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1The Fighting Ground [Training/Private] Empty The Fighting Ground [Training/Private] on Sat May 17, 2014 11:49 am



It was in the morning when Ringo first heard the bell.  He was standing in the warm, open field feeling hot, dirty, and bored.  His father, not far off, limped as he worked along the newly turned rows of corn.  As for Ringo, he was daydreaming, daydreaming about being a soldier.

His older brother was a soldier with the Mizukage in Kiri back during the Seven Bells siege.  His cousin had joined in the fight as well.  Ringo kept waiting for his father to say that he too could join.  He was, after all, twenty-eight.  Technically he could have gone off without his father’s permission, but it wouldn’t be right to head into war without his father’s blessing.

Ringo dreamed of one day taking up a gun himself and fighting the enemy.  For he had heard his father and his father’s friends talk many times about the savage Seven Bells ; his cruel mercenary-like followers; and the countless puppets that he had at his side.  It was former Kiri-nin that had joined up with Seven Bells.

But Ringo’s father no longer spoke of war.  During the past winter he had fought near Kirigakure and been wounded in the leg.  It was painful for him to walk, and Ringo was needed at home.  Though he kept asking questions about the battle, his father only shook his head, while his eyes grew clouded.  Still, Ringo could dream.  So it was that at the sound of the bell they both stood still and listened.

The bell, at the tavern a mile and a half away, was used to call the men to arms.  This time it tolled only once.  Puzzled, they stood alert, straining to hear if more would come.

Ringo looked over at the edge of the field, where his father’s set of kunai leaned against a stump.  The shoulder pouch of shuriken was also there.  The knives were primed, ready to be used.  Ringo knew how.  Hadn’t his father taught him, drilled him, told him that everyone had to be prepared?  Hadn’t he said, “We must all be soldiers now”?  And hadn’t Ringo talked with his friends of war, battles old and new, strategies fit for major generals?  And, having fought their wars, they had always won their glory, hadn’t they?

So when the bell stayed silent, Ringo sighed with disappointment.  His father turned back to work.  The beating of his hoe against the earth made a soft, yielding sound, as if a clock had begun to count a familiar piece of time.

But as Ringo resumed his tasks, his mind turned to uniforms, the old Sunagakure uniforms.  He pictured himself in the sandy yellow jacket with red facings, white leggings, a beautiful set of kunai held tight in his fists.  He wondered if Kumogakure had any uniforms like those he had seen back in Suna.

Softly at first, but with growing sureness, the bell began to ring again.  Each stoke sliced away a piece of calm.

“What do you think?” Ringo asked.

His father pulled off his black felt hat and mopped his brow with the back of his hand.  He was looking south, worry on his face.  Absentmindedly, he rubbed his wounded leg.

Seeing him yet undecided, Ringo walked to the edge of the field to get a drink of water from the clay jar by the set of kunai.  The cool water dripped down his neck, trickled over his chest, and made him shiver.

The bell tolled on.  Ringo, stealing glances at his father, touched his fingers to the glossy shine of the knife, liking its sharp, smooth finish.

“Maybe you’d best get back to the house,” his father said.  “Could be someone’s come on through with news.  I’d need to know.”

Ringo sprang up.  Too fast.

“Ringo!” his father cried.  Grabbed by his father’s voice, Ringo stood where he was.

“Don’t you—by God—don’t you go beyond!”

They looked at one another.  Ringo felt his stomach turn all queer, for in that moment his father’s eyes became unveiled, and they revealed themselves to be full of fear.

Quickly, Ringo turned away and began to run through the copse of trees that separated the field from their house.  Behind him, the clocklike sound of his father’s work resumed, an echo to the call of the bell.

Ringo vaulted the split-rail fence, hardly breaking stride.  As he came up to the house he’d lived in most of his life, his mother appeared at the door.  From behind her skirts his young neice and nephew poked their heads.

“What is it?” his mother called before he spoke a word.  He could see her worry.  Each stroke of the distant bell seemed to make her wince.  She had always hated the war, even talk of war, fretting so about his brother, who had gone off and yet never sent a word, not one.

At her question Ringo stopped short, not wanting to get too close.  His bare toes curled in to the soft earth.  “Don’t know,” he replied.  “Father told me to see if anyone came through with news.”

“Not here,” she said.

“Maybe there are some men attacking the village,” he said. Two years before, only twenty miles away, there had been a raid on the Ozaki clan’s village.  Some ninja that were trying to cleanse the land of our cursed clan.  “Think they might?” he asked, looking about for his shoes.  She didn’t reply.

And then, as suddenly as it had begun, the ringing of the bell stopped, leaving an empty silence.  Ringo wondered if he was already too late.

“Want me to go to the tavern to find out what it was?” he asked, edging closer in.  He had spied his shoes.  They were on the bench by the door.

“Your father tell you to?”

When Ringo gave no reply, she pushed a slip of hair beneath her cap and slapped away a tugging child’s hand.  “Maybe you’d best,” she said.  “Your father can’t.  And we don’t want to be surprised.”

Not wanting to give her time to change her mind, Ringo leaped forward, pulled on his shoes, then bolted up and began to run.

“Just find out!” she called after him.  “Then come on right back! You hear?”

Pretending he had not heard, Ringo kept up his steady run.  He lengthened his stried, turned a sharp angle, then beat his way to the creek.  He passed the cooling house.  He sped along the path that edged old dark woods where the warm, soft smell of rotting wood filled the air.

Maybe, he thought as he ran, maybe it was going to be a battle, a big one.  Maybe he would take a part in it.

