This is the second illustration I made for
Composition wise this illustration is the one I enjoy most of the three I made and I enjoyed making it every step of the way.
Although time wise it did take me long, like 24 hrs or so.
Here's some Background story by
More background - 'Goken' (also called the five divine swords) is a title bestowed by the god Bishamon upon the greatest weapon masters possessing truly legendary skills. They were epic NPCs in a high level arc of our DnD campaign, taking place across the skyland nations of Teikoku (an Asian themed empire) ruled by the impostor emperor Yamimaru. Each Goken has reached the pinnacle of their respective weapon, and is granted divine abilities and unnatural long life. The politics of ideology and alignment have nothing to do with becoming Goken; all that matters is pure skill, so Goken may be good or evil and have no allegiances or relation to one another. There are only 4 'five divine swords' shown because the fifth was killed by Ketsuka (center) earlier. During the rebellion, two Goken sided with emperor Yamimaru and two with the Lotus Resistance.
--Miyano Ketsuka (center): Goken master of the pudao. An orphan raised cruelly and spartanly by the Scorpion clan to become a perfect warrior, she suffered much despite being a prodigy. Though it came naturally to her, she never enjoyed fighting. She received the mark of the Goken after killing an entire village of Scorpion clan samurai who had orders to eliminate her for political reasons. The god Bishamon granted her power over the laws of reality, a dreadful ability that came to be known as 'shroud world' giving her the name Bloody Shroud. The dark emperor Yamimaru won her loyalty shortly after with promises of freedom and material luxuries - two things she never had before. Thus she became the commander of the Shinteidan 2nd division (here [link] ).
Due to trauma she has an obsession with blood, going so far as to consume it whenever possible although she is not a vampire, nor is she particularly sadistic. After fighting the Goken Juun to a draw during the siege of the Kyojima imperial palace, she gave up her position and aided the Resistance in the end.
--Juun, the peacock monk (front low): Goken master of the twin hook swords from the secret monastery of Kimori. Juun is the youngest Goken, a very energetic and optimistic man who loves the martial arts and tests of skill. Of all the Goken he has the greatest desire to do good, and joined the Lotus Resistance against the false emperor early on. His colorful style and earnest personality earned him many friends in the resistance. As a Goken he was granted power over light and perception.
--Kaminari Orochi (back right): Master of the odachi (japanese greatsword). The most violent and ruthless of all Goken, the 'lightning serpent' sought only to fight and kill. The emperor Yamimaru won him over easily, and made him his personal bodyguard. The self-proclaimed strongest Goken, Kaminari was given power over thunder and lightning by Bishamon. He fought the Goken Kamiya Toru in the imperial palace during the siege of Kyojima, where he was defeated.
--Kamiya Toru (back left): Master of the katana. Kamiya is the oldest Goken, having held the position for well over 100 years. Called Kamiya of the dancing rains, he was granted power over rain and water. He has been in self-exile for decades. Both the Resistance and the emperor sought his assistance, but neither were able to find him.
They did not know it at the time, but the PCs (Lillia, Praetroius, etc.) met him on a remote skyland on their way to Teikoku. He was living as a simple basket maker in the hills outside a small village (his baskets were decent, but overpriced). He was later found by the Goken Juun but refused to take part in the war in Teikoku, believing his time had passed. In the last day of the Kyojima siege he appeared unexpectedly in the imperial palace where he helped the PCs and the Resistance by defeating Kaminari Orochi. Afterward he disappeared.