Art of the Ninja: Earth
Growing up ninja in a modern world with ancient customs is difficult, but the Japanese government still has need of them. Training in the Chaio village, home of the best ninja, Duncan Kimura dreams of one day being chosen for the elite special forces–the Black Dragon Squad. But his dreams won’t become a reality if he can’t control his destructive rage that threatens everyone around him.
Turmoil threatens to tip Duncan’s balanced world; rivalries, disputes with other teens, competition, and a beautiful kunoichi–a female ninja. The plague of emotions fuels his anger and an entity hidden deep inside him threatens to surface–it wants out.
The Chaio ninja are guardians of secret ancient artifacts that are of great interest to a mysterious foreigner who employs the help of a rival clan, the Shimoshuki, to steal them.
Only one ninja–a kunoichi–takes the mission, and she wants Duncan’s power for her own. She infiltrates the Chaio village alone and secretly threatens everyone close to Duncan. If he tells anyone about her, she vows to kill them. In return she wants his power and the secrets of the Chaio village.
Faced with a foe unlike any other, Duncan must overcome his own fears and the raging anger bursting within him to save the woman he loves from certain death. Follow him through his trials and challenges as he will either lose himself to his rage and become a threat to all he knows and loves, or triumph and become the ninja his people expect of him.
Hikaru had sunk to one knee, holding a hand over the gash across his chest as blood continued to ooze between his fingers. He was losing too much blood. I grabbed his right arm and flung it over my shoulder.
“Hikaru. Stand,” I ordered.
“Dude, that was about fifty guys you just laid out,” he drunkenly smirked.
“Get up, Hikaru. I need you to walk. We have to get out of here.” I urged.
“That was so awesome,” Hikaru muttered, then tried to laugh, only to wince and clutch his gi.
Distant shouts set my senses on edge and I knew we didn’t have a lot of time to make our escape before more Shimoshuki surrounded us.
“On your feet, Shinobi!” I shouted at Hikaru, jostling him a little, “Now! Get up and move!”
Hikaru raised his head and sobered at the sound of an angry order. He instantly stood and took a few steps.
“Move, Hikaru, move!”
The next thing I knew he was running next to me, and the more we ran the more his head seemed to clear.
“They’re gonna be on us in no time,” he gasped, “Just go on. Forget about me.”
I didn’t reply. Instead I practically picked him up and bolted through the trees while entering the clearing that separated the forest. The strength I’d felt earlier surged again into my tired muscles and I knew once we crossed the clearing, the border between our clans, they wouldn’t follow. If only I could stop their pursuit. Yelling and shouting drew closer. They were only a matter of several feet away, right at the tree line. At only a fourth of the way across the clearing, I stopped, dropped Hikaru to the ground and rounded on the enemy. My eye caught something in the trees. There, off to the left, high in a tree and away from the clamoring group of men, was the kunoichi. She just stood there, watching. Her presence piqued my curiosity, but I couldn’t worry about her now. I had to buy us some time.
If only I could stop them. How? I thought.
You know…the voice cooed again, do it. Whatever you think of.
“I want them to stop,” I said out loud and held out both hands as if to hold back the approaching ninja. Instantly a strong gust of wind blew up around me, whipping my hair, gi and the tall grass into a frenzy of motion. The energy rush was staggering and I wasn’t sure what happened next. I equated it to a blackout because moments later I had Hikaru flung on my back and was bolting for the Chaio clan tree line with incredible speed. I cast a glance over my shoulder to see a pile of ancient trees lying on the ground and Shimoshuki ninja trying to get past them.
Did I do that? I wondered silently.
I ran through the trees, zipping around boulders and thorny bushes until I started to tire. I slowed to a walk and realized I wasn’t angry anymore. My mission was accomplished, I had what I wanted, and decided that all the energy I expelled must have drained my anger. I stopped and gently sat Hikaru on an old log.
“You’re still bleeding,” I said pushing back his extremely long hair as it fell forward and stuck in the blood.
“Well, I was lying across your back, so the jostling didn’t help,” Hikaru said with a smile.
“You got a pretty nasty bruise on your face where that guy hit you.”
