Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or The Gamer
Author Comments: So I just sorta stopped this chapter as I realized it has been a bit since I updated. I apologize for the abrupt stop.
Review Replies: Thanks to everyone that has left reviews. You may have noticed I don't do review replies to everyone like I used to. The reason for this that now takes a lot of work =) Anyways don't think I'm not grateful for everyone who reads this story and to those who reviews. Even the haters up my count =)
Team 7 meet at the edge of the village, the huge forest ahead of them, it was here that they would split up and circle around to take out as many of the mutated boars as they could, once done they would try and find out the source of the infestation and deal with it.
"You guys have everything you need?" Kakashi.
"Yes Kakashi Sensei, you don't have to worry about us." complained Naruto.
"Eh, it's the duty of every jōnin Sensei to worry about their cute little genin, what if they get lost? What if they fall and skin their knees? These things keep us Sensei up at night."
"Sensei." Sakura started to growl and raised a fist menacingly. Kakashi placed his hands in front of himself in apology.
"Okay enough joking, you three have proved to me that your skills have grown, but I just want you to be prepared, we are fighting a unknown enemy here and while I think it's something you can handle, I want you to be prepared to turn and run if things seem bad, even if things just seem very strange, remember, I am just one signal flare away."
"We know Sensei." Sakura said resisting the urge to roll her eyes. Sasuke just nodded but he too failed to keep his eyes in check.
"Kakashi Sensei don't you forget to keep an eye out for that lost kid." Naruto said. He doubted Kakashi would find him, quests that appeared to him were usually things either only he could do or things that he would have the best chance of doing.
"I know Naruto, but all of you need to prepare yourself, a young child lost in a dangerous woods for a week...well the outlook isn't good."
"We have to try." Sasuke's voice stated flatly.
Kakashi looked at his student. "Of course we do Sasuke, if we can find the child and bring him home nothing would make me happier, but a ninja has to be prepared for all outcomes."
Sasuke nodded in return and Kakashi sighed. At least his student was starting to show emotions for something besides vengeance on Itachi.
"Alright let's move out. We'll clear out what we can of the targets and meet at the rendezvous location in no more than 3 hours."
"Hai Sensei!" all three shouted and without another word Kakashi vanished in a burst of leaves and the three genin turned and ran toward the dark woods.
Team 7 entered the forest from the west and Naruto brought them to a stop in a few minutes.
"What is is?" asked Sasuke.
"Have any of us actually trained in survival skills beyond the Academy basics?"
"Why would I waste my time with that? I have to get stronger to defeat my brother."
"Well right now what we need is a decent tracker in order to find these boars...or that kid for that matter."
"Don't forget those roots you promised to find." Sakura reminded him.
Naruto sighed. "What about you? Did you pick up any tracking from Kakashi?"
Sakura grinned sheepishly. "No, I was spending most of my time trying to catch up to you two."
Naruto wanted to hit himself in the head. He had to started getting more proactive with his power! All he had to do was pick up some basic scrolls!
"Well it can't be helped now. I'll just have to improvise." he brought together the familiar handsign.
"Shadow Clone Jutsu!" he shouted and several squads of clones appeared around them.
"Okay guys, I'll stay with Sakura and Sasuke and we'll keep on a straight path toward the rendezvous, I want you to spread out and look for the kid and any of those root things we're supposed to find. If you find anything interesting disperse to let me know."
The clones looked at each other and then one clone spoke out. "You know we all know that right? I mean you were just thinking it before you made us."
Sasuke laughed behind him.
"Just go already." Naruto ordered.
"Sure thing boss." his clone said with a grin and the squads scattered in several different directions.
Naruto turned back to his teammates. "I'll summon some more clones every so often, we should be able to cover a large amount of terrain that way."
"You know you rely on that jutsu way to much." commented Sasuke.
"This coming from the guy who throws out a Fireball Jutsu every chance he gets."
Sasuke shrugged. "I like to burn things."
There was a silent pause.
"That's kinda creepy Sasuke."
"Shut up dobe! I didn't mean it like that!"
"How did you mean it?"
"The Uchiha Clan has a long tradition of mastering fire techniques."
"Do they have a tradition of kicking puppies too?"
"Of course not!"
As the two continued to argue Sakura sighed and decided to let them get it out of their system while she maintained a lookout. It wasn't long before she head a rustling in the underbrush. She gestured for her teammates attention and for once they both listened.
"Is that one of your clones Naruto?" she whispered.
"My clones wouldn't be making that much noise and they would be taking a clear path or using the trees. Fall in guys." Sakura and Sasuke nodded, the argument suddenly over, and moved to either side of him in a slight triangle pattern, the standard defensive pattern for a trio of genin.
Sounds of grunting and hooves hitting the dirt filled the area, Naruto saw five enemy icons appear on his mini-map and adjusted his team's formation in order to face them. Seeing they were out numbered , and thanking Kami that not every enemy he would face used stealth, he summoned two squads of clones, one to either side, to act as crowd control and increase his damage rate.
The first boar burst into their area running toward them at a stead pace. This particular boar didn't look that different than any boar he had ever seen in a book or the few he had seen in the forests around Konoha.
"Observe." he commanded.
