Naruto: Wind Monk Banishment - Fox Chronicles
Chapter 3: Duel with Shizuka
With Naruto – The Past
Naruto's eyebrow shot up at the request. "I'm sorry?"
"Allow me to explain," Tokiwa went on about the promise of their apprentices dueling for each other's hand in marriage…or death, and how Jiraiya had screwed him over in his younger years.
Damn you Pervy Sage! Naruto heard the Sabo chuckling in delight at that. "Listen, about that…"
"I must protest," the Instructor interrupted. "As his representative, I cannot allow him to do so. The sins of a master cannot be transferred over to a student. In addition, Uzumaki is no longer a shinobi, therefore the promise his former master made can no longer apply to him."
"Sorry, Tokiwa-san, Shizuka-san, but he's right. What the pervert promised was only applicable if I was a Konoha shinobi and thankfully I'm not anymore."
Naruto walked off with the others as Tokiwa looked on. She had no intention of giving up after finally finding the apprentice of that man. After all, it was for the good of the village and the only way for Shizuka to move on.
"So you were trained by a sage?" Sabo asked. The group in general was bundled together in a single large room, but the instructor was preoccupied with other business.
"Sage or not, I wouldn't know," Naruto answered while keeping his focus on the desk in front of him as he worked on more seals. There was a knife he picked up on the way back lying on the table as well. He needed something else in case he couldn't settle things with a seal and wasn't confident in his Taijutsu yet. His growth spurt hadn't kicked in and he still lacked some power behind his punches. "I trained with him for a few weeks at best."
"What was it like?" Mina asked out of curiosity. "Sages are rare and even monks rarely ascend to that level during a lifetime. Their balance with nature is said to be so in tune that the world itself empowers them and becomes one with them."
"He never did anything that could be considered sage-like to me. He only taught me one jutsu and had me sign a summoning contract for Toads…then he tossed me off a huge cliff and into a ravine."
Kino scoffed. "You're kidding, right?"
Naruto leveled a stare at him. "I'm not. If I didn't have enough chakra in my reserves to summon the Toad Boss, then I would've died. He took a gamble that just so happened to work looking back."
"I call bull," he rebutted Naruto's words. "I've done my research on shinobi techniques and know that when you summon a boss, you need more chakra than normally available to most shinobi. No fourteen year old would have the amount of chakra needed."
"I wasn't normal," Naruto said coldly, his finger set ablaze with chakra as he inscribed a seal into the knife's blade. "The amount of chakra I have on a normal day could surpass an elite jounin. The cost was that my control was shot to hell and back—once I start pouring it into a technique, I couldn't stop. That's why I always do chakra control exercises."
"A lot of good it did you if you were kicked out of your village," Kino muttered.
Thunk! Naruto stabbed the newly engraved blade into the wood of the desk in aggravation. He had good hearing. "Look asshole, I've been incredibly patient—for me anyway—and I'm trying to ignore those smartass comments you keep sending my way out of respect for the Old Monk, but you keep up the insults and I'm going to show you what it feels like to get hit by a Rasengan.
"You've probably got some sob story that I'm not privy to and it's probably got something to do with Konoha, but I'll be damned if I turn myself into a punching bag for you to work out your issues, not after that pink banshee. That Naruto died on his way into the desert. Now if you quit making jabs and sit down to talk about it, maybe we can discuss this like rational people."
"I've got nothing to talk to you about," Kino replied.
"Fine by me," Naruto pulled the steel from the wood and sheathed it. Making his way to the door to use the bathroom at the end of the corridor, he continued. "Rather than being a coward, either you speak up or you keep your mouth shut."
On his way to the bathroom, he crossed a corridor that passed by the garden and found Tokiwa waiting for him.
"So, that's what you look like without a face mask," she said calmly.
"Wow, you are persistent…" Naruto leaned against the railing with a blank stare. "If you've come to try and convince me to fight then I'll have to turn you down."
"I see," her voice didn't change but the friendly atmosphere wavered a bit. "Very well, then I'll have to go to Konoha and talk to him about it. In the process, they may learn of your affiliation and begin to dispatch ANBU to ensure any secrets of Konoha are not unveiled."
Naruto gritted his teeth. He felt the scarlet haze of anger wash over him, but he controlled his rage in order to play it off. "So you've decided to blackmail me with the knowledge that you know who I'm affiliated with. And here I thought you were fairly straight forward as a kunoichi."
"I prefer the direct method," she said with her voice straight-laced and crossed her arms. "As much as I would dislike interfering in your affairs, my village comes first and I feel that Shizuka-sama needs to realize herself through an encounter with you."
"What make you think a former Genin would elicit enough attention to warrant their interest?" He asked. "I wasn't anyone special or belonged to a clan. I have nothing beyond basic knowledge that any rookie infiltrator would."
