|Areas of Expertise||Water Manipulation, Wave Manipulation, Senjutsu, Chakra Shaping, Scroll Mastery|
|Clan||Turtle Sage (formerly Inuzuka/Jinchuuriki)|
|Affiliation||Kumogakure (formerly Konohagakure)|
|Ninja Rank||Jounin/Military Commander/General?|
|Elder Cousin||Inuzuka Atsuro|
|Elder Cousin||Inuzuka Taiki|
|Adopted Cousin||Inuzuka Soren|
Born sixteen years ago in Konohagakure, Inuzuka Takeo was the son of proud parents Daiki and Haruki. Both were Chuunin in service to the Leaf, and both were often required in the field for this task or that. It's for this reason that he was often left in the care of his close clan, one member after the next rotating between the responsibility of rearing the infant. Takeo was introduced before long to Kota, the pup who would be his Ninken. All indications were that he was an especially strong, vibrant child with a good future ahead of him.
Of course, things change, as they would change many times over in Takeo's life. Throughout the years of his early growth, the boy began to exhibit an attitude and rebellious tendencies. Such things were to be expected from an Inuzuka, up to a point, but there seemed to be no improvement on the horizon for Takeo. Still, he obeys out of interest when pressed to begin combat training with his family. His first weapons are his fists and a kunai, and while he would become proficient with the latter, the former was always his favorite. So much more visceral to deliver a solid punch. They also teach him more practical arts, such as building fires and basic wound tending.
Stability finally found its way into Takeo's life at age seven. Inuzuka Katashi, his Jounin uncle, returns to the village after an extended mission abroad and takes custody of the boy. It doesn't take long for Katashi, so full of presence, so bring a previously disobedient Takeo to heel. When his uncle said jump, Takeo aimed for the highest possible fence in hopes of appeasing him. Katashi taught his nephew basic fighting techniques, yet elected to leave the finer points of training to the Academy, which he fully intended to pull strings with to ensure Takeo's entry.
Takeo was indeed approved for entry as a Student of the Academy at age eight. Uncle Katashi leaned a bit on the instructors, which no doubt helped them overlook the boy's less than stellar attitude. They had no choice but to credit the fact that he did come with some combat and survival training, but in their bias, none of them expected much from him. Assessment revealed that he had the most potential with Taijutsu, and chakra paper revealed an affinity for water, so instructors were appointed to focus in upon both areas. So began Takeo and Kota's journey toward the rank of Genin.
Despite a gradually increasing lack of commitment on his part toward his academic studies, Takeo still does well with the shinobi arts. He shows himself to be a far more skilled Taijutsuist than had been previously thought, in fact. When the time comes for the decision to be made, he's placced as a Genin. It's at this point that Uncle Katashi becomes a presence in his life once more. He'd heard about his nephew's promotion, which he was proud of, but there was a thing or two said that day about rumors of Takeo slacking off on his studies. He wanted to see his boy (as he'd begun to call him) pass the Chuunin exams before he died, and he'd whip him back into order if he had to.
Uncle Katashi was motivational, needless to say. Takeo's desire (coerced or otherwise) to make the old man proud pulled him out of the morass of indifference and back into proper service and training. Between missions as a Genin, he studied hard with both his Taijutsu and Ninjutsu, proving himself both a capable and rather tough young man in due time. Never one to go down easily, and certainly not one to give up without a fight. When the Chuunin Exams came along after so many missions and so much training, Takeo made it through. Those who had once doubted him were forced to swallow their pride and issue the promotion they never thought would come, just about two years after he achieved Genin.
From the day of his graduation through the two years to follow, Takeo would carry out the duties of a Chuunin with dedication unforeseen by his instructors while continuing to train. Oh, he still had the attitude, but the Inuzuka also had an unmatched love for his homeland driving his actions. Always devoted to his comrades, always to the mission. Most teams who had him among their number were pleased to benefit from his expertise, and those he led could feel his palpable confidence - and hear his angrily shouted (but well intended) "wisdom" when they made mistakes. Something he picked up from his uncle. On the whole, he appeared to have a promising career ahead.
There seemed to be something fateful about the span of two years in Takeo's life. Once again, it would bring change. Nara Kaito, Jinchuuriki of the Three-Tails, had been slain earlier in this tenth year and his Bijuu sealed ever since as the village was combed for a successor. One day, as unlikely as it seemed, they narrowed Takeo down as the best option. He had the fortitude of body to survive the binding, and as much or more important, the strength of will to coexist and perhaps even become one with Isobu. The Hokage and the village's wisest elders approached him to ask that he fulfill a task like none other, and for the sake of his people, Takeo agreed.
Takeo laid down upon the altar as the scroll binding the Three-Tails was brought out for the ceremony. What followed was perhaps one of the most briefly nightmarish experiences of his life, as the ritual to transfer the Bijuu into his body was carried out. A tremendous flow of living chakra, at once meek and wrathful, flowed into his body and was then trapped there by way of a seal created upon his stomach. In a moment's time, every doubt about his own strength surfaced as he felt Isobu's presence in the closest of possible ways. Such anger, and such power! For the next day, human and Bijuu would have a meeting of the minds, and Takeo lacked the advantage of familiarity which Kaito had built. Nevertheless, he insisted to Isobu (who he addressed by name from the start) that they were going to be as one, because he'd given up too much for anything else to happen.
Fortunately for Konohagakure, Takeo emerged from the melding alive and himself. Every day would be a battle to keep Isobu contained, with the beast speaking to his mind at will, but he gritted his teeth and dealt with it. News spread fast, and most of his family as well as the village turned their backs on him in fear. Even Kota, his Ninken, was frightened away by the new scents emanating from his master. For some reason, Takeo had even lost knowledge of how to work alongside Kota in battle. The Ninken broke the bond and was returned to the Inuzuka village, much to Takeo's mourning. It seemed as though everyone had abandoned him for doing the right thing.
It was a relief that there was one person who wouldn't betray him in that way. Senji Daisuke, Hokage of the village, was a fellow Jinchuuriki and his new sensei. It was from him that he was to learn control over his Bijuu and the power that comes along with the wrath. They've been together for just under a full month, and in that time, Takeo's gained a certain respect for Daisuke. He's also learned a thing or two. Unfortunately, that doesn't include not spending too much time in the hot springs, not getting drunk on sake, or not chasing tail (all of which the Hokage has had to drag him back from). Some things never change, whether one carries a Tailed Beast within or not.
Over time and with training meant as much to assess as to teach, Takeo has revealed affinities an uncomfortable capability to use Wave Manipulation, and Coral Manipulation by extension — talents used to great effect by the Hokage's old friend, Kaito. However, Takeo also manifested a new ability so far unique to Isobu's hosts, the ability to generate temporary imitations of the Three-Tails' shell upon various parts of his body. He's adapted this into a Taijutsu style to replace his lost knowledge of Four Legged Taijutsu, calling it Sanbi Shell Taijutsu instead (nobody ever claimed he was creative).
There's a long road ahead for Takeo, but he is determined to do well by his comrades and his people, even if they hate and fear him. He only hopes, in the privacy of his own thoughts, that the loneliness he feels now will not be a lasting sensation.
Over the course of time, Takeo grew into a fine young man. No less eccentric or vice-ridden, but ever more committed to Konohagakure and to his art. He defended the village when he could, went to the aid of outsiders whenever possible, and continued to lead Team Phoenix. All said, not quite the wild youth he'd been around when he was first given Isobu to carry and protect.
As it turns out, Takeo and Isobu would develop a bond of friendship seldom achieved between Jinchuuriki and Bijuu. Takeo was unfailingly loyal to his initial promise that he'd never treat the Tailed Beast like a tool or weapon, and that dedication carried its weight in trust. However, there came a time when Takeo had to have mastery over Isobu's chakra for his own abilities and life to progress. With the assistance of Atsuro and Kenta, he outwitted Isobu in a mental battle, thus becoming a master Jinchuuriki in his own right.
Around the same time, on 11/16/11 A.F., Takeo was promoted to the rank of Tokubetsu Jounin in recognition of his efforts and refined expertise with Water Ninjutsu. Not precisely a common talent in the Land of Fire. He is quite proud of himself for having come so far, but he isn't resting on his laurels. Already, the young man has his sights set on the rank of full Jounin, and endeavors to show his readiness for that title with all the heroics he and his team can muster.
Things have also developed considerably in Takeo's personal life. Once, after the binding, he was reviled and separated even from his own people. Now, he is Inuzuka again (if only by name) and respected within his village, with a host of friends to call his own. After becoming a master Jinchuuriki and thus securing control over his own power, Takeo also felt safe in proposing to Atsuro. He wishes for their partnership to be made an official matter, declared by tradition via the elders of their clan.
