Fearless on my Breath

[ \Garyuu no Yamajiro | Chiroptera Forest | Dai Boeki no Michi | Eastern Plateaus | Ruins of Kumogakure no Sato/ ]
The country of Raikou no Kuni, home to countless towns amongst the northern mountains, southern forests, eastern plateaus, western plains, and craggy coastlines, the untamed wild outclassing all. Nomads roam these wilds and Dai Boeki no Michi, the Great Trade Road, while the ruins of Kumogakure no Sato have become a dangerous place where evil gathers, and Garyuu no Yamajiro is rumored to have a group seeking to gain the trust of the reclusive Ryuujin....

Fearless on my Breath

PostPosted by MankouZero » Wed Mar 19, 2014 10:33 pm

The landscape that was the Steel Grass valley looked nothing but a dismal sea of fog between two giant heaps of mountains.

One was a dormant volcano which could be guessed by the massive crater left in the wake of an ancient eruption.

Black sand coated the stony outside walls of the bowl retreating into the motionless blanket of grey.


"This is it." Higanashi confirmed bringing no warmth to his comrades. Mankou could recognize the plain, although he didn't say anything. The particular reason was that his vision was more symbolic as he came to discover. The area looked the same, yet the grass looked... normal.
"So, Steel Grass valley... Why do they call it that? asked the brown haired boy, adjusting the collar of his white garb.
"This valley was a good source of iron to make steel for weapons and armor. It was left abandoned for reasons unknown, even though it was once a thriving trade route between the north and south territories." The natural Raikougakure guide explained, turning grim. "Some say wild beasts or some horde of bandits infest the area, as no one has ever made it through the passage and was heard of again. Not since the old days of the Grand Wars has this pathway been used. The last to use it and make it out of the other side were my ancestors of the Skyblaze."
Mankou mouthed out a yawn as they stood at the brink of the grey. His true sense of duty was robbed by the mindset of his slothful youth. That and now there was Mari to think about.
"The miserable..." mumbled the boy. He gazed ever so slightly in the girl's direction as Mari was purposely drifting towards Higanashi. The young man had displayed such interesting qualities in how he managed to put some suitable shinobi clothing from what little materials they could gather with what was left of her spending money. Mari had never before met a boy that could work cloth like her attendants back at home. The Republic could use men like that, she felt. Still, her inner emotions were not detached from what first brought her out to the Land of Lightning. Mankou knew right away. But he was afraid that if he confronted her, he would develop feelings for her too.

As Higanashi brushed some accumulated dirt from his armor, a figure could then be seen just off in the grey.
"Who goes there?" he challenged the stranger. The other two also noticed, drawing their weapons. Both of them remembered Higanashi mention how bandits might claim the area as their territory. Their hands twitched with excitement as they waited for the figure to announce themselves. Nothing could prepare them to hear the answer that came.
"I am Miyamoto Musashi," said he, as a sword then materialized in his hand. Within the split second, Higanashi and the weapons the others carried were on the ground.
"That is my name, and I suffer no fools in my valley," continued the man, pointing the way they all came from. "Leave at once. Along with whom ever it is following you."
Dumbfounded, the three turned their eyes behind them to discover their was yet another to their group they had not bothered to take notice of. Higanashi wondered if it wasn't a Kumgakure ninja finally tracking him and Mankou down. Mari figured it was another boy to take advantage of with her feminine whiles. Mankou was interested in figuring out if this wasn't an operative from Suna calling him back home to save him from this wild goose chase. Even though it was clear that this was the master of the sword the young man was meant to find, it was more evident the man had no desire to take on any students; nor visitors at all, for that matter.

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Re: Fearless on my Breath

PostPosted by MankouZero » Mon Mar 24, 2014 8:15 am

"Team 2, stand down!" said Moe. The Chuunin team leader could tell they were in over their heads a little in this situation. "I am Senkou Moe, Chuunin team leader of the Hidden Cloud Remnant Resistance. We come in peace. Our apologies for our intrusion."

The other three Kumo nin stepped out of their positions in the fog, with their weapons down.

Musashi maintained his defensive stance.
"There are no samurai to hunt here." he insisted. "I am not interested in fighting shinobi. Neither am I willing to have you as guests. What business have you here?"

"We were tracking the whereabouts of one..." Moe said, taking note of Mari. "Two shinobi that were on a mercenary contract from the Western Republic. We're here to judge whether they are rouge."

