Chapter 15: Moving Forward
|You do not have enough Perk Points to purchase this perk|
"What the hell!" Ino complained, "What's the point of having access to a perk list when I can't get any of them?"
"Welcome to my life," Naruto laughed since he had felt the exact same way upon reaching level fifteen. The Gamer's ability was as much of a boon as it was a tease at times. One needed a minimum of two or three to buy or enhance a pre-existing perk, while special perks required three or four. Already did he have an idea of what he wanted but until he received another Ordinary Perk Point that was best left to the wayside for the time being. He needed to focus on more recent development: Specialization.
Months ago had someone asked him what he'd like to specialize in as a ninja he'd have flat out shouted 'Ninjutsu!' without a second thought. While he wouldn't do so on the same level, Naruto was still inclined to go the ninjutsu route. It made sense when he thought about it.
"My high END boost ninjutsu power and I already have one perk geared towards ninjutsu boosting," and that's what a person's specialization did, it enhanced any title or perk that person had that was related to their specialization beyond their base. Choosing a specialization in Ninjutsu increased perks by increments of five percent and ten percent for titles, at the lowest level, and as the perk and title increased so did the offered boost. But was it worth it? Would it make that much of a difference? Naruto only had one perk that made his ninjutsu more powerful than one his age and level. Doing so now would give him a twenty percent boost, but would it be worth it?
"Hey, Naruto, I gotta ask," of course the Gossip Queen would be the one to cut him off from his thinking.
"Much as I enjoy your ability and its weird rules, you ever wonder how or why you got it in the first place?" The question brought pause to them all, "I mean, I've never heard of a bloodline limit like this before, and I'm pretty sure something this powerful would have come into play at some point in history."
"Not unless it's a tight lip secret, Blondie, or the previous bearer died before they reached their full potential and hasn't manifested in anyone since," Anko chimed in, "However, she does have a point, Gaki. You ever wonder where this came from? Pretty sure this ain't no normal Kekkei Genkai, or even a Kekkei Tota for that matter."
Unfamiliar with the word, all three Genin asked, "Kekkei Tota?"
"Higher form of Kekkei Genkai. Immensely rare to have," Anko replied. Orochimaru himself had a theory that Senju Hashirama's Mokuton fell more into that category contrast to the popular opinion of it being a unique Kekkei Genkai that never manifested in his descendants.
"So, you're saying this is something beyond that?" Naruto played along.
"Maybe?" Anko shrugged, "Not an expert in the field so I can't give an honest answer. But it is something to think on."
The Origin of the Gamer's Power
Main Quest: Discover where your ability came from.
Side Quest: ?
Main Quest Completion: ?
Side Quest Completion: ?
Special Note: If you accept this quest you will set off a chain of events outside your control. Accepting this quest can lead to untold rewards and consequences depending on your actions. Upon accepting this quest it cannot be abandoned. This quest and its rewards are unique to you only.
Recommended Level: Minimum of 50
Recommended Party Level: Minimum of 35
"Yipes," Naruto thanked whatever or whoever was keeping an eye on him. Outside of video games, minimum level for a quest was a new experience, "And minimum doesn't mean I'll succeed."
Past experience had him remembering that just because he met the requirements didn't mean he'd succeed or have an easy time accomplishing this quest. From what Naruto noticed thanks to his improved Observe, most ninja that were level fifty were Tokubetsu Jonin, with the very odd Jonin since most Jonin were above level sixty, Anko was one of the few cases of being a Jonin and not meeting the average level.
"But then her flaw comes into play," Naruto could only wonder what kind of boost she'd get if that was somehow removed.
"What were you looking at getting anyway?" Anko asked.
"Something to boost my endurance," Ino answered.
"A boost in your END would be helpful," Anko agreed with her student. Unlike Hinata and Naruto, or even Hotto, Ino didn't have any perks or titles that increased her END, "Pretty sure no member of the Yamanaka has ever been a powerhouse or known for high amounts of chakra."
Ino frowned but couldn't dispute her instructor's claim. Even with her intense training and increasing it the old fashion way - despite the accelerated growth rate - increasing her END was still slow for her since her clan wasn't known for powerful or large chakra reserves.
In all honesty, despite wanting to defend her clan, Ino herself couldn't recall any Yamanaka in her clan's history that ever had such large or powerful reserves, nor a member that really stood out individually. But then, Ino recalled how the Yamanaka Clan had never been famous compared to most other clans during the Warring States era until they partnered up with the Nara and Akimichi.
But, unlike the Yamanaka, the Akimichi Clan had been quite famous even before their union - which went without saying when quite a few cooked for countless nobles over the centuries, usually as the head chef, and could turn into giants - and it was one of reasons why they were one of the Four Noble Clans of Konoha. The Nara being who they were did their best to stay out of the limelight with their above average intelligence and strategic minds, and for centuries they did so successful until the odd duck that lead them agreed to the partnership.
Suffice to say that in the beginning, many at the time hadn't been too keen on the alliance despite never coming into conflict with each other, which was a rare but not unheard of instance. But it hadn't been a popular notion since it resulted in other clans gunning for them, and breaking off would only serve in having two other clans targeting them in addition. Smart and innovative as they were, and deadly as their techniques could be when called for, the Nara Clan's members weren't powerhouses and were chronic layabouts.
"At least he was remembered, even if it wasn't all that fondly," she remembered Shika telling her.
"But forget that for now and bring up your Status Windows. Blondie, I believe you and Hinata just levelled up?"
"Yep!" Ino's ego rose. It took her five gruelling weeks of back breaking labour but she was now at level fifteen!
"Wouldn't exactly celebrate. Your growth rate is better than before but not as fast as the Gaki's," the comment had Ino ego's deflate like a leaky balloon.
"You realize that as a team any EXP we get is reduced, and we've been sticking to the Zombie Dungeon, too?" Naruto's comments only served make Anko blush with embarrassment and earn her ire. She did forget that bit.
"You know what happens when you ruin my fun," the evil glint in her eye had Naruto mentally kicking himself, "Besides, phase one of my plan was to bring up their endurance and get 'em combat experience so they can be ready for phase two. But bring up your Status Windows anyway and tell me what you see."
"You mean aside from Naruto's VIT and END being ridiculously higher than all of ours combined?" Ino snarked, and still felt that was bullshit.
"Okay, we've already established him as a stamina monster, so let's move on. What else do you see?" Anko asked seriously.
"All power and little finesse," was Ino's earnest response.
"Bingo! His physical stats are high or crazy high but not so much the ones that focus on brains. While you two are the opposite and have lower stats that are much more well balanced. Now, windows up!" Anko ordered once more.
Name: Hyuga Hinata
Level: 15 Next Level: 3%/100%
Attribute Points: 8
Common Perk Points: 1
Special Perk Points: 0
Name: Yamanaka Ino
Level: 15 Next Level: 11%/100%
Attribute Points: 9
Common Perk Points: 1
Special Perk Points: 0
"Hmm, was hoping your END would be higher after all that. Guess it'll have to do," beggars couldn't be choosers, "For now, I want the both of you to put all the AP you have into END. You're gonna need the stamina boost. Gaki, it's up to you but I'd suggest putting some of that AP of yours into your WIS and INT. Missions aren't always gonna be about fighting and the mark of a good shinobi is how well informed and adaptable they are in and outside of combat."
Both kunoichi complied and felt some of the fatigue they accumulated over the course of the day wash away, while Naruto contemplated on which Attribute he should place his own, "What's next?"
