Taji, Sami (as Serin)
Date: September 28, 2010
Taji and Serin meet again in the Land of Fire's forests. An interesting offer is made by Taji… But will Serin accept?
"Choices Shape Us"
Miati Forest - Land of Fire
Taji is a bit bruised, but the bruises look maybe a few days old? He's got a small cut on his lip. He's got a pack on his back, like usual. And he's out here in the woods, near the middle of no where. It is unclear why he's out here but he's obviously trying to track /something/ or other with the way he keeps looking at paths and trees and twigs and the like. He's moving slowly, trying to be quiet but he's only a genin and quiet is harder for him than some. Long story short he's out here in the middle of no where looking where he thinks Serin might be, maybe.
Serin has been healed. He has been renewed. Not only have his wounds vanished, but the fatigue associated with particularly powerful Genjutsu has been wiped clean from his mind and body. He feels better than he has in a long time… Perhaps some of the scars from Saito Masahiro's butchery of Serin's internal organs have been healed as well? Mune had done a good job patching him up and saving his life, but it seems that Mushi is even more skilled than that woman.
But the time has come to depart the Land of Fire. Rainos abandoned him to his fate in Konohagakure. That Uchiha has much to answer for. To that end, he will have to return to Higuregakure and question the man — and if he does not like the answers, he will have to make Rainos bleed. He has spent the night stretching out, and warming himself up for a very long sprint. Before, he was limited both by the pain of his injuries and the stiffness of sleeping in trees. Now he only has the muscle kinks to work out and he'll be ready to begin running. ANBU have failed to catch up with him. They have failed in their duty. Serin will not fail. He will succeed. By any means necessary.
It is afternoon, and not the best time to go running through the woods of a foreign country, but it matters little by this point. The pursuit must be dozens of miles away if he can't even detect them with Otomegami—then he pauses. In the middle of doing backflips just to see how flexible his abdominal muscles are now that they've been healed of some scar tissue, he just stops with back arched, weight resting on the splayed fingertips of both hands. There IS something approaching. He closes his eyes and feels the vibrations coming from the sword on his back. The pulses go directly into his spine, allowing him to 'read' or 'see' via the resonance in the environment. Bipedal, not quadrupedal. And walking at a pace on two legs that indicates it is not a bear. Human then. The foot falls are light, but detectable even amongst all the other sounds of the forest. Serin cannot 'hear' the sound of feet impacting the ground, but he can FEEL it.
Pushing off onto his feet once again, Serin stands and looks in the direction the footfalls are coming from. Light. Trained. Stealthy. So either an adult female kunoichi, or a young male ninja. The stealth is good, but not great, so he's willing to bet on someone relatively inexperienced. Even an adult Genin would know how to hide his or her presence better. So this is a young male. Hmm…
'Not ANBU. I should leave him alone,' he thinks to himself. But he stays right where he is for several minutes, before starting towards the path that cuts through the forest.
Taji is worn out, he might be doing better if he weren't so tired. He also would be hiding better if he weren't grumbling under his breath at times about some test of some kind. The words aren't clear, barely under his breath but still. He shakes his head and continues through the woods. The ANBU seem to be pretty sure Serin would be gone by now, but… Worth the effort to try to find the man. As Serin watches, Taji comes into sight, moving along the path, unaware of being watched, it seems. He moves along, his foot steps light for one wearing such a heavy looking pack. Yes, it's that kid from the village. Hard to forget his face.
Taji continues on, pausing here and there to look of signs of recent passage, anything that might hint at a ninja in hiding rather than just passing wild life or normal travellers. He stops by a bush, looking at the empty branches, autumn leaving the trees mostly bare, but Taji seems intent on looking at a broken twig. He's no master tracker so he's not sure what broke the twig, be it wind or an animal or something else, but he pauses to study it a bit, right in Serin's line of sight.
Serin stands right in the middle of the path through the forest and waits. He recognizes Taji of course. He knows the name from what Fuyu shouted out. But he makes no move to approach him or draw attention to himself quite yet. If Taji wants to look at a broken twig, he can do so. He'll have to face Serin eventually. Right?
