Date: February 4, 2015
Applications for Kirigakure's first chuunin exams close and the event itself officially begins.
"First Kiri Exams - Commencement Ceremony"
The Boneyard Gardens
The boneyard gardens of Kirigakure have grown full of bodies and breath, a large crowd of the Land's citizens gathered together, sharing murmured anticipations beneath a crescent moon tinged orange by the first hints of dawn. It is the day that the Land of Water begins its first separate chuunin exams, something promised and soon to be delivered.
It would be an historic moment and the village proved to be full of those wishing to be a part of it — enough that they stood beneath the light March snow this morning, braving the cold, if infrequent gusts. The tiny snowflakes, a coldly delicate down, melted nearly just as soon as they touch the ground, the presence of so many keeping warmth here.
But that warmth would only be shared by spectators. They stood on either side of the northern entrance, stretching to and beyond the water fountain and the grass field that holds it. A path is kept clear from the entrance to the booth that lies beyond them, where exam officials await for the closing of application and the official start of the exam period. In ten minutes, the deadline would be reached and the Mizukage who stood behind them would declare the event's start.
Okumo Meruin surveyed the crowd, feeling the thrum of energy from those in the crowd who wished to watch and those in the crowd who hoped their kills would allow them to participate.
Extending out his right arm, Naoya's sleeve bucks with growth as spiders and silk rapidly move under his clothes mostly directly hidden. A mesh of white fiber coils around his throat and neck up to his hair line, pressing snuggly against his skin. 'Soon.. Things will really start.. soon' was softly said to himself. Rotating his shoulders slowly backwards, several pops could be heard as his spine is stressed and aligned more properly.
The young Okumo has arrived well before the appointed time and had simply waited, watching as the crowds swelled as well as others began to move closer to watch the exams begin. Making his way from the crowd, he soon positions himself to move towards the northern entrance of the gardens. 'Pests.. yes I know.. no.. not this time.. just, stay silent for now..' Naoya continuously mutters all the while his bright amber eyes dull to a lifeless state. The young teen seems to talk to someone with hushed whispers though he didn't stay near any one person long enough to hold a conversation.
The Kaguya pretty avoided the crowd below as she perched up in one of the trees that borders the Boneyard Gardens, as this would probably be the only way to actually see anything. Given her petite stature. Arms crossed behind her head, she rests and waits, bright aqua blue eyes glancing around the crowd to see who she can pick out amongst the villagers. Some of the faces belonging to shinobi were familiar, including that of Naoya and the Mizukage.
Tsubaki is here. With her parents, no less. What better way to be a part of Kirigakure than to watch their first official Chuunin exams? Tsubaki was dressed in a pale blue kimono today, her long black hair staying down so that its entire length falls just before her waist. She comes in and looks around the area curiously. It was odd to see so many people in this place. She often visited it after classes were released and they were allowed spare time… It was a good place to work on techniques, homework, and things to that nature. Neither Okumo nor Kaguya are noticed as they stay near the edges, as the young Shirayuki is smushed between her parents thanks to the crowds… So annoying.
Though Kiyoshi was one of those applicants awaiting to be called from the crowd, the man kept stayed at the outer fringes in the back. If ever asked why, he simply counters with not wanting to obstruct anyone's view. This, however, was a bold faced lie. His elder brothers knew the truth, but were also well aware how stubborn he can be. So, they made a point to stick closer towards the front and promised relay any announcements. The sentiment was appreciated but undesired. Unfortunately, they didn't allow him to get a word in before disappearing into the crowd.
A long, drawn out sigh escapes the Kirryu's lips, followed by a murmured, "Bothersome." Afterwards, he allowed his mind and senses to wander a little. A faint smile tugged at the edge of his lips upon catching sight of Yuriko. He caught wind of Tsubaki and Naoya not long after, though the latter with greater difficulty. There were far too many Okumo around for his liking…
Negative feelings are quickly cast aside as his casual observation became a dedicated search for a certain Shimizu…
Kiji stood front and center, her eyes golden and bright as she watched silently. The girl's appearance had changed recently and a few murmurs were heard behind her. The Shimizu's long black hair was no longer black, rather the white she was born with, a platinum very similar to Meruin's long hair tone. Only a few knew that she had started with white hair and Meruin was one of them. She stood, arms folded, but did not seem affected by the cold. Her forearms and ankles were covered with crimson coils, like crystalline decorations on her limbs, glistening in the matching moonlight.
