Date: October 31, 2012
Mushi is brought to the Salamander Caves, where she catches up with Goh to give aid.
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"Quest for Salamander Senjutsu. Part 2"
The trip down into the Salamander Caves will be short and brief. For those that know exactly how to get there, the trip isn't long at all. So once Wanpo and Reiko enter the large caverns that house the Salamander family, the legendary healer is released back out into the open, the stomach quite literally ejecting her out.
The caverns are just that — very large caves that are dimly lit by torches placed on the side. Occasionally there is a random salamander that wanders around, seeming to give no notice at all to Mushi. The passage stretches downwards, deeper into the earth.
"Goh is probably already fairly deep into the caverns." Reiko says, Wanpo having agreed to not say anymore in case he loses his temper again. "In order to gain access to senjutsu, he needs to reach the elder that can teach it. Unfortunately, the elder is quite difficult to get to. If you fail reaching him, then you fall into the depths. Which is where he failed last time."
Mushi is ejected into the air, and lands lightly in a crouch. She straightens up and brushes a fleck of dust from her shirt. Not that it's likely to stay clean down in these tunnels. She turns to look at Wanpo and Reiko with a slight frown. Then she'd reach out to stroke Reiko on the head. It's a tender and brief touch, and she says nothing as she turns away to head down the hall. Swiftly and quietly. As she goes she sighs, just like back in the old days when he was an idiot too.
She'd go down the tunnel at a swift run, sensing the air around her for any approaching people. She's not too worried: earth is her element after all, though her summons won't be much help in these caves. The birds don't like enclosed spaces anyway. She'd go in silence, her brow furrowed in thought and worry.
Wanpo and Reiko will be left behind as Mushi dashes down into the caves, descending further and further down. There are no traces of human, though the salamander certainly increase in occurence the further she descends. Big and small, long and short. It's only a matter of time before she hits the biggest of them all, Igneel.
Acting like a roadblock, Igneel's head fits neatly in the large passage, blocking anyone or anything from progressing further. Only his head can be seen, though it's likely his body is just behind the head, out of vision.
Igneel's eyes open, the humongous skull drawing his attention to Mushi as she approaches. This thing certainly didn't seem like a salamander. More like a dragon, given its hard scales and other various pointy attributes.
"Who are you?" He breathes, the incredibly deep voice loud enough to cause the very bones to vibrate.
Mushi stops short of Igneel, staring at him and his size. Oh. Basalt. Though Mushi can usually keep her composure, and certainly some of the hummingbirds were massive, somehow Igneel is just…terrifying. Sure, he's Goh's ally. Sure, she is too right now. But there's something about being around a creature that size that makes you have an immediate, healthy fear of it. Or unhealthy, depending. She looks over her shoulder, as if considering making a run for it. Then, she takes a deep, calming breath. She'll let herself panic for five more seconds. Five…four…three…two…one…
Gosh, he's big. Way, way, big. Stamp her out with a claw big. Okay, be cool. Be cool. Another deep breath is taken, and Mushi reins in her nerves. "I'm Goh's…ally," she says. Friend? Ex-girlfriend? Both things she doesn't mention. "Nikumari Mushi. I've come down as a healer and shinobi to aid him. Wanpo…Reiko…they asked me to." Her voice had a quaver, but by the end it's quite steady.
Igneel sort of just lays there, a flume of hot hair expelling out through his nostrils as he exhales slowly. He seems to think for a long moment, though it's probably not that long in the grand scheme of things. "Po and Reiko told you, did they? I shall have to speak to them about that." His mouth barely opens as he speaks, though his tone is so deep it's hard to understand if he's angry or not. Fingers crossed that Mushi didn't just land the other two salamander into hot water!
"Mushi, the jinchuuriki. Once partner of Goh. Yes, I can see why they summoned you. Why are you here to aid him? I was under the impression that you two had…" He pauses, before continuing; "Seperated." He shifts a little bit, the very cavern shaking and rumbling. Perhaps waiting for an answer.