"What's next is simple: take these," as the Jonin instructor began passing Hinata and Ino sheets of paper, Naruto instantly recognized them for what they were.
"Good eye. Like he said this is chakra paper and it'll help determine what your nature affinity is," Anko explained and gave both kunoichi the rundown on the fundamentals behind the results and how to achieve it.
"…Anyone else think that was kinda anti-climactic?" Naruto asked his teammates.
"I'm afraid to answer that," not that Ino was complaining for the change of pace, "So, all we do is channel our chakra into it?" the task was simple enough in her mind and Ino wasn't going to complain.
Both kunoichi concentrated and channelled their chakra into the pieces of paper and with their chakra control being much better than Naruto's when he first attempted the same thing the results were much quicker. For Ino Anko was surprised to see her paper become wet.
Due to her interaction with several Yamanaka, Anko knew that many in Ino's clan had a history when it came to having a lightning affinity. As they were mind manipulators, and the mind itself was powered and control via electrical signals. So, it came as a surprise that she would have the water affinity instead. But then, it wasn't unheard of either for a normally hereditary affinity to skip a generation. However, this was good as water release techniques were excellent when it came to assassination techniques, especially silent ones. When it came to lightning not so much.
For Hinata she was genuinely surprised to see it crinkle up. Compared to the Yamanaka Anko had little knowledge on the Hyuga except for the basics. The woman had been informed by Kurenai that the most common element was actually Earth and Fire. However, lightning release techniques required very precise amounts of control and Hinata had the best control out of the entire group.
"Alright, we got a water user and a lightning user," Anko mused and frowned lightly, "Unfortunately, I'm an Earth and Fire Release user so I can't help you all that much with your affinities. But on the plus side you two have affinities that are great for very versatile and powerful combination attacks."
"Versatile?" Ino asked.
"Lightning is considered by many as one of the most, if not the most powerful primary element because of its destructive capabilities," it was a debate that many still had to this day, "The only problem is that lightning attacks are pretty much linear and hard to control which direction you want it to go in. With a large amount of practice you'll be able to make it change direction but even the experts of Raiton have trouble doing this. That's where water comes into play. Suiton is the most fluid of the elements and can change its direction on whim. Water's also a good electrical conductor which means that combining lightning with it will make it stronger and more versatile."
"But isn't that good?" Hinata asked.
Here Anko sheepishly scratched her head as she explained the problem, "Yeah… but next to wind, lightning is kinda uncommon in Hi no Kuni," Anko knew that were this Kaminari no Kuni it would be different. However, Konoha and Kumo still weren't on the best terms ever since the Hyuga Incident. Relations were slowly on the mend but many in Konoha were slow to forgive and forget. She didn't blame them.
"So, how do we fix this?" Ino asked. She didn't doubt that some in her clan knew the odd elemental ninjutsu but it was uncommon stuff. Her clan specialized in mind manipulation, making poisons, and infiltration. Elemental ninjutsu much like Taijutsu had never been one of her clan's fortes or more commonly practiced skills.
"Ano, my clan doesn't really approve of using anything other than our fighting style," Hinata held her head low and caused Anko to groan. It was no secret had much the Hyuga Clan prided themselves on their famous Gentle Fist fighting style. Which was understandable as it was a powerful and deadly fighting style. Learning medical ninjutsu was one thing but learning another fighting style was something completely different.
Despite its name Anko heard that the Gentle Fist had several mid and long ranged techniques. Techniques that were both offensive and defensive and all revolved around incredible forms of chakra manipulation and control. The only problem was that Hinata's skill was nowhere near the level needed to use those kinds of techniques as they were likely in the upper echelon of the Juken.
"We'll cross that bridge when it comes to it," Anko didn't really want to deal with political bullshit but she was tasked with keeping her students alive and that's what she was setting out to do, "For now let's head to the Konoha Library."
"The what?" Naruto asked.
"You seriously don't know what that is?" Ino practically shouted in disbelief, "The library is where Konoha keeps most of its information. From basic culinary and repairs to information on certain ninja techniques and tools."
"Wait, they have ninjutsu?!" Naruto suddenly asked; a glint in his eyes.
Ino rolled her eyes as Naruto began fantasizing, "If you paid attention in class you'd also know that Academy Students and Genin are limited in what they can learn from the library and the stuff available here is pretty limited. Anything that's classified as Chunin and above requires us to go to the Archive Library at the Hokage Tower. We need to be Chunin or have special permission to enter there," Naruto visibly slumped at that.
"Ah, man," Naruto whined. The prospect of learning a bunch of potential techniques had gone up in smoke.
"Yeah, that reminds me. Before you try to learn anything let me see it first so I know if they have a copy or if I need to make one," Anko said. "Last thing I want is for you to learn something and it's all the information we have on it."
Ino huffed at that. Another useful ability she would have called Naruto out on had she not learned that she, too, as his teammate benefited from this ability. What took such a long time for others took seconds for them. Was it unfair? Hell yes!
"But who cares and sucks to be them!" Ino could only imagine herself standing and gloating over a defeated Sakura.
Seeing her look, Naruto could only shake his head as the group made their way to the building, "She's spending way too much time with Anko."
"Okay, let's see what we got here," Anko browsed through the scrolls that her team would be allowed to look at. A little over twenty minutes had passed since they arrived and fortunately for them the library was practically deserted. Some of them were basic and not that great but it would help them get a better idea when they started learning the more complex stuff.
For Ino and Hinata, Anko was looking for basic information on their nature affinity and how to better teach them. Keitai Henka (Shape Transformation) and Seishitsu Henka (Nature Transformation) wouldn't be made available for them until after they got a decent grasp of the basics. Converting one's chakra into an element was easy compared to mastering Nature Transformation as the latter was a much more complex art form. It was general learned when one wished to create their own personal technique or change the properties of an existing one.
Such a thing was out of their league at the moment, but both would need to learn some elemental ninjutsu if they were to survive. She counted her blessings that Naruto's ability allowed them to learn techniques instantly and it would greatly speed things up. However, Anko knew that Naruto had both a natural knack for elemental ninjutsu and had more chakra compared to Ino and Hinata.
"I wouldn't be surprised if that ability lets him or us bypass the need for Shape Transformation and Nature Transformation in the first place," or at the very least accelerate it.
As she continued to look, Anko spotted a scroll that she knew would benefit Hinata: Novice Medical Ninjutsu. She took the scroll and gave it a once over. Anko herself knew a bit about medicine and some minor medical ninjutsu but it was more so on less than serious injuries such as burns, cuts, bruises, and fatigue. The more advanced stuff she knew was on how to extract certain poisons and making antidotes than anything else. While the scroll held basic information on medical ninjutsu Anko knew that even the basics of the art were very complex and one needed a certain knack for it to go beyond the basics.
As Anko continued her search for scrolls for Ino and Hinata, Naruto was looking through a series of scrolls himself. In this cases the scrolls he was looking at were Taijutsu ones. True his fighting style focused on Ninjutsu, Fuinjutsu and Kenjutsu, but Anko said he was he really needed find a more advanced fighting Taijutsu than the academy one just in case. The only problem was that his choice was limited and many of the Taijutsu had requirements that he didn't fulfill or conflicted with his fighting styles.
