Date: September 30, 2013
Meruin brings Sakuryu out into Kirigakure's blood marshes for a few lessons. What comes about is an unexpected standoff with impactful results.
"The Bitter Business - Divergence"
Near the Cutthroat Caverns
"What do you know of how an assassin could make a silent kill?"
Meruin walks atop the red waters of the blood marshes, the Okumo's stride long and smooth. The sounds of the surrounding marsh — of insects, and those that eat them, and they that eat those — are a constant growl in the ear. The heavy canopy overhead made by the many ancient cypress trees that litter the place allow little of the morning light down to the water's surface, leaving the man himself to be little more than a pale figure from more than a couple of yards away. But the sense this place grates against the most is the shinobi's sixth sense. The blood marshes, known to be home to numerous animals extremely dangerous to human life, rogue shinobi, and even carniverous plant life — all of which could be beneath the very waters that he treads on — is a place that holds no kindness for the unaware or unprepared. Which made it the perfect place for his student's next and many of her future lessons.
Sakuryu knows the bloodmarshes too well. It was part of the academy advancement tests to be able to best the marshes to even survive as a genin. Once again she had to come back to attend her first Chuunin exams. She knew the dangers, this nasty thick water laden air. The scents of the loamy dirt, nasty waters, and rotting bodies. It was a scent that made her focused into precision focus. She was watching the careful steps, breathing out slowly as she keeps her breath and energy focused. "A shinobi can silently kill in many ways. Most know that the most effective of these methods are to use a weapon or method that cannot be detected upon discovery of the body, an attack that leaves an effect that kills the body long after departure, an effect that causes the body to no longer be there, or a combination of these effects used in a tactical way. Some also believe that an easy way to attend to this would be to simply coerce the enemy to an outside location followed by an attack that results in death, usually a fatal stabbing or breaking of the neck then a disposal such as dismemberment or feeding to an animal." She nods
"You are misunderstanding the question," spoke Meruin. "I had asked how to make a kill silently," he reiterated, slipping through crimson reeds rising from the foul waters before sending a glance back to the girl that waded through them in pursuit of him. "Not how to make an indecipherable cause of death." He looks back to the fore. "You have a broad range of thought, however. Keep hold of it as you answer."
Sakuryu looks at him. "They were silent methods that also lead to the best possible outcome in corpse discovery. If I pat you on the back and disrupt the chakra to your heart. It will not kill you immediately but later in the day there is a high chance that you will suffer a heart attack. A silent outcome to the situation. The same with my ice needles. If I throw them at the pressure points in the back the tips are so fine that when death has fully set the cold of the needles will seal and uninflame the wound as well as melt leaving the cause of death inperciavable and silent. Though from this training i suspect you mean ambush attacks. Where a Shinobi employing techniques such as wall or water walking silently drops onto an enemy delivering swift death. I have done this before on the island of pirates in the north. I set a mist bank into an area which was normal for that time of morning, then as I approached I send needles into each pirate dropping them without a last breath before paralyzing the last man where he stood.. All silent."
"None of those methods of murder are silent, Shirayuki Sakuryu," spoke Meruin as he lifted a hand to push aside a thicker grouping of crimson reeds. "A man who has a heart attack will make plenty of sound in the act of it. If you even manage to kill someone through hitting enough pressure points with such thin needles, they too will make plenty of noise. And I'm sure your pirates made noises themselves, either when struck with the needles or when their bodies fell to the ground. As for the final pirate, the outcome depends on the manner of paralyzation. The only tactic you've mentioned that I will show any approval of is the use of the mist under the cover of a natural phenomenon. And that is a fairly common tactic to employ, and for Kirigakure shinobi especially."
Another sweep of the arm bent a tight group of reeds far enough to allow the Okumo passage beyond them and into view of one of the many moss and cutthroat vine covered entrances to the Cutthroat Caves. He walks towards their darkness filled orifice without preamble, still speaking. "You are correct in that what I speak of would nearly always be an ambush tactic. Many would say that slitting a throat is an ideal manner of killing without making any sound." He steps up onto dry land, leaving the red liquid behind as he nears the entrance to the cavern. "None of them have ever actually slit a living person's throat before."