Golden eyes flickered over the others around her but mostly they bored into Meruin's gaze (if ever he looked her way). There was a hardness there that was ever-lacking when she dealt with the Mizukage, but the mysterious Shimizu kept her silence and never quite crossed the line between bravery and arrogance. There was a hint of other flavors on her demeanor…. But it was hard to tell what exactly those were. Yuriko's position was noted but flatly ignored, a hint of irritation showing briefly on Kiji's lips. She could sense them all in the crowd. Kiyoshi.. Yuriko.. Naoya…. Tsubaki was mostly unknown to Kiji by name though she does recognize the chakra signature from around town.
She did not move, her long braid hanging down her back, her silken skirt and top marked with the Shimizu crest in white. Her golden eyes locked on the Mizukage. She was dead serious and it showed in her bright eyes.
Hayase is bundled up in a thick cloak when she walks in to the gardens. She comes later than most, glancing around to locate the other possible entrants. She laughs when she catches Naoya's eye, then turns to wave lightly to Yuriko. After that she pulls the hem of her cloak above her nose and waits for the ceremony to begin. The people coming seems to be slowing down, so Hayase moves to the edge of the dense crowd to see around the friends, family and comrades who've assembled, to see who might make the cut.
A towering figure of cobalt blue that looked far more like some creature than a man would be standing amongst the majority of the Kaguya presence at these exams. Though many may have no idea who he is, all that did recognize him would know him as Kaguya Enbu, the head of his clan. To his immediate right was Kaguya Yuuka and around him in general were the other notables and elders of the clan. They wore their clan best, even Enbu was dressed for this occassion, lavishly displaying the colors and patterns of the Kaguya. They were here to support this initiative, and display that they had faith in the proginy of their blood.
There are louder murmurs from those in the back by the northern entrance, a wave of noise and attention spreading from it as people begin looking backwards and noticing someone's entrance to the gardens. Fingers point to Hayase as she steps from the ivory skeletons, some excitement behind the rumblings of the people. As she moved away from the entrance, however, the attention stayed there, soon revealed to be directed at one who approached behind her.
Or, more specifically, at the kill they had coming behind them. Being drawn by a dozen horses was the corpse of an Avalanch Elephant atop a makeshift cart, it's heavy fur matted with blood, one of its mammothine tusks shattered. It was a truly huge creature, its weight measured in tons and its size in meters. It is an animal the Shirayuki's first Clan Head had once been known to have subdued and domesticated.
This made it of little surprise that the woman walking ahead of it was Shirayuki Kiari, a part of the royal family, her figure tall and proud as she strides through the open path from the entrance to the booth. She moves swiftly, knowing full well that she's cutting her application close. Part way through the Gardens, she speeds up into a jog, pacing over to the booth before speaking with the officials. She still stands there when Meruin's voice booms across the graveyard.
"KIRIGAKURE!" he called to his people.
Any chatter that was occuring within the Kaguya was immediately hakted not only by the Mizukage's announcement for attention, but the loud, snapping crack emitted from Enbu for any who dared to continue within his little section of the gardens. The sight of such a large beast stirred the blood, but control was necessary, especially and times like these. The Kaguya would listen to the Mizukage, was the simple message and perhaps not so veiled threat. Otherwise, Enbu remained still and silent as he observed the happenings.
'No.. Yes, from here.. Share' was softly said, and almost just as quickly several spiders crawl from the woven mesh of silk wrapping his neck. A trio of spider, two small though one was larger than a Ryo coin also crawled forth and quickly move into his pale gray hair. The pair of smaller ones were mostly unnoticed but the larger one stayed on display, looking around, sometimes rotated more than a full circle before settling down and staring in a direction. Naoya himself never turned away from looking impatiently towards the northern gate for 'something'. Then it happened, the Mizukage's voice was made loud and clear, and even though he prepared himself mentally, the young Okumo's posture tenses as does the silk that wraps him.
The waved arm catches her attention and Yuriko couldn't help but smirk slightly at her teammate. Freeing an arm from behind her head, she lifts a petite hand and waves lightly in Hayase's direction, returning her greeting. Her attention is quickly diverted however as people begin murmuring, the elephant being drawn in by several horses… The Kaguya girl arches a pale brow at this. Whoever killed that and submitted it for the chuunin exams clearly wanted to make a huge splash. The woman ahead of it however, Shirayuki Kiari, quickly moves ahead to the booth. "Hm." Yuriko doesn't even recognize her, but a Shirayuki could prove troublesome. She ponders this only briefly before uncrossing her arms and shifting her weight, smoothly rising to her feet to stand steadily on the tree branch, watching from her vantage point. Bright eyes is quickly pulled towards the Mizukage as he calls out.
