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"Sakura-chan!" - Regular Speech

'Baka!' - Thoughts

:Shannaro!: - Inner Sakura

[Quest Announcement] - Gamer Ability/Notification

Beta'd by BigCC

Chapter 23: D-Rank Drudgery

The Next Day

Hokage's Office, Hokage Tower, Konohagakure

'Sometimes, I hate my life.' Naruto growled out from the depths of his mind, one eyebrow twitching erratically.

It wasn't the first time he'd had such thoughts, though it was the first time in a fair bit of time that he'd done so. The source for the young Jinchūriki's ire was currently floating lazily in front of his face, a screen of pale blue amidst a world of grey.

[Repeatable Quest: D-Rank Drudgery]

You are a rookie genin. Doing demeaning chores and acts of unskilled labour serve as both a means to pop any sense of ill-founded arrogance that might have formed on gaining your credentials as a child soldier and as a way for you to earn pocket money while giving your Jonin-sensei an opportunity to assess and train you to the level that you can go on more difficult missions.

Number of times completed Overall: 0

Number of times Quest has been completed today: 0/2

Selection of D-Rank Missions:

- Painting Fences - [_]

- Walking Inuzuka Clan Dogs - [_]

- Babysitting - [_]

- Weeding a Garden - [_]

- {High D-Rank} Catch Tora the Cat - [_]

- {High D-Rank} Deliver messages to nearby village - [_]

(Scroll Down For More Choices)

Quest Rewards:

Standard for all missions: 500 EXP

- Painting Fences: +300 Ryo, +50 Reputation with [Konohagakure Civilians]

- Walking Inuzuka Dogs: +500 Ryo, +150 Reputation with [Inuzuka Clan], 5% Chance to acquire [Beast Taming] Skill Scroll.

- Babysitting: +300 Ryo, +50 Reputation with [Konohagakure Civilians]

- Weeding a Garden: +300 Ryo, 50% chance to acquire [Horticulture] skill scroll.

- Catch Tora: +700 Ryo, +200 Reputation with [Konohagakure Shinobi Forces], [Konohagakure ANBU] and [Madam Shijimi]. If caught without the entire team being scratched to a bloody mess, a x5 multiplier is applied to the Reputation gained for [Konohagakure Shinobi Forces] and [Konohagakure ANBU].

- Deliver messages to nearby village: +600 Ryo

(Scroll Down For More Choices)

Naruto had been scrolling through the list of D-ranks for what felt like the past ten minutes, trying to find anything that seemed remotely interesting, only to be met with nothing but chores and grunt work. The sheer tedium of it all was already giving him a headache, and he hadn't even started on the actual missions.

Seriously, how lazy were the civilians in this village that they had to pay actual shinobi to paint their fences, mow their grass, and tend their gardens?

At least a few of them offered some halfway-decent rewards, with the best being for the [Walking Inuzuka Dogs] quest. Taming an animal, that certainly sounded like something he could get behind. [Horticulture] sounded kind of meh, especially since he was pretty sure that Ino already had that skill at around Level 30 or something. Still, he wouldn't say no if it was offered.

As long as there wasn't some limit to the number of skills he could acquire, any skill was something worth acquiring in his books.

Taking a moment to pull himself out of his ruminations, Naruto felt his eye twitch again as he took in his situation again. Everything he could see (from the old man, his teammates and sensei, the bits of furniture in the room, even the sky visible from the room's windows) had turned an odd sepia colour, looking as if he was caught standing in some old drawing or picture. Worse, the world and everyone in it seemed to have frozen solid, no one else in the room had so much as twitched since the old man had reached for the pile of mission scrolls on his desk marked with a large D.

Hell, there was a bird outside the window that seemed stuck in mid-air between wingbeats.

While normally this kind of situation would have been far more intriguing, especially with the pranking opportunity it could present later on, but there was one major problem: Naruto couldn't move either! He was literally stuck in the same spot and position as he'd been when time seemingly froze, only able to move his eyes in order to scroll down the Mission Selection screen.

That changed what could have been an interesting and rather useful ability into something far more annoying.

His nose had been itching for the past five minutes and if he couldn't scratch it soon, he was going to lose his fucking mind!

"So I'm guessing the world's going to stay like this until I select our D-ranks for the day?" Naruto grumbled between unmoving teeth. Asuma-sensei was relaxing to one side, while Ino and Sakura were flanking him. "Better get to it then."

Taking another look at the available missions, he quickly noticed that focusing on one brought up more details, including an estimated completion time for each; ranging from only taking a few minutes to several hours. He couldn't see any details on the High D-rank missions, only a message that they required at least 20 regular D-ranks to be completed before they were unlocked. It was also waived if you had at least one full year of experience as a genin or were promoted to Chūnin.

Why someone would still be performing D-ranks when they were a Chūnin was beyond Naruto's comprehension at the moment, but he supposed someone had to take that option, since it was written there in blue and white. He also had to wonder why catching a cat was seen as such a big deal by the village's shinobi force.

