Date: June 24, 2014
Kiyoshi seeks out Yuuka to find out more about one of the seven swords. He gains what he sought, but at an unexpected price…
"Edge of Reason"
Dammed Arena - Floor [Kirigakure]
At the foot of the great march of bones that dams this tall canyon of blue-gray granite, under the shadows of the stands: the Kirigakure arena. Rivulets of water still escape the base of the dam and dampen the gravely bed of the dry river. The length of the canyon is limited by a raised platform at the south end featuring the referee's post and a large display board announcing the details of the match.
Sandbags are set all throughout the arena. Still soldiers on a still battlefield, silently awaiting their slaughter as the Swordsman slowly paces. Perhaps taking her time gaining her bearings, though… perhaps not. The giant form of the blade strapped to her back makes the young woman's petite frame even smaller, making it a wonder how she's even physically able to carry the blade at all.
Calmly lifting a hand, Yuuka blinks slowly at her palm as a drop or two of blood is spilled, bone steadily emerging into the impressive length of an ivory sword. She shifts her grip on it lightly, just once as the tip is flicked through the air; a sandbag several feet away cleanly spilling it's sandy innards just after.
There were plenty of entrances to choose from. Kiyoshi chose the only one that meant the risk of breaking every bone in his body by dropping down into a canyon with nothing to protect or support him. Nothing except the physical alterations made as the giant fell to what should've been a very painful death, if not a close second. He lands feet first and immediately falls to a kneel, tripping over from the crushed stone or simply doing so in an odd way of absorbing the shock of his fall better.
By word of mouth and scent, Kiyoshi tracked down Yuuka once more with an unusual request in mind. It could've just as well have waited until after his trip with Meruin, but the lack of guarantees of a return made him more mindful of doing everything he could within the time alloted. As noisy as his entrance had been, Yuuka wasn't bound to be caught off guard by it. In fact, she may have even sensed him on account of the bone token from Yuriko.
Despite believing so, Kiyoshi still errs on the side of caution and kept his body poised to morph or move the zanbato he had strapped to his back into place to shield himself from a reflexive attack.
Yuuka had naturally sensed Kiyoshi at the edge of the arena, when he entered. The bone charm that he wore made it easier, but she didn't let on. Rather, she gave him the benefit of the doubt that he was there to observe, rather than for other reasons. He's been a good kid in the past, even if now he isn't necessarily a kid. She watches the bag continue to spill it's sand for a moment, then lifts the ivory blade to again slash through open air, causing a second bag, further away, to also open from a clean slice.
Kiyoshi lands, and the young woman gently lifts a pale brow, a curious thought as she gently rolls her slender shoulders. "It's been a while since the last time you came to find me." she murmurs lightly, humor touching her voice as the blade smoothly rolls in her hand. "Is it about Yuriko-chan again?" Glancing over her shoulder at the boy, or rather man, her eyes sparkle with quiet mirth.
As soon as it seemed safe to move the giant eases himself up into a more solid stance, seeming to shrink a little in the process. He no longer needed the enhanced physcality of a beast known to crush small villages under hoof without so much as a passing notice after all. For now, at least. By the time he has his feet firmly beneath him and the focus to take brief note of the sand spilling, the boy within a man's body has returned to his original stature.
Then, Yuuka speaks, instantly grabbing his full attention as well as earning a respectful bow at the waist. "Hai." Is all he states, stiffly and formally. The same cannot be said of the question. Even now the memory of his foolishness elicited nervous fidgeting and a cheeks to darken slightly as it played back in mind.
"No… though, I.. I still haven't spoken with her yet." He admits, feeling exceptionally guilty now. Still, Kiyoshi is quick to set the feeling aside with an awkward cough behind a raised fist. "I wanted to learn more about the blade on your back." He says evenly, if only just. The eyes betrayed a hint of still being unnerved by the woman before him though…
Seeing the awkwardness, the flush the quickly colors his cheeks, Yuuka couldn't help a small chuckle. It was adorable, really. "A man that hasn't quite grown." she murmurs, "I can only imagine how difficult it must be trying to find your way into your own. Considering the circumstances." She sympathizes with him. Really.
The sword gracefully moves through the air in a slow motion as she turns, focusing her bright eyes on another sandbag with deliberation. "Not unlike my own circumstances…" she murmurs lightly. Hearing his words, Yuuka pauses for a brief moment before turning to glance over her slender shoulder at him. "Kubikiribocho?" she asks. "What is it you wanted to know?" The look in his eyes… she ponders why is it that he seems so unnerved.
