The blades of vengeances have fallen swiftly. The shinobi are no more as 'Absolute Justice' has returned...now, it is the Samurai that rule the Five Major Nations!
But at what cost? Have they become the very thing that they despised the most...? Heroes and villains seem to change roles every day, but one thing is for certain - we yearn for our freedom, for days gone by where we flew the skies unhindered.
The King's Court refers to the portion of Asgar which is dedicated strictly to meetings between the Shodaime, his personal staff, and the council (whenever they are elected again). A locked room guarded at all times, it's entry is extremely restricted due to the type of subjects that walk through it at all times. Only when invited can shinobi enter freely. The room itself is decorated entirely with stone, with a large table in the meeting occupying a myriad of subjects. This is where most of the decision-making takes place. There are smaller tables scattered about as well, used mainly while certain parties remain idle and waiting for their turn at an audience, their murmurs consisting of the practiced rhetoric they'd hopefully soon employ.
If a King's Court session is current in place, one must be silent and mindful, or else risk harsh penalties.
Unless invited, one cannot simply walk into the King's Court. If you choose to defy this, brace yourself - the Tsuchikage's wrath is coming.
He entered the scene with his guards in tow, a mass of Iwa officials streaming towards the next location they'd inaugurate under the Shodaime's new reign. Referred to as the "King's Court", it was essentially a meeting place for Iwa's most excellent minds, covering many crucial facets of daily life that could undoubtedly raise Iwa's chances of survival and prosperity. Though there was a heavy tone of arrogance to the tone, Enfuego was one to live up to his name. In this case, he would call the court with his presence only on key issues, and leave the rest for the others to convene on. At this point though, his presence was most necessary. It was time for him to meet his new commanders.
"It's time to build Iwa's army..."
His hands came together to form a seal, and in a moment, a cloud of smoke woudl explode next to him. He'd soon after gather the missin scroll for this court session, handing it off to his newest creation. Then, without another word, the two would nod, the original strolling off with guard duty while the rest of the entourage remained; there were still other locations to re-open. Although the gates were relocated and opened. Asgard was near-complete, and now the council chambers were re-opened. there were still a few more crucial doings to complete. Iwa's economy was still unknown to him, meaning a meeting with his accountants and economists was much needed, and soon. On top of this, Iwa's trophies remained unknown as well; word of pilfering during the conflict had reached the Shodaime's ear, but there was no other way to be sure than to check. It was soon time to move. He was gone, while his lesser remained.
Commanding the Commanders Rank: B Description: "Betrayal has run high within Iwa for the last few months, first with the fleeing of the village's Kage, and then the murder of the entire council at the hands of the defunct Kage's family, Nervous turncoats will run Iwa to the ground, the Earth Daimyo has contacted the new Kage and remaining loyal ANBU, informing them a mass 'pledge to Iwa' was necessary. This would take place in the form of a large strategy based meeting, with all attendants renewing their service to Iwa, as well as listening to the new plan as laid out by me, the new Tsuchikage. After that, I'll reveal my three-point plan for restorying Iwa, and will ask all attendees to contribute their share of experience regarding their region and current events. All those attending will be rewarded, as this task is a pre-requisite for acceptance into the Nidaime's personal army." Restrictions: Chuunin/Jounin only. The mission will take place here. Please wait for the Tsuchikage to start the meeting before entering. Though this mission will remain open for a while for future shinobi, Iwa shinobi can only complete this once. Client: Tsuchi's Daimyo, alongside the Shodaime Tsuchikage. Rewards: 75 EXP + 5,000 RYO
Though a shadow clone, F's doppelganger was birthed with his desired objective in mind - to unite the village, restore the faith, rebuild the city, and move forward. His first attempt would come in the form of attempting to have the higher ranking shinobi of the village, henceforth dubbed his commanders should they choose to accept his offer, come together, pledge allegiance to the village and his plan, and to lay forth his objectives over time. If he could get their cooperation...then maybe, just maybe, Iwa had a chance to survive this storm. With war on the horizon consuming Konoha and Kiri, it was very likely the tide of violence would sweep Earth next; Iwa would have to be prepared for this. And so it began.
The scroll was opened in front of his face without words. Upside down, it didn't communicate much other than 'important and troublesome', though to be fair, Nai found most things to be troublesome.