"While Genin are low in the system, they are a part of a military force," she answered. "Being banished may have been the equivalent of a dishonorable discharge, but you still hold a strong connection to the Sannin to utilize one of their techniques. They won't let such matters pass easily."
Naruto clicked his teeth. The Rasengan was merely an advance chakra control technique but it still qualified. "Why the hell are you so intent on having me fight her?"
"For her, destiny has declared she will marry a disciple of the Toad Sage. Only by facing that destiny head on will she be able to grow and eventually lead our village to prosperity."
"Despite the fact that we could kill one another?" Naruto pointed out. "Chances are she'll kill me in combat. You're willing to get someone uninvolved killed for the sake of your village?"
Her eyes hardened. "That's what it means to be a shinobi or kunoichi. Innocent or guilty, we do what is best for our village, and Nadeshiko needs a strong leader. I won't lie and say that the chances of her killing you aren't fairly great."
"I became a shinobi to earn respect," Naruto told her. "For a village that ignores a child and kicks him out of an orphanage for simply living, I held no love for Konoha. There are only a handful of people even worth considering the village in a positive light and those were who I'd protect."
He sighed. "It's not like I'm getting anything out of this, but whatever. We won't get anywhere with philosophical discussion, so I'll do your stupid match. But the time and place are where I set them."
Tokiwa agreed. "That is acceptable."
Some Time Later
The sun peaked over the shoreline as Shizuka of Nadeshiko and her mentor Tokiwa made their way to the battlefield chosen by their opponent. It was a distant bank of sand that bordered the ocean, where the head wrapped jinchuuriki sat down, the cloak and cowl hiding his closed eyes and his breathing was calm. The distance from the port city ensured that no one sensed the battle that was going on and no one would get hurt besides the two combatants.
Shizuka subconsciously shifted the pouch containing her tools as she thought of the upcoming battle. From what she had seen at the previous battle he was an alright opponent for her skill set, but he didn't demonstrate anything resembling an elemental affinity or weapon specialty—barring the typical use of a kunai, but he was a former shinobi so that was expected. What made him so special that her destiny said she would have to marry him upon losing?
She supposed it didn't matter in the end. While she didn't know how her mentor had gotten him to agree to this match, she had no intention of losing. If he was too weak, he would die and if he was strong enough to best her then she would follow the laws and duty of her village and marry him.
Shizuka had closed her heart after her beloved Sagiri's death, quietly accepting that it was her fault in the end that he died. She went against her village's laws, falling in love with a simple merchant rather than obliging her duty of marrying one stronger than her. If she hadn't loved him, then he would have been a thriving merchant she was sure. He wouldn't be with her, but he would have been alive. So she threw herself into training, becoming as strong as she presently was by the sheer determination to adhere to her duty.
As Shizuka took a position in front of the monk-in-training, who finally stood up, she measured the distance between them. It was six meters, hardly anything at all, and once the iron walls came crashing down courtesy of her mentor playing overseer and forming the perimeter of the battlefield, she nodded to her mentor to signal her readiness for combat.
Tokiwa returned the nod and then focused on the boy. "Are you ready, Monk-sama?"
"Anytime," the boy said. Shizuka noted his voice held was rather calm barring a twinge of annoyance.
Tokiwa nodded and then began the match.
Naruto had to admit he really didn't want to do this. He disliked having someone blackmail him and spent the time he had before the pair arrived going over the deal with the fox to ensure his cooperation. He immediately dismissed the notion of throwing the match since it was clear with the first move she made that she wasn't going to hold back and, after having fought alongside her somewhat against that jounin from mist, they both knew she was far more capable than him in both short and long range.
What's new there? Naruto mentally sighed. Since when hadn't he been pitted against opponents who should by all rights be far above his skill level? After all, if he only fought people weaker than him then life would be fair and, for Naruto, that was like the moon reflected in the pond—even if such a thing looked close, it was an illusion he could never reach.
The kunoichi began with a dance of steel that rained kunai at him, a steady flow of projectiles that were frighteningly accurate and forced him to be nimble on his feet or suffer the consequences as the sharp steel occasionally punched through his cloak and grazed the flesh beneath. Trickles of blood flowed from the wounds before they were healed just as quickly until the rain stopped.
The jinchuuriki moved, sweeping his arms and unleashing a barrage of azure needles made of chakra as he spun. The first sweep went high and the second sweep went low. The sheer abundance of them ensured that he would hit and she could only avoid by jumping up or blocking. If she jumped, she wouldn't be able to dodge as he fired from below again. Therefore…
Shizuka exhaled with puckered lips, wind-chakra lacing the expelled air. Her Gale Fan kicked up a torrent of sand that followed the surge of wind. It was a fearsome precision blast that would slam into him like a wall.
