Name: Asakaze Azuma ('East Morning Breeze')
Skill(s): Ninjutsu, Bukijutsu, Sensor, 2 Skill Trades
- Strength: C
- Constitution: C
- Stamina: C
- Speed: A
- Coordination: C
- Intelligence: B
- Perception: B
--Weapon Artist (Free Flawless UA): Azuma has spent many years training with a multitude of weapons. He has mastered the use of a large number of weapons, his skill in Bukijutsu making him very coordinated when wielding weapons. +1 to Coordination when a weapon is in hand. (Stat boost)
--A Wolves Gaze: Azuma has honed himself to fight the effects of tunnel vision when he goes maximum speed. This heightened focus allows him to push past these effects, and boost his overall Perception. Perception gains a +1 boost when Azuma pushes the threashold of the limits of his speed, at the cost of -1 to Coordination as he becomes slightly more reckless, at the edge of control. (Stat Boost)
--Third Eye, Awakened: Azuma's skill in sensing is impressive, and his perception is sharp. Azuma can passively use the basic Sensor Jutsu when his guard is up, able to sense things within his un-focused range without activating the jutsu. This comes at a cost of -1 to Perception, lowering its range, when 'Third Eye, Awakened' is active. Costs 5 CP to activate, and 0.5CP to maintain per post.
--Human Lightning Rod: Azuma has a natural affinity for Lightning, having used only it growing up. He has a fascination with it, and a deep understanding of both chakra based Lightning, as well as the real deal. Azuma has learned to harness and bend Natural Lightning to his will, able to summon a bolt from a thundercloud to his hand and take in its properties for a short time. This results in a +1 tier to the power of Azuma's Lightning based jutsu for 5 rounds, amping his jutsu using the lightning, afterwords having a 5 round cooldown period. This comes at the cost of situation, requiring the presence of thunderclouds or storms in the area to be able to perform, and during the cooldown period Azuma's Lightning Jutsu are -1 Tier.
--One Handed Seals: Using weapons makes weaving hand signs with both hands dificult at best and impossible at worst. Azuma has learned to perform hand signs with one hand. This results in a -1 loss of Coordination for that hand regarding hand seals.
--Training Reductions: Azuma's high intellect and talent for Ninjutsu makes learning new Ninjutsu easier for him. He can learn Ninjutsu twice as fast, but due to slacking on his sensor abilities, he learns new Sensor Jutsu half as fast. (50% word count for Learning New Ninjutsu, 200% word count for Learning new Sensor Jutsu.)
--Experience Debt: Loan for 700 exp, owing 700 exp.
Azuma stands at a fairly towering height, if asked he'd answer 6'1" but he may be leaving off an inch. His build is fairly slender, with just enough bulk and muscle to make him physically imposing. His skin is fairly pale, odd for a man of the Desert, and he possesses a pair of different colored eyes--one an odd shade of amber, the other nigh white. Some could almost mistake the white eye for a Byakugan, until further inspection shows its nothing special. A scar crosses his face at an awkward angle, slashed right over the white eye. He used to keep his hair short as a kid, but stopped cutting it when he left his home village for Sunagakure. It'd been growing out since the last time Azuma's mother trimmed it. It now flows in long dark locks, pitch black, framing his face nicely as they extend past his shoulders. He sometimes will put up his hair.
His outfits change day by day, usually to suit his needs. On a casual day he can be found in a decent Yukata, simple black and white colors, leaving the chest fairly open to show off a necklace, as well as his fit body. Man has abs and pecks, why not show 'em? Some days he can be found in what could be called 'Standard Sunagakure Battle Attire;, others covered by a cloak and face concealing desert inspired headwear--all the while a fully decked out battle getup hidden under the cloak. He's never seen without weaponry, always a scroll, always a kunai pouch, no matter how casual. He never wants to find himself needing it and not having it, rather having it and not needing it. Pieces change, things are swapped out, its hard to predict.
Chapter 1 | Simple Beginnings | 910 A.S. - 922 A.S.
'Azuma', the name given to a newborn in the far reaches of the Northern providence in the Kazehana Empire, was born June 1st 910 A.S., his single mother giving birth to the boy in a hut among only a few others--a tiny village, barely on the map. Little did Yuki Asakaze know her little boy would one day become a warrior who'd travel the lands, see places she never dream of. His life was simple, the tiny village was poverty stricken, mostly living off the land with a number of gardens that provided a poor yield, being in the desert, and hunting. Yuki Asakaze, Azuma's mother, did what she could to provide for her son, times was tough, but Azuma seemed to be a cheerful child.
Azuma never knew his father, Yuki only told him that his father was a shinobi from the Land of Lightning, but nothing more. Truth was Azuma's father was a prick and a deadbeat, who had knocked Yuki up and ran. But she maintained the simple words she told her son, and nothing more. If Azuma was to be given anything by his absent father, it would be the Lightning pulsing through his veins, and a warrior spirit. Azuma was developing into a fairly gifted child, by the age of 7 his mind was sharper then his peers, and he typically would come out on top whenever him and his friends would horse around fighting each other, though not always. He did seem to always win races with the other children. An aging man within the village, the main protector of the poor land, being a past his prime shinobi who now served as Guardian of the village. took note of Azuma's talents. He begun watching closer, and after a short time could tell Azuma had the makings of a fighter.
The middle aged man approached Yuki, who at the time was working in a field to earn food for herself and Azuma, and requested permission to take Azuma under his wing, and teach him the art of a Shinobi. Yuki was at first hesitant, the thought of her young boy fighting, becoming a Ninja, scaring the woman. But her trust in the town's guardian swayed her, and she gave her blessing to train Azuma to the Guardian. From this day forth Azuma would begin his training, something he is still doing to this day.
Azuma was eager to do it, the cheery child had that Fire in his heart and Lightning running through his veins. He'd train under the leadership of the Village Guardian, even finding a couple other children in the village who too would train with them. Day in and Day out they would train, Azuma taught the fundamentals and basics of being a Shinobi, as well as learning his first Ninjutsu. This would go on for a number of years, Azuma would progress physically and mentally, honing his talents into something he could apply, the beginnings of a Warrior.
