Takeo’s Sage Journey - The Final Tests


Tsubaki (emitter), Takeo

Date: June 12, 2015


Takeo gets to learn from the last two Great Turtle Sages to master Sagehood. Well, in an imperfect manner…

"Takeo’s Sage Journey - The Final Tests"


Takeo would spend many a day with Natsuen trying to balance the natural chakra flowing into him. Each day, he'd end up turning into a turtle, which resulted in a loud THWACK across the back of his head. The good news is that they were no longer standing in water to do this, so Takeo didn't need to spend chakra to water walk. The bad news is that the hits would seem to come more and more frequently, especially at the beginning. But eventually they would slow down until hours would pass as Takeo slowly mastered how to balance three sections of chakra.
About ten days into the training, Takeo would be deemed worthy of continuing to the next step. "Travel East and South," instructs the Elder Turtle in his giant turtle form. "Your next teacher is Shuurei no Kame, Autumn Chill of the Turtles. He will instruct you on what is next." And then Natsuen would vanish, though the heat that seemed to permeate the area remained.

In his frequent attempts over the time spent with Natsuen, Takeo did find some worth in failure - an understanding of the world from a turtle's perspective! He'd been one in a chakra cloak, his companion was one, but he'd never existed as one. Fortunately, the young man never petrified thanks to those frequent thwacks from the coral staff. Time and time again, he made his attempts, and there was little use in protest. His sensei's patience was endless, for this time was but a blink of an eye for a turtle. Takeo's looking a little more mature, though, and his mane quite a bit longer than when he first set out.
"As you wish, sensei. I would thank you for your …" Takeo's bowed down, but he sighs lightly and says to himself, … "time. Is goodbye not a custom for the Turtle Clan?" So it was that the Sage in training gathered his travel gear and set out in the direction indicated, a lengthy journey during which he often stopped to simply try and feel the natural chakra in different places.

Takeo wouldn't be able to feel much of anything when he stopped to feel the natural chakra. He could only balance it within himself, not gather or sense it. He might be able to barely notice it, but natural chakra was a bit harder to come by without the fish oil helping out. He would slowly have to travel south and east, through Sunagakure and the desert for some time before winding up even further East and South, eventually ending in what was known as the Land of Rivers. Yet Tamotsu would continue in his journey, not stopping until they reached a spot a bit far from civilization. Unlike before, it was kind of cold here. The water was warm enough that you could swim in it, but cold enough that no one would do so willingly.

The journey through Sunagakure leaves Takeo looking a little worn on account of all of the sand, such that he purchases a heavy brown cloak along the way to wrap about his body. He still isn't cutting his hair, only shaving, perhaps out of consideration that he needs to change his image along with the status he pursues. Something more, well, sagacious.
At long last, with Takeo probably now having aged into another year of his life, the young man comes to the Land of Rivers with Tamotsu as his guide. How luxurious it must be to have that armored shell, he can't help but think, to say nothing of the stamina. They arrive at the shore, and Takeo looks around from left to right, warily. Where's this one going to come from? Better to get ahead of it, maybe.
"O great Shuurei no Kami, I am Inuzuka Takeo, a child of the Turtle Clan," he announces. "My lord, I am sent to you now after having spent time under the tutelage of Lords Harukaze and Natsuen on the long path of my training as a Sage. Humbly, I would request your tutelage in the next step along that trail."

The journey through Sunagakure leaves Takeo looking a little worn on account of all of the sand, such that he purchases a heavy brown cloak along the way to wrap about his body. He still isn't cutting his hair, only shaving, perhaps out of consideration that he needs to change his image along with the status he pursues. Something more, well, sagacious.
At long last, with Takeo probably now having aged into another year of his life, the young man comes to the Land of Rivers with Tamotsu as his guide. How luxurious it must be to have that armored shell, he can't help but think, to say nothing of the stamina. They arrive at the shore, and Takeo looks around from left to right, warily. Where's this one going to come from? Better to get ahead of it, maybe.
"O great Shuurei no Kame, I am Inuzuka Takeo, a child of the Turtle Clan," he announces. "My lord, I am sent to you now after having spent time under the tutelage of Lords Harukaze and Natsuen on the long path of my training as a Sage. Humbly, I would request your tutelage in the next step along that trail."

