A/N :Hey guys I'm back! Sorry for the delay, but my laptop was giving a lot of trouble as of late and it held up the release of the chapter.
I would like to thank everyone for their support, reviews, story and author alerts. The response to my story was surprising. Once again thanks to you all.
Now for a little house keeping, some of the reviewers had some interesting questions as it pertains to the story.
To Tombs Holland: The pairing of Naruto and Hinata would be a key part of Naruto's struggle with the concept of not being guided by lust or love. It creates a tension between his heart and the way of the warrior which basically preaches non-attachment. This would be one of the more difficult teachings for Naruto to come to terms with. As the story progresses, the details of their relationship would be flesh out in more detail. So to answer your question, yes I do have a plan for Naruto and Hinata
To Gravity The Wizard: Yes, Naruto's decision not to become a shinobi will affect many things in the story. In particular, the political ramifications will be heavy since the loyalty of the samurai goes first and foremost to the Daimyo. However Naruto's status as a Jinchuriki makes the situation a bit complicated. As you read on you will see how things work out.
Before we begin, I want you guys to know that my beta has been really busy of late so I had to do without her services. I strive to make as little errors as possible and spell check doesn't get every error. So I am asking you all to please bear with any grammatical or spelling errors that you encounter. It is difficult to edit your own work and usually you miss quite a lot stuff that someone else wouldn't.
Anyone willing to offer their beta services can PM me I won't mind having at least one more beta for the story.
Without further ado, Chapter two (no pun intended)
A man is born gentle and weak.
At his death he is hard and stiff.
Green plants are tender and filled with sap.
At their death they are withered and dry.
Therefore the stiff and unbending is the disciple of death.
The gentle and yielding is the disciple of life.
- Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching (76, trans. Gia-Fu Feng)
The Forest of Death and Life
Later that evening Naruto was sitting calmly in front of Sensei….
"You have done well and I see that you are beginning to take some of the words to heart. Your road will be a long and difficult one. As a student of war and thus you will have to face many trials, but each will make you better as you go along. These precepts cannot be learnt, only lived. I have simply given you an explanation of the precepts, and each will manifest itself in one way or another during the course of your life. You need to be alert to when these moments arise. Do not rush and do not force the timing of the lessons."
"Hai Old man" was the boy's respectful reply.
"Now I am going to teach you the principles of Go Rin No Sho or the book of five disciplines and I will also be teaching you Nitojutsu based on the Ni Ten Ichi Ryu style of Kenjutsu."
"Go Rin No Sho is a collection of five principles written by my master and father on the ways of war, tactics and life. It consists of five principles that correspond to the elements of nature: wind, water, earth, fire and void."
"Listen well: In the way of the shinobi the five basic elements are: wind, water, earth, fire, and lightning. However, the element lightning is actually a sub element in the true elemental wheel. These elements can be used as parallels of human nature: some people are free spirited just like the wind and they cannot be contained or controlled only guided. Others are tranquil and calm just like water; they are gentle and provide no obstruction to the things that happen around them. Others yet, are stubborn and unmoving as the earth and they are not easily swayed and are very head strong and resistant to change. While some people are volatile and passionate as fire, there desires are great and it burns within them. A precious few people are as empty as Void. They are still and empty, yet they exude a fullness of life that is hard to explain. I have been fortunate in my long life to have met such a man. In his presence, my life became insignificant."
Naruto was completely engrossed by the Old man's words. He was full of knowledge and wisdom.
'He and Jiji would make great friends.' the boy thought
"However, life is a circle and thus the wind calms down, the water is muddied, the earth crumbles, the fire is quelled, but void remains the same. The same can be said for war and life. Nations rise, nations fall; the weak become strong and the strong become weak. In order to truly understand; to truly master the way of war you must understand the elements of life and how to wield their principles in battle. You have to know when to be unpredictable as the wind; fluid as water; stubborn as the earth; passionate as fire and as empty as void. But know that these states will fade for nothing lasts forever in war and in life."
Naruto listened intently as his master spoke.
"The first discipline is the discipline of Earth and we shall be studying this discipline until you have understood the concepts fully. The Earth is unmoving and strong; bury these teachings in every cell of your body make these teachings within you as unmoving as the earth listen well young one:
"Know the smallest things and the biggest things, the shallowest things and the deepest things. As if it were a straight road mapped out on the ground. These things cannot be explained in detail. From one thing, know ten thousand things. When you attain the Way of strategy there will not be one thing you cannot see. You must study hard."
"Why not just learn the important things Old man, the smallest things are useless. All that matters is the end result, the small stuff doesn't count in the long run."
"Oh yes young one, the smallest things do count and are often more than the end result. The oak is the mightiest of trees but it grows from the smallest of seeds. Does it not?"
"Yes, but what does that have to do with knowledge and strategy?"
"Oftentimes, the smallest details separate the victor and the dead in battle. The mighty oak would not be what it is without the tiny seed.
"The same can be said of battle. The loser probably did not take into consideration the location of the battle and weather. They may have overestimated themselves or underestimated their enemies and paid the price in defeat. Always remember that the greatest complexity at its root is utterly simple."
"Ok Old-man" the boy said not entirely convinced by the man's words.
"Now follow me," the old man stood up grabbed his cane and began walking out of the store and Naruto silently followed. As the two made their way through the sparsely populated streets the people couldn't help but be awed by the young boy following silently behind the old man with his cane. Some sneered and made rude comments. One villager made a particularly rude comment which elicited an angry response from the boy, which resulted in him getting whacked on his head by the old man.
"Aww! What was that for Old man?" His ire rose even further as some the villagers started to laugh at him.
"You became distracted by your anger and your thoughts, keep focused. Those who are easily angered are often the easiest to control and the first do die. Don't become a slave to your anger young one; control yourself. That man is just a reflection of your own anger."
"I didn't do anything, he started it." The boy shouted
"No he didn't, you did."
"This is stupid Old-man, he called me a stupid brat didn't you hear!" The boy's anger was beginning to roll out in waves. "I am always being blamed for everything, even the things I did not do; I was just walking by and he called me a stupid brat for no reason."
"Calm down young one."
