Disciples of Ryouzanpaku
Disclaimer: Don't own Naruto. Don't own Kenichi, Mightiest Disciple.
Chapter 1, New Beginnings
A figure padded down the poorly illuminated street. Bare feet echoed on the sidewalk. Many would think that walking barefoot through the city to be a poor idea, but he had little choice. His last pair of shoes had worn out nearly a month ago, not that he really minded.
He'd been searching for the last year and a half, and only last week had stumbled onto a clue to what he was looking for.
Glancing at the ratty scrap of paper in his hands, he started looking from side to side, looking for something. When he passed a pair of double doors, each easily six feet wide and ten feet high, he paused, not just because of their oddness, but because of the feeling he was getting from the place.
Raising his hand to knock, wondering if it would even be heard, the door creaked open. Craning his neck, his eyes widened in awe. "Whoa."
"Can I help you, young man?" asked the elder man kindly.
The man looked absolutely fearsome. He could tell from one glance that the man was solid muscle. "Uh, is this Ryozanpaku?"
The elder continued to smile, but prompted the boy to continue. "It is."
"Um, uh, I'm looking for someone named Hayato Furingi." Damn but this guy's presence was daunting. Still, he'd yet to back down from anything.
The elder's eyes flashed for a second. "I'm Hayato, but why are you looking for me?"
The younger blonde shrugged, grinning weakly. "I don't really know…sir. My sensei recommended that I look you up."
Hayato's brow quirked. "I was unaware that many people knew of this address."
The boy's right eye twitched and he grit his teeth. "Yeah. I had to find you from rumors and what little information I could get. I've been looking for you for the last year."
"Oh, my. You're certainly dedicated," the giant of a man praised. "But again I have to ask, 'why'. Tell me, who is your sensei?"
"My sensei is-was Jiraiya." The elder's brow rose in interest. This was the boy trained by Jiraiya?
"Perhaps you should come in," he offered, stepping to the side and motioning for him to enter.
The complex was like a clan compound from Konoha, from what little he'd seen through the fences or shrubs. It looked a little run down, but, then again, who was he to talk? His apartment had been a borderline roach motel. He lazily wondered if they'd burned it down yet, a dummy dressed up like him burning in effigy. Ah, fun thoughts.
Hayato led him to a fair sized building. Taking their footwear off at the walkway, they padded along to a sliding door. Pulling it aside, a large room was revealed. A gathering place, judging by the cushions.
"Please, come in." Hayato asked, pushing the boy into the vacant room where they could talk in private. "Wait here for a moment would you?"
A few minutes later, he heard the door open again. But whereas he'd been expecting just the elder, he was surprised to see him enter with others. Giving each a cursory glance, he was starting to feel a little uneasy. There was a mustached man with dark brown hair and an even gaze dressed in a formal yukata. Then there was a shorter, much shorter, man wearing a brimmed, dark hat that shadowed his eyes. He found the man's smile to be oddly creepy…if familiar. Next was a walking wall. A guy in jeans and a worn leather jacket, the sleeves rolled up around his biceps, but still tearing around the edges. The scar across his nose reminded him of Iruka back from his time in the academy. Though the grumpy aura around him ruined that image completely. The guy was built like a tank. Not that the next guy was much better. Incredibly tan, he was dressed in light sports clothes and wore a headband over his spiky blue-grey hair. He looked like a real bruiser. The last was a woman who was, for lack of a better word, gorgeous. Her scant attire reminded him of a sadistic jonin he'd known. Oddly, a mouse rode on her shoulder. However, the sword in hand made him a little nervous. It was sheathed, but still…
Elder Hayato sat in front of him with the others sitting in rows on either side of him. He suppressed the chill that he felt at the attention on him. It was similar to ki, but less violent. More, it was like their presence.
"Young man." He looked up at Hayato. "I'm sorry, but I forgot to ask your name."
"Naruto, sir. Naruto Uzumaki."
The scarred man chuckled. "Fishcake?" The others chuckled appreciatively as the blonde twitched.
"What of it, boozehound?" Even from there, the smell of alcohol rolled off the man. The others stifled sniggers while the man looked like he might try to pulp him.
Openly laughing, Hayato focused on the teen. "Sakaki's habits aside, could you please tell the others here what you told me just a little earlier?" More than a little confused, he complied.
"Well, my master spoke of you to me, Hayato-san. He mentioned that I should one day look you up. I'm…not too sure why."
"Who was your master?" asked the straight laced guy with the mustache. His voice was firm, exact, but not cold as he'd expected.
"Jiraiya, the Toad Sage," Hayato answered for him. The shortest member of the assemblage twitched. "Most of you may not know the name-"
"I do!" the short, green clad man proclaimed. "He's the famous writer of one of my favorite books!"
Naruto palmed his face, groaning. 'Even here.'
Coughing to interrupt, the mustached man spoke up. "I've heard a little about him. He's from the Elementals."
"What the crap is that?"
"The Elementals, Sakaki," the man lectured. "They're an isolated grouping of secret villages where the shinobi lifestyle still flourishes."
Sakaki snorted, not believing. "You're shitting me."
Hayato nodded. "Akisame is correct. The Elementals are isolated geographically and keep themselves well hidden. And while feudal lords may have ordered the shinobi practice to stop, the Elemental lands were obscure enough to evade notice, and have continued to operate from the shadows to this very day."
Naruto's brow was visibly raised. In his time away, these were the first people he'd met that actually knew where he'd grown up.
"And Jiraiya…I haven't seen him in over a decade. He was one of the more honorable of his breed," Hayato waxed nostalgic. "Though I have not seen him for some time, he did send me the occasional letter. Like this one here." Reaching into his robe, he pulled out a worn envelope. "I received this letter three years ago. Tell me, boy. Do you know what it says?"
