Naruto RPG
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Naruto, Naruto Shippuden
© Masashi Kishimoto

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Natsuki Hashimoto
Natsuki Hashimoto
Genin
Genin
Ryo : 0

Memories [P] Empty Memories [P]

Tue Jul 24, 2018 10:30 pm
The humid air was sweltering, hotter than Shien had ever felt before. His blood boiled along with it, fueling him with a keen adrenaline, a flame burning inside him that kept him on edge, vigilant. He stared out into the swamp, the still water like glass, reflecting what little sunlight entered the area. It was a tranquil place, a peaceful one, but inside Shien was the insatiable deserve to leap out. It was instinctual. His thin, needle-like eyes peered outward, eyeing his prey. A crocodile, lying in in the mud, sat idle, bathing in a singular beam of sunlight. Within the brush, light illuminating nothing but his eyes, Shien reached for his thigh, the kunai mounted on his leg with aim to draw and strike with it. He was fast, strong, but something halted his hand. Something faster, stronger, and quieter.

The Doku’s eyes switched to his side, looking at the obstacle. A large, muscular man sat beside him, kneeling. His skin was scaled and scarlet, his hair a blood-like crimson. He was like a larger Shien, bulkier, and better in every way save one - he did not possess the markings indicative of the Netsugan - its potential. This man, his father, could never hope to attain it naturally, but Shien? His son had been granted such a potential, such a power. The Netsugan was a symbol revered by all within the clan, a mark of their leader, the man who would unite his people under one banner, the Doku and his own. It was not purely symbol, either, instead possessing powers unlike any other hunter. The Netsugan granted its user the ability to detect prey in a way unmatched by any other jutsu, except, perhaps, the Byakugan. Its power allowed the user to see in another spectrum of light, infrared, witnessing the body heat of those around the user. They could hear their prey’s heart, it beating like a drum within their chests for dozens of meters. Their speed was enhanced significantly, enabling them to catch any animal in the wild.

Little of this was known to Shien. In fact, little was known to anyone within the clan. The Doku and his family merely realized that he had the potential to unlocked, although how, was unknown to any of them. He remained woefully ignorant of the power that lay dormant within his body, the power to few obtained. It was a striking thing, to know the symbol of the clan leader resided within oneself. That the fate of the clan may one day rest on their shoulders. That, possibly, someone might try and take that from him. The thought was terrifying, a complete inverse of the symbol. The Clan Leader of the Doku, a race of hunters, being hunted himself. It was sardonic, grim. The very thought tormented Shien on nights when it seeped through the woodworks. Thoughts such as those were why the Doku found himself so distracted. It was willingly done, to prevent such a dark mindset from becoming permanent.

“Shien,” his father voice called, interrupting the boy’s thoughts. His son’s vision blurred for a moment, readjusting on the crocodile before him. It was a fearsome beast, fierce and powerful. To the inexperienced and weak, closing in on one was either suicide or a failure, resulting in one’s own detection. Such a thing was rare for a hunter, leaving the shadow. But in those moments when one could, when they would chase their prey or ignite into a brawl, it was like ecstacy, adrenaline pumping throughout one’s body en masse. To many, it was worth the risk. To others, it was foolish exertion with a cost too high. Shien was the latter, hence his position, 20 meters from his target. “This angle in no good,” his father continued in a murmur. It was just barely audible. Shien’s eyes flared, glaring at the red Doku for an instant. His fire, his blood, surged. This was met with a reassuring hand, his father’s, placed on his opposite shoulder. “We both know you aren’t strong enough to get passed that armor, Son,” he whispered. The Doku’s anger quelled, Shien nodding with a soft sigh. His father was right. He couldn’t throw a kunai fast or hard enough to crack that scaley hide. It was too strong. “Let’s change position,” his father suggested, lifting his red finger just beyond the brush. There was a tree, one directly behind the beast, that connected to a branch directly above it.

Crocodiles possessed a weak point at the base of the skull, between it and the neck. A kunai there would guarantee success, Shien’s first kill of this size. Nothing before had come close in size or deadliness. It would do him great honor to add it to his kills. After all, what was a leader of the Doku clan without a beast such as this mounted on their wall? This was simply the way it had to be.

Shien eased out from the foliage, signing a handseal with his father doing the same. To the normal onlooker, it would appear as if he had vanished from thin air in a momentary warping of an afterimage. In actuality, Shien and his father merely channeled their chakra into one movement, enhancing the capabilities of their bodies immensely for a very short duration. It was a simple jutsu, one many learned as their first, but it was effective and far more impressive than the average shinobi let on.

Seemingly materializing from nothing, Shien and his father both landed on the branch opposite the crocodile, a few leaves softly drifting to the ground from their added pressure. It was a beautiful technique, really, one Shien wished he could use more often. To attain speed and power such as that for only a moment was almost heartbreaking, but it did its purpose and any more would be viewed as dishonorable. Lowering oneself to their prey deserved the utmost respect, but heightening it beyond what they could even react to? It was admittedly shameful.

