Date: March 20, 2012
Hashiramako approaches Daisuke about putting some of that massive stamina pool of his to use by locating and contracting with a summon animal
"Warriors of Balance - The Meeting"
Ancient Forest within the Land of Fire
It was time for another trip back to the Ancient Forest where the evil that once lived there has now departed and made way for life to return to normal. At least, as normal as it can be for the forest's standards. This time, the trip should be relatively safe, spare for an naturally aggressive animal or two that may call the place their home. Still, being mindful is better than being complacent with this place. Where they're going? They don't exactly know and that isn't out of ignorance more so than a lack of any means to getting to this particular place. This mountain where the pandas reside.
Hashi didn't bother to bring much with her, thinking to travel very lightly aside from having a sleeping bag to rest with and a few other necessities. She wasn't sure how long it'd take to come in contact with them. She looked to Daisuke, still curious about his decision in this matter to seek a summoning contract with them. The idea seemingly came from nowhere, but it's more than likely something that has been ruminated on for a while. "You know summons aren't easy," she started while hoisting her pack onto her back. A glance goes up to the village gates they stood outside of in the early morning hours of this day. Her eyes eventually settle back on him.
"If you do manage a contract with them, know that it's going to take a great amount of stamina to summon them. This isn't just strictly for pandas, but is true for any summon contract," she spoke softly yet her tone maintained a natural sense of sternness. "Put it to good use if you expect to summon them. Don't hold back," she advised. "We should probably start heading out now. By the time we get to the forest, the sun should already be risen and enable us to see."
Daisuke had been doing a lot of thinking after his successful showing at the Fire Promotional Exams. He had been going over his battles and the time he had spent in the cave, figuring out things like what he had done right, what he could've done better, and any glaring weaknesses. It was obviously an advantage to have someone looking out for him from within his body, spotting things he could not, adding opinions to decisions, and the like, but despite that there were still obvious weaknesses in Daisuke's combat skills that an opponent could exploit. He had spent a week in the library and perusing through books and scrolls in his aunts storage without permission, and had finally come across the idea of the Summoning contract. His mind had already been made up at that point that this was going to be the technique he learned next, but like any shinobi preparing to learn, a summoning contract needed a second party, the summon.
More research was done before Daisuke approached his aunt for help with the technique, scouring through data books on various known summons, but Daisuke didn't decide on his choice until he opened an old report from many years back where a Senju clan member had come across an almost human-like Panda bear and did some research into its origins and location. According to the report the Panda's were much like the Senju of the summoning world, with the members not restricted to any one strength, instead expanding out into their own chosen paths to become masters. These somewhat generalist summons could be the key Daisuke was looking for to strengthen his weaknesses and so he had approached his aunt with the information.
After the surprise, his Aunt had agreed to come with him to locate these bears, and the only knowledge they had was the old Senju report, having met the panda near the Ancient Forest. A date was set for the mission and Daisuke was thrilled to be joining his Aunt on another adventure, hopefully a little less dangerous than the last.
The morning of the mission Daisuke awoke super early and prepared his gear, meeting Hashiramako in a chipper mood. He seemed eager to get going and awake enough, light bags under his eyes suggesting that not much sleep was had the previous night. As they arrive at the gate, Daisuke is lectured a bit on the careful considerations one must take when forming a contract and smiles at his Aunt. "Stamina is something I have in excess, Mako ba-san. I'm more worried about them accepting me than the amount of stamina I will need." he says in response, nodding his head to confirm that he was ready to move out.
"You may have enough to work with, but summon contracts can be draining. Let's not get ahead of ourselves in confidence. That isn't to say that it's not alright to be, because it is, but when it becomes an underestimation, it turns to being cocky," Hashi explained to Daisuke, but his words were still valid. The acceptance was the more difficult part. She began to walk once the confirmation nod was given. "I agree that acceptance will be difficult. Summons can sometimes be particular. Some might think of summons as slaves and it's a foolish thing to do so. They're companions, much like the shinobi we work with every day; allies and should be treated as such. Like individuals, they have their own personalities because they /are/ individuals," she explained. "But you probably already know all of that, but I thought I should say something anyway," a smirk passed across her lips.