In the tenth month of 12 AF, Takeo was along with Kenta to escort Taiki on a mission. Mysterious seals had been cropping up around the village and they were to nip the problem in the bud. Little did they suspect, the whole thing was a trap laid by the Recluse, and the target wasn't even the mighty Taiki — it was Takeo. By the end of a short battle, he had been kidnapped and stolen away from Konoha.
For three days, Takeo resisted attempts to steal Isobu while awaiting rescue. He poured all of his own chakra in, a bit at a time, if only to make them clear it away. He splashed their faces with water to spite them. Ultimately, the shinobi from Konohagakure did arrive to rescue him … Too late. The Recluse had succeeded at last at extracting Isobu and placing him within a statue, which the Konoha shinobi also managed to recover. Some patchwork surgery from Kenta barely managed to keep Takeo alive where Bijuu extraction should have killed him.
Takeo required three months to be declared fully healed. Extensive surgery was required to repair his body and chakra circuits, but he ended up joining the exceptionally short list of ex-Bijuu survivors. This was not a good thing in Takeo's mind, as he had become a master Jinchuuriki and quite attached to Isobu. As they were being ripped apart, Isobu conveyed to Takeo a message of importance about what he needed to do next. He heard it, but for quite some time, pain blinded him to that memory.
Once he was up and about again, Takeo regained his prowess as a water ninjutsuist, less anything which required Isobu. He was dramatically weakened as a shinobi by the loss of his friend, but Isobu had provided him with knowledge of how to fill that hole. The next step in his life. He pondered on the matter day and night, remembering the word 'turtles' above all else. Then, one day, it clicked. Takeo realized where he needed to go in order to start down the path Isobu had dictated as a final gesture of friendship.
Permission or no, the Tokubetsu was clearly bound for the road along with anyone who wanted to follow, destination uncertain …
There was a time when one could've accurately summed Takeo up as being a committed, loyal ass of a man. He lacked propriety and he was more often than not rough in his manners, but his village could always count on him. That's exactly why he agreed to become Jinchuuriki and carry the Three Tails at a young age, sacrificing ties to many in the process. For a time, he thought that he was bearing a curse for the sake of his people.
That would change. Takeo's views slowly shifted as he got to know Isobu and slowly befriended him, a difficult task. People in the village started to fear him less, one at a time. Through a willingness to do good deeds and consistent respect for Isobu, the world slowly became a brighter place. By the time Takeo became a master Jinchuuriki, he was a happy man at peace with himself and given a purpose in life. Care for the Bijuu he'd mastered and protect the people of Konohagakure who he love.d
Then, the Recluse came. They tortured him for three days before finally managing to rip Isobu away from him, just before the rescue team could stop the process. A surgical miracle saw him join the very short list of living ex-Jinchuuriki, and he regained all of his abilities which didn't require Isobu. However, he retained echoes of his Bijuu in his conduct even then. His Jinchuuriki seals remains on his stomach as a scar, and in his mind, he retains final words from Isobu concerning the path he should next follow with his life.
It would be fair to say that Takeo is not the same person now, and who would be? A colossal part of himself was stolen, taken, torn away from him and a void left behind in his heart and soul. The carefree, free spirited man seemed to disappear in favor of a dismal outlook on things. He concerns himself for the moment primarily with Isobu's last words, perhaps hoping that they will prove to be a salve for his spiritual pain.
|Key Traits||Confident, crude, cunning, determined, devoted, unswervingly loyal, wise|
|Likes||Training, hot springs (especially with comrades), time with comrades, trying to get drunk|
|Dislikes||Indifferent failures, harm done to comrades, lost battles or missions, uptight individuals|
|Favourite Food||Beef Stew|
|Sense of Humour||Crude|
|Pastimes||Training, chasing tail (formerly), drinking, working out, teaching water ninjutsu|
|Hair||Extremely Dark Brown, Nearly Black|
|Body||Muscular; 6'1" tall, 170lbs|
|Upper Body Clothing||Open white longcoat with leaves and waves, Leaf headguard|
|Lower Body Clothing||Loose blue trousers|
|Feet||Open-toed blue sandals|
|Equipment||Kunai, leg pouch, protective bandaging|
|Tattoos||Scar shaped like the elaborate seal once tattooed upon the stomach, centered with the Uzumaki symbol; Inuzuka facial tattoos|
It's readily apparent that this male is still in his prime, perhaps the later teens venturing toward twenties. He stands somewhat giantish at just over six feet, with an equally impressive effort invested into sculpting a powerful physique for his years. The trained musculature is particularly apparent across his abdomen and along his arms, both of which are bulky, rather than being lean and taut. It would appear as though he was fashioned for brute force. Notably, his fingernails extend into bestial claws. As well, he has a very prominent scar upon his stomach in the shape of a spiral framed with intricate symbols. This resembles a Jinchuuriki's seal sans the ink. It looks to be risen from the flesh, rather than cut into it, making it a very odd trait indeed.
The procession into manhood has stripped the baby fat away from the youth's face, leaving behind something much more masculine in structure. His jaw comes to a squared base prior to descending into a more angular chin, providing a solid frame for the remainder his countenance. The youth's nose is straight, and his brow is somewhat heavy, causing him to possess what seems like a naturally thoughtful countenance. Said brow looms over his black eyes, which possess slits rather than normal irises. At the same time, pronounced canines sometimes poke out from behind his lips. The young man has a mane of hair so dark brown as to almost look black, which he ties back into a topknot; there is a great deal of excess hair left to hang down against his back. Of particular note are the red fangs tattooed upon his face, one gracing either cheek, making him look only more feral.
On the whole, when combined with his physical characteristics, the youth's appearance is that of the stereotypical warrior. He wears no tunic, leaving his chest and most of his abdomen bare, with only the lower half of the latter bandaged. Instead, an open fronted white robe with long sleeves is draped about his person, a pattern of swirling blue water and green leaves gracing its bottom. His loose pants are blue, with a kunai pouch strapped to his right leg and the cuffs concealed within yet more bandaging. Blue sandals cover most of his feet but are left open at the front, lest his clawed toes puncture the cloth. Completing the unusual uniform is a blue bandana with a metal forehead guard, upon which the symbol of the Hidden Leaf is etched.
