黒タカ守 (Kurotaka Mamoru)
"Lord Hokage, I do not mean to question your judgement, but I do not feel he is ready; Elite Jounin require skill of the highest calibre. I know he has great potential, but it is just that: potential. His exploits are met with as much disdain as they are praise," Kurotaka replied quickly with a hint of disapproval in his voice. Granted his company, a tone of disapproval would seem rather outrageous; he was speaking to none other than the Hokage. When he was summoned that morning -- only a day before he was to be assigned a team of Genin -- he had assumed it would be about his team, but instead was a personal request of the Hokage himself: to determine whether Ryo Sarutobi, the youthful cousin of Hiruzen himself, was worthy of being an Elite Jounin. Such a rank would put Ryo, over a decade junior to Kurotaka, on his same influential level -- a level he achieved by serving in two World Shinobi Wars and protecting two Hokage. Kurotaka had seen what inexperience and overconfidence had done on the battlefield, and he was not exactly willing to put someone he considered to have both of those qualities in a position were they could cost the lives of others.
"That, Kurotaka, is why I am asking you to personally determine if he is suitable for the rank. I know you would never allow someone you felt could not handle the position to be in it," Sarutobi said, meeting Kurotaka with a rather surprising reply. He then explained, "Most would see Ryo as merely the cousin of the Hokage, destined for greatness, and whose approval would grant them favor with me. You will not. I know you. I know your exploits with the Hokage; I saw firsthand some of them. You will bare down on him and you will make him consider the ramifications of the rank to which he is applying."
There was a moment of pause for Kurotaka. He had not considered this prospect. He did indeed have a reputation for being of the harshest Shinobi in the village; he knew from personal encounters that many viewed him as far too harsh, even on veterans of the Second Shinobi War. A thought did arise, however: to choose himself to test a Shinobi to be an Elite Jounin -- to be a Shinobi that he would put his life in the hands of -- is almost condemning them to failure; did Sarutobi not wish for Ryo to be an Elite Jounin? "I understand, Lord Hokage. I apologize for my previous forwardness. If I am to test him, it will be fair -- as fair was the Shinobi world is, I suppose. If you would, summon Ryo Sarutobi to Training Ground C and a witness at 1400. If he asks, the test will be simple: two questions, and combat."
Sarutobi merely nodded. Men of few words, especially Kurotaka. It was only to men such as Sarutobi Hiruzen, men he had fought for and with, that he truly spoke sincerely to. Kurotaka rose from the plush chair he sat in during his conference, and bowed to Sarutobi, who then bowed back. Kurotaka then left the office, which he considered far too decorative and glamorous for a Shinobi of any calibre. In fairness, much of a Hokage's job was not combat; it was diplomatic. Although the transition was drastic, during peace times such as this, the Hokage was less of a head for the military and more of an idol for his people. Kurotaka spent no time in leaving after he had left sight of the Hokage. Using his honed speed, he shot out of the Hokage's building and into the forest that surrounded the village. If he was to judge Ryo fairly, he felt the next three hours would be best used meditating and plotting out his upcoming choice. The village was indeed left weakened after the last war; more Elite Jounin would be a great prospect, but if he prematurely placed anyone into a rank they could not handle, it could cost lives. As he sat alone, in the shade of a great tree, feeling the breeze that blew on that sunny day, he sat contemplating. Although no one would've seen it, and no one did as he was miles away from the village at this point, he was weighing hundreds of values in his head, and attempting to eliminate personal prejudice. The warm wind that kissed his face was the only warmth Kurotaka felt at the moment.
猿飛亮 (Ryo Sarutobi)
"Tell the Lord Hokage I'll be there."
Ryo said, smiling softly at the sixteen year old Chuunin who stood on the step just below the doorway into his household. The teenager gave the Jounin a small nod, turning on his heel and disappearing off down the busy street. It was roughly midday, and Ryo had been halfway through his lunch when his door had been knocked. "Elite Jounin test, eh?" He mused, making his way through his house back to the kitchen, sitting down at the table and going back to his sushi.
He finished off his lunch, idly running his hand through his shoulder-length brown hair, rising to his feet, plate in hand. He made his way over to the sink, setting down the plate in the basin, turning on the faucet, watching with a slightly bemused expression as the hot water filled up the sink. He turned the tap off after a moment, washing up the plate, and setting it on the draining board. Ryo dried his hands off on a nearby kitchen towel, glancing at the clock that hung above his fridge. "Twelve forty-five." He murmured, leaving his kitchen behind him as he made the way to his bedroom.
Ryo sighed, shaking his head as he started to undress from his casual clothing. He was slightly annoyed about being summoned - today was his first rest day in weeks, and he'd needed a day to relax - what, with meeting his Genin team tomorrow, and having been patrolling the forest around Konohagakure for weeks on end - but, on the other hand, he was excited. If he passed the test, he would have a higher position in the village, and more of a say in important matters - he'd be able to serve his village not only with his body, but with his mind.
It took him about ten minutes to get fully dressed and equipped, but it seemed to be worth it - he looked like a Shinobi should; organized, well-groomed and proud to represent his village. He grinned, tying his hair back behind his head in its customary ponytail, and securing his village headband halfway up his left thigh, as was his custom.
Ryo exited his house at 13:30, having taken some time to relax and prepare himself mentally for the coming test - there could be Genjutsu, after all, and that was Ryo's weakness. He glanced down to his hands, smiling in satisfaction. The burns from using his Kurae Myaku Nagashi no Jutsu had healed completely, meaning he could use it perhaps more than twice - even if it wasn't recommended.
He made his way toward Training Ground C, looking through the people in the streets of Konoha until he found who he was looking for; one of his commanding officers from the Second Shinobi War, a now-retired Jounin, Hiroshi Akiyama. "Hiroshi-sama!" Ryo called, grinning as the grey-bearded man looked around from his stall; he'd opened a fruit stall when he'd retired from being a Shinobi. "Ryo-kun," Hiroshi said, smiling and looking the Jounin up and down. "What brings you to my stall? I thought you'd be busy - I heard you'd be having a team of Genin soon?"
Ryo nodded. "Yes, Hiroshi-sama, I'll be meeting the Genin tomorrow - it's my first team. I fear I won't be able to give them as much attention as they deserve, however, what with my other duties - the Lord Hokage still doesn't have quite enough manpower to patrol the borders effectively, so I have to help out." Ryo paused a moment, before speaking again, "I am here because I have been chosen to become an Elite-Jounin. Would you be my witness?" Ryo's chest threatened to swell with pride as he spoke, but he held down his excitement. Hiroshi nodded, giving a small smile. "Of course, Ryo, I will be glad to be your witness. Just let me close up my stall."
Ten minutes later, Ryo and Hiroshi arrived at Training Ground C, Ryo looking around for who would test him.