Date: March 22, 2010
A wandering former Jounin of Konoha decides to take a look at the mysterious tower atop the mile-high pillar. He comes away with much more than he expected.
"Broken Memories Pt. 1 - The Stone of Fire"
Land of Fire - Fire/Sand Border
It is afternoon, and there is a mile-high tower where one wasn't half a week ago. The sun shines down on a grassy field of tall grass which has seen great disruption with the tower's emergence from the earth. Boulders, some of rather immense proportions, lay strewn about the field. Some have even fallen so far as to crush some trees on the edge of the forest to the east. In general, however, though for a few days this was a hazardous area to be in, on account of falling rocks, things seem to have settled down. Not far to the west of the tower, there lie the beginnings of the desert of the Land of Wind. A vast expanse of sand as far as the eye can see.
The tower itself lies somewhere at the top of the mile-high pillar of rock and dirt. The pillar is 800 feet wide at the base, and gradually narrows towards the top, where the tower is. Not much of the tower is visible from down here, and the sun high in the sky doesn't help matters when looking up that high. However, there are hints of redness…
Having left Kirigakure a few days ago, the blonde Pickler known as Goh makes his way Westward, trailing through the Land of Fire on his way to Sunagakure. He missed the people there, after all! And had some more.. diplomatic matters to tend to. With a large duffle pack slung across his shoulder and large scroll on the back of his waist, the youth strides along singing a merry tune. "Rah rah! I am a Wandering Tiger! Hoo rah rah!" It seems he's enjoying the sunny weather. Such a nice change from the mists of Kiri. Ugh.
Despite having steadily approaching the mile-high tower for the last while, it seemed that the ex-Jounin hadn't even noticed it! Just one of those things. Even the scattered rocks he hadn't paid much attention to, attributing it to possible ninja battles that have occured. That is until he seems to be right there, eyes widening in surprise as he leans his head back to try and find the top. "W..what the.." A huge pillar, so huge that he can't even see around it! And.. unbelievably tall. Just sort of standing there for a minute, Goh gently moves forth, pushing up against the outer wall with his palm. "This is new. An outpost, maybe? I bet you could see Sunagakure all the way at the top." Hm. "..no. Even if it's the Hokage, it would take her so long to build. This definitely wasn't here last time I walked through the area." Proceeding to circle around the tower, Goh will try to find some sort of obvious doorway built in.
There do not appear to be any doors, secret entrances, stairs, ladders, or elevators. The huge mass of granite and bedrock that composes the pillar looks as though it may have once been a bunch of different rocks, but now it is all fused together into a single chunk. This might possibly be due to pressure, or heat, or both. The only clearly artificial part of the pillar is the tower at the very top, about 5.2K feet up (that's a little over 1.6K meters).
It'd be a long climb to get all the way up there.
"Hum." Goh gets out, not seeming to spot any sort of entrances that could lead to any sort of cave or passage. It looked to be exactly what it seemed.. solid rock. "Let's see here. I could try and climb up the thing, but.. Well. Let's be honest. I'm gonna tire myself out just by the time I get up to the top of the pillar. The tower above that doesn't seem to be any easier." Scratching his head a little, the blonde lets out a sigh. "I could try use my rocket feet, but no way is that gonna take me all the way up. And that'll burn through my chakra too." A further scratch, before a dramatic sigh. "Well, I just can't leave it be. I gotta figure out something about it, or at least try."
Taking a small bite of his finger, enough to draw blood, Goh flips through some seals. Thrusting a palm to the ground, eyes widen a little when… poof! What springs to life is a large, six feet long Salamander. It also stands some four feet tall. "Wanpo! How nice of you to join me. Check it out. A giant tower." The Salamander in question sizes up the thing, appearing to not like what's coming next. "Now. You have a technique that lets you tunnel into the earth, right? But I reckon that this rock is too hard. Even for you. It's all compressed bedrock. Not like the soft earth. So. What we're gonna do is.. well. You're a Salamander. You can run up the side with your feet, right?" There's a slow nod, the creature beginning to open its mouth. "Just go as far as you can. When you get too tired, I'll go from there on out." And just like that, Goh proceeds to climb /into/ the Salamander, stretching its mouth out like elastics. In a matter of moments, he's completely gone. Just Wanpo is left.
