Crows in the Shadows: The Method of Treatment
Time for another chapter once again. First of all, I would like to give chakrawizard555 his weekly dose of credit for his editing . Thanks dude! Now, without much further ado...
The ANBU team successfully escaped the forest, the wounded Siko having already fallen unconscious once during their retreat—something which worried Hoji to the point where he was at the helm of the group, striding along with the greatest speed in spite of the additional burden of carrying their injured captain. The team's destination was the inn where they had been residing for the past few days—as per the orders of Shiko who, in his last moments of consciousness, expressed to his subordinates that carrying the wounded body of a Konoha shinobi into the town hospital "would cause the people of Aoran to become restless and thus would be VERY unwise." The captain then commanded Hoji to employ the use of "that method of treatment" before he completely fainted. The medical-nin nodded in acknowledgement of his instructions as they sailed through the trees and towards the town, passing over Kato’s little hut near the main gates without stirring the retired Ame shinobi, moving silent as wraiths.
When they finally arrived at the inn, Mikasa immediately panicked at the sight of Shiko's unconscious body, his clothes torn and blood stained, as well as Itachi and Himura, who were panting severely from overexertion in their battle against Akakuma. She frantically asked why they weren’t taking their comrade to a hospital, Hoji brushing her off by asking her to prepare meals for all of them, as they would soon need the nourishment. The medical-nin then requested to be shown to the largest available room that the inn had to offer.
Mikasa quickly directed the ANBU team to the basement of the establishment. The air was stale, paint chips were crumbling away from the walls, the squeaks of small rodents whispered softly from the darkest corners of the room, and all manner of cartons and boxes—filled with who-knows-what—were piled up against the walls, most of them covered in a thin film of dust. The room was very spacious, however, and several candles were lit to provide better illumination, as the fluorescent lights on the ceiling had been damaged some time ago. Tenzo thanked Mikasa sincerely for her assistance and implored her to make sure no one knew about this—referring to Shiko’s condition. The innkeeper firmly assured them that she would fire any employee who dared to breathe a word of tonight’s incident to anyone.
After her departure, Hoji immediately set to work, extracting and promptly swallowing every soldier pill in his possession before unrolling a scroll of parchment across the floor, from which an extraordinarily large piece of cloth burst forth in a cloud of white smoke. The material was white in color and thick as carpet, measuring about ten meters in length and breadth, and it was covered in very intricate kanji writings drawn inside of a large square. Concentric circles of kanji extended out from the center of the square, stopping at each of its borders, four lines ran from the center to its corners, and a large four-pointed star rested at the very center, also drawn in Kanji—the edges of which extended out just beyond each side of the square—and in front of each of its points was written a single kanji character, which was rather large and flanked on both sides by small tongues of fire that hung in midair. The medical-nin then created three clones who proceeded to spread the thick cloth across the floor before taking their positions, each at one edge of the kanji star, while the real one stood at the last, the flames drifting directly in front of him as they threw their light upon his determined expression.
Up to this point, the rest of the team had been confused by Shiko’s allusion to "that method of treatment", even more mystified by the fact they were now in the inn’s basement. However, all had become clear once they saw the cloth and the technique formula written on it. Hoji handed Shiko's body to Sato, who proceeded towards its center and laid the unconscious Nara there.
“So,” began Tenzo, “you plan to use the Chikatsu Saisei no Jutsu. It’s true that this is probably our best bet for a quick treatment, but the success rate isn’t very high and it’s also quite chakra taxing. Are you sure you can handle it?” the Wood Style ninja asked with a concerned expression on his face.
“Not without help.” replied Hoji, as both him and his clones gathered chakra for the technique, the use of which was known to be a strenuous ordeal. “Sato, if you would be so kind as to transfer your chakra to my clones and I.”
Sato nodded and began weaving some hand seals before placing his hands on Hoji’s back, causing a small web of indecipherable kanji to begin spreading out over the medic’s body. Itachi—who had activated his Sharingan—could see that chakra was now flowing out of Sato and into Hoji.
