Date: September 17, 2014
Eremi meets Meruin for a testing of sorts to see if he is worthy enough to be allowed to accompany Renai until his debt is repaid.
"Proving ones worth"
Ruins deep within the hidden oasis
Meruin stands at the center of a city of lifeless stone, its body decaying as those of its past inhabitants have long before. Rain fell about him, coating him and all about in a thin veneer of light and liquid, stealing whatever warmth spring would have given this place. The sun was dying, already halfway buried within its age old grave, the horizon accepting it as it always has.
It was this time that the Okumo had chosen to meet with one he had cause to test — one who would take on the role of unofficial caretaker for the bearer of Kirigakure's newest Kekkei Genkai. Very soon, the man should come to meet him at the behest of his summons. Very soon, he would know just what mettle his shinobi was placing her trust in and just how much trust he, in turn, should grant the man. Very soon, a choice will be made between two paths that head in very different directions, destinies chosen.
He waited for the time.
A slow approach would be taken as Eremi made his way through the ruins of the past. Being forced into a situation he had no desire to be a part of gave him little reason to hasten and arrive at the scheduled meeting place any earlier than necessary. Strolling through the grounds, Eremi couldn't help but think what had happened to this place to leave it in such disrepair. Many similarities though he find between this place and his own life. A smile would appear, barely visible with the fading light.
When Eremi reached the location, he'd stop several yards from the Mizukage, a look of discontent taking over his face. At this point, he wasn't sure what to do. Should pleasantries be exchanged or should he not speak until spoken to. Gingerly the man brought a hand through his long, wet hair before offering a nod, "Mizukage."
Meruin's chin lifts, gaze settling on the man's distant form. He watched; He waited as Eremi grew larger, passing through the rubble of an abandoned city, thinking of the rubble of a life still being lived. Soon enough, the man of history stood before him and gave greeting.
The Mizukage inclined his head respectfully, giving greeting in return. "Fair tidings, Satonezu Eremi. I do hope, truly, that the day has seen you well. If I am not mistaken, you have been short of pleasant days of late.
"I will deal with you in honesty this evening," he spoke, "As I prefer to belay subterfuge and I believe the same is true for you." Black eyes filled with blue mists, they're direct. "I cannot say that this day will end as a pleasant one. You wish to protect Renai no Kirigakure until you feel your debt paid and I wish to see her protected. She is valuable to the village as the bearer of a new Kekkei Genkai. Moreover, she is simply good and undeserving of an ill fate.
"So, I will protect her." He gestures towards the man, "If you perform well, then I will protect her by you. If you do not, I will protect her from you. This means that if you fail, through loss or refusal, you will either leave the Land of Water and my genin behind of your own volition, or I will kill you. So you have a choice.
"Do you fight or do you leave?"
Eremi stood and waited, listening to what the Mizukage had to say. To the first part, a shrug was offered along with a few fleeting words, "Comes with the territory." To the rest, he had much to say, but held back his tongue. There was much of what the Mizukage said, but little of it did he actually believe. What the other wished to protect wasn't the girl as a person, but a girl as a weapon. All for the village he controls. At least how Eremi saw it and he could understand the reasoning behind such, but he could not respect it.
Furrowing his brows at the choices given, it seemed diplomacy takes a back seat to violence as of late. Unfortunately, he couldn't simply walk away. Especially not with hearing Meruin refer to Renai as 'his genin'. A tool was all she was in Kirigakure. Different village, same beliefs.
Taking in a deep breath, he reached for the gourds strapped to his sides, plucking them free from his sash and letting them drop near his feet. "It seems…" Slowly he'd start to undo the buttons of his uniform before removing the tattered shirt and allowing it to drop as well. Revealed beneath was a torso weathered and covered in scars, but also thoroughly defined. Shifting his feet, one in front of the other and turning his body to the side, a hand would lift in front of him. "I must fight to protect what I care about."
