_________ POV Narration _________
"Well, calling them a group of orphans may be a bit harsh... But they do all seem to be teenagers, 15 and above." Tosho spoke out as he stood in place and waited for his master's orders.
Ken just sighed and shook his head.
"Still... The Akatsuki, huh?" Ken rested his legs on the desk in front of him as his mind started struggling to remember whether or not he had heard of them before.
But no matter how much he struggled, he couldn't quite remember any mention of such a group in the past few years that he had been active in that world...
"They are seemingly a new organization, founded on the coattails of the Second Shinobi War, well, near the start of the Third Shinobi War in fact."
Tosho had seemingly already done his homework. Having received that message right after the lecture and rushing to find out more about the Akatsuki as a group.
It hadn't even taken him a full hour to reach out to his various informants and find out more about the situation in the Land of Rain.
The Akatsuki were essentially an insurgent group that sought to end the warring period. At least that was their stated mission to the world.
They were indeed mainly comprised of War Orphans, so it was fair to say that their goal was likely genuine.
But that was about where Tosho's knowledge of them started and ended. It wasn't like he had time for a thorough investigation for a random help request.
But since he knew of Ken's stance regarding the War, he felt that it was worth bringing up the Akatsuki's request to him, since their views seemed to align to some extent.
The Blind Monster listened to his Right-hand man's short report.
"So what does their message even contain anyway? You described it as a request for help..."
Ken's intent was clearly portrayed through his words, at least for Tosho, who knew his master best.
Although he was acting indifferent, Ken's interest was certainly piqued.
After all, it was quite rare for a group of Shinobi to be vying for the end of the War.
Then there was also the fact that both the Dark Brotherhood and the Akatsuki seemed to be a place of refuge for orphans of War.
Those two factors alone were more than enough to capture the Blind Assassin's attention.
"Well, they are specifically asking for an audience with you. They seem to have learnt that you aren't that far from their age and that you don't get involved too often in the Wars of the Shinobi..."
"So they're looking for a helping hand with ending the war, huh?" Ken tilted his head as he continued his subordinate's words without stopping for even a second.
It was the only logical reason as to why the Akatsuki would contact the Dark Brotherhood.
Although Ken hadn't expressed his will to bring about peace to the world yet, the Brotherhood was already notorious for staying out of the Shinobi Wars.
Ken personally did get involved in one conflict related to the war, and did clash with the Mizukage and killed a Jinchuriki. But that was said to be a mission for a friend, the Raikage.
And having the Raikage as a friend likely just meant that Ken had more influence in the world for the young leaders of the Akatsuki.
"Well, that is the gist of what I gathered from their message... So what is the plan, will you be visiting them?" Tosho nodded and crossed his arms, the Samehada behind him also wiggled a bit, awaiting Ken's response with intrigue.
"It's worth looking into at the very least... But I am afraid that the children may become a bit overzealous..."
Ken seemed to be a bit conflicted, causing Tosho to tilt his head slightly.
"Hmm... And why might that be?" Tosho crossed his arms and waited for his master's answer.
The Blind Assassin didn't let him wait for long.
"I did just help them all become more sensitive to Nature Energy... I'm afraid they may start trying to absorb it on their own and without any supervision."
Ken's sigh weighed heavily in the room for a few seconds. Tosho seemed to be thinking for a few seconds before he turned and looked at Ken.
"Well, they are much more well-behaved than that... They won't attempt something you specifically prohibit them from doing. They all listen to you and respect you."
He was quick to come up with some sort of reassurance, but it didn't seem to be enough for Ken.
"Oh, I don't doubt that for one second... But they are also extremely eager to prove themselves.
They all want my recognition at the end of the day. And just about all of them tried to sense it before that lesson even started.
While I am here, I can sense them at all times, so I can make sure they don't try something stupid... Don't get me wrong, I trust you fully... But your eyes aren't as good as mine."
Ken's speech came to an end on a rather sad note.
But Tosho didn't seem at all discouraged. He was well aware that he couldn't possibly keep his eye on everyone in the compound like Ken could.
He did think he'd manage with the 10 children that were taught, but he was still not 100% confident.
One thing he learnt from working with Ken is that he only really appreciated certainties, and he disliked lies. At least when he wasn't the one telling said lies.
That hypocrisy was one of the few things that reminded Tosho that his Master was still human, no matter how much his body morphed and changed throughout the years. That and the affection he showed to those he cared for.
"I apologise for my inadequacies..."
At that point, Tosho could only really apologize. He was supposed to be the second in command, but Ken really was the one that glued everything together.
With him there, anything in the world could go wrong and they'd still find a way to fix it. Without him, things became a lot more difficult.
He was a bit disappointed in himself. After all, his Master was clearly intrigued enough about the Akatsuki to want to make a trip there, but he was held back by his incompetence.
And then he finally got an idea.
"Well, it is possible that you can go out. For one, you can have Saburo pay special attention to those children, we can hit them with that stick you retrieved from Mount Myoboku if they really do try something..."
