Jiraiya calmly strolled through the castle halls. He was aware that Louise was following behind him, but her input was utterly unnecessary. She seemed to be muttering under her breath, trying to convince herself that he was going to lose no matter what he did, despite the fact that he had already shown off some of his skills to her. Well that was fine, he was used to being underestimated, and it didn't matter to him that the tiny mage thought he was going to be killed.
Siesta on the other hand seemed to be genuinely worried about him. She glanced at him in a way that made him think she wanted to say something, but always stopped herself. It was a bit more understandable that that would be her reaction. Unlike Louise, she had not seen him do anything that really hinted at his true strength besides appear as if out of nowhere the previous night. However, that could just be because she wasn't paying attention and was understandably concerned for his well being as she thought he was just another commoner like her.
His sedate pace eventually had him exiting the main building and walking out into the sunshine of a fairly beautiful courtyard. He glanced around and felt an eyebrow raise at all the nobles that had gathered to witness what they were sure to think of as a lynching. However, it was a fleeting kind of observation as he felt his attention drift to the center of the courtyard where the blonde idiot was standing arrogantly with his chest puffed out and arms crossed derisively.
Jiraiya rolled his eyes at the youth's posturing, conveniently forgetting that he was much the same in his own youth, although he had a feeling he was much more driven than this spoiled aristocrat. He briefly enjoyed the sun's warmth before he finally turned to the blonde disaster.
"Alright then gaki, what are your terms for the duel?"
Guiche posed dramatically before he even replied. If he was going to be like that then this was going to take forever to get done with.
"A noble's duel has rules. You are not a noble and therefore there will be no rules."
Jiraiya cracked his neck in anticipation at the gaki's terms. Well, he didn't want to cause some sort of international scandal by killing the idiot, so he decided to make an amendment, purely for the gaki's own benefit.
"Well that's great and all, but let's just keep on going until one of us yields. Sound fair?"
Guiche gave a haughty sniff at his proposal, but nodded slightly in acceptance.
"I suppose that will work."
Jiraiya grinned at this as he slid to the center of the courtyard. The kid at least had some sense. A dramatic flair of, was that a rose?
"My name is Guiche de Gramont! My Runic name is Guiche the Bronze!"
Another wave of the rose and a vaguely humanoid armored being came into existence. Jiraiya studied the thing for a moment before sighing. It seemed that the gaki was severely underestimating him. Only one golem?
"This should be more than enough for a commoner. Prepare yourself!"
Another flourish of the rose and the thing was moving. Jiraiya felt an eyebrow raise at the head on charge that the thing was doing. It was slowly, clunky, and if not for the fact that it was made of some kind of metal, most likely bronze since that was the idiot's runic name, it wouldn't even be able to hurt a regular swordsman worth his salt.
After what felt like an eternity the thing was finally in front of Jiraiya fist raised to stroke. A swift punch clashed into the Toad Sage's face. He barely felt it. However, it seemed that the blonde idiot had yet to realize that his attack had done absolutely no damage. It also appeared that the rest of the nobles were unaware of this fact if the jeers he was hearing was anything to go by.
He scanned the crowed to see who was actually taking him seriously and was surprised to see the little blue haired mage be one of the ones not reacting, but he supposed he did pique her interest last night. It seemed that little Louise as well as Siesta couldn't bear to watch and were hiding their faces in their hands. Well, time to let the gakis know that he wasn't that easily defeated.
A well placed punch and the golem was crumbling to dust. For a moment the nobles continued their jeering, but after that moment a dead silence came over the courtyard. Jiraiya made sure to make eye contact with the blonde noble he was facing. He crossed his arms in a bored manner as he let out a discontent sigh.
"Is that it? You score one hit and don't even follow up? I'd hate to see what you'd do in a life or death battle, gaki."
A snarl made its way onto the blonde noble's visage.
"How dare a commoner insult my magic! I don't know how you defeated the bronze golem, but I assure you that you won't get so lucky twice!"
Another flourish of the rose and at least six golems rose into existence. Jiraiya felt an eyebrow rise at this development. Apparently the blonde ponce could actually work a bit of magic with that wand of his. Well, he supposed it was time to see how well they coordinated together.
In a flash Jiraiya was in the guard of one of the golems, before anyone in the courtyard knew what happened, the golem was disintegrating back to earth. Jiraiya grinned to himself. One down, five to go. He nimbly dodged out of the way of a golem that tried to attack from his blind spot, throwing a kunai to see if it was good enough to destroy one of the things.
It seemed that they were actually pretty sturdy against weapons as the kunai just bounced off. Jiraiya ducked under a clumsily swung fist, before grabbing the overextended golem and throwing it into another one. He allowed a satisfied smile to creep forth as the two disintegrated due to the force of his throw. Three down, three to go.
Jiraiya smirked as he heard an indignant shout.
"Very well, if my golems alone are not enough to best you, then I shall join the fray myself!"
Jiraiya glanced over to the blonde noble and felt a little surprise as he made a sword from the earth. However, judging by the way the idiot gaki was holding the thing, he had no idea how to actually use it in combat. A feral grin crept across Jiraiya's features.
"Well, if that's the way you want to play, gaki."
In an instant Jiraiya was in front of Guiche and the blond noble could only gawk as he felt something slam into his wrist. Jiraiya felt the boy's grip loosen and with a flourish, he stole the boy's sword straight from his hand.
He then twirled around to block an incoming attack from one of the golems, but not before noticing a bright light emanating from his new hand. Jiraiya made short work of the attack golem and then pounced on the other two, disposing of them fairly easily as well. However, he felt a frown beginning to form. True he was an okay swordsman, spending years on a battlefield and having to improvise did that to a soldier, but he shouldn't have been able to flow so smoothly with the sword.
