Return Of A Hero - The Night Before


Raiga, Hoiishime, Kaede

Date: December 31, 2011


A training session in Chakra sensing between Raiga and Hoiishime is interrupted by the arrival of Kaede — who then challenges Raiga to a fight!?

"Return Of A Hero - The Night Before"

Abandoned Temple - Land Of Grass

It is evening, and it is New Year's Eve. The year will be over in a bit over 5 hours. The stars in the sky twinkle and shine, even as the artificial lights of the Peach Pit Stadium drown out the same closer to Kusagakure proper. The moon gives a pale glow to the moist blades of tall grass that make up the fields. The ruins of a temple once used by members of the Shinobi Sect bear a light sheen as well from a faint mist that is beginning to turn into fog in this area.
Raiga has informed Hoiishime that he will aid the monk in his attempts to heighten his Chakra sensing capabilities. The two of them should be the only ones here… But are they? The sounds of animals, mostly nocturnal ones, in the vicinity keeps it from being silent. Crickets, mice, owls, wild cats, etc. all make their presences known. If there are other humans in the area such would not be immediately evident.
Right now, Raiga is sitting not inside the temple, or on the steps. Instead he is sitting on the broken stones and dirt at the base of the stairs, legs folded over each other, arms in his lap. Hoiishime should be somewhere nearby, if not right in front of him.

Indeed, the night had been full of creeping creatures, and those whose daytime, had been night time. Hoiishime was around, and of course, he was completely, and utterly estatic. Training, with the man himself. Hoii had been a kid in a candy store, and all he could do was smile as he would approach the stone steps, and then Raiga himself. He'd bow deeply, and then look to the man and his gargantuan stature. "I be ere', umm… G.-sama?" Yes. Hoii was unsure what to call the man now. He'd indeed been planning to reveal himself soon. Hoii, however, had been humble, seeking only to address this man as he'd been permited.

Kaede was young, or at least that's what his reflection in the mirror looked like. And he certainly qualified as both disfigured and crippled without the headband on, revealing a scar running from his eyebrow to the middle of his right eye, which was closed thankfully. He traced a finger over the scar as he stared into the mirror and wondered. After all those years, all the things he's seen, he looked like.. that. A innocent child. Bright eyes. Happy. From the outside it no doubt looked like he had a pleasant life. Kaede was fascinated. But his mood grew darker as he thought about what would happen soon. He felt as if he was called out by fate. Or destiny. Or whatever you want to call it. But he's loyalties were elsewhere.
"Balance." He said. "The Nightmare." The last part he whispered. "If I seek the first, I'll descend into the second again." And than, in that moment, he could see that place, in his eye. Cold, dark, empty. Pitch black. Just like his eyes. But as he stopped thinking about it, his eye got somehow brighter. Happier.
He shook his head, angrily. "Don't judge me!!" He shouted out as he smashed his fist into the mirror and than staggered back. "Crap, there's no helping it. I.. have to do it.." Putting on the headband over his right eye he turned around and headed for the door. For a moment, he wondered what Rain might say.
He figured that the monk guy… what was his name.. right, Hoiishime, knew Raiga. So, the best way to find the other is to find the first one. So he headed towards the temple where he last saw Hoiishime. And, to Kaede's surpise, Raiga was right there. At the foot of the stairs. Maybe what Kaede said last time had got Raiga thinking. This annoyed Kaede, which was visible how his brows furrowed in frustration as he moved towards Raiga, hand crossing in front of his chest.
"First of all" He says, no greeting at all, "I didn't come here because of what you said last night about me being fragile or broken." His voice sounds annoyed, as if it was taboo to even think that. "Second of all…" He didn't sound at all like the Kaede from before, "… I forgot. Anyway. I came here to tell you that I will lend you my strength in your silly endeavour under one circumstance." He pauses for a moment and looks around, at least the monk kid was there too. Now, Kaede nodded to him, acknowledging him, "You may not think you need any of mine, or you might think you are strong enough on your own or something, but I want to prove you wrong. For two reasons. My own satisfaction and to see if you truely can fight someone who may possess one of those stones you mentioned. Considering the storm may have been his or her creation." He inhales than, short on breath from all the talking.

