Being completely honest, I was skeptical to continue this, but over the course of the last, few months, among PMs asking me to continue my fics, a surprisingly high amount actually mentioned this one... so I figured I'll give it another shot and pick up where I left off.
At this point there isn't much to say except that I ask you review, just so that I know you're still interested in this story, because "Naruto" has been quite disappointing for me lately and it is getting harder to write fics based on it... thus I would prefer to sacrifice me writing time for stories that really do have a fanbase.
With that said, here's the latest installment of LoL:
Chapter #18: Insight
Title Page: Naruto is feeding a baby fox with a bowl of meat and strokes its head gently
Enkou lowered his head to get a better glimpse of the aroma that beamed from the nearby composition of flowers. Sadly, the instant he did so, the air got ripped by a sudden noise as a steel chain wrapped around his body, immobilizing his arms as it push his back against a tree, tying the young gennin to it.
The whole motion took no more then two seconds, making the rookie leaf-nin confused as to what exactly happened. However, once he saw a figure with an oval black and white mask appearing before him, surprise got substituted with confusion.
"Wow, you really suck" the masked figure proclaimed, hanging its arms down in a disappointed manner. "No wonder I needed to save you from Kougan earlier; you have no skills at all..."
"What the hell are you talking about?" Enkou demanded, struggling to get free. "Who the hell are you? One of those Mist ANBU?" he asked, seeing slight resemblance to the group his squad met back at the village, where they were ambush.
"You could say that" the figure responded simply. "My name isn't important as I do not intend to get friendly with you; I come to deliver a message to you and your, Leaf buddies" the masked man stated in a serious tone.
"And why the hell should I listen to you?" the young Uchiha snapped, trying to break free.
"You will listen, coz you don't really have a choice in the matter" the mysterious man responded calmly, though Enkou could almost feel a twitch erupting behind his mask. "Know that Shuraba Kyoushi has an obsession and it is Akuratsu; he'll stop at nothing get claim that blade as his own, especially since he already sacrificed almost everything for it... he forsake his good name, his clan, his village, his heritage... that katana is the only thing he has left. At least that is what he believes."
"I don't see why would I care."
"Isn't it your goal for being here? To protect that geezer? Right now, that samurai is one of three things that stand in Kyoushi's way, to I would figure this is very much your business. Rest assured that your battle with him is not over" the figure stated forcefully, making Enkou lower his head.
"Why should I believe you?" the boy asked the obvious question after a short silence, glancing suspiciously at the man. "Why are you even telling me this? Whose side are you on?" he demanded, feeling his bonds weaken. The next instant the masked visitor retreated his chain and backed away a few steps, no sign of change in his posture or voice.
"Who do I side with?" he repeated the gennin's question as he gazed to the side. "That is an interesting question... one I am not sure I can answer. At this time I'm not an enemy, if that eases your mind, however... pretty soon I will become one" he proclaimed before vanishing right before the leaf-nin's eyes.
-The next morning-
At the break of dawn, team number four exited the samurai complex and headed towards the surrounding forest. Naruto lead them through a path he scouted the other night, right into a small clearing with a lake just down the hill, giving them enough room for sparring and physical exercise, while still providing enough obstacles for a less straight-forward regime. Shindo felt a bit uneasy though, fearing the repeat of tree-walking training.
"Think we can trust him, Naruto-sensei?" Rokku asked the jounin once Enkou relaid the happenings of last night to his squad. The blond rubbed his chin gently, considering the girl's question as his eyes slightly narrowed: "Frankly, it's quite unclear what this guy's agenda is; from Enkou's description we can assume he's a Kiri ANBU or at least has access to their attire, but ANBU always operate in four-man squads, so he cannot be part of the team we ran into after our showdown with Kyoushi and his underling."
"You think he's in league with the two?" Shindo wondered out loud.
"Can't really rule out that possibility" the Kyuubi vessel replied immediately. "But, by most indication, we can also assume that it was him that provided that Kirigakure no Jutsu and, while it did save Kyoushi, simultaneously it also allowed Enkou to escape with his life. Furthermore, if he was working against us, he could've just killed our young Uchiha the other night; in stead he made a great risk sneaking into the complex just to give us a warning..."