“Go” his father whispered, prompting a nod out of Shien. The Doku took a deep breath, channeling his chakra to his feet as his father, his sensei taught him. He walked along the branch, quietly, moving to the next in the tree just above his prey. There was a unique irony to it, a beast such as this, a natural apex predator to the swamp, falling victim to a predator itself. There were few things scarier to the Doku, prompting him to quickly force it from his mind.

He crept onward, watching the sunbathing crocodile wallow in its warm light. Shien’s lips pursed as he drew his kunai, narrowing his eyes. Each of his needle-thin pupils fell on the reptile’s weak spot, the fleshy mass between the neck and the skull. That was were he was to strike. It would finish it, killing it instantly. Few things rivaled the crocodile in the world, fewer in the swamp - save the Doku. Shien bent his knees, placing himself no less the fifteen feet just above the ghastly creature. He felt the cold metal of his kunai in his hand, drawing it. He moved like a martial artist, a mantis, efficient and silent, his father looking on him. As he rose his kunai to strike, something changed his view.

A crack.

Shien’s eyes darted to the side, eyeing the branch he rested on. His gaze quickly shifted back to the crocodile, the Doku thrusting his hand in a sweeping motion, a blur, jettisoning the kunai from his hand as if a rocket. However, just as he threw the ninja tool, the limb snapped, splintered at the base of the trunk and throwing him off his balance. All of them, he, the kunai, and the branch, descended, waking the crocodile from its bright ecstacy. The beast lunged to the side, turning its body as the kunai hit its back, wedging itself in the creature’s armor. “Dammit!” Shien hissed, falling to the ground.

The fall itself was more painful than he intended, but, for now, he was just glad he hadn’t fallen on the crocodile, or, worse, his own kunai. The muddy earth lessened much of the impact, leaving the Doku with no more than a sprained ankle, if even that. Missing the kill did more harm than the fall itself.

When Shien had finally removed his lodged legs from the thick mud, he found his father standing above him, silhouetted by light on his back atop the river’s bank. The Doku sighed, obviously disappointed. To his surprise, however, his father did not reprimand him, instead offering his hand. “No worries, Shien,” he said, his gruff voices mirroring something welcoming. Shien, confused, went to speak, but was suddenly met with a harsh strike to his back, knocking the air out of him but doing little else. “Hey!” he gasped, glaring at his father.

His father shot him an odd look, one of encouragement but also snarkiness. “You should have checked the limb before using it as support,” he said, helping his son up with a smirk. Shien’s lips retreated to the corner of his mouth. His eyes were hazy, fuming even. “Don’t worry, Shien,” his father said, kneeling down in front of his son. He pointed to the swamp water, narrowing his eyes with a smile. Shien raised his eyebrow, turning to look into the basin. His kunai slipped into the murky water, his prey marked. A snide smile adorned on his face, a small feeling of hope and a chuckle escaping him. “Think of it as a score to settle,” his dad said with a wind, patting his son on the head and standing. The sun had taken an orange quality, marking the late evening. The red Doku’s eyes followed the trees blocking the sky, noting the dwindling light. “Come on, Shien,” he said, turning away from the swamp. “It’s going to get dark soon. We don’t want to keep your mom waiting.”

Shien looked at the ground, then at the water behind him. Next time, he thought to himself with an affirmative nod, following his father.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

The Doku village was modest, mostly building their homes out of hardened clay, moss, and some grass. It was far from luxurious, but it was home. Shien’s in particular was large and had been settled in this swamp for decades. It didn’t sport high ranking members among the clan, especially someone like the Clan Leader himself, but it did house several elite hunters, Shien’s father being one of them. Ken’ichi was his name, Ken by his wife, Shien’s mother, whose name was Shurui, a healer amongst the Doku clan.

The Clan itself was divided, for the most part, into two classes. Among the common tongue: hunters and healers. The difference was easy enough to understand, healers tending to the ill and wounded while the hunters gathered food and achieved social standing with their kills. Where each differed the most, however, was in the application of the Doku’s kekkei genkai, one considerably more common than the Netsugan: Venom Release. The element combined the properties of water and fire, creating a sort of natural poison exclusive to the clan and integral to both a hunter and healer’s life. Where hunters used a violet-black application of the element, and healer’s ability stemmed from a golden yellow liquid, a modified version of the element that healed wounds rather than inflicting them. Master of both was not impossible but rarely heard of, most of the hunters and healers choosing to master one or the other, each being more suited to their common profession.

Shien was among the few with interest in both, though he never found the time to train the element, instead focusing on more basic skills as both hunter and healer. It was only practical, the need to heal any wounds on hunts gone bad seemed a simple enough necessity. Most hunters dabbled enough is such an area, but a complete mastery of it, especially on one’s self, was too tempting an offer to refuse. For now, however, Shien stuck with ninja tools and herbal medicines. Each was effective enough, especially for his age. A good foundation was needed before he delved into the more complex matters of Doku life, anyway. One must learn to walk before running.