|Inuzuka Atsuro||Distant Elder Cousin/Mate||Takeo is so much like a younger Atsuro that it's nearly unreal. As such, it's no surprise that they got along early and never let up. Takeo discovered in time that he had feelings for Atsuro above and beyond those of the usual fling. In 11 AF, he revealed this, and they became mates. Takeo even proposed to Atsuro, and was rejected for want of more time, but they remained together. He even got Atsuro to take an engagement necklace. He's not giving up!|
|Inuzuka Taiki||Elder Cousin||Another older cousin. Taiki was furious when he first heard that Takeo had been all but exiled by the clan, without even knowing the reason. He had Takeo's former ninken punished and scolded the rest of the clan. When they finally did meet, Takeo found him far too serious, as Taiki vowed to never abandon him or turn his back. It was, at least, a good chance to tease him about how romantic that sounded. Taiki is also one of Takeo's sensei, and his political superior. Taiki went out on a limb by declaring Takeo an elder of the clan, the youngest on the council.|
|Inuzuka Soren||Adopted Cousin||Takeo doesn't know this one so well, save that he was apparently adopted. That's a curiosity in itself, an adopted Inuzuka. Soren didn't mind the Tailed Beast issue - he didn't even know what a Jinchuuriki was - and they shared lunch together once.|
|Inuzuka Clan||Native Clan||At one time, Takeo's clan virtually turned its back on him due to fear of his Jinchuuriki status. This changed with effort, and he would go on to be accepted by his people once more, even if he lacks their sense of smell or ability to bond with a ninken (traits lost when he became Bijuu). Clan Head Taiki saw fit to appoint Takeo as a member of the elder council, making him - scandalously, for the old farts - the youngest elder in the clan and a figure of leadership.|
|Senju Daisuke||Hokage/Former Guardian Sensei||Following Isobu's imprisonment within him, Takeo was transferred to the Hokage's legal guardianship and tutelage. Takeo was young at the time and found Daisuke to be stifling, but he kept his student focused. In retrospect, he's very grateful for the lessons and the care the Hokage offered him. He thinks of him as a father figure (doubly so because of his status as legal guardian), which Daisuke hates, but one can't doubt his loyalty to the man. They even dress alike. Now that Takeo has lost Isobu, it's likely that they may drift apart.|
|Inuzuka Taiki||Sensei||In addition to being his Clan Head, Taiki was also once assigned as one of Takeo's sensei. The then young Jinchuuriki was commanded to behave himself, pay attention, show respect, so forth. Taiki knew he wouldn't and seemed to accept that, but at the core, Takeo does respect him. His wisdom is invaluable, and Taiki came wrathfully to his defense when the Inuzuka turned their backs on the Jinchuuriki like the other villagers once did. Taiki is no longer his sensei, but they are doubtless still close.|
|Akiyama Kenta||Med-Nin||Takeo considers Akiyama Kenta to be his best friend, even family. He, along with Atsuro, were the two early shinobi to show him acceptance and kindness after the binding of the Bijuu. Much later on, Takeo would recruit Kenta to be the lieutenant of Team Phoenix. He's also respected in battle by the Jinchuuriki. He may be small, but he's a deadly little guy when pressed.|
|Team Phoenix||Subordinates||Takeo is the leader of Team Phoenix, a team intended for young, particularly gifted Leaf shinobi. He formed the group with a vision of molding the next generation of heroes for their village, and he respects each of them for their specialties. Alone, they're skilled but incomplete. Together, they're a force not to be reckoned with.|
|The Recluse||Evil Organization||Takeo had done battle with this group of highly skilled, malevolent shinobi on a number of occasions. Ultimately, he would become their target. They kidnapped Takeo in an ambush and, over the course of three days, traumatically ripped he and Isobu apart. Takeo wasn't the same after the fact, as a person or in power, and had only Isobu's parting words to guide him. However, let there be no mistake: after what happened, the Recluse are now Takeo's most bitter enemies, to the point that he might lose control when faced with a chance to destroy them.|
|Isobu||Three-Tails Bijuu||Isobu and Takeo were quite literally stuck with each other, the former being bound within the latter's body. The young Inuzuka is simultaneously a prison for the Three-Tails and what allows it to think above a bestial level. Over the years, they developed a deep friendship based upon a promise that Isobu would never be used as an enslaved tool or weapon, and Isobu would allow use of his chakra to defend Konohagakure. In time, Takeo briefly released Isobu to take him on, outwitting him and becoming a Master Jinchuuriki. Rather than grudgingly accepting this, Isobu was proud of his student's growth and accepted mastery without complaint. In late 12 AF, Isobu was forcibly taken from Takeo by the Recluse, a traumatic event which left a great hole in his heart. Only Isobu's last words as to the new path he should follow offered the hope of solace.|
Where are father and mother? How should I know? I haven't seen either of them in a long time; the village always has them off on missions. Someone told me that father's likely to make Jounin, so that probably explains half of it. Other Inuzuka have been raising me like their own, and I've been learning from them the basics of how to fight. They put a kunai in my hands as soon as I could hold one, and before that, I was just taught to my hands alone. I've always liked that best.
Others don't think I hear their whispers about me, but I do. They say that I'm a rebellious boy, a troublemaker. He's bad even for an Inuzuka, they mutter. What do they know? I'm passed from one family to the next, never knowing anyone, never having the stability they take for granted. I have to look out for myself, and that's what I intend to do. If that means breaking some other boy's nose to stick up for myself, he probably deserved it. I'm not dishonorable, after all.
I've heard that Uncle Katashi's coming back from his mission abroad soon. He's already a Jounin, and the family I'm staying with says he intends to take custody of me. Just what I need, someone claiming me like an orphan!
Maybe I spoke too soon. Uncle Katashi's a hardass, there's no doubt about that, but I can respect his skills. If he slaps you across the face, he always follows it up with an explanation of what you did wrong and how to do it properly. Some of the other young people snicker and say he has me taken to heel. They're right, and if Uncle was their lord and master, they'd be in exactly the same position.
Uncle Katashi's been training me hard in the basics of combat. I don't mean that childish stuff the others taught, but real world with a katana and my fists. He says he's doing it because he sees a promising shinobi in me, and if it's the last thing he does, he's gonna see me in the Academy. He just kept going on about that until, at last, it happened.
After a bit of leaning on the instructors by Uncle, I've was taken into the Academy as a student. You could see by the looks on their faces that they doubted I'd get anywhere, which was all the more encouragement to prove them wrong. I studied my Taijutsu, my Ninutsu, my Kenjutsu. The Genjutsu, well … It's sort of a family thing that we suck at it. I think it's a cowardly art, anyway.
After quite a few missions, most of which were simple stuff, the Chuunin Exams came along. This was my big chance to make it to the adult ranks of the Leaf shinobi, so to speak. I fought with all my heart and crushed my opponents in every match. You don't know how satisfying it was to see those instructors who'd looked down upon me swallow their own tongues rather than apologize. Still, they had to admit that I'd passed. I'm Chuunin.
I guess I'm not as diligent with this journal as I need to be. Two years since my last entry, two years as a Chuunin. I've worked with teams, and I've led groups on missions, myself. They say I'm a good shinobi when I'm not being a crass asshole, but hey, nobody's perfect. At least I get the job done, right? That's what it means to be devoted, to do honor to the Will of Fire. You never go under when the good of village is at stake.
Suppose tonight got me writing because I was paid a visit today by, of all people, the Hokage and some of the elders. They want me to do something big, something that's probably going to cost me everything in my life. Nara Kaito died, so they told me, and they had to seal the Three-Tails away until a new Jinchuuriki could be found. The Hokage needed someone strong enough of body to survive the binding, and steeled in will to endure the Bijuu's wrath. The only thing going for me is the fact that the Three-Tails is apparently meek at heart.
I agreed, and it was probably crazy of me to do so, but this is for the good of Konohagakure. The Three-Tails can't stay in that scroll forever; someone has to host him and harness his power for the good of all. It just turns out that I was the one person in all the village they thought had what it takes to do the job, or so they hope. Not exactly a vote of confidence for my surviving the binding ritual. Will I die? When I come out of it, will I even be myself?
Well, there are plenty of people who don't like the current me. If a new one shows up, maybe he'll have better luck.
I survived the binding. It was … Well, it's hard to explain. They tell me that I was delerious for an entire day, but that's not how I remember it. It only felt like a little while to me, and Isobu and I were talking the entire time. Whatever the seal they used is, it makes it look like he's in some kind of prison. Huge turtle with an eye like fire and a shell like steel. It's hard to believe that he's weak at the core, and he tried his best to hide it through his rumbling and threats. I barked back that he and I were going to get along, that we were going to be as one, because I'd given up everything to give him a host. I wasn't just a vessel for him to command. Almost seemed like he backed down a little.
Speaking of, I was right. Once rumors began to spread of Isobu - that's his name - being sealed within me, everyone turned their backs. Neither the village nor my own clan wanted anything to do with a fresh Jinchuuriki, because they feared me more than anything else. The binding even seemed to cut away what little of me was still Inuzuka. I kept my tattoos and my claws, but the knowledge? My Four Legged Style, so on? It's all gone, like I'd never trained in it. Either it was trauma from the melding, the elders say, or Isobu wants to replace it with others things. In time, they tell me I'll even know how to control the waves of the ocean and the coral at its bottom.
It's all just so strange. Isobu can talk to my mind, and I can do the same thing in reverse, but I keep forgetting to. People think I'm crazy because I'm neglecting to use the telepathy and speaking out loud. Oh, and did I mention the shell? Yeah, apparently I'm the first Jinchuuriki who can sprout Isobu's shell on his own body. It just lasts for a little bit, but it's a strong as the real thing. Rather than letting it run wild, I learned to control it, and then I turned it into a new kind of Taijutsu to replace what I'd forgotten in Isobu's binding. It's just claws to start with, but that'll change with time. It's useful if you try and forget about the freakishness factor.
Now, I'm under the custody of the Hokage himself. He's a Jinchuuriki, too, so I suppose he understands and can guide me. Still, he won't let me have any fun. No going to get drunk, no hours-long soaks in the hot springs. It's always focus this, train that, or Isobu will run wild. As if I'd let that wimp win over my spirit! That's how things are, though. Imagine just being handed a mass of chakra like you've never seen, with a mind of its own, and being trusted to use it wisely. Of course not. So, I do listen to the Hokage. He just thinks I don't.
Sensei didn't tell me to do this, but I figured it was about time for Isobu and I to have a talk. Not his rambling in my head, but a face to face. A little meditation and we finally met. Let's just say that he's one helluva big turtle, and not the kind that looks I'd want to mess with. Funny thing is, he was as timid as I thought on the outside. That's not a bad thing, though. Timid people are smart, wise. They think about their actions, rather than raging as the other Bijuu do.
