Date: February 26, 2011
The journey into the island of the Gentle Mist Monks continues and some questions are answered. Not all of the answers are pleasant.
"Gentle Mist - Within"
Uncharted Island - Land of Fire
The path down into the depths of the island is dark, but not unpleasant. Most human beings have at least an INSTINCTIVE fear of being buried alive, if not a conscious one. Even a claustrophobic person would be mildly uncomfortable at best in this situation. The walls of the passage that Team 5 walks down smell earthy. Moist. Healthy. They give off a feeling of being welcomed home, rather than seperated from the world above. It feels… SAFE here. It feels like becoming one with Nature itself.
Fuyu doesn't like it. She doesn't like it because she DOES like it. She feels soothed for once… And that makes her suspicious. Still, that suspicion gradually bleeds out of her no matter how much she tries to cling to it. She follows this 'Gaia' down the stairs, and she wonders how powerful the younger woman is. Is she the one radiating this presence? Is it the island? The old man that vanished? The 'Stone of Nature'? What is responsible for her feeling more relaxed and at ease than she has ever felt in her entire life? Not even being around Madara made her feel like this…
Hinotori should be waking up at this point. All he has to do is make it clear he is functional again and he can be set down to walk alongside them or whatever he wishes to do.
Taji is a bit out of sorts at the moment. From the news that the pair (the girl and her sensei) wanted her here to the fact that her team suddenly knows the truth about her gender, it makes for a rather akward walk. Taji keeps back a tad, as if afraid to get too close to Fuyu as the group descends into the passageway. The soothing nature of it is oddly comforting and the island was Taji's home for a long time so this is a bit of a homecoming for her as well. She can't help but glance past Fuyu to the skipping girl from time to time then glancing at Nobu, frowning a tad. How will the rest of the team take all of this news? And how is she supposed to help by teaching this 'Gaia' girl? Taji shakes her head a tad, as if trying to shake lose the uncertainty but it doesn't seem to help as the team continues downwards.
After a bit Taji does ask, "Fuyu-sama? You're sure no one was watching us from the shoreline, right? Or pretty sure?" She asks, as she considers who might have been watching the island to see who was going there.
Considering how desperate the situation seemed just a minute or so ago, Nobu welcomes the comforting atmosphere, though he's not sure if it's the product of this place he's entering, or simply relief at everything working out okay. That said, he's still got a lot to think about. First, there's the matter of Taji's real identity and how it relates to this place and these people. Then there's the even more confusing topic of these 'Sage Stones' and what's happening with them. He's certain he's never heard of them in his entire life, but from the conversation that just took place, they're easily the most important of the matters at hand.
He remains silent during the descent into the earth, though he glances from person to person, paying particular attention to Taji and the Earth-Child, Gaia. He'd be doing the same for Harusada too, except he seems to be gone for the moment.
Well for one who pretty much let his guard down, or seemingly done so. Hinotori missed a large amount of what happend after his knock out, but now as his team enter into this cave like structure, Hinotori slowly starts to come to. His eyes take a few moments to adjust, but he feels taht he is being carried as well as they are in some cave or cavern. "Let me down please." he says in a low voice. "I'm alright and awake." he says.
Fuyu sets down Hinotori and says, "I'm not sure of much right now. The situation has been changed drastically since we first set out on this mission." She resumes walking down the stairs and says, "But I don't think us coming to this island was a coincidence. It may be that it was hidden before and was revealed to us on purpose." She eyes Gaia. "What do you know about that? Were we brought here or is this place accessible to anyone?"
Gaia keeps smiling as she answers, "Everyone is connected." She then turns around and starts leaping down the stairs, five at a time. Fuyu just sighs. "Wonderful." Eventually, the four of them catch up with Gaia at the bottom of the stairs. The cave is… Austere, at best. No furniture aside from some mats and a single low table. Maybe some rocks that can double as chairs. A few side-caves branch off, but otherwise this is a small place to house an entire order of Monks. Fuyu says as much.
Harusada emerges from one of the caves with a bowl of stewed vegetables. He retains his human-looking form and texture. All the details of his self in life, when he was flesh and blood, remain. Just… In the form of granite and dirt. He sets the bowl down on the middle of the table. Then he responds to Fuyu's words. "This is not where our Order dwelled, Uchiha-san. This place is new. It was created to serve the purposes of this meeting. Our Order remained on the surface previously. But as you may have noticed, many of our structures were destroyed when the volcano erupted." He seats himself, legs folded beneath him, and places five ceramic bowls on the table — one for each of the people present. But not a sixth for himself. For perhaps obvious reasons, Harusada will not be eating.
