Date: October 23, 2014
Mushi is summoned to her homeland during a time of danger.
"Final Release - Head to the Waterfall"
Traveling to the Waterfall Village
It'd been a week since Mushi, Red, and the survivors of the ship crept onshore. Mushi has deemed this a time to rest by staying in one place. But that's as "restful" as it gets. Besides that, Mushi has Red working to the bone on his chakra shaping. The fact that he's improved nicely has only made her push him harder, urging him to get better. By normal standards, someone would say she's making him work too hard and that his progress is fast enough. But she's never measured progress by how swiftly village shinobi have progressed.
One thing she hasn't stinted on though is giving him enough sustenance to fuel him. Though training is intense, the meals are decked out. She has a picnic in a glade within the village's woods. Bento boxes, each one large enough to feed two grown men, and packed with every delicious dish. "You've worked hard, so eat up," Mushi says. "Training again in an hour."
Poor Red. Through the extensive chakra shaping and manipulation around his hands, the boy is exhausted. Added onto that is that his hand is incredibly sore, a side-effect of fueling so much chakra around the appendage in training like that. It's almost a rite of passage that all shinobi must go through, really. At least those that want to learn chakra shaping.
"Aargghhhh!" He cries out at the notion of training again, the youth trying to summon the strength to just wield his chopsticks so he can eat. "Mushiiiiii. I'm tired of training. Can't we just go for a swim instead?" The chopsticks fumble about in his sore palm, the youth having to really focus to get some of the grub in his mouth. "How long are you planning to do this to me for? My hands are really sore. And when are we leaving? Dad is probably getting further and further away!"
When Red starts complaining about the regimen she's put him on, Mushi just glances at him. Then she says, "Yeah, I think that's enough training. After this we'll take a swim." In truth she'd kept him busy to distract him from the tragedy that had just happened. But looking at him, she wonders and hopes that he may be strong enough to weather it. Either way, he seems to be past it and determined to find his father. She smiles. "You're not swimming naked though, even if we are alone."
She goes back to eating her bento. It's some minutes before their day changes completely. One moment Mushi is popping a dumpling into her mouth. The next a sinister shadow is looming behind Red, saying, "Let your guard down didn't you…Nikumari Mushi…" Behind is a shinobi wearing a clay mask, holding a kunai dangerously close to Red. "Red! Look out!" Mushi screams.
"You want me to wear my clothes while I'm swimming? But they'll be super heavy and make it hard!" The boy grumps, still trying to get some sort of rice or dumpling into his mouth. He's struggling, but eventually getting there. When the first mouthful is done, swallowing, his eyes widen significantly when he feels cold steel pressed against his neck.
It's a unique feeling. Not only do you feel the bladed weapon itself, but also the feeling of complete hopelessness. Even if Red wasn't exhausted from all the training he had undertaken recently, he had no techniques to get out of this. His jaw loosens, the youngster feeling his heart pump faster. "M… Mushi?" He asks, in quite a vulnerable and worried sort of tone.
Mushi springs to her feet. "Who are you?" she demands.
There's a pause. Then the man removes his mask. "Gotcha, Mushi-chan!" he says with a grin. He springs back and holds up his hand in mock surrender. He's a handsome young man with black hair tied back in a ponytail, and green eyes. At the sight of him, Mushi's eyes widen in joy. "Cousin!" she says, practically dashing forward.
He opens his arms to embrace her, but Mushi doesn't hug. She slugs him across the jaw so hard he falls back. "That's for scaring Red," she says. "He's my charge, you twit! Red, this is my idiot cousin, Kyoro."
Kyoro smiles apologetically at Red. "Sorry, bad joke." He's still rubbing his jaw where he was punched.
Red trembles. Even as he's let go, watching Mushi recognise her cousin and then punch him across the jaw, he seems shaken. Flashes of imagery that he had tried hard to suppress from a few days ago enter his mind again. Death, and being at the edge of it. Even when learning that this is a mock situation, the youth swallows audibly as if he just escaped a real life or death situation.