Letting out a breath and trying to focus around his itching nose, Naruto gave the list of mission a moment of serious considering. Painting Fences would not only be a quick and easy way to start off with, plus it would give him the chance to test that little trick Iruka had told him about using his new [Suiton: Suigun Suima no Jutsu]. As for the other mission, he decided that walking the Inuzuka Clan's dogs would be good for Sakura-chan's and Ino's physical conditioning if nothing else, plus it would give him a chance at a rare loot drop.

As soon as he made his selections, colour seemed to flood back into the world in an instant and time started to flow again. The sudden shift was actually pretty jarring and more than a bit freaky.

" then, let us see what missions we have for your first set." Jiji seemed to pick up mid-sentence as he picked up one scroll, opened it up and glanced at it. "Ah, Haramura Nodoka-san needs her back garden's fence painted today. Also...Inuzuka Tsume has asked for someone to help her clan walk some of their ninken as well."

The old Kage had to use quite a bit of his years of experience to hide the smirk that wanted to emerge at the sight of the incredulous expressions on Ino and Sakura's faces. The sight of new genin being told to do what he knew very well were chores that civilians couldn't be bothered to do. Oh, there were the occasional requests by those too elderly and infirm to do maintenance that they could no longer handle themselves, but the majority of the low-to-mid D-Ranks barely qualified as handyman jobs.

Naruto was unsurprised, which Sarutobi had expected; his friendship with the adopted daughter of the Higurashi's had guaranteed that she would let him in on the reality of a fresh genin's career. The blond boy subtly caught his eye and used Konoha sign language while his teammates were distracted.

'Bloodline activated. Unusual occurrence. Will report later.'

So the Gamer power had activated in a way Naruto hadn't expected? That would be interesting to hear about later. Subtly nodding, Sarutobi solemnly handed the scrolls to his son before Iruka-kun started the standard 'be on your best behaviour' lecture that all new genin received from their former Chūnin sensei before their first D-Rank.

Traditions were important.

Also their expressions were hilarious, not that he would ever admit it to them.

Haramura Nodoka's Back Garden, Konohagakure no Sato

Their first client, Haramura Nodoka was a lady just entering her twenties who looked like she had to be related to Sakura given her mane of bright pink hair, although both denied any familial relations, especially Sakura, who was throwing envious and jealous looks at the older woman's impressively large bust. The white ankle-length dress didn't hide her figure by any stretch of the imagination.

"I would ordinarily do it myself, but I have to leave Konoha tomorrow to meet my partner in a nearby village." she apologised to the team as she led them to her fence. "That means packing and setting the house to be unoccupied for a while, so I'm afraid I will be busy for most of the day."

"Partner?" Ino asked curiously, her gossiping tendencies coming to the forefront. "A boyfriend?"

"Girlfriend." Nodoka corrected her with a smile. "Miyanaga Saki. She's going to move in with me next month. This meeting we're having is just to discuss various matters that will happen as a result of her leaving her family."

With that, she left them to it, having already bought the paint and brushes. Ino looked stunned.

"Wow...didn't think a civilian would ever admit to being gay." the Yamanaka Heiress said after a moment. "Usually, they're pretty prudish."

"She's actually a retired kunoichi." Asuma corrected her. "She was invalided out of the forces a couple of years ago due to a bad leg injury that the Med-nin couldn't heal. Can't tell because she's good at hiding her limp and she covers up her legs with long skirts and dresses to avoid showing the wound. Shame really, but if memory serves Haramura-san was never that enthusiastic about the shinobi life, she seemed more relieved than anything when she was told that she needed to hang up her hitai-ate."

"You know her sensei?" Sakura asked curiously.

"She's a friend of a friend." stated the jonin absently, placing another cigarette to his lips. "Enough taking, let's get down to business, that fence won't paint itself."

The fence painting was over far sooner than anyone anticipated, thanks to Naruto using the altered version of the [Suigun Suima] to slather the paint on the fence, with Ino and Sakura brushing it out smoothly in his wake. It also got him a reward.

Congratulations! You have successfully altered a jutsu! [Suiton: Suigun Suima no Jutsu] now has the option to be used on all liquids rather than just water if you use the Bird handsign in place of the Boar handsign! You earn 1000 EXP!

As a result of altering a jutsu without it blowing up in your face, you earn the [Jutsu Mechanic] Title! See the Title Page for more details! In addition, the Jutsu Synthesis System is unlocked! See the relevant Page for details!

Oh yes, he was definitely going to take a closer look into both his new Title and System when he got a chance.

Dog walking had been…significantly less easy, at least as far as Sakura and Ino were concerned. While both were fit enough for shinobi life (if barely), the two lacked the raw leg and arm strength to keep the excited ninken (who were noticeably stronger than normal dogs) from running around and dragging them along for the ride. In the end Naruto was forced to form a pair of [Shadow Clones] to help his teammates keep their ninken under control.

