Date: July 21, 2016
Kenta and Biwa hit Konoha's library to do some research on how to get Biwa home to his people.
"On the Wings of Friendship - The Way Home"
Konoha - Library
It's now been weeks since Kenta and Tatsuo rescued Biwa from the manticore flies out in the forest. The butterfly has recovered from the incident with Kenta's help, rested up in Kenta's home, and eaten lots of jam and honey paid for with Kenta's money. He's decided it's time to go home, but it seems he'll need just a little more help from Kenta. He's left Kenta a note, and now here he is at the hospital, just outside the library. He sits in a waiting room armchair, awkwardly positioned on his back with his wings spread to either side of him.
It's not every day that a giant butterfly is perched outside the library. Even though Biwa is still young and only about the size of a big eagle, that's more than enough to make many of the people walking in and out of the library stare. Thankfully, Biwa doesn't have to suffer this for long… at least outside the library, because Kenta comes walking briskly up to the butterfly with that note clenched in his right hand. His left hand is hooked into the strap of the backpack that he's wearing. "Konichiwa, Biwa. Umm… why didn't you go inside and wait for me there? It'll be more comfortable and you can ask the librarians to help you start looking." Kenta's assuming that the caretakers of the place would be as open to helping an unknown nin-creature as much as he would.
Biwa wiggles and flips his wings until he somehow manages to toss his body up from the chair into the air, then manages a couple of graceful flaps before he alights on a coffee table. "Hi Kenta!" He turns and looks over to the library. "Whenever someone saw me flying around, they looked at me a lot." He pauses, "I don't really get how humans show their feelings, but I think you said that someone is angry when their face squishes in?" He takes off again, flapping his wings slowly as he circles Kenta. "Let's go in," he says, "I bet if I see a map, I'll know where my tree is!"
"Umm… that's not exactly how I put it, but close enough…" Kenta scuffs his feet a few times on the floor. "Anyway, let's head inside. I brought some maps that I borrowed from reconnaissance too. All of them marks different things, like elevation, landmarks of interest, underground water… something in there could be useful to us, along with what we find in the library. Most of the maps in there deals with flora and fauna distribution. It'd be much better if you had gotten lost during the warm seasons, because we can match plant distribution to the location, but we might be able to find a reference to that special tree of yours too." The young man starts heading inside. "Maybe you can explain again about this tree, so that the details are fresh in my head when we do our research."
"Those all sound really good," says Biwa, "Do you have a mountain map? I bet that would help us a lot." Kenta will recall that Biwa has mentioned that he needs to find a mountain with two peaks of yellow rock. He flutters into the library and lands on a table near the stacks. His legs skitter across the surface of the table as he turns around a couple of times. "Wow, they have so many books here!" He doesn't seem to notice the librarian shushing him. "The tree is really big, and I can use my chakra to make a passage. Oh, and it has lots of really big flowers… um, but not in the winter."
Kenta nods when Biwa asks whether he has a map of mountains. The young man sets his backpack down on the table that his companion picks and starts to remove all of the rolled up maps from them. They're tied simply enough that even someone without hands should be able to get the bindings opening. "Umm… libraries are usually quiet places, so you need to speak in a softer voice, Biwa," Kenta murmurs softly to the butterfly. He points out three of the maps to Biwa. "Those three have the best renderings of mountains, valleys, and elevation. Can you start with that? I'm going to grab a few books I know of that talks about unusual and rare plants. That tree of yours sound like it fits both descriptions."
"Oh sorry!" Biwa's wings drop. "Ummm," he says in a softer voice, "Sorry." He bobs the front of his body up and down in an approximation of a nod. "I'll look," he whispers. He flicks one leg at the ties on the first map. Then he starts to walk all over the rolled up map, using all six of his legs to flick it open and hold it open. "What would it be named?" he asks, "Maybe something like Two Yellow Rock Peak Mountain." He starts to scan over the paper. "Oh," he says, "Ummmm… what if there were still some manticore flies there?"
Kenta starts to walk off, but stops after taking only a single step. He turns around to regard Biwa with a somber expression on his face. "Umm… I already considered that. If those things are as hardy and adoptable as you told me they were, they probably already found a way to weather the cold and wait for that tree to be activated again. Or maybe for you to return. I intend to bring a team with me to escort you home once we find out the location. It'll probably be dangerous even with a team, especially if they're very entrenched by now."
