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> Mastering Flame
Uchiha, Zau
 Posted: Nov 7 2017, 03:38 AM
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Zau had done a great deal of work in the last few weeks; he tremendously improved his Taijutsu skill, and worked Kage Bunshin to such a perfection that the jutsu was almost flawless for him. There was, however, one aspect of his training that was incomplete. His fire jutsu were dreadfully not up to snuff-specifically, they were far too slow, compared to the rest of his fighting style.

The first technique was the most powerful. Goukakyou no Jutsu launched a massive ball of flame towards the target. It was simple, effective, and made a statement. For the Uchiha, it was a rite of passage; you weren't considered an adult until you could manage it. Zau, for his part, had figured out the jutsu when he was still in the academy, forever a mark of great pride for the young Uchiha. Zau thought back to that day.

QUOTE
Zau stood on top of the dock, performing the same set of handseals again and again. Every time he performed the technique, however, only smoke issued forth. True, it was a significant amount of smoke-but smoke, all the same. Zau growled and stamped his foot on the dock, and nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard his father's voice behind him.

Yenma Uchiha was a tall man, and the great-grandson of Kemuri Zaulyl. He carried the typical Uchiha look, but unlike most, his Kemuri heritage had shone through the Uchiha-his eyes, rather than solid black, were blue with striking golden streaks-usually. Right now, they were crimson, and displayed the triple tomoe of the fully matured Sharingan. The golden streaks remained, however. "Smoke isn't a bad thing to have either. Afterall, where there's smoke, there is fire." Yenma performed a series of handseals with his gloved hands, raised a hand to his lips, and expelled a massive sphere of lustrous golden flame. As the flames died down, he performed a series of one-handed seals with his free hand; the flames seemed to shift color, to change to silver-but truly, it was not silver flames now floating above the pond, but an equally massive sphere of smoke. Yenma allowed the technique to die down and stood up straight.

"The wind element is uncommon, but among the Kemuri, it's much more frequent. You and I, and I suspect your brother as well, were all born with both Fire and Wind elements. You unconsciously mold wind into your flame, and the result is Smoke. You need to re-examine your chakra use and isolate the wind from the flame. I know you can use the jutsu if you can just manage that. What's more, isolating the two will help you when it comes time to learn how to properly wield smoke itself. Keep trying son. Isolate.'

Yenma walked off then, leaving Zau to his thoughts. He knew his father was only trying to make Zau feel better-unconsciously using the precursor of an advanced element was something, surely-but Zau only was angered further by his inability to use the elements separately. He's never heard of any Kemuri being incapable of using fire properly, and surely no Uchiha, for that matter.

Zau's eyes narrowed, his hands formed the familiar seals again, and he brought his hand to his lips. He was rewarded immediately with a sapphire-hued ball of flame, nowhere near the size of Yenma's, but a ball of actual fire nonetheless. Zau stopped the jutsu short and glanced back to see if his father had seen it.

But Yenma was already gone.

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Uchiha, Zau
 Posted: Nov 7 2017, 03:49 AM
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Zau thought back on that day. His father had told him to isolate the wind and flame, but had Zau truly done that? As he remembered it, he didn't focus on his chakra any differently at all-he just got angry, and that anger provided the fuel to feed the flames of his jutsu. Ever since, he had noticed that fire came easier to him when he was angry. Back in the first few weeks on his team, he had assisted Jash once in a battle against their now-friend Serenity. Jash had attacked Zau like an idiot when the two had gained the upper hand, and Zau responded with Goukakyou.

Zau thought back to the handseals he had used then. They had come to him naturally, without needing to think about it. He knew instinctively what to do, where to aim; Jash had copied the jutsu back at him, a painful memory for Zau, as his Sharingan had recorded clearly that Jash's fireball was the more powerful of the two. Zau was more familiar with the technique by now; he had used it to great effect against one of his sensei's lions, against an Akuma, and even when preventing a military coup. It was, by now, a rather easy technique to use for the Uchiha.

Even so, it wasn't quite right. He wanted to master the technique such that he could catch an enemy off-guard with it; even those who weren't Uchiha couldn't be caught off-guard by a jutsu that required handseals. Zau placed his hands into a single seal-Horse-and brought his hand to his lips. The resultant ball of azure flame left a wash of pleasure coursing through his body-the sort that came of doing something right. He had reduced it to a single seal; but could it be reduced further? Could Zau make it so that he didn't give away any warning at all for the technique? His instincts told him yes-yes he could.