It was not her exams, but perhaps it would be similar when it came to her time? Or perhaps it would be entirely different. Either way, there was something to be learned by paying attention. Not for the first time, she wished she was a genin. But then, not for the last time, she recalls how easy it would be to kill her. Tsubaki's attention was entirely on Meruin when suddenly… She blinks, green eyes focusing on the one who was entering most-impressively. A familiar face to the young Shirayuki, yet also one she did not know well. Her head dips lightly if the newest arrival's gaze falls on her, but otherwise she doesn't move. After a pause, she starts to regard Meruin again. 'KIRIGAKURE' he called out. Yes, she was part of that group…
Kiyoshi found her, more or less, and started to reconsider his earlier opposition to the idea of being more directly involved with the crowd when something gets his ears to twitch. He tried to ignore the sound, but once the smell of blood reached his nose, the Kirryu's curiosity gets the better of him. The lack of familiarity with the scent only he made him that much more curious, making him one of the first to note the late arrival.
Shirayuki Kiari. He recognized her thanks to his old hobby, though only vaguely. The same could be said of the beast she had carted in as well, if not for his interest in the latter being greater. The Kirryu cannot help but cross his arms over his chest, and eye the Shirayuki with suspicion instead of admiration as she proceeded onwards. There were far too many more likely variables involved that favored cheap means of bringing down the creature. But he dared not approach, yet, and any consideration to do so is drowned out by the Mizukage's words. He turns back again to observe.
Kiji glanced behind her as one of the 'royals' brought in a huge animal with fanfare. Typical, she thought. The Shimizu's jaw was already set or one might have seen it clench at the display. The Shirayuki clearly needed the attention of the entire village just to make her entry known. Kiji's eyes shifted to an orange tone like spiced pumpkin, partly shading into the reds as she turned her back on the approaching entrant. She refused to move aside and one of the horses snuffled her platinum hair as it strode by, straining. She turned her deepening gaze on the royal as Kairi passed her, meeting /her/ gaze as well. Kiji was being quite bold today. She looked away from the girl as she reached the table with the proctors to make her entry official. Red eyes back on Meruin. The closer she got to actual reds the colder and harder her jaw seemed to be.
When the shadow of the dead beast looms around her, Hayase turns around to take a look at the procession. She takes a sniff. There are the plants, the earth, and the smell of blood and fur. Hayase pats the flank of one of the horses burdening the load. Then steps out of the way to let them pass, while nudging a random bystander in the crowd and murmuring, "Guess this exam is an eating contest." She grins at the idea; that thing could feed the entire crowd assembled. The person doesn't seem to appreciate it, but Hayase is smirking anyway as Meruin greets the crowd. The elephant…what does he have in mind? She turns her attention to the Mizukage. She folds her arms beneath her cloak and taps a foot in anticipation.
The Mizukage stepped forward, approaching the booth and the crowd that stood beyond it. He was a slightly tall figure, standing at 5'11 in his body length robes of platinum silk. He made a purposeful sweep of all before him with eyes that were black, pupiless orbs, the pale mists within them slowly swirling.
He was not a man who needed any more extravagant a display than his own persona and he brought nothing more with him, the cyan symbol of Kirigakure glinting on his chest.
"It has come," he boomed.
"Today marks the day that we take full control of our development. The day we take full responsibility for our growth. It has been short-lived tradition that we send off our genin to distant lands to be judged by outsiders. To compete with those of average caliber and take home only the knowledge that we were already strong and there are those out there who do not yet know to respect that.
"Today marks the day we put aside those traditions and take up those that will carry us higher. /We/ will be the judge of our people. It is /we/ that will set the standard for what it means to be of superior caliber. There is true power here, Kirigakure. Today marks the day that we begin to tap it."
Meruin's gaze shifts, beginning to seek out specific people. "Chuunin Aspirants," he called out. "You stand at the cusp of a trial that will stretch the fabric of who you are. Pain is growth, and rest assured that this will hurt." Kiyoshi. "The each of you will roar..!" Kiji. "Many will bleed, and some shall cry." Naoya. "These tribulations will tear you, revealing what lies underneath to yourself and to me." Hayase. "You will show who you truly are…
Meruin's voice was powerful, asserting its dominion over the air that carried it. "And you will either be /strong/… or you will be broken, that you might be remade."
