Back in the Nara forest, his physical body fueled by an excellently crafted protein shake and spirit reignited by watching an episode of his favorite Soap, Tousha stretched his shoulders and neck. He was nervous. Probably more nervous than he needed to be, considering the low stakes environment. This was just a training day and he was nestled well deep in arguably one of the safest places in the Hidden Leaf. But still, he could feel a misplaced anxiety peppering his movements.
Hopefully today would be the day. The day he could perfect a technique that, despite a good deal of training, wasn't combat ready. Not quite yet. Other Shinobi may have considered it more than ready, but Tousha favored himself something of an artist and no one was a harsher critic of his work than himself. In all honesty the Bannin had very rarely taken pleasure in the brutality of his work, in the bloodshed of combat. But even from a young age the Shinobi had appreciated the beauty of the Ninja Arts.
Breathing the perfect ball of fire, calling the wind to his fingertips, shaping the earth itself... He could fall into all of it, lose himself in the sensation.
Nara jutsu were no different, but they had a distinct "flavor" all their own. It was an odd mix of elemental and vanilla Ninjutsu wrapped up in one, stretchy package. He appreciated the flexibility because it reminded the Kage of himself in many ways. But what he loved the most was the contrast of its lines. He had spent countless hours, just trying to perfect how his shadows looked
. The crispness of the lines, the smooth, sloping movements, all of it. And in that attention to detail, the pursuit of aesthetic perfection, Tousha had found his obsession.
It was unfortunate that the results of his passion were bloodier than he'd like, but something something beauty is pain.
The Nara standing in the clearing shook his right shoulder, then his left, and let out a long, measured breath. It was time to put his training to the test, to see if he could really control chakra half as well as he was known for. The man's feet slid slowly, casually, through the grass as he settled into a stable stance. His hands floated up and down in tandem with the breathing that swelled and hollowed his chest. The Kage closed his eyes and let his body grow still, exhaling slowly through pursed lips.
The chakra grew in his stomach. Small at first, but growing with a practiced speed. He barely noticed the effort anymore, barely noticed himself. The man fell into the chakra, a well of unknown depths. There he could mold it to his liking. Tousha began with a circle, as he often did. Though his real hands remained still the hands of his mind went to work. They grasped the chakra and rounded its edges, smoothed its wrinkles. In no time the chakra was an orb, perfect in its simplicity.
This was a Chakra Control training exercise his Sensei had taught him. Though his teacher wasn't of the Nara clan, he had used this method of gathering and shaping chakra in every facet of his life as a Shinobi. And, considering how precious little chakra Tousha had been born with, the boy came to realize how important control was. Brute strength and sheer volume had their places in the multi-faceted tapestry that was Shinobi combat, but true mastery resided in the subtleties, the nuances. The things so many too easily missed.
This is where Tousha lived. This is where Tousha flourished.
Tousha's real hands splayed, his fingers going taught and straight. Another breath, another exhale. The chakra in his stomach expanded, urged outward in every direction at the center like an explosion. This expansion was measured and almost patient, however. It did not urge itself too far too quickly. To do so would tarnish the construction of the whole, if even a single particle was out of place. The Bannin could feel the chakra expand outward, well beyond the limits of his stomach. The fibers of his muscles, the tendons connecting the fibers to bone, even his skin, all of it breathed with purpose and life. The feeling was exhilarating, even after nearly forty years. In that sensation the Nara found purpose and meaning, and he let that passion fuel the chakra as it spread.
The building chakra resonating in Tousha's physical body was allowed to drop into his shadow. It flowed like water through his feet before seeping into the shadow, saturating and darkening the silhouette. He allowed the shadow to retain its natural shape, though its blackness quickly became unnatural, darker than any shadow nature would allow. The sheer amount of chakra on top of its density, compounded and compact by Tousha's unrivaled control, had turned the Kage's shadow into an abyss. It would be several moments before the man was content with the amount of chakra he'd gathered. A single bead of sweat lazily rolled down the pale skin that comprised his formless expression.
Slowly, cautiously, Tousha's shadow expanded. His silhouette disappeared into a perfectly rounded disc that stretched out in every direction with the Kage standing in its epicenter. The shadow's darkness remained apparent and unchanged despite the technique's rapidly growing surface area. This technique, unlike other Nara jutsu, would require anyone caught in its grasp to fight for bodily control individually. Normally if multiple opponents are caught by a shadow jutsu their collective strength was added together to break free, making it incredibly difficult for a user to contain more than one or two targets at a time. But with time, and a lot of failure, Tousha had devised a method to remove this limitation from his clan's infamous technique.
The answer was as simple as it was daunting: pump out enough chakra with enough control to make every bit of the shadow's surface area independent.
The best way he could think to explain it was to compare it to string, or rope. Most Nara jutsu could be compared to a single length of rope, or multiple single lengths of rope. If a single rope was used to tie someone down only that individual's strength was taken into account to break free. However, if that individual had the help of another person to break free their combined effort was tested against the rope's sturdiness. It doesn't take a skilled mathematician to realize the odds are going to quickly stack up against the rope.