There's nothing. Nothing really to be worth mention. Takeo wouldn't feel the ground shake; wouldn't see the ocean turn stormy with waves. There was absolutely nothing. Interesting. Though… If one looked closely… Perhaps they could see something odd in a nearby patch of rocks that looked not-too-far.

Takeo, perhaps not surprisingly, has become rather wary of things which look odd or out of place. There's no answer, though, and this is where the next Great Sage should be. What choices does he have? The young man forges onward.
Taking pause at a cautiously respectful distance from whatever might be within the rocks - perhaps a great shell buried beneath, or were the rocks themselves the shell? - and bows once more. Tentatively, Takeo queries, "Great lord?"

Once again, there is nothing. Then an eye on the rock would open, revealing that the entire rock was actually a giant turtle! Shuurei was smaller than his brethren, but still quite sizable. "You have balanced yourself, then, if Natsuen passed you on to me… Now you must gather that which is around you. It is likely you have felt the energy come inside you as you trained, but you do not know how to get it, yes?"

Takeo is momentarily rather deligted. For once, he had guessed correctly as to where the next of the Four Sages was located! The young man once again bows low and repeats his introduction. "Forgive me, great lord; I did not recognize you at first. I am Inuzuka Takeo, child of the Turtle Clan, sent to you by Lords Harukaze and Natsuen to continue my studies as a Sage. If you would offer me your wisdom in the weeks to come, I would be most grateful."
And, the rocky turtle seems alreadyd prepared to see to the matter. "That is true, my lord. Lord Natsuen trained me using fish oil. I would allow it to flow through the medium, and each time I lost balance, he brought me back. After many moments spent as a turtle, myself, he declared that I was ready to see you."

Shuurei peers lightly at Takeo for a moment, then nods. "Alright. There's a lot of natural energy here, if you can feel it. Try to draw it into yourself. You should be able to balance it with ease, but actually getting it inside you is difficult. I imagine it might take a few days for you to get enough into your body for it to deserve a thump." The turtle closes his eyes and seems to drift off into sleep. While in actuality, he is just checking his surrounding natural energy and making Takeo's is stable.

"On my way here, I tried to simply feel the natural energy of many different places. Seldom could I ever. Maybe a whisper, my lord. Is it because of where I am in particular that this is possible?" Takeo takes a seat as he asks his question, settling in with his legs crossed beneath him. His hands relax upon his knees, palms facing the sky.
Exhaling slowly, Takeo closes his eyes and begins to focus as instructed upon extracting natural energy from the site. It's a new experience to try it without a medium, but he does using those things which Natsuen taught him. The slightest sip, tug, however he can carefully touch that source of power prior and then gradually ramp up his efforts until he feels that he's found an equilibrium between nature and his own chakra. The journey and the lessons have taught him much about the value of patience.

Takeo wouldn't really feel much. There was natural energy, certainly, but none of it was coming to him anytime soon. He would have to strain himself to his maximum. But it should get easier. It always gets easier with practice. Shuurei continues to rest, not answering any questions Takeo might have. He just sits. And waits. And waits. It would be a long time, but Takeo would eventually feel the spark of energy getting drawn into him, should he stay completely still. If he isn't still, it would take longer. Hours, maybe days, could pass without any change.

Takeo mimics Shuurei quite well. For hours, into days, into however long he needed. He sits in his meditative pose, eyes closed, and reaches for the natural energy coursing through the site. Every time he dips into the well, he draws forth a bit more than the last attempt. It tests him to balance the increasing amounts against his own chakra, so he takes his time. He exhibits the patience of, well, a turtle.
Then, there it was. The spark of natural energy not merely passing through him, but retained. Held without his transforming into a turtle. It's a moment of elation when he finally achieves that first step of critical understanding, but one wouldn't know it from his stoic exterior. Complete balance and calm.

Once the spark happens, it slowly becomes easier and easier to draw upon the natural energy. Days had passed since Takeo first came to Shuurei, but eventually he gets that spark. And then only a few more days pass until the Inuzuka is able to draw upon the energy enough to enter a primitive Sage mode. Shuurei hmms softly as Takeo gains the traits of a turtle. "Good…" he says with a nod. "Now you must work to maintain that for as long as you can. A few days should do it." Then the large turtle settles down once more, waiting for Takeo to shift back from his new form.