"But!" Biwa catches himself and lowers his voice again. "But did I tell you that they can make webs?" he asks, "They make really strong silk out of their butts and put it all over an area, and it can be really sticky or really strong. How will we get through that if they've been doing it all over my tree?" His body wiggles slightly. "I almost got caught in it when they were chasing me," he says, "What if they have a whole bunch of it and we can't ever get through?"
Kenta's expression becomes more worried. "You didn't tell me that they can do that… only that they can fly fast, snap saplings in half with their pincers, produce poison, have an excellent sense of smell and a few other things." He rubs at the back of his neck with his left palm. "If they -can- make webs, that probably means they cocooned the entire area. That makes sense, because it'll give them a place to ambush people. No one can get to the tree without getting through the webs. Webbing can also act as good insulation against the cold if there's enough of it."
"Oh…" There's a long pause as Biwa attempts to sort through the ramifications of this. "Maybe there's a book about webs too," says Biwa, "Maybe if you pour water on them, they'll fall apart. Oh, or maybe we can trick them so that they get caught in their own web." He looks to Kenta intently, apparently quite pleased with these ideas and ready to hear some praise. He looks down at the map and then produces an actually decent idea. "Oh," he says, "Can you show me on the map where you found me?"
"Fire," Kenta promptly replies. "Fire can burn webbing to cinders, unless this webbing is fire proof. Umm… I kind of doubt that, unless you have to contend with a lot of forest fires in your valley or similar situations." The young man moves over to look at the map that Biwa unrolled. He furrows his brows in thought and then points at a remote location about two to three days travel away from Konoha for a shinobi. "It's around that area. I'm sure of it because that's where some rare herbs grow. Speaking of rare herbs, I should go find those books…"
Biwa flaps his wings once. "Fire," he repeats, "Okay! So we can just burn it all away. That's smart!" He then turns his body to look at the spot Kenta indicates on the map. "Okay," he says, "I'll look around there. But I still don't see anything like 'Yellow Mountain' or 'Mountain with Two Peaks.' How come they're all named things like 'Minewater Mountain," or 'Courage Mountain?" He hmms and haws to himself as he continues to scan the map over.
Kenta has no answer to Biwa's question, so he doesn't even attempt to do that. Instead, the young man quickly walks away from the table, leaving the nin-butterfly to go through the maps on his own. Kenta disappears into the stacks, where he immediately heads towards the section where all the books about rare herbs and plants are. Many of these are restricted access due to being one of a kind or of antique age. He's careful to handle the books carefully as he pulls three big ones out of the shelves. It pays off to be a bookworm and chronic researcher when it comes to remembering potentially useful material.'
The soft humming continues as Biwa keeps scanning over the map, mixed with the occasional skittering of his legs as he walks around the table, trying to look at everything. He soon finishes with the first map and pushes it to one side of the table, then slips open the next map and spreads it out. "Hmm," he says, "What are all these lines?" Apparently butterflies don't know very much about reading elevation maps. But somewhere on here, there must be a mountain with two peaks.
Kenta cradles the three books against his chest as he makes his way back to their table. The books in question are heavy enough that he has to constantly shift them in his grip to avoid dropping them, which would be a big problem considering how valuable they are. "Umm… I got the ones I was looking for. We'll have to be careful with these, since they're kind of delicate and we don't want to get banned from the library for damaging them," the young man tells Biwa while he sets his findings down on the table. "Were you able to locate the mountain that you mentioned?"
Biwa looks at the books for a few moments. "Maybe you should use them," he suggests. It's already hard enough for a butterfly to be using books, nevermind valuable, and possibly delicate, ones. He turns back to the map and looks over it again. "I found three with two peaks," he says. He moves over to the other map. "They're called 'Bullhorn Mountain,' 'Twin Mountain,' and 'Gold Rush Mountain.'"