He put the matter from his mind as a war cry sounded behind him and he twirled around to meet Guiche's reckless frontal attack. Jiraiya merely snorted as he casually slammed his foot into the noble's overextended leg. Guiche gave a cry of pain, but Jiraiya ignored it and followed up with a spinning kick that sent the teen skidding back. However, Jiraiya was actually surprised to see that the gaki had been able to somewhat dull the attack by jumping backwards instinctively and therefore wasn't out cold. Huh, maybe he had something after all. Well, time to test that.
To the amazement of everyone in the courtyard Jiraiya then threw the sword at Guiche. A startled cry was the only response before it embedded itself deep in the wall right beside Guiche's head.
"I'll admit, I'm surprised you're still conscious after I kicked you like that, but I'm pretty sure you realize that it's game over for you, gaki."
Jiraiya's words rang out in the now silent courtyard. It seemed that seeing someone actually match a magic user in combat without really using magic of their own was a bit of a shock for the nobles. However, judging by Guiche's face, he wasn't quite ready to give up yet. Jiraiya sighed at this. It was time to put one of his theories to work then, and hopefully scare a few nobles in the process.
Jiraiya flipped through hand seals and just as the blond noble was getting to his feet, Jiraiya moved. In a flash he was in front of the boy and smashed his fingertips into the boy's stomach. He took some satisfaction in seeing the gaki's eyes widen in pain, before Jiraiya surged his gathered chakra through his fingertips and Guiche's eyes rolled up before he collapsed in a boneless heap.
Jiraiya caught the boy gently, before he slung him over his shoulder like a pack of flour. He then gazed at the gathered student body and gave them a positively feral grin. It was with some pride that he saw most of the first row of students take a wary step back.
He glanced toward Louise and saw that she was opening and closing her mouth like a gaping fish. A glance a Siesta confirmed that the maid was staring at him in utter disbelief, and another glance in the direction of the blue haired girl showed that she had remained mostly unchanged, though she was now studying him very intently.
"Well, shows over for now. I think I'll take this gaki here to the infirmary."
However, before he could move the redheaded girl with a chest that may have rivaled Tsunade's appeared in front of him, arms crossed and a calculating look in her eyes.
"What exactly did you do to him?"
Jiraiya looked as nonchalant as he possibly could before he answered.
"Oh, you know just testing a theory. Pretty sure it worked."
The red head's eyes narrowed at his answer, though she waited for him to expound on it.
"Just seeing if I could seal away his magic, we'll see if it worked when he wakes up."
He looked up at the crowd of students and saw the undisguised horror on almost all their faces. Yup, looked like his work here was done, time to bring the gaki to the infirmary and see if the seal actually worked. However, they didn't call him a Seal Master for nothing. He was pretty sure the thing had stuck. So with one last wave to his gathered audience, he disappeared in a shunshin before the students erupted.
Louise felt numb as she watched her familiar disappear in a swirl of leaves. Had she actually been worried that he might get hurt? Not only had he pretty much completely defeated Guiche without the use of magic, he had made it a point to see if he could seal away magic. What the hell had she summoned?
Before any of the other nobles could come out of their stunned stupor, she was already moving, on her way toward the infirmary. She glanced to the side and saw an equally shell shocked maid matching pace with her. Well, at least she wasn't the only one who hadn't expected that outcome. It seemed Siesta had also expected Louise's familiar to crash and burn.
Louise felt her cheeks heat up in embarrassment as she remembered the speed at which her familiar could move. If that wasn't an indication to his ability, she didn't know what was. And she had dismissed it, because she had thought she knew better. Well, he had definitely proved her wrong.
It was only another minute or two before Louise and Siesta were outside the infirmary door. Louise was almost scared at what she would find as she tentatively knocked on the door. She was only mildly surprised as her familiar answered and beckoned the two girls inside.
"I'm surprised you're showing any concern for this idiot. I have a feeling he's not the most liked by the ladies."
Louise stared incredulously at her familiar. He had just claimed he could seal away magic and he thought they were here for Guiche?
"Um, I think Miss Louise is more interested in the claim you made in the courtyard. Were you really able to seal away his magic?"
Jiraiya gave an intrigued "hmm" sound as he cast a glance at the prone form of the Gramont family's son.
"Well, I wasn't entirely sure it would work, but your abilities seem pretty similar to a chakra type, so I sealed away his chakra. No idea if it will actually stop him from using his magic."
Louis shivered at her familiar's calculating gleam. It seemed he only thought of Guiche as a measuring stick for the magi of her society. She was about to say something else, when a pained groan floated over from the bed.
"What, what happened to me?"
Louise looked over to see Guiche sitting up in the bed and holding his head in his hands.
"I feel like I got hit by a dragon. Did I do something to upset Tabitha?"
Jiraiya let out a low chuckle at that and Guiche's attention immediately snapped to her familiar. Louise watched on in a sort of morbid fascination as the blonde noble scrambled for his wand, producing the item with a flourish.
"Well, it seems I still haven't taught you your place! Let us continue in our duel!"
A flourish of Guiche's wand and Louise suddenly had a very bad feeling, especially since there seemed to be a glint in her familiar's eye. A second later and the bad feeling was confirmed as Guiche's magic seemed to implode on itself and it resulted in….
Louise felt her jaw drop. Guiche's spell had exploded, just like hers always did! She felt torn between gloating that the blonde noble was now like her and being utterly terrified of her familiar.
"Well, I'd say that was a resounding success."
