"Again, training alone..." Baenlin said mournfully. He was tired of his solo life. He thought that would change after becoming a shinobi, but little had changed. He was beginning to view it as the fault of the village, of the kage, but he saw little he could do about it. He did not yet have the influence to change it, and to gain that influence he needed to progress as a ninja. The trouble with that was that in order to progress as a ninja he need a team, and that was part of the problem he needed the influence to fix to begin with. It was a very troublesome problem, but all Baenlin could do was hope an answer came. He knew of one possibility...but it was a choice he was loath to make. Still, he would make it if something did not happen in the next week.
Until then, Baenlin would simply keep doing as he was: grit his teeth and continue his training alone. He would need the strength with whatever path he took, and he could not deny that he was quickly becoming stronger. He had not imagined, once upon a time, that he would be able to take the four fighters that he had. He had not hurt them too badly, but Keneji would forever bear the burns of the last blast of lightning Baenlin had aimed at him and the angry girl from the team he had faced off against was still recovering from a half dozen broken ribs and an area of torn up skin where the rasengan had hit her. The girls that were still out of the hospital continued to track his movements. They thought they were being sneaky about it, but it was hard for the petite one to be stealthy about anything when he had that huge bandage on her face from where Baenlin had taken her down during the fight. After all of that he had decided it would probably be best to take his training out of the village again for a while. He was starting to gain some resentment in the village for his remarks and he knew that the girls would use that against him.
So here he was, out here in his favorite clearing again. He had three kunai in hand as he contemplated all of this. He threw them up and began the hand signs for his Lightning Release: Flight of Screeching Eagles. He suddenly had to change his focus away from his thoughts and to the now descending kunai. All three bolts raced towards a different kunai as they were guided by Baenlin. The bolts struck the kunai from above and this quickened their descent. The kunai hurtled towards the ground and stabbed in to it tip first, spark of lightning still dancing up and down the weapons from the bolts. Baenlin continued this exercise for about an hour, working to improve his control over the bolts, but eve he had to admit he was not making much progress with it, that this was probably as good as his skill with this jutsu was going to get. It was a little frustrating, but the jutsu was also already performing as it should be, so he couldn’t complain too much.
So, instead of beating the dead horse with a pointless exercise, Baenlin moved on to a more pragmatic exercise. He began a kind of shadow boxing exercise, only it was different in that Baenlin incorporated his jutsu and his katana and kunai. He started normally, acting as though he was blocking a series of blows and then returning them back at the enacted opponent. Eventually he acted as though the caught his opponent’s arm, pushed forward behind his opponents elbow to lock it, then pulled back on the arm he had used to lock his opponent, created a rasengan, and drove it through the back of his pretend opponent. As Baenlin recovered from that, he envisioned that two trees behind him were enemies. He threw two kunai their way, which he saw them being deflected by his opponents but Baenlin had already followed the kunai with the bolts from his Lightning Release: Flight of Screeching Eagles and Baenlin imagined his opponents being caught mid deflection. The resulting hits would have killed most opponents, just as he imagined it did to these two, but there were many more enemies in the mind of Baenlin.
Three more enemies came at Baenlin, all of these wielding swords. Baenlin drew his own katana and pretended to meet all three of them. He flowed from one pose to the other as if he was defending himself from each of there blows. He continued flowing through the block and parry poses for some time, acting as though he was wearing out his opponents. He eventually saw himself opening up one of his opponents guards and driving through the opening with his rasengan, flattening his imaginary opponent. He turned quickly to defend against the imagined incoming blades from the two opponents behind him. He knew he would be driven back on his heels and he acted as such. He scrambled to defend himself from the incoming imagined blades. In order to get out of it, he had to wait til one of his opponents opened up to attack and Baenlin jumped in to the opening with his whole body and setting off his Lightning Release: Full Body Current and sending a full on shock through his opponent, leveling him.
As Baenlin squared off against his last imaginary opponent, he imagined more coming in from the encircling trees both on the ground and in the air. Not being able to afford to wait, Baenlin threw another kunai, this one straight at the opponent in his face. When his opponent went to deflect the kunai, Baenlin activated his Lightning Release: Mark I and ran towards and then up his opponent, using him to catapult high in to the air. As he reach the apex of his jump he started to clash with five of the ninja coming in from the air. When Baelin landed from his jump off of the stump he had used to catapult himself, he had killed three of the five shinobi he had imagined he had fought in the air. Still, he imagined he was in trouble as the two that were left landed with him and dozens more came from all directions.
