AN: Hello again.

To the reviews! Most seemed positive and I've also received the blessings of nclose9 (yay!). The most common complaint(?) seems to be about chapter length. I apologise, but that will not change for some time. Not until I have more free time anyway.

So please bare with this for now. I will try and update more frequently, but as stated, this is more of a form of relaxation to me. A break between my other chunky fics and life's toils. Sorry.

Other than that, I just wanna say thanks for reviewing. I read each and every one of them and they make me smile. Cheers.

Now read peasants!


O


West Mountain Academy looked more like a gigantic Buddhist mountain-monastery rather than school, and like most things in kumo, I loved it.

I adored it. The architecture, the aesthetics, the height, the crisp air, the wide halls, the tall pillars, the small gardens and sandalwood flooring… Yes. This was going to be my second home, I honestly couldn't wait to start dorming here come my third year.

For the first time in quite a while I was looking forward to the future.

But it was just that; the future.

I needed to focus on the here and now.

The here and now being escorted in a line of other children, my soon to-be classmates, to our very first homeroom...

I was on guard.

There was a stench of a test about.

My fellow potatoes have been far too optimistic, too expecting, they are far too happy. It's not good. Excess happiness invites disaster after all. The universe doesn't want us getting too uppity.

And if I've noticed it, then it's a given the adult, veteran mass-murderers have too.

Yes. I foresee a harsh but necessary reality-check in the near future.

Just wish I didn't have to be apart of it.

… No.

No, this will be good for me too I think.

I need this.

I like to think I have a grasp of my situation, but I still need to know for certain. I want to know if all my bravado and bravery were just illusions, If so, then by all means I wish those illusions shattered.

I have no desire to live in ignorance.

I wish to test my body. I wish to see how it will react. I wish to see my innermost expressions…

But not only than that, whatever trial is sprung upon us, it will serve a good opportunity to gauge myself against my peers.

See how they react.

I took a deep breath. Alright then.

Grit your teeth me.

Now determined rather than resigned to endure the coming test, it's only a matter of when, where and how… It's very much a case of hurry up and wait I suppose. There's not much I can do at this moment other than stay alert.

Feh.

My eyes wandered. From high ceiling to shadows to the empty corridors we passed, I let my gaze flit.

Just because there was no action to take, does not excuse me for being unaware. I could also reason out what the test might be, it would be a good use of my time I think...

So I did.

I doubt there are plants or disruptive influences within my fellow potatoes for one. Seeding distrust amongst us so early on serves no purpose, weariness within the ranks is a lesson that should be learnt yes, but not so soon.

There is no merit to that sort of test today.

That means I can probably rely on my fellow potatoes if push comes to shove should the test be combat focused.

In fact, the discretion required to know when to retreat, when to fight, and when to rally together would probably be part of the test. Kumo are all about military unity after all.

So, no internal discord then.

That still leaves a heck of a lot of other stuff, but it's a start.

We continued to walk to the rhythmical sounds of our footsteps. Through no words were said, it would seem some potatoes ahead had made a game of matching steps. Often there would only be a single pair of footsteps before we all petered out into a pitter-patter of foot falls.

I almost smiled at the simple satisfaction the young can get from something so simple.

Almost.

What other tests then?

A straightforward surprise attack?

Unlikely.

The results would be unequal and unreliable. Those at the forefront of the attack would react differently than they would at the back. The strike would merely result in shock, it would numb instead of teach.

Not to mention the demerits of singling out those attacked first amongst their peers.

No, a surprise attack is unlikely.

Traps?

Will the doorway be trapped? The corridors? Have I already stepped into a trap?

Well there's not much I can do about that. Just keep my eyes open and head on the swivel, I'm not even sure what I should be looking for in terms of boobie-traps anyway.

A maybe. Not unlikely but not something I can truly prepare for.

So instead I will further the possibilities.

What next?

To the steady sounds of footfall, I pondered.

Killing intent? Will we be subjected to the fabled killing intent? Chakra pressure? Chakra expression?

An interesting prospect, but one I could prepare for even less than traps, so I wasted little time furthering that train of thought.

Though…

Something like that would be the most equal and rewarding test theorised so far.

I feel I am on the right track.

Walking these copy and paste halls, I arrived at a conclusion within my head.

The test would not be so obvious, not be so straightforward. I don;t think it will be something we see coming.

Thus, inevitably, my mind came to the conclusion I had already suspected right from the start:

Genjutsu.

Likely. Obvious even.

Genjutsu is the great equaliser of the Shinobi world. Varied in effect and potency, subtle or brutal, Genjutsu stretches as far as one's imagination, and then beyond.

… Or so I'm told.

Mind-trickery bullshit.

Genjutsu can be applied through a variety of ways, single-target with eye-contact or touch and AOE with smell or sound.

Most likely, the Genjutsu would be applied subtly over an area to catch all potatoes unaware.

Well alright then.

Ha-ha-ha, ha! Now that I know it's coming, you'll never catch me unawa- oh shit, I've already been caught haven't I?

I then did something I didn't really like doing.

[Observe]

I used my system.

There are many reasons I dislike using my system, but I'm too busy to monologue about that right now.

The skill [Observe] was focused at the back of the potato walking in front of me. I received a ding heralding a blue screen of bad news

[Skill Failed: Undefined Target]

Moving quickly, I surged forward to touch the body not a meter ahead of me… and passed right through.

Suddenly my mind was clear.

And I was cold.

I shivered in the mountain wind, the phantom scent of sandalwood replaced by the crisp high altitude air. My arms instinctively hugged themselves while goosebumps erupted all over me from head to toe.

My balls also shrivelled. The was a lonely caw of a hawk to my side.

Still disoriented, I moved swiftly to the nearest wall for shelter from the wind, only to wince when my shoulder hit sharp rock.

A jagged rock face.

Goddamn Genjutsu.

My head whipped around, my eyes frantically taking in the view.

I was alone, bereft of coat, and seemingly stranded halfway up a mountain with no monastery or potato in sight.

I took a deep breath.

"Crapbaskets."

The test had begun.


O


AN: I did say this would be infrequent didn't I?

Well, actually, I've had this chapter (and a few following) mapped out in my head for a while, but deadlines approach and I've had little time to write.

This is just a small burst, basically me indulging in some stress relief.

Still, I hope you enjoyed, leave a review if it pleases.

I'll see y'all next time, wherever that may be.