That had actually impressed Inuzuka Tsume, who'd slapped him on the back and told him that he should take the mission more often in the future. [Benten's Blessing] had luckily kicked in after that, adding a copy of the [Beast Taming] skill scroll directly to his inventory.

"Stupid mutts…" Sakura muttered belligerently as she massaged her palms, both of which were sporting red imprints from where the leashes had bit into them. "Why couldn't I just use the Karada Kyōka no Jutsu to keep them under control again?"

"Because you're still too green with that technique to exert the kind of control you'd need to keep from accidentally hurting the dogs." Asuma-sensei reminded her, an amused smirk crossing his lips. "Give it a few more weeks of practice and some more chakra control exercises and then you'll be able to use it a lot more freely without risking accidentally breaking something you shouldn't."

Now that the missions were over, the four were headed toward Training Field 10 to start on their individual and team training. After turning the signed and completed mission scrolls in to the Hokage and getting paid, they'd had lunch at Yakiniku Q before heading out for the Training Field at a sedate pace.

"So what's the plan for training today, sensei?" Naruto asked curiously as the approached the field.

"Well, for you Naruto, we're going to focus on refining the ninjutsu you've already learned. You've got a pretty impressive collection already, now we just to need to polish them to perfection." The bearded jonin answered easily, before scratching at his chin thoughtfully. "As for Ino and Sakura, I'm not sure just yet. We're definitely going to be working on improving their physical conditioning, but otherwise I don't have a lot of options right now. I'd like to give Sakura a couple Suiton ninjutsu so she can use the Suijōki Bunshin properly, but I don't know any Suiton techniques myself that'd work for her. Ino also needs to learn more ninjutsu outside her Clan Techniques, but I don't know her elemental affinity, so I can't make any plans on that yet either. I'm working on correcting both these issues, but the red tape to get everything is a pain in the rear."

"What about genjutsu? Sakura's a genjutsu type, and Ino could probably make good use of them as well?" Naruto offered as they entered the field proper.

"I'm not much of a genjutsu type." stated Asuma with a shrug of his shoulders. "Always preferred the direct approach myself. I only know a single one, and it's a High C-rank, something neither of the girls have the reserves for just yet."

"Good thing I've got you covered, Asuma-sensei." the blond boy grinned before taking a pair of scrolls out of his pouch and tossing them to the jonin.

"Huh...Genjutsu: Moyamoya (Illusion Technique: Hazy) and Genjutsu: Kasumi (Illusion Technique: Misty)." he mused as he cracked first one and then the other open enough to read their titles. "A D-Rank and a High-D-borderline-C-Rank one. Perfect. The girls can learn and swap these over. Thanks, Naruto I owe you one for these."

"No problem, it's not like I can use either of them. Stupid chakra control…." Naruto grumbled slightly under his breath, getting a chuckle from his teacher

"So what do they do?" Ino asked curiously, proving she'd been listening in on the two. Sakura also spared the two males a curious glance.

"Moyamoya and Kasumi are both supplementary genjutsu that obscure the target's ability to see, though using different effects." Asuma replied. "Moyamoya blurs the target's surroundings and makes it seems as if they are sinking into quicksand, while Kasumi makes it seem as if the target is surrounded by a bank of mist that only lets them see vague outlines of people. Yūhi Kurenai, a friend of mine and a genjutsu specialist, that actually shares the same name, but it acts as a form of illusionary clone variant instead. Since Kurenai actually created her version herself and the one we've got was created first, it's likely she'll be forced to change its name when she hears about it."

"Neither sounds like something that would fool a ninja sensei, not for long anyway." Sakura pointed out, frowning slightly.

"These are D-rank technique Sakura, they're not really designed to beat other shinobi, at least not anyone who's at least a competent Genin." Asuma agreed. "But if you use it on someone with little to no training, like common bandits and mercs, or even other fresh genin; they'd work fine. Besides, a few seconds of distraction can be the difference between life and death in a fight, anything that breaks a foe's concentration, even if its for just long enough for them to concentrate and break an illusion, can be useful.

"Also, Sakura; you should speak to your father and see if has an E-rank Suiton ninjutsu called Suiton: Kasumi (Water Style: Mist) or the more advanced, D-rank version Suiton: Kirigakure no Jutsu (Water Style: Hidden in the Mist Technique). If you use either of those in combination with the genjutsu version of Kasumi, it'll make a very effective tactic."

"Of course! The target would be confused as to whether they were locked in a genjutsu even after doing a dispel that it would leave them open for an attack!" Sakura realised, the pinkette's mind going through the ramification of the combo. "I'll ask my father about that tonight."

"Good. In the meantime, you get to try the Kasumi, and Ino you can work on the Moyamoya." Asuma directed as he tossed each scroll to its intended recipient. "Naruto, make a Shadow Clone for each of them to practice on. It'll give you the advantage of experiencing both genjutsu without actually experiencing them."

