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Seven Colours (Naruto)

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

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  1. Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    Take your like and get out of here.

    EDIT: It's sad, because some of the new gen characters were really promising, but the plot... ugh!
     
    Grimmouse197 likes this.
  2. Diver

    Diver I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    I love how, because Mother is such absolute bullshit levels of Awesome and that’s her major frame of reference, Ran is totally missing how fucking terrifying she is, even in a world that glorifies raising sociopathic child soldiers. As an 8 or 9 year old she’s doing Advanced Cryptographic Calculus Bullshit, turns taijutsu into spur of the moment death physics instead of muscle memory and secret techniques, is perfectly capable of inflicting horrific wounds on someone and going about her day (even without her plucking out an eye, her anti-theft device is a hidden bear trap), and is studying Seals and advanced chemistry/poisons at a time where most classmates are still learning basic writing and multiplication tables. And because she’s so focused in one area of observation all she sees is her not measuring up to actual Shinobi (probably Jonin) and Mother (but only Kages can measure up to Mother). I’m glad she grabbed onto Karin and is determined to be her friend because Ran needs a goddamn friend so she might be able to actually relax once in a while.
     
  3. Threadmarks: 012 - Second Year
    Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    Ugh, I feel this chapter ebnded up rather dry in spite of my efforts, but at the same time I want to be done with the Academy years in less than a hundred chapters, so I’m trying not to get into much detail. Might’ve backfired a teensy little bit.



    012 - Second Year (Bored now, next year please!)



    The next day I’m a bit apprehensive about meeting Karin. Will she be scared of me now that she’s had time to process what happened yesterday? Will she avoid me today? I mean, shinobi culture or not, to just up and maim a fellow student for an insult isn’t something you see every day.

    … And I still fail at being sorry about it. Stupid Shimada blood.

    So maybe my greetings are a bit hesitant that day, and maybe her answer is even more subdued than usual. The whole day she avoids talking, but also goes out of her way to remain close, sending nervous looks my way all the while. Is that what they mean by ‘getting mixed signals’? Not sure what to think, I tell myself she’s still grieving her father and it’s understandable that she doesn't feel like talking.

    At least the rest of the kids give me a wide berth. That’s right, fear me! For I’ve become Death, Gouger of Orbs!

    Things come to a close when the last bell rings, and Karin grabs my sleeve before I can stand up. She’s acting extra nervous and hesitant, but there’s also a glint in her eyes I can’t identify when she manages to look straight at me. Is she mad? Is she going to break up with me? Is she so afraid of my reaction she doesn’t even know how to put it? I never wanted to scare her off!!

    “Um… I told Mama about yesterday and…” And she told her to keep the hell away from the crazy murderous girl. I… I can understand. It hurts, but I can’t afford to do anything stupid now and scare her even worse, it’s my fault and mine alone tha— “And she said it’s fine to go play with you in the evenings! She’ll come pick me up at your home when she’s done for the day.”

    I… what? Couldn’t she have said that in the morning?

    “That is… um… If you’d still have me?” She fidgets nervously, but doesn’t release her grip on my clothes. “I’ll understand if you’re angry with me after all….”

    “Yes!” I might put a bit more emphasis than intended, but I refuse to blush. “Mother left on a Mission today, so it’ll be just us and my tutors, and obaa-san has me doing boring things the whole evening but now that you’re here I’m sure we can make the most out of our time and— I mean, of course I’ll have you, Karin, it’ll be my pleasure to entertain you from now on.”

    … I said I’m not blushing, saddap!

    “That’s all nice and well, Shimada, Uzumaki.” Narutaki-sensei’s voice drags me out of my self-denial world. “But I seem to remember one of you has a couple hours of detention before she can leave for the day.”

    Ugh… yeah… that. Consequences. I’m not about to renegue of them, especially when I think they’re well-deserved. Double specially when it’s the first chance to prove my resolve, and I don’t want to imagine the disappointed look Mother will send my way if I even dream of trying to weasel out of this.

    But man, does it have a horrible timing…

    “Maybe I can… stay?” Karin seems to surprise herself by interjecting, and visibly shrinks when we turn our attention to her. “It would be like extra credit? Sensei said I need to do a lot of studying to catch up with the class...”

    That’s it! Nice going, Karin! Narutaki-sensei seems hesitant to accept the proposal, so I give him my best pitiful look so he knows how important this is to me, it seems to be effective.

    After much humming and hemming, he finally takes pity on our plight and allows for Karin to stay. Or, as he puts it, he’s not going to ‘keep a young lady for devoting extra time to studying out of her own initiative’.

    Can’t believe I was angry with him about not stopping the bullying. Clearly he’s doing all he can and it’s just that nameless chunin don’t want to risk openly acting against Ryūzetsu’s family in this village. Yeah, that makes sense. Sometimes I forget how much Mother’s name covers my ass.


    Detention turns out to be a fairly subdued business. Narutaki-sensei leads us to a classroom with some other brats from different years. Sensei talks with three slightly older brats that apparently are going to be watching over us. Must be a genin team. Huh, so this is how shitty D-ranks work in Grass? Good to know.

    Narutaki leaves some theoretical work for us to go through and leaves the place, presumably to have a well deserved break. Or maybe drown his stress on alcohol. Poor guy has been looking more and more harried since the year began, no trace of the bright-eyed enthusiastic newbie he was last year.

    One of the genin lets out a whistle after spying my assignments over my shoulder. Rude… “Right, we’ve been assigned here for just two hours.” He announces. “I don’t care how hard your assignments are or how much you’ve pissed your sensei, you have until we leave to finish. I don’t want to hear any complaints if you’re not done by then!”

    His face when I finished in twenty minutes was glorious, I wish I had a camera. For a moment, he looks at his two partners, and the three of them seem to flounce about what to do with me. If I was a suspicious girl I would think the assignments weren’t intended to be finished in the allotted time.

    ...Jerks.

    In the end they declare I should self-study and that ‘you brat better don’t get up to any trouble, you hear?’. Holding back the eye roll until I’ve turned away from them takes a supreme effort of will. Then, after an hour of detention, Karin finishes her own assignments and the trio’s groan has the whole room explode in laughter.

    All in all it wasn’t a bad use of two hours. Might even miss this once I’m done with detentions.

    Then we’re finally released, and Karin throws me a nervous smile before letting me take the lead. As we walk the path home I can’t help but feel a teensy bit nervous myself. This is the first time Karin visits home. Will she find it boring? It’s quite the big place, and there are only two residents, with Mother barely being there at all. Katekyo A and B do try to fill in when they’re around and it’s appreciated, but it’s just not the same.

