Path of Hope - Lizards


Sanshouuo (as Hiro, Kaito, and himself), Goh

Date: February 22, 2011


The journey to the Throne of Fire is sped up a bit, thanks to Hiro. Goh meets Sanshouuo and swallows his gum.

"Path of Hope - Lizards"

The Throne of Fire - Salamander Caves

After some rapid discussion between Hiro, Ando, and Goh, they have decided that the best course of action -- both for finding Mushi, and the as-yet-unidentified person from Konoha -- is to go directly to the Throne of Fire. The Great Elder will know what to do, for sure! Once Goh and Ando are both in physical contact with Hiro, he asks, "Are we ready?" Ando nods. "Hm!" If Goh's answer is also in the affirmative, a moment later the three of them vanish. Instantly, they appear elsewhere. The new environments looks a bit like if a volcano or twelve had gone off at the same time and devastated a continent. Blackened soil, jagged mountain ranges, plumes of flame and lava erupting from geysers situated around the area -- actually, they really >are< volcanoes, apparently! Further… The volcanoes form a >circle< around this ruined landscape. And right at the middle, is a gigantic throne. It is made of dark-red metal, and seems to have been constructed form a >single piece of metal<. There is no sign of tools being used, or of other pieces being welded on, or anything. It is just a throne about a mile tall. Maybe more. And Goh, Ando, and their means of transportation, Hiro, have just arrived at its foot.
The heat is intense, but the two Salamanders seem not to notice it. Instead, what they notice is the absence of anyone on the throne. "…." Ando offers. "…." Hiro agrees. "…Hiro?" Ando asks. "Hai, Ando?" Hiro asks in return. "Where is Sanshouuo-sama?" Hiro asks, "I do not know, Ando. Perhaps he went for a walk?" Ando pauses and then says, "…I do not think so."
And that's when about infinity + 5 salamanders of various kinds, shapes, and sizes, come out of the >everywhere< and surround the three intruders! Then a massive salamander with a mix of black and grey skin comes striding up the slope from the volcanic terrain below. While Hiro and Ando are paralyzed by the sudden, hostile appearance of their fellows, they fail to notice this gigantic reptile's approach. He has squinty eyes, a bit like Hiro, but no glasses. He also has a sword strapped to his back. It is very big.
">HIRO!<" the salamander bellows. Hiro shrieks like a little girl, leaps straight up in the air, rotates during his brief flight, and lands back on the ground, staring at the source of the yell. Ando turns his head slowly to look behind him. He sees who just spoke, and then decides he would be much happier not looking in that direction. He faces forwards again.
Hiro clears his throat and says, "H-hello, Oto-san <Father>."

Goh had never gone /that/ deep into the Salamander Caves before. Only once or twice had he ventured forth underground to speak with Igneel. But that certainly wasn't this deep underground! Igneel, being the 'boss', must have had his own quarters a little higher up. No doubt there can only be a certain amount of freaking huge Salamander in one spot.
On anyrate, after agreeing to go directly to the Throne of Fire, the blonde gives a small nod. He's still a little frustrated and emotional, what with Mushi being missing. But the sooner they can get on the road, the sooner he can rescue not only his girlfriend, but his family. He feels his stomach heave a little when the 'port is made, before he stumbles just a little upon exiting it. The site is … incredible.
"W…woah." He gets out, feeling a huge amount of heat suddenly wash over his skin. Goh himself already has a pretty good resistance to heat. He could waltz through the deserts of Sunagakure with little troubles. But he was not completely immune as his Salamander friends were. He feels his skin tremble a little, the severe fires and volcanos doing their thing quite well. The sheer site of this place is enough to cause even HIM to gape, just staring around with blue eyes. If this wasn't Hell, it sure must be close.
It seems he's even ignorant to Ando and Hiro speaking amoungst themselves. He's just gawking, until the thousands of little Salamander critters burrow their way up from the ground. Making way for the huge giant. Goh's jaw loosens, his body whirling around to face the big creature. He doesn't shriek. Just stares.
That … was a big one. Probably just as big as Igneel!
"T…This is your Father, Hiro?" Blink. Blink.
Maybe he should offer some Pickled Vegetables as a peace offering? Oy.