"Because of the memory transfer thing, right." Naruto nodded and made the Clone Handsign. "[Kage Bunshin no Jutsu]!"

In a puff of smoke, a pair of clones popped into existence, identical to the original Naruto in every way.

"OK you two, you're playing target dummy for Sakura-chan and Ino." the blond ordered his copies.

"Aw man..."

"This is gonna suck!"

Ignoring the grumbling of his clones, Naruto headed off to do his own practice, pondering which jutsu to work on first. He decided on the three closest to levelling up first, which meant [Dangan], [Kaiten Shuriken] and [Gansetsukon]. They would benefit the most from it, and he would be lying if he said he wasn't curious to see what would happen when they were all maxed out. He'd only maxed out a single D-Rank jutsu, [Katon: Hotarubi], so he had no idea if the reason he got a Mastery Bonus for doing that was because Fire wasn't one of his elements or because it really wasn't a powerful jutsu in the first place.

Using the [Shadow Clone Jutsu] once again, he created thirty more clones and divided them into groups of ten, each of whom practised a different jutsu, while he settled in to do what clones could not and started grinding his stats, doing push-ups, sit-ups and crunches to pass the time.

"I'm breaking a sweat just watching him..." Sakura mumbled to Ino, who nodded in agreement.

"You'll be doing physical training as well, just so you know." Asuma noted to the pair before making a 'hurry up' motion with his hand to get them to start training.

It was two hours later when Asuma called a halt to training. Sakura and Ino were on the ground, exhausted both physically and mentally and out of chakra. Naruto was only sweating slightly from all of the exercise he'd been doing, which earned him looks of disbelief from his teammates.

"Seriously, what the heck is with you? It literally shouldn't be physically possible that you aren't even phased by two hours of non-stop exercise." Ino said to Naruto once she no longer felt like a used dishcloth.

"Hey, don't ask me! I've always been like this" Naruto shot back, thinking of his obscenely high Stamina stat.

"It's because of his chakra, Ino." Asuma offered. "He's an Uzumaki, which means his chakra is exceptionally dense and powerful. Chakra naturally reinforces the body and helps speed up recuperation and healing, meaning that someone with powerful chakra will normally have above-average stamina as well as long as they put in some elbow grease. That holds true with anyone with active chakra coils, from ninja to samurai; the more chakra you have, the better your natural health will be."

"Huh." Ino and Sakura said in unison.

"I think we made some good progress today." Asuma stated, looking around. "Naruto, have you dismissed your clones yet?"

"All the ones I was using to practice my ninjutsu, but I'm a bit hesitant to dispel the ones that Sakura-chan and Ino were using as guinea pigs." Naruto replied, looking quite pleased with himself. He'd managed to max out [Gansetsukon], and was just half a level away from doing the same for [Kaiten Shuriken] and [Dangan] as well.

"Something tells me that dispelling those two will not be good for my mental health." He finished, hiking a finger over his shoulder to indicate the two clones in question. Both were looking rather pale and they were twitching noticeably.

"Yeah, best to do those two one at a time." agreed the jonin, looking nervously at the twitchy clones. "That kind of repeated genjutsu exposure can have some unpleasant after-effects. Clones should mostly diffuse it, but releasing both at once wouldn't be pleasant. Give yourself a few minutes between each to recover."

"Right." Naruto agreed with a nod before dispelling the clone that Sakura had been practising on. Suddenly he was bombarded with a phantom sensation of unease, images of being surrounded in thick mist with only vague figures and shapes discernable around him. The images stopped a second later, though the sense of unease remained for a few minutes, along with a minor headache.

Then a new set of screens popped up in front of his nose.

As a result of exposure to multiple weak Area of Effect sight-interfering genjutsu in a short period of time, the Skill [Minor Ocular Genjutsu Resistance: Blur] has been created! Due to the number of times you or your Shadow Clone was exposed to it in such a short period of time, the skill starts at Level 2!

[Minor Ocular Genjutsu Resistance: Blur] (Passive) [LV2, 0%]

A vast majority of genjutsu work by primarily targeting a victim's sense of sight and distorting it with various effects. Sometimes, this involves making the target unable to see via blurring their surroundings. This skill improves your ability to resist the effects of such an illusion while under it, but does nothing to prevent you from being influenced by it in the first place.

- Increases chances of seeing through a Blur-type genjutsu by 2%.

"Ow." Naruto droned dully, massaging the bridge of his nose. "Jeez, Sakura-chan, just how many times did you cast that genjutsu on my clone? Its memories are full of nothing but being surrounded by that creepy mist."

"That's what it was there for, Naruto." the pinkette huffed in annoyance.

"Yeah, but you could have given it a break instead of casting the damned jutsu on it as soon as it faded." Naruto rubbed his head, wishing there was a 'headache resistance' skill of some kind.