    How am I supposed to even introduce them? ‘Karin, this is nee-san. She teaches me how to mix poison, also has a killer pudding recipe. But she’s not really my nee-san.’ or ‘Karin, this is obaa-san. She teaches me how to blow shit up with a brush and an inkwell. But she’s not really me obaa-san’. Yeah, doesn’t sound great in my mind either.

    Distracted with that, I only realize we’re already there when Karin asks about the handseals I’m performing in front of the entrance. She makes a strange face when I explain to her I’m deactivating the anti-theft measures. I wonder why? She’s already told me she used to travel the land, and her mom is an Uzumaki, no way this is her first experience with security seals.

    A note from Katekyo A explaining she’s got some urgent business and apologising for cancelling today’s session in such a short notice has me discreetly pumping a fist where nowhere can see. This way I can show off properly without anyone getting on my case about my studies. Still, that first day Karin is almost painfully shy about visiting.

    Even I can’t miss the tells when she’s doing things like following me to the kitchen instead of staying in my room when I went to make snacks or leaving my side exactly once, to use the toilet. I don’t really mind her keeping close, but I sure hope she grows used to this place and relaxes a bit soon.

    To that effect, I shift through half-forgotten memories from a lifetime ago, scrambling to find some games Karin might enjoy playing with me. Hand-eye coordination games with ankle bones or peebles, skipping with an improvised rope or jumping around with various playground games I never thought I’d see again.

    It doesn’t work as well as I’d hope, and have to cheat -so I lose- fairly often, but I’d like to believe it’s having some effect. Good! That way, when I inevitably mess up in the future, it won’t be a death sentence to our friendship… Speaking of death sentences… that reminds me Karin hasn’t met Mother yet.

    I struggle to imagine a scenario where that goes well.


    I’ll never understand how the schoolyard food chain works. Never understood it in my first life, never understood it here. When I was alone, all it took was a handful of sharp comments and maybe reducing someone to tears with words alone for everybody to leave me alone. I was outside the chain altogether.

    But now that I’m defending Karin, they’re convinced I’ve grown soft and not even causing grievous permanent harm is enough to get them to back off for long. They act like stupid flies buzzing around a horse on a hot day, quick to disperse when confronted but equally quick to come back, as if they just forgot the results of their previous attempts in a matter of hours.

    Unfortunately, after another couple of violent -if far more subdued than Cyclops-chan incident- squabbles, the Academy has run out of reasonable methods of punishment. If I’m caught in something else, I’ll be pulled out of the program. Funny how that would’ve sounded fantastic a year ago, but now I’m emotionally invested in Karin. Now that I mention it, didn’t I at some point resolve to not befriend her? What happened with my willpower?

    In any case, I had to switch tactics. Training incidents happen everywhere, and if they all seem to befall the most unpleasant individuals in the class… well, it couldn’t have happened to a better guy. And if it so happens I stared down the victim making sure he or she sees my vicious smirk… Well, I’m a resentful bitch and I can’t bother feigning worry about someone I don’t like, that’s just life.

    I would say their attempts utterly failed at bothering me, but that’s not actually true. Because I don’t feel like leaving Karin alone with this swarm of flies, I was forced to drop my advanced classes to remain with her. That did bother me. Sure, I still got the advanced assignments and tried to get by with self-study, but it’s simply not the same.

    I was forced to slow down, because I didn’t ask for help when I had the chance.

    Stupid Shim—

    Actually, that means I had the whole day with Karin. Good job, Shimada blood!


    Between punishments and celebrations, it takes a good couple of months for things to settle into a new routine.

    In the mornings, assuming Mother is out on a mission, I wake up to do my morning practice before making breakfast and packing a bento for the day. Then off to school I go. When Mother is at home though, I’m woken up to do my hellish morning practice instead. At least Mother takes pity on me and cooks herself those days.

    At least this routine seems to get Mother into cooking. At some point I caught her sealing a shepherd’s pie into a scroll while preparing for a mission. It warms one’s heart to know one’s family is finally eating properly.

    On a normal day classes start by meeting Karin at the entrance, and we go through there depending on the day’s plan. The idea to go pick her up at home in the mornings was tempting, but we already spend most of the day with her and don’t want to be creepy.

    Is it normal for girlfriends to do everything together at this age? I seem to remember something along those lines form my last life, but… well, you know, blurry memories and all that. Don’t even know if that’s first hand knowledge or just urban legends, so practically blazing a new trail here.

    Anyway theoretical classes are kind of a mix. We have at one side the classes I used to take advanced lessons in, where I now ignore the world around me to go through material far too advanced for Karin to follow while she focuses on the teacher’s lesson.

    On the other hand, we have the lessons where I have to pay attention. I now have someone who listens when I poke holes through inconsistencies and brainwashing. Karin’s reactions shift between scandalized and amused, and as hard as she tries to keep a serious and respectful face at the Academy, I’m proud to say I get some snorts out of her from time to time.

    Uh… don’t you misunderstand anything, we haven’t earned extra detentions after that one time the second day. I can learn from my mistakes, thank you very much. All of this is done with a generous sprinkle of tolerance towards my classmates’ antics. Or taking note of those I don’t feel like tolerating for some sweet payback during sparring lessons.

    Physical is a bit different, because it’s clear Karin can’t keep up and needs some help not to lower her overall scores. That’s fine by me, it keeps me occupied during otherwise dull classes. After training with Mother, 90% of the Academy physicals feel like a joke to me. Not to offend, but playing the onee-sama role for a cutie cuddly redheaded brainiac is a better use of my time.

    The ten percent I actually have to pay attention to are my spars with Muku. Have I mentioned lately how much of a monster the guy is? Sometimes I feel like I have to risk life and limb just to pull off a draw. From time to time Ryūzetsu insists on sparring with me, something that never happens without her input. I have to assume she’s pressured the teachers into some arrangement where she only fights me when she feels she has a good chance.

    She’s… she puts up a fight. Certainly better than the rest of the class. But she has nothing on Muku. I take great pleasure in reminding her that her boyfriend is both stronger and cuter than her. Vindictive you say? No idea what you’re talking about.


    This year I have a grievous enemy I have to defeat. And that means any underhanded method I can get my grubby, childish hands on are fair game. For you see, nothing less than my prodigiousness at full power stands even the slightest chance to succeed against this titanic quest. But that matters not! Because I’m determined to make others suffer any indignity and carry any reasonable burden for this worthy goal!

    Yeah, No matter what we’re going to properly celebrate Mother’s birthday this year.

    Oh, sure, laugh it up! Shall I remind you how things went last year? I wasn’t even there when she opened my gift! She was out the whole day! And it’ll have to be a surprise, because there’s no point otherwise.