"Novice Tekken (Iron Fist) a hard type fighting style that revolves mostly on ones' fists and using it in various ways such as knifehanded chops, spearhanded thrusts, and various fist-like techniques. The style requires one to break, calcify and strengthen the bones in their arms and fists to increase the effectiveness and power. Alternatively, a person with an Earth affinity could channel Doton chakra to strengthen their arms instead. As a result the moves would be more powerful, but they'd also be slower and slightly more predictable and sluggish until they reached a certain level. Nope!" Again, and just like Hayate constantly repeated, unless the tactic was meant to fool the opponent, a ninja and a swordsman must constantly be moving. A slow fighter was a dead one. Honestly, Naruto was starting to get annoyed. That had been his sixth scroll.
None of the scrolls he found felt right to him or he felt would complement his fighting style. The last ones were known as Judo (Gentle Way) and Hikaken (Chop Hanging Fists). The latter one being based somewhat off the Hyuga's Clans Juken (Gentle Fist).
The other problem with the one he just read was that while Naruto knew some Earth Release techniques, he didn't have an Earth affinity that was also required, and he wasn't too keen on breaking his bones even if would allow Hinata some practice.
The fact that it relied heavily on punches and had little use of his legs was a no go too. Fists were fine and all but Hayate and Yugao had told him that a ninja used every part of their body as a weapon.
"Knowing Ino she'd have me owe her a favour every time I'd need healing," the girl had been asked to be the backup healer just in case but Naruto didn't believe someone who was starting to develop their own sadistic streak should be in the business of healing others. It was nowhere as bad as Anko but he had the impression she'd get there eventually the way they got along. Naruto didn't need another Witch Doctor on his ass.
Taking out another scroll Naruto began to read it, "Novice Shishi Kumite (Eight Limbs Kata). The teachings of this Taijutsu style revolves on how to deliver and perform devastating and swift blows with their fists, elbows, knees, and kicks. Grappling also plays an important role as to not only prevent one's opponent from breaking free while strikes are being landed on them but for using certain techniques at their fullest," so far Naruto was intrigued by the Taijutsu, more so than the others anyway.
"Sorry, boss. The only decent ninjutsu we could find that are accessible were the Futon: Daitoppa no Jutsu (Wind Release: Great Breakthrough Technique) and Ninpo: Chakra Nagashi no Jutsu (Ninja Art: Chakra Flow Technique)," the latter of which he already knew and the first was unnecessary since he already knew similar techniques.
Naruto told them to put them back and then had the clones disappear in a poof of smoke. Finding at least one scroll wasn't a total loss but Naruto would be lying if he said he wasn't disappointed at the moment. Nowhere near the greatest of finds but at least he didn't leave with nothing.
Naruto continued to search for a while longer before Hinata informed him that that Anko was looking for them. Unlike him the two kunoichi were carrying a small amount of scrolls. Naruto was really starting to hate the limitations that Genin had when it came to learning new techniques. Then again it made sense as well as some Genin tended to do too much too soon.
"Okay, give 'em here and let's see what you have for me," Anko ordered and then proceeded to go over the scrolls they had. For the scrolls she accepted, Anko placed them on the left, and vice versa in the opposite direction with those she thought otherwise.
"So six scrolls in total," Anko wished it had been more but wasn't a bad number, "Guess we'll have to make the most of it. Sorry you couldn't find more, Gaki. No luck on my end either. At least you know more than the Academy Taijutsu. Good choice on the Raiton: Jibashi (Lighting Release: Electromagnetic Murder), Pale Eyes. It's basic but as you get better it can get pretty nasty," Anko said and handed her two other scrolls.
"What's this?" Hinata asked.
"A scroll on basic medical ninjutsu, and a scroll on the Raiso no Jutsu (Lightning Claw)," Anko answered, "Like I said before, you're gonna be team medic so its time you learned some more advanced healing skills. Not that the healing from your meals isn't something to gawk at."
On that both Ino and Naruto could agree. Hinata had shown up one day with boxes of bentos and while simple in appearance good God had that been one of best eats they ever had. They soon learned that Hinata's [Cooking Skill] was at a level well above someone her age and as a result her dishes gave them decent temporary buffs alongside their healing properties. But fighting wasn't turned based where they could eat a meal and then force the enemy to wait their turn.
"The latter technique you have is a D-Rank technique. It's similar to the Chakra Flow technique but for your arms and hands instead of a weapon. It's not deadly but it can delivery a nasty shock that can cause your opponent's muscles to spasms and can even cause temporary paralysis and even incapacitate them once you get the hang of it. It requires a good amount of control so be sure you're up to it unless you wanna fry up your arms."
"And what about me?" Ino asked.
"For you I got you a Taijutsu style called Rankyaku (Violent Legs). Short and sweet version is that it has a high emphasize on speed, flexibility and using your legs to attack while using your upper body to help perform some moves. With your natural grace I thought it suited you," Anko said. The woman also had the intent to teach her a bit of contortionism as well as some grappling moves to complement the fighting style, too, for defensive purposes.
Much like her former master, Anko's fighting style was based around speed, deception and precision compared to Naruto's power-based fighting style despite learning and knowing the basics of the Konoha Kenjutsu-Ryu.
"Of course, we're gonna have to increase your DEX and STR to make it more effective, but that means nothing if your body can't keep up with the strain so make sure you continue to push yourself. Your perk will give you an easier time learning it but we're still gonna have to work on your flexibility and speed," she grinned and Ino began to worry. From the way the fighting style sounded Ino had the impression her legs were going to reach untold heights of pain.
"Aside from that I think you'll benefit from the Shisui (Dead Water) and Suiben (Water Whip). The first is a technique that envelopes the victim's head with foul water but it requires a fair amount of control and physical contact with their head. Break it and the technique will fall apart. Overtime you might be able to turn it into poisoned water. The second's a mid to long range technique meant to ensnare your opponent but it works better when used alongside lightning techniques or with a group. There are a couple of others but focus on mastering those first," Anko finished her explanation.
"Wouldn't it make more sense to learn them now alongside the other ones?" Ino asked.
"I've honestly never seen the point in learning a technique you're not gonna really use nor will it compliment your fighting style or be of use down the line," Anko told her student, "Better to know a few techniques, master them, and then go about improving them into something else when you have a clear understanding then learning a dozen techniques that go to waste because you don't end up using them."
"Sorry Poochie. Not much on the subject of how to train/raise your ninken," Anko told the deflating ninja dog.
Soon after the woman grabbed copies from one of the workers, and made one copy of the Shishi Kumite. The woman then lead her team towards one of the previous training grounds Naruto used over the last few months. After they each absorbed the scrolls and learned the skill they held, Anko revealed the next phase of her plan.
"Now, while your stamina isn't quite what I'd like it to be even with the recent boost, we'll have to make do for the time being," once more she directed this towards Hinata and Ino, "So, for now we're gonna be working on both stamina and speed."
"Why didn't we do this before?"
"We did, just not as intensely since you two weren't ready. Naruto introduced me to this place a while back and I can honestly say you wouldn't have lasted five minutes. You two going in there five weeks ago would have done nothing more than piss you off," and had Naruto not conquered the dungeon then there's a good chance they'd have died on a permanent basis, "But enough chatter. Gaki, you mind sitting this one out? Hayate's free at the moment and asked if you'd have time to go spar with him?"
"Fine by me," it had been a while since he trained with the man anyway.
"See you in a bit. Let's go you two! We'll be doing this for the next two weeks or more until I feel you're ready for your first C-Rank," which would likely be closer to four or five depending on how long they trained in the dungeon.
Much like they were used to the world flashed a brilliant white before they arrived at their destination. But Ino was far from pleased by where they arrived and easily and loudly voiced her displeasure.
