The Shadow Above
The mere existence of the Mantis Clan as a Great Clan of Rokugan gives credence to the words of Shinsei: “Fortune favors the mortal man.” The Mantis were born from Hida Kaimetsu-Uo, son of Hida Osano-Wo and a Matsu woman.
Kaimetsu-Uo was not chosen as his father’s heir, and so carved a land of his own out of the Islands of Silk and Spice off the Empire’s coast. There he and his followers became the Empire’s first Minor Clan (although their claim to be the first would be contested by the Fox Clan). Centuries later during the Clan War, the Mantis played an essential role in defending the Empire from the Shadowlands, and when the Clan Champion Yoritomo demanded the right to stand among the Great Clan Champions as an equal, they granted him that right, later reinforced by Imperial decree. Since that time, the Mantis have struggled to prove to everyone, including perhaps themselves, that they are truly worthy of the mantle of a Great Clan, and to fulfill their duty of patrolling the seas of Rokugan with their vast fleet of kobune (ships).
The samurai who serve the Mantis Clan are extremely diverse in their philosophies, due primarily to each individual family having once comprised a separate Minor Clan before their consolidation into the Mantis Clan. Generally, however, most subscribe to the philosophies of the Yoritomo family, either out of loyalty or duty – or at least appear to do so. The Mantis, for the most part, believe destiny is theirs for the taking.
The very fact that the clan has ascended to the ranks of the Great Clans is proof in their minds that this is a valid belief, and they see no reason to stop. There is no obstacle that cannot be overcome, no enemy that cannot be defeated, and no goal that cannot be achieved. A Mantis enemy is a deadly thing simply because he will never stop trying to defeat you until he wins or dies – in which case his brothers will take up the quest in his place.
The Yoritomo are the unquestioned masters of the Mantis Clan, and a more self-assured and ambitious family would be difficult to find. Some believe their outrageous behavior is a result of self-doubt, stemming from the fact that they are the only ruling family without a Kami of their own to call their progenitor. Of course, saying such to one of them would result in explosive anger at the very least. The Tsuruchi, perhaps the greatest archers in the Empire, are quiet and resourceful, while the Moshi are more conservative and find the behavior of their comrades something of an embarrassment. Their loyalty and devotion to the Tao is unquestionable, however.
Very recently, the Kitsune became the fourth family to join the clan, and serve the Yoritomo as scouts and priests, matching their unique talents with the Moshi in that regard.
No clan has holdings as diverse and scattered as the Mantis Clan. Their primary holding is the island chain known as the Islands of Silk and Spice, southeast of the Empire. The Yoritomo have held these islands for centuries, and reaped the reward of their exotic plants, spices, and abundant fishing.
The Tsuruchi, Moshi, and Kitsune families have holdings on the mainland, primarily mountainous, but they do include the Kitsune Mori forest, well known for its quality wood. Although the subordinate families control an amount of land roughly equal to the total of the Islands, the resources there are scarcer, and the majority of the clan’s wealth comes from the Isles.