5 Years had passed, and rumor made its way to the village near the border with The Land of Stone. The Kazehana Empire was reforming into something different. They was to adopt the Shinobi System, a Hidden Village of Shinobi--a military with ranks and chance to further training. By this time Azuma was 12, and once more the village Guardian approached Yuki, telling her that Azuma had a better chance to grow stronger as a warrior in the newly forming Sunagakure. This time she refused, Azuma did have a loving mother, she didn't want her boy to move away from home. The man said nothing more, and let it be. The following morning Yuki would find a run down shack at the edge of the village, this being the Guardian's home, and knock at his door. He answered still rubbing his eyes, having been asleep. Yuki told him she'd thought about it, and had decided she'd allow him to take Azuma to Sunagakure...With a simple nod, it was decided.
Chapter 2 | Lightning over the Desert | 922 A.S. - 924 A.S.
A journey across the harsh desert would come, Azuma and the Village Guardian setting off for Sunagakure. The journey took 2 days, their progress slow across the large nation, but they made it. Azuma stood in awe, he'd never went much further then the outskirts of his home village before, now after crossing a desert he is face to face with the large village of Sunagakure. He'd never seen such a thing. This brought a smirk to his face...and a simple 'Lets do this' as he made way for the gates.
Accepted into the village, the Village Guardian knowing a number of people who'd helped form Sunagakure from his warrior days, Azuma would find himself presented to a number of Shinobi, and told to prove his skills. Due to the village having just formed, and their ranks lacking, upon showing them some of what he knew, Azuma was picked to join Sunagakure's military forces, under the rank of Genin. He was among a group of children and young teens picked for this rank, skipping the need for the Academy due to possessing skills equal to a Genin. Teams would be formed, and Azuma would be put into a team with 2 other Genin around his age, as well as a Jounin sensei. Enter; Team Ei-Azu-Ko.
Azuma's team was comprised of a younger female with an impressive artistic talent, who would bring her art to life, ripped straight from the medium they was drawn on to form different jutsu--Ei Kanagawa. The other was a boy closer to Azuma's age who possessed skill in 3 nature transformations, Fire--Earth--and Water, a rarity among shinobi their age--Ko Norowareta. Their sensei, Kawa Tsukereta, didn't give them to along to introduce themselves to each other, this was in purpose, he wanted to test them--and wanted them to know nothing about each other for this test.
He'd lead the 3 Genin into the desert just outside of the Village, turning to them with a serious tone. "I want you three to try to take me down...do whatever you can, use whatever is in your arsenal...because if the three of you can't even push me, you will be sent to the Academy. This is your one shot to prove them picking you as an advanced class of Genin was the right decision. The test begins now...don't hold back."...Azuma blinked in a bit of confusion, and looked to his teammates. They all three seemed to have no answer, but with that, they would each go after their sensei. The fight would drag on, and the Genin seemed to make no headway. Azuma would try to swoop in with his short blade and using simple jutsu to try to trick their sensei, but every move was countered--Ko was firing off fire balls but to no success, and Ei stayed back to stay out of the physical confrontation, using her jutsu from afar.
Hours went by, and Kawa was growing bored of their poorly guided attempts to attack him. Much longer and he'd decide they wasn't worth it. Azuma would call to the others, gathering them to talk...Kawa let this happen, backing off to let them hash things out--this is exactly what he wanted to see. Azuma asked his teammates about their skills, what they was good at, and after some time Ei came up with a strategy. The Genin would nod, and in a burst of action, split.
Ko would start weaving hand seals, opening up the ground under Kawa's feet and snagging his legs, entrapping him--this catching Kawa off guard. Ei let her masterpiece fly from the page of her scroll, and launch forth towards the sensei. Azuma followed directly behind Ei's beast, hidden by it even, using his impressive speed to keep pace with it. The ink jutsu landed, knocking Kawa to his ass, and as the Jounin looked up from being knocked down, he found the end of Azuma's blade pushed to his chest, ready to jab the heart, and a kunai pressed to his neck. Kawa would smirk..."You pass...but you three still have a lot to learn", and with that Kawa would poof into a cloud of smoke...a Shadow Clone the entire time. Azuma's eye twitched upon this realization, they had been fighting a clone the whole time and failed to dismiss it...but that aside, they had passed, and would officially begin as team Ei-Azu-Ko.
Training under Kawa was tough, but never too bad, the man was stern and hard on them, but wouldn't take things to far--he knew he was still dealing with kids who was still developing, and it was his job to help them develop. In their off time, Azuma enjoyed spending time among the village...having grown up in a village that barely was even on the map, the large village of Sunagakure amazed him. He was fairly social, he'd spend time trying to make friends, chatting up random people, and his peers. The boy, becoming a teen, was far from shy. New people, new places, new things to do, it was a lot for the boy from a small village.
Months went by, Azuma, Ei, and Ko would train nearly every day with Kawa, and every day he'd preach to them the importance of teamwork, how no matter how skilled you think you may be--someone else can always cover in the areas you lack. Azuma was the physical one of the bunch, his speed put him well above his peers, and his skills with weaponry and Ninjutsu was growing. He was the first to get up in someone's face in combat. Ei was the support, not built to be on the frontlines, she'd launch off attacks of ink, colors flying from the medium she used, coming to life to perform her bidding--as well as a growing talent in the rare art of Fuuinjutsu. Ko was the utility, his elemental talents surpassed his peers. three natures by age 12 was impressive, some never can utilize that many, and he put these natures to work. Their skills grew, and they learned to work with each other, compliment each other's moves with their own moves. The team showed promise...
Azuma wanted to better his friendship with his teammates, he tried to invite them to hang out with him on their off time in town, but was often rejected. Ei was caught up in her art, and Ko simply wasn't the social type. This frustrated the young teen, but he came up with an idea. He'd ask Ei to join him to show her places he found that held beautiful scenes, taking her to places he'd find that he felt she may want to paint. This worked, him able to spend time with her this way. Ko, he was a little more simple, the boy wanted to further his abilities, so Azuma would invite him out for sparring matches, the two often found honing their skills against one another. Azuma succeeded in what he wanted, and over time their friendships would grow, bonds forming.