"Letting you follow him would go against quite a lot of our methods. Traditionally, this is a solo act. To become a sage, you usually prove you do it by yourself."
Because they guilt tripped her into it. That's what she should say, but it isn't precisely true. Nor is it true that she did this just for affection. She takes a deep breath and says, "Our separation doesn't matter, I'm already here. And…I think all powerful people know better than most, they're not anyone or any matter without our friends and comrades. That's how Goh-kun has always gone through life, using his bonds with others as his strength. In some ways during tests of power, I think that's the time that it's most important to know that we're not alone. And no amount of power can help us to rise above everyone else and need only ourselves." She crosses her arms. "Besides, you have plenty of man…er, salamander power down here. If you think I'm interfering too much then tell me to cut it out. And if you know Goh-kun, if he thinks I'm babying him too much he'll kick me out himself. He's a real idiot. Please, allow me to go and make sure he doesn't do something really, really stupid. If you've heard anything about him, you /know/ what he's capable of." She says it with a roll of her eyes, but with complete honesty. Seems her heartfelt speech has turned into a tirade against the pickler.
"Hmmm." Igneel breathes, seeming to ponder. "While all of that is true, it still does not permit me to grant you entry. But… I do like Goh." He pauses. "And I do not want him to die." With Igneel admitting that in such a way, it truly does seem like no-one believes that the pickler can get through this on his own. "Perhaps it is time for a new tradition, one that I can pass on to the sage if you reach him." Igneel will open his mouth ever so slightly, before closing it in a sudden movement. Only moments later, the ground beneath the healer will begin to liquify!
"You will join Goh, and aid him. To ensure he does not perish." He breathes simply, watching as Mushi will begin to fall deeper into the quick-sand like ground.
Mushi herself will find herself being sucked down. And then as she passes through, all will be dark for only a few moments. Then she will find herself falling! A good decent distance, before once again landing in a cavern. This passage is far more steep, stretching deeper into the earth.
Goh, still no-where to be seen.
Mushi stares down at the quicksand. Is she supposed to try and get out of this? No, he's saying she'll Goh. Oh granite, hold your breath. She squeezes her eyes shut and starts to gather her chakra just in case she /is/ supposed to…ahhh. Falling! "Gaaaaaah!" Mushi screams, before chakra surrounds her and wings of blue and flashing green extend outwards to slow her fall. She lands lightly, seems she didn't need them after all. Darn crazy caverns. She lets the needless wings vanish. It occurs to her now that probably all the salamanders know she is a Jinchuuriki, or at least a lot of them. She sighs. More and more.
Down in the cavern she sends out a clear wave of chakra. She doesn't suspect booby traps, but he did say 'if you reach him' which suggests a certain amount of danger. She proceeds swiftly but with a light, wary tread.
If Mushi did not expect booby traps, then she's about to be surprised. Hidden in the cavern walls and floor are constant 'presses' and switches. Some are activated by the sound of movement. Others are activated by weight. The various traps are all dangerous, and will require some serious reflexes to get around! It's certainly relying on the user to be a high-class shinobi, given the speed at which these traps fire out. If they're activated at all. Some traps are poison darts that shoot out from the ceiling. Other traps involve flumes of magma firing out from the walls in swift, short bursts. Threatening to burn the poor victim alive.
Assuming Mushi doesn't perish from the traps, she will continue to progress further down, where the sound of noises can eventually be heard in the distance. Combat. She was getting closer!
Mushi finds herself ducking beneath darts and dodging fiery plumes of fire. After awhile she wraps herself in a cloak of blue chakra with six wings. She's able to evade some of them, but even the ones that hit never damage her. Any attacks that come close either meet a cloak as hard as diamonds or are burned up in the acidic, bubbling chakra. She seems to have excellent control over her cloak, and down here she can use it without fear of being discovered. Who but the salamanders and Goh would be around here?
