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Seven Colours (Naruto)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Planeshunter, May 29, 2020.

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  1. Threadmarks: 009 - Karin Interlude: First Impressions
    Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    009 - Karin Interlude: First Impressions
    Scary men hurt Papa and took her and Mama to some strange place, and then they took Mama away. She was lonely and scared and everyone ignored her when she cried. Mama came back after a long time, but she wasn’t smiling. She said Papa was in the hospital and she had found a job so they would live now in this village, and that Karin would go to their Academy to learn with the other kids.

    When we got to our new home, it was small and ugly, and she said so to Mama. Why couldn’t they get back to the caravan? She liked it more there, where she could feel the wind in her face and she could cuddle with Hibiki-oneechan during the night if it got cold.

    But Mama said nothing, and she first thought she was in trouble. Instead, she got a bear hug and then Mama cried, and she really felt bad about making her sad. She promised she would be very good and obedient. Mama made her promise too that she wouldn’t get into trouble with the other kids.

    When she got to school the following day, she wasn’t sure what to expect. So far she’d been taught by Mama and Papa, and sometimes Hibiki-neechan and the others, because there weren't enough kids in the caravan to make a class. Mama gave her a lot of advice about today, and made sure she memorized everything, but she didn’t feel very brave. Just talking about everything that could go wrong was very scary, even if Mama told her what to do to get out of trouble.

    When she was introduced to the rest of the kids, she had a knot in her throat and she couldn’t really say anything. There were a lot of kids all staring at her, and she didn’t know if they would want to do the mean things Mama said they might, so she just looked down and let sensei do the introduction for her.

    After sensei was done, she was told to find a desk. A quick peek around showed a girl sitting alone with a lot of free desks around. Actually, all the free desks in the classroom were around her, as if everyone tried to sit as far away from the girl as possible.

    “Um…” The girl turns to look at her, and she has to stop to swallow another knot in her throat. “Do you mind if I sit here?”

    The girl’s eyes widened a fraction, and for a moment she feared she’d upset her somehow. But in the end she smiled sharply and gestured at one of the free seats around her. “Sure, there’s room to spare.”

    After taking her place, she thought it would be cool to befriend the girl. Or at least learn her name and talk with her a bit. If she could stay with the scary girl the other kids wouldn’t pick on her. But she didn’t know what to say. Everytime she peeked the girl’s way, she got cold feet and went back to staring at her desk.

    But she couldn’t help it! Her only friend close to her age before this was Hibiki-neechan from the caravan, and they’re too different! Neechan had a warm and full face, with rosy cheeks that dimpled when she smiled, and her smile was warm and cheerful. This girl’s face was sharp and scary, and her smile was sharp and scary!

    Hibiki-neechan has a black hair and cute pigtails, this girl doesn’t seem to care about cute. Her hair is short and sharp and scary and looks real mature and Karin has no idea how to talk to her!

    She peeks her way again, and this time the girl is looking her way and catches her in the act. She immediately looks away, and there’s a moment of tense silence where she can feel the girl’s gaze boring a hole on her. Then…

    “Nice weather we’re having, Doormat-chan.”

    Everyone was calling her that afterwards. It’s like they never bothered to learn her name in the first place.
    She was a bit miffed with the girl -Shimada Ran- afterwards, but she kept by her side. While it was unnerving to remain at arm’s length of the scary girl, she’d never said or done anything mean to her, beyond giving her that horrible nickname. And at that point that was the best option because everyone else was being horribly mean to Karin.

    It was when she tried to go to the toilet and was shoved around and called names by them that she decided to never again leave the girl’s side while in school. She still did her best in class, of course, because she was a smart girl and smart girls get good grades. Even if it was hard to keep up with sensei’s lessons.

    And then it was time for sparring, and everything went wrong.

    Karin had never been a fighter. Both Papa and Mama could do really cool things and breathe fire and punch rocks and walk up trees, but when she asked about it they told her it was better if she never had to learn. Well, she had to learn now.

    At first, she tried sitting aside and watching the rest without making a fuss and watching Shimada-san fight. She was as sharp and scary while fighting as she was at any other thing. Then that horrible girl picked her to spar with.

    Haizuki-san was very strong too, even if she wasn’t as strong as Shimada-san or the boy sparring with her. But instead of defeating her quickly, she did her best to prolong the fight, hitting her in places that didn’t award points and avoiding knocking her down. To make things worse, she started saying mean things too.

    She called her names, laughed at her and ridiculed her efforts. When she started badmouthing Mama and Papa, Karin had to bite her lip and remind herself she’d promised not to get into trouble. After almost a full hour of being manhandled and ridiculed, the horrible girl made an off-hand comment about her and Shimada-san, and she snapped.

    She’s not sure why it was that comment that became the last straw. It wasn’t like the words were particularly horrible. Not worse than having her efforts and family laughed at. It’s not like she felt a particularly strong friendship for Shimada-san. In fact, she was more scared of the silent and sharp girl than anything else.

    Maybe it was just the hour-long beating and constant stream of taunts that made her answer to those words when she’d managed to keep quiet so far. In any case, Haizuki-san smirked maliciously at her words, as if she’d won something.

    “I’m sure the elders will love knowing that traitorous spawn associates with the dredges of the village.”

    Those words meant nothing to her but, somehow, she couldn’t imagine them meaning anything good.

