From the very beginning the next Raikage was most likely to be chosen from among the current one’s students. If one was picking based only on sheer power then Shimiko made the most logical choice by a mile at the moment as pound for pound she was easily the strongest of the Thundercats, at least for the moment anyhow. Ryuko might have the potential to gain some ground on her if the priestess could fully unlock Rafaela’s power but she’d been chosen by Nariko who knew nothing in that regard.
That said there was more to being a leader then simply raw power. A kage that was nothing but a blunt instrument might be great during wartime but be disastrous in the long term because they wouldn’t be able to negotiate with other nations properly. That sort of thing would only lead to more resentment and more war, more death and destruction.
Shimiko was far from being that blunt but she was on the more belligerent side. She was practically royalty in a way but had lead a simpler life and wasn’t used to having to hobnob among high society the way Ryuko had been trained to do ever since the priestess had been born.
Conversely Natsuru could hobnob with the best of them but her attitude left a lot to be desired. She was so cold and prickly to others to an extent that was extremely off putting to most strangers. It took a lot to get her to warm up to you and if you weren’t used to her things could go sour quickly. Ryuko still remembered the time she’d come out of the closet to Natsuru and how brutally her friend had handled the situation. To put it bluntly her friend’s tactlessness was nearly legendary.
That and out of the three of them Natusru was by far the weakest having slacked off in her training. It wasn’t a nice thing to say but the bow wielder was simply too weak for the job currently even if she did have the right disposition for it.
As Nariko had explained to her the priestess was the perfect middle ground between them. Strong enough to be a threat to other high class ninja as proven when she’d bested the battle maid during the Jounin tournament, a person that had later gone on to become an interim Hokage for a short time.
She was also kind enough and gentle enough to deal with things with a softer hand when needed while stern and serious enough to use a firm hand when required. With her financial sense that had allowed the village to bring in a truck load of money nearly overnight and her negotiating skills she’d displayed acting as Nariko’s assistant she had both the skill and clout she needed to get the job done.
Honestly it would be harder to find a better qualified candidate in all categories except for the small fact that Ryuko was reluctant to take the job. That was more power and responsibility then she’d ever asked for, ever wished for. Some many people’s lives would be riding on her every decision, just thinking about it was almost enough to make her feel sick.
Part of her wanted to just run away. Leave the village behind and find Nozomi. There was a chance however slim she could take Nozomi into fleeing the elemental nations behind all together. If they went overseas they could go to the home Country of the Rose clan and reclame Ryoko’s ancestral territory for themselves and leave in peace in a place where Nozomi would not be considered a criminal and wouldn’t have to fear being hunted down or prosecuted for her crimes.
While the idea of running had flickered across her mind for a brief moment Ryuko would never entertain it for long. Her sense of responsibility was too strong for that. Nariko had been forced to shoulder all that terrifying responsibility for so many years alone, longer than any other kage in the world. In a time when other villages went though kage’s like people went through shoes she had been a pillar of stability.
It was long since time for someone else to take over and have a turn. Ryuko didn’t need to be the Raikage forever but she couldn’t let them become like the other villages who seemed to switch every few months if not weeks. When she had been chosen by Rafaela she’d wondered why and now she had an answer. It was so she’d have the power she’d need to be a proper Raikage instead of a weak one.
Breathing a sigh of relief at having Shimiko’s blessings she gave her friend a wide grind. Boy was it weird hearing herself be called the Yondaime. Hakkin willing there wouldn’t be a Godaime for a long time to come. Hearing that the negotiations could be done after the coronation was enough for her to frown. Right now more than anything she needed stability between the two churches, if the Jashinist started shit up again she wouldn’t have a choice but to wipe them out this time and while Rafaela would be giddy with glee Ryuko herself didn’t want things to come to that.“Tis not like I haven’t thought of some options to appease her lady Mora but to be frank I’d rather appease you…”
Ryuko said with a long sigh. She’d already had a long talk with the twins when she’d woken up from her coma and knew Mora wouldn’t be part of this world for much longer. With Mora out of the way Shimiko and the twins would be the real power behind the church and she wanted them to be happy with the arrangements Ryuko wanted to make.“To begin for the moment I would like to keep Hot Springs as a neutral buffer zone between us and Konohagakure with you in charge. Your church will be given free reign to expand there while my church focuses on our existing pastures.”
In other words while the Church of Hakkin had expanded greatly into frost and also into snow given the similar climates she was practically giving the Jashinist exclusive access to an entire land all for themselves.“I’d also like to kick off my reign by holding a Jashinist festival as a sign of reconciliation. Admittedly most I know of are a bit on the extreme sidem but surely you must have one that won’t be too off putting to the general populace.”
said Ryuko practically pleading for Shimiko to come up with something that wouldn’t upset the public too much. All those blood rituals they did tended to be more than a bit overwhelming for the uninitiated. “Why are you bending over backwards to please a bunch of sick hedonist? We should just drive them all out of the country to the backwoods where they belong.”
said Rafaela who was beginning to sound more radical by the second. Given the long history between the two churches that was understandable, they’d literally fought more crusades against each other then Ryuko could count. They had occasionally been able to put aside their differences for brief periods of time to work against common enemies but this was the first serious attempt that had ever been made for them to coexist peacefully.“Because we need them.”
