Date: October 11, 2014
Within the chamber for Kiyoshi's mastery training, Meruin brings his student into meditation where his mettle is tested until they find…
"Conquer and Control - To Be Power"
Below an unnamed Island on the outskirts of the Land of Water
"A tailed beast is a construct of enmity and chakra."
Meruin sits within the chamber where Kiyoshi's training is to take place, his back straight and his hands on his knees, looking across at the manchild who sat before him in preparation for his first true session. "Dealing with it inside of you is fairly literally dealing with powerful emotion and energy. You can control it. You can manipulate it, make it your own. But this will require an extreme strength of will and a certain amount of chakra control. The first to overcome the powerful emotion that strikes you when you pull it into yourself and the second to bend it to your will."
The Mizukage looked up at the crystal chandelier on the ceiling that provided the majority of the light in the room. "It will take time. And you will be under these lights for a small while." He looked back towards Kiyoshi. "But it will occur. And it begins with this first step: Simply becoming more adjusted towards the forces we work with. We will draw upon Kokuo's chakra until it becomes too much to stand. And then we shall do it again and again, increasing the amounts that we can handle and becoming more adept at doing so. And once I have judged you as having reached an acceptable level, we shall move forward.
"Do you understand?"
He hears, but the words cannot be focused upon fully. Not at the moment. Although the crystal did not fight him nearly as much as something truly sentient might have, Kiyoshi's control was fragile, to say the least. Nevertheless, he picks up on enough so that by the time the lighting has dimmed to the point of being just short of non-existant (a minute or so after the question), the Jinchuuriki is more or less ready to respond.
"Enmity.." He murmurs, a small frown forming after those word leaves his lips. Soon after her turns to look upon Meruin, eyes squinted from the strain of trying to precieve the Okumo amongst the darkness despite their proximity. "Yes, I… I believe I do." He finally fully responds. "Just.. how much would be an acceptable amount?"
"How much you must be able to endure, I cannot yet assess."
Meruin's words reverberated through the cavern, much more present than his shaded form just across from the boy. He had been patient, remaining silent until the answer had finally been drawn from the Jinchuuriki.
"I will know after learning how much you can draw in now, and what effect it has on you. You will not need to be able to suffer the whole of the Beast — nowhere near. The chakra levels will be substantial, however, and they will need to be nearly… exhorbitant. You are simply required to have a certain level of willpower and adeptness in handling both the negative emotion and manipulating the chakra.
"This is why whenever I have put you in a situation where you would meet the Five Tails, it has always come through meditation. Meditation is quite literally the exercising of the mind, where combat and physical training are the exercising of the body. It will build your willpower and give you a greater control over your own thought and your own emotion, allowing you a say in just what state your mental equilibrium lies in. Today will be no different and you can expect to meditate quite a bit in your time in this cavern.
"Are you prepared?"
Kiyoshi listens calmly and without wavering; or at least, he tries to, in any case. Disappointment, anger, and then confusion tugged at him as the Okumo spoke. All of them were but fleeting shadows in the end. Fleeting and unimportant, or so it may seem, for without a moment's hesitation Kiyoshi straightened out his stance and nodded in the affirmative to the final question.
"I am." He says, knowing full well that the words mattered little. Ready or not, the moss-haired giant refused to let the trip be a wasted one so long as he could help it. Not now…
"Then let us begin…"
The shadow of Meruin brings its hands to its knees, back already straight in its sitting. "Draw in your first breath, cool on the lips and pleasing to the lungs… and release it, warm to its touch and important to its own. Follow the rhythm of your life… The inhalation… and the exhalation. Let its sound drown out all within the mind… When your thoughts arise, see them and let there be freedom for them… Let there be freedom for you… Let there be silence…"
And then he, himself, was silent. The Okumo knew that Kiyoshi knew how to meditate. So now he simply waited; Waited for the sense that the other had fallen into his silence.
Kiyoshi replicates Meruin's posture to the best of his abilities. However, he is hesitant to follow the instructions that follow, though slowly, inevitably, the man-child finds himself carrying them out regardless. Stubborn though he may be, the power of suggestion held sway in his heart while outside of duress.
Before long, the Moto slumps where he seats, drawn into the silence envoked by Meruin with only primal instincts to protect him.