The corners of Kiyoshi's lips tilt downward towards a frown, but he doesn't comment on what his sharp ears pick up. The frown eases up into more neutral territory with what is immediatly said next, though for the life of him, the boy cannot understand how. The image of Yuuka as anything other than what stood before him just refused to come to mind.
Instinctively, Kiyoshi masks allowing his eyes to wander to the way she moved the blade by adjusting his glasses and shifting his stance, hiding them behind a glare from the light for a few moments. "Everything." He says bluntly. It was perhaps not the best approach considering their circumstances, but again, he was still trying to stick by his promise to Yuriko… even if it meant trouble from time to time.
Yuuka frowns gently as his blunt reply, pausing a longer moment before turning to face Kiyoshi fully. "What I know about Kubikiribocho of it isn't necessarily a secret, but I'm curious. Why do you want to know about the sword? Why now? Or rather… why me? I'm sure you can get information on it in the library, or from Mizukage-sama if you requested it from him." Perhaps there's more to it than what it appears to be. I couldn't be just idle curiosity.
Kiyoshi jaw grew taut during the silence. Did he make a mistake already? Thankfully, no, or at least, not exactly. Rather than respond immediatly, the moss-haired man seems to turn his attention to the sand bags instead. "It is not just Kubikiribocho that I'm interested in." He admits following a moment of studying the damage wrought by Yuuka's blade from afar. Then, he approaches the second sandbag to be sliced open. "… I have to… I wish to know now because I may not have another chance… And I want to learn about the blades from their current wielders." He says in route, then gives Yuuka a sidelong glance without pausing. "… I wish to learn from their perspective, and only what they'll tell me. Not second hand. And besides—" Kiyoshi finally reaches his destination, and crouches down to examine the damage more closely. "Mer… The Mizukage already has a full enough plate. I rather not add on more to it… even if my request is a simple one." There's a barely noteable bitter edge to his tone near the end, but otherwise, the boy spoke without much else behind his words.
The bone blade in her hand had cut cleanly through the sandbags, each precise and effective without wasting any additional energy. The woman watches him silently at Kiyoshi inspects the second bag with evident curiosity of her handiwork. His reasoning, the way he spoke of the Misukage… her soft lips part ever so slightly as Yuuka tilts her snowy head at him, in much a similar manner as Yuriko. He had reasons, but he wasn't willing to say just what they where. Why he wanted to know about all the swords.
Considering this, Yuuka exhales a small breath through her nose as she reaches up over her shoulder, freeing it from it's wrappings to swing it up over her head, planting it in front of her in the ground. "When I saw light for the first time in twenty years, it was at the hands of a Swordsman. Kaguya Yasushi." she murmurs. "After he passed, I met my husbands, Keisuke, then Yoma. Both being swordsman as well…" Yuuka exhales, but tries to smile gently. "Kubikiribocho was Keisuke's sword. Initially I needed to build up my strength in order to just lift it."
Kiyoshi may have been no expert, but his eyes were keen enough to see the truth as clear as day. To have cut through the bag so cleanly marked a level of skill Kiyoshi could only dream of possessing one day. Although… Did he truly wished to possess such, knowing it meant more than enduring just Kirigakure's spin on acceptable training and spars?
He fights down a sigh, but his shoulders still sag at the thought. His concerns over the matter are short-lived, seeing as how he belatedly recalled not answering Yuuka's main question. He stands and turn, meaning to do rectify that very mistake, but is given pause at the sight of her removing the blade. By the end the story that follows, Kiyoshi is left with questions. Questions that had little to do with his original objective. Lips part, then close again, only to part again a few moments later upon their owner settling on his chosen words.
"And once you did…?"
Her hand remains on the hilt of the huge butcher blade as Yuuka gazes upon it, though after a quiet moment her expression softens. "Once I did, I was able to lift it's weight." she murmurs. "That weight is a reminder of the responsibility that rests on my shoulders. A constant reminder that should always be there, the duty a Swordsman has to Kirigakure, it's people, and the Mizukage. It's one to bear, but I haven't regretted taking up Kubikiribocho." she pats the hilt lightly before her blue green eyes glance up at Kiyoshi. "But every person is different. And every reason they take up their blade is different. I haven't heard them all, but I'm sure their have been some will less noble reasons than my own."
Kiyoshi kept his eyes upon Yuuka the entire time, listening attentively, even though a small part of him still wished to have its other questions asked as well. Ultimately, those questions are forgotten. Or perhaps not forgotten, but more so unworthy of his attention after hearing Yuuka's perspective regarding Kubikiribocho.
"Even so, I would hear of their perspective too." He admits after a brief nod. Then he waits, patiently for Yuuka to explain more regarding the blade.
