Kazekage Tower, Sunagakure, Land of Wind, EN.
Every time he covered for Rasa, the dread of one day becoming Kazekage himself got a little bigger.
Clipping the scroll closed, Baki dropped it into one of the large desk’s many drawers and slid it close. Rubbing his face, he tried to wake up, but it didn’t work very well. It was late, very late. He wasn’t nearly as good as Rasa at shifting through the dozens of requests, reports, and spending bills.
While the Kazekage certainly stretched his legs more often than, say, the Daimyō did, the position still had way too much paperwork, particularly during times of peace. Baki had turned down two different requests to build a nightclub in the same place. They had enough of those as it was already.
Everything needed to be looked at from several perspectives. Whether it would harm city security, how residents would receive it, could they afford it, did it benefit the city as a whole?
Baki chuckled. Rasa had stopped caring about what many civilians and even the Shinobi population thought of his decisions some time ago. Baki respected that.
He had just gotten up, deciding to quit for the night when a Shinobi threw the doors open, completely failing to knock. They were lucky Rasa wasn’t here right now, he hated it when someone did that.
“Baki-sama! The Kumo Embassy has been attacked!” the Shinobi, Miyazawa, shouted. He barely managed to slow down to avoid bumping into the desk, and took a second to catch his breath.
By the time he did, Baki was gone. Shaking his head, he turned around and sprinted back down the corridor.
Reaching the window at the end of the hall, Baki threw it open and jumped out, landing on the curved roof below. Leaping in the air, he landed on a nearby rooftop, maintaining his momentum.
It took him a couple of minutes to make it to the embassy, but it was still too long. He could sense the team of Elite Shinobi, one of which was sitting on the roof of the embassy, manipulating a low-level Genjutsu and preventing the passing civilians from noticing the rest inside.
It was always best to keep civilians out of the loop.
“There you are, what kept you?” Ochida commented as Baki touched down on the roof of the building adjacent to the deathly-quiet embassy.
“What’s the situation?” Baki demanded. Ochida tended to be uncooperative with him, though the Senior Puppeteer always listened to Sasori of all people.
“Four dead. But the prisoner we handed over to them four days ago isn’t there.”
“How long have they been dead?”
Ochida took a cigarette out of his kunai pouch and put it in his mouth, the end catching on fire out of thin air. He inhaled deeply before answering, “Guess.”
Baki rubbed his face. His eyes badly wanted to shut, but he had to deal with this now. Something made him suspect he probably wouldn’t sleep tonight.
A junior Puppeteer appeared on the roof in a swirl of sand. They took their sweet time brushing the sand off their clothes before acknowledging those present. Ochida scoffed.
“Everybody inside has been dead for four days, their throats were cut open and they were left to bleed out.” Reijiro said, “We’ve been unable to find any trace of the attackers so far.”
“We need to inform Kumo of this immediately,” Baki decided, Reijiro nodded.
“I’ll wake up Hamada then,” Reijiro said, vanishing in a swirl of sand a second later.
“Shouldn’t we inform Rasa-sama about this first?” Miyazawa inquired.
Baki shook his head, “We don’t have the time. They undoubtedly had a regular schedule of communication with Kumo, chances are they’ve missed a date at least once.“
He turned back toward the tower and initiated a shunshin, vanishing from the rooftop. If Baki didn’t play his cards right, Kumo might decide to go to war with them, and it would most certainly be his fault. The power-hungry country just needed a reason at this point.
Daimyō’s Palace, Kazedama, Land of Wind, EN.
Rasa was shocked. At a complete loss for words, all he could manage was a nod.
Torio understood how his friend felt, but this was necessary.
“How is it coming along?” Torio asked, having turned to Kanade, standing at attention as she had been for the last hour. He was extremely grateful that she’d been the one to accept his request to the Wind Sage more than four years ago. Without her, he might not be alive today.
“As you ordered, sir. It took him a half-hour to reach the garden.” She said tersely.
