Date: October 14, 2016
Kenta and Biwa reaches the Moonwing Clan's village, where Kenta is welcomed as a guest.
"On the Wings of Friendship - A Man Among Insects"
Flower Fruit Valley
The journey to the butterfly village is short in distance, but long in time. Being mainly dominated by flying insects, the jungle has built up its vegetation with no interference from ground mammals. Fortunately, Flowering Fruit Valley really does seem to be the paradise its name implies, and Kenta can crawl through, over, or under the vegetation without any real struggle or danger. The greatest effort required of him comes when he has to climb a ridge covered in ropey vines bearing huge, pink (and deliciously sweet, if Kenta tries some) fruit.
With Biwa as a guide, it's no problem finding the village despite the lush greenery in every direction at every height. After rounding the biggest dogwood tree he's ever seen, Kenta finally gets his first site of the village. Centered around the biggest tree Kenta's seen even in this jungle, the village is woven out of still-living vines into ultra-light buildings that rest on the tree's enormous leaves and flower petals. Tucked beneath some leaves are what look like huge cocoons. Butterflies of all colours, shapes and sizes (including the smaller varieties that Kenta would easily find in his own garden) flutter about in loose groups. "Oh!" says Biwa, "There it is! You just have to fly right—ohhhh… hold on. Well, if you walk along that log, that takes you to that creek, and then you could jump onto that rock and then if you're carefully you can walk on that mossy part…"
Kenta barely even registers Biwa's attempt to find him a human friendly path into the strange village. He's too busy staring in wonder and that's saying something, since everything in the valley itself has been a wonder to the young man. The medic in him makes him want to stop every time they come upon a plant or insect that he's unfamiliar with - again, many of them - to ask about their properties and collect samples where possible. Only the fact that Biwa hasn't been home for over half a year and dearly wants to reach the Moonwing Clan's village forced Kenta to travel at the quick pace that they took.
Kenta does eventually realize that Biwa's talking. "Umm… I've -never- seen a place like this before. Are those dwellings hanging from the trees? The cocoon things. They're not an even bigger species of butterfly undergoing molt, are they? Because a butterfly like that would be big enough for a person to ride on…" The young man clears his throat slightly. "Konoha must seem so mundane to you in comparison…"
"Oh, no, those guys are still pretty small. They aren't even big enough to pupate in the knothole." Biwa apparently misses the point. He gestures upwards to a massive knothole in the tree, probably big enough to hold an entire neighbourhood from Konoha. "Oh, and Konoha was very exciting. I never guessed that humans liked fire so much, but it did keep your home nice and warm. And it let you eat things too, although I never really got how that worked. And you even had butterfly food on hand even though I was the first butterfly visitor you ever had—that's amazing. I never did figure out how humans could just have all the different foods of the world right there…"
Kenta opens his mouth to reply to the knothole comment, but closes it again without saying anything. Maybe Biwa is pulling his leg. No butterfly can grow -that- big, right? "Ummm…" Kenta eventually utters. He rubs at the back of his neck. "I guess human society is kind of strange when you look at it that way too. It doesn't really look like you guys need much fire here and a hidden valley isn't exactly a trading hub." Kenta gets up on tip toes and peers into the distance. The shade of the tree they're standing under makes it easy to see despite the too bright sunlight. "You were saying how we can get there? Well… how I can get there I mean. It looks a bit hard."
"Oh," says Biwa, "But we trade with the bees. We give them pollen and they give us watermelons and oranges. And they squish them for us too, so we can drink the juice." He lands on the log he first pointed out to Kenta. "Oh, it won't be too hard," he says, "You climbed up through those vines with no problem. Oh, but if you're tired, I can find someone to carry you. A birdwing could just carry you right over to the village."