“You think I can use my battle scars to impress the ladies?” he grinned slyly.
“Yeah, you’re going to be back to your old self in no time,” I breathed a sigh and hoisted him to his feet, while placing his sword in its sheath. “You’re walking. We’re not too far away now.” I flung his arm over my shoulder again as we started off.
“Think Mayumi would like my battle scars?” he said.
I stopped abruptly and looked him in the eye, “Don’t even start, Hikaru, or I’ll take you back and dump your butt right on their doorstep,” I threatened in a very serious tone. For some reason I didn’t tell him about Mayumi and me.
“All right, all right, just yanking your chain,” he said. “But I do want to thank you for saving me.”
“That’s what friends do. That’s what Shinobi do…what we’re trained to do,” I said quietly. A silent communication radiated between us, the kind that said we’re brothers in many different ways and we’ll always be there for each other.
I held a crouched position, sitting as still as a statue, and watched the guards. I dared not move, not even to adjust my footing on the thin ledge, lest the shuffle from my tabi boots draw attention to myself. It would be the kind of attention a young assassin in training didn’t need on a mission. I continued to watch the two guards, noticing the distance they walked from the front door of the house, how many steps they took, and which way they looked before turning around to repeat the process in the other direction. Timing. It was all about timing.
Rain lightly beaded on my bare arms and soaked my black gi. Though we wore our traditional black masks, my shoulder-length hair was still exposed and it hung like a wet curtain around my face. The summer days were warming, but the nights were still cool, the rain even cooler. I shook off a shiver and focused on the task at hand. My attention was drawn to static on my headset, forcing me to move my hand and adjust the tiny earpiece to hear better. It was our sensei watching us through binoculars from the roof of our training area.
“Alright team, let’s see how well you do,” Master Jun quietly said to me and the other two boys I was paired up with. “Your objective is to retrieve the vial and bring it to the base.”
“Do we get a prize or something for doing good?” Shinji smirked, trying to lighten the mood. I couldn’t see him in the dark, but knew he was perched on the opposite side of the house near the fence.
“How about two hundred push-ups?” Master Jun spat.
“Sucks to be you,” Masakazu sniggered quietly from his position on the roof.
“Three hundred for you, Masa!”
Our sensei was getting angry, but quickly regained his composure and sighed. “Ready? Go.”
We were being timed. An assassin trained in the ninja arts must learn to get in and out without being noticed, leaving no trace of entrance. From the age of five we’d been training. What we thought were just fun and games were actually preparing us for a life as protectors of our village and country. And though we no longer lived in the feudal era, a ninja, even in twenty-first century Japan, was still a much sought-after commodity. Other governments, as well as our own, sought out our services constantly. Not all of us made the cut for special ops training; most didn’t get past regular taijutsu or weapons classes. For those that fell to the wayside a different career was chosen, but for the teens that excelled, this was our path.
“Duncan,” came our sensei’s voice in my earpiece, “stay calm.”
Stay calm, stay calm, I was so sick of hearing that warning. I knew I had a problem with keeping my temper under control. And it wasn’t simple temper tantrums, it was unusual bursts of anger where I blacked out and my body reacted on its own as if something else had taken control. My sensei watched me like hawks. The constant warnings from them were an everyday occurrence lately and it was becoming annoying. I shook my head slightly and sighed before giving a respectful reply.
“Yes, sir,” was all I could get out, my throat instantly tight.
I rose up from my position, muscles slightly cramped from fighting off the night chills, but they sprung to life as soon as I moved. Using no weapons or climbing apparatus I was to maneuver from my lookout on the ledge, cross the yard and take out the guard positioned at the right of the house. Shinji was to take out the other guard, and Masakazu was to clear the back entrance of servants in the kitchen–our escape route. In a matter of seconds Shinji and I followed through with our tasks, rendering the guards unconscious. Unfortunately I had a bit of trouble; my guard elbowed me in the side several times before I finally hit the pressure point to take him down. Stupid! My hesitation angered me and I could feel my heart pounding hard against my chest.
Stay calm…think, I silently told myself.