Hiro swallows. "H-Hai, Goh-san." The huge salamander rumbles, "You >know< better than to teleport directly to the Throne! >Especially< now, when we are at war!" Hiro bows deeply and apologetically and just stares at the ground. "You set off every alarm we have." Hiro mumbles, "Gomen nasai, Oto-san." The elder salamander just sighs and says, "Call off the alert. Return to your positions!" And all the salamanders start filtering out of the area, heading back down the mountain. Kaito glares at Hiro, still obviously displeased, but eventually he turns his attention on Goh.
"Akuu-san, I am Kaito. Sanshouuo-sama is waiting for you at the Gallery. I will take you there--" Hiro interrupts by lifting up his head and asking, "Oto-san?" Kaito pauses and turns his glare back on his son. Hiro shrinks back but continues on regardless. "A friend of Goh-san's is missing, and I can not teleport to her." Kaito says, "That will have to wait--" Hiro reluctantly interrupts again. "Senju Tobiramako, younger sister of the First Hokage, is also missing." Pause. "I can not teleport to her either." Kaito takes a moment longer this time, but still seems to be stubbornly focusing on the matter at hand. "That is unfortunate. Perhaps your concentration is flawed. If you will follow me--" "I also went to the Temple of Earth." Utter silence this time, except for the bellows of volcanoes and the hot rush of ash-laden winds. Hiro finishes, "The Stone of Nature is missing. The keepers of the Temple do not know where it is. It does not appear to have been stolen, misplaced, or similar. It just… Vanished! Poof!" He even tries to gesture with his reptilian feet to emphasize the 'poof'.
Kaito says gravely, "That is >not< good news. You will come with us to see Sanshouuo-sama." Kaito nods curtly to Goh. "Are we ready now?"

Poor Goh just continues to gape and stare. "…this is insane. It's like an army marching off. You guys weren't kidding. Everthing is on super high alert." The blonde frowns, not seeming entirely happy that he was part of setting off the alarm. Oh well. Watching the critters scuttle away, the Pickler turns his attention to the big one. Kaito.
At least this guy seemed to be friendly enough! "Well met, Kaito." After some regular conversation without the huge thing booming and glaring, it seems to have relaxed his position. "Sorry about the alarm thing. Wait, what? The Hokage's sister is missing?" Took a little bit for that to register, looking down to Hiro. "I haven't heard much about her, to be honest. Just that her water techniques are out of this world. Definite prospect for the Second Hokage, if Hashi ever falls for some reason." He pauses. Why was /she/ missing of all people? She had a low profile, as far as Goh knew. At least for the moment.
"Yeah … the Stone of Nature. I didn't know you guys had that in your possession as well. I thought that would have come up in conversation." Apparently not so! But oh well.
"Ready as I'll ever be, Kaito. Let's roll." His muscles tense. Expecting another teleport like action to take him away to the Gallery!

