Date: August 26, 2015
The time has finally come to put an end to the seal of memories. Complications arise during the procedure, but fortunately Kuoroke was prepared for any eventuality.
"Bloody Pursuit - The Art of Sealing"
Dark Cavern [Land of Water]
Wandering further into the dark cavern the mazes of tunnels and traps increase, more light needs to be provided in order to avoid falling to the death. A stream of water rushes from unknown area towards an abyss where the water forms a waterfall. There is no sound of crashing water as it leads into the abyss displaying the endless depth of the area. More sharp rocks and slippery edges are noted, more cobwebs and sounds o screeching bats getting caught up through the webs of the dangerous spiders. Further in the distance the thick air is replaced with a calm and steady wind coming from somewhere further into the darkness of the cave. In fact a small tunnel emits an abundance of fresh clean air.
Kuoroke has been pointed to a hard-to-find cave among the Dark Caverns to work in privacy and security on the seal placed on Kiji. So, he sends them both a message that he awaits them at the village gate, in his usual terse manner, and then from there guides them to the cavern. "I have been told, Kiji," he speaks while they walk -again, the Sunagakuran has simply foregone a greeting- "that you are a sensor. This will help me. Is there, currently, anything those senses can tell you about this seal?"
When word finally arrived from Kuoroke, Kiyoshi all but jumped for joy. For the past few days since the kuroki's arrival the Jinchuuriki acted as Kiji's second shadow. There were no places he wasn't willing to follow her, though naturally a few… complications might've came about due to his persistence. If this kept up for any longer then — "Stop it brain." Kiyoshi murmured under breath en-route to the Dark Caverns. It is all the Kirryu bothered to say really, seeing as how his part in everything at this point revolved around just guarding the pair.
Kiji received the message from Kuoroke and went with Kiyoshi toward the caves. They met and picked up the Suna nin on the way. She had not really been concerned or even weirded out by Kiyoshi's constant presence. She was used to far more invasive experiences and surroundings. One Kiyoshi was fun to have around all the time. 20 people watching you like a hawk not so much. But as they walked Kiji would answer Kuoroke. "I can't sense anything about them really. I'm sorry."
Kuoroke looked at Kiji, considering her as she answered. "I understand." He nodded, and for a bit walked in silence, apparently thinking about something. Suddenly, he stopped and turned to his patient again, this time looking somewhat uncomfortable. "Kiji, could you do me a favor and let Kiyoshi and me speak in private for just a bit?"
However far they've gone is not nearly enough to put Kiyoshi at ease. His gaze cuts to the elder male, and transforms into an inquisitive look. "Is there something wrong, Kuoroke-sama?" He asks calmly, though there's an obvious note of restrained emotions behind his tone. His earlier heightened sense of paranoia was still possessed a stranglehold over his system.
Kiji nodded and continued following Kuoroke to the caves. When he turned to her again and requested that she allow him to speak to iyoshi privately she blinked a few times, her blue eyes shifting to purple as she tilted her head. She could sense Kiyoshi's tension so she reached out and brushed her fingers along his before moving a good distance away so the two could speak in private.
Kuoroke waited until Kiji obliged, then turned to Kiyoshi. "I was hoping to discuss this with you in private, so you could decide if Kiji should share the concern, but you haven't been available." He explained, apologetically, in a low voice. "My village is having me classify this trip as a mission, and considering the rank and complexity of the skills involved, well… It's considered fairly high-ranked by Suna's system…"
Kiyoshi glanced at Kiji in passing after the brush, but didn't say anything in passing. There was no need to when her intent was clear enough. He sighs softly, releasing somewhat grudgingly the built up tension. As for Kuoroke, the giant winces at the apology, but for the rest… there's only a moment of silence that follows. One Kiyoshi breaks with barking laughter. "So that's what this is about. You don't have to worry, Kuoroke-sama. I had no intentions of having your help go without any type of compensation. Personally at that. Though-…" His eyes narrow slightly, and with an idle offhanded hand gesture he adds, "If this extends beyond the realm of money then… please elaborate."