"Please rest. If you have questions, ask them. First, however, I must give thanks." Then he places his hands together and bows his eyes. He seems to be silently praying or perhaps meditating.
Taji had carefully avoided doing too much in the way of prayer and mediation in front of others since leaving the island, and while she takes a spot at one of the places, she nods once and takes a similar pose. Being a tad rusty, she slips into the long practiced position. The monks were vegitarian, so Taji is hopeful that the food offered today will be the same. She seems to be doing her best not to draw too much attention to herself in this mess. She watches Gaia but other than that she's apparently doing her best to fade back a bit and let the others take the lead for the moment.
Taji did give a bit of a nod when there was mention of the order living above before the eruption and offers, softly, "The eruption happened quite some time before the latest disaster. The island was always shrouded in fog and mist though, so often not seen by passers by." A simple explaination that really doesn't explain the how, just the why on a few things. Once meditation before the bowl is done Taji frowns a tad, as she looks to Gaia, wondering if she will be eating or not, and if so what she'll eat.
Nobu doesn't feel overly hungry right now, but follows suit and takes a seat at the table. Considering the way his stamina was drained by the earlier sprint across the island, it's probably a good idea to eat anyway. He'll certainly be hungry /later/ if he doesn't. It's easy enough to give Taji and Harusada some basic respect and let them 'give thanks' before he digs in, however, so he waits until they're done before he turns his attention to the stew. He starts by surreptitiously smelling it, not sure what a stone man's cooking might be like, then begins to eat slowly and methodically. "If it was covered by mist before," he begins, pausing in his eating for a moment, "why isn't it now? Did something happen, or is it intentional?"
As he is set down, Hinotori stretches some and allows the others to keep going. Once he was done he follows his team down the stairs, "I take it we are still on the island." he says. Noting Taji hanging back a little bit, he studies his team mate, but doesn't ask of anything from her for now. As they get to the bottom of the stairs and the room they are now in is a bit spacious, not overly so, but it seems to be able to hold a decent grouping of people. Hinotori blinks and stops as he notes Harusada, 'A man of rock, thats who I heard.' he thinks to himself as he watches the monk place a bowl of steamed vegetables onto the table along with a few bowls. As he sits and begins to give prayer, followed up by Taji, Hinotori would watch as Nobu moves to sit down. Hinotori on the other hand moves and takes a place opposite of his team where Gaia is sitting, mainly to have more of a view so that he is able to see everyone. He doesn't reach for any food until told that it was alright, prayer is something he himself took the time to do before eating so for now he will only wait.
Harusada finishes his prayer. The stew is warm, there is no meat in it at all, and it tastes very good. If one likes vegetables, at least. He answers Hinotori and says, "Yes, you are still on the island. Just within it, for now." Gaia watches as Nobu starts eating. She watches very intently. The use of the spoon, the way the mouth works, all of it. She is completely and utterly fascinated with Nobu eating, apparently!
Fuyu seats herself slowly and examines the stew from a distance. She is not hungry right now and she would rather make sure everything is safe. Otherwise she may regret it later. Fuyu looks towards Hinotori as he sits around silently and doesn't even pretend to be unaware of what happened. He is asking no questions, not interacting with anyone, and basically just being useless. She wonders why she keeps him around sometimes. "Hinotori!" she snaps to try to get his attention. "Perhaps you would like to inquire with our 'host' as to why you were taken hostage? Or was this all for show and you went willingly?" Sarcasm is very much part of her inquiry for the second part. Why is Hinotori just sitting around acting like nothing is wrong!?
Despite the soothing environment, it doesn't take much to set Fuyu off, apparently.
Harusada seems unperturbed and says, "The mist that shrouded the island was 'woven' into place gradually, and then maintained through the efforts of multiple people. We had a schedule where everyone contributed a small part of his Chakra to the mist. Over time, this Chakra mist would build up and require little maintenance at all. It was disrupted heavily by the eruption, however."