Raiga nods to Hoiishime as he approaches. "Chakra is a very powerful force," the Yotsuki man begins. "But it is not the >only< force. There are others that are more potent… One of them is life energy, the very vital force that motivates all living things. Unlike Chakra, which exists because Physical Energy and Spiritual Energy are mixed together, Life Energy is locked in a cycle of mutual benefit with Physical Energy and Spiritual Energy. Because Life Energy inhabits a body, Physical and Spiritual Energy are able to be generated. Because those two are being constantly generated, Life Energy is sustained in contact with this world. If the body dies due to Physical Energy being utterly depleted, at the same time it is 'dead' because the Life Energy was unable to remain. It is a circle."
This lesson may be interesting, but it is also a bit odd to launch into immediately. "To understand this circle is to >begin< to understand oneself. But you are not seeking to sense your own being at this point, I imagine. So we will start with something else: range!" He turns his head to look at Kaede as he approaches through the tall grass. He nods towards Kaede in acknowledgement. "I am occupied at the moment, but I will accomodate your request." Then he holds up his hands and forms a Bird Seal, a Dog Seal, and then a Dragon Seal. A moment later, three Raiga copies appear, seated around him, with him at the middle. Clones, clearly. "You can fight these. If they prove not to be a challenge to you, then we can have a more formal sparring match at a later time. Is this acceptable, Kaede-san?"
The three Clones stand up, one at a time.

This lesson did come off as perculiar, but the fact that Raiga had started off with something so basic, so known, and so fundemental, had Hoiishime, very much intrigued. He would listen deeply, not giving off anything more than a very perculiar interest. He still wondered why Raiga had chosen to actually mention such fact in depth, and he even would seem to have learned some new things he had not known. However, Hoiishime, would have no real reason within himself to question anything this man said, at this point. Raiga was a blunt man, so Hoii had no trouble understanding. However, he would not understand why the large Yotsuki would even stop, just when he was riveted.
He'd sweatdrop when the man would simply switch subjects, but the confusion would not linger. "Range?", would be said with a blink, right before Kaede would seem to show up, apparently demanding something of the man he currently called 'sensei'. He'd be rude, as usual, and this would cause Hoii to roll his eyes, before looking again to see that Raiga, would seek to both supply evidence to the man's curiousity, /and/ teach himself, simultaenously. "..Wow.", would be said with a kids wonder, before Hoiishime would look to Kaede, wondering what the boy's reply would be.

"You've got to be *bleep*ing kidding me." Is the boy's answer. "You're not even gonna take me seriously?" Kaede plants his palm against his forehead and turns to leave, "And to think I came all the way here, without even telling Lord Rain." Kaede emitted than a pained whine as he took a step, 'Did you have enough?' he'd think to himself, as if punishing. 'What did you expect?' he wondered as he stopped than. He knew it was a bad idea. But, there was a.. tempting feeling about all this. He knew if he fought the clones or Raiga, he'd be 'descending to that place', as he likes to think. In other words, he'd be doing things all over again, the things he did as a person he no longer wanted to be. But he knew that someday he was gonna have to fight, for a noble reason. And what than? Fear. Fear is what kept him from doing the right thing, and now it was time to face it. And beat it. Descend into that place, and banish it when he no longer needed it. That was required. Sounds easy!
He turned around, childish smile on his face. "Though. I suppose, I can entertain you. Just to prove you wrong. You don't take me not seriously." His lip tugged back. He sounded like Kureno.
"Tsh." He said as he placed his hands together, "Maybe he learns a thing or two too." He obviously meant Hoiishime as he focused some chakra.

Raiga's head comes up from its somewhat-relaxed position, and he leaps to his feet suddenly. "You are right, Kaede-san! You have come here seeking to challenge me! But it is not just a test of skill you seek! Since you have bared your soul in coming here, I will not demean you by giving less effort than you deserve!" He turns and steps away. One of the Clones moves to Raiga's place and seats itself where he was just sitting. The other two vanish in the way that those using Body Flicker do. The Clone that just sat down begins to speak to Hoiishime.
"Yes! The first step is that we will work on the range of your sensing ability! Whether it be to detect an enemy before he arrives, or to find an ally that needs support, sensing at range is important! There are two other steps, but I will get to those later." The Clone seems to be fully intelligent and aware of what the lesson plan is. "One Clone is situated about 100 feet away from where you are seated. The other is 300 feet away. Identify what direction each is in, and then let me know verbally."
Meanwhile, Raiga himself moves forward to face Kaede. He does not pause to take up a stance, he just suddenly speeds up his advance until he is charging at his 'sparring' partner. He throws two punches at Kaede to start off with, and each hand is nearly the size of Kaede's >head<. He finishes this brief assault with a backhanded blow that aims his knuckles at Kaede's left cheek, with his left hand. The assault is not brief simply because of the number of attacks, but also because of how quickly the attacks dart out. The fastest in the world? Maybe not. But for a man Raiga's size and build it is >damn fast<.