"Dear, God! How the hell are we in a desert!" High above them the sun shinned brighter and hotter than any day in Hi no Kuni and the haze coming from the shifting sands didn't help things either.
"Training Ground One to Five simulates the primary elements. This is Training Ground Three and not only does it simulate the wind element but also the harsh and unforgiving environment of Kaze no Kuni, too. Now, the goal for you two is simple. Keep moving until you can't move anymore, and then keep moving some more until I say you can stop," Anko finished by throwing two balls that covered the two kunoichi with a syrupy and unpleasant smelling fluid.
"Eww, Kami! What the hell is this?" Ino winced when she accidentally pulled out a strand of her hair.
"Monster bait," Anko answered, "Naruto whipped this up so dungeon enemies would attack each other if covered in it. Now, you two are covered in it."
Seeing both of them looking around, Anko stopped that train of thought, "As you can see, this place has a few decent spots to hide but that's not the goal here. These monsters are gonna come at you and fast and your goal is to try and match 'em and take 'em out quickly. Oh, here they come."
"Are those…Kamaitachi?" Hinata asked. They looked cute.
"Trust me, they may look cute but those little deceiving little bastards are quick and nasty, but that's not all," Anko didn't need to finish her sentence as the small creatures took to the air and began performing aerial maneuvers one simply couldn't with an ordinary jump.
"They can fly," Ino deadpanned, "Great. Just great."
"They can fly. They can throw blades of wind. They can evade quickly and hide in the sand. They can do a lot of stuff that will piss you off. And, since you need to move quickly in this blazing hot environement, you'll run out of steam much more quickly than usual. So, be quick, be smart, be ready," Anko cackled as the first Kamaitachi made its first move and kicked up a large amount of sand that clouded their vision.
This was neither going to be easy nor pleasant.
"Mikazuki no Mai (Dance of the Crescent Moon)!" swinging his sword alongside his clones, Naruto once more came up short. The trio of blonds were pushed back by the considerable force behind Hayate's counter.
"Not fast enough and timing was off. Again!" Hayate ordered.
Naruto frowned but complied. The Mikazuki no Mai was one of the better techniques of the Konoha Kenjutsu-Ryu, but it was also one of the hardest to pull off correctly. Speed and ensuring you were attacking the enemy's blind spot and having the right timing were especially crucial. The original and the clones had to be in sync or it would give the target a chance to escape or evade.
Naruto had seen first hand how devastating the technique could be if pulled off properly. A single hit from Hayate to a dummy was enough to send it flying with a nasty gash. Hayate and his two clones striking the target either guaranteed an instant kill or left them devastated. Even if the target somehow survived being cut by the blade, the force behind it was incredible.
|This is your final attempt!|
"No wonder it's marked as an A-Rank technique," the degree of difficulty in learning the move was unlike anything he learned before. Focusing once more, Naruto and his clones rushed Hayate at full speed. But even with the use of Hayagake (Rapid Run) and him pushing himself to his absolute limit he once more ended up back to where they began.
"Your timing was *cough* better that time but still off. Your speed also isn't fast enough despite that technique of yours. Even with a lighter sword it still wouldn't be enough," Hayate informed the boy.
Naruto sighed and ignored the failed message quest pop up floating invisibly in front of Hayate's face. The message was a rare occurrence but still not one he'd like to see. Not bothering to move from his spot, Naruto pulled out a whetstone and began to sharpen his sword like Hayate taught him.
"Don't get discouraged, Naruto. It took me years to get the technique down," Hayate told him.
But Naruto gave the man a look, "You're humouring me, aren't you?"
"Well, you suck at it," Naruto told him and went back to sharpening his sword.
"Not everyone is a prodigy. Just like not every style or weapon is meant for one particular person. How else would have other schools been founded?"
"I guess," it made sense, "Hayate-sensei, what made you want to specialize in kenjutsu anyway?"
"Why the *cough* sudden interest?" Hayate asked in return.
"No real reason. I mean, a lot of ninja begin to specialize in something at some point. I was just wondering what I should specialize in," Naruto answered.
The swordsman couldn't help but cock an eyebrow at what he believed was obvious, "Weren't you interested in ninjutsu?"
"Yeah… but, isn't that too predictable? I mean, I'm good at it but what if I begin to focus too much on that and neglect my other skills over time?" it happened.
"First of all, Anko and I would never allow that," Naruto already feel the phantom pains from the future, "Plus… you could try and specialize in Ninkenjustu (Ninja Sword Techniques)."
"It's when a shinobi specializes in a fighting style that blends both ninjutsu and swordsmanship into one," Hayate elaborated, "Konoha doesn't really have anyone who uses it compared to Kumo's shinobi," who specialized in both Nintaijutsu and Ninkenjutsu, though more so the former than the latter.
"But, don't we use ninjutsu while doing sword techniques?" what was the point then?
Hayate shook his head, "Not exactly. Ninkenjutsu isn't a true school of fighting so much as it is an enhancer. Think of it as condiments you put on ramen like hot sauce, *cough* tamarin, or chillies. You're basically just adding something that you feel will make it better and will ultimately suit you better," Hayate elaborated.
"*cough* Another way of looking at Ninkenjutsu is, short and sweet, you're combining your elemental nature on a very deep level with your swordsmanship skills in order to create new techniques or enhancing the effects of current techniques. And while the basis of its teachings aren't hard to find so much as finding a teacher, Ninkenjutsu requires incredible amounts of chakra in order to make it truly effective. Problem is the amount required is so *cough* high that even Jonin that are considered a cut above don't have. It's not easy to use as you're condensing your chakra, converting it to your elemental affinity at the highest possible level, and covering your weapon and yourself in it, though more so the weapon. It takes a good amount of concentration and multitasking," Hayate revealed.
If Naruto's hunch was right then some of those inconveniences could be bypassed by his Gamer's Body or Gamer's Mind.
"Furthermore, by condensing your cha-*cough*-kra it enhances your body, strengthens your technique and makes it much less likely for you to fall victim to Genjutsu," Naruto knew that since Genjutsu was all about tricking the victim's senses by affecting the chakra in the victim's brain through a variety of ways, it made sense that if the victim's chakra was too powerful or dense to be manipulated, or if the illusion wasn't strong enough to affect said chakra, then it was all for naught.
"But by condensing your chakra so much onto your weapon it begins to weigh you down and your body also become stiffer. Your body's stronger but what you gain in power and durability you lose in speed and reaction. Condensing your chakra is also much easier to do while immobile but as I've taught…"
"A swordsman must always be moving and constantly aware of their surroundings," Naruto recited. In other words, him being immobile went against what he'd been taught and he'd make for an easy target.
"Make no mistake that while the Kōka no Kohō (Hardening Breathing Method) as it's called, is a useful skill, this doesn't make you invulnerable and it's not easy to learn. Think of it like this. For most people their chakra is comparable to water: fluid and easy to work with. While for others it's more like sand, a bit denser but still workable if you have the proper control. The Kōka no Kohō on the other hand makes your chakra more comparable to mud and or cement that you have to try and squeeze out through a series of small holes very quickly. It'll become easier for you the more you practice and use it in real combat situations to the point its weakness is eliminated like any other technique but unfortunately the more chakra you have means the more difficult that will be to achieve. Even with those with excellent chakra control it's not something that goes away overnight, which is why practitioners are imperceptibly non-existent. I wouldn't know where to look for one," the man revealed. Kumo was more famed for their Nintaijutsu as they managed to find a way to eliminate much of the drawbacks.
