Date: June 14, 2014
Various events have seen to the need for Kiyoshi to undergo rigorous training to bring him control over the beast within. Meruin decided to see it started with a conversation with the beast.
"Conquer and Control - First or Final Steps?"
Unnamed Island outside of the Land of Water
Meruin crested the lip of the cliff, coming to a stop.
The Mizukage has chosen to communicate with the tailed beast within his student directly. To have him given enough free reign to speak through the Moto man. There's danger in the act, the potential that it could lead to the beast wreaking havoc and causing destruction. As such, he'd decided on a secluded location away from the island nation of the Land of Water.
After meeting with Kiyoshi, he'd led him on a two hour run over the surface of the ocean, leaving the view of their home on the horizon and ending at the top of a windswept cliff here. A sheer faced island, it's surface covered by fairly dense forestation, where any destruction would be restricted to the local fauna and flora. And, of course, the two who'd come here.
The Okumo looked towards Kiyoshi, daylight dying behind him.
A note here, a word there, and then it was time for Kiyoshi to leave his home for the past three — four years behind; possibly forever as one of the living. Despite the dreadful line of thought, Kiyoshi knew that looking back even once after they started moving would only run the risk of shaking his resolve. It was a risk he could not make. Nor would he for that matter.
As a precaution, Kiyoshi brought not just the clothes on his back, but also his favored giant kitchen cleaver like sword from his youth, a few over night supplies in a satchel, and what minor tokens he could fit in said satchel. Meruin may not have approved of bringing anything given the circumstances, but Kiyoshi was determined to prepared for any difficulties they might meet along or at their destination.
Senses heightened by training and genetics are immediately turned upon scanning for any signs of life once they arrive. Only once satisfied did the giant as big as the setting sun from Meruin's perspective set his gaze upon the man.
"Where to now?"
Meruin inclined his head to Kiyoshi at his question, acknowledging it as a statement of preparedness. "Come," he spoke and turned back towards the forests, stride long and swift as he approached them, soon parting the shadow of the forest and leaving the eye of the sky behind.
The walk, though through the untamed terrain, was not a very long one. It was perhaps twenty minutes of travel made in silence, the man choosing not to comment on Kiyoshi's possessions then as he had chosen not to earlier. It ended in the trees parting way to give sight to a huge lake, the expanse of it so vast that it undoubtedly holds the center of the island rather than the forest, innumerable gallons of water slowly shifting in their darkening hues.
"There is where the five tails and I shall speak," declared Meruin after he came to a stop a few feet away from the lake's start, pointing off into its core. He turned to look towards Kiyoshi then, saying, "Light a fire here, on the beach. Make sure it burns bright and that it will burn long. And then… when you are ready. Come to me and join me in meditation. We will begin afterwards."
There was a pause, an opportunity to speak or question. If nothing were to come, however, he would simply start off onto the lake, stepping across it with no less surety than he did the land, making his way to the center of the waters descend into a seated position to meditate.
Despite the command, Kiyoshi lingers at the beach for a few moments more to study the higher levels of the forest first. Afterwards he catches up pretty easily with strides that cut down the distance between the two in mere seconds. As for the remainder of the twenty minute trip, the giant remains silent and focused solely on Meruin throughout it. As much as the unfamiliar surroundings concerned him Meruin trumped it by far by simply being himself.
After a mere nod in acceptance of the order, Kiyoshi wordlessly took off into the surrounding forestry to find adequate fuel for a pyre. What thoughts and questions may have plagued the Moto both before and now would be kept to himself. For now. It was — for him at least — a matter of trying to show trust in his Mizukage.
When Kiyoshi joined Meruin at the center of the lake, the center of the island, the Okumo spoke the word "Sit," and gestured to the water before him. The man, himself, was already seated in the lotus position, the backs of his hands resting on his knees in a traditional meditative position. His eyes were hooded, lids drawn low over his misted gaze. "We shall meditate until it is time."
There was little here to distract a person, here. There was the quiet sound of the gently lapping waves passing underneath and the subtle brush of the occasional breeze that slid over their surfaces. Fish passed underneath, some far and some near and off in the distance, on the shore, stood the pyre made by Kiyoshi. In the slowly failing light, there was nothing else of note than the two of them.
"You do not close your eyes," spoke the Okumo once the other took his seat, hands rising into a dragon seal. The current in the air shifted faintly, staying closer to the pair, a constant caress against the skin. "You allow them to close," he continued, voice growing deeper and more languid, words suffusing, sifting through the sheltering air. They took on an almost rumbling, throbbing quality.
"You do not force your breathing to slow… you relinquish your hold over it. As in sleep, the mind floats… and the lungs go on without it. And then you simply listen to it… Listen to it… Listen to it…. Listen.. to it… Listen… to it… Listen… to… it… Listen.."