Kuoroke nodded, apparently relieved. "I didn't want to worry her, but I didn't want to demand money after the fact." he answered. "A matter of politeness more than anything." He beckoned the girl and continued on their path, first into the caverns -at the entrance, he lit a small lantern- and then, through the winding passages and one rather difficult and narrow climb, into a cavern with only one exit. "Here will do just fine." he stated.
Kiyoshi snorts. "If there was anyone that was gonna be paying for this, then it would be me. Regardless of whatever you might call 'proper procedure'." The Kirryu says gruffly before following along after Kuoroke. For the rest of journey, the Kirryu remained silent, watchful, and close at hand for Kiji. They both knew he wasn't so good with words, so he settled for assurance through presence alone. A cold-hearted tactic to some, but it worked for them as far as Kiyoshi was self-aware.
Kiji returned to Kiyoshi's side with a curious glance, but he was right. She didn't need him to assure her verbally. They traveled further into the caves until Kuorke chose a location. Kiji wasn't sure what was wanted of her but she simply stepped forward and peered up at Kuoroke, eyes purple, waiting for orders.
At length, the Kuroki inspected the cavern for anything up to and including insects, which he carefully escorted out. Every crevice was inspected. "Kiyoshi, during the procedure itself I'd ask you to wait… at the exit, facing outwards." He said, without turning back to the two of them. "Kiji, lie down please. Before I remove the scroll, I will have to see it, however briefly, again, so I know what I'm doing." From inside his cloak, he began taking out a whole set of small wooden boxes, as well as one leather roll, all of which he set down on the ground.
"Mn… I was thinking the same thing." Kiyoshi comments during his own perhaps less intrusive search of the cave. Before actually taking his leave (for the time being), Kiyoshi turns back to Kiji, brows furrowed as if struggling with something. Largely on impulse more than anything, the giant briskly crossed the distance to take Kiji by the chin, lifting it up for a brief kiss on the lips. "Take care." He murmurs quietly once they part. Afterwards and grudgingly, Kiyoshi makes for the entrance, ignoring whatever aggravation the Kuroki might be directing at him for interrupting his explanation.
Kiji nodded to Kuoroke's instructions. A second later Kiyoshi took her by the chin and kissed her. It was short but she managed to answer it lightly. "I'll be fine." When Kiyoshi was gone she turned and found a place that was kind of a makeshift bed (really more natural than that) which would allow her to be at a better height for Kuoroke's comfort. Silently she laid down and waited.
Kuoroke opened the boxes and unrolled the roll, revealing a whole set of seals. After ensuring her face was well illuminated, he seemed about to get to work when, remembering the events during her fight with Kaidan, he got the idea to check Kiji's hair for spiders… and for good measure, any pockets or other points on her person whence an Okumo could observe just what he's doing.
Kiji blinked when Kuoroke started cecking her hair for spiders. He would find a nest woven in the hair t the base of her skull and three bright purple spiders skittered out. One perched on Kiji's forehead and presented at Kuoroke making Kiji reach up and poke at it. "Relax I'll be fine." The spider skittered off toward the shadows then and Kiji peered up at Kuoroke. "They're just protective."
"Oh, I understand…" Kuoroke answered, looking after the spiders skittering off. "But they're still extra pairs of eyes. I'd prefer not to be watched…" He slid one of the boxes towards the base of the bed, at an angle from which his hands wouldn't be visible. "I understand they're protective, but they don't need to worry. There are simply some details I'd like to keep to myself." While he spoke, he maneuvered around to be at the head of the makeshift 'bed'. "I'm going to need you to try and remember those few hours. Just for a few seconds. Just so I can see. After that, tell me… well, anything else. If you notice it affecting any other memories, tell me about those… in as much as you're comfortable."
Kiji nodded quietly as Kuoroke explained that he was just protecting his jutsu secrets basicly. When he told her to remember, she assumed that it meant he wnted to look at the seal array. So she started trying o remember, lighting the array up in crimson seals on her forehead and upper face. Her jaw set but she kept still, allowing him to view it as much as possible. Lighting it up was easier than going deeper. So no memories were affected just yet.