We spoke for a while and came to a conclusion I'd hoped for, and with far less difficulty than expected. He was unhappy that I wasn't Kaito, but at the same time, he realized that having me meant having a mind. We spoke about my wish to defend Konohagakure. I asked him to lend me his power toward that cause, and in return, I'd never treat him like a beast or a weapon to be used. I'd always call him by his true name and show him respect. We'd eventually become one.
The appeal got through to him. He told me that he didn't care about Konohagakure, but there was value in the rest of my words, and so he decided to support me. Isobu opened that bottomless well of chakra that is his body, and having it flow into me was almost more than I could handle. I did it, though. When I came to in the flesh and blood world, I found that I could now tap into Isobu's power and begin using it to transform as the other Jinchuuriki do.
Sometimes, you know, a gift can be a curse at the same time. Remember how I wrote the last time around that Isobu had opened his chakra up to me? He wasn't kidding. Isobu himself seems to tolerate me, in his angry way, but it's like there's no end to the energy within him. Imagine a raging storm, and then imagine it's trapped inside of you and trying to get out. You have to constantly try and hold it in. That's what this is is like, and it'll stay that way until I become a master.
I didn't give up, though. If I had let all of that chakra burst free, then Isobu might've followed and caused a helluva lot of trouble for everyone. Instead, I started to meditate more and speak to Isobu on a regular basis. He told me that the chakra wasn't simply there to be there - I had to learn to control and shape it, and that meant accepting reflections of him. Understanding what he meant, I looked to the partial release I'd mastered and tried to move beyond it. I was sure that Daisuke would flay my ass for pushing ahead without his permission, but it felt like something I had to do.
All of that effort paid off when, at last, I gave form to my cloak and sprouted my first of three tails. I won't lie: it was an incredible feeling. As a taijutsuist, I've never felt power with ninjutsu like I had while harnessing Isobu's tail, and that's just the first one! Everything about the techniques I'd learned was just plain more powerful. I could cast water at a rock and shear it cleanly in half, and there wasn't even much effort to it. I can even create more turtleshell in other places on my body since I learned. Now, maintaining the tail's another story in terms of what's demanding.
This is a big step. My first tail, and I didn't lose control. It's a good sign that they were right, and I really was meant to be the big turtle's host. Isobu's happy (or as happy as a pissed chakra beast can get), I'm happy, but I don't expect the Hokage to be too thrilled.
I met today with the Hokage in hopes of training some, but really, it was an excuse go to and tell him about my mastering my first tail. Figured I'd go take my lashes and move on. What I didn't expect is that Taiki was right behind me, and he knew by my scent that I was there. That's one of those things I miss, the Inuzuka nose.
It was an interesting meeting between the three of us. Daisuke actually wasn't angry about my pressing onward to my first tail without asking him. Cautious, like always, but not angry. After he listened to Taiki (and after they both lectured me about the value of secrecy), the Hokage proposed an idea. He'd continue to be my sensei when it comes to mastering Isobu's chakra, but Taiki should be my sensei when it comes to knowledge and wisdom. Maybe he even has some tricks to share.
There was plenty of emphasis about me having to be on my best behavior, disciplined, and so on under Taiki. As if I've ever been disciplined and well-behaved! I said that I'd do my best, and I wasn't hard to get along if you knew how to speak to me the right way. Almost told the Clan Head that this meant not having a stick up his ass, but he knew what I was gonna say, anyway! I think he'll try his best, and I can't get around giving the man credit; he's stuck up for me and the duty I took on like nobody else.
As far as other things, life's been fairly quiet. it's hard not to be when I'm restricted to the homeland, but there's news on that! Daisuke says that he'll let me do missions aboard again once I master the next step, my second tail. I'm focusing on that now, where my focus prior had been learning water ninjutsu. Isobu keeps going on about Kaito using something called Wave ninjutsu, and he thinks it's really important that I pick it up. I'm not Kaito, but Isobu insists, sometimes really loudly. I guess that's where the best of him lies.
Thanks to Atsuro-niisan, I had my first trip out of Konoha in quite a while. Since before Isobu was sealed within me, in fact. An honest to goodness mission. I was so excited that I forget to try and get flat out drunk the night before we left, not that having a Bijuu makes that entirely easy to do. Just one of the many little nightmarish charms to go along with my lifelong friend's company.
It didn't turn out to be anything much, really. Some village out of the way, but still here in the Land of Fire, was having a problem with a sickness going around. We had Kenta with us to see if he figure it out. Turns out some bandits were poisoning the lobster traps they set upstream, and the villagers - the ones who weren't allergic to lobster - ate their traditional stew at some kinda festival. End result shouldn't be shocking, but if you need to know, the ones who ate were the ones who got sick. Then, the bandits just had to wait and move in. Kicking their asses got my blood flowing again.
As for things on the Bijuu front, I've got this feeling that they're about to change. I like Isobu, and I think he and I have some kind of rapport, but I don't turn my back on him for a minute. He's still locked up like some kind of prisoner and plenty pissed about it. Just happens that he's a little more thoughtful about it than his siblings, I guess. Still, we're getting … closer? I guess that's the word. It wasn't all that long ago that he opened his chakra to me, and then I learned to harness it. A little at first, but then enough that I actually formed my first tail.
I'm starting to get feelings like that again. It's sort of a massive knot of chakra right at the center of me, just straining to get out. As far as I can tell, that's what it felt like just before I learned the steps I know in releasing Isobu's power. Eventually, you just learn to unwind the knot and there it is - another tail behind you, and another moment of being scared outta your wits by what you feel. People tend to think power's a good thing, see, but not so much when it comes from a raging beast. That first time you start using their power that way, and every time you take the next step, you wonder if they'll stick with you … Or, are they going to take the moment's weakness to rampage?
Still, I can't hold back. The Hokage set down those terms to me, and I've worked hard for the past while to achieve them. Master my second tail and I can take on missions outside of the Land of Fire. No more being babysitted, no more going back to my Genin days. Hell, some of the Genin get to do more adventurous things than I do. I'm not even certain I'll make it out to watch the Chuunin Exams, if they'd let me go in the first place. Seems like it was just yesterday when I made it through my own, and now I'm learning it all over again.
Speaking of. One thing that bothers me the most, even though I should've expected it, is the fact that I'm getting to be just as good with Ninjutsu as I am Taijutsu. For an Inuzuka, that's just wrong, even one developing his own style with this turtleshell Isobu's so generously shared. I used to think I'd just kick asses, for the most part, and that'd be it. Now, I've got no idea where I'm headed. It feels a bit like Isobu's pushing me to take on some of his more unique powers, some of the things Nara Kaito knew, which explains why I've become so good with water lately. Strange feeling, not knowing what you're becoming. Scary, even.
With the Chuunin Exams being on, I made the trip to Kumogakure to see who the next generation will be. It was nice to get away from Konohagakure for a little while. After all, this was the first lengthy trip I'd been able to make since before Isobu was bound within me. The walk there in itself was a breath of fresh air.
I can't say that I much enjoyed Kumogakure itself. It's not that the people were impolite or the village was inhospitable. Hell, they put up with me and my habits. They're a little stuffy, though. A little too hung up on discipline and honor. I enjoyed it, though, because it was an opportunity to meet new shinobi from abroad. I came to know some interesting people, and saw some exciting matches.
Given that I didn't want to accidentally rile up Isobu in a foreign land, I hid my true abilities and only had one match, with Kenta. I always thought of him as being this cute, shy little med-nin, but he can kick some ass! Without being able to bring the full extent of my powers, he was easily my match. I read people based upon how well they fight - Inuzuka habits, I guess - and he more than held his own. Makes me think of him for certain future plans.
That said, I didn't stay for the actual Exams. Kumogakure's nice to visit, but remaining there for weeks? I couldn't do it; the environment just wasn't me. A return to Konohagakure was met with both Kenta and Atsuro-niisan, so I guess I wasn't the only one who needed to draw breath in the Land of Fire.
Kind of ironic. I worked so hard to come to terms with Isobu so that I could travel abroad, and in the end, I wanted to come home. Maybe I really am as devoted to Konoha as I thought.
Prior to bonding with my Bijuu, I'd led missions as a Chuunin. People said that I was good at it. A little harsh, but for the sake of my team and its safety. Guess it's the alpha wolf Inuzuka in me, eh? Anyway. Seeing all of those diverse shinobi in Kumogakure made me think of how much Konoha needs a breath of fresh air in the form of a diverse, new team. Now that I'm less nervous about being around people with Isobu, I've decided to take on the burden.
Team Phoenix. Kenta thought that the team should have the name of a brave, courageous beast of some kind. The phoenix came to mind because it's a fiery creature, of course, but also because it rises from the ashes just like our team'll rise from the old. Maybe I'll even make Jounin off of this, but that remains to be seen. The foremost purpose on my mind is to see to it that Konohagakure's needs are met.