Kaede smiles when Raiga instead decides to take Kaede seriously. That was a good thing, right? Well, maybe. Though, he did slightly surprise Kaede when he turned out to actually be, pretty fast for a big guy. Though, even without his power jutsu in play, he could follow the attacks, and react.
The first fist hits a wall of dirt springing up right in front of Kaede's form with fingers of both hands interlocked and palms cupped upward down, though the second one punches straight through the wall of dirt and into Kaede's face.
But Kaede is a fast learner, and he quickly turns what remains of the wall into crystal and shifts it into position to meet the attack succesfully.
"I hope that hurts." Comes Kaede's voice from behind the crystals. "Though, I am quite happy. I wasn't punched in a long time."
Kaede than plants his hand on the wall, while having his right hand in a seal position. "Crush." he simply says, and than adds, "Crystal Style: Crystal Barrage"
Well, it may or may not have been a surprise to any spectators that Kaede used the crystal style. But the way Kaede sees it, if Raiga is surprised by the wall suddenly having spikes and about to launch into his direction, thus slow to react, he's gonna be in some pain.
And just like that, with a thundering crush the wall explodes forwards, in a arc towards Raiga, sending all those sharp crystals towards him.

As Raiga would seem to have a change of heart, Hoiishime would sweatdrop nervously. He'd utter a prayer, and anyone that would hear it, would know it was for poor Kaede!!! Was this guy insane?? This was the guy whose pupil was now a current /Kage/!! Really??! Well, Hoii was ready to say the poor nut's last rights, if any were needed. Anywho, Hoii, though he was curious about this whole thing, knew he had training to do, and it was at least comforting to see that he wouldn't be neglected. He would watch the clone come and sit down, right infront of him, and still feel this clone to be just as imposing as the real thing. He'd fidget, then suddenly remember what they were doing, before saying, "Oh! Right.. Okay then." And began his concentration. The first clone, would seem to appear, but only after a long time of Hoii holding a seal. He'd be trying to concentrate, but his curiousity about what was going on around him, was besting him with every second. He'd barely pick up the first clone! "Ummm. Aaah… One be westerly!" He'd keep focusing for the other, and say, "Ya say dere' be two though? I can't pick up de' other, mon.." He maintain his search, though his eyes would slighltly open when he'd hear Kaede's jutsu.
As Raiga would seem to have a change of heart, Hoiishime would sweatdrop nervously. He'd utter a prayer, and anyone that would hear it, would know it was for poor Kaede!!! Was this guy insane?? This was the guy whose pupil was now a current /Kage/!! Really??! Well, Hoii was ready to say the poor nut's last rights, if any were needed. Anywho, Hoii, though he was curious about this whole thing, knew he had training to do, and it was at least comforting to see that he wouldn't be neglected.
He would watch the clone come and sit down, right infront of him, and still feel this clone to be just as imposing as the real thing. He'd fidget, then suddenly remember what they were doing, before saying, "Oh! Right.. Okay then." And began his concentration. The first clone, would seem to appear, but only after a long time of Hoii holding a seal. He'd be trying to concentrate, but his curiousity about what was going on around him, was besting him with every second. He'd barely pick up the first clone! "Ummm. Aaah… One be westerly!" He'd keep focusing for the other, and say, "Ya say dere' be two though? I can't pick up de' other, mon.." He maintain his search, though his eyes would slighltly open when he'd hear Kaede's jutsu.

Raiga sees the spikes emerging from the crystal wall as his fist strikes it. He thinks he felt his hand tingle a little bit. Otherwise, no visible signs of discomfort! But those spikes are going to be an issue. So he simply charges forward, somehow gaining enough momentum from a standing position that he is able to either knock the wall aside or possibly even damage it simply by slamming his extended arm into it! …And then he continues on through, as the crystal spikes tear across the surface of his muscular arm, and slams that same appendage right into Kaede's torso. Hard.
Before the rest of the needles can finish firing at him, he Flickers away at >point-blank range<, and reappears behind Kaede. After all, it is unlikely Kaede is going to shoot through >himself< to get to Raiga! "Hm! Are you certain you wish to continue, Kaede-san? It appears you may have overestimated your chances! Your courage and spirit will not be diminished by withdrawing from a battle that is not 'life or death'. Say the word, and we will be done."
Meanwhile, the Raiga Clone before Hoiishime nods to the first identification of direction. "Correct." The failure to identify the second will be met with a thoughtful frown. "I see. 300 feet is beyond your current range at the moment. Then that is your goal! You must learn how to sense Chakra as far as 300 feet away. When you can do that, we will push further. Until then…" He holds up one hand and gestures. The first Clone, the one that was only 100 feet away, comes walking over from the far side of the temple. The other one comes to within 200 feet, but is still unseen anywhere beneath the moonlight. "Can you sense the other one now?" Raiga's Clone asks.

