Characters: Shodai Hokage, Nidaime Hokage
Word Length: 2,030
Description: Two brothers, a quest, and a dream fulfilled.
Author's notes: Written for my good friend dark1977. Happy Holidays!
"Everything is possible to him who believes."
To me it felt like we'd been walking for years, but Brother showed no signs of fatigue.
Fire country was indeed beautiful, the land of our birth, and the land that we were sworn to protect—even if the oath was sworn only to each other, our ancestors, and our meager band of followers. In the beginning Brother and I had been enough to ensure peace, but the land was growing and changing, giving birth to new Feudal Lords and politics that encroached on the peace and prosperity we dreamed were possible.
We honed our skills and developed our techniques, mastering the ancient ninja arts in order to protect that which was—and will always be— precious to us: the lives of our comrades, and the sovereignty of our country.
Brother was the one who came up with a plan. Anyone who met him could tell he was a genius, though most had no concept of the extent of his true abilities. He was modest, never letting on that his brain could calculate the exact speed of a hawk swooping through the trees after a fleeing hare, and could aim his kunai to hit both between the eyes to provide food, feathers, and fur with little waste.
He didn't boast about his ability to memorize information in an instant, shown to us only by the way he consumed the ancient ninja teachings passed down to us in brittle scrolls and spoken legends, and how he then recited it back to us verbatim—Brother knew everything there was to know, and this knowledge made him more powerful than the average person would ever suspect.
And so it followed that our band of ninjas had excellent scouts. There had been reports for weeks about forces moving in neighboring lands, subtle threats to Fire Country linked to trade and diplomacy. The Daimyo had guards and a small military at his command, but Brother knew it wasn't enough. Our shinobi were invaluable, unequaled. But our situation was inadequate—it didn't take a genius to see that Brother was right about what would happen if other things didn't change, or if the changes weren't guided by the right hands.
I had the luxury of being his younger sibling and so it didn't surprise me when Brother took me aside and told me what he intended to do, and where he intended to go after meeting with our Country's new Daimyo. The Daimyo wasn't a genius, but then I never once thought Brother would fail to gain the official sanction to create the first Hidden Ninja Village the world would never see.
We set out immediately.
Brother and I were still young; I'd wager the Daimyo had no idea Brother was a mere nineteen years from the way he carried all that knowledge and power, the inheritance of our ancestral shinobi. At seventeen, I also stood tall for my age, and had my own position of leadership amongst our followers and students. However it was Brother who led us, and to Brother I willingly submitted all my strength and love.
I could guess some of what he looked for as we walked throughout Fire Country, and knew why he'd pause and decide to set camp for a few days—those places tugged at my guts with their potential, although I couldn't always tell why he rejected them in the end. But I didn't question Brother; it wasn't our way.
We traveled for close to six months before we came to a wide, scrubby plain, sheltered on one side by a giant cliff of rock. Something in the land thrummed; it was unlike anything I'd ever felt, tingling on my palms like the answer to some great promise. Fate. Brother met my eyes, and the corner of his mouth turned upward—I knew this was the place even as I knew we'd test it all the same.
On the seventh day we scaled the face of the mountain and stood at the uppermost ridge to survey our promised land, prepared to claim it once and for all time. Below us sparse trees stretched across dune-like hills, spreading out over the flatland in the distance in green-gray speckles. The closest human inhabitants were far beyond our sight, hardly close enough to be considered neighbors; we had plenty of open space in which to stay hidden, a people of shadows, a future community of ninjas.
"Are you ready?" Brother asked me, and I nodded—this is what we'd trained for since we were small boys, this is what we were called to do, as men, and as shinobi. The sun was reaching its apex, and we bathed in its warmth and light, hearts united in a single purpose.
Brother stood at the center edge of the rock, eyes closed. I stood at his right; I could feel him gathering his vast chakra, whipping my silver hair into my eyes as it swirled about his form. His hands flashed through seals and the chakra grew even more—I raised my left arm to shield my vision from the sudden wind, unwilling to miss the sight of Brother's unique jutsu as it changed the land at our feet.
It was a sound like rolling thunder as the earth trembled and a forest burst forth. The dun of the naked ground was clothed with the calligraphy of trunks and branches, a whirlpool of bark and knobby limbs across that great, vast space. Veins stood out on Brother's temples, his long hair unbound and furious at his back while his energy continued to build and build, filling our land to the edges with thick, deep woods, founded upon a solid underground root system.