“Have you heard from Mom, today?” Shien asked, looking up to his father. Shien, at the time, was an incredibly tall boy among other clans his age, measuring at 5’8” at the time. Now, he measured 6’1” while so young. It was natural for a Doku to attain such a height, but his father towered over even that. He was considered tall even by Doku standards, reaching over seven feet.
“Hm?” his father muttered, shaking his head to find Shien. “Oh, yeah. But not since morning. She wanted you and me to pick up a few things before we got back. She’s probably been working all day come to think of it,” he said scratching underneath his chin.

“The healers have been busy?” Shien asked, raising an eyebrow at his father.

“Yeah, some parasites, apparently. Nothing they haven’t been able to handle and nothing they haven’t before.”

Shien nodded, expanding one of his cheeks in thought. “I guess,” he muttered. “What did she need us to pick up?”

“Just some things at the market. Herbs, teas, some spices. Spruce up what’yur dad brings home,” he said with a wink. Ken’ichi was a confident man, proud, of both his family and his reputation as a hunter amongst the village and his people. Among them all, he was the greatest hunter in his area - having killed dozens of powerful beasts and creatures with bites that turned blood to gelatin. Various bones adorned his armor, pieces of each of his kill, such was custom among his clan. Most hunters, if not all of them, adorned their trophies on their bodies.

Paired with him was his wife, one of the best healers in the village, perhaps the clan itself, having saved numerous hunters and children from substantial blood loss, toxic venoms, disease, or punctured vital organs. Shien’s aptitude for the Netsugan was a surprise at first, but, with thought, became more and more logical given his parentage. It was just that the doujutsu was so rare, true word of its inception few among a lifetime. It was also something they feared, the entire village feared. Given its symbol as the Clan Leader’s eyes, it was an invitation for the greedy, those who desired such power for themselves, or those who would bring about total chaos by killing the only Doku who possessed the potential to awaken the doujutsu. Such acts failed time and time again, but, despite a firm, honor-based rule, they were common with word of each new activee.

Preparations were made after his birth. The village was trustworthy enough, full of good people Shien’s parents trusted. But at the time, the Clan Leader was healthy, young, and strong. There was little to worry about. Little else mattered than to prepare Shien in their own way, without allowing him to be taken away, or, worse, robbed of his very eyes.

Ken’ichi had little to fear, but the fear itself was very real. He found it hard to sleep at night, weary in the day. He was so afraid for his son, even in his everyday life. But the scarlet man told himself that nothing would happen - that his son was same. And, so far, he was right.

“Hey, Moriki,” the man said in his gruff voice, clearing his throat. Ken and Shien came upon the marketplace, at one particular vendor. The man was relatively small and old, and he adorned scales of a bluish color. “Old Man Moriki,” he was often called. The man had been a hunter in his younger days, a good one too, one of the best, but, like everyone, age got the best of him. He lived a humble life now, tending to a garden of his own making. Now he sold what he grew - various spices and herbs, all fresh.

The aged lizard snorted, seemingly drifting into sleep. Upon seeing the pair, his eyes lit up, bringing a smile to his face. “Ken!” he said with a bright, straight smile. He narrowed his eyes at Shien, then, surprised, widened them. “Shien!” he yelled with such emphasis. “Gods, you’ve gotten tall! Gettin’ up there with your father, huh?” he said with a laugh, smiling at Ken.

“I’ve gotta bit to go,” Shien replied with a smile in return. “I’m catching up to you, though, Dad,” he said, snide confidence and teasing flowing about his words. He shot his father a sneering grin, then returned to the old man standing in front of them. His cart was fashioned out of wood, decorated with moss and a stitched sign his wife likely made. It was considerably bright, especially in contrast to the rather dreary environment. The swamp wasn’t exactly a field of flowers and rainbows. Everything had a murky, desaturated look to it, like an ugly brown-green with black waters. The market was by far the best place to remedy that, the various advertisements, fresh, vibrant fruits and vegetables, strawberries, squash, eggplant, red, yellow, violet, bright greens, it was all beautiful. And the smells! Shien’s eyes fluttered with the flaring of his nostrils, the sweet and hot spices melding in the air with freshly cut and cooked meats. He could feel his mouth begin to salivate.

“Well, what are ya looking for? Anything in particular?” Moriki asked, standing up on his cart, now eye level with Ken.

The scarlet Doku sat silent for a moment, looking at the old man’s gallery. Vibrant colors filled the man jars lining his cart, each of the spices shaved himself.

“I think she needed Rosemary and Thyme, Moriki. Got any?” the red-scaled man asked, raising his index finger and thumb to his chin.

“Hrm,” the old man replied, bobbing his head as he looked about his gallery. “Shaved or freshly picked?” Moriki asked, raising one of his eyebrows.

“Fresh, sir,” Ken replied, gesturing to their containers.

