Date: August 13, 2014
Councilman Kuoroke decides to bring Akiko out to the desert to teach her cliff-walking
"Akiko Learns Cliff-Walking!"
Cliffs Outside Sunagakure
Outside Sunagakure [Land of Wind]
The desert here is a well-travelled stretch of sand, with various sandstone buttes rising up from the relatively flat terrain. However, directly to the west is a roughly circular arrangement of mountainous cliffs that is the naturally-formed defensive barrier of Sunagakure no Sato — the Village Hidden in the Sand. The entrance to Sunagakure, rather than being a true 'gate' as other Villages tend to have, is an open space in the thick, sturdy walls of stone. This opening can be controlled by the ninja guards to close up and secure the Village against invaders. Scaling the cliffs without the use of ninja skills is nearly impossible, and with the many guards and scouts that line the edges of the cliffs, even experienced ninja would be hard-pressed to get inside without being killed on sight.
Infiltrating without being seen is not remotely likely. Patrols regularly canvasse the sands themselves, and ensure nothing suspicious is going on. If anything out-of-place IS seen, the ninja report their findings as quickly as possible. During sand storms, the cliff-faces tend to be closed. Desert natives know better than to be travelling during such a storm anyway.
South - (S) [North Shiren Caverns]
Enter Village - (EV) [Village Entrance]
East - (E) [Desert Near Sunagakure]
After their talk the previous day, Kuoroke has summoned Akiko to the Sunagakure gates, near the wall, early in the morning. He's given no reason, and no instructions save for the suggestion that she should pack some lunch. So, with the night's chill still in the air, and the sun drawing long shadows on the sand, Kuoroke waits for her, besides one of the tall cliffs standing watch over Sunagakure.
Akiko got the message to meet by the door. Her parents were back home and she managed to convince her mom to pack her a lunch for whatever it was that was coming. And so comes Akiko with Kotone perched on her shoulder to the meeting place. She bows slightly to Kuoroke, saying, with a yawn, "Good morning, Kuroki-san. What are we doing today?"
"Training. You wanted to expand your combat abilities with the use of chakra, which first and foremost requires chakra control." The Kuroki explains, moving to the rock face. "I'm going to teach you a technique known as Cliffwalking, sometimes also called Wallclimbing and Treewalking." With that, Kuoroke puts a foot on the surface of the rock at about chest height, and rotates so he's standing on one foot on the cliff's face. Then, he takes two steps up. "The trick here is to evenly channel chakra towards your feet. Usually, it's easier when attempted barefoot." While speaking, he takes two more steps up, before turning around to face Akiko. "And if nothing is hindering your movement. Now, you're going to get up here," he pulls out a kunai, "and take this out of my hands."
Akiko blinks a bit and nods, her sleepiness clearing away. Of course, what replaces it is excitement, which lights up the girl's eyes. "Ooh! Cliffwalking?! Sasaki-san showed me that once, but I couldn't figure out how and she never taught me." She watches the demonstration with wide-eyed attentiveness, nodding at his instructions. "Evenly channel chakra to my feet…" she echoes, trying to think of how to do that. She wonders if maybe taking off her shoes is a good idea as well… With a shrug, the Hayato would place her bento and shoes in a shady spot, leaving Kotone to watch over her valuables, and she focuses her chakra to her feet. Concentrate…
Kuoroke slowly dangles the target on his index finger, and then pulls out a sheaf of papers from his inner pocket and begins curiously studying them: after all, just because he's training Akiko, doesn't mean he can't also get some report-reading done. "The target here is to closely watch your chakra output. Too much, and you risk throwing yourself off the rock. Too little, and you slide off. Take a deep breath, be calm, and focus. Come on."
Akiko focuses chakra to her feet, then looks at the cliff face determinedly, hoping she got the amount of chakra just right. She looks a bit nervous as well as she steps forward. One foot is placed against the wall, and she puts her weight on said foot. The result? She would likely slide off the wall and hit her head if she was anywhere above ground height… With a small grumble, she tries to focus a bit more chakra, slowly adding more until her foot actually sticks. According to Kuoroke, she would end up blasting off if there's too much. That sounds more painful, so a gradual addition of chakra might lessen the chances of that happening!
Kuoroke turns a page, then looks up to study Akiko's progress for a while. "If you're unsure of how good your control is, try to pull your foot down and off the wall. As you approach the correct amount of chakra, you'll notice a certain resistance. Then aim for a resistance high enough to keep your entire body weight, and about twenty percent more, firmly attached."
Akiko nods, thinking that's a good idea! She focuses more chakra, moving her foot slowly on and off the wall to see when exactly she's hit the right amount. It takes a while, but she finally gets it! A good half hour of testing, she was incrementing chakra output so slowly… A few steps up the wall, definitely unsteady, as the girl maintains the amount of chakra for 7 steps, but eventually her foot slides down the rock as she puts too little chakra in her step. With a squeak, she slides back to the ground and ends up on her butt.
Kuoroke watches her slip and fall calmly. "That always happens on the first few tries. You were quite close." He flicks the Kunai again and holds it aside again, clenches firmly in his hand. "While you're still learning, you might want to give each foot a tug right after it's placed, to ensure you've got a good grip, much like you did for the first foot. You'll get more used to the amount of chakra required over time."