Rasa looked at Kanade in confusion. Getting to his feet, he walked up to the balcony and stared down at the sprawling garden below. “What’s happening?”
“Gaara’s in the garden,” Torio replied calmly. Rasa started to leap over the balcony, but Torio’s hand on his shoulder stopped him. “This needs to happen.”
Rasa was torn between believing his friend and his instinct. It wasn’t an order, Torio was giving him a choice to trust him. Taking a deep breath, he backed away from the railing.
“This is too soon, Torio,” Rasa argued.
Torio shook his head, “This is the best time.”
Rasa sat down in defeat, “So we simply wait?”
Staring out at the garden, Torio spotted his son at his favorite place in the garden: A large rock in the center of the biggest pond.
The sun had, at last, disappeared beyond the mountains. The moon was just beginning to shine around the edges of the palace; it wouldn’t be visible for several hours. Miyasato regretted that he would not be able to see the Jessamine flowers open this evening. A white bunny peeked its head out of the bushes to his left, sniffing the air.
Deciding it was safe, the furry creature ventured out onto the trail around the lake. Its mate followed behind as they hopped to the edge of the water. A merchant had been selling them in the market square a couple of months ago, and he’d seen them from the palace.
One of the guards had gone to the market and bought them for him before anyone bought them to be eaten. White rabbits were scarce in the Land of Wind, usually dying as babies. He had nurtured them back to health, and they now lived in the garden. It was the right thing.
Glancing toward the Palace, Miyasato could see his father talking to the Kazekage on a balcony high above him. He looked away quickly, not wanting to intrude on his father.
Instead, he found the Koi fish in the water beneath him. He always brought food for them, and pulling the little bag out of his pocket, he scattered its contents across the pond’s surface.
He smiled, watching the fish devour the breadcrumbs.
Something moved in the trees behind him, and Miyasato froze. It was Gaara, staring at him from the cover of the shadows. He hadn’t seen the Jinchūriki leave the palace, but obviously, he’d gotten past the guards.
Sand poured silently onto the ground around him from his gourd as he crouched in the trees. He’d been watching Miyasato for several minutes now, and nobody had shown up to protect him. He couldn’t sense any guards, but that meant nothing.
It was essential to see if they could detect him, and he was starting to suspect that they couldn’t.
Stepping silently out of the trees, Gaara stopped at the edge of the pond, staring at Miyasato, who had his back to him.
He waited. No one appeared, no one tried to stop him. Raising his hand, the sand lifted into the air, undulating around him.
“Are you going to enjoy killing me, Gaara?”
Clenching his fist, sand formed into a spike in the air next to him.
The spike began to turn.
“I would enjoy killing you too.”
Punching forward, the sand flew toward Miyasato’s chest. Gaara’s head pounded, blood rushing in his ears as the spike approached Miyasato’s chest. He’d savor the feeling of Miyasato’s blood. Mother will be happy.
Gaara barely sensed the chakra surge behind him. His sand spike exploded.
He tried to move his arm to order his sand to attack again, but he was unable to move. Looking down, he found himself wrapped in gold dust, restricting him. Sand streamed out of his gourd, trying to reach his father.
The back of his neck stung horribly, and he dropped his control of the sand, causing it to crash to the ground with a thud. He could feel the accursed seal only an inch from his spine, sucking away his chakra.
“Gaara-san, is this the way you treat your hosts?”
Looking back toward the pond, Gaara saw the Daimyō was now standing next to Miyasato. The boy was looking toward him, standing slightly behind his father. His sand had disappeared, having sunk to the bottom of the pond. The Daimyō had stopped his attack at the last second.
The Daimyō waved his hand, and the gold dust restricting him dropped away. Gaara was surprised but showed nothing on his face. The sting on his neck faded. Sand rushed back to him, circling around him protectively.