    After getting back home, Karin spent the rest of the day studying to catch up with the other kids at school and waiting for Mama to come back home. When she finally arrived, it was very late and she looked very tired, but she still smiled at Karin and listened to her talk about her day.

    Karin was very tempted to tell her she wanted to go back to the caravan, but she still remembered how Mama cried the day before and did her best to smile instead and ask when she could visit Papa in the hospital.

    Mama cried again.
    The next day Karin was feeling apprehensive again, if for different reasons. Shimada-san was still a mystery -a scary mystery- and Haizuki-san’s cryptic parting words filled her with unease. She wasn’t stupid either so, even if she didn’t know why, she’d noticed Mama was worried about the village learning Karin wasn’t happy here.

    The day was nerve-wracking, and even Shimada-san’s few words looked like traps designed to make her say something she shouldn’t.

    Like that time she asked about her opinion on the village. Or that time she openly ridiculed the lesson. That was actually interesting, because it made a lot of sense, but it still got her into trouble.

    Then again, Shimada-san got into trouble too, so she didn’t know what to think about that.

    “I packed an extra bento. Want to share?”

    She wanted to… what?

    Surprise made her look up and hold her gaze for the first time. Shimada-san’s eyes were grey and sharp, like polished steel, ready to strike her down in an instant, but no less beautiful for it. She just stood there, transfixed by the gaze. Until she realized Shimada-san was trembling slightly and she hurried to look down again and accept her offer. Hopefully she didn’t make her angry.

    That was the first time in her life she thought something could be both beautiful and terrifying.
    On another news, she didn’t have to wait long to figure out what Haizuki-san meant with her cryptic words the previous day. Overnight, the wary distance everyone kept around Shimada-san gained a tint of hostility. The mean looks and words addressed to her yesterday were now aimed at the two of them instead, including some very rude suggestions that had Karin blushing up a storm.

    And yet, Shimada-san didn’t seem to care. Words and glares seemed to slide right off her and more overt actions.... Well. She sent one of Haizuki-san’s friends to the Nurse’s Office with a broken ankle when she tried to trip her. And there was a bear trap armed in her book bag! The girl who tried to slip a hand inside almost lost it! Even sensei was too scared to get involved!

    If she had any doubt about Shimada-san being dangerous, that ended then.

    And yet, and yet! In spite of everything, Ran never hits her, never yells at her or steals her things or even calls her mean things, after that one time. When she’s with the utterly terrifying girl, it’s only the ominous threat of her very existence she has to deal with. As scary as that is, it still beats the way everyone else is plain mean on her. So she’ll remain by her side, and watch and learn.

    She would survive. She wasn't powerful and brave like the Uzu-nin from Mama's stories, but she was a smart girl, Mama says so. And she’d find a way to keep her promises.
    Shorter than I’d like, and doesn’t do as good a job as I hoped showing things from another light, but it’ll have to do. It was taking forever and going nowhere, so I had to cut off the parts that were giving me the most trouble.
     
  2. One-who-reads

    One-who-reads Illuminatus

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    I'm really hoping things come to a head and Ran ends up putting half the class in the hospital. :D
     
  3. Jeff Roy

    Jeff Roy Not too Sora, are you?

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    It's like the foreshadowing is VantaBlack.
    MC is prolly gonna be accused of this and that, all while she remains blissfully oblivious about the rumors. Then something is gonna spark the gas, MC is gonna be attacked by ninjas from her hometown, she is gonna think it is some strange Grass Village training and hazing session, she then beats every every Grass ninja, somehow becomes the Grass Kage. All while remaining oblivious as to what really is happening.
     
  4. Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    Obviously, I can't comment on any of this without spoiling my own story, but love seeing you guys trying to figure out the plot.
     
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  5. LurkingInTheDeceit

    LurkingInTheDeceit “Brave” Explorer treading “new” land

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    I dub thee Remora-chan.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2020
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  6. Threadmarks: 010 - An eye for an eye
    Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    Once upon a time, Steam had a sale on a package of Neptunia games. Thinking I really should know such a classic as something more than ‘oh, yeah, that’s a classic’. I grabbed it. Unfortunately, it didn’t do much for me, so it only saw about ten hours of play time back then.

    But the other day I decided to give it another go and hoo boy! Once you realize you can skip all the repetitive combat animations the game improves a lot. My only problem now is finding time for other things…


    010 - An eye for an eye (You’re doing it wrong)

    “Hey, Deadeyes!” Mook #whatever calls from right behind me. “I hear your mom w—”

    And then she didn’t call anyone anything else, because she was too busy getting up from the floor, and stemming the bleeding from her nose. My fist might’ve been involved.

    I let out a sigh. It’s been a couple of weeks, and things have kept escalating. Slowly, because even if they don’t look the part, the children aspiring to become killing machines aren’t actually stupid, but they’re getting more daring. In a way, that might be a good thing.

    Sometimes I wish they tried something with an actual chance of working, that they pushed me beyond the breaking point. That would at least make things interesting. Because this ‘campaign’ isn’t making me feel miserable or sad, or even pressured, really. I only grow weary and bored with their shit. Looking at it from this angle, this year has been nothing but trouble.

    On the other hand, Karin. That’s a hell of a counterargument. Now if only I could manage to get something else than ‘Mama wants me to go straight home after school’ out of her, that would be grand. I’ve walked her home everyday, but so far I’ve had no luck meeting her mysterious mother.