"No I am not calming down, I am sick and tired of being blamed for everything" by this time the boy was beginning to hyperventilated and the old man could sense minute amounts of the Kyuubi's chakra slowly coming to the surface.
The on looking villagers were surprised at the boy's outburst since it was the first time they had seen him in such a state. The boy always held a happy go lucky attitude and always had a smile on his face. The first time they saw the boy's mask drop and they were shocked. There were similar reactions to the on looking shinobi as well.
The old man placed his hand gently on the boy's head. "He is not your enemy. Before we began our little walk, where was the man? Who was he? Hmm!"
"I…I don't know" the boy stammered calming down visibly
"Exactly, by reacting they way you did you fueled the fire of hatred and made a man you don't even know into an enemy. You anger would have then turned to rage, and at that point violence is just around the corner. Do you see now? He is just a mirror reflecting your own anger at you."
"But I didn't do anything Old man, how did I make that man react the way he did?" His uncontrolled anger was now replaced by deep curiosity.
The pair resumed their journey out of the curious crowd.
"Above all else, man is a part on Nature despite how far away we are moving away from her. All creatures in Nature have an innate ability to sense danger, malicious intent similar emotions. These are all subtle vibrations or energies that only the most sensitive are consciously aware of. However, the presence of these energies are unconsciously felt and acted upon."
"Make no mistake young one on the deepest level, the anger that the man showed came from you. Your intent was lash out and defend yourself, to fight back. He sensed it and reacted accordingly, do you know what he reacted to? "
By this time they made their way out of the busy commercial area and were heading to the forest.
"Your fear young one that is what he reacted to."
"Yes, he sensed your fear, always remember this young one; in battle if you can read your opponents intent, then they have already won half the battle."
"Why is that?"
"Simple, in knowing your opponent's intent you can easily predict their actions and react accordingly."
"How do learn to read another person's intent?"
"The key to reading another person's intent is simple observation. Remember what we spoke about in the beginning; know the smallest things and the largest?"
The boy had decency to be embarrassed, "yeah"
"The small things add up little by little and eventually turn into a big result."
"I think I get it now. It's like the pieces of a puzzle the whole is sum of the parts."
"However, just to make sure I have an assignment for you"
"What! Home work!"
"Yes, you are to study everything about all the elemental nations, beginning with Konoha. You will study their history, economy, political and military structures. Everything to be known about these nations you will learn. "
"That's a lotta work old man!"
"Well you should begin as soon as possible."
The pair continued to walk until they reached the center of one of the old training grounds.
"The better you are able to observe, the more you will be able to see. Nature has a secret to tell, do you think you can discover it?"
"A secret, you certainly don't make things easy"
"Nothing worthwhile in this life is ever easily obtained"
"Now, I want you to observe you environment using all of your senses. Observe everything! Feel the wind on your skin, but do not flinch. Take in the aromas around you but do not reject them. Take in the sights around you but do not blink. Hear the sounds around but do not let your concentration waver. Let nothing escape your senses. Observe with your whole body, when you can observe with your whole body then you will never be caught off-guard. We are all subject to the laws of nature; we are a part of nature. Nature contains great wisdom and is always guiding us, but in our haste and quest for power and other material things we miss all the messages that she is sending to us. The movement and sounds of the animals in the forest can alert you the presence of the enemy. Wild animals have a finely honed sense of danger; they walk the tight rope of life and death everyday. Every day can be their last; they do not waste time like we do on frivolous things. Some call it a sixth sense or instinct but it doesn't matter. What matters is that an animal is always aware of its surrounds and automatically knows when danger is nearby. Learn from them and let them guide you they will no let you down, the old man said. This is the first step and as your skill in observation increases, the things you can see will begin to deepen."
"Oh yes young one, there are wonders in this world that our senses can not perceive."
"The power of observation is a key factor in the way of the warrior. You must know your environment like the back of your hand. Your life and the lives of the men you may have under your command depend on it. Take in every aspect of the battle field; in times of war you may not be able to choose the battlefield. However, you must gain sufficient knowledge of the field in order to effectively maneuver yourself or your men. Always remember that in battle one mistake is all it takes to lose your life and those of your men."
For the next two hours Naruto stood at the centre of the field and struggled to observe with his whole body. At first it was difficult for the young blond for his mind, like many other people was a jumbled mass of random thoughts and images. However, after a while his mind began to calm down and he began to notice things that were not there before. He noticed the lizard crawling on the ground at the base of the rock. He also saw the little jay singing in the trees and the smell of the forest and the feel of the direction of the wind blowing in his hair.
As he was concentrating, his master asked. "What direction is the wind blowing?"
"It is blowing from the East" the boy replied.
"What do you smell in the wind and how does the wind feel?"
"I smell the forest; rooting wood, and the fresh smell of the river. I also smell smoke in the air from the village and the body of a rotting animal. The wind feels slightly warm."
"What do you see?"
"There are lizards crawling about, birds in the trees, there are rabbits running around on the forest floor. There is also a snake coiled up in branch of that large tree over there."
"What do you hear?"
Once again the boy described what he heard. "I hear the birds chirping, animals rustling in the leaves, the flowing of the river and the waterfall.
Once they were finished the old man said "you have an excellent general sensing abilities. This means I could make things more difficult for you 'his heightened senses must be to the Kyuubi, foxes are known to have excellent senses of sight, smell and hearing. All I need to do is refine his skills.' "The old man had a dangerous glint in his eyes that made Naruto gulp.
"H-Hai O-Old man, but why are you going to make the exercise more difficult?"
"The answer to that question is simple young one. In battle there will come a time when one or all of your senses may be impaired and you need to get accustomed to fighting without the aid of one or more than one of your senses. Battle just as life is often unforgiving and you need to be prepared for any eventuality."
This is often the greatest weakness of Kekkai Genkei users, especially Doujutsu wielders. They are so heavily focused on their Doujutsu, that they neglect the other aspects of their training. When they meet an opponent that could nullify or disable their Doujutsu, then they are lost. The greatest fear of a Doujutsu wielder is blindness."
"Hai Sensei, I understand now"
"Good, now since your basic sensing skills are developed I am going to make things a little more difficult for you" the said while walking up to the boy and putting hand on the boy's shoulder.
"Hey Old man what you're going to do?"