Team Ei-Azu-Ko would go on for the next couple years, performing missions, training, bettering themselves, and gaining power. Kawa seen the progress they had made, and with an upcoming Chuunin selection Exam, deciding it was time. He'd enter Team Ei-Azu-Ko's name into the roster participating from Sunagakure. They would take part in the Chuunin exams, taking place in Kumogakure.
Chapter 3 | Cloak of Thunder | 924 A.S.
Team Ei-Azu-Ko along with their sensei would travel across the nations, careful everywhere they went as they took this Journey. For Azuma, this would see his first time out of the desert experiencing many sights along the way. The group traveled by day and evening, settling camp during the night--as they passed through The Land of Rivers, Land of Fire, Land of Hotsprings, and Land of Frost, finally making it to The Land of Lightning. Luckily Kumogakure wasn't to deep into the territory. The whole time the Genin took in the sights, rivers, forests, mountains and more. Surely Ei had more ideas of what to put in her art after that trip. They arrived in Kumogakure, the village sat atop mountains, literally 'hidden in the clouds'...The three Genin was there, ready for the exam. Azuma was rather eager, he was still a fairly cheery teen even after years of being a Shinobi and facing hardship. He wanted to become Chuunin. Ei was nonchalant about it all, almost disinterested. Ko on the other hand was clearly a bit nervous, but played it cool for the sake of his teammates. He knew coming into this the first test would be a written exam, and while Azuma and Ei had a vast intellect, rivaling the best in the world in Ei's case, but Ko wasn't the sharpest tack in the box. After registering, Kawa didn't say anything to his students, simply giving a nod--turning about and stepping away, a passive wave as he did. He had hopes for his team.
They was brought to a classroom for the exam, each student sat at desks in a room with a large window to one side--giving views that inspired the artistic and offering beauty in spades, while also scaring the pants off any unfortunate enough to be afraid of heights. The test was straight forward, answer the questions, a number of mistakes was acceptable, but too many would result in a fail. Anyone caught cheating automatically failed and would be escorted from the room. Any on a team who had one teammate fail the test, the whole team fails regardless of other's grades. No tricks, no fake outs...straight forward test, no monkey business. The test begun, the room was silent, only the sounds of pencils and erasers ringing everyone's ears. The sound would occasionally be broken, a Procter launching a kunai across the room to strike someone's test...these was the ones caught cheating. Them and their teammates was promptly escorted out the room.
Ei had no issue with the test, breezing through it with plenty of time to spare...probably spent it doodling on the back of the paper. She'd ace the test. Azuma, he was sharp, no doubt, but not quite on his teammates level. He missed a question or two, but would pass overall. Ko...he struggled. He wasn't sure if any of his answers was right, side a couple. He'd manage to squeak by with no room for any more error, passing. The exam ended and all was asked to turn in their work. Grading happened on the spot. After those who'd failed would be asked to leave, along with their teammates, and of course the bickering that followed, those that'd passed would be asked to be seated. They was given a question, it as straight forward and simple as the test itself.
"You have passed the first exam, and have a chance to move onto the next part of the exams. Before you are allowed to move on though, you must decide. Is becoming Chuunin worth your life? Are you willing to die for the slim chance of that promotion? This is not metaphorical, I'm not saying in theory, I am literal. Continuing further, you forfeit your own safety. The next exam is a survival exam, followed by a combat tournament You may not survive the elements...and you may not survive your competition. Killing during the exams is heavily frowned upon--but it is not outright banned. This is your chance to turn tail and run, go home and forget about becoming a Chuunin...or your chance to raise your hand, wavering your right to safety, and proceeding in this exam....you have 30 seconds to choose, if your hand is not raised in the next 30 seconds, you will be escorted out. Time starts now..."
This sent shivers down some Genin's spines, the room full of teens was at first in complete silence. Some teams didn't hesitate, hands going up instantly. Azuma also raised his hand immediately, without consulting his teammates. Ei followed, if with a bit of laze as her hand raised. Ko was nervous, and didn't raise his hand. "What if we get killed during the exam...I don't know if I wanna go through with this." said Ko. Azuma turned to him, his rather joyful attitude had dropped, and a more serious look took over his face. "Ko, becoming a Chuunin will mean going on more dangerous missions...they are asking this to see if we have the courage to face those missions, even if they could be life or death. If you're not ready...we'll lower our hands, and we can go home. I'm not going to ask you to do something you don't want to...but if you want to progress, if you want to become stronger, this is the next step. Its now or never..." Azuma explained to his teammate. Now or never was right, over 20 seconds had passed and Ko only had a few seconds to decide and raise his hand.
Glancing at his watch, the one giving the question looked up. His mouth opened to begin saying 'Times up' right as Ko's hand shot up, joining his teammates, causing just a moment of delay for the one who'd asked the question. "Times up...those without their hands raised, or with at least 1 member of the team without their hand raise, have a good day...maybe next time. The rest of you...survival exam starts in an hour. Meet at the village gates, any who are late--don't bother showing up."...with that, they was dismissed.
Survival exam, team Ei-Azu-Ko showed up early, and one by one other teams fell in. In total 12 teams made it this far, total of 36 Genin. They would be lead into the mountains surrounding Kumogakure, while the survival exam was explained to them. The Takoyaiba Mountain Range was to be the zone used for the next test, and teams could not go out of bounds. The range would be guarded on the edges to keep anyone from sneaking in, or out. Those caught going out of bounds failed and would be sent home. The goal was simple, there was 6 scrolls hidden in the mountains, teams had to find a scroll and keep it until the time limit was reached. Each team who could maintain possession of one of the 6 scrolls after 48 hours would move on...the field was to be cut in half by the end of this exam. With the rules set, all teams was lead to their starting positions. Each started out on the inside ring of the mountain range surrounding most of Kumogakure, spaced equally apart. Hidden somewhere between every 2 teams along this line was a scroll. Rules was set, and team Ei-Azu-Ko was ready to go.
