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Tian-Di

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Chuunin
Doman Clan Compound 3:45 AM

Glowing embers fell from the bowl of the shamans pipe as he tapped out the last of it's contents onto the earth. Before him lay the hated stronghold of the enemy. Those who would twist the power of nature for their own self serving gains. The world was a place of cause and effect even those living in the relative comforts of city life could not escape this fact. Damn up a river and eventually a flood would come to sweep your best efforts away to nothing.

The shaman ran a gnarled hand through his ruddy beard, his fingers caressing the skulls of birds and other small animals that were woven into it's locks. Beside him stood a companion – a great brown bear from the depths of Kirigakure's forest. The shaman was by no means a small man nearly seven feet in hight and immensely strong despite his advanced age. The bear however towered over him nearly double his height and covered in what appeared to be glowing lines that ran around it's anatomy. Emerald eyes that shone with a fluorescent light combined with the lines to suggest that the creature was something supernatural in nature and nor merely a common predator.

Raising an arm the shaman pointed out towards the fortress of his hated enemy. Grunting a noise of assent the forest spirit  (for what else could such a creature be?) loped down towards the entrance picking up speed as it went. At the compound the night watchman blearily came awake before screaming in terror at the hulking form coming towards him. Before the bear could come too close however fiery kanji lit up the ground indicating the activation of hidden seals.

From the aether emerged the guardian of the compound. Rivalling it's ursine adversary in size it was a great oni of blue colouration. One of the descendants of Shuten Doji the creature struck out with an azure hued fist to impact the bear. Such a blow would have easily felled a lesser creature but the titanic nature spirit merely roared it's displeasure and retaliated with a colossal blow of it's own. The shaman nodded to himself – things were going smoothly. Now that he had a good distraction it was time to get to the real reason why he was here. Looking to the tree he stood next the man spoke some commands in a language that hinted at primeval woodlands and beasts.

Climbing down the oaks with amazing speed came several small forms. To human to be kodama yet  clearly native to the Eastern lands they were the Koropokkuru - the little people of the leaves.

“Get me the urn held in the head sorcerers bedchamber.”

The shaman wasted no words in directing the tiny figures. Quicker than would be thought possible the small sprites stole into the compound. While this action would have doubtless set off all kinds of  magical alarms in another situation the forest spirit currently attacking the compound had triggered all such alerts. So they snuck in under the feet of mages and past the fluttering forms of shikigami servants.  Chaos still raged in the compound as sorcerers rushed to provide covering fire.

And discreetly the urn was located , grasped and spirited away to the grasp of the shaman. The older man smiled crooked yellow teeth that could be described as fangs showing within his mouth. The forest spirit sensing that his companion was about to make his departure broke away from combat bloodied and limping under the weight of countless blows and curses.

The shaman had already shifted into a state somewhere between wyvern and eagle the urn clutched firmly in his claws. Seeing this the bear spirit dispelled it's corporeal form vanishing into the aether. It wasn't until several hours later that the head of the Doman family found the urn containing the spirit of the lady Taira no Umeko was missing. An emergency meeting was called and plans were hastily made to retrieve the object.

Di's Office Kirikagure – 11:30 AM the next morning

The detective sat alone in his office sipping from a mug of green tea. Notes related to the Yatagarasu case festooned his desk. Any moment now Kirei should walk through the door and the pair would continue discussions on how to proceed with the case. As Di read he began to hear something at the edge of his perception. It started out distant – a voice speaking in an inaudible whisper. Di did his best to ignore the noise but it got steadily louder and louder overpowering his senses. Di eventualy needed to clasp his hands to his ears in a vain attempt to drown out the noise.

Even as the sound overwhelmed Di more severe effects began to manifest. A flickering played across his form and with an unholy lurch he was tugged from the reality of his room to another place.