A small smile touches her soft lips and Yuuka dips her chin in understanding. She gave him warning that there will be different perspectives from the other Swordsmen, so she'll leave it at that. The patient pause after though, he clearly wanted to know more, and it makes Yuuka hesitate. If he knew too much, he could figure out Kubikiribocho's weaknesses too, and she rather avoid it. However…. Yuuka watches him silently, debating to herself for a moment or so before deciding.
"The circles set into the Butcher's blade is that for swift decapitation. And it has an extremely long handle for when it's used, but can dismantled when being carried. It's unique ability… is that Kubikiribocho is able to repair, or heal, itself when in combat through the iron in blood that's spilled on it." she explains calmly, watching his expression.
While not as pronounced as it may be in others, Yuuka's hesitation in saying more is picked up by Kiyoshi. He could understand why even without being told. Nonetheless, he would patiently wait, hiding nothing in his expression or showing any other signs of ill-intent. He truly wished only to learn and nothing more as far as appearances go, as well as concede if need be.
Relief momentarily lights up his eyes when she first starts speaking. It couldn't be help. Aside from his relationship with Yuriko and the fact that he was a Kirigakure shinobi, Yuuka had no reason to trust him with even that much, common knowledge or otherwise. Eyes widen moments later as the blades unique ability is realized. "That's…" He trails off there, brows furrowed deeply. "Amazing." Inadequate perhaps, but the truth from his perspective nonetheless.
The corner of her lips tugs faintly, despite his frown, as Kiyoshi seems to think deeply on the blade's unique characteristic. Yuuka dips her chin with a small nod, shifting the grip on the hilt as she lifts the Butcher blade up over her head, sliding it behind her small frame as tendrils of ivory begin wrapping around Kubikiribocho. "It's effective. Every kill makes sure that it remains sharp and whole."
Kiyoshi doesn't say as much, but the eyes do sort of give away his respect for the woman's strength. He saw her move the blade before of course. Still, that movement paled in comparison of doing so a second time and lifting it well over her head to boot. He wanted to do something. To… test that very strength. His cheeks grew flush, and he immediatly mentally reprimanded himself for allowing his thoughts to drift into that area. He couldn't strike at Yuriko — Yuuka!
"'Cept against a Kugutsu army." He states in a rush, hoping in vain to throw off his perhaps suspect behavior just now. Keeping his eyes on Yuuka however is a challenge.
Yuuka gently lifts a pale brow at Kiyoshi as she spies the color in his cheeks, wondering where his thoughts could have led him for that kind of effect. His reply elicits a slight smirk, though she holds back a chuckle as she lifts a hand to lightly brush back her snowy bangs from her delicate features. "Perhaps, but being Kaguya with regenerative abilities, spilling some of my own blood wouldn't be all that difficult or out of the question." She certainly wasn't one to worry about a little bit of spilled blood.
A thought crosses her mind and Yuuka tilts her head at him, "How much stronger have you become since the seal was removed?" she asks curiously, inquisitive without purposefully being invasive on the matter.
Kiyoshi grows slightly more flush, though for reasons that no longer entailed simply being embarrassed by his own mistake. Whatever feeling elicts as much disappate quickly. More than likely the indirect result of Yuuka brushing her hair back…
"Mm?… Hmm…. My tests have been… inconclusive." He admits, furrowing his brows again. He could attest to having gotten stronger general, smarter and wiser too, if only to a lesser degree compared to physically. But beyond that base understanding he could not say much more. He's been busy working/wrecking his mind more than anything else since the seal's removal.
"Why do you ask?" He asks curiously.
Yuuka frowns quietly as glances him over, evaluating him perhaps in more detail than she had the last time they crossed paths. "Mostly I'm curious if everything aged all at once, both body and mind, or if parts of you still have to catch up after it was removed." she replies, though not elaborating further. After another moment she glances up at his eyes and returns a small, gentle smile. Vivid blue green eyes blinking slowly. "Well, I'm sure that if there were any problems it wouldn't have made itself known by now."
The studious glance instead of an immediate answer elicits a worried look from the boy, though the feeling behind it is short-lived. Instead, his expression becomes a little guarded by the first statement. He loosens up and even smiles back in turn, but he felt strangely unsure of just how to reply to that… or even if he /should/ do so. The moment that thought passes through his mind, Kiyoshi appears guilty. Guiltier still as Yuuka incidently presses the matter with her last statement. "There have been some… problems. Mostly… but nothing you have to worry about, Yuuka-sama." He says, smiling weakly.