Mana Boar Lv 5: A basic mana transformation, mana boars are a common foe for adventurers everywhere, while alone they don't pose a threat to most heroes be warned that they run in packs and they can become incredibly more dangerous. Skills: Charge, Enrage.
Naruto paused fore a moment, mana boar...he had not seen any reference to mana outside of his own power, what did it mean? He didn't have time to ponder it as three more of the Mana Boars followed the first along with a larger reddish boar behind them. Naruto performed Observe again.
Fiery Mana Boar Lv 8: These boars anger was so great that they fused with a small part of the fire elemental mana making them stronger than some of their pack. Skills: Fiery Breath, Burning Defense.
Four level 5's and one level 8...nothing that seemed to difficult, but Naruto was wary ever since his encounter with the roadside bandits. The boars had arranged themselves in a basic X formation with the level 8 in the center and the level 5's acting as a guard. Naruto gestured for the two clone squads to move to either side of the enemy acting as distraction, he took point reading a attack by using Chakra Charge on his kunai and using Targeted Attack on the front Mana Boar to his right. He had considered attacking the Fiery Boar, but he wanted to finish off the weaker boars first, and get a idea of what their skills could do.
"Sakura back me up on my target, your best attacks are up close, so just do what you can with shuriken, if they get too close distract them with genjutsu or be ready to heal. Sasuke I want you to do the same thing but once we get their measure I want you to be ready with a fireball, that should be a good way to slow them all down."
"Right." Sakura said acknowledging the order. Sasuke just nodded but it was clear he was also board.
"Alright guys, let's hunt some boars!" Naruto said using his Quick Draw skill to throw his weapon. Sakura and Sasuke both let lose with their own attacks all centered on the same target, Naruto's attack hit home, the kunai striking the boar and slicing along his hide, bare moments later Sasuke's kunai and Sakura's shuriken hit the boar doing more damage. Naruto grinned as he saw the health bar on the boar drop by almost 75% in that one attack alone had almost destroyed the boar, but he was surprised, the boar was a level 5 he had thought the creature would go down in the first go.
The victimized boar let lose a howl of rage and it's hide grew visibly redder.
Enrage: Can be activated when your health drops below 50%. Temporarily greatly increases strength and defense. Immune to Mind Control.
The boar howled again and charged toward Team 7, ignoring the attacks of the clones trying to keep it's attention.
Charge: Once activated target shoots forward with a 200% increase in speed. While active target has increase in strength. Chance for Stun and Knockback effects.
The boar charged forward ahead of it's pack, pieces of dirt flying into the air, it headed straight for Naruto.
"I got this!" shouted Sakura moving ahead and going through the hands signs for the Displacement Jutsu, the same Jutsu she had used against the bandits in their last fight. Not a bad idea really, it would allow her to alter the boar's attack causing him to harmlessly run by his target.
Except Enrage made the enemy immune to Mind Control effects.
Naruto started running toward the kunoichi as she cast the genjutsu and was stunned when it seemed to have to no effect. Naruto did a flying tackle and knocking Sakura out of the boar's path just in time to see it speeding by.
"Fry that thing Sasuke!" he shouted to the Uchiha. Sasuke needed little prompting as he launched a fireball at the boar as it began to slow down and return to it's original color. The fireball was too much and the boar squealed in pain as it died.
Mana Boar Lv 5 defeated: 250 exp. Items available.
The beast fell over dead, injured and burned, a white orb escaped the body and rested next to it's corpse.
Tip: Mana has memory. When mana based enemies attack or kill an opponent, an imprint of their opponent and their gear is left upon the mana in their system. When they are killed in return, excess mana can form into items imprinted on the mana. The value of these items can vary based on the strength of the creature killed, not to mention there is a certain randomness to what may be dropped. Collect the items by touching the white orbs that form near the corpses of the fallen. Please note that Mana creatures decompose quickly and if you want part of the remains for food or hide you must harvest them relativity quickly lest the be lost to the mana spawning process.
Naruto removed the screen wondering what the hell that was about. When did creatures drop items? Was this from his game power? He didn't have time to think on it until he finished this battle. Those abilities changed his strategy; he was going to attack the group in mass, but with their ability to temporarily increase their strength when their health was low meant he needed to try and break the pack apart and attack them one on one. If they Enraged too many of them at the same time they could do some serious damage to his team. Naruto shouted out a order to his clones. They stopped harassing the pack and instead each squad focused on just one boar drawing two of them away from the pack, this left the Fiery Boar and one Mana Boar for Team 7 to deal with first. Naruto wanted to try and divide up the pack further but the enemy did not give him any more time to react.
The Fiery Boar rushed forward with the Mana Boar by it's side, this forced Sasuke to dodge splitting him from Naruto and Sakura. Naruto finished helping Sakura back up and shouted to his teammate.
"Take out the little one first as fast as we can." Sasuke nodded, confirming he heard the order.
"Sakura try casting Displacement on the larger boar, I think the smaller boars could only resist when they got injured. Sakura gave him a long look but then also nodded, she cast her Displacement Jutsu on Fiery Boar and he swerved away from his packmate now aiming for targets that were not where it thought they were. The moment there was some distance between the two, all of Team 7 focused their attacks on the Mana Boar, this time they poured on the damage and the boar did not have time to activate Enrage before dying.
