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1Firelights. [Kirei] Empty Firelights. [Kirei] on Fri Nov 30, 2018 2:24 am



Firelights. [Kirei] XIlrcfX

Festival Grounds 9 PM

It was late in Konohagakure, but the village seemed very much alive. People were bustling through the streets, practically shoulder to shoulder as they took advantage of the festivities. Most of the outsiders of the village fell victim to your standard tourist traps that fill these types of events. Carnival games that were impossible to win, floppy masks that had insane price tags, and thieves in the midst of it all were just a few to mention. The most absurd of them would have to be the food. Because festivals did not happen that often, vendors used the term ‘limited time products’ to pull people in. To the customers, it would seem like they were buying a snack that they could only get that day, but in reality, they were just paying for a simple onigiri for triple the price. It always seemed to work, though, as there was always going to be someone that buys these things. It could be anyone, a kid begging his mom for a chance to win a goldfish, teenagers that were looking to have fun or men that wanted to impress their date. Variety was a common thing to see in festivals, as you never really know what kind of people you could see. These sort of things would probably never change, with the people in charge coming up with new and better ideas for scamming innocent people. But, that was just how the world worked.

Ryo was in the middle of the noise this particular night. A few months ago, he probably would not even bother coming to these stupid exams. After all, he was practically dragged to the last ones. Before, he was not anything special. He was simply your ‘everyday ninja’. He went day by day doing nothing besides the occasional mission that involved catching a lost cat or cleaning someone’s house. These simple tasks garnered him enough money that kept his foster parents satisfied enough to let him stay in their home, so all was well. Though, over the last several months, his life has started to change. The events in Sunagakure seemed to have happened only yesterday. Although he was not really involved or trusted enough to do anything relevant during Iwagakure’s efforts, he did and saw all he needed to. He remembered the lady that helped him in the tunnels, who used the powers of ice to mercilessly slaughter the bandits that wanted to kill Ryo and the innocent civilians he was supposed to protect. He did not do anything that day, and he settled into the role of being the protected. This changed during one of his recent missions, though. A simple thing like gate duty changed his life around. Those men made a fool of Ryo. They pushed him to the ground like he meant nothing, and bombarded him with blows until he had to succumb to unconsciousness. The man who saved him, Tobetsu, told Ryo that he had the potential to be something great. Ryo, realizing that he had to change his life, took the man’s offer. It was the time that he was not to be left in the dust anymore. He had to catch up to his peers. He had to get stronger. And so, Ryo was a participant in the exams this time around. If he performed well, Tobetsu would take him under his wing. If he performed poorly, he was to continue being the statue that he once was.

He walked the crowded streets of Konohagakure, weaving through the walls of people with no issue. After all, he was used to being invisible. The stars were out but were hidden behind the street lamps that lit up the street. All around him were the typical stands. All of them with bright colors and large font that tried to convince you that what they were selling was worth it. There were also several signs and poster hung around the area, advertising a fireworks show that would start in a short few hours. Voices could be heard from everywhere in the village, with each one talking about something different. However, the people around Ryo were talking about the same thing. Ryo was wearing his normal, not-so-special outfit which seemed to become more and more popular. The same white short-sleeved button-up and black slacks that he wore during his first round in the exams. Only happening a few days ago, his fight was still hot in the news.  Ryo kept his head down, trying not to draw attention to himself, but everyone’s eyes were on him. As he passed groups of people, the same things echoed in his mind. While it may or may not be his imagination, his guilt and shame made the words hit hard. Each time he heard the words, it hurt more and more. They said things like, ‘there he is again’, ‘that kid got destroyed!’, or ‘did you see what he did to that kid?’. The ones that his the hardest were the ones that believed that Ryo did not feel anything after what he did. They had no idea what he felt. He made a stupid mistake by using a jutsu he was unfamiliar with. This mistake was not something that could be fixed. It caused him to watch a kid have his costume burned into his skin before watching his crisp body fall into a neverending pit. If this was what being strong meant, Ryo considered going back home. He did not want any of this. He did not ask to snuff out the bright light of life that he young opponent. Xiao treated Ryo like a friend, and what did he do? He did not believe that he could never forget the kid’s pained filled face.

In short, Ryo did not enjoy these voices and was only really in public because of the fireworks that were tonight. It was not often that he had the chance to see something like that, after all. The village hidden in rocks never really did anything as exciting as fireworks. Ryo slowed his pace, stopping at a stand that advertised yakisoba. The stand was not anything special, with its banner not being as extravagant as the stands around it. Another popular festival food that was overpriced, but this one, at least to Ryo, was well worth the price. If anything could make him feel better, it was fried noodles and meat. He went to the register, opening his mouth to place his order.