Gaia eventually decides to try eating on her own. She takes up one of the earthware spoons and replicates Nobu's hand movements to the best of her ability, before trying to eat the stew. She samples it, works it around in her mouth, just experiencing taste for the first time. And eventually she swallows. She looks over towards Taji, noticing her watching. She smiles and says, "Hi!" She must like greeting people.
There is some hesitation on Taji's part, once prayers are done. She sits there, uneasily. She watches Gaia a tad then as she's greeted she tries to put on a smile and waves, "Um, hi…" She offers back, akwardly. She looks back at Harusada, "Sensei…. please, waht am I supposed to be doing? You said you needed me here? Something about teaching this other girl?" She asks, as she glances back to Gaia, then back to her mentor, "I'm just… I mean, I've studied the scrolls you gave me but I'm no master. Fuyu-sama here would be a far better teacher for something this important, wouldn't she?" She glances back at her team leader then back to the stone-y monk.
Taji isn't that hungry yet either but considering the situation she takes a bite or two of the stew, grateful for cooking she recognizes as 'home'. She watches the interplay between Hinotori and Fuyu but doesn't comment on it. She also watches Nobu a bit, and Gaia's attempts to copy Nobu. She tilts her head and studies Gaia a tad, "First time eating?" She finally asks of the other girl, not quite believing what she is seeing at the moment, and still trying to wrap her head around the rather complex developments that have occured so far in the last hour or so.
Some people might be unnerved by someone intensely watching them eat, but aside from pausing in his eating for a moment to stare back at her, Nobu doesn't appear to be too fazed by it. He does glance from Fuyu to Hinotori when Fuyu snaps, but actually makes a conscious effort not to involve himself in this in any way. It might have something to do with the both of them being an Uchiha, but either way it does not concern him.
He does stop to question Harusada once more, however. "Has this island always been in this spot? The mist could hide it from someone looking at it from far away, but what if a boat were to run aground here? The reason I made note of it in the first place was because I didn't see it on the map, but it seems unlikely that nobody would discover something so close to the mainland, mist or no." Besides that, some of the rock formations he'd seen earlier looked broken. He's no geologist, but perhaps there's been some kind of upheaval… especially considering the disaster that brought the team out here in the first place.
Hinotori still taking in everything, and as Harusada speaks to him and informs him that they are still on the island he nods once. He then begins looking around from where he is sitting, just surveying the room. But when Fuyu addresses him, his eyes narrow slightly, he turns and looks to her for a moment. "What makes you think I wasn't going to?" he asks her simply. A low Jounin that he may be, there is some respect that one should show to one another and as he catches the others seem to not involve themselves in this quarl, Hinotori focuses on Fuyu. He didn't like it when she got like this, "So that you understand me a bit, I've been taking in everything that has been said, and allowing some of the questions I did have be answered as you all asked Harusada and Gaia." he states. His voice is calm and still pleasent as he normally speaks.
Bowing his head to Fuyu respectfully, "I operate a little different then others when it comes to situations as this. It's unknown, but with our team being inquisitive, espeically seeing as this is something to do with order Taji is apart of. I still have questions, which I will ask." With that, Hinotori looks away from Fuyu, trying not to cause a scene, even though one was caused in front of their host. "It may be a bit self explained, but why was a genjutsu used against me and me kept as a hostage?" Hinotori asks as he looks to Harusada.
Harusada answers Taji after a moment of thought. He is not eating, so it is not a pause to chew. "I mean no offense to our guests, but Uchiha-san is not the best choice for a teacher of the Earth-Child. Gaia needs to be taught everything about humans. She needs to be shown what our Order is like… What we value, what we promote, and how we try to fix problems. If she learns from us that humans are worth saving, then she will help save us all. If she is exposed to too many negative influences, however…" The marble eyes of Harusada gradually move to indicate Fuyu and then turn back to Taji. "…She may choose not to help us. Or perhaps even do the exact opposite."
The implication that Nature itself might want humans removed from the equation is perhaps a disturbing one… But hopefully it also makes Taji realize the importance of her duty. She has to serve as a living example of the Order and an example of all the good that exists in human beings. Fuyu tears her attention away from Hinotori to focus on Harusada. She did not miss the implication or the brief glance. "So I'm not 'good' enough to teach her, huh?" she asks acidly. Gaia takes a moment to observe Fuyu and her anger. She frowns. This is the first time she has done anything other than smile so far. Maybe she's just trying out the facial expression. Or maybe she has just 'learned' a new emotion. She then turns back to Taji to answer the question. "No!" she says cheerfully in response to whether this is her first time eating or not. It seems as though more might be forthcoming, but… She just keeps sitting there and smiling at Taji.