    … Maybe I could visit during the weekend? I toyed with that idea last week, but I’ve been busy catching up with my tutors. Obaa-san still has me practicing with the brush most of the time, but the assigned strokes have grown remarkably complex after my vacation. It feels good to have to actually try, but it’s still a horrible time sink.

    Onee-chan on the other hand has decided I’m responsible enough to start mixing things for real. Heh, to think it only took f—

    My train of thought gets interrupted once we arrive at the classroom and I see what’s waiting for us there.

    At first, I stare in incomprehension at the flower vase sitting on Karin’s table. Then, a faraway memory clicks, just a bit of trivia from another life, about funerary rites in a faraway country and how they might be applied to bullying(1).

    My first impulse is to laugh it off. And I don’t mean acting like it didn’t matter, no. I mean laughing my ass off at the stupid idea, possibly ridicule the idiot who came up with it and question their intelligence as I cackle madly. But then I notice Karin’s eyes tearing up, and instead take her hand and guide her to our seats.

    There, I move the vase to my own desk and help her sit before taking a seat myself. Deep breath, I don’t know why this affected her so much, but I can at least make light of the situation, right? With the swiftness that comes from long hours practicing hand seals, I weave the flowers into a tiara that’s promptly put on my head. Then I pocket the vase.

    … What? It’s a stained glass vase of suspiciously high quality. I have no idea why it was used for this, but I suspect someone is going to answer uncomfortable questions about family heirlooms disappearing from the dining room.

    Back to what matters, Karin isn’t laughing at my antics, but she doesn’t seem to be at the verge of tears anymore and I’ll count that as a win. Now the question is what is it that I’ve missed to get her this upset. Actually, how to go about figuring it out without acting like an insensitive berk is the real question.

    “So, are you going to tell me what’s wrong?” … Smooth, brain. You come up with the best lines.

    Karin turns away from me, staring into her desk as she’s done so often before. “Papa died last night.” Four words, spoken so softly a normal person wouldn’t have heard them, a blink and even I would’ve missed them, and yet...

    “Karin.” Those four words have drained all the cheer from my mood.

    “Y… yes?” She looks back up at my words, feeling a seriousness in my tone that I’ve never used before. But the situation well deserves it.

    “I’m going to hug you now, okay?”

    “Eh?”

    “Hey doormat-chan!” Unfortunately, we’re interrupted by Mook #whocares. “I heard someone died! One less mouth to mooch off the village’s goodwill, if you ask me!”

    I see red.

    (1) In Japan, when a student dies, it’s customary to leave a flowerpot on their desk. This has been used as part of bullying campaigns in the past, puting the vase on the desk of the victim, as a sort of ‘wish you were dead’ or ‘you’re dead to us’... etc. You get the idea.


    As it was somewhat inevitable, my shenanigans landed me in the Principal’s office. At least Karin didn’t get dragged into my trouble. Which is good. Because the Academy is mainly manned by chunin rejects who couldn’t aspire to anything else, but… The Principal is a bit different.

    At first glance, the man is just old and smarmy-looking, with the sort of presence that’s easy to dismiss. Don’t let that deceive you though, he served as shinobi before retiring to a cozy desk job, like everyone who is someone in this village did. A condecorated career in the T&I division, to be precise. The sort of guy that’ll figure out whether or not you need interrogation just by how you look around, and will pull the intel out of you using just a rubber duck and a basket of figs.

    His clan was decimated during the Third War -that’s what finally made Grass stop fence-sitting and assist Konoha, by the way- and years later Zetsu kinda hors d'oeuvred most of the survivors before deserting. And now that I mention it, I wonder if there was something more to those apparently unconnected events. Like for example Danzo. While in doubt, always blame Danzo.

    But I digress. Case is he comes from a once powerful family and is respected enough by the village at large. He might command little political power nowadays, but more than enough to cling to his position in the Academy like a limpet in spite of any maneuver to remove him from here. The fact that most young-to-middle-aged shinobi in the village grew up with him as an authority figure to respect kinda helps with that. Especially because few shinobi actually survive long enough to grow old.

    Why do I know so much about the Principal when I care so little about people? Because, in spite of popular opinion, I can think ahead. A person with my social skills in an environment full of teenagers trained for war? It was never a question of whether I’d end up here or not, just a
    matter of when.

    Anyway, here I am, standing in front of his desk and trying very hard not to show how uncomfortable this situation makes me feel. There’s a chair I could’ve sat on, an awfully short and uncomfortable-looking chair that screams ‘power play’. Or maybe plan ‘mindfuckery’, you can never be sure with his type. In any case, I’d rather stand, thank you ver much.

    Behind me, and close enough I can almost feel his breath at my nape, stands some vaguely random chunin that may or may not be part of the Academy student body.

    Yeah… Narutaki-sensei still has a class to teach, so he asked this guy to escort me to the Principal’s office. No idea why he’s still here though, pretty sure the Principal doesn’t need an escort to deal with rowdy kids, prodigious or not. Maybe it’s just more mindfuckery. Well, not just mindfuckery. Twenty grand says he’ll shiv the fuck out of my liver if I even hint at moving funny.

