Jumping between trees was a very fun thing for Shinku to do. The wind on his face. The fun of planning your route on the spot, the satisfaction of being able to do this without even thinking due to how much he had practiced. Everything about it was a very interesting ordeal. But today, Shinku experienced another thrill of jumping between trees, one he swore to repeat himself in the future. This thrill was avoiding traps. And while Shinku could do this with practically his eyes closed, and even if he sprung them he would probably be too fast to be caught in the aftermath, he was thankful to whoever set them for opening his eyes to the brilliant idea of making a super difficult training course for himself.

Shinku avoided string after string, paper tag after paper tag, as he headed for the tower. If he had just rushed there on the first day the chances of there being enemies, let alone traps were astronomically small. Wait. They were, weren’t they? So how did he encounter the grass shinobi? There was no way they just found him by chance. Did they aim for him? He suddenly remembered something the grass ninja said. “You’ve made me want you more and more.” He’d said. Shinku hadn’t paid attention to that at the time, but… that was definitely a sign they were there for him wasn’t it? And what preceded that line that lead to it? “To think you’ve improved to such a degree…”? No, no. “Mangekyo Sharingan…”. He stopped hopping between trees suddenly.

Sharingan. He wanted the sharingan? Shinku gulped as he thought of the possibility, he’d have gone after Sasuke first. No offense to Sasuke, but he wouldn’t stand a chance. Even with all three of them at once. Thankfully he’d killed him. There was no fooling Takeminakata. Once a mark is placed on you, there’s no escaping the sight of Shinku’s Mangekyo sharingan. And that body was definitely burnt to a crisp. He had stopped breathing, his heart had stopped beating, everything had stopped. So why was Shinku getting such a bad feeling? As if that corpse would just get up and start walking around again. He shook his head. There’s no way that was alive, just no way. It wasn’t even recognizable; it was charred black in a form that resembled human only in its humanoidity. Was that even a word? Humanoidity? If it wasn’t it should have been.

Shinku moved his body to the side, avoiding a kunai as he thought. He threw a kunai at a wire behind him, cutting it, causing a barrage of kunai to fly off, the pained scream of a man sounding out. He shouldn’t be worrying about it too much. Even if his policy was to be paranoid about everything, he couldn’t be paranoid that every almost completely destroyed corpse would stand back up and run away. ‘Get yourself together, Shinku. You have a chunin exam to pass.’ He reminded himself as he set off for the tower once again, leaving behind the kunai-riddled man and his team behind. It was just then that his clones released and he got the information of what happened back.

Everything went off according to plan. The sound nin were thrown outside the forest, probably earning a disqualification, and the scroll was delivered to Sasuke’s team, though they tried to refuse it at first, Shinku’s clone forcing it into their hands eventually. Now all Shinku needed to do was arrive at the tower, which only took a few more minutes. AS he entered the place, he found it to be quite well-lit in the first room. The room had a few talismans around the walls, but nothing about the place stood out other than the giant proverb hanged on the wall.

“Without heaven, enrich your knowledge and prepare for the chance. Without earth, run the fields seeking an advantage. Upon opening both heaven and earth, the way forward shall be redressed. This is namely the secret of the one who guides.” Shinku read out loud. “So basically open both scrolls. You could’ve just had a sign that says that. As Shikamaru would say, what a bother.” He put index and middle finger on both hands together perpendicularly, a clone appearing next to him. He handed the earth scroll to the clone and took heaven for himself, before they both proceeded to open them up at once.

The insides of the scrolls had some formulas written on them, surrounding a huge letter for “person”. The letters for person started smoking, Shinku putting the scrolls on the ground one over the other before taking a jump backwards. A puff of smoke exploded from them, an unknown man appearing over the scrolls, wearing a Konoha forehead protector and a standard shinobi vest.

“So it’s you…” He said, the two Shinku facing each other then back to him and simultaneously shrugging “Well. For a start. Congratulations on clearing the second phase of the chunin exams. I’ll ask just in case, but do you understand what’s written there?” He pointed at the… riddle? Posted on the wall.

“Well… I get that it’s some form of metaphor, but what it’s pointing to is lost to me.” Shinku explained, the ninja nodding and reading it out again.

