Irritable Inkling (Open)

Kiri

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It was clear from a young age that the boy was quite adventurous. He didn’t bat an eye at the sight of his first caught giant fish, or when the adults hauled in a large octopus. He didn’t fear to dive into the cold waters off the port and swim in open waters with the rest of the fishing crew. He glared at storms as if challenging them. He learned the trick and trade of fishing and seafaring like it was his destiny. But it was also obvious that when he once met a traveling teacher that he poured out hours into his books. His father said that maybe he should look into a future of writing but he was stubborn and always believed that he would just become a fisherman like that old man.

That was until he learned of the truth of his unknown parentage and though he didn’t want to know of the truth because of his own fear, he would sometimes be swept by emotions and haunted by dreams of people he never knew. Nevertheless, the Old Man was still his father by all rights, being the man who raised him, and as part of his respect for the Old Man, he acquiesced when he was told to come to the academy and find his own meaning of life, learn more of the world and of himself. Much to his chagrin, of course, since he was already contented with a simple life in Port Cirrus, but he obeyed.

And thinking about it, Nanashi came to the perfect place where he could expand his knowledge with books. A perfect day when it was raining, as well. It meant there was no reason for him to make up excuses such as field training just so he could postpone this moment. Heaven knows he’d been uneasy because he was still uncertain if he would ever learn about his heritage at all.

“That’s why I’m here just to read about history. Just that,” he said, seemingly speaking to himself as he moved between shelves, trailing a finger along the spines of records. “Just plain history. Nothing else.”

But then he froze as his finger stopped along a record that was titled “The Bear Country”. He felt his heart skipped a beat as he remembered the Old Man’s words: ‘I found you at the border of the conflicting Bear and Marsh…’ Of course, there was no way to be certain that he was really from those places, but it was highly likely.

“No.” He looked away and went to find something else, only to stop and then glance back at the book that had taken his interest. It was both curiosity and fear that reflected in his eyes. He didn’t want to be someone else. He was just wanted to be the Old Man’s son. Was that hard? And yet, a part of him also felt betrayed that time he found out about the truth and he wanted nothing more than to learn of those places his Old Man spoke of.

So he stepped back in front of the shelf and placed a finger on top of the book’s spine, tilting it and slowly pulling it out towards him, only to stop mid-way as he hesitated once more. And before he knew it, he was having an inner conflict of curiosity and fear, unable to move from the spot.

Word Count: 569
 

Hameru Ren

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Ah, the library. His second home! Or so it had been, anyway. Once he'd risen to the rank of Sennin, most all of his time had been spent in the office. And now, after his coma, most of it had been spent at the Academy. His body had been so terribly out of shape, the ex-Sennin could only be thankful his mind had not deteriorated likewise. It was half a miracle too, if his doctors were to be believed. Apparently some patients had awoken and their mind had reverted to the state of a four year old. Even others had even found themselves speaking a different language entirely. The Shinobi had been spared of such awkward scenarios, but in exchange had to rebuild his body from the ground up.

Thankfully, even there he'd been granted a special favour. As Natsu had discovered just a few days earlier, part of his recovery had been due to the inscription of several Cursed Seals. Once forbidden methods of boosting a person beyond natural possibilities, it had become a more regular practice in recent days. That said, barely anyone ever got more than one Seal. And even fewer sought to fully control the foreign power, instead simply enjoying and abusing the foreign power. Natsu was not one of those people. And that had brought him out of the dojos in the Academy to the library.

He'd been stationed at a desk in one of the upper levels for an hour or two now, flipping through various scrolls and medical journals handling the subject. Deciding it was time for a short break, the blonde got up from the workstation and made his way downwards. Perhaps I could pick up some snacks at the bakery next door. Chocolate with cream filling.. Mmmhm, yes! The man thought to himself, already enjoying the thought. A young boy caught his attention however, before he made it to the exit. Clearly struggling with some internal conflict, the kid was focusing intently on a specific scroll. Curious..

"Y'know, Tobira-sensei is a real stickler for people who manhandle books and scrolls. I'd advise you to take the book or leave it, before he starts nagging." Natsu suggested, knowing first hand just how annoying the old git could be. He still stood a few feet away, and could not make out what the book would be about. The section of the library revealed it would be regarding Cloud's history however, and if the inventory had not been changed too much, specifically foreign relationships. "Perhaps I could help you find what you need?" The older man offered. The snacks could wait a bit longer.
 

Kiri

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It was in his deep thoughts of the matter that got him contemplating if he should read it or not, that in the end he was surprised by the sudden voice and he tipped the said record off the shelf. He quickly reached out with both hands as he grabbed it before it fell to the ground. Now squatting in front of the shelf with a relieved expression as those words sank into his mind, there was a sudden change of his complexion as red tinge would form along his cheeks and his ears. Embarrassment was never one to shy in exposing him.

