Through ice and fire I'll be there for you.

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by XC, May 10, 2012.

  1. In my dingy apartment flat I scribbled away at a piece of paper, once again going through the list of jutsu I knew, the required handseals and the remaining steps to carry them out. Although written fast, the handwriting remains neat - a special talent of mine that had been the envy of many others back in the academy. Looking back now, the academy still felt like yesterday even though almost three years had passed. I took off the tinted glasses I wore and I put it to one side as I rubbed my tired eyes, taking the chance to rest my tired right hand while I was at it. This exercise sounded silly but it kept me going; it put that bit of routine in my life aside from training and it kept all of my skills and techniques, even those rarely used fresh in my head. You never knew when you would need to use any of them in the future.

    The next few minutes consisted mainly of me finishing up the list, cross-checking it with the master list before I used it for a bit of training. Forming a single rat seal, I channeled my chakra to my mouth which caused the air to combust and I blew out a small spurt of flame that consumed the paper and turned the pieces of paper into black ash that flew away fast enough from the draft that blew in from the window. My eyes moved over to the clock and I noted the time; I was supposed to meet up with Kozue to discuss tactics and all that for the Chuunin Exams. With the war having been over for just a few years we were still quite underpopulated - so the exams had been made to have the people compete in pairs. Fatalities were also made to be kept at a minimum. Jounin watched for everywhere, throughout the forest to make sure no one died.

    Kozue was a Senju and she also was my best friend - we were alike in some ways and different in others. I wasn't as serious about my work as her. She was hardcore, literally. I calmly noted the envelope of cash that the Uchiha had left, unmarked of course, in my post box. At least they kept me alive with a steady cash flow if they weren't going to acknowledge me - more like cast me out and pretend that I didn't exist. I used to think about it a lot, whether I had any half-brothers or sisters or other family that I never got to know but I got over it. If I had to walk life's path alone, so be it. But I didn't need to. I had Kozue.

    A few shortcuts through alleys and winding streets saw me to the Training Grounds at half the time. In the distance, in a training court about two units beside the one I was in I could see some of the Uchiha Genin training with the adults - I recognised them from the academy. I felt a touch of sadness but I brushed it off easily. I didn't need them. Surpassing all of them .. That would be all the revenge I need.

    I drew my sword; it was a rather unorthodox weapon, being more like a thick and heavier sabre. Not to mention straighter. Although it didn't have the swiftness of the katana or the other shinobi blades, mine had true power and raw strength behind it. It suited my fighting style that focused more on dealing with an opponent as fast as possible by using any tricks necessary more. I slashed through the air, going through multiple exercises while I waited for her to show up.
  2. Kozue was meditating in her room, her face showing the calmness she currently felt. Though she practiced this every morning, she focused on her chakra meditation especially today. She needed her chakras strengthened as much as she could get them for she knew today her strength would be tested like never before. Finally, she decided it was time to go to the second part of their Chunin exams. She had already studied as much as she could for this sort of test, she had observed the competition and analyzed who would be a threat, who they should avoid, and who they could easily stand against. Kozue packed her things, her scrolls and ink, kunai, throwing knives that had been freshly sharpened, and other supplies she had gotten ready the night before.

    As she was about to leave her father called out to her. Kozue strolled over and he pulled her into a strong hug. "Your mother would be so proud," he mumbled, as she squirmed awkwardly. She replied with a quick "thank you" and they said their goodbyes as her father wished her luck on her exam. Once she was outside, Kozue took a deep breath before heading out to meet up with her close friend, Rokudenashi. She would tell him the information she had gathered, most of which was from the written exam time in which she observed the way those around her tried to answer the incredibly advanced questions. She herself didn't need to cheat, she already knew how to answer the complicated questions from her studies.