Meruin inclines his head to Eremi at his final words, the gesture speaking of acceptance and respect and true greeting — now between combatants, embodying these things, one and all. The moment where destinies were decided drew closer still, and would arrive swifter as the man's heart grew swifter with battle adrenaline, and the test began in earnest.
The Mizukage's clothing seemed to draw in on itself, the robes shrinking in size until they lay flat against the man's form — a battlesheathe. If there had ever been any doubt that the man was one of war, a weapon, then this sight would dispel it. His body was as well honed as any of the seven swords, nearly all of the lines in him sharp and stark, muscles visibly shifting in every moment that took him into his starting stance: Body straight, heels together, arms held out on either side of him in a position any fighter would decry.
Eremi watched the Mizukage, examining the movements being taken. He had expected Meruin to strike first, but the honor was his. It wasn't unexpected, but it wasn't desired either. Again though, what choices did he have. Being given the signal to attack, Eremi remained where he was, listening to his surroundings. He was waiting for a precise moment before deciding to go ahead. There was nothing of the other that was given away, however. Nothing that lent itself as an advantage Eremi could take.
Realizing any advantage he would be looking for would have to be made by his own hands, Eremi suddenly charged the Mizukage. It was a straight forward attack, one that could easily be avoided, but he kept his direction nonetheless. When only a few feet away, he'd jump into the air with a succession of kicks meant to get beyond the mans guard. Whatever that may be. Once landing a couple jabs followed.
A straightforward attack indeed.
'It suits him,' thought Meruin as he evaded the flurry of kicks with simple backpedalling, arms still outstretched. Always, he remained out of reach, the jabs finding only air as the man's head slid to the side of one or jerked backwards just far enough to leave an exact inch between fist and nose. His hair rose, writhing behind him as his body converted its physical stamina into an energy far less corporeal.
He chose, thus far, not to attack back, ever watchful.
Each attacks missing came to no surprise to Eremi. He was fighting an individual of Kage level and to even assume he could compete with someone of that caliber in his current state would be a fools dream. He, of course, could always get lucky, but it would be nothing more than that unless he was willing to use techniques that are for the protection of himself or others. Thinking about it though, that was exactly what this fight was about…
Again, Eremi would rush toward Meruin, another leap in the air followed by one kick and then another. Were they to hit or not, didn't matter for they were merely distractions. The moment he touched the ground he had attempted to disappear. Naturally if his distracting kicks did hit, that'd be cool too.
As Eremi's flashed legs in, Meruin's arm lashed out, a moment of darkness striking between them, long and thin and solid, stemming from the Mizukage's hands to deflect the two kicks off target. After his opponent twisted into a landing and subsequently vanished, the Okumo lowered his hands down to his sides.
He cants his head.
"You have not forgotten all of your Satonezu heritage," are the words he suddenly spoke from within the building Eremi had attempted to secret himself. He rushed forward, lashing out with a side kick designed to send the man flying through the foliage he'd used as cover and out of the hole in the second floor wall; he would follow out into the rain.
From within his hiding spot, Eremi heard the words and peered about. He felt uneasy. It was a similar feeling he felt when he moved about Kirigakure, a feeling of eyes upon him in the darkness. His position being compromised, he'd abruptly jump from the vegetation of the building and land on the ground once again. "Where a person comes from isn't as easy to forget as simply walking away from it. Even the booze doesn't help…"
He'd turn to face Meruin, watching as the Mizukage stepped out into the rain. There was no signal to stop, so he could only assume the fighting was still to proceed. Considering his lower ranked moves were having no effect, the Okumo easily avoiding it, Eremi decided to increase the pace. Again he'd disappear, at least attempt to from the eyes of Meruin before reappearing underneath the man with a kick aimed at the mans jaw to send him flying into the air.