Naruto jumped to the side to avoid the stream of air and sand, only to have it follow him as she turned her head. So he kept running to the side, closing in at an angle and pulling out his knife. With a quick side dash he managed to get close enough to attempt to stab her.
Shizuka avoided the stab and slipped behind him to deliver a merciless round kick into his ribs and knock him against the wall. Her fist was laced with wind chakra and followed up with an attempt to crush his head. Instead her fist punched deep into the iron wall as Naruto ducked and spun on his heel.
He raised his knife to strike again and thrust to her face—
WHAM! He was sent spinning like a pinwheel as she shifted from a wind-chakra charged punch to upwards kick. Landing on all fours, he saw several shuriken hover in place with a layer of wind chakra coating them to expand their range and lethality.
Naruto charged as they were thrown towards him. Slipping into a slide, he sheathed the knife as he slid under the shurikens and their extended range. Once past them he went into a spin and unraveled a scroll.
Shizuka's went wide as she recognized it and threw her arms up before a torrent of water poured out like a burst dam. The seal unleashed all the water it had absorbed from the fight against the missing-nin, effectively hitting her with the attack from before. It sent her tumbling onto the ground…where she noticed the expanding shadow beneath her.
Naruto descended with a Rasengan in hand, aiming for the center of her torso. "RASENGAN!"
She rolled out of the way as the monk-in-training slammed the spiraling sphere of chakra into the dampened sand and scattered it, splattering her wet figure and clothes with clumps of clingy and heavy sand. Her foot coated itself in wind-chakra and came around in a horizontal crescent, cleaving through the space as he leapt back to avoid the attack while unleashing another barrage of Chakra Needles.
Unable to avoid them all in her position, she shielded her vital organs and head, allowing them to bury into her flesh and draw blood. The attack as it was had too little penetrative power to do anything crippling as long as she didn't receive a hit in vital spot or a pressure point. A quick flare of her chakra purged them and she stood, reaching into her pouch for another set of kunai.
"You're going to run of tools and chakra well before I do," Naruto told her in an almost bored tone.
"Then I'll simply need to destroy your heart or head before then," she responded.
With the opening of the match out of the way, the two really went at it.
Shizuka felt like her lungs were on fire. She took a deep breath of air as a drop of sweat fell from her forehead and trailed down her cheek. Her emerald eyes were focused solely on the boy in front of her, wondering if it had been minutes or hours since they had begun.
The opponent by all means should have been killed or at least incapacitated. He was a mere boy with some talent, but he himself seemed to regard this duel as merely unpleasant business that he would rather end now.
"Wind Style: Divine Down Current!" She continued her attack and a vortex of wind tore down the path towards him. He darted to the side, his cloak being caught at the edges and torn by the force of its passing as he pressed on and she made her next move to stop him from getting in close again. "Wind Style: Divine Wind!"
Several small tornadoes came into existence and began to circle the jinchuuriki, picking of sand and becoming a sand storm that closed in on him. Sealing him within a prison of spiraling wind that would grate and grind him from all sides, she—
—could only be shocked when there was a flash of azure charka so great it seemed like a newborn star coming into creation and scattered the sand and wind everywhere. She covered her eyes to avoid being blinded and took a step back—
"Ah!" Shizuka's eyes widened as she found herself backed against one of the iron wall panels and the monk emerged from the sand spout with a knife in his hand and neutral chakra flowing through it. The knife drew a luminous arc as it tore into the iron walls, shearing a deep furrow into the metal and a few strands of Shizuka's hair as she ducked.
"Enough!" Channeling wind chakra into her fist she drove it towards his chest. The blow was strong enough to completely turn his organs and ribcage into a mess of pounded viscera and powdered bones if he hadn't intercepted it by catching the wrist with his other hand to redirect it, at the same time applying a chakra-venting seal patch to her skin that was hidden on his palm.
The blossom of wind chakra from the vent hindered her technique, but her sheer strength and remaining chakra was enough to knock him a good distance back on impact. The jinchuuriki went rocketing to the opposite side of the makeshift arena and slammed into one of the panels. The knife fell from his grip and blood spilled through his face wrapping on impact, seeping through from where he coughed it up and tasted the bitter iron flavor. He was really taxing his healing factor and he was damn sure he was going to be feeling it for the next few days. At least he managed to avoid having his heart torn from the arteries by directing the blow lower.
Shizuka tore off the seal and felt the creeping horror of chakra exhaustion consuming her. Her attention snapped to the sight of her enemy approaching, already on his feet with the sphere of coalesced chakra in hand. Forcing herself to stand she reached for her tools…only to discover she had indeed ran out.
The jinchuuriki charged sensing her inability to prolong the fight anymore, determined to end this in a single blow. "Eat this!"