"They do not seem to be your enemies. So, leave in peace. All of you." Musashi said, sheathing his sword. "I will not repeat myself again. Go."

There was a certain quality to the man to where the sound of his voice alone seemed to demand every once of attention to it. The sage like clothing he wore, a wool shroud over an old style kimono spoke of days long ago. Every movement seemed to do the same, telling a long tale of warriors and men of the sword. Musashi turned to walk back into the abyss.

Picking his sword up, Mankou followed after.

"Boku wa Jigen Goichi to moushimasu." he said already catching the swordsman's attention with his steps.

The face underneath a straw hat turned a curious look back to the boy.

"Zettai no shinai. Kare wa shinde iru." said Musashi.

"He may be dead. For all I care. But I've carried that name for some months so I could find a master swordsman. One who is a direct descendant of him." said Mankou, lifting his hefty sword atop his shoulder. The cool water dripping from it trickled down his back. What gave him true chills was when Musashi removed the straw hat.

"What is your true name." he said as his long red hair streamed down. Blue eyes gazed at blue, naked from the shadows and mist. The mess of red hair remained the boy of the Giant, one of The Three Fold order.

"I am Mankou Waetonno of the Auhoshi," the shinobi said, compelled to ask a question in return. "Why do they call this steel grass valley?"

Musashi gave a stoic pause for a brief moment. Then in a slower stout movement than when he first drew his blade, he tugged it out and lifted it high. With an effortless motion, he turned and slashed at the mass of fog behind him. Immediately following this motion, the fog tore back like a wave on all sides. Within moments, the entire valley was in view from the peaks of the surrounding mountains and hills, to the lowlands and rivers running through.

One could guess from this unveiled view of the valley where the name came from.

It seemed almost every inch of land was covered with swords stuck in the dirt, rock, and grass.

"This valley was once known more simply as Iron Hill valley. That was until the large scale battle, during the great shinobi wars took place in this very spot. The Koihonoo where going to the mountains through this pass. Legend speaks of one man who stood against the thirty thousand... Many legends surrounded him. He fought alongside Shou himself until he was defeated. After seeing his father die, the man drew his sword on the thirty thousand and slew every one of them. Thus, thirty thousand swords and more stand undisturbed, like grass they look." Musashi went on to say. He finished his story by calmly returning his sword to its sheath. The stance and form presented what seemed to only possibly be ages upon ages of practice and perfection. Every movement told the story of old. "And so they remain as a reminder of a legend, the envy of those who seek to master the sword."

All eyes were on Musashi, even though many questions were running through everyone's mind. Even Mankou felt uneasy, unable to leave the puzzle before him unsolved.

"You are looking for a sword master to learn from, are you not? Well, Mankou, as long as these shinobi of Kumogakure will allow, I shall teach you." said Musashi, adding to the mystery even further.

Moe shrugged, not quite sure of what to make of the whole ordeal. She and her team had finally caught up to Mankou and Higanashi to uncover the reason for their absence. More questions seemed to surface around this Mankou of the Auhoshi. The Chuunin was unfamiliar with the clan name. Still, Moe knew it was no clan of the Kumogakure, or anywhere in the Lightning Country. The Remnant counsel had concerns the two genin were looking to defect to the Onigami. This didn't seem to be the case from what could be seen in this instance.

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Re: Fearless on my Breath

PostPosted by MankouZero » Mon Mar 24, 2014 7:58 pm

"So we aren't needed here anymore, right? We can report back?" Joy asked Moe sensei.

"I suppose we're not needed. But things got plenty interesting." she said, looking toward Musashi and Mankou. "A samurai that isn't an enemy to shinobi. I think we should learn what we can from him so we have more to report. That and we could use a break from running, don't you think so?"

"I know so!" came Kyouichi, shaking off some sweat from his cloak.

"Even if the Onigami tracked us here, Musashi could help take care of them with us." Jesheru said, taking out a small bag of apples he had saved from a few days ago. He was quite in awe of the swordsman's disarming swipe to the other three genin. Disarming with a single slash, at a distance, non lethal, yet with promise of a death blow to follow if needed. Musashi was not a man to contend with, and Jesheru could see he was no enemy of theirs.

"With the effort I put into the genjutsu to cover our tracks, they better not be able to catch up with us." Kyouichi added, snagging an apple.

