Date: January 30, 2015
Enbu tasks Kiyoshi with the hunting down exotic beasts in the Blood Marshes. The task is meant as much to bring in something for a grand feast for Kirigakure's first chuunin exams, as well as to obtain the means to enter the exams. Kiyoshi learns the hard way how truly dangerous comfort and confidence can be…
"First Kiri Exams - Feasts & Beasts"
Land of Water - Blood Marshes (Various Sections)
Questions were asked, solutions given, but not once did Kiyoshi offer a
complaint or try to shirk his duty to the village. And why should he? The
mission — the challenge set by a Clan Head, Kaguya Enbu, provided just
the opportunity to obtain his tickets into the exams. A matter the Kirryu
had been troubled by for days since the rumors of his peers exploits
reached his ears. There existed a part of him that worried that his
mission would still pale in comparison. His targets were beasts, not men
or women. He was also given three handicaps. One free hour before the two
day time limit began. The requirement of only needing to bring down one of
the five targets listed under the mission heading. And lastly, the
potential aid of a superior should the need arise.
Though, he did have his doubts regarding the last one, seeing as how
Kaguya were not known for "coddling" the weak. It would not be until the
youth engaged his first target that he began realize certain truths….
«One Hour Later…»
Dead-Eyed Piranha. Boat Eater Snake. Ape Prime. Mist Shadow. Albino
Alligator. With the exception of two, Kiyoshi discovered enough traces
regarding the others to observe each for a short time before moving on.
Lingering, as he observed at one point during the hunt, usually ended
badly for those that entered the territory of the apex predatory for that
area. Even without such a danger to worry about, the Blood Marsh housed
plenty of other dangers in the form of both animals and the swamp itself.
All it would take is one error on his part and the mission would be over.
As if to nail this point home, Enbu disappeared during the hour. While he
doubted the man was overtaken by the swamp or left it for that matter, the
fact that he chose to offer not even the slightest bit of comfort by
remaining in sight was proof enough that no aid would be forthcoming,
asked or otherwise.
Kiyoshi gritted his teeth, tightened his grip on the single cleaver in
hand, and narrowed his eyes. The actions serve to reaffirm the man's will,
as well heighten his anticipation. Soon after, his breathing and heart
beat slows, drawing closer to the stillness that surrounded the area.
Slowly, the trepidation that the critters of the marsh wanes to the point
that once more the place is filled with ambient noises. Kiyoshi dared to
smirk, realizing in hindsight that it wasn't just enough to be covered in
the filth that made up the marshes. He had to match its rhythm. At least,
that is how he chose to read the situation before allowing his focus to
zero in on a nearby hummock.
Calling it a hummock was something of a misnomer. The upraised earth
formed a miniature mountain that threatened to overtake the trees if piled
any higher. Truthfully, no trail led him to this place. It just… 'felt'
right. A safe harbor for a reptile to wait out the colder months in peace.
Spring was well upon the land. Still, if his luck held, the Boat Eater
Snake would still require some time to truly thaw out. If nothing else,
its borrow wouldn't provide it the room to coil about him… not that
/that/ was his biggest concern, but it one less problem was better than
having many. Not a critter was disturbed, or a solid trail left in the
man's wake as he leaped from one tree to the next, circling the hummock
until he found…
»Day 1 Cont.«
The thought is swiftly followed by bare feet touching down on a low
hanging tree branch. Several hundred meters away loomed just the sight the
Kirryu had hoped (and dreaded) to find. He remains perched only long
enough to survey the area before climbing his way down. Now all that
remained left to do was cross an open, soggy terrain without giving the
snake cause to leave its burrow to investigate. That is if he wanted to
keep one of the few advantages fate allowed him. By the half way point,
Kiyoshi's swelling confidence in the plan sinks fast at the sight of
movement from the borrow. He freezes in place reflexively, and would've
remained that way for however long it took to be assured the snake wasn't
responding to his presence. But of course, things do not proceed as
Its head just starts to rise above the ground after leaving the burrow
before Kiyoshi is able to summon the courage to move. And moved he did.
Even with the wetlands beneath his feet threatening to trip him up every
step of the way, a modified version of the water walking technique allows
the moss-haired giant to leap onto the snake's belly. Knowing that in
another moment or so his safe harbor would be compromise, no time is
wasted on hesitation. From the moment he righted himself, the man becomes
a living blur of motion. One that unerringly races up along the still
drowsy snake until he reached the top of its wide head. If he had a mind
to at the time to ponder, Kiyoshi would realize with greater clarity how
it got its name. Unfortunately for the snake, all he cared for upon
reaching his destination is hacking his way inside its skull. No matter
how much it thrashed in pain, the Kirryu is not dislodged for even a
moment. In short amount of time he even manages to use the random motions
to his advantage to deepen his blows.