With one deft, downward pull the old man ripped the entire arm off the boy's jumpsuit.
"Heeeeey! Are you senile old man that was my favorite jumpsuit. "
"So! That thing was hideous, but don't worry I have a suitable replacement for you don't worry."
"A replacement, I don't trust you old man"
"Don't worry the old man said with a smile"
"Ok, if you say so"
"Now I want you cover your eyes with that piece of cloth"
"You mean my jumpsuit!"
"Yes, your jumpsuit"
"Alright, alright Old man" the boy said as he covered his eyes waiting on his master's response
"Where are you Old man? Old man? Don't tell me you're going to leav….."
Thwack, the boy was hit by a small rock on his head.
"Hey what the hell that was for!"
Thwack, thwack he was hit twice again.
"Sight is one of the most used of all our senses" he heard the old man say.
"Listen and feel the attack coming"
Naruto stooped his ranting and began to focus.
Thwack, thwack, thwack he was hit again
"Focus!" the old man said very firmly. "Do not allow the pain to drop your guard"
Naruto began to focus a little more. Then he heard it, a slight whizzing coming directly at him and he felt a shift in the air his face. He was too late to react but he heard it.
'I heard it the sound of the rock and I felt the air as it approached my face'
He took hits until all over his body there were bruises, but he was getting closer and closer to dodging the pebbles.
As the weeks went by he was able to dodge the pebbles blind folded. During that time the old man systematically took all of the boy's senses away from him. By far the most difficult and the most painful sense for him to practice using was his sense of touch.
This is the way Naruto trained for the next three months. He observed everything in his environment: the people in the streets, the stores, the trees, the parks, how they walked, talked and expressed themselves. Everything became training for him; from his trips to Ichiraku's ramen stand to sitting in his apartment reading. There were few things that the boy did not observe. Spending so much time in Nature, he developed a fondness for it and would return to the forest to study the work that Sensei gave him. Other times he would go just be in the presence of the plants and animals of the forest.
It was only after Naruto read about the history and current functioning of the nations that he realized how important the little things are. From the small pheasant farmer, to the merchant shops, their contributions added up to become the life blood of the nations.
One evening while training with sensei….
Naruto stood in front of his master in the centre of the training field in the outskirts of Konoha with two wooden bokken in hand. They were the length of the standard katana which was approximately 60cm. They were about to being the second stage of his training. He had changed his clothing at the behest of the old man since he ripped his favorite jumpsuit. He now wore a simple, pure black kimono with an orange spiral at the back. The old man commented that he looked good in the new outfit and Naruto grudgingly admitted that it was comfortable.
"Today we are going to begin the second stage of your training and the next discipline that you are going to learn is the discipline of Water, NiTen Ichi Ryu and Nitojutsu. Before we begin can you tell me what is off about this scenery young one?"
"Hai sensei, there is a hidden ninja in the large tree two o'clock my direction."
"How did you discover the location of the shinobi?"
"When the shinobi arrived a two birds darted out the tree, chirping frantically. At first I thought it was a predator possibly a snake, but I didn't see any and then I saw the edge of their shinobi sandals just outside the bark."
The old man seemed very pleased. "You have done very well, your powers of observation have developed greatly."
With the formerly hidden Anbu…
The Anbu stood stock still shocked beyond belief that she was spotted by the old man and the blonde boy. She looked at her feet pointing just outside, 'shit!' She was an Anbu an elite, if he is able to do this at this age then when he gets older, 'Hokage-sama will be interested in this development.'
Back with Naruto and Sensei….
"Water is powerful element that can destroy in one single crashing flood or gradually eroding the obstacle. Water is the very existence of adaptation, it changes according to the situation. Thus in battle you will must become like water and adapt to the situation. Niten Ichi-Ryu, the school of the two heavens as one, has its basis in strategy and timing."
"The first ten (heaven) in strategy your spiritual bearing must not be any different from normal. Both in fighting and in everyday life you should be determined though calm. In life always seek balance with balance you can adapt to any situation; you must become balanced in body, mind and sprit. Neither of these create weakness and nor do they reveal it to the enemy. In creating balance within yourself you will be able to observe it in others and thus you will be able to take advantage of their weaknesses."
"Stance is a crucial aspect of the swordsman's way, your kamae or stance can be the difference between life and death. Always keep your head straight forward and erect, not down or side ways and keep your spine erect this is the center-line of your body and is crucial for your stance. However, although your stance is important it can also reveal your intentions to your opponent. You must learn to use right timing to reveal your intentions to your opponent. Perceive everything around you down to the most minute of details, for against a skilled opponent if you take your eyes off of them you will be dead."
Then next "ten" is timing: "Timing is important in dancing and pipe or string music, for they are in rhythm only if timing is good. Timing and rhythm are also involved in the warrior arts. In all skills and abilities there is timing... There is timing in the whole life of the warrior, in his thriving and declining, in his harmony and discord. Similarly, there is timing in the Way of the merchant, in the rise and fall of capital. All things entail rising and falling timing. You must be able to discern this. In strategy there are various timing considerations. From the outset you must know the applicable timing and the inapplicable timing, and from among the large and small things and the fast and slow timings find the relevant timing, first seeing the distance timing and the background timing. This is the main thing in strategy. It is especially important to know the background timing; otherwise your strategy will become uncertain."
"With the mastery of strategy and timing you will be able to defeat ten men as easily as you are able to defeat one. Apply this to all areas of your life. Do you understand young one."
"Yes sensei," Naruto replied
"Good young one. Let us continue"
Now on to Nitojutsu. Nitojutsu is a Kenjutsu style that utilizes two swords. Usually the two weapons are a katana and a Wakizashi; however you will be training with two wooden long swords so that your body becomes balanced in the use of the two swords.
"Good, now to be a master swordsman you must attack with your body, mind and spirit, if any is lacking your attacks will be weak and indecisive which can lead to your downfall."
The pair made it to the edge of a large waterfall that was located in the training ground.
"Now there are five main stances in Kenjutsu. Jodan, Chudan, Gedan, Hasso, and Wake-game. The chudan stance is the most basic of stances and the other stances are derived from this basic stance. It is a stance that is balanced in both attack and defense. In order to perform this stance you need to your spine straight, head erect and facing forward, with your hips straight as well. Have your left foot slightly behind your right and keep both feet parallel to each other. The right knee should be bent and the left almost straight. Grip both bokken with a firm yet gentle grip, let your hands be approximately five inches from your torso and have the tip of each bokken pointing towards the next of your imaginary opponent."
