Chapter 121: Suspicions, Lesson and Trust
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_________ POV Narration _________

Ken cracked his neck as he stood in front of the classroom.

The podium in front of him was filled with blank pages, as usual.

They weren't blank per se, but nothing could be seen with the naked eye. This was optimal, as Ken had no eyes, naked or otherwise.

But despite being empty, the pages were also fully written. Within Ken's mind were drawn countless theories about the ways he could go around to teach his students about natural energy.

Plenty of thoughts and experiments he wanted to run were laid down on those papers. The reason why they were empty was quite simple.

Invisible ink.

Not just that, Tosho had gone out of his way to seek out and create a form of ink that could be felt when being infused with chakra.

It was actually quite expensive to make and chakra metal dust was used during the creation process, but it was a rather great tool.

One couldn't really see what was written when the paper was infused with chakra, but they could feel it.

A normal shinobi would still have trouble reading something through his chakra, but to a sensor like Ken, it was child's play. 

Jiraiya still didn't realize what was going on, so to him seeing a blind child sift through a stack of empty papers in front of a full classroom was still jarring. 

The rest of the children didn't seem to pay any mind to that anomaly, they just quietly waited for their teacher with smiles etched upon their faces.

Jiraiya couldn't help but sweat at that scene, it honestly felt as if the children were well and truly brainwashed. 

He had yet to meet one of them that had any semblance of a negative emotion towards the Dark Brotherhood or Ken himself, and that was a tad concerning. 

To any outsider who hadn't spent enough time there, the young members of the Dark Brotherhood sure seemed to be brainwashed. 

No one could blame an outsider for making that mistake. Kazue had also thought so at first. But he did realize at some point that there was no brain washing within the Brotherhood.

'They're just being treated well and are acting accordingly...' That was the conclusion that the Uzumaki Seal Master had reached after all the time he had spent within the Brotherhood. 

Of course, Jiraiya didn't really think that Ken was the one pulling the strings in that sense.

'He may be strong, stronger than anyone here... But I doubt he is experienced enough to pull something like this off... Maybe one of the blades is controlling the organization behind the scenes?' 

The Toad Sage's mind immediately went to the three Blades that were present in the back.

The first one was just standing in place, still like a pillar while observing the classroom through his mask. 

Although he was standing there, and Jiraiya could see him, his presence was fleeting, almost as non-existent as that of Ken himself. 

It was hard for Jiraiya to tell what was on his mind. 

The Second Blade looked a lot more casual. He seemed to be sipping on some tea, he had seemingly made a small hole in his mask for that specific purpose. 

He was sat down on one of the seats in the back, his figure smaller than that of the first, less eye-catching, but certainly still intimidating to Jiraiya. 

Although his presence seemed more pronounced, he also gave the Toad Sage a creepy feeling. The type that made one thing clear... 'I don't want to get involved with this one.' 

  The Third Blade was the most confusing, however. 

He was also sat down, his legs resting on the desk in front of him as his arms were crossed and head tilted backwards. 

He seemed to be... Snoring? 

'Hmm... I guess the one behind the brainwashing would either be the First or the Second... Or maybe the Third is actually secretly a genius as well? It's really hard to tell...' 

As Jiraiya continued musing and trying to get a better read of the situation, the lesson also started.

"Last time, we talked a bit about the theory behind Nature Energy, what it is, how it functions and the effects it may have..."

The Blind Monster's voice was quiet and imposing, it demanded attention, and Jiraiya was immediately broken out of his trance as his eyes settled on the lecturing teacher. 

"I'm sure that many of you have already tried it, right? To get a feel of the Nature Energy around you, to try and sense it." 

Although the lesson was directed towards the children, Jiraiya still couldn't help but pay attention. He had already agreed to attend the lessons, so he was going to at least try and make the most of them. 

"Yep yep~ Teacher's description of this Nature Energy was really cool! 'The blood of the world itself' There's no way we wouldn't at least try to sense it!" Yue clapped her hands, happily responding to her master/teacher. 

Many of the children present nodded at her words, Tatsukio and Morita included. 

Ken had been quite blunt during their past lecture. He made it very clear that Nature Energy was far superior to Chakra in terms of the raw power it provided its users. 

