Date: June 8, 2015
Michiko is summoned by Nagamura Shuuren, Daimyo of the Land of Tea, for reasons unbeknownst to her…
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"Michiko’s Sage Training - Tea for Two, Pain for One"
Land of Tea
With the coming of late morning in the Land of Tea, Nagamura Shuuren can be found in his office, looking through paperwork as usual. While some might expect him to be interrogating yakuza prisoners at this point, it seems he has trusted soldiers working on that… or maybe Shadow Clones. As he glances through scrolls, he eyes the time and figures his 11 o'clock appointment should be waiting outside or arriving pretty soon, thus he flips a switch so that his secretary brings in a fresh kettle of tea on and set of glasses a few moments later and sets them on the table. He nods to her in thanks before saying, "Show her in when she gets here. I'm basically at a stopping point on this paperwork."
Michiko would have received a note while she was in Kirigakure asking her to come to the Tea Daimyo's Palace. Since the man himself was in Kirigakure for the tournament, the reason he wanted to meet with her is likely something he didn't want to discuss around a town full of potential spies. Whatever the case, she's been invited and even offered a diplomatic suite free of charge for the duration of her stay.
The note from the Tea Daimyo was … surprising, to say the least. The fact that Michiko got the note and she hadn't asked him due to Kumogakure business (who knows what that would end up as) made her a bit suspicious, so she her guard was up when she decided to take the visit. Her match was one of the last ones, so she could probably take some time… Maybe… Regardless! The girl is now in the Land of Tea and getting the Secretary to show her to Shuuren's office. A knock (or something similar) would announce her presence before she entered the office.
Hearing the knock, Shuuren looks up and smiles as he sees the guest coming into the office. "Ah, hello. Glad you could make it," he says before rising and nodding to her in greeting. He then reaches across the desk and pours tea in both glasses. Rather than being handed a glass, she's allowed to choose to show that there's been no foul play in either glass. "I hope your trip was pleasant. You'll be accomdated well while you're here." Once the glasses are poured, he sits back down and looks up to her once again while he gestures for her to take a seat. "I know you must be wondering why I called you here, but I think you'll be glad and understand why I called you here rather than simply speaking to you about this in another village once you know the reason."
Michiko offers a light bow to Shuuren, taking a cup of tea when it's offered. "Ah… It was well enough. Fortunately I didn't get lost on my way here." The girl considers the tea as she takes a seat, blowing on it carefully before taking a small sip. An eyebrow is raised when he talks about the 'why' she was here. "Is that so? Well… I look forward to hearing the reason…" The girl peers curiously at the Daimyo, still unsure what all this is even about.
"Good to know," Shuuren says with a nod before taking a sip of his tea. At her next comment, he smiles slightly and says, "The reason is simple. I still consider Kumogakure a home, and I see potential in you, as does Hiei obviously due to your position. A Kage does not stand on his own. The stronger those who support him are, the stronger he can stand for the village." He pauses briefly to take another sip from his glass before setting it down on his desk as he continues, "I hope you don't mind the intrusion, but I overheard you talking with your fox companion about ways to get stronger, and I think I can help you… I will note that the way I'm offering to help you is an incredibly rare and dangerous path, but after observing your fights in the tournament, I think you can handle it…. I'll ask that you keep what I trained you in a secret, and you'll have to have complete focus in this training. If you waver, the jutsu itself will kill you, but, if you pull it off, the power you'll obtain is in a class of its own. The question is, do you want to take the risk?"
Michiko nods slowly at the comments, knowing that they're basically true. At the comment of overhearing a conversation, her mind immediately flicks back to all the moments she had been talking with her summon, wondering when Shuuren could have heard her talking. He must have passed her while her guard was low or was simply being extremely inconspicuous. It probably didn't matter since it already happened, though. Then her mind returns to the present. A 'rare and dangerous path' to get stronger… "I've taken that risk before. I can't say I survived because it never was fully worked out before my teacher left Kumogakure, but I'm willing to take the risk." Of course, that was back when she was merely a Genin. A Chuunin Aspirant. The Silence had only just reared their ugly heads when she accepted that deal… Should she really take that chance again?
Shuuren seems quite patient in allowing her whatever time she needs to think this over. Once she expresses her willingness to take the risk of the training, he grins slightly and then nods to her resolve. "Then we shall begin. Welcome to Tea Country and your apprenticeship, even if it's temporary… We'll need to move to one of my personal training grounds for this. I hope you don't mind taking a swim. I've got diving suits that will keep your clothes from getting wet." Turning to a nearby cupboard, he withdraws a scroll and opens it, revealing a wardrobe rock with several diving suits on a rack of all different sizes. He reaches to grab his own then waits to let her pick her own size out.
