I don't own Naruto.
"Ryosuke," A man said. He had pale skin, a sharp, pointed chin, icy blue eyes and slicked back white hair. He wore a royal purple jacket with gold trimmings that fell mid thigh, white trousers and boots accented with golden swirls. They sat in a training room. Wooden swords; metal swords; wooden dummies, with slash marks and dents from strong sword strikes; blood stains caused by painful training exercises and spars littered the floor, sprawling around the room; and a young boy, wearing nothing but Hakama sat in the middle of the room with his eyes closed. He had long white hair and his teenage body was developing muscles.
"What, Oyaji?" Ryo asked in exasperation, not even opening his eyes.
"Manners, Ryosuke," He chided. Ryo glared at him.
"I don't care 'bout that shit."
The man sighed. His son was always like this. He was so rude.
"Bad manners are a sign of weakness."
Ryo scoffed. "You pulled that out of your ass, oyaji," Ryo said, his eyes opening and looking at his father with a detached expression. "Dyin' is a sign of weakness. Not swearin'."
The man chuckled. "I suppose that is true. I don't know anything about weakness, after all, I am the strongest in Iron Country."
Ryo rolled his eyes.
Not for long.
Ryo stood up, grasping a wooden sword in his hands. "Aren't you going to train, too, Oyaji?"
"I have no need to." He waved off. "It's not like anybody can challenge me."
"Whatever," Ryo said, turning away from the man. You ain't gonna be sayin' that when you're dead by my feet.' Ryo thought. 'I'll rip that title away from ya. Family don't mean nothin' to me. I just want to be the strongest.
Ryo looked behind his back at his father as the man walked away, too. What an arrogant idiot. Sasaki Kojiro was labelled as the strongest man in Iron Country. The slayer of hundreds. The man that had never lost a duel before. He didn't see the small frown that marred Kojiro's face.
Ryo had no respect for him.
The man only challenged people he was sure he could beat. Iron Country had some strong fighters that didn't duel and he had never fought anybody from the neighbouring Blizzard country before.
At 14 years old, Ryo knew he couldn't beat his father just yet, but he was close. Kojiro was skilled but he was complacent. He no longer trained. He no longer grew stronger.
Ryo despised it.
People lined up down the streets, all were tense and watched with bated breaths. The silence suffocated the area. Ryo was in the crowd, eyes drifting to and from the scene. He opted to wear some boots in the snow, but still neglected any clothing on the top half of his body.
Two people stood in the middle of the street. One was Kojiro, Ryo's father. He had a nodachi in his hand; the blade was 5 feet long and the hilt was a snowy white. The sheathe was strapped to Kojiro's back and he stared down his opponent with no warmth in his gaze.
His opponent was a man wearing a brown furred coat, black trousers and boots and had a katana in his hands. His skin was dark and scarred and he had a black goatee. His bald head was almost shining.
"Do you think that you can stand up to my Monohoshizao (laundry drying pole)?"
"What kinda name is that?" The man snorted. Kojiro's eyes hardened.
"You dare insult my pride?" Kojiro said stonily.
"What are you going to do about it?"
Kojiro didn't reply to his question.
"Come at me. I'll end this in one strike."
The man sneered. "It's your death," he gritted out, before rushing at Kojiro.
Kojiro stood still, watching as his opponent neared him. The man held his sword over his head, opting to slash downwards at Kojiro.
Ryo watched from a distance.
What the fuck is that idiot tryin' to do? Oyaji's got the advantage in distance. His blade is longer. Rushin' like that with no guard is gonna get ya killed. He's got no defense or anythin' like that. What a loser.
Kojiro just swiped his sword, it becoming a blur in the air, the sound slicing tore through the atmosphere. The man stumbled, and then a spray of red spewed from his midsection, Kojiro stood to the side to avoid it.
Ryo narrowed his eyes as he saw a small cut appear on Kojiro's forehead. 'Ya got hit by that dumbass? You're gettin' weaker Oyaji.'
Any slither of respect Ryo had for his father was now gone. Kojiro looked at his son, searching his face for something. For the tiniest hint of approval. When his face didn't even change, he looked away, frown marring his face.
His victory did not feel like a victory without his son's approval.
'Why doesn't he respect me?' Kojiro thought. He knew that his son respected strong people and he wanted his son's respect. He did everything he could to make him believe in his strength, but it wasn't enough. It was never enough.
I could kill him now. Ryo realised. He's not as strong as I thought he was.
Ryo closed his eyes. He would do it after the next duel. Just to make sure.
The blood on Kojiro's head dripped down onto the snow and slowly spread out. A crow cried in the distance and the skeletal trees stirred silently.
