adelaide Jade Regent
Hirabashi Jiro was born in the imperial capital of Kasai and raised among the retinue of the governor of Kasai. His father Hito was a well-respected samurai in the governor’s service, and Jiro was trained as a samurai himself. As a second son, Jiro was also trained as his elder brother Ichiro’s adjutant. Overcoming the envy that a second son’s position entails was Jiro’s first challenge as a youth, but he eventually took a philosophical view of his position, realizing that less responsibility meant more freedom.
During his early years as a samurai, Jiro fought under the command of Sikutsu Sennaka, where he witnessed firsthand the daimyo’s legendary cruelty. In his idle time, Jiro cultivated a love for history, spending many hours in the library of Kasai and researching the few historical facts about his most famous ancestor, Hirabashi Akikaza, and her supposedly unbreakable adamantine sword, said to be hidden in the lost armory of Seinaru Heikiko.
When the Jade Regent assumed control of Minkai in the name of the emperor Higashiyama Shigure and the simmering strife in the capital exploded into bloody conflict between Jiro’s new master, the governor of Kasai, and the Higashiyama clan, Jiro found himself on the losing side. After the death of their lord, the three Hirabashis—Hito, Ichiro, and Jiro—had to fight for their lives, as did many samurai in Kasai. Hito and Ichiro were slain, but Jiro barely managed to escape, thanks to the sacrifice of his father and brother.
Following the massacre, Jiro was forced to flee the capital. A wanted man without a lord, he became a ronin. To escape the vendetta of Jade Regent and the Higashiyama clan, Jiro lived in hiding until amnesty was granted to those samurai who had fought for the governor. This declaration gave Jiro back his freedom, but not his status as a samurai. Instead of returning to Kasai, Jiro decided to move farther north to the Osogen Grasslands, where he met Habesuta Hatsue, a wandering sohei. Together, the two have raised and trained a small militia of peasants, training them with bow and spear. This close-knit group has built a semipermanent camp in a boggy area in southern Osogen, and works to defend the settlers of the Borderlands from the violence of barbarian bandits.
Jiro is a man in his early thirties. He is of average height, and his head is shaved except for the traditional samurai topknot that he wears long, in the northern style. Although a scion of a noble clan, his existence as an exile and a ronin means that he is seldom clean-shaven or well groomed. Jiro tends to be grouchy and sulky, but balances this with a sharp humor. A skilled shogi player, Jiro enjoys the strategy of the game, but he does not possess the innate talent and love of the game that his friend Hatsue displays.
Jiro carries a wakizashi and a wooden practice sword, or bokken, which he uses in place of a steel sword. Jiro’s own katana was broken the day he fell from samurai status, and both his father’s and brother’s swords were lost when they died; since then, the ronin has been unable (or unwilling) to save enough money to buy a new katana. He has become quite skilled with the wooden sword, wielding it in concert with his wakizashi, and he refuses to even borrow another sword. Instead, he searches southern Osogen for the lost fortress of Seinaru Heikiko, where he hopes to find and reclaim the sword of his ancestor Hirabashi Akikaza. Jiro’s most treasured possession and his one link to his family’s past is his bow, the daikyu of commanding presence. Originally an ancestral weapon of the Higashiyama family, the bow was given to Jiro’s great-grandfather by the Higashiyama emperor almost 100 years ago, when Jiro’s great grandfather saved the emperor’s life. The bow has been handed down among the Hirabashis since that time, and only the return of his family’s own ancestral katana would convince Jiro to
part with it.