Kuoroke nodded. "That's quite enough, thank you…" he commented. At first, he placed a few rapid, confident strokes with a silvery, somewhat shimmering ink. They seemed to be entirely haphazardly placed. Then, the Kuroki produced a clear liquid, and began drawing on Kiji's forehead, occasionally moving to one side or another, so that anyone looking from a static angle would only be able to see part of his brush strokes. The ink was rather cold to the touch. He continued drawing, meticulously and carefully, sometimes switching to a black ink, for the better part of five minutes, although sometimes he would stand still and freeze, concentrating. Finally, he set the last of the brushes down.
After covering her forehead with a thin cloth, the Kuroki inhaled, and under his cloak, tattoos lit up, easing the transit of chakra around his body. Another measured breath and he folded his hands together, starting a long series of hand seals, hidden between his body and the bed. As the final act of the technique, he touched two points on the tattoos beneath the cloth, under the cloth. The Mark of Unsealing lit up, its form distorted by the cloth to all watching, eating at the seals on Kiji's forehead.
For the first few seconds, Kiji experiences genuine relief. It is almost as a great weight not only has been lifted off her shoulders, but a pressure — subtle enough to go ignored by a trained shinobi liker herself — on her mind too had begun to ease. Faded memories, both effected by the seals and not, also began to surface, playing back in the mind's eye as the seal's hold on her loosened.
A warmth spreading through her temple replacing the lingering cold of the inks applied by Kuoroke betrays preludes an end to perhaps the most pleasant part of the operation. As if like a living thing themselves, the seals began to distort and twist, squirming almost as the biological component 'awoke' and sought to stay adhered to its host. From Kiji's perspective the color of the images in mind began to show signs of decay. In fact, it almost looked as if everything was rusting over. But then again, such change might go ignored simply due to the feeling of pain so excruciating, the closest comparison to it is the sensation of hot pokers being pressed into the nerves about her head; burning and cutting without end in measurable sight.
Still, there /does/ seem to be some progress in the seals removal, though not enough to promise an end within minutes.
Kiji felt the relief spread through her at first. She wasn't simple enough to think that it would stay like that and indeed it did not. By the time Kuoroke began to try prying the seals off her, Kiji's jaw tightened sharply, her eyes clouding in a grey tone in responce tothe pain. She kept silent, though. Even after her hands balled into fists. It was the most she would move. The memories tht floated up seemed sharper than usual and then.. slowly.. she felt the decay of those memories. Se couldn't quite manage to speak without letting Kiyoshi hear thepain in her voice so she remained silent.
Kuoroke noticed the changes in his 'patient' and his instinct told him what was happening. Clever, resistant seal… and he'd made a mistake, over which he may have to kick himself later. But for now, he had to work quickly, yet cautiously: he hunched over, creating a working area where his hands would be hidden by his cloak just beside the girl's temple. From inside his inner pocket, he produced a common explosive tag, which he unrolled, and then carefully split into two separate sheets to reveal that between those two sheets, another piece of paper was sandwiched and concealed. It appeared plain, but Kuoroke performed a few hand seals, and from the scroll, as it turned out to be, a burst of paper appeared.
It appeared that every sheet of paper was cut in a different shape, like a madman's puzzle. Kuoroke snatched what appeared to be a haphazard collection of them out of the air, slid them together on the girl's forehead, whispering, "I need you to lie entirely still" and reached for his brushes again. Nothing of his meticulous manner remained, his hands flashing in rapid strokes. The seal would probably be imperfect, but they key would be speed. A few more lines drawn, some in visible ink, some in invisible, whatever was nearest, and Kuoroke returned to hand seals. These final hand seals took longer than the entire preparation between the moment he'd noticed something was wrong, and as he slammed a hand down on the girl's forehead again, the caverns around the howled like tormented souls. With a surge of the Kuroki's chakra, air was sucked in from around the room, from every passage and crevice, sucked towards the seal. It was a brief, explosive burst of wind, and then the seal sat there, containing the battle between memory seal and Mark of Unsealing.