Memories flooding into his mind gave him the barest of warnings, one of his clone squads had done too good a job of damaging their boar, it activated Enrage and Charge and smashed through them, dispelling them in a instance, it continued on to the next Naruto it saw, which was the real one. Naruto did not have time to dodge but managed to get his guard up as the powered up attack hit him, he was immediately effected by Knockback and Stun, flying through the air and landing on the ground roughly. Dazed he was unable to bring up his defense and was vulnerable to being trampled by the oncoming boar.
Luckily, he had a team watching his back. Sakura attacked the beast head on rushing forward pounding the boar in it's sides, the boar's skills kept it from taking real damage but it did put a stop to the charge going at Naruto. While Sakura protected Naruto's back Sasuke engaged the the Fiery Boar hoping to test his strength and kill the animal on his own, he attacked in close using his tantō hoping the added damage of the weapon would let him kill it quickly, he had enough foresight to know if the smaller boars had strong abilities the larger one would as well, not to mention different ones.
Sakura helped Naruto to his feet, his health had dropped by about 10%, but that wasn't too bad considering, he declined to use a food pill as it would be far to soon, he observed Sasuke's fight with the Fiery Boar and decided to let him handle it on his own for a moment, the Fiery Boar must have stronger defenses than the smaller boars because it's health was dropping slower, however Sasuke had a few levels on it and as long as he stayed focuses he shouldn't be in too much trouble.
"Sakura let's take out this one." he said indicating the boar that had attacked him, it's health was already low thanks to his clones and Sakura's attacks. She nodded and the both ran in close and attacked with fist and kunai, the weakened boar tried to escape but quickly fell.
Sasuke was not having as much luck as he would have liked, the Fiery Boar was stronger and quicker than his smaller cousins and activated a defense justu of some sort whenever he got too close.
Burning Defense: Target's surface is covered with living flame dealing a small bit of damage to melee attackers.
While Sasuke did not have Naruto's advantage of seeing a description of the attack, he was figuring out most of it for himself, whenever he got in close and dealt decent damage with his tantō the creature's skin erupted in flames forcing him back or risk taking damage himself, he could attack with distance weapons but the boar's hide seemed pretty tough and it took minimal damage, still if he just kept up this pattern his enemy would fall, only...he was growing impatient, he wanted to defeat the creature now, not wait for it to die from small wounds, he wanted to prove his strength.
"I can play with fire too." Sasuke said quietly and formed the handsigns for his Fireball Jutsu, with a deep breath and a roar of flames he attacked the boar. The flames rolled over the boar and seemed to consume the beast. Sasuke smirked in triumph, waiting for the flames to die down and allow him to see his victory, his smirk was erased in a instance when the flames vanished and not only was his opponent still there, but now seemed to be healed from his injuries!
Tip: Some enemies that have a strong elemental affinity can draw strength from elemental attacks to gain back health and even boost stats, a wary adventurer will be cautious and use appropriate elements when attacking a enemy.
The Fiery Boar almost seemed to return Sasuke's earlier smirk as it breathed in and launched it's own fire attack back at the young genin. Sasuke launched himself back as quickly guarding his face with arms taking some minor damage from the attack.
Fiery Breath: Drawing on the Fire Mana in it's system, Fiery Mana Boar can launch a small AOE fire attack at any adventurer who dares get in it's way.
"Sasuke!" Sakura shouted seemed him hit, Naruto glanced at the battlefield, two boars were left, one Mana Boar was being engaged by his clones but of the squad he had sent only one was actually left and the Fiery Boar was focused on Sasuke who was at more at a disadvantage than Naruto had first thought. Naruto decided to switch things up a bit.
"Sakura go help Sasuke, do a quick heal on any wounds he got and then make him engage the smaller boar, I'll go after the larger one with the fire attacks."
"But Naruto if Sasuke was having issues with that creature..."
She nodded in return and started running toward Sasuke. Naruto summoned five new clones, two went to harass the Mana Boar while the rest backed up Naruto as he started attacking the larger boar. Fiery Boar turned from Sasuke as several charged kunai and shuriken started hitting him from several directions at once. Naruto saw Sakura healing Sasuke and explaining his orders, at first Sasuke shook his head as if he was going to argue but Sakura seemed to speak firmly with him and he sighed and acquiesced and they both ran to help his clones fight the last Mana Boar.
With his teammates out of his battle Naruto could now focus solely on the Fiery Boar, the beast tried to attack him but Naruto kept out of his range. On average Sasuke actually did more damage than Naruto did even with his clones, his skills increased the precision and strength of his attacks greatly, but when a target had greater defenses Naruto could increase his numbers and his damage, overwhelming targets. Fiery Boar was finding this out first hand, its Burning Defense did no good if Naruto would not go in close to fight, and it's Fiery Breath was easy to watch out for and avoid, Naruto gave it credit, the boar's hide was tough making for great natural armor, it's health was draining slowly. Naruto decided to end the fight and use Chakra Charge on one of his shuriken, he let his clones keep the boar distracted while the weapon charged and as it's health dropped, threw the glowing, vibrating weapon directly at the beast, it impacted and a small explosion destroyed the shuriken and the boar fell over dead.
"You were a tough one." he said complimenting his foe. Sasuke and Sakura came over and joined him moments later, the last Mana Boar had proved to be little threat between the two of them and the clones he had sent.
