Shadowed Autumn Leaves
From Shishinza’s Dossier
In a clan of skilled mariners, few are as capable as Watanabe Al-Zayan. What makes the man even more remarkable is that, in spite of the considerable handicaps of birth to a vassal family and a gaijin name, he has gained the position of Harbormaster, an office that many see to be one of the most powerful positions in Broken Wave City. With his exotic features there is no denying the boy’s gaijin lineage, so he took the name, Al-Zayan, both to recognize his origins and because he assumed it couldn’t possibly make his social standing in Rokugan any worse. The young Al-Zayan’s story might have then passed into obscurity, except for one thing – when it came to matters of ships and sailing, the young Watanabe had incredible ability. Within just a few years of his gempukku, Al-Zayan had already pioneered several innovations in ship design, widening the already vast lead in maritime technology which the Mantis enjoy. Ships whose keels had been laid by Al-Zayan soon became the most sought-after, which brought the young man to the attention of the Mantis Champion, Yoritomo Kumiko. Al-Zayan’s innovations, applied to warship design, so impressed Kumiko that she named the young Watanabe to her personal staff – a high honor, indeed, for one of such humble origins. After Kumiko’s death, Yoritomo Naizen retained Al-Zayan among his retinue. However, with the growing need for talent in Broken Wave City, he sent the young bushi there, with a mandate to establish facilities to repair and retrofit the kobune of the Third Storm. Al-Zayan immediately recognized that the nascent port was ill-designed for shipwright’s work, and set about suggesting improvements to the Governor, Yoritomo Okai. Okai rebuffed the Watanabe, even going so far as to name his estate, Sachi’s Watch, after a Phoenix. Al-Zayan’s fortunes shifted just a few months later, when Yoritomo Ninsei became Interim Governor. Immediately impressed with the man (simply meaning that he recognized Al-Zayan would help make him look good) Ninsei named him Harbormaster and gave him leave to design and manage the port facilities as he saw fit. Al-Zayan threw himself into the job with the measurable devotion with the result that Broken Wave City, in spite of its huge volume of shipping, is one of the most efficient ports in the Empire. Watanabe Al-Zayan is an unassuming man, most recognizable by his exotic features and by a shipboard injury that left him lame. He is more interested in solving practical problems than becoming embroiled in what he has called the cynical and manipulative world of politics. Despite his contributions to the city’s burgeoning development, the fact that he is a vassal family half-breed with a gaijin name has earned him more than a few enemies. Several years past, he and Yoritomo Jera had a rather public spat over the configuration of the Third Storm Haven’s offshore docks, and gossip has it that Jera has not forgotten the disagreement.