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Kejido had been running his usual jog from time to time to keep in shape but once more it was time to take a break and go admire something new. Of course that meant stepping outside the village and looking around and about but that wasn't really an issue. There was a line of carts heading south which meant he could have an easy ride along for his protection services until he was ready to hop off. Still it took a few merchants to barter with before one of them just didn't mind the small inconvenience of giving someone a ride. He was clearly not a homeless man with his clean attire. Military by the look of him.

So either he was being extravagant with his lie or he was what he claimed to be. One just seemed more likely than the other. A little extra free muscle never hurt either. Still he would hop into the cart and ride along with a bored expression on his face. The smell of the horse strong in his nostrils as they finally set out. Of course he wasn't needed and the ride was a little boring and just barely faster than walking. So when he came across the stone bridge he figured an hour from the village was plenty. Hopping off there and taking pause to let the rest of the caravan pass. Moving onto the bridge himself once they were all finally gone.

He had chosen to wear his specialist uniform. It only had the one white stripe and a red, green and white stripe under it over his left breast but it was enough to indicate his rank. Additions having been stitched in since he had gone up within his clans ranks twice since last he was here. His uniform was pressed firmly with clean creases. Black in color with red shoulder pads and red stripes around his neck and wrists. A row of four copper buttons on each side of his shirt all buttoned up. His slacks were held up by a white belt with a copper seal with his clans symbol on it. Polished black boots and white gloves finished off the look.

For some odd reason though he had a kunai in a white sheath on his left hip as if there for decorative purposes. Only the hilt sticking out. Of course he had three senbon up each sleeve but those were hidden. His headband was stitched into his left shoulder carefully marking him as an Iwa nin. In his uniform and with his posture he appeared to be very regal. Straight backed with a solid stride.

It would take a minute but finally he would reach the middle of the bridge. Alone out there he would take a breath and listen to the roaring water just beneath the bridge under his feet. Looking out of the mist and to the rocky hills beyond. It was a nice sight if not a little cold. Idly he would lean on the stone guard on the side and cup his chin in his right hand. His left hand shifting to cup his right elbow which was leaning on the stone. Holding it in place with some comfort. It was nice to look at at least. Still, progress seemed painfully slow. As if the days just dragged on and on and he was gaining nothing in the meantime. It wasn't true of course. He had mastered a few genjutsu and a couple taijutsu even. Yet it felt like so little. He needed a distraction or something more. He needed motivation, progress.




The days had passed into weeks for Taiho. Life had gained a sense of normality or a feeling of a never eroding constant that drug on for as long as he allowed it to. And in a sense, this was fine to him. For the first time in what felt like years, life felt... normal. And yet, here he was, sticking to the side of a cliff, meditating and focusing his body internally to maintain some semblance of balance and mental fortitude. It wasn’t necessarily difficult, or even remotely straining. In all honesty, he could likely maintained the position while sleep with very little effort or mental concentration aside from regulating his chakra levels to ensure he didn’t slip or blow himself off the cliff face. No his mental issues were more internal. His anger and disgust with himself had begun to grow again as he felt the gains that he had made in the past few months were beginning to slowly but surely dwindle until it seemed as if he wasn’t progressing any further.

You could make an argument for him plateauing. A common thing to happen amongst genin who would accel quickly without leadership or guidance only to hit the legendary glass ceiling that all must breakthrough to hit that next level. It had been far too long since he had felt the sting of the ceiling however. Not since he had arrived in this strange land. Not since he had lost the watchful eye of his father. It wasn’t enough to receive one time instruction from a powerful foe or teacher. It wasn’t enough to train from sunup to sundown endlessly. It wasn’t enough to claw his way through mission after mission to ensure that his accolades were in tip top shape. No he had to be the best, the strongest, the fastest, the bravest, the smartest. He had to be at the top and ensure that those on his level knew he was far above them. Not for any egotistical reason like lording his strength over them. No he was meant to be the first wall, the bastion. But what bastion breaks after one swing. What bastion allows demons into the lands or allows civilians to die without ever lifting a finger or saying a word? If he was the people’s last hope, he was a damn shitty one.

His mental evaluation continued well into the morning. Greeted by the rising sun and the growing sounds of traffic as the many peddlers, merchants and travelers made their way through the gorge and either into the village or away into the many other destinations that fed into the location. It honestly amazed Taiho that such a location could have a singular point of interest and maintain it so well. Of course there were other routes into the village, but the Stone Bridge was easily the best. It was the most well maintained, most easily defensible, and in certain classified scenarios, the best location to trap and eradicate the enemy forces. It also served as a throughway of Iwa’s water supply as the river running underneath was part of a rather extensive underground river network that flowed all the way from the northern sea to River Country. Of course this section was only one part of this network, but it provided a necessary service and due to the river being primarily subterranean, the village didn’t have to stress over another village either holding it hostage or poisoning it due to the natural flows that underground rivers sometimes took. All in all it made it the prime location for the village even if it was outside of the village proper.