I might have been the only one who knew how long he'd trained as a young boy to blend the elements of chakra he possessed until he was exhausted and weak, smiling even as he slept and recovered, and then did it all again. There were no records left to us of such a jutsu; it was something Brother discovered and developed as we trained in elemental manipulation, possibly the only ninja in existence with such an ability. Our parents were dead, our teachers offering lessons only through the remnants of recorded evidence they'd made when alive—but still, we pressed on. And because of Brother's determination, our small village never lacked for lumber to repair the roofs that blew off in sudden rainstorms or tornadoes.
His was a constructive energy, and the mountaintop itself seemed to glow from it. Heat and wind and life enveloped us and flowed outward, the landscape below blooming in the pale greens of new leaves and tender sprigs of plants and grass, ferns and foliage and the lushness born from a great dream. Brother focused and controlled it all with the purity of his will, careful from his years of study to leave room for future generations of great trees and enough space at the foot of the mountain for our people to build up a great nation of warriors.
The forest spread as far as our eyes could see, and then the pressure on my eardrums eased and I knew Brother was letting go of that energy so that only he would remain. I turned to him as the swirling of his chakra dissipated, moving closer to offer my arm on which to steady himself. He was drenched in sweat from the effort, but his heart was light and the sparkle in his eye was contagious. He clapped me on the arm and squeezed my elbow with his strong hand, shaking from the loss of so much chakra at one time, yet even after all he'd done, Brother remained upright.
We stood together, silent, and then Brother squeezed my elbow once more and our eyes met.
"It's your turn, little brother."
I nodded and moved to stand where he had stood, on that high ridge of rock under the warmth of the midday sun. Brother pointed over my shoulder, directing my gaze. "Start it up there."
"So it shall be done," I replied, and closed my eyes, imitating Brother as I so often did.
My chakra was cool, fresh, different than Brother's but close in power, swirling around us in an almost icy haze. I called it to the center of my body, urging it to swell and flow throughout me until I simply could not hold it in. I made the seals and held it tight—pulsing, rushing, a tidal wave of energy that screamed between my ears in a plea to let the dam burst—
And so I did.
Water—so much water that my whole body shook from the rippling waves of the chakra producing it. It shot from the ground below us in a triple-geyser, springing hot from the core of the earth and rising in clouds of steam that glittered with fragile rainbows. I urged the water to flow, to spread, to cut a snaking riverbed from its source at the top of what would soon become our village down across the rolling hills and over the flat plain towards the horizon.
Brother created the forest, and I fed it—the cooler water of the new river's rapids nourished the earth and urged on the growth of healthy, hardy leaves and the fragile seeds needed to keep it all alive for the next age. My river dug itself into the ground and seeped into the newly laid root system to ensure its longevity.
The water churned and frothed over the countryside, flowing downward and outward in a velocity I struggled to control, perched as I was on the mountaintop. I spread out my hands and shoved my energy across the landscape; I could feel the rushing rapids crashing over the flat earth until they reached the edge of our territory—the water shot over the plateau in a graceful arc, wearing down the sediment until it fell to the ground below, a waterfall that marked the end of our valley in a lake of clear blue prosperity.
The water would continue into neighboring lands until finally emptying into the sea, blessing not just our promised land, but continuing to bless others with the life contained therein. Brother's forest rippled and burst in new leaves, branches straining and swelling from the thirst of their roots and the weight of sap and acorn, chestnut and apple—the land was reborn. Reborn, and remade. The shimmer of delicate greens, the pale of spring, shifted and fluttered and deepened with verdant textures, a richness of color from plump, ripening tomatoes to the dark skin of an avocado.
The valley whispered and sang with new life, trees and earth and river and hot springs singing a joyful chorus to the open expanse of sunlit sky. And when my part was over, I breathed deep of the clean air and let my shaking hands fall to my sides.
Brother caught me by the shoulders as I began to collapse, and with his steadier hand I knelt and then sat on the rock's face, first pitted and marred by the press of our chakra, and then polished to a gleaming surface from heat and wind and power. Brother sat beside me, and we looked at what we'd created. Our bodies were spent in the aftermath; we were silent a long time. The breeze swept across our sweaty forms and cooled us from the blazing sun that bathed our valley in approving light.
My heart was full. I looked at the land, the future of our people and the justice that would serve our country, and I was overcome with emotion.
"It is good," I said. The word was accurate, yet so inadequate—but it is what I felt.
Brother nodded beside me, "Yes, little brother." He got to one knee and then stood, holding a hand out to me. I pulled myself up and we faced what we dreamed to be the greatest ninja village in all the world. The sound of Brother's voice vibrated with power, and resounded with passionate truth:
"And we shall call it Konoha."