Dancing Shadows: Persistence


Ei, Ayumu

Date: Unknown (log received January 14, 2015)


Ei's shadow clone training continues…

"Dancing Shadows: Persistence"

North Shiren Caverns [Land of Wind]


Welcome to the Shiren Caverns. This place is a maze of tubular tunnels, carved out over the ages by natural forces, some of them of the living variety. As desert locales go, the caverns are a hotbed of life, providing shelter from the merciless sun and collecting moisture. All manner of creepy-crawlies, reptiles, rodents, and even large predators like sand cats can be encountered here.
This area of the caverns features mostly small tunnels in great abundance, enough that exam participants can be sent into the network at different entrances and quite possibly not bump into each other for quite some time. Running and jumping about are limited, but opportunities for stealth and ambush abound.
Recently one of the smaller tunnels leading to the entrance area has been drastically expanded, almost perfectly circular in shape and twice as wide. Burn marks on the rocks themselves indicate this was caused by a great battle.


Droplets of rain fall gently from the sky, the soft pitter-patter of the water on the ground barely audible outside Shiren Caverns. Inside, they often echoed well beyond their resting place, disturbing the mind in some form or another. Ayumu, Ei, and Miyu enter just in time to avoid the downpour, but their success hardly had anything to do with the Iga grinning since the rain started. If asked about it, the Iga is quick to deflect the question, and following persistence, play it off as merely an 'entertaining' turn of events.
Either way, the day has finally come to start on the practical part of Ei's shadow clone training. Or at least, so Ayumu said along with whatever promises were necessary to stack on top of convincing Ei to follow him to the caves. He really meant it to, truthfully, though his reasons for bringing Miyu along was a mystery. "Still remember the way, Ei?" He asks as he adjusted the satchel on his back.

The woman raised a brow at his grin, but by now she was fairly used to him doing that. She was even more used to him refusing to say anything about why he was grinning. Ei had queried him, though, her curiosity pushing her to at least try to understand but given his answer she simply looked amused and shook her head with a slight shrug to boot. Her brows knit slightly as he asks if she knows the way and she then raises one. "Know the way…? The way to where, exactly?" They had come to the caves a couple times, but… one place in particular that stood out to her, she was certain they couldn't be going to…
North Shiren Caverns [Land of Wind]

"You know…" Ayumu taps his shoulder against her own and gives a wink. He waits all but a few seconds before chuckling and shaking his head. "Not that I mean for us to go there, but…. Mmm.. nevermind." He says nonchalantly before drawing to a stop after only placing one foot into a darkened tunnel. Among his satchel filled with supplies, he paid not one thought to the predicament that stood before them.
"Not that far, though…" He murmurs at first, and after an extended moment of studying the tunnel Ayumu turns about to clasp Ei's shoulder. "Sliiight change of plans, my hime.. Will set up shop here for now." Following a favorable response, Ayumu gestures for Ei to sit on one side of the tunnel while Ayumu knelled on the otherside and began rooting around in his satchel. "You still remember the basics I showed you last, yes?"

A grin slowly spread across Ei's face, accompanied by slightly reddened cheeks after his response. She hums thoughtfully at him, teasing as to whether she remembered or not. She chuckles and nods her head when he mentions not intending to go there, though. After he decides to set them up right where they are, she blinks before nodding her head and murmuring, "All right then." When he questions whether she remembers the basics, she nods her head again, smiling slightly. "Of course I do. I just had a bit of bad luck initially…"

"Among other things," He adds, teasing her again with his infamous foxy grin. "Those things aside… go ahead and.." Ayumu turns from his search and cants his head slightly as if in an effort to better hear something. "… Get started." He finishes following the moment's pause. While Ei began building up her chakra, Ayumu worked on molding sensory organs to best monitor her chakra useage in particular. A portion of his own chakra is diverted further as he plop onto his bottom. While crude hands of hair continue to pull free and set aside things range from bento to rope, others draw the merciful Miyu from her sling into the Iga's hand.

Ei's brow rises again at his pause, but she chooses not to actually question him on it and simply nods her head, leaving Miyu's side in order to focus her chakra. Taking a deep breath, she closes her eyes and creates a fair bit of chakra before she forms the seals to remind herself of them, but doesn't force her chakra into them just yet. Instead, she murmurs, "I'm ready. Are you?" She grins softly as she observes him holding their child.

"M'im—" Ayumu stops himself short, only to bite down on the still developing sensor. The silent expressions resulting from the jolt of pain that follows are…. priceless, to say the least. The rest of his movements are pretty self-contained, so Miyu wouldn't — should hopefully go undistubred by it all. And in anycase, the Iga does eventually get a few weird shape flesh orbs out and rolling to both sides of Ei, though it still takes some time for their master to truly calm down.
"Bwee… ugh… Ready." He eventually manages to murmur, masking lingering pain behind a twitchy smile.