Meruin's teeth clenched as Eremi appeared beneath him, a darkness as deep as the abyss covering the lower half of the man's face as he rammed his chin downwards to meet the upward rising foot, rebounding slightly from the neutralizing impact. His hand whipped out immediately afterwards, hoping to catch the other taijutsuist in the split second lull that follows matched blows. He would grab hold of the man's ankle, twisting and lifting him to slam him on the ground on his other side. And then he would spin, dragging him along the ground — spider silk would cling to his leg, taking him more and more distant from the Mizukage as the spin took him through a crumbling pillar and a sapling tree before he was released to be sent flying. When Meruin moved, whether to follow or to defend, his movements held something predatory within them, his stride becoming a dangerous stalking.
The moment the kick crashed into Meruin's chin and yet, didn't send the man flying, Eremi was quick to roll away from any possibly counter attacks before rising to his feet. He caught sight of the Kage's hand reaching out to grab him and could only imagine what would have followed were he to actually be grabbed.
Not spending much time thinking on the matter and only counting his blessing, he closed the short distance between the two by launching himself at the man and following it up with a series of punches and kicks
This time, Meruin didn't evade Eremi's coming strike, standing his ground as he withdrew his hand, relinquishing the empty air he'd grasped. The muscles in his body visibly shifting, forming a solid wall in his core that absorbed the impact of Eremi's launching strike… And then he vanished beneath the first punch, only a swiftly fading phantom left to take the blow, appearing behind the man in the midst of a spinning kick designed to send him tumbling.
Deigning to maintain a certain distance, the Mizukage traveled an arc around Eremi no matter his position, sending out a flurry of black shuriken from his fingertips. They flew about, traveling in their own arcs and often rebounding off one another in their pursuit of the Satonezu.
The Mizukage had grown faster, Eremi wasn't sure when it happened during the match or if the man had decided to stop holding back a little, but the movements of Meruin were definitely harder to keep track of. Needing to put himself on as much of an equal playing field as he could, Eremi pushed open the first of the chakra gates before suddenly vanishing, avoiding the kick and reappearing off in the distance. There wasn't much time however, for Eremi to regain him composure before needing to disappear, evading the shuriken that raced about the area, missing his form as they dug into the ground.
When there was a brief moment where the attacks haulted, Eremi used it to charge the Mizukage using his newly gained speed to breach the gap between the two before leaning backwards and snapping his foot upward, that while it doesn't have the power to knock the Mizukage off his feet, it does set Eremi up to twist his body and leap into the air with a succession of kicks
Meruin's gaze remained placid as he watched the man evade his every strike, taking note of the very sudden burst of speed he'd put on to avoid both his kick and the following shuriken. Always watching, the Mizukage, always seeing.
So, too, did he see once the other used that burst of speed to advance rather than retreat, coming before him. Meruin struck out with his hand, that darkness — a black chitin — covering the back of it and extending past in a small blade. He moved to guide Eremi's legs off course, swaying it to the side — but only enough that one foot collided with his jaw instead of two.
He was sent on the defensive swiftly, attempting to use the blade on his hand to parry the kicks coming in with fairly limited success, only managing to evade one of the kicks. He did keep them from striking with enough force to take him off balance, however, allowing him the opportunity to take a low leap backwards when Eremi had to stop attacking to land…
Meruin inclined his head to the man, the mists within his eyes beginning to swirl a little faster, become a little more turbulent as he sent a spark of chakra to his brain, enhancing his senses some. A welt on his cheek was quickly smoothed away as though it had never been, the harm he'd taken being reversed by his natural regenerative abilities.
He nods. "Let us begin then."
Though Eremi managed to land a couple strikes against the Mizukage, it felt as if he just barely managed to knick the man. Once landing, he'd use a foot to rub against one leg and then do the same to the other. Waiting, he'd watch Meruin curiously as the man held his ground, deciding not to attack. Only stating the two should begin. Eremi wasn't entirely sure what that meant. Was it a warning the Kage was going to start putting in more effort or simply a request for Eremi to try harder? Unsure, Eremi took a step forward that quickly turned into him running ahead. This time he didn't wait to get closer as he jumped into the air and sent a spinning back kick Meruin's way. It was clearly too far to reach, but the purpose behind the attack was the whirlwind that formed from the speed and power behind the blow.