Yes, after the next duel.
Ryo sat across from his father in the dark room. Ryo met his father's icy blue eyes.
"So, you're fightin' somebody from Blizzard Country?" Ryo asked his father.
"Yes, his name is Musashi Miyamoto. He's never lost a duel, either," Kojiro said. Ryo's eyebrow rose.
Well that's new. He ain't fought anybody strong in a long time.
Kojiro saw the small gleam of approval on his son's face. Maybe I'll get his respect now. The strong don't fight against the weak. They step on them. The strong fight against the strong.
"Groovy," Ryo said. Kojiro smiled softly and his hand gingerly brushed the small scar on his forehead.
I'll earn your respect, Ryosuke.
The sun had long fallen from the top of the sky and with the fatigue of evening it had fallen so it was almost brushing the ground in the distance. The street was almost empty. The few people that were there had heavy eyes. The peachy rays of the evening sun almost lulling them to sleep.
In the middle of the street stood Kojiro whose face was twisted with rage. He was standing impatiently in the street. Ryo watched him from the corner of the street, sitting on a wall lazily.
'Is he not gonna show?' Ryo thought. 'Oyaji ain't gonna walk away now. His pride is on the line. Looks like I'll be waitin' a bit longer.'
The eerie silence was broken when a silhouette strode through the distance with the purposeful steps of a predator. His hair was like a lion's mane and his yellow eyes glowed in the darkness. He was holding a long stick over him and was rather short. He couldn't have been any taller than 5"2.
Ryo's eyes brightened. He could feel it. The man's aura. It was ferocious. It was wild. It was savage.
The air reeked of blood.
Slowly the shadows lifted and the mane-like hair was revealed to be red and the man was wearing grubby brown clothes, worn and torn. The scent of blood was replaced by something foul.
'He ain't washed his clothes.' Ryo realised. He could smell it even from a distance.
Holy shit, he stunk.
Ryo then noticed that his weapon was a rowing ore. He almost gaped at the audacity.
Kojiro twitched and his hands tensed on his sword tightly.
"You're four hours late," he stated blandly. "Have you no pride, no respect?"
The man, Miyamoto, grinned wildly.
"Four hours late, four hours early. It won't make any difference. Your life is at forfeit."
"Simply unacceptable," he muttered. "You don't even wash. How am I supposed to respect you when you do not respect yourself?"
Miyamoto's energy spiked and he spun his ore around and then pointed it at Kojiro, one leg forward and the image of a lion appeared behind him, roaring with all its might. Kojiro's energy flared, too. All that was visible behind him were two shining red eyes.
Ryo's eyes were glued to the scene. I ain't seen him like this before.
Kojiro gave a backwards glance to Ryo.
"I can't lose today," Kojiro said, his voice firm in determination. His lifted up his nodachi and Miyamoto readied his ore.
An unspoken agreement was made between their eyes and the both rushed forward. Kojiro swung his sword down with a battle cry, only to hit nothing. His eyes widened and he felt Mamoru to the side of him, the back of the ore travelling to his face. Kojiro reacted quickly and with a swift movement, he deflected it with his hands that were on the hilt of his blade.
He felt his fingers break and he winced with pain. The other side of the stick came at him and he deflected it with his sword weakly, but his fingers were too injured and the sword fell from his hands.
Ryo watched, a low hum escaping his mouth as he watched.
Musashi brought the ore down on the defenseless Kojiro's head. He was knocked to the floor, skull broken. He could feel his life fading away.
Ryo stood up and walked over to the battle site. Miyamoto watched the kid carefully. Was this Kojiro's son?
"You killed my Oyaji," Ryo stated, no anger present in his voice.
"I did. What are you going to do about it. Do you want revenge?"
Ryo looked down at his father, watching as the life faded away from his eyes.
"No, he died 'cos he was weak," Ryo kicked his dying body. "Revenge is fightin' for the honour of somebody who can't do it for 'emselves. There ain't no honour in weakness."
Miyamoto's eyes were wide. This kid… what was he saying?
Tears slowly fell out of Kojiro's eyes as he died on the floor. He couldn't get his son's respect. How could he call himself a man, a samurai, without the respect of his son?
"You stole my kill," Ryo said fiercely. "You're now the strongest," he glared and Miyamoto felt the beginnings of an aura developing.
'Is that the devil?' He thought. He searched Ryo's eyes. There was an undeniable thirst for power and strength in them. It was consuming him.
"My goal is ta kill the strongest," Ryo's hair swayed in the breeze. "You're my target."
Miyamoto Musashi nodded.
