Date: February 17, 2017
Anzu attempts to use the summoning contract she just obtained, with Shuuren's tutelage, but runs into an obstacle.
"Awake The Snake - Pt. 5"
Anzu has had ample time to recover from her injuries. She healed readily. She doesn't appear to heal abnormally fast or anything, but even the gruesome injuries she suffered just faded without scarring with appropriate usage of medical ninjutsu and rest. So now, here they stand in a subterranean cave with Ryuuchi Cave. There is a very large amount of territory surrounding the Snake Village, almost impassable to normal humans due to the lethality of the environment, and the huge number of serpents of all kinds living there. Anzu has not had the opportunity to see any of that yet, except for brief glimpses.
Oddly, her near-constant companion, Astarot, isn't present for the important event today. Anzu is preparing to attempt to use the Summoning Technique for the first time, after training her Chakra over and over through meditation, practicing the hand seals, and so on. She has made the contract, but she hasn't attempted the jutsu yet.
She has changed out of her assistant innkeeper kimono and into something that breathes a bit more. A black micro-vest and hotpants, with boots and armor accessories, basically. "Let me know when to begin, sensei!" the young Hebisuuhai says as she raises a hand excitedly and bounces on her heels a bit.
That's quite a change in attire, but Shuren is a gentleman as always, so there is no awkwardness really around it. The Daimyo himself still wears his signature white suit, though lacking the cloak he wears to denote his position. It seems his students performance in her trial impressed the Elder enough that he offered her the contract. Now she just has to perform the jutsu so her next step in the journey can begin.
"Alright," he says, nodding to her with a slight smile. "I'm going to show you once more and then it's your turn." He moves through the handseals before placing his hand on the ground and calmly calling out, "Kuchiyose no Jutsu." A puff of smoke lets out in front of him to reveal a normal-sized snake that vanishes again a moment later, as he probably didn't really put much chakra into it for the demonstration versus bringing Ryutaro here just to practice.
With that demonstration done, he stands back upright and gestures toward the girl. "Go ahead. Let's see how you do."
Anzu watches carefully. This isn't the first time she's seen it, but unlike her latent sensor capabilities she unlocked just by feeling Shuuren use his own, she has had to actually practice to understand this jutsu. Now that she has a contract, the training, and the knowledge, it's time to test it out. She nods firmly to the instructions, puts her pale-skinned hands together, closes her eyes, and calms her mind.
She takes in a deep breath, and lets it out, then uses measured breaths as she begins molding Chakra. It's her 'normal' Chakra, though, and is less intense than was demontrated on the ship. As a result, once she has performed the hand seals, and planted a hand on the ground, calling out, "Kuchiyose no Jutsu!" the smoke cloud that erupts reveals only… A reptile egg. She looks ultra-seriously at the egg, then points at it as she looks up at Shuuren.
"Sensei, this isn't right, is it? Am I supposed to raise this from an egg or something?"
Shuuren waits patiently as Anzu prepares to use the jutsu. When at last it is performed, he smirks slightly at the result. It's basically what he'd expected for her first attempt. "No. It'll vanish in a moment," he replies, shaking his head. "Basically, you need to put more chakra into it. I put a pretty minimum amount into what I was doing, but I normally summon snakes in a giant mass or a huge one like Ryutaro."
After a brief pause, he says, "Think of it like flicking a pebble versus throwing a small boulder. You're trying to pull a full-sized living being through temporary split in space and time, so you're going to need to use plenty of chakra to summon one that's going to be formidable."
Anzu is a little bit disappointed she doesn't get to raise her own snake summon, but she nods solemnly to the explanation. "So I need to use more Chakra, huh?" She doesn't know where that inhuman power she possessed on the ship went. She is barely even conscious of it happpening. The trigger was a desperate need to protect others, and then to protect others. But as she tries to dig deep into her Chakra, to pull out more and more of it, she feels an odd sensation in the pit of her stomach. Like spoiled milk.