The woman can't help but giggle slightly at her poor love's misfortune. Ei tilts her head slightly as she waits patiently for him to recover and finish with his sensors. When he finally manages and says that he's ready, she nods her head and lifts her hands to form the seals, focusing all the needed chakra into a clone as best she can.

"You never cease to amaze me, you know that?" Ayumu asks with an absent smile playing at the corner of his lips. He meant it, too. But as what was usually the case, the Iga had dual reasons for having said so. It was necessary to test her concentration, or so Ayumu figured, though if he were to be honest with himself, distracting her was simply too tempting to ignore.

One of those golden eyes opens to peer at him briefly, but her focus and concentration don't falter as she puts effort into creating a clone of herself. It poofs into existence beside her and she huffs slightly. It took quite a bit of energy, but she doesn't look nearly as exhausted as last time… and the clone… the actually quite good clone just peers back at her curiously. The original Ei just takes a few deep breaths as she observes her copy, looking interested.

The temptation to try distract her more still gnaws at him, but the Iga resists it this time. He became distracted, truth be told, by something far more interesting: the clone's creation. From the moment the copy poofs into being, Ayumu has his sensors rolling about and examining the newborn from every angle. One even brushes against the leg of the clone in passing before attempting to resume its circling. "Well done, Ei." Ayumu smiles broadly. "She is almost as beautiful as you." He teases lightly, if albeit absently. "Though that aside.. we really will need to build up that stamina of yours me thinks."

Ei just looked at the clone curiously, the copy peering back at first. Then its attention was drawn to the sentries clammering around her. When Ayumu speaks up, the original smiles brightly while her double's cheeks puff slightly as she pouts. She doesn't comment, though, even as their expressions switch: Ei frowning a little and the clone grinning in amusement. "I suppose you have a point… I usually have quite a bit of stamina, honestly, but… making these, I feel like an old woman with no energy," the original responds and sighs.

The red-haired wondered had been silently bracing himself to have one of those sensory organs thrown at him for the comment. But when that doesn't happen, he reprimands himself for ever thinking of Ei as the violent type. Well, at least being /that/ violent, in any case.
Ayumu can only offer the clone an apologetic smile, seeing as how his hands are full at the moment. "So, I've sensed as well, but at least the price of this forbidden art can be fixed with time and good fortune." Ayumu's brows furrow as another thought occurs. "Speaking of fortune, it'd be in your favor to cancel the jutsu now before Emi here gathers too much more information."

Both original and clone just watched him, seeming calm enough, all considered. When he mentions canceling the jutsu… and more important, having named the clone already, Ei's brows furrow in curious confusion and she glances at 'Emi'. Shrugging, she focuses on dismissing the extra. Thankfully, Emi doesn't seem too desperate to survive, per se, and vanishes without struggle. Ei stands there for a moment, prepared for a bad reaction, but as everything her clone experiences cycles through her consciousness, she finds it remarkably easy to handle. Smiling at Ayumu, she takes a deep breath. "I'm fine," she tells him reassuringly.

He said her name so… carelessly. As if it meant no more to him now than the weather or a speck of sand. Ayumu knew not troubled him more, and fortunately his brow were allowed to return to normal once the clone's distracting disappearance… distracts.. him. ._.;
"Where the body wanes, but the mind must proper…. Or so some merchant said to me once in some odd attempt at selling off… *clears throat* Th-that is excellent news, Ei… though now we must test those limits a… Hmm…" Ayumu turns his gaze towards the bento, then back Ei before letting out another thoughtful "hmm". "… Do you think you can manage it once more, Ei-hime?" He asks warily.

Ei smirks at his philosophical quote, listening to all he has to say. When he glances toward the bento box, her brows rise up interestedly. At his question, she chuckles a bit and nods her head. "I am certainly willing to try again," she tells him and takes a deep breath as she takes her time to focus the necessary chakra again. Then she forms the seals, slowly, and creates another clone. Or maybe the same clone again… she's not really certain. Again, she feels a little winded, but all in all, it seems she's done decently.

