Chapter 24

"Has she recovered?"

"Have you considered that, perhaps, the human lying on the floor who isn't even conscious isn't on her best moments, Great Sage?" Kurodoku hissed around the human, the green glow of the iryojutsu was the only source of illumination in the cave. By the time he completed the reverse summoning, she had already been out of it. He had had experience dealing with hurt humans, after all he had been the main healer of Orochimaru's little army of snakes, he had treated Shinobi who fainted from exhaustion, pain, sleep deprivation, chakra exhaustion, poison and many more, but never one who didn't have any kind of deficit. She, in medical terms, was completely fine. But she wasn't, the proof was that she hadn't even regained consciousness.

He didn't even know if the iryojutsu was helping or not, she didn't show any changes on respiration nor pulse, her organs were functioning with normality but her chakra was nearly inactive, and what did it indicate? Coma.

The coma had been either caused by a flawed reversed jutsu or some kind of poison or attack from a pursuer. He couldn't really ask the victim so he ran a quick Diagnose Jutsu and found that not only her chakra was inactive but he coils were working abnormally, the way a newborn's one would react to the world or when someone's coils are awakened.

She was… adapting to the cave?

The White Snake hissed softly to draw his attention, "I understand that this isn't the best moment for you but I am still curious as of why you've brought this woman here when you never considered leading your first summoner here. I believe you said he needs to find the cave on his own to be worthy, why doesn't this apply to her?" The Great Sage moved to the side, to avoid pressuring or intimidating the other snake. While he was a hermit he hadn't forgotten manners, and he wouldn't pick a fight with a stressed snake in such space, he valued his life. "I know she is hurt but why would you bring her here when the capital is much closer?"

"I have been exiled by my father. Everyone has orders to kill me on the spot if I am found on the capital. She was hurt and it was an emergency, this is the only place I could think of." Kurodoku admitted. He tried to calm himself, or just sound like it. The Great Sage's sympathy wouldn't pertain if he kept insulting his presence if his own home. And, after all, he had another favor to ask: "Could you examine her too?"

Kurodoku, slowly and painfully disentangled himself from the fragile form of what had been his summoner and let the Great Sage take his position.

"Now this is interesting; I know her kind" The White Snake exclaimed. Kurodoku wasn't nearly as interested on how they became acquaintances as what was happening to her.

"Yes, she is human-"

"That's not what I mean." The Great Sage interjected, "Her kind cohabited this cave with snakes before I was even born. I knew many of her bloodline, sadly, the remaining one left with Orochimaru, she might be the last one of her kind." The Great Sage fell silent for a second. "What a shame, they were interesting humans."

"Great Sage, do you know of her illness?" Kurodoku borderline begged, he'll be happy to listen later, now, he needed an answer.

"I believe she is reacting to the natural energy of this cave, perhaps that broken seal had something to do with it."

"The seal broke?" It made sense, if the seal that had been filtering her chakra had failed to function, it might overloaded and broke. He didn't know for how long she had had it but the theory in which her coils had been 'truly awakened' just as the seal dissipated was the most plausible one. "Is she safe?"

"She'll be fine." The White Snake comforted him "Her body is absorbing the natural energy it was denied for years, that's why it's slightly unstable, as you can tell from the horns on her head." The White Snake grabbed a horn delicately with the end of his tail before broking it in half with a loud crack. "Don't worry; it doesn't hurt her. It's made from a suppuration expulsed from her pores that solidifies when it gets in contact with natural chakra forming an exoskeleton sturdier than bones…If practiced." The white Sage explained. "I might want a word with her after she awakes, if you don't mind."

"Of course" He conceded.

When she woke up, her mind was a mess and her body burned from inside. Well, she's had worse hangovers.

Her muscles itched to the movement and her back screamed in pain, she had been lying in a terrible position for her spine. If she ever wondered if her organs could feel numb the answer was yes.

On the dim light of the morning she could distinguish that she was in some kind of cave or rocky surface, and by her sense of touch she could feel scales. Scales?The fuck?

"Kurodoku?" She asked to the emptiness, and the emptiness answered back by shaking. "What the fuck, Kurodoku." She was already confused and slightly disoriented, she didn't need a mini-earthquake.

"Are you awake?"

"I am, but you are not. Wake up, the world needs you."

"I can't believe I saved you, ugh." Kurodoku lamented. "How are you feeling?"

"Terrible. What happened? I can't remember half of it." She grabbed her head, she was getting the vague feeling her head would start to pound in a minute.

"Doesn't surprise me, you were completely out of it." He moved slowly to the exterior of the cave, the human needed fresh air. "You should touch you head."

She did, "Horns? I had an outburst?" She wondered if she had done something stupid as she grabbed the horn on her forehead and yanked, "Ouch-fuck." She hissed in continuation to the strings of swearwords.

"I thought it didn't hurt?"