    So this requires careful planning and daring maneuvering. How do you tie down a workaholic like Mother without ruining the surprise party in the process? Some would go through half-cooked plans to draw her attention with other events, or try to abuse her trust by feigning sickness so she’d remain by their side.

    That last one wouldn’t have worked anyway, I haven’t been sick a single day in my life, so she wouldn’t buy it.

    … Stupid Shimada blood.

    Anyway! I’m a real predator. I study the prey and figure out the striking points with a highest chance of success. I don’t waste time on overly elaborate plans that have a thousand points of failure, but rather go for that single, critical chance that allows me to sever the problem in one blow. I go for the weakest link.

    Like a true shinobi!

    So I dress in my cutest outfit and go see the lady in the mission office, then ask her to pretty please ‘give my mama a mission that won’t keep her away from the village that day’. Obviously, she laughs in my face. ‘Cute’ just doesn’t work on me. Plan B it is.

    … I’m not ashamed to admit I dragged Karin with me and made her ask on my behalf after my own failure. Worked like a charm, too. Nobody can resist those huge eyes tearing up. Well, nobody with a soul, I haven’t forgotten the state she arrived at the academy. Still owe a beating to someone for that.

    After we’re done with that and I’ve had a talk with a certain pottery for this year’s gift, we stumble with the problem of Karin not having her own allowance to get a gift. I have to fight down a smile at that, it won’t do for her to misunderstand and think I’m happy about her financial situation.

    It’s just that Karin has this... ‘minion’ feeling around her, you know? Following my lead everywhere and in everything, shy and insecure, and never speaking for herself. I’m not happy about it, but I don’t have the heart to throw her into the deep end so she learns some independence either.

    Hearing she wants to get her own gift for Mother instead of just helping me with mine warms the heart. Especially because I’m half-convinced Mother scares Karin to death.

    Fortunately, I have wisdom beyond my years, coming from a life before life! When a nine years old wants to make a gift for an adult, spending money is not the usual way to go about it. So I take Karin on a binge through Kusa’s many gardens, which are a smorgasbord of beautiful flowers to make a bouquet with.

    We might’ve gotten into trouble because picking flowers from public gardens isn’t strictly legal.

    We might’ve dodged the trouble with liberal use of smoke bombs and running for our lives.

    We might’ve arrived home with barely enough time to get everything ready before Mother herself arrived.

    “I’m home.” Mother calls from the entrance, exactly loud enough for her voice to carry to us.

    “Welcome home!” I call back, hurriedly straightening up the lighted candles on the cake and giving the finishing touches to the table.

    I have no idea how old Mother is, that’s something I never had the courage to ask, so instead they’re letter candles reading ‘#1 Mom’. As soon as she enters the room the both of you are ready for her.

    “Happy Birthday Mother!”
    “Happy Birthday, Shimada-sama!”

    It only lasts an instant, and she’s quick to go back to normal and thanking us for the party. For someone not used to Mother, it would’ve been nothing. But it doesn’t escape me how she froze for an instant at the scene. Damn woman forgot about her birthday again!

    Things don’t really get animated, because Karin still doesn’t feel very confident around Mother and ‘animated’ just isn’t the way things work around Mother anyway, but we still have a nice enough snack dinner, topped up with my best peach and lily cake. And lemme tell you, detoxifying the lilies without ruining the flavour wasn’t fun.

    … Mother’s favorite, don’t ask.

    When it comes to presents, she unwraps my gift to find a ‘#1 Mom’ soup bowl. This has her sending an unamused look my way, that I can’t help but answer with a tiny smirk full of smugness. Time to start taking your broth the proper way, woman!

    I’m a bit upset when, instead of putting Karin’s bouquet into a vase. she hangs it upside down. It's her day though, if Mother wants to upset my best friend for Mother reasons I don’t really understand, then I don’t have to like it, but I’m not going to act out either.

    Turns out, it’s a good thing I didn’t. Because a week later we came home to find the bouquet, now dried and preserved, resting proud in an honor place in the living room. They’ll easily last ten times longer than fresh, and Karin couldn’t stop smiling the whole evening, but Mother sure could’ve explained her plans right from the start.

    The year continued without any big upset and, before I knew, it was Summer again.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2020
  4. preier

    preier Not too sore, are you?

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    Re: an.

    I don't know, the feeling that she's deliberately sleepwalking through the academy and focusing on the important things (maximizing her Karin intake) seems on point. ;)
     
  5. ChaoticSky

    ChaoticSky Not too sore, are you?

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    I do hope she twigs onto Karin's mother's situation before too long and gets the woman some help.

    Maybe have them move in? That would allow her to interact with Karin 24/7!

    Or would it be better to let her mother die and then adopt her?

    Decisions decisions. :p
     
  6. Jeff Roy

    Jeff Roy Not too Sora, are you?

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    Really looking forward to an interlude from someone else's POV, so we can see how others ACTUALLY perceive Shimada-oneechan.
    Is she creepy?
    Is she terrifying?
    Is she adorable?
    Is she adorafying?
    Is she Awe inspiring?
    Is she Itachifying?

    Is her Mother struggling to do everything in her power to keep improving in order to make MC think she is nowhere near her Mother's level, but is in reality constantly thinking "Dear Kami. My daughter is a freakin Monster! I need to keep getting stronger to keep up with her!"?

    Damnit, I need to know how strong the Unreliable Narrator trope is!
     
  7. Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    You have a point, and actually works better with my old extended title (the thing about the Questing Beast came later), so I've edited it back to fit.

    I'm not sure what exactly I'll do with next chapter yet, but there'll be at least some interaction with Uzumama.

    Then you'd love to know I'm toying with a Ryūzetsu interlude soon-ish. Around chapter 14~15 if things don't get too out of control.

    I'm afraid a Mother interlude isn't in the cards. Because Reasons.
     
  8. Doctor

    Doctor Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    i need more of this, i need more chibi karin and her scary friend(insert many different truths here). also, can the bear trap become a thing? like i can see chunin exams and someone tries to stick their hand in her backpack/pocket/opens a seal and boom, bear trap-chan gets fed.
     
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  9. Simonbob

    Simonbob Really? You don't say.

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    You Fool! This is QQ!

    Why do you want a bear in drag, anyway?!:V:V
     
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  10. LurkingInTheDeceit

    LurkingInTheDeceit “Brave” Explorer treading “new” land

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    [​IMG]“Because she’s beautiful darling, just fabulous”

    Surprisingly difficult to find a bear in a dress that isn’t a ‘teddy’ bear.
     
  11. Doctor

    Doctor Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    this. this is what kills me. im dying of laughter because im now imaging an actual bear inside the back pack rather than a bear trap and that makes the whole thing much more hilarious. (and makes the fact that the teacher seems to be in the "NOPE" realm in terms of doing anything about it even better XD)
     
  12. Simonbob

    Simonbob Really? You don't say.