After awhile she hears the sounds of combat, but instead of rushing forward blindly she continues her swift yet steady pace. Always wary of traps, ducking and dodging in turns. Getting closer to Goh. And cursing them all, particularly Reiko and Wanpo. If they'd told her about this…wait, she would've gone anyway. Seems Goh isn't the only idiot.
The traps will continue for a good long while, some trap doors and falling spikes even thrown in for good measure. Once passed a certain point though, the traps will end. Not long after this, the passage will expand into a vast, vast cavern. A huge space shaped like a dome, big enough to put maybe half of Konoha inside.
But that's not really what draws attention in this place. Lit by plenty of torches along the walls, the large form of Wanryo can be seen in the middle of this dome. And standing ontop, Goh. Together they appear to be facing some sort of… demon.
Appeared to be made up of flame and shadow, the enemy figure stands at a great height, a little taller than that of Wanryo. It appears to be in the shape of a man, though the grotesque horns and and other weird attributes would suggest that it's obviously not human. It wields a whip made of fire which it lashes around at the pair fighting it. Given the condition that both Goh and Wanryo are in, they have been fighting this creature for a long while. And on top of that, are losing.
"Kuh!" Goh manages to block the lash of the fire-whip with his shield, though the sheer force in which he's hit with sends Goh flying off Wanryo, hitting the ground and tumbling to a stop. He appears to slowly get to his feet, while Wanryo continues to engage.
The demon opens its big mouth, a fiery breath sweeping across the area.
Black seals would fly through the air like living ink, forming a wall around the enemies of the Balrog to shield them. Mushi sighs lightly as she cames into view making a few seals so that chakra shimmers around her. Then it blasts out, spread to every corner of the cavern. Goh and Wanryo would feel the wave wash over them warmly, wonderfully, healing their wounds in the wash of chakra. However, it'd freeze the demon in place for a small amount of time if the monster took it undefended. Mushi comes into view then, right beside Goh. "You really are an idiot," she says dryly. Chakra is shimmering around her, a blue green like her bijuu. However rather than the usual feeling of burning malevolence found in a bijuu chakra this one has almost a cool, calming aura.
The healing technique does wonders. Goh feels the familiar sense, his eyes snapping open, the blonde getting to his feet. He sort of looks at the healer in a way that shows his surprise. But not before asking bluntly "What the heck are you doing here?" At this moment the demon breaks free of the frozen technique, stomping on the ground heavily. "Obsidian!" Goh cries, before moving to leap away and back onto Wanryo's head.
At this moment, the demon of flame and ash sort of crouches down a bit, before opening its mouth to spit out an epic flume of steam. Nigh invisible to the naked eye, this steam shoots across the ground, threatening to melt the skin from Mushi's bones if it hits.
Meanwhile, Goh spits out his own attack to the creature, as does Wanryo. Continuing to try and bring it down.
What? He's fighting the Monster of Death and he wants to know why she came? Isn't it enough that she came? Mushi scowls at Goh. "I came because you're too stupid to even breathe. I'm surprised you haven't suffocated by now!" There's some of her venom that's come back. But she doesn't take her eyes from the demon as she says so. Why are the evil things so ugly? Where are the beautiful, handsome, or cool looking bad guys? A hand extends from her cloak impossibly long and large, made of clear chakra that would lash around like a whip and hit the monster…passing right through it. But it'd drain the thing so severely that it'd be immobilized once more. Seems that many of Mushi's attacks are made to paralyze, not harm. But she can leave that to the other two.
Perhaps surprised that Mushi's bones aren't melting or anything, the demon turns its attention to Goh and Wanryo. They do battle once again, various attacks of fire and heat being flown back and forth to each other. The magical transparent whip passes through the enemy easily enough, causing it to fall down onto a knee in surprise. Given its immense size and stamina however, it probably doesn't do quite as much 'damage' as Mushi was hoping for.
Yet still, it's a chance.
"Now, Wanryo! Smoke it!" The large salamander will open its gigantic mouth, and what follows is a large breath of purple mist being expelled. It sweeps across the area, engulfing the demon entirely.
