Date: July 15, 2015
Soren's been healed of his wounds, and cured of his ailments. After a couple weeks of rest, it's time to get his nose back to the grindstone.
"The Path to Sagehood - The Balance"
The Fox Village just outside the Land of Snow
Once Soren recovered from his surgery (the foxes didn't want his weakened state to impair his abilities and speed the stone transformation by accident), Genkoro had requested Ayame to get Soren and bring him to the usual training spot. The pair would find the large fox outside the cave, tail twitching slightly as he spoke to Kokun about something. The two would near, and Ayame might be able to hear the end of the conversation. "… -o next time, don't leave. /Especially/ when it's someone that's this important." Kokun gives a stiff nod as he acknowledges Genkoro, then he disappears without even glancing in Soren or Ayame's way.
Soren approached, Ayame in tow close behind, and Soren bowed, smiling warmly. "Genkoro. IT's good to see you again." he says, his scent having changed since the last time Genkoro saw him. He grinned a bit, and tilted hiw head before inquiring "How's it been, not having a noisy human keeping you up all day?" he asked, grinning a bit. "Before we begin, I do have one serious question. Today's training session shouldn't take -days- should it?" he asked with a small, nervous smile.
"That depends… Are you in a rush?" Genkoro asks, getting up and walking into the cave. He fully expects that Soren will be following. The fox's nose twitched a bit at Soren's new smell, but that was all. He had a feeling that things would be better, though. After all, Soren had gotten through several months of the same thing he was about to be doing. The large gray fox would settle down in his usual spot, picking up the stick that Soren is probably hating at this point.
Soren followed as they walked. "Not in a rush… not for this anyway." he says, scratching his cheek. "A… situation… developed while I was away from Konoha. I'd preffer not to be away from it for too long, else I might have to bust some heads when I get back. And I really don't want to do that!" he says with a grin. When they entered the deepest part of the cave, and Genkoro picked up the stick, Soren revulsed at the wicked thing. "More whackasoren training? Yeesh. I was hoping we were beyond that." he saysrubbing the one rib he was pretty sure Genkoro cracked. He sighed though, walking over onto the water, settling down into a seated position, his right hand touched the water first, causing him another slight jump, at the moment of disbelief. "Not sure I'm gonna get used to that…" he snickered, settling down onto the water, rubbing his restored limb. After a moment he closed his eyes. "Try not to break any ribs this time please."
"We just need to make sure you have this down," Genkoro says, indicating for Soren to start trying to balance the natural energy that he is going to absorb by staying still. Said stick is poised to thwack the man on the back. A flick of his tail would hopefully tell Ayame to sit down and relax for a bit, as they might be waiting a bit before Genkoro decides Soren is truly ready.
Soren took a breath, and sighed. Natural energy started to flow into him. Suddenly the world rushed into him all at once, and while he tried to balance his chakra, the normal nudge… didn't do what he wanted it to. Almost immidiately the small amount of chakra he pushed to generate was overwhelmed and Soren started to transform once more, his body suddenly shifting, fangs and claws growing, his face extending into a muzzle, as his hair started to change color and become more fur.
Of course, as soon as the energy overwhelmed Soren, Genkoro was quick to thwack the natural energy out of him. "Again," he growls past the stick, ear flicking a bit as he awaits the next attempt. The stick is set down as he says, "You're used to your blocked passageways. It won't be a trickle anymore, so you'll have to put more force into your balancing attempts." Then the stick is picked up again as he waits.
Soren nodded slowly. IT was true… he had been used to his blocked passages for so long. He had noticed the difficulty with his chakra shortly after losing his limb, but had worked around it since. Now…
He smacked his face, pulling himself out of thought, before settling back in, this time, as the chakra came in, his chakra came flooding out, tossing the balance in the other direction, causing him to pedal it for a moment. He pulled back for just long enough, that the natural energy begain to overwhelm him again!
*THWACK* Soren would find himself with a new bruise as Genkoro smacked him again. He gives Soren a bit of a look that says, 'Try harder' mixed with 'I expected more'. Then he settles back down, waiting a bit more. There wasn't much he could tell Soren that the Puppeteer didn't already know, so now it was just a matter of practicing and getting it down properly
Soren grit his teeth, grunting in pain as that EVIL stick whacked him again. "AGH." He says, in disbelief. "I thought we were trying -not- to break my ribs today?" he asked with a grin.
Ayame, who's been sitting in the corner just grins, and pipes up. "What was that! You hiccup or something?"
Soren just grins at her, and shakes his head. "I don't want to hear it from you, pup." he says, shaking his head. "But… I think I got it now. It needs to be steady, but not overwhelmingly strong. Not till I get a better grip on it." he says, nodding. And he closed his eyes. The chakra in his body, and the natural energy around him both started flowing. He started it slowly at first, but built it up until he was blending them well enough. The hair on his arms turned from white to jet black, his ears twitched, suddenly fuzzy and foxlike, covered in black fur. His nose twitched, as his canines enlarged, his fingernails growing sharp, and stronger. After a moment, he even formed a tail! But as his changes settled in, 4 marks crossed his cheeks, almost like whiskers, but more like red Tatoos, while a V formed down his forehead, the point stopping between his eyes.