“The earth in this text means the human body. The heaven is the human head. In other words, those who lack physical strength, must strive in order to improve, those who lack mentally, strive to learn in preparation for your mission.” He explained.

“Ah. I see. In that case the missing letters are the letter for “person” that was on the scrolls.” Shinku speculated, receiving a nod in reply.

“This survival excersise was created in order to measure the test-taker’s abilities as a chunin. Considering you’ve cleared that without even having a team, it is assumed you have both, in other words, it is assumed that you’ll know how to lead a team to victory as well. To be “the one who guides”. An idiot not capable of doing that wouldn’t have gotten this far alone. In any case. Since you’ve passed I’ll show you inside.” The man said before leading Shinku to the inside of the tower and leaving. Shinku had to spend four days there waiting. At least there were rooms he could stay in. That was a relief. As he was walking around a hallway in the tower a group of sand shinobi appeared at the other end, walking opposite him.

‘These guys… The ones Sasuke met with before the beginning of the exam? The Gaara guy seems to be about our age, but… there’s something off about him.’ He didn’t know why but as he walked towards them and even past them, the tension in the air continued to be high. If they were there that early… maybe they could actually give him a challenge, Shinku hoped, though it didn’t explain why he felt so tense around them.

The four days of waiting were hell. Not to mention that Sasuke’s team had only made it in the last moments, making Shinku think they had failed somewhere along the lines, or even that his paranoia about that grass ninja was true and they were now dead. He worried to no end. That’s why when the three walked inside, as beat up as they were, he was greatly relieved.

And as soon as they did they were asked to gather in the main chamber. A large arena-like area with two statues of arms, their hands put together into a ram sign. The teachers gathered ahead of us. Most of the winners of this part of the exam seemed to be Konoha shinobi, not to mention all the rookies were here. That’s actually quite amazing. In total there were nineteen of them, including Shinku.

Anko congratulated them on passing the second phase, before the Hokage started explaining some fundamentals of the chunin exam, how it came to be and its history. He used a lot of difficult words and explained it in a roundabout way, but in general, to Shinku it all came down to three words. Inter-alliance politics. The chunin exam was basically a controlled war between the allied nations that they could use to apply pressure to each other without reducing their military powers. Shinku didn’t care much about it. It was indeed an effective way to control the loss of military power while allowing the villages a different amount of power. But he didn’t care about that. He hadn’t come here to represent his nation or any sort of bullshit like that. He’d come here to become a chunin and to have fun, that’s what he was going to do.

When he was done with that and was about to explain the third test, a ninja appeared before the Hokage, introducing himself as Gekkou Hayate, the judge of the third round, the Hokage letting him take over the explanation. He coughed in the middle of practically every sentence. Was this guy okay? Is he terminally ill? Why is he a ninja like this? Let alone having been chosen as the judge for the exam? He could barely talk without interrupting himself! Shinku shook his head.

He said that before the third exam they would have to do something else. A preliminary exam with participation in the main one on the line. There were too many people there for the final exam to work and it was according to the rules that a preliminary would be held before the exam to reduce the numbers. Individual battles to the death. He asked for those who wish to drop out now. Only one person raised their hand. Yakushi Kabuto, saying he was already at his limits and fighting a battle to the death immediately was just out of the question. Shinku saw Sasuke seeming to struggle with something, his team whispering amongst themselves about something. He would have to ask what that was about later. The teachers also argued about something. Anko and Kakashi to be exact.

After confirming that there would be no more dropouts, Hayate announced the beginning of the preliminaries. He explained the rules, the battles will be to the death or until one gives up, though he reserved the right to stop any fight, he warned them not to expect it to happen at all. And revealing the screen where the participants would be chosen at random. He announced that without delay they would announce the first two names. The names appeared on the screen shuffling through each other. Shinku looked up at the screen expectantly. Now. Who here would be his opponent? He hoped that luck was on his side and it wouldn’t be anyone boring.

A note from koforeme

I still haven't decided on the order of the tournament so the next chapter might take me longer. If you have any ideas I'd love to hear them. Even if I don't really use them I could get some inspiration off them. Up to you if you wanna share in the comments. Thanks for reading.

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