Both Goh and Wanryo are huffing and puffing, the heat of this deep cavern perhaps starting to effect the pair. The purple smoke eventually dissipates, though it seems to have done nothing at all. The creature is standing back up again, having recovered from the attack that Mushi used. The fire whip flings at her, hoping to burn her severely!
The fire whip would hit Mushi, but when it fades she's quite unfazed by either whip or fire. There's that cloak shimmering around her, turning soft once more. She can harden or soften it at will. As Goh and Wanryo send out a cloud of purple mist Mushi starts making seals. The caverns start to tremble, and then the ground of the floor would launch up in a wave of soil and rocks, rising like monstrous jaws to crash down on the creature right after the mist surrounds it. Trying to swallow it whole. Mushi doesn't look tired…yet. But she does keep an occassional eye on her two teammates, just in case one of them needs a breather. "Stick in there guys," she says.
As the ground pretty much /comes alive/, the demon wheels about a bit, perhaps confused on how to best defend. Given its size and structure, fast movements weren't really its thing. So what does it elect to do? Brace! Which is certainly not the correct way to block the movement.
As the monster is slowly devoured, it tries to crack the whip once more. Fortunately (for it), the end of the whip manages to catch Goh's ankle! Goh, who is exhausted, can only look on in surprise and horror as he is dragged OFF Wanryo and then along the ground, skidding into the devouring jaws of earth.
"…oh man." He gets out, staring at the whip of fire burn into the skin of his leg. Wanryo is quick to act however, spitting out its toungue to grasp onto Goh's arms. So now the pickler is being pulled from two directions. One from the arms, Wanryo, the other from the leg, that being the demon as it is slowly eaten.
Fingers crossed that Mushi intervenes! Either by turning off her technique or getting the whip clear of Goh's foot.
Mushi looks uplifted when the attack catches the monster, and then horrified when it manages to drag Goh down. She has to…no, wait! Wanryo caught onto him. If it weren't so terrifying she might snicker from how comical it is. A giant demon tongue and giant lizard tongue pulling on you in a mad game of tug-of-war…now /that's/ something you don't see every day. *rimshot* Fortunately, Mushi isn't standing there and thinking this. Streams of chakra shoot from her cloak, sharpening into spikes at the end that'd be aimed at severing the tongue right from the demon's bodies. She can bend the chakra at will, making them flexible and sharp even from afar. But she's also running up at the same time to help pull Goh back.
The razor sharp pieces of chakra zoom through the air with great precision. The first one hits the whip successfully, though it does nothing. However, the second one appears to hit much more of a sweet-spot, causing the whip to release from Goh's ankle.
The demon cries in defeat as it's consumed by the ground, the whip and beast dissapearing deep into the darkness below.
Wanryo nearly collapses itself, opting to lay down and relax its toungue to ensure that Goh doesn't fly back into its own mouth!
The pickler, now released, slowly stands up. He still remains on his haunches, breathing heavily. Despite the recent heal that Mushi just provided. "Oh man…" He gets out again, before standing up straight. He wobbles over to Wanryo, resting a hand onto the giant salamanders head. "You alright, Ryo? Well done." He smiles a bit, before he turns towards the inevitable issue he has to face.
Mushi lets out a long breath. Then she staggers towards the two and lays her hands on Wanryo. Goh would feel a tingle as she begins to heal his salamander. Wanryo would feel a wave of peace and warm chakra wash over him, erasing both pain and stress. It's a healing technique that's also a powerful relaxant. She doesn't look at Goh or even say a word to him. But right after she's done with that she'd turn to him and start healing his wounds as well. This one would be more like a cool, cleansing wave than a warm, smoothing one. "Humans aren't very battle ready after they get a therapeutic heal," she explains. "We should move on after this." Then she'd take out a vial of some liquid, and hand it to Goh. "Drink that. And don't complain about the taste." And yes, it'd be horrible. But it'd give him a small boost of energy.
