Date: September 19, 2013
Sakuryu receives her first lesson in stealth from Meruin, and he chooses to teach with steel.
"The Bitter Business - Silent Steps"
The Dark Caverns
Dark Cavern [Land of Water]
Wandering further into the dark cavern the mazes of tunnels and traps increase, more light needs to be provided in order to avoid falling to the death. A stream of water rushes from unknown area towards an abyss where the water forms a waterfall. There is no sound of crashing water as it leads into the abyss displaying the endless depth of the area. More sharp rocks and slippery edges are noted, more cobwebs and sounds o screeching bats getting caught up through the webs of the dangerous spiders. Further in the distance the thick air is replaced with a calm and steady wind coming from somewhere further into the darkness of the cave. In fact a small tunnel emits an abundance of fresh clean air.
Up - (U) [Hidden Hot Springs]
East - (E) [Hidden Tropical Oasis]
South - (S) [Dark Cavern]
Meruin walks through the dark caverns, heading deeper into the shadows with a silent step, the only thing piercing the darkness being the quietly crackling torch in his hands. The pale Okumo keeps the dark orbs he calls eyes focused on what lays before him, the mists within them a slowly swirling green. It is… quiet in this place. Timeless and nearly featureless, no sense of day or night or weather distance yet present in the eternally shaded, damp and cold place. And yet, his steps eventually stop falling and he turns around, standing in this space that looked no different than the many before it.
"We are here."
Sakuryu silently steps forward wearing her handmade stealth outfit, looking as if a mix of child's work with that of someone who read fantasy with a bit of influence from the seldom seen stealth agents of the mist. "Very dark, very misty." She says looking around with a chuckle, her hair in a long pony tail as she looks at Meruin. "So it's time for answers then right? Why all this? Are you messing with me? Why sign a letter as the Mizukage? Why fake being a man I was to kill?"
Meruin arches a brow to Sakuryu, not at all surprised by her emergence from the shadows beyond the bounds of his torchlight — it was his decision to have her there — but giving her the look he did because of the questions she'd asked. He wasted in no time with providing her an answer.
"I was your target because I was testing your abilities to pull off an assassination. Abilities that Kirigakure has decided to hone into usefulness," came his words, his voice. "You are to become an assassination expert, as per your interest in the field and your acquisition of your Frozen Kusari-gama." His head tilted slightly. "And I did not forge the Mizukage's signature. That would be treason."
He was silent, then, awaiting questions.
Sakuryu blinks and narrows her eyes. "Wait…so the Mizukage really did sign the paper? What reason does he have to take interest in me?" She asks with a little twitch of her eyes before thinking over the situation. "And if I failed as I did, why did you come back and continue my training, or is this merely a situation that you can kill and dispose of me properly?" She asks as she crosses her arms over her chest, eyeing the now decidedly creepy man.
Sakuryu closes her eyes and thinks. "And how did you know I obtained my family's treasure? Maybe I was just using it, Or did my father have something to do with this too?" She asks in a slightly agitated voice before just shaking her head. "I won't take a gift for granted, Thank you for your choice I accept the training and all it entails." She bows.
"The Mizukage did sign the paper. He has reason to have interest in you because you are one of his soldiers, and one who has just graduated into chuuninhood. But as of now, from my knowledge, he has no more personal interest in you than he does any other chuunin," spoke Meruin. "He signed the paper because it was my request that he did so in the desire that I perform the previous test. I am here despite your failure because your failure was not a marker of your denial of this profession, but a marker of your current level of training and talent in it, and thus the work I will have to put into you."
Meruin's chin lifts slightly as he regards Sakuryu. "As your trainer in a trade such as this, you can find it safe to assume that anything the village knows, I know as well. Now the time for questions is over." The Okumo lowers into a crouch, touching the bottom of the torch to the ground. "It is now time for lessons."
Spider silk leaves his hand, wrapping around the base of the torch and anchoring it to the ground. "The first is that you have made yet another mistake. You question everything. Not always aloud. Not always obviously. But all that comes your way must be met with the question of 'why.' As an assassin, the answer to 'why' will be your biggest asset in producing a successful corpse and keeping yours from joining them." He rises to his feet in a single, supple motion. "If you had done so, you may have known from the letter that something was amiss from the beginning. Do you understand?"
Sakuryu nods a little. "I need to widen my perceptions, not just assume on the surface." She breathes out a little and shakes her head. "Seems I have much to learn." She chuckles and shuts her mouth, letting the Okumo eloquate for her training. She had wanted this but she didn't know things were so in the dark and twisted even just at this level with not everything having a straight answer. She'd have to rely on instinct as well as knowledge now.'
Meruin inclines his head. "It is so. And there is much that you shall learn. My duty is not to make you an excellent killer, but an excellent assassin. The former is easy and many of Kirigakure's shinobi could boast it. The second has an entirely separate mindset and is an entirely separate lifestyle. Under my guidance, it shall be… intensive. And I will work to ensure that you live past the legends of Kirigakure assassins and, at a minimum, meet the reality of our average assassin."
The Okumo's robes begin parting at the chest, the silk forming it simply starting to open up. "We will begin with stealth," spoke the young man, his webbing revealing a large number of shuriken, bound together by wire and attached to his chest. He takes it out, robes closing once more, and presents the clinking thing to Sakuryu, saying, "It is one of the assassin's most important allies. If they do not know of your presence, they are far less likely to be able to defend against it." It was clear that she should take the bundle of Shuriken.
