The Shadow of Mana

Chapter 7

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Remember the history of life, hold your own power and discover the sleeping elements of the world!

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December 29

Hi again Mr. Diary!

Today was very exciting, but I'm also kinda sad… Michael managed to get one of the Vanguards that stay here in Floureso to teach him. I was right after all, but I'm sad because my big brother had to leave us. *sniff*

I know I shouldn't be sad, after all he did promise that he'll be back he even made a pinky promise!

Well, I wish I could have gone with him. But they say I'm too young… plus their not sure if I can be one yet. Not fair… I see other my age leave to see the world…

But I'll take care of mama and papa first! Then maybe when I grow up I'll get to see what the other towns and cities look like.

Well, I'm going now, bye bye!

~Elie Korrin

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(Historical Records)

Humans are fickle beings. One who may have established itself as the top of the proverbial food chain, yet lack certain qualities that other "lesser" beings possess. For example, no matter how a human tries, they can never defeat the tracking capabilities predators in the wild, which includes night vision, Sonar, and even scent.

However they did possess high intellect and ingenuity that animals may lack (Including opposable thumbs to most animals). With their creativity they managed to create weapons stronger than the claws and fangs of animals, they trained their bodies to be stronger and compensate with tactics and traps. Another major advantage that they have were Jutsus that current shinobi used. This easily elevated their threat levels among the animals, although that didn't stop the other beings to evolve and improve their own arsenal.

New breeds like the Kikachu insects used by the Aburame clan easily defeat any unsuspecting ninja and prove to be deadly creatures. Animal Summons also started to appear, proving that there is intellect among races different from Humanity.

But intellect comes at a high risk. Deceit and lies root beneath even the noblest intellectuals hoping to gain fame and achievement and become well known. Civilizations clash and the ethics of morality get challenged at every possible angle.

Humans have always been susceptible with these yet how come the sentient animals, especially the summons, don't experience the same problems as much as humanity does?

Instinct

That is the simple answer. Human have a more primal state when they didn't all their advantages of their weaponry and Jutsu, yet as they start to find out about these they start to become more and more 'civilized' and while this isn't a negative occurrence it does remove their more animalistic calls and connections to Nature. The Animals have no need of democracy, reputation among them isn't as important as who was the strongest. Who was the Alpha, who can lead, who was the leader. They have no interests in overruling someone stronger; they have no need of deceit and lies among their kind.

There can never be true peace among mankind as long as the aura of jealousy, pride and arrogance run rampant. Peace can be created but it is simply an illusion. Without war peace can never exist, yet without peace war would never emerge.

People in peace will remain looking for warfare, and people in war would seek peace to end the suffering and torment.

The Vanguards knew this. They knew that no matter how many idealists stand up and spread their knowledge there is an equal antithesis that will stand to cause torment and harm challenging that idealist. Eventually two factions will clash yet fight toward peace in the end before the cycle starts again giving only a small reprieve.

Vanguards had always been thought not to fight for and against peace or warfare unless it will destroy all the life they are tasked to protect. No Vanguard shall fight for an army unless their enemy seeks to destroy everything alive or disrupt and endanger the flow of Mana. They are allowed to protect the innocents and parties outside of those fighting. They are also allowed to protect the children and heal all the injured from any side should they seek help. But in return no one must try to attack areas under their protection or fight in their domains. People being healed will not be segregated by faction and must avoid combat while under their care or risk the wrath of the Vanguards in charge of healing them.

They held the respect of everyone and are known to help act as neutral observers and teachers. They held no bias and had been drilled with discipline and respect. Having a person become a Vanguard had always been a big deal among villages and families, as their sons or daughters take the titles of 'The Watchers of Life' among other things.

In all recorded History no one has ever dared engage any Vanguards save for two factions. To place it mildly, both factions never lasted a weak and end up getting humbled and humiliated. The Vanguards are not corrupt, for they cannot afford to be. They don't accept offering of riches and glory as they have all the popularity they need. No earthly riches or gifts can compare to their loyalty to protect the essence of Mana. From their first encounter of the stream, they recognize the gravity of their duty and how important it is for them to keep the streams alive.

In a way, this is also the reason why the Sage of the Six Paths had so much trouble spreading his own ideals to the world. Some parts were never truly converted to Chakra and had simply threatened the Sage to get out of their lands before they kill him on site.