Kaito just grimly 'Hmm's. Seems Hiro will have to do the explaining. "Tobiramako-sama is skilled at Space-Time Ninjutsu. She taught me how to control my power at first! If she has gone missing to the extent that I can not find her… Then she may have been kidnapped by someone very powerful." Ando turns around finally, apparently comfortable that he is not going to be yelled at by Kaito just for existing. Kaito says, "Do not jump to conclusions." Hiro just goes, "…Hah?" in confusion. Kaito clarifies, "Every human is different. We do not have enough information about Tobiramako to assume she was taken by force. She may have been called elsewhere… Or perhaps she left on her own. She may even intentionally have hidden herself from you. Or perhaps being hidden from you is a side-effect of something else. We simply do not know enough."
Hiro nods thoughtfully. Kaito turns his attention back on Goh and says a bit reproachfully, "We do not discuss the Stone with >humans<. Your kind are not to be trusted with the knowledge of what it is, where it is, or anything similar." Ando says in amazement, "But… This is >Goh-san<! We can trust him!" Kaito bellows out, ">NO!<" Ando reminds himself that Kaito is very scary and does not like him. He responds accordingly by shutting the heck up. Kaito finishes glaring at Ando, ignores his stunned son, and focuses on Goh. "Humans can not be trusted in this matter. No matter how much of a friend you may be to our kind, it is simply human nature to be corrupted by power. You have already been touched and tainted by the Stone of Spirit. You have been tempted by it. The Stone of Spirit is one of the >weaker< of the six Sage Stones. If you can not even resist the Stone of Spirit, you would fall instantly to the Stone of Nature…" After that dire pronouncement, Kaito shakes his head. It's about the size of two or three horses. "Not that you would be able to use it," he tacks on.
"Enough of this subject. You may ride on my back during our journey." Hiro seems to be just as surprised by this as Goh might be. "…Can I not teleport us there?" Kaito sighs. "You just set off all of our alarms by teleporting to the Throne of Fire while the Great Elder is >not even here<. What kind of reaction do you think would result from teleporting to where the key to our survival is kept, while Sanshouuo-sama is also present?" Hiro just goes, 'Oh'. Then he scrambles forward and up Kaito's lengthy tail, until he stands upon his father's back. Kaito waits for Goh to do the same. Ando approaches last, and Kaito lifts his tail away. "What are you doing?" Kaito asks in a tone that indicates he actually means, 'Do you want to die?' Ando retreats accordingly. "I… I am going to go get my wounds treated. I was injured on the surface by one of those monste--" But Kaito has already begun walking off before Ando even finishes. Hiro calls out, "Sayonara, Ando!"
Ando just sighs.
The journey down the mountain side is slow at first. Or slow compared to a running ninja. Kaito seems to have no difficulty walking down vertical surfaces, and with his large body he covers distance quickly even while simply walking. If Goh has questions, there's time to answer them before they arrive at the Gallery, apparently.

"She uses space time techniques as well?" Goku queries, peering to Hiro. Goh … did not know that in the least. Mind you, he didn't have any contact with Tobiramako. His arms fold across his chest tightly, as if in thought. Is it possible that the Second Hokage and Mushi were taken by the same people? If Hiro cannot reach both of them? Surely not. They have next to nothing in common with each other. Hm.
When Kaito sort of glares down at the pair and speaks about the Stone, Goh smiles a little. Peering down to Ando who defends him so well. "It's alright, Ando. Like it or not, he's right. I can't trust myself to be near that thing. Humans are corrupted easily. We've seen it time and time again in history. Just because I'm an amazing pickler doesn't mean I'm any less affected by that crazy Stone. As much as I could resist it, it's … overpowering. Remember?" His arms loosen from around his chest. "That's why I put it down here to begin with. But it seems even that was a bad idea, now." The blonde frowns a little. Oh well.
Leaping up in a smooth flipping motion, Goh makes it up to the top of Kaito in a few swift jumps. Seems he's not keen on going up the tail. Upon the back, he lifts a hand to wave down to Ando.
"Take it easy, bud. Get yourself healed up and be on the ready! I may summon you before this ends."
Following that, they're gone. He has no questions. Well, he does a few. "Tell me about these Stones, Kaito? The Stone of Spirit appeared in a Tower. The Tower itself just appeared over night. What's the deal? You said they belong to the Sage of Six Paths?" A pause. "And there are six of them? I hate to think of what might happen to humans if they get their hands on something stronger than the Stone of Spirit."