"I had that one." Sasuke said pointing to the remains of Fiery Boar. Naruto considered pointing out that he clearly did not have that one, but decided to avoid another argument.
"I know you did, but since it was strong against your fire attacks I just thought I was a better fit for the fight was all. Besides, you and Sakura were awesome taking out the last boar!"
Sasuke grunted in response and Sakura beamed, though Naruto wondered if it was do to praise of her own skills, or the thought of her and Sasuke working together. Best not to dwell, hopefully she would come around.
"Sakura, have you ever heard of chakra mutations like these?" he asked.
"Not really, I mean chakra can do some strange things at times, but most mutations are simply stronger, larger, more aggressive versions of normal animals. There have been reports of some with elemental attacks but those are rare. If we take what Rikyu told us at face value, then there way more of these kind of beasts than normal mutation would account for."
He nodded, at this point he was starting to gain a decent education, but Sakura was still far more studied than he was.
"So I'm guessing you have to no idea what these are?" he said pointing to the white orbs near the bodies of the fallen.
"Not a clue."
"Well only one way to find out." he said reaching for the nearest sphere.
"Naruto! Those could be dangerous!"
"Oh. Right." he grinned sheepishly. Internally he was pretty sure his power would warn him, but better safe than sorry. He summoned a clone and had it pick it up.
"How does it feel?" Sakura asked the clone.
"It just feels like a smooth stone, I guess, it's a little tingly but it's not hurting me or anything."
The clone poked the orb with his finger and it suddenly burst like a bubble. The clone fell back and appeared to hit the ground hard enough to be dismissed. A small pile of items fell to the ground. A chime sounded.
Items Recovered: 23 copper, 2 light leather, 1 boar tusk
"What the hell was that?" asked Sasuke.
"It's...stuff?" commented Naruto
Both Sasuke and Naruto looked at Sakura. She looked back at them with the same confusion.
"Why are you guys looking at me? I've never heard of something like this either!"
"Well maybe you skipped that chapter?"
"I skipped the chapter on how mutations drop stuff from glowing orbs?"
"Maybe...not. Let's gather the rest of the orbs and see if they all have stuff in them.
Items Recovered: 152 copper, 5 light leather, 1 fire infused light leather, 2 boar tusks, 1 Natsu Root, 1 Ring of Lesser Flame.
Boars Slain 5/20
Root Acquired 1/12
Team 7 sat surrounding the pile of stuff not knowing quite what to make of it.
"I mean stuff doesn't just fall out of animals, it's not natural!" complained Sakura.
"Well we still have a mission, so we need to decide what we're doing with it."
"Maybe...we should just leave it? I mean we don't even know if it's safe." commented Sakura.
Sasuke picked up and looked over the some of the items, the small pile of coins were completely foreign to him, but if the metal was good it could be exchange for ryō at the village easily enough.
"I think it would be safe." he commented. "If the leather that...dropped...off the boars is as tough as the boars themselves it would make good light armor, that can be worth some money or I could commission an armorer to make something for myself maybe."
"I know a shop that could help with that." replied Naruto. Sakura looked at the two and sighed.
"Fine, I don't really see a reason not to take it either I guess, but how are we going to split it?"
"Well we can split the coins three ways, we don't know how much they are worth anyway. If you guys are okay with it I'll take the leather and tusks and show them to Tenten, she can tell me if they're good for armor or any money. That okay with you guys?"
They both nodded in response.
"If there are no objections I'll keep the root since I need it for my mission, but what about this? He said holding up the small ring. It was a simple design with a small glowing red crystal embedded in it, Naruto used Observe on the ring.
Ring of Lesser Flame: A small ring imbued with fire elemental magic. Gives a slight increase to flame based attacks.
"Hey Sasuke try this on!" he said throwing the ring to the Uchiha. Sasuke snatched it out of the air.
"Why are you giving me a ring?" he asked eying Naruto suspiciously.
Naruto sighed. "Because, teme, I want to test a hunch, put on the ring and try a fireball attack."
Sasuke shrugged his shoulders and put on the ring. He then stood and performed a basic fireball. Naruto watched carefully but felt disappointed when the attack looked the same as normal. Sasuke however had a perplexed look on his face.
"That was...easier than normal."
"What do you mean Sasuke?" asked Sakura.
"I didn't put a lot of chakra into the attack, it should have been smaller, but the energy seemed to just flow easier than normal."
Sakura glanced over at Naruto. "Naruto did you know that was going to happen?"
"Not really, but that ring dropped off the Fiery Boar so I thought it might do something."
"Ya know...cause it's a boar...that shoot's fire."
"I guess." Sakura replied.
"Who cares what their called!" said Sasuke. "You're going to let me just have this ring Naruto? Without fighting me over it?"
"Sure. It's not like me or Sakura have any elemental attacks anyway. You having the ring makes the best sense for the team, besides I know how much you want to be stronger than everybody else."
"It's not everybody! I just need to be stronger than him!" Sasuke nearly shouted.
Naruto didn't respond, instead just waiting a moment.
"Well, anyways, thanks."
Naruto grinned. "You actually said thanks, there may be hope for you yet teme."
Standing up, Naruto finished gathering the loot and then paused. Memories came flooding in from several clones who were being destroyed. They were all running into boars like the ones they had encountered or worse. Sakura saw the grimace on his face.