Kenta's agreed to be the team's med-nin, and having seen him fight, I don't really mind him being my second in command. My instincts tell me that his timidness would fall away in a moment of crisis. We need to grow from just two people, though. Kenta and I are scouring Konohagakure for the best we can find, and I want diversity, as well. Cover all of the corners, you know? We'll become famous for the good we can do for our people.
So, this is one hell of a shift in my life. Inuzuka Takeo, the Chuunin. Inuzuka Takeo, the isolated Jinchuuriki. Inuzuka Takeo, the twice accepted shinobi. Inuzuka Takeo, the team leader. If my dreams come true, the next step will be Inuzuka Takeo, the Jounin. I have cousins to catch up with.
I was afraid to get close to people after I joined with Isobu; you never know how he'd react. That was a pretty isolated time. Mostly the Hokage and myself. It took a while for the village to warm up to me again once word got out that I was the new Jinchuuriki, but they did. My own fears receeded as theirs did, and I've started to establish relationships again. Foreign acquaintances, friends, teachers. Then, there's the other stuff.
It's nobody's secret that I was pretty free with myself before the joining, and that's one of the few things Isobu didn't change about me when we were bonded. I've never seen the point of being reserved or shy about one's own body, with women or with men. I know that latter part's a little strange for some poeple, but most of them seem to shake it off. I'm glad for that, because all of my romances lately seem to end up being with men!
Atsuro-niisan and I play at a game of flirtation, usually instigated by myself, but he joins in. I have a feeling that it's going to become more than that in time. We're cousins, but who knows how many times removed, so what's the big deal? Then there's Soren. Kenta, too. I've got a feeling that Kenta and I have something more going than just a friendship, but only one side of the two realizes it so far. Maybe I'll have to take the next step and see where it leads. I don't want a settled relationship, but being a Jinchuuriki is … very lonely.
It's nice to get back to some things. Having Isobu in my head, watching and commentating all the while? That's strange, but it's life. It's worth it to know the comfort of another human's touch again. I've missed women, men. Acquaintances, friends. Romance. I can never truly be Inuzuka again - or even human, really - but I can be myself again, vices and all.
When I was first a Genin and then a Chuunin, I specialized in Taijutsu. It's practically Inuzuka tradition for us to learn the Four-Legged Style, and damned if I wasn't good at it. All of that knowledge was swept away with the tides when they sealed Isobu in my body, though. I'm not sure if it was the big turtle or just trauma from the ritual, but I forgot things I knew and suddenly knew things I'd never learned. Nothing shakes you quite like that.
I started retraining as soon as I could stand up again, and it was my assumption that I'd go back to being a Taijutsu expert. There wasn't going to be any more Four-Legged Style, though. My nin-ken partner had left in fear, and my senses had dulled (everything smells damp to me). However, Isobu had given me something he considered to be 'better' in the process. See, he let me manifest his shell on my body from the start, where normally it takes a master Jinchuuriki to manage such a thing. I started developing Sanbi Shell Taijutsu to use it.
Oddly enough, it doesn't seem to have been my destiny. Not yet. Isobu's insisted that I learn something his last host knew well, something called Wave Taijutsu. It's where the core of Isobu's true strength is. Even though I took issue with it, I relented and started practicing Ninjutsu. That's when I found that I had a talent for it which I didn't have before, and more so when I allow Isobu's tails to come forth. I can mark an achievement now in saying that I've surpassed the moderate Water Ninjutsu. B-rank is open to me. Make it to A-rank and I'll have what it takes.
Who knew that a brute like me would end up using Ninjutsu? I've come to appreciate the power of water, though. It can wash away earth, smother fire, even cut through iron. When it's blocked, it makes a new path. I expect something really special in this Wave Ninjutsu business. After that, though, I'm getting back to my new Taijutsu style and developing it with a vengeance. If I can grow shell harder than anything on this planet, I should make the best of Isobu's gift.
It seems that I'm finding the new life I'd hoped for, the one I feared I'd never find again after Isobu's arrival changed everything. Gradually, the people of the Leaf have accepted me again. Some individuals have even become very close friends. Although the changes during the binding took away much that made me Inuzuka, they still call me family, and they have been some of my most stalwart companions and supporters. There seems to be purpose for me here once more, in this village for which I would give my life.
The most remarkable achievement, I suppose, has been overcoming my own fear of becoming close to others. I'd long worried that they might be put in danger, but Isobu and I have slowly come to an accord which is still growing. My trust in him is such that I've begun to permit that closeness again. In fact, I've taken a companion in my life. Atsuro and I have decided to commit to each other, and though we realize that this may confuse many in the village, it's something long overdue.
Atsuro knows well the dangers of devoting the rest of his life to me, but he chooses to face them anyway. Someone who would risk their own self-preservation for the sake of being with me is, well, more than I'd ever expected to find. I favor both genders, but in Atsuro, there is more than just physical attraction. We get along in a great many ways, and his trust in me outweighs any personal or social fears. I'm no longer alone in my life and in the rest of my years, however many I may have as a living weapon for the Leaf.
I've thought about asking the Inuzuka elders to do something to make this union official, but we'll see. It's a matter to be discussed with Atsuro, and we'll have to be prepared for the reservations of our friends. However, if being Jinchuuriki has taught me anything, it's that the fears of others are too often unfounded. We'll go in life together, and happily so.
So much has been going in my personal life, I'd actually forgotten that my birthday has come and gone. Seventeen years, now. What jarred this in my memory was the coming of Atsuro's birthday, which I /did/ remember. It was my hope to surprise him with a worthy present, but Kenta had beat me to the punch when I'd arrived at Atsuro's home. He had brought a cake made from meat and decorated to look like a dog. It seemed almost … cannabalistic, but I must still credit Kenta's grandmother for the skills she's passed on to him. Never met her, but I imagine she's a formidable woman.
My own gift to Atsuro? Venison, freshly killed, butchered and salted. Enough cuts to feed him for a week or more! Of course, it seems like not much alongside Kenta's gift, but after we'd shared the cake (it was delicious, ethics aside), we learned from my lieutenant how to properly preserve the venison beyond the salting I'd done. It was taken to one of the smokehouses in the Inuzuka village, a place I still remember spending time around as a child, where we hung the meat. I'd suggested that a little water on the fire would give us a sauna to enjoy at the same time, but they were both against it. Boring.
Sharing the birthday cake for Atsuro's new year, working together to hang the meat for smoking. These are small things, but they mean more to me than my companions or anyone else realize. I was being included in normal things for the first time in a long while. It had been ages since I'd simply sat down alongside friends and shared a meal, or worked in the smokehouses to prepare food for the days ahead. I cherished those moments and hope for many more. Perhaps I'll be fortunate enough to remember my own birthday and take advantage.
The Silence. This threat seems to have absorbed all of the villages, prompting them to ready their defenses in anticipation of the worst. Team Phoenix will be hard at work to assist Konohagakure and our allies in Kumogakure, of course. However, I expect that I'll be called to fight alongside the Jounin when and if that day should ever come. After all, it's among my duties as Jinchuuriki to use my power to defend the Leaf, even if it should mean my own life.
Moments like these seem to prompt Isobu to pass on memories. In this case, the consequences of failure. I was made to remember the last moments of Nara Kaito's death before Isobu was taken from him, and in showing these images to me, Isobu reminds me to watch my back. He can empower me, yes, and he abides by our agreement that he'll help defend Konoha so long as I respect him in name and as a thinking being. However, there's nothing he can do to protect me from carelessness.
I think the village needs leadership from the powerful now, more than ever. That's why I've begun to direct my thoughts toward earning the rank of Jounin, held by so many of my cousins and other acquaintances. Even without Isobu's help, I've grown a great deal, but sprouting the tails brings me to an entirely new level. It's my strong feeling that, against the Silence, people like myself should be enlisted to lead and rally the front lines. However, the Hokage wants more proof of my ability to lead before he'll even consider it.
It's my expectation that the Silence will attack before Daisuke is ready. As has been said, I think I'll still be working alongside the Jounin in battle against this threat, but I disagree with his decision to wait. Jinchuuriki or not, everyone not of my own team only sees a fellow Chuunin. I would have preferred to have more of an influential position than that in time to deal with this, but since when have the Hokage and I ever agreed on anything? I suppose this is only natural between guardian and charge, adoptive father and son.