Meruin's eyes remained leveled on Kiyoshi, gaze open and unblinking as it took in dim form of the Jinchuuriki in the darkness. Soon, the boy's posture slumped into undiscipline. Soon, his breathing grew shallower and quieter… deeper… louder. Soon, the other had achieved inner silence.
The Mizukage's voice threads through the darkness, reverberating within it as though it thrived in it. Fed off of it. "Focus the chakra. From yourself and the Five Tails in equality."
In the moment at hand, the thought and desire to follow it meant nothing truly the Moto. Twice now has he been subjected to this altered state, and twice has he been deterred from 'exploring' it in full. An odd concept perhaps, but no less desired. Unfortunately yet fortunately, he does not wonder far from the path before the thought from earlier — now a nagging prescence — doggedly nips away at the rogue desire. Kiyoshi outwardly cringes and grinds his teeth absently until the inner struggle concludes with a renewed focus on his original directive. Albeit, not due to any design of his own. Meruin may sense it, but only Kiyoshi sees the far off light; a navy blue energy that demanded his attention.
A few moments later Kiyoshi makes contact with the light, or at least, as close as he dared to get at the heed of his instincts. From there, Kiyoshi would to draw a portion of it to him instead, only for the exercise to yield a tiny stream… and a heightened sense of paranoia as time ticked by.
"/Now/ is not the time for fear."
Meruin's words cut through the darkness, a sudden heat present where before there had been only calm. "Now is the time for progress. If you would be forged of power, then you must step into its flame. Do not balk, Kiyoshi. Remember why you are here. Remember just who and what is at stake.
"More," he demanded.
"Take in more."
Meruin's words do more than just cut through the darkness. They carve their way into his very being, paralyzing him briefly, as well as shattering a certain misconception. He stops tugging altogether as his attention drifted to himself; a child's body basking in the light of a power that far outstripped it.
It would not do.
Not even for a moment longer…
His thoughts turned chaotic, but only for a brief second. Afterwards, every childish denial and desire is swiftly shunted to the back or ignored without so much as moment of consideration as he made his way closer to the light, self-image transforming along the way. It is a vague thing to behold, but brighter, bigger, and radiating determination. Now would he latch on to the energy, and with an unyielding will, he /took/ what was desired.
It is as much as an open challenge as the beast would get for the time being…
"Better," spoke Meruin.
"Far better. You can feel it, can you not?" The Mizukage looked at the young man sitting on the other side of him, able to see him far more easily from the light of bijuu's chakra seeping through his pores. "The power running through you — the rush in the veins, the thrum of the skin. It sits well with you."
Meruin's face is harshly lit by the crimson chakra, bleaching the mists of his eyes of any color but a deep red. He saw the new aura of the Jinchuuriki, the straightened posture and the look of suffusive calm that thread through the planes of his face and shoulders. He saw it; And he would break it.
"Now go further. Deeper into the power, Kiyoshi. Deeper than you'd known that you could. We cannot stay here; it is not enough. More, until that rush becomes a flood, a surging in the veins. Until that thrum becomes a tremor, upheaval in the skin.
"Burn in it, Kiyoshi. Burn in it."
A smile gradually grows with every few words of encouragement that flowed from Meruin's voice; though the source is lost to the Moto conscious. The power of the bijuu coursing through skin, bone, and blood renders all else otherwise mute to the boy. It is almost too much to take in. Not to mention next to impossible to resist resurfacing to the surface with what felt like barely a quarter of the creature's energy. He wanted to — needed to move, and run, and just be.
His skin begins to literally ripple from the subconscious desire. Shifts that grew in definition with every passing second. Others might mistake it as the influence of the Bijuu. And in a sense, they would be write. But any Kirryu or those with a similiar bloodline would see them for what they were. Then, there came the command. Doubt tickles the heart of the Moto, rippling outwards visible as a fluctuation in the cloak and air of tension about the man-child. Did he dare to test his spirit so soon?
The question is immediately purged from mind. No ground can be given in the face of overwhelming power, or so his instincts told him. So, he drew closer towards the center, arms closing in from the sides as if to embrace the source. It fights him, burns him, invigorates him, pushes him, but not once does Kiyoshi allow his will to be denied again.