Harusada sighs and says eventually, "The island was here… But the mist serves as more than mere visual concealment. It can fog the mind as well… Similar to the 'Genjutsu' used by ninja. Unless one knows the exact location of the island and has suitable protection, one can not find it. One would enter the mist, and subconsciously navigate around or away from the island with no recollection that it was even there." A very brief pause and then Harusada adds on, "Or that was the case before. I have to rebuild the mist shroud from the beginning now. And doing it alone is a very slow and taxing process. I do not even have any Chakra to do it with anymore. I have to borrow it from birds, fish, and insects."
Turning his attention on Hinotori, he says, "I tried to explain before, but there were other concerns. The Ninjutsu that Uchiha-san used was influence by the clouding of the mind via Chakra mist. The intention was for it to invite you here, lead you here, or otherwise simply 'bring' you are. There were no specific instructions beyond that. It behaved as the original person would have, with the knowledge the original possessed. If it felt that the only way to bring you all here was by making you a 'hostage', then that would be what it would do. And it did. I offer my apologies again for any harm inflicted."
The weight of this news and the rather interesting way her sensei indicates Fuyu's demeanor might be a tad 'rough' for such teachings, makes Taji frown a tad. She peers back at Gaia for a moment or two then says, "So… I need to teach you the ways of the order of the Gentle Mist Monks, and… what it means to be, well, human?" She asks, trying to make sure she understands. It is easy to see Taji looks a tad overwhelmed by the implications as well. She squints a bit then says, "I'll do my best but… there are a lot of other things going on. I'm not sure how safe it might be for her to go with us, Sensei?" She says as she looks over at Harusada, "I mean, we were on a mission, to find out what ravaged the coast. There was some fear it might even be one of the tailed beasts, or something even worse, if there is such a thing."
She looks over at her team, Nobu, Fuyu, Hinotori, and then back to Gaia, "I wouldn't want you to get hurt accidentally." She points out, "I hate to think what something happening to you would mean for… well, the planet." She seems thoughtful about what this might mean, and how best to approach things. But something Harusuda just said seems to finally register, "Wait, you… you're using chakra from the plants and animals on the island? Does that mean we are at some risk?" She asks, nervously.
Taji seems to be carefully avoiding the whole 'Fuyu isn't good enough' topic, for rather obvious reasons, not wanting to touch that with a ten foot pole. Or any other way, it seems.
It's starting to seem like everyone at this table is going to be at everyone else's throats by the end of this, and Nobu wants no part of it. Much as he'd like to ask what quality of Fuyu's would give Gaia the wrong impression, this seems like a bad idea. One of his worst, even. Asking the island itself seems like a safe bet, at least, so it's probably better to keep on that topic. "Those buildings up on the surface," he says, "They looked very unusual. I've never seen that sort of architecture before. But I haven't seen anything else that would indicate that you come from… an unfamiliar culture. Are they actually your buildings?"
Noticing that Fuyu may have dismissed him, Hinotori ignores it. This isn't the time to be having any reprimanding in front of an island that is monk who is ancient. Listening to Harusada as he explains that Gaia will need Taji to help her train her, and that Fuyu isn't the best teacher to do that properly. As the words came out of the rock monks mouth, Hinotori already knew that was the wrong thing to say as Fuyu speaks up questioning the monk. Feeling that he should say something, Hinotori starts but stops, there is plenty of reasons for him to possibly say this, and it's mainly due to the fact that they need Taji becasue she is apart of the Gentle Mist Monks and may be able to get across their teachings better. "It's alright Gaia." he says to the girl when she frowns, but when the girl brightens up when asked if she ate before causes him to smile a little.
Looking over to Taji as she seems to take everything in, nodding his head as Taji explains that they are on a mission and that he still thinks there may be a tailed beast on the loose which if it's in the surrounding area, it may be possible that it knows where they are. But pushing that thought away, "Harusada-sama, as far as what was done to me it's alright. I wasn't hurt, and now we are here learning of you and the Gentle Mist Monks, I know there isn't a whole lot you can tell us, but what you have helps." he says. "One of my concerns is, are you going to be wanting Taji-san to stay here or do you want Gaia to come with us after we leave?" he asks. "Like Taji-san said, we still are on a mission and it could be very dangerous." he states backing up Taji.