The boy's form was rough but that was to be expected. It took Naruto a week to understand and perform the five basic stances of the sword.
"Now that you understand that posture, you will be holding it under the waterfall. This will strengthen your body, mind and spirit."
The boy's eyes widened for a second before hardening into determination, "Hai old man" the boy said
Sensei just smiled at his student
The moment made it under the waterfall the tremendous force of the water, lashed unforgivingly on his body, pushing him onto his hands and knees. He struggled under the water trying to raise his body up, when he heard sensei's words.
"Remember young one, move with your body, mind and spirit anything less and you will be crushed. Don't fight the waterfall, because if you do, you will lose. You are a part of Nature, part of the waterfall. Feel your body, listen to it, calm your mind, allow your spirit to come forth. Gentleness always overcomes forcefulness. Do you feel it? Do you feel your strength?"
By this time Naruto had made it unto his knees under the overwhelming force of the waterfall. 'Feel my body, empty my mind, and allow my spirit to come forth' Naruto closed his eyes and was trying to feel his body. In the darkness, he began to feel his body: arms, legs, shoulders, his muscles, bones, every part of his body became alive with energy. In the darkness of his mind the noise of the waterfall faded away. 'Don't fight the waterfall, if I fight it I will lose.'
'It is me, forceful, fighting, and unstoppable. I cannot fight myself, I cannot use force.'
At that moment, a strange calm overcame the boy as the waterfall began to feel lighter and lighter like he was in his shower. The water just seemed to flow right past his body; no force, do not fight.
He stood tall under the waterfall, he did it. 'Yesssss! I did it,' he thought. However the moment he began to think, he was overwhelmed by the waterfall and swept into the river.
A few minutes later he was swept onto the river bank sprawled on the bank, looking at the sky and breathing hard. He felt a shadow looming over him, it was sensei.
"You were proud of your accomplishment and it showed in your facial expression. What you accomplished was a glimpse of your natural state, it was nothing special. You got preoccupied with your feat and lost your way. Pride, elation, forcefulness will all get you killed in battle, do you remember the final lesson?"
"Never stray from the way, I remember old man"
"It was special to me Old man"
"Of course it was; you are crammed fully of anger that you forgot your true strength. Seeing it for the first time were awed by it"
"My true strength, how do I find it?"
"Yes young one, all the answers you need can be found inside you not on the outside. Now try again."
"Hai Old man" said the boy as he got up and went under the waterfall again with his bokken in hand.
It took him two weeks of constant practice everyday just to stand upright, under the waterfall and stay there. It took him another two weeks to actually move his hands and legs; once this was accomplished the old man had him working on perfecting the stances under the waterfall. This was no easy task for the boy, and it took him two months and a half of constant practice to hold those stances under the water fall with his bokken, without dropping his guard. Every falter, every hole in his guard resulted in him being hit with a small rock where ever the hole in his defense was found. The Old man was relentless in his exploiting of the holes in his defense, and every time Naruto fell out of the waterfall and washed up onto the banks the Old man would say, "You just died there, leave no openings for your enemies to exploit"
The assigned Anbu was really impressed with the training the boy was undertaking and knew that to accomplish what he did, took extreme discipline. The Old man was a really good, if not ruthless trainer. However, he was also a kind and wise man as well and the boy was flourishing under the man's tutelage.
Meeting with the discovered Anbu and the Hokage...
"Yes, Hokage-sama I was detected by young Naruto. I was discovered by a child who isn't even a Genin yet, and that old man, at the rate he is developing at who knows how far he could go. Whatever he is teaching young Uzumaki it is causing him to develop at a rapid pace in a few year times this kid is truly going to be a force to be reckoned with Sandaime-sama."
"Describe the man's method of teaching" said the Sandaime
"He is patient but a bit ruthless…" and the Anbu went into detail about what he heard and saw. "I learnt a few things myself" the Anbu stated.
"Hmmm, interesting. It seems that I will have to view one of these training sessions myself"
"The training sessions are definitely interesting Hokage-sama"
"Vey well then, you are dismissed"
"Hai Hokage-sama" and the Anbu disappeared from view"
"Uzumaki Naruto" he said to himself
End of meeting….
As the days and weeks went by Naruto was able to perfect all the stances under the waterfall without breaking his guard. The rigorous training had made his young body strong and he began to put on muscle mass due to the training.
The Sandaime was watching the pair as they made their way to the training ground for their days work
Having perfected your stances, today you are going to learn about the five attitudes of Kenjutsu and they are: Upper, Lower, Middle, Right and Left sides. But before we continue could you tell me what amiss here young one?
"Yes sensei. There is someone around but I cannot find their location they are very well hidden."
"How did you discover them asked the old man?"
"There were three rabbits over by the rocks near that small tree to your right. For the past hour or so they have been in that area but just a moment ago the suddenly became agitated for no reason. There are not predators around so the only conclusion is that their is someone near by spying on us again"
The Sandaime was shocked but he did not show it, Naruto had almost detected him and he was really close too, because he hid in the very tree Naruto called out. Although he was just testing the boy's sensing abilities, he had to admit that the child passed with flying colors. The boy was extremely conscious of his surroundings. The old man training methods were great to produce such a drastic improvement in young Naruto.
"Very well done Naruto let us continue"
"Now as I was saying there are five attitudes of Kenjutsu: Upper, middle and lower correspond to head; chest and abdomen the right blow to these areas are usually fatal. Left and right attitude refers to the extremities and blows to these areas are not usually fatal be came be sorely debilitating."
"Your attitude should be large or small according to the situation. Upper, Lower and Middle attitudes are decisive. Left Side and Right Side attitudes are fluid. Left and Right attitudes should be used if there is an obstruction overhead or to one side. The decision to use Left or Right depends on the place."