With a perk up and a simple “oh,” the old man reached forward, grasping the jar and laying the spice in front of him. The thyme looked as if never twigs. Admittedly, it didn’t seem all that appetizing. “Dad,” Shien whispered, angling his lips toward his father’s ear. “Why did mom want a bunch of plants?”

“Just makes it taste better, Son,” he replied, gesturing to the rosemary.

The man quickly grasped their container, laying the plant beside the thyme before him. “Anything else I can getcha, Ken?” the old man asked, propping his head up with an open palm.

“I think that’s it,” Ken’ichi replied, feeling about his coin purse for ryo. “Here, you go,” he said, fishing several coins out of his pocket. “This should cover it. Keep what’s left,” he responded, authority in his voice.

“Oh, okay!” the old man replied with a smile. “I’ll be seeing you, then! You too, Shien! I’m expecting great things from you, you hear me! Don’t disappoint!”

Shien smiled at the old man, following his father as they moved on. He gave a simple wave to the old man, looking up to his father with an endearing smile. “He’s always so nice when we see him,” the Doku remarked, closing his eyes with his arms stretched behind his head.

“That’s because he’s away from his wife,” Ken replied, chuckling to himself. This prompted Shien to burst into laughter accordingly, trying desperately to suppress it. It almost choked him trying to hold it in.

“Hey, Dad?” Shien asked, glancing back at the old man. “Do you think I can be as good as you one day? I keep hearing about this Netsugan stuff, but, well, it’s just kinda hard to wrap my head around. Everyone’s talking about me like I have some great potential, but I can’t even get a kill off of a crocodile.”

Ken paused for a moment before speaking, processing the question carefully. “I think you can be better, Shien. You were born with a potential for a power I could never hope to have. You’re the son of a great hunter and an even greater healer. I see no reason why you wouldn’t succeed. But you are young. There’s no reason to pressure yourself like this. You’ve got a long ways to go. So stop beating yourself up about it, ok?”

Shien frowned softly, lowering his head and nodding. Ken noticed this, raising his eyebrow. With a short sigh, he knew what was wrong. Easing his arm around his son, he pulled Shien closer. “Shien, it’s not just because of your eyes I say that. When I was your age, I wasn’t even attempting a crocodile. You’re rush, but you’re a brave young man. Confident. Devoted. Whether your Netsugan is unlocked or not, I have no doubts that you’ll be the better of us two. You don’t need to win life’s lottery to make something of yourself, right?” he said smiling down at his son.

Shien nodded, smirking a little. “Alright, Dad,” he said, his voice somewhat cheery, like a soft sweetness in the air. “I guess I’ll just have to train really hard and get better with or without it!”

His father chuckled lightly, nodding as he looked off into the marketplace, the busying people, the crowds coursing about the place. He glanced at his son, resting his hand on Shien’s shoulder. “You will unlock the Netsugan, Shien. And when you do, you’ll already be a great hunter. Its power is also yours. Don’t be prideful. Remember that.”

The son nodded, squinting his eyes as they reached the next cart.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Night took the swamp, the light of the moon and stars just barely penetrating the thick canopy that formed the basin’s sky. It was peaceful, but there was a certain chill about the air, the lighting, that made Shien uneasy. Rumor had it that the swamp was haunted, that passerbys fell into its water to drown, their souls trapped in this grim place for the duration of their afterlife. Elders within the Doku community often said such things to scare the children, mostly to keep them out of the dangers in the swamp until they were ready. Delusions of grandeur were common among the hunter youth, but ghosts were one thing they shared a common fear of. It was better to lie to them about wandering spirits that ate lost Doku than to risk them going out and getting bitten by a viper with no medical specialist nearby. It was a notoriously clever idea, and an accepted secret amongst the older generations.

Still, the swamp did seem like the sort of place to house the undead. It could be downright terrifying at night, eerie, and foreboding. The white, absent streams of moonlight could often be mistaken for ghosts, even by those who didn’t believe in them. The swamp had a way of playing tricks on the mind. But, alongside his father, Shien felt safe, almost like he was at home, like nothing could touch him. It was a comforting feeling, but it also ate at him. As if he were a leech, a parasite, a lost dog looking to someone else for protection. With the potential to unlock the Clan’s Doujutsu, it should have been the other way. If he was destined to become to Clan Leader, he needed to be without fear, to be looked up to. A rallying symbol for all Doku.
But here he felt powerless.

A knock on the door called Shien back to reality, the warm of his home opening up to him. The glow of his living room cast on his face as his mother opened the door, giving a bright smile at her husband and son. “Welcome home, you two!” she greeted, stepping to the side to usher them in. Shurui was a fair woman, elegant. The scales that typical filled the males’ cheekbones were like on hers, like many small freckles. Her skin was fair, viridian like Shien’s. He hair was more course, however, though she usually kept it died in either a ponytail or bun, preferring that it not get in the way while she was at work. She wore a dark night gown, giving off the appearance of the Wicked Witch of the West, though her personality and demeanor were anything but. The was an incredibly nice women, someone Shien adored not only as a mother, but as a person. He’d never met anyone a caring or empathetic, and she was the only one who could knock his father down a peg or two. Her sass was unmatched and revered throughout the village. Shien strived to achieve it.