When introduced, he just looks up at the cousin with his red pupils, not saying a word. When apologized to, he just stares with a long, neutral face. Unsure of how to best proceed.
Mushi looks over at Red in concern. All those days of training were undone by a single "bad joke" as Kyoro called it. She shoots her cousin a venomous glare, and he seems suitably abashed. Kyoro rubs his neck, and Mushi sits back down, tapping a place near her for Red to sit. "We were eating lunch before you frightened us to death," she says, and Kyoro winces again. "You can have some. And tell me why you're here."
Kyoro doesn't speak at first. He turns to Red. "Sorry, kid," he says. "I didn't mean to scare you. Though it's the first time I've seen Mushi's frightened face. I've never been able to startle her…or seen it in battle. Guess you're something special to her." His stomach gives a huge growl and he'd grab some of the food to wolf down.
Mushi sighs and introduces Red, omitting that they're looking for Goh. "My uncle died in the wars, and Kyoro is his son. We grew up together, me and my brother and Kyoro, as children. Playing and training." Her frosty tone has begun to warm.
When invited, Red does sit near Mushi. He pulls his knees to his chest, wrapping arms around shins as he just listens to the story. As the minutes roll on, it would seem he is calming down. Who knows? In a normal situation, he may have even appreciated such a joke! But not so soon after the incident out on the ocean.
Taking a big long breath, he attempts to calm himself in much the way Mushi had taught him. Settle the heartbeat and feelings of anxiety. Such things were normal, he was told. There was nothing wrong with it.
"Hi." He finally greets when introduced, nose wrinkling a bit. "It's okay. Don't worry about it." He says to the second apology in as many minutes from Kyoro.
Mushi smiles proudly at Red when he recovers and accepts the apology. Kyoro begins to talk, but not about why he's here. He's telling her about the Waterfall Village, Takigakure. Her hometown. She listens with a smile until he mentions that Ginga is the leader of the village. "That militant?" she says. "Why on earth would he come into power?"
Kyoro smiles wryly. "Everyone thought Tabuya would be the next village leader…until The Silence came. Ginga said Tabuya was too peaceful, that he wouldn't be able to defend the village. He used everyone's fear to get elected. He's promised to protect the village, and that's why I'm here. Mushi-chan, we need to defend Takigakure in case of attack from those rogues. We want you to return to the village." For a second, Mushi can't speak. Then she looks at Red. "What would you do Red?" she says. "Keep on wandering or settle down in your old village?" Kyoro looks alarmed.
Red tries to keep up with the conversation as best he can, though finds it difficult. There are things going on in this world that he can scarcely get his head around. This 'Silence' being one such thing. All he knows is that it's something bad. On top of this, the people that are being talked about aren't known to the youth. But he can get the basic gist of it.
When Mushi asks his opinion, the boy tilts his head. After some thought, he shrugs. "Why don't you do both? Return to your home and help defend it. Then when you have kicked some butt, we can go wandering again to try and find Dad." His legs slowly slide down in front of him, arms folding across his chest. "Did you want to stay there forever?"
Mushi smiles to Red. "That sounds like a perfect idea," she says. "I'll help defend the village until The Silence threat is over and then…"
"They want you to return permanently," Kyoro says regretfully. He grimaces. "Tabuya and his predecessor considered it good that you left the village. They thought you were dangerous. Ginga thinks you'll be an asset though."
Mushi smiles. "It's nice to be popular," she says.
"Not you," Kyoro says grimly. "What's inside you."
Mushi frowns. She glances at Red. "You know, besides Chomei, I do have my own skills. I'm a master fuinjutsuist. And the most renowned medic. I…"
"It doesn't matter. He just wants you for /those/ powers. I need to tell you…the village has ordered you to return. Since you left, it's your choice as to whether to disregard them. But know if you come, I'll watch your back."