There was a seal, clear as a few weeks ago, a sigil bearing the modicum of authority sunken in the absence of the Valentine's. The seal bore the symbol of the Kage's office, absent the six-pronged watermark usually marring the number 1. A summons to what? He spun around and dropped from the partially constructed bridge whose span he'd clung beneath, righting himself, heels landed gently on an arid rock jutting. The being that held the scroll waited only instants before kicking from the emptied pit of soil beneath him and darting off --dropping a copied mission slip-- into the thudding stale of Iwa.
Nai spat, grinding his teeth. He adjusted his kimono in the specks of dust clouding his brief fall before striding briskly, towards the supposed 'court' that would carry command of the village's fate. He felt certain he would not know whomever had been chosen as the Tsuchikage now, nearly as certain as he was that this individual would be a pawn of the council. Such political maneuvering was expected now, an occupational hazard.
We are controlled. Nai thought to himself. No matter what this Army is truly being called to enforce, someone is aiming us. Forcing us into 'new' allegiance, as posturing.
He kept such thoughts from obscuring his hollow expression as he raced, nearing coordinates he'd never before known were part of the village proper. There was security, a level of implied threat, a searching and a seizing of arms; explanations. He looked over the interior chamber leading to the Earth's Shadow, stone on stone on stone, and would take a seat, if possible, to the mysterious man's left, closest to him, that would place him comfortably within scowling distance. Nai raised an eyebrow fractions of a millimeter, his gaze a mask of nothingness. A non-look.
He'd say, a sarcasm mostly to himself, an assessment and a prediction. The other seats were yet to be filled, but they were coming, good little soldier ants in perfect march to horns unheard. Pawns. He imagined a chessboard in his head, studied the Tsuchikage's countenance. How would they proceed, he wondered, and who else would show?
Clack, clack, clack. The sound of geta clicked against the hard stone floor, the hurried pace of the wearer betraying their haste. Like wooden raindrops on a tin roof, Jin's feet hurriedly carried him towards the meeting place, the scroll on his hip tucked lazily into his cloth belt. ".. what happened while I was gone?" was one of many thoughts that sprung into his head as he approached the security that stripped and secured his twin katanas. An odd precaution, but one he allowed and perhaps even understood. There was new management in town and as beloved as the previous kage was, there was sure to be some level of dissent.
".. She really isn't here."
Eyes ran over the scarcely populated room, an expression of sadness flitting through his deep brown hues. Speechless, he offered a shallow bow to each member of the table and sat himself to the right of what he assumed was the Kage. "Odd," he thought, settling into his seat. "I don't recognize him." Having only just returned from an expedition to the Grass, Jin only knew rumblings of what had happened, tales of abandonment and reestablishment of the council, yet amidst the silence of the room he had as good a confirmation as any. There was no recognition of former comrades, no cheerful greeting or friendly rapport. Silence, as cold and thick as stone was all that sat in the air.
Kou has just managed to make it home that morning. He had been busy in the days since meeting the new Tsuchikage at the site of the former council headquarters. His black hair was neatly tied back into the normal pony tail, and he wore his more comfortable clothing for his errands. Now that he had picked up his weekly supply of groceries and Sake, he quietly headed home. He had spoken with the Tsuchikage the other day, at great length. No bout both of the pair had been measuring one another in order go gauge their individual strength.
Kou had determined that he would follow this individual....for now. Besides Iwagakure needed direction, and this person had at least shown common decencies expected of any human being. He wasn't sure what the future held, but perchance it would lead to a golden age for Iwa and its people. No. Naivety was one of his faults. He knew that things as they were now wouldn't lead to a great age of reckoning and reason.
Traders spoke of trouble throughout the world as rumors and speculation filled the village square. He knew that troubled times lay ahead for all involved, and it was just a matter of enduring. However, none of that mattered at the moment. Iwagakure was safe for now, and at least had some sort of order restored. Hopefully soon the new Tsuchikage would be fully established with his aids and the Daimyo and things could proceed as they always had.
He arrived at his home shortly afterwards and saw a messenger standing by the entrance to his abode. The man was one of the ANBU that had guarded the Tsuchikage the other day when they had met. "Your presence is requested. The details are located within this scroll" the cloaked figure replies, his face hidden by the ANBU mask. He handed Kou a sealed scroll and left without saying another word.