"We?" Goh replies, in a tone of disbelief. Drinking the potion, he swallows it easily enough. This was a guy that made a living out of things that tasted terrible, after all. "I'm not sure why you're here, Mushi. How you even got here, or how you even knew about me down here. While I appreciate the help, the demon is nothing I couldn't have handled." If he was pinocchio, his nose would no doubt start to grow! "After two days, I was starting to wear it down."
Wanryo at least seems relieved to be healed. "Thanks." It tries to whisper, though its loud voice ensures that the pickler can still hear it.
"…AARRRGH!" Goh cries, rubbing his hands wildly in his blonde hair. "You're so confusing! You nearly destroyed me in Sunagakure, then you come in out of no-where to make sure I scoot through alright? What's up with you? You're so hard to understand!"
Mushi stares at Goh. He really wasn't in on Reiko and Wanpo's visit to her, was he? She does recall he doesn't know the reason behind her actions. Even /reptiles/ could see it before he could. She runs a hand through her hair as if trying to smooth out a headache. She's released her bijuu cloak and now she's sweating slightly, but looking none the worse for wear. She does smirk and say, "Two days? You know, to convince me you were going to beat it you should've said more like…two hours. Two minutes."
She jumps slightly when Goh cries out. She really does not want to have this conversation. "Yeah well if you want to hold a grudge and not even thank me for helping you, that's your decision," she says, raising an eyebrow. "But everyone was worried about you. Even Igneel let me pass before you could do something really, really stupid." She gives a self righteous nod.
Goh grumbles a little bit. Did the salamander really have so little faith in him? "Hold a grudge? Are you insane?" He asks again, before grumping away. He doesn't stagger, but doesn't seem entirely pleased. He had been angry with Mushi for a long while, though it would be unlike him to be angry for at least one incident. Maybe there's other things that have got him riled up? Who knows.
"I never do stupid things. I'll have you know I'm part genius. Other part of course awesome. You should know that by now." There's still no smile. Said so matter-of-factly.
"Well, whatever. If you want to follow me, I can't stop you. If Igneel really did let you pass… well, I don't want to be on the end of an argument with him. The rest of the way should be pretty clear. Last time, the demon got me and pulled me under with it. So I haven't exactly progressed this far before." He turns around, looks at Mushi for a bit, before looks back in front of him. "C'mon."
Mushi's face is passive as she listens to Goh. Neither angry or hurt, sad or happy. She's standing there as if it's completely normal for her having shown up to help him win a giant tug of war game. But at the end she does smile ruefully. It goes as quickly as it comes though. She says, "That's right, I'll follow you and you can't stop me. I'll help you, heal you, do whatever it takes to help you achieve Sage Mode." There's more she could say, including to explain herself, and she even opens her mouth to say something else. Then she closes it and adjusts her pack, brushes some soot off from the coat she is wearing. "But don't do the salamanders an injustice. Flip the situation in your mind. If you and Igneel switched places, wouldn't you bend the rules a little to give your friend an edge on his second attempt at a deadly trial?"
"I guess." Goh admits, though he doesn't seem happy about it. "How did you even get INto the caves?" He asks, turning back around to look at her. "It just boggles my mind. No-one can get in unless you're invited. Bleah, doesn't matter. Just have to try and get through and into the sanctuary."
The pickler will lead the way, exiting out through a small passage on the far side of the cavern. As opposed to every other tunnel that they have progressed through, this one actually has an incline, suggesting that as they walk, they continue to move up to the surface. There don't appear to be any further traps. At least, none as traditional as the ones before.
"Why did you visit Jump?" He asks suddenly. "I get that you wanted to see your friend, but knowing how much you were avoiding me, I thought you would invite him away from South Beach." May as well have some sort of conversation while walking, right?
"Museigan Forest could've really used that invitation only thing," Mushi says distractedly. She shoves her hands into her pockets and walks slightly behind and beside Goh. She periodically closes her eyes as if scanning the area around her. Though she doesn't seem to be using any sort of jutsu. However, her face goes very still when he mentions her visit to Jump. Her visit to Aburei. Seems he didn't hear about her other visits there, that's good.
