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Mon Sep 20, 2021 9:44 pm
Opening the door for his Uncle, Seion, Koutaku smiled at the man as he entered, noting as he always did his red hair and hazel-eyed gaze. Stepping past him, Seion shakes his head, chuckling with a relaxed caste to his features. Koutaku closes and locks the training room door behind them, then dials down things such that they’re isolated from the outside.

“So Uncle, you said you’d teach me a thing or two regarding tactics and dealing with genjutsu. Do I have to wait forever or are you going to spill?”

Smiling at his nephew, Seion merely walks 2/3rds of the way across the room, and then turns and faces Koutaku. Taking a deep breath, Seon then exhaled, performing a series of rapid handseals with each hand at his side--far too relaxed given the action. Immediately all of his sensory techniques fade and Koutaku shakes his head, Seion’s tattoos becoming visible as they so infrequently were. He was covered almost from head to toe with the things, not even his face entirely untouched by the intricate patterns. As Koutaku looked his uncle up and down--smirking--he couldn’t help but feel a silent thrill run through him. The techniques that his uncle used to hide his fuinjutsu tattoos were just the tip of the iceberg. The man would be a legend, if it weren’t for the generally secretive nature of Iouchiryo assassins. They didn’t exactly want to be in the spotlight, especially if they ever intended to retire.

Such had been the case for his uncle, who had retired at the ripe old age of 26. It boggled Koutaku’s mind how the man could have achieved so much in so little time--even if his notoriety was really only known within the clan.

Seion spoke then, breaking Koutaku out of his thoughts with his steady, calm voice.

“Yes yes, of course Koutaku. I’m not going to tease you forever. The first thing I’d like to tell you of--well really, remind you about--is that it’s not about being flashy or impressive. It’s about being efficient. Sometimes, less is more, remember that.”

Koutaku rolled his eyes, but his smile never faltered. He’d heard those words many times, and he tried to live by them, but sometimes...sometimes he knew you had to fight fire with fire. However, only when you couldn’t get water for the job.

“I know, Seion. Tell me something new for once, C’mon!” Throwing up his hands, Koutaku extracted a kunai and began fidgeting with the thing. He wove it between each of his fingers, tossed it between hands, and threw it before manipulating its course or orientation with the wire affixed to it. The action had become almost thoughtless now, as trained as he was with each of his various weapons and tools. Seion smiled at the sight, considering it a good sign.

“Very well. The thing about genjutsu is it’s often inferior to sensory. It’s something imposed on the mind. With the exception of the most powerful techniques, you can find discrepancies if you’re attentive. The faster you realize you’re in one, the more swiftly you can change that fact.”

Koutaku nodded, spinning the kunai on his finger as he began channeling chakra into the weapon. Gradually, carefully, but with less effort than the last two times he’d tried it, Koutaku began compressing his chakra downwards and layering it. Seion raised an eyebrow, but decided not to say anything, even though he recognized what Koutaku was practicing.

“As to tactics, well, if a genjutsu messes with your desires. Your compulsions, and especially your body. Remember that first and foremost your greatest asset is and will always be Self Mastery.”

At this, Koutaku’s fidgeting stopped. He’d heard that before, but hearing it in a context that grabbed his attention was something else entirely.

“I know how important Mastery of the Self is, but I’m not sure I follow if I’m being honest, Seion. No matter how well I know my capabilities, an illusion that alters my perceptions is still going to be messing with that awareness.”

There was a decided lack of belief in Koutaku’s words. He clearly didn’t see the value of what his uncle was teaching, even though he really was trying to puzzle it out.

At his student’s words--for each member of Koutaku’s family had something to teach him--Seion’s smile became filled with a certain guile, as if he were in on a joke that his nephew had sorely missed. “Ah, but I didn’t say anything about your capabilities. Self Mastery is about more than that. It’s about knowing every detail--insofar as one can--about the workings of your mind and body. How each muscle feels when you want something, or hate it, or when you just don’t care. It’s about knowing those same sensations and feelings in your own mind as well. Knowing what causes what, the causality of your psychology. The more you know, the greater your mastery and the greater your mastery...the less likely an illusion is to get every detail right.”

At this, Koutaku frowned, sinking into thought. Commenting less thoughtlessly now, he countered.

“It can’t be that simple though, there has to be more to countering genjutsu, hell, countering sensory techniques too. If it were that easy, wouldn’t everyone that?”