    It’s been a good fifteen minutes since I was dragged here and the Principal received a rather biased explanation of the incident. Instead of chewing my head off like decent, upfront figures of authority do, he just told us to wait and focused back on his paperwork.

    Seriously, this guy’s mindfuckery is the real deal. A quarter of an hour standing here, with a man who can kill me in the blink of an eye standing right behind, while being pointedly ignored by the guy who maybe doesn’t have the authority to order me killed but sure is savvy enough to get away with it anyway. I’ve felt the tension mounting with every tick and tack of the clock. Sweet Akasha, I would kill for a distraction about now.

    “With all due respect, sir.” The chunin finally cracks, as if answering my prayers. “I already explained the situation, shouldn’t we be talking about disciplinary measures? What are we waiting for?”

    “That would be me you’re waiting for.”

    I freeze. My brain freezes. My mind freezes and my soul freezes. Because that’s Mother’s voice and she sounds unamused.

    “Ah, Shimada-dono,” The smarmy Principal greets uneasily, clearly unhappy about having to do this. “Do you know why you were called here?”

    “Not yet, but I hope someone will explain in the next five seconds why I had to leave my home in a hurry to attend, and I quote ‘A most pressing incident involving your daughter’.”

    “Most pressing incident indeed.” The man behind me growls. “Your daughter attacked another student unprovoked, in front of the whole class. We still haven’t heard anything approaching an explanation from her. Or any hint of regret, while we’re at it.”

    “And why should I bother?” I shoot back. These thinly veiled attempts at railroading me are starting to get annoying. “It would be my word against the whole class. Why don’t you look underneath the underneath like a good shinobi is supposed to do, and stop justifying your heavy-handed incompetence on obviously biased reports?”

    Mother arches a brow at my choice of words, and I have to suppress a wince. ‘Look underneath the underneath’ is a favorite quote of a certain Leaf shinobi, one Mother might’ve dealt with personally but I sure as hell haven’t. She doesn’t say anything though, focusing back on the Principal. Crisis averted. I’ll think about this again never. Thank you very much.

    “I think that’ll be detention for the remainder of the semester, Simada-kun.” He announces, before pausing for a moment to eye Mother with an indecipherable expression. “Plus any measure Shimada-dono deems appropriate.”

    I… feel strangely okay with this verdict? I mean, fair is fair and I’m the first to agree that actions should have consequences. I lost my cool and did something someone will regret, so it would feel wrong to just walk away unscathed. You could say the punishment is even in my favor, depending on what Mother ‘deems appropriate’.

    Sure, I lost pretty much any personal freedom for the foreseeable future with that punishment. Sure, training sessions at home will probably become something gruesome. But the idiot who so unpleasantly laughed at Karin’s plight will be wearing an eyepatch the rest of her life.

    You don’t mess with my friends, bitch.

    “That’s all?” The chunin jumps in indignation. “Detention and a slap in the wrist? Excuse me sir, but that’s bullshit.”

    “Oh?” Mother’s tone is calm, dangerously calm. Like ten tons of snow in a precarious balance on a mountainside are calm. “Do you believe you can discipline my daughter better than myself?”

    “Well, I sure wouldn’t leave it at that! How would you feel if I gouged your daughter's eyes out right here, right now, ma’am?” I start to wonder how this person managed to earn the chunin rank. Maybe he’s trying some kind of backwards psychology on us, but I’ll put money on him just being a suicidal idiot.

    The Principal winces, Mother arches a brow, I blink in disbelief. Then there’s a popping sound and, for a second, we all stare dumbly at Mother, who is now holding an eyeball on her hand. As she crushes it with a fist, the suicidal idiot finally catches on what just happened and has barely enough time to take a hand to his now empty eyeshocket before collapsing with a howl of pain.

    … Wow. Was that [Substitution Jutsu]?

    “You threaten a Shimada child in front of her mother and expect to leave unscathed?” Mother asks with the calm voice of one so far past rage it comes right out the other side. “That was a warning, you’ll do well in remembering I can do way worse.”

    “Mother?” I whisper while the idiot rushes out the room, presumably towards the Nurse’s Office. “Wasn’t that Great-Grandfather’s jutsu?”

    “Shimada Forbidden Scroll, you’ll learn when you’re older” She whispers back. Then she turns toward the Principal. “Principal? I believe we’re done here.”

    “Yes, yes, of course.” The man looks a bit green. For such a seasoned T&I veteran to be so badly shaken… As expected of Mother. “It’s been a pleasure to meet you again, Shimada-dono.”

    “I loathe to tell others how to do their job, but...” She fixes her glasses with a hand, holding the door open so I can leave first. “Is that really the best the Academy can afford?”

    “Please forgive him, he’s usually more level-headed than that. But the wounded girl is her niece, he didn’t take her injury well.”

    Guh. Everyone has loved ones somewhere don’t they? Even the bastards trying to make our lives hell love and are loved by other people. No matter the circumstances, you’ll always be the villain in someone else’s story.

    Well, shit. Now I feel like a jerk.

    … Still ripping her other eye if she tries again, tho.


    So… like mother like daughter, I guess? I’m really hoping the things I don’t say are hinting at the thing I want them to hint at, if that makes any sense. But if you think something doesn’t make sense, please let me know. I’ll at least be able to tell you whether that’s intentional or just me messing up.

     
  7. App E

    App E Know what you're doing yet?