His main believers were those among the elemental countries, which is why he made sure that they were isolated and trained in the art of Chakra. Others may have thought that he was simply resting before he fought against the Juubi, but in reality, he had been trying to convince the people outside the elemental Continents about his view of the world. Others may have been swayed eventually, especially their younger generations, but there are still those who remember the old protectors of life. The Kingdoms and Empires may have eventually hidden records of Mana till they were forgotten but they have never truly believed in the Sage. The world may be changing and the Kingdoms and Empires may have forgotten like the elemental continents, but there were still legends and myths foretold by bards and the ruins long past their prime recalling the age when Vanguards roamed the earth keeping it from slowly descending into ruin.

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(Courtyard of Spirits – Concentration Point)

It's been two weeks since Kurama changed the training of the Vanguards-in-training. Four weeks since Naruto's clan removed him from their sights and started their training.

Prior to the two weeks, Naruto and Kiba were trained to recognize and feel the flow of Mana. They were both introduced to the gravity and how endless flowing energy felt, and they were trained to use them to attack and defend.

The first week focused on control and execution. They were given a basic spell, which acted like the Clone Jutsu with minor differences such as the needed actions for creation and the time they last. At first both boys were curious as to how different this was to Chakra and Kurama simply informed them that the difference between the two won't exactly be clear enough to understand until they access the higher tier skills and spells. They were also starting some light physical exercises and were given a more detailed tour on the ruins.

In their second week, they were introduced to Kurama's main element of expertise: Fire. To start it off, Kurama showed unbelievable fire spells and the power behind all of them would defeat any fire ninjutsu expert any day. After a few days it was obvious that Kiba had trouble with fire and Naruto was still too slow in gathering Mana. True they made progress but neither of them had the capacity to become an adept to flames like Kurama is. He also introduced them to the other elements but had specifically gave them instructions to never practice those yet without his supervision as he wasn't an expert in them as much as he was to fire.

For the third week Naruto and Kiba were given a more in depth history of Vanguards, much to their dismay. Although their reluctance was easily replaced with wonder as they learn some of the exploits that the Vanguards had done. Some of them lacked details but that's because Kurama hadn't been present in those. They've also started incorporating challenging exercises to improve their overall physique and fitness. There wouldn't be a day where they ended up breathing hard and have exhausted muscles. They were also starting to learn how to start the Mana streams needed to "open up the skies once again," so to speak. Akamaru had also started trying to call out his own water spells, which weren't that strong… yet.

The fourth week was the start of the other elements. Naruto was given a couple of Wind elemental spells while Kiba was given Electricity. The results were simply outstanding. Naruto was a natural with Wind as was Kiba with his own element. Unfortunately Kurama isn't exactly the best in using those elements so both of them can only access second tier spells before they might potentially hurt themselves with the other tiers. Kurama can only help and guarantee a safe training with fire elemental spells, the rest would be rather difficult and Kurama does not want them to injure themselves severely injure themselves in their current location. It was also during the fourth week that they removed their training gloves. While their casting speed was obviously slowed, they managed to regain some of their speed back to an acceptable level (by Kurama's terms anyways).

So far Kurama was pretty sure that they can easily defeat Genins but possibly have a difficult time with decent level Chunins due to experience. Jonins can still easily defeat Naruto and Kiba but Kurama intends to make them capable of at least stalling them for a long time before the end of next month.

But for now Kurama finally decided to allow them to have their own staves which every Vanguard had back in the old days. Now the staves are very important to the Vanguards. Each stave is different, as they represent their wielder. Staves may have very close similarities, especially with Vanguards who are related to each other, like mother and daughters, or close friends with the same personalities.

Getting back on track, the staves basically increases the capability of the Vanguards to attract Mana and pull it towards their position. Only the strongest Vanguards can create and repair the streams without the Staves. Staves also amplify the powers of a Vanguard doubling their spell power and lessen the strain to the users Stamina. While Mana will eventually be endless (because for now it slowly starts to decrease) a person's stamina isn't.

Which leads us to one of the main differences between Mana and Chakra, Mana for all intents and purposes can continually be used by the user as long as they have the energy while Chakra is limited and it also takes a toll on the users' stamina, though not as much as Mana does.