The fact that Ei managed to pull off the technique twice showed promise. However, he neither openly praises her again or seems even all there at the moment, indecisive once more. "Alright." Narrowed eyes are closed altogether. Moments later, a clone of Ayumu poofs into existence beside the former rogue. A perfect copy in every way except — "Ah… Aaahhh…. Feels so good to be out 'n about again friend and lover." The clone emits as it stretched out its arms nonchalantly. "But fortunes do not favor reckless freedom today. Nay, Ayumu."
Both smile at one another, though it is obvious the original forced it. "Yes.. to a degree. I… I beg that you do try to keep things someone tame at least." The clone's smile only broadens at the original's words. "Okay dokie, o' peerless one." With that said, the clone crawls onto his feet, and following a mock bow, it offers Ei's clone a hand up. Its intent after is to guide her away from the chamber regardless of acceptance of the gesture or not, though rather things go along that route…

Ei and the clone both look at the two Ayumu with curiosity. They listen, each tilting her head a bit, before the clone approaches its female counterpart. Ei watches this and the clone just blinks at him, tentatively lifting a hand to settle it into his fingers. Ei's brow rises as her double is lead away and her attention turns back to her lover. "Tame…?" Her brows raise in interest.

Ayumu nods hesitantly. "Tame." Aside from that, it would not seem as if the Iga has any intentions of elaborating on the subject matter. If pressed further, he'd cave grudgingly, but otherwise Ayumu remained hopeful that she did not. He also found himself hoping Ryoji would for once not leave him wanting to strangle the persona for derailing things again. "They'll be gone — should be gone for the next hour or two. In the meantime, let's chow down before we move on to the next stage of things… That is, unless your confident enough to keep going even now?" He poses curiously.

The woman considers him, but as he doesn't offer anymore information himself, she simply emits a grumbly little noise and moves closer… but doesn't push him for it. Ei hums at him mentioning how long they'll be gone and then grins at his question. "My dear… I have too much confidence in many a case… but I am not arrogant enough to let that confidence control me." She winks and grins, moving to sit next to him. "So, we shall eat… and perhaps continue before they get back. We'll see how it goes," she remarks before starting to unravel some food to start eating.

Ayumu grows tense as she grumbles, but settles down quickly upon sensing the grin. He listens calmly for the most part, though a smirk plays at the corner of his lips near the end. "Aye, that would be the safer bet in the long run." He says all mysteriously. Unfortunately, with his hands still occupied, it would be up to Ei to handle food arrangement. Unless of course she decides to remind him of the number of ways he could operate without their use. Either way, the selection of food remains unchanged. Out of the mysterious five stacked up nearby, two of which are filled completely with omelets. One is filled with hot dog octopuses. And the last two are normal. There's also some back potatoes like before, though by now they may be a little on the cold side.
The sensors in the mean time are once more sent back to work. Albeit this time their purpose entails monitoring the other tunnels. Belatedly does it occur to him to send one of them after the clone. The idea is swiftly dismissed. Knowing Ryoji as he did, the clone would only take that as a challenge or worse.

Ei is perfectly happy to feed him, actually. She goes about doing so almost immediately, giving him a hot dog before having one herself… and then moving onto omelettes: a bite for him and a bite for her, presuming he's finished chewing. Should he go to speak, of course, she won't try to shove food down his throat. It's offered and he can choose to take it when he's ready. "Mm… Even if just for lunch… coming out here was a wonderful idea, my dear. I'm actually enjoying training again. It's invigorating." She grins brightly.

And Ayumu was more than happy to be fed, assuming the shameless smile he wore was anything to go by. Not one bite is refused in favor of speech or to slow down whatever natural pace Ei sets. Although in hindsight, the red-haired wonder found himself wishing he had included pocky or some other, no, more direct share-able meal between the two. "I'm glad you see things as so… Not to say the same doesn't go for me and Miyu here, cus that would be most dreadful." A terrible joke, but one the Iga hoped might brighten that smile all the more, if not earn him something… more. Either way, Ayumu enjoyed the moment as much as he could.

A grin splits her face at his comment and she giggles softly before giving him another bite as she murmurs, "Miyu certainly does seem to be enjoying herself being held by Daddy." Ei continues to grin, looking down at the child in his hands. The grin settles into a loving smile before she leans forward to kiss the infant on the forehead. Afterward, she leaned up to kiss the cheek of the Iga. "Are you having fun teaching me again?"

Ayumu happily accepts the offer, though soon after simple joy is replaced by something much greater. With his mouthful Ayumu could not produce the means to see his child. And yet, the knowledge did little diminish the absent-minded smile he had as his gaze fell on her general direction. A smile that grew upon sensing the exchange between mother and daughter, and further still when similar affection is laid upon him. "Mm… I kind of missed it to be honest… kind of twisted if one stops to think about for too long." Ayumu chuckles and shakes his head. "Do you.. enjoy it?"

Ei chuckles at him softly and shakes her head. "I don't think it's twisted. Maybe not /normal/, exactly, but…" She grins broadly. "Neither of us were ever exactly 'normal', were we? Besides…" Gently nibbling on her lower lip, she pauses and giggles, "That's one taboo that is… kind of exciting, no?" Her brows rise curiously. Then she settles down a bit and smiles. "Yes, I do enjoy it. I'm not sure I'd necessarily enjoy complete, heavy training, but… light training gives us something to do together, neh?"