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    I feel like I'll be able to figure out what the hints are for as soon as they actually happen. While I'm definitely not confused, I'm not quite sure what's being hinted at yet, unless it's mom figuring it out, which... duh.
     
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  8. One-who-reads

    One-who-reads Illuminatus

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    I'm getting a Kill Bill vibe. Plucking out people's eyes for insults Pai Mei style, an exploding heart technique, she's going to kill a bandit named Buck, who is there to [party], next?

    Also, I'm pretty sure "looking underneath the underneath" is a shorthand bastardization of a quote from either the first or second Hokage that Kakashi repeats to Naruto.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2020
  9. preier

    preier Not too sore, are you?

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    I'm really, really, on the edge of my seat for the explanation on why so many people have decided that what the village needs is a nice violent conflagration with the shimada remnants.

    though the 'kidnap families and forcibly enroll their child with the subtlety and skill of an elephant undergoing must' tends to point to a Danzo like internal reorientation. Those usually are very adept at creating nemesis and problems out of potential friends and allies.
     
  10. LurkingInTheDeceit

    LurkingInTheDeceit “Brave” Explorer treading “new” land

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    I kinda suck at identifying foreshadowing unless it hits me over the head, plus foreshadowing could be a lot of different things:

    Remora-chan becoming closer to the MC? The MC learning from the family forbidden scroll? The village going after the MC in place of her Mother? The Principal using her ‘underneath the underneath’ slip against either of them/reporting it to the higher ups? The vase indicating the girls clan planning the incident, which the biased chunin could also hint at... maybe it was all a set up, maybe the principal was involved, maybe even Mother :eek:

    My point being I don’t really know. But this chapter was good, especially loved how protective the MC was and in turn how protective Mother was. Kinda highlights their indifference to their village ties too, basically treating them as strangers and then enemies as soon as they threatened something they cared about.
     
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  11. Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    Good enough for me, thanks. To be honest some of the hints might end up being nothing. I have the bad habit of setting up things just in case and never finding the chance to actually use them later on.

    Good to know. I was aware Kakashi might be quoting someone else, but it doesn't really affect the situation. Ran is just worried about using a peculiar turn of phrase that might easily be associated to people she has no business knowing. Having to explain that to Mother isn't a fun prospect.

    The idea is fairly good on paper, actually. It's worked well enough for other cases but, like it so often happens in a good story, things are a bit more complex when it comes to the main characters. If I don't find a way to get into detail in-story during the Academy Arc, I might make a small aside once we're done with it to explain the idea.

    And yet, you've managed to brighten my day. Speculation! Wild guessing! Endearment! This is exactly the sort of answer I was aiming for with this chapter. I think I'll cry manly tears of happines for a bit now.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2020
  12. Creed

    Creed Making the rounds.

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    You double posted this just so you know.

    The village treating one of their most dangerous clans (the shimada) like this makes me think of the phrase "Too dumb to live" because what they're doing right now is a great way to turn them rogue or worse*cough*Itachi*cough*. I just hope the mom is not involved with it, though I won't count out the possibility that she is and that this is just a giant test for the MC....which would suck, but would also depressingly enough be something that could happen.
     
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  13. One-who-reads

    One-who-reads Illuminatus

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    I was just pointing out that she could have heard the quote from any number of places, since it's a famous quote of a super famous shinobi, Occam's Razor would indicate she probably heard it due to that, not from having met Kakashi.

    Besides, one of the things that makes the Shimada family so charming is that no-one ever confronts anyone over anything. Interpersonal interaction between Ran and her mom makes me think of Xanatos Speed Chess.
     
  14. Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    Thanks for the heads up, fixed now.

    Yessssss... Keep speculating, keep guessing! That's my lifeblood!! *Awkard cough* Just remember that Ran simply doesn't know enough to form an accurate picture of the situation. Add to it her penchant for misunderstanding social cues and, well... unreliable narrator

    I had never looked at it that way, but it certainly fits.
     
  15. Threadmarks: 011 - Facing the aftermath
    Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    Fun fact! For the first and only time so far, I have a script for this story. Or maybe I should say I already wrote it once, in a much more simplified fashion, and what I’m writing now is the extended version. In any case, this whole chapter was a single line in the original script. Funny how things get out of hand sometimes, eh?


    011 - Facing the aftermath (and being kinda ok with it?)

    “I’m sorry!!”

    I blink in surprise at the girl bowing and apologizing in front of me. Karin has been specially quiet all day today, something I was more than happy to indulge her in, considering she just lost her father. So, once I returned from the meeting with the Principal, I made sure to give her some breathing space.

    I had some concerns of my own, so I somehow managed to rein the urge to just hug the sad out of her. Mother didn’t spare a word in my direction since we left the office and I might worry she’s angry at me, if not for the very hard to miss fact that she just gouged an eye out of someone as an answer to a vague threat.

    Mother is a woman of few words but, as they say, actions speak louder. Which, by the way, doesn’t mean I’m out of trouble just yet. Not looking forward to whatever is waiting for me back home, not looking forward to it at all.

    Detention might be somewhat troublesome too. What sort of punishments are the norm here? Can you believe I wasn’t punished last year? Not even once? If they just force me to study and/or train, that I can handle. If this place favors the kind of mind-numbing and pointless tasks that serve no purpose beyond making me feel miserable though, the inproductivity of it all might make drive crazy.