“You get the things I asked for?” Shurui chimed, shutting the door behind the pair.

“Yeah, everything. Fresh, too,” Ken replied, stretching as he lifted the bag into the air with his arms.

The inside of the house was as modest as the outside, but more inviting and warm. Furred creatures lined the walls with bones and dug-up artifacts, arrowheads and ancient ninja tools before the great eruption. Most had been housed and encased in ash. Aside from his family and kills, these were his most prized possessions. Ancient artifacts from the Shinobi World of old, his ancestors’ weapons that struck great beasts and embarked on greater hunts. Shien admired each, wanting to find one himself one day. There was something comforting about it, like claiming a new family heirloom. They felt like they belonged here in the village - in the greatest hunter’s home.

Shurui began to sift through the bags, accounting for everything. “This will go great with the salmon you caught!”

“I still think it would have tasted fine without all the spi-”

“Your sense of taste is the one sense you have that stopped working in the womb,” his wife interrupted, shooting Ken a look as she sifted through the storage. Food was scarcely kept in the village like this. However, the family was fortunate and lucky enough to have met a Yuki, though he did not give his name. His ice release was still potent, allowing them to hold onto their catches a little longer than usual.

“Thank the ancestors for that man,” Shurui said, nodding her head as she laid the fish out on the cutting board. Drawing a knife from its rest, she sliced into the catch, lobbing its head from its body in one clean stroke. She raked her knife against the cutting board, discarding the fish head to the side, then moving on to the next, speaking as she worked. “Made both of our jobs easier,” she continued, looking up at her husband with a grin. She raised the knife, twitching and pointing it at her husband. “Now, don’t let me catch you slacking out there,” she laughed. “I don’t want you getting soft on me.”

Ken’ichi lowered himself onto the couch, raising his arms and resting his hands behind his head, “Ain’t gonna be nothing soft about me,” he replied, closing his eyes with a snarky smile.

“Ken’ichi!” she replied, her green cheeks flaring with pink color. “Your son is right there!”

Shien blushed, laughing as he turned away. “I’ll be going upstairs for a bit,” he told them, giving a small wave. Each of his parents responded with little more than a smile and nod, waiting until he disappeared into his bedroom. There was quiet for a moment, save for the knife against the fish and wooden cutting board. It wasn’t before long that Shurui spoke again. “So, what went wrong?” she asked, noting the lack of any animals.

“We saw a massive crocodile. Huge. Must have been longer than I am tall. Eight or nine feet. He went to higher ground to get a better shot, but the tree branch he was standing on snapped, and the crocodile got away.”

“Aw,” Shurui said, tightening her lips to her teeth. “No wonder he barely said anything. Must be upset,” she concluded, briefly glancing at the boy’s room.

“Yeah, he came really close, too. Lodged a kunai into its back though. I imagine he’ll go out and try to claim it some time or another.”

Upstairs, Shien watched through the keyhole, listening to the two of them speak. He sighed, turning as he leaned against the door. He stared out into space, blankly, a tired and depressed expression forming on his face.

“He’s doing fine. I’m just worried he’s not going to be ready if something happens to me. Or the Clan Leader for that matter. He’s doing the best he can, but I’m worried it’s not going to be enough.”

Shien’s eyes narrowed, launching to his window, the moonlight cutting through the trees and into his room. He leapt from the door, grasping a bag from nightstand as he charged to his window. With the flick of his wrist, he unlocked it, raising and leaping out from it. He landed on the ground with a soft thud and the wet gulp of mud. He swung his bag around his shoulders, taking off into the darkness of the swamp.

It was terrifying - to be alone out here. Shien had never ventured out this late without the aide or guidance of his father. It was a stupid decision, but he had to do it. He had to step up. He had to claim his kill as a hunter and as a potential clan leader, no matter how scared he was.

But he was scared. Chills ran along his spin, a coldness, an anxiety that was rampant within his bloodstream, pumping alongside his blood. The boy leapt from tree to tree, maneuvering about the darkness, channeling his chakra into his soles. He was like a shadow, the wind, moving silently towards his prey. Crocodiles here were notoriously active at night. And with the full moon, its streams cutting through the layered canopy, he couldn’t miss his kunai. That was the mark of his kill, his prey. Hopefully, the roles wouldn’t be reversed here. He was in control here, and he’d have to adapt to any circumstances that changed. In his years of experience alongside his father, he knew that things rare went undisturbed. Adapting to change was an instrumental skill needed by all hunters. To lack that kill was most often a death sentence. Only the strongest can survive, right?

It wasn’t before long that Shien reached his destination amidst the darkness and shadow, the tree opposite the one with the broken branch. Crocodiles, as he knew them, didn’t do much traveling, especially with such a short timeframe. They were fierce creatures, dominant and brave. Few things shook these crocodiles, certainly not a kunai doing no more than a flesh wound.