As Eremi dashes towards him, Meruin rushes forward to meet him, beating the ground beneath his feet. His eyes were unblinking despite the speed of their brief travel, able to see the clear formation of the whirlwind drawn up from the other's single kick.
Creating a single seal, the Mizukage vanished into the battering winds — and burst from the other side, suddenly far different. His skin had vanished beneath a silken, almost liquid fur the same color as his hair. Four spider legs of the same substance, thick and longer than he is tall, carried him forward from where they stemmed from his back.
His four eyes were locked on the other combatant as he closed the distance and launched into a flurry of swift, taloned strikes. Four arms, a single second and too many strikes to easily count before his arms spread, releasing a spray of silk covered shrapnel. A cloud chitin sped for the other man, jagged and vicious.
Eremi looked in disbelief as the Mizukage came bursting through the taijutsu created whirlwind as a whole new creature. Though slightly different, definitely larger and perhaps more feral, it was much the way Eremi had always remembered the Okumo. Their brief encounters in the past typically leading to that form appearing and death, if at least not distress, following shortly after. It was an image hard to forget, even with the passing of time.
The talons would reach out to cut, only to find nothing there. The silken covered sharpnel however, was too much to avoid and easily cut into the missing-nin's uncovered chest. Scratching and cutting into his flesh. The pain was intense, draining away his reserves.
Straightening out, Eremi would place an arm across his side, holding it to himself as he stared at the Mizukage in bitter resentment. No words would be spoken, but several thoughts coursed through the mans head. How long would this spar go on. If it continued, as it was, each one testing the barriers of the others…Eremi was sure to find himself fatigued first and unable to push on.
As it was now, he was already feeling his body slipping into exhaustion, but there was still much he could do to remain in the fight. Another gate would be pushed open and as he did such, the wounds that found his body began to slowly close.
Meruin stands up straighter, his spider legs lifting him further into the air as the new wounds on Eremi's body begin to close, yet another gate opened.
"Do you know the enemies Renai will face?" asks — challenges — the Mizukage, the opening of his mouth revealing the fangs jutting from both upper and lower jaws. "Do you know the dangers Kirigakure shinobi step up against? Within our very borders, there are creatures more potent than what I have shown you and our country always knows one threat or another from without." Darkness spreads over his arachnid limbs, a sheenless chitin leaving them appearing true body parts. "If The Brothers invade, you must have more Satonezu Eremi."
A third pair of eyes open. "You must show me more."
A pulse courses through his body, the muscles in his form showing that he'd simply flexed, a barrage of black shuriken flying into the sky. And then he advanced with blurring speed — vanished with a sidestep into a broken down home…
The Okumo rushed at Eremi from above, seeking to land a numbing chop on his shoulder. He would launch into a fierce assault, spider limbs sending him in a circle around the man as he released a slew of punches and kicks and knees and elbows that would suspend the man in midair long enough for him to take hold of his throat and charge through the wall of another nearby building, meat shield first. He would toss him, if he had hold, and would release another spray of blades into the sky regardless.
There was a sound of a clash before the shuriken rained down on where he'd projected Eremi to be.
Tilting his head back, Eremi would look up as Meruin reached what he could only assume was the mans full height. Questions were then asked, ones to which he wasn't sure he had an answer for. Not one the Mizukage was looking for at least, but to say nothing, would probably be worse than anything else. "I can't predict the dangers Renai will face, but I can be there by her side to help her through them."
As for the Brothers, the only threat they truly posed was their desire to steal secrets. Let them have what they seek and no one needs to be hurt. Unfortunately villages don't see it that way. Their secrets are equally valueable if not more than that of their own shinobi lives. It is reasons like that, Eremi can't find himself being a part of a village again.