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Uchiha, Zau
 Posted: Nov 8 2017, 03:15 AM
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Zau applied what he had learned over the last few moments again in his mind. He knew he could use this jutsu without handseals somehow; doing so would drastically increase the fatal potential of the technique. A thought struck him as odd, however-why didn't his father have it mastered? His father used handseals, just as Zau did. Am I doing something others don't bother with? Why? Should I stop?

And, just as he had that fateful day so many years ago, Yenma's voice snapped Zau out of his reveries. "Keep going. Don't stop on my account." Zau turned back to see his father crouching on top of the hill behind him. He was watching with his odd Sharingan active, observing Zau's efforts to master Goukakyou. In reality, Yenma had never bothered advancing his skill with a jutsu beyond its base level. Very few ninja had. He was proud of Zau, and of Zau's generation, for the effort they seemed to be putting into mastering their techniques.

Zau turned back to the lake, inhaled deeply, and, without so much as a single handseal, expelled a sphere of sapphire flame from his mouth, such that it rivaled even Yenma's Goukakyou. As the flames died down, Zau heard a single set of hands, slowly clapping as Yenma walked away. Zau grinned; that was one jutsu down. He only had a few more to go. The next was a technique used and popularized by Kemuri Zaulyl: Kasumi Enbu.

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Uchiha, Zau
 Posted: Nov 8 2017, 01:24 PM
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The next technique on his list was Kasumi Enbu. The technique worked by creating a fine mist of flammable gas that, once exposed to a spark, would ignite, thus creating a wide burst of flame instantly-or at least, to the perceptions of those who didn't notice the mist. It was a useful technique, and one commonly used by Zau's namesake; Kemuri Zaulyl used it so often, in fact, that he used to bottle the condensed mist and use the jars as molotov cocktails, a thought that had more than one crossed the mind of the young Uchiha Zau, usually followed by the question of what the hell a molotov was.

Today, he wouldn't ponder the origins of strange words. Rather, today was one of work. He performed the technique once, complete with its typical handseals. He didn't bother igniting it; just getting the mist out over the lake was enough for his purposes. As his chakra settled down again, Zau activated his Sharingan, noting how the handseals had helped him form his chakra, and in exactly which way. That would be important later. He completed the handseals again, built up the chakra, but did not release it; he observed how his chakra shifted and changed as the handseals modified it.

Zau extracted a notebook he had brought along with him for just this purpose. He wrote down his experiences, how he might take shortcuts, and essentially codified the data he knew of the technique. Each seal was important for achieving a particular goal, but seals were crutches. True mastery of one's own chakra would doubtless equate to the ability to perform those jutsu without relying on such crutches. Seals would only hold Zau back.

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Uchiha, Zau
 Posted: Nov 8 2017, 01:32 PM
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The next day, Zau started in earnest, grabbing his notebook and returning to his favored training spot. He reviewed his notes and attempted cutting a single seal from the formula-the seal that provided the benefit Zau felt he could most easily replicate on his own. As he skipped the seal, he felt a notable lurch of his chakra in his system-his body was reacting to the unexpected shift in standard procedure. He hadn't noticed this effect when training Goukakyou, but then, he had used that technique far more often.

Zau immediately stopped forming the jutsu and rested for a few minutes, allowing his system to recover from the sudden shock. He used this time writing in his notebook, explaining the lurching feeling and suggesting ways he might reverse the symptom. Zau was by no means a professor of jutsu-his theories and suggestions were just that, theories and suggestions. He sighed and stood up, looking down at the book as he performed the seals again. This time, he pre-emptively began molding his chakra in the way that would make up for the missing seal. The lurch was noticeably absent.

Zau ceased his seals again and wrote his findings. If the lurch could be prevented by molding his chakra pre-emptively, did that mean it HAD to be? If so, the logical conclusion of this would be that by molding his chakra for the entire jutsu several moments before he used it, he could effectively cut seals-but that wouldn't do. The point of getting rid of handseals was to speed up one's combat efficacy, not slow it down. Zau needed to avoid the lurch without preparing for it.