The traffic continued to grow as the day progressed, growing steadily until it was an almost constant flow of people had turned the stone structure into a virtual highway. Taiho ignored the proceedings for the most part, his own attention focused inward as he watched many people come and go from the village, but alas there was finally one thing that caught his attention. Amongst all the proceeding carriages and caravans, one actually stopped in the middle of the bridge. Of course it was only momentarily as otherwise it would’ve caused such a ruckus that it would’ve stopped traffic entirely for the rest of the day, but it was a long enough stop for one person to get off of the caravan before the remainder continued on. The person who stepped off was peculiar in a way to Taiho. The clothing he wore wasn’t unfamiliar to him surprisingly enough. His own people wore something similar back home when not in their armor, hell some even wore it with their armor if you could believe that. And yet the military outfit didn’t seem to hinder him much, in fact it was almost as if the boy had been raised in and taught to fight in the military standard outfit. That garnered a bit of surprise and respect from Taiho who from personal experience couldn’t stand those stuffy suits unless he had one personally tailored for his specific body type.

The young man definitely had his attention after he had approached the edge of the bridge as traffic finally cleared up for what was likely the lunch break leaving just him there to stand about in silence. From Taiho’s perspective, the young man was clearly contemplating. What he was contemplating? No clue, he wasn’t a mind reader, but hey he could also just be enjoying the view. Regardless, it piqued the young man’s interest enough that he would at least cease his own training for a moment. Adjusting his position so that as he stood, his feet would stick to the rocky cliff face instead of his legs, he’d pat himself down, causing dust and dirt to fall down from his body quietly. Once he felt he was at least somewhat presentable, he’d push off of the cliff face, body soaring through the air as he angled his body to land stably on the hard stone floor of the bridge in a standing slight crouch. He’d relax his body fully out of the crouch, reducing the pressure on his knees before standing comfortably before the boy with his hands in his gray hoodie pockets. His legs were clad in black tight kunoichi pants that stopped around mid calf and he wore a pair of simple gray sneakers with a flexible metal plate slid in between the cushion of the sole to protect the wearers feet from ground traps and to maintain silence when moving. His long blonde hair was tied up in a ponytail that lay against his lower back as his face held a sort of neutral inquisitive look about it. He approached the young man from behind regardless of which side of the bridge he was facing considering he himself was leaning against the stone guard rails of the bridge. Opening his mouth, Taiho would announce his presence with a soft,

“Pretty far out for a introspection session. Could’ve done one of those during a team building exercise couldn’t you?” His voice was unusually soft, extremely feminine in it’s timbre just like a females. It honestly didn’t surprise him anymore that men and women alike attributed him to the female gender with how his body looked and how he acted and sounded, but sometimes he wondered what it would be like if his body had been more like his fathers. Of course that was a thought for another time and place as he focused back on the young man in front of him.

WC: 1264


Oh looky, a bridge made of stone in a stone country....go figure (Invite only) 2f73949cb5ebecf54a5746d5fc0c93e4

Oh looky, a bridge made of stone in a stone country....go figure (Invite only) LATo3uk



Kejido would slowly adjust his view over the area. His hands on the railing as he stood alone for a short time when the bridge would not be stuffed to the brim with people living such shallow and unimportant lives. None of them striving to be greater than themselves. Barely any structure or code to their daily motions. It sounded so boring and endless to him. Like they wouldn't care for more than their provided lot. He had always wanted more but even his own parents had decided to flat line their progress. To spend time with him no less. Of course his ridiculous grandfather had agreed with the sentiment and even slowed his promotion rate for a time. He was mostly back on track now but that had taken more work than he had originally planned for or wished to put in. How troublesome these politics are. Still they could be navigated as they had structure. His thoughts were mostly just complaints like that in his mind. Settled there with all the beauty and life around him only to brood on his lot in life and still feel superior to those around him. It was his way most of the time.

That said he wasn't so unaware as to miss the ever so slight sound of someone touching down on the ground behind him. However it wasn't a solid tap like someone attempting some simple acrobatics but a subtle shift of the sole of a shoe. Someone trained in keeping their movements quiet. He would prevent himself from the initial sensation to stiffen. To suddenly move in preparation for an attack. Instead a kunai would subtly slide into his hand from up his own sleeve. His toes shifting to point in either direction. Minimal movements and a prepared blade to subdue the enemy target. It didn't matter their reason or who they were. It simply mattered that his damage would overwhelm them suddenly. His breath grew steady as he listened. Paranoia was common within their family ranks after all. They were officers within a military system. Prestige and power came with the territories of kidnap and assassination. Not that he had warranted anything just yet. Perhaps someone knew of his methods and his goals. They intended to put a stop to the future with the nation in his grasp. Not Kage of course but perhaps just as potent. A military power all his own.

Of course this was thrown off by the announced voice so unexpected he almost jumped to the side to dodge whatever was coming. He had expected the sound of a blade being thrown so a voice was ever more prominent. His shoulders did actually stiffen as he bristled from the unexpected. Still he would contain himself from little beyond that. Instead the kunai would remain hidden behind the palm of his hand as he would turn and fold his arms behind his back. Remaining straight backed and standing tall. His chin ever so slightly reclined so that he was almost looking down at the already slightly shorter individual. A girl? Looked like a girl, sounded like a girl....something was off though. He couldn't place it for the time being. Still he would smile to her words as those silver eyes studied her. As if making notes as they did. His words in reply were like silk on the ears. Mesmerizing to listen too. Almost hypnotic. A charming smile with the perfectly kept uniform. He was every bit the high class boy he had been raised to be.

"If they could have kept up with me perhaps. More of a specialist anyway. And yourself? Wandering around surprising strangers on a bridge for fun?"


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