His uncle nodded, having expected the response. “Yes, you’re right, it isn’t that simple. The method isn’t perfect. The other half is to arm yourself properly. To guard yourself against the forms of assault that you simply can’t identify no matter how hard you try.”

Nodding absently to himself, Koutaku withdrew his wakizashi from its sheath and regarded it a moment. He stared at his uncle’s reflection in the pristine blade. Then he threw his kunai with a simple flick of his wrist.

Seion, somehow, blurred even in the reflection on Koutaku’s blade, and as the kunai passed through him, that ripple only intensified. Koutaku looked up, a scowl creasing his brow. His uncle just stared back at him, both eyebrows raised, looking simultaneously innocent and smug. Grumbling, Koutaku launched towards his uncle, brandishing his blade as he did so.

“Enough talk. One more bout before the tournament!”

Seion simply shook his head and laughed. The two engaged and as they often did between Iouchiryo, the battle dragged on.


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Mon Sep 20, 2021 10:34 pm
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Tue Sep 21, 2021 9:54 pm
Taking a break from their sparring match, both shinobi sweating—Koutaku moreso than his uncle—the two sat down on a bench that protruded from the wall of their training room. Leaning back and truly relaxing for once, feeling safe in the presence of family, Koutaku considered the incredible bevy of techniques that each of his family members had at their disposal. He pondered the many techniques he’d read about in his Jutsu Encyclopedia, and research further in the Iouchiryo library. It was truly startling just how much there was out there. To learn, to counter, to prepare against. It would have been overwhelming if Koutaku didn’t find it so invigorating. Perhaps for the first time in his life, he felt as if it wasn’t so bad that he couldn’t plan for every eventuality.

He sat with that awareness and the peace of mind it gave him for some time, Seion seeming to enjoy the companionable silence that had settled between them just as much as Koutaku was. Still, there were things to do, and Koutaku always wanted to get as much as he possibly could from any training he took part in, this was no different.

Perking up, Koutaku shot his uncle a sidelong glance, his eyes narrowed, a smirk on his lips. “What was that technique you kept using to deflect my attacks?”

His uncle glanced over at him for a brief moment and then looked away, closing his eyes again. Casually he raised his hands and performed the Bird, Serpent, Dragon, and Hare handseals in succession. Without further preamble, nothing at all appeared to occur. Seion opened his eyes and met Koutaku’s now curious gaze, the young man having raised an eyebrow at the lack of results.

“Fuon,” his uncle began, a coy smile on his lips, “ undetectable without chakra vision. Essentially, it’s a defensive technique used to repel purely physical attacks. Try to hit me.”

Koutaku gave his uncle an incredulous look, to which Seion responded not at all. Sighing, Koutaku threw a punch at Seion, only for his fist to slide entirely off course once it was an inch or three away from the man. “Oh…oh that’s fascinating,” Koutaku murmured, shaking his hand as if he’d been shocked. Nonetheless, once he was done he wreathed his hand in chakra, closed his eyes, and then gently reached out into the unseen flow of chakra around his uncle.

It attempted to repel him again, but this time Koutaku just let it flow around him, breathing deep and even as he focused.

“It’s like…” he mused, his voice somewhat distant, “ flowing water, or a swift breeze.”

Pulling his hand away, Koutaku opened his eyes to find Seion smiling, and nodding appreciatively at his observation. “Precisely,” the older shinobi replied. “It’s a rapid cycling of chakra around your person that deflects or rebuffs physical attacks. You know the handseals now, and the principles behind it. Give it a shot.”

Nodding, Koutaku took in a deep breath and performed the same handseals his uncle had: Bird, Serpent, Dragon, and Hare. Idly he wondered if that was the best version of the technique and he resolved to ask. Before then however, he let his chakra well up, being moulded by each handseal, and then released it from his body. Immediately he felt a sort of...turbulent stream of energy wreathing his body and his eyes widened, a grin appearing to match.

Seion chuckled, “I can see the question in you already. I’ve not mastered the technique, it’s beyond my ability, but the last handseal is Tiger.”

Immediately, Koutaku dismissed Fuon, and then performed the handseals once more, this time incorporating the tiger seal at the end. This time when the technique manifested it surged forth with far more force, but the young man swiftly found he couldn’t quite control it.

Seion nodded, “You’ll get it in time.”

Grinning, Koutaku sat back and reflected on the technique, knowing that it would be an incredible boon in the coming days.