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Uchiha, Zau
 Posted: Nov 8 2017, 01:43 PM
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Zau took a deep breath and began the handseals again. This time, he anticipated the lurch and made an effort to mold his chakra to fill in the gap as quickly as he could. While there was momentary discomfort, it was less so than before-Zau nodded. That was how it had to be done. He stopped his seals, wrote down a few more notes, and picked the next seal to drop.

The second seal was of greater import than the first; making a mistake here would significantly alter the nature of the technique, and while Zau had once pondered the idea of simply using random handseals and seeing what happened, an early lesson in the academy had warned him of the inherent risk in that.

QUOTE
"Yes, Zau?" The sensei was wearing standard chuunin garb today. Her light silver hair was tied up in a high top-knot, contrasting with her dark skin. She drove the puberty-ridden boys of the class crazy, but Zau wasn't like the rest of them. He didn't have time to waste chasing after women he knew were too old and too out of his class anyway. Zau didn't like his classmates; as far as he was concerned, in his entire class, he was the only one taking this seriously.

"I was just wondering why no one has just sat down and done all the permutations for jutsu?" Granted, the combinations were literally infinite; there was no cap on how many handseals a jutsu might make use of, though generally, the more complicated the technique, the more seals it used. Kamiwara-sensei nodded.

"Good question. The answer is, people have. They usually kill themselves four or five jutsu into their tests. A jutsu can be simple, but drain a massive amount of chakra, or it can create conditions you're not prepared for. If the jutsu you accidentally create generates a massive explosion on the first object it hits, and you practice it in the mirror...you're gone. If a jutsu requires a great deal of chakra and you barely have enough left to pull off a Bunshin, you're gone. Playing around with handseals is dangerous."


And missing a vital one was equally dangerous. Zau's mist technique could potentially turn into a jutsu that turned his stomach into stone or some other outlandish effect. Without careful study and consideration of what each handseal meant and did in coordination with each other and in a particular order, it was impossible to predict what might go wrong.

So, this lesson ringing in his head, Zau was very careful to not miss the chakra flow for the second technique. Things could go very wrong if he did.

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Uchiha, Zau
 Posted: Nov 8 2017, 01:53 PM
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The process continued like this for about the next hour. Zau would pick a seal to drop from the technique, figure out how to compensate for its loss, and through trial and error, develop the best method to do so. He did this for every seal in the technique, one by one, until he had a clear method of working it out there in his notebook to drop every single seal. Still, even with each individual seal worked out, Zau didn't want to risk trying the whole thing without seals all at once.

Zau picked the two seals he referred to as the lowest. These were the seals that, if something went wrong, Zau was at least relatively sure he wouldn't blow up for making a mistake. He performed the handseals for the technique, but skipped both of those seals. Preparing for the lurch, it was unexpectedly easy to respond to-the seals absence barely affected the jutsu performance at all. Zau finished the technique and expelled his mist, and as a final test, tossed a recently lit match into the mist.

The resultant cloud of sapphire blue flame rewarded Zau's efforts. He nodded to himself and again wrote his findings in his notebook. His confidence was growing; he was relatively sure now that he could possibly perform the jutsu in its entirety without handseals, even though it was a significant leap, going from skipping two seals to skipping them all. Still, his confidence was boosted by the recent success, and he made his mind up about it almost immediately.

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Uchiha, Zau
 Posted: Nov 8 2017, 02:03 PM
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Zau stood facing the lake, a look of resolution across his face. He was going to work this technique out today, right now. He opened his notebook, again pouring over the data he had collected. Zau activated his Sharingan, memorizing the notes he wrote down, this time permanently. His eyes would never let him forget-a perfect learning tool. He deactivated his eyes, closed the notebook, and looked out across the lake.

Zau kept his hands at his sides, and instead inhaled deeply. As he did so, he molded the chakra, hitting every high and low seal along the way, exactly as his notes had told him to. Doing it this way was more mentally exhausting, but it was far quicker, and it didn't telegraph his actions quite so much. Zau held the technique for just a moment-just the slightest hesitation. He released it once he received the trigger he was waiting for-the slightly acrid taste of the liquid to be sprayed out.

Zau pushed the mist out of his lungs, propelling the vapor with additional chakra-the lowest seal of the jutsu was what provided that functionality. Zau immediately followed it up by inhaling deeply again, then expelling a massive ball of sapphire flame. When the fireball of Goukakyou met the mist of Kasumi Enbu, the result was a massive wave of flame, reflected brilliantly by the water below. When the flames cleared, steam rose from the surface of the lake, the water heated by Zau's performance. He was not yet finished, however-there was yet one more jutsu Zau needed to remove the handseals from; not the most powerful of his techniques, but one of the more useful-Katon: Kemuridan.