Naruto shrugged, having no clue in the slightest. Smiling broadly, "Jiraiya makes reference to a new student, something I thought he would never do again…after the loss of his first." Naruto flinched. "He goes on to say that the boy is fairly hopeless." Twitch. "Has no real talent." Twitch, twitch. "Is a bit of a hothead." Twitch, twitch, twitch. "And a borderline idiot."
His left eyelid was twitching furiously by this point, and he was seriously considering the benefit of edo tensei. He could revive his master…then beat the hell out of him.
Smirking at pushing the young blonde's buttons, Hayato continued. "Though, he goes on to say that he is one of the most stubbornly persistent people he has ever known." There was more to the letter, a great deal more. The beginning was playful jest at the expense of his student, but there was fondness in the words. The sage went on to describe the boy's character. Stubborn, in that he refused to give up in anything. He was described as having a good heart, even if he was thick skulled.
The key point in the letter though…
"I would like to put it to a vote," Hayato proposed. "Should we train him?"
Naruto blinked, "I'm sorry. What?"
"That was what your master spoke of in his letter, that he might one day bring you here to train." Naruto gulped. Sure, he liked to train, but there was something in the air that told him now was the time to…
He was out the door before his mat fell back to the floor.
Sakaki smirked to the others. "Wow, kid's pretty quick."
Kensai chortled. "Reminds me of our first disciple."
"Indeed, though he is faster by far," the well kept man chuckled. "Who shall go fetch him?"
"Apachai will do it!" but Shigure had already vanished.
'Feet don't fail me now!' Again, let it be said he wasn't a coward, and he liked to train, but there was something distinctly…off. So much so that his instincts told him a full retreat was the wisest thing to do.
The distinct sound of flying metal alerted him to the chain about to snare his ankle, with just enough time to jump to the side to avoid it. Midair, he twisted and turned, hurling the last of his shuriken at his supposed captor.
Whizzing through the night, the metal stars ricocheted off of a deftly used sickle.
Once again, he was surprised by the woman before him. If he was a pervert he would've loved to go anywhere with this woman. She was friggin' hot! But…he had more respect for women than his sensei. From the meeting, he'd gleaned she was strong, but her movements, the way nothing was wasted, sent worried shivers through him.
"You can fight… " she spoke duskily, approving. "Good."
Slipping a kunai from his sleeve, he prepared himself.
The door slid open.
Impressive golden eyebrows rising, Hayato looked over casually. "Ah, Shigure. Caught our young friend?"
Blinking lazily, "…Of course," she answered in monotone. She dragged the bound blonde into the room.
"How far did he make it?" the elder asked playfully.
"…The end…of the block," she murmured lowly.
"Hah!" the short, mustached man chortled. "That means I get your desert tomorrow, Sakaki!" The rough looking man growled in dissent.
The weapons mistress had seen better days, in regards to her attire. The teen had many concealed weapons. Not as many as she, but, by her guess, he was running out. Still, as a result, her smaller than recommended yukata had several slashes through it. He hadn't drawn blood, and she'd been going easy on him, but his skills with a blade were above average.
"Now, young man, please tell me, why did you run?"
Pouting, the teen glared lightly. "Survival instinct," he grumped. Several masters laughed heartily at that.
"Tell me, then, do you really not want to join us here at Ryozanpaku? To study with six masters is quite the honor."
Blue eyes widened, though he concealed most of his surprise. So, he'd been right, they were all masters. Sighing in defeat, "Really, it would be an honor-"
"Something about this place scares the Hell out of me," he answered bluntly.
"Ah, a natural reaction," the yukata wearing man answered.
"Do you not wish to become stronger, young man?"
"To gain power without reason…is meaningless."
"Very wise," the yukata wearing man answered, nodding solemnly. "But do you not have a reason?"
"Not at the moment," the blonde answered blandly. "Still…I'm not an idiot. I know that I can't just shut people out. Sooner or later, I'll come across people that I'll want to protect… I want to continue my training so that when the time comes I won't be useless or too weak… I'm not Superman. So I can't say anything big like I'll protect everyone on Earth. I'm not a modest guy who will say it's enough if I can protect as many people as my two hands can handle either. I want to protect… a mountain-load of people, and to do that I need to get stronger." Sharing a glance with a few of the other masters, the elder smiled.
"Then you can train with us until then, and then decide your course," the elder interrupted, grinning, and obviously ignoring the younger blonde's meaning.
Naruto twitched. Did he ever even have a choice? He was beginning to wonder. Resigned, he slouched a bit.
"Now that we have that all settled," Naruto snorted lowly at the elder's words, "perhaps you could tell us just how you made it out of the Elemental countries. I went there long ago, and getting in was almost as difficult as getting out."
The blonde's face contorted, as if displaying an internal struggle. "I'll need you to let me go, first." The chain was gone so fast he almost didn't catch the movement. Raising his right hand, he unraveled the bandages until the cloth strips pooled in his lap. His appendage sported an odd pair of dark rings, one each on the index and middle finger. "Long and short of it. I was exiled from my village," he answered sourly. "They slapped these on me to seal my chakra, and I was publically booted." The assembled masters listened quietly. "As far as getting past the borders, it was fairly easy. I've been going places I shouldn't since I first started to crawl. But, for the short version, I walked. A lot."
"A fascinating story, I'm sure," the elder broke in. "But I think our new student-"
Naruto groaned halfheartedly.
"-would like to get some sleep after his long travels."
AN/ A little short, I know. Tell me what you think and give me time.