The scroll simply detailed a place and time for a meeting that was requested by the newly appointed Tsuchikage and said nothing more. Kou placed his belongings inside of his home and changed quickly, grabbing some non-essential equipment and heading towards the location.
Arriving at the aforementioned destination, Kou realized it was heavily guarded and he was relieved of any weaponry he might have on him. Luckily for him it didn't take long, and he was through. He figured that he was heading into a trap, the Tsuchikage would not have laid such groundwork and grandstanding simply to have him killed. No. This was something else.
Kou entered the main room to see three people, two already seated. One was the Tsuchikage, and the other two he was only faintly familiar with. He had heard of Jin-san through reputation and knew he was several years his senior, though they had never officially met. He also knew his skills as a swordsman were highly regarded and he may be as strong if not stronger than Kou in that discipline.
The other Kou was not familiar with. He had never had the honor of meeting this individual. Though from the sour look on his face, Kou doubted it would be pleasant. The man looked as if he had a terrible case of hemorrhoids or a stick lodged firmly in his ass. He let the thoughts pass from his mind and took a seat opposite the squinty individual. The atmosphere in the room was tense. It was as if someone had passed gas, and everyone was waiting for the first person to deny it.
Kou decided to break the tensions and try to lighten up the room a little. "Jin-san. We have never met personally, but I hear your skills as a swordsman are spectacular. I find it refreshing that other Iwagakure shinobi see the merits of Kenjutsu, other than myself of course" he begins hoping to either start the meeting or at least break the silence.
They shuffled into the room one by one, each loyal soldier of Iwa responding to the summons that had been widespread across the entire village - that the Kage himself wanted to meet any high rank shinoi, his so-called new "Commanders", so that the future of Iwa's future was solidified. Nothing more was obviously offered, and those in the know would simple let patience rule until the time for the meeting were to take place. The rest would speculate endlessly, shops, pubs and markets full of gossip, hundreds of its inhabitants speculating as to what the next move the new Kage would do. After all, with all the violence from the Valentine revolt having just recently subsided, everything that happened after would be highly speculated and observed. Regardless, there was no need to be rude; as each entered, he'd wave to each other, a nod followed as he acknowledged each of their presences.
"Welcome, sons and daughters of Iwa..."
His hands would clap twice, signaling to the catering crew that it was time to prepare the 'hors d'oeuvres' so that they may be passed out on trays. On top of this, the hired bartenders would begin to prepare their equipment, ready and eager to receive instruction on any beverage their honored guests desired [ooc: oh yeah, there's mini bars and little grills off to the side, so we can eat and drink while we act tough]. Once the staff was well on its way, the Shodaime would bring a single handseal together, giving birth to three earthen clones that would rise next to him. In their hands? Pieces of equipment sealed off earlier prepared just for this moment. Without a word spoken, the clones already began to put together everything needed for the meeting to fully take place. From audiovisual devices to cables, connections, and even monitors, within the next few minutes, the round table would be fully prepared for this display. In the meantime, F observed how a few shinobi already began to acquaint with each other. Perfect.
"There's plenty to eat and drink. You'll find menus spread out across the tables. Just order what you want with the server - it's all on me."
Of course, the meeting was not simply for lunch. The true intention of this coming together was for F to gather Iwa's greatest powers, hoping to gain their faith and allegiance, all while explaining to them his plan for Iwa's growth. Gaining their trust and their favor was not easy, but the Uchiha truly believed his intentions were good, and is actions thus far were proof enough of where he could take this village. Yes, he had indeed killed off the entire council. But they were no better than the very criminals they prosecuted. Mitzy seemed nice, and although F don't know what she did to make the council want to kill her, something told me they were wrong. Having heard nothing, he began to assume the worst. So now, with a leader running away and a greedy group killed off, all that was left was the one man standing among the flames, Iwa's savior - The Phoenix.
"On to the serious stuff...underneath each of your seats you'll find a binder. It contents my hopes and dreams for Iwa."
"Construction plans. Security measures and counters-measures. Maneuvers. Assessments. Intel. I see Iwa easily being the best village out there, but it needs a bit of fixin'.."