A loud signal could be heard across the entirety of the area, and the exam started. Azuma, Ei, and Ko would make their way into the mountain range, their progress wasn't too quick, Ei wasn't as physically capable as the boys, not having the speed or stamina to keep up with Ko, let alone Azuma. Azuma wasn't the strongest lad around, but he sure could move quickly and keep going for a long time. Hours went by, and night was to set soon. Azuma had been developing a talent in sensing under the training of Kawa, and they was making use of it to aid in their search for the scroll among nature. Finally, as the sun was setting, they found one hidden under a ledge. With a little bit of agility, Azuma snagged the scroll and they officially had their ticket to round 3 of the exams. Now they had to hold onto it for roughly 40 more hours.
Team Ei-Azu-Ko would look for themselves a nice hidden area for them to set up a basic camp--a fire and their sleeping bags. They found a good spot and waited for night to fall. Ko started a fire, while Azuma would go out to see if he could hunt down some food for them. The night in the mountains was cold, by midnight it was snowing. The fire kept the team warm enough, but it was still cold. The next day wasn't much better, it warmed up--only for the snow to shift to a thunderstorm. This storm lasted on into the next night...they only had to make it to noon the next day to move on.
Unknown to them, another team--desperate for a scroll after failing to find one, decided taking one from another team was their only option. Despite the team's attempt to keep their camp in a hidden area, this team--from Iwagakure--had found team Ei-Azu-Ko's camp, and by now had been staking them out for hours. They guessed based on the fact the team was not actively looking for a scroll that they must already have one. They had the advantage, coming from Iwa they felt at home in the mountains, where the Sunagakure team was used to deserts. They also was fairly skilled in stealth, able to conceal their appearance with a jutsu, keeping themselves nigh invisible to the naked eye--while luckily for them, remaining outside of Azuma's sensing range. They watched team Ei-Azu-Ko, taking notes about them, studying them even...know they enemy.
Night fell, the storms hadn't let up, thunder and lightning ringing across the Takoyaiba Mountain Range, although the rain itself wasn't too heavy, more a gentle shower then the storm's thunderous roar suggested. Azuma once again would go out to hunt for food, leaving the camp, Ei and Ko alone. After half a day of watching them, the Iwagakure team had figured Azuma was the most physical of the bunch and could theoretically pose the largest threat, even if the other two's skillsets was unknown. Seeing their chance for a 3v2 situation with whom they deemed weaker, they launched their ambush. They could barely be seen, decent speed and their stealthy jutsu left them as only distortions as they swooped in. Ko and Ei both realized they was under attack, Ko leaped from his seat and happened to dodge two of the attackers, but Ei was unable to react in time, finding her arm yanked behind her back and twisted, and a kunai pulled to her throat.
A standoff ensued, Ko glaring in anger and fear at the one holding Ei hostage, while the other two slowly tried to creep towards the teen. "Give us the scroll, you know how this works...If you do we'll only rough you two up a bit and leave, if not..."--the blade of the kunai met with Ei's neck, even drawing a small bit of blood but not cutting any further.--"I kill her...they kill you, and the three of us waste your buddy when he returns, but only after letting him suffer seeing your corpses... Either way we get the scroll..." one of the Iwa shinobi would direct to Ko.
Ko grit his teeth, but he knew these exams wasn't worth his teams lives, and even if he could overpower the two in front of him--the third would instantly take out Ei. "...Fine." he finally let out through grit teeth. He slowly pulled his hands together, forming a hand seal, prompting the two surrounding him to draw their weapons. They let him proceed though, keeping a close eye on him. After a number of seals, formed slowly, the ground in front of Ko opened up. The scroll had been hidden using one of his Earth jutsu. Picking up the scroll, he'd reach out, offering it to the nearest of the enemy team.
Just before they could grab it, lightning struck a nearby spire of rock, and a loud clap of thunder blasted the group's ears. Masking the counter ambush, during the lightning strike, another type of Lightning strike occurred--Azuma had blitzed in, and hit the one holding Ei hostage with some of his own Lightning. This forced him to let go of Ei and drop to the ground out cold, but not mortally wounded. Ko stood in awe of what just happened, he couldn't even keep up with his teammates speed, it all simply a blur to him. Ko was a deer in the headlights, and the remaining two took advantage. In a coordinated attack, both took their blades and ran them through Ko, snagging the scroll. Azuma was trying to make sure Ei was alright, looking up from her just in time to witness this. His eyes went wide as he saw the assault, the one who'd snagged the scroll running, the other rushing forth towards Azuma to collect his KO'd teammate. Azuma barely could react, watching blood spill from Ko's wounds before he simply dropped to the ground. Azuma managed to block the attack, but his focus was on his friend, and the Iwa Genin was successful in gathering their friend and retreating.
Azuma and Ei both knew this was not a good situation. Ko was loosing a lot of blood fast, and likely had damage to important organs. Scooping his teammate up, Azuma rushed forth, slowed down by carrying his friend but pushing himself anyways to bring Ko out of the Takoyaiba Mountains and into Kumo--to the Hospital. It took longer then he'd have liked before he got Ko to the hospital, rushing him in and demanding assistance. Doctors quickly took over and would rush Ko into an Emergency room, Azuma falling against a wall before sliding down to sit on the floor, covered in Ko's blood. A while went back, Ei finally catching up, just in time for a doctor to come out and confront the two Suna shinobi...Ko had not survived, his injuries had been too much for him to take.
Azuma was quiet, the teen's hair falling over his face, as anger and sorrow filled him. Turning away, Azuma would make his way for the exit...but not before putting a hole in one of the Hospitals walls with a quick punch. Team Ei-Azu-Ko was dropped from the competition, failing the Survival exam, and officially closing the book on Team Ei-Azu-Ko--the last time this team would bare this name...Azuma and Ei would return home, with them the body of their lost teammate. Azuma remembers this as the longest walk of his life.