"Kid's got a fair point Sakura." Asuma agreed. "Remember that your teammate is helping you with this of his own free will, so show him some mercy next time."

"Yes sensei." agreed Sakura, blushing slightly.

On releasing Ino's clone, Naruto was again assaulted with a phantom ill feeling, this time accompanied by flashes of himself sinking into the ground as everything around him started to blur together.

Luckily there was no headache with this one, though he did get another skill alert.

As a result of being subjected to numerous uses of a balance-disturbing genjutsu in a short period of time, the Skill [Imbalance Correction] has been created! Due to the number of times you or your Shadow Clone was exposed to it in such a short period of time, the skill starts at Level 2!

[Imbalance Correction] (Passive) [LV2, 0%]

The balance of a human, in motion or stationary, comes from many factors, including their height relative to sea level, the amount of oxygen available, the footing they possess and other physiological and geographic factors. This skill grants the user the ability to automatically correct for small amounts of imbalance when their sense of balance is negatively affected.

- Grants a 2% correction when the user's balance is negatively affected.

As they departed, Naruto made a quick excuse about having to see Iruka-sensei about something, before heading off on his own and making his way toward the Hokage's tower. As he approached, he was greeted with the sight of Team 7 leaving the tower, all three covered in scratches and looking particularly dishevelled and unamused.

Naruto merely raised a bemused eyebrow, wondering what the heck had caused that.

"Hey, Jiji, what's with Sasuke's lot? They look like they lost a fight with an angry, thorny bush." he called as he sauntered into the office of his surrogate grandfather.

"They were assigned the Tora Retrieval Mission today." Sarutobi replied in amusement. "Tora runs away from her master every other day, making it a regular mission on the Konoha roster. Quite an infamous one as well, as Tora is fast, cunning and fights like a devil rather than get caught. Nowadays, the mission is seen as a bit of a rite of passage or test for young Genin teams."

Naruto sweat-dropped at the sheer desperation implied by the tactics used by the cat. "She must really hate her owner."

"Madam Shijimi is a lovely woman, who unfortunately tends to be a bit…overly affectionate with Tora." the Hokage offered delicately, not wanting to insult an important patron. "Anyway, is this about...?"

The boy nodded, making the Hokage quickly activate the room's security seals before motioning for Naruto to explain.

"Your power stopped time and let you select the missions that you undertook today?" Sarutobi whistled as the young Genin finished recounting the events of this morning. "That seems to be...quite the power you have there. Do you believe it will activate every time that you come here for a mission?"

"I think so." Naruto replied with a shrug. "No way of being certain other than by coming back tomorrow. At least the mission rewards are pretty good; I got a new skill scroll from the dog walking mission; [Beast Taming]."

"Have you looked into it yet?" The Professor asked curiously. Honestly, Naruto's unique ability was an intriguing mystery, and it was one that Hiruzen was honestly enjoying helping the boy piece together.

"Yeah, I gave it a quick look over when we were heading to lunch." Naruto nodded. "It can actually be used one of two ways; I can either learn the [Beast Taming] Skill and then specialize once I reach Level 10 in it, or I can use the scroll on an injured animal, learn the [Beast Taming] Skill then, and specialize from Level 1, which I think is the better way to do it."

"It does sound more efficient." the Hokage agreed. "Think carefully before you use it, Naruto-kun. An animal companion can affect you much like the ninken of the Inuzuka or the Kikaichū of the Aburame do."

"I'll do that, Jiji." Naruto nodded. " aren't mad about me interfering with your selection of missions?"

"You had very little option in the matter but to choose for me, Naruto-kun." Sarutobi reassured the worried boy, waving a hand absently. "I lay no blame on you whatsoever. Promise me that you'll take different missions every day and we'll leave it at that."

"Thanks." the boy said in relief before something occurred to him. "Hey...if the Tora Mission is a High D-Rank, why was Team 7 able to take it? I can't take it until I've gotten twenty ordinary D-Ranks done."

"That is normally the case, but Kakashi was the one to specifically request that particular mission as opposed to the genin." the Hokage explained. "He felt that the challenge of a difficult mission would drive it into the heads of those three that they need to work on teamwork as well as honing their individual skills. As an acting Jonin-sensei, he can override certain requirements on D-Ranks as needed to help ensure the growth and development of his genin, so long as he can get offer a proper explanation and doesn't break any major law."

"Huh..." Naruto blinked. "Cool. Well, I'd better head back so I can deal with any problems at the Amekage Apartments."

"You dealt with the only problem to occur so far very well, so the ANBU tell me." Sarutobi complimented him. "Kiba-kun needed a reminder that rank in the Shinobi Forces isn't the only reason for him to bow to those outside the Inuzuka Clan, something which you provided rather nicely."

"Hehehehe..." Naruto rubbed the back of his head bashfully. "Oh, that reminds me Jiji...what can you tell me about the Kemono Clan?"