They continued walking through the forest, the dense canopy of the trees in this area making early morning feel longer. There's a light fog, but nothing that reduces visibility too much, cool perhaps and maybe even chilly at times when near water. Still, it's nothing compared to the Ancient Forest. It's a long trek there…
After sometime, they find themselves at the edge of the Ancient Forest and already the animals have started to change and assume their larger counterparts. The trees are gradually growing to massive sizes and the canopy has darkened the area somewhat, but nothing too much that they couldn't see. The sun is in the sky and providing the necessary amount of light they need to perform their search. Yet, it's been a tiring piece of work to get here, so resting is best at the moment.
"Thanks for looking out for me Mako-ba." Daisuke says after Hashi's advice, flashing her a smile. Throughout the trip he was silent, mostly thinking over things in his head, mulling over things like how he was going to look good in front of their eyes, etc. Daisuke had never had a problem with treating anything, whether human, animal, or any other kind of critter, poorly, which was surprising to some given the way he was treated growing up. When he had met Mushi the medical wonder in Sunagakure that empathy for other living things had surprised even her, as it has with many of the other adults he meets along his way, but for Daisuke it was simply 'Treat others the way you want to be treated'.
Finally after a good amount of time Daisuke stands on the edge of the Ancient Forest, Son Goku within enjoying the sights and smells of his old home once again as was Daisuke, Despite the long trek, the chuunin seemed to have gained an enormous amount of energy upon arrival at their destination. Even though he was eager to go, he realized that rest was best and he took a knee, crouching to gaze over the forest while retrieving his water flask and taking a long draught. After he finishes he turns to his aunt and asks, "So what's the plan? We don't have much to go on, do we?"
Hashi nodded to Daisuke's remark in silence, still maintaining a smile upon her face as they continued their journey…
Resting on the ground, Hashi fiddled with her back to retrieve the water inside and the food that she carried with her. She was hungry and thirsty from walking so long to this place and now she was finally able to partake of the fruit of her labor. Setting down a box, she popped it open to reveal it was a simple bento filled with various items. It was a bit meager, but it'd get her through. She had more to work with after all. "No, we don't have much to go on…" She answered in a distracted manner as she gave her thanks and proceeded to eat of its contents. "What we do know is that pandas can be found here, but only very rarely. I'm hoping that we'll be able to run into one…" She talked with her mouth somewhat full, presenting what seemed to be a youthful spirit still inside her. Swallowing, she continue with, "I don't want to stay here very long. I like this place, but it's nothing I want to call home after our time spent here before."
She plucked some rice from her bento and slipped the clump into her mouth to chew. Like always, there was some sort of roadblock, though this was more figurative in essence. The problem was finding a panda and that's even considering if one is wandering around at the moment. They've been spotted here from time to time, but that time to time often equates to 'once in a lifetime'. Twice if someone is lucky. Three times is just pushing it.
"So, I just say we use the information we have and see if we may find one based on what's provided to us."
Daisuke brings out some rice crackers that he had packed for the trip when he smells Hashi's bento opening up, figuring he better eat while he can. With his mom out on a mission Daisuke was left to his own devices to make a meal and, needless to say, it involved a lot of bags of crackers, chips, and some instant noodle cups. He munches on some crackers as he listens to what Hashi has to say, nodding his head when appropriate. "We will know if we find one if we are meant to meet them or not. I just hope we get lucky, they sound like such great potential summoning partners." he says as he looks over the forest and bites into another rice cracker, chewing thoughtfully.
"Haven't taken a liking to the forest, Mako-ba?" Daisuke says upon hearing it wasn't her favourite place. "I think it's fascinating, all these overgrown animals in their own world away from human influence. Plus I bet there are some good summoning animals around for others in Konohagakure!" He chuckles lightly and finishes his bag of crackers, lifting the bag to empty the crumbs into his mouth before he throws the bag up in the air and incinerates it with a simple fire technique. "I'm ready when you are."
"I do too. They are great potential, I think, but even still rarity," Hashi sighed and shook her head while taking to other parts of her bento to enjoy. She chewed on her food quietly, though in the midst of this forest, it still came out pretty loud. It was quiet in this part, with a few calls of different animals in the distance reaching them. From up close, they probably sounded like bellows, so it's probably a good thing that they sounded so distant. As she picks at something else, she smirks to herself a bit and lifts a hand to pluck away a bit of rice residue from her lips before answering Daisuke.