For quite some time now, I've endeavored to develop my water ninjutsu at Isobu's urging. He insists there are techniques only useable by those bound with him, but only if I can surpass the water to 'reach the Wave'. Something about a Wave style, that's where these techniques the old turtle goes on about are secreted away. Much like swimming against the current, however, reaching the goal has become a slower and more trying effort. Even after learning a jutsu with more hand signs than any other, I'm still a small world away. That's why my focus must change for a time.
I've decided that it's time for Isobu and I to come to a complete accord on our future together. He has held his end of the bargain we made long ago, one of mutual respect, but I need the whole of his power now. I need it to press ahead with the water jutsu, and I'll need it to do battle with the Silence as effectively as is possible. That is why I've begun to seek the third and final tail Isobu has retained, a power only surpassed by the ability to take on his actual form. If we come this far, then we will finally be as one and my fears of harming others or falling out of control will be vanquished.
This is a challenge, to be sure. Isobu is … Well, he's not a turtle, but he acts like one just as much as he resembles one. Persuading him to make swift decisions is very trying. He hasn't said no, but neither has he agreed to my request as yet. At long last, my Bijuu conceded that we'd been united for long enough that he understood the better part of my heart and mind. He finds me worthy, but he also finds me lacking for readiness. If I were to be given the third tail now, he believes I wouldn't be able to control the influx of power.
Fortunately, Isobu thinks I am close. Very close. If I can simply harden my will and come a little bit further in my understanding of the Bijuu's chakra, I'll be ready. I hope to accomplish this before the silence arrives, and to at long last become a full Jinchuuriki, surpassed only by those who can borrow the true bodies of the Bijuu. If this is what it takes to defend Konohagakure, I'll pour the whole of myself into the task. That's why I accepted Isobu in the first place, when the elders came to me. Everything for Konogakure, and now, for my mate and the many who have become my friends.
It's strange how things can change in your life. There was a time when I looked back upon the elders' request for me to carry Isobu and regretted saying yes. Of course, I felt ashamed each time and gave myself a kick in the ass over that. It was for Konohagakure, after all! If I had to lose most of what made me Inuzuka, lose my nin-ken, lose the villagers' trust? So be it. Everything for Konohagakure, for the Will of Fire.
Once people began to see that I wasn't the monster they'd predicted would arise from the binding, things changed. I made friends, accomplished deeds for the village, earned the trust of the locals once more, and even formed my own team. People were welcomed into my life again, including a mate, Atsuro. Still, no matter how skilled I was, I always tended to keep people at arm's length. There was that worry in the back of my head that, one day, Isobu would change his mind about our promise and try to break loose.
Isobu and I were friends, trusting friends, and I think it's because of this that he understood why I came before him with Atsuro and Kenta seeking to become Master Jinchuuriki. It was a bold, dangerous task others had lost their lives to prior, but not us. I knew my Bijuu, my other half, and I knew that shell of his just as surely as it grew upon my own flesh. A direct assault was impossible, and so within the bounds of my mind, we outwitted Isobu. The battle of wills ensued, in which the want to protect all that I'd come to love and protect overcame Isobu's anger and power. Maybe he let me win. He can be timid sometimes. He can also be a wise friend.
I always used to say that being Jinchuuriki felt like having three boulders stacked upon my chest. It was choking not only to have the responsibility, but to carry the weight of constantly holding Isobu in check. Seals could do only so much. Now that I've achieved mastery and Isobu seemed to have settled a bit along with it, everything's different. Two of those boulders, gone, leaving me only with responsibility and the knowledge of the potential consequences. I'm willing to accept those, though. Just as always, it's for Konohagakure, and now for so many smaller things therein.
Today is a day of days. At long last, after so many years spent in fear of my eccentricities (bad behavior, if you prefer), I have gained a measure of respect and trust. The Hokage, having been informed of my recent mastery of the Jinchuuriki's path, decided that it was time to place me a step beyond Chuunin. It wasn't quite time for Jounin, which was a little disappointing, but he assures me that's not far off. Instead, I've been granted the rank of Tokubetsu Jounin.
You don't see too many Tokubetsu in the ranks lately, so I suppose that's a sort of distinction. The rank acknowledges that I do possess a Jounin's level of skill with, of course, water manipulation. That still amuses me. When I was younger, I was so physical and so ill-suited to Ninjutsu. Now? Now, more than the Taijutsu style I adopted for use with Isobu's shell, I turn to water in fights. People underestimate it, you know. Water can wash away earth, smother fire, ride upon the winds, and even cut through iron if given the time. When blocked, it always finds a way.
A younger me would've been upset about the promotion. I probably would've been humiliated that I had been selected as a "second-rate Jounin" or that I'd been saddled with additional responsibility. Now, the more grown up me is as pleased with and honored by it as I am my duties as Jinchuuriki. It's an honor to be called anything Jounin, and there's much I can do now that I've been elevated to this new status. Word will spread of my specialty, and maybe I can train a few students born with an unusual affinity for water in our Land of Fire. I'll be trusted with more important tasks, and I'll take them on with pleasure. I've always wanted to help more than I have, more than I could previously be trusted to, and now I can.
Of course, I don't give up easily. I've happily accepted Tokubetsu, but my fangs are buried into the idea of wiping that rank away and leaving only Jounin behind. There will come a day when I earn that title, of that I'm confident, even if it'll be quite some time after many of my familial relations managed the feat. What can I say? It's my own fault for slacking when I was younger. Should've listened better to Uncle Katashi's lessons about the trials of that particular habit.
It's my shame to admit that, after founding Team Phoenix, we didn't accomplish nearly so much as I had envisioned. My studies as Jinchuuriki became paramount when the Silence threat arose. There was no telling when they might strike, after all, and it could well have been my duty to use Isobu's power in the village's defense. Now that I can be called a master, there's no longer any excuse. Team Phoenix rose once more as of a meeting I had with our members just recently.
Every village needs its heroes. When I was younger, I looked to certain typically (but not always) older people in the village as my heroes. Daisuke, Atsuro, Taiki. They served as inspiration and a source of security for the Leaf. I wanted to do that for my homeland, as well, albeit in my own typically creative way. Team Phoenix was created to nurture the next generation of Leaf legends, and I'm proud to say that I think I've assembled a damned good team. Very balanced, each highly skilled in their own fields. All friends. Together, we're a powerful force for good in our land.
Speaking of a balanced team, there was recently a very interesting change. We had a man by the name of Satonezu Eremi return to the village as a probationary Chuunin. At first, he was given to Atsuro for watching, but I personally requested him from the Hokage after we unfortunately had to let Nobuo go over long term absence. As far as I'm concerned, everyone comes to my team with a clean slate. I remember what it was like to have to earn my way back in before suspicious eyes, and I have too good a feeling about this man to let him suffer the same.
What an addition to the team he is! We already have myself, our med-nin specialist, and our Uzumaki expert in seals. Eremi brings to the table a knowledge of Taijutsu which quite frankly makes him yet another member of the team to exceed myself. There's more to it than that, though. We're quite alike in our habits and mannerisms, and we look so eerily similar that we could've come from the same litter. In other words, he's one handsome bastard. I think things are going to work out well.
From now on, there'll be no more resting upon our laurels. Team Phoenix is going to become a name known here and beyond for good, honorable deeds in service to the innocent. We'll fight battles where we must, make peace where we can. That's a vision I hope I can successfully fulfill as leader.
Everything lately had been going so damned well, it seemed unreal. Mastery achieved, a promotion from the Hokage, the rebirth and strengthening of my team. Maybe I genuinely felt it was time, or maybe it was just a moment of daring inspiration. Either way, I decided it was time for the next step with Atsuro. We Jinchuuriki don't tend to exactly live long lives, so I do what I can, when I can. I proposed to him, asked him to become my mate in the married sense by decree of the elders.
He said no.
Don't get me wrong; Atsuro was specific in saying that he wasn't dumping me. It's just that he feels it's too soon, that our relationship is young and he wants to know me better. I can't imagine how he could know me any better than he already does, as close as we've been for so long, but that was his reason. I'd say it took my recent level of happiness from one hundred percent down to seventy-five. I mean, how can you take it well when you put together the guts to propose and get turned down? Still, I guess one should be grateful that it wasn't necessarily forever. I've proposed engagement instead, with hopes that he might compromise.
It's difficult for me to think of Atsuro and associate him with rejection. Not many people know this story, but after the binding, I used to sit outside of the ramen stand and eat alone. Atsuro was the first person to ever come and share lunch with me, to have some idea of what I was and not turn away. Hooked me from the very start. We've shed blood together, trained together, walked the wilds together, cooked dead beasts together. You know, the Inuzuka things. In the end, he even stood at my side to face down a Bijuu, and that is no small gesture.