The Mizukage raised a hand, gesturing before him. "Come, those who I call. But do not step down that path if you are not ready. There will be no sympathy found beyond this morning." He paused a moment to allow that to sink in… Before beginning to list off the names.
"Hozuki Irasci. Touketsu Kon. Kichiro Meimei. Moto Kiyoshi." He glanced to the exam officials at the booth and received a nod. "Shirayuki Kiari." She'd made it. "Maki Hayase…" he continued.
Curling his fingers inwards, both his the Okumo's hands tense into tight fists that continues to shift beneath a thin fabric sheet of his clothing. When his name was called, the was only one thing said further 'Focus.. remember out goal here.. yes.. /that/.. sink deeply if I stray.. /all/ of you..' With that the muttering ends and his amber eyes fill with some color, but they were still dull. Naoya would not race forward but his pace was quick.
A quiet sigh escapes him as he makes his way forward. His amber eyes didn't look towards nor sought out others who were called, they were trained onto one person, the Mizukage, though he didn't look towards the man's eyes, but his chest, his head slightly lowered. The spiders that were once on Naoya's head are no longer seen save for the larger one which burrows into the back of his jawline before disappearing.
"Either be strong, or be broken…" Yuriko murmurs lightly to herself, repeating the words. It was a simple but powerful message that applied to all Kirigakure. Exhaling a longer breath, the petite Kaguya stretches her arms above her snowy head as she stretches her arms above her head. Silently she steps off the branch and falls several feet, landing in a slight crouch before righting herself. Not looking left or right at the crowd of people, she moves at a relaxed pace to the front of the line, stepping up beside Naoya. Smiling lightly Yuriko glances to the Okumo beside her and pats his shoulder, trying to get him to relax if only just a little bit.
Her green eyes look down towards Meruin as he speaks and shows off the contenders, noting that she knows a number of people participating. Hayase… Naoya… Yuriko… Kiji… Kiyoshi… 40 names altogether… She idly wonders who will end up surpassing who… Tsubaki then proceeds to ask herself how she would handle herself. A bit of daydreaming never hurt anyone, right? Well, depending on where, yes…. It very well could kill you. Once that little fade was done away with, she would start to examine some of the other participants as they walked along. Those she had already met… She had a feeling they would end up sweeping through the whole lot of them, but the other genin looked just as ready as they. Bloodlust. Concentration. Confidence…. Traits in your average Kiri-nin.
There's a subtle shift the Mizukage's word envoke that Kiyoshi — like few others in the crowd — notices at first. Kiyoshi may have gone on not noticing had the changes become so pronounced as to fill the air, blinding the Kirryu of almost all else. Fingers that had been pressed into his side rejected stillness down to the core. So, the changed, darkening and hardening into talons in one moment, only to revert a few seconds later as they idly rubbed against one another.
'Pain is growth, and rest assured that this will hurt.'
As the words played a second time in mind, Kiyoshi's fingers finally still. After a third time, his posture grew more rigid, the nervous sweat ends, and eyes lost all traces of their usual warmth and bemusement. Determination took their place for the moment, driving out all doubts and concern. So without hesitation, he stepped forward once his name is called, gently shifting those that were in his way until those before him seemed to sense his approach and stepped aside. Along the way he passes by Kiji and perhaps even Tsubaki, but his gaze never falters from his goal.
Kiji felt the shift in the air as Meruin spoke. If nothing else, she knew very well that he had a goft with the people. She met the swirling mists of his eyes head on as he spoke, promising pain, promising to break those who needed to be remade. She remained silent as he began to call off names. Kiyoshi was the first and her eyes darkened into a true crimson shade as she waited silently for her name. So many others came first. So this was how he was going to treat it? Meruin rarely did anything without reason and that included when he called forward someone's name….
Her eyes deepened further and much to the dismay of those near her, those coils crawled further up her arms like vines, sprouting thorns as they went. When her name was finally called forth, simply tossed in amongst other lesser known entrants, Kiji stepped forward, platinum head up and back stiff. She gave Meruin a look. At a glance, defiant, or perhaps annoyed? It could have been so many things, but most of all… it was cold. Her blood may have been heightened, her emotions pricked, but her actions were reptilian, calculating and …very very distant.