Round and round Baenlin went, attacking in all directions and manners he could conceive of, pushing himself as hard as he could, as hard as he would have to in order to win such a fight if it had been real. He fought an endless stream of imagined enemies, but finally he collapsed, exhausted from his exertions. He had never fought for so long, real or imagined. All Baenlin knew was that he was as tired as he would have been if each of the enemies had been real. As he lay on the grass and tried to let his muscles relax, with the wind blowing over him and drying off the sweat from his exertions, Baenlin eventually fell into a sleep so deep that only exhaustion could bring on.
Even in his dream though the fight continued. He hadn’t wanted such a dream, but it came to him anyways. At first it was just like in the clearing, a few under skilled ninja coming at him that he easily put down. The more he put down, however, the stronger his opponents became. It eventually became a fight for his life, with each opponent becoming his equal or greater. After he managed to kill the strongest one he had come against yet, he realized he was not the only one fighting. He saw himself, covered in blood, standing in the midst of the Kumo village, and at his feet lay Miss Takamaru, blood splattered across her beautiful face and body from where she had been impaled. She was still alive, and looked at Baenlin in horror as he looked down at his blood covered sword. All around him others were being cut down, children, adults, civilian and shinobi alike. It did not seem to matter to the assailants. He watched their brutality for a few moments, horrified that this way happening, and in his village no less. There fell the owner of the bar b que, on top of the nearby bookshop Ganki was battling three of the ninja and starting to lose badly. The ramen shop collapsed just as a child ran in to it to escape a ninja that was sawing back and forth at the child’s mother’s neck. It took Baenlin a long time to realize that he was in fact the one that had impaled Miss Takamaru. It took a little more time to realize that he was the one that was cutting that mother’s head off, that he had collapsed the ramen shop, that he was all three of the shinobi currently facing off against Ganki. That he was the one slaughtering Kumogakure! Baenlin suddenly ran at the closest him that he could get to, which was the one that had just finished his grisly work with the mother, and slashed at him. The other saw him coming though and parried the blow with a kunai and then tossed the head at Baenlin. Baenlin knocked it aside, but by the time that was done he was surrounded by dozens of himself. They only stared at him as he stared at them. Baenlin was horrified at what he saw before him. They were simply all him, but some had what should have been mortal wounds, all were covered in blood and all of them seem to enjoy that fact. Baenlin was ashamed of his own fear an he began to strike at them all however he could. As soon as he moved, however, his other selves jumped on him, swarmed him under, cut him, mutilated him, but kept him alive so that they could make him what they were.
Baenlin woke with the first scream that he could ever remember making in his life. He could remember every stroke of every blade, his own or the blades of those that seemed to be him. He even remembered the feeling as those blades buried into his flesh. It seemed as if he could still feel them and he rubbed over those places that had been cut in his dream, trying to banish the feeling from his body. Even worse were the memories of Miss Takamaru’s eyes, asking him why he had done all of this even as her life’s blood colored the street underneath her. Baenlin doubted he would ever forget that look, dream or no dream...nor did he think he would ever be able to see Miss Takamura again. Still, he could not entirely deny...that some part of himself would have seen what happened to the village in his dreams as a blessing. That it may wake the village up from it’s sleepy and cowardice state. Maybe he could be the one to do that...even though he did not want to do it the way the dream had depicted. He wanted to save these people from themselves, not destroy them. Baenlin sat there on the grass for hours, try to rub away the feeling of the dream while at the same time contemplating whether or not it had had a hidden message or meaning. He was not even aware of the passing of time until he realized he could not see any more. Night had fallen. It was too late to head back to the village this night. So, he went hunting, set up a hasty camp and fire and settled in. The fire brought the dream back up in Baenlin’s mind, and he almost burned his supper of squirrel as he was so distracted. After his dinner, he laid down on his sleeping bag and hoped that he did not have such a dream again this night.
WC=2021, 10 stats, 20 JP