    Stupid Shimada blood…

    “It was my fault!” Karin continues, apparently taking my silent musings as cue to explain herself. “It’s all my fault!”

    “... wat.” Because yeah, that doesn’t actually explain anything.

    “This all started because I told Haizuki-san you were my friend!” Again, that doesn’t… oh. Sweet, sweet summer child, the world doesn’t revolve around you, you know? Sometimes things are so beyond your control that your actions can’t influence them at all. Sometimes, you’re just a convenient excuse.

    But not even I am clumsy enough to say that out loud. So, how to go about comforting her?

    “Aren’t you my friend, though?” She freezes for a second, my question obviously catching her by surprise, but in the end she nods. “Then you did nothing wrong. Ryūzetsu has had it for me since we first met, if it wasn’t our friendship, she would’ve found something different to use against me.”

    “But if you’d neve—”

    “Stop.” I cut her. No way I’m letting this turn into an emo broodfest, Karin is too precious for that shit. And we’re not even teenagers yet, so there’s no excuse. “Karin, I’m glad I befriended you. Ryūzetsu making a nuisance out of herself isn’t going to change that. The question is, do you regret being my friend?”

    She finally looks up. Her cheeks are flushed and suspiciously wet, and her eyes are puffy and red, but she manages a shaky smile and shakes her head.

    “Then nothing else matters.” I declare in my best imitation of Mother’s no-nonsense tone. “Now, I think I still owe you a hug from this morning...”

    Let me tell you guys, Karin is as cuddly and huggable as she looks. And I have more than enough time to enjoy it on the way back to her home, because she refuses to let me go, walking all the way back there with her face buried on my clothes and one of my arms around her shoulder. It’s not very conducive to conversation, but I can’t care about that because my heart is melting.

    It also gives me time to consider the situation. Somehow, it comes as no surprise that Ryūzetsu is to blame for this new development. Sweet Madoka, it’s even good news! Better a spoiled child with a grudge than a grand manipulator in the shadows. As far as I knew this morning, this could all be a plot by fucking Madara to convert me to the dark side or some suck tripe.

    I don’t hate Ryūzetsu, I don’t think I could even if I wanted to. She is quite literally a child who doesn’t know better. For what I’ve seen of the Haizuki clan, her actions are a mix of repeating what she sees back home, and putting into action idle comments of adults without realizing they’re not to be taken that seriously.

    I really wish someone called her on her bullshit though. Because, if she grows up thinking this crap is fine and she internalizes it all, she’ll become an adult I can legitimately hate.

    My thoughts are interrupted when Karin slowly gets away from me. Wha—? Oh, we have arrived. Without trading a word, I watch her fumble with her keys to open the locked door. Then, she pauses for a moment, turns to look at me, looks back at the half-open door, takes a deep breath and looks back at me, with a small smile in her lips.

    “I’ll ask Mama to let me hang out with you after class. Thankyoufortodayseeyoutomorrow!!”

    She then retreats into her home before I can muster a reply, door closing behind her faster than I can blink. Huh… Definitively counting today as a win, after all.


    For some reason, I’m finding it hard to actually step into home today. As in, I’ve spent a good five minutes standing at the door. It’s almost as if some sort of instinct warned me about it, like how I always imagined knights would feel in front of the dragon’s lair. At least the lucky bastards didn’t have their Mother waiting inside.

    Well, no sense in procrastinating. Better brave the bull and bite the bullet. Or should I say brave the boss summon and bite the kunai? Since I live in a shinobi world and bullets here are a joke and… Right, I’m digressing. With a last prayer to Din, Farore and Nayru, I take a long breath and step in.

    “I’m home.” I call, like always.

    “Welcome home.” I hear back. The ‘I’m in the kitchen and you better come straight here right now, young lady’ is kinda implied.

    Still, I have already steeled my resolve. Whatever is waiting for me, I’ll face it with the dignity of a proper Shimada. No matter what happens next, I’m ready for it. Or so I thought. Oh, how wrong I was.

    Nothing could’ve prepared me for what I found there.

    Standing at the back of the kitchen, back to the stove, frying pan in one hand and her ‘#1 Mom’ mug in the other, Mother receives me with a soft smile. No, let me rephrase that so it has the proper gravitas. Mother receives me with a soft smile.

    And… Is that omurice I’m smelling?

    “Mother?”

    “Sit down, I’m about to serve dinner.”

    I just nod and hurry to obey. The unexpected situation might have me a bit weirded out, but this certainly beats the dressing down I was expecting. So we eat in silence, Mother’s eyes on me all along, a strangely soft look on her face. I won’t say it was relaxing, because whoever relaxes around Mother doesn’t have survival instincts, but it was certainly nice.

    Before I knew it, my dish was empty. What? Omurice is still my favorite, got a problem?

    “You’ve always been a notably easy child to raise.” She finally breaks the silence. “At some point, as proud as I was of my smart child, I also was a bit disappointed at how you never seemed to need much help with anything. But I guess, with time, I grew used to not needing to.”