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    "You fail to disarm the bear trap. The bear lands on your head, and it looks hungry."

    :cool::cool:
     
  13. Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    Let's hope Ran is never sent to the Land of Bears, there's only so much the plot can thicken before it burns.

    "If the metoerite belongs to Hoshigakure, which is part of the Land of Bears.
    And metoerites are actually pieces of rock, aka pieces of the land.
    ... Doesn't that mean they should be called 'Dropbears'?"


    ... I'll let myself out now, please don't hurt me.
     
  14. Threadmarks: 013 - How to spend ludicrously and overindulge
    Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    013 - How to spend ludicrously and overindulge (Future Ran won’t forgive me this one)



    All along the year, I’ve never known Karin’s mother very well, only meeting her when she comes to pick up her daughter in the evenings after she’s done with her own job, and we’ve never traded more than polite greetings.

    She’s just Uzumama, a slight woman of pale skin and harried behaviour whose only remarkable feature is a huge slash scar down her forehead and who looks permanently at the border of physical exhaustion. There’s no sign of the hailed Uzumaki vitality to be found on her. Maybe she’s naturally sickly, or maybe she simply doesn’t conform to stereotypes.

    Case is, I didn’t even know her name -Uzumaki Kurisu- until last week. Things are a bit different now though. I can’t afford to alienate allies a week away from the biggest event in living memory. Today is June 13th, and the last week has seen me dedicate my very limited free time to prepare for it.

    What happens on June 20th that has me in such a tizzy? I’ll give you a moment to google it.

    Tick tock time’s up! Those who said ‘Karin’s birthday’ have a cookie. What’s more, it’s her first birthday since we met.

    … No, I didn’t remember outright from my last life. Birthdays were never all that relevant to the plot, and apparently I wasn’t obsessed enough to memorize them from their bios. A strange line to draw when I know for a fact I consumed all the official releases, be it manga, anime, movie, light novel or videogame. Or maybe my faulty pre-Ran memory isn’t good enough for small details like those. But ‘not creepy’ is my story and I’m sticking to it.

    Anyway, there’ll never be another birthday like this one, so I think I’m justified going a bit crazy about it. That includes coordinating with Uzumama for the best result.

    … I did notice the grimace she made while asking about using the Shimada house for the party itself, but can’t for my life’s worth figure out what she would find distasteful about that. I’m more than happy with it, and Mother won’t mind. Maybe she just swallowed a bug? That would have anyone making faces.

    Or I might be missing something again, people are difficult.

    Anyway, plans are plotted, and discoveries about Karin’s likes and dislikes are made. Everything’s been worked out and we only need to work on the details now. With Karin coming to play and spending most of the day here everyday I have to make my moves early in the morning or late in the evening, which makes logistics complicated, but I manage.

    She’ll be gobsmacked when she arrives here the 20th, or I’ll be very disappointed in my infiltrator skills.

    There is also the matter of her gift. At first I wanted to make something myself, but arts and crafts aren’t my forte and, as I said before, this one is a special, once in a lifetime, first birthday together. So I want something extra special that can survive Karin’s future as a kick-ass kunoichi.

    … Shut up, she’s my friend now, Forest of Death bears will have nuthin’ on her.

    I still wanted to participate in some way, so I buckled down on my average at best sketching skills and hunted down into the sealing books for a way to make my plans into reality. Took me longer than I wanted, and some parts are just blank holes that’ll hopefully be filled with the expertise of someone that actually knows what he’s doing, but the plans are ready.

    My only problem is… well.

    I take a last look at the scrolls with a sigh before rolling everything up and knocking on Mother’s office door. Yeah, Mother has an office at home, we may be just two in the family, but that means nothing to the paperwork that being Clan Head entrails. And I’m digressing. Anyway, the problem is I’ve designed a monster whose actual production is probably worth more than my organs in the black market.

    So I have to—

    The door opens without warning, giving me the scare of my life and derailing my thoughts. On the other side, still sitting at her desk in the far side of the room, fingers holding softly glowing blue threads and a smug expression on her face. Because of course Mother can use chakra threads, what was I thinking?

    “You need to work on your awareness, Ran.” I hold back a sigh, and nod instead, hopefully conveying proper chastisement. “You wanted something?”

    “Mother, would you take a look at this?” Before I can get cold feet and give some stupid excuse to run away, and step in front of her, putting the scroll of schematics on the table. “I’d like to have it done for Karin’s birthday.”

    She takes it in with a glance before turning her attention back at me, eyebrow raised. “Those won’t be cheap to make, especially on a single week deadline.”

    I deflate, that’s exactly the problem. Maybe if the old villages of Sky or Uzu were still standing and we lived there, where such skills were commonplace, it would’ve been more affordable. Heck, even just Snow would’ve helped a lot. Here in Grass? I’m not sure I can even find the experts required to see the job done.

    “What would it take?” I ask anyway, because at this point isn’t a matter of costs. I’m already committed. “I’m willing to earn it.”

    Mother’s smile is full of sharp teeth. “I’m sure we can think of something.”

    … Meep.


    The day finally arrives and everything is ready. Getting everything just right might've taken me a lot of trial and error and working through the night because, let me tell you, trial and error where there’s confetti involved makes a bitch and a half of a mess with every try. Fortunately Karin isn’t slated to arrive until evening today and I can catch some sleep.

    It’s a bit frustrating that it’s just me waiting for her, but we’re still persona non grata within the Academy, so all that ‘invite the whole class to the party’ wouldn’t work very well, and the only other person who could’ve made it is Mother, who will be busy until later.

    That might be for the best though, considering Karin still goes stiff when they’re in the same room.

    Anyway, the security seals ding with the familiar tones of registered Uzumaki blood. Yeah, our home has wards that seem out of a Harry Potter fic, but they can’t tell you exactly who it is, just their lineage and whether they’re registered or not. What’s a bit surprising is the second set of registered Uzumaki blood. Looks like Uzumama could make it too, we weren’t too sure whether she could duck from work for the day or not.

    “Excuse the intrusion!” Ah, they’re at the front door. And overly formal again. Even after a year I despair with this girl.

    “In the dining room!”

    I’m a bit surprised at how well the sound of footsteps carry from the hallway. Can’t believe I never noticed before. Then again, I always get to the door to receive guests, and the only person I share home with is Mother. Yeah, no hearing those footsteps.

    Anyway, when they reach this room Karin’s face brightens as she makes to greet me, only for them to widen in shock as the ceiling explodes in small cutouts of colorful paper and a banner reading ‘Happy Birthday Karin!’. Seeing her face, I can’t resist making a tiger seal.

