*The weight of leadership was a heavy burden to carry but he adapted to it and carried it with honour. Time had past and new scars covered his shell and body , time had taken its toll on the warrior. "My , Son.." Splinter had said, bringing the oldest into a private conversation. Leo had taken a hit that was meant for another brother earlier that evening as they fought topside. The wound was evident but he ignored the pain."You willingly put yourself before others" Splinter points to his wound with his cane. "..but you do not know how to take care of yourself in the process of doing so...my training cannot teach you to fend for yourself.. So I asked Donnie to set up the warp gate to allow you to visit a place where you will learn from an old friend. We will wait three days to turn on the gate so you can return.This place will teach you things I cannot and this world is different, you will learn to take care of yourself, fend for yourself." Splinter poured himself some tea. "You will have a guide to help you...tomorrow you shall depart.." Splinter sat on his knees ending the conversation by drinking some tea and closing his eyes.
The day came sooner then he expected and he began to feel lonely already for his brothers yet he had not left.After breakfast everyone gathered around the portal Donatello activated the machine. "Farewell my son." Splinter spoke kindly. Mikey came in for a hug "Bring me back something cool!" He said excitedly and stepped back. Raphael was leaning on a pillar with his arms crossed;he grunted, probably envious.Donatello waved from the machine giving a thumbs up confident in his brother."Three days " Donatello reminded as Leo entered the new world.
When Leo passed through the gates he felt an un describable sensation. As he entered the new world Leo was blinded by light and hit with a fierce fresh wind. A figure came into sight and he immediately bowed "I am Leonardo"
-Usagi had received a summons from a very old friend, at first he was confused by Master Splinter's request but the rat had explained to him that his son was lost within himself. He had taken the burdens of leadership and responsibility upon himself, dedicating his every waking moment trying to expand his skill, but this had caused him to detach spiritually. He had lost that warrior's spirit that had once guided his step and his blades. Anger had taken hold within him, an anger which caused a great sadness in the rat whenever It reared it's head. The shinobi master had humbly asked the ronin to simply spend some time with his eldest son. To show him
what it was to truly walk the musha shugyo.
The rabbit was unsure of his abilities to sway the young warrior's heart away from a path of self destruction, but he owed his old friend the courtesy of at least trying.
He had walked many miles to the spot where, if the shinobi clan did their end of the task properly, the portal should open. Many hours passed that the ronin simply watched the space between the two large cherry blossom trees, waiting for any indication of the magical portal's appearance. The sun had reached it's apex in the sky before a shimmering pink anomaly formed between the dark trunks. The samurai began brushing himself off as he got to his feet and moved towards the portal. A figure stepped through the gate, mask tails whipping about dramatically in the wind. The turtle turned his direction and bowed deeply. Usagi returned the bow and said, "Greetings warrior. I am Usagi Miyamoto. Come, we have a long way to travel, Leonardo-san."
With that the ronin turned around and began walking away from the portal in the direction of the nearest town, which they should be able to reach the next day if they stayed on track.
*Leonardo knew not to expect the samurai to be human as Splinter had told him stories of Usagi and his dimension previously. At first he had been a little nervous walking through the warp gate but after he scoped his surroundings he felt a little excited. Leo gripped his shoulder bag of essentials after bowing and listened as Usagi spoke. When Usagi turned to lead the way Leo followed behind anxiously. Leo found this world to be beautiful...but he knew not to underestimate it. He watched the back of the Usagi until he realized he himself was practically unclothed and wondered if everyone here wears clothes. That realization caused him a moment of panic and embarrassment. He cleared his throat and asked "Does everyone here wear clothes?" he said in a low voice while nervously rubbing the back of his head. All he wore was; leather elbow, wrist and knee pads a belt and strap that held his blades on his back plus his blue mask and shoulder bag. He packed lightly only bringing medical supplies for an emergency. He would have to survive using his skills and taking what this world had to offer. It was a world much like his but different in so many ways. Leo had many questions for Usagi but he didn't want to bombard him or annoy him so he stayed silent and waited for this world to answer.