That's the closest approximation she can think of. She doesn't know why. She just feels like there's spoiled milk or… Polluted Chakra? Something like that inside of her. So she stops short of touching that, drawing out as much of her Chakra as she can, performing the hand seals, and then slamming her palm down once more. "Kuchiyose no Jutsu!" *POOF*
When the smoke clears this time, there's… A larger egg! The egg is about as tall as Anzu is, so she definitely put more Chakra into it. Enough that she's sweating a bit, and looking tired. But to Shuuren's senses… It may feel like Anzu's Chakra hasn't decreased that much at all. If anything, it's a bit elevated from where it was when she started. Is she not aware of it somehow? This is the third time at least that the hidden potential within her has surfaced, but this time it seems much closer to the surface without her having to be in a berserker state first.
Anzu frowns at the egg, the smaller one having already vanished. "The eggs are mocking me." she says suddenly. "They're like prisons of life. Like my brain. There's a whole life in my head somewhere, and I can't get to it. I'm protected from the memory of whatever bad things happened, but at the same time, I can't break free either."
She looks down at her hands. "Are my blocked memories restricting my Chakra somehow?"
Watching the second attempt, Shuuren frowns slightly then looks up at Anzu as she speaks. "… A mental block is entirely possible, yes," he answers her with a nod as his allows his expression to return to normal. "Not knowing what part of your life you're missing can be quite scary. You feel like you may lose yourself because you don't know who you might have been before."
He steps forward then, placing a hand on her shoulder as if to comfort or reassure her. "But the life you've lived is not going to disappear. You will simply regain a piece of your life you've lost. If there is some trouble that returns with your memory, you have plenty of support that will help you to get throughout with your mother, Astarot, and myself. Whatever comes your way, you can trust that we will always have your back."
That said, he steps back again and looks into her eyes. "… Now that you've been accepted into the clan, I will offer you something to consider. I have a jutsu that I've developed that can cause bodily regeneration in a patient and may heal the wounds you suffered. You may not regain your full memory right away, but it could very well unlock that door so that you can begin to step through it."
Anzu's worried and disappointed expression changes when Shuuren puts his hand on her shoulder. The tension in her body flows out and she smiles gratefully up at her teacher. "Thank you, sensei." She seems quite interested in the description of a regeneration jutsu that might restore her memories. She still has a lot of fear about what she'll find in them, but knowing she has support that won't leave her no matter what it turns out is held behind that barricade within her brain, makes her a little bit more willing to at least give it a try.
Anzu closes her eyes. When she opens them again, she just nods her head. "How long will it take to prepare?"
"Just a few minutes," Shuuren answers with a slight grin. "I'm always prepared for any given situation. It's a trait of mine that my allies enjoy and my enemies learn to fear." With that he moves his hands through a few seals then places a hand on the floor. "Kuchiyose no Jutsu!"
The puff of smoke that lets out this time reveals a white snake more akin to the size of Astarot, though he appears much older than Anzu's companion.
"Ryoma," the Daimyo greets the snake, offering a light bow of his head "Shuuren-san," it replies then peers toward Anzu. "… I suppose it's time to begin the procedure we discussed then?"
Shuuren nods in response to the snake then looks back toward the girl. "Very few people have ever seen my real face, which you are about to see now." He tilts his head up then, opening his mouth… and it opens far more than one could imagine it could until oddly an orb covered in green hair begins to make its way out of it… and then a full face… and body…
It's as if the Daimyo is shedding his skin before Anzu… and that appears to be what he is actually doing as the form revealed in a suit of black rather than white and much more suited to combat looks a lot more like her own. His face looks similar to the one she would be accustomed to, but it has a much more serpentine look to it through its bone structure. The color of his skin is white and looks a lot more like the scales of the snakes that lead the clan of this cave. It seems his true form shows the effects of the White Snake Sage's bite a lot more than he ever lets on with the face he normally wears.
"Ah, that feels good," he says, grinning slightly as he tilts his head side to side, cracking his neck a bit, and then looks back to Anzu. Though his voice retains its normal smoothness, even it sounds a bit raspier, more serpentine than before. "Do whatever mental preparation you need to. We're halfway through preparation," he says as Ryoma slithers up to his shouolders, his words denoting that his transformation is far from over.
Anzu bows respectfully to Ryoma when he appears, and then listens with great interest to what Shuuren says. This isn't the Daimyou's real face? Huh? And she's going to get to see this true secret identity? Anzu's eyes widen as she watches Shuuren's face split, and then a new Shuuren emerge. New but… Different. Her yellow eyes are very wide, but she seems fascinated rather than horrified.