When he mentions Aburei, and his guess at what she was doing there, Mushi lets out a visible sigh of relief. Though that sigh goes unexplained. As for Jump she says, "It's fine if Aburei-kun stays in Jump. So long as you allow your members to choose their missions, and make none of them mandatory. Neutrality can be maintained in Jump with a careful tread. That's what I say, but really the brat joined without asking. So I could either allow him to stay and keep our relation with Jump fluid. Or I'd kick him out and condemn your place as a new shinobi village. I know too many people in your group to disgrace Jump like that."
"You have no relation with Jump, aside from Aburei. You made sure of that, remember?" Goh asks. "I tried to reach out to your hospital to try and work something out, but you wouldn't have any of it. You sent some big muscle bound dude to tell me." He turns around to look at her, as if confused, and bothered. "This is what's been bothering me this whole time. You would honestly not want to help the members of Jump in times of need? Not be willing to heal us, just because of you and I?" He wrinkles his nose, before turning to look in front of him again.
"Anyway, what's done is done. Museigan Forest? What's that? Is that the place you were at when everyone thought you were gone?"
The path gets a little steeper to walk up, the dirt loose as if it had been bothered recently. And then, after it gets to its steepest, it begins to level out and become horizontal. As if it's becoming a regular cave.
"Ha ha," Mushi says, sounding amused. "No other healers have joined Jump because they've chosen not to. Many are waiting to see where it goes. Sorry about my envoy, I told him to say that. I don't plan to open a formal arrangement or even informal arrangement with you. I never have with anyone, except so long as a job lasts. But rest assured that when the time comes we can help each other out." She gives Goh a hard look. "I thought you'd know that. Read between the lines, Goh-kun. Do you think I'd let one of my healers stay in an organization if I planned to abandon it?" She turns to continue walking, though now she looks a little angry. "And yeah, Museigan Forest was the place I was. The giant animals there value their privacy, and unlike this place they don't have a magical barrier to keep people out. It caused them problems in the past. So I didn't tell anyone about it."
"After the stuff you've been doing lately? Who knows. Sure. I thought anything would be a go with you. You were off the hook. Didn't know what was going on." He nods a little bit to the Forst explanation, the pair continuing to walk along the cave. "One of your healers, huh?" He asks simply, before squinting a bit. He's about to continue on that conversation before he narrows his eyes.
"Look, nearly at the exit." Sure enough, in the vast distance ahead, a small speck of light can be seen. As the pair continue to walk along the stretch, the light will grow brighter. And then they will walk out into what the salamander dub the 'sancturary'.
It's essentially a very green valley. Exactly where, Goh isn't sure. Though given the surroundings nearby, it's not in any place Goh has seen before. There is lots of shrubbery and trees about, and humidity is high. Some small salamander can be seen slowly making their way about.
Whatever this place is, it hasn't been touched by humans in… decades. Maybe even centuries.
What can she say to him? All her carefully laid plans have been negated by her having come here. Mushi presses her lips together and resolves to say absolutely nothing about their current relationship. Though she knows she may have to get around eventually explaining why she beat him up on one occassion, ran from him on another, and came down to help him with Sage Mode on the next. She sighs. It's just too much.
When the exit comes up Mushi blinks at the sea of green. "It's really lovely," she says, almost wonderingly. "It looks so pure and beautiful." She takes off her cloak and rolls it into a tight bundle, tying it off. She won't really need it in this kind of warmth. For awhile she just stands there appreciating the view, watching the salamanders move around.
"It's definitely pretty nice. The sanctuary is a place that few salamander get to ever see. Even Po and Reiko haven't been here before. Meant to be this super special place that only the sages get to visit." Which is further confusing to him on why Mushi was here! Oh well. "The Elder, who sort of sits atop boss Igneel I guess, is meant to live around here. He can give me the pointers and instruction on what to do next." He sort of swallows, before taking a step.%r%t"Guess we should be careful not to break anything. Let's roll." And with this, he begins walking again, hopefully to find the elder Salamander.