The empire of Udai has seen many battles. While there have been several rebellions within the empire, there have been no instances of what would be called a civil war. Most of Udai’s conflicts have been with foreign nations, almost always on the defensive. Udai is a land rich with natural resources, and others have often envied them of these things. Through every conflict of the last thousand years, one thing has become clear: you cannot win a land war with Udai.
There are several reasons for this. Udai is the largest nation by land mass, with a population to match. Udai also hosts what is widely considered to be the most disciplined military force of any nation. In the nation of Udai, there are thirty noble houses. Twelve hold the position of government authority. The other eighteen houses, called the Ju Hachi, comprise the warrior caste of the empire. While there are many roles members of the Ju Hachi can occupy in the empire, from magistrates to land barons known as daimyos, all of them spend at least a portion of their lives as warriors. The Ju Hachi warriors are known as Bushido.
The Bushido are trained from birth in the arts of war. Swordsmanship, archery, martial arts, and discipline of the mind are all studied, with especial focus on protecting the empire from all threats, foreign and domestic. Every being born into the houses of the Ju Hachi go through this training. When they have reached their twenty first year, they are given the choice to leave the Bushido to pursue other life aspirations, or to continue in their service. Very few ever choose to leave.
To be Bushido means more than being a skilled warrior in the techniques of weapons. It means also to be educated in the high arts of magic. While not all Bushido are spell casters, it is required training in their primary education to understand spell casting; this serves two purposes. One, to enable them to use these abilities with greater affect, and two, so they may better understand how to counter spells when they face them in combat.
It is possible to become Bushido if you are not born of the Ju Hachi houses. However, it is rare. For a person to join the Bushido, they must be chosen by the lord or lady of either a Ruling house or Ju Hachi house. To even be considered to become Bushido, a being must be of superior skill in combat, and have proven their worth to the empire in battle.
The first foreign war for Udai was in the year 300 FE. The nation of Mul Debbon, occupying north eastern Filenfoe, began to push their boundaries into the farmlands of western Udai. The war chieftan of the Debbonese forces, Ashtun Voicethunder, believed his god had called him to lay claim to the land. At first, he armies found little resistance. The local rulers and peasants paid him no mind as his armies entered their villages and erected the Debbonese flag over the following year. He established his hold in the town of Oshu, in the western prefecture of Kessho. One night, in the year 301 FE, Ashtun received an envoy from the empire. They informed him that if his did not leave willingly within ten days, he and his armies would be utterly destroyed. Ashtun ignored the message.
On the morning of the eleventh day, the Debbonese forces awoke to the combined force of the Ju Hachi aligned under their banners on the fields of Oshu. Ashtun Voicethunder believed his warriors could handle what he saw; they wore little to no armor, and carried no shields. He also mistakenly believed they had no magicians with them. And he, believing his tonsure of Elkenhammers would be protected by their god, stood his ground. A Bushido came forward from among the ranks of the Ju Hachi. His name was Shujin Kizoku, the commander of all the Ju Hachi in those days.
According to the legend of the Battle of Oshu, Shujin let out a shout that defeaned the Debbonese warriors. He said only two words: “No Mercy.” The following battle lasted only twenty minutes. There were no prisoners taken. Over the course of the next year, Shujin lead the campaign to reclaim the lands of the empire. The remaining Debbonese fought vigorously, but even their mighty Elkenhammers could not withstand the battle; their spells died on their lips, caught in the suppression mastery of the Ju Hachi Bushido. By 302 FE, the occupying forces of the Debbonese were completely annihilated.
The Ju Hachi Bushido are not only fearsome warriors. They act as peacekeepers in Udai, sustaining the empire and dealing justice swiftly in the open. Bushido live by a warriors code, focused on dealing honorably with the citizens of the empire, mastering their emotions, and strengthening their minds. Most Bushido also practice meditative arts, such as origami, poetry, or music. These pursuits give them perspective in their duty; that while they are warriors, peace is the goal. Even during times of conflict, Bushido maintain inner peace through their meditative arts.
Bushido trace their heritage in Udai back even before the first emperor Zhi Tsan established feudal rule. In the early days, when the region was still known by its scarg name of Secuba, the land was covered in roving warbands of men. They fed themselves on the spoils of honest and hard working folk. To ensure the safety of the people, the towns and villages united themselves into kingdoms, and established the hierarchal caste system which still exists today in modern Udai. The peasant caste provided the labor of their hands, the warrior caste defended the kingdom, and the ruling class managed the important issues of law, border safety, and the judicial system.
The twelve ruling houses also retain Bushido in their service. Frequently these Bushido hail from the Ju Hachi houses, but they can also be held under the name of the ruling house who retains them. House Zhu has many Bushido retainers in their service, as well as five Ju Hachi houses who are pledged to them. House Wei also retains a number of Bushido, while having four Ju Hachi houses pledged to their service. The other ruling houses also keep Bushido retainers, and share the remaining unpledged Ju Hachi among them.
Bushido can specialize in any number of martial weapons. The bow, the sword, the spear, and many other weapons are used by the Bushido of Udai. Their minds and spell craft are as keen as their blades, and they serve their empire with a singleness of mind. Through generations, the Bushido have protected the empire from all its foes, and those who would seek to destroy it from within. The Bushido are sworn the protectors of Udai, and are one of the most fearsome societies of all Alteris. So if you find yourself in the empire, be on your best behavior. Otherwise, you could easily end up on the wrong side of a Bushido blade.