"Crap!" Kaede exclaims as he takes a step back, his clothes suddenly taking on a crimson color. "Gah" He turns around to see Raiga behind him after he sliced his wall in half. Sure, he was confident before that rarely anyone could break crystal, even though that particular one wasn't that impressive. But still, Raiga has lived up to Kaede's expectations. And well, sadly, Kaede's expectations were low. And he wanted Raiga to surprise Kaede. So Kaede slaps his hands together and smirks, "Don't make me laugh, Raiga. This is just a scratch." Kaede says taking steps backwards.
"Though, I must say, I was wrong to hold back." Kaede pauses as petals begin to rise about the area, floating in a ring, dancing to a unhearable tune. "I guess I won't allow myself that luxury anymore. Let's see what you can really do."
And then what is left of the crystal wall heads straight towards Kaede (So much for won't attack himself) and just before it hits him, it bursts into those crystal fragments that resemble flower petals, though a keen eye may tell that they're actually flat in shape, and that it's the little light that hits them and gets distorted that make them appear like petals, and head for Raiga as they reform again into a oversized spike heading for the ground, with Raiga in their path.
And just as they would strike the ground, many more spikes would come from the ground and try to shoot up from around Kaede's opponent and trap him.
And the wierdest thing of all, the whole time, Kaede tries to keep eye contact with Raiga, with a single flower petal floating in between the two.

Raiga bellows out, "As you wish!" Then he fades out of the way of the first attack, but the swarm of petals is too much to simply dodge aside from, apparently. He is swarmed and encased in crystal spikes that fuse to the surface of his skin. Raiga hmphs! as he looks right on back at Kaede, unphased by the spinning crystal petal. It seems he detected the line of Chakra that attempted to insinuate itself into his head rather easily. He then… Closes his eyes and relaxes as he stands still, right where he is. Is he giving up? Thinking about his next move? Did he fall asleep!? It is unclear, but he is not taking any further action for the moment.

'So slow…' Kaede thought as he watched the first attack miss. And this was so intense that whatever Raiga tried last time to tell Kaede that he was broken, if he did again, he could definetely find this moment where the fatal nick in Kaede's heart was revealed so vivid as to be able to seen by even blind men. It was there, in the air. No need for even special jutsu. Kaede was.. faltering. Distraught. Not on the top of his game. He watched in horror as by a small twist of luck, Raiga was captured. A twist.. of luck. Has he truely fallen this low as to have to rely on luck?
He could see it then in front of his eyes as clear as day. And he wondered oftenly, if the place he saw now, were just a flaw of the technique he used, or if Kaede were genuinely mad. And the voice. Was it real or just a figment of imagination. It called to him. Towards the Nightmare. It tempted.
"I see you…" Kaede begins, as if talking to himself, "When I go to sleep. When I wake up. When I close my eyes. Just.. leave me… alone.." he sounded defeated, hand reflexively reaching for his right eye.
But it was clear to Kaede, that if he truely wanted to be as strong as he was before, he'd have to accept this curse. And it meant that all he has done, his self sacrifice, would've been in vain. But even so, he wasn't useful. Was he only strong when he was hurting innocent people? Was he only powerful when his power was used to sow misery? He was weak without it. And to think he even gave that voice a name.
He started laughing than. A chilly below of frustrated laughterm with Kaede's teeth showing in rage. And than he stopped. "Fine.." He said. 'If it means being useful.. than I have no choice.' he thought as he said the last part aloud, as if selling his soul. "I accept you." And for a moment he thought he heard something. Maybe it was the wind, or just his imagination. But he could've sworn he heard a voice say 'I'll release you'.
Maybe only than did he realize he was talking aloud and in the first wave of shame he was silent and looking at Raiga. But than he said. "I'm satisfied Raiga." Kaede begins, "With your ability. But this is no longer about your ability. Now it is also about mine. So entertain me, Raiga. For after this day, I don't think there's a way to untangle our paths."
And than the crystals keeping Raiga in place exploded in a myriad of sharp shards.

Raiga continues to remain still, though his body flexes in response to the crystal encasement he is in breaking violently. The damage sustained appears to be somewhat serious. Blood runs down Raiga's body from the parts of his flesh that were torn away or stabbed with crystal fragments. And now that he is free, he continues to just stand there, clearly injured, and yet not a single part of his wounded form indicates he is too weakened to continue fighting. He just stands there with his eyes closed. What is he up to? Is he going to let Kaede 'test' his skills by standing in place and taking the hits?