“Oh please,” he said to himself.  “Make it be a battle.  With armies, big ones, and swords and knives and blood and bodies for me to loot!”  Oh, he could, would fight.  Good as his older brother.  Maybe as good as his father.  Better, maybe.  Hopefully it would be better, as his older brother died in a fight back during Seven Bells only a few months ago and his father wounded.

He was running harder now, having broken from the path to the main road.  He passed the place where a boy he knew used to live; they hadn’t quite been friends.  He’d gone off and gotten killed.  Ringo didn’t like to think of that.  Besides, the boy’s folks said it was an awful fight, cursed it, spat on it when they could.  People, hearing them, hinted that the family was known to have issues with each other and have harbored ill will to their own son.  A few other families were like that, mainly had to stay drunk to be friendly.  Sometimes the drinking only made things worse.  It was better that they weed themselves off.  Lighten the load, lessen the herd.

Ringo moved up a small hill and, once on top, paused to catch his breath.  A swirl of red-breasted pigeons coursed the air.  A squirrel scolded, a crow cackled.  It was spring, and warm, and wonderful ripe for a battle.  Ringo felt sure he could try anything, be anything, do anything anyone might set before him.

And even as he stood there, unsure what to do, the bell resumed its vibrant call.  He could go home . . . or to the tavern.  But if he went to the tavern, he knew it wouldn’t be just to get the news.  He meant to go and fight.

“Do it!” he told himself.  “Go and fight!”   His father was afraid, but he wasn’t.  And again he began to pelt toward the sound of the bell, his blood as warm as the swollen, spring-tied earth.

The tavern was the biggest place around, and was perched on the highest point.  Built entirely of stone, it seemed a fortress, a castle at the crossroads, with sparkling glass windows and a high, peaked roof.

To the south seven miles were the roads that lead to the rest of the Lightning Country.  Twenty miles distant was Kumogakure.  That was where the hated group of ninja had approached from two years back.

As he approached the tavern, Ringo could see the bell.  An old neighbor, a boy several years younger than his own age, was heaving the cord.  The bell hung in its own rack, set up to sound alarms.  It stood to one side of the green where the men practiced for militia duty, an exercise that Ringo dearly loved to watch.

Some men had already gathered at the tavern and were busy talking.  Becoming shy, Ringo slowed his pace.  As he approached, a man climbed a tree to watch the roads.

Ringo wished someone would tell him what was happening.  But no one paid him mind.  He thought, “They don’t know I’ve come to fight.”

“Here comes someone!” yelled the man in the tree.

“Got his sword?”

“Looks it!”

Shuriken pouches, straps of kunai, and swords had been left against the tavern.  Ringo wished he’d brought his father’s set of kunai and shuriken.

He felt a tap on his shoulder.  “Your father coming?” was the question.

Before he could reply, someone else said: “His leg’s still sitting poor.”

They paid no more mind to Ringo.  Frustrated, he went over to the bell.  Though he would rather have spoken to the men, he talked to his young friend.  “What’s going on?” he asked.

“Ninja,” said his friend, fitting the word between strokes of the bell.

A whip of excitement cut through Ringo.  “Enemy ones?”

“That’s what they say,” his friend answered.

As Ringo watched, a man came out of the tavern, someone he had never seen before.  He was a large man, with broad shoulders and a red, badly pock-marked face.  His shirt, spilling out of his trousers, wasn’t very clean, and his dark-green jacket with fraying cuffs was clearly old.  His boots were caked with mud, his hat was too small.

When the man came out of the tavern, he was holding a tankard with one hand, wiping crumbs from his mouth with the other.  He stood in front of the tavern door, surveying the gathered men who, in turn, kept keen eyes on him.

“Any more coming?” the stranger called.

“Be some time yet” came the reply.

“We don’t have time,” the stranger snapped.  He took a half step around as if to go back inside.  The tavern keeper stood in the doorway.  “By God,” the stranger said, “don’t they understand?  IF we don’t move, they’ll get through.”

The tavern keeper said nothing at all.

A man came running, cresting the hill.  A katana glistened in his hand.  “Where they coming from?” he called.

“From the trade roads,” called one of the men.

“How many?”

“Fifteen or less.”

“Who saw them?”

“The Corporal’s come.”

Again, heads turned to the stranger.  He was finishing off his drink.  When done, he handed the tankard to the keeper, who took it silently.

“Here’s more!” cried the man in the tree.  “You be patient, Corporal,” he called to the stranger.  “You’ll have an army yet.”

The tavern keeper shook his head.  “It’s groundbreaking time.”

The Corporal strode down from the doorway and approached the men.

“How long will it take these ninja to get here from Linvale?” he asked.

“That’s four miles,” came an answer.

“An hour and a half,” was the calculation.

Impatiently, the stranger rubbed his hands together, then suddenly swung around to face the bell, where Ringo was standing, watching.

“That’s enough!” the Corporal barked to Ringo’s friend.  “They’ll either come or not.”

The boy let the rope drop.  Again the stranger considered the group of men, then, turning, discovered Ringo’s eyes fixed on him.  “You handle yourself in a fight?” he asked.

“Yes, sir,” Ringo managed to get out.

“And you?” the stranger asked the other boy.  The boy shook his head no.

The Corporal glowered, then shifted around once more and drifted toward the men.  Four more had run in, making thirteen in all.  The Corporal appraised them, then turned to the tavern keeper.  “You coming?” he asked.

“We’ll need to have ourselves a second line in case they get through,” said the innkeeper. “I’d best stick here.”

