Date: September 23, 2010
Two Okumo meet; one a favored in the clan and the other one who'd been forced to leave, and both the same age.
"A Meeting of Beginnings"
The Dark Caverns of Kirigakure
Puchi was growing and despite her disability, she was becoming more curious. She knew this was her home, this oasis, away from Kirigakure and the dangers of the Okumo. However, despite her bond with her colony, she missed her mother when she was away. The child, was becoming more and more independent about it too. Having ventured into the cave that separated the oasis from the main parts of Kirigakure.
The girl herself, had climbed up the wall and was dangling from some webbing from a stalactite that hung from the ceiling. The child's pigtails dangling down in the dark under her as she sat in the stillness of the pitch black cavern, waiting, anticipating, her mother to arrive.
Meruin sat upon a silken ledge high up against the ceiling of the caverns, eyes closed. The eight year old's breathing was deep and steady, his pale form quiet and still. Every once in a while, his hair would give a slight twitch in one direction, as though it were an animal responding to its dreams. He lay in something of a meditative repose, feeling at home here in the dark caverns more so than he would anywhere else. The sounds, the smells, the sheer presence of the play. And yet, some disturbance crept into the edges of his mind. Another sound, another smell, perhaps.
As she dangled upside down, the young Puchi began rocking her head back and forth. The motion made her whole body swing slightly on the webbing that Puchi clung to. As she swung, she sung in her almost toddler like voice, "Ma ma ma mum ma ma ma." The song was more just repeating those words with only alterations in pitch and is characteristic of those with communication deficiencies. Suddenly, the song ended and the girl stopped moving. "Mama!" she called out with an enthusiastic voice, dropping from the rope and scurrying towards Meruin, however as she got into scent range she skidded to a stop and leapt backwards. "Not Mama!" she said forcefully.
Meruin slowly drew himself from his meditations, following the sounds of Puchi's song from the depths of his mind to the the world around him. His eyes snapped open at the girl's vehement words and he looked at her, not feeling the most threatened but still wary, dread to underestimate another. "No," he agreed after a short pause. "Who are you? Why come so far from the village for play?"
Puchi remained somewhat expressionless for a moment, then smiled. "Me Puchi!" she exclaimed before turning towards the wall and scurrying back up it, finding her webbing and then dangling waiting again. "Me no play. Me see mama!" she said happily. Slipping out of the webbing and then swinging amongst it like a monkey. "Who you, Not Mama?" she asked casually, her speaking ability sounding more like a toddler than someone who should just be about to enter the Ninja Academy.
Meruin paused, eyes lagging a second behind as they pierced the darkness of the caverns, following faint senses of motion, mainly. He was curious about this girl who sounded as she did, who seemed… less than proficient and yet was allowed to live to this age. To his age. She seemed nice enough, he decided. He decided to answer her question, knowing that would change that fact. "I am Meruin," he said finally.
"Mur Win?" She said, probably not even coming close to the proper enunciation of the name. "Nice meet you." She said with a smile, moving through the webbing towards him. "You village?" she asked, despite her eyes seeming to stare off into nothing in the blackness, she was very close to him as she asked. "Me no village, me there." She said, pointing towards the woods were it wasn't too far to another oasis that is rarely visited by anyone.
Meruin inclined his head at the greeting. "I am pleased to make your acquaintance as well." He examines the girl as she hangs nearby, looking at her as she spoke and stared without focus. She was young, yes, and it's possible she might be daft but… blind? He's found that more likely.
"Ah…" was his response to her telling him where she lived. He looked off in the oasis's direction, shoulders losing their rigidity. "You've been hidden well. But… perhaps you should evade the predilection to confess this intelligence to any other."
"Yes," he added as an afterthought. "I am from the village."
"Village nice?" she asked, her voice pouring with youthful curiosity. "No go village. Mama no let me." She said. When he commented on her being hidden, she shook her head. "Me no hide. Me right here." She said, reaching out and poking him on the forehead, using the air currents and gentle pressure as she approached to guide her hand to his forehead. She laughed and then swung away from him, her voice having gone silent again. She had picked up on the familiar scent in the currents, not sure if Meruin had yet or not. If one could see in the pitch black of the cave, they would see the child's face light up as her mama approached. She raced towards her, leaping into the middle aged Okumo's arms.
"My little Puchi!" Mizuki said with a smile, scooping up her daughter for a moment before her expression became a bit more guarded. "Someone else here Puchi-chan?"
Meruin's face seemed to grow still as it would in death at Puchi's first question, unmoving as the girl continued speaking. It was some few moments before the slightly younger Okumo turned away from him before he frowned slightly, lips pursing as he found an answer. "No." was his murmur. "It is not…"
He looked over as she flew away, noticing Mizuki long after Puchi had it would seem, and the boy marveled some. "Extraordinary sensory perception," was his murmured note to himself before he spoke up louder. "I am here," is called, his voice reverberating.
"Yes mama, Mur Win here." She said with a smile. Mizuki barely waited for Puchi to speak before the woman sat her down. "Puchi-chan, nest." She said calmly, her eyes fixed on Meruin. "And you, I have no desire to injure one of our brood. However, if you reveal her whereabouts to the elders, you will not feel pain. You will not fear pain. You will KNOW without a shadow of a doubt, what Pain is." She said firmly as Puchi scurried off. Once the child was out of earshot she nodded, "And I'm sure you know full well why."
"This is well" Meruin tilted his head, looking down from his perch to Mizuki. His hair draped about his shoulders as a cowl, covering from the head downwards. The boy shifted as he regarded the middle-aged woman, not truly finding anything of note there. Which worried him, some.
"I am Meruin," said the boy, child's voice high and clear as it rang purely through the caverns. Meruin. One of the ten the clan had deemed closest to the perfect ninja they sought. Graduated at age seven, already besting many chuunin in his taijutsu abilities, and known to be ruthless when the situation required.Known as the 'Defiler of the Flesh' to Kirigakure's populace, though it was not said among his clan, for they knew. Powerful though he was, he was still only a boy. Strong, yes; smart, perhaps, but still just a boy.
Mizuki nodded slightly, standing firmly her ground. It very well may be that Meruin was indeed stronger than her. However, one thing you didn't do was threaten a mother's child with the mother right there. She would fight to her own death to save Puchi, that was the humanity in her. "I'm sure you can see the child is blind. If the elders had their way, she would have been purged years ago." She stated. "I know it's not much of a life for her to keep her in hiding. I'd rather her not know her life is in danger, however I am sure the day is coming that something will have to change." She said. "Anyway, I'll let you go now." She stated, offering him a bow before beginning to walk in the same direction that Puchi had scurried off to.
Meruin sat silent and seemingly unperturbed by the altercation, watching as Mizuki made her words and finished with politeness before turning to leave. His gaze, though not intense, was persistent and it stared holes into the woman's back, neither hostile nor friendly, but simply present. It remained that way as she walked and, eventually, before darkness and distance swallowed her, he returned the bow from his perch, giving respect to her.