Her familiar's satisfied grin sent even more chills down her spine.
"Now then, gaki. As of right now, your magic is out of whack. I put a seal on you that disrupts chakra, which is something that my own people use. My theory was that I would be able to disrupt the spiritual aspect, seems that I was spot on."
Guiche could only stare at Jiraiya in horror. It was actually Siesta who broke the horrified silence within the room.
"Can, can you change him back?"
Jiraiya gave the maid a thumbs up.
"Who do you think you're talking to girly? Fuuinjutsu is my bread and butter. I can get him back to normal in record time!"
His piece said, Jiraiya then advanced on the blonde noble. Another smash to the stomach and he was once again out cold.
"There, by the time he wakes up he'll be able to use his magic again."
Louise had watched the entire exchange with a strange feeling in her chest. Could her own magic perhaps be sealed? Was it possible that she had run into someone similar to her familiar? After all, Guiche's explosion was an awful lot like her own failed attempts at casting spells. She decided to pose her query to her familiar.
"Do you think it's possible that I have some sort of seal on my magic?"
Her familiar turned his attention solely to her after her question was asked.
"Hmm, I suppose it's possible, why do you ask?"
Louise bit her lip, she felt uncommonly timid. She wanted to hope, and with that hope her familiar could be the one to help her gain the ability to actually do magic. Taking a deep breath to calm her nerves she began her explanation.
"My nickname at this academy is Louise the Zero. I hate that name. It represents my success rate at using magic."
Jiraiya held neither pity nor understanding in his gaze as he calmly listened to her fears of being unable to cast a single spell, of trying again and again and again, and still never getting the spell right. She had studied longer and harder than anyone else in her age group, but she still hadn't been able to use a spell.
When Louise ended her explanation, Jiraiya was still merely sitting calmly, but his head had turned to the side and his eyes had closed as though he was contemplating something. Finally his eyes snapped open, making Louise jump a little.
"And, even if you aren't blocked are you gonna give up?"
Louise bristled at that insinuation. She had worked her ass off to even be able to cast the explosions that she caused. All of that work wasn't going to waste on her watch.
"Of course not! If that's the case then I'll just have to find out what the real problem is! I'm never going to give up on being a mage!"
For a second she thought she saw a flash of respect in her familiar's gaze, but it was gone in the next instant.
"Alright then, meet me outside the gates in one hour. Let's see if you can back up that determination."
His piece said, her familiar stood and walked out of the room, his wooden sandals clacking on the stone tile with every step until she was unable to hear him anymore.
Louise waited for a fraction of a moment before she rushed out after her familiar. She would get to the bottom of her problem damn it!
Jiraiya gazed out across the road from a convenient tree near the castle. His fight with the blonde noble was good for a gauging ability of the students of the school. He would say that their abilities ranked around a Genin, but the actual execution was that of something lower. Well, he supposed it would be pretty easy to take on any of the students in the school, now he needed to find an adult mage to gauge how the world's mages really fought, preferably someone in the military. He supposed that would have to be a project for another time.
The more concerning aspect of that fight was his ability to wield the sword that the noble had made flawlessly. Jiraiya knew that he could handle weapons pretty well, but he also knew that kenjutsu was one of his weaker points. That left the question of how in the hell he was able to use that sword like he did. He prided himself on being able to know the ins and outs of his own abilities and to have something new just spring up and fall in his lap left him with a wary feeling.
He glanced down at the seal that was engraved on his hand. Perhaps it had something to do with being summoned into this world. He had noticed that he seemed to be the only human familiar, the rest being animals. He supposed he was something of an extenuating case. However, it seemed his musings would be cut short as he heard the footsteps of an approaching student.
Jiraiya glanced down and was rewarded with the sight of Louise, now by herself, looking around for him. Well he supposed he shouldn't keep the little noble waiting. He casually dropped down, smirking as he Louise gave a startled cry at his appearance.
"Well, nice of you to finally join me, gaki."
Louise glared at him obviously trying to light him on fire with her eyes. Since she wasn't an Uchiha that obviously didn't work, but he gave her props for trying.
"Don't scare me like that! And I arrived here within the hour timeframe!"
It looked like if he wanted to forge this little slip of a mage into something great he would have to beat that pride out of her. For the time being he was going along with the charade of being a Familiar, but as soon as he found a chance to get out of the deal he was going to take it. However, he might as well make the girl a decent mage before he left, after all she did summon him of all things. Granted he had no idea how to create a decent mage, but Jiraiya had never been one to sweat the small details.
Looking at the girl now full of a tentative hope, he decided to test something before he actually knocked the girl on her ass with an unsealing technique.
"Well, let's actually see you perform some magic first. I need to know what I'm working with before I decide if unsealing is the way to go."
Louise nodded at his instruction and began chanting a spell. Jiraiya thought that it was overly long, but also knew that a few of the jutsu that he used also required a ridiculous amount of hand signs, so he really shouldn't be talking.
A moment later and it seemed that the pink haired mage had finished her chant and with a flourish of her wand she produced….
He didn't know what he expected, but he was surprised by the intensity of the thing. Luckily he had been focused on her to the point of the spell and he could safely say that her magic wasn't out of whack. Now to break the news to the kid, who would probably not take it all that well.
Jiraiya winced as the once hopeful expression morphed into a forlorn one. Guess she was really banking on him being able to magically unseal her magic, and if that wasn't redundant he didn't know what was. Shaking his head he offered her an apologetic expression. After all, he too knew what it was like to try your damndest, but have it fail in the end.
"From what I saw, the way your magic was moving was just like the blond idiot's, but there was something a little different. I suppose you might have a different type of magic than the others at this school."
