The Araikettei clan is one of the many scattered clans found in the world. They are renowned for their swordsmanship and their unique bond with the weapon they carry. The clan posses both a Kekkei Genkai and a Hijutsu. Most of the Araikettei make excellent blacksmiths as well.
''The Blade is your Life companion: cherish it.''
- Yukimura to his son while handing his unchanged katana over.
These words of the founder of the clan were never forgotten and taken as a lifestyle. Once you have gained your blade, it will be part of your life and part of yourself. You are One with your blade, in mind and body. It will be more than a simple extension of your arm, but it will also have your chakra inside of it, as well as part of your mind. Dishonouring your blade - not taking care of it - is the same as treachery in the Araitekkei.
The Araitekkei are not a violent clan by nature. They cherish the sword arts and their blades, but they do not seek out violence. Their first leader and member, after all, was a man of peace and quiet. But they won't shy away from battle nor will they hesitate to execute traitors or enemies of the clan. They believe in clean kills, however. Torturing your enemy or making them unnecessarily suffer is something they despise. It disgusts them and anyone who does so is nothing more but filth.
They do not think themselves above anything or anyone either. Arrogance is not appreciated in general and certainly not approved of either. They might be blade masters, but there will always be someone better than them. And that is something they will never forget and strive harder to catch up with that strength.
- In the beginning
The clan was originally a simple samurai clan that had a very specific art of drawing the sword. They had been born and bred in Tetsu no Kuni, a world without jutsu and shinobi surrounded them, aside from the sparse visitors that came for business or some meeting.
In that world, a young man called Yukimura had been born. And he had always dreamed of joining jutsu and samurai techniques together, to create something even stronger and better than what they had.
But the idea was violently rejected. Samurai, after all, did not mingle with shinobi and would never lower themselves to their level to use something like ninjutsu. The idea in itself was preposterous.
So Yukimura dropped the idea until his late thirties. He became a famous samurai, renown for his unorthodox way of wielding his twin swords. He had gotten a habit of using them to cut everyone so close to the hilt that many wondered why he wouldn't use a short blade. But when confronted about it, he always answered with: "It won't feel right if I ever used another pair of katana than these. It simply won't."
It was after living through the first shinobi war as a mercenary that Yukimura remembered his childhood dream. He had seen many interesting jutsu, but most of all, Bukijutsu among those moves. And it had fired him up, making his mind proceed to create hundreds of techniques and moves...of which he couldn't get a single one to work.
He wasn't trained in continuous chakra use as the shinobi and his body did not know how to bring those moves to work. His blades weren't made for it either.
He broke one of them.
And ever since, he stopped being a samurai.
Yukimura disappeared from the surface of the earth for ten years. He was sighted here and there, but never truly approached again. People thought he had gone mad and lost all reason to fight: a harmless man. ====
The truth was different. While travelling, Yukimura gathered knowledge and trained while using half his broken blade and it's twin. He shaped his body and mind for the ultimate goal: make his body and blade One.
He was forty-two when he reached this goal: his swords had responded to him. He had worked hard, trying to reforge the broken blade. But it had never felt good enough and thus he had started trying to find the best metal combinations for him to use.
And eventually, he had found it. A chakra absorbing metal of his own creation. And when he could reforge his broken blade, the weapon felt once more part of himself.
He slept that night peacefully, a hand upon the two blades, grasping them tightly.
The next morning, Sai and Kai were 'born'. He and his two blades were One, the twin blades having gained part of his consciousness through the night while he unconsciously gave them his chakra while asleep. The twin swords had gained a playful disposition and were eager to fight for him: they were the part of his mind that wished to prove himself as a warrior and that loved facing a strong opponent.
Yukimura had never felt so complete before.
He married shortly after this, a kunoichi from Sunagakure. He brought her home to Tetsu no Kuni, where he hoped to be able to show the results of his work.
Yukimura was rejected from the samurai ranks for having broken taboos and age-long traditions. The man took it with dignity and his head held high. He had no regrets and decided he could care less about their views about him and his work. So he left Tetsu no Kuni and went back to wandering with his wife until he settled down in a far-off civilian country,
- An Heir is born
When his first son was born, Yukimura decided he would try to see if his abilities with Sai and Kai could be transmitted to his children. So he forged another sword, a plain looking katana, with the same metal. And when his son was eight, he offered it to him, saying his most famous words: "Your Blade is your Life companion: cherish it."
His eldest kept a katana as his blade. He became famous for his iaido moves, but with a capricious sword that would always dull the cutting side of the blade. He loved violence too much and the sword kept him in line. But in the end, he refused to listen to it and when the blade broke from too much pressure, the man died with it.
The youngest, however, found himself facing a shrunken sword after finally managing to 'talk' to it. A small knife, a dagger became his most loyal companion. He never became a warrior, instead, becoming a great butcher. He had a family of seven children, who each of them got a blade from their grandfather. Two of them followed their father's footsteps and remained civilians. The five others, however, became warriors, all wielding a different blade. They all moved to other countries, bringing their families and children along with them on their journey, promising to keep up the newly founded traditions of their growing clan.