    [Ninpo - Kamifubuki (Ninja art - Confetti(1))]!” I mock-cast with a smile.Happy birthday Karin!”

    The plan for now it’s to chat the time away, maybe break the games, until Mother comes back and we can attack the food, but that plan crashes and burns with Uzumama’s inclusion. I mean, I’m not about to ditch a guest to entertain herself alone in my home, but I don’t know her well enough to make small talk. Heck, I don’t know Mother well enough to make small talk.

    I can manage when it’s just Karin and myself, but that’s about it. And Uzumama doesn’t seem any better in that field. Our only hope was Karin herself, who I know for a fact can be a real chatterbox in the right circumstances but… apparently a surprise birthday party isn’t one of those. Or maybe it’s having her mother and best friend in the same room. Akasha knows I have a lot of trouble with Mother and my best friend being in the same room, myself.

    Ugh, it’s like this is a joke. Three introverts try to throw a party…

    Mother’s arrival can’t come fast enough, and I almost feel like crying in relief when she finally appears in the room. Yes, I say ‘appear’. No, I have no idea when she arrived, so I can only say when she showed herself, that’s why I say ‘appear’.

    After stuffing our faces and singing a song -damn Mother has a great voice, is there anything she cannot do?- and having the birthday girl blow the candles and stuffing our faces again -with cake this time!- I realize Mother and Uzumama have disappeared somewhere and we’re alone. Add ‘wingman’ to the pile of things she can flawlessly do.

    Nevermind that now, this is my chance!

    This is it, time to show off!

    I’ll blow her mind with my birthday super-present!

    … What if she doesn’t like it?

    Nah, that’s impossible, she’ll love it.

    … Or will she? Imean, she’s a polite girl, so she won’t say she hates it on my face, but how do I know for sure?

    You know what, Ran? You’re being ridiculous, give her the present already.

    Anytime now...

    Taking a deep breath, I break the silence.

    “Karin?”

    “Hmm?” All the tension breaks when she turns towards me, face dirty with frosting and cheeks bulging with cake. It takes all I have not to burst in laughter right there.

    “I… Um… You know you’re my best friend, right?” Blinking in what I can only assume it’s confusion, Karin nods, mouth still full of cake. “Before you came, I didn’t really have any. Friends, that is, and I know that I’m weird and unremarkable and everyone picking on us is my fault, but I’m really glad you stuck with me anyway. And, well… this is your first birthday since we met and...” Damn this shouldn’t be so difficult! Stop beating around the bush and just say it! “AndIwantedtogiveyouasuperspecialpresenttocelebrateIhopeyoulikeit(2)!”

    She hastily swallows to accept the finely wrapped box I offer and then, she tears it to shreds. Ten years old girl high on sugar, Uzumaki to top it off. Of course she tears it to shreds. She then pulls out a golden heart-shaped necklace.

    “It has some sealwork for security.” I explain. “I’ll teach you later how to activate them, now open it!”

    [​IMG]


    We both remain silent for a while, listening to the tin melody. Finally though, Karin reacts, slowly swiping a finger through the inscription before closing the locket and raising her head to look at me.

    Looking at Karin’s eyes is a rare treat, even after all this time. She’s just too shy to hold someone’s gaze. Usually, I’d luxuriate in the chance to lose myself in those beautiful crimson eyes of hers. For some reason though, today her gaze feels heavy with judgement.

    Have I gone too far? Have I assumed too much? Maybe I’m just someone convenient to hang around with, and she’s never considered me a friend? As the silence stretches, all those scenarios go through my head.

    Was this too soon? Am I being creepy? Pretty sure year-long friendships are a big deal at this age, but what do I know? It’s not like I have friends! Oh, you’ve done it now Ran! She’s going to make an odd face and slowly step away from you and give a polite apology and ghost you for the rest of your life!

    “Um… Ran-san…” There it is! The odd face! And she’s taking a step back! I close my eyes, hoping against hope the ostrich approach will work this one time, only to feel the air leave my lungs as I’m tackle-hugged by around fifty pounds of squeeing redhead. “Thankyouthakyouthankyou!!!!”

    I… just stand there, blinking dumbly while trying to

    “... You’re welcome.” Crisis averted? Crisis averted. Wew, have to stop assuming the worst of everything before I get an ulcer. “You’re very welcome. Let’s go see if we can get some more cake?”

    (1) Kamifubuki means ‘confetti’ but the literal translation is actually ‘paper blizzard’.
    (2) “And I wanted to give you a superspecial present to celebrate, I hope you like it!” - If someone could tell me how to make those annotations that underline the text with dots and show an alternate text when you put the mouse cursor on it that would be grand, because I’ve seen it used but I’m going crazy trying to figure out how. Would’ve helped a lot here.


    I swear, writing this chapter was like pulling teeth. I feel having two birthday chapters back to back is a bit awkward, but I had Mother’s birthday already written when I remembered there were reasons why Karin’s had to have it’s own chapter too.

    Which reminds me, I really should show more of their everyday life, right? That kinda conflicts with my hurry to jump out of the Academy though… I’ll see what I can do.
     
  15. LurkingInTheDeceit

    LurkingInTheDeceit “Brave” Explorer treading “new” land

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    I feel like the village higher ups are gonna get a visit from Mother now she’s seen Uzumama, obliviousness might be something the MC suffers from but Mother is as sharp as a Kunai.

    I’m hesitant to help, because encountering this on mobile is a massive pain (you can’t see what’s written outside of replies). But here’s an example you should be able to copy the formatting of in replies:
    QQ

    This page also has that and basically everything else you can do on QQ text wise- https://forum.questionablequesting.com/help/bb-codes
     
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  16. preier

    preier Not too sore, are you?

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    and a happy birthday^^

    "and I know that I’m weird and unremarkable and everyone picking on us is my fault" such self-awareness, much objective evaluation.
     
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  17. Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    If things go according to plan, this'll be addressed right after Ryuzetsu's interlude, or a couple of chapters later at worse.

    Thanks! And good to know it doesn't work so well on mobile. Abbreviated text helps mantain the flow of the story while making acclarations, but I guess I'll still use the numbered footnotes on top of that.

    Self awareness clearly isn't what Ran excels in. Throught she's actually right... from a certain point of view ;)
     
  18. Hylas_Daemonem

    Hylas_Daemonem Getting out there.

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    Aww, that was adorable.
     
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  19. EddyQ

    EddyQ J̶us͜t ͡a͠ Č̘͚̲̝̟̞ͪͪͅa̜̖̞̥̘͙ͯ̓͐ͮ̾͛t̯̯͔̟͐͗̊͝

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    Was Shimada Mother the one to "acquire" the Uzumakies?
     