Kiji made a point of remaining strictly in the front of the growing crowd, off to one side from Naoya and Yuriko. The casual contact there was not unseen and her crimson eyes flicked to Kiyoshi for a moment before she folded her arms once more and turned her eyes back to Meruin. Pain he said. Pain? He of all people should know Pain meant nothing to her. The thorns on her 'vines dug deep into her skin and shimmered with new blood as they broke the skin, a challenge? A statement. Bring it. She would succeed… or die.
Hayase's hands are clenched till the knuckles are white as Meruin reads the names. She knows she had qualified, but there's always that small chance she failed. When her name is called Hayase lets out a whoop of joy before huffing in relief. She practically bounces onto the stage. Her composure returns as she listens to Meruin going down the long line of entrants in the Chuunin Exams. After the twentieth name Hayase begins to look down the line of people. Some are standing stiffly alone, others sizing up the competition, and still the names are listed on and on. After some time Hayase turns her attention from Meruin's words to the challengers lining up. Hundreds of people probably died for the sake of these exams, before it even began.
The memory of the final name echoed in the air…
Meruin was still and silent as the chuunin aspirants who'd made the cut made their way beyond the booth for the first time, assembling before him. His long platinum hair lifted itself from his back and began to braid itself, moving smoothly through the air as though guided by sure, invisible hands.
And then he addressed them.
"The each of you will have a seal placed on you for the duration of your participation in the exams. It is integral to the process. It will allow us to track you and to monitor your vitals but it will also be the source of many of your trials. In some instances, it may very well be the key. There is no way to participate without receiving it. Denying it is your last opportunity to walk away from the exams. If that is your choice, simply walk away when I call upon you."
The Mizukage pauses a moment before speaking once more, the force of his full attention nearly felt upon the skin. "This is your opportunity, genin. Now is your time, but only as you accept it. We will show you the way and give you the tools and put our hands at your back, but it is up to you to take the steps. To use those tools. To draw strength from these hands. I challenge you to do so. Show me that we of Kirigakure do not scream, but howl. Show me the steel of your bones and the life in your will. Show me the shinobi you will become. Show me the shinobi you are."
And with that, he raised a bladed hand, a trio of ANBU appearing swiftly at his side.
"Shirayuki Kiari," spoke the Mizukage, looking towards the young woman. "Stand and attend before these three and present your right fist." He watched as the Shirayuki hesitated before drawing up on her will and committing to her decision, stepping up to the ANBU operatives. She presented her right fist to them and soon… she let out a long hiss through clenched teeth. The masked shinobi flashed through handseals before each touching two fingers to the back of her hand, blackness almost seeming to leech from their fingertips into her skin…
And then it was done and Meruin inclined his head to her, gesturing for her to move off to the side. "Begin forming the platoon," he commanded, turning away as she took her position.
"Hozuki Irasci," he said, looking next to him.
One by one Naoya would watch as those before him and each one was branded. 'It's fine.. We're in control..' was faintly whispered off to the side, though his tension didn't ease much if at all. Looking down at his right hand, he removes his glove, revealing the intricate webbing hidden away but also several more solid plates shifting between the layers of silk. Raising his hand up to his mouth, the young Okumo uses his teeth to grip and then rip off a large patch, crewing the webbing that was removed before swallowing. Pale flesh is revealed and for once remains rather than quickly knitted over again.
"Okumo Naoya," was in turned called out and the eyes of the Mizukage was upon him as the others. The young teen steps forward and soon finds himself in front of the three ANBU members and extends his right arm, his fist never once loosening. When the brand was cooked into his skin, his arm tenses and his fangs are bares for a moment but then suddenly a a muted wave washes over him and he stills, regaining composure at the cost of 'something' moving within his arm as it settles again.
Once the mark was complete, Naoya opens his hand before tensing it again. The silken mesh that was shredded quickly recovered ,,and was made whole again, hiding his pale skin and the mark. Turning his attention towards the Mizukage, he would dip his head lightly before turning away to follow after those before him.
Glancing up at the regal Mizukage, Yuriko listens quietly as he begins to talk about seals being placed on them. A small amount of fear flickers in her eyes, but she quickly controls this while exhaling a slow breath through her button nose. Gaze flitting to the ANBU Black Ops members, she feels her jaw tighten subtly as she watches several others step up at the sound of their name and present the back of their right hand.
