Through a rather thick section of forest traveled a single traveler, a white haired young man with bright blue eyes whom wore a pair of dark cloth pants and a white kimono-like robe was walking at a casual pace as he reached up to his shoulder to adjust the strap that ran diagonal across his body that held a decent sized scroll across his lower back. The former Suna-nin had a single destination in mind on this early morning as the sun was already a few fingers above the horizon to the east though it was hard to get a clear image of the burning ball due to the thickness of the canopy that stretched for as far as he could see from his position upon the ground. That destination was a specific cave that was located in the northern region and about twenty kilometers from the capital city. Zao had heard through rumors that this cavern system contained a strange formation that once a user entered they would have their hearts and mind tested by an unknown force that would only continue to grow stronger and stronger as those who entered journeyed deeper into the cave. From his own bit of research with the limited resources that were available to him in the small country he was able to determine that their was indeed a rather mysterious cavern located in the region but that was all the official information that could be found in text.
As an adventurer and seeker of knowledge and the unknown this tidbit of information was enough for the man to take a few days away from the festival to follow up on the lead he had been given. Moving at a normal speed for a shinobi it truly only took a short while to cover the gap between himself and the cavern before he would finally arrive at the foot of a mountain range that stretched as far as one could see to his left and right. Mentally the man recalled the details of a topographical map he had brought with him with the marked location of his destination before looking toward the eastern end of the range. There he could see a series of fingers and draws that were particularly offset from the mountain's terrain and with a step he moved using about sixty percent of his actual speed to push through the still thick forest area at the foot of the range skirting around the foot of the range as he approached the abnormal series of terrain formations. It was within the second draw upon this mountain side that the small opening in the rock face could be see, it was only about three meters wide and four meters tall but the shrubbery and vegetation growing on it actually was close to hiding it completely from view.
Forming a single hand seal the man activated his mind's eye and expanded his senses out to fifty meters now and slowed his approach to that of a simple walk. As he began to near the cave's entrance he was able to detect hints of chakra that seemed to wisp back and forth through the air as if they were coming from within the darkness but it was then that something odd happened. No matter how close he go to the cave his sensory technique was unable to penetrate inside the cave as if something was actually shielding the cave from being probed. This alone caused the man to raise an eyebrow and after a few moment he was standing right at the opening staring into the darkness. Having prepared for this though he pulled out a scroll and from the fuuin inside the man withdrew a lantern which he lit and held in his left hand letting the soft yellow glow illuminate the interior of the entrance way now. Nothing appeared out of place, strange, or even unique about the cave itself as the interior seemed to run back into the mountain side for some way. Though as soon as he made his first step into the cavern a sudden feeling of being watched washed over him and what sounded like ghostly whispers began to assault his psyche gently.
'This is an illusion?!'
Indeed it was an illusion, though whom or what ever was creating the illusion could not be identified as the man walked in a few more meters the illusionary technique started to become stronger to the point that he could hardly hear himself think at which point the young man used the 'Kai' ability to release himself from the technique. It was obvious that the technique itself was a rather low leveled version illusion and thus was easily dispelled even by the somewhat limited skill that Zao had in the art of genjutsu. Shaking his head lightly the man allowed for himself to recover for a few moments now as he brought the lantern up and scanned his surrounded looking for anything from strange objects to fuuin inscriptions that could have been the source powering the illusion. Yet, after about a minute of searching and moving deeper into the cave nothing could be found and now the young man was deep enough into the cave that he was unable to see the light from its entrance opening. Slightly perplexed about this strange cavern the former Suna-nin began to once more slowly push deeper into the rocky tunnel which came to a fork about thirty meters in. Each appeared to be the same and after a few moment the man simply went to the right now and after taking a few steps into this tunnel the bright blue eyes widened as he suddenly found himself completely surrounded by a ring of fire that at first was only a few feet tall but it quickly cut off any avenue of escape from it.
'Is this real or another illusion?'
He could feel the heat as the barrier began to shrink and he acted quickly forming a short series of hand seals before then forming a barrier of blue chakra around himself but to his surprise not only did the first push straight through the barrier but it then touched his clothing causing them to instantly burst into flames as he felt like his body was completely on fire....
[1049/2500 Words Genjutsu training]
As the fire began to envelop him the man tried to pat the fire away and even pulled out a small tag that directly resembled an explosive tag before activating it as the first continued to burn at the skin of his lower legs and creep upwards. The explosion was smaller than a normal explosive tag but in return a wave of water encompassed the young man pushing him back slightly but the flames weren't phased in the least. The pain and these flames couldn't be realm no matter how real they actually felt upon his skin. It took a moment to clear his mind enough to form the single hand seal and then disrupt the flow of chakra within his mind just as the fire was about to creep up past his thighs and onto some rather sensitive areas now as the man was forced to close his eyes in the process in order to focus.