The pale-skinned young woman feels a shiver run through her body at the sight of Shuuren. "So, um… You're… A Hebisuuhai after all? Or, wait, I think you said you were only like them… Or, uh, 'us'. I guess." She frowns a bit. Then she says, "I don't think there's any more preparations I need to do. Since I don't know what this jutsu is about or how it's done, any preparation I make would be pointless, because I don't know what I'm preparing for! So…"
Anzu lifts her arms up and then flops them back down. "I guess I'm ready when you are, sensei! Ryoma-san!"
"No, I'm not a Hebisuuhai. One of my theories, however, is that that clan had an ancestor that was much like me, which resulted in the watered-down version of snake abilities they possess," Shuuren comments as he gives the girl a moment to take in his true form… Well, the beginning of it. Truth be told, there is a lot more to it to coming. "We shall move ahead then," he says with a confident nod before he closes his eyes and brings his hands into a seal that is more meditative than of casting a jutsu while Ryoma begins to share chakra with him that he had been gathering for him from the area around.
If Anzu had ever questioned just how extreme a change Sage Mode could bring to one's body, she is about to get a pretty solid answer as the Daimyo's body begins to visibly transform before her. His form seems to become visible more muscular while his skin seems to turn into scales, giving him the armor of snakes, and his face even more serpentine-looking as his cheekbones rise and his cheeks themselves seem even narrower. Markings of purple appear around his eyes in the shape one would expect around the eyes of a snake, tracing out the orbital socket and going down as lines around his nose. A pair of fangs then come down over his normal teeth and a set of four horns rise from his head, making him look almost more like a dragon than a serpent now as his transformation finishes.
The final touch is seen as he opens his eyes once again to reveal slitted pupils gazing at the girl. With the transformation done, he drops his hands back to his sides and gives a grin that looks a bit more evil than it had looked before.
Anzu shakes with excitement at the continued transformation of her teacher! "Ohhhhh! That's amazing, sensei! Now you're like a cross between a snake and a tree! Did you have to form a tree summoning contract too?" She doesn't really get it, it seems. But she doesn't seem scared of the inhuman appearance at all. But the, she appears to be a bit odd like that. This young woman seems to be completely comfortable with giant snakes and monsters.
Which makes sense given how she has spent the last few years, living with a giant snake in an inn with an unusual number of spiders of all shapes and sizes.
A snake and a tree? That's one Shuuren hasn't heard before. Matsuri must not let the girl read a lot of legends about monsters other than the ones that hang around the inn. He chuckles a bit and shakes his head. "Remind me to lend you some books later," he says before reaching into his jacket for a scroll that he opens up and causes a puff of smoke to go up around them that reveals a cot with linens already laid out between them when it fades away.
"Go ahead and lay down," he instructs her, waiting for her to do so before he would place a hand on her head to run a diagnostic jutsu. He's pretty familiar already, but he likes to be absolutely certain before he begins a treatment. The Daimyo likes to perform perfectly, after all. "This next part will look and feel a little strange, but I'm going to need you to stay calm and relaxed, alright?"
The pale-skinned young woman nods cheerfully. Books? She likes reading. She'll be sure to ask later! Though… Having to lie down on a cot now? What kind of jutsu is this exactly? Anzu doesn't hesitate to do as instructed, but she's beginning to wonder what is about to happen to her. Perhaps a bit late at this point. But she lies back, waits as Shuuren scans her bod, and finds her physiology is the same as the last time she was checked. The only change in her is her Chakra, which seems to be the smaller portion of a mass of Chakra that is divided inside of her. The much larger amount lies on the other side of some barrier, trapped, and unable to get through.
Perhaps her Chakra Gates are blocked up or something. They aren't supposed to be opened much in the first place, their purpose being to limit the body's output to lengthen lifespan. But if they are closed too tightly, perhaps due to this mental disturbance, that might be why there's that build up of Chakra…
…Though that doesn't explain its twisted, inhuman nature. Aside from her Chakra imbalance, she is physically fit. Especially since beginning her training under Shuuren. Right now she just smiles contentedly with the monstrous-looking Daimyou's hand on her head, eyes closed, and breathes a deep sigh as she waits for whatever is about to happen.