“Uh, one order of yakisoba... please.” The woman behind the counter did not bother to look up at Ryo, quickly going to prepare his food. Ryo actually preferred this, as his current face was not anything good to look at. With messy hair and red eyes that had pretty prominent bags under them, he looked as if he has not slept in days. So, it was probably for the best that no one looked at him. However, when the woman behind the stand went to hand Ryo his food, their eyes locked with one another's. Ryo’s eyes begged the lady not to say anything, but the girl’s sense of curiosity did not care about Ryo’s pleas. Almost immediately, her words came flooding out.

“Aren’t you that guy that killed that kid?”

He was unsure if this was what the woman said, but that was what he heard. It was probably not the woman’s intention, but the words were like a punch to the face. Immediately, Ryo froze. His stomach churned as the memory of the fight came flooding in. His face turned pale as his eyes saw Xiao once again. Immediately, the hunger that he has had for the last three days was pushed back. His yakisoba was in his hands, so all he had to do was turn around and leave. However, his feet did not move. His hands fumbled, practically dropping his food on the counter as his words came stammering out.

“A-A-... Actually-... I-... I’m not hungry.” his voice was weak, raspy, and stuttered. The woman looked at him, giving her head a questionable tilt to the right as he continued, “You-... uh… You can just… give that to the next guy…” With that, the ice around his feet melted away as he practically sprinted to somewhere, anywhere, with fewer people. He ended up in a park, where he found a spot on an empty bench. The people around him gave him questionable looks which could be seen as pity or disgust. He put his head in his hands, trying to block out the world. He just wanted this to end.

Word count: 1454 of 1454

2Firelights. [Kirei] Empty Re: Firelights. [Kirei] on Sun Dec 02, 2018 6:07 am



Bright lights over dark skies, the Konohagakure skyline glowed spectacularly, resonant strands of color and sound shone vividly and then fell toward the earth, shackled back down where they vanished into ashes and dust. Every few steps, a flash of glowing radiance cast its will upon the streets, painting smiles with the vibrant hue against with the hiss crack of resounding thunder echoing across the rooftops, bouncing gleefully into the stars above. Marching to the beat of the festival's timbre, the quiver of a fevered crowd formed angry snakes with glowing scales to weave through the Hidden Leaf, tearing a cover of jubilant cries at the revelation of each shape and noise exploding into existence before their eyes. Kirei hated the festival nights, he hated the flashing lights and booming rhythm of drums, the ocean of unfamiliar faces, price gouging, dancing, singing, most of all he hated being alone. The Uchiha was beginning to lose track of where the lies ended, and he started, spying on the Leaf's Black Ops meant a cover so deep that plunging himself neck deep into the Village meant little time to maintain his friendships, the children he had known spread across the world in service of the Land of Fire. Socializing with his compatriots rendered impossible under threat of detection, and no such associations on the other side of the veil strung between deception and reality.

Faded silhouettes drifted through the peripherals of the Uchiha's Sharingan, focused through gritted teeth to keep his aching eyes still and focused at his feet. The long years watching a world of swirling color had numbed Kirei to its beauty, the Dōjutsu which had been his savior in the Bloody Mist had become a curse. Traditions ran true in Uchiha blood, and the young shinobi swore under his breath as another pulsating light crackled into elegant raindrops, prompting the Sharingan to reflexively pull toward it, struggling against all of Kirei's will to keep them still. Claustrophobic in the sea of onlookers, Kirei's shoulders slithered through the people trying to navigate the labyrinth from below, head drooped low beneath the hood of his Jōnin flak jacket, unzipped from the pouch around his neck and pulled tight in a feeble attempt to shield his exterior vision from the shock and awe of Heaven's rage above. Foraging clumsily through memories of childhood celebrations, Kirei recalled the year he graduated the Academy, climbing to the roof of his father's mansion and watching from the ruined structure the sights and sounds of a production no less grandiose than now, and how through twinkling eyes, gaped and jawed as Hi no Kuni earned its namesake with explosions in the clouds. Something clutched in the jaw between nostalgia and depression snapped, and with another boom, Kirei's eyes shot heavenward in time to see the star ignite above him, saturating his eyes with lines of abstract color bursting into vicious, jagged pangs and causing him to yelp. Eyes closing, arm encircling, nothing could cease the Sharingan's visual prowess, and Kirei yipped impotently underneath the music and wonder of the night's ceremony.


To punctuate his immature curse word, the Uchiha turned a cold shoulder toward the show, rubbing his eyes did nothing to alleviate the soreness as the corners of his eyes burned back into reality from the canvas of useless color obscuring his sight. Memory guided the boy's ascension to the rooftops, awkwardly fumbling with the ledge of a bright neon sign, ignoring the burn of halogen light bulbs on his hands, determined to cast away the painful fluorescent theatre he missed so dearly. Swiftly thoughts turned to recent nights in the forest, rogue ninja and the battles he had fought while serving the Hidden Leaf, protecting the Nation in which he had invested all his diffuse passion, pulled surely as the rising sun from the life he used to know. One by one, Kirei planted the seeds stolen hope back into Konohagakure. Watching all those he had known surpass him on the path toward shinobi, the Uchiha took pride in his worth if all he did was help the village, and the betrayal, bloodshed, and violence may prove worthwhile in the end if only he could persevere, that somewhere there would unquestionably be some meaning to this madness.