When her name is called, Yuriko shifts her weight and approaches the trio. Boldly she meets their eyes and presents the back of her tiny hand. As the mark is placed, the Kaguya doesn't flinch, doesn't move, she just stares at them as if daring to test her even further. After a long moment the mark is made, her fingers curl subtly before Yuriko turns and falls in line, hand disappearing under the enveloping sleeve of her winter kimono.
Tsubaki's green eyes are drawn to the ANBU when they appear so readily at the Kage's command. She watches as they make their way to the Shirayuki, unblinking when they place the seal on her hand. It's difficult to make out in the distance, but if she narrows her eyes, she can sort of see it. It's easier to watch as it gets closer to her. When it comes to Naoya, she no longer has to squint. His reaction to getting a seal was interesting… He seemed to tear into his skin, though it was not, upon closer observation. Silk… The girl blinks once, and the ANBU are onto the next few people. She recalls the brief meeting with Yuriko…. And she had seemed as young as her, yet is already entering the Chuunin exams? Tsubaki notes this, as well as the Kaguya's reaction to the seal. Was it because of her heritage or because of her own nature, was thought. But then she disappeared among the ranks, and Tsubaki just continued to watch, eyes resting on those she knew a bit longer than others. Those who stepped down were silently questioned. 'If you had doubts, then why did you come?'
Kiyoshi meant to keep his vision focused solely on the Mizukage since stepping forward. The Okumo deserved no less, though largely the compulsion came from what his words inspired within the Kirryu by words instead of rank. However, the insensitivity to his surroundings that came with it waned with time, and faster still as something 'other' worked its way into his conscious. He could've ignored it with some effort on his part, and yet refrained from doing so upon recognizing the source for what it was.
Kiyoshi managed to resist the urge to look long enough for Meruin to finish speaking of… seals. There isn't one part of him that did not loathe the thought of being branded again. This included he who played guest within, and whose growling stoked the flames of hatred that much further. Nevertheless, he turned just enough to give Kiji a sidelong glance, answering to lingering concern in hopes of distracting himself from what would soon follow. Though bemused at first, the Kirryu catches on quick and starts to nod faintly in understanding when his name is called. With a start, the moss-haired giant takes his place, removing the appropriate glove along the way.
Nothing in life or beyond it could prepare him for the complete and utter underwhelming sensation brought on by the process. It wasn't as if he felt nothing, but… He just didn't understand. Too curious for his own good, he kept looking back and forth between the masked shinobi creating the seal and the seal itself with simple-minded curiosity before his time is done. He is still idly looking the latter over as he followed the others until a nudge from within prompts him to look more professional.
Kiji watched the Royal be called forward first. It was with a none-too-small amount of pleasure she watched the girl flinch before the Mizukage as she received the Seal. Kiji was not like Naoya, Meruin, Hayase or Kiyoshi. She could not scent things but she could very nearly smell the first hints of fear wafting through the crowd. She turned her head, sending a look to Kiyoshi. It was a silent show of support and strength. She hoped he showed more mettle than the Royal had. And he was before her in the order.
The growing platoon ranks formed slowly but Kiji's eyes remained crimson. Naoya's reaction made her frown slightly. She had faced him a few times and neither of them had really held much back… Yet he showed this weakness? She shifted on her feet, trying to work through that confusion. How could he be powerful and as calculating as he was and still react so? She did not have long to ponder as another stepped forward and reacted even more openly. Kiji narrowed her eyes for a moment and regained her vision of control. She would ponder Naoya later, when the others were done humiliating themselves before Meruin.
Yuriko's firm reaction made Kiji's determination to do better even stronger. She felt the blood pumping within her chest and a pressure in her veins as she watched the little girl move to stand amongst the other genin. Kiji's eyes slid ever so slightly to the side and caught a glimpse of her Shimizu crest on the front of a kataginu.. Her eyes flitted up to the face of one of the clan elders no doubt and for just a moment their gazes met. His eyes flitted over her and then moved on to one of the other Shimizu as the genin — raised within the clan entirely — received their mark with a hiss of pain. Kiji's eyes narrowed and she glowered for a moment before turning back to the procession before her. By the end of this people would start wishing they had acted differently. (Perhaps even Kiji).
Kiyoshi's whole demeanor from his answering glance to the child-like wonder at the seal on his hand made her close her eyes for a moment lest she suddenly facepalm and destroy her facade… Well at least he wasn't upset by it…
When her name was called finally she stepped forward and with her right fist she gave a salute, fist over her heart then out, she held her fist still for the seal and turned her crimson eyes to Meruin as it was delivered. The pain was not inconsequential, but Kiji showed Meruin no pain, no hesitation… only a deepening crimson tone in her eyes. Naoya had been around her enough and Kiyoshi could probably scent that she was on edge, the pheromones within her blood gave off a touch of adrenaline and… a hint of budding anger.