The shuriken flew into the sky and he glanced up curiously, before returning his focus to the Okumo that was already charging him. Defly he avoided the flurry of strikes and the attempted grab at his throat that followed. Seeing another spray of shuriken fly into the air, clashing with the others from earlier, Eremi shifted in his stance as he forced open several more gates. The chakra would course through his body and his skin would turn a shade of red. "I"ll show you more." As the shuriken rained down upon him, he spun about with such speed that the air pressure that followed created a dome around his form, deflecting the shuriken.
When the hail of weapons ceased, Eremi stopped in his rotation only to race toward the Okumo, drop down low and twist his legs around one another tightly before jumping up in a spiraling twist and a fist extended to launch Meruin into the air
Meruin's six eyes narrow slightly as Eremi deflects the barrage of projectiles with, essentially, pure speed. But the mists within his eyes were still pale as those adorning his village, their shifting as slow and smooth as his breathing.
Abruptly, Eremi was approaching.
The Okumo traveled in an instant, body a blur as he rushed to speed to and past the Satonezu — if all had went well. But the twist of the legs and the turn of the body, he found his own leg caught and his own form sent into a discordant corkscrew. He immediately began to recover but not before Eremi's fist struck him, sending him streaking skyward.
Eremi wasted no time in following after Meruin as he sailed into the air. There would be a moment when the Okumo reached the height of his ascension and Eremi would be right there beside him. The power of the gates coursing through him, a bombardment of punches would be unleashed against the chitinous form. It was unlikely still, that his fists would penetrate through the hardened exterior, but they were setups to weakening the man in anyway he could until he reached out to grab on to one of the extra taloned arms and holding tighlty he'd spin about and throw the kage toward a collapsed building. Before Meruin could crash into the rubble, Eremi was already there, waiting to prevent this from happeneing so he could continue with the same strikes as just moments ago until he finally brought his fists together and brought them down like a hammer to finally send Meruin careening into the ground below.
Aerial and stunned from the blow to the back that made him that way, Meruin's hands moved towards the strikes that flew at him but uselessly. Where Eremi's speed was lightning, his was the afterimage it left in the mind's eye, still slowly fading as the next three strikes flashed.
He fought in this manner, hands slowly picking up speed but never reaching the half of the Satonezu's before he was sent streaking downwards into the building below. The structure collapsed as though made of paper, caving inward after the Mizukage until he struck the ground — a shockwave erupted, sending the rubble away from him and causing the outer wall of the nighboring home to collapse.
Laying in his small hole in the ground, the Mizukage gave his blood to his land, the red ichor leaking through cracks in his armor. His chitin-sheathed hair was splayed about him, and he was unmoving right up until the moment he sat up.
He lifted his head, seeking out Eremi and rising to his feet as the cracks in his armor began to seal themselves closed. He lets out a long breath, lifting a shoulder slightly to loosen it. "You impress," he spoke. "It has been a while since I have come across a Taijutsuist able to do me any harm. One that was not from Kirigakure, in any case." He inclines his head in a gesture of respect for the act.
"You have passed."
The red shade of Eremi's skin would vanish, returning to that of lightly sun kissed, the chakra gates closing as he dropped to the ground a few yards from Meruin. Watching and waiting, he knew the man to be hurt in some way or another, but not defeated. Despite using one of his stronger attack, he was sure it would take more than that to finish off someone of Kage level.
When the head lifted from the rubble, followed by Meruin completely standing up, Eremi relaxed in his stance and nodded in return. The compliment was welcoming and he knew it meant promising things to come. "Thank you. I'm glad I was able to show you what you seek." Renai would be pleased to hear this as well.
Unsure if there was more needing to be said, he stood motionless for a bit until deciding to move over and pick up his clothing and the gourds that laid by. Holding them both under a single arm, he'd turn back to the Mizukage with a raised brow. If nothing else was needed, he'd find his way out of the ruins and back towards the dock where he'd need some time to recover.