The Corporal frowned and then, lost in thought, went outside and tightened up his sandals.  Only then did it occur to Ringo that this Corporal, whoever he was, had ridden in with the news.  He wondered where he had come from and just what he had seen, and why he’d come to this place.

When he finished fussing with his shoes, the Corporal swung around to face the waiting men.  “There’s no more time,” he said.  “We need to go.”

Ringo noticed that the men were now watching one another as much as they watched the stranger.  “Aren’t we going to wait for more?” came the question that was on all of their faces.

“It’s late,” the Corporal replied. “Yes or no?  Are we going?”

No one spoke.  Then someone, Ringo didn’t see who, gave a murmur.  Others took it up, a brief swelling sound, not quite a word.

“All right,” the Corporal said, choosing to take the sound as ‘yes.’  He looked about again, his eyes coming to rest on Ringo.

“You,” he said, pointing. “You said you could fight.  Get your gear together.  You’re needed.”

2458 words


Jutsu || Ringo || Locker

The Fighting Ground [Training/Private] Aya

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2The Fighting Ground [Training/Private] Empty Re: The Fighting Ground [Training/Private] on Sun May 18, 2014 2:19 pm



His pride soaring, Ringo grinned at the young bell boy, who was looking at him with astonishment.  Then Ringo turned toward the tavern keeper, who was standing by the door.  "Going, are you?" the tavern keeper said before he could speak.

"It looks like it."

"Well, got some gear here if you need some." the tavern keeper pointed to the cabinet behind him.  He opened it up and showed the many knives, shuriken, senbon, and katanas all kept out for display.  "They're still sharp, too."

"That's alright," Ringo said, waving off the offer.  "I've got all the gear I need."  Ringo rolled up his jacket sleeves to show off his line launchers.  The tavern keeper studied the line launchers, from its topmost mechanism to its shiny little button at the palm of his hands.  Knowing what Ringo planned to use, the tavern keeper seemed to stand a bit straighter, heavily impressed.

"Get on then, if you're going," the man said with a wave of his hand. "Get!"

Ringo turned, inadvertently running into one of the other men.  The shock of it made Ringo do a double take before apologizing.  The man he had bumped into looked to the rest and gave a murmur, they all took it up in an echoing procession.  Ringo still had no idea why they kept echoing each other.

With that, the Corporal led them out to move south along to the trade roads.  The men steadily followed with Ringo at the tail.  He dusted off his jacket as he followed, giving one last nod goodbye to the old tavern keeper.  Behind him, from the building's darkness, the tavern keeper watched, while in front the bell boy sat on the bell-rack frame, hands to either side.  He too was watching.  Fidgeting with his line launchers, Ringo jumped down the steps and ran up to the road that would lead them to the attacking ninja.

As they marched, Ringo tried to recall why they called the man leading them 'the Corporal'.  There wasn't any army in the area and the clan didn’t go by a ranking system.  And then he remembered.  After the raid two years back there was a murmur in the clan that a militia of sorts should be formed.  For a while there was nothing done, though now it seemed that it was put in place.  At least, that’s the best assumption Ringo could come up with at the time.

When they clattered over the first wooden bridge south of the tavern, Ringo was still far behind.  A little farther on came another bridge.  He saw the Corporal had called a stop before they crossed it, and he was talking to the men.  Hurrying, Ringo ran to catch up, the others speed so much more than his own.

”. . . at least that’s my figuring,” he heard the Corporal say.  ”It couldn’t be helped.  But we can stop them if we’ve stomach enough.  They won’t think we’ll try.”

“How many do you think they’ll be?” called a man.

Ringo, on the outer fringe of the group, strained to listen.  He was glad to be able to rest and catch his breath for the moment.  The march was more of a run and these guys didn’t seem to put any slack in their step.  He now saw his new motivation for exercising and building up his body from this march.

“Twenty, twenty-five,” came the Corporal’s offhanded reply.  His words were met with uneasy silence.  Ringo, seeing that something was wrong, looked around.

“Before, you said that they weren’t more than fifteen,” came an angry voice.

”Did I?” said the Corporal coolly.  ”Then I misspoke myself.”

Again, save for the shifting feet of the men, there was a silence.  Ringo noticed how nervous they were.  It hadn’t occurred to him that they would be.  They were all stronger fighters than he and more skilled, too.

“Does five more turn you about?” the Corporal asked.

Ringo looked from face to face, waiting for a reply.  He saw downcast eyes, furtive and unsure.  Then someone spoke up, “I want to hear again what brought them out.  You said a Committee of Public Safety.  Aside from yourself, how many were there?”

The Corporal’s face turned redder.  “Ask them,” he snapped.

“Here,” came a tense voice, ”we didn’t elect you Corporal.  Sitting there with your high title don’t make you so damn high.”  A few grunts rejoined the outspoken voice.

”You can choose for yourself.”  the Corporal returned and angrily the Corporal swung down at the individual.  ”I just beg you men to make it fast.  While you’re holding your congress, they’re coming closer.  Who will you have?”

Ringo watched the shifting eyes.  No one said a word.  No one looked directly at the Corporal.  ”Then, by God,” the Corporal shouted, “I’ll be your man.  Is that your silent meaning?”

Ringo only nodded, trying to understand what was happening to the men as they shifted about.  No one spoke a word.  They seemed cowed.  Quickly, the Corporal leapt up.  ”Come on, then,” he said.  ”We need to get to Brock’s Well before they do.  We can ambush them from the trees if that’s your pleasure.”

