Toku was the son of a farmer who decided to become samurai.
A peasant village was attacked by bandits. Seven samurai gathered to defend it – Ikoma Hidemasa, a ronin formerly of the Lion Clan, an Otaku family magistrate, and five other ronin. They trained the peasants, and were impressed by the heroic spirit of one of the heimin boys, whom Hidemasa nicknamed “Toku,” which means “virtue.” During the fighting, all the samurai were killed, but Toku slew the bandit chieftain and thus saved his village. Following the battle, he left the village to take up the life of a ronin to honour the courage shown by Hidemasa. He took with him a suit of armour too large for him, taken from twelve different bodies; the Otaku’s stallion, though he could not make it stop once he had made it start; Hidemasa’s copy of Akodo’s Leadership, even though, being illiterate, he had to have others read from it to him; and the daisho of the bandit leader.
Toku wandered the empire, experiencing life as a samurai. Much of his knowledge was gained in Dragon lands, where a Mirumoto samurai, impressed by the young ronin, taught him the essential skills of warfare and culture that a samurai need to possess. This training was accidentally spotted by a Crane courtier, who goaded the Mirumoto into sending Toku to the prestigious Topaz Championship in Tsuma Village. Much to the Crane’s horror, the Dragon did indeed sponsor Toku for the tournament, where Toku performed with great honour – winning no event, but coming second or third repeatedly. This was a seminal moment for Toku, when he realised that it was the actions of a man, not their birth or status, that determined their destiny. It was also here that he met Akodo Toturi, then Clan Champion of the Lion, and Doji Kuwanan.