  20. Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    I'll just say there's enough in-story evidence to answer that question ;)


    EDIT: Actually, nevermind. In the world of deceit and misdirection shinobi live in, the only way to know for sure would be having a Mother interlude where she thinks about the subject. Still, the correct answer is hinted at.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2020
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  21. Threadmarks: 014 - Join the Caravan
    Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    The Youtube link was a last minute thing, and I'm at work right now so won't be able to check whether I really got the right link. It should be the song 'Kaze no ne' with japanese lyrics. If it isn't... well, I'll check and fix it once I'm back home for the day. Sorry in advance



    014 - Join the Caravan (You’ll see the world! They said..)


    That night, after cleaning up the leftovers of the party and a fuckton of little strips of coloured paper that got everywhere, Mother and I sit for a light dinner. She seems to be… in a remarkably good mood. Not that most can tell with Mother.

    “How are your studies going?”

    The fork stops halfway to my face, and it takes me a few seconds to realize I’ve frozen with my mouth open. Then I force down a blush -with arguable results- and continue eating. Her question caught me by surprise. While I have no doubt she’s interested and keeps track of how I’m doing at the Academy, she rarely asks. As in, ever.

    No, there’s more to the question. She’s actually asking what are my plans going forward, that with ‘dropping’ my advanced classes. So I take my time chewing while I think on how to answer.

    “Seems like I’m done with Math.” I say after finally swallowing. It’s not technically true, since one can never be truly done with math sort of becoming omniscient. “Grass academic level has little more to offer and I’m not really interested in advancing the science. So, unless we’re willing to move to Snow Country and join their specialized programs… yeah.” I finish lamely.

    Sky shinobi might have something to offer too, but I’m not supposed to know they’re still around. Also, I have complicated feelings about them, since they’re kind of like Uzu, only it was Konoha who attacked them. Too many toes to step on with that particular story.

    “I see. Any plans for next year?”

    “Nothing solid yet, I was hoping to make up my mind during the holidays, but...” How do I explain Mother that I’m sick of studying theory in a way that doesn’t see me separated from Karin? “I have conflicting motivations at the moment.”

    Mother nods, apparently figuring out the meaning behind my vague words. “Have you given any thought to becoming an assistant teacher? I’m sure you could meet the qualifications by next year if you put your mind to it.”

    That has me freezing again, because it is the perfect elegant solution to my troubles. By achieving a position of authority, I’ll cut short the bullying problem. I won’t have to split from Karin, as long as I can get myself assigned to Narutaki-sensei. Which shouldn’t be too hard, considering he’s been my homeroom teacher since the start, it would make sense to remain under his care.

    It’s not foolproof, nothing can be in a real society with real people influencing the system in chaotic ways, but is good enough for me. I should be able to pull it off, provided I don’t take it for granted. Truly, a flawless proposal. As expected from Mother. It even sets me on a path that could see me both becoming a shinobi and remaining out of trouble, by taking it to its ultimate conclusion and becoming a full-fledged Academy teacher.

    And yet… It annoys me.

    Oh, it’s nothing rational. You could say it’s my pride rebelling against running away from Ryūzetsu, you could say it’s because I don’t see myself spending my life teaching brats or because I refuse to spend two years doing something I have no intention of continuing. You could even say I’m just against Mother dictating my fate but… The truth is that I simply don’t want to do it.

    Is there a purer reason? Is there a more frustrating reason?

    “You haven’t started with chakra manipulation yet, haven’t you?” And, somehow, Mother picks on my reluctance again before I can say anything. And proposes something more palatable.

    Why is it I like this proposal and not the first one? Doesn’t this put me even closer to becoming a combat shinobi? Why don’t I resist this attempt for Mother to dictate my fate? Is this because of hormones? Is this puberty?

    It has to be puberty. Next thing I know I’ll be bleeding all over my undies. Damn, I was really hoping to have some more time. Figures even for this I’d be ahead of my peers.

    Stupid Shimada blood...

    Back to Mother’s proposal, it’s something I can see myself doing. Chakra control exercises are supposed to take a great deal of focus, and very little in the way of movement, so I could get away with practising in class. “Maybe something they don’t teach at the Academy?”

    “That seems efficient.” She acquiesces easily. “Control is something you’ll have to deal with your whole life and can be practiced anywhere, so you should start there. Once you can count on not blowing yourself up trying to gather your chakra unassisted we can skip the Academy jutsu and go straight to Wall Climbing.”

    Both keeping the training at the Academy relevant and ensuring my future sensei doesn’t have to waste time teaching me that. Yes, that could work.

    “That said…” Mother doesn’t play with her drink, but somehow the feeling comes across that a lesser woman would do so at this point. She’s somewhat uncomfortable about whatever she wants to bring out. “Your grandfather will be coming through Grass at some point next week and wants to take you with him to see some world during your holidays. I made clear you will have the last word.”

    ...Oh.

    Yes, I can see how this might make Mother uncomfortable. From the longest of times -and with that I mean ‘in my living memory’- the Shimada Clan has been just the two of us. It isn’t like she’s neglected my education, Grandfather was someone I know of. It’s just… well, he’s never been here. At least since I was aware enough of my environment to recognise him.

    Now the question is, what is she uncomfortable about? Does she want me to meet the wider family and is afraid I’ll shy away from it? Does she want to have me for herself all holidays and is afraid I’ll go away? No way to say for sure. How am I supposed to spoil her if she doesn’t let slip what she actually wants? Dealing with Mother can be infuriating sometimes.

    I guess it comes to what I want, right? Seeing a bit of the world would do me some good, I think, and I’m tentatively eager to meet Grandfather. On the other hand, no Karin. That’s a bit no-no, but if Mother plans to take me to the wilds again there won’t be a Karin route for me this summer.

    “I would like meeting Grandfather.” I finally say. “And seeing other towns is bound to be interesting.”

    “Good.” Mother nods, apparently I’ve made the right choice. “I’ve talked with Kurisu. She’s told me how much Karin misses life in a caravan, so she will be going with you. It’ll do her well to be the sempai for once, I believe.”

    I get to see the world and Karin comes with me? Must be all the good karma from not killing anyone the whole year. Man, now I can’t wait until next week. Even if that means I won’t be learning cool ninja magic just yet. And speaking of cool ninja magic...

    “Mother?” It’s just an idle thought but I won’t know if I don’t ask. “How much have you contributed to the Shimada Forbidden Scroll?”

    “I don’t bother counting.” Does that mean she’s done it a lot or is she dodging the issue? Maybe she has a cute fault like never having designed an original technique of her own? “Knowing I have contributed is enough satisfaction.” Yeah, why did I bother imagining something else?