Gritting her teeth, she channeled the remnants of what chakra she had into her clenched fist. Pouring determination into her weary body, she let loose a battle cry as she charged with her fist chambered to meet the opponent head first. "Hardliner—"
"RASENGAN!|GALE FIST!" The crossing of chakra and chakra, one riding on a fist and the other spinning in hand, signaled the end of the battle. With her longer reach, she would strike deeper. She would win!
…at least she would have, if the jinchuuriki hadn't abandoned his attack. Dissipating the sphere of chakra and leaning back deep enough to form a bridge out of his body, he avoided the lethal blow of the Gale Fist. And then he brought his foot up from below.
She saw it coming, but could do nothing to stop it. The kick struck her chin and snapped her head back, the whiplash of it enough to rattle her brain and drop her to her knees. As the world spun, she felt the despair of loss overcoming her once again and fell into a sea of black…
Tokiwa watched as the match ended with mixed feelings, her charge taken down after a surprisingly long battle and the boy who seemed to tank or skirt around any and everything she threw at him. With the match over she landed by Shizuka, whose consciousness was slowly returning.
"I…lost…" Shizuka wheezed as her mentor used a healing technique to alleviate the damage done while her enemy sat cross-legged next to her.
"Yeah," he stated. "You might have been stronger than me, but you gave me too much time and advantage when you let me select the terms of the duel. All I really had to do was outlast you until you fell down to my level."
She lost despite everything. The realization left her bitter. "The village law…"
"Has nothing to do with me." Naruto finished for her. "Let's get something straight. Say that we followed that law and got married, would that make you happy?"
"It wouldn't," she admitted.
Naruto nodded. "For starters, if you forced us into a relationship, there would only be friction between us because neither of us wants that. Besides, I'm not a shinobi anymore, so you didn't lose to the apprentice of the Toad Sage. You lost to someone who's fighting against a lifetime of misery and their destiny of being someone who swears themselves to a leader, village, or duty that they have no love for."
Tokiwa listened in silently as the boy spoke, eyes weighing her charge's reaction. So far so good.
"From my point of view, that law is what you should have been fighting against than rather than me," Naruto said tiredly. "As long as it is in place, you or someone else will eventually run into the same problem again. Killing me would have only delayed the problem rather than fix it, an easy way out for the moment."
"I…" The words didn't come out as easily. She already knew that. She was but one of many who had been strangled by the hands of an outdated law that many others loathed and yet never sought to change. At the same time she would be condemning him as well to the shackles of a village.
Seeing as the conversation ended there, Tokiwa tossed a scroll to Naruto. When she saw his expression, she explained. "As you said, there was nothing for you to gain from that battle. So I'm offering the techniques listed on that scroll. They would probably be well suited to you."
Naruto put away the scroll after browsing the contents and nodded. "And my status with the Leaf?"
"We've never met should there ever be an encounter between our two villages," she confirmed and then left after lifting her future leader to carry away. "Live well, Monk-sama."
Naruto replaced his face wrappings that formed a mask, retrieved his knife, and made his way back to his hotel. Boatload of chakra or not, he was exhausted and just wanted to get some rest.
"I'm going to make things right," Shizuka promised her mentor as she faded back into the black. "I'll get rid of the law and fight it. For Sagiri and the others. I'll become a stronger leader for our village, to make it a happier place where I can fight for it out of love rather than just duty..."
"I know, Shizuka-sama…" Tokiwa stated softly. "I know."
More Time Later
Naruto spent the rest of the time studying the scroll in private until the time for the meeting with the Daimyo came. He was a rather…well-fed individual, to say the least, and somewhat jovial during the meeting. However, the biggest shock that came was when he asked to speak to Naruto alone.
"So, you're Naruto Uzumaki?" he said with mirth. "Come now, there's no need for you to hide you face when speaking to me."
Naruto took off the makeshift facemask and could only blink in confusion. "You know of me?"
"After that fiasco with the failed invasion that got my predecessor ousted? Of course boy," he said. "One of the first things I did was read up on how the situation spiraled out of control and young Gaara's report. Not many people are capable of summoning a Boss Toad and defeating Gaara…in addition, the Head Monk is very thorough in his reports on everyone's progress since they may end up in my service at one point or another. Sealing experts are hard to come by."
"I see…" was all the jinchuuriki could say.
"To be honest, you and young Kino have both been selected as potential candidates for positions in the Eight Wind Spades in the future. Please keep up your efforts, as I would not mind having you in my service one of these days."
"I will, Damiyo-sama," Naruto responded as politely as he could.
Before anything else could be said, a young woman entered the room. "Yes, sweetheart?"
"I want to go shopping," she said.
"Very well," the Daimyo consented and ended the meeting. "Until we meet again."
Naruto put back on his mask and went to join the group and say goodbye to Namisar. It was time they got back to the other monks, where the Head Monk would be. Naruto doubted he would be pleased over the course of the events that had transpired and he himself found this entire fiasco a pain itself, but it was a necessary step for him to take in finding a direction in his life.