Episode One: The Bloody Trials
A loud yawn left Fune’s lips to his wake. The blonde rolled his arms back and damned how quickly the night went by. His sucky sleep was replaced by feelings of joy and excitement. “Today will be my first opportunity to prove my worth to the village,” he whispered. The teen sprung out of his bed with both arms to the sky. “You can do this, Fune! Everything’s going to go great. Everyone will pass with flying colors. We’ve all tried really hard to improve,” he said to himself. He slapped his cheeks and nodded. After, he started doing breathing exercises consisting of breathing in and out for five seconds each. Then, he nodded.
Soon enough, he was on his way to the ninja academy. Fune sprinted to the entrance from his home while attempting to count how long it would take him to. Junê and Miro, his closest friends, were always the ones waiting for him to arrive, but today would be different. Today, he would be the one waiting on them!
“What-” Fune began. His pair of skies were set on the academy’s entrance, where, startlingly, both of them stood: Junê and Miro both stood there, widely grinning at him. “You’re late again, Fuuuu-ne,” Junê teasingly said. He shakily took a step forwards, before tilting his head sideways. “How?! I sprinted here! Dude, do you live here?!” the blonde jokingly said with a chuckle or two. Junê hummed, and, after a couple of seconds, nodded. “I do. Both of us do, actually. What better way to be productive but to be where we’re supposed to be?”
Junê and Miro were best friends and had something in common: both lost their parents at a young age. They met a year before enrolling into the academy and decided to do so together, to stay together. They always were hesitant to speak about their situation and their relationship, even to him! Them living at the academy wasn’t something Fune expected, though, but it made sense: houses weren’t affordable in Kirigakure. In fact, only the adults could afford them.
“Yikes, dude... So, that’s how you’re always beating me, you cheaters!” the teen said with a happy laugh. “Pfft... Honestly, I was starting to question how ya hadn’t realized yet,” Miro commented, having friendly mocked Fune. The blonde clenched his fist and grit his teeth. “Dude...! How was I supposed to figure that out? Haha!” The trio laughed with one another and kept conversing for a while longer. They grew silent to the instructors’ arrival.
Standing side by side were the instructors: a pink-haired, petite kunoichi; a pale, skinny shinobi; and a hooded, mysterious man. These nameless individuals were their instructors and the ones that would guide them on this special day.
The rest of the students had arrived by now. To the pink-haired kunoichi’s command, everyone now stood side by side. Fune leaned forwards for but a second, looking from one person to the next. His friends were to the other end of the line. He nodded to them and adopted a serious stance and look, locking his eyes on the instructors.
“As you all know, today is your graduation day. I congratulate all of you for your efforts and for surviving this far. You’ve overcome every test we teachers have had for you, but today’s will be different. You’ll learn what I mean soon enough,” the kunoichi began. She gestured at her work partners.
The pale, skinny shinobi pointed his thumb back at the academy. “First, we’ll run a medical check on you. All of you, get naked,” he commanded. Every student deadpanned, some wanting to question the instructor’s orders while others internally did so. Fune did the second. “Right here?” he asked himself. The pale shinobi eyed him and raised a brow. The blonde panicked. His breathing quickened and his eyes widened. After inhaling and exhaling various times, each for five seconds, he started undressing.
In the shinobi world, one’s appearance doesn’t matter. If you’re not strong enough to carry your own weight, it doesn’t matter if you’re handsome or ugly, fat or thin, naked or semi-naked. He understood that, but he didn’t think the teachers were making the right call to force all of them to undress. This was certainly the most difficult test they had been put to!
“All of you, follow me. Once you’re inside, form a line in front of the infirmary. One by one, you’ll go inside and let the medic check your vitals,” the pale, skinny shinobi informed them. Fune furrowed his brow but did as he was told, staying optimistic about this upcoming test. He walked closely behind the instructor and joined the single-file line, where he patiently waited for his turn.
“No one’s coming out...” Fune muttered. He looked away from his front and to the pink-haired kunoichi, who looked aloof at this current time. They exchanged glances, but Fune quickly backed out of the staring contest. “She doesn’t even look like she’s here!” he thought. What could she be thinking about right now? Was he not considering something? This was just another test, right? That didn’t explain why people were quickly coming in and not out.