"I like the forest, just not someplace I'd call a vacation. Everything in here is double sometimes triple the size of common animals back home. No one wants that size of an animal come stomping up to their tent just to pop their heads in and say hi," she chuckled. "Others might not be so 'nice', if I can even say that. Let's hope that someone doesn't run into the aggressive kinds. It's probably all over from there," she rolled her eyes and slipped another item into her mouth. She could agree that there may be potential in here for Konoha, but they'd have to be ready for what they're going to face.
"They might just be good for summoning animals for Konoha, but they're not going to find me here again to help them. Oh no. I've spent more than enough time here. This time, they're on their own," she nodded affirmatively, though she was teasing. Finishing up her box with some haste, she closed it back up and placed the empty box back into her pack. "I'm ready. Just a few moments…" She rises from the ground and gives herself a dusting, picking up her pack soon after. "Okay, now I'm ready."
Into the forest they continued, deeper it seemed and surrounded by all manner of trees, save for ones that have fallen. They've provided nice homes for those that can live inside them and from so long of growing unhindered, they have an extremely tough exterior that protects against elements both physical and natural. Shrubbery and tufts of grass line this part of the forest with almost no paths existant. Seems this is a more isolated part of the forest one of many patches like it. The only ones around appear to be Daisuke and Hashi. Not even birds or other calls can be heard here.
"Well, we've come this far and still no pandas," she bit her lip. She didn't want to be stuck out here without accomplishing their goal. "I think we may have to take some drastic measures. I don't want to leave here without a panda showing up, let alone stay here. I vow that a panda is going to be found today," she slapped her fist into her hand lightly. "I'd like to be in the comfort of my home by tomorrow at least." But how? Hmm.
A quick scan of the area reveals the kind of area they're in. Around them are different shrubs of some distances, each of which hold some berries. There might even be some tubers around here to gather too if they look hard enough.
Daisuke chuckles as he remembers the various animals they ran into the last time they were there, the giant majestic elk, the giant crow that almost ate Hashi, the large lizard, and many others. It seemed like so long ago, even though it had only been probably half a year since they had come. "Whatever this place is, it will always have significance to us." he says as Hashi is packing up to get ready to go. He lets out a cheer as they finally continue on their journey and enter the forest.
As they enter the seemingly deserted area of the forest where the plantlife itself has sough to reclaim the area and push the animals out, Daisuke is already in the trees just above Hashi swinging from branch to branch to get a good vantage point over the greenery. He crouches on a branch as Hashi speaks, scanning the area with a small frown. "Well I suppose it wasn't going to be easy regardless, but I find it strange that we haven't seen any wildlife either. Perhaps this area of the forest isn't the right place to check?" he asks as he scans the floor of the forest around Hashi, spotting some berry bushes amongst the shrubbery. "If only we had some bamboo or something." he adds with a chuckle, as every kid growing up who knew about panda bears knew they loved bamboo.
Hashi waved her hand as if to dimiss Daisuke's remark, but it was only a playful gesture and she admits to liking this place regardless of the inhabitants and dangers that are around here.
"Maybe it isn't, but it has a lot of food to offer," she states and points around to different kinds of plants. "I think this can all be used to our advantage. We can gather up the berries and any other items and try to lure some animals to us. I hope pandas like to eat this kind of stuff…" She wouldn't know for sure. "Bamboo would be nice, eh?" She started after a bush to pick some of the red berries from it. They had an unusual shape, but seemed like they were harmless. She'd just have to test it out by taking a small piece to eat and determine if they're poisonous. Even that seems risky, though given where they're at. Then…something hits her. In her mind, that is.
"What does your 'inner self' know about this place? He's lived here his entire life. I'm sure he knows a thing or two about pandas. So, think you can get him to offer up some advice about them?"
"Son? Hmm." Daisuke says, retreating to his thoughts to commune with Son Goku. While inside, Daisuke enters the chamber with which Son resides, minus his chains now and free to stretch out and relax. It seems he has taken some liberties as well, adding a few things of comfort. Daisuke approaches Son and hops up on a chair adjacent to the giant couch Son is sprawled out in. 'Know anything?' he asks the giant Ape, already knowing that Son knows what was going on and what they were looking for. 'Maybe..' Son replies, scratching his chest idly as he looks towards Daisuke. 'So tell us and we can head home after we are done.' Daisuke replies, getting a little agitated at the lackadaisical attitude. 'Panda's were rare even when I was in power. They don't come down from their mountain too often unless they needed to gather food or other important things. Luring them out won't work, and would probably end up insulting them, as a trap would for any sentient creature. They are just as smart as yo-…err your Aunt is.' Son says before returning to sleep, done with what he has to say.