As Goh climbs into Wanpo's mouth and vanishes, the Salamander is left at the base of the stone pillar. A look up would reveal there is a looooooooong climb ahead, even if Wanpo isn't expected to go all the way to the top. The tower at the very top just sits there and looks red. It's not going anywhere.
Fortunately, climbing is what this sort of Salamander is built for. Well, sort of. It's an earth-type! And indeed, there is no rush. Plenty of time to rest along the way, if need be. And so, going at it calmly, the Salamander in question will begin its slow journey up the bedrock face. It doesn't appear to have any trouble, its sticky feet clinging to the wall easily enough.
1500 meters is definitely a long way, but it doesn't take any longer than thirty minutes or so for the creature to reach the top of the bedrock. As it does though, it seems to get a little tired, peering out for any bits that level off for it to rest. Or, it could just transition to the actual tower with hardly any bits at all!
It does not appear that there are any ledges or protrusions that can be rested upon. There aren't even any very good places for a human climber to grip or hang from. Sticking to the side as Wanpo is doing right now is probably the only thing he can really do to rest.
The closer that the Salmander gets to the tower, the warmer the stone beneath his feet seems to become, as well as the air surrounding the stone pillar. From this distance, a heat haze is visible around the tower, so it must be rather hot. Also, it appears that either the stones composing the tower are red, or they are being heated until they turn red somehow.
Sitting inside Wanpo, Goh looks out as best he can, getting a good view of what's going on. "You alright? When it gets too hot for your feet, let me know. You might be used to hot conditions since the Salamander Caves are way underground, but something tells me that we're going to get much hotter soon." Taking a little breather, the Salamander sucks in a breath, passing from bed-rock to the tower itself. It sort of circles around as it climbs up, spiralling up the structure instead of going straight up in a vetical line. This lets in a good view to see if there are any windows or doors this high up! Also, if there are any cooler stones. But, even as they ascend, the stones and air steadily getting hotter. "..no wonder that the top was red. I'm usually pretty good in heat. Some even say I'm immune to it. But.. I'm sweltering." Goh intones from the belly, feeling the strength being sapped from his Salamander. "How much further to go do you think, Wanpo?"
There is more than one opening in the tower itself, though most are very large windows. There's no glass or anything else in the stony openings. Looking through the windows at any 'floor' reveals a circular platform on each level of the interior, all lined with contraptions and machinery of some kind. It doesn't look very high-tech, but the exact age of the devices is hard to tell without going inside.
The circular platforms ring around a large, empty, central space that goes right down through the tower's interior, to the 'ground level' (even though that is a misnomer, as the >real< ground level is, uhh, on the ground. A mile below). The heat is even more intense inside than out, but it is still somewhat tolerable if one doesn't mind a bit of scalding. At the very top of the tower, there is something glowing.
Wanpo moves forth to try and peek in through one of these stone entryways, head tilting a little bit as it spots the weird machinery. Indeed, there was a blast of heat coming from the inside. So severe that one likely couldn't last for very long in there. Even for Goh, who enjoys the heat and can usually tolerate it, it was a bit much! "Wanpo. Can you use your toungue? Whip it out and try and grab one of the smaller loose devices. Your toungue might get singed, so try do it fast." Nodding a bit, the Salamander, still sticking to the outside of the tower, peeks its head in onc emore to locate what it thinks is a loose piece of machinery on the platform/level that they are on. Wanpo can take the heat, it seems! But likely not for long. "Go! Do it now!" Opening his mouth, he moves to fire a sticky toungue out. Usually, the creature uses this toungue to catch bugs. But in this case, the stickiness is coming in handy for other purposes. So the toungue fires out, stretching out a good distance to try and get something. If successful and the pieces are loose, then he'll withdraw the item, pulling it into its belly, much like it did to Goh in the first place. If the item is stuck, Wanpo will try a further four times on different pieces of machinery. If none are successful, then the toungue will retreat back into the belly. Too hot fot any more attempts.
The machinery seems to mostly be bolted to the floor or otherwise too heavy to pick up. They are also either crafted from stone or metal, which means they're conducting the heat rather nicely right into Wanpo's tongue. However, one of the machines seems to be old enough that when it is grabbed, it falls over with a loud *CRASH*. It seems to be broken, and a glowing red crystal has fallen out from inside of the machine. Two other similar crystals also lie on the ring-shaped stone walkway that hugs the walls of the tower's interior, but they went dim and dark when the device broke. Unlike the heavy machine, the crystals should be easy to pick up, and do not appear to be hot for some reason.