Kaito grunts unhappily. He does not really want to divulge more information about the Stones. Hiro is happy to, however! "We did not know any more than one Stone existed before, Goh-san! We thought the Stone of Nature and the Stone of Spirit were unrelated. When you brought the 'Fire Stone' here, we only knew it was 'befouled'. The Stone of Nature is pure, so the two felt nothing alike to us. The Fire Stone feels… Evil to us. It can be enticing to humans… It can conceal its evil from your people. But not us!"
Kaito says, "Research was conducted upon the Stone of Spirit's origins when it was left here. We discovered there were six of them. We were reluctant to identify the Stone of Nature -- what we call the World Pillar -- as one of these artifacts of human beings… But, eventually we could no longer deny the truth." Hiro did not hear all these details before. He only knew some of them. So he is listening just as intently as Goh likely is.
"The towers… We do not know much about them, sadly. Even with our research, we can not ascertain the purpose behind them, who built them, or any of the rest. The Stones themselves were either created by the Sage of the Six Paths, or merely placed where they were needed." A pause as Kaito finally finishes descending the mountain. "Hold on to my sword's straps, both of you," the elder salamander orders. Once Hiro and Goh have done so, he leaps down the rest of the way and lands heavily on the ground, sending up a cloud of ash and dirt. He then starts walking again. "Do you know of the Dragon Lines, Akuu-san?" Kaito asks. He starts picking up speed gradually now that they are moving horizontally and are approaching relatively open terrain.

"They're different?" Goh queries, looking down to Hiro. "Pure … untainted. That's surprising. Here I thought that they'd all be like the Fire one. You know, super toxic." The blonde nods slowly. "Yeah … evil is the right word. It definitely feels evil. Just touching it, I can feel it. It's almost like hundreds, or maybe more spirits are inside of it. Well -- it is like that." He reveals, perhaps shedding some knowledge that the Salamander did not?
"In the sands of Sunagakure I found a really old temple. In it, I met an Uchiha spirit that told me what was inside the Stone of Spirit. Lots and lots of sealed souls. The Stone is like a prison, with the captives in constant agony. Always trying to get out." Goh sighs a little dramatically.
"I don't know if the Stone of Nature is like that. But yeah. Again, why I brought it to you guys."
His blue gaze shifts to Kaito when he starts speaking again, the ex-Jounin ensuring to stay on his back by using his chakra. Listening intently, he crouches to grasp the sword straps. BOOM! With the group landing super heavily on the ground, they do indeed appear to pick up speed. Sage of the Six Paths .. that guy seemed to be coming up a lot lately. Goh thought that guy was only a myth. It appears not.
"Dragon Lines?" Goh queries, as if going through this term in his head. "No, I don't know of them."

The information about what is contained in the Stone of Spirit apparently is >quite< new to the Salamanders. Kaito slows down his pace and then comes to a complete stop. Hiro is staring, dumb-founded, at Goh. "Kon… <Souls…>" Kaito rumbles. "That would explain many things." Hiro shivers. "That is terrible! Is there a way to free them?" he asks of Goh. Apparently the only human around is now an expert on this subject! Kaito starts walking again. A building can be seen in the distance. It looks a bit like a very large chapel or something… At least with all the spires and steepled roofs and things. "The Dragon Lines are the paths that power flows through within the planet itself. Just as the body of a living thing has a Chakra Network, so too does the planet. For some reason, the Sage Stones were placed at specific points where Dragon Lines intersected. We do not know how someone managed to calculate the flow of energy with that much precision, but we know that the purpose of the Sage Stones being placed where they were was likely to 'stabilize' this continent. The Stones acted as 'buffers' against unstable energy in the environment. They also dampened the flow of Natural Energy in this part of the world."
Hiro interrupts to say, "Oi, Oto-san, Natural Energy is what the Sages at the Temple of Earth use, ne?" Kaito nods and grunts an affirmative. "Why would anyone want to lower the Natural Energy? Does the planet not need that to survive?" Kaito answers, "Yes. But during the human wars on the surface, many powers were unleashed. They could easily have unbalanced everything with the amount of energy available." "Eeto… 'Unbalanced everything'…?" Hiro asks in confusion. Kaito clarifies, "The entire continent might have fallen into the ocean." "…Haah!?" Hiro inquires in a mix of confusion and amazement. Kaito says, "…Among other things. There were many powerful humans back then. Some of them still live, but most do not. If they had the energy to draw upon to enhance their Ninjutsu… Many fewer would be alive -- powerful or not." Hiro nods solemnly, apparently understanding. Someone buried the Stones to save everyone. By weakening the planet in the area where the wars were going on, it weakened the people who lived there as well.