Daisuke opens his eyes and looks down to Hashi who was gathering berries. "Lets keep those for a gift when we find them, seems 'luring' out animals isn't exactly a good idea for sentient ones and we don't want to insult them, right? Good first impressions. Lets try by the river, Son says they come for restocking only, so water, fish, all the essential things you would need to live you can find a river nearby."
"Oh…" Hashi started and blushed a bit. She just got through talking about that earlier. Well, at least she understands better now. Now that she goes back over the plan in her mind, it was a bit stupid. "A gift should be good. I'm glad I thought to get that corrected before all of this went downhill." With that in mind, she goes to the other shrubs to pick their berries and at times kneels to the ground to dig up some tubers. "Think we should move to a different area now?" she wondered. "I don't know if there will be much in the way of animals 'round these parts." Shrug. Her efforts to pick up tubers and berries seemed to be going well and it wouldn't be long with their combined effort to find food for the panda to consume.
Daisuke nods his head and leaps down to help Hashi organize something with the berries before he suggests the river again. The river was a good source of water for animals and a large one ran straight through the forest, cutting through that open grassland area they previously visited before heading back through the trees. "Bears like to head down to the river, maybe catch fish, right? Man if only we had bamboo." he says, chuckling before he moves in the direction of the river, listening for the sound of rushing water. He makes sure Hashi is coming along before he makes his way through the woods.
As they move through the forest eventually the sound of rushing water can be heard, the giant river getting closer. Daisuke looks back at his Aunt with an excited look as his hopes grow. Closing in on the river, Daisuke would suddenly stop in a tree and look around. If Hashi stops in silence as well and listens, the sound of chattering can be heard. Was there other humans who had found this forest? Daisuke didn't think so, at least not from Konoha with any purpose to be in these woods. He looks down at Hashi and asks, "Should we check it out?"
Far off near the river, upstream from the direction the two were going, stood a large, rounded figure with a straw hat, about 8 feet tall with a rotund build. Dressed in oriental designed clothing of a more traditional make, this creature was busy talking to a giant squirrel in the tree. The tone of its voice sounded desperate though being so far away the duo of ninja couldn't spot this going on just yet.
"Hopefully that isn't seen as insulting either," Hashi remarked as she wandered off with Daisuke. The river was a good place to start. Water is always an important source of life. Upon arrival, the sound of rushing water greets her ears, a most welcome sound compared to the silence of the rest of the forest. When she stops at the edge and kneels down, she prepares to gather some water, but something else captures her attention. "…Hmm." Were there others here? Who could they be and who would be crazy enough to come on their own?
"I think we should…" She rises up from the river after collecting some water in a gourd. Tying it up at her side, she searched up ahead for the source of the sound over the river and thought she saw something something odd. So it was an actual person? "Let's go," she starts to head up a tree nearby and take a branch across. The river didn't seem too forgiving in the way of crossing it by foot.
Daisuke leaps through the trees, following his Aunt as she heads towards the sound of chatter. He was worried that someone had entered the forest and caused problems. Because of all of the silence they had been hearing before, with not even a peep out of a bird, it could possibly be that some kind of poacher or hunter had found the forest and was causing chaos. Whatever the case, Daisuke had to figure it out if they were going to proceed. Arriving at the river bank, he hears the voice more clearly now, coming from upstream. Motioning upstream to his Aunt, they continue on towards the voice.
Meanwhile the large creature was getting no where with the squirrel, who didn't seem to understand anything it was saying and just looked at it with large beady eyes. Exasperated, the creature had to look elsewhere or it would be out of luck. As the ninja duo grew closer the squirrel, perhaps sensing their presence, scampered off, leaving the creature alone.
Daisuke swings through the trees upon approaching the place where the sounds were coming from, using a large swing of momentum to clear the river and land on the other side, crouched right in front of a wall of pure white. He straightens himself up, confused at what he was looking at, his eyes traveling up the large white 'wall' of what looked like fluffy fur. Suddenly the wall turns around and Daisuke is eye to eye with a large panda bear!