Kenta squints up at the sky. "Umm… I'll leave the flying for later. The only time I've ever gone flying is when I'm a sparrow… or a hawk… or any other bird I manage to find to practice with. I don't think that I want to physically be that high up right now." The young man fidgets at the thought of plummeting from the sky. "Ok, here goes…"
Kenta hops onto the log that Biwa pointed out and starts to walk across it. A bit of chakra emitted from the soles of his feet gives him better purchase on the slightly crumbly surface. When he reaches the creek, he gathers his strength and jumps over to the rock, mindful not to get wet. If Biwa tells him to jump instead of water walk, there must be something about the creek that might not be too healthy for him. His arms windmill for a second before he manages to right himself. Kenta lets out a breath and hops onto the mossy ground beyond.
"You can turn into a bird?" Biwa asks. "I had no idea humans could do that." He flutters nearby in the air as Kenta starts walking towards the village, pointing out any hazards for him to watch out for. When Kenta hops onto the rock, he suddenly catches a sweet, floral scent. The water is actually nectar, which has slowly dripped from the giant flowers in the village, run together, and formed the slowly flowing creek.
The swooshing of Biwa's wings is joined by a similar sound from the direction of the village. A yellow swallowtail slightly larger than Biwa has fluttered out to see what's going on. "Biwa!" The voice is feminine. "Biwa! We haven't seen you in seasons! Where have you been?" She looks over at Kenta. "Oh," he says, "You brought someone else. I think I know this animal… you're a Guinea pig, aren't you?"
Kenta bends to inspect the stream as soon as he detects the sweet smell. "Oh! How interesting! Do you drink this? Does it have any useful properties?" the young man asks, unable to keep his curiosity from asserting itself. He reaches towards a belt pouch for an empty vial, but is interrupted by the arrival of the swallow tale. He slowly straightens up without getting a sample of the nectar. Kenta looks at Biwa with uncertainty. How do you introduce yourself to a race of giant butterflies living in a secluded valley that have never seen the outside world and thinks that you're a guinea pig? "Ummm…"
"I could drink it," says Biwa, "Well, I could eat it, since it's food. But it's been on the ground…" The swallowtail lands on a nearby boulder. "Oh, it's making some kind of humming sound. Do you know its language, Biwa?" Biwa shakes his head. "No, it's—er, he's a human. He talks just like us… but he just says that a lot. Kenta, this is my friend Shamisen." A number of other butterflies have fluttered into the area and whisper among themselves. "Oh, an ostrich!"
"Everyone!" Biwa raises his voice so that they can all hear him. "This is Kenta, and he's a human. He saved me and helped me find my way home." The butterflies start to whisper amongst themselves.
Kenta fidgets nervously as more and more butterflies starts gathering around. "Ummm…. ummm… ummm…" he utters, unable to stop himself. There's just too many staring eyes. The eyes are rather huge and lidless, so the staring is extra hard to miss too. "Umm… hello… It's very nice to meet all of you. I'm from the Land of Fire, beyond this valley to the…" Kenta then realizes that he actually has no idea where the Land of Fire is in relation to Flower Fruit Valley, since the method of traveling between the two places is peculiar. His face starts taking on a red flush from embarrassment and the overload of attention. Even though Biwa is smaller than him, Kenta tries to hide behind the butterfly. Now he knows why Biwa hide inside his home for the first two months of living in Konoha.
"Oh my!" says Shamisen. "His speech is so… nuanced! Humans have such interesting customs." She hops off the boulder and flutters a little close to Kenta, then lands on the ground and lowers her front in a sort of bow. "Forgive us for our rudeness, we don't understand your ways yet. But since you have saved the monarch's offspring, we can surely offer you our hospitality." There's a short pause, then, "…unless, do humans not like hospitality? Do you want us to tell you to leave?"
"Oh!" Kenta stared at Biwa's back. It had never came up in any conversation that Biwa's the son of the clan leader. This makes the young man feel even more uncomfortable, especially since all the attention that he's getting take on yet another extra layer of meaning. He scuffs his feet on the mossy ground, creating some discolored patches on the otherwise uniform carpet of brownish green.
