Karubo, Rei, and Konan just exited the Land of Rain and entered the Land of River a day ago.
Rei was at ease. He was out of the Land of Rain! The biggest battlefield in this conflict!
While the Suna battlefield was vast, it was still smaller than the battles in Ame. It has to be noted, Suna was more straightforward as the two armies met and clashed, Suna tried to spread poison while Konoha wanted to rake up the kill count. Tsunade really saved Konoha there as her skills mitigated most of Suna"s offensive when she found the antidote.
Hence, Suna was out of the war already and at most did some guerrilla warfare to chase Konoha-nin out of their territory.
Kumo and Konoha... They didn"t clash much during this war. Kumo was mostly tied up with Kiri in naval warfare. They did attack Konoha but it was more on the hit and run basis. No really big skirmishes happened.
Rei was incredibly surprised at the amount of military knowledge Kurabo, the utterly "normal" and "not-out-of-place" merchant, had. His suspicion of the man only rose. But there they were. The man was willing to part with this knowledge. Both knew that this meant he was meaning well. There was no need to antagonize him over it.
Kiri... they had it best. As the reason for the war was the forceful expansion of territory with force, Kiri as an island didn"t have much surrounding land to force under their rule. Therefore, they only fought with Kumo over some islands in the Kaizoku Sea.
And that led Rei to the last battlefield. Ame.
Konoha versus Iwa. The ninja had no regard for civilians and made Ame their spanking boy. They ran rampant over the ENTIRE country while doing various guerrilla attacks, skirmishes in towns, it was a massacre at its finest. The tactic was foregone due to the hate between the two and the clashes were only intensifying. Medics were in short supply, corpses piled up, and most often than not, the civilians paid for it.
The shinobi were way past the point of caring. Especially the Iwa as Iwa-Kiri-Kumo attacked Uzu at the start of the second shinobi war and thousands of theirs died. Konoha redirected their hate to Iwa and showered it upon innocent Ame. Iwa had insufficient forces so they employed brutal tactics to compensate.
The sole reason the country was standing was Amegakure forces and Hanzo that were looming over Iwa and Konoha in Ame like some shinigami, occasionally killing out entire squads. Shinobi of both countries were understaffed. Simple as that. That was the sole reason why Iwa and Konoha did not raze Ame to the ground yet and employed at least some restraint. But Hanzo was far from a benevolent or even caring ruler. Kurabo told Rei that he was being paid for "providing" a battlefield. He only acted when somebody was acting WAY over the top.
Thankfully, Konoha versus Suna was fought exclusively on Suna territory and for the most part, it was over so the Land of River was quite peaceful. And damn, the Daimyo of the Land of River had to pay a lot of Ryo for that too.
It was evening and the party sat around the fire as they cooked a few rabbits.
"Karubo, I think it is time to tell us your "big secret", don"t you agree?" Konan asked impassively as she played with a paper crane. A paper crane that suddenly gained a bluish hue as she said it.
She is way past amused and entered an annoyed mode... Rei mused inwardly.
He was not about to intervene. Karubo should have told them while they were still in Ame but he always had some excuse. Rei just clasped his hands under his chin and listened with a soft innocent smile. Somehow, seeing Konan trying to threaten the man was making her look very s.e.xy to Rei. Plus they were outta Ame. Karubo was no longer needed to vouch for them on the borders. It was time for him to start speaking.
Karubo shifted nervously as his eyes carefully stayed on the paper crane. He saw how these things shredded people into pieces. He was not about to be the next!
"Ah... understand that this is hard for me too... Hiii"
He stopped when from the ground, papers started to swirl around him and stick to his body. In under two seconds, all but his head was covered by Konan"s paper.
"Ah... understand," She glared at him. "I had enough... Spill or die."
Karubo gulped as he shook under Konan"s killing intent. It was nothing extraordinary but for a civilian? Especially when said civilian recognized he is covered from neck to toes in exploding tags? He started to spill like a broken glass.
"Y-yes! I-I work for Kiri!" He shrieked, making Konan stop.
"Kiri?" Rei joined the conversation.
Karubo started to fervently nod his head.
"I recruit bloodlines and unaffiliated ninjas to join Kiri!"
Rei almost face-faulted. Kiri... recruiting Bloodlines.
"What?" He mumbled, weirded out as it clashed with his knowledge of Kiri.
"Why?" Konan though asked the million Ryo question. Karubo only stumped down as he knew he was not in a position to refuse to answer.
"During the first war, Kiri employed civilian merchants to go through battle-zones. Dangerous work, sure. But it paid well. They were told to recruit Kekkei Genkai Clans or individuals willing to join Kiri. Many of these merchants died by the hand of those they tried to recruit. Hence my hesitation..." He chuckled dryly.
When Konan nodded in calmness and loosened slightly the papers, Karubo released a massive sigh of relief. At the very least, he was not going to die today. He continued the story with his newfound courage.
"The amount of Kekkei Genkai in Kiri doubled during that time. Yuki from Snow country. Hoshigaki from the Kaijuu ocean. Hairan clan from Wind country. Kaguya from the border of the Land of Fang and the Land of Claw. We even managed to get shinobi from as far as Iwa! These merchant recruiters hired by the previous Daimyo rose the shinobi forces of Kiri by ten percent alone! Sure, Kiri had to be careful and screen all of them to discover any spies but in the end? They were stronger for it." He chuckled in good humor.
"Konoha fancies itself heaven for Kekkei Genkai users. Yet, it is Kiri that holds almost twice as many of them as Konoha does. Thirty percent of Kiri forces have some Kekkei Genkai when before this tactic at the start of the first war, not even five percent did and the clans were sparse."
Rei nodded. He somewhat understood where his understanding failed him. Kiri will hate Kekkei Genkai. In the future. But now? They adored and coveted them, it seemed.
It was always suspicious how Kiri, an isolated island nation, had so many of them compared to the other, bigger lands, that they were able to actually have a civil war against them. It was also suspicious that Kekkei Genkai Holders and their forces won the civil war. Realistically, by looking at the numbers, that was utterly impossible! Most of the shinobi since the forming of Shinobi villages were, after all, civilians born. The clans just DID NOT have enough people to win. Even if some non-clan shinobi joined them... most would not. They were paid by the village, after all. Why would they join resistance when it would mean giving up their job, family, etc?
"I joined because of my father." Karubo pulled Rei out of his reverie. "He was the man who was solely responsible for forming the Terumi clan! Haha! He was assigned to Iwa and managed to smuggle a Lava user from there. She was called Rumi." Karubo fondly reminisced. "As they were on their way to Kiri, they passed the Land of Hotsprings and managed to convince a family of three to come with them. They had Boil Release." He shook his head. "My father was one lucky fella, I tell you! Anyway, Rumi fell in love with the boy from the family and they decided to create a clan together. And so, Tero and Rumi created the Terumi clan. It"s so cringy!" Karubo laughed boisterously as any nervousness fell from him.
Konan just rolled her eyes with a chuckle at the man as she removed the paper from him and looked at Rei to decide what to do.
Rei didn"t have to think much. He only had to make sure, he and Konan would be far, far away from Kiri by the time Obito decided to f.u.c.k things up.
"We will join Kiri." He nodded, making Karubo gleeful.
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