"Then fight to kill me. I'll be waiting for you. What's your name kid?"
"I'll remember that."
Ryo set one last disgusted look at the weak waste of flesh laying on the ground and spat on his face, his father closing his eyes in shame.
He would never wake up again.
He died as trash, not as a man.
Without the respect of his son.
Ryo looked at the dead body of the man he had cut down with no remorse. No regret.
"Weak," he muttered, spitting on the man's dead body. He walked off into the distance. He still refused to wear a shirt. It may have been snowing, but that didn't matter to him. He tied his white hair into a high ponytail and he fingered the swords on his belt casually.
He walked off into a bar, looking at all the judging faces. It had been 2 years since that day and Ryo couldn't find that man. He wanted to kill him, to be the strongest. He spent time following rumours, but always missed him.
He sat at the bar.
"Whaddya want kid? You're too young to be drinking here," the bartender said. Ryo didn't say anything, he just met his eyes silently.
Those eyes. Those are the eyes of a warrior.
"Alright kid, what you gonna have?"
"Saké." Ryo answered simply. "Don't give a crap what kind."
The man raised an eyebrow.
Ryo's eyes drifted around the bar sharply. It was full of Samurai and they were all giving him those looks. Looks that said that they thought they were better than him.
He didn't like it one bit.
Everybody froze when they felt the massive killing intent from the young boy. A red aura spilled off Ryo and his head turned back, glinting, showing them a flicker of the flames of hell. He turned away and the killing intent faded.
"That kid…" he heard a samurai whisper.
"I've never felt anything like it before."
"He'd be real handy to have in the war."
Ryo's ears twitched as he started listening intently.
"Haven't you heard? The war between Iron Country and Blizzard Country, There's been conflicts about land and borders and stuff."
Ryo took a sip of the saké he had just received straight out the bottle.
"I don't give a fuck about how handy he would be in the war. Who the hell does that wet behind the ears brat think he is?"
Ryo didn't react, he just gulped down all the saké.
The man stood up. He was wearing black Samurai garb and he had blue hair and black eyes.
"I shouldn't what? Don't get scared. He's just a brat," the man sneered. He walked up to Ryo and put a hand on his shoulder. Ryo looked up at him with a lighthearted grin."
"Wwwhat do ya w-want," Ryo slurred. The man sneered and pulled his fist back to punch Ryo.
He swung his fist at Ryo's face, but Ryo slumped against the counter and the fist went past his head harmlessly.
"ARGH!" the man screamed. Ryo had his elbow in the back of his head. There was a definite crunching sound and everybody winced.
"I'm sorrrrrry," Ryo apologised. He stood up and faced the rest of the bar, who were glaring at him.
"I know Jinsuke shouldn't have done that, but that kid caused some serious damage."
Ryo smiled and stumbled sloppily.
"Oh? Sorry about that?" Ryo apologised, cheeks rosy and smile on his face.
"We can't just let that go," one samurai said, cracking his knuckles. Ryo's face tilted to the side and his grin got wider.
"Hahahahahahahahaahhahaaha," he laughed, voice cracking. A wild smile graced his face and his head was tilted to the side. He slouched down so his body looked like a puppet with cut strings. His red aura flared and the image of the devil appeared right behind him.
"Then ya have ta teach me a lesson, right?" Ryo said, sounding rather happy.
The men looked at each other and nodded.
Ten minutes later everybody was on the floor and Ryo was grinning in the middle of them.
"That ain't what they expected," Ryo said in an alcohol induced state of happiness. "Sorry barkeep, he chirped. He kicked a downed body lightly. "Put my drink on this guy's tab."
And with that he walked out.
The barkeeper's hands shook as he looked at the kids' - no, the devil's - back.
Ryo glared at his opponent. He had joined the Samurai army of Iron Country because he heard that they were fighting a war with Blizzard Country soon. He joined in hopes of fighting Musashi Miyamoto on the battlefield. When he killed him, he could then go on to call himself the strongest.
Right now he had a wooden sword in his hands and he was snarling at the man across from him. The man had pale, long blond hair and a braided ponytail going down his back and he had purple eyes. He was wearing brown robes and leather armour.
"You're too aggressive," the man chided.
"Watch'ya self, Ganryu-han," Ryo bit out. Ganryu chuckled, a wide grin on his face.
"All that killing intent you're putting out is making you predictable."
"Predictable? I'll show ya predictable!" Ryo growled. He vanished from where he was standing, letting out a sharp battle cry as he swung his weapon with excessive force. Ganryu didn't move and Ryo's eyes went wide when His arm was caught with ease. Ganryu lashed out and gave him a devastating kick to the mid-section that sent him tumbling away.