"What is it?"
"We need to get moving." he said summoning a few more squads of clones and had them filter out to replace the ones that were lost. "There are still a lot more of those things in the forest and if we don't hurry we'll not catch up with Sensei."
His teammates nodded and all three ran toward the meeting site.
Kakashi avoided a stream of needles hurling toward him and with a quick Shunshin appeared behind the boar who had attacked him and killed the beast with a powerful attack from a kunai. The last boar, in this pack at least, fell to the ground and like the others he had killed a white orb fell from it. The hunters he had interrogated had mentions this phenomenon but none of them had been brave enough to investigate, a wise precaution when dealing with something as peculiar as this. The jōnin however had more knowledge and had examined the strange orbs, what he had not expected was upon touching them was to have random items just appear, like some sort of reward for defeating the beast.
He has stored whatever he had found so far, with the intention of taking it back to the village for study later. Kakashi reflected on what he knew, while the boars were strange and more numerous than what he would expect for chakra mutations they were not near strong enough to pose him any worry, but the orbs were another matter, in all his years he had never heard of something quite like it, and the brand new could pose more dangers for a ninja than anything else if just because you don't know how to prepare for it.
For a moment he considered heading straight for his team instead of the intended rendezvous but immediately decided against it, his team was good enough to face anything he had run into so far and he would most likely make better time sticking to the original plan. Nothing in the orbs seemed dangerous, indeed many of the items would make a decent profit sold to the right vendors, but there was always a chance something dangerous could emerge. Kakashi gathered the new items from the fallen and started heading toward the suspected origin of the strange creatures. For a moment, another team's face flashed through his mind and he found himself moving faster.
"Someone please help!" a voice cried through the forest. Kakashi turned toward the sound, he could hear sound of battle in the distance, no one was supposed to be out here except for Team 7, but if some of the villagers had tried to go into the forest...Kakashi looked toward the direction of where he was to meet his team, he didn't want to leave them alone longer than necessary but his mission was to protect the villagers and despite his worries he felt that nothing was too dangerous for his team to face.
"Be careful guys, I'll be there soon." he whispered and turn rushing toward the sounds of battle.
Boars Slain 17/20
Root Acquired 8/12
Naruto was breathing heavy, the trek through the forest was hard but he was happy with how they were doing. Most of the boars they had encountered were just Mana Boars and after you knew to watch for their tricks they were not that hard to kill, the special boars were the one you had to watch out for. Fiery Boar had shown up again but also a couple of Quill Boars had appeared, they could shoot piercing quills at the Genin and some of them had special poisons on them as well. Luckily, they had not run into more boars than they could handle, thank Kami for Shadow Clones, while they were not durable enough to destroy a pack on their on they were still useful for letting him know where other packs were in the woods. Is that what a group of boars was called? He shook his head at the random thought. He was almost finished with the two minor quests in the area, but he still had not come across any sign of the missing child, not that any of them had the best skills for tracking, he swore when he got back to the village he would some time making sure he had more of the essential skills a shinobi might need.
Team 7 had acquired quite the stockpile of items, though nothing quite as good as Sasuke's ring, Naruto had been hoping for some sort of super cool weapon but the money they would make from selling this stuff would still be pretty cool. He finished catching his breath and looked at his team.
"Okay guys the next area will be the rendezvous, we need to be on our guard, Kakashi probably made it there before we did ,but if not, who knows what we'll run into?"
"Well if it somehow the source of all of this it will probably be a challenge." Sasuke said with a hungry grin.
"We should wait for Kakashi Sensei, shouldn't we Sasuke?" asked Sakura nervously.
"If he's not there he should have been faster. I say we go in and take out whatever is causing this mess."
"It's not your call Sasuke, it's mine, and as much as I would like to go in Kakashi Sensei would want us to wait, so we'll wait." replied Naruto. Naruto gave a glance at the Uchiha, he knew Sasuke still wanted to ditch them and go off on his on, would this be the moment?
"Fine...but he better hurry up."
Apparently not then. "He's probably there Sasuke, we better hurry up if we want anything to fight."
The trio got into formation and heading toward the goal on his mini-map. Naruto had a bad feeling about this, what could be causing animals like this to be roaming the country side? Would he be able to protect his team if it was too strong, Kakashi Sensei would most likely be there, but what if it was too strong for him? Naruto realized worrying was pointless, they would face whatever they would face and he would just have to be strong enough to keep everyone safe.
Naruto picked up his pace and felt his comrades doing the same.
It was time to find out what was causing the mystery of this place.
It didn't look like a den of evil.
In fact the clearing didn't look that different than any other part of the forest. The clearing was mostly bare of trees accept for a large oak with far reaching branches, the kind you would love to lay in as a kid. Team 7 was observing from a distance looking for their Sensei or any signs of the origin of the strange boars, they had zero luck on both accounts.
"Have your clones reported back anything Naruto?" Sakura whispered.
"None of them have dispelled so they haven't found anything." he replied watching the clearing. He had sent out a few clones to circle the clearing and find Kakashi, though Naruto thought he would have found them had he actually been there.
"Oh, do you think he's okay?"
"I don't think anything we ran into would even slow Sensei down Sakura."
"Then why isn't he here?"
"I don't know but I sure he'll be here soon." he said trying to reassure her. He understood and shared her nervousness, Kakashi really should have been here by now.