Akiko nods, getting up. She was so close! Just a little bit more… She focuses her chakra again, doing the same amount as last when she had success. With a semi-confident step, she would place her foot to the wall and test her grip. Satisfied, she takes another step, testing that as well. It's slow going, but the procedure works as intended, and after about 10 steps, she needs to test fewer times than the beginning. The difference was quite a bit too. Eventually she finds herself standing in front of Kuoroke. The time it took for her to do all that between the start of the training session and now: 2 hours.
Kuoroke smiles, hands Akiko the kunai, turns around and walks further up. Then, he reconsiders and walks back down. "Let's see how well you do with some speed." The Kuroki takes a handful of kunai and throws them into the cliff face. They embed themselves to the hilt. "Now snatch those out, while running. On the double! MOVE!" Satisfied with himself, he steps back and watches.
Akiko takes the Kunai, looking triumphant and rather happy. She peers curiously at the Kuroki as he devises a new challenge for her, blinking as he gives her the instructions. Well, one… Those were some powerful throws if the Kunai are embedded into the wall! And she has to take them out at a run? Well, she can certainly do her best … The girl springs into action, dashing quickly across the cliff-face. Her speed means that she isn't falling off, but an occasional misstep happens while she attempts to grab the Kunai at a run. In one pass, she only snags one Kunai from the wall. Well, better than nothing…
As soon as Akiko is down, Kuoroke draws another kunai and embeds it into the wall again. "Let's see how long it takes you to pull out of all of them together. Move! Double time!"
Akiko takes a breath to collect herself, then sprints back into action again. She dashes through the Kunai, dislodging them and eventually collecting the Kunai on her third pass through them. She pants lightly by the time she finishes, wiping some of the sweat from her brow.
Kuoroke collects his kunai, then turns around. "Alright, not bad. You're making significant progress here. Now, follow me, I'm going to make this slightly more challenging." Kuoroke leads Akiko through the cliffs, and then for a bit through the desert, until eventually they wind up at a different rock formation, one not of solid rock but rather of loose sandstone. He leaves her in the shade. "Wait here, recover some strength, I'll be right back."
Akiko grabs her shoes and food, Kotone just following by air as the two chase after the council member. When they get to the different rock formation, Akiko takes the recovering time to eat a little of her food, working on one of the rice balls her mom had made her. Kotone gets her own form of food, the falcon hunting down a few sand snakes that apparently are good eats.
Kuoroke returns quite soon, but waits for Akiko to be done eating before bothering her again. He guides her towards another face of the rock formation, then motions at it. "I've inserted six senbon into the rock here. Your job is simple: find all of them without touching the ground. Go."
Akiko swallows down the last bits of her food. "Oh, Kuroki-san! Feel free to have some of my lunch. My mom packed a bit extra for you~," she says before staring at the rock in search of senbon. Hopefully she can locate a few with her sharp eyesight without Kotone's help. Steadily, she gets up to explore the formation, scanning nooks and crannies for signs of the six senbon.
Kuoroke blinks, surprised. There are many things that he's prepared for, but a bit of common kindness from someone he doesn't know personally takes him by surprise. "No, eh. I'm fine, thank you." He says, after a pause. He quickly recovers his air of authority. "Just get to work." As she looks at it, he shakes her head. "No, they're burried into the sand, I doubt you'll see them from here. The idea is that you stay up there for a prolonged time. I would, by the way, I suggest you be careful with your chakra channeling, this rock may crumble under the pressure."
Akiko nods, offering a casual salute to the Kuroki as she hunts around for the senbon. For now, she tests every one of her steps, which makes the whole process rather slow. 6 minutes later, she finally comes across her first senbon, digging it out of the sand and tossing it down toward Kuoroke. "Found one!" she calls out cheerfully.
"Careful." Kuoroke admonishes, although as she turns away, he smiles faintly. The girl really -is- making progress: she might have the hang of this soon. The Councillor doesn't bother mentioning that the rock is not only brittle, but also variable: he's curious to see how she reacts to a sudden change in the material.
Akiko keeps her movements slow, not wanting to break the formation and fall off the cliff. That would be bad, even if she's not /that/ high up. Testing every step was apparently a good idea, as suddenly the chakra flow she has gotten used to outputting is too weak for the rock. She blinks, making herself strengthen the flow just a bit in the single foot, which is a tad difficult, and manages to snag her second senbon with a relieved sigh. She tosses it at Kuoroke, the weapon landing a foot away from the council member as the girl continues her slow search.
Kuoroke picks up the second needle. "Keep it up…" He commands, routinely.
Akiko looks around for any signs of obvious senbon, continuing her exploration of the wall. She's been walking all across its surface by now, and is pretty experienced with how much chakra to channel into her feet. After a long while, she finally finds the remaining four senbon, tossing them down to the council member and hopping down herself. She looks pretty happy, if not tired and worn out from her extended chakra use.
Kuoroke collects the senbons as they arrive, occasionally giving pointers on Akiko's technique. "Keep practicing until you don't need to focus on your feet any more." he instructs, when she gets down. "Until you can just walk up a wall. But my part here is done. Come on. And get some rest when you get back." With this, Kuoroke takes Akiko back to the village.