"Naruto, Kiba come here." Kurama called out with his deeper and more powerful voice. His charges were doing separate things in different areas in the ruins so he had to use his power-laced voice to get their attention.

His voice resonated all over the ruins and was easily heard by the two trainees. The first one who heard it was Kiba who black hair flattened over his head, instead of its usual spiky appearance, due to perspiration. He stretched his drenched body and picked up a tattered black shirt which was what remained of his old upper attire. His beanie hat had long been stored in a pocket dimension, courtesy of Kurama.

"C'mon boy, Sensei's calling." He told his partner Akamaru who had grown a bit since he first met Kiba by an inch or two and his Azure fur gaining a slightly darker shade.

His faithful partner barked happily and jumped out a small pond he had been standing on before heading towards Kurama's current location.

"Hey wait up!" Kiba yelled as he ran after Akamaru, completely disregarding the fact that he was currently shirtless showing a pretty impressive build for a seven year old. The muscles aren't as evident as they would be to an adolescent teenager but impressive nonetheless. Kurama knew that trying to build too much muscle at this early of an age could potentially stunt their growth so he had focused on their stamina (which both had plenty of) instead of power building, which will be done when they grew older to avoid any potential problems.

The next person to hear it was none other than Naruto, the former clan member of the Uzumaki. After four weeks the final lingering sadness that had remained were removed. Naruto may have lost any respect that he could have felt towards the clan, be he didn't hate them outright. Oh he won't forgive them, but he'll more or less tolerate the clan. After all he was finally free to do whatever he wanted so he doesn't really feel any need to be accepted back.

Unlike Kiba who had been training his physical prowess, Naruto was lying down under a crystal tree; numerous Crystal birds surrounded him and looked like he was relaxing to the casual observer. But he was far from relaxing. After all, where did the wind come from? Sure the occasional breeze would travel in the ruins but there hasn't been any strong force of wind present like they had been when the ruins weren't underground.

Naruto opened his eyes and stood up before shaking off certain parts of his body due to the time of inactivity with them. The birds all flew away chirping different melodies as they scattered in the ruins.

He yawned for a bit before grinning and ran to Kurama's direction. His speed was pretty impressive due to the wind that he uses as each step pushed a concentrated amount of wind allowing him to accelerate and maneuver over obstacle rather easily.

When he arrived he saw a panting Kiba sitting down on a pillar that had fallen a long time ago while Akamaru was sitting down beside him with his Azure and white tipped tail waving back and forth happily.

"Glad to see you arrived kid" Kurama said, with a more Humanlike voice. "Go with Kiba and I'll explain why I called you two here."

Naruto merely nodded and glided towards Kiba like his feet never touched the ground. Kiba muttered a low 'show-off' that only Naruto heard before blowing him a raspberry. Kiba merely rolled his eyes.

"Ok, enough and pay attention up-front." Ordered Kurama

Kurama then summoned metal red stave in a swarm of fire. He twirled it around for a bit like a bo-staff revealing its versatility and the red ruby magically floating at the tip of the stave. He slammed the butt end on the ground making a red circle appear just below it and conjuring nine tails from the sides of the magical circle completely made out of pure red energy. He slammed it again breaking the circle and the tails like broken glass, scattering glass like shards of red energy. As soon as the shards scattered they all started to gather around the gem before nine smaller segmented tails form with a golden ring just below the ruby. They kept getting longer as they reached just about an inch or two away from the ground. Kurama exhaled deeply as he stared at the two boys with a powerful aura.

"Do you remember what this is?" He asked them. When they made a positive answer he smiled and continued talking. "As you remember this is a stave. All Vanguards have them, and Keepers, such as me, can create our own should we wish it. As I have told you staves increase the power of spells casted by those who use them, they may also act as a weapon but they're not as effective as the ones designed for close combat.

They will also be crucial in the maintenance and restoration of the Mana pathways by making it easier to attract Mana from the source, which is only limited to this one, as you can see. I have already seen that you can start the streams, but it takes a while and staves will help you there."

Kiba and Naruto kept listening though they were both wondering what Kurama will end this with.