Louise sighed and Jiraiya was a little alarmed to see tears gathering at the corners of her eyes.
"Why can I never do a spell right then? I thought that you would for sure be able to answer my question!"
Jiraiya could only shake his head as the girl trembled with suppressed self pity. Damn it, he never did like seeing anyone of the fairer sex cry. He supposed that was the curse of being gallant. Sighing he flicked the girl on the forehead gently, definitely not as hard as he did last night.
She placed a hand on her forehead and gazed at him with watery blue eyes and a questioning gaze. Damn it, he was such a sucker sometimes.
"What happened to all that bravado back in the infirmary? Weren't you the one who said that you wouldn't give up? If you fail over and over again, you just brush off those failures and either try harder, or approach the problem from a different angle. I'll tell you this now, I don't get along with quitters or people who wallow in self pity."
Louise still looked at him with some unshed tears, but the longer he had talked, the more determination he could see blossoming within the girl. Apparently he had struck a chord. That was good. She would need that fire.
"Hmph, I don't need some brute of a familiar to tell me he knows anything about magic! I'm Louise Francoise Lu Blanc de La Vallière, and I will become one of the greatest mages to ever live!"
Jiraiya cracked a grin at that. That kind of determination he could definitely work with, even though he really did have no real experience with this magic other than a brief duel with what was probably not even one of the best students in the school.
"Ok then gaki, we'll see if you can actually back your words up."
Jiraiya had never had an apprentice that used something completely unrelated to jutsu before, but he definitely knew how to get results. After all, he had trained some of the strongest shinobi, he could definitely change one of the strongest mages.
It had been a day since the confrontation that her familiar had had with Guiche, and Louise was still getting used to the terrified looks that anyone gave her whenever she passed through the halls. After all, she had summoned someone that could take their magic away on a whim, and to a mage that was one of the scariest punishments that they could ever consider.
At first she reveled in the novelty of being able to walk around and not be called a Zero, but the experience was soon beginning to wear off. She never wanted to be feared. Respected, maybe, but never feared. Well, if she was honest, maybe a mixture of both, like her mother was.
After the brief meeting with Jiraiya outside the walls of the castle yesterday, her familiar had seemed to have disappeared. No matter where she went she couldn't seem to find him. It was once more early in the morning and she had wanted to go to town today to give her familiar a new weapon. She wasn't really sure if he needed one, but she figured that a warrior could always use a backup weapon of some sort.
Unfortunately, she couldn't even do that because he had ditched her! Where the hell did that brute of a familiar go?
As she was passing by the female bathhouse she heard a low giggle that seemed to be a whisper on the wind. She stopped for a moment before looking in the direction that the sound had come from and almost fell over at the sight that greeted her.
Crouching by an obvious hole and madly scribbling something in a notebook, was none other than her familiar. He was grinning like a madman and making no attempts to hide his blatant voyeurism.
Louise felt an unholy rage come over her at her familiar. She had just been spending the last hour searching for him and he had been here, peeping! That wasn't something that she could let stand. Not even bothering to really chant a spell, she merely flicked her want out and channeled as much willpower as she could towards her familiar. She never thought she would think so, but the resulting explosion was deeply satisfying.
Louise heard various screams from the bathhouse and what sounded like a stampede of feet quickly moving towards the exit. However, before anything could happen, she felt the world whisk away at an incredible pace once more. It stopped after a moment in one of the abandoned courts of the castle.
"Ah, gaki, why'd you have to go and ruin my fun?"
Louise really wanted to cast another explosive spell at her familiar, but didn't trust her aim to be true as the world had taken a rather nasty habit of spinning more than she would like. She would have to settle for a verbal explosion instead.
"You stupid, perverted familiar! What kind of pervert openly peeks into the female bathing area!?"
Jiraiya mere scratched his nose nonchalantly at her outburst for a second before turning to her.
"You don't understand gaki! I'm not a pervert!"
He then struck a ridiculous pose with his stance widened and arms outstretched. It only lasted for a moment though as he appeared right in front of her face, both thumbs held up.
"I'm a super pervert!"
Louise retaliated with another explosion. This time she definitely hit him as he went flying back.
"That's not something to be proud of, you perverted old man! I bet most of the girls aren't even half your age!"
It seemed that Jiraiya recovered pretty quickly from her explosions as he had popped up to another position a hand over his heart.
"Oh, you wound me! I'm a sage from where I'm from! One of the few so connected to nature that they can actually feel it!"
Louise sent another explosion, sending him flying back once more.
"Then you're a Perverted Sage!"
Jiraiya froze for a moment at her language before he let out an amused chuff.
"Hmm, I guess that's always going to be one of my titles."
A little put off by his abrupt shift in demeanor, Louise could only look at him questioningly.
A shake of the head and he was now looking at her with serious eyes, sitting with his legs crossed looking as though he were utterly at peace with the world.
"Well, what exactly was it that you wanted to discuss with me? You've been looking for me for a while after all."
Louise was going to answer before she replayed what he had just said in her head. She crushed the urge to smack him with another explosion, but it was a close thing.
"You knew I was looking for you!"
Jiraiya merely raised an eyebrow at that and Louise could only sigh. Of course he would know, the man was just that infuriating. She crossed her arms as she continued on with her explanation.
"In any case, I want to go into town today. I think you need a weapon that is easily available."
Just as she finished her plan, a knife was buried in the wall right beside her face, although it didn't look anything like any knife she had ever seen. However, it was definitely enough to startle her.
She glared at her familiar who had adopted an entirely too innocent expression.