"Follow it down…"
Kiyoshi awkwardly entwines his fingers together and starts to closes his eyes just as soon as Meruin mentioned it being timed. They are hardly closed for more than a second or two before the Okumo's first command snaps him back to attention. The rest the giant takes in with his eyes firmly glued to the man from their respective corners, though gradually, they return to the fore as he speaks.
As a boy that prided himself on self-control (even if his past didn't quite always reflect it), Kiyoshi does slip into the trance so easily. His mind kept finding new things to distract itself from diving inward.
Sometimes it would be his imagination…
Other times, some imagined pattern in how the breeze stirred the leaves…
There's even a moment when his muscle twinges are…
Seemingly without cause or warning, the world begins to fall away from the boy. No longer would the mind grasp at straws out of some foolish notion of pride, rebellion, or genuine curiosity. All that mattered was the descent into darkness…
The descent into darkness, experienced both within and without. As the pair allowed themselves to drift off into the calm and dark and silent, the world around them did the same, the sun's last fingers finally letting their grip slip on the world. All was dark but for the silent pyre shifting in the distance, the lone anchor to a place of light and color. And as this place was reached…
"It is time… Bring him to me."
The words issued by Meruin were but a whisper to Kiyoshi, echoing from everywhere and nowhere at once within the darkness. Instinctively, he tried to shut it out, but could resist it little more than he could fight the need to descend further. So, although he would do as bade, the descent came first. He had to dive further until at last he felt the familiar enclosure of the stone walls that made-up the spiraling staircase. Kiyoshi did not pause to stop and consider how he got there, where 'this' was, or anything else for that matter before moving on down. He only stayed mindful of the fact that there would be no going back. The path behind him (them?) evaporated with every step into darkness…
The apprehension threatened to overwhelm him well before the steps leveled out at the entrance of a titanic chamber; if it could even be called that. No matter which direction he looked there was no wall or horizon in sight, only more darkness and the impression of columns holding up a distant ceiling. Another disturbingly familiar setting, but again, he would not pay his surroundings any more heed than what he needed to. Which for him meant a straight-forward walk towards the presumed center of the chamber.
A ring of braziers lit with blue flames and in various stages of decay surround a giant pool of water. Dead center of the pool floated a single paper seal. "Why do you persist?" The question precedes the speaker stepping around one of the columns towards the right of Kiyoshi. Kiyoshi doesn't dare look towards the newcomer or speak. The apparition bore the body and clothing of his youth with but one addition: three, furry white tails hovering around protectively. The same number of tails that the cloak of chakra surrounding him in reality sported…
Meruin's eyes slid fully open…
With an explosion of light and violence, the calm body of his student was wreathed in the corrosive chakra of the tailed beast that he had descended into the dark to find. The Okumo remained seated and still, heartrate not only remaining steady but falling slower as he watched the red chakra coalesce around Kiyoshi, the trio of tails forming at his back.
Now there was darkness, and two points of light.
Good evening, Kokuo," spoke Meruin smoothly, inclining his head to the Jinchuuriki, knowing that the tailed one could hear him. "It has been some time, last that we'd spoken. And it seems that you and Kiyoshi have been busy in that time."
His younger 'self' cants his head to the side as if to prompt further questioning. But once it becomes clear there would be no speaking on Kiyoshi's part, the apparition shakes its head as it moves on to circle the boy. Starts to at least before something drew 'his' attention back to the stairwell. The youth spares its older counterpart one last extended look before making 'his' way to the stairs; leaving its elder counter-part to fume silently as he stared at the pool…
In the world beyond the boy's mindscape, the jinchuuriki eyes flutter open, revealing them to be stark contrast of their former selves in just about every way. Although Kokuo regards the Okumo, he doesn't return the gesture in kind. It is faint, but perhaps on some level Meruin would see that the beast seems insulted in some way. Perhaps speaking its name and in such a familiar way riled it up the bijuu despite its borrowed visage conveying patience and calm.
In any case, at least he had Kokuo's attention for the time being, and not in the unpleasant variety like last time.
Kokuo's eyes, his attention, but not his words.
Once these things became clear to Meruin, he simply continued onwards. "I have called to commune with you," he informed the beast. "To inform you that Kiyoshi has just begun the training that will lead to his mastery over you."
The Mizukage's eyes, lit by the red light of Kokuo's chakra, remained steady on the man before him as he continued. "I will not ask for your compliance or your approval. We know as you do. That should a Jinchuuriki ever give in fully to the beast within them that they will die and bijuu released. Destroying Kiyoshi is your key to freedom, and I would not expect you to give that up, whether you say you would or not.
"Furthermore, we don't need it. Your approval will mean nothing by the end of our dealings. The relationship between a Jinchuuriki and their beast is a clash of wills with eachother and death. As they use your chakra, your very psyche bonds with the energy, and it is with this that you attack, this that causes Kiyoshi's struggle. All he requires is finding the strength to win that battle as it comes.