    Stupid Shimada mom.



    A week later sees me lie sprawling on wooden boards and looking at a tarpaulin ceiling and reflecting on my new situation. If you’d told me a month ago that today I’d be on a cart, making a good time towards Wind Country and feeling like I’ve been run over by a bull stampede, my first guess would’ve been I would be kidnapped by Suna-nin.

    And yet here I am.

    Grandfather isn’t anything like expected. Undeniably old with his white hair, long beard and wrinkled face, he’s still a big and very fit man that makes people look twice when passing by. That famous insufferable personality we Shimada are said to develop with age is nowhere to be found, being all smiles and kind words.

    … That is, until it’s time for work. Then he puts on his tyrant mask and makes everyone on board earn their breakfasts, and then tells them to ‘Do it all again, but this time do it right’. Still, it’s just honest physical work instead of… dunno, constant nagging and psychological warfare. I won’t deny having some frightening dreams this past week, remembering what’s said of old Shimada only after I had already accepted.


    Her presence here is another surprise I won’t be complaining about. Karin is really attached to Uzumama, so I was a bit skeptical about all this ‘split from her for months’ business until she showed up with a backpack and positively vibrating with excitement.

    … I guess she really missed life in a caravan? Not even Grandfather’s strict hand seems to phase her, and she goes through her own chores with ease, a permanent smile in her lips. Hell she’s even sin—

    Wait a minute.

    “Karin? You sing?” After a year with her, this is the first I hear of that.

    “I used to, back in the caravan,” She explains with a nod, cheeks slightly pink. “During the boring times when there was nothing to do but was too tired to walk with the carts. Sitting in the back and waiting for the sun to go down so we’d set the camp for the night.”

    “I’ve never heard you sing before.” I sit up straight to get a better look. “That was pretty neat.”

    “I never had time to get bored in the village.” She goes the full way to blushing at my praise. “So it hasn’t come up, I’m horribly out of practice”

    “Nonsense, your singing voice is great and I want to hear more.”

    Unfortunately, that’s when Grandfather decides we’ve rested enough and it’s time to move all the cargo around to make sure no rodents are nesting in a corner somewhere. For the third time. Today.

    A slave driver, I tell you.


    “Hey, Karin?” I ask that night, once we’re done with our tasks and dinnered up and tucked on our cots. “What kind of shinobi would you like to be after graduating?”

    She takes a long while to answer. “A strong one? I have never thought about it that way.” She finally mutters when I’m about to let it go and try to sleep. “Maybe a medic?”

    “Yeah, that sounds like you.” Half not wanting to fight and half village brainwashing, I’d wager. Not something I’m willing to let go. “But I don’t think being a medic really suits you”

    “What do you mean?”

    “Well, you are very competent at healing without spending an iota of training on that, so I think it is a bit of a waste to spend years and years studying something you can already do good enough in a different way. Like… what’s the opposite of synergy?”

    “Dysergy.” That’s my bookworm. “What do you think, then? What would have a good synergy?”

    Now it’s my turn to remain silent. I honestly think becoming a full-time healer would be a total waste for Karin, but how to best use her skills without ignoring her wishes to avoid combat? And how to suggest it without making obvious I know about her bloodlines? Heck, I’m not sure she knows about her bloodlines herself, beyond the [Heal Bite]. If she knows, she sure hasn’t mentioned it to me.

    “Ran-san?”

    “If you want to play your strengths, sealing masters are always in high demand...” I slowly answer, before I receive a flash of inspiration.“And if you want to avoid direct combat, how about covert ops? A good [Chameleon Jutsu], a bit of genjutsu, some quick retreat options depending on your elemental nature and, if you’re good enough, you won’t even need to wield a weapon at all.”

    That’s a very good use for the [Mind’s Eye of the Kagura] that’s centered around avoiding combat. Her other two bloodlines will be circumstantially useful too, [Heal Bite] is one of the best first response… abilities -I refuse to call ‘being bitten’ a jutsu- of the whole shinobi world, and the [Adamantite Chains] are useful for a great many things, which will only increase with training and imagination.

    “Mmm... That sounds good.” There’s a bit of shuffling around, before she lets out a small yawn. “Not having to train in combat anymore will be nice too.”

    “Yeah… no. You’re still learning how to swing around something sharp and pointy. No friend of mine will be defenseless the moment something goes wrong!”

    “Ran-san… You’re cute when you act all protective like that.”

    “Sh— shut up! What sort of friend would I be otherwise? Now go to sleep already, that slave driver I have for a Grandfather will no doubt try and wring us for all we’re worth tomorrow too!”

    The next day I wake up to a sharp pain in my abdomen and the cot stinking of iron. I don’t need to lift the sheets to realize what’s happened. Thrice cursed be Hakkar and his court of unholy loa, I knew it!

    Stupid Shimada blood, now unleashed upon the world.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2020
  22. Diver

    Diver I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Oh god, adorable psycho chibi is going through puberty!? Everyone run for the hills!
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2020
  23. ChaoticSky

    ChaoticSky Not too sore, are you?

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    And the real reason shimama wanted her out of the village for a while is revealed!
     
  24. LurkingInTheDeceit

    LurkingInTheDeceit “Brave” Explorer treading “new” land

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    *Smirk*

    I wonder if there’s some deeper meaning behind Karin leaving the village, getting both of the children away from a potential conspiracy... or I might be overthinking it and she was just looking out for the MC by keeping the dream team together.
     
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  25. Wentley

    Wentley Not too sore, are you?

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    I HOPE it is Mama cleaning up some problems.
     
  26. Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    And that's how my keyboard ended up covered in spit and coffee. Hope you're proud.

    I'll confirm that there are some ulterior motives, though it's probably nothing like what you're thinking. It'll all be revealed in Uzumama's interlude.
     
  27. ChaoticSky

    ChaoticSky Not too sore, are you?

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    You have no idea. :D
     
  28. Threadmarks: 015 - Dune Dervish
    Planeshunter

    Planeshunter [Verified Slimegirl Whisperer]

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    If Kaguya’s sanity was far gone, her body was sent to the moon, her chakra was split ninefold and given individual consciousness, and her will escaped in the form of Zetsu… what the hell was sealed by her sons, exactly? Her good looks? Must've been that, the other pieces were hideous…


    015 - The Dune Dervish (Mortar, Dampen Projectiles, Vortex.)

    For all that he’s a great negotiator, Grandfather is as clumsy as Mother when it comes to real social interactions with people he cares for. In his defense, he tried to lighten my burden when he noticed I was… under the weather. Unfortunately he managed to come out as a condescending jerk and I was in no mood to read between the lines, so I kicked his shin and stubbornly kept with my tasks.

