The Power of Control -- Lesson Learned


Meruin, Tsubaki

Date: August 15, 2011


Meruin, after the Okumo Council deliberated his fate, was sent to the Land of Wind in order to learn control under the watchful eye of Tsubaki the Shippodoku. Soon, he endures his first match and first pains associated with the changes he's experiencing where he must rethink how to approach what seems to be a situation with which he has no authority.

"The Power of Control — Lesson Learned"

Unknown location

After Meruin was apprehended by Kirigakure's authorities, he'd been knocked unconscious for security measures and when he came to, he was in
darkness. Mind flashing to panic from times locked in a box as he awaited dissection, the boy's breath quickened subtly, sweat beading on his forehead. His
spiders burst from his body, spreading out from him to give him a sense of his surroundings. They covered the floors and walls of his place of imprisonment
and, giving him the dimensions of the cell. A sigh of relief was breathed. This was not of Okumo-make. Indeed, it felt to be a seamless cube of stone,
perhaps one that was underground. A jutsu, then, perhaps. Ah, but a rectangle of light appeared, sending his spiders back to him and into his back as well as proving that the place was not as seamless as he had thought. Standing, he looked to the exit. He took a step towards it and suddenly staggered, his inside set aflame, as though his spiders had exploded in his stomach.

But he quickly reigned himself in, the boy standing up straight and walking out into the midst of his armed escort. Soon, he was told that his punishment had been decided. There would be none. Not for his previous outburst, anyway. Instead, he was going to be sent to the territory of Tsubaki the Shippodoku to learn to control himself. Of course, it was likely that he would die rather than succeed, but the problem was solved either way. His body was going through changes and if he could bring them under reign, he could become one of the most powerful assets Kirigakure had. It was the only reason, truly, that he was still alive. He turned his thoughts to the fire in his stomach, knowing that this was very true. Puberty was — pain flared and left the back of his head in moments, the void filled with darkness that covered his vision as he was knocked out once more…

Abruptly, he came to with a beastly howl, the boy jerking himself up into a sitting position, his arms wrapped around his stomach. It felt as if it
were melting inside of him. Anger and pain and bloodthirst and more arced through him as he tried to keep his mind together, to bring his senses under
control. He closed his eyes, the nine year old curling into a ball as he concentrated, gathering himself. He was winning over the tumult of emotion and
sensation. Enough to remember what'd been said. Enough to know that he was now inside the labrynth-like ruins that Tsubaki held sway over. Enough to know
that he was in grave danger.

The room was massive, filled with all manner of ancient stones that stretched all over. It's quite possible this place, prior to its destruction, was
a great temple. Remains, both complete and otherwise, of vaulted arches connected themselves with the high walls, some of which leveled out with the roof and
swept above to the domed structure. Within these walls were openings which lead to other places that have since collapsed or sunken to some degree into the
sand. These weren't any kind of rooms, though as they appeared to be cramped and small. This may be some kind of prison level, but what temple hosted
prisons? Maybe sacrificial chambers? All in all, it appeared as if this temple was its own village as in some places there were living quarters that still
stand, albeit some are missing roofing or others walls. It's very much a labyrinth and maybe it was built that way on purpose. And all of this was now
claimed by one individual…

Abruptly, Meruin rolled over onto his hands and knees, one still pressed to his stomach, as though trying to keep it inside. Grimacing, he pushed
himself into a forward stagger, free hand finding he wall of the cell as he walked towards the entrance. It reminded him… eerily… of when he'd awoken in
his cell in Kirigakure. But any symbolism in that was lost on him and his feeling-fogged mind as he made his way out of the cell, entering Tsubaki's ruins in

Looking around, the nine year old examined his surroundings quickly and habitually scanning for danger, though the lack of pupils in his eyes made it
difficult to tell that they were moving at all. This room was… expansive, it's walls stretching high (very) before sweeping into the curve of the domed
roof. The place was decidedly dusty and decidedly… archaic. It made Meruin think of a tomb which, he decided, was entirely possible. Putting the thought
aside, he began looking for exits, knowing that he would have to begin exploration if he was going to get out of here. The place was a labyrinth and those
who didn't know it well almsot always died there. So, he'd moved forward into the room, setting about learning it.

There were exits to this place, some of which were visible, though they were inaccessible, blocked off long ago. Any other exits are places that are
well hidden or intentionally covered to prevent easy escape. The high walls were an added benefit that didn't take much tampering as they were the strongest
of the structures to survive the destruction that this place met.