The notion of an ambush rather than an open fight cheered the men.  Ringo saw the tension ease.  A few men grinned.  Turning his head, the Corporal moved on toward the bridge.  The men followed briskly.  Ringo gathered up his gear and hurried after the others.  As for himself, he was glad the Corporal led them.  He thought him a strong, forceful man.

When they crossed over the second bridge, the road began to rise.  The pace slowed.  Some of the men were breathing hard.  Ringo, with a sudden burst, caught up.  For a while he walked along with a man he knew to be his father’s friend.  A large man, he was already perspiring.  His bald head was bright and wet.  A fringe of whitened hair dripped sweat.

”What’s it about?” asked Ringo, taking a step and a half to match each of the strides of the bigger man.  The man gave Ringo a quick look as if surprised to see him there.

Instead of giving an answer, he said, “What are you doing here?”

”Going to fight,,” Ringo stated.  ”I heard there were enemy ninja.  Fifteen, twenty or so coming at us.  What are they trying to do?  Did something happen?”

The man studied Ringo, then turned and spat on the ground. “Didn’t you hear?” he asked.

”Just what I said, sir.”

The man sucked a deep breath and marched in heavy silence.  Waiting for an answer, Ringo did his best to keep up.  Suddenly, the man said, “Why’d you come?”


“Why’d you come, I asked you.”

Ringo searched for words.  ”I wanted to,” he said simply after a moment.

“Your father know? Give permission?”

Ringo nodded, swallowing the words from escaping his lips.  He wanted—no—needed this fight.  He couldn’t let his own mouth betray his desire to fight.  Besides, from the looks of it these guys might actually need him.

“How’s his leg?”

”Still poor.  It takes him a lot longer to get around and do  the things he used to.”

“Maybe he’s better off,” said the man.  Then he asked again, “You sure he sent you?”

Ringo, feeling uncomfortable, let the man move on ahead.  The man didn’t look back but continued to march on.  Once more Ringo allowed himself to drop to the back, deciding it was better to stay last.  AS he started to march again, however, he realized his father’s friend hadn’t replied to his questions.  The thought came to him: perhaps he didn’t have the answers.

Post: 1322 words
Total: 3780 words


Jutsu || Ringo || Locker

The Fighting Ground [Training/Private] Aya

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3The Fighting Ground [Training/Private] Empty Re: The Fighting Ground [Training/Private] on Sun May 18, 2014 7:47 pm



When the road reached the top of a ridge, they paused once more.  It was hotter, much more humid.  Ringo scanned the sky, noticing clouds building to the west.  Even though they hadn't gone long, some of the men threw themselves on the ground as if exhausted.  Others sprawled against trees. Most removed their hats. Some fanned themselves. The Corporal alone seemed anxious to get on. Atop his horse, he kept his eyes on the road ahead. Ringo rested by a tree.  His legs weren't tired, but his arms ached. He placed his satchel of weapons against the tree and studied where they were.

Off to one side of the ridge he could see a small, meandering creek and two small ponds that fed it. Thick woods stood beyond the pond. Farther on, perhaps half a mile, were more high hills. To the south it was also high and heavily wooded. Ringo could see where the road ran south and climbed again.  At the highest point, only a little way beyond, was Brock's Well, where they were going to fight.

He looked back and took measure of the clouds.  A storm was coming, a big one. He gazed about again. It was so quiet.  He could hear no birds. Not even the men were talking. Nor was there any wind, not the smallest hint of a breeze. The leaves on the trees, spring new and kelly green, hung limp. Such birds as there were flew too high.  The stillness made him uneasy. It was as if nothing was allowed to move but themselves, rushing on -- to what, he was not sure.

Suddenly aware that his heart was beating fast, he felt a great need to know of what was happening and what he had to do. But he was afraid of the kinds of questions his father's friend had asked. He didn't want to be noticed too much. They might send him home. Reluctantly, he decided he would just have to wait, and learn by watching the others.

"Corporal?" someone called.  "Where's your militia folks?"

Ringo had heard of the Militia.  He believed it's headquarters was three miles somewhere to the east, but wasn't sure. He was already farther from his home than he'd been in months since the Seven Bells escapade.

"They joining us?" someone else threw in.

Ringo could see from the way the men were watching that these were important questions.  They all wanted the assurance of more men, more bodies, at their side.  It improved their chances of survival.  That and it made them feel stronger.  Though Ringo knew it was more about quality than quantity.  He had learned that through his last heist.

"Wouldn't be fair for us to do their work," added another.

The Corporal shifted slowly and gazed stone faced down the road.  Some of the men looked knowingly at one another.  "We going or not?" asked the Corporal.  He spoke without looking back.

"You've got a reputation for being overfond of killing," someone said. "That ever reach your ears?"

That time the Corporal turned. "Sir," he said evenly, "if they do come, it'll be your home they'll burn, as well as my own."

No more words were spoken.  Instead, slowly, the men came to their feet.  The Corporal urged his men forward.  Silently, the men followed their orders and so did Ringo.  But he saw that once again the men had grown uneasy.  In the face of the man who had last spoken, he thought he recognized the same look his father had had when they parted: fear.

Marching made Ringo feel better.  He started to whistle but someone in front swiveled around and gave him an angry look.  Ringo stopped whistling.  The silence pressed him once again.  He didn't like the feeling and instead focused on the rubbing and grinding noises that his shoes made as they marched along.

After a slight dip the road began to rise.  The men moved slower. It wasn't long before Ringo was marching in their midst. He wished they would talk, but words came very seldom.

"Your wife," he heard one man ask another. "She is doing better, I hope?"

