It was not difficult to read the excitement on his student's face, even in the hazy world of Kakuriyo.
"Sensei, what was that?! Where are we?"
Shingen asked as he leapt to his feet. Kyōsuke knew that even a simple, direct answer would be difficult to deliver to the boy in any sort of timely manner. The best way to explain it would be to show him. Kyōsuke looked about them, searching for the woman he expected to be waiting for them, having visited with her last night in his dreams. Myōnichi, in her human garb, stood at the stoop of one of the doors around the courtyard, looking over the two of them.
"I don't think you'll teach him anything from over there, Myōnichi,"
the Kazekage called, partially in jest, "especially given the boy's predilection for learning best with first-hand experience."
Myōnichi, for her part, remained silent. She was taller than the boy, but only slightly, as slender as an arrow but mostly hidden beneath a large blue jūnihitoe, had fiercely-piercing eyes like ice, and had an imperious aura about her. When she moved toward the two of them, stepping down from the stoop, she seemed to walk as Kyōsuke did; striding sharply and quickly, as if she would lunge were she able, her hair—long ghostly black silk—streamed behind her as if it were lighter than air. Kyōsuke, unlike Shingen, knew that it was very well possible within Kakuriyo that her hair was
in fact lighter than the air around them. Myōnichi came to a halt between the two, appearing to ignore Kyōsuke entirely, directly in front of Shingen. She remained quiet as she visibly looked him up and down.
"This one? He's so—"
"He is my student. If that doesn't tell you all that you need to know about the kind of person that he is, or what he can take, then coming here will have been a waste of time."
Though his words bit, Kyōsuke's face, as ever remained almost entirely impassive. Myōnichi likewise seemed unfased. Her eyes, if the boy could read them through the haze, were flushed with doubt. All the same, she stepped back from between the two. "Shingen, this is Myōnichi. She will help me in instructing you. She is my peer, and you shall treat her as such. She is a master of an ancient style practiced by her kind. You shall address her as such. She was once shishō to me, and so now shall she be to you. I was once her jikideshi. So now shall you be to her. Steel yourself, Shingen, for Nanbyakudō can only take you so far on its own."
Kyōsuke stepped back as he finished, drawing himself back into the posture that he had spent years of time in practice for. The act brought out from him all of the memories of his own time being conditioned day and night—if the celestial cycle could truly be used to measure time in Kakuriyo—in order to begin to master even the most basic of steps in the mastery of the styles of the kitsune.
As little more than a boy himself really, before he had become a jōnin, the kitsune had come to him in his dreams. Where most would react to a spirit speaking to them as they slept with fear or wonder, Kyōsuke's cynical attitude left his association with the kitsune as what seemed to him to be some kind of recurring nightmare whose origins he could not pin down. It took a large amount of emotional and physical strain in the waking world for him to relent to the requests from the world he found in the night. In the strange haven he found with Kakuriyo, he also discovered great power and wisdom in those who inhabited it.
Mastering Okiru was a process almost completely alien to mastering other Katon techniques, for Kyōsuke. Chakra control, though an important concept to grasp when moulding and outputting chakra through the breath as with a great many Katon techniques, is practically impossible to grasp in its full depth while adherent exclusively to the tradition of common techniques. In order to accomplish the ridiculous feat of familiarity with chakra control so as to make the flow of chakra exuded across a vast majority of the body's surface area something controllable as if second nature, Kyōsuke had to receive practically countless hours of instruction from a number of instructors on how to best conceptualise the process.
The process of mastering the style of combat suited to Okiru's use was yet more difficult, being completely counter-intuitive for someone used to the taijutsu of shinobi. It required not only that one master stances, styles of movement, and a fine control over Okiru in a practical setting, but also an intimate understanding of several, in some cases incompatible, states of mind to be assumed when switching from one form to another.
He knew that Shingen would be able to learn the art to the technique much more easily than he had. The difficulty in their lesson would be in showing his student how to use the technique once he grew able to regularly control it.
"—or would you rather that I show him, Kyōsuke?"
Myōnichi asked, sounding impatient. Kyōsuke's eyes, refocusing, drew over to where she had moved to. He had evidently lost track of his thoughts while she had been speaking.
"As you will. Shingen, step back,"
his left hand raised, pointing to a line in the stone visible through the thin layer of snow, "she will start slowly. Keep your distance when you begin, or you will regret it."
All the while as he spoke, he kept his eyes locked with Myōnichi's. "To answer your question, Shingen, we tread atop the stones of a courtyard of spirits, amidst a world of spirits, made ourselves of our spirits. Those to whom I am bound are called kitsune, and with their help I shall instruct you in an art passed between them for aeons. The purpose of this lesson is something for you to meditate on."
As Shingen made his way to one side of the courtyard, the kitsune made her way to the opposite, kimono trailing as she walked. Turning to face him once more, she awaited the command to initiate her demonstration.
[Techniques trained: Okiru