"As we speak, I have teams walking off old entries and making new ones, cleaning out debris from the village battles, patrolling and making sure people didn't sneak in."
"We're safe; trust me, we're safe…"
He trailed off as a waiter tip-toed behind him, trying to be quiet only to slip and fall, dropping a tray of drinks everywhere. It was a mess, and a loud one. F sighed and shook his head. What a waste of good martinis.
"But for how long? Konoha just invaded Kiri. Sand is on the move. I don't even know what Cloud is doing. But my point is!"
"Shit. Is going. Down."
"We don't need that. Ain't nobody got time for that!"
"Instead, we grow…we become unstoppable. And then one day, with a simple swipe of our hands, anyone that opposes will become…nothing."
He took another moment to pause and relocate, shifting his projector between slides, They showed some of the conflict zones on maps that had been taking place along the Water Country, but now it shifted to slides of the human body. The slides now seemed medical in nature. He took a gulp of water - unnecessary given his clone status - and moved next to the projection screen.
"I was hired by your Mitzy Valentine as a third party assistant to the village. My medical skills are advanced. I was mainly focusing on that."
"When she dipped, the council contracted me to help control the situation. In the process, they didn't make it. Now, the dust settles, and this is what we have left - you all."
"So who are you all…? Tell me about yourselves. What can you do? How good are you at something…?"
"I aim to make this place stable and strong, but I need everyone's support. I want to respect your skill. So tell me…"
"…who ARE you?"
He would patiently wait as he took a seat. At the same time, the kitchen bell rang; food was ready!
[ooc: needles to say, the idea of this thread, and the rest we'll do regarding iwa's story, is for group posting. If you check out the current contest, posting with two or three people on something nets you extra rewards. So let's get a posting order - so far, Nai, Jin, Souke, Me - and stick to it, breeze through some character development, next that extra EXP, and prepare for what's to some!]
A thunderous welcome; then more. Nai imperceptibly cringed. Sons and daughters? Would they speak on nationalism now, in platitudes and trite foolishness? He could not help but feel as if he were cattle, ears tucked back, blindfolded and led by rope to a giant saw blade.
Its all on you, huh? He knew these words well, spoken always by liars and con-men. Nai could not think of a single decent person he knew who spoke with such theatrics, brash and subtly violent, yet pleading for solidarity through this...court. It seemed a charade. How many resources had been wasted for this 'mission'?
A movement of Handseals interrupted Nai's careful processing of the Tsuchikage, who had seemingly called clones into being even with a room full of willing servants. It was what their meeting felt like when he'd first heard the word 'commanders'. Conspiratorial. They would become something less than slaves to this man; they'd be his copies, soon spouting their own tangential planning, making 'binders'.
He reached under his seat, quietly wondering how the collection of paper was held beneath it in such a way, fidgeting with its pages. He listened as the Tsuchikage displayed how many words for 'stuff' he knew, and was not visibly disturbed by the loud crashing of martini glasses in the background. The words that preceded the crash, however, filled him with dread.
Trust me. As if they had a choice. As if trust could be handed over, was a prize or a sexual favor and not a binding of experience. He stared at this man, the Shadow of Iwa, and watched the others without immediately responding.
Who are You? the man had asked, without even giving his own name. As if the third-party-assistant to a dead woman was anything more than a stranger and a circus attraction. Nai sighed, loudly enough to be heard, though his narrow-eyes did not change in demeanor.
"I am Nai. Jonin."
He said simply, nodding towards those gathered in their seats around him, at the Tsuchikage.
"I am good at some things..."
He answered matter-of-factly, gesturing towards both enormous greatswords that had been confiscated from him with only a tilting of his posture. They were not an assembly of Genin. If this man wanted to know them in battle, he would fight, not listen to them boast or undersell their skill through mere talk.
"...delivering speeches is not one of them. Make your plans. Your binders."
He said the last word like a profanity. Face suddenly too expressive, enraged. His voice remained unwavering, calm, even though his lips snarled and his teeth bared, exposing fangs, it should have been impossible for him to talk. Wasn't.
"Wake me when there's something to hurt."
And a face that was his own but somehow different seemed to peel away from his upper lip, curled around his head, ruffled his ponytail. It was only for a second, if one had blinked, they would have missed it. His twin, shifting within.