"Now take your stance young one alongside me and flow my movements: Men (head), Tsuki (body), Do (waist), Migi (left), Hiden (right). "
Naruto did as he was told and so they began the basics of Kenjutsu
Sarutobi watched as the two continued to train in the way of the sword, he saw that the man was harsh and unforgiving but he was also wise and Sandaime could see that he cared for Naruto deeply. 'Naruto is in good hands, this will do the boy well.' He then faded into thin air.
Naruto practiced the five attitudes until his arms were sore and his application of the strikes became flawless.
"Your understanding of the five attitudes is flawless, now you are going to learn the different techniques of Nitojutsu and thus swordsmanship. Before I begin I would like to tell you about the true essence of swordsmanship."
"The true essence of swordsmanship? Don't we just cut down our enemies?"Asked the boy.
"No young one, most swordsmen believe that our art is about the techniques and defeating the enemy just as you do." Sensei turned away and was facing the waterfall looking up at the cascading water with a somber look on his face.
Naruto knew the words that he was about to hear, would be some of the most important that he would hear his master speak
The old man began. "Swordsmanship ultimate ideal develops in three stages: This ideal begins with the unity of swordsman and sword; in this unity even a blade of grass or a stick is a weapon. In the second stage the sword no longer exists in one's hands but in one's heart; but even when absent from one's hand you can strike an enemy with your hands as if they were swords."
By this time Naruto was totally absorbed in the man's words.
"The first two achievements of the swordsman pale in comparison the final and ultimate achievement of the swordsman. Is the absence of sword in both hand and heart; the swordsman is at peace with himself and the rest of the world. He vows not to kill and seeks to bring peace to mankind."
"Peace? But isn't a sword a weapon, a tool to kill?"
"Oh yes they are young one, no doubt about that. Swords are used to kill, it is that simple. However, the sword is a paradox that makes sense and at the same time doesn't make sense."
"I don't understand"
"In this world, there are only two types of swords"
"Only two?" the boy responded in amazement. He read a book about the different types of swords and blades. How can there be only two?
"Yes and these two swords are the Katsujinken or the life giving sword and the Satsujinken or life taking sword. Any sword, any blade falls into either one of these two categories. If you kill a man who is about to murder innocent children, then in the act of killing that man your sword becomes life giving. However, you took the man's life and however evil he may be it was still a life and thus your sword becomes a life taking sword. Even further, these terms can be used as way of life and of swordsmanship; either to take or preserve life."
"Do you understand, what is at stake when you take up a blade and point it at another human being? No! You do not. It is only when the tip of your blade is at you enemy's throat and he is begging for life will you truly understand these words. Only then will you understand the power of the blade"
Naruto was speechless. The old man's words were stuck in his mind and he could not get them out.
The old man sighed "Your lesson is done for today we shall meet tomorrow at 5 pm to continue your training. Let us leave this place"
Without a word they left the training ground.
Later that evening at Ichiraku's Ramen stand…..
Naruto was enjoying his favorite dish of all time, ramen. His mind was still one the words of the old man at the end of their training session. Those words had put a weight on his heart and he did not know how to get it off.
"So, Naruto how have you been? I haven't seen you around for a while you must be really working hard in the academy?" Old man Teuchi asked his number one customer
"No old man I am not in the academy anymore, I am not going to be a ninja of Konoha"
With that statement Teuchi just stopped what he was doing. "You're not going to be a ninja of Konoha! What about your dream to be Hokage?"
"I have found something more important than being Hokage"
"What is it Naruto?"
"Peace of mind, old man. To me peace of mind is more important than being Hokage and I had anything but peace of mind in the academy, in the village."
"So you don't like Konoha anymore?"
"Despite everything, this is my home even though it causes me a great deal of pain"
"I understand. You are developing into a fine young man Naruto, keep up the good work"
Naruto gave him a truly genuine smile. "Thanks old man."
"Hey where is Ayame? I haven't seen her around"
"Oh, Ayame is in Otafuku Gai taking care of her sick aunt. She will not be back for sometime"
"Oh, Ok that's really nice of her"
"That's just who she is Naruto"
For the rest of the evening the duo engaged in animated conversation with each other.
The following day with Naruto and Sensei….
Naruto and Myushi met at the designated time and were making their way through the streets of Konoha. Anytime Naruto lost concentration or became preoccupied, he was smacked on the head by Myushi. Smackings were the ritual between the two as they walked and spoke with each other. The villagers were curious about the boy's new dress code of the simple black kimono with an orange spiral at the back. 'Did he give up on being a ninja?' The pair walked until they left the districts and were beginning to enter the training grounds. They continued to walk into an unfamiliar part of the Konoha training grounds.
"Where are we going sensei?"
"Where are going to a place where you are going to train and learn the most important secret of swordsmanship. Something that is more important than any technique or any skill you might learn."
"What is that Old man?"
"Instinct young one. The will to survive, to fight for one's life. To be at the brink of death. That is more important than any technique, or any skill."
"Survive?" the boy said, noticing that they were at the approaching a large fenced off forest with large metal gates equally spaced.
"Welcome to the forest of life, your new home."
"My new home?"
"Yes, you will be living and training here until you are ready to serve with the rest of the military forces of Konoha."
"But Old man all I have is my bokken. What will I eat and where will I sleep?"
"You have everything you need and you will have to find your own food and place to sleep. Nature will teach you more than I ever could. We will train with your Kenjutsu techniques and we will also begin your Taijutsu training as well."
'This is Anbu recruit training he is giving the boy Sandaime-sama will definitely be interested in this' thought the Anbu
"The boy perked up a little at the taught of more training"
"I will come here some time to train you, after which you will spend the night in the forest. Listen to your instincts, listen to your body because the body always knows, listen to your sword, listen to your spirit, and listen to Nature. Learn from her, she is your greatest teacher. Live…."
"I will see you sometime young one. One last bit of advice before I leave animals instinctively knows how to identify fear."
"Hai you crazy Old-man,"
'Is this old man crazy?' The Anbu thought.
At that moment he felt the old man's presence behind him. 'How did I not feel him until he was directly behind me?'
"Anbu-san, please don't interfere with the boy's training"
"I am under the orders of the Hokage Sir, not you"
"Very well then Anbu-san I understand and the man disappeared"
'What the hell!' thought a surprised Anbu. 'This kid is being trained by such a man!'
