I woke up feeling more refreshed than ever. It was a beautiful Saturday morning in Hinomura. The sun was shining with a cool breeze blowing. I got out of bed and got dressed. I put on my ninja gear and my father’s hitai-ate*, which I wore around my neck rather than on my forehead. I promised myself that I would only wear it on my forehead when I became Omo, like my father. I went to the academy to train as I did every day. I arrived at an empty training room, which made me feel relieved. I warmed up by practicing Taijutsu and basic weapon techniques such as throwing kunai and shuriken, using a katana, etc. But after the warm up, the main event arrived.
My name is Zaeraba Retaichi, and I am 16 years old. I live in a ninja village, where we have our own traditions and culture. We practice the arts of stealth and ninjutsu including taijutsu and genjutsu. Our village is commanded under one man, the Omo, also known as the lord. Today, the current Omo is the 129th Omo. My father was the previous, the 128th, and the most important Omo in history. A child prodigy, my father became the youngest Jonin* in history. He became Omo at the age of 28, also the youngest Omo in history. Though people believed he would be illogical and rash, he quickly established peace with rival villages, created the best educational program in our village’s history, gave our people equal rights, and created the most powerful ninja army of all the villages. He was looked up to and loved by everyone. But, one day, on a peace mission to Akumanomura, he was betrayed by his right hand man, Kairu. I was 5 at that time. Since then, we have been in a war against Akumanomura. I want to avenge my father, but there is a problem.
Though my father was a prodigy, I’m quite the opposite. Most people can use ninjutsu at the age of 10, I am still unable to use basic ninjutsu. The greatest ninjas can use extremely powerful ninjutsu, so how can I become Omo without it? Since I was little, I’ve been training very hard every day to use ninjutsu, but I am still unable to. Because of this, people call me a failure, a dishonor to our family, to Zadensetsu’s name. But I don’t let this get to me. I train every day to become a son worthy of my father.
I focused on my abdomen and try to control my chakra*. I used my mental energy to increase the temperature of it and superheat it. The heat was painful. I needed to draw it out quickly. I used my mind to pull the chakra up to my chest,into my lungs. I felt the burning of the chakra as it moves through my body. The longer it’s there, the more it continues to hurt. In my lungs, it burned so much that it’s hard to breath.I needed to release it. I recited the hand seal required for the jutsu.
“Fire Style, Hiryu no Dangan No Jutsu!” I opened my mouth as an exit for the burning chakra, but nothing came out. I try again, reciting the hand seal. It felt like my lungs were black. I might pass out. Good, I think to myself. I’ll use this to make my body release the chakra in order to maintain homeostasis.
“Fire Style, Hiryu no Dangan No Jutsu!” Again, nothing. But I can’t give up. My clothing was soaked in sweat, my vision is was getting blurry. I really needed to get rid of the chakra. It felt like I might die from a heat stroke.
“Water Style, Toketsu Mizu No Jutsu.” I get a surge of freezing water to my entire body and I hit the ground. Steam rose out of my body as the water quickly evaporated from the chakra. The water cooled down the chakra to a safe temperature.
“If you keep that up you’re going to overheat and die. Take a break man.” It was my best friend Tensai Hori. I didn’t respond, still catching my breath.
“Don’t do this to yourself. Work at a safe pace. Fire releases are the most powerful but most dangerous of all releases. Work at a slower pace.” He said. It was obvious he was worried about me.
“Thanks, but I have to do this. For my father.” I replied. He sighed.
“You feeling alright now?” He asked.
“Much better now. Thanks for saving me.”
“No problem. You up for a spar?” I got up, smiling.
Tensai has been my best friend since we were kids. He’s nice, smart, and charming, but you don’t want to get on his bad side. People find it very odd that we’re so close. The main reason is because he is a prodigy. Tensai was able to use ninjutsu and genjutsu* at the age of 6. He mastered Chunin ninjutsu at the age of 12, which is usually mastered at the age of 20, and is at the top of the school in academics. While most ninjas stick to the element of their village, Tensai combines the elements, creating unpredictable and deadly attacks. The top Daigakus* already look at him as a candidate for their schools when he’s still in his first year of Takai Academy*. But despite our differences, Tensai still respects me and is always a good friend, and I like to think that I act the same way towards him, which is why we are best friends.
We both take off our jackets and throw them to the side as we walk into the Sento-Shitsu, which is where students spar during school, but it is open to anyone who wants to use it. The Sento-Shitsu is so great for sparring because it isn’t a normal arena. Every day, the school administrators use ninjutsu to transform the environment of the arena, allowing ninjas to practice fighting and adapting to different environments. The environments range from forests to mountains, deserts to icebergs, even the ocean where ninjas have to run on water using ninjutsu. Today, the arena is an open grassland with little terrain. Flat with nothing to disturb a battle. We bow to each other as we are taught to in the academy. We stand there, quietly planning our attacks, then we charge.