Meanwhile, Yukimura had grown old. But he felt relief in his spirit, for his work would not be forgotten. And when he was asked to name the clan he had founded, a smile had appeared on his lips. "It was through rough times and determination I could forge Kai back to one piece and keep Sai from becoming dull...Araikettei seems fitting I would think." And the next morning, he was found cold, the same smile on his lips while Sai and Kai were resting on his chest, hands tightly wound around his most loyal companions through his life.
In the Araikettei, there isn't any real hierarchy. Or at least, not for the whole of the clan. It is simply impossible, as it stretches over all the known lands of the shinobi world, including the most remote or non-shinobi ones. Having a centralized leadership would be foolish, as no human would be able to hold a tight leash over its subjects with so many other factors interfering.
Instead, there are a few clan branches that have made their nests in a few countries and become important members of the village in greater numbers. Those branches usually have one type of weapon within their numbers for generations and are known for their unique Hijutsu style.
But even though there are lesser branches, none of them are inferior. Each of them have their strengths and better points. None of them are weaker, none of them are useless, not even those who use the smallest blades in the world, which are, surprisingly, the medical scalpels.
Internally in those branches, there could be a hierarchy, depending on the decision of those who live within it. Usually, they have a Leader, a few elders and your regular members of course. Nothing special, nothing fancy.
- Comming of age
The only important part of the hierarchy the clan has is that of the coming of age ceremony, where a child is officially declared an able member of the clan. Even civilians go through this, even if in the end, they decide to only wear their weapon as decoration.
Once the child has reached the age of eight, they will be given a specially forged sword, made by a unique metal combination only known by the weaponsmiths of the Araikettei. It'll look like a regular katana, held in its scabbard. The child will be asked to channel some of its chakra through the blade. This process can take mere minutes, for others years.
Once the child's chakra has gotten through, the weapon will change to its ideal form and gain the special link there is between the owner and the blade.
The members of the Araikettei have one very unique and particular link with their main weapon: they are One. The weapon is as much part of them as is a hand or a leg. Their link with the weapon is so that they can manipulate it from afar, break it, mold it, shape it to their needs. They cannot reproduce this effect with any other weapon in the world, nor with any other item. This capacity to manipulate a weapon to such extent, in their clan culture, is called 'Zanjutsu', written in kanji as 斬術.
It is a particular style of swordsmanship, which is, of course, possible to be learned outside of the clan, but will never be as effective for one without their blood in their veins.
This Zanjutsu ability is divided into several branches.
The main one, the most famous and common one is that of the Katana.
Other branches have a large variety of weapons, some of them even more often found in some areas of the shinobi world than in others: Kumogakure is known for short swords, while Kirigakure has had a long lineage of trench knife wielders. But all of them, no exception, are blades with sharp edges. They can have any form they want, but they always will have a blade.
The reason why this is a Kekkai Genkai is not only because when they reach the age to gain their own weapon, a part of their consciousness and chakra enters this weapon, modifying it into the perfect blade for it's wielder. Adding to that, the weapon gains a sense of an entity. It gains a personality and will act upon this through several actions; bending themselves, dulling their blade, refusing to act upon the jutsu the user tries to use and so on. Some even say that a few members of the clan can talk to the weapon. But those cases are so rare that it is more myth than anything else. Because of this 'personality', it is a tradition that the blade gains a name, to which they will react.
When the weapon is acquired by the young blade wielder, the metal will absorb some of the child's chakra. Because of this, the blade will refuse to work for anyone else but it's owner. The chakra will also function as a link between them. It allows the user to do whichever they wish with the blade, but it comes with a downside. If the blade is broken off the handle, it will only mean one thing for the wielder: death.
The weapon, once transformed, will be called a Life Blade.
Of course, kendō in itself isn't limited to the Araikettei. It is the generic word after all to describe martial arts that include the use of a sword, usually a katana. But the clan, descending from the Samurai, never found a better word to describe their art.
Kendō is the hijutsu that relies upon the Zanjutsu kekkai genkai. As for the Zanjutsu, this is divided by each respective branch of weapon. Some weapons even have more than one set of moves, which can be combined by the most skilled of the clan. The kendō hijutsu are not regular sword swinging techniques, nor simple iaido. They are literally meant to manipulate the weapons and bend them to the user's will. Some will break their weapons, others will duplicate them, elongate them, etc. The only main issue with this hijutsu is that they differ from each region and usually have to be created by the users themselves so they are perfect for their battle style. Siblings and close friends, however, have been known to share moves and styles, becoming some of the most fearsome duos in the Araikettei ranks.
The clan in all is known for its excellent weaponsmiths as well as the special metal blend that is solely known to them. Thanks to it, they can forge the weapons their clan members use to gain their own Life Blade. This metal is made of such strength, that it is almost impossible to be broken, as long the weapon is in the right hands. The metal is not only sturdy but also flexible enough to not to fall to pieces when a too strong hit lands on it. It also drains the user's chakra, but only for the benefit of it being able to get rid of scratches, remaining sharp and repair small chips.