Kiyoshi did not need much at all. His senses were sharper than most trained shinobi, and a certain technique in the making of his only made them that much more impressive. He exercised it without thinking, or hesitation for that matter. What he picks up leaves him biting his lips hard enough to almost produce blood. At some point during his watch, the reminder of his careless action in meeting Kuoroke at the gate came up. Even if Kuoroke wasn't exactly a renowned seal master, the fact that he held his position for so long on top of other rumors might've gave their enemies more than enough pause to consider the implication of their meeting.
The Moto needed not think further on what would of course have to happen next. Still, his mind lingered on the subject, distracting him from his duty until Kuoroke's latest technique completely robs him of his focus altogether. Paralyzed by surprise, Kiyoshi doesn't go barreling down the tunnel to find out what just happen. A fortunate thing, perhaps….
Whoever created Kiji's curse seal knew what they were doing. It did not help that Kuoroke's measure were imperfect. And yet ultimately, the imperfections do little more than allow it a few extra seconds — a small eternity by Kiji's perspective perhaps — of struggling on the curse's part before creating an impenetrable barrier. Cut off from its main source of energy, what it stored only prolongs the inevitable without inflicting any further harm after the Mark of Unsealing finally solidifies its own chakra suppressing grip on it. The rest of the process from then on is all but a walk in the park for both patient and doctor.
Kiji couldn't keep her voice in once Kuoroke slapped the mark of unsealing on her forehead and though the cry was small, that was a huge reaction to pain from Kiji. The seal was stubborn but Kuoroke was relentless. So when the seal was finally quarantined and faded out, all of the tesion in Kiji's body left as well, leaving her panting shallowly. Her eyes fluttered as if she might just goto sleep.
Kuoroke swept up his tools and carefully wiped the cloth over Kiji's forehead to smudge any remains of his seals. "Stay with me…" he muttered, slightly out of breath, himself. "Do you remember who you are? Where you are?" he asked, insistently: this was a particularly insidious seal, and he was concerned he hadn't been quick enough to stop its influence. After a quick glance to verify he didn't leave anything clearly showing what he was doing, he called for Kiyoshi. "We're done. Come in."
Nothing is out of place once all is said and done. Everything caught within the seal's influence rush to the forefront almost immediately as a chaotic blend that does not easily settle within a matter moments. Perhaps with a good night's rest or session of meditation might clear things up. A few distinct things about the mess /does/ however stand out clearly. A faded yet clear enough image of a person — Kiji's 'mother' — strapped to a doctor's table.
But she's seen her mother go about her business within and outside the village recently… hasn't she?
"Is everything alright!?" Kiyoshi calls, control finally reasserted. That same control may be preventing him from running off immediatly, but it would not last long without his worry being assuaged.
Kiji tried to focus as Kuoroke spoke to her, forcing her eyes open, though they would appear odd as the irises had gone completely white. "S..Shimizu. Kiji." She furrowed her brows. "Kiri…gakure?" She glanced around then up at Kuoroke again, trying to focus. She could sense Kiyoshi nearby as well.
"That… remains to be seen." Kuoroke responded, turning to Kiyoshi. "I did what I could." As he spoke, he reintroduced the spiders to her hair and returned his tools to their storage positions. "And she should recover. I suggest you keep her under medical supervision for a few days, in addition to your own protection. That seal was as tricky as I feared."
That's it. Kiyoshi needed no more prompts to race back down into the main cavern where he left the duo once he caught the weakness in Kiji's tone. He arrives just in time for Kuoroke to spot him coming around the last bend, though he doesn't stop there. Kuoroke's words all but fall on death ears as the boy quickly made his way to his mate side and checked her over. His heart settles only slightly after confirming her state. As unfortunate as it was, Kiji seemed in far better shape then some of the other time he saw her suffering from the cruel hand's of another.
Without asking or waiting for further developments, Kiji is scooped up into those well-toned arms of his and carried back out the way the came. His pace only falters at the insistence of a memory — a promise. "Kuoroke-sama… Thank you… I'll let my brothers know to send you the payment for this, and thensome." He states with as much calm as he could muster. Afterwards, the Kirryu takes of without another word.