-Usagi had turned when he heard the question, having previously noted that the turtle was, in fact, quite naked. "Yes, Leonardo-san. It is cultural standards to wear clothing here. I was under the impression that your nudity was part of a cultural identity, and did not want to offend by suggesting clothing. However, if you would rather avoid social stigma, I am sure that we can acquire you a kimono and hakama."
The ronin pulled his pack off of his back and opened it and pulled a few pieces of fabric from it's depths, handing them over to the shinobi. "My spare hakama should do for now. The kimono I doubt will be able to close properly with your shell, but it will at least be something until we get into town."
*An image of splinter holding his tea cup at home laughing popped into Leonardo's head. He grumbled under his breath and smiled begrudgingly at his fathers tricks. He accepted the bundle of cloth "Thank you..Usagi-san?" He attempted to adapt to the language unsure of the dialect here. Leonardo put the clothes on the ground then reached over his back to take off his weapon's and strap. Carefully laying down his blades Leo picked up the hakama. He opened the clothing looking at it with a confused expression. He mentally scolded himself for not being as informed and felt a little embarrassed to be naked.
-The ronin eyed the turtle as he removed his weapons belt, placing the blades gingerly on the thick green grass. The shinobi seemed at a loss when looking at the skirt-like fabric that made up the hakama. The rabbit approached him, understanding that the process of tying a hakama may be daunting for someone unaccustomed to it. He thought for a moment about the best way to describe tying it, but elected for a visual guide.
The ronin shrugged off his kimono, leaving him in just his obi and hakama, allowing Leo to see how the straps were tied. "Step into that drape like part there and pull it up." He motioned with his fingers along the straps of his own clothing, "These are tied first, like so, then these ones. I know that right now you do not have an undershirt, but the in the next town we should be able to procure an outfit for you that will fit properly. I have a few extra ryo from my last paying job. Definitely enough to get a nice set" He picked his blue kimono back up and slung it around his shoulders as he spoke.
*Leonardo tried his best to imitate the way Usagi's clothing was tied , he threw the cloth over his back and found the loose attire to be quite comfortable. After he dressed himself Leo put his weapons back on over his shell and picked up his shoulder bag. Being in a new world and not knowing much about it left Leo feeling more vulnerable then he had ever felt before. It was a new experience, and he knew it was part of his training...he would have to rely on his guide to show him the ropes. Splinter trusted and spoke highly of the samurai warrior. Leonardo kept that thought in mind but remembered to not rely too heavily on the ronin. "This is fine Usagi-san, you don't have to buy me new clothes.." The turtle said humbly as he patted his own chest. Leo walked beside Usagi "How long will it take to get there?" He asked looking at the rabbit. Leo couldn't help but stare at Usagi's fur, it was flawlessly white and he wanted to touch it. 'Can I touch your ears?' Leonardo questioned himself in his mind 'That sounds like something Mikey would say!' He chided himself and decided to keep that question to himself. Leonardo never seen a being like Usagi before, it was almost surreal to him. Leo noticed Usagi's blades and wanted to observe them more closely. 'Am I culture shocked?' He mentally asked himself while he forced his eyes to look ahead.
-Usagi nodded as he watched the teen put his weapons back over his shoulder and adjust the kimono he wore. The ronin was surprised to find that the article actually fit rather well, regardless of the boy's shell. "I shall make you a bargain, Leonardo-san. In the next town I will purchase you a set of clothing, but we shall also be finding some work while we are there and you can pay me back. It is a half day journey there, we can stay. And work for a day or so and then make the trip back here for your passage home."
He smiled kindly at the turtle and added, "I know that it does not seem much in the way of training, but three days is not much time. However I suspect that I will get to see your blades in use- the roads between here and there are often home to many bandits and brigands. I was set upon once already on my way here to meet you."