"So there's no actual fighting style and there's no actual teacher I can learn this from?" well, that sucked.
"Kumo would debate that theirs is an actual school, but that's neither here nor there… Actually, there's one. Not a teacher mind you but there is a one fighting style that's revolves around Ninkenjutsu. Remember our talk about the Blackships of the Land?"
"You mean the swordsmanship styles that were part truth and part fairy tale?" was Naruto's vague recollection of that conversation.
"Precisely. *cough* Now, while some of those fighting styles had techniques that could be categorized as Ninkenjutsu, the one that focused purely on that concept and is likely the very first Ninkenjutsu style that came into existence was the Tengu Oroshi-Ryu (Heavenly Dog's Katabanic Wind Style). Supposedly it was a *cough* style that combined powerful and mercurial move-sets and high intensity winds. Some versions even claimed the users could fly or at least appeared to be flying."
Naruto was liking it so far.
"But, of course, it is just a legend. And tales claim that not only did you need to be talented or very attuned in the wind element but only the best of swords comparable to the Tenka Juken (Ten Greatest Swords under Heaven) could withstand the strain it put them under," Hayate elaborated.
"The best swords that were around in the era of Warring States. Very powerful and unique special swords," Hayate informed the ignorant Genin.
"Okay… What made them so special?" even a blind man would notice Hayate's look at the mention of the swords.
"Aside *cough* from being used by famed ninja and sworsdmen they were made by equally famous blacksmiths. The swords are said to have unique abilities not unlike those belonging to the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist but much more varied and potent. But aside from a few exception I wouldn't really call what they have swords," a roll of exploding paper, a blue grater taller than a man, and a hammer and axe weren't swords in not only Hayate's opinion, "Anyway, much like the weap-*cough*-ons belonging to the Seven Swordsmen, few have ever been able to make swords that rival the Tenka Juken. Not surprising as some stories say that they that they were all made from unique chakra metals and from master smiths that you can't find in this day and age. Some were believed to have been made from Hihi'irokane (Brilliant Scarlet Metal), the rarest and most sought *cough* after of them all."
"And what's so special about that?"
"There are three top chakra metal ores in this world: Hihi'irokane, Yosokane (Elemental Metal) or Elementium *cough* as some call it, and Kongokane (Adamant Metal). This sword I'm carrying has been in my family for generations. The sword's worth because of its history and who *cough* made it make brings it close to 500,000 ryo, and that's from a mixture of tamahagane and basic chakra metal," Naruto blinked at the reveal. Talk about a pricy sword despite its unassuming appearance and average length.
"A sword made from Elementium or Adamant will never dull, will never break, will never rust, and at a minimum is worth almost fifty times more than my family blade. Longer and thicker blades are even more expensive. Swords like that are enough to set you up for four or five generations of luxury. Hihi'irokane is the best one of the three and a weapon made from that metal and shaped into a weapon of the same size as the other two is easily two or three times more expensive. Finding Hihi'irokane is a task onto itself. And even if you have the astronomical luck of finding some, it can only be forged into weapons using special methods. The art of doing is pretty much a dead one and those who know it are either very tight lip or no longer with us. What I would give to at least hold one in my hands. Hashirama-sama and Madara-sama had such swords but both of them became lost."
The comment earned him a smack on the head, "The founders of Konoha!"
"I meant the second one!" Hashirama he knew about but at the mention of Madara Naruto drew a blank.
"Hashirama-sama's greatest rival, and Konoha's first *cough* missing ninja and a former Head of the Uchiha Clan. Hashirama-sama was said to have used Yawarakai-Te (Tender Hands) despite his skill as a swordsman being second to his younger brother. The blade was said that it would only cut when asked by the wielder," Hayate practically gushed at the mere mention of it.
"What's so great about that?"
"Imagine a hostage and captor situation with the captor holding a kunai to the hostage's neck. You could use the sword to stab the heart of both of them at the same time but only the captor would be injured," that last bit was actually pretty useful, Naruto had to admit.
"Now Madara-sama on the other hand wielded his family blade Juchi-Yosamu (Ten Thousand Cold Nights), rumoured to be a powerful but cursed blade that cut anything indiscriminately, and with the outmost ease," although the man was known more for his use of the Gunbai it was mostly because he only ever used the sword against those he felt worthy, of which there were very few, "It was said that unless you had a very strong will even the smallest of cuts from it made you feel depressed or as though you'd just been standing outside in the cold with nothing on. Regrettably, Tobirama-sama is said *cough* to have hid Hashirama's sword when the Shodai died during the First Shinobi World War and its whereabouts are believed to have become lost when he himself died years later. Juchi-Yosamu was deemed lost during the battle that resulted in the Valley of the End when Madara rebelled."
"I can vouch for that," a voice behind Naruto announced.
"AHHH! Will you stop that!" Naruto shouted at the grinning kunoichi that was Anko. Whirling around, Naruto saw the bemused face of his sword instructor, "Why didn't you say anything?"
"I wanted to see if you'd notice," Hayate shrugged, "By the way, Anko, are they okay?"
Looking past his mentor, Naruto winced at the sight and could only say, "So, should I ask?"
"No…com…ment," Ino managed to huff out a finish. She had been right. Her body was now feeling those untold levels of pain. God she hated being right.
Naruto would have said something along the lines of 'Now you know how I felt' to the breathless blonde. But that would have been a lie. The dungeon had pushed him in terms of speed and many a times he had to focus on finding the hidden flying rodents, but he had only been a bit winded due being unused to the heat than the actual physical exertion.
"Ev…very… thing… hu-urts…" Naruto heard Hinata whimper and the Hyuga didn't look any better than her fellow kunoichi.
Looking at the time, Naruto realized they had been in the dungeon for almost four hours, "How'd they do?"
"Didn't reach the end goal but give me a week or two and they'll be decent," was all Anko could say in present company.
"You sound confident," Hayate believed it was a lofty goal to achieve in such a short amount of time.
"I have faith my girls can do it," Anko smiled and Naruto could only feel sorry for his teammates, "If you have the energy to flip me off then we can continue, Blondie."
"Ughh…" Ino knew that without a doubt that these next couple of weeks were gonna suck and suck big time.
"Rest up and start healing, Pale Eyes. We're going back at it in a couple of hours," Ino and Hinata could only look at their instructor in pure horror.
"Can't you… just… put us … out of our… misery?" Anko, Naruto, Hayate, Hotto, and even Hinata merely gave Ino a look that had the Yamanaka realize just how dumb of a question that was.
"Right, sadist," and Ino whined when it sunk in.
"So, backtracking a bit, how do you know?" Naruto asked.
"Hmm?" It took a second for Anko to remember the initial conversation, "Oh, right. My asshole of a sensei was a borderline sword master and at one point in his life he was keen on finding the Uchiha sword before he became more interested in another. It wasn't ranked amoung the top ten but he said that didn't mean it shouldn't be discounted either. Pretty secretive about so I never did learn the name of the blade and I don't know if he ever found it. But I did hear he managed to find the Kusanagi no Tsurugi (Grass-mowing Longsword) instead."
"And that's bad, right?"