Kaede was different. Much much much more different than from how he was before. Intense, and yet, he seemed relaxed. Ready for anything. He seemed more like a fighter rather than a naive child that he appeared as before.
And Raiga. Why did he just stand there? Was he taunting? Did he want Kaede to get angry and make a mistake? Or did he in fact intend to try to counter another one of Kaede's jutsu?
Kaede smirked. "Well, if that's how you want to test my ability. So be it." Kaede says as his hand extends forwards, and the ground begins to crystallize. The grass becomes still in it's crystal personification. In it's death, it has become an work of art. And this art, judging by Kaede's sudden demeanor, was no doubt about to die. Horribly.
"It is strange." Kaede says, "I always thought that Crystal was destruction." Kaede laughs than, "But I was wrong, crystal is that which never changes. I guess, I too will never change." Kaede's hands ball up into fists. "Though, I don't think I regret it now." Finally, after performing several handseals, he claps his hands together, "Come Raiga. Do it. And if you kill me? Who cares!"
And than the air crystallized, and the ground ruptured with a myriad of spikes that were met from another uncountable number of those coming from mid-air. And Raiga wasn't the only target. /Everything/ was.
"Crystal Release: Blooming Fields of the Impaler!"

Raiga doesn't even try to dodge. He doesn't try to counter. He just takes the hits head-on. All those thousands or perhaps hundreds of thousands or perhaps >millions< of Crytal Spears come diving in… And they utterly devastate the general area. Most or all of the tall grass is shredded, trees are cut through, animals in the area are slain, and the Shinobi Sect temple is cracked and punched full of holes. The only one who is spared this onslaught is Hoiishime… Because suddenly he has all three of Raiga's Lightning Clones standing over him to act as cover. When struck, they vanish in electrical discharges, but they protect him long enough for the attack to end.
And when it does end, Raiga is still standing. Bloody, full of holes, probably with broken bones, and maybe with damaged internal organs, Raiga is still standing straight and tall, though he is breathing a bit harder than he has been so far. But he also seems changed. Just as Kaede has undergone a drastic change, so too has Raiga.
As a cloud that had passed over the moon finishes its journey, the light returns to be cast upon the devastated wilderness. And Raiga's face… His eyes are open, and have much larger pupils than before. They have turned a sort of golden-brown in the irises, as compared to the steel-grey he naturally has. Around his eyes there are dark-blue markings, almost like paint. His cheeks seem to bear feather patterns… Only they are 3-D. The final change is that his nose has grown much longer, and become hooked, looking a lot like a bird's beak.
Raiga says, "Senpo: Bai Baiorensu. <Sage Art: Double Violence.>" Immediately, a second Raiga appears in a flash of electricity >right behind Kaede<. There were no hand seals for making this Lightning Clone. It is simply >there<. The Lightning Clone bears the same markings and appearance as Raiga. Then Raiga blurs forward until he is >right in front of Kaede<. The identical, huge, Yotsuki men with the altered features lash out with lightning-shrouded fists at the exact same moment. Even if the attack does not hit Kaede himself, unless he gets >completely< out of range, when those two electrically-charged fists touch >anything<, an eruption of force will shred everything nearby, pulverize the earth into dust, and leave a crater where the ground >used< to be.

Kaede's eyes widen when Raiga literally stands there and /takes it like a man/. This was.. rediculous. How could he.. How could he just stand there and take the hit. Was he insane!?
And than, Raiga is suddenly there behind him. And in front of him. And in that moment, as Kaede feels what is coming, he spreads his arms out. Ready to do the same as Raiga. But when the moment came.. something.. maybe the voice… intervened. It was just like last time. When he self-sacrificed, the crystals ran in front of him and managed to push the attack of course enough, just enough, to survive. But this time. They were faster, and better. Way better.
In moments, several flowers and grass explodes into petals and fuse in front of Kaede and behind him, and provide a shield enough to avoid the worst part of the damage, but the terrible shockwaves and charged air still reaches Kaede, and gives him the jolt of a life-time.
Kaede falls to his knees, "Enough.. Raiga.." He yelps. "Are you stupid? What if you died? Why did you do that? Who would've restored balance? I can't do it." He sighs than as the crystals lose their glow, but remain and apparently, will never release the environment from it's clutches. This place, this temple, was now a testament, a landmark, of a time when two giants fought.
"I will follow you, Raiga. And I will lend my strength to you, so you can restore peace. But know this. I belong to Lord Rain, and when this is done, I will return to him. But for now. Allow me to bind your wounds. And look," Kaede glances towards the sky. "It's a peaceful night today. For meditation, huh? Sorry about the temple."

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