Although his skin and underlying organs seem to settle down, every second Kiyoshi embraces the power his hair bleaches closer to white.
"You are strength," spoke Meruin, the words nearly a command, as though he were demanding that Kiyoshi be nothing less. "You are potency. You are flame and you are tide and gale and quake. Power, Kiyoshi, is the core of you. Natural, primal power. More of it; hold more of it within your grasp. It is with this that you will protect and destroy. With this that you will heal and kill. With this that you will rise and fall. With this that you will understand.
"More," he chanted.
"More," he urged.
One tail is joined by another… and another… and another. All would form within a few brief moments of its predecessor's completion. It is the first time Kiyoshi felt such an on rush of power without hearing and fearing the beast's instinctual desire to be free echoing in mind. It is the first time such power could even be consciously drawn up to the surface. Invigorating though the feeling was, it left him vulnerable as well. It made him arrogant, to be more exact. And why shouldn't he be so?
Power was his core, natural, primal, and undeniable. With he could protect his allies, crush their enemies, drown weakness, shatter —
A single word. All it takes is nothing more simple than that to shake the unshakeable. Only in hindsight did he recall just /who/ the energy belonged to in part, and the nature of that being. Out of desperation Kiyoshi tries to maintain his new sense of self, he latches on to the energy and tries break the connection, consequences be damned. But he pulled too much, and it was already too late. The Gobi's will surfaces as the cloak burning every inch of skin of its host, freeing the blood to seep out and encouraging it to mix with it.
Kiyoshi's breathing starts to become erratic, and what air does escape sounds closer to frustrated growls.
Meruin's words pause…
And he watches…
And he listens…
Ragged moans with bloodied tones, and it is abundantly clear that "It has come." The sensei's face lifts slightly, fire and shadow dancing across his features from the chakra surrounding Kiyoshi. "You have reached the point of limit and dove beyond it. It is here that you have found danger, here that you burn.
"But it is not too late.
"So long as your pulse throbs, there is still hope. Still opportunity. You are still your own. Your body is yours to control; Your mind is your dominion. Fight. Shore yourself up and force the Beast out. Remember why you are here. It is not to lose your control to emotional chakra, it is to gain control. Rise, Kiyoshi. Push.
<Admirable, but foolish.>
Canines begin to elongate. Fingers darken, hardened, and meld in places. As three tails bubble and grow richer in red, a swaying fourth tail inches its way up seconds at erratic intervals of time. None of it is paid mind. The only things Kiyoshi dared to let in was the voice that goaded him before. Even then, he is wary of it. While the beast lacked a visual form, its presence tainted every milimeter of space within the void; his greatest and oldest fear made manifest.
<You know how this must end, Geki. There /is/ no path.>
The fourth tail isn't even fully formed when the top of the bijuu's skull begins to materalize into being. He knew not how that he knew, but the knowledge alone shook him further. In the groundless void even a man stood no chance against of entity of primal power. This, Kiyoshi belatedly began to realize, and it is this too he found himself fighting against. This, and the crushing realization — a misconception, perhaps — that the voice that goaded him on meant to destroy him as well…
His vague sense of renwed self erodes into a shadow of itself within the light, determined only to make the Bijuu's emotion to fight for every inch at this point. To hope for more would be suicide, or the undeniable truth that the mistake brought on by foolish pride could not be learned from.
Ultimately, the transformation finally seems to slow down to a stand still. Seem to, but it is plain enough that outwardly that it is stop gap without any promise of a comeback from inevitable defeat…
Meruin's words continued to flow from him in a stream, voice sliding through the air with dark depth. "Breathe. Concentrate. Push," he commanded.
The Jinchuuriki's sensei lifts his hand, bringing it forward to pierce the crimson chakra, unflinching as it bubbled and burned his flesh. He laid his hand on Kiyoshi's shoulder, his own regenerative abilities seeing the hand constantly un- and remade.
"This is not your fate," he spoke. "You are more than beast. More than conquered. You are power and vulnerability and growth. Love and laughter, light and dark. You are thought and whimsy. You are whole. You are more than the anger and enmity you see now. Look deeper; broaden your perspective to see your totality. Push past the Five Tails' hold.