Chapter 4 | The Broken Mask | 924 A.S. - 925 A.S.
Following the funeral Azuma wouldn't go out like he used to, staying home instead. A few weeks went by and Kawa called for a team training session. Azuma showed up, but was noticeably depressed, lacking motivation. Clearly his teammate's death effected him, no longer was Azuma the joyful joker of the team, guilt was weighing him down. Azuma felt it was his fault, he could've done something to stop it--or if he'd just hung back and let them take the scroll in the first place, Ko would've lived. Kawa was attempting to get Azuma to focus on training, but after not doing much of anything, Azuma's head hung and he just left, walking away slowly despite Kawa asking him to stay.
The guilt continued the weigh on him, more and more Azuma--the usually confident shinobi--felt insecure in his abilities. If he'd been quicker, he could'ved saved Ko. If he'd been smart enough to not jump in, Ko would have survived. 'Its my fault' echoed over and over in the teens head. He completely dismissed that his actions likely saved Ei's life, frankly not even realizing it. He'd often slip out of Sunagakure at night, heading out into the desert and sitting atop one of the dunes...he wanted to be alone for the first time in his life, he didn't want friends, he didn't want to be social, he wanted to simply be alone.
Azuma would keep doing this nightly for weeks, and sleep most of the day--skipping training, not even available for missions. Ei, who'd been going through her own grieving process, consisting of a lot of time at home spent on her artwork, finally would seek out her teammate, check on him. Catching the teen slipping out one night, she'd follow him to see where he goes, finding Azuma just to be sitting among the dunes of the desert just outside Sunagakure, staring off into the distance.She'd approach Azuma and sit with him. Azuma took notice of her before she'd even sat down, sensing her coming...he simply kept looking off into the distance...Silence was maintained far longer then it probably should've, before Azuma finally spoke.
"...He was afraid to risk his life to become a Chuunin and I talked him into it...I talked him into raising his hand..." Azuma said quietly, a small crack in his voice--between how he felt, and the fact as he was getting older, his voice was beginning to deepen. Ei was pretty quick with a response, “We all decided to go together. As a team.” she spoke softly, “If he didn’t want to go, he wouldn’t have.”
Azuma still couldn't shake the guilt, even though Ei was right. He wouldn't really remember how it got brought up, but Ei had snagged a bottle of sake from her father's 'stash' before she'd by chance noticed him slipping out the village. The bottle of sake made its way into their conversation, and after some hesitation--underage drinking and all--he gave in and the two would share the alcohol. The two teens would spend the night out there, taking drinks from the bottle of Sake.. Eventually, after a fair bit of sake, Azuma dropped his walls, breaking down and confiding in Ei. He let it all out, his guilt, his anger, his regrets. Despite being the social one, Azuma never really had opened up like that to anyone. Ei was the first to see this side of Azuma...Azuma probably doesn't even remember doing it, he was rather drunk.
A few days later Kawa again tried to hold a training session for Azuma and Ei. Ei showed up as she always did, and--albeit late--Azuma finally joined them, and while no where near his normal self--he did crack a smile, small laugh, and even a stray joke here and there during the session. He was recovering, if only slowly. Their training would go on, no longer a 3 Genin squad, Azuma and Ei would learn to work together without Ko at their side. It was tough, but they pushed on...that warrior's blood in Azuma wouldn't let him give up, and he knew this was part of what he signed up for...this was what it meant to be a Shinobi, loosing a comrade was expected.
Azuma slowly seemed to shake the depression, but it was replaced with something else...No longer did he smile and joke all the time, now a serious attitude kept him in check, this going on for a few months. Over the next year of training he'd return to what seemed like his normal self, the smile returned, the jokes ensued, he was acting much more like he did before...but it was just that, an act, a mask to hide his more serious and hardened resolve. Ei...she could see right through Azuma's Broken Mask...
It'd been a full year since their last attempt at the Chuunin Exams, Azuma was now 15, and after passing over on the last exams half a year before, he was ready to give it another shot. Azuma and Ei registered for the Chuunin exams, taking place in Sunagakure this time, home field. Last time, they was Team Ei-Azu-Ko...but this name no longer applied, and retired the day Ko died. Azuma marked down something after a moment of thought, Ei not caring what he picked as their team name. Team 'enter random number' was always dull, and he didn't wanna just cut Ko out of the original name. The Genin put down Sunaarashi no Karasu...a name that even today, while not an official team, refers to Azuma and Ei when working together.
Same as before, the two made it through the written exam. This time around both Ei and even Azuma aced the test--Azuma by this point had a mind considered elite even among the smartest in the village, and Ei had always been smart since Azuma met her, day one being the one to suggest the strategy they had used to prove themselves to Kawa--a once in a generation intellect. The survival test came, this time without any major mishaps. They passed. Finally came the third part, the Combat Tournament.
First was a round to narrow down the field, preliminaries. There would be in total 3 rounds, these matches to find out who makes it to the semi finals, watched closely by representatives of every village participating, as well as their Senseis. Semi finals and finals would be public events, while equally scrutinized, if not more so. Ei was in the 2nd match up of the first round, putting in a valiant effort, but sadly coming up short. She joined Kawa to watch from the sideline. Azuma's match was next, and without too much hardship, defeated his opponent--having used his superior speed to get in close, and able to out class them with his weapon skills alone--keeping his jutsu hidden up his sleeve. He'd move on to the semi-finals.
The following day would see the public event. Seats was sold cheap, so the stands was full, most of Sunagakure was there, even some from neighboring villages. Two had come a rather long way to be there--Yuki Asakaze and her escort--the aging shinobi that had been Azuma's first sensei. The now even older man was graying at this point, it'd been 8 years since he first took Azuma under his wing, and 3 since he took the boy to Sunagakure. He'd been keeping track of Azuma's progress, and relaying it to his mother. She wished to come to the event in hopes of seeing her son in the finals, not even sure if he'd made it to that point. Azuma had no idea they was watching from the stands.