Zao shouted out the single word as his chakra was disrupted and broke through the illusionary technique that his mind had fallen under and the pain immediately left his mind and after a few moments a set of bright blue eyes once more opened up and scanned the dimly lit area around him as the torch was flickering on the ground a few feet of ahead of him which he had dropped it attempting to put out the fire. Water dripped from his clothing but thankfully the wave had been sent in his direction and not toward the torch or he would have been in a pitch black abyss, shaking his head the man looked cautiously left and right before reaching down to feel that everything was where it was suppose to be. Then taking a few steps back he tried his best to wring out the soaked articles of clothing before then moving to pick up the torch and hold it back out in front of him once more trying to find some form of marking or such that was the source of these illusions.
'Vision of Spirits...'
Setting the torch briefly down on a nearby rock that was about a meter high and two meters across the man then formed a short series of hand seals now, feeling that something perhaps on the spiritual level was a foot and the cause of this strange sensation. Though their was not a physical change in the young man's eyes he pushed tenku chakra into his eyes allowing for him to see the chakra of spirits or objects imbued with spirits now. Faintly at the end of the hallways he had been walking in was a shapeless mass that seemed to understand that the scholar could actually see it now and giving a ghostly smile it fled away as a smaller spirit mass was actually behind it had revealed itself for just a moment before fleeing deeper into the tunnel and out of sight.
'So their were two of them and two illusions. Does that mean that each illusion was caused by each of them, like some sort of test or perhaps a bit of fun on their part to mess with and/or trick those who try to explore this cave system. But my question would have to be why...'
Their were a few thoughts and ideas floating around inside the white haired man's head now as he watched the pair of spirits flee from sight now. In the realms of spirits, size often determined the strength of the spirit and judging from these two they were most likely in the E to C range of rankings. But for them to just be randomly within this cave and for each of them to possess illusionary powers or techniques was a little bit to much of a coincidence. But what truly perplexed the young man was that if this was just the beginning of the cave and things continued to progress in the same manner then his skills in genjutsu would definitely not be able to keep up past probably a B-ranked spirit skilled in illusions. One not only had to ponder on if their skills in illusionary defense would be able to keep up but what would happen if they couldn't? It was easy for anyone to be able to kill another who had fallen completely into a genjutsu, even if it was only for a few seconds.
"I've already came this far, I can't just turn back after just this..."
With renewed determination the young man started once more to walk forward after collecting the torch and keeping his 'vision of spirits' active for the time being as he moved from the tunnel into what seemed like a hand carved room where a large spirit mass in the rough shape of a fox could be see. It smiled at him a with rows of teeth before suddenly the man felt himself walking backwards as he was trying to continue moving forward which instantly confused him. Had he already been caught in an illusion? As he attempted to lift his hand with the torch he lowered it instead causing him to strike a rock and drop the torch...everything was backwards for him now. It took a good amount of time to understand the depth of this illusion before he was finally able to break free from it as the fox actually let out a audible laugh at the young man before bounding away into the darkness.
'That little prick...'
Snatching up the torch he immediately gave chase to the pesky spirit with plans on giving him a little lesson himself with his own Tenku techniques now as he rounded the corner to discover another carved out room that actually radiated the soft glow of a yellow light. Entering the room a few moments later the glow was found easily as its source was a cat shaped spirit that turned its golden eyes onto the young man giving him a somewhat approving low before its gaze sharped and the room around Zao seemed to start slipping away into darkness. Even the light from his own torch was sucked away as he was pulled into pure darkness which then began to bore into his mind...no matter how hard he tried to dispel the attack upon his psyche it seemed to far above his own skill and after only a few minutes of being trapped within the illusion the man finally lost consciousness. An undetermined amount of time passed as the former Suna-nin awoke with a startling jerk as he brought his arms up in a defensive manner only to find himself outside the opening of the cave he had just been within unsure how he got outside. Shaking his head the man checked himself to find no wounds nor anything missing from his person...sighing and feeling defeated but lucky to be alive and unharmed the man wouldn't push the search and exploration of this cave any further for the time being. Perhaps after he strengthened his genjutsu he would return and attempt to discover what laid at the end of this cave...
[1178 + 1049 = 2227 Words]
[2000/2000 Genjutsu Training = +2 Genjutsu]