Later at the Hokage's office…
"Hello there Hokage-sama, I came here with a request"
"My Anbu already informed me of your request. You have done a remarkable job with the boy, but leaving an eleven year old child in the forest of death is irresponsible."
"No, it is necessary training. He is young yes, but he has had a hard life and it will only get harder. When he goes out into the world, he will have to fight to survive and to ensure the survival of those around him."
"I do agree with you, but his condition makes him unique"
"So you're saying his life is worth more than his peers, Sarutobi-sama?"
"Though I hate to admit it, yes it is. His life is more valuable than most in the village"
"You have lost your way Sarutobi, in Nature no life is more important than the other. All are equal under heaven."
"All are equal under heaven?"
"Yes they are and a man of your vast experience especially with war should know this"
"The boy needs to face his own mortality. He needs to be surrounded by the possibility of his death, for his life to be constantly on the line."
Naruto was in the forest of death for the first time. His sense of danger was on high alert he did not know where he was and the feeling of fear rose from deep within his being. The grip on his wooden bokken tightened instinctively. All around him, all he could feel was death.
"Myushi-san, you know of his condition as a Jinchuriki he is a valuable village asset"
"An asset that will die in the first serious encounter in battle, because he has not grown beyond his fear" Relpied Myushi
The boy was in the forest, with his mind moving at a million miles per minute.
'What do I do now?' Then he remembered the old man's words 'let your instincts guide you.' "I need to find shelter and food"
"Yes, I know but only when his life is on the line will he know the true fear of death. Only then can he gather the courage to transcend his fear."
As Naruto made his way through the huge forest his senses told him to turn left. As he turned to face the direction his senses told him to, he was greeted by the sight of a ferocious wild boar. The animal was easily four times his size and had huge tusks protruding out of its mouth and muscles that could be seen even through its thick, tough hide. The hairs on the back of the boy's neck rose in fear of the situation he was faced with. His primal instincts told him to run, but he couldn't. He was in unknown territory and who knows what else he would run into if he blindly ran through the forest. He needed to stand his ground and fight. He would not die here to this animal.
The hidden Anbu looked on at the confrontation between the boy and the beast. The shinobi knew that was a very terrible situation for a child to face. But then the Anbu saw the look of determination in the eyes of the child. 'This kid!'
Naruto looked at the beast in the eyes and held his bokken in his hand. Time seemed to slow down as two of Nature's children squared off in deadly combat. The wild animal thrust forward at him with incredible speed, the boy was just able to dodge the initial onslaught by the savage beast. However, his kimono was cut by the long tusk of the boar; a long gash remained but quickly began to heal as a result of the Kyubii.
Sarutobi listened carefully as the man spoke.
"He must learn fear and never forget its lessons"
"You are taking him too close to death's door Myushi" Said the Sandaime in a grave tone
Naruto barely dodged another ferocious charge by the wild animal.
"It is necessary Sarutobi"
"Yes, it is necessary to protect him at all costs"
"You mean, cripple him at all costs."
"Only the strongest warriors know such fear, because they stared death in the face and overcame it."
The two beings circled each other warily with their gazes locked on each other.
Sarutobi couldn't disagree with the man's words, but he was still fearful for the boy's life. He relented "Very well then, my Anbu will not interfere in the boy's training"
"Thank you Sarutobi-dono. The boy will not die, he is too much of a knuckle head to do so"
Sarutobi could only chuckle at the man's word because they were true
The boy knew that there were very few places that he could hit the wild beast that would actually hurt with his bokken. In order to win, he needed to hit vital areas.
"His life will be at more danger than ever, do you really think his enemies will spare him on the battle field?"
"I would hope so," Sarutobi said in a mirthful tone
Preoccupied with how to kill the animal, he did not see the root of a tree protruding out of the ground and lost his balance. The boar struck…..
Naruto saw the beast rushing at him as he was unbalanced. Time seemed to flow in slow motion as the beast closed in on him. He saw the sharp tusks of the animal aimed directly for the centre of his chest.
The Anbu was about to intercept the animal before to impale the poor child. However, the boy had a strange look in his eyes that completely stopped the shinobi in his tracks.
He quickly shifted his shoulder which resulted in him getting a wicked diagonal slash across his chest. The blow sent upward about twenty feet and slammed him into the trunk of a large tree and fell limply into the ground. He escaped certain death.
Seeing the body of its prey laying still on the forest floor, the large animal cautiously made its way to claim its prize.
The boy lay on the ground motionless on the ground with his tow bokken on the ground and a large, bleeding, diagonal gash across his chest.
'The boy's eyes were closed. I was preoccupied with my fear, with this forest, the beast; I failed to see everything effortlessly, I failed to truly see.'
'I have been alone and ignored all my life; ha! How ironic I have been called a demon and monster and here I am fighting for my life in a forest of death. I am who I am and I cannot control the events of life.'
The boy slowly stood up and righted himself; he looked up at the forest, at himself and the beast. The beast stopped in its tracks and eyed the boy curiously.
'It is just a beast and I am just a human being and this is just a forest. In the eyes of Kami: myself, this tree, this beast, we are all insignificant. If I am to die here, in this forest created by Kami, then so is it.'
With that realization a strange calm overtook the boy, it was almost frightening. 'I am too calm, to be in such a situation. His vision became clear; the whole forest just seemed to come alive. I can see! My sight is so clear that I could see the bugs crawling on the forest floor and the movements of the muscles in the beast's body are as clear as day.'
'What has happened to the boy, I sense no fear in him at all. He has changed somehow, it is as if he is here but not here' Thought the hidden ANBU
"I am sorry my friend, but you will not be taking my life this day." The boy said to the great beast
The savage beast became agitated by the peaceful stare of the young boy in front of it.
"I see you my friend, and if you charge again you will die"
The beast began to huff and grunt in agitation, unsure of whether to attack or defend. Slowly it began to retreat in an unsure manner; it could no longer smell the fear rolling off the boy. The animal was afraid as if cornered.
The boy sensed the agitation in the animal and knew that it was going to attack. He would have to kill the beast. He would make it a quick and painless death, right then sensei's words came to his mind. "Your body always knows, listen to it; let it guide you. Listen to your sword"
In a feral grunt the animal charged. In his peaceful state, the boy was unafraid; he could see every movement every breath of the wild beast charging towards him. The boy had a smile on his face.