"Panda!" he yells in surprise. "Human!?!" it yells back. After a moment of silence, both Daisuke and the Panda take another good look at each other to make sure what they were seeing was actually real. The panda before him stood around 8 feet tall, about 2 feet higher than Daisuke himself, wearing traditional garments and a large straw hat reinforced with metal. The look wasn't all that strange, but seeing it on a panda certainly was! "You can talk!" Daisuke says, all of a sudden realizing that it had said something.
Hashi ran across the branches that connected over the river and headed down the tree on the opposite end near the individual who was speaking with the squirrel. She didn't know others came into this area. It wasn't impossible to happen, but just as rare as pandas it seems. Once on the ground, she looked up in the air to see Daisuke flying across the branches by swinging. She isn't sure if she could attribute that to him naturally or if it was an influence of the bijuu sealed within him. She chuckled inwardly and refocused on the goal at hand.
The squirrel that took to their presence easily enough ran off. Looks like their natures remain despite how big they are. Must mean that they're still fairly low on the food chain in these parts if they still run off from anything that moves. Since Daisuke got to the person before her, she picked up the pace to ensure that she'd be there to aid in engagement. She's never seen this person before. Now she's really left wondering if Daisuke was this way all along or if the bijuu really compliment one another that well.
"Alright, I'm here," she remarked after flickering over to close the distance. "This is…who we are looking for." Right? She didn't expect the panda to be so tall. "May we have your name?" She inquired of the panda after hearing him talk.
The Panda takes a step back and, with a flurry of movement, unsheathes two large swords from his back when Hashi arrives. "Is this an ambush?" he says in a deep voice, his eyes squinting as he looks between Daisuke and Hashiramako, a little frightened at this sudden drop-in by two humans. When asked his name, the panda seems to visibly relax a bit, though the grip on his swords does not loosen. "I am Xun, apprentice weapon master, who are you." he says bluntly, still not completely comfortable around them. His mannerisms and appearance hints that this panda is not nearly mature, placing him somewhere around Daisuke's age in terms of mentality. The smell of berries drifts past his nose, his nostrils flaring as he sniffs at the air. A loud rumbling sound emits from the panda's stomach, causing Daisuke to blink a few times before laughing.
"I am Senju Daisuke, a ninja of the Hidden Leaf village around here. It's nice to meet you Xun, I take it you do not encounter humans much, probably about as much as we encounter sentient panda bears." he says with a warm smile that seems to lighten the mood even more from the stomach growling moments ago.
Xun looks over both of the humans from behind his swords before saying, "What is your business with me?" Daisuke gets a little nervous, looking to his aunt, before approaching the subject. "I was hoping to enter into a summoning contract with your people." To this Xun blinks, staring at Daisuke as if he were serious. After a few moments he returns his swords to his back sheaths and sighs. "There hasn't been a contract amongst our people in a good many years, not since I've been around anyway. Perhaps this is some kind of odd fate that you arrive here asking that, though." Xun says, going on to explain why. "My people are under attack by mongrels of the human clan, people arriving at the summit of our mountain in strange wooden carts, using weaponry and abusing elements to attack our monastery, sending my people into disarray. We are a peaceful people and because of this, many of our people have been caught or seriously hurt while others continue to fight. I was sent here to bring help back with me…" he says, trailing off a bit as he looks between the two of them. ".. if perhaps you would help us out, we could work out a deal?"
Hashi tensed. "Xun, apprentice weapon master. I am Senju Hashiramako, Hokage of Konohagakure," she introduced herself followed by a bow. She made sure to keep her head raised so that she could keep track of those blades. As she raises from her bow, her eyes scan down to the Xun's stomach and she grins. Looks like he's hungry. Perfect. While Daisuke keeps him busy, she thinks it's a good time to pull out the gathering of berries and tubers they found. "I am deeply sorry for the troubles that your people are experiencing and I'm sure my nephew here will help as would I with this situation. No one should have to suffer through the attacks of these people, even you and yours. Before that, though, you sound like you've been out here for a while and it looks to me as if you might be a bit weak. How about filling yourself up with something to eat?" She presented the food to Xun.
"We can't have you walking around on an empty stomach. It might not be much, but I hope it's enough to return some strength to you."
The trio sat down and made a small camp with Hashi offering the food they had collected to Xun before they discussed the details of the situation at the monastery.