My anger had become an issue over the past year. Not only were my sensei worried about it; I was too. I had become unpredictable lately, having anger fits that left many of my fellow Shinobi with broken noses, broken arms, or simply beaten senseless. I had to keep it under control, or my career choice would be changed whether I liked it or not. It was added pressure I didn’t need right now. To stay calm and keep a clear head was the only thing that seemed to help, but that was easier said than done.
Time was running out. Shinji secured the front door, slipped in silently and waved me on to enter the dark house. We couldn’t speak to each other; we could only use our ninja training, eye contact and the silent communication we’d developed over years of working together.
“Switch to night vision,” Master Jun whispered in our ears.
I lifted the small red goggles that hung around my neck and secured them over my eyes. With the press of a button the dark turned red, the furniture and layout of the room visible. All was quiet and no one was in sight. Shinji wanted to search the living area, but I motioned for him to follow me to the bedroom. If the vial was that important the master of the house was sure to keep it close by. Shinji nodded, went to follow, then stubbed his toe on a chair and bumped into a floor lamp.
I paused and glared at him from over my shoulder, but when I turned back around I found a kuni knife an inch from my face. The master of the house had found us out. Time for Plan B.
I grabbed his wrist and twisted, trying to take him to an arm-bar, and forced him to drop the knife. He fought me and broke free, then delivered an elbow strike to the back of my neck. I went down on one knee, rabbit-punched him in the side several times, then tried to flip him to the floor. He was quite skilled and countered my actions, driving a knee into my middle several times before throwing me into the furniture. I was fuming from the stupidity of the situation. The noise had probably woken the whole city by now.
During my struggle, Shinji abandoned me, breaking a rule; then wound up fussing with Masa while scavenging for the vial in the bedroom. The whole mission had been compromised; we looked like idiots, and my anger flared out of control. I stood and faced my opponent. My hair hung in my face and I gritted my teeth.
“Your team failed, Duncan,” Shimo said mockingly. Still playing the part of the keeper of the vial, he stepped closer and got in my face. The taut and well-defined muscles in my arms flexed as I balled my hands into fists. “You guys are such losers. Even with all your special skills you still couldn’t take this from me,” he taunted, shaking the small vial in front of my face.
His comment struck a nerve. The lights came on; I tore off the goggles and glared at him. A low growl escaped my lips and a strong breeze suddenly whipped around my legs and body even though I was inside the house. It was the anger again, an uncontrollable energy that enveloped me whenever I lost control. I couldn’t think straight and that’s when I knew I couldn’t stop it.
I grabbed Shimo by the neck and flung him to the floor, hard. I heard a soft crack as a gasp escaped his lips. He moaned and tried to get up, but I was on him. Not thinking, only acting, swiftly and viciously I laid into him, throwing kicks and punches in a whirlwind of motion. The vial dropped out of his hand and skittered across the floor. I wasn’t sure what happened next, I must’ve blacked out, for the next thing I knew, Shinji, Masa and five other Shinobi were restraining me, shouting for me to stop.
Breathing hard in a fit of sudden panic, I found myself trying to desperately stop my limbs from fighting my training teammates. I looked at them, dazed and confused, then cast a glance at the bloody Shinobi lying on the floor.
“Shimo…I didn’t…mean to…” my words trailed off, I was shocked at what I had done.
Master Jun rushed up to me and backhanded me across the face. I was shocked at his actions; he’d never done that to me before. This time I knew I deserved it.
“What’s wrong with you?” he shouted, only inches from my face.
“Sensei, I-I…” there was no excuse and I just stopped trying to explain and looked away.
One by one the guys holding me let go as they felt my body relax. I was calm once again, but the pain I felt deep inside due to my uncontrollable actions tore me apart. I was doomed this time.
“Duncan, this is a training exercise,” Master Jun lectured, “If you can’t keep control during training how will Captain Yoshida be able to trust you on a real mission? You’ll never get accepted into the Black Dragons like this!”
I lowered my head and looked at the floor. Being part of our elite Special Forces squad was all I had ever hoped for. It was what I had been working towards all my life, to carry on my family’s legacy, our shadow legacy, and now it might be pulled out from under me before I had completed my training.