"Wanpo! You alright?!" Goh cries out, witnessing how the Salamander reacted in such a way. Damn things were hot. "Oi oi.. check it out. Seems like there are some weird crystals in the pieces of machinery. Heh, nice work." Hmm. "Maybe it's what keeps them hot?" Goh suggests, eyes squinting. "I need to give the Sunagakure heads… no, the Kazekage something in order for them to align with Konoha. Or at least not go so fiercely with Kirigakure. One of these crystals should do. Wanpo. Can you get the dark ones? Watch out.. if they're hot, let them go."
With his now somewhat burnt toungue readying, it fires out to collect the two dim crystals. As they're not hot, he has no issue stomaching them for the moment.
At this stage, due to the mixed factors of combined heat, burnage, and the fact he's been hanging vertical for a long while, Wanpo is truly getting tired. "Alright. Now. I want you to poof back to the caves. I'll take Reiko from here on out. Hopefully we can close the distance a bit."
Wanpo proceeds to opens his mouth, but what comes out isn't Goh. It appears to be… a much smaller Salamander! Only inches long. Scurrying out, Reiko charges forth, going up the tower. As high as she can! Of course, the down-side here is that Reiko is much smaller, and as such, it will take longer to cover the remaining distance. But heck, going as high as she possibly can shouldn't be an issue. Wanpo proceeds to poof back out of existence, leaving a white cloud behind.
Now inside Reiko and feeling a bit more cramped, Goh watches keenly. How high could they get?
At the very top of the tower, it is capped with a metal dome. There's no way in other than to go inside the tower through one of the windows, and then climb up into whatever may lie under the dome. The dome itself gleams bright white, and little licks of flame appear across its surface regularly.
Reiko isn't stupid! As such, she halts before she gets to the obviously hot dome. "I..It's white. White hot, maybe? Jeez. Stay clear of that one. C'mon, we'll try and go back insie." Goh intones, patting the inside of Reiko's belly. Turning about, the small, three inch long Salamander scurries back down from whence it came. "Watch the heat blast…" Turning into the closest window, which should likely be the one closest to the top, Reiko braces for the inside heat wave to strike, although remains sticking to the outside wall as she scurries up on the inside.
"Heh.. I keep forgetting that you Salamanders like the heat. But even this much is probably enough to make you uncomfortable." And so, this time, they go up from the inside!
Inside, there appears to be an alcove in one of the walls, with a set of stone stairs leading up >through< the wall, into whatever lies underneath the dome. Travelling up those stairs would lead to a large room with a vaulted ceiling… And some very disturbing things in it. All around the room, there are what appear to be grey and black statues of human beings. They all are either locked in combat with other statues, dead on the ground — often with weapons of the same grey and black material protruding from them — or else running or reaching for what lies at the center of the room.
The center of the room will be addressed in a moment. The faces of all the statues, even those who are fighting or in the midst of killing other statues, appear to be frozen in expressions of perpetual agony and fear. Eyes closed, mouths open in silent screams. And what is it that some of the statues were reaching for? What is it that lies at the center of this vast chamber?
An object that is simultaneously a treasure of indescribable wonder and a manifestation of indescribable horror.
It looks simple enough from a distance. A red sphere suspended in the air over a pedestal. It is a deep, dark-red color, and seems to be almost fluid in its texture and its perfect smoothness. It also radiates a palpable sensation of power. It almost seems to whisper in Goh's ear… 'Take me.'
The pedetal the sphere is hovering over has transparent tubes in it that seem to be sending something molten and glowing down into the floor. Other tubes seem to be going up into the ceiling, where the dome is, while others go down into the rest of the tower.
Adjusting to the heat somewhat, Reiko scurries up the stairs and into the big ceiling room. Stopping to take a good look around, she pauses. "Something troublesome has appeared, that's for sure." Goh intones. But he can't very well take it. That'd be a bit crazy. Wouldn't it? It seemed so.. alluring.