He took a breath, slowly taking it in. "I know this is supposed to be a sacred place, but seriously, why am I suddenly smelling rotten eggs?" he says, opening his eyes, his Irises golden, his pupils slits.
A low rumble of approval escaped Genkoro. "Good!" he says with a small nod, setting the stick away for the next one who decides to train in the sage arts. "There's only a little bit left of your training, but we can leave it for another day." The fox nudges Soren lightly. "Try to walk back to camp and maintain that form of yours. It's good practice for battle." He knows that Soren will likely drop his transformation without a fox to aid him, but getting used to moving with it going is good.
Soren nodded slowly. "Seriously though, why am I smelling rotten eggs?" he asked, tilting his head a bit, as he tried to get up. As he came to his feet, he started to stumble a bit. "Ah… woah." he says, stumbling upto the wall. It almost seemed like he couldn't get his balance. "Well… that's… gonna take some getting used to." he says, a bit wobbly on his feet right now, his toes seeming to want to walk digitrade, and when combained with his now altered inner ear, it was causing a mess.
As soon as Soren was able to stabilize his form, Ayame jumped to her feet, grinning. "Emi owes me a rabbit now." she says with a big grin, nodding matter of factly. But as Soren starts to stumble, she decompresses back to her full size, and is right there next to him. She gave him a quick 'ok?' glance. "This happen with all your human sages?" she spared a glance back at Genkoro. Yeah, she was concerned after the mess they JUST got through with. Can you blame her?
"To varying degrees," Genkoro replies, staying back so that Soren can deal with his transformation himself. "Usually it depends on how close the one desires to be, as well as how imperfect the form is. Technically, Perfect Sage Mode, which is unobtainable at this time, has very little change. But if the Sage so chooses…" His voice trails so they can fill in the blanks.
Soren nodded a bit as he heard Genkoro's explanaition. After a few minutes, he nodded, signalling Ayame that he should be ok, atleast for now. He came to his feet, and stumbled a bit as he walked, but seemed to have it under control atleast. "I feel so light on my feet." he says, padding around.
Ayame nodded in confirmation, stepping away from Soren, and letting him walk on his own. "You ever seen a sage have this much of a transformative effect?" she asked of Genkoro. For now it didn't matter, but curiosity.
Genkoro pauses. "There haven't been many sages, so I can't tell you much. Best leave Emi to the task, now." He climbs out of the cavern and rolls the Boulder in front of it. "Let's get back to Emi so we can discuss the next step," he suggests, already leading the way.
Once Soren recovered from his last test, he was called to Emi's cave. Genkoro sat next to the small fox sage, intent on seeing this training 'til the end. His tail twitches impatiently as he waits for soren, the grey fox eager to wrap this whole thing up.
Soren appeared somewhat late, but he was relatively on time considering previous performances. When he finally did arrive, he grinned, and bowed his head a bit. "Apologies. Ayame took her sweet time getting me here." he says, scratching his head.
Ayame, who had been following close behind Soren, shook her head, and set herself down behind him. "Oh? I'm the reason we're late? Tell me, who insisted on changing pants this morning, before coming here?"
"Enough bickering!" grumps Genkoro, standing and stretching out his legs a bit. "We're almost done with your training. Now, then. Tell me, Soren, if you remember one of the weaknesses of Sage Mode, however imperfect your current state may be."
Soren blinked when Genkoro snapped, and just grinned a bit. He shook his head, and settled down onto the ground infront of Genkoro. "Well, there are numerous flaws, but they can be mitigated. Most of them atleast." he says, lifting up his fingers. "There's the amount of focus it requires to initiate, and the time required for that focus. That's a major disabling factor. Then there's the problem with balancing the chakra. If someone can throw off your molding through whatever method they could come up with, Sage mode could suddenly be a very bad Idea. Then there's also the time limit. Sage mode can only be held for a few minutes at a time, altough, I belive you mentioned a way to mitigate that previously…" he says, nodding. "Am I missing any…?" he says, concentrating for a moment.
Ayame grins as Genkoro snaps, and shakes her head. "Sorry; we do this alot. No harm meant." she says, laying down next to Soren, and looking at Genkoro, listeningn intently to both the elder, and her partner.
Genkoro heaves a sigh and says, "Sort of… Some of those things aren't factors the more you work in this form. The amount of time you can spend in Sage mode is limited by the amount of natural energy you can gather and how much of said energy you spend." He pauses. "You need to practice to increase the time you can spend in it." Then he glances to Emi before saying, "The preparation time and all is technically correct. To enter sage mode, you must gather natural energy. To gather natural energy, you must stay still. If you're in battle, I highly doubt you want to stay still."
The grey fox continues. "Which is why we've set up a system. We summons, I should say." Then Emi steps forward and hops onto Soren's shoulders. "A sage will gather natural energy and transfer it to you so that you may maintain sage mode for as long as you wish, even if you /are/ moving around like an impatient rabbit."