*Leonardo wondered what kind of jobs they had available...He nodded in response to Usagi's bargain. "My father told me that your era is one with many feuds...He expects me to learn something from fighting for my life, so I look forward to bandits and brigands , I hope you didn't scare them all off" Leo said as he elbowed Usagi teasing him. "You are correct Usagi-san...but three days here is equivalent to three weeks back in my world." Leonardo explained as he walked beside the samurai. "I could stay longer but I worry about my brothers..." He said softly. Leonardo also worried that the ronin would be strict but found him to be quite polite and rather enjoyed his company.
-When Leonardo elbowed him lightly a rush of anger passed through the ronin. He hated being touched. His personal space was one of his biggest pet peeves and most beings would not get away with that act without, at least, a stern telling off. But the anger manifested itself only as a twitch of whiskers and a raised brow. He would let this youth get away with that once, mostly because he did not want a telling off to be the boy's first impression of him and his world.
The samurai cleared his throat and responded, "As I understand it, you play a vital role in the dynamic of your clan. I am sure that they will miss you for those three weeks, however I am also quite confident that your father will keep them safe from harm.
*Leonardo sighed in relief taking comfort in Usagi's words. "Correct again!..I can't doubt my Father and I should be here in the now, like worrying about where we will sleep tonight " Leo said sombrely as he looked out into the path ahead. He shook his head vigorously trying to rid his thoughts and focused on himself and his surroundings. Taking a big inhale and exhale he became emotionally detached unburdened by his usual worries. He listened to the sounds of nature and his steps became a rhythm that matched his heart. It so felt bizarre to be so free of responsibility so abruptly.Yesterday night I was uneasy and awake, my father sensed my distress and entered the dojo where I was meditating.'It will be three days in his realm, but to us here at home time will have tripled. Life in Usagi's world is as fierce as his swordsmanship...even I a master shinobi had to be on constant alert, Is it not natural for a father to fear for his sons life?' 'Fear is something to be conquered and controlled' I said bitterly. Splinters tail twitched on the floor indicating agitation I tense up forgetting to be more reserved. 'I trust my friend will surely teach you the lessons that I cannot' He said smiling leaving me alone.
-The ronin let out a chuckle and replied to the somber teen, "I would not worry about where we are going to sleep tonight, Leonardo-san. We shall find a suitable place, I assure you. Whether it be an inn or a soft piece of Earth, we shall make due."
Usagi took a deep breath, letting the scent of cherry blossoms and dirt fill his lungs. "It is far too beautiful a day to worry about such insignificant details."
The samurai stopped as they came to a fork in the road. He knew that to the left was the small town to which he had referred earlier. He looked down the right path, which was one that he had never taken. He turned with a grin to the young shinobi, deciding to let fate take it's course. "Which way would you choose, my friend?"
*Leonardo stopped walking and looked up at the path ahead after Usagi's question. He observed the ground and decided it would be safer to take the road that looks more frequently used. Pointing to the direction Leonardo stated "Left." though he wondered what it would be like to take a road less travelled; Leo suddenly felt conflicted about his answer but stuck with it. He noticed a smile on the ronins face and smiled back. Leonardo thought it would be nice to sleep under the stars, it was a rare opportunity for him. His father spoke of this samurai with the utmost respect, yet here he was standing in front of him. It was almost unbelievable that this rabbit was capable of murder. Leonardo's eyes drifted to Usagi's sheathed blades, he imagined the lives they had taken and shivered. Inside he was curious of his fighting ability and itched for a spar.
-The samurai watched the young warrior contemplate the two paths. There was a glimmer in the shinobi's eye as he looked down the overgrown and wild path. The teen reminded the veteran warrior very much of a younger version of himself, aching for adventure - though desperate to never disappoint those to whom he had sworn fealty. Leo seemed to second guess himself and instead pointed to the well beaten path that lead to town. Usagi chuckled and said, "It would seem that you fear the unknown, Leonardo-san. You find comfort in routine and predictability."