Michiko shakes her head lightly. The water didn't bother her, really. It was only annoying when she wanted to use her jutsu… And now that she thinks on that, she probably /should/ come up with a way to fight while underwater. As unlikely as that case will be… She gets up and peers at the diving suits, commenting, "Useful…" before selecting one that looked like it would fit her.
"I try to be prepared for every situation," Shuuren says before bringing his hands into a seal and sending the rack back into the scroll. He then places the scroll back in the cupboard before turning back to Michiko. "We can summon our respective companions once we get there. No need in making them do the swim as well." With that he'd turn to walk out of the office and down the stairs so they can go out the back door of the palace to the gardens and to the edge of the island.
Michiko follows after Shuuren, giving a small nod. Wait, summons? Considering he never actually explained this new power to her… "So what am I learning from you during this… apprenticeship?" Michiko asks as they walk towards the island edge, toying with the diving suit a bit to study its material. It was something she never had to use, so she was curious.
"I'll explain once we get there," Shuuren says, glancing toward Michiko with a smirk as they approach the edge. He then opens his diving suit to step into it and fully fasten it. "Let's go. Don't fall behind or you could get lost," he says before diving down into what seems to be a direct dropoff rather than sloping edge on this side of the island. About fifty feet down, he stops in front of hole in the island and begins to move through it. From there they go through a snaking cavern that is dark in some places but has decent lightning in others somehow. When they finally come out the other side, there's a large pool leading up into what seems to be a huge underground oasis. This place is full of life, definitely off the road from civilization. Other than some signs of training, in the clearing surrounding the pool, it looks like this place has been relatively untouched by man. There's no telling what all sorts of fruits and other plants are down here, even rare ones. After surfacing, he skillfully discards the diving suit and lays it across the ground to dry. "Here we are."
Michiko rolls her eyes just a bit at the response. She should have figured… The girl pauses at the drop off, copying Shuuren in putting the diving suit on, then pauses at the edge before diving off. Just like cliff diving? Uhh… Sure. She's able to keep up with Shuuren well enough, having worked on her speed quite a bit being part of Kumogakure. When they finally reach their destination, she removes the diving suit in a not-so-skillful manner, flailing and hopping just a bit. This thing was easier to get on… Eventually it's deposited on the ground next to the other and she looks to Shuuren before looking around. A soft whistle escapes her, the Iwata impressed.
"Glad you like it," Shuuren says, smirking slightly before moving his hands through seals and slamming his palm on the ground. With a puff of smoke, two snakes appear before them, one about five feet long, though looking to be mature in age, and the other young-looking but enormous, probably large enough to swallow a bear without even bothering to unlock its jaw. "Ryutaro, Ryoma," Shuuren says respectfully, as he nods to each of them. "Nagamura-san," the giant one responds. "I hope you don't mind the summon. I have a young friend here who's hoping for training, and I'd like to show her and her companion what the jutsu looks like in action before they start practicing it." He receives a nod from each snake before he turns to face Michiko again with a smile. "The jutsu I'm wanting to teach you called Senjutsu. It requires learning to focus an entirely new type of chakra, not from within yourself, but from your surroundings. There is a lot of natural energy in this place. That's why we're here, so it'll be a bit easier on you to get started… Summon your companion so he can observe as well. I promise Ryutaro won't eat him."
"Kimura-san is a girl… And she gets a bit testy when people think otherwise," Michiko comments with a small smirk at the idea of her summon trying to zap Shuuren… That wouldn't turn out very well at all. The girl makes the handseals, drawing a bit of blood from her thumb by manipulating some of the metal she tends to wear into a sharp point. It's constantly near her and her chakra, which means it responds well. Also, she made it herself… With a *POOF*, a single black fox that comes up to Michiko's waist or so appears, and she peers around the area curiously, then eyes the snakes. A few sparks light up along her fur, though Michiko gives the fox a light poke before Kimura does something stupid. "Kimura-san, this is Nagamura Shuuren, Tea Daimyo. And his summons." A nod to both as she says, "Apparently Shuuren-san is teaching me Senjutsu…" to which the fox's ears perk and she peers even more at Shuuren.
"My mistake," Shuuren says, shrugging his shoulders. Of course, he probably either didn't have time to try and judge the gender of the fox when he saw them in Kirigakure or didn't care to. He lifts an eyebrow faintly at the unique way the young woman does the summoning, smirking slightly at the fox seems to be ready to try and stand up to both Ryutaro and Ryoma, which is probably not a good idea. He waits patiently as Michiko explains the situation then nods to the fox as it looks at him. "I'm a Snake Sage myself and a former Kumogakure shinobi, so I have interest in being sure Michiko is as strong as she can be. First I'll explain how this works, and then I'll demonstrate with Ryoma." He looks to the older snake for a moment before looking back to Michiko and Kimura. "First, you need a fundamental understanding of what it is you're dealing with. Senjutsu relies on natural energy, literally the chakra of the world around you. It's introducing a third element to the two forms of energy you normally focus when you use chakra. This takes exact precision in what you gather and use. Focus too little, and you get no results. Focus too much, and your body will fully transform into a fox and then it will turn to stone, and the process will be irreversible. The downside to this is that it takes so much precision to do it that you can't move while gathering it… and that is why you must have a summoned partner to assist you. After you summon them and 'merge' to initiate the transformation, they are responsible for remaining on your shoulder and gathering the natural energy for you to use while you fight. Otherwise the transformation would be useless since you'd only be able to use it when standing still."