He answered, apologetic, face once more a tempered and narrow-eyed lack of feeling. He would take note of the others, to listen to their own answers, but also motioned towards a nearby servant to request one of everything on the menu.
Jin remained quiet, confusion still affecting his comprehension of the situation. Mitzy was gone, an outsider helped and now they were in charge? There were a lot of variables at play here, but one resounding fact stood out above the rest for Jin: this man was new and sought change to the Stone. Raising his hand to object against the offers of food, the tanned man leaned back into his chair, arms crossing loosely over his stomach. "I am Jin," he muttered, eyes now half lidded and unfocused. ".. a Jounin, swordsman. As said, I've dedicated my life to the blade." Shooting a brief glance at the other Kenjutsu practitioner at the table, Jin flitted his eyes between all guests at the table before settling once more on the Kage. "I've been working for the past two months on creating an arm of the Earth, Tetsuzan, a specialized squad of swordsmen that would act on behalf of the village." Slipping his hand around the back of his garments, Jin's slim fingers pulled out a second scroll, unrelated to the meeting, and threw it into the middle of the table. Unfurled, an image of a man slicing distant blades of grass became evident to the entirety of the group.
"I convened with a man in the grass, Ei-sensei, who told me of an art forgotten to modern practitioners of Kenjutsu: Kusakariki, grass cutting, that I believe would be a boon to our military forces."
Turning to face Kousuke specifically, Jin pointed at the image, motioning between the sketch and the younger practitioner. "Forget the limits of swordsmanship you thought you knew, Kousuke. With enough practice I'll be able to, hopefully, rekindle this ancient art." For the first time since the meeting started, Jin's optimistic smile stretched across his face, a loud slap on the table expressing his excitement. Ignoring the binder altogether, Jin turned to face the Kage one final time, face equal parts determination and frustration. "Iron from earth, swordsmen that will defend Stone til their dying breaths. If you would allow it, I would begin training and rounding up skilled swordsmen and working on perfecting these techniques, Tsuchikage."
Kou sat in silence keeping a close watch on "Squinty" as he nicknamed him. He had a resounding aura of indifference or pent up anger. Nai. He would remember the name and keep an eye on him as often as he could. He seemed dangerous. But that was not always a bad thing. Sometimes it was better for the more indifferent and dangerous types to be allies rather than enemies. Still, the look on his face made Kou want to pull an amazing series of pranks on him involving extra strength laxatives.
He shook the thoughts from his mind. It wasn't time for pranking or planning his series of intricate booby traps. He had been invited here for more serious matters. The Tsuchikage began the presentation with a loud introduction and another grandiose speech. He was laying it on pretty thick, but Kou had already met him once and understood the need for him to placate the others in the interest of cooperation.
Kou picked up a menu while the Tsuchikage continued his speech about how his predecessor had hired him in order to aid the village, and then the council had been his benefactors. Kou had been aware of this all before the meeting, but the only questionable tie that remained was everyone who could be a threat to his credibility was either dead or had fled. Was this some grandiose scheme? Most likely not. But still Kou wondered.
He listened to the other two, "Squinty" giving a rather short answer. Though he had to agree. Kou hadn't realized he had been brought for speeches alone. He picked up the binder and began flipping through the pages while Jin spoke with the Tsuchikage and referenced a new Kenjutsu. That grabbed his attention for a moment. Perhaps at a later date the two may speak more of this. Jin had a noble ambition. Establishing a clan of Iwagakure shinobi skilled in Kenjutsu.
Kou liked the idea of their being more to spar with, and as an oddity and only one of several in the village skilled in Kenjutsu it might be a worthy undertaking. Finally it came his turn to speak.
"We have spoken somewhat already about my past" he began standing and facing the Tsuchikage. "I have extensive knowledge of the terrain of Tsuchi no Kuni. Few know the mountain passes better than I, as I spent my youth training in the mountains. On top of this I spent much of my career in recon and patrol on the eastern borders of Tsuchi no Kuni. I have experience leading small cells, considerable battle experience, and leadership skills all recognized by the now-defunct Mitzy Valentine. " he explained and looked to the Tsuchikage. It was true he had spent his youth in the mountains and his past did have a series of missions and adventures Against his better judgement he continued "I also am one of the few survivors of the 'Demon Gate' incident from several years ago. Which has remained a classified subject until recently." he replies.