Once the mark was laid into her flesh she turned and took her place, not even giving the mark another look, as though it did not sting, did not exist. Her head remained facing forward but her eyes flickered over each person as they received their marks.
Hayase blinks when they begin to brand each person with a seal. Then, she frowns. "For what reason?" she says. She seems lost in thought about it as her turn draws nearer. When it's her turn Hayase goes over, but hesitates to raise her hand up. She comments, "I don't like this." She doesn't raise her hand to be branded, and instead glances back to see how many people have refused to be sealed. So far, none. "Okay, okay, I'll get it." She reluctantly holds out her hand, and doesn't flinch when the brand is applied. She flexes her fingers, as if testing to see if her hand will explode.
Now with the seal on her Hayase mutters, "Next we'll have to bend down and touch our toes to qualify for entering the Chuunin Exams." Though she's not smiling or laughing like it's a joke. She goes to take her place.
"Platoon!" bellowed Meruin.
The Mizukage's gaze was given to each of those who had stood before his operatives and received the seal. Each received a nod, including Hayase, though her demeanor was not amusing. Both Naoya and Kiji received lingering looks for their own reasons, but those were already past times. In the here and now…
He surveyed the group he had left, gaze sifting among the ranks standing at attention. There were now 37, 3 already having opted out and deciding to leave despite the public nature of their quitting. The Mizukage did not blame them for their departures, however. It was well that they not go through this before it was time. His repeated acknowledgement of their opportunities to drop out was for just such a thing, regardless. Better that they were weeded out now.
With the command to salute delivered and followed, Meruin stood before the platoon, pressing his right fist over his heart in return salute. "We will now recite our oaths for the exams. In Cadence..!"
"My participation in the exams will bring honor to my village, my people, and myself. I will not attempt to influence the results of these exams through the usage of outside elements. I will persevere until I succeed or my will has been extinguished. I will not attempt to tamper with my seal. My application was killed by my own hand and power."
After this last line was spoken, the sound of torment took to the air.
"Rest!" called Meruin to the Platoon, allowing them to relax from their salute and attention, though not permitting them to leave their position. At the front of the Platoon, the first four were 4 on the ground, writhing in extreme pain.
"That feeling," the Okumo told them, "As though molten metal were poured in your bones. It is because you have lied in your oaths. Your ambitions are potent but misled. It is nothing to hold position without power behind it. You clearly do not believe yourselves strong enough to receive the position you desire; Your actions have proven you correct. The each of you are disqualified from the exams for falsifying your applications, the kills not your own."
In moments, the screams stopped, any caring to look able to see that the seals that were on their hands had vanished, apparently consumed by the act of torture. The ANBU who'd delivered the seals stepped up and collected the genin, taking them and their aspirations and vanishing into thin air.
Yuriko keeps a mental count of those taking up the seal and those that decide that it's best to fight another day. At least they are wise enough to realize they are not ready for the tribulations and place the village before themselves. The honorable thing to do. She watches three for a lingering moment out of the corner of her eye before returning her gaze forward again, standing straighter and crossing her fist over her heart in a salute.
"My participation in the exams will bring honor to my village, my people, and myself. I will not attempt to influence the results of these exams through the usage of outside elements. I will persevere until I succeed or my will has been extinguished. I will not attempt to tamper with my seal. My application was killed by my own hand and power." Yuriko repeats the words without hesitate, though hearing the cries of agony her bright eyes blink with surprise. Those that had falsified their kills… How could they? How could any shinobi do such a thing to their village? They brought dishonor to themselves. Ahead of her four had collapsed from the pain, and the Kaguya girl has to suppress a slight smirk when she sees the Shirayuki collapse as well. Seven down, thirty-two to go.
Tsubaki presents the salute in her mind. It was those before her that were ordered, and she didn't want to distract those around her from the 'ceremony'. She watched, reciting the words in her head as the Mizukage spoke them. Would it be like this for her own? was wondered again. Then screams of pain, or maybe it was simply the motion of writhing that drew her attention first… She looked upon those who were now on the ground, confused briefly as to why. Did someone poison them somehow? The answer was quick to come from the Mizukage, and his explanation made the Shirayuki grimace a bit. The fact that Kiari was one of the ones to fall made her that much more disgusted. Her parents had the skill to keep their faces neutral, but her own showed a tightening of her jaw, this time actually visible.