Ringo recognized the man. He was one of Fire Country clansmen who had lately come to live in the area.  He spoke with an accent.

"She's better," came the reply.

"That is very good," the foreigner said.  The conversation ended.  The only sound was the shuffling of feet, an empty and hollow sound. Ringo wondered how many such hollow steps it would take them to reach the fighting ground.

Clustered about a water well which gave it's name to the town, Brock's Well consisted of six houses by the road. Ringo couldn't recall if he'd been there before.  It looked familiar. But then, most of the houses thereabouts looked very much the same.  He puzzled over the name 'Brock's Well.'  He didn't know who or what was this 'Brock' but he, she, or it must have been important to have gotten to be the town's name.  He thought his father had gone there a few months ago.  He tried to remember why, but couldn't.  It annoyed him that he couldn't.

The men stopped at the well, where a woman was drawing water.  She didn't pause in her work, nor did she speak. But the band of men clearly made her uneasy.  Ringo watched her with curiosity, trying to guess her thoughts. How could she just doing nothing when so much was about to happen?

"Let's be quick about it," the Corporal called.  He had -- as before -- remained standing tall and straight.

The woman grew agitated under the scrutiny of the men.  "Here," she finally said, as she drew the water-filled bucket up. "You can have it."

It was the foreigner among us who, stepping forward, touched his forehead and said, "Merci."  Grasping the bucket in his hands, he drank deepy.  Then he passed the bucket on to the next.  Most of the men drank.  No one offered anything to Ringo.  He was always too shy. to ask.

The woman watched the bucket go around. "Where are you heading?" she asked.

Ringo was surprised by her question. HE had thought that everyone would know the fighting was to come.  His fight.

"Enemy ninja are headed this way," the Corporal said.

"Here?" eclaimed the woman. Her face had turned pale.

"If we don't stop them."

It took a moment for the woman to absorb the news. "From which way?" she asked. Her voice was small. One hand was at her throat.

"Up from the trade roads."

With a suddenness that took them all by surprise, the woman gathered up her skirts, turned, and fled.  It made the men laugh. Ringo wasn't sure why it seemed funny, but it did.  Only the Corporal hadn't laughed. "It's time to go," he said.

The laughter had eased the men. It was as if seeing the woman frightened made them feel better.  I won't be scared the way she was, Ringo thought. As they got ready to move again, they kept watching the house into which the woman had fled. Sure enough, she reappeared in a few moments with two young children and an old man. Hurriedly, they began swinging the wooden shutters over their windows. Then they rushed back inside. The door slammed loudly. The house looked dead. The men laughed again. Without any warning, one of them raised up his sword and hollered loudly into the air.

Everyone jumped.

The Corporal whirled, his face a crimson red. The man who had yelled was grinning broadly. "Damn you!" the Corporal cried. "Want them to know we're here?"

The grinning man looked about. He saw that others were also angry.

"Just a joke," he said, his grin fading.

"Fool!" the Corporal barked.  The man turned red.  "Now, damn all, hurry, we're late as it is."

Sullenly, all the laughter gone, the men went too.  For a moment Ringo remained behind, upset.  He turned to look at the Brock's Well homes. From some of them people emerged. They stood watching as the band moved off. Ringo began to find his pride again.  They were, he reminded himself, looking at him, for he too was a soldier.  Then, realizing he was being left behind, he bolted down the road.

Post: 1422
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Jutsu || Ringo || Locker

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4The Fighting Ground [Training/Private] Empty Re: The Fighting Ground [Training/Private] on Fri May 23, 2014 9:47 pm



Half a mile south of Brock's Well the road reached its highest point. The men moved slowly, almost reluctantly, to its crest. The Corporal, impatient as ever, kept the lead. At the top he jumped to the ground. They had arrived.

Some of the men sat down, some lay on their backs. Ringo noticed a number had brought flasks and were taking drinks. He wished he had taken some water at Brock's Well. He was thirsty now. A few of the men went to where the Corporal stood. Side by side they studied the road, which sloped gradually down toward the south.

It was a wide valley through which the road passed as if the road itself had once been a river that now ran dry. Trees to either side rose up like palisades. Because the road turned, it wasn't possible to see very far, no more than a quarter mile.  Ringo looked back over his shoulder. The clouds had rolled up higher.  They were thunderclouds of deep gray-blue, rising columns of layered darkness. If it rained, he knew, it would come hard, making it difficult for them to fight as effectively.

The men, including the Corporal, paid no mind to the clouds. Instead, they continued looking down the road that went beyond the hill. "We'll wait for them here," the Corporal said.

"They'll have to come on up," agreed one man. "Rising men shoot high," he added.  They all considered that for a moment.

"Thought you said we'd ambush them!" It was the man Ringo had tried to talk to, his father's friend. His face was pale, tense.

"We could, sure we could," agreed another quickly. "It'd be better. It would."

The Corporal shook his head. "No place to hide behind. Too wide. No walls. No fences. Nothing."

"Trees," Ringo suggested, pointing right of the road.  "If we just wait for them, let them come up to us.  We could catch them from their flank.  Be very effective."  He might have been the Corporal, but he should have seen the trees as a good enough spot.

"Fine," the Corporal agreed. "Into the trees then."

The men quickly filed in to the trees, taking into cover as they lined the road.  Ready in his own perch, Ringo looked over to the other men, finding the corporal laying in wait behind a fallen tree trunk.  Each man brandished their own weapons.  Some held tantos, others kunai and shuriken, and a few held out swords of various kinds.  Ringo took out his own trench knives, specially made for him back in Kumogakure no Sato.  Well, not really made for him as they were for her, but no matter, they were still going to be used today.