    I gulp. It’s easy to see where this conversation is going, the implication this time I do need the attention is pretty blatant, after all. But that’s not what has formed a knot on my throat. No, I can face the consequences of my actions with my head high. Her choice of words, on the other hand…

    “Law and rules exist to keep chaos at bay.” She continues slowly, picking her words carefully. “For a civilization to prosper, the whims of the few must be, sometimes, curtailed to safeguard the needs of the many. The status quo exists for a reason, and shouldn’t be rocked recklessly. That’s why discipline is so valued in society, it’s the quality which allows us to follow rules that aren’t strictly beneficial to us. To support the bigger picture, at the cost of our immediate comfort.”

    I agree with that, on principle. How could I not? My whole life -this one life- has been built around ignoring immediate pain to build up long term benefits, that’s what training and studying boils down to. But what was I supposed to do? Curl up and let them step all over me? All over Karin?

    “That said, the law isn’t, and simply cannot be, perfect. Exceptional situations and outliers will always challenge rules set in place to regulate everyday behaviour. And that’s without considering the ever present problem that is corruption. The lazy approach to that fact is to favor mediocrity, and force extremes to conform to rules that are a poor fit for them.” I feel my eyes widen as understanding dawns, and Mother’s smile sharpens. “Defying a set of rules that work for society as a whole, even if they don’t fit you personally, it’s something that takes courage.”

    I… I might’ve blushed a little, okay? It’s not everyday Mother heaps praise on me like this!

    “And yet, humanity is self-centered by definition. It’s all too easy to view any rule that’s inconvenient as something to be defied and forget they are there, first and foremost, so society can exist in the first place. Forgetting that is as stupid as conforming to poorly fit rules is lazy.”

    Right, I wouldn’t like to become a whiny brat thinking rules don’t apply to me.

    “Why is this or that rule in place? How does it affect me? Do I need to break it, or there’s a way to bend it in my favour? Can I get away with breaking it? And if I can’t, will trampling over the ashes of civilization be a cost worth paying? Those are all questions you should keep in mind.”

    Mother? I think your speech wandered away from morality at some point… Also, what the hell! One of the questions there isn’t even in the same league as the rest!

    “Having the discipline to follow the rules is praiseworthy, as it is to have the courage to defy them. The mark of perfection though, what would make any mother proud of her child, it’s to have the wisdom to know when to apply each.”

    Ah! There it is, the P-word again, making my heart throb and swell with joy.

    You have to understand. All through my life, Mother has always been very careful not to make me feel pressured to become something I didn’t want to be, but I have always wondered.

    Can I really make her proud, without choosing the same path she did? Pressure or not, she’s never made a secret that she’d like me following her footsteps. I know Mother better than I know anyone else, maybe better than I know myself. She’ll never straight out say she’s proud of me, the same way I’ll never straight out ask.

    No matter how much we want to, we’re simply not wired that way.

    That’s why these roundabout ways are so important to us. For all the fear we’re misreading each other, this is the closest we’ll get to speaking our hearts out. That is, assuming I’m not misreading everything, of course.

    Stupid Shimada blood.

    “That said, this business back in the Academy...” Mother’s voice drags me out of my head. I almost flinch when I parse through her words. This is when the sentence is passed, and I get condemned to hell on Earth, isn’t it?

    “Yes, Mother?”

    “... Do you want help?” My thoughts screech to a halt. That’s not… that’s not what she was supposed to say!

    At the same time, that’s exactly what she would’ve said. Not stating she’ll help, not asking whether I need it. Just… ‘Do you want help?’ Letting me know there’s an easy way out, but neither assuming I’ll need it, nor taking the decision out of my hands. That’s… so very Mother.

    The question caught me flat-footed though, so I have to stop what I’m doing to focus on my answer.

    Do I want help? The situation is getting old very fast, and I see no easy resolution at hand. But honestly, I don’t want help. I’m no Draco Malfoy to go crying to my parent’s skirt the second something doesn’t go my way. I wouldn’t like anything more than solving my own problems by myself.

    In this case, I’m tempted, so very tempted, to ask for help. Organised bullying is a nasty business and they’re involving Karin on it, so I think it’s justified to rely on Mother this one time. Yes, I shouldn't let her suffer just to appease my pride. Having found my answer, I take a deep breath and give my answer.

    “Thank you, Mother. But that won’t be necessary.”

    … I’ve never hated so much my stupid Shimada blood before.
     
  16. One-who-reads

    One-who-reads Illuminatus

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    Honestly, Ran getting nothing more than a slap on the wrist for permanently maiming a child and continuing as if nothing occurred sends a pretty heavy message even without her mother stepping in.

    The charming, heartwarming, WAFF Xanatos Speed Chess that is Shimada Family interpersonal interaction continues.

    On an unrelated note, why is this story titled "Seven Colors"?
     
  17. Harpy81

    Harpy81 I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    I would not say permanently this is Naruto after all eye transplants are a thing with even a somewhat capable medic ninja
     
  18. preier

    preier Not too sore, are you?

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    for high-level shinobi?
    It is in the domain of possibilities as seen from kakashi and Ao. on the other hand, that was also preservation (or theft) of high-value assets.

    I'm not sure it will be quite that simple for an academy student or even a chunin, even with bog standard 'material'. the village probably can't maintain a high-level (*) medic-nin service available for everyone, i don't think even the great villages do.

    * : i'm surprised at the 'somewhat capable' label, I thought that Rin was very above-average in medical capabilities. did you mean that with actual medical tools (and in an appropriate environment rather than a cave) the procedure would be trivialized?
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2020
  19. Creed

    Creed Making the rounds.

