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 Salt of the Earth [P]

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Asami Miyamoto
Chuunin of Kiri
Chuunin of Kiri
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Fame : 27
Home Village :
  • Mist

Element(s) : Fire, Earth, & Lava
Clan : Terumi
Ryo : 7500
100%


PostSubject: Salt of the Earth [P]   Mon Dec 04, 2017 5:36 pm

It was a beautiful Sunday; the sun shone high in the sky, gulls hovered over a sparkling blue sea, and a warm tropical breeze blew through the Miyamoto household into the large courtyard therein. Sitting barefoot on the courtyard porch, Asami soaked in the afternoon watching her mother, Ai Miyamoto, work on weeding out the family herb garden. The herb garden itself stood as a small section of the courtyard which was, by and large, dominated by a rock garden and a small pond, yet Ai spent a disproportionate amount of time tending to the garden. The running joke among the family of three went something like Asami having a brother by the name of sage and a veritable assortment of sisters like saffron, rosemary, and basil.

“Asami,” her mother called out without looking up from her work. “Can you come over here?”

“Mom?” Asami questioned—the garden was normally her mother’s realm and no one else’s.

“Don’t worry I won’t make you weed,” Ai laughed her distinctly soft airy laugh.

Shrugging to herself, the young kunoichi pushed up from her reclined position and stepping from rock to rock made her way to the garden. Of course, had her father been around that day she wouldn’t have dared to cross the rock garden. After all, if the herb garden was her mother’s domain then the static field of rocks was her father’s, but what he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him, right?

Right

“What?” the young girl asked stopping at the entrance of the garden.

“Don’t ‘what’ me, young lady,” her mother chided playfully. “Take a seat, I want to talk to you.”

Accenting her words, Ai waved in the direction of a large mossy rock in the middle of the garden.

“Mom, we already had the talk,” Asami blushed as she tried to predict what in the world her mother wanted to talk about. “Boys are icky anyway.”

“No, no, it isn’t that,” Ai laughed at her daughter’s poorly disguised lie. “It’s something more important than that.”

Cocking her head to the side, the gray-eyed girl didn’t say anything as her mother took a seat on the opposite side of the rock from her.

“You’re a genin now and me and your father are so proud,” Ai started carefully as if she were groping through the darkness for the right words. “But, the village is a dangerous place right now with the war and—“

“Mom, I’ll be fine,” Asami cut in a bit flustered, her parents worried too much in her opinion.

“Let me finish,” her mother snapped back more harshly than she would have liked. “You might know you’ll be fine, but your father and I worry. For all we know you could be spirited away by some conscription order without notice and taken away from us.”

Furrowing her brow, she paused collecting her thoughts.

“And we, your father and I, would feel badly if we didn’t prepare you for that day the best we possibly can,” she continued almost tearfully. “So…we were talking last night and we think you should learn more about the potential you inherited.”

“My potential?” Asami asked honestly.

“Yes, your potential,” Ai affirmed. “You know your father doesn’t have a violent bone in his body, so he’ll do his best to teach you what he knows about the sea. But I feel it would be irresponsible of me not to pass on what I learned as a girl when I was your age.”

Now it was Asami’s turn to furrow her brow. She knew her mother had once been a shinobi, but retired early in her career for personal reasons. The last time she’d heard her mother mention her shinobi life had been one night when she drank too much and talked on and on about her old friend Naomi. Later one Asami did some digging and found that Naomi had died in some training accident right around the time her mother retired from her career a shinobi.

“Asami,” her mother pulled the young girl from her thoughts. “The same blood that runs through my veins runs through yours as well and that means you can command the Terumi bloodline.”

“The Terumi?” Asami asked with a feeling that she would be asking a lot of questions now.

“They’re an old clan that dates back to a time when shinobi banded together for protection,” Ai’s voice held steady now. “The Terumi were a force to be reckoned with in every aspect of warfare thanks to their bloodline that allowed them to command the lava and boil releases. The dual bloodline allowed our ancestors to commit terrible acts of both good and bad, but most importantly it allowed them to survive. And while I hope you will never have to use these powers it would be unfair of me to deprive you of a tool to keep yourself alive.”

Silence took over when Ai stopped speaking. The wind stood still, the waves seemed to mute themselves and even the birds fell silent. And among this silence a thousand more questions bubbled up in Asami’s mind, but she found herself unable to ask them.

“Ok,” the young girl finally said. “Where do we start?”

This, she felt, was the right question to ask as it encompassed everything she wanted to know. Normally, she would have rebuffed any offer of help from her mother, but the tone of her voice made it clear to Asami that this wasn’t a time for petty reactions. As if to confirm this train of thought, Ai pulled Asami close to her like she always had and the two sat there for a long moment before breaking away.