Although it was a completely different type of energy from chakra, and it couldn't quite be moulded the same way Chakra could be, it was still similar in many ways. 

And when it came to raw power, there really was no comparing the two of them. 

Many of the children had already tried to get a feel of it, all of them sitting down and meditating in their spare time. 

"But none of you have made any progress, right?" 

Ken crossed his arms and tilted his head. All of the children were quiet this time around, looking down in disappointment... All but one.

"I can feel it, Father... You have big energy around you! Bigger than everyone else!" A little girl with her hand raised was the one to speak out.

Her speech was a bit messy and her words a bit frantic. 

It was none other than Umebi, to Ume, the Dark Brotherhood's youngest. 

She gestured with her hands as she spoke, raising them to the sky as she described the literal pillar of Nature Energy that was Ken's body. 

Now, if Ken had eyes, he would've been blinking in confusion at that. He hadn't expected any of the children to sense Nature Energy in such a short time frame. 

Jiraiya's eyes almost popped out of his head as well. He looked at the young girl with shock and awe.

Sensing Nature Energy was no small feat. Countless others struggled for days on end to sense it when starting their Sage Training... And that was within the confines of Mount Myōboku.

They were all training near the spring, where the density of Nature Energy was the greatest in the world.

'Holy... I knew that there were plenty of talents around in the Dark Brotherhood... But I didn't think there would be this many geniuses around!' 

The 'One-Legged Devil' and 'Bloody Princess' were bad enough already. But it seemed that the Dark Brotherhood had caught a lot of golden eggs among their recruits.

Jiraiya couldn't help but feel slight jealousy. 

"That is interesting... In that case, you can come and stand beside me." Ken seemed to have wanted to say something more, but he ended up just shaking his head and smiling underneath his mask. 

Ume seemed a bit surprised. But she didn't object. Her small figure walked up to the podium and she stood straight by her teacher's side.

Ken didn't miss one moment as he gave her a hearty laugh and patted her head.

"Congratulations Ume! It seems you do have a knack for this!" The Assassin didn't hold back on the praises, gladly stopping his lecture for a few moments to put a smile on the little girl's face.

Now, this action did stir a lot of jealousy within the other recruits present, more specifically Yue, but that was a story for another day. 

The recruits didn't get the time to be jealous for too long, as Ken's masked face turned back towards the classroom.

"Now, although Ume has managed to sense Nature Energy on her own, I will still help all of you to sense it here today... At the same time, I will also make sure that you are truly prepared to learn Senjutsu..."

Ken then grasped at the back of his head and cracked his neck. He let out a loud exhale.

The entire room was excited, wondering how their teacher would help them.

Jiraiya was also scratching his chin, studying the Blind Monster, trying to guess what he was going to end up doing. 

And that was when it happened. 

Ken raised one of his arms towards the classroom, his palm hung limply as his fingers all pointed towards the ground.

And the moment that the Blind Monster's fingers pointed up, all of the people in the classroom felt it.

They were unable to ignore it, anyone who had their eyes open could see it.

A purplish aura extending from Ken's palm, a malevolent wave of energy pushed everyone back, all of the students covering their heads and taking a few steps back before kneeling down to withstand the pressure. 

The second the wave appeared, Jiraiya was already stuck to the wall at the very back of the classroom, he stuck to it like a frog as he watched the podium with terror in his eyes.

He had jumped from his seat and onto that wall the moment Ken's fingers had pointed upwards.

He sweated heavily as he realised that the Nature Energy Ken was exuding just felt wrong... It was almost perverted in a sense, it was no longer pure. 

Yue gasped in excitement, her hair fluttering in the wind as she stabbed her Needle Blade into the ground to hold on.

Tatsukio seemed to be able to stop himself by sticking to the floor with chakra, but he was leaning backwards while in a protective position. 

Morita was down on all fours, sticking to the floor with all of his strength as his cheeks fluttered under that pressure. 

Many of the students were using similar methods to not be pushed back too much.

Meanwhile, Ume at Ken's side also took a small step back, but she wasn't really feeling any pressure. 

It was obvious, the lesson wasn't for her anymore. Ken was going to force the students to get accustomed to Nature Energy the hard way. 