Di would find himself hovering several feet above a large trigram set upon a grassy field. Not in his human state but rather his natural dragonic form. Around him stood men garbed in the ceremonial raiments of the onmyoji sorcerer. Their leader clearly the eldest among their number presented what appeared to be a handful of pearls to DI.

“Tianlan Se Long grandson of Bailong and prince of the oceans I summon thee from yon silver palance and grant thee tribute as befits your station. Something of great value has been stolen from me which I desire the return of. Grant me this thing and I shall bestow upon you even greater offerings”

Back in Di's office the trigram which had appeared in the field was now burned onto the wooden floor. When Kiri ineveitably walked through the door he would be met with a strange vista. Floating in the middle of the office would be a rift opened above the trigram. Showing the field which the Onmyoji conversed with Di – almost as if the young Uchiha could simply walk up to it and step through to another place...

(1010 Words)

Kirei

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The Kirigakure rooftops had long become a mesmerizing blur, so routine were his patrols around the city that Kirei undertook his task expertly. The Mist tempered him, forging him from the Leaf Genin who arrived nearly six months ago into a shinobi that Water Country would proudly call its own. Though he still lacked the ruthlessness of a true Kirigakure soldier, the boy was amassing strengths faster than anticipated. Inspired by his companions and mind broadened continuously by experiences in which he found himself embroiled. Given the calm winds and bright moon, the winter's bite had far fewer teeth than usual, reminding Kirei of home. The Uchiha missed the warmth of Konoha's evenings, and his body had done little to adjust even after these long months. His clan's affinity for fire, the boy presumed, was to blame for this maladaptation.

Since the battle at the docks with his masked protector, the boy had made it his mission to hunt the remnants of the pirates that scattered into the Hidden Village. The Mist's administration had bounties and tasks which would have alone motivated the blonde, but this was also a personal vendetta, one for which he felt partially responsible. If he had observed the docks more carefully and been able to get back-up, rather than relying on the luck of his flare, then the higher ranking ninja of the village could have dealt with the pirates in a single strike. Instead, the Uchiha's audacity had nearly gotten him killed, and in the process, many of the gang's members had escaped into the mainland, putting the citizens of the city at risk. Guilt tapped at the boy's spine like lightning strikes, causing him to shiver and push the thoughts from his brain to concentrate on righting his wrong. In his mind's eye, Kirei could see the stares of Jonin as he arrived back, injured and alone, to report what happened on the south shore. They were not so callous as to judge him openly, but the sour feeling of his shameful return haunted his weary head. Beneath his Sharingan hung dark rings of tired stress, marking the boy's usage of the Dojutsu even at this young age as putting strain around his eyes.

The days drew nearer to his meeting with the Mizukage and Kirei pushed himself to the extreme in preparation for his request. He suspected the woman would ask him to prove he was strong enough to undertake the task at hand before she would even entertain the thought of his involvement. Long before he considered himself a ninja, during the last stages of his father's training before he had even attended the academy, Kirei found himself here in the Land of Water, and in it, the blonde had made a promise he intended to keep. The boy shook his head and refocused on the towering administration building which served to guide him around the city. As he neared the monolith, the roof of his dormitory came into view. The silent landing and slip between the window of his bedroom were done as if on instinct, he had performed this secret entry more times than he cared to admit. The boy could distinctly remember only a few months ago when he would arrive in this manner exhausted and wounded, crawling into bed and sleeping precious few hours before returning to his tasks in the Mist. Those days were gone, he now came home with energy to spare, finishing his patrols earlier and waking up earlier still to engage the Village's many assignments.