Kou felt his credentials spoke for themselves, and he found his seat waiting for the Tsuchikage to respond to them all. Kou wasn't grandstanding, at least intentionally. He took the meeting seriously, and as such figured it much worth his while to play his cards close to the vest.
The answers were varied and quite creative, colorful introductions somewhat expected by the Uchiha, though not such a unique degree. As the first of three men spoke, more people slowly shuffled in quietly in the background, though their presence was hardly noticeable due to them adopting absolute silence as a result of the court being in session. As he awaited and received his answers, he placed both hands over the table, scanning the room and engaging each shinobi that spoke up. Having already known what the Shodaime wanted, the help slowly delivered his food and drink in stages. As for the clones? They continued at work to the side, putting together something quite odd.
The first responder, a Jounin by the name of Nai, offered little interest in the grandiose spectacle of the meeting before them, offering the most minimal answer to F's questions while choosing to indulge in food and beverage options. Soon after, another Jounin introduced himself, a self-proclaimed expert swordsman by the name of Jin. Though the Uchiha was one to enjoy seeing a person's kill live before his eyes rather than relying on told stories, his rank spoke volumes of his skill, and the fact he was interested in spreading his knowledge across Iwa was even more commendable. This is exactly what Iwa needs; commanders that are willing to take charge and spread growth and change. The third, Kousuke, was yet another Jounin, though they had previously met. Having a bit more information on his background, he'd nod in his direction warmly, and acknowledge him once more.
"Nice to see you again, Kou!"
"Jin, your ideas interest me. Perhaps we can test your skill, and if it is indeed impressive, then we could fund a school for you within Iwa? If this style is as skilled as your claim it to be, then it'd be silly if our men and women on the field did not know it..."
"...and Nai, hah! At one point, neither was i! But let's move on to some planning - behold."
"My plans for Iwa!"
The screen behind would shift and begin to explain, in short bullet points, just what exactly the Tsuchikage wished to make happen for the village. First of, he was in the process of installing a state of the art arena where shinobi can encounter a mired of situations that would assist them in training and growing, keeping them on their toes at all times. These were aggressive times after all. Meanwhile, given his medical expertise, he'd work with his doctors to produce jutsu that would maximize each Iwa shinobi's potential, ultimately developing the perfect super soldier. Finally, once Iwa was strong, it would seek out to establish control of the feral lower nations, keeping the major nations at bay while continuing to build their army in other small areas. The idea behind his was that each lower nation was located next to a major country, making Iwa's potential invasion less predicable and thus more effective should the village ever need to resort to such tactics.
"As I've explained, my medical skills are quite advanced. While training our soldiers, I also want them to unlock their own hidden power. My medical skills can do that, and a suitable medical team supporting me can easily make everyone better in no-time."
"Finally…those lower nations. Rice.Rain. Waterfall. Snow. Countries in which the lack of law rules. Countries waiting for the absolute justice Iwa will bare. Once our armies are sufficient, we will contact each nation and establish control."
"Until then, we remain in the dark regarding other major nations. We watch them, but do not reach out to them."
"No one is to be trusted - just look at Kiri and Konoha..."
It was a controversial approach, but it was one F hoped would pull Iwa out of the slump it was currently in and back to its former glory. The Shodaime eagerly awaited a response while reaching for a sake bottle brought by staff not too long ago.
Addressed directly for the first time, Nai would only causally nod at his name being called, choosing instead to stare wholeheartedly at the varied plans called before them. He wasn't very interested in political strategy, and had heard little of the war between Mist and Leaf save for breaking news that Mist had lost their end of the conflict. He'd heard its people were religious zealots, figuring they deserved whatever death met them at the hands of the Land of Fire. He bristled noticeably at mention of the minor nations. A peaking interest.
"I've been to the lands of Rain, Waterfall, Rice and Snow. Their hidden villages were little more than scattered clan strongholds led by old men, though it has been years since I've traveled so far."
Nai interjected quickly, ever-present bored visage like a scar on the face of stone.