Ei too was among the stands, having lost in the preliminaries meant she'd dropped out of the exams entirely. The event would begin, and the Genin who'd made it this far would all be brought out into the arena for a short introduction. Yuki's face lit up when she seen her son step into the arena among the top 4, a smile ear to ear. The first round of the event went by, won fairly easily by a Genin hailing from Konohagakure, beating out a peer of Azuma's--much to the locals dismay. Boo's would be heard, despite the fairly impressive showing. Azuma's semi-final match was next. He faced a Genin from Kumo. Cheers could be heard much like in the first match, some just happy to see it, others due to a 'home town' Shinobi being in it--and after the only other one already loosing, Sunagakure as a whole hoped for a win in their name. Of course they didn't want to be showed up in their own arena, right?
Azuma had to push himself against this opponent, they had amazing counters for Azuma, and knew how to deal with Lightning jutsu--being from the Land of Lightning. Azuma stayed one step ahead of his opponent though, leading them right where he wanted them. This ended badly for the Kumogakure Genin, fallen victim to Azuma's plan, taking the L. Azuma moved on to the finals, matched against the Konoha Genin who'd won in the first semifinal. They was given a period to rest, try to get their energy back. Once the down time was over, the final match was set to begin.
Azuma stood across from his opponent, the stadium was beginning to fill with excitement under the anticipation. Both Azuma and his opponent showed great skill and potential for more. This was set to be a good match. The match would begin, a quick start as Azuma attempted to use his speed to his advantage, but he found himself caught off guard by his opponents own speed, on par with Azuma's. They clashed, first a kunai to kunai, then as they backed off from each other, a scroll slipped from Azuma's sleeve and opened. It held in it a number of weapons Azuma used, and he quickly conjured from the scroll his Naginata, summoning it in a poof of white smoke. He'd drop two smoke bombs as he planned his next move. Lightning chakra ran through the bladed polearm and sparked the blade to life, just in time to deflect a kunai thrown through the smoke--it flying off and hitting a wall...before exploding with the explosive tag attached to it.
The crowd roared for more, this was already the most intense match yet. The smoke begun to clear and Azuma stood, ready for what was to come. He hoped to lure his opponent in closer, but the Konoha Genin had other plans. A quick set of hand seals would see a fireball being launched towards Azuma--the speedy shinobi quickly evading the relatively slow moving jutsu. He'd spent many a days dodging fireballs launched by Ko in their sparring matches.
The Konoha genin begun forming more hand seals--spitting out a lake of water for him to ski across, changing the terrain of the battlefield, now a lake with a few islands of sand dotting it. Azuma had jumped when this jutsu was used, now landing on one of the new 'islands' on the battlefield. His opponent rushed him, very fast on the water, Azuma's perception able to keep track of his opponent. He would leap out of the way of the incoming attack--a full speed flying kick, and watched his opponent fly past him, continuing to go on for a bit before trying to slow down.
The light bulb went off in Azuma's mind, remembering back to a time when he would become tunnel visioned at his maximum speeds. He'd eventually learned to overcome this, but it seemed maybe his opponent suffered the issue still. He gained some distance and held his ground, the Genin coming at him again, confident he has Azuma on the ropes. This time Azuma, with only a moment to spare and some quick hand signs, substituted himself out for a Lightning Clone.
"Got you" exclaimed the Konoha Shinobi as he sent a kick straight through the clone--instantly shocking him with Lightning chakra as he flew into the water behind where the clone stood, rolling in pain. The real Azuma could be found half way across the arena, Naginata forward, and charging with chakra...just before it fizzled out. Azuma collapsed, he'd done too much in such a short time, and it cost him. His opponent got up and took advantage, having enough energy to rush back towards Azuma, and get behind the Suna Genin with a kunai to his throat. Azuma could do nothing...he lost. Still, it was an impressive show, coming down to Azuma over exerting himself. The Konoha Nin was declared winner of the fight, but in the end...Azuma was the one those evaluating the battle would pick to become Chuunin, despite his loss, he showed skills befitting of a Chuunin, and a strategic mind worthy of the promotion. Azuma didn't win the battle, but he won the war.
Chapter 5 | Lightning Rising in a Fallen Empire | 925 A.S. - 930 A.S.
Missions became a priority for Azuma after becoming Chuunin. The teen was gaining recognition for the strategic mind he possessed, and while backing the brains up with some decent power. Years of this would go by, missions, training, some time at home. Azuma kept himself busy, he didn't spend so much time socializing as he used too, he wanted to progress, get better, further hone his skills. But Sunagakure was in trouble. The desert village was never doing so hot economically, and further issues within and to the north weighed on the village. Azuma wasn't dumb, the now young man was seeing the signs...He knew if something didn't change, and soon, Sunagakure could fall.
He kept to his missions, trying his best to help the village grow in power and status. It'd been 4 years since the Chuunin exams that brought him here, Azuma was a young man of 19, and had gained enough of a reputation with his superiors that he could soon be up for a Jounin promotion. His former teammate Ei had earned her way towards a promotion too. Kawa--their former Sensei--would nominate both Azuma and Ei for Jounin promotions, bringing them one step closer to becoming among the Ninja elite. Azuma was happy to see Ei become Jounin along side him, something they didn't get to share for their Chuunin promotion--Azuma earning his first.
Azuma, now a Jounin, found himself taking on even tougher missions, as turmoil started boiling up. Sunagakure was on a downward spiral...Little did Azuma know the village only had a year left before its demise. It wasn't too long, a plague would creep into the Land of Wind...and Sunagakure was in its path. Its effects would within a length of time take over, sweeping the village. Many died...Azuma watched as those he'd known for the past 7 years fell ill and passed around him, even the Kazekage wasn't immune--falling ill along with the rest of them. Azuma...he was at this point in another world, he disconnected from reality. This broke him...just as the passing of his teammate did before. Difference was, this Azuma was more mature, he wasn't the same teen who ignored his duties for months, cried on his teammates shoulder in a drunken stuper, let the grief take over. Still...it hurt the shinobi.
