Chapter 126: The Sage, Departure and Intel
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__________ POV Narration __________ 

Jiraiya sat down in a meditative position in the middle of a clearing.

He sat on a large rock somewhat close to the hallowed out trunk of the tree he had decided to rest in. 

He tried his best to sense the Nature Energy around him, he wasn't trying to draw it into him but to control it.

He was failing miserably, as Narture Energy, much like Charka, was almost impossible to control while outside of the body. 

A regular sage could infuse their attacks and Jutsu with Nature Energy, but they couldn't actually manipulate the Nature Energy outside of their body.

Ken seemed to be the only exception to that rule, and now Jiraiya was also doing his best to break out of the mould in some way. 

But he was unfortunately banging his head on a wall by trying to replicate his 'barely human' Senjutsu coach.

In the first place, it was awfully arrogant of him to even bother trying. He wasn't even considered a 'Perfect Sage' by the standards of the Toads yet. 

It would take a miracle for him to be able to replicate even a small percentage of Ken's mastery and control.

It was never a fair contest anyway, Ken had been manipulating Nature Energy all of his life, constantly. Almost 14 years of constant Nature Energy manipulation. 

They were living in different worlds entirely.

'Maybe I'll be able to do it in the future... Who knows, as long as I keep studying under him, everything might just work out...' 

The Sannin had a long road ahead of him. Unfortunately, it wasn't going to be a straight road...

But for now, the fledgeling Sage could feel progress right up ahead. And all of a sudden, he no longer felt like stopping.

Instead of just observing the Energy around him, he started drawing it in. His mind entered a zone, one in which his focus was entirely directed to that Nature Energy.

And slowly, he gathered it, with practised ease, he felt his body slightly shifting, growing stronger as it absorbed that energy. 

He had finally done it! The first time in his life that he had reached that state unaided by others! 

In the past, he had a lot of issues attracting the Nature Energy, but now it all seemed to flow naturally. It was the first time in his life that Jiraiya felt that powerful, it was a feeling so strong that it could get someone drunk. 

Excitement overtook him for one moment, and it all came crashing down...

He felt the energy within his body go wild and like many times before, the Nature Energy from all around him rushed into his body, just like before, uncontrollably.

Even though he wasn't using any Toad Oil, the Nature Energy from around him seemed to be attracted by the Energy in his body... 

Too much, far too much for him to control. But if he moved and broke his concentration, then the balance would shift, and he'd surely become a statue...

Worst part? There was no one there to help him. 

In those few seconds that he struggled, Jiraiya couldn't help but curse at his own stupidity. Ma and Pa had warned him endlessly that he was to not practice on his own, that he was not yet prepared... 

In that instant, just as he felt his body transforming and gaining frog-like features, a large hand grabbed his head and gripped tight, taking away his breath instantly.

The Sannin opened his eyes in shock, he looked at the figure in front of him through the gaps between his fingers.

A tall man with an arm that was bludging with muscles, covered in scales, a palm that was as large as half of the Sannin's head, fingers wrapped around his head.

It was obviously Ken or the Red Dot. The child that just so happened to be his current Teacher in Senjutsu. 

Just as quickly, Jiraiya could feel the Nature Energy within him get snatched away unceremoniously. 

He felt that large hand let go and immediately rolled backwards a few times, taking a few deep breaths and clutching at his chest for a few seconds.

"I'd appreciate it if you don't try to kill yourself in the future... You're not yet ready to enter Sage Mode by yourself, especially not in this area." His teacher's voice sounded out in that small patch of forest. 

"T-thanks... But what's wrong with this place?!? I've never been able to attract that much Nature Energy by myself before..." Jiraiya muttered as he tried to get a better grasp of the situation and his surroundings. 

"This place and all areas surrounding it are marred.

The Nature Energy is very different from the one on Mount Myoboku or other areas, it's due to it being filtered through me for a long period of time. 

It's easy to attract and hard to control for others that aren't me, or at least that seems to be the case. You're lucky I always pay attention to my surroundings... And that I rarely sleep." 

Ken shook his transformed arm and it turned back into the arm of a human without much issue. 

The Blind Assassin then cracked his neck and sighed, allowing the Sannin to take in his previous words.

"I-I guess I should've expected something like this to happen, nothing about you or around you will ever be normal, I guess..." Jiraiya laughed a bit as he slowly stood up, finally regaining his bearings.

In his mind, he was also considering the Blind Assassin's last sentence.

'He rarely sleeps, huh? Is that why he's that much more mature than someone his age should be? Even then it's pretty odd to consider... Sleep is rather essential for a human to function properly...' 

Although the world they lived in had yet to study the medical benefits of healthy sleep, they still had some basic understanding of the concept.