"And I will show it to him. You have pushed him too far across the battlefield, five tails, and it is the reason you will know subjugation. If you cannot stomach cooperation then you will suffer slavery. Kiyoshi is stronger than you give him credit for and the owner of a heart that knows of sacrifice for something more than himself." Not the least of which being the honor of a brother's memory and those he sought to protect. "He will overcome. He will gain control. And you will not be able to stop him.
"Not while I stand at his back."
Kokuo listens to it all with but one moment in which the impassive visage is broken. That moment being Meruin's blatant statement that Kiyoshi would gain mastery over him, as if the beast was merely just that and not some sentient being. Fingers as sharp as its horn and as hard as its hooves are dug into Kiyoshi's palm, eliciting no wince of pain. Just blood…
Within the inner world, Kiyoshi winces as pain blossoms in his own hands. The sharp smell of blood more than confirmed what happens, but still he turns them over to see the marks for themselves. Normally such marks would've sealed by the time he even thought to look at the wound. But he was not in a normal place. "There's only one thing that would anger you enough for this to happen." He mutters darkly under breath. As if in response to that very same statement, a single, barely noticeable wave passes over its surface starting from its center before the waters still again…
"You misplace blame, Okumo, and by those very same terms, you would doom your student to same life as one such as yourself." A life of constantly watching his back even more so than before. A life of having to take what he wants, even if so much more could be gained by other means. A life of struggle within and without long after the boy has learned how to take the strength of the bijuu, dooming whoever else follows in his foot steps to a poisonous relationship from the start.
"But no matter… You will provide for him one path, and a means to see it through… Though know that your short-sightedness and arrogance will bring about more than the ruination of simply this boy's spirit." Kokuo states plainly and with conviction, gaze unwavering in its focus upon the Okumo's eyes.
Meruin's gaze remains locked on the other's alien eyes, undaunted by the tailed beast's conviction. "You underestimate Kiyoshi's strength. He could not be me any more than I could be him. He has too much heart for it to be destroyed in the way you imply, however often he tries to bury it. And he is too stubborn to do away with it, besides."
The Mizukage's chin lifts slightly now. "Now know that you make one assumption you simply should not. You, Gobi, are not Kiyoshi's life. How we deal with you need not be how he handles his every moment. So yes. I will provide him this path, and the means to see it through. And once he has walked it, he will have the freedom to live the rest as he chooses, no longer having to fear your influence guiding him to kill those he loves and seeks to protect.
"The way is set, five tails. It has begun."
Kokuo eyes narrow as Meruin speaks. Beyond that, it — /he/ chose not to go along with another display of power again. Only listen, even though the corner of his borrowed eyes betrayed a twitch denoting at least mild irritation at some of which that was spoken. Once all is said and done, the bijuu closes his eyes and goes silent for an extend time.
"You still understand so little, especially-…" The beasts eyes are opened, though their focus remains upon the water from between narrowed slits. "… That matters not." The cloak begins to fray and dissipate with that statement. And with it, so too would the Bijuu's influence on the surface. "We will see before long just how true the words are, Okumo."
And on that note, the last traces of Kokuo's conscious flees from the moss-haired giant's eyes, though enough lingers to keep the boy afloat atop the waters surface until his conscious fully returns. The word fully being a stretch, considering the lingering disorientation in they way he way he held himself.
Meruin gives no response to the notion of his ignorance from the beast, simply silent until it ceased speaking and began to retreat. "Aye. We shall see," he said, respectfully inclining his head by the end of things. "May your path be a gentle one."
The farewell given, the Mizukage took a few moments to study the dazed Kiyoshi. The results of his silent introspection, the thoughts that moved through his mind, remained locked out of sight of any who might search for them. He didn't linger there, though. Darkness had returned in full once more, the only illumination that of the fire in the far distance and the speckling of stars in the clear night sky.
"Moto Kiyoshi. Come… Let us return to the light."
The command is heard, though not immediately followed. The last of the daze needed to be shook off first, both literally and figuratively. Even after he rose sluggishly, wondering just how much time had passed since the whole thing began. But despite his concern, the moss-haired giant kept his thoughts to himself, and merely took up whatever position Meruin does or suggest once they stood by the fire, uncaring or blissfully ignorant to the dampness of his pants.
Once Kiyoshi has adequately roused himself and begun to rise, Meruin lifted himself to his feet in a single supple motion. The Mizukage's student was little more than a shade within shadow to his unenhanced vision, nothing illumining his features now that the chakra cloak had gone.
"We have things to discuss, young Jinchuuriki. Soon enough, I will lead you to the training grounds and your new home until this training is complete and you have learned control. But first…" His hands raises, pointing to the fire in the distance. "Let us sit by the fireside.
"We must rest before we act."