“This technique is my specialty. I was able to perfect it with my clones, and I daresay, there are few others in Konoha who can claim to have greater skill with it.” explained Hoji, as Sato went about dispersing his chakra into the medical-nin’s doppelgangers. “As for the required chakra, there’s five of us here, so Sato will need to transfer all of your chakra into me in order to use the technique.” he added. The Hyūga in question was now wiping the sweat from his brow, this sudden fatigue brought on by his dreadfully low chakra levels, due to having shared most of his reserves with Hoji. “Once I’ve expended Sato’s chakra and my own, he will transfer all of yours, as well, in order to complete the jutsu.”
“Will it be enough, though?” asked Himura, his brows knitted above his brown eyes, which had a doubtful look about them. “I’ve heard that this technique can take at least eight medical-nin to finish!”
At that moment, Mikasa suddenly appeared, exhausted from having hurried down to them so quickly. With her was a large tray carrying several plates, each stockpiled with food and interspersed with cups of water. “This was all I could scrounge up on such short notice. It’s a bit cold and—”
“It will do.” interrupted Hoji with a warm smile. Mikasa returned the gesture as she caught sight of the elaborate technique formula that had been spread over her basement floor, marveling at its appearance, as well as the fact that there were three duplicates of Hoji standing around it. “Thank you, Mikasa-san. We may need more however, as the night drags on.” Hoji’s words seemed to jolt her out of her little trance and she smiled amiably, setting the tray on the floor before taking her leave.
“You guys will have to eat in order to recover your chakra. After that, you’ll need to transfer it to me for this technique. That’s why the food is here.” said Sato, just as the center of the technique formula began to emit a green light which completely surrounded Shiko’s unconscious form. “Now, let us begin.”
Hoji and his clones sat down on the bare floor and the ritual commenced. What a dull, monotonous time it was! The rest of the team consumed the food Mikasa had provided, while Hoji and his copies remained seated, their hands locked, maintaining the green aura of chakra that was healing their captain’s injuries. Once their teammates had filled their bellies, there was nothing to do but sit and watch the Hoji’s efforts with empty expressions and uninterrupted silence. A full hour passed before the medical-nin indicated that he was feeling the pang of fatigue coming along. His clones soon voiced their complaints, as well, compelling Sato to immediately begin dispersing all of his chakra evenly among them, leaving him barely capable of standing once he was finished. Himura quickly came over to help him back to his seated position, where the Hyūga promptly downed more of his food to restore what he had lost.
When exhaustion reared its ugly head once again after roughly thirty more minutes, Sato—after weaving a few more intricate hand seals—placed one hand on Tenzo’s back and the other on Hoji’s, effectively extracting chakra from the Wood Style ninja and transferring it into the medical-nin before repeating the procedure with Hoji’s clones. This was sufficient to last for a full forty-five minutes, at which point Hoji and his clones were once again depleted, and Sato was called upon to undergo the same trial with Himura. The chakra extracted from the Sarutobi allowed Hoji to continue the ritual for another thirty minutes, then it came time for Itachi to provide his chakra.
The young prodigy was not blessed with stamina as sufficient as that of his comrades, and so the chakra he offered to Hoji only powered the ritual for around twenty minutes. However, the medical-nin remarked that, though small, Itachi’s chakra was very powerful—as expected from a member of the Uchiha clan—and though it couldn’t fuel the healing process for very long, it definitely sped things up due to its remarkable potency, a compliment which conjured up one of Itachi's rare smiles, despite his heavy breathing as a result of being drained of so much chakra.
The entire process carried on by degrees, as Mikasa—whose eyes had become heavy due to a lack of sleep—continued to supply the team with food as they continued to supply Hoji with chakra. After about three-and-a-half hours had passed, the ordeal was finally over, and Shiko’s potentially fatal wounds were a thing of the past. Hoji rose to his feet and recalled the enormous cloth to its seal as Tenzo carried Shiko—who was still unconscious, but nonetheless restored to perfect health—up to their room. Abandoning their troubles for the night, the rest of the exhausted ANBU made their way back upstairs for some well deserved sleep.
To Be Continued.
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