    Kozue finally made it to the training ground, her eyes focused and remained steadily on her old friend while simultaneously looking through her peripherals to see who was there training. She silently observed the way the other teams trained, many of which she recognized from the academy. Casually, she sat herself down a few yards away from where Rokudenashi was practicing with his sabre. Kozue looked up at her friend momentarily before closing her eyes again in meditation. "When you're done, come over here. We have things to discuss," she said matter-of-factly. It didn't seem like she was being very welcoming to him, but she knew Rokudenashi and knew he knew her better than anyone. She hoped that after all this time, he wouldn't still take offense by her tendency to bark things as if they were an order.
  3. The blade cut through the air without a sound with a few casual flicks of my wrist. I was taking a short break first, to rest myself before I started again as I waited for Kozue to arrive. She was sure to have prepared much information, based on how observant and serious she was about the exams this time around. The blade spun around the pivot that was my wrist, and I applied strength only on its way up - I allowed its momentum to do the rest of the job when it went down and even then the blade looked like I was propelling it. That was the danger of this sword; its weight was considerable, so I couldn't use it for too long at a time but when I apply strength in a downward cut, almost no weapon could stand the full force of it

    The rest of my exercises consisted of simple cuts, parries and thrusts. There wasn't anything really fancy I could do with this blade. It wasn't as swift as a ninjato, or kodachi. So I relied on my strength and genjutsu coupled with some dirty tricks and mind games that made me an extremely confusing opponent to fight. While I cut at the air I observed the Uchiha from afar and I grimaced. They looked happy. Truly happy. To be with one's family was a luxury I could not ever experience.

    I only realised that Kozue had arrived one or two minutes later, having been preoccupied by previous dark thoughts about family and my own solitude while I was training. It was an advantage about having such a simple style when it came to blades - you had lesser moves to drill in, so if you put in enough time these basics will become almost instinct.

    Sweat glistened on my skin as I walked over to Kozue, peeling off my coat, the weapons belt draped across my chest and my shirt consecutively before sitting down before her. Although I hadn't trained that strenuously, it was a hot day and the sun was at its zenith in the sky raining heat down upon us. "What a warm welcome, Kozue." I grinned at her for a moment before I took off my tinted glasses too, wiping at my eyes.

    "You're the thinker here. What do you have in mind?" I sat back as I said it, closing my eyes while I smirked, knowing full well that I was on par with her intelligence, except that mine was more inclined towards practical situations.
  4. Kozue silently watched Rokudenashi train in front of her. However, unlike the other genin around her, she didn't analyze his moves (there was no need to after all) but she simply observed how he moved with such power. His sabre really was an extension of his body. When he came over, she smiled, though briefly, at his reply to her greeting and met his eyes before her eyes scanned over the other ninjas training once more.

    "Alright, here's the deal," she said, her tone holding nothing but focus and seriousness. "We're strong, but we're not the strongest. Everyone and anyone can be our enemy, Rokudenashi. So let's try not to make any alliances unless we're desperate. As much as the Uchiha's would be good allies, they would also be our greatest enemies," Kozue said, her penetrating stare momentarily flicking to the Uchiha's currently training and excited for the upcoming exams. She turned her eyes back to her old friend. "We're better off avoiding them until the third part of the Chunin exams. If we do run into them as our enemies, then the best thing we can do is make it so they can't look us in the eye. Then we can't get trapped in their genjutsu. The Uchiha's, as powerful as they are, are overly reliant on their hereditary abilities. A jutsu that creates fog, smoke bombs or traps should make the playing field even so we could stand a chance. Don't even bother hiding though, they'll find you.

    "The Ino-Shika-Cho trio is divided this year because of the pairs which is great for us because not only are they weaker, but they're still powerful allies on their own and can help us if we need it. Meanwhile, the Aburame clan with their bugs will know where we are at all times. Their bugs are no doubt going to be scattered everywhere and provide the pair with a thousand eyes. They're not going to harm us though since they're more interested in attacking ninjas from other villages. They will however, provide vital information and espionage even if they'll ask for something in return.

    "Let's stay away from the Hyugas too. We won't even get away if they get in one good hit. Also, we should borrow the Aburame's tactic and try and attack those genin from other villages like the Sand Village. They're going to be more hostile and it will be more dangerous if we're careless, but they don't know us and our tactics and we have the advantage of fighting on home terrain. They're terribly unfamiliar with the forest, so if we run into them, stick to the trees."