Ryuko replied knowing it was the hard and fast truth. Hakkin followers made up a good percentage of the country but Jashinest weren’t too far behind. Simply put, if they were to have another civil war to drive them out, the overall power of the country would suffer greatly.
Even if Ryuko somehow managed to convince them to leave peacefully, which was doubtful losing Shimiko would be a major blow to her battle power. She wasn’t sure she was ready to face Hakkin without her.“Are ye of such little faith?”
asked Rafaela her head tilted in confusion. She couldn’t understand why Ryuko was so reluctant to face their god without having someone from a rival religion on her side. The answer to that too was simple. Ryuko was going to have to fight without Rafaela’s support. Without that she was just an ordinary ninja with no bloodline to speak of.
Frankly she didn’t think she stood a chance by herself. Hakkin must have known that since he’d offered her the chance to bring along a squad with her for her test. If she was going to be allowed to bring up to three people to help her then she was going to grab the strongest she could find.
Ryuko blinked in shock when Shimiko not so subtly said in her own way that maybe she should quit her church. Was her friend trying to convert her? In a way she was being hypocritical to get mad when she’d suggested to the twins that they leave their church after finding out the hinky stuff that the Jashinist had been getting upto during her coma but she couldn’t help but feel a bit offended. Being put into a coma was a trivial price to pay for the blessing she had received. Alas just as she was about to open her mouth to say something that she might later regret they were interrupted by the knock on the door. Shimiko would proceed to open it only to find herself greeted by a pair of very unique individuals.
- Lord Oda Inazuma:
This but with grey hair and being visably older
The first was a young woman who was slightly shorter than even Ryuko. With her black hair she almost looked like she could be the priestess slightly younger biological little sister if it weren’t for her striking red eyes and the lack of the Rose clan’s distinctive colored hair streak they all had. She had an extremely fancy ornamental hair piece in the shape of a flower and ribbon on her head and was wearing an expensive looking red kimono that no commoner could ever hope to afford. All together she gave off an affluent air about her that easily matched Ryuko’s own.
Standing behind her was an older gentleman in his mid to late sixties. With Spikly grey hair and sharp looking red eyes that combined with his small beard to give him a commanding presence. He had the look of a warrior with muscles that were still taunt for his age though he was clearly past his prime. His purple and red overcoat the color of royalty well suited him and he seemed almost like he’d be as much at home on the battlefield as he would be in a throne room.
Neither Ryuko or Shimiko would fail to mistake who this old man was. Even if they had never met him before practically everyone in the country knew his face from the newspapers and books that were taught in school. This was the Daimyo himself Lord Oda Inazuma himself in the flesh.
Ryuko knew the identity of the woman who was with him, but Shimiko was smart enough taht she’d likely figure it out pretty quick. It was well known that there were Three Vestals in the Chuch of Hakkin. One That served the Arch-priest, Lina Abekobe and one that served the Raikage, Ryuko Shizu Von Rose. Which could only mean that the woman with him was the Vestal that served the Daimyo, Megumi Yasuno in all of her explosive glory.“A pleasure to make your acquaintance Mrs. Chinoike but I’m afraid I’m here to speak to my colleague.”
said Megumi as she gave Shimiko a polite courtesy. Ryuko wasn’t sure what she was more flabbergasted by. The fact that her fellow vestal was actually treating a member of the Jashinist church with respect or the fact that she’d referred to Shimiko as MRS which is the pronounce you used for a Married woman.“I’ve heard a frightful rumor that she has designs on the Raikage seat and have come to clear up the confusion. After all this must be a terrible misunderstanding”
said Megumi not sounding like she believed that for a second as she glared daggers over Shimko’s shoulder and directly at Ryuko forcing the Priestess to cring.
Damn for something that was supposed to be top secret news sure traveled fast. Then again Nariko had gone to speak with the Daimyo so it would make sense for Megumi to find out about it at the same time since she rarely left the Lord's side for long periods of time. “I too have some concerns with that arrangement. May we come in?”
asked Lord Inazuma. He could have simply ordered that Shimiko let him in but he was asking her instead as a sign of respect from the head of the land to the leader of one of it’s most prestigious clans.
Ryuko had a feeling that it was going to come to this. Her being a Vestal and Raiakge would give her too much leverage over the Daimyo for her to be taken lightly. The question was would they be able to talk him into letting her take the seat? Ryuko had some big forward looking plans for this country, something a more converative older gentleman like Oda might not be able to easily understand.
Him confronting them like this with just Megumi by his side was a sign of how brave he truly was. He might have been a warrior but that was long in the past. He was fit for his age but he stood no chance against two X-class Shinobi even with Megumi’s assistance. She was a vestal and a capable bodyguard against normal level threats but one look at her was enough for anyone to tell she wasn’t in the same weight class as Ryuko who had transcended normalcy the second she’d fallen into her coma.