"A swift and calculated death that does not in any way incriminate you as the killer is indeed precisely what an assassin strives for." Darkness covers Meruin's hand as he raises it and protects him from the wickedly serrated barbs of the cutthroat vines that he pushes off to the side as he moves through them. "The first step is what we are here to begin your education on. While there is nearly no such thing as a silent bladed assassination, we must still work to make them as near to it as possible." He stops on the other end of the layer of deadly foliage, looking back to Sakuryu. "And that." He steps to the side, revealing six bound lumps within the darkness behind him. "Is what we are here to practice."
Sakuryu nods and looks at the bound lumps, inspecting them with a little hum. "Who are we killing?" She asks as she looks at them, trying to discern from size shape and possible movement what they were here to kill. "I'm ready for any training you want to throw at me, just give me a directive and I'll do it." She grins a little bit and stretches..
"3 people and their children," spoke the Okumo as he walked over to the bodies, the each of them only now starting to rouse and shift and make muffled sounds. He could be seen bending down by them in the dim darkness before light blossoms. A torch beyond them now lit. This new light reveals other torches in a ring around the bodies and he moves about lighting them.
"You may recognize some of them," he speaks. And indeed. It would become clear, soon, that the six people on the ground were from the Shirayuki clan. Indeed, it would be hard to believe they weren't chosen simply because they personified the look of the clan. Pale features, icy blue eyes, aristocracy in their faces. Two men and a woman. The children held the same genders.
"The first kill is the snapping of the neck," spoke Meruin as he set his torch down.
Sakuryu narrows her eyes a little bit at the people. She hmms gently before letting out a breath. "And why did you choose these victims." She says hiding the pang of anger rising inside her. If there was only one thing Sakuryu had it was pride for her clan. These were not the skilled shinobi of her clan, Simply just members and had no reason to be killed in her opinion. "I know not to ask the reason but when it comes to blood I need to know their crime." She says calmly trying not to look closely at her family members.
Meruin looks to Sakuryu as she asks these questions. "They are your targets, Shirayuki Sakuryu. You have been tasked with the mission of killing them. You do not need histories. You do not need to know or understand them. You need only to see them deceased in whatever manner your contract states." He points to the man on the far right, the bound, gagged and blindfolded people all beginning to squirm in a more lively manner, as though coming out of the grogginess of sleep. "The first kill is the snapping of the neck," he speaks, stern voice brooking no more dissent. "If you know how to kill in such a manner, see it done. If you do not, say so and I shall explain it."
Sakuryu sighs and looks at him. "You….will have to show me. I fear without a note from my father or the Shirayuki council I cannot take their life. If I killed a fellow shirayuki or member of the hidden mist with no directive or meaning I could hold thier blood on my hands as I am exiled from my clan and my village." She says this solemnly before shaking her head. "I am sorry but I must obey these rules unless I have a specific plan given to me by either the Mizukage or the Snow Prince."
Meruin's eyes flash and he takes a step towards Sakuryu, suddenly snarling, "You have a directive." Looking on the brink of violence, he speaks, swift and angry. "I, your sensei and Jounin of Kirigakure, command you, my subordinate, to break this man's spinal chord. And YES. Their blood will be on YOUR hands because your desire is to become an assassin. And an assassin is a weapon. And a weapon is MEANT to be bathed in blood. And a weapon that cannot be used to kill is worthless." He reaches down, suddenly lifting the man by his hair so that he sits upward, and looking back to Sakuryu, face set in a deadly glare, the mists of his eyes swirling swiftly in crimson hues. "Now come!"