Tosho immediately started going through a few scenarios, trying to think of the worst possible outcome if Ken did leave for a week or two.
The Blind Assassin himself decided to just silently listen for now.
He didn't need to mention that even with Saburo, there was a chance that one of the children could sneak in some 'extracurricular lessons' and turn themselves into statues.
Tosho was already well aware of that fact. But it was another train of thought that gave the First Blade some further reassurance.
"The more I think about it, the less of an issue I think this becomes.
Lord Ken, you did already mention once that you are alive even if you are turned into a statue, correct?"
Ken nodded at the First Blade's question.
"... That is correct. But it's unlikely the same rules will apply to the children, or you for that matter. All of the toad statues within Mount Myoboku were dead..."
"Yes, but the toad statues were there for years, decades, maybe even centuries... There's no way that a human could live for that long while unable to feed themselves or drink water."
Tosho responded in a rather passionate fashion as the puzzle he was piecing in his head also started becoming clearer for Ken.
"Hmm... So you're thinking that it's possible for someone that turns into a statue to survive..."
Ken started scratching his chin for a bit, also thinking of that possibility. In truth, it did cross his head previously, but he really had no precedent for it. He had no way of making sure.
On one hand, he was the furthest thing from normal, so he couldn't use himself as a reference. What Ken didn't want was to test things out on his pupils.
That was what Jiraiya was for, but outright turning him into a statue and possibly killing him could technically turn into a conflict with the Leaf, so Ken had to refrain from that as well.
"Well, that's most likely the case. But we can't be so sure... At least not until you test it out. I know finding willing test subjects may be hard...
But with your ability, do they really need to be willing? I mean, we do have a basement filled with imprisoned criminals, don't we?"
At that point, Ken just raised his head, scratched his chin and slowly stood up.
"I guess they don't have to be willing participants anyway... I'll just test out a few things on them before going...
Thank you for 'opening my eyes' Tosho. I was too fixated on this..."
Ken then immediately walked towards the basement.
As he did so, the meeting within the War Room was still very much ongoing.
The shadowy figure that appeared in the middle of the room had already calmed everyone down, and they were all back to being seated in their respective spots.
"So, the plan is that simple, huh?" Danzo muttered under his breath as he rubbed his chin with mild interest.
Together, the people in that room could rise up a force of around 3000 elite Shinobi, around 6000 Shinobi in total if they also decided to send out some Cannon Fodder.
The plan was very simple.
'Hammer the nail that sticks out.'
An all-out assault on the Dark Brotherhood compound.
Now, for someone who reportedly killed a Jinchuriki in one move, 3000 was nowhere near enough.
But as long as they got some heavy hitters, then they would be fine, at least they'd be able to keep Ken busy while getting rid of his associates.
Of course, that was what the people in the room thought. But the one leading them, the man with the odd eyes and long spiky hair, had other plans.
"The plan is indeed that simple. I know what most of you are thinking... An all-out assault in foreign territory is never a smart way to go about things...
This is why I have already sent some scouts there. They will find the best opportunity for the attack during the following weeks.
Your only task right now is to gather your men and wait for my signal... When you receive it, advance immediately."
The man's deep voice echoed throughout the room. The man's transparent figure shook slightly, causing the man to close his eyes for a second.
"It seems that this meeting will have to be cut short.
Wait for my signal, we will strike at the most opportune time..."
And just like that, the heavy atmosphere in the room was lifted. All of the people present looked at one another, all of them narrowing their eyes through their masks.
'It seems we all have some preparations to make... As much as I don't like working with these people, the Red Dot is too big a potential threat to be ignored...'
And just like that, the stage was set.
And the man that had pulled the strings, the one who 'possessed the strange eyes'. Was currently in a completely different corner of the world.
A weak old man, his back bent by the weight of time, his hair bleached white due to age. His wrinkled face sweated a bit as he swayed to the side unsteadily.
In that instant, another figure rushed towards him, catching him in an instant. A pale-skinned figure with green hair. It just silently helped steady the old man.
At that moment, the old man's eyes transformed from their ring pattern to a simple three-tomoe Sharingan pattern.
The old man panted.
"Keeping up that illusion sure is tough..." He sighed as his companion also laughed a bit.
"Maybe it would've been easier if you kept your eyes... You wouldn't have had to fake them at least." The pale humanoid figure spoke out, slightly chastizing the old man, while also keeping his tone respectful.
"Hmph, I don't expect you of all people to understand my vision. This is necessary, my plans must be seen through to the end.
That 'Red Dot' and his little ragtag group of orphans are nothing more than a momentary nuisance..."
The old man laughed a bit as he allowed himself to be carried over to a bed.
"Of course sir..." The pale humanoid spoke out as he helped the old man lay on that bed.
At that moment, a fleshy tentacle extended from the shadows and connected itself to the old man's abdomen.
'Hmph, we'll see if he is truly worthy enough to be compared to Hashirama...'
Hope you liked the chapter!
Plenty of stuff will happen in the following chapters :)) Stay tuned
Story Shoutout: The Final Desperation
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