"Let's not even talk about Onigami for a while." suggested Moe. When each of team two had an apple in hand, they all in unison said "agreed."

Mari stared at the fruit with a furious hunger.

"You want mine? I don't... care too much for fruit." Joy said, catching Mari's stare.

Her eyes went wide at the offer. In an awful attempt to be polite, she tried refusing.

"Nah. Those must be so hard to come by these days." said Mari. The flat look and expression didn't hide her desire for the forbidden apple.

"We have another bag of them. When we were looking for you guys, we dodged Onigami trackers right into an orchard." said Jesheru. Kyouichi pulled the spare bag out with a id lighted smile, then nibbled on his apple showing his pointed teeth.

Mari frowned at the display.

"You think I'm scary? She's the human who turns into a dragon." Kyouichi said, pointing to his green eyed, green haired companion.

"It's the other way around, bat-brain!" Joy protested, phasing her tail out and smacking the back of Kyouichi's head. This dispelled the doubts Mari had. She simply shook her head before taking a bite of the apple and taking a few steps to the side.

As they all followed the master swordsman, Higanashi loosely expounded his curiosity in Musahi's knowledge.
"How much more do you know concerning the battle of Steel Grass valley? Was it not a Skyblaze swordsman who conquered the thirty thousand?"

There was that number again; thirty thousand. It made Mankou remember the so called vision he had. The difference between ten and thirty thousand, what ever it meant...

Other than that, Mankou chuckled a little when he noticed how Higanashi spoke so formal just like Musashi. Weren't they a pair? The guy even knew something of Higanashi's clan. It must have been the rest of the story he was describing before on how they were the last to go through this mountain pass.

"I know enough. Enough to know that this is place not meant for tourists. It is sacred ground for contemplation and practice of the Way." Musashi said sternly, looking over the many swords going off for miles it seemed. The way he gazed was as if there were memory behind them he wished to be rid of. "I will keep you all as guests, for as long as you have dire need. My warning is that each of you will be earning your keep while staying in my valley... In answer to your other question; no. The man was not one born of the Skyblaze, yet he was a sworn ally of theirs during the Great Wars."

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Re: Fearless on my Breath

PostPosted by MankouZero » Tue Mar 25, 2014 2:41 am

The sun was rising slowly it seemed. That was just how the mountains blocked the light of it.

The natural beauty of the area was a marvel in and of itself, in the dim shade of the ancient hills.

The promise of Spring was shown in the budding on the tips of the branches. Green was beginning to burst from around the countless rusted blades. Late winter flowers were in bloom.

What was far less welcoming ended up being the house Musashi led them to. The foundation looked intact enough, yet everything else above was a disaster. It was not much more now than a pile of timber, in fact.

"An earth tremor leveled my hut the night before. Which brings us to the first lesson in training." Musashi said, uncovering a cloth tarp to reveal a work bench, many tools, and a scroll shelf full of building plans. "You are going to build a house to fit you all, a bathhouse, and a dojo. With diligence this will be accomplished in seven full days. No more."

"You want us to rebuild your house? That's supposed to be training?" said Mankou, feeling his spirits sink like his sword did as he let it fall from his shoulder to the ground.

"That is Takeda Katsuyori's blade you hold there. I saw him receive it during his coronation as a general." Musashi said, coming closer to the boy. "During the forgotten age, it was used by a man who fought for the independence of his people from a ruthless dictator. He fought hard and well, until a clever trap got the better of him. They slew the patriot in a public execution. The man's wife blessed it with her tears, and for that reason the sword will cry for eternity over the love lost by death. On it were inscribed words of an ancient language that simply state "All men die, few truly live." Part of this lesson is to teach you how to live. Not as a war torn legend of old that will only bring tears to those who hold your memory, but a living legend that inspires all who hear of you. This is part of the Way as I have come to find. And it is this Way that I will instruct you."

"You can count me out, dude. I don't mind camping out. 'Cause the last thing on my mind after a few weeks of tracking through Samurai territory is wood work."

"Nonsense! This is just like before the war broke out. Manual labor is one of the best things for training, especially for Team 2!" chimed Moe.

"That's right, Moe sensei! Let's get some work done. That bathhouse sounds good no matter how hard it is to make." said Jesheru, quick to agree with anything he could find a brighter side of.