The ronin looked wistfully down the trail he had never taken, wondering briefly what adventure might have found the pair down that trail. Turning back to the teen he said, "Well then, after you, my friend."
*Inside Leonardo irked at Usagi's comment, his smile faded. Leo began to walk and lead the way but near the fork He headed down the right path instead. "Fear is something to be conquered." He said tucking his arms into his sleeves. "Like leaving your comfort zone for example..." Leo said to himself as he walked. Yeah, he was stubborn...something Raphael taught him along the way...but he came here to learn something and so accepted the challenge. Leonardo looked ahead at the feral path he chose with determination.
-As the shinobi set his journey the smile on Usagi's face only got wider. He internally thought to himself that the impulsive and bull headed teen was indeed a kindred spirit, quite akin to himself. This young boy wanted so badly to prove himself and his worth, to earn his badge of honor. The only thing standing in his way was himself. Usagi knew all too well the plight which Leo faced, it was a battle that he often fought in his own way.
Usagi quickly caught up with the turtle and took a deep and contented breath, revelling in the idea of a new adventure. In an almost giddy voice Usagi addressed his companion, "We must be ever on our guard, Leonardo-san. Who knows what dangers could be lurking ahead of us."
*Leonardo looked up at the sky "It should be warm enough to sleep outside tonight, I don't think it will rain...what kind of dangers do you normally run into Usagi-san? "He looks at Usagi "I mean what kind of dangers should I expect?" Leo asked wanting to mentally prepare himself for multiple scenarios. Leonardo felt excited to walk down a mysterious path, he could feel his muscles tremble with a surge of adrenaline he normally got while vigorously fighting. Leonardo rolled his head on along his back and shoulder making cracking noises. He exhaled deeply in an attempt to calm his pulse, slowly he unclenched his teeth and relaxed his jaw. Being here in a new environment without his brothers Leo could focus himself. He began to reflect on himself as they walked, he wondered why his sensai felt the need to send him here...and what was he to learn from Usagi?
-Usagi similarly glanced up at the clear sky. Only a few rather benign looking clouds broke apart the brilliant blue. "I certainly believe that it will be a rather pleasant evening. I doubt that the weather will give us any trouble." He glanced back at Leonardo, giving him a smile and a shrug. "It certainly depends. In these parts there are highwaymen that will set upon travellers. Bandits. Thieves. Shinobi. Truly, anything could be laying in wait. However, I am confident that you and I can face whatever may come."
He watched the terrapin mentally and physically try to relax himself as they walked. He put off an air of tension, obviously this was a being who lived each moment with his guard up. While it was an excellent quality for a leader to be vigilant Usagi knew all too well the stress which Leonardo's level of focus could play on both the body and mind. He hoped that the brief stay on his planet, away from the shinobi's clan war, would help bring some balance to the young warrior.
The path that they had taken seemed to lead deep into the heart of the mountains, their environment was growing more wild and overgrown with each step. The sound of forest creatures skittering about filled the air, like a natural symphony. The ronin took it all in, ever vigilant of his surroundings, but also watching the teen. He was sure that the city-born ninja had seldom seen anything such as this forest and was quite interested to watch each reaction.
*It has been a long walk but a pleasant one at that, the stray path has lead me and Usagi into a mountain shrouded in forest. Leonardo never heard anything so beautiful...the natural sounds emitted by nature had left him awestruck. The ground beneath his feet and even the air he breathed was so different from back home. Leonardo felt sensitive to every noise around him, he spun around to take in the scenery as they ventured deeper into the mountain.
He walked silently keeping in mind of the dangers Usagi had warned him of as to not alert any nearby enemies of their presence. Leonardo became time disoriented because of the lack of light on the forest floor. "This is kinda neat..." Leonardo said to the rabbit, as he was observing a wild flower he had picked up. Rolling the stem between his fingers Leonardo took a sniff of the flower and almost sneezed but quickly covered his face with his hand. Leo threw the flower and noticed it landed by a strange object, coming closer to it Leo discovered a little stone man. The stone sculpture was handmade and looked as if it were preying, it sat along the path that they walked on but was semi hidden by plants.