We run at each other quickly, swift enough to cover a few yards in seconds, but quiet enough to avoid the slightest sound from running. As I close in on him, I prepare for a punch, but Tensai quickly jumps to the side and sends a kick and my side. Surprised, I am barely able to bring my arm up to block the kick, but my balance wasn’t stable as I was running, causing me to fall. Tensai runs at me, but I quickly to a kip up and am ready to defend. He tenaciously throws punches, but I am able to dodge them with ease, using my reflexes to evade his attacks and paying attention for an opening. I see one as he goes for a kick to my head. As he is extending his leg and bringing it toward my head, I quickly duck down, extend my leg, and spin, knocking him off his one leg and causing him to lose his balance. As he is falling, I jump up, bring my leg up above my head, and bring it down. As he hits the ground, my foot hits him in the chest, causing him to cough.
“You win, you win.” Tensai shouts as he sees me prepare for another attack. He sighs in relief as I put my leg down and sit next to him.
“No matter how hard I try, I can never beat you in a spar.” Tensai says, breathing heavily from our battle. He looks at me distastefully. I didn’t even break a sweat. “Be more proud of yourself! You’re one of the top in the village at Taijutsu. Most Chunin probably couldn’t beat you in a spar!”
“But what’s a ninja if he can’t use ninjutsu? If you used ninjutsu you could easily crush me in a fight.” Tensai got up and looked at me.
“Look, I know you really want to be able to use ninjutsu and bring honor to your dad, but you can’t force it. Chakra is dangerous to deal with, and use of it comes with experience. You’ll be able to use it when the time comes. Just relax, continue to study, and one day, poof! You’ll be able to spit fireballs and transform into dragons!” This made me feel better. I smiled at him.
“Thanks man.” He smiled back with his giant crescent smile.
“No problem.Come on, let’s go grab some ramen.” He held out his hand. I grabbed it and he pulled me up. “But you pay today because I had to save your life.” He said, smiling mischievously while nudging me with his elbow.
“No way, I payed last time. You owe me still anyways.” I bumped into him with my shoulder and laughed a little. We continued this as we walked all the way to the ramen bar.
As we walked down the street, we heard children playing people saying. We saw some people playing Ninsakka*, ferociously sending attacks at the ball and shouting for a pass. The game was very close, four to four in a best of five game. We were watching the game so intently that we weren’t watching in front of us.
“Oof!” It felt like I bumped into a rock. I looked up to see a boy who looked like a Shinia* in the academy. He was about 6”3 with an extremely muscular body. His fists were wrapped in bandages, which was what most Taijutsu fighters did, as we always have our knuckles cut up for throwing punches. He had two friends with him who looked at me like I committed a crime.
“Watch where you’re going kid!” The guy I bumped into shouted.
“Sorry dude, I should’ve paid more attention to where I was going. I’ll do so next time.”
“Dude? Did you just address me as dude? Do you know who I am?!” He pushed me back. Though it didn’t seem like he used much force, he pushed me off my feet and I fell onto my back. He walked to where my feet were and pointed his thumb to his face. “I’m Sono Kirainahito, Ninensei* at Doragon Academy, the top academy in the village! I’m the top in Taijutsu in the entire academy! You address me as Sensei, maggot!” He examined my face, and suddenly a surprised look arrived in his eyes. “Wait, are you Zaeraba? That failure who’s supposed to be the son of the 128th Omo? The weakling?” This made me angry. I suddenly had the urge to punch this guy in the face. Sono started to, laugh. “A failure like you should just stay at home. You don’t deserve to walk in this village if you can’t even use a bit of ninjutsu.” I was about to jump up and smash this guy in the face.
“That’s enough.” Tensei had walked in. “I’m very sorry Sono that my friend here bumped into you. It won’t happen again.”
“It better not. Come on guys, let’s go.” They walked by us without saying another word.
“Why didn’t you let me hit him?” I said angrily and Tensai. “I could have crushed that kid if you let me.”
“I’ve heard about him, and you’re chance of winning is very small.” He replied calmly.
“And why is that?”
“Sono is a skilled Taijutsu fighter, but he has mastered the art of shadow clones, which he combines with his Taijutsu skills. He can create dozens of clones who can fight with the same level of skill as he can. Most people can barely even defeat one clone, and there are usually over 20. Without ninjutsu, your chances are slim.” If this was true, Tensai was right. I didn’t stand a chance.
“Come on let’s go eat. I’m starving. And yes, I’ll pay.” I added as I saw Tensei opening his mouth. This seemed to satisfy him, which made me feel better that I could at least make him happy.
The weekend passed quickly with some fun playing outdoors with my friends, and before I knew it it was already Monday. I arrived with Tensei at the academy to see a welcome banner on the entrance to the academy. “Welcome Doragon Academy!”
“What the heck is going on here…” I asked Tensei. He shrugged and we walked into the academy. We arrived to the training room to see students from both academies lined up against the wall.