It was good to be an Iouchiryo, he thought to himself.

He wasn’t entirely wrong.

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Wed Sep 22, 2021 8:20 pm
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Fri Oct 08, 2021 4:09 pm
His uncle having departed after a few more bouts, Koutaku was left alone in the training facility. With his room empty and nothing much to do, he had time to think once more. However, sometimes his best thoughts occurred while in motion. It was with this consideration that Koutaku had begun to practice against ghostly opponents. He’d been working on a particular maneuver he’d learned of awhile ago.

Altering the flow of a given strike or maneuver midway through. So, in that interest, he was first practicing with a simpler weapon than his typical array of wire. With his wakizashi drawn, Koutaku went through each motion, paying strict attention to each sensation in his body as he moved through thrusts, parries, and ripostes. As he did so he considered the technique he’d been working on, the one that the clan’s tomes on chakra layering had led him to. It was getting more complex the more he practiced it, and with the recent attempt just after his match with Ai, well...that had been quite the success.

He wanted something better though. He wanted a proper result, a true technique, and it was on that which he dwelled while he forcibly altered the motion of a thrust, turning it into a guard breaking counter-attack, forcing the ghostly enemy’s guard wide open before--in the same motion--stabbing inwards at their chest.

Satisfied with the result of that bit, he moved on, imagining that his adversary had summoned armor to block his maneuver. Performing handseals even as he visualized the folding petals of the technique had theorized possible, Koutaku infused his now drawn demon wind shuriken with chakra. Dancing back away from an unseen swing, Koutaku turned his body sideways, evading a thrusting strike, before lashing out with his wakizashi, and then throwing the Fuma Shuriken with its blades aligned vertically, at the adversary. With them already dodging back, they would be on the back foot, but it wouldn’t matter as they stepped on a platform midair, and evaded just to the side of the projectile. Dashing forth and past the shuriken, they’d find themselves bisected as a blade of wind identical in appearance to the massive shuriken emerged from it at a different angle, stopping their ghostly approach dead in its tracks.

Smiling to himself slightly, Koutaku twitched his wrist, drawing a shuriken from its pouch and upwards behind him as another imagined enemy struck at him. His implement won out in the clash, and Koutaku spun on a heel, using the handseals for Tobiishi as he did so, jumping a scant 2 feet up and backward at a very slight angle so he landed on a vertically aligned platform. That done, he pushed off at his max speed and stabbed forth with his wakizashi, summoning the demon wind shuriken back to his offhand as he did so.

Internally his mind was elsewhere though, imagining each petal’s position in the technique, watching them violently unfurl and gouge away material--be it animate or otherwise. At once though, he performed the handseals for a technique he’d already learned with a single hand.
Tiger - Boar - Dog - Dragon - Clap Hands
Temple Style: Discovery of an Incomplete Truth

Chakra surged into his wakizashi, infusing it with wind affinity chakra as he thrust it forward, fully extending his arm for maximum reach. Dodging by turning their body, the unseen adversary would try to slip into Koutaku’s no avail. Smiling, having continued to perform handseals at max speed, Koutaku unleashed another technique.
Ox - Tiger - Ram - Snake
Ninjutsu Amplifier: Earth Flow Spears

The constructs erupted upwards from the ground to the right of Koutaku’s body where the imaginary opponent would be heading. Each would be moving at 115 speed with a power of 65, making them just fast enough to act both as an effective defense and an attack in their own right. The ghost would find themselves forced to retreat in an instant, but that would put them in line of another attack as Koutaku hurled his now altered Demon Wind Shuriken after the poor fool.

Of course, to accomplish that he’d activated his Enhancer.
Seal of Confrontation
Wind Release: Wind Rejuvenation

Then, he’d used Sokumen Henkou, its power significantly bolstered with his having mastered it. As a result, the Fuma Shuriken moving at 135 speed, would possess an impact force of 128 allowing them to easily sheer right through the 65 health earth spears. On the tail of the retreating shadow, Koutaku would touch down and dash forwards in the same moment. Easily overtaking their inferior speed, Koutaku would begin a swift exchange of blows with his wakizashi--forcing the individual to slow down and hampering their ability to perform handseals significantly. Getting caught up in the moment, Koutaku would deliberately miss a thrusting strike to the left of his adversary’s head. However, they had made a fatal error, as he’d prepared his blade with Hidden Arms, wrapping wires around it. Twitching his fingers to release loops of wire from the blade, Koutaku maneuvered them into a spin and initiated one of his most devastating techniques.
Bird - Serpent - Hare - Dragon - Tiger
Radial Shred

At a startling 120 speed and 170 power, the loops of wire would have absolutely eviscerated his foe...had they existed in the first place. Slowing down, Koutaku would swiftly return his wire and weapons to their rightful resting places, with the exception of his demon wind shuriken. Staring at it, the young shinobi realized that the technique he was working on--as it was--simply wouldn’t work with anything except a sword or something similar. That just wouldn’t do.