"See what I mean?"
Ryo clenched his fists on the ground and nodded. "You need to learn how to lessen it. As it stands now, I don't even need my eyes to fight you."
1 year later
The ground was red with white spots. Discarded katana; abandoned wakizashi; slashed pieces of armour; decapitated limb that had been mutilated by a sword; wide opened eyes, the horror etched in them for an eternity; fresh corpses, rich with the scent of fresh blood and other… substances; and a murky mist dancing in the abode of death.
Hundreds of were bodies laid on the ground; all were dead.
Sasaki Ryo sat on a dead body right in the middle of the carnage. He was covered in blood, but only had a few scratches on him. His eyes were cold and unforgiving as he stood up. He was wearing the white armour of his country and his ponytail was tied up high.
He stood up and flicked the blood off his sword. He re sheathed it and walked off, seeing a few of his comrades in the distance. He appeared right before them and they looked at the scene with wide eyes.
"Did you do that, Ryo?"
Ryo nodded, but didn't reply.
"We were rushing for reinforcements…"
"Too late now," Ryo replied. "I didn't need 'em anyway."
"But you told us to go-..."
"Cos' I wanted ta fight em myself."
"Are you crazy? You could have died!"
"Tch… I ain't gonna die yet," Ryo said calmly. He walked away, shoving past them without turning back.
Why ain't I fought ya yet? Ryo seethed internally. It's been six months. Are ya not fightin'?
Ryo looked back and vanished again.
"He's really something huh?"
It was true. Ryo was becoming a legend on the battle field. He had trained relentlessly for the last year. He had listened to Ganryu's advice and tried to get rid of his killing intent, but he couldn't do it. Instead, he had opted to re-direct his killing intent in a wave of genius. He talked like a brute, but he was rather smart. He had created a new style.
He had taken to using alcohol when he fought. He got in a trance when aided by it and his fighting abilities were greatly enhanced. He didn't know why, but it just came naturally to him. His wild and unorthodox fighting style instilled fear into his opponents and before he knew it his own legend had started to build up. About a demon on the battlefield who cut down man after man effortlessly… a monster.
The Drunken Disaster.
Ryo walked up into the mountains with no shirt or shoes on. His toes were almost solid in the sub zero temperatures and he glared into nothing.
The war with Blizzard Country was over. He had slain countless of men, but not the one man he wanted to slay. The title of strongest was in his grasp, but he couldn't grab hold of it.
He had to kill him.
Even though he thought his father was weak and he had seen plenty of people stronger than him during his time in war, he still held the title of strongest and this Miyamoto guy took it from him.
Ryo wanted it.
So when that red haired bastard didn't show up in the war, Ryo was, understandably, agitated. He wanted to cut him down. He wanted to bathe in his blood. He wanted to clash with the strongest of titans, to wipe him off the face of the planet.
A strange grin appeared on his face.
He had found him. After months of tracking him down, he finally found him. He could taste it… the title of strongest. It was in his grasp. He laughed lowly.
His eyes scanned the area. He spotted a bird pecking at the frozen ground for food. It pecked and pecked, but it couldn't get any. It finally managed to break through some of the ice, but it didn't get what it wanted. It worked so hard to break the ice, but there was nothing for it but discontent.
Ryo kept his gaze on the birs until a small shack was visible in the blizzard. Ryo grinned madly and ran at it.
That's it! Ryo thought. I ain't settlin' for anythin' less than blood.
He finally reached the shack and kicked the door down.
"Musashi Miyamoto?" Ryo called out, looking in the small room. He saw Miyamoto in the corner, his eyes dead and he looked much more frail. He was wrapped up in warm clothes and had a blanket around him.
"Who are you?" He asked, his voice dry and raspy. He saw the familiar silver hair and lack of a shirt.
"Sasaki Ryo," Ryo announced, giving him a cold look. "I ain't leavin' without ya head."
"That kid, huh?" Miyamoto said. "I heard some stories about you. You've gotten strong."
"Yeah, so fight me!" Ryo demanded.
"I'm not as strong as I used to be. I'm sick. My body is weak," Miyamoto said, closing his eyes and looking down. "I can't fight you as I am."
Ryo gritted his teeth. All this work… his goals… his life… and this guy was telling him to give up? What a bastard! "You said that you'd be waitin' for me."
"I'm sorry," Mamoru said, looking at the ground shamefully, he had ruined this boy's dream.
"Sorry? That ain't gonna cut it. I'm takin' your head so fight me right now!"