Kenta perks up. "Are there any descriptions? Gold Rush Mountain sound like it either had gold deposits in it or people wanted to make a yellowish mountain sound fancier." The young man abandons the books for a second to look at the maps. "Umm… let's see. Well, these three definitely have twin peaks. You can tell by the way all those contour lines are grouped together there." He points at each of the three mountains in question. "Nothing about what material makes up the mountains on this map though. Let's try another one." He smoothes out another map. "This one is used for surveying a lot. The colors and symbols tell us all about mineral deposits and what materials are most common in the area."
Biwa steps over to the new map and looks down at it. "So one of them should have gold in it?" He looks at each of them. "Bullhorn Mountain has something called galena. Twin Mountain has spha… sphalerite and pent… landite. Gold Rush Mountain has krennerite." He looks up at Kenta. "Are any of those fancy names for gold?" he asks. "Because if it's one of these moutains, then we just have to find out about the tree, right?"
Kenta's brows furrow. A lot of earth minerals and compounds are used in medicine, but the minerals named aren't ones that really has any medical usage. He goes silent for a while and thinks hard to try to remember the properties. "Umm… I might not be completely correct, but I think pentlandite is kind of a dark yellowish color. Krennerite can be a very bright metallic yellow color, because it actually has gold in it." The young man's brows remain furrowed. "That still leaves us with two out of three candidates. Is there anything else there? Otherwise, we need to start searching for references of that tree."
"So it must be Twin Mountain or Gold Rush Mountain," says Biwa, "And umm…" He walks over each of the map again as he continues the um, producing a soft hum the whole time. He turns back to Kenta. "Let's find out about the tree," he decides, "Um, they're big, and they have lots of flowers, and there's one in each land (so there aren't very many of them), and they all connect back to Flowering Fruit Valley. Does any of that help?"
"Umm… I guess, kind of?" Kenta hedges when he's given that description. "Can you tell me anything more that might be useful?" He then goes on to question barrage mode and bombards Biwa with everything that comes to mind. "How tall is it? How big around? What are the branches like? What color are the flowers? The shape of the leaves? Does the tree look like similar to any regular trees? Does the tree produce fruit at all or are the flowers just for show? Is there a specific smell that comes from the tree? You said it's special, so does it have a chakra signature?" Kenta pauses to suck in a deep breath.
Biwa sits there watching Kenta as the young man asks question after question. "Wellllllllllll…" he says, finally. "It's really tall. And really big around. The flowers are all colours, and the leaves look like big green hearts. Bigger than my body. If I landed on one, only my wings would go over the edge. I've never seen another tree like it. The flowers do turn into fruit—they're really sweet and juicy. It smells really, really, really… nice" He pauses. "Oh! Chakra! I don't know if it has a signature, but Moonwing chakra is what makes it open."
"I guess that's a start. Tell me if you remember anything else that could be important? Check the other maps too. Maybe you'll find something," Kenta says while wishing at the same time that Biwa would be more specific concerning details. He sighs inwardly and reaches for the first of the three big books on the stack. The tree that was described defies several classifications, which is actually helpful to exclude certain sections of the book immediately. Unfortunately, this particular volume doesn't categorize by location, so he has to keep that at the forefront of his thoughts when he scans it instead of narrowing down the sections ever further.
"Um, well, it works by opening up. I put my chakra into it, and then the tree opens up, and it leads back to a tree in Flowering Fruit Valley. Actually the tree in the valley is the parent of the tree outside. You see?" He starts to turn back to the maps to scan them over. "Oh," he says, "It's not dead like all the trees around here are. All the trees back home are still nice and green, so whatever killed them here must not be in the valley."
Kenta looks up briefly from his searching with a look of sympathy on his face. "No wonder you didn't want to leave the house too much. You must not be very used to how everything is in winter, since it's never winter where you're from. Umm… the trees here aren't really dead. They're just sleeping until it grows warm again. I guess all the flowers and grass did die, but the next generation will start growing once it warms up too. Besides, not everything is bad. That sweet chocolate drink that I brought back for you the other day is a special winter food here. We have a lot of other sweet foods that we usually eat around this time too." He smiles at Biwa and resumes his search.
"Winter?" Biwa repeats, "Well, it's winter there too. Um, you do have a lot more snow than us." He thinks for a moment. "So the trees only flower once a year here? Back home, they always flower. There's always flowers, and sometimes the flowers grow into fruit, but they don't all do it at once, so there's always flowers. Hm, but that stuff you brought was really good, you're right." As Kenta continues his research, he'll notice that there is a species of tree that sounds similar—flowering year-round, fruiting frequently, heart-shaped leaves. The only problem is that they're definitely not as big as what Biwa has described.