And then there were the new boars.
These boars were unlike any boars they had run into yet, the boars ranged in size but were covered in plant like growths, out of their skins there were branches, vines and leaves. Their hide mostly seemed to be covered in bark and Naruto would bet that it was acting like some sort of natural armor. What made them creepy though was how they moved, the other boars might also have unusual powers but for all that they did seem normal...or at least natural, these boars moved in an almost mechanical method as if something was guiding them along a preordained path. It was creepy.
Seedling Boar Lv 10: A transformed beast possessed by a seed of the vampiric Jubokko Tree, these poor animals are just puppets to the will of their flora overlord. The Jubokko Tree plants a seed in any low level creatures that near it eventually forcing them to dig their own grave planting another of it's kind. Skills: Demonic Bark Hide, Tree Limb Spear, Bloodvines.
Damn, they were strong, there were a mix of them between levels 10 to 13, and Naruto could not see any indication of this Jubokko Tree that was supposed to be controlling them, though looking at the pattern of the way they patrolled, he guessed it was the Oak. A chime sounded.
You have shown increased insight. Wisdom increased by 1.
New Quest: Defeat the Monster Oak: You have found the supposed origin of the boars who have been menacing Natsu barē, while you don't know if this demonic tree is responsible for the attacks on the village, something so dangerous cannot be allowed to exist near the village. Defeat the creature and reveal the source of the mystery of the strange boars. Reward 1000 exp. Items: Jubokko Staff. Large increase of reputation with Natsu barē.
The oak now had a sign above it listing it as the Jubokko Tree, but he still could not see it's level or observe it, he thought right now it was in some sort of stealth mode, so he had no way of knowing just how strong it was. Another worry what the quest text was red in color, most quests were green, the battle against the bandits was yellow and it was tough, that meant this would be extremely dangerous. Too dangerous.
They should pull back and wait for Sensei. Naruto made ready to give the order but he hesitated, he had never shied away from a quest yet and he didn't want to now. He supposed there was no reason for him to try it now, they could keep fighting in the woods until they leveled, a little bit more strength could make a world of difference, or they could backtrack along Kakashi's route and see what was keeping him. It he was helping Naruto had no worries they could clear this.
"What's that?" Sakura asked pointing toward the tree. There at it base lying among it's twisted roots was a small doll done up in the fashion of a warrior, the type a small child might carry, the missing child they had not seen a sign of since entering the forest.
Sasuke drew his weapon.
"Sasuke." Naruto warned.
Sasuke turned to him. "Are you telling me you're going to wait while that kid might be out there?"
"I...no I won't, we'll go, you okay with that Sakura?" he said turning toward his pink haired teammate. He was happy to see a firm serous look on her face.
"Of course, we can't let that couple down."
"Okay then we need to do this smart, first I'll send a few squads of clones into the boars, that will give us an idea of their attacks, also be careful of that tree."
"Why?" asked Sasuke.
"The boars are walking around it in a pattern, like their guarding it and if we can have boars with powers those no reason we can't have a tree with powers either."
Sasuke nodded. "That makes sense."
"Once the clones give us a idea what we're up against Sasuke and I will lead the charge, Sakura I want you to stay back and solely focus on illusions and healing, we've had a lot of practice fighting the other boars but I think these new ones are stronger than most and they're quite a few of them. I will keep spamming clones to keep us from getting overwhelmed but I'm going to need your help to keep them distracted and us on our feet."
Sakura nodded and briefly thought back to the conversation she had with Tenten about the support role, she wanted to lead the charge with the boys but she knew, for now at least, she was more valuable lending her strength to theirs.
Naruto looked at both of them. "I got a feeling this ones going to tough, watch each others back guys."
Three squads of clones rushed from different directions toward the Seedling Boars, each throwing weapons with Chakra Charge enhancing their damage. The boars started reacting the moment they became visible, the boars dividing into smaller packs to face each of the squads. Most of the weapons impacted, but they did distressingly little damage, the natural armor of the boar's hide and the bark covering did it's job well, the boars attacked back with each launching Tree Limb Spear at the clones.
Tree Limb Spear: This ability allows the Seedling to launch a natural spear at its target doing moderate damage. Be warned when used in conjunction with Bloodvines it's damage increases and it ignores 50% of it's targets armor.
The attack was strong but slow and most of the clones avoided them. Two were hit from the same squad and were instantly dispelled. The others danced among the Seedlings harassing them trying to tease out their attacks and fighting patterns. It wasn't long before they were rewarded, two more clones were dispelled when dark sickly looking vines entrapped two more of the clones and they seemed to last for a moment or two before dispelling.
Bloodvines: A deadly attack that allows the Seedling to grasp a target with thorn covered vines, rooting a target in place until the attack is disrupted. While rooted the vines drain blood through it's thorns healing the Seedling of damage and increasing the strength of Demonic Bark Hide and Tree Limb Spear.
"I got a feeling that we don't want to let those things grab us if we can help it." whispered Sakura. Naruto nodded in agreement. Should he tell them the details of the attacks. Sakura was already becoming curious about his increased skills and knowledge, but maybe it was enough that they knew the attack existed, wasn't that part of the point of shadow clones after all?