Sakuryu doesn't flinch as she watches him "You are a jounin and have shown me no reason to believe that you are working under the directive with the Mizukage who protects these people as citizens of Kirigakure. Or The Snow Prince or Shirayuki council who protect these people even farther." She lets out a breath as she gets yelled at. "For all I know you are telling me to assassinate these people to use as blackmail against me. Present me with the reason for their assassination and they will not take another breath. But as they are citizens of our village and my family I will not wantonly kill them." She glares back, standing firm to the laws of the land.
Meruin's lips curl up into a snarl at Sakuryu's defiance, a black chitin starting to spread across his face as he appears to begin losing control of himself. Talons push past his fingernails and fangs can be seen in his mouth. Past them, he spits the simple words, "They were going to flee Kirigakure with scrolls they stole to bargain for the life of a child." Just a second away from snapping. Just. One. Second.
Sakuryu sighs a little bit and looks at the man. "It should not have been done." She forms a senbon and quickly throws it to his neck piercing through the main artery as well as the nerve causing a fairly painless but bloody death. "I am not strong enough to snap a neck nor do I appreciate the loss of a family member. I will take my punishment but I will not kill children, they have a chance for retribution." She says with a hard wince. Taking the life of her family hurts her deeply . "In the next example please show me a method I can do, I am not strong enough for brute force methods and would have only paralyzed the man."
And abruptly, Meruin looked nowhere near as enraged as he had before.
Indeed, it was as though all of the anger had simply been wiped from him over the course of a breath and he was back as he was. The man whose head he held in his hand gurgled through the new hole in his neck as his life began gushing from the wound. Not nearly as swiftly as a slice of the throat due to the size of the hole, but he would die soon enough. More important, though, was the dispelling of the henge on him. On all of them. There were six bodies, still 3 children and three adults, the gender ratio much the same. The only differences were that they were moving much less than they had been when henged and that they no longer looked perfectly Shirayuki. Indeed, they could be anyone from anywhere.
Meruin let go of the man's hair to let him bleed out on the floor. "First: I know your statistics, Shiraayuki Sakuryu. You currently have the physical strength of a lower chuunin level shinobi. It is neither as easy nor as simple as some would believe, but you are fully capable of completing it." He rises to his feet in a single supple motion, eyes still on the girl. "Your questioning of my command to kill your clansmen and members of our village was sound. As you are not a black ops shinobi, you should not be called upon for the killing of apparently upstanding citizens of the Land of Water. In this situation, it is well that you are suspicious of my motives.
"However, the verbalization of your questioning was the incorrect response to make. Demanding information of your superior and outright refusing to follow their orders is insubordination in its definition. The correct manner of handling such matters would be to perform the orders given and then reporting to indcident to whomever is above them at a later date. There are few situations where exceptions to this rule would be allowed. This is not one of them. For failing to recgonized and adhere to this, you will face punishment."
Meruin's chin lifts slightly. "A greater failing than refusing to obey, however, is your inability to kill the children. You had wished to become more than a killer. An assassin. And Kirigakure had wished to aid you in this endeavor. You may still grow to become one, and perhaps a good one by even Kirigakure's standards. But you have too much heart to become one of our best, and I do not spend my time raising the second rate. You will wish to find another teacher." He gestures to the wall of the cavern, then, saying, "Hands against the wall," as webbing began to seep from his fingertips.
"You will not be walking home this morning."
Sakuryu looks at him with a narrowing gaze. "My opinion on the matter was that you were having me kill the children for getting kidnapped. Not a crime in any right. The parents had every right to be killed due to the theft of scrolls for bargaining. The children who they were bargaining for had no take in the matter and could still be raised as a warrior for the village." She says solemnly with a breath out. "Continue to train me please." She says with a little sigh. "And am I required to stay here or are you simply stating that I will not be able to leave due to the webbing?" She asks with a little sigh before looking at the other bodies. "Want me to kill them first or?"
There was a quiet hiss as Meruin's webbing touched the cave floor.
And then his arm moved and that webbing was slung towards Sakuryu, a swift lash that moved seamlessly into a flurry of strikes. As he struck out with the webbing, the silken rope covered in a burning poison, he spoke the words, "I have already given you orders. Follow them." And he intended to continue with the lashing until she assumed the position he had told her to. And it might begin to grow clear to her now that what he'd meant was that she wouldn't be walking home this morning not because she had to stay but because she wouldn't be able to walk.