“We’ll start with the basics,” Ai stood up, walked back over to the pile of weeds she’d been pulling, and picked it up. “Your natural affinity for the fire element is a good start, because it is a component for both the boil and lava releases.”

She made her way out of the garden with Asami in tow.

“Unfortunately, I haven’t learned the boil release myself, so we’ll have to refer to my mom’s old books for it. However, to start let’s focus on the lava release.”

The two arrived at the compost pile where Ai dumped all the weeds.

“The lava release results from the combination of the fire and earth elements, which means that before we get to actually learning the release itself we’ll have to get you trained up in the use of the earth element.”

Asami must have looked worried as her mother laughed lightly.

“Don’t worry, it isn’t nearly as hard as it sounds. Though, I suppose a demonstration is in order, stand back.”

The young girl took a few steps back still trying to process everything her mother had said so far.

Taking a deep breath, Ai tossed the weeds into the compost pile before careful weaving a long string hand seals together. Not having performed jutsu in a good long while, she fumbled over a few here and there, but finished confidently with what Asami recognized as the ram seal. The ground trembled and in an explosion of dirt clods and decaying weeds the head of what looked like a giant dragon swallowed up the compost pile.

“See?” Ai exclaimed clearly winded from her exertion. “Nothing to it.”

“Sure thing, mom,” Asami conceded as she picked dirt out of her hair. “That’s cool and all, but where do I start.”

“You’ll start where I started,” her mother said cryptically as she wove a few hand seals together. “Sorry, honey.”

Before the young genin could ask what she meant her whole world lurched out from under her. Screeching involuntarily, she felt the ground swallow her up until only her head poked out aboveground. There was still enough room around her to breath, but it did feel uncomfortable and, on top of it all, she had more dirt in her hair.

“Mom, what the heck?”

“Sorry, sorry, but when I learned there was an emphasis on becoming one with element. I’m going to go finish weeding now. If you need anything just call!”

With that Ai turned and left her only daughter partly entombed in the earth, talk about tough love.

Seething, Asami muttered to herself about how unfair life was and did just about everything, but think about ‘becoming one with the element’. It didn’t make sense anyway, wasn’t this child abuse?

However, even her rage passed and as the sun moved lower in the sky Asami lost track of time. To keep herself entertained she watched as the worms that once called the compost pile home struggled to find a new one. Some were longer than others and some faster, but all them seemed intent on one goal, getting back underground. Of course, even the young girl saw the irony in the whole situation: all she wanted to do was get out of the ground and all the worms wanted to do was get into it.

Another hour passed until her mother returned carrying a bottle of water.

“Have any revelations?”

“Besides the fact that I’m really thirsty? No.”

Sighing Ai made a few hand seals and Asami rose from the ground.

“Oh well, it’s getting late,” her mother stated. “Let’s call it a day, your dad will be home for dinner pretty soon.”

Taking the bottle of water offered to her Asami gulped down the crystal-clear elixir as she followed her mother back to the house. For the life of her she couldn’t understand what she was supposed to learn from the whole experience. Even as the cool water of a shower washed over her body she couldn’t glean anything helpful from it. What kind of revelation was she supposed to have about being stuck in the ground? The question haunted the young girl all the way to the dinner table.

“So, what did you two do today?” Kenshi asked his wife and daughter.

“Well, let’s see we started Asami’s training, I did some weeding, and we added a new sculpture in the backyard.” Ai laughed.

“I saw that,” Kenshi laughed as well. “I do like the draconian touch to the place, it’ll make us the envy of all the neighbors, I’m sure.”

The table shook as Ai tried and failed to kick her husband under the table.

“Seriously though,” Kenshi’s tone shifted. “How did the training go?”

This time it was Asami who spoke up in a flustered flurry of words.

“It didn’t I didn’t learn anything. I don’t understand why I can’t just learn from a book, it would so much easier. All my friends learn from books, why can’t I?”

Kenshi glanced to his wife for help—he knew nothing about shinobi matters and deferred to her in all matters involving the craft.

“Honey, sometimes books can help, but to eventually learn how to wield the lava release you have to really understand the components. It’s a process you can’t learn from a book even if you tried.”

“I suppose it’s like learning to read the currents,” Kenshi offered up.

“I guess so,” Asami agreed still unconvinced of the whole process, but unwilling to argue with her parents anymore. “What’d you do today, dad?”

Kenshi’s face lit up, he loved talking about his work especially with his family—their mutual love of fishing was one things the small family often bonded over.

“You remember a few weeks back when we caught that huge shoal of tuna? Well, they’re back again, so I spent pretty much all day out there with Danzo reeling these monsters in. I swear we caught a few that were almost as big as you Asami. I’ll be sure to bring one back with me if they’re still around tomorrow. But to top it all off…”

The talk went on into the night as the family slowly wound down and went their separate ways with Asami going to her room and her parents going to theirs. Despite her failure the genin couldn’t help but feel hopeful. In fact, the last thought that drifted through her conscious mind before she drifted off to sleep was the sight of those worms frantically digging into the ground.