“This cannot continue! Look at Shimo!” he pointed at the young Shinobi now being hoisted onto a stretcher by a medical team. “He was only playing his role in this exercise. He was supposed to resist your entrance. And you two,” he now rounded on Shinji and Masa, who stood close by. They quickly snapped to attention and took his verbal abuse, “bumbling fools! You’ll repeat this exercise until you can get it right!”
“Yes, sir!” they chorused, then relaxed when our sensei turned back to me.
“I’ll have to report this,” he said sternly, his chiseled facial features hard, but his eyes soft. “Your uncle will not be pleased.” He paused and blew out a troubled breath, and then steered me away from the others, walking me to the front door of the training building. “Look, Duncan, I don’t know what’s going on with you, but something must be done. We can’t have you turning on your fellow Shinobi, not in training and not on a real mission. You’re a most exceptional ninja, a prodigy that comes along once in a lifetime. I’d hate to see all your hard work go to waste.” He walked away from me shaking his head in disappointment.
My teammates skirted around me, obviously afraid of me. The idea of such a thing ripped at my guts and I suddenly felt so alone. Maybe they had a right to be afraid. Maybe I was some kind of freak, a crazed animal deep inside. I suddenly considered running away so I wouldn’t hurt anyone else, but what good would that do? It wouldn’t solve my problem. If I did run away I would never have a chance to join the Black Dragons, just like my father. Well, at the rate I was going I wouldn’t even have a chance to finish my training. I was sixteen, almost seventeen, and only had two more years of training to go before I would try out for the team. Would Captain Yoshida even consider me? If I didn’t make the cut what else would I do with my life? I sighed and leaned heavily on the doorjamb with my forearm, resting my face in the crook of my arm. I was at a crossroads in life and I didn’t know which way to turn. The weight of my troubles bore down on me, smothering me, suffocating any hopes, pride or dreams.
Releasing another deep sigh I stepped out into the night air, allowing the drizzle of rain to wash over me, welcoming the coolness that had so recently chilled me. I stood there listening to the night creatures as my training team cleared the area, leaving me alone with my thoughts and anticipation of the next day’s horrors.
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Copyright © 2003 - 2011 Silver Leaf Books, LLC. All rights reserved.
Company Information Order Options Booksellers Careers Charity Programs
Copyright © 2003 - 2012 Silver Leaf Books, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Copyright © 2003 - 2015 Silver Leaf Books, LLC. All rights reserved.
Review by: Ninfa Hayes, Bookaholics Book Club
T. J. Perkins has a flare for writing stories with young heroes and heroines battling to become adults in strange and fantastic worlds. Art of the Ninja-Earth is no different and doesn't disappoint.
A modern tale with an ancient and mysterious flavour, Art of the Ninja is set in today's Japan and tells the story of Duncan, a Ninja in training in the Chaio village, whose world is about to be turned upside down.
Full of adventure, romance and wonderful imagery, the story is easy to read and will capture both YA and Adult audiences.
Ancient artifacts, masters of the Ninja Art, dangerous situations and a secret that threatens to destroy Duncan and everyone he loves, Art of the Ninja has it all and you won't be able to put it down!
I personally love Manga and Anime, and it's obvious T.J. Perkins put a lot of research into Art of the Ninja as it reads pretty much like a good Manga, so if you're a fan of the genre, this is a definite must read for you :)
I really enjoyed it and recommend it to anyone who loves Japanese tradition and a good adventure book.
Review by jadou812, Amazon
Action with some twists
I won't get into a plot summary or spill any spoilers, but I will say that T.J. Perkin's book, "Art of the Ninja - Earth (Shadow Legacy)" is a book filled with action that contains a few twists that will leave the reader guessing what will happen next. Right from the prologue you're thrown into the action, and it makes you wonder what more mysteries will be revealed in the latter portions of the book. Don't get me wrong, there are also some tender moments to show that this isn't just a book about ninja combat and training , they are still human after all. I believe this book has a nice balance between martial arts, family and friend issues, love, and the loyalty to community and clan. If you are looking for a very accessible, entertaining read, look no further than "Art of the Ninja - Earth (Shadow Legacy)".
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Copyright © 2003 - 2016 Silver Leaf Books, LLC. All rights reserved.