"Reiko, this is getting complicated. We can take the thing, but.. look at the statues. They all seem to be horrified. But the fact that they're locked in battle seems to suggest that it's not because of touching the stone itself. Maybe cause it was used on them in some way, shape or form? In which case… I dunno. It could be safe to touch." Goh frowns a little, sucking in a breath. "…I'm not one who's sucked in by power, but if someone got this in their hands and.. used it. That'd be very bad. And I'd gladly die if it meant that'd happen. It's always what my style has been based off of! Maybe it can be used to turn people to stone. In which case, I need to get it and destroy it. Or at least bury it."
As this room is significantly cooler than the previous ones, Goh proceeds to pry himself out from the small Salamander. Standing up tall, the three-inch long Reiko proceeds to scurry up and onto his shoulder.
Walking gently forth, Goh approaches. Reaching out with both hands, Goh sort of keeps them hovering around the stone for a little bit, sucking in a breath. Gathering up his nerve. Seemed he really was a ninja of worth! "..here we go again, Reiko." And just like that, hands come to grasp the stone on either side! In the same movement, he'll try to pull it up and towards him, moving it clear of its original position.
When Goh reaches for the sphere, a small bolt of red energy sparks from it, hitting his hand before he can pull away. It doesn't hurt. On the contrary it feels… Good. Really good. It would make him feel stronger. As his hands close on the sphere, it seems to flow and distort as though it really were liquid, before solidifying into a small stone, as Goh expected it would be. Further, a rush of enormous power goes through him. Any ability or affinity he may have had for fire… Seems pitiful in comparison to what he can now sense. It's almost like he has just become the God of Fire.
'Take me. Take me. I'm yours. Use me. Use me.' The whispers grow more and more seductive the longer Goh holds and gazes at the sphere. All else seems to fade away for a moment, the importance of the rest of the world paling before the treasure that Goh has uncovered. With this stone… Goh could do almost anything, couldn't he? Far beyond merely becoming a well known vegetable pickler, he could unite the five Great Shinobi Nations. He could bring peace to the world. He could uncover all the secrets of the universe. He could find true love. He could become the greatest fighter of all. He could punish all the evil ones that would oppose him. He could bring down the heavens to touch the earth. And he could do it all without even working up a sweat. All sorts of possibilities seem to flow from the stone into Goh's mind.
Reiko? Who is Reiko? Sunagakure? What's that? Who cares about the rest? Who cares? Goh is in control here. Goh is the master. As long as Goh holds this stone… Goh. Is. GOD. The whispers swirl around him, so convincing, making so much sense. Who better than Goh to wield this power? Who better indeed? Who else could resist the temptation to use it for wicked purposes? Not only >must< he keep it with him to prevent the evil ones from obtaining it, but he >DESERVES< this power. It is his birthright. It is his to do with as he pleases. If Goh's pleasure is to make the world a better place, so be it. If Goh's pleasure is to become Emperor of All, well, who would deny him? Who would dare challenge him? Who?
Reiko, meanwhile, may or may not be aware of what is going on with the stone. Reiko would NOT hear any tempting whispers from the stone, but instead… She may feel a wave of repulsion at being this close to it. It's hard to tell what a Salamander might think or feel. Clearly, however, this Stone was not designed to appeal to animal life.
Goh's eyes snap open in surprise as a rush of power courses through him. Indeed, his affinity was fire, and he thought he was actually pretty good using it. But.. comparatively. This… this… His mouth opens, breathing increasing. Indeed, a wave of options flood through him. It seems that all of the things that were holding him back were now erased. No matter how complicated it seemed in the past, it was now well in his power. He feels his thoughts beginning to change, his willpower struggling to overcome the new thoughts that process everything. "Ugh..kuh." He finds himself struggling for words, as if unable to get everything out at once. His grip on the stone tightens considerably.
The whispers continue to talk to Goh in such pleasing tones, telling him whatever will make him happy is now within his grasp. 'Use me. Use me. Use my power. Use me. Use me.' The Stone almost seems to pulse or throb in time with Goh's heart beat. Power. It's not just about power, though there is that. Anyone can have power. But this Stone… Having it means that anything can be accomplished. Anything. There is no stopping Goh. No one to stand up to him. He can take or give whatever he wants. Or he can take nothing and give nothing. It is all at his command.
'Use me.' It's no longer a request, though it continues to come from the gentle, whispering, feminine voices. No. Not a request anymore. More like an order. 'Use me now.'
