Date: February 26, 2011
Sensing the impending fires that will set Konoha ablaze, the Salamander visit the Hokage to retrieve the Spirit Stone which was left in her care.
"Path of Hope - Taking back the Stone"
Konoha - Hokage's Office
The sun was in the midst of its long descent through the sky after spending most of the day on the laborous uphill climb. It was now a dull orange rather than a bright yellow, as if crawling across the skyscape had tired it so much that burning at full force simply was not an option at the moment. As such, long shadows were cast across the ground throughout the village from the tall buildings. Shops were closing and people were settling into their early evening routine, the time of day when it was too late to perform their day-time duties, but too early to begin their night-time revelry.
Even the office of the Hokage was winding down from its daily business, with the people bringing in new reports and business of the village trickling in slower and slower. And it had been a busy day. Hell, a busy month. With the destruction of a large part of the Land of Whirlpools on top of everything else, time to sleep had been seemingly preciously scarce, with late nights spent conversing with the rest of the village leadership about what could, should, and certainly would not be done. Keeping the peace among the clans was hard enough. Throwing a new major crisis on top of that made it a nigh-impossible task.
Truth be told, Senju Hashiramako wanted nothing more right now than to slip into a hot tub and fall asleep without drowning. But even after this last bit of business was concluded, she still had to meet with the latest team sent to investigate and provide relief for the people of Whirlpools.
But the last bit of 'business' was a bit of a village matter involving territory disputes over a pair of buildings between the Inuzuka and Yamanaka clans. …That she had forgotten about. She would have to read it. And then talk to both sides. And THEN read it again as she weighed her decision. The nineteen-page document is brushed into a drawer as the Hokage simply… pretends she hadn't seen it. When her attending assistent turns to her to ask if she has any more business for today, she smiles, and then shakes her head.
"No, no. No, thank you. I will see you tomorrow morning."
A quick bow and then the younger woman is gone, leaving Hashiramako alone, at least for now, in the open-air privacy of her office. The woman leans back with a belabored sigh, closing her eyes as she rests her elbows on the armrests, her fingers steepled in front of her. Sometimes she had to wonder why the hell she'd ever wanted this job!
And this is when things take another twist for her!
Whilst usually keeping in contact with Hashiramako via the Salamander, the blonde has been … well, out of contact lately. After finding the Stone of Spirit and then handing it off to Hashiramako, who in turn had sealed it inside a wood prison so no-one could get to it, the ex-Jounin had since left. With no standing orders for him, he was free to carry out his own personal mission. To eliminate the Bounty Hunters that were after the Akuu.
Having spent some months away, he's now back. Although Hashiramako herself may not be aware of his return! Things have already escalated greatly though. Goh literally has had no free time since his return.
Up from the very floor in front of Hashiramako, several Salamanders slink out from the wood. Not burrowing, but rather sort of just .. phasing through it. There are dozens of these small lizards, all scurrying about and toppling onto each other. Hashiramako will instantly recognise these creatures, of course. Allies of Konoha, they were known to be.
As they continue to work and topple over each other, they slowly yet surely form a … humanoid body. One made up of now hundreds of little lizards! As the body comes to shape, it then colours, forming the exact form of Goh. Complete with his blonde hair and blue eyes.
"Hokage," It speaks, tipping its head a little in respect.
This is immediately different. Goh normally busts in through the door and gives Hashiramako a noogie for greeting! While at the same time as yelling 'HASHIIII!'.
"We are not Goh. Just assuming his image." It speaks in Goh's voice. Perhaps it will be easier for her to see him physically. They were close friends, after all.
With him, Hashiramako had smoothed over relations with Sunagakure after Satoru and Kirin made their notorious visit. He had also helped out Kumogakure for her in its time of need. On top of that, Goh had rescued several Konoha Chuunin and Jounin from the swordsman known as Yasushi during that Land of Waves escapade. They were captured, and he got them out. With her help, Goh had learnt more truths about his clan. Eliminated the bounty on his head, and even granted him enough leave to wipe out the Hunters indefinitely.
"Hokage, there is much we need to inform you about. And need of you." As he speaks, some loose Salamander fall off his body, before climbing back into the formation. Who didn't need her? Oy.
The Goh-Salamander being sort of nods a little, still wobbling. As if it's not bothering a huge amount to keep its form exactly. "Hokage. We have been sent by the Salamander Sage himself. Goh." It addresses, taking a shaky step forward. "First, we have come to warn you. It has been depicted in one of our … art-works. That Konoha will be under fire." This may come as a shock to the Hokage, thought it also may not. It is somewhat known that various summoned creatures have Elders who can see glimpses of the future. Were the Salamander capable of such a feat? "We do not know the details. But soon, Konoha will glow as red as the sunset you see now."
And then, out comes the second bit. "…because of this. The Salamander would like to retrieve the Stone of Spirit that was left here. We believe it is not safe in Konoha at the moment. Hokage or not, it is best left in the possession of Salamander right now. We do not fall under its influence. We hope that you will understand."