The clones had not managed do kill any of the boars, indeed they had not actually done much in the way of damage at all, but Naruto thought they had enough information to defeat them if it wasn't for that damed tree! Maybe it wasn't going to actually attack them? He laughed at his own joke, well they were committed now, might as well attack and see what it had in store for them.
Naruto summoned two more squads of clones and threw some smoke bombs out into the field. The clouds of smoke obscured most of the Seedlings except for a few that Naruto had designated as their first targets. Naruto felt his chakra pulse through his body as he rushed into the battlefield with Sasuke to his right and Sakura behind them. The squads would follow the previous tactics they had used against the Mana Boars, attack some of the boars from a distance while Naruto and Sasuke focused their attack on one boar left behind.
As they ran across the ground Tree Limb Spear attacks came out of the smoke, but this was expected and easily avoided, the clones rushed ahead drew off two of the clones just as planned. Sakura cast Displacement on the targeted boar so it wouldn't be able to fight back properly, Naruto thought this was most likely overkill but he wanted to minimize any surprises that might come at them. It worked exactly as planned, the Seedling was unprepared and the young genin attacked with a fury slicing as quickly as they could into the protected hide of the beast. It took longer than than it had with any of the other boars but they were able to lower it's health at a acceptable rate. Naruto got in the finishing blow with kunai into the things eye which dropped a considerable chunk of the beast health before killing it.
I will need to remember that thought Naruto.
That's when things went bad.
The ground rumbled and the oak, which had up until this point had still appeared to be a normal tree, began to move and stretch. Several of it branches seemed to form massive arms which waved away the lingering smoke produced by the bombs, on the trunk of the oak a very human looking face appeared with a very repugnant grin on it's face. More than that what Naruto could now see the level of tree above it.
Level 25. Crap.
It had a twelve level lead on Sasuke, fifteen for him, and Sakura shouldn't even be near this thing! They had to get out of here! Naruto saw that was quickly not a option as the other Seedlings began to surround Team 7, they were still at a distance but they would not be able to make it to the tree line. And then the tree spoke.
"Finally! Some Adventurers! I thought this land to be devoid of them. You three are a little young and scrawny looking though. Bah! Beggars can't be choosers I suppose, but please do me a favor of putting up a decent fight before I feast on your souls would you? It makes the blood taste all the more sweeter." The face grinned and cackled at it's own words.
Jubokko Tree Lv 25: Born from a ancient battlefield where a young tree feasted on the blood and mana from hundreds of fallen troops. The tree devoured the darker impulses of the men who died and was transformed into a Mana Demon. This demon feeds on the blood and mana of it's victims to grow in power. It's able to extend it's reach by implanting seeds of itself into victims, transforming them into Seedlings that go out to do it's bidding, it can also use those same Seedlings to plant itself in a new location or avoid true death. Many a adventurer has fallen to this monster's power. Skills: Greater Demonic Bark Hide, Blood Soaked Spear, Twisted Bloodvines, Fertilizer, Death Root Dance.
"Naruto! The creepy tree is talking!" yelled Sakura.
"I heard. Stay away from it! It looks really powerful. Try to focus on the boars and we'll deal with him after." Even after the tree had started talking Sasuke had stayed on point attacking the next boar. Naruto summoned three more squads to run interference against the other boars and tried to back up Sasuke on the new target.
"So the blonde is the leader of your little group huh? You know, a proper party of adventurers at least has five members in it. You only have three and I can tell the pink hair is weak. Tell me...Naruto is it? How will you feel when you see your friends die?"
Naruto spun from his attack launching kunai at the tree. "I will never let my comrades die!" he shouted back.
The tree laughed, letting the weapons strike it's hard bark, the damage was negligible.
"I knew it! You were one of those Hero types. I'll tell you what Naruto. I will consume you last. The despair on you while I feast upon your friends will make you taste all the better."
"Naruto! Stay focused. He is trying to keep you off-balance. Stay on your target!" shouted Sasuke. Sasuke was attacking his Seedling frantically, he may have confidence in his abilities but he couldn't help but think that maybe they should have waited, this fight might be more than they could handle.
"Not really human, I could care less whatever strategies you chose to employ, the three of you are just too weak to actually threaten me. Here let me show you!"
The Jubokko Tree's eyes flashed red and blood covered branches broke off and flew and the genin forcing them to dodge to the side away from their target. Worse, the Seedlings that were engaging the clones each launched their own Tree Limb Spear attack destroying a few of the clones but mostly filling the air with projectiles.
Blood Soaked Spear: The stronger version of Tree Limb Spear, this spear is more powerful and soaked in the blood of the victims of the Jubokko Tree. 25% chance of poison and ignores 50% of armor. When used in conjunction with Twisted Bloodvines damage increases and poison now has a 50% chance and armor reduction goes up to 100%.
He commanded the Seedlings to attack, thought Naruto but they didn't seem to be aiming very well. Does that show a limit to his control?
"Aiee!" screamed Sakura. Both Naruto and Sasuke turned to see Sakura wrapped in the Bloodvines from one of the Seedlings. Naruto saw her life draining and the Seedling, who had taken some damage from the clones, start to gain health in return. Sickeningly Naruto could actually see blond start to ooze from the bark armor covering the boar.
"Sasuke!" Naruto yelled, and not waiting for a response, rushed to attack the boar, he was grateful to hear Sasuke just half a step behind him. Naruto stabbed into the side of the boar but did almost no damage.