"Now you're probably wondering why I reminded you two. Well, as I've observed this Concentration point, I've thought for a while and had decided that your levels are decent enough to start restoring the pathways, and to do that both of you will need staves of your own."

Kiba and Naruto both jumped up excitedly. "You mean?"

Kurama smirked ferally. "Of course, you'll get your own personal staves, and you'll finally be able to leave this village."

"Yes!" They shouted together as they gave each other a High five. Akamaru understood as well and yipped happily with his tail wagging faster and faster in happiness.

Both of them were told that they'd get to explore and were very, very excited about it. Neither of them has ever left the village walls for more than a few meters and this would be like a once in a lifetime experience for them. Well, they would have continued celebrating until two simple wooden rods sailed towards them at high speeds and nailed them in the chest.

Both of them groaned in pain before glaring at Kurama who was placing a foxy innocent smile. Akamaru was laughing, well as much as a dog shows laughter, and was rolling on the stone floor.

"Now-" he continued all to happily as if he didn't do anything wrong "-get those two rods and channel Mana from your body to it. Remember it has to be from your ENTIRE body got it?"

The two grumbled before making an affirmative nod each. They stood up and went to different spots just in front of Kurama and the Concentration of Mana behind him. They closed their eyes as they felt the embrace of the Energy that kept everything alive surround their entire body. They opened their eyes which glowed with power, Naruto with light green and Kiba with an electrical blue, and held the wooden rods in front of them. Without any hesitation both slammed their rods on the ground just as Kurama had done with his fiery stave earlier. To no one's surprise the entire dome filled with power radiating from the two kids, each of them feeling something different as their staff started to form.

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(Naruto's World)

Naruto felt like he was in the center of a typhoon. Wind swirled around him producing a light green show of bright light swirling uncontrollably. His vision blurred as the ruins disappeared from his view and floor gave away like a million pieces of jig-saw puzzles. In its place was a swirling whirlpool, but the difference was that instead of the cool and ravenous waters were the intense heat of flowing magma. The winds around him started to form shapes as he was suddenly encircled by green birds, each producing wild and uncontrollable winds. There where millions of them, he couldn't count them all through their sheer speed and number.

Behold…

Came a whispering voice that resonated all over Naruto's world.

Behold the wielder of the skies-

The birds suddenly flew faster and a funnel of wind surrounded the staff the he held.

-and the King of fire…

The whirlpool of magma slowly start to climb up the rod as Naruto was forced to let go of it as a force pulled it just in front of Naruto.

Wield us with your might and bring back the safety of Mana to our lands…

A bright light shone from the rod… no stave, as the firestorm of magma and winds collide creating a storm of energy clashing with power. Naruto was forced to cover his eyes with an arm as the power of the elements form the stave which he will use to restore the flow of Mana to the world. When everything cleared a metallic stave rested in Naruto outstretched hand. The design of the stave's body was simply magnificent. The color of light green and clashed as if it was containing an eternal firestorm powered by the tornadoes of the sky. There wasn't a single gem on the tip but rather, there were two gems levitating on top of the tip. They weren't shaped like gems though, it's more like the emerald and the Ruby were forming a wisp of flame neither gem touched each other at the top but they were combined at the bottom as if they were lit from the same source. The stave wasn't done there. Like Kurama had done, Naruto wondered what would happen if he slammed the red rimmed bottom on the floor and low and behold feathered white wings emerged from the stave as a ring of fire circled the two gems. The white wings seemed to extend as each small flap gathered visible winds and wisps of fire, and even if he didn't notice an image of a phoenix emerged behind him before dissipating in the winds.

Welcome wielder, the winds and flames are your to command. Use us wisely and let us help you restore our world…

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(Kiba's World)

At the same time as Naruto's stave started to form Kiba's own rod started to choose its own.

Kiba felt energized yet he couldn't move and burn out the energy. His whole body was the center of an orb of electricity that danced along his flesh and ran along his own rod. The rod itself was glowing with power filled with the destructive force of lightning. But that wasn't all. Like his surrogate little brother the ruins disappeared from Kiba's world as he was suddenly surrounded by fauna of different kinds, trees as tall as the highest mountains grew quickly like someone had increased the flow of time, wild grass flowing harshly under the stormy lightning storm that seemed to never end.