The following morning brought with it a cloudy, miserable day in the Land of Water; pissing down with rain, the rooftops looked like battlefields littered with miniature explosions as the heaven's artillery pounded them relentlessly. The boy had been up since well before dawn, and his cloak was soaked. Kirei was thankful for the Initiate's cloak's resistance to the weather, keeping him mostly dry beneath its folds while he underwent his lone patrols. He could see, scantly, in the distance, the shapes of village Jonin making their rounds. The administration building had been abuzz with the news of an impending storm from the west, coming in off the sea in the next few days. Combined with the total scrambling of the nation's military for embarking toward the Land of Wind, the city was bustling with shinobi all over. This meant the last few days had been a chore of tedium for the Uchiha, with no criminals willing to surface while the military prowled every street, Kirei found himself with little to do but continue his investigative efforts into Yatagarasu. After handing in the patrol report to his Jonin, Kirei had denied a second mission right away in favor of his current task, meeting with his partner to discuss their efforts.

Pushing the door aside, Kirei lowered his hood and shook free his hair, which fell haphazardly across his eye as it always did. Careful not to soak the floor of Di's office, sparks of Katon chakra would ignite in the air around the boy and evaporate any stray droplets before they had a chance to land. The boy's partner sat studying case notes as usual, and Kirei greeted him with a smile, ready to divulge the information from his interrogation of the nation's various smiths and forges, as well as his efforts to find an underground medical ninja to identify the body samples. As Kirei opened his mouth to speak, he saw Di cringe, wincing and bringing his hands to clasp at his ears, seemingly in great distress. The Uchiha darted forward, gathering chakra though for what he didn't know. Funneling some of this energy into his eyes, the boy's Sharingan activated and immediately he was capable of perceiving the energy permeating the office, spinning into being and gathering in lines which rapidly expanded toward Di before flourishing brightly, causing the Uchiha to yelp and cover his eyes. When they opened, Di was gone, in his place rich iconography bearing a variation of the summoning formula. Above the symbols appeared to be a glowing doorway lined with chakra through which the blonde could see his partner and a circle of what he presumed to be the summoners.

Without hesitation, Kirei pulled his mask and hood across his face and jumped forward through the portal, landing on the ground in the field above which Di floated and looking around at the men who stood there, observing them with his Sharingan the only visible feature through his ANBU mask. Using the ability of the mask to mimic the voices of those he had interacted with, he chose to speak with the pitch of his assigned Kirigakure Jonin, deeper and distorted somewhat by the Cheshire visage. Whoever the men were, Kirei only caught the tail end of their correspondence with his partner and regarded them with caution.

"This dragon is my companion, we travel and hunt together. Any operation he is to undertake I will accompany."

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Tian-Di

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Chuunin
Hearing Kirei's words Di was thoroughly grateful that his friend had somehow managed to make it through to his current location. He was getting a better idea of what was actually going on around him now. The men surrounding him were clearly onmyodo mages and thus it would make sense for what just happened to be a summoning of sorts. As with most beings of a mystic nature Di's connection to the arcane forces that permeated the universe meant that he was susceptible to fuinjutsu and whatever techniques that were derived from it.  

"This dragon is my companion, we travel and hunt together. Any operation he is to undertake I will accompany."  

Di knodded his antlered head in agreement with Kirei's statement.

“Aye if you want me to take on this errand then I will only comply if Kirei is allowed to accompany me”  

This was laced with bravado. Di didn't know if the seals beneath him could actually compell him into taking action against his will. However the mages seemed to be amicable to a trade at the very least so he may as well use this an opportunity to bargain.

“I will treat this as I would any other case however in the future I would wish that you contacted me in my human guise and set up the request as anyone would a normal business transaction.”

The elder mage nodded his head making the tall ceremonial head-ware he bore wobble back and forth comically.

“Yes lord dragon it was not my intention to bring about your ire. Rather I have a task of the utmost urgency that must be completed with all due haste. Were it not such a pressing matter and one with multiple lives at stake we would simply have directed our shikigami or shikiouji to go forth and complete the task. However as time is of the essence we must rely on specialised methods that only a dragon can complete.”

The man's face was grave as he began to explain the plight.