And as her thoughts drifted from conscious to unconscious she once more saw those worms. The creatures towered above her as only the terrors of nightmares could. Now, instead of watching she was being watched and she came to know the want to find safety in the womb-like earth. Then, much like the worms from reality, she began to squirm uncontrollable and into the ground itself. No longer was she a human, but rather a worm and where the monster worms had once been now stood what she recognized as an image of herself.

Blackness followed as Asami awoke in a cold sweat. Looking frantically from side to side she found nothing save for the familiar surroundings of her room. Taking a deep breath as her panic abated she closed her eyes once more. She was no stranger to nightmares, but this one had felt so very real that it unsettled her. Sleep, however, has no care for such worries and soon came for the girl once more easing her once nightmare ridden mind with a land of meaningless colors.

Brrrrrring Brrrrrring Brrrrring

Waking up to the sound of her alarm clock, the young genin just stared at the clock as it welcomed a new day. Despite her nightmare it did feel as if morning had come far too soon. Then again, she always thought that it came too soon—she firmly believed in what some might call one’s ‘beauty sleep’.

All the same she soon silenced the clock and got ready for the day. Coming into the kitchen she was not surprised to find that her father had left for work far before either she or her mother had even thought of waking up. Instead she found her mother sipping at what smelled like green tea of some sort.

“Morning.”

Asami nodded in response to her mother’s greeting. It was far too early for talking. Pouring a bowl of cereal, she took a seat across from her mother and dug in.

“Hey mom,” the young girl started between bites. “I want to try that training exercise again, uh, if you don’t mind.”

Instead of responding right away, Ai looked at her daughter with a critical eye as if looking for something.

“Alright, if you feel up—“

“Let’s do it now,” Asami downed the last of the milk in her bowl and dashed out the door. Surely one would be hard pressed to find someone so enthusiastic to be buried alive.

A few minutes later her mother strolled out of the house almost reluctantly. While she wanted to help her daughter, she was having doubts herself as to the way she had been taught. After all, Ai’s parents were crazy enough to think Kenshi would not have been a good father, so who knew what else they might have been wrong about. Nonetheless she wordless made the required hand seals, which buried Asami up to the neck in cool loamy dirt.

“Call me if you need anything.”

Asami nodded as best she could given her predicament and Ai left her in peace.

This time instead of wondering why she was doing some stupid exercise, Asami closed her eyes and concentrated. She concentrated on the way she’d felt in her nightmare the previous night. How all she wanted to do was sleep beneath the ground and hide away from the world. At night the feeling had scared her, but in the daylight her courage came back and with her courage came a renewed sense of purpose.

With her eyes closed she came to appreciate the dirt around her. Instead of loathing the feeling of confinement she found that she rather liked it. In fact, she wouldn’t call it confinement at all, but rather safety, she felt safe in the cocoon of earth. Perhaps that was what it meant to use the earth element?

Testing her theory, the black-haired girl allowed her chakra to flow freely throughout her body. Despite having just woken up she felt fatigue set in the longer she continued the flow of chakra, but she also felt something else. It felt as if she were standing on something solid and while deep in her core she felt a certain strength she had not felt before.

Pushing her theory further, Asami tried to move her left arm. At first it didn’t budge just like the hundreds of times she’d tried to move it the other day, but then it began to move. It didn’t move quickly, rather it moved very slowly as if the earth around her were resisting her like some living creature would. As time passed, however, it got easier and easier until she could move all of her limbs easily.

Good stuff

Reaching upwards she began to dig herself out of her mother’s jutsu. More than a few times she fell back into the cocoon her mother had created, but on the fifth try she made it up. Covered in dirt and sporting a huge smile she just lay on the ground in triumph.

“Mom! Mom!”

“What?! Are you all right?” The scream of Ai came from within the house as she thought surely something had gone horribly wrong with her daughter.

“Come and see!”

“Ah,” bursting through the backdoor one could read relief on Ai’s face. “That’s wonderful, Asami. How’d you do it?”

“Well,” Asami propped herself up on her forearms. “I just thought like a worm.”

Her mother laughed.

“Good good, it’s important that everyone find their own path to understanding. Come on, let’s get you inside and we can get on with phase two of the training.”

“Wait?!” Asami sat bolt upright. “I thought that was it…”

“Not even close,” her mother laughed once more in spite of herself. “But don’t worry, this is the last part.”

The pair made their way back into the courtyard where two pots stood empty. Next to them sat two reasonably large mounds of potting soil. The implication, Asami thought, was that they’d be potting plants and began to protest before being cutting off by her mother’s swift holding out of her hand soundlessly asking her to be patient. Mother and daughter took a seat in front of the pots before either one finally spoke and even when they did it probably didn’t make much sense to someone other than the two.

