Date: September 27, 2014
Meruin's shadow clone training continues.
"Meru's Shadow Clone Training 2"
Within the Dark Caverns
Meruin appears from the darkness, form lit by the ring of torches.
The Mizukage once more found himself within the depths of the Dark Caverns that were home to both his clan and myths akin to nightmares. And, though not many outside of Okumo would know, truths akin to nightmares.
But though there was darkness beyond the influence of the circle of fire, there were no demons hiding within them — not in this place. This place was chosen for learning. For pain and, perhaps bloodshed in the name of progress, not fear or harm. In this underground grotto, he would train to continue on his path towards mastery of shadow clones.
He awaited his teacher, listening to the sound of the bottomless waterfall.
Giroshi had waited in the shadows the last time they met here, and this time he did so again, but not on the ceiling. Rather simply leaning against the wall as he awaited his student. The barrel-chested Okumo watched Meruin enter, implacable and calm as ever. He stood up deliberately from the wall and stepped into the circle of light, nodding his head to Meruin in greeting before taking his place before the Mizukage.
"Last time I told you to practice. Show me the fruits of that labor." He did not waste any time on pleasantries. There was a war going on and there was little time to spend on frivolous things. The elder man folded his arms, his one visible eye watching Meruin closely….
Meruin inclines his head to Giroshi as the man steps into the light of the flame, the gesture one of greeting. It tilted and deepened slightly at the command, adding an air of agreement to it.
The Mizukage's hands sifted through the handseals for the shadow clone technique, the movements far more fluid than they had been in the previous session. In a moment, a copy of himself came into being beside him — identical in every apparent way, from pore size to confident aura. "I have not mastered the technique," he said, despite the clone's creation.
A figure falls from the shadowed ceiling, landing a few yards behind Giroshi. "But I have improved," spoke the clone.
Giroshi watched the hand seals Meruin went through with a watchful gaze. His form was well done, though as he said, he had not mastered it. There was an appraising look at Meruin as the clone came up behind him, but otherwise Giroshi did not react. His one crimson eye bore into Meruin's with an air of superiority.
Suddenly a hand came out of the shadows at the second clone's back, entering from the shadows to strike the clone's spine just below the skull. Another hand came out, delivering a swift and damaging blow to the clone's spine. Pain yes, but also a test of speed and endurance.
The Giroshi in the circle, arms still crossed spoke. "You have improved, yes but you're still missing the nuance in that final seal." He formed the seal in question, just a slight variation on a basic seal. It was a significant change, but it was close enough to the base seal that it would be simple to fall back on that. "Again."
The Kage-clone that'd dropped behind Giroshi whilrled around as a hand leaves the thick shadows towards him, his arms crossing as he crouched and took the blow with his forearms. It didn't survive past the moment of contact, the hand thundering through the clone smoke.
Meruin made no comment as he was told to try again and banished the shadow clone that stood beside him. It was useless, anyway. Rather than all three of them sharing equal portions of the man's chakra, he'd retained half and the other two had shared what was left — thus the lack of resiliency.
He canted his head slightly, examining the superiority glinting in the man's eye. The Mizukage began to wonder if, perhaps, the man's becoming an elder within the clan was a mistake. If, perhaps, Giroshi would have to be removed, hinting as he was at such small-mindedness.
But there were no words. Only handseals, extended time on the final seal, and the creation of another clone before he awaited further instruction.
Giroshi watched Meruin closely. The clone that he had dispelled with the attack had been unbalanced if it could not take a proper strike. He stepped into the circle of light next to his clone that Meruin had looked to get behind. He was silent for a moment as he watched Meruin who was basically watching him in return. There was a sharpness to Meruin's gaze that he made note of, then set aside. Now was not the time to be concerned with his pupil's anger.
A long moment passed in that silence and then passed. He dispelled the clone and wet through several hand seals, pulling three large boulders up out of the cave wall, setting them at equal distance apart. "You have shown you can create two. Do so again but be very specific about splitting your chakra evenly. You will attempt to lift these boulders, you and your clones." If a clone did not have enough power put into it it would not survive the labor.
Meruin watches closely as Giroshi goes through his handseals after banishing his clone, the mists of his eyes a mix of slowly swirling greens and purples. As the huge stones — Boulder training. Classic — are taken from the wall and placed within the ring of torches, the Okumo lifts his chin slightly.
He listens to his instructions and, soon, nods at them. In one sense, it would make more sense to start with one and simply work one's way up. But even a clone of his with insufficient chakra should be able to lift one of these boulders, unless he shortchanged it by an inexcusable amount. In this way, needing to make two clones, the range of his leeway is greatly reduced.
So he made the handseals, fingers fluid in their motion, before bringing another shadow clone into being with the final tiger seal. The trio stepped up to their respective boulders, preparing to undergo the exercise.
Giroshi stepped back a single pace, giving Meruin a bit more room and folded his arms across his barrel chest once more. His single eye watched like a hawk as Meruin lifted his chin. Would the boy argue with him? Such training was basic, yes, but useful. He had not compressed the stones nor made them more dense for this exercise, though if the boulders proved too inadequate a challenge he could do so, but he was unsure how much actual physical strength the Mizukage had. It was not uncommon for a ninjutsu user to lack in physical strength or tai ability and Giroshi did not have access to Meruin's vital statistics. He nodded to the clones and Meruin himself to begin, watching carefully to judge the clones' quality.
Meruin's fingers — from the each of them — press against the stone of the boulders. The digits are thrust into it with sudden, simultaneous jerks. Breaths are released… Steps back…
The three suddenly crouch and lunge forward, giving grunts as they push power through their bodies in a fluidly curving motion, heading downwards, then forwards and up. They lift the boulders, two of them doing so with difficulty but without substantial pause. The last, however…
The boulder had gotten off of the ground. But with shaking arms and a veined neck, the stone's motion had stalled before them and held there as the two others let their boulders drop from over their heads. They turned silent eyes on him, waiting for the moment…
He let out another grunt, jaw clenching and slowly lifted the boulder higher until it was held overhead and his arms locked. After holding it just long enough for success to be determined, he stepped back and essentially let it drop, barely avoiding it.
Ragged breaths left him as the trio turned to look to Giroshi.
Giroshi watched as Meruin and his clones thrust their fingers into the stones before smoothly lifting them above their heads. All but one. The Okumo Elder watched as that one displayed difficulty in performing the task set to him. His single eye remained on that one, silent as he persevered, finishing the task finally, before dropping the boulder with a loud crack. They all turned to him.
Giroshi remained quiet for moment, studying Meruin as he breathed heavily. Perhaps he had put too much of his chakra into the clones, or perhaps he was expending too much chakra through the exercises already. Either could end their session today, but which was the truth? That was important. Giroshi shifted into a militaristic at-ease stance and tilted his head a bit, his tone neutral as he queried, "Are you growing tired, Mizukage, or was your chakra distribution unbalanced?"
There's a small ripple along the length of Meruin's face, heading upwards and disappearing into his hairline. He straightens himself up, hair snapping straight with the sound of water sprinkling on the ground beneath.
"It was a mistake in chakra distribution," he conceded, briefly rolling a shoulder. "In my desire to succeed, I had overcompensated and lent too much chakra to the clones." He looks to the two clones, arching a brow. One shook his head, the other gained the subtle hint of a smile and simply returned the stare.
The true Meruin nodded and dispelled the pair, looking to Giroshi. "Shall I try again?"