Trying to collest his thoughts as best he can, Goh sucks in a final breath, before.. chomp. Reiko bites his ear! "Ow!" Feeling the pain come up through his ear and head, the blonde Pickler loosens his grip on the ball, feeling the intensity of dreams coming true drop considerably.
"This..oh man. It works almost like a genjutsu." Goh breathes out, collecting his breath as he holds the ball. "..definitely need to take this somewhere else. I'm feeling heaps of power radiate from this thing, Reiko." Goh tilts his head over to the small Salamander. "I can't possibly give the Kazekage this. It's… way, way too dangerous. Even for the sake of allies."
Feeling the desire come back, Goh looks back down at the ball. "..Reiko. I'm going to try something." Perhaps it's the fact that so much power is rushing into him. Or the fact that it's probably to better know what it can do in order to stop it? For some reason, that idea sounds like it makes a whole heap of sense. Looks like that even the innocent and fun-loving Goh has a dark-side that can be tapped.
And so, he proceeds to use it in the only way he knows how to use something. Focussing his chakra into the ball, Goh will concentrate. Feeling how it's to be used, and then indeed, using it.
The Stone's influence seeps out of Goh quickly when he comes to his senses. It's still there, but, for the moment at least, it is diminished. Until Goh tries to use it. The Chakra that Goh puts into it likely isn't a huge amount. But still it is amplified greatly, and the Stone seems to perform the Change in Nature technique >for< Goh. It turns right into the Fire Nature. And then it explodes.
A searing wave of flames tears out of the Stone in all directions, destroying the statues easily, because they weren't statues at all. They were ashes. The ashes of the people who were in this chamber last, when the Stone was >used< last. The flames swirl around the room, taking on fantastical shapes of mythical creatures, at the slightest whim of Goh's imagination! No longer is the power just tempting Goh, it is being used, and that likely sends a thrill of pleasure through the ninja that is more addictive than any drug. Dragons and tigers and phoenixes and things that may or may not even have names, all in miniature, fly around the chamber, acting like real, living creatures. They seem confused by their surroundings, and all the other creatures in it. Armies of soldiers have appeared down on the floor, all about an inch high. They cry out in amazement and fear at the amazing place and circumstances they find themselves in. Some try to run away, others, when they see Goh, fall to their knees and/or bow before him.
And Goh, wreathed in crackling flames of all colors and hues, hair floating about on non-existent wind currents, is master of them all. He must appear to be like a deity to these fire-men, as he stands there glowing. The pleasure is not just Goh's, but also the Stone's. It enjoys being used. 'You can do more.' It's a simple enough statement, that whisper. But it's a suggestion. A suggestion to do… >More<. What can Goh do? Why not find out?
But then… There's that nagging bit of him that doesn't covet power for its own sake. It seems dwarfed by the enormity of this Stone's capabilities, but it's still there. Will it be enough?
It seems that test of wills isn't going to happen right now. Because as quickly as it came, the flames retreat into the Stone, along with all the creatures and soldiers it created. 'You can do more…' the whispers offer teasingly. The Chakra that Goh put into the Stone is gone like it was gobbled up.
Blown back by the searing fire suddenly, Goh takes a small step back in surprise. "H..Holey..!" He gets out, gasping at such a display. Everything… the animals, soldiers, the fire. Everything appears to be just magnificent. As he stands there, wrathed in flame, he chuckles almost darkly. Somehow, it seemed that he had just knocked on a big door. There was still the process of going /in/ and exploring what was inside. With a grin coming across his face, wide enough to go from ear to ear, he laughs lightly again, about to feed more chakra into the stone. But then, just like that, Reiko bites his ear again!
Feelings immediately dissapear it seems, and not a moment too soon. "T..Thanks, Reiko. This.. this is insane. I cannot possibly let it fall into evil hands. I only wanted to see what it could do, and I have. Don't need to do anything more." A glance over to the small Salamander. "If I ever get out of control, bite me. Do something to get my attention. It could very well consume me." A bit of a gulp. "..but I can't hand it over. I need to take it to the Hokage. She'll know what to do." He nods a little. "Come on.. We need to head to Sunagakure." Sounding much more tired than he used to, Goh proceeds to make his exit. He leaves the tower in a brisk run, facing the hot rooms himself as he darts for the window. Falling down to the ground, he'll go on to stick his feet with chakra lightly, using it to sort of 'skate' down the huge surface. Down, down, down… Back to the ground.