"Well, what do you know? Apparently if I think real hard, kunai go flying towards people!"
He was definitely making fun of her, but for now she would have to let it slide. At the moment he held all the cards, but she would get him a decent weapon if it was the last thing she did.
"Alright, can we at least go into town and look, you never know what you might find there."
Jiraiya gazed at her for a moment, obviously deciding the pros and cons of going, before he gave a nod.
"Alright, gaki. I needed to check something out anyway."
Louise sighed as she saw a mischievous glint enter into her familiar's eye.
"I wanted to see actual bathhouses anyway, there are too many students here for me to really do good research."
With the last part being said under Jiraiya's breath, Louise chose to ignore it in favor of her sanity. Hopefully she could survive this trip with a bit of dignity intact.
Jiraiya was fairly amused by the fascination that the small mage was showing within the small town that they were visiting. Obviously she hadn't been around the more common people very often. Hopefully he would never have to take her on an information gathering mission because she stood out even more than Naruto ever did and he hadn't thought that was physically possible.
Clearing his throat, she turned to face him as they rode past a fountain that seemed to fascinate her.
"So where exactly is the place we're going to find this weapon that you insist I need?"
It looked like it took quite a bit of effort for Louise to turn her attention back to the task at hand. Apparently she had lived a more sheltered life than even he could have predicted. Well, that was easily fixed once they actually got started with the training aspects of what they were going to do. He wouldn't have any sort of lazy apprentice, even if they were a mage.
"Right, well, it should be around here somewhere, just give me a second."
Jiraiya amusedly watched on as she looked around trying to pinpoint the closest blacksmith or armory until she finally seemed to find what she was looking for.
"There it is!"
Another moment later and the two of them were walking into a dimly lit armory, Jiraiya had to make sure he ducked to fit through the door. He supposed that the warriors here were built more along the lines of the traditional shinobi and not like his own hulking mass.
Once inside, he swept a quick gaze around the shop. There seemed to be quite a few weapons on display, everything from axes to maces to swords. Jiraiya sighed as he couldn't see anything that pointed to the person being able to forge kunai or knowing someone who could, perhaps the clone he had made to gather information would fare better.
"Welcome to my humble shop!"
Jiraiya looked over to the rather portly man that greeted them. He was wearing a simple blue tunic and sensible brown trousers. He had graying black hair and some hint of former muscle. He continued on with what was probably the standard introduction that he told all the clients.
"What can I help you with?"
Jiraiya looked around again as Louise strode forward. Now was probably a good time to see if the little mage had any business sense.
He watched on in slowly dawning horror as he realized that the girl had absolutely no business sense. She was completely enamored with the first weapon that the man showed her, even though it was clearly a decorative sort of piece, outrageously expensive, and they were looking for a practical piece. Sighing, he decided to intervene before his summoner could buy him something that was liable to get him killed.
"Gaki, never buy the first thing any businessman shows you."
Louise and the owner flinched at his voice. Apparently they had forgotten he was there. Louise looked from the golden sword to Jiraiya with what looked like longing.
"But…but the sword will reflect on my status as well was yours. Shouldn't it be something grand like this sword?"
Jiraiya wanted to smack his face in frustration. It looked as though Louise was still being driven by pride. That was certainly going to be a challenge to iron out of her. Especially when she decided that she had the technical knowhow to buy a sword when a deadly warrior who had fought in more bloody conflicts and two wars than she had been alive was standing right beside her. Not that she really knew anything about that quite yet.
"Look, gaki, I know you want to go for the flashiest and what looks like the priciest sword in the shop, but pricey and flashy don't always equate to good."
He noticed that the owner was turning a bit red, either in anger or embarrassment, he didn't know, but Jiraiya was a smooth talker, he had to be to run an information network as extensive as his.
"That's not to say that the craftsmanship isn't impressive, it's just that the piece is more a decorative one than one I would take on the battlefield. After all, it would be a shame to stain such an elegant blade with blood and gore."
Louise went rather pale at his description while the owner seemed somewhat mollified. Jiraiya breathed easier at the two reactions, it seemed that the crisis had been averted for the time being. However, before he could really begin to haggle with the shopkeeper, a jarring laugh came from behind him.
"He's got you there, buddy. I think he might be the first person that came in here and wasn't even slightly tempted to get that gold monstrosity!"
Jiraiya turned around quickly. It was almost impossible for someone to sneak up behind him, that maid notwithstanding, so he really wanted to make sure he assessed whatever threat they were. However as soon as he had turned he realized that there was no one there. He was wondering if he had finally gone off the deep end and was hearing voices when one of the swords in the barrel across from him cross-guard moved and the damn thing spoke.
"I have to say, you're one of the strongest looking guys I've ever seen. Wanna team up?"
That was a ridiculous statement if he ever heard one, not in the least because how was the sword supposed to see without any eyes?
"Louise, am I hallucinating? Is this a genjutsu?"
He glanced over to the pink haired mage and saw that she too was floored by this new development. Well then, he had now learned a few things. One, even in a magic kingdom, a talking sword was pretty odd. Two, he wasn't hallucinating. Three, if someone had cast a genjutsu, or the magic equivalent, he would have to shake their hand for getting him to believe that a talking sword was plausible and that he was having a conversation with it.
He looked back to the sword and he somehow got the impression that if it had eyebrows it would be raised at him in some sort of condescending matter.
"I don't know what this genjutsu thing you're talking about is, but I'm definitely not a hallucination. My name is the great Derflinger! You can call me Derf if you feel so inclined."
Jiraiya turned around to the shopkeeper and jabbed a thumb over at Derf.
"Right then, how much for the talking sword?"