Tsubaki was hidden somewhere in this place, a cramped pocket with her body contorted to fit inside of it with ease. She's been watching over this
area for a while, waiting for the boy to come out and… 'There he is…' she thinks to herself as his reflection passed across the dark orbs that served as
her eyes. What was he to do next?

Not a short ways away there was a small section outfitted with a basin of water to drink, but not much else. A show of good will, though the supply
of water was limited. It'd have to last him his time here and should be used sparingly.

Meruin straightened his back some, spiders making their way down his legs to leave his body, making their way away from him, searching the premises
as he stepped forward to do the same, his long and light hair lifting away from his back, some, at the slight motion. He paused for a moment, looking down at
some of the spiders by where he'd first stepped out. They were fighting… killing eachother. Eating eachother. His brood was eating itself.
Shuddering slightly at this knowledge, at the thought of what he considered to be a part of himself eating itself. A moment later, he lashed out at
them with his mind, commanding them to disperse and perform their duties of searching the area. The pool of chitinous darkness scattered to do as he order.
Still, he could do nothing but stare at the dead and dying.

Tsubaki made quick work of moving, silently removing herself from the crevice an slipping into the ground as if it were a liquid. She prepared
herself, her fingers twitching causing her pincers to open and close in anticipation beneath the ground. Slowly, she crept through the ground, each step
bringing her closer to her prey. A young spider…

Silence hung in the air above the ground, the dry air seeming to hold some lifelessness to it and with good reason. Tsubaki wasn't exactly the…'lively type'…
"There you are…" She spoke as she burst from the ground and lifted one of her pincers, claws closed tightly shut to pierce him in the back.

The Shippodoku went entirely unnoticed by the young Okumo or his spiders as he continued stepping forward, examining his surroundings and clenching
his stomach. The sudden voice made him tense and he did something he'd never done before. He froze. Conentration breached, his the whole of his skin became
covered in a black chitin, protecting him from true harm as the pincer slammed into him, sending him sprawling.

His control over himself had been tenuous at best and Tsubaki's attack had shattered it entirely. Before he even hit the ground, he had twisted to
land in a crouch, his body covered in it's silken sheathe of platinum fur, four large spider legs bursting from his back. He leaned forward, giving off a
vement roar in anger and defiance to the Shippodoku who'd attacked him.

Tsubaki seemed mildly shocked that her attack didn't go through and instead struck something hard. She quickly retracted it, but found opportunity
in something else. Those legs…

A focused expression sat upon herself until the boy roared, her lips responding in part with a twitch of a smirk before it disappeared again.
Stepping boldly into Meruin's space, she leapt into the air with the intent to land atop his back and strike one of his legs to put it out of commission and
while she was at it, she would open her pincers and close them once more to ready them for four slashes to his back in double succession.

She was swift. Meruin didn't blink but she still ended up on his back, attacking him. He shifted, starting a roll to get out from under her. In the
time it took for that roll to finish, her first attack missed the spider leg because of the dip of the shoulder and her second pincer scored a small gash in
his back along his shoulderblades. The roll finished to the point where the Shippodoku was thrown from his back, her last attack going wide as Meruin swiftly
regained his feet, already stepping to go after her, growling at her. He unleashed a straightforward attack, leaping into the air after her. His visage a
feral one, he launched a flurry of strikes at her with poisoned talons, seeking to cut and rend.

Tsubaki utilized being thrown off the back of the young Okumo to take a tumble along the ground and effectively evade the poisoned talons that
sought out her form. When she was at a great enough distance, she paused and took the boy in where he stood and quickly took to the ground once more to

Despite the slowness of the assassination technique, she was beneath Meruin quickly enough seeking to drag him into her domain underground. Drawing back her pincers, she thrust her body weight into them to impale his underside.

As the woman slipped into the earth, Meruin paused, a new surprise flashing across his features as she vanished. A moment later he let loose a bellow
from the deep of his chest, voicing his anger and aggression. He hunkered down, pounding a fist on the ground at the moment Tsubaki came back up from it, her
pincer finding his body without obstruction, causing him a fairly good sized gash now. He let loose a scream of pain and whipped away, his arachnid legs
carrying him away from Tsubaki and turning him around to face her. Backing away somewhat, he sent another roar her way, sending his malice her way as his
brood rose up around her to strike at her.

No sooner than Tsubaki lifted from the earth, she'd be met with a fist pounded against the ground. One which missed, though gave way to a brood of
spiders. She made her way back into the ground to evade them, lifting back up from the ground in another part of their limited arena.