Rejection was a difficult surprise, but I've since been reminded of things Uncle Katashi used to tell me about his own tumultuous marriage. He always used to say that trying to wrestle one's spouse into agreement was a hopeless cause. They'd decide what to do and when to do it, all in their own time. Of course, he dressed it up in the style of battles we Inuzuka love to regale each other with. I thought back on those, and I remembered something Uncle had learned in his own marriage, something he promised me would be true of my own relationship as developed with Atsuro. It's a truth all spouses enjoy, it seems.
I'll win my fair share of battles, but in the end, he will win the war.
I had just come back from a vacation in Kumogakure when the word reached me. Something strange was going on outside of the village. What else is new, right? Still, they were sending Taiki out to investigate the mysterious seals, which meant it was on a whole different level of seriousness. Kenta and I were asked to escort him, and I agreed, of course.
The day seemed to be in my favor. There was mist everywhere around us, which meant I was never without the fuel I needed to defend my charge. Maybe I was lulled into a false sense of security, I don't know. It was a trap, though. Taiki told us to stop, and we came to realize we had walked right into a spot surrounded by seals. That's when they struck. The Recluse, and not junior members. These people meant business.
We tried to fight them off, but they knew exactly what they needed to do. As for myself, one of them used some sort of advanced seal which squeezed every bit of chakra from my body. I haven't been a Taijutsuist since before I became Jinchuuriki, which meant this left me making futile efforts to resist without energy. There was a moment in which they stupidly put me waist-deep in a swamp of their own creation, and I spat out a blade of water which cut down a good chunk of the forest. Annoyed them, but didn't stop them.
I don't know what happened for them to overcome the likes of Kenta and Taiki, but one of them grabbed me in my weakened state and ran for it. There's just nothing I can do to fight power like this. What's to become of me now?
I know now what it must feel like to be a prisoner of the Recluse, only what they're doing to me is probably a hundred times worse. Not sure how long they've had me now. A day, two? The whole thing makes sense now, though. We assumed advanced seals were laid out to lure Taiki in a clan feud, when I was the actual target. More than me, they want Isobu.
They're using some kind of ritual to try and pull him out, and I can see that they've prepared a statue as the vessel. Ugly thing. As for the ritual, this is a kind of pain I've never felt before. My chakra circuits light up like a stormy sky every time they tug at my spirit, trying to get around me and to Isobu. The most I can hope for at this point is that Konohagakure sends a rescue team, because I can't break free.
I'm delaying them as best I can. Whenever I'm able, I pool what I can of my own chakra. It delays them, forces them to pause in order to clear it away. Of course, I can only keep that up for so long. Thanks to the Wave, I'm able to splash them in the face with just one hand gesture, and they bound my wrists - not my hands. So, I splash water in their faces. These are small things, but every second bought is precious under these circumstances.
I'd never realized how important Isobu had really become in my life until now. He and I, we're friends. We spend every living moment together, and even though I'm a "master," I consider him my equal. I fear for what I'll become without him. I fear for Isobu if the Recluse take him. Every potentiality is horrible. I have to hold out for as long as I can.
Just a little longer. My friends will come.
Three days. I've heard that's how long I managed to hold out. Every moment of it was a continuous blur of pain. The Recluse, evidently knowing that they were as pressed for time as I was, never stopped their ritual. If one of their shinobi was exhausted, they had another one ready.
Pulling, pulling. Chakra brought forth to obstruct them, but to futile ends. The ripping and tearing of Isobu from my very body and soul persisted unabated.
I was right about one thing: the rescue team from Konohagakure did arrive, though I suspect it was more to ensure Isobu's salvage than to save me. That's fine, though; I've always said that I understood my duties wouldn't always be pleasant. The battle was fierce, and as much as I wanted to, I could do nothing to help. Explosions, the sounds of jutsu going off, the tearing of cloth and ripping of flesh. They were trying as hard as they could to reach me against superior odds.
They came too late. At the last moment, the Recluse dislodged Isobu and wrenched him from by body, placing him within their statue vessel. For me, it was like death. I remember pain like I've never felt before, and I remember some last words Isobu said to me. I remember them, I know they were important, but my mind's all a blur right now. Anyway. My body felt like it was being destroyed, my chakra circuits shattered like glass, and I went unconscious.
I'm told that Kenta performed emergency surgery to try and patch me up until they could get me to Konohagakure. In full honesty, I wish he hadn't. I wish he'd been inept and I had died, as it was supposed to be. Without Isobu, I no longer felt whole. What's done was done, though, and there was something Isobu wanted me to see to. Assuming I survive and recover, this is life now, broken and miserable. Lovely that the process took my Jinchuuriki seal and left an identical scar behind, like a reminder to taunt me.
The best medical shinobi in Konohagakure were assigned to the task of repairing my body, if they could. I couldn't even begin to tell you how many surgeries they had to perform over the following three months. In the end, though, my body was pieced back together and my chakra circuits were repaired. I was able to use jutsu again, those which didn't require Isobu's presence. That, too, is a dreadful reminder of what's happened to me. There's nothing entertaining about being on the short list of people to survive a Bijuu extraction, particularly when you'd have preferred to die.
That said, what's done is done. I won't stick a kunai in my own gut because they chose to save me, just to selfishly end my own pain. My heart just isn't in being a shinobi, though. Without Isobu, my ninjutsu just isn't what it was, and it's so painfully clear. Maybe there's a chance to fix the situation, though. I've been wracking my brain over what it was that Isobu told me to do just before he and I were torn apart, because I know it was important to him that I make it the next part of my life.
Now, I remember. It's the turtles. He wanted me to go and see the turtles, far off by the waters, and seek their tutelage. Apparently, they have something to fill the void which I don't. In any case, I've packed scrolls, because I'm sure a summoning contract will be involved in the process. It'll be a long trip, that much I know, and I'm navigating according to some kind of residual sense of which body of water I should head to. I know, it's not promising, but neither is retiring as a shinobi and living out the remainder of my life unhappy.
Family and friends will want to understand, but I can't explain it to them. I'm not even fully grasping what's going on or what's to come. They'll want to accompany me, too. I'd rather they didn't when I don't know what dangers I face, but I won't stop them. If they want to follow at my heels, then I can't stop them. We're going to be gone for a while, though, so I hope they follow without regret.
I've never been all that spiritual, but I pray that Isobu's directions lead to an answer. Right now, I am an incomplete person. A broken, miserable, weakened shinobi who can only look back on better days and wonder why they had to end. He wouldn't have directed me if he wasn't certain that the end result would help me where he no longer could, though. It's my only hope.
It's been quite a long time since I've had the opportunity to sit down and put quill to journal. In fact, it surprises me when I see how far back the last entry was. Dredges up a lot of less than pleasant memories, though.
I suppose the best place to start is to write about the whole mystery of the turtles. Following Isobu's final advice, I did go off into the wide world in search of the turtles he wanted me to make the acquaintance of. The first stretch of a very long journey led me to the far western shores, and it was there that I met the first elder of the Great Turtle clan. He was the size of an island, and as you'd imagine, anything that old tends to be fairly glacial in thinking. He was spry in knowing what the whole thing was about after I explained, though. The Great Turtles needed a sage, and Isobu's hint was intended to give my life some new direction.
Over the next several months, I trained under all four of the Great Turtle elders, each of them different in appearance and in their approach tutelage. Fairly grueling process, I can't lie, but learning to access and control Senjutsu simply is. It's an entirely different thing from one's own typical chakra. They put me through the wringer until I came to the end, leaving behind a turtle elder in a frozen land to return to the first. He declared me to be the Great Turtles' sage, and even taught me to use my newly procured Senjutsu to partly transform into one of them. It's a strange sight, I promise you, but powerful.
This is a new responsibility, but I'll take it as seriously as I did my responsibility to Isobu. I miss him terrible. I do. There's no going back, though. In fact, I hear they're already looking into a new host. That seems to be the way of my life, ever changing in the worst ways, but I'll try to make the best of this last chance my old friend gave me. I worked hard enough for it!
I'm sorry to say that losing Isobu and becoming a Sage weren't the only great changes in my life. There were things going on in Konohagakure I wasn't exactly comfortable with. I'll sum it up with the ending. It had long been common practice to send shinobi in trouble to me, and in my own way, I'd rehabilitate them so they'd be given a second chance in service and in the village. I began to hear that the shinobi I'd rehabilitated had been getting promoted over me, some of them to highly important positions, when I'd been requesting consideration for promotion for some time.