“We have for a long time been at odds with the Jugo clan. Notably the elder shaman who practice their own crude version of the mystic arts. For our larger rituals we both draw energy from the dragon veins that run across the land in great patterns. To collect their energy we have constructed shrines and temples across certain loci so that they may channel the raw power into more workable forms. However many Jugo wish the chakra to be wild and unchained unleashing it as massive surges of growth across the land.”

Di suspected he knew where this was going. By all rights the Jugo probably used these nexus before the Onmyo mages ever arrived however the clan had by all accounts a very rocky history involving civilisation and  society as a whole and thus allowing them access to places of such magintude could cause huge problems.

“The way the shaman intends to destroy these fortifications is by unleashing the power of a particularly devastating type of spirit. Notably an Onryo – the ghost of a noble who died under great tragedy and has thus been infused with immense spiritual power. Until recently we had kept such a spirit safe in our care trapped within an urn sealed with our strongest talismans.  We do not know the exact method he used to take it from us but if he should be able to break the seal the ghost would escape and then cause great calamities upon those who had sealed it, in this case our family and lands.”

Di nodded his head in assent and replied to the elderly man.

“And I presume you want me to use my connection to the dragon veins to track the shaman down with all haste? You had best be grateful that Kirei managed to find his way with me – I don't much fancy going up against such a character on my own.”

The old man bowed low once to Di and then once to Kirei.

“It is not my intention to let the pair of you go unaided. We will send our shikigami servants to assist you in your work.”

Di returned the bow in assent and then wasted no time dipping his consciousness into the bones of the earth and then feeling the pulsing current of the dragon vein enter into his minds eye. It took him a few seconds to adjust to the situation but he could feel the ebb of something foreign in the tide. An outsider drawing upon the energy.

“Found it”

Half an hour later.

Di had not bothered to leave his dragon state as he needed all the speed he could get. In order to save time Di had indicated that Kirei ride upon his back as did the great hero's and demigods of old.  Beside the pair flew a swarm of shikigami each trailing along like a kite with no strings. And as the trees and valleys passed by they came upon the targets of their quest.

The shaman covered in furs and talismans old, gnarled and huge in his power lifted the urn above his head. Beside him stood the bear spirit who had attacked the compound earlier that evening. It seemed that it had benefited greatly from the energy of the dragon vein and was looking as fit as if it had just woken from a particularly pleasing nap rather than stright out a deadly struggle with a demon and a house of sorcerers. The deep ululations coming from the shaman's mouth indicated that whatever spell he was working to release the ghost was coming to it's crescendo. Turning his head to his friend Di spoke.

“Kirei we aren't going to be able to stop the shaman unless one of us takes out his bodyguard. I think if I hit the bear spirit from the air with speed it might allow me to tangle him up in combat till you can retrieve the urn.  Be careful though I hear that the Jugo clans powers allow them to take the form of monsters and beasts when they so desire. And he will likley be more than a little upset at this turn of events.”

With that Di threw caution into the wind. Shooting down like a hawk on the air the dragon plowed full force into the bear spirit antlers slamming into it's chest and leaving gashes that leaked ectoplasmic energies onto the earth. All around the shikigami swarm dove in to assist Di slicing and dicing with razor sharp edges enhanced by the charms of the onmyoji. Shaking it's head with surprise and more than a little anger the bear responded with a powerful axe handle smash to the skull.

Di felt the blow ring through his cranium causing his vision to blur for a few seconds. Damn that hurt like jigoku itself. Coiling back to avoid a further blow of the magnitude Di delivered his own attack directly to the bears face utilising his tail. While it didn't quite pack the same punch as the spirit bears strike it was enough to momentarily disorient the creture allowing Di to slide in and go for a more crippling bite to the creatures jugular.
Digging in his fangs Di held on tight as the bear went totally berserk. Froth began to form on it's lips as the creature thrashed and turned with intense violence. Di found himself thrown about this away then that smashing into the ground, rocks and the occasional tree as the bear began crashing through the entrance to a nearby wood. Di felt a tree give way behind him as his back broke clean through the trunk.