Not blinking at the sudden topic change in subject, since even before his new ability appeared Naruto was prone to jumping between subjects at the drop of a hat, the Sandaime organized his thoughts for a moment before answering. "The Kemono Clan joined Konoha about ten years or so after Uchiha Madara was slain by the Shodaime Hokage at the Valley of the End. They were an unusual Clan in that, while the Clan itself was made up of several interlinked families, the families themselves were not actually blood-related. They were nin-taijutsu specialists, utilizing ninjutsu similar to the Inuzuka Clan's Gijū Ninpō (Beast Imitation Ninja Art) and Jūjin Taijutsu (Beast Human Taijutsu), but developed a variety of techniques based on many different creatures, with a primary focus on mammals. They were never one of the larger clans in the villages, at its strongest there was only around a hundred members in total, and they simply vanished from Konoha in the year following the end of the Second Great Ninja War, leaving no trace of their destination or reason for leaving Konoha. Why the sudden interest in obscure Clan history, Naruto-kun?"

"I've gotten my hands on three Kemono Clan jutsu thanks to my [Gamer] powers, Jiji; I can't learn one of them because I need to level one specific jutsu, the [Kitsunerisu no Binshō], and at least one other Kemono Clan jutsu to level twenty before I can unlock it." Naruto explained. "The [Kitsunerisu no Binshō] is kinda like the Inuzuka's Shikyaku no Jutsu, except it focusses on improving my agility and dexterity rather than my physical power. The only other jutsu of the Kemono Clan I've learned is the [Sai no Kawa], which lowers dexterity in favour of making my skin as tough as a rhino's hide, which makes it kinda awkward when I try to use them together in combat."

"Hmm, yes...if I remember correctly the Kitsunerisu was a low-Chūnin jutsu while the Sai no Kawa was a genin." Sarutobi mused thoughtfully. "You learned them out of order, and I can see where that would cause some issues in mastering using them in concert. Normally one would learn the Sai no Kawa while still in the Academy and practice it until they were as familiar with it as a normal shinobi is with the Academy Three or Travelling Ten. Then once, after graduating they would learn the Kitsunerisu no Binshō to combine the enhanced speed and agility with the enhanced defence of the Sai no Kawa to create a dangerous combination. I'd recommend focusing on training the Sai no Kawa first before trying to combine the two, once you have a decent level of control over it, combining the two should be far easier."

The old Kage paused for a moment. "You know, I recall that the entire Clan Compound of the Kemono Clan was left untouched after they left. I locked it up and activated the boundary seals to prevent any jutsu theft until I clarified their status."

"Eh...wasn't the end of the Second War over thirty years ago by now?" Naruto asked with a sweatdrop.

"Yes, but we still have found no evidence surrounding the Kemono's mysterious disappearance, so their status is still listed as missing (unknown cause) in the records." the Hokage said with a crafty smirk. "I think I can give you the key to the seals so you can explore the compound...once you've managed to learn all three of the Kemono techniques you've acquired and your team has completed two High D-Ranks."

Naruto blinked as a window popped up.

[Quest Alert!]

D-Rank Drudgery...with a Purpose!: The Sandaime Hokage has promised to give you the seal-key to the former Kemono Clan compound upon your team's completion of two High D-Ranks. This also means slogging through forty regular D-Ranks, twenty per High Ranked mission, in order to be allowed to take those two higher-ranked missions, but hang in there!

Quest Objective 1: Complete (2) High D-Rank Missions (0/2 Completed).

Quest Objective 2: Complete (40) D-Rank Missions (02/40 Completed).

Quest Objective 3: Learn the [Rōgaken] Jutsu.

Quest Reward 1: +3000 Ryo, Random Kemono Clan Jutsu Scroll.

Quest Reward 2: +500 Relationship with [Konohagakure Shinobi Forces], Random Rare Elemental Jutsu Scroll, Random Rare Equipment.

Quest Reward 3: +3000 Ryo, Random Rare Non-Elemental Jutsu Scroll, +3000 EXP, [Kemono Clan Compound Key], permission to enter Kemono Clan Compound.

Do you choose to accept this Quest?


"Wonder why there's no Failure consequences in that one?" the boy mused as he tapped the 'Y' button and accepting the quest.

"Likely because there is little to no chance of you actually failing it." Sarutobi remarked. "D-Ranks are a matter of daily fact for a genin, and even some Chūnin, so unless you die or become a Nuke-nin, you it will be nearly impossible for you to not complete this quest."

"Huh...point taken." Naruto nodded. "Welp, I'd better be going. Later, Jiji."

Smiling, Sarutobi deactivated the security measures on his office as he waved goodbye to his surrogate grandson for the day. He wondered idly how long it would take Naruto to get restless at the relatively low amount of 'experience points' that D-Ranks apparently gave him compared to his usual sojourns into Training Ground Thirteen. The old Kage gave it three more days at most before Naruto got impatient and went to his old stomping grounds to get stronger.

