When the kami first descended upon the earth, not all humans were eager to serve them. Likewise, not all of the kami wished to subjugate the mortals to their will. Such a kami was Shiba, and such a mortal was Isawa. Though the two never truly became friends, their unlikely alliance led to the unique Clan that is the Phoenix. Their open-mindedness led naturally to the exploration of magic. They swiftly became the greatest shugenja in all of the Empire.
A select group of Phoenix wizards assisted the Dragon in their tetsukami research during the Shadow Wars. After the Dragon Clan's apparent self-destruction and the subsequent containment of Oni Lord Akuma, it fell upon the Phoenix to further the research and development of the new tetsukami science.
As their forays into science have increased, the Phoenix's traditional powers of magic have waned. Now that so many of them use machines to control and beseech the kami to obey their will, it seems that the Phoenix themselves are beginning to lose the ability to communicate with the spirits of the elements.
This has begun to worry the Elemental Masters of late, but they have far too much else on their mind to worry.
The Phoenix maintain the Great Seal upon the Festering Pit of Fu Leng. It is they, abandoning their ancestral homes in the north and settling in the old Shadowlands themselves, who fight back the power of darkness. Only they have the power and ability to prevent all of Jigoku from breaking loose once more.
But evil can only be contained for so long. And while the Phoenix guard the Pit, other doors are opening...
Families of the Phoenix
The Shiba Family have always been technically the chief family of the Phoenix, but they have always deferred command to the Council of Elemental Masters. In the past, they served as elite yojimbo and special forces. In modern times, even this role seems to be in question as they powerful Crab Seekers have volunteered their aid to the Phoenix. The Shiba seem to be dwindling in importance and power. Their family is currently without a daimyo as the Soul of Shiba itself has passed on to Isawa Sumi. It is unknown whether she will take the name Shiba, her true name, or if she will remain an Isawa.
The Isawa Family are the true power of the Phoenix family. The greatest shugenja and scientists of Rokugan hail from the Clan Phoenix, though lately they have produced more of the latter than the former. Most Isawa do not concern themselves with the family's decrease in magical power, for their tetsukami have more than compensated. A few elders warn that the shift bodes for dark times, but they are mostly ignored. The Isawa family is ruled by the Council of Elemental Masters. At present time, there is only one surviving Master, the Master of Water Isawa Kujimitsu. The other positions may very well be filled by shugenja from other clans willing to swear fealty to the Phoenix. Possibilities include Asahina Munashi, Iuchi Kasturo, and Kuni Jae. Soshi Isawa has volunteered his services but the Phoenix have not returned his calls.
The Asako Family philosophers and devout believers in the concept of reincarnation, they are perhaps the single family in Rokugan most devoted to the "old ways." The strength of their tradition has also kept their magic strong, and many Asako thus find it their duty to maintain the Great Seal in the heart of the Shadowlands. Their current daimyo is Asako Kul, a man who is seldom seen outside of his meditations upon the Seal.
The Agasha Family split from the Dragons many centuries ago, and eventually returned. Still, a few remained in the Phoenix. Not surprisingly, many of these Agasha maintain contact with their hidden brethren, and serve as a secret communication link with the Phoenix's ancient Dragon allies that the Phoenix themselves are not aware of. Publicly, the Agasha are the caretakers of the ancestral Phoenix lands. Unfortunately, there are few Agasha to patrol, and they have yet to discover the darkness growing in the forests there. Their daimyo is a young woman named Agasha Mae, who wishes she could have been born in more interesting times. She may yet get her wish.
The Tadaka Family, are the Phoenix's newest, smallest, and strangest family. Their role in the clan is extremely secret, known only to the Elemental Masters, the Champion, the Emperor, and a few others. Their daimyo is Tadaka Natsuko, a very driven young woman with strange powers. There is a wealth of information about this family here.