But what if the rope wasn't a rope? What if it was actually thousands of ropes, even millions, disguised as a single thread? The task of weaving those ropes into what looked like a single, cohesive object would be challenging to say the least, but it seemed possible. The trick was to be able to construct something so complex in an amount of time that didn't leave the constructor vulnerable for a sizeable amount of time. And this was the conflict Tousha had run into time and time again. Sure, he could construct something infinitely complex with his level of chakra molding capabilities, but the question was how quickly could he pull it off?
Oftentimes the answer was not quickly enough. But today, as Tousha allowed his shadow to grow, thousands upon thousands of layers of chakra stitched itself together with wondrous speed. First five meters, then ten. Everything was going better than expected, but doubt still itched at the back of the Kage's mind. His hesitation seemed to effect the technique as it reached 15 meters, where the perfectly round edges of the shadow wavered and shuddered nervously. The man's brow furrowed with effort, urging the chakra forward. But even the smallest hint of uncertainty, a single seed of doubt, was more than enough to wilt a garden of concentration.
As if that single wrinkle in the man's expression shattered his mask of focus, the shadow collapsed into itself. Tousha fell to a knee, his forehead slick with sweat and his body wracked with the labored breathing unfitting a man who had only been standing in place. The amount of effort it took to stretch such a complex technique so far, so quickly, even to a Shinobi of his caliber it seemed like an impossible feat. He tried so hard to not let the disappointment overwhelm him, but Tousha couldn't help but catch a taste of it.
"Inside we are infinite."
His master's favorite line couldn't be suppressed. In so few words he had built the foundation for everything the Kage stood for, on which he believed a better world could be built. The world would never be perfect but the people living in it were too easy to allow the negativity affect who they were and what they were capable of. Despite everything that happened to him, despite the violent world he was thrown into, Tousha's Sensei never visibly allowed those frustrations to sully who he was to his core.
The Kage smiled, a thin, humorless line of somber determination and understanding. He found his feet once more, shifting his stance wide to promote balance and solidity. Again the Kage breathed in, breathed out, and tried to find his center. For minutes the man remained motionless, urging his wounded and nervous ego to grow calm. The complexity of the technique shouldn't affect his mastery over the chakra, if he could weave the strands over a square inch he should be able to manage more. Much more. The amount of chakra he needed to expend was feasible, he was ready to put in the effort. He'd already done so, and more.
"Inside I am infinite."
Tousha started from the ground up, or in this case from the belly down. Again the Bannin molded the chakra residing within him, again he shaped it to his liking and it bent to his will. Not forcefully like a smith fighting steel, each movement a labor met with resistance. No, Tousha refused to shape the chakra into something it didn't want it to be. Instead the Nara chose to allow the chakra to become what it was supposed to be, naturally and gently. Again the chakra found itself saturating the Bannin's shadow, and again the darkness of his silhouette was engulfed in a perfectly round disc darker than even the darkest, starless night could muster.
Motionless, his expression etched by the chisel of effortless determination, Tousha willed his shadow to expand. Thousands of threads surged forward across the clearing's grass in one, unified movement like floodwaters overtaking a forest. To the naked eye the shadow appeared whole, concrete, but that was far from the truth. This technique was like a blanket, porous but strong thanks to the effort of thousands of threads that became much more than the sum of its parts. The shadow stretched out five meters, then ten, not seeming to even stumble as it spread. At fifteen meters the shadow slowed, but Tousha pushed past his limitations. Inside, his limitations were a construction built on the faulty foundations of the limits the world forced upon him.
Those limitations were not who he was, and they would not decide who he wanted to be.
With massive effort the Kage pushed his hands out and the shadow knifed forward in turn, now faster than ever. Twenty meters, twenty five, the shadow expanded with a hunger. Finally at thirty meters the shadow halted, its outline a perfect disk of roiling darkness that threatened to swallow everything it touched. Tousha maintained its shape, straining under the effort to control such an intricate, powerful blanket of shadows. He didn't know how long he could hold its shape, but he needed to try. This was the first time he'd got this far, and he wasn't about to let the bad habit that was his self doubt ruin things now.
After what felt like hours the Nara buckled, and the shadow rushed back to him like a worried friend. The darkness once again comfortably melded into his silhouette before the Kage collapsed to the ground. The man rolled onto his back, a single hand resting on his forehead. Through labored breaths he smiled, wide and pure. The satisfaction of progressing another step, of solving another puzzle, it was the only thing more exhilarating than using chakra itself.
The Kage laughed openly and honestly, alone in that clearing. He laughed like a child and felt all the better for it.
Prerequisites: 45 Ninjutsu, 50 Control, [b]Advanced Shadow Imitation[/b], [b]Shadow Zone[/b]
Rather than relying on hand seals the user will channel chakra and expand his shadow at a Speed of 40 in every direction up to a distance equal to his Shadow Control range, attempting to connect it to any opponent's shadow within that range. If contact is made the user and all opponents will be linked together in movement so that everything the user does is mimicked by the targets. If multiple opponents are caught within the technique's radius their stats are not added together to combat the Strength required to break free, instead they must attempt to overpower the shadows independently. A Strength of 50 is required to break the hold between this technique and their own shadow, though if they remain within the technique's radius their movement is hindered drastically. The user may maintain this field of effect for up to 5 posts, even while moving, before additional chakra is required.