After reading the information available, which is mostly things he already knew from the use of one jutsu or another in his rather huge range of abilities, Shuuren nods and takes his hand off her head. "Ready to begin. Remember, stay still as best you can. I'm going to need to link up with your body to perform this jutsu. It will feel a bit strange."
He steps around her then, doing just that as he takes a relaxed stance beside her. Chakra begins to flow through his body then as he prepares for this jutsu, whatever it may be. Once the chakra is gathered, he then opens his vest and then his shirt, revealing his rather insanely sculpted torso… but that doesn't stay the most interesting part for long.
From his navel and abdominal area, a rather huge snake extends out from his body. It moves over her and then down to her own exposed navel area. Rather than biting or even simply touching, however, she would feel the snake melding with her own flesh, linking the Daimyo's body with her own. She can feel his own chakra and being linked up with her own, preparing to temporarily offer her his gift of healing that she may regain herself.
Anzu continues to show no signs of fear or reluctance, though she is a bit puzzled and nervous about what this strange experience is that she's about to undergo. The feeling of something touching her flat belly makes her breathe in a little, reflexively trying to pull her smooth flesh away, but there's not really anywhere to go, and she gets over her momentary discomfiture pretty quickly—BUT THEN SOMETHING IS MERGING WITH HER SKIN WHAT.
Her eyes snap open and she looks down, her heart rate increasing as she sees a giant snake or something fusing with her body. "UMMMMMMMMMMMMM." she lets out in utter incomprehension and confusion. She can feel the unusual link form, feel the way that she is now physically connected to her sensei… This… Isn't how she thought this might happen. She feels tingly in various places.
Is she getting some kind of transfer of something or other? A portion of this Snake Sage flesh to help her grow strong enough to overcome the blockage in her memories? She doesn't know, but her attention is now quite fixated on what is going on, and despite the request to relax, she is tense as can be.
Well, trying to get her to relax went about as he thought it would. Perhaps sedating her would have worked better, but at least she sees something of how some snake jutsu work at the highest of levels. It's quite a unique thing. Truly most people that this jutsu would be used on probably wouldn't be conscious for it since it's generally used to treat the most grievous of wounds, even fatal ones. Anzu's one of the only ones that'll ever get to actually see it being used.
With the link created, he is able to free his hands up. He places a hand on her shoulder to reassure her. "Try to relax." The snake begins to seems as if something is pumping through it from Shuuren into the girl, his own cells being shared with her as his chakra flows into her to begin to heal her from the inside out. Not only would she feel her mind beginning to heal, but it would feel as if her entire body was beginning to instantly regenerate at an incredibly extreme pace. Any wounds and lingering injuries would mend, her entire body as a whole being healed inside and out as it is temporarily allowed the extreme regenerative abilities of the Serpent King.
Anzu tries to relax, taking in another deep breath as Shuuren tries to comfort her, but then choking on it when the regenerative power starts flowing into her. At first, things seem to be going well. Her body is healing, the latent damage from a particularly powerful venom fading away to nothing. But then something starts to go wrong. Because Anzu tenses up again. Then she starts bucking up off the cot, her eyes dialated, glassy, not seeing what she's looking at. She starts screaming and thrashing. As Shuuren pumps healing snake mojo into Anzu, he might have enough of a connection to see or feel some of what's going on in Anzu's head.
Flashes of red and black. Jarring, shattered images. Jumbled sensory impressions. Voices run together until they're incomprehensible, with only brief moments of words becoming a bit more understandable, visions a bit more clear.
'You are the only one.' 'You will infiltrate' 'The great circle of the serpent is everything!' 'Hey, senpai, what are you doing he' 'Your life only has worth if shed for the great serpent!' 'There she is!' 'We will all be reborn within the circle, but only if we die in the great serpent's service!' 'You do not have to live like this.'
Then shattering pain, and the deep cold and overwhelming darkness of death, coming to claim them… Her? Him? Mixing together… The memories leaking…
Anzu rolls off the cot unless physically restrained, trying to break the connection as that putrid Chakra leaks from her like the cold sweat that runs down her ghost-pale skin. Her eyes bear reptilian slits for pupils, her teeth are elongated into fangs suitable for injecting venom. "I can't… No more…! I didn't want to… I won't go back!" she mutters to herself as though in the midst of a fever dream.