Glancing over to Nobu, he notes the other male still eating and it dawns on him that there is food, and right now he is a little famished and he starts to put some veggies into the ceramic bowl and eats a little of the vegetables. He didn't see the buildings on the surface, but listens to the conversation.
Harusada says, "She is to travel with you, yes. Whether that be on your mission or on a trip home… She needs to see the world through human eyes." Fuyu lets the other matter drop. "Do you know anything about the cause of the destruction? Or did you not notice?" Harusada shakes his head. "I noticed. I can not say what it WAS, but I know what it was NOT. It was not anything natural." Gaia smiles at Taji and tilts her head. "Get hurt?" she asks. Then she asks it again in a more confused tone. "Get… Hurt?" She turns her head to look at the head of the Gentle Mist Monks. "I can be hurt?" Harusada answers, "I am not sure. Was your body made with an understanding of injury? Of pain?" Gaia rubs her left cheek with one hand. She 'hmmmm's thoughtfully. "I can learn," she says. Not really an answer, but… Maybe it is more of an answer than anyone wanted to hear. She can LEARN how to be injured? She can LEARN how to feel pain?
Harusada says, "You are not at risk here, no. As I said, I borrow energy from the animals who live on or visit the island. Small amounts. I then return it when I am done with it. The longer they live here, the more they will become 'part' of the island. Eventually it will become a truly symbiotic relationship. Their Chakra is given to me. In exchange, Natural Energy is given to them. They will become healthier, stronger, and perhaps even more intelligent… But that will not happen for a very long time, if ever." Finally, after some thought, the Head Monk says, "We did not make the buildings. But we made use of them. They were already here when our Order was founded. We believe they are connected to the Stone of Nature — or at least whomever buried it here. And it has been here, untouched, for at least one-thousand years."
Fuyu sighs and rises. She is not going to eat, apparently. "I think our current mission can be put on hold. A new objective has been provided that is a bit more important." She looks around at the cave. It feels safe here. Gaia would be better off staying. But she needs to be taught, and Fuyu is not staying here so that Taji can act as teacher. 'The world needs to be seen'. "Tch," she lets out. "Come on, let's get going. We're returning to Konoha. She can come with." The Uchiha woman indicates the brunette. "Thanks for having us," she offers to Harusada, but it's not clear if she is sincere or not.
Taji watches Gaia as she responds, about being hurt. She frowns, "Um, pain isn't a fun thing but it often is good to let us know when something is wrong. It keeps us from letting our bodies get too hurt." She tries to explain. It is hard, as she is unsure how much Gaia really knows so far. As Fuyu and Harusada go back and forth, Taji frowns, "Ah… Fuyu-sama? We ran across the water, and… up a mountain." Well, Taji didn't run across the water but still. "I don't know if Gaia can walk on water but…" She hesitates, unsure how to really finish this all.
Taji turns to her sensei, and bows slightly, "I can only do my best, I guess. I'll try to take good care of Gaia and teach her what I can. But…" There is some nervousness about this all, a weight on Taji's shoulders suddenly. Fuyu seems so determined to head back now. Well, this is strange and clearly a report is going to have to be made but… but… "Fuyu-sama? May I linger a moment to speak with Harusada-sensei? I will catch up before you reach the shore, or meet you there. I would like to speak with him alone, if that is alright?" She glances to her mentor then back to her team leader, to make sure no one objects or so on. But one can't help feel like Taji is still keeping secrets and the like.
"I see," Nobu tells Harusada, "Thank you for the information. You have been most helpful." He says it like a detective who's just finished questioning a witness, somewhat curt and businesslike. There's not much time for cordialities now that Fuyu seems to be determined to get going. Nobu gets to his feet and takes a couple of steps towards the exit, then turns back to see whatever else goes on.
Finishing his food, Hinotori bows his head to Harusada. "Yes, thank you very much. The vegetable were really good." he smiles feeling a bit better. He was hungrier then he thought he was. Turning to look at Fuyu as she gets up stating that their mission was over, nodding his head he moves back a little and stands up. Stretching, he looks to Gaia, then to Taji. As Taji ask if she could have a few moments with her mentor he looks to Fuyu-sama then begins moving towards the stairway. Checking over his gear, he's ready to go.