This Okumo was resilient and she could see this quite clearly, but there was a certain lust that lingered that needed to be sated. Placing her hands
together in a blinding fast motion of seals, upon finishing, she stomped the ground to send stone spikes spreading in all directions around Meruin towards
him and performed the move once again with a second stomp of her other foot.

With the stone spikes coming his way, Meruin did what any sensible spider would do. He got out of the way, his arachnid legs increasing his dexterity
enough to have him leaping on the spikes even as they rose out of the ground, traveling along them to move back to their source. He let loose a roar as he
approa— suddenly, he was in front of Tsubaki, an arachnid leg raising in a backhand of sorts.

Granted, Meruin's movements were somewhat difficult to follow, but she knew he had to strike at some point and when he did… "Heh…" She chuckled,
standing for a few moments while the leg rested against her, unmoved.

Lifting her hand to the appendage, she threw it off and stepped forward with a hand drawn back, pincer folded back to make way for her fist where
she proceeded to strike him in the face. Though, she didn't offer up herself for that role, no. This was the work of an earth clone. Her personal attack
would come in the form of a bomb of dirt dropped over the arena to conceal her.

Meruin was brought up short as his attack did… nothing, really. And then the woman's fist flew in and struck him in the face despite his effort to
avoid it, sending him flying far backwards far faster than he'd be pleased with. A huge amount of dust flew into the air, then, further disorienting the boy
in his flight.

Abruptly, his arachnid legs slammed into the ground, bringing him to a skidding stop, eventually, and he righted himself to find his vision hindered
by the cloud of dust in the air. He let loose a roar at being thwarted so, leaping up and out of the dirt-fog, moving to cling to the wall, his arachnid legs
anchoring him there as he searched the darkness. And he still had his spiders on the ground.

Tsubaki heard his roar and chuckled softly to herself. He's quite angry, but that's what she wants. She needs him to be angry and disoriented, his
senses confused. Nothing that he does is effective. An enemy that is…unbeatable. She's still in good condtion, though she is growing weary in the mind.
This battle is taxing because she's a bit bored and trying to find other ways to screw with him was becoming a bit of a chore.

She opted to take an easy way out and placed her hands into seals to cause a great dragon to rise from the earth and send itself to him, maw opened
as if to swallow him whole from his perch on the wall.

Meruin's head snapped up at the sight of the dragon flying his way, the earthen serpent streaking through the air with deadly intent. But the boy
showed no fear to it, bellowing defiance of the creature. He was the predator. He was what threatened, what dominated.

The uncontrolled boy threw himself into a sudden spin on the wall, a deluge of silk bursting from him, rotating. The dragon struck the silk and was
carried away by the force of it's spin, get redirected so that it slammed into the earthen wall above Meruin, tossing rubble that was also caught by the
silk. But the webbing didn't stop once the threat was deterred, instead expanding at an alarming rate, the acidic strands moving in all directions, hungry to

Tsubaki raised a great wall of earth to meet with the silken strands that were coming her way, keeping herself safe enough until the attack ended.
She waited, watching as the strands finished blanketing the area so that she could survey the damage. Her ruins, her hunting grounds, her territory…has
just been covered by this spider. She walked up the wall she'd created, visibly angered at seeing this portion of the expansive ruins seemingly marked with
this substance.

She gritted her teeth as her body began to take some form. Her skin slithered eerily as her muscles began to shift around before they settled in
place across the whole of her body. Her sight changes slightly, evidenced only by a soft charcoal grey mist that passed over her eyes before clearing and
revealing the void resting in the once more.

His foe's unsubtle transformation proved to be no deterrent to the young Okumo as she approached him. Meruin felt no fear at her anger, only taking
it as the challenge that it was, letting out a breath through his nostrils, a rumbling in his chest as he began to stalk towards the Shippodoku that
approached him, his predatorial motions smooth, arachnid leg's step precise, so that it seemed that he flowed along the wall and the speed of that flow
increased and did so again and continue, rising steadily until he was dashing along the wall at the Shippodoku, rushing her. His taloned hands opened and a
second pair of arms found their way away from his side, also held out to the side in preparation for striking. He put on an abrupt burst of speed as he
neared Tsubaki and let all four hands fly, poisoned talons flashing as many strikes were thrown in few moments.