Not that the idea lacked merit by any means; Naruto was practically an expert at clearing through the chakra mutations already and he had already completely purified the first two sub-areas of the excessive chakra for the moment.

Still, he was in a team now, so he should learn to work together with his teammates in a combat situation, so that should be something of a focus for him. Sarutobi made a mental note to suggest to Asuma that one of his training sessions should be blooding Ino and Sakura on Chakra Mutations.

'If his [Gamer] power works like I think it does, it may also reveal a clue as to what happened to the Kemono Clan all those years ago.' the old Hokage mused as he returned to his paperwork. That mystery still bothered the old Kage, and giving Naruto access to the Clan Compound was a small price to it.

Besides, if Naruto did manage to learn all three of the techniques he'd acquired, then he'd be automatically accepted as an honorary member of the clan per Kemono Clan law. With the clan only loosely linked by blood ties, they had developed that law to help bring in new blood and tie their clan together through more legal means. Normally this was done through an adoption process, with the adoptee being taught the Kemono techniques by a senior member while being inducted into the clan, but Naruto's circumstances were rather unique.

'I do hope that Naruto-kun tells me what he finds when it does happen.' Sarutobi thought tiredly as he went back to his paperwork.

Three Days Later

Sarutobi truly understood how his surrogate grandson's mind worked; his predications regarding the young jinchūriki's patience (or lack thereof) proving correct down to a T.

Naruto had gotten sick of watching his EXP gauge tick up one percent at a time with those dinky D-Ranks. True, he was making some headway with his jutsu, having maxed out not only [Gansetsukon], but [Kaiten Shuriken] and [Dangan] as well, as well as gaining several levels on the [Sai no Kawa] technique.

[Doton: Gansetsukon no Jutsu] (Active) [LVMAX]

The Earth Style: Rock Section Cane Jutsu is a fairly simple technique. After making the correct handsigns, the user should pick up a stone or rock, which transforms into a metre and a half long staff, which can be used in close combat or thrown at the enemy. At high levels, the user can create multiple staves simultaneously and assail their enemies with them.

Handsigns: Monkey-Rat-Snake

Number of Staves created per use: 1-50

Durability of each Stave: 100

Mastery Bonus: 50% chance per use of doubling number of staves created when creating more than one stave.

[Fūton: Kaiten Shuriken no Jutsu] (Active) [LVMAX]

The Wind Style: Rotating Shuriken Jutsu is a useful jutsu for increasing the effectiveness of your Shurikenjutsu. By infusing a shuriken with Wind-Natured Chakra, you increase its cutting power. Once a shuriken has been infused, you can manipulate the shuriken to attack your enemies remotely. Requires shuriken to use.

- Actively increases the Damage of any infused bladed weapon by 50 +5%.

- Actively allows you to control the infused weapon up to 60 meters away.

- Added Effect: Blades of Lesser Wind: Once a shuriken strikes its target, they will unleash 2-3 blades of wind into the target causing 20 to 25 +5% per blade, and each has a high chance for a critical hit.

Handsigns: None.

Number of weapons that can be infused and manipulated: fifteen.

Costs 10 CP per weapon, 2 CP per minute to maintain. (Fūton Affinity and Chakra Control cost reductions taken into account.)

Mastery Bonus: Chakra cost is reduced to the above seen values.

[Doton: Dangan no Jutsu] (Active) [LVMAX]

By slamming their hand or foot on the ground after completing the handsigns, the user can send a large boulder or menhir at the opponent. As this jutsu only requires two handsigns, it can be performed quickly. The drawback of this jutsu is that it is relatively short ranged and lacks speed when moving through the air, although this is improved at higher levels.

- Launches a boulder or a menhir at your opponent up to ten meters away, causing 150 points of damage, plus an additional 20 points per every level of [Secondary Doton Affinity] that you possess (MAX 10 levels).

- The difference between a boulder and a menhir is purely cosmetic and entirely up to the user's preferences.

Handsigns: Horse-Monkey

Costs 60 CP per use.

Mastery Bonus: Enemies targeted by this jutsu will be inflicted with two seconds of [Paralysis] while it is in flight.

The Mastery Bonuses were all over the place, but that just made it interesting. They were just High D-rank/Low C-Rank jutsu, so they weren't all that powerful compared to some jutsu, the Mastery Bonuses simply made them a bit more effective or easier to use. Still, it made his arsenal that much stronger.

He'd changed into a fresh set of his light combat clothes after getting back to his apartment post-team training and he was about halfway to TG13 when Asuma-sensei appeared next to him in a burst of smoke.

"Doing some self-training?" the jonin asked casually as he fell into step beside his student.

"Considering the EXP from the D-Ranks is barely a drop of broth in the ramen bowl, I kinda need to if I'm gonna level up." Naruto replied evenly. "It isn't as if I haven't been doing this for a year or anything."

'He's expecting me to try and convince him to stop.' Asuma easily deduced.