Mushi rubs her hands together. This is problematic. She finishes her food and after that says, "Yes, okay. Let's go Red. You'll get to see my village." And so they set off.
"They've /ordered/ her? How are they gonna stop her if she doesn't want to go? She's SUPER strong, you know. Stronger than anyone in any Village." The talk about any other sorts of powers seems to go above Red's head once more, though he pockets that thought in order to ask her what the heck he was talking about.
Regardless, when they decide to head off, they do. Red brings himself to his feet and slings his shoulder pack around him, the boy shuffling along with the two adults. "So are there actually lots of waterfalls around in your Village?" He asks, red eyes peering about. "Are we allowed to surf down them and stuff? And have fun?" Pause. "And how far away is it?"
Mushi ruffles Red's hair. "They aren't threatening me, Red," she says. "They're treating me like a member of the village. If I was in it, I'd have to obey the village leader's orders. I think they want me to give up my wandering ways." She laughs lightly. And then for awhile she chats with Kyoro, mostly about day to day things. She talks about Red, but she never tells him it's okay to tell Kyoro about Goh—nor does she mention their search for him, and she keeps out the pirate ship attack. She urges him to talk about their time in Suna mostly.
She answers his questions as they come. "It'll take a couple days to get there. It'll give me time to catch up with Kyoro. As for my village it's named for the /huge/ waterfall in front, guarding the entrance. We can swim in the lake."
"How huge?" Red asks suspiciously, never one to ease up off the hard hitting questions. He was always wary when people said huge. His definition of huge was quite large, after all! "Two whole days? Well, this will be a fun walk then." A small smile appears on his face when his hair is ruffled. "I'm gonna jump off it and do a huge dive in the lake. SPLISH! That'll be the sound I make. Just you watch." He seems to be lightening up with each step, listening casually to Mushi's conversation with her cousin.
"So what is the Silence? I mean really. Why do they want to kill everyone? And why are they after the Waterfall Village? It seems a bit weird. Your Village isn't super powerful or anything, is it?"
Kyoro listens politely to Red when he talks. It may be because he still feels bad about scaring the boy at first. However, when he asks about the Silence Kyoro begins to speak…but Mushi bowls right over him. "The Silence is a criminal organization led by two men," she says. "They're monstrously strong. If the rumors are true, they're that much stronger than I am, even one on one. The SIlence says their goal is to show how terrible the great shinobi villages are, and they will steal, kill, and lie to do so." She pauses and then adds, "But no, I'm certain they won't go after the Waterfall. They target only the five great hidden villages."
"You don't know that," Kyoro says. "They may come after us yet."
"Why? It would make no point. The Waterfall is not powerful enough a target." Mushi sighs. "But if it will help people to feel safe.."
"Huh." Red speaks, seeming to mull about some thoughts in his head. "So the only reason you're going back to the Village is just to make them feel safe?" He asks. "Shouldn't we go back to Sunagakure if it's in trouble? Sousa might need our help." He was certainly no expert in tactics, evident by the token shrug he gives after his idea. "So long as there are waterfalls here, then I'm still keen to go there. Just seems like a waste of time if you ask me. Woaahhh! Check out that GIANT stick insect!"
Red is suddenly distracted, turning his attention to a tree-trunk in passing. He squints down, examining the insect carefully. "Hey Mushi." He begins, letting the insect walk onto his hand and over it. "Do you think you can make me meals from now on they don't have animal in them?"
Kyoro laughs when Red points out the insect and says, "Mushi has a giant bug of her own too." And then to the medic: "Does he know?"
Mushi swats him and then speaks casually to Red as they walk. "Actually, I'm a bit special. There are nine animals made of chakra in this world. They're violent and powerful in their animal form, so people seal them up inside humans. That human gets more chakra and becomes more powerful. Just remember this. The animals are called bijuu, and when a human has a bijuu in them, they're Jinchuuriki. I'm a Jinchuuriki, with a giant beetle of chakra." She taps her stomach. "It's Chomei, a real joker."