“Really?”

“Really.”

“That’s it?”

“That’s it,” her mother confirmed before sticking her hands into the mound of soil to her left. “Watch carefully, I’ll explain after.”

The older woman thrust her hands deep into the cold black soil and for a moment Asami was certain that she’d just grab two big handfuls of it. However, what actually happened could not be further from the truth, because instead of clenching her fists her mother removed her hands in a way that should not have captured any dirt. Yet, the soil seemed to cling to the older woman’s hands as if by magic. Asami, of course, knew it not to be magic, but rather chakra—it had to be chakra.

“Ok, so—“

Asami cut her mother off by mimicking her to a tee. She plunged her hands into the small mound of soil and withdrew them just as carefully as her mother had. However, when she removed her hands they only had a dull dusting of dirt which threw the small lines on each hand. Obviously, she’d messed up, but how?

Her mother’s soft airy laugh filled the courtyard.

“I like the enthusiasm,” her mother smiled. “And it’s a first good effort. I assume you ran chakra through your hands?”

“Yes,” the young girl responded reluctantly.

“Well, you’re on the right path,” she reassured. “The trick is to focus the same earth nature you used to escape the ground earlier. It’ll be a bit harder this time because you have to focus it on a single points, or rather two.”

To indicate what she was talking about Asami’s mother held up her hands.

“Watch one more time.”

Asami said nothing and instead concentrated on each movement her mother made.

“Your turn, try again.”

Taking a breath, the young genin concentrated on her chakra. She’d done the same exercise a thousand times before in the academy just without the earth element, perhaps it would be easier to focus on plain old chakra? She thought it would be.

Closing her eyes, she recalled the diagram of the chakra system she’d seen in classes. The branches stemmed outward all around the body like small streams fueling a shinobi’s prowess on the battlefield. Little by little, and the more she concentrated, she began to feel a unique pulse within her head. At first, she thought it to be her heartbeat, but the more she concentrated she more she realized that the pulse came a bit after her heartbeat, was it a chakra beat? Or was it her head playing games with her?

She couldn’t be sure, but she had to believe that it was.

Slowly but surely that pulse became stronger and stronger as the staccato of her heartbeat fell away leaving only the overpowering and unmistakable rush of chakra flooding to her extremities. The feeling, while not unfamiliar, still sent shivers through her body as if she’d just stepped into a cold shower. This, however, was not earth chakra; she knew the difference now and this felt too fluid. No, this was just yin chakra or was it yang? She had not paid close attention in class, oh well.

Main point being that she still had to concentrate even more.

She recalled how she felt in her earthen prison. The ground pressed tightly around her, the cold earth ate at the warmth, but at the same time it felt safe, it felt solid. Slowly but surely, she felt the chakra in her veins begin to change. The cold feeling didn’t leave but the genin became used to it and all at once she felt the same feeling she had before.

Next step, focus it into her hands

Now, Asami had never been all that gifted with chakra control. The broad strokes were easy for her, but when it came to the finer points she frustrated even herself with her inadequate, let alone her teachers in academy. In fact, she suspected that they’d just hand waved her through that portion of shinobi life. Nonetheless here she was trying to focus her chakra into her hands like she had never tried before. This time it was not about checking a box for school, but rather living up to her mother’s expectations, she wouldn’t be failing.

She couldn’t fail, not this time.

The cold rush of chakra began to recede from her body and came to rest in her hands. It felt like she had just plunged her hands into a freezer of some sort, but she pushed on. Opening her eyes, she didn’t even glance at her mother. Instead, she gazed at the soil in front of her, thrust her hands outward, and once more found felt the familiar gritty soil run through her hands. Then, keeping her chakra as focused as she could, she removed her hands and much to her delight soil came out with them attached to them like magnets.

Flashing a smile at her mother, the soil fell away along with her concentration. She had done it; it wasn’t pretty and she was a long way from any form of mastery, but the basics were a start. A very good start, in fact or at least she liked to think so. After all, skills are something you build up over time, not all of a sudden become good at. Luckily, she liked to think she had a lot of time ahead of her

Ah, the folly of youth.

“Alright, honey, now help me get these plants plotted.”

“But mom…”

It had been a ruse the whole time and just like that Asami found herself roped into what she disliked most: gardening.

[WC: 4021, Learning earth element 4000/4000 and claiming 20 stats.]
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Aryll Hyuuga
Jounin of Kiri
Jounin of Kiri
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Fame : 211
Home Village :
  • Mist

Element(s) : Suiton
Clan : Hyuuga
Clan Element : Incest and Class Discrimination
Bloodline : Byakugan
Ryo : 0
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PostSubject: Re: Salt of the Earth [P]   Mon Dec 04, 2017 6:02 pm

Approved!
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