Sunagakure would fall, Azuma forced to flee. Luckily he made it out without falling ill himself, as did his friend Ei. For now, they'd go their separate ways. Azuma thought to head north, head home...he hadn't been back since moving to Sunagakure, even in all his travels. He made the trek from Sunagakure back home near the border with The Land of Stone. He could see the mountains off in the far distance, distorted by the sand's heat, as he approached his home village. He neared, seeing the fields barren, nothing but dead crops. He didn't see anyone around either. This made him hurry, going from a simple walk to a full sprint. He went to his former home, knocking at the door...but finding no answer. He'd take back off for the center of the village, as he neared the shacks and huts that made up his home, a door opened on the largest of the buildings. It was generally used as a meeting place for the townfolk. Stepping from the door, Azuma's gaze met that of his first teacher--the Village Guardian. By now he was a gray haired man with more wrinkles then the desert has dunes, and adorned a mask to prevent catching illness.
"Where is my mother, where is Yuki?!" Azuma called to the aged man. He was only answered with him bowing his head, eyes shut, and gesturing for him to come inside--while offering a mask. Azuma put on the mask and rushed inside...sights he'd seen before, people sick in beds, dying, some already passed and waiting to be moved. It was Sunagakure all over again...but where Azuma grew up. He quickly spotted his mother among the patients, rushing to her side. She had been sleeping but woke when Azuma approached, smiling at the sight of her boy. Azuma dropped to his knees at his mother's bedside, the now tall man still towering over the suspended cot-like bed. Yuki told Azuma she watched him in the Chuunin exams, and how proud she was. It brought the young man to tears, the first he'd shed in years--since Ko's passing--and he'd spend the rest of the evening catching up with her. It was getting late and the doctor told Azuma he had to go, visiting hours was over an hour ago.
Azuma would return to his old home, opening the door to find a dark, dusty shack...flashes of his childhood came to him, but he pushed them aside and entered, taking a seat near a window. He'd lean back in the seat and kick his feet up, looking out the window to the moon...he'd remain like that until his fatigue caught up to him, and sleep took over. The following morning, Azuma was awoken by a knock at the door. He answered, finding the Village Guardian before him. "...She's gone Azuma-San. She passed in her sleep this morning." as delivered with no hesitation, a straight tone, if only laced with hidden sorrow. Azuma took a moment, and nodded....he shut the door, and would sink into the chair once more.
That night, the non-ill villagers awoke to the smell of smoke. A fire was raging in Azuma's former home. The shack that held many memories now burned under the moonlight. Azuma stood at the outskirts of down, leaned against a dead and sparse tree, watching from afar...he'd changed his outfit, his face was mostly covered, cloth hung from his headband on one side, and a azure blue scarf wrapped his lower face and neck. The single visible eye of Azuma seemed empty as it peered across the village, watching his home burn...Azuma had no home now.
Chapter 6 | The Desert Rogue, Sunagakure reborn | 930 A.S. - 934 A.S.
The next few years saw more hardship for the now former Sunagakure Jounin. He'd travel the lands, wandering as a rogue, attempting to do good where ever he could. The man would make a bit of a name for himself, but nothing everyone would come to recognize yet. He further honed his skills during this time, finding himself in conflict more often then he'd like. The man took inspiration from his first teacher, traveling between small villages and trying to guard them from the outside world and its horrors. This spread him to thin though, it soon became apparent he couldn't save everyone...one village was wiped out completely by bandits while he was away, another burnt husk...
Azuma made his way towards The Land of Lightning...he wanted to visit the site of Ko's death. He'd make the long trek he did once as a teen, the Jounin reaching the Takoyaiba Mountain Range around Kumogakure. He'd find the spot of his teams camp during the Chuunin exams, only to just stand there...he didn't know what he was meant to do, now that he was here. He would sink into a sitting position and sigh, closing his eyes. A sigh passed the young man's lips...but the hair stood on the back of his neck, a kunai flew towards the man. He evaded, but found himself rushed by an assailant. The attacker found his mark with a sword, catching Azuma's face. This left a long cut along the man's face, even crossing one of his eyes.
With only one eye working Azuma got a look at the man...he looked like an older version of Azuma, down to his fairly unique eye color. But this was no time for questions, Azuma had to defend himself. He seen the Kumogakure headband, asking why he was attacking him--the answer was a quick "I am defending my village from rogue threats", before another attack came. Azuma drew his own weapon and defended himself, a brief battle ensued. Azuma came out the victor, able to defeat his attacker, albeit at a cost...He'd lost an eye in the fight, and needed medical aid. He'd also now killed a member of Kumogakure in their lands, he could be marked a crimainl. The Desert Rogue fled, but the question remained in his head...who attacked him, why did he look so much like himself...could that have been the 'Kumogakure Shinobi' his mother told him of when he was a young boy? The answer will never come, but for now he had to get away.
He fled as far as he could, but his injuries was taking their toll. He finally would pass out somewhere in the middle of the Land of Frost, unable to go any further...maybe he wouldn't survive this, he was out of energy, lost a lot of blood, and fading. Azuma is unsure what happened, he awoke a number of days later, his face in bandages, wounds stitched shut. A doctor stood above him soon after he awoke. "You're lucky...had your friend not found you, you wouldn't have made it another hour out there...just relax...and let me know how that eye feels. You lost one in whatever the hell happened to you...but I was able to give you a new one. Its nothing special, but should work as good as the old" the doctor explained. Azuma tried to sit up but was held back by another's hand...he looked to his side, and found Ei beside him. She managed to find him, and find the aid Azuma desperately needed. "E-...Ei?"
It took some time for Azuma to heal from his injuries, but he eventually recovered. His body didn't reject the donor's eye, and it was as if it became his own. This one just featured a different hue. He'd eventually go on to wander more across the lands, returning to the desert after some time away. Rumor had it Sunagakure was reforming, reborn again. This gave Azuma some hope, and he'd make his way to the hidden village. What he found though...it didn't please the man. Sunagakure had thrieved with life once more, even had a new ruler...but this ruler was more or less a Shadow, no public face to speak to, controlling the village, now ridden with criminals and lowlifes, scum and drifters, was nothing like Sunagakure he knew. Still, he would have to make do with the situation at hand...He after all was now The Old Guard of Sunagakure, from the Shodaime Kazekage's era.