The body obeys Meruin, or tries to at least, but the mind, heart, and soul struggle to support it without being overwhelmed at the same time. The cloak meanwhile continues to darken and flux in density and pressure. In seeming awareness of the Okumo's intruding hand, it even begins to crawl up the connecting ligament, spreading its corrossive touch as far as it can. Meruin may be used to pain beyond reckoning, but the cloak knew it not or cared about what limits — what sacrifices may be necessary to remove the threat. So long as the host was relatively intact by the end it mattered little.
<You… Are not ready.>
How could he see pass what encompassed the entirety of his vision? How could he allow himself to focus inward while all was being threatened at once? No answer is forthcoming. There are only more questions, and more pain. Agony. If not for the division of mind and spirit, he may have well swallowed his pride to escape it. But… that wasn't him either.
The moment that inkling of a thought passes by in mind, Kiyoshi felt a rapid yet subtle shift in perspective. The shadow of his self-image pressed phantom legs down to brace itself against what should've been nothing but emptiness. What would've been emptiness if he hadn't willed it to be otherwise. The grounded feeling renewed his strength, but alas could do no more than act as a starting point for a comeback.
Meruin's brows furrow, the motion sending shadows overs his eyes until the flickering nature of the chakra sent its red light into it. This was his reaction to the Bijuu's chakra spreading down his arms, his body still keeping up with the damage done to it. If he must suffer as his student did, then so be it. He was here.
"You are ready."
The Okumo's unblinking gaze never wavers from the one before him who struggled between boyhood and manhood. "You are ready for more. Ready for freedom. I can feel it in you, feel it in your fight. Push. Past. These. Bonds, Kiyoshi." His grip on his student's shoulders grows firmer.
"Until victory, push.
"Until relief, push.
"Until satisfaction… Until satisfaction finally comes…
The cloak continues to darken and thicken, and skin and bone shift to accomadate a more bestial presence as the struggle continue. Despite words of encouragement, and even joined suffering, it seemed that all hope would be dashed before long outwardly. Then, there is the flicker of yellow-ish light from the cloak….
The words — the thought was strained and quiet, but no less clear and focus. For an extended moment following those words, all is quiet and still within the void. Then, what was but a flicker of light on the outside grew from within the sole figure within void as its head rose. Kiyoshi… was never very good with words, so there would be no more such nonsense.
He chose instead to let the act of raising his head up against the invading light to take their place.
Beared teeth was the tone.
Phantom muscles quaking, but nevertheless, pressing forward were the voice.
And finally, the undeniable firestorm brewing behind eyes emphasized the point of his message.
There existed parts of him undefined within the moment. Still, what stood now would no longer waver in the face of adversity. As if sensing this, the Bijuu's chakra begins to retreat with the intent to re-examine the boy, only to stop short. With every ounce of willpower and reserve energy within his possession, Kiyoshi did not just tug at the energy like before. He /tore/ it free. The shock alone broke the connection between the two.
Kiyoshi jolts in his seat, conscious and gasping for air while clutching at his chest, ignorant of the change to the cloak about it. A dying cloak orange demoic flames that did not burn everything organic enveloped Kiyoshi…
Kiyoshi's jolting sees Meruin's grip wrested from his shoulder, leaving the Okumo's hand partially extended, hanging in the air before him. The Mizukage was silent as he examined the man before him, the only sound that of chakra and the Jinchuuriki's gasping…
"You've done excellently, Kiyoshi."
Meruin's hand lowers, finding the ground beneath him as he rises to his feet in a single, supple motion. "Very well," he repeated, inclining his head in respect to his student. "This is a huge first step; Our training will go much more swiftly than it could have. You are already further than you knew."
The arms of his robes begin regrowing, spreading to cover the uninjured arm that'd been assaulted under the influence of the Bijuu. "Release the chakra," he told the other, turning his back to the man. "It is not yet yours."
"The Beast is surprised — stunned, in a sense — but it will take its chakra back from you. Now is not the time to fight that battle."
He bends down, a small bag being drawn from the stomach of his robes to be set down beside him before he begins to head off. "Food and water," he said as he began to walk off. "You have earned them. Consume and contemplate. Today marks one of your greatest achievements." Meruin's voice grows quieter as he moves deeper into the darkness.