"It doesn't hurt, but it stings like a motherfucker." She's practically ripping a thin part of her skin along with the brown-ish structures. She tried to put into words the sensation of cutting a fingernail too much or biting your own tongue while eating, but she couldn't phrase it so that a snake would fully comprehend, instead what she came up with was: "It sucks."

She half absently listened to Kurodoku as she clumsily left her scaly bed and walked slowly closer to the light. On the border of the cave she stretched her muscles slowly. "I remember giving a piece of cloth to a bird, I remember crossing a river and making a clone to make false traces." She informed the snake, "I think I fainted at some point." Her stomach chose to growl then "I'm hungry."

She grabbed a nearby stone and inspected the trees for a victim. As soon as she found the bird, it fell from the tree, the stone having disappeared before she even registered it. At least her body was feeling a lot better than her mind.

She walked slowly but steady into the woods under the careful look of her snake, just enough to pick up the bird, and walked slowly back to Kurodoku. She began picking out the feathers to only leave the meat on her breakfast, it was boring and slightly confusing to her already strained mind. "Let's stay out of the cave for a little, fresh air helps to clear my head."

She didn't hear him move but his scales scraped against the back of her legs. No wonder snakes were masters of stealth, well, so far she's been able to sense them when they're relatively close, but now her sensing was pretty off, like, absolutely wrong, as in going off to the point of overwhelming her in that cave. And there wasn't anything in that place. "When you are feeling better, there's someone I want you to meet. We're staying at his place so be polite" Kurodoku told her, "If you are capable of it. Maybe you'll behave better now that you're weak."

"I'm not weak, just a little disoriented, numb and maybe a little defenseless. Maybe you're right." She commented distractedly, it was hard enough to make the dead bird featherless in her state, keeping a conversation wasn't great for her focus. At least the air was great, her head felt already a little better.

Crack, the head of the bird came off along with its legs.

She took a bite right after. Raw meat had never tasted better. "I had always thought humans cooked their meat."

"We do. I am an exception, I gave it up after spending some time in the woods, but I can't deny cooked tastes better" Kurodoku didn't looked on edge so she assumed he was the person, or snake, he wanted her to meet. She turned to the voice and tried not to look too thrown off by the Albino snake she saw which really threw her off. She had never considered the possibility of something like that in summon animals, of course albino and many other anomalies that affect coloring happened in nature too, but you don't have to be very clever to know what happens to an animal that stands out. A white snake in a forest rarely, scratch that, never survives. It's just not adapted to survive in that environment. However, she was talking about summon animals, even if somewhat unique, those things were always wild as fuck, she never knew how things really worked. Kurodoku talked about Body Alteration Fuuinjutsu, maybe it was just an esthetic choice.

She tried to analyze the white fucking snake that gave out a weird threaten-y vibe. Kurodoku said it's ok, but just in case. He looked like a constrictor rather than a venomous snake, he was a lot thicker than Kurodoku, but she knew black bamba's tended to be large and thin. His scales were also bigger and, she guessed, tougher, so yeah, constrictor. "Interesting. I also found that some humans have a hard time eating animals, they blamed empathy."

"I was hungry." She explained with a shrug. Like most things lately, this conversation felt like a test, and she might not be on the best conditions to pass it. For some reason she felt like the punishment for failing would be being eaten alive. Huh, classic snake thingy. "I also love meat, I just try not to eat the ones I know. My morals are a little twisty if you think about it, I try not to."

"Interesting, and also amusing. Most humans who understood animals avoided everything of animal origin." She guessed Kurodoku had told him about her bloodline. Cool, cool. Cool. Not like her family had died to protect their secrets and she would have too, had she took more time to pound the alarm and run.

"Never been much of a vegan." She said, merely because it looked like it was her turn to speak. She didn't like where this conversation was going. She should twist it around, "My name is Arabella nice to meet you…"

The snake smirked (she was getting better on snake expressions) and introduced himself, "I am mostly known as the Great Sage of the Snakes or the White Snake, but my name is Hakuja. Forgive my intrusiveness but I am truly curious about your nature. How do you control yourself?"

"Excuse me?"

"Hakuja-sama has studied an especial type of human during four generations" Kurodoku chimed in, "Apparently, they were settled in this very cave until they died." Sure, Kurodoku, but why should I care.

"In fact, they had your very same bloodline."

So…he wanted to study her? She didn't have a connection to the people who lived in this cave, maybe they had the same genes, but her family was the one who took her in, fed her and raised her as their own. Still, she couldn't help but feel a little bit bad, kind of sad, she had been the adopted kid in her family. This time, her blood relatives are already dead and she had nothing to do about it, but she felt guilty, like she had come too late.

"I understand your situation better than anyone, which brings me back to my question, now that you don't have a filtering seal, how will you control your murdering instincts?"

Well, to be honest she hadn't had time to think about it, even if her head felt better. She had known that the chronic mood swings were caused by the repression of the murdering instincts she had, now she had no security blanket, when they hi, they hit. Of course that made priority number 1 getting another seal on, and with Kurodoku by her side she'd be able to get it before an episode.