Personality: As with a large number of Shinobi, or people in general, there are multiple sides to the coin that is Azuma. He is generally friendly with others, having no issue inserting himself into social situations, talking to new people and potentially making new friends along the way. He speaks with a rather kind tone, light-hearted even, despite having a fairly deep and booming voice. He can at times be a bit of a goofball among his friends, teasing and joking with them, even willing to swallow his pride and do something fairly embarrassing for a laugh. He's known to be a bit of a flirt. rather more seriously or in a fun bid to put on the charm. He'll even lay down the charm on an older or more 'ugly' woman simply to get them to smile, more being charming then flirting. He treats everyone with respect, but isn't afraid to drop the formalities and be 'friendly' with high ranking officials.
On the outside Azuma doesn't scream cold hearted, battle tough ninja...but one look at the man will tell a very different tale. Don't ever let his goofball attitude trick you into thinking the man is dull, his mind is sharper then most blades, and he can flip the serious switch in an instant. Combat or serious situations are what draw this side of Azuma out, calm, collected, calculating, a worthy mind to bring to the battlefield. This side of Azuma will not hesitate to take a life, even if he'd rather not to cause bloodshed. He is much more respectful of higher ranked shinobi when in a serious mood, and most of the time jokes are left unsaid...But depending on things, a joke may slip here or there.
Roleplay Sample: Clouds formed high above the Village of Sunagakure, teasing the Desert Village with the thought of possible train, even though it'd never truly come. Amber and White hues peered up at the cloudy sky, it was still a nice reprieve from the sun's wrath. Azuma let a soft say pass his lips as he grounded his gaze back in reality, falling upon the scene in front of him. Sunagakure was in a poor state of affairs, this wasn't much better then the plague that had struck four years ago. The village's leader, a shadow without a face over them all, had let all kinds of lowlife scum wander into the village. Crime rates was through the roof. Sunagakure basically was all slums at this point. Azuma made his way through the streets, keeping his guard up--a lot of shady characters lurked both in plain sight and trying to be discreet in alleys. He'd make his way to the market, looking to gather some food and resupply some of his equipment. His eyes fell upon a nice looking new sword, it really drew the man in, but alas, he couldn't afford it. With a grunt he paid for the usual, snagging some throwing weapons--Kunai, Shuriken, Senbon--and making his way to grab dinner.
He'd make his way over to a stand selling some fruit, something he didn't have to cook--great! Azuma paid for his food, and went to leave. As he did someone bumped into him, nigh shoulder checking the Jounin. Azuma felt something was off, and turned about as the man who'd bumped him kept walking. "...My Ryo pouch, return it and I'll pretend that didn't happen..." Azuma called out to the drifter. The drifter glared back to Azuma, "Eat a bag of dicks" he barked back, continuing to walk off. A freshly purchased kunai slipped from a bag Azuma carried into his hand, and was launched towards the drifter. This missed hurting the thief, but managed to cut open their long coat. Half a dozen stolen goods and Azuma's Ryo pouch spilled onto the street, to the drifter's dismay. This was starting a scene now, and the shopkeeps took notice of the stolen goods. Banding together the victims would surround the drifter, who by now was ready to turn tail and run. Azuma retrieved his money, and the shopkeeps recovered their stolen items. One even rewarded Azuma with a stick of bread.
The young Jounin returned home and put some things away, taking with him his rewarded breadstick as he went back out the door. He wasn't one to stay at home long...Azuma would cross town, heading towards the Village gates, all the while munching on the bread...realizing it was fairly stale, no wonder the baker didn't want it. He ate it nonetheless. Night was approaching and Azuma wanted to head out for some training, leaving the 'safety' of the village...yeah right...to proceed out into the desert. He'd make his way out into the dunes...they shifted over time so things was never the same as they was even a week before, but Azuma made his way to roughly the area where him and Ei had gotten drunk on Sake after the death of their teammate. Azuma would sit, watching west as the sun set, his expression painting a picture of a man in thought.
"Knew I'd find you out here." an aging voice would speak. Azuma turned back to see Kawa, his former Sensei, standing not to far behind him, down in the valley between dunes. "Yeah? How'd you guess I'd be here." Azuma responded, looking back to the sunset. Kawa joined the Jounin, sitting next to him. "I know more then you think about my favorite students, Azuma...call it a hunch after I saw you passing through the gates to leave the village." answered Kawa. "I also know you don't mind a bit of sake when you come out here." he added with a smirk. Azuma looked over to the older Jounin, and seen him holding a bottle of Take and some cups. His eyes soon narrowed in speculation, "Hold on...you didn't know abo--" he was cut off, "Like I said...I know more then you think Azuma. Don't think I didn't notice you two drinking that night away, getting ahold of something to drink at such a young age...shaaame." teased Kawa, Azuma shaking his head. "Thought I was the joker here?" Azuma mentioned, taking a cup and letting Kawa pour it. They'd down the Sake at the same time, continuing their conversation.
Night had fallen and they had made progress in smashing the bottle of Sake, a yawn prompting Azuma to stand and stretch. "Well...I best rest up...never know if I can be called upon for a mission...later Kawa" Azuma said, giving a nod to his former teacher. Kawa stayed behind to polish off the Sake in peace while Azuma returned home, heading through the gates, back across town, and to his humble abode. He'd open the door and step in, locking it behind himself. The tipsy Jounin would make his way across the room and sink into a cot he used as a bed. Azuma's eyes met the ceiling as he laid back, hands resting behind his head as he would once again drift off into thought...this day dreaming would last until a knock on the window pulled him back to reality, and a smirk grew on his face. Only one person could be knocking on his window at this time of night, and he was glad she came to visit...another night of somewhat peace, spent with good friends.