-As they walked the ronin watched his companion, it seemed that the longer they were on this path the more free Leo began to act. Soon he was even twirling about, trying to not miss anything, just like a child in a shop full of toys or sweets. Usagi noticed the turtle picking up the deep blue flower and smelling it. "It is beautiful. It can only bloom in darkness, such as on the forest floor. They are often seen as a bad omen, but I am not one for superstition."
The ronin followed Leo's line of sight walking forward to examine the sculpture. He used he butt of his wakizashi to push back the plant life that had overgrown the sculpture to better see it. "It looks like some sort of shrine. Keep an eye out for these. If they become more frequent we may stumble upon a temple or something similar."
*Leonardo smiled thoughtfully at what Usagi had just said "That flower is a lot like me in a way...after all I do thrive best in the shadows..." Leonardo kneeled in front of the stone sculpture and spotted the flower he had tossed, it landed below the statue on top of a neat pile of rocks. He picked it back up and looked at it "Though I wouldn't call myself beautiful..." He chuckled and placed the flower back on top of the pile of stones. Suddenly getting an idea Leonardo stood up and walked back to where he had originally found the flower. Coming back to the blue patch he remembered Leo kneeled on the ground and began plucking away. Until he could carry no more Leonardo brought the flowers back to the statue and kneeled before it. "This is my offering." Leonardo explained as he began to neatly place them below the statue with the pile of stones someone else had left. After every flower was neatly placed around the statue Leonardo took a moment to admire his work. Satisfied Leonardo stood up while dusting off his hands, he looked at Usagi with a smile "Thank you Usagi-san...for taking time out of your life to assist my training...I hope that my presence won't be too bothersome for you..." Leonardo bowed deeply to him.
-Usagi smiled kindly at the boy as he compared himself to the deep blue flower. It was true that shinobi were born and bred to operate and thrive in the shadow, but as he looked on at the young boy he saw someone with dignity and honor who could also thrive in the sun. "Each of us are beautiful in our own way, Leonardo-san. Many traits within a person can make them beautiful. You have a kind heart and a good soul. I find that beautiful."
He watched contentedly as Leo went about his work gathering flowers to place at the shrine. The ronin leaned against a tree lazily as the boy worked. He pushed himself out of his leaning position when Leo had finished. Casually moving over to the boy the ronin too admired the beautiful display of flowers. "You need not thank me, Leonardo-san. I know not how much I will be able to impart to you in three short days. But I do hope you take something worth while home with you." The ronin returned the bow and turned to the shrine, offering it a similar bow before turning back toward the forest path.
Before he began walking he pulled out a small package from his pack, unwrapping sweet rice balls. He handed one over to Leo then began walking at a casual pace. Nibbling at the morsel he asked his newfound companion, "Why is it that you are drawn to the path of the shinobi, Leonardo-san? What is it about the shadow that intrigues you?"
*It was so strange to be called beautiful...never has anyone ever used that word to describe Leonardo. In his dimension people would scream at the sight of him, maybe even faint. He couldn't help but feel a little flattered, he blushed but hid his face from view.
When Usagi handed Leo the rice ball he held it in his palm and stood there looking at it for awhile before slowly following behind the ronin. Leonardo lifted the rice ball to his nose and took a sniff before popping the whole thing in his mouth and chewing. Usagi asked him a question but his mouth was full of rice, so he chewed and swallowed quickly and responded.