Eventually, I was fed up and I confronted Daisuke. There was a very angry discussion to follow, of course. I called him a despot who only gave to those he could control. He called me a power-hungry sorcerer always pursuing the forbidden. So on, so forth. In the end, he told me that I was exiled I stepped through the village gates, and that he'd put the arrow in my heart himself if I ever tried to return. The village of my birth, the place to which I'd given so much, where I had a fiance and countless friends. Even some students. All of that, and I was cast aside like trash.
I honestly didn't know what to do at the time. Of course, I stood by my ethics and I didn't beg for forgiveness; I thought that the things Daisuke was doing were wrong in the extreme. I was still Sage of the Great Turtles, and if necessary, I was content to be a creature of the wilds in that capacity. I'd gone to settle by a familiar waterfall when I was surprised to be met by an old friend, Yotsuki Hiei, Raikage of Kumogakure. He and I had been friends for years, very close friends, and we only grew closer when he revealed that he'd come to rescue me. Hiei wanted me to come and live in Kumogakure, to be a citizen and serve him as the Jounin I deserved to be. I was genuinely stunned for once, but I accepted.
In the years since, I've settled well in the Hidden Cloud. The people have accepted me as one of their own, I have a house, and I was eventually appointed as the leader of the military. I guess the truth of it is that the wild Takeo's finally settled down somewhat.
I've developed an odd sort of reputation for dying and coming back to life. Jokingly, I tell people that it's my curse, but part of me believes that. Probably the result of so much negativity pervading each lifetime! Anyway. It happened once again after the move.
I won't lie: my moral sensibilities are lacking in some areas. I've slept around, a lot. As such, I wasn't entirely sure when a random letter arrived telling me that a girl in a village not too far away would be killed if I didn't come. The claim was that she was my daughter. A kid's a kid, so honestly, how could I turn a blind eye?
When I arrived in the village, after leaving Kumogakure in a hurry, the mother seemed frightened and told me that bandits had taken her into a nearby valley. I gave chase and found myself at the bottom of that valley, with the sides lined from top to bottom with archers. An ambush, all of that to get to me. Guess they knew that I always put everyone else before myself, and every time I do it, I pay. I could only think of one tactic, so I made sure the girl fled the valley and then flooded it. Died in a lake of my own creation, or so I thought.
The Great Turtles rescued me at the very last moment, somehow moving me to the back of one of the elders out on the ocean. There, I was given time to contemplate on the meaning of my life and things of important in complete silence and solitude. Back in the world of the living, they assumed that I really had died. A funeral was held for me, I'm told, and it particularly bothered Hiei and old family.
I didn't quite know how to explain when I was finally returned to them. They were glad to me alive and pissed at the same time, which I can't really hold against them. That soon passed, though. Hiei welcomed me back into the fold and saw me returned to my old position as Supreme General. I tried to resume life as normal, but things just weren't the same after all that time given to think. I had come home realizing that there were things I wanted in my life beyond booze and another warm body under the furs with me. Had to pursue it.
It's an inevitable fact of my life that everything good either goes sour or never really gets within reach to begin with. I'd had good years in Kumogakure, working faithfully as Supreme General and helping to fight battles against the Brigade. I can add parting the ocean to expose a secret Storm Brigade base to my list of accomplishments! Given all of that, you can imagine my surprise when the rug was pulled out from under me.
Out of nowhere, Michiko announced that my title was being changed to Military Commander. I was pissed. Many of the shinobi knew me as General, and even when I assured them they could address me otherwise, I'd earned their respect in continuing to use the term. Commander sounds like someone who should be first officer of one of our ships. What's worse, Michiko refused to emphasize that I remained third in command of the village. I objected strongly and took a long delayed vacation until things were resolved, as I was sure they would be. Hiei would have to see how out of line this was after all of the assurances and promises he'd offered over time.
He didn't. That stung like hell. I needed to smoke almost my entire supply of medicinal herbs in the week because betrayal just makes my scars ache right down to those tattered chakra circuits of mine. How could the man who was my best friend, the man I was going to become the legal brother of, the man who had me many times I was his third and intimately trusted, just brush it all off as my being complacent about the military structure? How could he not trust me experience as a leader on and off of the battlefield?
I got angrier. It may be the case that everything Inuzuka was wiped from my blood, but you can't wipe the Alpha attitude from my mind. The only man I'd ever loved as a brother had, so far as I'm concerned, stabbed me in the back. Did I know he could do that? Yes, and eviscerate the victim. What I never thought was that he could do that to *me*. I issued a challenge for he and I to settle things elsewhere, where we wouldn't level and buildings, and we'll see where that goes. In the meantime, at the same damned meeting, they give Arashi the rank of Admiral. The Naval equivalent of General, as if to rub in that I hadn't earned their trust. Screw it, right?
If Hiei wants to take up my offer to meet and start something, all he has to do is just that - start something. We'll settle our dispute, one way or the other. At the moment, I feel outside of my own skin in the administrative hall now. I've got one letter of resignation ready as general, and another as Jounin and resident of Kumogakure. I'm debating whether to hand them over or burn them, but betrayal can't go unanswered.
Skills And Abilities
|Aqua Bullet||D-Rank||A small ball of water condensed into a compact, hardened form with chakra. It's then 'shot' at a target with incredible speed.|
|Hidden Mist Technique||D-Rank||A concealing mist which shares the appearance of the creator's chakra, blinding even the Sharingan to his location.|
|Heavy Splash||E-Rank||Manipulating a nearby or created water source, the user increases the liquid's surface tension greatly before causing it to crash into or smack his target.|
|Hidden Mist Technique||D-Rank||The user envelopes the area in a dense mist, reducing visibility. The density of the mist can be finely controlled, to the point that even he can't see through it. More unique, however, is the fact that the mist can blind the Sharingan and is indiscernible from the chakra of the persons within the cloud.|
|Multiple Water Clones||B-Rank||An advanced form of the Water Clone technique, this jutsu fashions multiple clones of the wielder from water, all capable of using a fraction of his abilities.|
|Pure Water Lance||A-Rank||The user of the jutsu emits an extremely compressed and powerful spear of water, typically from the mouth. This spear can easily carve through the landscape and any unfortunate people in its path, thus requiring great care in its use. Even the strongest of barriers typically fail to stand against it.|
|Tidal Burst||B-Rank||The user enacts a shotgun-esque blast of chakra-dense liquid over a wide area, designed to strike multiple opponents or hamper the dodging ability of a target. The attack can also be used as a counter, blasting through and crushing attacks in emulation of a tidal wave's power.|
|Titan Wave||C-Rank||A wave of titanic proportions created and directed by the ninjutsuist, slow to move yet devasating in force.|
|Water Lance||C-Rank||A lance of water propelled with chakra, causing considerable harm and knocking back foes.|
|Multiple Water Clones||B-Rank||An advanced form of the Water Clone technique, this jutsu fashions multiple clones of the wielder from water, all capable of using a fraction of his abilities.|
|Water Ribbons||D-Rank||Creates thick, fast-spinning 'ribbons' of water around the body. The speed and strength of the currents are effective in deflecting most types of attacks.|
|Water Wall||C-Rank||This defensive jutsu allows the user to manipulate water in order to form a defensive wall. Once charged with chakra, it can rebuff many forms of assault. The size of the wall varies according to water available and the skill of the ninjutsuist.|
|Bijuu Mastery||S-Rank||Takeo no longer retains the material benefits of this achievement. However, when he still hosted the Three Tails, he did become a master Jinchuuriki. Takeo retains the practical knowledge of hosting a Bijuu and achieving master, but receiving his tutelage would be a challenge before he's resolved his own woes.|
|Tree Walking||X-Rank||The ability to walk on sheer surfaces, such as trees, walls, mountainsides, and even upside down.|
|Water Walking||X-Rank||The ability to walk on water and other liquid surfaces.|
|Scroll Mastery||X-Rank||This field of jutsu allows more complex and larger scale seal techniques to be stored for later use. This mostly involves storing objects. However, scrolls also have many other uses. Their applications in combat are many, and someone with this knowledge is even needed to fashion a summoning contract.|
|Water Manipulation||X-Rank||Knowledge of Water Style ninjutsu and its use.|
|Wave Manipulation||X-Rank||This advanced elemental manipulation expands and amplifies the user's control of Water Chakra to an extent that would be deemed impossible by most people. From pulling moisture from the air to shaping water in any number of forms, it has a great many uses. The style also allows its user to perform even the most complex Water Ninjutsu with but a single hand sign.|
All of the following artistry is original and unique to Takeo. The tailed picture on the left should be considered the latest depiction of the character (sans the tails), in his more experienced state. Takeo is no longer a Jinchuuriki, but I haven't had the motivation or time to give him a new illustration as yet.
Seeking Isobu's Solution - Answers
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