'The boy is smiling, is he crazy!'The Anbu thought.
The beast began to lower its head for the upward thrust with its sharp tusks.
Naruto watched as the tusks approached him, ready to take his life.
Everything just seemed to slow down for him and he could smell the stench of the beast's breath. 'Let your body and your sword guide you.'
As the beast raised its head to apply the finishing blow, the boy's body moved on its own. He side stepped the charge and he stood in a crouching position underneath the exposed throat of the beast as its head reached the pinnacle of the attack.
'Attack with your body, mind and spirit.'
In one fluid motion he brought his two bokken together and poured is whole being into one attack, into the throat of the great beast.
During the attack, he couldn't tell where he began and the sword ended. He knew exactly where he was going to attack the beast and when.
'In that moment Timing and Strategy became one and the result was beautiful and deadly'
At the pinnacle of the beast's attack its neck will be totally exposed and vulnerable. With a sharp force at the base of the jaw, Naruto shattered the connection between the beast's spinal cord and brain.
It dropped dead in a loud crash before it could even make a sound; in a single stroke it was dead.
'A single stroke...a single stroke was the difference between life and death' Naruto thought
'Beautiful' is what the Anbu thought
The boy stood along side the dead beast huffing and puffing after his first true life and death experience. He was thankful to the great beast for the lesson it taught him.
Domo arigato boar-san for the lesson you have taught me. He gave a respectful bow and continued his voyage into the forest. "Man what a first day" he said to himself
Two weeks later...
It had been two weeks since Naruto began his training in the forest. He survived by hunting small wild animals like rabbits, birds and he fished regularly in the river. He continued to train in what sensei had taught him; but he also trained in learning to listening to his body and his sword.
Currently his was taking a break in a large clearing. He was leaning on a large tree eating some wild edible berries that he found. He had found out the hard way what berries were edible and those that weren't. He also never let his guard down and he never left his back open. He developed a very acute sense of danger living in a forest where you could be attacked at any moment.
During his little break Naruto heard the slight crunching of leaves behind the tree and instantly grabbed his bokken from his side and went on the alert.
"Ah! Good, good young one, your senses are sharpening."
"Old-man, you left me in this bloody forest and on the very first day I had to fight for my life, are you crazy? Forest of life my ass!"Said the boy in his fit of rage.
"Stop complaining this is just the beginning of your training"
"What, just the beginning!"
"Yes I already told you that the training will be tough. Do you wish to quit?"
"No, but it's just that this is so new to me"
"This is the life of the warrior; we face the unknown everyday. The idea of security is an illusion, it isn't real. I dampens our senses and makes us dull and in attentive."
"Security is an illusion?"
"Yes. Danger lurks at every corner, especially for a warrior, you cannot let your guard down. That is what this forest is teaching you; it is teaching you a simple fact of life."
"Enough talk, time to begin your training."
"What am I going to learn?"
"Before we go into any of the sword techniques of Nitojutsu, you need to understand the concept of Ma-ai and Ki."
"What about chakra old-man, don't samurai use chakra?"
"Yes, almost all modern day samurai use chakra, but you are going to learn to use a deeper more potent source of energy, Ki. With this energy you may be able achieve feats that very few samurai were able to achieve"
"What are these feats Old Man?" the boy asked excitedly
"You are not ready yet" was Myushi's simple reply
Naruto knew that was the end of that conversation, when Myushi had nothing more to say, he had nothing more to say. So going back to the topic at hand Naruto asked "What is Ki, Old man?"
"Listen very carefully, this lesson will be the foundation of everything you will learn from here on out."
"Hai Old man"
"Very well then; you have been taught that chakra is the result of mixing the energy produced by the cells of the body and the mental and spiritual energy gain from exercise and experience. It is what shinobi use to execute Ninjutsu and Genjutsu techniques."
"What about Taijutsu?"
"Taijutsu mostly uses energy produced by the cells of the body. However, taijutsu experts and high level shinobi often use chakra to augment their Taijutsu skills."
"Understand young one?"
"Yes, I understand"
"Ki on the other hand is the energy of the universe"
"The energy of the universe, isn't chakra the energy of the universe?"The boy asked in confusion.
"No. Chakra is produced by our bodies, you can think of it as diluted Ki. Let me explain further"
"As I was saying, Ki is the energy of the universe; it is the thread that connects all things. From the minerals of the earth to man, it is the glue that holds the universe together and it engenders growth and transformation. Ki is the beginning, middle and end of all activity in the universe. Ki does not cause change; it is present before, during and after any change. Change is simply a manifestation of what was already inherent in the previous state."
"I don't understand Old man"
"Ok. Look at that tree over there" said the man, pointing to one of the numerous large trees in around them. "Now before that tree came to be, it was first a seed. However, the seed and the tree are completely different things, yet the tree comes from the seed. Does it not?"
"Therefore, the manifestation of the tree was already inherent in the seed although the seed is tiny and the tree is very large."
"Ah!" Said the boy "Like the chicken or the egg"
"Yes, they are both manifestations of each other. Yet, each are different possibilities of the same energy, the same Ki."
"Do you understand now?"
"Yes I do"
"Now the Ki of the universe has bounds." The old man said picking up a stick from the ground and continued…There two types of Ki: Yin and Yang. Yin Ki is heavy and dark and from it the earth was born. Yang on the other hand was light and clear and thus formed the heavens."The man said while drawing the Yin Yang symbol; the outer circle represents the bounds of Yin and Yang, while Yin is represented by the color black and Yang the color white. They move in a never ending circle perfectly in tune with each other."
Naruto listened with rapt attention to what was being told to him
"Ki of Yin was cold and once accumulated formed water. Where as the….." the boy finished the sentence for him….
"Ki of Yang was hot and when accumulated formed fire. Am I right old man?"
"Yes you are very good young one, you are beginning to understand"
"Can you tell me about the earth and wind elements?" Asked the old man
"Earth will definitely be Yin since it is by definition heavy and dark. Wind will be Yang since it is light and clear."
"Excellent young one. That is why on the shinobi elemental wheel fire is enhanced by wind and water is muddied by the earth. This is because fire and wind are both Yang natured elements while water and earth are both Yin natured elements. This is also why water and fire cancel each other out and earth and wind are unable to overcome each other. Understand?"