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    Kind of a shitty thing to do putting her pride above the wellbeing of karin who is supposed to be her friend. It's a bit much IMO.
     
  20. Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    Come on, this is Naruto, gouging eyes is practically a recurring joke! Eh? Eeeeh?

    ...

    ...

    Please don't hurt me.

    Seriously now, good job reading between the lines. Ran's nonchalance makes it seem like a smaller deal than it actually is.

    I'll take the chance to point out that, while transplanting is something we see often, regrowing eyes is a different matter altogether. Usually for someone to regain an eye you need somebody else to lose one in return.

    Funny you should ask that, it has to do with how it used to be a one-shot before I decided to expand on it. It's a reference to how the story will end. Back then it was a good choice, and didn't cause much trouble because it was all solved in a single update. Afterwards, well... it didn't feel right to change the title.

    Pretty sure even the most perceptive of readers won't get what I'm referencing until I drop the bomb, since I'm going out of my way to not give overt hints, but I've been surprised before.

    Yeah it is, though I might've played it up for drama a bit too much.

    I wanted to show some consequences to excessive pride because, so far, all hints at Ran's prideful nature have ended up in her favor. This situation is a mix of Ran's reluctance to ask for help and belief that she can handle the by herself. The previous paragraph was her attempt at using Karin to talk herself into it. Which failed because, deep down, she doesn't believe it'll be a problem.

    To be fair, considering what she knows of the situation, things should be bothersome, but manageable.
     
  21. preier

    preier Not too sore, are you?

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    yeah, that's the 'material' i was alluding to.
     
  22. LurkingInTheDeceit

    LurkingInTheDeceit “Brave” Explorer treading “new” land

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    Best part of the chapter x3

    That said, there’s not really a better way of telling everyone “Hey! This is my weakness right here! Hurt her to get through my stoic demeanour and impassive face!”. The eye incident might have been covered up for various reasons (fear of repercussions, embarrassment, etc...), but this very obviously displays her affection for everyone to see.

    The bait and switch with her decision at the end was kinda funny and the Mother is really endearing herself to me. For how well she states she knows Mother though, she’s almost constantly surprised by her actions and attitude, which kinda feels contradictory.

    No idea about the title, but I’m fine with waiting for it to become obvious/you to comment about it instead of hunting down the one shot. Great chapter :D
     
    gustyeagle likes this.
  23. One-who-reads

    One-who-reads Illuminatus

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    It's not a reference to there being seven colors in a rainbow and Ran being into other girls, is it?
     
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  24. Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    I'd say you're exaggerating a bit, there is a lot she reads right about her -or at least we have no proof otherwise-, it's only that her misreads create the most memorable results. Still, I'm glad you mention this!

    For, you see, I can verify with my Word of God authority that Ran stated the unbiased truth when she claimed to know Mother better than she knows anyone else. I'll even dare go a step further and say she knows Mother better than anyone else in the whole Elemental Nations.

    Now, exaggerations aside you're not wrong. There are at least two amusing deductions to make from that intel ;)

    Well, you made me spit my drink, congratulations ;)

    ... I'll remember this and look for a chance to use it in the future!
     
  25. LurkingInTheDeceit

    LurkingInTheDeceit “Brave” Explorer treading “new” land

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    I was kinda exaggerating, I more meant she has obvious blind spots in how she view Mother. It makes sense though, apart from the fact that being afraid of your parents disapproval despite its irrationality and unlikelihood is a trope old enough that you’d have to ask a historian (or maybe biologist) for its origins, she’s both felt Mother’s willingness to painfully train her into the ground and seen the lethal and debilitating effects of that disapproval on other people.

    Deductions in that WOG? Err:
    That she doesn’t understand anyone else that well, but her Shimada-ness makes Mother especially easy to understand and relate to? And no one else knows the true character of Mother like she does? (I feel like I’m just restating what you said so I’m probably not deducing what you want from that).
     
  26. Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    Well, I never claimed the deductions were hard to make :rolleyes:

    Indeed, the fact Mother is the person she knows best means she doesn't know people very well.

    On the other hand, knowing Mother as well as she does is kind of a big deal, and she'll never realize unless someone straight out points it for her.
     
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  27. gustyeagle

    gustyeagle Know what you're doing yet?

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    Really enjoying the story probably my least favorite part right here.

    That reminds me of Kaleidoscope, whenever the MC kills someone, they make sure to check to see if anyone wants the deadie's organs.
     
  28. Ivanacco1

    Ivanacco1 Renowned Degenerate

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    The mc does realize that apart from being extremely easy to kill, there is a ticking time bomb in the form of the akatsuki, kaguya and the really really strong aliens that will periodically invade the world, also if we take boruto into account konoha is razed to the ground for a second time.
    Also didnt the juubi destroy several villages including a hidden one?
     
  29. Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    Ran is mostly counting on her knowledge from canon to know where not to be at any given time. With the money she'll make from investments on the right places she could build an Endbringer ShelterTM to hopefully survive the Juubi. That plan is looking less and less likely as time goes by tho...
     
  30. Grinningmadhatter1

    Grinningmadhatter1 #OrcPrivilege

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    I mean grass seems untouched in the larger bath to plot. I mean don't touch it, and it'll work out fine at least.

    Also, who cares about Boruto?
     
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