Ringo's father's friend began to object, shaking his head violently. "No," he said.  "I don't like this at all.  We drill and we fight, regularly, but not against such as these men."  He made a nod of his head as if to suggest what was coming up the road.

His words brought a nervous quiet.  Then someone said, "I'm willing to stand here.  I can't see any other way." It was the man who had shot off his gun in Brock's Well.

The Corporal took off his hat and pushed back his hair. "All agreed?" he asked.

No one replied.

"How much longer you think they'll be?" someone asked.

"Soon enough."

"Where's your militia folks, Corporal? That's what I'd like to know," someone called from Ringo's left.

The Corporal kept his eyes down the road.  His mouth pinched tighter.

It was then that Ringo first heard the distant pattering of feet.  As the others caught the sound, they lifted their heads.  Steadily, monotonously, the tapping came.  To it was added the higher pitched voices of the ninja coming down the road.  The voices slit through the air like the cutting of a blade.  Slowly, the men on the ground stood up and took positions behind their respective trees.

"They be coming," someone said.

Nobody moved.  They just stood there, watching the ninja get closer and closer.  They came loud and regular, like an angry clock. A tightness ran up Ringo's spine, into the nape of his neck.  He tried to cough, only to realize he had been holding his breath.  He looked about.  The men were all staring.  What they were seeing he couldn't tell.  One man pressed an open hand to his jaw, drawing his fingers across, pulling at his lips, making them grotesque.  Another man kept licking his lips.

It was then that Ringo got a warm heat from his stomach.  As soon as the heat had started spreading across his abdomen and around his waist, he knew what was happening.  "Oh no, not now." he said.  The Corporal turned around to shut him up but stopped mid-shush.

"Are you serious?"  The Corporal spat.  The man shook his head and rolled his eyes.  The others turned their attention onto Ringo.  "The boy still doesn't have control of his curse seal.!"

Ringo could feel the groans and disappointing stares.  Not that he didn't deserve them.  Being in his late twenties and still not learning everything about their clan's curse was frowned upon.  Though he was working on that, and his family understood it.  Still, there was nothing he could do as the heat and white light stretched over his body.  Soon the light flowed over his eyes and for a moment the world was pure white.

Once the white faded and the heat cooled off her body, Rin looked up at everyone.  A few of the men had stopped their looks of disappointment.  Instead, looking at her with looks of approval.  Ugh, men.  She thought.

"Pay attention, boys, the enemy is over there."  The men all turned around, a few coughing and grunting to get their minds back to reality.  

The Corporal rolled his eyes as well.  "Look, just do your part and maybe I can teach you some things about that curse seal."

Post: 1025
Total: 6227


Jutsu || Ringo || Locker

The Fighting Ground [Training/Private] Aya

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5The Fighting Ground [Training/Private] Empty Re: The Fighting Ground [Training/Private] on Wed May 28, 2014 3:57 pm



Sweating all over, Rin glanced about and hoped no one would see her anxiousness.  No one was looking at her.  Weapons ready, faces rigid, the men were staring down the road.  Even as she watched, Rin saw one of the men stick out his tongue, lick his lips, then hastily wipe away the spittle.  Another man kept clearing his throat.  A third rubbed an irritated eye.  Only then did Rin realize how much closer was the sound of the moving footsteps and voices coming from the road.  She snapped her head about.  At the end of the road, as it came out from behind the tall trees, the ninja were advancing.

Rin watched, spellbound, as the enemy marched into view.  Three by three they came, ten rows, thirty soldiers.  All moving in lockstep, their legs synchronized in time as they jogged forward, keeping a slow but steady pace as they moved on.  Though still at the bottom of the hill, the ninja seemed enormous.  Never had she seen such men.

In the growing gloom of the darkening clouds their golden, pointed caps glowed brightly.  Many wore great mustaches.  Their jackets were blue with dark red cuffs and ash gray buttons, their vests dark brown.  Their trousers, striped in blue and dark red, met boots of crow-feather black.  Each had a katana at his waist, a crossed white sash around his chest.  And in his left hand each carried a tall spear.

Rin had never seen so many men equipped with all of the same gear.  They were organized.  "Takei," the man next to Rin said. "It's the Takei clan."  The words filled the air with a dreadful weight.

Rin felt the men around her shift uneasily, sensing the fear that had settled over the group like a suffocating blanket.

The Takei.  The butchers to our clan . . .

"So many of them..." came a strained voice from right behind.

The Takei.  The mercenaries who killed for coin . . .

"Shut up!" roared the Corporal, trying to keep his voice under control. "No talking. Stand your ground!"

As Rin watched, the enemy troops continued to pace themselves.  The Takei clansmen conitued to march.  The men pulled out their swords and readied their knives and shuriken.  Rin could not take her eyes from the advancing troops.  All of them had cleared the bend now, moving so steadily that Rin wondered if they would be moving to fast to time the ambush right.  But just as she had the thought, they came to a stop, and the smooth flow of their march broke with a clumsiness that momentarily eased Rin's tension.

On his horse, the Takei officer cantered forward, looking side to side as he sniffed the area.  The men were almost exactly behind them.  Every Ozaki stayed hidden, everyone holding their breath as if a silent breath might let their position be known to the enemy.  The officer cued the men to continue and just as they started to pick up where they left off, the Corporal popped up from behind his cover and charged into the group.  His voice yelling loudly out of the forest and his battle cry was joined by the rest of the men.