"If your plan is to raise a true army, I'd suggest we establish strongholds in these minor nations, before the other villages can. Places with resources sufficient to sustain an army should they come, footholds."
Though willing to undertake such an endeavor himself, the meeting was not about his ideas, and he looked to the faces of his Iwa-kin, perhaps taking note of them fully for the first time. The other Jonin seemed a bit older, a bit more worn, eager to prove they'd amassed some reputable skill worth being offered to the Kage. Pedantic.
He sat up, pondering the other established points. A branch of the stone...dedicated to Kenjutsu? Nai appreciated the sentiment as a swordsman, but hoped all their hopes were not pinned on the movements of blades. There were beings whose skill outclassed mere cutting, and he squinted more, if that was even possible.
"I agree with abandoning the other villages and their fleeting allegiance. We are Iwa. Let the stones be our only crutch."
He answered a few seconds later, stuffing his face with a hastily delivered boar nostril, slurping the vinegar and mucous syrup dripping from its openings.
Though Nai’s initial response to F’s arrival into the throne of Tsuchikage, as well as his plans, was less than stellar, the Uchiha’s laid out plans seemed sufficient enough to garner interest from the squinting swordsman. He’d listen to him intently, shifting from shots to sips, focusing on each word the Iwa-nin produced. After listening for a few moments, it was clear Nai meant business. Check one commander in his steed.
“You stole the words right out of my mouth. Reports of the lower nation’s warring and unorganized ways have reached my ears. Taking them won’t be a problem…”
“…it’s keeping them away from the hands of the other major hidden villages that’ll be the challenge.”
He paused and flicked his wrist quickly. The nearest servant immediately knew what was being called for, and although F had not held any eye contact with her, nor did he produce a verbal command, the Uchiha’s wishes had already been granted. Sake cups filled with a miniscule amount of the amazing liquid were slowly passed out to each commander. Silence reigned during the serving of the ceremonial drink, unless any commander present chose to speak.
“But then again, with commanders like yourself, we have nothing to fear – RIGHT!?”
“Let us toast then…to a new coalition! A cabal to be stopped by none!”
He took a brief pause from his excited shouting to raise the cup, hopefully receiving equal responses form those he wished to bond with, and then drink. It was gone in a single gulp.
Kou had began picking out some items from the menu, and satisfied with his choices of sashimi and sushi he ordered a gourd of his favorite Sake. He listened and watched. He studied his comrades measuring each individual on appearance alone. He knew that if they had been summoned to the meeting, they would of course be skilled in their respective fields.
He listened to the Tsuchikage speak on his own specialties in the Medical field and how he hoped to unlock the hidden potential within each individual. But it struck Kou, was the Tsuchikage really planning on developing a medicine to make them all stronger? Surely such things would have costs. Perhaps a very high cost. Never the less, Kou let the Tsuchikage finish speaking and then the other Jounin Nai. He quietly sipped at his sake and contemplated the meanings and hidden agendas of everyone involved.
Jin wanted to ressurect an old school of Kenjutsu, Nai wanted strength and solidarity for Iwagakure without reliance on the other nations, and the Tsuchikage wanted to unlock the hidden potential in all of them. So what was Kou's true motivation for being here. He had been drawn to this moment for some purpose and he had no clear direction.
He had to admit. The others had such clear views of what they wanted, and here he sat with the naive ideology of "True Justice". But what did justice mean? Did it mean finding the evil in the world and putting it to the blade, even if it happened to be a friend? Or was justice something else entirely.
He would reflect on such matters at a later time. The Tsuchikage spoke of conquering the lesser nations and bringing them into their fold. Was this something he could fight for? Kou was no conqueror. Hell. He wouldn't fight if he didn't have to. But the way the Tsuchikage and Nai spoke of these lesser nations, and the fighting of Konoha and Kiri were already causing unease in the village.
Perhaps if Iwagakure was to survive the coming times, this was the only way. Still Kou couldn't but help be a little sad. He would have to draw his blade and take lives, yet again. However this time he was moved by his convictions to question his leader.
He rose his cup in response to the speech and the call to raise his glass, but then spoke in turn while standing.