Takeo can't see the initial changes, of course. The blue shade beginning to take over his eyelids, the appearance of scales here and there. These things come and go before closed eyes better focused upon the flow of natural energy he's at last achieved. It's a primitive sort of control, but it invigorates him to the core even so once it achieves a balance with his chakra. It's another new state of being, now the third or fourth he's experienced in his time, but this one is so … alive. Indeed, nature was as powerful as Harukaze had long ago implied.
At this point, he's transitioned from uncertainty to determination. The budding Sage has mustered his first great success, and he realizes in that moment that losing his Bijuu does not mean he's lost the only power sufficient to protect life and kin. Every instruction given to him by Shuurei over the days to come, Takeo follows to the letter. Now, there's a fire in him, a drive which nevertheless doesn't unbalance him. Maybe that's a good sign.

Shuurei takes a few moments to peer at Takeo. "Hm…" is all he says as he examines the Inuzuka. "There are limitations to this power. You cannot gather natural energy unless you are completely still, which makes this hard to use in combat. And as you use the natural energy, you will, obviously, lose it. This means that you need to either stop in the middle of battle, or you must have something else gather it and transfer it into you."

"Stopping in a battle where I would need so much power /would/ likely mean a swift death," Takeo agrees in a calm voice, keeping half of his concentration upon the task of gathering the natural chakra while maintaining a balance. Wouldn't do to lose control after having finally had the revelation as to how all of this works. What a revelation it is, too, to tap into that which flows through all life.
Still, there's room for thought. "Well, we've established that stopping won't usually be an option," says the young man. "I suppose that Tamotsu could be a proxy? He could gather the energy and channel it into me, like a shunt. It'd keep him busy, but the power I would gain might make up for it."

Shuurei nudges Takeo over, the ground itself moving so that the 'boy' ends up on his rump. It would likely break his concentration, and thus his hold on the natural energy. "Perhap…" he rumbles. "Before we focus on gathering the energy while moving, though, you need to test your skills with that. As little concentration on gathering as possible, but stay still so you are always taking it in." The Great Turtle hasn't moved from his spot at all, interestingly enough. Suddenly, with a *POOF*, Tamotsu is there in front of Takeo. "I doubt Tamotsu-kun wants to stay on your shoulders. He's a bit heavy. And myself and the other Sages are not fond of abandoning our islands just to assist in battle. Which is why, after you are able to do more than just meditate to this point, you will travel to Fuyukoori no Kame."

Takeo is fortunately treated gently enough, by giant turtle terms, that he doesn't suffer harm from being nudged back. Well, except for the unpleasant fall onto his hind end. Over and over in his head, he tells himself to not let the disruption cause him to lose control of the chakra he's taking in, but the risk is present. Present enough, in fact, that he cuts off his efforts rather than tempt disaster.
"Yes, I think Tamotsu is a bit large for that. Even just hanging on to my shoulders with his front legs, he'd crush me!" Takeo chuckles at that, scratching lightly at the back of his neck. "Of course, I wouldn't expect the great lords of the clan to come and help a lowly child such as myself, except perhaps at the climactic battle in our current war. As a guess."
So, the obvious question follows as Takeo reassumes his prior pose and begins to once again carefully draw upon the chakra pooling within this particular site. "Fuyukoori no Kame? What will he teach me, if I may ask? I recall Lord Harukaze mentioning that he likes surprises …"

Shuurei blinks and peers at Takeo. "Why should I spoil his fun? You'll find out when you get to her," the turtle says, waiting for Takeo to gather the natural energy once more… Only to knock him down again. Huh. While a few may consider this rude, it is just another way to train Takeo to hold his concentration under the worst of circumstances. He'll only be able to use the energy he has rather than collect new energy, but what he has should at least stay with him after being knocked over.

Takeo is beginning to sense a pattern, here. Whenever he successfully begins to collect nature chakra again, down he goes. The first time might've been an accidental nudge or somesuch, but not the next ten or more thereafter. The young man begins to perceive that he's being chided - or taught - for backing off when he senses a risk to his own control. Eventually, Takeo begins to attempt retaining it even when Shuurei knocks him back. At first, he fails, of course. At first.
For however long the Great Sage should wish to keep him here, the young man perseveres. He takes each blow from that big foot and learns a little more each time, as well as growing older and more disciplined in the passage of that time. This long journey had already changed him greatly as a person, and there was still one final Great Sage to be seen.