Hardly a second went by, and his sand once again moved on its own. Leaping up to his left, it barely halted the sharp edge of a war fan inches from his neck. Slowly turning his head, he returned the Kunoichi’s cold stare. More sand poured out of his gourd as it reinforced the sand holding back the war fan. He was losing, the edge slowly getting closer to his neck as the Kunoichi applied more pressure to the back of the fan.
His sand dropped to the ground as the Kunoichi disappeared, reappearing by the Daimyō. Her expression had not changed at all, but her message had been clear. She could and would kill him if he attempted to kill the prince again.
“Please forgive my son, Torio. It’s my fault.”
Gaara looked at the Daimyō, wondering if he’d be executed for attacking the Prince of Wind. Would this be what finally outweighed his value as one of the Land of Wind’s greatest weapons?
Suna had tried to get rid of him before and never succeeded. His father was too weak to kill him.
The Daimyō was about to reply, but was interrupted when Miyasato walked in front of him, “Why would Gaara kill me, Rasa-san?”
Gaara could feel everyone’s eyes on him, though Miyasato continued to stare blankly out at nothing. He sensed his father moving the seal closer.
“I wanted to.”
Gaara looked over at Miyasato, who stared back at him. He’s not blind, Gaara realized.
“You’ll be watched heavily by my guard, Gaara, but I still wish for you to attend the party tonight,” Torio warned and gestured for someone in the trees to come out. A servant quickly obeyed, walking across the surface of the water.
Helping Miyasato down from the rock, Riko carried him across the pond and put him down on the raised wooden path. Gaara watched, disgusted. The boy was weak and pathetic. Why had he wanted their blood? Miyasato would never be a threat.
The Kunoichi and Daimyō vanished in a swirl of sand, leaving Gaara and Rasa alone in the garden.
“Do not try that again, Gaara. I will seal you.”
Gaara said nothing.
“Thank you, Riko-san. Leave now.”
Riko bowed quickly before exiting his master’s room. He had just finished helping Miyasato dress in his clothes for the party when he was dismissed. Heading toward the kitchen, he decided to see if there was anything he could help with.
Miyasato watched his servant leave before turning his attention to himself. He was dressed in a bright white kimono, with gold edging, specially tailored to suit him. Riko had brushed his long dark hair and tied a bang with a silk bandage on the left side of his face.
He didn’t have much to remember his mother by. Indeed, he didn’t remember her at all. But, in one of the paintings of him and his mother, his hair had been bound together with a bandage on the left side of his face. There was no way to tell whether that was something his mother had done, or maybe artistic freedom the painter had taken, but it made him feel like he was carrying something of her with him.
It was childish.
Smoothing the front of his clothes, he noticed his hands were even paler than they had been a few weeks ago. They almost seemed to vanish against the pristine white cloth of his kimono. Miyasato didn’t know why his skin was so different from everyone else, especially as most people were tanned from the Land of Wind’s strong sun. He thought it was because he never went out, but he had proved that wasn’t true.
If he had some sort of disease, his father would have told him, but nothing had been said.
Miyasato left his bedroom and closed the door. Quickly checking the corridor and nearby rooms, he found himself alone. As long as no one could see him, it was safe to walk alone.
Of course, the guards can still see me, Miyasato mused. He couldn’t see the guards in the shadows above him most of the time, although sometimes he caught their movements for a brief second. He was so tired of pretending to be blind, only walking normally when he was alone with his father or father’s guard.
It took him a few moments of searching to locate his father, he stopped in the hallway before he found him talking with the Kazekage, walking toward the dining hall.
Gaara was precisely where he expected him to be, inside his cell-like room. Asurami was guarding the door, but no one else was in Gaara’s hallway. Changing directions, Miyasato entered the room to his left, easily navigating through a maze of rooms and halls. He reached Gaara’s hallway a few minutes later. Asurami noticed him arrive but said nothing.
Stopping outside Gaara’s room, he watched as Gaara turned and looked at him through the door. After a moment’s pause, he turned around and walked away, heading toward the dining room.