To and fro, the cleaver moved, singing a song of death in place of its
wielder's own voice. In a matter of minutes the Kirryu has managed to
'burrow' deeply into its skull and grey matter, wisdom reaching the snake
too late. Had it charged through the trees or slunk its way back inside
then it might've been able to fight back properly instead of meeting a
grisly end. Well after the battle has been won, the hacking kept going
until the demand for fresh air drove the man to focus. He climbs out of
the skull a gore covered mess. Still, he is unharmed, marking a promising
Now, it was time to go fishing…
»Day 1 Cont.«
Painful and Tedious. Two of the best words Kiyoshi could attribute his
dealings with the Dead-Eyed Piranha. The hunt for the fish was also a test
of patience. One he had failed miserably in the end. Had the Jinchuuriki
not feared wasting too much of his partner's chakra in the process of
fishing, boredom would've been the only downside. Instead, around the
thirtieth mark, the tail he manifested to act as both bait and line is
reigned in for the more direct approach. Armed with nothing but his body
and vines, Kiyoshi dives head long into the river that flowed through the
Blood Marsh's Black Forest.
Night will have long since fallen before the struggle ends. Many a fish
parts drift lazily down river as the man crawled out of the river,
dragging behind a trail of seemingly endless bodies. It took more tries
than he cared to count to properly slay the fish without damaging the
bodies too much, or allowing their comrades to consume their fallen. His
blood as well as the piranha coated every inch of exposed skin. Since
leaving the river Kiyoshi has been virtually completely surrounded by
steam. The injuries he sustained… even without them, he risked infection
that could very well kill him regardless. With the last of his strength
for the evening, Kiyoshi forced himself through the motions of sealing his
catch in the specialized scroll given to him by Enbu. Through trial and
error he was gradually getting the technique down. One hundred and forty
seven were in stock now. Realizing this, Kiyoshi takes one last lengthy
look at the river before snorting derisively and passing out on the spot.
He'd catch last ten in the morning…
By midday things became progressively easier in a matter of speaking.
Without even realizing it, Kiyoshi lost himself to a sort of primal
rhythm. Track. Observe. Retreat. Feed. Relieve. Rest. Hunt. Kill. Rest.
Repeat. In some ways, Kiyoshi grew confident. Reckless. Evading death that
would've fell even him by mere inches taught him almost as much as it
excited him. Life was so very simple. Dangerous, but so uncomplicated. His
instincts to protect tenaciously clung to his being, prompting him to take
risks. He learned quickly after the third call to his doom to truly be
cautious, and even then, weigh the worth of the life he intended to snatch
from the jaws of death. Everything within the marshes had its defense
mechanism no matter how small or innocent it —
The sound of snapping bone fills the area. If the air had not been robbed
from his lungs in the first place, Kiyoshi may have very well cried out
from pain. As things stood he did not have the luxury of voicing his pain,
nor tried to even after refilling his lung full of air. For a few moments
the Jinchuuriki had allowed introspection to override survival instincts. A
mistake he could ill-afford making again in the middle of a fight with his
latest mark: the Albino Aligator. It stood twenty stories high. Explosive
speed and strength were at its beck & call. Intelligent, or at least, more
so than the beast he's faced before. Unlike its smaller cousins, the
reptile hardly relied on ambushes, nor did it need it. Its thick
armor-like hide and great size made it king of its territory by default no
matter where it chose to reside within the swamp. Well, so as long it did
not wander into an area a Boat Eater Snake resided during the warmer
»Day 2 Cont.«
Growling from behind gritted teeth, Kiyoshi pried an arm free, then
another, blissfully unaware of the fact that his adversary had turned
about by then and saw the action. Why it waited so long was a mystery
destined to go unsolved by the Kirryu. He only knew that by the time he
started working his other hand free of the tree he had been embedded in
before by a tail whip, the monster had grown tired of waiting, and was
well on its way towards him. There would be no stopping its charge. There
would be no last minute savior for him before the day was out as far as he
knew. Still, Kiyoshi does not falter in his attempt to free himself until
he heard the tall tale crunching sound of splintering wood.