"It's sword that many have dubbed the Musudoku no Ken (Sword of Countless Poisons) a very deadly blade with the ability to replicate any poison in existence and extend its blade's range. But it could be a lot worse," Hayate interjected, "The Kusanagi no Tsurugi isn't in the top ten but at one point it used to be when it and Murakumo (Gathering Clouds) were once a single sword known as Amenomurakumo no Tsurugi (Heavenly Sword of the Gathering Clouds). It was a powerful blade believed to have been ranked as the number one sword in existence but it was more akin to a natural disaster, which is why it was split into two lesser but still deadly swords… or so they say."
"No one knows if that bit of the story is true though."
"The story's been around for almost a thousand years, Anko," embellishment and mixed up truth was not unheard for such a lengthy period of time.
"True," Anko nodded and would not dispute that, "Anyway, I've got a favour to ask you and Yugao.
"If you could for the next couple of weeks. It would only be for a couple hours a day while I get these two up to speed," Anko asked.
"It can't be that bad?"
"They don't teach students tree walking or how to walk on water," Anko revealed.
"…You're being serious aren't you?"
"I really wish I wasn't," Anko looked both depressed and ready to throttle someone. Naruto was glad Iruka-sensei wasn't with them at the moment.
Hayate sighed and shook his head but looked at his friend, "Just a couple of hours?"
"That's it, and it wouldn't even be every day either. Gotta teach him and the pooch a few things," she reassured.
"And what makes you so certain you can accomplish what you need done in two weeks?"
Anko merely laughed, "Please! Give me a week or two and I'll have 'em accomplishing what normally takes five weeks to do."
"…That didn't really answer my question, Anko," that was more boastful than it was insightful.
"Wanna make a bet?" Her smile could turn fire into water.
"No!" Hayate learned his lesson from last time. Even a sure-fire bet wasn't safe with Anko. The woman cheated, "We're good."
"Aww, you're no fun," Anko pouted.
"And you're crazy," Hayate and a few others thought. Looking back towards Naruto, Hayate spotted him playing with his ninken and a thought came to him.
"Naruto, how well in tune are you with Hotto?" the Jonin got confused looks from ninja and ninken alike as his answer.
(Two Weeks Later)
"I DON'T WANNA DIE!" Naruto screamed at the top of his lungs.
Under branch and over stone did the boy try to run as far away from the predator behind him that was hot on his heels and it was coming in fast. Alpha Raptor was its name, a creature from a new dungeon he recently gained access enemy was slightly taller than himself but also vicious, fast, stealthy and had a powerful sense of smell. Worst of all, they were highly intelligent, too, compared to most dungeon monsters he faced. Naruto was fast, faster still with Hayagake but these things had had five levels on him and their perks and powerful legs enabled them to run at frightening speeds.
Fortunately, Naruto was able to deal with the grunts of the group with some well place ninjutsu. But then the last dying member triggered a move that summoned the local alpha. The enemy was larger, faster, stronger. Worse yet, it could call its own reinforcements, too.
"Gshaaaaa!" the leader of the pack hissed/screeched at him. Behind it were two smaller members. Their fangs were bloody from a recent kill.
"Nice raptors! Good raptors!" Naruto was only met with more hissing and was forced to dive when the alpha pounced on him. Right where he wanted them.
"SUCKER!" Naruto grinned as his the large creature was barrelled into by an even bigger Hottomaru. Both beasts grappled with the other but Hotto's build gave the enlarged ninken a great advantage compared to the ancient bipedal lizard.
Distracted by the sudden appearance of the large fur clad creature, the Alpha Raptor's much smaller minions couldn't react quickly enough to Naruto's move, "Bakuchikuha (Firecracker Wave)!"
While the Fuinjutsu skill he earned from the Earth Dungeon didn't cause any damage to its intended targets, it remained very useful as a weapon's attachment that served to scare as well as make [Animal-Type] enemies flinch. And it allowed him set up his next moves.
"Kagero (Heat Haze)!" The new sword skill he learned from Hayate had Naruto appear above the duo of immobilized raptors in a frightening burst of speed. The move was very short ranged, only five feet, but made for a decent sneak/counter-attack.
"Banrai (Heavy Thunder)!" The vertical slash, though it was horizontal from Naruto's point of view, sent one of the raptor's crashing to the ground while the other went skidding a considerable distance away thanks to the technique being enhanced by a couple other skills. Unlike Kagero, Banrai was nothing more a basic D-Rank technique utilized by heavy blade wielders. It wasn't fancy but the technique caused a decent amount of damage and had an increased likelihood of knocking the target down or pushback depending on circumstances.
With both ancient reptiles down and even more vulnerable than before, Naruto's intent to finish them off was cut short by a sudden and very much unwanted arrival. The battling group froze as a loud roar unlike any other - at best Naruto believed part of it sounded like a high pitched grinding machine - thunderously rocked the area. The beasts - Hotto included - remained immobile.
The beast that can crashing through the dense forest with all the grace of a raging bull was incredibly large. Its size was almost comparable to Midori's own, though the summon of Anko was much longer. But even then Midori lacked the fierce and savage appearance of this primordial creature.
Its hind legs looked powerful and muscular, while its arms were the exact opposite: small and useless compared to those used by the raptors. The face and jaws were covered in sturdy plating strong enough that Naruto had the impression his sword would simply bounce off even if he used all his strength.
Dark red scales covered the rest of its body while two rows of blue, bony plates that resembled countless twisting horns ran along its back, from the eyes to the tail. The creature was certainly unique in appearance but none more so than the eye catching sword-like tail that made Tetsu's Zanma look like a toothpick by comparison. The sun bounced off the tail that shined as though it were newly polished and cleaned of all grime and whatever else once littered its deadly edge.
Name: The Heavy Cutting Monster of the Primordial World, Glavenus (Elite Rare Spawn)
"Fuck me," was a very accurate way, perhaps the only way, that Naruto could describe his current predicament.
Despite its enormous size and heavyset built, the creature was able to jump into the air at a considerable height and position its body to bring down its massive sword like tail with all the force of a falling meteor. The impact had Naruto fall flat on his ass and the sheer force behind it kicked up a great deal of dust that served to blind Naruto to his foe's location, which was never a good thing for anyone while in fight.
Hayate and Anko had stressed that a ninja not only needed to keep an eye out on their surroundings but most importantly ensured that they kept track of their foe, too. The moment you lost sight of them spelled danger and possibly death if you weren't quick enough. Fortunately, the large dinosaur-like creature wasn't built for stealth if the thundering sound of its heavy steps were anything to go by.
"Hotto! Get out of here!" Naruto ordered. The fear of his ninken dying was abated since this was an [Instant Dungeon] so even if either was killed neither ninja nor ninken would stay dead but even then it was an experience they to could go without. Plus this was the best dungeon to earn EXP at the moment. Dying would only serve to reduce everything they earned back to zero and then they'd be forced to wait for the penalty to subside.
"Doton: Gantetsu Doran no Jutsu (Earth Release: Iron Rock Earth Riot Technique)!"
Around him in a three meter radius were deadly spears of iron tough rock ready and willing to skewer any foolish enough to come near him the moment they made a move. The more logical decision would be to run away, but with their current level difference Naruto would likely die in a single slash of its tail if he made one wrong move. The creature needed to be slowed down to give him and Hotto enough time to escape a considerable distance that it wouldn't be worth chasing.
But the creature was smarter than Naruto gave it credit, "Oh, come on!"
Abandoning his position, Naruto watched as a great big glob of molten fire struck his previous location and was forced to cover his eyes when the fiery loogie violently exploded and showered the area with sticky, stinging bits.