The strikes of the Okumo would only come in contact with a short lived afterimage of Tsubaki as she utilized body flicker to evade his attacks. She
was nowhere to be found after evading him. She'd hidden herself beneath the ground once more, taking to familiar grounds to prepare an attack against him.
Waiting beneath the ground, attempting to track his movements, she sought to strike him once more, pincers at the ready as she fitted them to her
hands properly and squeezed the finger attachments to make sure it was secure.

His prey vanishing beneath his very talons tore a growl of frustration from the Okumo's chest and he looked around, swiftly, searching for where the
woman could have gotten to. When she didn't turn up he hissed at the air in front of him, spittle flying from his lips. He looked at the wall he was standing
on, lengths of spider silk sliding from his arms, coating with a caustic poison. Grunting, he ran along the wall, simply lashing out at the ground wherever
he went, looking like a spider crazed — which he was, really.

Tsubaki was nowhere near the wall, but she did know where he was at. The constant slashing, his bellows and all the mannerisms of someone who lacked
control was just outside, just above the ground. Gathering herself together, Tsubaki launched herself from the ground and into the air, pincers open and
ready to strike at any part of his body that she could grab with them.

A wicked smile adorned her face as she flew through the air, reaching out for her prey that was just outside of her reach. This clueless spider….
This strike was sure to disable him once she clamped down into his flesh and sent a shock through his body like none other.

Meruin's scurrying along the wall and lashing at it came to an end, abruptly, and he swivelled his gaze to where Tsubaki rose. She was swift, her
pincers striking all along his back, hitting multiple points with destructive intent. Luckily, the shield of chitin covering his back at that point was
enough to negate any damage, though it cracked, slightly at the pressure, before sinking back into him. The force of Tsubaki's strikes, though, had thrown
him higher, tearing him from his connection to the wall for a moment. The nine year old spun, sending two of his arachnid legs streaking down towards Tsubaki
to slam her back towards the ground.

Tsubaki contorted her body into that of a scorpion's, legs bowed, body concave against the wall she clung to in order to evade the first strike that
came against her. And while she didn't have a tail to work with, she did have 'claws' and countered against his second attack with a swift blow to the
closest part of his body to her.

She'd then crawl across the wall in the slightly stiffened fashion that scorpions do, perching herself above him in order to leap off and aim her
pincers towards him to drive his body to the ground, the momentum of her fall adding weight to her claws in order to pierce into that broken chitin that has
successfully guarded against her attacks before.

Meruin staggered slightly as Tsubaki's pincer came back in, causing damage to him as it struck the same spot that had led to the chitin cracking
before. Yes, her had built that spout back up but she simply crushed through it, throwing him off-balance and making him grunt in pain. The follow up attack
was barely dodged by the boy scuttling off to the side on the way. He vanished, reappearing above Tsubaki to slam one of his arachnid legs into her back,
hopefully sending her to the ground.

Tsubaki's attack just about bounced off of Meruin's carcass, or so she liked to think of it, leaving her open for an attack once more. It's odd the
way this worked, setting off this chain that she prevented from rattling any further as she raised her hands to seal and produce an earthen armor around her
body take the brunt of the slam from the boy's legs.

She kneeled at the strike, the armor falling off in pieces of different shapes and sizes now that it has served its purpose. The ground beneath her
feet began to shake as she cycled through hand seals once more and produced the same dragon she sent to him before, rising above the little arena to roar and
swoop back down to crash into the young Okumo with all the weight of the earth it could deliver, not to mention being caught in its mouth as it snapped down
on him.

Meruin looked up at the dragon as it made it's arc, coming back towards him. He stretched forward, letting loose a roar that was cut short by a sharp
pain in his side. The hurt was strong enough to break his constant ceaseless aggression for a moment and he realized that he had taken some serious wounds
but he hadn't been able to land a single blow on Tsubaki. She had been the one in control of this fight.

Looking back up at the dragon bearing down, some few flecks of fear found their way into his eyes and he made a hand seal — the first this entire
match — and conjuring up wind chakra to cover him as he leapt to move away from the serpent that was bearing down on him.

But he'd moved too slowly, the dragon catching him with the upper jaw of it's wide open maw. The force of his momentum and the dragon's clashed,
redirecting it's path so that it flew horizonally above the ground, carrying him along. It smashed into one of the exits, collapsing a the wall above the
entryway collapsed, leaving Meruin trapped on the other side.

The Okumo lay stunned on the other side of the rubble, simply breathing until he could get his wits about him. Soon, though, he would be on his way
and away from this place. There had been more than one exit from that room and there was no doubt in his mind that Tsubaki knew how to get to where he was
from where she is. So, he began trying to pull himself to his feet.

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