Joy looked indifferent, yet quietly was inclined to agree with Kyouichi that this was the type of thing to pay someone else to do. This was how she always viewed the manual labor they did back in the village, like Meo had mentioned.

Mari was loath to even touch any tool, heaven forbid she even use one. She eyed the others, waiting for who ever it was to pass her a tool so she could smite them in her anger.

Higanashi was confused like Mankou at the way this was turning out. Much like the mystery behind his friend brought them closer, so Higanashi's curiosity drew him to Musashi now as well. He could not refuse anything that could allow for him to learn more from this swordsman.

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Re: Fearless on my Breath

PostPosted by MankouZero » Fri Mar 28, 2014 11:46 pm

"There are four Ways in which men pass through life; as gentlemen, farmers, artisans and merchants."

"Excuse me, Miyamoto sensei," interrupted Moe. "Just thought I'd point out that not all of us are men."

"Or human." Joy added, under her breath.

"Before I teach the Way of the gentleman warrior," continued Musashi. "You will practice the way of the artisan; the carpenter. You will observe the similarities between the Way of carpentry and the Way of strategy. Study this diligently."

"Why can't we just learn the Way of strategy by itself?" asked Mankou.

"Because you practice strategy immaturely. It was once said "Immature strategy is the cause of grief." And the way you earlier ignored the possibility of me being armed only to allow me unchallenged to disarm you within a moment showed much grief." the sage like samurai replied bluntly. He then pointed to a wooded area on the other side of the valley. "That is where you will find timber. Moe will be the foreman. Mankou will be her assistant."

The two mentioned looked at each other oddly. Moe felt more comfortable working with Jesheru, being he was the most willing and cooperative person she ever worked with in her life. The way this Mankou presented himself seemed to be as one who tends to work better on his own. Perhaps Musashi could instantly pick up on this, and used this as a means of testing? It reminded her of when she was in Koushi sensei's team. She wanted to work closer with her friend Elice, yet Koushi always sent her out with Susumu. Their personality differences clashed heavily at first. But over time, they were able to set those differences and work together to overcome the difficulties that surfaced. Team 4 would always be a reminder even in times like this. Moe wondered how Mankiu would learn from the experience.

Like the others, he was too worried about having to spend a whole week on construction.
"Anything but chopping trees." Kyouichi said with a groan.

"You and you will work the rice fields for the meals." Musashi then said, pointing to Kyouichi and Mari.

"That isn't what I had in mind." said Kyouichi.

Mari let out a huff.
"There is no way I'm working any fields." she said, crossing her arms with a defiant stomp.

"Then there is no way you will be eating tonight, or the days hereafter." said Musashi. "A Koumori should be proud to work a field, as I am sure they still do to this day in Chiroptera woods. That and a young woman of your stature is better suited for field work than wood work."

"Pride, shmide. My inner peace is going to waist over this." Kyouishi said, not too excited to work with miss prissy pants either.

"A man can spend a life age and more on a hill, and still not find true inner peace. This is because peaceful union of the mind body and soul is something heaven sent. No amount of effort, in excess or lack will achieve inner peace." came another wise saying from Musashi.

"I would love to work the fields, sir!" said Jesheru. He didn't see a change in expression from either of the other two. "It's been a while since I've worked an open field."

"I do not doubt you, young Soratodai. Yet more hands are required for the wood work."

Jesheru and Kyouichi both thought of their first homes and their families. Kyouichi wondered if he was doing alright by himself with the "pops." Jesheru wondered if his mother Deidra was feeling any better, as she was deathly ill when he was called away on this mission. All the talk of fields and work brought back some normality to the lives of most of the shinobi that made the work itself seem less menial.

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Re: Fearless on my Breath

PostPosted by MankouZero » Sun Mar 30, 2014 7:12 pm

"Let's just get those trees here already. Get everyone to get their butts in gear." said Mankou, just glancing over the building plans and maps.

"We can't just go and do. We need a set way of going about this; a plan. Strategy is what Musashi sensei is trying to teach us with this, so let's use strategy to deal with it." Moe said, putting the papers back in front of Mankou after he had brushed them aside. "There's a route mapped out for carting the wood over. It seems a little long, though..."

"Plus, we don't have enough hands to spare to help push the cart and do all the masonry work at the same time..." said Mankou. A grin beamed from Jesheru's face as he went ecstatic.