It sadly takes a half-second longer than the others for Kiyoshi to snap to attention, but he manages to cast his fascination nevertheless. During that time three have already opted out of the exams, cementing their weakness in the eyes of most of their peers. The Moto had belonged to the minority, though the exact reason 'why' escaped him. He blinks away the faint memory of their passing, and salutes as bid.
"My participation in the exams will bring honor to my village, my people, and myself. I will not attempt to influence the results of these exams through the usage of outside elements. I will persevere until I succeed or my will has been extinguished. I will not attempt to tamper with my seal. My application was killed by my own hand and power."
He spoke the truth without hesitation or doubt in mind. While Kiyoshi may have not been entirely proud of one of his kills, the rest more than made up for it in his heart. Besides that, there was a valuable lesson learned as well. He is drawn from introspection the moment the cries of agony hit the air. He needed not even lean over to see for himself that a certain Shirayuki was no longer standing.
What follows afterwards doesn't fully register to the Kirryu, because it takes every ounce of willpower in his body to resist bursting out laughing at the Shirayuki's failing. He just… Spite was apart of his nature. A part he endeavored to suppress since obtaining friends, but always lurking beneath the surface. So, when combined with years of suppression on top of being right — it was just too much! He bites down hard on his lips and tries to appear pensive about the proceedings by covering his mouth as he scratched at his chin. Unfortunately, his trembling body and the tears building in the corner of his eyes give away much. Kokuo wasn't much help as well. He tried to help, but bouts of snickering and explosive snorts kept interrupting the beast's words.
Kiji lifted her fist to the salute position and recited the oath with a strong but still cold voice. Her eyes narrowed as that final statement flowed from her lips. The thought of falsifying such a thing had never occured to the Shimizu, was that odd? She'd noted Meruin's attention had finally found her for a moment earlier, but now? His eyes were on the platoon as a whole. So when he allowed them to relax, she thought little of it.
She knew there had to be something about those seals besides just monitoring their vitals. If someone died here, Kiji doubted they would be long mourned and certainly they would not have their names placed in the place of honor by the fountain. But she had nothing to hide about her application offerings either. Crimson eyes seemed to glow as the four pathetic entrants fell to the ground in shrieks of pain. Meruin's words and intentions built into the seals made her look to him rather than finish watching the morons on the ground. She was no stranger to the way the Mizukage operated. She had seen much first hand from him. Still, the public torture of a child for the sin of lying to their Kage was a touch further than even she was used to seeing.
That the Royal Kairi fell to the seal's venom, though finally brought a hint of a smirk to her lips. The bloodlust showed then in her crimson eyes like flowing blood, in the orange ring around each iris, She openly enjoyed that moment of Her Highness's screams, though her eyes never left Meruin.
She could hear Kiyoshi struggling to remain silent and her smirk grew even more.. She could sense that many of those gathered enjoyed those cries a bit more than they would like to admit….
Hayase forgets about the seal as they chant their pledge to the village. Upon finishing the final words, Hayase blinks when people start dropping around her. She looks at the people who are now on the ground in pain, and she actually smiles. That was a very clever way to weed out the fakers. It's a good thing it doesn't take lateness into account. She looks down at the seal on her hand. "This is quite the technique," she says admiringly, never mind the unfortunate cheaters being dragged away. In the end she does give them one parting glance. Hopefully they're not treated too severely.
Now that she knows the intention of the mysterious seal, Hayase seems far less sullen. She even glances around to make sure her teammates didn't collapse on the ground. Though the idea itself is enough to make anyone laugh. Her two comrades, too gentle to take a life?
"Enough words have been said."
Meruin addressed the group as a whole, though Kiyoshi received a sidelong glance that did not speak of pleasure. "You know your course by this point; Now is the time to act upon it. The each of you have things to prove. Do not believe that you will become a chuunin because of your mentor, your skill with a blade, or the time you've spent as a genin. Be your best or you may find yourself failing where you may have passed. What I await for is the opportunity to claim you victorious.
"Give it to me."
With those final words, the Mizukage inclined his head to the ensemble of genin and turned around, vanishing before his back was fully turned to them. This was taken as a sign for a man at the booth to take charge, the shinobi calling out to them, saying, "All Chuunin Aspirants, follow me. I will take you to your barracks and explain to you the rules."