Michiko looks up to Shuuren as he starts talking, as does Kimura. The fox's amber eyes actually glare at the Daimyo as he explains, perhaps a tad bit distrustful. This is less about 'Kumogakure' for the fox and more about 'Michiko', considering that it's Michiko that she's loyal to. And if Michiko trusts this dude… Well, Kimura will just keep an eye out for any unpleasantries and get to say 'Haha!' if Michiko is wrong. Michiko tilts her head a bit as Senjutsu is explained, imagining this 'third element'. What she remembers from the Academy and how it would be applied here. She can't help but blink when the man says she could turn into a fox, then into stone. Well, that sounded unpleasant. A look to Kimura. "Heh… I'm counting on you quite a bit more, then, Kimura-san." "You already give me enough work outside of battles…" huffs the fox. "That makes sense," Michiko then says to Shuuren. "Though theory is always easier than practice…"
Though Shuuren notices the glaring from the fox, he doesn't make any sign that he does. He simply continues in the conversation, nodding to Michiko. "Theory is easy compared to the practice. I'm going to be honest. The practice is near impossible. You also may want to see if you can summon a smaller fox who knows this technique later so it doesn't disable Kimura from being able to participate in combat when you're using this jutsu. That's why Ryoma helps me with this rather than Ryutaro unless I'm standing on his back when using it… I do have a couple tools that will help you with learning it. Neither are pleasant in the least. Leaf, one is basically torturous, but they are necessary if you want to live through this training…. But we'll get to that in a moment."
Finally he looks over to the smaller snake, calling him so as to let him know he's ready to demonstrate. "Ryoma." With a simple nod of its head, Ryoma slithers up onto Shuuren's back and lays across his shoulders. He then brings his into a seal as they both begin to concentrate. What happens next is interesting, if a bit disturbing. The Daimyo's skin turns paler and then literally seems to grow scales on top of his skin. On top of his, the shape of his face even changes a bit to look more snake-like. The final eerie piece is that his eyes even change to an eerie yellow color with purple outlines that look like the shape of a snake's eyelids. Once it's complete, he unfolds his hands and holds them out as if to show her. "This is what happens. Your transformation might not be quite as extreme, but your body will change some while you are in this state. The key is to keep the right balance so you gain the power without going overboard to the point it kills you. The line between them is incredibly thin and hard to walk when you're first learning this technique, but we do have a solution for that."
Michiko watches intently, her eyes darting to the smaller snake when it's mentioned. "'Torturous'…" she echoes. "Hopefully I am as durable as I feel I am, or this could turn unpleasant." When Shuuren and the snake merge together, the girl tilts her head a bit, curiosity piqued by the transformation. It wasn't like a Bijuu, which involved making a smaller version and usually complete formations of a limb… She had experience with that. It was … more subtle than that. "I see. I suppose I should… Be careful and really concentrate on my chakra…" Then a small frown as she wonders, "What's the solution?"
"Unfortunately, yes, torturous, but it's the only way to be sure you don't die other than taking in faultily consumed nature energy myself and dying," Shuurn says with a nod then thinks a moment and states. "Make sure you never infuse this chakra into anyone you like. If someone takes it in and they don't know how to handle it, even if you think you've come up with a fancy new medical jutsu with it, they're dead." He then reaches into his coat, grabbing a scroll and then looking back at Ryoma. "Thank you. You can go back home," he says, which the snake then does. A moment later the Daimyo's state returns to normal as he opens the scroll and, with a puff of smoke, reveals in its place a rather ancient-looking wooden staff. It seems to be coated in something to keep it sturdy. On top of that, there is something not quite right about it, like a familiar yet distant evil may've once useed this same weapon. "This staff will allow me to knock the natural energy out of you if you start to transform too much and go toward turning to stone. I was beat with this thing for what felt like an eternity over and again during my training for this jutsu, but at the end of the day it was worth it. Plus, we're both medical ninja, so it's not like any damage you receive will be anywhere near permanent. It'll just be an annoyance for the time being that you'll have to endure on top of learning to keep this new chakra in balance." Then another scroll is drawn and opened, this one revealing a large clay pot sitting right beside the Daimyo. "This is a special snake oil. It was not an easy thing to ask that I allow you to use this for your training, but it's a necessary tool that will allow you to feel nature energy when you normally can't. It'll be instrumental in your first few days of this training. It would help if you were able to sense chakra, but, if you can't, we'll have to make do with what you can do and work from there."