Well, their understanding came from a rather obvious place...

Namely, sleep deprivation was oftentimes used as a tool to torture prisoners to help get information out of them. 

Jiraiya had seen it with his own two eyes, how someone who hadn't slept in around 7 days. The man was already showing signs of going crazy.

So he had a good example of how lack of sleep could look in someone. But no one had bothered to look into the benefits of getting enough sleep. 

The Sannin's thoughts wandered for a second or two, as he blinked and wobbled a bit, slightly dizzy from the sudden lack of strength in his body.

He had just experienced the strength one would have as a perfect sage after all. But it was stripped away in an instant when Ken touched him, leaving him feeling feeble. 

"Now that we've got that out of the way..." Ken clapped his hands, breaking the Sannin out of his mindscape and bringing him back to the real world.

"Yes, sorry for going behind your back and trying this. It could've ended real bad..." Jiraiya only now realised just how badly he had screwed up.

He hadn't just endangered himself, but also Ken's relationship with both the Toads and the Leaf Village.

After all, if Jiraiya was to die while under Ken's tutelage, it wouldn't end well for the Blind Assassin at all, and he'd surely get blamed for it.

"Let's not dwell on it too much... But never do that again, summon Ma and Pa at the very least next time." 

Thankfully for Jiraiya, Ken was willing to forgive and forget. 

"Sure thing teach!" The Sannin then eyed Ken suspiciously before crouching down. "Is something the matter? It seems like something is on your mind..."

It wasn't hard for the Sannin to notice that Ken had something to say. Even if he hadn't spent that many days near Ken, he was good at reading people.

"A lot is about to happen within the Brotherhood, and it seems that we will have to postpone our Senjutsu Lessons." Ken crossed his arms and also sat down in front of Jiraiya.

"That's... Kinda vague. I'm assuming it's an internal affair then." The Sannin sweated a bit as he scratched the back of his head.

"I guess you could call it that. I have to leave the compound very soon to meet a potential future ally." 

The Blind Monster sighed as he spoke, his head turning slightly as he seemed to tilt his head to the side.

Ken smiled silently as he felt their little spy arriving on the scene and listening in on their conversation. 

'It's awfully bold of him to come so close... Do they not know that I am a great sensor? Or, I guess they are just confident in their abilities...' 

"Oh, I get it then. I can stick around in that case, I don't have much to do back in the Leaf, things have been strangely silent with the War lately..." Jiraiya just shrugged, he wasn't against spending a few weeks in the wilderness. 

Hell, he could even spend that time with Ma and Pa, continuing his training from before. 

"Well, you can certainly do that... But I have a task for you." 

Ken's hand reached into his coat, and with a sleight of hand, he took out a small scroll.

"I have a message for Lord Hokage... I want you to personally deliver it." 

Jiraiya blinked a few times and held out an open palm. Ken placed the scroll there unceremoniously and grabbed the Sannin's wrist tightly.

"You seem like a kind man, Jiraiya, a bit perverted, but kind... You can open it... But only when you are halfway through your journey to Konoha." 

Those strange instructions made Jiraiya blink a few times. He was certainly curious, but at the same time, he also realised that he wouldn't get any answers from Ken regarding the scroll's contents.

So, he just nodded and decided to set out... Right away.

"Well, I'm rested enough, I guess I'll go back and see how my little students are doing, and deliver your message of course." Jiraiya grasped the scroll and slipped it into his sleeve as Ken let go of his wrist and backed away. 

Jiraiya then rolled his shoulder and turned around, heading for Konoha right away.

"Of course, we shall meet again after a while. Who knows, I may come to you myself. Safe travels, Jiraiya." Ken gave the Sannin one last smile and waved at his back.

"Same to you, Ken" The Sannin turned around and waved as well with a large and toothy smile on his face. After that, the fledgeling Sage took off like the wind, using the Body Flicker technique. 

At that point, Ken simply cracked his neck one last time... And also took off into the forest, away from the brotherhood. 

A few seconds after that, the White Zetsu that was watching also smiled.

'So he really did take off, huh? I guess our new intel provider is the real deal, that Grass Village nobody sure is pulling his weight... Better report this back to Madara.'

The humanoid creature gave one last smile towards the direction that Ken had left, before slipping into the ground.

'Hehe... He's sure to receive a warm welcome when he comes back...' 

__________________________________________________________________

Hope you liked the chapter!

Had a pretty wild week, I'm still healthy thankfully, but winter came and hit me hard with a cold to fuck me over. I'm all good tho, grabbed sum pills and will get better. 

Story Shoutout(if you have any suggestions for a story feel free to dm me or leave a comment , haven't had time to read much lately) : The Final Desperation

Discord, again: https://discord.gg/xQTK8caFEQ

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