Mamoru looked up. "I can't. I have a son. Surely you must understand? I gave up that life… I was a terrible father, fighting instead of giving my son and wife the love that they deserved and my wife died because of it. Please understand!"
"I don't give a shit about your life. You're the last steppin' stone on my path to becomin' strongest," Ryo snarled.
"You don't understand!"
"No you don't understand," Ryo said, a smile full of nothing but malicious intent on his face. "Ya said ya have a son? How 'bout I kill him. Would ya fight me then?"
Ryo's aura turned from red to black. The shadows coated his face and he was unforgiving and cold. Pure power radiated off him.
He was in his prime.
"Try me," Ryo tested, looking unflinchingly into his opponent's yellow orbs of fury. Sparks flew out of them he had a feral sneer on his face.
"I won't let you touch him!" Miyamoto roared.
"You have to kill me to stop me," Ryo smirked, walking out of the shack. Ignoring all his pain, Miyamoto forced himself up and snatched a pole out of the corner of the room.
Ryo stood out in the snow and and faced Mamoru who was silently seething.
"Come at me," Ryo said cooly and Miyamoto growled.
"If you kill me, nothing will change," Miyamoto gritted out. "You won't get any stronger and nobody will acknowledge you for cutting down a dying man."
Ryo almost froze at the words, but he ignored them, opting not to think about them.
"I don't give a shit," Ryo said. "So come at me."
Miyamoto nodded silently and rushed at Ryo, preparing his pole for a strike. He had to make the first move. He didn't have the strength to dodge anymore. Ryo watched him, his eyes intently following Miyamoto, looking for a pattern in his attack.
Miyamoto swung his pole forward.
He's missed. Ryo thought as the pole swung just in front of his face.
Miyamoto looked forward And in mid-swing, I'll step forward.
Ryo's eyes went wide as it approached his cheek and he quickly leant his head back, the pole dodging his face by a hair's breadth.
'Not fast enough...' Ryo thought. He went to lash out with his sword as Miyamoto's back was turned but his head was smacked by the back of the pole.
Ryo's eyes went white as he stumbled to the ground.
And I complete the rotation… you're already dead. Miyamoto thought.
Ryo grunted as he went to fall his eyes went blurry.
'Not now...' Ryo thought, 'I lessened the blow by movin' my head in the same direction that I got hit, but it still hurts… but I ain't gonna lose.'
Ryo righted himself mid-fall and brought his sword up as his did so. Following through with the motion, he felt his skin tear flesh. Miyamoto's eyes were wide as he stumbled forwards and collapsed face first into the snow wordlessly.
Ryo balanced himself on his two feet and looked at the corpse.
I don't feel anything...'Ryo thought. He had expected to feel accomplished, liberated or stronger… at least something. He didn't though. He felt empty. He was not satisfied. His eyes were blurry.
He looked up at the birds wistfully and the snow felt his face. Suddenly, all he felt was guilt. What had he been doing all these years? He couldn't say he regretted what he had done, but he felt guilty. He had slain hundreds, no thousands of people in pursuit of one man… one man he didn't even get anything out of killing.
He looked at the man's corpse and remembered his words. He turned back and looked away from the body.
"Ain't nothing ever gonna change," he muttered. He heard a few footsteps and he looked to the side.
He spotted a small boy with shaggy red hair. He looked just like the man he had killed. Hot tears fell from the boy's yellow eyes.
"You… you killed Tou-san," the boy said, bringing up a finger to point at Ryo. His finger shook.
"What if I did? What're ya goin' ta do?" he taunted. The boy clenched his fists and charged at Ryo.
"I'LL KILL YOU!" he yelled. Ryo scoffed as the boy ran at him. Waiting until he was in range, Ryo punted the kid in the mouth, sending him flying back.
The boy, still conscious sat up, holding his mouth as blood poured from it.
Ryo walked off without a second glance and the boy watched helplessly as his father's murderer walked away without a word.
"If ya wanna kill me, get stronger. Right now, all ya are is a dog, not even worth killing. All bark an' no bite." Ryo said, not glancing back.
To Mamoru, Ryo looked massive, like a giant. He clenched his fists in the snow as tears dripped from his eyes.
Ryo sighed. Was he doing the right thing? He was giving the kid something to live for… but… he didn't even know anymore. Why did he do the things he did? He didn't even know himself.
When did he even care about doing right?
Was it this strange feeling in his stomach that compelled him to just give a shit for a change?
Ryo vanished into the distance, goal fulfilled, but not content. He could call himself the strongest now, but what was it worth? He didn't feel any different. What even was strength?
He looked at his hands, coated in the blood of thousands. He could never atone, hell he didn't want to.