Little critters continue to fall off, before scurrying back onto the body.
"So someone painted a picture of Konoha in flames, and because of this the stone is no longer safe here."
The Hokage leans back in her chair and folds her hands across her stomach, appraising the salamander-being cooly. "That isn't very convincing evidence. Is there anything else you can tell me of this 'danger'? Something useful, like 'how to avoid it', would be pretty beneficial." Though appearing to be perfectly at ease, Hashiramako could feel almost every fiber in her being humming on end, thrumming with each twitch of movement the intruder made. Nebulous 'friend' or not, things that were not of this village just appearing in her office did not set her at ease. A lifetime of training and warfare created habits that were too old to break, and her eyes couldn't stop sizing 'him' up for potential threats.
"As trite as it sounds, I'll also need the password." The kunoichi tilts her head slightly to the side, her eyebrows raising a few breadths. "And an update on Goh's condition. If he couldn't come here to retrieve it himself, then he must have found a bit of trouble. Has he run afoul of something?"
"No." It responds simply. "…that is beyond our ability. All we know is that Konoha was depicted as on fire. The other paintings which we have obtained that show visions have already come true. Or are very likely to come true in the near future. How it is to come about, or why, is beyond our vision. As Hokage, it will be your duty to discover the truth." Just to add that onto her workload. Oy!
"Presently, Goh is down in the Salamander Caves with the healer, Mushi. They are meeting the Great Elder, Sanshouuo. Perhaps even as we speak." The true 'boss' of the Salamander. "Goh is … well. He returned to Sunagakure a few weeks ago, before we summoned for his aid. He is currently tied in with Salamander affairs. I cannot get into much detail about it." The figure pauses. It is either not necessary the Hokage know, or perhaps they do not wish to reveal private happenings to outsiders. "It is in relation to these Stones. There is more than this one, as you know." It seems that any information beyond this however, is not worth knowing.
"The password, Hokage," The form sort of stops. It then begins to recite a very long and detailed poem about shinobi tactics and warfare. Word for word, it is recited.
And then it patiently waits.
"So you don't know when. You don't know why. You don't know who." A pause. "You also won't tell me what Goh is involved in, or what exactly the stone is to be used for. Salamander affairs or not, what you are asking for is not a trinket or mere tool."
For a long moment after hearing the password, the Hokage doesn't move. She merely looks cooly across the room at the fake-Goh. The silence lingers until it becomes heavy. Was she simply waiting for the lizard-person to give up and go away? Or just taking an incredibly long time to come to a decision? Of couse, whatever the consequences were as a result of the stone being released, they would be on her conscience. So perhaps her reluctance is understandable as the seconds tick slowly by and become unblinking minutes of mental gear-grinding.
The kunoichi uncrosses her legs and stands with those two words, eyeing the other in the room solemnly. "But only this once, because I trust Goh's word. Tell him that if he ever asks for something like this again with so little explanation," Her eyes narrow the slightest bit. "I will come out there, find him, and strangle an answer out of him myself. …Please stand back, salamander-kun."
The Hokage moves around to one side of the desk, then grips the edge, motioning towards the other end. Once the faux-Goh has helped her move the writing surface (was it under the desk the entire time!?) next to the wall, the brunette stands next to where it was, facing the window. Her hands come together, forming quick, perfect seals. Anything less would result in failure. The wooden floor distorts, bends, and then erupts as if spitting something out. A large box, about two feet on each side, forming a cube, of smooth wood flies up into the air, and is promptly caught by the kunoichi.
As the floor reshapes itself back into the smooth wood it was before, the small 'chest' down. Six more seals are made, quickly, neatly, and a small, thin crack appears along the upper edge of the top surface of the wooden cube. A lid of sorts has appeared. Hashiramako steps back without opening it. She didn't like touching the thing.
"Take it, but do not linger in the village with it. Outside the protective wards it's influence might make something… unfavorable happen."
"When? …it is assumed to be soon." The Goh figure replies. "So be wary. But not who, when or why is known. The Stone itself may not be used at all. We simply deem it necessary that it be removed from Konoha at the present. At a later date, it may be returned. Goh apologised that he could not make it here personally. But … the matters we Salamander face concern our utter extinction." A pause. "…it is serious."
Watching the events unfold and helping her when needed, the clone-Goh doesn't question on why Hashirama doesn't touch the thing as its unveiled. Touching it was … bad. At least for humans.
With the thing exposed, the tower of Salamander shakily walk over to it. Leaning over it, the blue eyed figure peers down at the orb of Fire. And then, opening its mouth, a long tongue shoots out! It wraps about the stone completely, before drawing the thing back. Literally INTO the mouth of this Salamander Goh.
As this happens, all of the Salamander fall apart completely. Burrowing back into the ground. The need for the clone was now no longer there. "We will be in contact, Hokage." One lone Salamander speaks, peering up at the female. "Be safe. You have our thanks for this." And just like that, it poofs out of existence. Disappearing.