    Kozue fell silent, finally concluding her minor analysis that she had managed to come up with between the end of the first exam and today. She wiped some sweat from her forehead and leaned back and closed her eyes. When she opened them again, she glanced at Rokudenashi from the side of her vision, shielding her eyes from the sun. "This isn't going to be easy," she finally said, before her eyes fell closed and she sighed.
  5. After wiping my eyes free of sweat I had decided against putting the glasses back on. Might even get sweat on them later and that would be a real bitch to clean. Instead, I put them on top of my pile of clothes while I sat cross-legged before Kozue, listening to her go on with her analysis of the enemy teams. Whatever she could glean off them from the theory examinations and her already existent knowledge anyway. I nodded in affirmation when she said that we should avoid allying with the Uchiha - Fuck no. Ally with that clan? Over my cold, dead body. They turned their backs on me, wiped me from their records and think that a monthly supply of money could make up for all of that? Fifteen years of solitude .. That was something no amount of money could alleviate, much less make up for.

    The next few minutes was spent cross-checking my own information to what she had provided, all of it I agreed with. It was in our good fortune that the Ino-Shika-Cho had been broken up due to the exams being conducted in pairs but in a way it was also a disadvantage. The Ino-Shika-Cho of this generation was a bunch of Genin I was on friendly terms with - they could have been a powerful ally, or if they succumbed to their own selfishness, an extremely dangerous enemy.

    I smiled ruefully when Kozue said that it wasn't going to be easy. "That's the challenge, isn't it? Least we know that those who graduate would be the cream of the crop." I shrugged, before I finalized a few more thoughts and began my own assessment of our current situation.

    "At their current level none of the Uchiha can perform the eye Genjutsus you were referring to, so no worries about that. Even if there was someone talented enough, my tinted glasses will reduce their effectiveness until I can counter-attack, anyway. I know a few tricks to defeat the Uchiha and their Sharingan." I nodded in confirmation of my own words - dirty tricks and mind games were my forte. I pulled no punches in a fight, be they sucker punches or proper ones. Chivalry and honour is dead.

    "Can't do much about the Aburame, since my abilities with fire are limited, and Mokuton won't be too effective on them. We'll have to try and run or fight," I paused again, a thought coming into my mind. "Might be able to make something that can help deal with the bugs if it does come to a confrontation." What I had in mind was to make a few more fire-based explosives were the main aim was to spread fire over an area instead of causing a large explosion, which would do little to the bugs if they were spread out unlike what fire can do.

    "I agree with what you say about targeting the Sunagakure ninja, but we must not underestimate them. They aren't exactly good for nothing. Maybe keep an eye out for the ninja from the smaller villages, say Kusa."
  6. Kozue nodded along with Rokudenashi's words, not commenting as to why he knew how to go against an Uchiha's Sharingan or that they were unable to use Genjutsu at their level. Kozue was an observant person after all, she knew there were some things her friend didn't tell her. Many questions that, in her younger days, she was very eager to get answers to -- such as, where was his family? -- but as she grew, she learned it was better not to ask. If Kozue was being honest, she could find out if she really wanted to, but she knew there was a reason why her friend kept certain aspects of his life a secret. Rokudenashi was the one and only part of her life that she felt okay with not knowing everything about.

    Kozue kept track of nearly everything else though. Including, as it seems, the time. It was just about time for them to get their briefing and go into the forest where their exam would continue. As she stood up, she dusted off her black pants of any dirt and began to speak. "Just be sure to be careful with your fire if I'm using a wood release technique. If one of my tree roots catches fire, I'll feel it," she warned. She knew Rokudenashi would never intentionally hurt her, but accidents happen and fire without restraint could be unpredictable.

    "You're right though, smaller villages have less interaction with other ninja outside of missions -- which they couldn't have had many of those since they're genin. They lack experience. And besides," she said with a humorless smirk, "if we lose to a sand village team, there's a good chance we won't live to tell the tale." With that, Kozue stood up completely, checking the blade of her katana before sliding it back on its hilt, and holding her hand up to help her friend up.