Finally finding purchase and starting desperately toward the inky deep in the outskirts of the city, Kirei began to run, shedding the yoke of loneliness' weighty fingertips pressed against the mantle of his shoulders. Emblazoned at the rear of his line toward salvation, the crest of the Uchiha clan stared back toward the Hidden Leaf's horizon, decorated in the elation of tradition and the ninja way. Whistling past Kirei's ears and face, the breeze culled the black hood from his head allowing a waterfall of golden hair to spill a trail in his wake, bangs brushing the boy's skin as he blinked uselessly, still awaiting the breadth of his vision to return and praying that somehow he would see the world again as once he did. Instead, a horde of misshapen, colored shadows and chakra patterns leaked through his throbbing eyes, reminding him of the Sharingan and all its riches. With clarity restored, Kirei's vehement sprint returned to catlike deftness as he darted from the chimneys, aerials, and telephone poles littering his paths like islands strewn across a vast lake, or the lullaby of a Siren's song leading to the nowhere he had sought to find.

Sprawling urban chaos decayed into black windows of empty houses, clearings, and playgrounds with parks and trees rising from suburbia's isolated sprawl. Towering monuments lit by infernos in the sky became sticks and branches growing from the Hidden Leaf and stretch themselves across the sky, connecting hidden stars with roads of unknown, barren depth. Jumping from on high, the Uchiha made a sharp descent, landing with his heel swinging to the toe, fluidity honed by years of training, and the crucible of Kirigakure all those years ago, into a brief sprint, slowing to a jog as urgency cooled from the fevered, reactionary withdrawal Kirei had made from the city center. Finally subsiding, the Uchiha found himself at one with the quiet of deserted streets, and the song of distant birds at the city's edge, picturing them in rows, singing atop the wall enclosed around the Village, cheerfully watching over the home Kirei fought tirelessly to protect. Somehow freed from his anxiety, the teen took a drawn-out breath of the fresh air, a far cry from humid, smoky crowds thick with incense and herbal mixtures, steam, and smoke of street vendors which had slogged, like molasses into the Uchiha's lungs. In the momentary stillness, Kirei reflected on his faith, that somehow all of this would come to pass in time, and the world would emerge better for it in the end.

Only those who also sought the dark wandered alone through dimly lit streets, distant crackling reaching far away from where the fireworks' light could no longer shine. To the beat of this new ambiance, Kirei's strolled along wide streets, passing those with summer jackets, light enough to enjoy the temperate midnight, to whom he nodded and grinned with hospitality as they smiled back, thankful to the Jōnin for his service. Turning sharply, the Uchiha made his way into the depths Kohi Park, a small but venerable meditation garden, surrounded on all sides by meticulously tended gardens. Reeds of bamboo and trees became the Uchiha's map, until the foliage either side of his path opened through a gate into the park which looked toward the main road of this charming district. Having evidently arrived from the inverse end of the only guest to Kohi's lonely embrace, chakra swirling wildly within, catching the Uchiha's attention. Something lingered in the air around the figure, recognized by Kirei as a profound aura of doubt and frustration, the Sharingan's analysis and his own ROOT training to decipher the emotions of his enemies playing roles in his decision to approach.

From behind, Kirei would emerge into the side of Ryō's view, coming to a halt with hands buried deep in pockets at his waist, and look down toward the boy with Sharingan shimmering and his trademark smile faintly, warmly greeting him with just a look. Konohagakure Hitai-ate tied around his neck, in the traditional uniform of his Village, Kirei could be marked immediately as a Hidden Leaf shinobi, military regalia showing through any casual impression he had intended to make, and were it not enough, the Sharingan accompanied a crest of the agent's clan across his uniform as well. The Uchiha could not tell whether it was pragmaticism or paranoia that drove him to forsake civilian clothes, persisting for months in various stages of cloak, dagger, mask, and hood, only dressing such as this on nights like these, the mandatory leave granted to ninja in his line of work, who saw more than they would dare to repeat. Longing to busy himself, Kirei peered at Ryō as his voice rang out, calm and smooth with a soft chuckle, as if to justify his presence.

"Had to get away from the fireworks. These eyes aren't fond of lights like that. What's your excuse for being so far from all the fun?"

Unable to cease his eyes from studying the other ninja's features, Kirei's thoughts barreled into a wall of rumors and whispered names as at once he recognized the young shinobi before him. Fūjita, Ryō had been the talk of Konoha since the end of his first Exam match ended in the tragic death of a Genin from the Hidden Mist, escalating tensions such as the riot Kirei had helped subdue less than twenty-four hours ago. Beyond the revelation was a more profound understanding, Kirei could recognize, from the mirror in his room in Kiri, the troubled facade he once had worn when he embarked upon the same irrevocable path.

"You know it's not your fault, right? None of this is your fault."



J U T S U | | I T E M S

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