Gaara opened his door, though the hallway was once again empty. Considering his options, Gaara took off his gourd and set it in the room before following after Miyasato.
Rounding a corner, Miyasato stopped next to Kanade, who placed her hand on his shoulder. She pushed open the doors to the dining hall and pretended to help him over to the head table.
Nearly everyone in the entire palace was in the dining hall, all eyes on him, although the room didn’t contain even half the people it could hold.
His father smiled at him as he sat down, although Miyasato pretended not to see it. While it looked to everyone like he was staring out at nothing, he was watching Gaara, who’d just reached the dining hall, through the wall behind him. He didn’t react as the huge dining room doors opened again, causing everyone else to look over. Miyasato noticed the Suna Shinobi and Rasa had stopped as soon as Gaara entered the room, and were carefully watching the Jinchūriki. Kanade had not yet left his side.
Gaara walked behind him toward Rasa, and Kanade gripped her war fan tightly. Gaara won’t attack me here. There wouldn’t be any enjoyment in it. One has to savor their kills, Miyasato mused.
After Gaara had taken his seat next to Rasa, Torio stood and clapped his hands. The conversation calmed down and fell silent, all eyes on his father.
“I want to begin by thanking all of our guests for coming on such short notice. A journey through the desert isn’t kind to anyone.”
There was a rush of applause, and the Suna Shinobi smiled, nodding in thanks. They were all gathered together at their own table near the head table.
Torio raised his good hand, and the room quieted again.
“I next want to thank all of the servants, guards, and members of my personal guard for their years of invaluable service.” Torio started clapping, and almost immediately, everyone joined in. When it calmed down a few moments later, he went on. “Some of you might not be aware, but I was attacked a week ago here in this very room.”
Miyasato observed the Suna Shinobi’s expressions. They were worried, not shocked. They knew to some extent there had been an attack, but probably not how recently, or its severity.
“Without the dedication and sacrifice of those here, that willingly took an oath to serve me, my son, and I wouldn’t be here today. Thank you, all of you.”
The dining hall once again erupted in loud applause. The palace servants and guards grinned and slapped each other on the back. It was the appropriate response, many had come close to dying, and many more had died. Eighteen of the Royal Guard died protecting him long enough for his father to arrive.
Things had to change.
The delicious smell of food under his nose kept distracting him. He’d tried a couple of bites. It was delicious as always, but he was trying to focus on what was happening around him. Miyasato had tried to eat and watch other things around him before, but it had always ended poorly. Usually, it was blamed on him being blind. But he didn’t want to embarrass himself tonight.
Gaara hadn’t touched his food or even looked at it. Wondering if perhaps Gaara had already eaten, he scanned the Jinchūriki’s stomach, finding it entirely empty. That was when he noticed a layer of colored sand covering Gaara’s entire body, entirely invisible to regular sight. The guards had been ordered not to allow Gaara to enter with his gourd.
They don’t know Gaara has sand on him. Does Rasa even know? Miyasato wondered. Perhaps Gaara would try to kill him here after all. It wasn’t likely with all the guards being on high alert, but it was possible. Deciding to enjoy his food before it got cold, he started eating, relishing every bite. Rushing through a meal, as some did, was a crime. Every mouthful brought an exquisite battle of tastes in a way only his father and Chef Kakuzo could create. Miyasato was always amazed at the food they produced, despite arguing over it all the time.
He’d seen the eight women tucked around the dining hall before leaving his room and realizing his father wanted to surprise him, he’d said nothing. As the conversation began to pick up again, eight women, each wearing a highly decorated dress and mask, stepped out from behind the pillars.
Meeting in the middle of the room, the dancers bowed to the head table and began to dance the Kabuki. Some servants had left their tables and now moved around the dining hall, clearing plates. The palace’s two musicians entered the room with their instruments and started playing, accompanying the dancers. Several conversations were going on around the room, and he quickly stopped trying to read the lips of everyone speaking. The dance slowly concluded, and everyone clapped. The dancers bowed once more and walked out of the room.