"Taru II can help with that!" he said, encouraging a nod from Moe.

"Jesheru kun here is from the Soratodai clan, whom their family summons happens to be big strong oxen. Couldn't ask for a better beast of burden than a Soratodai summon. " Moe said, getting a nod from Mankou as well.

Joy unfurled a scroll phased from within her thick Ryuujin skin. In one fluid motion, the dragoness drew blood and launched a summoned stream of heavy axes. They each sang through the air, landing through the trunks of several trees nearly at once. Afterward, an oversized black beast let out a grunt while steamrolling down the woods.

"That's it, Taru! Let's get these logs underway!" shouted Jesheru from atop the giant bull. Taru the Second was built just like his predecessor who was the companion summon of none other than Soratodai Adamu, Jesheru's uncle. His yolk, a massive iron bar swayed as the bull charged the logs to the cart meat to haul them. "We'll have everything built in no time!"

"Assuming your new friends have the stone and paper all figured out." Taru flared as his muscles powered through the weeds and brush. The bull made it look quite easy. With muscles that had enough power to crack a boulder, it really was easy.


"Feel free to jump in at any moment." Kyouichi said to Mari as he slopped more rice into his basket. The basket in front of Mari was quite empty. "There's plenty of rice to go around."

The rice fields were some several hundred yards along several singular fields leading down hill in well irrigated steps to the bottom of the valley. Mari's eyes were focused on the water. She was worried how things were going to end up between her and her novice. No matter how long she had the thought on her mind, Mari still couldn't work the nerve to approach Mankou based on her inner feelings. She still referred to him as novice, finding ways to comment on his shortcomings. For whatever reason, that's what her feelings came out as. And now she was stuck in some field while Mankou was working with a more mature woman. Jealousy was easy for Mari, even over simple things.

A clot of rice and dirt in her hair suddenly broke her thoughts. Then Mari was lambasting Kyouichi with threatening words and fists for another half an hour.

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Re: Fearless on my Breath

PostPosted by MankouZero » Wed May 14, 2014 5:55 pm

Musashi had not been seen the whole afternoon. With what rice Kyouichi gathered, there was a small and late lunch for the crew. Moe dictated Mari get the smallest portion for giving the smallest amount of effort the Chuunin had ever seen in a Genin.

When they got back to work, the combined efforts of the crew managed to set the framework atop the foundation.

Mari was put on dish duty. She cursed the rest with her eyes, and took a break whenever their eyes strayed too far from her.

By sundown, they had the entire inner, outer, and roof framework done.

The entire group had gotten a feeling of those they were unfamiliar with.

By the time the moon was seen gleaming over the western mountains, the group had given up on waiting for Musashi to show up.

He was discovered the next morning, gazing at the river with his back to the group. Saying very little otherwise, Musashi lightly commented their work then went about into the mists that gathered again over the night.

The great progress they had made on the framework was shattered by several occasions where the roof they attempted to place upon it collapsed. It was at this time Mari became of some use as she started to apply a foundation seal she happened to know, making it possible to finally get the house to at least look like a house. The following day was spent on the furnishings, then the foundation of the dojo.

Once more, the group was split. One crew was put to work on the bath house under the guidance of Moe. The rest were placed under Mankou to finish the dojo. Three nights fell until the sixth morning when they awoke to the sound of a light rain. Spring was on the way. Musashi was waiting at the door.

"The men shall accompany me to the prefectural governor's office." he said.

"Pft! Men. That's an overstatement, if I ever heard one." commented Joy, with Jesheru being the only one hurt by such words.

"Wait a minute! Are you turning us in now, after all we did for you?" said Kyouichi presumptuously.

"I must register our land, and the new inhabitants. There would be no better way to disguise shinobi than to register them as typical Raikou citizens." said Musashi, motioning to Higanashi. He responded with a nod and moved to open a closet that contained traditional style kimono garments, one for every member of the crew. Musashi had set the boy aside privately to work on them, and they were ready for their intended purpose.

At once, they were off for the city. A little more effort was needed in Kyouichi's disguise, I. The form of a bandanna. The goggles were the only offsetting accessory, along with the extra hair around the edges. It just gave him a more rugged look.

Musashi left the women with his apologies for the rudeness of a male dominated society, and with the permission to make first use of the bathhouse as recompense.

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