"I'll have to watch out for that…" Michiko comments with a frown, referring to the bit about medical jutsu. She gives a small nod of thanks to the snakes that Shuuren had summoned while Kimura steps forward to sniff at the odd staff that he brought out. The fox kit's eyes narrow and her ears lay back flat on her head as she senses something… But she isn't sure what it is. Her reaction has Michiko alert and a bit suspicious. "What's so special about that particular staff?" she asks, sounding quite normal despite her current sense of unease. The snake oil is peered at as well, but it only gets a nose wrinkle from Kimura. Snake-scent isn't all that great. "Sadly, I cannot sense chakra. I'll have to rely on others for that." She gives a small shrug, as if to say 'what can you do'.
Shuuren lifts an eyebrow slightly at the fox's reaction to the staff then smirks slightly. "It was once wielded by someone not quite as pleasant as I. That's all," he says, shrugging his shoulders. "His presence may yet linger on it, but it'll get the job done nonetheless." Turning to the pot, he opens the lid and then reaches in with a handkerchief to dab a little and then steps forward to rub it onto the back of the girl's hand. Of course, this being her first time being introduced to a sage-chakra inducing oil, the reaction should be interesting to say the least, thus he stands ready with the staff, prepared to whack her on the shoulder once she sees the effect. She should at least be able to feel a slight sensation of the new chakra if she's not freaking out too bad about this.
Michiko is tempted to ask 'who', but she'll do that later. For now, she has to deal with the sudden 'intrusion' of odd chakra that comes from nature. The most important component of Senjutsu. There's not too much of an effect at the beginning when it's first smeared on her hand, but eventually a bit of a change would appear. A bit of fur and a faint mutation of her hand as the natural energy begins to take over.It doesn't really shock her, as she had expected change. But it was odd to feel… and trying to keep it all straight in her head was difficult.
WHACK! Just as soon as Michiko has time to look at the new mutation, the wooden staff strikes her across the shoulder to drive the energy from her body. "You'll need to dab small amounts onto your skin after each time your struck with the staff. The smell will probably stick with you for a while after the training, and so will the soreness, but that's all a part of the process." He then looks to Kimura, saying, "You should probably speak with the sage of your clan about learning how to perform your part in this jutsu. Ryutaro could probably help you, but I imagine you'd rather be trained by your own people so your know the exact specifics of how your clan performs this with their chosen ones."
Michiko flinches a bit when the whack comes across her shoulder. That was painful… It would probably leave a bruise, too. "This… is going to get old fast…" she says, looking at the barrel-ful of snake oil with a light glare. Yeah, it wasn't the best smell in the world. Knowing she had to live with it for the next while wasn't a fun fact. Kimura looks to Shuuren, still glaring just a bit. "Yeah, I'll do that…" she grumbles, giving a dip of her head and disappearing with a *POOF* of smoke. Michiko hmms. "… So I just need to keep the chakra balanced… And I'll only know that I am when I'm not turning into a fox. And I have to keep still in order to gather the natural energy. Am I missing anything? Oh… And I get smacked with that staff when I mess up."
"That it is," Shuuren says, chuckling a bit. "I don't get any joy out of it either, but true greatness has to be strived for, even by genius shinobi. This is simply the price to pay when you want to obtain such a powerful jutsu." He looks back to Kimura then, nodding to the fox before it goes and then looks back to Michiko as she goes over what she knows. "That's about the gist of it. The snake oil will help you feel it so you can gather it more easily, but this also comes at the cost of making the transformations quicker, thus the reason we have to keep the stick handy. A few days of this and hopefully you won't need the oil anymore, and we can get down to you being able to gather it and learn to balance it without the oil."
"Heh… I don't think I'm a genius. You, perhaps…" Michiko replies with a light smirk. "I think I'll try again…" she then says, reaching for the snake oil. Unless she was stopped, she would smear some of the stuff onto her fingers and try to get the sense of what gathering senjutsu energy is like. As it gathered, she would also work to try and balance it, though it was difficult to do… Much like the first attempt, the second attempt would result in a bit of fox-hood for the girl.
And with that a long series of meditation and staff-striking would begin. This would only be the start of the training with them not even leaving the training area through the whole process due to the Daimyo's extreme over-preparation with all the scroll-contained items he keeps on him from food and cooking materials to changes of clothes and other necessities. The journey for Michiko will be long and painful, but all the more worth it if she can master this jutsu in the end… To be continued.