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Uchiha, Zau
 Posted: Nov 13 2017, 02:05 PM
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As with Kasumi Enbu, Zau would initiate this training by actually just using the jutsu itself, no tricks. His hands formed the intricate weavings that were the handseals of this technique; as a weaker class of jutsu, the seals for this were fewer in number, but just as crucial. As his seals concluded, Zau launched a mote of flame from his mouth. The mote struck the water and created a burst of smoke.

Zau watched the smoke dissipate as he considered the ramifications of removing the handseals from this technique. An ever-present method of disguising his Shunshin, for one-and for only a tiny amount of chakra. Zau could conceivably hold the seal for Shunshin, mold the chakra for the smoke bomb, launch the bomb and immediately launch himself. There were other applications too, such as deceiving an enemy with a "clone", only to have Zau burst out of the smoke, Rasenha in hand.

Zau smirked, pulled out his notebook, and took down notes on each of the seals, as he had before. This time, however, Zau outlined a few interesting ways to take advantage of being able to make smoke on command. Practicing these strategies was every bit as important as practicing his jutsu; and who knows, perhaps one of these maneuvers of his would come in handy during the exams?

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Uchiha, Zau
 Posted: Nov 13 2017, 02:40 PM
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As before, the next step was using the jutsu by dropping a single seal at a time. Zau wouldn't need quite as much time as he had before; less seals and less of a complicated technique meant Zau could reasonably drop a seal with much less care than he had taken before. As he performed the jutsu sans a single seal, his suspicions were confirmed; this was going to be considerably easier than what he had been attempting before.

With the seal dropped, Zau felt the same lurch as he had before; this time, however, it was much easier to handle and didn't impact him so severely. Zau performed the seals again, preparing his body for the drop. It hit, but he was better used to the process of adapting for it. The recovery came much easier to him.

Zau stood up and recorded the information in his notes. The better his notes, the easier this technique would come. He smiled as he set his notes aside and got to work on the next seal. With so few seals to finish, he estimated that he could have this technique worked out in just a few minutes; he might even make it home in time for lunch.

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Uchiha, Zau
 Posted: Nov 14 2017, 03:15 AM
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The following step in his training plan was dropping multiple seals at once. Zau picked the two weakest seals-deciding exactly which were the least necessary was actually somewhat difficult-and performed the handseals without those two seals. This time around, the preparation he made for the loss of the seals came naturally to him, such that he didn't feel any negative effects from skipping the seals.

Zau continued with the jutsu, launching the sphere of flame that erupted into smoke as it struck the water. He nodded and again recorded his findings. It was going even better than he had thought before. All he would have to do now was...well, do it.

Zau put his notes aside and stood ready, but hesitated for a moment; this was a momentous occasion; in just a few seconds, Zau's training for the Chuunin exams would be as complete as he could make it. Zau knew that even with all of his work, he would face steep competition in the exams; but even so, this excited him. He wasn't sure who would manage to give him trouble, but if someone managed to even after all this, that would be the best part of all this.

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Uchiha, Zau
 Posted: Nov 14 2017, 03:48 AM
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Zau stood tall (as tall as he could) on the dock, gathered the chakra he needed for the technique, and launched a mote of flame from his mouth, no hands involved at all. The mote struck the water and burst into smoke, creating a small smokescreen on the lake. Zau sighed and picked up his notebook, finishing his notes on the matter.

That was it; that was the last bit of his training before the Chuunin exams. And not a moment too soon-the exams were starting in only a few days. Zau's mastery of his Katon jutsu would doubtlessly assist him in his ventures moving forward. Even so, there was still one significant thing Zau was lacking-his Sharingan was not yet complete. He had been slow in gaining it, and slow in upgrading it as well. Perhaps soon, he would have his eyes mastered as well-but until then, Zau wasn't quite satisfied with his improvement, drastic as it may have been.

Even Zau's Rasenha had been improved, though Zau couldn't say he'd actually tried on that; the technique was simply enhanced by virtue of Zau using it so many times. He couldn't complain though-again, every little bit helped.

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