Soren nods slowly, taking in the words. After a moment, he glances over at Emi, and then nods slowly. "Not sure how in sync Emi and I are yet, but I suppose it sounds like a reasonable enough deal. Although, I'd be worried about the sage on my shoulder eating a fireball or something like that… I tend not to dodge by much of a margin." he grinned, scratching his other cheek. He crossed his legs, and rested his palms on his knees. "… But I suppose this would make it much easier to use this in combat. We can work out the rest later…" he says with a nod.
"She can take care of herself, I'm sure," Genkoro huffs lightly. "Now, Emi's going to gather chakra and share it with you. Be ready to start balancing the chakra at a moment's notice," he says. Said fox does as expected, Emi gathering natural energy by becoming unnaturally still. Then she begins to send the natural energy into Soren's body. Genkoro's brought out that hated stick /just in case/, but he doesn't seem prepared to use it.
Soren blinks, and nods. "No doubt… but concerns are still there." he nods. As the natural energy starts to flow, he takes a breath, and balances the chakra. It does take him a moment, but come on, he's still new to this. But almost without skipping a beat, he balances the chakra, and nods. Surprisingly theres not alot of 'syncing up' to do on his part. He opens his eyes, and the marks of sagehood are already appearing on his face, as the rest of his body begins to shift to match. "So then, is everything in order?" he asked with a raise of his brow. "Seriously though, I don't meant to insult Emi, it's just… I tend to be the one to screw up something so delicate a fact, you know? And if she's going to be imobile while she's doing this… I'd honestly kindof preffer she be a bit better protected. That's all I'm saying." he says, with a nervous grin. He was just concerned for the foxes safety is all.
Genkoro rolls his eyes. "That's all there is to it. Ayame or yourself can handle Emi's protection, if need be, so don't worry so much about Emi and just focus on the fight at hand. Got it?" he growls, staring hard at Soren. The fox's tail swishes faintly over some dead leaves as he stares, then he pulls back when Soren gives a nod (assuming he nods).
Soren nodded. "Fair enough." he says, making a mental note only to use this technique in emergencies. He glanced at Genkoro… and after a moment, he sighed. "Hey Genkoro… mind if I ask a question?" he asked, tilting his head. "You… have you ever felt like you don't recognize yourself? Not like… in a mirror, but I mean, on a deeper level…?"
Genkoro blinks and stares at Soren confused. "No, I don't mind," he says, thinking it was something about sage mode. And then it turns into something else, and he's even more confused. "Ummm… Why do you ask?" He questions, sitting down and making himself comfy for the time being.
Soren took a nice long breath… and looks very serious for a moment. "When… I had the proceadure done, they knocked me out… and while I was out cold, I had a dream. It… made me think about something… about who I thought I was… and who I've become over the years." he says, looking down at the dirt, searching for words. "It's been 12 years since I left the Land of the Moon… and until this last week, I still considered myself the same kid that left it. Despite the strides… despite the fact that I can never go back… despite so many things… I still felt like that kid." he says, barking a tiny laugh at himself.
Genkoro tilts his head, not quite understanding what Soren's getting at. "Ummm… I don't get it," he finally says, looking confused. Perhaps this whole idea was strange to the fox, though. He seemed pretty sure of himself, so it's hard to imagine that he ever harbored such feelings.
Soren shrugged. "Hmmm… It's… hard to explain. I guess… I don't quite get it myself yet, but I feel like I need to voice it somewhere, you know?" he asked, tilting his head. "It's like… I know I'm the same person physically… ok… sortof…" he says rolling his eyes a bit. "But… I dunno. It just feels like… I'm not the same person. I wouldn't make the same decisions. I wouldn't choose to just… run… even if I thought that jerk was wrong…" he says, scratching his cheek. "But… the thing is… I also wouldn't be here. I wouldn't have found so many people that care about me. I wouldn't have met Ayame… she would still be under Kugai's foot… I would never have found this family. I'd still be there… taking orders from a self obsessed prince with a know-it-all complex." he grinned a bit… thinking a bit. It's funny, how all the choices and mistakes we make, bring us just that little bit closer until we figure out how we fit into things…" he says, grinning, and scratching his cheek.
Genkoro snorts slightly. "You think too much. Don't worry about this so much. What's done is done. Live, learn, and stay true to your heart. Not what it would have said, and not what it might say, but what it's saying now." The grey fox's ears flick a bit, and Genkoro stands up and shakes his pelt free of dried leaves. "Got it?" he growls. "If you do, then leave. You're a sage now, after all. We're done training you." He's gonna pretend that he won't miss Soren when he leaves.
Soren grinned at the big gruff foxes statement. He shrugged. "But isn't it a Sages job to think? To contemplate their place in the world, and to further themselves, not only through training, but through understanding?" he says with a small grin. "Don't worry, Genkoro-san, I'm on my way out." he says rising, and glancing towards the Grey Fox. "I'll visit again soon. I'll even catch dinner next time." he says with a deep bow. "Arigato Gozaimashita, Genkoro-sensei."