"What should we do then?" Enkou questioned worriedly.
"For now we shall concentrate on making you guys stronger" Naruto responded with a smile, turning towards the boy. "The more skill you possess, the least likely the repeat of last time gets. Even in these circumstances it is clear you three can't rely on me coming to your rescue once the battle erupts. While it is a bit early for you to be thrown into such a predicament, you must be able to handle yourselves against enemy ninja and to help you with that, I've prepared a special, training regime for each of you. Lets start with Rokku" the Kyuubi vessel purposed as he reached to his pocket and picked out a small scroll; he handed it to the kunoichi, making the girl unwrap the object and scan down it curiously. After going through the first, few positions, she glanced back at the jounin, slightly confused: "But, Naruto-sensei, these are just physical exercises with a quantity note."
"Exactly" the whisker-marked man nodded calmly, making her even more confused. "Rokku, among all three, you're the most reliant on your ninjutsu. It's true that your Earth Release is quite powerful, for gennin standards anyway, but you're very inept in close combat; should you encounter an enemy that would manage to break through your Doton, the fight is as good as done, since you have no skill nor strength to handle yourself in hand-to-hand combat. This is why I want you to do these exercises until you're able to reach the number written beside each of the positions. Also, I expect that you'll be doing that until you'll manage to do the given number of sit-ups, push-ups and the like in a row, not a day."
"In a row?" the kunoichi repeated, widening her eyes as she gazed back at the scroll. "But, Naruto-sensei, these numbers... with my physique..."
"I don't expect you to succeed in a day or two" the blond assured her, rising his hand in a calming gesture. "But it sets you a goal and, as long as you'll be aiming to reach it, your capabilities will grow as well... besides, believe it or not, but a friend of mine constantly does a similar regime... with the numbers being at least fifty times more."
"Fifty times?" Rokku repeated, slightly discouraged. Meanwhile, Enkou looked over her shoulder and went through the list: "Actually, this doesn't seem that different then the training Erubisu bragged about back in the Academy..."
"Moving on" Naruto interrupted, allowing the girl to begin her training immediately. "Shindo, your bloodline limit provides you access to all, five elements but, at the same time, prevents you from actually mixing them. This grants you a wide variety of techniques are your disposal, yet, somewhat ironically, makes all your attack patterns predictable."
"How's so?" the young Arashi questioned, suspiciously rising his eyebrow. Certainly this was the first time anyone told him there was some weak point to the Taiken and that he simply could not imagine to be true.
"Most kekkai genkai are feared and respected because they're unpredictable" the whisker-marked man answered with a stoic expression. "Being vastly different from one another and scarce, their usage is quite unique; Mokuton, for example, literally allows one to control plant life, providing extreme edge in almost any environment... Byakugan gives nearly 360 degree x-ray vision, making it near impossible to get its user from a blind spot... but your Taiken is based on elements familiar to every shinobi out there, so your opponents can at least grasp what you can throw at them."
"But my clan devised techniques unique to Taiken" Shindo countered, getting a bit defensive. "Some are similar to known skills, but others are strictly related to the Arashi and the division into five domains."
"True, but at the core your fire is just fire, lighting is just lighting" Naruto pointed out, not the least bit surprised the boy used that line of defense. "You cannot make your Fire Release burn more fiercely or have your Wind Release blow stronger then the already set limits to such skills."
"Then what am I supposed to do?"
"The answer is quite simple really" the jounin stated, gently picking up a leaf from a nearby tree. "We will use the fact that you have affinity for all, basic elements and try to make you able in inducing them into your fighting style."
"What does that mean?" the young gennin asked, still a bit skeptical. "One uses seals to get the effect they want; that's how Futon, Doton and the sort were created... this is also true for Taiken five domains" he noted, getting somewhat distracted by the sudden glance of Rokku, who was currently doing another lap around the clearing.