Even if it was an impure form, such brutal pressure would definitely open up their senses to Nature's Energy. 

She ended up smiling in amazement as she stood by her teacher's side and watched her classmates struggle. 

"Hmm... You have until the end of the class to pass by me and stand by my side. If you fail to do so, then you will return to your regular scheduled training. 

You may get the chance to return to Senjutsu training in the future, but you will be added to another batch after becoming stronger." 

Ken's words were like a bucket of cold water amidst a heat wave. Everyone was already stressed out due to the pressure, but hearing Ken's voice calmed them down greatly.

And it also motivated them.

They couldn't lose it. They couldn't lose the chance to be taught by Ken personally. 

Morita grit his teeth as he forced himself to crawl forward, he was the first among the students to take a step. 

Before anyone could even blink, a slight gust of wind passed through the classroom, and the First Blade was already standing by Ken's side, his arms held behind his back as he stood there silently. 

Jiraiya's eyes widened once more when he noticed that. 

Not only at the fact that someone was able to withstand Ken's pressure so quickly, but also because of his speed. 

"Haaah~" A loud yawn was heard next, as the Third Blade was seemingly woken up from his nap. He looked around confused for a moment before shrugging and walking forward like nothing was happening.

He seemed to also not be in any rush. He just kept his hands behind his head as he yawned and walked through the pressure, he eventually reached the podium without any issue and just sat down by Ken's side. 

"Seems like someone's been fed well..." The Second Blade slowly put his teacup down as he also stood up, he then vanished from his spot and reappeared behind Ken as well. 

He seemed to have just used the Body Flicker technique. 

'Holy shit... This place really is filled with monsters...' Jiraiya couldn't help but sweat. 

He wasn't sure if the exercise applied to him as well. But he damn well didn't want to appear any weaker than the Blades.

So he immediately started running towards the podium as well. 

His speed was good, certainly not any lesser than that of the First Blade. And he made it through the aura wave as he overcame his fear of it. 

He was a Legendary Sannin for god's sake, he wasn't going to allow himself to be outdone by some masked wackos in a bounty-hunting organisation. 

In the end, the children also bore through the pressure. Their eyes were resolute, their minds fearless. 

After all, why would they ever fear their father? The trust they placed in him was greater than anything. So there was no need for any of them to worry about getting injured.

So they just trudged ahead.

Morita was first to reach the podium, crawling onto it and lying down while panting with a smile on his face.

The next to reach it was Tatsukio, he simply dashed towards it, flying through the air in a few straight angles before landing behind his teacher in a crouched position, well, he was mainly supporting himself on his arms as his one leg was crouched down. 

After that, it was Yue's turn to show off her skills. She immediately used her Sowing Needle to extend a dozen or so threads onto the stage, and she pulled herself towards it using them.

She did try to 'accidentally crash' into her teacher, but Tosho 'fortunately' caught her by the scruff of her neck and dragged her away to a corner of the podium, where he placed her down like one would a puppy. 

After that, the rest of the students also managed to cross onto the podium, although at a slower pace than their more talented classmates.

However, in all fairness, many of them were situated more to the back of the class, which also made things more difficult for them. 

Overall, Ken was very pleased with the results of the test. Many of the children seemed now to be more aware of the Nature Energy around them. 

All of them could now, at the very least, sense Ken's aura even when he was not bothering to use it actively. 

Of course, this was as long as Ken wasn't bothering to hide it. 

Still, that was very good progress in itself. 

As for Ume... Well, she had just managed to become Ken's third personal disciple within the Brotherhood. 

Ken was going to be giving the little girl a lot of extra lessons, to allow for her overwhelming talent to bloom and shine thoroughly. 

'Hmm, yes. Things seem to be going quite well...' Ken couldn't help but smile as he finally reached his office after a long day.

He sat down, and the second he did so Tosho was already entering his room, with a letter in his right hand.

"Master, it seems that we've received a request for help from a rather large group of Orphans within the Land of Rain..." 

"... More work, huh?" The assassin just sighed as he slumped into his chair. 

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Hope you liked the chapter!

I'm tired af, so I'mma just finish uploading and go to sleep

Story Shoutout: The Final Desperation

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