The rod detached itself from Kiba's hands as the storms grew stronger and Nature itself come alive around him, before a strong and firm voice spoke with the tone of a Royal Member

Beware the strength of Electricity Lightning and Thunder!

The storm grew stronger as forks of lightning came down the rod as it acted like a lightning rod (AN: I thought I made a pun!) and electricity flew wildly around it as if an infinite amount of charges blew up and the stream of power never scattered.

Just as it was as its peak a richer and melodious voice came, but still contained the tone of a Royal which demanded respect

Hold on to the path of Nature and the Wild…

The plants stopped growing yet leaves, twigs, earth, and the plants seemed to shrink quickly and flow around the stave like the tornado of Naruto's own. The leaves formed patterns imitating animals running wild and rampant with no one to stop or control them. He can hear the screeches and roars, the howls and the growls, and finally he heard the two voices join as one in speaking their last phrases

Wield us with power young one, we allow you into our domain

Do not waste it and do not falter in your journey

And restore the essence of life to our WORLD!

The voices stopped as the elements created one final blast of sound making Kiba's wolf ears ring and deaf for a few short lapses of time.

He opened his eyes, which he shut when the light became too bright, and gazed up the floating scepter that approached his outstretched hands. The rod itself was still wood, but it felt stronger than any metal forged by man's hand and arched with electricity every time his hands moved so much as a finger. Unlike his mentor and surrogate brother's staves, his own lacked the gems the sat up the tip of their bodies. In their place was the tip of a spear serrated with the blades of Lightning, Vines wrapped around the blade as each movement he makes leaves a trail of shards, which upon closer inspection, seemed like gems before they disintegrate into sparks.

Like Naruto he slammed his stave to the ground once more and a clap of thunder echoed as lightning and Earth appeared at the very tip of the blade before a transparent crystal emerged and encompassed the entire blade. The vies grew longer extending to the main body of the stave as they transformed into roots and slowly reach out loosely to were his hands held the stave. His hair became wilder as well with his mind connecting to his animalistic instincts as he let out a resounding growl.

Stay strong young one, we shall guide your hand and be reunited with the worlds life. Remain courageous and powerful wielder…

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(Courtyard of Spirits)

Kurama looked nostalgic before he closed his eyes and turned around quickly facing the concentration of Mana and raised his staff which came to life with fire swirling around him. More specifically, foxfire.

He didn't need to know if they succeeded or not, he had trained them to a point where they cannot fail and he raised the staff higher. His eyes burned with a passion long gone as the majestic image of a nine tailed fox appeared behind him, very different from the wild and malicious form he had been forced to trap himself in, and howled into the night.

"NOW!" He shouted at the two boys, his eyes never leaving the Concentration "Imagine the path to open! The time for restoration has Begun!"

The two boys wasted no time as the elements came alive around them. The Swirling Mass Energy that has remained stationary and stagnant started to swirl quickly. Faster. Faster. Faster!

Its speed and power resembled the orb of power that the Yondame Hokage created only more majestic and more powerful. Three Bulges from different sides emerged and started to create a longer line.

Decades of disuse caused it to rift and resist the pull of the three casters yet none of them gave in. Sweat ran on their foreheads as they focused their powers to restart the slowly degrading system.

"DON'T GIVE IN!" Kurama shouted, years had they failed yet now is the time for a new era, an era where the world desperately need its lifeblood moving before it destroys itself. "I'VE TRAINED YOU TWO FOR THIS MOMENT TO START! I WILL NOT FAIL ANOTHER GENERATION! ROUUAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGG GGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH"

An explosion, and then… silence… before the bulge returned to the sphere and reappeared faster and stronger separating into three separate states. Pulses of power appeared as they scatter along the ruins like wires that live.

The beasts howled and cried and the skies above the world created storms and rained its tears of happiness as they feel the thirst for life connect and reappear.

With that Mana has awakened and no longer had to remain in this decaying environment. The Age of Mana shall be reborn and life will one more be GUARDED AND PROTECTED BY THE VANGUARDS OF THE NEW GENERATION!

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So uhh, how do you guys like it?

Tell me since I've tried to make it a little bit longer… but I'm not sure on how I've done.

Anyways here it is! Oh yeah college is starting on Monday so I won't be able to update much. But in any case tell me how you found it?