"Come with me inside the cave, I imagine your coils are still adapting, this is the perfect moment. You see, your kind and I became close as inhabitants of the cave and so I studied them. Finally, I reached the conclusion that there is a way to control and, eventually, eliminate episodes. However those without the physical and mental strength necessary didn't survive, I believe that you haven't reached enough power to survive but while your coils are in process of readapting, you'll be able to survive but you might not be able to activate the powers it brings. Would you be willing to proceed?"

She took a second to think, "Sure."

She had nowhere to go, she had connected with Kurodoku, but he wouldn't be too affected if she died, he'd be free again. And she'd never been one to fear death.

"The bite will concede you immense powers, but you won't be able to use without consuming your body and mind. They will, however reduce your episodes to none, unless your mind destabilizes. I'd recommend you to close your eyes" She did. She felt pain across her abdomen and she fainted again. That happened a lot lately.

When she woke up she was in a scaly surface, she realized that, again, Kurodoku was nursing her. At least she was alive. "Mornin' Kuro, what's up?"

"Ah, congratulations, you are the first human to ever wake up. Now you are a Sage and so you'll have certain responsibilities within-"

"Wait, so everyone else died?" She asked. The snake just hissed and she took it as a silent yess, "You should have told me about it."

"I didn't want to jinx it." The White Snake commented casually, "Is that how it's said? Jinx it?"

She didn't bother to answer him. "What responsibilities were you talking about?"

The Great Sage smirked creepily, "You are the only human Sage of the Snakes, as such you'll have an exalted position in snake society. Also, as a descendant of those humans you can stay here as long as you want. Your main responsibilities would be to train in Snake and Sage Arts and, perhaps, to stay alive." The White Snake slithered to her and offered his body as transport. She climbed obediently and signed Kurodoku to follow. She wasn't in this mess alone, this was also his fault. She did like the 'exalted position' thing, maybe she'll become royalty in Snake society, Manda sounded like a Military General at least, there was always the option that all snakes are this gigantic, she just hoped they weren't. "The cave itself is the best place to train, the walls redirect the natural chakra back to the center of the cave. The chakra cannot leave, but it can enter. Therefore it has to be periodically absorbed. This chore was once made by your kind, now, it's just me, through Sage Mode."

The snake stopped and she slid off. They were at the center of the cave, and she kew he was right, even with her readapting Chakra coils, the sheer pressure of the chakra in the cave was giving her a headache. "Can you show me how to absorb it?"

"You are already absorbing it, your bloodline takes natural chakra and reintegrates it into your system. I can feel that you have below average Chakra Capacity, but if your coils adapt to this cave, you'll have no problem to do chakra extensive jutsu. If you also master Sage Mode you'll be able to achieve a level of near infinite chakra. Sound good, huh?"

"It does, what's the catch? What do I have to give up to get that."

"Truly? Nothing. If you had unlocked Sage Mode on your own, with your own strength, but you are not capacitated to use it yet. It would demolish you from the inside. You are ought to train it, as if we were talking about stamina."

"I am assuming you'd teach me."The snake affirmed it with a hiss, "And what will you get from me?"

"You are full of distrust" The White Snake began to encircle her but Kurodoku hammered with his tail on the ground of the cave causing a loud bang and a hole on the ground. The White Snake stopped and retreated back to his place with a smirk. Apparently, when snakes wanted to be intimidating they keep eye contact as they move around you. Wow, so scary, (it was, you just got used to it after a few times.) "It is understandable, after all. Neither humans nor Snakes are known to be altruistic. But this is different, I am merely working in my interest. Since you know Kurodoku you must know what Orochimaru does to his summons. You see, most of my children are working with him. I suspect that he had either experimented with them in order to obtain Sage Mode or manipulated them into becoming cannon folder." His words seemed genuine but she looked at Kurodoku for confirmation, he had said that snakes had a reputation of being perfect liars. "That's why I want to teach you Sage Mode and to control your bloodline, two things he has always wanted to antagonize him. And if you live long enough I want you to kill him. I have bowed subordination to him and Snakes cannot break a promise."

"So you do want something out of it."

"You could say so, yes."

"It's fine by me, if I can, I'll kill him. It's a promise."

"Wise words, an ambiguous promise."

And then she started training.

A/N Hey guys, sorry for taking so long to upload but I've been kind of busy this weeks. I am starting college tomorrow and still have a couple things to do so next chapter might take a couple weeks too.

Btw, I'd like to explain that getting Sage Mode is a HUGE deal. It messes up a bit the power scale, in this chapter is not only known that Kurodoku is loyal to her but that she'll get inmense powers from the white snake and a bit of foreshadowing. Of course, it will be justified in some chapters. Still, her main weapon is Kurodoku because, even if she has control the Sage Arts, she doesn't have enough prowess to use it properly. She still needs to train it, but this 'level up' has reasons that will be shown in the next arc.