"Not in any way I know of." Goh replies to Hiro, glancing down to the small Salamander. "The fact of the matter is, they ARE actually criminals. So they're not innocent people. But I don't think any person should suffer like that, no matter what the crime is." Goh frowns a little. "…the Uchiha spirit managed to free a few of them, I think. Well, sort of. But he had the Sharingan. I don't." Seems to be very few limits as to what that magic eye can do.
Looking ahead of him, the blonde haired blue eyes figure manages to catch view of the large chapel extending out in the distance. "Flow of energy in the earth, huh … Yeah. I can understand that." The hearing of some new form of energy causes his eyebrow to arc and raise curiously, looking down at Kaito. "Natural energy?" No doubt related to the Dragon Lines somehow. The ex-Jounin listens to the conversation as it goes on. "You guys'll have to explain. But I guess that can be done later, when it matters. So essentially, these Stones … like the Spirit one. They've been buried to save people?" It's a little above poor Goh right now, but he's trying! "I'm confused. But it doesn't matter I guess." His eyes focus on the structure in front. Steadily growing larger as they progress.

Kaito once again seems reluctant to explain. How fortunate that Hiro has no such compunctions! "Physical Energy, the energy of the body, and Spiritual Energy, the energy of the spirit, are combined to make Chakra. Natural Energy is the energy in the environment and in nature itself. It is all around us. Most people do not even know it is there, though! Only the Sages can sense it, let alone make use of it." Then Hiro pauses and tilts his head towards Goh. "…I thought you knew about this. Are you not the 'Salamander Sage'?" Kaito grumbles, "That is a name he took up. He has not actually become a Sage." Hiro just goes, "…Ah!"
Finally, they arrive at the building. It is larger than it appeared from a distance, but not as large as the Throne of Fire. Still… It is big enough that it dwarfs even Kaito. "This is the Gallery," Kaito says. Then, just as he is about to ask Goh and Hiro to get off, Hiro poofs into a puff of smoke and is replaced with a human! He… Looks a bit like what Hiro would look like if he had been born a human instead of a salamander. ">SUGOI!<" he yells loudly. Kaito turns quickly to look at his son. Hiro says, "Friend-of-Goh-san and Shishou are back! I can tell!" The smile on his face turns to a serious, determined expression. Hiro says, "I will return soon." Then before Kaito can protest, Hiro has vanished.
Kaito sighs. He then leads the way into the Gallery, past many paintings that show people, places, and things in amazing detail… And Goh may even recognize some of them. And then… There's the one at the end of the hall… A large painting… Of Konohagakure being destroyed in a column of fire!
When they arrive before >that< painting, a rumbling voice, so deep that it can barely be understood by human ears, speaks from right nearby. Goh may look up and realize there is a salamander -- or perhaps a dragon -- so tall that just its >feet< fill up half of the large room. The rest stretches upwards, and upwards, and upwards…
Kaito lowers himself into a bow. "Thank you for inviting us…"

"And what's a Sage, exactly?" Goh question, looking over to Hiro carefully. "And … uh, yeah. It was a name sort of given to me by some guy I fought ages ago. He was a bit weirded out when I kept using Salamander techniques on him. So that's what he called me. Right before I beat him into the ground." Goh shrugs a little bit at that. "I didn't know there was an /actual/ Sage or anything though. Someone who can use Natural energy, huh? Must be pretty wild. Is that just a Salamander thing?"
As they approach the Gallery, the ex-Jounin just sort of peers up. He has little time to take in the vastness though, with Hiro claiming that he can feel the energy of Mushi once more. Watching him 'port out, Goh is left on his own with Kaito. Bright blue eyes peer at the paintings. One in particular gets his attention … Konoha's destruction. As well as Mushi. "What the…" He trails, before just sort of shivering as the huge bass-like voice rumbles his bones.
"S…Sanshouuo." Still on the back of Kaito, he feels the back dip a little bit. Goh himself doesn't bow. He just /stares/. Oh… man. This just got really serious.

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