Date: August 10, 2012
Goh and Kazeodori go out looking for herbs, only to find something else awaiting them in the desert.
"Worms in the Sand"
Receiving word that Kazeodori was all healed up and ready to go, Goh had swung by the hospital to let him know of the plans. Kazeodori would of course get some time out of the hospital to check up with his friends and family, and then the following day, would meet up with the blonde wanderer just outside the Village Entrance.
The meet up was successful, the pair going over some basic prep and safety routines in the early morning sun. Then, they had set off! Goh, wearing what appears to be a large scroll. It's fastened to the back of his hip, sticking out quite obviously.
At this time of day, it was still crisp and cool. The sun was still making it's way up through the sky, after all. Though of course, it won't be very long until it heats up!
So Goh plods along next to Kazeodori, squinting about. As if trying to get a bearing on where he is. "So where are we headed first?" He takes a look at the notepad that he received back from Kazeodori, peering at the plants sketched upon it. Some of those did look ideal.
Kazeodori plods along beside Goh, his enthusiasm for helping Mr Pickle belied by his still stunted range of motion. Wounds take a long time to heal, and though the Genin is fit enough to traverse the dunes with a chaperone, he is not yet fully himself. Hopefully, the joy de vive of this young man will compensate for his limited mobility. For all of his time at hospital, the young man couldn't think of too many distinctive desert plants. In fact, for the most part, he only knew the ones which one needed if lost and injured in the desert.
"Well," begins the Genin, dragging himself along, "what kind of plants do you need?"
Goh had not, in fact, specified what sort of plants he was looking for. Thus, Kazeodori simply drew every plant he could think of, hoping one of them looked like something the other might need. But now that they were here, in the beating sun, the press to do the job was more… pressing.
Goh flips through the list of pages, scanning each as he does so. Sketching was such an important part of being a shinobi. Obviously this isn't really a 'mission', but the skills certainly transfer. Coming to a stop on top of the dune, the blonde squints once more as he takes a good look at the view all around. Yeah, it's a good thing he had a guide.
"Here. What about this one?" Goh suggests, handing back the notepad after it's been flipped to a certain page. "We can settle with just this one for today. It's a rare herb that you can only find in the sands of Sunagakure. I used to use it all the time, but… well, it's become a little lost. Most of my customers would love for me to start using the ingredient again! It really adds a unique flavour."
"Oh yes… that one…"
Kazeodori analyzes the plant on the page. How is he supposed to remember if one of the plants he sketched was actually a plant, or something he just made up at the time? Goh seems to believe that such vegetation exists, so Kazeodori supposes it must too. A soft shrug lifts the shoulders of the Genin, and he peers out across the length of the dunes, into the nothingness which never ends. Well, to be true, it does end, at some point — but it certainly doesn't seem like it.
Kazeodori begins his descent of the dune the due are currently standing on, saying as he goes:
"Well, there's a reason those have become so lost. People keep picking them."
A sour note indeed intrudes upon the youth's sentiment, lingering, as it does, beyond the Genin's shoulder for Goh to hear. Perhaps it's just the dawdling malaise which settles over those still recovering from injury. Or perhaps Kazeodori is a bit protective of this place he calls home, and - in hindsight - regrets taking around Mr Pickle so that he might collect all the desert's precious plants. It is, after all, a desert, and vegetation is not the most abundant of things.
"But, if I remember, they grow in cactus shade."
"I guess that's true." Goh replies to the Genin, a grin coming across his face. "But if it makes you feel any better, I'm using them to the best of my ability. It's not like I'm just picking them and throwing them away. We're helping peoples lives, you could say!" He chuckles. "I mean, you wouldn't dig into a medic nin for picking herbs and such, would you?" Goh isn't seriously comparing his pickled vegies to healing medicine, is he? Oh dear.
Regardless, he continues to plod along, the large scroll apparently not bothering him as they continue to march along. "Cactus shade? Huh… yeah, that's right! Just… gotta find some cactus. You don't happen to know where any are, do you?" Again, the blonde takes another look around.