Hesitation brought on by fear nearly does the Kirryu in then and there.
But a chance look followed by the realization that the tree would hold the
jaws back for a few moments more provided the spur the Jinchuuriki truly
need to break free and drop to the ground. The fall jar his injuries.
Kiyoshi sees spots as he stumbles away. By some brilliant miracle only the
splintered chunks of wood continue to assault the Kirryu as he made good
his escape from beneath the reptile before it wised up, halted its death
grip bite, and free the weakened tree to fall on its own accord. Kiyoshi
is by far still too close for comfort and without a weapon to pierce the
gator. The only thing that came close, his cleaver, was either still
lodged in the gator's back or lost somewhere in the marshes by now.
He tried circling it other to take advantage of its size, hacking away
at the armor (like a fool, in hindsight), and even lashing out at its
senses. All of which ended in some form of failure. By now he would've
called upon his Bijuu for assistance. Sadly, he underestimated the toll
paid to survive against the Dead-Eyed Piranha the day before. Any further
assistance on the Bijuu's part beyond basic shape-shifting and keeping his
carcass together was ill-advised by Kokuo.
Despite all that and more Kiyoshi did not face the albino with the
scared look of prey frozen by fear. He dared to glare at with dark, worn
out eyes a cornered rat. One so driven by desperation that it would gladly
leap into the jaws of its predator if it meant clawing its devour to
pieces from the inside on the way down. Even when it becomes clear the
gator sensed as much from him and hesitated, Kiyoshi refused to take hope.
Hope was for idealist to cling to, optimist to share, and pessimist to
tear down. In a strange way he felt none of that. He only wanted to kill
the thing that stood before him. Anything else could come after.
Thoughtlessly, Kiyoshi growled, challenging the beast to try and kill him
anyways. Why should it fear what remained an overlarge insect that aspired
to actually try to kill it before?
It charged towards him. He waited. It leaped. Kiyoshi ran forward, then
did so as well. It was all in the timing. Kiyoshi ripped through the
softer underside like it was tissue paper. He was a man possessed,
ripping, tearing, chewing, and shredding his way inside until the only
tremors he felt were those in its arm. With a great deal of difficult,
Kiyoshi found a way out, sealed the creature in one go this time, then
thoughtless turned to find some place to rest. He survived, so the cycle
was to continue. Despite every, single, harsh lesson grounded into the
Kirryu's brain, he allowed something as "silly" as fatigue to blind him of
their approach. He was offered no honorable warning, much like the B.E.S
in the beginning, beyond that brief instance in which his body register the
fact that something had made contact with the back of his head.
The examiner's looks was dubious. Kiyoshi… could not blame. He stood
before him in little more than white furred loin cloth, a leaf cap, a
heavily chipped cleaver strapped to his side using some sort of makeshift
belt of vines, a back-up supply pouch hanging off that same belt, a
necklace carrying with a bestial finger attached to it, and finally a
furry white tail that occasionally flickered behind him. Then, there was
the giant blue man that could very well be easily mistaken for an ogre
looming behind him, more or less. That is it. After the passing of a long,
awkward silence, Kiyoshi finally broke it with a sigh. Wordlessly, the
moss-haired jungle man passed along four scrolls. A mission scroll to
confirm his assignment to the Blood Marsh, and three out of the five
listed offerings for the feast.
One of the signatures on the mission scroll more than anything elicits
an almost startled look from the from the man, followed by belated
recognition of the man standing behind Kiyoshi. The examiner quickly turns
his gaze back to examining the other scrolls, and after a few moments, he
blanches. "There's… One hundred and fifty eight?" The examiner asks.
Kiyoshi nods solemnly. "I.. Mm… One for confirmation and remain with
examiner." The man simply shakes his head in lingering disbelief.
Following another moment of silence, all but the scroll containing the
fish was passed back Kirryu with the understanding that would be delivered
later to the appropriate cooks.
Kiyoshi curtly bows in appreciation, then turns on his heel and takes
his leave. Despite the weird looks given along the way, or how much the
body ached, the youth was determined to see the entirety of the mission
through. Rest could come just as soon as both body and mind were too
exhausted to think about the past two days. Until then however, Kiyoshi
would continue to absently toy with his new charm: the finger of a
Ape-Prime. The creature that had ambushed him, turned his own tactics
against, and ultimately… got away with his old two charms in exchange
for a finger.
"Just you wait.." He muttered grimly under-breath, clenching the charm