Crossing his arms over his chest, the white-haired man stands right there in plain-sight and watches. Otomegami is still strapped to his back, and no weapon appears to be in hand right now. He also looks to be in much better health than he was back in Konohagakure.
Finally Taji looks up from the bush and peers, right where there was empty path when he looked down is now… Serin? Taji immediately slips into a defensive posture, ready for a possible attack, "Hey! You!" He calls out, "Are you that Serin guy?" The boy seems nervous, and reasonably so, as he's standing before what he thinks is a rank-S criminal from the bingo book. He looks Serin over as if trying to see signs of injury or the like. "Don't go anywhere." He calls out, in what he clearly hopes is a commanding voice, but… well, it doesn't come off so commanding.
Taji starts to move closer, eyes narrowing as he glances around then back to the white haired man. "Don't attack or anything. I just want to talk for a moment. I have some questions." He calls out as he gets closer so he doesn't have to yell, but tries to keep some distance just to be 'safe'.
If Serin is amused by Taji's reaction to recognizing his existing he does not show it. He remains where he is, arms crossed, calm, emotionless. His grey eyes stare at the young man. But inwardly he is wondering if not being required to kill at such an early age is the reason why Taji is not more perceptive. Once a kill is made, the ninja tends to accept the reality of war and of combat… And be prepared for others to do the same to him.
Serin remains silent until Taji gets closer. Then he replies, "I am called Serin." He then waits a bit longer. When Taji is within conversation-distance, but not close enough that melee is possible, Serin nods briefly. "I have questions too." A pause. "Ask what you wish to know. If I have the answer, I will provide it. And if you have answers for me… You will provide them." He does not appear to be asking.
Taji nods slowly, "An exchange of information then, maybe?" He offers, still showing worry. He's clearly aware of how out classed he would be if this comes to blows and is trying hard not to play the braggart or anything stupid like that. "My first question for you is… how did you learn to do that ghost thing, that…. that wraith mist like ability? Who taught you that… where did it come from?" Clearly something about this has his full attention, since there are so many other things he could ask, "Where did it come from? Do you know?" There's an urgency in his voice, that he's trying to mask, even as he waits for an answer. His weight shifts uneasily from foot to foot, nervous but not in the 'about to attack' kind of way, more in the 'oh boy what am I doing, am I going to live' kind of way. It is telling that he seems to have risked finding you out here alone, just to ask you this question.
Of all the questions that might have been asked, this is the one for which Serin was least prepared. 'Why did you spare me?' he would have expected. 'What was all that stuff about necessity you told me?' perhaps. But about that technique? Is this boy looking to duplicate it somehow? "It is an ability unique to me." He does not add on 'as far as I know'. "By combining the properties of my sword with my Chakra, I can make the molecules of my body vibrate sufficiently that they 'loosen' their connections to each other. At the first stage, it makes me look somewhat transparent, but I remain solid. At the second stage, the connections are loose enough that I can sometimes 'phase through' attacks and material barriers. As well, my Chakra flows from me in a nearly mist-like manner… I do not know why it is black, but I believe it may be because of the nature of water that permits it to distort and diffuse light at great depths. If my Chakra combines with the sound waves is compressing my inherent Chakra Nature of Water, or if it is the actual physical water in my body, either way it may be that light is being distorted or stopped somehow."
That is probably the most he has said in a long time. And a much more thorough explanation that might have been expected. Then he rolls his shoulders in a shrug. "On the other hand, perhaps I am mistaken. I developed the Ghost and Wraith techniques by intuition rather than understanding. I use Otomegami as an aid, but it might be possible to use them without the sword. I just do not have sufficiently balanced Chakra for that."
Taji listens very intently, hanging on every word of explaination. He even leans a tad forward as if he's afraid he'll miss something. Then after the speaking is done by Serin, he nods a bit and then says, "I ask… I had to know because… well… here." He pauses then moves. It is a graceful move, oddly graceful. It would be a normal dodge but it leaves a misty after image behind of him as he moves, a trail of you will like he's moving but leaving behind a ghost of himself as he moves to the side. The speed behind it is impressive but the after effect clearly seems some what similar to the wraith form, perhaps? Once he's shown this move, Taji stands there, watching, waiting, trying to gauge Serin's reaction.