Shien’s eyes narrowed, adjusting to the darkness of the swamp. The moon’s rays fell onto the still water, reflecting off of it in a ghostly white. Shien perched himself atop a tree, shaking it slightly with his weight to test its strength. It was thick, strong, old. He’d not be breaking it. He kneeled, clasping onto a limb just above his head as he watched carefully, silently, his eyes moving back and forth across the swamp water. His gaze was intense, keen. He took in every detail, observing and noting the slightest changes from a buzzing dragonfly to the position of a croaking frog. The swamp was teeming with life, the animals giving out calls to one another or simply generating the noise of their movement. The trees ran with amphibians, reptiles, and large bugs, mammals rummaging within the tall grasses. But of all things, the water was motionless, undisturbed. It was if it wasn’t even a liquid, but black glass, a mirror reflecting the moon’s absent light. He had to be quiet, to listen. He needed to hear the slightest brush of water over the crocodile’s scales, the subtle streaming off of its back.

He sat there for what felt like a lifetime, but it was all deserved. His passion, his determination did not waver. His glare was vigilant. His persistence a cold grip from a distant figure. Slowly, he reached for his bag, weaving it around from his shoulders and in front him him. The Kunai lightly jingled within it, giving out a cold chime. He stopped, his eyes twitching. Carefully, he reached his scaled hand into the bag, withdrawing two kunai. He was sure to prevent them from touching, the slightest clank could be devastating here. The doku’s needle thin eyes flickered in the moonlight, darting across the still water.

Where was it? Where was this beast? Why was it hiding?

Shien’s grip tightened briefly. His fingers called the kunai forth, wedging it between his index and middle fingers, the other in his palm, bound by his pinkie, thumb, and ring finger. However, something drew his attention away from the swamp. A slither, the sound of movement winding down the tree bark. Hesitation grew within him, his eyes shifting from the water to his mount. A snake, no, a viper, made its way down the tree. He could not risk detection. Any loud noise would lessen his chance of obtaining his prey. But was it worth the risk?

Shien’s eyes darted back and forth once, landing on the venomous snake. He couldn’t afford a bite. It would be too taxing to return home, and he lacked the chakra to perform venom release. The snake paused, flicking its tongue. It knew he was here. Shien’s eyes narrowed as he raised his kunai, preparing to strike before it did. A hiss erupted from the creature, low and menacing, more like a growl. Just then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw it. The shining metal in the moonlight - his kunai. The crocodile had come to the surface. Shien grit his teeth in anger. Now? Of all times, now? His grip tightened, and, fixating his glare on the viper, he struck. The viper responded in tandem, striking with bared teeth, venom dripping from each of its fangs. The Doku slashed, carving into the snake’s throat and thrusting his kunai upward. The length of the creature’s fangs, his his knuckles, but did not penetrate his hand. From the base of the creature’s skull, Shien’s kunai erupted, splattering blood on the tree behind him. Following through with his moment, he struck the tree, mountain the twisted and convulsing reptile until it grew still.

His glance shifted, the crocodile still visible. His face carried a thin smile, and his body turned, easing toward the end of the branch. He had one kunai in his hand. Fishing another from his bag could create too much noise. It wasn’t worth the risk - but he could make it. He had to.

Shien narrowed his eyes, calling the kunai into his fingers via the hole at the end of the ninja tool. He spun it, the weapon’s edge aligned with his index finger and thumb. The light was thin here, but the creature was slowly making its way to another stream of moonlight. There he could its weak point.

Hunting was a curious thing. The entire world around you could swelter with noise, an echoing chamber surrounding the area in a reverberating call. But to the hunter, in these moments, no matter how much noise there was in the world, he could hear nothing. There was silence. A focus. Shien felt he could reach out and hear his prey’s heart beating. It was a moment he longed for, a period of complete ecstasy beyond anything else he experienced. The feeling was addictive, pushing him to hunt again and again, and here, now, it flowed within him. Like the flowing stream of water, Shien’s arm stretched out, the beast reaching the moonlight. The kunai flew from his hand, sailing through the air in a crisp, quiet flow, the reptile unable to hear it until it was too late.

The was a hiss, a sharp blow, and a crack. He knew it was done - that he had succeeded. Shien’s eyes flared, and a smile brighter than the moonlight fell on his face.

Swinging downward, the Doku leapt into the marsh, sifting through the water as he went to claim his prey and kill. The crocodile was larger than he had expected, a massive beast measuring sixteen feet across. The water and curvature had shadowed its true length up until now. Glee took hold of the Doku. “I did it,” he whispered to himself, unable to wipe the smile from his face.

“Yes,” a voice called out to him.

Shien’s eyes widened, the boy turning in a flash to the word’s source.

“You did.”

The Doku’s eyes fell on his father, the muscular man standing with folded arms on the bay.