"Tsuchikage. You realize if we take this path that it is one we can not lightly tread. You speak of unlocking our potential, and conquering these lesser nations. But I need to make sure you are aware of what you ask. You are asking the people of Iwagakure to die for you. An outsider. I do not speak this way to be disrespectful, but understandably there will be many who do not understand. Then there is the matter of these lesser nations. Even barbarians become patriots when outsiders invade their nation. It will be a dangerous and bloody undertaking" Kou exclaims waiting for a reply.
He was not afraid of dying. No he was afraid that the cause he died for, would be motivated by greed instead of virtue.
While he anticipated his approach would be misperceived as tyrannous by those who no longer wished to endure war and strife after dealing with Mtizy's defection and the council's assassination, there were too many agents outside the Earth already in motion, working hard to create their own powers for the sake of spreading their own oppression. The war between Kiri and Konoha was a great example. As was the conditions of the lower nations; the point was they could still remain a decent collective with respectable values, but even the purest men will fight when that which matters most to them is threatened. F simply wanted to be ahead of the curve. Why wait to be invaded, when they could create an empire, and destroy anyone that approached them? The amassing of troops was not for the sake of mounting offensives; no, on the contrary, he wished to become untouchable.
"Brother Jin, I understand where you come from. But who said anything about death…?"
"When I am done, no one will be able to touch us."
He took a pause for another gulp. With loyal commanders pledged, he would assign them each a territory. A country. A kingdom of their own, if you will. You see, this was not about F, but about everyone else as well. He had a bold vision, and while he was not one to spread senseless violence and spill blood on impulse, his medical training had taught him that if a part of the body was rotten or cancerous, it was best to move quickly to remove the affliction and regain control of what was still healthy; this was exactly what his plan for the lower nations would require.. They were a rabid people, and he would soon become their shepherd, their guide, their savior. While they preferred constant war, Iwa's presence would instill a sense of trustable peace. It was completely genuine
"And besides, this is no violent invasion. Those people are at each other's necks. Leaf and Mist just went to war!"
"Everyone around us is going CRAZY!"
"But we don't have to play their game, brother. All we have to do is prepare. Anticipate."
"Let us kill that cancer. Let us bring peace."
"Let us show them the way..."
And yet another gulp.
"And for those that don't follow, well, they can either get lost, or we run them over…"
"…now, Commander Nai the Grass, what say you about this conquest? Help me help Kusa."
Nai's movements became listless and robotic at once. He raised a glass placed in his hand by some wandering servant almost as if by reflex but did not speak until the raucous compliance of the others had died down. The Land of Grass, how fitting, to be assigned one of the many nations he hadn't been to, despite his knowledge of the others. But he could see the value in the placement; Grass was directly between Leaf and Stone, would serve as merely another wall of defense. Next to it were the Lands of Waterfall and Rain, areas which fed the unusual grassland of Kusa no Kuni.
For quite some time, rumors of the fabled Hidden Grass Village were buried beneath more impressive tales of the uncontrollable forest nearby swallowing its ancient borders, an inhospitable maze. Grass was a nation the world no longer dared to travel through, and as for its 'natural' inhabitants...mostly beats. Living carnivorous plants. Trees with claws. His twin woke briefly from the sheer excitement coursing through Nai's body, an adrenal outburst. Shhhh.
Perhaps for the first time in full, he listened to Kousuke, another of the Jonin 'commanders' assembled, and churned the man's words into contemplation. He had a point; dangerous and bloody was only the half of their joint undertaking, and such aggressive movements against whoever already occupied the minor nations might open Iwa up to attack. They had to be careful not to spread their forces too thin in the name of conquest.
"I say, we should be mindful of Kousuke's concerns. 'When you are done' could be quite some time from now, and you are not the first Earth Shadow to make promises."
Nai spoke to the Tsuchikage directly, his gruffness momentarily silencing the chattering servants, the applause, the nuance of their toasting.
"Sending us out further divides Iwa's forces, and it is possible we will not all return. How will you protect the village in our absence, in the event of our deaths? Are we not the strongest you have? Speak plainly now, none of your slogans or posturing."
He said, nearly angry, but only from a care necessitated by a lifetime of service to the Stone.
"I will travel to Grass, but what will You do?"
He added, a third hand pushing itself through his cheek and plucking the mint-leaf garnish from the silver goblet held in Nai's outstretched palms.