It was clear that he could not let this continue much longer or he would end up breaking his spine. Before he could move the bear had stopped. Paws wrapped around Di's girth and his already tormented back began to scream in protest as the ursine spirit began to take him up in a all encompassing bear hug before squeezing. Time seemed to slow to a crawl – DI was seconds away from death if he didn't do something, anything soon. And so drawing upon the energies inside him Di exhaled until it was not air that emerged from his tortured lungs but a blast of chakra directly into the bear spirits mangled throat.

Like a trophy the spirits head left it's body flying across the forest to smash into a tree. The pressure on his back faded to a painful but (ironically) bearable level. And Di slumped to the ground too exhausted to move an inch. The spirit wasn't dead even though it's corporeal form had been 'killed' rather it had simply dispersed and would take some time to regenerate itself. This would likely be centuries so while very quick in celestial terms it gave Di plenty of time to prepare for a round two should the beast feel like avenging itself. At the moment though all he could do was slump to the ground and put his faith in Kirei to power through and complete the mission.

(1521 words , 2531 words total)

2500/2500 words B rank Mission cleared.

Kirei

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Knelt among the concordance of mages, Kirei felt intimidated but spoke with enough conviction to elicit respect from the onlookers in spite of his small stature. How much of his perceived strength was due to his mask or companionship with the dragon, Kirei couldn't be sure. Surrounded by bound spirits, the young Uchiha's Sharingan oversaw each facet of the meadow, analyzing the sealing tags adorning the mages' regalia along with their servants. For Kirei, this experience was out of the ordinary even as far as his adventures with Di went, being summoned by mystics for the purpose of serving them was entirely out of the realm of the day-to-day. Kirei rose slowly to take his place by Di's side and remained motionless; the mages had summoned the dragon, not him, Kirei was merely a tag-along on this exploit.

“...The way the shaman intends to destroy these fortifications is by unleashing the power of a particularly devastating type of spirit. Notably an Onryo – the ghost of a noble who died under great tragedy and has thus been infused with immense spiritual power. Until recently we had kept such a spirit safe in our care trapped within an urn sealed with our strongest talismans.  We do not know the exact method he used to take it from us but if he should be able to break the seal the ghost would escape and then cause great calamities upon those who had sealed it, in this case, our family and lands.”

The boy knew he was dabbling in things much higher than his pay grade, listening to the explanation given by the mage reminded Kirei of his father's lectures long before he understood the topics of which Yara spoke. Perhaps it was the age or cadence with which he spoke, but the Uchiha couldn't shake the feeling of familiarity with this exposition. In spite of these distracting thoughts, the gravity of the situation was not lost on Kirei, who took the opportunity while Di began to channel to approach the mage who had addressed them.

"The Seals on your tags, I can read them, I know how to activate formula with chakra, if you entrust me with several I will make sure the creature is not released."

"Very well, but this is not magic to be taken lightly. Take care you do not afflict that which you do not wish to remain imprisoned, shinobi."

Producing a quartet of paper tags from his robes, the mage entrusted them to Kirei, who stowed them carefully beneath his cloak. When Di finally finished, Kirei dared not to fathom what the dragon had seen tapping into the primal infinity which ran between the lands, so he said nothing and instead took a moment to double check his armaments. With all possible preparations complete, Kirei tried his best to hide his boyish glee at the suggestion of riding the dragon into battle, something he had fantasized about since meeting Di on the beach those months ago in the dead of night. Kirei hopped up, holding beneath Di's mane to steady his body while the two took flight with surprising quickness. Channeling his chakra into his feet, Kirei's Supernatural Walking Practice would allow him to comfortably stand, balancing on Di's back and effectively surfing the dragon as he would glide across the fields. Surrounded by the Shikigami, Kirei imagined this is what flying in a blizzard might look like, the fluttering paper spirits crowding the air and accompanying the pair on their task. As they flew, Kirei presented a brush to the swarm, painting symbols on their wings and examining the flow of chakra within them. The Uchiha took his time to study these precious moments, commit them to analytic memory and reproduce them for himself later. To lose the memories of such wonders would be tantamount to blasphemy.