“How’d you find me?” Shien asked.

“Well, that’s a stupid question, Shien,” his father replied, smirking.

Shien paused, looking down at his kill. His gaze returned to his father, an apprehensive look gleaming from him. “Are you mad?”

“Mad?” his father replied, shooting his son a bewildered look, his left eyebrow raised. “Gods, no, Shien,” he said chuckling out loud. Shien slowly joined in, the two sharing in a laugh before it abruptly ended. “But your mother sure as hell is,” he finished with a sly grin stretching across his face. “She told me to come out here and find you. I knew you’d be here, but tracking you wasn’t difficult.”

Shien fell silent, looking down at the crocodile. He removed the kunai from its skull, placing his hands on the beast.

“You shouldn’t have come out here alone, Shien. It was foolish of you. What if something bad were to happen? What do you think we would do if you were gone?” his father scolded, the wrath of his mother coming out through him.

“I… I wasn’t thinking.”

“Clearly,” his father returned, sighing softly. “As proud as I am of you, your mother is right. This is no place for you to be wondering about at ni-”
“How do you expect me to be your better or the clan leader if I can’t even so much as go out on a hunt alone, Dad?” Shien replied, anger and frustration lightly seething throughout his words.

His father’s lips pursed, and the man fell silent for a moment. “We’ve been sheltering you, Shien. I know. You know. But you have a precious gift most Doku would die to have and could never dream of getting.”

“So I should treat myself as a resource and never go out again?”

“No, you should act sensibly.”

Silence filled the swamp, the frogs, the insects, all falling silent. Ken’ichi sighed, lowering his head. “I understand what you’re feeling, Shien. I wanted to go out and do the same thi”

“No, you don’t understand, Dad. I have the potential for the singular, most important kekkei genkai in our clan, and I can’t even so much as go out on my own to prove myself without a lecture. You can’t shelter me away from these things, I need to experience-”

“You are experiencing them, Shien. Slowly. As fast as-”

“You deem fit?”

“As fast as you can. Like it or not, Shien, you do have the potential to unlock the Netsugan. Its status is yours to bear. But you can’t go around being a damned idiot. That is no way for a leader or hunter to act.” His voice was grave. It was powerful. Shien had never felt such frustration emanating from his father. It was like a wave, as if the air had become more oppressive, thicker. It was harder to breathe, to say anything.

He couldn’t. Instead, Shien merely lowered his head, frowning slightly.

“You need to pace yourself,” he said, the tension in his voice subsiding. “....but, as I said… I am proud of you.”

Shien exhaled slightly, a small, insignificant laugh that merely flared his nostrils.

“Now, come on Shien. Let’s get this home. The snake, too,” his father said, half smiling.

The Doku looked up to his father, smiling in return. He nodded, ushering the great beast to the bank and then body flickering to the snake. He pried his kunai from the tree bark, catching the serpent as it fell, its head dangling from the rest of its body, almost severed. Now, in the moonlight, he recognized the viper, a cottonmouth, a brown reptile notorious for it’s oddly colored mouth, as if it had eaten the white tufts of cotton. To his knowledge, his father had killed several. It was, however, still one of the most deadly snakes out there, the most deadly in this particular swamp.

Shien leapt from the tree, landing beside his father on the moist, muddy bank. His father groaned, picking the large reptile up from the ground. “It’s your kill,” he remarked. “You’d better pitch in,” he said, a strained smile appearing on his scarlet face.

His son laughed, offering a faint nod before gripping the creature’s tail. “So, Shien.” his father started, tugging most of the creature along in front of his son. “How exactly did you plan on taking this home?”

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Shien stared outside his window at the academy, smiling. The moon hit the sky just as it had back home, without all the trees blocking its magnificence from view. It was an odd sensation, to look up at the full moon. So much of his life had been sheltered away from it, hidden behind the thick canopies present in the swamp. The Doku looked down to his hand, his viridian fingers latched onto an aged photograph. It was him, his mother, father, and the crocodile he brought home. He could feel the happiness emanating from the picture, like looking through a gateway in time where things were much simpler, better.

He licked his lips, pursing them. Emotioned bled into his face, his eyes. It was suffocating, the urge to cry. The need to. He hadn’t seen them in so long. So long he’d been alone. Scared. Cold. There was no telling what they thought happened to him. No note. No sign of his departure other than his tone in a few sentences here and there. He did the best he could to not leave a trace, a hint of where he went off to, for better or for worse. “I’m sorry,” his whispered, tears dripping onto the crinkled photograph. “I miss you,” he continued, his face contorting as spit and tears formed in his face and throat. “So. Much. I wish I could see you both again. Hear your voices.” Sometimes, even now, he wished he hadn’t been given the Netsugan or its mark. He wished he didn’t have to bear the responsibility or its threats. Sometimes, he just wanted to be with his mother and father again.