Demonic Bark Hide: Tree bark grows from the skin of Seedling, granting it a increased natural armor. Be warned the armor rating increases when the used in conjunction with Bloodvines.
Sasuke more wisely attacked the vines, severing the connection from the Seedling and Sakura, the pink haired genin stumbled for a moment but righted herself. The attack had done little actual damage but Naruto small cuts on her arms and blood running from several light wounds. Naruto raised his kunai again and this time struck the boar right in the eye just like he had earlier by passing the armor and cutting the beast's health down by almost half. It screamed in pain and tried to turn for an attack but Naruto jumped back to give himself some space. Sasuke rushed in and attacked, the effects of Bloodvines had faded and he was able to dispatched the beast.
"So the eyes are a good weak point-" he was cut off as something slammed into his side knocking him to the ground. A bloody spear flew above where he was just standing. Sakura had seen the attack and got him out of the way just in time.
"Thanks Sakura-chan!" he said enthusiastically.
"Don't thank me yet!" she said pointing to the oncoming Seedlings who were getting around his thinning ranks of clones. Sakura got off of Naruto and he pushed himself to his feet summoning more squads of clones to engage the boars. This time, however, he sent one squad to watch Sakura to make sure she was protected.
"I don't need protection!" she protested.
"You're our healer." he countered and there was no more time to argue as several Seedlings were surrounding both him and Sasuke forcing them to stay back to back fighting the boars back to back.
"Kept it up Naruto. Buy your friends a few more precious minutes, just don't think I will avoid the battle." The eyes glowed again signaling a attack.
The ground rumbled.
A dark something erupted from the ground beneath Naruto and Sasuke forcing them to dodge, not just that attack, but the ones from the Seedlings as well.
Death Root Dance: A powerful area attack, by exciting the blood running through it's roots the Jubokko Tree can cause them to randomly pierce up through the ground attacking any potential target around the battlefield. While this attack can harm the Jubokko Tree's own forces, if an adventurer is hit by it they can sustain massive health loss.
Much as it's description implied there didn't seem to be much in the way of targeting, several of his clones were destroyed but at least two of the Jubokko's Seedlings were dispatched by the same attack. Naruto thought it was a dangerous move if it hurt your allies as much as your enemies, which either meant that Demon Tree was a poor tactician...or it really didn't consider him or his team a threat in the slightest.
"If you pay attention you can feel the roots before they emerge!" shouted Sakura.
Naruto realized she was right, the ground started to raise slightly just before the root pierced through the surface, if you focused you could feel the shift and dodge the attack, or course feeling the shift while dodging every other attack might prove to be a bit much. Sakura might not be adding much to direct combat but her mind and observational skills were sharp.
"Good job Sakura! Keep an eye out for anything else!" he replied. Sakura nodded as she finished healing the small wounds on her own arms.
"We need to do some wider damage." commented Sasuke. Naruto nodded, knowing what he intended. The Death Root Dance was dangerous but it had helped them more than anything else since it allowed Naruto and Sasuke to regroup and keep from completely overwhelmed.
"Try and hit the tree too, we have to defeat him if we're going to win this." replied Naruto. Sasuke nodded acknowledging the order. Naruto signaled his clones to hold the line and try to group the Seedlings together.
The clones did their best trying to push the boars back, when they were close enough together Sasuke jumped and launched a powerful Fireball at his enemies. It might have been the ring but Naruto could tell the fireball was a bit stronger than normal, though it still took a large chunk of Sasuke's mana bar. His chakra pool would not be able sustain many attacks of that type.
He hoped it was worth it, the flames rolled across the ground, destroying the clones who were keeping the boars in check, continuing on hitting most of the boars he had been aiming for and, finally, rolling right into the Jubokko Tree. The tree's human face grimaced and it covered it's face with it's branch like hands. For a moment the flames and smoke hid their enemy from view. Naruto watched as the Jubokko Tree's health dropped by about 15% from the strength of the attack.
"That wouldn't have killed him guys!" Naruto warned reminding his team to stay on guard.
"Indeed a small flame attack like that barely warms my bark." commented the Jubokko Tree. "Though I will give you credit for actually causing me to actually take some damage. That is easily rectified."
The tree reached down and grabbed the most damaged of the Seedlings, the small boar squealed in terror as the it was pulled toward the mouth of the tree, which had now stretched to a monstrous size to accommodate its prey. There was a sickening sound of crunching bones and flesh as the boar was popped into the tree's mouth whole. Naruto saw the precious damage they had managed to do restored in a moment.
Fertilizer: Even a savvy adventurer who manages to hurt the Jubokko Tree should watch out for this skill. If the tree is injured it can reach out and consume one it's Seedlings restoring a large amount of it's health.
Naruto had no time to think on the attack as the ground rumbled again he felt the ground shift beneath him and he had his friends starting dodging Death Root Dance again.
AN: So abrupt ending right? Anyways I thought I would keep up with story recommendations since people liked that so here's a new one.
Introverted by Shadenight123
Review: A darker take on Naruto where instead of being the happy go lucky ninja we all love; he's now a broken person barley holding himself together. It's 65 chapters and the story is complete. I personally highly recommend it. It's one of my favorite fics.