Ayumu nods in a sagely manner at first, but pauses and quirks a brow as she trailed off. Then, frowned and bowed his head as if seriously considering the question… which he was. Ayumu knew for a fact that he was far from normal. But Ei? That was… a tough call, though arguably the answer was yes for her as well. At least if Ayumu was to be truly honest about the whole thing.
"There is a certain thrill to it." His cheeks darken at the admission. "And… there is that as well. Certainly a perfect cover for any would be chuunin trying to find out if I'm slacking too much… Though… mmm, eh, not gonna worry bout that. What's more important is that… Oh well, thanks brain for deciding to derail yourself." Ayumu says before descending into a bout of grumbling.

That thoughtful look has Ei grinning all over again and she giggles quietly. An amused smile crosses her face, her own cheeks taking on a more pink hue, at his admission. She can't help but giggle again at his expense as he starts grumbling to himself, though, and she shifts to lean against him a little bit. "Would you like more to eat or shall we save the rest for later?" Either after he answers or while he's thinking, she adds, "Honestly, I /should/ put a bit more effort into training. I still have that… issue with the smell of blood, but even so, I want to be able to defend Miyu and myself if you are pulled away…"

Ayumu seems to grow only more grouchy over the giggling, though not so much so that distancing himself was acted upon, or even desired for that matter. "Hmm… Later." He murmurs in response, still somewhat lost in his own thoughts. The Iga is drawn back to the present not long after however. Mentioning blood sort of had that effect on him. "… I know… With things going the way the are, it starting to seem more likely… Kind of makes me wish I wasn't so invested in Sunagakure now." Ayumu sighs lightly. "I'm hoping something advance as shadow clones would help kick out those worries sooner as well. Speaking of which…" He trails off from there with a noteable tinge of nervousness. "You'll forgive Ryoji, and by extension me later, won't you? That is… once whatever he — they… erm… after the time limit is up won't you?"

Ei smiles at him softly and shakes her head. "Don't worry, Ayumu. I'm honestly not terribly worried that anything will happen to us. It's just a precautionary thought," she explains. With his answer of saving the food for later, she packs it back up and licks away any excess from her fingers while listening to him. When he gets nervous, her brow rises curiously and then the other as he asks if she'll forgive him and his clone for… what, exactly, she's not sure. "Dear… I don't think there will be anything that needs forgiving. Still, I will not hold it against you, whatever happens, all right?" She chuckles at him a little, shaking her head.

Ayumu nods hesitantly along in agreement, but held on to the worry on the inside. At best, Ryoji knowing Ayumu like he did meant the clone would do hardly nothing out of the ordinary seeing as how much simply being out and about agitated the original. On the other hand…
"Alright, uhm… focus…" Ayumu murmurs before working parts of his hair into makeshift hands that went about searching for one particular set: Weights. Once both ankle and arms were picked up, both were sets were offered up for Ei to take hold of. Interestingly enough, they seemed to weigh no more than feathers even if she were to put them on. Odd. But nothing too surprising considering who the gift giver was perhaps. "Meet your new frenemies.. frenenames… fre… ugh… companions?"

With a smile, the woman just observed him and any latent worry he expressed. Ei blinks when he pulls out some weights and she tilts her head a bit when they're offered to her. She does put them on, assuming they're rather pointless if she doesn't… and giggles at his reference to them. "This should certainly be interesting, then… I'm… not sure how I feel about them, honestly… They hardly weigh anything now, but… my muscles are not particularly strong, my dear."

Lingering confusion remains, but nowhere near enough to truly diminish the bright smile her giggling hand inadvertantly provoked. "I figured as much.. tho' no offense be meant by believing so." He chuckles weakly as sensors absently rolled into place closer to Ei, examining the weights to make sure they were firmly in place. "And truth be it that it is not strength that we seek, but energy reserves, stamina, if you will… Tho' a bit of added strength isn't a bad bonus in the grand scheme of things." Ayumu admits while a vague hand shaped bundle of hairs rub at the space between nose and lip. It continues on to make the odd off-handed gestures as Ayumu speaks. "But in any case, I should probably go on about explaining those things. Like, I don't know, the whole fact that there tricky little design tax your reserves in regards to excess roughly speaking. So while they don't weigh much now, the more excess you waste in one way or another, well…" He trails off from there, rotating the same fake hand as if to say "so on, and so forth."
"That said, until you are truly ready, this will be you're training exercise for now on… Now, let's get started in full."

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