"Ummm… it's very kind of you to welcome me to your fair village, Shamisen-san. I'd love to stay here a while and learn your ways, but I'm afraid that it couldn't be for -too- long." Kenta sucks in a breath and straightens his back to look over Biwa's antennae. "Umm… I'm a medic-nin of Konoha and I have an obligation to return as soon as I can to resume my duties there… as soon as I figure out how I'd get pass that huge nest of manticore flies on the other side of the tree…."
"Oh," says one butterfly, "So they /don't/ like hospitality!" A crimson rose butterfly skitters forward out of the crowd. "Manticore flies!" This one has a feminine voice as well. "Biwa, why didn't you say you'd fought your way here? I could tell from looking at him that he was a very powerful human. Obviously one of their greatest warriors. We should take him before your mother for some kind of reward."
"Oh, no no! I didn't mean that we don't like hospitality! I just meant that I can't stay for more than a few days because of my responsibilities. Umm… I work at a hospital and I take care of Atsuro-senpai's paperwork and I train new medical students and go on missions and… umm… lots of stuff…" Kenta says, his voice trailing off when he realizes that he's starting to blabber. The young man's face turns red again. He looks from butterfly to butterfly in an almost despairing manner. "I'm also not really a great warrior of any kind. We just got past those things using a henge. Umm… Biwa did all the work once we got to the tree. All I did at that point was create seal barriers and used wind jutsu to fend off those things."
"He was amazing," says Biwa, "They outnumbered us by like fifty and they kept coming, but he kept knocking them back!" Amazed whispers are exchanged among the butterflies. "A hospital?" repeats the crimson rose, "I know about those. Those are where humans get cut open to make them stronger. And you work in one, truly?" She doesn't give Kenta time to answer and instead turns around to face the crowd. "Everyone! Inform the monarch that the great Kenta the Fierce has returned one of ours. And gather our finest nectars for a feast!" The butterflies all scatter and fly off, leaving Kenta alone with Biwa once again. "Oh," he says, "I guess we'd better get into the village!"
"Umm… Kenta the Fierce?" Kenta tentatively utters from behind Biwa while he watches all of his friend's kin scatter in different directions to spread the news. "They're not really going to tell everyone something like that, are they? It's going to give your clan a completely inaccurate representation of things." The young man worries at his bottom lip for a moment. "Maybe it wasn't such a good idea for me to come here with you. I didn't want to cause a disturbance in your clan's lives. Ummm… I mean, I could have just stayed on the other side of the tree until the passage closed again. I bet the manticore flies wouldn't have followed me for too long if I made myself invisible and fled."
"Oh!" says Biwa, "But you fought so well! I've never seen anybody do anything like that. I mean, we can fight the manticore flies with our light chakra, but seeing one person fight them, like 'vwa!' 'boom!' 'wham!'" His wings flitter. "I bet even the best of us would be totally blown away." He shakes his head. "Oh, and we have to have you. Mom'll want to meet you for sure. And you've been so nice to me all this time. I'm sure we can make somewhere for a human to sleep, and we'll gather up fruit for you." He turns in the direction of the village. "Come on, this way!"
Despite getting increasingly nervous about entering a situation that's so outside the norm for him, Kenta couldn't really do much except follow along. There's no heading back to the moonflower tree without one of the butterflies going with him to reopen the passage. The manticore flies on the other end are probably also on high alert, so something planning needs to be done for that too. At the very least, staying a few days means he'll get to study the incredible fauna and flora of this secluded valley.
As they reach the base of the tree, a butterfly with wings that look almost exactly like leaves flutters down from higher up. "Mighty Kenta," he says, "We are not familiar with the ways of humans, and we can offer you only this meagre home while you stay with us. We can only hope that it is sufficient, and that you will forgive us for this poor offering." He gestures upwards to the lowest branch on the tree (which is still fairly high up, but not out of tree-walking distance), where one of the huge leaves has a small dome of silk with a hole to enter through.