"I was raised to be this way...in my dimension things are very different...humans are the dominant species, I was forced to live my life in the shadows because of my appearance and condition..I'm a teenage mutant ninja turtle...so me, my brothers and master splinter are different from everyone else, he taught us to protect ourselves." Leo sighed "The path of the shinobi is what has kept me and my family alive and to be honest Usagi-san...I kind of enjoy fighting" Leonardo didn't realize how much he spoke until after he said it, it was unlike him and it surprised him that he had even opened up. A butterfly fluttered into view momentarily distracting him from his thoughts, it left as soon a it came."Maybe you could come visit my dimension for a couple of days..." Leonardo offered. He thought for a moment of the possibilities and they all ended in disaster; He smiled.
-The ronin chuckled as Leo quickly swallowed his food in order to answer him. He would have been fine with waiting for an answer so that the terrapin could enjoy his food, but he found the shinobi's enthusiasm rather endearing. He listened carefully to the boy as he spoke about his upbringing and culture.
He nodded understanding. He had chosen his own path to keep himself and those he cared for safe from harm, as well as a determination to prove himself and show up Kenichi, but he liked to believe that the determination to protect was far more the reason behind his decision.
The ronin watched as the teen was distracted momentarily by a butterfly which fluttered across their path. He smiled kindly at the boy's offer saying, "It would be an honor to see your world, Leonardo-san. I fear however that my understanding of the world may be too rudimentary to fit in on your planet, which I am told is far more advanced technologically." He scratched his chin thoughtfully as he added, "Also... I believe that there is nothing wrong with enjoying fighting, Leonardo-san. Battle is truly one of the most intimate of actions you can engage in with another being. What I think you must be wary of is enjoying inflicting pain rather than the battle itself. It is a fine line however between the two, a blade's edge."
*Leonardo walked quietly along the forest path behind the ronin listening to him as he spoke. "The technology would probably seem almost magical to you." Leo responded; he imagined Usagi trying to get the people out of the t.v.
"The blades edge..." Leonardo repeated under his breath after Usagi mentioned it. He stayed silent following the samurai further into the mysterious woods. Some sun beams broke their way through to the forest floor, illuminating the area dimly. It was still day though because birds flew about creating a natural symphony along with the foreign insects and other critters that scurried about. Leonardo rubbed the fabric he wore, it was torn in some places, weather worn. He was thankful Usagi was kind enough to let him borrow them.
It was silent for a long time...Leonardo was hesitant to speak. Samurai in his world were often strict, he thought perhaps it was similar with Usagi's. Leonardo heard something rustle in the brush behind him and immediately he pointed his blade at the direction of the noise. A little green dinosaur like creature popped his head out of a shrub and made an "EEP!" noise and it's head disappeared back into the shrubbery! Leonardo blinked a couple times before saying to Usagi "Did you see that?!" His expression was one of delight and humour.
-The ronin walked in silence next to the young shinobi. He could sense a vague tension hanging in the air. Leonardo was bound to have a plenty of questions for him. Not only about the strange new world that he was in but also about the strange companion that he had gained.
The ronin heard the turtle unsheath his weapon and spun around to see what had caused the reaction. He chuckled loudly as he heard the tall tale "eep" of a tokage and the rustling of a large bush. He pulled another rice ball from the pack and crouched near the dark green bush. The rabbit made a few friendly clickling sounds, luring the lizard from it's hiding place.
As the dinosaur began eating from the rabbit's hand he quietly said, "This, my friend, is a tokage. They are really quite friendly. Approach slowly so that you do not startle him, but I am sure you can pet him."
*Leonardo put his blade on the ground and slowly walked up to Usagi and the tokage. The creature kept his eyes open watching for any sudden movements while it scarfed down its meal. Leo kneeled by the bush were the tokage took shelter and observed it calmly before reaching out. Each time the critter would stop chewing Leo would stop moving, until Leonardo got close enough to touch it's head. Amazingly it was docile enough to let Leonardo pet him or her before it retreated back into the wild.
Leonardo snorted slightly after the tokage left "A tokage huh?...it was kind of cute...I'm glad it didn't try bite me." Leonardo said looking while looking in the direction the creature left.