“Doragon Academy has come to have a student sparring session to expose students from both schools to different opponents of different talents.” Our academy Gensoku* said. He turned to see me and Tensei at the door. “Zaeraba, Tensei, why are you guys late?”
“Sorry sir, it won’t happen again.” Tensei said as we both bowed. It looked like he was about to punish us, but he looked behind him to see the administrator from Doragon Academy.
“That’s alright, but don’t be late again.” Tensei and I nodded and joined the others in the line. “We shall start the sparring now. Who would you like to send up Ryu Sensei?” Ryu Sensei looked at his students and pointed at one. “Sono, you shall spar first.”
“Yes sir.” He replied. He stepped forward and waited to hear who his opponent would be. Our administrator looked among us.
“Zaeraba!” This surprised me. I expected him to select Tensei to show our academies power. Why would he pick me? My selection made Sono smile. I could tell he was itching to destroy me. “You two may now enter the arena. All jutsu is allowed, as well as weapons and armor.”
“You should take a weapon. You’re going to need it.” Sono said to me as we prepared to enter the room. I stayed quiet, but anger was building inside of me. Today the arena was a forest. Large oak trees sprouted in the arena and hid my opponent.
“Spar number one. Competitors: Zaeraba Retaichi and Sono Kirainahito. Ready, Fight!” I jumped up, grabbed a tree branch, and swung my body around it to get on top of it. I then started jumping from tree to tree, searching for my opponent. After about a minute of tree jumping, I spotted him sitting atop a tree, looking for me. I silently continued jumping, and when I was right behind him, sent it kick at his head. It connected, and Sono was knocked off the branch, but when his body hit the ground, it exploded into smoke. I suddenly realized what had just happened, but it was too late.
I quickly turned around just in time to see Sono’s knee fly into my face. I was sent to the ground tumbling. His attack was powerful enough to make my vision shaky. I looked up expecting Sono to be standing there, but what I saw went beyond my expectations.
I was surrounded by what looked like one hundred doppelgangers, each preparing to give a beating. The real Sono was standing on the tree where he attacked me.
“Any last words, failure?” He said chuckling. I said nothing. This seemed to upset him. “Fine, then die!” At once, all of the doppelgangers attacked me at once. I couldn’t dodge all of their attacks, so I also had to add some blocking into the mix. Still, that wasn’t enough. I was pummeled into the ground by hundreds of punches every second. I needed to attack all of them at once. I needed to use a fire release.
I continued to take the beating but I focused on my abdomen and overheated my chakra. I used my mind to pull the chakra up up body to my mouth, but again I couldn’t release my chakra. This caused me to get frustrated. I angrily moved my chakra all over my body, trying to release it.
Suddenly, fire erupted out of my body and killed all of the doppelgangers. The heat in my body was gone. I looked down at myself to see fire rising out of me. Normally, fire releases can only be done through the mouth as an opening for it, but the fire was coming out of my cuts from the battle. I could easily control where the fire came out from and how powerful it was.
“Kagebuno no Jutsu*!” Hundreds of clones appear around me, all intent in destroying me. “Get him!” Sono shouts.
“Hinokami no Jutsu!” I summon fire around my arms and my legs. As the clones jump to attack me, I amplify the fire in my right leg and spin, causing the fire to spin around and destroy all of the shadow clones. I see Sono trying to make more, so I jump up, and put my hands together to form a ball. I amplify the fire as much as I can, then point my palms outwards towards Sono. “Fire Release, Kamehameha Moeru!” A beam of fire shoots out of my hands, obliterating everything that came in contact with it. It destroyed all the trees in it’s path, leaving only ashes where they used to be. Luckily, Sono used shadow clones to block the attack, but he still received major injuries from the battle. Still, I didn’t feel sorry for him.
“Zaeraba!” I heard Tensei call out as I left the arena. “That was amazing! I told you you would be able to use ninjutsu!” It was pretty awesome. Nobody had ever done that in history. I felt proud, proud that I could bring honor to my father’s name, and happy that I was not the failure that I used to be.
Hitai-ate: A head protector with a piece of metal on it that Shinobi usually wear. It usually has the symbol of the shinobi’s village on it.
Jonin: The class closest to the Omo on the Ninja Ladder
Ninja Ladder: Student, Genin, Chunin, Jonin, Omo.
Taijutsu: Ninja Martial Arts
Chakra: The moulding on physical energy that is present in every cell and the spiritual energy that is in your mind. Used for most forms of ninjutsu and all forms of genjutsu.
Genjutsu: Similar to Ninjutsu, using chakra to perform impossible human feats, but usually in the form of illusions.
Daigaku: Ninja College
Takai Academy: Ninja High School.
Ninsakka: Ninja soccer, where the players use ninjutsu to score a ball into a goal.
Shinia: Someone in their last year of academy.
Ninensei: Someone in their second year of academy.
Kagebuno no Jutsu: Shadow Clone Jutsu