"It's just Kenta," the medic-nin quickly replies. He bows to the butterfly that greeted them and also offers a tentative smile when he straightens up. "Umm… I'm sure that anything provided to me will be a wonderful experience. I've never been to a village built by butterflies before this, so the novelty alone is enough. I also feel honored that I'm the first human to visit this place in…" Kenta glances at Biwa. He doesn't remember if his friend ever mentioned when that was. "…ummm… in a long time."
Biwa avoids Kenta's gaze. Looks like he doesn't know either. "Your humbleness humbles us," says the leaf-wing. "Rest assured that we will provide you with the finest of our food. We also understand that humans sleep on soft things called beds, and we are sure that we can build an imitation nearly worthy of a hero of your stature." Biwa adds, "Oh, bring him water and a white rock. Humans like to sit in water and rub themselves with a white rock."
"White… oh! Umm… no need. I have some of that with me in my backpack," Kenta says. He hooks his thumbs into the straps of his pack and jiggles it a little bit to bring the container to the leaf-wing's attention. "Umm… you don't need to worry about the bed too. I'm sure that I can just rest on the… floor?… of that cocoon. I'm not a hero or anything at all. That's for the likes to Atsuro-senpai and Hokage-sama…" Kenta squints up at the silken dome up above. The young man places a foot on the trunk of the enormous tree to test whether this peculiar specimen have any properties that disrupt tree walking. He starts walking upwards when he discovers that it's safe to do so.
The tree is safe to walk up and doesn't offer any special obstacles. "Oh, I see," says Biwa, "You like it so much you brought it with you, even though you didn't know if you'd be getting water at all." He starts to flutter back and forth, matching Kenta's height as the human starts up the trunk. "There are people even greater than you?" leaf-wing asks, "They must be beyond description. I must speak to the others so we can prepare your lodgings." He flaps off to Kenta's guest house and disappears into the entrance. "You're so modest," says Biwa.
Kenta blinks at Biwa. "What do you mean? I was just telling the truth," he replies in a puzzled voice. All his practice treewalking comes in handy, since the young man makes it to the entrance of the guest house in good time. It's still much slower than flying, but there's only so much that even a shinobi can do in this situation. Kenta doesn't enter right away. Instead, he fingers the material that makes up the outer walls of the cocoon house and inspects how it's anchored to the tree. Only then does he stick his head inside the entrance to look within.
"Oh, but you're so great and you say you aren't," says Biwa, "And I think some of the humans back in Konoha were saying that you're modest too, so…" Once Kenta gets close enough, he flies up and alights on the surface of the leaf. The leaf actually proves quiet easy to walk onso much so that Kenta can probably manage it without the assistance of chakra. It's even big enough that Kenta's steps don't move its mass around much, so it's actually quite stable. The cocoon is stuck to the leaf by a pale yellow substanceprobably sap, based on the resinous scent.
The interior of the dome is indeed rather modest. A half dozen butterflies are standing inside, waiting for Kenta to show up. Two have prepared a giant pile of fruit for him to eat (some exotic and unknown to Kenta, others totally familiar) and placed them on a smaller giant leaf. Two more have woven a bed out of silk, and the remaining two have found a dried, curled up leaf with no holes in it and filled it with water. Everything Kenta needs to stay the night.
"Oh!" Kenta exclaims upon entering his lodgings. "This is amazing! Thank all of you so much for doing this for me. It's more than I deserve," the young man continues. The young man bows deeply to all the butterflies that helped set things up for him. Kenta takes in everything inside the cocoon with wide eyes once he straightens. Even though it's relatively modest, there's still plenty of interesting new things for Kenta to see. For one thing, he's already planning which fruits to put aside, so that he can do some quick analysis on their medicinal and nutritional properties.
"Her majesty would be mortified if we did anything less for you," says leaf-wing, "We want you to be very happy when the monarch sees you tomorrow. If you are not well-rested and fed, she will be so disappointed!" The butterflies lower themselves to the floor in a sort of bow. "Please, if there is anything at all we can provide for you, tell us. We will satisfy you no matter what."