It had taken him a few minutes and a bit of haggling, but he got Derf for what was probably an outrageously cheap price for a talking sword. Apparently he had been annoying all the other customers who had gone into the shop and the owner was quite keen to see the sword out the door. That worked just fine for Jiraiya as he felt that this sword was something that was pretty unique.
"Man, it feels great to have the sun shine on me again after so long! Do you know how annoying it is to be kept in a barrel in a dark shop?"
Jiraiya chuckled a bit at the question as he positioned Derf over his shoulder. This had two benefits of making it easier for him to converse with the sword as well as being able to draw him easily if the need ever arose while still not getting in the way of the kunai hidden on his person.
"I suppose you were in there for a little while, eh? Must be nice to be out again."
Jiraiya glanced at Louise who was still pouting a bit at the fact that he had gotten Derf when she had tried to champion a few other swords, none of which looked as practical as Derf did.
"By the way, since you have sentience and everything, how old are you?"
Jiraiya heard the sword mumble for a second before he gave an answer.
"A good question! Let see now, carry the two, right! I'd say I'm about 6 millennia old!"
Jiraiya nearly tripped as Derf revealed what his age was. What the hell? Who just leaves a 6,000 year old sword lying around in some out of the way shop, especially one that not only had sentience, but also had a personality? A glance over in Louise direction and once more her stunned expression confirmed that this was pretty damn uncommon. Well, he could work with that. After all, he tried to make everything he did uncommon in some way or another.
"I gotta say, you're a pretty damn old sword."
Derf immediately had a rebuttal for that.
"Well, you're not exactly a spring chicken yourself, boss!"
Jiraiya felt a twitch develop near his eye at that.
"Hey, I'll have you know that I'm in the prime of my life!"
Everything was quiet for a moment, before the previously pouting Louise finally spoke up.
"Not even I believe that, and I've seen some of the things you do."
Damn it! Why did he have to always be put down! He was one of the most powerful shinobi to ever live! Why did he have to put up with this crap from a teenager with insecurities and a old as dirt sword!? He was the Gallant Jiraiya damn it! He should be respected!
While he was having an inner fit, Derf and Louise had been carrying on their conversation.
"So you summoned him and he has some crazy abilities, huh? I guess that's pretty interesting. So what can he do?"
However, before Louise could go blurting out his abilities for everyone to hear within earshot, Jiraiya decided to intervene.
"I'd rather we not talk about that here. My old job left me with a healthy dose of paranoia and I really don't want prying ears to hear anything we have to say."
Louise looked offended at the thought that what she perceived as commoners would dare reveal any noble's secrets.
"What!? They wouldn't dare!"
Jiraiya ran a hand over his face. Dear god, the girl was more naïve than Naruto, another thing he had never thought would happen, especially since Naruto had refused to give up on Sasuke, even after the boy had driven a fist through the blond gaki's shoulder.
"Yeah, we're gonna be working on some other stuff before I even think of trying to figure out what's up with your magic."
Louise at least had the presence of mind to look at least marginally frightened by the expression that was on Jiraiya's face. That was a good, it seemed he still had the ability to strike fear into the hearts of his apprentices. He hadn't lost his touch.
A comment from Derf made his grin grow even wider.
"You know what, partner. I think we'll get along just fine."
It took them awhile, but they finally made it back to the Academy by nightfall, for which Louise was grateful. The road was beginning to grate on her nerves as her familiar and his new found sword had been trading perverted stories back and forth for at least half the trip. She had tried to shut them up with an explosion, but Jiraiya deftly dodged the attack, and Derf just laughed uproariously at the whole situation. One of these days she would smash that smug expression off her familiar's face.
She was rolling her shoulder out when she heard something fast approaching them. A second later a salamander was flying towards her familiar. Unfortunately for the poor salamander, no one had warned it that it was unwise to try and startle her familiar and it was send in the other direction by a flying kick where it promptly smacked into a wall and slumped down into unconsciousness.
Louise squinted at the salamander for a moment before looking back up Jiraiya.
"Wait. Don't I know who this salamander is supposed to belong to?"
Jiraiya merely shrugged. Apparently he could knock out the creature without batting an eye. It made her wonder what kind of strange things he had been exposed to in his life. Sighing, she shook her head and began to walk towards her room, she needed sleep if she was going to be able to function tomorrow. They would finally have some classes and she needed to be prepared.
"Whatever, can you wake me at dawn?"
She noticed a flash of approval in her familiar's expression before it was gone and he nodded.
"No problem, I need to do a few more things before I head to bed. Good night, gaki."
Louise rolled her eyes before stifling a yawn and heading towards her room. Her bed was calling and she didn't want to ignore that call.
Jiraiya watched the tiny mage make her way back to her room with a look of approval. She was beginning to learn already. Before she would have demanded that he wake her at dawn, but at least this time it had been a request and not a demand, one that Jiraiya could oblige easily enough.
For a moment he did nothing but stand in the courtyard that they had entered in, but in swirl of leaves he was traveling to the clearing where he had summoned Pa the first night. He needed to see how the shinobi world was doing, especially since he hadn't had a real chance to summon the toad yesterday as he had been conducting very important research.
A quick summoning jutsu and the elderly toad was once more appearing in a puff of smoke. However, this time he seemed a bit baffled.
"Jiraiya-chan? Is everything alright? Why have you summoned me so soon after our last meeting?"
Jiraiya felt a bit confused at those words. Last time he had summoned Fukasaku it had been quite a long time since he had supposedly died. Now it seemed he had summoned the elder toad much quicker. Apparently the time divide was really out of whack between these two places.