Taking a deep breath, Koutaku went over the forms in his head, and then performed a series of handseals. With them done his chakra surged up from his core, already coiling and twisting, before erupting onto the massive shuriken and wrapping it in layer upon layer of chakra. Rapidly the technique began to destabilize, but Koutaku kept his focus, his brow knitting as he did so, and the technique ceased to fray at the edges. Gradually--carefully--he adjusted the technique’s fundamental workings, letting it take into mind the object he planned to use it on before it emerged to enshroud it. Smiling as he finished his tweaks, the young Iouchiryo spun the Fuma Shuriken in hand and then swung it as it he whirred through the air.

Just before it happened, Koutaku realized his foolish mistake, let go of the weapon, and pushed himself backward in a tremendous blast of motion at 190 speed. The Fuma Shuriken--the moment afterward-- almost seemed to detonate. The weapon itself was unaffected, but the chakra that had wrapped around its form unfurled in a deadly storm of petal-like blades. The ground, though it had been roughly 4 feet below the weapon, found itself violently carved apart, creating dust and debris in the process. Further, the wind whipped outwards and struck Koutaku, giving him an idea of just how deadly the technique would have been if he’d been at point-blank range.

Putting a hand down to slow himself, his gloves creating enough friction to bring him quickly to a stop, Koutaku marveled as the Fuma shuriken clattered to the ground, the chakra dispersing into the air. “Well...that...that could have been very bad,” Koutaku muttered breathlessly. A moment later, the door to his training room shot open and a worried jounin peered in, eyes flicking about to assess the damage and check that no one was hurt. Typically no one else was allowed in locked rooms, but apparently, the blast had been audible enough to arouse worry--even from the usually very...aloof clerk.

For a moment, Koutaku couldn’t even hear the other shinobi’s words, but as he focused and time passed his hearing seemed to return.

“Are you okay? What happened?? What the hell are you even doing in here?!”

Turning his gaze on the jounin, Koutaku pursed his lips and swallowed. There was no good way to explain, and beyond even that...well, he didn’t want anyone to know what he’d been designing. Well...he didn’t want anyone but a select few to know. Images of Takashi and Travin flashed through his mind’s eye and--hesitantly--the young Iouchiryo rose to his feet, somewhat unsteadily if he was being honest.

“I’m alright,” Koutaku replied, his voice subdued. “I was working on my explosive tag utilization and uh...set a few off a little too close for comfort.”

The jounin narrowed his eyes before nodding and giving him a sympathetic look. “Be careful, that sounded like quite the blast, even the clerk was worried. Though...more about property damage than anyone’s safety. As usual,” the man’s last words were said with a somewhat forced chuckled. It was clear that the shinobi knew that Koutaku had lied, but wasn’t of a mind to call him on it. Simply nodding his head in response, Koutaku waved his elder away but allowed the man to leave the door open.

It was fine, he had no intention of trying the technique again for a little while. He needed to figure out exactly what had gone wrong before he did so anyway. Taking out a notebook, and retrieving several Iouchiryo tomes from his storage dimension, Koutaku began to do exactly that. Idly, he used the Shadow Clone Technique to make one clone to help, and another to keep an eye on the entrance. They didn’t want anyone snooping around or sneaking up on them.

Beginning the necessary calculations--and adjusting for the changes he’d made in the exact formula of the technique--Koutaku quickly began to theorize the exact result of about eight separate permutations. Tracking his work, his shadow clone assistant did much the same, both double-checking his creator’s work and also studying several other avenues to make sure all their bases were covered.

The guard clone on the other hand remained close to the door, pacing, and running through handseal combinations to get a feel for each permutation without fully activating any instance of the technique. Together, the three were an effective team, perhaps in several hours, they’d have a few more workable versions. It was hard work, but certainly well worth the effort.

One day, the technique would be an indispensable weapon in their not inconsiderable arsenal of jutsu.

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