"By pouring wind chakra into a blade, you can make it sharper" the Kyuubi vessel explained, playing with the leaf in his hand. "Mastering this would allow your fire to burn things that, typically, are immune to flames... by using earth chakra correctly, you can make any object much more resilient then it already is and so on. This is a very difficult training, but with your potential it could rise your power countless times... in theory anyway."
And that was enough to make Shindo eager: "Okay, so where do we start?"
"Well, since I'm a Wind type myself, I imagine mastering that element first would be the easiest, as I can be the most helpful" the whisker-marked man announced, handing him the leaf. "Thus, for starters, I want you to pour that type of chakra into this and cut it in half."
"Wait, how in the world am I supposed to do that without any hand seals?" the young Arashi was clueless; a pretty unusual sight for Enkou, who by then stopped listening to his sensei's explanation, more interested in what exactly was prepared from him. Once the chatter was done and his teammate began his regime, Naruto turned to him:
"Now, Enkou, your training will be quite different" the blond stated, settling his gaze on the young Uchiha. "Since I'll be overseeing Shindo's progress mostly, I asked for outside help in this endeavor" he announced, pointing towards the forest surrounding the clearing, from where a familiar teen appeared the next moment. "Futai-kun has agreed to assist us in the matter. To put it simply your task will be to spar with him in the middle of the lake..."
"Just that?" the raven-haired gennin seemed slightly offended by the fact. "But we all already mastered water-walking exercise you gave us and if this is supposed to prepare us for another encounter with that Kyoushi fellow and his goon, don't you think some ninjutsu training would be more beneficial?"
"That boy you mentioned is capable of reverting any technique you throw at him with his sword" the Kyuubi vessel reminded him simply. "Plus, since you're carrying Kusanagi with you, might as well learn how to use it properly and what better teacher in that area can there be than a swordsman? This will help with your reflex and coordination, giving you a better understanding of weapon usage as a whole" the whisker-marked man explained patiently, narrowing his eyes: "Plus an even greater benefit... if we're lucky" he added in his mind. "So then, Futai-kun... he's all yours" the jounin stated as he turned his attention towards Shindo.
"Right" the samurai nodded as he lead the way. "Lets begin immediately" he purposed, walking onto the water. Enkou merely let out a sigh and followed the young swordsman to the middle of the lake, reaching for his katana. Futai calmly watched him do it, his face indifferent, so his voice: "Even your way of holding the blade is wrong" he announced with the slightest hint of annoyance. "It is discouraging; to be honest, when Naruto-san asked me to do this, I was expecting a sparring with that Hawatari girl, no you..."
"Sorry to disappoint" the young Uchiha growled back with a twitching eye. "This isn't exactly what I was hoping for either, but since we're both powerless over the issue, how about you actually give me some pointers, if I really stink so much!"
"Right" the samurai took a quick breath and charged forward, slicing Enkou's side before the boy could even manage to realize what was happening. With his concentration lost, his feet began going below the water surface. Quickly he regained his focus, yet still dropped to his knee, grabbing his aching spot as blood slowly escaped the body, staining his palm.
"What the hell, bastard?" the leaf-nin snapped, annoyance overcome by fury. "We were supposed to train!"
"And that is preciously what we are doing" Futai responded calmly, pointing the tip of his katana at the young Uchiha. "The goal is to teach you how to properly wield a sword, but as I understand we are short on time, so normal training will not suffice. We cannot waste the day slowly going through ever form and swing. To hone your skills rapidly, it is best that we apply real-life mechanics as that will encourage your body to react properly on its own. Make no mistake however – with that sort of approach, if you're not fast enough... not durable enough... you will die" he announced, charging towards Enkou once again...
-continued in chapter #19: Will of Iron-
Yup, it is done... turned out a bit differently then I originally planned, but all things considered, I think it's a change for the better. No Kyoushi or Homare in this one, but rest assured I have not forgotten about them. This mission arc still has quite a bit to unravel and know that you will get the full scope of the major characters in it before the curtain falls.
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it and see you next time.