Sakuryu winces a little with a huff, clenching her arms as she feels the burning poison. She manages to form a clone but it seems he won't be deterred as he strikes them both. Sakuryu moves to the wall and holds still. Just watching him out of the corner of her eye. "It was a simple inquiry." she shrugs and stands still for the attack to finish, holding herself back so she could escape later.
"It was a questioning of my orders," spoke Meruin, his assault petering off a small while after Sakuryu had set herself up against the wall as he had commanded. "It is not for you to question my commands. And regarding that last comment, it is not your place to speak out of turn. To talk back, as you might call it. It is my hope that this is something I need only teach once." He lowered his arm, a brow arching, unnoticed on his face due to the darkness but clear in his voice. "Each lesson grows harsher, and this will be the least of them Shirayuki Sakuryu."
Meruin's head tilts slightly, eyes on the girl at the wall. "As for your request for my continued training, I do believe that you are aware of the price of such tutelage." He gestures to the now five people laying over to the side. "The each of those children are innocent of any crimes insofar as I know. They are not destined for a future in the shinobi life. Will you kill them?"
Sakuryu waits and notices the burn on her skin. It's like the effect of her Kusari-Gama…likely a poison of some type. Not too horrible but not pleasant." She let's out a breath. "I believe that they deserve life as they have not been assigned a crime and have the capacity to be useful to the village. To punish them for being kidnapped you would have already had to assassinate me twice. I know the horror of being kidnapped with a bargain to attain me. The parents were in the wrong for stealing a scroll and not consulting the village to retrieve the children. But the children are merely victims that can be used." She shrugs. "I will take every lesson as it's given." She states calmy still. "I answered your question honestly. I will listen to any reasoning you have for killing the children. But if it is for sheer pleasure or no real reason I cannot kill them. You cannot take back a life. You may be punished later, but they will never have the chance to be punished again."
"This punishment is for your insubordination."
More webbing slid from Meruin's hands, the both of them, coiling into thicker ropes and getting soaked in those caustic acids. Whatever the Okumo's thoughts on the girl's answer was besides the fact that it was not the correct one were kept to himself. He chose not to discuss his reasons with the girl. As of now, their relationship was no more than one of Jounin to Chuunin.
"It is further exacerbated by the continued refusal of your superior's will." His arms flash, ropes streaking towards Shirayuki Sakuryu, now with enough mass behind them to batter her, depositing the burning poison even through clothing. "This is not of the second refusal to kill the children but the creation of your ice clone in the attempt to evade my punishment. This session will last longer because of it."
Sakuryu doesn't resist her punishment, just nodding a little, each whip burning as it cuts her. Soon she feels strange…poison wasn't as simple as she thought it was…no….it seemed to be making her dizzy. Weakly she tries. "S…esssnennnnsensei…..I think the poiiiiks………….sonn." She rolls her eyes back as she slowly sinks down, her lungs burning as they constrict. The poison biting into her system making her sickness take hold. Her breath constricted and her body too weak to fight back at this late she simple collapses, total darkness. Seems she needs to be hooked back up to those healing seals at the hospital, but they know her well enough there at least!
As the girl collapsed, the lashings ceased, the spider webbing being detached from Meruin's body to drop to the ground and dissolve within the fluids lining it. She fell sooner than he had expected her to. That coupled with the sound of her labored breathing and a few subtle but unnatural movements brought him to believe that there was something more severe than simple unconsciousness at work.
He let out a quiet breath through his nose. Swiftly, he found his way to her side, letting a small flood of spiders leave his body to head towards the people, the great many of them beginning to drag them off. He himself bit Sakuryu, injecting her with not poison but a regenerative fluid, undoing some of the damage he did. And then he vanished with the Shirayuki, heading towards the village at large and the medical center it held.