"Ow!" Brushing off the cause of his discomfort, Naruto just barely managed to pull off a Kagero to appear above the creature that tried to slice him in two. But the suddenness of it didn't allow Naruto time to properly maneuver himself for a decent counter-attack. Instead, the blond found himself holding onto dear life as the bellowing beast became a bucking bronco.
The wild thrashing was highly disorienting and more than once Naruto found various sections of his head making contact with the hard rows that lined the creature's back whenever it jumped and suddenly spun around. So focused and so intent was it on getting Naruto off its back did it fail to notice the charge of an angry three horned quadruped with a large bony frill on its head. The apparently fearless creature barrelled into the large predator's leg and both it and Naruto fell down to earth with a loud and resounding thud, Naruto being thrown from its back from the beast.
Raising his head from the dirt, Naruto saw the welcoming face of Hotto greeting him and Naruto quickly put two and two together, "Thanks, boy. With the big brute distracted we might be able to-"
Both ninja and ninken looked to the origin of frightened cry and were speechless and could only look on in disbelief as the large tri-horned creature was lifted into the air by its head, its tail raised to the sky, and by Glavenus using only its mouth. Higher and higher it raised the frightened creature until its fear came to a horrible end when its captor brutally slammed it into the ground with such intense ferocity that the earth gave into the incredible force it was subjected to and the prone form of the triceratops became deeply embedded into the broken ground.
Neither Naruto nor Hotto were anywhere in sight when the dust settled to reveal the elite creature feasting on its attacker. Sometime later both Konoha inhabitants were now safely hidden in an unoccupied cavern a considerable distance away. Even if the creature found them the entrance to their current hiding place was too small and narrow for it to fit through and the rocks likely too thick and too deep even for one with considerable strength such as it.
Taking it as a sign for a break, Naruto and Hottomaru enjoyed each others company as they munched on some food. A sense of déjà vu overcame him and this reminded Naruto of the time he and Hotto had dealt with the Legion Zombie some couple of months ago… or was it a few months?
"Man that time control difference still confuses me," Naruto honestly couldn't remember the exact date of the event. What Naruto did remember of that time was that he had no intention of staying in the academy for one more year if he somehow failed after all he accomplished. Fortunately, it had never come to pass thanks to Anko.
On the off chance it had, Naruto knew there were dungeons hidden around the world in other places that offered a better challenge. If he couldn't become a ninja, or become Hokage, well, Naruto had always been an adventurist and had often wanted what the world had to offer.
He might not be able to be remembered as a bad ass Hokage, but Naruto would be damned if he didn't make a name for himself and be remembered as a bad ass ninja. There was no rule that said that to be a ninja you had to be affiliate with a village. Problem was that non-village affiliated ninja had their work cut out for them and people were often weary of hiring them as many believed them to be nuke-nin.
Not only that but there were stronger, more powerful and twisted individuals outside Konoha who would easily take advantage of him. Under the tutelage of three gifted teachers he had become stronger, smarter, and better prepared. But even with his gift Naruto lacked the experience such individuals wouldn't.
"What do you think, Hotto," the ninken looked at him, "wanna see the world and travel a bit in the future?"
"Arf!" the ninken was down with that.
"Good boy," the blond grinned at the young pup. When a solid twenty minutes passed and a decent amount of HP and CP recovered, Naruto decided it was high time that they get back to it.
The dungeon was pretty damn big, vast even, and they had only seen a tiny part of it before it was one thing after another until they encountered Glavenus. Naruto hoped the thing dropped a decent sword weapon when he was strong enough to face it. Sure, he could borrow Midori, but that thing was huge, tough and would most likely give her an intense fight. Plus, it wouldn't give him that sense of accomplishment if he did. Hotto was one thing, Midori was another.
"Alright, let's be smart about this. We got about an hour or so before we need to… Hotto? Hey, where'd you go, buddy?"
"Arf! Arf!" Naruto turned around and spotted the ninken deeper in the cave, scratching at something on the wall.
"What is it, bud?" he asked and spotted a slight glimmer coming from the rock face. Unable to make it out, and it was times like this Naruto wished Seishoyo hadn't been destroyed, Naruto quickly went outside and then returned with bundle of branches. Put them all together, Naruto lit them with [Hidama] to make a fire and the glimmer became even greater. What was once a small and sparkling crack in the wall was now a series of shinning rainbow coloured veins in the cavern.
"Ore?" he guessed and used his [Observe]to see if he was right.
Yosokane (Elementium Metal) (Epic Quality - Tier 3)
Item Type: Crafting Material
Durability: One-Time Use
Description: Yosokane, or Elementium as it more commonly called, is one of the rarest forms of natural chakra metal known in existence and the most superconductive when using elemental chakra. The metal is often used to make the deadliest of weapons as it allows one to flow their chakra with no difficulties compared to regular chakra metal along with allowing one to perform other unique feats. However, despite its immense rarity and usefulness, being incredibly lightweight and durable, removing impurities and tempering the metal into a desired form is extremely difficult. Few master weaponsmiths in existence are capable of accomplishing such a task as so few who know the secrets of forging the metal remain, or are willing to share such knowledge.
As Naruto processed the information, his mind temporarily shut down as he realized what he had just found thanks to a stroke of luck. When his brain rebooted the boy couldn't hold in his joy and literally began bouncing off the walls like mad.
"FUCK YEAH!" Naruto couldn't believe his luck at the incredible find.
"New awesome weapon you will soon be….CRAP!" The happiness he felt quickly left him when his mind process something just as important: how to get it out?
The excited blond didn't care that it might be a while before he found someone who could properly forge the rare metal ore into a weapon of his choice. The fact that he found something so valuable, and most likely worth a millions if regular chakra ore was anything to go by, was more than enough for him.
None of that would matter though if he couldn't extract it from its current location.
"…Shit on a stick."
Two weeks had gone by - though for Anko, Ino and Hinata it was perhaps closer to five - and as Anko had predicted both her kunoichi were up to the standards she felt comfortable with to take on a C-Rank mission. Levelling had slowed down significantly due to their recent levels ups but the point of it all was accomplished and right on time. Now here she was in the Hokage Tower patiently awaiting for her village leader to finish up with whichever group was currently in his office, while her kunoichi were being put through the wringer by a clone of hers in one of the training fields.
Seeing the office door open, Mariko barely opened her mouth and the team was hardly out the door before Anko entered the office. Hiruzen merely blinked at the eccentric kunoichi's sudden appearance, "Anko, good timing, I was just about to send for you."
"Can it wait?" Please say no were her thoughts.
"I'm afraid it can't," he told her.
Damn! Luck was not on her side at the moment.
"It concerns Naruto, Anko," Hiruzen revealed and all childish thoughts and excitement were gone.
"What I'm about to reveal can't be repeated unless I give you permission. We believe that Mizuki and his lover and possibly other accomplices we don't know about were involved in framing Naruto," Hiruzen informed her.
"What makes you say that?" Anko had doubts given that on that night several Anbu that were either close and actually guarding the Hokage Tower were later found dead, and the autopsy revealed their bodies had been tampered with to make it look like they'd been alive for much longer.
Granted most of those Anbu were still new recruits but even then it was a very selective group of talented individuals. Only someone, or someones of greater talent and skill could get the best of them, and Mizuki and Tsubaki didn't strike Anko as those kinds of individuals.
"Records indicate they were sent on a mission outside Konoha but ever since the academy sabotaging came to light, I've been keeping an eye out on anything suspicious and this caught my eye," and by this Hiruzen meant a mission scroll he presented to the kunoichi, "The mission they went one was your basic patrol duty and a relatively short one that shouldn't have taken more than a week or two to complete. Five weeks have since past and no contact attempts have been made."