"Yes Old-man, this is very interesting"
The old man chuckled, "Yes it is young one, yes it is"
"Yin and Yang; Earth and Heaven through their unity the four seasons can you explain the four seasons were born. Can you describe the seasons in terms of Yin and Yang young one?"
"Yes Old-man. Winter will be Yin since its cold, where as Summer will be Yang because it is hot. Spring, which is the transition between Winter and Summer will be a varying mixture of both Yin and Yang Ki as the season changes from Winter to Summer. It will also be the same for Autumn which is the transition from Fall to Winter."
"Very good young one"
"All of Nature is a cycle of change; Autumn flows into Winter; Winter to Spring; Spring to Summer and Summer to Autumn. The cold harshness of Winter gives way to the promise of the vitality and rebirth of Spring. Nothing lasts forever and the cycle continues"
"Now both living and non-living things have Ki, since it is basically the glue that holds the universe together. Chakra however, is limited to only living beings."
"Chakra is cultivated and enhanced through physical training and concentration exercises. Ki is also enhanced through physical training and exercises, but the most important aspect of Ki training is achieving the simultaneous movement and stillness of body and mind. Then it is just a matter projecting this stillness outward."
"How could the body is something that we use do all sorts of things, how can you achieve both movement and stillness?" Asked the boy
"That is an excellent question young one, and you will have to find the answer on your own."
"On my own! You don't make anything easy old man"
"I told you already, that Nature contains all the answers. Giving you the answers to all your questions is not making you stronger, it is making you weaker. I am a guide to show you the way to your strengths, but it is a path that you walk alone. Discovering the true meaning of things yourself will bring you strength and wisdom and there will be a grace and simplicity to what you do."
"There are three aspects of Ki that you must understand in order to fully utilize this primordial energy."
"What are they Old man?"
"Simplicity, Change and Constancy"
"Simplicity- the root of substance of Ki: as I said before Ki is the fundamental essence behind everything in the universe, the root of all substance is plainly and utterly simple. No matter how complex a thing may be, at its core it totally simple. It is the building block of all existence, yet its essence is simple"
"Variability- the use of substance: I have taught you that everything in the universe is subject to change, it is no different for Ki. Thus, you need to be able to perceive the various manifestations of Ki and be able to adapt to them and utilize them."
"Constancy- the essence of substance: although the manifestations of Ki vary, ultimately it does not matter what form the energy takes or how it is used, it is all the same Ki.
"Now the second thing I have to teach you is about Ma-ai"
"Ma-ai in its simplest term is the interval or space between two fighters. Distance, time, rhythm and angle all affect Ma-ai."
"There are two types of Ma-ai: physical and mental. Physical Ma-ai refers to the actual distance between two fighters, which can be To-ma or long distance, Itto-ma or middle distance and Chika-ma or short distance. Ma-ai varies with each fighter; a fast opponent will have a greater Ma-ai than a slow opponent. For this reason speed will be a very important factor in your training."
"The mental aspect of Ma-ai refers to gaps in you or your opponent's awareness. It is rooted in the concept of Kyo Jitsu and refers to the emptiness and fullness of a person's Ki. The gaps in awareness and Kyo Jitsu combine to form mental the Ma-ai."
"So what you're saying is that I could have physical Ma-ai and not mental Ma-ai right?"
"Yes and if you don't have both in battle, you are as good as dead against a skilled opponent."
"So what causes a disruption of mental Ma-ai?" Asked the boy
"A break in concentration, fear, doubt, surprise, confusion and breathing in, all cause a break in your mental Ma-ai. Once your opponent is in this state your attacks have the greatest chance of success"
"How does breathing in cause a lapse in mental Ma-ai?"
"Because when we breathe in our diaphragm contract and pull down on and our lungs expand, decreasing the pressure in our chest. Molecules always move from an area of higher pressure to lower pressure. With the pressure lower within the body than without air rushes into our lungs. In this moment the diaphragm and lungs are not in their natural resting state"
"Therefore this presents a moment of vulnerability to the opponent" The boy finished.
"Excellent! However, achieving the timing to strike in that moment is extremely difficult. To achieve this you have to become one with the breath of your opponent. The best time to do this is when your opponent is tired and it is easy to follow their breathing."
"Continuing on young one, using their Ki and Ma-ai samurai is able to create a field of awareness that alert them to anything that enters it. The field is created when the samurai extends their Ki to the very edge of their To-ma. They are able to know when and where a person enters the field and are able to attack or defend at a moment's notice. Thus they are never caught unaware once they maintain the field"
"Yes, cool. Your lesson is done for today. I will return in about six weeks and by then you should be able to access your Ki. Also, I want you to study this scroll inside out" Handing the boy a medium sized scroll marked 'the human body and its meridians.'"We will be starting you Taijutsu training when I return.
"Here is some advice" the old man said as he began to leave the forest.
"The more you think about something, the more you narrow your eyes in desperation to see and the more difficult it becomes to find the answer. When something is too difficult to see, then try closing your eyes."
The boy way confused by the man's words but still took them to heart as he looked on at the retreating form of the old man into the forest.
A/N: Naruto has begun his training the forest of the death. Sandaime and Myushi argue about his safety and Naruto learns important information about Ki and Ma-ai.
Next chapter: Naruto's training in the forest concludes and he is about the meet the new shinobi generation of Konoha. What does the Sandaime intend to do with Naruto? Find out in chapter three…..
Other names: N/A
Style: Niten Ichi Ryu School of Swordsmanship
Story: Myushi Miyamoto is the son and heir of lengendary samurai Mushashi Miyamoto. At the age of twenty the entire teachings of his father, his father's greatest possessions the daisho of the lengendary swordsmith Masamune and a forewarning of troubled times to come. After many years of travelling the elemental nations, he finally settled in the land of fire where he ran a small antique shop to make ends meet. During this time he met Naruto who had just failed the genin exams for the second time, upon first sight he knew that Naruto would be his pupil, the one to pass all his teachings onto and so he did. As they spend more time with each other, he beings to see Naruto as more than just his student, but as his grandson as their relationship deepens so does their bond.