Rin jumped forward as well, her trench knives bearing and ready to taste blood.  She saw the men fly to the enemy.  The ambush was indeed a surprise and she witnessed four of the Takei men fall from the beginning, their throats spraying blood from shuriken and kunai cuts.  The Corporal had leapt up at the Takei officer, the leap turning into a tackle as both fell off the other side of the horse.  Rin surged forward in between the first and second lines.  She battered aside a turning spear from one man in the second line and raised her left trench knife to cut a deep gash in the back of the neck of one man in the first line.  She turned the run into a slide along the road as the other two men in the second line swung their spears to catch her, the slide all but saving her life as the tipped blades hummed through the air above her head.

She picked herself up once she slid to the other side of the pack of Takei spearman.  They weren't ninja at all, Rin realized.  The intel was off and now the men weren't fighting an enemy that they knew.  Two men had been cut in the ambushing attack, but the rest still fought on.  The man that she had cut at the neck fell to the ground.  That made five Takei dead.  The Corporal still wrestled with the Takei officer just ahead of the remaining two first line spearmen.  Rin saw the Corporal's vulnerability just as the two front linemen did as well.

Rushing forward she pounced on both men, placing both trench knives deep into each of their necks.  Twisting her body up and around, Rin pushed off the two men and flipped in front of them, her push slamming them down into the ground.  She looked up, her flip having reversed her positioning so that she could watch the two men of the second line face her.  The Corporal was still busy fighting the Takei officer and needed more time.  Thinking on her feet, Rin aimed her wrists at the next two spearmen and fired off her line launchers.  The sharp needle point of the line launchers sinking an inch into each man's chest before the three prongs extended and pierce the body three more times.  Now with a better hold on the two men, Rin retracted the line launchers back to her wrist, sending the two men flying forward and landing face first on both of her sides.  The lines returned to the launchers and Rin stabbed down with her knives, piercing deep into the back of each man's neck.

Rin kept her eyes glued forward to watch the battle unfold before her.  Knowing that her knives had hit their mark, she stood up to face the next line of spearmen.  By now the Corporal had finished off the Takei officer and came to Rin's side.  Beyond the third line of Takei spearmen, the others weren't faring as well as Rin had.  Five more Takei men had fallen but four Ozaki had fallen as well.  That brought down the count to fifteen Takei spearmen against nine Ozaki.  The odds weren't looking good, but still they had cut down the Takei's by half.

Gathering her breath for another attack, the Corporal smiled at Rin, "Looks like you're still useful after all, girlie."  Rin couldn't help but smile at the backhanded compliment.  Though both of them knew that the real fight had only just begun.  The surprise of the ambush was now well over and the fighting ground was an even playing field.

Post: 1150
Total: 7377
Trained Reaction Time from D-1 to C-0. 1375/1375
Trained Perception from D-0 to C-0. 1700/1700
Trained Speed from D-0 to C-0. 1700/1700
Trained Endurance from D-0 to C-0. 1700/1700
Trained Strength from D-0 to D-2. 725/725
7200 words used. 177 left.


Jutsu || Ringo || Locker

The Fighting Ground [Training/Private] Aya

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6The Fighting Ground [Training/Private] Empty Re: The Fighting Ground [Training/Private] on Thu Jun 12, 2014 1:56 am



Rin took a few panting breaths, the movements catching up to her.  The Corporal charged forward into the next line of spearman. Firing her two line launchers out, Rin managed to keep two of the spearmen while the Corporal swiftly flew around the third Takei's spear and plunged his sword into the man's chest.

Her lines returning after failing to stick onto the two spearman, she waited for one of the men to make a move.  The one closest to his now fallen comrade turned to face the Corporal.  His spear was too long and the Corporal was too close.  The Takei spearman only lived for another second before being cut down as well.  The third man of the third line had faced Rin instead, thrusting his spear at her chest.  She aptly parried it off to her side with a clash of her knife, grabbing at the shaft with her other hand and holding it steady.  The man panicked, trying to pull his spear free as the Corporal moved forward to the kill.

Three more spearman down.  The other twelve had backed up somewhat, trying to create some distance to use their spears well.  A stronger line had formed, now two rows of six spearmen.  Each row aimed their spears outwards, creating a sharp barrier of twelve spears between them and the remaining nine Ozaki.

Two Ozaki men rushed forward, using their weapons to try and force a hole through the wall of spears.  They battered away two spears, but then four more replaced the hole, two of each going through their spines and dumping their corpses on the dusty road.  It was a standstill.

The Takei spearmen weren't rushing to attack, still feeling the pressure of our ambush.  They were in full defensive mindsets.  Now that it was twelve versus seven, things looked more in their favor.  Together they all began waving their spears in circular motions.  To the bewilderment of Rin and the Corporal and the other Ozaki, chakra began to become visible in each of the spears.

They knew jutsu and they were about to amplify their spears together in one concussive force.  Reacting fast, the Corporal spat out a tremendous amount of water from his mouth and compacted it into his hands.  Just as the spear jutsu began to shoot out at the seven Ozaki, the Corporal's water jutsu surged outwards, a total of ten meters wide in every dimension.  The water wave collided brilliantly with the massive attack of the spearmen, creating a huge explosion of chakra that forced everyone off their feet.  The water surging out in every direction, throwing Rin out and into the woods.

Rin felt herself get lifted, the water surrounding her body and waves of chakra flooding over her body as she was thrown, tossed, and plunged into the thick.  The rush of everything stimulated her entire body, feeling every hit of tree branch, trunk and earth as she tumbled to a stop.  The water and chakra burst dying, she fell hard against a tree trunk, her body collapsing in exhaustion.