Whether Shuuren sees or feels these images or not is hard to tell, as his expression remains steeled the entire time. The Daimyo is no stranger to darkness and death, after all. He focuses on his task, which is assisting her and being sure she makes it through this safely. As she starts to buck, he moves his hands to hold her so she doesn't wind up flinging herself to the cave floor and hurting herself. This would, in turn, prevent her from rolling off the cot.
The connection, however, would break, allowing the extra flesh of the created snake to sink back into his body and vanish as if it were never there. The jutsu is complete, after all. All that remains now is for her to get through these memories that are flooding through her mind. "You are still here, Anzu-san. I won't let anything happen to you," he assures her, hoping that message will get through to her as she fights against the reawakening of this part of her conscious and subconscious.
Once Anzu is back to her senses, she sits up slowly, breathing heavily, looking extremely worn out despite the revitalizing effects on her physiology from Shuuren's healing. She shakes her head. Then she shakes it again, trying to clear it. Then she looks up at Shuuren and asks, "…What happened?" Her eyes are still those of a snake, though her fangs have retracted, and her Chakra levels are diminishing gradually.
It seems that she doesn't quie fully remember yet. But now that the barrier has been broken, and the damage undone… Perhaps the rest will return with time. And perhaps the answer to where this enormous potential within her comes from, and how she might control it.
The teenager feels around her belly, checking to make sure there isn't some snake sticking out of it still, but it seems her skin is normal again… Unless some scales have been left behind or something. She frowns, and shakes her head again. She still hears echoes in her mind, but they're less distinct now. She does hold up a hand and flex it, like she can feel the added power there, even as it withdraws to a cold pit inside of her. "…With this… I think I could summon properly. Maybe I should do it before it fades away. Sorry, sensei! I need to try something!"
She leaps up off of the cot, the strength in her legs going out of her the moment she tries to stand, making her stumble. But after a few moments she regains her balance, and hurriedly makes the hand seals. Then she intones, "Kuchiyose no Jutsu!" She slams her palm down on the floor, and enormous cloud of smoke explodes outwards from where she touches the cold stone.
When the smoke eventually clears, there's a serpent there. A large, white-scaled one. With traits of both a python and a rattle snake.
It seems that Anzu's first successful summon is… Astarot?
The warped Chakra she used seems to be what's needed for her to summon properly. But Anzu is less interested in that fact, or even that she succeeded, and more so in who she summoned. "…Asutaroto?" she says in confusion. She seems to have already recovered from whatever traumatic experiences she was reliving under Shuuren's care. Or at least to have become sufficiently distracted to not think about it right now.
By the time Anzu starts to come back to herself, Shuuren's suit has been put back in order and his horns and such extra features faded away. His true form, however, remains visible as he has not put the mask on that he wears daily again. A gentle smile rests on his face as she seems normal enough when she stirs. Her own body will have returned to normal, no marks left behind by the jutsu performed. Shuuren prides himself in perfection, after all.
"You began unlocking pieces of your soul that had been hidden away. You will recover more, but it will take time," he answers, a bit vague but hopeful nonetheless. When she hops to her feet to try the jutsu again, he steps aside and observes curiously…
The snake revealed is much more impressive than an egg this time. In fact it seems to be the girl's own companion, which brings a slight smirk to the Snake Sage's face as this pieces together some of his theories on Anzu's origins a bit more. Astarot is more at home here than in Kumogakure, much like Ryutaro and now Shuuren and Anzu.
Astarot flicks his tongue out a few times, tasting the air, glancing briefly towards Shuuren before pivoting his head towards his charge, and looking Anzu right in her snake-like eye. Astarot's own eyes remain, as ever, a pure black like marble spheres. But then he does something that he has not been observed doing before.
"You have passed the first test. As ordered years ago, when you call me with the Power of the White Snake, with the contract of Ryuuchi Cave, you will be ready to meet she from whom you were born." Astarot rises up on his coils. "Your mother awaits: here among the snakes. The First Snake Sage."
Silence reigns for several long moments in the aftermath of this dramatic announcement.
Then Anzu yells, "Wait! You can TALK!?!"