“Next!” the doctor shouted. “Y-Yes! I’m coming!” Fune nervously shouted. The blonde took a step forward. One that changed his destiny forever. They hadn’t said it, but the instructors were looking at them with a saddened look. It was as if they wanted them to back out of this test and to live out their inevitably short lives. Kirigakure’s lifespan was, approximately, twenty. This was mainly because Kirigakure’s population was composed of shinobi and fishermen that were continuously faced off against powerful sea creatures, but also because of the village’s terrible living conditions.
At least they would live happily then.
After being thoroughly checked, the doctor gestured him to move forwards. Not towards him, but a hole in the wall. He hadn’t ever noticed it despite the many times he ended up in the infirmary. “Huh. The more you know,” he thought. Fune looked back at the doctor and saluted. “Thank you for your efforts!” he gratefully said. Afterwards, he quickly rushed into the hole. He screamed in it momentarily and heard his voice echo time and time again before it was no more.
“This... this is a tunnel, isn’t it?!” Fune happily shouted. At least there was some fun in this event, whatever it was based on! He didn’t think twice about sliding down it. Sadly, it was a straight slope down to a living hell. The blonde didn’t know that just yet. After all, the only thing he had ever considered a hell was reading and studying. There wasn’t anything worse than those two, especially combined!
Fune abruptly landed on his knees, scratching them past his pants. He solemnly took to his wound while looking around. His brow was, once more, furrowed. The teen leaned forwards and sniffed his knees. “My suspicions were right...” he murmured. A dozen students and he were, now, within a cave that reeked of blood. He licked his wound and ripped two pieces of his shirt to wrap around his knees.
“WooOoah!” he heard. The voices that echoed through the cave lightened the mood, at least for him. Soon enough, Junê and Miro gracefully landed on top of him, stomping his head on the cave’s muddy ground. He damned them while he ate dirt, and, with effort, pushed them off of him. “Read the mood, you two!” he angrily shouted. He never imagined himself yelling at his closest friends. It was a choice he would soon regret.
The best friends looked at one another and giggled. “Oh, don’t get so worked up over licking the floor, dude. You always are. Right, Miro?” Junê mockingly said, to which Miro nodded once or twice. Afterwards, they listened to Fune’s command and looked around. Some people were shaking in their boots, while some others were inhumanly focused. Both of his friends grew wary of what was going on, just like he had from the get-go. “T-This smell...!” Junê commented, having picked up on the strong smell of blood. He pinched his nose and poked Miro, before turning to Fune. His lips separated, as if he were about to say something, but nothing ever left his mouth.
The hooded, mysterious man flickered into existence before all, holding out a single seal. Fune could see his heartless eyes from where he was: he hadn’t picked himself up just yet.
“This is your final test, students. Many of you will fall here. Remember Kirigakure’s motto: we’re all weapons sharpened to kill. Your time in this academy was that. Prove your worth to Kirigakure,” the man said. It felt like he was trying to sound inspirational and to motivate us to give it our best, but he only added weight to the situation. There wasn’t a way out of this cave: the exits were locked and we couldn’t climb with suimen to its top and through the tunnel, even if we tried.
“I wonder what Junô was meaning to say. If I hadn’t yelled at them, maybe they would’ve spoken,” he uttered. Fune held his face to conceal his tears. That was his second regret. His first was not getting in his friends’ way and forcing them to turn around and forget they ever aspired to be ninja. He would rather be a bad friend than a sad friend, but, unfortunately, he was the second.
Fune quickly raised to his feet and nodded. “We’ve got to stay together and protect one another. I’d rather kill you two than have someone else do it,” he said sternly. The two agreeingly nodded and charged forwards. “Everyone, take the kunai that’s in front of you. Use it to end your friends,” the instructor coldly said. The trio had already been on it and hastily scooped up one kunai each.
A student to Fune’s left was doing much of the same, but he, for better or for worse, wasn’t as quick with his hands as he was: Fune slammed his knee into his chin, knocking his soul out of him. The student, for whatever reason, regained his consciousness almost immediately and came at him with his fists. He ducked and weaved, easily avoiding his attacks, before slashing his torso and up, carving a line into his skin. The boy died and fell on his arms. He tightly held him by his shoulders and grit his teeth.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered. Fune felt angst about what he had just done: this was the first time he ever carried a weapon and harmed somebody else. He didn’t get satisfaction or happiness from it. Instead, he grew anxious and stressed over what everyone else and he were doing. The sounds of groans, screams, and shouts filled the cave and echoed in his mind. His breathing fastened. His hands were covered in sweat, and, because of how nervous he was, his kunai dropped to the ground, with it the boy he was holding.