Torio stood once more, drawing everyone’s attention.
“Eight years ago, my son was born, and the doctor told my wife and I that Miyasato was blind. We tried everything. Only one doctor could help, and they could only improve Miyasato’s sight enough to see a little light and shapes.”
Many of the servants seemed amazed at his words.
Torio shook his head, “Yura-chan and I were dedicated to finding a solution, but sadly she died before we could. A year after her death, I did find a solution. It wasn’t perfect, but then again it was better than nothing. I taught Miyasato to unlock his chakra as soon as possible, and he’s been working to learn a special technique ever since.”
He stood, seeing his father motion for him to stand.
“Miyasato, would you explain exactly how the technique works?” Torio asked, and he nodded.
“I cannot see color or light with this technique. By pulsing my chakra regularly, I can reassemble the space around me in my mind based on the way the chakra hits my body when it comes back to me.” He explained. The Suna Shinobi nodded, understanding how such a thing would work. Frankly, it did work, because it was a real technique.
It was called Ekorokeeshon no Jutsu and was usually used by Shinobi to navigate when visibility was extremely low. He had learned the jutsu so that he could answer questions about it if needed. However, he didn’t actually use it.
Torio nodded, and he sat back down.
“Something is preventing Miyasato from taking this jutsu to the next level, and that is the small amount of light that he can still see.”
If everyone wasn’t paying attention before, they were now. Some of the Suna Shinobi were whispering to each other, trying to guess what was going on.
His father pulled a box from his pocket and handed it to him. He took it without turning to look at it.
“Happy birthday, Miyasato,” Torio said, smiling. Opening the case, he found a light gray band made of some kind of cloth. It was incredibly smooth to the touch. Setting the box down, he held the fabric in front of him.
“Put it on.”
He slipped the band over his head and adjusted it over his eyes. It was comfortable and put no pressure on his eyes.
“Thank you, father.”
Torio patted him on the shoulder before turning back toward the guests.
“Now, for the main entertainment!” Torio said, clapping his hands together.
There were several shouts of surprise from servants as tables and benches vanished in large swirls of sand. The Suna Shinobi caught themselves with ease.
Before anyone could ask what had just happened, Asurami appeared in the center of the now-cleared dining hall in a swirl of sand. His snake mask obscured his face, but Miyasato could see his smile. His father had told him beforehand some of what would happen because he needed to act appropriately. But he had reached the end of his advance knowledge.
“Doton: Ishi Ayatsuri!” Asurami shouted.
The floor shook violently, and four posts rose, emerging from the ground around him. Moving like a liquid, the stone split off, connecting the four columns. Shifting his handseal, Asurami jumped up as the rock began to spread, filling in the box they had created. When he landed, the jutsu had ended, forming a raised platform.
Bowing deeply to Torio, Asurami vanished in another swirl of sand.
“You see a sparring platform before you,” Torio said, looking immensely entertained at everyone’s confusion. “Oh yes, we’re doing exactly what you think we’re doing. Everyone is invited to spare against anyone of their choice. If the challenged person refuses, they must instead put on a show for all to the best of their ability.”
Torio sat back down, enjoying the sudden conversation around the room as people discussed who they wanted to fight. “Oh, and I forgot to say. Anyone really means anyone. Who’s going first?”
Miyasato didn’t expect Rasa to stand, and only noticed he had when the man suddenly appeared in the middle of the platform.
Rasa bowed to Torio, getting a nod in return.
“I challenge Miyasato Sakamoto.”
Thank you for reading this story! It was finished on 5/27/2020!
This chapter of the story was publicly posted on: 11/1/19
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OC Creators of OC’s in this chapter:
- Asurami (Created and submitted by Grimtruth)
- Kanade (Created and submitted by Grimtruth)
- Ochida (Created and submitted by Grimtruth)