Chronicles of the Ninja World I
Gabriel arrived late to the backyard of the shinobi academy where a group of 17 other kids, much older, stood in attention before several shinobi. His arrival stirred nobody except for that of a woman with dark clothing, who stood behind the line of male shinobi. Her attire consisted of the same navyish gray flak jacket as the males but her blood red hair made her stand out even within the mist. Her eyes drifted towards Gabriel as he walked and stood in the back right.
“It’s time for the final test,” a projecting voice came from the man standing in the center, just in front of the crimson haired female. “Right now you stand at 18 strong. When this is all over only 9 of you will remain…alive that is.” The words of the shinobi shifted neither a face in the crowd of 18. The young candidates maintained the same expressions they arrived with; some confident, possibly too confident, others stood firm but their worries could be read on their face like a book. Gabriel, however, his face was as cold as ice. He showed neither confidence nor worry. “Behind me is the entrance into the testing grounds, a forest where the mist of our village is especially concentrated. The gates you’ll be using are labeled 1-9. Every number appears twice meaning there are two gates per path. Your mission is simple, kill the person who shares the same path as you and exit from the opposite gate. Now, follow me for your assignments.” The shinobi lead the group and each member is assigned. Gabriel received the number 7 and an opponent 5 years his senior, age 12. The moment the numbers were assigned, the test began.
The crimson haired woman, camouflaged within the mist, studied the examination taking place. She watched, specifically, the 7th path, bemused and slightly disappointed at the inept ability of the 12 year old to understand the rudimentary illusion he had been placed in. Wandering in circles, holding a kunai as if he were on guard and aware of every detail.
“Sly Mind Effect,” she said aloud to herself. “Genjutsu certainly is a rarity amongst the skillset of recent generations.” Changing her focus from the 12 year old to the 7 year old, the red haired woman spotted Gabriel hiding within the mist, under cover in bushes, silently tailing his opponent.
Startled like an antelope sensing the hunger of a lion, the woman’s dark eyes turned scarlet red in the matter of a second as she retracted a kunai from her sleeve. Her minute composed reaction of alert was reprieved with a deactivation of her Sharingan and a slight shift of her head to her right, “I almost attacked you, you know,” she said.
A small snicker is heard followed by the sound of a rather cynical voice; “Come now, you’re much too careful for that, Isabella-chan,” a pale faced man with the eyes of a snake appeared behind Isabella. He licked his lips with a playful cynicism followed by a smile at the girl. “You didn’t answer my call for you; did you honestly disobey my orders just to observe the academy proceedings?”
“I wanted to check out this year’s pick of the lot, it’s about time I found somebody worthy of to make my legacy,” Isabella explained.
“Is that so? I would’ve thought you’d be looking for another kunoichi, considering your advocacy for females.” The pale faced shinobi mocked.
“The kunoichi of this lot are rather disappointing as well. A suitable one will come to me in time, but I feel I should grace somebody else who proves themselves worthy.”
“So generous Isabella-chan.”
“Did you need me for something Orochimaru-sama?”
“Indeed, I have a mission for you in fact,” Orochimaru began, “How eager are you to see you old friend Hashirama?” The rhetorical question simply caused Isabella to roll her eyes and return her attention to what interested her, the death match between two young shinobi. By the time she had turned her attention back to the scene, Gabriel stood over the corpse of the 12 year old shinobi.
“I missed it,” she said in disappointment.
“Indeed,” Orochimaru said, “Quite a skilled one here, he combined his genjutsu with the silent killing, very impressive.”
“Hmph” Isabella scoffs and she disappears in a cloud of smoke, using the body flicker. Orochimaru followed and left the scene of the exams.
A few hours passed before the exams ended. Of the 9 graduates that year, Gabriel stood the youngest at the age of 7. The head examiner approached the group of nine and addressed them.
“Congratulations, you nine have proven yourself to be worthy of the title, shinobi.” The nine shinobi received headbands with four wavy lines across them, the insignia of Kirigakure. “The day after tomorrow, I want all of you to return to the academy for your briefing, until then you are dismissed.”
Worthy, shinobi, Gabriel pondered these words wondering what they truly meant, specifically the latter. Gabriel strode down the street, holding his headband in hand, and making his way to the orphanage. The streets were practically empty, the village still slept; though it was dawn the thick morning mist deceived the all by blocking the light making them think it was still dusk. Those Gabriel passed on his way ignored him on his trek, preoccupied with their own endeavors. Gabriel noticed each and every one of the people he passed and looked at them carefully as he did so. Many bore headbands displaying their status as shinobi. Do they know what it means to be a shinobi? Gabriel wondered and he returned to himself, asking the same question.
While he contemplated the question, Gabriel crossed over the long bridge leading to the rural area of the village. The wind blew heavily, carrying the moist scent of the sea from beneath the bridge and Gabriel held his hands next to his bangs to prevent his hair from obscuring his vision. Gabriel continued walking through the bridge until the wind stopped. Gabriel stopped with the wind as he noticed a carefully folded paper swan off to the right of the bridge.
Gabriel stared at the masterfully crafted swan with black and navy blue markings. Gabriel proceeded to pick it up, walking with his gaze fixated on the bird. He picked it up and continued to walk forward. It was as the young boy proceeded forward that he walked into a rather large figure and stumbled backwards. The figure stood tall like a wall glaring at Gabriel with dark red eyes.
What is he? Gabriel stood paralyzed before the warrior. His spiky red hair and red eyes were the most vibrant part of him as he stood wearing a black gi, with an equally as black aura emanating from him. His chakra was foul and pungent with darkness which made Gabriel tremble involuntarily.
“Akuma-dono,” said a voice as two more figures emerged from the mist behind the menacing shinobi. “Don’t scare the children,” the white haired shinobi said. Akuma looked back at his white haired companion behind him, only for a moment, before closing his eyes and turning away.
“Oi, he didn’t really do anything,” uttered the shinobi bandaged from the neck up, “the kid’s just overwhelmed by Akuma’s presence, it’s only natural.”
Gabriel stared at the three shinobi before him; it was obvious that they were shinobi despite not baring the headband of Kirigakure. Their mere presence spoke the ruthlessness and ice cold discipline only a shinobi had…and the blood lust that only a Kirigakure shinobi possessed.
“We’re wasting time here, let’s go,” Akuma said, his deep voice cutting like a knife.
“Indeed we should,” the bandage faced shinobi said. The three men walked passed Gabriel, completely ignoring his presence and continued to talk to one another. Gabriel watched as they walked away, studying each of them carefully.
Asura was the name Gabriel heard of the shinobi with the bandages around his head; Bandages, a red jacket and a slightly hunched back. Asura’s chakra was the same, if not more demonic than Akuma’s, nevertheless, it was pungent and dark. The white haired one, Near, wore a plain white shirt and pants. His eyes were empty when Gabriel saw them, lacking pupils. His attire suited him, just as blank as his soul. He was a being without remorse or hesitation, a shinobi without emotion.
The wind blew once more and, again, the paper swan blew away, flying in the direction the wind carried it. It flew towards Akuma and the group of three shinobi. Before Gabriel lost the bird, he got a good look at the swan. It was still neat, without wrinkles or tares, without gray or fading of the markings.
The cold sweat and trembling of Gabriel subsided and he continued to walk just as the sun began to sneak slivers of its rays through the gray clouds and illuminate through the mist. Once again, the smell of the sea was carried by the wind. Refreshing, salty, iron, Gabriel described the sea to himself.
It was only natural that Gabriel didn’t know iron was not natural in the smell of the sea, or most seas rather. The seas of Kirigakure were the only ones he knew.