Shuurei continues this exercise until Takeo is able to gather chakra and keep it to his form. This would last for… Yeah, a long time. The turtle is patient, though, and eventually Takeo is able to complete his training. Shuurei would instruct Takeo to travel to the East and a bit north, which would lead him near the waters of Kirigakure. Tamotsu would stop, though, before they entered the Land of Water. This time of year, it was cold when they reached it… Yet it was even colder where it was that they finally ended up. There were even ice bergs in the water!

Takeo endures Shuurei's tutelage until, at last, he is deemed a master of actually gathering and holding natural chakra. By that time, his hair's grown so long that binding his topknot with a mere cord is proving to be quite the challenge. For whatever reason - again, perhaps apperances - he doesn't simply draw his kunai and cut it off. Takeo would soon be grateful for that as he's sent off into the frozen wilderness near Kirigakure, a place which makes him rather uneasy. For a very long time, he was forbidden to go anywhere near that village even if others were ordered to.
As he trudges onward, Takeo uses his Wave manipulation to redirect some of the water in the air away from their path, like a little tunnel. If they had to freeze, at least a dry freeze would be a touch more bearable. Quite some time after he'd left Shuurei's domain behind, icebergs are before him and he comes to a halt.
Already, Takeo looks at the icebergs as suspect. Perfect cover for a shell. Still, he shows the same respect as he has to the others. "O great lord Fuyukoori no Kame," he announces with voice raised. "I am Inuzuka Takeo, child of the Turtle Clan. By the bidding of the three Sages before you, I have come to seek your tutelage on the final steps of my path to become a Sage. I would be deeply honored, my lord, if you would come forth and guide me to the end of this long journey with your wisdom."

Much like the times before, there is silence before there is rumbling, the water cracking, then shattering since it had frozen under the surface. An… extremely large turtle makes its appearance. The turtle's shell is a cyan, white frost along it to show just how cold it is. It's actually surprising that the turtle can live like this, yet still have a very green island on the back of its shell. "So, you've been listening to those bakas? I suppose yes…" The voice is, despite its earth-shaking ability, female, interestingly enough. "Summon your companion," she orders, not wasting any time.

Ah, a female? This was a change. Takeo bows low before Fuyukoori to demonstrate his respect, holding it for some time. "Yes, great lady, each for their own length of time. Each has taught me something of worth and sent me along. You were said to be the last, the final step."
Right down to business, this one. Takeo can appreciate her beauty, though, as a creature of water in his own right. Well, now closer to nature than anything, but water even still. "Tamotsu, I need you," the young man says, hoping that the turtle had managed to keep up behind him as they ventured out onto chilly terrain.

Tamotsu can't really come without the seals and the blood… Fuyukoori eyes Takeo like he's crazy, wondering if he even knows how a summon works. "Did you even learn the seals? Did Harukaze tell you about the blood we need?" If Takeo said 'no', the turtle would sigh loudly. If she could facepalm without shaking the world, she would. "Ano baka…" she mutters, telling Takeo the handseals and telling him to give a bit of blood to actually summon his summon. "Was Tamotsu-kun just always with you up until now?" she asks with a raised brow (if turtles have brows… her tone suggests that's what she would be doing!)

"Respectfully, my lady, I was once Jinchuuriki. I understand these matters. He was just behind me, though, yes …" He didn't know where Tamotsu had gotten off to, honestly. "The other Great Sages have asked him to guide me from place to place. I know he was still with me about when we hit the cold." Takeo lifts a thumb to his mouth and pricks it with one of his enlarged canines, thereafter forming the seal necessary to call his companion into his presence.

Fuyukoori simply sighs again. "Keep a better eye on him. At least know when your companion has disappeared." She shakes her head quietly, sending a few waves over the shore. "This should be easy, at least. Tamotsu has been training while away from you to accomplish his task. He must gather natural energy. Then share it with you. This can only be done through contact, so you either need to henge into something a bit more manageable, or you need to find yourself a smaller partner." For now, Tamotsu just henges into something small.