"You're looking nice and healthy, by the way. You heal up fast. I told Itami about the situation. She seemed pretty concerned, to be honest. Not so much about the puppeteer, though that is troubling, but more about your welfare. I think she sees plenty of potential in ya."
The Genin stops as the pair make it to the toes of the sand dune, their tracks standing out like ink on snow. The youth brings a hand above his eyes, blocking the sun which has already made it uncomfortably hot, and whose rays beat down like the treble of it's great heart. Kazeodori has, it would seem, ignored the majority of Goh's s spiel regarding the benefits of his pickled goods. Such a change of pace has the boy apparently come to; such a twist of heart for each step taken further into the desert. It would seem that the boy's enthusiasm, so eager to undertake this expedition, has dwindled as do rivers in the desert: to practically nothing.
"She does, does she?" states the boy, flatly, uninterested, all the while scanning the horizon for some dot of green, some spike of plant which would help further this trek along.
Kazeodori stops moving. His hand drops to his side, his face now scrunched before the light of the day. He turns, to face Goh, one eye pulled shut, his mouth tightened up too against the sunlight. He stares at the man a moment, and it would seem his reluctance is about to take tongue.
"Last time we met, you said you've been selling pickled stuff for a long while. And just now you said your customers would love if you started using these desert ingredients again, and that you used to use them all the time. Since you apparently love pickling so much, how is it you've forgotten how to find one of your most important ingredients?"
Ah, suspicions. But are they conducted for the thought of safety… or of jealousy?
Goh's eyes widen a little bit, looking to Kazeodori carefully. For a long moment, he just sort of stares, before a smile comes across his face. He then throws his head back to laugh loudly. "Haha! For a kid, you're pretty smart. You know that? Jeez, no wonder Itami is so invested." He rubs the back of his head. "Alright, I admit. I know where to find this particular herb." Goh points to the notepad.
"But I have a surprise waiting for you at the area, which is why I've brought you out." Goh's hands dig into his pockets, perhaps still impressed that Kazeodori figured it out so quick. "It's something that I've worked out with Itami, so there's no need for you to be concerned. But it was meant to be a shock-surprise. Now it's just going to be a regular surprise. You know, the one that you know is coming." Goh sort of takes the lead this time, beckoning for Kazeodori to follow them.
"Anyway, come on. I'd love to be back in the Village before lunch. That's when the sun really heats up!"
Kazeodori listens as Goh explains, and then watches as the man begins to walk away, the boy's face flat the entire while. It's not until the other is a few paces ahead that the realization of what was actually said crinkles through Kazeodori's brain. He smiles, his head still cocked to the side to the side to avoid the sun. Suddenly, he's bolting beside Goh, his injuries apparently lost in the wake of such youthful vigor.
"A surprise, huh? Like what? Oh! Is it a giraffe? I've always wanted to see a giraffe."
The boy looks up at Goh as the pair amble on.
"No, no, don't tell me!
The boy grins, turning his cheeks into apples.
"I do want it to be a surprise."
The boy is damn near skipping as he moves along beside Goh. Wasn't he grievously injured but a moment ago?
"Heh. I certainly hope that it's not a giraffe. Don't you think it would have struggled in the heat a little bit?" With Kazeodori bounding alongside him with sudden exuberance, the blonde does snicker a little bit. "Oi oi! Don't get yourself too excited, huh?" He intones with a short laugh. "Don't want you re-injuring yourself or anything!"
So the pair continue to trundle along the desert sands, eventually reaching what appears to be the destination. A simple cactus, stretching some four feet tall. Kazeodori's information is right, funnily enough. In the morning shadow, some small herbs can be seen just lightly breaking the surface. Crouching down, the wanderer brushes away some of surface sand. This in turn reveals the herb a bit more strongly. Pulling it out, Goh ensures to leave some of the seeds behind so it can grow again. He pockets it, before digging around for something else.
"Ah… here we are! Your super fun fun surprise. A book!" Goh muses, maybe thinking that it's not very fun at all. Putting his hand into the sand, not too far from where the herb just was, Goh withdraws a book of some sort. He hands it over to Kazeodori.