"I have no issues with you going to TG13." Asuma responded with a grin, causing his headstrong genin to relax slightly before he continued, "But you are part of a team now kid; you need to learn how to fight alongside each other. So I'd like you to at least invite your teammates along on your little hunting trips in future."

"Would Sakura-chan and Ino even want to learn how to fight these things?" the blond boy responded dubiously.

"Back when I was an Academy Student, it was a requirement that you had to fight and kill at least one Chakra Mutation during your final year at the Academy." Asuma informed him simply. "You either proved you had the stones for it or you automatically failed the graduation exam. Pops was not happy when he heard that idiot had it removed from the curriculum for being 'too harsh.'"

"I'll bet." Naruto snorted. "Ten-chan said she hadn't done that either; she killed her first mutation in there with me."

"Higurashi Tenten, right?" Asuma questioned, snorting when the teen nodded. "Of course, she's one of Gai's students, and that man would never condone harming 'innocent' creatures as part of a training exercise." When he noticed Naruto's curious look, he elaborated. "Maito Gai is one of Konoha's elite jonin and acknowledged as one of, if not the best, Taijutsu Master in Konoha. He's also a bit of animal lover, he hated the idea of having to kill a 'harmless' creature as part of a graduation requirement even back when we were in the Academy."

Of course, he never hesitated to kill one if it went on a rampage or had killed/injured someone, but he never went out of his way to kill one that was just minding its own business unless it was a mission. Never mind that most Chakra Mutations attacked any human with active chakra coils as soon as the beasts sensed them.

"He considers flesh-eating squirrels and boulder-sized moles harmless?" Naruto responded incredulously.

"Depends on your definition of harmless." Asuma replied with a smirk. "Even back then, Gai was a physical monster, the kind of guy who could lift and juggle boulders as part of his daily exercise routine. Compared to someone like that, most normal mutations would look pretty harmless."

Naruto could only sweatdrop at that. Yeah, compared to a monster that, even the boss monsters he'd encountered sounded fairly harmless.

"Anyway, all I ask is that you at least give them the option." the jonin said calmly. "Besides, its always a good idea to have backup, especially since I can't risk going in there except for a brief period thanks to that gang of idiots you dealt with."

"Stupid Spandex Brigade." Naruto grumbled. "Alright, I agree sensei, but only after they learn at least a couple offensive ninjutsu. The training grounds are not easy, even the ones I've already cleared have issues. Remnants of chakra from deeper in the Training Grounds leak in and possess the trees, turning them into Possessed Mokujin. Normal kunai and shuriken are pretty much useless against those things."

"Heh, alright kid." Asuma nodded. Naruto made a fair point about the dangers the girls would face in the Training Grounds, so he supposed they could wait a bit. "Sakura's already making good progress with Genjutsu: Moyamoya, and the Suiton: Kasumi scroll she got from her father. Ino's also making good progress with Genjutsu: Kasumi. Once they've gotten both genjutsu mastered to an acceptable level, I should have gotten my hands on a some entry-level ninjutsu scrolls suitable for them both. Should have them both combat-ready in a month or so."

"Sakura-chan said that her dad was gonna give her a genjutsu to work on as well. Dunno what it's called though." the boy mentioned as the fence of Training Ground 13 came into sight.

"Haruno Kizashi was well known for his prowess with one genjutsu in particular, even though he never got above genin rank during his career." Asuma said thoughtfully. "Suiton Genjutsu: Suigetsu Shinkirō (Water Style Genjutsu: Water Moon Mirage). Rather than using chakra to infiltrate the senses of an opponent, it manipulates the water particles in the air to refract light and create illusions to deceive and trick the enemy. If he teaches her that...well, she's going to be scary for other ninja to face."

"Brr...a genjutsu that can't be dispelled through a release or by inflicting pain on yourself...why did Sakura-chan's dad never get promoted again?" Naruto shivered at the thought of being on the receiving end of that jutsu.

"Honestly, sheer bad luck. Before he retired, he was as good as any Chūnin, but he always had issues when it came to the exams. He was injured right before a couple of exams and was unable to enter. Then, when he actually got a chance to enter, he failed because of an accident in the second round injuring one of his teammates, and he was forced to withdraw before the third round after being poisoned during another." Asuma answered. "He retired soon after when he married Mebuki and had Sakura-chan, but most of his old comrades still remember him with respect for his years of service."

"Huh, some people just don't have any luck." the boy muttered before shaking his head. "Well, I'm heading in sensei."

"Take care, Naruto." Asuma nodded, chuckling as the boy trotted off to enter the training field. "He's gonna be an interesting one to train. Now then, I guess I'd better go and wade through more red tape to get those affinity testing papers and basic jutsu scrolls. Knew I shouldn't have brushed Oyaji off when he offered to streamline things for me. Stupid pride..."

Sighing, the bearded jonin headed off, leaving his student to once more hunt down possessed blocks of wood.


Next Chapter: Shh, We're Hunting Wabbits!