"Oh… so you have trees that flower even when it's snowing? How strange…" Kenta shakes his head slightly, but doesn't look up from his research. He's about to flip the page when some details on it catches his attention. "Biwa, does this sound familiar?" He reads the passage out loud to the butterfly, but softly like he's been trying to do the entire time. Once he's done, he flips the page. "Oh! Here's a diagram too. There's the leaves and the flowers and… the measurements are really too low. It sounds like this type of tree isn't too uncommon either, so it could be related to the one you know of without being the exact same species. Let's see where these grow. Anywhere that can support these can have the right conditions for that special one."
Biwa walks across the table over to Kenta. "It sounds a lot like that tree," he says. He turns to face the book and studies it for a moment. "Oh!" he says, skirting the 'no loud noises' rule once again. "That looks a lot like it. Hm, but it's too small, so it can't be that tree. Or can it? It doesn't shrink. But if they're /like/ that tree, maybe…" As Kenta reads on, he finds that this species of tree requires an unusually high level of water to survive, but also can't stand up to flooding. The ideal location for this tree receives lots of precipitation but has well-drained soils.
Kenta makes a thoughtful noise as he keeps his nose to the book. "Biwa, does any of those maps show annual rainfall amounts? See if either of those two mountains that we noted down receive a lot of rain. I bet it rains a lot in your valley too, which makes sense if the entire place is as lush you as you mentioned. Umm… that and the unusually strong natural chakra that permeates the place."
Biwa skitters back over to the maps, searching them for data on precipitation. "There's numbers," he says, "Twin Mountain has a little one, and Gold Rush Mountain has a big one." He holds one of his legs in the air overtop of Gold Rush Mountain's location. "I /didn't/ think it was raining very much here," he adds, "How strange that you don't get very much rain, but you still have all those delicious foods. Where do they come from?"
"We grow them all over in different parts of the nation and we also import some from foreign countries. It's like that special bee honey that we have at the house. That comes from the Land of Earth, which is far, far away from here," Kenta explains to Biwa. He looks up and over at the map that his companion's checking. "Umm… those numbers represent how many inches of rain each location receives per year. Twin Mountain's much too low to produce the conditions that the tree needs to grow. It must be Gold Rush Mountain instead."
"Nation? Countries?" Biwa thinks for a moment. "Oh, right. They're sorta like how we don't live with the manticore flies. But I wouldn't want anything the manticore flies have, so it must not really be exactly the same." There's a short pause as Kenta concludes that the location of the tree must be Gold Rush Mountain. His wings flutter slightly. "I can go home then," he says, "All I have to do is go there. Oh, but I have to avoid the manticore flies. Oh, and it was very nice staying with you though. Your honey was very good."
Kenta nods his head up and down, but there's a sad cast to the motion. "We'll miss having you around. Maybe you can find a way to visit safely someday and I'll get to show you all those other foods I mentioned," the young man says in a wistful voice. He lets out a soft sigh. "Umm… I guess I better start figuring out the logistics of bringing an expedition to Gold Rush Mountain. We'll need a solid group of people to escort you there, find the tree, get pass any manticore flies that might have set up around it, and get you home safely."
There's a short silence. Since he's a butterfly, it's hard to tell Biwa's emotions from his face, but perhaps he's a little sad too. "Maybe you could come visit me," he says, "Oh, you know, you let me stay in your home, so maybe I should let you stay in mine. I bet my parents would let you, if I told them how you did so much for me. And you know that the manticore flies came through the tree with me, so I bet you could come in too. I could show you so much!"
"Maybe… we'll have to see," Kenta says tentatively. He bites back another sigh, knowing that it's unlikely that he'd be able to stay more than a day or two even if he -can- travel through the tree with Biwa. There's too many shinobi duties to consider. The young man doesn't say this out loud though, since he doesn't want to make the butterfly even more sad. Instead, Kenta suggests, "Let's head back home. I'm going to make sweet red bean porridge. You haven't tried that yet."