The Second Test!!

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"..." April stared at the ominous forest before them in awe. The trees were almost as massive as giant redwoods, except with more branches along the trunks. The only thing separating them from the woods was a tall chainlink fence, which she noticed had been sealed shut with chains, several padlocks, and a paper charm. The sign next to the locks said: "Danger! Stay out!"

Naruto gulped. It looked really eerie back there.

"Welcome to the stage for the second test, Practice Area 44," Anko told them. "Also known as... 'The Forest of Death!!'"

'Something tells me that name is meant to be literal...' April thought, a bead of sweat sliding down her face, while she tried to peer into the darkness waiting beyond the first line of trees. 'I've got a bad feeling about this place...'

"..." Naruto held a hand up to shield his eyes, squinting a little, while he also gazed into the deep forest with beads of nervous sweat forming on his brow.

"... This is creepy..." Sakura said nervously, clenching her hands together.

"Agreed," April said with a straight face.

Sasuke frowned slightly.

"Bah. You'll soon find out... why it's called the 'Forest of Death,'" Anko said, flashing them a wicked smirk.

'I'd really rather not,' April thought. It was pretty obvious that it was because people died in there.

Naruto snorted. "You'll soon find out... why it's called the Forest of Death," he mocked in girly voice, adopting a funny pose. "You think that scares me?!!" he shouted, pointing a finger at her. "That's nothing!!! I'm not afraid!!!"

"Yeah..." Anko said with a smile. "You're spirited.

"!" April tensed when she sensed the malice behind it, and she was already moving to pull Naruto out of the way the instant the older woman drew her kunai.

"!" Naruto gasped, eyes widening, when he felt himself being tugged a fraction of an inch aside, just enough to allow the kunai that had been thrown to fly harmlessly past his face.

The expression on the face of the grass ninja behind them darkened when the kunai sheared through a strand of his hair.

'Here she comes...!' April thought, narrowing her eyes, when Anko disappeared from view.

"!!" Naruto gasped again when the crazy examiner suddenly appeared right behind them.

"You... Are you trying to make me look bad...?" Anko asked April sternly, annoyed that she had moved Naruto out of harm's way subtly enough to make it look as though her attack had simply missed to untrained eyes. Even she had trouble catching it. "Because of you, I didn't get to see that red blood I love... Oh well, kids like you two are quickly killed in places like this... hehehe... I'll get to see your blood spraying then..." she told them, making Naruto shudder.

"..." April stared at the bloodthirsty ninja out the corner of her eye with a bead of sweat rolling down the side of her face. She never thought she'd begin to miss Ibiki. At least he hadn't been out for blood...

'April should have been able to read that speed... Why is she just standing there?' Sasuke wondered with a frown. It didn't immediately occur to him that, while it was true that she could have evaded without a problem, that would have meant showing off, and April was making an effort to display as little of her skills as possible in front of the other examinees, which was also why she hadn't used a flashier method to counter the kunai thrown at Naruto.

'I don't know what this test will entail, but it's always better to have the element of surprise on your side...' April thought, furrowing her brow slightly at the uncomfortable position she was in. She didn't think they would actually be killed, but it was still unnerving to be attacked directly by an examiner. Weren't they supposed to be the ones who stopped this sort of thing?

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