"You seemed to be keen on travelling, so here. This is a book that lists small locations around the world. What is safe, what isn't. Tips, tricks, things you should do in order to survive with no security to help you out. How to get into certain countries, all that jazz. Obviously you won't be travelling right now, but when you decide to go visit somewhere, could come in handy."
And with this, he stands up straight — dusting his hands. "Don't ask me how I got the book here."
Kazeodori's face alights. Probably because of the sun beaming down onto it, but, you know, certainly because of the gift as well.
"Oh, man, this is so cool!"
The boy simply stares at the cover for some time, now all tarnished with the grit and grip of sand, but glorious to behold nonetheless. The boy turns the book over in his hands, feels the weight, the stock of the pages, the tales held within. Without warning, the youth takes the book in one hand, and wraps both arms around Goh, firmly planting his head into the bottom of the man's chest. His words, much like his face, become mushed.
"Dhank you, Goh. Dhank you so mush."
The boy lingers a bit in the hug. As one might guess, there are myriad reasons for such a lengthy hug, but they might never illuminate the point that Kazeodori's father never allowed such displays of affection; never believed in the strength of love. Or maybe Goh seems more like an older brother, one which Kazeodori - as an only child - would never have known. Whatever the case, or whatever Goh wishes to believe, Kazeodori eventually pulls himself from, a smile spread along his face like heat through the day.
"Okay!" he shouts, thrusting the book into the sky.
"What else do we need?"
Kazeodori, having just been stabbed deeply in the thigh not but long ago, does not have the same balance as before, and when the ground rumbles and shakes enough to cause the nearby cactus to tremble, Kazeodori falls to the sand, the book tumbling from his hand.
"Oh no!" the boy shouts, though the exclamation comes as a more of declaration of what is not to happen rather than one of dismay. Swiftly, the youth shimmies across the sand, snatching the book up, and thrusting it into his robes. Deep, deep into his robes. Way down in there.
Kazeodori clambers to his feet, tightening the belt across his robes, his legs now spread wide, to hold his balance, his eyes alert, his muscles twitching.
"What was that?"
The boy looks around, noting how the disturbed area of sand is incredibly local, and that nowhere outside the pair's location are the golden grains disturbed. A pinch of fear clinches the corner of Kazeodori's mouth, for not but a short while ago was he savaged in such a desert, and in such a manner.
Goh looks around a moment, squinting once again. Trying to perhaps get a bearing of what's going on. Then in a sudden instant, he looks down into the ground. "…oh no." He breathes, looking over at Kazeodori. Who at this stage, is a little bit away from him since he went chasing that book. "Kazeo, watch your feet!"
In the next second, Kazeo is going to find himself in some serious trouble. For up from the very ground BENEATH him, erupts an epic sandworm. Easily fifteen feet in diameter. The very edge of its head could very well catch Kazeodori's feet, sending him spiralling backwards. Unless he reacts in time to avoid.
Meanwhile, the sandworm continues to stretch up into the sky, erupting from the ground. It must easily be fifty feet long, as the tail of the thing finally comes to vision, just as the worm turns around from its point in the sky and falls back towards the earth, SLAMMING into the dunes with a huge thud, shaking the environment much more.
The worm appears to have a circular mouth on the front, lined with razor sharp teeth. It's a soft peach colour, with dry looking skin covering it. It sort of writhes about, getting closer to the pair. "Kazeo! You alright?" Goh calls over, closing the distance between he and the Genin. Just as the worm looks poised to strike.
Kazeodori watched as the sand disintegrated beneath his feet, the sunny pebbles of minutiae disappearing into the void left by the start of the eruption of the sandworm. Kazeodori had only heard tales of these beasts, only had nightmares of them thrusting through the skies in the reach of such barbaric power that the boy often awoke once the beast swallowed him whole. And the sandworm always won.
The Genin blinks into reactionary mode, however, as the sand beneath his very feet gives way to the mouth of the sandworm as it climbs its way into the atmosphere. With a flicker and a blink, the youth finds himself away from the collapsing sand, safe from at least the initial efforts of the creature.