    Upon reflection, that might’ve been… poor judgement on my part.

    Good news though, Karin spent the whole evening singing and wiping my forehead with a wet rag after I collapsed. Humiliating or not, that felt very nice. We also reached Wind in the meanwhile, which means blistering sun and endless sand wastes, but that’s a problem for Future Ran.

    Seriously, bless that girl.

    The following day we reached the town of Honebue(1) and Grandfather took us to the tavern so we could ‘see how it’s done’. I was feeling way better, which means I realized it was another attempt to coddle me, but I wasn’t in any mood to get indignant anymore. I’d get to see him in action and that would have to be good enough.

    Was there in the tavern, sitting on a stool and taking sips of my peach-flavoured drink while swinging my feet and listening to Grandfather learn every single scrap of news and gossip the place had to offer that I first felt like a careless child in… years.

    Don’t get me wrong now. I haven’t been a careless child since before I was born, and I’m grateful Mother didn’t try and treat me as if I was. Eggs and omelets and all that. But still, sometimes I forget I’m actually -almost- ten, and most people my age don’t have to worry about anything worse than homework or a scraped knee. This wasn’t too bad, from time to time.

    Just like me to learn the joys of being a spoiled kid right after I stop being one.

    … What? I’m a preteen now. Completely different.

    Grandfather laughs loudly at some joke another patron made, drops some ryo in the bar and comes back to our table with lunch. I’m too hungry to do anything other than wolf it down with a passion, but the food is objectively shit. That or my own prodigious cooking skills have spoiled me.

    Stupid Shimada blood.

    (1) Honebue: Bone Whistle. In a place known for the blowing winds and deadly environment, it sounds like an appropriate name, doesn’t it?


    There’s apparently a monster in the area, scaring away both merchants and bandits. Grandfather scoffed at the idea of a ‘Dune Dervish’ on the prowl, but still decided it would be prudent to stay in Honebue for a while. We had wares to trade anyway, and any caravan getting out of Wind would gladly sell us their leftover desert supplies at a token cost.

    It’s only late in the evening, when he sits me aside and gives me some hard numbers, that I realize there’s something more at play here. Sure, the rumours of the monster means the trade in the area is slowing down, but few merchants are willing to actually turn back and ruin a journey of weeks if not months just for some rumours, so it’s not that bad.

    Most telling, while there’s been a lot of ‘sightings’, only one caravan has been attacked so far. The bandits in the area though… they’ve been decimated. I don’t need him to tell me these facts don’t really match with the rumours. Judging by Grandfather’s face, I had enough data to make an educated guess.

    Bandits have traditionally been a big problem everywhere after every Shinobi War. Countless groups gain a foothold while the villages couldn’t spare the manpower to clean house. Later, as the Nobles play their little games of war and peace, they fill out with first deserters and later decommissioned ashigaru(2) incapable of adapting back to peace afterwards.

    They tend to be slowly culled down while the shinobi villages remain at peace, and actually that sort of missions make up a good chunk of their income. Important trade hubs do their best to clean up the main trade routes as soon as possible, but relatively small towns like Honebue are still part of the routes and may sometimes take years to gather the coin for a mission. In the meanwhile, caravans are bled dry and the economy of the whole area suffer.

    ...Let’s ignore for a minute that, once bandit camps start to disappear, the Villages run out of job and manage to find an excuse to wage open war again. That’s not the point.

    Case is, the economy of the area should improve drastically, now that there are no bandits. Which could improve the lives of a lot of people. Look underneath. When in doubt, follow the money. Who benefits from this?

    The village, obviously.

    The nobles, who can tax more.

    Rival bandits, who can now move to the area.

    Rival merchants, who will see their routes favored on detriment of these.

    And the monster(?), obviously, but I’m reasonably sure that’s just shadow play.

    And yet, neither the village nor the nobles benefit for the -obviously, in hindsight- manipulated rumours. Both the village and the nobles would benefit more if there was nothing to scare merchants away. Same with rival bandits, plus they would’ve attacked more caravans.

    Time to look underneath the underneath. When in doubt, blame the ninja.

    A foreign village may benefit from reduced commerce, depending on a number of factors, but overall commerce benefits everyone. And again the above remains valid. No reason for contradictory rumors.

    At a first glance, the same applies to Sunagakure itself, but…

    I might be into something here, actually.

    Monster extermination and other mysterious investigation missions have a wildly varying rank, depending on the threat, but one thing's for sure. A threat that cleans up all the bandits in an area will be, by necessity, higher ranked than cleaning up the bandits themselves. But if the economy is improving at the same time…

    “Fear increases, but they’ll actually end up richer.” I start slowly. I’m sure I’m still missing something, but this is good enough for a hypothesis. “Both seeing an overall improved economy and allowing the town to commission a monster extermination mission from their Hidden Village!”

    “A bandit cleanup is just your run of the mill mission, but defeating a monster is the sort of thing that builds reputations.” Grandfather comments slyly. Suna’s greatest problem right now is their lack of trust from their Daimyo. Reputation helps with that sort of thing.

    “Puppeteers using puppets to puppet their own governments.” I burst into laughter. Man they’re good! “Damn tricky ninja!”

    … Wait a minute.

    Did that waitress just… dodge around a throng of running children with a stack of dirty dishes in one hand, and another two on the other? There are experts on every trade, apparently. That, or she’s an undercover shinobi.

    Considering there’s a very dangerous ‘apparition’ in the area and I just made a poor joke about Suna’s puppeteer corps, I’ll make sure not to show her my back, just in case.

    … It’s not paranoia if they’re actually out to get you.

    (2) Ashigaru: Conscripted infantry.


    Not… not my best piece, I’d say. Had some vague plans for a mystery story, but realized halfway I wasn’t all that into it, after all. Used the chapter instead to elucubrate a bit about Suna and their Puppeteers. And make Ran a bit more paranoid, that’s always worth my time.

    During the story we see very little of Suna’s Puppeteer Corps, Iwa’s Explosion Corps, Kiri’s… Hunter-nin? And… Kumo’s… Green Berets? Whatever. We only see Anbu consistently, and even then it’s mainly to see them die like chumps. Most of the time they’re those background guys that are supposed to be strong but only appear for someone even stronger to show off. That’s kind of a pity, don’t you think?
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2020
  29. R.A.G.

    R.A.G. Experienced.

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    I figured 7 colors was either going to be a reference to her chakra, or elements (either the base 5 and yin-yang, or something that lets her make rainbows).
     
  30. SilentStriker

    SilentStriker Know what you're doing yet?

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    LOL poor grandpa.
     
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