"And I'm guessing no one's seen 'em since the Scroll Incident, either?" Anko asked and Hiruzen nodded at her correct assessment, "Could it just be taken them longer than usual?" it wasn't unheard of and while couples going on a mission together had its risks it wasn't a taboo or uncommon either.
"I initially thought so myself but the lack of communication coupled with the timeline had me do some further digging. I discovered that the mission was fake. A very good one but fake nonetheless, and I've recently received word from the patrol group they were meant to join up with and neither one was seen. Their records are another factor to warrant suspicion. For Mizuki there was some initial controversy during a mission he undertook that ended with the death of a fellow ninja and he was put on temporary probation while the investigation took place. Nothing was ever found and with no proof he was pardoned and as an apology he was given the instructor position. Despite his time as an Academy Instructor Mizuki is well-versed in assassination techniques and shurikenjutsu and those who knew him say he has a silver tongue. Tsubaki on the other hand has a notable talent in small range but multi-layered Genjutsu. She's no Kurenai but she was skilled enough that she was selected as a candidate for the Anbu. However, psychological profiling didn't deem her a good fit and after learning why she failed she didn't take it well," well, that explained several questions.
"Where are they?"
"That, unfortunately, remains unknown to us. And with the head start they have they could be almost everywhere," regrettable as that sounded, "I suspect Mizuki also had a role in sabotaging the academy, too. I'm letting you know because Naruto was a target of theirs. They may or may try something down the line when you and your team leave for missions outside of Konoha. Should they make themselves known, I want them captured and brought back if possible for interrogation."
Anko nodded as nothing else needed to be said, "Wait, missions outside Konoha?" the man smiled at the woman.
"You are here to request a C-Rank mission for your team aren't you?" Hiruzen was almost worried Anko would give herself whiplash by how quickly she nodded, "We have a few but none for outside the village at the moment. We do have a few inside that I was saving for our more experienced teams but given the unique circumstances of yours I believe they're ready."
"Wouldn't be here if they weren't," Anko boasted. Even if it wasn't outside the village a C-Rank mission was still a C-Rank mission, "So, what kind is it?"
"A chakra mutation subjugation mission," Hiruzen informed her.
Anko barely even blinked as she accepted the quest and then made her way towards her team. What her village leader said about Mizuki hadn't unsettled her but the fact that he might try and target Naruto at some point gave her slight pause. Not much as it was unlikely they'd met the man and his lover anytime soon, or ever, and even if they did both would be in for a rude awakening.
"And they'd have to go through me first," Naruto could handle himself but no one targeted her wards and got away with it. The boy had long since grown on her. All of them had grown on her if she was being honest.
Even if Anko showed her affection in her own and unique way, "Lift those legs, Blondie!" Anko arrived and watched as her clone cackled at the sweat drenched kunoichi. Death, pain and other forms of torture were likely going through the Yamanaka's head and Anko was at the center of it. The woman couldn't be more proud.
Anko watched as Ino stood on one leg on an elevated wooden post while the other was raised in a striking position before she switched. Around the blond's legs were two metal rings that weighed five pounds a piece while two were around her arms. In other words, ten pounds were added per limb for a total of fourty pounds. It was a trick she learned about from Tenten that Might Gai tried getting Tetsu's daughter into.
The girl had passed on the training method, not that Anko could blame her, but weird as he was Gai knew his stuff when it came to Taijutsu and physical conditioning. The weights weren't much and Ino wasn't that weak but having to repeatedly kick with such weights beginning to weigh her down coupled with them sliding up and down served multiple purposes: balance, control, strength and endurance.
It was a fairly new form of training and so far Ino wasn't doing as bad as initially Anko feared. Sure, it was bad but then a mould needed to be broken before it could be turned into something great.
"Again!" On the opposite side of the clearing, Anko watched as Hinata was concentrating on dodging the numerous series of metal projectiles being tossed at her with frightening accuracy and speed. Those she didn't manage to dodge she didn't block with her arms and instead watched as the metal sparked and get tossed away by an arc of lightning.
Hinata continued to run and duck and try to get as close as possible to Anko's clone and more and more electrical arcs appeared as she reduced the distance between herself and her assailant. But Hinata didn't get more than a dozen feet and the shroud of protective energy failed to flare up when a kunai struck the Hyuga in the leg and had her falling to the ground.
"Again!" The doppelgänger ordered but Anko intervened.
"Belay that!" dismissing her clones, Anko ordered Ino and Hinata to huddle up, "We got a C-Rank mission, ladies."
"Yes!" Ino whopped, "About time."
"Hey, it's yer fault for taking so long to improve," Anko snarked, "Don't get too excited though. It's a subjugation quest within Konoha so we won't be going anywhere special. But before that, where's Naruto?"
"Hayate-san and Yugao-san were busy so he and Hottomaru went to tr-y out that n-new dungeon he just got," Hinata stammered a bit in her response but not as badly as when she first started.
"No problem. [Party Chat]!" Anko had sorely wished Naruto had learned of the feature month ago give its very useful applications, "[Gaki, meet us at Training Ground Eight in ten minutes. We got a C-Rank mission. Move it!]"
"That's annoying," Ino said and brushed away the pop up that appeared. It was very useful but the sound when a message arrived remained annoying still. Regardless of that, all three kunoichi made their way towards the designated area that wasn't that far from their location. Arriving in less than a few minutes, Hinata and Ino used the opportunity to rest up and heal and reduce as much fatigue as they could before they began.
Fortunately, for them at least, Naruto didn't arrive until twelve minutes later with his trademark smile on his face. Anko had her patented grin of doom instead, "Better have a good reason for being late, Gaki."
"You bet your sweet ass I do!" All three kunoichi blinked at the comment.
"Alright, thanks for telling me how great my ass is," Anko accepted the compliment; she had an amazing ass in her opinion and not many gave it the praise it was meant to get, "But don't think that sweet talking tactic will stop me from asking again."
"Trust me, I'll tell you when we're somewhere secure," Anko frowned but decided to give her longest ward the benefit of the doubt. The blond male knew better than to mess with her and trying to pull a fast one, too.
"So, what's the mission?" Naruto asked; he was eager and ready to go. Ino and Hinata were the same but much more subdued by comparison.
"This," with a wave of her hand Anko brought up the details.
Stingers, Pincers and Venom… Oh, Shit!
Main Quest: Clear Training Area Eight of 100 points worth of scorpions
Side Quest: Defeat Training Area Eight's Boss
Main Quest Completion: 4000 EXP, 25000 Ryo, +450 Reputation [Konoha Populace] Allowed to undertake more C-Rank Missions
Side Quest Completion: 2500 EXP, Allowed to undertake more C-Rank Missions
Failure: 550 EXP, -50 Reputation [Konoha Populace], Temporarily unable to undertake C-Rank Missions
Sorry for the delay. Wanted to enjoy my last few weeks of summer and all that. Can't believe we are already near the end of September. I'll do a couple more chapters of this (which will be more action packed and also go back on the canon timeline band wagon) and then I'm gonna focus on my Harry Potter Gamer story. It hasn't been updated since April or May. Well, enjoy guys! I'll try and update before Thanksgiving (I'm referring to the one in October since I'm Canadian.) Also, just so you're aware, Ino's training is based on Hung Gar (with my own added flair).