Takeo inclines his head mildly. "As I'm sure you know, great lady, finding a small member of our family is no mean task. Henge may be the better choice for the time being." Assuming that the turtle has transformed into a smaller version of himself, or a smaller creature of some kind, he provides his hand as a bridge up to his shoulder. "I'm sorry that I lost track of you back there. I know you don't like the cold." He smiles apologetically at this version of Tamotsu. "That said, I appreciate that you spent your time away training for this final step."
Turning back to Fuyukoori, he bows before her once more, remaining just upright enough for his companion's sake. "Forgive me if I have already failed to seem worthy in your eyes, great lady," Takeo says, "but I have come far and changed much from the man I was. I cannot easily surrender here, at journey's end. My duty now will be not merely to containing a Bijuu or protecting walls, but to the world." He rises and asks of her, "What would you have us do, Great Sage, or is transferrence of energy your only command?"

"Just be sure to share. It's not that hard. Take a few days. A few hours. Make sure you don't draw on that which is around you, but allow the energy to flow into you. Tamotsu can do the energy collecting. Just leave your job at balancing and using what he gives you," the Turtle Sage says, settling to make sure nothing bad happens. The first try should take a couple hours, but after that, much like usual, it gets easier.

For Takeo, this isn't quite so unusual as most of the other trials. The natural energy, much like a river, is merely following a winding course through Tamotsu and into him. The first few tries don't go quite as planned - they never do - but he's been at this apprentice business for long enough to learn quickly enough. Working in tandem with his companion has become far closer to second nature than was the case when they'd first met, and now, nearly six months of travel together solely for this goal.
All things being ideal, there are mishaps, but no disasters for the Great Sage to diffuse. The mental comparison between the flow of the river and the flow of natural chakra from the source to the mouth helps things along for him. In due time, they become more and more efficient at the act.

Fuyukoori waits, watches, and senses. Takeo needs to keep focused this time, but less on drawing in the natural energy and more trusting that Tamotsu would provide just the right amount. It takes about two days before the two are deemed to be able to use this new mode well, and then another five days for them to use it well while fighting, which is Fuyukoori's second test for the pair.

Takeo does indeed take well to fighting in tandem effort with Tamotsu. After all, once upon a time, there had been another turtle of a sort he'd shared a great many battles with. That certain turtle still lived within him as a spark, keeping him alive in turn, but the young man no longer lived for its memory. Rather, Takeo had found balance with it and given himself to the greater cause that was the world. It was the long product of six months of training, four ancient beings sculpting him into something different and greater than he had been before - in person, in power, and in purpose.
On the tenth day, Takeo works hard with Tamotsu to demonstrate what he's accomplished. They put on a display as if fighting a mock foe, his powers amplified by the natural chakra being funneled into his being by his companion. So well has he taken to it, he's already manifesting the physical signs. An ice blue shade about his eyelids, patches of scalelike shell sprouting in symmetrical patterns about his limbs and upon his brow. Even that mane he'd allowed to grow and grow over six months added to the image of wisdom he felt he should convey in accepting such a duty and role.
After roaring one last spear of empowered pure water into the air, Takeo turns and bows down before Fuyukoori. "Was that to your approval, O great lady? For what it may be worth to you, I certainly feel the difference. It feels as though my body may change further yet without the balance being undone, with time and training."

Fuyukoori peers a bit. "It's alright," she says, perhaps a bit grudgingly. Some turtles had their pride, and she was one that wasn't all too excited about having Takeo join the Clan. But she could accept it. "Just be on your way and make sure you're relying on your summon well and everything. We might come and test you again to make sure you're holding up on your end of the bargain."

"To him, and the world which provides for this power, great lady," Takeo says, bowing low before her as he takes her grudging admission as announcement of his success in the long road to becoming a sage. "I am most grateful to you and your fellow Great Sages for your tutelage. To Tamotsu, as well, for becoming my companion as he has." Another bow is issued before he rises. "Now, Great Sage, I must return to my people. Six months have passed, and they may well need this power for their war against a great evil. Nature may need this power. I leave you to the peace of your icy sea once more."
Takeo reaches up and pats Tamotsu's tiny, henged self upon the shell in an appreciative fashion. The little turtle disappears in a poof of smoke, and the man who would be of the Turtle Clan and nature both sets back on his long road toward home - perhaps stopping off to visit the first Great Sage along the way.

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