In the immense silence all that Rin could hear was her own breath.  It came at first in short, reaching gasps.  As it slowed to normal, she felt a pain growing inside, a pain spreading through her body, pressing from within.  She began to cry.  The cry came at first in pieces, as if the cry itself had been shattered and existed only in fragmentary, jagged bits.  But bit by bit the cry grew whole, taking over until every part of her cried.

Deep, racking sobs came then, dry and hard.  She felt a terrible loneliness.  She did not know what she was or what would become of her.  She did not know what to do, where to go.  All she knew was pain.

After several minutes, exhausted, Rin could cry no more.  She rolled over onto her back and realized she was still holding her trench knives.  Slowly, she let them go.  But her fingers, as if frozen in memory, remained tightly cramped and clawed, shaped like a shell over what they no longer held.  Lying on her back, Rin stared up at the overhanging trees, a laced and dark green net.  High above her the leaves constantly shifted, making a soft, hissing sound.  She closed her eyes and shuddered.

Rin pushed herself to a sitting posture and looked about, wondering where she was.  She tried to recall which direction she had come from, but could not.  She pulled up her knees and, leaning forward, rested her chin on her arms.  Tightly hugging herself, she rocked softly back and forth, sniffling.

Her sleeves were torn.  There was a smear of blood on her shoe.  She touched the spot, finding it sticky.  She then became aware of the trickle of blood on her legs, following it up to her right thigh where a tree branch had punctured right through her skin like a sowing needle pointing out of a ball of yarn.

"Oh no, oh no, oh no," she whispered.  She had failed in all she had meant to do.

She was alive and wished that she was dead, but not being dead, she was scared that she might die.  Rin rubbed away her tears with the dirty heel of her hand.  She blew her nose.  She tried to move, to stand.  When her weakened legs buckled, she reached for a tree.  Fighting dizziness, she pulled herself up.  She saw only bright, white points and flashes.  She closed her eyes.  Then, standing steadily at last, she opened them.

All around was woods.  It was dark and seemed to be growing darker.  Rin wondered what time it was, how many hours had passed.  As she turned around, her foot came up against her knives.  She bent down and picked them up.  For a moment she held them in her hands and just looked at them.  Slowly, she placed them in their sheaths, resting them on each side of her hips.

She relieved herself.  Then Rin turned and tried to think of which way to go.  What she wanted to do was run away, to go as far as possible and not return.  But standing there, she heard a sound.  Quickly she turned and saw a Takei spearman standing not far off.

The spearman was no more than thirty feet from Rin.  Standing rigid, partially hidden by low branches, he was turning his head this way and that, as if he was searching for something.  Rin watched intently from behind a bush, certain the soldier was looking for her.  She stared, trying to grasp the reality of what was happening.  She could not.  Rin knew that she had to do something, but she remained where she was, her gaze riveted by the Takei's height, his bright uniform, the pale face beneath the high, golden cap.  He seemed so powerful, holding his spear in two large hands across his chest.  He seemed enormous.

Why, Rin kept asking herself, is he looking for me?  What have I done?  What have we all done to deserve this?  Were all the others caught and am I, alone, still free?  Did they run?  Did they get out alive?  Am I the only one alive?

The tall soldier, moving silently, took several steps in Rin's direction.  Again he stopped, and stared about.  Then he turned his back on Rin, only to turn again.  Rin heard a crackling snap twenty feet in another direction.  Startled, she shifted her gaze.  A second soldier was there.  He was not quite as tall as the first, but fierce, with a sweeping mustache.  He seemed older, too.

"Do you see anything?" the tall Takei called to the second.  Again, Rin told herself that she had to try and escape.  Slowly, trying to make no noise, she squatted low and pivoted her heels.  Pivoting, she looked behind her, hoping to find a way to go.  To her horror she discovered a third Takei.  She was completely surrounded.

"She'll kill us if we're not careful," the new spearman said, speaking softly.  He was much younger than the others, with a thin, blond wisp of a mustache.

"Let's get out of here," said the older one.  "It is stupid and dangerous. We'll never find her."

Rin closed her eyes and tried desperately to make some plan to get out safely.  Maybe she should wait for them to leave and hope that they would not notice her.

"A couple more minutes." said the tall soldier.

"I'm sick of it," said the older.

Rin crouched low to the ground, certain the Takei would soon find where she was and that they wood be too many and too fast for her to get out of this alive.

The young spearman spoke again, but Rin could not understand him, his words coming out in a muttering tone.  She watched their faces intently.  Suddenly, she was sure she understood: she was going to kill them.

Rin jumped up, standing straight and tall before all three of them. "Hello, fuckers!" she cried.  Out came three shuriken from one long arc of her right hand.  One after the other, each shuriken was released in proper time as her hand arced all the way around her body and fired off one at each of their throats.

"My God!" the tall soldier cried. "Right before our ey-"  His voice cut off as the shuriken lodged itself deep into his neck, going far enough to rip open the jugular.

Their bodies all dropped in a harmonious thud, almost synchronized.  She watched each of them fall, the earth punching the shuriken deeper into their throats.  Satisfied with their deaths, Rin made sure no one else was around.  Discovering that she was alone once more, she aimed her forearm to a thick tree branch and fired off a line, pulling herself up to the branch.  Rin released the line from the branch in time to adjust her flight path, landing with a crunch on the tree branch.

Now it was time to see about the others.

Total: 9069
Used: 7200
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The Fighting Ground [Training/Private] Aya

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