“I-I was in the process of it,” Nanashi said quickly as he came to a stand and slowly glanced to the side with a bit of wariness just in case it was the so-called Tobira-sensei who was just pretending to give a warning as someone else, but when his eyes saw the man before him, Nanashi couldn’t help but feel a bit at ease. At least it wasn’t a scary old grump. “Sorry,” he uttered almost reflexively and then straightened up to stand.

“It’s okay. I just feel like reading anything, really,” he added as he kept a good look at the stranger that appeared out of nowhere. He was still uneasy, perhaps because he never felt the other’s presence until he actually came out and spoke. Otherwise, he could have been stalked for all he knew. Ah, such was the new life as a shinobi and he needed to get used to it– all those unexpected moments.

Then in an attempt to break the awkwardness, he let his curious mind pursue the subject at hand. “However, if you know any more that relates to the Bear Country that would be helpful. Like maybe… records of people? I dunno. Were there such people who took asylum in Kumogakure during the wars?”
 

Hameru Ren

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Noticing the obvious nervousness, Natsu shook his head. Surely Tobira-Sensei had not manhandled this child already, had he? To instill such fear with such a simple name.. Most tyrants would be proud of it! Perhaps the Shinobi would have to have a word with him. Sure, discipline was important, but it was not worth chasing the youth away from the library. They were the future of the Village after all. And having observed a couple of classes recently, some students were woefully in need of a proper mental education. Muscle alone would not save you in this world. Then again, would knowledge on a topic as specific as the Bear Country? Maybe if one was going on a mission there.. But this student was not quite ready for such an assignment.

Regardless, one could say Natsu was rather knowledgeable regarding the Bear Country. After all, most information Cloud had regarding their military and political prowess had come via the Spymaster’s very own network. He’d uncovered romantic scandals amongst their nobles and extensive fraud cases to cover up large sums of military expenses. Hell, at one point he’d even been able to tell when the Tsuchikage was bathing with a margin of 23 seconds. The latter was information he wisely did not spread, as he’d incorrectly had gotten the label of pervert back in the day. Lies and slander, Natsu would say!

Yet refugees had never particularly caught his eye. Certainly, border control had been sharpened but without a proper system in place to verify entry across their entire border had proven rather wasteful. It was no stretch of the imagination that many refugees had sought shelter within the Lightning Country however. Most had stuck to the countryside however, plenty of them returning home after the war. The boy had specified his query to Kumogakure however. That parameter limited the results significantly. And it sounded like a fun challenge to pinpoint who the boy could possibly looking for..

“I have to admit, I am not fully up to date on the current status of all such immigrants. What time frame are we looking at?” The blonde inquired, making his way over to a bookshelf a bit further away. Picking out several scrolls, he place them on a nearby table. If the boy had not followed him, out of fear or otherwise, he’d motion for him to come closer. One scroll revealed itself to be a map of the Bear, Marsh and Lightning countries with special markings for the borders and travel routes. The others held detailed accounts of skirmishes during the war and noticeable immigrant flocks of the past 15 years. “Any further information to help us narrow down results? Name, point of origin, appearance details, profession,..?”
 

Kiri

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It was too late when Nanashi realised he made a foolish request, let along a suspicious one. He didn’t have any ill-intent for finding such records. He was just… curious… anxious… eager. And so, when the other had given him hope, he couldn’t help but jump for it. And though he quickly realised that his request may be denied, he was surprised when the latter had accepted it, even more eager than he was, already asking for minute details about it.

“Eh?” he was surprised, of course, but he quickly went to follow the stranger towards a table where he began to spread out scrolls about Bear Country. “I, uh, I don’t really know anything about my…. I mean, about who it is… they were…” He tried to grasp his words but it was hard when he couldn’t even think properly of how to describe them. In the end, he had to admit that he was too lost. “You know, there’s a reason why I don’t know where to start– I don’t know anything but…”

He thought about it quickly and perhaps if he was from Bear Country and his parents were as well, then maybe they would look a little similar. “Around 12 or 13 years ago… Maybe a couple? Red hair? No, maybe black as well. Maybe tall, big boned… Uh… green eyes? Maybe olive-skinned. They might have been young. I don’t really know.”

He sighed at the thought that he knew just about nothing about his real parents, and the worse case scenario even played in his mind, “Maybe they were hunted. They couldn’t escape from Bear Country. Maybe they’re dead.” He fell silent at those words before he quickly shook his head and then went to look at this helpful stranger. “Profession… warrior… I mean… shinobi? Someone capable of using jutsu.” For as far as he was concerned, his natural affinity to water and his control for chakra may have been inherited.