"The ones who taught me how to do this… they're all gone, wiped out. I've never seen anything even close to it by anyone else… until… you." He says simply. He gives a little nod as if this might explain it all, "And then… you spared me and spoke to me, and… and I wondered if you recognized me some how." He adds, getting a bit more tentative as he explains.
Serin watches as Taji demonstrates his ability to trail an after-image as he dodges. Speed can accomplish this, of course, but such after-image fade quickly as they are not truly physically present. That one lingers in this manner… He does not speak until Taji finishes his explanation and seems to be losing steam in terms of confidence in his purpose here. Finally, he says, "Speed and Chakra control are both part of it. The problem is that my personal Chakra control is not sufficient to manipulate by body's molecules. I can move very swiftly, but that is only physical speed and mental reaction time. To vibrate my molecules, I need an aid of some kind… Something to do with my Chakra what I cannot. And I believe you may be closer to achieving it than I would be without Otomegami."
He reaches over his shoulder with one hand and grips the handle of the just-named sword. He slides it out of its straps and lays the pronged blade against the palm of his other hand. Looking at it thoughtfully, he then says, "I supposed recognizing you is one way of putting it. I did recognize something ABOUT you… Something I have seen before." He then raises his gaze to Taji. "I tried to tell you to do what I have done my entire life. To do what is necessary to succeed, no matter what that may be. After speaking with someone else… I have determined that I was wrong. I believe you should do whatever is necessary to succeed, but what you should be succeeding at is followng the path you have chosen to the end. Your path likely does not involve preserving peace by eliminating anyone who would disturb it. Thus, you should follow your own path. Not mine. I saw in you myself. The 'me' that I was before I had my choice of paths taken away from me. The 'me' I might have been if I had been left to discover the joys of life instead of the pains of it."
Serin looks Taji in the eyes. "I spared you because, at the time, I thought I might make you like me. But now I realize I spared you because I hoped you would live to become someone completely different."
Taji watches this all, listens quite intently, he seems to be torn about what to say next. Finally, he breaks his silence, "What clan are you?" He asks softly, a light breeze almost stealing his words away. "I… I need to know, if you will tell me. I don't know if I'm the only one left is all. You said you learned on your own, intuition, but… you learned it. I don't know the greater techniques, but I saw the masters and I remember that some of them looked a bit like you in that form. Maybe… I mean, your clan?" He ventures again. He shakes his head slightly as if trying to clear it.
"I think I might be like you, I don't know what you're like very much but… something. I don't know. It's strange, isn't it? I was taught to use balance, peace, calm. I'm not very good at it but I try. Maybe… maybe if you had been spared the pains of life you'd be able to do it too? Maybe… maybe you can still become someone different, if you want to? I mean, it isn't like you have to stay who you are, is it?" He hesitates then adds, "I might be able to help you, if… if you want. I have some ideas, maybe." Taji offers, "It'd be complicated but… maybe you don't have to just be about pain?"
Serin thinks over all that he knows of his history. Then he answers, "I do not know if I belong to a Clan. My mother died shortly after I was born. I am told that even after giving birth she was able to fight her way off of the battlefield and make it to the home of an old couple whom she entrusted with my life. I was raised by them, until—" he cuts himself off. "That is not related to your question. I do not know if I am a member of a Clan. I have no idea who my mother was, or my father, or where they came from. And… I would like to be about something else. I would like to seek balance and diminish pain. But to stop the Mizukage, Kaguya Mitsuo, I will have to keep doing whatever is necessary… And maybe I will be remembered as a hero or a villain, but I will also have removed one more monster from the world. And when I die… Perhaps two monsters."
He lowers his head in thought, looking at the sword that was gifted him by the Daimyou of the Land of Water when he was named one of the Seven Swordsmen. "…I will stay for awhile. But we had best become better hidden, and soon. I should have been to the border by now. If anyone comes looking for you, they will find me too." He then slides Otomegami back into its straps on his back and turns to walk into the forest, apparently assuming Taji will follow. They have much to discuss.