Before he knew it, three students were headed Fuse’s way with intent, but he was in another dimension and didn’t pick up on their presence. It took Junê’s scream to snap him out of his state of limbo. “Wakey wakey, goldilocks, you’ll be next if you don’t!” The blonde instinctively spotted his friend’s sarcasm, but, most importantly, realized the gravity of the situation. “I don’t have time to pick up my kunai... I’m bringing fists to a kunai fight. What kind of psycho am I?” Fune thought.
The teen raised his fists and adopted a defensive stance, allowing the three to close in on him. They didn’t attack in rapid succession. Instead, one of them attacked while the other two stayed behind, before turning to his allies and assaulting them. He glanced his friends’ way and back at his assailant.
Armed with but his fists, the naked teen lunged at his enemy, going in for a sucker punch right to the nose. Since their attacks were simultaneous, his enemy succeeded in digging his kunai deep into his chest, while he broke the other’s nose and knocked him on his butt. He jumped forwards and onto him, coming down on him with a multitude of punches to the face. His enemy tried to defend himself by raising his fists, but, when pinned down against the ground and right after getting his nose broken, he was forced to submit.
After, Fune hastily rose to a stand and examined the scene. His eyes widened. The blonde let out a battle cry and rushed the student that was attacking Junê, the weakest of the three, holding a kunai to his throat but it hadn’t reached him. Fune bashed into the boy’s back, knocking him forwards and onto Junê. What happened next was something he would never forgive himself for.
“I should’ve thought better about what I did,” he muttered between gasps. By toppling the boy over Junê, he made it easier for the first to dig the kunai into his friend’s throat, ending his life. In that instant, Fune lost it: he kicked the boy’s head sideways and sent him flying across the cave and into its pit. He rushed after him while he was in motion, banging his feet on the ground while running. He took the boy by his head and skied across the muddy, bloodied floor with him in hand, ripping flesh off of his face. Upon halting, he slammed his head time and time, and time again against the ground, breaking his jaw, which forced his mouth to stay open. Then, he slid his foot into his mouth, knocking his teeth in and down his throat. After that, he slammed his foot time and time again on his cheek.
He wanted to see this one perish, but, unfortunately, he lacked the strength to pulverize what remained of him. In the end, he kicked him across the pit and flared his nose. Fune returned to his senses then, realizing what he did and what happened. He didn’t regret killing this one, but he blamed himself for turning his back to his allies. Had he stayed by their side, Junê wouldn’t have died.
“If only I hadn’t made the same mistake twice,” he whispered.
Miro’s body fell to a kunai drilling his gut and cutting his intestines. He spat blood and bled out on the cave’s upper floor, while Fune couldn’t do anything but watch in disbelief from its pit.
“Everything else was like a blur,” the blonde commented. He was dominated by rage and didn’t snap out of it until the instructors intervened, gesturing at the clock on top of the cave’s exit. “It’s time,” the pink-haired kunoichi said. “All of you who survived, line up before me for your headbands and money for equipment.”
Fune came back to his senses to a kunai in his grasp, but, more precisely, in another student’s throat. He pulled it out and blankly stared at it for a moment or two. Even after realizing what he had done, to put to sleep the majority of his classmates, he didn’t feel sad for those that died, besides his friends, or that sense of nervousness and angst. Instead, he felt dead inside. He lost the people that mattered to him the most and was given the opportunity to keep living alongside those who he didn’t have time to reach.
The blonde took calculated steps with his bare feet on the many blood puddles to the female instructor. After it was his turn, he exchanged glances with her yet again. They shared the same look on their faces now. Both blank, both broken. He didn’t want to feel like this. How could he go from that cheerful boy he once was to a tool? It was then he decided he wouldn’t. If the village wanted to break him before sending him out on missions, he would refuse with the little willpower he had left in him.
With this headache of an event, Fune was officially a Genin, but his duties wouldn’t begin until months from this time.
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