    "I know we can do this," she encouraged. "Those teams don't have the closeness that we do. And above our training and our abilities, that is our greatest strength." And, she mentally added as she met her friend's eyes, our greatest weakness.
  7. "Doubt I'll use fire that much. You know I'm not that direct a person," I shrugged at her and grinned sheepishly, admitting my usage of trickery that was undiscriminating when it came to its victims - I'm even willing to trick people on the same side if that was required to get me what I wanted. Its happened before, and it definitely was going to happen again. After all, secret plots aren't exactly secret if too many people know about it, and two people can keep a secret only if one of them is dead. Sure, it didn't help that people stopped trusting you that much afterwards but at least we could get out of those sticky spots alive. Trust doesn't exactly help when you're dead.

    All I did was nod when she talked about us losing to a pair of Sunagakure Genin. That wasn't going to happen, definitely. I wasn't going to allow himself to lose and fail in these exams - I was going to become a Chuunin, god dammit. My name will go down in history as one of the greatest shinobi in this age and the Uchiha themselves will slam their heads against their walls for not acknowledging me as a member of their family. That was going to be my revenge against them; I will prove myself to them, that even a bastard son can do better than their 'high-born' children and I will make them regret ever casting me out, for all the glory I could have brought to the clan. The Uchiha were all about the glory, were they not? The Curse of Hatred and all that.

    I took her hand and got up from the ground, once again nodding at what she said. Wow. I really was nodding a lot, wasn't I? Better say something, else she'd snark at me and say that I had cold feet.

    "They don't have me in their teams either." I smiled at her before I beckoned and walked off, pulling on my shirt, coat and glasses in the process. Within minutes we arrived at the briefing ground, and after another few moments of standing around the Jounin-in-charge of this section of the exams; a rather capable man I knew that was called Kirogashi Raijin, famous for his skill in the usage of Raiton and his speed, which was said to even cross the barrier from Taijutsu to Space-Time, if he went a hundred percent.

    "Welcome, shinobi, to the Joint Chuunin Examinations. As you all have heard about the Forest of Death in the briefing before the exams even started, I will not drag this briefing too long. Once again I emphasize that fatalities are to be kept to a minimum - And they will be! This," Raijin paused for a moment before he formed a rat seal and suddenly a seal appeared on the back of our right palms, leading to a chorus of shouts of shock, before Raijin clapped his hands once again and a roar of thunder silenced us all, and he continued, "is a seal that monitors your life force. Once it is to drop below a level deemed appropriate by our medical corps a barrier will be formed around your body and a Chuunin will be summoned to your position to take you away. One is to make no attempt to attack your fallen enemy any more! The barrier is formidable but it is not invincible."

    The next few lines were full of disclaimers that we all had already heard before, and only done for protocol.

    Then we were escorted to a gate, one of the many that lined the Forest of Death. We were to be given ten minutes to prepare once we were inside, and when our seal glowed the examinations would begin.

    In my hand, I held a scroll that was labelled "Heaven".
  8. "Arrogant much?" Kozue said jokingly, elbowing her friend in the stomach as she walked off towards the briefing area. Outwardly, she had on a mask of calm, but she couldn't help but feel slightly nervous. Once they were inside, they couldn't trust anyone and not that Kozue trusted many to begin with, but the feeling having to be on your toes at all times was unnerving and tiring to say the least. She wasn't one to ever let her guard down, true, but she wasn't someone who was always posed to attack and act on instinct. Still, it was only practical and she would have to get used to it if she wanted to be a top-notch shinobi warrior.

    As the man went over the rules Kozue had already memorized in her head, her thumbs fingered with the hilt of her katana as if she were unconsciously getting ready to be put into a fighting scenario. Kozue was far from stupid. She knew that the reason there were so many precautions were because of the fatalities that had occurred in previous years. The fact that they were being extra careful probably meant that some of the genin here were very dangerous and brutal in their attacks. Even if fatalities were to occur, nothing about it could be done without starting another village war, and no one wanted that.

    Kozue momentarily glanced at the heaven scroll before the gate they were escorted to opened up before them. As the gates closed behind them, she was surrounded by nothing but forest. Or so it seemed. Either way, the tall trees had a calming effect on her since she was now in her natural element, no more waiting for the exam to enter. It was nearly started.