"Holy shit! Did that frog just talk!?"
Oh right, he had forgotten about Derf. The elder's reaction was to merely stare at the sword incredulously.
"Did that sword just talk, Jiraiya-chan?"
Jiraiya sighed as he explained his latest escapades throughout this land of magic while Fukasaku patiently listened. He finally came to the part about Derflinger.
"And get this, apparently this hunk of metal is around 6,000 years old."
"Hey I resent that!"
Jiraiya thoroughly enjoyed the look of shock on the old toad's face. He couldn't surprise the elder often and when he did he always felt like he had accomplished something. Snorting the elder studied the sword with interest.
"I think you're the oldest thing I've ever seen, and yet you really don't act your age."
Derf snorted at that.
"Yeah, well, after a couple thousand years you start to lose your mind a little bit. Keeps me from wanting to try and slaughter everyone, I went through a phase like that once, it kinda sucked, for everyone involved."
Fukasaku merely sniffed at that.
He then turned his attention back to Jiraiya.
"Now, I'm curious as to why the summoning time has become so different, especially compared to last time."
Jiraiya nodded in agreement to that.
"I am too, maybe you should go back and then I can re-summon you. See how much time passes?"
Fukasaku appeared to think over his suggestion for a minute before he nodded his consent.
"It would probably be for the best."
Jiraiya nodded as the toad disappeared in a plume of smoke. A minute later he reappeared with another plume.
He blinked for a second before nodding.
"It seems only a few seconds passed before I was summoned this time. Ma is probably going crazy right now trying to figure out what's going on."
Jiraiya grinned at that. Well, at least they had their answer for the time being, although there was no telling when that might change.
"Since there's nothing for you to really report, how about you just stay back for now, I'll summon you again in a couple of nights unless something comes up."
Fukasaku once more nodded his consent.
"I'd hate for Ma to be too furious with me for constantly being in and out. Go ahead, I'll see you when you summon me again, Jiraiya-chan."
Jiraiya gave a nod of acknowledgement before Fukasaku once more disappeared in a puff of white smoke. Jiraiya cracked his neck as he sprang up into the trees. Now it was time to go over everything that his clone had picked up during its time in the town.
"I'll say this about you partner, there's never a dull moment with you."
Jiraiya grinned at that. He did try after all.
Louise was feeling somewhat sluggish as she dug into her breakfast. She had been awoken by her familiar, but he had disappeared almost right afterwards, she had also spotted Kirche looking around as though trying to find someone, but she had put that out of her mind for now. It felt as though her sleep had been disturbed in the night. She felt as though there were half remembered dreams, but every time she tried to remember what she had dreamed about, she realized that she couldn't quite remember.
Sighing, she half-heartedly ate. Although there were classes today, her familiar had told her to meet him in one of the many unused courtyards after she was done. Well, she supposed she wasn't going to get anywhere with breakfast today because the toast she was attempting to eat tasted like wood. She pushed her half finished plat away and began to make her way towards the courtyard.
As she was walking she noticed the maid, Siesta, was also making her way in that direction. Louise decided that she wouldn't mind some sort of companionship, even if it was the maid who offered it, as she walked towards her familiar.
Siesta looked startled for a moment before she turned around and smiled at Louise.
"Good morning, Miss Valerie."
Louise returned the greeting with a nod.
"What are you doing at the moment?"
Siesta seemed somewhat surprised that Louise was even attempting to make small talk, and Louise supposed she was actually a little surprised at herself. Before summoning Jiraiya she would never have thought to try and talk with the help, she would have thought it beneath her. Thankfully Siesta answered before anything could get too awkward.
"Oh, I'm just going to enjoy the sun in one of the courtyards before the day really begins. Yourself?"
Louise grimaced as she continued on to whatever she was about to face.
"My familiar wanted to talk to me about something and I'm curious about what it is."
Siesta seemed interested at the mention of Louise's familiar.
"Would it be alright if I tag along?"
Louise shrugged in response to the maid's query.
"I don't see why not. I'm pretty sure he didn't tell me to come alone or anything, just to make sure that I meet him after breakfast."
Siesta nodded and the two continued their trek towards the empty courtyard that Jiraiya had pointed out. When they got there they were greeted by a strange sight.
Louise hadn't noticed, but while she was at breakfast, Guiche was conspicuously absent. Apparently he had taken it upon himself to go and annoy Jiraiya, even though he was clearly terrified of the man, if the shaking was anything to go by.
"Please! I need to become stronger and you're the strongest person in the Academy! Please teach me so that I can be able to fight and not bring any more shame to my family name!"
Jiraiya looked utterly uninterested in the boy as he casually picked his ear with his pinky.
"And I've told you, gaki, I don't know if you have what it takes. Aren't all the mages supposed to be terrified of me right now? I can seal your magic away like I did before."
That seemed to make Guiche pause, but he continued right on through anyway.
"I know that, and while that does scare me somewhat, I know that I can never be a true warrior if I let fear rule me. I want to become stronger!"
Jiraiya sighed at this, but if Louise had learned anything about her familiar, it was that he respected people who stuck to their guns and didn't give up.
"Fine, I'll give you a little training on the side. It would probably do you some good to get toughened up anyway. Why do the weirdos always flock to me?"
Louise snorted at that as she approached her familiar.
"I'm pretty sure you're king of the weirdos, especially since you walk around looking like that."
Jiraiya sniffed haughtily at her comment.
"I'll have you know I am the height of fashion where I come from."
Louise rolled her eyes as she turned to Siesta.
"Somehow I doubt that."
However, now wasn't the time to be swayed by her familiar's ever odd behavior. She needed to know what she was going to be doing before she began to go crazy.