Sakuryu nods a little and takes the bundle. "I accept your training for what it is, I hope I reach your standards." She grins and looks at the clinking bundle. "I know of stealth but all I can truly do is rely on my summons genjutsu and my revealing mist technique.
"I know," spoke the Okumo. "That is why we are here today. Now take this like so." Meruin's hands switch their hold on the bundle, pulling them apart slightly to show that it's actually a body suit, of sorts, made from the shuriken. "And wear it." Reaching from neck to calves and lacking any protection from the many points of the shuriken, it would not at all prove to be comfortable to wear or put on.
Sakuryu grimaces at it. "Why? It doesn't seem very…..nice." She twinges before sliding her bag off to put the suit on awkwardly over the suit beneath, wincing and twitching as the points poke and dig at her before she settles it on her body. "This…really feels uncomfortable." She says as she adjusts herself slightly before twitching an eye.
"Answer your own question," commands Okumo Meruin as his only reply. Otherwise he is simply still and silent, patiently awaiting for the girl to do as commanded. She had asked why. Now it was time to see if she could determine the answer. A question that the Jounin considered a fairly easy one to work out.
Sakuryu sighs. "I guess because it jingles so I'll have to overcome the sound to be stealthy, and it's made with these shuriken so that if you strike me it will hurt all the more?" She asks with a tilt of her head, tugging at the very uncomfortable situation of the knife suit
"The noise part is correct," spoke Meruin with a nod. "The end goal is to see you able to move with the precision and smoothness of motion to avoid causing too much sound with equipment even such as this on your person." The Okumo's hair suddenly begins moving of its own volition, twining itself into a braid as though guided by invisible hands. "The points and edges of the shuriken will reign in your motions. Until you find the ability to move correctly, reducing the sway of hips, excess swing of the arms, ensuring your momentum travels through your body properly, and such things, it will continue to be uncomfortable, and should you move incorrectly, too swiftly, you will find yourself with wounds. Eventually, you will be able to move soundlessly and seamlessly while wearing the shuriken. How long that takes is up to you. And do not expect it to happen this day."
He begins walking backwards, heading away from the torch and its revealing light, eyes on the Shirayuki girl. "Your mission as of this moment? Find me. And do not let me find you as you do it. You will know when I see you." And with that, his pace quickened and he pulled swiftly back into the true dark, his form completely veiled by it, leaving only the final words, "I would suggest stepping out of the light."
Sakuryu sighs and nods, focusing in as she slowly steps out of the light. This would be annoying…and very very painful if she did it wrong. She grimaces and closes her eyes to listen for the footsteps, staying in one place to keep the sound to a minimum, keeping her breathing low as she tries to separate the sounds. The crackling of the torch, dripping of water in the cave, her own breath, the subtle dragging of her clothes, the air moving through the cavern, all searching for his steps. Though hearing nothing just curses and tries to move about the cave to find him.
Sakuryu would find that the shuriken suit made absolutely no sound and no sharp edges or points sliced or jabbed her as she makes her slow way into the darkness and stops to attempt to locate the Okumo. The same would be said as she started searching for him, wading through the shadows, the Shirayuki actually faring very well despite the obstacle. It seemed she deserved her promotion into chuuninhood. Despite that, though, a brief scraping noise sounded behind her before a black shuriken would streak downwards from there to land in the ground before her. He saw her.
Sakuryu takes each step carefully, using her muscles to manipulate her movement fluidly, keeping her breath low as she searches. She feels something strange and stops, the kunai barely missing her cheek. She holds her breath and tries to slip through the shadows again, trying to take her time to sneak behind him. It didn't help her hair was a bright white flag in the darkness of course. Though she didn't let it unnerve her continuing towards her goal.
Meruin sifted through the darkness, not at all in the direction the girl was searching in. He'd thrown the shuriken, using the wall to richot it into the proper location, and it didn't seem that the girl had picked up on it. But the exercise was far more to improve her ability to hide herself than it was for her to find him. And it seemed that she was doing fairly well in that respect, the Okumo hearing very few sounds of metal on metal and sensing nothing indicating that she was in pain.
Meruin slipped from the shadows into the torch light, sending a shuriken whirring along the ground towards Sakuryu to skim past her, stopping when it embeds itself into the wall. "You'll need to move more swiftly to catch me," he spoke, before leaving the torch light and heading into the shadows once more, moving off to her right. Never once had he looked towards the fire, keeping it to his back. But with himself in the center of the light, Sakuryu would have to look to it to see him, which would disrupt her night vision once he stepped out of the way of the torch. Just another difficulty.
Sakuryu sighs a bit as she keeps her ears focused for sound, almost stepping on the shuriken as it skirts past her foot. She hesitates and keeps still to listen to him. She knew that watching him would do nothing but confuse her as he moves through the shadows. No hearing was where her focus should go, not on the easily distracting sight. She had seen as much before with genjutsu and her hidden mist. She would calm her breath and try harder starting to step a bit more quickly as she goes, letting her body dance through the dark trying to find the sounds of the hiding trainer.
Meruin listened as Sakuryu moved through the shadows, taking in the slight tinkle of shuriken on shuriken. She was doing exceedingly well for never having done this before and having a primary focus in ninjutsu. She was better with her body than he had at first given her credit for. And such was part of why they were doing exercises like these now.
But it was time to move on to the next phase of this training exercise, and far more swiftly than he'd expected. By the time they were finished with this training in perhaps a month and a half's time, she'd never need worry about any equipment on her person making noise or too much sound rising from her footsteps again. But you took things one step at a time, and for now we needed Sakuryu to take her steps faster.
He raised a hand, prepared to throw another black shuriken…