Shien sat in the darkness, alone. Cold. He felt more at home than he had in ages, but there was still that chill. He needed his mother’s arms and invitation. His father’s guidance. Forging one’s own road was difficult. You had to both pave and walk it, and seldom did someone find it within themself to do both. Shien was trying to do that now, scrambling with asphalt and limping on a broken foot. But he had to work. He had to get back home and step up as Clan Leader. But he was far from ready. That was a long journey, one he anguished to take each and every day. But despite the distractions, the carefree desire to waste time rather than making the best of it, the one thing that called him back to his work was his family. Not his clan, but his mother. His father. He wanted so desperately to see them again. To show his mother and father how much he’d grown. But for now it was best he remained where he was - with Ikigai. With this academy. It had put forth a road for him to walk. A shortcut he could take without making his own. For now, that’s what he needed. A solid path to heal and to grow. To hone and develop what skill he had, what talent resided in him. His father’s strength, prowess, wisdom. His mother’s care, compassion, leadership, and understanding. He could be the culmination of both, but first he had to walk that road with determination - with dedication.

Then came the final push, the home stretch.

The Doku smiled, wiping the tears from his face. The academy wasn’t the same, but it was home enough. Family enough. Shien wasn’t blind. He felt his father in Boru. Sometimes, he thought it was his father, standing right there beside him. The burly old man had that air about him, that knowledge and wisdom as a warrior that Shien admired. That was the closest thing to home, but it was also something new, something different. He folded his picture, placing it in the nightstand beside his bed, right next to his necklace. These were among the few things he brought from home. But they were what mattered most to him. The necklace was of his father’s first kill, from his first hunt. It was a rattlesnake, a similar creature to the viper Shien himself had struck. There was always a significant danger to such animals, such prey. They themselves were already predators. To force them into a new role could have deadly effects. This is why mastery of Venom Release was essential among his clan members, both hunter and healer. A bite would reduce anyone else to a corpse, but a Doku? There was no place for death in a such a way. They were beyond a simple snake. A simpler venom. The Doku were the apex predators amongst all of evolution, peak in both honor and power combined - or so it was said. The necklace given to him by his father, loaned to him, rather, was fashioned from that very snake, its skull forming the base of the decoration. He still needed to return it, but only after he could return at his peak - as a true leader amongst the Doku. The photo was his to keep, a commemoration of his success, despite the foolishness of the venue. His mother, Shurui, bit into him that night. What he’d give to hear her voice…

Shien swallowed, removing his collared jacket and sitting atop his modest cot. He sat at the side, his feet hanging off and planting at the floor. He looked the ground, his expression sapped of joy. His hand tightened, his chakra flowing to his eyes. The Doku looked from his bed to the mirror opposite of him, staring at his doujutsu, the gift of the ancestors to the Doku - his Netsugan. The power was his to use, his to carve his way home with. But it wasn’t enough, not yet. For that, he had to be the best. The sword academy was the best way to do that - to train under so many masters of the craft, to hone his skills to become to perfect hunter and leader. Joining this place had been a blessing, a sheer result of fate. It had to be. It was the road he needed, the path he could follow until he was ready. But first, he had to prove himself. He had to surpass the prodigy of the academy.

No matter what, he had to beat Ikigai - his best friend. That was the only way to be sure that he was ready.

And after that? Perhaps Hakai himself. No one could stand in his way. No one but himself.

For so long, Shien allowed himself to be distracted, to fall into fruitless desire with nothing to gain or learn. Nothing but failure. Even his studies here hadn’t been one hundred percent. But now? With his Netsugan? Things had to change, no matter how grueling the process. There was no choice in the matter. Not anymore. He had wasted too much time, diluted his skill as both hunter and shinobi. This was something of a wakeup call - an immediate danger. Few could know about it. Not even Ikigai - his mentors. Boru. This was his burden, and if he wasn’t ready to deal with the threat he now faced, perhaps it was meant to be.

Shien laid in his bed, staring at the mirror with his blazing red eyes - pulsing with power, energy, and chakra. He stared at myself, this mark. With a clenched fist, his face grew stern. No matter what, Ikigai. I’m going to beat you.

Baby steps. One thing at a time. That was the only way to get where he wanted.

WC: 8200

Claims: 41 stats

http://naruto-role-play-rpg.forumotion.com/t31842-poison-mist [3000/3000]

208 words to http://naruto-role-play-rpg.forumotion.com/t31441-v6-mind-eye-of-the-kagura [4000/4000]

http://naruto-role-play-rpg.forumotion.com/t26292-sakura-first-step [2000/2000]

http://naruto-role-play-rpg.forumotion.com/t34468-flaming-impact-fist [2000/2000]

[992/4000] http://naruto-role-play-rpg.forumotion.com/t22431-body-pathway-derangement


Last edited by Shien 支援 on Wed Jul 25, 2018 6:14 am; edited 1 time in total
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Wed Jul 25, 2018 6:14 am
Edited claims. Made a mistake and put down Yin Wound instead of Mind Eye when I already had it. Should be fixed now.
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