"So why exactly did you want us to meet out here?"
Jiraiya grinned at her, and Louise had a sinking feeling as she looked at his mad grin. That expression suddenly made her doubt her own intelligence in seeking him out.
"Well, although you don't believe me about a lot of things, I want you to believe this. I can say with no attempts at boasting that I'm a damn good teacher. However, what I teach isn't magic and it isn't something you'll ever find in books. No, what I really teach is the ability to survive. Not just get along in life, but to survive any encounters you might face, or if you can't do that at least make your sacrifice mean something."
Louise was enraptured by her familiar's words. It seemed as though he thought that they were all going to be attacked at any given time, even though they were safely ensconced within the Academy.
"I can tell you now, you two nobles live in a delusional world. You have no real danger sense and if you ever have the need to be without the title of nobility, your ship will be well and truly sunk. I've made the best damn survivors there are because they have the guts to survive. I've seen it a bit in the two of you, but personally I don't think that it's enough. After all…."
Suddenly Louise couldn't breathe. Her lungs were compressed into her chest as though an invisible force had clenched them and would not let go. In a flash one of her familiar's strange knives were flying towards her head and she felt it pierce into her brain. She was dead and she couldn't…
As suddenly as that had happened, it stopped. Louise took in a lungful of glorious air. She was vaguely aware that Guiche was emptying the contents of his stomach not too far away from them and that Siesta seemed to have fainted from the sensation.
Louise then realized that he was on her hands and knees and that she couldn't seem to stop shaking.
"That's just a taste. I don't know if there are the types of monsters in human skin that I am in this world, but even if there aren't, I'm going to make damn sure that if someone like me pops up, you can take care of yourselves."
Louise nodded as she shakily got to her feet, she didn't know if she could speak yet, although Guiche seemed to have gotten that back. He was mumbling something under his breath and Louise caught a little bit of it.
"I challenged him to a duel! What kind of idiot am I! A noble's pride? Ha!"
Louise could understand the sentiment, it seemed as though Guiche was actually lucky that her familiar seemed more inclined to merely test a theory and see if he could seal magic away. As she looked at him, she couldn't help but shiver. He seemed so goofy almost all the time that she sometimes forgot what he was like in the fight with Guiche. If he could be like that, were there others? Other people who looked completely normal, but had an iron will and the ruthlessness needed to kill?
Surprisingly, it was the sword on Jiraiya's back that popped up and somehow gave a low whistle.
"God damn, Partner. You must be a beast. I haven't felt killing intent that powerful in ages, and you didn't even act on it."
Jiraiya grinned at Derf's statement as he folded his arms and looked at the two recovering mages.
"Oh, you haven't seen anything yet. By the time I'm done with these two, they'll be ready fror almost anything. Now then, shall we get started?"
Yeah, Louise was questioning her decision to come to her familiar for help. Maybe she had gone crazy, but if he was able to get her to utilize her magic, then she would go through any punishment he could give her. She was tired of being a Zero, it was time to see if she could be anything else.
Hmm, yeah let's stop it there. Well, I gotta say, the response to this story has been phenomenal. How the hell did it get 80 reviews, over 300 favs and follows and almost all reviews being positive? I have no idea, this was an idea that I thought could be fun, might be interesting, especially since Jiraiya is one of my favorite characters. Anyway, thanks a ton for the positive responses and I hope this chapter meets your guys standards, if it doesn't, then sorry, I'm only human and can't please everybody. It pleases me and that's what really matters as why write something that I, myself, won't read?
So, there were a few minor quibbles that kept on pooping up in multiple reviews that I'm gonna address here, if you never read author notes then you'll probably still be scratching your head even after I explain it here. One of the overwhelming things that you guys seem to be under the impression of is that Jiraiya has only one arm. That's not the case, he has both arms, in the previous chapter he got it back during the sealing of the familiar contract, many people were surprised by this. I guess I just didn't write it clear enough. Does this mean that Jiraiya is ridiculously overpowered for the start? Why, yes, yes it does. However, as we go on there will still be challenges, especially since he can be taken by surprise on occasion. In my mind there are mages that can match him, but we don't see any of them quite yet. People like Karin and Colbert are on his level, but they generally don't fight unless absolutely necessary.
Another thing people were talking about was the closeness to cannon, and sorry, but there will be a semi closeness probably throughout the story. However, think of that as more of a template than anything else. Shit is going to change within cannon merely because of Jiraiya's presence, some people who die will live, some who live will die, that's just how I envision this story. There will be major changes probably later on, but right now we're in the setup stages. If that drives you nuts, I'd recommend staying away for a bit and then coming back to see if it meets more your taste as the story progresses.
Right then, I guess it's time for my usual spiel. This chapter was unbetaed so if there are any typos or grammar errors that's why. This shit is over 9k in length for a chapter, I'm sure there's something. Questions, comments, concerns? PM me! If you're interested in betaing this story, PM me! If you're feeling kind please leave a review on the way out, there not the sole reason I write, but I'll admit to every once in awhile going through them and thinking, they like the story! I must write more! Tis a weakness that I think all author's on this site share. I think that's pretty much everything so onto the disclaimer!
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or Zero no Tsukaima! They belong to Kishimoto Masashi and the late Nobaru Yamaguchi respectively. Please support the official release!
P.S. For anyone who's interested, I recently joined a group of authors called Team Dragon Star and did a one shot for them called The Rabbit Hole. It's a DBZ fic and I quite enjoyed writing it. I'll also now be contributing to some of their stories, a link to both the one shot and the author page can be found in my profile. RedhathackerSin out!