The belated reply and the weak smile… it gives Yuuka a brief pause. "San." she murmurs, smiling gently still. "Yuuka-san is perfectly fine." It isn't as if she considered herself his superior or anything, and 'sama' feels too formal to her. She gives him time to reply as she turns to approach one of the closer, undamaged sandbags and, using a nail, cuts the rope from above. The sack falls heavily to it's side, sand shifting inside but wholly undamaged. The young woman calmly lowers herself to take a seat on it, "Pardon me if it seems a little forward of me, Kiyoshi-san, but have you talked to someone about your problems?" Yuuka asks, to the point but trying to be careful of his feelings as well. "Sometimes just talking it out, or getting another's point of view, can help work through what you might be struggling with."
Kiyoshi double blinks, bemused until she went on to explain things. The corners of his lips tilt downwards towards a smile, but he doesn't dare refuse her desires on the matter. He would try to get use. Just no guarantees promised. While she went about making herself a seat, Kiyoshi tried doing just that until he no longer felt he would let slip the -sama during this meeting at least.
"No, not exactly." He admits, averting his gaze towards the ground. "I talked to Akane-san about one of them, at least, something related to them… and would've talked to Yuriko-chan too… mm, n-not about that thing but the, uhm.. other things, you know?" He says, forcing chuckle out.
Her bright, vivid blue green eyes blink slowly at Kiyoshi as she watches him quietly, pale brow lifting ever so slightly when he admits that he hasn't really talked to anyone about his struggles. His shame ever more evident when he averts his eyes, glancing to the ground as if he we still a little kid. Kiyoshi's description… it earns another curious look. "Actually, I don't think I know." Yuuka admits, not even sure what's he talking about. "Is it helping any? Talking about it with people you trust?" From the tone of her voice, he would be able to tell that the Swordswoman was concerned, at least a little bit.
It would seem that the longer he conversed with Yuuka, the more he began to revert to "old" childish tendacies. Even after look up again and focusing his gaze upon her, Yuuka may very well still discern his gaze being leveled at the convient two dots towards the center of her forehead, dipping rarely to actually meet her eyes. He shuffles his feet as well, and as she spoke buried his hands into his jacket pockets to hide twisting fingers from sight. "…. I don't know." And that was the sad truth of it all. He has only talked to Yuuka, Akane, and his brothers so far. The latter of which tendacy to try and dissuade him from worrying
about things having only made him angry instead. As he thought back to one such moment, Kiyoshis' brows furrowed.
The shuffling of his feet, the fleeting glances and pointed avoidance. Her expression changes subtly and a small breath parts her lips. With a shift of her weight, she leans back on her makeshift seat and rests a hand on one of her knees. "Kiyoshi, I'm not your mother, your sensei, or even an older sister. I'm not going to reprimand you or question your past choices. You're an adult, and it isn't my place. But Yuriko cares for you, so I do have a reason to ask about your well-being." Yuuka's expression softens. "But if you don't need to talk either, that's fine too. Just… be careful keeping things in, okay?"
Kiyoshi's jolts at the first phrase to leave her mouth, and locks his gaze with Yuuka's own fully now. Everything about him grew tense as she spoke on, then eased somewhat as the reminder that he was no longer a child sank in. The reminder brought him on the verge of tears, but not a drop falls. Not yet, at least. "… Mmm.." He emits, inclining his head forward. He wouldn't cry, but nor did he feel any better as well. Why did he have to jump the gun with the seals…?
"Thank you, Yuuka-sam… Yuuka-san." He says emptily.
Her expression remains soft, sympathetic for a brief moment before Yuuka pushes herself smoothly to her feet. The few steps she takes towards him brings her closer, and a hand touches his shoulder. "If you ever do want to talk, I would be more than happy to listen." she murmurs, before the hand falls away. She won't pressure anymore. "Hm, is there anything else you wanted to speak to me about, before I make my way back to the Kaguya village?"
Kiyoshi kept his head bowed from the moment she rose to her feet to the instance she entered his peripheral. Being as big as he is, he sees her well before she reaches out to place a hand on a shoulder. His eyes immediatly went to it, and for a few moments Kiyoshi was even tempted of stepping out of range or shaking it off even. But as much as it pained him to accept the facts, Kiyoshi clenched his teeth behind closed lips in an effort to not let his spite ruin the moment. He would try… and to an extent, he would fail. "No… Thank you for your time, Yuuka-sama." He states formally. Rather or not at that point she withdrew the hand or not, Kiyoshi steps away to bow fully at the waist, then turned to walk away, arms trembling slightly with every step.
The frown lightly touches her brow as she watches him, a boy that had become a man all too soon, and the formal stance he switches to yet again tell her that he's drawing back into his shell again. Perhaps… she had hurt his feeling somehow. He bows, turning to walk out of the arena without so much of another word. Yuuka merely sighs, watching his back as he disappears from view. Seems like things aren't going to get any better for the Moto anytime soon.