On the approach, Kirei could see the shaman and his manifested spirit from afar and took his time to analyze them. Of the pair, it was apparent that the bear would be Di's quarry, Kirei would be entirely unable to fight the fearsome conjuration. This left the blonde taking command of securing the urn and fighting the shaman. Kirei's eyes confirmed the shaman himself was of moderate strength and should not be taken lightly. As Di spoke, Kirei already weaved hand seals and prepared to leap, focusing his chakra inwardly and taking a moment to mentally steady himself before jumping off of Di's back to meet his foe. As Kirei descended, flourishes of chakra and smoke would embark onto reality, appearing as copies of the young Uchiha's disguised body. The trio of blondes landed in a triangle formation around the Jugo, each clasping their fingers together in unison and readying their chakra while reading the shaman's movements carefully. In response to the assault, the Jugo began his transformation, morphing his hands around the urn held aloft above his head, absorbing it into his body before regrowing the appendages along with a coating of scales and a sizeable frilled neckline. Hissing and scowling at the Uchiha triplets, the Jugo prepared itself.

The boy ignited his signature technique, the firebending style known as his Cruelty Devouring Blaze. The fireworks of Katon chakra lent weight to Kirei's claim as a powerful shinobi, twirling and popping in seemingly random pattering throughout the air as the three boys circled around their target. The first clone came quick, lashing forward with a series of strikes, delivering them in earnest to the shaman's side before darting from a sweeping attack by clawed fingers. In the same moment, a torrent of flame erupted to the man's left and washed over his body, which undulated and expelled an outer barrier of hardened flesh to absorb most of the blow, though he was carried back along the ground by its force. With his body reacting already, the Jugo produced an additional set of arms and aimed them around the flame, the fingers opening into cannons to fire a volley of chakra needles in the direction of the ninjas. Splitting and running wide, the boys each jumped in different directions, replying to the shaman with a ranged assault of their own, kunai and shuriken embedding themselves in his flesh before being swiftly expelled by reforming tissue.

Kirei grunted, and the two clones came in from either side, each unleashing a joint attack consisting of high and low kicks and glancing strikes, weaving in and out of the combat as the shaman swung wildly, projecting spikes and blades from his flesh to counter. With their eyes able to perceive the shaman's chakra flow effortlessly, the three shinobi would be able to position themselves accordingly, predicting the movements before the projectiles would ignite and dodging just as naturally. Within the man's stomach, Kirei could see the bubbling well of chakra contained within the Urn, seals weakening and leaking within the shaman, merging with his chakra which enhanced his transformations with virulent addition. The boy knew that it was now or never, he had to crack the shaman open and reseal the Urn before it was too late. Whatever mastery of his form this man possessed Kirei was sure would be enough to withstand anything he could throw at him and so while the clones attacked, Kirei desperately strung together hand seals for a final attack.

Dispersing the clones to collect their chakra would free the Jugo from his plight and focus his attention on the original Kirei, who was now inhaling sharply. Glowing eyes shone from beneath the cat's mask, signifying his Sharingan's usage as he would practically light the surroundings ablaze with his fire prowess. As a combination, the majority of Kirei's flame techniques burst into being at once, causing a blazing heat to course throughout the air and illuminating everything as if they were in the presence of a sun. As the brief flash died away, Kirei used the last of his energy, spluttering ashes from his lips, to dash forward and take between his hands the smoldering Urn, which lay in the cracked and burned husk of the moaning shaman, whose body would reform in time. Sizzling into his gloves, the Urn pulsated, threatening to burst before Kirei secured the lid with a new series of sealing tags.

exit

1378
2564
2500 completes b-rank mission
64 remain


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