Kyoro gapes at her. "Bijuu…a joker?"
"Oh, yeah." Red seems to nod, seeming non-interested in the story of the bijuu, chakra, nine beasts and all of that stuff. "I knew all that already. Dad told me ages ago." Oops. "Hey, you didn't answer my question about the food!" Red falls back into line next to the healer, wrinkling his nose. "Even if Dad didn't tell me about the beastie inside you, don't ya think I would have asked about the giant hand you caught me with back out on the ocean?" Red laughs a bit, pushing against Mushi's hip playfully. "But it's all super top secret, right? You won't use it when you're fighting these Silence people."
Mushi stares at Red, when he tells her that Goh told him everything. Her hand curls into a trembling fist. That…that man! When she finds him…she shakes her head sharply. However, it's enough to make Kyoro do a doubletake. He says, "Who else knows about your bijuu?"
Mushi glances at him. "Whoever I chose to trust with the information," she says firmly.
The cousin holds up his hands. "I didn't mean anything by it," he says laughingly. "Remember, I'm on your side."
And it does turn out to be a fun trip. They talk, they eat, they swim at a small lake along the way. But it doesn't prepare for the lake in front of the village…and the all, shining waterfall cascading from the natural cylinder of rock that surrounds the village. Mushi points, "Sure you want to jump off Red? It'll take quite awhile to get to the top and you may fall. Even with water underneath it'd be a painful landing, hehe."
Kyoro grins. "Home sweet home. Get ready for the shitstorm, Mushi-chan."
"Yeah, but I didn't tell anyone. I cross my heart and hope to die. Really."
The next couple of days walk goes smoothly enough, with the youngster seeming to be able to keep up easily enough. His skinny arms and legs were clearly stronger than they looked! When they do reach the lake, and the waterfall just behind it, Red's mouth falls open. He just gapes at the huge waterfall before him, having to tilt his head so far back he almost falls onto his rear. "Um. I changed my mind. I'm not scared or anything. I just don't want to get my clothes wet." A nervous laugh follows, before he swallows.
"A what storm?" He asks the cousin, looking up at him.
Mushi kicks Kyoro in the knee before he can answer. "He just means there will be many crazy things going on soon," she says. She smirks when Red hesitates to jump off the waterfall. "I understand," she says. "But we'll have to go past the lake and through the waterfall to enter the village." And indeed they would. They cross the lake in a small summoned boat—just one of the dozen Mushi had purchased recently, to the delight of the craftsman. They raise a tarp under the waterfall though still get splashed a bit, and hit land. Through a tunnel, through twisting corridors, and Mushi's eyes grow warm as she looks around the familiar passages. It soon opens into a cavern so fast the ends stretch out of sight. There are houses not unlike Konoha, but with less foliage. Dimmer too, but well lit with torches and lamps. Here and there huge pools of sunshine slant down through opens in the lofty ceiling.
"Ooooh… You have a nice home, Mushi." Red stands close to the healer as the trio sail in under the waterfall, eyes gawking around at every detail he can possibly take in. The cavern was truly enormous, that much is sure. The scale of it all was not lost on a kid, even one like Red. "Can you just drop me off somewhere, Mushi? I'm tired and just wana sleep in a real bed." They had been on the road for a very long time, after all. The last bed he was in was all the way back in the Sunagakure apartment. "Your meeting with the leaders will be all boring, anyway."
Mushi brightens up as she walks through the fields and houses. A few people wave in greeting to her and run over to talk. One or two look scared and head in the opposite direction. She soon has a crowd comprised of women, men and children jabbering at her. She kindly brushes them off at a sky blue house with a wide porch. Mushi smiles. "This is where my father and stepmother live," she says. "You can rest here. Kyoro sent word ahead, so they'll know we're here." She goes and hesitates, then knocks on the door. Someone calls to come in, and Mushi does so. There is her father, her stepmother, both looking tense. And beside them, four council members waiting gravely.