    With a deep breath, Kozue looked at Rokudenashi. "After the 10 minutes are over, if we want to discuss strategy at all, we can only talk about strengths and weakness. We'll never know who is listening, so we have to use as much non-verbal ways of communicating plans of action and little to no talk of potential allies or enemies," she partially explained, partially ordered in that way that only Kozue can do. Kozue didn't know how other people saw their team, so she didn't have any idea who would try to avoid them or come after them. She just hoped it was people they would be able to take on, or teams that greatly underestimate them.
  9. "We don't have much time, I guess. In ten minutes there are many things a resourceful person can do," I remarked as I looked around the dark forest. There were shadows around here that even the sun's light, wherever it fell through could not pierce. The trees were as tall as buildings and with extremely thick trunks - They would provide extremely good cover when a fight happened, though the abundance of such trees made sure both sides were on equal fighting ground, if they were to use these trees to their own advantage. The Sunagakure and Kirigakure shinobi would be at a disadvantage here, definitely, due to the lack of trees in the terrain they were so used to but I know that the exams were conducted fairly - Throughout the forest there would be small lakes and pits of sand, you just had to find them.

    All I planned to do after the ten minutes were up were to be submissive to Kozue, just nodding and agreeing with whatever she said. She was competent enough and all my actions would make anyone who was watching jump to the assumption that I was the useless one here, and Kozue was the leader. They would focus on their attacks with her, and while she was fending them off for that precious few seconds they would be caught in my genjutsu, and after that all the fun begins. That would only work for the first team, though, and I dearly hoped that the first team we ran into would be a team with the scroll of Earth and then we could quickly take care of them before we rushed to the tower in the center of the Forest.

    I glanced up into the sky and I could see it there - A tall, imposing structure painted pure white so that it stood out, a beacon for all us prospective Chuunin to go to. Once we had the pair of scrolls we could go in there and wait, and then the exams would be over for us. The second part, anyway. The tournament would be held right after that, and then the Chuunin Exams would be officially over. So much preparation, all over in a matter of a week or two.

    "What plans do you have? Do we roam, or do we set up camp? I'm not sure about you, since your abilities are more suited for waiting while my skillset is more towards spying and hunting. I'm fine with either, however. I think we should split up, too. I'll hide, while you're in the open," I absentmindedly suggested as I leapt upwards, landing on a tree branch and kicking off to another, knowing full well that she would follow. I turned my head back as I leapt and added apologetically, "because, you know, women look more vulnerable alone and would tempt more people to attack."
  10. Kozue's nose wrinkled in distaste at Rokudenashi's comment. "Oh poor little ol' me,"she said in the flattest tone she could manage, which wasn't hard for her. "That'll be their first mistake." Vulnerable my ass, she mentally added as she hopped up on the branches following behind her friend. "Let's get closer to the thicker parts of the forest and more towards the center. That way if we get a scroll earlier on then we won't have to worry about travelling far. Especially if we're tired out," she suggested.

    Another thought occurred to her. "Should we perhaps make a dummy scroll just in case?" she asked her friend. It would help to be safe in case they lost against a team. However, if they found out it was fake, they would barely be in any condition to defend the real one after losing a first time.

    Kozue looked towards the shadows around them that the trees cast. All of her time in the forest and trees had taught her how to tell time almost down to the minute over the years. That and, she had been keeping track mentally of how much time had passed since they entered. Their 10 minutes were almost up. "You should probably hide and follow me from in the shadows for now," she half-suggested, half-ordered.

    Glancing around, she knew that no one was anywhere near them yet. The one disadvantage of being on the move though was that it was near impossible to tell if you were heading away from the fighting or towards it. And by the time you find out, it's nearly too late. And Kozue wanted to be able to choose their opponents so they could get past this as fast as possible. The longer one stays in this part of the exam, the more desperate people become to get their hands on a scroll.

    Kozue figured it out in her head. The first two hours they should be on high alert. That was when people were eager, at the top of their game, and most competitive. Those that would do near anything to come first and secure their spots in part 3 of the exams would dish out everything they have. Still, when people acted so rash, both in the immediate start and towards the end of the exam, Kozue knew people would make more careless mistakes and it might be their best chances to get the scroll they needed.