"Goh!" the boy shouts, looking towards the other. Only recently had Kazeodori been attacked in the desert, and though the opponent is different, the fear is much the same. The boy's eyes are wide, scared, white in the sun like desert bones. One hand reaches for the man-of-so-many-pickled-things, but the boy's feet don't move. He is now too awed by the gigantic, wriggling, razor-teethed sandworm lumbering its way towards him.
Grasping for Kazeodori and pulling him by his side, Goh appears to size up the giant sandworm in front of them. The panic in Kazeo's eye is noted, though the pickler can hardly blame him. If this keeps up, then the poor kid might be too scared to venture off into the wilderness again!
"Relax, Kazeo. I've dealt with far worse enemies before. Just hold on, alright?" Goh appears calm and collected. He doesn't shiver, nor is he tense. In fact, there might almost be a grin on his face there. "I should have known. These sandworms love the herbs that I just got. But they don't eat them. You know why?" He queries, as the worm appears to slither closer. "Because when they come up to get them, they get the cactus too. It obviously hurts their stomach. So they wait for another animal to pick it, and then go after the animal." He peers down at Kazeo. "It's in the book, actually."
"Anyway — enough chat. Let's go. Hang on tight!" Taking a bit of his thumb, Goh flies through a set of handseals before thrusting his palm into the ground. A huge puff of smoke appears, and only moments later, the pair will find themselves rushing UP through the air! For now, both Goh and Kazeodori, stand ontop of the head of a huge Salamander. Wanryo.
Wanryo A stands at perhaps fifteen meters tall and twenty-five long. Although his eyes are quite small, Wanryo has a very large mouth that could easily eat a group of men in a single swallow. It has stable legs, although the sheer girth of his body would suggest that it moves far more comfortably in the water than it does on the ground. At least for long periods of time. The tail swirls about, keeping him on balance when he's on his legs.
At least the sandworm seems to be a bit more intimidated, judging by the fact that it has halted.
Goh's rambling speech about plants and herbs and sandworms and yadda yadda brings Kazeodori quite a slice of calm. Though the boy doesn't ascertain the particulars of what Goh was saying, the fact that the man himself is so tranquil and talkative allows the boy to assume that he is not very much concerned. This is greatly reiterated when, upon the minute puff of smoke ascending, the pair are rocketed into the sky, to find themselves atop a tremendous salamander. It seems too that the sandworm is intimidated by the sheer volume of the amphibian, for the beast is no small potato, even when compared with the thrashing, gigantic worm.
"How many of these do you have?!"
Kazeodori, it would appear, is awed not by just the size of the salamander, but also by the seemingly inexhaustible number of them that Goh has. If anything, the boy is now more enamored of the fact that the man can have so many pets rather than by pets themselves. But such a time - as the lad eyes the sandworm, still so large, still so menacing in the heat of the afternoon and amongst the glisten of curling sand - is not a time for a lack of focus. That's how you get kunai plunged into the thigh.
"A few." Goh comments simply. "You should see Igneel, the bos Salamander. He's… well, maybe I can introduce you guys sometimes. His head is pretty much as big as Wanryo here. And he flies. More like a dragon, really." He shrugs.
"Here we go!"
And just like that, Wanryo takes a galliant step forward, digging heels into the sand. The epic mouth of this creature opens, and out spits a torrent of water. A huge flume of liquid that races for the worm. The worm however, appears to at least predict that an attack was coming — diving back underneath the sand just in time to avoid the assault.
As such, the water attack misses — hitting one of the dunes. Of course, given the sheer enormity of the attack, the liquid pretty much melts the dune and creates a small lake. It seems that a battle of this size is going to change the landscape. Not that it seems to bother Goh, who is looking at the ground far below them. He then looks up into the sky. "Get a kunai out, Kazeo. Actually, two of them. Throw one in the direction of 2 O'clock in a flatline on my mark. The other at 4 o'clock."
It seems the playful manner of Goh is gone, replaced by someone of authority. Though it's not really demanding. Just a casual request, as it were.